Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Annus Horribilis Libertarianis

On a personal level, it's not been the best of years; although that corner seems to have been turned, seeing yourself being described as a 'morally bankrupt parasite' by some libertarian goofball does not really do anything to endear their philosophy to you.
Yet he who laughs last, and all that jazz. The year 2008 might just be recorded as the year in which libertarianism, an ideology as doctrinaire as Communism, finally hit the skids, like the light going out of a Terminator's eyes, or HAL being disconnected. Its true-believing cheerleaders (amongst whom I count some with whom I hope to remain on friendly terms), will no doubt continue to sit around singing The Hayek Hallelujah in the same way HAL sang 'Daisy, Daisy, Give Me Your Answer Do', their voices becoming slower and slowweeerrr, until someone turns them off as an act of kindness. When the end comes, one hopes that, for their sake, it is quick.
A philosophy that deserved to be strangled at birth, the intellectual props supporting this vicious, unforgiving cult of the self were finally cut away when Hank Paulson proposed a public sector bailout of the American banking system which could only be described as being fascist in character. The word 'fascist' is often abused by those who seek to discredit their opponents - the one thing upon which even scholars of fascism cannot agree is what fascism actually was. It beggars definition as surely as a flying giraffe. Yet what they can agree upon is that fascist economic policy was once defined by a now long dead Italian, who took a load of abuse from libertarians, as being that profit should be private and personal, loss public and social. That was Paulson's first bailout proposal. That's fascism.
Even as we speak, it is being asserted in the fastnesses of libertarian bunkers that the Israeli assault on Gaza is all about property rights. This is wackadoo, loony toons stuff, the product of having read way too many ideological tracts and nothing like enough history. For this grossly disinterested observer, libertarianism will only be able to recover some intellectual credibility when its adherents can actually answer the following questions -
1. Where 'spontaneous order' has ever 'broken out' in the absence of government. It has not ever happened, and it never will happen, because all societies are hierarchies of one kind or another and in hierarchies it is incapable of happening. Some will shout 'It happens in evolution!' Yeah, right. I'm sure that there were dinosaurs who were really pleased with their evolution's spontaneous order - just before the asteroid hit them; and
2. Name just one war, just one, that proves Bastiat's maxim that 'if goods don't cross borders, troops will'. Name one. Just one.
They can't do it; because there has never been such a war, because when he said it, Bastiat was addressing the concerns of a specific audience at a specific time. It was not meant to be of general application. In The Great Unmade Economic History Movie, one could imagine The Pie in the Sky Fairy being played by the late Charlton Heston; but Bastiat, the man who once tried to besiege a castle only to discover that it had already surrendered, well, he would be Charlot - an amiable if rather pathetic loser.
But he wrote The Candlemakers Petition in support of free trade!
And as they say on the Scottish soccer radio phone-in shows, what's your point, caller? As satire, it fails. It is a defence of the practice of importing manufactured goods that uses the admission of sunlight, the greatest gift that nature has bestowed on us, as its starting point. If you're going to satirise something, satirise like with the example of like. Anything else can be dismissed as the scribblings of charlatans and clowns.
What really gets to me about free trade is the almost schizophrenic way in which free traders can divorce their personal reality from wider macroeconomic reality. We're all protectionists - if you own a home, you protect it with locks. When I first started visiting my wife's home town in rural County Cork, her family all still left their keys in the front door - mass immigration into Ireland, the imposition of free trade in labour on the Irish without any real consent, has since put paid to that. If you're a Bismarck or Colbert amongst homeowners, you might even own a burglar alarm. If you own a car, you protect it with a deadlock, or one of those things you stick across the steering wheel.
So why shouldn't we protect our economy with a tariff in the same way? What is particularly different about the nature of the economy of which we are all a part that the rules for protecting its security should differ so radically from the simplest domestic precautions?
Friedman's Doxology to The Pie in The Sky Fairy that 'there's no such thing as a free lunch' (a phrase he did not coin) breaks down when discussing free trade. It's just like the way that Newtonian physics breaks down at the sub-atomic level - the great principles can only stand a particular level of scrutiny. Look at them under a higher degree of magnification, and the whole bang shoot comes apart.
If there is no such thing as a free lunch - how can there be such a thing as free trade?
Libertarianism is a philosophy which has been adopted by many civilised men; yet other civilised men have also adopted other political philosophies, and all of them have turned out to be nothing more than post-Christian barbarism.
Good. I feel better after that.
Have a Happy, and Sacred, New Year. Let's hope it's better than the last one. At this point, 2008 has still got 18 hours to go, and anything can happen.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The 12 Girl Band Does Riverdance!

Here! Watch! Now!

A Massacre Of Innocents

No matter which way you look at it - whether it's through Pat Buchanan's lens of reason and justified retaliation, or David Aaronovitch's pathetic philosophising, or Martin Peretz's much more direct (and frightening) 'Do not fuck with the Jews' - there can be absolutely no doubt that if it happened (and one has no reason to believe that it did not), the deliberate targeting by the Israelis of a Gazan prison - a building from which by its very nature people cannot escape - was a war crime; no matter what assorted British Kool-Aid drinkers might think about it.
Palestinian civilian casualties thus far have run into the hundreds; apparently, casualties that the Israelis have suffered from Hamas rocket attacks amount to just one. I challenge anyone to justify such violence as moral.

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Value Of Online Journalism

My occasional correspondent, the Donald Sutherland lookalike Professor Tim Luckhurst, has published an 'Us and Them' piece on his belief in the inherent superiority of print media's investigative journalism over that of online's on 'Comment is Free', entitled 'Buy a newspaper for democracy'.
To be fair to Professor Luckhurst, a difficult sentiment to which one must compel oneself as an act of Christian charity (loving your neighbour as yourself must include loving the neighbour who seemed to threaten to sue you), the irony of him publishing this piece on a website does not seem to escape him.
However as with almost all opinion journalism, online or otherwise, there are gaping chasms in his thought.
Online investigative journalism has had several significant success stories. It was online journalism that exposed Stephen Glass as a fraud. It was online journalism that brought down Eason Jordan. And it was online journalism that kicked off the bringing down of Dan Rather.
It is interesting to note that Eason Jordan himself once wrote of how adept the news media can be at hiding the truth from the public for its own purposes. On April 11 2003, he published an editorial in the 'New York Times' entitled 'The News We Kept To Ourselves', outlining how CNN adopted a double or quits strategy of not reporting Iraqi atrocities during Gulf War I in the hope of better scoops down the line. That this was probably good business for a news business is not in dispute - by the same token, it cannot also be disputed that it was ignoring horrible crimes in the hope of making future gains. Not much interest in the absolute truth there.
There has been a pattern to online's investigative successes; the biggest scalps it has claimed thus far have been those of media people. Juvenal asked, 'But who is to guard the guards'? Pyjama guys all around the world rose as one and answered 'We will'; and for as long as the history of the media is written it will be noted that for all its legion faults, the Internet was the first mechanism by which the British and American media were properly monitored. It's so good at it that the authorities want to censor it; in itself, an unofficial admission of its success.
When all is said and done, Professor Luckhurst takes money to teach journalism. Presumably he thinks his students are a cut above pyjama work, and that every one's a potential Woodward. Fine, let them prove it. A small challenge for Professor Luckhurst, if he's up for it and stuck for something to do during the academic holidays; I've sat through enough of his prose, so let's see if he can sit through mine.
On December 15 this year, I made one of my few forays into investigative journalism. I discovered that on 30 March 1998, Tony Blair gave an answer to the House of Commons which appeared to directly contradict evidence given by Kenneth Clarke to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards three years earlier. One view which could be taken of this is that the Prime Minister misled Parliament regarding a matter which some consider to be of the utmost seriousness.
This investigation took approximately ten minutes to complete, yet the story has not appeared in any print medium. I would be very interested to know whether Professor Luckhurst would consider it likely that it ever will. I will spare him the effort of actually reading it. The answer will be 'No'.
"One of the things about journalists is—and I’m a financial journalist—is that they write what they’re told to."
Something to bear in mind whenever you buy a newspaper.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Words Of Wisdom, Part I

