Thursday, December 31, 2015

my 2015 blogging in review

I’m just having a look at the stats for my blogging here in the past year. And for the four years in which I’ve been posting here.

The last two months have seen a significant increase in traffic, which is certainly pleasing. And December 2015 was the busiest month so far for this blog. 

My most popular post in the last month was my review of Stanley G. Payne’s history of The Spanish Civil War, although it’s still a long way behind my most popular post ever - cognitive dissonance and cultural sensitivity. My second most-viewed post has been thoughts on Huxley's Brave New World. My review of Warren Farrell’s The Myth of Male Power and Leon J. Podles’ The Church Impotent: The Feminization of Christianity also received plenty of traffic. Book reviews seem to get quite a bit of attention so expect to see more such posts in the coming year.

It’s no surprise that most page views originate from the United States. And it’s no great surprise that Australia is in second place. What is interesting though is that Russia has been consistently in third place - well ahead of Britain.

My original intention with this blog was to focus quite a bit on political correctness in relation to popular culture. Popular culture is after all to a great extent where the rubber meets the road. I’m hoping to do more posts on this topic in 2016, especially in relation to the insidious manner in which political correctness gradually came to dominate popular culture.

I’m also hoping to do more posts on historical topics.

I’m also hoping 2016 will be a better year for all of us, so Happy New Year to all my readers.

four years on

It’s now just over four years since I started this blog. It’s been an interesting experience. Putting one’s ideas down on paper (or the digital equivalent thereof) does help to clarify those ideas.

I am going to try to be a little bit more regular in my postings in 2016 - whether I’ll achieve that aim remains to be seen.

Doing this blog has helped to reawaken my enthusiasm for history so that’s been a plus.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

The Balkans: Nationalism, War and the Great Powers 1804-1999

Misha Glenny’s The Balkans: Nationalism, War and the Great Powers 1804-1999 aims to provide a unified history of that troubled part of the world and the book does indeed offer a reasonable introduction to a fearsomely complex subject.

Glenny rejects the idea that the violence and instability that has plagued the region can be blamed on ancestral hatreds going back to the Middle Ages. He believes the trouble started much later - at the beginning of the 19th century. The slow but inexorable decline of the Ottoman Empire created a serious power vacuum which was exploited by the Great Powers in a manner that was selfish, cynical and short-sighted. Worse, the Great Powers entirely ignored the ethnic, linguistic and religious complexity of the region. Drawing borders in a way that suited the interests of the Great Powers more often than not created nations that were inherently unstable.

At the same time the newly developed ideologies of nationalism found their way to the Balkans. Nationalism (in the 19th and 20th century sense of the term) was something that simply did not exist in this part of the world before the 19th century.

Under the Ottoman Empire the various ethnic and religious groups had managed to co-exist quite successfully. Christians and Jews might not have enjoyed the same rights as Muslims but they had security and stability. In fact Christians often had a good deal more security than they had under Christian rulers. 

The major problem with Balkan nationalism was that, even without the interference of the Great Powers, creating coherent ethno-nationalist states was an impossibility. The various religious and ethnic groups were hopelessly mixed together. There were Serb minorities in Croatia and Croatian minorities in Serbia. There were huge Turkish minorities in Greece and equally huge Greek minorities in Turkey. There were Greek minorities everywhere. There were Albanians in Serbia and Serbs in Albania. Religious and ethnic differences were not clear-cut. There were Catholics, Orthodox Christians and Muslims who spoke the same language and were ethnically identical. There were Orthodox Christians who belonged to different ethnic groups. There were Croats who regarded Muslims as fellow Croats and Croats who regarded the same Muslims as non-Croats. In some places there was no majority group at all. There were cities like Salonika that were coveted by several different nations but were almost entirely Jewish. In some regions the city-dwellers were predominantly Muslim while the rural populations were Serb or Bulgarian or Greek or Croatian. 

The nationalist aspirations of the newly emerged nations such as Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia and Romania were entirely incompatible - no line drawn on a map could possibly satisfy everyone.

The end result was that a comparatively peaceful corner of Europe became a powder keg. And the Great Powers displayed an uncanny ability to make a bad situation worse. Austria’s annexation of Bosnia in 1908 was the first step on the road to the catastrophe of the First World War.

By the 1990s the Great Powers were no longer intervening in the Balkans for the traditional reasons of territorial greed. They were now doing so for humanitarian reasons. The results were equally disastrous.

Glenny weaves together the stories of the various Balkan peoples with considerable skill. The narrative is perhaps to complex for a single volume but it’s a brave attempt.

He also endeavours to be as even-handed as possible. Just about everyone in the region has at one time or another been both oppressor and oppressed, both perpetrators and victims of atrocities. Every Great Power (even China!) has at some stage tried to interfere in the region, with lamentable consequences. Trying to divide the various actors in good guys and bad guys is a pointless exercise and in general Glenny avoids that pitfall. He does display a touching child-like faith in democracy as a cure-all but overall he tries not to  over-simplify inherently complex problems that simply do not have straightforward solutions.

I have no doubt that there are better and more scholarly works on this subject but as a general introduction this is a stimulating and fascinating book. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

making sense of modern politics

I’ve spoken often of my belief that conventional attempts to describe politics in terms of left/right and conservative/liberal or conservative/socialist just don’t work any more.

So we need to replace these outmoded terms, but what do we replace them with? Some years ago it became briefly fashionable to use a two-axis system, with one axis describing a person’s position on economic issues (ranging from untrammeled free-market capitalism to communism) and the other being the authoritarian/libertarian axis. The big problem is that today in order to describe the political views of a person or party we need to place them on the correct points on multiple axes.

The first axis would have to deal with beliefs on social issues, ranging from social conservatism to social libertarianism. I personally would prefer to describe the latter position as social radicalism since libertarianism has other connotations which tend to cloud the issue.

The second axis would deal with opinions on domestic economic issues, ranging from laissez-faire capitalism to complete state control of the economy.

The third axis would deal with views on international economic issues, ranging from complete free trade to rigid protectionism.

The fourth axis would describe views on international relations in broader terms, ranging from extreme interventionism (the best way to solve problems in foreign countries is by invading them and imposing “regime change”) to extreme isolationism (the best way to solve problems in foreign countries is to let those foreign countries sort out their own problems).

We would also need a fifth axis, ranging from a belief in open borders to a belief in strong immigration restrictionism.

To make things even more complicated yet another axis would be required, this one ranging from a belief that environmental threats are so severe that drastic action is required to combat them to a belief that environmental threats are wildly overstated and that no serious action is required.

To describe a person’s political views we would need to know if they are social conservatives or social radicals, if they are economic interventionists or non-interventionists, if they are globalists or economic nationalists, if they are imperialists or isolationists, if they are open borders supporters or immigration restrictionists and lastly if they are environmentalist catastrophists or environmentalist sceptics.

This scheme might sound fiendishly complex but it has the virtue that at least it tells us what a politician or political party actually stands for. There may be a simpler way ofd doing this - if you can think of one let me know!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Virtual History: Alternatives and Counterfactuals

Virtual History: Alternatives and Counterfactuals, edited by Scottish historian Niall Ferguson, is a collection of nine essays examining alternative outcomes of significant historical events. 

Perhaps the most interesting and important part of the book is Ferguson’s lengthy and detailed introduction in which he puts forward a rather convincing case for the validity of counterfactual history. Ferguson is a passionate critic of deterministic approaches to history. Not only does he reject the view that historical events must have been inevitable simply because they happened, he also sees the exploration of possible alternative outcomes as an essential means of understanding history.

