Friday, 29 June 2012

Choice; Guardian-style

It may not be very clear, but this is taken from the Graun article 'Smoking ban five years on'. As you can see, they're interested to know what their readers think, and are offering this question: Are current laws regulating smoking enough?

Most likely, this yes-no question captures the entirety of opinion among the jackboot-lickers who hang around that festering sore. Among the comments, which I don't recommend, one from a certain Rigsby, hits the nail on the head:

"Very few people more sanctimonious than a guardian reading non-smoker..."

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Lew Rockwell interviews Marc Morano of Climate Depot

A great episode of the Lew Rockwell show:

Marc Morano talks to Lew about all the eco scares designed to wreck human civilization.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Meanwhile the government moves ahead with assault on internet freedom

Back in the dying days of the last government, in the 'wash-up', i.e., in the last session before the general election, there was an incident which sent up a flare that the Tories had no intention of making good on any of that civil liberties stuff they were happy to mouth while out of power. They voted through the Digital Economy Act.

They could have killed it as easy as crushing a snail under the heel of a hobnail boot, but they didn't. Why didn't they?

Because the Tory Party are scum, who hate our freedom. How can anyone with a conscience support this rank, despicable government?

Here we go again: reports of British troops inside Syria

From Debkafile:

"Unconfirmed first reports from British, French and Turkish sources say British special operations forces crossed from Turkey into northern Syria Tuesday, May 26, and advanced up to 10 kilometers inside the country. The same sources report heavy fighting around the Presidential Guards compound on the outskirts of Damascus."

A furnished mind

Lord of all hopefulness, Lord of all joy,
whose trust, ever childlike, no cares could destroy,
be there at our waking, and give us, we pray,
your bliss in our hearts, Lord, at the break of the day.

Lord of all eagerness, Lord of all faith,
whose strong hands were skilled at the plane and the lathe,
be there at our labours, and give us, we pray,
your strength in our hearts, Lord, at the noon of the day.

Lord of all kindliness, Lord of all grace,
your hands swift to welcome, your arms to embrace,
be there at our homing, and give us, we pray,
your love in our hearts, Lord, at the eve of the day.

Lord of all gentleness, Lord of all calm,
whose voice is contentment, whose presence is balm,
be there at our sleeping, and give us, we pray,
your peace in our hearts, Lord, at the end of the day.

Shut up. Be happy.

Here's Claire Fox of the Institute of Ideas, speaking last year (passed me by at the time) casting a critical eye over the government's superficially silly, but actually rather sinister happiness agenda. Happily (!) the gov has gone a bit quiet on this one, although no doubt the policy wonks are still beavering away with their plans to put Soma in the water supply.

Part two here.

Monday, 25 June 2012

The bureaucrat and the business man ...

Ernest Benn; capitalist, smoker, all-round good egg

"The bureaucrat and the business man are from two separate worlds. The former works behind the force of Law: it is not his business to consider his customer, he has merely to issue the form and follow it up with a summons. The latter lives by the favour of his customer and, if he would succeed, every moment of his waking hours must be devoted to the study of better ways of serving and thus winning further favour.

The two worlds are as poles apart, and the inhabitant of one can be nothing but a nuisance in the other. The bureaucrat works by force, he imposes his pleasure upon his victim, he enjoys security firmly founded upon the might of the State, and the ultimate, logical end of all he stands for is slavery and war. The business man goes bankrupt unless he can win the favour of a public free to accept or refuse his proffered service, the logical consequences of his activities being plenty and peace."

Ernest Benn - 'Happier Days' (1949) p 96

Subversive education

Educational progressives will wail and gnash their teeth. The clip below may mess up their long-fermented plans to reduce the nation's youth to the condition of 'noble' savages.

Hat tip: Radical Rodent

Political BS from Danny Alexander

Oh yeah, if those immoral tax-dodgers didn't minimise their bills, the rest of us could have a tax cut. That back-of-fag-packet calculation notwithstanding, we all know that would not happen.

Danny Alexander is merely attempting to distract us from the huge amount his state coerces out of us. The government cannot live within its means. If they were able to shake us down an additional amount to cover the difference between current revenue and current expenditure, i.e., enabling a 'balanced budget', they would take the opportunity to borrow a whole lot more and spunk that away.

What these turd politicians like Alexander are not prepared to do is look unto themselves, and simplify the absurdly weighty tax code. Can he explain why the UK tax code is six times as long as its German equivalent?

I suspect what we are seeing with all this celebrity tax dodge stuff is a softening-up campaign to prepare the way for a new law stating, in effect, that the Inland Revenue will be the sole arbiter of what or isn't tax evasion, in other words some kind of 'enabling act' for the taxman, of the type called for by that collectivist nincompoop Richard Murphy.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Syria versus the West, and that downed plane

Now, listen carefully children: those nasty, wicked Syrians have done another terrible thing. They've shot down a Turkish warplane which was totally innocently minding its own business. The Syrians claim it violated their airspace, which the Turks admit, but that changes nothing!

The important thing is to focus on the real story: the outrage of shooting down a warplane, just because it happens to stray accidentally into your airspace. It's immaterial that the Turkish government is allowing its territory to be used for training Al Qaeda death squads and funneling weapons to anti-government militias, or that Turkey's main Nato allies are drooling at the prospect of raining death down on Syria in support of their Sunni extremist chums in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf, which is most likely making the Syrian air defence somewhat jittery. Forget all that.

Just remember: it's all Syria's fault.


When Greece last played Germany

Murderous Vapours

Into my heart an air that kills
From yon far country blows:
What are those blue remembered hills,
What spires, what farms are those?

That is the land of lost content,
I see it shining plain,
The happy highways where I went
And cannot come again.

A.E. Housman

There is little pleasure to be had watching 'Question Time' or listening to the radio equivalent 'Any Questions'. Not only must one hear the same old tired clichés from the exchangeable party clones, but one must confront the reality that a large proportion of the public, especially of the politically-engaged public, are fools.

