Monday, 28 December 2009


Maybe I’m a complete saddo, but whilst I’ve pretty much lost touch with mainstream cinema, I’ve not lost interest in film criticism. I sometimes follow reviews of films very intently because I have such a strong yearning for them to fail.

I’d never actually go and watch a film because any critic said it was good, or ‘a must see’ in their clichéd phrase. But that's not to say I don't care about their opinions. I do care when they are reviewing films that really shame the human race and make me wish they'd never invented the camera.

The last instance of this was Ingolrs bestsr, or however that shithead Tarantino misspelt the title he’d stolen from another film.

Seeing Tarantino pass off stealing as ‘post-modernism’ is excruciating. Seems even this flabby nutter that dances the twist and talks to himself between serving torture porn can’t do too badly wrong. Ingl bastos was at over 80% last time I checked Rotten Tomatoes.

However, any desire I had to see ingls bsts fail just dwarfs into insignificance compared to the existential crisis I’m feeling at the thought that ‘Nine’ might get good reviews.

If it sprung from what passes as ‘original story idea’ in Hollywood, I wouldn’t care. But it’s based on one of the greatest films ever made, 8 ½ by Federico Fellini. The title catches the attention because it is a bit weird and cryptic.

‘Nine’ is just a crap title.

Furthermore, whilst 8 ½ was a challenging smorgasbord of non-linear plot, superb b/w photography and perfect acting by Marcello Mastroianni, 'Nine' attempts to draw in the crowds with lingerie clad young ladies and AABB rhyme schemed songs as well as a cast that are about as Italian as Gavin Richards. Whilst 8 ½ was a fascinating portrait of post-war, secularised, liberalised Italy, 'Nine' is just another Bratz toy in the crèche of noughties bigbabydom.

If this film is a success on any critical or commercial level, it sounds the death knell of civilisation. If 'Nine' comes to be regarded as the 'definitive version' of Fellini's vision, then I hope Xenu and the Thetans return to earth and do the job properly next time.

So please, ‘be Italian’ this holiday and watch a bloody brilliant Italian film called 8 ½. Don’t be a Hollywood shithead, and stay well-clear of ‘Nine’ whatever you do.

Friday, 25 December 2009

Happy Christmas

I hope all my readers are well this Christmas and thank you to everyone who has followed this blog and commented.

This photograph is not 'pretty' but it is one of my favourites; the beauty of the distant green fields and snowy mountain combined with the harsh barbed wire reflects my inner state so well. Perhaps I always aspire to more than I can achieve. (As always click for full size image)

I suspect that the coming year will not be pretty for us Brits. Our compatriots have looked at the mess we're in and decided that there is only one sensible solution: vote in a greedy warmonger who will pander to the banks and United States even more than New Labour. Any adult looking at David Cameron and seeing his comments on the banking sector an his support for Georgian NATO membership can only look with horror, even as the electorate have decided to vote for the posh 'charming' bloke.

Still, we must be strong in this time, both spiritually and in terms of trying to influence things. We cannot despair. As St John said, perfect love casts out all fear.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Shocking and Not Shocking

Was reading Wikipedia recently and came across two articles about two figures in popular culture. The first was Stanley Kubrick, whose film The Shining I’ve just ambivalently ordered. I’ve often been interested in the blurring of boundaries between directors and cinematographers, and I tend to think of Kubrick as a master cinematographer rather than as a master director (and for any smartarses who want to quote David Mamet: if you come out of a film and even the cinematography’s crap, you know you’ve seen a Mamet film).

The Shining is probably much as I remember it, a towering performance (ham or no ham) by Jack Nicholson but apart from that, typical Kubrick: gorgeous photography but with a dull, pompous script. The only really good Kubrick film overall that I’ve seen was A Clockwork Orange and perhaps it’s no coincidence that he didn’t really write the script (they read the novel on set and then thought of filming).

However, I’m digressing somewhat. When I read his wiki page, it didn’t really shock me to read that he was economically on the far right and was fairly resigned about warfare. Perhaps this is because Kubrick’s vision was intrinsically dark and anti-humanistic. His right-libertarian views were quite similar to Frank Zappa’s and maybe it is due to America's multi-ethnic, multi-cultural composition, but Americans have traditionally had less of a focus on their poor.

Which is not admirable in itself, yet i would say at least Stan and Frank saved themselves from self-betrayal.

Reading this, I was really horrified
. I'm not a great fan of Waters or Pink Floyd, but say it ain't so? The band that touched us all with The Wall and its portrait of urban poverty performing for the countryside alliance!

I accept that animal rights is a complex issue, but it goes deeper than the matter of foxhunting (which I find a sickening idea in itself), but a deeper trend to see our plutocracy as some kind of true force for freedom in Britain. I accept that battery farming is probably crueler, but I can't imagine anyone being seen as some kind of libertarian Lohengrin for saying battery farming misery is worth bargain chicken drumsticks. Whilst I am pleased they've banned foxhunting, my views on the countryside alliance are not so much formed by this as by the way they are portrayed as guardians of liberty.

Just look at The Tatler's portrayal of Bryan Ferry's son as a Kensington and Chelsea Solzhenitsyn for being obnoxious to people in his quest to re-legalise tearing fluffy ginger quadrupeds to pieces. I can sleep soundly knowing that the CCTV saturated/DNA database/ ID card/tasering police state they're constructing will be stopped in its tracks by his heroic pursuit of the freedom to gloat over a dismembered fox. (And incidentally, another one for the evolutionistas. His mum is a right proper aristocrat and she was arrested after she parked her car in the middle of the road and left it locked when a police van was RIGHT BEHIND HER. I mean I'm not 'the cream of society' but that really is bloody thick).

Yet this is part of a wider picture by which our civil liberties are being flushed down the toilet whilst selfish toffs are praised as freedom fighters because... well, they like ripping animals to pieces and they support the right to be selfish against the state. Just look at Boris Johnson, who is portrayed as some kind of Periclean libertarian?

Boris's reputation for freedom like the right's in general seems to be based on the Hayekian argument that free enterprise is the beginning and end of freedom. Which is a pretty good laugh for we quasi-war-nerds who know that the Nazis lost because their corporatist system gave their contracts to private sector companies who produced the coolest and most savage (if not the most efficient) military hardware. In tactical terms they'd have been better off following uncle Joe and nationalising the whole thing, but boy did the Nazi private sector not produce some pretty gnarly stuff.

Yet the role of IG Farben, Porsche, Mercedes Benz, Henschel and Son, Krupp etc of supplying the hardware of the Nazi regime is either too inconvenient, too obscure or too interesting for our Hayekian overlords who patronise market fanatics as lovers of freedom regardless of their actual human rights record (look at the gushing praise for Pinochet and Yeltsin).

However, whilst our hegemony of near identical journalists continue to heap praise on the far right concept of freedom as the only viable one, we are slipping into a police state. As for the economic left of which Waters was once a part, it's decline has been even sharper, largely because it was based on the idea that caring for the poor could occur without taxation. His collaborator Gerlad Scarfe has been moving onto similar territory: it was fine for the trendy left to attack Thatcherism, but that's not quite the same as supporting an economic left.

Yet the shock that Waters who wrote an album portraying the rich as (literal), capitalist pigs has metamorphosed into Victor Hazel was nothing compared to the shock I felt when I read that Eric Clapton (yes, Eric Clapton) also performed for The Countryside Alliance!

