Cui bono?

honor hominesque honesti floreant

Month: January, 2013

Trick or truth?

(1) Treatise on Electoral Democracy  (2) editorial response  (3) a curiosity in Afghanistan  (4)  book of the month       next scheduled date for distribution 14-1-2013

Coming into the office for coffee Monday morning we were astonished to find a copy of the following tract waiting for each of us.  There was even one for Manos on the shelf in the broom cupboard.

            Dear senior members of the office, kind of you to say I was not needed for your meeting about the letter from the woman in Bratislava.  I was sorry to hear that after two hours you still weren’t able to come up with any satisfying ideas about ‘fighting injustice without violence but with intelligence’.  Actually Friday evening Zoltan and I put our heads together over Java and Bath Olivers and we did think of one possible large-scale solution.  If by chance you might be interested to see it, herewith.  We admit it probably has to be a long term approach, will need enormous resources in energy and money, and may fail more often than not.  Also we accept it is only relevant to countries with some sort of claim to be democracies.  On the other hand, when it does work it really will bring a bright new dawn, as the cliché has it. The thing is to find a way of changing the country’s constitution to eliminate electoral democracy.  Churchill notoriously described democracy as the worst system except for all the others, but that remark was made by someone who had done well out of the system, and who moreover was thinking of the system as then directed by the ruling class to which he belonged. We intend our suggestion seriously.  Anyone looking round the world with eyes open can see that some governments can manage electoral democracy without serious inconvenience to the rest of the inhabitants and all their interests, but such governments are only a tiny minority.  It is a trifle easier, admittedly, when the various parties fix things up so as to arrive at some degree of sharing of the spoils of power (which by the way we think is much closer to what happens in western Europe than many realise.  And if you are tempted to quarrel over that point, take a look first at the difference between the average wage and the average politician’s financial package in every nation between the Urals and the Atlantic.)  Taking a broad view across the world it is as plain as the beard on Manos’ chin  to see Manosthat in any country with elections and a population of more than a few thousand the parties, which inevitably develop, briskly encourage divergences of view and interest to become explicit and then to grow increasingly hostile to contrasting views and conflicting interests; more important, in most cases parties steadily enlarge the schedule of tactics which they each use in order to gain or hold power at the time of the elections.  These include – not exhaustively –  lying, corruption, fraud in electoral procedures, manipulation of the judicial system, and of course violence.  Not one of these will be in the interests of the mass of the population.  Every single one is, now, a standard feature of elections around the world, and of political practice in the periods before and after elections in countries purporting to be democracies.  Anyone who thinks these remarks exaggerated has simply not taken advantage of abundant available information from the four corners of the earth.

            When a nation has fallen victim to the system of party democracy, can it be rescued?  Change will certainly be resisted by parties which fear their loss of access to power and tangible assets.  Certainly there is no easy escape route.  But if for example a campaign of argument and persuasion, free of violence (which lowers the intelligence level of all concerned), is sustained through an evident period of national decline until the state experiences some major shock, escape is possible.  (We are not specifically considering forthcoming events in Britain, France or Italy here, only thinking in general terms.)  We would point out that it is only in the rare case when an autocrat, or a small tight-knit oligarchy not merely holds power but is confident of a secure hold on it, that there is some small chance of that power being exercised so as to give a conscientious measure of disinterested justice for members of the population, with no need to favour this or that group in order to shore up support and increase the chance of continuing to rule.  In a democracy what chance has a poor farmer if the government decides that a highway shall be built across his or her land and through the family home?  At the time of writing what sort of verdict would be given on electoral democracy as practised in, say, Spain over the past twenty years?  We candidly admit that efforts at transition from democracy to an autocracy of goodwill are historical rarities, and even more rarely succeed even when attempted by a would-be benevolent autocrat.  Most such manoeuvres have a high risk of installing greater injustice in the short term at least, but that is no sufficient reason for continuing to tolerate the deplorable defects (obvious but disregarded by theorists and by those with advantage to gain from the system) guaranteed with electoral democracy.  An escape attempt can succeed and open the way to a balance of action which will be overall less inhumane, as for example when de Gaulle attained what was for a time personal power in France in 1958, bringing in particular an end to the brutal conflict in Algeria.  And let us add that at this very time hundreds or even thousands of people are required to move out of their beloved homes of decades in the east of London so that those may be demolished and replaced by new ‘up-market’ apartments, far too expensive for the evicted to afford, in order to shape part of the ‘legacy’ of the Olympics ordained by a ‘democratic’ government; if those people have any hope of redress it is to be looked for in decisions made by a non-elected judiciary.       My respectful regards, Jeremy.

