Sunday, November 30, 2008
Unless I'm very gravely mistaken, during the course of his broadcast 'After Rome: Holy War and Conquest' last night, Boris Johnson equated The Martyrs of Cordoba with the September 11 attackers.
This is very dangerous history; by no stretch of the imagination are the two groups comparable.
The Battle of Poitiers also received an interesting spin, with the exotic Myriam Soria Audebert advising that the battle was not won by Charles Martel, but lost by the Muslims because they had gone further than they could naturally go.
This brought back to mind Norman Davies's analysis of the battle from 'Europe: A History' -
"The Battle of Poitiers in 732 may well have been exaggerated by Christian apologists; the Arabs may have been obliged to retreat through over-extended lines of communication. "
Earlier in the book, Davies describes Jesus as an 'itinerant preacher', while giving Mohammed the benefit of the doubt that he had been addressed by God (page 251).
Perhaps the truth of Poitiers will never be known; and perhaps it's better to leave undisturbed an event which propagandists for either side might be more than willing to turn to their own purposes.
Happy St. Andrew's Day
When they're having a wee dram to celebrate the day, and getting maudlin in their cups, hopefully some of those who run Scotland will remember that they are celebrating the life of a Christian martyr.
The Belief Of The British Political Class In Its Own Exceptionalism
Reports that Downing Street is 'blocking' enquiries into the historic activities of the bootleg butty banning Bilderberger Balls should come as no surprise.
All members of the British political class seem to share an overwhelming belief in their own exceptionalism. Coming as he does from a religious culture where his father's social status as a Kirk minister might have made him an object of veneration from the cradle, it's hardly surprising that Gordon Brown would consider himself to be an exceptional individual, regardless of whether or not he ever did anything exceptional - which he never really has. It's the same with Balls - either he really does believe himself to be head and shoulders above everyone else, or somebody else does.
This unfounded arrogance, this staggering lack of humility, also has other manifestations. When push comes to shove, Douglas Alexander is just a nice wee posh boy from Bishopton who had the good fortune to be born into the Glasgow University Labour Club elite that also produced John Smith and Donald Dewar. Perhaps it's a consequence of growing up surrounded by that elite; but both he and his sister seem to possess almost unshakeable, and yet almost wholly unjustified, confidence in their own abilities. What have they ever done? What books have they written? Where are their newspaper articles? What actually makes them think they can perform to any kind of standard in jobs which involve giving away billions of pounds of taxpayers' money when they appear to have absolutely no relevant managerial experience? On 'Question Time' on 27th November, the wee man did a passable imitation of a dancing bear - there seems to be no party line which he will not toe, no indefensible act of economic juju which he will not defend, and all done with the grey, robotic, almost inhuman charmlessness which also characterises the whole of the British political class; and like a dancing bear, it was a horrible performance to watch.
Perhaps our politicians' universal belief in their own exceptionalism is a consequence of the professionalisation of politics, a trend which has inevitably led to politicians spending more and more time around other politicians and less and less time around other members of the human race. That way are detached, charmless elites born. All professions develop traditions, and look after what they perceive to be their own interests; yet politics is still so important to us that it cannot be left to professionals, particularly professionals who think they're better than the rest of us.
As a very general rule of thumb, there are five areas of endeavour in which the insight of the amateur is almost always more valuable than that of the professional. These are politics, religion, economics, history and the analysis of pro sports. We need politicians; a world run by bloggers would be an appalling, hellish chaos. That not's the answer. Many of our politicians might indeed be exceptional individuals - yet too many who are not think that they are, a detachment from the realities of everyday life which will only harm us in the long run. If our professional politicians become a clique, it will not be long before they begin conspiring against the public.
There are those who think that this has already happened.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Updating The Blogroll
The Chip Eater
So they whacked the Jews, murdering Bombay's rabbi and making orphans as they went. That's a pretty clear statement of cultural intent. It's almost as if they made a point of whacking the Jews. Eichmann would have been proud of them.
Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg, his 28 year old wife Rivkah and their co-religionists have walked through the valley of the shadow of death - hopefully they feared no evil. May their cups runneth over forever.
Constancy of faith of the kind possessed by Rabbi Holtzberg, and the courage that derives from it, never ceases to amaze. St. John Vianney never gave up on his God or himself despite suffering endless Satanic torments, during which The Father of Lies would call him a 'potato eater' - a calculated insult in 19th Century rural France.
Whenever any stuff like the carnage in Bombay goes down, you can always count on 'The Guardian' to produce a call for tolerance. Bombay seems to have been more serious than most jihadist massacres, for no less a luminary than Muhammad Abdul Bari MBE Ph.D., Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain, has been wheeled out to produce a commentary entitled 'A Perversion of Islam'.
"There is no Islamic basis for murder, and this is exactly what happened yesterday. We persistently remind ourselves of the Qur'anic edict "If anyone kills a human being ... it should be looked upon as though he had slain all mankind, and if anyone saves a life it should be regarded as though he had saved the lives of all mankind."(5:32)"
It seems to be Edward Gibbon's day today.
In Chapter 50 of 'The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire', he narrates the following incident from the life of Mohammed, which occurred in the immediate aftermath of The Battle of the Ditch -
"The Jews had excited and joined the war of the Koreish; no sooner had the nations retired from the ditch, than Mahomet, without laying aside his armour, marched on the same day to extirpate the hostile race of the children of Koraidha. After a resistance of twenty-five days, they surrendered at discretion. They trusted to the intercession of their old allies of Medina; the could not be ignorant that fanaticism obliterates the feelings of humanity. A venerable elder, to whose judgment they appealed, pronounced the sentence of their death; seven hundred Jews were dragged in chains to the marketplace of the city; they descended alive into the grave prepared for their execution and burial; and the apostle beheld with an inflexible eye the slaughter of his helpless enemies".
One would imagine that the eyes that beheld Gavriel and Rivkah Holtzberg might have been similarly inflexible.
Muhammed Abdul Bari loves fish and chips. In this space, he shall henceforth be designed as 'the chip eater'.
The World Loves Its Own
A new blog from PJ Mulvey, an occasional, and very welcome, commentor here, and well worth adding to the blogroll.
PJ seems to be a man after my own heart, writing,
"When a future Gibbon analyzes 21st century western civilization, what will he think of a people whose main occupation was spending and more spending and where shopping malls replaced churches on Sunday as places of worship with posters of half naked models taking the place of the icons of Blessed Virgin Mary and Our Lord?"
That raises the startling question of whether a new Gibbon will ever come forth - Monsieur Pomme de Terre might just have been a once in a civilisation event; and if you don't heed his warnings, you might not get second chances.
On a slightly lighter note, PJ was educated by the Capuchin Fransiscans, and I was with the Jesuits - does this mean we get to gang up on those dangerously liberal Benedictines?
A Wormhole Has Opened, And We've Fallen Back In Time 200 Years - Again
The 'Telegraph' has published another piece on the decline of standards in British education.
Two hundred years ago, the industrial proletariat weren't really encouraged to know very much - their lives were a constant round of drudgery, so knowing stuff would probably only have disturbed them. Indeed, John Bright, a hero to many still, consistently opposed shortening childrens' working hours.
Trying to determine whether the recent dumbing down of educational standards is a cause or a consequence of the reproletarianisation that has occurred since the end of the Cold War would be a topic worthy of a doctoral thesis; yet over the long term, doesn't reducing educational standards just have the same long term effect as having no education at all - the production of a proletariat, an ignorant, disaffected, antagonised people who feel they have no chance of improving themselves and no chance of escape from their circumstances?
Peter Mandelson is apparently compiling a list of businesses deemed 'important enough to be saved' in the event of a recession.