Again, I realise that this may sound a bit weird, given that I know he endorsed Enoch Powell. Yet I also think (though I am prepared to be proven wrong) that Powell was not the quasi-Fascist he is often portayed as but someone whose message was delivered in the wrong words at the wrong time (and it was adopted by the wrong people).

Yet the thought of Clapton supporting the countryside alliance is somehow even more disturbing for me, because of what the CA represents. Not that I really care much about the CA in itself, but because it represent the corrosion of ideals. One could almost call it a compromise with utopia: they've found their 'utopia' amongst the aristocracy.

I recently bought a bargain price Cream CD. Whilst I dislike the way that Jack Bruce has been written out of the Cream story (not to mention Ginger Baker), I possibly wouldn't have bought it if I'd known Clapton would turn into such a tragic old fart.

From now on I'll never say a bad word about Paul McCartney. Ever again. No matter how pompous he becomes. Or how much he bullies Ringo.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Pics of Britain

The difficulty with photos is that if you have to point out why the picture is interesting, you have probably failed to be so. I loved the one with the teddy bear and the CCTV sign though. Says all you need to know about modern Britain and its relationship with surveillance.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

The Matrix of the Hall of the Mountain King

Things change so rapidly these days. I'm only in my twenties and I'm already sounding old, but I remember a time when 'political correctness' was a weird concept that only profound bores talked about.

These poor, sad creatures would waffle on about how it was now racist to call blackboards 'blackboards' and binbags 'black bags'. Said bores thought that the particular instances in which hapless innocents were routinely lynched for saying 'blackboard' were so numerous and well documented that they needn't concern us with the details. Being honest, I don't think I ever registered enough interest for them to elucidate. I probably just snorted and went back to reading whatever Sven Hassell book was in the bestseller list.

Anyway, political correctness really has gone mad if Te Graun is anything to go by.

Firstly, this. A Virgin Media advert implied that ginger people are unattractive. Methinks that is a little like implying that we can't keep our good health without oxygen.

'Virgin Media's ad campaign, one of a series that ran in the morning freesheet Metro, prompted three complaints to the ASA that it was offensive to people with ginger hair and had implied they were unattractive.'

Really, what kind of person phones up the ASA to say that they read an advert implying that ginger haired people were unattractive? Could there be a nagging thought in the back of their minds that they imply rather than state it because to state it would be too bloody obvious? Could it be that like the trolls in Peer Gynt, we will start gouging eyes out if people do not see beauty where there is none (and who's to say what beauty is anyway?)

One thing I notice when taking photos is how different people look to the photos that decorate the place. If someone does wander into the frame, they will probably be fat and past middle age.

Now there's nothing wrong with that, and I'm no beauty myself, but I do feel distant from my society and can't help thinking that the two dimensional configurations of ink that populate the high street are used to catch the eyes which are diverted from the people. And of course, for us blokes it is one thing (we'll even see posters of uglier blokes), but for women it is far more noticeable. They are invisible to the majority (including their contemporaries). As our films, adverts and music are turning into soft porn, our society is also fragmented.

But the Lib Dem 'friends of freedom' are coming to the rescue, to stop airbrushing. Really, I find this quite astounding. There are beautiful people, they are made to look even more beautiful and idealised. Why, when I was last in Auld Reekie, I saw that they'd started decorating their lingerie shops with plastic people (don't think they've got this far North yet, not that I habitually look into lingerie shop windows) presumably because the skinniest underwear models were too flabby, or something.

Of course, they also have male underwear models with less fat and more muscles than I have, but frankly, I don't care if they are real, airbrushed or computer generated. They won't get me to take excercise on damp days or drink less than 2 litres of milk a day when there's no fast.

But then, I have always to acknowledge that not everyone has my lofty mind which helps my stoic attitude towards weight problem and it is tragic to hear about anorexia amongst girls, but I also think that people have to learn that not everyone can be an object of stunning beauty. And why should they? Is it really such a wonderful ideal to have?

Friday, 4 December 2009

Competition Time (for me)

When chatting to my pal Gareth, we have decided to try and enscriven our psychomorphic concepts of the nature of reality. Hopefully we will en-plegnify these on the medium of the aethersphere and to the entukasmic joy of our readers, make these gems of writing available... except beware 'those not dead eternal lie'.

Sorry, bit carried away there. Anyway, we were chatting about our shared affection for HP Lovecraft. Was he a philosopher, satirist, pompous windbag, madman, racist fanatic, Anglo-Saxon (therefore ‘superior’) Baudelaire, psychologist, humanist, mystic, materialist? Or all these things and none of them?

If I can quote Joyce Carol Oates:

In the celebrated opening of "The Picture in the House" (1920), the nature of Lovecraft's infatuation with landscape is vividly rendered:

Searchers after horror haunt strange, far places. For them are the catacombs of Ptolemais, and the carven mausolea of the nightmare countries. They climb to the moonlit towers of ruined Rhine castles, and falter down cobwebbed steps beneath the scattered stones of forgotten cities in Asia. The haunted wood and desolate mountain are their shrines…. But the true epicure in the terrible, to whom a new thrill of unutterable ghastliness is the chief end and justification of existence, esteems most of all the ancient, lonely farmhouses of backwoods New England; for there the dark elements of strength, solitude, grotesqueness, and ignorance combine to form the perfection of the hideous.

In Lovecraft, as frequently in Poe, style and self-parody are indistinguishable.

Anyway, we decided that we would both try and write stories in his style.

My posts are getting few and far between. To be honest, I really hate politics, and were it not for my sincere belief that my country is in crisis I would not write on the matter.

(As a lot of my posts were on Russia, this is slightly more complex: to do partially with my love for Russian culture, and partially because I dislike the way that Russian history and politics are forced, like Medieval Chinese girls’ feet, into the received wisdom of ‘philosophy of history’)

Still, I love reading fiction but have never had the motivation to give it much effort because I always think of how discouraging the slush pile is. I've spent numerous hours trying to write a book inspired by 'The Devils' (by Dostoyevsky). But it was a bit of a mess. However, if I can even manage to write a short story, and only a few friends read it, I would think it worthwhile.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Top News

There IS a conspiracy to make us dumb.

And it's worked. I strongly dislike alcohol (except for celebrations and then in moderation) and horrid as it that people are loosing their jobs, I am delighted to see so many off-licenses going bust. If I became a tyran- I mean, Prime Minister, the first thing I'd do would be to multiply the tax band on cheap alcohol. This is not because I am a puritan, but precisely because alcohol causes such vast misery.

'The drink is brewed by an Aberdeen-based company called BrewDog and contains six units of alcohol per 330ml, making it the strongest in the UK.

The label on the bottles states: "Everything in moderation, including moderation itself. What logically follows is that you must, from time, have excess. This beer is for those times."

Aristotle himself couldn't have formulated a more elegant syllogism, but:

'The drinks watchdog the Portman Group investigated the beverage after complaints were made about the wording on the label.'

So someone complained about a label? Please tell me that the label said 'contains alcohol'? It would be awful if someone bought a beer with 18% alcohol on the side in the mistaken belief that it was non-alcoholic. If they stop saying that beer contains alcohol they might stop telling us that peanuts contain peanuts and milk contains milk.

Update: It's not getting any smarter out there

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Hey, Screacher, leave those kids alone!