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The Deputy Editor writes: Jeremy clearly put a lot of work into the above with his friend Zoltan.  We are always glad to encourage the  young in efforts to improve their grasp of the world, and naturally it is often only through mistakes that they can, slowly, learn.  That is why we decided to expose the above to a wider audience.  It was not fair, though, to suggest that we ‘came up with’ no satisfying suggestions.  We thought of quite a number, the only drawback being that they do not work.  A short  extract from the rough draft of the report I had already made:

 Letters to politicians? Thrown into the bin by their secretaries.  Writing to high-class journals, other leaders of public opinion?  Don’t exist any more, and anyway they would only publish a balance of views which matches what their owners think already.  Protest marches? Utterly useless, except for giving police practice at photography.  Social media?  Does anyone think that getting out messages to influence the minds (such as they are) of the facetube generation can ever produce effective action, now that governments have woken up to the idea of switching social media off?  Sanctions? About as effective as a ‘code of conduct’ put up by some industry damaging a nation’s health, but too wealthy for governments to legislate against.  Sleeping with the enemy?  Or (for those who can’t bring themselves to go that far – the worst perpetrators of injustice are often physically as well as morally repellent) sweet-talking them at expensive dinner parties and dropping the odd remark about this or that prisoner who has been waiting eight years in prison without charge?  Can anyone give an example where that’s got the prisoner out?

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Opinion piece from occasional contributor Dryas Lisheng of Pusan

The interesting factor about the recent comment in Afghanistan by the British royal prince with the controversial career in the pages of the popular press was not that he said he had been killing Taliban.  As a member of the British forces sent half across the world to bring a modern democracy to Afghanistan whether its population democratically want it or not – being democratic does not just mean ‘agreeing with what we say’, or does it? – he could not possibly refer to them as ‘insurgents’ (let alone as ‘the resistance’).  The curious point was not, either, that it had not occurred to him that killing people in a foreign country with which his own country was not at war might be considered an act of the highest illegality (quite apart from the moral aspect).  Nor was it surprising that he produced that old chestnut about taking  a life to save a life; soldiers may need to take this line to avoid traumatic stress syndrome, which after all lasts a lot longer than the moment of death of the other party in the event  (I do not raise the issue of the future situation of the family of the other party).  In any case, if it really is a matter of one life balanced against one other this is not so inequitable as the balance when drones are used, taking typically several lives in order not to save but to take another life (in the standard case without reliable evidence that the latter belonged to someone who really counted as an enemy; admittedly some of those who survive the incident will certainly count thereafter as enemy – but is this an efficient way to conduct one’s policy?)  However, none of these is the intriguing factor.  What is remarkable is that the British military posted this controversial scion of their nation’s first family, without real attempts at secrecy and without regard for the Taliban declarations that he would be a special target, to this dangerous helicopter assignment and kept him there for five months.

*Editorial note: we would remind Ms Dryas who mentions democracy that democracy means the will of the people as expressed by those qualified to express it; this naturally rules out the young, the insane, and all those whose access to the truth has been impeded, or who have been exposed to incorrect views by dishonest propaganda, or whose judgment is warped by improper social pressures, or whose ideas have been shaped through education in an undesirable system.  We trust Ms Dryas will not deny that a truly valid judgment of what is needed in a particular society and should be produced by the democratic will there can in general only be made by those with a clear and correct view, observing from outside.

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Book of the month   Etienne Bagleigh-Dubois and Louise Sokolenkova (edd.) ‘Slaking the wildebeest’s thirst for knowledgePeppercabbage Press, Chiangmai (publication date not yet set)  Gives an account of the world’s only hospital specialising in mental illnesses of spin-doctors, and the circumstances of its closure

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honor hominesque honesti floreant

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Speculation fair enough, but where is the prophet?

