“When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
From the preamble to the Declaration of Independence.
It is a melancholy thought that in much of the Anglosphere today, the concepts of classical liberalism: natural rights, limited government, private property, free trade, freedom of speech, rational enquiry, and the pursuit of a happy life, are under attack. The US has been and still is an imperfect exemplar of those values, but in my mind it still is the best of them, amd I wish my American Anglosphere cousins a very happy Fourth of July.
Fire up the barbecues!
…or should I say Ron Paul. The previous post makes the case against Ron Paul as a champion of the libertarian faction of the US Republican party.
However, I shall be speaking about the US primary system and what Congressman Paul’s campaign means at the Putney Debates tonight. I shall try to get a summary up over the weekend, either on Samizdata or here. The title of my talk is ‘Change at the Top: How the US Election Process Works and What are the Opportunities for Ron Paul?’ Details from here.
I shall also be continuing to cover the US primaries on my election blog.
The screenwriter, Tad Safran (whoever he is), has penned a rather coarse and unpleasant item about the physical pros and cons of British vs American women. It says something about the state of the Times (of London) that they would print this sort of thing at all. There may be some limited truth in his observation that women (or for that matter, men), spend different amounts of time on personal grooming and appearance. But in my experience of travelling to the States, I have seen enough examples, from both sexes, of scruffiness/smartness to reckon that his generalisations are BS.
This is a rather more uplifting study on the wonderful womenfolk of these Anglosphere nations.
Note: in my original item I said Safran was an actor, not a screenwriter. Mea culpa.
“You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours.”
- General Charles Napier expresses a nineteenth century view of multiculturalism, quoted by Douglas Murray in the course of explaining that the West’s values are better.
Now I am always quick to say nasty things about the British state and the state’s educational system in particular, but this article is really strange (as in ‘has little relation to reality’ type strange).
So waiting for the Dolphin swim at Discovery Cove in Orlando, my daughter Nikki and I were seated with a Brit family – mom, daughter and son. After small talk about the great value of the pound vs the dollar etc, I mentioned that Churchill was one of my heroes. The son, no more than 16 countered that he really liked Hitler, and his sister Gandhi. I was stunned and sickened. [...] In speaking privately with his mother after my discussion, she stated that this is the new curriculum in the British schools to combat “prejudice” against Germans. They teach the children not to “judge” Hitler.
Sorry but much as I might slag off the state and all it’s works, this is preposterous. In fact of all the screwed up things I have heard about the goings on in British schools, I have never heard of anything even close to this. I suppose it shows the dangers of deriving your views of the situation in some other country on a casual conversation with a single group of strangers.
Yes, I know what the actual charges filed against Black were, but there is an interesting article in the Guardian by former Telegraph editorial director Kim Fletcher called The wages of envy which raises some interesting points.
It is in the nature of court cases that findings of guilt lend an artificial certainty to the world. Black will now find himself spoken of as another Robert Maxwell. But while Black’s detractors were quickly out of the traps to say “we told you so”, it became clear during the trial that nothing going on at Hollinger was in the same league as the Mirror under Maxwell. Before his trial the result had been seen even by Black’s circle as a foregone conclusion. “There’s no way a blue collar jury in Chicago can let a man who looks like Conrad off every charge,” said one of his friends to me, before the trial began
Given that the central charges failed, it does make me wonder if he was not in truth convicted of being unapologetic about being rich and being called Lord Black. Perhaps the verdict had as much to do with the jury selection process and where the prosecution chose to hold the trial than whatever Lord Black actually did or did not do.
Conrad Black has been convicted of some of the charges that were directed against him.
Whatever the rights and wrongs of the case (my own view is that the whole case was bullshit and the jury convicted him because of envy of his ‘lavish lifestyle’) it underscores the old point that being a director of corporation is a very dangerous thing to be in the United States. Far more managers go to jail in the United States than in any other Western country (even as a percentage of the total).
Perhaps the first Henry Ford had it right. After losing some civil cases against him by minority shareholders, he bought them out – every one of them. Only if owned 100% of the company could he feel secure against someone saying he was not doing right by the shareholders.
As for the other shareholders, the campaign against Lord Black has cost them vastly more than his pay and perks ever did. Too late perhaps some of them now understand that he was the company and, without him, it was nothing.
All the above should not be held to mean that I now accept Lord Black’s opinions. For example, I still do not agree with his opinion that FDR was a moderate man or a good President. However, it is possible that Sir Conrad may now revise his opinion of the person who did more than anyone else in the 20th century to help create the vastly powerful (almost arbitrary) American government that was directed against him.
