Tuesday, 30 November 2010

The professionals

Who could possibly have been behind the car bombings in Iran targeting nuclear scientists? What a fucking mystery.

By the way; Happy Chanukah!

Wikileaks: a pinch of salt required

Wikileaks has done some great work to put into the public domain a huge amount of information that the governments of the world would rather keep secret. I greet the various pronouncements of outrage from politicians with schadenfreude.

Nevertheless, we should not allow ourselves to be manipulated. There are many competing agendas within the murky world of diplomats and spooks. If a few renowned political figures get egg on their face, so what? As Bastiat noted, there is what is seen and what is unseen, and the latter is here more important.

L. Fletcher Prouty talked about the Pentagon Papers, and how it was presented and interpreted quite at variance to the reality. He said you had to have worked in intelligence to understand how compartmentalised everything is, and how, like an onion, there are many layers.

Vale indeed

A comment at Nourishing Obscurity in a post titled 'Vale Leslie Nielsen' sent me looking for traces of 'Forbidden Planet', hence above.

The straw man of Nuremburg

Whilst searching for an image to illustrate a post on straw men, I came across this fellow, a straw man of another kind. The origin of the picture was a 16th century book known as 'The Nuremburg Chronicle' or else 'Schedel's World History' after the author. I recommend a tour of this interesting site, which is full of amazing illustrations, such as 'headless man', 'umbrella foot' which I know I've seen before, maps (or what passed for thereof), Biblical scenes and much more.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Why be libertarian?

"....It is our view that a flourishing libertarian movement, a lifelong dedication to liberty, can only be grounded on a passion for justice. Here must be the mainspring of our drive, the armor that will sustain us in all the storms ahead: not the search for a quick buck, the playing of intellectual games, or the cool calculation of general economic gains. And to have a passion for justice one must have a theory of what justice and injustice are--in short, a set of ethical principles of justice and injustice which cannot be provided by utilitarian economics. It is because we see the world reeking with injustices piled one on another to the very heavens that we are impelled to do all that we can to seek a world in which these and other injustices will be eradicated. Other traditional radical goals--such as the *abolition of poverty"--are, in contrast to this one, truly Utopian; for man, simply by exerting his will, cannot abolish poverty. Poverty can only be abolished through the operation of certain economic factors--notably the investment of savings in capital--which can only operate by transforming nature over a long period of time. In short, man's will is here severely limited by the workings of--to use an old-fashioned but still valid term--natural law. But injustices are deeds that are inflicted by one set of men on another; they are precisely the actions of men, and hence they and their elimination are subject to man's instantaneous will."

Taken from the Editorial - Left and Right "Why be libertarian" Volume 2, Number 3; Autumn 1966.

From the archive at Mises.org

The Enemy State continued: now health foods are terrorism

Hat tip to Goodnight Vienna for posting this up. The agenda Hannan draws attention to is global. It is a prime example of how the New World Order is consolidating power. It clearly illustrates how corporations use the power of the state to prevent competition.

The State: enemy of the family

"Last week I listened for an hour to a sobbing mother describing how she recently lost the six-year-old daughter who is the centre of her life. Her fatal mistake was to ask social workers for advice when she was being troubled by "harassment" from the child's father, from whom she parted some years ago. Within days, although it was never suggested that she had harmed her daughter in any way, she found herself facing a "case conference" of 20 people at the local council offices, the conclusion of which was that her child must be placed in foster care.

The solicitor she was given by the social workers refused to oppose the care order. At a "contact" session, when she and her bewildered daughter emotionally expressed their love for each other, the interview was halted. She has not been allowed to see her child again."

Bloody do-gooders

"The humanitarian wishes to be a prime mover in the lives of others. He cannot admit either the divine or the natural order, by which men have the power to help themselves. The humanitarian puts himself in the place of God.

But he is confronted by two awkward facts; first, that the competent do not need his assistance; and second, that the majority of people. . . positively do not want to be 'done good' by the humanitarian. . . . Of course, what the humanitarian actually proposes is that he shall do what he thinks is good for everybody. It is at this point that the humanitarian sets up the guillotine."

Isabel Paterson - The God of the Machine (quote seen here)

Learn something of Isabel Paterson's life from this Mises Institute podcast by Jeff Riggenbach.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Smoking kills at least 100,000,000,000,000,000 every year if not every day

More harmful than the dreaded anal-probe

Smoking is even worse than we thought, according to new research, and not just on planet Earth.

For some years now, astronomers have been peering into deep space, trying to locate planets outside our solar system around other stars, research that leads the curious to that most mysterious of questions: is there life on other planets?

Given the unfathomable depths of space, many would say it's inevitable that somewhere out there is life. And where there's life, there's risk. Just as on Earth a selfish and enslaved minority threaten the majority by releasing noxious tobacco fumes, the chances are that elsewhere in the universe aliens are prey to the same misfortune.

Or at least that's the starting point for researchers at the East Anglia-based Tobacco Institute for Temperance and Science. "Everyone's heard about an infinite number of monkeys, right?" explained spokesman Martin Troutman, "well, we figure with an infinite number of planets, there's probably an infinite number of smokers out there too, and each one of them is posing a serious risk to non-smokers, of whatever species."

"When you think about the harm on that scale, the mind boggles. All the more reason to push on with making planet Earth smoke-free." But it's not all hard science at the Institute. They recently released launched a computer game, as a promotional tool - Alien Smoker, a shoot-em-up pitting players against hordes of smoking aliens, who must be destroyed. "It's great fun", commented Troutman, "I like the chainsaw best".

Roach Motel Economics

Peter Schiff speaking on 17th November, 2010.

Hat tip: The Cobden Centre

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

... and for good measure

For Godfrey. Nirvana - In Bloom

The moral maze: 'libertarian paternalism' up for debate

I've just listened to Radio 4's 'Moral Maze' which discusses the book 'Nudge' and the way the state has taken up the idea. I was nudged (har har) towards the programme by Chris Snowdon of 'Velvet Glove, Iron Fist', who appears in it, standing up against the resident arch control-freak. James Delingpole* does good work and, a little surprisingly, Michael Portillo makes a lot of sense.

Listen here for the next week. (Not sure if it works outside the UK).

Godfrey, I know what you're trying to say, but...

Godfrey Bloom got himself kicked out of the European 'Parliament' for making Nazi allusions about Schulz, the (German) head of the Socialist bloc, and calling him an 'undemocratic fascist'.

Even to an arch anti-federast like me, this just seems dumb. At this point in time, the Ukipers should be guarding their precious powder, not letting off fireworks.

The only defence (other than it's the truth) is that Schutz is just as bad, which is a playground defence really. A player can get sent off for fouling, and it's not relevant if the player he fouled had fouled and got away with it earlier, and Bloom would better serve the team by staying on the pitch.

The Euro 'Parliament' is essentially a joke, that much is true, and it's not easy participating in it when you don't accept it has a mandate to do anything. Nevertheless, there is an argument in favour of sticking around to mess things up and be a nuisance, but you've still got to try to do it in a way that makes them look bad, and not yourself.


The descent of America into fascist tyranny continues, as illustrated in the arrests of activists and journalists covering a protest at Fort Benning, the base of the notorious 'School of the Americas' (now re-branded).