Occasionally they allow Peter Hitchens on, and it becomes watchable, although the two problems mentioned above remain. During his last appearance, we were forced to put up with one of those awful Labour women. I will not trouble myself to check her name but I will note that early in the programme she paraded herself as the product of a one-parent, council estate upbringing, but neglected to mention that her father was married to her mother for the first seven years of her life and a very highly-placed UN official and Cambridge professor, so she's hardly the average denizen of the underclass. In the clip below she gained my ire for her strawman attack on 'learning the names of the kings and queens of England'. (Also you will hear Greg Dyke saying what I criticised below).

Examining her words, no one is saying that learning the names of the kings and queens of England is 'the most important thing'. So, to say this, it is a strawman. However, she asserts that history is important for us to know 'why we are where we are'. Sure enough, it is not essential to be able to recite the list from William I to Elizabeth II, but it doesn't harm you to do so, and it gives a foundation upon which more comprehensive knowledge can be built. It's like hammering in a row of pegs, upon which you can hang the knowledge, that would otherwise remain in a non-descript pile.

If my education consisted only of what I had learned at school, I'd be ignorant indeed, and I can't think of any poem which I was taught (although I can tell you which prepositions take the accusative and which take the dative in German, thanks to Herr Alsop), but my reason for writing is in defence of learning by heart, or as it is put by 'progressives' 'learning by rote', a phrase fashioned, I suppose, to sound unpleasant and oppressive.

These 'progressives' are not consistent. If they were, surely they would attack that most fundamental thing learned 'by rote'; the alphabet. What nonsense, they should say, this alphabet! Why is J before K? Why is T after S? Why should we chain down these young minds to such a system? Let them be free to make up their own alphabet, let them put the letters in whatever order they choose, and invent new letters and sounds! Burn the old books! We shall have new books, better books!

Why do the 'progressives' not attack the alphabet? Because if they did so, if they were for once consistent, they would expose themselves and their poisonous ideology to even the most dull-witted, as ludicrously, monstrously wrong.

The great utility of the alphabet cannot be denied, notwithstanding the fact that no one knows, at least I know not, why J comes before K and T after S. The 'progressives' attack learning by heart because they don't want educated people, they want slaves, incapable of thinking for themselves, and wholly deracinated. The 'progressives' not want people to learn what previous generations learned, because if they did, they may understand concepts like independence, and standing on one's own two feet, and then they wouldn't be the knock-kneed cowards, forever holding out a begging bowl to the loving government.

The human mind has incredible capacity. The more one learns, the more one is capable of learning, or this is how it seems to me. There may be some ultimate limit, but I have not reached it, and feel sure I could live one hundred years and be no closer.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Let the experts decide

Watching the latest episode of 'Peter Hitchens versus The Idiocracy', the subject of state education came up, and Greg Dyke brought out and dusted off the one about 'taking it out of the hands of the politicians' and 'letting the experts decide'. This argument has a superficial attraction, based mostly on the people's disdain for their politicians, but if you scrape off this thin veneer, the argument loses its appeal.

Under democracy, individual power is collectivised. No longer does each person decide for himself, everyone must pool their decision-making resources. When this leads to undesired consequences, the correct response is to hand that power back to the individual, not to keep it all gathered up together and pass it over to a group of so-called experts.

Who, does anyone think, are these experts? They are in fact cut from the same cloth as the politicians, but without the need to appeal to the people. In the back of the politician's mind, he knows he can be kicked out if the people don't like him. The expert is not plagued by any such worry, and lacking this accountability, he also lacks the restraint which comes from it.

Democracy is flawed, as was always accepted. When the franchise was being extended in the 19th century, the process was driven by people who believed it to be the right thing to do, but who also recognised the necessity of educating the people of their responsibilities under democracy, similar to their responsibilities as members of a jury, so that they would know what it could do and what it should not attempt to do. The risk of the masses being swayed by demagogues and jacobins was clearly seen.

What has happened is that democracy has overflown its limits, and inundated places which it never should have reached. Prior to the coming of democracy, the struggle for liberty was always aimed at curtailing and limiting the power of the state. Once democracy arrived, too many people thought that there was no longer a need to limit the state 'now that it is our hands'. To the contrary, government must be limited whether it is under a monarchy, oligarchy or especially a democracy.

Around about now, someone will pipe up something about brain surgery, as a defence of expertise. Certainly there is such a thing, and it is most welcome in a host of areas, such as, indeed, brain surgery and civil engineering. Expertise is the product of the division of labour, which encourages us to focus on that which we are best at. If we want something done well, then naturally we should seek out the most talented - the experts. However, once we move away from the realm of the natural sciences, the experts are apt to disagree, and in any case, as free individuals we retain sovereignty over ourselves, no matter what the experts say.

The central issue is not that education is in the hands of politicians, but rather that it is under the control of the state. If this must be the case, then it is far better that it remains a political football, because at least we can observe the game, as it is wrestled from one end of the pitch to the other. The real answer to the problems of state education, as I have said before, is the state. Take away that bureaucracy and let a thousand flowers bloom.

Update: here's Hitchens' take-down of Emily Thornberry, following her outburst in the show.

How to tell when the government has grown too large

As any libertarian will tell you, government is way too big. The only thing we disagree about is whether the ideal situation would involve culling 90%, 95%, 98% or 100% of what now exists under that banner.

What minarchist and anarchist will unite upon is that the government issuing pamphlets telling parents not to discuss dieting in front of the children, for fear of having a negative effect on the child's "body image" is an outrage, which would be halted in the first 24 hours of a libertarian coup.

Hasn't the Home Office got better things to do, like maybe catching some of those foreign rapists it has failed to deport?

Friday, 22 June 2012

Labour goes after anti-immigrant vote, but not convincingly

Ed Mil’s statement on immigration, heralded as some kind of admission of mistakes when the party was under previous leadership (i.e., somebody else’s fault), deserves little attention. There is no apology in his words, nor should we expect or give respect to any one that was forthcoming. The truth of the matter has long been known, that Labour purposefully embarked on a policy of mass immigration, intent on socially engineering the population and obtaining political advantage. The propaganda spin that the government was ‘wrongly advised’ on the numbers is a stinking and cowardly lie.

