Islam is simply incompatible with Western society

Robert Henderson

Seventeen people have  been murdered in the two terrorist attacks in Paris  (between  7-9th January 2015). Ten were journalists, including some of France’s leading cartoonists,   working for the  French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. To them can be added two policemen, one policewomen and four  members of the general  public who happened to be unlucky enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.  The attacks were made on the Charlie Hebdo offices and  the  Jewish supermarket Hyper Cacher. The policewoman was shot in a separate incident.

The terrorist acts  were coordinated to produce maximum effect. That on  Charlie Hebdo was by the  brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi , who were of Algerian ancestry.  A third  brother Mourad Hamyd aged 18  was at school at the time of the Charlie Hebdo attack and has spoken to but not been detained by the police. The attack on a Jewish supermarket  was undertaken by a Mailian  Amedy Coulibaly.  He also killed a policewoman before his attack on the Jewish supermarket.  Coulibaly’s wife, Hayat Boumeddiene, who is of Algerian ancestry,  is thought to be another Muslim fanatic with homicidal tendencies. She is believed to have fled to Syria after  the shooting of the policewoman.

Those who died  at the Charlie Hebdo office were slaughtered  by men  shouting Allahu Akbar (God is great), “We have avenged the prophet!”  [for cartoons of making fun of Mohammed published by Charlie Hebdo) and just to make sure the message got across “Tell the media that this is al-Qaeda in Yemen” .   Cherif Koachi also said in a telephone  interview with a magazine  after the killings that the plot was financed by  al Q aeda The Jewish supermarket killer  introduced himself to frightened hostages  with the words ‘I am Amedy Coulibaly, Malian and Muslim. I belong to the Islamic State’.  All three killers  either expressed a wish for martyrdom or  behaved in a way in which was guaranteed to get  them killed.   All three were shot and killed by French security forces.

Unless  you are a particularly stupid and self-deluding  liberal  and have either persuaded yourself  that  this was a black op and the killers were agents of the wicked old West or have fallen back on that old liberal favourite  that the killers  are not true  Muslims  – congratulations to the Telegraph’s Tim Stanley for being so quick off the mark with that piece of shrieking inanity   –  you will think these are Muslim terrorists.  (The next time you encounter someone spinning the “not true Muslims” line ask them whether  the Crusaders of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries were Christians).

Sadly there are many liberals who have not learnt the lesson dealt out by these atrocities. It is true that there has been almost complete condemnation of the killings by the liberal elites around the Western world, but one wonders how unqualified and sincere their regret and anger is.  Apart from the  liberal apologist  mantras  “not true Muslims”, “Just a tiny minority of Muslims” and “Islam is the religion of peace”   being  much in evidence, there has  been a disagreeable media eagerness to portray the killers as sophisticated military beasts. Here is a prime  example from the Telegraph:

“They wear army-style boots and have a military appearance and manner. One of the men wears a sand-coloured ammunition vest apparently stuffed with spare magazines. Some reports suggest that an attacker was also carrying a rocket-propelled grenade launcher.

“The men attacked the magazine’s headquarters with clinical precision, killing their victims and then shooting two police officers in the street outside.

“Amateur footage shows them using classic infantry tactics. They move along the street outside the office working as a pair: one advances while the other gives cover.

“Instead of spraying automatic gunfire, they fire two aimed shots at each target – a pattern known as “double-tap” firing – thereby conserving their ammunition.”

Shades of white liberals in the 1960s drooling over the Black Panthers in the USA  .

The truth is that the attackers did not behave like highly trained soldiers, and some of the reporting was simply wrong, for example, after the slaughter the killers,  as was widely reported , did not walk calmly back to the stolen  car  they were using but ran.  When they abandoned the car one of the killers left his identity card behind. After the murders at Charlie Hebdo the  two killers drove around  like headless chickens hijacking cars and holding up petrol stations to obtain food and water.  If they had really been cold, calculating beasts they would either have stayed where they were after the Charlie Hebdo killings and died in a firefight with the French police or arranged matters so that they had a hiding  place  to go to and  would  carried things like a little  food and water with them.  The widespread media  depiction of them as quasi-military figures glamourized and sanitised what they were.

The British political mainstream response

But it would be wrong to say nothing changed in Britain after the attacks. The Ukip leader Nigel Farage broke new ground for a mainstream British politician in modern Britain  by speaking of  a fifth column of people who hate us within Britain.

“There is a very strong argument that says that what happened in Paris is a result – and we’ve seen it in London too – is a result I’m afraid of now having a fifth column living within these countries.

“We’ve got people living in these countries, holding our passports, who hate us.

“Luckily their numbers are very, very small but it does make one question the whole really gross attempt at encouraged division within society that we have had in the past few decades in the name of multiculturalism.”

This was predictably  condemned by David Cameron, a  man who incredibly  still believes Turkey within the EU would be of great benefit to all concerned,  despite the anger and dismay in Britain about mass immigration generally making the prospect  of 70 million Turkish Muslims having a right to move freely within the EU certain to be  utterly dismaying to most native Britons. Interestingly, a would-be successor to Cameron as Tory leader, Liam Fox,  edged a long way towards reality in an article for the  Sunday Telegraph:

“All those who do not share their fundamentalist views are sworn enemies, whether Muslim or non-Muslim, Arab or non-Arab. It is the first lesson that we must understand – they hate us all because of who we are, our views, our values and our history. Western liberal apologists who tell us that the violence being directed at us is all of our own making not only fail to understand reality, but put us at increased risk.

“We must understand that there are fanatics who cannot be reconciled to our values and who will attempt to destroy us by any means possible. They are at war with us. They do not lack the intent to kill us, merely the means to do so, and our first response must be to deny them that capability. Sometimes that will require lethal force.”

The fact that Farage also condemned multiculturalism in no uncertain terms  provoked an automated politically correct response from the leader of the Liberal Democrats Nick Clegg:

“The Deputy Prime Minister hit out after Mr Farage suggested the attack on the offices of a satirical magazine should lead to questions about the UK’s “gross policy of multiculturalism”.

“I am dismayed that Nigel Farage immediately thinks, on the back of the bloody murders that we saw on the streets of Paris yesterday, his first reflex is to make political points,” Mr Clegg said during his weekly phone-in on LBC radio.

“If this does come down, as it appears to be the case, to two individuals who perverted the cause of Islam to their own bloody ends, let’s remember that the greatest antidote to the perversion of that great world religion are law-abiding British Muslims themselves.

“And to immediately … imply that many, many British Muslims who I know feel fervently British but also are very proud of their Muslim faith are somehow part of the problem rather than part of the solution is firmly grabbing the wrong end of the stick.”

Such  condemnations are of little account because Farage has spoken an obvious truth and the general public will understand that.  The promotion of multiculturalism has been generally pernicious because it wilfully creates serious divisions within a society,  but is unreservedly toxic in the case of Islam because Muslims,  violent and non-violent, believe in the supremacy of their religion.

The change of language by public figures particularly politicians is of the first importance because the general  public need a lead to be given where a matter is contentious. In these politically correct times it is particularly necessary  because the native population of Britain have been thoroughly intimidated by the totalitarian application of political correctness which has resulted in people saying non-pc things  losing their jobs, being arrested and,  in a growing number of cases , being brought before a criminal court to face charges.

Once things  forbidden by political correctness are  said by public figures change could be very fast. More and more people will embrace the forbidden words and ideas and, like a dam bursting, the  flood  of non-pc  voices will  overwhelm the politically correct restraints on speech and writing.

A tiny proportion of  Muslims

The  claim is routinely made by the  politically correct Western elites and “moderate” Muslims  that those committing terrorist atrocities are a tiny proportion of Muslims.  That is pedantically true but unimportant,  because it is to misunderstand the dynamic of terrorism which rests on a pyramid of commitment and support for the cause. At the top are  the leaders. Below them are those willing to carry out terrorist acts.  Supporting them will be those who make the bombs, acquire guns and so on. Below them will come those who are willing to raise funds through criminal behaviour such as extortion and drug dealing and administer  punishment – anything from death to beatings –  to those within the ambit of the group who are deemed to have failed to do what they were told or worse betrayed  the group.  Next will come those willing to provide safe houses for people and weaponry.  Then there are  those willing to provide information and come out on the streets to demonstrate at the drop of a hat.  At the bottom of conscious supporters will come the  “I disagree with  their methods but…”  people.   They say they support the ends of the terrorists but do not support terrorist  acts. This presses the terrorist demands forward because the public will remember their support for the ends and forget the means because it is the ends which engage the emotions . Those who are familiar with the Provisional IRA during the troubles in Northern Ireland will recognise this  character list  with ease. Moreover, even those from a community from which  terrorists  hail who refuse to offer conscious support  will   aid the terrorists’  cause by providing in Mao’s words “the ocean in which terrorists swim”.

There are differences in the detail of how terrorist organisations act, for example,  PIRA operated in a quasi-military structure  with a central command while Muslim terrorism is increasingly subcontracted  to individuals who act on their own. But however a terrorist movement is organised  the  general sociological structure of support described above is the same  whenever there is a terrorist group which is ostensibly promoting the interests of a sizeable minority and that minority has, justified or not, a sense of victimhood which can be nourished by the terrorists . Where the terrorists can offer a cause which promises not merely  the gaining of advantages by the group but of  the completion of some greater plan its potency is greatly enhanced.  Marxism had the communist Utopia and the sense of working towards final end of history; the great religions offer, through the attainment of some beatific afterlife, the favour of God’s will for their society and the completion of God’s plan.  Islam has those qualities in spades.

