Sunday, 25 September 2011

Conservative Conservatives - can it ever happen again?

The Conservatives under Margaret Thatcher swept to power with a public, absolutely fed up and disillusioned with collectivism, firmly with the new harder line Conservatives and secure in a knowledge of the truth and reality of their cause. It was a time when it seemed that the Soviet Union was set to take over the world and the popular perception was that: Russia's gonna beat us (and perhaps they should).
This conservative knowledge and certainty survived the batterings of collectivist orientated thinking for (just) 18 years.
The Thatcher Government promoted individual liberty, the values of good house keeping (she is a grocer's daughter) and degrees of sound free market economics. It worked because it undid the bonds of state interference, to the extent that it did, and allowed in a profoundly liberating breath of fresh air. It did not achieve its full potential and it was thwarted and hobbled by enemies of freedom within the Conservative Party itself. However there was a spirit of freedom at work, a genuine desire and intent to liberate people from the three day week, the winter of discontent, bullying tactics of unions (led by figures who are now at the top of the Labour Party), a mindset of dependency, and other attempts at, and results of, stupidity.
The battle lines for freedom were indeed manned and commanded by conservative Conservatives. One of the first front lines was the Grunwick strike, an attempt to close down a film processing laboratory because the management and workers refused to be dominated by the totalitarian collectivist unions. Surrounded by violent pickets who refused to allow goods in or out, and a hostile postal workers union that refused to deliver the processed photographs from the laboratory to the public, the company faced bankruptcy and most folk from all political sides, in the collectivist mindset of the time, simply waited for it to happen. A group of "right-wing conservative libertarians" led by the late John Gouriet, smuggled the backlog of processed film out of the laboratory and distributed it into the postal system all around the country so that it became too dispersed to be identified.
The siege of Grunwick was broken.
Many battles were subsequently fought and won against collectivist, centrally controlled and manipulated labour unions acting simply for political power such as in the mines and ship building industries.
However any movement can be subverted with patience and cleverness.
A movement for freedom was subverted into other somewhat similar but secondary aims first by association and then after 18 years of collectivist attack by complete revision, and the Conservatives were voted out by a bored and complacent public that had come to take the advantages of relative freedom for granted. Again.
Subsequently, over a period of years, the whole movement for liberty was re-written by collectivist hacks as a failure that those who loved freedom should have jumped off before it hit the buffers.
But it was not the drive for freedom that hit the buffers. It was the Conservative Party that had been subverted from within and had simply abandoned the principles of freedom. Once the Great British Public became aware, at that level where all people recognise the truth, they abandoned the Conservative Party that had been deceived back into collectivist policies and voted Labour which had by then re-invented itself and was, in spirit, sounding more conservative that the Conservatives.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

If we want schools to be safe places for our children, we need the cane

The maxim goes that every generation thinks of its own childhood as being more innocent than the childhoods of the current lot. It is suspected that this is the succour of memory. There may be some truth behind this suspicion, up to a point. But, in my experience, opponents of corporal punishment in schools (especially those on the Left) use this maxim as a weapon against corporal punishment, the logic of which effectively runs like this: Your wistful imagination tells you that young people were better in the past. As they are really no worse than you were, then there is no need to lash them with the birch.

As I said, there may be some truth in this up to a point. That point was probably somewhere in the 1980s. Looking back twenty years ago to the time I was at secondary school (the early '90s) and comparing it with today, I can't assert that my generation was better. It wasn't. I assume that a moral pit was reached in the 1980s because a whole generation had intervened since the 1960s Cultural Revolution and, in that time, Britain's moral foundation had fell away.

Schools - particularly comprehensives - today are as bad as they were twenty years ago: The lack of academic competition between pupils has been replaced by competition for physical dominance. Physical aggression has gone far beyond a bit of fraternal rough-and-tumble. Cannabis is carried in, and sold from, rucksacks. When rucksacks aren't used for porting illegal substances, they are used for smuggling guns and knives. School lavatories are places where precocious teens unburden themselves of their virginities. Playgrounds are incubators of gang culture. Unruly children are as disruptive in class as they please. Unless a teacher has a specially forceful personality, unruly students find it easy to intimidate him. Academically-minded pupils suffer in silence, or give in and join in the chaos.

