“I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Two Towers.
"It is not worth the while to go round the world to count the cats in Zanzibar" – Henry David Thoreau
We have all said things contra Islam (and the rest). My awkward streak arguably started at the Kard Bar (just off Westgate Road, Newcastle) as a nipper. It was there I (illegally) bought my first Viz many, many years back. I have heard many comments on the Parisian Massacre along the lines of, “Let’s have concealed carry”. This misses the point. Utterly. Undoubtedly there is a reasonable possibility that one of the cartoonists could have slotted one (or more) of the perps (and that would’ve been good).
This misses the point as to why firearms ought to be allowed. I play here with power greater (I hope than guns). I hope this laptop is more powerful than any Browning. I’d like a shooter. I think I’d be good because it is the sort of thing I am good at but moreover why not? I’m 41 years old with no convictions. That is why as a mature responsible adult (I hope my family aren’t reading this*) I should. Simples. You lose the argument the minute you cite reasons beyond the basic principle – why not?. Would I pay to go to gun classes? Hell. yes! That would be fun. Guns can be beautiful in the same way watches can be. Mechanical precision and all that.
That is a side point (though an important one). But not the really important point. It is this simple. We have an existential struggle on the go. I have heard many commentators say that Charlie Hebdo “went too far”. Ah, diddums! As someone said over at Samizdata during the MoToons of Doom(TM) frenzy, “If they can’t take a joke then fuck ‘em”. We may get killed along the way but the point is not to have heavily armed cartoonists (or bloggers et al) but cartoonists who will take pen to paper and draw what they like not without fear of nutters but despite that fear. It is a dangerous World. Giving in to fear is the ultimate defeat. It is a defeat for everyone including (perhaps especially) the very pleasant Muslims I have met throughout my life. I saw that just a coupla years ago in Istanbul where you’d see folk knock off from work, go to prayers and then grabbing a pint**. It isn’t about a perversification of the Qu’ran and or the Hadith. It is about perception filters (as are most things***) because most Muslims don’t take it all that seriously. Neither do most Christians (for example) take their faith to the n-th.
I mean it says somewhere in the Bible that a menstruating woman is “unclean” (this seems a catch-all for the Abrahamic faiths) and must dwell in a shed. Nobody who claims to be Christian (apart from some madcappers) takes this seriously and I suspect only the most Orthodox of Jews do. The radical Muslims do (not most Muslims – the Muslim owned Newsagent just down the road from me flogs porn). The difference perhaps is that the nutty Christians and Jews tend to be insular whereas the nutty Muslims are on a mission. I don’t know why that difference exists. Maybe it is the nature of the Qu’ran. Maybe it is a stupid feeling of inferiority over colonialism. To which (with a wry smile) I have to say, “Polish Hussars” (seen their wings in the museum in Krakow). Well, it was their last realistic chance. This terrorism lark feels like some bloke outside a pub with a bloodied nose saying, “And another thing” through bust teeth long after the fight is lost. I am not exactly proclaiming the superiority of The West. No, I’m saying that living in a state of victim-hood is corrosive and this was a very long time ago. Nick is likely to say,”That new Audi looks pretty tasty”. Nick is unlikely to say,”Bastard Krauts – they bombed me Granny’s fish shop!”. In order to make progress people have to get over such stuff. If you do that remarkable progress can be made. If you want to look at it like this, and I’m not advocating this as such, doing well is the best revenge. I guess the curse of oil and all that plays a part too.
When I am low (and I am sometimes low) I read Tolkien****. I do not read hatred. Recently I saw a contestant who said she’d spend her GBP3,000 on a new door “for the mulcherry” but she was from Shropshire… We must all live our dreams I guess. Difference is a lesbian mulcherry in Hobbiton (aka the Welsh Borders) matters not a jot to me at the mo. The shooting of cartoonists in Paris matters little either. People who have lost the intellectual war can go fuck themselves but more than that so can the so-called “apologists” (“blow-back”, Bushes etc). This was Islam related and whilst Islam has it’s place in our society it has a place the same as other religions do be use they should know their place. It is not “It”. My continent has been through more than enough with wars of alleged Christianity against itself (I had no religious upbringing and regard the whole thing quite ambivalently).
What I do know?
I know this. I know my keyboard lights-up when I press “Fn” + “Space”. This is handy because it is getting dark now (even though I can touch-type). It’s cool. I mean really cool. Shit! I have to see to a buggered Acer this evening. Oh, fuck me up the chuffster! Anyway…
Islam needs (in parts) to get the house in order. Nobody but the nutters hasn’t said “nyet” to them but fundamentally it is about giving-up the “saucier parts” in the Qu’ran in much the same way “Christianity” (however defined) after a long struggle has largely given-up such parts of the Bible. I, for one couldn’t give a toss who one worships. It is all drivel as far as I can care – which isn’t very far.
I’d best finish here though there is so much more to say.
… I wanted to post today about so much fun stuff. I couldn’t. I had to post on this. I am sorry for this and my heart bleeds for France.
*I almost knocked Steven Jauncey’s heed (not an sp) off with an acclerometer-thingie but that was GCSE Physics and I was bored and when the teacher said,”On no account put more than half a kilo on the weight”. Well I stuck five kilos on and Elon would be proud. There are many other misadventures in the Nickopeia but I am all in one piece. Jauncey was a cunt, mind. Probably still is. I missed. I mean there was fuck all else to do in GCSE Physics other than to use an opposed weight to chin Jauncey. Fuck all, really.
**Although the ubiquitous Efes beer is a penance in itself. It tastes very American and I’m not talking Sam Adams. I’m talking Coors Lite. Of course Mr Erdogan is doing his level to drag Turkey (a country I liked) back into the Dark Ages. A crying shame.
***This is why I like maths. Unfenced and absolute reality. Unusual.
****Nothing better. h
However, good an 18th century university administrator and judge Sir William Blackstone may have been, and however personally well disposed he may have been to liberty and property, the rights of the latter being the essential foundation for the former, his doctrine of the Sovereignty of Parliament was radically subversive of the principles of liberty – leading, in the short term, to war with the American colonies, and, in the longer term, the undermining of liberty in Britain and elsewhere.
The central “Whig” principle is that there are some things that the ruler or rulers, Kings or Parliaments, may not do – that natural law – natural justice to-each-their-own-liberty, expressed in the Common Law and other traditions, forbids fundamental attacks on liberty and property, either by private criminals or by the government.
This was the position of Chief Justice Sir Edward Coke in “Dr Bonham’s case”, it was the position of Ralph Cudworth and others against the unlimited government doctrine of Thomas Hobbes (whose mentor was that servant of unlimited government “The New Atlantis” Francis Bacon – the great enemy of Sir Edward Coke) who held that humans were not moral agents, and it was the position of Chief Justice Sir John Holt and the other “Old Whigs” of the Glorious Revolution of 1688.
Sir William Blackstone’s doctrine of Parliamentary Sovereignty destroys this Whig foundation stone of liberty – destroys it utterly. Blackstone might pay lip service to the principles of natural law, the legal principles of Cicero and the view of humans as moral agents of Aristotle, but his doctrine of Parliamentary Sovereignty negates them. If the “legislature” can do anything it likes – then liberty is naught, and natural law is just an empty term. Things are reduced to the level of the Roman Empire – where no legal thinker denied, in theory, that liberty and natural law, natural justice – to each his own liberty, existed, but held that positive law, the will of the Emperor, trumped them – which was the same, in practice, as denying that the rights of liberty and property existed at all.
Blackstone may be held up as one of the great Common Law thinkers – but his fundamental conception of law was essentially Roman, and that of the Roman Empire, just with a Parliament in place of an Emperor.
Many Americans, holding to old Whig principles, were profoundly shocked and rejected the principle of Blackstone, and those who held the same view, – but in Britain it carried all before it.
The principle of Blackstone simplified law by holding that, at a fundamental level, law is whatever Parliament and Francis Bacon “lions UNDER the throne” style judges say it is – with no appeal to natural law, natural justice (to each his own – liberty) principles against them.
It also flattered Parliament (Thomas Hobbes had always said that the supreme unlimited ruler could be one person or a group of people – thus hedging his bets in terms of the Civil War by trying to flatter both sides, like Francis Bacon before him, he would be a lickspittle apologist for whoever was in power) – it gave them delusions of grandeur, indeed of infallibility, and made them unwilling to compromise with the American colonists. After all the law was whatever they, Parliament, said it was – they were Gods upon this Earth who could do no wrong. At least that is how his doctrine was, inevitably, interpreted. So war was made inevitable – and with war the division of the English speaking peoples, a division that continues to this day.
