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Morality

Libertarianism and Conservativism – foes or friends?

F.A. Hayek at the end of his “Constitution of Liberty” (1960) wrote “Why I am not a Conservative” – which is odd as Hayek had (perhaps without knowing it) a good grasp of what actually is a positive conception of conservatism, and a poor grasp of libertarianism.

Hayek rejected the word “libertarian” as “artificial” which is just as well as he was not a libertarian – philosophically or politically.

Philosophically Hayek was a determinist (like so many 19th century and early 20th century thinkers, he assumed that “science” mandated determinism). Hayek took David Hume literally (whether Hume should really be taken literally is a hotly contested issue), the “I” (the human person) is an illusion, as is human choice – a thought does NOT mean a thinker (a reasoning “I”) and as there is no agent (no human being – no reasoning “I”) there is no agency (no free will), actions are predetermined by a series of causes and effects that go back to the start of the universe – and humans (who are not beings) can do no other than we do (we could not have done otherwise – as choice is an illusion).

Politically Hayek claimed to an “Old Whig”, but is hard to see how his philosophical views are compatible with the Whig point of view – which was based on the MORAL value of human free will (it is not an accident that David Hume was not a Whig) . The determinist (such as the Thomas Hobbes) holds that “freedom” is just an absence of external restraint – for example when a dam fails the water is “free” to rush out and destroy towns and so on. “Freedom” (in the determinist view) is not a matter of moral choice (remember choice is an “illusion”) so “freedom” is like taking one’s hand off a clockwork mouse and letting this clockwork mouse go around on the floor. It is hard to see how this “freedom” can be of any moral importance at all – if any view of politics can be based upon it would be a politics of tyranny (exactly the politics that Hobbes did base upon it), after all walls of water from broken dams (and so on) does not sound very nice.

Still does Hayek say anything else about his politics? Yes he does – again in the “Constitution of Liberty” we are told that he supports the “limited state” not the “minimal state”, because (according to Hayek) the minimal state can not be defined and the limited state can be defined.

Hayek is just wrong – the minimal state is easy to define (although very hard to achieve or maintain – an anarchist would argue impossible to maintain or achieve). The definition of a minimal state is one that just uses force only against the violation of the non aggression principle (attacks on the bodies or goods of people or groups of people). It is actually the “limited state” that is hard to define. Limited to what?

Hayek does make some vague efforts to define the “limited state” – for example he says that such a state applies “general rules” that apply to everyone.

O.K. then – everyone is to have their head cut off. Is that a good example of a “limited state”?

Hayek also says that a limited state does not seek to have a monopoly of any service.

O.K. then – everyone but the children of Mr Smith of 25 Silver Street to go to a state school?

Unfair example? O.K. – how about the state hands education and healthcare “free” (at the expense of the taxpayers), but you are free to pay twice (i.e. pay again on top of taxation) to go private? Is this the limited state?

How about you can go to any doctor you like and send your children to any school you like, but the state pays the bill (no matter how big it is), is that the limited state?

Such a state (one that seeks to provide or pay for education, healthcare, old age provision and on and on) will end up spending half the entire economy (and still fail). That does not sound very limited or sustainable – and Hayek (in his attack on the Welfare State) shows he understands this. However, his “limited state” is not defined in a way that prevents it.

Oh dear this post seems to have turned into “why Hayek is crap” which is unfair as anyone (even the best of us) looks terrible if one just concentrates on errors and weaknesses. I will leave the above out if I ever give a talk on this subject (because it sounds terribly negative) – but it needed to be put on record.

So why is Hayek (perhaps without knowing it) insightful about Conservatism?

Hayek’s own definition of Conservatism (given in “Why I am Not a Conservative”) is not good. He just defines it as being opposed to change – so (for example) a North Korean conservative now would be a socialist (or that is the system they have) and a British conservative I (say) 1870 would be a free market person – as this was the system of the time.

Whatever Hayek may have believed that is not a serious definition of Conservatism. But Hayek (again perhaps without knowing it) does give a description of Conservatism – in “Constitution of Liberty”, “Law. Legislation and Liberty” (and other works).

Cosmos not Taxis – spontaneous order (evolved over time) not top down planning. What Hayek called the results of “human action not human design” (it would be have been better to say the results of voluntary action not forced action – but Hayek had philosophical problems with even voluntary design).

Or (in the language of the conservative writer M.J. Oakeshott) a Civil Association not Enterprise Association, a Societas not a Universitas.

Institutions and customs that evolve over time often without people knowing the reasons they are useful – till they are broken.

As Tolkien’s (Tolkien being a Catholic Conservative) character “Gandalf” puts it in the “Lord of the Rings” – “he who breaks a thing to find out what it is, has left the path of wisdom”.

This is what Conservatism is about – a preference for evolved custom and ways of doing things (ways of living) over imposed “rational” planning by the state.

The state (in the Conservative view) is like the Thrain of the Shire (Tolkien’s) and the Mayor.

The Thrain does nothing in peacetime (in war it is different) – he just farms his estate. And the Mayor is the leading figure at formal dinners (like those of the old Closed Corporations that were the only “urban local government” before the Act of 1835 in England and Wales), he does not order folk about. Families govern their own affairs and do not attack each other (police forces were not compulsory on the counties of England and Wales till 1856). There is plenty of (moral – traditional) authority, but little naked “power”.

I think it is obvious show this view of Conservatism is close to libertarianism (hence “Tory Anarchist”) – a friend not a foe. But is it tied to Hayek and his philosophical opinions?

No it is not – which is why I mentioned Oakeshott and Tolkien (two Conservatives with very different philosophical opinions to Hayek). Both Oakeshott and Tolkien believed in free will (agency – moral responsibility, the ability to choose to do otherwise).

Even in the 18th century Conservatives did not follow the philosophical opinions of David Hume (again IF they were his opinions – I repeat this is hotly contested). Neither the Tory Conservative Dr Johnson or the Old Whig Conservative Edmund Burke (a real Old Whig – unlike Hayek) accepted determinism and the denial of human personhood (moral choice – the ability to choose to do otherwise). Edmund Burke and Dr Johnson (the Whig and the Tory) both believed in free will (agency – moral responsibility, the ability to choose to do otherwise) and were moral universalists (not just Dr Johnson – but Edmund Burke also, for the T. Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson view of his is totally wrong, to Burke it did not matter if something happened in the Middle Ages or right now, in India or America – right was right and wrong was wrong).

Is this the only view of Conservatism?

Of course not – there are other views of Conservatism. For example the statism of Disraeli (with his life long commitment to “social reform” – yuk).

