Author Archives: Robert Henderson

The burden of digital technology

Robert Henderson

Technological  change  has been  making  increasingly  severe   demands  on  human beings for around 300 years. There  was change before then of course, but it was slow and most people   could live their lives without  having to adapt to radically   new ways of living.

Things  began to speed up as the Industrial Revolution began and an argument can be made that the century  1815 and 1914  saw  more radical technological  qualitative  change than any generation before or since. But  that  change  was the difference between living in  a  still  largely  pre-industrial society (in 1815) and  an  industrial     society  in its  early middle age (in 1914).  Moreover,  the  change  did  not actually require the vast  majority  of  the  population to master complicated machines at their work,  let  alone in their own homes.

In  1914 the most complicated machine most people had to operate was probably the telephone and vast swathes  of the population would not even have had to go that far into  the  world  of technology. Not only that, because  machines  then were either mechanical or part mechanical,  i.e.,  not   electronic, just looking at the way a machine was made  often allowed the intelligent  observer to have a fair guess at how  it  worked and to see  what had  gone  wrong  if it malfunctioned.  Even  work-related machines which required skilled operators, such as  machine  lathes,  were not   fundamentally difficult to understand, although the dexterity  required to operate them often took time to acquire.

Things remained essentially  the same until  the advent of personal computers and the widespread use of digital technology.  Machines became   more and more predominant in advanced societies but they were   not,   in  most  instances,  complicated  to  use. This  was  particularly  true  of those machines used in  private  life.  Telephones just required the user  to dial;  washing machines  had  a  start  button and nothing else; televisions  and radios  simply needed switching  on;  cars were simply  designed to travel. Then came digital technology.

Computers are like no other machine ever invented. They have  a  unique combination of  an unparalleled public and  private   use  and   a  central importance to  economic  activity and public  administration.   The  potential  penalties  for  the   failure  of these machines  are vastly greater than  for  any   other  piece  of  technology.   Not  only  can  an  immediate   application  of a computer be ended,  as can happen with  all  machines,  but  computer users also  risk  losing  networking  capacity  and, if they have not useable backed up copies  of   their computer data, the loss of their entire records and conceivably the loss of the means to continue their business. Computer users are also vulnerable to outside sabotage though hacking  and viruses.   No other machine has ever  exposed a society to such risks through its ubiquity and vulnerability to outside influences.

These machines are also vastly more demanding of time than   any  other  machine  ever  used  by  the   general   public. To  master computers to the  degree where a person does not lie helplessly in the hands of  experts  is a  demanding and continuing   task.   It is unlikely that many could or would manage it  without making  computers their  profession.   In fact,   even   supposed  computer  professionals   are   only   knowledgeable in   their  specialist  areas:   a   hardware  specialist has no deep knowledge of software and vice versa, while programmers long ago lost any detailed understanding of an entire program. It is also true that many self described IT experts are anything but. They get by with a small amount of IT knowledge  because of the general level of ignorance amongst the general public and the fact that most problems can be overcome by re-booting or by  reinstalling programs.

The computer age  is a stunningly  recent   phenomenon.  Most people even in the West   would  not  have   used  a  computer before 1985.  Probably a majority  had  not   done  so by 1990.  By the end of the 1980s  the nearest  most   would have got to a computer  would probably have been   bank  ATM  machines.  The internet was esoteric and laborious,  the   web barely more than a gleam in Tim Berners-Lee’s eye.   Even    in  the  world  of  employment  computers  were  still   used   sparingly.

As  with  computers actually called computers,  so with the other machines which  cause much  grief now.   The mobile phone was  a status symbol  and   the size of a brick, while  landline phones were still phones   boringly   restricted   to   simply   phoning   rather   than    mini-computers with a tendency to bemuse.   Microwaves had  a  simple   choice  of power.  Refrigerators did  not  offer  to  remind  you  of  what needed to be ordered.  TVs   tended  to  simply work when switched on.

In  the past 25 years all this has dramatically changed.   We  are in  a world in which computers are absolutely integral   to  business and public administration and they are  now  the  norm rather than the exception in homes.  For most people, it  is  literally impossible to escape them.   Worse,  they  have  become ever more complex to use and invade ever  more  of our lives as microprocessors are inserted  into  the most unlikely things such as clothes.  Machines  generally   are more demanding. To use This has profound implications for  people  both in  high IQ and low IQ societies.

Even to use computers at a low level  of expertise, such as using a word processor to its  full capacity and  sending email  efficiently , requires  a degree of concentration and  knowledge with which  a substantial minority are uneasy.  More demanding activities such as  spreadsheet  use  or the construction of a database  are inaccessible to the majority. Most  people  have only a  minimal knowledge of the  capacities of their operating system . This lack of expertise  afflicts the young as well as the old, which suggests that this is going to be a permanent  problem because the young have grown up with computers.

Of  the commonly used programmes  search engines  are particularly interesting from the point of view of IQ. Everyone  who uses a computer can use a search engine at some level, but  the skill with which they use search engines varies massively.  This is unsurprising because the search engine is  the  commonly used program which most calls upon IQ related abilities.  It relies not simply on knowledge but  also  problem solving. To perform a function in a word processor  requires the user  to apply inert knowledge, go to this menu, use this function etc. To use a search engine efficiently for anything but a simple search for a certain website  requires the ability to formulate questions  in the most pertinent way.  I never ceased to be amazed how at many people  use search engines ineptly, often comically so. I should not be amazed of course because the ability to do so is IQ dependent.

The implications for those with a low IQ are these: the lower the IQ, the more the person will struggle in an advanced society because the use of computers is increasingly inescapable.  In a high IQ society the low IQ individual will struggle but the society  as a whole will  manage. In a low IQ society there will simply not be the IQ firepower to sustain a society based on digital technology.  In a high IQ society  the low IQ part of the population will be left increasingly in a technological no man’s land, unable to competently use the technology but forced to use it simply to live.

 

The constant learning process

Personal  computing  began in the mid  seventies. A  person  starting then would have had to learn the BASIC  programming language.   By the early eighties they would have been using DOS. By 1990s Windows   expertise  was  necessary.   Since  1990  successive   editions  of  Windows  have  varied  considerably  from   the  previous version requiring further learning.

What  goes for  operating systems applies also to most  other programs,   which   when  they  are   upgraded   often   bear    surprisingly little  resemblance to the  version  prior  to  them.  Certainly,  if one moves from an old   program   to  a version  which has been uprated twice, the chances are  that knowledge  of the original program will be of little use  in  understanding the new one.

Apart from the effort needed to constantly learn new programs  and to attend to such things as installations of software and hardware, the other great drawback of computers is the amount of time which can be spent on maintenance.  It is all too easy to find a  day  or  two  slip by just sorting out a single relatively  simple  computer problem or learning how to use a new program.

The nature of what is to be learned

The burden  of learning is   especially heavy because of  the  nature of that which is to be learned. This  is what might be termed   dead information.   There is no  intrinsic  interest in what is to be learned. It is merely a means to an end.  To operate  a program all that is needed is a knowledge of   the  menus  and  function keys.   That is precisely  the  type  of   information  which  is least palatable to  the  normal  human  mind.  Hence,  it is the least easy to learn for most people.    The  computer is in effect forcing human beings to  act  like  computers, something utterly alien to them.

Intelligence  is  of  little  use on its own.  Computers  are  information   driven  machines.  Put the most intelligent man in the world before a   computer  and  he  will  be utterly helpless  if  he  has  no  computer  experience.  Even  if the  man  has  some  computer   experience,  he will be as incapable of using  a completely   unfamiliar type of program as the dullard.

The substitution of function for intellect

That  computers are function rather than intelligence  driven  is  objectively  demonstrated  by the fact that all  of  what   might be called the administrative  operations of a  computer – file management,  loading of programs etc –  could be  done by a computer program.

When I watch the young using computers,  obvious or disguised in the shape of phones and the like,  I get a feeling of deep  unease.  They  so  obediently pull down  menus  and    select   options  that I wonder at the difference between them  and  a  robot.  The  machine is driving the human being at  least  as   much  as  the  human  being is  driving  the  machine;  brute  machine functionality is replacing intellect.

There  is  only so much any human being can  learn,  both  in terms  of time and mental impetus.  If increasing amounts  of  both are required by computers simply to operate them,  where  will that leave intellectual development?    Worse,  will the  ability  to  operate  machines become  to  be seem as the  most  important activity of  human beings?