Guy Herbert this morning posted a piece commenting on Australian Prime Minister John Howard’s decision to “ban” the Australian cricket team from touring Zimbabwe later this year. I generally have little time for Mr Howard, but in this case I can not personally be very harsh on him. What clearly happened is that the Australian Cricket Board (which these days prefers to call itself “Cricket Australia”) begged him at length the make such an announcement, and he eventually gave in despite considerable resistance, and he did this because the alternatives open to him were probably worse. I have no disagreement with Guy that the outcome is essentially a dishonourable one, but the other easy options were worse. Some background.
In international cricket, there are only three countries for who the game is directly profitable. These are India, Australia, and England (in decreasing order of profitability). The other countries that regularly play international cricket make money by playing the national teams of these three countries, and then selling television rights and other sponsorship opportunities for these matches. Thus it is very important to (say) Sri Lanka for (in particular) India and Australia to regularly tour Sri Lanka and play matches.
In order to assure its members of some sort of regular cricket and regular income, the International Cricket Council (ICC) has in recent years created a mandatory tour program, requiring each of its members to play each other both home and away over a five year period. Reactions to this rule have varied, and compliance with it has been variable. The rule allows two sides to postpone a series if both are in agreement, which has allowed India and Australia to at times get their way by offering more money or more matches if the matches are played at some undefined “later”. However, if a team takes a hard line, then (at least theoretically) the other side must tour, or must pay a fine to the ICC which will be then forwarded to the host team as compensation for the lost revenues from the matches that were to have been played. The ICC’s rules allow for two situations in which a fine is not payable: firstly in cases where there is a genuine issue of safety – tours of both Sri Lanka and Pakistan have been called off for this reason in times of high political tension and terrorist threat – and in cases where a government forbids a tour. This second rule has come into play more in cases where Zimbabwe were potentially the touring side, most notably when Zimbabwean players were refused visas by the government of New Zealand.
Zimbabwe are a full member of the ICC. In the mid 1990s Zimbabwe had quite a decent cricket team (of mostly but certainly not entirely white players) but in the years since then Zimbabwean cricket has gone the way of most other things in Zimbabwe. At the demand of the government, white players were pushed out of the team, as were any non-white players who dared to say anything critical of the government. Officials who ran the game and actually cared about cricket were replaced with compliant government yes-men. The organisation of cricket in Zimbabwe became a shambles, and we are not sure right now to what extent the domestic cricket is even taking place. (The Association of Cricket Statisticians and Historians has recently been complaining about being unable to get scorecards for the domestic Logan Cup, which it has documented with no trouble for over a century). Inevitably, the standard of the national team has dropped from “decent, but not world beating”, to utterly woeful. Their performance in the recently completed World Cup was dreadful, and they have dropped to 11th in the world rankings, way behind the rapidly improving Bangladesh, and behind even Ireland, a side just consisting of part time Australian and English expatriates and who are not a full member of the ICC.
However, through all this Zimbabwe has maintained its full membership of the ICC. Zimbabwe has been “temporarily suspended” from playing test matches due to its declining standards, but it is still playing one day international cricket, and other teams are expected to tour in order to play these games. Australia was scheduled to tour Zimbabwe this year.
The obvious thing to do would be to expel Zimbabwe from the ICC, not necessarily on political grounds explicitly, but simply because cricket in Zimbabwe is no longer being administered and organised properly, that the board is no longer independent of government, and because selections are no longer taking place on the basis of merit. However, there are two reasons why this has not happened. The first is that there is a “third world” versus “first world” divide in international cricket, and some aspects of the administration of the game are a post-colonial nightmare. For many years Australia and England (and, prior to their expulsion from international cricket in the apartheid days, South Africa) had the right of veto over any decisions made in the ICC, and the other countries still have a lingering resentment of this. Once this veto was abolished, the Asian cricketing powers were eager to elevate other countries to membership of the ICC so as to gain a voting majority against the former “colonial” powers, and this is one factor that led to the elevation of Zimbabwe in the first place. Expelling Zimbabwe would increase the voting power of the “first world” bloc, and many people in India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka do not want this.