He is careful to stress that these exercises in “counterfactual history” should not be confused with the kinds of alternative histories so beloved of science fiction writers. To be useful a counterfactual must be genuinely plausible. It must be an alternative that people at the time saw as not merely possible but quite likely. It’s not enough to ask what if Lee had won the battle of Gettysburg - to qualify as a useful counterfactual you would have to demonstrate that Lee’s victory had been not merely a possibility but had been seen by qualified observers at the time as a real possibility.

Some of the counterfactuals in this book are so intriguing, and so plausible, that I may well indulge myself by discussing them at greater length so expect some further posts on this subject.

The first of the counterfactuals in the book is contributed by John Adamson. He suggests that if King Charles I of England had won the Bishops’ War in 1639 his position would have been so immeasurably strengthened that there would have been no question of civil war. He further suggests that Charles not only could have won the Bishops’ War, he should have done so. In fact he goes so far as to suggest that the king had the war all but won until he lost his nerve at the critical moment and failed to fight the decisive battle he would certainly have won. Had he won this war not only would there have been no Civil War, it is highly likely there would have been no Glorious Revolution and a Stuart king might well be occupying the throne today.

J. C. D. Clark’s contribution explores the possibility that the American Revolution might have been avoided, with profound consequences not just for American but for European history (with the possibility that as a result the French Revolution might also not have occurred). 

Alvin Jackson speculates that Ireland could have been granted Home Rule in 1912 with the possibility that a great deal of subsequent misery might have been avoided.

Ferguson’s own contribution deals with the First World War and is a fuller version of his speculations in The Pity of War.

His idea is that there is no reason to assume that Britain’s participation in the war was inevitable. Had Britain not intervened it’s likely that the Central Powers would have won. Ferguson believes this might well have been a much happier outcome.

Andrew Roberts considers the question of a successful German invasion of Britain in 1940 while Michael Burleigh considers the possibility that Hitler might have won the war.

The least successful counterfactual in the collection is from Diane Kunz who deals with the alternative of President John Kennedy surviving the assassination attempt. She believes that had he survived he would now be remembered as a minor and distinctly mediocre president. She also suggests that nothing much else would have changed and that Kennedy would have involved the US just as deeply in Vietnam as did Johnson.

The two chapters that particularly interested me dealt with the Cold War. Jonathan Haslam asks if the Cold War could have been avoided while Mark Almond puts forward the theory that far from being inevitable the collapse of Soviet communism was in fact extremely unlikely. So unlikely that it could only have happened with a complete idiot in charge. Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on your point of view, such an idiot was available in the person of Mikhail Gorbachev. 

The book concludes with a witty and amusing afterword by Ferguson in which he constructs a complete (and clearly tongue-in-cheek) alternative history of the world from 1646 to 1996.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

The Spanish Civil War

Stanley G. Payne’s The Spanish Civil War, published in 2012, is a rare bird indeed - a balanced and fair account of that conflict.

Of all the sacred causes of the Left during the 20th century few if any can equal this one. To leftists it is an article of faith that the Spanish Civil War was an epic struggle of democracy against fascism. This is of course absolute nonsense, as Payne convincingly demonstrates.

The Popular Front government of the Spanish Republic had practised electoral fraud on a breathtaking scale. Their intention was to remove conservatives from the political process altogether. They had made the unpleasant discovery that if the Spanish people were given a free choice they would reject the parties of the Left. The obvious solution was to ban parties of the Right. The Republic was moving rapidly towards totalitarianism. It was not however a communist totalitarianism. It was to be a totalitarianism overseen by a coalition of leftist parties.

There was of course the danger of a revolt by the army. Bizarrely enough the government not only welcomed this, they actively provoked it. They were confident they could crush such a revolt. This proved to be a fairly spectacular error of judgment. Rather than a weak revolt what they got was a full-scale counter-revolution. 

The counter-revolution was all the more determined since the government had initiated a savage and brutal assault on the Catholic religion. Hundreds of churches were burnt and thousands of priests (and nuns) were murdered.

The Republic was confident that it could rely on the help of the Soviet Union. That assessment turned out to be accurate - the Republican forces received enormous amounts of military assistance from Stalin including hundreds of modern aircraft and tanks. What the Republican government had not counted on was that Franco’s rebel Nationalists received not only large quantities of military equipment from Italy and Germany but sizeable contingents of German and Italian personnel.

Payne points out the Republicans made the mistake of believing they could repeat the success of the Red Army in the Russian Civil War, but had not taken account of fundamental differences between the two situations. The Bolsheviks had been united while their enemies had been divided; the Republicans were hopelessly disunited while the Nationalists were united under the strong and capable political and military leadership of Franco. A conflict between a divided movement and a united one will almost inevitably end in victory for the united side. This is of course exactly what happened in Spain.

It was a legendarily bitter and brutal war and Payne is careful to point out that both sides at times behaved barbarically. On the other hand there is no question that the Republican government was entirely responsible for the war. 

As for the leftist fantasy of a crusade against fascism, the the Spanish fascists (the Falangists) were a very minor component of the Francoist forces. Franco was a conservative Catholic who ended up by establishing an old-fashioned authoritarian dictatorship that had little in common with Italian fascism, and nothing whatsoever with German National Socialism. Fascism and National Socialism are ideologies of the Left; Franco was and remained a man of the Right. Franco’s aim was to prevent the establishment of communism in Spain and in this aim he succeeded, thereby saving Spain from the horrors of communist totalitarianism. Franco also hoped to turn Spain into a modern and prosperous country whilst preserving its traditional culture and religion. He succeeded in the first part of this aim but was less successful in the second.

Payne’s study is a superb and much-needed corrective to the depressingly pervasive leftist view of one of the key events of the 20th century. The book provides an excellent balance between the political and military aspects of the conflict (although with a somewhat greater emphasis on the political side). Very highly recommedned.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The Social Justice religion

The idea that leftist political movements have a great deal in common with religions has been around for a long time. There has always been quite a lot of truth in this idea. Political zealotry does obviously resemble religious zealotry, and the various leftist splinter groups (like Trotyskites) can be seen as heresies.

And of course the clash between communists and National Socialists can be seen as a religious war between two competing sects that had a great deal in common but differed on a few key points of doctrine.

What is different about today’s leftism is that it is purely religious. The cult of Social Justice has no actual political content at all. There is no underlying political ideology. Communists and fascists and Trotskyites and National Socialists had actual plans to remake society. Their plans were often wrong-headed and in practice were usually disastrous (although Italian Fascism worked moderately well and might have survived long-term had Mussolini been able to achieve the alliance he hoped for with the British and the French). But no matter how wrong-headed the plans might have been all these leftist sects did have reasonably coherent plans to construct a new society.

Today’s Social Justice Warriors have no such plans. They have no objectives. Their religious fervour is an end in itself. They’re jihadists but it’s the jihad itself that matters to them. If they won they would have no idea what to do next. In fact they have won the Culture Wars and they really don’t know what to do next. They can’t comprehend that the only real winners are the billionaires who fund their jihads.

As Helen Andrews points out in Politically Correct Holy Rollers: The New Campus Revival their motivations are similar to the emotional and religious fervour of the 19th century Christian revivalist movements.

If SJWs were genuinely working towards bringing about the Glorious Socialist Revolution I could understand them and even respect them, even if I strongly disagreed with them. But they have no real interest in socialism. Most of them are comfortably middle-class (or even wealthy). They are for the most part incredibly privileged. The last thing they want is actual socialism.