The myth of youthful expertise

It  is true that those who have grown up with  computers  are   more  comfortable  with the machines than those who  came  to them in adult life – the latter still comprise, more than 50 per cent of the population. It is worth noting.   However,  the idea  that  the young  generally  have any  substantial understanding of  computers is dubious going on simply wrong. A recent survey  by the global market-research company Synovate, reported:

“We found that people tended to fit into one of three categories: 27 per cent are what we call ‘cybernauts’ – people who like to be ahead of the game in terms of technology. However, the majority, 53 per cent, are ‘average Joes’. They don’t love technology per se, but view it as a facilitator – it helps them to communicate or entertain themselves. They tend to use it in quite a functional way, such as emailing, banking or shopping online. Then there are 20 per cent who we describe as ‘digital dissidents’, meaning they actively dislike using technology and avoid it wherever possible.” Daily Telegraph 30 6 2007  The myth of the MySpace generation.

The  young know how to use the internet and web,  can work  a  word processor and  use programs which really interest  them.  But  let  their   computer develop  a  fault   which  renders Windows  unstable or unusable or  a piece of hardware  fails,  and  they are,  in most cases,  as helpless  the  generations which did not grow up with computers.

What  the young do have which  older people do not  have   is group  knowledge.  A schoolchild of today can call  on  the computer  knowledge of their peer group and the assistance of   teachers.  Those  a little older who are in work  still  have   their  peer  group  to  help them   if  they  get  stuck.  In  addition,  if they work for a large employer they can call on the  expertise  of the employer’s IT  department  or  service contractors.

Computers  have only been in schools since the mid  eighties.  Anyone over the age of forty (arguably,  over the age of  35)   will  not  have  a  peer group on  whom  they  can  call  for  assistance  with  computers  (and  other  machines)   because   almost  all  of  those  they  know  well  will  be  of  their approximate  age  – few people have  close  friendships  with  those who are  much younger than themselves – and the  people   who  are  their age will have little computer  experience  or knowledge.   The  best they can hope for is  assistance  from  their children if they have any,  and then it is pot luck  as   to how computer competent those children are and how  willing  they  are  to help the parent.   If an older  person  has  no  compliant computer literate children and  does not work for a   large employer,  he or she will  be utterly isolated from the   knowledge   needed   to  deal  with even   basic computer developments.

The  science  fiction writer Arthur C Clarke  pointed  out  a  good few years ago that there comes  a point with  technology  when it became indistinguishable from magic for all but the initiates. The dangers of that are obvious: for that which is not generally understood  gives the few who do understand a power over those who do not.  That potentially gives private corporations and governments a great stick with which to beat   their  customers  and citizens into  submission,  either  for  profit or political power.

Where the technology is as vital and central to a society  as  computers  have  become,   there  is  the  further  and  more   fundamental  risk   of society reaching a  state  where   the   technology  can  no longer be either properly  maintained  or  controlled.

More prosaically, in societies which have the capacity to embrace the ever  growing potential  digital technology, those without the means to gain Internet access or the ability to use computers generally will be left stranded as more and more of everyday life is dependent upon people having the ability and opportunity to use the Internet. Already there are few large organisations, private and public, which are not making strenuous efforts to force anyone who wishes to interact with them to do so through the Internet.   This trend will continue if nothing is done. There are also developments which within ten to twenty years may have driven advanced societies to do away with cash and trap everyone into a world in which  the means of living are dependent upon the reliability of digital systems and the honesty and goodwill of those who control them. Imagine a world in which payment could only be made through an electronic  transfer  using a card or  smartphone and the bank servicing your electronic broke down? Or suppose you lost your card or had it stolen. How would you survive?

In a democratic society politicians  should be addressing the very real dangers to everyone  and the unreasonable burdens being placed on those who simply cannot come to terms with the technology, the old, the disabled, the simply not very bright.  This is simply not happening.  God help us if those with power and influence do not begin to address the problem soon.

The liberal internationalists idea of debate on immigration

The present state of the refugee crisis – report of meeting 20 January 2016

Venue: Church of St Mary-le-Bow

Meeting chaired by Andy Burns Executive Director of Capital Mass, a charity coordinating the Anglican church in London’s response to the flood of migrants heading for Europe

Speakers

Rt Revd Dr David S Walkerm, Bishop of Manchester

Emily Bowerman Programmes Manager at the Refugee Support Network with an MSc in Migration, Mobility and Development from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

I went to this meeting because from the personnel involved it looked nailed on to be an orgy of self-congratulatory political correct mutual grooming. Well, orgy would be the wrong word to describe what occurred because the two speakers were curiously lacking in energy with little to say beyond the banal and the meeting lasted for less than 90 minutes.  Nonetheless, the occasion was instructive for it demonstrated nicely both the blindness of the open borders supporters as to the wishes of the ordinary man and woman regarding immigration and their unspoken arrogance in imagining that they do not need to engage in debate with those who oppose mass immigration because they smugly imagine that such views can always  be safely censored out of public debate. In fact, it is not just that such people are unwilling to debate the issues raised by mass immigration , they simply do not know how to go about trying to refute the anti-immigration case so long is it since such debate regularly took place in public.

The meeting had barely begun than Martin Webster began a series of heckles with a complaint that the speakers and chairman were all drawn from the politically correct pro-immigration side. Andy Burns tried to stop Webster’s heckles by promising that he could ask questions at the end of the meeting,. This ploy was only partially successful. I must confess I am not a great fan of heckling generally because it invariably turns the audience against the heckler and if the intention is not simply to disrupt a meeting but rather to say something which you want the meeting to hear that is toxically counter -productive . Nonetheless, there was a more than an ordinarily strong case for using the tactic here because the two speakers made absolutely no attempt to address the problems, either immediate or long term, raised by mass immigration.

The Bishop produced a stream of platitudes and factual falsehoods about immigrants. He celebrated the fact that the BBC had begun to use refugees rather than migrants in their reporting of the story, blithely claimed that the immigrants were a net economic benefit to Britain and that immigration had negligible effects on the provision of public services and came out with the trite moral dictum t that to do a good thing for the individual regardless of the consequences for society was morally better than refusing to do the good thing on the grounds that it would have adverse consequences for society because the means could never justify the ends. This meant that all refugees should be helped because they were in immediate need of the good moral act.  When challenged by Webster’s heckling over why he was not addressing the effects of mass immigration and the British public’s discontent with what is an invasion by any other name, the Bishop blandly said that the wider debate about immigration was not for the meeting. He also refused to discuss the recent events in Cologne where hundreds of women were sexually and physically assaulted by immigrants.

Emily Bowerman’s role was simply to regale the audience with stories of immigrants from places as diverse as Afghanistan and North Korea who had come to Britain. The examples given were all tremendous advertisements for immigrants and immigration (natch) with no embarrassing references to immigrants behaving badly.

When it came to questions little time was given to Martin Webster or myself to put the contrary arguments against the politically correct open borders position.  However, I did manage to ask whether the speakers would support a referendum on immigration. The Bishop trotted out the weasel worded excuse that referendums were not part of the English tradition and he would not support one. I pointed out that he was no democrat but this produced no response.

Had I been allowed to speak at some length I would have made these points:

  1. Conquest does not have to be by force. Mass immigration permitted by ruling elites to whom treason is second nature is arguably the most effective conquest of all because it is diffuse and gradual, while the elites who permit it can use their power to intimidate the population through the criminalisation of anti-immigrant views and that part of the elite which controls the mainstream media can be relied upon to exclude public criticism of mass immigration and its consequences.
  2. That immigration on a massive scale results in a very strong tendency to form ghettos of immigrants from the same foreign places and this tendency is strongest where the immigrant groups is racially or ethnically strikingly different from the native population of the territory to which the groups migrate. The ghettos formed are unacknowledged colonies.
  3. Once ghettos are established the separation from the native population is carried down the generations.
  4. When an immigrant group becomes large enough to have political clout it can subvert the national interests of the native population and gain privileges and policy changes which suit them and disadvantage the native population. This can happen through native politicians selfishly putting votes for them and their party above the interests of the native population; from fear of threats of violence of immigrants within the national territory ; fear of a large nation from which the immigrant group comes acting against the recipient nation or simply adherence to an ideology such as political correctness which includes internationalism and the universality of homo sapiens.
  5. There are approximately 7 billion people in the world. At the most generous estimate only one billion live in advanced developed countries which have majority white populations. For convenience let us call that the West. Of that one billion probably 200 million are non-white. Already the basis for a conquest of the West through mass immigration is established.
  6. If high rates of immigration of non-whites into the West continue this will continue to dilute the ethnic balance and advantage of the Western native populations.
  7. Immigrant groups, and especially those coming from outside the developed world, have larger families on average than the native white populations of the West. This will further dilute the ethnic balance and advantage of Western the native populations.
  8. By 2050 the world population is projected to reach 9 billion with the increase overwhelmingly coming from non-white populations. The increase in the populations of countries from outside the developed world will cause millions more to try to reach the West.
  9. The larger the immigrant populations in Western states the harder it will be to control future immigration, because the immigrant populations which have not assimilated will have ever increasing political clout and in extreme cases, immigrant populations may become the majority. For example, it is easy to see how. a country such as Sweden, with a small native population of less than ten million, n could be overrun in as little as twenty years if immigration from the developing world continues at its presents rate.
  10. The threat to the native populations of the West is intensified because of the large proportion of immigrants who have been and continue to be Muslim. There is no Muslim majority country which does not disadvantage, formally or informally, non-Muslims within its midst.
  11. There are precious few countries in the world with a long continuous history of representative government. The UK, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Scandinavian countries and Switzerland qualify but no others. Some may raise an eyebrow at the omission of France but she has had five separate constitutions since the French Revolution began in 1789. The current immigration crisis could easily become so severe that the quite recent and fragile representative political systems in most of Europe broke under the strain to be replaced by dictatorships, disguised or otherwise.
  12. The most striking thing about the public debate amongst established mainstream politicians throughout the West is that while the interests of the immigrants are constantly lauded the interests of the native populations are invariably ignored .

