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"We admire the development of the peace movement around the world in the last few years. We pray to God to empower all those working against war." - Saddam Hussein, February 2003

Saturday, August 24, 2002  

Multiculturalists turn their fire on rape victims

THE DEPTHS TO which the politically correct multiculturalists will go seem to know no bounds. Now they are accusing Australian, Norwegian and French women of insensitivity to the thugs who gang-rape them, merely because they are Muslim, and rape is so common in Islamic states. Mark Steyn reports:

... Whether or not Muslim cultures are more prone to rape is a question we shall explore another day. What's interesting is how easily even this most extreme manifestation of multiculturalism is subsumed within the usual pieties. Norwegian women must learn to be, in a very real sense, less "exclusionary." Lebanese male immigrants, fleeing a war-torn wasteland and finding refuge in a land of peace, freedom and opportunity, are inevitably transformed into gang rapists by Australian racism.
After September 11th, a friend in London said to me she couldn't stand all the America-needs-to-ask-itself stuff because she used to work at a rape crisis centre and she'd heard this blame-the-victim routine a thousand times before. America was asking for it: like those Norwegian women, it was being "provocative."
... Once upon a time we knew what to do. A British district officer, coming upon a scene of suttee, was told by the locals that in Hindu culture it was the custom to cremate a widow on her husband's funeral pyre. He replied that in British culture it was the custom to hang chaps who did that sort of thing.
As one is always obliged to explain when tiptoeing around this territory, I'm not a racist, only a culturist. I believe Western culture - rule of law, universal suffrage, etc. - is preferable to Arab culture: that's why there are millions of Muslims in Scandinavia, and four Scandinavians in Syria. Follow the traffic. I support immigration, but with assimilation. Without it, like a Hindu widow, we're slowly climbing on the funeral pyre of our lost empires.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 17:52 | Permanent Link |

Friday, August 23, 2002  

Thought for the day - The abolition of sleep

Anyone who keeps a close eye on the times I make my posts on this site will have noted by now that my sleep pattern is far from conventional. But then my perspective on sleep itself is much the same. I try to spend most of my time doing useful things, and when fatigue works to rob me of that opportunity, I am offended.

For a while, I have found it very interesting that the worst people in society: the most violent, cruel and selfish, apparently have no objections to sleep. There are people who will happily kill a man for looking at them the wrong way, but I have seen no example of such people making any objection to a process that essentially robs eight hours of every day - one third of their life - from them. No doubt, it is too philosophical a point for such people even to consider, and in any case, there is no one for them to blame for it, to attack for it. I see things a little differently, as I said above. I would love to be able to do more each day, to be given much more time to read, write and work. What I wonder is why no one seems to be working on a way for these benefits to be extended to us all.

I believe that the virtual abolition of sleep would benefit every economy in the world, creating more growth, more jobs and more demand. There would be more entertainment, more necessities and more luxuries. People could be healthier and thinner, and insomniacs cured. Less seriously, everyone could also have much more free time to spend in all sorts of productive and enjoyable ways, educating themselves more, gaining expertise in their hobby or simply enjoying their freedom. It is a possibility worth examining.

I am not particularly well read scientifically, but I do know that most of those who say something is impossible turn out to be wrong. It was claimed that taking train journeys would do fatal damage to the human body as a matter of course. (No, these people did not forsee Railtrack - they were just wrong.) Similar claims were made regarding cars and aeroplanes. This pessimism was not restricted to transport. Bill Gates notoriously predicted in 1981 that 640Kb of RAM would always be enough for anybody's computer. At the turn of the twentieth century, the Patent Office was allegedly in danger because it was said that everything that could be invented had been invented by then. So although some things are clearly impossible, many things that appear to be so are not. I wonder whether scrapping sleep is one of them. Scientists do not yet know quite what purpose sleep has for the body. Some have postulated that it is an evolutionary anachronism like the appendix. They believe that many of those creatures that survived best in the distant past were those forced by their genes to spend the time in the dark in the cave rather than outside getting eaten by passing tigers or wolves they couldn't see (bats, because they see in a different way, being an exception that works to prove the rule). According to this theory, those creatures are our own ancestors, with all humans sadly inheriting their genetic laziness. Dreams perform a function for the mind necessary to retain a person's sanity, so sleep could not be ended for good. So if chemicals, medicines or some other treatment could provide for us the chemical equivalent of six or seven hours sleep - either fooling the body or giving it what it needs - and ensure dreaming in the time where sleep remains necessary, we would still gain the equivalent of three waking days per week.

