Socialism has been tested out more times and in more variations than probably any other social system. It has been implemented in every continent, every culture, every stage of economic development. It has always led to disaster, to the extent it has been implemented. If you’re lucky, your country gets off with a mere economic crisis, as in Greece. At the worst, your country is in for decades of living hell.
– Robert Tracinski
If you think a lot of TV and live comedy shows have got tired recently, then I think this fellow, a columnist at Bloomberg, could stir things up a bit, albeit without realising it:
Voters in the major continental nations may get angry and disappointed — say, with French President Francois Hollande’s feckless leadership or with the recent inflow of refugees from the Middle East — but they don’t get desperate enough to vote in a Donald Trump or to inflict Brexit-style turmoil on their countries.
– Leonid Bershidsky
Absolutely, Mr Bershidsky, voters in France, for example, continue to elect people who preside over the grandeur, nay, the stability, of double-digit unemployment, of all those jolly car-burning festivals that so enliven the outskirts of Paris or Marseilles. And they vote for the sort of structures that will admit a country such as Greece, or for that matter, Italy, into a single currency predicated on economic fundamentals that are for the fairies.
But hey, they don’t vote to leave a transnational progressive union with centralising intent, and they don’t vote for property developers from Queen’s. So I guess Europe’s okay then.
Where the hell does Bloomberg find these people?
Too busy to blog substantively as it is St. George’s Day …
St. George, doing his best to rid the world of endangered species
God’s Own Lunch
Gin and Marmalade cocktail (sort of a mutant Gimlet)
Have a room with a large number of people with one political opinion, and they may mistake that for objectivity
– Perry Metzger, remarked in a samizdata chat channel relating to this post.
Here is a fun little article in The Independent about psychiatrists who think Donald Trump is mentally ill, and it is their professional duty to warn people. They are saying this sort of thing:
I’ve worked with murderers and rapists. I can recognise dangerousness from a mile away. You don’t have to be an expert on dangerousness or spend fifty years studying it like I have in order to know how dangerous this man is.
This sounds like complete nonsense, but it turns out that “clinical evaluation for predictions of future dangerousness, have become integral to the function of the legal system” — so it is qualified nonsense.
I don’t know about psychiatry; one commenter dismisses it as junk science. Most of the other commenters think it is a bit silly to attempt to diagnose a politician from viewing public appearances.
I think experts, especially when direct measurement of the phenomena is impossible, have a tendency to mistake shared opinions for objectivity. Politics amplifies that effect. See also climate science.
With the Tories overtaking Labour to provide the main opposition in Scotland to the dominant Scottish National Party, disability activist Fiona Robertson has decided to embark on some swing voter outreach:
When I and my fellow disability activists woke up on the morning after the last General Election, we spent an unrelenting few days tag teaming as we tried to keep people in our community alive. We were not always successful. Over and over, hour after hour, we saw iterations of the same message: “I do not think I will survive this government.”
The day of the election, we had all taken a few moments to remember the people who were not there to vote because of the actions of the coalition government. We took a moment to think of the people who would not make it to the next election if we lost.
Amid the elation so many in Scotland felt at the sweep of SNP seats, we disabled people also felt utterly betrayed and hopeless, because the population of the UK had voted to enforce extreme, frequently lethal, damage to our health.
If you do it again, if you do this to us again, we will never forgive you. You can’t pretend you don’t know, you can’t pretend that other things are more important, that it’s not the killing of disabled people you’re voting for really; it’s the other stuff.
News reaches us from Russia, that, despite 70 years of Leninism and now an assault by the Cultural Marxists, notions of equality do not appear to be taking off at Aeroflot, reportedly with a fleet of newish aircraft, now Russia most powerful ‘brand’ (surely ‘Kalashnikov’, but I digress).
Russia’s flagship carrier Aeroflot is fighting a legal battle with several of its female flight attendants who say it favours slim and attractive cabin crew.