My prediction is that not one of them will be British-owned.
In describing himself as a former 'chief courtier of the prime minister', he reveals his true nature very well. He seems to have been Tigellinus to Blair's Nero - the fixing former fishmonger who achieved power and influence, but who never quite got rid of his fishy smell.
The coming collapse of the so-called 'global economy' might be as great a disaster for us as the Great Fire of Rome was in the reign of Nero. We should always be wary of those who, in the midst of such turmoil, seek to make the world anew.
Friday, November 28, 2008
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Business As Usual
Novelty Presidents of the United States come round once in a generation; but the jihad stays with us forever.
Hope that Barack's got his 'religion of peace' rhetoric brushed up.
Although she has received a doing from The Devil's Kitchen, I find myself in agreement with every word that Polly Toynbee writes in this piece; until, of course, she starts talking about Sweden. When Polly gets Snorri, everyone gets snorey.
She writes of the Conservatives 'merrily defending the aspirations of the rich'; she was absolutely correct.
The desire to better oneself is now the privilege of those on the winning side of the global labour arbitrage; to deny that fact is to deny reality. The fascistic process of 'reproletarianisation' which has been enacted upon the English speaking peoples since the end of the Cold War, the state of affairs that kept the English speaking elites in check, has made the ideology of aspiration redundant.
In our country now, only the rich can have aspirations; or the favoured. It's almost as if a wormhole has opened up, and we've gone back in time 200 years...
The Death Of Kate Peyton
The Priorities Of The State
The priorities of the state can always be determined by examining which injuries it deems most worthy of compensation. Miss Fletcher, the successful claimant in the linked case, has three other discrimination claims outstanding. Being a lesbian in the British Army could just have been the most lucrative move of her life.
From The Pen Of Mark Shea
The Visionary Realism Of Timothy Garton Ash
The distinguished beardie and professional Europhile has published an analysis of Sino-European relations. He writes,
"Seizing the hopeful moment that is the advent of the Obama presidency, we should start work with China on a strategic partnership including four major projects of what I call visionary realism: a reformed and strengthened global economic order, a multilateral and multidimensional approach to development (including trade, aid, good governance, transparency, democracy and the rule of law), energy and the environment (a central plank of the Obama campaign) and, last but not least, reversing nuclear proliferation."
Watching these thought processes at work is akin to observing a small marsupial climbing a gum tree. If he thinks that the Chinese are in the business of business for the benefit of anyone but themselves, and care anything for the state of any 'global economic order' which will not result in them becoming top dogs, he is grimly hauling himself off the ground. If he thinks that the Chinese approach to development will ever be anything other than helping themselves to develop at everyone else's expense, he is doggedly mounting the tree paw over paw. If he ever thinks that the Chinese attitude to energy will ever be anything other than trying to bag as much of it as they can for themselves, and their attitude to the environment anything other than locust-like, he is slowly levering himself up through the branches. And if he thinks the Chinese really care about any aspect of nuclear proliferation other than ensuring they have more nukes than anyone else, he has reached the top of the gum tree in triumph, and is happily munching on the leaves.
Garton Ash is so genuinely civilised that one doesn't wish to criticise him; although he sometimes says what seem like silly things, he really does believe what he's saying, and he really does care. His sincerity and humanity are beyond reproach.
Yet while this vision is indeed visionary, it is so grossly unrealistic, so entirely dependent on the Chinese altering their behaviour for the better in ways they have never given any indication that they intend to do, that it can only be condemned in the strongest possible terms.
Outsourcing The Professions
My thanks to my brother for sending me an item from 'The Wall Street Journal' entitled "With Times Tight, Even Lawyers Get Outsourced".
Outsourcing yourself to a country where armed bands go hunting for foreigners will no doubt by welcomed by some of the outsourced as being in the due interests of economy.
This is also partly a consequence of over-specialisation. The legal professions seem to have specialised too intensely, divided their labour too finely; many disciplines seem so over-evolved that their practitioners now resemble the long-extinct small animals that turn up in the fossil record from time to time, the killer opossums and the badgers with eight foot long snouts - all it takes is a one degree shift in the economic temperature either way for them to be despatched to eternity.
Headlines and stories like this are also, of course, an illustration of Kelly's Law Concerning The Number Of Lawyers A Society Can Support - having too many bloody lawyers is a consequence of having too many bloody laws.
Doggerel Then And Now
"Little Jeannie, with high hopes
Read a book by Marie Stopes
But to judge from her condition
She must have got the wrong edition" -
Early 20th Century ditty quoted by Norman Davies in 'Europe: A History'.
Poor old jogging Owen Barder
Global gags means 'Must try harder'.
He must be quite run off his feet
Keeping up with the elite.
Read a book by Marie Stopes
But to judge from her condition
She must have got the wrong edition" -
Early 20th Century ditty quoted by Norman Davies in 'Europe: A History'.
Poor old jogging Owen Barder
Global gags means 'Must try harder'.
He must be quite run off his feet
Keeping up with the elite.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Obama's Similarity To Blair
No Think Tories
Sad to see that neither Heffer nor Finkelstein can bring themelves to think of the concept of 'protectionism' as a means of preventing their children being paupered.
If your home's at risk from burglary, you protect it with an alarm. If your car's at risk from theft, you protect it with a deadlock.
So if your economy's at risk, why can't you protect it with a tariff? Because some deadhead academic economist or newspaper shill says it isn't a good idea?
Building A Tower To Heaven
In an almost insanely ahistoric column entitled 'A telling reminder of our enduring captivity to myth', Madeleine Bunting writes,
"Our politics of migration and integration is still beholden to the Babylonian myth that multiplicity of languages is a curse - a language test is now imposed on prospective British citizens. There's a media campaign excoriating the cost of the translation services that ensure access to public services for ethnic minorities.
Yet the historical reality is that almost all political societies have been multilingual, and many are today. Across Africa and Asia, it is routine for people to speak more than one language. Britain's monolingual culture of the past century has been entirely atypical, part of a standardisation and centralisation of culture dominated by the state that obliterated dialects and other languages. "
All political societies have been multilingual...OK...
It is reckoned that the language which Our Lord spoke to Pontius Pilate was a universally spoken form of Greek called 'koine'. Although Bismarck spoke Polish, Polish did not become the language of the German Empire. Although Cavour spoke English, English did not become the language of the unified Kingdom of Italy. Both the German Empire and the Kingdom of Italy arose from disparate societies which spoke the same language. Some native Americans spoke Huron; Huron never became an official language of the United States. Vigorous cultures overwhelm weaker ones. Uganda is not Vermont, or even Scotland; and India is not yet California. On the whole, British people don't seem to want their society to become like one in Asia or Africa. This may be wrong of them, but it's what they seem to want. Holding up Asian or African societies as models for Britain usually indicates the approach of ideological cant or extreme intellectual weakness; in Bunting's case, it is both. A better philologist than Bunting wrote a book in which everyone spoke 'The Common Tongue'. Case closed.
"Far from being a curse, argues Peter Austin, the professor of linguistics at the School of Oriental and African Studies, the multiplicity of language is a blessing, an expression of the huge range of human imaginative capability. The biblical myth has served us poorly: it was neither accurate at the time nor since. It could be characterised as the first tabloid panic over diversity, claims Austin.
Significantly, the Qur'an proposes the exact opposite of the Babel curse; a verse says that God has given many languages in order for human beings to understand each other fully. Lots of languages do not confuse, but rather enrich our understanding of human nature."