There is some public clamour for corporal punishment to be reintroduced into schools to combat the terrible decline of standards. I am all in favour of birching. However, the absence of the cane is only part of the explanation why discipline in schools has worsened. To improve discipline in schools there must be a complete remoralisation of society; grammar schools need to be reintroduced; the only type of family that ought to be promoted is the one consisting of a married couple; comprehensive education must be abandoned along with all the concessions made to "pupil centred" learning; teachers should be competent and not a rag-bag of semi-literates, thickos, diffident types and insipid sorts who are just doing the job for the "Golden Hello" and the generous holidays.

Above all we need to withdraw from the European Union because its doctrine of Human Rights makes birching pupils impossible.

If teachers could administer a lash of the birch without fear of reprisals, it would restore the balance of power in favour of the teacher. The concept of behavioural conditioning is not hard to understand: If you do something which is wrong you get beaten. No one likes being beaten so all but the most insensible would elect to stop behaving wrongly, some of the time.

I don't believe that other forms of punishment in schools work. The alternative to corporal punishment is detention. As multiple children are detained at the same time, detention is far from boring. It is treated as a bit of extra time to do some more of the things that got you detained in the first place.

I know in the debate about corporal punishment the character of the sadistic house-master is raised. I don't doubt that a tiny minority teachers would derive wicked pleasure from beating children. But it is not as if removal of corporal punishment also removes perverted teachers from the school. They are still there, free to enact their fantasies in different ways. Why else are their so many teachers in caught cavorting with underaged children or engaging in acts of child abuse?

People who call for the reintroduction of corporal punishment are sometimes accused of being "authoritarian". Well, I believe that teachers should have authority over children. Only the naive could disagree with this. But the word authoritarian has more sinister tones than that. It plumbs the depths of Orwellian darkness. That is why it is used as a smear. The reason I want corporal punishment reintroduced into school is because my concern lies with studious children who want to learn, who don't want to spend their day surrounded by unruly bullies and general disorder. I imagine how traumatic it is for them.

Isn't it better to make the bad suffer than make the innocent suffer? Sociological thinking has been with us for fifty years now. Nasty pupils have often been seen as victims; we are told that they (conveniently) lack some unspecified quantity of mythical self-esteem. They don't. There is no such thing as self-esteem. Or, if there is, they have it in abundance. Bad pupils do bad things because they enjoy it and because weak, indisciplined schools allow them to get away with it.

In the case of corporal punishment as with capital punishment, we must make a choice between the freedom and happiness of the good and the freedom and lust of the bad. The only person who benefits from the absence of corporal punishment is the misbehaving child. This cannot be doubted. Reintroducing birching would create more studious, academic learning environments. Good students would be happier and calmer. They would be more likely to fulfil their academic potential. Bad students would be less bad; some would even learn the errors of their ways. I am sure that some hitherto bad students would carry their conditioned fear of school rules into society at large and refrain from violating the laws of the land.

If your concern is solely for the bad pupils, corporal punishment must be hard to accept. If your concern is to free bad pupils from feeling transitory pain, then you have had what you want for a few decades now. Go into any inner-city comprehensive and see the effects of your concern. It's not pretty. The reintroduction of the cane, among other things, would help to correct the indiscipline of these schools.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Corporal Punishment got a Dishonourable Discharge - and not Without Good Reason

An interesting and perhaps surprising statistic emerged in a poll that was conducted last week regarding discipline in our education system. By a majority of 49% to 45%, those who answered expressed support for some form of corporal punishment to be restored as an option for teachers in Uk schools (presumably the other 6% were undecided). As this throws the issue under a spotlight of sorts, I'm here to argue the case against the restoration of canes, birches and other weapons as forms of discipline. James Garry of Politics on Toast fame - has kindly agreed to put forward the opposing case on these pages in the near future.