Then there are the advantages to come. First of all, and this deserves emphasis because this argument is far from merely economic, everyone would have more free time. The free time of a man working eight hour days would effectively double. He would still require a couple of hours of sleep, perhaps, but the portion of his day it currently consumes: a third, or of his waking day, half, would be massively diminished. He would gain much more time to enjoy the fruits of his labour, pursue friendships and romantic relationships, teach his children important lessons in life and anything else he may enjoy. Suddenly given twenty-two hours of every day to fill in, everyone has time to enrich himself, to read, to learn to play a musical instrument, to become more cultured, to try poetry or anything. True scientific and historical research could be carried out as a hobby rather than the full-time commitment that sleep makes it. A more educated, literate populace would be the result. And there would be more culture and education around not only because there would be more demand but also because everyone else would be in the same boat. If Beethoven had not needed sleep, he might have finished his tenth symphony and written half a dozen more; if Shakespeare had not required sleep, he could perhaps have produced twenty more plays in his life. The heroes of culture today and in the future would gain such benefits. People would suddenly have time to become involved in more sports, to go to the local gymnasium or for the odd walk. Road congestion would be reduced because car journeys would be less necessary with people again walking to the corner shop for a newspaper or the local restaurant for dinner, because they now have time to do so.

Certainly, this is an optimistic view, and I do not deny that there would be some who would use more free time only to put in more hours as 'couch potatoes'. They would sit in front of the television many hours longer, and laze around much more. But is this really any worse than sleeping? I don't see how. If they are really so unable to use their time wisely, they can freely choose to stop taking any medicine that reduced the need for sleep, and they would only be back in the present situation, with everyone else improved. So clearly, for those who want more spare time, it would be better individually.

However, wider concerns than this motivate me to like this idea. Near the top of the list come economic reasons. With everyone gaining more free time, employers might ask a number of people to put in more hours. For some, this would be a welcome opportunity to gain more for their families; to earn enough to move into a better neighbourhood, save more or buy private education for their children. Others could quite reasonably refuse, and not being of the all-businessmen-are-ogres viewpoint, I do not believe their refusals would be met with much protest. Employers would soon recognise that sleep or no sleep, there is only so much productive work of the same type that one man can do in a day.

Now with nearly everyone having much more free time, there would be more demand for all those things that people like to do in their free time. There would be new markets for television programmes and films, for novels and academic works, for music and plays, for swimming pools and football games, fot streetlights and car headlights: for just about everything. So this new demand would create many more jobs, reducing unemployment dramatically, and cushioning any recession. Most employers would find it more productive to train two different men and have them both work the normal number of hours to meet increased demand than to demand more from a single man. Hard-working teachers or doctors would suddenly have time to devote themselves to their dream of a small business, creating many more jobs along the way. With more time for economic transactions, and more work and demand to fuel them, everyone would be much richer: those who gain new jobs, those who choose longer hours, the businessmen required to meet new demand and the consumers who value the new products and services on offer more than the price demanded. The gross domestic product of the whole world would rocket.

Healthwise, there would be less of a problem treating the sick because fewer people would become sick. They would be spending much more of their life up and about in various ways and much less of it lying still on a mattress. Except for those gluttonous people who would use their free time to eat even more, abolishing sleep would reduce unhealthiness by providing much more free time for exercise, or for anything that burned more calories than sleep. Equally, all manner of medical research would be advanced by the time amateurs and others would now have for it.

Crime would also surely fall with no longer any real opportunity to rob homes while people inside sleep, or shops and public buildings while they are deserted, because they will in many cases be open all day to meet the demands of a people requiring no sleep. And even if many a shop is not open twenty-four hours a day, there will often nearby be a number which are, ensuring there are few places quiet enough to make a robbery - or even a mugging - practical. The criminal life itself may be less necessary with people as a whole being richer and employment opportunity being much greater.

