Wednesday, 26 December 2018

Happy belated Christmas and Samuel Johnson

I see that I put up a post complaining about self-righteous progressives on Christmas day, so I had better try and add some seasonal light-heartedness to my blog.

In fact I've spent much of the last month focusing on the more spiritual and nurturing side of things (though for all the  bloody good it's done my temper, I wonder if I ought to have bothered..). But I wanted to share some wonderful, if slightly acerbic, Samuel Johnson-related quotes.

Firstly, a segment of Horace Walpole's systematic character assassination of Johnson. Wikipedia tells us that

"Horatio Walpole, 4th Earl of Orford (24 September 1717 – 2 March 1797), also known as Horace Walpole, was an English art historianman of lettersantiquarian and Whig politician"

He was also the son of the first Prime Minister of Britain - it's always difficult to be the son of a famous & respected father - and a writer. His fiction seems to have been of limited interest, but his letters are fascinating for anyone interested in those times. Here he is on the celebrated Dr Johnson and the 'zanies' who admire him:

"The Signora talks of her Doctor's expanded mind, and has contributed her mite to show that never mind was narrower. In fact the poor man is to be pitied: he was mad, and his disciples did not find it out, but have unveiled all his defects: nay, have exhibited all his brutalities as wit, and his lowest conundrums as humour"

and this is my favourite bit (I am going to use this one myself):

"What will posterity think of us when it reads what an idol we adored"

Perhaps a Whig politician of those times would find many things about a Tory disagreeable (I'm astonished by people whose judgements of others depend entirely on their politics, rather than objective examination of their qualities). Johnson was indeed something of a Tory who embellished his reports of Parliamentary debates so that "the Whig dogs should not have the best of it"

I should say that I actually rather like Samuel Johnson, but when I read that last quote, I'm uncomfortably reminded of how I feel when I find there is enough public demand for Russel Brand to appear on TV again, and for him to have a "Booky wook" published. I'd anyway like to let Dr Johnson have the last word(s) here with a couple of his remarks:

"I have found you an argument, sir. I am not obliged to find you an understanding"

(I'm definitely using that one, as well... I get the same feeling very often on Twitter). A bit of wisdom:

"Sir, I look upon every day to be lost, in which I do not make a new acquaintance"

and finally, for Christmas, a note of mystery

"This world, where much is to be done and little to be known"





Tuesday, 25 December 2018

The childish tricks of the progressive left

Everything is racism

It seems to me that British (nay Western) life has become dominated by accusations of racism - often on the smallest pretext - to the point where discussion of politics becomes all but impossible, and therefore doesn't happen properly. Rulers in Europe are committed to mass immigration, and reportedly are considering whether to classify and dissent on the subject as "hate-speech". (this development is, in itself, a serious infringement of freedom of speech)

But whatever the ruling classes think they are doing we can't pretend that the obsession with racism is confined to them - it is rampant among well-off liberals living in London, Oxford and other university cities in Britain. I myself know well (and have written about) some of the types who keep the perpetual racism narrative alive. You'll be at a kids' party talking to other parents, or sipping cocktails in someone's spacious garden - often living in the whitest districts in Britain - and the conversation will veer towards "racism" as if attracted by a sort of black hole, from which nothing can ever escape.

There's a video on Youtube where a reformed SJW explains how she used to be actively looking for racism, almost hoping to see some so she could step in and be the hero. This is very common and illustrates the skewed perspective of such people. It's hard enough to understand life as it is, but you simply cannot see things clearly if you start out looking for a particular phenomenon, and ignoring everything else..

The trap being used to silence conservatives

We're bombarded with anti-white-male political correctness. I travel on my bus to work and I see posters advertising a 6th form college, that show several girls and a coloured boy. An advert for a martial arts class that has the same ratio - no white boys. I try to ignore this and open the newspaper that's free on the bus and by God it's Metro - the . At the weekend, I go to a nativity and open the carol booklet, and I see pictures of girls singing, with a boy in blurry focus very much in the background. And yesterday I watched Carols for Kings, once the glory of the BBC and one of the most powerful expressions of British spirituality you'll see still alive and well. But the powers tht be have screwed with this tradition, too. Most of the readers of lessons were women - the ratio was so blatant that they can only have been trying to make a pointl most readers had a north American accent, weirdly; there was one Muslim (naturally, at a Christian service...) and eventually I think one white male got to read a lesson.