"So, my soul, plunge ahead, sweeping through all the monster-plagued dangers ahead, knowing that you are guided and sustained by the mighty, yet invisible, hand of God" -
Well, well. It seems that The Pie in the Sky Fairy does not possess a monopoly on invisible handiwork.

Words Of Wisdom, Part II

"Andrew Gordon, in 'Labor and Democracy in Prewar Japan', points out that during the war the real wages of German workers fell only 2 per cent (before the final phase), while between 1939 and 1944 those of Japanese workers fell 33 per cent. In his judgment, this led to a higher degree of absenteeism, job-switching, slowdowns and shoddy work" -
Stanley G. Payne, 'A History of Fascism', footnote on Page 336.
British real wages have been in decline for 35 years. In recent years, the British elites have heaped casual calumnies on the British worker regarding their apparent unbiddability and stupidity. These same people are almost always among the first to assert the rights of capital over those of labour, and one such perceived right is to stiff the staff out of as much of their wages as you can as often as you can.
What Payne narrates as having happened in wartime Japan, not usually known as a hotbed of worker discontent, is probably also relevant to the study of British economic history since 1975. The lesson to be drawn from both examples is quite straightforward - if you remove workers' incentives, don't expect them to be motivated. If you give them the right motivation, you probably won't end up feeling you need to displace them.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Human Stains
















The bland, featureless face in the picture belongs to Andrew Burnham, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.
Look at it - it is a tabula rasa that keeps its owner's secrets. It is the face of a conformist attempting to affect a gravitas he does not possess. It is a face that looks as if it has never lived.
It is ironic that Burnham should surface again so soon after the death of Harold Pinter; less than three months ago, I wrote of how his desire to regulate the uses of Church property made him reminiscent of a Pinter character.
In an interview in today's 'Telegraph', Burnham floats the kite of Internet censorship. According to the 'Telegraph',
"(H)e believes that new standards of decency need to be applied to the web. He is planning to negotiate with Barack Obama’s incoming American administration to draw up new international rules for English language websites."
A graduate in English whose only gainful employments seem to have been at various levels of party politics, it would be interesting to know the nature of the moral and ethical training he has received that qualifies him to pronounce weightily on the need for 'new standards of decency'. He knows that the people are far to his right - is he mumming populism? Is he trying to strike some pose as The Whitehouse Of The Web?
Or is it more the novelty of the 'new standards of decency' that he's interested in? One can already imagine what these 'new standards of decency' will be; some synthetic, ad hoc, back-of-the-fag-packet secular Summa Theologica for the 21st Century - or is that the 19th? I keep forgtting when I am.
Such 'new standards of decency' will have the predictable result that the only bloggers you'll ever be allowed to read will be Osama Saeed (for the looniest diversitoids), Sunny Hundal (for boring bores with reading ages sufficiently advanced to be able to handle 'The Daily Mirror'), and Oliver Kamm (for intellectual ballast).
And any 'new standards of decency' cooked up by Andy Burnham and Barack Obama will mean the end of VDare, Chronicles, Larry Auster, Dennis Mangan and most of the blogs and sites under the heading 'USA' on the right hand side of this blog.
The 'Telegraph' continues,
"The Cabinet minister describes the internet as “quite a dangerous place” and says he wants internet-service providers (ISPs) to offer parents “child-safe” web services.

Giving film-style ratings to individual websites is one of the options being considered, he confirms. When asked directly whether age ratings could be introduced, Mr Burnham replies: “Yes, that would be an option. This is an area that is really now coming into full focus.”

ISPs, such as BT, Tiscali, AOL or Sky could also be forced to offer internet services where the only websites accessible are those deemed suitable for children".
That would be the end of this blog. What would first be touted as a law intended to 'protect' children would appear in the draft legislation as applying to all web users. Although hopefully neither obscene nor offensive, this blog's content is written by an adult for other adults, hopefully dealing with very adult themes in a relatively adult way. It is unsuitable for children, and would in all likelihood be blocked by any ISP operating under a universal 'Let's Protect The Kiddies' law.
He goes on to say,
"If you look back at the people who created the internet they talked very deliberately about creating a space that Governments couldn’t reach. I think we are having to revisit that stuff seriously now. It’s true across the board in terms of content, harmful content, and copyright. Libel is [also] an emerging issue.

“There is content that should just not be available to be viewed. That is my view. Absolutely categorical. This is not a campaign against free speech, far from it; it is simply there is a wider public interest at stake when it involves harm to other people. We have got to get better at defining where the public interest lies and being clear about it.”
Spaces that governments can't reach include the mind and the soul: Burnham's are Burnham's and mine are mine, and he has no business mangling John Stuart Mill so that he can dictate how I should treat either of them. The families of Jeshma Raithatha and Clare Bernal, both murdered by Eastern Europeans given free access to the United Kingdom by Burnham's government, might have something to say about the public interest being involved in the formation of public policy when it might involve harm to other people. Does anyone ever ask them? Or have their tragedies just become last year's fish and chip wrapping?
I have been predicting the advent of Internet censorship for nearly four years. In some form or other, it will come - in the age of authoritarian freedom, the Internet is too powerful a tool for the individual to be able to wield at the authoritarians' expense. Yet in his litany of crimes against authoritarianism such as libel and copyright, Andy Burnham missed out a cracker.
Contempt of court.
Paul Staines is not a blogger I read with any degree of regularity. He might be a very nice guy, but I find his approach childish, charmless and bereft of meaningful insight.
Yet Staines has been on the receiving end of an injunction at the instance of lawyers acting for Zac Goldsmith. The aspect of this affair that is actually quite funny is that Staines didn't seem to know anything about this case, or the background to the matter itself, until someone told him he couldn't say anything about it. In following this course of action, all that Goldsmith and his agents have achieved is that people now know things about his business that he actually spent good money trying to suppress. Self-defeating, or what?
In case this post attracts the attention of Messrs. Peter Carter-Ruck & Partners, they are invited to peruse the terms of a couple of hoary old chestnuts called The Acts of Union; you know, the ones that preserves Scotland's status as a place where the word 'injunction' is not a competent term of art. Ask Mahzer Mahmood - he knows all about them.
As indeed did Zac's late father, Sir James Goldsmith. Fishpaste first achieved public prominence by eloping to Gretna Green with the billionheiress Isabel Patino, by that time already pregnant, thus exploiting the difference between the respective Scottish and English laws on parental consent to marriage.
There's a moral in there somewhere. It's that using the law to get what you want can be extremely productive and profitable in the short term; but over the long term you've got to be really good at it, because it's also a petard by which you must be willing to be hoist.
You know what I really loved about being a solicitor? Combing the small print.