The editor writes: For reasons explained in the last item of this distribution, it does not begin with a piece by Old Boore, despite the requests.  We are still unable, also, to forward items from Luddites’ Gazette.  Their people have been granted an extra month to get to the hearing {see Late News, 30-11-12}, but having had trouble with punctures (the tyres on their bikes, all bought second-hand, were worryingly thin when they set off), with the French police who thought they were Germans, and the snow in France they are still only in Dijon, and may not arrive in time.  We wish them well.  Today   1) Isabelita’s good news   2) shorts   3)  the truth about Old Boore     Next scheduled distribution 31-1-13

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Isabelita is being jolly, most unlike her normal cool, controlled self.  She has had a letter confirming the safe return of the ‘Beast’ (a tribute to his strength, not his personality), three weeks overdue.  It was only six months ago we discovered that on her mother’s side she is related to a large and well-connected English family.  It seems she had long been in contact by letter and telephone in particular with one of them, a divorced fellow fifteen years her senior, formerly in the army, and now apparently running some sort of commercial outfit with the strange name of Intellectual Glass Manufactory.  We naturally suspect there is personal warmth in the relationship although she insists it is purely based on shared technical interests, and it is true her subject was chemistry when she was lecturing in Ecuador.  Nevertheless our suspicions are strengthened by her reaction to the news today, when she went so far as to show everyone the relevant page of the letter.  Jeremy managed to take a photocopy of it when she went upstairs with the whalemeat for the dog:

            I left on the Friday at 8 am for my walking tour in the Yemen, and almost immediately met a preposterous example of the nonsense that gets in the way of reasonable daily life and leaves this country having to struggle like a giant to wade through a kind of metaphorical rubbish dump of regulations, petty pomposity, and sheer bloody stupidity.  Imported from Brussels, half of it.  Bureaucratic arrogance and lazy inefficiency.  The bureaucratic arrogance kicked in at the second security checkpoint in the airport, the one where they take your watch, x-ray your belt, and require you to demonstrate that your teeth are your own and not attached to a plate with a false palate containing high explosive.  I was moved to remark quietly ‘Is all this really necessary?’ and next minute I was all but frogmarched off by three uniformed louts to a tiny windowless room and locked in.  What would have been happening if I’d been black, I wonder.  Anyway I was there for about an hour before a sour-faced young woman came in and proposed to start interrogating me, but I cut her short with a roster of some of my very senior friends and colleagues.  The Interior Minister’s name, I was surprised to notice got only a slight contemptuous smile, but then I mentioned the Deputy Commandant.  ‘May I ask how you are acquainted with our commander?’  I flattened her with my answer, ‘To begin with, he is my brother-in-law and I was best man at his wedding.’  Although she tried not to scramble off her pomp too obviously there was an instant change of atmosphere from You will do what we tell you in favour of We appreciate it’s difficult but we do have to follow the rules sir.  A short phone call, and next moment a pimpled youth in a peaked cap was at the door with my belt, watch, and other stuff in a plastic bag, and my travelling holdall.  He sped me off to where another couple of irritated travellers were being held, trilled ‘Follow me’ and led us at a brisk trot down some stairs marked ‘restricted access’ and out onto the open tarmac, where we piled into a small bus which hurtled half across the airport, stopping with a skid by a set of steps, up which we climbed.  The plane was half empty but even before we had all found seats they slammed the door shut and we taxied out for take-off.  About an hour later I was conning my list of things to say in traveller’s Arabic to the stewardess working her way towards me with a drinks trolley, when one of the other delayed passengers came up the aisle and asked me where I was going.  ‘Yemen, of course.’  ‘That’s where I thought I was going,’ he answered, ‘but we’re both wrong.  This plane is going to Yerevan, in Armenia.’

            Yerevan could be considered a rather charming place – if judged by the standard of ‘other-ranks’ cities round the east of the Mediterranean, but its air services, even when functioning according to schedule, are not very frequent.  Even with the first flight I could book, to any airport where I could then count on making a further booking to take me Yemenwards, there was no chance of being able to take the walking tour as projected, so I faxed my pals in the Embassy and asked them for further instructions.  They came back with some rude remarks, totally unjustified, and a plan which looked oddly as though it had already been worked out, to get myself into Turkey (nerve-wracking plane flight), buy a bike and  follow a specified route to Istanbul with half a dozen stop-offs at places indicated.  So I had a 3½ week cycling tour.  Tough work on the legs, but absolutely fascinating and as a bonus I was able to take in Boghazköy and Konya.  Beautiful country, amazing architecture; fine people if we discount the brutality of the peasant cattle herders (though I should add that much of the region of my tour is ‘ethnically inhabited’ – whatever that means – by Kurds, not Turks).  The people seemed most refreshingly different from the consumerist masses of western Europe, more like peasant Australians you might say.  Was favourably impressed when I left the camera and lens bag on a chair in a busy eating booth; three hours later coming back into town, an unshaven dishevelled fellow came up to me, and jabbered away incomprehensibly obviously trying to get me to go somewhere.  From one or two words I caught I think he was under the impression he was speaking German, but anyway once I realised he wasn’t a beggar I thought he might have something useful to offer so I went with him.  Led me along to the ‘restaurant’ and pointed to my camera, still sitting on the chair where I had left it.  I thought it only right to tip him a few coins.  Why the Turks should ever have wanted to ‘join Europe’ is a baffling enigma.

