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Human Rights/Human Freedoms

Epstein Thrashes Rubenfeld on Natural Law; Panel on Redistribution of Wealth

I would swear that I saw, for the first time ever, outright anger in Prof. Epstein’s face the first time I watched this clip. Never mind, you can hear it in his voice as he gives Yale Law School’s Prof. Jed Rubenfeld a concise and pithy jolly what-for for a**-hattery.

This is the final 5:48 of a panel discussion described as below. The whole thing is quite interesting. Steve Forbes also seems to have some understanding of what’s what. Andy Stern of the infamous SEIU brings along his flag and his violin. And the odious Prof Rubenfeld is…well, odious. Although his question in Part 11 is one we all get asked a lot, and I’m glad to have Prof. E.’s response.

Best part first. The series begins with Part 1, below Part 11 here. I think you can just click through the segments from there.

–J.

Uploaded on Nov 17, 2009

The Federalist Society presented this panel discussion on Redistribution of Wealth at the 2009 National Lawyers Convention on Thursday, November 12, 2009. Panelists included Prof. Richard A. Epstein of New York University Law School; Mr. Steve Forbes, Chairman and CEO of Forbes Inc. and Editor of Forbes Magazine; Prof. Jed Rubenfeld of Yale Law School; Mr. Andrew L. Stern, President of the Service Employees International Union; and Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit as the moderator. Part 11 of 11

The whole thing is very much worth seeing, highly recommended, and be sure you have your kidney basin at the ready for Prof. Rubenfeld’s first appearance:

How Not to Be a Libertarian

I put the money quote in boldface ….

‘Anyone advocating government officials or anyone else coercively taxing some people against their will and giving that money to others [is] guilty of advocating coercion and intimidation. Such people are not libertarians based on the ZAP criteria.

Such people are also guilty of fraud if they claim to be “libertarians.”’

–Commenter Garry Reed | December 7, 2013, 9:36 pm

…in response to the posting ‘U.S. “Libertarians” Debate Basic Income,’ which links to several pieces, pro- and not-so, on the topic by various Shining and Less-Shining Lights. These include a podcast interview by somebody at Cato of our pal Zwolinski, whose allegedly libertarian heart regularly bleeds, though not for people who think charity and justice are two different things, and also a piece by somebody at Reason, who tells us how much less demeaning such a program would be. (I guess people are still, underneath it all, not proud of being unable to look after themselves — not even in the face of catastrophe.)

I thought this last article might be a satirical debunking of the idea, but no such luck.

The War against Eastasia: Theatre: The Paranoid Style in Libertarianism

Single Acts of Tyranny proposes to tyrannize us by destroying our fondest dream, which is that hell is the creation of the Devil which takes the form of bringing to Humanity that most desirable of conditions, happiness and joy — O hell, World PEACE, happiness and joy — by denying us everything that any human being could possibly need or want. In this case, the sense of physical sweetness that sugar brings us.

Now along comes Perfesser “Nudge” Sunstein, who says, “No such thing”: It’s all the woolly-minded Paranoid Libertarians, who broadcast to us the Sirens’ wail in the form of warnings against such things as slippery-slope arguments, plus four more dreadful paranoid ploys.

On the other hand, the Comments to the articule (what an apt typo! think I’ll leave it) seem to be running rather heavily against what they see as the Prof’s muddying of the waters.

Actually, it’s my observation that as soon as you let the meaning of words (that is, their meaning in Standard English, since there does have to be a standard for interpretation somewhere or “it’s deuces wild”) — as soon as you let the meaning of words become unmoored from their core meaning in Standard English, you are deep into the territory of the Slippery Slope and worse. Mr. Whittle did a wonderful illustration of how this works, on a Trifecta a few years back. If you have a “standard” as opposed to “basic” (but still paid) membership, I think it is, you can still watch it.

But I’m O/T there. The point is that ANY argument can, in my experience, be stretched to prove anything whatsoever, if you have just the teensiest bit of imagination. And Lefties are loaded with it, as long it informs them that their plans will work so well that they should just naturally have the final say.

Go, read — including the Comments, until you get bored: there are 288 of them so far, some meaty — and be Enlightened.

PS: Acts, no offense. That first line is my idea of humor. I do like your idea of putting 5 kg. of sugar in jail, though. Maybe it work to help me lose a little around the hips. :>)

When Law Becomes Subjective then the Rule of law is totally Fucked.

When I was an executive in the Crown Court, I had an oppo on my section, a CO name of Sam. He was a big strapping lad of Afro/ Caribbean extraction. He loved sports of all kinds, and was good at them. He beat me easily in the Crown Court Table tennis championship final, for instance. Christ you should have seen his forearm smash… which was the point, because mostly I didn’t.

Anyway, we were having an pint and reading the paper in the pub over the road one lunchtime. and he comes across an article about how racist Robinson’s jam was for putting Gollywogs on their labels. He was outraged. Not because he agreed that they were being racist, but because he thought it utter fuckin nonsense, and was all a white leftie slur.

He told me that he had collected the tokens as a kid and had sent off for all the enamel badges. He had the complete set. In fact he was very proud of them. Back in the late 70’s and early 80’s you see, you didn’t see many Black Tennis or Golf players, you had to wait a few years till Arthur Ash and Tiger Woods turned up for that, yet there they were represented by his Golly badges that he displayed with pride on his school uniform jacket, a spur to his aspirations.  He thought that calling them racist was nonsense on stilts.

Ah but that was then, we live in much more enlightened times now don’t we boys and girls?

When the Law descends to the point where the only criteria that can be taken into account in a case is the supposed offence caused to a supposed victim, rather than objective evidence that no offence was intended or even contemplated, then you know that English Common Law is well and truly fucked.

This case should never have even got to the Queezy  legal Tribunal stage without being thrown out. The fact that it is now being considered at the Court Of Appeal at great cost to us poor bleedin taxpayers, tells you all you need to know about the fuckin mess we’re in today.

So come on Denise Lindsay, do you feel lucky Punk? Fancy another easy payday do ya? You are a lying freeloading chancer, who deserves suing yourself. I’ll be hearing from your ambulance chasing lawyers soon will I ?

Neighbourhood Watch RoP Style

The dhimmification of Birmingham’s police force is on track.

Two brothers in law who went on a sponsored walk wearing comedy mankinis had to be picked up by police – after they were pelted with stones and eggs by residents who told them ‘this is a Muslim area’ and demanded they leave.

Yes, you read that right.  Two people who were going about their lawful business were prevented from doing so after coming under a cowardly attack.  They committed the crime of wearing silly swimwear on an English city street and walking their dogs for charity.

WTveryF?

Shome mishtake shurely?

This is Britain!  Things like that don’t happen!

But they do, don’t they.

Be accused of “islamophobia” and you can all too quickly become acquainted with the inside of a police cell.  Display overt racism Anglophobia by throwing stones, other missiles and verbal abuse at filthy kuffar innocent members of the indigenous public gets your law abiding victims removed from the area they were inno0cently passing through by the very agency that should have protected them by controlling a lawless mob – West Midlands Constabulary.

Your extorted jizyah taxes at work.

Steven Ellis, 41, and Jason Hendry, 22, wanted to walk eight miles from Solihull to Birmingham city centre wearing the outfit featured in 2006 film Borat to raise money for Birmingham Dogs’ Home.  But they ended up being escorted by officers after they were attacked as they passed through the Sparkbrook area of the city, claiming police said they had offended local Muslims during Ramadan.

Offending Muslims by pursuing a harmless and lawful enterprise during ramalamadingdong?

Is that a crime?

Hurling stones and racial abuse?

Isn’t that a crime?

They were driven through the area as locals hurled abuse at them – calling them paedophiles. Mr Ellis’s wife Victoria, 36, had followed the pair’s journey in a car, with the couple’s five young children.

Public order offences and hate crimes committed by a favoured and protected minority, thy instances are legion and thy law enforcement officers devoid of testicular body parts.

She said: ‘We were basically run out of the area. We had stopped at a supermarket car park to give the dogs a drink as it was a hot day, and we were suddenly surrounded.

The men were taking off their jackets and threatening to fight Jason. I have seen nothing like it in my life before. The children were terrified as within minutes a crowd of 30 or 40 men assembled.
‘They began throwing stones and eggs at us. They were shouting at Jason saying that he was a pervert and a paedophile, and one of them called me a dirty white s***.

‘They told us that they hated dogs and told us to get out of the car park. The children were petrified and asked why these people were calling me a s***.

‘One egg narrowly missed hitting my 12-year-old son, Jason, leaving him petrified and even passing cars ended up being hit by the eggs and stones. The abuse was appalling.

Menacing and threatening behaviour and incitement to commit violence.  Throwing missiles with intent to intimidate regardless of what injuries may occur.  Racist and sexist abuse.  A breach of the peace at the very least.  The arrests will come thick and fast as soon as the cops arrive at the scene.

Whoops!

‘We called the police and they came straight away. I asked the police what they were going to do to help us but they just said it was because of sensitivities over an EDL (English Defence League) march and Ramadan.

It wasn’t the Muslims.  It was the fault of the EDL.  Well of course it was!  Who else could possibly be blamed for Muslims behaving in a criminal fashion?  Certainly not the Muslims.

Face/palm interface.

Of all the police’s feeble excuses for ignoring criminal behaviour from RoPers this has got to be the most spineless one I’ve heard in some time.  Surely that’s the job of the left leaning, muslim apologists?

‘We didn’t even know there was an EDL march planned for that day – we had nothing to do with it. Our family just love dogs, we’ve homed a rescue dog and we wanted to raise money to help the charity.’

It shouldn’t have mattered.  Neither should the attire of the two men doing the walk for charity have mattered.

But local butcher Irshad Armani, 22, said: ‘It was disrespectful for the men to come here half-naked. This is a Muslim area and we don’t want to see that.

Then turn away and mind your own damned business you intolerant buffoon.  And WTF is a muslim area?  Since when did Sparkbrook relocate to Pakistan?  If I told a tabloid journalist  I live in a “white area” and then accused muslims passing through of “disrespect I’d be hauled before the local beak and charged with a hate crime faster than Irshad could howl “Islamophobia!”.

‘People were fasting and we do not want to see anything considered impure or dirty during such an important month. That is why people were so upset by it.’

So that gives muslims an excuse to intimidate and assault people does it?

Bullshit!

Islam does not put muslims above British law even if they think it does.  Islam does not make muslims special even if they think it does.  We don’t give a kippers dangly bits how offended muslims are by Brits doing lawful Brit things on Brit streets during ramalamadingdong.  Most certainly not when muslims do things like this and this on the streets of Britain in the name of their intolerant and hateful religion.  They turned being offended into a fascist industry.

Iqbal Khan, 25, a carpet shop owner, added: ‘They came here saying it was for charity, but what they were wearing barely covered their private parts.

Muslims do tend to get rather agitated when it comes to dress code, don’t they.  Suggest that burqas should be banned because many Europeans find them offensive and oppressive and all hell breaks loose.  Muslims seeing a couple of Brummies wearing swimming cozzies for charity and, you’ve guessed it, all hell breaks loose.

‘We see people come and go doing charity around here – black, white, Asian – but it is not appropriate to do it in a bad way, dressed as they were, especially when this is mainly an Asian and Pakistani area.’

Black, white, Asian?  So Asian is a colour now is it?  As a point of interest how many Asians of Chinese or South East Asian extraction were part of the Sparkbrook Massive?  And where the hell does Iqbal Khan and his ilk get off telling people how they should dress when they don’t like the same authoritarian pointy stick thrust up them?