Friday, December 26, 2008

PJ Mulvey On Mexico

"Mexico has been officially at war with God since the early twentieth century revolution which installed a masonic and anticlerical government in power. Although purporting to be populist, its major political parties only serve the corrupt bureaucracies and plutocracy. As is the case with the rest of Latin America, a very small percentage of the population controls almost all the wealth. Poverty and hopelessness are a result of this marriage between the rich and the bureaucrats. Without hope for supporting a family in Mexico, it has propelled millions to leave their cultural and ancestoral homeland to seek their fortune in the United States which has a voracious appetite for cheap labor...
(In) Barrio Logan, generations of economic immigrants or illegal aliens are transplanted in an alien Anglo culture and beset on all sides by the pop culture of the dominant culture in addition to an immoral Hispanic subculture of machismo, novellas and narco-music. Cut off from their cultural and religious roots, these poor people become prey to roving evangelists offering instant salvation with mandatory 10% tithing; drug gangs whose tentacles reach doen even to the primary schools; and thieving landlords who charge outrageous rents for dwellings not better than hovels. No wonder that these people live in an area where Satan roams at will."

Read the whole thing. 'At war with God' - never seen a better way of putting it. Blistering.

The 12 Girl Band

As a rule, I don't make any demands of my readers' goodwill. I don't ask you for money, and only rarely for your prayers. However, today I am going to make a request of you which I would ask you to heed and answer.
I would ask you to play the video that can be found on this link. It will take three or four seconds to jump to what you need to see, but you will have one of the most uplifting seven minute experiences of your life. People of goodwill are then invited to either link to the original post, or embed the video itself. This has to be seen by as many people as possible.
As the wise and clever man who posted it says, "God loves the widow's mite more than all the riches of the godless". May The Souls Of The Middle Kingdom Come To Christ; and From The Great Wall To The South China Sea, Let Freedom Ring.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Speed, Bonny Spaceship, Like A Bird On The Wing

I know I said I'd be off for a few days - but I couldn't resist this.
The Scottish National Party's space cadets are reported to have called for RAF Lossiemouth to become Virgin Galactic's spaceport. It is gratifying to learn that despite their professions of love for a country in which the poor still get evicted from their homes, The Tartanissimo's arditi have their policy priorities in order.
Jocks away, ya bas!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas, Then And Now

is now up on Nourishing Obscurity.

OK! OK! I'm outta here!

Once again, Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

O Night Divine

My favourite hymn -

"O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of our dear Saviour's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
'Til He appear'd and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.


Fall on your knees! O, hear the angels' voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born;
O night divine, O night, O night Divine.

Led by the light of Faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming,
Here come the wise men from Orient land.
The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friend.

He knows our need, to our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend!
Behold your King, Behold your King.

Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother;
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name.

Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever,
His power and glory evermore proclaim.
His power and glory evermore proclaim. "


Now that sure beats the Hokey Cokey.

Joy To The World! A very happy and holy Christmas to you all. Back in a few days.

The God Of The Atheists

The Scottish Catholic Church has apparently criticised the singing of the Hokey Cokey as a potential 'hate crime'.
This is just another public relations problem that Scottish Catholicism has managed to conjure up for itself out of nothing - you put your left foot in, you put your left foot out; then you shoot yourself in it.
Such non-events always smoke out the usual suspects like termites. Over in Tim Worstall's comments, Bill Paterson launches into a rant so empirically predictable it's like watching yeast fermenting in a petri dish, or condensation dampness crawling up a wall.
Grudgingly, one must admit that Bill's comments do occasionally add to the gaiety of nations; yet another two of Tim's commentors, 'Eva' and 'H', cannot resist using the expression 'Sky Fairy'.
Paulinus has recently got himself wound up about this atheist abuse of the Lord Of Creation. To my mind, it's just a lazy way of trying to do down people you don't feel you can debate with; the Marxist tactic of substituting abuse for argument. One character called John Band even seems to think he's an expert at it.
What its use really means is that the users are afraid of their opponents. As spiritual beings, children of God, they know in their hearts that God is a divine reality; yet their petulance makes them spurn the Father Who Loves Them.
Atheism is itself a religion. If having no policy is a policy, then having no religion is itself a religion.
Like all religions, however, it must have a god.
"They will deny the Resurrection of The Son of God, but hail as absolute truth the ramblings of a Tourettist from Kirkcaldy. "
The right lauds Adam Smith as a prophet, when the reality is that Smith was not the benign intellectual that those who treat him as an object of idolatry would have us believe.
For example, without Smith there would have been no Marx; and if there had been no Marx, hundreds of millions of people would not have died in Marx's name, nor in the pursuit of his beliefs. It should never, ever be forgotten that the most important words Marx ever spoke were 'I am not a Marxist'. This was a recantation of previous belief - or the lack thereof - which was absolutely analogous to, and just as important as, the deathbed reconciliations with the Catholic Church undertaken by both Voltaire and Gramsci.
The pain of the 20th Century was not rooted in political belief; it was fundamentally rooted in economic belief. The political rock n' roll flowed from the economic just as surely as day follows night; and the ultimate father of all that pain and suffering, the frail and fragile man who made all that possible, was an 18th Century echopraxic Tourettist.
So if atheists think of God as 'The Sky Fairy', they should have no objection to seeing Adam Smith being described as 'The Pie in the Sky Fairy'. If they believe in their atheism strongly enough, they will find the courage to continue believing in their god when they see him being insulted by blasphemers.
As a now notorious hate chant puts it - that's what it's all about!