The SJW thing is not a political ideology and it has nothing to do with politics. It’s about religion. They don’t want to replace capitalism with socialism. They want to replace Christianity with their new warm and cuddly feel-good religion. That’s why they’re so venomous towards Christianity - Christianity is their rival religion.

In fact SJWism is a kind of Christian heresy - it’s Kumbaya Christianity with all the actual religious content removed leaving only the fuzzy caring and sharing bits. That’s why Kumbaya Christians and SJWs get along so well - there’s really not much difference between them.

SJWs are religious zealots. They’re not political ideologues. They don’t even understand politics. They’re not interested in political change. They’re funded by billionaires. They’re looking for salvation. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Spanish Inquisition: An Historical Revision

There are very few subjects on which more nonsense has been written than the Spanish Inquisition. Henry Kamen’s The Spanish Inquisition: An Historical Revision is a bold attempt to approach the subject without hysteria and in a relatively unbiased manner. The book was originally written during the 1960s. Kamen extensively revised and to a considerable extent rewrote the book for its 1997 second edition.

The Spanish Inquisition was established by Ferdinand and Isabella in 1478 and was finally suppressed in 1820. There had been earlier inquisitions and there were other inquisitions in other parts of Europe, but the Spanish Inquisition existed to deal with certain peculiarly Spanish problems. Spain had been conquered by the Moslems in the eighth century AD. Under Ferdinand and Isabella the Christian Reconquista, begun several centuries earlier, would finally be completed. This confronted the Catholic monarchs with the problem of how to deal with huge Jewish and Moslem minorities. The solution ultimately adopted was to offer these minorities the choice of conversion to Christianity or expulsion. A very large proportion of both minorities chose conversion. This led to a further difficulty - to what extent were these conversions sincere? Were these “New Christians” really Christian or were they merely outwardly conforming whilst remaining in actuality Jews and Moslems? If the latter were the case then these minorities could be seen as a major threat to the unity and security of the realm.

The Inquisition’s first task was to discover the extent to which the “conversos” or Jewish converts to Christianity were still secret Jews. 

As the sixteenth century progressed the Inquisition found itself dealing with another equally serious menace - the rise of Protestanism. Later in the century armed insurrections by “moriscos” - Moslem converts to Christianity - would became the Inquisition’s major focus. The Inquisition also, in later years, concerned itself with other religious questions but the problems of the conversos, the moriscos and Protestanism were by far the most important questions addressed by the Inquisition.

It is important to realise that these threats were by no means imaginary. Kamen makes it clear that most moriscos were most certainly not genuine Christians and that a large number of even third and fourth-generation conversos were not genuine Christians. And the threat of Protestantism was very real indeed. While the idea of trying to enforce religious unity is deeply unfashionable today it’s important not to impose our values on people from other times. At the time religious unity seemed to be not only important but vital. And the Spanish Inquisition was largely successful in achieving its objectives.

The Inquisition has of course been for centuries been reviled for its cruelty, for spreading a reign of terror and for impoverishing intellectual life. Kamen explodes these myths. The Inquisition had little impact on the lives of most Spaniards and was not especially unpopular. Compared to the rigours of secular justice both in Spain and elsewhere in Europe it was positively benign. The prisons of the Inquisition were far more humane that the secular prisons. The Inquisition used torture sparingly by comparison to other courts. Prisoners were entitled to a trial and while the legal procedures left something to be desired an innocent person had a reasonable chance of securing an acquittal. Fewer than two percent of those charged were executed and the total number of executions was fairly small.

There were abuses and the anonymity of witnesses was a major problem but on the whole, as persecutions go, it was distinctly mild.

It’s also fascinating to note that the Spanish Inquisition took little interest in witchcraft and in fact by and large strongly opposed prosecutions for witchcraft on the grounds that most if not all supposed witches were merely deluded. Executions for witchcraft were extremely rare in Spain and executions for that crime by the Inquisition were very rare indeed.

The book’s main fault is that it’s rather loosely structured and it really needed the services of a good editor, but then that’s a fault with almost all academic titles these days.

Henry Kamen’s book is a valuable corrective to the ludicrously exaggerated (and often entirely false) popular views of of an institution whose aims are today deeply out of fashion but which achieved its aim of creating religious unity and stability.

Highly recommended.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Sweden “slamming shut” its borders?

So Sweden is “slamming shut” its borders against refugees. This is likely to be seen as a reason for celebration. A few moments’ thought suggests that the celebrations may be premature.

First of all let’s be clear about one thing. The Swedish government doesn’t give a damn about the Swedish people or Swedish civilisation or western civilisation in general. Their hostility to western civilisation is as strong as ever. This is not about saving Sweden. This is about saving the Swedish government.

The big threat to the established parties in western Europe is the recent rise of nationalist parties (usually labelled as far-right parties even though they are in fact all left-leaning parties). By pretending to have suddenly switched to an anti-immigration stance the ruling socialists hope to outflank and destroy the nationalist Sweden Democrats. They are counting on Swedish voters being stupid enough to fall for this and go back to supporting the established parties. They are almost certainly correct in their assessment of the stupidity of the Swedish voters. Once the Sweden Democrats are disposed of it will be back to business as usual.

In any case the “slamming shut” of the borders will almost certainly prove to be mostly window-dressing. It doesn’t matter. It makes no difference what governments do - what matters is appearances.

My prediction is that the ruling socialists will go on to win a landslide victory in the next election. The destruction of Sweden can then be resumed without interference from annoying critics.

I suspect we will see something very similar happen in France. Hollande will talk tough about declaring war on terror. The French will fall for it. Hollande will win the next presidential election easily and the Front National will be effectively removed as a threat to the established parties.

Never underestimate the cynicism ofd those who rule us, and never underestimate the gullibility of voters.

Orwellian madness in the US

So the Black Justice League at Princeton University wants the name of former president of Princeton (and former President of the United States) Woodrow Wilson expunged from the university because Wilson was (apparently) an evil racist and imperialist. 

The irony here is that if they’re hoping to upset conservatives they’ve picked the wrong guy since most conservatives consider Wilson to be one of the most catastrophic presidents in US history.

Of course if you’re going to consign Wilson to the memory hole then there are quite a few other presidents who will also have to become unpersons. Abraham Lincoln was a notorious racist. George Washington was a slave owner. Lyndon Johnson was an open racist who was very fond of using the dreaded N word. Even that darling of the Left, Franklin Roosevelt, can’t escape. The white American athletes who competed in the 1936 Berlin Olympics were invited to meet Roosevelt, but African-American Jesse Owens was pointedly not given an invitation leading Owens to remark that Hitler hadn’t snubbed him but Roosevelt had.

In fact it will probably be necessary eventually to declare most American presidents unpersons.

I fully expect that within the next few years we’ll see a move to have Washington DC renamed Martin Luther King City. And no, I’m not joking.

Of course this Orwellian madness is not confined to the US. In Britain you can be arrested for quoting Winston Churchill.

German Jews turn against refugees

I can’t help being highly amused by the call by the Central Council of Jews in Germany to limit the intake of Moslem refugees. Apparently they have finally figured out that Moslems might not be very friendly towards Jews. Deliciously ironic given that Jews have up until now been such enthusiastic proponents of mass immigration and multiculturalism (although not of course in Israel).

Even more amusingly they’re telling us that we should oppose Moslem immigration not just because it threatens Jews but because it threatens feminists and the LGBTQWERTY lobby. "Don't just think about the Jews, think about the equality between men and women, or dealing with homosexuals," added their spokesman.