The tradition of the Bill of Rights, American or British, runs directly counter to this doctrine of Parliamentary Sovereignty – which is why the British Bill of Rights, oh yes it once existed, is not much talked about any more. What is the point of talking about the right to keep and bear arms – if Parliament can take away this right with a statute? It means that the right, for all practical purposes, is negated. Ditto freedom of speech or anything else. If Parliament wishes to, for example, “redistribute” the property of the Duke of Portland this may be sad – but he has no rights against the “legislature”. As Mark Twain was later to say, but not as PRAISE, that “no man’s life or property is safe when the legislature is in secession” the legislature being the only true “criminal class” in United States – the fact that British opinion would have been shocked by a statement like this in the 19th century shows how much damage the doctrine of Sir William Blackstone and others had done – spread by Victorian legal writers such as Maitland, who pretended (with breath taking dishonesty) that not a single Act of Parliament in history had ever been fundamentally unjust or irrational.
By the 19th century more and more people were starting to use the words “the State” in the same awe struck way that German philosophers had in the time of Frederick the Great and before. The State seen as some sort of God on Earth, with, in this case Parliament, being seen as at least semi divine – infallible.
Sir William Blackstone may not have shared some of the “new”, there are actually ancient precedents for its errors, philosophy that was bubbling up like a witch’s brew in his time – but he opened the door for it. David Hume had made his name by being “sceptical” about everything (whether he really was, or whether it was a performance, to wake people from their dogmatic slumbers, is something I will not try to answer here), even the most obvious self evident things such as the existence of the self (the “I”) as a moral agent. If nothing was secure, if there were no principles that one could “prove”, if even the existence of oneself, as a moral agent free to choose to do otherwise than we do was in doubt, what would step into the chaos? Why the state of course – “the euthanasia of the Constitution” the end of “Whig”, Old Whig, principles. This philosophy horrified some Tories – such as Dr Johnson, who expressed his horror when someone said to him that both he and David Hume were Tories. Dr Johnson believed in the principles of Church and King because he believed they were true, objectively true, not because he believed that nothing was objectively true – that is why the Tory Dr Johnson was more of a friend of the Old Whig Edmund Burke than he was of political “allies” such as David Hume.
Jeremy Bentham, and the rest of the “Bowood Circle” of Lord Shelborne (Lord Shelborne, Sir William Petty kinsman of that other Sir William Petty – the friend of Thomas Hobbes, who wanted to mathematically “plan” Ireland in totalitarian fashion) had nothing but contempt for the principles of the Old Whigs – which were “nonsense on stilts”.
13 departments of State should control most aspects of life, according to Bentham – in this way the “greatest happiness of the greatest number” would be achieved, and pleasure and pain (not traditional right and wrong) should be the only guides to policy. If wickedness produced more “pleasure” than “pain” then it was not evil it was good – so if, according to Bentham, control of most aspects of life via 13 departments of State produced more pleasure than pain then it was to be done – and no silly “old rights” allowed to stand against it. The interests of “the people” trumped the silly (indeed “nonsense on stilts”) old rights of individual persons. The fact that this is a “category mistake” that, for example, one does not work out whether rape or gang rape is morally wrong by sitting down with a “calculator of pleasure and pain” to try and work out if the pleasure of the rapist or rapists was greater or lesser than the pain of the victim, escaped Jeremy Bentham. He made the elementary mistake, which would be shameful even in a young child, of mistaking “good” as in pleasure, with “good” as in moral (as they are the same word they must mean the same thing – NO THEY DO NOT). Just because it may be pleasant to torture someone to death it does not mean that it is morally good to torture someone to death – and this has nothing to do with the pain of the victim being greater than the pleasure of the murderer.
This is the principle of the French Revolution, of Rousseau – not of the Old Whig American Revolution. It is why the French Revolutionaries did not believe that their murdering, plundering, rape and other crimes were crimes at all – as the “welfare of the people” trumped, negated, everything else.
And the belief of Bentham and others in intellectual government administrators taking control of various aspects of Civil Society harks back to Sir William Petty and Francis “The New Atlantis” Bacon, and may even have been foreshadowed by Thomas Cromwell in the reign of Henry VIII – although his schemes, on education and so on, came to naught.
The “liberals” who followed Bentham, there were other factions of liberals of course, included people such as James and John Stuart Mill who endorsed the views on land of David Ricardo, which led to people attacking the rights of property – down with the Duke of Portland and other “Old Whigs” I bet he did not “justly acquire” his property, and he expects rent and rent is evil. This view was refuted by Frank Fetter a century ago, but one still hears it – just as one still hears demands that the state expand the money supply to maintain a “stable price level” as if Frank Fetter had never refuted Irving Fisher (let alone the absurd Lord Keynes).
And there was the Labour Theory of Value, also an interpretation of Ricardo, that holds that factory workers and so on are “exploited” – if private landed estates are, somehow, wrong and large scale non-landed property (factories and so on) are also, somehow, wrong – then the old Whig principles have been utterly destroyed there is nothing left, apart from empty chanting of the words “freedom” and “liberty” (as “liberals” still do today) based on no foundations, philosophical or other.
Of course there is a good side to both James Mill and to John Stewart Mill – but there is also a bad side, a very bad side. And it must not be hidden away – because it did great damage.
A liberal of the 19th century “Westminster Review” type (not other types) may have hoped if nothing is objectively true then there is no justification for state attacks on liberty, and may have held that denying everything, including selfhood, is the ultimate freedom – but, in reality, someone who believes that nothing is objectively true is likely to seek the STATE to fill the void (the “myth” of William James, Sorel or Mussolini). Besides the state NATURALLY expands (those who have power seek to use it – the “Dark Side” tempts them) – and if there are no principles to oppose them with……….
And Sir William Blackstone, whatever his intentions were, has in practice helped get rid of the principles limiting the state – by getting rid of all principles limiting Parliament.
“Ah but Paul – Blackstone trusted Parliament to limit the state” – then he was profoundly foolish and also ignorant, not understanding the typical nature of such statutes as the one that Sir Edward Coke struck down in “Dr Bonham’s Case” – where it was held that someone practicing a trade without a piece of paper called a “license” could not be a crime, because it was not aggression against anyone. The fact that the “Royal College” had both King and Parliament backing it, being irrelevant. If this is a crime whose person or possessions has Mr Bonham attacked? He has attacked no one – so him not buying a “license” CAN NOT be a crime.
Ditto the “Stature of Labourers”, seeking to enforce serfdom, and a thousand other wicked, and unlawful, statutes of Parliament.
But it is more than this – the decline of the respect for Parliament, and there has been such a decline, has not led to the restoration of the principles of the Old Whigs – far from it.
The worship, and “worship” is the right word, has been transferred from Parliament and Congress, Prime Ministers and Presidents – to an ideal state, the public power, “the people” which will impose “Social Justice” (the opposite of real justice – to each their own). Modern “political philosophers” say that they DO believe in liberty, in freedom against elected politicians – but, it turns out, that their “rights” are like the “rights” of the French Revolution, under the mask of “freedom” terrible tyranny, plundering and murder. The words “freedom” and “liberty” chanted endlessly – but divorced from their foundations.
When American judges, and the university class generally- the Harvard Law School, the Imperial German loving Johns Hopkins, the Frankfurt School of Marxism Columbia and on and on, first started to turn against the Old Whig principles of the Founding Fathers they first held that rights and natural law were nonsense (perhaps nonsense “on stilts”) – beasts such as “Justice” O.W. Holmes jr were open friends of Harold Laski and other totalitarians, they held (Buck V Bell) that a screaming woman, who had committed no crime, could be held down and cut up by the servants of the state – because they judged her to be “inferior”. But at least such beasts did not pretend to serve “freedom” “liberty” – they were open followers of Thomas Hobbes and other such creatures.
This sort of “judge” did not, for example, in the gold confiscation and voiding of contracts cases of 1935, hold that they were serving “liberty” and “freedom” when they tore up the Constitution of the United States.
Today Blackstone may be discredited – few would pretend that Parliament, or any other institution of government can do anything it likes. But the Old Whig principles that he helped to undermine have not returned – instead the forces of evil (for that is what they are) have taken the words “freedom” and “liberty” for themselves, and use them to force politicians to expand statism (tyranny) even when they do not wish to do so.
The book shelves groan with books on legal thought that seek to twist the concept of liberty 180 degrees – using it as a justification to destroy liberty, to expand the size and scope of government. The “intellectuals” can get away with this because the old principles have been forgotten – even the very word “right” is no longer understood to be a limitation on government power (under the natural law principle of to each their own – as the late Ayn Rand put it “hands off”), rather a “right” is now seen as an invitation for government to intervene – to enforce “anti discrimination” doctrine (that to “discriminate” is another way of describing freedom of choice, the right to associate or refuse association, is forgotten) and to give people their “rights” to goods and services at the FORCED expense of others.
This is because the old principles are out of sight and forgotten – and, however good his intentions may have been, Sir William Blackstone was one of the people who started to bury them.
This young man you see before you, cocky as hell, fit as a Butcher’s dog, hard as nails, and with a fag on, jumped out of a plane over Caen in Normandy from about 1000 feet, along with thousands of his brothers in arms. A 60Lb pack on his back, a Sten gun and a rifle, and a life expectancy of around 20 minutes, according to War Department estimates.
