Thursday, August 30, 2007

David Frum On 'The Great Nation'

Today I broke a promise I made myself months ago - I clicked on NRO.

And there it was - the biggest single pile of guff I have yet to read on that site; David Frum's review of Colin Jones's 'The Great Nation'.

OK, so I have a letter on Frum on today's 'VDare' - but it was not my intention to make today 'Take a Pop at Frum Day'; it's just that, having finished Jones's book two days ago, his review is so bad that it cannot pass without comment.

Sound the tocsin!

I'm afraid it might also show that there are some, what might one say, gaps in his knowledge of the French Revolution.

He writes,

"The best sections of The Great Nation gather revisionist work on the 18th-century French economy into a new consensus view. For example: Far from the stagnant subsistence regime depicted in older accounts, the Bourbon economy grew dynamically in the 18th century. Even if wage growth slowed after about 1750, family incomes probably continued to rise thanks to the ability of many peasant families to find new additional lines of work in the slack seasons of the year. "

Er...this is not news. Simon Schama made precisely the same point in 'Citizens'. Some nobles wanted to get rich, so they diversified into manufacturing. Schama uses the giant metallurgical works at Chateau-du-where-the hell-eveur as a particular case in point.

He continues,

"Jones variously suggests that 18th-century France was dechristianizing and rechristianizing, basing his conclusions in each instance on particular studies of particular places. "

Er...no. That is precisely not the point that Jones makes. What he does do is refer to the fact that in some places the influence of the Constitutional Church, the worst botch of Talleyrand's long and disgusting career, was greater than elsewhere; as he also points out the fact of very great moment to those who wish to understand the modern French, that the areas that stayed loyal to Rome are those which still, to this day, vote to the Right.

L'esprit de clocher, attachment to one's steeple, is a concept a committed internationalist like Frum might find hard to understand; but it still comes easy to the French - vive leur petits cotton-socks.

He continues,

"We read 18th century French history conscious of the impending revolution, aware that the story will end in catastrophe. But the 18th-century French did not know that. They lived in the aftermath of Louis XIV, not in the apprehension of Robespierre. "

Fair enough point, I suppose - although your average 18th century French peasant was probably more interested in the Angelus and the weather forecast than news of the Battle of Minden.

But he goes on,

"More problematically though Jones then extends this important insight into a passing claim that the French revolution was not inevitable, that 18th-century France was in many respects a strong and successful polity that contemporaries had every reason to expect to continue along its accustomed courses. "

Well, it wasn't inevitable. A serious student of French Revolutionary history would know that the bad harvests of 1787 and 1788 were just as important in fomenting the desire for change as the premiere of 'The Marriage of Figaro' or The Affair of the Diamond Necklace - as in all revolutions, the political running and riding was done by the middle classes; the yokels only developed an interest when the price of bread, a commodity for which Jones reports they had as many names as Eskimos have for snow, went through the roof.

He continues,
"Although France was a much richer society than England, the French state could not mobilize its resources anywhere near so effectively as the English state — and the interest groups that clustered around the Bourbon monarchy thwarted all attempts at reform that might have enhanced the state's effectiveness."
Hmm...this is where Frum's reading of Jones is a wee bit odd.
What was Malesherbes, easily the most attractive figure to spring from that period of French history, but a reformer?
What were the Physiocrats but reformers?
What, in their own way, were the civil servants who, according to Schama, waited until a Friday afternoon to tell Calonne there were only 400,000 livres in the kitty - enough to keep France going until suppertime - but reformers?
"If Jones is correct, then the revolution may not have been "inevitable" in the sense of unavoidable — but the alternative to revolution was not monarchical stability, but a gradual decline of the French state in the face of better organized neighbors ... as had happened to Spain in the previous century and would happen to Austria in the next."
No, no, NO!
If the constitutional monarchists had been better organised; if the good-hearted preening dope Lafayette had better directed his phenomenal energies towards working the room rather than checking his poll numbers; if Talleyrand had not unwittingly alienated Louis XVI with the whole Constitutional Church fiasco; if they had all been more astute and noted the influence that Robespierre was gathering; then France might have remained a monarchy to this day - it would not be an absolutist monarchy, but a monarchy nonetheless.
He goes on,
"Instead, the revolution demolished the Ancien Regime, tore down the barriers subdividing France's internal market, instituted effective taxation and conscription policies, and transformed France an all-conquering power for the first (and last) time".
He could not have read Jones's book closely - the trade in grain was freed at various intervals prior to 1789. And I'm not sure I like the sound of the words 'effective...conscription policies' coming out of the mouth of the 'Axis of Evil' guy four years into his own war - praise for policies which, over a period of 23 years (1792 - 1815), helped kill one and a half million Frenchmen.
'The Great Nation' is a wonderful book. Professor Jones's scholarship is of the highest calibre. Read it - and I give but one last spoiler.
When asked about the historical significance of the French Revolution, Chou en Lai famously remarked 'It's too early to tell'. Indeed it might be.
Jones records the commentor who remarked of France that it was a country where everything happened on the coast, with just emptiness in the middle.
I can think of no better description of modern China.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