So when Moslem immigration was merely a menace to Christian European civilisation it was a good thing but now that it menaces Jews it’s a bad thing. And it’s a bad thing if it interferes with the efforts of feminism and the homosexual lobby to destroy European civilisation.

I’m not indulging in Jew-bashing here. Every ethnic group has the right to put its own interests first. I can’t fault Jews for doing that. It would however be nice if Jewish groups  would acknowledge the right of white Europeans to put their own interests first as well. There’s no mention by the Central Council of Jews in Germany of the damage Moslem immigration might be doing to European civilisation. That does kinda look like hypocrisy doesn’t it?

Saturday, November 21, 2015

War Before Civilisation

Lawrence  H. Keeley’s War Before Civilisation comprehensively demolishes the myth that warfare is a relatively recent phenomenon and that early human societies were peaceful.

Keeley was inspired to write the book after being twice refused funding to investigate fortifications around a number of early Neolithic villages. His third attempt to receive funding was successful when he removed the word fortification from his research proposal and replaced it with the neutral word enclosure. When he and his colleagues thereupon excavated the sites they discovered irrefutable evidence that the fortifications were indeed fortifications. Life in Belgium in 5000 BC was apparently anything but peaceful.

Keeley realised that the prevailing view in archaeological circles that prehistoric humans were peaceful and knew nothing of the horrors of war might be entirely wrong. His subsequent researches, documented in this book, showed conclusively that war was not only ubiquitous in prehistoric societies - it was far more destructive than any modern wars.

Keeley bases his arguments not just on archaeology but also on studies of those primitive societies that have survived into modern times.

The evidence is overwhelming. Your chances of becoming a casualty of war in modern civilised societies are much much less than your chances would have been of being killed in war in prehistoric times, or as a member of surviving primitive cultures.

Pre-modern cultures did not fight large-scale pitched battles but war was more or less continuous, taking the form of ambushes, raids and small-scale skirmishes. The overall death rates in this kind of small-scale war are staggering and horrifying.

One of the really interesting points he makes is that in pre-modern societies intermarriage and trade actually increase the risk of wars between neighbouring tribes.

Keeley argues persuasively that since the Second World War archaeologists and anthropologists have deliberately shut their eyes to the evidence of war in pre-modern societies. This deliberate and willful blindness is of course politically motivated. Scholars in these fields do not want to accept the unpalatable truth that civilised societies might be in general far more peaceful than primitive cultures. That might force them to face the even more unpleasant truth that civilisation really is a good thing.

What makes Keeley’s arguments more compelling is that he had no political axe to grind. He admits that he himself had swallowed the myth of peaceful pre-modern cultures until he found that the evidence simply could not be ignored.

A fascinating book that demonstrates the stranglehold that political correctness exerts on just about every area of science. Highly recommended.

Monday, November 16, 2015

the most likely scenario for Europe

In the wake of the Paris terror attacks and the ongoing ”refugee” crisis in Europe there are many who seem to think that perhaps finally sanity will prevail and European governments will start to take firm action. Personally I think it’s true that firm action will be taken but I’m not at all confident the actions will be the right ones.

There’s little doubt in my mind as to the most likely scenario. It will be very mild Pushback followed by a very severe Crackdown. But it won’t be a crackdown on immigration - it will be a crackdown on European citizens.

There will be mild resistance to the invasion. Nationalist parties might make significant gains in most countries but they will come nowhere near gaining actual power. There will be a few large-scale street demonstrations. There will be a few violent incidents, some of them associated with these demonstrations. Much if not most of the violence may well be instigated by the anti-racist crowd but of course nationalists will be blamed. There will then be a media panic that “right-wing extremists” are threatening European values and causing terrorism.

The result will be a crackdown that will make current attempts to stifle dissent look like a Sunday School picnic. Nationalist parties will be banned and their leaders imprisoned. Nationalist bloggers will be arrested and many will be imprisoned. Draconian controls over all media will be introduced. Anyone who expresses even the mildest criticism of the invasion will be silenced. Of course the targets won’t be confined to nationalists. This will be too good an opportunity to waste. Climate change sceptics and anyone who isn’t totally on board with the program with regard to the LGBTQWERTY agenda will also be rounded up.

The end result will be totalitarianism. Elections will still be held but only approved parties, that is “anti-racist” “non-extremist” parties will be permitted to participate. No dissent whatsoever will be permitted.

I also don’t believe there is any chance that Marine Le Pen will be allowed to win the next Presidential election, even assuming that she gets enough voter support to do so (which seems to me to be very unlikely). 

In the incredibly unlikely event she does win I don’t believe she will be allowed to remain in power. If the French establishment cannot remove her the US government will. There will be a propaganda campaign about the necessity for regime change in France and the need to restore freedom and democracy. Her government will be destabilised and crises will be manufactured to give legitimacy to her removal. The global elites have no intention of abandoning immigration policies which from their point of view have been spectacularly successful (the fact that they have been disastrous for the people of Europe is entirely irrelevant as far as they are concerned). The ethnic fragmentation and balkanisation of Europe and the demoralisation  of the white population suits those elites very well indeed - it makes any resistance to their power almost impossible.

Of course it’s possible that this was always the objective - to manufacture a crisis as an excuse to crush dissent.

The US will congratulate European leaders for acting courageously to defend freedom and democracy. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Niall Ferguson’s The Pity of War

It being Armistice Day I hope I will be forgiven for another post on the First World War.

That war ended 97 years ago. It has of course always been recognised as a cataclysmic episode in European history but with each passing year it seems more and more obvious that it was an even more significant event than it appeared at the time. The outbreak of war in 1914 was the moment that the long slow suicide of European civilisation began. It was the event that started our civilisation on the path of self-hatred and guilt. It was the moment that we began to lose faith in our own civilisation.

Which brings me to Niall Ferguson’s 1998 book on the Great War, The Pity of War. Ferguson is one of the more controversial historians of our time but then controversial historians tend to be the most interesting.

The book is certainly not a straightforward narrative history of the war. Ferguson sets out to answer ten questions about the war and along the way he demolishes several persistent myths and then goes on to draw some startling conclusions.

Economic history being one of Ferguson’s specialties you won’t be surprised to find that economic factors are dealt with in considerable depth. While he makes some interesting points on this subject I found the book to be much more intriguing when the author switches his focus away from economics.

The first few chapters are the most impressive. Ferguson has little patience with the idea that whatever happened in history must have happened because it was inevitable that it would happen. The idea that history is shaped by remorseless economic and social forces that cannot be altered has of course always been popular with Marxist historians and it has become more or less generally accepted. Ferguson rejects this pernicious idea in a pleasingly forthright manner. He argues that the First World War was far from inevitable. He also argues that the war was not the inescapable consequence of the naval arms race between Britain and Germany, or the economic rivalry between the two countries. Nor was it the result of German militarism. In fact he argues that if anything it was the lack of militarism in Germany that contributed to the outbreak of war. It was the military weakness of Germany that contributed to the outbreak of war - Germany was motivate by fear rather than ambition.

Ferguson is also convinced that there was no necessity for the British to become involved in the war and that Britain would have been much better off having nothing to do with it. More provocative is his claim that cynical calculations of party political advantage led the Liberal Government to embroil the country in the war. Lloyd George and Churchill wee among the chief villains in this sorry saga.

