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“Draw Mohammed,” Part 1

I ask assembled Felines to consider the inflammatory and incendiary* incitement to violence shown in this award-winning cartoon by Bosch Fawstin:

Fawstin,B.Winning Cartoon in "Draw Mohammed" contest, ADFI, Garland, Texas, 5:2-3:2015.Lifson, American Thinker, 5:4:15.194522_5_

Now have a look at this piece of high art**, which won a competition sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), by Andres Serrano:

Piss Christ, by Andres Serrano.Won contest sponsored NEA.[BOX].194521_5_

Lastly, enjoy this one, which I received in an e-mail with no source.

Do You Have Any Idea How Offensive That Is?.Cartoon, Steve eml, 5:23:15, 11;16 a.m.Source Unknown

There is somewhere also a most delightful and accurate (in its implication) cartoon of David Horowitz***, depicting Mr. Horowitz much as the hook-nosed scumbag in the previous drawing, only with, as I recall, a garbage-can’s lid on his head for a hat. Or maybe in his hand for a shield? Can’t remember for sure, and can’t find it again. But one thing is sure: When I said it’s “most delightful and accurate,” I lied. Pure sarcasm. Frankly it P’d me O. As does the mockery of Christ above.

But not enough to go kill people about it, except maybe metaphorically. I suspect that most Christians and Jews and even atheists share the attitude. Of course, the more benighted Muslims at least find that the proper treatment for drawing Mohammed at all is death.

More on this and on the jihadi attack for which the first cartoon served as an excuse (but it wasn’t really the cartoon) in upcoming postings, until I run out of steam.

*Redundancy for emphasis.

**’”Piss Christ,” a photograph of a crucifix in a jar of urine,’ to quote Thomas Lifson, who wonders if it is “enough to justify mass murder.”

***This is the red-diaper baby and former New-Leftist, the author of so many anti-Communist/-Marxist/-socialist/-Leftist works, including the marvelous Radical Son, who is also a champion of free speech and academic freedom (the real kind, not the Progressive version), and the founder of Front Page Magazine.

I don’t know what’s going on with WP. First, the comments were allowed before they weren’t allowed, and now they are allowed again, unless it turns out that they’re not.

Second, originally YrsTrly was the editrix responsible for this yelp of anger, but WP then decided it’s by somebody called “admin” (no caps). Who knows who will finally be elected the reporter. *sneer*

A couple of the questions for the post Christmas period: Ancient Greek learning and English freedom – religious and political.

The Republic of Venice, like some other Italian States, was in contact with the Greek (Byzantine) Empire to the east, where Ancient Greek learning was preserved, from the most early days – contact was never lost in the Dark Ages. And the other states of Europe were in close contact with the Republic of Venice and the other Italian states. Yet the education system teaches that Greek learning came only from Islamic Spain. Is this theory really true?

Did, for example, thinkers in the British Isles such as the Irish thinkers from the 5th (indeed reaching back to Patrick and Pelagius [yes Pelagius, that free will scholar of Greek and possibly Hebrew, - of course I would drag him into it] of Roman Britain) century to the 9th century (before old Ireland was destroyed by the Vikings), or the English thinkers of the 12th century and so on (not just Roger Bacon there were other great Greek scholars and scientific thinkers also), really get their knowledge of Greek from Islamic Spain? Of course both the Greek Orthodox Church and the old Irish Celtic Church are not known for the delight in the predestination of Augustine – even if philosopher theologians do strange twisted gymnastics to try and reconcile predestination and moral responsibility (the reality of choice – of the existence of the human agent). Just as Judaism has always rejected predestination (unlike mainstream Islam) and stood for individual moral responsibility – the reality of choice, of the human person.


In almost every case the Reformation of the 16th century led to a Church that was committed to Predestination and was a department of State – after all Predestination was the central doctrine of Martin Luther and John Calvin (they both HATED freedom and reason), and Luther taught that the State should control the State and Calvin taught that the Church should control the State – the autonomy of Church and State was utterly alien to both these thinkers. In England it led, by the 18th century, to a Church that was far MORE in favour of moral responsibility, free will, (hostile to Predestination and so on) than the Roman Catholic Church was, and to a Church that was largely part of the landed interest (backed by local patrons and so on as well as being a, largely, independent landowner itself) rather than being a department of state – an “Established Church” rather than a “State Church”. A Church that was theologically and socially radically different from the rest of Protestant Europe. Why?