This shows a complete disregard for the Bill of Rights in not only the police officers, but also in the judge who fined the protestors and journalists, none of whom did anything in the least violent, or that warranted arrest, exemplified in the arrest of a ninety-year-old priest. Also, in the raw video on the link below, they are clearly using 'pain compliance' which is effectively torture - although nothing on the scale of what is taught within the School of the Americas, or has been perpetrated by its graduates.

Hat tip: Infowars

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

EU Federast strawmen: an occasional series

A certain Jonathan Jones writing in CiF:
If you want to know why Europeans belong in a single community, visit any one of Britain's great medieval cathedrals. Walk in the cloisters at Gloucester or pay homage to William of Sens, the Norman architect of Canterbury. Or just tap the stones of this masterpiece – they come from Caen, France.

The modern dream of European political union is entering its darkest days. Eurosceptics say they are vindicated, and are realists – but nothing is less real than the illusion that any European nation, least of all ours, can lay claim to some inward-turned, singular story outside the larger narrative of the continent. For at least 1,000 years, Europe has been building a common culture.

If this is the best the Federasts can come up with, they really are in trouble. Who's 'laying claim to some inward-turned, singular story'? The very idea is of course ridiculous. But then, no one's making the claim. It is a strawman of such flimsiness, it could be blown over by an asthmatic mouse.

The question has never been about whether there is a shared history between the people of these islands and the continent of Europe, it is whether we want to abolish our system of government and law and hand over power to the institutions of the EU. That those institutions are corrupt, venal, run by failed politicians, ex-Maoists and sundry control-freaks, who have no intention of permitting democracy or allowing themselves to be held to account does not help the Federasts' case.

It is such a weak argument, I almost pity the man who makes it. Even given the non-controversy, he fluffs his lines. "For at least 1,000 years, Europe has been building a common culture". Hasn't this poltroon ever heard of the Roman Empire? And then there's this: "any European nation, least of all ours..." Quite the opposite, in fact. If anyone was making such a claim, which they're not, it would be easier to make for us than, say, Belgium, so the 'least of all ours' line doesn't make sense.

As ever, the Federasts cannot make a reasoned argument in favour the EU, so try to co-opt the past, to fabricate an aura of manifest destiny for their squalid utopian fantasy, but this cannot mask the reality. If History teaches us anything, it is that we don't need Brussels and never did.

Really showing my age

My cromagnon music taste

The song below has been rattling around the back of my mind for some time, and Michelle Phillips cuts a fine figure, or at least did back in the day.

The Mamas and the Papas - Look through my window

The Mamas and the Papas - Go where you wanna go

Monday, 22 November 2010

Ireland, the Euro and the real problem

Dan Hannan raised an interesting point last week; why doesn't Ireland adopt Sterling rather than the Euro? It would most likely be better for them than the Euro. Unfortunately, it would be politically unacceptable, for historical reasons, but it reminds me that the real problem is not the Euro or the Pound, but rather the global monetary system we have had since the destruction of the Gold Standard.

Back in the 19th Century until 1914 we had a world currency, gold, and it worked as well as any system could be expected to work, fostering international trade and prosperity. It was destroyed not because it didn't work, but because it did, enforcing discipline and honesty, and in 1914 the governments of Europe, particularly the British government, didn't want discipline and honesty, they wanted war, and not just a little war, the biggest war there'd ever been, and they didn't have the money to pay for it, and slaughtering the best part of a generation of men is quite expensive. So, what do you do when you don't have money but you need money? If you're a government, you steal it, and that's what they did, by destroying the Gold Standard, and we're still living with the consequences.

The choice we face today is the same as the choice the world faced in 1914: a world of peace, prosperity and freedom, or a world of war, totalitarian states and slavery. If we act like sheep, we will end like sheep.

MOD: the disgrace and the shame continues

The civil servants of the Ministry of Defence will be clinking glasses and toasting victory today, as the Appeal Court has handed down the verdict they wanted, and ruled against nine out of ten cases brought by veterans of the atomic bomb tests conducted in the 1950s.

I can only reiterate my previous comments, that the shameful treatment of these veterans shows very starkly what value the British state places on the lives of servicemen. These hypocrites put on sombre expressions and wear poppies for Remembrance Day, but it's nothing but show.
"Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness."
Matthew 23:27

Come again?

From this Guardian article:
"... The research found that newspapers in countries which have a long tradition of state-sponsored journalism are performing well in the internet age.

Public subsidies have been put forward as a potential business model in the UK, but many newspaper owners are uneasy about accepting government money because they fear it would affect their editorial independence."

And who, pray tell, has put this forward? Someone unable to spot an oxymoron, obviously. In any case, dear Grauniad, you already are publicly subsidised, and when (or rather if) this government ever gets round to cutting back on the Ministry of Paperclips Diversity Champion type jobs, you will be consigned to the recycling bin of history.

You are not my leaders and I am not your citizen

They can't even get through the first sentence without my bile rising.

"We, the leaders of the European Union and the United States, met today in Lisbon to re-affirm our close partnership. Our shared values and political experience and our deep economic interdependence constitute an extraordinary resource. As we both face new challenges, we want our partnership to bring greater prosperity and security to our 800 million citizens on the two sides of the Atlantic."
Trooper Thompson's Response
"You are not my leaders. I am not your citizen. I am a freeborn Englishman. You will not bring greater prosperity, you are parasites that destroy prosperity. You will not bring greater security. You are the greatest threat to our security and our liberty. Your plans are vainglorious hubris. You have learnt nothing from History, and future generations will revile your pride, your greed and your foolish arrogance."
Hat tip: Albion Alliance

Sunday, 21 November 2010

My favourite subject

The Verve - History

Guardian of what?

As I noted in passing below, the Guardian carries a 'CiF' article attacking the outcry against what is being euphemistically called 'enhanced patdown' at airports. The writer, Richard Adams, is taking up the classic fallacious stand-point that because it is the 'right-wing' objecting to it, it must be wrong. The straw-man goes 'if it was Bush doing it, then they wouldn't mind'.

It doesn't take a particularly elevated intellect to see over that position. Certainly, the easy retort is 'if Bush was doing it, you would mind.' But why waste time with playground point-scoring? The answer to that is, I suppose, because we're talking about the Guardian, and there's nothing else on offer.

What Richard Adams and his ilk cannot seem to do is form an opinion without first asking 'who's doing it to whom?' So consequently, since Obama got elected to the Whitehouse, they've had to make a screeching U-turn on pretty much everything Bush was doing. The wars, the bail-outs, the torture, the Patriot Act (renewed by Obama) and of course Guantalamo Bay continue. Adams won't tell you these things are good. He just won't mention them at all, except in the past.

The same tendencies are found on the other side of the sandpit, and to those of us who try to be consistent, it's difficult to avoid a smile to see, in England, the activist left-wing reemerge after sleeping, Rip van Winkel-like for the last 13 years, while Labour butchered our civil liberties. The same thing applies in reverse in America.

Holding a principled position means you do not ask 'what side's doing it?' It doesn't matter. The same rules apply to both sides.

