Monday, November 30, 2009

St. Andrew's Day

I wonder what St. Andrew would think of it.

I Could Be Mistaken...

but didn't this article also appear yesterday under the name 'Kevin Smith'?

Indeed it did.

Orwelliana, 3

The disputes of bloggers are unedifying at the best of times; when they concern the worst of times, they are diabolically ugly.
It is interesting to note the appearance of this so soon after that of this; with no mention of the latter in the former. Suffice it to say that the first might have trouble satisfying the tests of relevance and specification demanded of written pleadings in the Scottish civil courts.
Remember - he who controls the present controls the past; he who controls the past, controls the future.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

LPUK...

is not a body in respect of whose doings I can generate a speck of interest, let alone ever bring myself to vote for, but congratulations are in order to Chris Mounsey, now, apparently, its leader.

The Cannibalistic Entropy Of Anglo-Saxon Capitalism

As is only to be expected, some of the more predictably Pavlovian type of freemarketoids are having a go at him in the Comments. No group of potential slaves ever embraced slavery so warmly as economic liberals. One would weep, if one were not laughing.
The way in which British assets have been swallowed up by the protectedly ravenous is not merely pillage; it's a direct result of Anglo-Saxon capitalism's cannibalistic approach to the economy. Dog must not merely eat dog; dog must own dog he plans to eat.
Inevitably, this has resulted in a cannibalistic entropy. We have no significant industrial base any more, a victim of foreign competition. Or not, as the case may be. It is hard to see how industries in countries that don't provide subsidies can compete with those from countries that do. Trade carried out on such terms cannot be labelled 'competition', for only one side is competing. It's like a boxing bout in which only one pugilist is permitted gloves or a gumshield.
Once the industry's gone, you have to rely on provision of services as a means of generating national income, always a risky business. Most services traded in the UK are completely unnecessary. Adam Smith, the old Pie in the Sky Fairy himself, would turn in his grave at the thought of an economy in which the principal motor of economic activity is the haircut.
Being unsustainable, the businesses that supply them can't of course be sustained. It was to the demographic that believes that their unnecessary service really is the better mousetrap which will have the world beating a path to their door that Lord Sugar spoke a few home truths not so long ago; and if his delivery lacked finesse, he can't really be criticised for stating the bleedin' obvious.
What's left, when you can't make things and can't serve people? The answer is very straightforward; sell the shirt off your back, a policy to which successive British governments have surrendered themselves with abandon. It's a pity they've felt it necessary to surrender the rest of us to it as well. Those who lead Britain will not be happy until absolutely nothing in the United Kingdom is owned by the British anymore. Cannibalism and entropy might both be phenomena, but that does not mean that they should ever have been considered as policies.

Dissension And Critique

I don't read Damian Thompson's commentaries upon religious affairs with any degree of regularity; a quick scan of his short post on the most recent Irish clerical abuse scandal reminds me why.
The scandal will not, as Mr. Thompson seems to believe, make 'the Catholic Church even more loathed in Ireland than it already is'. This is because it is not loathed in Ireland. Some Irish loathe it; most don't seem to. If the Irish loathe their Church, the high level of Mass attendance in the Irish town I visit infrequently would seem to make the loathing not unlike that found in a love-hate relationship; a folie a deux, rather than a folie de Dieu.
To paraphrase C.S. Lewis, one should always be aware of the Devil's love of coteries and factions; the reason I gave up reading Mr. Thompson was because of what I considered to be his extreme partisanship in favour of traditional rites, and his labelling of 'The Tablet' as 'The Bitter Pill'. Such sarcasm cannot be considered to be the action of a person interested in conciliation, or indeed dialogue. However, his reference to 'the mean-spirited Jansenism of the Irish Church and the Irish clerical diaspora' is too brusque to pass unremarked.
Jansenism is a heresy; if he is aware of heresy ever having been preached by an Irish clergyman, he should report it to the proper authoritites. To misuse terms with precise meanings merely to prove a point is an extremely sloppy use of language.
Similarly, while many of them might have not been a Telegraph blogger's sort of chap, over the course of time the 'Irish clerical diaspora' so casually dismissed by Mr. Thompson might not have provided the actual backbone of Catholicism on the mainland, but they have certainly been its ribs. In many cases, they are the ones who built the churches to which many in the Anglican Communion seem to wish to return, despite nobody ever having been stopping them from doing so whenever they've felt like it. Whilst one would rejoice at the conversion of a single Anglican who comes over to Rome as a result of the Pope's overture, presumably also with their wife and their altar-rails, it really shouldn't be forgotten that, in many parts of England, it's been the Irish lads who've kept the show on the road.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Glasgowman!

(Inspired by yesterday's rather fraught journey to work)
Faster than a speeding bullet, Glasgowman rips off his shirt to reveal the giant letter 'G' tattooed on his chest in biro!
Watch him leap onto public transport blind drunk at ten o' clock in the morning!
Marvel at how The Big G shouts sectarian slogans while frightening elderly passengers with overt and inappropriate expressions of intimacy!
Wonder at how he stumbles off the bus and shambles away in search of his nemesis, the archvillain Respectability!
He'll die young, either violently or through self-abuse - but he's Glasgowman, and his legend will live forever!

The Cochabamba Samba In Coatbridge

Let's see.
They screw up the budget, and have to call in the IMF.
The IMF demands that everything that isn't screwed down be pillaged out to the private sector.
And Scots end up paying more for their water, because, you know, the market is always more efficient, blah, blah, etc.
The Cochabamba Water Wars of 2000 took place in a far away country of which we've known nothing; until now.

Mandelson And Modernity

In today's 'Telegraph', Charles Moore asks the following questions of Peter Mandelson -
"Has he driven forward the necessary task of modernising and moderating a party that desperately needed to be able once again to run the country? Or has he pushed our public life into a culture of chicanery, political lies and the circumvention of parliamentary democracy? The answer is, both."
As far as Mandelson's concerned, it would appear that the process of 'modernisation' involves ripping the Labour Party to shreds and selling out its historic base, while later having head waiters being suitably servile towards you, and being invited to Rothschild shooting parties, when you are awarded the medieval title of 'Baron' for your efforts.
As ever, modernisation is good for you; but not for me.

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Cumbria Floods Recovery Appeal

The details are here.

Hat tip Martin Meenagh.

Five Simple Rules Regarding The Reading Of Lawbooks

Firstly, when buying a lawbook you must realise that you will be spending fifty pounds on a product with a shorter shelflife than a pint of milk. If it has not already been superceded in the interval between taking it off the shelf and bringing it to the till, it will probably have become dated by the time you've put your wallet back in your pocket and archaic by the time you've got home.
Secondly, disputes between academic lawyers are of strictly limited intellectual interest. One never hears of disputes between academic tilers or academic carpetfitters, and perhaps with good reason; it is hard to understand why the squabbles of academic lawyers should be treated as being of a different class and degree.
Thirdly, the writing of lawbooks involves both the writer and the reader buying into the legal fiction that the work covers all the bases. With the best will in the world, no academic lawyer will ever be able to cite every precedent that has ever been issued on their topic, if only because so much precedent goes unrecorded. They do not, indeed cannot, record what the law actually is, but only what the writer thinks the law is at a particular point in time and space.
Fourthly, lawbooks sometimes have a disturbing tendency to mirror their authors' prejudices. Such books do not record what the law is, but what the writer would like it to be at every point in time and space.
Lastly, no matter how intensively researched, no matter how many hours have been put into its drafting and redrafting, the completed work is likely to be almost wholly devoid of literary merit. The small print on your bus ticket is likely to make for a better read than the book which explains how it came to be there. This is usually not the fault of the writer, but of the subject matter. Yet so vital is the law that such books will always have to be written. Accordingly, both writer and reader should view them as penance.