Other results from this poll told me that things were a whole lot worse in the British education system than I first thought. Having left what was a pretty miserable experience behind, my insight into the subject, like that of many, has been through a combination of anecdotes from teachers I have known and reports of classroom episodes that have made their way into the printed, spoken or broadcast media. When tales of students fighting or hurling chairs at their teachers become too frequent to be discarded as a freak occurrence or one-off, the general perception grows that things have undeniably taken a turn for the worse.

However, this bunny always tempered this with a gentle reminder to himself that 'most kids aren't like that - it's just that the vast majority who are generally well-behaved and pass through education in an uneventful fashion are never going to make the newspapers or television'. I still believe this analysis to be fundamentally correct, but there is a statistic from a separate poll on the same subject which suggests that even kids who are possessed of natural mischief without being 'bad' as such have drawn the line.

While 93 per cent of teachers seeking greater powers to impose classroom discipline is an unsurprising figure, the fact that 68 per cent of pupils are calling for exactly the same thing certainly is. My immediate thought was a rather juvenile one - an episode of the Simpsons, where Principal Skinner is sacked from his job at the Elementary school and replaced by cute, cuddly, do-gooding Ned Flanders. The school rapidly disintegrates into mayhem, with Ned explaining to Homer and Marge that his 'kid gloves' approach was a response to the unwelcome 'tough love' of his father. This flashback to the 'harsh discipline' imposed on young Flanders is utterly priceless:-

The serious point is:- Springfield Elementary descends into such unchallenged chaos that even Bart recognises the fun has gone out of it, so he instigates a plan to have Flanders sacked and Skinner re-instated. This bunny can just about recall enough of his childhood to remember that as a general rule, kids are loathe to giving adults greater authority over their lives - so for more than two thirds of them to come out in favour of more power for teachers to impose discipline in schools, something must be dreadfully wrong. A slice of this 68 per cent will of course be those mischief-free students who simply wish to bury their heads in books and get something resembling an education from the whole thing - and good luck to them.

What of the rest? Has it gone too far and become too easy, as Bart ultimately realised? I never thought I'd be referring to the Simpsons in a serious piece of writing, so either a) this bunny is finally going mad or b) our schools really have degenerated into something resembling a cartoon. Or possibly both.

So we're in a mess, the dynamics of which we should probably explore in a separate discussion. It's a quite frequent occurrence that when presented with what might be a complicated set of problems, people are tempted by the presentation of what appears to be a swift and simple solution - in this case, dragging 'the big stick' out of retirement and inflicting it on misbehaving children (I'm not lumping James into this category by the way as I'm sure he would regard this as only one part of any answer). However, there are three main angles from which I seek to explain why support for corporal punishment is deeply misguided - the humane element, assumptions that it makes about 'virtuous' figures of authority and the not insignificant question of whether or not it would have the desired effect in the 21st century.

The banning of corporal punishment in Uk schools was instigated by that most dubious of institutions, the European Court of Human Rights, in 1984. I'm no fan of the ECHR, seeing it as one of several very good reasons in favour of this country withdrawing from the European Union. Of course it would have been a far more satisfactory outcome had this, as with many other changes to our law, been dealt with solely on these shores. As it is, we're left with the view of the ECHR that corporal punishment has no place in schools on the basis that it is 'inhumane' and 'degrading'. My opponents may not have much issue with these words, seeing as the whole thing is supposed to be humiliating/degrading and bloody hurt - hey, it might make the little shit think again next time he's presented with an opportunity to fight, steal or vandalise?