Even in the 16th century someone like Richard Hooker (the three legged stool – scripture, tradition, and REASON) seems distinctly English – distinctly “Anglican” (a possible misuse of language – but I hope you get my point), by the 17th century philosopher theologians such as Henry Moore and Ralph Cudworth, perhaps the greatest Greek and Hebrew scholar of his age, are quite acceptable in England, but would have seemed radially alien in the Protestant nations of Europe (and in the centralised Counter Reformation Catholic world) – with the possible exception of the minority tradition in Holland, the Arminian tradition (and remember it was the MINORITY tradition in Holland).

Why was England so weird in its Church development? Unlike both Catholic Europe and Protestant Europe.

I have asked these questions before – but just received utterly irrelevant answers such as “Ralph Cudworth believed in witchcraft”, yes he did (so did the great Common Law thinkers Hales and Selden), but why did the Church in England (both Anglican such as Granville Sharpe and William Wilberforce and Dissenting such as Richard Price [but also his Anglican political opponent Edmund Burke] – or a bit of both such as John Wesley) contain so many people, such as Cudworth and Moore and….., who believed in religious toleration and moral responsibility, free will – hostile to predestination. Why did the English Church turn out, in the main, so differently from the rest of Europe?

So was there no movement of Greek learning from the Byzantine Empire directly to the states of Italy? Was it all via Islamic Spain? Even though Venice was technically part of the Eastern Empire itself? The “Islamic Spain is what matters” idea seems like a unlikely theory. But I am willing to be corrected.

And why did the Church in England, certainly by the 18th century, turn out so different from both Protestant and Catholic Europe? I suspect that the answer to this question is the key to the different POLITICAL development of this land in the late 17th century and the 18th century, compared to the rest of Europe.

The United Kingdom in 1964 – a big government country that was O.K. ish (well perhaps).

Anti big government people often make the assumption that life gets worse as government gets bigger. It is true that if government grows, in size and scope, things will not be as good as they could have been – but life can still, for a while anyway, get better for most people.

Take my home town of Kettering, Northamptonshire. Government started to grow here in 1875 (in other towns it was after 1870 – but we did not vote for an Education Board here), with the rise in national taxation and the increase in functions pushed on local government by the Disraeli Act of 1875. Yet life still got better here till at least 1960 – and government was big indeed by then.

I am not just talking about real wages – but general life also. For example Wicksteed Park (the first amusement park in the country) did not exist in the 19th century – but it was a national institution by 1960, although it has sadly declined in recent years. Also ordinary people were better dressed in 1960 than they were in the 19th century (when some children did not even have boots or shoes – even in a town famous for making them) – although, again, one could hardly call people in 2014 well dressed, or well behaved.

And the buildings were fine (or at least O.K.) – the destruction of so much of the “town that Gotch built” did not really begin till 1960. And the town was not too big with endless housing estates eating the fields and the bluebell woods. It was still the Northamptonshire of the writer H.E. Bates and others.

In 1964 there was full employment and historically high wages, no welfare class (of any size) unlike today. But people were also mostly well behaved, polite, well dressed and so on.

“That is trivial stuff Paul” – perhaps. although I do not think so, but there is rather a lot more.

I have already mentioned the lack of a welfare class in 1964 – there were people who could not take care of themselves, but there were not millions of healthy working age people who had never worked and never would. Is this not important?

Also non state institutions were vastly less unhealthy in 1964 than they are now. “Oh Paul is going to obsess about the Churches again” – actually I was thinking of the family.

In 1964 most people still lived in stable families – now we do not. Is this not an important change – and not for the better.

In 1964 the fertility rate was positive, we could replace ourselves as a nation – now it is negative, we can not. We have vast immigration instead of our own children.

In 1964 most shares were still owned by individuals (there was no Capital Gains Tax) and the City of London was matter of self employed stock brokers and stock “jobbers” (wholesalers). The brokers worked for individual clients who still owned most shares (the “Aunt Agathas”) and stock jobbers worked selling shares for the companies.

Now most shares are owned by institutions (hired manages in control of other hired managers – with real owners a thing of the past) and private investors are taken to the cleaners by faceless organisations in a post “Big Bang” GOVERNMENT DOMINATED City of London.

Even Ulster (Northern Ireland) was quiet before 1964 – the main news stories there were about lost cows and the latest attractions at Port Rush. Not how the IRA (Sinn Fein) was running the government and destroying education.

Indeed education was much better in England and Wales also – Grammar Schools were common, intelligent children could get a good education (at the expense of taxpayers). Qualifications meant something – not like now. And the universities were only just starting to over expand.

And the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland was an independent nation in 1964 – not a slave of the European Union, we were are own masters.

