Broad Oak: your emotional support animal

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Orwell's "Keep The Aspidistra Flying"

I've just finished it. It's very real, and you're wrung by the wretchedness of the lower-middle-class challenge to cling on to respectability by one's fingernails, and the hero's equally desperate attempt to hold to his socialist principles and manly independence. He wants, as my friend said, to be a Renaissance man, without enjoying the Renaissance man's income; and when his contradictions are broken by Life - literally, as his girlfriend has fallen pregnant - it comes as a relief: "He was thirty and he had grey in his hair, yet he had a queer feeling that he had only just grown up."

A Guardian review from 2003 says: "Orwell refused to allow either Keep the Aspidistra Flying or his first novel, the considerably weaker A Clergyman's Daughter, to be reprinted in his lifetime. His dislike of his early novels arose from his incredibly strong sense that he would always be a literary failure, which enabled him to empathise so strongly with his creations like Comstock."

That haunting self-distrust and obstinacy; was it like that for J K Rowling, fighting her dementors while writing her novel in the Elephant House tea shop?

"If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’"

- said Kipling, to whom Orwell the Empire-hater was nevertheless fair, for disillusioned though he was, Orwell always remained decent - that virtue sneered at by social superiors, the powerful and the politically subversive. Not for him the outright moral criminality of Donleavy's postwar Ginger Man.

Nor ironic, Genet-boosting existentialist, he; surely he would have resigned rather than step into the shoes of a deported Jewish professor, which is what Sartre did; and he really did shoot at Fascists, rather than fantasize about it in a philosophical-fiction tetralogy.

Orwell kept steering by his star. He remained authentic.


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Saturday, February 27, 2016

Never a shortage of torturers

Tom Pride (a pseudonym) runs a satirical political blog titled "Pride's Purge", headed by this woodcut:


- which presumably indicates what he'd like to do the liars who rule us.

I was morbidly intrigued by the illustration. Was it some sixteenth century atrocity practised on a hapless South American tribesman? Was it one of those dreadful mediaeval European executions using molten lead?

No, not quite so bad as that. Image-matcher Tineye found me the whole picture:

(source: Wikimedia)
It's a waterboarding interrogation. But the eternal basics are there: the ruffian coolly willing to do dreadful things, the "potent, grave and reverend signiors" quietly instructing and recording, indicating by their weighty demeanour that this is a sad but necessary proceeding. Let justice be done, though the heavens fall.

It comes from a book, Praxis rerum criminalium (1554) by the Dutch lawyer Joos de Damhouder, "which he almost entirely plagiarised from an unpublished text by Filips Wielant and from other works." Joos himself is pictured as sober-solemn:
Joos de Damhouder (Pic source)
But here's the man whose work he plagiarised - Filips Wielant, a fellow Dutchman (and fellow lawyer) born in the previous century, and whose own book was published only posthumously in 1558, four years after de Damhouder's:
Filips Vielant (Pic source)

- a petulant, sadistic face if you ask me. Look at that mouth and those eyes. Perhaps in the century that intervened, eminent personages learned the value of portraits as propaganda, for this one reveals too much.

There is no shortage of such people, or of the villains prepared to serve them. There's always some excuse for torture, and a crowd that can easily be provoked into saying you can wire him up for me, haw-haw, damn towelhead.

“And yet our personal experience and the study of history make it abundantly clear that the means whereby we try to achieve something are at least as important as the end we wish to attain. Indeed they are even more important. For the means employed inevitably determine the nature of the result achieved; whereas, however good the end aimed at may be, its goodness is powerless to counteract the effects of the bad means we use to reach it.”  - Aldous Huxley, "Ends and Means" (1937).

William Blake: "A Divine Image" (pic source)

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Thursday, February 25, 2016

Drawing profit from circumstances

source

Indifferent and passionate, he gave himself rein and drew back constantly, impelled by conflicting instincts, yielding to all, and then obeying, in the end, his own shrewd man-about-town judgment, whose weather-vane logic consisted in following the wind and drawing profit from circumstances without taking the trouble to originate them.

