Sunday, October 04, 2015

Me & The Government Are Very Sensible

Ah, our sensible centrists - a few twats lob eggs at a protest and it's the Texas Chainsaw Massacre all over again, but bomb a hospital and... well, it's all quite... complicated, isn't it?

Well, as is ever the case, racist UKIP candidates reflect badly upon UKIP, and EDL thugs are a problem for the British far-right, but whenever some prick somewhere is rude to a journalist, the entire left has to get down on its knees to apologise.  Ever thus.

So collectively, we're doing that thing with the noisy denunciations and disassociations that we always do when prodded, as if there's a vague chance that mass disapproval might save us from being held up as if we were all a kind of revenant parade of blackshirts.

And I understand the denunciations, because this kind of aimless aggro is stupid, unpleasant and counterproductive.  And had it not been for these egg-chucking fucks, the headlines tomorrow would've been all about the government's merciless dickishness and their intentional vandalism of the public services on which many of these people rely, right?

Oh, sure.  Maybe on page 12 of the Guardian, they would've been.

No, the sad truth here is that solemn anti-government protests are too boring to attract any kind of serious attention.  So what, a bunch of earnest kids and non-photogenic pensioners and civil servants disagree with the government?  Who cares?

Protests just don't get any positive attention these days, and they haven't had much attention of any type for a long time, unless they're violent or rowdy, or are aimed at an already-despised public figure or nation.  Still though, a few journalists getting hassled and spat at by a couple of crusties isn't so much an insignificant event, as it is actively immaterial.

I know this won't be a popular opinion, but let me lay this on you - the very best that any half-popular popular protest event from the left in the UK can expect, is to be ignored.

If it turns a bit nasty, all the reaction will be about the nastiness.  Note that the actual severity of the nastiness doesn't matter at all - if 95% of today's idiots had stayed away, the remaining 5% would've been more than enough to justify exactly the same response.

Remember, it's not so long ago that protests used to end in real violence and actual injuries, not this boo-hoo-woe-is-us stuff.  When I was a kid, these types of events regularly ended in full-scale riots and fist-fights, with mounted police and baton-charges, rather than a lot of whinging because some fucker with dreads called a reporter "Tory scum", or similar.

But even if a protest is as nice as a game of Pass-The-Parcel at a playgroup picnic, it'll just be ignored.  Any mention of it that does reach the public will only be negative portrayals of the protesters themselves - if they're young, they're daft poseurs; if they're old, they're dinosaurs; if they're posh, they're self-indulgent; if they're not, they're loutish and thick.

If a protest is about an insane bloodcurdling war, then the war is not the issue - the real issue is some fucking berk waving a Hezbollah flag.  If it's about austerity, then tsk tsk!  We already had an election to decide which version of the Thatcherite consensus would rule, thank you, and attempts by protestors to impose their will on the government is fundamentally immoral, if not outright fascistic.  Swish!

These responses are not about enlightening anyone.  They're about circumscribing politically permissible ideas, a police action on the outer edge of acceptable mainstream thought.  That's why nobody in this country who regularly writes political commentary along the lines of "Me and the government are very sensible, and everyone who disagrees with us is a lunatic" will ever go to bed hungry.

There's no way to win here folks, so just stop apologising.  If a few idiots lob eggs at a Tory, then a simple Yes, fuck those guys will suffice.

And on the specific character of complaints today, which have mainly been journalists complaining that some of the protestors called them Tories...  Again, fuck those guys, but this is probably a good point to assess why lots of young left-wing types believe that the press are instinctively lined up against them, if not actually in open collaboration with the government.

My experience of engaging with the press this last few years has mainly been one of being told that e.g. insane destructive wars that achieve nothing are very, very sensible indeed, and that being annoyed about such things is dangerously crazy.

Kids who are new to politics and even tangentially related to the Corbyn campaign have just spent three months watching every paper in the country indulge in a prolonged fit of gibbering hysterics, all of it aimed at portraying the new Labour leader as if he were a threat to the nation on par with Godzilla or the Black Death.

And when these kids open the paper tomorrow, they're not going to find much in the way of reportage about their aims in protesting the Tory Conference, but they're sure as hell going to find that they feature - as a pack of zoomers, extremists, jackbooted thugs and pantomime racists, or as a shower of preening Tarquins and Samanthas.