Also the British armed forces were still a real force in 1964 – the Wilson-Healey gutting of the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force (reducing Britain to a token power dependent on others) had not yet happened. Britain was not a joke – we still mattered. Yes in spite of Suez, and in spite of the pathetic “Super Mac” we still mattered. And there was no conscription – getting rid of conscription was about the only good thing that “Super Mac” ever did.

And there was still freedom of speech and freedom of association – the 1965 (and all the later Acts) had not yet been passed.

“We get it Paul – in 1964 everything was wonderful – everything now is awful”.

No I am NOT saying that.

The advance of technology in the last 50 years has been a good thing (yes I find the internet time consuming – but the advance of technology has been a good thing) – and that has enabled higher living standards, for most people.

And government in 1964, although much smaller than now (the Welfare State has exploded since 1964), was still vastly too big – unsustainable big in the long term, all the seeds of our present and future societal crises were already long planted before 1964. Government dominated health care and education and old age provision (at least for the poor) and none of these things is good – although the old traditions of the pre government dominated schools and hospitals (the grammar schools and hospitals were still private in the 1930s) still dominated the government services of 1964, teachers, nurses and doctors still acted like dedicated professionals (not dominated by endless government rules and union practices).

However, it was a good country in 1964 – it was a better place to live than Britain had been in (say) 1874, when government was vastly smaller.

I am not saying that if government had been kept to the level, size and scope, it had been in 1870 or 1874 that Britain in 1964 would not have been an even better place – of course it would have.

But Britain in 1964 was an O.K. ish place in 1964 – in ways we are not now, and this should not be forgotten.

Carbon Legacies

There is an industry which concerns itself with helping to create these when Mother Nature isn’t quite doing her job. But it needs to be regulated, you know. It really does. Even Mr. Wesley J. Smith, of whom more below, says so, though he otherwise disagrees with Ms. Cristina Richie, whose views are our topic today. (The gentleman’s remark rather sounds as though he approves of “regulation,” and disapproves of its lack, on principle.)

Anyway, it turns out that Carbon Legacies, even when naturally occurring, are not an unmitigated good. Indeed, one might question whether they are a Good Thing at all, even as others are delighted with theirs, or with the prospects of acquiring such.

Here is the abstract of an article from the Journal of Medical Ethics by Cristina Richie, Theology Department, Boston College, which argues that since every human “emits carbon” into the environment,

Evaluating the ethics of offering reproductive services against its overall harm to the environment makes unregulated ARTs unjustified….

“ART” stands for “Assisted Reproductive Technology.” It includes such things as fertilization in vitro and artificial insemination, as well as methods of having babies where the child might be born with AIDS, surrogate pregnancy, and more.

(WikiFootia has a good overview.)

From Ms. Richie’s article:

A carbon footprint is the aggregate of resource use and carbon emissions over a person’s life. A carbon legacy occurs when a person chooses to procreate. All people have carbon footprints; only people with biological children have carbon legacies.

(I have had some non-biological “children,” but only in a figurative sense, such as patterns of words set down on paper or sent into cyberspace. But it seems to me that actual non-biological children are probably rather rare.)

Now ask me what I think. C’mon, you know you want to! *g* Well, lest the multitude of Kounting Kitties hereabouts get to yowling from the suspense….

Views in which “the environment” is seen as of higher moral value than human beings as such — whether conceived in delight or after a fight, or both, or neither — are perverse in the strongest and most serious sense of the word. (Compact OED, Print Ed., 1971, = 1933 OED plus addenda, gives various definitions, several of which boil down to “turning away from right to wrong.”) To me, the word has a connotation of DELIGHT in turning from right to wrong, and a deliberate inversion of right and wrong, so that the evil is embraced as good and the good, as evil.

All I can say is, I place a very high value on my own personal Carbon Legacy, who in early middle age continues to provide joy, light, and warmth to my life. Besides, this person grows houseplants and, in summer, tomatoes and peppers, so I figure that offsets the inevitable “emission of carbon.” (Whatever does Ms. Richie think that means? There’s a huge variety of carbon-containing molecules that are “emitted” by a huge variety of sources, most of them “natural.”) Personally I think that once we’ve gotten fluorine out of the way by banning it (per a suggestion by some doofus over here), we should simply ban carbon. That would solve everything. At least from the human point of view, which would no longer exist.

. . .

I will let Mr. Wesley J. Smith, of, have the last word. He has a piece on this entitled “Population Controllers Call Babies ‘Carbon Legacies,’ a Threat to the Environment.” Per Mr. Smith:

And Jesus said, ‘Suffer the little carbon legacies to come onto me’….

Resurrection Shuffle.