Mr Hendry said: ‘A man who was in a nearby hairdresser came over and started having a go at us and then a guard at the supermarket and the manager came out and joined in.

I take it we’re not talking Morrisons, Tesco or Asda here…

‘It was disgusting behaviour. I was furious. I was angry with the local people for how they reacted and we tried to explain it was just a bit of fun, to raise money for charity.’

You’d get more sense out of a brick wall than try to reason with minds deeply entombed in a psychotic religious cult straight out of the Middle Ages Middle East and unpolluted by enlightenment.

The police escorted them all back to Birmingham Dogs’ Home because there were two groups of men waiting at the end of the road.

Because religious mob rule on the streets of Birmingham isn’t in the politically correct public interest to stamp out.  Unless it is a mob of one Bible thumper handing out leaflets about how gay sex is sinful.

He added: ‘But it was also frustrating to have to be escorted as it made us feel like we had done something wrong. I am shocked and disgusted that this should happen in our city.

A shame West Midlands Constabulary don’t feel the same way.  They should be scammelling embarrassed at being so useless.

‘It was like something you see on TV. The idea behind the mankini walk started off as a dare and then we decided to make it a reality and do it to raise money for charity.’

‘We have a love and passion for dogs and we both wanted to do it to raise money for Birmingham Dogs’ Home.’

Mrs Hendry added: ‘I grew up to respect people irrespective of colour or creed as have my children. But this was totally appalling and has made me so angry that this should happen during an event to help a charity.’

Unfortunately Mrs Hendry and her group broke a cardinal rule – you cannot offend or disrespect muslims.  Ever.

However Raja Ahmad, 46, a local shopkeeper, said: ‘The men were partially dressed and it’s not really appreciated around here by the Asian or the English community.

So how many white faces were part of the Sparkbrook Massive then?  Or on the streets hurling abuse as their victims were driven away under police escort?

‘The police moved them on and they said they were covering their modesty but it upset a lot of people in the community.’

Diddums.  Grow up and get over yourselves.  Your regressive religion and aggressive arrogance makes me want to vomit like Mr. Creosote.

A West Midlands Police spokesman said: ‘Police were called to reports of tensions on Stratford Road in Sparkhill at around 2:50pm on July 20 due to a group of men wearing fancy dress whilst on a charity walk.

‘Officers attended and worked closely with those at the scene to resolve the situation peacefully in order to ensure no unnecessary or unintended upset was caused.

Resolved the situation by appeasing the aggressors.  West Midlands Constabulary thy name is dhimmi.

‘Police left the area around 25 minutes later and there were no further calls to the location.’

Because arresting muslims for criminal behaviour is racist and likely to cause unnecessary and unintended upset to religious bigots who recognise no law but sharia?

So West Midlands police punish the victims instead by restricting their freedom to walk certain public streets.

You useless, lazy bastards!

Today’s Quote — 7/3/13

[You capture] the ambivalence of liberty–not easy, not for everyone, not an institution to take for granted.

–Commenter Dave Conley, in response to a comment about the story ‘Canada in landmark move to strike out “hate speech” law’ at

http://www.thecommentator.com/article/3878/canada_in_landmark_move_to_strike_out_hate_speech_law

H/T, RAB.

Attenbore Redux

According to arch-misanthrope David Attenborough, humans are a plague on earth.  This claim is nothing new of course and I’ve sailed on his sea of Malthusian sewage before .  The fact that Telegraph Environment Correspondent, Louise Gray, is cheerleading for him is no great surprise either.

The television presenter said that humans are threatening their own existence and that of other species by using up the world’s resources.

But let’s not mention that Attenbore uses up those very same vital resources jetting himself and camera crews all over the world to make smug wildlife documentaries to prove his point.  All at human virus TV licence payer expense, of course.

He said the only way to save the planet from famine and species extinction is to limit human population growth.

The planet is in famine?  Really?  So why is food being turned into biofuel?

There is species extinction?  Hardly surprising since rainforests are being felled in order to create palm oil plantations to salve greenie guilt over people wanting to keep warm and lead productive lives.

We must limit human population?  Attenbore’s wish is made real because biofuel production is leading the way.

It’s not population growth that’s the problem.  It’s the growth in greenie corporatism, authoritarian stupidity and greed.

“We are a plague on the Earth. It’s coming home to roost over the next 50 years or so. It’s not just climate change; it’s sheer space, places to grow food for this enormous horde. Either we limit our population growth or the natural world will do it for us, and the natural world is doing it for us right now,” he told the Radio Times.

The Radio Times?  That world renown journal of scientific endeavour?  Well I’m convinced.

Just kidding.

I see that Attenbore has reset his personal doomsday clock – again.  The timetable for impending population doom has been de-escalated from thirty years to fifty.  As for the natural world seeing people off, it’s been doing that since people first evolved.  Nature isn’t vengeful.  It isn’t a thinking entity that targets a single species it dislikes.  Apparently Attenbore believes it is.  What a plonker!

Sir David, who is a patron of the Optimum Population Trust, has spoken out before about the “frightening explosion in human numbers” and the need for investment in sex education and other voluntary means of limiting population in developing countries.

Only in developing countries?  Why pick on them?  I mean, don’t they have enough population reduction to contend with, what with palm oil plantations displacing whole communities nature going postal on their malnourished brown bums?  I note that Attenbore limits the educational investment to family planning.   God forefend that we educate these people to a standard where they can enjoy the benefits of technology and wealth – both of which have drastically reduced the birthrate in developed countries.  To be honest, the only “frightening explosion in human numbers” I’m worried about is the overabundance of people-hating cretins like Attenbore.  In patriarchal China, where population control was limited to one child per family, a “voluntary” means of limiting population led to the abandonment and death of an untold number of female babies.  And he endorses this?

“We keep putting on programmes about famine in Ethiopia; that’s what’s happening. Too many people there. They can’t support themselves — and it’s not an inhuman thing to say. It’s the case. Until humanity manages to sort itself out and get a coordinated view about the planet it’s going to get worse and worse.”

Don’t worry, Dave.  The Ethiopian government and Somali militia are doing their best to reduce the population.  Mostly the part that opposes them but I guess you have to start somewhere.

Sir David, whose landmark series are repeated from Monday on BBC2, starting with Life on Earth, has also spoken out about the change in wildlife documentaries during his lifetime.

The 86-year-old said commentary from presenters like himself are becoming less necessary as camera work is able to tell a story.

But not the whole story, eh Dave?

“I’m not sure there’s any need for a new Attenborough,” he said. “The more you go on, the less you need people standing between you and the animal and the camera waving their arms about.

That goes double for Attenbores who wave their arms about while ranting on about how many human lives should be snuffed out in order to preserve the Attenbore’s comfortable existence world resources.

“It’s much cheaper to get someone in front of a camera describing animal behaviour than actually showing you [the behaviour]. That takes a much longer time. But the kind of carefully tailored programmes in which you really work at the commentary, you really match pictures to words, is a bit out of fashion now … regarded as old hat.”

Well I can honestly say I’ve had more than enough of your carefully tailored, anti-human crap, Dave.  Time to give it a rest, methinks.

Roman law, modern law and “Feudal” law – a hint as to what that wild madman Paul Marks is on about.

I am no legal expert (“we have noticed Paul”), but I do want to give an hint about what I am on about when I mention the words “Feudal law” or Roman law or modern law – it if be wrong….. well see later for my “get out of jail” card on that.

Before I say anything more I had better state that one can have serfdom without feudalism (for example the Emperor Diocletian established de facto serfdom by declaring that peasants could not leave the land – and many other legal systems had done this before him) and one can have feudalism without serfdom (places like Sark, feudal to only a couple of years ago, were not known for serfdom).

“Feudalism” is (if it is anything – other than just a word) a system where people swear loyality (they make an active choice) it is a MILITARY thing at base, and “feudal” law is about (fundementally) such blood contracts (after all one is swearing to defend someone to the death – one’s own death, and the other side of this contract, the obligations of one’s lord, has to be fundemental also) are based on tradition and custom – made into formal law. That is why (by the way) “Feudal” law can be different in different places – different old customs and traditions.

“Feudal” law can not, logically, be anything else (than old customs and traditions presented as formal law). as if this law can be changed by “the Prince” (either a Roman Emperor or a modern “legislature”) then they can not be part of a contract – as they are, effectively, “above the law” (because the can change it whenever they feel like doing so).

One swears to defend one’s lord to the death and he (or she – for a fedual overlord can be female) swears to unhold the law (as, for example, Henry the First of England did in his formal charter of 1100 – in order to get the people to rally to him against his older brothers) – if the “the law” is simply whatever they say it is (as with a Roman Emperor or a modern Parliament or other legislature) then this is not Feudalism – any more than the “my honour is loyality” of the SS was the warrior code of Northman (indeed, as Tolkien noted, to pretend that there is no difference between honour and loyality – and to hold that loyality is unconditional, i.e. that one will do dishonorable things if ordered to do so, is a direct and deliberate MOCKERY of the traditional honour code). One swears to to defend one’s lord to the death (one’s own death) in return not for “protection” (that is a Roman view of law – or a modern one – after all if one is promising to shed one’s life’s blood for someone else personal protection is not the main thing in play), but for JUSTICE for the upholding of tradition and custom. Seen as a manifestation in this world of divine and universal justice (different in details from place to place – but not in fundemenal PRINCIPLE and, for the same reason, not changing fundemenally over time). This is why the oath is a sacred thing – based on the creator of the universe and the natural law itself.

“All theory Paul – what does this mean in PRACTICE?”

Very well.

First for Roman law (i.e. late Roman law – the law of the Empire). For this I will turn to “Justinian’s Institutes” (Cornell University Press 1987). By the way this is only a tiny part of Roman law of the time – there were many volumes of the writings of previous law officers and the legislation of Emperors (actually the truth of the so called “Code of Justinian” is that most of it is not from Justinian and it is not a code, the “Twelve Tables” back in 450 B.C. may or may not have been a code, but the endless rules and regulations that Romans lived under more than a thousand years later certainly were not a code).

In this work it is stated (Book Two, section one “The Classification of Things”) that neither the seashore or rivers can be privately owned.

So no private beaches under Roman law – and no protected fishing (or protection of water supply from rivers) either.

Anyone may fish where they like – and no private person or association (what Romans would call a “collegia” – spelling alert) may restrict water supply by stating that it is private (they can do that with a well – but not with a river).

In the modern age such thing as Spanish law (that holds that no river is private) and even supposedly Common Law New Zealand (where the last Labour party government nationalized the sea shore) follow the idea that neither rivers or the sea shore (the beaches) can be private property.

It is very different under Feudal law – the notion of “private property” may not be formally stated (that depends on the exact type of “Feudal” law we are talking about – for example it was stated under the law of Norway) the King (as lord of lords) may (or may not) formally “own” everthing – but he certainly can not BEHAVE as if he does (more on that later).

And rivers and beaches can be de facto owned under Feudal law.

For example under Scots law (inherited from their local version of feudal law) right up to 1845, if you wanted to sell something you gave a public display of what it was – remember most people could not read.

And if you wanted to sell private fishing rights (something that can not exist under Roman law) you, as well making a speech before witnesses (plus anyone who wanted to turn up to the river to watch the former owner of the fishing rights sell them to someone else) you handed over a fish.

For land it was some earth (on the site you were selling – again before witnesses), for the hunting rights of birds it was a bird (again….) and so on.