However, that is hardly “doing nothing” (against those who do not themselves aggress against others). The Tauist Old King Log sitting in the shade – rather than Young King Stork “helping” his subjects by eating them.

Was it worth it?

We go to war for reasons. For resources, for land, for the hell of it. Sometimes for the very survival of civilization.

The last is the only one I fully back. Now Saddam was vile bastard beyond all possible redemption. Am I sad that he isn’t walking this goodly Earth? No. But…

Iraq (twinned with Iran and Irate) is planning to allow 8 year old girls to get married and also to abolish marital rape.

Nigh on 5000 US personnel have died* for the great task of enabling the freedom of preverts in Iraq to shag girls who haven’t had their first menstrual period. Eight year old girls want to play with dollies** and Lego and stuff. In my country (and the US and all the others) if you have sex with an eight year old girl you go to jail. You get put in the Sir Jimmy Saville Memorial Wing for a very long time. Rightly so.

Now don’t get me wrong. I am not a pacifist. If my land was under threat you’d have to drag me kicking and screaming from the seat of a Typhoon fighter. And, well everywhere I go I visit war memorials. I know my family members have killed and died so basically I can mooch around Europe without a rifle and bayonet. Now that was an appalling cost but it achieved something worthwhile. The legalisation of rape and kiddie-fiddling is not such a cause. It is not one for me or any right thinking person to get their boots on for.

And what right-minded person wants to have sex with a girl that age anyway? Utter sick bastards. They require treatment. I prescribe two spoons and a rusty farming implement. I mean if you don’t and can’t regard the man or woman you have sex with as an equal with absolute agency then what is the point?

We have enabled utter barbarism at the cost of billions of dollars and thousands of lives either wiped out or maimed.

Or to misquote from the end speech at the end of the movie “300″, “We haven’t – at enormous financial, material and human cost singularly failed to ‘rescue a World from mysticism and tyranny’”.

*And a load of Brits and others and God knows how many wounded. And I have recently been watching Prince Harry taking a team of wounded soldiers across the Antarctic. Good on the fella but the wounds are tragic. On folks so young. It is heartbreaking.

**There is a very specific reason I mention this. Aisha was 8 when married to the middle-aged Muhammed.

The Egg Dance

I’ve recently got back from Amsterdam. Now I suppose it is moderately unusual to collapse into giggles in the Rijksmuseum’s section on Dutch 12th-17th Century art but I managed it. This is a detail from the picture that made me laugh…

That is a detail from The Egg Dance by Pieter Aertsen.

What made me laugh though was the caption next to it…

At right, in this brothel, a young man does an egg dance to the music of a bagpiper. While dancing, he had to roll an egg within a chalk circle – without it breaking – and to cover it with a wooden bowl. This ‘pointless’ amusement, along with the dissolute behaviour of the other figures, served as a moral warning against debauchery.

Emphasis mine. I just loved the phrase “This ‘pointless’ amusement”. Sums up life really. Less, seriously though, this was painted in 1552 and I guess you had to make your own amusement back then. The Rijksmuseum does also boast a large collection of impedimenta for drinking games. An inventive (if drunken) lot those renaissance Dutch.

In fact it stuck in my mind so much that upon my return I googled (I think the term is so ubiquitous as to have lost the capital like “hoover” has) the picture. I found this.

Now one of the first things I wondered was why the Rijksmuseum was so sure it was a brothel. To me (and my wife) it just looked like a fairly chaotic party in a home…

At the back of the room an old man is playing the bagpipes. Because of its shape, the instrument often symbolised the male genitalia. In the window is a jug containing a leek, a vegetable of the onion family. A sixteenth-century viewer would immediately have realised that the scene was a room in a brothel. Onions were supposed to be a stimulant. All around lie onion flowers, leek leaves and mussels, which were supposed to have the same quality. It was also thought to be true of eggs, the theme of the painting.

OK, the bagpipes I kinda got already. That’s a bit of a classic (cf Hieronymous Bosch)…

… Or indeed this. It is amazing how, across culture, time and geography, symbolism can be both steady yet sometimes obscure like the leek. Though that might explain the perennial appeal of Sir Tom Jones (or why, as I type, the Welsh are giving the Scots a hammering at the Rugby). This evening I shall be in the peculiar situation of cheering on France). Anyway back to my point.

From the same source (I almost hit “sauce” – hmm…)…

Pieter Aertsen has given this piquant scene a moral message that appears to reflect his own moral reservations. A joker is depicted on one of the wooden boards on the table, left, and on the other a goat jumping. These are cards in a Tarot set. In the sixteenth century everyone would have understood that these symbolised drunkenness and lust. The reel above the fireplace on the right is a sign of folly: in fact ‘reeling’ is still used today to describe a person swaying or staggering from the effects of alcohol.

The Egg Dance is one of the earliest paintings of a peasant scene. The elongated form suggests it was designed to be hung above a fireplace. This kind of genre painting was popular among the burghers of the cities. The moralistic message was often an excuse to paint a piquant scene. Aertsen was also commissioned to paint large religious works for churches. However, many of these were destroyed during the Iconoclast fury.

Emphasis mine. There is something almost reassuring about the continuity of this moral hypocrisy. We see it in modern times with the Islamosphere and the idea that a normally dressed woman is a hussy. And elsewhere.

“…the American girl is well acquainted with her body’s seductive capacity. She knows it lies in the face, and in expressive eyes, and thirsty lips. She knows seductiveness lies in the round breasts, the full buttocks, and in the shapely thighs, sleek legs” and she shows all this and does not hide it.”

- Sayyid Qutb (founder of the Muslim Brotherhood who are currently sexually assaulting “inappropriately hijabed” women and girls in Egypt” describing a Methodist tea-dance in Colorado in 1950.

Qutb apparently died a virgin having failed to find a woman “pure” enough for him. It would be farcical but for the Hell that has followed in his wake.

Or what about the most sanctimonious of businesses – the Co-op and it’s “Crystal Methodist”? The Co-op sells “ethical water” (whatever that might be) and it’s ordained Methodist preacher bank boss was using crystal meth, crack cocaine, ketamine and rent boys. Oh, and the bank had a “black hole” of over GBP1.5bn.

My favouritist newspaper in all the World is of course the Daily Mail which routinely in it’s “News” section includes scare stories about the sexualization of girls and women being driven into eating disorders by being “forced” by the media into looking like models and starlets right next to the “Femail” column (how cute) which is supposed to be about women’s issues (yeah, right). It includes stuff like this all the time.

