Friday, 18 December 2020

Weekend Reading: the Sublime and the Hilarious

Here are two excellent reads for the weekend.

The first is a stonker: an essay entitled How Race Politics Liberated the Elites - if society is taken to be inherently oppressive, the notion of a common good disappears.    

Some extracts: 

... The decision-making class has discovered that it enjoys the mandate of heaven, and with this comes certain permissions; certain exemptions from democratic scruple. The permission structure is built around grievance politics. Very simply: if the nation is fundamentally racist, sexist and homophobic, I owe it nothing. More than that, conscience demands that I repudiate it.

... for the white bourgeoisie ... America’s illegitimacy transcends any particular historical facts about slavery and segregation. Indeed it transcends America, as one can surmise by the ease with which American grievance politics has been exported throughout the Western world. In this we sometimes see the use of American historical references that have been weirdly transposed, as when a house once lived in by Rosa Parks was relocated from Detroit to Berlin...  Under the empire of Christendom, the market for material relics from the Passion of Christ was similarly global; they left the holy land and ended up in various seats of earthly power.  Most recently, the transatlantic festival of George Floyd attests to the fact that it isn’t simply America that stands accused...

There appears to be a circle of mutual support between political correctness, technocratic administration, and the bloated educational machinery. Because smartness (as indicated by educational credentials) confers title to rule in a technocratic regime, the ruling class adopts a distinctly cognitivist view: virtue does not consist of anything you do or don’t do, it consists of having the correct opinions. This is attractive, as one may then exempt oneself from the high-minded policies one inflicts upon everyone else. ...You can de-legitimise the police out of a professed concern for black people, and the explosion of murder will be confined to black parts of the city you never see, and journalists are not interested in. In this way, you can be magnanimous while avoiding the moral pollution and that comes from noticing reality...

The second is less demanding, and you may have seen promoted elsewhere; but I'm puffing it, too.  It's a Beeb investigation into Indian propaganda methods against Pakistan, replete with an astonishing array of nicely crafted fake NGOs, newspaper websites and other ingenious subterfuge.  Well, what else did we imagine?  OK, but it's still pretty funny illuminating.

Settle down by your fireside ...

ND 

38 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Indian propaganda methods against Pakistan, replete with an astonishing array of nicely crafted fake NGOs, websites and other ingenious subterfuge"

And we have Bellingcat and Brigade 77. That nice Mr Soros has a whole array of fake NGOs staffed with real people getting paid real money.

Remember the babies who were ripped from the incubators and left to die by Saddam's troops?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nayirah_testimony

Anonymous said...

"virtue does not consist of anything you do or don’t do, it consists of having the correct opinions"

Peter Hitchens was noting this 20 years back in The Abolition Of Britain.

Elby the Beserk said...

"How Race Politics Liberated the Elites"

Yes. An excellent essay. Indeed, I commend the author, one Matthew Crawford, whose also excellent book, "Why we drive : on freedom, risk and taking back control" I recently finished. The theme is autonomy - here is our library system's extract. Do read it. Mr. Crawford is a smart feller, and we could do with more like him.

"Driving requires some of our most important abilities and liberties. We share the road but decide for ourselves which way to go. We are bound by laws but free to exercise our skill and judgement. We take risks and responsibility, and trust others to do the same. Forced to put other cares aside and attend to the here and now, many of us take great pleasure from it. Who doesn't get a certain thrill from the open road? And yet automation and driverless technologies are set to relieve us of this apparent burden, providing us with more screen-time. All in the name of safety, convenience and progress, of course. Drawing on reportage, science, philosophy and memoir, Matthew Crawford exposes the colonisation of our lives by invisible bureaucracy and surveillance technology, and speaks up for the endangered values of rivalry and play, solidarity and dissent, democracy and joy."



E-K said...

The assault from the 'corrupt theocracy' has come thick and fast under the cover of CV-19. I can barely turn on the BBC without a lecture or a nose rubbing on any one of their pet issues. It is incessant.

They have used our captivity to do this.

They don't just detach themselves from their nation but nullify any democratic choice that they can get away with calling 'racist' even when it isn't.

Trump and Brexit got them primed. CV-19 (God's gift to the Left) made them pounce. And they don't want this crisis to abate, which is why it's been jacked up into something that seems far more serious than it is.

Now imagine that the EU had got to vaccination a month before the UK. Don't you think by now the BBC would be presenting daily stats on how many people Boris's late action had killed ? (H/T The Sun's leader today.)