There are, however, several holes in this line of argument. First up, many of us are uncomfortable at the prospect of 'degrading' other people and somewhat squeamish about the thought of canes or birches being used to inflict serious short to mid term pain on them. I'm sure that this bunny is far from alone in not wishing to hear or see anything of the sort, and you're going to come across senior teachers who share that sense of discomfort about the use of force. We're then faced with a choice between either compelling adults to use canes/birches on children against their will, or operating a two-tier system, where corporal punishment operates in some schools but not others. The first scenario sounds nothing less than horrific, while the second would no doubt cause great resentment amongst those kids who 'drew the short straw'.

There are other significant questions, such as - what does corporal punishment teach children on the issue of conflict resolution? Throughout our lives, we are all going to encounter 'difficult' individuals, be they at work, in our day-to-day dealings with people, even on the blogosphere. Most of us understand that resorting to violence is neither a smart move nor an acceptable one, and that anger, frustration or disappointment are not valid excuses for that initiation of force. Wielding a cane or birch and causing physical injury to resolve classroom conflict flies directly in the face of this lesson that we would wish to teach young people, and we need to be very careful about the signals that we are sending as a society.

While corporal punishment has been demonstrated to have some success with 'good kids', several studies have concluded that it can also have a counter-productive effect on those at risk of 'going off the rails' - ie the children that it would in reality be most seeking to 'correct'. When an individual is lacking direction, attempts to physically discipline them may unwittingly sow the seed of 'violence as a solution' in troubled minds. The dreaded law of unintended consequences knows no bounds - after all, it can't be easy for a headteacher to birch seven shades out of a teenager for fighting, then explain to him why violence is so terribly wrong...

The existence of corporal punishment also devalues other, more subtle techniques that could present more lasting consequences to those who misbehave. Belt buckle against flesh was a quite dreadful feeling with which I became familiar when growing up (and deeply resent to this day - does that count as an 'emotional stake' in the issue? I'm genuinely unsure), but the deprivation of privileges such as my allowance and being 'grounded' for a period of time undeniably had a more profound effect on this bunny than any thwacking did as soon as the pain disappeared and/or bruising healed. One of the many problems that comes with the use of force as discipline is that to stand any chance at all of working within a large institution, it must be applied consistently, yet human nature tells us that some individuals respond far better to it than others.

To suggest that 'big adults hitting small children' constitutes a form of bullying might be going too far, but it certainly re-enforces the notion that the bigger, meaner, more intimidating individual is always right, and just with the 'lessons' regarding violence, this is not a sensible message to be sending out to young people. In truth, teachers are just a cross-section of society, and as a breed are no more or less likely to abuse any power given to them, or pursue a personal vendetta against someone they don't like than anyone else. Not every caning in the past was fair, and this bunny is naturally suspicious about granting powers to cause physical harm that work on the assumption that authority is automatically virtuous.

In short, it isn't - in fact like all authority, it attracts some of the worst and most inept people one could imagine. Some teachers, in case one has not already noticed, positively despise children, and should really have not been allowed into the profession. These are precisely the types who would actually quite enjoy the prospect of caning or birching a misguided youth (as many used to, unfortunate as that is), and by definition are the last people one should entrust with the power to do so. Something I noticed during my own time at high school in the 1990s and appears to have continued since is an alarming decline in teaching standards across the board. Without for a second denying that the Uk possesses more than its share of hell-raisers, why when the conversation turns to school discipline does 100% of the focus invariably fall on pupils?

The apparent death of a certain type of guiding hand, who could command a classroom without ranting or becoming hysterical, surely has far more to do with the current state of affairs than has previously been acknowledged? If schools were private companies, paid solely on results, how many teachers would actually keep their jobs? Sometimes it's easy to blame children for everything, but this bunny honestly believes it not to be as simple as that - the presence of too many crap teachers has contributed much to the problems that our schools face, and every time we focus solely on the unruly kids who don't take them seriously, the inept and half-hearted get a free pass. Until we find the stomach to really challenge one of our 'sacred' professions, we will only stand a chance of tackling half of the problem.