Additionally, let us look at his proposals to deal with the problem his party helped create. As a true Big Gov authoritarian, the answer is new laws for the rest of us and new shackles on business. Moreover, the ostensible ‘apology’ is quickly turned round into an attack on capitalism:

He said: "Labour has to change its approach to immigration but you cannot answer people's concerns on immigration unless you change the way your economy works.”

So, there you have it. The problem: government. The solution: more government!

Finally, casually inserted down the article we see the driving force behind Ed’s change of heart:

“Polling recently published by Policy Exchange shows that a Labour shift on immigration and welfare would be the single most important issues to win back Labour swing voters.”

Just stop

In so many of the currents in the stream of debate, the libertarian must fold his arms and shake his head. It is often difficult to get the pro liberty argument across - at least not where it matters. This is partly because the stock position of the liberty-lover, with regards to what should be done? (by the government?, or, as they euphemise, what should we do about it?), is; do nothing, and what you are doing, stop.

Probably more than ninety percent of the problems we, as a nation or as a body politic, face are either; caused directly by the government or indirectly by the government, or by independent forces, but are nevertheless made worse by government intervention.

If inflation had affected feet and inches the way its affected pounds, shillings and pence ...

Between 1931 and now, I would have 'grown' to be 1,500 feet tall ...

which is up to the top of the antennae on the John Hancock Center, in Chicago
(which is twice the height of Canary Wharf in London).

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Round 8,568 of the Education Debate

You know the one. We've been having it ever since the dawn of state control over the schools. On one side the 'traditionalists'. On the other the 'progressives;. The former believe in Latin and the cane. The latter want five-year-olds to explore their own sexuality and report their parents for failing to recycle. Meanwhile, away from the sound and fury, the 'progressives' have been running the system all along.

Turning to Fiona Millar's contribution from the gruesome Grauniad, we find, after the obligatory attack on Gove, this:
There has always been a compelling argument that education policy should be the preserve of political parties. Education is a big political issue – it goes to the heart of what sort of society and young people we create. But even I now reluctantly wonder whether big questions such as this one, the answers to which will have such a deep and permanent impact on the lives of so many people, should be made in this sort of haste, without proper debate and consultation, or to further the ambitions of individual politicians. Better to seek some sort of cross-party collaboration or even take the issue out of the hands of politicians and give it to an objective body that can review the evidence away from the day-to-day political maelstrom.
Here we see the collectivist, authoritarian mind peeping out from behind the layers of self-delusory 'liberalism'. Firstly, she offers nothing to back up the assertion that there be 'a compelling argument that education should be the preserve of political parties'. Such an argument would rest on certain presuppositions which I would challenge. Those presuppositions shine through the phrase 'what sort of society and young people WE create' - that's 'WE' in the Yevgeny Zamyatin sense of the word. The authoritarian social controller 'WE', to whom the idea that each of us should be free and independent to follow our own plans and principles is utterly alien.

Millar looks at the system we have, sees it's not working and reluctantly comes to the conclusion that the part which must be removed is the political part, the democratic part. She's obviously happy with a powerful state dictating to everyone and running the schools from Whitehall, but, given that democracy occasionally throws a spanner in the works, far better to put it in the hands of an 'objective body' out of sight, mind and influence of the people over whom it is to rule, and, if I may be so bold as to suggest the bleeding obvious, wholly made up of people who think - to whatever extent that verb is applicable - just like her.

I'm white and therefore evil

Here's some bollocks, as if we haven't got enough already:

Utter shite. I am not playing such silly games. I am not going to be ashamed of the colour of my skin. So, Unfair Campaign, take all your hand-wringing anti-white racism and self-hate and suppositise it.

Now they've gone, have a little ponder on the actual message. It says that it is a privilege you are not immediately treated with suspicion and fear, and that it is therefore 'unfair' (no doubt also ungood).

The problem will be solved when our society totally fractures and breaks apart, as we will all be in the same sewer. Also, consider these messages: white people hate black people and always will. Don't trust whitey! White people: you are racists and nothing you can say or do will change it. You should hate yourselves. Black people: There's nothing you can do to be accepted or to fit in, so you might as well make no effort to do so.

Jimmy Carr: gutless, hypocritical tosser

I was going to defend him ... and then I read his craven "I've made a tewibble ewor of judgement", explaining how he has now pulled out of a totally legal (as far as I know) tax-avoidance scheme, because of a little astro-turf outrage from collectivist drones, so fuck that.

Paying tax is not a moral obligation. It is a legal obligation. People pay tax because if they don't they will be pursued by the government and forced to pay. If, for some strange reason, you like paying taxes or are happy to pay taxes, bully for you, but don't delude yourself that you have a free choice in the matter.

Not only does paying tax earn you no moral capital, it could well be something of a moral abdication, given what the state does with so much of it.

Assisting suicide should remain a crime

I don't have a TV, so I only pick up second hand on the 'big things' occurring on the idiot box. Thus I gather that there has been a bit of a heart-string-puller, calling for the law to be changed to allow for those who kill people who want to die to be given a free pass.

I say not. If someone truly believes that it is the moral thing to do to kill someone they love, then let them do so, there is no prior restraint. But once it is done, they will be held accountable, and should be brought in front of a jury.

I don't think there is much appetite to punish such crimes, certainly not to the full measure or anything close that is allowed by law, and juries need to bear in mind that they are free to find someone not guilty, even when they think that he is. And after that you're only facing our wishy-washy judiciary, so you will have a fair chance of getting away with it, if it seems like a genuine mercy killing.

That is as good as it should get. No one should be given a licence to kill, and I am not at all sure that someone can consent to their own death, in strictly legal terms. Leaving the law as it stands leaves the weight where it ought to be - prohibiting the taking of a human life. As such, only those wholly convinced of the rectitude of taking such a serious step will proceed. Changing the law, in any case, will not remove the necessity of investigating such events.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Doctors kill more people than smoking

From the Daily Mail:
NHS doctors are prematurely ending the lives of thousands of elderly hospital patients because they are difficult to manage or to free up beds, a senior consultant claimed yesterday.
The figure given is 130,000 every year, which comes in way above the usual stat given for smoking-related deaths, 100,000, and the number 130,000 is only the intentional deaths. Once you add in the errors and the negligence, you're going to need to recalibrate the graph.