A Seasonal Special

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Adeste Fideles

Yesterday, I cracked; I bought a copy of 'The Shock Doctrine'.
This essay might just get me tossed out the next edition.
I'm only at Page 14, yet the book has already made some strong impressions; principally that in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Jamar Perry most likely had no problem which could have possibly been solved by him being the object of Naomi Klein's curiosity.
'Economic shock therapy' should be considered a school of economic thought in its own right, not just as one aspect of Klein's concept of 'disaster capitalism' - for what it's worth, I agree with her that 'disaster capitalism' does exist.
The analogy she draws between Chile in 1973 and Iraq in 2004 seems solid; but her fixation on the world of the moment makes her miss the first example that same world ever saw of the 'disaster capitalism' she describes. On the other hand, given what it was and where and when it happened, it's entirely reasonable that she shouldn't know.
Ms. Klein puts my name very close to the phrase 'free market ideologues'. If she thinks that what I am, then I'm more than happy to clear up the misunderstanding.
And she completely fails to understand just why Milton Friedman would describe himself as being like "an old-fashioned preacher delivering a Sunday sermon"; it's because - all together now - economics is not a science, but a religion, and he was one of its High Priests.
This is a conservative heresy, but the historians of the future will probably judge Friedman far more harshly than he has been judged up to now. In preparing this essay, I re-read the interview he gave to Peter Brimelow which was published in 'Forbes' in December 1997. It's on a website Naomi Klein probably doesn't read.
Immigration restrictionists laud that interview because of Friedman's observation that "(i)t's just obvious that you can't have free immigration and a welfare state"; yet his words do not make at all clear whether or not Friedman would have favoured free immigration if the welfare state were no longer to exist. He might have been a member of the Minutemen for all I know; yet his words are ambivalent, and give the impression he was far more interested in the welfare state than immigration.
And for all his references to having been proved right, that interview contains irrefutable proof of his fallibility. He said,
"I've been predicting the euro would never happen. I'm still not sure I'm wrong."
Well he was, with bells on.
It is no surprise that Naomi Klein should not have heard of the first time that the strong imposed disaster capitalism on the weak. It happened in Scotland, and to fully understand it requires a detour down the bye-ways of Scottish history.
The very phrase 'political oeconomy' was coined by Sir James Denham-Steuart of Coltness, a quixotic Lanarkshire Jacobite whose views were in print almost a decade before 'The Wealth of Nations' hit the streets.
'The Wealth of Nations' was, of course, the work of Adam Smith, sometime Professor of Moral Philosophy at the University of Glasgow. As recently as the 1920's, the Scottish Catholic Church forbade Catholics to study that subject at that institution.
Adam Smith - what a name; that of First Man, and Everyman. He might have been a Tourettist with the worst case of echopraxia in the literature; but you couldn't create a better name for a cult's totem if you tried. Norman Davies, a historian whose works the conservative should approach with the utmost caution, wrote of the religion Smith fathered that,
"(Economics) has moved into the void left by the decline of religion and the moral consensus; and it is increasingly seen as the main preoccupation of public policy, a panacea for social ills, the source even of private contentment. From being a technical subject, explaining human society in the way that medicine explains the human body, it threatens to become an end in itself, laying down goals, motives, incentives. Smith, the moralist, would have been appalled."
Oh, I'm not so sure.
One of Smith's most avid disciples was a grasping, deeply unpleasant Highland lawyer named Patrick Sellar; and it is Patrick Sellar, not Milton Friedman, who deserves to be known as the father of 'disaster capitalism', for his elimination of the community of Strathnaver, almost 200 years ago.
A land agent of the Countess of Sutherland, Sellar believed in the absolute truth of 'The Wealth of Nations' so avidly that in order to prove it was true, he burned people out of their homes; as I once put it elsewhere -
"...there are remarkable similarities between, of all things, the reconstruction of postwar Iraq and the most notorious episode of the so-called 'Highland Clearances', that of Strathnaver, and they're rooted in administrative over-reliance on economic theory. The State Department wonks who thought that spontaneous order would just break out once the Iraqis were free, free, free were just as wrong, wrong, wrong as Patrick Sellar, a devout disciple of the bits of the 'Wealth of Nations' that he liked, was when he thought that crofters settled on parcels of land too small for their subsistence would just divide their labour and prosper; no questions asked. It didn't happen then - it's a pity anyone thought it would ever happen now. "
What happened in Strathnaver was precisely what happened in Iraq; and what's worse, it happened for the same reasons, and suffered the same failed outcomes. In both cases, the strong enriched themselves at the weak's expense through the use of force.
Economics is a brutal religion. As a possible hero of the future once said, "(e)ven warring Mafia Dons respected each other’s homes"; but neoliberal 'disaster capitalism' economics doesn't. It wants in to your home to do business, regardless of whatever wish you might have to protect your privacy and your family.
Before neoliberal economics, you just bought your utilities from the Gas or Electricity Board; and the elderly and vulnerable didn't have guys like Billy Aitchison and Sonny Devlin coming to their doors. Politicians' blind acceptance of neoliberal economic ideology, or more accurately their belief in its religious dogmas, has been the sole enabler of these mens' activities. Do any of us really feel richer because they've been allowed to be in business? Have we really become a better country because of them?
The British working day is now 24/7/365, and it all depends on sales. As soon as you get in from a day's work, a telesales agent is on the phone trying to sell you something. No transaction seems complete without some kind of pitch being made to buy another service, whether it be insurance or a store card. We have become addicted to buying, and in consequence a disproportionate number of us are now employed in selling - an activity for which only a very few have the aptitude and inclination, which is the real reason why call centres have such high staff turnover rates. This is not a natural state of affairs. This has been manufactured.
"The government has been accused of trampling on individual liberties by proposing wide-ranging new powers for bailiffs to break into homes and to use “reasonable force” against householders who try to protect their valuables.