All this means that  though the active terrorists may be few , the effectiveness of the terrorist machine relies on large numbers who will offer some degree of support.   Consequently, the fact that the number of Muslims committing terrorist acts may be a tiny proportion of the total Muslim population is irrelevant. What matters is the pyramid of support which at its broadest will  include all Muslims because it is the total population which provides “the ocean in which the terrorist  may swim”.

There is also good evidence that large minority of Muslims in Britain support the methods of  Islamic terrorists, for example an NOP Poll in 2006 found that around a quarter of  British Muslims  said the  7/7 bombings in London in July 2005 were justified because of Britain’s involvement in the “War on Terror”.  There is also plenty of British Muslim support for the imposition of Sharia Law on Britain and some  Muslim children are confused as to whether it is Sharia Law or British Law  which is the law of the land. There are also growing numbers of Sharia Courts in Britain which allow disputes between Muslims to be decided outside of the British legal system.

Importantly,   it is not a case of just  the poor and the ignorant only holding  such views. Young educated Muslims are  if anything more enthusiastic than the average British Muslim to have Sharia Law with 40%  in favour and no less than 32% favouring killing  for Islam if the religion is deemed to have been slighted in some way. All of this points to a considerable reservoir of support for the ends of Muslim terrorists if not always the means.  Many Muslims in the West  would not be prepared to engage in violent acts themselves ,  but they would quite happily accept privileges for their religion and themselves won by the sword.

How should the West react to Muslim terrorism?

How should the West react?  In principle it should be simple. There is no need for gratuitous abuse, no need for laboured reasons why Islam is this or that. All that needs to be recognised  is that Islam is incompatible with liberal democracy because in its moral choices it is a belief system  which runs directly counter to liberal democracy and has as  its end game the subjugation  of the entire world.

What effective  action can Western governments do to prevent the gradual  erosion of  the values upon which their societies are built? ? There are three general  possibilities. These are:

  1. Logically, the ideal for any Western government committed to their country’s national interest would  be to expel all Muslims from their territory as a matter of policy with no legal process allowed.   That is because  (1) there is no way of knowing who will become a terrorist;  (2) a large population of Muslims provides the “ocean in which the terrorist swims “ and (3)  any action disadvantaging Muslims short of expulsion will breed terrorists.
  2. A less comprehensive programme would be to block all further Muslim immigration, ban all Muslim religious schools,  cease funding any Muslim organisations, deport any Muslim without British citizenship, remove the British citizenship of any Muslim with dual nationality and deport them back to the country  for which they hold citizenship.  The question of legal aid would not arise because  their would be no appeal allowed as the policy deals in absolutes: you are a Muslim either without British citizenship or with dual nationality and you qualify for deportation . The difficulty with that set of policies is it would  allow a large population to remain within the West and would create resentment amongst that population which could lead to terrorism.
  3. The least dynamic government action would be to implement programme 2 but allow any Muslim with British citizenship or long term residency to appeal expulsion through the courts. That would have the disadvantages of programme 2 plus the added opportunity for endless delay as appeals are heard and re-heard. Such a system would also require legal aid to be given if the judicial process was to be sound.

Will anything like this happen? Most improbable at least in the short term.  The West is ruled by elites who worship at the altar of  political correctness.  Theirs in a fantasy world in which human beings are interchangeable and institutions such as the nation state  are seen as  outmoded relics as homo sapiens marches steadily towards the sunlit uplands of a world moulded and controlled  by  the rigid totalitarian dicta of  political correctness .

For such people the mindset of anyone willing to die for an idea is simply alien to them.  Even more remote to these elites  is the belief that there is an afterlife which is much to be preferred to life on Earth. Most damaging of all they cannot conceive of people who have no interest in compromise and consequently will be remorseless in their pursuit of their goal. The liberal  mistakenly believes that simply by contact with the West will  the values the liberal espouses be transferred to the rest of the world. This incredibly arrogant fantasy can be seen at its most potent in their attitude to  China, which is  quietly but efficiently creating a world empire by buying influence, and in the Middle East and North Africa where the attempt to transfer liberal  values by a mixture of force and material aid has been a shrieking failure which mocks the liberal every second of every day.

Because of such ideas Western elites are only too likely to keep fudging the issue and conceding, not necessarily right away, more and more privileges to Muslins within their societies. They will also probably greatly increase funding for “moderate” Muslims to enter Schools and Mosques to teach Western values. This will drive many young Muslims towards extremism not away from it because however the teaching of British or Western values is conducted it will inevitably be seen as a criticism of Islam.  Older Muslims will also be angered at such  teaching of their children.  Anything the liberal is likely  to do will simply be throwing  petrol on the fire.

What is required is the replacement of the present elites either by removing them from power or by them changing their tune utterly.  The first is improbable in Britain because of the structure of the voting system  which hugely protects the status quo and a complicit mainstream media which shares the devotion to political correctness and manipulates access to favour parties and politicians which play the politically correct game.

But the changing of political tune is a real possibility because liberals are starting to get truly frightened as they realise things could get seriously out of control if Muslim terrorism continues to occur. There is also the fact that white liberals  recognise in some part of their minds that what they ostensibly espouse – the joy of diversity – is bogus.  This can be seen by how they so often arrange  their own lives  to ensure that they live in very  white and in England very English circumstances. The  massive white flight away from places such as  inner London and Birmingham bears stark witness to this.  Being capable of the greatest self-delusion they explain their hypocrisy by telling themselves that this is only because the great project of producing a country, nay a world, fit for the politically correct to love in, has tragically not been fully realised yet because  the outmoded non-pc  ideas and emotions still exists  as people have not yet been educated to see the error of their primitive ways such as believing in the nation state and a homogenous society. But in their heart of hearts they know they would dread to live in the conditions to which they have sanguinely consigned the white working class.

Liberals  may also have the beginnings of a terror that their permitting of mass immigration, the promotion of multiculturalism and the suppression of dissent from their own native populations will soon come to be called by its true name, treason. All these fears will act as a motor to drive the liberal elites to become more and more realistic about what  needs to be done.

The question every non-Muslim  in the West needs to answer is this, do you really believe that if Muslims become the majority in a Western country they will not do what Islam has done everywhere else in the world where they are  in the majority and at best place Islam within a greatly privileged position within the state or at worst create a Muslim theocracy?  Even Turkey, the liberals’ favourite example of a Muslim majority secular democracy, is rapidly moving towards a position when it cannot meaningfully be called a democracy or secular as Islamic parties gain more and more leverage and the Prime Minister Erdogan becomes ever more autocratic.

If a person’s answer to the question I posed is no, then they need to answer another question, do I want to live in such a society? If  their answer is no then they must  be willing to fight for their way of life or the “religion of peace” will change their society beyond recognition.

When I hear someone describing Islam as the “religion of peace”  I am irresistibly reminded of the aliens in the film Independence Day emerging from their spaceship yelling “We come in peace” before blasting every human in sight.  The white liberals who peddle into the “religion of peace” propaganda should be constantly called upon to explain why it is that a “religion of peace” can be so unfailingly successful in attracting people who say they subscribe to it yet are unremittingly cruel and violent.

Film review – CitizenFour

Main appearances

Glen Greenwald

Ewen MacAskill

Edward Snowden

Director: Laura Poitras

Running time : 114 minutes

Robert Henderson

This documentary about state surveillance revolves around Edward Snowden as interviewee  and the journalists Glen Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill  as interviewers . The interviews were primarily conducted in Hong Kong  to where Snowden fled before moving to Russia.

As a man who has been much in the news  since June 2013 but little seen and heard,  it is naturally intriguing to see what Snowden is made of when interviewed at length i with a further enticement to watch  being the  possibility that he might reveal some dramatic new details of state misbehaviour.  Consequently, it might be thought  the  film  would contain plenty to interest and alarm anyone worried about the imbalance between the power of the state and civil liberties.  Sad to say  there is little to excite  the  viewer because Snowden comes across as a distinctly colourless  personality  and there are no startling important new revelations. Worse,  there is something essential   missing: nowhere is there any serious  attempt to test either the veracity of the information Snowden made public or his declared motivation.

Whenever someone whistle blows on a  state apparatus those receiving the information are presented with what might be called the “double agent” problem. Is the whistle-blower what he seems? Is he telling the simple truth or is he working to his own or  another’s  agenda?  Snowden   could logically  be in any one of these situations:

  1. He is telling the truth about the information he provides and his motives.
  2. He is acting voluntarily as a covert agent of the US state.
  3. He is acting voluntarily as an agent of a foreign state.
  4. He is acting voluntarily on behalf of a non-state actor.
  5. He is acting under duress from any of the actors in 2-4.

I did consider  the useful idiot option but could not see how it  could exist in this case. Snowden is clear as to his ostensible motivation – horror at the gross breaching of personal liberty by his government – so it is difficult to see how he could have been duped in any way. He strikes me as politically naive but that in itself does not make him a useful idiot.

