Friday, 24 April 2009

Deformable Mirror

Christos Anesti!

I used this blog name because I hope to write about how the British media constantly misleads the country into seeing itself in a particular way. Through skewed facts, feeble logic and pure mendacity Britain's media feeds the nation with a view of the outside world and foreign cultures that is harmful to us as a country.

Being a Russophile, I find it especially interesting how Russia has become a Jungian archetype of everything Britain opposes, whilst in some regards it has come closer to some supposedly British ideals than the modern British governments are. Still, I always welcome disagreement. I even like disagreeing with myself.

Could Britain achieve the self-congratulation that follows cowardice were it not for the warped reflection of Russia it shows to its people? Who knows? But Britain is not a secular country. Atheist yes, but its media and politicians believe in a certain creed and ignore all evidence to the contrary. These are articles of faith in modern Britain:

1) You are a supporter of Capitalism and Freedom if you support the free market. That this means buying vast goods at credit from a communist dictatorship is beside the point

2) A few centuries ago some British landowners wrote Magna Carta. We privatised most industries. Thus Britain is free and liberal. Any facts to the contrary are to be ignored.

3) CCTV cameras reduce crime.

4) Privatised transport is the best in the world.

5) Russia is a dictatorship under the perennial grasp of Vlad 'the bad' Putin.

6) We have a two party democracy.

7) There is a 'special relationship' between Britain and the USA.

8) The Russians are 'jealous' of the Brits. This is obvious because a Russian crook was poisoned.

9) If you disagree with the received wisdom concerning the 'Hitler' of the moment, then you are 'Chamberlain'.

10) Faith is only valid if it is in atheist ideologies (which of course have had such a perfect record).


  1. Christ is Risen!

    I could write a full blog post to each of the above articles. And you can be sure that the moment I do it, I'll quote you!

    For now, I could only cast doubts on one of your statement - the one about being a Russophile. Well, it's 'comfortable' to like Russians so many miles away from them, admiring their great culture and spirituality.

    I can assure you that being so close to the mighty Russian Bear is not such a comfortable experience. Hundred thousands Romanians could offer painful examples from their lives.

  2. Dear Bogdan

    Christos Anesti!

    I take your first point. I’d initially planned to make this a political blog, but now I think it will primarily be for photography and maybe book reviews, which are less time-consuming. But to respond to your comments here and in the email:

    1) My political views (you may have noticed) have been largely formed by my love of all things French (my ancestral country) except their secularism. It seems to me that they’ve created a system where (contrary to the Hayekian model) the large public sector does not crush capitalism but creates wealthier and more sophisticated consumers. Furthermore, the state runs their trains which are cheaper and more efficient. Lastly, according to Privacy International they have fairly good civil liberties. It is far from perfect, but in my opinion as good as a secular society can be. Those who argue that state assets are the greatest barricade to civil liberties, it seems to me, cannot argue this in the case of Britain/ France.

    I have a lot of time for Nicholas Sarkozy, who has been an excellent diplomat between Russia and Georgia, Turkey and Greece. It is interesting that they have elected the first overtly devout President in a very long time. I suspect that France will become an increasingly devout state.

    2) By French standards Blair and Brown would be on the extreme right. They are not ‘socialists’: they continued the Tory policies of paying vast subsidies to the private sector to run the public transport. They also supported the Neo-liberal policies that destroyed Russia and Iraq. More here:

    As for whether they are socialist because they are statist which they would not be if they were liberals, to me that only works if you buy Hayek’s central idea. But there is no evidence for that. In their attitudes towards the state’s authority, Pinochet was statist, Yeltsin was statist, Reagan was statist, Thatcher was statist; it is fairly irrelevant that they were free-marketeers.

    As I said previously, in parliament the Tories have done nothing about CCTV and very little about civil liberties in general. When Boris Johnson became mayor of London he increased the CCTV cameras.

    3) I do not know if you read a short story called Tlon, Uqubar, Orbis Tertius by Jorge Luis Borges? It is about a country that becomes obsessed with being like a fictional country that exists only in an encyclopaedia. For me that is a perfect metaphor for modern Britain.

    It seems Britain desires to be like what they imagine the USA to be. I have a lot of time for America, but Britain is like a cruel parody of the USA. Furthermore, America’s health care expenditure exceeds the GDP of Communist China. That is why I disagree with you over terms like ‘Liberal/ Etatist’; they are really only two sides of the same coin.

    And this brings me (in a slightly meandering way) to my original point. Britain has a very feeble capitalist system despite its ostensible wealth. British shops have little range and a lot of very bad produce. The private sector is equally capable of inefficiency and waste as the public sector. Both sectors often reward loyalty and ambition over experience and imagination. Look at Tescos. Then compare this to Greece where there was a lot of fresh produce readily available in all the booths. Is Macdonald’s a symbol of the victory or short-comings of capitalism? There were no Macdonald’s in Patras.

    4) As with Russia, point taken. I suppose I was mainly speaking about my romanticised image of Tsarist Russia. Still, it seems to me that for his horrific faults, Putin is a leader who has achieved a lot. As an economic liberal, I wondered what you made of this:

    As with most of my favourite journalists Justin Raimondo is a ‘paleo-con’, even if I disagree with them on some issues. This comes down to my central argument against economic liberalism. Whether by accident or design, economically ‘liberal’ countries always find ways to siphon public money into banks and businesses. Is it so different from direct funding of businesses? Putin (ahem) ‘nationalised’ Yukos so that the money would pour into infrastructure projects. Yet he also helped create a Russian middle class. Many of his internet supporters are (paradoxically) economic libertarians.

    Do you think that liberal capitalism will continue? Or will it consist of increasingly authoritarian leaders enacting freemarket policies?

    5) I did not agree that Scotland is a welfare state paid for by the English. But I think Scotland is a poor country anyway as is Britain once one examines the deficit and banking. Yet an internal Scottish economy could create cheaper commodities, and if we were forced to struggle, I think we could start achieving more.

    Anyway, I hope that things are going well in your life.

    Your brother in Christ


  3. Gregor,

    Your link in #2 is broken.

    PS. Agreed on Tlon, Uqbat, Orbis Tertius - a great story and a wonderful metaphor for where the UK is going.