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Today's BBC news broadcast left me with a despairing sense of the mentality and attitudes of pretty much everyone it touched. First, of course, there was the hysteria about climate change. Some of my friends will remember my view about this subject: that is that climate changes, because that's what it does, and mankind can no more affect it by reducing its energy consumption by a certain amount than it can stop a flood by waving a couple of bone sticks at it and chanting “hocus pocus”. There are still many excellent reasons to reduce pollution and waste, first of all the rescue of many environments (it breaks my heart every time I see my beautiful country scarred by worthless development and uncontrolled waste dumping), the environment and a reduction, hopefully an end, in the destruction of animal and plant species; but this idea of “the planet” as a whole, put into danger by vicious human activities and rescued by correct ritual performance, is nothing but a degraded religious idea. So did the Aztecs believe that the sun kept rising and falling because they sacrificed human beings to it.

In an age of fake religions, a true, if disastrous, religion, a philosophy of existence as I call it, has unconsciously emerged: a worship of “the planet” as a whole, as an entity worthy of sacrifice in itself. It's not exactly pantheism, for pantheism would involve the whole universe; it is a kind of cosmic nationalism that places all value and all moral demand within it. So, a hundred years ago, nationalists placed all kinds of value within the nation, and Italian Fascists used the word “Italian” to mean “morally good, excellent, and admirable”, an “Italian idea” being the same as a great and progressive idea. The Earth is now vested with this kind of idolatry; it is the new idol to whom those who deliberately deprived themselves of higher religions come and worshsip. Religion gets a very bad rap in our time, and to judge by the performance of these novel religionists, there is a reason. They have been deprived of any sense of religion as a life of the intellect by their educators' terror of “sectarianism” and “bias”, and they know noting about Plato, Thomas Aquinas, or Kierkegaard, or about the bond of religion and philosophy. (Horribly, polls tell us that the favourite philosophers of those English who know enough to tell the difference are Karl Marx and David Hume.) And having no notion that religion is something that stimulates thought and creates debate, they approach it as only the most benighted and bewildered fanatics ever approached their religion – as a mental fetish or idol, whose every word is command, never to be doubted, discussed, or confronted.

This attitude was evident in what was called the BBC's “report” on President Trump's decision to vacate the Paris Accords – a decision that was fully within his rights as the head of an independent state. It was no more reporting than a party manifesto is an objective account of the state of a country. It was a half-hysterical, half-triumphant, wholly uncritical list of all those heroes of earth-worship morality who had denounced Trump. Even the list of corporate charmers who had discovered their earth-worship morality in this time of drama was uncritically and triumphantly delivered, as though Disney, Facebook and Goldman Sachs were champions of the people and excellent teachers of morality. I am not saying that a large business may not be conducted with something like basic morality; but, apart from the record of the specific companies concerned, The fact that the whole class of international big business had set up this common howl shows that, at the very least, they feel themselves protected from whatever sacrifice may be asked of the common populace. Otherwise they would, at best, be silent, and at worst be howling against the accords. The eye of big business, from its Victorian rise to this day, has always been to the bottom line, and they have always been willing and ready to fight in every possible manner anything that would damage their dividends. What is more, it is likely from their behaviour that at least some of them think that earth-worship morality may further their interests. In other circumstances, such a coming together of huge and dangerous special interests would have drawn the unfavourable attention of journalists. Today they applaud it.

But even before I had stopped being overwhelmed – though hardly surprised – by the blatancy of the whole operation, I was struck as if with a wet, smelly fish in the face, by the absurdity and pettiness of Theresa May's government. May, mind you, is quite clearly an earth-worship religionist; and she has taken the personal step of phoning Trump to inform him of her “disappointment” - a strong step by any standard. And yet, even in this dramatic moment, she has not been willing to put her signature to a document signed by the governments of Germany, France and Italy, condemning Trump's decision and reasserting the Paris Accords. So much does it matter to her to establish her particularist, literally Little Englander credentials. At a moment when the European Union and China, rightly or wrongly, are about to issue a joint statement on the Paris Accord, to take the position that you support their position but will not collaborate with them is nothing short of pathetic.