A richer and freer world would also certainly be a more charitable world. People would now find time and money to give more, share more and help others more. The wealth of Western capitalist countries could reduce third world starvation and famine, providing more opportunities to people in those countries, who need them most of all. Far from impoverishing the starving, industrialised countries will be benefitting them and helping them by becoming richer.

In my view, the case is overwhelming. Without people needing to spend a third of their lives sleeping, the world would be richer, unemployment would be lower, people would be more educated and healthy, cultured and charitable. Crime could fall, famine may be more easily dealt with and even road congestion might be reduced. I have little faith in the power of government to ensure productive research, so I rest my hopes in any businessmen or scientists who think this idea is possible. The inventor of the technology or medicine that could end man's need for so much sleep would be a hero to history and as wealthy as any creator or inventor has ever been. They should start researching now, and keep on going until this idea is either established as truly impossible, or implemented in full. I eagerly wait.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 22:59 | Permanent Link |

Trust and ethics are essential to capitalism

A TYPICALLY THOUGHTFUL speech by Michael Novak is printed in the National Review today, in which he applauds the 'moral heart of capitalism', and emphasizes the constant need for ethics in business and society:

In recent years, too many folk have tried "thinking outside the box," "breaking out of old paradigms," "making new rules." Well, that might be a good thing to do in technological inquiries. But it's a fatal mistake in ethics. For technology may change, but the human need for honesty, trust, and the firm rule never to use other people as means, only as ends, doesn't change. When the American people can't trust a company's financial report, they won't invest in that company. It's as simple as that. You may not be able to see "trust," but it's as real as a huge loss on the stock market. In the daily life of a capitalist system, things of the spirit — like trust — are more real than money. When they are missing, money itself loses its value.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 17:53 | Permanent Link |

Languages matter

A VERY GOOD Telegraph leader today explains the problems arising from the Government's decision to make languages entirely optional at GCSE level.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 17:36 | Permanent Link |

Atheists need religion for recruitment

MILITANT HUMANIST AND atheist groups do not exist in any substantial numbers here, and in a deeply insightful commentary in the Guardian on the recent "Thought for the Day" debacle, Giles Fraser explains why:

"Why, indeed, do humanist groups want to associate themselves with a radio item concerned with religious belief in the first place? The reason is that the humanist agenda is almost entirely parasitic upon religious belief itself - humanists are largely defined by what they are against. And thus they are forced to follow religious groups around wherever they go. Contrary to expectations, it's not the case that humanist groups flourish as religious belief declines, it is the other way around.
It's a catch-22 situation: the more religion dwindles, the less interest there is in humanism. Hence the decline of humanism throughout the 20th century. We haven't gone from being a culture that believes in God to one that doesn't. We have become a culture that, for the most part, couldn't care less either way."

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 14:01 | Permanent Link |

Polly's pining for painful strikes

MEMBERS OF PRIVATE companies cannot collectively hold the country to ransom for higher wages the way state sector employees can, Polly Toynbee reports. I must say I am devastated.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 13:50 | Permanent Link |

Theory of Leftism

AN ORIGINAL POLITICAL blog can be found at It explores the psychological motivations for left-wing ideals and emotions. Very interesting read.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 13:37 | Permanent Link |

Thursday, August 22, 2002  

Has Bush lost his nerve?

Mark Steyn drops much of his traditional humour in a powerful Spectator column today:

"I thought the clumsy multicultural pandering of the Bush campaign was a superb joke, but with hindsight it foreshadowed the rhetorical faintheartedness of the last year. Bush, we were told in 2000, would do the right thing, even if he talked a lot of guff. Many of us stuck to this line after 11 September: okay, the Muslim photo-ops where he’d drone ‘Islam is peace’ while surrounded by shifty representatives of groups that believe Jews are apes got a bit tedious, and so did the non-stop White House Ramadan-a-ding-dong, and the injunction to American schoolgirls to get Muslim pen-pals, but for all the Islamic outreach you could at least rely on the guy to take out the Taleban, and, when the moment comes, Saddam as well.
But words matter, too. You win wars not just by bombing but by argument. Churchill understood this; he characterised the enemy as evil, not only because they were but also because the British people needed to be convinced of the fact if they were to muster the will to see the war through. In Vietnam, the US lost the rhetorical ground to Jane Fonda and co., and wound up losing the war, too.
... George W. Bush had a rare opportunity after 11 September. He could have attempted to reverse the most toxic tide in the Western world: the sappy multiculturalism that insists all cultures are equally valid, even as they’re trying to kill us. He could have argued that Western self-loathing is a psychosis we can no longer afford ... The Islamists are militarily weak but culturally secure. A year on, the West is just the opposite. There’s more than one way to lose a war."

