-- R.G. Menzies
LIBERTARIAN/CONSERVATIVE DIGEST AND COMMENTARY FROM AN ACADEMIC PSYCHOLOGIST in Brisbane, Australia. My academic publications are widely read
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Can the Left overcome its patriotism problem?
The British Leftist below, Angus Colwell, recognizes that the Left is not patriotic and proposes that there is a third way between rejecting patriotism and accepting it
He has a point that the mainstream political Left in both the UK and the USA were once patriotic. We all know of the advice by JFK about asking what you can do for your country but it was also true in Britain. As a Times writer put it:
"When the mourners sat in the pews at Clement Attlee’s funeral in Westminster Abbey in November 1967 they were played, at the request of the deceased, the musical setting of a poem by Cecil Spring Rice. "I Vow To Thee, My Country" is a fitting testament to Major Attlee, the Gallipoli veteran who was as patriotic, almost as stereotypical, an Englishman of the first half of the 20th century as one could imagine. The congregation went on to sing Hubert Parry’s setting of Blake’s Jerusalem and John Bunyan’s To Be A Pilgrim in a festival that commemorated a successful prime minister and a great patriot."
So why has that changed so drastically? Colwell doesn't know. Maybe he is too young. He just thinks it is unnecessary. But it is clear what has happened. And it is encapsulated in the campaign slogan of "Supermac": "You never had it so good".
Attlee was Prime Minister of Great Britain from 26 July 1945 to 26 October 1951. Harold Macmillan was Prime Minister of Great Britain from 10 January 1957 to 18 October 1963. What lay between them was the great postwar expansion of prosperity that was seen in Britain and elsewhere. And it was an expansion of prosperity that poured down through all the social classes. Macmillan was referring to the eradication of the dire poverty in which working class Britons had found themselves at the end of WWII compared to their state in his era in the 1960s.
And the spread of prosperity throughout Britain led to a gradual erosion of working class support for Leftist salvation. When McKenzie & Silver wrote their book on the British working class in 1968, a quarter of the working class was already voting Tory.
But that was a tragedy for the Left. The chronic anger and unhappiness that is Leftism lost its customary focus and justification for existence. For generations the Left had a clearly defined enemy: "The bosses". The entire program of the Left was to "save" the workers from their Tory oppressors. But when a big segment of the workers started siding with the Tories, that entire program was called into question. To hate the Tories was also to hate a large segment of the workers! That was too contradictory even for the Left.
A new focus for criticism had to be found. And as the whole nation was becoming bourgeois and thus developing Tory instincts, habits and beliefs, there was only one possible target left: The nation as a whole. The whole nation was now essentially bourgeois so the whole nation had to be demonized. And that has gradually developed into the recently seen major breakdown of working class loyalties at the hands of Boris Johnson. Boris has finally shattered the "red wall". Trump in the USA also gained massive working class support in 2016.
So the class basis of politics has changed markedly. The Left have lost a lot of the workers and gained educated elitists instead. And tertiary education is now widespread so the gain for the Left is not inconsiderable.
There are still poor people in Britain who hold to a traditional belief that the Labour party is on their side but that may be something of a last gasp of the old polarities. To the Leftist antipatriots of today, the workers are now no source of virtue so internationalism has become the Leftist dream, a dream with little working class support.
So, no, there will be no revival of Leftist patriotism
Notes: "Windrush" refers to the opening of Britain's doors to black immigrants from the Caribbean in 1948. Colwell regards that as an achievement. Given the stratospheric rate of violent crime among people of African ancestry worldwide, others might regard it as a great mistake. He also regards the legalization of homosexual marriage as a Leftist achievement, even though it was an initiative of the Conservative Cameron government
We hear someone identify as a “patriot”, and we suspect “racist”. If we see an English flag flying outside someone’s house, we suspect they harbour Ukip-sympathetic views. This judgement has been given an authoritative reinforcement too: a British Army leaflet leaked earlier this year was titled ‘Extreme Right Wing Indicators & Warnings’, and included people identifying as ‘patriots’ on the checklist for potential racists.
Billy Bragg wrote in The Progressive Patriot (2006): “Reluctant to make any concessions to reactionary nationalism, we have, by default, created a vacuum, leaving it [patriotism] to the likes of the BNP and the Daily Mail”. In 2006, the right had a complete monopoly on patriotism, and this has not changed. Yet, throughout our national stories, it has more often been the left that has invigorated the change that we now rejoice and revere.
In the case of Jeremy Corbyn, it is his characteristically immature misunderstanding of history that has led to his party, and ideology, being plunged into electoral oblivion. The right’s ownership of patriotism predates Corbyn’s leadership, and it is both the soft and hard left’s inability to connect the country’s past and present with its future, that has left the party in its current state.
The left-wing journalist Paul Mason views the idea that Brexit lost Corbyn the election as inaccurate. For him, Corbyn lost the working class in 2018, not 2019. The most damaging fiascos in this year were Corbyn’s handling of the Skripal poisonings, and Labour’s initial refusal to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism when drafting their code of conduct. Corbyn’s response to the Skripal poisonings (instinctively siding with Russia) was a vindication of the popular idea that Corbyn’s suspected antipathy towards Britain was tangible and influenced his policy. His refusal to sing the national anthem, his opposition to Trident, his meetings with the IRA — all of these were common knowledge at the 2017 general election, but the Skripal poisonings proved his discomfort with his country fully guided his national security response and his previous record was more than inconsequential left-wing quirks.
The IHRA debacle’s impact was twofold: it meant that the antisemitism crisis in the Labour Party exploded into the mainstream for over year, culminating in both the departure of nine Labour MPs earlier in 2019, and the Chief Rabbi’s intervention during the election campaign. It was deeply damaging for Labour in Jewish communities. But, at large, the antisemitism crisis was not necessarily a wider vote-loser in its own right, but supplemented other suspicions about Corbyn as menacing. For many who didn’t know where the antisemitism came from, it was ominous and perturbing. To those who understood where it came from, it was emblematic of Corbyn’s aversion to patriotism — aligning with Palestine, which was, in the minds of many, akin to aligning with Islam against the west. When election campaigns were interrupted by Islamist terrorism, Corbyn’s own links with militant groups appeared to some to be proof of sympathy with the enemy.
These two errors were completely avoidable. Had Corbyn condemned Russia like Theresa May did (which happened to be the finest hour of her premiership) and adopted the IHRA definition, his anti-monarchist views could have seemed like harmless quirks, and the antisemitism in the Labour Party kept in house. It is right and a relief that these two critical flaws of Corbyn were exposed — and yes, it is Corbyn himself, not Corbynism — otherwise his most dangerous instincts and tendencies could now be in Downing Street.
There is a deep irony at the heart of many on the left’s understanding of history. For many, there is no grey area between support and deplatforming, between reverence and eradication. Labour’s pledge for a formal inquiry into Britain’s colonial past is welcome, and a review of our empire is long overdue — Edward Said should be as recognisable a name as Edmund Burke. But this historical framework has slid into cancel culture, most emblematic in #RhodesMustFall movements. Removing statues, and thus removing figures from history, is to not revise and remember — it is to forget. The casual absorber of history may not be as familiar with Cecil Rhodes as with other tyrants, and tearing down statues is not going to improve that. Similarly, deplatforming and cancel culture suppresses the symptoms of an ill society, rather than addressing the causes.
Corbyn himself’s own view of history is riddled with irony. His hero, John Lilburne, was a strident patriot. Corbyn and McDonnell both revere Clement Attlee’s government (1945–1951), and the creation of the NHS, the nationalisation of 20% of the economy, and the establishment of the welfare state. Yet Attlee was the man who led the British development of the nuclear deterrent. Attlee had a clear vision of “collective security”, a concept Corbyn fundamentally misunderstands.
Attlee also exemplified a progressive, left-wing patriotism. His government advocated for the creation of a ‘New Jerusalem’ — a prosperous and egalitarian society. Are these not the two things Corbyn wants to reconcile most of all? Attlee had the benefit of a postwar climate — he was able to advocate for a patriotic unifying bond to replace the gloomy bonding activity that was World War II, building a new nation. But now there is a void that needs filling — a yearning for unity and common identity — that Labour must look to inhabit.
The Dutch writer Ian Buruma observes that in the comparatively peaceful twenty-first century, there is a “weird longing for the state of war, for the clarity it brings, and for the chance to divide one’s fellow citizens…neatly into friends and foes”. As society grows more secular, the unifying bonds that religious practise once maintained are replaced by various creeds. Often, it is nationalism that fills the gap. The Irish political scientist Benedict Anderson depicted the nation as a socially constructed “imagined community”, a home in the minds of people who perceive themselves as part of that group.
It is not hard to see how this idea of nationalism slides into racism. To borrow the terminology of the psychologist Henri Rajfel, our societies resemble an out-group which we do not feel comfortable identifying as part of, rather than an in-group. Those who do identify themselves in respect to a nation can stray away from the idea of loving their own country, to the more ugly idea of national, and often following that, racial superiority. Progressive patriotism is loving your country in its own right, not in comparison.
