For some light reliefe from the good stuff below, I always wanted to find a cover for this to see if it was better than the Tornadoes. See what you think
For some light reliefe from the good stuff below, I always wanted to find a cover for this to see if it was better than the Tornadoes. See what you think
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
David Edmonds reappointed as Chairman of Legal Services Board
David Edmonds has been reappointed as Chairman of the Legal Services Board for a further three-year term. The reappointment is from 1 May 2011 until 30 April 2014.
The reappointment was made by the Lord Chancellor in consultation with the Lord Chief Justice in accordance with the Legal Services Act 2007.
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Justice, Jonathan Djanoglysaid:
“I am very pleased that David Edmonds has accepted a further term of appointment as Chairman of the Legal Services Board. There are vital and exciting challenges ahead for the legal profession and I believe the leadership displayed by David will provide a steady foundation for ensuring the legal profession of England and Wales remains world leading well into the future.“
David Edmonds said:
I am delighted to be reappointed to this post. Maintaining momentum in the modernisation and reform of both regulation and service delivery is crucial for lawyers and the clients they serve. I look forward to leading the LSB over the next three years as we help to bring about that change.”
Notes for editors:
4. The LSB oversees eight Approved Regulators, which in turn regulate individual lawyers. The Approved Regulators, designated under Part 1 of Schedule 4 of the 2007 Act, are the Law Society, the Bar Council, the Master of the Faculties, the Institute of Legal Executives, the Council for Licensed Conveyancers, the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys, the Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys and the Association of Costs Lawyers.
5. In addition, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Scotland and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants are listed as Approved Regulators in relation only to reserved probate activities.
6. The legal profession consists of some 15,157 barristers, 116,122 solicitors and 12,116 individuals authorised to operate in other aspects of the legal profession such as conveyancing. In total the legal sector employed over 324,000 individuals in 2010. The sector was valued at £25.97 billion per annum during 2008.
7. The draft 2011-12 LSB business plan can be found at: http://www.legalservicesboard.org.uk/what_we_do/consultations/open/pdf/lsb_business_plan_10_web_final.pdf
For further enquiries please contact Ramandeep Bhatti on 020 7271 0061.
Ramandeep Bhatti | Administrative Assistant | Legal Services Board
Victoria House, Southampton Row, London, WC1B 4AD
T 020 7271 0061
The book is a blueprint for a reactionary takeover of the British government (thanks to Kalim Kassam – I think – for the recommendation).
Gabb suffers from no illusions, as he makes clear early on: "The truth is that we have lost every argument at any level that matters. On all issues during the past quarter century or more, we have failed to set an agenda to preserve—let alone to re-establish—ourselves as the free citizens of an independent country. We have lost."
I have very little to quibble with in this book. Gabb sees clearly identifies the problems that modern reactionaries face. Our opponents control government (which has become more and more immune to change) our education system and most of our culture. They are importing a new people to further cement their power.
After discussing the problem, Gabb discusses what a reactionary movement would do in power. Here’s a summary in his own words:
I suggest, therefore, that within days of coming into power, we ought to shut down large parts of the public sector. . . .
The chief purpose is to destroy the present ruling class. Moving as fast as we can, we must abolish as much as we can of its institutional means of action and support. . . .
Our education policy would need to be more complex. On the one hand, we should cut off all state funding to the universities. We might allow some separate transitional support for a few science departments. But we should be careful not to allow another penny of support for any Economics or Law or Sociology or Government and Politics department, or for any course with the words “media”, “gender”, or “ethnicity” in its name. . . .
On the other hand, we would have to keep the schools open—not because their teaching is needed, but because of their childminding function. Most people would neither notice nor care about losing things like the Committee on Medical Aspects of Food Policy, but they would object to having to find somewhere else to put their little ones during the day. Therefore, the schools would stay open. . . .
Following from this, I suggest that our government of reaction should stop gathering and publishing official information. We should want no more censuses, or balance of payments statistics, or epidemiological surveys—no more government reports or future projections. . . .
I would like to see the abolition of both income tax and value added tax and their replacement with property taxes. These are simple to assess and collect, and cannot be used to justify the sort of financial inquisition that we now have. . . .
And so I will make it clear that when I talk about a free market, I do not mean a legal framework within which giant corporations are able to squeeze their suppliers, shut down their small competitors and socialise their workers into human sheep. I have already said I would not defend the landed interest. I would very strongly favour an attack on the structures of corporate capitalism. . . .
The Company Acts allow them to incorporate so that their directors and shareholders can evade their natural responsibilities in contract and tort. They are, for this reason, privileged in law. The alleged justification is that, without such limiting of liability, ordinary people would not invest money in organisations that provide us with necessary or useful products. The institution is, however, undesirable. . . .
Above all, we should work towards the abolition of limited liability. . . .
I would suggest abolishing all new criminal offences created since around 1960. . . .
As a libertarian, I would go further and repeal all the laws against sale and possession of recreational drugs, and all the laws against the right to keep and use weapons for defence. . . .
On the other hand, the Monarchy has been co-opted by the present ruling class as a front organisation. Its function now is to persuade the unreflective that there have been no fundamental changes. The reign of our present Queen has been, so far as I can tell, one long and uncomplaining surrender to the forces of revolution. . . .
Wherever possible, ancient forms should be preserved in their outward appearance and adapted to modern uses. After all, one of the main reasons why the Great Revolution failed in France was the wanton abandoning of symbols that restrained the will of men to unbridled power. . . .
But turning to foreign policy in general, we should work towards isolationism. The war in Iraq is now generally accepted to have been a disaster. But so is the war in Afghanistan. So was the war with Serbia. The Cold War and the two world wars served no valuable national interest. We should withdraw from NATO and every other military alliance. We need armed forces sufficient to defend our own territory. We should not pretend that it is either our duty or our ability to join in policing the world.
He then gets a bit wishy-washy on immigration. He considers this proposal to be radical, and it is, but I’m not sure it’s radical enough to dislodge the present ruling class. He cites two examples of direct frontal attacks working to destroy a ruling class: Henry VIII destroying the "Roman Church in England" and the events of 1641. Unfortunately that was probably the last time that any attacks worked. Progressivism is undefeated since then.
His plan for taking over government is much less inspiring:
My answer in the short term is that we must assist in the destruction of the Conservative Party. While it remains in being as a potential vehicle of government, every initiative from our movement will be taken over and neutralised. . . .
The present ruling class came to power not all at once, but by a silent capture, over several decades, of the main cultural and administrative institutions. We may not by the same means be able to dislodge it from this power. But we can bring forward the moment when the ruling class will eventually run out of commitment, and begins to transform itself into an increasingly timid ancien régime. Remember, these people are at war not just with us, but with reality itself. That war must always be lost in the end. . . .
The book is an interesting read, but I’m not sure a revolution by democratic means is possible.
If you can understand the message below, you will see that I shall be speaking by video next month at a conference of Italian libertarians. Since I’ve never done this before, I am very excited. I may even get my Chinese camera lights out of storage. This time, they might not explode on me!
I have also been booked to speak at a libertarian event in Brussels. More details when I can remember them.
In both cases, let me hasten to add, I shall be speaking in English. If with varying degrees of fluency, I read about seven foreign languages, I try to avoid having to speak any of them.
Love to all,
Ciao Sean, nessun problema per ieri effettivamente la chat di facebook non sempre funziona.
Ok, va molto bene il video messaggio da mettere su Youtube.
Skype a volte ha problemi di qualità di connessione, inoltre il problema del fuso orario rispetto a dove ti troverai tu in quei giorni e la sede del congresso anche in riferimento alla scaletta della manifestazione con il video viene risolto.
Il video deve avere una massima durata di circa 15 minuti, ovviamente l’argomento del video lo decidi tu (sarebbe comunque interessante che tu al suo interno facessi riferimento per il pubblico dei presenti, al ruolo e le attività della Libertarian Alliance in UK, i suoi obbiettivi, le azioni messe in campo al fine di diffondere il libertarianismo e le idee di libero mercato nel tuo Paese).
Al massimo quando sarà pronto il video, manda il link Youtube in una email al seguente recapito degli organizzatori dell’evento: contact
Al massimo per sicurezza mandalo anche via messaggio di posta Facebook a me o a Leonardo Facco e Rivo Cortonesi.
Grazie mille per la tua disponibilità Sean, spero che l’anno prossimo tu possa partecipare di persona come relatore ufficiale della conferenza Interlibertarians 2012 a Lugano.
Magari organizzandoci per tempo qualche mese prima.
Sean Gabb. The Churchill Memorandum (Lulu.com, 2011).
Although I don’t write about it much, I’m an alternate history geek.
I’ve got a whole shelf of them, ranked according to what genre fans call the "Point of Divergence" (POD). Among my favorites are Harold Waldrop’s Roll Them Bones, which starts from the premise that Rome lost the Second Punic War and Mother Carthage inherited the Hellenistic culture of the East, and Poul Anderson’s short story "In the House of Sorrows," which posits that Jerusalem fell to Sennacherib and that the fall of Rome and the Dark Ages occurred without the Church to preserve classical culture and literacy.
My favorite of all time is probably Orson Scott Card’s Pastwatch. In that story our own timeline is the result of historical engineering, undertaken by scientists from the original timeline in order to avert the catastrophe in which their history culminated. In the original timeline, Columbus’ life’s work was traveling among the royal courts of Christendom whipping up support for a new Crusade to smash the power of the Turk and liberate Constantinople and Jerusalem.
With the discovery of the New World delayed by almost a century, a Mesoamerican people managed to supplant the Aztecs (much as the Persians did the Medes) and reinvigorate their dying empire. They expanded to incorporate a people far to the northwest whose smiths were quickly advancing from copper smelting to working with iron, and another people on the Caribbean coast who were developing the first true ships built on a keel. Equipped with firearms and gunpowder, whose secrets they tortured out of the first shipwrecked Portuguese crews.
But the most popular points of divergence, by far, are the American Civil War and World War II. The Churchill Memorandum, by Libertarian Alliance Director Sean Gabb, falls under the second heading. In his alternate timeline, Hitler died in a car wreck in the Spring of 1939 and was succeeded by Goehring.
Goehring quickly instituted a revisionist version of National Socialism. Among the more unlikely "revisions" was the announcement that the general hostility toward the Jews was all a "misunderstanding," and that National Socialism properly understood opposed only the big international financiers — who were no longer a threat in any case.
During the Polish crisis Goehring and Chamberlain sewed up a stable peace which amounted to a de facto condominium between Germany and the British Empire. The pact guaranteed the independence of France and the Low Countries, in return for a free hand in Eastern Europe. Stalinist Russia and Japan, as second-rate powers, rounded out the balance.
The main unknown was the United States, which the Germans feared would tip the balance toward the British Empire. Hence the Chamberlain-Goehring agreement included a secret codicil, key to the cloak-and-dagger plot, which guaranteed geopolitical stability by removing America as an independent force in world politics. The British arranged the assassination of FDR, followed by a succession of other presidential assassinations, finally resulting in a coup which established a sort of deranged fascist regime under Harry Anslinger (just Google the name). America at the time of the story’s setting was an authoritarian hellhole, completely withdrawn from the rest of the world.
At the time of the setting, twenty years after the POD in 1959, Nazi Germany’s government pursues what we would regard as a neoliberal agenda, with Mises and Hayek dominating the Cabinet. Britain is under a Conservative government, with what would be regarded as relative economic freedom in conventional politics (although without such obviously central prerequisites to genuine economic freedom as a land reform based on thoroughgoing attention to the principle of justice in acquisition). As a result, technology has advanced at a much faster rate in the Empire than it did in our timeline. Casette recorders and cheap home energy generators are common, and electric cars have mostly replaced the IC engine. That old alt hist standby the airship makes its appearance as the primary means of long-distance travel — quite plausible, given the unlikelihood that jumbo jets would ever have come into existence absent a superpower arms race. Germany is a sponsor of the Jewish Free State in Palestine against Britain’s protectorates in the Arab world.
The plot centers on a scheme by Harold MacMillan and Communist Party chief Michael Foote to track down and publicize the Churchill Memorandum, and thereby expose the secret skullduggery between Goehring and Chamberlain which is at the foundation of the geopolitical order. Their hope is that public outrage in Britain will lead to a rupture with Germany, that a revanchist movement in America will lead it to reenter world politics on the side of the new Labour coalition, and that Britain will be thrown into the arms of Soviet Russia. With the British war against Germany that is likely to ensue, in alliance with Russia and America, MacMillan and Foote intend to restore the "progressive" course of history which was thwarted by Chamberlain.
I’ve had my issues with Dr. Gabb in the past over his view of the beneficence of the British Empire. Frankly, if our only choice is between benevolent British imperialism and the kind of "liberation" promoted by American Cold War policy, it’s a pretty dismal prospect.
