Monday, April 18, 2016

George Monbiot: a Quiz.

Lately -- most unusually, given my naturally bubbly personality -- I've been in a rather brooding mood. Against my first reaction -- to write an equally somber post -- I decided to propose readers a little trivia game, similar to those played at pubs or TV shows.

Below there are some recent George Monbiot quotes, paired with quotes from other authors. Unfortunately, I forgot Who wrote What and When.

Can you help me out?

Your challenge -- should you accept it -- shall be to determine the authorship of the quotes (10 points for each right answer) and the years (100 points ea) they appeared.

First pair:

A: "We appear to accept the proposition that this utopian, millenarian faith describes a neutral force; a kind of biological law, like Darwin's theory of evolution."

B: "They [i.e. 'nineteenth-century free traders'] believed, further, that they were serving, not merely the survival of the economically fittest, but the great cause of liberty, of freedom for personal initiative and individual gift, the cause of inventive art and the glorious fertility of the untrammelled mind against the forces of privilege and monopoly and obsolescence."

Second pair:

C: "The masters, being fewer in number, can combine much more easily; and the law, besides, authorizes, or at least does not prohibit their combinations, while it prohibits those of the workmen. We have no acts of Parliament against combining to lower the price of work; but many against combining to raise it."

D: "The organisation of labour and collective bargaining by trade unions are portrayed as market distortions that impede the formation of a natural hierarchy of winners and losers."

Third pair:

E: "The poverty of the incapable, the distresses that come upon the imprudent, the starvation of the idle, and those shoulderings aside of the weak by the strong, which leave so many 'in shallows and in miseries,' are the decrees of a large, far-seeing benevolence."

F: "Never mind structural unemployment: if you don't have a job it's because you are unenterprising. Never mind the impossible costs of housing: if your credit card is maxed out, you're feckless and improvident. Never mind that your children no longer have a school playing field: if they get fat, it's your fault. In a world governed by competition, those who fall behind become defined and self-defined as losers."

Fourth pair:

G: "For my own part, I believe that there is social and psychological justification for significant inequalities of incomes and wealth, but not for such large disparities as exist today. There are valuable human activities which require the motive of money-making and the environment of private wealth-ownership for their full fruition."

H: "Inequality is recast as virtuous: a reward for utility and a generator of wealth, which trickles down to enrich everyone."

In every pair, one quote is old, the other is modern and Monbiot wrote it. Which is which? Who wrote A, B, C, D, E, F, G, and H? When were the old quotes written?

Okay, a hint to facilitate your task: all authors are British. Answers in the next post.


  1. A: Monbiot
    B: Keynes, 1933
    C: Smith, 1776
    D: Monbiot
    E: Spencer, 1851
    F: Monbiot
    G: Keynes, 1935
    H: Monbiot

  2. 100%! Congratulations, Tao.

    Next time you come to Oz I'll be glad to shout the beers until either we drop to the floor or are kicked out of the pub, whichever happens first. :-)