Politically incorrect film reviews – The Martian

Main cast

Matt Damon as Mark Watney (botanist, engineer)

Kristen Wiig as Annie Montrose, NASA spokesperson (Director, Media Relations)

Jeff Daniels as Theodore “Teddy” Sanders, Director of NASA

Michael Peña as Major Rick Martinez, astronaut (pilot)

Kate Mara as Beth Johanssen, astronaut (system operator, reactor technician)

Sean Bean as Mitch Henderson, Hermes flight director

Sebastian Stan as Dr. Chris Beck, astronaut (flight surgeon, EVA specialist)

Aksel Hennie as Dr. Alex Vogel, astronaut (navigator, chemist)

Chiwetel Ejiofor as Vincent Kapoor, NASA’s Mars mission director

Donald Glover as Rich Purnell, a NASA astrodynamicist

Benedict Wong as Bruce Ng, director of JPL

Director Ridley Scott

Imagine Robinson Crusoe without  a Man Friday  and stranded on another planet  rather than a deserted island  and you have the plot of The  Martian in a nutshell.

Botanist Mark Watney ( Matt Damon)  is part of  the Ares III mission  which has landed on Mars and set up a temporary base there. A dust storm blows up while the crew are out on the surface and Watney is hit by some flying debris. The rest of the crew are sure he is dead, but they also have a major danger  to distract them from searching for him: the dust storm is threatening to blow over the rocket that  will take them back to their orbiting Hermes  spaceship. If the rocket topples over the crew will be stranded on Mars.   Consequently, they make an emergency take off  without Watney, get safely to the Hermes and  head  for Earth.

But Watney is not dead. He has been injured by  the flying debris,  but not mortally. The facility which sheltered the crew on Mars, the Hab, is still functioning  and there is a large Mars rover vehicle intact.  Watney sits down in the Hab and does  exactly what Crusoe does, takes an inventory of what he has then sets about working himself out of the monumental hole he is in.  This he achieves  in a series of   ingenious ways   including, again mimicking  Crusoe , by scavenging equipment  from  wrecks, in this case  from abandoned equipment  left  from previous missions, manned and unmanned, to  Mars.

Most of the film  is taken up with Watney’s efforts  to overcome  one daunting  obstacle to surviving  after another long enough to have any chance of rescue.  He starts from the bleak  point of knowing that NASA  think that he is dead.  Hence his   first need is to establish contact with Earth to let them know he is alive.  He eventually does this  by cleverly  tinkering with equipment  intended for other things until eventually he has an email  link with NASA.

After making contact with NASA,  Watney’s  most pressing problem is  having enough food   to last long enough to keep him alive until Earth can attempt to rescue him. It will take several years to send another spaceship to Mars and Watney  has food for nothing like that long. Luckily he is a botanist so he works out a way of producing water and this,  with the excrement from the astronauts acting as fertiliser, allows him to grow potatoes inside the Hab with sufficient success  to allow him to survive for considerably  longer but not long enough for the next Mars expedition, Aries IV, to arrive and save  him.

While Watney is problem solving on Mars NASA is problem solving on Earth and meeting with disaster. Their attempts to   launch an unmanned rocket with extra supplies to allow Watney to survive until Aires IV can get there  ends in disaster and all looks lost.  But eventually  the Aries III mission ship Hermes ship is re-provisioned a in space and then turned around on its flight to Earth and sent back to Mars to rescue Watney. This is done only with the help of the Chinese (note the glib  internationalism and/or kotowing to the Chinese).

After further adventures including a disaster with the Hab and a long ride across the Martian surface in the Mars Rover the film culminates in a hair raising exercise to rescue Watney. Does he make it? Well, you will need to see the film to discover that.

Damon’s performance as Watney  recaptures  the engaging boyishness of his early films like Goodwill Hunting and Rounders.   He is also decidedly funny. Without him the film would be pretty dull,  for apart from Damon the plot involving the rest of the cast is rather predictable and even those with  the larger parts such as Jeff Daniels as Theodore “Teddy” Sanders,  the Director of NASA and Jessica Chastain as Melissa Lewis,   the Ares III Mission Commander, are distinctly one-dimensional.  Sean Bean is horribly miscast as Mitch Henderson the Hermes flight director speaking what lines he has with as much verve as a speak-your-weight-machine .

The Martian has been criticised in some quarters for Damon’s role being too comic.  That is a mistake. Whether  or not someone in such a desperate and isolated position  would be able to maintain such an upbeat  persona with the sense of both his utter physical isolation and desperate circumstances  pressing upon him is of course debatable . But that is to miss the point. The same objection could be levelled at Robinson Crusoe.  But in both cases what counts is whether there is a good story to be told and in both cases the answer is yes.   Moreover, the attitude of Watney  is that of those with the  “right stuff”, an epitome of American can do. Nor is he  utterly alone for most of the film. To keep him sane  he has his contact with Earth for most of the time and eventually  the Aries III ship Hermes . He also records his progress on a video blog, something which would provide a sense of purpose.   It is Boy’s Own stuff but none the worse for that. Nor is it  utterly unbelievable. Think of the tone of the diaries kept on Scott’s doomed return from the South Pole or the resolution of the crew on Apollo 13 after an oxygen tank  exploded  two days into the mission and crippled the spacecraft.    Boy’s Own behaviour is found in real life.

The  depiction  of Mars is unnecessarily sloppy.  It  looks convincing as far as the scenery is concerned, but  there are   anomalies. The gravity on Mars is one-third of that on Earth yet when Damon moves around  there is no  indication of this  in his  walk ,which one would expect to be at least mildly bouncing. Nor when Damon moves things does he do so with unexpected ease as one would imagine he should with only one-third Earth gravity.   Then there is the atmospheric pressure which is around  one-hundredth of the on Earth. Would the storm which causes the Aries Mission  crew to leave really have had the energy to hurl debris as violently as it did or threaten to knock the rocket over?  The answer is no because it is the density of atmosphere which provides the “weight” behind a dust storm. On Mars the dust storm would be a  breeze not a hurricane.  As the dust storm plays a significant role in the plot this is not a small thing.

For politically correct casting  fans The Martian provides a feast.  The commander of the Aries II mission is a woman; the Chiwetel Ejiofor is  Vincent Kapoor, NASA’s Mars mission director, Benedict Wong is  Bruce Ng, director of JPL and there  are ethnic minority and female  bodies all over the place in the NASA control room scenes.  Donald Glover as Rich Purnell, a NASA astrodynamicist, s the whizz kid who produces  the maths which allows the  Hermes to turn round and head back to Mars is black.  (The overwhelmingly  white  and male  reality of NASAtoday  can be seen here).

Despite its flaws  the film  is genuinely  entertaining.  You will not leave the cinema feeling you have wasted a couple of hours.

You aint no realist bruv

Robert Henderson

The latest Muslim atrocities in the West  (ParisUSA and London) has been met with the frantic  recitation of the liberal internationalist’s favourite mantra to explain away such terrorism, namely, it is not committed by Muslims.

The attack in the Leytonstone tube station in outer London set the ball rolling in Britain when the   lone black attacker  shouted  “This is for Syria” prompting the response  “You ain’t no  Muslim bruv” from an onlooker,  a black Londoner  judged by his accent and the fact that he addressed the attacker as “bruv”, a term only common amongst blacks in Britain. The context also suggests  that the man is a Muslim.

The hashtag “You ain’t no  Muslim bruv”  was soon alive on twitter  and lavishly lauded by the politically correct as an example of how  to respond to  someone claiming to be a Muslim who had  stabbed  someone  and tried to  behead them.  The British PM  David Cameron aka NuTory Boy embraced the twitter tag using the cry while in the US Thomas Friedman came up with the all too predictable tag of “You ain’t no American bruv” to describe  Donald Trump after Trump had called for a temporary halt (note the temporary)  to Muslims visiting the USA.

