A commenter over at the Guido Fawkes blog, with the joyful name of “Rasta Pickles”, comments on the notion that the UK electorate is too thick to figure out the complexities of Brexit, and that such complex matters should be left to a political class that has done such a tremendous job down the years. He or she notes a flaw in this “argument”:
“99.9% of the UK electorate have no idea what they’re voting for every time they vote in a council election; they regard local elections as a popularity poll on what’s happening in Westminster. Your local Labour/Tory council might well be planning on a compulsory purchase order on your house and those around you in order to build a new mega-PoundLand store and you’d still have people voting for them out of sheer ignorance.”
Even so, there are libertarians/classical liberals who point out that democracy, unless hedged with checks and balances, isn’t compatible with liberty and can be harmful to it. Bryan Caplan’s The Myth of The Rational Voter is a good read, as is this recent effort by Jason Brennan. But my problem with the arguments they make is that what, realistically, can they propose other than the sort of return to oligarchy of “smart people” that, as history tends to show, descends into corruption pretty damn quick?
Besides Yiannopoulos, his publishers and the concept of free speech, the big winners here are booksellers. Or at least you’d think so. But at least one Sydney outlet says it won’t stock Dangerous.
“Jon Page, owner of Pages & Pages, Mosman, and the online retailer Boomerang Books, became the first Australian bookseller to publicly declare he would not stock or promote the book by Yiannopoulos,” The Sydney Morning Herald reported last week, describing the author as “a mouthpiece of the hard right and a figure of controversy for his anti-immigration, anti-Islam stand”.
Page is wrong to say he won’t promote Yiannopoulos’s book. He just did, and in a far more effective way than if he’d filled his bookstore’s windows with Milo posters.
By taking his anti-free speech stand, Page ensured further publicity for Yiannopoulos and even more sales — but Page won’t be sharing in the profits.
– Tim Blair
Political correctness is not some sort of politeness, it is a cancer, a disease that eats away at society, allowing the poison to fester, for it stifles free speech and attempts to control our very thoughts, encouraging self-censorship. Freedom to speak means the freedom to offend and those so offended may respond in kind.
These days, if someone calls out “racist” or uses the terms such as “Islamophobe” or “homophobe” or some other variation, I switch off as they have labelled themselves as someone whose opinion I may safely ignore.
It’s nice to see that [Trevor] Phillips has finally seen the light, but the damage has been done and he was part of that.
But I would respectfully take issue with the last line, which although undeniably correct, suggests a counterproductive sentiment. Nevertheless I strongly suspect from Longrider’s choice of title, Much Joy, that in truth he also sees this much as I do. And thus, although I am an atheist myself, this second quotation actually expresses my view rather well.
“I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.”
Welcome to the fight, Trevor, let me show you to your place on the forward edge of the battle area.
The result of [the ‘sharing economy] is that in many ways, private tech companies have ended subsidising new forms of public services, for the public good.
That ought to make them the darlings of the Left. Yet unfortunately, the Left just can’t rid itself of its urge to regulate, legislate and tax. And in their efforts to thwart consumer freedom, they have a useful ally in the shape of a legal framework which was developed for the analogue age.
Uber, for example, is the poster child of the sharing economy. Yet 2017 is make or break year for its European ambitions – and at its core is an age-old political battle of Left versus Right.
This battle isn’t on the streets of San Francisco or London; Uber has already won over consumers. Instead, the fight is moving to a soulless courtroom in Luxembourg. The question is whether the company is a technology or a transport company; and the answer is incredibly complex.
– Daniel Dalton
If you needed yet another reason to reject the EU as an utterly toxic organisation, here is an absolute corker:
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Thursday that Europe must not cave in to U.S demands to raise military spending, arguing that development and humanitarian aid could also count as security.
No doubt Jean-Claude Juncker feels that NATO should deploy Oxfam, Save the Children & Charlotte Church to Riga, Vilnius and Tallinn in order to deter any Russian incursions into the Baltic states.
This is what the British Broadcasting Corporation considers front page news.
Rather, who was for decades one of the best known and most trusted figures in US journalism, said in a Facebook post: “Watergate is the biggest political scandal of my lifetime, until maybe now.”
What the BBC doesn’t tell us is that this “most trusted figure” saw his career come to an abrupt end when he was fired by CBS for pushing a false story about George W. Bush’s service record which was based on forged documents.
– Tim Newman
Comedy might not be Loach’s forte. But there is splendid unintentional humour in this class warrior standing up at a dinner sponsored by large corporations to denounce the Government that pays him so handsomely to keep churning out his Marxist drivel.
– Harry Phibbs
Below is an interesting riposte to the idea, entertained even by pro-market folk such as Kevin Dowd in a recent study of the 2008 banking crash, that a way to make banks more prudent in lending and savings policy would include weakening limited liability of the shareholders and even removing, in whole or in part, banks from listed markets, returning them to more like partnerships, so that we come back to some purer, saner age. It is not quite so simple. The article is from Tim Worstall:
But we can go one level deeper into this as well. It’s common enough to hear that the crash of 2008 was all about the quite despicable idea of shareholder capitalism. That the hunger for profits among the capitalists is what drove us all off the cliff. This is not so. Just as many, if not more, building societies went bust in the crash as did banks. The Derbyshire Building Society, Chesham, Cheshire, Barnsley, Scarborough….