From this, they're only going to conclude that the press really are instinctively on David Cameron's side, and I have to say - even in my older, less excitable years - I can't really see how anyone would go about convincing them otherwise.

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Political Madness Gone Correct

So the other week a university needlessly banned a feminist advocate for democracy from speaking at one of their events, an act which supposedly demonstrates our rocket-propelled downward spiral into a morass of relativism and political correctness.

It looks like nobody else will say this, so I will - I am intensely relaxed about this situation, and possibly even in favour of it, all things considered.

Why, you might ask?

Firstly, because this story has followed the standard trajectory of such incidents, which almost always go like this:

- Student group asks perfectly reasonable speaker to appear at public event;

- Some puritanical berk or glowering religious ballsack complains about it, on bullshit grounds of ideological deviation or offensiveness;

- A minor student administrator takes a fit of the vapours about potentially offending someone, somewhere, and disinvites the perfectly reasonable speaker;

- A great roaring crowd of self-proclaimed rationalists turns up on the university's digital doorstep, throwing kung-fu shapes and screeching about defending free speech, and then

- The matter comes to the attention of somebody sensible at the university, who immediately overturns the administrator's decision and reinvites the perfectly reasonable speaker.

It doesn't always go like this, but this precise flow of events has now happened so many times that we can predict with a fair degree of confidence that, whenever a speaker is disinvited somewhere, it will play out in exactly this fashion.

This being the case, I think we can agree that what we are dealing with here is usually a minor official making a bad decision, one that can be quickly and painlessly overturned.  This not a particularly difficult problem to overcome and it should be easily dealt with in calm and reasoned tones, with no need for grand declarations or denunciations.

Now, there's a strain of thought* that says such incidents are reflective of a dangerous illiberalism in campus culture, one which reveals a far greater problem in the entirety of left-wing politics, or some such cant.

This hysterical message, most commonly conveyed in apocalyptic tones, does actually contain a grain of truth, and once again - I am entirely unconcerned by this.

It's certainly true that there are plenty of people knocking about who will get their knickers in a twist if you make certain arguments, e.g. "I don't approve of Muslim women wearing the headscarf", or "Prostitution is a really bad career choice", and so on.  It's also true that certain individuals - not many, but actually existing - will attempt to prevent anyone making such arguments on campus.

Mostly, this is because students tend to be young and daft, and have always been prone to seeing the world in definitive terms that they will relax later in life.  To a lesser extent, it's also because there's a small but vocal minority of tiresome knobheads wandering around, but this has always been the case.

Nonetheless, the actual real-world effect of such people's actions translates into a bit of hassle, rather than tyranny.  We can, I think, all survive a bit of hassle by knobheads - we've all been dealing with it all of our lives after all, and we will probably survive a bout of knob-headery in even its right-on form unharmed.

More to the point, I see much of this as the inevitable result of our much-improved interpersonal relations in recent decades.  When I was a kid, racism and sexism were indulged to a far greater extent, and homophobia was only seen as a serious problem by a few activists who were repeatedly mocked in the gutter press as a shower of loony-left woofters.

Now, not so much.   The social unacceptability of these forms of prejudice has greatly improved everyone's lives, I think, and this situation is resented mainly by people who would prefer to go back to the bad old days.

Unfortunately, this has also spawned tiny gaggles of irritating self-appointed Commissars, mostly on social media, but occasionally bleeding out into the world.  I consider this an annoying but entirely acceptable cost.  The fact that these jokers get up the noses of e.g. Melanie Phillips or Brendan O'Neill is unfortunate for them and for others of their ilk, but is no reason at all to imagine that we're worse off now than we were before.

*I made an effort here not to launch into ad hominems, but I think that a few are called for.  It's worth noting that the loudest screamers about campus activism broadly use student dafties as stand-ins for their political foes, none of whom are thick enough to give them the kind of ammunition that only a bunch of painfully right-on 19-year-olds can supply. 

