Friday, June 27, 2008

The Surge And The Vision Thing

In a commentary in today's 'Times' entitled, 'Cheer up. We're winning this War on Terror', Gerard Baker writes that "(t)he third and perhaps most significant advance of all in the War on Terror is the discrediting of the Islamist creed and its appeal. "
Obviously, all people of goodwill should hope that this is the case - however, and unfortunately, I'll believe it when I see it.
The 'surge' in Iraq has, with respect to all concerned, done nothing but pacify bits of that country for a while. Iraq's induced instability will demand the presence of foreign troops for years, if not decades, to come.
The surge could only ever provide a breathing space to allow Iraq's government to perform its functions in some kind of order. Being military in character, it can do nothing but perform military functions. By and of itself, it cannot kill Islamism; for Islamism promises Heaven, a claim never made by either Nazism or Communism.
No strategy exists for defeating Islamism in the wider world; none can exist within the framework of democracy and consensus, philosophies which are explicitly inclusive in character. This will be about the billionth time this has been said since September 11, 2001; but violence performed because of belief in religion cannot be successfully answered by the irreligious. I abhor violence, and hate it with a passion; but my duty to love my neighbour as I love myself does not mean that does not mean that I have to love what he believes. When you believe that killing yourself and others will bring you an eternal reward, why hold out for the old-age pension?
The elites say that Islam is a religion of peace; it's history shows that it is not. Accordingly, Islamist terrorism is the stone with which non-Islamist civilisation will have to live with in its shoe for as long as that civilisation endures. Quite rightly, we do not wish to become oppressors; perhaps we should just learn to live with the counter-oppression we must suffer as a consequence.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Hope

Regardless of how poorly you are doing, how bad the breaks you have caught, there is always someone worse off than yourself.
Yesterday, I stumbled into the funeral of a young man who had died of leukaemia aged 21. No matter how severe my mobility difficulties or how badly my other motor skills are impaired, I've never had to bear that burden, thank God - so hope of improvement must be hoped, otherwise hope is mocked and a 'Closed' sign might as well be put over human affairs.
The people of Zimbabwe don't need military intervention to rid them of Mugabe. They don't need the cancellation of cricket tours. What they need is hope. Our hopelessly mismanaged world, with all its shabby deals and tatty compromises, seems unable to offer it to them.
Mugabe seems like just another nasty old man, like so many others throughout history. Sooner or later, he'll be dead. It might only be at that point that the Zimbabweans' prospects will improve. Until then, and as terrible as it seems, perhaps the best we can do is hope that the Zimbabweans keep their hope. Even if it's only the kind of desperate hope that comes from being constantly poor and hungry, it's to be hoped that their hope is never broken or crushed.
Hope is profoundly human. It requires the self-awareness to conclude that situations are capable of improvement, and that bad times don't last forever - even for those whose burden it is to live and die at the whim of others.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Misunderestimating History

Several days ago, the historian Andrew Roberts published a commentary in 'The Daily Telegraph' entitled 'History will say that we misunderestimated George W Bush' (hat tip Neil Clark).
Although the piece makes no bones of its partisanship, Mr. Roberts makes, to this reader's eyes, what seems to be a critical error concerning issues of scale.
He wrote,
"The number of American troops killed and wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan is equivalent to the losses they endured - for a nation only a little over half the size in the mid-Forties - capturing a single island from the Japanese in the Pacific War.

British losses of 103 killed over seven years in Afghanistan bears comparison to a quiet weekend on the Western Front in the Great War, or the numbers the Army loses in traffic accidents in peacetime. History can lend a wider overall perspective to what are nonetheless, of course, immeasurably sad events."
One would never cavil with Mr. Roberts's scholarship; but is grossly disingenuous to compare casualties sustained by armies engaged in pitched battles with other armies, engagements that often endured for months, with casualties sustained in what have always been hit-and-run insurgencies. He is comparing casualties sustained in one type of war with those sustained in another. This is nothing but a kind of intellectual cement to hold his argument together. It crumbles and fails, for it adds nothing to his case that history will ultimately view George W. Bush's leadership of the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan favourably.
The claim is as overblown as those of the original antiwar activists who claimed that Baghdad would be another Stalingrad. This did not happen - while they helped prop up an extremely unpleasant regime, the Ba'athist military were not suicidal. They had recent experience of a war of attrition, and might not have cared not to repeat it. Alternatively, they were capable of the perfectly rational assessment that they stood no chance in an open conflict with an incomparably better resourced military such as that of the United States.
By the same token, it should have been within the vision of those responsible for planning the invasion that this could have been a strategy that the Iraqis could have adopted. This did not seem to happen - and Mr. Roberts therefore has no real gounds upon which to praise an outcome, what he describes as relatively light causalties, when this seems to have had relatively little to do with any active plans made by those whom he praises.
Also, it is telling that Mr. Roberts relies upon criticising the stock characters of history - the state, the terrorist group - in support of his case for 'The War on Terror' without once mentioning the religious ideology to which it is a reaction; Islamic jihadism. The first cannot be praised without full consideration of whether the second has been impaired. That converts to Islam are still trying to blow themselves up in West Country coffee shops indicates that although the jihadists/terrorists have been impeded in one place does not mean that the overall effort has been a universal success. It would be very interesting to see what analysis that Mr. Roberts might have to make of this aspect of the 'war' on the 'West'; one might be doing him a great dis-service, but I fear we might be waiting a very long time for it.
History's the ultimate long-term business. We are still in the early days of a clash of civilisations which, on bleaker days, I can see continuing for the rest of my lifetime. Only when that particular dust has settled will it be possible to make an objective critique of George W. Bush. Mr. Roberts shouldn't really be jumping the gun.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The True Creatives

I'm re-reading William Goldman's 'Which Lie Did I Tell?' at the moment.
Goldman, and all those he discusses, are those blessed with it - the ability to create. You can't buy it, you can't grow it - you've either got it or you haven't. I wish I did.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The First Immigrationists

According to VDare, a 'Wall Street Journal' writer named Jason Riley has written an immigrationist tract entitled 'Let Them In'.
In a radio debate on Riley's book, Michael Medved apparently demanded that the guest presenting the restrictionist case explain whether she thought "there is something wrong with Hispanic culture?"
The products of Hispanic culture include fatal machismo and narcocorridos; and it is difficult to see any difference between the thinking behind Medved's demand and the statements of Salvian of Marseilles concerning "the chastity of the Vandals, the piety of the Goths, and the ruder virtues of the Franks, the Saxons, and the other tribes to whom, though heretic Arians or unbelievers, God is giving in reward the inheritance of the empire".
By the same token, the demand by one culture's elite that all cultures be considered equally meritorious would also have been familiar to Orosius. If he were alive today, Orosius would be a leader writer for the 'Wall Street' Journal; if only for his observation on life in the western Roman Empire's barbarian-era rump that "(i)f the unhappy people they have despoiled will content themselves with the little that is left them, their conquerors will cherish them as friends and brothers".
Of course, Orosius was writing before economic theory decreed that immigration is not a zero-sum game - but whatever.
A question that keeps coming back from all this is, just what is a civilised man to do when, for whatever reason, his civilisation meets its end times? Is he to seek the guidance of the ancients? Pray? Dig a bunker?
Or maybe try and stop it? Like Ian McEwan?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