Something that supporters of canes/birches may also have neglected to think about is the ripple effect that it would have throughout education and wider society. I remember one teacher at my school who clearly failed to understand that the heyday of brutality against kids was over - one of his favourite tricks was (quite skillfully) spotting a pupil 'illegally' running through a corridor then, as he approached, grabbing the miscreant by the collar and pinning him against the wall - quite how he kept his job is beyond me, but keep it he did. The thought of this kind of 'open house' on physical assaults against pupils is deeply unsettling, yet once you break the taboo that says 'teacher violence is wrong', is allowing this sort of thing not the next logical step?

Schools could become very sombre and intimidating places rather quickly once this taboo is broken, and as somebody who seeks a happy medium between the do-gooder anarchy that dominates at the moment and the opposite extreme, the prospect of 'boot camps that also educate' is one that worries this bunny immensely. Presumably, those favouring the use of corporal punishment as discipline in schools would grant the same privilege to the legal guardians of the child? I ask because, while I wouldn't wish to criminalise the application of a light smack to a child who fails to (for example) look before crossing the road, granting bad parents who take out personal frustrations on their kids the legal use of a weapon like a birch is no more than state-sponsored child abuse.

Would corporal punishment have sufficient deterrent value to make it work? Perhaps were it applied consistently across every school in the Uk it would have a fighting chance of making some kids think twice before misbehaving. However, many senior teachers would simply refuse to operate it as a punishment, which seriously undermines its effect - and that's before we get to the ground I covered earlier regarding the price paid for these dubious benefits. Moreover, never underestimate the creative ability of a hell-raiser to turn a punishment into a badge of honour. Remember how ASBOs became status symbols that served as an indicator that a misguided youth had 'made it?'. What is often forgotten is that the shame and stigma of being caned was probably more important in its previous role as a (fairly successful) punishment in schools than the physical pain itself - you've heard the line that went 'you didn't tell your dad you'd been caned in case he hit you again'.

With the punishment regarded as a badge of honour or rite of passage by those on the receiving end, and neither parent working or generally giving a shit about much, could that shame and stigma be re-created in 21st century Britain? I very much doubt it.

There's so much we can do to get the ineptitude out of our teaching profession, make the curriculum more relevant to pupils and apply punishments to their misdemeanours, then actually follow them through. Assault on a teacher or anyone for that matter is a criminal offence, and kids need to understand that when they pick fights with adults, they run the risk of adult consequences. This bunny firmly believes in the right to defend oneself when presented with a physical threat, be that through retaliation or redress from the courts (if this means changes in the law then no argument from here). The initiation of violence against another human being is always wrong, and teaching this lesson clearly and unequivocally to our young people can only help us as a society - so put that big stick down, it has no business here. Take care and I'll catch you soon.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Economic woes - zero sum game thinking seems to be taking over again

The thinking of theft is profoundly destructive. It tends to corporatism, mercantilism, socialism, all the systems that lead ultimately to poverty and destruction.

It is thinking based on: Any benefit for me has to be at the expense of you, so toughies to you. Or if its the other way around – you rich swine, you have obviously ripped off the poor and now I must steal your wealth away from you and give it back to those from whom you stole.
The cake is finite and for some to have more they must have deprived or must deprive others to get it.

That thinking is terribly sad, because not only is it untrue in all but the very short term, it leads to much of the misery, despair and death with which we live and die.

The libertarian approach is a blessing in that it recognises our ability to achieve and allows the freedom to pursue every course that is not based on the destruction of others.

Unfortunately, because the zero-sum-game mentality has become so embedded in our psyches, it is but a slip of the mind away from taking over, yet again, and depriving all of us of opportunity and achievement.

The businesses that succeed tend to employ the approach of promoting the interests of everyone involved. Those that tend towards failure are more concerned with taking the creativity from and ensuring the minimum return for its employees.