Well, Peter Austin's a linguistics professor; cynics might think he's interested in having as many languages around as possible. The understanding of human nature might be enriched by having a number of languages about - however, an understanding of the power of language and culture can also be enriched by the extreme stress of having to communicate with aggressive non-English speakers day in, day out. And as far as Maddy The Mahdi seems to be concerned, if it's in The 'Qu'ran' (why does 'The Guardian' never describe The Bible as 'The Bi'ble?' Or The Torah as 'The To'rah'?) it must be all right.
Bunting pretty much nails her colours to the mast by describing Babel as a myth; yet she should perhaps revisit it. Babel met its fate because of hubris; multiculturalism and multilingualism are hubristic attempts to buck history. All hubris ends in sorrow and punishment.
The Tower of Babel's hubris was vertical; multiculturalism's hubris is horizontal. At least The Tower's foundations were solid; multiculturalism, and its twin multilingualism, threatens to suffocate us under a crushing weight.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
The Thoughts of Stalin On The Current Financial Crisis
"Lenin left us a country, and we shat it away" -
Stalin's apparent reaction to the news of Operation Barbarossa; if memory serves, these words, or a form very like them, are quoted in Sol Shulman's 'Kings of the Kremlin'.
The quote was brought back to mind by seeing just how badly the United Kingdom's finances have been run. We are going down the toilet - for what? What? What was the great ideological goal that justified breaking one of the world's richest nations? What were those in charge thinking? And what were we thinking for electing them? We now have to ask ourselves - indeed should have asked ourselves long before now - were they lying to us all along?
When one mentions the word 'elites', one always runs the risk of being denounced as either hysterical or paranoid; yet just who will come out on top out of all this? My money's on the elites; if the history of the past 20 years is anything to go by, the people won't.
As soon as the Cold War was over, we were frogmarched, without our consent, into a transcontinental simulacrum of a nation state which now exercises more power over us than our native institutions. We did not vote for it; and yet we have it. Those of our youth likely to have higher than average lifetime earning capacities now begin their careers in hock to the state, thanks to the oppression of the state owned Student Loans Company, another creation of the immediate post Cold War period. We did not vote for it; and yet we have it. Those unsuitable for further or higher education have had their earning capacities slashed by mass immigration. We did not vote for it; and yet we have it. A rentier class of public servants, employed specifically in order to advance ideology, has been recruited at ruinous expense, and who will be sheltered from the worst effects of the coming downturn. Working in British public administration now brings the same lifetime security as did membership of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union. We did not vote for this; and yet we got it.
The entire aim of British economic policy since the end of the Cold War seems to have been the beggary and alienation of the people. The impending collapse of the economy - I'm afraid I have little hope that all of this will not end very badly - will be the policy's completion. What has happened in this country since 1989 has not been democratic; it has been Satanic, the result of those with command of affairs placing their faith in a false religion.
It will not be long before Gordon Brown browbeats us with demands for austerity and self-sacrifice. We will be expected to display a fortitude of which many of us are no longer capable in response to a financial crisis which is absolutely and entirely of his making. He thinks that this will be his 'Great Patriotic War'; but he has no resources and no armies with which to fight it. The hollowing out of our manufacturing economy will be as disastrous for our ability to recover as the purges of the Soviet military in the 1930's were to the Russians' abilities to defend themselves in the summer and autumn of '41. In our days, adherence to principles of efficiency became as important to us as adherence to ideological purity was in Stalin's Russia. Every job offshored was as much a loss for us as every political execution was for the Soviets in 1937. Our elites did the same thing to us as Stalin's elites did to the Soviets; they judged us by their standards, found us wanting and purged us in order to strengthen their grip. Like all good Marxists, they have waged class war upon us; now the enemy they courted is at the gates, and we have no 'General Winter' we can rely on for relief.
O Lord and Father in Heaven, spare us from Your wrath in this time of troubles.
Monday, November 24, 2008
The accidental clicking of a hyperlink produces a piece entitled "How I created the axis of evil", a profile of the propagandist and ideological enforcer David Frum.
Careerists and political opportunists like Frum pop up in every society, but if war is the health of the state then the health of a democracy can be gauged by how the influence such people gain is limited. The very fact that Frum made it inside the White House is perhaps itself evidence of how unhealthy American democracy had become in the first decade of the 21st Century.
Does anyone read 'The Right Man' any more? Or still think that the proscriptions provided by 'An End to Evil' were ever going to work? Of course not. They have failed and have been shown to have failed; there is no way in which the author of such partisan works can ever subsequently establish a reputation for impartiality.
I believe that his desire for recognition and publicity is so great that within ten years, David Frum will appear as a contestant on a reality TV show. He is yesterday's demagogue, his philosophy trampled by the march of history. Oh, he'll still duck and dive from newspaper to think tank and back again; but he will never again be considered a serious intellectual by those who have taken the time the read what he has said, and study what he seems to think.
For that, he has nobody to blame but himself.
A Wormhole Has Opened, And We've Fallen Back In Time 200 Years, Continued
Further to my suggestion last week that a wormhole has opened and we've fallen back in time 200 years, a 'Guardianista' named Anna Shapiro equates the capitalism of today with the capitalism of 'Little Dorrit'.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Pining For The Cold War
The news that Merseyside Police Service has arrested 12 BNP members for leafletting, later releasing them without charge, should not perhaps have come as too much of a surprise. That the revelation that they had a BNP member in their midst would fire its leadership's zeal in the struggle against racism was drearily predictable; that it should transform itself into a political police force overnight was not.
This is what has actually happened. In the UK in 2008, the Scouseplods will huckle you for saying what you think, and for holding a belief they deem criminal. It almost makes one pine for the Cold War, and the liberty and security we enjoyed under the threat of Mutually Assured Destruction.
In her dreary little piece on beating the BNP, Hazel Blears wrote that it knows "that the British people, no matter how disillusioned with mainstream political parties, would never vote for an avowedly fascist party in any great numbers." This provokes a troubling thought.
Yes, there would have been a time when the British would have shunned a fascist party; but perhaps those days are long gone. At the time that the Third Reich was busily exterminating its minorities, the British didn't really have any domestic minorities to persecute. When the British saw what the Third Reich had done to its minorities, they were rightly revolted.
Yet in the Second World War's almost immediate aftermath, not insignificant numbers of minorities began arriving in the UK. This was paradoxical; a war against racial nationalism led to the victor implementing the conditions in which racial nationalism breeds. I cannot think of any other war in which the victor has subsequently and quite deliberately set about creating the conditions which the vanquished used to justify their aggression. Suggestions welcome. As soon as we stepped down the path of humane mass immigration, we may have signed our own humanity's death warrant.
The Cold War might have been bad for the Russians, but in a lot of respects it was a very good thing for us. The existential need to oppose Soviet Communism acted as a very useful brake on the Western elites' wilder impulses; impulses they have indulged relentlessly since the Cold War's end, and which have brought us to the point of financial ruin and cultural collapse. Our culture is no longer dynamically creative - for the past decade, one of the UK's most popular TV shows has been based around the observation of misfits corralled in a hutch like hamsters. For the past week, the media has been full of comment regarding a celebrity dance contest. This is neither dynamic nor creative, but stodgy and stale. The elites have run out of ideas.
If you thought the elites supported the Cold War because they believed in the West and Western civilisation for its own sake, think again; they never believed in anything more substantial than next quarter's profits.
The impulses they have indulged also include the authoritarian impulses common to all ideologies. Ideologies are synthetic philosophies manufactured in order to provide desperate suckers with bogus paths to bogus truths; they are all inherently Godless. One of the ways this Godlessness expresses itself is in what eventually becomes an aching need to oppress; the antithesis of Godly love. Everywhere that an ideology has achieved power, it has become oppressive. The Soviets had the gulags; the neoconservatives dreamed up Camp Delta and the PATRIOT Act. The Chinese produced the Cultural Revolution; the Jacobins enacted La Grande Terreur. Conservative Party conferences used to feature a 'Generation Game' style conveyor belt of golf club bullies demanding the right to birch young thugs or give them a short, sharp shock, barely able to suppress their hatred of their fellow man and their desire to do him violence; Merseyside's Multicultural Ministry of Love harrasses private citizens engaging in what seem to be perfectly legal public activities. All are different faces of the same ideological coin.