3001

This is post number 3,001 to have appeared on this blog.
Whether regular readers drop by to be entertained, stimulated or enraged, my thanks to you all. Your continued reading has made the process of compiling it worthwhile.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Charity Paradox

A financier named Chris Hohn, described by the Daily Telegraph as having 'a reputation for being aggressive and ruthless with the management of the companies he invests in', has apparently made the UK's largest ever donation to charity.
Government is aggressive and ruthless in taking from private citizens; Mr. Hohn is reported to be aggressive and ruthless in the management of the assets under his control. Therefore, what is the moral difference between government's redistribution of wealth and Mr. Hohn's philanthropy? None, as far as I can see - both have been made possible by the use of aggression and ruthlessness.

Foreign Criminals - The Import Nobody Needs

Not having written a 'Foreign Criminal Of The Day' entry for over a year doesn't mean reports still don't catch the attention.
If the Slovakian suspected of murdering Moira Jones is guilty, then Ms. Jones will join Jeshma Raithatha and Hayley Richards in the ranks of British women who have been murdered because they have encountered men who have only been in the United Kingdom because of ideologically-driven open immigration policies which have benefited businesses more than they have citizens. The New Labour movement which was the author of all this already has the blood of at least two women on its hands - and nobody in office ever seems to feel it necessary to apologise, explain or make amends.
Recently, Scotland seems to have experienced a series of serious sex offences perpetrated by Africans. In April, Hissein Atie was convicted of sodomy and indecent assault. Yesterday, a Somali bail-bandit named Abdalla Ali Hemed was convicted of two rapes. No matter the reason why these men were in the country, their actions after they were admitted proved them to be unworthy recipients of our asylum; for giving shelter to a refugee is pointless if your home becomes a more dangerous place because of it.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Justifying Killing Women (For The Purposes Of Equal Opportunities)

A writer named Cassandra Jardine, whose previous output appears to have concentrated on parenting and lifestyle issues, has published a piece in today's 'Telegraph' entitled 'Mourn Sarah Bryant as a soldier, not a woman'.
Taken to its logical conclusion, this statement makes the intellectual demand that Rin Tin Tin should be considered an actor and not a dog, and that Cheeta should be considered a skilled comic foil and not a chimpanzee. Mrs. Bryant's death has assumed public significance because of both her profession and her gender. The two cannot be separated - if we mourn the soldier, we must also mourn the woman.
Ms. Jardine writes,
"The sight of Sarah Bryant's bare shoulders in her wedding dress is almost unbearably poignant. Two years ago, she was a glowing bride; now the 26-year-old is wearing a body bag, having been blown up when her Land Rover was hit by an explosion on Tuesday afternoon. The grief of the family and friends who knew and loved her is no more intense because she happened to be young, blonde and pretty, but inevitably - sentimentally, perhaps - those attributes affect the rest of us, including those who worked with her."
Even in these debased times, the second sentence in that paragraph is so bereft of good taste that it has no place in a national newspaper. Ms. Jardine continues,
"Male soldiers serving with Sgt Bryant have, say sources on the ground, been rocked by her death. It has stopped them in their tracks, made them question their enthusiasm for the dangerous task they face, and feel extra protective of the other women serving alongside them"
So men in danger seek to protect the women who associate with them. This is a good thing - it is heartening to see that common humanity and natural imperatives survive in conditions so difficult as Afghanistan's front line. However, if the statement is true then the presence of women in combat areas is proven to be a liability - male soldiers may expose themselves and be exposed to risks which would be avoidable if women were not there, causing an inevitable increase in the casualty rate. Ms. Jardine goes on,
"Her death will naturally revive those old arguments about whether women are suited to the battlefield. It is always so when something happens for the first time and Sgt Bryant is the first woman to die in the British Armed Forces in Afghanistan.

But, before we dust off the debate that the 18,000 women serving in the forces thought had been laid to rest, we should perhaps note that none of those close to Sarah have, even in the depths of their sorrow, suggested that her gender should be treated as an issue."
That an argument is old does not make it bad; and although her family might have made no comment upon the role her gender (and policy towards it) played in her death, Mrs. Bryant's wages were paid by the general taxpayer - whose views are as germane to whether women should serve in combat roles as those of anyone else. Ms. Jardine continues,
"Sarah Bryant knew the risks she was taking. She was a highly educated Pashtu-speaking member of the Intelligence Corps. From her schooldays, she had wanted to join the Army. At the time, no doubt, many well-meaning men in her circle attempted to dissuade her, but she made her choice. Long before she started on this, her third tour of duty in a conflict zone, she knew that her chosen career was not going to be all about joshing in the mess, but it was the work she loved."
To know the risks that you are taking does not, by itself, justify that those risks be taken. One of the reasons the armed forces have chains of command is to ensure that there is clear responsibility for the taking of risks. She goes on,

"Women are still barred from many frontline positions in the Armed Forces, for their own safety and in order not to compromise men's willingness to fight, but that doesn't ensure their safety. The danger these days lies not just in hand-to-hand fighting, but in simply being there. Almost every one of those, male and female, to have died in recent years in both Iraq and Afghanistan have been killed by roadside bombs, ambushes, snipers and attacks on helicopters. Anyone who needs to move around is equally susceptible."
What solution would Ms. Jardine propose? That as it impossible to shield women from all the perils of Fourth Generation Warfare, they should be sent to front line roles to join in the fighting? If it is dangerous for women simply to 'be there', is it simplistic to suggest that the answer to this problem is for them not be there in the first place? Ms. Jardine continues,
"Such equality as women currently enjoy in both the British and the US armed forces has been hard-fought for. Despite widespread reservations, the changes introduced in the Nineties that allowed women for the first time to work alongside men have been unqualified successes."
The battle for gender equality is thus revealed to be, quite literally, a battle to the death. Although women committed suicide for the suffrage, it was only right that all women should be considered members of the body politic. While women could vote but not serve in frontline roles, it would seem that they had the best of all possible orlds - they had a say in the conduct of policy without being called upon to execute it. What those 'hard-fought' 'unqualified successes' lauded by Ms. Jardine actually seem to amount to is that the deaths of women in the service of the state are considered to be just as necessary and desirable as those of men - the same mindset that killed Sharon Beshinivsky, and which makes a mockery of every policy intended to deter domestic violence. If we do not expect British women to be safe from harm under wartime conditions, why should we expect them to be safe under any other circumstances?
Ms. Jardine continues,
"The idea of putting the clock back to the days when women could only serve as nurses, cooks or drivers is unthinkable. It would also be the last thing that either Sarah Bryant, or the five women who have been killed in Iraq, would wish to be their legacy."
One would have thought it impossible for Ms. Jardine to make that statement without canvassing the ladies in question; which is now impossible, of course. She concludes,
"But that should not mean that the emotions aroused by her huge smile and ringlets should be shrugged off. Her death matters. So do those of the three men with her in the ill-fated Land Rover: Sean Reeve, Richard Larkin and Paul Stout. Two of them were fathers of young children."
Indeed. Two families have lost a father because those responsible for directing British policy have allowed us to become entangled in a war they seem to have no will to win, in a theatre where the chances of success can only be described as mixed. It would be better if 'we' were not there, and a giant cordon sanitaire built around Afghanistan in order to limit the damage that those who live in that nation seem to wish to visit upon other nations. That will never happen, so the best thing we can do is get out and make sure the dead's survivors are handsomely provided for. It is the least we can do, considering they lost their loved ones on a fool's errand. She continues,

