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.


Jul. 21st, 2014 10:48 am
fpb: (Athena of Pireus)
The narrow defeat of the Obama administration in the Hobby Lobby case has sent its supporters into ecstases of rage and hate that have to be seen to be believed, and that in some cases can only be described as murderous. I am glad I don't live in the USA. But this fury, that bewilders many conservatives and independents, does not bewilder me. The Mandate was criminal from the beginning, criminal in its prehistory. Remember how deliberately the President lied to poor Bart Stupak and destroyed his career. And the Mandate is really much more basic to the Obama project than people realize, because they can't see its actual purpose. Le me draw a historical parallel.

Ireland has one of the saddest modern histories of any country in the world. Repeatedly invaded and devastated by the larger neighbouring island, its Catholic majority was reduced to a pulverized peasantry, paying tax they could not afford to Protestant landlords and being tithed for Protestant parsons; a miserable swarm of penniless, ignorant and leaderless grubbers of the soil, fed by potatoes, with no middle class or aristocracy or any consistency. But what you have to realize is that, the destruction of the Irish educated classes, in spite of the frightful massacres and repeated wars, were not the result of military oppression or even of mass murder; they were, in the main, the result of laws. England wrote dozens, indeed hundreds,of laws, to destroy the Irish nation as elaborately and as legally as possible. As the Irish Protestant Edmund Burke said, the English laws against Irish Catholics - or "penal laws", as they are shamefully called - were "a complete system, full of coherence and consistency, well digested and well composed in all its parts. It was a machine of wise and deliberate contrivance, as well fitted for the oppression, impoverishment and degradation of a people, and the debasement of human nature itself, as ever proceeded from the perverted ingenuity of man.”

The Mass, of course, could not be said: to have it said or to say it meant life imprisonment. But neither could Catholics be educated: to set up a Catholic school was equally a matter of life imprisonment. And Catholics were to be robbed by law: "Every Roman Catholic was... to forfeit his estate to his nearest Protestant relation, until, through a profession of what he did not believe, he redeemed by his hypocrisy what the law had transferred to the kinsman as the recompense of his profligacy." The law encouraged Protestants to steal from their Catholic relations, or even pretended relations; and not just large amounts, but everything - every bit of property they had. "When thus turned out of doors from his paternal estate, he was disabled from acquiring any other by any industry, donation, or charity; but was rendered a foreigner in his native land, only because he retained the religion, along with the property, handed down to him from those who had been the old inhabitants of that land before him."

"....Catholics, condemned to beggary and to ignorance in their native land, have been obliged to learn the principles of letters, at the hazard of all their other principles, from the charity of your enemies. They have been taxed to their ruin at the pleasure of necessitous and profligate relations, and according to the measure of their necessity and profligacy,"

"Examples of this are many and affecting. Some of them are known by a friend who stands near me in this hall. It is but six or seven years since a clergyman, of the name of Malony, a man of morals, neither guilty nor accused of anything noxious to the state, was condemned to perpetual imprisonment for exercising the functions of his religion; and after lying in jail two or three years, was relieved by the mercy of government from perpetual imprisonment, on condition of perpetual banishment. A brother of the Earl of Shrewsbury, a Talbot, a name respectable in this country whilst its glory is any part of its concern, was hauled to the bar of the Old Bailey, among common felons, and only escaped the same doom, either by some error in the process, or that the wretch who brought him there could not correctly describe his person,—I now forget which. In short, the persecution would never have relented for a moment, if the judges, superseding (though with an ambiguous example) the strict rule of their artificial duty by the higher obligation of their conscience, did not constantly throw every difficulty in the way of such informers. But so ineffectual is the power of legal evasion against legal iniquity, that it was but the other day that a lady of condition, beyond the middle of life, was on the point of being stripped of her whole fortune by a near relation to whom she had been a friend and benefactor; and she must have been totally ruined, without a power of redress or mitigation from the courts of law, had not the legislature itself rushed in, and by a special act of Parliament rescued her from the injustice of its own statutes..."