He was part of 6th Airborne whose job it was to support the glider troops who were to take Pegasus Bridge and prevent a German counterattack, until British troops from Gold and Sword beaches could reinforce them. Despite being scattered all over the place, his group finally made it to Pegasus Bridge.
He lasted much longer than that of course, and from that moment on he was at the sharp end of every battle all the way to Berlin and beyond. He was in Holland checking out the cellar of a house when a Panzer tank took out the house above him, and the rest of his platoon. Leaving him buried alive. It took him 3 days to dig himself out. He had a clause in his Will that stated that in the event of his death, his main artery was to be severed, just to make sure, because there was no way in hell he was going to be buried alive again! He was one of the first troops into Belsen, and couldn’t believe his eyes (even after having friends and comrades literally blown to bits next to him) at the sheer horror and depravity that one evil twisted ideology could inflict on fellow human beings. The most heartbreaking thing, he told me was when they tried to feed the inmates from their rations and watched them go into shock and die. They had no idea that could happen. It felt like they had put a gun to their head there and then.
And yes that cocky crazy incredibly brave young man, was my Father in Law. In whom I have immense pride. But what I wonder now, did he fight for? He was told he was fighting for freedom and democracy and the liberation of Europe; The last Righteous War. And he was. Trouble is our Elites and Politicians didn’t let it turn out that way.
The Attlee Labour Government promised paradise on earth after the privations of war (rationing continued until 1954) and won a landslide victory. They proceeded to Nationalise everything that wasn’t nailed down, and pretty much everything that was too. Then ran the whole country into bankruptcy. From the NHS (the envy of the world! Funny no other country has ever tried to copy it though eh?) to the Welfare state, which was to be a safety net not a lifestyle. Government after Government thereafter (Tory or Labour it made no difference) conspired to manage the decline of Great Britain, not its resurgence.
We spent much blood and much gold and lost an Empire on a very righteous fight for freedom against unmitigated evil. You’d think that Europe would have been grateful eh? Well some of them probably were, but the movers and shakers like President De Gaulle of France were moving and shaking towards a new, but very old idea… The United States of Europe.
At first they called it the Coal and Steel pact, between France and Germany. Both made interdependent so that Germany could never go to war against France again (by 1945 Germany was so fucked, disgusted and guilty with itself, they never ever wanted to go to war with anyone again, anyway), but with the arrogant French thinking they were going to be the leaders and the Germans the workers in this new world order. Well it didn’t work out like that.
Now a united Germany is the master of Europe, and calls all the shots. The “Ever closer Union” that condescending nutters like traitorous Ken Clarke, believes are just a form of words not a statement of intent, is getting ever closer to becoming The United States of Europe, and with as much democracy as Hitler himself would have allowed.
The Queen is even now laying wreaths with President Hollande (who would probably like to guillotine her) in the Champs Elysees, and Chuckles Buggerlugs is doing the same in Arromanches where the Mulberry Harbour and Gold beach was, to all those who made such a noble sacrifice on behalf of Liberty and Freedom.
On such anniversaries such as this, and with bitter tears in my eyes, I wonder if my Father in Law, dead over 20 years now, would have thought it worth the bother .
At the Telegraph:
It is important to understand that Marine Le Pen positioned herself to the Left of the UMP and, at least on economics, arguably to the Left of the Socialists. She railed against capitalism and globalisation, called for higher expenditure, and supported state-run energy, healthcare, education, transport and financial services. Where her father used to complain about welfare scroungers, she wants a more generous range of entitlements.
You don’t say.
Libertarians sometimes say that we are really “classical liberals”, “19th century liberals”.
Of course if I actually found myself in Victorian Kettering my political opinions (against the establishment of a School Board, anti prohibition of booze, hostile to land nationalisation or even taxation…….) would mark me as a “Conservative” indeed an “arch Conservative” or a “blackhearted reactionary Conservative” (which, of course, is exactly what I am).
But let us leave aside these irritating “fact” things, and go off into generalities…..
There was a strain of 19th century liberalism that was pro freedom (even if I can not find much evidence that it ever existed in Kettering – centre of the universe). Indeed “Liberalism” was the international movement that declared itself pro freedom – dedicated to reducing the size and scope of government.
In Britain such things as 1835 Muncipal Reform Act were intended to sweep away the corrupt Tory dominated closed corporations and lower the rates (the property taxes). Of course the actual result (in Manchester and virtually everywhere else) is that the rates went UP – but the intention was good. And, indeed, such Liberal party leaders as Gladstone really did work to reduce government spending and taxes – and with some success (at least till 1874). And some Conservative party leaders (such as Disraeli) were vile statist ………
However, the major liberal thinkers in Britain in the 19th century (at least the mid to late 19th century) present a confused picture. The thought of people such as J.S. Mill and Walter Bagehot (and so on) seems pro freedom when one first glances at it – but the more one examines it in detail the less pro freedom (pro driving back the size and scope of the state) it is.
But it would take an essay (or book) to show fully what I mean…………………………………………………………..
In Europe and Latin America also “Liberal” meant the party of freedom – but it does get a bit harder to argue the case in practice.
In Latin America “Liberal” basically meant “someone who robs the Church” as that is what Latin American Liberals seem to have concentrated on – with anticlericalism being a sort of religion in-its-self with them. But there were some Liberal (as in freedom) aspects – for example in the 1850s the Columbian Liberals got rid of slavery (also done by Liberal forces in other Latin American countries – the first being Chile in the early years of the 19th century). But there does seem to have been an obsession with “nation building” – with Liberals being associated with state education systems, and “national this” and “national that”.
In Europe the picture is not wonderful either.
In France things are best in terms of what “Liberal” meant – with the French “Liberal School of Political Economy” being solidly libertarian, the Say family, Bastiat and so on. And having a positive influence in the United States (the leading American free market economist of the 19th century was A.L. Perry – a follower of Bastiat). Even as late as the 1920s 1930s Irving Babbit (the leader of the “New Humanism” in literature) was a follower of French civilisation – and an enemy of the statism he associated with German thought.
Hard for us to think of French thinkers as defenders of “capitalist” civilisation – but perhaps we should remember such modern thinkers as Bertrand de Jouvenel and (leaving economics but not the defence of civilisation) Jacques Barzun – who died in Texas last year, the last living link with the old French civilisation, the civilisation that all those left bank degenerates revolted against.
Once French “Liberal School” thinkers (not British thinkers – as British liberal economic thought was a bit of a mess, Walter Baghot, J.S. Mill, Alfred Marshall) were indeed the main counter weight to Germanic statist thought in the United States. It is only later that the “Austrian School” took on the antistaist role of the French School in American thought – with, perhaps, the first Amercan thinker to be an open follower of the “Austrian School” being Frank Fetter.
People such as Richard Ely (and his followers “Teddy” Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson) may have wanted to destroy Germany – but only because they wanted to turn the United States into a new (and more extreme) version of Germany. Of course a more extreme version of Imperial Germany was eventually created, but not in the United States (as the Progressives were pushed back by Conservative forces in America) – but by the National Socialists in the 1930s, who adopted many American Progressive ideas (such as the extermination of the “inferior”) which had met determined opposition in the United States itself (almost needless to say, the true evil of the American Progressive movement does not appear in mainstream American history books – where they are presented as true “liberals”).
But in Switzerland, Germany and Italy things were less clear than in France.
In Switzerland – liberalism became associated with centralisation (with the destruction of the independence of the Cantons after the was of 1947 – in order to persecute Catholics, religious persection of the Jesuits may be “Liberal” but it is not libertarian) and the increase in the size and scope of the Central government after the 1874 Constitution – and in stages since then. Although, it should be pointed out, that the 20th century Liberal party in Switzerland was opposed to further centralisation – and was considered the opposite of the Social Democrats who became part of the Swiss govenrment in 1959 (and still are part of the Swiss government).
In Germany things were not good either. German liberalism was obsessed with nationalism. This became clear in 1848 – when the energies of the liberals were entirely devoted to building up a “nation called Germany” (an idea about as positive as the obsession with a “nation called Europe” is now).
Such a “unification” could only lead to higher taxes and so on (because of the reduction of tax and regulation competition between the various polities of the old Germany) – but the liberals (for the most part) did not seem to care about that.
Indeed even the opposition (it is wrong to call it resistance – as the liberals did not fire a shot) to the extra Parliamentary taxation (plundering) of Bismark after 1861 was not opposition to higher taxes as such, but just over who should increase the taxes.
That taxes “had to be” increased, in order to build up the Prussian Army to “unify” Germany (by such things as attacking Denmark, Austria and France……) was taken for granted by most Germans “liberals”. They just wanted to be in charge of doing it.