Suffice to say that I think this is a dishonest trick, and that any writer in their forties who regularly gets up on his or her high-horse to issue grand proclamations about student politics, is probably telling you more about themselves than they are telling you about student politics.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Replicant Army Zeta

"Bombing to support a genocidal tyrant isn't the same as bombing a terrorist organisation...  pursuing a malign policy for malign goals is worse. Hence, yes, there is a difference in reactions... You must see the quantifiable difference". 

So says a long-time reader in response to this post, a bashed-out ramble about our noticeably lesser levels of indulgence for Russian ultraviolence than we display for our own.

Taking these comments in context, I'm inclined to agree.  There are notable and marked differences between our military hijinks and those of the Russian armed forces.

For one thing, Bad Vlad Putin - a vicious cartoon KGB gangster straight out of Bond-villain central casting - has only just embarked on his first murderous death rampage in the region.

We, however, are now approaching a decade-and-a-half's worth of trying to make the Middle East and north Africa sit still and behave by repeatedly blatting several countries with thousands upon thousands of missiles.

Are Vlad's war aims much worse than ours?  Well, sure!  He's bombing one crew of nutty jihadists and a tiny clique of possibly-theoretical secular liberal warriors at the behest of the mass-murdering Syrian dictatorship, which is itself a vicious tyranny that tortures dissidents to death.

We, on the other hand, are blasting fuck out of an even nastier army of mass-murdering death-cultists on behalf of the Iraqi government, which machine-guns protestors and only tortures its dissidents mostly to death, while we quietly pass boatloads of cutting-edge explosives to the Sauds for use on Yemeni civilians.

So you see, it's really quite a stark moral contrast. 

Joking aside though, that post was mainly about the welcome return of open suspicion and ridicule for great power "interventions".  Bad Vlad's ludicrous pronouncements this week have been met with open mockery, and the Russian armed forces' claims to nobility have been torn to shreds in a riot of feral press hostility.  We are, in short, treating Russian military malfeasance with the appropriate level of credulity, i.e. none at all.

The difficulty with this is that it makes our own boot-licking, self-fondling fluffery of "the Coalition" - since that's the latest fruity name that we're giving what is basically the American government and its air force - look every bit as comical as the Russian media's supine surrender to Vlad.

You'd think that, after we've been bombing huge tracts of the planet for this long with nothing at all to show for it but ever more carnage and chaos, we might finally be shamed into maybe... just... shutting the fuck up, for five seconds.

Not so.  Instead, the Americans fret about Russian malevolence supposedly "inciting extremism" in the Middle East, as if US armed forces weren't still locked in combat with an army of brain-eating Islamic zombies... Themselves the product of America's own recent military stupidity.  Such a statement would be met with open hilarity, if it weren't quite so serious.

Consider - ourselves and the Americans know for an absolute certainty that our current strategy of drone-bombing hell out of buildings and vehicles in pursuit of nominated targets occasionally kills large numbers of civilians - wiped-out wedding parties, unlucky car passengers, and so on.  (Update - and the occasional party of Medicins Sans Frontiers clinic staff).

We know we are going to kill innocent people while we're splattering our way through the latest batch of Al-Qaeda Number-Three-Most-Wanteds, or whatever other terribly critical, high-value target we're aiming at - and yet we do it anyway.

Civilian casualties have long since become a normal aspect of our strategy, a regretable but supposedly unavoidable expense, factored in to a well-calculated cost.  These incidents happen so frequently that we can no longer reasonably claim that they're unexpected, or even really kid on that they're unintentional.  They are militarily acceptable, politically acceptable, morally acceptable.  This is what we do.

And this might even be fine, if there was some reason to believe that these people were dying to effect some grand strategic achievement, to orchestrate an endgame to this war or that.  Reader, it is not part of such a strategy.  The plan, just as it was in 2007, is to keep killing motherfuckers until the remainder settle down, or until there are no motherfuckers left to kill.

In 2007, complaints about this wacky plan were met with firm tickings off about the dangers of "moral relativism" and "equivalence", the type of patter that is supposed to emphasise our national rectitude but is almost always deployed in service of the firm message - It's fine when we do it.  

In 2015, the message is unchanged, and the relentless warfare is no closer to an endgame.  You think our dumbass bombing campaigns are morally problematic?  Why, you must be one of those gosh-darned relativists who can't see the difference between Our Boys and Ol' Journalist-Shootin' Putin!  