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 16:04 | Permanent Link |

Good riddance

IN THE SHORT time I have known of her existence, I have never known for sure whether Cynthia McKinney was incredibly stupid, or diabolically wicked. Those close to her ranged from Nazi sympathiser Louis Farrakhan to terrorist Godfather Yasser Arafat, and she was a prominent supporter of Zimbabwe's communist Dictator Robert Mugabe. She gained real fame when she claimed the US President allowed September 11th to happen in order to ensure a military response that would benefit America's defence industry.

She lost her position yesterday, and chose not to go down with dignity. Not only did she appear willing to employ very dirty tricks, but her father responded to her poll defeat with the claim that it was a Jewish conspiracy. Well, she should at least be glad she knows who her father is. I am certainly surprised. Let all decent people hope she never resurfaces.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 15:24 | Permanent Link |

Not enough pop stars and traitors for some

THE BBC'S TOP 100 Britons includes the pop stars Boy George and Robbie Williams, the traitor James Connolly, hanged by Lloyd George for his assistance to Sinn Fein terrorists and the German war effort, and even an occultist called Alastair Crowley. But what name seems to be causing the most fuss? Enoch Powell.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 15:11 | Permanent Link |

Thought for the day - An unknown liberal's manifesto for Britain in 2002, written in the early sixties

I want a world where entertainment is its own justification, and whatever low and dirty pleasure anyone can gain makes the means to getting it absolutely fine.

I want a world where the gentle, kind manners of a dying generation are not just absent, but despised - where those with a clipped accent, innocent humour and a natural courtesy for others are met with a universal sneer and anger that in their naivety they cannot comprehend.

I want a world where the weak and old are seen deserve their every misfortune, where sympathy is only ever demonstrated in public.

I want a world where promiscuous homosexuals and clients of prostitutes can look around public parks for sex at the stroke of midnight without fear of arrest, but children cannot be left alone there at the stroke of noon for fear of paedophiles.

I want a world where an individual's duty to others begins and ends with paying tax, and any conscience is seen as a mark of weakness.

I want a world where sex is a religion forced upon everyone, with no way to shield ones children, whose innocence is seen as harmful, and whose sexualisation is encouraged by everyone with power.

I want a world where authority is neutral between the crook and the decent citizen, who gains the protection of no one, but will be denounced and jailed when he tries to defend himself and his property.

I want a world where the cardinal virtue is tolerance of all behaviour, and where those who sin against this are demonised and expelled from polite society.

I want a world where people are seen as compassionate for making credit card donations to people in Africa while refusing to play their deafening music even slightly quieter for the sake of their neighbours.

I want a world where shooting clay pigeons, hunting foxes and smoking tobacco are strictly taboo, but where snorting cocaine and smoking marijuana are noble statements of self-expression.

I want a world where the defenceless can expect no help from others if they are attacked by criminals, their every moment outside the house spent seeing everyone as a potential enemy.

I want a world where impregnating 14 year olds is a part of growing up, but clipping the thug next door around the ear will get a man sent to prison.

I want a world where people are ignorant of every great idea and every act of honour, where every brave soldier in history is seen as a fool for believing in anything more important than himself worth fighting for.

I want a world where a parent who worries about his children watching films featuring mass murder, and listening to music advocating gang-rape, is seen as a hopeless prude.

I want a world where people with almost nothing have their property and dignity destroyed; where freezing pensioners who take pride in their gardens see them filled with litter and condoms and are spat on by youths on every bus.

I want a world where a father looking after his own children is as rare a sight for most people as an elephant.

I want a world where graffiti and vandalism leave no sight unblemished, no view unruined.

I want a world where selfish hoodlums gain all their grubby pleasures from poisonous narcotics, robbing and mugging to pay for them, and where the response to this of those at the top is to legalise the substances in question.