It’s Easter Monday, a day of great joy for Christians. Their Lord and Saviour is risen from the dead. But 55 of the prod nosed, know better than you do, self righteous, would prefer you forgot all about it. Could their letter to the Telegraph be just a coincidence on this day? I seriously doubt it.

I’m looking out of my window, and from where I stand (I live on top of a hill here in Bristol) I can see  at least five church spires. Admittedly two of them are now carpet warehouses and another converted into sheltered housing, but the other two are still functioning places of worship. I live in the district of St Andrews, just down the hill is St Pauls, then next to it is St Annes and St Werburghs , all with their attendant churches. Bristol was just a little bit Christian religious in the past, just like the whole of Great Britain, don’t you think?

Are we now? In strict observance and church attendance certainly not, but who can deny that the whole of our culture, Laws and morality stem directly from Christianity, and as belief in some imaginary sky fairy or other goes, it is most certainly the most benign that has ever been invented.

But the 55 signers of the Telegraph letter think that iDave’s professed belief is divisive to our country. Oh really? what more divided than it is already? This is Hotel UK. Come on in, get yourself a room, make whatever mess you want , carry on just as you did wherever you came from, live in a parallel universe, and we’ll do our best to just ignore it. Don’t bother trying to fit into our culture or learn our funny little ways, cos it’s all made up rubbish anyway, say the 55. The great cathedrals of Wells, York, Canterbury etc etc matter not a jot, in fact pre Christian contributions to our Nation count as much… Er, who the hell was that then? Bronze age Britons? The Romans?

It would seem to me that the ones being divisive here are the signatories to  the Telegraph letter. Is iDave being a two faced little PR shit in trying to hoover up every spare vote he can get, including the Christian one? You bet! But if the 55 want to have a go at Potato Face then do it directly, not through knocking what we fundamentally are and have been for over a thousand years… A Christian country.

A little music for a bank holiday that suggested the title of this piece. Bugger Ashton Gardner and Dyke, this is much more fun… Or riseable… take your pick.

The Catholic Mass in 155 A.D.

The Catholic Mass in 155 A.D.

Full disclosure: I really posted this mostly because of the music, but the history is interesting too. :>)

YouTube URL;
Video URL as posted on’s Sept., 2009 directory page

September 30, 2007
Anno Domini 155…

Justin Martyr was one of the early Christian writers. He was a Greek philosopher, and argued his Christian beliefs quite openly with the other philosophers, relying on their common code of being willing to consider all points of view to protect him from official persecution. (Eventually a jealous philosopher did betray him.) He is famous for having sent a letter, The Apology, to the Emperor Antoninus Pius, who was a Stoic philosopher and the father of Marcus Aurelius. Fr. Jay Toborowsky tells how he used Justin in the classroom… [Link to rest of Fr. Toborowsky's piece.]

Read the whole thing at the Anno Domini’s archive page for Sept., 2009.

Things Nick Finds – Cheshire Edition.

There will be a Paris edition which will be more fun. But I have to post this.

But before the piccie some background. I am a Quaker warden (for my sins) and part of my responsibility is to look after a stream that runs through our grounds. Well that is disputed. A couple of years ago there was hell on over who owned what. Hell on between the Quakers and the Church of England*. Neither of course want it but according to B who is a farmer and knows about such stuff the stream is the boundary which when it floods is agro. Of course me, my wife, B and others of our meeting and the owners of the pub which has a car-park in this fight sort it out. The Church of England does the square root of fucketh all. And, they need a new roof. They have posters round the village. They need GBP200K for the roof. Now a little known fact about me is that I like taking pictures of religious buildings. I have some kick-ass ones of various cathedrals and a few mosques. So when I hear the vicar (who is clearly a woman in comfortable shoes but wouldn’t have a lesbian marriage in her parish – we want that because this is Cheshire and not Iran – the state won’t allow it even though the Quakers want it though).

Anyway, I go round the vicarage (very nice house) and I proffer my services with my Sony Alpha 55. It’s win-win. It’s a pretty church and that is fun for me and hopefully it will help the fund-raise so it’s a win for her. We make a date and time. So I show up with all my kit (inc. a tripod) at the time and date and nowt. So I trudge up home. No good deed escapes punishment does it? I try to phone. I dunno – maybe she had a critically ill parishioner but to no avail. She just said that at the time because it was easy. Same way (see *) she pissed me about over this homeless chap. I am not a Christian. I am a Godless Heathen but I’m better than the CofE at providing a bit of comfort to those who don’t have a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of (that’s NYC Jewish BTW). I dropped that camera in the Blue Mosque in Istanbul (it was bollocked but insured to the hilt). No issues there. No imams playing Les buggeurs risible. As an aside in Paris I am allowed to take piccies (they shall follow) in Notre Dame and The Louvre but not in Sacre Coeur or the Musée d’Orsay I is not. In Sacre Coeur (I swear to God) the sign outside says no piccies. OK, disappointing but their gaff, their rules. So I’m wearing the camera round my neck. Of course I am! I’ve been taking pictures of Paris from Montematre but some officious cunt grabs me. I wasn’t going to break the rules and I had even turned the camera off but still I was grabbed – physically grabbed – and told he me to put it in the bag. Utter cunt. He then wanders round going, “Shush!!!” very loudly. Christ almighty! You give some fucker a uniform and minimum wage and you get numpties.