But what I find especially appealing about the story — aside from an afficionado’s curiosity about how an alternate timeline turns out — is its treatment of power. There really are no good guys. The world order enforced by London, no matter how much less of an evil Gabb considers it, is built on betrayal and murder. Chamberlain removed America as an inconvenience, in the process handing over its entire population to totalitarian rule, as casually as most of us would swat a mosquito.
Perhaps most intriguing is the way that, with all the major actors and world powers reshuffled like the bits of colored paper in a kaleidoscope, the lines of political power automatically link them together in the same way that an arc of electricity in a lightning bolt follows the shortest path. In a radically different world, with radically different alignments, political leaders and states nevertheless gravitate toward power just as water flows downhill. This is a universal law of history that seems to hold regardless of which specific figures are in power, so long as power exists at all. So long as political power exists, it will be abused by those who hold it in the interest of aggrandizing their own power.
by Michael Parish
As of late there been a surge of discussion regarding the role of race in Libertarianism, centered around the theoretical debate between Keith Preston and the ALL. Due to the confusion, both conceptual and practical, it is mired in, I have prepared this piece. This is intended as both a critique of the Left-libertarian conception of race, and as a clarification for the movement generally.
Left-Libertarians refer to “racism” on a regular basis, although they when they do they are referring to it in the abstract, as a mental concept, and not to concrete instances thereof. This is a key conceptual flaw, causing it to be defined in a sense so broad as to lose all meaning. Specifically, they define it as and/or equate it with authoritarianism but this is an ontological fallacy. According to Libertarian theory, authoritarianism is defined as state intervention that directly restricts the individual from the exercise of his or her negative rights. Racism, on the other hand, that rejects individuals in the social sphere because of percieved attributes associated with their race. The former is a form of agency occuring in the physical world; the latter is an idea occuring only within an individual’s mind. Therefore, the ontological distinction between the two could not be clearer.
Because of this distinction, racism is not necessarily a form of authoritarianism but a set of opinions that, if adhered to by individuals in power, could be manifest in a form of authoritarianism; however, this is not predetermined, as it can exist inert within the human mind independent of the state. However, the same can be said of its antithesis, left anti-racism, which the Left-Libertarians adhere to. This can be seen manifested in a number of policies, including but not limited to anti-discrimination law, affirmative action, and “hate speech” and “hate (i.e. thought) crime” legislation, all of which are wholly incompatible with Libertarianism. The reveals to us that the tendency towards statism is a natural human one, instantiated not within any specific ideology but within human nature itself; any ideology can lead to statism should its adherents if so inclined assume institutional power.
The Left-Libertarian will extend his claim by classifying the voluntary organization of individuals into racially exclusive communities as a form of authoritarianism; this is argued on the ground that their implied exclusion of those outside their race is a violation of their right to free movement. However, according to Libertarian theory, if property is privately as the basis for free association, then this includes the right to not associate. Conversely, there is no right in this tradition to not experience discrimination or to enter someone else’s property without their permission. If this applies to private property on an individual basis, then it does also on a collective basis, as the voluntary aggregation of property can be reduced to its individual constiuent parts. Therefore, the voluntary creation of a racially exclusive community is not authoritarian nor do its exclusionary policies constitute a violation of another’s freedom.
In their mistaking this, the Left-Libertarian conflates Libertarianism with liberal humanism, and misuses “authoritarianism” as a blanket term for any form of social organization they disagree with, regardless of its being voluntarily. In doing so, their conceptions of these things cease denoting concrete objects of discussion and devolve into mere abstract concepts, which in turn devolves the clarity of their movement. One function of this is the apparent backslide into the positive rights theory of the statist-left, as indicated by the theoretical fallacy discussed in the previous paragraph. It should be noted that the desire for National Anarchists to secede from the dominant society and create exclusivist communities in the absence of the state should be welcomed by Left-Libertarians; however, their hysterical denunciations of such a proposition appear very much in contradiction to their current adamant exclusion of them from the anti-state movement.
by Kevin Carson
In an interview with Denise Maerker of Televisa, during her February trip to Mexico, Hillary Clinton explained why drugs couldn’t be legalized: “I don’t think that will work. I mean, I hear the same debate…. It is not likely to work. There is just too much money in it, and I don’t think that—you can legalize small amounts for possession, but those who are making so much money selling, they have to be stopped.”
At first glance, you might think this is just economic illiteracy. After all, it’s just common sense that the reason there’s “so much money” in drugs is BECAUSE they’re illegal. They fetch a black market price. If pot was legal and sold for the same per ounce as oregano, you think there’d be Mexican gangs fighting to control the border trafficking in it? The best way to “stop” the people “who are making so much money selling” is to make the stuff cheap and legally available.
It stands to reason that the biggest foes of legalization — even more than the drug cops — are the folks in organized crime who make money off the drug trade. I vaguely recall an anecdote about a “dry county” election somewhere in the deep south; the local bootlegger’s car was plastered with bumper stickers reading “For the sake of my family, keep X County dry.”
But on closer examination, I suspect Clinton’s remark was a Freudian slip. She wasn’t guilty so much of exposing her ignorance as of inadvertently giving the uninitiated a brief glimpse of the truth. The truth is that the government won’t legalize drugs is that there’s too much money — for them and their allies — in keeping them illegal.
It’s basic economics that creating a black market in any criminalized substance will, in turn, create organized crime networks that profit from trafficking in controlled substances. Prohibition resulted in the explosive growth of organized crime in America.
But what some people don’t realize is that one of the organized crime gangs that profit from controlling the drug trade has blue for its gang colors. On the crudest level, of course, you’ve got cops on the take who allow some drug traffickers to operate — just so long as they pay protection money. Or cops who seize the stuff and then sell it. But it would be a mistake to treat this as just a “bad apples” problem. Police culture is corrupted to its very heart by the Drug War. Drug criminalization doesn’t just enable the profits of syndicates in Colombia or Mexico. It props up a sordid empire of militarized SWAT teams that terrorize families and murder innocent people in their homes, of civil forfeiture larceny enabled by jailhouse snitches, and of “Interjurisdictional Drug Task Forces” overflowing with cash. The entire police culture associated with the Drug War — just as much as what we conventionally think of as organized crime — looks like something beneath an overturned rock.
The Drug War, in short, is where all the money is. You can’t legalize drugs because there’s too much money in keeping them illegal — for the cops.
On a much larger scale, the biggest narcotraffickers in the world are the U.S. National Security State and its clients. Afghanistan is a case in point. One reason the Taliban were so unpopular was that they stamped out opium production. The only place in Afghanistan where the poppies were being cultivated on a large scale was in the Northern Alliance territories. So the U.S. overthrows the Taliban, the CIA handlers on the ground set up the Northern Alliance as the new national government — and Afghanistan is once again the center of world heroin production.
Drugs can’t be legalized because there’s too much money in it — for the international spooks. That includes the big banks that launder all the drug money and buy politicians all over the world (including in the U.S.). It includes the CIA, which has historically used the drug trade to fund death squads and coups all over the world.
There’s too much money — for the state and its allies — in keeping drugs illegal. Kind of makes you wonder whose side the state’s really on.
by Kevin Carson
In one of the more memorable passages in Orwell’s 1984, Winston Smith contemplates the inevitable doom that will follow from the first entry which he is preparing to make in his diary. The act was not illegal, he reflected — there were no laws in Oceania — but its discovery would nevertheless result in ten years in a forced labor camp.
If your tastes tend more to the lowbrow, there’s that great line from National Lampoon’s “Vacation”: “It ain’t illegal. Hell, I oughta know — I’m the sheriff!”
We see an increasing number of instances in the United States and the “Free World” in which citizens can be punished without any specific legal pretext.
To take one example which has been around for a while, there is no written law against carrying large amounts of cash on one’s person, nor any specific statutory definition of the threshold at which the amount of money one carries becomes a criminal offense. Nevertheless, anyone stopped by a police officer and found to be carrying thousands of dollars in cash will be presumed a drug trafficker of some sort, and their money seized according to the usual procedure of “civil forfeiture.”
When ballot measures to decriminalize or liberalize marijuana laws clear all the hurdles and are voted into law, as often or not the cops just quietly ignore them. For example, last October Los Angeles County, California Sheriff Lee Baca baldly stated that he would continue to arrest pot users even if Proposition 19 (which would have legalized it) passed. Baca’s “argument” was that it is still criminalized by federal statute, and that federal law supersedes state law.
Even as explained by the state’s own pet jurists, of course, this was utter nonsense. The functionaries of a state are not bound to enforce federal law. The practical effect of a measure legalizing pot, had it passed, would simply have been to tell the feds to enforce their own law. It would have withdrawn California’s state and local cops from the enforcement effort and dismantled the whole apparatus of interjurisdictional drug task forces. But none of that matters. Because if a cop wants to enforce a “law” badly enough, he’ll make one up.
Just about every week, Radley Balko reports on someone being arrested for filming cops, on the pretext that they’re “hindering apprehension,” “interfering with police business,” or “violating the wiretap laws,” or some such bull-hockey. Never mind that there’s no actual law criminalizing the act of recording public functionaries performing public duties in a public place, or that there’s even a law on the books specifically exempting such activity from the wiretap statutes.
If you’re willing to fight it out before judges or police commissioners, for weeks or months, you may or may not get a decision overruling the cop’s actions. But in the meantime you’ve had your camera (and maybe your nose) smashed, spent time in a holding cell, had your name dragged through the dirt, and maybe lost your job. And meanwhile, the cops just keep on doing it anyway. I mean, seriously, they can kill innocent people and wind up on paid administrative leave pending a wrist-slap, so how worried do you think they are about breaking a camera and roughing up some dirty effing hippie?
As I write, functionaries within the US national security apparatus are busily looking for any pretext on which Julian Assange — an Australian citizen — can be extradited from the United Kingdom. All three are ostensibly countries which share the common law tradition’s procedural protections of the accused, and which pay a great deal of lip service to the “rule of law.”
Yet nobody can state, in anything resembling clear terms, a plausible explanation of just what law Assange is supposed to have violated. Treason? He’s not a U.S. citizen. Espionage? If publishing classified documents leaked by someone else is a crime, please explain the difference between Wikileaks’ publication of the leaked diplomatic cables and the New York Times’ publication of the Pentagon Papers. So far they’ve failed to torture Bradley Manning into testifying that Assange suborned the leaked documents from him.
But if one expedient doesn’t work, they’ll try something else. The law doesn’t really matter. If the spooks, cops and prosecutors want to get somebody bad enough, they’ll come up with a bespoke “law” to tailored to their needs. The custom manufacture of pretexts is a cottage industry for them.
In practice, the law is whatever they say it is.
Military Intervention in Libya:
The Errors of Muscular Libertarianism
by Sean Gabb
Everything I thought relevant about our latest war in the Moslem world I said in a blog posting a few days ago. However, I have been asked to write at greater length. If I do not choose to begin again on the reams of commentary that I made on our earlier war in Iraq, I suppose I should say something about Libya.
Looking at the immediate issues, I am against intervention. It is none of our business what goes on in the Moslem world. Even if it were, there is no good that we are nowadays capable of doing there. I doubt if air strikes alone will prevent Colonel Gaddafi or his enemies from killing ordinary people. The logic of the intervention we have made may draw us into some kind of land attack – followed by some kind of occupation. And everyone ought by now to understand the likeliest outcome of military occupations in the Moslem world. Even if he is brought down with the help we are so far providing, I do not believe that whatever follows Colonel Gaddafi will be much better on the whole than he has been, or that it will be any more friendly to us. The most charitable view to be taken of the British and American Governments is that they are run by fools whose memory does not reach back even to 2003. The most sensible view is that military action is being taken for the benefit of special interest groups that cannot stand openly forward without bringing both governments down into scandal and contempt.
That is my view of the war. Of course, it is possible that, this time, I and the trend within libertarianism to which I belong are mistaken as to facts. Perhaps this time, limited intervention will bring down a tyrant, and he will be followed by a stable and reasonably liberal democracy in Libya. I do not for a moment suppose that this will happen – or is actually desired by whoever is giving the orders. But let me assume that this is a possibility, and then take issue with a rival libertarian trend that asserts our right, and even our duty, to beat down tyranny wherever we can, and to raise up such constitutional government as the people there are able to support.
The main problem – specific facts aside – with this kind of assertion is the talk of “we” and “us”. Such talk made reasonable sense in the ancient democracies. When a treaty was made between Athens and Corcyra, for example, the Athenian ambassadors signed fully on behalf of the people of Athens. All policy was debated at meetings that every adult male citizen had the right to attend. Even allowing for slavery, probably the majority of those who paid taxes were able to speak and vote on the weight and the use of the tax money. Certainly, everyone who might be called on to do military or naval service could speak and vote. Moreover, every effective office of state was filled either by direct election, for short periods and with the real possibility of impeachment, or by lot for short periods, so that the people as a whole, in every generation, would have a share in government. Obviously, there were always dissenters from whatever the majority decided. But, when the ancient historians say that “the Athenians” did this or that, they were making sense.