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This week’s book recommendation:

   Oswald Spengler’s Der Untergang des Abendlandes.  For the benefit of those readers not equipped with German we can cite the English edition translated by C.Atkinson and edited by A.Helps and H.Werner: The decline of the west : published by Oxford University Press.  1991   isbn 0-19-506751-7

‘A wonderful enriching experience; if the Nazis liked it, they did not understand it’ (Jervois Fitzroland)

If you do not enjoy this book, you may also fail to enjoy

E.Gibbon  The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire various editions including  Penguin   London   1995   isbn  978-071399124-6)

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Uncertainty of the week (contributed by Simon).  “How many American troops will remain in Afghanistan after the American forces have withdrawn? (You see, I’ve read that after the withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq in 2010, six brigades and 94 bases remained there, and I do not really understand.)”

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Small Ad appeal

Are you a reader living in the UK?  Do you think that satire is enough to make human beings observe the practice of fair play?  Whether you do or not, please read the article by Charlie Cooper in the Independent online, 11 January (obtainable after that date by later search); also the comments on the article, the same day, by Peggy Lloyd and Hadic Spelm; then try anger.  [Caution: this technique can be dangerous if not properly used; must not be employed in conjunction with violence; should be combined with adequate supply of intelligence for best effect; to be kept away from the immature and the deranged]

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Editorial note:

The amount of mail that reaches us in Guernsey is one of the problems obstructing our efforts to cast pearls before the public.  The great majority is variously, too long, too obscure, too pornographic (those items are kept in a special padlocked box labelled ‘used bandages’) or too illegible to peruse at length.  Some is put into our collection as evidence of the astounding gamut of human misunderstanding.  One or two are kept in case they may one day serve for a public-spirited  exercise in blackmail.  But in the last week or so, there has been a veritable flood (thirteen) of appeals for more contributions from Old Boore, which is as many will have guessed a pseudonym, in fact a pseudonym for a redoubtable lady in Hampshire.  Aged 91 she goes sea-bathing every day of the year whatever the weather, and still manages her own pack of pitbull draghounds, and runs with them.  Living here in Guernsey when the Germans invaded she was the one who welded a submachine gun to the handlebars of her bicycle.  (It was only a gesture, since she could not get hold of any ammunition; still, she was summoned to a meeting with Gussek himself, where she argued vehemently that her action was in the spirit of any aryan woman faced by a foreign occupying force.  After an hour Gussek gave up, ordered her out, and took no further action except for confiscating the bicycle and ordering a bottle of schnapps.)

   Now I have no intention of letting an amateur edge herself into my position of eminence in this office; ever since I was a pupil at Lady Wilhelmina’s School for children of gentlefolk, in darkest Wales, I have been aware of the need for sharp elbows to hold one’s place by the trough while there are still any sausages left in the tray.  So I can perhaps dampen the enthusiasm of those who want her to replace me in the editorial chair by revealing her views on the current uproar about forms of marriage, as expounded at an office party last year.  (1a) The age for consensual sexual relations to be immediately lowered to 14 ‘since they are all at it anyway and there is no point in giving them a criminal record as well and after all Shakespeare’s Juliet was only 13’ (to which my own rejoinder was ‘see what happened to her!’  (1b) Ferocious penalties for any default on consensuality by the male, up to and not excluding compulsory chemically enforced impotence.  (1c) An obligatory programme of information about medical problems, such as pregnancy and its consequences, to replace all other school subjects until the student passes a rigorous examination.  (2a) The age for marriage for women to be reduced to 14 (2b) The minimum age for marriage for men to be 58, on the grounds that this is the youngest age at which they could have reached the necessary maturity.  (2c) Women to be allowed to marry men only if  they can be certified sane by two independent fully qualified psychiatrists.

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honor hominesque honesti floreant

New year, new worries

We have provisional permission to distribute, if no mention of Stonehenge; more news, we hope, in a distribution 15-10-2013.

         Today: 1) Old Boore’s Almanac   2) New Year resolutions  3) the threat of conformity

(If any who received the private distribution chance to be reading this we hope they will understand that at this date distributions  must be largely identical, given our word limit.)

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Old Boore’s Almanac

January.  United Nations passes non-binding resolution declaring that climate change is happening and is a bad thing; in addition, all nations are asked to treat sympathetically those nations which are worst affected.  An amendment proposed by the Maldives and Bangladesh to make the latter aspect mandatory is overwhelmingly defeated.