So, to tie this all together… I’m not sure how but in some sense (and there are different variations but the basic tune is always the same) “elites”* of all descriptions will always find some sort of justification to indulge in the sins they would deny the plebs or… Well, something along those lines. Qutb is an outlier but there is still the same infernal moral arrogance of “I can see this for I am pure but you can’t”. It is the same as the burghers of Amsterdam all those years ago titillating themselves whilst feeling (or pretending to feel) morally superior to the lower orders.

Apparently there are things in the dungeon of the British Library that are so vile they can only be accessed in the presence of a couple of trustees of the British Library and the Archbishop of Canterbury.

I bet Prince Philip has had a gleg…

*A term in political discourse I hate because when I was a lad “elite” meant the SAS and such. And not just gits.

How Not to Be a Libertarian

I put the money quote in boldface ….

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

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

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

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

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

The consequence of bias in divorce

Walking Away

I had an interesting conversation with my friend Jon in the UK the other day, in which he sat down to have a heart-to-heart with his nephew and essentially told him “Don’t get married“.

Although this was in the context of a particular, rather neurotic young lady, his argument was in a wider sense that it is no longer in the rational self interest of a man to enter into marriage with any women as the consequences of making a bad decision are catastrophic for both parties, but more so financially and emotionally for the man due to the inherent bias of Western divorce laws.

(more…)

On the worship of little tin gods

St. Edward of Snowden, patron saint of whistleblowers

In part this comes down to SAoT’s recent post on the death of Nelson Mandela, but mainly from an argument with Perry de Havilland over at Samizdata who appears to be so utterly blinded by the “what” of St. Edward of Snowden’s revelations that he is unable to ask the fundamental question of “why” did he do what he did.

Don’t get me wrong, I am happy that the truth has come out about the NSA’s activities and if Snowden honestly felt that the way he did it was the only way that it could have been done then fair enough.

The problem is I find that the way that Snowden has gone about his revelations has been distinctly dubious.

This may be just the capricious nature of fate ruining the best laid plans of mice and men, but I consider that Snowden’s deliberately outing himself on the front page of the Guardian (when he could have revealed the necessary information without doing so), to be somewhat questionable.

I am uncomfortable with the fact that he is hiding under the coat tails of a country which would probably have killed him if he had committed the same offence there (as they did with Alexander Litvinenko)

I am uncomfortable that he has potentially carried US state secrets into Russia and, if so,  potentially revealed them to their state security apparatus in return for asylum in Russia.

I am uncomfortable about the sheer volume of information that he has in his possession, which he now appears to be either releasing in dribs-and-drabs to keep himself newsworthy or alternately holding back in some vain attempt to keep out of the clutches of the US Government by blackmailing the NSA from a safe haven in Russia.

Now I am, as some of you will know, a paranoid and suspicious son-of-a-bitch by nature and so it is entirely possible that my natural scepticism is preventing me from seeing the inherent beatitude of our glorious brother Snowden who shines his light of truth into the dark corners of the world.

If the general consensus is that I am being unreasonable, I promise to make amends by wearing a tinfoil hat and sitting in the corner murmuring quietly for a week (as if! Can you imagine…? :-) )

Kenyan fiddling with a kid.

Sex attacker is confronted by his victim in Kenyan court… a female GOAT (and he is jailed a record ten years for ‘defiling’ it)

defiling the goat? He’s not precisely covered himself in glory has he either? I mean it might have been a very attractive goat – to other goats but… it’s a goat.

A man who was jailed for 10 years for having sex with a female goat came face-to-face with his victim in a Kenyan court.

The goat watched quietly from the corner of the court room in Malindi while Katana Kitsao Gona, 28, was jailed for bestiality.

I’m really not sure about this story. It is quite possibly the first time he came (oh, er missus!) face to face with said beast. My vague understanding (and I could be very wrong) is the only critters who have sex face-to-face are humans and bonobos. Personally I don’t think he ought to have got chokey. Surely the stare of the goat* and his naming and shaming is enough? I mean that happened a few years back to a bloke from Hull who was caught molesting a goat by a railway line. He was fined (the goat was deemed OK by police vets) rather than ten years in the tank but his career was ruined. He was a chef. Well, who is going to employ a chef who sodomizes goats? And it is sodomy by pretty much any rational definition. Call me odd and all but sex with another human regardless of gender is like whatever. Shagging a goat is basically not OK. Do I have to explain why? And why the Mail has to state prominently that it was a female goat is beyond me. I suppose you just shouldn’t shag the nanny.

Anyway, on with this tale of utter depravity…

According to Jimmy Kimaru, chief prosecutor, Gona was caught sexually assaulting the goat in a bush.

It really doesn’t get better than that. Some of us dream of Brad Pitt or Keira Knightley on a Caribbean beach and some of us fuck goats in the backwoods of Kenya. Admittedly a female goat but quite frankly that doesn’t make a quantum of WTF to me. And why did this vile crime happen?

Gona, who pleaded guilty, told the court his wife is disabled and depends on him daily. Despite this, the judge jailed him for a record 10 years for ‘defiling’ the animal.

Well, as I said before some crimes are in a sense their own punishment. This is a very libertarian stance. Would you employ the goat-fucker of Malindi? No and neither would I. If you were his wife would you not seek a divorce? Obviously you would! There is not a court on the planet that would deny you. I mean an affair with another human might be forgiven but screwing a goat in a bush is simply unforgivable.

And now we get onto arguably the meat of the deal. I think the Dr Who character of Captain Jack is interesting. He is frequently described as “bisexual” but he is is actually “omnisexual” and I think calls himself that. So why does that matter here? He fancies males and females of every bipedal, thinking, speaking race in the Universe. OK, I’m fine with that but a goat is different. What is clever about Captain Jack is a couple of things. The first is there is very little hint in Dr Who of interspecies pregnancies (I’m gonna get called on that) and in that respect it is much more on the biological money than Star Trek (score one for the Brits!) but it acknowledges that sex is not just about procreation. And it acknowledges another thing. If one accepts that (and some don’t) then you have to face a tricky question and Captain Jack answers it very well. He is prepared to fancy different species so therefore he can’t see gender as that important. I think that is interesting. Obviously Captain Jack would never fuck a goat but he kissed both The Doctor and Rose. I guess what I’m getting at is that interspecies sex is acceptable in a fantasy setting (think Beren and Luthien) iff (not an sp) the species are roughly comparable and able to give informed consent and stuff. In short an Elven princess is one thing and a goat is quite, quite different.