But neither England nor America is a democracy of this kind. In both countries, there is a much greater separation of state and people. To take the example of my own country, the British State comprises the Queen-in-Parliament, plus a mass of employed officials who themselves outnumber the whole population of ancient Athens; and it is influenced by a further cluster of usually corporate interests. Whether this machine is directed by six hundred or so elected representatives is beside the point – though it generally is not directed by them. These representatives are themselves members of a class separate from the people who choose between them every four or five years.
To speak of actions taken by the British State as taken by “us” is a plain error. One of the reasons we moderns pay so much attention to constitutional safeguards is because we need them in ways that the Athenians mostly did not. We need them because we face a State that is separate from us, and that has interests that are often hostile to our own. We are not entirely helpless as we stand before the State. Elections aside, we are lucky enough to live in a country that still has a broadly liberal political culture, and where most organs of the State are directed by men willing to act with a certain restraint. But this does not mean that there is any specific identity between the interests of State and people, or that we should put too much meaning into the verbal convention that “we” went to war in Iraq, or that “we” must do something to help the people of Libya.
Because, for any number of reasons, we do not and cannot control the State, the best we can do is to keep insisting that those who direct the State should be guided by certain principles. The main principle is that they should not regard themselves in any sense as our parents, nor as our agents. They should regard themselves, rather, as our trustees.
Now, the duty of a trustee is to act in what any reasonable man might regard as the best interests of the beneficiaries. He should not use things for his own purposes that are not really his property. He should not simply take instructions from the beneficiaries. He should act with prudence and with restraint.
If we apply this principle to foreign policy, we see that all actions here should never go beyond a very cautious selfishness. The State has no money of its own. The rulers of the State do not nowadays do any fighting. In all cases, it is the people who pay and the people who fight. It is, therefore, not enough for David Cameron and William Hague to speak about the sufferings of the Libyan people. If they were to resign their offices and go off to fight, as many Englishmen did, in the Spanish Civil War, that would be their business. It is not their business to spend our money and our lives on their crusade – and not even if they could find a temporary majority for doing so in a referendum. Their duty, as trustees, is to take such minimal actions as will safeguard this country from invasion. This might sometimes require them to go a little further. They might, for example, be required to intervene in an Irish civil war. They might also be required to gain and exercise a benevolent hegemony over countries like Holland and Belgium, and actively to conciliate the French and Germans. But, just as a trustee is not permitted to sell or mortgage assets to feed the starving in Africa or fund research into a cure for aids, the rulers of this country have no business to run about the world, involving us in foreign matters that we do not fully understand and cannot efficiently control.
There is a general benefit to behaving in this manner. When the governments of the main countries act purely in the reasonable interests of their peoples, foreign policies taken on a caution and predictability that is most consistent with enabling a peaceful intercourse between nations. Wars come about most often not from national selfishness, but from impulsive and unpredictable acts in furtherance of some abstract principle. And I say again that such principles will generally be a cover for the enrichment of some shameful special interest.
There is a fundamental difference, then, between a man who takes sides in some foreign dispute and goes out to act on his decision, and a State that intervenes in foreign disputes. There is also a fundamental difference between a man who acts by himself and a man who calls for a State to act on his behalf.
This is my view of how the British State should respond to events in Libya and the rest of the world. It would be my view even if I could be shown a record of success in the spreading of liberal democracy through the world. But there is no such record. The people who are now calling for “humanitarian” intervention in Libya are often the same people who called for the same in the Balkans. We bombed. We occupied. We are still occupying. The mountains of dead Albanians we read about in the newspapers were never found. Instead, the alleged aggressors suffered ethnic cleansing and what might fall within the legal definition of genocide. And Kossovo is now a gangster state that has exported criminals to every country in Europe. The same people told us that Saddam Hussein was feeding his enemies into plastic shredders, and had – or soon might have – “weapons of mass destruction”. So we invaded. Seven years later, perhaps a million Iraqis are dead. Iraqi Christians are persecuted as they never were under Saddam Hussein. Water and electricity have still not been restored in many areas of the country. Instead, below a thin veneer of constitutional rule paid for by the Americans, the country is a patchwork of jurisdictions based on tribe or religion, and hardly anyone is better off. Of course, none of the alleged weapons was ever found. Leave aside my own preference for how the British State should generally conduct itself – is it likely to be any better in Libya?
by Sean Gabb
What happens in Libya is none of our business. Its ruler may be a bloodstained dictator. He may be the only alternative to a radical Islamic takeover. He may be both. But that is not our concern.
We are now effectively at was with Libya. The people there will not benefit from this. They will not be grateful. For us, the results will be more dead soldiers and a further radicalisation of the Moslems who live in England. It will not bring down the price of oil.
I welcome spending cuts on “defence”. I wish the whole of the army and air force could be shut down and replaced by a citizen militia. By removing any means for stupid and evil politicians like David Cameron to puff themselves up, nothing would tend to make this country saver.
by Kevin Carson
The disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facilities, which turned the 8.9 earthquake and tsunami into a sort of Irwin Allen trifecta, has spurred new calls to ban nuclear power.
Certainly Japan’s recent experience suggests that attempts to plan for worst-case scenarios tend to err on the low side. Nuclear power plants designed to withstand quakes an order of magnitude less still managed to shut down as designed; nevertheless, the earthquake and tsunami also damaged the backup power for their cooling system.
So given the high stakes of a nuclear meltdown, and the manifest inability of planners to anticipate what might go wrong, it would make sense to ban nuclear power, right?
Well, the actual problem is that government has been actively intervening for decades to prevent the market from banning nuclear power. Precisely because the stakes are so high and there’s so much room for unforseen things to go wrong, nuclear power is uninsurable on the private market.
So under the terms of the Price-Andersonn Act, the nuclear industry bears the cost of insuring itself against liability only up to a small fraction of the damages that would result from a disaster like that currently underway in Japan, and above that amount the taxpayers are required to assume liability up to a higher level — which is still far less than the harm which would result from a full-scale meltdown. So if a reactor melts down, blanketing a thousand square miles around a major city with fallout and causing hundreds of billions in damages, the victims are pretty much S.O.L. (simply out of luck).
Legislative caps on liability far, far below the actual damages that would likely result… Sound familiar? Here’s a hint: It starts with B, and ends with P.
In fact the liability issue is only one facet of a much larger theme: Nuclear power is a virtual creature of the government. The nuclear industry grew directly out of the “Defense” Department’s nuclear weapons programs, and the first reactors were built as an offshoot of military production. A major portion of the cost of just about every single step in the nuclear power production chain, from the federal government providing preferential access to government land and building access roads at taxpayer expense for uranium mines, to the above-mentioned assumption and capping of liability, to taxpayer-funded storage of nuclear waste, shows up on your tax bill rather than on your electric bill.
As a Westinghouse executive testified before Congress in1953:
“If you were to inquire whether Westinghouse might consider putting up its own money.., we would have to say ‘No.’ The cost of the plant would be a question mark until after we built it and, by that sole means, found out the answer. We would not be sure of successful plant operation until after we had done all the work and operated successfully….”
Hmmm. Nuclear power was a no-go if 1) private industry had to put up its own money, or 2) it wasn’t guaranteed a profit. This writer’s regular readers might note this seems to be a pretty common business model in the corporate economy.
So the question is not whether the government should ban nuclear power. The question is whether it should stop propping it up.
It is no crime to be ignorant of economics, which is, after all, a specialized discipline and one that most people consider to be a ‘dismal science.’ But it is totally irresponsible to have a loud and vociferous opinion on economic subjects while remaining in this state of ignorance.” – Murray N. Rothbard
by Robert Henderson
When was the last time that your politicians concentrated seriously on British domestic issues? Unable to recall? I’m not surprised because increasingly British politicians spend their time involved with matters foreign. This is partly because of the ever more comprehensive media coverage of world events drives politicians to at least express opinions on every catastrophe, natural or man-made, in the world, but it also occurs because it is politically convenient.
The political convenience has several aspects: it provides an opportunity for politicians to posture on what they fondly imagine is a world stage; it acts as propaganda for the liberal internationalist politics to which all leading British mainstream politicians subscribe and most importantly it provides a distraction from problems at home and the domestic policies of governments and parties, policies which are generally at odds with what the mass of the population believes and wants.
The mainstream media generally supports the liberal internationalist creed of the politicians and they are happy to pump out as much international coverage of turmoil and disaster as they can get because it both makes compelling viewing and they can always present this as evidence that “we are all part of one world” with the politically correct add-on, implied or overt, that “we” should do something to alleviate matters. As a tasty coda the media will, whenever possible, try to imply that “we”, that is, the developed world in general and Britain in particular, are to blame for what misfortune is being covered. The real “we” is of course not the British people but the British elite.
Tied into the national political class are all those who are involved at the international level. This includes the British public servants involved with international matters; politicians engaged at the supra-national level such as MEPs; British bureaucrats attached to the likes of the EU, NATO and the UN and all its agencies; NGOs including charities and multinational companies. All of these have a vested interest in at least seeing that the status quo is maintained and, in the case of the politically motivated who subscribe to “one worldism” and large multinationals, it is in their interest to see that Britain have its sovereignty diluted as far as possible.
That leaves the general public who are constantly being asked by politicians and mediafolk to concentrate on matters over which they have no control and frequently no interest in. This results either in a disengagement from politics generally or a bemused and increasingly stunned concentration on foreign happenings to the exclusion of what is happening or not happening under their noses. It is at best a modern version of bread and circuses.
The upshot is that British politicians are increasingly able to ignore what Britain needs and what its people want. Mass immigration goes unchecked; the EU moves with increasing speed to rob Britain of her remaining sovereign powers; the coalition Government purely for reasons of crude party politics causally calls a referendum (without any minimum turnout) to change Britain’s voting system from one which generally gives a clear electoral decision to one guaranteed to saddle her with more or less perpetual coalition government ; ever more repressive laws are passed both giving the state and police more powers ; political correctness is enshrined ever more deeply in official British life; our armed forces are driven into an ever smaller and more misshapen remnant of what is needed to defend Britain; there is a continuing failure to ensure Britain’s future energy supplies; Britain’s ability to feed itself is rapidly diminishing; England remains without a Parliament unlike the other home countries; English taxpayers money continues to massively subsidise the Celtic Fringe; British taxpayers money is cavalierly given to foreigners, most substantially through Aid; UN funding and to the EU while British public services are culled; the mania for privatisation goes on, most tragically in the NHS; British politicians continue to behave corruptly and venally despite the Parliamentary expenses scandal and the bankers who brought Britain to her present dire financial state remain not only unpunished, not one having even had their limited liability removed let alone criminal charges preferred, but scandalously continuing to draw grotesquely high pay and promoting the same time of insanely risky investment behaviour which caused the present financial turmoil.
Those are the most important issues Britain faces . They are being ignored by Britain’s politicians who increasingly are powerless actors on a stage delivering the words and actions of others. The British public are left as a helpless audience knowing that no matter how loud they boo the show will go on.
This article will chart the rise and fall of the phrase ‘culture shock’ and its central component ‘culture’ in social anthropology. It will argue that the term is ‘culture shock’ and the way it has been treated symbolizes the dominance of irrational ideologies in anthropology. This can be noted in part of the well-known stage model but more significantly in the way that ‘contemporary anthropologists’ have been rejecting it. The article will argue that they are not philosophically justified in their rejection and that their arguments are fallacious. It will show that this rejection of ‘culture shock’ is ultimately underpinned by a form of anti-freedom historicism which aims to displace critical thinking with dogma and it will argue that continuing to use ‘culture shock’ is thus confronting this anti-freedom movement.
An easy answer to the question of nuclear power is to ask what Tony Blair thinks about it. Since he has now said he likes it, and since everything he says or does is bad, we have an answer. I feel, however, this answer might gain by a more formal demonstration.
British Constitution Group News Release, 9th March 2011
The Arrest and Rescue of “Judge” Peake.
By now videos of the events in Birkenhead County Court on 7th March 2011 will have been seen around the world. If one looks closely, they were in the good old British tradition of protest. The people there had gone beyond the “muttering amongst themselves in pubs and at bus stops” stage of discontent with the Establishment, through “someone ought to do something about it” to “I will do something “.
I strongly suspect that for each person present on the day, there were 10″s of thousands who agreed wholeheartedly with them “and felt themselves accursed they were not there” (to quote Shakespeare) and now are looking forward to the next opportunity to publicly express their discontent. And the Establishment knows this too.
The people who were there, and close inspection of the footage will confirm this, were from all walks of life and parts of the UK and shared our traditional values of insisting on fair play whilst maintaining our standards of politeness and good humour. They ranged from a 90 year old granny from Newcastle who can be seen politely putting the hapless Council officials sitting in the front row of the Courtroom right on a few things to some scary looking “Scottish Sovereigns” in full war paint in the Crowd outside.