Possibilities 2-5 went unexplored. They did not even press  Snowden strongly on how he was paying his way since his flight. (Always ask about the money. I once badly threw David Shayler at a public meeting simply by asking how he was funding his life). Being on the run is an expensive business. Snowden  had quite a well paid job but not that well paid. It is possible that he might have stashed away, say, $50k but that would not last long when he is living in very expensive places such as Moscow and Hong Kong, especially as people would know who he was and be likely to bang up things such as rent. Unless he is getting help from the Russian government, a surrogate for the Russian government or from the media how would he survive? Until  we have solid proof of how he is existing his bona fides cannot be established.

That left only possibility 1, that   Snowden  was simply telling the truth. However, the film failed even there. The two interviewers simply asked Snowden questions and accepted his answers at face value.

How plausible is Snowden as the selfless idealist he portrays himself as?  In the film he  appears to be surprisingly little troubled by his  predicament.  This could be reasonably interpreted as someone who had his present position worked out in advance of his whistle blowing  (All the shuffling about in Hong Kong  before going to Moscow  could have just been to substantiate his claim that he was acting of his own volition or, less probably, perhaps China had agreed to give him sanctuary and then changed their minds).  Not convinced, then ask yourself how likely it is that anyone would have been willing to blow the gaffe on US state secrets without having the assurance that afterwards he would be in a place safe from the US authorities?  After all, If Snowden is  ever brought to trial in the US it would be more or less certain that he would get a massive prison sentence and , in theory at least, he might  be executed for treason.

Then  there  is Lindsay Mills, the partner  Snowden ostensibly left behind without explanation. She has  joined him in Moscow.  When Snowden speaks in the film of his decision to leave Mills  without explanation,   he tells the story with an absence of  animation that would not have disgraced a marble statue.  All very odd unless the story that he left her in the dark was simply a blind to both protect her and provide a veil of confusion as to his whereabouts immediately after the initial release of information.

As for Mills she made a number of entries to a blog she ran after Snowden’s flight to Hong Kong.  . Here’s an example:   “As I type this on my tear-streaked keyboard I’m reflecting on all the faces that have graced my path. The ones I laughed with. The ones I’ve held. The one I’ve grown to love the most. And the ones I never got to bid adieu.”  Would  someone who is supposedly seriously traumatised  produce such a studied attempt at what she doubtless sees as “fine writing”?  Anyone care to bet that she was not in on the plot all along?

Snowden also engages onscreen  in some very unconvincing bouts of paranoia such as covering his head with a cloth  in the manner of an old time photographer  to avoid a password he is putting in to his computer  being  read .  He also shows exaggerated  at a fire alarm going off repeated and unplugging a phone which keeps ringing on the grounds that the room could be bugged through the phone line. Well, it could be but so what? Provided  Snowden only said  what he was  willing to have included in the film it would not matter if his conversations with the documentary makers were  bugged. It all seemed very contrived.   I am an experienced interviewer and to me  Snowden’s behaviour was unnatural throughout and seemed to be  Snowden self-consciously  acting out what he believed would be the behaviour of someone in  his position.

The fact that he went untested by hard questioning in itself is  suspicious. One can allow a certain amount for the ineptness of the questioners (see below), but the only reason he was not pressed at all can only be that the makers of the film and Snowden agreed in advance that he would not be pressed.

Apart from the stark failure to press Snowden adequately, the questioning of Greenwald and  MacAskill’s   was  woefully inept.  Neither had any idea of how to build a line of questioning or how to play a witness.  For  example, one of the most difficult disciplines an investigator has to master is to allow the person being questioned to do as much of the talking as possible without being prompted .  That necessitates  being patient and tolerating  long periods of silence when the person being questioned  does not reply to a question quickly.  Those who have seen the film American Hustle  will remember the Christian Bale and Bradley Cooper characters.  The Bale character understands the art of taking your time, letting a mark come to you rather than you going to them. Cooper’s character is for ever messing up Bale’s plans by rushing in and pressing matters.  Obviously in a documentary you cannot allow silence to continue for very long, but even allowing a minute’s silence  can be very revealing of a  person who is failing to answer. Irritatingly, Greenwald would not let Snowden stew in silence for even a moment.

Greenwald’s  other major shortcoming is that he loves the sound of his own voice far too much and has an irritating habit of delivering platitudes in a manner that suggests he is offering ideas of the greatest profundity.   MacAskill  was palpably nervous and  routinely asked innocuous questions and,  after they were asked, seemed pathetically relieved that he had put a question, any question.

Apart from the interview with Snowden, there was little of interest to anyone who is seriously concerned about  state surveillance because it was all widely known material bar one item. This was a recording of a remarkable  court hearing in the USA which AT&T phone customers took action against the state  over unwarranted surveillance which showed the US government lawyer arguing in effect that  the case court had no jurisdiction over the matter and being soundly slapped down by one of the judges.

Is the film worth seeing?  Probably only as a documentation of Snowden’s personality.  It reveals nothing new about the extent of the misbehaviour the US state or properly examined why and how Snowden did what he did. Nor would the film  be likely to educate someone who was ignorant of the subject, because the details of what the US government  had been up to were offered in  too piecemeal a fashion for a coherent idea of what had happened to  emerge  for someone starting from scratch.

 

Out of Africa thesis for modern Man growing ever more dubious

Robert Henderson

A 400,000 year old  fossil shell with geometric-style  marks thought to have been deliberately made  on it by Homo erectus  has been discovered in  in Java.  If this is true, and the marks do indeed look  deliberate,  then it is strong pointer to a form of Homo  considered  decidedly primitive compared with modern Man  having an ability to think abstractly and to translate that thought into physical representation. The discovery is impressive because it pushes  back the possession of such an ability hugely beyond  the advent of  Homo sapiens  150,000-200,00 years ago.

If this is a correct interpretation of  the marks on the shell it has a profound  implication: the closer the shape of intelligence in older forms of Homo to those of younger  forms,  the stronger the likelihood of interbreeding because general behaviour  in  the older and younger forms would have had considerable similarities.

This is important both in itself and because it undermines the Out of Africa theory, which has been in the ascendency arguably since Darwin fingered Africa as the birthplace of Homo.   The latter reason has great political resonance in the West because it can be fitted neatly into the predominant liberal internationalist credo of the First World. It allows the liberal internationalist to place their claim that humanity is just one big family  without any meaningful difference on the supposed rock of a common ancestry. Even better for the liberal, the common ancestor happens to be found in the part of the world whose populations are  of particular interest to  the white liberal, namely, those of  black Africa.

When interbreeding of different species of Homo is introduced into the picture it shows  human populations living today  as being more genetically  diverse than the Out of Africa theory allows and removes the claim, overt or by implication, that ultimately all human behaviour  and achievement derives from  the descendants of Africans.  Most devastatingly for the liberal  it raises  the possibility  that the  widely differing cultures humans have created  are at least in part,   a consequence of   genetic differences between varieties of Homo.  Moreover, because Man is differentiated profoundly by culture, the widely accepted definition  of a species – a population of freely interbreeding organisms sharing a common gene pool –   is  unsatisfactory,  for  clearly Man is  more  than  an  animal  responding   to   simple  biological   triggers.  When   behavioural differences  are perceived as belonging to a particular group  by  that group  as differentiating  members of the group from other  men,    they perform the same role as  organic differences for  they divide Man  into cultural species.

It is true that so far the amount of genetic difference attributed to interbreeding is small, perhaps 1-3% of Neanderthal genes in  modern Man outside of Africa .  There are two points to bear in mind. First, a small difference in genetic profile could have a profound effect on ability and behaviour.  The most crippling and dangerous diseases can be the result of a single gene differing from the norm.

If it is accepted that genes have  a fundamental role in shaping behaviour and  general personality, then differences in genetic makeup, even if they only affect a small number of genes,  could be marked.  Do genes have such as  role? It is difficult to see how they could not,  because  to maintain that they do not  would in effect be to argue  that all parts of the body are subject to genetic control but those responsible for the functioning of the mind.  There is also the evidence from animal breeding  that  behavioural and temperamental traits can be successfully enhanced  through selection directed by humans, dogs being the prime example.  It would be very odd if the human template was so  completely different from that of  animals  that  in this one respect it was utterly  different.

But interbreeding could also  create important external physical changes which had the potential to alter behaviour both of those who acquired the changes and those  who did not. For example, analysis of Neanderthal DNA suggests that breeding between  Neanderthals and Homo sapiens in Europe and Asia  was at least partially responsible for modern  Europeans and Asians  having  lighter skins and possibly straight  hair.

The second consideration is that humans have been distinctly rare for most of human history.  Estimates are obviously very  difficult to  make for the distant past but, for example, the US census department gives an estimate of between 1-10 million for 10,000 BC.    A small population would be more susceptible to both a valuable mutation spreading  rapidly through it and to maintaining the mutation.  That would enhance diversity  within  a sizeable population in a specific area such as Europe..

The evidence for interbreeding  between different varieties of Homo  has been growing in recent years through the  vast technological improvements in DNA retrieval and reading.  From this comes  objective evidence that modern Man outside of Africa has Neanderthal ancestry.  The gene sequencing of a third species or subspecies of Homo, the Siberian Denisovans also shows evidence crossbreeding with Asians.  There is also a another  candidate for interbreeding  as  yet  unnamed.