Since the Cold War's end, the West's elites have shown themselves to be as dangerous as the Soviet Communists ever were. We did not realise that we had above us an enemy as potent as the one in front of us. They have certainly inflicted more practical and lasting damage upon us than the Soviets ever managed. They have damaged our economy in pursuit of their own gain. They have damaged our culture for their own entertainment and gratification. Now they damage our liberty through their arrogant belief in the 'correctness' of their views.
There never really was any dividend to be had for the West from the ending of the Cold War. We thought there was, of course, because we were told there was, and we were stupid enough to believe it. Dutch Reagan, the old New Deal Democrat, so loved peace, and was so alive to the absolute evil of Communism, that he started the arms race that helped bring the Soviet Union down; yet he would be appalled, absolutely appalled, by the damage that the end of the Cold War has helped visit on his beloved America. Did America really elect Dutch Reagan, a giant of modern history, so that it could offshore its industries, displace its population through mass immigration, enact fascistic banking bailouts and anaesthetise itself with 'Desperate Housewives'? Was his battle - our battle - fought - for this?
On the human level, it is obviously better that the Russians and the Poles are no longer oppressed; yet on the same human level, if we had known that the price we were willing to pay for their freedom would ultimately include the erosion of our own, our enthusiasm for the venture might have been more tepid.
And I might be wrong; but even during the Cold War, one would imagine that British cops could join the Communist Party.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
A recent neurological consultation has confirmed that the mobility difficulties I have been suffering for some months are a consequence of my existing condition, and no other.
My symptoms are apparently quite unusual. My brain seems to have some difficulty processing signals to each leg individually, but can send them to both legs at once with no problems. This explains why during our summer vacation, I was able to swim but not walk.
Receiving information like that is quite sobering; at no point in my life did I ever plan to become a penguin, but it's happened just the same.
The Cynic Blears Attacks The BNP
Fisking is a blogging skill which is vastly over-rated. It is practiced most often by ideologues upon other ideologues for solely ideological purposes. The risks from the traps that fisking lays at a blogger's feet - the temptation to dance the old selective quote twostep; the ease with which straw man fallacies can be built - very often outweigh any gains likely to be achieved from actually beginning the exercise in the first place.
Fisking is not debating - if a newspaper columnist writes something which is silly and ex facie worthy of being fisked, the house doesn't divide on the issue afterwards. All that the fisking achieves is the affirmation of both parties' pre-fisk positions; neither is enlightened by the encounter. Nobody wins. Fisking saps a blogger's creativity; it is very easy to fall into the trap of spending all of one's time fruitlessly trying to refute others' arguments, while neglecting the production of original content of one's own.
Lastly, the aggressive and derogatory tone of many fisks is manna from Heaven to those who do not seem to believe that Internet access should be universal. Those such as Hazel Blears.
This cynical and over-promoted personality cultist has an article in today's 'Guardian' entitled 'How to beat the BNP'. She writes,
"We've long understood that the lure of the BNP extends beyond skinheads, conspiracy theorists and Hitler obsessives. The repositioning of the BNP under Nick Griffin has allowed it to reach all kinds of disaffected voters, as its leaked membership list shows. Theirs is a cunning strategy."
Perhaps; but no more cunning than the unmandated increase in immigration which has been effected since the government for which she has been a tireless cheerleader took office in 1997. This government has been not just cunning, but crafty.
"They know that the British people, no matter how disillusioned with mainstream political parties, would never vote for an avowedly fascist party in any great numbers."
That is correct; however, they have also voted for an unavowedly fascist party in great numbers. Sorry to harp on about Gaetano Salvemini, but he did define fascism as being the privatisation of profit and the socialisation of loss; therefore, New Labour's grant of a public bailout to private banks which then hold on to the money is fascistic. New Labour - as easy with the brown sauce as it is with the red.
She goes on,
"Britons are fair-minded and tolerant."
I for one would never do the Rt. Hon. Rev. Dr. Ian Paisley the discourtesy of describing him as being either fair-minded or tolerant. Nor would I use either of those adjectives to describe Geoff Hoon, David Blunkett, Tam Dalyell, Dennis Skinner or any number of the Red hordes whose company she kept in the House of Commons. She uses the anthropological term 'Britons' incorrectly; she should have used the sociological term 'The British' instead.
"And the nation's experiences and sacrifices 65 years ago mean that we don't like Nazis "
New Labour has eagerly, avidly hastened the destruction of the nation for which sacrifices were made 65 years ago. Those who endured the Blitz did not do so because they believed that Islam is a religion of peace.
"So the BNP started a process of "detoxification". They hit the streets with newsletters and petitions. Their website and blogs reached thousands. They played on people's apprehensions. They peddled pernicious but plausible lies. They attacked the political establishment, and presented themselves as "anti-politics". They claimed to be respectable, mainstream, and democratic. The result, it seems, is a membership list containing all kinds of people, even including a politically confused vicar".
To attack the political establishment is not an act of extremism; it is the citizen's patriotic duty. And why should a vicar be considered to be politically confused for joining the BNP? Can't vicars analyse issues for themselves? Does she think that vicars are civically retarded? It's surely up to the vicar to decide whether or not they can reconcile the BNP's false racial nationalism with their belief in the Gospel. Or does she consider joining any party other than one she endorses to be an act of political confusion? If so, aren't we lucky to have her around to keep us politically correct.
She goes on,
"The list reveals an important fact: support for the BNP is tiny. It is focused on a small number of specific areas such as Leicester and east London. And unlike during the 30s, modern British fascism does not enjoy any sympathy in the civil service, chattering classes or the media".
Leicester and East London both have high ethnic minority populations. That Blears is surprised that BNP membership is so small in those areas is itself surprising; one would have thought that those would be precisely the areas in which the BNP would be strong. The only thing that is surprising about membership levels in those areas is that they're not bigger than they are.
And are we being told that the benchmark by which the respectability of a particular movement is to be gauged is the level of its support within elites such as the civil service and the media? Sorry, who made them sole heirs to the culture?
She goes on,
"So what can we learn from the BNP list? First, we must continue to campaign vigorously against them: demonstrate, picket, leaflet, and argue. The "HOPE not hate" campaign is a superb initiative. The Labour and trade union movement can be justly proud of its recent campaigning - every bit as important as Rock Against Racism and the Anti-Nazi League campaigns against the National Front in the 70s. "
Another one desperate to recapture the fire of their youth. She continues,
"Second, we need a long-term government strategy to bring communities together."
This is an interesting sentence; it makes sense on one level, but remains groupthink happy-clappy gibberish on another. When she uses the word 'communities', what does she really mean? Does she mean it in the multicultural sense of particular and different ethnic communities sharing the same space? Or in the civic sense of the community being considered to be all people who live in that space regardless of their race? The distinction is unclear.
Mind you, whichever meaning is intended one thing is absolutely clear - there would now be no need for communities to be brought together if there hadn't been so much previous emphasis on driving them apart.
"My department works with councils and community groups to bring people from different races, faiths and backgrounds together. I've always favoured practical action over theoretical debates. People who play football, make food, paint walls, whose children play together, are more likely to reject racism."
Blears should be asked, in the most severe terms, just why de facto apartheid, the situation she is describing in a fluffy, anodyne and trivial way, was allowed to develop. For this, someone must be blamed. British history deserves no less.