Do not mistake the volume of sound that the crowd generated with violence. Queues were formed by police and protestors going in and out of the Court. No policeman”s hats were knocked of (a traditional sign of severe discontent amongst the British). Black umbrellas bearing “Lawful Rebellion” stickers were brandished. No-one was hurt.
No one was hurt, except the man in the green fleece jacket who was arrested in the Court as he tried to get to the Judges exit door from the Court in order to prevent his escape. He was handcuffed and his wrists were chaffed. He took it well, vigorously protested his innocence verbally and encouraged his supporters to start a cry of “welease wodger” ( a reference to Roger Hayes and the stuttering Roman official in the Monty Python film “Life of Brian” ). The British sense of humour intact and another warning sign for the Establishment. People are beginning to laugh at them.
While this was going on, behind them can be seen “Judge” Peake ( not on duty until he has confirmed that he is on oath of course) wearing a “modernised” Judicial Robe that looked suspiciously like a long dress and a hint of eye shadow. A sign of a decadent establishment perhaps?
Moments before he had uttered the famous last words ” I did not thing so many people would be interested in your bankruptcy Mr Hayes”. Now a large gentleman in a black jacket was confirming that he was under arrest for treason and contempt of Court and reassuring him that he would not be hurt. The Judge, to give him credit and entering into the spirit of things , apparently said ” I suppose that the case is adjourned. I hand it over to you”. The noise level in the room increased further, and the Judge was bundled out of the room by Court officials. No matter. We know his name and where he works, we can get back to him later. “Escape” is a common law offence but it is the least of his problems.
To clarify the reasons why “Judge” Peake was arrested for those offences. In recent years the Establishment has allowed what that they call the “Administrative Courts” where the common law rules of natural justice do not apply. There are no juries and Judges alone decide guilt or innocence. Some, such as the Children”s and Protection Courts are held in secret. Hearsay evidence from highly paid “expert witnesses” is allowed. Parents may not speak for their children and children may not speak at all. Officials, such as social workers are allowed to give evidence without being put on oath. Halsbury”s Laws of England (the authoritative reference work has this to say about the situation:
“”Notwithstanding that the courts have for centuries exercised a limited supervisory jurisdiction by means of the prerogative writs, the wider remedy of judicial review and the evolution of what is, in effect, a specialist administrative or public law court is a post-war development. This development has created a new relationship between the courts and those who derive their authority from the public law, one of partnership based on a common aim, namely the maintenance of the highest standards of public administration”
In other words, the Courts and the Administration have teamed up behind our backs and invented new rules for themselves but not for us. The law is no longer common to us all. That is the reason why this man refused to acknowledge his common law oath to a Sovereign who swore at Her Coronation to rule according to our laws and customs. He was part of a scheme that was anything but lawful and customary and had caused the death of The Sovereign in the legal sense. That is the definition of Treason.
It was also a contempt of Court, the real common law court. This is the Judgment of the House of Lords that Roger Hayes read to Mr Peake as a test:
” Lord Diplock outlined the various ways in which justice might be prejudiced:
“The due administration of justice requires first that all citizens should have unhindered access to the constitutionally established courts of criminal or civil jurisdiction for the determination of disputes as to their legal rights and liabilities; secondly, that they should be able to rely upon obtaining in the courts the arbitrament of a tribunal which is free from bias against any party and whose decision will be based upon those facts only that have been proved in evidence adduced before it in accordance with the procedure adopted in courts of law; and thirdly that, once the dispute has been submitted to a court of law, they should be able to rely upon there being no usurpation by any other person of the function of that court to decide it according to law. Conduct which is calculated to prejudice any of these requirements or to undermine the public confidence that they will be observed is a contempt of court” (at p. 309).
A-G v. Times Newspapers 1974.
Mr. Peake was part of a scheme to set up fraudulent “Courts” in contempt of the real, common law, Courts. He refused to acknowledge the common law principles that his Oath had been made to and was arrested for treason and contempt of Court.
Then attention turned to the hero of the hour, the man in handcuffs, whose name apparently is Rusty. The young PC (doing his best in trying circumstances but blissfully unaware of what was really going on) who was holding Rusty was prevailed upon by members of the crowd to loosen them. His Sergeant arrived and the WPC who had got in the way of Rusty and the PC trying to handcuff him, explained to the Sergeant what had happened and that she had been assaulted. The Sergeant (clearly an experience man in his prime) who had been spoken to by Rogers”s representative beforehand and knew more of what was going on, entered into the spirit of things. The man in the black coat, whom the “Judge” had handed over the Court to and now was sitting in his chair, was asked to make a decision. “Case Dismissed. Release the prisoner”. It was clear that the knew the drill in Courts from personal experience. The young PC though about it but the sergeant said no. He had a WPC who was claiming that she had been assaulted. The internal grievance procedures, the time off with stress, the application for duties out of contact with the public, the employment tribunals flashed before his eyes. Rusty was coming in (going to the police station).
Then Ray Sinclair (well known in Freeman circles) called the meeting to order and stood on a table. Entering into the spirit of thing (again) the police and public were hushed. Ray had a bit of trouble with the WPC. She did not want to give her name. He referred to her by number. Ray said his piece about “Educating the Constables”. Judging by the expressions on their faces, it was clearly working with some of them. More police arrived. Not having had the benefit of Ray”s advice, they led members of the public out one by one. Rusty was taken to the police station along with some hard core Freemen who insisted on holding onto him. At the time of writing one of them is in Walton Jail for “Contempt of Court” for refusing to give his name. He is another hero.
What the establishment should fear is the fact that three vital common law institutions were resurrected on that day. They are the Grand Jury (in its investigative capacity) the Posse and the Militia.
The Sheriff of Merseyside had been summoned to come to the meeting in Hamilton Square and had failed to appear. A Deputy Sheriff was been elected from amongst those present. He selected a Grand Jury of local people gave them the task of investigating an unlawful Court. When they arrived at the Court building the cry went up “make way for the Jury” and overworked security staffs (who were busily engaged in taking phones and cameras from people who were queuing for the public gallery) cleared a path for them. That is why there were so many video recordings. The security staff, (blissfully unaware of the fact that Juries in all County Court cases were “suspended” during World War II and never reinstated) but understanding British fair play did the right thing.
Meanwhile the Sherriff, acting under the Common Law and the Sheriffs Act 1887, did his duty and called up a posse:
“S.8 (2)If a sheriff finds any resistance in the execution of a writ he shall take with him the power of the county, and shall go in proper person to do execution, and may arrest the resisters and commit them to prison, and every such resister shall be guilty of a misdemeanor….”.
Based on Rogers”s previous experience with Mr. Peake, the Queens Writ was being resisted. Rusty was one of the Posse. They were also briefed on the private persons obligation to arrest offenders and to help other persons who called upon him the help them.
A Captain of the Militia was also elected at the meeting but his services were not required.
The Judge was, in law, “rescued” by the police. Here is the definition of that offence from Archbold:
“Rescue at common law is forcibly liberating a prisoner from lawful custody: 1 Co.Inst. 160; 1 Hale 606, 611; 2 Hawk. c. 21; 1 Russ.Cr., 12th ed., p. 335. If the prisoner is in private custody, the rescuer is not liable criminally unless he knew that the prisoner was in custody on a criminal charge: ibid. The offence is generally treason or misdemeanour according to the quality of the person rescued; but if the latter is not convicted of the offence for which he was in custody, the rescue is only a misdemeanour: ibid…”.
The Chief Constable, who is vicariously liable for the actions of his subordinates, will have to answer a charge of treason. That should get his attention. The problem is that the police have not been properly trained. Treason and the Constitution were quietly removed from the legal and school syllabuses by the establishment 30 years ago. Chapter 45 of Magna Carta addresses this:
“45. We will appoint as justices, constables, sheriffs, or bailiffs only such as know the law of the realm and mean to observe it well….”.
As Ray Sinclair said “I”m trying to educate the constables”. That is what was happening and it was clearly working.
The rest is history. To quote Kipling (and acknowledging that not all who were there were Saxons):
“My son,” said the Norman Baron, “I am dying, and you will be heir
To all the broad acres in England that William gave me for share
When he conquered the Saxon at Hastings, and a nice little handful it is.
But before you go over to rule it I want you to understand this:–
“The Saxon is not like us Normans. His manners are not so polite.
But he never means anything serious till he talks about justice and right.
When he stands like an ox in the furrow – with his sullen set eyes on your own,
And grumbles, ‘This isn’t fair dealing,’ my son, leave the Saxon alone.
“You can horsewhip your Gascony archers, or torture your Picardy spears;
But don’t try that game on the Saxon; you’ll have the whole brood round your ears.
From the richest old Thane in the county to the poorest chained serf in the field,
They’ll be at you and on you like hornets, and, if you are wise, you will yield.
“But first you must master their language, their dialect, proverbs and songs.
Don’t trust any clerk to interpret when they come with the tale of their wrongs.
Let them know that you know what they’re saying; let them feel that you know what to say.
Yes, even when you want to go hunting, hear ‘em out if it takes you all day.
They’ll drink every hour of the daylight and poach every hour of the dark.
It’s the sport not the rabbits they’re after (we’ve plenty of game in the park).
Don’t hang them or cut off their fingers. That’s wasteful as well as unkind,
For a hard-bitten, South-country poacher makes the best man- at-arms you can find.
“Appear with your wife and the children at their weddings and funerals and feasts.
Be polite but not friendly to Bishops; be good to all poor parish priests.
Say ‘we,’ ‘us’ and ‘ours’ when you’re talking, instead of ‘you fellows’ and ‘I.’
Don’t ride over seeds; keep your temper; and never you tell ‘em a lie!”
by Roderick Long
Recently I was rereading Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Land of Hidden Men (first published in 1931 as Jungle Girl, though Burroughs’ own preferred title – with good reason – was Dancing Girl of the Leper King), which I hadn’t read since I was 12 or so. (I also remember one of my classmates telling me with great excitement the story of the book before I’d yet found a copy.)
The novel deals with the discovery of a lost civilisation in the jungles of Cambodia. The phrase “weeping queens on misty elephants” or some variant occurs several times in the text, and at one point we read:
“Weeping queens on misty elephants!” He had read the phrase somewhere in a book. (Burroughs, ch. 2)
The reference to a book struck me as odd, given that the character speaking has just heard the similar phrase “sad-faced queens on ghostly elephants” from a live interlocutor a few pages earlier. Curious as to whether Burroughs was citing a real book, I googled “weeping queens on misty elephants” and quickly found it in Robert J. Casey’s Four Faces of Siva, a 1929 nonfiction (though stylistically novelistic and unscholarly) account of the real-life ruined cities and temples of Cambodia. It is subtitled: The Detective Story of a Vanished Race, for reasons explained as follows:
Here at Angkor was the finest metropolis in Asia – a town whose barbaric splendor is permanently embossed in temple wall and tower and terrace. It was the perfect expression of a race of conquerors and must have been as wealthy as Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar. And yet, for some cause at which the archeologist can only guess, the populace walked out of it and never came back. The jungle moved in and engulfed it for five centuries. (Casey, ch. 2)
This mystery must sound even more chilling to us, in the wake of the Khmer Rouge’s attempted depopulation of Phnom Penh, than it did to Casey.
In any case, I tracked down the book, and as I read through Four Faces of Siva it became clear that I had found not just Burroughs’ source for a particular phrase but his inspiration for the entire novel. In detail after detail – from the red parasols of the royal court and the stylised dances of the apsaras to the fearsome ogrelike Yeacks of the forest and the way in which the king contracts leprosy – as well as in the lush atmosphere that pervades both books, Burroughs appears to be following Casey’s model. Indeed, I suspect that having his protagonist attribute the phrase “weeping queens on misty elephants” to a book rather than to the person he’d just heard it from was Burroughs’ way of tipping his hat to Casey for the idea behind his whole story. The engaging way in which Casey’s book is written makes it unsurprising that its poetic descriptions of towering structures abandoned in forgotten jungles should have captured Burroughs’s imagination – and it is surely owing to the information in Casey’s book that Burroughs’ portrait of an imagined lost Khmer city bears greater verisimilitude and wealth of detail than most of the other lost cities (mostly in Africa) with which he peppered his novels.
For illustration of Casey’s likely influence on Burroughs, note the following passages from Four Faces of Siva:
The Cambodian scout had said that the iron mine trail was not a very good road. This lane, to which the darkness gave the appearance of a moraine between the trees, answered the description to the letter. It was hardly a road at all. Some one had chopped down the tees. But here and there the stumps stood out of the sand and in numerous places the logs lay where they had fallen. … The grass was growing two feet high in the so-called road …. A gully running between steep walls of black rock stretched at right angles across the trail. And that was the finish of the route so far as motor travel was concerned. … The coolies averred that there was no other way across and that there was no real object in looking for one as nothing but jungle lay beyond. …
The guide was summoned from the car. He came reluctantly. The suggestion that the trip be completed afoot struck him as another of those humorous vagaries that one may expect in all of the Pale Ones. He shook his head.