The First World War to some degree marked the beginnings of the modern intrusive surveillance state, of political censorship and the rise of propaganda as a frightening tool of government policy, subjects dealt with in some depth in this book.

One of the most important questions Ferguson sets out to answer is not who won the war, but who won the peace. His conclusions are rather startling. 

Ferguson’s most controversial conclusion is undoubtedly that Europe would have been far better off had Britain and the US kept out of the war and if Germany had been victorious. It has to be said that he makes a reasonably persuasive case for this conclusion.

I found the many chapters dealing with the complex ins and outs of international finance to be a little on the dry side, or perhaps they were just a little too technical for a reader like myself who is not an expert in such matters.

The Pity of War makes some interesting and thought-provoking contributions to the ongoing and indeed never-ending debates about what is arguably the key event in modern history. Recommended.

Monday, November 9, 2015

do opinion polls actually mean anything?

Do opinion polls actually mean anything? Here’s an interesting piece from the Pew Research Centre on the declining response rates  to opinion surveys. In some cases the response rate is as low as 9%. If only 9 percent of those approached agree to take part in a poll how likely is that that the poll represents a truly random sample?

The article goes on to claim that this is not a major problem, but since they are a polling company you would of course expect them to say that.

They do admit that low response rates have introduced a certain bias. People who are more engaged in the political process, not surprisingly, are more likely to respond. Alert readers might well see this is as being potentially very significant indeed. People who are obsessively engaged in the political process might well be expected to be a lot more left-wing than the general population. One might reasonably suspect that the sorts of people who are involved in “political activism” and who spend their leisure hours carrying placards in demonstrations would be much more likely to respond to a public opinion survey. This could mean that opinion polls are seriously overstating the level of support for notions like climate change, homosexual “marriage” and open borders.

It’s interesting to speculate on the possible reasons for declining response rates. I would personally suspect that people who hold politically incorrect views are increasingly cautious about expressing such views. This caution is perfectly understandable in a society in which you can lose your job and your future prospects by expressing a forbidden view. Guarantees of anonymity are also increasing regarded with scepticism. We live in a world in which privacy is thing of the past. Even if the risk seems small would you risk your entire future just to participate in a poll?

I also suspect that even those who do respond may be reluctant to be entirely frank.

So do opinion polls increasingly reflect a subtle socially liberal bias? I would suggest that it is entirely possible.

One might also ask the question - if opinion polls are no longer reliable how much sense does it make for governments to go into a panic every time a slightly unfavourable poll comes out? And how much sense does it make to organise a coup to remove an elected leader who won a huge majority in the previous election (as happened recently in Australia) just because of rather questionable opinion polls?

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

cognitive dissonance and cultural sensitivity

One of the fascinating things about this modern world of ours is the ever-rising level of cognitive dissonance. Even more extraordinary is that so many people seem not to notice.

To give one example, anti-racism is now part of the dogma of our new state religion. We are supposed to embrace diversity. We are supposed to be culturally sensitive as well. It’s a message that is not pushed merely by the elites in academia and the media. It is pushed by every political leader in the western world, and by virtually every politician.

When hordes of immigrants from the Third World arrive in the West we are told that we must respect their cultures. To expect these immigrants to adopt our values and beliefs would be racist.

We have also been instructed to feel guilt and shame about the colonialist past of western nations. Colonialism is as great a sin as racism. 

Now take a look at foreign policy. The West, led by the US, has embarked on a vigorous policy of regime change in various Middle Eastern countries. Existing regimes are destabilised or if that doesn’t work the countries are invaded. The purpose of this policy is to bring “freedom” and “democracy” to the inhabitants of these nations. Whether they want these things or not. It is nothing less than an attempt to impose western values on other countries at gunpoint.

Isn’t this cultural insensitivity on a truly breathtaking scale? Isn’t this racism? Isn’t this essentially colonialism?

In fact the old colonialism of the European powers was arguably more culturally sensitive and less destructive than this new colonialism. The United States is doing more than exporting “freedom” and “democracy” - it is exporting crony capitalism, the drug culture, pornography, sexual degeneracy, mindless consumerism, atheism and all the other things that have all but ruined the western world.

In a sane world we would expect immigrants to conform to our cultural values in our countries but we would respect their right to their own cultural values in their own countries. How we did we manage to get things so disastrously the wrong way around?

Xenophobia is supposedly a mortal sin but US foreign policy is xenophobic to a truly pathological degree. The fate of any nation or people not prepared to accept total economic, political and cultural subjugation to the US is demonisation to a degree that is truly terrifying. They don’t just face being demonised - they can expect to be economically strangled, bombed and if that doesn’t work invaded.

Much of the current demonisation of Russia and China seems to spring from the same dark sources. It appears to be driven by cultural xenophobia and to some extent racial xenophobia.

This Brave New World of ours certainly is a curious place.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

the Long March to the wrong destination

After the First World War the cultural marxists began their long march through the institutions of the West. At the time they had a clear goal in mind. The Long March is nearing its end but it hasn’t brought them to the place they expected to reach.

After the war they had abandoned their old idea of a revolution led by the proletariat. The working class had let them down by stubbornly refusing to bring about the revolution throughout the industrialised West. The new plan was to undermine western civilisation by taking control of the media, the schools, the universities, the bureaucracy and using this control to spread demoralisation, confusion and despair. The ultimate goal however remained unchanged. They still intended to bring about the glorious socialist revolution. You know, the dictatorship of the proletariat. Social ownership of the means of production. An egalitarian society. No class barriers. All that stuff.

Superficially cultural marxism has triumphed beyond the wildest dreams of its early proponents. Cultural marxists now have absolute control of the media, the schools, the universities and the bureaucracy. All dissent is crushed. It’s the socialist totalitarian dream come true.

There’s only one problem. What ever happened to the socialist part of cultural marxism? Whatever happened to the Marxist part of cultural marxism? Where is the dictatorship of the proletariat? And social ownership of the means of production? Most crucially, where did the hopes of an egalitarian society with no class barriers go to?

Today we have a society in which the gulf between the rich and poor is wider than ever. The class barriers between Joe Six-Pack and the billionaire class are unimaginably vast. And rigid. The means of production are in the hands of capitalists who are richer, fatter, more powerful and more ruthless than any cigar-chomping capitalist of the 1920s. The glorious socialist revolution is nowhere in sight.

The cultural marxists have won, but the working class has lost. The poor have lost. In fact everybody has lost, apart from the super-rich and the cultural marxist apparatchiks in academia and the media. The working class has largely sunk into the despair and hopelessness of the underclass. In the US blacks, who had been rapidly improving their circumstances up to the beginning of the 60s, have seen their communities and families destroyed. In spite of feminism women today are angry, bitter, disillusioned and deeply unhappy. 

Cultural marxists have won the Culture Wars, but their victory has been a hollow one for the people for whom they were supposedly fighting those wars. Indeed for most of the oppressed on whose behalf the Culture Wars were waged the victory has been worse than  any defeat could ever have been.

What went wrong?

Part of the answer to that question is that the neocons came along. The neocons cared about power and money and nothing else. They eagerly embraced cultural marxism. They were happy to assist the cultural marxists in destroying the fabric of our civilisation. They simply didn’t care. All they cared about was their economic ideology of greed, and power. They are also very keen on war. War is good for business. War is also very good for forcing other nations to toe the line and embrace the neocon program. 

