the things left unsaid

It’s often the things that are not said that are more revealing than the things that are said. This is especially true when applied to liberals.
One interesting example is environmentalists and overpopulation. Remember when greenies were obsessed with the population explosion? It was going to be worst thing ever  and it was going to kill the planet and we were all going to die. Environmentalists don’t talk very much about that subject these days. The reason in this case is obvious. To talk about overpopulation would be racist!
They’re particularly keen to avoid discussing immigration. If they did discuss it they would have to face up to one very embarrassing hatefact – if millions of people move from the Third World to the First World those people are going to have a much bigger impact on the environment. They’re going to consume a lot more electricity. They’re going to want to buy cars. A lot more fossil fuels are going to be burnt. If there was any truth to global warming then these immigrants would logically accelerate the process. 
There are two conclusions one can draw from this. Either environmentalists don’t really believe in global warming, or they’re quite happy to see the planet die as long as they are not seen to be racist.
The other interesting example of things left unsaid involves feminists and pornography. I’ve been reminded of this by a recent post at Upon Hope. Feminists have always been divided on this issue but until fairly recently there was a very significant segment of the feminist movement (in fact the dominant segment) that was bitterly opposed to pornography. They argued that pornography objectified women, encouraged violence against women, oppressed women, was an insult to women, etc etc.
These days feminists have gone strangely quiet on this issue. Which is odd. At the time when they were enthusiastically crusading against it pornography was not all that big a problem. Today it’s a very big problem indeed. It’s all-pervasive, the evidence that it causes harm is much stronger and it’s almost impossible (indeed it’s probably quite impossible) to keep such material out of the hands of children. So why has the feminist sisterhood gone strangely quiet on this topic? Have they changed their minds? Do younger feminists simply not care? Are they so driven by hatred for our civilisation that they welcome anything that will undermine that civilisation, even if it harms women in the process?
There is another possible reason. They may have backed down in the face of opposition from the LGBTQWERTY lobby (with which feminism has an uneasy relationship to say the least). Any crackdown on pornography could not in practice be confined to a crackdown on heterosexual pornography. It would have to include material involving various forms of sexual deviance. But that would be homophobic, transphobic, queerphobic and all sorts of other phobics.
And the unpleasant truth for feminists is that LGBTQWERTY “rights” trump women’s rights. Feminists are at the absolute bottom of the victim hierarchy. So the explanation might have more to do with cowardice than hypocrisy.
It’s always worth taking note of the things liberals do not say. They tend to be very revealing. They also suggest that there are major fault lines within the left-liberal establishment, fault lines that might well widen considerably at some future time.