“There are tigers in the jungle,” he said. “There are many tigers there, and wild elephants, and jungle cats that creep up from behind you and kill you. …
And then, too, there is the road. You get lost in the bamboo and nobody ever finds out what happened to you.” (Casey, chs. 24-25)
“Do you know anything of this district? Would you act as our guide if we were to pay you many measures of rice?”
Chan shook his head.
“No,” he answered slowly. “It is not good to go into the woods. The woods are filled with mysterious things. The tiger that hunts by night and the panther that hunts all the time are bad enough. It is not good to affront My Lord the Tiger. … But there are worse things back in the bamboo thickets. The woods are full of ghosts that lead one astray and strike him down with deadly fevers. … There are thousands of them … kings and princes and weeping queens on misty elephants … and priests in robes of gold and soldiers in brass, and millions of men and women and little children driving southward through the jungle. … Armies of them, and they make no sound. … The curse of the high gods is on this forest as it has been for hundreds of years. As far back as my people can remember there has been a curse on the forest. … Else why should the great cities be standing there empty? Why should the people who built them be lying there under the stone mounds asleep?” (Casey, ch. 1)
“Hundreds of years ago,” said Yin, “my people were Khmers. They lived here in this delta – millions of them – and they founded the greatest nation in the world. Up in the north end of the Mekong Valley they built the cities …. Then they were cursed and driven out. They were condemned to walk the face of the world and never to come back. … Here all about us these people lived and tilled the soil and went out to battle on elephants. Millions of them died and were burned and their ashes were strewn endlessly over this region. … Once I had the fever in Saigon and for days I could see the Khmers coming back along this road …. They were thin and weary and naked and had deep string eyes. … I see them again every time I pass this way through the shadows. …” (Casey, ch. 5)
One might have expected tall trees and deep shadows and a refreshing breeze stirring through the bamboo.
Instead there came more gullies and black stagnant pools with rotten logs to clamber over before one could take the risk of crossing them. … And, where the trail persisted, it was merely a dim opening in the woods with the reeds growing up in it so densely that it could hardly be followed. … And low marshy flats, open as a desert, where hot humidity was in the air and lumpy going underfoot … And dusty snake grass beating across one’s face …
There was plenty of animal life in the forest. Red birds circled overhead, screaming at the sight of a white man. … But when one stopped short in the brush the whistling ceased instantly. … Gibbons hurled themselves through the treetops, and now and then came down to examine this new specimen …. Four times in the tortuous maneuvering through the grasses cobras slipped silently across the people, paused long enough to swell out their hoods and decided to give no battle. …
Back in the jungle were crashing noises – falling trees, perhaps, or elephants. Now and then, over the flats, came the smells of the cat house at the zoo – dense as a cloud, a choking, unpleasant wave that recreated every atavistic fear of the tiger and his lesser brethren. (Casey, ch. 25).
And now compare these passages from the opening of Dancing Girl of the Leper King:
“My Lord, I may go no farther,” said the Cambodian.
The young white man turned in astonishment upon his native guide. Behind them lay the partially cleared trail along which they had come. It was overgrown with tall grass that concealed the tree-stumps that had been left behind the axes of the road-builders. Before them lay a ravine, at the near edge of which the trail ended. Beyond the ravine was the primitive jungle untouched by man.
“Why, we haven’t even started yet!” exclaimed the white man. “You cannot turn back now. What do you suppose I hired you for?” …
“There are wild elephants, my lord, and tigers,” replied the Cambodian, “and panthers which hunt by day as well as by night. … There are other things deep in the jungle, my lord, that no man may look upon and live.”
“What, for example?” demanded King.
“The ghosts of my ancestors,“ answered the Cambodian, “the Khmers who dwelt here in great cities ages ago. Within the dark shadows of the jungle the ruins of their cities still stand, and down the dark aisles of the forest pass the ancient kings and warriors and little sad-faced queens on ghostly elephants. Fleeing always from the horrible fate that overtook them in life, they pass forever down the corridors of the jungle, and with them are millions of the ghostly dead that once were their subjects. We might escape My Lord the Tiger and the wild elephants, but no man may look upon the ghosts of the dead Khmers and live.” …
King shrugged his shoulders, stamped out his cigarette and picked up his rifle. “Wait for me here, then,” he said. “I shall be out before dark.”
“You will never come out,” said the Cambodian.
Beyond the ravine, savage, mysterious, rose the jungle, its depth screened from view by the spectral trunks of fromagers and a tangle of bamboo. … The jungle that had at first appeared so silent seemed to awaken at the footfall of the trespasser; scolding birds fluttered above him, and there were monkeys now that seemed to have come from nowhere. They, too, scolded as they hurtled through the lower terraces of the forest.
He found the going more difficult than he had imagined, for the floor of the jungle was far from level. There were gulleys and ravines to be crossed and fallen trees across the way …. The tall grasses bothered him most, for he could not see what they hid; and when a cobra slid from beneath his feet and glided away, he realised more fully the menace of the grasses, which in places grew so high that they brushed his face. …
To his right and a little ahead sounded a sudden crash in the jungle. … Wiping the sweat from his face, he continued on his way …. The air was filled with strange odours, among which was one more insistent than the others – a pungent, disagreeable odour that he found strangely familiar and yet could not immediately identify. Lazy air currents, moving sluggishly through the jungle, occasionally brought this odour to his nostrils, sometimes bearing but a faint suggestion of it and again with a strength that was almost sickening; and then suddenly the odour stimulated a memory cell that identified it. He saw himself standing on the concrete floor of a large building, the sides of which were lined with heavily barred cages in which lions and tigers paced nervously to and fro or sprawled in melancholy meditation of their lost freedom; and in his nostrils was the same odour that impinged upon them now. However, it is one thing to contemplate tigers from the safe side of iron bars, and it is quite another thing to realise their near presence unrestrained by bars of any sort. (Burroughs, ch. 1)
While Casey’s book sheds light on Burroughs’, it raises puzzles of its own. Much of it is written in the style of personal reminiscence, but with careful (even ingenious) avoidance of the first-person pronoun, making it extremely difficult to tell when Casey is reporting his own experiences and when he is reporting, or imaginatively reconstructing, those of others.
In particular, chapters 24 through 26, on the most natural reading, appear to record the author’s own “discovery” of a ruined structure in the Cambodian jungle. (I scare-quote “discovery” for two reasons: first, he located the structure by following native reports, so he wasn’t really the first finder; and second, given some uncertainty about maps, he admits it’s unclear whether he was even the first non-native finder.) But all self-reference is omitted; journeys are begun, distances are traversed, monuments are discovered, but the agency behind these actions is coyly veiled from view, disappearing either into the passive voice or into a metonymy (as lagging feet turn or sweat-blinded eyes seek). The vanishing trick is achieved with beautiful artistry, but its purpose is mysterious and its effect maddening. The absence of the protagonist from the scene of his own actions is as much an enigma as the absence of the Khmer city-builders from their abandoned structures; and I’ve been unable to find any information as to whether his “discovery” was ever confirmed or identified.
by Anna Morgenstern
One of the things that makes political polemics diabolically difficult and often deviously diversionary, is that the propaganda engines of statist society evacuate context and eviscerate content, in order to misinform and manipulate us. That is to say, we are given events in a vacuum, against a field of implicit but never overt ideological assumptions. Once we accept that vacuum, we are at a loss to understand what is really going on, and thus, what to do about it, either tactically or strategically. This background field of assumptions also constrains our known possibilities, making it difficult to choose either ends or means consistently, in the short or long run. And since the assumptions are cleverly embedded, they are rarely challenged. One could call it the mythos of no mythos.
In general, this mythos is cleverly crafted with seeming contradictions but always leading us toward some direction that will aid the ruling class, in a “heads I win, tails you lose” fashion. A look at the US presidential elections of the past 30 years or so is an almost too obvious example. On the one hand you always have a corporate shill, militarist, social conservative who is beholden to Wall Street… and then there’s the Republican candidate.
Yes, Virginia, there are differences between the official “left” and “right”. But those differences are “split” in such a way that one segment of the ruling class benefits no matter who you support. I tend to prefer indirect economic tyranny to direct pseudo-religious pleasure-control tyranny myself, and I suspect most of you would as well, being the shiftless deviants I know and love. It’s still not something to cheer about. The other advantage to our would-be masters of creating two inconsistent, self-contradictory “wings” is that in a democracy they will tend to take turns running things, so each faction of the ruling class gets their chance to be more favored. There’s a war in the heavens, but you’re not invited to the victory dinner. You might even *be* the victory dinner, one way or the other.
As far as I can tell, the two biggest social problems that we have in statist society are War and Poverty. And true to form, they are rarely directly addressed.
Almost all of the social “problems” that the world faces today are a direct or indirect result of poverty. Lack of access to clean drinking water, lack of access to healthcare, crime, even pollution, are all related to poverty. And the political “solutions” that are offered are patchwork stop-gap programs that alleviate one or more of the symptoms of poverty, but are designed to do as little as possible to reduce poverty itself. Many of them create much more poverty in the long run, generating all new problems for the ruling class to “solve”. By advocating a political solution to any of these micro-problems out of context, you are playing into the hands of the ruling class who says, in the manner of Augustine: “Let us eliminate poverty, but not yet”. The most charitable interpretation of political leftism might say that the hope is that by empowering people little by little, they can roll back the ruling class stranglehold on the economy gradually. But as WL Garrison noted about slavery: “Gradualism in theory is perpetuity in practice”. The idea of “soaking the rich” is nonsense. The rich are never going to soak themselves. There can not be a state in which the ruling class act against their own interests wholly and consistently.
In truth, there is very little sentiment or support on the official, political left for policies that would directly damage the corporate elite, by taking away their subsidies and privileges. The reasoning or justification seems to be that “we need the rich to form a tax base to use to help the poor”. The irony would be hilarious, if not for the concrete implications.
The inevitable outcome of course is that the class of poor expands as the middle class gets squeezed and eventually it becomes “too expensive” to keep all the programs keeping the poor comfortable and “austerity measures” are taken. Then when the poor naturally rebel, the official “right” wing will blather about how the poor want to freeload off the middle class, and are willing to take violent measures to do so. Or what? Starve? Live in abject misery? Well, sure, Boss. The “right” loves to talk about the morality of private property, but they don’t really mean it. The rich have no respect for the private property of the poor and middle class. They use that as a would-be club against the poor who have been forced into misery and the middle class who naturally want a piece of the spoils of statist plunder. But when their own interests are threatened, well they’re all for bailouts and government-backed loans and such things. The entire justification for central banking (or quasi-central banking, as in the National Bank Act, long before the vile Federal Reserve existed, or the frequent “suspension of specie payments” before that) is purely and directly “welfare” for the rich. To protect the banking system against systemic failure means allowing banks to loan what is essentially stolen money to rich people for risky ventures that they wouldn’t dare with their own savings. There’s no other way a bank could fail, but it’s never explained that way.
“Intellectual Property” is another form of protectionism for the rich at the expense of the real property of the poor and middle class. They wish to tell you what you can do with your own property on the grounds that they own the content and ideas that are embedded in that property. Because they say so, and they have lawyers, guns and money.
The question to ask is “instead of (pretend) fighting all these social problems associated with poverty, why don’t we just end poverty?” A comfortable man cannot be economically coerced. But that’s exactly what the ruling class is afraid of. They would rather be billionaires in a world with massive poverty than trillionaires in a world with no poverty, because in the latter world, they’re just another person that no one is beholden to, that no one needs in particular. They want to feel important, they want you to depend on them. They want trickle-down economics to be true, and they’ll kill millions of people to see that it is.
Which brings us to the other major problem, War. War accomplishes three main goals for the ruling class. First off, it destroys excess capital and labor outside of the insiders’ walled garden. Secondly, it is a means of coercing renegade members of the ruling class that decide to go too far away from the tacitly accepted ground rules of the game. Thirdly, it mobilizes support for the ruling class domestically. They can justify more intrusion and incursion into the common affairs of “their” citizens during wartime on the grounds that it is an emergency situation, and that these measures are for the good of the citizenry as a whole.
It is the first two benefits which led General Smedly Butler to say “War is a Racket”. It is the third benefit which led Randolph Bourne to say “War is the health of the State”. The fact is that the common people do not benefit from war, even when their particular government “wins”. Some of them will die, all of them will pay, either directly through increased taxes or, more commonly, indirectly, through “deficit spending” which turns into monetary inflation, the most regressive form of taxation (which is why the political “right” prefers it to direct taxation). On top of all this, they suffer the moral devastation of being numbed to the killing of thousands or even millions of people.
So if political solutions cannot overcome the global devastation of poverty and war, what can? Personal autonomy is the only way we can undermine and overthrow the ruling class.