She goes on,
"Third, we must recognise that where the BNP wins votes, it is often a result of local political failure. Estates that have been ignored for decades; voters taken for granted; local services that have failed; white skilled working-class voters who feel politicians live on a different planet. In such a political vacuum, the BNP steps in with offers of grass-cutting, a listening ear, and easy answers to complex problems. "
This staement shows her to be over 30 months behind the intellectual curve on why the BNP is now popular among the remnants of the white British working class. And even then her prescription for the problem is wrong; the way in which the BNP will be beaten will be for the Conservative Party to come out and debate it and beat it on its own terms. David Davis was just the guy for the job.
She goes on,
"The hard lesson for mainstream politicians is that, in these circumstances, shouting "Nazi" is not the answer".
It never was. It's facile and immature, much like Blears herself. She continues,
"We need to win back the trust and confidence of these disaffected voters by proving that mainstream politics has the answers they seek. That means local services that are responsive, and owned by local people. It means political parties that are active and in touch all year round. It means politicians who look and sound like the people they represent, who know the price of bread and milk. In short, it means a revival of local political culture in places where it has been allowed to ossify.
We must have a significant shift of power from the centre to the community, more co-ops, mutuals and social enterprises running and owning local services, more democracy within the public services, and more active citizens on every street. Ironically, opponents of decentralisation say to me: if you put local people in charge, the BNP might take over. The reality is the opposite: it is not a vibrant democratic culture that the BNP exploits, but the lack of one. "
One might agree with every word that Simon Jenkins writes, but when the old quangocrat described, in 'Thatcher and Sons', how every government since Thatcher's had systematically stripped away local authorities' powers, and robbed them of their ability to respond to local problems with local solutions, in ever-greater acts of centralisation, he was right on the money. Reading this piece, he must feel a happy man.
He shouldn't be. This is probably just another cynical piece of spin from a cynical member of a cynical government.
Oh dear - have I just fisked Hazel Blears?
Bits 'N Pieces 'N Stuff
The hereditary mediacrat Giles Coren writes what is actually a refreshingly conservative appeal for the maintenance of high culture in difficult times; certainly a higher career peak than winning the 'Bad Sex in Fiction Award'.
This article has some personal resonance; he writes "if, rather than calling radio phone-ins to say that Len Goodman is a spoilsport, you had learnt the French horn, you would, if nothing else, be able to play your children a bit of Mozart while they sit shivering round the last candle in the house." I really can play the French horn (in F, admittedly, rather than the more common E flat). I wasn't really very good - the best player I've ever heard was a bloke called Ewan McGregor - but having had to flog my own rather expensive horn to a minor public school some years ago, during a slough in fortunes and in an effort to keep oneself independent of the state, is a matter of some regret; as is having been unable to afford to replace it since. Hopefully it found a good home.
And the Mozart horn concertos are considerably more difficult to play than they sound.
The best article on why a bailout for Detroit's auto manufacturers is necessary comes from Thomas Palley. Nobels all round!
The Mayor of London is apparently 'pondering' what the BBC describes as an 'immigrant amnesty'. Regardless of what else might be said of him, Boris Johnson is undoubtedly an intelligent man. He will know the arguments against amnesties - that they don't work and that they only encourage more illegal immigration. Therefore, one can only assume that he is engaging in Cameroonian ethnopandering.
The Vatican has forgiven John Lennon for remarking that The Beatles were more popular than Jesus. The historical record seems to indicate that at all times and under all circumstances, John Lennon was a cheap smartass with limited musical talent of his own, a boor and a bore, with a violently aggressive temper. It says much for us that we have made giants of men like him. However, one cannot criticise the Vatican for exercising its prerogative of forgiveness.
Friday, November 21, 2008
A Round Up Of Stuff To Be Cleared From The Favourites List
Since 1970, abortion is estimated to have cost the US economy up to $35 trillion in lost productivity - a quite astonishing number, something like 50 banking bailouts. But of course having children is a lifestyle choice, and the fact that we make it legal for parents to abort their children shows how civilised we are. We're poorer for it - well, some of us are poorer for it - but what the heck? We're so civilised.
And yes, I know; Roe -v- Wade was determined in 1973.
Here's an interesting article on those with power and influence, best read to the strains of 'It's A Small World After All'. Try to hold back the rage.
P.J. O' Rourke says of conservatism, 'We Blew It'. The title is, of course, a reference to the movie 'Easy Rider'; as I wrote on September 25 2008, "(t)he Democrats had a chance to save the Republic today - like all good children of the counterculture, they blew it."
What conservatism really doesn't need right now is its own public intellectual who never quite got over the '60's.
What P. J. doesn't get, of course, is that 'we' didn't blow anything - he blew it. He writes for 'The Weekly Standard', a crowd of relentless Bush cheerleaders. That makes him part of the conservative Establishment. He's not part of the solution; he's part of the problem. He's responsible. Physician, heal thyself; so libertarian, take some responsibility. Yet even now, he's actually prepared to describe sections of his own base as 'cracker trash', for goodness' sake! Both his radically liberal assumption that all immigrants are inherently conservative, and his stamping on social conservatism, were factors that helped make movement conservatism the mess it is today. Is he gunning to ghostwrite Bush's memoirs? The base has rejected him; time for a new base. Peter Brimelow was right - this type of thinking is straight out of Brecht!
There must have been times when just being P. J. O' Rourke must have been fantastic - but this isn't one of them, and he has nobody to blame but himself. Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him well, Horatio - a fellow of infinite jest. Hat tip to 'The Devil's Kitchen'.
Takuan Seiyo's description of foreign born elements within the Israeli Mafia as having 'the tribal unity of a Hun raider party set loose in the fairyland of the West with an insatiable craving for plunder' could have been written by Toynbee. In every respect, these gangs are barbarian war bands which have emerged from an external proletariat which is 'in' but not 'of' the host society. The West is helplessly watching itself disappear; what's worse, it's following to the letter the program for such civilisational events that a very clever man spent a very long time mapping out, and nobody in authority seems interested in stopping it.
Didn't someone once start a magazine intended to 'stand athwart History, shouting 'Stop'? Wonder what happened to it. Probably lost its edge after going mainstream.
Lastly, there are times when one sees things that make one wonder...
Just what was John Ashcroft doing in Prague in October 2007? I know he was there - I was probably the only former contributor to 'Antiwar' standing ten feet away from him as he got the full meet and greet at the town hall.
The Decline Of Russia
Being relatively Russophilic, one understands that comments such as those allegedly made by Prime Minister Putin regarding President Saakashvili are probably intended for the home crowd; some Russians seem to like that sort of chat.
Yet before anyone hangs anyone else by anything, it might perhaps be a good idea to stop the guys who are stealing the churches. Lose the churches, and you lose the culture. Lose the culture, and you lose it all.
I used to read Kathleen Parker before she got famous; indeed, not only did I read her, but thought she possessed almost oracular wisdom. Clever and perceptive, with a wonderful prose style, she was the model of the type of opinion journalist I wanted to be.
Then she stopped being as interesting as her last article, so I stopped reading her. She went the way of all opinion journalism; the aura of permanence around her prose began to fade, while her need to make a living continued.
Kathleen seems to have become a slightly more cerebral, very much more upmarket, American version of Vanessa Feltz; an interesting and insightful writer who seems willing to trade their talent for fame. The very nasty, snobbish attack on Christian conservatism that she has published in 'The Washington Post' shows her to be nothing more than a party animal, for whom the interests of party will always exceed those of principle. She blames the Christian right for the GOP's problems, when they flow from the abandonment of cultural conservativism by the liberal snobs, interested only in votes, profits, cheap labour and being able to do what they want when they want without feeling guilty about it, who now run it. It is not now nor has it ever been a conservative party - however, those who run it have degraded it into a Conservative Party; a party of the valueless rich, for the valueless rich.