Guy de Maupassant - Yvette (1884)

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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Just perfect

William Blake: Eve tempted by the serpent (1799-1800)
Victoria & Albert Museum, London

"... of [Blake's poems] ... Wordsworth said after reading a number—they were the 'Songs of Innocence and Experience showing the two opposite sides of the human soul'—'There is no doubt this poor man was mad, but there is something in the madness of this man which interests me more than the sanity of Lord Byron and Walter Scott!' "

- Henry Crabb Robinson.

I stood in front of this painting for a long time. 

The perfection of woman, the unreproducible brilliance of the blue (tempera on copper).



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Why Boris Johnson may never be Prime Minister



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Sunday, February 21, 2016

A new mode of ignorance

Why is it that when you twist things out of their natural order, when you become a little sophisticated and want more than you ever did before, the risk is relatively greater? So easy to become rotten. A tree never gets that way because it is a tree.
Sherwood Anderson – Dark Laughter (1925)

As age pulls back the social veils it becomes ever more difficult to admire - what? More difficult to admire anything.

I can’t tell if it is the internet or age-induced cynicism but I think much of it is the internet shining its pitiless light on people in the public arena who simply should not be there. People with nothing to offer but their vanity and a grim determination to claw their way up what is now a forest of greasy poles.

Ignorant pundits, political apologists, talentless celebrities, venal politicians, professional liars, grievance mongers, deranged activists, serial exaggerators, insane feminists, male feminists, social justice warriors, eco warriors, gender pundits, race baiters, celebrity celebrities, religious maniacs, atheist maniacs, sports pundits, poverty pundits, fashion gurus, doom mongers, economic fantasists, junk scientists, junk artists, pseuds of every description, bent councillors, sinecure seekers, dodgy charities, fake radicals and all the unlovely crew we would be far, far better off without.

So little to admire, so much to scorn. Was it always like this or has the digital revolution exposed just how bad it is?

Two trends seem to be emerging. Firstly the obvious one – the public arena is far bigger than it was only a few decades ago. More TV channels, more video on demand, more digital voices and many more ways to get a narrative across. As a result the public arena is more diverse with lower barriers to entry. Anyone may hit the right note and propel themselves into the digital arena, especially with professional assistance.

The second trend is paradoxical but it may be real and it is this. In an important sense people are becoming better informed and at the same time more ignorant. The public arena has become so vast and clamorous that many people seem to miss what might once have been called the narrow path of virtue. It may have been narrow but it imposed a kind of sanity we no longer have.

This second trend makes for a peculiar world where people are at the same time both less and more naive than their forebears. They are both less conservative and more conservative as they become less aware of what is worth conserving but more susceptible to wildly exaggerated risks spewed at them from the digital arena.

The digital revolution asks more of us. More time, more effort spent checking sources, a more circumspect and sceptical attitude to information and authorities. Unfortunately many of us do not do the spadework, including many members of the elite. Perhaps most of them.

The net result feels like an explosion of ignorance. Not the ignorance of the past where people were simply uninformed, but a new mode of ignorance where we fail to be adequately sceptical and selective as a brave new world busily wires up our minds.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Don't be busy

General Slim's day in wartime Burma, fighting the Japanese, "the most formidable fighting insect in history":

6:30            get up
7:00            look at overnight messages
7.30 - 8.00   breakfast with air commanders and principal staff officers
8.30            attend joint air and land intelligence conference
                  other business
Lunch, talking shop with colleagues
                  more office business, then...
3.00            leave office
                  read a novel for an hour
                  tea
                  go for a walk in the cooler air, accompanied by a member of staff
7.30 - 9.30  dinner, then mess bar for a drink and talk
9.30            last visit to ops room
10.00          bed

"I had seen too many of my colleagues crack under the immense strain of command in the field not to realize that, if I were to continue, I must have ample leisure in which to think, and unbroken sleep. Generals would do well to remember that, even in war, 'the wisdom of a learned man cometh by opportunity of leisure.' Generals who are terribly busy all day and half the night, who fuss round, posting platoons and writing march tables, wear out not only their subordinates but themselves. Nor have they, when the real emergency comes, the reserve of vigour that will then enable them, for days if necessary, to do with little rest or sleep."