"In a week when Gordon Brown has announced the commitment of more troops to Afghanistan, it is important to be reminded that every death is terrible."
On that at least, Ms. Jardine and I are in agreement.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

A Plea For Values

The death of any young person, in whatever circumstances, should be considered tragic. The death of 26 year old Sarah Bryant on active service in Afghanistan is doubly so.
Women, young British women, should not fight wars. A bride two years ago, Sgt. Bryant will now be buried in the church in which she was married. Her father, Mr. Des Feely, has my deepest condolences on his loss - yet although he has said that she was 'living her dream', one wonders whether he really believes that his daughter's dream was worth dying for.
A society that sends its womenfolk to do the work of its men is one which is profoundly corrupt. This writer would prefer that teenage male convicts be conscripted into the armed services before a single woman is sent on active duty. No nation that fails to honour its women by doing its utmost to keep them safe from harm can be considered a nation of men.
It might be said that this is discriminatory and unfair. So what? Biology heaps the most savage discrimination upon human beings at the point of their conception. It is in that instant that God or nature decides whether a person will be either male or female. Life begins with an act of gender discrimination; in most cases, human beings will not fail to perform the roles in which they have been cast by a hand other than their own. Why should we seek to reverse those roles at a later date, and for entirely unconnected purposes?
It would be better, and more wholesome, for Afghanistan to be left to the Taliban than for a single British woman to lose her life in its defence. Defending ourselves would then require rather more robust and creative policies towards the question of security than the nation's men have seemed able to provide thus far. It would make our politicians do something to which they seem to have no natural inclination, that is, to face reality; and we would be a better people for it.

The Dead Duck

It is sad to see such an intelligent and accomplished man as Timothy Garton Ash trying to glue together a liferaft for the Lisbon Treaty from the wreckage of Ireland's rejection of it, rather than just acknowledging that the Lisbon process should be considered finished.
Perhaps the liferaft should be named 'The Dead Duck'.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Coming Disintegration Of The European Union

Sorry to harp on about Polly Toynbee's grandfather, but I've just finished reading the abridgement of Arnold J. Toynbee's 'A Study of History' that I mentioned some time back.
As it progressed, it reaffirmed my initial impression that the European Union now possesses all of the elements which Toynbee indicated are present in a society on the slide.
At both the British and European levels, we are governed by a 'dominant minority' which has become increasingly authoritarian - just as Toynbee indicated had happened in other, now dead civilisations. Nationally, we see this authoritarianism in any number of areas, from the rush to allow terror suspects to be detained for 42 days to the increasingly frantic range of policy initiatives to curb previously acceptable behaviours such as smoking and drinking. At the European level, we can see this authoritarianism in some Eurocrats' very negative attitude to Ireland's rejection of the Lisbon Treaty.
We possess both internal and external proletariats. Both proletariats consider themselves to be 'in' but not 'of' the civilisation. Our internal proletariat can be seen everywhere, tuned into their iPods with a bottle at their lips. Since the publication of Somervell's abridgment in 1946, we have seen in spades one particular process that Toynbee alleged to be a marker of decline; the dominant minority's adoption of the internal proletariat's ways and the social acceptance of that practice. Whether it's been Sir Mick Jagger, the old boy of Dartford Grammar School and alumnus of the London School of Economics who made his fortune singing about sexual problems, or Prince Harry, late of Eton and Boujis, stumbling out of the pub in his cups, examples abound. 'It's A Royal Knockout' was not quite as bloodthirsty as the adoption of the gladiator lifestyle by Commodus, but on one level there is no absolutely difference between them.
The great 'Volkerwanderung' of the past 20 years has imported an external proletariat, some of whom, such as the 7/7 and 21/7 bombers, have behaved just as the previous external proletariats Toynbee described had done - they have become barbarian war-bands.
Lastly, we have a universal state, the European Union. As Toynvbee indicated, the universal state tends to rise at the end of a 'time of troubles'. While Toynbee correctly pegged the beginning of Europe's time of troubles as the French Revolutionary Wars, history ran away him from at the end of World War Two, and the time of troubles did not come to an end until the Cold War reached its conclusion. In the sort of timescales which Toynbee discusses, it is astonishing that the EU should have both risen and then found itself on the road to falling apart within dates so close to each other - but that's the way it's going.
How can we tell this? Well, in the penultimate sentence of the book, Toynbee wrote,
"As differentiation is the mark of growth, so standardisation is the mark of disintegration".
Yes, folks, standardisation will be the EU's doom. All that men and women of goodwill have to do is wait, and the EU will finish itself, its corpse rolling down the curve of a standardised banana.

The Thoughts Of Mary Honeyball

The negative and intemperate comments made by London MEP Mary Honeyball concerning the role of Catholicism in the British and European public squares may have caused Conor McGinn to resign as vice-chairman of Young Labour; however, they don't bother me very much.
At this point in my life, I draw a lot of assistance from religious belief, and acknowledge that, although I might think that the world would be a better place if there were more Christianity about, some people feel that it's not for them - perhaps others have not been as fortunate as me. An integral part of this assistance is the understanding that Catholicism is bigger than any idea that its opponents have ever been able to think up, and will keep going regardless of what they say or do. Protestantism didn't kill it; the French Revolution didn't kill it; Communism didn't kill it; the Third Reich didn't kill it; so Ms. Honeyball and those who share her beliefs aren't going to kill it or even hurt it. In the long run, what Mary Honeyball thinks about Catholicism will disrupt neither the church nor its works, so there's really no point in breaking sweat about what she thinks or says.
The difficulty arises in treating such comments as a dog whistle issue demanding an angry reaction. In truth, I'm more surprised by the reaction of Jim Dobbin MP to Ms. Honeyball's remarks than the remarks themselves. It would have been better not to react at all than to reinforce the impression that Catholics regard themselves as just another demographic to be pandered to. We're not - we should think of ourselves as children of God and British citizens, as the first endowed with great gifts, and as the second endowed with inalienable rights. We are a church, not a pressure group. Reactions like those which Mr. Dobbin has expressed only play into the hands of those who think, as Ms. Honeyball seems to do, that 'the people', whoever they might be, are a god, and that democracy is the altar at which they worship. We can draw some consolation from noting that Ms. Honeyball's comments seem to indicate that her conception of the divine 'people' is fluid and changeable. Not very catholic at all.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Hope I Die Before I Get Old