This may just be the tip the  interbreeding  story because discovered  human fossils , though  much more plentiful now than they were even fifty years ago, are still very meagre.  Fossils are placed in  general type classifications such as  homo erectus and Homo habilis which may have substantial differences in form or are classified as this or that from very incomplete fossils.  Interbreeding could have been much more varied  than the present evidence shows.   If  so,  the amount of genetic mixing could be far greater than is presently imagined, because  it would not simply be a case of two distinct species or varieties of Homo mating,  but the descendants of  differing varieties of Homo who have mated then  mating with other hybrids whose hybridity is  of a different type.  For example, suppose there were four different types of Homo in the same geographical  area. Types 1 and 2 mate. Their children are hybrids. Types 3 and 4 mate. Their children are hybrids. The children of 1 and 2 then mate with the children of  3 and 4 producing further hybrids.  Of course, this type of interbreeding would apply to sub-Saharan Africa as well as the rest of the world, so that any emigrants from Africa into Eurasia would almost certainly be carrying a mixture of genes from various forms of Homo.

Another  interesting  trait  is that  members of a  species  will  have different  breeding  propensities  across its  distribution,  that  is, members of the supposedly single species will breed differentially with different parts of the total species population.  For example,  take an animal  which is common to Europe and bring individuals from  different geographical parts of the continent together and it may be that those found in the  East of  the distribution  will be less likely or refuse altogether to  mate with the those in the West.  These barriers to breeding are clearly not purely due to major differences in physical biology. Probably there is a strong component of behavioural difference which reduces the propensity to breed.

It  is worth adding that the traditional concept of a species is far from secure. It is a man-made classification which is often found wanting. For example,  the North American Ruddy Duck and the  European  White-Headed Duck are classified as separate species.  The introduction of the Ruddy Duck  to  Europe has resulted in widespread interbreeding  between  the supposedly  separate  species to the extent that  conservationists  now fear for the survival of the White Headed Duck.  It is also true that a growing  amount  of   traditional  taxonomic  classification  is  being overturned by DNA analysis.

There is nothing surprising about varieties of  Homo interbreeding.   Many animals of  closely related species could produce offspring if they were willing to mate as can be seen from the successful human instigated  inter-breeding  by artificial insemination of, for example, lions and tigers and inter-species mating in the wild.  The offspring  of such intra-species breeding , whether artificial or in the wild,  are  often sterile, but not invariably.

Animals use various triggers to breed: aural, chemical, condition of feathers  and so on. These are seemingly automatic processes whereby one individual responds to another without conscious thought. Even behavioural triggers such as mating rituals can be viewed in the same light, although in such cases the process of acceptance and rejection may include an element of  higher understanding  as such a ritual is often complex and it is not easy to see exactly how it could be a simple programmed response.

Man, although not divorced entirely from  such triggers, adds conscious thought to the process of mate selection. Does that  put Man in an entirely separate category to all other organisms, namely,  the one organism who can potentially breed freely across the entire species population?  Potentially yes but in practice no,  for Man’s capacity for conscious thought and decision making does not mean  his breeding is not constrained by the triggers which control other organisms, especially behavioural. For example, most people choose mates who are of the same race as themselves even when they have ample opportunity  to do otherwise.

Nonetheless,  any organism with a degree of self-consciousness and,  perhaps even more importantly,  language  could and almost certainly would go far beyond  the triggers to separation of animal species which  have neither significant consciousness nor,  most importantly, language.   The possession of language in particular would provide a means to overcome any reluctance to breed with those of a different variety of Homo, for it would not only allow a means to share and discuss ideas with their own tribe or band, but also to communicate with mates  of a different  variety.

Even if some or much of the interbreeding took place by force,  language would still be a facilitator because it would make the females seem to be similar to females from their own tribe.  There may even have been the practice of swapping females between tribes or bands of different varieties of human, a practice evident  amongst tribal peoples even today.

The cranial capacity of extinct t varieties of Homo is often used as the starting point for assessing their mental capacity. But size of brain is not everything. Oliver Cromwell had a cranial capacity of 2,000 cc; the novelist  Anatole France one of less than 1,000 cc.   Neanderthals had an average brain size larger than that of modern  humans.   The shape of a brain with differing emphases on its various functions is also taken as a pointer to mental capacity,  for example, Neanderthals  are routinely   said to have  more of the brain devoted to sight and body control, which  implies less  capacity for social interaction skills and abstract thought.  However,  this  supposed difference from Homo sapiens is still a matter of debate amongst academics and there is growing evidence  of Neanderthal cultural sophistication.  Indeed, research published in early 2014 concluded:

Modern humans are usually seen as superior in a wide range of domains, including weaponry and subsistence strategies, which would have led to the demise of Neanderthals.”

“We have found no data in support of the supposed technological, social and cognitive inferiority of Neanderthals compared to their contemporaries…their demise was clearly more complex than many archaeology-based scenarios of ‘cognitive inferiority’.”

If the mental capacity  and behavioural sophistication of older forms of Homo was much greater  than  has  often been conjectured,  the willingness and ability to mate  with them by more advanced forms would have been more frequent.  The evidence of the fossil  shell  mentioned at the beginning  points to behaviour which we would consider very human a very long time ago.  Another impressive  ancient example of ability in older forms of Homo has recently been found  at a 350,000 year-old  site in Israel  where there is evidence  of regular and controlled use of fire.   It may be that the likes of Homo erectus and  Homo habilis were far more like Homo sapiens than they are given credit for and  later forms ever more so the nearer they come to the present.

The times they are a-changing

Robert Henderson

What has changed over the past year?

I sense that political correctness has passed its high point. Like all totalitarian creeds,  it is in reality  failing when it is  seemingly at its most dominant. That is because  all totalitarian creeds become ever more obviously  detached from reality  as they invariably become ever more extreme as the practitioners and enforcers of the ideology compete to show who is the purest ideologue.  It is also catching more and more people who may have thought themselves safe from suffering any penalty from being non-pc in its clutches, for example, the Wigan FC chairman Dave Whelan, not least because of the  growing ubiquity of digital devices available to record  both the spoken and written word, so that even private utterances or writings are vulnerable to hacking, deliberate surreptitious  recording or  in the case of that which is written , the discovery of thoughts by third parties.

There has also  been a considerable change in the past twelve months   in the rhetoric on three vital matters: immigration, withdrawal from the EU and the political representation of England within a  devolved UK.   All have become much more in line with reality, both social and political.  The change in the case of immigration is especially striking.  None of this  has as yet been translated into practical action,  but honest talk about subjects for long treated as beyond the Pale by mainstream politicians and media  is encouraging and is an essential prelude to meaningful action.  The more the rhetoric moves towards reality, the harder will it be for the political elite to control matters.  There is a genuine  possibility of  both an IN/Out EU referendum in 2017 and  English Votes for English Laws after the 2015 General Election.

An EU referendum

Many of those  supposedly in favour of the UJK leaving the EU are fearful  or say they are that a referendum in the near future would be lost and talk of years of preparation of the electorate before a referendum is held. Richard North is a prime proponent of this argument.   It holds no water for two reasons. First,  if Britain remains within the EU we shall become ever more entwined in its coils to the extent that  Britain would l find it very difficult to legally leave the EU.  This process is  already well in hand  as the recent signing up to 35 Justice measures,  including opting in again  to the European Arrest Warrant, demonstrates.  This has happened despite  the profound implications of the  handing of such power to the EU. Why was there no referendum? Because  the European Union 2011  Act, only  makes the holding of a referendum  necessary  on  the granting of entirely   new powers to the EU and/ or extending existing powers if the powers are part of an EU treaty concluded after the Act passing into law in 2011.

This failure to refer very important  transfers of power to a referendum is no accident. There are no new treaties on the horizon for the very simple reason that the Eurofanatics fear they would l lose  any referenda on another treaty and they cannot avoid such referenda because some countries such as France, the Republic of Ireland  and now the UK  require a referendum on a treaty to transfer further powers to Brussels. (The UK  law could be repealed or amended  to restrict the opportunities for a referendum,  but that  is unlikely  because Ed Miliband has committed himself to it).

The second reason not to shy away from a referendum in the near future is simple. Suppose the worst happens and the  referendum is lost . That is not the end of the matter. Rather it is the beginning as the Scottish referendum aftermath has demonstrated.    A referendum would provide opportunities  to put forward the case for coming out  in depth  in the mainstream media over a sustained period and  to energise the electorate. That would provide the platform for future IN/OUT referenda. By its nature nothing is ever permanently settled in a democracy.

English votes for English laws

Even in its  purist form with only English seat MPs voting on English laws this is not a permanent solution, but it is a staging post to an English Parliament.   Once established it will quickly become clear that there will be perpetual dissent over what are English-only laws, squabbles over the continuing existence of the Barnett Formula and the practical difficulty of having a House of Commons where the majorities for UK business and English business might be different, for example, a  UK wide  majority for Labour  or Labour led coalition, either relying for MPs from seats outside of England for their majority and a Tory majority in England.