Thanks to Ariane Sherine for reminding me of my favourite guitar riff and for more entertainment on the ship of fools- I mean superb atheist bus campaign.

Their latest ploy is to attribute words to a child telling adults not to attribute labels to them.

Why pour money into this idiotic scheme that could go towards helping the very real victims of religion? Why, because Richard Dawkins said it is foolish to label kids with their parents religion.

This has to be one of the most patronising and foolish comments ever. Do I think my Godson Nikolaos is an 'Orthodox child' because he accepts and understands the Nicene Creed whilst a Roman Catholic infant differs over its understanding of the filioque?

Of course not. He is an Orthodox child because he is part of our Byzantine family. Which is a lot better than many communities in Britain (mostly atheist) I can tell you.

Sherine pats her readers on the back (patting herself on the back in the process):

'Lastly, I'd like to take a final opportunity to thank everyone who donated to the campaign, supported it, commented on it or blogged about it – you really did make a difference to public discourse in this country and around the world.'

'Really'? So they weren't just being self-righteous narcissists who changed nothing? How did they 'really' change the discourse?

Update: This is priceless. At Camp Quest (an atheist summercamp: where's Mr Humphries when you need him?) teens can win a £10 note SIGNED BY RICHARD DAWKINS!! I'm sure that'll have youthful pulses racing.
'My little Johny's getting the latest playstation for his birthday'
'We're saving up to send little Michael to Camp Quest where we hope he'll win a note with Richard Dawkins' signature: you're so looking forward to it aren't you Michael?'

More seriously though, it demonstrates how daftly middle class the debate about faith is in Britain. Why not send the kids to some housing estates where they can see the real effects of secular British values?

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Help Ardalan

More information here
. He may well be sent back to Iran where he will probably be hanged and tortured. Of course in a few years it will probably be safe for him to return because the neo-cons will have bombed Iran and it will be a happy country full of cheerful democrats.

Also, of course, if you write to Ms Hillier, nothing about Britain being a Christian country, right? Because we all know that is bigoted and it is more tolerant to send an Asian to be lynched than to suggest that Britain should protect Christians.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

A Tale of Two Whingers

Being an annoying busybody is apparently pretty lucrative these days:

'The ruling marked the end of an eight-year battle by a Finnish-born mother, Soile Lautsi. She took her cause to court after failing to get crucifixes removed from the school at which her two children were being taught at a town in north-east Italy...

The court disagreed. "The presence of the crucifix could easily be interpreted by pupils of all ages as a religious sign, and they would feel that they were being educated in a school environment bearing the stamp of a given religion," it ruled, ordering the Italian state to pay Lautsi €5,000 (£4,476) in damages.'

8 years?! An immigrant spends eight years trying to change the way of life in a country that has been generous enough to let her live there, and instead of telling her to get a life and go away, she is awarded with £4,476

I find this whole thing very bizarre. I am in favour of population movement within Europe, but think that the individual states have a right, if not an obligation, to be bullish about their values. Otherwise they will end up a multicultural mess like the USA, where small pressure groups can tilt the 300,000,000 inhabitants any way they want. Apparently the European Court of Human Rights thinks that Lautsi is more than an excruciating, self-pitying busybody and want to shower her with gold.

As a Brit, I feel pretty uncertain about the EU. I just don't know if our neo-liberal shower will destroy our values and civil liberties faster than Brussels will. The EU is a more optimistic idea than post-imperial Britain, but satan can create optimism as much as God can.

In my previous post I wrote about a busybody- sorry, human rights activist, who was paid handsomely for her 8 year struggle to change the popular laws of the country that was kind enough to give her residence. Johann Hari also seems to have found that modern Europe amply rewards self-serving hysterical secularists. And this article demonstrates just what level of journalism gets awarded in modern Britain.

Firstly, it is a classical example of how farcical the whole 'debate' about Darwinism v Intelligent Design is. Whilst I do not think that 'Intelligent design' is a credible theory, I don't think that many Darwinists actually realise what Darwinian evolution is. This article by militant atheist Hari conveys the impression that Darwinism is atheist Intelligent Design:

'Think about the hunter-gatherer tribes that we lived in a few minutes ago (in evolutionary terms). Those ancestors of ours who identified the most powerful or abundant people in their group, worked their way into their entourage, and imitated their ways were obviously more likely to survive. Seeking out celebs had an evolutionary advantage – so they passed this instinct on to us. The people who thought it was dumb to act this way dropped off the human family tree.'

Really? So there is the inheritance of acquired characteristics after all? Those who beat the drum loudest for Darwin don't seem to really get his ideas.

The article itself is far more interesting as an artefact than as a work. As is often the case, Hari tries using the English language to attack religion. As always, the English language gets the worst abuse:

'Our innate celebrity-instinct used to be directed in really dangerous ways – towards finding revering (?) warriors like Achilles, who killed so many people that Homer ran out of names; or towards fanatics like the Catholic saints who believed God was talking to her.'

'Her' is not a plural pronoun and 'finding revering'? It is sad, in a sense that our papers don't seem to employ writers with much grasp of the English language. Or ideas. Hari's argument is that celeb culture is fine because otherwise people would be totally religious and fanatical and stuff. It doesn't occur to him that the Iliad is a stunning work of poetry, and not a literal guide to what happened in Troy. Furthermore, in an age where one would probably die of tooth-decay or septic cuts, being chopped to pieces by some foreigner would probably be a pretty groovy way to go.

As an article it is painful to read.

Hari wrote previously about celeb culture, criticising people for attacking Jade Goody after she died. I did agree with him on that account, but thought it notable he didn't mention Michael Parkinson's contributions to the criticisms. Whilst I don't think Parky chose the best time to draw attention to Goody's shortcomings, he is himself from a working class background, and is a relic from a vanishing age when Britain's working class children could expect a proper education and become literate and articulate members of the media class. The strange paradox is that whilst there is an appalling dumbed-down celeb culture, due to the education system, working class children probably have less chance of becoming educated figures in the media establishment than they have ever had. Having said that, the British middle classes are as vulgar as anyone else, and as immersed in celeb culture as the people they love to hate.

Still, these two articles sound the death knell of the 'left'. I regard myself as centre left because I dislike neo-liberalism, believe that a society has a moral duty to care for the most vulnerable members and dislike statist right. However, the left is crumbling in standing up to the neo-liberal right (ironically enough, when neo-liberalism is weakest) and has come to support positive discrimination for big mouthed whiners.

So what will replace the left?

Monday, 2 November 2009

Proud Nonos!!!!!

This is me with my Godson Nikolaos. From these pictures, I think I resemble someone in this painting, who is supposed to resemble the father of one of my favourite literary characters. Which I'm sure must mean something.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

We're so good at Television!

So I see that the episode of Question Time with Nick Griffin got approximately a gazillion more viewers than average. With the highest viewing figures in its history, I decided with inevitability to watch it on youtube. Yes, that's right. Whenever I've been near a TV, I've always flicked channels to get as far away from Dimbleby's patronising face as possible. Yet I felt that I'd have to look it up.

And what a heap of utter crap it was. I mean really, even my the standards of Question Time it was rubbish. Or maybe it became brilliant after twenty minutes. It seemed that everyone there was trying to clarify that Nick Griffin was a racist. Couldn't they just chain up a bear and say they were sure they saw it making a mess in the woods? It would make for a livelier and more interesting debate. And all that nonsense about Churchill. Why do Brits have this creepy personality cult? Churchill was an idiot who first rose to prominence by messing up the Asia Minor campaign in WWI then by his idiotic diplomacy during WWII, his bombing of German cities and his handing over Central/ Eastern Europe to Stalin.