Over four years ago, I wrote an article entitled 'How The Necons Will Kill The GOP', which predicted precisely what is happening to the party now and comparing its degredation to that of the Tories once they abandoned their historic core values in favour of Thatcherism, going so far as to describe George W. Bush as an 'American Thatcher'. Neonconservatism was the New Thatcherism. Did anyone listen? No! Did I get invited on to 'Newsnight' and 'C-Span', and make the jump from 'The Washington Dispatch' to 'The Washington Post'? No! BWAAAAAHHHHH!
Yet the little Establishment organ grinders will always have their little Establishment monkeys to dance to their little Establishment tunes; and in Kathleen's case, it's a really, really nasty one.
"Suffice it to say, the Republican Party is largely comprised of white, married Christians. Anyone watching the two conventions last summer can't have missed the stark differences: One party was brimming with energy, youth and diversity; the other felt like an annual Depends sales meeting."
Does that not really plumb the same depths of nastiness which Greg Dyke achieved when he described the BBC as being 'disgustingly white?'
Kathleen the Great she might once have been, but Kathleen the Good? Well, honey, I ain't so sure...
Hat tip - Creative Minority Report.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
They Shoot Donkeys, Don't They?
An aging fat man enters a celebrity dance contest, in which he is paired with a nubile Siberian.
The aging fat man can't dance to save himself, but the public likes him. Maybe they recognise that the aging fat man is willing to have a laugh at himself. Maybe they root for him as an unlikely underdog. Maybe they're just being contrarian, and like him because they know that his presence in the contest annoys everyone else. The public votes to keep the aging fat man in the contest using premium rate telephone numbers.
The judges don't like the aging fat man; one of them says they would be 'desolate' if he won. An actress and fellow competitor who was evicted while he stayed in accuses him of turning the show into a 'soap opera'. Those of us with long enough memories and a fondness for the Jesuits don't remember any screams of protest when she was cast in a big budget Jesuit movie starring opposite Robert De Niro, directed by her then partner; a piece of casting far above any star power she achieved before or since.
But that's water under the bridge, I suppose.
The show's producers say that the aging fat man's success is such an affront that they'll change the rules next year to give themselves the right to ditch contestants like him whether they're popular with the public or not.
Faced with all this, the aging fat man quits.
John Sergeant's departure from 'Strictly Come Dancing' might not be the most earth-shattering piece of news; but it's still sad, because of what it says about us, and the way we are now.
If you're British, don't root for the underdog. If you're British, don't make the effort to vote, because those in authority will just change the rules to get what they want, not what you want. If you're British, the price of being the populist candidate is opprobium and censure.
All in all, it's a miniature of British public life.
The Voice Of Immigrationism
"I own 3 care homes. 40% of my staff are from abroad. Why? Because the local staff a) want too much money to make the business worthwhile 2) they are always going sick 3) don’t want to actually do anything when they are at work 4) do not want to train to provide higher standards of care 5) don’t like to do some of the jobs within the home. Overseas staff give none of this headache - and a lot of them are very highly educated.
Local brickies, plasterers, labourers, tilers etc all want paying a lot. The overseas people come in and do it for half the money - and do a job 10 times better.
Without people spending money and companies employing people the economy grinds to a halt and then government loses tax money to invest in healthcare etc. There you go. 1st reason.
Another good thing is they bring cultural diversity. A redneck hillbilly hermit may not want diversity but those of us who value self-improvement and knowledge welcome it.
Oh and by the way, you want old people looked after? Most asians would never dream of sending their parents to a care home - no matter how ill they were - so your comment shows you to be much more selfish than you want to appear . Also, have you not read all the news over the last few years about how badly some folk are treated in care homes?
No, didn’t think so." -
Commentor 'Gooner', over at Tim Worstall's.
This individual seems to think that in comparison to foreigners, the native British working class are lazy, grasping, stupid, unbiddable and unloving. In comparison to a foreigner, a member of the native British working class is more likely to abuse a person in their care. Foreigners are automatically more competent than the native British working class. The hallmark of 'self-improvement and knowledge' is acceptance of the diversity agenda, otherwise known as The Insider's Plan For The Annihilation of What's Left of Western Civilisation; if one does not subscribe to this agenda, presumably one is incapable of self-improvement and disinterested in knowledge - indeed, one can be casually dismissed as a 'redneck hillbilly hermit'. The right to private profit supercedes the stress caused to others by public policy (or the lack thereof) which benefits businesses over individuals - another example of us jumping back 200 years in time.
Whichever granny farmer wrote this gives every appearance of being an anti-British racialist who hates the native British working class with what can only be described as fervour; yet this has been the voice that has been allowed to drive the immigration agenda for 40 years.
We are told that the cradle Communist David Aaronovitch is now reconstructed. We accept this because he sometimes writes sensible things, and seems like a good chap. The British are like that; they naturally trust what those in authority tell them, because they assume that their leaders are acting in their best interests. That's a consequence of having had centuries of stable government.
Using the bully pulpit of the column in 'The Times' which somebody deemed his opinions worthy of, he writes,
"The BNP has never been, and never will be fashionable. It represents anti-fashion, the reaction of the unconsulted and unconsidered (as they like to think of themselves). The difficulty is that, in Britain, the slightly angry silent majority is never going to embrace an organisation that is seen as less than respectable."
Having been a member of fringe parties, presumably he knows of what he speaks; however, he fails to grasp just why the BNP is seen as being less than respectable; or perhaps he knows very well indeed. Members of the BNP do not think of themselves as being 'unconsidered and unconsulted' without good cause; the United Kingdom, the country of which they are citizens, has never had any significant debate on immigration. Their country has been irrevocably altered without their consent, and the failure of any mainstream political party to address their concerns has driven them into the arms of one whose views are sniffily dismissed as 'less than respectable', by those who changed their country without giving them their voice.
In 2005, the Conservative Party campaigned half-heartedly under the slogan 'It's not racist to discuss immigration'. As slogans go, it was nowhere near as catchy as 'It's Morning in America', or 'Yes, We Can'; but such was the Tories' fear of being dismissed as 'less than respectable' by, say, former Communists that they didn't even really seem to try to engage the public on the issue.
That's been the problem with the immigration debate all along - those who shout loudest are the ones most likely to get heard. British culture, the acme of deference and circumspection, was always going to be the loser in this fight.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
This cartoon has appeared in 'The Times' in the wake of the leaking of BNP membership lists. A BNP member has been purged from the media; the police services are apparently under orders from their diversicrat political masters to ensure that their ranks are also purged of those who hold views 'incompatible with the requirements of the role of a police officer'.
This is one of the most naked examples of political interference in policing that I can recall. To paraphrase Mark Shea, if you are a police officer in the United Kingdom, , You*MUST* Believe in the diversity agenda.
As someone who does not support the BNP, and who has said so repeatedly, this cartoon is disgusting. The individuals whose names appear on these lists are private citizens belonging to a legal organisation - in the land of Magna Carta, they now face the prospect of harrassment for holding inconvenient views.
In the Soviet Union, such people were dealt with by exile or a bullet; usually after being caricatured as grossly and, yes, as unfairly as in the above cartoon. The day when this will happen to British and American citizens who hold inconvenient views will come within a generation.