And why the hell did the BBC's Master Chef treat essential workers to a banquet including Medics, Firefighters and... wait for it... TEACHERS and not police officers ????

They see this as their moment.

So does China.

So does Russia.

Anonymous said...

Crawford piece is first-rate. Thanks.
Book sounds good too: driving is a great exemplar/metaphor.

E-K said...

Actually driving is Norman Tebbit's bike.

We did far better than getting on our bikes. We took on the responsibilities and liabilities of running a car.

A) To get to work. To be taxed at well over a hundred percent of fuel (no wonder they're warning us about shortfalls in revenue with electric cars)

B) To remove ourselves to remote areas in retirement in order to free up/avoid expensive housing.

The costs of running a car include being spanked for tax on fuel, spanked on tax for repairs and spanked on tax in the form of fines for parking and minor speeding infractions.

And now the Tories want to price us all off the roads.

Poll tax x 100 is about to hit the blonde blunderer.

E-K said...

Jeremy Clarkson in The Sun (the proper source of reading IMHO):

GOOD news.

If your self-driving car has a crash, you will not be prosecuted because, under new plans being drawn up, you will be classified as the person in charge, not as the driver.Even better news. The manufacturer of the car will be charged instead, which means, in a risk-averse, litigation-tastic world, all of them will abandon the idea of self-driving cars and go back to making something useful.

Graeme said...

My mum-in-law on her mobility scooter is like Lewis Hamilton,once she has had a few glasses of wine. Casual sideswipes, a trashed dustbin...

E-K said...

... and a sore knee.

jim said...

Two very interesting pieces Mr Drew.

Mr Crawford has constructed a not so subtle but slightly whiffy narrative.

The Succession show tells us power corrupts. Anyone watching the other show - US Elections - got a glimpse of power corrupting and a ringside seat at the 'government by shyster lawyers show'. Only four years to the next episode. But Crawford keeps quiet about all this and regales us instead with the evils of NGOs, the EU, corporate journalism, HR departments etc etc. All the stock bogey persons of the US right.

Then we leap in a single bound from the brutality of power politics to some kind of namby pamby moralising about nice people and the decision makers - as if the same - and how realpolitik is divorced from democratic scruple - what's new. Then we get into the meat - a dig at the woke and how those who object to the shitty way the US is run are somehow disloyal (shades of McCarthy).

I don't think anyone can deny that black people tend to get the rough end of the stick. US local politics leads to a pretty brutal policing regime. Trouble has been brewing a long time. The police have a dirty job, stuck between the aggrieved, the criminals, the politicians, the voters and a pay cheque. Add in globalisation and wealth moving away from the white and black working class and you have plenty of trouble. Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.

Crawford tries to blame this on a 1960s revival of middle class lefty hippies not doing their bit to keep nice white folks safe in their beds. From there he sees the black man used as some kind of justification for such weakness of moral fibre. Carefully skating round the real rottenness of US politics as seen so recently by the Trump/Biden fracas. Far from the middle class being the problem the Trump/Biden class look to be the real villains - but it wouldn't be polite funding-wise to say so.

Moving on.

Praise be to the good old BBC for telling us about power games in India/Pakistan. I had to think of those neighbour disputes on the telly over an inch of driveway. The narcissisism of small differences.

One feels that each side has an expensive department of government devoted to 'lets play silly tricks on the other side'. In this case hugely expensive and sometimes risky silly tricks. Other countries play these games and develop whole departments of state for the purpose. University and staff college courses devoted to this stuff. But seriously, who could care about a few feet of land on either side. A game constructed to extract huge bucks from taxpayers and pi£s it up the wall.

This salad topped off in the Tgraph with old Dearlove telling us what a wicked fantasist Cornwell was. Disrespecting the SIS and all. Remember those WMD - pot - black.... What India/Pakistan need is a couple of John le Carres to poke a bit of fun at this stuff.

Old BE said...

Politicians and lapel pins. Seeing Don Hancock on the TV again with his NHS Pride pin reminded me that in UK politics pins are a relatively new thing. In the US I think they appeared after 9/11. In Chernobyl, all the senior equals are depicted wearing them - in 1986. Does anyone know if that depiction is accurate and so whether western politicians have imported a Soviet political cultural tool? Also, do voters care whether ministers wear a pin or is a dog whistle for niche interests?

Nick Drew said...