Don't ask me if his brain or conscience would stop him voting BNP. I haven't the foggiest. But doesn't it say something about intellectual life in Britain that guessing which party a cigar smoking dope who died half a century ago would have voted for? (Sadly I can't find Thomsen's rant in Das Boot on Youtube; not a fan of the Kriegsmarine but it cracks me up compared to how the Brits adore him).

To think I could have spent those twenty minutes watching Are You Being Served on Youtube or something equally valuable (oh, for a time when Britain was British: NOT as in 'ethnically British', but as in 'not an American aircraft carrier' British, And isn't that the weirdest irony about the BNP? They are greatly concerned that only 'indigenous' people should be allowed to watch American TV, wear American clothes, eat American food, listen to American music, speak in American slang and talk about American politics in Britain).

Speaking of which I watched a really disturbing but intelligent British film on youtube called 'Blood on Satan's Claw'. Pretty grim stuff overall, but definitely well made, atmospheric and intelligently written. Given its mystical view of the semi-pagan British countryside, I'd imagine it has a few BNP fans. Though I suspect Linda Hayden gave it a broader appeal than Anglo-Saxon nostalgia could provide.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Watching Me, Watching You

Took these photos. Seems that whenever you turn a corner in Blighty these days there's guaranteed to be a camera and a several technicolour signs. No impact on violent crime/ arrest rates.

In modern Britain, it is regarded as a sign of mental illness to have a hobby, so needless to say, numerous blazer clad types and traffic wardens give funny looks to the nutter who snaps Masonic symbols and CCTV cameras with his own camera. One thing I've discovered is that they loose interest in their self-appointed civic duty to monitor conformity levels if you sing doo wop songs. Just murmur 'white port'n' lemon juice, whoo what it do to you' and they quickly start minding their own business.

Whether they've decided I'm harmless or that they risk GBH by monitoring my behaviour, I don't know.

Anyway, in some cases the metaphors are better than I could have imagined. I especially like the one of the gargoyle under the CCTV (never noticed the gargoyle before; I suppose as a horrific protrusion it can't compete with the concrete and polymer 'makeover' the highstreet had)). I liked the one as well of the camera and the model, symbolising how our society is so narcissistic and obsessed with beauty that we are oblivious to the harsh reality. There is something tragicomic about the boarded up little shack with the CCTV sign outside it. It seems a perfect symbol of Britain: the tinpot spirit on a dilapidated shack.

Monday, 19 October 2009

The Horror, The Horror

If one thing really sickens me about modern Brit politics it’s the ongoing farrago about whether flabby, oily creep Nick Griffin should appear on Question Time.

For those who don’t know, Question Time is a mindnumbing show the purpose of which seems to be to discourage anyone from being vaguely interested in politics. It consists of numerous egocentric middle Englander bigmouths who generally agree on most things (‘humanitarian’ intervention, utilitarian justification for surveillance state, the inherent efficiency of privatisation, embarrassed dislike of poor people, US hegemony, 'right to choose', secularism) who squabble over lexical quibbles, lack of disclaimers, deliberate misinterpretation, lack of praise for their personality cult leader and other idiotic non-arguments Eg ‘Vladimir Putin and George Bush are both monsters’ ‘I strongly disapprove of your implying moral equivalence between Putin and Bush’ (Boris Johnson’s words of wisdom).

It is awful, awful, awful television. The highlight will be Boris Johnson saying ‘cripes’ or Christopher Hitchens’ purple head getting engorged as he yells at an elderly lady for not providing enough disclaimers about opposing fatwas.

If you assembled the most charmless, arrogant, opinionated, oily, patronising, self-righteous, over-praised, under-achieving pillocks you’ve ever met and got them to have a debate, then it would probably provide a sunny picture of humanity compared to Question Time.

Which leads us to Mr Griffin. Now, maybe Peter Hain is justified to think that Nick Griffin will look good on Question Time. That is not a compliment. It’s like saying that being hanged with chicken wire looks pretty good compared to being scraped to death by oyster shells. Yes, that is Nick at the top of the page: he looks like one of Dr Moreau's worst attempts and is incredibly sleazy to boot.

But there is a chance that oily gimp Griffin will not come across as quite so hysterically self-righteous as his co-panelists. Especially as I can pretty much guarantee that a Tory will appear to call him ‘left wing’ for supporting renationalisation of the Railways. Given that John Major’s privatisation led to rail companies receiving four times as much in annual subsidies as was spent running British Rail (whilst the ticket prices are through the roof) it is sad that only a nutter like Griffin supports renationalisation, whilst the hysterical narcissists who pass for ‘left wing’ these days are entirely in favour of the privatisation process. So maybe by appearing on Any Questions, Nick might find a few more saddos to support him purely because of how appalling his fellow panelists will be. If nothing else he seems to be the great white hope, as it were, for public transport.

However, I think in a sense, hyping up the BNP ‘threat’ is even darker. Griffin’s clowns are utterly unlikely to become a significant electoral force. Yet the idea that they will get tens of millions of votes overnight is more a sign of how the establishment suspects that the British working classes are seething racists who would support Nazis if they only knew that they existed. Poor people in Britain are thoroughly dehumanised as income inequality grows. Implying that they are far-right extremists who are too thick to know it yet is more a way of easing the upper middle-class conscience than based on any empirical research.

Needless to say, Peter Hain’s squawking is creepy in its own right. He belongs to a party that has launched preemptive war on three countries, which has supported the ecocide in Serbia, the endless bombing in Afghanistan and has not questioned the use of torture and white phosphorus in Iraq.

Yet he will not hesitate to leap onto his high horse whenever he decides that a ‘bad party’ is out there. And he will make a legal case against it.

PS: Saw this disturbing article which also speaks volumes about freedom of speech in modern Britain.

Yes, Jan Moir's article was disgusting and stupid. Yet do we really need the rozzers to tell Daily Mail writers what is acceptable or not? Seems like the best way to create a society where Daily Mail journalists tell the rozzers what's acceptable or not.

What about those people who praise the 'humanitarian intervention' in Serbia whilst ignoring the vast numbers of rapes, murders and lootings inflicted upon the Serbs by the KLA goons?

Update: Nick Cohen proves my points far better than I could. For those who don't know, Cohen is a snide, astoundingly ugly, oily creep who is wrong about absolutely everything: and needless to say, he is often invited to Question Time.

He thinks that Michael Gove (the snide, astoundingly ugly, emotionally damaged oily creep who thinks that the Fallujah 'shake'n'bake operation against civilians was a moral success) would be ideal to debate an extremist. Jack Straw who helped turn Britain into a police state would also be a valid 'mainstream' opponent. Nick provides the following gem:
'All extremisms, far left, far right and religious fundamentalists, are the same in essence. And today, although the BNP strains at the leash to attack British Muslims, prominent neo-Nazis who grace its rallies will join British Trotskyists in appearing on Press TV, the Iranian propaganda station, and the BNP's foreign affairs spokesman denounces "the warmongers in London and Washington" with all the fervour of Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.'