more on the perils of voting

Bruce Charlton was of course spot on in his comment to my previous post. Voting is not just a poor way to choose governments; it is potentially catastrophic to western civilisation.
So what can be done? Any proposal to abolish voting would be met with howls of outrage and would have no chance whatsoever of even getting a fair hearing, much less being adopted.
That would seem to leave only one alternative – to do the deed by stealth (doing things by stealth being of course the favoured method of the Left and one that has almost invariably brought them success). The idea would be to water down democracy. The best way of doing this might well be by pushing the idea of restricting the franchise. A very good start would be raising the voting age to 21. If voting is a dumb idea then giving the vote to teenagers is an even dumber idea. Personally I think 25 would be an even better minimum voting age, but 21 would at least be a step in the right direction.
Any suggestion that the franchise should be restricted in any other way would be unimaginably difficult to sell (at least openly). One suggestion that might have a chance (admittedly an extremely small chance) would be to impose a delay on granting the vote to immigrants – to restrict the vote to immigrants who have been citizens for ten years or more. 
I have seen other suggestions floated, such as removing the right to vote from anyone who is directly dependent on the public purse. This would mean not just those on welfare but also politicians, public servants, school teachers, employees of NGOs and anyone living on arts grants. This idea has some merit, although any measure that discriminates against the poor and the uneducated might well backfire – the sad truth is that educated middle-class people often make voting decisions that are every bit as stupid, short-sighted, irrational and self-serving as the voting decisions of the poor and uneducated. 
Any system that puts more power into the hands of our urban elites would almost certainly have disastrous consequences, those elites being the most dangerous enemies of our civilisation. 
While restricting the vote (with the unstated long-term objective of restricting it further and further) would be difficult enough the real challenge is even greater. If voting doesn’t work, what system should be used to choose governments? My own preference would be a constitutional monarchy, but a constitutional monarchy in which the monarch has much greater and more effective powers than is the case with present-day constitutional monarchies. Monarchy might not be a perfect form of government but it does have some very real advantages. Monarchs have to take a much longer-term view than elected politicians. For a politician the long term is the next election, a few years away. For a monarch the long term is the reign of his or her successor, possibly twenty or thirty years away. No monarch wants to leave a ruined nation to his heir. Monarchs are also more or less immune from corruption. Even more importantly, monarchs are unlikely to be panicked by opinion polls. At present constitutional monarchies are ineffective because the  monarchs do no more than serve as figureheads – they should have vastly greater powers. Possibly even the power to appoint prime ministers (and indeed whole ministries) from outside parliament and more or less independently of parliament.
It all sounds like something that is unlikely to happen. Except that it is happening. The Left is already abolishing democracy by stealth. The EU is a spectacular example of effectively undemocratic government but in almost every western country power is being gradually and surreptitiously transferred to unelected bodies. The problem is that the power is being concentrated in the hands of a self-selected self-serving entirely unaccountable unelected elite that has as its objective the destruction of western civilisation as we know it. Democracy is already being phased out but what conservatives need to do is to make some attempt to ensure that it gets replaced by something better, rather than something worse. Supra-national government by bureaucratic monstrosities like the EU or the UN would be much much worse.
As our civilisation faces more and more serious crises (either real crises or pretend crises like global warming manufactured by the political and media elites) the pressure on democracy will increase. It would be wise for conservatives to be prepared, and more crucially to be willing to put up an actual fight to ensure that the end of democracy will be a net benefit for or civilisation rather than its death knell. Given that conservatives have never yet put up a real fight on any issue that actually mattered I am afraid I am not very confident, but on the other hand history is inherently unpredictable so perhaps there is some hope after all.

are most people idiots – why we vote the way we do

One popular theory to explain the failings of democracy is the MPAI (Most People Are Idiots) theory. There are times when it does seem that way but on the whole I don’t buy it. I don’t really believe that most people are idiots. 
As individuals some people certainly are stupid but most people are not. They manage day-to-day living tolerably well. They make reasonably sensible decisions. They don’t try to cross the street without checking for traffic, they don’t swallow disinfectant because the disinfectant bottle looks vaguely like a soft drink bottle, they don’t go swimming if the life guards at the beach tell them there are sharks about, they don’t drop cigarette butts into cans of petrol.
And yet when it comes to acting en masse, when it comes to electing governments or voting in referendums, people often do things that are every bit as stupid as dropping cigarette butts into cans of petrol. How is this possible?
The answer is that people generally have very little understanding of the issues at stake. This is not because they’re idiots. It’s because the issues are hopelessly complicated. Economists have very little idea of how the economy actually works, and they have spent years studying it. Climate scientists have no idea how the world’s climate really works, even after immense sums of money have been spent in researching the subject. Foreign policy is even worse. Untangling the webs of suspicion, resentment, opportunism, greed, fear and clashing ideologies and religions in the Middle East or Eastern Europe is a daunting prospect for scholars who have spent their whole careers studying the subject.
How can any ordinary person possibly hope to have a clear understanding of such issues?  It’s not enough to have the necessary intelligence – the real problem is that how many of us can afford to spend several years researching the political situation in Eastern Europe, several more years studying climate science and several more years studying economics before casting our vote? If we had both the intelligence and the leisure time to do this we might be able to make an informed decision. We don’t have the time, so we don’t make an informed choice. We choose our governments the way I chose my last car. I know virtually nothing about cars. I wouldn’t know a carburetor from a crankshaft. I wanted a big car and I wanted a station wagon. I’d owned several Holdens and they’d been OK. The salesman seemed less sleazy and less pushy than most used car salesman. The price seemed reasonable. So I bought the Holden Commodore wagon that the salesman in question wanted to sell me.
I made my decision on the basis of brand recognition, price, my vague idea of the sort of car I wanted and my personal impressions of the salesman.
That’s pretty much how most people cast their votes in elections. Take the last Australian election. Brand recognition counted – we’d had a Liberal government from 1996 to 2007 and they’d been fairly competent. Personal impressions counted – Tony Abbott seemed to be, by the standards of politicians, fairly honest and straightforward. Vague ideas of the sort of government we wanted counted – the Liberals’ policies sounded moderate and sensible enough. Price counted – he’d promised to abolish the hated carbon tax.
As it happens my car purchase worked out well. Nineteen years later I’m still driving the same car and it still runs. Our choice of a Liberal government was perhaps less successful although the alternative would undoubtedly have been worse.
But is this really a good way to decide on the government of a country? What happens when there’s a really crucial issue at stake? What happens when a country is likely to face a serious foreign policy crisis? What happens when a country has to confront the sort of situation that now confronts Europe, involving the possible settlement of millions of immigrants who may or may not integrate into European society? It is immensely difficult to predict the results of various foreign policy options. Serious misjudgments of such matters, involving a relatively minor crisis in the Balkans, plunged Europe into the horrors of The First World War. Any misjudgment on the matter of immigration could spell the end of European civilisation. Can we really rely on leaders who were elected on the basis that they seemed like fairly decent people, or that their party had governed tolerably well in the past, or that their policies sounded OK?
Actually the situation is even worse. The reasons I’ve given above that influence our voting behaviour are at least somewhat rational. In reality though voting decisions are often made  on purely emotional and entirely irrational grounds. People choose a candidate who promises to save the planet because saving the planet sounds like the right thing to do emotionally. People choose a candidate who promises to deliver social justice because social justice is a concept that pushes the right emotional buttons, even if it has no actual meaning.
Of course it’s easy enough to point out some of the reasons we get such bad governments, but what is the solution? That, Dear Reader, will have to wait for a further post!