Under the regulations, bailiffs for private firms would for the first time be given permission to restrain or pin down householders. They would also be able to force their way into homes to seize property to pay off debts, such as unpaid credit card bills and loans."
So a state-sanctioned thug will be permitted to break your arm in your own living room in order to make you pay unsecured debts. This is not capitalism; it's gangsterism.
Yet incredibly, this has been reported on the same day it's also come into the public domain that ministers have been planning to charge benefit claimants interest of 27% per cent on social fund loans. On December 4 2007, I raised questions regarding the atrocious service that some Incapacity Benefit claimants were receiving, resulting in them being effectively forced to take crisis loans. Now those loans, only ever granted on the condition that repayments are deducted at source from future benefits, are going to carry an interest rate over 13 times higher than the Bank of England base!
In a world which is moving backwards, in which the middle classes are in the process of being reproletarianised, this is as close to the reintroduction of serfdom as we have yet come.
Just three days ago, I described Peter Mandelson as being 'a man on a mission' for trying to get as much of the Royal Mail as he can into private hands before the economy really goes belly up in 2009. It seems I wasn't wrong - the 'Independent' has reported that,
"The Treasury is considering privatising other state assets in what critics have called a recession "fire sale". These include:
*Ordnance Survey
*The Met Office
*The Forestry Commission
*The Queen Elizabeth II conference centre in Westminster
*The Covent Garden Market Authority
*The Royal Mint
*The Tote
*Buildings owned by British Waterways
*British Nuclear Fuel's stake in uranium enrichment company Urenco
*The Oil & Pipeline Agency, which manages the UK's underground network of fuel distribution pipelines. "
Given that this essay concerns economic practices more suited to 1809 than 2009, ye tricorn is typped to Masters Lindsay and Tall.
This is not 'privatisation', a practice which at all times has the same relationship to handling stolen goods as nationalisation has to theft. It is not even the healthy seeking of normal profit. This is pillage - a pillage instigated by those whom the pillaged have appointed to safeguard their interests.
There is a now little-used word to describe this kind of behaviour. That word is treason.
The word 'neoliberal' derives from the Romanian 'neoliberalismul'; according to Stanley Payne in 'A History of Fascism', it was the policy of the Romanian Liberal Party in the 1930's, 'that stressed more authoritative and corporate organisation under a modernising elite to create a modern social and economic structure'. For all their talk of being progressive, New Labour has been regressive instead of modernising; yet in very other respect, Payne's analysis fits it to a tee. For the past 11 years at least, the United Kingdom has been led by elitists with a policy platform appropriate for a Balkan backwater the best part of a century ago.
The elitism of our elites is so elitist that it's begin to alarm even the elitists themselves. In today's 'Sunday Times', no less an elitist than Andrew Sullivan himself writes,
"...a smaller government historically led to stronger, wealthier elites and they used their economic wealth to maintain their political power. "
There are those who believe that this process is being duplicated as we speak, and that mass privatisation is one of the tools that such elites use in order to strengthen their political power. In that sense, we are all Americans now. But people who suggest such things are of course nothing more than conspiracy theorists, deserving of no fate other than to be stripped of whatever shreds of intellectual credibility they have left.
It does give you another insight into the philosophy behind small government conservatism, though, doesn't it?
Economics is a religion - as I commented here,
"It is predicated on the belief - not the fact, mind, but the belief - that all human beings act rationally at all times in their own interests. This makes it a particularly vile and Satanic religion, because that proposition is sufficiently tempting to weak minds to make them think it might be true. It means that the economist, like the Freudian psychologist, becomes detached from God because their beliefs deny the existence of such phenomena as grace and providence. As John Maynard Keynes, who was to classical economics what Arius or Pelagius was to the early Church, put it, the actions of every man alive are dictated by the writings of some long dead economist. You can opt into or out of religious belief - you have no such leeway with economics. "
In fact, this is wrong - the Pelagius of classical economics was not Keynes, but Marx. Keynes was instead its Luther.
It's nearly Christmas, the whole point of which is remembering the hope of redemption and salvation. If we're going back in time 200 years, then let's go the whole bloody hog. There is absolutely no reason why one group should be able to luxuriate in the past while the rest of us have to suffer in the hell they have made of the present.
Let's hear it for one of my favourite characters from the early 19th Century -Gregory XVI, the most ultrareactionary pope in history.
His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI could give his flock no greater gift this Christmas than by doing something that Pope Gregory XVI would not have hesitated to do; he should anathemise economics, publicly declare it a false religion, and issue an edict forbidding Catholics to study it. If the study of moral philosophy could be banned, so too can the study of economics. He should warn the world of its dangers and call for those Catholics whose faith has suffered through having studied economics to reconcile themselves to their Church for the love of God and in the hope of eternal salvation.
If that helps save one soul this Christmas, then the opportunity cost of the derision he would suffer from economists would be a price well worth paying. Adeste fideles, brothers and sisters in Christ - it's time to come home, where a warm welcome awaits you.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Morality Of Preferring Beasts Over Humans

The best place for a dog is a Korean menu.
The BBC reports that the late Dr. Grace Smith, a resident of Alves who died in January 2008 at the age of 85, left almost the whole of her £7 million estate to animal rescue charities.
There is something vaguely disgusting about this. Yes, these animals are God's creatures, and thus deserve to be treated with tenderness and care. Yes - ideological mantra alert - it's her money, and she can do what she likes with it. As someone unburdened by wealth (I keep the telephone number of the Scottish Solicitors' Benevolent Fund inside my well-thumbed copy of 'The Wealth of Nations'; if you've ever contemplated begging for a living, the least you can do is have a laugh about it afterwards), I'll never have her problem; and whatever the late Dr. Smith elected to do with her readies should really be none of my business.
But does the North East of Scotland not possess any hospice where the terminally ill can go to die in peace and which is probably in dire need of financial support? As a female doctor from the generation who were the real feminist trailblazers into the professions, are there now no female medical students who might be in need of bursaries? Does the North East not even have any medieval Kirks in need of a new roof? After all, even Mrs. Jellaby, created as a parody of philanthropy and more interested in the poor of Africa while England's poor starved on her doorstep, could lay a claim to putting the interests of human beings first.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Moral Majority Mourns

Paul M. Weyrich, the man who coined the phrase 'the moral majority', has passed away. Hat tip Larry Auster.
The son of a German immigrant, Weyrich was one of the most steadfast and committed conservatives that the United States of America has ever produced. William F. Buckley Jr. was ever a calculating conservative of the head; but like Pat Buchanan, Russell Kirk and Otto Scott, Paul Weyrich was ever a conservative of the heart.
One of the founders of The Heritage Foundation, he later cut his ties with that organisation when it began morphing into the clearing house for Rockefeller 'conservatism' it was eventually to become; nothing but an intellectual fig leaf covering the nakedness of the same Rockefeller conservatism's avarice.
My path crossed Mr. Weyrich's many times once Shane Cory started buying his articles for 'The Washington Dispatch'. Although my contributions were original and his syndicated, it is still with some pride that I recall having been published on the same page as that great patriot.
He was to become the CEO of the Free Congress Foundation; in that capacity, his greatest achievement was promoting William Lind to prominence. Like his now late old boss, Bill Lind is a modern prophet; it is a pity that his voice has not been heard, just as his old boss was marginalised and ignored.
At all times in history, people need heroes; this need is so deep there's now even a (very watchable) television show which takes this concept as its foundation. Paul Martin Weyrich was one of my heroes, and he has achieved a feat shared by very few - to be mourned by those who never even knew him. That's greatness.

RIP.

The Concept Of Service

One would hope that Reid does not spend her own leisure time swanning up and down Byres Road, but devotes every free moment to daubing lepers' sores with turpentine instead.
What Reid does not understand that in a service economy, everyone is serving everyone else every bloody minute of every bloody day. Those of us Thatcher's Children who have had no options in life other than service careers do not appreciate lectures from journalists, whose prattlings betray them as being detached from reality, on why we have no idea of service, or why it would be a good idea for us to serve people more. I spend my working days assisting other people get access to the necessities of life; yesterday, my reward for this from one person was to be sworn at, while another felt it necessary to ask me what I would think of my father dying in particularly unpleasant circumstances. I have been sworn at by peoples of all nations who have come to me for help. I do this because I wish to stay independent of the state, primarily because I cannot afford to be dependent on the state, and because of other factors there are no other options for me - unless, of course, Reid wishes to move over and give me her column. Who knows, I might even make a better job of it.
That would be a selfless act which would greatly help a poor cripple fallen on hard times. How about it, Ms. Reid? After all, it's Christmas.
We will see more and more of this type of commentary during 2009. Although she is probably unaware of it, what Reid is calling for is not a greater ethic of service but the introduction of 'robot'; the unpaid labour which the German nobles imposed upon the people as a reaction to the economic devastation caused by the Thirty Years War. This is a strain of thought which is very dangerous to the continued liberty of the British people; she might not think so, but what she is calling for is serfdom.
Melanie Reid is a member of the elite, and all elitists share two defining chracteristics - they want to stay elitists regardless of the consequences to other people, and boy, do they like being served.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

If You Read Nothing Else Today...

read this.