One case has been thrown out of court. The concept of someone actually needing to be up to the job appears to have survived in Russia.
The company argues that every extra kilogram of weight forces Aeroflot to spend more on fuel.
Its application form for would-be flight attendants requires details of height, weight and clothing size.
Staff have to meet a minimum height requirement because they need to store hand luggage in the overhead lockers, Aeroflot says.
The fuel penalty was quoted as every extra kilogram of weight costing an extra 800 roubles (£11; $14) annually on fuel, but Aeroflot has other points.
‘…a survey carried out for Aeroflot showed that passengers preferred attractive flight attendants and agreed that an airline had a right to stipulate weight limits and clothes sizes for its staff.
Perish the thought that the fat and the short are not wanted, it’s all down to job-need.
In one case, the complaint is stark.
Ms Ierusalimskaya, aged 45, wants Aeroflot to pay her 1m roubles (£14,000; $17,750) in compensation, Russia’s Kommersant news reports. Her clothes size is 52 (XL, under the international system).
She said the airline had transferred her to domestic flights, cutting her income. She complained that Aeroflot’s rules required stewardesses to be at least 160cm (5ft 3ins) tall and have a clothes size no larger than 48 (L; 16 in UK; 42 in Germany; 14 in US).
Aeroflot’s point of view:
“A heavy physical build makes it harder for a flight attendant to move around the cabin and provide a smooth service for the passenger,” an Aeroflot official told the court.
Quite, you can’t have stewardesses so wide that they would need to be punted down the aisle with a trolley, that’s just not safe.
But a Russian Trade Unionist, helpfully called Boris, is on the warpath.
Boris Kravchenko called Ms Ierusalimskaya’s case “an unprecedented case of sex discrimination”. He is a member of President Vladimir Putin’s Council for Human Rights, and chairs the Russian Labour Confederation.
“The trade unions in this sector have teeth,” he said, warning of possible strike action “if such discriminatory behaviour persists”. He was speaking to Russia’s RBC news website.
Boris is keeping rather quiet about what happened to women with Beria it seems.
Now does this resistance to PC blandishments augur well for Russia, in that it might have a cultural meta-context where, if other silly and evil notions of statism and/or banditry can be got rid of, it might lay the basis of a free and prosperous commonwealth? And are we in the West closer to that goal?
Guido quotes ex-UKIPer Douglas Carswell, who is stepping down as an MP, and who will, he says, be voting Conservative in the general election:
It is sometimes said that all political careers end in failure. It doesn’t feel like that to me today. I have stood for Parliament five times, won four times, and helped win the referendum last June. Job done. I’m delighted.
Unless: Carswell’s political career has not, despite his present protestations, actually ended, and his actual political career is yet to end. In failure.
Guido’s early commenters say that the Conservatives wouldn’t let Carswell back in, i.e. let him fight a seat for them, and that the UKIPpers are all fed up with him, in short that his career is even now ending in the very failure that he says he does not feel. But I think it altogether likely that Carswell is telling the truth. Carswell switched to UKIP at just the moment when UKIP itself was migrating towards being a slightly nicer National Front. Remember when UKIP used to be rather libertarian? The way Carswell still is? I do.
But I also agree with Carswell that getting out of the EU was far more important than whatever other policies UKIP says it has. A rat, say those commenters, leaving a sinking ship. I partly agree. UKIP is indeed sinking. It had just one important policy and that is now happening. UKIP agrees with itself about nothing else, and is already disintegrating. You would only vote UKIP now to make quite sure that Britain does indeed leave the EU. But once Britain really has left the EU, UKIP will become a mere echo of a very remarkable but now passing moment in British political history. Oh, the remains of UKIP will stagger on for a few years. Political parties in decline always take for ever to vanish completely. But already, British voters are asking: What is UKIP now for? What does voting UKIP now mean? And they are getting about twenty different answers, depending on which UKIPer they ask, which is the functional equivalent of no answer at all.