Cut the experts

It may be deja vue, but I'm sure I keep seeing the same news headlines: "Experts warn government cuts will threaten/damage/destroy ... " fill in the blanks with whatever you like. This one shamelessly invokes the murder of Damilola Taylor, which happened ten years ago this week, to send out the message of government callousness. That's right; cut a few public sector paper shufflers and children will die.

Who are all these experts? Can I be one? I'm sure I have expertise in something or other. There's no certificate or anything is there? So, I'll appoint myself. There's only one of me, of course, but if I stand in front of the mirror, there'll be two: and thus:

Experts warn government: 'Don't listen to so-called experts. They're on the fiddle in more ways than one.'

You know the anti-smoking nazis have gone too far...

... when a Guardian columnist is had enough. Good on you, Victoria Coren.
Power corrupts; those who wanted the ban purely because they don't smoke themselves have got high on the victory, and now think it's acceptable to insult smokers openly and extend the veto outdoors for reasons of pure dislike, nothing to do with health.
Oh, and read the comment thread, and marvel and the depths of hatred of the rabid nazis. Learn how smoking within sight of a non-smoker is like masturbating in front of them, how smoking near somebody is like pissing over them, how they worship the state for protecting them from us.

Anti-smokers, you're beyond parody, and you're gonna die the same as us.

UPDATE: phew! This will restore sanity. Another Guardian columnist telling me that objecting to a security agent molesting children is a right-wing plot. Thank heavens the Graun is here to teach us tyranny is good.

I love the EU!

Oh sorry, what I meant to say is 'I FUCKING LOATHE AND DETEST THE EU'. I misspoke, as a politician would say, like when they told us it was a free trade area, with no transfer of sovereignty, or when they said the last treaty was 'a tidying-up exercise'. Or maybe on that occasion I misheard, and what was actually said was that they were tidying up all that was left of our independence into a bin liner and dumping it in a skip.

By the way, the guys above are from the European Gendarmerie Force, who will soon be empowered to come into your home, steal your property, rape your children and shoot you in the head. 'Diplomatic immunity? That'll do nicely'.

Nice badge. Nice motto: 'Lex Paciferat', inspired perhaps by the famous Tacitus quote:
To plunder, to slaughter, to steal, these things they misname empire; and where they make a desert, they call it peace.
He also said:
The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws.

Carassius auratus

Sunny at Leftist Conspiracy is crowing over a poll which is apparently good news for his side, with the public (see above) moving toward Ned's Labour Party. It was all about 'the cuts', and a majority were complaining about 'the cuts'.

I'd like to see those same people quizzed on what 'cuts' they are referring to. I bet they couldn't name anything specific that they're against.


Saturday, 20 November 2010

A quick one from Tom Woods

New World Order: in your face

Never let a crisis go to waste. The ultra-crooked banking mafia are casually announcing the end of national sovereignty. They created the crisis. Now they're posing as the saviours. Somebody slaughtered all the chickens. So it is necessary to improve coop security, and we are appointing Mr Fox.

My, isn't Strauss-Kahn well trained? 'Global governance', 'global governance', over and over, and never once slipping and saying 'global government'.

Fuck you Strauss-Kahn you crooked cuckold. Your New World Order's gonna fail, and all you criminal traitors are going to jail (God willing).

Hat tip: Goodnight Vienna

Kennedy, Ventura and Marr

I watched Jesse Ventura's latest edition of 'Conspiracy Theory' today, which was very good, and as accurate as any documentary I've seen on the Kennedy assassination. It raised some very important points, which the interested can go away and research, such as L. Fletcher Prouty's work, the E. Howard Hunt involvement, the tie to Watergate and to George H.W. Bush, and Lee Harvey Oswald's spooky past. Jesse doesn't have to spend time winning me over, as I'm up to speed on these things, but it's good to boil it down for the American public.

Part 2; Part 3.

Then I notice this piece in the Telegraph; Andrex Marr's advert for his BBC programme, looking into the shady dealings on Kennedy's way to the Whitehouse. Again, I doubt there's much to surprise me. I just wonder what Marr's motive is? He says:

"If you are asking what has gone so wrong with modern politics, Kennedy’s 1960 election campaign is a good place to start."

Maybe so ... but I'm not asking that question, which seems to be a question only a naive person, lacking knowledge of History, would ask. Possibly this describes quite accurately the audience Marr the leftist Beebite is aiming at.

Anyway, there can only ever be one Jack:

The 'Guardian Comment is Free' challenge

The challenge is thus: how far can you get through this Comment is Free article before shouting 'you utter, utter nob!' or words to that effect?

Can you get past the title?
"Who's correct about human nature, the left or the right?"
The subtitle?

"Most conservatives see it as 'common sense' that humans are selfishly competitive – but things looked different pre-capitalism."

I know you're straining now. What about the first paragraph?

When the political right confront the left in debate, the arguments of the former usually boil down to a simple underlying idea: that the left's "grand projects" of social change are incompatible with human nature. Those on the left, in this view, do not understand – or cannot bring themselves to accept – the grim reality in relation to the fundamental determinants of human behaviour. Human beings are essentially selfish, greedy, competitive, individualistic and generally unpleasant. This nature, furthermore, is fixed and immutable.

Gaaahhh! You fucking twat! No more, no more...

Rather conveniently, we happen to live in the kind of social order that is most in tune with our natural inclinations – a capitalist free market economy. In fact, for conservatives, capitalism is not really a discrete "system" at all; it is simply the natural and spontaneous state of things.
That's it. Enough. There may be some acorn of insight further down, but I'm not burrowing into shit to find it.

Maybe I will read on, but only through my own perversity or twisted sense of duty. See if you can do better.

Concerning charity and the state

I find myself posting a lot of quotes at the moment. I figure I might as well use the intellectual resources our civilisation has accrued over the years. Old Holborn is sniping at 'Children in Need', (which apparently took place last night) and what it supports, and this came to mind, which isn't concerned with charity per se, but rather the negation of charity by means of state intervention. However, this latter has not receded in the century since Sumner wrote, quite the contrary.
As soon as A observes something which seems to him to be wrong, from which X is suffering, A talks it over with B, and A and B then propose to get a law passed to remedy the evil and help X. Their law always proposes to determine what C shall do for X or, in the better case, what A, Band C shall do for X. As for A and B, who get a law to make themselves do for X what they are willing to do for him, we have nothing to say except that they might better have done it without any law, 'but what I want to do is to look up C. I want to show you what manner of man he is. I call him the Forgotten Man.
William Graham Sumner 'The Forgotten Man'

Friday, 19 November 2010

Sauce for the gander: part 3

I've always loved card games. I associate them with happy memories from my childhood of family gatherings. I think they are a good means to teach children good manners, not to say maths. They also give an opportunity for them to compete on an equal footing with the grown-ups. I have, over the years, accumulated a modest collection of playing cards from around the globe, but Dick Puddlecote draws my attention to one I will not be attempting to acquire - a crude propaganda tool from the anti-smoking puritans.

Well, two can play at that game. Not that I wish to encourage anyone to smoke. Indeed, I believe the hysterical nature of the anti-smokers is probably counter-productive, by mixing legitimate health issues with authoritarianism and lies.

