Monday, 26 November 2012

Ice-T on gun control

I first discovered Ice-T back in 1998/99 on MTV (yeh that's right they played music on mtv in those days) when I was just starting to develop my own tastes in rap, heavy metal and music in general. The main bands that I enjoyed back in high school (much to the dismay of my parents) were Prince, Led Zeppelin, Guns n Roses, NWA, Motley Crue and Aerosmith, but most of all I loved Body Count. Body Count were fronted by Ice-T, the band produced hip hop records that made eminem look like Eamon Holmes. The most notable Body Count track being Cop Killer which was eventually withdrawn by Time Warner due to pressure from Al-Gore's wife, as she disliked the records "anti-police sentiment and interpretation of women". However Ice-T did not let this derail his career and his immense talent was not confined to the music world. He has proven himself to be one of hollywood's top actors along with his television role on Law & Order SVU. So it was with particular delight that I discovered this clip on youtube that shows Ice-T's views on gun control to be exactly the same as my own. In this clips he comes across as eloquent, intelligent, brave, handsome and charismatic. Like daniel in the lions den, he puts himself in front of the medias cameras to present an unpopular point of view, for which he will undoubtedly suffer mud slinging and personal insults from mainstream political "commentators" like Michael Moore and Johann Hari . Ice-T you've still got!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Chapin's Inferno - a Wandering Couldron of Politically Incorrect Commentary...

All I'll say about this channel is that regardless of whether or not you agree with Bernard, his observations on culture, politics and history are almost certain to engage the brain and provoke a level of thought that could not be found elsewhere (minor qualification - you must have a functioning brain to start with, don't blame me if you're not smart enought to get this guy).

Anyway, I'm fortunate enough in that I agree with the Inferno some three quarters of the time, the exceptions perhaps being on minutae of social policy where I'm bound to have the occasional conflict with a Conservative-Libertarian hybrid. Even in those areas of genuine disagreement, Bernard articulates his point in such a way that demands thought and a considered response, which immediately places him at a higher level than most in terms of serious social and political commentary, including a great many who are well paid to churn out re-hashed nonsense to the already converted (this reminds me, is Johann Hari 'working' again?).

A classic litmus test of liberal instinct is that the individual holds genuine bigotry and its supposed enemy, politcal correctness, with equal contempt. In that regard, Bernard certainly ticks the box.

The biggest single thing I like about Bernard is HE HAS BALLS. Having been a bit of a pussy in the past myself, I appreciate this is easier said than done, but I wish more of us would have the courage to stand up to conventional wisdom and disregard the churlish names that we might get called as a result. Nobody has to prove that they 'care' by supporting increased state activity. There is of course a completely rational argument that the over-taxation of low-earners, allied to a welfare monster that cultivates idleness and dependancy, actually hurts those 'little people' the state is supposed to 'care' about.

Of course I care about low-earning people, since unlike many mainstream Statists, I've actually been one of them. Staring at the meagre number at the bottom of a payslip, then seeing the rather large number under 'deductions' is a demoralising experience, and, frankly, it fucking sucks.

I know it's linked at the bottom of the page, but this guy and his channel are well worth a go - let us know your thoughts. Take care and I'll catch you soon.

Chapin's Inferno - a Wandering Couldron of Politically Incorrect Commentary

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Thought for the day

So when the new dawn begins to break Just lift up your eyes, let your heart awake Be ready to meet what day may send And be ready to great every man as a friend :-)

Sunday, 11 November 2012

The State and its Mainstream Media - Working in Unison to Keep us Down, and the Truth Out

Ostensibly, the 'Newsnight' fiasco surrounding allegations of child abuse against Lord McAlpine is the latest in a catalogue of recent blunders by the BBC, the cumulative effect of which left former director general George Entwistle with no alternative but to walk the plank and secure himself a rather dubious place in history as the Beeb's shortest-serving top man of all time.

'Shoddy journalism' was the cancer within an organisation for which its head rightly took the blame. My gut reaction was that for once, the man in charge was putting his hands up and taking responsibility for a terrible wrong that took place on his watch. This of course should be respected in an age where directors of failing companies and politicians caught indulging in one form of dishonesty or another cling on for dear life, hoping that some shiny and newer scandal will come along, acing their own and therefore buying  an ill-earned reprieve.

But is there more to this than meets the eye? Is this instinctive reaction the one that someone, somewhere wanted to lead the rest of us away from the scent? What has taken place in the last week or so seems bizarre in the extreme, with far too many complicated goings on for them all to have been coincidental.

As the posthumous complaints against Jimmy Savile passed the 300 mark, many of us began to realise that this could not simply be the work of a fucked-up old man and a few of his famous friends, indulging in some afters with underage groupies following television broadcasts. The possibility that a celebrity paedo ring might well have been running in Britain at the time (and to the best of our knowledge, it might still be in business) was a chilling but inescapable thought that would render the late 'Sir James' as merely the first in a long line of dominoes - keep digging and the whole deck will collapse, no doubt revealing some unfortunate truths along the way.

There is a token nod in this direction from the establishment as Gary Glitter, perhaps the definition of low-hanging fruit when it comes to this subject, was re-arrested in connection with goings-on following recordings of Top of the Pops and Jim'll Fix It. Glitter had of course been busted more than a decade ago over the rather unsavoury contents of his hard drive, with Savile offering a robust public defence of his friend. He then moved to Vietnam, apparently believing that adults nailing children was legal over there, and soon discovered otherwise.

That Glitter is into kids was hardly news, but served as some sort of gesture towards the whole thing being taken 'seriously'. Whether or not he is guilty of these 'new' offences is an entirely different question, one that can also be applied to the catalogue of ex-celebrities who have been the subject of allegations stemming from the investigation into Savile's activities. The picture being built up by this is that Savile  not only abused children himself, but 'fixed' them for other famous people to use for their own gratification.

Serious stuff, as yet unproven, but undeniably worthy of further investigation.

As most of you will already have heard or read, Savile was also a seriously connected man who took pride in being able to 'work deep cover' and 'get things done'. As well as spending more than one Christmas the the Thatchers', this third-rate disc jockey was on seriously good terms with the Royal Family for more than a decade, even acting as an unlikely mediator between Charles and Di as their marriage dissolved into the sham that most sensible people knew it was. He also had open house on several hospitals and homes for vulnerable or damaged children, most notably owning a set of keys to Broadmoor, home of Peter Sutcliffe amongst others. In 1988, Savile even was placed at the head of a 'task force' set up to turn round the mental hospital when was believed to be failing.

Then there was the Haut de la Garenne children's home in Jersey, where systematic abuse of vulnerable young people defined the very character of an institution. We now know that this was amongst the premises over which Savile had free rein and the licence to come and go as he pleased, despite his claims at the time that he had never been there. Photographic evidence established this as the blatant lie that it was.

Apologies if I'm going over old ground  here, but how the fuck does a distinctly average DJ achieve all of this? And in the light of suggestions that he obtained children for other wealthy and well-connected abusers, does all of this not strike you as about a hundred times more suspicious than it would already be? The very simple question is - did Savile obtain children for the purposes of physical, psychological or sexual abuse, on behalf of any individual who is still alive?

If there is any evidence whatsoever that he did, then put it to those involved and try them accordingly.

I very much doubt that any of you disagree with this rather basic analysis, which hardly counts as genius material it must be said. As of a week ago, the total haul consisted of Savile (dead) and a few relics either convicted of something else (Glitter) or subject of rumours along these lines for several decades (of course they remain innocent until proven otherwise).

Then the story took a new twist, as the Welsh Care Homes scandal, first investigated during the 1990s, came back under the spotlight. Steve Messham, one of the victims of horrific and systemic abuse that was originally reported on in 2000, claimed that a still living prominent Tory during the 1980s had been amongst those who had helped themselves. Of course we now know how that ended, but we'll come back to that shortly - the significant shift was that this harrowing tale was no longer the confine of former B-listers or those who had passed away, but included people in public life, who were still around to answer questions and face charges should sufficient evidence be available.

What would happen, were it to turn out that a celebrity child abuse ring existed, and included significant members of leading political parties? I know that as a country we don't do revolution and civil disobedience on anything like the scale that (for example) the French do, but one can imagine the reaction of the general public, were it ever proven that the political class were not just thieves, liars and hypocrites of enormous magnitude, but abusers of the young and vulnerable on an industrial scale. There would be mass rioting in the streets, all of the major parties would die overnight, while the establishment would face the prospect of either setting the police and the army on its own people, or being overthrown.