This “progressive patriotism” seems a blue-sky elusive concept. But it can exist, just in the same way that nations exist. Nations are not imagined communities as Anderson writes — they have material realities. Shared landmarks, shared food, shared cultural tastes, shared weather — as we know all too well from our small talk.
The best exemplifications of progressive patriotism are in sport. Eric Hobsbawm wrote that “the imagined community of millions seems more real as a team of 11 named people”. Jason Cowley, editor of the New Statesman, wrote a vital article in the summer of 2018 about England’s football team as the embodiment of a progressive idea of nation. He compares 1984, when a subset of England fans refused to accept England’s 2–0 win at the Maracanã because a goal had been scored by a black man (John Barnes), with the cultural (and sporting) success of the current England football team. When the 2018 World Cup came around, we saw a multiracial team, fully integrated with each other, happy to wrap themselves in the England flag — the picture of a history of immigration to England.
While that is England, Britain broadcasted its own progressive patriotism to the world at the London 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony. There are flaws with this fundamentally Whiggish view of history — while our history is not necessarily one of inexorable progress, the idea of progression and story is our “bridge between the future and the past” as Orwell put it, and helps us to celebrate the positive things that have bonded us as a nation.
At the Olympics Opening Ceremony, these were Britain’s industrial revolution, the NHS, and our literary and cultural heritage. It featured Paul McCartney, the Arctic Monkeys and Tinie Tempah. The ceremony celebrated the women’s suffrage movement, the Windrush generation and featured mixed-race families and grime artists. It was, as Forbes put it, a “love song to Britain”.
The reaction of the Conservative MP Adrian Burley was that the Opening Ceremony was “leftie multicultural crap”. But Burley inadvertently made a telling historical judgement — the association with a “love song to Britain” — patriotism — with “leftie[s]” — the left.
The things that we revere have been largely invigorated by the left throughout our history. The creation of the NHS, women’s suffrage, the legalisation of homosexuality — these are celebrated today by the right, but were enacted and pressured by the left. The Conservatives are proud of introducing same-sex marriage in 2012, but conveniently forget to mention that more Conservative MPs voted against it than for it. It was passed with Labour votes.
Inevitably, to embrace this kind of patriotism we need to accept a few myths — the Olympics Opening Ceremony did so when it championed the Industrial Revolution as an act occurring from within England’s “green and pleasant lands”, and not reliant on the colonial expansion like it was. Tom Holland, reviewing Margaret Macmillan’s The Uses and Abuses of History, highlighted the advantage of slight fabrications:
“Without the mythologisation of Magna Carta, the history of liberty in the English-speaking world…would have turned out very much for the worse; without Churchill’s romantic evocation of Britain’s island story in 1940, Hitler may never have been defeated”.
The culture war over Churchill’s legacy fought by the left is an example of their current disassociation with progressive patriotism. We need to acknowledge Churchill’s racially abhorrent views and remember and condemn them, not remove them and him from history. That Britain defeated Nazism in 1945 is an unequivocal good, possibly the most in history, and removing the spearhead of that from our memory can lead to a strange sense of relativism. This leads to what the philosopher John Gray observed — that “sections of the left relativise the Holocaust, treating it as only one among many crimes against humanity”. This relativism sparks a fierce conservative backlash, which tramples all over the middle ground, polarises our politics and drowns out the grey area of remembrance of Churchill’s triumphs with acknowledgement of his deep flaws.
This historical cancel culture is an acutely modern idea. Yet the left’s aversion to nationhood is not. Orwell identified the left’s disassociation with patriotism in England Your England (1941), an essay written during the Blitz. His observation at the time that “the English intelligentsia are Europeanised” rings true amidst the Brexit debate — many liberals prefer to identify as “European”, or more often, “Londoners”, and feel an aversion to identifying as “English” or “British”.
What has changed since when Orwell was writing in the 1940s is the expansion of disassociation from patriotism from the intellectual elite to the modern left at large. Colonial guilt — which is justified and vital — has mutated into a deeper cultural embarrassment and self-hatred, of everything Britain stands for.
It has led to a strange self-alienation amongst many, rendering themselves void of a place for identity. Worse, it feeds the worst impulses and backlashes of the nationalists, as the left attempt to proselytise this abandonment of nation for all (most of whom are comfortable identifying with nationhood). The middle way we need is through acknowledgment both of past glories and mistakes — for example, reconciling our colonial guilt with our positive history of immigration since the Second World War is how we make certain concessions to myths without mistreating history.
At the 2019 election, Labour did not lose due to a wholesale rejection of their economic policies (which remain popular). Labour fundamentally abandoned patriotism, and nation as identity. As did the Liberal Democrats. Labour’s catchphrase “for the many, not the few” was ironic when choosing to advocate negating the decision of the “many”. The “Liberal Democrats” is an ironic name for a party who back overturning democracy — an act more at home in Viktor Orbán’s Hungary than the British centre ground. Able to monopolise Farage’s grievances in respect to nationhood, Johnson was able to emerge as the only mainstream patriotic figure at this election, and is reaping the rewards.
The Leave vote was an inherently patriotic act. Unfortunately, some who voted Leave did so according to the comparative nationalist view of nation — a misplaced view of superiority. But many voted Leave in a more affirmative sense — as a vote of confidence in our nations and the institutions that govern us.
The Brexit vote was a vote of confidence for our parliament, our judiciary, our civil service, and an expression that we are happy to be governed by them. Standing up for these great institutions, slightly Whiggish though it may be, is an example of progressive patriotism in the political sense — it is not refined to culture and sport. The subsequent demonisation of each of those institutions has been ugly and has enhanced distrust of our own country, provoking Leavers and Remainers for different reasons.
If we didn’t trust the European bureaucrats who supposedly governed us, but do not then in turn have faith in our own institutions either, who do we trust? The Brexit vote has so far enhanced social dislocation, not addressed it.
The left must emerge as the progressive patriotic voice in Britain. It was the left who enacted legislation to bring the Windrush generation to the United Kingdom, the left who first endorsed women’s suffrage, and the left who legalised homosexuality. Our most successful black, female, and LGBT sportspeople, musicians, actors and public figures are not successful in an “imagined community” — nation exists, and their success is the consequence of history, of progressive legislation of past governments, and a progressive idea of our nation.
Forward-looking, innovative and progressive patriotism must not be confined to sporting events. It is the left who were the invigorators of it, yet it is the left who are currently exacerbating the backsliding of it. The left must acknowledge responsibility and pick the mantle back up.
Record hit for most ice to melt in Antarctica in one day
The "data" comes from a model (which starts in 1979 only) so is not data at all, just guesswork. And generalizing from one instance is in any case close to brain-dead
What seems to be happening is that the Antarctic ice sheet is the big frustration for Warmists -- as it is if anything gaining mass -- so this one little glimmer of melting is seized on eagerly, making a mountain out of a pimple
The record in recent decades for the highest level of ice to melt in Antarctica in one day was reached on Christmas Eve, data suggests.
Around 15 percent of the continent's surface melted on Monday, according to the Global Forecast System (GFS) by the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP). The data comes from the Modèle Atmosphérique Régional (MAR), a model used for meteorological and climatic research.
Xavier Fettweis, a climatologist at the University of Liège in Belgium, who tweeted the data on Friday, said this is the highest melt extent in Antarctica in the modern era, since 1979. He added the production of melt water is a record 230 percent higher than average since November this year. That's despite the melting season not yet being over.
For the first time, Fettweis said, the melting seemed to explain a negative anomaly in data on Antarctica's surface mass balance (SMB). This is the net balance between what causes a glacier's surface to grow or deplete, for instance because it evaporates or melts away.
"It should be noted that this process is currently missing in most of SMB estimations over Antarctica as melt has been negligible until now. But the climate is changing..." Fettweis said.
Fettweis told Newsweek Antarctica has been "significantly warmer than average" this melting season. But he stressed the data is from a model, and not an in situ observation. The melting could be driven by a number of factors, and experts will need to wait two to three melting seasons to confirm what is going on.
"We have observed a crash of the Antarctica polar vortex just before this melting season," explained Fettweis, referring to low pressure near the pole. "A weaker polar vortex allows warm air masses to reach easier the ice sheet (which is usually protected by its polar vortex as it was the case the previous summer). The fact that the sea ice extent is very low also enhances the possibility of warm air masses to reach the ice sheet."
Asked whether climate change is to blame, he said: "As for most of the anomalies observed on these last months over the Earth (e.g. in Australia), the signal coming from global warming can not be ignored here."
Greenies want global speed limits on roads
The Greenies are getting their meddling fingers into even more pies. It's only a "declaration" that they are asking for at this stage but once the declaration has been signed, governments will come under pressure to implement it
Hopefully, most governments will foresee its unpopularity and kick the can down the road, in a way that governments are good at doing. The 55mph limit that Nixon and Jimmy Carter imposed on Americans was hugely unpopular so was eventually rescinded -- by Bill Clinton
Australia is preparing to sign an international road safety declaration in Sweden that endorses a 30km/h limit on suburban roads in response to "traffic injuries, air quality and climate change".