The Prussian liberals eventually split – into the “National Liberals” (who were Bismark’s slaves – till he turned on them as a “party of Jews”), and the “Progressives” who just went on about “civil liberties” (keeping rather quiet about the private property rights upon which civil liberties really depend) who eventually became the slaves of the Social Democrats (who, it should be remembered, were full socialists in Germany till the conference of 1959 when they moderated their position).
Bismark’s takeover of places such as the Kingdom of Hanover (and the increase in taxes upon the local people) do not seem to have produced much opposition from German Liberals.
Even the later creation of the Prussian Welfare State (with its roots in the “Police State” thinking of Frederick the Great and so on – long before) and Progressive (graduated) income taxation – seem to have only been opposed by a few isolated Liberal thinkers (not the mass of Liberal thought).
It is somewhat of a mircle that the few isolated thinkers that were all that was left of “economic liberalism” in Germany by the Second World War (in the face of the German “Historical School” effort to wipe them out) were able to lauch such a comeback after World War II – although they were helped by the utter collapse of the National Socialists (the Nazis) and the wretched mess that the international socialists (the Marxists) produced in East Germany. People (especially Catholic Conservatives) were looking for something else – and the few pro private enterprise (as opposed to Progressive) “liberal” thinkers in Germany provided it.
People (not just big “capitalists”) all sorts of people were looking for ideas that WORKED (a very German demand – as in the positive side of the German spirit) and the, relatively, free market policies offered to Germany from 1948 onwards did work.
And 19th century Italy?
Perhaps worst of all.
Mussolini was to say that his Fascism (all power to the state) was the “opposite of liberalism” (with its desire to reduce the size and scope of the state).
But there is little evidence for this in 19th century Italy (bar a few islolated thinkers) – on the contrary Italian Liberalism was obsessed with “unification”.
What did this mean in practice? In meant language persecution (with places like Venice having Tuscan forced down upon the people – as “standard Italian”), it meant conscription (for example Sicily did not have conscription before “unification”), it meant plundering (of Churches in Rome – and of private banks in Naples, whose wealth went to the new “Italian Treasury”) and it meant HIGHER TAXES.
Taxes in the South of Italy (the old Kingdom of Naples and Sicily) basically doubled – no wonder so many Southern Italians fled their “liberation” to go all the way to the United States. But a century and a half of brainwashing state eduation have made Italians forget all this – and resistance (which lasted for decades in Sicily) is written up as “bandit activity”.
In spite of its high taxes, the Liberal Kingdom of Italy was always on the verge of bankrutpcy – going from pratfall to pratfall till it collapsed in the face of the Fascists in the 1920s.
What to make of all this?
Well Karl Marx had no trouble explaining the contradiction between the pro freedom words of the Liberals and there less than pro freedom actions.
To him liberalism was just an “ideology” representing the “interests of the capitalists” – so governments would do what was in the interests of these “capitalists”.
The trouble with the Marxist account is that it is not true. For example some big business enterprises may have gained by Italian government’s Imperial adventures – but most big business enterprises lost by the high taxation and the messed up national finances.
In Germany Bismark never ruled in the interests of business – on the contrary he secretly subsidized the first socialists (whose movement he only turned against when it became powerful) in order to scare business people into not imposing his high tax policies (it is me or the Reds lads), and the people who followed Bismark were worse than he was. It is always possible to find business enterprises who benefit from statism – but that does not alter the fact that most of “big business” LOSES by it.
So what does explain why liberalism fell so short of its promise?
Anti clericalism is part of it – for example in Germany the Liberals mostly strongly supported Bismark’s “War of Culture” persecution of the Roman Catholics. Hardly a libertarian position – and one that made their own position, as Liberals, an isolated one. After all why should the Catholics support the Liberals when Bismark turned upon the latter as a “party of Jews”? The Liberals had not supported the freedom of the Catholics. And the Catholics (from 1891) fell more and more into forms of economic interventionism of their own – becomming the divided group of people they still are (Catholic “Social Teaching” is actually riven by rival “interpretations”).
But the main factor was the obsession with the “nation”.
Liberals rejected loyality to the old Kings and Princes (or to the little Free Cities) and they certainly rejected loyality to an international Church.
But they had a loyalty of their own – to the new “nation state” (whether in Latin America, Europe, or the “New Nationalism” and “New Freedom” of the American Progressive moverment which corrupted American liberalism – once American liberals had opposed the Progressives, but by the 1920s they had become one and the same, only the most reactionary elements in American life, the American versions of “Colonel Blimp and the old school tie” stood up in defence of Civilisation against the Progressive onslaught of eugenics and other horrors – much as the Hapsburgs, and other such, stood against it in Europe).
This Progressive nationalism (the interests of “the nation”, “the people”), not the “squalid interests of the capitalists”, eventually became the guiding light of liberalism.
But it collapsed in the horror of the unlimited “total wars” – the First World War and the Second World War.
“Well at least liberals have rejected nationalism now Paul”.
Yes they certainly have – so totally that they have forgotten that they were nationalists – and, sadly, they have replaced it with something WORSE.
There was always an elment in the New Liberalism (Progressivism) that was not satisfied with nationalism – after all some nations might collapse into “reactionary” forms of thought (perhaps even such “absurdities” as “natural law” like the more reactionary Catholics, Protestants and Jews).
The most “learned” (in the sense of the vile twisted “wisdom” one gets from, say, studying the works of Sauron – the basis of so much social sciences and humanities work in the universities and schools….) Progressives were never really satisfied with the tup thumping Proto National Statism of someone like “Teddy” Roosevelt – a man whose bark was often worse than his bite – for example he might not with agreement to an argument that blacks were inferior, but exterminate them? not a chance, he “even” used the same toilets as black people – which an “intellectual” such as Woodrow Wilson would never do. Deep down there was still something of the reactionary “gentleman” about T. Roosevelt (for all his Progressive ideas). And there was a fear that such people could never “rise above” the petty and weak ideas of their national traditions.
A true Progressive intellectual (such as Woodrow Wilson) thought on a WORLD scale.
They still worshipped the state – but it was (in their muddy dreams) a WORLD state. With nowhere, anywhere, for the “reactionary” and “inferior” to flee to.
Only a world state could ever truly be the new “God” – to replace the old fashioned (“bearded man in the sky”) view of God, that Progressive “Social Gospel” thought wished to transform into a religion of “the people” and “collective salvation”.
Even Woodrow Wilson never quite “freed himself” from the “moral chains of good and evil” that had been taught to him in childhood – and by the habits of his nation.
Marxism and other developments of international collectivism really made an impact later – cutting off the last links with concepts of “good” and “evil” in terms of personal conduct and honour.
The world state would not be a “state” – it would be “the people” the new “God”. And good would be (as with extreme theological “voluntarism” which is similar to legal and philosophical “Positivism”) whatever served the interests of this new “God” as worked out by the “enlightened elite”. Whether they called themselves, Marxist, Progressive, or “Liberal”.
As terrible as the 19th century alliance between Liberalism and Nationalism was – the 21st century alliance between Liberalism and COLLECTIVIST “internationalism” may prove to be even worse.
So what are we up to in Mali?
I have never seen a more rapid and openly disingenuous escaltion ever. First it is a couple transport planes, then it’s a surveillance plane (but no boots on the ground – honest), then it’s “training” and it’s allowing tankers to operate from British airfields but still we’re “not going to be combatant”. It beggars belief. Finally all the pundit’s of Jane’s Fighting Armchairs are talking of a long-term commitment. I suppose that’s kinda like marriage. Except marriage is nice and being shot at by ragheads until HS2 is completed* (or for the duration) isn’t.
So why the interest?
iDave has annoyed the French with all this referendum on the EU nonce-sense. Helping out Hollande is some quid pro EU. He’s blotted his copy book but is now trying to get himself back in the good books by playing teacher’s pet.
Which of course begs the question. Why are the French getting involved? Could it just be that 80% of French electricity is nuclear and France buys 80% of it’s Uranium from Niger which is beginning to look almost surrounded by Islamist insurgencies…
If that domino falls to the beards France is up a gum-tree without an electric paddle.
Oh, and of course it’s back to the Caliphate. And not the future. To dark age tyranny over all of North Africa in the C21st. And boat people across the Med in huge numbers. Not that I’d blame them.
And if that happens expect the domino (I think that game is haram BTW) next to be Nigeria where we do have interests. Yet more refugees. Not that I’d blame them either. It’s not that I hate refugees – I don’t at all and they should be afforded our help, if it comes to that – but I hate the reasons for them which are universally vile – like polio better prevention than remedy (Yes, I did see Bill Gates at the RI last night – and he pussy-footed about saying polio would be no more if it wasn’t for Islamic fundamentalism – not that we can be too proud following the MMR fiasco). Politicians (by and large) do hate refugees because the Daily Wail can whip up an election killing stink over ‘em.
But there is another thing – returning to the energy issue** – and that is we have got into a position where these places matter to us.