Field Marshal Viscount Slim, "Defeat Into Victory", Pan Books (1999 edn.), pp.222-223


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Sunday, February 14, 2016

The legacy of the Moors in Europe


(Picture source)

By "JD":

Most people will be aware of the Moorish influence on Spain because of the 700 years during which Spain was known as Al Andalus. Their architecture is self-evident and the Moors introduced new methods of large-scale irrigation thus expanding horticultural fertility - in the Spanish language most of the words for irrigation, drainage etc are Arabic.

Under the Umayyad caliphate (929–1031), Córdoba became perhaps the greatest intellectual centre of Europe, with celebrated libraries and schools. Not just in Córdoba but also in Toledo and other centres where arts and sciences flourished. All were part of the so-called Islamic golden age in which Jews, Muslims and Christians lived and worked and studied in relative harmony. When I first visited Toledo nearly 40 years ago what surprised me almost immediately was that the road signs were written in Hebrew as well as Spanish.

There are a number of scholars who contend that the Islamic Golden Age is a myth but that is to miss the point. The golden age was not a direct product of Islam any more than the Italian renaissance was a direct product of Christianity. Just a brief glance at the paintings of Botticelli for example would dispel that notion. Any so-called golden age in any period of history will flourish when the warrior class (the psychopaths) have a respite from the perpetual insanity of their desire for power and control.

The fact remains that in Al Andalus there was a flourishing of arts and sciences. And I have seen for myself in the bibliotecas of Madrid, Toledo and El Escorial astonishing collections of books and manuscripts in Hebrew, Arabic, Greek, Latin, Spanish as well as Syriac and Farsi (Persian) A lot of material came from the middle east via the Moors and these were copied and translated in the aforementioned libraries and schools.

The Moorish influence extended beyond Spain into France and Germany in ways that have been forgotten or overlooked.

We are all familiar with the myths and legends about the quest for the Holy Grail. The Holy Grail first appears in a written text in Chrétien de Troyes's Old French verse romance, the Conte del Graal ('Story of the Grail'), or Perceval, of c.1180. Several other writers over the following 50 years wrote their own versions of the Grail (or Graal) These stories are based on old Celtic and Arthurian legends and what they share is that the Grail itself is a cup or chalice. In Celtic myth this drinking vessel or 'cors' is said to satisfy the needs of all those who drank from it. This was Christanised to become the cup used at the Last Supper of Jesus and his disciples.

But there is one version of the Grail legend that is different. In Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzifal, the Grail is identified as a stone, it is called "lapsit exillis" and this stone had magical powers: "Such powers does the stone confer on mortal men that their flesh and bones are soon made young again. This stone is called The Gral." Wolfram indicates in his writings that the source of his story came from Kyot of Dolet in Aragon. Kyot is a Germanic version of Guy which is the dimiutive form of Guillaume or Guilliem. Dolet is usually interpreted as being Toledo but is more likely to be Tudela which is a city in Navarra in northern Spain. At that time Navarra was part of the Kingdom of Aragon. Living and working in Tudela during this period was a scholar called William of Tudela who was the author of the Chanson de la Croisade Albigeoise or Song of the Albigensian Crusade, an epic poem in Occitan giving a contemporary account of the crusade against the Cathars. This would indicate that he was a Cathar living in Spain. Working as a scholar in the Bishopric of Tarazona which was a centre for the translation of Arabic lore brought from the Middle East, William of Tudela produced a translation of a work by Thābit ibn Qurra who was a Harranian living in Baghdad. This document is undoubtedly the source of Wolfram's Parzifal because Thābit is named within the story of Parzifal. He is described as a philosopher who "fathomed abstruse arts" and when Wolfram has cause to list the planets he gives them their Arabic names.

Around the same time as these Grail stories there emerged in SW France the phenomenon of the Troubadors. They appeared as if from nowhere but did they really have roots in France or elsewhere? The word does not come from the French 'trouvère' which is what everyone thinks. It comes from the North African tradition of 'Tarab' which was and still is a form of musical story telling. Add the word 'Tarab' to the Spanish language suffix of -ador and you get Tarabador, a person who sings/plays Tarab so the word 'tarabador' is much closer linguistically than 'trouvère'.

