The idea that there is a fixed amount of wealth is a pessimistic fallacy held by cod economists. The idea that there is a fixed amount of stupidity is an optimistic fallacy held by cod psychologists. New forms of stupidity are being generated all the time; and this process is not the least hampered by old forms of stupidity continuing to flourish and even spring up anew in places from which naive observers had thought that particular species of stupidity had been eradicated.
The Guardian newspaper is a sort of Rare Breed Survival Trust for economic and political stupidity. It works to secure the continued existence and viability of endangered falsehoods. Heartwarmingly, its labours often meet with success and stupid ideas once considered moribund can thrive again. Not thrive in terms of achieving anything worthwhile, of course, because the ideas concerned are stupid, but in terms of being loved.
Let’s look at a case study of a fallacy brought back from the brink of extinction to flourish once again in the pages of the Guardian. I refer you to an article by Zoe Williams entitled “Poverty goals? No, it’s extreme wealth we should be targeting”.
Furthermore, as Martin Kirk from the activist network the Rules pointed out, all the language of sustainable goals frames poverty as a disease: eradicable, no match for the ingenuity of mankind, but fundamentally nobody’s fault. It is a landscape where everyone’s a hero and nobody’s a villain; one in which unfair trade agreements, land grabs, structural debt relations, privatisation of publicly owned utilities and tax evasion never happened.
Poverty is not a naturally occurring germ or virus; it is anthropogenically created though wealth extraction. Any goal that fails to recognise this is not only unlikely to succeed, but can only be understood as a deliberate act of diversion, drawing attention away from what might work; in its place, the anodyne, fairytale language of hope, in a post-ideological world where all politicians just want what’s best and a billionaire is just a benefactor you haven’t met yet.
I believe current dogma is that men and women are absolutely and completely identical except men are bastards.
– Samizdata commenter “Ellen”
I cannot now remember any more than the general sense of a comment that was deleted by the moderators to this Guardian article:
Rihanna calls Rachel Dolezal ‘a bit of a hero’
(Dolezal, you may recall, was a white woman who pretended to be a black woman. Rihanna is a popular musical performer.)
But the general sense of the deleted comment was similar to these comments, as yet unmolested:
“Changing race pales into insignificance compared to changing sex, but everyone who thinks ‘correctly’ pretends the later is possible and that the result is absolutely valid; it’s about time a famous cis-African spoke up on behalf of trans-African rights.”
“If you accept that Bruce/Caitlin Jenner is female I don’t see what’s wrong with accepting that Rachel Dolezal is black. Who are we to question her identity?”
“Totally agree. I don’t get it – if we can choose our sex based on what we ‘feel’ we identify with, despite physical biology, then why not for race?”
“If a man thinks he’s a woman and must henceforth be referred to as “she,” then why can’t a white woman be considered black if that’s what she thinks she is? Watching the Left grapple with this (cheering on one, while ridiculing the other) was an absolute treat.”
Being a libertarian is, well, very liberating. I do not have to contort myself to fit through the very oddly shaped hoop that demands acceptance of a man transitioning to a woman and demands condemnation of a white person transitioning to black. My exact attitude can remain in a state of Heisenbergian uncertainty. Everyone could be this happy if they could just drop the demand for public acquiescence. Yet it appears they cannot. The assertion that race is objective and gender subjective is so important to some people that an assertion to the contrary must be expunged by the Guardian‘s guardians of public decency. That gives me an idea. We can settle this once and for all in a manner acceptable to progressives and conservatives alike. Never mind having dissent expunged by the moderators, expunge it in blood. Let him, her or xem who will assert that he, she or xe will prove his, her or xir chosen gender and race upon the dead body of anyone denying it by the traditional means of trial by combat. That will get respect.
Via JohnW and the rest of the internet,
Treat meat eaters like smokers, warns Jeremy Corbyn’s new vegan farming minister Kerry McCarthy
(Just a little note to the Telegraph subs: she isn’t actually farming minister yet. Labour would have to win an election for that.)
Meat should be treated like tobacco with a public campaign to stop people eating it, Jeremy Corbyn’s new vegan shadow farming minister has suggested. Kerry McCarthy, MP for Bristol East, has irked the British farming industry with her veganism and vice presidency of the anti-hunting League Against Cruel Sports.
In an interview with Viva!life, a magazine for vegans, she admitted she was a “militant” when it came to clamping down on meat consumption. She said: “I really believe that meat should be treated in exactly the same way as tobacco, with public campaigns to stop people eating it.”
