Patrick Barkham on the Sheffield Street Trees Campaign as Richard Hawley and others make their mark

Patrick Barkham on the Sheffield Street Trees Campaign – from The Guardian  Tuesday 24th January – as Richard Hawley and others make their mark



Richard Hawley speak out both pithily and with passion, but shies away from the idea of being a celebrity campaigner – and I understand why.

It is interesting, I think, how people can pigeon-hole you. I wrote an environmental and conservation text called ‘Eco-history – an introduction to biodiversity and conservation‘ and it had favourable reviews though one eminent American scholar described it as ‘profoundly depressing’!

An on-line Amazon reviewer (Mr or Ms Verified Purchaser) seemed to miss some key links between the images and the text, and for example, the need to cite other people’s work but not necessarily your own previously unpublished writing. An issue with such reviews is that you have no right to reply or to explain – although another more kindly reviewer wrote that it is ‘a very useful introduction- should be taken up by a bigger publisher‘, so thank you Alistair for a very perceptive comment!

However, what struck me were two comments from Mr or Ms Verified Purchaser. Firstly, and this is the good news, I am apparently,  ‘a well respected academic‘ so that is an unexpected turn-up!  However, the key issue for me was the second point where  the writing was described as ‘….much verging on the polemic‘. So, as am academic (and let’s be reminded, one who is well-respected), I am not supposed to have a view or to care! As an environmental campaigner and conservationist, I do feel strongly and indeed passionately about these issues and the current situation is not good – from the Tory-led coalition, to Theresa May’s government, to Brexit and Donald Trump, I suggest there is good reason to be ‘polemic‘.

Oh, and according to that richly accessible source Wikipedia, this is what being polemic means – in case you wondered…..  

A polemic (/pəˈlɛmɪk/) is contentious rhetoric that is intended to support a specific position. Polemics are mostly seen in arguments about controversial topics. The practice of such argumentation is called polemics. A person who often writes polemics, or who speaks polemically, is called a polemicist.[1] The word is derived from Greek πολεμικός (polemikos), meaning “warlike, hostile”,[1][2] from πόλεμος (polemos), meaning “war”.[3]

Polemics often concern issues in religion or politics. A polemic style of writing was common in Ancient Greece, as in the writings of the historian Polybius. Polemic again became common in medieval and early modern times. Since then, famous polemicists have included the satirist Jonathan Swift, the socialist philosopher Karl Marx, the novelist George Orwell and the linguist Noam Chomsky.

Well, to me, that looks reasonable and like I am in good company!!




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1 Response to Patrick Barkham on the Sheffield Street Trees Campaign as Richard Hawley and others make their mark

  1. Technotronic says:

    Without extremes, there would be no centre. 😉

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