The Tory and LibDem proposals put forward by William Hague today in publication The Implications of Devolution for England  are messy with two of the  three Tory options  fudging  matters by not restricting the proposal and the voting on of English-only legislation to English-seat MP and  the  LibDem proposal   being a blatant attempt to smuggle in proportional representation by the back door by suggesting that an English Grand Committee be set up with its members selected to represent the proportion of votes each party . They also have a superb recipe for balkanising England by allowing different levels of  representation on demand with differing  powers  if a city,  council or region seek them. Labour have not put any proposals formally forward because they refused to join discussions on fitting England into the devolution mix.  I will deal with the subject in greater depth in a separate essay.

The most dangerous general global threats are plausibly  these in this order

  1. Mass immigration.
  2. Islam – It is a simple fact that serious unrest is found wherever there are large numbers of Muslims.   When I hear Muslims and their liberal supporters proclaiming that Islam is the religion of peace I am reminded irresistibly of the film  Independence Day in which the aliens emerge from their spaceship proclaiming “we come in peace”  before blasting everyone in sight to smithereens.

3 Uncontrolled technology, which leaves the developed world in particular  but increasingly the  world generally,  very vulnerable  to suddenly being left without vital services if computer systems fail naturally or through cyber attacks.  The glitch over the UK air traffic control gives a hint of  how vulnerable we are.

The most dangerous specific  threats to global peace and stability are:

–              The heightened tension between China and the rest of the far East (especially Japan) as a consequence of China’s flexing of territorial ambitions.

–              China’s extraordinary expanding  shadow world empire which consists of both huge investment in the first world and de facto colonial control in the developing world.

–              The growing power of India which threatens Pakistan.

–              The increasing authoritarianism of the EU due to both the natural impetus towards central control and the gross mistake of the Euro.  The Eurofanatics are playing with fire in their attempts to lure border states of Russia into the EU whilst applying seriously damaging sanctions to Russia. It is not in the West’s interest to have a Russia which feels threatened or denied its natural sphere of influence.

–              The ever more successful (at least in the short run)  attempt of post-Soviet Russia to re-establish their suzerainty over the old Soviet Empire.

 

Antibiotic resistance has the potential to be another man-made warming mania

Robert Henderson

A team led by the  economist Jim O’Neill has just published their findings  into a review of   the resistance to antibiotics by bacteria.  The review was ordered by David Cameron.

The research concluded that as things stand the growing inefficacy of antibiotics would result in as many as  ten million extra deaths a year  throughout the world by  2050 and an economic loss  from these deaths of  £64 trillion over the period  (or as much as £128 trillion if additional healthcare costs are added in).

Ominously O’Neill has consulted with Lord Stern, the global warming religionist, and likens the situation with antibiotic resistance to  that of  the manmade  global warming  mania:

“Mr O’Neill said he had consulted closely with Lord Stern, the President of the Royal Academy who carried out a landmark investigation into the threat from climate change for Tony Blair, about parallels between the two threats and possible responses.

“But he added that, despite the vastly higher public profile of climate change in comparison with drug resistance, there is greater consensus about the danger to humanity from the latter.

“It feels to me, from the scientific knowledge, that there is more certainty about this being a problem,” he said.

“Now I’m somebody that is very sympathetic to the climate change case … but, with the kind of debate that goes on and data, it feels to me that there is more certainty about this becoming a problem over a reasonably short time period.

“He added: “In some ways to try and solve is a little bit like climate change, because we are talking about the problem getting a lot bigger in the future than it is today and what we are presuming … that the cost of stopping the problem is significantly lower than the cost of not stopping it.”

He goes on to say that recommendations will be made next year as to what might be done to save us from this doomsday through international agreement on action, action which you can bet will be to reduce the use of antibiotics. It is also likely to result in yet more demands for Aid to the developing world because “  The inquiry’s initial estimates suggest that while the crisis will affect rich and poor countries alike the developing world will bear the brunt.”

O’Neill is correct in likening this threat to the man-made global warming circus, but not for the reason he believes.  Both are problems which are inherently unsolvable through the means of restricting  the use of the agents which produce the  supposed or real damaging effects.

The rule of Occam’s Razor (don’t multiply entities unnecessarily or keep things simple)  is in operation here in it most potent form.  In the cases of both global warming and antibiotic resistance the entities can be reduced to one: the size of the population outside of the First World  in the first case and the fact that bacteria know no geographical boundaries  in the second case.

For the man-made warming  problem the reducing emissions solution  fails because of the  size of the population in the world outside of the First World. There are approximately 7 billion humans alive today. At the most generous estimate only a billion of those live in the First World.  If the six billion people who do not live there raised their  carbon emissions to only half that of the average of  the First World,  the amount of carbon in the atmosphere  would greatly exceed the levels  judged to be dangerous by climate scientists.  Moreover, it is most unlikely that the carbon emission levels of the developing world  would  remain at only half the First World average. Indeed, they may well  end up exceeding the first world average as the developing world  generally uses dirty fossil fuels without regard to emissions.  Nor is there anything the First World can do to prevent  them continuing to behave like this.   Consequently, the only sensible course of action is to watch and see how things develop and devote resources  to ameliorating whatever ill effects may arise if  climate change,  whether natural or man-made,  produces  circumstances which threaten human environments.

The idea that bacterial immunity to antibiotics can be meaningfully prevented by restricting their use is  different from man-made global warming  in that it is an unequivocal fact that it exists.   But  like man-made global warming the remedy of  restricting its use  is a pipe dream  because all countries would have to agree to such a regime and enforce it.

In many countries, including a good number in Europe,  antibiotics do not require a prescription and they can be purchased as easily as a pack of aspirin in Britain. If one country or even a group of first world countries – say, the EU states –  were to restrict antibiotic use  it would make no difference in anything other than the short run  because bacteria know no boundaries.  Eventually, bacteria with immunity would take as hosts those whose countries had restricted the use of antibiotics.

The other fly in the ointment is the widespread use of antibiotics in animal husbandry.  When animal products from such animals  are eaten they will pass on small but significant   amounts of antibiotics. That will over time will build antibiotic resistance.

In both the case of restricting direct antibiotics to humans and in their indirect transmission through animal products , there is zero chance of getting global agreement to restrict their use and to take  serious action to enforce the restriction. Therefore, it is  pointless  to try to restrict their use. Therefore, it is  at best pointless to  discuss such measures and at worst a distraction from what needs to be done.

What should be done? Governments need to initiate a large and perpetual publicly funded  programme of research to firstly constantly search for new antibiotics and secondly to examine new approaches to attacking infections, for example, by discovering ways to destroy bacteria by  irradiation.   If it is left  to Big Pharma  the research they will undertake will be both insufficient in terms of unearthing new antibiotics and in investigating new approaches, viz:

“Drug-resistant bacteria, viruses and other pathogens are on the rise as the discovery of new medicines has failed to keep pace with the evolution of the bugs.

This is partly because the pharmaceutical industry moved out of antibiotic research en masse over the last decade and a half due to tough regulations and poor returns on investment, though the pattern has started to reverse.”

British Future report says 25% of British adults want all immigrants repatriated  

Robert Henderson

The think-tank British Future has recently published  the report How to talk about immigration based on research conducted by ICM, Ipsos MORI and YouGov. The report purports  to provide a blueprint for both the pros and antis in the immigration debate  to manage the subject  most effectively in public discussion.  This is not something which they achieve because they have bought into the internationalist agenda, viz: “Some three or four generations on from Windrush, it is now a settled and irreversible fact that we are a multi-ethnic society. Managing immigration effectively and fairly in the public interest  should and does matter to Britons from different ethnic backgrounds. We should be suspicious of approaches that sharply polarise British citizens along racial lines, in whatever direction”.

Nonetheless the research  does have much of interest.  One finding  is truly startling. Faced with the question  “The government should insist that all immigrants should return to the countries they came from, whether they’re here legally or illegally”  the result was Agree 25%, disagree 52% and neither 23%. (P17 of the report).  In addition, many of those who said no to forced repatriation were also firm supporters of strong border controls and restrictive  immigration policies.

The fact that 25% of the population have overcome their fear of  falling foul of the pc police and say that they do not merely want immigration stopped but sent into reverse is  stunning. Moreover, because political correctness has taken such an intimidating place in British society it is reasonable to assume that a substantial number of those who said they disagreed did so simply out of fear of being accused of racism.

The obverse of the immigration coin was shown by the question “In an increasingly borderless world, we should welcome anyone who wants to come to Britain and not deter them with border controls” (P16 of the report).  The results were 14% agree, 67% disagree and 19% don’t know.

That only 14% support such a policy compared to the 25% who  wished for forced repatriation is striking in itself, but  it is even better for the  opponents of immigration than it looks for two reasons. First, the 14%  of those who agreed with the question will be the honest figure because to say that you want open borders carries with it no penalties from the pc police  and will gain the person brownie points amongst the politically correct elite and their auxiliaries. Second,  as already mentioned, the 25% of those wanting forced repatriation of all immigrants will understate the true position because a significant proportion of those questioned with be lying out of fear.

The report also shows that older voters are more likely to be those who are most strongly opposed to immigration (P11 of the report).  That is important because older voters are the most likely to vote.

Taking all that into account  it is reasonable to assume that a referendum with the question “Do you wish to end mass immigration?”  would result in a solid probably overwhelming YES vote.

These facts  should persuade politicians that they would risk nothing if they move much further to restrict  immigration than they have already done and in so doing would  gain  considerable  extra electoral support.