Cue a most welcome intervention from the mainstream media...

Phillip Schofield is hardly genius material either, but then he's not exactly stupid and has decades of experience as a broadcast journalist and host of (pretty useless) television programmes. I'm sure that somewhere in his training the notion of sub-judice would have come up, namely the rules that forbid the media from repeating hearsay or casting aspersions that might compromise the outcome of an ongoing or future trial. So his supposed act of ambush last Thursday, handing a (legible) list of possible Tory paedophiles to Dave live on television, and demanding a response, was far too ridiculous to be a mere accident.

Boris Johnson has since described it as "a pretty rum piece of journalism" and "a very curious thing for the producers to allow to happen". Well, no shit Sherlock. In fact were one a 'crazed conspiracy theorist' operating in the 'lawless sphere of t'internet', one might even be tempted to think that this now immortal piece of television was deliberately contrived to drive up ratings while simultaneously sabotaging the prosecution of anyone who was on that list, or thought they were on that list, or thought that members of the jury might think they were on that list.

Perish the thought, eh?

On Question Time, the 'rising star' of the Labour Party, Chuka Umunna, offered his own unique and brilliant piece of insight "I think what Phillip Schofield did was foolish, stupid and grossly irresponsible. And frankly, rather amateur. It's not what you expect of serious broadcast journalism."

Really? Fuck me, now I understand why I've never seen Andrew Jennings or John Pilger pull that trick on camera. All of the pieces are suddenly starting to fit...

Any decent lawyer would of course play this card to the max and invite counsel to conclude that the defendant could not possibly receive a fair trial in these circumstances - case dismissed and game over.

The most telling element of this story is that despite committing a blatant and potentially catostrophic act of sub-judice live on national television, Schofield remains in his job. Doesn't that strike you as unusual?

Meanwhile, the 'Newsnight' brand decided to contract out their investigation into the Welsh Care Homes scandal, relying heavily on the evidence of Steve Messham. As we now know, Messham claimed that this senior Conservative figure had been amongst those who had abused him, but did not name the man involved. It was then exposed by the Guardian that the man he was referring to was Lord McAlpine, and this was almost certainly a case of mistaken identity, meaning that McAlpine was completely innocent.

To be wrongly accused of a ghastly crime as he was must be a horrific ordeal in itself, and my heart goes out to the man.

Fast forward to today's Mail on Sunday, where it emerges that Messham had been deemed an unreliable witness during the original investigation, had falsely accused a police officer of sexually assaulting him and reacted violently when cross-examined during the first inquiry, leaping out of the witness box and throwing punches at the opposing barrister. The full story can be found here -

It's worth stating here that while Messham appears to have contrived or imagined one or two tales of abuse over the years (as his lawyer accepted) that he did genuinely go through real and undeserved pain, inflicted by adults he should have been able to trust. What is likely is that the catalogue of abuse has blurred into a kind of sick montage, with the precise names, dates and faces involved with specific incidents slipping from his immediate recall. That his experiences have confused and disturbed his mind to the point where little appears to be certain, this is absolutely not his fault, and that  disgusting piece of Tory filth David Mellor was bang out of order, calling Messham a 'weirdo' on national television earlier today.

The questions I would love to know the answer to are:-

1. Why did the BBC, rather than using people employed by the corporation for the very purpose of investigative journalism, contract this work out to another media organisation?
2. Why, given that the discrediting of Messham as an unreliable witness was already out in the public domain, did the Bureau of Investigative Journalism rely so heavily on him when presenting their case? Were they so desperate for cash that they pushed ahead with the story, regardless of the flimsiness of the premise on which it was based?

From a distance, it sounds like the very deliberate exploitation of a vulnerable and confused man who has been through an ordeal that you would not wish on anyone, then replayed the details over in his head to the point where faces and places have become at best sketchy.

And back to Schofield - where did he get his information? T'intenet of course...

The most positive aspect of the internet is that it has removed the monopoly position that those in public life held over social and political discourse. Established journalists with friends on the inside may dismiss bloggers and independent scribes as 'social inadequates spewing their bile from Mum's basement', but the serious point is that now, everybody really is entitled to a view of the world and for their opinion to be taken semi-seriously by those who can be bothered reading or listening. 'What matters' is now a discussion point for all of us, not just politicians and members of the establishment.

We owe much of that to the internet, so it's little wonder that the same establishment wants to control and regulate it.

I'll leave you with this - the best way of analysing a situation is by looking at its winners and losers, who lost out while others got the outcome that they wanted. If we look at this from the perspective of motive, means and opportunity, then it breaks down as follows:-

While the police investigation into Jimmy Savile centred around other ex-celebrities, all was well - arrests were made and several people interviewed.

The possibility that those in public life were involved in the industrial scale abuse of children then arose when the Welsh Care Homes scandal re-surfaced.

Within 36 hours, we've had two situations that have been presented to the public as monumental fuck-ups by rival media organisations, competing for ratings.

One contracted the work out and excluded journalists who would have understood the potential fallout of the BBC getting it wrong again, having shelved the initial Savile investigation.

They're now presented with the claim of having not run the good story, but run the bad one, while their star witness has now been established as being a frightened and confused man who cannot be relied upon when guilt has to be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

Meanwhile, on another channel, a high-profile TV presenter commits sub-judice live on air and compromises any investigation into current or former Members of Parliament. Despite this, he remains in his very well paid job.

Two major acts of sub-judice, both committed by the mainstream media exclusively against the political class, with no reference whatsoever to other accused persons - they remain fair game and will be offered up as pieces of meat to the general population.

Politicians and ex-politicians are now virtually immune from prosecution.

Meanwhile, the State is set to step up the crusade against expression via the internet, and monopolise public discourse once again.

Coincidence, or the mainstream media colluding to protect the establishment and get them a result?

Unlike the mainstram media, I'll leave you to make up your own mind. Take care and I'll catch you soon.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Dario Hubner

As a fan of the (now no longer) Piacenza Calcio and the striker known as 'the Bison', it seems that some sort of tribute to the man is in order. Possessed of power, aerial ability and a clinical strike for goal, Hubner is without doubt one of the greatest Italian players never to play for one of their 'big' clubs.

How does a man capable of striking fear into defences to the extent that he did slip under the radar for so long?

Would this guy not have been fucking dynamite in the Premier League (well, stratospheres better than Andrea Silenzi anyway)?

And how the hell do you score 24 goals in a World Cup year and not make the plane? Major club bias, methinks...

Here are some of his greatest moments, including that 24 strike haul in 2001-02.

What a fucking legend - take care and I'll catch you soon...

Sunday, 7 October 2012

RIP Billy Mackenzie

Thanks for being here, and thanks for being you...

William, you were really something.

God bless that man - just wish I'd been one of his associates...

Wonder what Hannah (their biggest fan) is doing now? Take care and I'll catch you soon.

PS - apologies for the presence of a certain Mr Savile in one of these TOTP appearances. Hope the performance makes up for it.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Legal Abuse

Evening boys and girls - let's start this with a quote:-

"People with an emotional stake in an issue are not always the best-equipped to make a judgement on it".

Anyone wondering which famous scholar said such a thing will be relieved to know that the man concerned was neither famous nor possessed of remarkable intellect. It was actually myself, talking about double jeopardy and I think it's worth repeating before talking about the issue of parents smacking their children.

I know more than most about the pain of belt buckles, slaps and puches that snap the head back and being grabbed by the throat and having one's head smacked repeatedly against the wall. Some readers will take the view that 'what goes on in the home stays in the home' and that this sort of thing should be regarded as 'fair game'. I disagree precisely because I was told that 'what goes on in the home stays in the home' as a kid, and when I began to talk to others about the experience as a teenager, realised why I'd been given that instruction. So yes, I have an emotional stake in this issue - feel free to disregard my take on it based on previous comments.

Parents have legitimate authority if they're the ones paying the bills and providing a roof above the heads of their offspring, but like all authority, it has to be checked and the police have to be policed themselves. I think that ultimately the smacking of children, unless carried out as an act of self-defence, is child abuse and there are no exceptions to this. Does that mean that anyone who has ever used physical force of any description on their kids is some kind of monster who gets their kicks from dishing out pain? After some consideration, the answer is probably not, although I wish more reasonable adults would take a stance against the culture that says 'kids are fair game and need a good hiding every now and then'.