The Persecution Of Gary McKinnon

So Alan Johnson, that plain-speaking man of the people, will not intervene to prevent a vulnerable person being extradited to another country to face allegations regarding actions which may, or may not, have been carried out in this one.
This is the political equivalent of a school bully roughing up a calipered classmate for their lunch money; in my view a Pilate-like self-absolution, and an abuse of power for no purpose apparently higher than really sticking the boot into someone weaker than yourself.
Johnson certainly seems to be one of the less appealing specimens of humanity on the public scene. He must know that to deliver an Asperger's sufferer into the Federal prison system might by and of itself be cruel and unusual punishment. He must know that in the Darwinian world of custody, the weak are automatically the prey of the strong. Yet none of this seems to matter to that old trade unionist.
He seems to have the survival instincts of a sewer rat.

A Cultural Failure

While having the greatest sympathy for those who were abused by clergy in Ireland, there are perhaps some others who should be taking a very hard look at themselves.
These behaviours seem to have been so widespread, and of such duration, it seems impossible to believe that no member of the Dail, no editor of the 'Irish Times' or senior correspondent at RTE, and no Attorney-General of the Republic of Ireland would have been unaware of them, even as whispers. The scandal of Irish clerical abuse betrayed a shocking structural flaw in De Valera's almost De Maistrian conception of what Ireland, and the Irish, should be. The cultural autarky he attempted to create has swallowed itself on account not of its superiority, but its conceit.
The Catholic Church in Ireland failed these people; and so did Ireland herself, for Ireland and her good image were deemed to be somehow more valuable than the innocence of Irish children.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Cumbrian Christmas

The devastation that the rains have wreaked on our neighbours in Cockermouth and Workington seems to be being met by The Great British Public with something approaching apathy.
Whenever there is a natural disaster in the Third World, the BBC can't get Huw Edwards or George Alagiah on the spot quickly enough, and Oxfam has got the disaster appeal going while the bodies are still warm. The Cumbrian floods have been a natural disaster by any definition - on last night's 'Ten o' Clock News', I saw a lady named Shelley Doyle, the mother of a nine day old boy, explain that she has been told that she will be unable to return home for six months. Ms. Doyle has become a displaced person, a refugee in our midst. Where are the public appeals to help her?
Last night, it occurred to me that it would be a very good and nice thing if the British blogosphere could do its bit for these folk - something like 'A Cumbrian Christmas', a bit of seasonal goodwill to ensure that the weans get toys, and that everyone gets a slap up feed with plenty of leftovers. Would anyone out there be in the least bit interested in putting differences of ideology, and historic, purposeless personality clashes, to one side for a month and helping?

Knicker Salesman Blasts School System

Sir Stuart Rose, Chairman of Marks & Spencer, advances his credentials as an educationalist.

Orwelliana, 1

One is entitled to feel as sceptical of those who feel themselves outraged by the apparent deceit, if not downright criminality, exposed by 'L' Affaire Climategate' as one does of the whole climate change hoopla itself. It is a subject over which I cannot generate a speck of interest.
Throughout its history, just about all the Earth has done is heat up and cool down. It's no big deal. What some libertarians cannot seem to understand is that their notions of liberty, specifically those affecting their consumption habits, might one day have to change in tandem with it. That seems to be a very big deal indeed.
The climate change johnnies who may have been trying to either fiddle the evidence, or who didn't seem to know how to use their own models, or who seem to have discussed courses of conduct regarding their potential responses to Freedom of Information requests which could have swerved on to the wrong side of the law, were of course acting rationally. Gaia gives them their bread and butter, so every course of action to keep going the myth that she is being damaged by verminous humanity is fair game. They're only human themselves - what else could we possibly expect of a false religion's priests?
Remember - he who controls the present controls the past; he controls the past controls the future.

Orwelliana, 2

"The Vicar of Bray, though he was well-equipped to be a leader-writer on 'The Times', could hardly be described as an admirable character" -
George Orwell, 'A Good Word for The Vicar of Bray'.
Alas, defences of Wikipedia seem to make no impact on 'Times' leader-writers. That '(t)he persistent decline in the number of Wikipedia editors' might be a consequence of Wikipedia editors having to find other things to do with their time in the middle of the worst economic conditions experienced for several generations does not seem to occur to them. By and of itself, it provides no proof of any actual flaw in the Wikipedia model. By and of itself, it provides no proof any actual lack of interest in Wikipedia. By and of itself, it provides no actual evidence of a lack of competence among Wikipedia's users. As the intellectual elitist, windy ghoul and misanthrope E. H. Carr might have put it, Wikipedia's existence is a threat to elite control of knowledge, and therefore of reasoning; a very direct charge in the face of which its critics and snipers remain mute.
'The Times', an intellectual staple of boyhood, has been going downhill for some years now. Just about the only succour one can gain from this decline is that Orwell's vision of its leader pages becoming the shop window of Newspeak is unlikely ever to come true.
Remember - he who controls the present controls the past; he who controls the past controls the future.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Cumbrian Floods

Unless I am mistaken (the information comes from memory of a graphic shown on the BBC's 'Ten o' Clock News' of 20/11/09), the River Cocker runs from an elevated lake down the side of a mountain into Cockermouth.
The only effective ways of preventing Cockermouth from flooding would therefore appear to be moving either the lake, or the river, or the mountain, or the town. While one obviously has the greatest sympathy for those who have lost life or property, and while hoping that residents get the benefit of the best flood defences money can buy, none of the ultimate solutions seem particularly practical.

Alky Ida

Ah, the horrible things that the followers of Alky Ida are believed to do!

Enough of the 'Grey Lady of Bagram' guff. How about 'The Bag Lady of Bagram' instead? Given that Aafia Siddiqui seems to be a member of Pakistan's highest high elite, one can be sure that the bag would be Chanel.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Your Masters' Voice