There can surely be nothing more tragic than to be old, alone and dependent upon the kindness of strangers. It is with shame and regret that I remember that, for the last nine months of her life, I worked no more than two minutes walk away from my late great-aunt's flat, and never once went to see her. Aunty was not alone, of course - my father and uncle provided a level of care and attention second to none - but I know that I could have done more for her than I did.
Having been an altar boy, I've lost count of the numbers of funerals I've attended where it was just me, the priest and the stiff. Recently, I was at a funeral Mass where it was announced that the deceased's children were both expats. While one cannot tar all expats with the same brush, does the desire to make a better life abroad supercede the duty to care for an elderly parent? I don't know, and wouldn't like to press myself for an answer in the quiet of the night.
How a society treats its most vulnerable, its young and its elderly, is the mark of whether it is truly civilised. What is alleged against these two companies is that they have commodified the elderly, ancient humanity turned into an asset on a balance sheet to be utilised to its maximum efficiency; even if that means that they have to sleep on soiled beds. If true, this is not just an outrage, but a sin - the sin of disrespect.
However, the laxity and unpleasantness that we show towards the elderly manifests itself in different ways. We now seem to have no compunction about warehousing them in often substandard 'sheltered housing', ensuring that the question of their ability to pay for the services they consume will still dominate the lives of old men and women up to the very end.
Today's 'Telegraph' carries an item on how the nation's more affluent elderly can retire abroad. If you both live long enough and acquire sufficient resources to be able to consider retiring abroad, then good on you - but one cannot help but think that schemes such as that outlined in the 'Telegraph' are motivated by a malevolent Malthusianism which sees the elderly as surplus to requirements, and best papped off elsewhere; preferably at no expense to anyone.
Treatment of the elderly, your father and mother, is a conservative issue. If the conservative does not honour his father and mother, he can't expect anyone else to. By turning our old people into assets, or in neglecting them, we devalue ourselves -our own flesh has no worth if we don't honour, love, respect and care for the flesh from which we came.
Of course, I hope I don't 'die before I get old' - given that he is now aged 63, I don't think the guy who wrote those words does either - but I wouldn't ever want to be old and want to die because of others' neglect. No matter how many and varied the changes to their world that they've seen over the course of their lifetimes, one wonders just how many British old folks go to sleep at night not wanting to wake up, because they're poorly cared for. There might be more of them than we like to imagine.
Remember them.

Scotland And Alcohol

There is always hope - or there should always be hope - but one can see no solution to Scotland's national drink problem.
We just drink too much. It'll never change.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Censored Internet - Three Years Ahead Of The Game

Devil's Kitchen has pointed out that Marianne Mikko, apparently a left wing Member of the European Parliament from Estonia, wishes to curtail blogging.
The first time I wrote about the possibility of an event such as this was over three years ago. It gives me no satisfaction to see that that particular prediction might now come true.
One very local point of interest arises immediately from DK's post. Estonia is the type of small country that the Scottish Nationalist Party lauds as an exemplar of the type of prosperous nation that an independent Scotland would become. At the moment, Alex Salmond is showing more interest in antiquarian mysteries about bits of rock than in governing Scotland. If he's being clever, he may be trying to create a modern Scottish equivalent of the common 'King in the mountain' myth, which attaches in various forms to such persons as Arthur and Frederick Barbarossa. Perhaps he's suggesting that Scotland will only be free once the 'real' Stone of Scone is found, as if the people and events of Scottish history were the backdrop to an Indiana Jones movie.
On the other hand, perhaps he's suggesting that if the Stone of Scone that was returned north by the Tartan tart Lord Forsyth of Drumlean has always been a fake, then Scotland has always been 'free', never having surrendered the principal symbol of its statehood - and that the Union does not exist.
Whatever his motives, he never does or says anything to quell my fears that an independent Scotland would lapse into the lack of liberty which prevailed in this place before its political union with England. His party seems as narrow-minded and controlling as any other. My belief that the independent Scotland envisaged by Alex Salmond is one where the 'Scottishness' of any activity would be the sole determinant of its worth would bode ill for for our personal liberty.
If the government of an independent Scotland sought to curtail blogging in the same way that Marianne Mikko has done, I would not be the least surprised. It would consider the individual's freedom to speak for themself to be secondary to the task of creating, or reinforcing, a common Scottish cultural identity. It is at that point that those of us who still adhere to Unionist beliefs would be considered 'dissidents' - perhaps even treated in the same way as the Soviet Union treated its dissidents.
This is not an appealing prospect.

The Death Of The Washington Consensus

Joe Stiglitz's blast at the current 'Washington Consensus' economic model is certainly a very invigorating read - however, it's slightly marred by the fact that although he suggests that "new patterns of consumption and production" are required, he doesn't give any indication as to what form those patterns might take.
However, if current economic trends continue, the Washington Consensus is likely to have as much to look forward to as a turkey in the first week of December. Given the role the consensus has played in enriching a very, very small group of people at the expense of the native poor and disadvantaged, and in impeding Third World growth to the extent that that part of the world's biggest export is its people, then no person of goodwill should really mourn its passing. It was Bankers' Communism; and like very unfair and oppressive regime, perhaps it's just run its course.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Argentina

Identity And Ireland's Rejection Of The Lisbon Treaty

Regardless of the gymnastics in which some commentators are prepared to indulge when discussing identity; regardless of the blinkered ideology which insists that promoting multiculturalism, that is difference, the compost of disharmony, is the only way to combat 'extremism', when that extremism is an expression of the extremist's religious devotion - it may be the case that Ireland's rejection of the Lisbon Treaty, and the subsequent disrailing of the whole 'European' project, may have been an expression of Irish common identity.
This should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the emphasis which De Valera placed upon the fostering of Irishness in Irish life; and makes one wonder just what reaction the British people might have had to the whole question of their nation's involvement in Europe, had a similar sense of Britishness been fostered in them.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Some Thoughts On The Gulf Between Economics And Christianity

There is no division of labour in Christ.

(Inspired by a very thoughtful sermon heard earlier this evening).

One Good Turn Deserves Another

Peter Brimelow's kind link to the VDare blog merits a link to his donations page.