This has been prevalent in our society for centuries and helped to protect generations of abusers and sadists from the consequences of their actions.

Many people grind out a generally unhappy and unfulfilled existence, and perhaps have regular moments akin to that described in the Martha and the Muffins song, Echo Beach. They wish they could forget the boredom of marriage, work, kids, dog and lawnmower, dsaappear somewhere exotic and live a life that actually appeals to them. They get frustrated and pissed off about things, they don't always regard their kids as the most important people on their planet, sometimes they even resent them for getting in the way of travelling, new experiences and freedom to regard tomorrow as the next day of the rest of their lives.

The reason I mention this is because the permission that parents currently have to justify the smacking of their kids is based on the misplaced assumption that they will always make a reasoned judgement on what constitutes 'just cause' and 'reasonable force'. The most unreasonable people I have ever met were all adults and not children, so the thought that they could play judge, jury and executioner, having been given legal power to do so by the state, sends a chill down the spine. An ex-boss of mine once had a piece of paper on his wall that simply stated 'NEVER MAKE A DECISION WHILE YOU'RE ANGRY'. We all know that judgement calls are susceptible to mood swings and feelings caused by something that might have the square root of zip to do with the behaviour of the child.

Then there's the more sinister situation where a 'strict upbringing' based on 'discipline' can so easily become the smokescreen for tacit (or even outright) cruelty and abuse. Some people are just bad bastards who like dishing out pain, enjoy getting their kicks from watching others suffer, feeling big through the process of making someone else feel about six inches tall. The trouble with these bad bastards is that they tend to also be clever bastards who understand exactly where the legal boundaries are and stop either on or a fraction short of it, or overstep the mark while mainpulating the uncoditional love of their kids, convincing them that what goes on in a nasty and unpleasant household is 'normal' or 'all for your own good, and I'm only doing it because I love you'.

Fuck off Dad, I hope you burn in hell you evil bastard...

Anyway, swiftly moving on...

There are of course much less emotive arguments against the smacking of children. The initiation of aggression against any other individual is rightly a crime and there is no logical argument for an exception being made just because the person on the receiving end of violence happens to be one's own child. A person subjected to this kind of assault is surely entitled to defend themselves, so what if a teenager on the end of an unjust hiding for something they didn't actually do turns round, stripes Mum or Dad and hospitalises them? Personally, I wish them all the luck in the world and would gladly give them a fiver for every broken rib, but maybe I'm going a step too far? The serious point is that supporters of legal violence cannot have it both ways, since favouring the initiaition of force while refusing the victim's right to self-defence equates to:- CHILD = PUNCHBAG.

How as a parent can one turn round to a child who has been fighting, and demonstrate that violence is wrong by using violence themselves? All this does is plant the seed in a young mind that force solves problems, that the bigger or more violent person is always right, that this is a means by which an individual can get his or her way. Violence of course is no solution, and we shouldn't be sending young people such mixed messages. Moreover, is there any evidence that corporal punishment of any description turns bad kids around, or has any positive effect whatsoever? I don't doubt that some good parents occasionally use this weapon because it happens to be there legally, but then good parents, who spend quality time with their kids, take time to explain right from wrong and instill some values in them, don't need to.

There seems to be an overlap in views on corporal and capital punishment (i.e. most people who are against one are also against the other). This makes logical sense, since not only do both work on the basis that two wrongs equate to justice, but they also assume that some divine figure of authority will behave flawlessly, with total honesty, fairness and reason, at all times. I dunno about you, but humanity has never inspired me with such confidence, and this is why the smacking of children should be outlawed.

Kids are not 'fair game' and do not 'need a good hiding every now and then'.

Thanks for reading - take care and I'll catch you soon.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

The Price of Free Speech...

Nice video here from Australia on the issue of freedom of expression.

Here's 'the Forbidden History of Unpopular People'.

Nice to know that 'conventional wisdom is no wisdom' has travelled.

Some more great work from Topher and friends can be found here -

Take care and I'll catch you soon.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Double Jeopardy and Juries Revisited

Ok - many thanks to both Malpoet and the contributor referring to him or herself as 'J' for their responses on a thread last year regarding the subject of double jeopardy. Disovering that people actually read and digest the content of this site was immensely flattering in itself, so it probably qualifies for re-examination more than most of the subjects that we've covered here.

It might be better if we do juries first, since this is a complicated maze of an issue on which I've changed my mind, thanks in no small part to the legend that is Malpoet. Trial by one's peers has a certain symetry in terms of being the judicial equivalent of representative democracy, seen by its supporters as 'the least worst system, apart from all of the others'. Isn't it nice that the butcher and baker can own a stake in the judicial process, even if it's clear cut that they're either ill-equipped to measure guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, or have no interest in following the nuances of the case whatsoever.

What is reasonable doubt anyway? I've heard two basic attempts to define this rather important term, and neither seem adequate. One is basically the measurement of certainty regarding a man's guilt expressed as a percentage, but then this is highly subjective. If we accept that 'beyond a reasonable doubt' stops just short of absolute certainty, then how convinced of the defendant's guilt must one be in order to pass that threshold? Are we talking 85% here? Or 90, 95 or even 99.9%? People will of course reach their wildly varying conclusions on this, and though one might suggest that 15% certainly represents sufficient reasonable doubt for acquittal, the other eleven members of the jury may see the standard somewhat differently.

Then there is the problem of potential jurors who 'just know' instinctively whether or not a defendant is guilty by weighing up body language, making eye contact, whatever. Both of my parents were of this ilk, as is the other half of a friend/contributor to this site. Folk like this are the type who quite clearly want to be on a jury and should therefore be disqualified from being on one. That's before you get near issues such as racism, religious bigotry or homophobia that may cloud the mind of a juror, consciously or otherwise.

I vividly remember as a teenager arguing with my mother after Barry George was sentenced, looking at the evidence (or lack of) and concluding that an innocent man had just been condemned. Her (god honest) response? "You fucking do-gooder. Sometimes you just KNOW the guy in the dock is guilty as hell". Kids, my advice has always been to ignore your parents and do your thing, they're usually talking shit - QED.

Then again, this poses a different question - why the fuck did I continue to support juries, even after that experience? Daz, you fucking moron - just thank god you met Malpoet and saw sense...

Double jeopardy is a different issue entirely, although there is a question that bothers me and I'm yet to formulate a complete answer to - "how can you say that a guilty verdict might be wrong but a not guilty one cannot be?". This is a fair question if one assumes that the right of appeal and the concept of double jeopardy are two sides of the same coin. All I would say for now is that the default status of  a defendant (as 'J' rightly points out) is innocent until proven guilty and so it is the job of the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt (whatever that threshold might be) that they are nailed on, guilty as sin.

What the old system did was ensure that no stone was left unturned as the authorities sought to establish the guilt of the defendant. Presented with only one crack at the person they deem to have done the crime, a team of skillful and dedicated professionals would have to present a watertight case to the court and this means a thorough and diligent job in terms of the gathering and piecing together of evidence. One could argue that it also leads to greater fabrication of evidence and the wheeling out of false 'experts' in order to nail the defendant, and I'd be arrogant to dicount that entirely.

It also ensures that a 'not guilty' verdict actually means something. The relief of being acquitted when one knows they have done nothing wrong essentially derives from the sense that it's finally over. What you have to remember is that when a defendant is found 'not guilty', the authorities almost always believe that a guilty man has 'got off' - why else would they have been on trial in the first place? People can be in the wrong place at the wrong time, or have an argument with someone who rocks up dead shortly afterwards, providing ample circumstancial evidence that points towards their guilt. All it takes is a mysterious eyewitness to turn up out of nowhere, or an alibi to be withdrawn by a friend who is no longer so, and the man they believed 'whodunnit' all along is back in the dock.

Anyone believing this to be far-fetched should ask - did Jeffrey Archer's alibi go to jail when he admitted perjury? No, deals were done, as they will always be.

And, please, please read 'the Monster of Florence' if you want a realistic picture of the lengths that the authorities will go to in order to nail someone, anyone.