Pins? In 1981 I first travelled to N.America (USA and Canada both, across a dozen cities) - they were ubiquitous, and I was given one by my host wherever I went

it seemed to be the protocol not to wear them all at once like a boy scout ...

Old BE said...

Interesting!

Nick Drew said...

Jim, a worthy riposte

I bow to no man in my detestation of rule-by-shyster-lawyers (and bent bankers, corporate looters, and free-riders of every hue, 'left', 'right' and of no political affiliation), not least because they, too find solipsistic, self-satisfied excuses for scorning and undermining the common good - "only the little people pay taxes"; "if the government hadn't wanted me to embezzle the furlough money, they wouldn't have made it so easy"

but I disagree with your scornful perspective and, as ever, commend to you the works of Adolph Reed

(I'd been thinking of adding the Lynn Truss speech to the reading list, and I'm guessing you are not a fan of that either)

Elby the Beserk said...

Graeme said...
My mum-in-law on her mobility scooter is like Lewis Hamilton,once she has had a few glasses of wine. Casual sideswipes, a trashed dustbin...

10:45 pm
========================================================================

Frome is pretty much the F1 of Mobility Scooters. Have to doge them all the time. Half the population of the town apparently unable to walk.

Elby the Beserk said...

jim said...
Two very interesting pieces Mr Drew.

Mr Crawford has constructed a not so subtle but slightly whiffy narrative.

The Succession show tells us power corrupts. Anyone watching the other show - US Elections - got a glimpse of power corrupting and a ringside seat at the 'government by shyster lawyers show'. Only four years to the next episode. But Crawford keeps quiet about all this and regales us instead with the evils of NGOs, the EU, corporate journalism, HR departments etc etc. All the stock bogey persons of the US right
===============================================================

That's because his subject is not what you seem to think it should be maybe?

The title's a clue :-)

Anonymous said...

Liz Truss. (Lynne is someone else who also pontifcates on correctness, of another kind.)

Old BE said...

Lynne eats shoots and leaves, Liz has great ideas about how to reinvigorate conservative causes for the current age and next generation?

Anonymous said...

Just heard the news and I am incandescent. My daughter has an exam in Scotland on Monday and a train ticket paid for to England on Tuesday which that cow says she can't use. When did we give the Scottish Parliament power to close the border?

E-K said...

A friend has to give as an example a Russian boxer as a "healthy Russian boxer very sick with CV-19" two thousand miles away... whereas the Sun can point out today an English Nuclear Engineer dying of skin cancer (because of lockdown) and I have two friends dying of young age because of lockdown (heart attack and brain cancer) ...

I no of NO ONE being seriously ill with CV-19 let alone dying of it and certainly no-one dying of it below the age of 85. I don't know anyone dying over the age of 85 including those who keep telling me to visit because loneliness is worse than death itself, even if it is in my company.

WTF is going on ?

THey are destroying everything we love and the economy that will fund the NHS.

Old BE said...

Oh well if you don’t know anyone it must be made up.

E-K said...

Old BE

It's not made up but we are destroying our way of life for something which is massively over exaggerated.

So.

C'mon.

You've not hidden away completely, have you ?

What have you done that you wouldn't in an Ebola pandemic ???

E-K said...

This is a SYNDEMIC. Not a pandemic.

The difference is crucial.

Anonymous said...

@EK did you see my link the other day to the Nature article? There's a possibility that covid destroys fertility. It's a small study so far, and we're not likely to get the full details for months, but the prospect is worrying.

If it turns out wrong, then phew, if not, forget the economy, be the least of our worries.

The thing that worries about a novel virus is generally what we don't know. The stuff we know, that can be worked on, managed. It's the stuff we don't, and that is one of the reasons transmission needs controlling until there's a vaccine in enough of the population to keep it tamped down.

Moreso given how technology is now.

Many, many moons ago I theorycrafted a novel virus using the flu* as a template. It was pretty scary how easy it was to Dr Moreau something up. CRISPR hadn't been invented yet, let alone the RNA equivalent, so it was very much in the realm of fantasy.

Now? I've no doubt somebody, somewhere, has dreamt up something worse than what I'd come up with. And airborne transmission is the fastest way to spread a disease (imagine a world were HIV was airborne rather than sexually transmitted)

Whilst I don't think covid was a weapon, it has certainly told the Chinese if they want to off the West with a bug, it won't be hard. Just need something that gives us the sniffles, then a high probability of killing the host months later. It'd just be another Chinese 'flu until people start making like John Hurt in Alien.