Nationals leader Michael Mc-Cormack is scheduled to attend a global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety on February 19, where he will join other transport and infrastructure ministers in ratifying the Stockholm Declaration, which will be referred to the UN.
A draft obtained by The Weekend Australian includes a preamble recommending integration of road safety with UN Sustainable Development Goals, including climate action, gender equality and reduced inequalities targets. The summit is expected to endorse speeding up the "shift toward cleaner, safer and more affordable modes of transport, incorporating higher levels of physical activity such as walking, cycling and using public transit".
Clause seven of the draft declaration suggests mandating lower speeds on urban roads, which would have a significant impact on Australian residential limits, currently 50km/h. It resolves to strengthen "law enforcement to ensure zero speeding and mandate a maximum road travel speed limit of 30km/h ... in residential areas and urban neighbourhoods within cities as efforts to reduce speed will have an impact on both road traffic injuries, air quality and climate change".
The two-day road safety summit, which includes sessions with Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf and Prince Michael of Kent, will also focus on "sustainable transport. The Stockholm Declaration calls on public and private organisations to purchase "safe and sustainable vehicle fleets".
It flags addressing "the connections between road safety, mental and physical health, development, education; equity, gender equality, environment and climate change". A spokesman for Mr McCormack said the Deputy Prime Minister "has had no approval or input into the wording of the current draft text". "The draft Stockholm Declaration will be considered at the Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety in February," he said.
Despite The Weekend Australian understanding Mr McCormack and his chief of staff were confirmed to represent the government in Sweden, his spokesman said they were not sure whether his "schedule will permit him to attend". "If the Deputy Prime Minister does attend, the draft text will be carefully reviewed and the government would provide input where necessary," he said.
If he pulls out, Assistant Road Safety Minister Scott Buchholz would likely attend. Mr McCormack did not answer questions on whether he supported 30km/h limits, integrating road safety with climate action or if the government would purchase a "sustainable vehicle fleet".
In October, Scott Morrison delivered a speech urging Australia to "avoid any reflex towards a negative globalism that coercively seeks to impose a mandate from an often ill-defined borderless global community ... And worse still, an unaccountable internationalist bureaucracy".
Mr McCormack's visit comes after the Australian Automobile Association in August warned about government inaction on the national road safety strategy. The AAA released analysis showing only nine of 33 individual safety performance indicators were "on track" to be met. Pressure is also building on the Coalition to accelerate policy settings in response to the influx of electric vehicles.
From The Weekend Australian of 21 December, 2019
Australian banks first in line for climate stress tests
The banking regulators have fallen into the hands of the Greenies. So banks now must not lend to projects Greenies disapprove of.
If they do it will be regarded by the regulators as a "risky" investment, even if the only risk is from global warming and is hence an entirely fictional risk.
Greenie investments will be favoured over rational ones, thus greatly limiting bank support for many industries -- such as mining and dam building
Stress tests of banks by regulators have a legitimate role. They make sure banks do not overlend or lend foolishly. They aim to stop banks going broke. So they control what banks can do. But the stress tests are now being perverted so that only Greenie-approved investments are regarded as safe.
The truth is probably the opposite: Greenie investments are the risky ones, not the safe ones. Remember Solyndra?
Australian banks will be the first sector in the firing line for the prudential regulator's tough new institutionally focused climate change stress tests, which will be rolled out following the launch of new economic and environmental scenario modelling by global central banks next year.
The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority will target the $45bn general insurance sector with its audits on the vulnerability of companies to a potentially "disorderly" transition to a low-emissions economy.
Finally, superannuation fund managers overseeing the nation's $3 trillion pile of retirement savings will feel the heat of APRA's soon-to-be-launched climate stress tests, which will measure how the funds are preparing their portfolios for an unpredictable future in which asset prices could fluctuate wildly depending on the rate of warming of the planet or
the policies put in place to achieve emissions targets.
Regulatory sources have confirmed to The Weekend Australian the running order for the sectors soon to face an Australian prudential probe measuring the exposure of banks, insurers and super funds to both the physical risks of climate change such as floods, droughts, fires or cyclones — and the economic "transition" risks, such as orderly or abrupt changes in prices, possible stranded assets, or long-term productivity changes.
The insights from the stress tests could be used to encourage companies to exit potentially risky assets or investments, re-price policies or loans, or even to force banks and insurers that refuse to ready themselves for an unpredictable climate to hold more capital as a buffer in times of crisis. The climate models to be used to analyse the financial strength of companies are being developed by an international group of regulators, chaired by Bank of England governor Mark Carney, who this week warned that large financial groups in the UK would imminently face the world's toughest climate stress tests.
As revealed by The Australian this week, the Network of Central Banks and Supervisors for Greening the Financial System (NGFS), chaired by Mr Carney, is due to finalise a number of climate transition scenarios in the first half of 2020, at which point APRA will begin tuning the economic models to the local context to begin stress testing large financial institutions.
The Reserve Bank, a member of the group, will use the financial models to analyse economy-wide impacts of climate change and policies seeking to shift the nation to a low-emissions future. The Australian Securities & Invest-ments Commission will also be engaged in the work, mostly through monitoring whether companies are properly disclosing known risks to shareholders.
Mr Carney this week said the BoE would measure UK financial companies against three scenarios, which were under development by the NGFS. "The catastrophic business-as-usual scenario where no further climate action is taken, a scenario where early policy action delivers an orderly transition to the targets set in Paris, and a third where late policy action leads to a disorderly and disruptive transition," Mr Carney said.
This aligns closely to recent remarks by APRA executive Geoff Summerhayes, who chairs the global Sustainable Insurance Forum, who said Australian regulators were contemplating "three broad models" of climate change scenarios and what the ensuing "implications would be for assets and business models" stemming from those scenarios.
"A hothouse world, where there is no discernible change to the warming profile; an orderly adjustment to a lower-carbon future, which would envisage a significant amount of transition risk, albeit smooth; and a late adjustment where the world continues to warm and there is a realisation from a policy sense much later in the piece which requires a very rapid ,adjustment to a lower-carbon future,"
Mr Summerhayes told parliament this month: "Each of those scenarios has implications for the pricing of assets, for business models, for physical impacts and liability impacts to a range of firms' investments."
Fitch Ratings head of sustainable finance Andrew Steel on Friday said the gap between how ambitious global governments pledge to cut emissions and the actual policies in place to reach those targets highlighted the "risk of a sharp shift" in the global regulatory environment. Mr Steel said the possibility that global governments could ratchet up carbon pricing policies to meet emissions targets was a key risk to company credit ratings.
From "The Australian" of 21 December, 2019
Cressida Dick is under investigation at long last
After a long record of incompetence. The fact that she is an open lesbian has protected her so far but that may come to an end
In the Brazilian electrician affair she was nominally in charge but just wandered around while other people ran a chaotic show. If she had exercized some leadership she could have pulled all the threads together and stopped the police killing of an innocent man
She seems to have been similarly detached during Operation Midland. In operation Midland it was again innocent people who were made to suffer -- all on the unsupported word of one man. If she had a real police brain in her head she might have suspected that he was a fantasist. Instead she let the whole process grind on to its sorry end. She basically has nothing to contribute at a senior level. She should have been put out to grass long ago.
Dame Cressida Dick has been referred to the police watchdog for alleged misconduct over her role in the disastrous Operation Midland investigation
The Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) has asked the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) to look at the matter after Harvey Proctor, the former Tory MP, lodged a formal complaint last month.
Mr Proctor, accused the Met Commissioner of dereliction of duty during the opening weeks of the inquiry in 2014.
The 72-year-old was investigated by Scotland Yard for more than a year when fantasist Carl Beech falsely told detectives he had been raped and abused by him and other high profile figures in the 1970s.
A senior officer declared Beech's comments to be "credible and true" and the homes of Mr Proctor, Lord Bramall and Lord Brittan were raided by detectives.
Dame Cressida, who had overall responsibility for the investigation in its opening weeks in November 2014, recently admitted that she knew the use of the phrase "credible and true" was a mistake, but she failed to correct it.
She has since admitted she should have taken action saying: "perhaps in retrospect I should have said something".
Mr Proctor claims the failure to correct her colleague's mistake amounted to misconduct in public office and he has asked Sadiq Khan - who deals with complaints about the Commissioner - to investigate.
In a statement the Mayor's office said they had made a voluntary referral about the complaint to the IOPC.
A spokesman said: "MOPAC considers that the exceptional circumstances of this case, together with the fact that the IOPC have recently conducted an independent investigation into closely related matters, justifies voluntary referral to the IOPC."
The statement went on: "In recording the complaint and subsequently deciding to voluntarily refer the complaint to the IOPC, MOPAC is making no judgment about the validity or otherwise of the complaint. Nor has an investigation into the complaint been conducted at this stage.
"MOPAC is asking the IOPC to determine whether or not it is necessary for the complaint to be investigated."
Last month Mr Proctor - who lost his home and his job as a result of the police investigation - accepted £500,000 in compensation from the Met plus £400,000 in legal costs.
But he has refused to go quietly and has also lodged a criminal complaint against five senior Met officers, accusing them of misleading a judge in order to obtain illegal search warrants.