spy fiction, traitors and the enemy within

I just came across an extremely interesting point in a post on the Your Freedom and Ours blog. The subject was one of Agatha Christie’s wartime thrillers. The heroes, Tommy and Tuppence, are shocked by stories brought back from Dunkirk of the chaos and incompetence of the British military.

Could it really be incompetence, he muses, or are there traitors among the highest echelons of the military command, the intelligence service and those who take political decisions. Without any hesitation Tuppence replies that it has to be treason.

The bloggers makes the following very pertinent observation:

Of course, they were obsessed with fifth columnists. The alternative was to accept the fact that Britain, its security services, its military, its police, its politics were led by people who were incompetent, self-satisfied idiots. 

Of course, as Corelli Barnett demonstrated convincingly in his superb 1972 book The Collapse of British Power, the British ruling class in the first half of the 20th century truly was dominated to an extraordinary extent by smug, self-righteous, deluded and incompetent mediocrities. British industry was inefficient and backward, the education system ignored technical subjects in favour of moral platitudes, British politicians were short-sighted and lived in a fantasy world of British power and righteousness. British foreign policy was muddled and contradictory, domestic policy was based on illusion.
It’s hardly surprising that nobody in Britain at that time wanted to face such unpleasant facts. At the same time it must have been blindingly obvious by 1940 that the nation had drifted aimlessly into a war for which it was hopelessly unprepared and could not possibly afford to fight.
In fact as early as the 1920s it must have occurred to many people that the First World War had achieved little or nothing at enormous cost and had been little more than an exercise in futility, resulting in economic near-ruin. The idea that spies, traitors and fifth columnists were responsible for the country’s woes and its foreign policy disasters wold have been very appealing.
Actually this could explain the immense popularity of spy fiction in Britain from the 20s right through to the 70s. It was much less upsetting to imagine that the country’s most dangerous enemies were in Berlin, Moscow or Peking rather than accept that Britain’s most deadly enemies were to be found in Whitehall. It could of course explain much of the popularity of spy fiction in general, but spy fiction had already by the ends of the 1920s become particularly popular in Britain, and Britain was arguably even worse governed than other western nations.
I had always assumed that the popularity of spy fiction in Britain was the result of an unwillingness to face the reality of Britain’s inexorable decline from great power status. I still think this was a major reason for the success of authors like Ian Fleming in the 50s – as long as James Bond was saving the world it was possible to believe that Britain still counted for something and to ignore the reality that Britain had become a relatively insignificant US satellite.
It is however certainly possible that this new theory – foreign spies as a scapegoat for governmental incompetence – explains the phenomenon in an even more satisfactory manner.