What is the justice system there to do? It is surely there to convict the guilty and acquit the innocent, but we should be mindful that no justice system on earth will get it right 100% of the time. If it did, then perhaps the baying mob supporting the death penalty could have their wish. What's the real choice? Perhaps it's between a man guilty of murder being locked up solely for perjury, or a man guilty of nothing being harassed to an early grave by a state that is convinced of his guilt on the basis of flimsy evidence. As someone with a natural mistrust of the state, I know which of these menaces I see as the greater threat. Take care and I'll catch you soon.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012


This is hard to explain without sounding more than a bit crazy, but then most of you probably reached that conclusion some time ago.

Ever struggled to articulate or even fully understand something that seriously pisses you off? When put on the spot and asked (or forced) to explain, have you ever found the words just not coming out, or that the brain isn't able to process the bee in your bonnet into a stream of thought that follows in a logical but totally uncomplicated line that even the moron questioning you can understand? It's very easy for one to come out of these situations both immensely confused and perceived by others as some bitter and twisted malcontent - I say this of course with the dubious benefit of personal experience.

Those who read my recent piece on limerence will appreciate that it's a subject I had thought much about in the period leading up to publication, and indeed I've pondered questions around its related themes in the time that has passed since. Though it is something that the limerent does not consciously choose, it is still the creation of a brain that is seeking to do something. Perhaps the intended purpose of each limerent imagination is different, but after reading much on the subject I think a moment of epiphany might finally have been reached - my episodes were basically a form of self-analysis and education, an exploration and examination of those things in life that fuelled what has been a burning sense of sincere and honestly felt anger.

Privilege exists in many forms - it could be acquired through wealth, status, physical attractiveness, supportive parents, nurturing and development that permits access to some 'inner circle', whatever. Something I can say with total honesty is that I've not benefited from any of these advantages and therefore what little I have has been earned on merit. What also needs to be acknowledged is that seeing thick kids get into further education when they shouldn't, the old tie network fast-tracking some 'chosen one' towards a status they have not earned, or a 'pretty' person not having to work as hard as the rest of us quite justifiably makes my blood boil.

In short, privilege sucks, and I certainly don't want to be on the right end of life's 'hometown scoring' even if the alternative is painful sometimes. By definition, the extension of privilege to an individual requires and necessitates the short-changing of somebody else.

My limerent episodes were simply a reminder of this, that some people get preferential treatment from life, while the rest of us (that includes you and me) pay for it - this is a pretty painful and expensive price to pay for self-awareness but then it may turn out to be emotional currency well spent.

Much of this sounds like the ranting of a would-be Marxist, but then that sort of thinking creates winners and losers all of its own once you strip away the rhetoric. Rules, taxes, manipulation and some contrived 'greater good' all enable the entrenchment of one form of privilege or another. Meritocracy can only be reached by being free to question authority and 'the way things are'.

I'll end with an open question - TC, when you talk about social class, is it privilege you're actually on about? A person who has never been on the right side of it can of course do great things with their life, and they are perhaps those who are to be most admired. I certainly have no time for  the notion of the state confiscating their possessions to feed the privilege of (for example) those who choose not to work. Ultimately, this is the point - what privilege does, whether the recipient is relatively rich or poor, is protect one from the consequences of failure.

What I think we'd all like to see is a world with less privilege, since it invariably leads to less injustice.

Isn't it nice to be comfortable in your anger? Take care and I'll catch you soon.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

North West Libertarians September Meet Up

An informal meeting of libertarians in the North West will take place at the famous Lass O'Gowrie pub in Manchester: Expected topics of conversation will include discussion of the new Independent Libertarian Network, as well as bidding fairwell to one of our brethren who is relocating to the dreaded South. Everyone's welcome - unlike the squalid gang of con men and conspiracy theorists who seized control of the old Libertarian Party, we don't do closed meetings. Come along if you feel like it, have a beer, have a chat, make friends and set the world to rights. See you there.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Anti-Patriots, your country needs you...

Something that might strike you about the sort of Instinctive Liberalism that this bunny is into is the way in which a consistently rational view of the world is applied, free from the mood swings of populism and the rule of 51 per cent. I was intending to post about something else tonight, but opted instead to cover a topic that I'd delved into with Malpoet and a few other friends of mine on both sides of the fence if you will, namely that of patriotism.

People who I ask tell me that patriotism is a deeply held pride that one has in the place of their birth. It might apply on a national, regional or even a local level and can even apply in a sort of mulit-tiered way - ie. a proud Yorkishireman, proud Englishman, proud Brit and proud European. This bunny had always assumed in the past (rightly or wrongly) that the default answer to a question along the lines of "are you patriotic?" should be yes, since anything else would equate to some form of heresy.

As regular readers will know, I'm against British membership of the European Union, but not because I own a pair of Union Jack boxer shorts (apologies for the truly haunting mental image). This bunny just happens to believe that centalised power produces decisions that are insensitive to local conditions and do not take into account the social and economic nuances of individual nations and the regions within them. Look at the disaster zone that has been the Eurozone if you want further evidence.

Make key decisions at the appropriate level, which might be local, regional, national or international, and all will be right with the world - hardly genius material, is it?

It's always the little things - many years ago I remember staying at a mate's house and doing what young people do, namely drinking whiskey and smoking cigarettes of various types while my mate flicked through the pornographic channels. Anyway, I've never been a big fan of the Adult Channel, Red Hot Babes or whatever, so when I beat him to waking up the following morning I broke the code of 'my house, we watch what I want' and stuck VH1 on.

A god awful song, the Christians' cover of the Isley Brothers' 'Harvest for the World' came on, and though I found the music and words to be somewhat cringeworthy, the video seemed rather interesting. It comprised of a bunch of things that the band would clearly have liked to see eradicated from planet earth in order for the needy to be catered for - all a bit socialist for my tastes, but then the arts do tend to be left-leaning.

Amongst them was patriotism, and I remember thinking at the time, 'what a strange thing to want to remove from the world - even if you're the biggest anti-patriot going, surely it wouldn't make any sort of hit-list when one factors in greed, idleness,  pathological liars, party politics and a whole shopping list of stuff that must concern you more'. However, that marijuana-induced morning at my mate's house came back into my head recently when examining this subject.

I'll finally say it - I'm not remotely patriotic. I enjoy British success in most walks of life since it is likely to inspire those young people watching them to take up whatever it is they do, and I appreciate excellence on a more general level. However, the end game of patriotism is actually believing with all your heart and soul that Andy Murray, world class player that he might be, is better than Roger Federer, or that Frank Bruno stood a real chance of beating Mike Tyson, a dangerous and unhinged man who sent Frank rushing to the toilet by his own admission.

Patriotism is irrational and has this delusional effect on people - ergo, does the intelligent patriot really exist?

It is also bloody dangerous - if one is proud of their place of birth, then it is totally reasonable to ask exactly why that is. Does the person believe that being born where they were makes them somehow superior or better than someone who was unfortunate enough to be born somewhere else? I'm yet to meet anyone who has honestly answered yes to this question, so if it doesn't make you special in any way, then why the hell do you take pride in this fact, over which you had no control?

In reality, a patriotic individual either a) does believe that being born where they were makes them special/superior or b) just hasn't thought about the concept all that much. I'd be inclined towards believing that most patriots fall under the umbrella of b).

This is the sort of harmless and innocuous patriotism that millions of people have - the type that involves expressing some undefined pride in their place of birth, but not much more than that. Then there is the sort of 'Al Murray Patriotism', you know the types who would ring a radio phone-in and start by saying "I'm not racist, but", then follow up with a tirade of how 'immigrants' are simultaneously stealing the jobs of poor white people and milking our welfare system.

Let's be honest, if someone is smart enough to concoct that kind of intensely devious scheme, you should be more worried about their criminality than their nationality.

That said, 'Al Murray Patriotism' is stupid, sometimes offensive and punctuated by xenophobic or racist outbursts, but usually harmless.

But then there are 'other' sorts of patriotism - the soccer hooligan type, built on a dangerous cocktail of violence and unpleasant characters looking for someone to blame for their own failures - the EDL recruit at football grounds for a reason. Then there's 'entitlement patriotism', which you might see in job centres and amongst the non-working class.

Maybe it's the realisation that in most other countries, the workshy are simply allowed to starve to death, but there's an understanding, probably legitimate. that they are lucky to live in a country with free healthcare, education, a roof above their heads and more than enough of other people's money for food and to feed their vices. Many of the most 'patriotic' people are amongst this underclass, and this bunny is convinced having met them that 'entitlement patriotism' has much to do with it.