Food freedom and SWAT teams

Hat tip to Dick Puddlecote. I had been meaning to raise this issue, as I've heard there's a bill going through Congress (S.510) that will dramatically increase the government attacks on food freedom, meaning that making your own jam could now lead to gun-toting goon squads kicking down your door, shooting your dogs and destroying your home. Something is seriously fucked up in America, but with the case of the TSA thinking it can sexually assault air passengers and the public saying 'hell no!' we have to hope that Americans are finally waking up. (Special kudos to Ron Paul for mentioning Chertoff's link to the naked body scanner deal).

Thursday, 18 November 2010

"Always the mischief-maker"

"There is economics and there is economic history. The two must never be confused. All theorems of economics are necessarily valid in every instance in which all the assumptions presupposed are given. Of course, they have no practical significance in situations where these conditions are not present. The theorems referring to indirect exchange are not applicable to conditions where there is no indirect exchange. But this does not impair their validity.

The issue has been obfuscated by the endeavors of governments and powerful pressure groups to disparage economics and to defame the economists. Despots and democratic majorities are drunk with power. They must reluctantly admit that they are subject to the laws of nature. But they reject the very notion of economic law. Are they not the supreme legislators? Don’t they have the power to crush every opponent? No war lord is prone to acknowledge any limits other than those imposed on him by a superior armed force. Servile scribblers are always ready to foster such complacency by expounding the appropriate doctrines. They call their garbled presumptions “historical economics.” In fact, economic history is a long record of government policies that failed because they were designed with a bold disregard for the laws of economics.

It is impossible to understand the history of economic thought if one does not pay attention to the fact that economics as such is a challenge to the conceit of those in power. An economist can never be a favorite of autocrats and demagogues. With them he is always the mischief-maker, and the more they are inwardly convinced that his objections are well founded, the more they hate him."

Ludwig von Mises, Human Action (chapter 2, part 10)

The Irish Times: the penny drops

Hat tip to Witterings From Witney, who flags up this editorial in the Irish Times, from which the quote below is the beginning. Elsewhere in mondo bloggo, I have recently been accused of 'tribalism' for my opposition to the blood-sucking squid of Brussels. As I made clear, I am no tribalist. My position is international in outlook. Patriotism does not equal xenophobia. Loving my country does not make me hate other countries, any more than loving my family makes me hate other people's families, and insofar as I believe in preservation of national sovereignty, I find allies and friends in all the countries of the EU.
IT MAY seem strange to some that The Irish Times would ask whether this is what the men of 1916 died for: a bailout from the German chancellor with a few shillings of sympathy from the British chancellor on the side. There is the shame of it all. Having obtained our political independence from Britain to be the masters of our own affairs, we have now surrendered our sovereignty to the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund. Their representatives ride into Merrion Street today.

Fianna Fáil has sometimes served Ireland very well, sometimes very badly. Even in its worst times, however, it retained some respect for its underlying commitment that the Irish should control their own destinies. It lists among its primary aims the commitment “to maintain the status of Ireland as a sovereign State”. Its founder, Eamon de Valera, in his inaugural address to his new party in 1926, spoke of “the inalienability of national sovereignty” as being fundamental to its beliefs. The Republican Party’s ideals are in tatters now.

Read the whole editorial

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Pour ceux qui comprennent

"Toutes les turpitudes de notre régime, j'en ai toujours trouvé la source dans des interventions de l'État. Les systèmes malthusiens donnent à leurs auteurs toutes les apparences de l'action généreuse, alors qu'ils organisent la misère et la ruine."

Jacques Rueff, économiste français.

Quelques textes ici. Pour ceux qui ne comprennent pas ...

here's one of his books translated into English: The Monetary Sin of the West

Radicals; take heart

The following quote comes from Murray Rothbard's 'Case for a 100 Percent Gold Dollar', the final words of this short work. I bring it to your attention, dear readers, as it has a wide application, encouraging us to stick to our principles, and keep up the fight.
There is no gainsaying the fact that this suggested program will strike most people as impossibly “radical” and “unrealistic”; any suggestion for changing the status quo, no matter how slight, can always be considered by someone as too radical, so that the only thoroughgoing escape from the charge of impracticality is never to advocate any change whatever in existing conditions. But to take this approach is to abandon human reason, and to drift in animal- or plant-like manner with the tide of events.

As Professor Philbrook pointed out in a brilliant article some years ago, we must frame our policy convictions on what we believe the best course to be and then try to convince others of this goal, and not include within our policy conclusions estimates of what other people may find acceptable. For someone must propagate the truth in society, as opposed to what is politically expedient. If scholars and intellectuals fail to do so if they fail to expound their convictions of what they believe the correct course to be, they are abandoning truth, and therefore abandoning their very raison d’être, All hope of social progress would then be gone, for no new ideas would ever be advanced nor effort expended to convince others of their validity.

A little accompaniment

The post below is quite long, so here's a tune to listen to while you scroll down.

Echo & the Bunnymen - Killing Moon.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Vaclav Klaus: Hero of Liberty

I was meaning to do a post on Vaclav Klaus, who has been one of the few voices for liberty in European politics. Earlier today, I posted something on his ODS party colleague Jaroslav Kubera, and now Ian Parker Joseph has brought this speech to my attention, so I will reproduce it in full, as he did, as it's worth reading.

Address of the President of the Czech Republic on the occasion of the Czech National Day, 28 October 2010

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

I welcome you at today’s ceremony commemorating the founding of the modern Czech state, which happened precisely ninety-two years ago.

There is no lack of topics from our present time that would be worth mentioning tonight. We have to deal with the only slowly fading economic crisis and its consequences which have unpleasant impact on the lives of many of our fellow citizens and on the whole state economy. Our government debt has been growing for many years and is still growing today, and we must not allow it to reach the Greek proportions. We have long postponed reforms in our health care and pension systems which still function reasonably well but whose reform cannot be delayed indefinitely.

Many of these problems are still waiting to be tackled. Measures taken so far are only an indication of solutions, and it would be premature to speak of any distinctive change. However, certain changes are now beginning to take shape. On this same occasion last year I spoke of the persistent economic decline and of the interim government which lacked the mandate – and as we see today with the benefit of hindsight also the courage – to adopt the necessary measures. I spoke of the arbitrarily-postponed elections, and also of a ‘growing discontent’ which was becoming evident in our country at the time.

I don’t want to say this too loudly, but I no longer feel that way today. As a result of the elections in May this year we have a different government and House of Representatives and thanks to the recent senate elections also a different situation in the Senate. Local elections too have brought new personalities to public positions in many cities and municipalities. There is a reason for a degree of very cautious optimism. Although I do not underestimate in the least the fear on the part of some of our citizens of the indispensable ‘belt tightening’ connected with efforts to cure the public finances, last year’s discontent was something different. Hence, I also believe that political forces that might profit from social discontent will weigh very carefully their own short-term benefits against the long-term consequences of loss of fundamental civic solidarity in our country. I wish this becomes evident also in the atmosphere in the Parliament, as well as in the relations between the political parties. These are all serious matters, which however I do not intend to discuss today.