How the West lost the Cold War

The one real achievement that conservatives can point to in the last fifty years is winning the Cold War. But did conservatives really win the Cold War? I would suggest that the Cold War was won by liberals, and that it represented yet another defeat for conservatives. Conservatives lost because as usual they were fighting the wrong war in the wrong place against the wrong enemy.
The real enemy was not the Soviet Union. Do not misunderstand me. I am no admirer of Soviet communism. But the real enemy was not the Soviet Union, it was the enemy within – liberalism. It was liberalism that sought to destroy everything worthwhile in western civilisation. The end of the Cold War strengthened liberalism enormously. 
In fact the end of the Cold War was the best thing that could ever have happened for liberals. As long as the Soviet Union existed its existence served as a rallying point for conservatives, and it served as a dire warning of the realities of socialism. We have now seen several generations grow up in the West who have no idea what totalitarianism is really like. They have no clue what it means to lose freedom. Liberals are now imposing a creeping soft totalitarianism on all of us because people today have no notion that totalitarianism might be a bad thing. They do not see a problem in imposing political ideologies by coercion and bullying. They do not see a problem in stigmatising dissent as Thought Crime and then banning it.
And what does the West look like today, after our “victory” in the Cold War? A society overrun with drugs, pornography, sexual perversion and violence. A society that measures everything by money. A society riddled with irrational guilt, bent on self-destruction. We have the freedom to do anything we want to do, except think for ourselves or express our opinions. We have prosperity, or at least we’re told we do. In reality that prosperity is based largely on debt. We have nothing of real value because we do not know how to measure real value – if we cannot put a monetary value on something we regard it as worthless. 
We have lots of bread and lots of circuses.
Maybe winning the Cold War wasn’t such a great thing after all?

revisiting Forty Thousand Horsemen

I recently watched one of the greats of Australian cinema, Charles Chauvel’s 1940 wartime adventure Forty Thousand Horsemen. Of course like every Australian I’d seen it before (it used to get screened every Anzac Day on Australian television). It was interesting to look at it today from a slightly different political perspective.

The movie tells the story of the exploits of the Australian Light Horse Brigades in the campaigns against the Ottoman Empire in Palestine and Mesopotamia in the First World War.

It’s a wartime propaganda movie and the propaganda isn’t exactly subtle. The propaganda is however quite interesting. The intention was clearly to drum up support for Australia’s involvement in the Second World War. As you would expect there’s a hysterically anti-German tone. What’s more surprising is that the Ottoman Turks (the people we were actually fighting in these campaigns) are portrayed very sympathetically indeed – they are shown as brave and honourable men doing their duty. The Arabs are portrayed sympathetically as well.

Which of course is fair enough – I doubt if even the most jingoistic Australians had actually hated the Turks in the First World War. My grandfather fought them and he certainly didn’t hate them. In fact most Australians must have been somewhat bewildered to find that we were at war with the Ottoman Empire, a state that would not have ranked very high on a list of potential threats to Australia’s security. In fact it’s difficult to think of any major power that would have been less of a threat to us.

The French come out of it well also. Oddly enough the British are largely ignored, apart from one scene in which Australian soldiers cheerfully loot the baggage of a senior British officer! It’s interesting that the movie makes no attempt to whip up pro-British fervour. That might not be so surprising. Again I can cite my grandfather’s views – he felt no bitterness towards the Germans and Turks against whom he fought but he sure did hate our British allies. The makers of the movie may have felt it to be a safer choice to concentrate on the dastardliness of the Germans and to ignore the British altogether. It’s easy to assume that Australians in 1940 were intensely pro-British but perhaps this is not quite so true after all. There are times when the past turns out to be not quite the way we always thought it was.

Apart from all this and whatever one thinks of war movies Forty Thousand Horsemen is still an exciting and fairly well-made example of the breed.

A fuller review of this movie can be found on my movie blog here.