What this tells us is that fourteen years into our great, superviolent war on whatever, we have learned no lessons at all, and that almost nobody has been held to account for their misdeeds.  It tells me that there is literally no catastrophe so great that it can dent our endless faith in our own towering virtue; that there is no pile of rubble and corpses so high that it can't be mounted for use as a podium to issue stern lectures upon comparative morality.

It baffles me to say it, but it means that for some people, being a better human than Vladimir Putin is a real achievement in itself.

I mean, I'm taller than my cat, but I don't expect anyone to congratulate me and suck my dick for it.

Anyway, I raise all this, just as a little reminder of the context in which these grand morality plays about our wildly-different military methods and objectives play out.  I don't expect to change any minds, nor to inspire anything more than mild annoyance.

We can be sure though that ten thousand years from now, while Her Majesty's Royal Drone Force battles the resurgent 17th Glorious Ball-Peen Caliphate or whatever on the plains of Mesopotamia, some joker somewhere will still be explaining that actually, this war is not at all like the last, and that there is a vast moral difference between our war aims and those of Replicant Army Zeta.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

War Is Good/Bad - An Update On The Rules

Using my special sarcasto-blogger sense, I've concluded that Vladimir Putin's retarded and deranged Syria intervention is about to have an interesting and immediate effect upon our own political and media establishment.

It's not going to change their basic view of airstrikes and bombing campaigns of course, since their opinion on wars is generally comparable to a teenage boy's attitude towards free pornography.  Nonetheless, I think the Russians' idiotic actions are going to lead the UK war party generally to announce a few major ideological tweaks to our national morality on military hijinks, at least insofar as they're perpetrated by countries that aren't us or our allies.

Firstly, I suspect we're about to discover that nations engaging in warfare sometimes employ the language of security and humanitarianism to cover up their shady ulterior motives. 

This type of deceitful propaganda is bad, because governments should always be honest about their motivations for attacking and/or occupying other nations.  Governments definitely shouldn't ever make up any excuses that aren't true to justify their military adventures.  Also, people who repeat the lies that these governments tell will now be regarded as thoroughly despicable human beings.

We'll also learn that attacking the territory of a foreign nation without explicit authorisation from the United Nations is now very bad and illegal again.   Attacking other nations in this manner is now a very serious crime that should be unhesitatingly denounced by all, and punished with economic sanctions and severe criminal penalties

Attacking other nations will stay very bad until the next time that Britain wants to bomb some dipshit Brummie jihadist near Raqqah, at which point it will revert to being perfectly legal and reasonable

Such attacks on other nations will remain perfectly legal and reasonable until the Russian Air Force blows up a different shower of crazy jihadists, at which point they will once more become very bad and illegal.

Russia attacking Syria is also very bad because it's making things worse, in a way that arming random factions to the fucking teeth is not, and in a way that hurling missiles at violently-inclined fuckwits definitely isn't. 

We're also about to discover that so called "surgical" weapons aren't quite as precise as we might previously have been led to believe and that if anything, they're actually pretty destructive over wide areas and hazardous to nearby civilians.

It's true that any civilian deaths resulting from these "surgical strikes" were once entirely accidental and unforeseeable, and thus immaterial.  Now, it's going to turn out that actually, everybody knows that firing massive payloads of high explosives into heavily-populated urban areas is incredibly risky, and is almost certain to result in civilian deaths.

Any civilian deaths occurring in Syria as a result of Russian military action will thus be an unacceptable outrage and a travesty, in just the same way that all those incinerated Afghan wedding parties were regrettable accidents that couldn't ever have been foreseen by anyone, and for which nobody is really to blame.

Some of you may have been under the impression that there are no laws of war, or that violent attacks on other nations are perfectly acceptable, provided that they seem reasonable to the Prime Minister and to the editorial staff of the Times.

You may, for example, have believed that any paramilitary force that conceals itself in heavily-populated urban areas is using the civilian populace as human shields; that this is in itself a war crime, and that any military force attacking such paramilitaries isn't responsible for any resulting deaths.