There's also 'horrible old git patriotism', where stories about 'bulldog spirit' and the war, or 'the good old days' in general are used to both espouse an idealised version of the nation that never quite existed, and constantly bash a defenceless younger generation. Fuck it, let this bunch of embittered fossils soil themselves to death - I really couldn't give two shits about these people and there's no point sugar-coating it.

Patriotism is usually just irrational, but can be nasty, vicious and easily become a stick whereby people are turned against one another.

Governments of all persuasions know this, so why give them that power?

Can't you see that this 'understanding' that we are 'superior' to others was used first as the justification for colonialism and slavery, then declaring ourselves the world's policeman and solver of others' problems?

Whether you're patriotic or not, just keep thinking for yourself and remember, you're an individual.

Don't let the bastards grind you down - take care and I'll catch you soon.

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Limerence and I (Part 2 of...I'd better spare you, 2)

Thanks to those who endured Part 1 of this post, which I've backlinked for anyone picking up from here.

In part 1, this bunny touched upon the impact that an episode might have in the life of a serial limerent by drawing on my own experiences. It should be said that there is no designer template that covers the range of thoughts and emotions that an active limerent might go through, but I hope they served as a useful rough guide. It made me ponder exactly what Limerence had done to shape my view of the world, socially, philosophically and politically.

Before I wrote this duplex, you might have got a very different response to the question "Daz, why are you a Libertarian or Instinctive Liberal?". This bunny would probably have answered along the lines of small state, lower taxes and nanny keeping her nose out of other people's lifestyle choices as well as their bedrooms. All of this remains correct, but does not explain fully why my Liberalism is as consistent and instinctive as it is.

Ever heard the long-running rumour that Hitler became rampantly anti-semitic because he contracted syphilis off a Jewish prostitute named Hannah? Or seen the episode of 'Monkey Dust' where it turns out that Omar, 'the mad Mullah of West Bromwich' developed his hatred for all of humanity and the West in particular because he was unhappy with the marking of an exam paper?

The Baggies-supporting Jihad cell is immensely funny, anything to do with Adolf less so, but the point is a serious one - sincerely held belief of any type tends to have two levels to it, the obvious and logical level consisting of the sorts of answers that you might give to a question along the lines of "why do you believe what you believe?", and the more subtle level based on personal experience and your personal interpretation of it.

I don't doubt that people who reach socialist or racist conclusions work in exactly the same way - the difference is likely to come in the way in which they have interpreted that 'intimate' level of the belief. Let us suppose for a minute that the 'Jewish Hooker' story is kosher (no pun intended). Could you, at a massive stretch and taking into account that Hitler was also a psychopath, understand why he reached the conclusion he did? Just about. Was his conclusion the right one? In the view of 99.9% of the civilised world, of course not.

So from where this bunny is stood, the logical conclusion (paradox in itself) is that the 'illogical' part of a belief system probably drives the 'logical' one. Malpoet kindly praised my self-awareness in the comments section of part 1, and it's an immensely valuable commodity to have, Self-awareness is an ability to understand the hitherto unknown reasons why you might do something, or look at life and its situations in the way that you do.

Once acquired, it goes a long way towards explaining why real experiences shape and change beliefs far more than the reading of a book ever could. Lock, Mill, Hayek and Friedman are all names with which I am familiar, but then I've read bits of 'on Liberty' and small contributions from the others on the subjects of freedom and State intervention. I don't own any books that deal specifically with the issues - my Instinctive Liberalism is overwhelmingly the result of personal experience, and what I see as an accurate interpretation of it.

So where does Limerence tie in with Instinctively Liberal thinking? Again we're back to that seemingly infinite font of knowledge, Malpoet esq. In his response to Part 1, he talked about 'the freedom to work out how you relate to other people'. Now this is little more than common sense on the surface, but on a deeper level that is what Limerence takes away from the individual - that freedom to choose what Morrissey would refer to as "all the things that you love, and the things you loathe".

You've seen these mathematical equations before:-

Freedom - Responsibility = Anarchy
Responsibility - Freedom = Slavery
Freedom & Responsibility = Liberty (ok the plus sign on my keyboard doesn't work).

This is why Limerence is such a damaging and dangerous state to be in, because it deprives the individual of their freedom to choose and temporarily enslaves him or her for a length of time that is unknown to them. Personal liberty is something that an individual tends to place a much higher value on once they understand when they have both had and lost it and Limerence takes a huge slice of that freedom from you in a swift and brutal way.

So many people enter adulthood with preconceived notions of 'what they should want from life' that by the time they actually discover whether or not it was what they wanted, the ball has rolled too far down the road and their situation is irreversible. I'm not necessarily equating the marriage/two kids/dog/lawnmower combo with slavery, but when it is the result of pressure from some mystical hand of society, or mum and dad tapping them on the shoulder, as opposed to an expression of their own free will, then yes it is a form of slavery - there's no point sugar-coating it.

Some people genuinely want all these things, and good luck to them.

Others don't, and good luck to them too - this bunny genuinely hopes that they follow the path that brings them the most fulfilment.

Outside of respect for the life, liberty and property of others, there is no such thing as 'the greater good' or 'the right thing'.

Anyone or anything that deprives the individual of that freedom to choose their own path is a cancer in their lives and needs to be regarded as such - this might come in the form of parental pressure, organised religion, manipulative forces either socially or at work, or even a total curveball like Limerence. One of the most rewarding elements of writing this piece, as well as hopefully providing some guidance for others, has been that ability to get closer to the 'illogical' element of this bunny's belief system, then concur with everything that he previously held to be self-evident.

So - sincere thanks to Tim, Richard, John and Malpoet - it's much appreciated.

I'm off for a glass of wine and a lie down - take care and I'll catch you soon.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Talking of Limerence...

I thought this song was terribly appropriate...

Nobody does unrequited love quite like Mozzer -  take care and I'll catch you soon...

Friday, 27 July 2012

Elites and governing elites

The reason that efforts to promote liberal democracy and western style government in the Middle East have failed is simply because they have been thwarted by interest groups, elites, within and part of western society and for whom liberal democracy is not, actually, on their agenda.

Totalised control, that operates free of any need for accountability to the controlled, is their ultimate aim and so in fact the medieval totalist philosophies and political systems that currently rule in most of the mid east are actually more in line with what they are seeking to achieve.

There are those in the governing elite of the West who genuinely do desire to promote and establish freedom. However it seems they have been outwitted and strategically bested by those working within the liberal social structures who seek to achieve coercion and control by an elite as the norm.
The governing structures of the European Union are  examples of systems tending in that direction.
Whether such coercion and control is through nazism, socialism, fascism, islamisim, corporatism, communism, ba'athism, atheism or witchcraft is not important to them. What is important is the principle that the elite directs and everyone else obeys.

In fact if one presumes this is the basis for many of the seemingly strange things that go on, such as David Cameron's incomprehensible attitude and actions regarding the EU, they begin to make sense.

This requirement for the principle of dictators and dictatees is the reason that such unlikely bedfellows as communists and islamists find common cause.
The need to control what is done and what is not done is the critical requirement; the principle to be established.
An interesting line from a Mises letter expressed the spirit of this attitude as evidenced by the US internal revenue 'service':  "Everything not forbidden is compulsory."

Individual freedom and individual responsibility is anathema to such people. It is positively dangerous.
But without that freedom and responsibility there is no hope for the human race.
We will stagnate and start slipping backwards, as, in many ways, we have and are.

Which spirit will prevail?

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Limerence and I (Part 1 of...I really don't know)...

This bunny should start by stating openly that this is either the bravest or most stupid thing he has ever written. Guys and girls, we're about to go into quite a dark place, the type that would leave a Statist no option but to instruct you to "strap yourselves in".

For better or worse, I took to posting song lyrics on this site until the small amount of my back catalogue that was worth the time of day had been exhausted. One of the songs that I'm most proud of and holds most sentimental value to this bunny is a track called 'Rabbit in the Headlights' - yes, that's where the name of this site and the playful self-reference to 'this bunny' comes from.

'Rabbit in the Headlights' concerned what at the time was a current limerent episode. This bunny's public performance of the song at numerous venues was something that I'm convinced helped me out of the other side and if not to a healthy place, then certainly one that was 'less worse' than had previously been the case.

What is limerence? That's a valid question, since some of you might never have heard the word spoken before, or know necessarily what it refers to. It was first coined by a psychologist, Dorothy Tennov, who referred to Limerence as "an involuntary cognitive and emotional state of being infatuated or obsessed with another person".