Seeing as there is a species difference either way I’m not entirely sure if I can make a solid point here and I have to just really on the “yuk” factor to a certain extent here but… let’s face it making love to Arwen in the Royal Bedchamber of Minas Tirith beats the Hellskis out of goat-fucking in a bush in Kenya.

Pretty much anything beats that. The last time I had a filling beats that.

Quotes from The Mail.

*Goats have nasty stares. I recall an incident on a Greek island in the ’90s when I was surrounded by goats and the leader of the pack – a big billy with horns poised at my scrotum gave me a vile stare. I thought it about to charge and de-bollock me but then the goatherd turned-up. I have rarely if ever been more pleased with a Greek fellow entering stage left. I had also accidentally nearly troden on a snake about ten minutes before which was seriously nonplussed. Beautiful island but full of things that wanted to kill me.

Mozzer strikes again…

If you know The Smiths that’s quite witty.

Morrissey has attacked President Obama and the tradition of turkey-eating on Thanksgiving, in a blog post on his website entitled ‘Thankskilling’.

My sides nearly split with mirth.

Morrissey described the annual lighthearted turkey ‘pardon’ ceremony that Obama takes part in, where turkeys are saved from being slaughtered, as “embarrassingly stupid”.

Well. apart from describing Mozzer as an ageing Ted with a chronic masturbater’s complexion. Yup, the greatest export Manchester ever made… But traditions are “stupid” (aren’t they?) and traditions (pretty much by def don’t include the presidency of Barack Obama – a tradition going back to 2008 is not exactly traditional is it?) It is is silly but then so is wearing a paper crown on Christmas Day. Very silly but Mozzer, we is just trying to have fun – which appear to be something Mozzer who once wrote that real upbeat ditty, “Girlfriend in a Coma” fails to get at any level.

Otherwise I would drone endlessly about the wit and wisdom of Chairman Mao over a buggered tannoy whilst some fucker arse-vogeled a 1980s Casio keyboard to accompany. Without Johnnie Marr you are nothing. Just a (poor) voice wandering alone in the wilderness…

“Please ignore the abysmal example set by President Obama who, in the name of Thanksgiving, supports torture as 45 million birds are horrifically abused; dragged through electrified stun baths, and then have their throats slit. And President Obama laughs. Haha, so funny!”

Do I detect the voice of a left-winger betrayed?

Furthermore, “As Ingrid Newkirk from PETA points out, turkey ‘meat’ is one of ‘our nation’s top killers’, causing heart-attacks and strokes in humans due to saturated animal fats and cholesterol. And President Obama laughs.”

A very strange use of quotes around ‘meat’. Either it is or it isn’t meat. The moral discussion about eating it (or not) is not furthered by scare quotes any more than PETA’s dismal attempt to rebrand ‘fish’ as ‘sea-kittens’*. And in any case eating turkey and having a heart attack is one’s own choice. I can’t stick turkey anyway. Dry and insipid, much like chicken and roast pork.

Morrissey has long been a campaigner for animal rights, vociferously promoting a vegetarian diet – and sometimes tipping into controversy. He said that the 2011 Utoya massacre by Anders Breivik was “nothing compared to what happens in McDonald’s and Kentucky Fried shit every day.”

The news that he is now scheduled to play a Nobel Peace Prize concert in Oslo has upset some in Norway, given his earlier comments.

Well, the Nobel Peace Prize is not worth a penny-weight of Arafat’s giblets really but that is offensive. I am now deeply tempted to obtain a moose burger just for the hell of it!

In 2009 he left the stage at the Coachella festival saying: “The smell of burning animals is making me sick. I can smell burning flesh . . . and I hope to God it’s human.”

Would Mozzer have been happier at Auschwitz than in the vicinity of a hot-dog stand? I’ve been to both in my time. I have also been a vegetarian (sort of – I could never make a chilli that really worked) and am married to a vegan but that casual moral equivalence is appalling. Utterly wrong. It is that sort of attempt at making a KFC the same as a NAZI death camp the reason I fear for the future. That it can even be said is very scary. Killing 6 million Jews is not on the same moral map as getting a hot dog. It is indeed chilling rather than chill dog. Animals of course require our care but they are not us. Up to a point they are moral agents (my cat knows he’s done a bad thing when he pukes on the duvet) but they are not the same. Very similar in many ways but not the same. We once lost Timmy. We were moving and he fled the house due to the disruption at something like the speed of heat.**

He came back after a tense while. We spent an extra day sitting on orange boxes (so to speak) with not even the telly waiting for him. My wife was in tears – there were a number of kebab shops in Levenshulme. Then a paw scratched at the door. That night he insisted on sleeping between us in our bed. So, stick that up your arse-trumpet Mozzer. I do care for animals. And Timmy has a lovely big garden to prowl and get into fights with other cats who invade his territory. He also eats meat for a certain value of meat. He only likes the cheapest stuff in terms of pouches. He’ll go insane if I have fish. I once got some smoked mackerel from Aldi (and very good it was too) and had to exfiltrate the kitty from the bin for he’d gone in head first after the skin. I was alerted by a terrible mewling and the sight of a tail. Daft bugger.

“Bring me the head of Elton John… which is one instance in which meat would not be murder, if it were served on a plate.”

Now, I’m no fan of the Rocketman but might it be apposite to say he’s sold more records than Mozzer? That he isn’t a total twat? And perhaps more to the point, whilst I might want to eat a nice sirloin, Mozzer wants, for whatever obscure reasons (mentioned above) to eat Elton John’s head which is a bit too Heston for me? You’d have to get through the rug first apart from anything else. But you do have to wonder if John’s success over decades in the pop business doesn’t irk the Salford One? Or the fact his HIV/AIDS charity has done more good than Mozzer’s sanctimonious posing? I mean I was never a Smiths fan (and the solo stuff is drivel) but to the extent the Smiths were good was down to Johnnie Marr and not the gladioli-wielding bard of Salford.

At a moral point why is it not allowed to eat critters but OK with people you don’t like? All totalitarianism (and Morrissey is a totalitarian – well, a wannabe one anyway) is about this.

Morrissey is a sort of eternal recurrence of DH Lawrence. The sort of quasi-socialist who hates the “little people” who don’t get him. Lawrence once wrote (and this was published, I think) about how he wanted to set-up a circus big-top and have the lumpen proletariat shoved through to be exterminated to the sound of a band playing popular songs. Yes, he did. I lack refs for it but yes, he did. Is this much different from Mozzer? No it isn’t.