Capitalists have a use. As shareholders, they provide the capital. And if things go kaboom then it’s they who lose their money. Plus, in the case of a banking organisation, what tends to drive it off the cliff is not the capitalist lust for profits: it’s bad banking.
In the US, meanwhile, Donald Trump has won some free market points – for now – by promising to reform, and hopefully roll back, the monstrosity that is the Dodd-Frank legislation of 2011.
After the Commons vote on Brexit last week, Davis is said to have approached Abbott for a kiss but apparently she told him to ‘fuck off’. Later, a Tory friend texted Davis to ask him about the incident. Davis texted back saying he hadn’t tried to kiss Abbott, and wouldn’t, because ‘I am not blind’. In short, he thinks Abbott is unattractive.
It is tempting at this point to say Davis’s text messages were crude. But that would be wrong, because the fact is they’re none of our business. He did not say these things for public consumption. It was an off-hand, matey remark of the kind all of us make via text or email or WhatsApp or whatever. That Davis’s texts were leaked doesn’t make it okay to haul him over the coals for them, to insist that he retract and repent, because this still amounts to shaming someone for a private conversation. The correct response to the texts would be to say: ‘This is not my concern. People can think and say whatever they like in private.’
Of course that hasn’t been the response, because such is the stifling intensity of the ‘You Can’t Say That!’ culture that now even private speech, glorified thoughts in essence, are considered fair game by the shut-it-down brigade.
– Brendan O’Neill
Hitler lookalike arrested in Austria
A Hitler lookalike has been arrested in Austria on charges of glorifying the Nazi era, local officials say.
The 25-year-old man reportedly calls himself Harald Hitler.
The man, sporting a side parting and a trademark moustache, had been seen having his photograph taken outside the house in Braunau am Inn in which Adolf Hitler was born.
The lookalike had recently moved to the town on the German border, police spokesman David Furtner told the BBC.
Well if ever someone’s face didn’t fit… Best not be a Charlie Chaplin tribute act in Austria then, or go to a Sparks concert, that town ain’t big enough for the both of them.
What’s next, putting down cats with unfortunate colouring?
On a more serious note, how better to discredit freedom that to carry on like this? Perhaps that’s all socialists can think to do. Mocking a fool is better that locking a fool up. Hitler is, thanks to Downfall parodies (here’s one, oddly prescient on the EU referendum, about Gordon Brown’s fading Premiership), a laughing stock, and the one thing that discredits tyrants more than anything is being laughed at. After all, mass murder has not discredited any brand of socialism.
“The really big point is that far from being a tumultuous, cacophonic, unstable, firecracker of a polity, Brexit Britain is starting to feel like a relative island of calm, more at ease with itself than it has been for many years, led by a sort of 1950s Prime Minister, who is nearly 20 points ahead in the polls. The spotlight of worry has swivelled round elsewhere, to Greece, France and to the United States. If Brexit is a revolution, it is so far turning out to be a very British and incremental one, lacking in violence or upset. More tea, vicar?”
– George Trefgarne
Indeed. What has struck me about some on the Remain side, for example, is that they have been coming across as a bid mad, unpleasant or utopian, not the other side. It is pretty hard to portray the likes of David Davis, for example, as fire-eating radicals when the eurozone, for example, is and remains an economic clusterfuck of Old Testament proportions.
The post-Brexit, post-Trump political battle lines seem to have been drawn up between “globalism” (a dysphemism for “free trade”) and protectionism (the second most stupid idea in history, but still dangerously powerful among the economically illiterate). So it looks like we are heading back toward the old Conservative/TruLib™ or Tory/Whig divide. The realignment will take some time to work its way through though. Firstly, for example, the Labour Party (which still commands some tribal loyalty) needs to finish committing suicide. The new players, UKIP and the Greens, need to submit to the discipline of the electoral market and form consistent political and economic stances.
In many ways I am as politically homeless in this new alignment as I was in the old. UKIP is a strong candidate to replace the Labour Party, but I don’t fit in its mercantilist ranks. The only thing I have in common with the Trumps, Farages and LePens of this world is that I believe when someone does move to another culture they should assimilate. I see NO obligation on a host country to modify any legal, ethical, religious, social or political norms to make new arrivals feel at home.
I don’t feel comfortable in the Conservative Party either. It’s more inclined towards free markets than the other contenders but it’s socially illiberal and inclined to build a scarily powerful state. Yes, it’s a successful fighting force with a lot of internal cohesion and has been much strengthened as an electoral machine now that Brexit has removed the only threat to its unity. There is no doubt it will be one of the potential parties of government in the new order and in the likes of Dan Hannan it has some sound thinkers but I hunger for a home that is more authentically TruLib™
– Tom Paine