Secondly, what are the objections to Zimbabwe playing international cricket? For one thing, Zimbabwe is ruled by a dictatorship that restricts civil liberties. Well, other members of the ICC include Bangladesh and Pakistan, who are not exactly wonderful on this score either. South Africa is ruled by people who consider Robert Mugabe to be one of their old comrades in arms. If Zimbabwe were kicked out of world cricket on these grounds, then this would “set a bad example” to Pakistan and Bangladesh in particular. Did I mention that the governing body of cricket in Pakistan is traditionally a branch of the army and the head of its board is usually a general? That complicates matters further, and rules out the “We should expel Zimbabwe because the government controls cricket in the country” argument. The government of Sri Lanka appoints that nation’s cricket board too (although not through the army). As for “Zimbabwe selects players on something other than merit”, well, South Africa does that too. (Affirmative action with respect to black and coloured players). One would think that “Zimbabwe should be expelled because Zimbabwean cricket is a shambles” might be enough, but the organisation of cricket in a number of countries is a shambles (most notably Pakistan again, also (sadly) the West Indies). The ICC is also a shambles, having demonstrated in its organisation of the recently completed World Cup that it is an organisation that could not collectively get pissed in Porto)
Australia was scheduled to tour Zimbabwe later this year. The Australian players did not want to make the tour. The Australian government definitely did not want the tour to go ahead. → Continue reading: On cricket, Zimbabwe, John Howard, the ICC, Pakistan and Bob Woolmer
“The severing of Britain’s economic ties with its Commonwealth partners as a price of European (Union) entry further strained those relationships. Today, Germans arriving at London’s Heathrow airport breeze through the domestic arrivals line, while Australians who fought against the Germans at El Alamein for Britain’s sake wait in the foreigners’ line with the Japanese.”
- Jim Bennett, The Anglosphere Challenge, page 279.
Not that I have a problem with Germans or Frenchmen “breezing through” customs.
AA Gill, the Scottish columnist and restaurant reviewer, has always come across in my eyes as a man who wears chips on his shoulders like military epaulettes, which for an upper middle class lad seems a bit odd. He does not like the English much, does he? Even so, read the article, as it contains some painful truths as well as some unfair bile. He makes the point that the English/British are not always great adopters of life in New York. I have been to the city many times and saw this clubby sort of behaviour a few times. We Brits do not seem to realise how rude we can strike Americans. When I read of Americans being cut short at dinner parties or insulted by Brit tourists, I cringe, even though I tell myself that I am not responsible for the behaviour of my fellow countrymen and women. I feel much the same way when I overhear some idiot in Paris or Milan refusing to speak the local language and assuming that everyone speaks English rather than French or Italian.
I would be interested to know what Jim Bennett, the Anglosphere man, makes of this sort of behavioural friction. It may be just a matter of Gill being an arsehole. But he may also have a point.
I am sometimes asked why I seldom write about matters in my local part of the world. Partly this is because local events are too depressing, but it is also that there is a ‘culture clash’ between myself and the local environment, something that becomes even more apparent if you compare the political fate of ‘conservatives’ in Kettering Northamptonshire and Kettering Ohio.
Recently a political leaflet from the ‘Conservative’ party landed on my doormat. The leaflet boasted of the ten thousand Pounds that ‘Conservative’ Country Councillors were each spending on local projects.
For a few seconds I was impressed. True some of the councillors are wealthy people, but none is the league of Bill Gates – ten thousand Pounds is a lot of money for them.
But then I understood that it was not their money. It was local taxpayers money that the County Council, which is ‘Conservative’ party controlled, had given to the councillors to be spent on various projects.
Now in some parts of the world this would be called a ‘slush fund’ or ‘pork’ to buy votes. But in the United Kingdom it is called ‘pavement politics’ and is considered entirely ethical rather than corrupt ‘political machine politics’.
How different things are across the Atlantic when you consider how the Republicans lost Congress partly for following a similar line of policy with many of the ‘pork barrel’ projects getting so much negative publicity with suggestions of impropriety. The Republicans in Ohio (Kettering Northamptonshire is the ‘sister city’ of Kettering Ohio and there are links between the Ohio Republicans and the Northamptonshire ‘Conservatives’) turned the State into the third highest taxed in the nation – and thus lost control.
The problem is that the situation is different. The Northamptonshire ‘Conservatives’ really are not being corrupt by the prevailing local standards in Britain. It is just that their minds are so different to mine that no real mental link exists – it is of limited use to write about people one does not understand.
“The trouble with you, Spode, is that just because you have succeeded in inducing a handful of half-wits to disfigure the London scene by going about in black shorts, you think you’re someone. You hear them shouting ‘Heil, Spode!’ and you imagine it is the Voice of the People. That is where you make your bloomer. What the Voice of the People is saying is: ‘Look at that frightful ass Spode, swanking about in footer bags! Did you ever in your puff see such a frightful perisher?’”
- Bertie Wooster helps Keith Windschuttle describe the English-speaking century