It seems that the fashion is to regard colonialism as an evil curse. This, after all, was the process by which the wealth of say, Africa was ripped from the ground and transported to Europe.
Whether one sees the western, Europe-originated, way of life as a curse or a blessing is an opinion, but certainly, the establishment of the colonies brought massive infrastructure in the lands they colonised and enabled all the western advantages such as roads, telephones, technology, medicine, agricultural cash crops, air transport, the whole modern way of life that continues to exist despite prevalent zero-sum-game attitudes and consequent breakdowns.

Life does not have to be a zero sum game, and is not, when creative people have the freedom to seek their own benefit.

Certainly, what has come from the alternative approach has only ended in death and failure.

I can imagine the response: But what about those who start from a background of deprivation and disadvantage?
I am afraid that is the zero sum game speaking, as it is when an entrepreneur seeks to build any business based on taking wealth from others rather than wealth generation.
It is an approach that is untrue and unhelpful and just needs to get left behind.

The way out of deprivation is through achievement and for there to be achievement there first has to be the freedom to think and to express. And then to do and create without the hinderence of some trying to make sure you do not deprive others by your efforts, and slapping all sorts of regulatory requirements on you.

You cannot legislate creativity.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Benedict Le Gauche and his Contrarian CV

Many thanks to the friend who pointed me in the direction of this story - The pitching of a CV to attract a favourable response from prospective employers is a difficult business - I've met people who possess a multitude of them, crafted specifically to meet the requirements of the role for which they have applied. Most of us, this bunny included, restrict our take on the hard sell to a single document that masks our obvious weaknesses while wildly exaggerating the scale of anything that might, at a stretch, constitute some sort of achievement.

All part of the game, yeah?

28 year-old Mancunian Benedict Le Gauche's attempt to make himself an attractive proposition to life's movers, shakers and go-getters could only be described as authentic, original, and in its own more than slightly unstable way, quite brilliant - Perpetual lethargy, petty theft, habitual lateness and an overwhelming sense of utter boredom regarding the "boring, drudgerous and disheartening" world of earning a living all make an appearance in a CV that could only have been crafted by an individual in possession of a genuine flair for the written word. Conversely, this document can also be interpreted as a full-on expression of disdain for the very notion of work itself, as well as a sentiment that 'whatever role I am likely to get, I will always feel it is that bit beneath my talents'. Like most who are individualistic and eccentric, De Gauche is far from simple to figure out - as a result, this bunny remains somewhat non-committal in regard to whether or not he likes the man.

Much of what he says, albeit indirectly is completely true - the pressure on individuals to compete with each other both to get into a workplace and then progress there can trap many in a cycle of ambition and the process of whoring oneself that appears to become an inevitable part of achieving their goals. Kids are coached at school in the 'art' of job interviews and selling themselves as the perfect, flawless employee which by the very laws of humanity they, and in fact none of us are. Much of what goes on in the occupational sphere is little more than a human chess match - the choice merely lies in the degree to which we as individuals choose to take part. At one extreme end of the spectrum is the 'company minded team-player' who, when asked what his weaknesses are at interview, responds "I'm a perfectionist and I work too hard", before impressing those in the finest hats with a cocktail of arse-licking, sycophancy and maybe a spot of hard work.

Several stratospheres in the opposite direction, and determined to take any element of unwelcome surprise out of the equation is Le Gauche, a man who clearly defends his individuality and sense of self with fierce determination that belies the apathy towards other areas of life in which he clearly takes a perverse degree of pride. Most of us fall somewhere in the middle of these two extremes - this bunny, being honest, leans further towards Benedict's end of the spectrum than many would be comfortable with, which is why he perhaps feels a tad more warmth towards the talented idler than most (I know our contributor Tommy Atkins may go slightly further than this -

However, there are some troubling aspects to Benedict's 'search for work' , most notably the fact that he lives off a combination of a girlfriend with two jobs and a large overdraft. 'Being your own man' is, if anything, to be encouraged, provided of course that it is not at the expense of others. In the MEN's piece on the same subject, the interviewer notes that Le Gauche feels 'guilt' about this fact. It's perhaps unfortunate that such emotions do not stretch to a willingness to park a slice of whatever self-respect/pride he is (not) working to retain and just temper things sufficiently to become a viable proposition to someone, somewhere - unless of course this exercise is little more than a means by which to render himself unemployable, a thought that has probably occurred to most of you.