Also under Roman law the owner of a transport service (say someone who makes their living with a couch or carts) or the owner of an inn (or other establishment of business) could not turn away a customer – could not “discriminate” against them (to use modern language) as the owner of a transport service was a “common carrier” and the owner of an inn provided “public accomidations”.

Feudal law does not even know what “common carriers” and “public accomidations” are.

If you owned a cart (or some such) you could transport people or goods. And if you owned a building you could put people up (in return for payment).

But you did not have to do so – if you did not want to.

Owning a cart did not make you part of a special caste that served the state (indeed the term “state” does not really fit into feudal thinking – it is a Roman term or a modern term).

Ditto if you owned a building and put people (if you had a mind to) in return for money, that did not mean you were a special sort of animal called a “public accomidations” person serving the needs of the state (whatever “the state” is supposed to be).

But all the above misses the point anyway……..

As the point is – if Justinian (or some other Emperor) had decided (on a whim) to change the above “legal principles” they could (they were above the law – and could make the law whatever their WILL wished it to be).

If a feudal overlord said one day “I have decided to change the law – after all the law is whatever I say it is”. People would have thought they had gone mad – they might even have called a priest to fight against the demon or devil that had taken over the mind of their lord.

Of course one would fight to the death to save the life of one’s lord – but the lord had no rightful power to “change the law”. After all that would mean a power to overthrow custom and tradition – the manifestation in the land (the spirit of the land) of the law of God, the natural law of the universe. This might manifest itself differently in different lands (depending on the customs and traditions of that land and people), but the fundemental principles of the law were divine and universal.

Of course Roman legal thinkers (like Greek Stoics and Aristotelians before them) also accepted the existance of natural law – but they held that state law trumped it.

“Feudal” thinking (when understood the concept of “the state” at all – which it did not really) held the exact opposite.

The King might give orders in battle and war (and so on) – but if his orders went against the law, they were void (at least to a man of honour). That is why “the spirit of Nurenberg” (“I was only obeying orders”) might be fine from a Roman point of view – but does not make any sense from a “feudal” one.

The lord may call upon you to fight to the death – indeed he should not have to call (you should do that without him asking). But he may not order you to rob or murder someone else – to commit an injustice.

Of course terrible injustices (mass murder, rape and so on) might still occur. But if someone said “what I did was lawful because the Prince (or council or….) told me to it” then they simply showed (even to a person with no learning at all) that they simply did not understand what the words “right” and “law” meant – and were, at best, insane.

Canon Law (church law – and it is impossible to understand “feudal” law without understanding the influence of religion upon it – whether Christian or PAGAN) held the same view – see Brian Tierney’s “The Idea of Natual Rights” (Emery University 1997).

Like Roman Law, Canon Law held that there was positive law (the commands of the Prince – of council in a Republic like Venice) and natural law.

But (like “feudal” thinking) it turned the Roman law thinking on its head.

Far from “positive” law trumping natural law – natural law trumped the “will of the ruler”.

Hence more than a thousand years of Church-State disputes (or disputes between Canon Lawyers and Roman Lawyers – in spite of them, in many ways, shareing the same tradition) they looked at things in reverse ways.

“That was just because the Church wanted to declare what natural law was – as a power grab”

Partly YES – but the Church always made a distinction between Christian practices (the rules of the Church) and the universal laws of God – that applied to nonChristians as much as to Christians (indeed even to nonChristians AGAINST Christians).

Of course some Popes and so on were corrupt scumbags guilty of every crime known to man – but some were not, and even the worst of them held that there were things they should not do (even if they did them) the idea that their WILL was law, would have been denounced as the vomit of the Devil (even by the worst Popes.

Canon lawyers (like “Feudal” ones) would have regarded the pretensions of modern Parliaments (and “human rights” courts) to change fundemental law as they see fit – as, at best, insanity and (more likely) as clear evidence that these “legislatures” and “judges” were agents of the Evil One.

And one must not think that such people were stupid or filled with silly fancies. Many of the Popes and theologians of the past were profound legal thinkers and philosophers – not every Pope spent their time chasing girls and murdering rivals (and even the oness that did often did good work also).

Still back to “Feudal” law – and a single example to come to the end of this post……

I draw from “A Summery view of the feudal law, with the differences of the Scots law from it; together with a dictionary of the select terms of the Scots and English law, by way of appendix” (John Dundas 1710).

As a general rule of thumb – the older an account of “feudal” law the better. As old accounts are more concerned with just laying the thing out – not (like Maitland and his, Blackstone influenced [no wonder the Founding Fathers of the United States despised Blackstone - with his doctrine that whatever Parliament declared was law], crew “explaining” what law “must” be i.e. whatever the state, Parliament, says it is).

Difference number 80.

“By the Feudal law no Man is forced to part with or sell his Few [fief of land] or any part of it.

By our law [i.e. law made by Parliament and so on] a vassel may be forced to give some part of it for High-ways and if his Neighbour be building a Park, or Inclosure, he may be forced to sell an adjacent corner of his Grounds to him, to perfect it”.

This is much like the so called “Edict of Quierzy” (877) which repeated the “old right” that not even a King of France could take the land of one person and give it to another (or himself).

To a Roman lawyer this makes no sense.

To a modern lawyer (such as that scumbag Maitland – and I am right to call him a “scumbag” after all he claims that no Act of Parliament “has ever been passed” that was irational or evil, so there is no need for any judge or jury to oppose an Act of Parliament as being against natural justice, a concept he scorns anyway – I could name a hundred Acts of Parliament passed before Maitland wrote that Devil-vomit lie, that were utterly evil and against basic natural justice) it makes no sense also.

As Maitland says, mocking the upholders of the “speculative dogma” of natural justice “We can  (its upholders seem to say) concieve that a statute might be so irational,  so wicked, that we would not want to enforce it; but as a matter of fact, we have never known such a statute made.”

Pages 107-108  “A Sketch of English Legal History” G.P. Putnam and Sons, New York and London (1915) chapter five (written by Maitland rather than his coarthor Francis Montague) on “Statute and Common Law”.

Oh you dog Maitland,  you pig  – may you be burning, even as I type these words,  for your lies. What of the Statute of Labourers that tried to reduce all peasants (including those who had always been free – such as the people of Kent) to serfs? Much in the manner of the Emperor Diocletian. Or the Stature of Artificers under the first Elizabeth that tried to turn all people (bar the rich) into de facto slaves – forbidden to practice any other trade than that of their father, and forbidden to leave the parish of their birth?  What of the “Black Act” (passed as late as the 1700s) that punished some two hundred crimes (some quite minor) with death?

What of so many other Acts of Parliament – both so irational and so wicked that no one (other than a monster) would uphold them?

However,  I hope the idea of law as trying (in the circumstances of  time and place) to give effect to the principles of jusice (NOT the WILL of the ruler or rulers – in the mannor of the late Roman Empire or of Thomas Hobbes and his “Legal Positivists” with their Hell vomit doctrine that whatever the “legistlature” declares is law)  makes a some sense to libertarians.

As for my errors – no doubt many and terrible……

I offer the words of John Dundas.

“If this Treatise should happen to be less correct, the Reader would be pleased to give himself the trouble to mend the Errors, and excuse what is amiss, this Book being given to be printed by a certain person when the Author was our of Town, and knew nothing of the publishing of it, not having designed so soon to send it abroad into the world.”

It’s shite being Scottish…

I was born in Newcastle. It is spitting distance from Scotland (or to put it more reasonably closer to Edinburgh than to Leeds or Manchester). And before any fucker starts we gave the World the Stephensons and the Lit and Phil (membership is from about 50 quid a year). It’s the largest independent library in the UK outside of London. It’s not just Geordie Shore up there you know. Though we also gave the World Viz. Tits oot for the lads!. I love Viz. I suspect regular readers know it was like Mother’s Milk to moi.

This is though is nonsense…

The First Minister cited repeated examples of the SNP overcoming adversity and argued the party would triumph again because of its political opponents moving to the Right.

That would be the Tories who are the Right the same way I am from Alpha Centauri. If they truly want “independence within the EU” then so fucking what? I would prefer the Union stayed in place but if the eaters of deep-fried pies want the right not to eat said pies (see Nicola Sturgeon – let them eat caviar!) then fuck ‘em. England shall survive. We always have. Since the days of the Egg-Kings.

Oddly enough I have a GBP20 in my pocket. It has Adam Smith on the reverse. Just saying…

He said Labour had moved onto the Tories’ political ground by promising to review the cost of a series of ‘free’ benefits introduced since devolution such as personal care for the elderly and tuition fees.

Meanwhile, he said the Conservatives had descended into “extremism” after they published official figures showing only 12 per cent of Scottish households contribute more in tax than they receive in public services.

Note even The Telegraph puts scare quotes over ‘free’. And this is the Conservative government that has viciously cut spending by er… increasing it.

We are the Union. If North of Hadrian’s Wall they want to descend into mysticism and tyranny so be it. But I won’t be happy and neither will the average Glaswegian.

We are this:

We are legion. Ask the Germans. The Union gave those fuckers a profound and well deserved cunting so they behaved and made nice cars and never invaded Poland again – apart from to buy cheap and good beer – better in the Czech Republic, mind. We burnt an Empire to save the World. Sort of. But we did. We gave a large chunk of it to a lawyer in a nappy. Seriously. I have been to the Civil rights Museum in Atlanta, GA and they had all sorts of stuff from MLK. They had his bible and typewriter and his empty bottles of aftershave (odd!) and his Levi’s denim jacket (exactly the same as the Levi’s denim jacket I was wearing at the time – spookie!) and more. And they also had via reciprocal agreement Ghandi’s personal stuff. A nappy, a pair of specs and a stick. It was weird. MLK was shot five years before I was born but his stuff was like stuff I had. Aramis was his favoured brand – my Mum used to buy me that. Ghandi’s was exactly the sort of stuff I would expect for the Jimmy Saville of human rights.

If Mr Salmond has found a Magic Money Tree (Pecunia arbor?) then can I have a cutting. Can RAB, can Cats, or Single Acts or Lynne or Julie or the bloke down the road? And if Mr Salmond has a cow for sale I have some magic beans (well they turned up all tinned and all at Sainsburys as if by magic – invisible hand and all that or farmers, truckers, shelf-stackers, logistics managers etc.)

The terrible year of 1986.

A post on an often overlooked year – 1986. A year in which events occured that had (and are having) terrible consequences.

A British person when hearing of the date “1986″  will think (if they think of anything) of the “Single European Act” – formally it came into effect in 1987, but the agreement was made in 1986. Mrs Thatcher was told that the agreement with the European Economic Community (as some still called it at the time) would lead to free trade, an open market, and was, therefore a good thing for a free market person to agree to.

Of course Mrs Thatcher’s information came from officials – note to all politcians, the moment you start to rely on official information (and interpretations) you are lost. For you are no longer really in power – the officials are.

This is not hidesight – I remember as a university undergraduate knowing what the Single European Act was really about, and my friends all knew as well. We all knew that it meant that the EEC (EC – now EU) would be able to impose any regulation it liked in vast areas of life (the British veto having gone  – in these areas) and under vague words like “health” the Euros would be able to crush liberty in this land. The later works of such people Christopher Booker and Richard North just confirmed what we expected to happen. Lord Denning (and many others) had predicted the crushing of Common Law principles by Euro edicts (of course happily extended by British officials – overjoyed to have all restraints on their power destroyed by the Single European Act) at the time.