Via a comment at Pat Nurse's, I see the miserable anti-smoker zealots are using the occasion of great-grandmother Violet Phillips 101st birthday to denounce her for smoking, after she attributed her long life to the antiseptic qualities of tobacco smoke.
Last night British Lung Foundation Scots chief Dr James Cant said: “Violet’s story is extraordinary as very few smokers live to such an old age.”

But he added: “The best birthday present she could give us is to finally quit the habit.”

I suggest not only the fags but also keeping away from the murderous quacks has played a part. Remember, these are the people who protected the most prolific mass-murderer in British history, Dr Harold Shipman.

Harold Shipman: hero to the twisted misanthropes of the NHS

I shall be pointing this out the next time some tax-payer-funded lobbyist from the Department of Puritanism and Control starts lecturing me on matters in which he has no legitimate interest.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

He's talking about Britain's exit from the Gold Standard

"To this day sterling's reputation has not recovered from the blow it unwillingly received under the policy adopted in September 1931. And this policy became a "pattern" not only for the British but for many other Treasury chiefs. At first, the damage was moderated by a general understanding that a banker's bankruptcy is "excusable" when his debtors leave him in the lurch. Excusable or not, the result was a violent shock not only to the prestige of England but to the reputation of the whole privately managed system of international finance based on gold.

The downfall of the gold standard became the wellspring of an intentional legend which might be described as the "Keynesian trap." It has become a dogma that it was the 1925 return to sterling's pre-1914 parity that necessitated the subsequent devaluation, if not the Great Depression, altogether. As far as this writer is aware, no one has made any attempt to demonstrate the logical or causal "mechanism" which could connect the abandonment of the gold standard in 1931 with the return to gold in 1925 other than that the one followed the other after a six and a half years' interval!-post hoc ergo propter hoc. Since the burden of proof should rest on proponents of this thesis, a few questions may be pertinent.

1) Would the choice in 1925 of a lower parity to gold, or of no parity at all, have strengthened the British balance of payments beyond providing "monetary" reliefl49 Suffice it to recall that by, or before, the end of 1926 British prices were generally adjusted to theAmerican level.

2) By what mysterious interplay of forces did sterling's return to the old parity bring about a world-wide crisis? How did it promote or provoke the domestic overindebtedness in the United States and the excessive capital flow to Germany-or the illiquidity of German banks and the overproduction of prime commodities? Patently, the purpose of the "Keynesian trap" is to divert attention from the errors, mischiefs, misjudgments, and maladjustments, both public and private; which accumulated and were compounded during the seventeen-year period beginning with the inflationary financing of the war and the world-wide disruptions it brought about.

3) If a chief obstacle to restoring a "healthy" British trade balance was the obstructionism of organized labor, as has been pointed out, how would this obstacle have been removed by returning to a sterling of a lower parity, or of none at all?

Sterling's departure from gold was greeted with sarcasm by Britain's enemies and with enthusiasm by a broad sector of the AngloAmerican economic "intelligentsia." Keynes, who at the moment, oddly enough, was opposed to devaluation, became the hero of the day. Had he not opposed the return to gold in 1925, almost singlehandedly? He was vindicated; the event demonstrating, allegedly, that a postwar gold standard was doomed from the outset. In reality, nothing of. the sort had been established."

Melchior Palyi: 'The Twilight of Gold'. pg 272

Maggie on form

Hmm, very interesting interview with Maggie. I can't embed, so check out the link. It seems to be prior to the 1987 election. The only draw-back in a fine performance from hers truly is the wingeing and whining Scottish interviewer.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

A brief snippet of Rothbard

You might know this ...

Jackie Mittoo - 'Ghetto Organ'


Homo Australis

If you don't like the below, you may like this.

Merry Clayton - 'Southern Man'

Enter at your own risk

Spacemen 3 - 'Losing touch with my mind'

More dusty learning

Wilhelm von Humboldt, The Sphere and Duties of Government (The Limits of State Action) (1854 ed.) [1792]

of the individual man, and the highest ends of his existence.

The true end of Man, or that which is prescribed by the eternal and immutable dictates of reason, and not suggested by vague and transient desires, is the highest and most harmonious development of his powers to a complete and consistent whole.

Freedom is the grand and indispensable condition which the possibility of such a development presupposes; but there is besides another essential,—intimately connected with freedom, it is true,—a variety of situations. Even the most free and self-reliant of men is thwarted and hindered in his development by uniformity of position. But as it is evident, on the one hand, that such a diversity is a constant result of freedom, and on the other, that there is a species of oppression which, without imposing restrictions on man himself, gives a peculiar impress of its own to surrounding circumstances; these two conditions, of freedom and variety of situation, may be regarded, in a certain sense, as one and the same. Still, it may contribute to perspicuity to point out the distinction between them.

“Germany’s greatest philosopher of freedom.” - Friedrich Hayek

Every human being, then, can act with but one force at the same time: or rather, our whole nature disposes us at any given time to some single form of spontaneous activity. It would therefore seem to follow from this, that man is inevitably destined to a partial cultivation, since he only enfeebles his energies by directing them to a multiplicity of objects. But we see the fallacy of such a conclusion when we reflect, that man has it in his power to avoid this one-sideness, by striving to unite the separate faculties of his nature, often singly exercised; by bringing into spontaneous co-operation, at each period of his life, the gleams of activity about to expire, and those which the future alone will kindle into living effulgence; and endeavouring to increase and diversify the powers with which he works, by harmoniously combining them, instead of looking for a mere variety of objects for their separate exercise. That which is effected, in the case of the individual, by the union of the past and future with the present, is produced in society by the mutual co-operation of its different single members; for, in all the stages of his existence, each individual can exhibit but one of those perfections only, which represent the possible features of human character. It is through such social union, therefore, as is based on the internal wants and capacities of its members, that each is enabled to participate in the rich collective resources of all the others. The experience of all, even the rudest, nations, furnishes us an example of a union thus formative of individual character, in the union of the sexes.