In the green corner, a 3 min 41 sec clip from an LBC radio interview with the Green Party leader Natalie Bennett by Nick Ferrari dated 24 February 2015:
Incredibly awkward interview with Natalie Bennett
(I posted about this interview back when it happened.)
Most cringeworthy moments: her ghastly fake coughs at 2:07, 3:10, and 3:25 whenever Nick Ferrari pressed a point particularly hard. She really did have a cough, but even a real cough sounds wrong when told to perform before it is ready. Ferrari’s expression of sympathy after the 3:25 coughing fit was not meant to deceive her or the audience.
In the red corner, a four minute clip from a BBC Northern Ireland radio interview with Jeremy Corbyn by Stephen Nolan dated 8 August 2015, while Mr Corbyn was the front-runner in his ultimately successful bid to become leader of the Labour Party:
Jeremy Corbyn asked five times to condemn IRA violence
The most cringeworthy section again involves a pretence. Listening from 3 minutes until the end, Mr Corbyn’s initial claim not to have heard was credible; there was interference from another station to contend with. But as the interviewer doggedly repeated the question in an admirably clear voice, my belief in Mr Corbyn’s deafness trickled away.
Jeremy Corbyn: “Can we take the thing forwards rather than backwards?”
Stephen Nolan: “Are you refusing to condemn what the IRA did?”
[Background noise – interference from another station.]
JC: “Sorry, couldn’t hear that.”
SN: “Are you refusing to condemn what the IRA did?”
JC: “Hello? I think we’re going to have to do this later…”
SN: “OK, let me just – let me just ask this last question while it’s quiet there. Are you refusing to condemn what the IRA did?”
[Sound of indrawn breath.]
Who wins this round?
Yeah, funny and all, but it is depressing that so many people find an allegation quoted second hand from a single un-named source to be proof positive so long as the accused is someone they dislike. The claim that there is photographic evidence sets the seal on my disbelief. If this photo exists what is stopping this little piggy going to market? Why didn’t he squeal before now? Is the possessor of this photograph waiting for someone richer than Ashcroft to offer him more money or some time better than today for it to get some media attention?
I haven’t got the photo, alas. What a pig’s ear I made of my opportunities there. Like David Cameron, I managed to trot along to Oxford in the early 80’s and yet knew nothing of the Bullingdon Club, the Piers Gaveston Society or whatever. I first heard of the former when Cameron became prime minister and of the latter yesterday. My friends wore anoraks and were into science fiction. Or even science, the weirdos.
The consequences of politically motivated credulity regarding allegations that look increasingly likely to have been porky-pies are sometimes more serious than a lot of bad puns.
Met overstepped mark in Westminster paedophile ring inquiry, says prosecutor
The most senior prosecutor in England and Wales has added her voice to criticism of the Metropolitan police’s inquiry into claims of a murderous Westminster paedophile ring, saying detectives “overstepped the mark” when they stated that the allegations were true.
Alison Saunders, the director of public prosecutions and head of the Crown Prosecution Service, acknowledged the difficulties of investigating historical allegations but said: “You don’t just take somebody’s word as it is.”
On Monday Scotland Yard acknowledged that a senior detective’s description of an alleged victim’s claims as “credible and true” had “suggested we were pre-empting the outcome of the investigation”.
Pre-empting the verdict of a trial? You don’t say! Why did it take you this long to notice, Ms Saunders?
For those who don’t follow the Dolphin Square soap opera, the claims described by police as “credible and true” came from one source, nicknamed Nick, who claimed that three children were murdered by a VIP sex ring.
Operation Midland has drawn criticism since police forces leapt on unsubstantiated abuse claims against Edward Heath, and the former MP Harvey Proctor condemned as preposterous the allegations of torture and abuse put to him by officers.
Note that Heath was alleged to have been abusing and possibly offing kiddies while a serving prime minister, when his every moment was monitored by bodyguards (most of whom would have been police officers themselves), officials, flunkies and journalists. All in on it, I suppose. I think that Heath was one of the worst PMs we have ever had, but who believes this crap?
The deputy leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, that’s who!
Midland is one of a number of inquiries that began after Labour’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, said in the House of Commons in 2012 that there had been “a powerful paedophile network linked to parliament and No 10”.
It is now a year since the formerly-United Kingdom woke up to an independent Scotland. What is your verdict on developments since the incredible news that Scotland had voted “YES”?