(Revised and edited 24/11/2009)
A person named Vaira Vike-Freiberga, apparently a former president of Latvia, has written that, "The European Union’s founding fathers knew that it had to be built brick by brick if it was to be accepted".
Tim Worstall has, quite rightly, stuck both boots into her arrogance and insolence. Pace Tim, several thoughts of my own have sprung to mind.
The term 'Founding Fathers' provides a wonderful example of how a phrase used to describe revolutionary groups can become universally recognised, indeed beloved, if bleached by favourable repetition often enough.
The Declaration of Independence did not enjoy universal support among American colonists. I recall reading somewhere, I can't remember where, that up to a third of colonists stayed loyal. While they may have spoken for the majority of the colonists, the revolutionaries would not have proceeded to victory in the ensuing war without French support. I guess all founding fathers need sugardaddies.
That up to two thirds of colonists may have been in favour of such a move was the result of what is now of course recognised to have been the folly of British colonial policy. During those dark nights of the soul in Riga, when one retreated to darkened rooms to listen to Polish jazz and read Vaclav Havel, ever fearful of the knock at the door, Freiberga could perhaps have reflected on just why people combine together under slogans like 'No Taxation Without Representation'. It is for the same reason that they get irritable at insolent elitists who try to justify the reduction of others' birthright democracy through the now tedious vehicle of recollections of just how bad life was under the Soviet jackboot. We know it was bad, but it ended 20 years ago. Our opposition to the jackboot is one of the principal reasons it's no longer on your throat, and your kitten heel on our throat is just as irksome for us as the presence of a Great Russian jackboot on yours was to you.
There has been no difference between the creation, expansion and endurance of the European Union and the folly of Hanoverian policy in America; not a shred of difference whatsoever. Both are the products of aristocratic disdain for the little man; the only difference has been that the European 'Foundig Fathers', whoever they were and wherever they met, made sure the people were disarmed, of their cultural heritage, their religious tradition and their weapons, before they started.
It is interesting to see the depth of idiocy into which Freiberga's authoritarianism leads her. The irony of this insolent woman speaking of the EU being built brick by brick almost 20 years to the day after another celebrated European brick landmark was finally deemed to be too great an eyesore to survive any longer seems to have escaped here.
As far as the not very special case of Latvia is concerned, well, you wanted your independence; fine. You wanted to be capitalists; fine. You cocked it up; fine. Your personal self-image demands that you still be considered important, and the way you do this is by hectoring free people about injustices that vanished from your life nearly 20 years ago, grievance politics for white people; not fine. The experience of previous repression does not justify future repression.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Herman's Hermits

Despite being unable to recall ever being asked if I wanted one, I now have a President. Name of Herman, apparently.
It really does make one wonder what all those great fusses of not so long ago, like D-Day, were really all about. But hey ho, we are where we are.
Let us hope that HE van Rompuy and the sublime Baroness Ashton will either stay or be kept as far away from anything important as is humanly possible; you never know, if they do then something might tell them they're on to something good.

Disgustingly Weird Crimes Fuelled By Vanity And Pride

Thursday, November 19, 2009

High Atmospheric Vapidity

"I still like doing the Moonwalk on slidey floors and I don't have a proper job or a pension or a driving licence or anything. " - Ariane Sherine.
Ms. Sherine, a self-styled, er 'comedy writer', appears to have deleted the blog post from which the above quotation comes; it is to be hoped that she does not believe that comedy exists only to have other people appreciate your cleverness by laughing with you, rather than failing to show sympathy by laughing at you when you make a public wally of yourself.
Never having met anyone named 'Apollo' or 'Mercury', I can't imagine what kind of burden it must be to share your name with a type of space rocket, particularly one that has to be hauled into the jungles of South America to be launched; but then again, I'm as common as muck. It probably shows.
The eternal space cadet, whose penchant for Moonwalking might suggest that's she more likely to be wired to the Moon than she ever will be to walk on it, would be harmless - mostly harmless, perhaps - if she had not decided to take her 'Atheist Bus Campaign' to a whole new level with an all out assault on the concept of parental rights. Even the most vehement opponent of religiously segregated schooling (such as, ahem, me) should recognise or ought to be able to recognise that parents must have the right to instruct their children in their religious beliefs.
There is no, as the Moonbat vapourtrails, 'current public perception that it is acceptable to label children with a religion'. To someone raised in an age where history is regarded as what you recorded on Sky Plus last night, and ancient history is last week's Top 40, it is pointless attempting to argue that every society everywhere has recognised the right of parents to induct their children into their religion. Those which have been officially non-religious, such as the Soviet Union, or biased against religion, such as the Third Reich, have been compelled to indoctrinate children into their own belief systems, because they know that the child's natural instinct towards religion is more powerful than any of their prattlings about their own objects of hatred du jour, whether they be capitalists or Jews. It is an irrepressible instinct of all created things to lift their eyes to something greater than themselves; even plants turn towards the sun.
This natural instinct towards religion is universal; we cannot suppress it for ever, and every attempt to officially oppress it has failed. They will always fail. Religion, and in particular Christianity, is too powerful a medicine for the feelings of perpetual motion sickness induced by solipsistic atheism to be able to handle. Just as having no policy is having a policy in the political sphere, to have no religion is still to have a religion. This might make an enlightened atheist like Moonbat believe that she'll 'disappear in a puff of logic'; but it's true.
It is also surprising to see anyone raised in multicultural Britain walk into the asteroid field of anthropology so blithely. The fact that religion is almost always the dominant feature of any culture, and that if you try to draw people away from religion you are undermining what might be your own multicultural shibboleths, doesn't really seem to occur to them.
And how is this marvellous idea to be enforced? As far as I can see, this is the most nebulous aspect of Moonbat's grand plan for the spread of atheism. It's presumably only to be talked about. Being an atheist, she doesn't, of course, have anyone to pray to for its success. Christians pray, atheists sit around and chat over lattes. It would be a very good thing if the idea that the religious are not inclined to action were to be killed stone dead once and for all.
It was, of course, that remarkable humanitarian Louis St. Just, possessor of that mind of fire and heart of ice that conspired together to get him whacked at the age of 26, who thought that boys should only be with their parents until the age of five, and thereafter should become the property of the state for life. To deny a child a right to their religion is the sort of rubbish that only a very nasty piece of work like St. Just would come up with, for to deny a child their religion is really to deny them their own identity. If they follow it in later life, it fits like a glove, and if they reject it then they might be engaged in some curious intellectual exercise, but at least they are exercising free will. Like the Robinson family in 'Lost in Space' the lost are only lost because they forgot either where they started out from, or where they were meant to be going.
It seems like this is Moonbat's 'Gotterdammerung' from the high-paced and funky world of evangelical atheism; she's apparently resigning from her beliefs to spend more time with her career. One wishes her well, and can only say that if her track record as an evangelist has been anything to go by, her editors should watch out for buffer overflow.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Remember - Political Parties Are Just Gangs...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Audit Of Orwell

Perhaps the best career move that George Orwell ever made was dying when he died. His reputation would most certainly not have survived one of those embarrassing lurches to the right which seem to afflict leftists in their old age, once the knighthood’s in and the Nobel’s on the mantelpiece.

I’ve recently finished reading ‘1984’ for the first time. Although it was at first disquieting to realise that one is reading a story about a 39 year old man with a dud leg and bad teeth, upon completing it one realised that there may be some limited value in performing an entirely subjective audit of where we stand now in relation to his vision of the future, after 12 years of New Labour and 3,000 New Criminal Offences on the books. It is doubtful whether anything that is written here has not been said elsewhere, by writers steeped much more deeply in scholarship of Orwell – but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth a bash.

Like ‘Brave New World’, like ‘A Man for All Seasons’, ‘1984’ seems to be one of those works which children must suffer when introduced to at too young an age, which in turn causes the work to suffer as a result of being introduced to children of too young an age. As far as young readers in 2009 are concerned, this is something of a pity; if only because they’re the ones living the nightmare.

The adjective ‘Orwellian’ is overplayed – one might just as well use it to describe the misanthropy of anthropomorphic pigs as the dystopic world of Oceania. As adjectives go, it’s been so overused it’s now in serious danger of needing to be re-soled. One of the more delicious ironies which arises from reading the book in 2009 is to think of those libertarians who complain about the erosion of civil liberties being ‘Orwellian’, and, in the same breath, describe the process as being the result of ‘a cock-up, not a conspiracy’; a classic example of doublethink, the process of being able to believe that two contradictory contentions can both be true at the same time without which his imaginay world could not function.