They are both utterly overrated. Check!

They both have chips on their shoulder you could sink battleships with. Check!

They both despise the people they allegedly seek to help. Check!

So that’s that. The quotes are from here.

*An odd one as my little cat loves to eat his sea-kittens. More interestingly, if I have a sea-kitten then we have a Rommel v Patton situation. He’ll lurk then strike but then I am smarter being H sapiens sapiens and he’s Felis silvestris catus. He made an elaborate encircling manoeuvre round the back of the sofa last night whilst I was eating pizza.
**USAF fighter-jockey slang for anything between the speed of sound and that of light.

This is what happens…

… when you invade Afghanistan (for the umpteenth time) and lose about 3,400 coalition dead and God knows how many maimed or traumatised beyond my comprehension or probably yours too. War has a cost and that cost requires a pay-off or it is worse than meaningless. It is obscene. And I’m not even including the Afghans killed in this bizarre attempt to impose the Great God of Democracy within an Islamic Republic (which is how Afghanistan styles it self under the Khazi of Kabul). Leaving aside the bitter irony that the secular US led invasion following Islamist attacks led to to the formation of an Islamic Republic. (I’m saying nothing about Iraq here which is also now styled as an Islamic Republic.)

Anyway, this is what happens…

Afghan government officials have proposed reintroducing public stoning as a punishment for adultery, Human Rights Watch said, even though the practice has been denounced both inside and outside the country as one of the most repugnant symbols of the Taliban regime.
The sentence for married adulterers, along with flogging for unmarried offenders, appears in a draft revision of the country’s penal code being managed by the ministry of justice.
There are several references to stoning in a translated section of the draft seen by the Guardian, including detailed notes on judicial requirements for handing down the sentence. “Men and women who commit adultery shall be punished based on the circumstances to one of the following punishments: lashing, stoning [to death],” article 21 states. The draft goes on to specify that the stoning should be public, in article 23.

Anyone surprised? I’m not. It probably won’t make it into law but the fact this ancient evil is even being discussed seriously is dreadful.

What a terrible waste of blood and treasure. And how foreseeable.

How many Afghan wars has Britain been in now?

Remembrance

I was born in 1973, in Newcastle. There are worse places to be from. Much worse. Mogadishu springs to mind. We Geordies perfected locomotion. They perfected female genital mutilation. I rest my case.

Anyhow, this morning, guess where I was? Of course I was at the war memorial in my little town on the outskirts of Manchester.

I can’t stand the vicar for she is a vile moo (as a Quaker Warden I’m expected to be ecumenical and do some outreach and stuff) but the Rev Margaret is a right witch but like whatever… She conducted a solemn and dignified service today. A soldier played the bugle. There were cops there like Barney Rubble tends to break out in middle-class towns in Cheshire on Remembrance Day? I guess coppers died in the Blitz so fair enough if they were there for that.

This is our war memorial…

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And yes, I wore my poppy. Not with pride but with humility. The first war I recall was the Falklands. That memorial was built in 1920. There is no person alive who fought that but we remember them. Of course we do.

I recall the first British serviceman to die in the Falklands. He was a Harrier pilot and called Nicholas – which is of course partially why I recall it. I don’t think he was shot down. I think he crashed in bad weather.

I remember. I remember lots of things.

And I remember today. Every year. Of course I do!

How William James of Harvard helped undermine moral responsiblity – agency.

Most libertarians (and conservatives) have some idea of the harm Harvard University (in spite of the good elements that have always existed there) has done to the United States and (by extension) the rest of the West.

For example, Harvard (via its relationship with Cambridge in England) helped push Keynesian “economics” thus undermining real economics – and leading to the credit bubble nightmare the world now faces.

Before this Harvard Law School actively discouraged study of the text of the Constitution of the United States and the other writings (showing the intentions) of those who wrote that text – pushing the study of “case law” instead, thus undermining constitutional limitations on government power in the United States.

It is true to say that both in economics and law many other American universities followed the example of Harvard – because of its prestige (based, in part, on its being the first American university and its vast resources).

However, before the harm it did in economics and law, Harvard did great harm in the study of human beings themselves (in what was called the study of the “nature of man”) – in philosophy and psychology.

Once American philosophy had been dominated by those who believed and defended three great principles.

The objective nature of the physical universe.

The objective nature of good and evil.

And the ability of humans to choose between good and evil – that humans were beings (agents) that they had the capacity (if they made the effort – a big “if”) to choose good and reject evil.

Both the Aristotelians who dominated Catholic education and the “Common Sense” thinkers who dominated Protestant education (sometimes called followers of “Scottish philosophy” of John Reid and so on – although the principles go back to 17th century thinkers such as Ralph Cudworth and before).

Harvard took the lead in attacking these principles – by the rise of the American “Pragmatist” School.

The “Pragmatists” are best summed up in the words of William James (one of the leading members of the group) “the right is just the expedient in our way of thinking” – and by this William James meant both “the right” in the sense of truth (there was no objective truth – whatever it was useful to be “true” was “true”) and in the sense of “good and evil” (right and wrong – in both senses), to the Pragmatists objective good and evil did not exist – they were “myths” just as objective truth was a “myth”..

The European “philosopher of violence” Sorel, was later to make use of this doctrine of “useful myths” – what did it matter if one told lies (to incite violence) if truth and lies did not really exist? If what was “true” was just what was “useful” to  the cause.

Mussolini did the same thing – what did it matter if both reason and evidence had refuted socialism? So much for reason and evidence! He might move from strict Marxism (because it was too easy to refute – at least for people who believe in such things as objective truth), but his new form of socialism (“Fascism”) would do – it would be based upon “myths”  and if there was no objective truth. lying was O.K. (indeed a new “truth”).

One can even see this in the writings of the Oslo murderer (he wanted his name to be famous – so I never use it) – William James was his most favoured philosopher (on his Facebook page – before it was taken down). So what if the people he murdered were unarmed kids – if his “truth” was that they were armed foes, and he was a “Knight Templar” was not his “truth” as valid as the “truth” of anyone else? And was not his “good” (murdering unarmed kids) not as valid as the “good” of anyone else?

Not even religious people were immune from the spell of William James – as Dietrich Bonhoeffer pointed out, one was more like to hear the name William James than Saint James in the Churches of the Progressives.

How can it be objectively wrong to murder millions of helpless people – if there is no such thing as objective wrong (or objective right)? Besides it is not convenient to try and save the helpless people being murdered – one might be hurt (or even killed) trying to save them, so it may be “your truth” that they should be saved, but it is not “my truth”.