This is the key aspect of limerence that distinguishes it from simply 'fancying' someone, having 'a bit of a thing for them' or genuine love. Limerence is 100% irrational and you have absolutely no choice whatsoever regarding the identity of your limerent object - neither does he or she, it should be said. Limerence is something that chooses all involved, without their prior knowledge or the opportunity to make an informed decision.

The involuntary and yet massively intense nature of Limerence means that the outcome is often a very clear cut one between reciprocation or prolonged torture, depending on how things pan out. This is the case until such time as the toxic and terminally damaging flame stops burning - some of us have the means, discipline and skill to avoid our Limerent Object (LO) like the plague for long enough to expunge the painful memories from our minds.

Others live too close to them, attend the same school or college, mix in a wide and inescapable circle that includes them, or work with them (yes, that's happened in two of my three limerent episodes). In those circumstances, Limerence is a living nightmare, punctuated by the occasional high when he or she smiles and acknowledges your existence, takes an interest in your sad and pathetic life, does or says something nice of which you are the recipient.

The means to think rationally are the first things that disappear, although you are not to know at the time. Your LO is immediately elevated to the status of god or goddess, deemed to be perfect in every way and absent of any flaws, even the ones you knew them to already have if you had been acquainted for a while beforehand. A creative mind will turn even the most glaringly obvious example of something you could not like in another individual into a positive. They occupy your mind, popping in and out at random intervals and totally without warning.

Lateral thinking goes straight out of the window, as a sort of deluded hypnosis takes over.

The symptoms of Limerence should have served as an indicator that what I was 'feeling' was somehow not right. I've listened to bucketloads of love songs on MTV, VH1, the radio, Top of the Pops or whatever (and happened to detest most of them). Having taken in many a tune that plays the role of someone expressing their warmth towards another, I can honestly say that nausea, vomiting, chest pains, loss of sleep (unless aided by heavy drinking) and situational depression were not subjects or themes that I remember making a regular appearance.

"Wild thing, you make my chest hurt, fucking hell I think I'm gonna puke" - now there's a song for you...

What I'm describing sounds not like an organic and healthy feeling of affection that you might have for another, but a psychological and emotional sickness. It took me far too long to realise this, but that is exactly what Limerence is, either a mental illness in itself or at least a clear-cut symptom of another one.

Like everyone else, this bunny has had periods of relative strength and weakness, times when there was little to worry about and all that mattered was the opportunities that lay ahead, and other spells punctuated by gloom, despondency, hopelessness and an overall view of the world that life is just so incredibly difficult. I've had three limerent episodes in what has been a relatively short existence, and all came in what could only be described as dark and unhappy times.

Your soulmate shouldn't make you turn to jelly, be overcome by an unhealthy and unnatural degree of reticence in their presence, nor should you be faced with the awful paradox of wanting to run into them on the one hand, but feeling like death on a stick every time that he or she is within 18 yards of you (hence the reference in the song).

The 'reciprocation or bust' nature of Limerence, and the fact that by definition it makes you a victim of a situation over which you have no control, means that there will always be an unpleasant, destructive and narcissistic element to it.

Nothing that puts you in such a terrible place can ever be positive, and how on earth could anything constructive come as a result? Of course this bunny can see all of that now, or, in the words of Morrissey, observe that "I can smile about it now, but at the time it was terrible". It should be stressed again that a limerent loses this capcity to think laterally, rationally and come to informed conclusions.

This is what marks it out from genuine love, affection, or even the phenomenon of the 'teenage crush' that an isolated negative experience can still snap someone out of.

On reflection, I would have to admit that Limerence has caused me enormous problems, hit my quality of life extremely hard for prolonged periods and defined the perception I have on the whole 'love angle' - that is why I would categorically refuse to offer advice on the subject to anyone (to paraphrase another song, this time by 'Potheads will Perish' - "you ask me for advice, but I know nothing about love").

I won't go into specific detail on my limerent episodes, since there was another human being involved who had no influence over the situation either. An extensive post-mortem of what was a pretty grim experience for all concerned would not be fair on anyone and I'd like to think (or delude myself) that there are lots of people out there reading this. All I will say is that when I walked down that corridor at school, aged 14, and felt 20 million volts race through me, delivering a sickening pain to my insides, it changed my life and take on it for the next 15 years.

The problem I had was that, having previously been interested in nothing more exciting than sport and books, I had absolutely no mode of comparison, nothing against which I could measure whether what I was feeling was abnormal, unhealthy or a cause for concern. Nor was there a sensitive enough adult in my life who I could perhaps have talked to - maybe we would have got to the bottom of it and maybe not.

That isn't a cue to get the violin out, merely a statement of fact - what I'm getting at is, not knowing what Limerence was, let alone that this was the force that had taken over my body and mind, I genuinely believed that this was what 'fancying someone' entailed. That might be stupid on reflection, but as stated previously, I had no prior experience to compare it with and nobody to explain that what I 'felt' for this girl who I had not chosen (nor had she chosen to be my LO, that is worth repeating again) was not love, affection or even that most base of instincts, 'lust', but Limerence.

I remember looking at other people, who were in relationships and concluding that they had either overcome such terror to get where they were, or gone down the 'safe' route of getting involved with one of their friends and 'ducking' what I saw as 'the real thing'. For those who had conquered the demons that had rendered me a fucked up mess, I felt ten parts admiration and ten parts jealousy. Those who had 'copped out' and slept with their mates were regarded with utter contempt.

Never a nice place to be in, it must be said...

I also remember women I got on famously with, could talk with for hours and stuck me as exactly the type I wanted to be around all of the time. However, since none of them rendered me a shaking, spluttering emotional car crash, prone to ill health and bouts of self-destruction as a coping mechanism, then I rationalised that I didn't 'fancy' any of them.  Tragic, but I'll forgive anyone who finds it amusing since to someone who has no idea what I'm talking about, this must strike you as bizarre in the extreme.

In short, I have never 'fancied', let alone loved a member of the opposite sex since I had no idea how to. I merely became situationally depressed and mentally unwell a few times - that, after all, is what Limerence is, a form of mental illness. Part of my uncertainty over whether or not to post on this topic stemmed from that very real problem, the crass insensitivity that large swathes of the population still have towards issues of mental health.

Maybe someone is reading this while experiencing a limerent episode of their own - it is said to impact some 5% of the population after all. I can offer no advice as such as all of my own encounters of this kind ended negatively. All I would suggest is that if you have a friend who you would trust with your life and you think that what you are experiencing is unusual or unhealthy, then talk to them about it. A friend who turns their back on you when you most need them is not really your friend.

If you can avoid your LO without making a life-altering decision, then go for it and stay strong.

Other than that, this bunny just hopes you can come through it and land safely on the other side, Anyone brave enough to share their stories here will be treated in a sensitive way by someone who has been there, that's a promise.

This bunny is much stronger now and has escaped from the headlights - worry not...

Apologies if this was heavy going for any of you - take care and I'll catch you soon.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

French Football and Sexy Sarah Cracknell...

Saint Etienne had not only one of the coolest band names of all time, taken as it was from the team that gave us Michel Platini amongst others. Their Indie/Club fusion in the 1990s was unique, innovative and, well, fucking brilliant.

Here's a live performance of my favourite Saint Etienne tune, 'You're in a Bad Way' on that immensely 'hip and with it' television programme, the Word in 1993.

Am I alone in wishing she 'had some plans' for me? Take care and I'll catch you soon...

Friday, 20 July 2012

North West Libertarians Meetup 28 July

Libertarian Meetup (North West)

The Dee Hotel, 44 Grange Road, West Kirby, Merseyside, CH48 4EF
 Saturday, 28 July 2012 - 13:00 - 16:00

Libertarians in the North West are meeting to discuss the Independent Libertarian Network and other issues of current interest to libertarians.

For more information or advice on car parking, contact Malcolm Saunders on

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

The Independent Libertarian Network

Gavin Webb's efforts over the last few months have started to come to fruition and he has a new Libertarian political party formally registered with the Electoral Commission. The emphasis is very much on supporting local activism. It's early days yet, but I think it has potential. Visit the website, have a look at the constitution and see if it's the kind of setup you might be interested in getting involved with:

Monday, 16 July 2012

Bill Hicks Mocks the War on Drugs...

I can take Bill's digs at Christianity with good humour - RIP and God bless him.