Where are we at? The principal flaw in the book is that Orwell, who was writing as a good socialist in the days of a Labour government, did not raise, perhaps did not or even could not countenance, the possibility of liberty not being lost as a result of revolution, but counter-revolution. IngSoc never materialised to set up telescreens in every home; but neoliberalism, the counter-revolution of the chartered accountants, did rise to set up the CCTV cameras on every street corner. It is apparently not only those on the left who have believed that power is not a means, but an end in itself.

He was in the business of providing warnings about political systems; not attempting to become a visionary of the future in the mould of Arthur C. Clarke. Accordingly, being able to assess the role that technology can play in oppression was beyond him; after all, who needs telescreens when you have cookies? If he had survived to write the book in 1975, his vision might have been very different. The microprocessing revolution of the 1950’s and ‘60’s could have led him to believe that oppressive states of the future would seek to chip humanity as a way of ensuring that their whereabouts can be monitored at all times. On the BBC’s ‘Countryfile’ programme of 15th November 2009, it was reported that recent EU regulations have directed that all donkeys be chipped. It is unknown whether any of these poor monitored beasts are in fact small wooden boys, with noses that grow longer when they tell lies, transformed into donkeys against their will, and whose only real desire is to be living, breathing boys.

In no particular order...

The philologist Syme tells Winston plainly that Newspeak is designed to be the only language in the world with a diminishing vocabulary; in the Principles of Newspeak, to make impossible any modes of thought other than those approved by The Party. This process has been at work on the English language, certainly as spoken and written in the UK, for many years. In ‘Free at Last’, his last set of political diaries, Tony Benn describes his irritation at taking a train journey and being described for that purpose as a customer; and he was quite right, because, as he said, he was a passenger. Anyone who has had dealings with the Department of Work and Pensions in the recent past will appreciate the same disquiet at being described as a customer when one is both a citizen and claimant. The increasing use of the word ‘customer’ to describe very different kind of relationships is classic Newspeak in action, making it impossible to imagine the user of a service having any kind of relationship with those who provide the service, any service, other than as a customer. Attempts to reduce all interactions to commercial transactions are attempts to reduce ways of thinking. This is ‘1984’ in action.

The concept of doublethink, the ability to hold two simultaneously conflicting views, is critical to all that the book describes. In recent years, we have been governed by a Labour Party which has been fanatical in its implementation of a ‘flexible labour market’. Its only tangible result has been growing disparity between the rich and the poor. The guys who cooked up the Speenhamland Act had nothing on Tony Blair, CEO of Reds Inc.

For a party to simultaneously believe in both the redistribution of wealth and in the benefits of a flexible labour market is classic doublethink. We should perhaps have seen that one coming.

By the same token, the desire of the UK’s two-and-a-half main political parties to rule Britain while advancing European integrationism at the same time is, again, classic doublethink. Do they wish to rule, or not?

In Oceania, the ‘proles’ live in a state of permanent peonage, hated by The Party but providing the labour without which it could not exist. They are not ‘secret people’, but almost entirely invisible. It is here that Orwell is at both his most perceptive and most blind, his desire to create getting in the way of his socialism. The proles live for the Lottery, which they believe to be the only means available to them of escaping a life of deadening labour – bang on. They are sustained by a junk diet of bad, quite literally manufactured, music and sexually violent films – bang on. The women are obese – a very hit and miss prediction. Orwell believed that this would be the result of a combination of overwork and over child bearing, which, in these sylvan days of Income Support and social abortion, would be viewed with distaste in many quarters. Then again, he was in the business of producing warnings, not prophecies.

Without war, there could be no Party; and in the section in which Winston reads Goldstein’s ‘Principles of Oligarchical Collectivism’, it is made clear that the only reason why the three powers make quite desultory efforts at warmaking is to control the labour supply available in the Third World. This is one prediction which Orwell got badly wrong – again, he might not have had a crystal ball, but his failure to predict counter-revolution meant that he could not see any circumstances in which the Third World’s labour could be opened up to Western exploitation by any means such as ‘The Washington Consensus’, one of the most effective colonial policies ever devised – it is very much more efficient to dominate a country by destroying its economy from within and calling it ‘freedom’, than by invading it from without.

Some time ago, I mentioned that the current wave of immigration from the Third World was what scholars of the 19th Century would have called a ‘Volkerwanderung’. I’ve revised that view – the ‘Volkerwanderung’ of the early Christian era were the result of the Roman Empire’s internal collapse. This one has been the result not of an internal collapse, but as a result of the wanderers’ own economies and societies being collapsed as a result of outside pressures. Europe is now full of people with nowhere else to go; not economic migrants, but financial refugees. Through blindness and stupidity, We the People colluded in this, for no reason other than our desire to consume. While it is perfectly natural to feel sympathy for doctors and nurses having to migrate to Europe to clean toilets and serve fast-food, the idea that this is not a natural state of affairs brought about as the consequence of previous policies does not seem to occur to anyone with the slightest degree of responsibility for the management of affairs; another example of doublethink.

That it might also lead to dissent and the threat of internal collapse is, of course, another possibility that they did not seem to consider; their stated belief that all the world’s people are only interested in the same things, an idea Orwell himself found absurd, has had any number of quite avoidable consequences, such as the appearance of a bloody great hole in the ground where the World Trade Centre used to be and the rise of Nick Griffin; of whom more later.

Yet in our times of endless war, that ‘war hysteria’ which Orwell described as being at its most acute at the top of society, is manifested only, er, at the top of society. ‘We must stay the course in Afghanistan!’ scream the ministers and the newspapers. Staying the course in Afghanistan seems to mean securing the supply of cheap heroin in Glasgow, and little else. Those lads will wander around in their jim-jams with tea cosies on their nappers from now ‘til Kingdom come, and no amount of blood spilled trying to democratise them is going to make a blind bit of difference. That’s their thang – it’s what they do. Afghanistan is, and always will be, an historical oddity – a civilisation more in need of ‘Top Man’ than Tocqueville.

Yet the Afghan War (how many have there been now? Is anyone keeping score?) is illustrative of The Party maxim that ‘He who controls the present controls the past; he who controls the past controls the future’. We went there to destroy Taliban; now we’re there to ensure, well, something or other, but destroying the Taliban seems to be a non-starter – besides, if things keep going the way they have done recently, we’ll be having Skeikh Al-Khazi round for Tiffin in no time at all. In a period of time which in the span of history will be nothing but the blink of Mullah Omar's good eye, Manhattan’s aforementioned bloody great hole in the ground will be considered to be less important in the scheme of things than the pursuit of gender equality in some mountainous hellhole. Perhaps we have arrived at that point already.

We shouldn’t really be surprised that historical narrative has become so deliberately muddled, perhaps even been sabotaged, that it can only be interpreted through the lens of Orwell’s aphorism. The British national narrative du jour that we are ‘a nation of immigrants’ is entirely false, yet it has been being pushed on the public for at least a decade now. Remember – he who controls the present controls the past, while he who controls the past controls the future.