It is actually the neocons who won the Culture Wars. They achieved everything they set out to achieve. The cultural marxists think they have the power but in reality power is firmly and safely in the hands of megacorporations. The cultural marxists are merely useful idiots. At one time they were useful idiots for Stalin. Today they are useful idiots for Goldman Sachs. Bankers don’t care if the institution of marriage is trashed. They don’t care if society is awash with drugs. They don’t care if religion is ridiculed and despised. They don’t care if various victim groups are at each other’s throats. They don’t care if freedom of speech is effectively abolished (in fact they rather like that idea). They don’t care how much society is dumbed down. They don’t care if patriotism is despised or if society is overrun by unassimilable immigrants. For them a demoralised population is a feature, not a bug. They wanted their power and wealth to be protected and now they own our governments so they don’t have to worry.

The Culture Wars were a victory for the neocons but a catastrophic defeat for the Left. In this case when I use the term the Left I’m referring to the real Left. You remember them? They were the ones who wanted a fairer, more caring, more egalitarian society. They have now been consigned to the dustbin of history. Those who represent the modern Left represent the interests of capitalists and bankers. They are tolerated because they, unwittingly, advance the neocon agenda. History is full of little ironies but in this case it’s an irony on the grand scale. 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

the things left unsaid

It’s often the things that are not said that are more revealing than the things that are said. This is especially true when applied to liberals.

One interesting example is environmentalists and overpopulation. Remember when greenies were obsessed with the population explosion? It was going to be worst thing ever  and it was going to kill the planet and we were all going to die. Environmentalists don’t talk very much about that subject these days. The reason in this case is obvious. To talk about overpopulation would be racist!

They’re particularly keen to avoid discussing immigration. If they did discuss it they would have to face up to one very embarrassing hatefact - if millions of people move from the Third World to the First World those people are going to have a much bigger impact on the environment. They’re going to consume a lot more electricity. They’re going to want to buy cars. A lot more fossil fuels are going to be burnt. If there was any truth to global warming then these immigrants would logically accelerate the process. 

There are two conclusions one can draw from this. Either environmentalists don’t really believe in global warming, or they’re quite happy to see the planet die as long as they are not seen to be racist.

The other interesting example of things left unsaid involves feminists and pornography. I’ve been reminded of this by a recent post at Upon Hope. Feminists have always been divided on this issue but until fairly recently there was a very significant segment of the feminist movement (in fact the dominant segment) that was bitterly opposed to pornography. They argued that pornography objectified women, encouraged violence against women, oppressed women, was an insult to women, etc etc.

These days feminists have gone strangely quiet on this issue. Which is odd. At the time when they were enthusiastically crusading against it pornography was not all that big a problem. Today it’s a very big problem indeed. It’s all-pervasive, the evidence that it causes harm is much stronger and it’s almost impossible (indeed it’s probably quite impossible) to keep such material out of the hands of children. So why has the feminist sisterhood gone strangely quiet on this topic? Have they changed their minds? Do younger feminists simply not care? Are they so driven by hatred for our civilisation that they welcome anything that will undermine that civilisation, even if it harms women in the process?

There is another possible reason. They may have backed down in the face of opposition from the LGBTQWERTY lobby (with which feminism has an uneasy relationship to say the least). Any crackdown on pornography could not in practice be confined to a crackdown on heterosexual pornography. It would have to include material involving various forms of sexual deviance. But that would be homophobic, transphobic, queerphobic and all sorts of other phobics.

And the unpleasant truth for feminists is that LGBTQWERTY “rights” trump women’s rights. Feminists are at the absolute bottom of the victim hierarchy. So the explanation might have more to do with cowardice than hypocrisy.

It’s always worth taking note of the things liberals do not say. They tend to be very revealing. They also suggest that there are major fault lines within the left-liberal establishment, fault lines that might well widen considerably at some future time.

Friday, October 23, 2015

more on the perils of voting

Bruce Charlton was of course spot on in his comment to my previous post. Voting is not just a poor way to choose governments; it is potentially catastrophic to western civilisation.

So what can be done? Any proposal to abolish voting would be met with howls of outrage and would have no chance whatsoever of even getting a fair hearing, much less being adopted.

That would seem to leave only one alternative - to do the deed by stealth (doing things by stealth being of course the favoured method of the Left and one that has almost invariably brought them success). The idea would be to water down democracy. The best way of doing this might well be by pushing the idea of restricting the franchise. A very good start would be raising the voting age to 21. If voting is a dumb idea then giving the vote to teenagers is an even dumber idea. Personally I think 25 would be an even better minimum voting age, but 21 would at least be a step in the right direction.

Any suggestion that the franchise should be restricted in any other way would be unimaginably difficult to sell (at least openly). One suggestion that might have a chance (admittedly an extremely small chance) would be to impose a delay on granting the vote to immigrants - to restrict the vote to immigrants who have been citizens for ten years or more. 

I have seen other suggestions floated, such as removing the right to vote from anyone who is directly dependent on the public purse. This would mean not just those on welfare but also politicians, public servants, school teachers, employees of NGOs and anyone living on arts grants. This idea has some merit, although any measure that discriminates against the poor and the uneducated might well backfire - the sad truth is that educated middle-class people often make voting decisions that are every bit as stupid, short-sighted, irrational and self-serving as the voting decisions of the poor and uneducated. 

Any system that puts more power into the hands of our urban elites would almost certainly have disastrous consequences, those elites being the most dangerous enemies of our civilisation. 

While restricting the vote (with the unstated long-term objective of restricting it further and further) would be difficult enough the real challenge is even greater. If voting doesn’t work, what system should be used to choose governments? My own preference would be a constitutional monarchy, but a constitutional monarchy in which the monarch has much greater and more effective powers than is the case with present-day constitutional monarchies. Monarchy might not be a perfect form of government but it does have some very real advantages. Monarchs have to take a much longer-term view than elected politicians. For a politician the long term is the next election, a few years away. For a monarch the long term is the reign of his or her successor, possibly twenty or thirty years away. No monarch wants to leave a ruined nation to his heir. Monarchs are also more or less immune from corruption. Even more importantly, monarchs are unlikely to be panicked by opinion polls. At present constitutional monarchies are ineffective because the  monarchs do no more than serve as figureheads - they should have vastly greater powers. Possibly even the power to appoint prime ministers (and indeed whole ministries) from outside parliament and more or less independently of parliament.

It all sounds like something that is unlikely to happen. Except that it is happening. The Left is already abolishing democracy by stealth. The EU is a spectacular example of effectively undemocratic government but in almost every western country power is being gradually and surreptitiously transferred to unelected bodies. The problem is that the power is being concentrated in the hands of a self-selected self-serving entirely unaccountable unelected elite that has as its objective the destruction of western civilisation as we know it. Democracy is already being phased out but what conservatives need to do is to make some attempt to ensure that it gets replaced by something better, rather than something worse. Supra-national government by bureaucratic monstrosities like the EU or the UN would be much much worse.

As our civilisation faces more and more serious crises (either real crises or pretend crises like global warming manufactured by the political and media elites) the pressure on democracy will increase. It would be wise for conservatives to be prepared, and more crucially to be willing to put up an actual fight to ensure that the end of democracy will be a net benefit for or civilisation rather than its death knell. Given that conservatives have never yet put up a real fight on any issue that actually mattered I am afraid I am not very confident, but on the other hand history is inherently unpredictable so perhaps there is some hope after all.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

are most people idiots - why we vote the way we do

One popular theory to explain the failings of democracy is the MPAI (Most People Are Idiots) theory. There are times when it does seem that way but on the whole I don’t buy it. I don’t really believe that most people are idiots. 