It says enough about the power of brute prejudice, of a kind we see in the highest places today, that this unanswerable attack on a disgraceful law lost Burke an election he should have won. The English had been taught to hate Catholics so much that they evidently thought that nothing done to them could be wrong or unjust.

What the Mandate is designed to do, mutatis mutandis, is exactly this. This is why the political and media leadership of your country has fought for it so obstinately, so savagely, and so underhandedly; this is why it took even a narrow defeat with murderous rage. It is because the real purpose of this abomination is to exclude Christians and especially Catholics from economic life. In a world in which money is the only power that can really affect politics - as Obama and his people know all too well - it is intolerable to them that there should be a number, however small, of rich people and of company owners who take their Christianity seriously. In this day and age it is not yet possible to make it legal for a man of the government's party to simply steal the property of his dissenting relatives; and besides, there is not - or not yet - a simple test of identity to separate the government's friends from its enemies, as membership in the "Protestant" church was in Burke's time. But they can impose a tax for a purpose that no Christian can accept, and then savagely penalize them - not by jailing them, which is not what they want, but by fining them into ruin.

Look at it in this light, and the whole mechanism becomes lucid, clear, rational and perfectly designed for its purpose. It is intended to make it impossible for Christians to have any independent economic activity in the USA, by making sure that they either have to resign their principles or be taxed into bankruptcy for them. Of course, they could not possibly declare their purpose; of course they lied from beginning to end. But that, and nothing else, is what this Mandate does.

Incidentally, this also gives you an insight into the real view that Obama and his henchmen have of the political process in your country, and of the nature of political power. This law is not meant to strike at Catholic or Christian faith. It does not try to obtain conversions. It does not set up anything like the imposing apparatus by which republican France, after 1875, worked tirelessly to break the ancestral Catholicism of its masses. The only thing that matters, the thing for which they have fought, the thing for which they have lied, the thing for which they ruined Bart Stupak and compromised the word of the President of the United States of America, was to be sure that no rich Catholics or Christians should exist. Wealth had to remain exclusively among people who had no problem with paying tax to distribute IUDs and abortifacients with a shovel. Because in the eyes of Obama and his crowd, only the very rich are politically significant. This attempt to winnow the Christians from their numbers makes it perfectly clear.


Aug. 31st, 2010 10:24 am
fpb: (Default)
Nobody seems to have noticed the parallel; because, I suppose, not many historians today write from a Catholic viewpoint. But in 1798, two Catholic priests led two great popular insurrections on the two sides of the war then raging between a French Revolution not yet quite hijacked by a Corsican adventurer, and a reactionary Europe dedicated to the most contemptible and cynical forms of politics (the anti-French alliance was, at one and the same time, working together to slice and destroy Poland, and incidentally to destroy Kosciuzko's constitutional and liberal reforms). Their different fates had something to do with the different countries in which they took place, but they also had something to say about the future of the Catholic Church.Read more... )
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(cross-posted to [livejournal.com profile] academics_anon)

If anyone thinks that the nearly homicidal hatred of my friend [livejournal.com profile] wemyss for the repulsive rabble that pretends to govern this wretched country is exaggerated,Read more... )
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Africa has worse tyrants than Robert Mugabe (not that I do not detest him). The reason why he gets so much negative publicity is that, among his other victims, he oppresses whites of British origin.

(And if you want the names of worse tyrants, here is one right away - Issaias Afewerki - tyrant of Eritrea, who set up a vicious time-lapsed Communist tyranny with all the trimmings, and who cooperates with the worst kind of Islamic monster just to unsettle his Ethiopian neighbours in Somalia.)

However, the morally worst thing about Mugabe is that he is 82 or 83. Still clinging to his misused and mismanaged power, still subverting institutions (including having a supporter of his as Anglican Archbishop, leading a schism), still encouraging violence in the streets rather than lose it, even on the edge of eternity.
fpb: (Default)
We are all, I hope, disgusted, and perhaps grimly amused, at the vile conference convened by Iran's criminal President to "discuss" the Holocaust. Not everyone, however, seems to realize that this is only the last, and not even the worst, of a growing tendency by politicians and rich men to simply refuse the assured conclusions of scholarship and common sense when it suits them.