A smart-arse Lesbian doctor has cost taxpayers a heap
Self declared lesbian, Dr. Kerryn Phelps, clearly had a grudge against conservatives so took a narrow window of opportunity to join with the Left to pass "Medevac" legislation which gave refugees in detention offshore a highroad to be moved to Australia. They just had to say that they were ill.
In collusion with crooked Leftist doctors, the whole thing ended up a total fraud. All or almost all of those moved claimed to be ill but none actually were. And most were highly undesirable immigrants
FORTY-five asylum seekers who doctors declared were in need of urgent medical care are in a four-star, city hotel costing Australian taxpayers more than $410,000 a week. Most of the asylum seekers, sent from Nauru and PNG under Labor's Medevac laws for medical treatment, never went to hospital.
Some have refused care, even though a makeshift GP clinic has been set up especially for them in the hotel. The bill for those at Melbourne's Mantra Bell City can be exclusively revealed by The Courier-Mail, but the cost would be dwarfed for all of the 184 Medevaced asylum seekers who are in Australia.
The weekly cost breakdown includes $40,000 for accommodation, including three prepared meals a day, $280,000 for 24/7 security onsite, and $90,000 for transporting them to an immigration centre for an hour's exercise.
They can also use the hotel's gym. The GP clinic provides their vaccinations, pathology tests, mental health support and general wellbeing.
The end cost for taxpayers is uncertain because under the laws there was no explicit ability to return them to Nauru, where they can apply for a 20-year visa or resettle in PNG. Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said while Medevac was repealed by the Federal Government, the cost of the policy was still being picked up by taxpayers.
The Medevac legislation was panned by security agencies, who warned those with security concerns would enter the country. "Most of these people never went to hospital," Mr Dutton said. "Many refused to have any scans and now it's costing us millionS of dollars a month.
'This is all .thanks to the Labor con that was Medevac. "it's money that we should be spending on pensioners and police, and instead Labor has locked us in to wasting millions of dollars."
The 184 asylum:seekers are scattered throughout the country and total cost of supporting them could not be ascertained yesterday.
From the Brisbane "Courier Mail of 21 Dec. 2019
The article by Sarah Hagi from Time magazine below is very well written. The author also tells us she is a black, Muslim woman. That conjures up to my mind a picture of a person who could not have written the article. To me the article sounds like something written by a highly literate white person and must therefore have been very extensively "polished up' by such a white person -- perhaps an editor at Time magazine.
My thinking in the matter is probably the very thing that enrages Ms Hagi. She hates people making derogatory asumptions about her. And she would call those assumptions "stereotypes". But what are stereotypes? It is a term with origins in the printing industry but as applied to people it is generally taken to mean inflexible and false generalizations about some group or other.
But stereotypes are in fact not like that. As far back as the 1930s psychologist Gordon Allport pointed out that stereotypes usually have a "kernel of truth". And my surveys of the psychological research literature (here and here) revealed that stereotypical beliefs are highly responsive to reality and to changes in reality. So when somebody expects a black to be inarticulate, it follows that low levels of articulateness among blacks are common
So that should be encouraging to all of us, but particularly to members of minority groups. It tells us that minority group members might have to wait a little longer to have their good qualities recognized but that people who really come to know you will fairly quickly come to a recognition of your good qualities.
It's not as good as being a member of a prestigious group such as white Anglo-Saxon Protestants (a group to which I belong) but life will always be unfair in handing out its rewards. So rather than grieve about belonging to a low prestige group it should be fairly comforting to know that in personal encounters you will be judged by how you personally really are rather than by some group to which you may belong.
If a critic persists in using negative expectations of a person after he should have seen clearly that such expectations are wrong, the fault lies with the inadequate personality of the critic. Normal people will not be like that. In popular parlance, the critic will be an "ignoramus" -- who will get his just deserts in due course.
Ms Hagi is clearly not as patient as that and sees the criticism and attacks on people who speak incautiously as justified and useful. Stereotypes are to her anathema. When people say "racist" things they are most usually expressing a stereotype and Ms Hagi enjoys seeing them punished for that. That there will still be general agreement with the stereotype she does not address. Critics may have succeeded in hurting an individual but the population as a whole will be unmoved. They may be more inclined to keep their mouths shut but their beliefs will not change.
If anything their beliefs may be strengthened. The recent revolt of the masses against Leftist hectoring seen in the electoral successes of Donald Trump and Boris Johnson may well be evidence of that -- and harbingers of many more such revolts to come.
So unlike Ms Hagi, I deplore attacks on speech. For the most part the speakers will not actually be ill-intentioned and if they are it is surely best to know in advance who the "enemy" is rather than have him creep up on you unawares.
Ms Hagi seems to see the current "cancel" culture as a good way for disadvantaged people and their advocates to hit back at those who devalue them -- but the prospects of that doing any good are remote. Christian forgiveness would be a much better option -- but is obviously more difficult.
If forgiveness is not an option, letting insults slide off you like water off a duck's back would be very calming. I have been called many things in my time and will probably get more of that in response to this essay but I have yet to be bothered by any of it. Resilience to verbal attacks and slights is the healthy way forward. The fact that Ms Hagi lives in politically correct Canada yet still finds much to upset her suggests that her resilience is minimal.
Her article is however helpful in setting out how harmful cancel culture has been to many individuals -- though she tries to downplay the harm. A major gap is that she does not address the way many people not ordinarily much in the public eye have been grievously hounded by the cancel culture warriors
So, in sum, continuing the attacks on ordinary people that cancel culture consists of will most likely just give you more Donald Trumps and Boris Johnsons. Is that what Ms Hagi wants?
“Has cancel culture gone too far?” The question felt impossible to ignore this year. Google it and you’ll see pages of op-eds, often concluding, yes, it has gone too far, and the Internet mob is out of control.
Cancel culture became so central to the discourse in 2019 that even President Obama weighed in. The idea is that if you do something that others deem problematic, you automatically lose all your currency. Your voice is silenced. You’re done. Those who condemn cancel culture usually imply that it’s unfair and indiscriminate.
The problem with this perspective is cancel culture isn’t real, at least not in the way people believe it is. Instead, it’s turned into a catch-all for when people in power face consequences for their actions or receive any type of criticism, something that they’re not used to.
I’m a black, Muslim woman, and because of social media, marginalized people like myself can express ourselves in a way that was not possible before. That means racist, sexist, and bigoted behavior or remarks don’t fly like they used to. This applies to not only wealthy people or industry leaders but anyone whose privilege has historically shielded them from public scrutiny. Because they can’t handle this cultural shift, they rely on phrases like “cancel culture” to delegitimize the criticism.
Since the #Metoo hashtag went viral in 2017, more women have spoken out about their experiences with sexual harassment and assault.
While many people have applauded this movement, some men now say they fear even casual interactions with women will get them canceled.
Only that’s not what’s happening. While some powerful men may not have the status they once did, they have hardly been canceled. Louis CK admitted to masturbating in front of female comedians. He was dropped by his agency, and HBO and Netflix cut ties with him, but he recently sold out five shows in my home city of Toronto. Harvey Weinstein—who has been accused of sexual misconduct by more than 80 women (he has denied the allegations) and charged with predatory sexual assault, a criminal sexual act and rape (he has pleaded not guilty)—lost his job, but when he showed up at a young artists’ event in October, a comedian who called him out in her set was booed and two women who confronted him were asked to leave. When political journalist Mark Halperin, who denied allegations of unwanted sexual contact but acknowledged that his “behavior was inappropriate and caused others pain,” faced pushback over a new book, his publisher spoke to the New York Post decrying “this guilty-until-proven-innocent cancel culture where everyone is condemned to death or to a lifetime of unemployment based on an accusation that’s 12 years old.” That criticism is being compared to death tells you a lot about some of the people arguing that cancel culture has run amok.
In September, comedian Shane Gillis was fired from Saturday Night Live after videos of him making racist jokes surfaced. Comedian Bill Burr condemned the firing saying, “You f-cking millennials, you’re a bunch of rats, all of you,” and “None of them care, all they want to do is get people in trouble.” But having a job at SNL isn’t a human right. And although Gillis’ defenders have fretted about the sanctity of free speech in comedy, the audience of a comedic TV show should get to speak out about whether they want to watch someone who has espoused this type of humor. That’s actually the marketplace at work. Why should Gillis be able to utter racist things but those affected by hate speech shut their mouths? Gillis is still a touring comedian. He will be fine.
Although use of the term spiked this year, the idea of cancel culture has been bubbling for a while. In 2016, Kim Kardashian shared clips revealing that despite Taylor Swift’s claim that Kanye West didn’t warn her about a provocative lyric, he actually did give her a heads-up and she thanked him. Swift said she was “falsely painted as a liar.”
But soon #Taylorswiftiscanceled was trending.