The denizens of Twitter, as usual, paid scant attention to the beautiful music being played and got down to the serious business of pushing progressive politics. A user claimed to be disgusted with the whole thing - he didn't explain why - and people lined up to ask "Why?", "Please tell us why?". They'd made up their mind already.

That's the trap - we're having a particular agenda shovelled over us every day, and if you complain there are enough fanatics out there waiting to a) say how much they approve of it and b) are looking out for anyone who doesn't approve of it, so they can closely question that person and imply or just say outright that they are racist.

"Let's do something to wind up the Gammon brigade"

Sometimes the whole trap is quite deliberate. The Labour government who started mass immigration into the UK were open about their wish to rub conservatives' noses in it. They knew full well that they could not only secure votes, but accuse anyone who opposed the policy of racism. It was win-win for them. I'm certain the BBC do the same thing. When the new Dr Who was announced as a woman (what a joke that is, by the way, done purely for political reasons when there were already excellent Time Lady characters in the Rani and Romana) the usual Twitter crowd - aching to display some virtue, were circling like a pack of vultures waiting for someone to complain - simply so they could call that person a "misogynist". They gleefully announced how the best thing about this was that it "upset the Gammon brigade".

There is something wrong with us if our priority is to wind up someone from a group we want to accuse of hatred

They can keep this game up forever, and it is openly anti white-male - I don't think there is any controversial in my saying that. The discrimination against white, straight men,  flagrantly illegal though it is - is openly on view) The only antidote to it is for us all to call it out for what it is, unafraid of being accused of "hate-speech".

That and the fact that the opportunistic accusations of hatred are so reflexive, and often on such spurious grounds, that terms like "racism" will lose their power. This would weaken the grievance industry, but would hardly be a good thing in itself.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Why Yasmin Alibhai-Brown is slightly unpopular

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown has recently been described as "the most annoying woman in Britain", and normally I'd think this is hyperbole, or at least a difficult title to win so easily.

That is, till I spent 20 or 30 minutes watching some of her interviews and reading a few of her somewhat tendentious writings. I thought a brief summary would be helpful, as she's been at it again in that charming newspaper The European. This is what I learnt about Yasmin

1) she appears to be a committed enemy of Britain's culture and wellbeing, posing as a sort of concerned critic of our country, who wants to make it a better place.
2) her shrill, unremitting complaints about our island make one wonder - how much about it does she actually like? Indeed, it's infuriating to those of us that love this country and it's history. She usually drops into the conversation that she chose to make a home here, then proceeds to relentlessly rubbish Britain.
3) exasperated folk will hence often fall into her trap and (quite reasonably) say either "well why did you choose to live here" or "if you hate Britain so much, why not leave". It's a perfectly fair reply, but it's also exactly what she wants you to say, so that she can go onto her other favourite subject: calling us all racists.

This seems to be her game. It's perfectly fair to want to change things, but it's worth remembering that ISIS and the Nazis also wanted to - as they saw it - "change Britain for the better". We are, I think, entitled to ask for a certain loyalty to our culture from those who want to, um, tweak it. All the more so if they want to overhaul it completely.

Yasmin and her friends would no doubt shout racist if they read this. But in truth they'll call anyone and everyone "racist" (you don't actually have to say anything to qualify, just being white and male will suffice). My previous paragraph is perfectly relevant for white revolutionaries and extreme "progressives" who want to overturn everything about Britain.

Some of this crew claim to love Britain, which takes an effort to believe - what exactly is it about Britain that Corbyn or Diane Abbott love? Never trust revolutionaries.

Finally Daniel Hannan rightly takes Ms Alibhai-Brown to task on her attitudes towards the poor people of Britain. What a charmer she is. Whatever happens in Britain, one of the things we need to fix is this new snobbery.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Another attack on free speech. A victory for terrorists?

There's a danger that the British government's main response to the recent wave of terrorist attacks in London & Manchester will be to clamp down on "Islamophobia"

I put this term in quotes because it's impossible to define. Does it mean criticism of the faith, or of any single adherent, or all adherents? Or is it implied criticism of any of the latter? Because the term is so hard to define, it will be judged arbitrarily to scare people - and probably subjectively too. Will there be a report of islamophobia - fair or not - every day, tying the police up?