It was not an open market – it was a “single market” (a very different thing). In an open market customers decide what they want to buy – in a single market officials decide what customers should buy.

However, other terrible things happened in the year 1986.

The other great evil to hit Britain in 1986 was the “Big Bang” in the City of the London – the financial centre.

“But that was deregulation Paul” – it was deregulation, if by “deregulation” you mean government intervention ripping up the rules of private clubs and subtituting its own rules – a government definition of a “free market” defined not by what people had actually evolved over time (by voluntary interaction), but by following the “perfect competition” model from neoclassical economics text books.

There is some evidence that even the people who originally thought up the perfect competition conception only thought of it as theorectical tool (not as a picture of how the world was – or should be), and certainly the Austrian School of economics disputes the concept from start to finish – but the government went ahead anyway. It knew what a market “should” be – and if the people who actually built the markets thought differently, they must be wrong.

Remember although the London stock exchange was created in 1801, there was no law preventing anyone setting up a rival stock market (not before 1986 anyway). And also no law preventing people buying and selling shares “off exchange”. So the City of London (with all its guild like “restrictive practices”) was actually a voluntary institution. In fact a series of private clubs – covering the selling stocks and shares, insurance, commodities (and so on).

What had “deregulation” actually brought? The end of the great partnerships that created the City (the investment banks) – the partners sold up and ran away (not exactly a vote of confidence in the new order – from people some of whom had been in the City for generations). And the self employed stock brokers (who bought shares for the public) and stock jobbers (who sold shares for companies) were replaced by enterprises that did both (no conflict of interest there) and whose employees tended to have no lasting relationship with clients (they see them as cash cows – no more). And, of course, thousands of pages of government regulations (Financial Services Acts – and agencies to enforce them) with endless box ticking.

Somehow this not really seem like “deregulation” to me – in fact I think it will be the death of the City of London. But only time will tell.

Turning to the United States….

An American will say “1986 is that the year the Republicans lost control of the United States Senate?” – yes it was, but I am not concerned with party politics here. I am concerned with policy.

In 1986 an amnesty Act was passed by the Congress (including the Republican Senate) and signed into law by President Reagan. It was not descibed as an amnesty Act of course – the people who voted for it (and Reagan when he signed it) thought they were “controlling immigration” from this point onwards – and (to start from a clean slate) people who had been in the country a long time (and were nice and good – and had puppy dogs with big eyes) would no longer fear being dragged from their homes by evil jack booted thugs from the government. After all this was how officials (and the media – following academia) explained everything to the politicians, just as they had during the 1965 immigration law debate – which first messed up American immigration law.

“But what is wrong with this Paul – free migration, sounds very libertarian”. So it might be – had the Supreme Court (5-4 some years before 1986) not ruled that government (local, State and Federal) had to give “free” (i.e. paid for by taxpayers) education and other benefits to illegal immigrants – otherwise it was “discriminating” against them.

And the few nice illegals (the ones with the puppy dogs with big eyes – the people who love America dearly and do not wave the Mexican flag and pray for the destruction of the United States, not even slightly) who got amnesty? There turned out to be three million of them and (of course) many more millions of illegals followed them into the United States, believeing that they would eventually also get amnesty. As Comrade Barack is doing by Executive Order right now, after all the illegals vote for him even though they are not citizens, thanks to the “Motor Voter” (a driving license is enough to vote) Act he supported as a Senator.

“We should try to win their support Paul” – a person (regardless of ethnic background) who loves the United States can enter legally right now (join the military – serve your term, and you have citizenship). Yes the American immigration system is a mess (and has been since at least 1965 – the Teddy Kennedy Act), but 1986 made it worse – and made it farcical.  Someone who believes the United States unjustly took land from Mexico in 1848 (ignoring the fact that the Mexican government, a military dictatorship,  also wanted war – and had its own expansionist plans) are not likely to vote for people who do not hate the United States. Odd that they are so eager to vote for Barack Obama – of course not odd at all. But have “free migration” as long as there are no government benefits (“free” education for the children and so on) – except, oh dear, there is that Supreme Court judgement  (see above) of some 30 years ago.

Lastly there is the another major Act of Congress from 1986 – one that may help to destroy civilisation, and not just in the United States.

Again neither the people in Congress or President Reagan understood what they were supporting (the officials, media, and academia – advised them again). They thought they were supporting an Act that prevented evil hospitals throwing women on to the street in the middle of giving birth (seriously – that is how the Act was presented to them, after all it is so wonderful for the reputation of a hospital to throw a women who is the middle of giving birth on to the street, they were doing it all the time……).

What did the Act really do?

It made “emergency” treatment (without proof of payment) compulsory at all private hospitals with an ER (formally a hospital was not covered by the Act if it in no way had anything to do with government schemes – in the age of Medicare try and avoid any involvement with government schemes…..).

Wonderful – free treatment for the poor (indeed for anyone – one might try and chase them up afterwards, but about half of them never pay so what is the point….). Accept someone has to pay to pay for all this “free” treatment – so the bill (as with all government mandates) got passed on to the people who were paying their bills. The people who had carried on with private insurance in spite of the previous government interventions – such as Medicare and Medicaid (which has the same effect on health cover costs as government backing for student loans had on college tuition fees – they sent costs into the upper atmosphere) and the endless regulations (insurance mandates and so on) that have so increased costs. No surprise – insurance bills (that now carry all the “free” treatment) have exploded since 1986.

American government (State and Federal) interventions have been pushing up the cost of healthcare since doctor licensing spread from State to State like a plague (that this is about “protecting the sick” was exposed as a lie by Milton Friedman – more than half a century ago, it really has the same purpose as lawyer licensing, to increase producer incomes by keeping people out of the market) and the FDA (this agency was made even worse in 1962 – turning the development of new medical drugs incredibly expensive and delaying their introduction for years, thus costing tens of thousands of human lives). However, it was the Act of 1986 that really sent American health cover into a death spiral – that pushed the costs of insurance (for the old mutual aid “fraternal” system had long been undermined) beyond the reach of ordinary people.

Most people still oppose “Obamacare” (which will complete the destruction of independent health care in the United States – replaceing it with crony capitalist “private providers” who will depend upon the government – till the government decides to get rid of the crony capitalists, as it already has with the providers of government backed student loans), but the majority of people that are opposed was not a big enough majority to stop it (let alone repeal it). After all  everyone agrees that “something must be done” and the “something” is always even more collectivism – “free” health care for all “children” up to the age of 26 (SCHIP on steroids – but paid for by the insurance companies, i.e. by their customers) no “denial” (i.e. honest priceing) of medical cover for “pre exiting conditions” and on and on – the honest insurance companies (oh yes there are some) will be bankrupted over time, and only the cronies (those in bed with the government – hoping to become “private providers” for government funded health cover) will remain. Already more and more employers are dropping health insurance for their employees – as they have worked out that the fines will be cheaper than paying the inflated (inflated by Obamacare regulations) costs of medical insurance.

Does anyone really believe that Mitt “Romneycare” Romney is going to be willing or able to repeal all this?

So American health care will fall – and more than this will fall. For this entitlement program is added to all the existing entitlements – the ones that are already bankrupting the United States.

So the United States will go into de facto bankruptcy. And it will not fall alone – most other major Western nations stand on the knife edge of economic collapse already. The fall of the United States will drag us over the cliff with it.

So, overall, 1986 was not a good year. It may even lead to the “Progressive” dream (of Richard Ely, mentor of  “Teddy” Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, more than a century ago) of the desruction of “selfish capitalism”. For the history of the last century (including 1986) has not been an accident – and nor has it been some hole-in-the-wall “conspiracy”.  On the contrary it has been out in the open  – for those who bothered to look.

The Progressives were open in their aims – and even in their means. They openly said in their books (the century old books that, for example, Glenn Beck tried to bring to public attention) that they would use schools, universities and the newspapers to fundementally transform society – by manipulating opinion (both public and political elite opinion). Truth does not matter to the Progressives (it has never mattered to them) only their cause matters – and they will use any lie and distortion to further their cause – the cause of the destruction of existing society, of “selfish capitalism”. The Fabians in Britain had much the same aims – and used much the same methods. Including the desire to dominate education – not just at university level, but at school level (via text books and “teacher training” – step forward Comrade Bill Ayers and “social justice” education).

The books are more subtle today – such books as “Looking Backward”, “Philip Dru: Administrator” and “New Deal” (oh yes there was such a book) were a lot more blatent in their love of tyranny and hatred of freedom (sorry hated of selfish capitalism) than “Freakonomics”,  “Nudge” and “Thinking – Fast and Slow”, but they have the same message. The message is as follows …. most people are vermin (“Homer Simpson” types) they are bound to be maniputed by someone (most likely by greedy capitalists) so why should not the noble we (the enlightened elite) manipulate them – for their own good. “Thinking Fast and Slow” is the most fundemental of the lot – it openly denies that people (apart from, nudge and wink, the noble author and his noble readers) are human beings, they do not really think (they do not really have free will) so someone must control them – for their own good……. Yes it is “So You Think That You Think” the fictional collectivist book (aimed at making people accept that they are vermin – fit only to be controlled by an enlightened elite) that Ayn Rand makes up in her novel “Atlas Shrugged” back in the 1950s (the collectivists never really change – and their “science” is actually as old as Plato).

“But Paul – how do you know the authors of Freakonmics and Nudge share the idealogy of the author of Thinking – Fast and Slow?” Errr  – the praise they give the latter work (on its front and back cover – and when interviewed) is a little hint. I did tell you that this was not a hole-in-the-wall conspiracy – it is quite open, if you look. What more do you want – for the evil elite to have glowing red eyes and tenticles? Sorry, but they look like ordinary folk – and have gentle voices full of charming wit (whereas their enemies, people like me, sound like old storm crows).

The Progressives may not share the doctrines of the Marxists (although modern Frankfurt School “cultural” Marxists do not seem to make a big thing of the actual doctrines of Karl Marx either) – but they share their aim (the destruction of selfish capitalism). Ditto the alliance with the Black Flag people (the so called “anarchists” who happily cooperate with the Red Flag Marxists in such things as the international “Occupy” movement and the unions the collectivists control, for you see the Black Flag “anarchists” do not really oppose collectivism, they just want to rename the state “the people” and then get on with the looting and killing) – the Progressives may (privately) sneer and their uncouth allies – but leading Progressives (such as Mr George Soros and the other rich people who fund such things as the “Tides Foundation”) still fund them. And Progressive teachers and college Profs understand that both the Red Flag Marxists and the Black Flag “anarchists” are allies – allies against “selfish capitalism”, the old world they must destroy in order to build their perfect world.

Of course I am a reactionary – I do not believe that the interventions (the ever higher government spending and ever greater regulations) make the world a better place. And many of the Progressives do not believe that either – they believe (along with the Marxists who follow the “Cloward and Piven” doctrine and others) that the ever greater statism will destroy the present world – and, thus, (in their minds) leave things open for the building of the perfect world.

The “Fabian Window” (perhaps the most blatent example of evil turned into a work of art – and the Fabians were natural allies of the Progressives) makes this clear – wolves in sheep’s clothing, trickery and lies (openly praised), the world held over a fire and beaten with hammers (in order to create a better world – regardless of the human cost). George Bernard Shaw and H. G. Wells openly talked of the tens of millions of human beings they wished to kill (not because they hated them “I do not hate anyone” said Shaw), but simply because they were in the way – in the way of creating the perfect world (the Heaven on Earth). And these evil people remain “liberal” heros to this day – ever seen a television show or a Hollywood film where they are shown as “bad guys”?. And, of course, they went on to support the Soviet Union – with Mr and Mrs Webb pretending that tens of millions of people were not being murdered (remember lying is O.K. if it is for the Progressive cause). Mrs Webb had some doubts, over the mass killings in Poland when the Soviets invaded in 1939 – you know when they were the allies of Adolf Hitler, but Mr Webb simply told her that “in a century no one will even remember this”. All was justified to build the “New Civilisation”.