I want a world where learning is despised, and culture is defined out of existence through a constant process of watering-down the meaning of art and music 'till nothing remains of the real thing.

Above all, I want this world to be insidious and self-reinforcing. I want most people to like it. And I want anyone who thinks there was ever anything better - that things can ever again be better - to face such ridicule and contempt that they will be too fearful to do anything but remain silent and die quickly.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 02:58 | Permanent Link |

Wednesday, August 21, 2002  

My profile is available

SOMEONE EMAILED ME yesterday asking about a profile page. I didn't have one, but it motivated me to create one. It is now online at PeterCuthbertson.BlogSpot.Com. It will rarely be updated, except if I find a new book or music to add, or something similar, but anyone who wants to know a bit more about the webmaster of this site may find it interesting.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 20:34 | Permanent Link |

Why hanging killers is right

A COUPLE OF convincing columns on the need for a restoration of capital punishment come from Jane Moore and Neil Clark today.

Clark is especially convincing precisely because he is one of those liberals who normally dismisses rigorous punishment as an evil only committed in dictatorships:

An opinion poll before the murders of Jessica Chapman and Holly Wells put public support for the restoration of capital punishment at 81 per cent. The figure would be even higher now. Yet despite their expression of “sadness” and “distress” at the Soham murders, there is no sign that Britain’s political elite, with the honourable exception of Ann Widdecombe, are even prepared to debate the issue. They refuse to do so, even though their case becomes weaker by the hour.
The “miscarriage of justice” argument, for years the trump card of the anti-hangers, has been rendered all but obsolete by recent developments in DNA testing. DNA tests proved once and for all that James Hanratty was the A6 murderer, to the chagrin of anti-hanging campaigners who had protested his innocence for more than 40 years.
... The anti-hangers cling not to liberalism (whose founding father, John Stuart Mill, was a staunch supporter of capital punishment for murder), but to an outdated and socially damaging 1960s libertinism, which places the rights of the wrongdoer above those whose rights he has infringed.
... The killers of Jessica and Holly should be killed, not because we hold human life in low regard, but precisely because we hold it in such high regard. The execution of those who take life is the clearest possible statement from society that it regards murder as a wholly unacceptable activity, a uniquely serious crime which warrants a uniquely serious penalty.
... Any other punishment simply does not accord the victim the respect he or she deserves. The idea of hanging may be unpleasant to some, but, in the words of Donald Zoll of Arizona University, “it is still infinitely less repulsive than the acts which invoke it”.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 16:57 | Permanent Link |

A classic piece made relevant again

AFTER READING THAT a Clinton chat show has "moved a step closer", I was reminded of a wonderful piece written a few months ago on the same subject by Jonah Goldberg, which gives the best DemonRat President since Jimmy Carter all the respect he deserves:

I think it would be a wonderful thing for Bill Clinton to get a TV show.
... If you really think he was a white-trash messiah preening at his own reflection in a pool of fried-chicken grease — then why wouldn't you want him to be on TV all the time?
Seriously, whenever Bill Clinton was allowed to speak freely in a relaxed setting, or when he was caught off-guard, he made a fool of himself. He was so compelled to please whoever was listening to him, he'd say whatever they wanted to hear with seemingly unparalleled conviction.
Just a few quick examples off the top of my head: When asked how he'd vote on the Gulf War, he said he agreed with the minority but would have voted the majority. He said, "I have vivid and painful memories of black churches being burned in my own state when I was a child" when, of course, no such events — vivid or otherwise — transpired in Arkansas when he was a kid. When he visited the Greeks he told them that he agreed with them, they should get the Elgin marbles back from Britain. When in Israel, he said he had had a "profoundly emotional experience" of meeting "some little children whose fathers had been killed in conflict with Palestinians" — even though he never met with such children.
... If he had serious people on, talking about serious things, I can guarantee you that Clinton would get himself into trouble almost every week. He'd be telling Noam Chomsky that he stands shoulder to shoulder with him about the evils of corporate fascism, only to return the following week to declare that there's not an inch of daylight between him and Milton Friedman.
Now, if it's a daytime Oprah-style thing, as some people are reporting, he will either be very good or very bad at it. If he's very good — weeping at dyslexic kids who can't take the SAT in the allotted time, getting outraged over husbands who leave the toilet seat up — people won't say, "Dang! this guy really was a great president!" They'll say, "Dang, he should have been doing this all along!" Which is something even the most committed Clinton foe can agree with wholeheartedly.