*it's the perfect template - airborne, virulent and can remain viable with quite a lot of mucking about with it.

Old BE said...

Electro Kevin, unlike you I am prepared to believe experts in things that I am not an expert in. I have never witnessed a uranium atom splitting but I accept that they do under certain conditions and can be used to generate electricity. I do not demand to know someone who has personally been to a nuclear power station and seen the turbines spinning. I don’t need to know someone who has died of AIDS to make a decision to avoid sharing heroin needles.

If you bothered to listen to what Vallance and Whitty have been saying since March - they explain in terms that even sheeple like me can understand - you wouldn’t be parroting the comments-section bullshit.

As it turns out I also do know doctors and nurses. Two doctors in my wider circle work in intensive care wards in London and their anecdotes are terrifying. I know a nurse who works in the middle of nowhere Ruralville boondocks and the first wave was appalling even in their area.

So kindly engage your brain before parroting alt-net cliches about “syndemics”.

As for the costs of all this: they are massive. All the more reason to suppress the virus so we can get back to living healthier lives. The government in my opinion made a massive mistake relaxing the spring/summer restrictions before we could trace infections to the granularity that the Aussies and Kiwis and Koreans can. The stupid approach led by stupid Tory MPs reacting to stupid views expressed by stupid people in comments sections probably led exactly to this new strain emerging.

Don Cox said...

"There's a possibility that covid destroys fertility. It's a small study so far, and we're not likely to get the full details for months, but the prospect is worrying."

Why is it worrying ? The whole world, and Britain especially, is massively over-populated.

There are far more people in these islands than we could feed if there was a blockade.

I'll be surprised if the story is true, but I hope it is. People are great (most of them, anyway) but you can have too much of a good thing.

Don Cox

Anonymous said...

@Don "Why is it worrying ? The whole world, and Britain especially, is massively over-populated."

If it's confirmed, and if it has an effect on those asymptomatic and enough people have been infected, then you face (at best) a population crash and (at worst) potentially the extinction of humanity.

Even the best case leads to economic ruin in relatively short timescales, and social disorder in the same timeframe, as you have a decreasing number of people to do work against an ageing population.

There's a lot of if's to get there though, and hopefully they don't stack up.

BlokeInBrum said...

"Why is it worrying ? The whole world, and Britain especially, is massively over-populated."

Well, if those in power weren't so insistent on trying to replace the native population then we wouldn't have these problems.

Most Western (wealthy) countries have a native population that is steadily declining as people choose willingly to have fewer kids.

If it wasn't for the constant immigration that is being forced on us then many of the problems that we currently face simply wouldn't be an issue.


Graeme said...

Old BE, how do you explain the other 12705 variants? The "blame it on Boris" meme is wearing rather thin

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-020-19818-2

Anonymous said...

@BlokeInBrum - it's nothing to do with replacing the current population, it's the chosen solution to economic issues arising from demographic ones.

Our social setup taxes the current tax base to pay for the costs of the population as a whole.

As a population ages, those costs inch upwards. As prices inflate, those cost inch upwards.

This requires an expanding tax base, which you get from either ever increasing taxes on the existing population, or growing the economy so you have more workers.

We have a mix of the two. Now, if you're growing the economy you are (currently) creating jobs for people. So you need more people to be in work.

If you have an ageing demographic, you have a shallower pool from which to get people to do those jobs.

So, you can either invest in training for the skilled roles, increase wages to make all of the roles more attractive or import workers with the existing skills and who are content to work on those wages.

Training takes time. Increasing wages increases costs (which, in terms of production, reduces competitiveness against imports.)

We have immigration because it's the simplest solution. Yes, it causes major problems, but so does everything else.

There are those who suggest we just do away with the social system, but that'll last right up until the next election because that particular brand of keyboard warrior are even further divorced from reality than our politicians.

There are no easy, consequence-free, solutions. You just pick some, and hope you can manage the side effects.

E-K said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
E-K said...

Anon at 10.40

I hadn't considered the fertility issue.

I can't remember this featuring in Government briefings.

I do happen to think it was an experimental biological weapon released inadvertently from a lab in Wuhan.

I have to hold my tongue here. I'm making myself ill.

E-K said...