Besides “modern scientific thought” had “proved” that one could not choose between good and evil (which do not objectively exist anyway) – choice is an “illusion”, one is really controlled by impersonal social forces of “class” and/or “race” in one’s “historical period”.

The Schoolmen (the scholastics) had been fond of saying “natural law is the law of God – but if God did not exist natural law would be EXACTLY THE SAME” – the “new” way of thinking (actually this evil is as old humanity – but I will not go into this here) held that natural law (right and wrong, good and evil) did not really exist for the religious or for atheists – and that (even if they did exist) humans were not beings (not agents) and could not choose between them anyway – choice (morality) being an “illusion”.

Thus the fury (righteous fury) of Dietrich Bonhoeffer with the “Christians” who either murdered the innocent (after all “what is innocence?” said the smooth talking scum) themselves, or stood by and did nothing as the innocent were murdered in front of them.

And it was not just in Germany. in the United States the eugenics movement was welcomed by the “religious progressive” – both the holding down and cutting up of women for being “inferior” (only Justice Pierce Butler, the “arch reactionary”, voted against forced sterilisation – the other eight Justices on the Supreme Court thought it was fine) and even plans to actively exterminate the “inferior” – even if this “inferiority” was actually a “useful myth”.

And even if is evil (although objective evil does not exist……) we do not “really” choose our actions – choice is just an “illusion” (so it is not my fault that I pushed these children into the gas chamber and then murdered them).

But how did William James (and his “intellectual” friends) undermine moral responsibility – agency. the courage to choose good and reject evil? To stand against the “social forces”?

How did the philosophy (and the psychology) of “Common Sense” thinkers such as James McCosh (the once famous President of Princeton) and Noah Porter (the once famous President of Yale) get replaced?

One looks in vain for in “Psychology” (1892) for a formal refutation of (for example) Noah Porter’s “The Human Intellect: With An Introduction Upon Psychology And The Soul” – which, before the work of William James, was the standard work on psychology in the United States. Indeed the name “Noah Porter” is not even mentioned in the book.

Instead we get this……..page 457 “Psychology” by William James (1892).

“But a psychologist cannot be expected to be thus impartial, having a great motive in favour of determinism. He wants to build a Science; and Science is a system of fixed relations. Where ever there are independent variables, there Science stops. So far, then, as our volitions may be independent variables, a scientific psychology must ignore that fact, and treat of them only so far as they are fixed functions. In other words, she must deal with the general laws of volition exclusively; with the impulsive and inhibitory character of ideas; with the nature of their appeals to the attention; with the conditions under which effort may arise, etc.; but not with the precise amounts of effort for these, if our wills be free, are impossible to compute, She thus abstracts from free-will, without necessarily denying its existence. Practically, however, such abstraction is not distinguished from rejection; and most actual psychologists have no hesitation in denying that free-will exists.”

The word “psychology” goes back to Ralph Cudworth in the 17th century – the great defender (against Thomas Hobbes) of human agency, the great denier that humans were just machines (not beings). And. by the way, the great attacker of the “chopping up” of the human mind between “will” and “reason” ( a perhaps mistaken practice of the scholastics). Noah Porter (the most famous writer on psychology in America ) had only died a couple of years before this book by William James was published, James McCosh (the great “Common Sense” philosopher) was actually still alive (he died in 1894). Reason (agency) had defenders (at that time) in almost every university in America – yet William James comes out with this tissue of lies – and that is what (thanks to Harvard – and its influence) future generations of students would be taught.

I will now translate what William James wrote into English – I will give its “practical” sense, to use his term. “Practically” (without his cowardly evasions – such as “without necessarily denying its existence”).

Humans are not beings, human volition (agency) does not exist. Humans are just machines – all of whose actions are predetermined. There is no real “choice” (it is an “illusion”). There is no moral difference between a human and a clockwork mouse. And we need not be concerned with enslavement of humans by the state – because humans are slaves (indeed machines – not beings) by nature anyway.

The utter denial of human freedom – no agency, no moral responsibility.

The victory of evil – total and absolute.

That is at the heart of modern academia (of “Nudge” by Cass Sunstein and all the rest of it) – and it came long before (indeed was the cause) of the corruption of such things as law and economics.

Why should humans make the great effort (suffer the terrible pain) required for agency (for standing against evil) if this is impossible? If humans are not really beings (not really agents) at all.

This is the heart of evil.

When Two Twats Go to War.

Apparently Jezza and Piers have been feuding for 13 years.

Battle of the big-heads: Fisticuffs. Hissy fits. For 13 years, Jeremy Clarkson and Piers Morgan have waged a hilariously juvenile feud… and now it’s hit new depths

I would question the use of hilarious here for they are both epic bell-ends. As you can imagine it isn’t Oscar Wilde and James Whistler.

Apparently… Piers Morgan calls Jeremy Clarkson a ‘muscle-depleted Chihuahua’.

Ohh… man-bags at the ready. The only thing that needs to be depleted here is the uranium in the shells from the A-10 used to turn them into force-meat. Or how about this…

Round four: October 2003
The supersonic passenger jet Concorde makes its final scheduled flight for British Airways from New York to London. Among the celebrities onboard are, yes, Piers Morgan and Jeremy Clarkson.

Despite the fact that Clarkson has told other passengers that Morgan ‘is a little ****’ and he’s going to ‘punch his lights out,’ BA put Clarkson in the seat directly in front of Morgan. As Clarkson takes his seat he says, ‘Oh, ******* hell, I’ve got a **** behind me.’

‘And I’ve got one in front of me, too,’ Morgan replies. Further potty-mouthed badinage ensues and Morgan taunts Clarkson: ‘Come on big man, show me what you’ve got.’

Clarkson then tips a glass of water over Morgan, much to the amusement of fellow passengers, including Joan Collins and Jodie Kidd.

Later Clarkson calls Morgan while the latter is chauffeured back from Heathrow. ‘This is all getting very silly. Let’s put it behind us. Please,’ he says. But is the feud put behind them? Not for long.

I have seen such “hilarious” antics before on a flight. It was a budget airline from Prague to Manchester. Some lads in front of me decided to be generally obnoxious and ultimately staged a farting contest in a row just ahead of me and my wife. They were “telt” by the Flight attendants in no uncertain terms to pipe down or there would be a taxi with flashing blue lights to greet them at Ringway. They shut it because they were “proles” so bad behaviour isn’t “hilarious” unlike with “celebs” like Jezz and Piers. The Flight Attendents looked more like nightclub bouncers than “trolly dollies”.