I began by saying that ninety-two years have passed since the birth of the modern Czech state, since the moment when we ceased being a kingdom and became a republic. I should add – only ninety-two years. This period of less than a century when we have had a political system based on a republic is hardly a tenth of the thousand years in which – on essentially the same territory – there has been a Czech state. And so let us not begin in 1918, but much earlier. When we look around at many places in our country, we see that we are surrounded by our own history reaching back much further. Even this hall, called the Vladislav Hall, began to be built two years before the discovery of America – and already then our state had existed for almost half a millennium.

Most of us have probably not asked the question why we have actually gathered here today – so ceremonially and with such a representative group of guests. It is a question we should ask, however. Have we come only to follow the convention that requires us to come together once a year in this beautiful hall of the Prague Castle? Are the historical banners carried by soldiers of the Castle Guard, the Gothic arches of this hall, the festive garbs and uniforms merely gleaming stage props for a performance that we install mechanically each year before the media cameras out of a sense of compulsion? Or should this evening also have a different, much deeper meaning and purpose?

I am convinced that it should. I am convinced that it should be a seriously-intended reminder and a message we send to ourselves that we are not merely a statistical sum of separate and lonely beings, but a community of more than ten million citizens, members of one broadly-branched family, who understand each other not only via a shared language but through traditions, historical experiences, a specific culture, and – at the highest possible level of generality – also common interests.

The high honours that will be received from my hands in a few moments by the outstanding women and men you see around me are not only a ceremonial formality. They are an expression of recognition that the moral qualities, the courageous deeds, the art, or the work of these fellow citizens of ours have surpassed the realm of the personal and become a part of the common heritage which forms a link between the past and the present and heads toward the future – toward those who will take the fates of our country into their hands after us.

Let me repeat my question from a different perspective: Does the state we have taken over from our ancestors as a specific and irreplaceable heritage have a meaning and purpose at all in today’s world? Do we sense it as something deeply embedded in our minds and hearts? Do we not accept it merely as a sort of neutral space, exchangeable with any other space? Is it not becoming for many of us only an ‘administrative unit’ to which we are losing any deeper personal relation?

If so, then today’s celebration of our national day is only an empty gesture and a mystification of the public. Then we should loudly admit that we are a generation that consciously relinquishes the Czech state. That our thousand-year state history has come to an end. That our inherited traditions, customs, culture, way of thinking, and the resulting specific interests are now only a historical museum of interesting folklore relics, because life, as said by an important Czech sceptical writer, has moved on.

However, if this is not the case for most of us, if we continue to perceive our common national existence authentically as something different from the national existence of the Germans, the French, the British, the Russians, the Americans, and other nations, then something follows from this. Then we have a vital need for our anchor, our state. Then it is appropriate that we turn to the legacy, the traditions, and the hard-won experiences of our ancestors. Then we must defend our state’s existence and values. Then we must be aware – with all the consequences – that history has not yet ended, even if some dreamers have tried to convince us of that following the fall of the bipolar world order.

In the present, post-modern and post-democratic world, characterized by confusion of values and by artificial relativization of many until recently undoubted foundations of our lives, including our statehood, for many of us the answers to these questions are not clear. I dare say that ninety-two years ago, on the threshold of a new era in our state’s history, for most people the answers to these questions were clear. At that time society agreed on the need for a state and the need for renewal of full state sovereignty. That was why the Czech Kingdom, a subordinate member of a multi-national state entity centred in Vienna, taking advantage of favourable international circumstances, became the sovereign Czechoslovak Republic.

To remember that event as a still-valid source of inspiration is the real and serious reason why we have gathered here today in a ceremonial atmosphere, amidst symbols of our statehood. I hope and believe that I am not the only one who sees it this way.

Some are probably expecting that now – when I speak of Czech statehood in this way – I shall add my standard philippic against Brussels. But I shall disappoint them. Not because there is nothing to talk about critically, but because there are at least two reasons for not discussing the European Union today in any depth.

One is that the problems, risks, and dangers of artificial and hasty European integration, about which I have been warning for many years and which the worldwide financial crisis and economic recession have revealed and intensified, have become in many ways a reality that is clearly visible, more-or-less to everyone. To speak of them today is no longer something courageous or original. It has also been clearly shown that the officially-proclaimed cohesion, solidarity, and altruism of the European project are more a wish than a reality. That every state – large and small – has its own interests that it immediately remembers as soon as any problem arises, giving them preference over the interests of a broader international grouping.

This year, more people in Europe have realized this fact. That is why my opinions held over a long period of time, for which I was upbraided for years both at home and elsewhere in Europe, are becoming part of the mainstream of today’s European discussion.

But the second – even more serious – reason why not to speak of the European Union when reflecting on the further existence and international position of the Czech state today is quite different. I wish to draw attention to a problem of which our politicians and the media have not yet taken much note, although it has fundamental importance for the future of our nation and of our state and for freedom and democracy in all of Western civilization.

It is impossible not to notice that efforts toward ‘integration’ on the part of the political elite of the largest countries of the world are shifting more and more, and at an increasingly rapid pace, from social engineering projects within countries and continents toward an intercontinental, actually global scope. Even in this respect, the present economic problems occurring in many parts of the world are serving as a catalyst and accelerator for a very problematic trend.

We are witnesses to the fact that the group of economically strongest and politically most important states of the world strives to become an informal preliminary stage of a global government. A government completely removed from democratic legitimization by the citizens – voters. A government that – whatever formal structure it might have – will de facto decide about our lives with no possibility at all for us to participate or exert any influence.

In such a world order the concept of citizenship will rapidly become extinct. However, democracy without the citizen is a contradiction in terms, and the casually proposed ‘world citizenship’ is only a mystification, a confusion of concepts, and a manipulation. History knows countless cases of a nation existing without its state. However, there can be no state without a nation. There can be no state without citizens. There can be no state without a political people that changes or corrects its present and its future via a democratic process through its elected representatives.

It is precisely toward that end, toward a world without democratic political legitimization of governments by citizens renewed again and again, that the ambitions of the deciding political, economic, and media elite of today’s world are tending. That is precisely where a new, greatly-changed future world order is now taking shape in very particular and practical ways.

If we do not take note of these tendencies in time, if we do not enter into discussions about their dangers, risks, and costs, we soon will be faced with a fait accompli. Then any reflections on the Czech statehood will be only a historical reminiscence.

To begin this serious debate is our historical obligation to the thousand-year history of our country, to previous generations who often made the highest sacrifices to it and who left us as a heritage the results of their abilities, their talents, the work of their hands, and the wealth of their thoughts. It is our obligation to the current generations, as well as to those of the future, who will progressively take over from us the relay baton of Czech statehood.

I believe that despite the complicated world in which we live the Czech state and its citizens do have a future. A future in a democratic country which, aware of its modest size and its very limited influence on European and global processes, does not overestimate its strengths, but has its pride and its self-confidence. A country which has in its democratically-elected representatives, in its political, cultural, economic, and social elite enough strength and determination to defend the space and the legacy built for us by our ancestors.

It is our obligation to ourselves, as well as to those who will come after us. And it is precisely the awareness of this obligation that should be the meaning and purpose of the Czech Republic’s national day. On which other occasion should we think about these serious issues if not on this festive day.