The Death Of Manon Jones

Manon Jones died at the age of 18, the consequence of a botched abortion.
She had been impregnated by a Muslim named Naeem Muzzafar. At the inquest into her death, her mother said,
"Manon found it very hard to make a decision to terminate the pregnancy, she wanted to keep the child but there were difficult circumstances which she had to consider with her boyfriend's family and their Muslim religion."
Miss Jones might be alive today had Muzzafar factored these 'difficult circumstances' into his decision to engage in sexual contact. Can we still say that sort of thing in Britain?
The cultural tension between Muslim and British values (such as they are) helped put Manon Jones into the situation in which she died. Why couldn't Naeem Muzzafar, and his family, accept some responsibility for his actions?

The Tanker Drivers's Strike

While one would hope that Seumas Milne's status as a 'Guardian' columnist has absolutely nothing to do with his father once having been Director-General of the BBC, one can find little fault with his assessment of the merits of the current tanker drivers's strike.
I would add one coda - isn't the situation where an ostensibly socialist politician like John Hutton criticises workers for withdrawing their labour eerily similar to the conclusion of a famous book?

Friday, June 13, 2008

A Note Of Caution Concerning David Davis

is now up on The Devil's Kitchen.

The Modern World Of Work

If I were ever to catalogue what has happened to me while trying to earn a living, it would be dismissed as a flight on fancy on a par with 'Gulliver's Travels'. In this, I would most certainly not be alone; every day of most folks' working lives is a white knuckle ride between small successes and gaping failures, between the promise of prosperity and the certainty of bankruptcy, with the pursuit of life's necessities conducted in an atmosphere of surreal carnage.
It takes a special breed of person to make a success of themself these days. Perhaps that special breed has always existed, and they now have more opportunities to express themself than they did before. The kind of driving ambition necessary to achieve the peak of success in any walk of life has always baffled me. Just what motivates any successful entrepeneur to eschew the safety of a job in order to chase the possibility of huge rewards? In the field of study that interests me, just what miraculous combination of intelligence and drive pushes a Simon Schama or a Niall Ferguson to the highest chairs in history? Where does it come from?
There might appear to be no significant link between the Euro 2008 soccer championships and the recently finished series of 'The Apprentice'; however, the dark side of the special breed has been out in force at both.
Although he possesses the sort of face which should belong to a Glasgow gangster, I'm sure that Slaven Bilic, the manager of the Croatian national team, is a thoroughly nice chap in private; however I will always hope that every team he is associated with will lose, and will rejoice when they do.
The reason for this is that while playing for Croatia against France in the semi-final of the 1998 World Cup, Bilic produced a disgusting display of gamesmanship which resulted in the dismissal of Laurent Blanc. Blanc thus missed the World Cup Final, the biggest game of any player's career. By grabbing his face and head when Blanc had made no contact with either, Slaven Bilic showed that he was the type of person who'd do anything, even compromise a fellow professional, in order to win. He'd fit right in on 'The Apprentice'.
One has to wonder why Sir Alan Sugar ever consented to acting as the host of 'The Apprentice'. What he has achieved as one of the special breed speaks for itself; perhaps having made more money than most people can ever spend, and having received a high honour for having done it, Sir Alan decided he wanted to be famous as well as rich.
As Jeff Randall notes in today's 'Telegraph', 'The Apprentice' is not business, but showbusiness; and yet the series was won by a guy who admitted faking his qualifications. Maybe I'm just getting old, but I thought telling lies was always wrong, no matter the circumstances. While one wishes Lee McQueen all success in his new job, he's going to have to face his colleagues every day knowing that they know that he's a liar. Is a job, any job, worth that?
To get on in any walk of life now, one seems to need to be able to lie and cheat without shame or thought for the consequences. The cheat Slaven Bilic and the liar Lee McQueen are the two faces of the modern Janus; one face will lie to you while the other stabs you in the back. The world we live in seems to be terribly unpleasant and graceless - it's a pity we've made it so, for only we can change it.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Who Shall Speak For England?

is now up on The Devil's Kitchen.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

No Surrender!

is now up on The Devil's Kitchen.

Busy Today

Back tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Value Of Citizenship

Over two years ago, I wrote,
"One of the reasons why citizens, regardless of race or creed, are taxed is to provide police resources for the prevention and detection of crime in their own communities. If these resources are having to be used to prosecute those who shouldn't be in the country, or who abuse their rights of residence or asylum, then the state has failed the citizen.

By permitting the admission of those whose crimes are reported here, the British state, in the person of Anthony Charles Lynton Blair and his predecessors, has diluted the value of my citizenship; something they had no right to do. "
Citizenship must be deemed to be capable of bearing a value - otherwise, there would be no point in seeking it.
It is heartening to see that the governments of China and Vietnam agree with me - even if they preserve the value of their citizenship by refusing to re-admit those of their criminal nationals whom the United Kingdom is seeking to deport. Our government wasn't watching the store when they came in - their government won't take them back. Somebody has to win this game, and I don't see it being the British citizen.

A New Corporate Model

Michael Meacher's comments about the greed of those in charge of many industries make one believe there is now a strong case for the corporate governance of limited liability companies to be conducted on very much more socially democratic lines, as in Germany.
The German Wirtschaftwunder was performed by companies with workers' representatives on their boards. Why can't we have that? After all, what do we know about managing companies that the Germans don't?
It is highly unlikely that the megabonus culture would have evolved in the UK if there had ever been worker participation in management. One of our more odious modern buzzwords is 'stakeholder', a term soon to be synonymous with 'person or group intent on distancing themself from blame in the event of certain failure'. The Germans really got stakeholding right - worker participation ensured that staff had no need to adopt a confrontational attitude to management, and everyone knew that the venture's success was dependent on the efforts of every single worker at every single grade. What on Earth was wrong with that?
And why can't we do that now? Answers on a postcard, please.

Monday, June 09, 2008

The Demonisation Of The British Child

We should hardly be surprised by suggestions that modern British society demonises children. A culture whose members do not wish to have children of their own can hardly be expected to be one in which love of, and understanding for, the children of others will flourish.
That British children have become increasingly feral should come as no surprise to anyone who mourns the passing of our civilisation. In less than half a century, we've changed from being a culture where children were born into stable nuclear families into one where marriage has become fungible, almost disposable, and parents have children by multiple partners. We forgot that childhood is an institution whose success is entirely dependent on the success of the institution of marriage. Just as abandoned cities return to the wilderness, or domestic animals turn wild when left to their own devices, we didn't realise that the same thing would happen to children who didn't receive the benefit of being raised in an institution which, if properly observed, would provide them with the three things they need more than anything else - stability, structure, and routine. As far as the British child is concerned, the progressive society has not been a success - it has been a horrible, crushing failure.
However, the institutional neglect of childrens' welfare in favour of the satisfaction of their parents' short-term emotional desires doesn't convey the full picture. Just as the progressive society was a catastophe for children that originated on the left, the economic changes that we have lived through have been a catastrophe for children that originated on the right.
The growth of the consumer society has meant that childrens' company is now not something to be enjoyed and cherished, but consumed. If we don't want their company, we don't want them near us. The most hateful aspect of life in the United Kingdom now is that shopkeepers feel no compunction about using high-pitched alarms to drive children away from their premises. That this actually hurts the child, inflicts pain upon them, doesn't seem to worry any politician or public figure. If an adult were to be seen breaking a toddler's arm in public, it is likely that they would be surrounded by a vigilante gang in seconds - where is the outrage about children being hurt by shopkeepers who don't want them near their customers?
We are now a nation of schoolyard bullies, our victims those least able to articulate their own concerns or look after their own interests. We have largely forgotten how to be loving, how to be tender, how to be graceful, how to be gentle, how to be kind - it is hardly surprising that our children should never have learned these virtues. Perhaps the British collective disgust for the British child is the result of our unwillingness to confront the fact that we have made a hell on earth for the little ones - and that actually acknowledging this, and then trying to do something about it, would be too deep a glimpse into our own hearts of darkness.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