While being tortured by O’ Brien, Winston is told that his mere death will not be enough. He must be crushed so completely that he comes to accept, indeed love, the system which will shoot or vapourise him. The Party’s inability to control and monitor thought processes is viewed as being a weakness. ‘Crimethink’ is taken so seriously that Parsons, the most avid Party man Winston knows, ends up in the Ministry of Love for saying ‘Down with Big Brother’ when he is at his most vulnerable; in his sleep. He is turned in by his daughter.

The advance of laws prohibiting ‘hate speech’ are nothing but attempts to introduce ‘Crimethink’ into our culture. The more bovine type of rightist will bluster about an Englishman’s right to say this, that or the next thing – flapdoodle. They will bitch and moan about the number of Equality and Diversity personnel that local authorities are compelled to hire, when what really gets their goat is the amount of money such folk are paid – this is doodleflap (a sight really worth seeing would be a group of one-legged black lesbian diversity co-ordinators standing outside the Kensington & Chelsea Conservative Club waving their wedges and shouting ‘Loadsamoney!’). Blimp has never been shot down; and his bovine insistence that ‘it’s a cock-up, not a conspiracy’ means that he has been as blind as a newborn puppy to the social engineering going on around him. The folk he complains about are not there to ensure that we all live the right way; but that we think the right way. Blimp has been kippered by the very forces he’s supported ever since he started believing that trade unions were A Bad Thing.

But that is not the supreme irony of this situation. That honour goes to the diversitators themselves, by habit creatures of the left, who, in doing their very level Boy Scout and Girl Guide best to impose one worldism on us, have been the unwitting stooges of ‘globalisation’, whatever that might be; for whatever it is, it’s the most avaricious, rapacious form of capitalism the world’s ever seen.

As C. S. Lewis remarked in ‘The Four Loves’ the abolition of friendship in favour of companionship would be considered a great advance by those who wish us to be suspicious of each other. The diversitators’ insistence that criminal record checks be necessary for parents who wish to participate in the school run has been an achievement of British totalitarianism that not even Orwell could have anticipated. As he remarked in ‘England Your England’, the most hated term of abuse in the English language is ‘Nosey Parker’. The transformation of his England into a nation of midden-rakers, trawling through other peoples’ trash in pursuit of misdeeds such as trying to get your child into a better school, would have been entirely beyond his imagination.

Not even Oceania could destroy the family, so it didn’t even try – however, the increasingly fungible nature of human relationships, facilitated by corrosive propaganda and unnecessary laws, means that, again, life has outperformed art.

In Oceania, nobody can be permitted to obstruct the system’s march to dominance; and as far as we are concerned, it is at this stage that hope appears.

Although a deplorable impulse and one which must be overcome for all our sakes, the desire to hate an individual is entirely natural; yet hate is subject to entropy. If spun out too widely, it can’t be kept going for long. In Oceania, they acknowledge what they believe to be its power; but they only do it for two minutes at a time. When attempts are made to generate hate against whole groups of people, they usually backfire. It might have been a cock-up, it might have been a conspiracy – but if it was the latter, it’s been a cocked-up conspiracy.

The anathemisation of entire groups of people such as the white working class and the British National Party, their self-appointed, shaven-headed champions, have done nothing but increase support for that group to such a level that its leader now appears on mainstream television. As much as he might itch for the job, Nick Griffin will never be the equivalent of Emmanuel Goldstein (no irony intended). He is already too widely known. His party has too much support to enable it to be suppressed. Perhaps the mistake that those who directed this hate made was in thinking that their constituencies would swallow the party line at all times and under all circumstances. For many years, the constituencies downed it like foie gras. But in forgetting their own humanity, in pumping themselves full of doublethink and abusing and attempting to criminalise those who questioned their motives, those in command of policy assumed that their constituencies had none of their own, that they would suffer being lied to and done down indefinitely – which must make their rejection by their constituencies in favour of a sometimes inhumane individual even more bitter, and them more vengeful.

There are, of course, huge flaws in the book. Orwell doesn’t get round to explaining how IngSoc conquers America; a pretty big omission. Yet his biggest omission of all is his failure to address the question of religion.

Presumably not being religious himself, he fails to explain how Oceania has made religion disappear. Nobody in Oceania seems to feel the need to invoke any authority higher than Big Brother. I’ve got a feeling Orwell didn’t understand either religion or the religious very well – his invocation ‘God is Power’ is, of course, a bastardisation of ‘God is Love’, and he references the Catholic Church twice in ‘The Principles of Oligarchical Collectivism’. Yet it perhaps shows that his ambition over-reached itself by failing to mention religion at all, when the one thing that no dictatorship anywhere has ever been able to do is stop people praying. If anything, living under dictatorship is more likely to make you start.

Are we in the world of ‘1984’? No. Does it seem like it? Yes. Could it get worse? Yes. Will it ever win? No. God the Father trumps Big Brother every time. There is always hope.

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Taste Of The Hollywood Mentality

“What good’s a movie if you can’t corrupt a 16-year-old?” -

Joseph Strick, 86.

Old bastard.

They Live In Edinburgh, Have A Scottish Mother...

and one of them is a taxi driver - so why are we paying for an Arabic translator?

A Revolutionary

A suggestion from Nick Clegg, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, which suggests that he is neither liberal nor democratic. They used to bang people into the Tower of London for saying such things. Screw him and his party. Hopefully they all get their ballots kicked at the election.
Can I make one small request of this person - when you start doling out the Mao pyjamas, can I have mine in Extralarge?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

It's All The Fault Of The Poor, Damn Their Eyes

When I read this guy, I sometimes start to think he'd like nothing more than to have the right to kick the poor to death in the street, you know, really let fly with both fists and feet before finally doing for them with an open razor to the jugular; and then be thanked for it.
Memo to English Bob - the poor will be with you always. Friedrich von Hayek will not.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Ad Multos Annos

The Rev. James Henderson S. J., sometime of the staff of St. Aloysius College and later curate at Sacred Heart, Edinburgh, passed away last week. He was buried two days ago.
Two years ago, it was a pleasure to renew an acquaintance broken 24 years before when he married my wife and me at Sacred Heart.
By 2007, the charismatic Londoner with the build of a prop forward and wiry greying hair, who had taught RE through the medium of 'Jesus Christ Superstar' and bawled out unruly altar boys for fannying about in the sacristy, had lost four stone, the hair turned white and thinning; but, like all good Jesuits, his door was always open, and he never seemed to stop working.
Hopefully he is now at rest, like the good and faithful servant he gave every impression of being. Please say one for him.
Eternal rest grant unto your son James, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon him, may he rest in peace; and may his soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

A Short Thought For Conservatives

"The use of Fashions in thought is to distract the attention of men from their real dangers. We direct the fashionable outcry of each generation against those vices of which it is least in danger and fix its approval on the virtue nearest to that vice which we are trying to make endemic. The game is to have them all running about with fire extinguishers whenever there is a flood, and all crowding about to that side of the boat which is already nearly gunwale under. Thus we make it fashionable to expose the dangers of enthusiasm at the very moment when they are all really becoming worldly and lukewarm; a century later, when we are really making them all Byronic and drunk with emotion, the fashionable outcry is directed against the dangers of the mere 'understanding'. Cruel ages are put on their guard against Sentimentality, feckless and idle ones against Respectability, lecherous ones against Puritanism; and whenever all men are really hastening to be slaves or tyrants we make Liberalism the prime bogey." -

Screwtape, as edited by C.S. Lewis, 'The Screwtape Letters', No. 25

Darwinist Logic

Some Darwinists seem to believe that human beings are descended from apes because the genomes of both share similar characteristics. Notwithstanding that there have been a heck of a lot of apes and a heck of a lot of us, and that there is a heck of a lot of the fossil record, in the absence of that one piece of killer proof which the aforementioned fossil record has so far been unable to provide, let us see where that type of logic leads us. Ah, yes.
All motor cars have engines and wheels. Ferraris have engines and wheels. Therefore all motor cars are Ferraris.
Eureka! Men are descended from apes! Open the champagne, call David Attenborough and mail me my Nobel!
Keep looking, chaps. Next! As Bono said - 'But I still haven't found what I'm looking for'....