Anyway here is the picture. This is on the boundary.This is pagan fucking idolatry.


Really.This is a soft toy attached to a fence by barbed wire. It is on almost the exact boundary between us and the CofE.

*I fucking hate our CofE vicar. She cast nasturtiums against me for feeding a homeless man. Every Sunday morning I buy milk – and that means seeing the stream up to our gaff and the trickle up to St Mary’s.

So fuck off. I am more a Christian than those fuckers and I ain’t even a believer. Neither are they

What’s happening?

Is this a minor issue in the UK, or is it building into some sort of fuss?

A church has been banned from using a market stall to hold its weekly outreach service following a complaint about “hate-motivated” leaflets published by the group.

The Norwich Reformed Church held a weekly outreach bookstall from the Norwich City Council-owned site on Hay Hill, but has been informed it is no longer allowed to use the stall after the council received a complaint about literature on it. The complaint prompted a review of the materials produced by Reverend Alan Clifford, pastor of the church, and the council contacted police as materials, particularly the leaflet entitled Why not Islam, were considered to be hate-motivated.

Ok, so I had a look at their site. It is told from a particular point of view, and forcefully in some places, but all statements made can be sustained with reasonable arguments.

The thing is, it questions the Religion of Peace narrative – and that is unacceptable in post Christian pretend secular Britain.

Is robust discussion truly being forbidden in the public square?

If so, do you truly believe it is in your interest?

If not, what are you doing about it?

Don’t expect someone else to act. It is your civilisation, it is your freedom of conscience, it is your freedom to speak your mind. They are all being taken from them, and you, slice, by slice, by slice.

You don’t have to support Christian theology in order to support their freedom to preach it. You don’t have to agree with their interpretation of history to defend their freedom to expound it.

Freedom, to have it for yourself you have no choice but to demand it for everyone else as well.

H/T Jihad Watch

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.


Emma Alberici is an Australian Broadcasting Commission journalist. Being employed by the ABC she swims in a sea of intellectual conformity, never has her assumptions tested in lunchroom conversations with colleagues, and assumes her opinions are mainstream.

Then she interviews Melvyn Bragg……

Melvyn is a bit of a lefty isn’t he? How about bowling him a couple of softball questions so he can agree with her opinions about Murdoch and Christianity?

This is one of the few occasions in her life she will have the privilege of dealing with a real honest to God intellectual.

Truly, it’s like watching a fluffy bunny confronting a kind, thoughtful and thoroughly rational Rottweiler.

“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.


“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”.


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.

Rowan Williams – moral heart of the nation or beardie twat?

Dr Rowan Williams has requested a meeting with the Zimbabwean president when he travels to Harare as part of a tour of the south of the continent, according to his spokeswoman.

Dr Williams, who will become the first prominent British representative to visit Zimbabwe’s capital in a decade, is making the journey in an attempt to ”show solidarity” with Anglicans in the region, she added.

In recent months priests are said to have been beaten and arrested by police, staff evicted from church buildings and property seized, while some Anglicans have allegedly been arrested and murdered.

So he’s taking a team of the SAS, the Marines, the Paras, the Girls Brigade?

Some have questioned whether Dr Williams would make the trip due to the violent regime, but Lambeth Palace said there had never been any debate over the matter.

Really? You know if I were to meet a genocidal maniac I’d have a chat with folk first – mainly those who know subtle ways of killing. If I want to buy a Coke – fine but meeting Africa’s foremost dictator (now Muammar is on the back foot) is not buying a Coke.

The Archbishop’s spokeswoman, who confirmed he will also visit Malawi and Zambia during the trip, said the recent persecution is ”more of a reason to go because people need more pastoral care”.

If you ask me they need the heavily armed “technicals” which God hopes will soon be surplus in Libya but Dr Williams didn’t ask me. He never does.

She said: ”The aim of the trip as a whole is a pastoral visit and it’s to show solidarity with Anglicans there, that’s really the aim of the trip.”