What Makes A Great Commentator (And Why Most Bloggers Aren't)

Upon reading Charles Moore's critique of the education system in today's 'Telegraph', my first reaction was to write about it. This was wrong.
All journalism is fundamentally reactive, in that it both reports and comments upon the doings of others. The one verb that the practice of political blogging has given the world is 'to fisk' - to point out errors in others' work. Fisking is remarkably easy - however, it is not great commentary. It is a reaction to a reaction, a secondary take on events which in 99 cases out of 100 will provide an insight inferior to that contained in the primary source.
Fisking is not commenting, but a form of intellectual scavenging. If a commentary contains ideas that the primary source's editors consider sufficiently well-formed to appear in the publication under their control, well, then, they're good enough - if you don't like it, write a letter to the editor. It is the ability to provide the initial insight that makes a great commentator, not the ability to critique the commentaries of others.
If we bloggers were all good enough, folks, we'd be writing for the newspapers - but we aren't, so were're not. Those words might come back to bite me - God knows, there's nothing I'd like more than a wee job on a newspaper - but that's the way it seems to be to me.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Scottish Nationalist Hypocrisy

The Social Importance Of Maths

As someone with no mathematical aptitude, a couple of points immediately spring to my mind about Sir Simon Jenkins's cry against mathematics and its study, which appears in today's 'Guardian'.
The first is that we are told that mass immigration requires to continue because we have a skills shortage. It is likely to be the case that many of those allegedly missing skills are in areas such as physics and computing, where a solid grounding in maths is essential. If fewer students are immersing themselves in maths, it is logically correct to say that the country's indigenous population will have insufficient mathematical skills to enable the country to function without immigration. Historically, Sir Simon doesn't seem to do immigration - but the rest of us do, and it would seem that the teaching of maths thus becomes a social as well as educational issue.
Secondly, one can only weep for just how many people have been tossed on the scrapheap by the British educational system because they have been forced to study subjects for which they have no aptitude. I'm sorry if this sounds terribly Prussian, but if a child is good at maths they should study maths, not history - if they're good at history they should study history, not maths. The United Kingdom must contain hundreds of thousands of citizens labelled as underachievers because when they were teenage square pegs, it was thought necessary to try to batter them into the round hole of educational universalism. You tend to get more out of people when you let them do what they're good at - that's one of the reasons Tiger Woods doesn't play professional basketball, and why Henrik Larsson isn't a goalkeeper. If that principle holds good for sporting aptitude, there is absolutely no reason why it shouldn't hold good for educational aptitude as well.

The Human Rights Of Lawyers

Whilst one is admittedly not au fait with the full facts of the case, surely Lawrence Rew shouldn't have had to wait 10 years for his case to come to court? Particularly when he was struck off eight years ago? Surely there has to be some issue of unreasonable delay in proceedings here?

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Some More Thoughts On The Volkerwanderung

With regard to my post of a couple of days ago in relation to the 'Volkerwanderung' to which our civilisation is being subjected, a couple of items have appeared which make returning to the subject worthwhile.
Firstly, there is no more civil gentleman in the blogosphere than Peter Brimelow, and one is loathe to criticise him - however his most recent VDare posting, entitled 'Immigration Is The Viagra Of The State”—A Libertarian Case Against Immigration', while dealing very fully with the ideological aspects of uncontrolled immigration does not in turn deal with its more profound civilisational aspects. Sadly, this is an opportunity lost, because the piece helps remind us that the current Volkerwanderung is of a different character to that suffered by Rome; that civilisation's resulted from the neglect of absentmindedness, whereas ours is the result of invitation. Rome's walls crumbled through lack of repair; the modern West's have fallen as the result of a botched refurbishment.
This means, of course, that if there is the will, the modern West's Volkerwanderung can be stopped in its tracks; all it takes is some plasterboard and a few careful watchmen.
Secondly, whilst one can usually find no fault with the work of Laban Tall, his post 'The Coming Patriarchy' paints rather too gloomy a picture of the current demographic 'time bomb'. Laban seems to entirely discount the possibility of some event reversing the current downward birth trend amongst natives. As a fellow church going Christian, I hope he would join me in hoping for a Christian revival - stranger things have happened, and would have the maternity wards bursting at the seams.

Timothy Garton Ash On America

The distinguished and luxuriantly-eyebrowed beardie, professional Europhile, homme serieux and soi-disant 'historian of the present' Timothy Garton Ash has published an analysis of post-Bush European-American relations entitled 'Obama is Europe's dream candidate, but we may have to settle for McSame' on 'Comment is Free'.
Although Ash sits at the fanatical end of European integrationist opinion, the intellectual conceit that all residents of Europe think with one mind on such issues is spread more widely across that spectrum than is healthy. Reading his opinions, one might almost believe that he has forgotten that the nation states of Europe continue to exist, despite their involuntary emasculation at the hands of the Little Europeans.
Yet Ash seems unable to prevent his monomanical integrationism from colouring his analysis of situations to which it can have no possible application. I lost all faith in his powers of perception after reading page 100 of the paperback edition of his book 'Free World'. The following passage appears on that page -
"In the nineteenth century the English in Massachusetts and Virginia, the French in Louisiana, the Spanish in California, the Poles in Chicago, the Germans in Wisconsin and the Scandinavians in Minnesota created what Jacob Burckhardt called 'a large scale laboratory experiment of Europe's future'. America was the first European Union".
It was nothing of the sort - notwithstanding that the USA's founding influences were profoundly English and profoundly Protestant, those Europeans who migrated to the USA at that time were interested in the opportunities provided by America, and it was America they were interested in; they wanted to buy into their own dream, not to have somebody else's dream buy them up.
That is the difference between the USA then and the European Union now; and if Tim Garton Ash is so blinded by his own political desires that he can't tell the difference, then he really has no business writing about it - or holding forth on the nature of America.

