Sunday, 26 December 2010

All I Want for Christmas

Thanks to all readers and those who've commented.

A few petitions worth signing:

Save Britain's (especially England's) forests:

And stop Donald Trump from ruining a unique ecosystem:

And get the wealthy to pay their taxes:

I'll be away for a few days, but have a happy festive period everyone.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Cheap Shot

I like cheap clothes, so much so that I only buy them in charity shops. But found the J'accuse finger pointing at 'cheap' clothes in today's Observer.

For this Observer lefty, Gap and Topshop are 'cheap fashion'. Flippin eck, I like to think that buying in charity shops is a way of opting out of the system (nothing to do with being Aberdonian, honest), but I probably wouldn't be able to afford 'cheap' clothes as defined by the Metropolitan media.

As is usually the case, in smug atheist sermons, it is always 'we' and 'us' who buy cheap clothes. Meaning of course poor people whom 'we' despise.

But here's an idea: why don't all the metropolitan luvvies start subsidising textile cooperatives or offer to take poor people to the tailor's to get kitted out?

Or is lambasting poor people as slave drivers for buying stuff from rich people really the best you can do?

Saturday, 18 December 2010

White Magic

When I started this blog, I hoped to write more about Eastern Orthodoxy. It is ironic that Brits are bombarded with anti-Christian propaganda focussed largely on fundamentalists in America, when the very liberals who shudder with horror at Palin's support for Intelligent Design or 'The Decider's' Methodist faith, share so many of their basic tenets: that there is little room for beauty or culture, that poor people should fend for themselves, that white people who speak English should enjoy a special place in the world, there is no alternative to liberalism or fundamentalist protestantism, an open horror that Russia's president is surrounded by 'cowled figures' (to quote a certain New Atheist, who presumably thinks 'dog collared figures' would be a lot less offensive).

However, I think it is more difficult to write about being an Orthodox Christian, largely because it is a very complex faith with a strong apophatic tradition. I believe in Christ the Redeemer, the Holy Trinity, His Resurrection. But I have no interest whatsoever in trying to draw lessons in biology or physics from the Old Testament or in feeling superior to other people based on faith.

For me Orthodoxy is something to be experienced, like art or scenery and I expect the same is true for Christians in other Apostolic traditions. Perhaps it is for this reason that I find this story a profound work of Christian art, perhaps as much for what isn't in it, than what is. There is no good v evil plot, no hero, no miracles. I especially love the following exchange:

'Besides, you have no business to be an unbeliever. You ought to stand for all the things these stupid people call superstitions. Come now, don’t you think there’s a lot in those old wives’ tales about luck and charms and so on, silver bullets included? What do you say about them as a Catholic?’

‘I say I’m an agnostic,’ replied Father Brown, smiling.

Another exchange illuminates Chesterton's outlook:

‘Oh, yes,’ replied Father Brown, ‘I believe in the Devil. What I don’t believe in is the Dundee. I mean the Dundee of Covenanting legends, with his nightmare of a horse. John Graham was simply a seventeenth-century professional soldier, rather better than most. If he dragooned them it was because he was a dragoon, but not a dragon. Now my experience is that it’s not that sort of swaggering blade who sells himself to the Devil. The devil-worshippers I’ve known were quite different. Not to mention names, which might cause a social flutter, I’ll take a man in Dundee’s own day. Have you ever heard of Dalrymple of Stair?’

‘No,’ replied the other gruffly.

‘You’ve heard of what he did,’ said Father Brown, ‘and it was worse than anything Dundee ever did; yet he escapes the infamy by oblivion. He was the man who made the Massacre of Glencoe. He was a very learned man and lucid lawyer, a statesman with very serious and enlarged ideas of statesmanship, a quiet man with a very refined and intellectual face. That’s the sort of man who sells himself to the Devil.’

Chesterton's Stuart sympathies weren't popular in Edwardian England, nor would they be popular now. Despite the raw bigotry of the Whigs, the Orangites and Hanoverians, it is the Stuarts who are hated for their lack of regard for Parliament and the Protestant faith. There is no irony that William of Orange was a friend of Parliament and he signed orders to authorise the massacre of an entire village. Human ethics can, and will, justfiy anything. So much for the Glorious Revolution, which militant atheists probably admire as much as any Orangeman.

No matter how much Britain has changed, or tells itself it has changed, Chesterton's Stuart message* has probably never had as hostile an audience as the current neo-liberal media coalition.

Still, maybe the ever more evident bankruptcy of this ideology will lead to British people casting it off forever.

(* It has to be added that Chesterton was far from being an angel and did demonstrate signs of anti-Semitism; but even then, his romanticism and Christian distributism were very interesting ideals).

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Rats on the Sinking Ship

Neo-liberals tend to have a very limited number of historical reference points: Hitler and Stalin are pretty much the only historical figures to cut it, but boy, do they like using these metaphors. Chavez in Venezuela, Ahmedinjad in Iran, Putin in Russia: Hitlerstalins all of them.

The thing is there actually is a bloke in Russia who admires Nazism and Stalinism: his name is Eduard Limonov and Western neo-liberals are surprisingly indulgent towards him. His party's flag is on top of this page. Hardly something you'd imagine the self-righteous Putin-hating Graun to be very indulgent toward.

But just read this piece of drivel about the 'possible future leader of Russia' (who would be lucky to get 5% of the vote).