And that had no sooner gone by, that the BBC had me yelling at the radio and arguing in favour of May. And again, it is on an issue on which I do not support her. She had said that she would be, and I quote, “working to achieve” the hoped-for reduction of the balance of immigration into Britain to the tens of thousands. The meaning of that must have been clear to every intelligent person who heard it; being that she would do whatever she could think of, she would “work” towards it, but would not promise – could not promise – she would achieve it. And yet the BBC claimed that one of her ministers had “contradicted” her when he said, exactly, that they could not make any promises on the matter. To such a pitch of idocy and blindness does the “gotcha” culture drive people. It is possible to understand how such things happen: the heated atmosphere of a press conference, the need to get a juicy soundbite, the approximate understanding that always occurs when people work with their voices and with their memories instead of starting from extensive records. What is tragic and ignoble is that such a gross failure of understanding should be preserved, surviving the editorial process, and be broadcast as “news” every hour on the hour. This is not only bad in itself: it is counter-educational, teaching people to miss obvious connections and to look for breaks even where they aren't there. It is literally contrary to what is supposed to be the BBC's primary educational mission. And it brings to a suitably crashing end these few minutes of folly, irrationality, and bad religion.
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I wonder whether anyone at the BBC has the least idea just how repulsively hypocritical, murderously hypocritical, they look, when at one and the same time they go all lyrical about the Paralympics and disabled achievement, and they promote the old eugenics lies of abortion and euthanasia? Isn't it great that those of the "differently able" whom we haven't managed to kill in the womb or in the hospital are now winning medals! What wonderful people we are!
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Egypt's Christian minority has been abused and victimized by two homicidal bodies. One is a closed, elitist, self-satisfied, utterly corrupt group of criminal power mongers, existing on the extorted protection money taken by force from the mass of the people, fond of murder but really driven by graft and status, and ultimately motivated by a savage underlying hatred of Christianity. The other is the Egyptian army.

Delirium

Sep. 21st, 2011 05:11 am
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President Karzai appointed a former President of Afghanistan to head peace negotiations with the Taliban. The Taliban sent a pretend negotiator - one of two; the other must have known what was going ot happen - who blew himself up along with the ex-President.

You would have thought this would give you an idea of what the Taliban think of peace. But not if you are a BBC "journalist". The wretch sent to Afghanistan concluded his report by wondering aloud what concessions could be offered to encourage the Taliban back to the negotiating table, and blaming the victim for being "a deeply divisive figure". The BBC needs a few dozen of its own people to be bloodily and publicly murdered: they seem to have forgotten the meaning of the act of murder.
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I have long noticed that certain aspects of the BBC's notoriously monolithic and change-resistant mind are not, as is universally assumed, "progressive" left, but profoundly and even viciously reactionary. One that has stuck in my craw for a long time is their reporting of union matters and strikes. Anyone who is suprised at the BBC's constantly negative and deliberately obtuse treatment of, say, Israel, either has not studied the way the BBC reports strikes at home, or is himself so savagely against the very principle of unionization and workers' solidarity as to believe that there is no device too vile to beat the unions with. Their approach to Israel and to British trades unions is one and the same, practically brand-marked. Whenever there is a strike, the BBC spends the least possible time, if it does at all, explaining the cause and setting out the union's reasons; most of its reports are always - this is something you can test, if you pay attention - taken up with bits of heavily edited street interviews with supposed members of the public who are supposed to have been incommodated by the strike. These are usually three - three members of the public, after all, make a proper sample for hundreds of thousands or tens of millions of people, just as thirty seconds are a sufficient time to express the whole range of their views. Very often the sample of three ends with someone who expresses the vilest and shabbiest of views, which can be summed up as: "Well, I have been screwed by my boss, so how dare they try not to be screwed by theirs?" If things go bad for Mr.Smith, it is an outrage that Mr.Jones should dare to fight to make them better for himself - and perhaps, in the long run, for Mr.Smith too. As I said, this is often the concluding volley in this profound televisual dive into the depths of the national spirit; and as such it has a concluding, even summing-up value. Since we all have it tough, it is wrong for unionized labour to try and improve matters for any reason.

The BBC treatment of a recent strike in the London Underground is a classic of its kind. A couple of union activists were sacked under various pretexts, and the unions called a strike. As a matter of fact, the strike was only a threat, and when it eventually took place, it was on the last legally possible day, and lasted, IIRC, from ten in the evening of one day till six in the morning of the next. Some terrible, damaging strike this was. Nonetheless, the BBC did not even try to be fair between the contending parties. That the men had been sacked, whatever the excuse, for being union activists, was fairly evident and was confirmed by the fact that the labour disputes court found for them; and everyone knows - or ought to know - that the sacking of union activists for being union activists is and has always been ground for striking the world over. Anyone who made the imaginative effort to try and understand the reasons of the union ought to have understood that; but the BBC would not, and would not allow its public to make the effort either. From the beginning to the end, the London public was spoon-fed anti-union propaganda, including the calls from some more than usually vile Tory backbencher for anti-union legislation even more severe than Margaret Thatcher already managed.