Quite simply, is there anything we can safely say about Islam, apart from the most servile praise, that won't attract the interest of the Thought Police?

Freedom of speech RIP

The result of this crackdown will be that Islamist extremists will have succeeded in damaging one of our key liberties - freedom of speech. No faith or group should be exempt from criticism. This would be a victory for the enemies of our way of life.

Wrong approach

If the rationale for all this is that government is afraid that the wider Muslim community are in danger of being "offended" or alienated then this approach is feeble. Some Muslims are shocked by the atrocities committed in the name of their religion. They feel responsible.

But too often the first response from many Muslims to terrorist attacks seems to be "oh great, we're going to be blamed for this. We're the victims". This attitude is extremely disturbing, and needs to be challenged. Unfortunately the British Left often encourage it, and I think this is criminal stupidity on their part. We should be tougher on this, treading on eggshells makes us look weak.

Special status

A further problem is with making Islamophobia a crime when one can say anything one likes about Christianity, or any other religion. I know people who are exceptionally rude about Christianity, but worry that they'll be seen as racist if they say the same about Islam. There is no reason why Muslims should expect or receive special status

About 40 years ago the film The Life of Brian was released, one of the funniest films I've seen. Proponents of free speech asserted - sometimes vehemently -  that we should be able to say whatever we liked, even about things society holds dear. Where is that belief now?

People don't criticise Islam so much (although some point to disturbing passages from its holy book), because of two fears: the fear of being called "racist" (or "xenophobe" or "Islamophobe"), and the fear of being killed by a fanatical believer for making the criticism.

Context and censorship


  • We have had 3 major Islamist attacks in as many months. 
  • Apparently there have been 5 foiled plots. 
  • A nursery nurse has been attacked in London recently by women making reference to Allah (although some broadcasters seem to have forgotten to report that last detail). 
  • A video has gone viral of a London youth being arrested in possession of 3 machetes. 
  • We read that there are 23,000 potential jihadis on our Security services' watchlist. 
  • There has been another attack in Paris in the last few days, 
  • ..and another in Brussels yesterday.


Some anger is therefore entirely rational from non-Muslim communities in the UK. To make expression of that anger illegal is unjust, and will lead to voter apathy and resentment. It seems that  Darren Osborne has targeted Muslims in a serious crime, and will rightly be punished. But the attack on freedom of speech is a dangerous mistake, that will exacerbate tensions rather than ameliorate them.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

The biggest threat to free-speech. Governments or ordinary folk?

Recently, reading this page on the openDemocracy site, I wrote a comment - where I was basically thinking aloud - mentioning how some of the forces that curtail our freedom of speech are simply other ordinary people, playing power games with one another.

Government censorship & free speech

This needs further explanation, because our first, intuitive idea of "censorship" is of government control of expression. Modern day hate-speech laws are a perfect example of this. To bullet point my problems with the idea:

  • "Hate-speech" is impossible to define (partly because the word "hate" is, too)
  • what constitutes "Hate-speech" therefore becomes a matter of interpretation
  • that interpretation is in danger of 
    • being applied unequally to different groups
    • being applied in too many scenarios
The last point is key. Officials will eagerly look for new ways of applying this new law, forgetting the essential maxim that one should leave our liberties well alone (especially free speech) unless there is an excellent reason for restricting them. Roughly, being free to kill someone has such a deleterious effect on others' freedom & lives, that it's reasonable to restrict that freedom. 

Casually making it illegal to say something because someone might be offended or angered is a most dangerous path - which we've seen the consequences of. We ought to know better..

People power

What of the other sort of thought control? I think it's worth examining the way ordinary people influence each other's language and expression. It's surely a phenomenon we'll never be rid of, but being fully aware of such forces can only strengthen us against the appeal of GroupThink. 

Over and over again on Twitter and Facebook you can see people saying X because they think the larger peer group (their friends and acquaintances) will approve of X, not because they truly believe X.

My belief is that organised religions used to retain power by this sort of social pressure. As well as the threat of eternal damnation, religion was one vehicle for people to play games of social approval with one another. In the West, we have a new faith that tries to exercise the same sort of moral power - and it is the new Left, with their relentless accusations of racism and misogyny.

I've said often enough that I think feminism is about control rather than the stated aim of equality. Because of the nature of the movement, their means of influencing what you do think or say are numerous: social disapproval, righteous anger, group politics, etc. A respected scientist who says the wrong thing or even wears the wrong shirt is hounded online by an unpleasant army.

The tactic I find scariest, and most akin to something from Orwell's 1984, is the rather successful attempt to influence literature, screen drama, and all levels of education.

Sure a lot of ludicrous feminist dogma has already infiltrated government - and it's a major headache. But nothing says more about how feminism operates than that they quietly lobbied for 'guidelines' for textbooks and writers of drama. (I see the same influences at play with children's literature)

Trying to control the stories and ideas people come into contact with is reminiscent of the worst excesses of the nastier 20th century governments. This effort started with ordinary people telling each other what they should think or say, and has turned into a major movement for doing same. It seems that as long as there is a loosely-defined feminist movement, there will be attempts not to persuade, but to indoctrinate.

Feminism is about control, not equality

EDIT: A piece from early 2016 that I didn't publish originally. Still worth a look I think, as I'm revisiting the same theme

Occasionally, when they think they are getting a bad press (or when soul-searching over the fact that very few people believe their bizarre opinions) feminists say things like "feminism is about equality". This is suitably vague, enabling them to "clarify" later on, I want to suggest that the only thing that makes sense of numerous strands of feminist behaviour is the unusually strong desire to exercise control others - very often men - by any means possible.

Control of language

Feminists in the 80s seemed to get quite excited about the word "chairman", which they wanted changed because, to quote one of them "it reflects a male-dominated society". That was the language they used in those days, I'm not sure "patriarchy" had caught on back then.

A couple of years ago, feminists en masse decided to use the #banBossy tag on twitter - they wanted the word "bossy" made illegal or unacceptable  in some way because they thought (mysteriously) that it was used mainly about women.

One celebrity suggested that the word "fat" be banned too, apparently she believed this would be accepted by many people. It's probable that she will have thought this because of many conversations with friends where they all got rather overconfident about what things should be banned because they didn't like them, so this is more than just one person's eccentric idea

Finally there was a proposal to the EU in 2013 that anti-feminism be criminalised under "hate-speech" laws.

Feminists want to control what you say. George Carlin spotted this fact, though he was considerably more sympathetic to feminism than I am. They also hope, by doing so, to control what you think as well

Control of male sexuality

Feminist groups regularly complain about pornography, and the supposed attitudes it causes in adolescent boys. They've no evidence for this. Similarly to how computer games actually calm kids down, there is no evidence to suggest that the availability of porn increases the amount of sexual assault (even though the definition of such assault has been extended massively in recent years)

But feminists want to control it. Feminist groups also put pressure on governments to ban prostitution, on dubious grounds - and if they can make the legislation demonise the male clients rather than the sex workers themselves then all the better, In some cases this pressure pays off for them.

And finally we come to sex robots. Is there anyone who doesn't realise that the inventor of a perfectly realistic sex-robot is going to be an overnight billionaire? Yet feminists recoil from the idea. I think the laughably obvious reason for this is that - when such robots become available - women will lose their main method of influence over men.

One could be concerned about the effect the robots would have on relationships (hard to say), but I don't think that's what bothers feminists, exactly - though they may claim it is so. The motives for their behaviour become clear when you look at everything else they do. Their reaction to something unknown or frightening is to try and control it, and that goes 100% for the men around them,

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Goodbye beautiful..

I suppose I was just the right age when the film The Empire Strikes Back came out. I was a boy who was still childishly dismissing girls as people I'd never play with, whilst becoming uncomfortably aware that I had these confusing feelings for the opposite sex.

I've almost never had any romantic or sexual interest in celebrities, couldn't understand people who do. But sitting in that London cinema, and seeing the emotions playing across Princess Leia's face, I suddenly realised that everything had changed for me. Life was going to get a good deal more complex from now on - especially if I ever met anyone who had that effect on me (only one or two women I've known ever have)

The way Carrie Fisher's face broke into a smile was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. Her voice was almost as lovely. I now look back and realise that (till today) I lived on the same earth as this absolutely radiant human being, and - had I been in the right place at the right time - might have met her.

Now I never can.