The interview was carried out by Marc Bennetts. I know very little about Marc Bennetts, but I do know he's the sort of person that makes me embarrassed to be British; a sub-David Mitchell awkward square, albeit one who desperately wants to show his street cred. In just a few paragraphs he writes: 'Limonov may insist that his pogo-ing days are far behind him, but when I ask him if he believes he has a real chance of becoming president there is something distinctly punk rock about his answer' and 'I can't help but point out.' Can't you actually? But don't worry Marc, you is one cool dude, what with your reference to

'Sex Pistol-era Johnny Rotten's use of the swastika to unnerve middle England also springs to mind, but neither musician has yet to enter politics'

Being honest, I actually felt modestly impressed by Limonov's dismissal of his 70s experience of New York popular culture. Perhaps, unlike many middle class squares in Britain, he realises that the days pop culture had any power to shock or rebel are long past. Just look at how his tirade affects a compatriot of The Beatles:

"In Russia, fortunately, the people still have some barbarian spirit. But Europeans and Americans are just dying, sick invalids." He looks across the table at me for a reaction. I sympathise with what he is saying: while life in Russia may not be easy, it is, at least, never dull. But something stops me agreeing with him, and instead I voice an ironic, "Thanks."

This really sets out the Jekyll and Hyde duality of our political class. On one hand, they are feeble and flinching, unable to offer more than weak sarcasm in response to a tirade. On the other hand, they seem to have a weakness for 'barbarians'. Just think of all the public schoolboys who fawned over 'macho' George W Bush because he lived on a farm and declared war on Iraq. By contrast most Russians are happier with their dwarfish lawyer President than with a Nazi-Bolshevik.

Perhaps the saddest thing is how Garry Kasparov's coalition which involves both Limonov and Yeltsin's crew of economy wreckers overshadows real dissent in Russia. According to some reports Anna Politkovskaya (a real heroic dissident) suspected that many of the liberals were actually in league with the Kremlin. If the United Russia party really wanted an ideal strawman, they couldn't do better than Limonov. But then, The Guardian would probably be kinder to the Fascist-Bolshevik strawman than to an authoritarian but popular and patriotic leadership, seeing him as 'Putin's worst enemy' rather than 'Putin's dream opponent'.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Leaking Stupidity

For those who believe Wikileaks to be a massive anti-climax of gossip and hearsay, one completely surprising side-effect is to prove beyond any doubt that Russia is becoming a totalitarian dystopia under the perpetual role of Adolf Hitlerstalin Putin.

On the day in which a website published documents revealing that an American ambassador speculated negatively about the state of Russian politics, the Russian media was deafeningly silent about the news.

"Russia is obviously stepping backwards", Johny Wright-Wynge, a left-wing journalist announced. "I mean, here they have an excellent opportunity to lie in the snow in a flea infested hair shirt and implore people who speak English to flog them for their shortcomings, and then maybe ask for mercy. But they've passed it up! Truly Russia is a mystery wrapped in an enigma.

'I mean, hey, I supported the Iraq war. It didn't go right. But really, if you think the sight of daft hicks sicing attack dogs on bare naked Iraqi civilians means that we don't have the upper hand, morally speaking, then you're living on another planet and I can only pity you.

'And, yeah, you know, I'm left wing; I think that Sex and the City is the greatest TV ever and Desperate Housewives is great, and cocaine good, Christianity bad, but you know, the Slav untermensch need to get their shit together, or we leftists'll kick ass. Or send some squaddies to get their arms and legs blown off. That always makes me feel cool about myself.'

Wright's comments were echoed by Fomenko Unkltomovitch who accepted to be interviewed in exchange for a packet of dog biscuits. Fomenko has been banned from working for the Russian media: a failure he attributes to his dislike of Vladimir Putin. Fomenko affirmed the significance of Russia's deafening silence and spoke to a Guardian journalist in flawless broken English and sycophantic platitudes "Yes, Russia is, uh, run by zuh gangster, uh, oligarchs. It is uh, megabig crime, vich ve are very sorry for. Ve can only hope zat ze vestern leaders see zeir senses and, uh, get behind Boris Berezovksy and uh, Mikhail Kho-dorkoh-vsky, uh, to clean up zee Russia and to, as you say, save it from zuh crooked oligarchs who uh doing so much damaging. As Khodorkovsky, ah said, in Russia ve sink British people are very clever, and zere is even folk song on subject, ve very sorry if Britain not like in folksong'.

For managing to struggle with 'Khodorkovsky' despite its being a Russian name, Fomenko was given a chew toy as a bonus prize. In return he offered to dress up as a cossack and sing about how wise British people are, but we feared for his safety in such an event.

Te Graunian, the left-wing newspaper of international influence, which is instrumental in forming American foreign policy informed the world of the need to 'reset American-Russian relations'. President Barack Obama is said to have written immediately to he Garudn to ask specifically what steps to take and immediately called Airforce One to take him to London. The article was cunningly encrypted to read like contradictory, pointless waffle with a touch of sabre-rattling to compensate for FIFA's decision to hold the 2018 world cup anywhere but England. However, this is a mere ruse to throw the NKVD off the scent.

the chief Gaurdin editor and President Obama's chief Russian affairs advisor spoke gravely of the necessity of media freedom.
"When I read the leaked messages, I was dressed up in a white sheet and banging a gong to warn the British people that the time of the beast is at hand: that Rupert Murdoch's filthy right wing paws are going to seize even more of the British media. I mean, the way media freedom works is that we publish alarmist editorials about scary foreigners and they publish alarmist editorials about scary foreigners and we publish editorials about the dangers of big government and they publish editorials about the dangers of big government. We both share the view that people who speak English have the innate moral superiority over those who don't and that nationalisation is bad, but it's important we do it for different reasons'.

(Sorry if this is utter crap, but I really couldn't begin to try and 'debate' te Graun's idiotic treatment of wikileaks. Yes, Russia has its problems and I would much rather see an economically left-wing civil-libertarian leader. but WTF do the current Western governments have to offer Russia aside from oligarchs, unquestioning support for Chechen terrorists and bombs in their parliament?)