To see how absurd it is to insist that that any person  who commits a violent act in the name of Islam is not a Muslim apply a few cases of  X cannot be a Y because X has committed a violent act to  non-Muslims:

– Christianity  from the time it became the official religion of the Roman Empire  was forced on people whether or not they wanted to be Christians. Hence,   none of the enforcers or the coerced  were Christians.

– The crusaders were not  Christians because they engaged in religious war against Muslims.

– The Catholic Church cannot be Christian because (1)  for the vast majority of its existence  it conducted or supported war against pagans and (2)  for the vast majority of its existence it persecuted mon-Catholics , most notably through the Inquisition.

– Protestants of almost all colours (pacifists like the Quakers are an exception) cannot be Christians because they have persecuted and fought against other Christians, both Protestant and Catholic.

Similar judgements could be made against  those who behaved in an immoral  way in the context of  other religions, for example, Buddhists who are  wilfully  violent, and  Confucians who  rebel against rightful authority. In fact there is not a religion or secular system of morality whose practitioners have not in huge numbers breached the beliefs of  their professed religious or ethical position. This is so because the history of human beings is predominantly a history of aggressive (as opposed to defensive) war, everything from the vendetta to formal warfare.

Then there is the question of the historical behaviour of  Muslims.  Islam from its beginnings was often , if not invariably, spread by the sword.  If   Muslims today are not Muslims if they engage in violence  other than in self-defence against non-Muslims, or Muslims of a different stamp whom they consider to be non-Muslims,  logically it must follow  that all those who have called themselves Muslim in the past were not Muslims if they had committed similar offences.

In short,  it is literally absurd to claim someone is not a true believer of any creed, whether  sacred or profane,  because no ideology is without its heresies,  schisms or the complications of a range of permitted belief.

There is also the ticklish problem that religions or secular ideologies often have concepts of what is moral which clash with other religions and ideologies. Those societies with the vendetta will view  revenge killings as a matter of honour and  entirely moral, while those without the vendetta will see such killing as a murder.

The claim that Muslims engaged in terrorist acts are not true Muslims is made doubly absurd by the fact that the Koran gives plenty of support to Muslims to engage in violence against non-Muslims, something which for groups such as ISIS includes huge numbers of Muslims of the “wrong” stamp.

Absurd or not the politically correct  politically correct  will continue to use the “they are not Muslims” because they desperately   wish to avoid  acknowledging  the frightening truth: that there are now tens of millions of Muslims in the West  who are there because of the immigration policies of the politically correct elites over the past 50 or 60 years . There are nearly three million Muslims in the UK , an increase of 45% since the 2001 census.  The figure for the EU including Britain is 44 million.  The USA has 2.75 million.

It would be no comfort if 99.9% of these people would not dream of engaging in terrorist acts for if even a tiny proportion of such populations   is willing to become terrorists that would mean large numbers of terrorists.  If one Muslim in a thousand in Europe is willing to become a terrorist  that would mean  44,000 Jihadis.  That is what the politically correct are hiding from and which increasingly terrifies them.

Understanding the mind of Jeremy Corbyn and co  

Robert Henderson

There will be many watching  the antics of the  Labour Party who will be wondering what on Earth is going on.  Corbyn  and his close associates  are constantly at war with most of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP)  including members of the Shadow Cabinet  while being regularly assailed with embarrassing political  connections from the past such as a rather cosy relationship with Irish Republicans and quotes which show them to be very  Hard Left personnel  indeed.   The unrelenting  absurdity of the situation was starkly demonstrated when  Corbyn attacked his shadow Foreign Secretary Hilary Benn  for supporting  British military action in Syria.

The behaviour of Corbyn and those who surround him will seem inexplicably   bizarre to most, but to anyone used to the ways of the Hard Left it will come as no surprise for  Corbyn and his supporters are acting  exactly as one would expect such people to act.  They  are not interested in exercising democratically gained power because it  involves  compromising and that  would mean  they cannot remain ideologically pure. This is anathema to any true ideologue, so they prefer to behave  in ways ever more divorced from reality to remain within their ideological boundaries for that is , their first and end, to remain ideologically consistent. Consequently, they do not look at the practicality or consequences of a  policy or action  or even whether it will achieve their  overt ends. To have made their ideological statement is enough.  If they are Marxists, and most members of the Hard Left are, either self-consciously  or  simply because  Marxism  was the original foundation  of their ideology and has left its mark, they have the certainty of a believer  that although their policies may not appeal to a majority of voters theirs is the true way and the failure of the great mass of people  to recognise  this is simply false consciousness.  Best of all if they are self-conscious Marxists,  they are sure the historical process is unravelling to achieve the ends they desire regardless of how they behave,  for at best the Marxist can only hasten the process of history not change it fundamentally.  The Marxist also has no time for morality because that is merely a bourgeois  device to delay the inevitable end of history which is communism.   Because of this the Marxist never has any problem with allowing the end to  justify the means. This, incidentally, is a weakness of  the left generally.

Any normal person would be terminally embarrassed by both the lack of support  Corbyn is getting from the PLP and  the positions and people which Corbyn and others have embraced in the past.  The most embarrassing example is probably   Corbyn’s feeble  response to the Defence Review which Cameron immediately quashed by  quoting Corbyn as follows: “Why do have to be able to have planes, transport aircraft, aircraft carriers and everything else to get anywhere in the world? Why?”

“Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every politician around the world, instead of taking pride in the size of their armed forces, did what the people of Costa Rica have done and abolished the army and took pride in the fact that they don’t have an army, and that their country is near the top of the global peace index. Surely that is the way we should be going forward.”

But  the Hard Left are not normal people.  For them the fact that they are constantly shown to be inconsistent at best and wilfully dishonest at worst is irrelevant because  the only people they take any heed of are those who are part of their group of  true believers.  Any embarrassment they suffer is viewed by them as an honourable wound in the revolutionary fight.

There are two types of people who are attracted to ideology. The first and rare type are  the intellectuals who gain not only a sense of security  but an intellectual pleasure  from mastering   the ideology and twisting it into whatever bizarre shapes ideological purity requires when faced with reality. The second  and common type are the intellectually underpowered who crave a system of thought which does their thinking for them by providing them  with answers to everything.  Corbyn gives every indication  of being the second type, the strongest  indication of this  being the feebleness of his responses to subjects such as the Defence Review  and his  evasion of debate or hostile questioning whenever he can manage it.  It is also worth noting that his academic history is  weak, the best he could  muster being  two’ Es’ at A-Level, despite having had the advantage of a private education.  This is important because the less intellectually competent Corbyn is, the more stubborn he is likely to be.

What people like Corbyn want is to use prominent public positions as a propaganda platform and bring change not through the ballot box and a majority in the Commons, but by supporting and encouraging agitation by groups  outside of mainstream  politics such as trade  unions, pro-immigration bodies and students to gain by protest and strikes that which the ballot box will not deliver.  In fact, people with Corbyn’s mentality would probably secretly welcome being overthrown from within the Labour Party by a coup staged by the large majority of the  PLP who are utterly  dismayed by him , for this would  be seen in the mind of the Hard Left  as proof of what they have always said, namely, that democratic politics is a sham.  There is also a strong probability that Corbyn would be absolutely terrified at the prospect of becoming PM because he has zero political experience beyond being an infant terrible as a back bench MP who  voted hundreds of times against the Labour whip. He has not held  even the most humble of government or  shadow positions or chaired  a Commons committee.

Ridiculous as Corbyn may seem it is important understand that he is forging ahead with remaking the Labour Party.    Since he became leader Corbyn has pursued a  classic hard left strategy. Get a foothold on the power positions in an organisation; then expel the dissenters and bring your own people in.  Of course this cannot be done overnight when the organisation to be captured  and moulded is a major party in a parliamentary democracy because by its nature such a party is a broad coalition.  Nonetheless, Corbyn has already  placed many like minded people in his shadow cabinet such as John McDonnell as shadow chancellor and  employed special advisers from the Hard Left Like Seumas Milne as  Executive Director of Strategy and Communications who unburdened himself with this in 2006 in the Guardian: “ For all its brutalities and failures, communism in the Soviet Union, eastern Europe and elsewhere delivered rapid industrialisation, mass education, job security and huge advances in social and gender equality. It encompassed genuine idealism and commitment… Its existence helped to drive up welfare standards in the west, boosted the anticolonial movement and provided a powerful counterweight to western global domination…”

That is just the beginning of the Corbynisation of the Labour Party.  The Momentum organisation which has grown out of the  political engagement   generated by  Corbyn during the Labour leadership campaign.  What does Momentum seek to do? This:

Organise events, rallies, meet ups and policy consultations to encourage mass mobilisation for a more democratic, equal and decent society.

Encourage those inspired by Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign to get involved with the Labour Party. Assist members in making their voice heard in Labour Party debates.