Pick up the cadence!

An interesting speech by a veteran of the Marines, Eugene Sledge:

Blurb from YouTube posting:
Lecture by Eugene Sledge presented at the Ludwig von Mises Institute's "The Costs of War" seminar, the first full-scale war revisionism conference in the post-Cold War epoch. Recorded at the Mises Institute, Auburn, Alabama, May 1994. This seminar was the first anti-war conference from a libertarian (i.e., "right wing") perspective in the post-Cold War era, and set in motion the new and broad-based anti-war movement.

Eugene Bondurant Sledge was a Corporal in the United States Marine Corp during World War II in the Pacific theater, a university professor, and author. His 1981 memoir "With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa" was, in part, the basis for Ken Burn's PBS documentary on World War II. Mr. Sledge passed away on March 3, 2001 at the age of 77.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Miscellaneous Interest

Firstly the writer Albert Camus talks about his stage adaptation of Dostoyevsky's "The Possessed", (also known as "The Devils" and "Demons"), in 1959, a year before his death in an automobile accident. Interviewer: Pierre Dumayet:

Secondly Bertrand Russell explaining how smoking once saved his life:

Peter Hitchens: ensnared in the Burkean Knot

Last week I had the pleasure of journalist, writer etc. Peter Hitchens stopping by to hale me across the precipitous gorge which threads between conservative Hatfield and libertarian McCoy.

Unfortunately I fear some other passing flaneur of the bloggevards determined him to push off before I had a chance to test his parry. Crunching further through metaphorical gears, I arrive at my appraisal of his predicament: He is caught in a Burkean knot.

Unable to wriggle backwards or forwards, either way would lead to escape, but instead he remains forever captured in the moment of reaction to revolution, throwing out the baby of natural liberty with the undoubtedly filthy Jacobin bathwater, seeking comfort from institutions made virtuous by their long continuance, and rejecting the pursuit of any lofty principle found outside the compass of Archbishop Cranmer's church.

But back yonder calls him a blind Samson:

If every action which is good, or evill in man at ripe years, were to be under pittance, and prescription, and compulsion, what were vertue but a name, what praise could be then due to well-doing, what gramercy to be sober, just or continent? many there be that complain of divin Providence for suffering Adam to transgresse, foolish tongues! when God gave him reason, he gave him freedom to choose, for reason is but choosing; he had bin else a meer artificiall Adam, such an Adam as he is in the motions. ['in the motions' i.e., in a puppet show]

We our selves esteem not of that obedience, or love, or gift, which is of force: God therefore left him free, set before him a provoking object, ever almost in his eyes herein consisted his merit, herein the right of his reward, the praise of his abstinence. Wherefore did he creat passions within us, pleasures round about us, but that these rightly temper'd are the very ingredients of vertu?

They are not skilfull considerers of human things, who imagin to remove sin by removing the matter of sin; for, besides that it is a huge heap increasing under the very act of diminishing, though some part of it may for a time be withdrawn from some persons, it cannot from all, in such a universall thing as books are; and when this is done, yet the sin remains entire. Though ye take from a covetous man all his treasure, he has yet one jewell left, ye cannot bereave him of his covetousnesse.

Banish all objects of lust, shut up all youth into the severest discipline that can be exercis'd in any hermitage, ye cannot make them chaste, that came not thither so: such great care and wisdom is requir'd to the right managing of this point. Suppose we could expell sin by this means; look how much we thus expell of sin, so much we expell of vertue: for the matter of them both is the same; remove that, and ye remove them both alike.

John Milton: 'Aeropagitica'.
Forwards beckons a helping hand of Victorian Liberal Virtue, first with a swipe at the socialists, then a definition of the citizen - i.e., Milton's free individual strained through the experience of 200 years :
There is, again, a theory in economics and politics directly the opposite of our own, cutting at the root of our most obvious principles ; and it is growing daily. It involves an attack upon personal production, personal accumulation, and consequent personal possession : a theory which makes the individual and all the individual virtues of small account, and desires to emphasise rather the vague qualities of a State.
It would dissolve thrift, and self-control, and the personal honour which keeps a contract sacred, and replace them by a State reserve, by State control, and by a State system, releasing men from the burden of private rectitude. It is a theory which is absolutely certain to find stronger and stronger support as our economic system develops, unless it is met by an unflinching adherence to those older political principles which have strength left in them to shape the economic system itself. Though it will be dealt with later in this essay, it is worthy of consideration for a moment in these introductory sentences, because it forms so admirable an example of those clear hypotheses that frequently succeed in transforming the politics of a nation.

But though this clause is common to all definitions of Liberalism, there is another idea upon which it is dependent.

Don't laugh - it's Hilaire Belloc

There ran through the Liberal projects a corresponding definition of the citizen as a political unit. And it was a definition of what should be much more than of what was an ideal far more than an assertion of existing fact. But every attempt to make the actual citizen approach more nearly to that ideal, every attempt which might make his material and, above all, his moral conditions suited to such a development, every political movement which was likely to produce that ideal by the mere fact of presupposing it, was befriended and ultimately adopted by the Liberal party.

The citizen whom they saw as the best possible foundation upon which a free State could rest was one whose economic and political independence was not, indeed, irresponsible. He was to be answerable, but answerable not to individual men so much as to the general conditions of the nation around him. He was to be an individual possessor and producer of wealth. He was to exercise that faculty of self-restraint which is, even in the narrow field of mere economic science, the basis of all accumulation and of all sufficient material happiness. He was, again, to be so self-respecting a member of a society which depended upon his consent (and which only demanded his obedience on condition that he helped to frame the law), that he might be counted upon not to give his vote upon a general issue for purposes lower than those of the common good.

Hilaire Belloc: 'The Liberal Tradition', from 'Essays in Liberalism' (1897)
The answer to the Jacobins is not to be found in Burke, who is only a make-do in disaster, but rather in the pure and moral natural rights of Milton or else the idealistic scepticism (or do I mean 'sceptical idealism'?) of Liberal Victoriana.