Thanks to Stephen Pollard for the link to the today's news on the show.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 16:45 | Permanent Link |

Two letters to The Times

THERE ARE A couple of interesting letters to today's Times on the Conservative Party.

Bertrand Russell's son, a Liberal Democrat Peer, makes the absurd claim that:

Tony Blair has unerringly chosen the most right-wing position compatible with electability. Whilst the Conservatives continue to be unsure of which way they face, maintaining an incompatible mix of irrelevant traditionalism and kneejerk modernisation, the Liberal Democrats are challenging Labour on the undefended centre ground.
...the Liberal Democrats are the only alternative government.

Further down is this gem:

Sir, Nick Gibb compares Norman Tebbit to Edward Heath, in that both are giving unwanted advice to later leaders on the basis that “it was all so much better in my day”.
The difference of course is that Lord Tebbit is right.
Yours faithfully,


Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 16:41 | Permanent Link |

Moral confusion does not indicate intelligence - it only means you have no conscience

IMPLICIT IN EVERY column a left-winger writes on foreign policy is the assumption that moral confusion demonstrates sophistication, whereas moral clarity means stupidity: a blind attachment to one perspective. If you are able to understand the viewpoint of a Palestinian homocide bomber or an Al Quaeda gunman, so the thinking goes, you will be able to see that your own is no better. It doesn't occur to such people that there are human beings smart enough to take in a bit of knowledge and manage to assimilate it without it confusing his moral perspective. This has particular resonance in the case of an evil as obvious as the attacks of September 11th. Moral "simplicity" in this matter makes sense: the terrorists are evil and the democratic country that was attacked is not. Jonah Goldberg makes this case well, parodying their views accurately:

"It's `simplistic' to say Americans are the good guys. Sophisticated people understand America needs to share the blame."
Remember, this has been the argument from huge chunks of the smart set all along. The 9/11 attacks had to have been blowback from some American policy or another, they said. There's no need to repeat the litany of embarrassing remarks from such fossilized icons as Barbara Kingsolver, Susan Sontag, Norman Mailer and Bill Moyers or the countless wannabes who marched to the same drummer. Whether it was the election of George W. Bush, his withdrawal from the Kyoto global climate treaty, or America's support for Israel, the cognoscenti just couldn't imagine the bloodshed in New York might not be our fault.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 16:11 | Permanent Link |

Appeasers go after schoolchildren

CONSERVATIVES REALLY NEED to invent some more words to express disbelief, because there are only so many times we can say "unbelievably" and talk about something "straining credulity". Anyway, the latest example of this comes from lesson plans of the National Education Association, a left-wing pressure group in the US. David Limbaugh reports on their plans to turn September 11th into a lesson in the need for appeasement:

According to the Washington Times, the NEA cautions teachers not to "suggest any group is responsible for the terrorist hijackings that killed more than 3,000 people. And one of the lesson plans "takes a decidedly blame-America approach, urging educators to 'discuss historical instances of American intolerance,' so that the American public avoids 'repeating terrible mistakes.'"
I decided to visit the NEA site and check it out myself. In one guide to help teachers and parents talk to children, we find: "We are all responsible for dealing with feelings of anger without harming others. If we want to oppose what the perpetrators did, one way to respond is to take steps to resolve conflicts peaceably rather than engage in acts of retaliation."