Václav Klaus, Vladislav Hall, Prague Castle, 28 October 2010

Cantona's famous quote

As I've been discussing it with Captain Ranty, I thought I'd post it up.

One step ahead of the flat-foots

The police seem to have, if not shot themselves in the foot, at least dropped a fire extinguisher on it, by moving to shut down Fitwatch. The article they were attempting to stop people reading is now spreading virally. All it says is; dump the clothes and the spray cans, get a haircut, grow a beard, lay low for a while and deny everything. What's wrong with that?

Still, I guess they've probably been waiting for an excuse to go after Fitwatch. The police don't like people taking photos of them, especially when they're doing things they shouldn't be doing.


Zero 7 - Destiny

Writing your own warrants, now? That kind of shit starts revolutions

As our freedom-loving cousins across the Atlantic can tell us, soldiers with the power to write their own warrants in persuance of the Stamp Act was one of the provocations that led to the American Revolution. Now, a similar power is being claimed by police, shutting down the Fitwatch website. According to the Graun:
The letter [to the ISP] stated that authority to close "the website and IP address" had been given by Will Hodgeson, an acting detective inspector at C011.
Right... so not from any kind of magistrate or court? Worse than that, the letter stated:
"The website is providing explicit advice to offenders following a major demonstration in central London.

"The demonstration was marred by violence and several subjects have already been arrested, with a major police operation under way to identify and arrest further offenders."

That's right; "offenders" - not suspects. Oh, for those halcyon days, when you could be caught dismembering a corpse and the police would say no more than you were 'helping them with their enquiries'.

Hat tip: Longrider

Like it's going out of style

Jaroslav Kubera: a politician worth voting for

Seeing as I've just posted a story below that happened a year ago, I may as well compound the error by drawing attention to this Telegraph article of a similar vintage, back in the days before the Lisbon Treaty had won, and a plucky band of Czech politicians were trying to block it. Had the leadership of the UK Conservative Party not betrayed every promise they ever made on the subject, things may have been different, but it is good to know that we have allies abroad, people who see the despicable EU for what it is.

Smoking up in Ireland, despite the draconian laws

Smoking has increased in Ireland from 29% to 33%, since the introduction of the smoking ban in pubs and businesses, and despite large increases in the cost and a prohibition on showing the products in shops.

What response does this get from Luke Clancy, one of the anti-tobacco lobby? He claims it indicates "a clear need for higher prices of cigarettes and better treatment of tobacco-dependence". In other words, more of the same shit, rather than asking the question about whether the attempt to 'de-normalise' smoking and make smokers social pariahs has misfired.

Hat tip: Counting Cats

UPDATE: It seems I'm a bit slow coming to this story, as it's over a year old. Sorry. It's still true of course! Thanks to Captain Ranty for pointing this out, and providing an opportunity to link to his clip of the Great Eric Cantona, talking about killing the banks.

Herman's hyperbole: let's hope he's right

The unelected, unaccountable nobody who goes by the title 'President of the European Council' is warning that the debt crisis could bring down the whole rotten edifice.

Let's hope his worst fears come true. Let's hope he's not just crying wolf. Let's hope there is indeed a wolf and it comes out of the forest and tears Herman to pieces - metaphorically speaking, of course.

The normalisation of torture

I have a great many misgivings about games such as 'Call of Duty', the most up-to-date version of which includes torture. Although players are very unlikely to imitate in real life their exploits in this virtual world, I am sure it has an effect of desensitising the participant to violence, which is not at all healthy. These games seem to carry a propaganda message of a particularly brutal, nihilistic kind.

Besides that, haven't you all got something better to be doing with your time? You could read a book on Austrian economics, or start a blog... something useful (shut up!).

"At some point the terrorists have won"

"We spend my child's whole life telling him that only mom, dad and a doctor can touch you in your private area, and now we have to add TSA agent and that's just wrong," he told Reuters. "At some point the terrorists have won."
The comment of a man discussing how his eight-year-old son had his genitals groped by a security worker at a US airport (page 2 of article), but there is a growing backlash from pilots, flight staff and passengers to the outrageous behaviour of TSA, egged on by Shrek's sister Janet Napolitano, head of DHS.

A pointless exercise? Or is the point to condition a nation to servitude and humiliation?

The travel industry are also about to blow a fuse, due to the woeful effect all this gestapo shit is having on business, because, unsurprisingly people don't like being forced into a deathray machine, whilst security goons drool over images of their naked bodies, or alternatively being sexually assaulted.

Come on America, you're not gonna take this, are you? Let me remind you of a few choice words from your fourth President, James Madison:

"If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy."

"It is a universal truth that the loss of liberty at home is to be charged to the provisions against danger, real or pretended, from abroad."

"I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations."
Consider yourselves warned.

Monday, 15 November 2010

European Commission buys journalists' souls

I'll be preaching to the choir on this, and if you ain't in the choir by now, all I can do is express my sympathies over the terrible head injury you must have suffered:
This is the first time that the Commission has ventured into the area of sponsoring investigative journalism. The action was prompted by a European Parliament amendment to the 2010 Budget of the European Union, and is in itself a recognition of the state of the media industry today. The Commission’s stated raison d’etre is that:
  • Independent scrutiny of public affairs enables citizens to be properly informed of conduct in public life, and can therefore inform their participation in democratic processes.
  • Much of the news media no longer invests in traditional journalistic scrutiny, due to failing economic conditions.
  • Some media, particularly in broadcasting and online journalism, lack a culture of investigative journalism. There is also a lack of tradition of this type of journalism in some parts of Europe.
  • Cross-border investigative journalism, in which journalists from different countries work together on issues of common public interest, is almost unknown.
It goes without saying that no investigation the massive endemic corruption within the EU institutions and the largesse they bestow will be tolerated. It is also clear that this is yet another example of the growing power and arrogance of the Enemy in Brussels.

Hat tip: Goodnight Vienna

Poll: 76% of respondents are ignorant

"When questioned on tax avoidance in general, 24 per cent of respondents said they did not think it was immoral, just good business sense. Three-quarters of respondents said they thought it was fraudulent."
PR Week (discussed in relation to Vodafone's reputation)

Hmm... were those two the only options given? Not the last word, I know, but Wikipedia's definition is thus:
"Tax avoidance is the legal utilization of the tax regime to one's own advantage, to reduce the amount of tax that is payable by means that are within the law."
I also add George Orwell's comments (Wartime Diary, 8/9/40):
"Towards the government I feel no scruples and would dodge paying the [income] tax if I could. Yet I would give my life for England readily enough, if I thought it necessary. No one is patriotic about taxes."

Liberty, enshrined in Law, desecrated by legislation

[Add polemic here]

Responding in song

Always a favourite: Louis Armstrong - 'We have all the time in the world'

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Drunken nonsense

In a column under the title "the touchy-feely nonsense that killed my beautiful sister-in-law", Liz Jones combines understandable grief for a relative who died through alcoholism with random outbursts calling for prohibitions on the sale of alcohol, and maudlin ramblings about smack heads and buying paracetamol. It's hardly necessary to debunk the piece, as the writer has debunked herself.