A Black Day For The British Blogosphere

It's certainly been an interesting couple of days - if you oppose the suggestion, subject to qualification, that Iraqi translators to British forces should be resettled in the UK.
It's been suggested that I am a type of person who deserves to be headbutted and given a kicking.
David Gillies of The Daily Pundit has suggested that I "side with Islamofascists", that I am a "stupid c*nt" and that he "wouldn't cross the road to piss on (my) teeth if they were on fire".
In certainly one of the more creative if bizarre slurs I've ever been on the end of, it's been suggested that if I were an American colonist in 1776 I'd have supported slavery.
But the piece de resistance must be the argument of one Conor Foley that those who hold my view are potentially liable to prosecution for war crimes.
Time out, I think.
There is, of course, a Third Way out of this situation - one I put forward while being accused of supporting kidnapping for ransom.
It is asylum in a third country, possibly even an Arab one. That might present some practical difficulties, I know - as I said on the link directly above,
"...we would not now be having this debate had our government not invaded these peoples' homeland, helped destroy its economy, helped kill 130,000 of its people and left it without a functioning government for a number of years - all on the presumption of the US State Department that "spontaneous order" would break out. The idea that we might one day have to deal with those who are alleged to want to kill these people round the negotiating table in order to buy their oil so we can run our own economy doesn't seem to have occurred to anyone here - has it?"
Clearly it hasn't; and given the aggression we have engaged in against Iraq, getting any other Arab nation to fulfill its moral obligations towards their fellow Arabs might be a hard sell.
Chalk up another diplomatic victory for the liberal internationalists.
One of Tim Worstall's posts was headed "Neil Clark: War Criminal".
I'm ashamed to say that I lost the rag in a couple of his 'Comments' sections; it happens when one is being accused of war crimes.
Right now my blogging career is beginning to resemble Frank Sinatra's assorted retirements - but this episode has really sickened me. The Jacobinism on display from so-called liberals has been quite frightening - if this is citizen journalism, you can shove it. Bring on licenced blogging.
After five years and what certainly feels like three million words, I skulk off to my tent like Achilles. I have books to read; and maybe even one or two to write.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

'The Hegemony Of The Cockroach'

"Americans need to understand what the neocon Bush regime cannot: a nuclear exchange between the US, Russia, and China would establish the hegemony of the cockroach" -

PCR.

Polish Home Invasion Criminals

Afetr the murderer Wojciech Ciesla comes the assailant Andrzej Jaroszewski.

Some Thoughts On The Nature Of Heroism

In the piece to which I referred yesterday, Neil Clark wrote that,
"The interpreters did not work for "us", the British people, but for themselves - they are paid around £16 a day, an excellent wage in Iraq - and for an illegal occupying force. Let's not cast them as heroes. The true heroes in Iraq are those who have resisted the invasion of their country. "
Although I think I know what Neil means, it perhaps needs some qualification.
By no stretch of the imagination could any Allahstani Dalek, willing to exterminate women and children in exchange for heavenly virgins, ever be described as heroic.
Neither could any former Ba'athist. They were crapbags then, and they remain crapbags now. They will always be crapbags; for crapbags, like the poor, are always with us.
Neither could any one who decided to profit from adversity. They are camp followers; leeches.
The real heroes of Iraq are, first and foremost, those Iraqis who just struggle to get by, their homeland having been worsened, not bettered, by our presence there.
Secondly, they are those servicemen and women who volunteered to defend the United Kingdom and United States with their lives and now find themselves fighting in somebody else's ideological bloodbath.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Is Hypocrisy, Even Unconscious And Well Meaning, The Root Of Libertarianism?