The unions at the BBC itself have been pretty well emasculated, and it might be said that the company has a good (or quite amazingly bad) internal reason to take this oppressive attitude. A couple of years ago it emerged that the BBC had not paid its share of workers' pension contributions for thirteen solid years, and that the kitty, as a direct result, was empty. The immense power of this corrupt corporation can be measured by the fact that not a single manager was so much as investigated by police or revenue investigators, and that every single one of those who had connived at this atrocious crime kept their own gilded and chromed pension arrangements. The employees? They struck, failed to make an impression, and had to swallow redundancies and massively worsened terms and conditions. One thing that must considered in this context is that, unlike normal corporations, the BBC knows exactly, at the beginning of each year, how much money it is going to "earn" - or rather squeeze from the public - through the so-called canon; and therefore there is no excuse for planning and accounting errors big enough to justify the continuous "contributions holiday" (yes, that is what it's called) that lasted thirteen years.

This, of course, gives the BBC a very good corporate reason to be anti-union in general; but I don't think it begins there. I think that the hate and contempt for the unions was there first, and that the resolution to swindle their own employees was a by-product. I think the BBC simply dislikes the idea of uppity proles. Not, of course, that it is against all unions and all union activity. There is a kind of union activity for which the BBC can never find enough time to report or enough positive overtones and that is what may be loosely defined as the area of political correctness. Every time a union takes any action that can be constructed as feminist, pro-abortion, pro-gays, pro-immigrant or secularist, however small and insignificant, the BBC reports with high approval. One of its favourite unions is the National Union of Teachers, which I refused to join when I was briefly a trainee because I could see from all its materials and rhetoric that it cared nothing for teachers' working conditions and plenty for PC in all its forms. Let us notice, then, that two important conclusions arise: being PC and "progressive" does not imply any sympathy for one's own domestic working classes and their representatives; and that the way to please the BBC (and its shadows in all the mass media) is to bash the one and glorify the other.

This article has been caused by a truly shocking instance, no earlier than this morning. The BBC led - led, mind you! - with a news item about "the culture of compensation" overrunning prisons. Its reporters sounded all shocked and disgusted that, in one year, the UK Prison Service had paid one and a half million pounds in compensations to prisoners who felt they had claims for accidents or mistreatment.

Now I don't expect BBC journalists to be able to count, but I do expect them to have access to a calculator. Mine says that one and a half million pounds, spread over eighty thousand prisoners in Britain's jails, means an average of eighteen pounds seventy-five pence per convict. This means that if one convict out of ten had reason to complain in the last year - hardly an excessive guess in a notoriously overcrowded and naturally brutal environment, and one where, at the same time, the inmates have regular access to lawyers - he might have scored the fantastic, life-changing lottery win sum of one hundred and eighty seven pounds fifty pence sterling. Truly the compensation culture run amock.

Let us try and suppose that, once a man is jailed, his health and welfare actually become the responsibility of those who are holding him. Let us try to imagine that these men - I mean the jailers - might represent the community; and that the community might even have some notion that the jail service, as a public service, in some way represents them, and that its standards reflect on them. What does this mean - that the BBC finds a yearly compensation budget of one and a half million pounds (less than a couple of its criminal but unjailed top managers cost the canon-payer!) a shocking thought? What does it mean, except than to propose that people once convicted - for whatever reason - should not be recognized any rights, and that if anything bad happens to them in jail, compensation ought to be denied? What does this mean except to declare that convicts cease to be members of the human race? And does this come well from a company whose top brass ought by rights to have been jailed for financial crimes years ago?

repulsive

Apr. 28th, 2011 01:24 pm
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Over a hundred people are killed by storms in the southern USA. (And my most heartfelt sympathy for my American friends, as well as hopes that none of you was personally affected.)

There is war in Libya and violence in Syria, and revolution and repression across the Arab world.

There are local elections across Britain, including the very sensitive area of North Ireland.

Several police-related scandals are on the boil. Not one, several.

Lionel Messi has scored one of the most beautiful goals in the history of soccer, and made his team European champions in a highly charged inter-Spanish duel in the process.

Just a few of the important news around today.