Old BE

We can pick our experts - Prof Karl Heneghan of Oxford who wants to see the data that proves the "70x more infectious" claim. Prof Delores Cahill of the Great Barrington Declaration who advocates for Focused Shielding (which is why I labour the point 'syndemic' and am not saying "kill granny")

The 'experts' spent many millions more on an Aids cure (which, to be avoided, only needed fidelity, condoms and to say 'no' to drugs) than they did on cancer.

The 'experts' won't let us split the atom - they want us to use wind turbines instead.

Whitty and Vallance have repeatedly been caught out on duff information. As has Prof Neil Ferguson (whose PhD is in Theoretical Physics with an intercallation in Illicit Sex During a Pandemic.)

Yes. I don't doubt the scenes were horrific in hospitals. So why does the NHS keep infecting people more than anywhere else ? Why did the 'experts' do the worst thing they possibly could by returning infected people to care homes ? Previously they were infecting people with MRSA - has that disappeared with seasonal flu ?

Are you not the slightest bit suspicious why this 'variant' started in Kent ? And that the new blockade looks remarkably like a 'taste of Brexit' ?

Our 'experts' certainly didn't consider the EU backlash over the (thus far unfounded) "70x more contagious claim" which parliamentarians are demanding to see the evidence for. Or did they ?

So.

Which experts do you choose to believe ?

What evidence do you want to see ?

We are not NZ, Australia, Sth Korea. We are a disorderly nation with an obesity epidemic, an aged population propped up on drugs, loose borders and I wouldn't mind betting quite a few biological terrorists creating mayhem as the new weapon of choice rather than driving trucks into Christmas markets.

Elby the Beserk said...

E-K said...
Old BE

Whitty and Vallance have repeatedly been caught out on duff information. As has Prof Neil Ferguson (whose PhD is in Theoretical Physics with an intercallation in Illicit Sex During a Pandemic.)
======================================================

As Peter Hitchens noted on the New Culture Forum, ICL's record on forecasting is about as bad as it can be. Even before Covid. 500,000 dead they forecast? Global total only 3 times that.

And we PAY them.

Elby the Beserk said...

Population problem?

What population problem?

https://quillette.com/2020/12/11/the-end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it/

"The greatest threat to humanity’s future is certainly not too many people consuming too many limited natural resources, but rather too few people giving birth to the new humans who will continue the creative work of making the world a better, more hospitable place through technological innovation. Data released this summer indicates the beginning of the end of humanity can be glimpsed from where we now stand. That end is a dramatic population bust that will nosedive toward an empty planet. New research places the beginning of that turn at about 30 years from today.

This means that Thomas Robert Malthus, and his many influential disciples, had it precisely wrong."

Anonymous said...

E-K,

Well said. You can pick your experts in any field you care to choose. The government picks them for political reasons. And 'experts', in general, work for career, status, money, influence, political ideology as much as anyone else. To treat them as oracles, rather than just another view to be considered, is nuts.

If any 'expert' in SAGE decided to say that, actually, lockdown was a colossal mistake, they'd be finished career-wise. So of course they're not going to say that. I doubt I would.

Hence I trust my own experience and that of people whom I know to be trusted and reliable, more than I trust anything officialdom (whether public or private) says. And that's before we've talked about Edward Bernays-style deliberate manipulation! (Read his essay 'The Engineering of Consent' if you haven't already. Almost certainly, members of SAGE have.)

It would be fun to compile a list of 'what the experts said', in any number of fields. Don't forget the one about sending all our factories to a totalitarian dictatorship.

-EC

Jan said...

My first thought when I heard of the closure of the border with France was: Ah Brexit....they want to starve us into submission for daring to want to leave the EU. Then of course they will be spurred on by Nicola Sturgeon wingeing from the sidelines about an extension to the transition period after the end of 2020. So nothing to do with the plandemic really.

There are always new strains of viruses appearing because they multiply so fast. It's no surprise we have a new one which infects more easily.....it's natural selection in action and evolution of the "fittest" of the virus strains in circulation. Just because more people are testing positive it doesn't mean necessarily more people getting ill or more deaths.

OK there are more people getting ill now but I still think there's been amassive overreaction all along and it would have made much more sense to keep the elderly and vulnerable shielded and let the rest of us carry on as normal. Cancelling Christmas was a really cruel thing to do.

France shutting its borders is spiteful because we won't do what they want.

Sobers said...

Ah yes, the 'second wave' of a 'deadly virus' where the death rate is scarcely above normal and less than a peak that occurred at the same time of year only a few years ago:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/945420/Weekly_report_mortality__w51.pdf