Some Thoughts On Saving The Rainforests

As a former republican who has become monarchist with the passage of time, one is loathe to criticise HRH The Prince of Wales - but his plea to save the rainforests would have been more persuasive if the newspaper which published his call had not also reported that his niece was on work experience with an entity whose entire rationale is consumption.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Britishness Day

While Liam Byrne's idea for a 'Britishness Day' is a good one in principle, unfortunately it would fail.
The concept of 'Britishness' has been left for individual Britons to develop for themselves for too long for any collective concept to be capable of being successfully developed now. My own belief, that a communal sense of Britishness could be fostered by greater displays of national symbols, is unlikely to be popular, if only because too many Britons would view it as a form of coercion, when that's not the point at all - if the practice of displaying their flag helped the Americans develop a sense of civic unity and national identity out of what became 50 states, one couldn't see why it wouldn't also help us.
You could place a successful bet on those Scottish nationalists who deplore the concept of Britishness wrapping any independent Scotland in Saltires from head to toe - they would be very likely to be very much more rigid, very much more demanding of a sense of 'Scottishness', than the British have ever been.
Would we have as many jihadists if Muslim children had been told to pay some respect to the Union Flag? I don't know - and we'll never find out.

Germaine Greer And Motherhood

In today's 'Times', Germaine Greer writes,
"Common sense tells us that a father's role is not equal to a mother's. A man can become a father and not know he's done it.

A woman can only become a mother after she has carried her child to term; regardless of what happens to her baby, whether it dies, or is given away, or grows up in her care, or commits a hideous crime, she will always be attached to it. She will suffer more for her child than she has ever suffered for herself. If her child is taken from her, she will experience pain at the site of the separation for the rest of her life. "
What is striking about these passages is the extreme coldness of the prose. By writing 'and not know how he's done it', Professor Greer seems to indicate she assumes that conception outwith the stability and structure provided by a long-term monogamous relationship is the norm, rather than the exception. Upon what basis does she make this assertion? The crime stats? Sales of buggies in Mothercare? The details of benefit claimants? Astrology?
One deplores the practice of abortion at all times and under all circumstances - however, one had thought that one of the principal arguments advanced in favour of its legalisation was that it would avoid the possibility of unwanted pregnancies proceeding to term. By narrating that men can impregnate women without being aware of it, is Professor Greer merely reciting a fact from a secondary school biology textbook, or acknowledging that some women might just want to have babies regardless of whether or not they have a man in their life? The passage is not clear.
Professor Greer can be presumed to be relatively well-informed in these matters; but one would have thought that the existence of institutions such as the Child Support Agency, whose entire rationale is to ensure that fathers take responsibility for those whom they have fathered, completely negates her argument in respect of paternal anonymity. Perhaps in the world which Professor Greer inhabits it has remained forever 1968, when those of her generation were prepared to let it all hang out, and all too often did - however, the world has moved on a bit since then, even if she hasn't. Too many otherwise responsible chaps have had too many nasty brown letters shoved through their doors because their partners had listened to the likes of Professor Greer - because of her and those like her, the only glint that many responsible and intelligent men now have in their eyes when they approach a potential partner is one of apprehension. Well done, Professor.
And it is quite staggering to see a woman who is herself childless attempt to tell any other woman at just what point maternity begins. Precisely when was it revealed to her that women cannot mourn the end of unsuccessful pregnancies just as surely as they would mourn the death of a child born alive? This is a staggeringly insensitive remark to make - one wouldn't go as far as to suggest that Professor Greer is either emotionally or psychologically abnormal, but it's extremely cold.
If nothing else, this comment of Professor Greer's is further proof of the theory that feminism's sole rationale is not to be pro-woman, but anti-marriage - and any woman who actually listens to feminists does so at their own risk.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

A Reader Points Out An Error

The Scottish nationalist reader of this blog who posts at 'The Daily Telegraph' under the screen name 'The Aberdonian' seems like a bit of an odd cove, if only because of their self-confessed habit of posting parodies of it in the style of Czech novels. Very odd, actually.
However, on today's thread, and presumably in relation to my recent post 'Here Is The News', they have written,
"By the way Mr Kelly (since you will be reading this), can I point out something about the title of the "Duke of Rothesay". This title is used when jug-lugs is in Scotland and is in the official court circular. If you have a beef contact Brenda at Buck House about it and tell her she is committing Lese Majesty against her own family. You really are fun satirising!"
'Jug-lugs' is presumably HRH The Prince of Wales, 'Brenda', Her Majesty the Queen - although such disrespect towards the Royal Family from Scottish nationalists shows that Alex Salmond's proposals for social union with England under one monarch may not have the support of all his followers, a quick look at the Wikipedia entry for 'Duke of Rothesay' describes it as being "the title mandated for use by the heir apparent when in Scotland".
Accordingly, 'The Aberdonian' is right, and I was wrong. My apologies for the error.

Volkerwanderung

Sometimes you start a book and you just know it's going to be good.
Such a book is D.C. Somervell's abridgement of Arnold J. Toynbee's 'A Study of History'.
It is a little dispiriting to realise that your own civilisation fulfils every criterion laid out by Toynbee to determine whether it is ripe for collapse.
There is a universal state, the European Union. There is a universal church, in our case the anti-church of economics; and there has been a great wandering of foreign groups into these lands, subsequently forming what Toynbee called an 'internal proletariat', which he defined as those who are in but of the society. To such migrations he gave the German name by which they were once known, 'Volkerwanderung'. All civilisations on the way out are on the receiving end of them.
That the past 20 years have seen a global Volkerwanderung on a scale similar to that which emerged from Germany at the end of the Roman Empire is beyond dispute. In our case, it was encouraged by our economic elites, and their desire for profit. Knowing the anti-church's teaching that the cost of labour is the greatest barrier to the achievement of that profit, and not being able to keep wage costs down by enslaving their fellow citizens, migrants were the next best weapon in their jihad. They got their profit, for a while; but if current conditions continue, the downsides on their profit projections might just also chart the collapse of the civilisation. One hopes they enjoyed the good times while they lasted - the worst case scenario is that not even the shelter of their gated communities will spare them from the fallout.
In the meantime, ideology, the other cult which has undermined the civilisation, sweats over how long suspected terrorists can be kept in detention, while refusing to acknowledge that the violence being done against our society is done exclusively by Muslims in the name of Islam and for the sake of Islam. We are told the lie that Islam is a religion of peace, when there is nothing in the history of its expansion to indicate that this is the case. Nobody in a position of influence says out loud that we might be able to hold onto our civilisation for a little while longer if we stop permitting Muslims to immigrate here - to say this is a heresy against both economics and ideology, and can get you into trouble. There never was any reason to believe that Islam would be compatible with modern market economics - and the blindness of the economists to anything that lies beyond the understanding of their cult is one of the main reason this civilisation's on the slide. I guess that Adam Smith didn't know more than Charles Martel after all.
If the study of history is permitted in the future, one would hope that at least some effort is made to keep the words of those who read the books - and saw the headlights coming.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Only In Glasgow...

"A thief who was chased by a group of belly dancers when she was caught stealing their purses as they practised their routines has been sentenced.