LATER: I just listened to that entire conversation, linked to above (here it is again), between Carswell and Mark Littlewood of the IEA. The biggest news in it, for me, is that, following Brexit, Carswell’s next target is the fiat money banking system. I wish him well. I hope that effort does not end in failure. A man of his talent and his connections could make a big difference.
Tim Newman does a fine job of fisking at length an article by Rachel Nuwer on the BBC (natch!) titled: How western civilisation could collapse.
Tim is not impressed…
Here’s my suggestion: allow British citizens to keep their money in their pockets instead of forcing them to shell out £3bn per year for the BBC to publish garbage like this. A more humane gesture I cannot imagine at this juncture.
Read the whole thing.
Ah, stop pretending to be above it all. If you are on the UK electoral roll, who will you vote for? If you are not, who would you vote for?
Who will win is scarcely worth discussing. But, as the post from politicalbetting.com I linked to says, there are a few questions to which the answer is not so certain:
Can she satisfy the fixed-term parliament act in the vote tomorrow?
Will Mrs May receive any backlash, like Gordon Brown, for going back on her word on holding an early election
If she loses the vote, what then?
If the SNP put in their manifesto Scotland should have Indyref2 next year, and they win a majority of votes or seats in Scotland, how can Mrs May refuse, Mrs May might have put the Union at risk. (It also damages her argument against holding an Indyref2?)
If Corbyn gets creamed at the general election, will he continue as Labour leader? This might be the easiest way for Labour rebels to get rid of Corbyn.
In Justin Trudeau’s Canada, if I mention the Islamist ties of Akbardzhon Dzhalilov, the 22-year-old suspected of carrying out the subway bombing that killed 14 in St. Petersburg, Russia on Monday, am I guilty of Islamophobia?
What if I also mention that Khalid Masood, the man who mowed down scores of pedestrians, killing three, and stabbed a police officer to death outside the British Parliament last week, was a convert to Islam? Am I guilty of a crime against Canada’s new politically correct speech codes?
I admit, what constitutes a Muslim terror attack is not always black-and-white. Was London’s Masood driven by Islamist fervor or by his long, troubled criminal past? Or maybe a bit of both?
– Lorne Gunter
Canada has been heading in this direction for a while now, part of a growing list of nation states denying one of the most most fundamental civil liberties: freedom of expression.
After reading an unrelentingly grim article by Suzy Hansen, describing the collapse of the rule of law in Turkey in the aftermath of the failed coup in July 2016, I noticed one problem with what had been written.
I recalled a dinner in Istanbul with a couple bon vivant UN diplomats, less than a week before the abortive uprising. During our congenial discussions, fuelled by some excellent Turkish craft beer, the three of us realised that we were using terms like ‘right’, ‘left’, ‘nationalist’ and ‘conservative’ to mean rather different things as we were British, Turkish and Czech respectively. By Turkish definitions, as I was neither religious nor nationalist, I was automatically on the left, regardless of the fact I am a laissez faire free trader. The Turkish chap ‘assigned’ me to the centre-left, to differentiate me from socialists or communists… it seemed vastly amusing at the time (of course that might have been the beer laughing).
Although Suzy Hansen’s linked article in the New York Times is not without merit, this made me realise how unwise she was to bandy about terms like ‘left’ and ‘right’ when describing Turkey to an American readership: the bad guys of the article are on the right, so perhaps some US readers might conclude Erdogan’s AKP are something like the Republicans? Er, not really. In fact not in the slightest. Given the radically different cultural, political and historical frames of reference between the USA and Turkey, there are simply no meaningful analogies to be made other than at the far fringes.
It is rather hazy what ‘left’ and ‘right’ mean in Britain or America these days, let alone what they mean elsewhere. Comparing political labels in different countries is always fraught with risk and more likely to confuse than enlighten. Michael Jennings of this parish often becomes exasperated when folk in London try to compare UK and Australian political parties, as the attempt usually falls at the second fence… and this is between two countries with vastly more shared history.