Nick proves he cannot write a coherent sentence or have a coherent thought (which hasn't stopped him being nominated for an Orwell Award) whilst implying that extremists are those who are opposed to preemptive strikes on other countries rather than those who support Britain's role as militant imperialist lapdog. I do not think that the BNP are getting smarter, more ethical or more popular, its just that the mainstream is plunging to meet them.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

'Putinite Terror'

Will try to find out more, but this sounds like nonsense.

A historian who was researching Stalinism has been arrested in Russia. Says Luke Harding:

'It comes amid Kremlin attempts to rehabilitate Stalin and to clamp down on independent historical research – with political repression during the Soviet era and victims of the gulag system now taboo topics'

Really? Any facts to back that up? Or is this what you mean? Or this?

He then quotes everyone's favourite Russophobe, Orlando figes:

'Today the historian and writer Orlando Figes described Suprun's arrest as unprecedented, and part of a "Putinite campaign against freedom of historical research and expression".'

So it is unprecedented 'Putinite' strategy to arrest historians during Medvedev's term? How very odd.

Don't get me wrong, whilst I try to defend Russia by highlighting the nonsense printed about it, I would not pretend it is an open society. Yet this really sounds like a load of rubbish to me.

This Cannot Happen.

I don't know what's the worst news: that David Peace's 'Red Riding Quartet' is going to be Americanised, or that it is going to be Americanised by Ridley Scott and Steven Zaillian.

Firstly, the Americanisation. Okay, I haven't seen the Brit version, and don't know if I could. Even if a mate remembers to lend it to me, it is still very violent and I don't know if even Paddy Considine could keep me watching if it is as nasty as the book. The book I read was pretty grim stuff alright, but it was British. As another mate said when we were watching 'Get Carter', 'what I love about this film is that everything isn't so bloody American'. This was the seventies when Britain was a country in its own right, not (to quote Gore Vidal's superb epithet) 'an American aircraft carrier'.

Then there's our friends Ridley and Steve who collaborated to make the worst horror film I've ever seen: 'Hannibal'. Yes, I've seen 'Legend of the Werwolf', 'Vampire Circus', 'The Unnamable Returns', 'thatonewiththeevilcarrotbyrogercormanthenameofwhichiforget', 'parasite!', 'The Isle of Dr Moreau' and many other stinkers.

But these were all masterpieces compared to 'Hannibal' (and incidentally, the British ones jolly well were British even if they were laughably set in Transylvania and Cockerney Paris).

Having said that, 'Hannibal' did not remind me much of its astoundingly over-rated predecessor 'Silence of the Lambs'. It was more like a remake of 'Carry on, Don't Lose Your Head' by some psychopath who thought that the original was a superb, brooding, intelligent revenge drama.

It even has its 'Camembert' character (a paraplegic paedo called Mason Verger: acted by Garry Oldman, presumably because Kenneth Williams was unavailable) and a 'Bidet' character (Paul Krendler, by Ray Liotta, who makes a complete fool of himself by actually putting an effort into his performance: Frankie Howerd would have been much better, especially in the scene where he eats his own brain).

Anyway, the story is that Mason is a nutter who fed his face to some puppies that he was busy starving to death. He then broke his neck after being hypnotised by Hannibal Lector. A thoroughly nasty piece of work is Mason, and he has revenge fantasies about Hannibal. His 'revenge' includes sitting above a pit full of man-eating pigs on a wheelchair beside an attendant who would tip him in if given half a chance whilst putting Hannibal Lector into a complex cage and putting the cage onto a crane operated by some very stupid people and then very slowly lowering the cage into an unguarded pig-pen...

With all the usual disclaimers about being a sandal-clad leftie who finds The Guardian too right-wing, I'd personally have settled for chopping his rattlers off with a pair of garden shears. Maybe that means I am a greater sicko then Mason. Or maybe that simply wouldn't result in a ludicrous set-piece which gives Hannibal plenty opportunities to escape. You decide.

Anyway, the film was a disgusting mess. 'Silence of the Lambs' was vastly over-rated but it worked. Lector was a well-written character who was a sicko, humanised through his odd delicacy with Clarice, who was superbly acted by Jodie Foster. His witticisms and the role that he plays in helping to catch the serial killer work because we never lose track of how nasty he is.

'Hannibal' doesn't do that: there is little doubt that he is the hero. Whilst his one-liners work as chilling asides in 'SOTL', in 'Hannibal', he comes across as the poor man's Sid James. Furthermore, he only mutilates paedos, smokers, puppy-molesters and misogynists. A fairly politically correct cannibal.

In fact, speaking of political correctness and horror, it occurs to me that James Herbert's magnum opus, 'The Rats' has still not made it to the silver screen. This is a fascinating insight into the genesis of political correctness as whilst ethnic minorities are somewhat over-represented among the victims, the rats also take out quite a few bigots to even the tally and to conveniently nullify any accusations of racism. The horror fiction law in the 70s was that if you exhibit a fraction of schadenfreude when describing an immigrant family vanishing down the rats' gullets, make the next victim a racist who wets his pants when rats eat his kneecaps. If only mainstream politics was so simple. Maybe this would be more fruitful for Hollywood?

Especially as the novel, 'Hannibal', was truly dismal. But Scott n Steve make a real bum of the scenes that actually could have worked. Not the dreary romance scenes, but the ones with the pigs. I live next door to some pigs and they are really scary at times: they make horrific noise, have huge mouths and tiny eyes and are really, really, really greedy.

Yet they also look a bit ridiculous. To make a horror film about them, you'd be best shooting them in the dark: catching a flash of tusks, a bristly back, a patch of foaming drool a gimlet eye. Focus on the sounds rather than the sights.

But nooo: Ridley shows us that he should stick not only to man-eaters that don't speak but to maneaters from outer space. He shows huge CGI porkers running to and fro. They wouldn't even be scary if someone we liked was going to be fed to them. However, the film-makers would, I'm sure, respond 'Weren't you in anxiety when Hannibal, the only gentleman in the film who does such a great job of getting rid of the scum of the earth and that man who was mean to the puppies, was almost fed to pigs'?

It is a hypothetical question (especially as no-one actually asked it) but it does demonstrate the basic level of the film. 'Hannibal' is also full of the typical Hollywood bigotry against Christians, the disabled, fat people and classical music. Being an attractive, cultured cannibal is better than being a sweaty, bearded opera enthusiast who smokes in enclosed areas.

Now to come full circle, these are not disparate points, but different sides of the same point. If they do remake the 'Red Riding' films, they will be like this. From what I read of David Peace, he doesn't do black and white. Yet black and white is no longer an ethical distinction as a class distinction. If Peter Sutcliffe was a charmer with a good education he would probably appear as the hero to bring the Yorkshire Constabulary out of their corruption.

Given America's historical record, I would not be surprised if Peter Sutcliffe is the hero.

And this is literal, factual history that Hollywood messes up. What about the atmospheric history? The North of England in the seventies and eighties had a very specific political culture, as the industrial revolution fell to its knees. Yet whether by coincidence, it was also a vibrant area, especially in cultural terms. It combined virility with stagnation. Is there any chance that this atmosphere will be provided for Johny Yank who treats the working classes with profound embarrassment, fear and dislike? About zilch chance I should think.

So, I know I probably sound a bit of an eejit complaining that Americans are going to remake British TV films I haven't actually seen, but I do know that it will be a very, very bad idea.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

As the World Falls Down

I'm afraid the bastion of the left has fallen if their Russian coverage is anything to go by. Following from previous post, I found this comedy gem. I'll sleep snugly in bed knowing that Julian Borger's 'Global Security Blog' is online, and could you imagine a smugger customer?