“When you say someone is canceled, it’s not a TV show. It’s a human being,” Swift told Vogue this summer. “You’re sending mass amounts of messaging to this person to either shut up, disappear, or it could also be perceived as, kill yourself.” There aren’t many people who can understand what Swift went through. To have so many people turn on you is surely upsetting. But how exactly was she canceled? Though many people believed that this white woman had disingenuously portrayed herself as a victim of a black bully and made clear that they didn’t find that acceptable, Swift has remained one of the highest-paid celebrities in the world.
The conversation reached a new level in October when Obama expressed concern about the way people are called out on social media. “This idea of purity and you’re never compromised and you’re always politically woke and all that stuff, you should get over that quickly,” he said at a summit. He didn’t use the term, but the assumption was he was condemning cancel culture.
Now I am certain Obama wasn’t talking about Louis CK in his call for us to be less judgmental. He was pointing out that people are complicated and make mistakes, though I’m not convinced they are being written offin the way he thinks. It should also go without saying that Swift’s perceived offense should not be lumped in with Weinstein’s alleged crimes. But that’s another problem with the conversation about cancel culture. It oversimplifies. The term is used in so many contexts that it’s rendered meaningless and precludes a nuanced discussion of the specific harm done and how those who did it should be held accountable.
Rather than panicking that someone might be asked to take a seat, we would all do well to consider the people who are actually sidelined: those who lose professional opportunities because of toxic workplaces, who spend years dealing with trauma caused by others’ actions, who are made to feel unsafe.
I write frequently about racism and Islamophobia and have received more death threats, calls for my firing and racist insults than I can keep track of. But when people who believe cancel culture is a problem speak out about its supposed silencing effect, I know they’re not talking about those attacks. When they throw around terms like “cancel culture” to silence me instead of reckoning with the reasons I might find certain actions or jokes dehumanizing, I’m led to one conclusion: they’d prefer I was powerless against my own oppression.
Diet Coke linked to ’weight gain’, according to new Australian research
God! I get sick of reading this repeated stupidity. Any Statistics 101 course will tell you that correlation is not causation.
So: Who are the fattest?
So who are least likely to be restrained eaters?
Who therefore are under most pressure to lose weight?
So who drink most lo-cal stuff?
So who are the people most likely to gain weight while drinking lo-cal stuff?
So the findings below are nothing mystical or surprising. The findings simply reflect what the poor do. All the high-flown theories they put forward below are completely superfluous as an explanation of the findings. Drinking lo-cal drinks WON'T make you fat. It's mostly fat people who drink lo-cal drinks
People who choose diet versions of their favourite soft drink over full-sugar varieties may end up gaining weight, say doctors.
The warning comes after researchers from the University of South Australia found that people who consumed low calorie sweeteners (LCS) didn’t reduce their overall sugar intake.
The study, published in the journal Current Atherosclerosis Reports, also found consuming the sweetners could be contributing to type 2 diabetes.
Professor Peter Clifton, who led the research, said: “There has been a 200 per cent increase in LCS usage among children and a 54 per cent increase among adults in the past 20 years.”
His team reviewed previous research and came across a US study of 5158 adults over a seven-year period.
It showed that those who consumed large quantities of artificial sweeteners gained more weight than the non-users.
Prof Clifton said: “Consumers of artificial sweeteners do not reduce their overall intake of sugar.
“They use both sugar and low-calorie sweeteners and may psychologically feel they can indulge in their favourite foods.
“Artificial sweeteners can also change the gut bacteria, which may lead to weight gain and risk of type 2 diabetes.”
Low calorie sweeteners are used in place of sucrose, glucose and fructose and have an intense sweet flavour without the calories.
Artificially sweetened beverages (ASB) are also linked with increased risks of death and cardiovascular disease and strokes and dementia among older people, but it is not clear why.
Prof Clifton cited 13 studies that investigated the effects of ASB intake on the risk of type 2 diabetes – all of which found either no link or a positive one.
One study found that substituting ASB for sugar-sweetened beverages or fruit juices was associated with a 5 to 7 per cent lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
He said: “A better option than low-calorie sweeteners is to stick to a healthy diet, which includes plenty of whole grains, dairy, seafood, legumes, vegetables and fruits and plain water.”
Previous studies have also found links between calorie-free drinks such as Diet Coke and weight gain.
Scientists at Massachusetts General Hospital have found the breakdown product in the drink’s sweetener – aspartame – disrupts the metabolic rate.
Dr Richard Hodin, the study’s senior author, said: “Sugar substitutes like aspartame are designed to promote weight loss and decrease the incidence of metabolic syndrome.
Is Boris Johnson a conservative?
Peter Hitchens below puts the "No" case rather succinctly. I think an even more succinct reponse to Peter is to say that Boris is a BRITISH conservative. The British Tory party has always been a bit wishy washy by strict conservative standards but that is inevitable in a system where the winning party almost always has to be pretty centrist. It was precisely that Jeremy Corbin made to effort to win the centre that he lost so soundly to Boris. His nauseous antisemitism, love of terrorists and promises of an economic upheaval were just not British.
But the global warming craze is a dominant theme in the media with few prominent people opposing it so that is part of the political centre. Few conservatives believe in it but at election time it would be too big a burden to gainsay it. What conservatives do is pay lip service to it while doing as little as possible about it. Politicians generally do the same -- something Ms Thunberg has yet to fully grasp. So Boris will do the same -- quietly scale back climate-related initiatives and waffling as he does so. Australia's Prime minister, Scott Morrison, is a past-master at that. It may be noted that the latest "Conference of the Parties" has just wrapped up in Madrid with zero agreement from anyone to do anything more about global warming. The British representatives were part of that.
And Tories as a centre-right party is in fact historically common in Britain. One could mention socialist policies favoured by Winston Churchill and his general acceptance of Attlee's innovations but it is clearly to Disraeli that Boris harks back.
Disraeli is generally acknowledged as an outstandingly successful Prime minister at the height of the British Empire in the late 19th century. Yet it was Disraeli, not any Leftist, who introduced a whole raft of social welfare legislation to Britain. He introduced some of Britain's first worker protection laws and extended the vote to many working class people who had never had it before. As a result of these social reforms Leftist MP Alexander Macdonald told his constituents in 1879, "The Conservative party have done more for the working classes in five years than the Liberals have in fifty."
So Disraeli married conservative caution, respect for tradition and respect for the individual to policies that are more typically advocated by Leftists. It was a brilliant piece of centrism that kept him in power and enabled him to preside over a peaceful and immensely influential Britain. He kept the revolutionaries and other wreckers out of power and saved the best of British traditions. He called his policies "One Nation Conservatism" and Boris to has adopted both the term and a modern version of the policies concerned. He will keep the wreckers out of power if that is all he does -- but just that is immensely beneficial. He will be very good for Britain. American conservatives know how poisonous their present Left is. It was, if anything, worse in Britain
Just look at Al ‘Boris’ Johnson’s victory speech on Friday morning. Anthony Blair or Gordon Brown could have made it. There’s a red-green pledge of ‘carbon-neutrality’ by 2050. This means pointlessly strangling the economy by destroying efficient power generation, while making you pay for windmills through higher gas and electricity bills. Meanwhile, China sensibly continues to depend on cheap, reliable coal.
There’s a promise of ‘colossal new investments in infrastructure’. This means huge, inefficient projects such as HS2, which do no good, cost billions and hugely overrun their budgets and timetables – again at your expense.
There’s a promise of a ‘long-term NHS budget enshrined in law, 650 million pounds extra every week’. This is a crude submission to the lobby that imagines that the only thing wrong with the NHS is its budget. In truth, we could spend every penny the country has on it and it still would not work as it is supposed to.
And there’s the usual thoughtless, ignorant rubbish about police numbers. Please. The problem with the police is not how many of them there are. It is the fact that they spend their time doing the wrong things, and refuse to return to the simple, solitary foot patrol, which is the reason for their existence.
What did you think it meant when Mr Johnson appeared standing in front of a backdrop inscribed with the words ‘The People’s Government’, a phrase that could have been concocted by Blair’s mental valet, Alastair Campbell?
What did it mean when he then said: ‘In winning this Election we have won the votes and the trust of people who have never voted Conservative before and people who have always voted for other parties. Those people want change. We cannot, must not, must not, let them down. And in delivering change we must change too. We must recognise the incredible reality that we now speak as a one-nation Conservative Party literally for everyone from Woking to Workington.’
More naive Leftist research
The authors quoted below enter the wise caveat that "The findings can’t prove that banning Large Capacity Magazines reduces mass shootings and deaths". Yet many people quoting the findings will ignore that caveat and write as if banning Large Capacity Magazines DOES reduce mass shootings and deaths. So I think I should expand on what lies behind the caveat.
Basically, the study repeats an error that occurs with nauseous frequency in epidemiological research -- despite the fact that the report below appeared in a prestigious medical journal.
The failure was that the authors did not ask WHY people fell into the category being studied. In this case they did not ask WHY some states ban LCGs and some don't. America has frequent gun-based massacres so there is always vigorous agitation to restrict gun ownership and use in some way. And restricting magazine size is a popular policy of that ilk.