It's clear as a bell that Le Gauche is a young man who is thoroughly disenchanted with at least one significant area of life, but it is difficult to feel much in the way of sympathy when "part of the problem is I don't know what I want to be". This in itself is a highly puzzling statement given that he is clearly of above average intelligence, but may be a substantial part of whatever 'solution' Benedict is looking for.

Many of us get little in the way of enjoyment or genuine satisfaction from the job we do - some cling on to whatever unlikely aspirations and hopes they had while the clock ticks by, while others accept over time that the moment in which they were going to 'make it happen' has long passed (of course, the transition from the first of those phases to the second is a fairly natural one). Either way, it's a means of rationalising, compartmentalising and dealing with an area of our lives that we may not particularly like:- as 'what we have for now' or 'all we will ever have - and hey, it's not that bad'. It may be simple and convenient to dismiss someone like Le Gauch as a 'dreamer', but from where this bunny is stood, his CV is the work of a disillusioned thinker who in fact does not dream nearly enough. After all, 28 is far too young an age at which to accept being 'ordinary'. Take care and I'll catch you soon.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Truth and the Collective

From what I read in the more left wing publications, libertarianism is often dismissed as selfish, self-concerned, lacking in the milk of human kindness, harsh, and a lackey philosophy of the uncaring exploitative business class. A Tory plot to dispossess and destroy the cooperative harmony of the people, perhaps?

However it seems to me that such thinking is part of a greater desire to conceal the circumstances that constitute true freedom and cooperation. What might be considered the true collective.

Trying to define reality in human relationships, with both our own capacity for self deception, especially when our egos are at stake, and the subtle but powerful deceptions being promoted by those who have vast interests involved, is difficult and is possibly set to become much harder as those interests promote more obscure and untrue divisions, straw man arguments and illusory comforts of the mind. Facts are massaged until they are able to support attitudes, actions and conclusions that bear little resemblance to reality.
In fact it seems, now, that the attacks on truth/reality are taking us back to a wasteland of mind and spirit that has not been around as the dominant political and philosophical landscape since the mid 1970s (even though the number of street cameras has been steadily growing all the while, in anticipation perhaps, of this fresh awakening of death?).
To perceive the truth and resist the intellectual temptations of deception on offer will become ever more difficult. Liberty is being made unfashionable.

In any situation the basic truth is simple.
What we spend our time, energy and effort trying to find out, to "discover" is literally, doing just that - "dis-cover". To remove the cover. To penetrate obfuscations, lies and deceptions that surround simple truth. Whether we told them to ourselves or someone else did it for us.

The truest and most honest collectivism (collective action) is the free interaction of individuals. The evil, coercive collectivism as perceived by those who cherish liberty is actually the coercion exercised by individuals promoting their interests by dominating and manipulating the collective. It is a deception. The true, benevolent, collective is the spontaneous co-operation of individuals working according to their own natural requirements and desires and in response to the requirements and desires of those around them, and thus the truest collective is the free market. The spontaneous interaction of value judgements. It becomes corrupt when one particular interest group achieves an unnatural dominance and thus promotion of its interests through trickery. Be it corporate or communist in name it is the force of an individual or some individuals, not the collective.

It would thus seem the accusation that libertarians and those who cherish the value of the individual are selfish, and only concerned with their own interests and thus lacking in that kindness that flows more naturally through the veins of coerced but caring socialists, is actually based on a string of false assumptions initiated by someone's concealed agenda to control.

Perhaps even one's own.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

What a riot

So many serious people are pontificating on the cause of the recent riots around Britain, and what should be done about them, that I feel almost too overawed to comment.
Surely such great minds can deal with this?