So I suggest if iDave hadn’t engaged in a cockamamie grand-standing over the EU (the price of which is helping out France in a war that at first blush has nothing to do with us) and we hadn’t put ourselves in a situation where we simply can’t generate electricity sufficiently (I’m talking base-load here) we wouldn’t be embroiled in this utter mess.
I mean the sensible thing is to just get fracking! And of course build nuke plants. And yes, I’m calling Johnnie Porridge out on this. And all the bally rest of ‘em such as Chucles the Lugs all because they dream of their deranged visions of The Shire. Deranged because unlike the Hobbits we have the tech (sadly less advanced than it ought to be due to their meddlesome obstruction) and also deranged because they dream of sitting at the high-table and lording it over the rest of us. Oddly enough I don’t get the impression (and I am a Tolkienista) that was how Hobbits actually lived. They didn’t have a Central Committee of the Righteous.
Oh, well, it’s all going to pot. But I would warn them we’re only three power cuts from bloody revolution. I hope we do not go gentle into that last dark night.
*Why is that taking so long to build. Isambard Kingdom Brunel would have reached for the smelling salts on hearing the time-scale. I mean 20-odd years to build a railway not quite as good as that the French or Japanese, or… have had for decades. It’s like me being charged through the nose for a Ford Escort to be delivered just in time for turning 60. I’m 39 BTW. Yes, that is the time-scale!
**It would appear the Cumbrians have voted against a major nuclear waste storage facility so that is British nuclear power buggered and we’re stuck with playing with whirly-gigs and importing real power from France via the Channel cables. So in that sense Niger matters to us and therefore Mali does. How it should come to this is of course a sequence of unfortunate events. And of course the oil and gas from Nigeria.
I have been rereading a couple of works that I have not looked at in many years – Sir John Fortescue’s “In Praise of the Laws of England” and “Of the difference between absolute and limited monarchy”.
Fortescue was writing in the late 1400s – at the time of the so called “Wars of the Roses” in England, but it is his picture of France that interests me here.
Some of what Fortescue writes is exaggerated, even bigoted. But there is, sadly, much truth in the picture he presents of France.
By the late 1400s France was a land where (as with Roman Empire) the professional army of the King could demand that people in towns and villages give them anything they needed (or claimed to need). And where the Estates General (the French Parliament) had given up the right to regularly approve (or decide NOT to approve) taxation – with th nobles of France having been bought off by imunity from most (although not all) taxation.
Also any ordinary person could be condemned to death in France by the King’s judges without anything that would be understood as a proper trial in England.
Roman law (in the sense of the Roman law of the Empire – with the Prince being above the law and able to change the law by his own WILL) had triumphed in France – with such “feudal” ideas as juries swept away. Louis XI (“Louis the Spider”) sat in his dark tower making up webs of “laws” on the basis of his whims, much like a Roman Emperor.
However, France had not always been like this. Once the nobles, townsmen and freemen of France had been strong in the defence of their liberties – and had forced such Kings as Charles the Bald to recognise them.
Indeed, for example, such things as even the King of France not having the right to take the land held by one family and give it to another had been accepted as an “old right” even as far back as the 877 Edict of Quierzy.
Juries (first, of course, as a form of gaining evidence rather than deciding a verdict) actually came to England from northern France – yet in France (by the time of Fortescue) they had been suppressed. After all one could not have a local group of freemen giving their formal view, either as evidence or as judgement, of the facts of the case – that might limit a judge in his desire to execute people, or to torture them (“putting the question” another feature of late Roman law) till they confessed.
So what had changed? How had such things as eternal taxation (as opposed to taxation considered as a emergency matter – to be approved, each time, by the Estates General) come to be? How had the French King mutated into something close to a Roman Emperor?
My own view is that the so called “hundred years war” with England (mostly faught on the soil of France) was the main factor in the transformation of France from having a limited government – to something that, whilst not totally without limits, was close to be like the government of the Roman Empire (unlimited government).
French desperation to survive conquest, and the desperate desire for “order” (as armed men of many masters and none plundered and killed in most of the country) led to the French people placing vast power in the hands of the government.
Remember what were considered terrible and exceptional circumstances in England during the so called “War of the Roses” had been the NORM in France for around a century.
It may be this that so transformed France from a land of limited government – to what Richard Burke (the son of Edmund Burke) was later to call a land where “the state was all in all”.
In a daring raid intended to boost the morale of the French [hmm...], Wing Commander Ken Gatward flew just feet off the ground to put the wind up the Germans.
After dropping a huge French flag on top of the Arc de Triomphe, the British pilot headed towards the Gestapo headquarters which he raked with 20mm shells.
The attack sent the German SS troops running for their lives [and crying like girls], to the delight of Parisians.
Just read the whole thing. It’s awesome.
It reminds me oddly of this.
An interesting thing happened a few years back.
There were two new music formats out. MP3 and a DVD – Audio. MP3 won, and DVD -Audio is dog biscuits. Why? MP3 was convenient. Oh, lower quality than even CD but so what? I recall reading at the time to get the monty out of DVD – Audio you needed to go to Richer sounds with a dump-truck full of money. Or you could buy an iPodule.
Much the same has happened with cameras. What fundamentally is revolutionary about the digicam? Well my Sony Alpha 55 is much the same as my Pentax MZ-50 film camera in many ways. What is different is ubiquity and the price per shot. This laptop has a camera. OK, it’s only really for Skype etc but did I not see people with laptops round the sites of Paris using them to take pictures? Yes. Did I also see loads of people using tablets? Yes. or iPhones and similar. Forget the quality and feel the convenience. There has been an explosion in photography. And it’s just like download music. Dog cheap and dog rough.
Now here is something I hate. I was in this gaff in Paris. It’s gorgeous. The stained glass is kick-ass.
Now this is one of my piccies…
That is from the big round window in Sainte-Chapelle. It is Christ presiding over the Book of Revelations. The full window has the Beasts and the Whore of Babylon and all the rest. I took it with my 300mm Tamron lens. Numpties were using flash on Samsung Galaxies. Seriously. Now you don’t have to be an f/stop philosopher to realise that photographing stained glass from the inside using a flash is an exercise in utter futility. But who cares? It costs nothing (near enough).
Now if we roll back time something weird happens. Now obviously an iPhone in many ways is a better camera than some wooden box that Lewis Carroll would use but I’ve seen his piccies and they are gorgeous. Technically brilliant. At some level the sheer cheapology of it has resulted in crapology. Back when Victoria was on the throne a photograph was expensive so folks took care. Now it’s cheap as chips and thoroughly automatic for the people so the quality has gone done hill like a cannon ball rolling off Mount Everast. In Sainte-Chapelle there were hordes of folk taking pictures with every form of gadget imaginable. And then there was me and a woman in her 20s with a Nikon DSLR who was holding it right – as I was with my Sony. The simple truth is our society has not coarsened morally as much as economically. I am as guilty as everyone else. I have taken puerile photos of puerile things. At high quality on my Sony with an 8 Gig card I can take 1000 photos. On my Pentax I can squeeze a roll to maybe 39. I can delete as I wish with the Sony too. I can feck around with the settings. It’s a nightmare when you review them. Umpteen piccies of the same thing from the same angle just with different ISO or exposure. And bear in mind the Sony has SteadyShot so for a static image I can get down to 1/20s sometimes and that is hand-held and still looks good.
I know I must sound like an old git but… I do have a point. The ubiquity of the image cheapens it because well, it is cheaper. On the Paris Metro (line 1) I sat opposite a Japanese bloke who was photographing everything. He grabbed a shot of the “stand clear of the doors” sign. Why? God knows. The image I reproduced above is of Jesus Christ on the last day in stained glass in a gorgeous late medieval chapel. One I think is worth more. Not financially but culturally. And no. I am not being a snob.
It’s like twitter. Back in the days of writing copperplate letters people had to think about what they wrote. Is it any surprise the number of celebs etc. who have posted on twitter something immediately regrettable? Or indeed even twitter addict Stephan Fry who felt the need to say he was stuck in a lift? If you don’t have to think then what you produce is either vile or banal or both. Mr Fry is clearly an intelligent chap so why such dross? He has the technodiction as have we all these days and he’s got it bad.
No, I don’t want to go back to cuneiform and graven images but we need to think before we shoot. Or tweet. Or whatever. Consider txt-speak. That wouldn’t happen if it wasn’t cheap as air. People would take time to craft a txt msg if it cost a quid a throw.
And yes, I appreciate as a blogger this is trivial junk. But it matters to me. To put it bluntly I wanted to share the above image with you the moment I took it. I hope you like it. It took about 15 mins to find it and I’m still not sure it is the definitive one! As I said, I’m just as guilty as everyone else of cheapening the image. And the letter and all the rest.
I can’t write English with a pen anymore. Seriously.