As individuals some people certainly are stupid but most people are not. They manage day-to-day living tolerably well. They make reasonably sensible decisions. They don’t try to cross the street without checking for traffic, they don’t swallow disinfectant because the disinfectant bottle looks vaguely like a soft drink bottle, they don’t go swimming if the life guards at the beach tell them there are sharks about, they don’t drop cigarette butts into cans of petrol.

And yet when it comes to acting en masse, when it comes to electing governments or voting in referendums, people often do things that are every bit as stupid as dropping cigarette butts into cans of petrol. How is this possible?

The answer is that people generally have very little understanding of the issues at stake. This is not because they’re idiots. It’s because the issues are hopelessly complicated. Economists have very little idea of how the economy actually works, and they have spent years studying it. Climate scientists have no idea how the world’s climate really works, even after immense sums of money have been spent in researching the subject. Foreign policy is even worse. Untangling the webs of suspicion, resentment, opportunism, greed, fear and clashing ideologies and religions in the Middle East or Eastern Europe is a daunting prospect for scholars who have spent their whole careers studying the subject.

How can any ordinary person possibly hope to have a clear understanding of such issues?  It’s not enough to have the necessary intelligence - the real problem is that how many of us can afford to spend several years researching the political situation in Eastern Europe, several more years studying climate science and several more years studying economics before casting our vote? If we had both the intelligence and the leisure time to do this we might be able to make an informed decision. We don’t have the time, so we don’t make an informed choice. We choose our governments the way I chose my last car. I know virtually nothing about cars. I wouldn’t know a carburetor from a crankshaft. I wanted a big car and I wanted a station wagon. I’d owned several Holdens and they’d been OK. The salesman seemed less sleazy and less pushy than most used car salesman. The price seemed reasonable. So I bought the Holden Commodore wagon that the salesman in question wanted to sell me.

I made my decision on the basis of brand recognition, price, my vague idea of the sort of car I wanted and my personal impressions of the salesman.

That’s pretty much how most people cast their votes in elections. Take the last Australian election. Brand recognition counted - we’d had a Liberal government from 1996 to 2007 and they’d been fairly competent. Personal impressions counted - Tony Abbott seemed to be, by the standards of politicians, fairly honest and straightforward. Vague ideas of the sort of government we wanted counted - the Liberals’ policies sounded moderate and sensible enough. Price counted - he’d promised to abolish the hated carbon tax.

As it happens my car purchase worked out well. Nineteen years later I’m still driving the same car and it still runs. Our choice of a Liberal government was perhaps less successful although the alternative would undoubtedly have been worse.

But is this really a good way to decide on the government of a country? What happens when there’s a really crucial issue at stake? What happens when a country is likely to face a serious foreign policy crisis? What happens when a country has to confront the sort of situation that now confronts Europe, involving the possible settlement of millions of immigrants who may or may not integrate into European society? It is immensely difficult to predict the results of various foreign policy options. Serious misjudgments of such matters, involving a relatively minor crisis in the Balkans, plunged Europe into the horrors of The First World War. Any misjudgment on the matter of immigration could spell the end of European civilisation. Can we really rely on leaders who were elected on the basis that they seemed like fairly decent people, or that their party had governed tolerably well in the past, or that their policies sounded OK?

Actually the situation is even worse. The reasons I’ve given above that influence our voting behaviour are at least somewhat rational. In reality though voting decisions are often made  on purely emotional and entirely irrational grounds. People choose a candidate who promises to save the planet because saving the planet sounds like the right thing to do emotionally. People choose a candidate who promises to deliver social justice because social justice is a concept that pushes the right emotional buttons, even if it has no actual meaning.

Of course it’s easy enough to point out some of the reasons we get such bad governments, but what is the solution? That, Dear Reader, will have to wait for a further post!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

spy fiction, traitors and the enemy within

I just came across an extremely interesting point in a post on the Your Freedom and Ours blog. The subject was one of Agatha Christie’s wartime thrillers. The heroes, Tommy and Tuppence, are shocked by stories brought back from Dunkirk of the chaos and incompetence of the British military.

Could it really be incompetence, he muses, or are there traitors among the highest echelons of the military command, the intelligence service and those who take political decisions. Without any hesitation Tuppence replies that it has to be treason.

The bloggers makes the following very pertinent observation:

Of course, they were obsessed with fifth columnists. The alternative was to accept the fact that Britain, its security services, its military, its police, its politics were led by people who were incompetent, self-satisfied idiots. 

Of course, as Corelli Barnett demonstrated convincingly in his superb 1972 book The Collapse of British Power, the British ruling class in the first half of the 20th century truly was dominated to an extraordinary extent by smug, self-righteous, deluded and incompetent mediocrities. British industry was inefficient and backward, the education system ignored technical subjects in favour of moral platitudes, British politicians were short-sighted and lived in a fantasy world of British power and righteousness. British foreign policy was muddled and contradictory, domestic policy was based on illusion.

It’s hardly surprising that nobody in Britain at that time wanted to face such unpleasant facts. At the same time it must have been blindingly obvious by 1940 that the nation had drifted aimlessly into a war for which it was hopelessly unprepared and could not possibly afford to fight.

In fact as early as the 1920s it must have occurred to many people that the First World War had achieved little or nothing at enormous cost and had been little more than an exercise in futility, resulting in economic near-ruin. The idea that spies, traitors and fifth columnists were responsible for the country’s woes and its foreign policy disasters wold have been very appealing.

Actually this could explain the immense popularity of spy fiction in Britain from the 20s right through to the 70s. It was much less upsetting to imagine that the country's most dangerous enemies were in Berlin, Moscow or Peking rather than accept that Britain's most deadly enemies were to be found in Whitehall. It could of course explain much of the popularity of spy fiction in general, but spy fiction had already by the ends of the 1920s become particularly popular in Britain, and Britain was arguably even worse governed than other western nations.

I had always assumed that the popularity of spy fiction in Britain was the result of an unwillingness to face the reality of Britain’s inexorable decline from great power status. I still think this was a major reason for the success of authors like Ian Fleming in the 50s - as long as James Bond was saving the world it was possible to believe that Britain still counted for something and to ignore the reality that Britain had become a relatively insignificant US satellite.

It is however certainly possible that this new theory - foreign spies as a scapegoat for governmental incompetence - explains the phenomenon in an even more satisfactory manner.

Friday, October 9, 2015

How the West lost the Cold War

The one real achievement that conservatives can point to in the last fifty years is winning the Cold War. But did conservatives really win the Cold War? I would suggest that the Cold War was won by liberals, and that it represented yet another defeat for conservatives. Conservatives lost because as usual they were fighting the wrong war in the wrong place against the wrong enemy.

The real enemy was not the Soviet Union. Do not misunderstand me. I am no admirer of Soviet communism. But the real enemy was not the Soviet Union, it was the enemy within - liberalism. It was liberalism that sought to destroy everything worthwhile in western civilisation. The end of the Cold War strengthened liberalism enormously. 

In fact the end of the Cold War was the best thing that could ever have happened for liberals. As long as the Soviet Union existed its existence served as a rallying point for conservatives, and it served as a dire warning of the realities of socialism. We have now seen several generations grow up in the West who have no idea what totalitarianism is really like. They have no clue what it means to lose freedom. Liberals are now imposing a creeping soft totalitarianism on all of us because people today have no notion that totalitarianism might be a bad thing. They do not see a problem in imposing political ideologies by coercion and bullying. They do not see a problem in stigmatising dissent as Thought Crime and then banning it.