Not the latest from the education debate

"If men will grant for a moment, and for the sake of argument, that, as some insist, our compulsory rate-supported system of education is wrong; that it is injurious to the domestic life of the poor; that it reduces the teacher to the position of an automaton; that it provides a quality of teaching utterly unsuited to the wants of a labouring population which certainly requires some form of technical training; that, here, it is brought face to face with its own incompetence, for some of the highest practical authorities declare that the technical education given in schools is a farce; that therefore it bars the way to all free arrangements between parents and employers, and to the only system of technical education which deserves the name; if this or even a part of it is true, if at best our educational system is a make-shift not altogether intolerable, how terrible are the difficulties to be overcome before we can retrace our steps and foster into vigorous life a new system, whose early beginnings have been repressed and strangled by the overgrowth of Government monopoly.

Those who still have an open mind should consider carefully this aspect of the question. Each addition to the responsibility of the State adds to the list of ill-contrived solutions of difficulty, and to the enlargement of the sphere of a stereotyped regimentation of human life. Inseparable from this obnoxious growth is the repression of private experiment and of the energy and inventiveness of human character. Instead thereof human character is degraded to a parasitic dependence on the assistance of the State, which after all proves to be but a broken reed."

Thomas Mackay, writing in the introduction to 'A Plea For Liberty' (1891), a collection of essays fighting the fallacies of the Fabians.

Croesus The Wise

I like this old story, summarised very well I believe by Andreas Kluth here:

It starts thus:

Part 1 - Croesus the happy

In the sixth century BCE there was a king named Croesus in Lydia (today’s Turkey). He was so rich that we still today say “rich as Croesus”. But he always wanted confirmation from others that he was indeed the richest, the most successful, the happiest man alive. Why would he need confirmation? One wonders. But people always do.

As it happened, Solon, the man who had given the Athenians their laws and who was the wisest man in Greece at the time, came for a visit. This was exactly the sort of man Croesus wanted to impress.

I paraphrase (the text is here):

Croesus: ‘Welcome Solon. You’re the wisest man in Greece. I’ve heard so much about you. Please take a tour of my palace and look at all the gold and silver, the women and slaves and fruit, and all my splendor. Isn’t it wonderful? Tell me: who is the happiest man in the world?’

Solon: ‘Tellus of Athens, sire.”

Croesus: [Blank look. Silence.] ‘Sorry, but… Who?’


Read on if you care to.

Chuggerazis Strike Back

The Faced versus The Po-Faced:
"The ‘Sock Puppets’ report, released today by the IEA, shows a complete lack understanding of civil society and the importance of campaigning and advocacy within the democratic and policy making process, or its importance for a strong and independent sector.
What "Independent"? Paid for by the state is not independent.
Yes, there has been an increase of state funding within the sector as charities deliver more public services. This is not unique to us. There has been a trend towards non-state delivery of public services under successive governments, including outsourcing to the private sector.
This is irrelevant to the case in point - tax-payers getting shafted, charities getting the reach-around, spending our confiscated loot to lobby their government pay-masters for laws and regulations on everyone else and hand-outs for themselves.
Charities receiving public money are independent and not for profit, and have responsibility to their cause and beneficiaries; who ultimately funds the service - be it public, voluntary or trust funded - is largely irrelevant as long as they are delivering their social aim.
They are not independent. They are funded by the government, and much of their work would not exist if the government didn't pay them to do it. Poverty pimps should face the public, not suck up to the state.

Not-for-profit is not a virtue. There is no moral vantage to be reached from abjuring and rejecting profit, that being nothing but the obligation on every shop-keeper and house-holder to pay his bills, and the good common sense to gather a little more, God willing.

It is a shame that there is an absence of thought-provoking debate about the role charities could play in public service delivery to get under the skin of the more difficult social problems."

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Those evil Victorian values

'Watson, we're off to Paris, so remember to bring your revolver'

"A handicap, which we have placed upon youth by expunging the lat remnants of a liberty which took centuries to evolve and which we once knew, is no small part of the charge which justice will lay at the door of the passing generation. Those of us who have passed middle life owe it as a duty to the rest to go on boring them with stories of the world as we knew it. Some day those stories will be remembered, and their value realised. Most young people are totally unaware that the Victorians moved about the world without any form of let or hindrance. Such a thing as a passport was unknown for practical purposes until the war. Travellers in Russia and stranger lands sometimes furnished themselves with a passport - a parchment sheet issues by the Foreign Office on the application of a banker - but even when secured very few of these documents were ever found to be necessary or useful. We walked from ship to quay, or from quay to ship in any port of the world without a question from anybody. No doubt the was on most of the landing stages a police agent on the look out for known criminals, criminals who under a passport system now appear to be the only persons who really succeed in moving freely from country to country.

Modern youth is incapable of understanding the moral indignation and the sense of degradation which afflicts us older people, bred in liberty , as we find ourselves queueing up to pass the iron grid at Dover, and entering even our own country with all the outward appearance of criminals entering gaol."

Sir Ernest J. P Benn - 'Honest Doubt' (1932)

Tagging: Accessory to Murder

‘They can do anything that they want because the law won’t do anything. The police do their job – they take them in – but they just have to let them go.’

So says the mother of murdered Steven Grisales, responding to reports that the youth who stabbed her son to death for nothing did so after the bureaucrats and rule-writers of the so-called justice system had done everything in their power to ensure that the violent criminal was free to kill. They refused to punish him for robbery or burglary or any of a catalogue of offences, so now they are forced, at least for a little while, to finally do something.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Schiff on the Hill

The YouTube blurb:

Does Washington have the American taxpayers' interests as their top priority? Watch as lobbyists drown out your voice and Peter fights the tide.

Go to to order my new book, "The Real Crash: America's Coming Bankruptcy---How to Save Yourself and Your Country"

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Farage and Livingstone on Euro

Hat tip: UKK41

Cos I like it

Cometh The Hour, Cometh The Body

Now that Rand Paul has gone over the the dark side, and Dr Ron has been kidnapped by neo-cons, it's time to bring out the big guns. This guy can't even spell the word 'compromise'.