Another point. I learnt to take piccies on a seriously good optically (though heavy) Zenit. It belonged to my then girlf. It weighed a pig-iron ton. Of course I had to learn. I also had to do, as part of my physics degree, a photo course with Tony, the Nottingham University Physics photographer. Fascinating. It was a horrendous day in December and I slipped coming down the road on the ice and snow so I was soaking but he taught me the f/stops. Certain readers around here probs know how cold Nottingham is in winter. That is when I really got into piccies. Tony and Rachel. Tony was a nice guy and she was an uber-munt. But that is when I learnt. Greece was field practice. I have loved cameras for years and oddly enough I only really got into them once I got into SLR/DSLT territory. Before that I was a mere snap-shooter. Now I am not.
I have to say something mind. In 1996 I go up the Empire State Building early in the morning. NYC looks gorgeous and I have the Pentax K1000. And the film rips. That is an utter buggeration. I would have rather been anally raped by Lady Gaga with a 12 incher (actually if she uses enough lube that could be fun) than that happen. I got pictures of lower Manhatten and the Twin Towers at dawn but they no longer exist. Not like that is an option to go back anymore. Tnank you Al Queda! You can shoot a fourteen year old in the head in Crapistan (Now being treated in Brum) but can you build 110 storeys? Nicht. No you can’t. You can create chaos, slaughter and slavery. And no this is not Islam. Turkey isn’t like that. Sayeed (Mancunian Pakistani) at the corner shop ain’t either. His wife, a Mulimmah, wears a saree. I guess she is c.40. She looks very nice. It is flattering. It’s no burkha.
The depraved bastards. You know the 9/11 mob shaved their pubic hair to be righteous. I quite like (female – obviously) pubic hair but I also like the smooth look. The later is more fun for oral sex. But shaving is more morally righteous according to Big Mo. Certainly when moral righteousness involves making killing 3000 people more morally righteous than getting the Gillette out. They shaved to be righteous in front of Allah. Not shaving your body hair or killing 3000 people. It’s a toss-up innit?
I know where I stand here. I like piccies. I take hordes. I do not regard any image as wrong per-se. Being against graven images went out with the bronze age. I do think we ought to take care with piccies but is a nude image wrong or indeed any image. I posted an image of God. Call me. It is the fundamental (to me) idea of libertarianism. “Many things we should not do, but that shouldn’t make them illegal.”
Terrible photos should not exist but that should not make them illegal. Taking such shots is it’s own punishment after-all.
There will be a Paris edition which will be more fun. But I have to post this.
But before the piccie some background. I am a Quaker warden (for my sins) and part of my responsibility is to look after a stream that runs through our grounds. Well that is disputed. A couple of years ago there was hell on over who owned what. Hell on between the Quakers and the Church of England*. Neither of course want it but according to B who is a farmer and knows about such stuff the stream is the boundary which when it floods is agro. Of course me, my wife, B and others of our meeting and the owners of the pub which has a car-park in this fight sort it out. The Church of England does the square root of fucketh all. And, they need a new roof. They have posters round the village. They need GBP200K for the roof. Now a little known fact about me is that I like taking pictures of religious buildings. I have some kick-ass ones of various cathedrals and a few mosques. So when I hear the vicar (who is clearly a woman in comfortable shoes but wouldn’t have a lesbian marriage in her parish – we want that because this is Cheshire and not Iran – the state won’t allow it even though the Quakers want it though).
Anyway, I go round the vicarage (very nice house) and I proffer my services with my Sony Alpha 55. It’s win-win. It’s a pretty church and that is fun for me and hopefully it will help the fund-raise so it’s a win for her. We make a date and time. So I show up with all my kit (inc. a tripod) at the time and date and nowt. So I trudge up home. No good deed escapes punishment does it? I try to phone. I dunno – maybe she had a critically ill parishioner but to no avail. She just said that at the time because it was easy. Same way (see *) she pissed me about over this homeless chap. I am not a Christian. I am a Godless Heathen but I’m better than the CofE at providing a bit of comfort to those who don’t have a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of (that’s NYC Jewish BTW). I dropped that camera in the Blue Mosque in Istanbul (it was bollocked but insured to the hilt). No issues there. No imams playing Les buggeurs risible. As an aside in Paris I am allowed to take piccies (they shall follow) in Notre Dame and The Louvre but not in Sacre Coeur or the Musée d’Orsay I is not. In Sacre Coeur (I swear to God) the sign outside says no piccies. OK, disappointing but their gaff, their rules. So I’m wearing the camera round my neck. Of course I am! I’ve been taking pictures of Paris from Montematre but some officious cunt grabs me. I wasn’t going to break the rules and I had even turned the camera off but still I was grabbed – physically grabbed – and told he me to put it in the bag. Utter cunt. He then wanders round going, “Shush!!!” very loudly. Christ almighty! You give some fucker a uniform and minimum wage and you get numpties.
Anyway here is the picture. This is on the boundary.This is pagan fucking idolatry.
Really.This is a soft toy attached to a fence by barbed wire. It is on almost the exact boundary between us and the CofE.
*I fucking hate our CofE vicar. She cast nasturtiums against me for feeding a homeless man. Every Sunday morning I buy milk – and that means seeing the stream up to our gaff and the trickle up to St Mary’s.
So fuck off. I am more a Christian than those fuckers and I ain’t even a believer. Neither are they
I know this has been done to death here (cracking post from RAB!) and elsewhere but it needs to be said or re-iterated at least. I was born in England in 1973 (the year the UK, the Irish Republic and Denmark joined the club) and I have subsequently been to (in no particular order) France, Spain, Belgium (briefly), Holland, Germany, Yugoslavia (as was – twice!), Hungary, Czechoslovakia (and subsequently the Czech Republic), Poland, The Irish Republic, Portugal, Hungary, Austria (very briefly), Greece, Malta and indeed Turkey. Some of the above several times. Many of the above I shall happily re-visit. There is a picture (I really have to sort my piccies out) of me hugging a statue of a bull over the Asian side of Istanbul and no I wasn’t pissed at all. I was just thinking cool! Another continent bites the dust.
You think that artificial? Of course it is! The East side of the Bosphorus is no more or less culturally European than Porto. Being European is a state of mind. It has nothing to do with (often nominal) religion either. An odd thing about Istanbul is that it has maintained into this century the habit of having streets of x,y or z. Just down from the Europa bull is the street of wedding dresses. And by wedding dresses I mean things Jordan would regard as OTT.
I mean Katie Price not the near-East country.
I have met gits on three continents. Mainly I have met decent people. I have met many of both in my own country. I have met many of both in Europe or the USA and many in my “toe in the water” trip to Asia. I even met some recently in Paris! I have met gits of course but for good or ill they seem to be fairly evenly distributed. In a deluge in Istanbul I slipped and fell awkwardly on subway steps. A Turkish businessman in a nice suit helped right me and asked if I was OK (I was – I only fell awkwardly to protect my camera bag). He spoke perfect English. He was very nice. I know “nice” sounds like damning with faint praise but it was nice. On the far side of this continent people were just the same.
Well, almost. I found the Turks to be polite and helpful. Sometimes witty (hard to gauge sometimes given the language gap) but be aware the restaurant barkers are tiresome.
We can all get on. I like (some) French wine, Czech cars, Polish vodka, Scottish salmon (not the Alex version), Italian cheese, Finnish software, women from everywhere (as long as they are smart, funny and good-looking), German ham, Belgian beer, Spanish tiling, Swedish crime stories, English novels…
We build airliners that are duralumin overcasts because we have engineers, not politicians. Have you flown on an Airbus? Probably. The wings are designed in Bristol and made in Wales. Final assembly is Toulouse. Whatever! OK, the last two ‘planes I was on were Brazilian but that is not the point is it? I’ve flown on a fair few Embraers and they always got me back (good on you Brazil!). So are all the rest I have flown on. If the ground traffic was bad it has taken me longer than the one hour fly time from Paris to Manchester to get from my outskirts to Manchester Town Hall.
This they don’t get it. We can fly, we can twitter, we can Skype… All this has nothing to do with the EU.
In the 1960s my Gran phoned her sister who had emigrated to Melbourne. My Gran didn’t have a phone. She used a local grocer’s shop she had an a/c with. A twenty minute call cost nearly a week’s wages. She hid the bill.
We have created a global society not because of politics but in spite of it.
I am writing this near Manchester. The latest kitty in the count is Julie (near Chicago – spot on virgin post Julie btw!) and the server is in Queensland, Oz. Did legislation and politics make it possible for us to all run and play? Did it hell! I am typing this on a Lenovo laptop. This was made and designed in China but that’s because Lenovo bought up IBM’s brand for laptops and it has USA DNA so to speak. It runs Windows 7 for a start.
And that is the point. The EU (and more broadly) is an exercise in stealing our intrinsic internationalism and then parceling it back as a “gift”. If you, as I do, read late Victorian/Edwardian stories then the World was at least as globalized as it is now. Seriously. Read the Holmes canon if you doubt me. We don’t need a superstructure in Brussels to give us back (and we must thank them for it) rights we always had. They took those rights and are now parceling them back and expect us to be grateful for giving us a semblance of what we had a century ago! They call it progress. I call it graft.