And the BBC dedicates FIFTEEN MINUTES to the PRELIMINARIES of tomorrow's wedding. Not to the wedding, to the PRELIMINARIES. Most of it apparently dedicated to crazy Americans sleeping rough in Westminster - which, in the circumstances, seems heartless as well as disgusting.
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The BBC thinks that the most important and interesting piece of news today is Naomi Campbell lying on oath at the International Criminal Court. Until now it had paid no attention whatever to the terrible litany of crimes for which the monstrous Charles Taylor is being tried. Is any comment necessary? And oh, they did not even hint that she was lying on oath, although she certainly was.
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1
Anyone who doubted Ehud Olmert's resolution to go on to the end - this time - or who hoped or feared a ceasefire in a few days, must have been corrected by the Israeli announcement that reservists have been recalled to arms. No country calls reservists to arms unless it envisages a long campaign.

2
Israel has so far had two unexpected allies - General Winter and Russia. While the pro-Hamas media tried to stir up the usual wave of worldwide condemnation, Europe as a whole was more concerned with the coldest winter in years and with Russian economic warfare via denial of gas supplies. This had several consequences. First, the usual headlines about Israeli atrocities have been swept off most front pages by stories about European cities freezing and missing Russian supplies. Second, as a result, the obviously co-ordinated round of worlwide demos against Israel drew rather fewer Europeans/Americans/locals than had been expected, and turned into almost entirely Muslim affairs, with a few particularly obstinate local extremists sticking to it. As a result, they have been of a violence, a viciousness, and an explicit Jew-bashing odiousness, that the West had forgotten, and have done the jihadi cause nothing but harm. Even the BBC had to broadcast news of a gang of thugs savaging the quiet Jewish London quarter of Golders Green (which I know well). Third, it reminded Europe in particular of the unpleasant nature of depending on an enemy for energy supplies, which is indirectly bad news for the oil monopolies.

3
The call for a ceasefire has been thoroughly mishandled. Its proponents obviously hoped that the Lebanon 2006 script would be followed, but they had neglected one crucial point: when the call for a ceasefire went up in 2006, it started from Hezbollah. Nasrallah and his people were more than willing to stop fighting. Even so, the ceasefire nearly failed - what nobody remembers was that, at the time, Sarkozy sabotaged it at the decisive moment by refusing to send French troops under UN flags to Lebanon, until the Italian prime minister Prodi offered Italian troops instead. Prodi is now out of power, and the current PM, Berlusconi, has absolutely no desire to offer any more jihadi rescue packages. The point is however that Hamas have shown no interest whatever in any kind of ceasefire. The effort at replaying 2006 were therefore doomed; Israel was able to say a firm no in its turn, and the USA were able to allow the Security Council resolution demanding a ceasefire to go through in the certainty that it would remain a dead letter. Indeed, the shameful collapse of the ceasefire resolution may well be of advantage to the USA, in that it diminishes further the UN's credibility and effectiveness.

4
The London branch of Hamas' outreach and public relations department - otherwise known as the BBC - never reports the numbers of Israeli losses, even though much of Hamas propaganda elsewhere hinges on the supposed "disproportion" between Israeli and Hamas losses. For this, I think, there is an excellent reason. The drip-drip-drip of small but steady losses would be too reminiscent to the British public of their own mission in Afghanistan, which most Britons support and which the BBC does not (yet?) dare openly attack. This is a mission against as vicious and uncivilized an enemy as Britain have faced in seventy years, and the BBC does not want to do anything that underlines that Israel in Gaza and Britain in Helmand are dealing with basically the same opponents, by the same means.
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1) Everyone who loves music and/or follows the BBC and/or lives in or has to do with Britain ought to sign this petition. If you don't, and the kind of attitude it denounces spreads or even survives, you will have yourselves to blame.
http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/youngmusician/index.html

2) Wemyss' new fic http://wemyss.livejournal.com/125758.html is excellent. It requires some knowledge of modern British history and is heavily tinged with the author's idiomatic, not to say idiosyncratic, politics, but it is one of those few ideas that are so good that I find myself wishing I had had them.
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And sniggering. A couple of days ago, a BBC TV show invited an expert on internet economics to discuss recent developments. Owing to some sort of mix-up, they showed into the studio, not the expert, but the cabbie who had driven him in. The cabbie had no idea what was going on, but, with years of experience on the road chatting to all sorts of customers, he acquitted himself quite well.

Morale no.1: what with the constant pressure on employees, the privatization, casualization, and increasingly temporary nature of jobs, professional skills are dying out and being replaced by a despair to get the product out no matter what.

Morale no.2: 50% of being an expert is, and has always been, a matter of being able to bullshit your way through a situation. Especially on TV.

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