The Whole Anglican Thing

I have deliberately avoided writing about the Pope's overtures to the Anglican Communion; if only because such matters are, to coin a phrase, way above my pay grade.
Founded as it was upon the principle, 'goodbye to the old boss; meet the new boss', and for no substantial purpose other than to be the religious wing of those who rule England and who, in their view, must continue to rule her whatever the cost, Anglicanism is, and always has been, prone to the operation of spiritual centrifuge; as soon as it start to pick up speed, it's at risk of falling apart. My knowledge of English ecclesiastical history perhaps ain't what it should be; but it would be an interesting study to see whether the Oxford Movement could ever have happened without the revival in evangelical Anglicanism which immediately proceeded it.
Yet one must admire the subtlety with which Herr Doktor Professor Ratzinger has set the cat amongst the pigeons. He did not say 'Archbishop Williams, tear down this wall'; instead, he went directly to the people. When he's trying to save souls, just what else is a Pope to do?

The Parachute

Lovely wee story; and it's a pity that Mr. McCallum didn't live to hear it. The Lord works in mysterious ways...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Glasgow North East

Today, we are having a Parliamentary bye-election in which two of the four main parties are feilding candidates whose only previous work experience seems to have been as BBC journalists.
This is how revolutions start. Vote Smeato!

Put Him On 'Question Time'

If Lord Mandelson must become Minister of Information, it would only be appropriate for him to face the public - a move I recall suggesting, oh, only five months ago now.

Old Testaments

An Edinburgh widow named Mona Webster has followed the disgraceful example of Dr. Grace Smith, leaving nearly half of her substantial estate to New York's Metropolitan Opera House.
Some believe that money talks; others perhaps even that it sings. It was her money to do with as she liked, of course; but one can't help but think that there might be mouths it could have fed. Bah, humbug.

And New Testaments...

Kudos, and hopefully much, much more, to the late Mr. Hugh Brown, a resident of Kinghorn, for bequeathing his entire estate to the RNLI. Other human beings might not get to hear 'Cosi fan Tutte' as a result of Mr. Brown's generosity - but they will get to live another day.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Some Thoughts On Thinktanks

This writer is increasingly of the belief that all thinktanks, policy shops, group blogs, and teams of newspaper leader writers should be considered to be not unlike Snow White's Seven Dwarfs, as imagined by Kafka or Lovecraft.

Krapp's Last Tape

Having watched the absurd segment on 'Newsnight' last night during which Jeremy Paxman lobbed embarrassingly soft questions to a heavily sedated Jacqui Janes, it occurred to me that Gordon Brown might just have been the victim of a crime.
Whenever you phone a British call centre, the words 'These calls may be recorded for training and monitoring purposes', or some other similar formula, which are piped into your ear are not primarily there for the purposes of facilitating either training or monitoring. They are there to ensure that the call can be recorded legally by enabling you, the caller, to indicate your lack of consent to being recorded by putting the phone down. In my day, the recording of telecoms for civil or commercial purposes was governed by the Telecommunications Act 1984; don't know what the governing legislation is now.
If Ms. Janes and her pals recorded Gordon Brown without advising him they were doing so, this could explain why 'Newsnight' broadcast only her side of the call, an editorial omission which turned the 'interview', such as it was, into a toe-curling embarrassment; and it could also mean that if the Prime Minister sought to take this matter further in a private capacity, the recording now in the hands of 'The Sun' newspaper (ultimate proprietor, Keith Murdoch, AO, KCSG) just might be evidence of a crime.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

On Honours

This is a bit of a time-delayed post.
On November 5 2009, Sir Ian Blair, former Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, mounted a sterling defence of immigration and diversity on the BBC's 'Question Time' show. He stopped short of calling Robert Kilroy-Silk a racist at just the right moment, and praised the competence of Polish plumbers to the skies; although his comment that the Poles were 'the best plumbers around' will no doubt be burned into the memories of aggrieved British plumbers now gagging for the chance to have a go at a leaking Blair bathroom.
Memorable highlights of Sir Ian's career in public service include allowing himself to be photographed with what seemed to be an orange napkin on his head, and also allowing himself to be sacked by Boris Johnson. It might be said that Sir Ian's touch for public relations has lost none of its deftness in his retirement.
The best example of the occasionally tortured relationship which can exist between the police and the policing of immigration came on Sir Ian Blair's watch. If the police service under his command had perhaps been a little more attentive to finding visa overstayers, they might not have had to answer so many awkward questions when his officers shot one of them in the head.
Yet for all his searing modernity, Sir Ian did not feel it necessary to turn down a knighthood. To this reader, the words 'Knight Bachelor' sounds like a name one could just as well give to a breed of potatoes as to a breed of men. One is almost tempted to ask Sir Terry Leahy, the celebrated grocer and educationalist, for two pounds of Jersey Royals and a pound of Knight Bachelors.
The image of Sir Ian getting medieval on The Shadwell Massive on a trusty steed like a knight of old, lance drawn, mace in hand and bearing an orange napkin like a lady's favour, is perhaps more likely to happen in the movies of Terry Gilliam than in any part of modern London. One can only wonder just why such a modern thinking man as Sir Ian Blair would ever be tempted to have anyone address him as 'Sir Ian'. Who could ever want such a thing?

The English Yeoman Action Doll

If some clever manufacturer of childrens' toys wishes to clean up this Christmas, they should consider marketing a male action figure dressed in three piece suit and bowler hat with a string at the back which, when pulled, makes the doll say 'It's a cock up, not a conspiracy'.

Whoever Thought That Rich People...

have ever been interested in free speech? Dating back at least to the days when Herbert Spencer helped America's robber barons sleep a little better at night by telling them that the indignities they heaped on their fellow men were merely the consequence of 'the survival of the fittest', the world's wealthiest people have held the sincere, if mistaken, belief that what liberty really means is their liberty to oppress their neighbour; and any attempt to restrict that, is, well, the road to serfdom.
It should never be thought that all of the world's wealthiest are against regulation; for some, the English libel laws provide an outstanding example of good regulation in action. Such peoples' attitude to liberty is not unlike their attitude to consumer goods; there's never enough around for me, just enough for you to make you think you're prosperous.

If You Tell People That Stuff Is The Most Important Thing In Life...

you shouldn't be surprised when they try anything they can to get it.
If some enterprising charity were to set up a soup kitchen in Knightsbridge dispensing feta cheese and avocado compote with a prune juice drizzle, they'd be queuing four deep round the block.

Not Quite Man Bites Dog, But...

Monday, November 09, 2009

Why Celebrate?