And the American Progressives were the same. With Hollywood personalities busy doing such things as justifying the Soviet invasion of Finland – “I have been there and it seemed a little Fascist Republic to me” said Lillian Hellman (wife of  Dashiell Hammett [1929 "Red Harvest" evil capitalist America "Poisonville"] – together they made the prototype “celeb” Progressive power couple, both in Hollywood and in literary circles). One could always tell when Hellman was lying – her lips moved, not only was Finland not Fascist but Hellman had not been there.

One could go on and on – and people may already be bored (although in 1986  – and 2012 the Progressive celebs are just as powerful in cultural circles). And there is the standard defence (made by “anti McCarthyites”, even though Joe was actually interested in Communist agents of influence in the government not in the culture,  since the 1940s) “they are not Marxists”.  And they may not be – they may not have read a page of “Das Kapital” . The “Progressives” just share the objectives of the Marxists – the extermination of the existing society of  “selfish capitalism” (and anyone who defends it – rich or poor “henchman of the capitalists”), and the building of the wonderful new perfect world.

However, I am such a reactionary that I not only believe that that their interventionism (their ever higher government spending and ever more regulations) makes the world worse (not better) than it otherwise would be -  I also believe that their wonderful new perfect world (the one they dream of creating on the ashes of the existing world) would be Hell on Earth.

Question time ~ where are you politically?

Confession; back in the dim and distant days of my youth, when politics was something I first became aware of, I was a socialist.  I quite happily believed that the state should organise society ‘fairly’ and coercive taxation was absolutely fine to that end.

 

To be fair, I was just finishing my time in a state comprehensive gulag where obedience to the state and authority was inculcated with North Korean vigour.  We were taught straight lies such as how FDR’s wise statist policies helped bring about an end to the depression and any independent thinking or action was beaten out of you by a sadistic deputy head.  Combine that with the ever-admirable BBC being the only easily available news source pre-internet and satellite TV days and my youthful stupidity and it’s not too surprising perhaps.

 

Francois Guisot is attributed with the original version of “If you are not a socialist when you are twenty you have no heart, but if you are still one at thirty you have no brain”

 

Anyway, by the time I had arrived at my early twenties, I was beginning to notice that despite all the flowery prose, I couldn’t quite seem to find a society which was successful and a shining example of what socialism could deliver.  The East Europeans were just vile and even the Swedes seemed to have taxes at such a level as to make any kind of independent life tricky.  So being confronted by evidence, I concluded that if I wasn’t a socialist I must be a conservative right?  Certainly the low-tax rhetoric and limited intervention seemed to make more sense if we wanted to get rich as a nation and by the mid to late 1980’s despite the Beeb doing it’s best to ignore or obfuscate matters, it was clear that the Thatcher experiment was economically more successful than anything in Eastern Europe. 

 

It was kind of uncomfortable, realising I was something that I had been taught to hate, but the rationalist inside me was not suppressed despite all the propaganda.  As I looked at the economics more and more I began to think I was a really right wing conservative believing in lower and lower taxation and fewer and fewer rules.  Even under Thatcher and later Major I thought taxes were way too high and the petty meddlesome nonsense was simply government by personal preference (which of course it was). 

 

On discovering Ayn Rand I began to see conventional politics as the violent, coercive lie that it really is, viz pick your slave master and I’ve gone from the libertarian position of minarchist watchman-state to more or less the full-on anarcho*-capitalist view of Murray Rothbard and others.  If you’ve never seen him on Youtube, kick out the TV for an evening and watch a few lectures.    

 

So to the question.  In what (if any areas) do you think the state is justified?  Please explain your thinking.  Some things like foreign aid seem obvious candidates to close the book on, others perhaps trickier.  So tell me where you accept the state gun and where you prefer the heady atmosphere of freedom.

 

 

(*this is obviously not the ‘smash-up McDonalds’ position of a few arsehole socialist worker types, but actual voluntaryism).  

 

Push-me Pull-me justice

If you’ve been paying attention over the last few years, it is clear how the elite see the rest of us.  We are little more than farm yard animals to be cajoled and compelled and banned from doing things, lectured and hectored at will, and above all taxed.  We maybe shot if it suits the government as poor old John Charles De Menezes found out, or slung in jail as any number are now finding out for speaking words the government don’t like, and above all we are to be frightened by bogey men.  Mencken once said “the whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

 

And thus the whole security theatre at airports (which I will take a bit more seriously when I see Obama’s daughters being abused by the TSA or Cameron being subject to a body search ~ hey who has killed more people after all?).  Terror threat?  For someone who grew up in the 1970’s when the IRA were planting actual bombs regularly, it’s hard to take this seriously.

 

But you might have hoped for some kind of intellectual consistency, if not from politicians then at least from the judiciary.

 

But in one of the most convoluted and tortured contradictions ever to vomit forth from a British courtroom, the residents who weren’t thrilled with having anti-aircraft missiles on their roofs (and from what I can make out, out there without permission, notice or compensation of any kind) have lost their case against the deployment. 

 

A judge ruled the Ministry of Defence was legally entitled to decide there was “no credible threat” and the siting of the missiles was both “legitimate and proportionate” because of the “unprecedented” circumstances of the Games.

 

Yep, you read that right, there is no credible threat and it is so severe that we need to put missiles on your roof. 

 

One of the residents has caught on, he said the clear implication of the judgment was that “the MoD now has power to militarise the private homes of any person” even when there was no war on, or state of emergency declared.

 

Yep.  Free speech is gone, the right to own handguns long gone, self-defence, forget it, wer are taxed* and regulated to death, albeit inconvenient regulations are done away with for the elite**.  Now property rights are crushed at the whim of the state because they find it convenient.

 

The Romans used to say Fiat ‘justitia ruat caelum’’ meaning “let justice be done though the heavens fall”  Not anymore. 

 

* Not for the elite obviously, for you.  They pay 8% tax on the money they extract from you at the point of a gun, while they make you pay 45%.

http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/331884?tw_p=twt

                                                                                                    

** I’ve read, (but cannot find a link) that some of the speed bumps in the Zill lanes are being removed, does anyone know if this is correct?

In Praise of Islam.

After the “Joseph” post, a post on Islam.

Not in praise of Islam in today’s context (although some people may see some relevant point), but in the context of the world in which it became important and powerful.

This was not the Classical World – the world of Ancient Greece and the Roman Republic. Where people (in many places – although far from all) were either free or slaves.

Slavery certainly existed in the world in which the Muslims went forth on the path of conquest (just as it existed among the Muslims themselves) – but the world they faced was a world where the vast majority of people were semi serfs. Tied to the land, or tied to their urban occupations (tied from birth).

The first thing to go had been the right to keep and bear arms (the classical mark of a free man – in both Ancient Greece and Republican Rome, just as with the Celtic and Germanic tribes). Octavian (“Augustus”) had got rid of most private ownership of, and training in, arms. Useing the argument that he was saving Rome from the dangers of civil war (the repeated civil wars of the Imperial period – where different factions of the army backed different Emperors somehow do not count as civil wars I suppose).

So the Ancient World abandoned the central principle of that great work of classical literature “Starship Troopers” – “everyone fights” (meaning everyone who is to be considered a citizen must be prepared to fight).n And I am not being, entirely, sarcastic – after all Robert Heinlein (the author of Star Ship Troopers) got the idea from Aristotle. In the “Politics”, Aristotle explains how the idea of the armed citizen is not just Greek, how (for example) the men of Carthage are allowed to vote or stand for public office unless they have first accepted military service (of course this rule was later abandoned by Carthage – with tragic results).

Most “citizens” of the new Rome (which now meant the entire Classical world) had no military weapons and were not trained in their use.

Later more and more regulations and restrictions (and higher and higer taxes) were imposed on these “free citizens” – till, in the time of the Emperor Diocletian, they basically became cattle. Tied to the land (if they were peasants) or to their urban occupations (sometimes in state owned factories).

And it even became acceptable to keep these “free citizens” in chains (physcial chains) if it was expected they were going to run away (i.e. no longer farm the land – but run off to the barbarians, or whatever).

And, of course, flogging and all forms of torture (under the Republic only to be applied to slaves) gradually (over the years and centuries of decay) became accepted ways of relating to most ranks of “free citizens”.

Nor were things fundementally different with Rome’s great enemy – the Persians.

The Pathians seem to have tolerated the Greek and other civilizations they became overlords of. But the new (or restored – depending on one’s point of view) regime of the Persians established a new civilization.

With (yes you guessed it) hereditory castes determining a person’s fate in life from birth (much as in Hindu India – accept under the banner of Zorastrianism).

Under the Persians there was also a de facto religous monopoly (how could there not be – the Magi of Zorastrianism were also the magistrates and officials), apart from in the “land of the King” (basically Babylonia – where the King of the Persians ruled directly) where a wide measure of religious tolerance (for Jews and others) was practiced.

The Romans, after the conversion to Christianity, also moved towards a defacto religious monopoly with the persecution of all other forms of belief.

Some Christian Emperors (such as Valentarian) believed this was unChristian. But Emperors eventually adopted the position that it was their role to discriminate against nonChristians – indeed to persecute even fellow Christians over differences in theology.

Of couse in the 7th century the hatred this persecution of Christians by other Christians produced was to have fatal consequences for the Byzantines in the Holy Land – for many Christians (of persecuted types) went over to the Muslims in the middle of the key battle (the fact that these Christians were ethincally Arab was also a factor of course – but Pagan Rome, and Christian Emperors who did not practice persecution NEVER faced defection in the middle of a battle – not even to barbarians of the same ethnic group as troops on their own side).

Augustine, amongst other theologians, provided useful arguments about how using violence, including torture, in matters of religion was not really anti Christian. How did Augustine refute the Hebrew, Amoraic and Greek texts? Well he could not really read any of these languages, so he did not have to.

Ah dear Augustine – it was, of course, him who was one of the leading theologians to ridicule ancient science. And to mock the idea that people could choose to behave decently, none of this “Pelagian” free will for Augustine (that was as bad as being able to read Greek or Hebrew or Amoraic – you know the langugage that that Jesus bloke spoke, why someone interested in the Amoraic words of the Jesus bloke [or the Greek writings of the people who knew him] might be so absurd as to actually visit the land he lived in, which, of course, the wise Augustine never did ). Predestination, and human efforts are doomed, all the way – that is Augustine (he was a true father of the Dark Age).

To me it is no accident that the first theologian in England in the Middle Ages to stress the study of Greek and Hebrew, Roger Bacon, was also interested in submarines, aircraft (and so on) – contray to what is often thought there is no contradiction between a love of ancient learning and hopes for a better future. On the contrary it is the book burners (those who wish to destroy the learning of the past) who tend to be the people who strangle the future.

Of course the Western Roman Empire had collapsed by the time of the comming of Islam (although the Byzantines ruled in most of what had been Roman Africa – as well as in Sicily and other parts of Italy). However, the Germanic regimes that had taken over the rest of the Roman Empire in the West had kept the Roman sytem.