The popular image of Troubadors is of the love-struck romantic singing of his unrequited love for an unattanable maiden. But Tarab is sung by both males and females. Here is a song by the Syrian singer Assala Nasri which is a response to a declaration of love by an unwanted suitor:-


The influence of this Moorish music continues into the 20th and 21st cebturies. You may recall that Robert Plant and Jimmy Page (of Led Zeppelin) made a journey to the Atlas Mountains in search of further musical inspiration.

Another modern day troubador is the Canadian Loreena McKennit who, like Wolfram, has drawn inspiration from Celtic and Arabic sources. Here she is singing, appropriately enough, in the Alhambra in Granada -


==========
References-
Umayyad caliphate in Spain
http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/sumay/hd_sumay.htm

Quest for the Holy the Grail
http://www.bl.uk/onlinegallery/features/mythical/grail.html

William of Tudela
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_of_Tudela

Tudela
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tudela,_Navarre

Thābit ibn Qurra
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Th%C4%81bit_ibn_Qurra

The Hermetic Sources and Structure of Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival by David R. Fideler -
http://www.bythewaybooks.com/pages/books/9380/david-fideler-arthur-versluis-kathleen-raine-joscelyn-godwin/alexandria-the-journal-of-western-cosmological-traditions-1

Idries Shah
http://idriesshahfoundation.org/books/the-way-of-the-sufi/

The Troubadors
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troubadour#Etymology_of_name


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Noble, terrible, piteous

Burma, 23 January 1945: like the Saxons of Maldon, the Japanese embrace their doom...

"On the day that Monywa was taken, other troops of the 20th Division, pressing on, reached the Irrawaddy at Myinmu. Near here, a few days later, there was a fight with a large Japanese party attempting to withdraw over the river. Resisting stubbornly, the enemy had been almost annihilated, when the last survivors, in full equipment and with closed ranks, under the astonished eyes of our men, marched steadily into the river and drowned."

Field Marshal Viscount Slim, "Defeat Into Victory", Pan Books (1999 edn.), p.418
(This incident also mentioned here: http://ww2db.com/battle_spec.php?battle_id=192)

As John Masters - another Forgotten Army participant - said, if only we worked at peace half as hard as we do at war.


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Saturday, February 13, 2016

Is Cameron a bungler?

From the Independent we hear news of Cameron's latest attempt at EU fear mongering.

The world would be a more dangerous place if Britain voted to leave the European Union, David Cameron has claimed, as he travelled to Germany in a final effort to enlist the backing of Angela Merkel for his renegotiation demands.

In a speech in Hamburg, Mr Cameron said it was “vital to keep Britain in a reformed EU” to face down “dangerous and murderous ideologies” and stand up for democracy and the rule of law.


I'm sure Cameron does not expect to convince any informed person with this. That is not the aim - he is merely trying to sow the seeds of nebulous fear among wavering voters. 

Feeble stuff which raises an obvious question. Why has Cameron apparently bungled the referendum issue by promising EU concessions he must have known he couldn’t deliver? To get anywhere he would have had to make it quite clear that he was in favour of the UK leaving the EU. Otherwise he would always be negotiating with the EU from a position of weakness and he must have known that.

In which case he either bungled his tactics or he chose to negotiate from a position of weakness. Whatever one thinks of Cameron, he is probably too smart to have bungled the tactics of his referendum promise. One has to assume he knew what was on the cards because it isn’t rocket science. So he chose to negotiate from a position of weakness. He did not expect or want significant concessions from the EU because he has adopted the political persona of a sound European.

The whole thing just keeps on looping back to this obvious explanation. Cameron is gambling on winning the referendum for staying in the EU, thereby landing himself a prominent EU job with his political star very much in the ascendant.

Alternatively he may have other career possibilities in mind and is more interested in the global stage. Either way his strategy seems sound. Better to take the referendum risk and brand himself as a shining political success than end up as a tired and ageing PM looking for something else to do.

His game is not even as duplicitous as it sounds if he believes we have no real choice but to stay in the EU. He is merely putting the issue to rest and moving on.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

E-Type

source

From BT and others comes this story of a restored E-Type Jaguar.

A classic British car left to rust on a French farm has been restored to its former glory is now worth £300,000 and will return to the spotlight at next week’s London Classic Car Show.

But this particular example, E-Type fixed head coupe Chassis No. 15, was discovered in a barn in Cernay, east France, in late 2013. It was more chicken coop than racing coupe, rusted, missing many vital components and covered in farmyard muck.