When they come for me; well, when the Gauls invaded Rome in 387 BC,
"After all the arrangements that circumstances permitted had been made for the defence of the Capitol, the old men returned to their respective homes and, fully prepared to die, awaited the coming of the enemy. Those who had filled curule offices resolved to meet their fate wearing the insignia of their former rank and honour and distinctions. They put on the splendid dress which they wore when conducting the chariots of the gods or riding in triumph through the City, and thus arrayed, they seated themselves in their ivory chairs in front of their houses. Some writers record that, led by M. Fabius, the Pontifex Maximus, they recited the solemn formula in which they devoted themselves to death for their country and the Quirites...As the Gauls were refreshed by a night's rest after a battle which had at no point been seriously contested, and as they were not now taking the City by assault or storm, their entrance the next day was not marked by any signs of excitement or anger.
Passing the Colline gate, which was standing open, they came to the Forum and gazed round at the temples and at the Citadel, which alone wore any appearance of war. They left there a small body to guard against any attack from the Citadel or Capitol whilst they were scattered, and then they dispersed in quest of plunder through streets in which they did not meet a soul. Some poured in a body into all the houses near, others made for the most distant ones, expecting to find them untouched and full of spoils. Appalled by the very desolation of the place and dreading lest some stratagem should surprise the stragglers, they returned to the neighbourhood of the Forum in close order. The houses of the plebeians were barricaded, the halls of the patricians stood open, but they felt greater hesitation about entering the open houses than those which were closed. They gazed with feelings of real veneration upon the men who were seated in the porticoes of their mansions, not only because of the superhuman magnificence of their apparel and their whole bearing and demeanour, but also because of the majestic expression of their countenances, wearing the very aspect of gods. So they stood, gazing at them as if they were statues, till, as it is asserted, one of the patricians, M. Papirius, roused the passion of a Gaul, who began to stroke his beard which in those days was universally worn long by smiting him on the head with his ivory staff. He was the first to be killed, the others were butchered in their chairs. After this slaughter of the magnates, no living being was thenceforth spared; the houses were rifled, and then set on fire."
A good death with dignity, showing respect for its traditions, might be all the West has to look forward to.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
A Wormhole Has Opened, And We've Gone Back In Time 200 Years - An Occasional Series
Pat Buchanan makes the salient comment that,
"We bail out the New York and D.C. governments of Abe Beame and Marion Barry. We bail out a corrupt Mexico. We bail out public schools that have failed us for 40 years.
We bail out with International Monetary Fund and World Bank loans and foreign aid worthless Third World regimes.
We bail out Wall Street plutocrats and big banks.
But the most magnificent industry, the auto industry that was the pride of America and envy of the world, we surrender to predator-traders from Asia and Europe, lest we violate the tenets of some 19th-century ideological scribblers that the old Republicans considered the apogee of British stupidity."
PJB seems to be coming round to my view that elite thinking has not advanced an inch in 200 years.
Bruce Hall, an old friend of this blog who lives in Michigan and to whom this blog has not always been friendly, provides another reason why a bailout for the automanufacturers is perfectly justifiable; I hope Bruce doesn't mind if I reproduce his post in full -
"For decades, the automobile manufacturers have loaned billions of dollars out of their profits to Washington in order to produce a government that was not wasteful and would strengthen the interests of American business throughout the world.
Unfortunately, the government has failed miserably in that task, choosing to give that money to corrupt and questionable regimes, organizations, and unworkable causes while allowing the home market of American automobile manufacturers to be overrun by foreign manufacturers whose own home markets are protected against those American companies. This combination of continually requiring large loans from the American automobile manufacturers as their markets are fragmented, while simultaneously creating burdensome regulations for them, has left the American automobile manufacturers with serious deficits in operating capital.
Additionally, state governments also have required large annual loans based on the property value of these companies... whether these properties are actually making money for the companies or not. Instead of using these loans to improve the educational level of their residents and, thereby, provide a pool of knowledgeable, highly-skilled potential employees, these states have allowed these loans to be used by educational systems that barely graduate 2/3 of their students... and then more wasteful state welfare programs are required to support these dropouts... programs that require more loans from the American automobile manufacturers.
The problem was the failure of the American automobile manufacturers to set conditions on these loans. The primary condition should have been a preferred equity position in the government with priority given to any issues deemed important to those manufacturers. I'm sure the Democratic Party would have concluded that was a reasonable and fair condition.
Alas, the American automobile manufacturers did not demand this condition as part of the decades of loans to the federal and state governments. Consequently, now that these manufacturers have their own cash flow problems, they have little leverage in getting a portion of those loans repaid."
Bruce is dead right. If they supported government, why aren't the auto manufacturers entitled to government support? Why not? Is adherence to 200 year old platitudes, most of them easily debunked, more important than preserving red meat, flesh and blood jobs and skills?
I'm afraid that the answer is yes. The 200 year old platitudes of free trade, such as 'if goods don't cross borders, troops will' - history has not produced a single example of this scenario actually coming to pass - are the catechism of the secular, post-Enlightenment religion which economics has become. The sooner more people get the idea that many economists seem to consider the study of economics as having advanced from the physical plane to the metaphysical, the easier it will be to either minimise its influence, or to quash it completely.
This would not be altogether a bad idea.
In other 200 year flashback news, Somali pirates have hijacked a Saudi supertanker named 'The Sirius Star'. As unsavoury as this may seem, two centuries ago the public attitude to piracy seemed to be straightforward - shoot to kill, anywhere, anytime, no quarter asked for, no quarter given.
I quite appreciate that the hundred million bucks worth of crude sitting in its tanks is a pretty valauable commodity, but it's probably of no greater comparable value than the cargoes of the bullion ships which sailed from the New World to Spain under constant threat of pirate attack. The Spanish took active steps to prevent piracy - what are we doing? Don't sailors use cutlasses anymore? The pirates use RPG's - what is a supertanker armed with? Has the ideology of free trade permeated so deeply into planning that they actually believe nobody will attack them because they're engaged in trade?
Or can't multinational crews be trusted to be armed?
Where's the Royal Navy when you need it? Heck, in 1847 Palmerston took the United Kingdom to war over the treatment of a Gibraltarian living in Greece. You might not agree with his liberal interventionism, but after that at least nobody knew to mess with him. Where's the paper bag Miliband? Why isn't he issuing stern warnings to miscreants to leave British citizens alone or else face the consequences?
Beacuse when you believe in 'One World', you must accept as true all that world's values - even the endangerment of those who elect you.
The resurgence of piracy is symptomatic of the collapse of international order. One awaits the sallies of the Chinese Navy into the Indian Ocean with baited breath. If they start policing the world's sealanes, then that would be irrefutable evidence that the global balance of power has shifted and that the new world order nobody really wants will be upon us.
In yet more news from the early 19th Century, the Catholic Bishop of Lancaster is reported as saying that '(e)ducated Catholics have sown dissent and confusion in the Church'.
Bishop O' Donoghue states that universal education has led to "sickness in the Church and wider society". If the Church is sick one can only pray that God will hold its bishops to account. Who was minding the store when all this was going on?
Comments like these denigrate the lives and works of those who have laboured at the coalface of the Catholic education system of which the country's bishops are unjustifiably proud. Many of those who worked in it, particularly at its inception, did not do so willingly, but were forced to do so by the sense of Catholic separateness from the British body politic which the bishops have actively encouraged. Those who administered Catholic education actively collaborated in this squandering of human talent by the use of moral blackmail and clericalist pressure. If the end result of segregrated denominational education is that the hierarchy don't like people who think for themselves, then they shouldn't have expended so much historic energy in touting segregated denominational education.
And if they don't like universities, they shouldn't spend so much time trying to find friendly and paradable pet professors.
There is a very deep strain of anti-intellectualism within Catholicism, almost as deep as that within the Labour Party; and the comments of Bishop O' Donoghue are one of its finest flowerings.
