Conrad Black’s Invective: The Word “Bourgeois”

Last week, Conrad Black asked BBC host Jeremy Paxman to stop his “bourgeois priggishness.” Paxman had called him a criminal. Black commended himself for not smashing Paxman’s face in.

Baron Black of Crossharbour, himself until recently a commoner, is perfectly justified to call anybody not in the House of Lords any name his wishes to make his polemical points. But it is unlikely that he meant Paxman was not his social equal. Surely he meant that Paxman was smug, shallow, dreary, complacent, conformist, a man who would believe anything. And was puritanical to boot. “Priggish” was the word he used.

Conrad Black may be greatly attracted to the idea, common in Europe in the 19th and early 20th century and hugely flattering to the image he no doubt has of himself, that the bourgeoisie gives artists and writers with God-given talents permission to live above the law specifically in matters of money. (Also in matters of love, but that does not apply to Conrad Black.)

Those who are not willing to give them that permission – men like Jeremy Paxman – are in his opinion philistines.

The prime example is Richard Wagner. By reason of his extraordinary gifts, he was sometimes forgiven for stealing another man’s wife, in one case even by the betrayed husband. A “genius” was also forgiven – and this may apply to Conrad Black – for not thinking it absolutely necessary always to pay his debts. Fortunately, at critical moments, Richard Wagner was helped out by the romantic (and mad) King Ludwig II of Bavaria.

One wonders if the Baron of Crossharbour is waiting for his prince to come. If he is allowed to resume his seat in the House of Lords his chances will no doubt be much improved.

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5 responses to “Conrad Black’s Invective: The Word “Bourgeois”

  1. David Schatzky

    Mr. Black’s princes have come and gone, In the past he has enjoyed the friendship of the powerful in the highest of places. Why did they back away from him? Surely not halitosis. But some who stopped talking to him at the height of his legal troubles have mysteriously kissed and made up. Henry Kissinger, for example.
    ……………………………………………………………………………………………………..
    Black’s media appearances these days – it would seem – are not working in his favour. Mr. Black would be well-advised to abandon bombast and denial, lest he be abandoned completely. Even if restored to the House of Lords, it is likely he will be a lonely figure.

  2. Elisabeth Ecker

    I am starting to enjoy Konrad Black. There are so many boring people and he is not one of them, besides he is eloquent about the dysfunctional legal and penal system in the United States. He might do some good there.

  3. Let us not forget that Lord Black is involved in that most vulgar of activities — a book tour.
    In that context, we will also remember that “There is no such thing as bad publicity” (attributed to P.T. Barnum) “except your own obituary” (added by Brenda Behan).

  4. That would be Brendan Behan, of course. I don’t recall anything notable from Brenda. Sorry about that.

  5. Michael Gundy

    His Lordship is correct about not getting a fair trial in the U.S of A. Tilted: The Trial of Conrad Black by Toronto lawyer Steven Skurka proves that point. Lord Tubby has always lacked a sense of healthy caution, preferring to fall back on bullying, bombast and guile. His 1981 attempt to takeover Hanna Mining and subsequent SEC fine and warning placed him on the SEC radar screen. Eventually, if he continued to play in the United States, they would get him somehow.

    That being said, I still find grumpy old polemicists rather boring.