It truly saddens and alarms me that so much time, effort, mind power and TV exposure can be put into evading reality.

Why have individuals gone on a rampage? Because they can? But why would they want to?

As far as I can see it is the result of, a response to, the simple old control lust that runs through all of us and that a nice preacher-psychologist that I once heard referred to as the cause of all mankind's woes: The desire to tell other people what they must think and do.

The solutions being mooted are more of the same. We should do this, or that. Harsher sentences. More remedial actions. Build better social services. Simply put - interfere even more than before. That very interference and micro-management that has caused the problems in the first place.

What should be done?

NOTHING! Back off and leave alone. Stop interfereing in the detail of people's lives.

Where a crime against someone or their property is committed, sure, prosecute and sentence. And err, if at all, on the side of hardness.

But otherwise leave people alone to run their own lives.

And before the old control lust kicks in and we start trying to teach people to be individually responsible and free - again, stop!

Sure, the information that individual freedom and individual responsibility is the key to a happy community (because the individuals are happy) can be made available.
And the example of a personally free and a personally responsible lifestyle can be presented through one's own life.

But this ghastly urge to muck other people about has got to stop.

Simply. The cause of the riots is that individuals have run out of a sense of personal responsibility. They have run out of a desire to be personally responsible because someone else is assuming this for them, and doing so, if they would admit it, to further their own lust for control.

One cannot control people into becoming more individually responsible.
They need to understand the concept because it makes sense (as have better politicians understood that smaller government is better government) not because someone tells them it is true.

But of course, to the empire builders, such ideas of individual freedom and responsibility are anathema.

The empire builder in all of us - that which would would control - is the cause.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011


It is strange how many subtle changes can alter an entire national perspective. The Britain I last lived in about 30 years ago was radically different from the Britain today.

Take Binism.

It seems Britain has a new religion that has been added to its cultural diversity.

Where I am now living Binists studiously prepare their offerings once a fortnight and then in a moment of magical mystery wheel out their dedications in the dead of night to be accepted by the great recycling god in the early hours of the new day.
Great precision and dedication goes into preparing the offering with no attention spared to correct presentation.
Plastic to plastic, paper to paper, glass to glass is presented in wee, tiny boxes laid out in front of one's dwelling.
Offerings from the garden such as precious grass cuttings and leaves tend not to be offered back to the soil but are wheeled out in mighty brown bins to be taken up by the Binist priests shortly after the sun has risen above the horizon.

Sometimes there is a procession of differing orders of Bin priests.
Those who take the plastic, glass and paper seriously and indifferently accept the boxes of offerings, casting the containers back before the dwellings.
However, the great excitement is in the great Bin god priest machines that stalk the streets.

Ah, such drama! Ah,what splendour, what glorious exhaltation!
The dawn is broken by the crashing roar of priest machine gods that thunder and tumble in the streets. True magnificence.
Bin priests scurry from dwelling to dwelling, receiving the offerings and presenting them to the great machine god thunderous beasts.
Any unwary traffic at that time swiftly retreats and cowers in alleys and doorways before that presence.

With swift deference the bins are presented by the priests to the great machine gods that lift and quaff them as you or I would a glass of ale.
And then they roar, belching smoke and fire into the crystal day morn and consume one's petty offering.
The bin priests run from dwelling to dwelling seeming enthralled in greater knowledge, wisdom and ecstacy than such as we, mere lay folk, can hope to know.

And then the great machine god calms, perhaps hiccups, and grandly moves ahead.

Long after the great bin gods have consumed ones' streets with power and glory, one may hear them strutting the neighbourhood challenging mere mortality.
Sometimes closer, sometimes further, until at last the mighty thunder is heard no more.
We are cleansed.
Great catharsis. Great terror and upliftment.

We wait in glorious anticipation for our next encounter with humanity's true grace and wisdom.