Nothing could be further from the truth.  Belligerent parties are now required to take steps to avoid needless civilian casualties, and they will be right up until the next time the IDF bombards Gaza City, at which point this rule will become utterly invalid to the point of hilarity. 

Finally, readers are instructed to immediately assemble for a now-admirable anti-war protest outside the Russian Embassy, where they definitely will not be joined by the legions of hacks who have spent the day complaining smarmily about a lack of anti-war protests.

Thank you. 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Officer Class

If you'd asked me at the start of the week how the pig-fucking revelations would affect the Prime Minister's personal approval ratings, I'd have said Not a jot.

Now that the results are in unchanged, I'm actually surprised that he hasn't seen a bit of an improvement.

To the various analysts, this non-reaction seems to confirm that the public aren't interested in "gossip and tittle-tattle".  I mean, necrophilia and bestiality aren't quite like rumours of secret drinking or secretary-fondling, but that appears to be the consensus.

And let's not mess about - I imagine that most of the Tory voters of Britain actually believe, like I do, that Dave really did fuck that pig.  What are we supposed to think, when Dave's own friends go on TV to downplay accusations of corpse molestation, rather than to deny them?

The strenuous effort this week to rehabilitate farmyard frolics as a bit of adolescent fun, that tells me that the PM's own supporters believe that it's perfectly possible that he did it, and if not the pig-sex specifically, then something similar.

Anyway, my take on Dave's unaffected approval ratings is a bit different.  I think Dave's supporters voted for him at least suspecting that he was the type of guy who would gladly fuck a pig's severed head for personal gain.  The only thing that's changed this week is that now, they know it for sure.

I'd say the interesting thing here is that Dave has not only survived both the pig-diddling and the cronyism, in a way that few other politicians could, but that he's almost entirely untouched by them.

Never mind the cozy cash-grubbing.  Can you see e.g. Gordon Brown or Nick Clegg getting away with having beasted a dead animal in exchange for access to influential circles?  Would John Major or William Hague have laughed it off, if they'd bummed a badger or fingered a flamingo?

Not a chance.  Any one of those guys would've been summarily executed, politically speaking.  Yet it's not so for all British politicians, because for quite a few, the expected standards are somewhat lower.

Now, I'm not saying that Boris, for example, would have to strangle two prostitutes before he'd get into serious trouble... But I am saying that I wouldn't be at all surprised if he was able to shrug off one.  So long as he could convincingly claim that he'd killed her in a bumbling, accidental manner, of course.

But an Ed Miliband or a Charlie Kennedy?  They'd have been flayed and crucified if they'd appeared on television while a bit tipsy and cheerful, or had eaten a bacon sandwich in a socially-disapproved fashion. 

I think we need to be quite clear about where this disparity springs from.  It's due to the fact that David Cameron is officer class*, and we Britons are nothing if not understanding towards posh berks.

If you or I snorted a load of cocaine and staggered pissed about the streets calling pedestrians oiks and scumbags, pissing on tramps, everyone in earshot would break their wrists dialling 999.  The same rules do not apply to the Bullingdon boys.

Partly, this is down to the fact that most of the major professions are led by members of the same royal class, and it's certainly never hurt either Dave or Boris, that their mates own most of the papers.

Mainly though, it's because we're spiteful people, and our spite is easily tweaked.

I've been coming out with variations on this theme for a long time, but this week has given us the perfect illustration.  Collectively, we prefer to be ruled by a vicious pigfucker who hates the poor, than to countenance being lectured about being a bit nicer to each other.

We didn't wind up with a government of super-wealthy arseholes hammering the needy and a TV schedule full of poverty-baiting, without being at least fairly spiteful.  I'd say that it doesn't reflect well on us as a nation, that we cut people more slack, the wealthier and more privileged they are.

I don't know how far this is a humanity-wide thing, rather than a specifically British one.  I suspect that the presidents of France or America could probably bum a goat live on national television without suffering a serious electoral setback, so long as they did it while saluting the flag, singing the national anthem and promising to crack down on immigrants.

Sadly, it's not the Americans or the French that have a pig-podgering, flag-saluting Prime Minister - it's us.  And looking at the way things have been going this last few years, you'd have to say that we probably deserve it.