You can read it yourselves, but this is a stunning insight concerning Obama's pragmatism*:
'It is a matter of strategy rather than belief. Whether that strategy works any better than confrontation in democracy's name, is more a matter of debate.'

Yes, that is a matter of debate. After all, Bush's plan of confrontation set such a high standard in those paradises of Afghanistan and Iraq. We'll have to see if Obama can live up to this. I for one fear he will always be overshadowed by his predecessor's towering achievements.

*Which is largely based on an article in a Russian paper which they don't link to and which sounds a load of bullshit anyway.

It Must Be True...

From the Graun:

'According to today's Kommersant newspaper, the White House will no longer issue public criticisms of Russia's democratic failings.'

Well, I'm pretty cynical, but if Kommersant say it, it must be true.

'The reported plan is likely to dismay both international rights groups and Russia's opposition. Barack Obama's predecessors, Bill Clinton and George Bush, regularly criticised the Kremlin over its war in Chechnya and the rollback of democracy under the former president Vladimir Putin.'

Russia's Opposition? Is that Kasparov the Magnificent's travelling freak circus? And 'rollback of democracy'? Does that mean carrying out popular reforms and being re-elected by about 70% of the population? And not bombing the parliament and presiding over an era when half as many journalists were murdered?

'The Bush administration frequently complained about rights abuses in Russia, a source of massive irritation to the Kremlin.'

Good to see that they've got psychics at work. But I got the distinct impression that what the 'massive irritation' was more stunned amazement that Dubya would have the nerve to criticise anyone's human rights record. Given that he opened torture chambers throughout Iraq and bombed civilians with white phosphorus, it may seem a bit rich that he decided that all was not well in the Russian Federation. However this irony was lost on Britain's leading hrmhrm 'left wing' paper:

'Today's apparent climbdown on human rights suggests that Obama has pragmatically retreated from the aggressive democracy promotion of the Bush era'

'Aggressive democracy' is right. Getting American soldiers to sic Alsatians on naked Iraqis to persuade them to vote for parties that the Americans like may indeed be described as such. But others might just say that the use of white phosphorus and torture in Iraq made the USA and Britain hated and despised throughout the world and any criticism of Putin hypocritical warbling.

Still, I do think it is an interesting demonstration of how Britain lives in a disturbingly totalitarian society. Yes, the 'Graun' publishes articles about what a silly billy GWB was. But the editorial line is actually not much different from the 'conservative' papers in believing that Anglophone countries have an innate ethical superiority. The strange paradox is that GWB was actually a fairly aggressive liberal, not the fundamentalist cowboy he was often portrayed as. If Obama really is a pragmatic leader, then it will make Britain's neo-liberal hegemony deeply uncomfortable.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Look Behind You!

There is a saying that something is 'mad enough to work'. I keep thinking of this whenever our solidly neo-liberal media/political establishment get on their high horses whenever the BNP (Bedwetting Narcoleptic Pillocks as I think of them) get five or six votes somewhere. I don't know if the BNP is actually getting more votes. I do know that cock-eyed self-styled-ubermensch Nick Griffin is as likely to become Prime Minister as I am to become Mr Universe.

However, the political establishment is very concerned that Radio one let a couple of bedwetting narcoleptic pillocks get their fifteen minutes of fame:

It provoked this response from Jeremy Hunt:

"The point of interviewing the BNP is to make sure that they are held to account for their totally noxious views. It would appear that did not happen here and that is a matter of great concern,"

Yes, a matter of great concern. Because the Brits are too thick not to realise that these are bad people and they are racist? After all the Brits are thick enough to not care about the Labour/ Tory attacks on civil liberties and destroying the economy. But let's focus on the important things: two BNP clowns being given airtime.

Frankly, I'd make a better Nazi than those guys, and I'm a sandal wearing Guardian reader. There are probably hundreds of overweight 'ethnically British' Brits limping and staggering through Blighty in 'Cole' tee-shirts. Even from a completely amoral perspective he was not the best target.

Meanwhile, presumably this is not of great concern:

Seems Gordy is aiming for a Yeltsin award. All three political parties are unamimously supporting his measures to flog Britain's state owned assets. Funny how this came when everyone was horrified that the BNP had a couple of minutes on national radio. Certainly, Gordon Clown was living up to his nickname in doing it at the worst possible economic time, though it was a 'good time' in the sense that the press were mouthing off about the BNP.

It seems to me that the purpose of BNP coverage is two-fold 1) Whenever the centre parties mess up, they can be a useful diversion and 2) To show that neo-liberals really, really are not nasty totalitarian imperialists.

The thing that makes me squeamish here is that the neo-liberals have more blood on their hands to date and incite hatred and support unnecessary wars, yet they are very different to the 'far right' BNP.

Of course, there are many complex debates about multiculturalism in Britain and if the ghettoes are breeding resentment and instability. There is also a debate about religion and how much religion can be criticised without veering into criticising the race that practices it.

Given the large number of 'liberals' who have supported bloodthirsty wars on Muslims, I felt a bit queasy about this subtitle on an article on the English Defence League:

So if skinheads attack Islam then it is to do with race (and what is 'racially aggravated material')? But if Christopher Hitchens, Martin Amis or Sam Miller call to harm Muslims* then it is 'muscular secularism'?

This isn't a defence of the EDL but it does seem to me that by demonising them, the media is adopting a double standard with the neo-liberal intelligensia who completely supported the 'war on terror' and launched Stalinist attacks on those who disagreed with the bombing of Iraq.

When a dictator finally does get his grubby paws on Britain's vast CCTV network and DNA database, it is unlikely they'll come from the BNP. It is far more likely that they'll say they need to take our liberties away to protect us from ourselves in the name of liberty.

*Amis later splendidly defended his statement as a 'thought experiment'. I can just see the contents of a future popular philosophy book:

-Descartes: Of demons and Mind/ Body Dualism
-Phillipa Foot: Trolley Cars and utilitarian ethics
-Martin Amis: Inflict GBH on Johny Foreigner to set him on the straight and narrow
-Plato: Shadows in the Cave and Sensory Perception

Mystic Greg

Given that it's not infrequent that I do daft things (like running in sandals with a fork in my mouth) I find it interesting just how often I am right about matters political.

Either I have some particular gift. Or most 'political experts' are demented. Take Georgia and the recent EU statement that Saakashvilli was to blame for the conflict. I was spot on about that, when practically everyone else in Britain was wrong, purely because I thought that bombing civilians and attacking them with tanks was a pretty rough thing to do.

Maybe it is similar to the way I seem to be psychic when it comes to clothes (I remember when shellsuits were fashionable, and I knew they wouldn't last) and idioms (I always knew the insult 'dip***t' harmed the speaker more than the target).

The way I see it, people as a species have little interest in logic, being wise or being right and not being stupid. They just do what other people do and say what other people say. That is why political journalism is such a farce. I'm sure most of these people are smart enough and in their heart of hearts know they are speaking bullshit. But to paraphrase Machiavelli it is better to be wrong than be unpopular.