The main site's going on the blogroll.

Hat Tip Dennis.

A Man On A Mission

My scepticism regarding Peter Mandelson's motives in accepting the post of 'Business Secretary' is a matter of record; yet even to the most neutral and disinterested observer, the urgency with which he seems prepared to privatise the Royal Mail might seem like the action of a man on a mission.
To use the hatefully bloodless language of economics, the Royal Mail is not just a resource to be exploited to its greatest efficiency - it's got the word 'Royal' in the title. This might not be a full-blooded constitutional matter; but it takes plans to sell it, and the concomitant 'creative destruction' of the livelihoods of those who serve us by working for it, into a slightly different political league than the eugenic disposal of other public assets. The sale of public assets is just as much an act of state intervention in the economy as the rescue of a failing business; it is a pity that for the past 30 years, conservatives have been so wilfully blinded by the religious nature of their economic beliefs that they have failed to see it. They will deny the Resurrection of The Son of God, but hail as absolute truth the ramblings of a Tourettist from Kirkcaldy.
There is absolutely no need for this move right now. It has already cost the government one member, Jim McGovern - Mr. McGovern, a man who seems worthy of respect, might just be a contender for the title 'New Labour's Bonnie Dundee', and good on him; you might not agree with his principles, but at least he's shown he has some.
Yet if other comments he has made have been reported accurately, one is entitled to have grave concerns as to whether or not Peter Mandelson has become detached from reality. At a time when unemployment is rising sharply, he's pontificated on the collapse of Woolworths that it had been a 'company that didn’t march forward with the times, didn’t change with the times in the way you need to in an increasingly competitive marketplace' and has also been reported as saying that, 'many of the (author's note - 27,000)sacked staff would have a good chance of finding work elsewhere in the retail sector'.
Right now, my lord, just who is selling what to whom? We are in a recession - a British economy which has been politically managed into being overly dependent on the provision of services cannot just conjure up what might need to be as many as 27,000 jobs into existence out of thin air, no matter what any number of distinguished academic economists tell you. Where are they going to go to work? Are they all to become reproletarianised packers at Amazon? After you.
His remarks about 'marching forward with the times' is absolutely illuminating. In his head, History is on the march. Movements on the march have a track record of being unwholesome and dangerous; it was not without reason that movement conservatism was founded on the slogan 'to stand athwart History, shouting 'Stop!'. By proposing to sell off the Royal Mail, to whomever and for whatever reason, Mandelson is intervening in the economy - where is the conservative outrage?
One has to be careful about what one says these days, what with all this loathesome tinfoil-hat-o-phobia floating about; but given his absolute commitment to globalisation, and the absolute lack of necessity regarding the privatisation of the Royal Mail, one might be tempted to think that Mandelson is doing all he can to get as many state assets as he can into private hands before we enter 2009 - a year which might just be 1917 all over again, of which more later. However, that would be paranoid conspiracy theory - wouldn't it?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Fate Of The Navvies

As soon as I clicked Laban Tall's link, I thought 'I know this man'.
Not him personally, but I've met a thousand Paddy McGees, and have even been related to a few of them; the devout Catholic shop steward, probably oldest Old Labour, probably likely to do anything to help anyone else and possessed of an innate sense of fairness, born of a very deep and universal sense of right and wrong, that makes them as stubborn as mules in the face of real or perceived injustice. Many are like Ents, rooted to the ground on which they were born. I would imagine Martin Meenagh knows quite a few of the type as well.
Mr. McGee is now dead, having been decapitated on his doorstep in Manchester. The motive for the killing may have been a neighbourhood noise dispute. His killer violated his mortal remains, dumping his head in a bin. A man is reported to be in custody.
Decapitation is not a particularly Anglo-Irish way of despatching your foes, or hasn't been for at least a few centuries. James Higham has posted a piece which begins, "These names - Bilal Abdulla, Mohammed Asha, Kafeel Ahmed, Hasib Hussain, Mohammad Sidique Khan, Shehzad Tanweer, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Mohamed Atta, Ayman al-Zawahiri, Khaled al-Harbi, Shamil Salmanovich Basayev, Osman Larussi, Yacine Benalia, Kamel Rabat Bouralha, Imam Samudra - they're all Jewish names, aren't they?" I titled my own thoughts on the 2006 airliner plot, "I Couldn't See Paddy O' Shaughnessy". Yet one cannot draw conclusions until all the facts are known.
Paddy McGee was one of the last of a particular civilisation - the navvy. They were as stubborn as hell, but many had good hearts and did good things. He didn't deserve to go to God that way. I only hope he didn't suffer.
O Lord, grant eternal rest unto your son Patrick, and may perpetual light shine upon him, may he rest in peace; and may his soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

The British Pension Crisis

Alice Miles writes about how we can't afford to keep paying bloated public sector pensions.
Just for once, it would be nice to see a commentator remark upon the relationship between public sector pension liabilities and the 35 year decline in wages which means that instead of households being capable of being able to live on one income, multiples of two now seem required - a phenomenon which means I get to see my wife for about 90 minutes in any 24 hour period.
After all, I married her, not Margaret Thatcher.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

How Scotland's Justice Secretary Reacts To The Conviction Of A Muslim Terrorist

The Copfighter-General states,

"...it is also important to remember that we are all Jock Tamson's bairns irrespective of creed, colour or religion".

As I wrote on December 12,

"But as a wannabe slave overseer once said, we're a' Jock Tamson's Bairns. Never mind The Copfighter-General's spastic lapse into his default mode of mouthing Scotocentric nationalist platitudes after the Glasgow airport attack; his performance that day was not unlike that of a street mime imitating a robot, or a computer forcing itself to reboot. Upon hearing the news, one can imagine him reciting the mantra 'A man's a man for a' that... a man's a man for a' that...a man's for a' that' with an increasingly hysterical passion."