Round five: March 2004
Morgan and Clarkson both attend the British Press Awards. A thoroughly refreshed Clarkson makes his way to the table where Morgan, who has just begun his TV career alongside editing the Daily Mirror, is sitting.

‘Now that you’re in my world of telly, I can tell you you’re ****,’ the Top Gear star remarks.

A heated conversation ensues, in which Morgan sees Frances Clarkson, staring daggers at him from her table. ‘Why does your wife always blame me for everything you do?’ he asks.

Clarkson is outraged. He swings a right hook at Morgan, followed by more blows, hitting Morgan’s temple and forehead.

The following day, Morgan tells reporters: ‘He then tried to headbutt me — missing my nose by about an inch. I think it’s fair to say he was a little inebriated. I’ve frankly taken worse batterings from my three-year-old son.’

Clarkson admits: ‘He’s won really. This is just one in a long line of clashes. We’ll have to kiss and make up.’

And there is much more “antics” between these two.

Apart from the simple fact they fight like girls if you or me had done this we’d have another appointment with the paddy wagon Indeed if you or me had done this we’d be accused in The Mail of “The sort of yobbery that is typical of ‘Broken Britain’” and not of “hilarious” japery.

For the record I used to find Clarkson May and that little fella’s antics amusing but he’s just become a pathetic self-parody of himself who has jumped more sharks than an Orlando water-park does in a season. I mean how many ways can the Top Gear lads wreck a caravan – again. Morgan is though just a total and utterly irredeemably unmitigated cunt of the very first water.

But when two such “characters” go to war you don’t pray for a victory, you pray for a bipartisan dual smiting in the Biblical sense.

And you also wonder at the Mail thinking this light-hearted hi-jinks. I suppose because neither are Rommanians coming over here to get a job in Burger King.

The Daily Mail are deranged gits as well. The great myth of many that immigrants are a “burden” perplexes me but that’s for another post. I’d much rather have a Bulgarian nurse and a Romanian waitress over here than Jezza and Piers. I doubt though Sofia or Bucharest would play swapsies. I wouldn’t.

Aussie Girls Know all the Words to Songs By Chaka Khan.

It would be very easy to see this as a “funny” and dismiss it. It is not. It is deathly serious.

I sound like Professor Snape.

Anyhows this is the story…

An Australian civil servant has lost a bid for compensation for an injury incurred while she was having sex during a work trip.

The woman was injured when a light fitting fell on her and a colleague while they were having sex in a motel.

The claimant initially won compensation from government insurer Comcare.

But the High Court overruled that judgement, saying the woman’s employer had not encouraged her to engage in the activity that led to the injury.

Final ruling

The woman says she suffered damage to her nose, mouth and a tooth and psychological trauma after the light fitting was pulled from its mount.

But after a lengthy legal battle, four of the High Court judges ruled against the woman, with one judge dissenting.

“When the circumstances of an injury involve the employee engaging in an activity at the time of the injury, the relevant question is: did the employer induce or encourage the employee to engage in that activity?” the court said.

“On the facts of the respondent’s case, the majority held that the answer to that question was ‘no’.”

The woman, who has not been named, has no further right to appeal.

And neither should she. That this got to the High Court rather than was laughed out of it is astounding. I have worked for gubbermunt at times and had sex and like whatever! What I do on my own dial is my job. What I do on the government is there’s. I once had rampant sex in a motel in the Florida pan-handle whilst watching “Grease 2″ If the candelabra had collapsed during the proceedings then…

OK, the BBC story carries two incompatible facts (and this is important which is why I bolded them). Either the light fitting fell out during this sexual escapade and then it perhaps ought to be the motel on the hook for the compensation or it was “pulled out” which means the motel ought to be be claiming from these two sorts for wrecking the room by swinging (literally) or something. What it has to do with the government is beyond me. And that one judge ruled the other way makes me despair.

Seriously this is a civil case involving either injury due to a poorly maintained motel or sexual antics that damaged that motel. God alone knows what it has to do with the gubbermunt!

And it is Gorton Girls who know all the words to songs by Chaka Khan. The graffiti is all over SE Manchester. Ever been to Gorton?

Don’t.

Darwin, Pauli & Stuff…

I have a strong interest in biology. I actually started a biology degree but switched to physics. I have some issues with Darwinism. No I am not a creationist but I tend to think the views of folk like Lynn Margulis got side-lined and I can’t stand Dickie Dawkins. OK Margulis was mad as a box of frogs on some stuff but whatever! She was almost certainly right with symbiotic development of eukaryotic cells. And then some weird stuff in evolution is down to maths more than just pushy little replicators slugging it out (that’s quite a good joke, actually – though not at a club at 2am which is packed with sluggy and pushy little wannabe replicators). Yes, slime molds are fascinating examples of self-organisation. They ain’t pretty but neither are engine rooms. I have a maths book somewhere which deals with the way they organise. Apparently it is dead easy to write a computer program to model them. Basically they operate more like a society than a single organism. Truly bizarre but then so is a jellyfish which you can stick in a blender and then can spontaneously reform.

Biology is very strange. And we are only now starting to be getting the full sp and it is hideously mathematical (and I like maths). A maths student I knew at university was doing a PhD on cancer angiogenesis – cancers developing their own blood supply! I saw his talk on it and left feeling not 100% – and I was not alone. Like I said down in the basement there are some very unpleasant things. To say nothing of the woodshed. I guess at some level I kinda thought if I stick with biology I might get a disease named for me (and probs a very unpleasant one) but physics! Ah, you can get a star named for you. I was a romantic youth. Still am.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not dissing Darwin who had a truly profound insight into the Universe. But of course he didn’t get the full toffee apple – nobody ever does. Not even Newton and in many ways Darwin was biology’s Newton. Before him it was all myopic vicars hunting butterflies and pinning them up or some such. Chemistry is mainly buggering about and trying to make epic pongs – which is why we have mainly left it to the Germans. As a kid I did a chemistry masterclass thingie in the Easter hols at Newcastle University and some student at some point had scrawled in a way that suggested some form of abysmal moral torment the phrase, “Chem is wank” on my desk. Oh, it’s useful and I’m glad other people do it but A-level was my limit and I guess seeing my teacher blow the bejesus out of the fume cupboard doing the thermite reaction (now banned in schools) straightening his tie and saying in very calm tones, “Um, quite a vigorous reaction” was enough. But this is getting off topic. It was hilarious though. And he was a good teacher. 25 years later I recall that lesson. If only we’d had facebook then that moment would have been immortal.