Facilitate and coordinate people to build new and support existing organisations that can make concrete improvements to people’s lives. Through these actions, we aim to demonstrate on a micro level how collective action and Labour values can transform our society for the better.

So far Momentum’s main public showing has been for some members  to engage in the type of vicious trolling which taints the SNP cybernats.  Further down the line  the Corbyn plan is to push through compulsory re-selection of Labour MPs  and use Momentum to ensure the deselection of anti-Corbyn Labour MPs and their substitution  with Corbyn followers. Momentum will also be working to replace anti-Corbyn candidates who are not MPs with Corbynites.

In the meantime an attempt to silence Corbyn’s  many critics in the Parliamentary Labour Party  by controlling what they say on social media. Labour’s National Executive Committee are have agreed to the creation of a code of conduct on social media for Labour MPs  which will inhibit criticism of Corbyn.

It might be thought that  with a majority of Labour MPs opposed to Corbyn it would be easy enough to unseat him as leader within the next year  for only 20% pf the PLC need to nominate a challenger.  But the politics of the situation are much too messy for that to be the case.

The first stumbling block is Corbuyn’s overwhelming victory in the leadership election. To gain nearly 60% of the vote in a four horse race is astonishing. It shows how much a large segment of the Labour Party and its supporters are sick to the back teeth  with the Tory-lite of Blairism.  Nor is that support  a passing fad.  A recent YouGov  poll  showed 86% of Corbyn supporters in the leadership election  think he is doing a good job as leader, a view  shared by 66% of Labour voters.  Corbyn’s electoral mandate alone makes it difficult to mount a challenge to him and  the continued high levels of support he is getting from Labour members  bolster that mandate.  There is also the embarrassing lack of a strong candidate to challenge Corbyn.  Alan Johnson would be an obvious choice but he has more than once made it clear that he is not interested in becoming leader.

But suppose a challenge did arise, would Corbyn be required to gain 15% of the PLP to nominate him or would he be allowed to stand simply because he is leader?  This is not clear because Labour’s “politburo”  the National Executive Council  (NEC) would probably decide the matter.  But which ever  way the NEC decided the PLP would be  in a bind.  If Corbyn  did stand he would in all probability win the contest again, for it is difficult to see how it could be run on a different franchise than the vote which elected Corbyn leader.  Alternatively, if he  was unable to run because the NEC decided he had to meet the 15% of the PLP to nominate him and he was unable to do so,  that would quite reasonably be seen by both Labour supporters and to some degree the public at large as at best shabby and at worst straightforward chicanery.

Ironically, Corbyn has supported the idea of regular  vote to elect or re-elect a leader. During the leadership  election he said this:

“I think there should be an opportunity to elect or not elect the leader regularly, every one or two years – so that we don’t go into this idea that ‘The leader’s vulnerable, we’ve got to get rid of the leader or not get rid of the leader’, because the system is already there in place. Bring back democracy into the Labour Party and the labour movement.”

But even if such a regulation  was put in place,  if the franchise remains much as it is now Corbyn would probably win.   The problem for the anti-Corbynites is the fact that,  for all the absurdity of the day to day circumstances created by his election,  Corbyn represents not just the Hard Left but also a substantial number of voters  who do not want to see Britain getting into yet another futile war, who would be happy to see the utilities (the railways, energy companies and water companies) taken back into public ownership and above all those who have found their lives become more and more  precarious over the past decade or so as inequality has grown.

There are other  methods by which Corbyn might be persuaded to go   such as a mass resignation from his shadow cabinet, a large number of Labour MPs stating publicly he should go   or a vote of no confidence in Corbyn, all depend on the man not being stubborn and resigning. If  Corbyn refused to  resign,  and I suspect he would, they would be a dead letter.

The sad truth is that the Labour Party are in serious danger of ceasing to be a serious Party.  If Corbyn remains for any extended period there is every chance that the Party will split and become as irrelevant as a contender to form a government , either on their own or even  as the dominant party in a coalition.  That would not be healthy because it is not healthy for any democracy to have only one party or political grouping which has any hope of holding office.

Film review- Legend

Main cast

Tom Hardy  as Ronald “Ronnie” Kray and Reginald “Reggie” Kray

Emily Browning as Frances Shea

Christopher Eccleston as Leonard “Nipper” Read  A Detective Superintendent in charge of taking down the Krays

Taron Egerton as Edward “Mad Teddy” Smith – A psychopathic gay man rumoured to have had affairs with Ronnie

Paul Bettany as Charlie Richardson

David Thewlis as Leslie Payne The Krays’ business manager

Chazz Palminteri as Angelo Bruno – The head of the Philadelphia crime family and friend and business associate to Ronnie and Reggie.

Kevin McNally as Harold Wilson

Director Brian Helgeland

This biopic of the East End gangsters  of fifty years ago, the Twins Ronnie and Reggie Kray,   contains a great deal of technological wizardry and an unusual  performance by Tom Hardy who plays both  twins.  The technology is so slick that it allows both Krays to appear on the screen at the same time without any sense that the scenes have been faked,  even when the twins  have an extended fight.

But technological marvels do not equal a good film and Legend has severe weaknesses.  Like many biopics it  tries to cover too much ground, thinking that by ticking off a large number of incidents in a life this in itself produces  the ideal telling of a life.    That may have some merit in a written biography but it is death in a film.  The Krays being violent to establish their claim to be hard men,   Reggie having a brief spell in prison, the murders of  George Cornell and Jack “the Hat” McVitie, and a good deal more simply  flash by. This gives precious little opportunity for character development or a proper examination of  any part of the biographical  subject’s life.

It is true that Hardy’s performance as the twins is remarkable in as much as he invents  two distinct personas  for the Krays; an almost rational albeit violently amoral one for Reggie and a declamatory  character with the hint of a lisp  for Ronnie, who spends the film in a perpetual  state of violence, both suppressed and realised, while hatching crackpot plans for the establishment of a Utopian community  in Nigeria or  saying things which utterly discompose other characters such as  his habit of loudly announcing that he is a homosexual.   Hardy also gives Ronnie a rich behavioural wardrobe of tics and bulging eyes that  seem to be perpetually on the point of shooting out of their sockets. This creates a problem because Hardy’s  Ronnie is so off the wall that he comes across not as a real human being, however flawed, but as a monster created for theatrical effect.

It is true that gangster films often  have a cartoonish element  because of the mixture of  the normal with the abnormal,  for example,  characters frequently engage  in incongruously  normal conversations about, for example, their wives and children during which they often assume a moral position, then engage in some horrific violence.  But such scenes do not dominate films and are often deliberately funny. The depiction of Ronnie in Legend  is neither amusing nor truly threatening.   It also detracts from Hardy’s depiction of Reggie – which is convincing enough when  taken in isolation – because  it is difficult to take seriously either of the characters when one is palpably ridiculous. ( Try to imagine Bond or  Jason Bourne acting against  Norman Wisdom playing  a villain in his  most popular character guise of Norman Pitkin).

But the main  problem with the film is there is simply too much  Ronnie and Reggie .The best gangster  films are those where  there is  strong ensemble playing. Think of the Godfather series or Friday the Thirteenth.  Apart from Emily Browning as  Reggie’s girlfriend and eventual  wife  Frances Shea  (the most convincing scenes are those  between Hardy in his guise as Reggie and Francis Shea)   and (just about)  David Thewlis as Leslie Payne the Krays’ business manager,  the other characters simply do not have the chance to develop because they have so little screen time.  Bewilderingly, the personality who supposedly loomed largest in the Krays’ minds in the real world, their mother Violet (Jane Wood) barely appears, while two  actors  with  substantial  film careers –  Paul Bettany as Charlie Richardson and  Christopher Eccleston as Detective Superintendent Leonard “Nipper” Read  – are variously barely used (Bettany)  or given only a series of scenes so short that their effect is  minimal  (Eccleston).

At the end of the film my thoughts turned to the  1990 film The Krays in which the Kemp brothers from Spandau ballet played  the twins.  In some ways  this was unintentionally  an extremely funny film  because it was set in an unbelievably clean East End;  Billie Whitelaw in the role of the Krays’ mother produced the worst attempt at an East End accent I have ever heard from a professional actress – right up there with Dick VanDyke’s “Gor blimey, Mary Poppins”  – and   Steven Berkoff  enjoyably went an astronomical distance over the top as George Cornell.

But the saving grace of  The Krays was  characters other than  the twins being much more developed. Moreover, the portrayal of the difference between the  Krays was less contrived. Indeed, considering their lack of acting experience at the time  the Kemp brothers  were surprisingly, indeed from their view point, perhaps worrying convincing as the Krays, with Ronnie being a much more believable  character than he is in Legend.  Hence, for all its absurdities  The Krays  is both a more convincing evocation of the twins and considerably more entertaining  than Legend , which  truth to tell becomes rather boring as the film progresses because it is all rather one-dimensional.