Most of the population reduced to de facto serfdom – a population where the “everyone fights” rule (of free citizens of the Classical World, or of the Germanic world itself) was ignored. Is it really any wonder that the Muslims found it fairly easy to conquer vast populations – even thought their own numbers (at first) were small?

The populations the Muslims took over had been treated as cattle for centuries – both in the East and the West, so conquest just meant a change of masters (not a loss of the freedom they did not have anyway).

And the Persians?

With them it was even worse. Insane social/religious experiments (for example trying to share out “all goods and women”) had almost destroyed the Persian Empire (torn it apart into chaos and civil war) long before the Muslims arrived.

The followers of Muhammed (a member of family of traders) might plunder the goods of other people – but they had no truck with denying the rights of private property amongst themselves.

At least where it came to goods – Islamic law as concerning LAND is more contested, which was to prove a major weakness in Islamic civilization, in comparision to that of the emerging “Feudal” law of the West. Such as the Edict of Quierzy of 877 which restated that even a King of France could not take a fief of land from the children of the person who held it, and give it to someone else – which meant that a Western King was a different sort of thing than a Roman Emperor or an Islamic ruler.

Western Kings might rob. rape and murder people – but these remained CRIMES even if the King did them (as King John was to discover), just as a Western King might have mistresses, but not a “harem” and his heir was expected to be from a marriage (not a slave girl).

A Western King might be a terrible hypocrite and criminal – but there was an objective standard to judge them by (unlike a Roman Emperor) and (again unlike a Roman Emperor) independent land holders with large numbers of armed (and trained) men, to hold them to account. “The Emperor’s will is law” would be an outrage to a mind of the Middle Ages.

And as for the powers of the “barons” themselves – a lord who overstepped the mark with free peasants might well get a longbow arrow in his face, at least in later period England (but other forms of death in other places). Remember even in England at the hight of the “Norman Yoke” only half the population were serfs (which means the other half were not). And the Kings of England (and the various lords) were desperate for armed (i.e. free) men to increase their own power, at home and overseas (that is the whole point of “bastard feudalism” – but it goes back a lot further). As early as the time of Henry the first (son of William the Bastard) the King was already desperatly reaching out to Englishmen to fight his Norman brothers (litterally his brothers) and marrying a direct decendent of Alfred the Great to bolster his claim to the throne.

So indeed “everyone fights”. And the Black Death meant the de facto end of what serfdom there was in England – whatever the demented statutes of Parliament said.

But Islam in the 7th century did not face the Kingdoms of the Middle Ages.

It faced the Persian despotism (desperatly trying to recover from its own madness), the despotism of the Byzantines (really the late Roman Empire – although after their defeat by Islam, what survived of Byzantine civilization was to change…) and the recently (well a century or so) arrived Germanic overlords of places like Spain – where the old Roman system (i.e. most people are cattle – unarmed) remained basically in force.

The Muslims were in a way a throw back to the Classical World – “everyone fights” (indeed believers had a religous duty to train and fight). And, amongst themselves, believers (at least in the early stages of Islam) had rights – they could not be treated as cattle (as the “free citizens” of the late Roman world, or of the Persian world, were).

There was even, again in the early stages, an intense Islamic interest in Classical learning and science – and scholars (Christan, Jewish and Muslim) made progress in these areas (although progress rather over stressed by BBC programmes) that was unmatched (at that time) in the Byzantine Empire or the Western Kingdoms.

For the Muslims (at least at first – and for the most part, there were nasty exceptions such as the ruler who burnt what was left of the library of Alexandria) did not know they were supposed to reject the learning of the ancient world (not build upon it), whereas too many of the Christians and too many of the Magi did reject it – because they thought it represented the civilization they had replaced.

Of course, within a few generations the Islamic world started to reject Classical learning and science more than the folk of the Western Kingdoms did.

However, the story of how that came to pass will have to wait for another time – or another person to tell it.

I do not care if Joseph had a long coat of many colours or a long sleeved coat – he was a very naughty man.

Athiests tend to regard religion as unimportant (some athiests are actually obessed with religion – but they are a weird minority of athiests), but actually it is very important.

For example Marxism has long used the Heaven-on-Earth promise (it is a lot older than Marxism – indeed it is often called “the oldest heresy”) and the left (the real hard core totalitarian left) still use this method – under such names as the “social gospel”, “liberation theology”, “collective salvation” and on and on.

“Paul you are as paranoid as Glenn Beck” oh no, I am much worse.  I have been banging on about this stuff for years – messing up the lives of innocent people by sending them e.mails full of horrors…..

Anyway dear Time magazine (sent to three million people per week) is dominated in the present issue by…..

You guessed it – the Heaven-on-Earth promise. How we must not think of Heaven as up in the sky or after death…. (none of that silly “sword and sandals religious stuff” as a trendy go-ahead vicar said on the BBC radio show “Sunday” describing his new “People’s Passion Play” – no Romans nailing Jesus to the Cross, no it is set in a factory where the noble workers….) – no Heaven is to be here on Earth and is defined as us all working for the common good under the wise guidence of…. all that we need to do is exterminate the Kulaks (sorry I am jumping the gun there – that will be for issues of Time magazine published after the November election).

Time magazine is not run by fringe types – they are well balanced, rational, cong-sons-of-bitches who certainly would not waste time on religion (which, privately, they think is a bunch of fairy stories) if they did not think it was very important.

So how should people who oppose the politics of Time magazine (and the universities and …. the rest of the insitutional left establishment) deal in relation to religion?

For an athiest it is easy – “religion is crap, and the fact the left are using religous arguements (and totally phony, distorted, religous arguments at that) shows how pathetic they are”.

Well that is O.K. for the minority of the world’s population that are athiests – but what about every one else?

Another approach it to declare everything in the Bible true and good – as if  it were the Koran which is (supposedly) all the word of God and older than the universe. Rather than the Bible – which was written by lots of different human beings, some good, some bad …. all seeking some insight into God, but comming up with very different ideas (for those who doubt that – compare the Book of Joshua with the Gospels).

Actually the “Fundementalists” started off well – even in the 19th century (before the term “fundementalist” was formally used) it was the hard liners who tended to be most opposed to slavery and the persecution of people on the basis of the color of their skin “a Bible in one hand – but a pistol in the other, and do not forget the account book in their back pocket” was the (perhaps rather cynical) sterotype of the hardcore (rather than the moderate, i.e. corporate welfare supporting) American Republican. Campainging against slavery in the South (very much a religious issue – and a war that really started in “Bleeding Kansas” long before the moderate (i.e. corporate welfare faction) Mr Lincoln was elected President.

Or walking up a dusty road in the town of Tombstone Arizonia. And do not forget the “Vengeance Ride” of Mr Earp after his brothers were shot, in different events, in the back (of course such colourful characters as “Johney Ringo” boasted that they had never had to face any person they killed, as “every man turns his back or goes to sleep sometime” – clearly Mr Ringo was not emotionally crippled by an oppressive sense of morality). Mr Earp had no doubts as to the rightness of his actions – after all this was not a matter of some family feud, for he was but the instrument of the Lord, bringing justice to the evil doers. A hero and benefactor – or Judge Dredd (depending on one’s point of view).

Although the fate of the unarmed Mr Tunstall and that of Mr McSween (who had the Bible and the account book – but no pistol) and of the lawyer who Mrs McSween hired to investigate the killing of her husband (all in the general area of Lincoln County, New Mexico – hence “Lincoln County War”) shows the fate of those who do not find a Mr Earp (and friends – including Doctor Holliday, whose status as an obviously dying man gave him a pass on some of his imoral conduct, although no unarmed man or man who refused to face him had anything to fear from Doctor Holliday, -  as Mr Earp admitted we-are-all-sinners and Wyatt certainly admitted he had conduct to repent of ) to come to their aid – although a certain “Billy the Kid” and his “Regulators” did try and even the score.

Interestingly there is a direct connection – for many of the people hired to support the Murphy-Dolan trading monopoly in Lincoln County New Mexico, just happen to turn up in Arizonia and are associated with the “Cowboys” a group of people who (if one wished to put on a positive spin on their activities) specialized in redistributing cattle from people who had too many – and liberating women from their own sexual repression (if need be by active means). All under the wise guidence of “Old Man Clanton” – a type of person that the character Judge Dredd would have no problem in recognising.

“You drifted a long way from the Fundementalists, let alone from the Bible (Joseph and so on) Paul”.

Actually I have not really drifted (this world of personal violence and clash of principles is very much a world that the people who wrote the various parts of the Bible would have recognised – pistols and rifles had just replaced swords and spears) and even the language of the time (a form of speaking even among quite ordinary people) was that of the King James Bible (or that of the Geneva Bible and Tyndale’s Bible that came before the King James Bible – although few films of the old West reflect this way of speaking), but for those who can not see that I have not really moved, I will return to a more direct telling….

The direct origin of the word “fundementalist” comes the early 20th century essays on “the fundementals” (the fundementals of the Christian faith) written in opposition to the emerging “Social Gospel” (i.e. either the code for building a wonderful new world, Heaven-on-Earth, or a genocidal lust for power using religious language as a cloak, depending on one’s point of view – and, of course, there are many other views and moderate, or mixed, versions of the Social Gospel).

The supporters of the Social Gospel were quick to point out that the person who paid the costs of producing the “Fundemantals” essays was a rich businessman (rather similar to the old attack about “Bible in one hand, pistol in the other, and do not forget the account book in the back pocket”), but the essays themselves (as opposed to their funding) are harder to dismiss.

Some aspects of them show a dark side (for example their general attitude towards the Roman Catholic Church – not popular, in those days, with traditional Americans), but they were not “anti science” (as one would now expect from the word “fundementalist”.

They did not believe that the world was created in 4004 BC and that humans were made from dust. Indeed, some of the authors of the “Fundementals” were scientists – including evolution supporting biologists.

The objective of the authors was not to take humanity back to the world view of the bronze age.
Their objective was to protect the fundementals of religion. The view of God as a BEING  ( a PERSON) – not  an abstraction, not as “society”, still less as an Earthly King or President. And the idea of INDIVIDUAL salvation (individual survival after death) rather than collective salvation – they rejected the idea that salvation was creating a wonderful new society that would exist forever. They insisted that salvation was about individual human beings living for ever.

Reject religion if you must – but do not steal religious language (and the very churches themselves) to advance an athiest political agenda – that was the message.

So how do we get from there to the “Monkey Trial” and what modern “Fundematalism” is associated with?

Partly because the cause of fundementalism was taken up by William Jennings Bryan (actually a politician of the left – although a moderate by today’s standards), but also because the mantle of science had been taken up by the Progressives – now “planning” was science, and (please do not forget) this included planning human breeding.

Hunter’s “Civic Biology” (the actual school textbook that was forbidden in the “Monkey Trial”) was full of “scientific racism” and the need to eliminate the inferior (both other races – and inferior members of one’s own race). Oddly enough Hollywood (and so on) leaves this out of the story (they leave other things out also – see Jack Cashill’s  “Hoodwinked” for the other side to this and other central stories of modern American culture).

Even in the South (not known for its high regard for blacks and so on) people were shocked that such stuff should be taught at taxpayer expense in the Public Schools – hene the “Monkey Trial”.

However, the fatal turn had already happened before the Monkey Trial – many (not all) “fundementalists” had already accepted the leftist case that a “scientific” world view meant that the state should control everything – from the economy, to human reproduction.