This may well happen. Public rhetoric  about immigration is rapidly hardening There will come a tipping point where  the rhetoric  has departed so far from the politically correct position that serious  action to restrict immigration will occur because the stretch between rhetoric and action will  become too great to sustain in a society where governments are elected.

A party political  bidding process on the  subject of immigration is already taking place  and there will come a point where serious action has to follow  or there will be a very real chance that either one or more of the mainstream parties will become irrelevant and be superseded, or members of the mainstream parties will wrest control of these parties from their pc indoctrinated leadership  and adopt a policy on immigration  closer to what the public wants.

The other important effect of greater political honesty in political utterances about immigration is that it makes  it much easier for people generally to speak openly about their feelings on the subject and to lobby for radical action.   In  turn this will feed the desire of politicians to gain electoral credibility by being  ever former in their immigration policies.  Indeed, the only reason that the present immigration has been allowed to develop is because the subject has been effectively wiped off the public debate agenda since the 1970s.

Film Review – Fury

Main cast

Brad Pitt as US Army Staff  Sergeant. Don “Wardaddy” Collier

Shia LaBeouf as Technician Fifth Grade Boyd “Bible” Swan

Logan Lerman as Private  Norman “Machine” Ellison

Michael Peña as Corporal  Trini “Gordo” Garcia

Jon Bernthal as Private First Class . Grady “Coon-Ass” Travis

Jason Isaacs as Capt. “Old Man” Waggoner[

Director:  David Ayer

————————————–

Robert Henderson

“I am tired and sick of war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, for vengeance, for desolation. War is hell. “General William Tecumseh Sherman

A director making a film about war should reflect Sherman’s simple truth that it is hell.   Anything short of that  is no more than  cruel propaganda. Fury does fall short in the end, although it contains much that rings  true.

It is Germany in April 1945. Staff Sergeant  Don Wardaddy Collier (Brad Pitt)  is captain of a Sherman tank nicknamed Fury.   Collier  and his crew of  four  of Swann, Garcia, Travis and Elllison  (respectively played by  LaBeouf,  Peña, Berthnal and Lerman ) are taking part  in the snuffing out of the last desperate throw  of  Nazi Germany.  All but Ellison have been with Collier fighting their  way from North Africa to Germany.

Whatever pity there  may have been in them has been leeched away by the brutality they have seen  and the primal desire to stay alive, the latter  fact made unusually pressing because  Sherman tanks were no match for the German Tiger tanks and had a nasty reputation for going up in flames with little provocation. (The Allied troops satirically named them Ronsons after   a popular lighter of the time which sold itself under the slogan “Lights up first time, every time”).

For an hour the film is just what a war film should be: full of the harsh dark humour of soldiers who live with  fear as their constant companion,  cruelly violent, horribly destructive of  men  and  a sentimentality  free zone.

Collier  displays a Patton-like harshness to  the new recruit  Norman Ellison.    He  is a very young soldier who is  replacing Fury’s  newly killed  assistant driver. He has zero experience of tanks, his  previous role in the army being  that of a clerk/typist . Why is he assigned to a tank? Because casualties make him Hobson’s choice.

Unsurprisingly Ellison’s is unfitted for the work not merely through inexperience but  psychologically.    His  first task is to clean up the mess in the tank left by the dead man’s wounds.  He vomits as he scrapes some flesh off his place in the tank.  In his first taste of real  warfare  he fails to fire on Germans which results in another  tank being destroyed.  The commander  of the tank falls out of the tank in a ball of flame and shoots himself in the head  with his pistol to stop the agony.

Collier slaps Ellison  around and tells him he has to learn to kill Germans or he is worse than useless . Soon  forces Ellison to shoot a defenceless  SS officer who has been captured, which Ellison does with the greatest reluctance  and only with Collier holding Ellison’s finger over the trigger and forcing him to fire the gun.   After a few more engagements  Ellison gets the message: kill or be killed and even admits that he enjoys slaughtering  Germans and becomes an accepted part of the tank crew, although he never quite seems to be at home in the tank as the other four crew members are unselfconsciously at home.

So far so good, but around  the hour mark sentimentality crashes into the action.    Collier and Ellison enter a German  home and find a woman in her thirties and her niece.  At first their meeting  is all tension. Then  Ellison sits down at a piano and starts playing music  from some German sheet music.  Unasked the niece comes across and sings the song  which belongs to the music. Before you  can say knife  the niece and Ellison disappear into a bedroom from which they  emerge  later as instant  sweethearts, having, it is implied, had sex.    This implausible nonsense is thankfully cut short by further fighting in the town which results in the niece being killed.  But the sentimental marker has been put down and stays with the film.

The final half hour or so is the plot of the Alamo adapted for  World War 2.   Fury hits  a mine, sheds one of its tracks and is immobilised.  Unable to move with the tank,  the crew find themselves  in the path of  a group of  SS  soldiers several hundred in number.  They are  seen  coming from a fair way off so tank crew have plenty of time to decide what to do. The sensible thing would be to retreat on foot.  Collier orders his crew to get going  whilst making it clear that he is staying to attack the column using the immobilised Sherman tank’s guns.  In true Boy’s Own fashion the other four men agree to stay.

The tank then  takes on the role of the fort in the Alamo.  The SS soldiers arrive and the tank crew are able to spring a surprise attack.  So far so realistic. We are then treated to some of the most preposterous  battle  scenes ever filmed.  SS men keep popping up obligingly to be machined gunned, shot with small arms or obliterated by the  tank’s cannon. For most of this action Collier is standing exposed on the top of the tank using its heavy machine gun.  But this being Hollywood he does not get hit until all but the one of his tank crew (Ellison) have been killed . Then, incongruously , in view of his long exposure to the enemy without a sniper taking a pot shot at him, he is shot twice by guess who, a sniper.

With Collier wounded  and now inside the tank , Ellison slips through  an escape hatch in the bottom of the tank and hides underneath it.  Collier is finally killed in the time honoured way infantry deal with tanks, namely, by climbing onto them, opening the command hatch, tossing a grenade in , closing the hatch and jumping off the tank before the grenade explodes.  Ellison hides  under the tank until the SS column has moved on, although not before a very young SS soldier sees him there but does not raise the alarm.  Ellison is found in the morning by  American troops and his survival is complete.

If the film ends  disappointingly by relapsing into Hollywood vacuity, there is sufficient in it to make it watchable. The main actors all give strong  performances.  Pitt is convincing as a tough as teak  tank commander ; the   LaBeouf character is one of those quietly  competent people any group in a tight corner is glad to have with them,  Peña  is louder but just as reliable  while  Berthnal  has something of the savage about him but nonetheless he is someone  would be glad to have by your side when there is danger about.    Lerman  is  the least likeable main character, not least because even when he has got over his reluctance to kill,  he always appears to be on the edge of  losing his nerve and in the context of the lives the tank crew are living his fear in some curious way seems to be a kind of disloyalty to the rest of the group.

The battle scenes are convincingly  done apart from the final “Alamo” stand. The most intriguing sequence is of the Sherman  Tank and a German Tiger  tank performing a two dimensional dog fight, with the more manoeuvrable  but inadequately armoured  Sherman desperately trying to get behind the less agile but much superior in armour and gunpower  Tiger to attack  the Tiger’s one weak spot ,  the rear of the tank. Shades of the old fighter pilot’s tactic of getting above and behind an enemy before attacking.

You will not be bored by this film, but a much superior tank centred story  is the Israeli film Lebanon (2009). This is set in the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 2002. The entire action is filmed from within the tank with any outside action being shot through the bombsight.  The film gives you much more of the claustrophobic  reality of being part of a tank crew.  All the good things about Fury are there  without the distraction of implausible battle scenes and unwonted  sentimentality .

Who should vote in an IN/OUT EU referendum?

Robert  Henderson

Who will be allowed to vote in a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU? Will it be anyone resident in Britain? Everyone with citizenship of an EU member state who is resident in Britain?  Everyone resident within the European Economic Area (EEA). Or would it be just  British citizens?  This is a vitally  important issue for the OUT camp  because the broader the franchise, the greater the advantage to those who want Britain to remain a captive of the EU.

Suppose the  qualification to vote in the EU referendum was the same as that for the recent Scottish independence referendum. This  was

“The following groups are entitled to be on the electoral register for the referendum:

  • British citizens resident in Scotland.
  • Commonwealth citizens resident in Scotland who have leave to remain in the UK or do not require such leave.
  • Citizens of the Republic of Ireland and other EU countries resident in Scotland.
  • Members of the House of Lords resident in Scotland.
  • Service personnel serving in the UK or overseas with the armed forces who are registered to vote in Scotland.
  • Crown personnel serving outside the UK with HM Government who are registered to vote in Scotland.

The key difference from normal voting arrangements is that the minimum age for voting in the referendum will be 16 instead of 18. This means that people who will be 16 years old by 18 September 2014, and are otherwise eligible, can register to vote.”

That would mean  anyone resident in  Britain who was registered to vote in one or more British elections, whether national, local or for the EU,   would be allowed to vote in the EU referendum . The consequence of that would be to allow millions of people who were not British to vote. There would be Republic of Ireland citizens, EU nationals from EU states other than the RoI  and qualifying Commonwealth citizens  “who  must be resident in the UK and either have leave to enter or remain in the UK or not require such leave”.  All of this covers a surprisingly wide range of nationalities.