So, Dr Williams you’re going to pray with a woman who was raped by Mugabe’s thugs and her husband “disappeared”. That might be an awkward TV opportunity. I appreciate as a Christian (allegedly) you’re more New Testament but in the case of Mugabe might I suggest some smiting might be in order. Just a side order of it.

Because of the 100 trillion dollar notes that were not worth the paper it was printed on.

Because of the “beautification schemes” that destroyed people’s homes. Homes with phone lines and electricity.

Because of this guy…

Who couldn’t buy a Coke even with that. And that is before it went into dazzling levels of mathematics.

Because Mugabe wrecked a prosperous country and reduced it to penury.

Because he said it would be better off with fewer people. Where have we heard that before?

Because of the theft of farms and the resultant starvation in some of the richest agricultural land in Africa.

Because of the torture, the rape, the killings, the Hitler ‘tache.

Because of Grace Mugabe’s shopping trips to Paris which were genuine “Marie-Antoinette moments”. The original never said anything about cake. Mrs Mugabe took a Boeing. For herself entire.

Because Dr Williams you are going to meet a man who kills your flock. And you requested this meeting. Do you think the Chief Rabbi supplicated himself to Hitler in ’39? I know I’m Godwining myself but…

Dr Chad Gandiya, the Bishop of Harare, told The Times he hoped the visit would bring respite to the Zimbabwean Church.

Oh, Hell!

Referring to Dr Williams’ visit he added: ”He is visiting the province. He is going to Malawi and from there he is coming to Zimbabwe. It is a pastoral visit, it is not a political visit.

Dr Gandiya either has a boot on his neck or he is as mad as Dr Williams.

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, cut up his clerical dog collar in 2007 in protest at the regime of President Mugabe, saying he would not wear it again until the president had left office.

Now that is a man you can believe in.

The Pragmatist philosopher William James and the Oslo murderer.

According to the Oslo muderer his favourate philosopher was William James.

Of course the ravings of a mass murderer may not be very reliable – but this favouring of William James seems to have gone back quite some time.

Well who was William James?

William James was an American philosopher known (along with Charles Pierce and John Dewey) as a founder of the “Pragmatist” school of philosophy.

This school of thought set itself up in opposition to both Artistotelianism and to the “Scottish Philosophy” favoured by such philosophers as Noah Porter and James McCosh (see the latter’s “The Scottish Philosophy”).

The central point of Pramatism is that (contrary to both Aristoteliamism and the “Scottish” Philosophy) no such thing as objective truth – as William James put it “the right is just the expedient in our way of thinking”.

William James was an influential writer in “Progressive” religious circles – indeed he was cited more than any other philosopher of the early 20th century. As, in opposition, to the “Fundementalists” he held one did not need to hold any particular doctrine (or set of doctrines) to be objectively true in order to hold a post in a Church (which was very useful for ministers, bishops, academics and so on – who wanted to hold such positions of authority, but did not believe the traditional creeds were objectively true).

Almost needless to say this follower of William James (the arch enemy of American “fundementalists”) was described as a “Christian fundementalist” by the Oslo police (the same people who took over an hour to reach victims begging for help on their mobile phones – victims who were a few minutes helecopter time from the H.Q. of the police in Norway). The moron “mainstream media” followed suit. Even ignoring the murderer’s favourable talk  about “Christian athieism” (I am not going to go into that).

However, the Oslo murderer was not the first person William James had influenced.

For example Sorel (the sickly “apostle of violence”) based his belief that a doctrine did not actually need to be true for it to be worth killing for on the work of William James – true a “myth” was not objectively true, but then nothing was objectively true. So it was O.K. that a myth was not objectively true.

One could make the philosophical attack that if nothing is objectively true how can Pragmatism be objectively true…… but I do not want to be accused of nit picking.

Evidence was piling up against Marxism by the early 1900s – for example about a century of rising wages (when the theory of Marxism predicted that wages would fall over time – hence Karl Marx’s deliberate distortion of what Gladstone said, Gladstone said that wages were rising and Karl Marx dishonestly cites him as saying that wages are falling). Some Marxists react to the ever increasing pile of evidence against Marxism (on this and other matters) by trying to think of rational ways out.

For example, “Lenin” takes the idea of the radical “liberal” Hobson that the reason wages are going up is because overseas colonies are being plundered – this leads to the “Imperialism” theory of Marxism, still (as “neo colonialism”) popular in academic (and other) circles to this day.

However, other leading Marxists choose to just give up the idea of objective truth all together – if nothing was really true (if “truth” is just whatever one desires to be true) then one can “justify” anything.