And what does the West look like today, after our “victory” in the Cold War? A society overrun with drugs, pornography, sexual perversion and violence. A society that measures everything by money. A society riddled with irrational guilt, bent on self-destruction. We have the freedom to do anything we want to do, except think for ourselves or express our opinions. We have prosperity, or at least we’re told we do. In reality that prosperity is based largely on debt. We have nothing of real value because we do not know how to measure real value - if we cannot put a monetary value on something we regard it as worthless. 

We have lots of bread and lots of circuses.

Maybe winning the Cold War wasn’t such a great thing after all?

Thursday, October 1, 2015

revisiting Forty Thousand Horsemen

I recently watched one of the greats of Australian cinema, Charles Chauvel's 1940 wartime adventure Forty Thousand Horsemen. Of course like every Australian I'd seen it before (it used to get screened every Anzac Day on Australian television). It was interesting to look at it today from a slightly different political perspective.

The movie tells the story of the exploits of the Australian Light Horse Brigades in the campaigns against the Ottoman Empire in Palestine and Mesopotamia in the First World War.

It's a wartime propaganda movie and the propaganda isn't exactly subtle. The propaganda is however quite interesting. The intention was clearly to drum up support for Australia's involvement in the Second World War. As you would expect there's a hysterically anti-German tone. What's more surprising is that the Ottoman Turks (the people we were actually fighting in these campaigns) are portrayed very sympathetically indeed - they are shown as brave and honourable men doing their duty. The Arabs are portrayed sympathetically as well.

Which of course is fair enough - I doubt if even the most jingoistic Australians had actually hated the Turks in the First World War. My grandfather fought them and he certainly didn't hate them. In fact most Australians must have been somewhat bewildered to find that we were at war with the Ottoman Empire, a state that would not have ranked very high on a list of potential threats to Australia's security. In fact it's difficult to think of any major power that would have been less of a threat to us.

The French come out of it well also. Oddly enough the British are largely ignored, apart from one scene in which Australian soldiers cheerfully loot the baggage of a senior British officer! It's interesting that the movie makes no attempt to whip up pro-British fervour. That might not be so surprising. Again I can cite my grandfather's views - he felt no bitterness towards the Germans and Turks against whom he fought but he sure did hate our British allies. The makers of the movie may have felt it to be a safer choice to concentrate on the dastardliness of the Germans and to ignore the British altogether. It's easy to assume that Australians in 1940 were intensely pro-British but perhaps this is not quite so true after all. There are times when the past turns out to be not quite the way we always thought it was.

Apart from all this and whatever one thinks of war movies Forty Thousand Horsemen is still an exciting and fairly well-made example of the breed.

A fuller review of this movie can be found on my movie blog here.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Australian conservative blogs

It's great to see that posting has resumed at the excellent Oz Conservative blog. We now have a few Australian conservative blogs - there's also Upon Hope and Suburbanite among others.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

puzzling aspects of refugee crisis

There are some things that puzzle me about the refugee crisis that Europe is currently facing. Since we know that there is absolutely nothing that is better for a nation than diversity, that diversity is all gain, why are the western Europeans suddenly wanting to institute border controls? Doesn’t this mean that they are depriving their citizens of the golden opportunity to gain lots and lots of extra diversity?

The attitude of the United States is even stranger. No country is more enthusiastic than the US in trumpeting the benefits of diversity. And yet by comparison with the Europeans they are only taking a tiny handful of Syrian refugees. Germany, a country of 80 million people, will be taking a million or so refugees. The United States, a country of 320 million people, should easily be able to accommodate four times as many refugees as Germany. Why is the government of the United States allowing Germany to take advantage of the crisis to enrich itself with so much diversity and yet refusing to allow its own citizens to reap similar benefits?

Even more puzzling is Israel’s attitude. The Israelis share a border with Syria. They have all that wonderful diversity just sitting on their doorstep. And yet they won’t allow any Syrian refugees at all into their country. Perhaps this is just a noble gesture on the part of Israel - they want the Europeans to gain as much benefit as possible from this situation so they are generously allowing the Europeans to take more refugees. This would be entirely consistent with Israel’s track record of noble generosity towards other nations.

It’s also odd that western Europe, especially Germany, is annoyed at eastern European countries like Hungary that don’t want refugees. If those stupid Hungarians choose to allow such an opportunity to slip past them surely that’s good for Germany? It means Germany can take even greater numbers, thus gaining even more of the advantages of diversity.

This is the beginning of a golden age for western Europe. With all this extra diversity Europe will forge ahead economically as well as enjoying all the wondrous social and cultural benefits. Europeans today just don’t realise how lucky they are.

And those countries that haven’t yet experienced the full benefits of diversity need not worry - with the population sub-Saharan Africa estimated to increase from 926 million to 2.2 billion by 2050 there will be plenty of diversity to go around. Europe is likely to become very very diverse indeed. Lucky Europe!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

the future of marriage equality

Roxxxy demands marriage equality now!
There’s an interesting minor kerfuffle happening in the UK on the subject of sex robots. Interesting, because it says a very great deal about the society we have become. It also says quite a bit about the liberal mindset.

A company has recently announced a new and highly advanced sex robot, Roxxxy. And a feminist academic, Dr Kathleen Richardson, wants the government to ban the robot. Now whether or not you find the whole idea of sex robots to be disturbing or even disgusting isn’t really the point. I’m not saying there might not be an argument that such robots are a bad idea, but that’s a separate issue. The issue I’m addressing is this - on what basis can liberals argue for banning them?

They can’t argue for banning them on the grounds that they’re physically dangerous. They’re not dangerous at all. They can’t argue they should be banned on the grounds that sex with robots is unnatural. Homosexuality is unnatural but liberals think we should celebrate homosexuality. They can’t argue that the robots are being exploited - you can’t exploit a machine. They could argue that such robots encourage the “objectification” of women but in that case they’d have to argue for banning pornography and prostitution, subjects on which liberals and feminists tend to hold contradictory views. They’d also have to argue for banning sex toys for women, which surely objectify men to an even more serious degree - reducing men to nothing more than a sex organ. I don’t see much likelihood of any liberal or feminist doing that.

The feminist academic has chosen to oppose the sexbots because they “reinforce traditional and damaging stereotypes of women.” But do they? And what does that even mean? She is also concerned that the sex robot “perpetuates the view that a relationship does not need to be more than simply physical.” On that basis I assume that Dr Richardson also believes the government should outlaw vibrators and casual sex?

The really big problem here is that liberals always tell us they believe in choice and autonomy. Apparently they only believe in choice and autonomy when it suits them. What could possibly be more autonomous than choosing to buy a sex robot? It’s the absolute ultimate in autonomy. 

There are other issues to consider. This sex robot is not in fact intended to be merely a sex toy. The company hopes that she “will eventually be able to learn on her own, and begin to pick-up on her owner's likes and dislikes.” In other words she’s intended to be a companion. A combination of pet and sex toy. The ultimate aim (as outlined in David Levy’s intriguing book Love and Sex with Robots) is to create a robot with whom one can have an emotional relationship. Which of course raises the issue - will we see a campaign to legalise marriage with robots? I mean, do we believe in marriage equality or don’t we? It will be fascinating to see how liberals react to that idea. Surely only a bigot could oppose the right to marry robots. We should be free to love whomever we choose!

Please understand that I am not suggesting that any of these things are good ideas. They will however provide us with an amusing opportunity to see liberal hypocrisy in action as liberals confront the logical end point of their ideology.