All that happened was that one illegitimacy was replaced with another.
Indeed, what do we have to celebrate? We are less free now than we were then. Instead of having to experience the tyranny of communism, we have had the tyranny of capitalism instead. In their own way, each is equally unattractive.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

'Maintain Humanity Under 500,000,000 In Perpetual Balance With Nature'

The first words on The Georgia Guidestones.

Story of their construction here, video here.

No Public Funding Of Abortions In The US

At least until the next time. You never know; while abortion is always unsafe, particularly for the ritual's sacrificial victim, Congress might even one day get round to making it as rare as it is legal.

Remembrance Sunday

Given that it is a populist celebration of British militarism, it will be interesting to see how long this festival endures in post-Lisbon Europe.
And British politicians will be as eager as their European counterparts to see the back of it. All wars are the result of political failure, and Afghanistan is no exception - and nobody likes to be reminded that they're a failure.
It would be better for the festival if there were no political involvement in at all, indeed, if politicians did not wear the poppy; if for no other reason than that it strikes me as being a bit sick to say 'I honour your sacrifice' when you're giving the order to fight.

The New World Order

Should any 'new world order' ever arise, it will be guaranteed to satisfy three very basic criteria. The thinking behind it will not be new. It will not be run in a worldly manner. And it will most certainly not be orderly.
Megalomaniacs share certain profound characteristics with cookers and washing machines; the new ones always tend to be like the old ones, always doing the same things with no perceptible improvement in performance.

Some Thoughts On The Life And Career Of T. S. Eliot

I am not overly familiar with Eliot's work; and recent book reviews suggesting that his life was tragically marred by having to go out to, you know, work in order to pay for his first wife's medical treatment are unlikely to give me the urge to rectify this gap in my knowledge anytime soon.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Those Who Suggest The War In Afghanistan Is Necessary...

It would mean missing the hunting season and lauds at the Brompton Oratory; but we must all make sacrifices from time to time. After all, there's a war on.
Catholics, particularly high profile Catholic convert Establishment figures, who preach the necessity of unnecessary wars haven't quite got the point of Catholicism. Discuss.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Look What The Cat's Dragged In

If the quality of the thought processes on display here is anything to go by, that would be the dog's dinner.
David Frum, Zombiecon, rises once again to terrorise the neighbourhood.

The Deregulation Of Morality

Be careful for what you wish for, in case you get it.
The writer of that article rather misses the point. None of Britain's leaders, from whatever political party you might care to name, want Britain to be Britain, a place where City gents go to work in bowler hats and Mother stays at home to bake for the WI and listen to 'Woman's Hour'. They want to rule a chaotic, badly governed and distrustful country like India, if only because it's easier for them to employ the ancient strategy of divide et impera and extend their rule for as long as possible. Oh, of course, they want the bits of Britishness that they like, such as the honours and the ermine; but the idea that British rulers have ever been in favour of that oleaginous moral morass commonly known as British values is far, far wide of the mark.

Trans At The Tron


Good to see that the organisers of the Glasgay! festival are pushing the cultural envelope by putting on a show about Our Lord being a trans-sexual. Such bravery! So witty!
The cultural envelope must be so worn by now that it's only fit for lining the catbasket.
Yet while this has generated much understandable outrage, it should not be forgotten that the organisers of such events tend to be obsessed as much with their own organs as with organising blasphemy and moral anarchy. Do they think that if they stop contemplating the relevant portion, even for a moment, it'll somehow mysteriously fall off? They really should stop this guff and develop a taste for the high camp involved in playing bingo; one could hardly think of a demographic who could be more delighted to hear the command, 'Eyes Down'...

The Right To Reject

Being unwritten, the British constitution contains no equivalent of 'We, The People'; however, our status as a nation of shopkeepers has meant that folk wisdom such as 'Keep your receipts' might as well enjoy constitutional force.
It is gratifying to see that the Law Commissions have come out against the European Union's plan to abolish the right to reject faulty goods. The only reason for celebrating such a law would be that it might help end the product vigilantism of self-appointed 'consumer champions' such as the Botox-rictussed Anne Robinson, whose televised hectorings of providers of goods and services, scenes which would not be out of place at a Chinese state show trial, have too often been emulated by her viewers when taking out their unjustified frustrations on innocent call-centre operators; who in turn are gagging to tell their interlocutors that if they were too dumb to read the terms and conditions of service, they shouldn't have bought the whizzbang geegaw in the first place.
An unfortunate consequence of consumer journalism, itself often little more than the consequence of disappointed materialism, has been the introduction into our laws of the concept of elasticity of contract, meaning that while consumers are very aware of their rights they often have no concept of their duties; and having their name mentioned on TV is often enough for a supplier of goods and services to withdraw their own contractual rights far too easily.
However, the abolition of the consumer's rights of rejection and return would be a neoliberal step too far, with the public being told that they must take what they're given and be happy with it. One could almost think one was living in an illegitimate totalitarian power bloc where goods were rationed, and you don't have the right to complain.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Random Acts Of Papistry

Ah, what trials a new Church must undergo when faced with the world's snares!
On the very day of the United Kingdom's annual state-sponsored orgy of anti-Catholic bigotry, it is gratifying to see that the Italians, hopefully loudly and with arms flailing in gestures of hopeless braggadocio, have told the EU to get stuffitissimo as far as its direction to take the crucifix out of schools is concerned. Quite why a group of technocrats who would soil themselves at the thought of the harm that being accused of anti-Semitism would do to their careers should take it upon themselves to ban the crucifix from a public space where it seems to be wanted is beyond me; if they wish the 'European flag' to be worshipped, they should quickly realise that there is much chance of that happening in one of the Union's most Catholic countries as there is of its people worshipping washers or Polo mints.
Over the course of the next few days, the British media will carry many stories of children having been killed and maimed at anti-Catholic bonfires. The irony in this situation is inescapable; year in, year out, the celebration of a violent Catholic plot's defeat results in far more death, injury and violence being done to people, often to the most innocent and vulnerable of all, than that plot was ever able to inflict. When will we learn?

Wongaplonk

Delighted to see Simon Mann, Equatorial Guinea's very own Abdelbaset al-Megrahi (every country should have one), escaping the consequences of his own avarice. Hopefully the wonga plotting plonker will squeal to the rozzers like the good and loyal little milk monitor that he's been trained to be all his life, and that thereafter his fellows will be taken to the housemaster's study for a sound thrashing.
The British class system, which teaches those at its top that the rest of humanity and all its works exist for no purpose other than to enrich them - you gotta love it.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The National Banco Deluxe Royal Lloyds Of Halifax

While you might not agree with the law and consider the lawmaker to be illegitimate, the news that the British banking system, a network which should properly be operating under the name 'The National Banco Deluxe Royal Lloyds of Halifax', is in the process of being compelled to do something according to what somebody, somewhere perceives to be the law, rather than according to some airy-fairy ideology about light touch regulation, is good news. We could do with some more.
Let's hear it for golden shares empowering ministers to summarily dissolve any bank that fails to provide any pensioner with a penny less of interest on their savings than what is due to them, and to have the power to do this without compensation. After all, they're not normal businesses, so there's no reason why their share capitals should be organised normally.
Let's hear it for a significant strengthening of the UK's weak and unsatisfactory laws on the disqualification of company directors. Let's hear it for mandatory 10 year jail sentences, and both mandatory tagging and mandatory disqualification for life, for every director of every bank that fails in the future. After all, they're not normal businesses, so there's no reason why their directors should be accountable only under normal criminal laws.
Let's hear it for mandatory unionisation at every major bank, with shop stewards being able to close down trading with a text message saying 'Everybody out!' After all, they're not normal businesses, so there's no reason why they should enjoy the proclaimed benefits of a flexible labour market.
Finally, let's hear at least one prominent public figure proclaim that the banking system is founded on the sin of usury, that it's inherently disgusting and wrong and, like all sin, does nothing but pollute the characters of those who engage in it. After all, they're not normal businesses; so there's absolutely no reason why they should be afforded respectability.