You can’t just up and change the system. But what you can do is subvert it. If enough people subvert things long enough, the system changes de facto. In order to do this, you have to stop buying into the idea that the system as such is legitimate, that it has a claim on your behavior. Subversion, sedition and sabotage. Direct action in pursuit of your goals. Not only does it get results, but it allows you to live like a human being again. You will be, if not entirely free, liberated from the wasteful trap of throwing your life away trying to convince the ruling class to go against their own interests.
by Robert Henderson
What a tremendously thoughtful fellow Dr David Kelly must have been. He supposedly committed suicide by slashing his left wrist, but had the good manners not to bleed too much in case it made a frightful mess. Not only that, doubtless through concern that he should not create any unnecessary work for the authorities, he managed to handle without leaving fingerprints the pruning knife with which he cut his wrist, the three packets of co-proxamol tablets he took to kill the pain, the water bottle he used to take the tablets, his mobile phone and his watch which he took off and left close to his body. As for his failure to leave a suicide note, this can surely only be explained by a career civil servant’s desire not to cause embarrassment or worse to the Government and his civil service colleagues.
Well, that is the class of tosh which the British public has implicitly been asked to believe since Kelly’s death. Unsurprisingly, many people have doubts about whether that the death was suicide. The BBC broadcast a programme on Kelly on 25 February 2007 as part of the series The Conspiracy Files (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/spl/hi/programmes/if/transcripts/david_kelly.txt) . The programme commissioned an Opinion poll to establish the views of the public on his death. 22.7% of those surveyed thought Kelly had not killed himself, 38.8% of people believe he had, and 38.5% said they did not know (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/6366159.stm).
The doubters include the former Conservative leader Michael Howard who in August 2010 called for the inquest to be re-opened in 2010 (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1303190/Michael-Howard-leads-MPs-Dr-David-Kelly-inquest.html) and the Lib Dem MP Norman Baker whose book The Strange Death of David Kelly was serialised in the Daily Mail before publication in November 2007.
A group of doctors who have been trying since 2004 to get the inquest which was adjourned before the Hutton Inquiry resumed . In December 2010 they submitted a petition to the Attorney –General Dominic Grieve asking for the inquest to be resumed. (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1337661/David-Kelly-report.html)
Grieve asked for additional information and the doctors (Stephen Frost, Christopher Burns-Cox, David Halpin and Andrew Rouse) submitted this to Grieve at the end of February 2011. (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1361953/Fingerprint-riddle-leads-new-Dr-David-Kelly-inquest.html).
The additional information, obtained by using the FOIA, confirmed the lack of fingerprints on the knife, drug packets, water-bottle, watch and phone. The absence of fingerprints was not raised during the Hutton Inquiry , nor were any of the five items introduced as evidence.
The absence of the fingerprints produces evidence that Kelly did not kill himself which is in a different category to all the other objections which have been raised which are either matters of opinion or rely on circumstantial evidence such as the failure to introduce seemingly pertinent and important evidence into the Hutton Inquiry . Medical experts may argue over such things as whether the loss of blood together with the ingestion of co-proxamol tablets and moderate heart disease were enough to kill Kelly; whether the half litre water bottle out of which approximately half a pint of water had been drunk was enough water to swallow 29 tablets or whether Kelly was capable of using his right arm to cut himself because of he had broken it some time before his death and it had not healed properly (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1050919/David-Kellys-closest-female-confidante-COULDNT-killed-himself.html)
As for what appears to be a blanket desire on the part of the part of the Blair Government and all those officially associated with the death – the Lord Chancellor, the Oxford coroner, Lord Hutton, the pathologist who conducted the post mortem and so on – to prevent an inquest and/or ensure that the Hutton Inquiry could have only one result, namely, that Kelly committed suicide, that in itself does not mean their motives were to prevent the discovery of a murder for there could plausibly be other reasons. Suppose, for example, at Kelly had received credible death threats from a security agency either foreign or British.
The reported absence of fingerprints, if it is true, is a fact. It cannot be gainsaid or argued away. Because no gloves were found at the site where the body was found, Kelly’s fingerprints should have been on these items, especially the knife which he must have held for some time if he committed suicide because his left wrist showed a number of cuts and cutting an artery in the wrist requires .
Where does this leave us? Investigation work is best done by sticking to the hard facts and then following the logic from them to possibilities. The central hard fact in this case is not that Kelly’s fingerprints were missing from the five objects , but the fact that the British authorities say they were not on the various objects. This gives us two possibilities, that the authorities are telling the truth or lying. If they are lying we are left with these possibilities:
1. Kelly’s prints are on all or some of the objects but there is some reason, such as someone else’s prints being on some or all of the items, especially the knife, for saying Kelly’s prints were not on them. This might seem odd but think about it. If there are other prints, to admit that Kelly’s prints were on them would open the way to admitting that other prints had been found. That would be difficult going on impossible to explain if they were the prints of anyone other than those who had who might conceivably have handled them shortly before his death. Kelly’s wife would probably be the only person who falls into that category. The worst case scenario for the authorities would be the finding of a third party’s prints which were identifiable as those of either a known hitman or an agent of a security service either British or foreign. If Kelly’s prints and those of a stranger were found, the suppression of the evidence would potentially require criminal behaviour – perjury, perverting the course of justice, forgery – on the part of those who tested for prints and those who knew what had been found. There would also be the problem of the possibility that the objects might be the subject of independent testing at some future date. The authorities would then have to decide whether to wipe or destroy the objects.
2. Kelly’s prints are on some but not all of the objects. For example, he might have been forced to take the co-proxamol. This could have resulted in fingerprints on the water-bottle and the packets of co-proxamol or simply fingerprints on the water-bottle if the killer(s) took the tablets from the packets and gave them to Kelly. If the killer(s) then slashed Kelly’s wrist it is plausible that whoever did it cut a number of times with ever deepening cuts because they were unsure of how to do it. (It would be interesting to see the angle of the cuts. It made by someone other than Kelly they would probably be at an angle Kelly could not have achieved.) The fact that the watch has blood on it would fit in with this explanation, because having blood on it after it was removed from the wrist suggests that whoever cut Kelly’s wrist began cutting with the watch on, then took it off when they found it impeded the cutting. This could also explain why a number of cuts were made. Alternatively, if Kelly’s prints are on the knife, he could have been forced to make the cuts.
3. Kelly’s prints are on none of the objects, but the prints of other people are. This could mean that Kelly was restrained when taking the co-proximal tablets and the packets were opened by his killer(s) who put the tablets into his mouth then fed him with water to facilitate swallowing.
There remains the possibility that no fingerprints are on the items. If so, that would mean the killer(s) did what that described in (3) but wore gloves.
The objects, if they still exist, should be subjected to independent forensic testing. Apart from determining whether there are any prints, this could potentially show if the items were wiped to erase prints – examine them under high magnification to look for wipe marks; test for chemicals which would indicate cleaning – and allow a check for DNA. Even if the items were DNA checked at the time of death, and I have been unable to find out whether they were, the technique for extracting useful DNA has advanced considerably since Kelly’s death and minute amounts of material can now be used.
If it was a murder why were so many loose ends left untied? The favourite explanation would be simple incompetence. The killers remembered not to leave their own prints but forgot to put Kelly’s prints on the knife etc. It does not do to imagine hired killers always behave as they normally do in films, that is, calm and calculating with no tendency to panic.
If you want a Machiavellian explanation here are a few. The “suicide” might have been deliberately botched to either embarrass the British Government or to send out the message to others “behave or else!” . Alternatively, suppose the murder was committed by a friendly power, for example, the US or Israel, who wished to disguise their involvement by introducing a bogus incompetence into the affair. Or how about introducing the incompetence simply to confuse matters so that a number of potential agencies with differing motives might be suspected? It might even be that the murder was carried out by the British security services, but they were not happy with doing it and deliberately botched the job in the hope that the public would see it was a killing not suicide.
The thing we do not know is what was the cause of Kelly’s death. The slashing of the wrist and the co-proxamol tablets could simply be a blind to cover another way to death, perhaps by some difficult to identify poison. This is suggested by the evidence of the doctors who have expressed doubts about whether the loss of blood, the co-proxamol and the heart condition would have been sufficient to kill Kelly. It could even be that Kelly was abducted and the shock of either being forced to cut his wrist or having it cut for him caused him to die. This could explain why little blood was lost. It could even be that the true cause of death was found and has been suppressed.
It is not certain that Kelly was murdered. What is certain is that the Hutton Inquiry was a woefully inadequate investigation into the man’s death. An inquest is the least which is required. Kelly’s body was buried not cremated so a further post mortem could be carried out prior to an inquest. Amongst other things, another post mortem might give a certain answer to whether Kelly had the strength in his right arm to make the cuts which supposedly killed him.
by The Devil
Questions to which the answer is “no” DK mascot and all-round good chap Steve Baker MP raised a very pertinent question during the debate for the Protection of Freedoms Bill…
Will my right hon. Friend reassure the House that at the end of this process the number of powers will be sufficiently small and simple that home owners will be able to determine for themselves whether someone who knocks on the door has a right to enter?
In 2007, Crossing The Threshold [PDF], a report from the Centre for Policy Studies, identified 266 separate powers under which the minions of the state (who are, supposedly, our minions) could enter a person’s home—by force if necessary.
If the bee police don’t get you, the hedge inspectors will. A new study has identified 266 laws that give powers not only to the police but to a wide array of government functionaries and council officers to enter private homes, by force if necessary.
Many measures such as antiterrorism laws are justified, according to the researchers. But they argue others have been passed by parliament with little thought given to how, cumulatively, state authority over private homes is being expanded.
Failure to allow an official into a garden who is mandated to inspect hedge heights can lead to a £1,000 fine; it is also an offence to resist inspectors sniffing out “foreign” bees. It is deemed even more serious — worth a £2,500 fine — if a householder attempts to bar entry to someone authorised by the chief inspector of schools to root out unlicensed child-minders.
Harry Snook, a barrister who carried out the research, published today by the Centre for Policy Studies, the centre-right think tank, said: “Originally this kind of law would be used for basic security services or contrac-tual disputes of property. The overwhelming dominant use is now by governmental regulatory agencies and local authorities.”
He warned: “Many powers are drafted so broadly the citizen has little or no protection if officials behave officiously or vindictively.”
Although, of course, we all know that state officials only exist to benefit the people of the UK and that they would never “behave officiously or vindictively”, the fact that the state has granted these people dominion over your property so readily is a cause for concern—though hardly a surprise.
By 2009, this shocking figure had been updated by Big Brother Watch: their report—Barging In [PDF]—identified over 1,000 excuses that state officials could use to enter your property.
Research conducted by Big Brother Watch – the new campaign fighting intrusions on privacy and protecting liberties – reveals that there are at least 14,793 officers in 73 per cent of local councils in Britain who can enter private property without requiring a warrant or police escort
Top lines from the research (full report including breakdown by local authority available here [PDF]) include:
- There are at least 14,793 officers in local councils nationwide who can enter private property without requiring a warrant or police officer escort
- That is equal to 47 officers in every local authority in Britain able to enter homes and workplaces
- Given that 115 (27 per cent) local councils either refused to answer our FOI requests, or failed to answer in an acceptable manner, this figure could be much higher and indeed be as high as 20,000 council officers in Britain
- Northamptonshire County Council and Glasgow City Council have the most officers able to enter your home with almost 500 each
These powers were granted under a mixture of primary and secondary legislation—and the Tories promised to cut these powers back.
The powers, which include 753 under primary legislation and 290 under secondary legislation, were identified as part of the review being carried out by Lord West and called for by Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
The Tories said 414 of the powers had been introduced by Labour since 1997 and that a further 16 were included in legislation currently before Parliament. Shadow communities and local government secretary Eric Pickles claimed it was evidence that the “rights and liberties of law-abiding citizens” were being eroded and said a Conservative government would cut back the powers.
Mr Pickles said: “It is clear that Gordon Brown is now backing away from his pledge to tackle the Government’s spiralling powers of entry, with a barrage of Labour laws before Parliament entrenching and extending the Orwellian surveillance State.
“We need measures to tackle crime and terrorism, but the abuse of surveillance powers by town halls shows the real danger of function creep by State bureaucrats.”
Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti said: “Powers of entry are completely out of hand. The Prime Minister promised that they would have to pass a ‘liberty’ test—well Liberty with a large ‘L’ says they don’t for lack of proportionality and judicial supervision.
“If someone wants to inspect my potted plants, they can jolly well ask a judge first.”
So one would imagine that Home Harridan Secretary Theresa May’s response to Steve Baker’s question would be an unequivocable “yes”, wouldn’t one? Alas, it is not.
That would certainly be our aim and we will try to ensure that home owners are well aware of exactly who has a right of entry to their property.
A charitable person might describe Theresa’s answer as “aspirational”: your humble Devil has long since abandoned the practice of attempting to be charitable to politicians, and I shall thus describe her reply as a piece of mealy-mouthed obfuscation.
You see, we all have aims—some are definite and some are rather more far-fetched: if asked whether, for instance, I intended to climb Mount Everest before I die, I might reply that it “would certainly be [my] aim” were I not allergic to undertaking any kind of unnecessary exercise whatsoever; I might also add that it “would certainly be [my] aim” is I had any inclination to do it, but I don’t.