So the key question is WHY the anti-gun agitation gets results in some states and not in others. To understand that we have to look at how gun restrictions are viewed. And I don't think it is drawing too long a bow to suggest that a key variable in that is how dangerous it is perceived to be to be unarmed. If gun attacks are perceived as highly likely, gun use is going to be much more extensively protected than in places where the threat of violent incursions is seen as low.
So in some states we expect to see a high threat to the citizen from illegal gun users and resultant loose gun laws to enable the citizen to defend himself. And where the gun laws are loose, access to LCGs is unlikely to be restricted. So LCGs are more likely to be found and used in high crime areas. And that, roughly, is what the research found.
As a psychologist I feel a need to add that how dangerous an area is and how dangerous it is perceived to be may not be perfectly aligned. A major factor is the politics of the area. Leftists seem to walk around for most of their lives in a mental world that is well divorced from reality. So in areas where they predominate, areas may be seen as much safer than they are
So the causal arrow may point to the dangerous area as being the cause of the excess deaths rather than which magazine is used
Large-Capacity Magazine Bans Linked With Fewer Mass Shootings, Deaths
In a recent study, US states without large-capacity magazine (LCM) bans had more high-fatality mass shootings and higher death rates during these assaults. The findings, recently detailed in the American Journal of Public Health, could support banning these efficient ammunition-feeding devices.
Military-style “assault weapons” get a lot of attention from policy makers and the public, but most high-fatality mass shootings are perpetrated with semiautomatic handguns. Large-capacity magazines arm all types of semiautomatic firearms, not just assault weapons, so banning the devices could have a greater effect on such incidents, the study authors said.
Proposals to restrict LCMs are being considered to combat gun violence. However, there isn’t a lot of evidence on the effects of LCM bans.
The researchers analyzed associations between high-fatality mass shootings and state and federal LCM bans starting in 1990—when the first state (New Jersey) began restricting LCM ownership—through 2017. During that time, 8 additional states and Washington, DC, enacted bans. The time frame also included the now-expired 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban that for a decade made it illegal to produce, sell, transfer, or own new LCMs.
The researchers looked at the state and federal bans both together and separately. Based on the federal rule, they defined LCMs as magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. They considered high-fatality mass shootings those with 6 or more deaths not including the shooter. To account for other differences among states, they controlled for 10 variables, including population density, education, unemployment rate, and a proxy for percentage of households with firearms.
What We’ve Learned
There were 69 high-fatality mass shootings during the study period. Forty-four of them involved LCMs and 16 didn’t. The researchers couldn’t determine if LCMs were involved in the remaining 9 shootings.
The attacks were more common in states without LCM bans. Forty-nine occurred in such states, whereas just 20 happened in states with bans.
More people died in shootings that involved LCMs: 11.8 on average, compared with 7.3 in attacks without the magazines. Nonban states also saw more deaths on average per attack: 10.9, compared with 8.2 in states with bans.
The percentage of shooters who used LCMs was 81% in states without bans but only 55% in states with bans.
Only 12 of the shootings and 89 of the deaths occurred during the 10-year federal ban. But over the following 13 years, there were 48 such shootings and 527 deaths.
The first full year after the federal ban expired, 8 high-fatality mass shootings occurred in states with LCM bans, while 39 happened in those without them.
There wasn’t information about LCMs for 13% of the incidents.
The researchers acknowledged that the magnitude of the associations may have been overestimated because of the (relatively) small number of shootings that met the study’s criteria for high-fatality mass shootings.
Knowing which mass shootings with fewer than 6 deaths involved LCMs would have been valuable, but most of these data either are not documented or are not readily available, the researchers told JAMA.
What the Researchers Say
The findings can’t prove that banning LCMs reduces mass shootings and deaths, but the main conclusions didn’t change when other explanatory variables were factored in. This indicates that “differences across states in these dimensions were not the reason for the strong association between LCM bans and lower rates of high-fatality mass shooting deaths,” said the study’s senior author, David Hemenway, PhD, of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston.
According to Hemenway, LCMs allow the shooter to fire more shots without reloading—and reloading gives time for someone to intervene and for potential victims to get out of harm’s way. Possibly for this reason, states that have enacted LCM bans have had fewer high-fatality mass shooting incidents, fewer victims killed per incident, and far fewer high-fatality mass shooting fatalities per capita.
“Overall, the theory behind reducing the availability of LCMs to reduce the number of victims in mass shootings makes sense, and our empirical results suggest that LCM bans have saved lives,” he said.
However, the authors pointed out that the bans don’t immediately eliminate all LCMs. Some are grandfathered in, while others are illegally imported from places where they’re still legal.
JAMA. Published online December 18, 2019. doi:https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2019.20457
Conservatism and The Problem of Nationalism
Kim R. Holmes -- the Executive Vice President at The Heritage Foundation -- makes a long and impassioned argument below against nationalism among conservatives. It is of course Trump who is really in his sights.
And he has something to explain: Is "American exceptionalism" a form of nationalism? He offers a fairly good reply to that
As ever, however, the Devil is in the details. What do we mean by nationalism? Nationalism undoubtedly has a very bad track record in Europe. Holmes sets that out well. But is American nationalism different? Because of its historical associations I agree with Holmes by rarely making use of the word. But when I do, I am always mindful of Orwell's clarifying comment on the matter from the 1940s:
By ‘patriotism’ I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseparable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality.
Whatever he calls it from time to time, I think Trump clearly speaks in favour of what Orwell called patriotism rather than nationalism. Far from wanting power outside America, Trump is a traditional American conservative who wants OUT of the rest of the world and he is doing that withdrawal as well as he can, attracting considerable criticism while doing so.
So Trump is actually validating the distinction Orwell made. His patriotism is so different from nationalism that it could almost be called anti-nationalism. So any idea that American conservatives -- who are now almost all Trump supporters - are in the grip of anything like European nationalism is precisely wrong. Holmes need not worry. Patriotic Americans are ever-ready to help people of other nations but they don't want to control them
And Orwell's comment about the individual submerging himself in nationalism should be noted. Could people as individualistic as Americans ever do that? Not many, I fancy.
There WAS an era when America WAS nationalist but that was around a century ago under the leadership of that great "Progressive", Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt did at least ride his own horse into battle against the Spanish in America's conquest of Cuba but that is about all you can say by way of praising him
At first glance, the new nationalism of conservatives will seem benign and even uncontroversial. In his book, “The Case for Nationalism,” Rich Lowry defines nationalism as flowing from a people’s "natural devotion to their home and to their country." Yoram Hazony, in his book “The Virtue of Nationalism,” also has a rather anodyne definition of nationalism. It means "that the world is governed best when nations agree to cultivate their own traditions, free from interference by other nations."
There is nothing particularly controversial at all about these statements. Defined in these terms, it sounds like little more than simply defending nationality or national sovereignty, which is why Lowry, Hazony, and others insist their definition of nationalism has nothing to do with the most virulent forms involving ethnicity, race, militarism, or fascism.
Here's the problem. I suppose any of us can take any tradition that has a definite history and simply redefine it to our liking. We could then give ourselves permission to castigate anyone who doesn't agree with us as "misunderstanding" or even libeling us.
But who actually is responsible for the misunderstanding here? The people who are trying to redefine the term, or the people who remind us of nationalism's real history and what nationalism actually has been in history? Which raises an even bigger question: Why go down this road at all?
If you have to spend half of your time explaining, "Oh, I don't mean that kind of nationalism," why would you want to associate a venerable tradition of American civic patriotism, national pride, and American exceptionalism at all with the various nationalisms that have occurred in the world? After all, American conservatives have argued that one of the great things about America was that it was different from all other countries. Different from all other nationalisms.
Here's my point. Nationalism is not the same thing as national identity. It's not the same thing as respect for national sovereignty. It's not even the same thing as national pride. It's something historically and philosophically different, and those differences are not merely semantic, technical or the preoccupations of academic historians. In fact, they go to the very essence of what it means to be an American.
I think I understand why some people will be attracted to the concept of nationalism. President Trump used the term nationalism. National conservatives think that President Trump has tapped into a new populism for conservatism, and they want to take advantage of it. They think that traditional fusionist conservatism and the American exceptionalism idea are not strong enough. These ideas are not muscular enough. They want something stronger to stand up to the universal claims of globalism and progressivism that they believe are anti-American. They also want something stronger to push back on open borders and limitless immigration.
I understand that. I understand very well the desire to have a muscular reaction to the overreach of international governance and globalism, and I have no trouble at all arguing that an international system based on nation-states and national sovereignty is vastly superior, especially for the United States, to one that is run by a global governing body that is democratically remote from the people.
So what's the problem then? Why can't we just all agree that nationalism defined in this way is what we American conservatives have been and believed all along—that it's just a new, more fashionable bottle for a very old wine? Well, because the new bottle changes the way that the wine will be viewed. Why do we need a new bottle at all? It would be like putting a perfectly good California cabernet in a bottle labeled from Germany or France or Russia or China.
The problem lies in that little suffix, “ism.” It indicates that the word nationalism means a general practice, system, philosophy or ideology that is true for all. There is a tradition of nationalism out there that we Americans are part of. All countries have “nationalisms.” All nations and all peoples are all distinguished by what makes them different. Their common heritage as nationalists is actually their difference. Their different languages, their different ethnicities, their different cultures.