Jesse Ventura For President 2012

Meanwhile, back at the Paul campaign ...

Temperance Taliban Chief predicts massive violence

As reported in the Telegraph:
Eric Appleby, chief executive of Alcohol Concern, said: "We think there is a big battle ahead."
As those with even a passing familiarity with the English language will know, a 'battle' is a violent clash between opposing forces, usually involving death, destruction, severed limbs and all manner of horror.

No doubt Appleby's apologists will claim he was only 'speaking metaphorically'. Yeah.

Only last week, the leader of another puritan sect described the movement in terms of a holy war, and in the article quoted above yet another called for 'extreme measures'.

Surely it's only a matter of time before these puritan jihadis put aside the rhetoric and the metaphors and revert to their older ways.

Comply or die. How puritans act when they get into power.

If the Victorians could see us now

Over at the Graun, there's an article about the crisis we face over body image:
... the women who make up the world's only Centre for Appearance Research (Car) are talking quietly about perfection. I arrived here after following a trail of newspaper reports – on the effect of airbrushing in the media, on men's growing anxiety about their weight – reports used variously by politicians and educators to highlight the way our world is collapsing...
The world may indeed be collapsing, (see Syria, Spain etc. for details) and it may be connected indirectly with the way supposed adults see themselves when they look in the mirror. I guess this is what happens when you breed a nation of perpetual adolescents, never taught to take care of themselves or responsibility for themselves, never permitted to bear the consequences of their mistakes, brought up to believe there will always be a government daddy figure to wipe the tears away, to give them housing, to educate their kids, to take away their elderly relatives for quiet euthanasia, etc. etc.

I have recently been reading a fair bit from Sir Ernest Benn (see below), and have been constantly struck with the similarities between the predicament of this country and the world in the 1930s and 1940s and the present time. In 1933 he wrote about 'This Soft Age'. What scorn he would have for us now.

Vox Unpopuli

"If it is suggested that Capitalism to be satisfactory must honour the bill for any stupidity which any parliament cares to devise, find the money at the moment when it is required, and still be able to prosper and provide the maximum standard of comfort for everyone, then some credence might be attached, but even then very little, to the outrageous theory of the failure of Capitalism.

Considered from the other and saner point of view, it becomes apparent that the triumphs and successes of Capitalism are immeasurably greater than is commonly supposed. The imagination boggles at the thought of the wealth and the comfort which might now be available for all if the money squandered by irresponsible and incompetent agents of the State had been left, like the smaller sums of half a century ago, to fructify in the pockets of the people."

Sir Ernest J. P. Benn - 'Honest Doubt' (1932)

For my more refined readers


Meanwhile in Nato's liberated Libya

... liberated of its gold, its oil wealth, its foreign investments etc.

From WSWS, Jean Shaoul reports:

"Libya’s ruling National Transitional Council (NTC) has postponed elections scheduled for June 19 amid continuing militia clashes, kidnappings and arrests. The elections are unlikely to be held before mid-July at the earliest.

On Wednesday, the US Consulate in Benghazi came under bomb and grenade attack, although no one was injured. It was reportedly in retaliation for the killing of Libyan-born cleric Abu Yahya al-Libi by a US drone strike in Pakistan hours before.

Earlier in the week, a brigade of al-Afwiya militiamen briefly took over the capital’s international airport in Tripoli and grounded all flights to pressure the NTC to release their leader, Abu Ajila al-Habshi.

The al-Afwiya is only one of more than 500 “rebel” armed outfits that fought Gaddafi’s forces. During the NATO war, they seized different parts of Libya and its vital and most lucrative infrastructure and funds and set up checkpoints along the major highways. Many of these rival gangs have yet to disband or be integrated into the national army, itself little more than another militia. There have been constant reports of fighting between these armed groups as they carve up Libya’s towns and cities into “zones of influence.”

The continuation of these conflicts exposes as a lie the justification for the NATO-led war for regime-change—that it would bring democracy and human rights. Rather than “liberation”, the country faces violent break-up and civil war."

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Houla Massacre: what the BBC isn't reporting

From National Review

It was, in the words of U.N. special envoy Kofi Annan, the “tipping point” in the Syria conflict: a savage massacre of over 90 people, predominantly women and children, for which the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad was immediately blamed by virtually the entirety of the Western media. Within days of the first reports of the Houla massacre, the U.S., France, Great Britain, Germany, and several other Western countries announced that they were expelling Syria’s ambassadors in protest.

But according to a new report in Germany’s leading daily, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), the Houla massacre was in fact committed by anti-Assad Sunni militants, and the bulk of the victims were member of the Alawi and Shia minorities, which have been largely supportive of Assad. For its account of the massacre, the report cites opponents of Assad, who, however, declined to have their names appear in print out of fear of reprisals from armed opposition groups.

... Read the article


I see the BBC's blockade of the truth may be crumbling. Here's Peter Hitchens writing in the Mail on Sunday:

The truth seeps out of Syria

I have been contacted by a group of Western women who live in Syria and who believe that most of what the world is being told about that country is false...

... Read on

Pocket Psychology

Joseph Chamberlain to John Morley:

"You have two faults," he once said, "you are sensitive and you are reserved. It was wrong to think that I meant anything amiss, and if you thought so, it was wrong not to have it out."

"Let me tell you something," I answered. "A man's weak points are usually parts of his strong ones, if he is lucky enough to have any. Sensitive-ness is an element or counterpart of sympathy, and a gift of sympathy either in a public man or anybody else is a tower of strength. Reserve, again, is an element in pride, and pride of the right sort is a tower of strength too. There's a dose of pocket psychology, of which I make you a present."

From John Morley's Recollections (vol 1)

Looking for something else

I found this.

The truth hurts


Can Ron Paul Be Tamed? by Justin Raimondo
Please address hate mail to
Invest here to support ADAM VS THE MAN!