From the photo it had quite a few vital components missing, such as the engine. Apparently that had to be completely recreated according to the Mail.

Lovely car and all that, but if I rummaged around an old barn, found a couple of legs from an Elizabethan table and rebuilt it, folk would not be so impressed. It most certainly wouldn't be worth anywhere near the price of a genuine Elizabethan table. I'd have to sell it as repro. Different people, different outlook I suppose.

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Sunday, February 07, 2016

Assange: dirtier tricks than I thought

In the post:

"... there is NO JURY in a rape trial in Sweden and it is a SECRET TRIAL. All of the evidence, all of the witnesses, are heard in secret. No public, no jury, no media. The only public part is the charging and the verdict. There is a judge and two advisers directly appointed by political parties."

And in comments:

"My own concern is that the secret nature of rape trials in Sweden, and the lack of a jury, make it the perfect opportunity for a stitch-up and false conviction. Of which I am sure the CIA are perfectly aware.

"Once you are a “convicted rapist”, the political opposition to extradition to the US on espionage charges will evaporate. Much of the support of the left for Assange has already vanished just by the expedient of getting a CIA asset to cry rape."

See today's piece by Craig Murray here:

https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2016/02/why-the-assange-allegation-is-a-stitch-up/#comment-577354


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Saturday, February 06, 2016

Shifting the poor


"They told me I had to come here." (pic source)

In 1970s Oxford my roommate told me that the local police regularly beat tramps and beggars with rubber torches and motored them out of the city.

Things haven't changed much. A few days ago there was a post on Facebook about a group of Norwich rough sleepers sheltering in a mall who had cold water thrown over them and their sleeping-bags.

But it's getting more systematic.

Someone I talk to in the Local Authority tells me they're seeing a pattern of applications for special needs assessment for children of families who have [been] relocated from London to here in the Midlands, where rents are cheaper. If a special school is indicated, then that's around £25,000 p.a. - per child, and families of SEN children often have more than one.

My contact says a left field idea would be to buy such families a house outright, in well-off Solihull. Overall, it would save us a packet. It's a bit like playing "Find the Lady", palming off the losing Queen of Spades to a fellow player.

There'll be more of this, and we're pretty much financially bust already.


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Friday, February 05, 2016

Assange, imperialism and freedom

The Ecuadorian Embassy siege, that standing reproach to the British Government, may be coming to an end. That's assuming the UK respects international law and opinion more than it wishes to serve the interests of a vindictive ally.

We walked round to the Embassy last September, out of curiosity, to see the cruel theatre of dingy politics at first hand. The next month, the Met police guard was finally withdrawn but it was decided to deny Assange access to medical treatment.

We are governed by shits. Remember Brian Haw.

US-educated Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa knows what he's looking at. At what point did the United States cease to be anti-imperialist?

Etonian traitor - not the first from that school - David Cameron is all out to fudge the EU referendum, muddling it up with regional elections so that the distracted people finally vote for the end of national freedom and democratic control.

If it goes his way, I wouldn't rule out taking Ecuadorian citizenship, to get away from this drunkard's-dream.

UPDATE (14:09)

Phil Hammond kept a straight face as he communicated HMG's slap to the UN's HR ruling - but there was an air of embarrassment, I thought. And here comes the reaction:

"Refusal of UN Panel Statement Allows Rejection of Any UN Ruling- Snowden":
http://sputniknews.com/europe/20160205/1034284346/uk-sweden-assange-snowden.html

Okay, let's see HMG adopt the same cavalier approach to all EU regulations, directives, decisions, recommendations and opinions,  past, present and future.

UPDATE (14:49)

Glad to see a proper journalist weighing in, too:

http://www.jonathan-cook.net/blog/2016-02-05/no-fair-hearing-for-assange-at-the-guardian/

UPDATE (6 Feb 16 07:29)

... and ex-FCO dissident Craig Murray (hat-tip to "JD"):

https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2016/02/assange-a-fundamental-vindication/

- whose discussion of the case against Assange was removed from Google searches* but can be found here:

https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2012/09/why-i-am-convinced-that-anna-ardin-is-a-liar/

UPDATE (6 Feb 16 10:00)

The Australian Foreign Minister has met Assange to discuss ways forward:

http://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-ecuador-sweden-assange-australia-idUKKCN0VE2M9

__________________________________________________
*


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Thursday, February 04, 2016

Batmanghelidjh: the demonic narrative of the media

As Black Country football-radio legend Tony Butler once said of the Press, "They hunt in packs." Interviewed some time ago, ex-Private Eye's Richard Ingrams reflected that he used to relish going after public figures but now he would read an exposé and think, "Poor old So-and-So's for it this time."