Here he is drilling hole after hole in the phoney 'war on drugs' in his uniquely incisive way.

Take care and I'll catch you soon...

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Some Things Never Seem To Change

So there I was at an antiques fair in Stockport, looking for potential stock for my fledgling business when this bit of ephemera caught my eye and I just had to have it for my own interest. I admit that I collect some odd things, and I've been in the habit of accumulating political literature since my days as an activist with the former Libertarian Party – this may be the oldest example of an election leaflet that I've ever seen though:

It seems even in the 1880s local politicians were screwing the citizenry into the ground with excessive taxes!

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

You've Gotta Laugh...

The brief history of everything according to Marxists never ceases to make me giggle.

Make yourself smile with a quick glance at this...

Keep the sandals baby - take care and I'll catch you soon.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Classic Boxing

This bunny needs to post this. It's round 9 of an epic struggle between Arturo Gatti and Micky Ward that formed the first instalment of a trilogy between the pair.

Somehow it makes Round One of Hagler vs Hearns look like a couple of kids taking a trip to Disneyland. Not for the faint-hearted.

RIP Arturo and thanks for being you. Micky, kudos for your massive contribution to an epic series of fights. Take care and I'll catch you soon.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Q + A with Simon Gibbs - ACTA Protest

It's fair to say that the good people at Libertarian Home play a far more active and relevant role than sites like this one in actually promoting small-state ideas to the general public. Simon Gibbs started the site a year ago with the specific aims of building grassroots campaigns, raising the profile of Libertarian ideas and getting them into more mainstream discourse.

It's a slow burner and bound to be punctuated by the occasional moment where even the most committed might stop and ask themselves "what's the point?". Far from content with carping and making wisecracks from the sidelines (ahem...) Simon and the gang travelled to London last weekend to protest against the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), a treaty with a stated aim of protecting and establishing international standards with regard to international property rights but like most big government interventions runs the risk of doing something entirely removed from its (stated) intentions.

I managed to catch up with Simon the day after the protest for a quick Q+A session.

1 - How did the protest go? Was it well attended and are you confident you got your message across?

I think we did quite well in the circumstances and the organizers did a good professional job of it. They obviously put a lot of effort in and got a decent number out. It is good for the anti-ACTA campaign to be able to point at the fact that numbers are turning out to show support, and there were perhaps a hundred present, but I think more could have been achieved by the official group. The protest was, unfortunately, positioned quite poorly from my perspective. The Smith Square site is well off the beaten track which rendered the protest more of a get together for activists than anything anyone would actually see. There was one camera there there, and Russia Today were mentioned, but very few members of the public actually saw the gathering. I am, however, quite sure that lots of great images were produced for use in later communications and I wonder if this was perhaps the focus of their plan.

The nicest moment came when the Anonymous group decided to march over to Parliament Square. That place was rammed. We were able to tag along, we literally followed the riot van,  and ended up leafletting the square while Anonymous stood around in the middle and held a meeting. I don't get very competitive, but it was faintly satisfying to know that we out did Anonymous by reaching more people than they did. Of course, we did see people going over to Anonymous with copies of the leaflet that they had been reading, that's because they had flags and the V-mask uniform that makes them easy to spot. I don't see libertarians donning a Libertarian Home uniform, so we'll have to live with that kind of thing.

2 - The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement sounds like one of those Statist interventions loaded with nasty potential consequences and probably poses more new questions than it seeks to answer. How dangerous is it and why?

As a good objectivist, I actually favour some of it's intentions. I do think that there is a problem, for example, with companies inventing a drug in one market only for it to be legally ripped off in another. The problem I have with it is that is transfers burdens from one industry to another based on the needs of the first. Society should reward the value people represent for each other and doing anything based on needs undermines that. Society ends up trying to filling an endless hole, not building anything like what it could build.  In more practical terms, placing unchosen obligations on anyone is  simply wrong. That violates the non-aggression principle which I know your readers will understand and endorse, so ACTA is something they need to be concerned for.

We went there though with a much broader message. The leaflet included a section on net neutrality, for example, which does much the same thing, tranferring the desires of users and publishers and turning them into obligations on infrastructure providers. Net neutrality basically regulates contracts. I included a little illustration of all the players involved in making the web happen and most of the laws we stood against on Saturday basically shaft one player to benefit another. None of them respect individuals' property rights.

3 - I'm just about old enough to remember when the defence of civil liberties was lazily caricatured as the haven of 'do gooders' and 'lefties' who didn't live in the real world. Do you sense that this is changing slightly?

I'm not that old that I can spot trends like that, and only recently became involved in politics after 9/11, but I can see that politics is dominated by the left. I think the right is about as strong numerically, but far less vocal and much more laid back. Right-Libertarianism seems to be growing, which is great because though we differ internally we're all basically correct in our opinions and that will become more obvious to people as the internet connects the mainstream population to the people with the best ideas.

4 - Since 1997, we've had a government openly disregarded personal liberty, followed by one that claims to be striking a 'balance' in this false argument between liberty and security, but produces similar results. How important is it to demonstrate the fallacy of this argument and continue the debate on more honest terms?

Talk of fallacies etc will only get you so far, and only with the most fanatical. David MacDonagh was kind enough to explain this clearly at the meetup on Thursday. Debating room style arguments about fallacies and epistemology will work well on the strongest, on the professional intellectuals, because they are equipped to readily absorb them and because they are true they will work and change minds, but we also need propaganda to get to work on people that don't know what epistemology is but who actively pursue a better world. That propaganda function is basically what we did yesterday.

5- It's clear that Libertarian Home has made good on the promise it made a year ago to become actively involved in grass roots campaining. What's the plan to develop this further?

Let's be clear. Libertarian Home, at the moment, is me. It's a website I put up to allow former Libertarian Party people to talk to each other and do stuff together but when it comes to arranging campaigns is basically me saying "guys let's do X" and then putting some evenings in. Don't get me wrong, Andy, Rob, Devika, Pavel, Clarissa, Richard and others have put in plenty of work too but the way it's set up limits things to me doing it with them, so I'm now the bottle neck. It can't go faster than me.

That's the limitation, let me tell you the strength: None of these campaigns were my idea. Frankly I feel a little uncomfortable getting the credit, but this is still a strength. The OccupyLSX trip was Andy Janes idea. On ACTA I basically asked "what might we do" and Rob Waller was basically assuming we should go and just attend and join in, so that was his idea. I organised a meeting and we did a few smaller things that were suggested by the people that came. All I've done is facilitate for others (and editorialise a bit because frankly I feel if I'm doing that I should get to add my opinion). This is a good pattern, I think, for Libertarians because here is a website that offers them help to organise a meetup, get people together for a protest, publish their opinion (I don't edit other people's blog posts, I just disagree in the comments), and actually I really enjoy it and will put work in to make it happen. As long as we are broadly on the same page ideologically, which we will be, and we can work together then I want to help facilitate it. That might means me literally putting work in to do it or it might mean providing access to the blog and social media outlets that activists are tuned into.

Longer term, I then want to take myself out of that loop. I want to make the website a platform where it isn't as personal to me and people have areas on there where they can work together and their work gets featured on the homepage and made visible in one place for other libertarians to see and join in with. Give me 12 months, and I will be facilitating at that much broader scale for people. Once that work is done, is can really scale and even turn a small profit, which I hope to use in a way the contributors will approve of and maybe scale it some more.

6 - If you can reach the public consciousness through these activities, does it negate the need for electoral participation in any way? Successful protests certainly produce better returns for one's resources than standing for election and losing your deposit ever could.

My preferred model is to have small parties that organise in regions. I think there is a big trust issue between libertarians that is only worse after the arguments over money that we had with the old Party. That trust issue can be gotten over with very small groups working together, but I admit the main issue is getting critical mass so that safeguards can be paid for. Actually I feel like a bit of a naysayer because I think people underestimate the challenge this trust thing is for a new party. People are going to throw eggs at you. I also worry that libertarianism needs to be maybe 10 times bigger before regional parties can happen, by which time we may forget arguments over money I suppose.

I think you are dead right that non-party campaigns are more effective, but actually libertarians need to be able to vote Libertarian and steal votes off the main parties. If we end up with a range of campaigning groups that are openly libertarian and two or three competing libertarian parties either regionally or overlapping nationally then this is as good as it gets.

Many thanks to Simon for his considered responses - be sure to check out Libertarian Home for a cocktail of high-brow discussion and grass-roots camapaigning.