Incidentally, being right isn't always comforting. This is what I wrote a while back on Sublime Oblivion:

'I can see England turning into a 80s South American style nation with a generalissimo and his plutocracy going through barrios in bullet proof landrovers'

Seems the Tories are getting Gen Richard Dannatt into their cabinet. In a sign of how turgid and idiotic modern Brit politics are, I noticed that the genius Chris Grayling called it a 'gimmick' when he thought it was the other centre right party that had done it. Grayling's previous claim to fame was saying that crime in Britain is like crime in that TV show he doesn't watch.

For more bemusement, look at the hilariously titled Editorial Intelligence awards. Best polemicist shortlist consists of David Aaronovitch (anti-nationalisation Iraq war supporter) Johann Hari (anti-nationalisation Iraq war supporter) and Richard Littlejohn (anti-nationalisation Iraq war supporter). Isn't it a scream? It's like having a Best Mechanic Award where the shortlist consists entirely of people who've been convicted of criminal negligence and manslaughter.

However, whilst going with received wisdom is not the best way to be right, I do think that David Cameron will be the last Prime Minister of Britain (or the United Kingdom as it is officially called). Never has there been such a shower of misguided, disorganised idiots in line to take power. Despite hating kilts, cabers, bagpipes and supporting a 0 child policy for people with ginger hair, I'll probably be voting SNP in the next election. Choosing which neo-liberal, neo-con America-adoring idiots get to run Britain will be a mug's game. Whilst Scotland is sadly becoming a little version of England, I think there are sufficient numbers of switched on geezers to decide that enough is enough.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Quote of the Day

"Here is the big argument in British politics today, put plainly and simply. Labour say that to solve the country's problems, we need more government. Don't they see? It is more government that got us into this mess."

Thank you David Cameron for demonstrating the intellectual health of modern Britain. Plagiarising a thirty year old quote by a geriatric movie-star perfectly demonstrates our level of discourse.

It isn't that I disagree that the British state is too strong: the CCTV surveillance is creepy, as are phone tapping measures and the 'war on terror' officers who are over-armed. Furthermore, the armed members of our state are given free reign to invade any nation America decides is attackable: Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq.

Yet Dave is no supporter of civil liberties and is gung ho for any American conflict (why not? It isn't his sprogs that'll be fighting there) and thought that Saakashvilli should have been rewarded with NATO membership for attacking civilians with tanks and aircraft. He wants the delightful British police to take action on Brian Haw: apparently the 78 rozzers the nu lab softies sent wasn't enough. That'll teach him to live in a 'shanty town', twat him with a nightstick like they did Mr Tomlinson, that'll put him on the straight and narrow.

So whilst not caring about the police having too many powers or the possibility of Brit soldiers killing foreign civilians, 'big government' in Dave's case means... well, he doesn't specify. But I think it's fairly safe to assume it means too many services for poor people. Thank you again Dave for helping me find motivation to invest in further TEFL qualifications.

* I usually like to have an illustration, but even thinking of Cameron's repulsive smarmy melon of a head makes me feel ill.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Holocaust Porn

If the moral health of a nation can be determined by its book-covers, then things don't look very good for whatever country produced these masterpieces. Probably America, but from what I've heard, this was the book that Joy Division were named after so it must have had its (ahem) enthusiasts in Blighty as well.

The question it raises for me is: was it better before 'political correctness' and people judging their neighbours? Now, you'd probably think it creepy if your neighbour was reading a book that offered titillation based on women being exploited by genocidal sadists. Yet 1) it was popular at the time* and 2) Do we really have the right to judge our neighbours and 'psychoanalyse' their motives and emotions and 3) Wouldn't it be oddly liberating living in a country where no-one cared especially what their neighbours thought and 4) Wasn't fascism like communism the result of people thinking they had the right to pre-emptively judge others based on popular values and 5) Does the success of books like this pretty much prove we're mainly bastards anyway, just some are less bashful?

Of course political correctness would stop books with such covers being released, but only puts a different slant on pretty similar stuff. Hence, Schindler's List had all the typical Spielbergian sentimentality, but when it came to the shower scene, it was all young women as far as I can remember.

*Over five million copies sold apparently, dunno if it crossed their minds that 'five million' might not be an especially tasteful figure when marketing a book on the Holocaust

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

See Saw

Well, ain't that nice, a severed hand. Just what I want to see when I open yahoomail. When I was in Dunfermline I noticed the buses had this poster on their sides.

I'm totally opposed to film censorship except in extreme circumstances. Adults have a right to choose what to watch. Yet putting up posters like this is a sign of how selfish consumerism is. At risk of sounding like Maude Flanders, won't somebody think of the children? Or am I just a young fogey for thinking that children should be protected from such images even if it means clogging the wheels of commerce?

Whilst I have recently written about how the left have focussed on self-righteous extreme social liberalism instead of making a comprehensive argument for social democracy, I do wonder why conservatives seem to adore the free market even when its consumerism brutalises society? Surely the Middle Englanders can see that the free market had done more harm to their values than any socialist policy?

I hope through this I do not sound self-righteous, I do not regard myself as better than these poster-makers, in fact I am probably a lot worse. Yet I do find it curious that many people think our values should be spread abroad.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Whoever's Left

Usually when I recommend a link, it is because it is full of valuable information (such as this recent piece on Russian demographics).

However, a recent Telegraph article has a ‘car crash fascination’. The 100 most influential leftists in Britain (I decided against linking to it, don't want any of them to get more hits than they deserve). It really means the most famous 100 leftists who are patronised for being steeped in the received wisdom of East-Anglia’s media establishment.

It is interesting though, for demonstrating how hypocritical a lot of our talk on Iran is. Yes, yes. Britain is not Iran. Yet when we say that it is run by Ayatollahs who are totally out of touch with the people,we ignore that our own East-Anglian ‘intelligentsia’ are way out of touch with the rest of Britain.

Over 70% of Brits support renationalising the railways, yet I doubt if 10% on the list would agree; in fact very many of them think that our extortionately priced yet underfunded railways are a privatisation success story. Whilst an overwhelming mjaority of Brits want to leave Afghanistan and think Britain should not have gone to war in Iraq, the majority on the list would probably disagree. But this is not the list of 100 most influential Tories.

Interestingly, I also read that Thatcher did not actually reduce public spending, yet it seems that this myth still persists on both left and right. Many people on both sides of the 'intelligentsia' in Britain believe and circulate the view that she saved Britain.

Still, back to the list. The overwhelming majority come under three categories 1) New Labour loyalists 2) Grief athletes 3) Neo-liberals who keep the insipid stew of received wisdom bubbling.

The first includes people such as John Rentoul, who supports neo-con foreign policy and writes gossip about how wonderful Tony Blair is. Interestingly enough, I once read an article querying if Rentoul was Peter Mandelson. Whilst it was probably a joke, it does demonstrate that even if it was a list of the 99 most influential leftists, the collective IQ and ideas would be in no way diminished (in fact if it was the top 5 leftists, it would not diminish the spectrum of ideas).

The second category includes ignorant whingers like Johann Hari who attack the ‘disastrous nationalised industries of the 1970s' but screech about the Pope’s being responsible for AIDS in Africa. This is just patently dumb (see here for more 'leftist' idiocy). I am not a Roman Catholic: there is much that I oppose in Catholic theology and Church structure. But, really, how dumb do you have to be to think that following the church’s teaching increases your chances of getting AIDS.? Furthermore, why should this be ‘left wing’? It’s just stupid.