To my mind, probably the most sinister of these, because of its enormous reach and duration, was the many-pronged attempt by the Indian government, at the time of the BJP, to spread and impose a novel doctrine of early history that said, one, that the Indo-European group of peoples had originated not in Russia and Central Asia, but in India; that there were Sanskrit-speakers in India as early as 3500BC; and that as the other IE nations spread westwards from India, so their languages are derived from, rather than related to, Sanskrit. This is pure nonsense which one lesson in elementary linguistics and language history could easily dismantle; but thanks to the pressure of the government of a great country, supported by widespread nationalism, it has corrupted the whole course of scholarly debate in India and even found footholds in the West. I have in my library a guide to Hinduism, for instance, which is written from this point of view; anyone who buys it and reads without being aware of its essential corruption will himself be corrupted. As I have no intention of encouraging this sort of production, I will not name publisher and author; but the author is one of that small band of Western scholars who have allowed themselves to become accomplices of the BJP in this criminal enterprise. Their motives are easy to perceive in their writings: in general, the words "colonialism", "imperialism", "orientalism" recur at least every second line. These men and women start from the premise that whatever comes from Western culture is ideologically imperialistic and racist and therefore certainly wrong - wrong without need to debate it or to disprove it, wrong because it is the essence of Western culture to be wrong. And they do not even stop to wonder that in supporting the lies of the BJP they are giving their support to something a great deal more imperialistic, racist and aggressive, a genuine fascist movement that hangs like a black shadow over the future of India and all Asia.

We might also consider the astonishing way in which, in the face of all common sense and every single bit of evidence, Mohammed Fayed, the owner of Harrod's, has managed to keep the most inane and insane conspiracy theories about the deaths of his son Dodi and of Princess Diana alive in the British press. Merely because the man is rich (or rather, possessed of large means - in fact, he is heavily in debt), he has always found mercenary scribblers to transform his fantasies into journalistic prose, and publish them, not in little blogs or tinfoil-hatted websites, but in some of the great newspapers of Britain. This could be forgiven as a manifestation of the undying grief of a father who has lost his son; were it not that behind that there is clearly visible something much nastier - the attitude of a man who firmly believes that anything bad that happens to him must be the work of enemies and dark forces conspiring against him, and builds up his monstrous ego by looking for enemies to hound. That a couple of newspapers and several journalists have been willing, merely because of his money (the Princess Di brand has long since ceased to sell newspapers), to support him in this evidently insane quest, seems to me disgraceful. But then, British pressmen are corrupt from the cradle.

My friends will also think, I imagine, of the crazed popularity of seven-eleven denial, especially in America. But there is a serious difference between this phenomenon and the ones I described: no rich person or major government is backing seven-eleven denial. It is a genuinely grassroots phenomenon - a sad one, but not a manged one. In fact, it is an embarrassment to the groups in America that would otherwise be closest to its members, such as the Democratic Party. On the other hand, it is difficult to see that Diana conspiracy theories, Indian pseudohistories, or Holocaust denial, would have any more than a small and marginal life in pamphlets typewritten by cranks, were it not for the support of powerful groups and state governments. And this is a trend of terrible seriousness: no less than the attempt by power groups to rewrite reality, as scholarship has established it, in their own interest.

There is one basic point in which this is the West's fault, however. None of this would have had any opportunity for developing, in any significant way, and the governments and rich men concerned would not even have conceived of giving them institutional life, were it not for the idiot and criminal slogan that is the worst of the many enduring legacies of the sixties: "Question authority". This slogan has encouraged two generations to feel clever merely by being oppositional and programmatically skeptical; it has stood in the way of intellectual progress in every possible way (the encouragement of cranks and crackpots till they became institutional being only one of its evil effects). Ahmedinajad and the BJP parrot lines about Western imperialism, cultural imperialism, and so on, that have first been written and popularized in Western universities. The first thing to be done now, therefore, is to challenge this particular authoritative statement; and not only to challenge, but to bury it.
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Yes, we are fortunate. Like the great men of a time we thought we might never see again, we have our chance to defend freedom.Read more... )


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