In the meantime, take care and I'll see you back here on Bunny Island later in the week.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Ideology for Losers?

Ok - a friend of mine whose political compass travels in a vastly different direction to that of this bunny suggested recently that Instictive Liberal/Libertarian thinking would have to come under the umbrella of 'extreme ideology'. This was followed by a suggestion that 'extreme views' are generally formulated by losers who are looking to explain the lack of success in their own lives without looking at themselves.

This is an interesting point that I want to pick up, but first, thanks to my mate for making me think about this quite seriously.

There are numerous problems that stem immendiately from labelling an opinion as 'extreme'. First of all, it is entirely subjective and can only really be related to the political consensus of the time. Most of us would accept that openly racist or ethnically nationalistic politics might fall under the 'extreme' umbrella, but then ask a German citizen circa 1938, or an Italian or Spaniard in the same period, and you're likely to get a different answer.

The centre ground in political life is fluid and tends to move when a particularly influential statesman (for better or worse) is in office. What we refer to as the 'centre ground' in Britain is actually a plot of land buried somewhere between the editorial of the New Statesman and the Guardian's womens' section. A big state socialist-corporatist hybrid is now consensus, the conventional wisdom of the current era. Politically correct dogma bans certain 'unpleasant' and 'undesirable' opinions.

All three major parties essentially subscribe to this view of the world, while perhaps tinkering at the margins in a way that impresses one client group or another - that's worth returning to.

What do Libertarians or Instictive Liberals believe in? That taxation at source is an act of theft on the part of the state, one which encourages evasion from those who can afford the means to do so and punishes the least well off in relative terms. There's a commitment to civil liberty and the notion that once people are willing to sacrifice hard-won freedoms in the name of some phoney 'war on terrror' or under some generic 'securiry' umbrella, then you can never get back to the place you were in.

Perhaps the most antagonistic element to consensus/centre ground politicians is an understanding of how majority tyranny can slowly erode the freedoms of those who have done no wrong, but find themselves in the wrong place, at the wrong time, under the rule of the wrong mob. In an age when 51% of those who can be arsed to vote is seen as a holy grail, are ideas that seek to illustrate the danger of such thinking extreme or dangerous? Strictly in relative terms, yes they are. It's certainly a radical platform, and even if it is not extreme, then at best a marginal one.

There is of course a more basic and common sense way of looking at this. What is the logical conclusion of sustained Libertarian government? Would we be looking at political dissidents getting their fingernails ripped out, forced repatriation of established immigrants or labour camps for those who did not fit neatly with our view of the world and its future? The unequivocal answer to that question is no, so if one takes the instinctively liberal, consequentialist view of things then there is no way that Libertarian thinking could be seen as extreme in any shape or form.

Such a label only comes into play when viewing events from a 'centre ground' position that is liable to shift.

This poses the other question about 'extreme' thinking:- who gets to decide whether an unconventional and radical view of the world counts as 'extreme' or not and on what scientific or forensic basis? Once you start decrying a sincerely expressed opinion as ''extreme' then you're on the slippery slope down into the murky world of thought crime. Most of what we would not want to see done in the name of a political viewpoint (violence, inciting others to commit crimes) is already illegal anyway, so what's the problem? Instead of banning someone's view of the world, why not destroy their argument with reason instead? It's a lot more fun, right?

This bunny has no time for Communism, but give me a Marxist over a McCarthyite eight days a week...

Then there's the issue of 'winners and losers' that my friend alludes to. To answer this point, it's worth asking what the purpose of political ideology is and what it seeks to achieve. Of course, in our current political climate the concept that government might be following a set of ideals that it believes in is rather amusing, but then it's worth exploring the alternative of values, explanation and direction.

All well thought-out ideologies attempt to explain how we have reached this point in our history. They seek to tell a story in which there were undeniably winners and losers. Then it asks whether or not those winners and losers deserved those outcomes, and if not, then why those net results were either facilitated by the state or allowed to happen, and what can be done to reverse those trends in the direction of more 'just' outcomes. Take Marxism as an example:-

We have reached this point of large-scale relative poverty and unequally distributed wealth because of unfettered bourgeois capitalism.

The winners were the greedy, self-serving Bourgeouis capitalists who achieved their wealth and status by exploting the Proletariat for their own ends.

They do not deserve the spoils of their victory and nor do the Proletarian workforce deserve their squalid housing, poor working conditions and low wages.

Ergo - the solution is to take collective (state) control of the means of production, strip the Bourgeoisie of their wealth and assets, and establish a government of the proletariat, by the proletariat and for the proletariat (or something like that).

There's a brief history of everything and how to solve the ills of a planet - according to a Marxist. Of course, Libertarians have their own take on the world, how we got here and who the fortunate or unfortunate few might have been. The point is:- every ideology, which in an age of consensus politics can be seen as extreme or at best misplaced, seeks to identify those who lost for reasons beyond their control. The solution may be a bigger state or a smaller one, but the basic aim is to change the conditions that created the wrong in the first place.

What they call 'normal distribution' would suggest that 5% of people are likely to succeed regardless of the climate at the time, be it as a result of inate brilliance, toughness, capacity for work or tendency to attract good luck and a break of the ball. Conversely, 5% of us are idle, useless, walking disaster zones who attract misfortune in the same way that honey might draw bees, or all of the above. That leaves the other 90%, of whom some benefit from the prevailing climate of the time or have a single life-changing flash or inspiration, while others don't. There's no doubting that life is a bitch.

So why is this bunny, a working class lad of modest means even now, an Instinctive Liberal? When things were difficult (and believe me, they once were), why wasn't he taken in by the appeal of Socialism or Marxism, a notion that all would be well if you could simply swipe a few quid from some awful rich person? It's an interesting proposition and I think it's one that goes to the heart of my friend's critique of my core beliefs. He's a man of socialist views, which I respectfully disagree with, and this bunny would surely have been ripe for taking in this view of the world at a point in time.

When I think of the two biggest external cancers in my life, one was a member of my own working class family, while the other was wealthy, connected and believed that he owned not only his own life, but yours, mine and that of anyone else he could frighten half to death. I've seen with my own eyes how a massive welfare state creates incentives for idleness, how governments shift the fit and well onto sickness benefit to manipulate unemployment figures and that the 'greater good' is built on a misplaced  notion that the self-interest of some is superior to that of others.

I also understand the danger of 'connected' and unofficial power, the sort of masonic lodges, the sort that comes with a reminder that you can do whatever you want, but accidents happen. I know what it's like to be frightened, to feel that there's no hope no future, and no escape without either signing your life over to another or launching oneself off a motorway bridge. A life that is nominally yours, but over which you have absolutely no control, is not worth living. To hold such troubles against wealthy or 'connected' people generally would be irrational, but there's undeniably a problem when a fortunate member of society believes that it can quite literally own and enslave a less fortunate one.

Apologies if things got a bit 'analyst's couch' just then.

So can government legislate against the circumstances or nature of your parents, or the toxic associations that one might unwittingly fall into? One of the problems of democratic politics is the need for candidates to promise solutions to every last bad thing that might take place in one's own life. This facilitates a state that further erodes the life, liberty and prosperity of the individual, becomes bloated and is impossible to hold accountable. Everything government does has both an intended and an unintended consequence, and it begins to resemble a cat chasing its own tail, passing one bad law to deal with the negative fallout of the last one.

This amoeba effect of legislation was most evident as New Labour passed a law for every single day that it was in office over thirteen years. It's no way to run a country, makes no sense and illustrates the silliness at the heart of Socialism. To believe in the power of the state as an unequivocal force for good, one must either a) refuse to believe that unintended consequences of state action exist, b) regard anyone hit by those consequences as collateral damage or c) seek to further legislate one's way out of whatever whirlwind might come back at them.

Now that's extreme, and dangerous...

Alternatively, you can accept that bad things will happen and cannot always be prevented by what government does, that individual freedom and responsiblity are mutually exclusive and it that a state in which only one of these concepts holds sway will be either anarchic or feudal, and that losing is but a temporary blip for those who are willing and able to step up to the plate. What marks Libertarianism out from other ideologies is that it does not tell life's losers "here's a bit of someone else's money", but instead works on the maxim that "you can, if you believe you can - now go and prove me right".

It almost makes this bunny proud to be both a loser and an extremist - take care and I'll catch you soon.