Hitchens attacks strawman libertarian, quotes Marx

"... And on another occasion when he uttered some sentiment which was greeted with applause and saw that the whole assembly had accepted his argument, he turned to his friends and asked them, 'Can it be that I have been arguing on the wrong side without knowing it?"
From Plutarch's Life of Phocion (chapter 8)
I don't know why the above came to mind. There is no immediate similarity between Phocion and Peter Hitchens. The former was a great Athenian general who always sought peace and disliked democracy, who was scape-goated and executed by the mob following a military failure, and then, with a change of heart the mob executed his accusers and put up a statue to him. The latter, you know ...

After setting out a worthy critique of democracy, or rather the idealisation of it, he briefly turns attention to one of his pet hates: libertarians, or as he would put it, 'libertarians'. I shall quote it in full, as it is brief.
Next, a word on why I always put ‘libertarian’ in inverted commas. Most thinking humans, in our post-Christian world , yearn for a universal touchstone of goodness which will somehow substitute for the Christian faith. For some it is the market, for some it is ‘liberty’, for others it is equality. It is easily demonstrable that the market sometimes, even often, lays waste valuable things, destroys customs and taboos, tosses aside human feelings. It is obvious to the slowest thinker that ( as Karl Marx pointed out) the freedom of all is impossible, as it will lead to conflicts between groups who wish to be free to do something which tramples on the freedom of another. ‘No man fights freedom’, wrote the sage of Trier, ’He fights at most the freedom of others’. Well, exactly. The trouble with these ideas is that they simply lack the universal power over all humanity of the Sermon on the Mount and the Commandments, and that they are based on a desire for power, rather than on Christianity’s preference for love, and its central suspicion of power and the mob, as so graphically set out in the story of the Passion. And sometimes I think a little light mockery is the best way to make people think. After all, one day they may realise that it is possible they are mistaken.
It seems almost rude to interrupt Hitchens' reverie. He's not really talking about libertarianism, but rather his own faith in God, in comparison to which everything, be it football, French cuisine or political philosophy is but filthy rags. But libertarianism can only by criticised in this manner insofar as it seeks to substitute itself for faith in God, which it does not do, and besides anything else, faith in God is not the end of every dispute concerning the organisation of society, the economy and the size of the state. It certainly provides one with a set of guiding moral principles, but these principles will lead different people to very different conclusions, as they have done throughout the last 2,000 years.

If I accept Hitchens' term 'our post-Christian world', I must object that libertarianism is not an invention of such an era, but rather has its roots very much in the earlier, happier times of universal Christian brotherhood(!) - and the same could be said for communism.

I would not struggle to illustrate this point, but will throw out the names of Locke, Lilburne and Lord Acton and dare him to dispute it. But Hitchens passes over such names and choses for his supporting authority none other than Karl Marx, a man who didn't so much disbelieve as despise our Lord and Saviour! And what wisdom does he glean from this tainted source? That;
"the freedom of all is impossible, as it will lead to conflicts between groups who wish to be free to do something which tramples on the freedom of another."
Does Hitchens imagine that this apparent paradox has been left unexamined? Is his knowledge of libertarianism so cursory that he believes we can be so easily confounded? Thus, Peter, I'll see your Marx, and raise you two Spencers:
"Every man may claim the fullest liberty to exercise his faculties compatible with the possession of like liberties by every other man."

"Each has freedom to do all that he wills provided that he infringes not the equal freedom of any other."

Herbert Spencer; Social Statics
This above is referred to as the 'Law of Equal Liberty', and it can be found in many different forms throughout the libertarian canon, clearly indicating that, for liberty to indeed be a universally-applicable ethic, it cannot involve infringing upon another's freedom. To choose but one other source, and of a more Christian persuasion, here Richard Overton states the same thing:
"For every one, as he is himself, so he has a self-propriety, else could he not be himself; and of this no second may presume to deprive any of without manifest violation and affront to the very principles of nature and of the rules of equity and justice between man and man. Mine and thine cannot be, except this be. No man has power over my rights and liberties, and I over no man's."
This foolish criticism of Hitchens is the only criticism he offers, and sadly it escapes him how these here principles of liberty form the strongest bulwark against the inherent flaws in democracy that he has only just expounded upon, because it is these principles which put a limit on state power, whether the state be governed by democracy or king.

Hitchens calls himself a conservative, but such a term is somewhat vague, as political terms often are. If we consider the key tenets of his philosophy to be a rejection of liberty, a dislike of democracy, and a strident and noisy faith in God, it strikes me that the most apt and fitting label to pin on the man is Cromwellian. Thus, as he ends his piece hoping that we libertarians may see the error of our ways, may I beseech you, Mr Hitchens, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible that you may be mistaken!

Friday, 8 June 2012

Rand, who's your favourite founding father?

I'm guessing this fella.

A black day for the liberty movement. Talk about snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. As the man below put it:

“A good politician is quite as unthinkable as an honest burglar.”

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Wisdom from the ombibulous Mr Mencken

What with our latter-day prohibitionists marching up and down and blowing their trumpets, finding ever more things that need banning, restricting and de-normalising, and their new campaign to claim victimhood, I sought relief from debating them with a few quotes from H.L. Mencken, who knew a thing or two about prohibition and its vile champions:

Yikes! What's that in his mouth? Another photo they will need to censor

"Puritanism - The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy."

“The real victim of moral legislation is always the honest, law-abiding, well-meaning citizen—what the late William Graham Summer called the Forgotten Man. Prohibition makes it impossible for him to take a harmless drink, cheaply and in a decent manner. In the same way the Harrison Act puts heavy burdens upon the physician who has need of prescribing narcotic drugs for a patient, honestly and for good ends. But the drunkard still gets all the alcohol that he can hold, and the drug addict is still full of morphine and cocaine."

"Five years of Prohibition have had, at least, this one benign effect: they have completely disposed of all the favorite arguments of the Prohibitionists. None of the great boons and usufructs that were to follow the passage of the Eighteenth Amendment has come to pass. There is not less drunkenness in the Republic, but more. There is not less crime, but more. There is not less insanity, but more. The cost of government is not smaller, but vastly greater. Respect for law has not increased, but diminished."

"A prohibitionist is the sort of man one couldn't care to drink with, even if he drank."

"The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule."