Friday 29 July 2005

Thursday 28 July 2005

Splendid Mentalism

Few organisations are as comically batty as the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist). Consider the following, for example:

The Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) vehemently condemns the criminal state-organised racist attacks on individuals and their communities, which are increasing since the London bombings. Not one racist attack must be permitted! No community or section of a community must be criminalised! No incitement of community against community must be allowed! RCPB(ML) calls on the working class and people of Britain to squarely blame the government and its apologists in the media for inciting these attacks and demand that they stop their disinformation, fear-mongering and inciting of passions which target sections of the population. Right after the bombings the Prime Minister and Britain’s official circles blamed “Islamic extremists”. Within hours of the London bombings, the Prime Minister set the tone by (1) blaming “Islamic extremists” and (2) thanking various Muslim leaders for their reasonableness. Others joined in by calling on people not to engage in revenge-seeking! Why would the issue of seeking revenge on people of Muslim origin even arise except for the government disinformation and continuous media coverage blaming “Islamists”? The government, the Times and other papers should be held criminally responsible for dividing the polity on the basis of their country of origin, religion, ethnic-background and even different English cities, such as Leeds.
(“No To State-Organised Racist Attacks!” Statement of Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist), July 14, 2005)
Now that the sagacious workers in the Party have thrown sufficient doubt on the outlandish theory that “Islamic extremists” were behind the London bombings, you might wonder who really was responsible. After diligent and indefatigble enquiry, the Party has found the answers:

A consultancy agency with government and police connections was running an exercise for an unnamed company that revolved around the London Underground being bombed at the exact same times and locations as happened in real life on the morning of July 7th. . . .
. . . The fact that the exercise mirrored the exact locations and times of the bombings is light years beyond a coincidence. . . .
. . . The exercise fulfils several different goals. It acts as a cover for the small compartmentalised government terrorists to carry out their operation without the larger security services becoming aware of what they're doing, and, more importantly, if they get caught during the attack or after with any incriminating evidence they can just claim that they were just taking part in the exercise. . . .
. . . In any crime you look at history and motive, The British government has been caught in multiple examples of carrying out bombings in London which were then blamed on the IRA. . .
. . .The London Underground exercises were used as the fallback cover to carry out the attack. This is the biggest smoking gun yet pointing directly to the most secretive levels of the British establishment itself being behind the attack.
(“London Underground Bombing ‘Exercises’ Took Place at Same Time as Real Attack”, by Paul Joseph Watson & Alex Jones/Prison Planet. July 11 2005.)
There are many more delights on the website of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Mentalist-Lentilist), delights which my hide-bound bourgeois scribbling cannot describe adequately. I suggest, therefore, that you pay it a visit.

Wednesday 27 July 2005

Fewtril #9

Our intellectuals hold truth in contempt because it too often makes them look like fools.

Tuesday 26 July 2005

Monsters in Waiting

It has been a matter of great importance to madmen that it be seen that there is nothing between madness and sanity but social prejudice. That which goes in favour of this view, however, is little but the wish of the madman to propagate his madness; for to him the madness, as expressed in an idea, is a great and sacred truth, which ought to find acceptance; and it is in that it does not find wide acceptance that he views the norms of behaviour and society as a prejudicial affront, and common decency and sense as an unjust hinderance.
.....A war is declared against the status quo, radical change is proposed, and all that has been hitherto accepted by society at large is pronounced a great sham, an evil imposition and a bar to self-fulfillment. Yet by this “self-fulfillment” he means nothing but the acceptance of his madness.
.....This broadcasting on behalf of madness and social pathology, this desire to subvert and destroy society, is candidly described by China Miéville in Socialist Worker Online (“China Miéville: A Marxist Guide to Monsters”):

I think that on our side there has always been a sneaking sympathy for the monster. The notion of the monster as mere social pathology is put about by people whose ideal is the social status quo.
.....But there are those of us who, because of our class positions, realise that the status quo is all about violence. So it’s not surprising that we wouldn’t completely buy into the idea that ‘pathologies’ are a bad thing.
.....I very much want to preserve this critical view of monsters. If we go down the route that they are just ‘about’ social pathology, then it follows that we should just get rid of them. But if there are no monsters after the revolution, I don’t want to play!
Mr Miéville need not fret unduly, however; for if we are to judge by other socialist revolutions, there would no doubt be no shortage of monsters in the one to which he looks forward.

Friday 22 July 2005

Fewtril #8

I'm beginning to suspect that a moderate Muslim is a man who wouldn't dream of condoning terrorism before breakfast.

The Gramsci Plague

Most on the Left have abandoned Marx’s idea that a transformation of the economic base would change the “ideological” and cultural superstructure, which is, according to his theory, merely a reflection of that base. Instead, they have embraced Gramsci’s idea that a transformation of the superstructure – the apparatus of the ruling class’s ideology – is necessary before the revolution can take place.
.....Following Gramsci, the scoundrels now wish to “capture the culture” which might be achieved after the “long march through the institutions”. That march is well under way, and might be likened to the advance of a locust-plague through an agricultural district.
.....The resistance of a cultural institution to politicisation is seen as proof of its political nature, an entrenchment of the ruling class’s political dogma, and thus the socialist radical feels justified in politicising it in his own form.
.....Neither content with nor contrite for the economic and human destruction that the politics of the Left have wreaked in the twentieth-century, the Left now has its sights on the destruction of culture – and who yet knows the extent of the human casualties this will bring?

Thursday 21 July 2005

Fewtril #7

The trouble with cynics is not so much that they assume that behind every avowed ideal lies a material and selfish concern, but that they fail to discern that behind many an avowed material and selfish concern lurks an ideal.

Wednesday 20 July 2005

Fewtril #6

Future-orientated persons – those who consider posterity – are less likely to fall in line with the orthodox falsehoods of the age; for if they understand these errors as such, they are loath to sacrifice their reputations in posterity even for the reward of present power or popularity. Present-orientated persons, on the other hand, whose concern lies in immediate reward, would rather serve these falsehoods, even if they understand them as such, than suffer present privations for reputations in posterity that they may never enjoy.

Tuesday 19 July 2005

Su Tung-p'o -- On Crowning a Tranquil Life

Families, when a child is born
Want it to be intelligent.
I, through intelligence,
Having wrecked my whole life,
Only hope the baby will prove
Ignorant and stupid.
Then he will crown a tranquil life
By becoming a Cabinet Minister.

Su Tung-p'o (1036-1101 AD)

(“On the Birth of his Son”, tr. by Arthur Waley, 170 Chinese Poems, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1919)

Fewtril #5

These days it is not enough that a man observe the laws; he must also express outrage at the truth.

Monday 18 July 2005

Two Nations Joined in an Orthographic Squabble

I have come under criticism recently for the spelling of the word "behove". It seems that a chap has been stung into looking the word up in his American Heritage Dictionary, wherein he found, no doubt to his critical delight, that it was spelt "behoove", a finding that has precipitated in him a somewhat dim view of me. This ready disgust at my apparent solecism might explain why he failed to consider a rather important word associated with that doubtlessly august lexicon. That word is "American".
.....I feel it is opportune, therefore, to point out that, contrary to the claim of Jean-Marie Colombani of Le Monde, we are not all Americans, nor, I might fairly add, shall we be in the near future, at least in so far as an Englishman might be permitted to retain his spelling-traditions; for it seems that we Englishmen, if we are to judge not only from our native tradition but also from the pages of the Oxford English Dictionary, have the luxury of two spelling variants: "behove" and "behoove" (from OE behofian). My own preference (call it a peccadillo, if you will) is for the first.
.....I should like to remind further that we in England insist on using a "u" in such words as "favour" and "honour", despite the pain this might cause to the sensibilties of Americans and classicists alike. But there it is: that's what we do......

Fewtril #4

Many a man is so impressed with the idea that the next despots will be wearing jackboots, that he fails to hear the gentle flap of sandals.

Sunday 17 July 2005

Resistance is Futile

In The Sunday Times yesterday, Matthew d'Ancona had the following to say:
Multi-culturalism - often presented as a sinister Left-wing conspiracy - is, in fact, as the philosopher John Gray has written, 'an historical fate', a purely empirical description of the modern condition. (Matthew d'Ancona, "This horror began with a literary row", The Sunday Times, 17th July 2005.)
Now, I am of sufficient cognisance of the intellectual power of journalists, and am charitable enough, to suggest that Mr d'Ancona wouldn't know an empirical datum if it hit him in the eye. Therefore, I shall not say that he deliberately confuses a doctrine with an empirical description.
.....If one describes Britain, say, as multicultural, one describes an empirical fact. Multiculturalism, on the other hand, is not a description, not an empirical fact, but a doctrine. Now, there is no reason to accept a doctrine just because it has had an (empirical) impact on the world. Marxist-Leninism and German National Socialism have had great impact on the world, and have brought about such facts as gulag camps and Vernichtungslager, but I need not accept them. But Mr d'Ancona seems to suggest that because multicultural society exists, we must accept it as the only right and proper way to be. It is interesting too that he finds, along with John Gray, that multiculturalism (by which I presume he means a multicultural society brought about as a consequence of the doctrine of multiculturalism) is "an historical fate". Shysters learnt long ago that a doctrine can be made more powerful if it is also claimed to be historically inevitable. It is a trick that aims at the heartening of one's friends and the disheartening of one's foes, saying in effect to the former, "you are on the side of history", and to the latter, "resistance is futile".

Friday 15 July 2005

Conformity or Death!

Of the revolutionary triptych Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité, the third has received the least attention from intellectuals. This may reflect its more visceral nature, which makes it unsuitable for systemization. Nevertheless, on this earth of squabbling apes the call for fraternity has not been rare.
.....The call for fraternity – a universal brotherhood of man – entails a universal toleration of views, which itself may or may not entail a universal conformity of some views. If it does not entail conformity, but rather a true toleration of all disparate and possible views, then the call is nihilistic. Only the nihilist tolerates all, a stance which some might take to be to his credit. Such persons do not reflect, however, that the toleration of all means the equal indifference to the boiling of eggs and the boiling of chartered accountants. If, on the other hand, it does entail a universal conformity with some views, the call is probably not as generous or as tolerant as is often made out. Conformity to which views, exactly? We should not be surprised to learn that the call is for a conformity to the caller’s views!
.....For instance, the international socialist who calls for a universal brotherhood may sound generously tolerant thereby, yet his call is not a call for the accommodation of all views including those of the capitalist, but rather it is a call for the dominance of his own views and the destruction of all views inimical to it. If it is not hyper-tolerant and nihilistic, a call for the brotherhood of man is a call for the conformity of all humanity with at least some of the views of the caller, the important point being that it may not be so generous and innocent as claimed.
.....In short, in order that there be a universal brotherhood there has to be at the very least a universal belief in this universal brotherhood – and there may be scant toleration of those who spurn the conformity in respect of the views it entails. This is starkly illustrated by the Jacobin slogan, “Fraternity or Death!”, the naked meaning of which Nicolas-Sébastien Roch de Chamfort was keenly aware: “Be my brother or I’ll kill you!”.

Wednesday 13 July 2005

Media Moghuls

Judging by the way the media are carrying on, anyone would think this was Hug a Muslim Week.
.....The BBC seems to have become a propaganda service on behalf of the “religion of peace”; The Independent won’t have a bad word said against it; and I fear that The Guardian wouldn’t like to hear it denied that there is no God but Allah.
.....Madeleine Bunting in The Guardian continues in much the same vein today, but it is testimony to how inured I have become to Islamic apologetics, that what annoyed me more was a typical piece of lazy journalistic conceit:
It [the terrorism in London] puts the British model of multiculturalism - until now the source of quiet admiration across Europe - under unprecedented scrutiny.
Who admired it? In what circles was it admired? What was there to admire? Do we imagine that across Europe there were men sat with jaws firmly set, gently shaking their heads in "quiet admiration" at our multiculturalism? Or that in small intellectual circles “of the right kind”, narcissistic blathermouths found it in themselves to admire anything but their own mess? What tosh! Can't these hacks deal in anything but counterfeit? I bet there was not one thing that persuaded her that there was "quiet admiration" for our multiculturalism, except that she liked the idea of it. It belongs to the same journalistic license that permits the description of mumbling simpletons as "fiercely intelligent" or weepy and neurotic women as "strong and independent".
.....Such journalists cannot grasp that every counterfeit statement -- however slight it might seem -- devalues the currency in which they deal.

The Smell of Sartre

If we are to speak de mortuis nil nisi bonum, then it behoves us to say nothing much about some dead intellectuals, for about them there is little that was not bad; and if we were to say something good, it would be nothing that is not trivial, such that Sartre liked puppies or that Foucault was known to knit baby-boots (neither of which, I must add, I know to be true).
.....In short, if I were to comply with this exhortation, I should be unable to speak about their ideas, upon which their claimed significance and reputations rest. I should, instead, be confined to trifles. Were they, their works and their reputations to remain forever buried, their names never to be uttered or their words repeated, then I should be happy to comply with this exhortation, to speak nothing (but good) about them, for then there would be nothing to be said about them at all.
.....But this is not the case. Foucault's reputation, for instance, lingers in the halls of academia like the stench of a rotten rat under the floorboards, of which the denizens thereof seem unable or unwilling to rid themselves. The reputations of Lacan and Barthes and numerous others still excite the buzz of academics. And on the centenary of Sartre's birth, there have appeared persons of mean intelligence who think it high time we spoke well of him again, as if we could lessen the smell of a week-old fish-pie by reheating it.
.....For one,
Kevin Jackson in Prospect magazine (found via Arts & Letters Daily) thinks that "For decades, Sartre's reputation has often been more a matter of hearsay, allegation and cliché than of well-founded judgment" (in other words, it is a stink kicked up by unjust and ignorant critics), and that "It is time for us to start reading him properly". If we are serious about finding the source of the smell, however, then we ought to begin by looking under the covers of his shysterwork, Being and Nothingness, in which we read that "a gift is a primitive form of destruction", that smoking is "the symbolic equivalent of destructively appropriating the entire world", and (my favourite) that, "The Being by which Nothingness arrives in the world must nihilate Nothingness in its Being, and even so it still runs the risk of establishing Nothingness as a transcendent in the very heart of immanence unless it nihilates Nothingness in connection with its own being".
.....I opine that reading him properly can reveal much about intellectual impropriety and the fadish pretensions of French intellectuals.
.....There are few more disagreeable sights than the digging-out of an intellectual fad long after it was buried quietly in embarrassment. At least a new fad has the appeal of its freshness, something to which our blusterers, full of the joys of idiocy, are drawn. In its old age, however, a fad comes to take on the appearance of its innermost character. It begins to look absurd, because it has always been absurd; it begins to look flighty, because it has always been flighty; it comes to look farcical and foolish and idle because it has always been those things.

In the spirit of charity, I believe Sartre best forgotten.

Fewtril #3

He who embraces the doctrine of equality refuses to admit the shortcomings of lesser men in the hope that greater men will do likewise for him.

Thursday 7 July 2005

The Benns

On Newsnight last night, I was soothed to listen to Tony Benn babbling like a mad brook. It is somehow reassuring to know that even deep in senility he might still be allowed out to broadcast his infirm ideas; by which I do not mean to suggest that his ideas have ever been any thing but infirm. In consideration of the vigour with which he embraced unreason as a young man, and to which he has clung with undiminished fealty ever since, one might fairly say that senility for Mr Benn is like a medal awarded for life-long service to madness.
.....There is now on the political scene another Benn: the son, Hilary. Whether the son will ever scale the preposterous heights attained by the father remains to be seen. There have been promising signs, however. In his early days on Ealing Borough Council (1979-1999), Hilary Benn was an active member of "the loony Left". He shares with his father an endearing disinclination to see sense, except for the overwhelming sense of his own righteousness. The future looks bright, therefore.
.....I hereby name the following disorder in honour of Tony and Hilary Benn:

the Benns, A largely untreatable disorder that is marked by maniacal claims, distress in reasoning, and often moral collapse, involving an uncontrollable babbling and a dizzy-headed acceptance of one's baseless assertions as the acme of sense, caused by the formation of hot air in the frontal cortex upon too rapid a surfacing of one's conceit. Usage: "His prejudices bobbed to the surface too quickly, and he got the Benns."

Fewtril #2

A man who claims to be so radically sceptical as to doubt the possibility of knowledge should hardly feel affronted if a fellow doubts the sincerity of his claim; for he who can doubt the possibility of knowledge should also appreciate the credulity required of a man who is meant to believe that he is sincere in that doubt and not merely pretentious.

Tuesday 5 July 2005

This Septic Pile

Considering the present prospect of England, I thought it best that John of Gaunt's speech on England be updated, lest we take some false solace from it. This is how Shakespeare had him describe England in Richard II (Act 2, Scene 1):

This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself

Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands,--
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.

And this is a version that best befits our modern land:

This rank throng of morons, this septic pile,
This heap of lowliness, this feat of ours,
This other Hades, pandemonium,
This shack built by Politics for itself
Against redemption and the rule of law,
This wretched gang of men, this mighty herd,
This worthless rock amidst the slimy sea,
Which serves neither sovereign task to forestall
Nor lost and defamed duty to preserve
Against the claims for just inclusion in
This cursed blot, this heap, this wreck, this England.