Both would roughly fit into the third category, which includes most of the people on the list. There were a few I respected, such as Shami Chakrabarti and George Monbiot. But the overwhelming majority were right-wing dullards.

As for what left wing means, I do not really know. There are ways that I would differ from the left-wing status quo in opposition to abortion and my admiration for Eurocentric authoritarian rulers like Vladimir Putin and Charles De Gaulle (though neither Russia nor France have our oppressive CCTV surveillance or gun-laws). Given my involvement in the Greek community, I cannot believe that largescale Islamic immigration will be a good thing (even though I have personally found Muslims charming people). Yet given the overwhelming victory of neo-liberalism in terms of influence (if not prescience) my social democratic views would definitely make me left wing.

So where are all the leftists? There are many left wingers who are amusing, astute, interesting and many more who are not boring right wing maniacs. Yet none of them are on the list.

Yet do we have a common cause? Would it be better if we gave up on all the cultural debates (where neo-liberals are almost identical) and focus on intellectual arguments for social democracy? Any thoughts?

Friday, 25 September 2009

Mah Haht's In da Haylands

I thank God for the beautiful scenery that we are blessed with. St Columba probably walked here.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

What Must be Done (Updated)

When challenged as a ‘limp wristed liberal’, I found it interesting to think about what my political beliefs really are. What really struck me was how ‘politicians’ must be weirdoes: the idea that anyone could write a manifesto as anything but a practical joke to satirise their own pomposity.

Still, I thought I’d list my political opinions, which are extremely weird and will probably have changed by tomorrow.

1) I am a foreign policy isolationist. Unless it’s an ethnic group I like that’s in trouble. I’d intervene for them, mind, but no-one else. I’d tell the Turks that if any ethnic Greeks are harmed in Constantinople, or if any more Greek Cypriots are killed, they’d better find a cure for radiation poisoning by the next day. But aside from that, ‘humanitarian intervention’ is an idiot’s game (as for conflicts between ethnic groups I like, it just makes my head hurt thinking about it).

Instead of a 'war on terror' there would be a war of terror. Meaning that every type of paramilitary organisation would be legal and the professional army would only be allowed to defend a state's borders. For instance the 'muscular secular liberal' paramilitary would automatically draft Christopher Hitchens, Charles Johnson and Roger Simon. They'd be parachuted into Islamabad where they'd promptly be twatted with wooden blocks, dragged through the streets, dowsed with kerosene, set alight and fed to honey badgers. A great tragedy, I'm sure we'll all agree, but a price worth paying for the opportunity to have a practical role in the faith/ reason/ liberalism conflict. Overall, it would be the best thing for muscular secularism since 'Pajamas Media'.

Before I'm accused of hypocrisy, I'd join a Byzantine paramilitary in the blink of an eye, if they took on 5.6 asthmatics.

2) I oppose abortion. Generally I agree with the liberal left, but none of my left/ liberal buddies have yet given me a reason why an unborn child should not be regarded as a human being. Whilst they often claim to be scientific and rational, I notice that their rationality tends to disintegrate at this point. Yes, I know there are many complex issues (rape, incest, birth abnormalities, mother’s life in danger) yet these are a tiny minority of births and dictate people’s attitude to wide laws.

It is interesting that the social democratic revolution in Latin America does not seem to have changed their laws on these issues much.

3) Economically I am a Social Democrat who thinks the Franco-German model makes the most sense and is not as unstable or unjust as the Anglo-American plutocracies. Large industries should be under national ownership, though petit bourgeoisie capitalism should be given minimal taxation and even subsidised.

4) I believe in freedom of speech, though think that social liberalism has become a one way street that protects groups from legal discrimination, which is positive, but also suppresses freedom of speech. ‘Hate speech’ is generally a term used by crypto-fascists who want to take people’s freedom of expression away.

5) I’m for ending the false dichotomy between illegal and legal drugs. Legalise everything, but do not market anything. The war on drugs is a horrific fiasco which could see the collapse of Mexico, Guatamala and Honduras (and which is responsible for their huge homicide rate). There is no debate that these chemicals (unpleasant though they are: and I'm a guy who doesn't even take caffeine after mid afternoon) should be sold by private companies not gangsters.

6) I’m entirely in favour of private gun ownership. Again, this is an issue where I’d disagree with the liberal left, though except for the African-American community, America does not have a very high homicide rate, nor does Germany, France or Switzerland. To avoid being labelled a loonertarian (again), I would have a system whereby no man with a gun should be allowed to watch a romantic comedy or buy albums of love songs. I'm sure that would see the homicide rate flatline.

7) Treatment of the GLBT community should be democratic. If the general public approves of ‘civil unions’, that is their decision. If they do not, that is also their decision. It is not for the state to peep into people’s bedrooms, but it is not for the state to be a killjoy and deprive people of the right to make fun of those who’re different. Especially (incidentally) those Littlejohn/ Peter Hitchens Conservatives who make out that gays are going to come knocking on the door, or that they are victimised by gay propaganda: they're the greatest laughingstocks of the lot. As for the situation in Russia, it seems pretty dumb to want a Gay Pride event when the average Moscow citizen probably feels as much pride at their homicide/ STD rate as they do in their gay community. Still, it is all democratic.

8) I oppose the teaching of Intelligent Design/ creationism, though I also do not think that Darwinism is a perfect scientific theory. The world would adopt my concept of Protagoran materialism.

9) Saying I think banking should be regulated is now like saying I'm for free air, but it is something I’ve long believed in.

10) Job seeker allowance should be changed for a system that gives people an opportunity to work on a government project and use their skills, and meet people.

11) Phone/ internet monitoring and CCTV Surveillance must be abolished.

12) The EU must be replaced by another Euro-phile system based in Athens. This should adopt some of the many good ideas that America has (deregulation of small-scale businesses) whilst keeping European concepts of social justice.

Their first priority would be to create fraternity between the nations. This should encourage travelling and cooperative working, perhaps something similar to the Kibbutz system in Israel.

Their second priority should be to address the demographic catastrophe awaiting Europe.

13) Immigration from Islamic nations with a history of violent extremism (Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Algeria) should be restricted. Immigration from outside Europe should be based on skills and the job market.

14) Film censorship should be stopped and age categories should be moved from restrictions to recommendations. Promoting films will be open to censorship (really guys, I support the right to make ‘Saw’, but a sliced up head on the side of a bus?)

Conversely, I would limit TV stations to three hours of broadcasts a day.

15) Rights to insult everyone's religion, philosophy, race, gender, sexual orientation, job, physical appearance, income bracket, physical courage, mode of transport (etc) will be protected by law.

16) National Anthems are used to stir up boneheaded conflicts, so they would be replaced by pop songs, chosen by me. Scotland's National Anthem would be 'Sunshine of your Love', whilst England's would be 'Agadoo'. Unless they stop causing trouble with Russia, the Visegrad nations would be given a selection from 'Queen's Greatest Hits' with Poland getting 'Old Fashioned Lover Boy'.

17) Ancient Greek would become the Lingua Franca for Europe.

18) A fat tax would be put in place (can't think where I got that idea from). Not for those of us afflicted with bad glands, of course, but for fatty foods.

I’m used to being hated by conservatives and neo-liberals, though I shall now probably be unpopular with leftists and libertarians too. If you agree with me on more than half my points the chances are I’ve stolen some of your ideas and you’ll hate me anyway ;-).