Monday, November 17, 2008
'The Hegelian Mambo'
"Take some bedrock of a healthy culture. Label it an irrational "taboo": "The cruel taboo against divorce harms families by trapping people in loveless marriages!" Bang away at this theme until divorce is legal and rather stylish and fashionable for clever, sophisticated people in movies from the 30s. Then bang away again at the taboo against no-fault divorce: "The cruel taboo against no-fault divorce means the state is intruding into a purely *private* matter. It would be better from women and children if these matters could be settled without the glare of public attention." - the inestimable Mark Shea, a Mark Steyn for people who can think.
"More than half the population believe UK children are "feral" and behave like animals, a survey has suggested.
Half of the 2,021 adults interviewed by YouGov for the poll also felt children should be regarded as "dangerous".
Although we now mourn the death of Peter Connelly, it's not hard to imagine that if he had survived the horrible environment into which he was born he would later be regarded as 'feral' by those who wring their hands over his passing.
The United Kingdom is now a cannibal society. It kills its young in the womb, while those who should know better describe having children as a 'lifestyle choice'. It treats its born young like animals. It cannibalises its economy, selling off its assets for the greatest short term gain. Soon, it will start killing its old.
The price we have been willing to pay for our prosperity has been the cheapening of human life. When we have been willing to take that moral hyperleap, we have to ask ourselves whether we really have the right to call ourselves civilised any more.
Should Irish Catholicism in the wst of Scotland ever require an obituary, it will read that its only significant contributions to world history and global civilisation were Celtic Football Club and the Catholic school.
The chairman of Celtic is reported as saying that 'Mass migration and the internet are increasing threats to Britain's national security'. If mass migration is now a threat to Britain's security, then he must stand charged as being a utility player (crap in every position) in the government that has done more than any other to facilitate mass migration into the United Kingdom. This is your work, O'zymandias; behold it, ye mighty, and despair.
Being a natural authoritarian, it is not surprising that he should adhere to The Blears Doctrine and question the merit of allowing the public access to a tool which enables them to research issues for themselves. He cites as evidence of the Internet's danger that 'on the net you can practically get the full DNA of the First World War flu that killed 24 million people'. One might imagine that this information could also be found in any number of epidemiology textbooks to be found in any university library in the country; does he propose to close them down? No, as ever with the United Kingdom's political establishment, it's the easy target they go for- the British citizen with the audacity to bother scrutinising what they do, and who dares to criticise them when they all too frequently cock up.
The chairmanship of Celtic used to hold a dynastic aura; perhaps the current incumbent of the post is proof of the paradigm that an institution goes to hell when you start letting anyone in.
A bit like the United Kingdom.
Teaching A Lesson
Some Thoughts On Tax Policy
If tax cuts are apparently now considered to be vital for the maintenance of economic stability, why were tax rates allowed to rise so high?
Or is that the kind of dirty question that you shouldn't ask in public?
Sunday, November 16, 2008
'The More They Scare People, The More McCain Is In With A Chance'
Professor Niall Ferguson, speaking on October 21 2008.
In his column for 'The Daily Mail' of November 6 2008 entitled 'Prejudice crushed by the march of history', Professor Ferguson omitted to mention how 'boring' he found President-elect Obama's debate performances to be, relating how he was moved to tears by the sound of Sam Cooke's 'A Change Is Goin' To Come' instead. He rectifies the error in the above video.
Buddy, Can You Spare A Dime?
"Tell me, where now are all those great doctors and masters with whom you were well acquainted while they were alive and immersed in learning? Now others fill their places, and I know not whether they ever think of them. In their lifetime they seemed to be someone, and now they are not spoken of" -
Professor Niall Ferguson, the Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University and self-described 'fully paid-up member of the neo-imperialist gang', is the subject of an interview in the print version of today's 'Sunday Times'. The subject is, of all things, his personal finances.
Asked the question "How much did you earn last year?", he replies,
"I will take the Fifth Amendment on that if I can. It was north of seven figures, but not by much. Suffice to say that in Britain I would be embarrassed that it was so much, and in the US I would be embarrassed that it would be so little".
He is then asked, "What is the most lucrative work you have ever done?".
"It would probably have to be the consulting and advising work I have done for investment banks and hedge funds. In the glory days of 2006, demand for a historical financial perspective was very high and there was a point where it was not impossible for me to get 100,000 US dollars for a one hour speech at some extravagant hedge fund manager conference in an exotic location".
100,000 bucks an hour- good work if you can get it ...
A quick scan of previous posts reveals records of Professor Ferguson having addressed two separate Morgan Stanley investment conferences in 2006; one in Lyford Cay, the other in Cap d' Antibes. One wonders whether the staid chaps at Morgan Stanley would appreciate being described as 'extravagant'. If they were, then, well, when the keynote speaker's getting $100,000 an hour you might as well push the boat out.
I once described Professor Ferguson as 'Scotland's Malcolm Gladwell'; it seems the analogy may have been more than apt.
But it's not 2006 any more, alas. The weekly gig at the 'Sunday Telegraph' seems to have gone by the wayside, and even although there's a new book and TV show out, it may be the case of any port in a storm.
Such as 'The Daily Mail'.
'The Daily Mail's' 'souvenir edition' of November 6 2008 celebrating the election of Barack Obama contained an editorial entitled 'Prejudice crushed by the march of history'. Its author was - you guessed it - Professor Niall Ferguson. Any American readers I might have who are of Irish extraction or who hail from the South might find it well worth reading in full.
In it he writes,
"Not long after this marathon campaign got under way nearly two years ago, I became one of John McCain's foreign policy advisers. At that time, he struck me as ideally suited to the job of president.
With America preoccupied by terrorist threats and foreign wars, he combined first-hand military experience and gritty personal integrity.
If national security had remained the dominant issue in this election year, I might have stayed on board.
But when the facts change, you have to be ready to change your mind; and the facts changed dramatically when the financial crisis that originated last year in the sub-prime mortgage market blew up into a full-scale panic this September and October.
Economics, John McCain was frank enough to admit in an unguarded moment, is not his strong suit. It turned out not to be his party's strong suit either.
Not since the early Seventies - perhaps not since the early Thirties - has the U.S. experienced a financial crisis of this magnitude. It is a crisis that calls for an entirely different set of skills from those John McCain evinced in this campaign.
While McCain was impulsive, his opponent was cool. While McCain was irascible, his opponent was calm.
And while McCain made the single worst decision of his political career - choosing the lightweight Sarah Palin as his running mate - his opponent was collected.
In all three presidential debates, as the public mood shifted from economic anxiety to outright panic, the two candidates diverged. The more edgy McCain became, the more centred Obama became.
In a crisis like this, we need three things from a new president. We need an inaugural address as inspiring as Franklin Roosevelt's in 1933. We need a temperament that doesn't overheat under pressure.
And we need disciplined, focused organisation, to ensure that the new administration does not bungle its first 100 days the way Bill Clinton bungled his in 1993.
In this campaign, which has combined soaring oratory with superhuman sang-froid and faultless management, Obama has shown he has all three qualities. McCain's went missing in action. "
That the pool of talent around the Republican Party is now so small that the Republican candidate for President of the United States should select as an adviser a Glaswegian imperialist whose principal residence is in Oxfordshire speaks much for the tragedies that now beset the GOP; Dutch Reagan would have shown Ferguson the door without a second thought.
But his miraculous conversion to Obama's 'superhuman sang-froid' just at a time when having been connected to the Republican Party could be the crappiest of all possible career moves for a prominent public intellectual brings to mind what is perhaps an ignoble and uncharitable thought - the one articulated by J. M. Barrie, in Act II of 'What Every Woman Knows'.