To use such a qualification would be greatly to the disadvantage of the OUT side.  This would be for these reasons:

  1. Immigrants of all sorts would have a vested interest in Britain remaining within the EU,  because outside of the EU Britain would be able to properly control her borders provided her politicians had the will. This would potentially, and almost certainly in actuality,  make both future immigration more difficult and reduce  the benefits  available to immigrants.  For example, the bringing into Britain  of relatives could be curtailed or stopped entirely. The total number of immigrants with a nationality other than British resident in Britain is an estimated  five million. Of these around two million are nationals of other EU states.  The foreign born figure is higher with around 8 million foreign born in Britain.
  2. British citizens living abroad would be ineligible. Despite being migrants themselves,  they would be more likely to vote to leave than foreigners living in Britain, not least because many of them would not be intending to live permanently abroad. Their position would be the exact opposite of foreigners living in Britain, who whether or not they intended to stay permanently in Britain,  would have a vested interest in voting for Britain to remain within the EU because it would secure their immediate position in the country.  There an estimated five  million Britons living abroad.  The majority  live outside of the EU.

3.Sixteen and seventeen r olds would be more  likely to vote to stay in the EU than older voters  because they have known nothing else.

The best case scenario

Suppose the best case scenario for an OUT vote  occurs, that only those eligible to vote in general elections were allowed to vote.

The present  eligibility to vote in Britain is this:

To vote in a UK general election a person must be registered to vote and also:

–              be 18 years of age or over on polling day

–              be a British citizen, a qualifying Commonwealth citizen or a citizen of the Republic of Ireland

–              not be subject to any legal incapacity to vote

Additionally, the following cannot vote in a UK general election:

–              members of the House of Lords (although they can vote at elections to local authorities, devolved legislatures and the European Parliament)

–              EU citizens resident in the UK (although they can vote at elections to local authorities, devolved legislatures and the European Parliament)

–              anyone other than British, Irish and qualifying Commonwealth citizens

–              convicted persons detained in pursuance of their sentences (though remand prisoners, unconvicted prisoners and civil prisoners can vote if they are on the electoral register)

–              anyone found guilty within the previous five years of corrupt or illegal practices in connection with an election

That would still leave RoI citizens and qualifying Commonwealth citizens eligible.   Their numbers are considerable.  In addition, British citizenship has been handed out astonishingly casually in recent years with  citizenship being granted to 100-200,000 people a year since 2000.

To first generation immigrants granted British citizenship can be added  millions of their descendants who automatically have British citizenship . They will  generally favour Britain remaining within the EU  for the same reasons as first generation immigrants will.

This all adds up to the a substantial handicap for the OUT side before any campaign started. Nonetheless, it is the most the OUT side can hope for.

Only a Tory government or a coalition between Tories and Ukip  are likely to  deliver a referendum. They would probably favour the same qualifications to vote as those used at a general election. Any broader suffrage should be resisted implacably, because the broader the franchise, the less chance of obtaining a vote to leave the EU.

 

 

Film reviews – The drama of the everyday – Locke and Last Orders

Robert Henderson

Locke main cast – Tom Hardy as Ivan Locke,  Ruth Wilson as Katrina (voice),  Olivia Colman as Bethan (voice), Andrew Scott as Donal (voice),  Ben Daniels as Gareth (voice),  Tom Holland as Eddie (voice),

Director:  Steven Knight

Last orders main  cast – Michael Caine as  Jack Dodds,  Tom Courtenay as  Vic Tucker,  David Hemmings  as  Lenny,  Bob Hoskins as Ray Johnson,  Helen Mirren as  Amy Dodds, Ray Winstone as  Vince Dodds

Director: Fred Schepisi

Perhaps the rarest of  films are those which make gripping dramas out of ordinary life. Unsurprising  because everyday existence does not obviously lend itself to drama. Locke and Last Orders are two  films which show how wrongheaded this idea is by producing gripping and in the case of Last Orders poignant stories from the everyday.

They are very different films. Locke concerns a few hours in someone’s life: Last Orders encompasses a period running from just before the Second World War to the 1990s.  Locke has only one actor on screen: Last orders  follows the lives of half a dozen characters.  Yet set apart as they are on the surface both share a  general similarity of being about  things which could happen to anyone.

Apart from a minute or two at the beginning and end  of the film the entire on screen action  of Locke consists of the eponymous character Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy) in his car driving and making and receiving phone calls about his work and private life.  Sounds tedious and limited in dramatic scope with precious little opportunity for  character development?  Don’t you believe it.

Locke is in circumstance Hell. He is a foreman in charge of a building site.  The next day he is due to supervise a huge concrete “pour”, that is  concrete  poured  on site to create a large structure, a very demanding technical task. . But  Locke will not be at the “pour” because he is headed for a hospital where a woman (Bethan) with whom he had a one-night-stand is about to give birth to his child. To add to these  worries his wife Katrina knows nothing of the other woman or impending child and she and their son are expecting him home where Locke  and his son are supposed to  watch a football match together.

Why has he sacrificed so much for a woman he barely knows and a child he has not wanted?   Locke was abandoned by his father soon after his birth and did not meet him until he had reached adulthood and with whom he never came to terms when they did meet as adults. This provides the impetus for  Locke behaving in this quixotic  way because he does he does not want this child to be deserted by its father.  His uneasy relationship with his father also provides a hook for Locke to have imaginary conversations with his father while he drives.  These are  the only weak and sentimental  things in the film.  They  would have been better left out and the circumstances left to speak for themselves .  But  they are  a small blemish.

So far so traumatic, but it gets far worse.   Locke rings one of his workers at the site to get him to do the last minute checking he should have done and to prepare him to oversee the “ concrete pour” in Locke’s place.  But the worker Donal has a drink inside him and does not feel confident of taking Locke’s place.   Locke rings Bethan to say he is on the way.  He speaks to his son and wife saying he will not be home in time for the match.  He discovers that a road he needed closed to allow the concrete to be delivered  has not been closed. He  speaks to his boss  who pleads with him to be there to supervise the concrete “pour” and  eventually  fires him when he realises that Locke will not be at the site to supervise the “pour”.

As Locke  drives he also has the stress of breaking  the news to his wife that he is going to see a woman who is having his child and tries desperately to explain to his son why he will not be home. After several phone calls his wife  decides to throw him out of the house.

As this  seeming never ending barrage of stress hits Locke he keeps his cool and   provides solutions to the practical  difficulties he faces but fails with his relationships. By the end of the film Locke has lost his wife, his home and his job but gained a son and a resolution in his mind of his relationship with his father.

The role of Locke is as demanding a part as could be imagined because the character is centre stage throughout and has to carry the film utterly  for the rest of the cast, which includes some fine actors,  cannot in the nature of things make much  impact because they are simply disembodied voices who appear only in short bursts . Hardy carries it off  immaculately. In fact, this film is made for him because he has great screen presence and exudes self-possession.

This is a  gripping film made from what looks like on paper extremely unpromising  material.  There is no disaster to keep up the tension, just the net of  circumstances remorselessly closing.

Last orders (released 2001)  is centred around as starry a cast of British actors as you are likely to find in a film, namely,  Michael Caine,  Tom Courtenay, David Hemmings,  Bob Hoskins,  Helen Mirren,  Ray Winstone. Often when a cast has so many heavyweight  actors it just does not work either because the actors’  egos clash or the roles they have are too small for them.  Not here. Probably because they are all actors brought up in the English repertory tradition they know how to play as a team.

Vic ,  Lenny ,  Ray  and Vince are on a sentimental journey to scatter the ashes of their old friend Jack Dodds  in Margate.   This is a story with solid  workingclass roots. Jack was an East End butcher ,  Ray  (Bob Hoskins) is a professional gambler and  Jack’s best friend  since they fought together in the second world war; Lenny (David Hemmings) is  a still belligerent  former  boxer;  Vic (Tom Courtenay) a quiet character who is an undertaker and Jack’s adopted son Vince (Ray Winstone), a car dealer whose real family  perished in a wartime bombing .

On the journey they stop at various places which were significant in Jack’s life. They reminisce about Jack and the times they had together.  This leads  to flashbacks to various times in their lives and in the lives of  Jack and his wife Amy.   We see the characters in their vigorous hopeful youth before the second world war and  their  subsequent messy way through their lives , lives  full of disappointments and betrayals as well as friendship, love and loyalty.   Old tensions  gradually emerge  and arguments break out, but  these are superficially smoothed over and  Jack’s ashes are scattered  amongst forced sentimentality.

Counterpoised to the four on the trip is Jack’s wife Amy on a journey of her own. For fifty years she has unfailingly  visited her mentally retarded daughter  June (Laura Morelli) in a home, while her husband could barely acknowledge the daughter’s existence, a fact which has tainted their marriage.  The daughter is so severely handicapped she does not even recognise her mother.  At the end of the film Amy decides that 50 years of visiting is enough and sees June one last time.

By the time they have scattered the ashes Vic ,  Lenny ,  Ray  and Vince are all  diminished.  The journey has not been about Jack but themselves.    They have tried to fill their lives  with significance but  either circumstances or their own weaknesses and limitations have prevented it.   They are left only with a sense of unfocused regret.