This time, it was the fat lady in a funny dress. And there was Lynn Alleway, doing a Louis Theroux "friendship" number on her. Look at how her old acquaintance from ten (yes, ten!) years ago had let the kids down!

"Camila continued to be the person Annie relied on for absolutely everything. She's vulnerable, and my worry is, what's going to happen to her now? In the world outside, the tabloids were unearthing more damaging stories. Some seemed to be nonsense... others I couldn't ignore..." (49 mins on)

Oh, how the presenter cares! Oh, my! Oh, I!

For of course, this was a story, and a story has to be shaped.

"Camila, what is going on? I... I'm feeling uncomfortable. [...] Could you not have found another house, without a swimming pool?"


There it was, a rented thing the size of a BBC producer's bathtub. Any smaller and the panto princess could scarcely have got in. (Not, by the way, that it was for her: it was a Kids Company facility.)

"Camila has always had her own moral code. She considers herself primarily accountable to the children. But for me personally, everything had changed." (53:53 on.)

Oh, the sadness as the scales fall from a loving pal's eyes!

Mismanagement... But as Camila said, they had always wanted cash reserves.

"But I also, Lynn, don't want to be twisted into a narrative that isn't the real narrative," said the founder.

Yet the programme-maker must speak out, her poor heart is so wrung: "What's so upsetting... is thet... all of this stuff... is just overshadowed now."

Yes, Camila, you may not want your life and your work twisted into a narrative, but that's what you're going to bloody get.

____________________________________

See the full self-referential investigation here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b06zw47r/camilas-kids-company-the-inside-story


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Monday, February 01, 2016

Bad government

"History has taught me, that RULERS are much the same in all ages & under all forms of government: they are as bad as they dare to be," said the poet Coleridge in a letter to his brother George (c. 10 March 1798).

The immediate reference was to France - but after the Revolution and the killing of Louis XVI. Would no government at all, be better?

Libertarians - Coleridge's "Philosophers & Friends of Freedom" - like to think so; to imagine that but for the oppressive State we would all get along much better. Not until we are better people, says the Dreamer, quoting Cowper's "The Task":

"He that takes
Deep in his soft credulity the stamp
Design'd by loud Declaimers on the part
Of Liberty, themselves the slaves of Lust,
Incurs derision for his easy faith
And lack of Knowledge..."


Burma, 1942: Rangoon has fallen to the Japanese, and Indians are fleeing westward. In Arakan, the British forces have made a rapid withdrawal:

"Chaos and civil war spread throughout Arakan. First, the local inhabitants fell on the wretched Indian refugees, who were still in thousands trying to escape by the coastal route. This exodus was followed by a bitter internecine struggle for land and power between the Arakanese and the Maughs, two sections of the population. The Maughs got the worst of it and many were driven across the Naf River to take shelter in territory still held by us, there to make yet another refugee problem. Faction fights among the victorious Arakanese then became the order of the day, until the Japanese, pushing up to Buthidaung, restored some sort of uneasy peace."

- Field Marshal Viscount Slim, "Defeat Into Victory", Pan Books edition (1999), p.147. This short paragraph could be turned into a novel of avoidable human suffering.

When even Hirohito's sadistic racists were an improvement on anarchy, when can the removal of a tyrant be justified?

Iraq, Libya and Syria? But not North Korea?


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All original material is copyright of its author. Fair use permitted. Contact via comment. Unless indicated otherwise, all internet links accessed at time of writing. Nothing here should be taken as personal advice, financial or otherwise. No liability is accepted for third-party content, whether incorporated in or linked to this blog; or for unintentional error and inaccuracy. The blog author may have, or intend to change, a personal position in any stock or other kind of investment mentioned.