*"Officer class" in a way that, ironically, Paddy Ashdown or Iain Duncan Smith are not officer class. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Virtue and Virtuer

So the new boo-phrase for our whinier opinion hacks seems to be "Virtue Signalling".  Particularly in a social media context, this appears to mean that

- Saying that bad things are bad or  
- Saying that good things are good really only a way of saying that  

- You personally are good.

This terrible behaviour makes you an insufferable prick, although whaddayaknow?  It apparently doesn't tell us anything at all about opinion hacks who spend half their lives condemning things and people on social media*.

So this one seems to have originated from a particularly dull bout of blah at the Spectator (again!) and, as tends to happen with such things, it's now been approximated by every right-wing opinion hack with an axe to grind against people who annoy them on Twitter, i.e. quite a lot of them.

Anyway, the emergence of "Virtue Signalling" as terrible, condemnable behaviour has a direct application to the themes that I've been harping on about here for many long years.  As applied generally to foreign policy, it now means that:

- If you do say that the idea of hurling troops, guns and bombs into other nations is idiotic and counterproductive, you're a despicable apologist for tyrants;

- If you don't regularly state that what's going on in Godforsaken Warzone (x) is terrible, and that the people responsible for it are terrible, then you are shamefully silent about the suffering of the people of Godforsaken Warzone (x), and

- Now, apparently, if you do regularly state that what's going on in Godforsaken Warzone (x) is terrible, you're an insufferable prick, doing nothing more than signalling your immense and throbbing personal virtue.

That's quite an extensive list of forbidden behaviours, and if it ever catches on with anyone apart from highly belligerent opinion columnists and rubbish politicians, it's likely to leave most of the populace in a state of what I can only call original sin.   If we can't approve, disapprove or ignore it, what the hell are we meant to do?

Well, that's a good question in the context of conflicts, because I notice that the only option this would leave us for extirpating our sin would be... Furious demands for lots of wars, followed by fervent prayers for victory.

Here, I think we begin to see why the idea of "Virtue Signalling" as a terrible moral flaw is going great guns with certain opinion hacks**, especially those who have long received former left-wingers' confessions, conversions and epiphanies with loud hosannas, as if they were so many miracles.  It's certainly popular with those whose eyes have been sharpest in the search for blasphemy or heresy, and who are most enthusiastic about excommunication.

All of which ecumenical behaviour is quite surprising to behold, when you consider that so many of them (though maybe not all) would probably describe themselves as secularists.

But to return to a theme that I've been arsing on about recently: let's note that all of this is yet another example of what happens when opinion journalism collides with the public in an age of instant global communication - most often, mutual fear and loathing.

And this is understandable to a certain extent, since a good chunk of the public has little to say to the hacks except fuck you and I hope you die in these graphically-described terms, and quite a few of the hacks are only marginally less offensive.

Still though, it's worth noting that most of the hacks manage to retain a sense of proportion about the many things that people say on the internet, even in the face of extreme provocation, not least because maintaining a sense of proportion is one of the basic requirements of professionalism.

Others, though...

*This one does strike me as particularly odd, since it seems especially targeted at people who - for good or ill - are at least trying to do something decent.  Quite a lot of people don't even bother with that. 

**Also because this applies to e.g. Austerity, or telling refugees to sling their hook.  Oooh, look at you, feeling sympathy for suffering human beings, you horrible little arse, you.

Monday, September 21, 2015


So while the Spectator continues to publish endless howls and hoots about the supposed insanity of the left, it's worth noting that the magazine has, in the last few years

- Been censured by the PCC for publishing racist hysterics (Rod Liddle)

- Pled guilty to publishing prejudicial information during the Stephen Lawrence murder trial (Liddle, again)

- Printed an article attempting to rehabilitate the Greek Nazi Golden Dawn party (Taki) and has

- Published a column by a convicted child molester, in which it permitted him to make snotty comments about the "sex abuse allegations industry" (Jonathan King).

To these fine displays of professionalism, we can now add Brendan O'Neill coming out in favour of pig-fucking.

I raise this issue, merely so that the next time one of the Spectator hacks complains about moral relativism at the Guardian, or about outbreaks of social media zoomerism and so on, somebody might point out that e.g. necrophilic bestiality isn't exactly democratic centrism.

We live in hope.