Little needs to be said about the  acting other than it is uniformly first rate with Caine producing one of his very best performances  with  Helen Mirren  deeply sympathetic as Jack’s wife.

More than a century and a half ago, the American idealist Henry Thoreau said “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.”    That is as true today as it was when Thoreau said it,  although  the desperation will have different causes and effects in different times and places.  Locke and Last Orders are,  in their  very different ways,   studies in desperation, of people living lives which are not in their control or even worse potentially within their control but not controlled.

Civitas meeting  2 10 2014 – Should we seek to remain in the EU for trade only?

Sole speaker Ronald Stewart-Brown (Trade Policy and Research Centre)

Robert Henderson

I knew what a malformed disaster Stewart –Brown’s  plan for Britain to  have nothing more than a trade relationship the EU was going to be when he started his talk by warning against the Great Satan  of Protectionism by citing the example of the protectionist measures taking during the Depression of the 1930s. In fact, it was the protectionist measures taken by Britain, together with  Britain moving from the Gold Billion Standard and the Keynsian public spending  on things such as council housing which  allowed Britain to recover more quickly than other  large industrialised nations. (I go into this in more detail in my email to Stewart-Brown  which I reproduce at the bottom of this post).

When I challenged him on this,  instead of admitting that he had misrepresented the protectionist effects in the Depression,  he simply blithely ignored what he had said and feebly added that unemployment had not been cured before WW2.  In fact, the level of unemployment in 1939 was around 10 per cent, the type of level it had been at  during  most of the  1920s when the Free Trade mania was still dominating British politics.

This type of historical ignorance  or the wilful denial of historical  reality is part of the stock-in-trade of the laissez faire worshippers and makes most of what they say on  economics a literal nonsense because the doctrine itself denies reality. Human beings are not the base advantage seeking automata  beloved of classical economists; individuals will not normally  have anything approaching perfect knowledge of a market. Instead, they will be doing what humans have evolved to do, being social animals who care most about relationships with other humans, raising their children and so on.

Stewart-Brown’s plan was to have Britain effectively  leave the EU but remain in a customs union with it.  This he advocated because he thought  this would (appeal to the British electorate; (2) would avoid the major manufacturers such as those making cars in Britain panicking at the prospect of EU trade barriers being raised against them and  (3)reassure the rest of the world that world trade would not be  disturbed. ( Strange  how we are so often told that Britain is hugely insignificant in the world economy these days by the class of people Stewart-Brown comes from,  but when it suits their purposes Britain is suddenly a massive influence on that economy. They make it up as they go along).

The idea that the other 27 members of the EU would fall down at Britain’s feet  and agree to such an arrangement is   risible, as several of the audience pointed out. But even if it did take place,  Britain would not be simply in a trading block because (1) the other EU members would keep introducing new rules and regulations, for example, health and safety legislation, into the remit of the Customs Union administration even though they  would have nothing to do with trade and (2) most British politicians would be only too happy to go along with this re-establishment of ever tighter EU tentacles around Britain because they do not want Britain to be detached from the EU.  The head of Civitas, David Green also  pointed out the incongruity between Stewart-Brown’s plans for a custom’s union and  his plea for free trade. This disconcerted Stewart-Brown, and all he could find to say was that  he was proposing what he thought was possible.

The nadir of the Stewart-Brown’s address came when he rather curiously  claimed that Britain  would get what he was proposing because a custom’s union which allowed the EU members’ goods and services to come to freely into Britain would give Britain —wait for it … “the moral high ground”.  What does he expect if the other EU members do not fall into line below this, in internationalist eyes, crushing fact? That such malefactors  will be, as Michael Wharton delighted in saying, “brought before the bar of world opinion”?  It was sublimely naïve.  I managed to have a second go at him and pointed out that the whole movement of global politics was away from the  unnatural internationalist ideas which had held sway in varying degrees since 1945 towards the natural state of humanity, which is tribal and catered for by the nation state.  In particular I cited China as being a and economic and political Goliath which had shown repeatedly in recent times that it would not play the internationalist game, vide its persistent refusal to let the Renmimbi  rise in value, despite being pressed strongly by the USA to do so.

Judged by their questions to him the audience was widely unsatisfied  with Stewart-Brown’s ideas , which were strong on wishful thinking and very short on realism.  Stewart-Brown was also very keen on saying a consultation most be started on this and an investigation begun on that. He struck me as the type who would never come to the point where the end-game would actually begin.

There was one audience contribution which may have more than ordinary significance. The erstwhile Tory MP David Heathcoat-Amory was scathing in his condemnation of Cameron’s negotiating position on the EU, saying it was essential Britain went into the negotiations with the clear intention of asking for a vote to leave if nothing substantial was conceded.  He also supported Stewart-Brown’s idea of just being in a customs Union, but   only if those negotiating made it made clear Britain would simply walk away from the EU if no agreement was reached. Heathcoat-Amory may  represent a strong band of thinking amongst current Tory MPs.

It was all too familiarly depressing, Stewart-Brown is yet another person with some public influence who  really is not fit to have any hand in deciding what Britain’s relationship with the EU should be simply because he has been captured by the laissez faire ideology and is, I suspect, an internationalist at heart.

Email sent to after Civitas meeting –  I will post any reply here

Mr Ronald Stewart-Brown

Trade Policy and Research Centre

29 Great Smith Street, London SW1P 3BL

Email Ronald@tprc.org.uk

2 10 2014

Dear Mr Stewart-Brown,

A few thoughts on your Civitas talk today. Your commitment to free trade and doubtless free markets  generally is a gigantic stumbling block  to producing a realistic plan for Britain to remove herself from the EU.

How far you are entrapped within the free trade ideology was shown by your claim that the  great mistake in the  Depression was to engage in protectionism. In fact, that  was what protected Britain from the worst of the Depression years, along with coming off the Gold Bullion Standard, large scale state action which included building 500,000 council houses in the period  and the fact that British banks had already undergone considerable consolidation and thereby avoided the horrors that the USA experienced with their huge number of small banks, thousands of which went to the wall. The fact that Britain also had a national welfare system can also be thrown into the mix for it both gave the  unemployed an income  and making those who feared being unemployed less uncertain. These things probably kept consumption levels  significantly higher than they would otherwise have been.

In 1933 the unemployment rate was around 23% of the workforce; by 1939 it was around 10 per cent, the sort of figure incidentally that it had been throughout the 1920s when the free trade mania was still dominating British politics.  It is also true that Britain between 1950 and the early 1970s enjoyed a period of considerable growth and very  low unemployment behind protectionist barriers and great state involvement in the economy.

The reality of laissez faire economics is it is an intellectually incoherent doctrine – see my “Free markets and “free trade” =  elite propaganda” essay below – which does not do what its proponents claim. In fact it leads countries which practice it into dangerously distorting their economies which greatly undermines their self-sufficiency and leave any country unwise enough to go down this path open to manipulation by foreign powers and potentially to shortages of vital goods and services.

To imagine as you do that countries will abide by treaties is dangerously naive. At the present time we are seeing throughout the world a strong movement towards protectionism, whether that be overtly or by covert means such as hideously complex and time consuming bureaucratic procedures or the use of justice systems to intimidate foreign companies – China is a past master at this, but the USA is no slouch either with its laws against trading with certain countries in certain goods and the absurd fines US regulators and courts hand out to foreign companies. In the case of the EU, to believe that your plan would succeed because quote “We shall have the moral high ground” is wishful thinking on stilts. As several people pointed out it only takes one member state to veto a proposal. To expect 27 EU states to all refrain from doing so is wildly improbable.

But there is an even bigger issue. As I pointed out at the talk, there is strong reasons to believe the EU will not remain intact as a group of supposedly democratic states. To begin most of the EU states do not have any great democratic history. The largest apart from Britain – Germany, France, Spain, Italy – all date their present constitutional arrangements  in decades not  centuries. They and most of the smaller states are naturally  democratically fragile. Also,  since the current recession stated, it is debatable whether Italy, Greece, Spain and Portugal have been democracies so controlled have they been by ECB diktats. There is also the madness of the EU’s attempt to lure  the Ukraine into the Brussels net and the ongoing mess with is the Euro – see my separate email on the Euro.  Any of these circumstances could lead to anything from individual members casting aside any pretence at democracy to the entire EU blowing apart. Consequently the path you advocate with the UK still tied into the EU economic process in the shape of membership of a customs union is fraught with danger. Much better that Britain leaves the coils of the EU entirely and makes its way in the world as the vast majority of countries do. That way if the EU blows up we will not have any legal ties and obligations to it.

Finally, there is the question of winning an in/out referendum. The British may not like the EU,  but neither do they like globalism. It will be impossible to win a referendum on Britain’s membership of  the EU if the electorate know that all they are being asked to do is to swap the overlordship of Brussels for the  ideological despotism of free trade and mass immigration. (The laissez faire approach involved in globalisation is those with power enforcing an ideology by refusing to act to protect what the vast majority of human beings regard and have always regarded as the interests of their country and themselves.  It is a tyranny caused by the neglect of the rightful use of state power for the common good.) If a referendum is to be won it will have to be on the basis of Britain being master in its own house to stop further mass immigration and to protect strategically important industries.

Yours sincerely,

 

Robert Henderson

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