Kenny MacAskill is becoming a dangerous and foolish parody of himself, the consequence of having filled a spiritual and intellectual vacuum with synthetic beliefs and manufactured ideas. He has needed of meat and potatoes, solid food, but has eaten candy floss.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Tinfoil Hats

Tim Worstall has published a post mocking 'Tinfoil Hats'.
Tim is a nice guy, and I consider him a friend; he once offered me an unsolicited act of kindness, which he'd never discuss and for which I remain very grateful. But such posts strike me as rather silly, and as a friend I hope he doesn't mind my saying that it seems like a rather illiberal posture from someone who considers himself to be a classic English liberal. The closed-mindedness of the braying mules who never fail to comment on such posts, popping up like bad pennies and as tenacious as nits, is just tedious.
'Londonistan' is a deeply flawed book, but Melanie Phillips does produce one very profound insight about why the culture of Londonistan, a state of mind as much as a place, was allowed to develop. Classic English liberals seem to have an ingrained tendency to spastically reject that which they cannot automatically explain; the idea that groups of influential people might meet in secret to do anything other than drink tea and watch the 4.30 at Wincanton is alien to them. They cannot fathom it. They are so nice that they cannot get their heads around the idea that others might not be as nice as them; the old quangocrat is a classic of the breed.
It is this psychological straitjacket (good loony allusion that - mental, huh?) that prevents them from even engaging in discussion about things they do not understand, and makes them want to shy away from wanting to try.
Tim links to a blog run by a man called Peter Risdon; read him a couple of times, didn't seem to have anything interesting or insightful to say, at least not to me. He quotes a chap named Mohammed Naseem as saying,
"...there were "4 organisations running the world" – the Bilderberg group, the Trilateral Commission, McKenzie and Co Public Relations, and Common Purpose."
Ha ha - let's all have a good laugh at the Muslim tinfoiled turban having a good mouthfart about the Bilderberg Group.
If Tim or any of the commentors on his post actually want to find about the Trilateral Commission, they can go to its website.
Until reading that post, I had never even heard of McKenzie & Co. Tim and Peter had better be careful; some folk might think they're spreading conspiracy theories.
If they want to find about Common Purpose, they can read about it extensively at the blog of the notorious and slavering conspiracy theorist and, er, very widely read UK political blogger James Higham, another blogger this blogger considers a friend. Maybe the Russkies got to him during all those years in Moscow!
For fans of real red meat conspiracy theory, you know, the hard stuff, the under the counter stuff you need contacts to get, here's my favourite - the Jesuits were responsible for 9/11.
However, I stand foursquare with Dr. Naseem of the Birmingham Central Mosque in our mutual suspicion of The Bilderberg Group; a suspicion which might just earn me an arch, pseudo-withering put down from Oliver Kamm, as if I give a monkey's.
On April 15 2006 I lodged a request under the Freedom of Information Act concerning whatever relationship Ed Balls might have had with Bilderberg when he was a member of the Civil Service in 2002 and 2003. I received a reply saying they didn't hold any such info. I then e-mailed the bug-eyed bootleg butty banner himself, and received the shortest of shrift.
Imagine my surprise on later finding a report in the 'Telegraph' claiming that he charged his expenses for attending Bilderberg 2006 to the taxpayer. They'll be running out of tinfoil in Canary Wharf in no time; just don't tell the leader writers on 'The Times'.
The piece is illustrative of the British media's relationship with Bilderberg; it's not the skulking in corners of those who have no mandate to skulk with each other that gets to them. Possible political perversion of the Civil Service? Who cares about that - Ed is obviously exceptional.
No, what gets them hot and bothered is the merest possibility of petty chiselling. It's what Lawrence Peter called taking care of the molehills in the hope that the mountains will take care of themselves.
But these tinfoil hatters who believe that the Queen is a 12 foot tall lizard (the province of the disturbed more in need of compassion than disdain) and that George H. W. Bush eats babies in Bohemian Grove get everywhere. They even get into Hansard.
There's the notorious conspiracy theorist John Bercow - yes, that John Bercow - who on July 4 2000 asked the following question in The House of Commons - of the Prime Minister -
"To ask the Prime Minister which Ministers attended the session of the Bilderberg Conference in Sintra entitled, How Durable is the Current Rosy Complexion of European Politics; and what (a) written and (b) oral report of the Bilderberg Conference was submitted to him. [128134]"
Tony Blair replied,
"So far as I am aware, no Minister attended this conference. "
Indeed - if what's been said of Ed Balls is true, within a couple of years civil servants were attending. Who need ministers when you can have real policymakers at the table?
Then there's an anonymous MP called Gill, who once lodged the following written question to Tony Blair -
"To ask the Prime Minister which members of his Government have attended meetings of the Bilderberg Group."
"The Prime Minister [holding answer 16 March 1998]: None"
Which of course means that reports that Gordon Brown attended Bilderberg 1991 and that Blair himself attended Bilderberg 1993 must be false, because Tony's a Catholic now and doesn't tell lies.
But of course, there's always the sticky matter of the complaint to the Parliamentary Commissioner of Standards made against Kenneth Clarke concerning the circumstances under which he did attend Bilderberg 1993.
Readers are invited to peruse the terms of Paragraph 5 -
" 5. Mr Clarke subsequently explained that he and Mr Blair considered that they were attending the conference as representatives of the Government and the Opposition respectively, and stated that `I was quite confident that I was at the time meeting the rules applying to Ministers, and it did not occur to me that the new rules concerning registration could apply to this visit'.
This cuts right to the core of my interest in Bilderberg - it is a private, non-governmental organisation to which the UK is not bound by any law, treaty or protocol; so why have Her Majesty's Government and Her Majesty's Opposition been sending 'representatives' to it?
Pace William Goldman, who are these guys?
Readers are then invited to peruse the terms of Paragraph 7 -
" 7. As Mr Clarke correctly pointed out, neither he nor Mr Blair registered their attendance at the conference on their return. Mr Blair did so two years later in 1995, following a complaint to the former Select Committee that he had failed to register that visit, together with an earlier visit to Washington as a member of an All-Party Group. The Committee in their Report acknowledged that certain aspects of the Rules had been the subject of widespread misapprehension and recommended that no further action should be taken in respect of the complaints made against Mr Blair. "
On 30 March 1998, Tony Blair told a Member of Parliament that no member of his government had attended meetings of the Bilderberg Group when it was already a matter of parliamentary
record that he had attended one himself. Perhaps he had forgotten.
The Bilderberg Group can sit around planning to take over the world, implant us all with computer chips and makes us don tutus and dance the can-can round the maypole for all I care - what I don't like is the secrecy. Will Hutton, a sometime Bilderberger, calls its members 'the high priests of globalisation'; but of course we're right of centre bloggers, and Will Hutton has nothing to say to us. The European Union is supposed to be another of its concoctions - if you don't like what the EU stands for, why mock those who try to find out more about those who might have midwifed it? I did not write 'Pining For The Cold War' out of any kind of nostalgia for 'Mutually Assured Destriction', but because absolutely nobody ever seems to make the connection between the end of a situation which helped to keep those like the Bilderbergers might be in check and the creation of the European Union. One followed hard on the heels of the other, in the face of enormous opposition. The question nobody has never been able to answer for me is why. So one is entitled to speculate. The creation of the European Union must have been a plan hatched during the Cold War, and its founders were desperate to make it come alive as soon they were free to do so. Who were these people? What were their motives?
It is the complete silence one encounters when trying to find answers to such questions which leads one into areas others mock as 'conspiracy theory'.
The blame for the veil of silence which is drawn over Bilderberg must be placed at the door of the media. David Rockefeller was reported to have said at Bilderberg 1991 that,
"We are grateful to the Washington Post, The New York Times, Time Magazine and other great publications whose directors have attended our meetings and respected their promises of discretion for almost forty years. It would have been impossible for us to develop our plan for the world if we had been subjected to the lights of publicity during those years. But, the world is now more sophisticated and prepared to march towards a world government. The supranational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and world bankers is surely preferable to the national auto-determination practiced in past centuries."
If that's true, then the classic English liberals can kiss their beloved England goodbye; and those who talk of 'tinfoil hats' might hopefully feel rather foolish.