Legend is a not  howling flop merely  mediocre. I say this with  regret because Tom Hardy is a charismatic  and accomplished actor, probably the best English  film actor  of his generation.  The subject matter also suits him because he is a convincing hard man with a fine talent for portraying violence.  But in the end the film is too unbalanced, too unbelievable to be either a meaningful biopic or simply a first rate gangster film.

Inside Out does not know its audience

Main Voice cast

Amy Poehler as Joy

Phyllis Smith as Sadness

Bill Hader as Fear

Lewis Black as Anger

Mindy Kaling as Disgust

Richard Kind as Bing Bong, Riley’s long forgotten imaginary friend

Kaitlyn Dias as Riley Andersen

Diane Lane as Riley’s mother

Kyle MacLachlan as Riley’s father

Director: Pete Docter

This is a film with high ambition. It is an  attempt at explaining the workings of the human brain whilst tugging the heart strings of adults and children  by telling the story of an unhappy and insecure child.

At the centre of the film  is an  11-year-old girl named Riley. Her parents have just moved from Minnesota to San Francisco. As a consequence Riley feels isolated and lonely because she has left all her friends behind and everything else which was familiar.

Most of the action takes place inside Riley’s mind, although there are occasional  forays into the interior consciousness  of her  parents.  Headquarters is Riley’s conscious mind which contains  five emotional  personifications: Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust, and Anger. Memories are  represented as orbs  which can be changed by contact with the five personifications.   There are core  memories  housed in a hub in Headquarters  which power five “islands”, each of which reflects a different aspect of Riley’s personality: Family Island, Honesty Island, Hockey Island, Friendship Island and Goofball Island.  The Islands sit over a memory dump where unimportant or unwanted memories are placed.   Aside from all this is an area storing  long term memories.

Joy is the dominant personification and acts as the organiser of Riley’s personality and emotional balance. . Sadness is the other important personification.  A theme running through the film is the fact that   sadness is  not just an unwonted  quality  producing misery  but sometimes  a creative force  which shifts the momentum of the mind by making memories which are sad to be flavoured with poignancy of melancholy so that they become more than just sadness.

There is an oddity with the personifications. Riley’s personifications are divided between  entities which are clearly male or female. Joy, Sadness and  Disgust are female and Anger and Fear male . On the occasions when the personifications of the parents are see the mother’s are all female and the father’s all male.  Was this just slapdash or a conscious decision? I rather suspect slapdash, but either way as the difference goes unexplained it undermines the film’s pretensions to be more than just a cartoon about a child’s negotiating of a difficult period of her life.

Joy and Sadness get accidentally swept into the maze of long-term memory along with the core values.   The rest of the film is devoted to Joy and Sadness struggling to make it back to Headquarters, which they eventually do,  while  Fear, Disgust and Anger are trying incompetently  to keep Riley’s mind  normal, there attempts resulting in the personality islands collapsing into the memory dump leaving Riley without the psychological structure to keep her on the straight and narrow and temporarily depriving her of the better angel of her personality.

Treated as an Odyssey  that is simple enough  and potentially attractive as a storyline.  But there is an insuperable obstacle to the film being enjoyable  and  developing into a well  loved Pixar classic. Inside Out  is very didactic.  To understand what the film is about it is necessary for the audience to take on board the animation’s  instruction on how the mind works or at least the film’s  version of how it operates. That raises  a very awkward question, namely, what is the natural audience for the film?  Will children of Riley’s age honestly follow what is happening?  Will adults for that matter? Or will a somewhat baffled boredom be the result?

Of course there is a second element to the film, the emotional journey of Riley. Will it appeal to pre-pubescent girls  around  Riley’s age? Perhaps but  the portrayal of the girl is what girls of that age would probably see as parents being  patronising superior and “just not understanding them” . That could  either alienate them or be something which  enlists their empathy.  But I doubt whether  it will have any attraction to  boys in the Riley age group because they would  be at best  uninterested in what girls think  and at worst actively hostile.

It is also difficult to believe that either  girls or boys of Riley’s age would have found the storyline exciting.   There is a bit of routine improbably physical cartoon action with Bing Bong , Riley’s imaginary friend  from long ago, helping   Joy and Sadness  to return to Headquarters, but there is little of that and not terribly thrilling at that. The film is so intent on showing how clever it is   – gee, whiz, we’re showing  everyone how the brain works – that those producing it have lost sight of the fact that they are in the entertainment business and their clients are first and foremost children.

That leaves adults. In many modern animations there are a host of knowing jokes for adults but here there are next to none. In fact, make that there are precious few jokes for children or adults.  That leaves emotion engagement. Critics and various mediafolk have made great play about tears flowing as they watched Inside Out,  but the sentimentality is too contrived to be entirely  convincing.

As a serious exposition of how the brain works Inside Out  is a non-starter.   To be a serious exposition it is necessary to properly understand concepts like short and long term memory. Most people will simply think that one lasts  longer than the other, when   short term memory is very short indeed (a few  seconds ) and the relationship between short and long term memory is still much debated in academic circles.  The film gives an impression of certainty where there is no certainty.

There is also a problem with the personified emotions, joy, anger, sadness, fear and disgust. These are presumably meant to be the primary  emotions  which can combine to produce secondary emotions  in the same way that red, blue and yellow are primary colours which can be  mixed to produce other colours. But is it  true that the five personified emotions are really the only primary emotions?  For example,  how would jealousy be created out of  two or more of them? Anger, Disgust  and Fear might be components of jealousy, but there is far more to jealousy than those emotions, for example, greed and  desire.

The animation has met with widespread , indeed fulsome, praise   from critics who see  the film as a penetrating and intelligent drama daringly dealing with the difficult and nebulous subjects of brain function and consciousness  as well as depicting an 11-year-old girl’s  interior world. This judgement I find utterly misplaced. Why has critical opinion been so adulatory? I suspect that it is a film which the chattering classes  feel obliged to praise because of its self-consciously serious intent.

Technically the film is first rate as one would expect from Pixar.  It looks superb and the actors providing the voices do their best to  imbue the characters with distinct personality.   But truth  be told the film is curiously  bloodless,  and whisper it quietly,  distinctly  dull.  In fact,   Inside Out has the tone of the kind of book  Victorian children had  vainly thrust upon them to instruct the child in moral improvement . There was a large component of children of the Riley age group  in the audience when I saw Inside Out . They were remarkably silent.  Was that because they were entranced or because they were unengaged?  I rather suspect it was the latter.

Politically incorrect film reviews – Dear White People broadcasts the wrong message

Main cast

Tyler James Williams as  Lionel Higgins

Tessa Thompson as  Sam White

Kyle Gallner as Kurt Fletcher

Teyonah Parris as Colandrea “Coco” Conners

Brandon Bell as  Troy

Malcolm Barrett as  Helmut West

Dennis Haysbert  as the Dean

Justin Dobies as Gabe

Peter Syvertsen as President Hutchinson

Director: Justin Simien

Dear White People  cannot make up its mind  whether it should be  a comedy  out of the National Lampoon Animal House stable  or a serious drama.  At one moment there are halfway decent jokes such as a college radio  broadcast  announcing  that the minimum  number of black friends a white person must have if they were not to be called racist had been raised from one to two  with white listeners  reacting in panic-stricken fashion and at another ritual  expressions of  PC horror because a blackface party organised by white students is going to be held. This is a shame because the subject  – black students in a white dominated Ivy League university – has considerable possibilities for either form of film.

The film is  set in Winchester, a fictitious Ivy league university where the majority of students are white. The university’s white President Hutchinson (Peter Syvertsen) has decided to place students in  campus  accommodation on a colour-blind basis.  This is met with resistance  in an all-black  residential house  known as Armstrong/Parker.  A film production major and mixed-race  girl Sam White (Tessa Thompson)  unexpectedly wins the election for who is to be head of Armstrong/Parker  beating  Troy (Brandon Bell),  the son of Winchester’s  Dean and uses her position to begin  agitating for  Armstrong/Parker  to remain  all black.

Sam also  has her own college radio station named Dear White People which   unblushingly pushes black stereotypes of whites such as her broadcast requests  “Dear white people … please stop dancing”, “Dear white people please stop touching my hair. Does this look like a petting zoo to you? “  When  the black dean  of Winchester (Dennis Haysbert)   tells her that the Dear White People broadcasts are racist  she responds  “ Black people cannot be racist. Racism describes a system of disadvantage based on race “. When challenged by her  boyfriend  Gabe (Justin Dobies ) about how she would feel if someone started  Dear Black People broadcasts,  her  smug black victimhood response is “No need. Mass media for Fox  make it clear what they think of us.”    You get the idea of where she is coming from.  Except you do not get the full picture because  her boyfriend is white and she has a secret liking for Taylor Swift, a distinct no no for a right-on black.