Mussolini took this course – giving up classical Marxism (he had been the leading Marxist in Italy – and senior to Lenin in international Marxist ranks) for his own subjective socialism based on his desires (and the desires of others) this bacame known as “Fascism”.

It is worth remembering what Aristotelianism and the “Scottish” school have in common – what they both share with such philosphers Ralph Cudworth (in 17th century England) and Harold Prichard, Sir William David Ross (and the rest of the “Oxford Realists” – argueably going up to Antony Flew).

The universe objectively exists independent of my (or your) mind – if a tree fell in a forest and we were not there it would still make a noise (there would still be an air pressure curve).

One exists – I exist (and so do you). The mind (agency – “free will”, the ability to choose) is not just an “illusion” (if the mind does not exist who is having this “illusion”). We are not just objects we are also subjects – human BEINGS (people).

Other minds (other people) also exist. They are not just thoughts in my (or your) own mind, and they are not just inanimate objects (with no moral moral importance than bits of clockwork).

The universe exists – it is not an illusion. One exists also (the mind is not an “illusion”). Other people (other minds) exist, and one can choose what one does or does not do to them. These actions are REAL (not a dream – because the universe is real), are a matter of CHOICE (because the mind exists), and, therefore, one has moral responsiblity for them – for one is a moral agent (a reasoning mind) and other humans are  BEINGS (moral agents – people) also.

Now William James did not go around murdering people – but as his philosophy denies the truth (the objective truth) of all of the above points (holding that “truth” is whatever one wants it to be), it is a perfect philosophy for someone who is going to go out and either support, or commit, mass murder.

For example, does one have to prove any specific crime against people before killing them?

According to Pragmatism – the whole concept of objective truth is wrong, so NO (one does not).

So perfect for Sorel, perfect for Mussolini, and perfect for the Oslo murderer.

“Paul the idea was designed to allow people who did not believe in the objective truth of Christian doctrines to stay Ministers and Bishops – how dare you associate it with mass murder on an island near Oslo”.

Once you discard the notion of truth (or “redefine truth” in a way that makes it without objective meaning) you open the door to horror.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer tried desperatly to explain this (both in Germany and in the United States) in the 1930s, but the “Progressives” choose to ignore his warnings.

Better (a thousand times better) an athiest who believes in objective truth than a “religious” person who does not.

As for claimed links (in thought) between the Pragmatists and David Hume (more than a century before) and the Pragmatists and the Logical Positivists (of their own time and after) – I am not going to go into all that here.

Other than to say that, my opinion is that David Hume asks QUESTIONS (he is a sceptic) he does not make the claim that objective truth (whether in relation to one’s own existance, the existance of the objective universe, and the objective existance of other reasoning and choosing minds – other PEOPLE) does not exist.

However,  I have not studied Hume enough to make a stand – even on this.

The Vatican/The Roman Catholic Church – free enterprise, socialism, or something else?

A little while ago it was anounced that the budgets of the Vatican State and the Papacy (they are counted as two different budgets) were back in balance (after some years of deficits). And this got me thinking about what this institution is – in terms of political economy. And this led to other thoughts about other matters.

In some countries there is still a church tax – although (as with Germany) one can normally choose what church it goes to and (just by filling out a form declarling that one has no religious beliefs) one need not pay the tax at all. So whether it can really be understood as a “tax” (in the normal sense – other than a tax in the time and effort it would take an athiest to fill out the form) is a difficult question.

However, the Vatican (and the Papacy) are not supported by taxation. The Vatican state supports itself by selling stamps and by charging admission to its museums (and so on), but no one has to go to the Vatican – and there is no charge for just entering the Vatican State (or leaving it). So is it the ultimate example of free enterprise (A. Herbert style taxless voluntary state) or is it socialism (as the state owns everything) or is it something else? And do we make a mistake trying to put everything in the world of human interactions into neat little boxes with labels on?

And there is the Roman Catholic Church itself…… the international Church.

Ask a Western “liberal” about the Catholic Church and their first words are likely to be “child abuse”. However,  sex crimes are hardly the full story – although there may well have been increase in them with the laxity of oversight that came with the changes to the Church brought by Vatican II. In that while there were, doubtless, always terrible sex (and other) crimes going on (as with any institutions made up of human beings – sinners) the removal of any real attempt at oversight and discipline from Rome (in the name of “humanizing” the Church and “local autonomy” – i.e. letting local Bishops and so on sort things out, or cover things up, without anyone checking on them) may well have increased these crimes.