At the same time, all nations supposedly share the same sovereignty and rights of the nation-state, regardless of their form of government. A sovereign democratic nation-state is, in this respect, no different than a sovereign authoritarian nation-state. Regardless of the different kinds of government, it's the commonality of the nation-state that matters. Therefore, the sovereignty of Iran or North Korea is, by this way of thinking, morally and legally no different than the sovereignty of the United States or any other democratic nation.
I firmly believe that not all nation-states are the same. There have been times in history when nations have been associated with racism, ethnic supremacy, militarism, communism, and fascism. Does that mean that all nation-states are that way? Of course not, but there is a huge difference between the historical phenomena of nationalism and respect for the sovereignty of a democratic nation-state. Nationalism celebrates cultural and even ethnic differences of a people, regardless of the form of government. The democratic nation-state, on the other hand, grounds its legitimacy and its sovereignty in democratic governance.
The biggest problem causing this misunderstanding is not recognizing the actual history of nationalism. It is, as I mentioned before, to confuse national identity, national consciousness, and national sovereignty with Nationalism with a capital N.
Nationalism as we historically know it arose not in America but in Europe. Our independence movement was a revolt of the people over the type of government that we had under the British. The founders at first thought of themselves as Englishmen, who were being denied their rights by Parliament and by the crown. Yes, Americans certainly had an identity, but it was not based on ethnicity, language, or even religion alone. It had already developed a very distinct understanding of self-government, and that was the key to the Revolution.
By this time, Americans already had a fairly strong sense of identity, but that identity was not nationalism. Why is that? Because nationalism had not been invented yet. It didn't exist at the time of the American Revolution.
Modern nationalism began in France, in the French Revolution. The revolution was a call to arms of the French people. The French nation was born in the French Revolution. The terror and Napoleonic imperialism were the highest expression of this new-born French nationalism.
Revolutionary French nationalism
Napoleon's nationalist imperialism, in turn, sparked the rise of counter-reactionary nationalism in Germany, and all over Europe. Germans, Russians, Austrians, and other nations discovered their own national consciousness and the importance of their own cultures in their hatred of the French invaders.
After that, nationalism raged across the 19th and 20th centuries as a celebration of nations based on the common national culture and a common language and a common historical experience. Nationalism was, in this sense, particularistic. It was populistic. It was exclusive. It was zero- sum. It celebrated differences, not the common humanity of Christianity as it had been known in the Holy Roman Empire or the Catholic Church or even in the Enlightenment.
The key to nationalism was the nation-state. Technically, it wasn't the people themselves who were free or sovereign as the people, but the people represented by and in the name of the nation-state. In other words, their governments. Sovereignty ultimately resided in the state, not the people. The state was above the people, not of, by, and for the people as in the American experience. To this day, this idea lives in the British monarchy, for example, where the Queen is the ultimate sovereign, not the people or the Parliament.
It is unfortunately a common historical error to equate nationalism with the historical rise of the nation-state in Europe and the international state system that arose after the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. The Westphalian Peace did recognize the sovereignty of princes, over and against the universal claims of the Holy Roman Empire and the Church, and it's true that the Protestant Reformation did solidify the sovereignty of the princes and the principalities as forerunners to the nation-state.
But these were princes. They were monarchies. They were dynasties. It wasn't until much later that the modern nation-state and especially the popular sentiments of nationalism arose in history. Whatever this state system was, it is not nationalism. Nationalism is an historic phenomena that did not emerge for another 150 years after 1648. Claiming otherwise is just bad history, pure and simple.
That brings me to the idea of American exceptionalism, which is, I believe, the answer to the question of America's national identity and what it should be.
It's a beautiful concept that captures both the reality and the ambiguity of the American experience. It's based on a universal creed. It is grounded in America's founding principles: natural law, liberty, limited government, individual rights, the checks and balances of government, popular sovereignty not the sovereignty of the folkish nation-state, the civilizing role of religion in civil society and not an established religion associated with one class or one creed, and the crucial role of civil society and civil institutions in grounding and mediating our democracy and our freedom..
We as Americans believe these principles are right and true for all peoples and not just for us. That was the way that Washington and Jefferson understood them, and it was certainly the way that Lincoln understood them. That's what makes them universal. In other words, the American creed grounds us in universal principles.
But what, you may ask, makes us so exceptional then? If it's universal, what makes us exceptional? It is, in fact, the creed.
We believe that Americans are different because our creed is both universal and exceptional at the same time. We are exceptional in the unique way we apply our universal principles. It doesn't necessarily mean that we are better than other peoples, though I think probably most Americans do believe that they are. It's not really about bragging rights. Rather, it's a statement of historical fact that there is something truly different and unique about the United States, which becomes lost when talking in terms of nationalism.
A nationalist cannot say this, because there is nothing universal about nationalism except that all nationalisms are, well, different and particularistic. Nationalism is devoid of a common idea or principle of government except that a people or a nation-state can be almost anything. It can be fascist, it can be authoritarian, it can be totalitarian, or it can be democratic.
Some of the new nationalists doubt explicitly the importance of the American creed. They argue that the creed is not as important as we thought it was to our national identity. Let's just think about that for a minute.
What does it mean to say that the creed really isn't all that important? If the creed doesn't matter, what is so special about America?
Is it our language? Well, no. We share that with Britain, and now much of the world.
Is it our ethnicity? Well, that doesn't work either because there's no such thing as a common American ethnicity.
Is it a specific religion? We are indeed a religious country, but no, we have freedom of religion, not one specific religion.
Is it our beautiful rivers and mountains? No. We've got some beautiful rivers and mountains, but so do other countries.
Is it our culture? Yes, I suppose so, but how do you understand American culture without the American creed and the founding principles?
Lincoln called America the world's “last best hope,” because it was a place where all people can and should be free. Before Lincoln, Jefferson called it an empire of liberty.
Immigrants came here and became true Americans by living the American creed and the American dream. You can become a French citizen, but for most Frenchmen, if you are foreign, that is not the same thing as being French. It's different here. You can be a real American by adopting our creed and our way of life.
After World War II, the American way and our devotion to democracy became a beacon of freedom for the whole world. That was the foundation of our claim to world leadership in the Cold War, and it is no different today. If we become a nation just like any other nation, then frankly I would not expect any other nation to grant us any special trust or support.
Another benefit of American exceptionalism is that it is self-correcting. When we fail to live up to our ideals as we did with slavery before the Civil War, we can appeal as Lincoln did to our “better nature” to correct our flaws. That is where the central importance of the creed comes in. Applying the principles of the Declaration of Independence correctly has allowed us to redeem ourselves and our history when we have gone astray.
There is no American identity without the American creed. However, the nationalists are correct about one thing, in suggesting that the American identity is more than just about a set of ideas. These ideas are lived in our culture—that is true. It is also true, as Lincoln said about his famous “mystic chords of memory,” that our common experience and our common history form a unique story. It is a story that embodies the very real lives and relationships of people and a shared cultural experience in a shared space and time in history that we call the United States.
The sharing of experience in space and time - in and of itself - is not unlike what any other nation experiences. At the most basic level, yes, I would say that all nations are in that respect alike. But what made it different for Lincoln was that he believed and he hoped that the “better angels of our nature,” that was grounded in the American creed, would touch the mystic chords of memory that make up that story—and it was that “touch” that set us apart from other nations.
Let me end by making two points.
One, the degree to which national conservatism sounds plausible rests on a profound historical misunderstanding. Statements in and of themselves that sound true and even attractive have to be suspended in a state of historical amnesia to make sense.
When Hazony says, "National cohesion is the secret ingredient that allows free institutions to exist," it makes an almost obvious banal point, as least for the countries that are already free. The problem begins when he associates this with the general tradition of the virtues of nationalism as a concept. Then it gets really messy.
Is national cohesion the secret ingredient to free institutions to nationalists in Russia? In China? Or in Iran? Hardly. In fact, nationalism in these countries is the bitter enemy of free institutions. If the answer is, "Well, I don't mean that kind of nationalism," then the question gets really begged: Why make broad general statements about nationalism at all if the exceptions loom so large? If in fact the exceptions end up being the rule?
My second point is this. If this were just an academic debate over the idea of nationalism, then I suppose it really wouldn't be all that important. You could let the intellectuals split their hairs and historians make their points about the history of nationalism, and you could go and see whether or not the concept of nationalism really helps us politically—whether it's true or not.
I fear the problem is bigger than that for conservatives. The conservative movement today faces huge threats to our most basic principles. From the left, we face progressives who have always said that our creed and our claims to American exceptionalism were a fraud. They have always argued that we were a nation like any other. In fact, the more radical of them argue that we are actually worse than other nations precisely because our founding principles were supposedly based on lies.
Now, we face a new challenge on the sanctity of the American creed from a different direction. This time, from the right. It comes first from blurring the distinctions between nationalism as actually practiced and the uniqueness of American exceptionalism. Then it goes on to raise the specter of the nation-state as being an idea—if not the central idea—to American conservatism. That’s no different than what a continental European conservative probably would say about their traditions.