This type of  blurring of character is used frequently  in the film to demonstrate not that  everyone is the same under the skin,  but to offer an excuse for  further wallowing in black victimhood. The black students at Winchester U cannot complain of lack of opportunity or of being treated in a demeaning way, but they can still have a great appetite for  playing the victim.  This means they have to be  inventive. One of the ways is to claim that even privileged  blacks like them are under tremendous strain because  whites expect blacks to both conform to a stereotype  and be experts on black culture,  or at least experts on  what is perceived by both black and white as black culture. Lionel Higgins (Tyler James Williams) as a black gay student  who does not feel very black is the prime example in the film as he admits “I listen to Munford and sons and watch Robert Altman films”  and is told by a white girl on the student newspaper he wants to write for  that “You’re only technically black”.

Simien  is both black and gay and  judged by the screenplay he has produced, so obsessively  concerned about both that the need for basic  dramatic structure is tossed aside.    It is also a problem that he  wrote the screenplay as well as directing. This is always a difficult duality, particularly as the film is his first attempt at feature length direction.  It was also crowdfunded so there was not the usual  studio oversight.  Having a free hand as writer and director may sound fine in theory but it rests a great deal  on the individual who has the free hand.  In this case it is a serious mistake, not least because Simien is  very green as a  director.   This  inexperience shows because he  is  clearly under the impression that cramming in everything about a subject will result in a good film. The problem with this approach is that it destroys any plausible narrative as scenes  streak by without any continuous dramatic coherence holding them together. One can imagine Simiens  whilst directing ticking off one by one the  “what blacks think of whites”  set pieces he has created.

Examples of these set pieces are :

Mixed race light skinned blacks do better in a white world that dark skinned blacks. This is hung on the difference between in treatment of mixed race Sam White  and  authentically black Coco Connors (Teyonah Parris) by a white TV producer  of  TV reality show “Black Face/White Place” following Sam’s story but , rejecting  Coco pitch for a show  “Doing Time at an Ivy League”.

Troy has a white girlfriend which is seen not as integration but simply as a ploy white girls pull when they want to annoy their parents.

There is a good deal that is deliberately  non-PC  in the  film. A  white   hoax invite to the  party which causes outrage  is sent out  with an invocation to  “Liberate Your Inner Negro”, Sam White is described as “like the pissed off child of Spike Lee and Oprah”  and   Sam’s white boyfriend says “ I’m sick of your tragic mulatto bull” . But it has very little effect both because  there are too many “outrage” words and storyline  (even the most committed liberal or black activist can only be outraged so many times) and because of the unconvincing  nature of the outrage  shown.

On top of this jerky narrative there is the crude realisations of both the  characters and the drama such as it is.  The film  is littered with clumsily constructed stereotypes. Troy (Brandon Bell )  is the non-threatening black  who says things such as “I really don’t see the issue. Never ran into any lynch mob.” ; Sam White the threatening black;  Troy’s father ( Dennis Haysbert )the paranoid black parent  desperate for his son not to give whites  a chance to belittle him by  trying to make a career as a comedy writer instead of  being in a  respectable professional  occupation;  Kurt Fletcher ( Kyle Gallner) is the arrogant white boy with a hint of racism.

The comic book nature of the film as it moves swiftly from satirical point to satirical point robs  the actors of any chance for substantial character development. Within those confines  they all make a good fist of things with  Kyle Gallner and Brandon Bell being  especially convincing as the stereotypes they were asked to portray.

What is fascinating about the film is that  it contains  considerable anti-white racism,  but  Simiens seem to be oblivious to it.  The  white characters are allowed only subordinate parts   while the black characters remain centre stage. Black characters  have many jibes against whites while the white characters are allowed only a few token ripostes  but they are very token, for example,    Kyle Gallner  ventures “Sometimes I think that the hardest thing to be in the American workforce is educated white guy”. Consequently, the portrayal of whites in the film is  ultimately derogatory  whereas the blacks who are shown in less than a flattering light are in a different category. They may have prejudices about whites but these  are presented as being a consequence of  white racism both historical and present day.   The message of the film is that blacks may be ostensibly  racist  but the should not be censured or even mildly disapproved of because of the historical legacy, but whites are there to be pantomime villains to be booed at every opportunity.  Most probably this is not  a deliberate propaganda ploy by Simien but simply an unconscious  reproducing what is the default position for politically conscious blacks and white liberals.

There is a sharp  comedy of manners to be made of the relationship between whites and blacks in a privileged situation but this is not it. Ditto a really biting satire on white liberal mores when faced with  racial questions and the comfort blanket of black victimhood.  What the viewer is left to view  is a cinematic and ideological mess which is too soft centred to even provoke outrage.

Defend your national territory  or lose it

Robert Henderson

The present attempts of migrants from around the Mediterranean and  beyond to effectively invade Europe have brought the long simmering immigration threat to a head.  First World   politicians can no longer pretend it is under any sort of control. The question those in the First World have to answer is  gruesomely simple: are they willing  to defend the their own territory as they  would if faced with an armed invader  and by doing so preserve their way of life and safety , or will they allow a fatal sentimentality  to paralyse the entirely natural wish to stop invaders until the native populations of the First World are at best a tolerated minority in their own ancestral lands and at worst the subject of acts of genocide.

The Prime Minister of Hungary Victor Orlan  has had the courage to point out  something which is obvious but anathema to the politically correct elites of Europe, namely, that  immigration on the current scale will result in Europeans becoming a minority in  their own continent with a consequent loss of European values.  Anyone who thinks that Europe (and the rest of the First World) is not in danger should think on these facts:

  • The population of the world is approximately 7 billion. At the most generous estimate only one billion live in the First World.
  • The population of the world is estimated to grow by another two billion by 2050 with all the growth being in the Third World.
  • The white population of the world is projected to be in a minority in Europe and North America by 2050.
  • The First World already has large minorities of those from racial and ethnic groups whose antecedents are in the Third World and who have had their sense of victimhood at the hands of whites  fed assiduously by white liberals for over 50 years. Once established in a First World  country they agitate for the right to bri9ng relatives over and to relax immigration control generally. A  recent report by the think tank Policy Exchange estimates that one third of the UK population with be from an ethnic minority by 2050.
  • Political power in most of the First World is in the hands of politicians who are quislings in the service of internationalism   in its modern guise of globalism.
  • Those working in the mass media of the First World share the ideology of First World politicians with bells on, missing no chance to propagandise in favour of mass immigration.
  • The First World is funding its  own destruction by feeding the Third World with huge amounts of Aid . This promotes war throughout the Third World (providing a driver for Third World  immigrants to the First World) and, most importantly, increases the  populations of the Third World which rapidly outstrip the  economic carrying capacity of their societies.

At present the mainstream media in countries such as Britain and the  USA are voraciously feeding the public what amounts to unashamed propaganda  to persuade them to accept not merely huge numbers of Third World immigrants now,  but an ongoing and ever increasing stream in the not too distant future as the invading hordes gather around the Mediterranean waiting for their chance to entered the promised land of the rich European states of the north.

It is easy to be swayed by photos of  a  young child who has died or   boatloads crammed to the gunnels with miserable looking people  to the point where the resolution to defend your native territory is overridden, but look at the aggression and sense of entitlement the invaders, for  that is what they are, as they battle to leave Hungary. They are in the position of supplicants but far from begging for help they demand as a right that they be let into the richer countries of Europe.

There are very few if any places outside of Europe and  the Anglosphere countries of the United Kingdom,  North America, Australia and New Zealand  which have any serious history of freedom and the rule of law and even amongst that group only the Anglosphere has  enjoyed  both an uninterrupted political system of representative government and been free of civil war for a century or more.  These are countries which have the very rare and valuable attribute of having worked out a social and political system which creates peace and tolerance. That seriously at risk because of mass immigration. Does anyone believe  for example, a that Britain in which there was a Muslim majority would remain a Parliamentary democracy or have any regard for free expression?

Those amongst the native populations of the  First World who propagandise in favour of mass immigration do so in the belief that they will be untouched by the immigration because they live in affluent areas where immigrants cannot generally settle. Not for these people state schools which “boast” that “there are 100 languages here”; not for these people a need for increasingly scarce affordable (social)  housing  in places such as London; not for these people having to use grossly over subscribed medical services in their area.  These people think they are safe  from the effects of mass immigration,  but if it continues their children and grandchildren will not be so lucky. There needs to be a penalty for those who promote and facilitate mass immigration, for example,  forcing them to take immigrants  into their homes and be responsible for their upkeep .

Mass immigration  is conquest not by armed force but by those who are come equipped only with their victimhood and misery and, most potently, the  mentality of the elites in the First World who subscribe to the idea of white guilt and the white populations of the First World who have been browbeaten  into believing that they cannot have any world other than a globalist world which includes huge movements of peoples. We are seeing the scenario described by Jean Raspail begin to play out.