Science (it came to be accepted) means sending the crippled and the retarded to the gas chamber (a mainstream view in “Progressive” circles), even a moderatly “scientific” view meant the foceable sterialization of “Rednecks” (and other people the state declared “retarded”), oddly enough the Supreme Court case that upheld the power of State governments to forceably sterilize people , “Buck V Bell”, was the case that first made some fundementalists have second thoughts about their hostility to Roman Catholics – as the Catholic on the Court, Pierce Butler, was the only Justice to vote against forceable sterilisation.

Science meant the state control of every aspect of human life – the creation of Hell on Earth in the name of Heaven on Earth.

Of course science means none of these things – the physical sciences are naught to do with politics (as F.A. Hayek tried to point out some decades later).

However, if one accepts the leftist idea that science does mean all these things…. then the reaction of some “fundementalists” (then and now) is only to be expected.

Science is crap, screw science – not in these words of course (the prestige of science is too high for that), but at base.

Almost needless to say this reaction by religious people is utterly self defeating – because it gives up human reason in the name of morality (thus undermining both). It makes the religious people who take this position look utterly absurd – and it makes morality (as well as religion) look absurd.

And one can not even read the Bible with human reason asleep – no matter how religious someone may be. Unless one is content to simply declare that anything in the Bible is good by definition (the Islamic view of the Koran) – which both concedes human reason to athiesm (which means that someone can not be religious and rational at the same time) – and is also absurd in its own terms, as the various parts of the Bible present DIFFERENT opinions (obviously different opinions – unless, of course, one sends one’s reason to sleep so that one does not notice the differences between, say, the Book of Joshua and the Gospels – or even different parts of the Old Testament or different parts of the New Testament compared to each other – for example Saint Paul’s justification by faith is followed by  James, brother of Jesus, argueing for justification by works “Faith is like that: if good works do not go with it, it is quite dead”).

“Are we finally getting on to Joesph” – yes I am, but all the above is relevant.

The story of Joesph is well known – he was a nice man who stored food of seven years of good harvests and fed the people in the seven years of bad harvests.

There are debates about Joseph – but they are over absurd things such as whether the Hebrew really means “long sleeved coat” not “coat of many colours”.

But what does the Bible actually say about Joseph?

If one reads a modern English translation of the Bible (i.e. one reads something that can be clearly understood by people used to speaking modern English – for example the Jerusalem Bible, such as the 1960s translation, edited by Alexander Jones, that I have in front of me) then a rather different picture of Joseph appears.

First of all how did Joseph get the grain that he stored? See Genesis 41.

Joseph imposed (the the power of Pharaoh) a tax of one fifth of all production in the seven years (note – even in good years a tax of 20% will absorb all of surplus a primitive farm produces – the stuff that is not needed for consumption in the present year). Could not people have stored their own food – or sold it to wholesalers who could do so?

“Oh you are just being an ideological libertarian – the government had to do the job, and the main point of the story is that Joesph gave food to the starving Egyptions”.

Sorry, but that is bullcrap.

Joesph did not “give” anyting to the Egyptions he had robbed (sorry “taxed”).

He gave food to his relatives (including those who had sold him to slavery) all of his people he invited to Egypt – to be fed (and their animals to be fed) at the expense of the Egyptions (it is hardly an act of charity to give people stuff that actually does not belong to you – that belongs to the people you have looted).

“But that is a minor matter Paul – there were not many of Joseph’s people, not in comparison to the very large numbers of Egyptions”.

Well we are not sure how many of Joesph’s people there actually were… but that still misses the main point.

See Genesis 47 (again in the Jerusalem translation – so we can actually understand what is being said).

When the Egyptions (the Egyyptions Joseph had looted, sorry taxed, by the power of Pharaoh) begged that Joseph “give us bread” Joseph did not “give” them anything.

First he took all their livestock in return for bread (their livestock  being their independence). Then (when the had eaten that bread) Joseph had them hand over all their  land to Pharaoh in return for food (their own grain – that Joseph, or rather Pharaoh’s soldiers, had looted from them). According to the Jerusalem Bible they then became “serfs” on what had been their own land, according to the King James Bible they became “servants” of Pharaoh. All the land came under Pharaoh – with the exception of the land that belonged to the Temples (the Temple priests of Egypt’s traditional Gods) who had not been taxed – and had somehow managed to store food for the bad years (I thought that only the state was able to do that?). Of course the texts actually have the people being made to beg  Joseph to take their land away and make them the toys of Pharoah (the whole thing is utterly vile – once independent people reduced to cattle).

“None of it happened anyway Paul” – not the point. Perhaps it is all a “fairy story”  (or perhaps it is not) – but the point is that Joseph (like Joshua and so many other leading characters in the Bible) is “very naughty” – or, in more blunt language,  an evil man. For it is evil to tax people to starvation and then make them beg you to take away their livestock (their wealth) and then their land, and then their freedom – in return for the food you took from them (by force) in the first place.

So how should this be dealt with?

Should we simply declare that any actions that the Bible implies are good are good – by definition (the Islamic or Calivinist view)?

Should we “interpret” away the actions – the-Bible-does-not-mean-what-it-says. For example, Joshua did not really attack towns (the people of which had done nothing to him or his folk) and murder everyone in these towns – down to the babies.

If we “interpret” away anything we do not like – then there is no stopping place before the “liberal” “Social Gospel” – with everything in religion “interpreted” to mean a political agenda (with no “sword and sandals religious stuff” as the trendy go-ahead vicar on the BBC show would put it).

There is another alternative.

That we judge the people in the Bible by the same standards we judge everyone else. Regardless of “historical stage” (as Carl Menger showed in the “Errors of Historicism” and the general “War of Method” between the Austrian School and the German “Historical School” to talk of “historical stages” is meaningless in terms of the basic principles of economics – and it is also meaningless in terms of aggression against the weak and helpless being bad, not good).

That the laws of right and wrong are not one thing among men and anther among “elves and dwarves”, and that a man should judge conduct “in the golden wood” by the same standards he would use “in his own house” (Tolkien of course).

If people in the Bible do terrible things we should say they are terrible things, and if the people who wrote those parts of the Bible say they were good things (or imply they were) – they were WRONG.

“But how can people judge these things?” – try reading all the “not relevant” stuff above again.

People do know the difference between right and wrong – and they can (with a great effort) choose to turn away from what is wrong and do what is right (or die trying).

Of course an athiest can do this, but there is nothing against religion in doing so – in using one’s reason, and making the choice to act justly. To oppose those who do evil (yes “evil doers”), to protect the weak and helpless (rather than feed on them like a wolf feeding on sheep), even at the cost of one’s own life. To repent of the bad things that one has done – and to make that repentance real by ones actions. For morality is based on choice – and a forced choice is not a “choice”, in moral terms, at all.

None of the above is “showing contempt for religion”.

On the contrary – it is ignoring or “explaining away” (it-was-a-different-time or the-author-of-this-part-of-Bible-does-not-mean-what-he-says) the wickedness of many figures in the Bible, that shows contempt for religion.

For example, if the author or authors of  (for example) Deuteronomy were capable of seeing that it was wrong to keep someone enslved for more than six years (which they were) then they were capable of seeing that it was wrong to keep someone enslaved at all. And regardless of whether the person was a Hebrew or not (for God made Hebrew and non Hebrew a like).

And if the author or authors of  Deuteronomy were capable of seeing that it was wrong to murder the population of a town that surrenders (which they were), then they were capable of seeing that it was also wrong to set the population of such a town to forced labour. And they were also capable of seeing that it makes no moral difference whatever whether the town is in area of land given to you by God – “not spareing the life of any living thing” (for fear they will teach you about their customs and way of life – however terrible these customs may be) is still a contemptable crime. Or is not the killer of women and children (down to the babies) not a coward as well as a murderer? And how strong can the faith of someone be, if he fears what a child will tell him? Indeed fears it so much that he murders the child, to prevent the child speaking to him.

The just man is someone who stands in defence of a defeated enemy – who protects the helpless from murder. Even if has to create a wall of dead bodies from his own side around the helpless.

“By the way” this is exactly the road of reasoning that that both the Jewish authors of Talmud and the Christian Scholastic theologians (and philosophers) trod. The picture of the “rightious” (the just) that emerges in their reasoning (emerges,  is NOT created by them) is very different from Joshua or Joesph (in Jewish teaching it is not rightious to take people’s food by force and then give it back to them in return for first their livestock, then their land, and their freedom itself).

Deuteronomy was not written by God – indeed as Jews and Christians have always accepted, only a tiny part of the Bible is the direct word of God. So to treat the words of the human authors of Deuteronomy, and so much else, as if they were the word of God (0r to explain them away) is showing contempt for human reason and morality itself – and for the creator of both.

And so with Joshua, and so with Joseph.

This is what matters – the ability to judge (judge justly) the conduct of people on one’s own side. In the past and in the present and in the future. To see the flaws (the crimes) even in great men (such as David and Soloman) and to refuse to ignore evil  deeds, or to explain them away, or to pretend they are good deeds.

What does not matter is whether Joseph had a coat of many colours or a long sleeved coat.

“Conservative” philosophy.

“Reason is, and ought to be, the slave of the passions”.

David Hume.

“Reason is the slave of the passions” might be interpreted as a cry of despair – a position that human beings could not control themselves, and are the slaves of urges (either instinctive from our biological evolution, or from environmental experiences – the pointless “nature v nurture” debate,  pointless because there is no room for real human choices, for humans to actually be “beings”, either way). Just because something is a cry of despair does not mean it is not true – human agency (free will) might be an “illusion” (although who is having the illusion if there are no agents, no beings, no “reasoning I”, no MINDS to have the illusion?).

But reason OUGHT to be the slave of the passions?

So if, for example, a man has a passion to rape and murder women (before there is a comeback – I fully accept that David Hume was personally the mildest of men), not only will he be unable to resist this passion, but that he OUGHT not to resist it? That the thing he OUGHT to do is to use his reason (reason defined as no more than a problem solving ability – no different from a computer) to work out the best way to rape and murder women without getting caught.

Why OUGHT?

“Because it is inevitable Paul – because reason is the slave of the passions…..”.

But is that not an “ought from an is” – of which David Hume is not supposed to approve?

Whatever this Humeian doctrine is, it is not “conservative”, it does not represent either the mainstream of Judiao-Christian tradition or the tradition of the mainstream classical world (including the athiest parts of that tradition that are athiest – such as the philosphy of Epicurus).

Yet David Hume is often called a “conservative” inspite of the intense radicalism of the above. This would have astonished even friends of his – such as Edmund Burke (an example of how two people can be friends without either one accepting the other’s philosophy).

The conservative position in philosophy was (then as now) represented by Artistotelianism (please not “Aristotelianism” does not mean “everything Aristotle said”) – although also by the “Scottish” or “Common Sense” School.

What was that?

Well it was the following positions…

That the material universe is real – that it exists independently of our mind’s perception of it.

That the mind also exists, that is not an “illusion” (who is having the illusion if the mind does not exist?).

And that right and wrong, good and evil (I am not going to go into the technical differences between “the right” and “the good” here) exist – they are not just whatever we want them to be. NOT just “boo and cheer words” as the “Logical Positivists” (great admirers of David Hume) were later to put it.

Sound familar at all?

It should – because these three things are also the foundations of Aristelianism (in all its forms – from Thomistic Christian to Randian athiest). It could be argued that the “Scottish School” simply stripped these concepts of Scholastic language (and thus with associations with the Roman Catholic Church).