Tory Charlatanry

The degree of contempt that these individuals appear to have for the British people seems boundless.
While regretting the idea that politics must exist among fallen humans, I, for one, am not one of those who consciously condemn political U-Turns out of hand as being evidence of a universal lack of good faith among politicians (there are no doubt thousands of examples of me doing just that in the public domain, but that's how I feel this morning). Entering politics is not unlike pursuing a vocation in public sanitation; it's a dirty job, but someone has to do it or the place would quickly become uninhabitable.
In the UK, far too many agencies hold unaccountable power, which they wield with an unbending, almost Satanic, arrogance. Journalists such as John Humphrys and Jeremy Paxman, people who have never been elected to anything of consequence, seem to feel that their positions afford them the right to barrack the peoples' elected representatives so insolently that it now must be asked whether such 'fearless questioning' has done more to undermine trust in politicians than any scandal (when you're in control of the 'off' switch on your interviewee's mic, dictate for how long they can be heard and hold the ultimate power of deciding what part of their words the public will actually hear, it doesn't seem so fearless after all). Commentary along the lines that 'they're all on the take' is nothing but the verbal flatulence of the saloon-bar, almost always rooted in deep historical ignorance.
Yet if the Tories were to U-Turn on holding a referendum on Lisbon, the degree of torque it would generate would not undermine trust in mere politicians, but trust in politics itself. One would hate to live in a country where everything is political, as the Soviet Union was; by the same token, one would hate to live in a country where nothing is political. In this regard, one can do little better than quote an anonymous commenter at Laban Tall's, giving those who bray for a reduction in the size of government some necessary food for thought - "Its... instructive to note all those white middle class vocal libertarians jostling in the queues at Heathrow for the next flight to Sierra Leone or Somalia, given that the state has ceased to exist in those places." Indeed. Government does have its uses after all.
However, if we must have politics then they must be consistent. The only consistency shown by successive British governments in policy regarding the European Union has been that the people cannot be trusted. This was going to be different. Now it's the same old same old. This is worse for the people than knowing that their MP built a duck house and charged it to the public purse. That can at least be excused as being the result of something on a long list of usual suspects, headed up by arrogance and greed. But a U-Turn such as that believed to be under consideration by David Cameron would be worse than inexcusable; it would be inexplicable. The marzipan that's been spread across this very bitter tart is that if the Czechs ratify, it'll be law anyway. That's guff. That's like saying that it's better to try to negotiate with a Great White Shark with his teeth in your legs to ensure that he doesn't eat your arms, rather than not to have gone shark-fishing in a dinghy in the first place. Either Parliament is sovereign in this realm, or it is not. Either the laws of the United Kingdom are paramount, or they are not. If they are not, one can understand just why some people become resentful of paying taxes when what they are paying for is a charade of democracy in which the participants are actively hoping that as many as possible of those upon whom they depend for their own and their families' livelihoods don't bother coming out to vote, preferring to watch 'Montel' or the racing from Newmarket instead.
If this is what David Cameron (where are his books, his articles, his vision?) thinks of us, I am at least grateful to him for reminding me why my vote for the Conservatives remains under indefinite suspension.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Going Back To The Days Of Nero

First we had The Dawk dawking about The Blessed Sacrament being a cannibal feast, now we've got the cosmically frivolous Marina Hyde writing that "...you're saying that by some magic the communion wafer actually becomes the flesh of a man who died 2,000 years ago, a man who – and I don't want to put words into your mouth here – we might categorise as an imaginary friend who can hear the things you're thinking in your head? And when you've done that, do you mind going over the birth control stuff?"
I wouldn't go so far as describing this lady's employment as a serious journalist being a reflection on how far standards in the media have dropped (although others would; would love to know how long that sentence is going to stay on the page); although perhaps it's equally uncharitable, one does have some sympathy for folks named after vehicle storage spaces. I mean, would you ever call your wean 'Garage' or 'Hangar'? No, of course not; to do so would be absurd, almost beyond belief.
Both The Dawk and The Boatyard seem to love describing Catholicism in language appropriate to the days of Nero; what neither of these two Clevers actually get is that while they think they are attacking the institution called 'The Catholic Church' (Boo! Hiss! Papishes! Jesuits! Red hats under the beds!), what they do when they attack its most sacred practices is attack its adherents' faith.
Given that many Christians were not intimidated into abandoning their faith even when Nero was ordering that wild animals would feast upon their living flesh, or that lighted pitch be smeared upon their crucified bodies so that they could provide some much-needed streetlighting (one way of keeping down the utility bills, I suppose), it is highly unlikely that many believers will be swayed by the jabberings of Dawkins & Hyde, and all the other folks who've drunk the Kool-Aid and think we're here because the sky fell in one day.
It should never be doubted that God has a sense of humour; but as much as they might not care to admit it, atheists like Ms. Hyde might even be doing His work for Him - by letting the rest of us in on the joke.

The Imposition Of Capitalism

Janet Daley is completely incorrect when she writes that capitalism cannot be imposed from above. If were incapable of being imposed from above, the phrase 'The Washington Consensus' would not now be spat out in many parts of the world like a curse.
How did that one work again? Yeah, you'll only get international aid if you denude yourselves of the means of paying it back. Wonderful.

Chinese Terrorism

Is this sort of terrorism ever condemned by the Chinese government?

And if not, wouldn't it be nice if it were?

The Purging Of Nutt

Unlike some others, I tend to be sceptical of Alan Johnson.
For the former General Secretary of the Communication Workers' Union to join not just any government but a Labour government committed to enforcing a flexible labour market, and then to compound that error by remaining largely mute when one is being imposed on those he used to lead, could make one question what his career as a trade unionist was actually devoted to achieving; a better deal for his members, or the foreman's job.
Yet he was absolutely correct to purge David Nutt. Nutt seems to be achieving a kind of martyrdom which gives a whole new meaning to the expression 'getting stoned', when what he seemed to be doing was interfering in policy-making. That was never part of the deal - advisers advise, the people, through their politicians, decide; or at least that certainly used to be the case.
If Nutt is suggesting technocracy, we would live in a world where everybody had an iPhone and nobody would know how to fix a leaking toilet. Technocracies tend to be hellish, a fact which Nutt, having now left government to spend more time with his Bunsen burners, will now be able to reflect on at his leisure.

There's No Such Thing As A Free Lunch...

Or breakfast, or dinner, if you're a British soldier, it would seem. This particular piece of blue-sky thinking might be straight from outside the box - but making the chaps who are trying to stop the Taliban from eating our lunch buy their own is a bit mean-spirited.
I suppose it's just another footsoldier in that legion of anecdotes about how badly you start to think, and how even more badly you start to behave, when you give more consideration to the purity of economic theory than to the needs of human beings.