Brought To Heel

How low can the esteem of the office of President of the United States be brought, when its holder is assailed by a foreigner determined to make him suffer one of a culture's most base insults?
What happened in Baghdad yesterday is without precedent in American history. We all remember how Saddam's image was beaten with shoes in 2003 - now the 'liberated' thus beat their 'liberator'. I cannot think of any relevant historical comparator for this event.
We might be entering into strange and intereting times indeed.

The Watermelon Man

Christopher Booker reports an astonishing incident in which Vaclav Klaus was apparently on the receiving end of what can only be described as very nasty personal abuse from Daniel Cohn-Bendit for failing to get with the European program.
If the report is accurate, Cohn-Bendit's behaviour can properly be described as imperial; a very 21st century version of Palmerstonian 'damn your eyes' gunboat diplomacy.
How ironic that this incident should have occurred in Prague, of all places. On 19th March this year, I wrote,
"This year we will see many invocations of Daniel Cohn-Bendit and the spirit of 1968; these accounts will probably far outnumber those remembering Alexander Dubcek and the Prague Spring. It will be just like 2006, when British media seemed to contain many more reflections on the collapse of British imperial power at Suez in 1956 than on the Soviet invasion of Hungary - an event which was taking place at the same moment as Suez. "
And so it was; and Cohn-Bendit, the ultimate spoiled baby boomer who grew old without ever growing up, the perpetual student activist and enfant terrible, waves the star-spangled rag that symbolises modern anti-Christian European totalitarianism in the face of a man who saw The Brezhnev Doctrine up close and personal, without reflecting for a second on the absolute impropriety of his actions.
Klaus is reported to have slapped Cohn-Bendit down with the wonderful comment, "You are not on the barricades in Paris here". Yet in one sense Klaus is wrong; for nostalgic and foolish old soixante-huitards like Cohn-Bendit, the barricades in Paris have never come down in their heads, leading them to spend the rest of their lives trying to recapture that shining moment of their gilded youth. The BBC seems to be full of them.
He might not, ahem (COUGH!), have been the, er, cuddliest of Cold Warriors, but the late Roberto d' Aubuisson coined a wonderful expression that fits Greens like Daniel Cohn-Bendit to a tee. D' Aubuisson would have described them as 'watermelons' - green on the outside, red on the inside; and the old sans-culotte Daniel Cohn-Bendit should wear the badge with pride. His thought processes at the age of 63 are the same as they were when he was 23; peace and love, man, and give me what I want.
Plus ca change...

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Truth About Incapacity Benefit

is now up on The Devil's Kitchen.

A Wormhole Has Opened, And We've Gone Back In Time 200 Years, Once More

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Suicide Of The Toynbee Name And Reputation

Last century, the brilliant Arnold J. Toynbee wrote that civilisations die not because they are murdered, but because they commit suicide. This was a profound insight, the truth of which is plain to all those now living in Toynbee's homeland who open their eyes to see.
Many seem to assume that Toynbee was a Marxist; if so, he's the oddest one I've ever read, because unless I've grossly misread him, the solution he proposed for the crisis of the West was the wholesale re-evangelisation of Europe.
This century, his grand-daughter Polly Toynbee, ever shallow where her ancestor was systematic, ideological where he was objective and frivolous where he was serious, publishes an article in praise of assisted suicide. The irony of this is almost impossible to gauge.
I am sure that bearing an illustrious ancestor's famous name must be a heavy burden at times, closing some doors while opening others; but in this case, it's probably not too strong to say that she should be ashamed of herself, and that if he could read what she has written today, her grandfather would be ashamed of her as well.
She writes in favour of assisted suicide because of her mother's suffering; I write against it through naked self-interest, as the sufferer of an incurable neurological disorder who's a likely candidate for the needle in the arm once 'assisted suicide' rapidly morphs into involuntary euthanasia, just as safe, legal and rare abortion rapidly became social abortion (of course, by that point I'll probably have been branded a political undesirable, greasing my path to the front of the eugenic queue).
That has been the track of modern history; there is absolutely no reason to believe that doctors will not euthanise with the same abandon that they have aborted.
Her reasons for supporting such an assisted suicide law are personal; my reasons for opposing it are also personal, and mine's are as good as hers.
But people like me never get access to the bully pulpit of a 'Guardian' column, and my paternal grandfather, God rest his great and beloved old soul, didn't write great works of historical analysis, but owned a boozer in Townhead; a livelihood to all intents and purposes stolen from him by local politicians of the Labour Party to which he belonged all his adult life.
Regardless of the motivation for its commission, the act of self-destruction is always the consequence of hopeless despair. Where there is life, there is hope. Hope, the forgotten virtue, is anathema to all those like Polly who would make the world in their own image. She really does seem to believe in her own exceptionalism; she would provide her grandfather with a rich seam of material on the folly of hubris.
Those who tout assisted suicide don't believe that where there's life, there's hope; however, they do believe in its converse, that where is no life, there's no hope, and that where they think there's no hope, there should be no life.
Accepting the act of self-destruction when it is perpetrated by others is one of the first steps towards accepting the destruction of everything about yourself; your person, your history, your society. Assisted suicide is not compassionate, but nihilistic. It is not just destructive, it is anti-creative in the same way that abortion is anti-creative. Being anti-creative, those who promote it expose themselves as anti-creative, people who have no fresh ideas. They cannot think of solutions to the problems they face, so they would quite literally prefer to lie down and die; and their pride and arrogance makes them expect the rest of us to lie down and die beside them. Shes not on.
If she were creative, she would expend her energies campaigning for awareness of the horrible suicide rate amongst young men in the Highlands of Scotland and the Republic of Ireland. She would write of the compassion which should be shown to those left behind, and the hideous trauma they have to endure. Her failure to do shows that where her grandfather was part of what he described as 'the creative minority', she is part of his oppressive, uncaring 'dominant minority'. She could have stepped off her grandfather's pages.
Polly is the product of a dynasty; and if civilisations die by suicide, then dynasties always die because the younger members are never as good as their ancestors. I have a grave suspicion that it has been many years since she read a word that her grandfather wrote, if she has ever read him at all; what she has written today is evidence that it's long past time for her to do so.
Dedicated to the memories of Arnold Joseph Toynbee (1889 - 1975) & Joseph Patrick Kelly (1907-1984). RIP.