However, strict Calivinists were quick to claim that the Common Sense school “sat man in judgment of God” so that if (for example) God ordered people to rape, rob and murder this was NOT automatically right just because God ordered it (like mainstream Islam, strict Calvinism DEFINES good and evil by what God orders and forbids – there is no room for reason in fundemental judgement).

Be that as it may, the Common Sense “Scottish Philosophy” School (basically Artistotelianism presented in a Protestant form) contiuned in the United States till very late 19th century (with such people as Noah Porter of Yale and especially James McCosh of Princeton) then the “Pragmatists” (more on them later) and others took over.

Under different names the essential position of both Artistotelianism and the Common Sense school continued. For example, in England with the “Oxford Realists” – Cook Wilson, Harold Prichard (a favourate of mine) and Sir William David Ross (it is no accident that Ross was also a leading scholar of Aristotle – and there were many other students of Aristotelianism at Oxford in the period).

Such people had no great need of the Scottish School – after all they could look back to the Aristotelian tradition of Oxford itself (thanks to the Church of England never falling fully into the hand of strict Calivinists). Or, if they wished, the independent (but fundementally akin) philosophy of Ralph Cudworth of Cambridge (the great foe of Thomas Hobbes).

Cudworth being the chaplin of Parliament during the Civil War. A man who rather confuses historians (a problem they get round by ignoring him) by being chaplin to the side that often claimed to be “The Elect” (a term meaning the saved, the people who have been chosen by God to go to heaven – the term has a strong Calvinist-Augustinian implication that they were chosen before they were born, indeed at the begining of time) whilst also being the strongest FOE of the doctrine of predestination (the doctrine that people are chosen to go to be saved before they were born – and it is naught to do with that they CHOOSE to do) in the 17th century English speaking world. Of course some people of a Presbyterian (Church of Scotland – not Cumberland Presbyterian) background deny that predestination, even so called “double predestination”, implies determinism (the denial of human agency – i.e. that humans are “beings”), indeed James McCosh denied it (to do otherwise would have meant he had to break with the Presbyterian Church). But I have no intention of examining such a position – for the brutal reason that I hold it is not worth examining.

Anyway…. Certainly even in the 18th century English thinkers such as Josiah Tucker (Dean of Gloucester) did not need to run up to Scotland to find out what to think about theology, philosophy, or even economics (for true economics must be based upon the concept of the reasoning, the choosing, “I” – this Tucker understood just as Ludwig Von Mises understood it). They were perfectly capable of working these things out from first principles that are common to human mind – regardless of nationality, “race”, “class” or “historical period”. Kant (greatly influnenced by Hume of course) may have been wrong about many things – but he was not wrong about the universal nature of the human mind (as Ernst Cassirer showed in the 20th century – even a modern German philosopher does not have to submit to irationalism and absurdity, not if he CHOOSES not do so).

Of course there are pressures upon human beings. Biological pressures (for example it is difficult to think clearly if one is in terrible pain – or if one is born with brain damage) and environmental pressures.

For example, it would be difficult for a German philsopher (in certain periods) to come to nonabsurd conculsions – when their education carefully excluded nonabsurd writers (neither the various schools of Aritstotelianism or the “Scottish” Philosophy of Common Sense were much taught in Protestant Germany) – difficult but NOT impossible, as the already mentioned example of Ernst Cassirer shows. Cassirer was given the same education in Kantian philosophy as Shopenhauer or Nietzsche, but did not come to the same conclusions. Of course Nietzsche may be a tragedy – as, it is CLAIMED, we will never know how much the physical damage to his brain impared his thinking, much the same excuse is given to explain the rantings of Martin Luther in old age, his physical illness, it is claimed, may have disordered his mind.

EFFORTLESS agency is not given to human beings. We must make an effort (sometimes a very great effort) to overcome both our bilogical passions and environmental conditioning (even if it is not formal brainwashing – which in the case of much modern “education” it actually is). And sometimes, the effort is simply too great, but that does not mean it always is – that humans are always just flesh robots (not beings) with no choice in what they do and, therefore, no moral responsbility for what they do. The human mind (the reasoning “I”) does exist (contrary to Shopenhauer – our very self awareness PROVES it exists) – and we can free ourselves (to some extent) so that we can think and work out alternatives – and choose between them.

Now the “Pragmatists”.

William James was not the first of this school (that was Charles Pierce) nor was he the longest lived of its major figures (that was John Dewey – warning on him, he lived long and changed his opinions a lot), but William James was in his time the most influential Pragmatist.

And William James is often cited as a “conservative” philosopher – after all he “saved religion”, he was the most cited modern thinker in American pulpits (other than both Catholic and “fundementalist” Protestant pulpits -by the way the first “Fundementalists” did NOT reject biological evolution, it was only later when natural science became fused, in culture,  with false theology and philosophy, that many “fundementalists” made the tragic error of rejecting BOTH false philosphy/theology AND rejecting natural science).

But errrr…. .how did William James “save religion”?

When one cuts away all the double talk and evasion he “saved” relgion by denying the existance of objective truth.

If there is no such thing as objective true and false, then religion can not be objectively wrong (because nothing is), or (a slightly different dodge) there may be objectively right and wrong things in some matters (such as natural science), but not in matters of opinion (this is the position of the Logical Positivists – see above for them, or see CEM Joad “A Critique of Logical Positivism”, 1950, for why the doctrines of A.J. Ayer and co do not make sense – even in terms of natural science). This sort of thinking leads such modern philosphers such as John Gray (not a logical positivist, in case you are getting confused at the back there – or are you too busy looking out the window…) to mock the very idea that religion is about “truth claims” – how silly says this BBC “A Point of View” thinker – as William James showed……

Wiliam James neither believed in objective truth or objective right – as he put it “the right is just the expendient in our way of thinking”. So if people WANTED to believe in religion – that was fine.

Better, a thousand times better, honest athiesm than this sort of dishonest (and utterly vile) “defence” of religion.

The honest athiest tries to refute religion. But the William Jamesite (or the Logical Positivist for that matter) does not even take its claims seriously (no more than Shopenhauer did – or his “enemies” the Hegelians did).

How “simple minded” to treat a religion as making truth (objective truth) claims. As “intellectuals” we do not bother with such sillyness…. If religion is “true” it is “true” in a different sense……

A pox on all of this.

Anyway this way of thinking is treat religion (and athiest philosophical truth claims also) as “myths” – things to live by, but which have no objective truth.

This is to be seen in Sorel (directly influenced by William James) who invented “myths” in order to justify violence – as his belief (which is as valid, according to this way of thinking, as any other belief) was that violence was the only way that people could live worthwhile lives – so myths had to be invented to justify violence.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that Mussolini loved the work of Sorel (as well as aspects of Nietzsche – and of Karl Marx when the bearded one responded to vast amounts of logical argument and empirical evidence against his theories, by attacking the very CONCEPTS of BOTH logical reasoning and empirical evidence).

What mattered was to give people a reason to live – and to expand and take POWER. It did not matter if the reason was true or not – because nothing was really true.

But it is not “just” the above.

Those useless “Christian theologians” (in America as much as Germany) who so disgusted Dietrich Bonhoeffer (leading him to use savage language against “the Church” – langague which is gleefully used by the very “modernists” who were, in fact, the target of it).

These people did not care that the National Socialists told lies about the Jews, because they (the “theologians”) no longer believed in objective truth anyway (and where there is no truth – there can be no lies). Besides the “religion” of the “theologians” (and the great bulk of people who followed them) had become (following Hegel and others) just philosophy – and false and empty philosophy at that. They no longer believed they were making objective truth claims – claims that were nothing to do with “race” or “class” or “historical period”.

Who is going to be prepared to die for the truth – if they do not believe there is any such thing as (real) “truth” anyway?

Risking one’s life was for suckers – people who believed the various “myths” created for them. Most of the ministers of religion in Germany would not even risk their incomes (for their pay came from the state) let alone their lives – and nothing in the “philosophy” or the “theology” they were taught told them they were doing anything wrong.

Of course there were the “saving remnant” who managed to free their minds from what they had been taught, and worked out (from first principles) what was right and what was wrong – how they must stand with the truth. But a small minority of good people (no matter how brave – even smashing into the heart of the enemy like Paladins of old) are unlikely to defeat a great majority of the wicked, or the INDIFFERENT. That is why education is important – not because it invents truth and right (it does neither), but because good education can help people (at least some people) stand with what is true and right, and false education can corrupt people (no apology for the use of the word “corrupt”).

This is not to say that the wicked are not responsible for their actions. Even some of the most wicked had moments when they understood what they doing (for example when a helpess child appealed for mercy just before they murdered the child), but they hardened their hearts with the aid of what they had been taught (false philosphy and relativist “myths”) and continued.

“This is all old news Paul”.

Is it?

The favourate philosopher of the Oslo mass murderer (I will not use his name – because he wished for his name to be famous) was William James, and for good reason.

If there is no objective truth than his claim that he was fighting a war (not killing the unarmed and helpless) can not be a false (because nothing is objectively true or false).

Also what he did can not be wrong (because there is no objective right and wrong) – so if it floats his boat, it is both “true” and “right” in the terms that William James and the Pragmatists (and so many others).

And, if David Hume is correct, then not only could the Oslo mass murderer not have done other than he did (because “reason is the slave of the passions” and he had a passion to kill people), but he OUGHT not to have done as he did – because reason OUGHT to be the slave of the passions.

If one has a passion to kill people the only role for reason (as with a computer rather than a human BEING) is to work out the best way to kill as many people as possible. And this is exactly what the Oslo mass murderer did.

Thus, from the point of view of modern philosophy (that revolt against Aristotelianism – against Common Sense) the Oslo murderer is on solid ground. No real point against him can be made.

However, if this revolt against old the traditions of human (of human agency) thought is what passes for “conservatism” then I want nothing to do with “conservatism”.

Just as if William James style religion is religion – then BUGGER RELIGION, better it perish from the Earth than be “defended” in such a vile way.

Human affairs are subject to certain laws – laws that do not deny human freedom (agency), but in fact include it.

Humans can not do anything they want to – we are constrained by the laws of the objective physical universe (if you deny this – try jumping to Mars, right now, just with the use of your physical body not with the aid of tools).

However, neither are humans just flesh robots whose every action is determined by genetics and/or environment. We do NOT have effortless agency (we are not Gods – we are subject to both biological and environmental pressures), but we do (to some extent) have agency (if we make the effort – sometimes a very great effort, and even with a very great effort we may still fail) – we are agents (beings), with some capacity to reason (truly reason) and to CHOOSE. Thus such words as “right and wrong” and “moral responsbility for your actions” are NOT empty and meaningless. Nor just a matter of “race”, “class” or “historical stage”.

Lastly…..

My friend Antony Flew (sadly no longer with us) is often talked of in terms of religion – his opposition to it most of his life, and his move towards it in his last years.

However, this misses the point. The Antony Flew when he was an athiest was the same man as when he accepted God.

Antony Flew understood that the physical world was real – independent of our perceptions of it.

Antony Flew understood that our minds are real also – that the reasoning “I” actually exists (that agency is not an “illusion” – for, if the mind does not exist, who is having the “illusion”).

And Antony Flew understood that there really are such things as right and wrong, good and evil (again I am not going to get in a techical account of the differences between the right and the good – so if you demand such a technical account, please jump into the nearest lake).

Antony Flew is an example of how LITTLE difference religion makes in these three (fundementally connected) matters.

Religion, in the sense of Christianity, is a series of truth claims (notebly about the existance of God and who Jesus was – “but John G. says….” you know what you can do with that tosspot) it does NOT determine our response to the above.

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