Elizabeth Fallon, 47, was ordered to complete 113 hours of community service for stealing from the dance group.

Glasgow Sheriff Court heard she had arrived at the class on crutches and claimed she wanted to take part once she had recovered from a back injury.

But she stole from them as they danced at the Western Baths in Maryhill.

The court was told Fallon sat near to a number of handbags at the side of the hall and got up to leave as the girls finished their warm-up, signalling that she was going for a drink.

Dance instructor Joanie Ward became suspicious. She asked her class to check their handbags and they discovered two purses were missing.

Ms Ward and a group of dancers, who wore scarves round their waists and no shoes, ran to the entrance and caught Fallon outside."
Yep, just another day in the old town...

Some Thoughts On The Fury Of Alex Salmond

"...in the case of the SNP, it was probably felt that continual clashes between the Assembly and the British Government would so exasperate Scottish opinion that the party's long-term aim of independence would eventually gain the majority support it had hitherto lacked" -
Professor Geoffrey Warner, writing of Scottish nationalism in the 1970's in the second edition of Professor David Thomson's 'England in The Twentieth Century' at pages 348 and 349, and published in 1982.
That's a good quote to keep in mind the next time you hear Alex Salmond say the Scottish people are in a 'fury'. He's just trying to cause trouble - and Professor Warner saw him coming 25 years ago.

The China Syndrome

Without wishing to rag on Will Hutton twice in two days, his commentary on China and the Chinese entitled 'Just like us' on 'Comment is Free' is the worst kind of utopian, liberal internationalist nonsense.
Worse than that, it is patronising. He writes,
"Only hardliners, police and army chiefs believe the system can carry on as is. Those trying to manage the economy are overwhelmed by the problems of having to sort out the consequences of the half reformed the economic system. There is too much inflation. There is a banking system in even worse shape than the US's. There is persistent back scratching, jobbery and nepotism. The party, like in Orwell's Animal Farm, has transmuted into a variant of the Confucian Mandarinate it sought to replace.

Too many officials no longer believe in what they are doing - and know that China must go the whole hog and follow the rest of Asia in building institutions that allow its capitalism to be held to account independently of the communist party. After 2012, when the fifth generation of party leaders come to power, my hunch is that China will have its own version of the glasnost and perestroika that the Soviet Union's fifth generation of party leaders initiated - but from a position of much more economic strength. The Chinese, we will discover, are just like us."
These words assume that, notwithstanding that of course the Chinese are just like us in their common humanity, they also think that western liberal democracy is the form of government most acceptable to them. At no time in China's history have the Chinese people ever appeared to express a longing for the western liberal democratic model of government - had the Tiananmen Square protests been successful, and democratic reforms enacted, it would be very questionable whether the form of democracy that would have come into being would have been directly analogous to the United Kingdom's. One would be very interested to know by what process Hutton has concluded that the Chinese are so eager to adopt our model now.
Hutton assumes that the Chinese Communists have read no history. He assumes that they have not read Tocqueville's injuction that authoritarian states are at their most vulnerable when they attempt to reform themselves - the same injunction that Gorbachev forgot when the dire necessity of reforming the Soviet economic model led him down the path of glasnost and perestroika. The Chinese Communists may have taken one look at what happened to Gorbachev, and resolved that the same thing wasn't going to happen to them.
A very good case could be made that the Communists' economic reforms have been precisely intended to strengthen their grip on power - and a version of that case has been made by John Lee, on the very same day as Hutton, in the very same forum.
Lee writes,
"The CCP has conducted a tireless and largely successful campaign to co-opt, and in many respects create, the rising educated and economic classes. By remaining the key economic player as well as overseeing an extensive system of awards, promotions, and regulation, the government continues to control and dispense a dominant share of the most valued economic, professional, and intellectual opportunities.

This means that entrepreneurs are better off doing business as a "partner" of the state. Intellectuals and academics favoured by officials are granted generous research grants, are fast tracked into senior positions, and given personal perks. Journalists have little choice but to work for media outlets that are still subsidiaries of party organs. These are the contented middle classes emerging in China today. Far from being an independent class, why would these middle classes want to change toward a more democratic system when it could lead to their own dispossession?"
Chinese capitalism therefore possesses an acutely fascist character. The Communists were smart enough to realise that the old model of five year plans and Great Leaps Forward wasn't going to keep them in power. It's a pity that internationalist opinion formers like Will Hutton seem to forget that totalitarians will do anything to stay in power - even compromise their principles.

'A Heated Argument Between Two Groups Of Men'

The BBC reports that the evangelists 'claimed he warned them to leave the area, saying: "If you come back here and get beat up, well you have been warned."
If true, then it would seem that the observations of the Rt. Rev. Michael Nazir-Ali, that there are now areas in the UK which are dominated by Muslims and which are no-go areas for Christians, have been proven to be correct.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Wasting The Pope's Time

One hopes that the Vatican's belief in Will Hutton's credentials as a 'person of goodwill' is shared by his wife's tenants; and one is also disappointed at the thought that the Fondazione Centesimus Annus-Pro Pontifice, the group Hutton was addressing, is likely to include Peter Sutherland, while I stand outside, wailing and gnashing my teeth.
OK, the last bit was a joke; but it would be very interesting to know whether Pat Buchanan, a Catholic of stature honest enough to publish a bad review of one of his books in his own magazine, and one with a long record of criticising turbocapitalism, was present - from a Catholic perspective, he'd have more to say to Benedict XVI about its perniciousness than Will Hutton ever could.
Hutton appears to have said little more to the pope than I myself wrote over three years ago in a mini-obituary of his predecessor entitled 'John Paul II, Opponent of Predatory Capitalism'; and thus seems to have wasted an old man's time.
A very much more efficient use of that scarce resource would have been for Hutton and the conference to have applied their minds to the very serious question of whether or not the study of economics, as that alleged science is currently understood, is compatible with Catholic doctrine. Economists set themselves up as the priests of a secular religion based solely on reason and rational choices. Accordingly, their discipline is incompatible with a religion which maintains that providence and grace are realities. Economics encourages the relentless pursuit of self. Accordingly, it is incompatible with a religion that enjoins you to love your neighbour as you love yourself.
In our world, the economists have too much power - they are a clique who claim proprietary rights over the truth, and those not in the clique must dance to their tune as surely as the ancient Egyptians were forced to dance to the tune played by the priests of Ra. They are mostly as unbending in their beliefs as were the Dominicans of the Inquisition; if they could burn heretics, they would. No names, no pack drill, but it's my belief that there is at least one cradle Catholic blogger out there whose faith has been undermined by the study of economics - and if that's the case, then, for what my opinion's worth, that makes economics an enemy of the Church.
That would have been a very much better approach for Will Hutton to have taken in his God-given bully pulpit moment in front of the Holy Father - not to have recited the conclusions reached some time ago by the Blessed Frederic Ozanam.