Homo sapiens is the social animal par excellence. All social animals need boundaries to their group because trust has to exist between the members of the group. Human beings can tolerate very large numbers in their group, but there is a limit. To be a member of a functioning human group,  whether that be tribe,  clan or nation,  the members or the group must share sufficient distinguishing behaviours and  attributes to create the necessary trust. Putting huge numbers of people with very disparate background together cannot create that trust. Anyone who doubts that should try to find any society where territory is shared by different racial or ethnic groups  that does not have inter-group discord,. They will not find one in history or the present.

If you wish to save your country ignore the  misery now being waved in your face and concentrate not on the immediate present but the future.  Say no to further mass immigration by voting to leave the EU because while Britain is in it nothing can be done to stop massive numbers of immigrants continuing to come to Britain.  Leaving the EU will  remove from our political elite any excuse for not stopping the causal destruction of our country.

The Tories and Blairites were ideologically hidebound fools to underestimate Corbyn

Robert Henderson

The attitude of Tories towards Jeremy  Corbyn ranges from amused condescension to  an unseemly childlike  and profoundly undemocratic glee as they  dream of a country with no serious political opposition to hinder them .   Blairites respond with poorly disguised incredulity  to the probability  that  a man who does not buy into the NuLabour credo will become the next Labour leader and gnash  their teeth and wail that  a Corbyn led  Labour Party will be at best  cast into the wilderness of opposition for a decade or more and at worst rent asunder never to be a serious political force again. In the mainstream media, most of whom  have sold their souls to the idea of free markets, free trade and the general paraphernalia of globalism, articles and editorials  forecast the end of days if Corbyn becomes  Prime Minister.

Interestingly, this hysteria  has not diminished   Corbyn’s popularity one whit and will  probably help fuel   his rise to what promises to be victory in the leadership race without the second preferences being counted.   Why has Corbyn  garnered so much support? The quick answer is he  offers  an alternative to the free market, free trade religion which has been fed incessantly to the public for decades as the only possible economic system for a modern state.

This immediately gives  the man  pull with those who have old Labour values, but he has attracted a much  wider range of support.  The young have flocked to his meetings.  Surprising at first glance in view of Corbyn’s age, but readily understandable  when it is remembered that   British politicians generally have either failed to comprehend or refused to admit that the world they have created over the past 30-40 years is much tougher and more uncertain for today’s young than it was for them when they were young,  with housing now hideously expensive, well paid jobs difficult to come by and university education leaving graduates with a debt of £40,000 or more and no suitable jobs to go to.   Corbyn is offering concrete policies to help them, not least a huge social housing programme.

But it is not just the young who are suffering.  There are millions of older people of working age through to those in retirement who no longer live a life with any real security, as they struggle with ever increasing private rents and zero-hours contracts.   Corbyn speaks to them as he speaks to the young.

Finally,  there are the huge numbers of people from  across the political spectrum who detested the  wars which Blair dragged Britain into and have a strong animus towards Blair himself.   Corbyn shares their views,  going so far as to state  that Blair should be tried for war crimes.

Why did the  British political class so misread Corbyn’s potential?  The Tories as a breed are simply insensitive in their approach to the poorer sections of society.  This is epitomised by their inability to understand that to those  living lives of great economic  uncertainty  there is nothing more enraging than to be constantly told  the colossal lie “We are all in this together” by rich politicians, as happened  in so often Britain after the Lehmann crash in 2008. They simply assumed that those who were not comfortably off and secure in their jobs and housing  could be ignored.

The most striking thing about  the Corbyn phenomenon is not that he looks as though he will win the leadership election with policies which bear some resemblance to Labour’s old core values. No, the real eye-opener is  how out of touch the Labour elite have become with the lives of ordinary people.  They  either believed  they could manipulate the vote to get the result they wanted  no matter what the electoral process was or so believed the Blairite gospel  of free markets and globalisation that they simply could not conceive of people voting for someone who had the audacity to suggest that Old Labour ideas of state ownership and a disengagement from military adventures  were the way forward.    Whichever reason it was, the Labour leadership was willing to agree to a new electoral process which chooses  the party leader  on the basis of  a  one man one vote  with the vote   granted   to  not only existing party members , but also to affiliated union members and every Tom, Dick and Harry who coughed up £3 to register as a supporter..

The potential dangers for the  Blairites in such a system (entryism from the left, enemies of the Labour Party voting and so on)  should have been obvious,  but they would have remained unimportant  had  Corbyn  been unable to get sufficient support from Labour MPs to go on the ballot form. If there was no Corbyn in the race all that would have been left were varieties of  Blairite to choose between.  The Labour elite’s blind belief in the unshakable dominance of Blairism is shown in the readiness of Labour MPs to give Corbyn enough votes to put him on the ballot.    Many who gave him their  vote  admitted it was simply to ensure there was a left wing candidate in the leadership, race much as Diane Abbott  was placed on the ballot for the previous leadership election.   When Corbyn entered the race his candidature was treated as a joke by the Tories and as of no more than a sentimental wave to Labour’s past.

In summary Corbyn is running rings around the other candidates because:

1) He offers something different. With him there is an alternative. The Blairites have been so  feeble because like all dominant politicians they have not had to argue their case within Labour  for a very long time. They ended up believing their own propaganda. Moreover, their case was never strong because Blairism is essentially Tory-lite plus political correctness writ large.

Blair hollowed out the Labour Party of all its core values: Thatcher did the same for the Tory Party. All we are left with are two neo-liberal internationalist parties wedded to globalism and political correctness.   Corbyn is offering the  chance of restoring some of those lost values to Labour.

2) Blairites and Tories are portraying Corbyn as  a member of the extreme left. This is objectively wrong.   Had Corbyn been putting forward his present ideas  thirty years ago as Labour MP he would have faced accusations of being a centrist sell-out. Worse for the Blairites they do not understand that many people who are  not rabidly left wing would welcome the energy companies, water companies, the Royal Mail and British Rail being returned to  public ownership because they understand instinctively that absolutely essential aspects of the economy should be in public hands. For such people this does not seem like leftwingery but a government just looking after the national interest. Ditto protectionist measures to protect British industry.

3) The people who attack him including the other candidates and many Labour MPs  offer no real argument against him. All they do is point at him  and say either that he is absurd or is living in the past.  They offer no  real argument against what he proposes. On economics his opponents simply assume that anyone who does not unreservedly  buy into the laissez faire religion is either mad or bad. The Tories and the Blairites are both making the mistake of imagining that pointing at Corbyn and shouting “socialist”, “looney left”, “nationalisations”,  “unions” will make him   profoundly politically toxic to the British electorate.

4) When he is attacked over potentially seriously damaging  issues such as  being rather too eager to sup with  terrorists or  the anti-semitic,  his accusers go way over the top.  For example, on his supposed  equivalence between Isis and the USA in Iraq, Corbyn has condemned Isis pretty emphatically and simply said that where the USA has behaved badly it is reasonable to say that should be condemned as well. Or take his wish to see the railways renationalised by letting the licenses run out. All the laissez faire gentry are saying it cannot be done because of the cost and legal quibbles over ownership of assets such as rolling stock.   This is obvious nonsense because the East Coast line was taken back into public ownership without any cost or difficulty and run efficiently.   The effect of such exaggeration negates the criticism which could reasonably be put on Corbyn.

5) In the present circumstances Corbyn has the priceless asset of not having an aggressive personality. That makes the increasingly angry  attacks on him seem absurd.

6) Corbyn actually answers questions rather than trotting out soundbites. Moreover, his answers mostly show he has been well prepared on anything which is likely to crop up. You may  not agree with his policies – I disagree with many of them – but at least Corbyn presents a coherent plan of action for this policies.

7) He doesn’t panic when asked awkward questions.

8) Unlike the three other candidates Corbyn is a recognisable human being, someone untrammelled by focus groups and advisers or years in office being controlled by the party elite

  1. The other candidates haven’t got an ounce of personal authority between them. You watch them robotically trot out the NuLabour mantras and think, God, is this the best the Labour Party can do for a leader?

All that Corbyn promises may well turn out to be pie-in-the-sky. But that is to miss the valuable public service the man is doing.  If Corbyn becomes leader, and perhaps even if he does not but makes  a strong showing, the timeworn  consensus between the Tory and Labour Parties will be broken. That alone  would be a healthy development because it would force not merely the Labour Party to develop and justify its ideological position but also shift the Tory Party from a blind belief in laissez faire economics.

Corbyn, although a strange bedfellow, also has great utility for those who wish to leave the EU. He has given strong indications that he might well move to the OUT camp. To have the leader of one of our two major parties  campaigning to come out would be a massive boost to the OUT campaign.

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