Of course, the truth is the precise opposite. Although he wasn't to know, if Clinton had been harder on Bin Laden, he would have died long before he got any change to plan the attacks of last year. If Arafat and his successors had been assassinated one by one until "Palestine" became democratic, suicide bombings would probably not be happening in the numbers they occur today. If Blair had hanged everyone in Sinn Fein/IRA he could find, instead of letting them bomb their way into government, the success of the IRA would not have given hope to every Bin Laden and Arafat in the world. Appeasement kills, and US foreign policy is if anything too isolationist, too cautious and not vigorous enough. For the NEA to use such a tragedy to indoctrinate kids to believe otherwise is appalling.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 15:40 | Permanent Link |

A terrorist is a terrorist

RACHEL EHRENFELD MAKES a point that shouldn't need making in the National Review today. But based on the attitudes of Western governments, clearly it does. The IRA are no different than Al Quaeda, Hamas, Hesbolla, the PLO or the Columbian FARC. All part of the same network, they train each other, trade equipment and help one another in destabilising democratic Western governments. If only Blair were as interested in bagging a few terrorists closer to home as he is in fighting Al Quaeda and Iraq. Indeed, if Blair had treated those situations in the same way as he has treated Ulster, Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein would now be joining Martin McGuinness in governing parts of this country.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 14:50 | Permanent Link |

The Liberal Elite's contempt for democracy

AS SOMEONE WHO takes objectivity seriously, it annoys me that Polly Toynbee alone can anger me in most of the things she writes. Her late husband, Peter Jenkins, was a thoughtful and decent man: usually wrong, but always worth reading for an elegant analysis. She is very different. First of all, she doesn't actually seem to offer much of an argument, only an assessment that confirms liberal prejudices. I don't feel in any way as though I understand her view better or share it more after reading what she writes, because she seems to operate on the assumption that her readers already think as she does. This is a logical assumption for a Guardian columnist, of course, but it doesn't make her very accessible to a wider audience. Motivated by a bitter contempt for her country, morality and common sense, she is shameless in her advocacy of any means to destroy conservatism. The parliamentary route seems scarcely to interest her except where she shows her distaste for it. She must look with admiration on those European Commissioners, without a vote to their name, driving small businessmen across the continent into bankruptcy with politically correct regulations. She has advocated anti-democratic means such as proportional representation and tactical voting to ensure a Conservative Party unable to offer any alternative government to the British people. She seems to believe conservatives simply do not deserve representation: indeed, the Toynbee state's role is to "educate them out of existence". Her basically wicked attitude is shown again today in her writing about capital punishment. She knows that most normal people think that anyone who could commit murders like those we have seen these last two weeks deserves execution, and that they believe such a punishment will deter others in the future. Buttressed slightly by selective opinion polls, her response to this feeling is her typical contempt for any public feeling that she does not share:

"Back in 1965 [hanging] would never have been abolished by referendum, let alone a little later in the wake of the Moors murders. It required politicians (mainly, but not all, Labour) brave enough to stand up to public opinion, to cast their votes in the Commons and take the flak back in their constituencies for following their consciences."

Brave. That says it all, really. On a matter of crucial importance to the sort of society we live in, voting against the clear will of the vast majority of people in this country is not authoritarian or "elitist" or dictatorial. It is "brave" to thumb your nose at the people you are supposed to serve who cannot afford to live like you, miles from any of the crime and misery you will cause. While you clear your conscience, they must worry day and night about crooks and thugs and perverts who roam the streets looking for victims.

Presumably what she means by "brave" is that it is courageous to be so overwhelmingly indifferent to the wishes of those whose votes you must soon seek again. But even this isn't the case here. When the majority in all parties oppose the public, whom can the voters choose to change things? These "brave" liberal MPs knew people had no choice in this matter anyway, no way of punishing them. They weren't brave at all: they conspired against the public. That is what 'conscience votes' are really about: a wealthy, liberal elite running the country as they please and giving the public no party to vote for that expresses a position on the issues that matter: on capital punishment, on abortion, on hunting. When all the economic debates have finished, this is the real separation in British politics that decides the sort of people we are. It is a growing separation between a decent majority of the British people who want to reward the good and punish the wrongdoer, and an elite determined to create a permissive society however many children are murderered, however many drug dealers litter our streets, however many babies must be scraped from the womb. Toynbee's friends prevailed. Her shameless jubilation at the defeat of the British instincts that kept this country free for centuries should stand as a warning to all those who still care about democracy.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 02:58 | Permanent Link |

Tuesday, August 20, 2002  

Many of those who condemn the murderers aren't as different as they pretend

THEODORE DALRYMPLE never scared to express uncomfortable truths or attack modern trends. On the recent murders of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, he is devastating:

"prisoners, for example, who proudly announce that they would kill any child molester who crossed their path, are themselves more often than not abusers of children by proxy: that is to say, they abandon their children, and the mothers of their children, to the tender mercies of a succession of stepfathers.
They cannot even claim that they are unaware of the connection between the abandonment of children by fathers and the subsequent abuse, both physical and sexual, of those abandoned children. On the contrary, they know it only too well: but yet they persist in their abandonment.
The truth of the matter is that, for the most part, they do not care in the slightest what happens to their children, at least once they are out of sight. Actually to care for their children would impose limits on the satisfaction of their whims, in other words would represent the discipline of duty: and for this they are not prepared. They want to keep all possibilities permanently open.
What is true of prisoners is true of an uncomfortably large and growing proportion of the English population. Mothers who have separated from the fathers of their children often put the interests of their latest boyfriend far above those of their own children, whom they will expel from their homes at the boyfriend's behest. Blood may be thicker than water, but lust is much thicker than blood.
It is to the section of the population that is particularly liable to abuse its children that the sickliest expression of concern for the girls, and the shrillest expressions of outrage at their murder, has been principally directed."

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 16:11 | Permanent Link |

Monday, August 19, 2002  

Your interests are business's interests

PECULIAR GUARDIAN COLUMN from Mark Vernon today:

"Last year, well in advance of next week's earth summit, Shell ran a television campaign featuring accounts of scientists finding ways to extract energy from natural resources in environmentally sensitive regions, while, at the same time, helping local, threatened indigenous peoples. The point was more than a re-branding exercise; it was saying that Shell itself had become an organisation working to save the planet.
Put like that, this would be a bit hard to swallow. So the advertisements posited not that we scrutinise Shell operations, but that we learn to trust its motives. This was conveyed in the style of the ads: there were confessional narratives of saintly scientists pursuing a quest; there were bright, clean shots of wind and waves, suggesting that Shell is working with, not against, a kind of timeless wisdom.
In short, the company wanted us not only to give our money to it, but also to put our faith in it. And Shell is not alone; today, many multinationals are adopting methods and mentalities that have a distinctly religious tone. Faith, hope and utopia are becoming big in business."

Of course, the idea that a business could really care about the environment and the planet is alien to Guardian readers. It has to be a part of some sort of sinister plot. But businessmen are human like anyone else, usually with far less concern for getting money at all costs than your average union leader. Those who see business as somehow the enemy of everyone else just do not understand capitalism. Businesses spend money on all sorts of noble causes, and they get that money by satisfying customers. If there is money in, for example, "Not tested on animals" labels, you can bet companies will display them, because there is a market for such goods. The Body Shop similarly demonstrates perfectly that business is far from the enemy of the environment. If a company does not meet the interests of its customers, it will not survive for long. So objections to capitalism are objections to free people making their own decisions.

When people criticise capitalism, what they are attacking is the freedom for other people to make choices for themselves. They don't like the way markets let people buy what they want, and would much prefer their own group to get its way and for money to be spent coercively on its own interests. Capitalism protects everyone from such people, and gives them the chance to make the choices for themselves. That is why it works, and that is why capitalist countries are the most free.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 11:05 | Permanent Link |

Sunday, August 18, 2002  

The scientific evidence is overwhelming: cannabis wrecks lives

TAKING CANNABIS IS immoral, but is it really as dangerous as most experts claim? As one of the leading neuroscientists, Professor Susan Greenfield is more qualified to answer this question than almost anyone. Her conclusion in the Observer today is devastating:

It is widely accepted that there is a link between cannabis and schizophrenia: as many as 50 per cent of young people attending psychiatric clinics may be regular or occasional cannabis users. The drug can also precipitate psychotic attacks, even in those with no previous psychiatric history. Moreover, there appears to be a severe impairment in attention span and cognitive performance in regular cannabis users, even after the habit has been relinquished. All these observations testify to a strong, long-lasting action on the brain.
... the drug is likely to modify the configuration of the networks of brain cell connections.
These configurations of connections make you the unique person you are, since they usually reflect your particular experiences. So a change will be hard to register from one person to another, and certainly from one slice of rat brain to another: but still, it will make you see the world in a different way - characteristically one depleted of motivation."

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 14:39 | Permanent Link |
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