Her whole argument seems somewhat drunken, lurching from side to side. At one moment admitting "you are unable to help them – everyone close to Laura did all they could short of rugby-tackling her to the ground and sectioning her", then calling for bans of all kinds, which one supposes would have worked for this relative, notwithstanding the earlier admission. She says:
Of course you cannot legislate against an accident or a pre­disposition towards alcoholism inherited in your genes, but you can ban fast-food joints from delivering alcohol to your door.
This because the relative got her wine delivered by a pizzeria. However, the idea that a committed alcoholic would be prevented by such a ban is laughable - and already contradicted by her own experience.

You can and must make alcohol more expensive. Some idiot on the radio said this would unjustly penalise the poor; if we took this logic further, why not sell heroin in Sainsbury’s on a two-for-one offer, so those on benefits can partake on more equal terms?

Considering, again, her own experience, the relative ordered pizza and wine, then discarded the pizza. This indicates that increasing the price of alcohol would have had little effect. The relative was quite prepared to pay higher than necessary prices for her fix. The comment on heroin is too daft to bother with, and the next line ain't much better:

Alcoholism affects poor people more than it does rich people because the poor have more problems; let’s not enable them because of some PC sense of ‘fairness’.

I guess she means; the poor must be protected from themselves, and "we" (the Big Society?) shouldn't treat them as adults. We must put the cookie jar on a higher shelf, even though it will make no difference. Liz Jones discusses a problem, that many people know from their own lives: an alcoholic relative. She puts forward a series of measures none of which, singly or collectively, would prevent the problem, as her own experience testifies.

"But my Brethren of the Sea green Order, take a little wine with your water..."

... and Ile take a little water with my wine, and it will temper us to the best constitution"

Richard Overton, The Baiting of the great Bull of Bashan, 1649

It seems DK is declaring his vehicle off-road. Fair enough. Anyone who paid attention could see his heart hasn't been in it for a while - I guess ever since the Kitchen site went down. Let him be remembered for the good work he has done for driving forward the forces of virtual liberty into this new land of blogging, where we have secured strategic heights. No matter in the real world, one can travel far and never meet a fellow libertarian, on-line we are impossible to ignore.

In the work I quote above, Richard Overton chides the leveller movement (falsely so-called) for being down-cast and beaten and falling out amongst themselves, after the defeat at Burford of the mutiny against the invasion of Ireland. The King had fallen, and in his place was little more than a military dictatorship. The ideas of liberty that many of them had fought for throughout the Civil War period were no closer to victory, and there was much bitterness in the seeming betrayal of those ideas by Cromwell and those around him. Still, as Overton reminds them, the fight goes on, as he knows better than most, being incarcerated in the Tower of London at the time of writing.

Such it is with these times also. A change of government, but a continuity of agenda. Now the leftists are out in the cold, rediscovering all their anti-authority instincts, the economy is staggering, drunk on the edge of a cliff, war is peace, ignorance is strength. Meanwhile behind the shouting and hullabaloo, deals are going down, handshakes are being made.

Shades of gray

This is for a dear reader of mine, to save her travelling too far from the shelter of her duvet this grim and gray day, a clip from noir classic 'Gilda' with Glen Ford and Rita Hayworth.

Still looking bad out there...

... so I shall pass the time by revisiting past times, revealing my vintage, at least to those who share it.

Looking out my window...

... a miserable day. Made me think of this tune when I finally crawled out of bed.

Coming down from an Austrian peak

... in this case Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk's three volumes of 'Capital and Interest'. Glad to have it behind me. Onward to the foothills of 'Human Action'.


Mock the wig

It's good to see the fight back against lunatic judgements with the Spartacus thing. This is probably the best weapon. Judges are like dogs; they don't like it if you laugh at them, and as a few notables celebs are also taking a stand for their society, there's a good chance the case will finally be thrown out.

Saturday, 13 November 2010


Via the Index on Censorship blog, I come across comedian Paul Sinha's reasoned comments on the current attacks on freedom of speech with regard to Twitter, so decide to check him out via YouTube. This is worth watching ...

Friday, 12 November 2010

The Keynesian long-run

Hat tip to Angry Teen for flagging up this Channel 4 documentary "Britain's Trillion Pound Horror Story"... so how about listening to the economists who told you all this fucking decades ago?

(For those of you with a certain perversity to your nature, check out Richard Murphy's 'Tax Research pseudo-blog, to see him wailing and gnashing his teeth over the programme, but watch out, his economic ignorance is so vast in scale, it may collapse in on itself at any moment, rending the space-time continuum and sucking us all into oblivion. There are some great comments, such as "How on earth was this allowed!" Har har).

Jesse Ventura on Wall Street

Some may dislike the high-octane style, but the facts about the massive fraud involved in the current financial crisis need to be brought out into the open. In previous frauds, there were hundreds of agents crawling all over the cases, but now ... (cue images of tumbleweed blowing through ghost town) ... deafening silence.

Part Two and Part Three.

The Communications Act of 2003

I've been trying to find what the legislation involved in these twitter cases actually states, and I think I've tracked it down in the Communications Act of 2003.

127 Improper use of public electronic communications network
Justify Full
(1) A person is guilty of an offence if he—

(a) sends by means of a public electronic communications network a
message or other matter that is grossly offensive or of an indecent,
obscene or menacing character; or
(b) causes any such message or matter to be so sent.

(2) A person is guilty of an offence if, for the purpose of causing annoyance,
inconvenience or needless anxiety to another, he—

(a) sends by means of a public electronic communications network, a
message that he knows to be false,
(b) causes such a message to be sent; or
(c) persistently makes use of a public electronic communications network.

(3) A person guilty of an offence under this section shall be liable, on summary
conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to a fine
not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale, or to both.
So there you have it - the usual bollocky of vague terminology. In the case of Paul Chambers, the wigs are sticking to their story that his message was 'menacing' - even though no one was actually 'menaced' by it. As for the tory councillor, maybe they'll fall back to causing Yasmin AB 'needless anxiety' or some such twaddle. I note there is no reference to 'a reasonable person' which is often used as a yardstick (and in the case of Yasmin would provide an escape hatch). I also note, regarding 2(a) above that this applies to about 95% of every politician ever says.

Sean Gabb on Yasmin AB and the joke police

Further to what I wrote below, Sean Gabb of the Libertarian Alliance has written the following piece, which I shall reproduce in its entirety (and I encourage readers to click the link to the recording to remind yourself what kind of person Yasmin AB is):

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown and Humour:
No Laughing Matter
by Sean Gabb

I was called a few minutes ago by LBC, a commercial radio station that broadcasts within the London area. The researcher explained the biggest news story of the day and asked me for a comment. The story is that one Gareth Compton, who is a Conservative representative on Birmingham City Council, had made a joke on Twitter about the Moslem journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown. He said: “Can someone please stone Yasmin Alibhai-Brown to death? I shan't tell Amnesty if you don't. It would be a blessing, really.” As soon as she heard about this Mrs Alibhai-Brown announced that she would call the police and have the man charged with incitement to murder. But somebody else had already done so. Mr Compton was arrested, and then released on bail.