The philosophy of libertarianism is built on the idea that the pursuit of self interest is the world's greatest force for good.
Neil Clark is taking a hammering in some libertarian parts for expressing our shared view that those Iraqis who pursued their self interest by acting as translators for the British Army in Iraq should not now be permitted to settle in the UK.
It seems to me that Neil's libertarian critics are unaware of their unconscious hypocrisy. These people acted in their own self-interest, for gain; they backed the wrong Wooden Horse.
That these Iraqis should now be at risk is an unfortunate, but perfectly forseeable, consequence of the same decisions they made in their own self-interest.
Why are they so worthy of special treatment, so deserving of an act of intervention by the dreaded, hated state, when the same people making these calls would probably not lift a finger to help the Scottish staff of IBP Conex Ltd.? Why do they think the services of those who helped us wage aggressive war to be valuable and worthy of recognition, when they also praise the destruction of British workers' livelihoods?
It makes no sense.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

George Soros On Bill Gates

"Now that he is engaged in an antitrust suit, being philanthropic will become part of his business strategy" -
Soros was writing in 1998; the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was established in, ahem, 2000.
We on the British right often fall into the trap of thinking our ideological opponents have nothing of value to say; and although Soros writes with the exasperated, and exasperating, air of one accustomed to being listened to, although I for one think his belief in stronger international institutions is wrong and although at page 101 of TCGC he writes "(h) ow can the abstract theoretical framework that I have elaborated at such length shed some light on the present moment in history(?)" (very good question - his theoretical framework is long if nothing else, by God; by that point I'd nearly chewed my arm off), as might be expected many of his observations are razor sharp and well worth consideration.
And perhaps Soros's role in helping kick inflation out of the British system for a decade by selling the pound short in 1992 merits him an honour.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Blue Moon

It must be a blue moon.
Tonight's Channel 4 News was presented by two white men - Alex Thomson and Carl Dinnen.

The Death Of Free Banking

This morning's 'Telegraph' reports that,
"Bank customers could be charged up to £500 a year under a system that would force them to pay for every transaction on their current account.

Customers would have to pay for each cash withdrawal, direct debit payment, standing order and written cheque. They would also be charged an annual fee for running the account.

The move would mean the end of free banking in this country. The banks are trying to recoup the millions of pounds they have recently had to pay out through customers reclaiming unfair overdraft charges. Last month it emerged that the biggest high street lenders have collectively had to pay-back £200 million to customers over the last six months."
The British public's addiction to the economically nonsensical fantasies that they can have cheap food and free banking is a matter of constant frustration - yet I would venture to suggest that the The Masters of The Universe who dreamt up the bank charges lark might not perhaps be able to wriggle out of the hole they've dug themselves into just by re-applying account and transaction fees.
I have recently become aware of a situation where a bank indicated it would settle with a customer intending to reclaim bank charges only upon production of a summons. Fee, fo, fo fum, I smell the dank odour of anti-litigation insurance...I'd really love to see a full breakdown of how that figure of £200 million has been made up...

The Death Of Thomas McGraw

The recent passing of Thomas McGraw may, if anything of what has been reported about him is correct, leave an enormous void at the heart of Glasgow's gangland.
The king is dead, long live the king - whoever he might be. Should some sort of shooting war break out, it is to be hoped that the denizens of that particular demi-monde do not leave too many corpses in the street for law abiding passers-by to trip over.
Yet even now that he is gone, the clean, hygienic fresh air of public audit will never be permitted to blow across some alleged aspects of Mr. McGraw's alleged career.
He was known as 'The Licensee', apparently because he held a 'license' to operate from Strathclyde Police in return for information received.
A properly framed freedom of information law would permit those of enquiring mind to have access to the cops' records of their contacts with dead grasses; but Section 30(1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 reads,
"Information held by a public authority is exempt information if it has at any time been held by the authority for the purposes of-