Even leftist Hollywood has entertained this possibility – as the film “Doubt” makes clear, the destruction of old systems of checks and balances (in the name of reform) may have done evil as well as good. It may well be that people who were disturbed by Vatican II on political grounds (the opening it,  unintentionally, gave to the Marxism of “Liberation Theology”) should have also been concerned with the opening it gave to non political perversions.

However, even in its darkest days and in its darkest places the Roman Catholic Church was about vastly more than the sins of some its priests. A huge network of schools, hospitals, homes for the old (and so on and so on) were and are maintained by the Church – without (in most nations) any form of taxation, just the voluntary gifts (of money – and time) of believers and the profits from Church investments.

The libertarian writer (and leading Von Mises Institute man) Thomas Woods often tells the story of how he spent his youth looking for an alternative to the state – something that was interested in learning and culture, and in the poor and the sick, in education and in health. And also was on a sufficient scale to actually make a difference in these areas.

And then one day he suddenly understood that what he had been looking for (a nonstatist alternative for people who could not pay for their own education, health, old age….) was staring him in the face all along. The Catholic Church.

Now I am not saying that Thomas Woods was or is correct – but he is no fool (as his writings show) so what he says needs to be taken seriously – even by athiests who hate Christian theology in general and the Roman Catholic Church in general.

Of course there is also a special American factor here. Originally Protestant “fundementalists” were not antiscience – indeed some of the authors of the orginal early 1900′s essays on the “fundementals” of Christiainity (from which we get the word “fundementalist”) were leading natural scientists – including evolutionary biologists (hardly the buck toothed morons of Hollywood depictions of “fundementalists”). Their foe was not science – it was the disguised socialist collectivism of the “Social Gospel” (with its “theological” message that the collective is God – and its practical result of tyranny).

The Fundementalists simply listed the fundemental beliefs of Christians – the virgin birth, the physical resurrection of Jesus… and so on. And asked if the Social Gospel supporters believed in these things – and demanded straight replies (not the mists of words that the Social Gospelists tended to give people).

The Fundementalists also (by stating the core, fundemental, beliefs of Christians) also (by implication) stated what were NOT the fundemental beliefs of Christians – “Social Justice” (i.e. plunder and tyranny – I know the term “Social Justice” can have other definitions, but the implications of the collectivist use of the term are clear), the extermination of all dissent from the self appointed representatives of the collective……and so on.

Now the Fundementalists were not Roman Catholics (far from it – America had no need for some professional virgin in Rome, as they might have put it – if politeness had not forbidden it), but they were learned men, they were devoted to science and learning, and they were politically (as well as theologically) basically sound.

However, over time things have changed (indeed, famously, even by the 1920s things had changed).

Now (according to David Barton the Texas educater and Conservative Protestant) about half of all American Conservative Protestants do not believe in basic science – for example in evolution.

I must be plain in what I am saying – I am not saying that they claim that God picked evolution as the method of creating human beings. I am saying (following Barton and others) that half of American Conservative Protestants do not believe in evolution at all.

Turn on any of the “religion” stations on your television service (if you have one) and look at the output of the Protestant American stations.

The passion is there certainly, the faith is there. But is there any learning? Outside the narrow learning of the text of the Bible itself?

I am not saying anything bad about the study of the text of the Bible – but I am saying it is not enough to study the text of the Bible. It will not tell you about biology, or physics or any other science – and those who claim it does are just flat wrong.

Now compare this output on the Protestant American stations with the output of EWTN (the American Catholic station), the coverage of such things as physics is of the highest quality – without any feeling that their are hidden athiests (Liberation Theology types) at work. Learning is respected – and not just biblical learning.

Now I am not a Roman Catholic many things such as the authority of the Pope and the demanded celibacy of the ordinary parish clergy (as opposed to the Regular clergy – the monks and nuns, who are quite differnet in Christian tradition) hold me back from that. But there is a clear difference between the quality (the very atmosphere) of the Catholic conservatives (in the sense of anti sociaists) and many Protestant ones (in the sense of Protestant ministers broadcasting) – at least in the American context.

An understanding that one can reject the philosophy, (and theology), economics and politics taught by the secular education system (and media) without rejecting learning in general, including scientific learning.

No conclusions – just things to think about.

However, even as a non Roman Catholic I am convinced that the victory of anti socialist (or “anti liberal” as Americans would say) forces over socialist ones within the Roman Catholic church is vital for the survival of Western Civilization – both theologically and spiritually, and in terms of practical political economy.

For Thomas Woods is right about the following – the Church is, overwhelmingly, the most important non state insitution that exists. Without it (should it be destroyed or corrupted from within) hope fades for the West.

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