Saturday, July 12, 2008

Could we dispense with the word "tsar"?

Naturally, I do not mean that people who write about Russian history should not use that word when describing the ruler of Russia before 1917. It is even allowed to refer to the great democrat Vladimir Putin as “tsar”, particularly if it is done in quotation marks, as he has arrogated himself a great deal of the old rulers’ power. (His successor, Medvedev, known by Russians as Putin’s mishka, i.e. teddy bear, seems to be determined to hang on to that power.)

What I have in mind is people no longer using that word when yet another outside expert is appointed to solve some big problem or another. Well, actually, I am against the appointment of outside experts to positions of power in order to solve some political problem, anyway, but to call such experts “tsars” is ridiculous. Do our politicians know so little history that they cannot even recall what happened to the last Tsar?

I am afraid, Iain Dale, whose blog I read every day, has come up with the most bizarre title on that subject: “Why David Davis won’t be a Liberty Tsar”. The piece is all about David Davis not intending to accept a position on the Conservative front bench that would make him a “civil liberties tsar”. A most extraordinary combination of words.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"but to call such experts “tsars” is ridiculous"

Isn't that the whole point?