As for the second part of her statement… well, if the Tories advertised a website with a list of the 1,000+ reasons that some 20,000 officials can force their way into your home, they could be said to have tried “to ensure that home owners are well aware of exactly who has a right of entry to their property”.
There’s much in the Bill to be glad about and I shall certainly support it but of course I would have liked it to do more. I discover that many of my colleagues are less concerned about these issues than I might have liked: we have come a long way since Pitt, Gladstone and Disraeli.
For example, from Pitt:
Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.
Like Steve says, this Bill is a step in the right direction and, generally, I welcome it.
However, it does not even undo much of NuLabour’s authoritarian and intrusive laws—instead focusing on minor issues such bloody clamping, for god’s sake: as such, assuming that this Bill passes, we will still be considerably less free than we were 13 years ago.
One cannot help but think that the very name of the Bill—the Protection of Freedoms Bill—creates an overly high expectation. Such a high-faluting name conjures up visions of a fundamental Bill of Rights, which this piece of legislation most definitely is not.
The Vietnam War has been the inspiration for several fine films, but the best-known (and arguably the best) is probably Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 Academy, Palme D’Or and Golden Globe-winning Apocalypse Now (the best version of which is 2001’s Apocalypse Now Redux). The film’s status was recognized in 2000, when it was selected by the US Library of Congress as “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” Apocalypse is one of the great cinematic experiences for all who have ever doubted the cults of progress; or wondered about the durability of civilization.
The production of Apocalypse was notoriously difficult and protracted (leading one commentator to ask “Apocalypse When?”), running grossly over budget—which in retrospect seems curiously appropriate for a film of its theme and scope. Martin Sheen plays Benjamin L. Willard, a traumatized but proficient US Special Forces captain. We meet him first in a seedy Saigon hotel, where he has been spending his R&R time getting drunk (during the filming, Sheen was a self-described alcoholic, and also suffered a near-fatal heart attack), in a vain attempt to erase the horrific images that are playing on constant loop in his head—women screaming in perpetuity, men forever falling dead, forests and villages eternally erupting in napalm Technicolor. He is dragged forcibly back into the present for another unorthodox, unacknowledged mission.
Colonel Walter E Kurtz (Marlon Brando) is a brilliant soldier who has gone permanently AWOL, not just from the US military but also from conventional morality, secreting himself in the remote jungle on the wrong side of the Cambodian border with a troop of fanatically loyal soldiers who apparently treat him as a demi-God. Like Conrad’s original (Apocalypse Now is based loosely on Heart of Darkness), Kurtz has set himself up as an absolutist arbiter, a man-who-would-be-king, earning a reputation for casual cruelty that has shocked even the Pentagon. The military establishment and the CIA have decided that Kurtz has become a liability and they want him “terminated with extreme prejudice.” A previously dispatched assassin has apparently thrown in his lot with Kurtz, so it is up to Willard to take a Navy boat up the Nung River into danger from more than just the Viet Cong. While Willard is receiving his orders, the camera dwells for a moment on a recent newspaper, with headlines about Charles Manson.
As they set off, the film’s soundtrack is The Doors’ song The End, which is reprised at the climax. And it is the end—the end of seeming normalcy, as the little boat chugs gallantly upstream into a maelstrom of savagery, to the incongruous soundtrack of The Rolling Stones and the rich aroma of cannabis. The boat has a beautifully realized crew of highly charged men of different ages, backgrounds and temperaments. There are two black men, George “Chief” Phillips (Albert Hall), the capable and conventional launch captain, and Tyrone “Mr. Clean” Miller (Laurence Fishburne), an irritatingly hyperactive 17 year old from the Bronx whom Phillips seeks vainly to protect. There is also Engineman Jay Hicks (Frederic Forrest), a chef from New Orleans, a fizzing bundle of nervous energy who seems to be always on the verge of breakdown, and Lance B. Johnson (Sam Bottoms), in peacetime a championship surfer, superficially more phlegmatic but like the rest of the crew concealing unsuspected depths and shallows of personality.
As they proceed, between alternately helicopter-strafed or tree-hung banks full of brooding malice (or, perhaps even worse, nothing but the indifferent emptiness of never disturbed forest), they bicker, remonstrate, jostle and joke inside and between themselves, ferreting out each other’s weak spots and plumbing each other’s depths, at times of danger finding a short-term solidarity, temporarily united against a uniformly dangerous country. The tiny boat is an ampoule of all America, in all its late Sixties existential confusion, alternately joining in with the wider military effort, or absorbedly pursuing its own murderous mission against a lush stage set of less focused murderousness.
The crew encounter others pursuing their own agendas, most notably Robert Duvall’s compelling Colonel Kilgore of the elite 101st Airborne, a charismatic, dynamic, effective officer adored by his men as much for his flamboyance (Stetson hat, surfboard always at the ready, The Ride of the Valkyries playing over loudspeakers as the choppers power in towards “Charlie” from out of the sun) as for his genuine concern with his soldiers’ welfare. (The Philippine Air Force helicopters used for filming were periodically taken off-set by President Marcos to deal with real-life rebels.) Kilgore is obviously off-base—“I love the smell of napalm in the morning,” he exults famously. “It smells like victory.”
Apart from Kilgore, there is also the nameless black soldier at an advanced US outpost, who alone amongst the pot-smoking GIs, the raucous, vacuous broadcast pop music, the pointless explosions and the blind machine-gunning into the vigilant darkness, has got control of himself—coolly placing his rifle grenades in just the right place, to silence satisfactorily taunting VC interlopers. There are the impresarios from States-side, who have shipped in American women to entertain the testosterone-laden troops and who use them essentially as prostitutes to obtain fuel and other favours from the military. And then there are the tough French colonialists, an islet of fine linen, imported wine and clean fingernails under the encroaching trees, grimly holding onto their ancestral plantations less for financial or even family reasons than as a means of forgetting the national and racial humiliation of Dien Bien Phu.
In times of total war, we are shown, all morals and all modes of life are thrown into permanent confusion. All the various combatants are at least slightly crazed—cauterized by circumstances none of them caused, trapped in a hellish here-and-now without point, and without any hope of “victory” (whatever that might mean). Their virtues—dutifulness, courage, self-reliance—are at odds with the new Soixante-huitard West. As he meets and marvels at these people, all focused but yet all also somehow adrift, Willard gradually realizes that he and they and even Kurtz have more in common than he would like to think. They are all susceptible to a Lord of the Flies-like reversion to the prehistoric, premoral mean, where only might can ever be indubitably right, and that only until something even mightier comes along. The launch’s journey towards the tree-concealed source of the Nung (the river’s monosyllabic name itself sounding like a primordial forest demon) is a journey into the tangled human past. Kurtz’s UDI is merely the logical conclusion of a process that is utterly without logic or meaning—a mere chapter in a war of all against all. It is in some ways a self-realization of everything’s senselessness.
The boat’s crew shoots up an innocent civilian boat in a fit of panic, and crewmembers are killed along the way. The crewmen find unsuspected strengths as well as weaknesses within themselves, as they are winnowed by war. If there is any comfort to be gleaned from the unrelieved bleakness, it is that the seemingly substandard may come good under fire, and that there can be a strange symmetrical beauty in simply following duty.
Eventually they get to their destination, only to find that in some respects they have been there all along. Kurtz may glory in displaying the heads of his enemies on pointed sticks, but is he much worse than the suited politicians back home who in what passes for their hearts care nothing for human collateral damage, and who have so coldly consigned a country to such a Day of Judgement in pursuit of an unattainable objective? Kurtz’s excesses are lovingly (and believably) chronicled by Dennis Hopper, as an awestruck American photojournalist, whose attitude towards Kurtz resembles Walter Duranty’s abasement before the Soviets, or the Guardian writers who queued up to pay homage to Robert Mugabe in the 1970s.
One of the surviving crew members throws in his lot with Kurtz’s “tribe,” while Willard is taken prisoner, and is compelled to listen to Kurtz’s memorable monologues in the darkness of his hut, the hairless Kurtz monstrous in the shadows like a bloated Nosferatu. Willard is totally powerless and without resource, as is horribly demonstrated when on another occasion he is tied to a stake in the unremitting rain, and a camouflaged Kurtz sneaks up to him out of the torrential night bearing the severed head of the only surviving trustworthy crew member.
Yet despite his omnipotence, for some unexplained reason Kurtz never orders Willard’s execution; instead, he seems to expect that Willard will kill him in due course, as if he wants to be killed. And so eventually Willard does; while Kurtz’s troops are ceremonially sacrificing a water buffalo (Coppola’s cameras captured a real ceremonial killing), the other once-powerful, now overpowered beast submits to the machete, saying at the end only
“The horror . . . the horror”
in one of the few literal borrowings from Conrad.
Even as he leaves Kurtz’s hideout openly, “proved” right because he has proved to be physically stronger, Kurtz’s acolytes are suddenly silent, seemingly already drifting back to real life, their eyes suddenly clearer, shaking their puzzled heads as if wondering where they have been all this time. Willard gets back to the river, taking with him the sole, abashed survivor of the crew—heading back down, the viewer hopes but does not expect, towards survival and maybe even some semblance of peace. But even if he finds peace, he and we know it will be at best an armed truce—a respite before the next installment of apocalypse.
Time: 07/03/2011, 7:15 pm
Place: Iain Dale Show on LBC
Speaker: Dr Sean Gabb, Director of the Libertarian Alliance
Question: Are there any limits to freedom of speech?
Sean Gabb says no, there are no limits. People should be at liberty to say whatever they please about public issues, no matter how offensive it may be to others. This applies to Moslems who want to burn Armistice Day poppies. It also applies to anyone who wants to burn copies of the Koran.
Protestors storm Birkenhead county court and attempt to arrest judge
Mar 7 2011 by Liam Murphy
CHAOTIC scene broke out at Birkenhead county court today after demonstrators attempted to arrest a judge and then took over a court.
They were at court for a case brought by Wirral Council against Roger Hayes for non payment of council tax.
Mr Hayes questioned the legitimacy of the court and then attempted to arrest district judge Michael Peake.
The judge was quickly ushered out of court room one and then demonstrators took it over – one even taking the judge’s seat.
Police reinforcements arrived and an hour-long stand off occurred.
Hamilton, Market and Hinderton Streets were closed off, and police formed a cordon outside the court while hundreds of protectors gathered outside.
Sean is a hit in Germany!
Seit ein paar Tagen ist die neue Ausgabe von „eigentümlich frei“ auf dem Markt. Das Magazin ist der unbestrittene Marktführer in Sachen politisch unkorrekt. So ist auch das März-Heft wieder empfehlenswert. Den Schwerpunkt bildet die sogenannte „Arabische Revolution“. Den Leser erwartet nicht die übliche Märchenstunde. Herauszuheben ist einmal mehr Sean Gabb, der deutlich macht: Es wird sich in Ägypten und im übrigen Raum nichts ändern:
„Vermutlich wird ein älterer und ziemlich verwestlichter Mensch der nächste Präsident sein. Er wird jedem, der zuhört, schöne Versprechungen machen. Natürlich wird er seine Anweisungen aus Washington entgegennehmen. Es wird sich nicht viel verändern, und er wird sich einige Monate halten. Falls er intelligent ist oder Glück hat oder beides, könnte er auch ein paar Jahre schaffen. Aber die einende Kraft in Ägypten ist die Religion. Früher oder später werden genug Menschen meinen, dass der Islam die Antwort ist. Das wird das Ende amerikanischer Versuche bedeuten, den Volkswillen zu lenken.“
Sehr gut auch der Beitrag über die Subventionskultur von Jörg Janssen. Das wäre auch eine Forderung für die Pro Bewegung in Berlin: Die Streichung der unsinnigen Kultursubventionen, die zur Müllflut im Kulturbetrieb führt. Kultursubventionen sind ungefähr so sinnvoll wie Entwicklungshilfe: „Subventionen fördern immer Dinge am Bedarf der unfreiwilligen Zahler vorbei. Jeder Anbieter, der sich von den Zahlungen der Politik abhängig macht, wird verkümmern, den Anschluss verlieren, misswirtschaften und nach immer mehr Subventionen rufen. So auch die Kunst.“
Einige Beiträge sind auch auf der Netzpräsenz der Zeitschrift zu lesen.
Sean Gabb (his website HERE) has written an absolutely peachy novel here. It’s one of those that you read in one sitting if you have time. I haven’t done that since Mother Night. Anyhow, you’ll like it if you’re a history buff, or if you like alternate history, or if you just like a nice tight suspense novel with a little deadpan Brit humor here and there in it. I’d review it, but Neil Smith already has, better than I could. Read it HERE.
Sean Gabb, director of the Libertarian Alliance and prolific author and commentator on British politics and society, has written a novel of mayhem, adventure, and alternate history: The Churchill Memorandum.