Prime Minister Alex Salmond’s decision to “walk away” from Scotland’s share of the rUK’s National Debt and the subsequent borrowing crisis has proved particularly controversial. Despite Mr Miliband’s softening of his predecessor’s stance in the “war of the gold reserves”, he has not actually agreed to release Scotland’s share until agreement has been reached. Nevertheless Mr Salmond’s groundbreaking use of “Progressive Quantitative Easing” to mitigate the effects on the Scottish economy of the manipulation of oil prices by hostile speculators is widely seen as an example to be emulated by the emerging People’s Union of England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The new Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, has apologised for his 2003 remark that “It’s about time we started honouring those people involved in the armed struggle. It was the bombs and bullets and sacrifice made by the likes of Bobby Sands that brought Britain to the negotiating table.”
In the Daily Mirror, ‘Fleet Street Fox’ pours scorn on McDonnell’s apology, particularly on McDonnell’s claim that he only said these things in order to shore up the then-faltering peace process in Northern Ireland. (The title quote about the peace process comes from further comments he made in an effort to smooth over the controversy caused by his earlier remarks.) To praise the efficacy of “bombs and bullets” seems an odd way of waging peace, but when you are a man with McDonnell’s hitherto unsuspected influence on negotiations in which he played no part, perhaps an appearance of oddity is merely the equivalent of Clark Kent’s dorky glasses. There is a Twitter hashtag #McDonnellFacts recording Shadowchancellorman’s other thrilling deeds, all made under cover of his alternate identity as a mild-mannered fringe politician.
Me, I just admire the sheer anti-gravitic effrontery of the quote that makes the title of this post. In The Joys of Yiddish, Leo Rosten defined chutzpah as “that quality enshrined in a man who, having killed his mother and father, throws himself on the mercy of the court because he is an orphan”.
My impression (gained from the internet, where everybody in the developed world gets their impressions of popular feeling nowadays) is that hostility to Islam has taken root in the West. This did not happen overnight. It certainly did not happen over the night of September 11th / 12th 2001. On that first night of the new world, while there were calls for the nuking of Mecca and so on, most people wanted very much to separate “Islam” from “Whoever Did This”. Back then I was probably more hostile to Islam than most people. I stayed where I was and most people overtook me.
I was going to rabbit on about Whither Islam and Whither Western Civilization and whether both, either or neither are withering. But I think I’ll leave it at this one assertion: the West has come to despair of Islam in the last fourteen years and that change is not banal.
British jihadis are killed by drone strike ordered by the PM
The revelation that Khan, 21, from Cardiff, had been assassinated in the first RAF drone strike against a Briton triggered claims of extra-judicial killing. But Mr Cameron insisted the attacks were an act of self-defence
How say you?
The drowned body of little Aylan Kurdi is on front pages all over the world. His surname and the name of his home town, Kobani, tell the story of why his family were so desperate to leave their homeland.
What can be done to stop this happening, as the Middle East burns? What should be done? In the long term – God only knows.
But we don’t have to know. In the short term there is something we can do which has a proven record of saving lives in a similar situation.
Could Australia’s ‘stop the boats’ policy solve Europe’s migrant crisis?
When the bodies of asylum seekers en route to Australia washed up on the shores of Christmas Island in 2010 everyone was in agreement that something needed to be done.
Five years later Australia has implemented one of the harshest border policies in the world. It is characterised by three core points: turning or towing back boats of asylum seekers at sea; forcing asylum seekers to live in detention centres across the Pacific in Nauru and Papua New Guinea; and guaranteeing they will never be resettled in Australia.
Dozens of would-be migrants are reported to have drowned between Libya and Sicily, the latest tragedy in the Mediterranean this spring. The increasing numbers making the perilous journey on overloaded boats has brought the issue of migration into Europe to a head. But what can be done about it?
Prime minister Tony Abbott is now making a clarion call to Europe, where crisis meetings have taken place following the deaths of over 800 migrants in the Mediterranean this week. The only way to stop deaths at sea, he told reporters this week, “is in fact, to stop the boats”.
They were stopped.
Building a camp – a decent camp – and putting all those attempting illegal entry in it does not satisfy either side of the immigration debate. But at least it could be tolerated by both sides and might stop the bodies floating in on every tide. To use an unhappy metaphor, it would keep the floodgates closed by showing that taking ship with a people smuggler is not a successful strategy to get to the West. To work this policy would require both sides to acknowledge very clearly that doing this for now implies absolutely nothing about what the permanent policy on refugees and/or migrants should be.