No, I don’t exactly. There is graft obviously but it is more than that. It is about the political class making itself important whereas in a rational World none of this is needed. We are not a nursery school. We don’t need an authority figure to make us “play nice”. We certainly don’t need this to be self-imposed with the tacit concept that if we don’t have nanny we will automatically be at each other’s throats. The EU is many things. Ultimately it is patronising. We don’t need looking after and we really don’t need the aggression of the EU because the same political class (note I don’t say working class, middle class or upper class but -political class) building barriers only to partially tear them down and then claim credit for it. The EUrocrats are the sort of people who will piss on your rug and then want a lollypop for cleaning half of it.
Europe is united at the the most fundamental level. This is bottom-up*. Officialdom never helps. It hinders and when it “tries to help” it requires praise and a gold star sticker on the infant school merit board. This is toxic. This is politics – making out they are heroes for granting rights you had anyway if not for politics taking it away and then drip-feeding you such rights back (or not). When I lived in Stepney, East London, we’d go to the Globe pub and round the table would be Brits and Americans, and French and Italians and Germans and all the rest. We’d do the pub quiz**.
We don’t need nanny to get on. We need ourselves. Just that. And we need cheap flights. The sort of things that the EU goes berserk over in terms of CO2 and stuff. They like trains instead. Trains. Fucking trains. Like Orv and Will bust their humps to go by fucking train.
We are not united by politics. We are united by cheap ‘planes that our EU Lords hate. Have you ever wondered about the concept of a geographical super-state in a non-geographical age? I have. They haven’t. They are playing the C21st with C19st pieces.
And if I had a single Euro for every time I have been accused of being anti-European (I am European for God’s sake!) for speaking out against the EU or the single currency despite loving Europe I’d be able to bail-out Greece. Well, for a week at least. If I were Angie I’d tell the hairy-backed fuckers to fuck off***.
So, I shared a joke about a bottom with a Frenchman. Is that not what it should really be about? If the powers that be realized just how similar we then they would melt like the Wicked Witch.
We need each other. Well, we are best with each other. We don’t need them telling us that. We don’t need them to “make it so”. We need shared laughter in a bar in Paris over a bared bottom. That sort of thing does more for genuine European integration than any quantity of expense account genuflecting from Brussels or Strasbourg.
And of course the sort of cheap flights the EU hates. Here “integration” and “environment” lock horns. Here I speak truth.
*Literally. I was in a bar in a student area of Paris recently (Thanks MHG!) and there was a birthday going on. Several students were somewhat Brahms et Liszt. One had forgotten to wear a belt and his trousers had slipped somewhat. My wife did a “pull-down gesture” and one of his mates yanked his underwear down revealing bare bottom. Generalised hilarity ensued. A bit later I got chatting with one of the lads outside whilst we were having a fag. He said, “You liked my mate’s bum?” I said, “Très bien!” and we chortled.
**I particularly recall one event because we were all bamboozled by a single question. “What was the first London Underground station to open?” That made very little sense to us all because a railway with one station makes no sense.
***The Greek male national sport would appear to be sexual harassment. They are largely right mummies boys you see. I was in this street in Athens once and I’m asking directions and this git (see above about gits – partially) starts fondling my girlfriend’s buttocks. I should have lamped the hairy backed troglodyte (he seriously didn’t look like a Spartan from 300). I didn’t because it was so off kilter I scarcely believed myself. Oddly enough the nicest town I saw in Greece was Sparta. Had a bloody good kebab served by a Greek-American who was back to the old country to help his uncle out. Jolly decent sort. Much can be done with a Greek if you catch them early enough.
What is the post Roman West? How does it differ from the Roman Empire?
Well, for example, under the Roman Empire the army was a professional force – it was the state.
The warbands of the Germanic chiefs were not the world of the Middle Ages either – the armies of the Middle Ages were Feudal, the King called upon his land holding vassels and they brought their men to his aid (if they were loyal).
They came from their castles – which were neither the state fortresses of the Roman Empire, or the strongholds of independent rulers.
They were something else – privately owned castles. And a King who tried to take land away from such lords – risked (indeed invited) revolt. But it was more than that – a ruler who took land from those who had inherited it invited contempt (people were outraged by what he had done – he was regarded with disgust) – it was a different world from the late Roman Empire. So the land went down over the generations (over hundreds of years). And other property (including coin) was also held more securely than under Roman law (at least as it was under the late Empire). A ruler in the Middle Ages might rob Jews with impunity (indeed he might win praise for robbing Jews – but Jews had been robbed and slaughtered by Roman Emperors also) – but to rob other Christians (even though they were Merchants, craftsmen or free peasants) invited contempt and open hatred – something that rival rulers might well use against him (or that the, armed, common people might take revenge for themselves).
Jews often did not even carry weapons (rather like Roman “citizens” under the Empire had not carried weapons – because they were not allowed to) – so they were beneath contempt. But however vile the commons were – they (0r at least the free ones) did carry weapons.
Roman Emperors were not limited in what land they could take by Feudal law – Roman law was whatever the Emperor said it was. The Emperor (the state) had a whim – and the intellectuals duely justified it and made it formal law. Roman legal philosophers reconised the concept of natural law (they even accepted that natural law forbad slavery) – but, to them, it had no practical force in the real world (the will of the state trumped it).
And the feudal landholders who led their men to the aid of the King – how did the travel and how did they fight?
On horseback – they were knights. They looked rather like Roman heavy cavarly of the late Empire – but their weapons and armour were not made in state arms factories (they were privately made), and their horses did not come from state stud farms – they were privately bred and owned horses.
Nor was there one great universal Empire – for all the claims of the new “Holy Roman Empire”.
On the contrary there were various Kingdoms, and Grand Dutchies and…… Not the temporary holdings of strongmen, but Kingdoms (and Princedoms and ….) that formally recognised the right of each to exist and to govern themselves.
Certainly they might invade each other – but they were, formally, at least under the same natural law (made by God – not by man). Another King (or Prince or ….) had rights. To put them to death in some savage entertainment would invite outrage.
One had to work hard to invent a good legal reason to invade somewhere else (and it is not automatic that one would come up with something) and if the case was bad then this would have an effect – the Church (an independent force – not a branch of the state as under the Roman Empire) might denounce you, your own lords might decide you had spat upon their honour (by involving them in an unjust war) and on and on.
Certainly wickedness and the slaughter of the innocent continued – but their were risks (and not just the battlefield risks that Roman Emperors understood) there was the risk of practical consequnces from inciting disgust with your conduct (even if the conduct was successful).
Not all Kings (and ….) only pretended to be honourable and uphold the natural law – some actually thought that their sworn word (on the Bible – or not) meant something (in a way that would have astonished someone in the late Roman Empire) – and even those rulers who were utterly cynical (rotten to the core) had to at least pretend to be men of honour upholding the universal law (the true law that they did not write) – and putting on a convincing performance needs certain pratical actions and inactions.
A strange hybid of the old warrior honour code of the barbarians – and the idea of formal law and government of the Romans.
When Papa Franz – the Emperor Franz Joesph last Hapsburg ruler before the First World War refused to go along with hate campaigns against the Jews – because he had given-his-word to treat all subjects equally, he was dealing with a concept (honour) that his ancestor riding out of Hawk Castle (from which the word “Hapsburg” comes) a thousand years before would have understood.
And his kin – both Habsburg and Bavarian Wittelsbach, risked their lives in the 1930s and 1940s – for people with whom they had nothing in common and whom aiding gave no advantage of power.
The highest ideal of chivalry – the service of the great (service till death) for the weak and helpless, and (the greatest leap of all – and so often failed) service to the alien, to the “other”.
Do I have to explain that a Roman ruler (even after the formal conversion of the Empire to Christianity) would have been utterly baffled by all of this?
The dark side of men (our love of seeing the blood of our enemies cover the ground – as their heads roll in the dirt) is well known. Whether Roman or barbarian we all love cutting the throats of our enemies (show me a man who denies feeling joy, or at least quiet satisfaction, at the dying screams of his enemies – and I will show you a liar). But to risk our own throats – and to risk them for those who are no kin of ours (or connection of ours) – that is something else again. As is showing mercy to enemies who have thrown down their arms – and grasping their hands in friendship at the very moment when they expected torture and death. Rare indeed are those who can match the deeds of Alfred the Great – or his warrior daughter Ethelfleda (or Aethelflaed – perhaps if the lady had a less difficult name she would be feminst icon) the “White Lady of the English”, but in our Walter Mitty way we think ourselves heros – the concept had no real meaning in the late Roman world. The great soldier certainly – but not those who would follow justice for its own sake, and follow it in regard to foes as well as friends.
All the above remained, in part (but it was always only in part), till quite recently.