I made my comments immediately after hearing about the story, and they are rather scathing. However, I have now checked the news, and everyone else seems to be taking the matter very seriously. Mrs Alibhai-Brown is leading the hunt. “A politician validates the many people who do threaten columnists like me,” she told Sky News. “... what you're saying is ‘it’s ok to hate so much that you kill a journalist and a writer’.” A spokesman for the Conservative Party said that Mr Compton's language was “unacceptable”, and that he had been suspended from the Party while he was investigated. A spokeswoman for Birmingham City Council added: “Any written complaints will be formally considered by the council standards committee to determine if any investigation should be held…. The committee will also be mindful of any criminal investigations concluded by the police.”

Mr Compton has now deleted his tweet and apologised for the remark, calling it “an ill-conceived attempt at humour”.

It is difficult to know where to begin a written commentary on this matter. I suppose the right beginning is to take note of the English contempt of court laws. The news report I read does not say if Mr Compton had been charged with an offence. But he may yet be charged, and, once charges are laid, no one is allowed to make any comment that may prejudice his trial. And so I will not discuss whether Mr Compton did publish the words in question. Nor will I discuss whether publishing them is illegal under the present law of this country. What I will discuss is whether publishing such words should be illegal in a liberal democracy. And I will try to discuss this as moderately and as cautiously as I can.

I say that it should not be illegal to publish such words. In saying this, I am not calling for some libertarian utopia. I am simply asking for a return to the laws that, for many centuries, had policed speech in the England of my birth – in the England, indeed, of my early manhood. I was born into a country where a man could say pretty nearly anything he liked about public issues. He was constrained by the law of obscenity if he wanted to talk about sex, and by the law of official secrecy if he wanted to discuss the confidential workings of government. He might also have been constrained by the law of blasphemy if he wanted to talk about the Christian Faith. Of course, there were also the contempt laws that I have already mentioned. With the exception of the contempt laws, which make sense in any case where a jury might be involved, I will not defend these laws. They constrained speech more than I would have approved had I been old enough to make an informed comment. But, these laws aside, speech was free on public issues.

A man could freely denounce the policing of the Troubles in Ulster. He could praise the Irish Republican Army as “freedom fighters”, and rejoice whenever a soldier or policeman was murdered. He could say, for example, that Lord Mountbatten, who was murdered by Irish terrorists in 1980, was “a legitimate target”, and hope that some other member of the Royal Family – other than the Queen – might be next. Or, if the inclination took him, he could say that black people were sub-human, and that the Jews were “blood-sucking parasites”. He could call a man a “nigger” or – assuming he could prove it – that a man was a “queer” and that he would burn in hell.

On private issues, there were the defamation laws, and the law of confidence. Where threats of violence were concerned, there were the assault laws. For example, if a man said “I know where you live”, or “I know where your children go to school”, or “You’d better watch yourself as you walk home late in the evening”, he might be charged with assault. Words like these, after all, could be taken as threats by any man of reasonable firmness of mind.

Moving back to the public sphere, a man might be charged with a breach of the peace if he turned up outside a synagogue and told a crowd that gentile children inside were being made into Passover cakes.

Now, some of these laws were, as said, absurdly harsh. Others made good sense. But there was never any question that jokes in poor taste might be illegal. I remember reading an article once in The Spectator where Auberon Waugh called on a television producer to be put up against a wall and shot. Some people laughed. Others scowled. There was never any question that the police might be involved.

England is now a country where virtually any words uttered in public can be treated as a criminal offence. Without thinking very hard, I can remember how Nick Griffin of the British National Party stood trial for having called Islam “a wicked vicious faith”. I can remember how a drunken student was arrested and fined for telling a policeman that his horse looked “gay”. I can remember how a man was arrested and charged and fined for standing beside the Cenotaph and reading out the names of the British war dead in Iraq. I remember a case from this year where a pacifist unfurled a banner outside an army cadet training base. “Stop training murderers”, it said. His home was promptly raided by police with dogs, while a helicopter hovered overhead. He was arrested and cautioned.

If I started mentioning the cases where Christian street preachers have been arrested for quoting the Bible, or where Moslems have set the police on people for alleged words or displays, or if I even alluded to the Public Order Act or the various racial and sexual hate speech laws, this article would swell immensely. It is enough to say that anything said in public is now illegal if someone complains to the police, or if the police themselves take against it. And, when something is not illegal, we are all getting used to the idea – second nature in most other countries – that we should “watch ourselves”. Even I find that, if I discuss politics in a coffee bar, I sometimes drop my voice. A few weeks ago, I found myself looking round to see who might be within earshot. So much for living in a free country.

I am willing to believe that Mrs Alibhai-Brown was put in fear of her life by this twitter. But Mrs Alibhai-Brown may not be a woman of reasonable firmness of mind. Some years ago, she appeared to agree with me in a BBC discussion programme that it was only fear of the law that kept white people from rising up and murdering non-whites. Anyone inclined to doubt this claim should listen to the recording. But no reasonable man can regard the twitter as other than a joke.

I could go po-faced here, and say that it was a joke in questionable taste, or that it was “unacceptable”. But a joke is a joke. Often, a joke’s humour comes entirely from its being offensive. In a liberal democracy – which this country plainly no longer is – jokes are not a matter for the police. In a country where everyone in public life has not gone barking mad, jokes are heard and laughed at or ignored. It is only in countries that have turned, or are turning, totalitarian that jokes are taken seriously enough for criminal penalties to be threatened.

I could note that this latest outrage has taken place in a country with a Conservative Government. But there is no point. Labour may be out of power, but the Cameron Government is conservative in name only. We should know by now that all the talk during the general election about rolling back the Labour police state was nothing but talk, and that there is no intention to change anything.

I could put it on the record that, as a libertarian, I believe in freedom of speech, and that every law made since 1965 to censor speech should be repealed at once – the Race Relations Acts, the relevant sections of the Public Order Act, and all the dozens of oppressive laws made by the ex-Communists of the Blair and Brown Governments. I might also mention all the anti-discrimination laws and the obscenity laws. But this is for the record, and I have now put it on the record, and feel there is nothing more to be done for the moment.

No, I think the real villains here are the police. Every so often, The Daily Mail publishes a whining article or letter about how the police are kept from doing a proper job by health and safety laws and by “political correctness”. The implication here is that the police are thoroughly decent people who simply want to get back to protecting life and property in ways that nearly everyone regards as legitimate. I find this a ludicrous opinion. So far as I can tell, the police are the willing militia of an evil ruling class. Many of them are sadistic thugs more to be feared than the criminals they are supposedly hired to catch. Many are corrupt. Most of them have bought wholesale into the new order of things, and use their massively expanded powers with grim delight.

The police behave as they do partly because of the “tough new laws” Home Secretaries have been drooling over for the past quarter century. But it is also because police officers are bad people. Even if police powers could be rolled back to where they were in about 1960, these traditional powers would still be used oppressively. Power is restrained in part by law. Beyond that, it is restrained by common sense and common decency. These are qualities now absent from the police in England, and no changes in law or exhortations from the top can bring them back. Anyone who wants all the policing our taxes buy needs his head examined.

There is no doubt that all those High Tory critics of Robert Peel were right about the dangers of setting up a state police force. It took over a hundred and fifty years to show how right they were. But, when someone is arrested for making jokes about Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, we can see that the line has been crossed that separates a state with police from a police state.