Frankly, I don't get this at all. American conservatives are skeptical of the government. They're skeptical of the nation-state. That's what makes us conservatives. So why elevate the concept of the nation-state that is so foreign to the American conservative tradition?
I fear the answer may have to do with the deeper philosophical transformation that is going on inside some conservative political circles. It is now becoming fashionable for some conservatives to criticize capitalism and the free market. Some are even arguing that there are now no limiting principles to what the state and the government can or should do in the name of their political agenda.
This used to be called “big government” conservatism. It was seen then as a liberal proposition, and it still is, in my view. It shares a troubling principle with modern progressivism. Deep down, having the government rather than the people make important decisions about their lives is, in principle, no different than a progressive arguing for the need for government to end poverty and eliminate inequality.
Apparently the idea is that, with conservatives in charge of government, this time it will be different. This time we will make sure that the government that we control will drive investments in the right direction, and we will make the right decisions on what the trade-offs are.
Does this sound familiar? Don't defenders of big government always argue that this time it will be different?
Put aside for a moment whether we conservatives would ever control such a government to sufficiently do the things that we want it to do. Do we want to empower a government even more in industrial and other kinds of economic and social policy that will surely use that very increased power to destroy the things that we love and believe about this country?
The best way, in my opinion, to protect America's greatness, its special claims, its identity if you will, is to believe in what made us great in the first place. It wasn't our language. It wasn't our race. It wasn't our ethnicity. It wasn't our industrial policy. It wasn't the power of government to decide what the trade-offs are. It wasn't in a government that decides what kind of work is dignified or what kind of work is not. And it certainly wasn't a belief in the nation-state or the greatness of nationalism.
It was our creed and the belief system that was personified and lived in a culture, our institutions of civil societies and our democratic way of government that made America the greatest nation in the history of all nations. In a word, it was our belief in ourselves as a good and free people. That's what made American exceptional. That's what made us a free country. And it continues to do so today.
Some forms of hormone replacement therapy can LOWER breast cancer risk, research indicates
This is not a new finding but it is encouraging to see it replicated. For women with an intact womb there is no doubt that estrogen-only pills do increse womb (endometrial) cancer -- which tends to counteract their benefit for breast cancer. What you gain on the swings, you lose on the roundabouts.
Taking a combination pill containing progesterone plus estrogen does however reduce all risks greatly, though there still is an elevation of risks compared with women who take nothing. The elevation of risk is now however known to be very small so there is little reason for women not to take the combined pill.
Rather perversely, women who have had a hysterectomy are the big winners. They can get all the benefits of estrogen pills (reduced heart disease etc) without having to worry about womb cancer
Certain forms of HRT actually protect women against breast cancer, researchers have shown.
After years of back-and-forth debate on the risks of hormone replacement therapy, new analysis suggests the type of treatment women use has a huge impact on cancer risk.
Scientists have found that in women who took the combined oestrogen-progestogen form of HRT the risk was raised by about 26 per cent compared with those who took a dummy pill. The combined form is the type of HRT taken by most women.
But the oestrogen-only form reduces breast cancer incidence by 24 per cent.
The study, based on 27,300 women in the US who were tracked for about 19 years after they started taking the pills, alters scientists’ understanding of the link between HRT and cancer.
Crucially, however, women are not able to pick and choose which type of HRT they select.
Oestrogen HRT is only an option for those who have had a hysterectomy – an operation to remove the womb. That is because oestrogen is known to increase the risk of womb cancer, so only women without a womb can safely take it.
But 60,000 undergo a hysterectomy every year in Britain and by the age of 60 one in five women have had the procedure, so tens of thousands of women could benefit from taking the oestrogen only drug.
Researcher Dr Rowan Chlebowski, of the University of California Los Angeles: ‘In contrast to decades of observational study findings... oestrogen alone significantly reduced breast cancer incidence and significantly reduced deaths from breast cancer, with these favourable effects persisting over a decade after discontinuing use.’
The findings were presented yesterday at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium in Texas.
The menopause can cause depression, hot flushes, headaches and night sweats. HRT tackles these symptoms by providing hormones as the body stops producing them.
But many women go without the drugs because of fears it raises the risk of cancer of the breast, womb and ovaries.
The number taking HRT plummeted after studies published in the early 2000s raised fears of side effects, but in recent years research has suggested the risk may be overstated.
Dr Melanie Davies, consultant gynaecologist at University College London Hospitals, said: ‘This is high-quality research.’
But she added that the risk of taking the combined pill is now probably lower than that shown in the trial, because HRT has been improved to more closely match the hormones produced by the human body.
Greta Thunberg Is the Perfect Hero for an Unserious Time
One of my readers writes: "Greta Thunberg has become the Christ Child of the Environment Religion and is destined to be sacrificed on the cross of Global Warming"
I am slightly apologetic to mention it but the Time man of the year in 1938 was Adolf Hitler. Will Greta be as poorly regarded in decades to come? It's possible. Hitler was a Greenie too. And in future the Global Warmists of the present day may look like dangerous madmen
Who better than a finger-wagging teen bereft of accomplishment, or any comprehension of basic economics or history, to be Time magazine’s Person of the Year in 2019? Greta Thunberg’s canonization is a perfect expression of media activism in a deeply unserious time.
Has there ever been a less consequential person picked to be Person of the Year? I doubt it. I mean, Wallis Simpson, 1936’s Person of the Year, got King Edward VIII to abdicate the throne. Thunberg can’t even get you to abdicate your air-conditioning.
These days we celebrate vacuous fire and brimstone. “Greta Thunberg”—the idea, not the girl—is a concoction of activists who have increasingly taken to using children as a shield from critical analysis or debate. She’s the vessel of the environmentalist’s fraudulent apocalypticism-as-argument. Her style is emotion and indignation, histrionics and fantasy. She is a teenager, after all.
How dare you attack a poor defenseless child who suffers from Asperger syndrome!
You’ll notice that, on one hand, Thunberg’s champions demand that the world take her Malthusian crusade seriously, and on the other, they feign indignation when you actually do. The argument that young people, because they will inherit the future, are also best equipped to comprehend it is as puerile as any of Thunberg’s positions.
Perhaps a better question is this: What kind of parents, editors, producers, or U.N. officials would thrust a vulnerable child, with Asperger syndrome, no less, into a complex and contentious debate? I have great sympathy for her. It’s her ideological handlers who have stolen her childhood.
Surely, we should be allowed to consider the positions of Time magazine’s 2019 Person of the Year? Because the problem with Greta Thunberg—the idea, not the girl—is that she proposes not only that the people of her native Sweden abandon modernity but that billions of people in Asia and Africa remain in destitution. Thunberg, unlike many of her ideological allies, does not hide the truth of modern environmentalism. She believes that wealth and economic growth—modernity—are the problem.
Shamefully, radical environmentalists have convinced Thunberg and millions of others that the world is on the precipice of “mass extinction.” Even poor Prince Harry struggles to get out his Kensington Palace bed and start the day, so crushed is he by the weight of “eco-anxiety.” (You know, I have some ideas on how he might lower his carbon footprint.)
Like Joan of Arc, as Thunberg’s mother tells it, she experienced her first vision in her early teens, going months without eating properly. Thunberg, her heart rate and blood pressure indicating starvation, stopped talking to anyone but her parents and younger sister.
Rather than helping Thunberg overcome this irrational dread, her parents sacrificed her childhood to Gaia. Now, Thunberg is a child warrior, unrestrained by fact or reason, the human embodiment of years of fearmongering—in our schools, in culture, in our news—over progress, technology, and wealth.
Thunberg is merely repeating “unassailable science,” Time claims. “Oceans will rise. Cities will flood. Millions of people will suffer.” The unassailable truth is that climate deaths have plummeted dramatically and billions of people have been lifted from abject poverty by the system that Thunberg assails.
There is no “unassailable science” that tells us how the future looks: what technologies humans will devise, how they will adapt. One imagines a magazine such as Time, which once published pieces about now-discredited predictions of a “population bomb” and global cooling, might understand that the future is always more complicated than we imagine.
The reality is that Thunberg was bequeathed the healthiest, wealthiest, safest, and most peaceful world that humans have ever known. She is one of the luckiest people ever to have lived. And unlike most of her ancestors, she can continue to be a professional activist her entire life, thanks to market economies and emerging technological advances.
In a just world, she would be sailing her high-tech, multimillion-dollar, ocean-racing yacht and crew to the United Nations to thank the United States for helping to create this uniquely wonderful circumstance. In a just world, she would be in school with her friends and teachers.
It’s been years, of course, since Time, or the magazine’s Person of the Year, mattered very much. The truth, though, is that Time did an admirable job of mapping out consequential people of the 20th century. Looking back now, I see a list populated by the men and women, nefarious and heroic, who helped shape the modern world. Sadly, Time has come a long way from “The Hungarian Freedom Fighter,” its choice for Man of the Year in 1957.
If we Americans lived in a more serious time, the Hong Kong freedom fighter, the men and women who risk their lives for liberty, would be Time’s Person of the Year. We don’t.
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