Tanks may have replaced cavalry (not that Alfred and those who came after him really understood cavarly – indeed Tolkien argued that this lack of understanding led to the terrible events of 1066), but the code of honour remained.
Indeed up to the late 19th century so did the idea (in the British army at least) that an officer shoud not profit from military service – indeed that it should cost him and that he should outfit himself (and sometimes troops) at his own expense.
Colonel Blimp is a mocked figure – but he has his good side. There are things he will not do – and, more importantly, things he will die to save others from.
As even the socialist George Orwell admitted (in despair over the alliance of the National Socialists and the Marxists in 1939) “who now will now step forward to defend civilisation – only Colonel Blimp and the old school tie”.
Stepping forward from his (near bankrupt) country estate – or from his job in the City of London (where “my word is my bond” was the basis of relationships till 1986 – for it was a private club, indeed several different private clubs, not the government regulated entity it has been since 1986) to lead his tanks (or his aircraft) into battle with those who had betrayed civilisation and had declared “my honour is loyality” (thus showing they had no undertanding of what either “honour” or “loyality” really mean under the unversal law) – as if they were fighting raiders and invaders (whether Viking of Barbary corsair) centuries before.
“But what has all this to do with Charles the Bald”.
Well this man was the grandson of Charles the Great – Charlemagne.
Charlemagne is an over rated figure – due to his patronage of intellectuals (he paid for their bread, and their ink and parchment, and they praised him – there is some honesty in that relationship I suppose). He was essentially no good.
He did little to oppose the Islamic invaders of Europe. His campaigns aganst the Eastern pagans (such as the Saxons) were marked by brutality and cruelity (even by the standards of war) he plundered endlessly – and used the plunder buy the loyality of thugs. His campaigns against the pagans may have led the Viking age – both as revenge, but also because he had undermined the Fresians (the traditional check upon the Norse – going right back to Roman days). And he not did spare Christian Realms – as Bavaria was to discover in 788.
And why should he spare Christian lordships? After all Charlemagne believed in the old Roman Empire with himself as a new Constantine (another meglomanic), the Church his faithful servants – and the whole world his domain.
In economic policy to Charlemagne was a (late) Roman.
De facto serfdom (the tax policy of Diocletian that peasants not be allowed to leave their area of birth) was a difficult thing for any neo “Dark Age” administration to enforce (lack of written reconds and so on), but Charlemagne would have had no objection to it. And it is more than this.
In the Christian Church there has always been a great conflict over what a “just price” is – indeed over what “justice” is.
Is a just price one that is voluntarily agreed between buyer and seller?
Or is a “just price” what the state thinks is “fair”.
Just as is justice to each their own – or to each the income and wealth the state thinks “fair”?
No prizes for guessing which side Charlemagne came down on in this debate. The side the late Romans had come down on.
The side of tyranny.
Income and wealth went to who Charemagne thought it fair for them to go to (no better than an Islamic Caliph or a late Roman Emperor).
Prices were what Charlemagne (and his intellectual hangers on – that faction of the clergy that he favoured) thought “fair”. Bavarian law (also written by clerics) came down on the other side (that a just price was a price that the buyer and seller voluntarily agreed to) – so Charlemagne judgment was not automatic (not predetermined) – he made a choice to come down on the side of tyranny.
A good fighter and a parton of the arts and scholarship – but one can say the same of Constantine (or of many Islamic rulers).
In the world of Charlemagne we are not in the West – not as I have tried to describe its spirit above.
However, under Charles the Bald things changed – partly because Charles the Bald was not a very good soldier.
The Bretons defeated Charles the Bald in great battles, where the outnumbered Breton cavalry followed a war of movement – out flanking the Frankish armies and engaging in hit and run attacks, in the end Charles fled his own army under cover of night, leaving it to its fate.
Charles accepted de facto Breton independence and self government – something that lasted from the 9th century to the 16th century.
And it also established a principle – the new “Empire” (already divided under the sons and grandsons of Charlemagne) was going to be a very different place from the Roman Empire – places could, de facto, secede from it (and rule themselves) and Kings and Emperors would recognise their self government.
The Church also had more independence under Charles the Bald than under Charlemagne. The Bishops were (mostly) loyal to him – but then he desperatly needed their loyality.
Needed it because his kinsman Louis the German invaded his domians and Charles could not raise an army to oppose him (because Charles was an unpopular ruler).
The intervention of the Bishops saved the rule of Charles and he and his kinsman were eventually reconciled (various late Roman heads are exploding at this point – priests preventing a conquest [?] a power struggle not being to the death [?], does not compute – head explodes….). But there was a de facto price for the loyality of the Bishops – if one depends on their independent authority one has accepted that they have independent authority.
Nor were they the only people that Charles the Bald needed – especially as the Viking raids got worse and worse.
In his Edict of Pistes Charles the Bald did conventional things – such as ban trade with the enemy (especially in weapons and horses – selling them to the Vikings was punisable by death). But he also tried to develop his cavalry arm – for only cavalry could move fast enough to oppose raiders (and withdraw fast enough to avoid destruction if they found they were overmatched).
But how to raise this cavalry?
Charles could have tried the late Roman way – paid troops, given equipment from state arms factories and horses from state stud farms.
However, he simply did not have the resources to do that – so he tried something else.
Any private person who had the money to own a horse had to come and fight on horseback – or send someone to fight for him.
This was actually a return to the Classical world (including the old Roman Republic) where rich men had made up the cavarly – either directly, or by paying (personally) for the horse and horseman.
About a thousand years of French chivalry can be dated from this.
True in the 18th century the sacred Blue Cordon (once a group of knights who has sworn that the King would be unharmed till the the blue sashes they wore were turned red by their own blood) had turned into a glorified dining club (translate “cordon blue” into French and you will understand) – part of the general degeneracy that led to the French Revolution.
However, some ghost of the “old France” still remains, even the idea that a bad life can be redeemed by an honourable death that prevents some terrible act of wickedness, and in an intensely personal sense of honour and achievement that can be seen in extreme sports and in exploring.
Charles the Bald tried to ban private castles – but the effort was absurd.
He did not have the resourses to build (and maintain) enough castles of his own (although he did build fortified bridges that may have saved Paris, some years after his death, by holding up the Vikings) and castles were desperatly needed.
So local land holders (one can argue about whether they were officially land “owners” – but they were de facto private landowners, indeed far more so than landowers under Roman Imperial law) built, maintained and manned the castles. They were the first (and often the only) line of defence against raiders – both Viking and Muslim Corsair.
Estate management is a vital skill or any landowner (otherwise the family will go bankrupt – and the land pass to someone better at estate management) – but for centuries in France (and elsewhere) how to ride and how to fight were also vital skills.
It was not till the reign of Louis XIV that the nobility of France became painted toys, with absurd hairdos living in his vast (and rather absurd – its water supply did not work) palace (so different from where Kings of France had traditionally lived – compare Versailles to the Chateau De Vincennes on a visit to Paris). The noblity of France (unlike the nobilty of Britain) lost power and they lost their basic link to the land – they became toys of the Kings (and Louis the XIV aped the Roman Emperors – he was the Sun King) and fell with them. This is, in part, unfair some French noble families resisted the corruption of Versailles – but not enough.
And private castles had long been targeted by the Kings of France – and made useless by the age of gunpowder.
The private landownship (or de facto private landownership), on which everything else (from the idea of limited government to a spirit of personal honour) is based, where did it come from?
It came from the same source – the weakness of Charles the Bald.
He accepted that fiefs of land were hereditary – and not even a King of France could justly take the land of one person and give it to another (this is the foundation upon which modern Western civilisation was built).
It is fashionable to downgrade the importance of the Edict of Quierzy (877).
Modern historians (the same sort who regret the Ottomans not taking over all of Europe centuries later – because the Ottoman despotism was a much more “tolerant” and “progressive” civilisation than the landowner dominated European realms) downgrade the importance of the Edict of Quierzy.
Either they say it was just a restatement of an old principle (as if that makes it less important) or they say it was for selfish motives – to protect the allodial lands of his mother from Louis the German and to win over the support of lords against Louis the German.
That is like saying the Great Charta in England in 1215 was not important – because the basic motivation was to protect the property of barons from the King.
Of course the motivation was selfish. If Charles the Bald could have protected the lands of his mother (without having to call on the aid of others) he would have done so (by the way – where in asiatic despotism, sorry I mean in progressive social justice, is there concern for the large scale private property in land of a women?).
As for winning over Lords by a formal declaration that even a King can not steal their land – or steal it from their children….
It remains a formal declaration that a King can not justly take land – either from adults or their children.
All liberty (including civil liberties) is based upon private property rights – and if the property rights of the great are not respected what hope is there for the property rights of ordinary folk?
The slow (and vastly painful) process of building civilisation – of establishing liberty, depends on such foundations.
Even if they were (in part) built (unintentionally) by the weakness of a 9th century ruler by the name of Charles the Bald.