Anyway…

This blog has collected a load of comments by creationists from tweets, blogs and whatever. The unmitigated pignorance of them astounds me. It isn’t so much they are wrong. They are in the words of Wolfgang Pauli, “nicht ganz falsch”. They are not even wrong. Hey ho! Let’s go!

@Yhwh_TheLord so then why do women have babies if we can just evolve fRom um whatever you think we evolved from?

You to old to believe in evolution. If we came from monkeys, why are there still monkeys. are they the stupid that couldn’t evolve?

I’ve never seen an animal or a micro organism become a human. So that evolution shit is out the window for me.

Evolution is atheism. It’s not science, but an impossible, unrealistic, unbiological, invented process in order to remove God from equation.

And it goes on. And on.

So why am I blogging it? I have a long-term hatred of what can be called the science/religion debate. Putting the two in opposition has never made any sense to me. It doesn’t stop folk though. I’m sat having lunch at Lenton Hall University of Nottingham in 1993 and this git sidles, yes, sidles up to me and gets chatting. Well he’s a missionary and he rapidly turns around the meet and greet into, “Well if you come back to my room I have an excellent 20 minute defence of religion against science.” I politely but firmly declined. Should I have added that many people on my physics course were religious? Nah, that obvious fact never works with these folks. Then there was the head of the Christian Union who used to organise five-aside footy and at half-time once came out with, “You know in many ways God is like a football”. What fatuous guff! How precisely is God like a football? I mean some of the greatest minds of all time have wrestled with the question of the existence and nature of God and he comes out with that utterly meaningless toss! So fuck you Descartes! God is like a football because Robin said so (he was a twat BTW – an epic twat – a twat’s twatter of a twatting twat). There was a nervous silence and a lot of folk looking at their boots until someone suggested we just get on with the second half – thank God! Need I say quite a few of us were Christians. Not me but a few of the lads. They were even more deeply embarrassed. God is like a football – oh Pity Me! (a village in County Durham BTW).

There is no real clash between science and religion because fundamentally they are about different things. I can tell you (roughly) how a hydrogen bomb works but a priest can tell you whether it should be used. It’s very much like asking a plumber about the wiring. This is not to say I don’t have ethical viewpoints and it is not to say the priest might not have a strong interest in scientific matters (note vicars and flutterbies -as my Gran used to say) it is just that they aren’t the same thing and when people attempt to conflate religion (or especially quasi-religions such as National Socialism or Communism*) with (usually pseudo) science very bad things tend to happen.

Science says how things are and how to do ‘em. It should have next to no input in the moral dimension. It doesn’t say what ought to be done. That is for all of us as moral human beings to decide. By the same token religion (and moral stuff in general) ought to take note of science and not see it as a threat. Moreover the fusing of the two is a terrible idea and the instrument of totalitarians because it makes us objects to play with in the lab. And an invented (note I reffed Pseudo science earlier) lab at that. Science and religion fill two very different human needs and arguing the toss about which is better is like arguing whether pizza is better than Coca-Cola. You might ask a bishop in a moment of spiritual doubt but you’d ask an engineer or physicist if your PWR looked shonky. And vice versa. And the same applies to all religions (or moral codes) as it does to the sciences. You wouldn’t (even though she was a scientist) ask a botanist to look at your iffy PWR any more than you’d ask a nuclear scientist to tell you the best way to get rid of the crop-infection on your farm.

Science versus Religion is possibly the greatest nicht ganz falsch in the history of thinking. Yet it goes on.

H/T Infidel753

* The Sovs were not exactly into “racial realism” but did some bizarre stuff. They had women volunteer to be inseminated with gorilla semen because Stalin wanted to cross-breed a race of invincible Planet of the Apes style warriors and workers. And yes, I do mean they genuinely volunted for the socialist cause which is the really spooky bit. Utterly bent out of shape. Here’s your monkey baby says the midwife before taking it off to the research facility 214 for “studies”. Of course it didn’t work because “perverse science” is never “correct” in any sense of the word. The very idea that Darwinism leads to communism is twisted because communism lead to Lysenkoism and attempts at disgusting cross species mating (which can’t by definition work anyway – OK up to a point it can: mules, ligers etc but human/gorilla is really pushing the envelope). Anyhoo it doesn’t take away from my point that science is morally neutral. It is. It can be twisted though. Not to put too fine a point on it this is exactly why we need different modes of thought – not just science or pseudo-science. That is why religions and other moral concepts exist and need to. Because to put a very blunt point on it any quantity of knowledge on the structure of the atom or the structure of DNA says nothing about why you shouldn’t rape, murder or steal. That is a moral question and just as religion should keep out of science science has nothing to say about religion or morality and nor should it try to. And as to “science” impinging on politics – God help us!

A Reply to Paul Marks.

You won’t get me now or ever to swear on the Bible, the Torah, the Qu’ran, the collected works of JK or anything else.

My word is my bond. Simples.

I would shed blood, tears and toil to defend my village (on the outskirts of Manchester) and if people of any faith or none (such as me) bled, sweat and toiled with me to save my England and their England then I would gladly be at their side – regardless of their faith. Our country is far from ideal but it ain’t Somalia. And that is worth fighting for. I mean the only time I was a pirate was playing the Sid Meier game “Pirates” and that was on a Commodore Amiga.

I would try to avoid dying for my country* but if push comes to Noel Chavasse I’d like to think I would stand. I would probably be bloody useless on the frontline but I would stand. I’m more a backroom lad. But that is by the by and every spear needs a shaft. And I am part of the shaft.

Yes, I, un-baptised heathen though I am, would fight, kill and die for England. It is my country. And there are much worse places to come from. I could have been Yemeni – that would have been hilarity wouldn’t it?

I don’t believe in God (well I am a Spinoza-ish pantheist – sometimes) but asking me to swear an oath to God is just wrong. And it is wrong because the meat of it is swearing something I do believe in (such as telling the truth ot being a loyal soldier) but but swearing it by something I don’t believe in would make a total mockery of an oath I would wish to swear with utmost solemnity. Not least because if I went into battle I also wouldn’t want the person next to me to have sworn an oath he or she didn’t believe in either…

I don’t believe in God. I do believe in the defence of the Realm. If I became a soldier, sailor or airman why should I have to add on a belief in something I just don’t believe in and moreover would not that make my deep oath utterly meaningless? Anyhow, why can’t agnostics fight! Or atheists? Why does disbelief in God mean disbelief in everything?

* “No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor, dumb bastard die for his country.” General George S Patton.

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