(a) any investigation which the public authority has a duty to conduct with a view to it being ascertained-

(i) whether a person should be charged with an offence, or

(ii) whether a person charged with an offence is guilty of it,

(b) any investigation which is conducted by the authority and in the circumstances may lead to a decision by the authority to institute criminal proceedings which the authority has power to conduct, or

(c) any criminal proceedings which the authority has power to conduct."
It's the 'at any time' bit that's the killer.
So the people of Glasgow will never be permitted to know whether or not elements within Strathclyde Police passively colluded with Thomas McGraw to flood the streets with smack.
I did not know Mr. McGraw; I do not know whether he was a good man or a bad man. Whatever he was, he is no longer with us; and as one Christian to another, my condolences to his family.

The Invisible Men

If 14 convicts broke out of Barlinnie, one might expect to see their names and faces plastered all over the national press.
It is therefore slightly surprising to note that no such information is being made available in respect of the 14 soon to be deported foreign convicts who broke out of the Campsfield Detention Cenre in Oxfordshire on Saturday August 14.
Just why is that? One would have thought that, under the circumstances, the interests of public safety might trump racial ideology - just for once.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Some Thoughts On The Disappearance Of Madeleine McCann

1. Obviously, I hope the wee lassie turns up safe and well.
2. But the accompanying dog and pony show is interminable.
3. Having been abducted in Portugal and apparently been sighted in the Low Countries, she's not likely to be coming into the South Lanarkshire supermarket where a 'Missing' poster has been hanging, for three months, at any point in the near future.
4. Her parents are both extremely well paid public sector professionals - why are they not back at work? Are they on full pay?
5. Who are these guys? Is Gerry McCann Glasgow Labour Party high caste? Do they know media people? Are they related to priests?
6. One can't help but wonder whether the delay in their return might be partly motivated by the prospect of the conversations they will have to have with Leicestershire Social Services, relating to the circumstances of their daughter's disappearance, being slightly less comfortable than the one they had with the Pope.

Marcus Garvey Way

Yesterday, the BBC reported that,
"A teenage boy has been shot dead in a street in south London.

The victim, believed to be aged about 18, was found on Friday at 2210 BST on Marcus Garvey Way, near Brixton underground station. "
The same journal defines 'black nationalism' as...
"a form of ethnic nationalism, advocating a racial definition (or redefinition) of national identity, as opposed to multiculturalism, which reaches a zenith in the 1850's among the African civilizationlist and reemerged in the late 1960s and early '70s in the United States among some African Americans.

While the origins of the movement are most commonly associated with Marcus Garvey's Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) of the 1920s, Garvey was preceded and influenced by Martin Delany, Henry Highland Garnett, Bishop Henry McNeal Turner,Henry Sylvestre-Williams, Dr. Robert Love and Edward Wilmot Blyden. Even though the future of Africa is seen as being central to Black nationalist ambitions, some adherents to Black nationalism are intent on the eventual creation of a separate black nation by African Americans."
It would be interesting to know whether or not the London Borough of Lambeth contains a George Lincoln Rockwell Street.
To Hell with all racial nationalists, whatever the colour of their skin.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Ouch! - Part I

Ouch! - Part II

Richistan

The great Paul Craig Roberts, to whom Lawrence Auster has taken to adopting the pose that I adopt towards - well, OK, Lawrence Auster, describes the wonderful world of 'Richistan'.

The Great Immigration Arbitrage

If you had a choice between admitting a hero or a thief, who would you take?
Meanwhile, the 'Telegraph' reports that,
"Two thousand Gurkha veterans should be allowed to live in Britain because their heroic service demonstrates the "strongest ties" to this country, a tribunal heard today....
Despite having some of the most distinguished careers in the Armed Forces, they were told their links with this country were not strong enough.

Now, in a landmark case which could decide the rights of 2,000 Gurkha veterans, 44 are challenging Immigration Service policy."
Discuss.