I don’t know Sean Gabb personally, but I have read other works on his recommendation (notably those of Richard Blake), so when the review copy of his novel arrived, I dove into it with great anticipation and devoured it in one afternoon, taking assiduous notes between incredulous outbursts of ‘He just… did he really just do that? WTF?’ Anyone who has read the novel will probably recognise this frequent reaction.
Even though this was several weeks ago, I waited to publish this review because I had a feeling, which turned out to be correct, that the novel would be somewhat controversial. In that interval, Gabb has been accused of being, variously, anti-American and an English national socialist, all because in his novel the United States is a fascist horrorville and Hitler wasn’t a mass murderer. As an American myself, I’m rather more sensitive than others to whiffs of anti-Americanism, and I didn’t get any as I was reading. I certainly don’t think Gabb is an apologist for Hitler or the Nazis. And I suspect that to make these sort of assumptions about an author based on the characters or settings in his novels is to indulge in more than one cognitive bias.
Sometimes, a novel is just a novel.
Or, in this case, a crazy drug-trip into an alternate universe where Hitler dies in a car accident in 1939, the pound sterling is still sound money in 1959, and Winston Churchill ‘did nothing big after Gallipoli.’ Be thankful for this back-cover exposition, because you, the reader, are a genius. If you know nothing about Europe of the Second-World-War era, expect to spend half your reading time delving around the murkier recesses of La Wik.
Our hero is half-caste Anthony Markham, historian of the feeble sideshow that is Churchill in this universe and unwitting possessor of a document that numerous plotters, including Germans and Indians who smell persistently of curry, desperately want to get their hands on.
Why do I characterise the book as a crazy drug-trip when others have described it as ‘Hitchockian’ and ‘noirer than noir’ (which I’ll also buy)? It’s hard to say without giving too much away, but here are a few bullet points to whet the appetite, or bring smiles to the faces of those who have read it:
The importance of the titular document is wholly drowned in the gunfights, the multi-transport chases and escapes, the sheer insanity of staid types you once knew and loved such as Harold Macmillan—who, incidentally, tries to corral the main character just as said hero has been mistaken for a Labour Party candidate in a town hall meeting and is delivering a triumphant speech:
‘Brothers, let it never be said that the Labour Party was at all exclusive in its welcome to speakers. You’ve heard me put the socialist case for our national future. If you want to hear the other side, be aware that our Foreign Secretary—Harold Macmillan himself—is standing just outside this room, and is waiting to answer all your questions in person.’
Cue the mob.
Markham’s publisher’s daughter and a mysterious Major who doesn’t officially exist are also part of the dastardly plot, and Enoch Powell turns out to be the shadowy badass whom all the plotters fear.
Y’all, this book is further down the rabbit-hole than Alice, and I dearly wish that instead of a review wherein I praise the author for his audacity and imagination, I was publishing verbatim the notes I took. You would not believe this book.
That said, there are some deep author-avatar moments, and without doubt Gabb can create characters who are horrifyingly realistic. Markham, protagonist and first-person narrator, is a remarkably unsympathetic character, callous and cowardly by turns and buffeted along by events entirely out of his control. His attempts to take refuge in a sense of loyalty or duty to his country are constantly shown up as stupidity by people who possess neither, and his actions neither drive the plot nor resolve it. Much like real people, in fact, warts and all. And the realism is necessary in light of the fact that most of the other players stepped straight out of a Bond film.
More importantly, the more you hear from Markham, the more you realise that despite having access to his internal monologue, you do not know this guy at all. There is no mention of friends, family, background, previous life, or romantic involvements (apart from whoever gave him Chekhov’s Buttcheek.) His thoughts revolve around two things: nebulous politics and immediate circumstances. He’s like a random guy in a pub telling you a random story, and when you stagger out you’re none the wiser.
To me, this makes him possibly the most unreliable narrator in fiction. This is what really makes the novel worth reading, though of course it is exciting and inventive as well. But I feel compelled to draw your attention to the fact that the insanity all starts in chapter six, and when you remember what Markham does at the end of chapter five, well…
…that’s my theory. And I’m sticking to it.
Free Life Commentary,
A Personal View from
The Director of the Libertarian Alliance
Issue Number 205
1st March 2011
How Long Before Christians are
Actively Persecuted in England?
by Sean Gabb
I think it would be useful to begin this article with a brief statement of the facts. Eunice and Owen Johns are an elderly couple from Derby, who fostered a number of children in the 1990s, and who recently offered their services again to Derby City Council. Their offer was rejected on the grounds that, as fundamentalist Christians, they might teach any children in their keeping that homosexual acts were sinful. They took legal action against the Council, arguing that their beliefs should not be held against them. On the 28th February 2011, judgment was given against them in the High Court. The Judges ruled that, where the laws against discrimination are concerned, sexual minorities take precedence over religious believers. Because Mr and Mrs Johns might not remain silent about sexual ethics, there was a danger to the “welfare” of children taken from their homes by the Council.
The Judges insisted that this did not represent a “blanket ban” on the fostering of children by religious believers. There was no issue involved of religious liberty – no precedent being set for wider discrimination by the authorities. It was simply a matter of child welfare. You can read all this for yourself on the BBC website.
I think we can take it as read that the Judges were talking hot air about the nature of the precedent they were setting. There is already a modest but settled ruling class bias in this country against Christianity. This does not extend, so far as I can tell, to Jews and Moslems. But the bias does certainly apply to fundamentalist Christians, especially when it is a matter of what they believe and might say about homosexuality. Yesterday, they were barred from fostering, and perhaps also from adoption. It is only a matter of time before they are barred from teaching. It is conceivable that they will eventually be classed – on account of their beliefs – as unfit parents and will have their children taken away from them. Before that happens, of course, there will be laws against home education, and an inquisition in the schools of what they have been telling their children.
This is my most important observation arising from the case. The issues in themselves are not at all to my taste. I dislike the idea of fostering. There are times, I accept, when people are so violent or negligent that children must be taken away for their own protection. In these few instances, though, I prefer that children should be kept in orphan asylums or offered for adoption. The present system allows immense numbers of children to be snatched away by social workers – often for trivial, and even perhaps for corrupt, reasons – and then put into the temporary care of strangers. I will not deny that many foster parents do as fine a job as circumstances allow. Probably, Mr and Mrs Johns were good foster parents in the 1990s, and would have been again. Even so, those who volunteer as foster parents are giving support to a system that is mostly used to steal children who are in no reasonable danger.
Also, I oppose all anti-discrimination laws. People have rights to life, liberty and property. Deriving from these are the specific rights to freedom of speech and association, and to due process of law. No one has the right not to be hated or despised, or not to be excluded. People have the right to hate or despise anyone they happen to take against, and – so long as they refrain from any breach of the rights mentioned above – the right to put their beliefs into action. While there is good reason for insisting that the authorities should not discriminate, I fell no general sympathy for people who make use of anti-discrimination laws to get their way.
But, this being said, I return to the matter of our ruling class bias against Christians. Why? Why should Christians be so disliked? Why should Christian hoteliers be persecuted for refusing to take in homosexual guests, or refusing to let them occupy double beds? Why should Christians not be protected – given our apparently comprehensive anti-discrimination laws – when forbidden to wear crosses at work? Why should banknotes be printed with pictures on them of Charles Darwin? The facts that Darwin was a great man, and that I think he was right about evolution, are beside the point. For very large number of British citizens, he was a gross blasphemer. Why are the few British colonies that remain being ordered to remove any reference to Christianity from their constitutions? Why do many local authorities keep trying to rename Christmas as Winterval? Why is there so much evidence, both anecdotal and on the record, of an official bias against Christianity?
One answer, I suppose, is the current power of the homosexual lobby. The prejudice against homosexuality that has existed throughout much of European history is blamed – perhaps unjustly – on the Christian Faith. Certainly, Christian leaders were, until very recently, forthright in their condemnation of homosexual acts, and they opposed the legalisation of such acts. There are many homosexual activists on the lookout for historical revenge, and who are making use of every law that now stands in their favour.
But I am not satisfied by this explanation. It is impossible to know how many homosexuals there are – especially since sexual preference is a spectrum on which most people cluster far from the extremes. But there are not that many embittered homosexual anti-Christians. If they are being listened to at the moment, I do not believe it is because they are powerful in themselves. They are getting a hearing because what they say is what those in power want to hear.
We are moving towards a persecution of Christianity because Christians believe in a source of authority separate from and higher than the State. Until recently, it was the custom of absolute states to make an accommodation with whatever church was largest. In return for being established, the priests would then preach obedience as a religious duty. Modern absolute states, though, are secular. Such were the Jacobin and the Bolshevik tyrannies. Such is our own, as yet, mild tyranny. In all three cases, religion was or is a problem. Though a Catholic, Aquinas speaks for most Christians when he explains the limits of obedience:
Laws are often unjust…. They may be contrary to the good of mankind… either with regard to their end – as when a ruler imposes laws which are burdensome and are not designed for the common good, but proceed from his own rapacity or vanity; or with regard to their maker – if, for example, a ruler should go beyond his proper powers; or with regard to their form – if, though intended for the common good, their burdens should be inequitably distributed. Such laws come closer to violence than to true law…. They do not, therefore, oblige in conscience, except perhaps for the avoidance of scandal or disorder. (Summa Theologiae, I-II, 96, 4, my translation)
Bad laws do not bind in conscience. And there may be times when even the avoidance of scandal or disorder do not justify public obedience. Then, it will be the duty of the Faithful to stand up and say “No!” It will be their duty to disobey regardless of what threats are made against them. Any ruling class that has absolutist ambitions, and is not willing or able to make an accommodation with the religious authorities, will eventually go too far. It will command things that cannot be given, and then find itself staring into a wall of resistance. The French Revolutionaries were taken by surprise. The Bolsheviks knew exactly what they were doing when they hanged all those priests and dynamited those churches. Our own ruling class also knows what it is doing. The politically correct lovefeast it has been preparing for us throughout my life requires the absolute obedience of the governed – absolute obedience to commands that no fundamentalist Christian can regard as lawful. Therefore, the gathering attack on Christianity.
As said, this does not yet apply to the other religions. The Jews are untouchable. Besides, religious Jews are a minority within a minority, and involve themselves in our national life only so far as is needed to separate themselves from it. The Moslems and others are not really considered part of the nation. Otherwise, they are considered objective allies of the new order under construction. Otherwise, no one wants to provoke them to rioting and blowing themselves up in coffee bars. But it goes without saying that other believers must eventually be persecuted should the Christians ever be humbled.
I think this explains what is happening. Whatever the case, it is wrong. Now, the accepted rule for defending any unpopular group is to begin with a disclaimer – for example: “I am not myself a Christian/homosexual/white nationalist, etc. Indeed, I bow to no man in the horror and disgust these people inspire in my heart.” There are further protestations that depend on the circumstances. But the concluding plea is the same: “It is therefore only out of a possibly misguided commitment to Victorian liberalism that I ask for these people not to suffer the extreme penalties of law. All else aside, it sets an unwise precedent that may be used one day against undoubtedly good people.”
Well, I do not propose to make this sort of defence. I am a Christian of sorts, and I think that even fundamentalist Christianity is a very fine religion. It is the historic faith of my country, and part of my national identity. It is also connected, however loosely, with the growth of civility and the rule of law. I do not like to see it persecuted. And the persecution is wrong in itself. I may not have a clear message to give about the refusal to let two elderly Pentecostalists become foster parents. But I do object to the creeping delegitimisation of the Christian Faith in England. Any Christian who is willing to stand up and speak in the terms set by Thomas Aquinas gets my support.
But now – and only now – that I have said this, I will talk about precedents. Sooner or later, the present order of things will come to an end. It is based on too many false assumptions about human nature. It is based, indeed, on too many misapprehensions about the natural world. In the short term – even without pointing guns at them – people can be bullied into nodding and smiling at the most ludicrous propositions. In the longer term, bullying always fails. The Bolsheviks had seventy years, and murdered on a scale still hard to conceive. They never produced their New Soviet Man. Except for the worse, they never touched the basic nature of the Russian people. Our own ruling class will fail. What new order will then be established I cannot say. But I suspect it will be broadly Christian.
What we shall then see may not be very liberal. Possibly, homosexual acts will be made criminal again, or everything just short of criminal. I spent my early years as a libertarian denouncing the legal persecution of homosexuals. I have now spent years arguing against persecution by homosexuals. I may sooner or later need to turn round again. As with all collective revenge, the individuals affected will not be those who are now behaving so badly – just as those now persecuted probably did not make any fuss about the 1967 Act that legalised most homosexual acts. But that is the nature of collective revenge. Because the most prominent homosexual leaders have not been satisfied with a mere equality of rights, ordinary homosexuals in the future may find the current precedents used against them.
For the moment, however, England is a country where Christians are fair game for harassment. I do not suppose that the case of Mr and Mrs Johns will be my last reason for commenting on this fact.