fpb: (Athena of Pireus)
For me, personally, the final evidence of the guilt of British criminal Hanratty, of anarchist Nicola Sacco. and of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg - however different the circumstances - have been a personal shock. They are the undeniable proof that people can lie even in the face of death and eternity, that claims of innocence from the scaffold are no more reliable than from any other point. The case of Sacco's fellow-accused Bartolomeo Vanzetti seems even darker: he was probably himself innocent, but he knew that Sacco was guilty as Hell, and he deliberately died with a lie on his lips, for the sake of his imagined revolution. (And to add a further taste of futility to his false sacrifice, the historical fact is that the only party who benefited from his and Sacco's executions were the Communists, who had organized all the protests against their executions, and who were sworn enemies of Vanzetti's Anarchists and would have murdered him a good deal more nastily if he had ever fallen into their hands.) But perhaps the most significant of these is the lie of Hanratty, because that had nothing of the ideological justifications of Vanzetti and the Rosenbergs. Hanratty was not fighting for any "cause", however bad: he was a rapist and murderer with no ulterior motives. And he declared his innocence right to the point of death with a passionate intensity that deceived generations of activists including myself.
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If I come across as irritable, and if I have a temper, it is to some extent - not largely, but at least to some extent - because I have spent all my life, literally from childhood, bashing my head against a soft, crushing, unconquerable obsession of the modern West, which poisons Italy and has all but murdered Britain: I mean the heresy of dialogue. That is, the general idea that there is no problem on earth that cannot be solved, and no distance that cannot be filled, and no difference that cannot be reconciled, by sitting down and talking about it. That, of course, is nonsense; but all my life - and while not ancient, I am well into my middle age - the vast majority of the people I met clung to it as though it were their mother's breast, feeding them their mother's milk.

There is literally no way to convince most of them that there are limits to dialogue. They ignore decades of total failure in crisis after crisis, and seize one minor and partial success - I mean the unreconciled "reconciliation" in Northern Ireland - to convince themselves that dialogue is always and everywhere the answer. Of course, even in Northern Ireland, there is no peace; only the absence of high-profile violence. Cops are not shot any more, but the terrorists of both sides effectively patrol and control their communities, cut off from each other by ever-growing lengths of wall. I don't want to underrate the importance of no longer having open violence; but this is, at best, a half-successful piece of "dialogue", and does not deserve its iconic status.

However, international public opinion has made a fetish of it (international public opinion, after all, does not live in Northern Ireland and doesn't have to suffer the swagger and menace of the "militants" on their streets). All right; so Irish blood no longer flows - though Irish bones are frequently broken. That's an improvement. But when this lowering of the temperature of violence is internationally promoted as a triumph of "dialogue", when Britain aggressively markets itself as specialists in conflict resolution across the world on the strength of Northern Ireland, when the figurehead of the "peace process" in NI, Tony Blair, is made the international delegate to have peace in the Middle East - then one has to wonder who can possibly imagine that what barely works in the streets of Belfast can ever be relevant to the armed millions of the East Mediterranean. But because the heresy of "dialogue" seems - by deliberately adopting a mental squint that fails to see the thousand wrong things - to have once been validated, there is no limit to the credit that can be claimed on its strength.

But the heresy of dialogue is not disastrous every now and then or at random; it is disastrous inevitably, always, and by its own nature. There is a process that has taken place again and again but from which the dialogue-addicts never learn. When a conflict arises, the dialogue-addicts inevitably tend to favour the more violent, more brutal and more unscrupulous side. So in the thirties they favoured Hitler against France, in the sixties the Soviet Union against America, and now the Muslim world against Israel.

Why? Because it is in the nature of things. It is in the nature of things that Prime Minister Bullying-Bastard will always be willing to talk. He is friendly, hospitable, will listen for hours. ON the other hand, Prime Minister Threatened-Decency cannot pretend that he can offer the moon. He has to place limits on the concessions he is willing to make. And the result of this is inevitably that the dialogue-addicts remain impressed, even enchanted, by the friendly openness of Mr.Bullying-Bastard, and increasingly sadly disappointed by the intransigence of Mr.Threatened-Decency. Hitler's antechamber positively swarmed with pacifists from every nation; even after he had conquered Poland and France, he was still talking peace, peace, peace at any cost. As for Joe Stalin, he positively took out the copyright on pacifism; every international pacifist association from the thirties onwards was a Soviet front. And our contemporary parallels! Why, how open to debate they are, how willing to talk, talk for hours at a time, any time of day and night! Nobody could possibly imagine that they have anything against dialogue. And they don't - since they expect dialogue to deliver everything they want, bit by bit. That is why "peace" must be a "process"; so that everything may be renegotiated over and over again, dead issues resurrected, impossible demands made over and over again with every appeareance of reasonableness. That is what "dialogue" is about.

What happened is quite simply this: that many Europeans, and an enormous majority of Britons, have become addicted to this opium. And because this drug only works one way, can only work one way, it always ends up allying the dialogue-addicts with the worst villains.
fpb: (Default)
I wrote this essay some years ago. I still think it is interesting, and besides it has something to do with my remarks (to follow) about JK Rowling.

Read more... )
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I will superimpose two pieces of news I have recently read. Let anyone who has any goodwill and mental openness see what conclusions they lead to.

Read more... )
fpb: (Default)
This essay originated in a surprising little discovery I just made. Like everyone else who is interested in modern history, I knew that the Nazis had a marching song called the Horstwessellied, from an early militant who had died in a street riot. Recently I became curious to hear it.

The first thing that struck me was a slight feeling of disappointment.Read more... )

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