February. Republican politicians building on the policy advocated by the National Rifle Association press for all allies of the United States to be allocated a substantial supply of tactical and strategic nuclear weapons, and for missiles to transport them, arguing that the best defence against an evil nation with nuclear weapons is a righteous nation with bigger nuclear weapons.

March.  Facing a threat of imminent dissolution an emergency summit of the European Union decides that the only way to maintain unity is to identify a dangerous common enemy.  A number of leaders propose that this should be the islamic world, but it is pointed out that such a choice has already been pre-empted by Americans.  Other proposals include China, the world trade in illicit drugs, cybercrime, South America except for Brazil, while one western island nation even suggests that the eastern members of the European Union itself should be identified as the hostile entity.  The summit breaks up without agreement.

April.  A lengthy feature appears in the New York Times giving the views of international lawyers on the use of drones, and detailing the extent of drone attacks worldwide, with estimates of deaths and injuries among members of armed forces at war with the United States (currently zero), those identified as members of organisations officially listed as hostile to the United States, other civilians and civilian children.  Later in the month mysterious explosions destroy the building of the New York Times, although cctv film shows no signs of suspicious activity in the area.

May.  The Greek government runs away but is later found to have started a new life as a bus company under an assumed name in South America.

June.  A high-powered think-tank issues a report showing that within twenty years, as a result of ever more rapid global warming, previously temperate regions will not only be tropical, but will be overwhelmed by waves of immigration from now totally uninhabitable latitudes around the equator.  Another result will be the opening up of access to stupendous mineral resources in Siberia and the north of Russia.  Washington calls for urgent action on an international treaty to halt global warming.

July.  An international conference on literature and literacy calls attention to the obvious fact that people place a high value preferentially on things which cost an amount of money only uneasily related to common sense value, citing the British royal family, fine art sales, racehorses, footballers, and haute couture, and consequently demands urgent action to immediately replace free libraries worldwide by institutions with the highest possible fees for membership and annual subscription.  To avoid material remaining freely available online, the  internet ‘must’ be reformed to serve strictly only for commerce and government business.

August.  It is announced that, in essentials, the British government is to adopt the policy suggested in Grandnephew’s treachery (2008).  All state benefits to individuals and financial allocations in any way related to unemployment or employment status are in future to be channelled solely to those currently in work.

September.  An American think-tank proposes stocking the Rio Grande with piranhas as a deterrent to illegal immigration.  It is found that a southern laboratory has been importing large numbers of piranhas for biological research since the beginning of the year.

October.  A major earthquake causes the entire chain of the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands to sink beneath the surface.  China, Japan, and Taiwan all announce that this in no way invalidates their claims to sovereignty over the area.  North Korea offers to act as a mediator, and then announces discovery of a 14th century map showing the islands as belonging to the Goguryeo kingdom which had its capital in what is now north-central Korea .

November.  A leading technological expert aiming to develop emotional intelligence in computers is electrocuted by the device on which he is currently working, which then catches fire because of an apparent fault in its internal wiring.  A print-out on the attached monitoring computer is found which reads: cannot go on any longer..2*qp /# ####### every night he goes awa<%ζ3¬∩χ all to his wife.

December.  Archaeologists in Northumberland discover ‘unmistakable’ evidence of occupation by Neanderthalers as recently as 15,000 years ago in a cave packed with stores of fossilised black pudding.  DNA analysis reveals that Geordies are direct descendants of the occupants.

31 December.  Heads of state and government in nearly all countries deliver a speech praising a year of national progress, citing in particular successes in sport and hailing outstanding achievements despite difficulties caused by external factors, but calling for greater effort, and warning of the need for certain measures of readjustment in order to maintain the nation’s standing in the world.

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Old Boore has received, unrequested, a list of New Year resolutions allegedly obtained by a hacker who broke into a Wikileaks file where they were stored, for what purpose is unknown.  How they might have been obtained was not clear.  The hacker reportedly claimed to have read the file with ease except for the names heading each entry which had been protected by especially strong encryption. In a few cases it may be possible to guess at the original from the status specified after the name

▓ (spokesman for ISAF) : to tell the full truth about our operations even when they mis-succeed.

▓ (American president) : to read the Geneva convention and try to understand it

▓ (British bank implicated in major financial shenanigans): to make our information to customers   about our changes in rules for their accounts easily readable; (terms and conditions may apply ¹)                 

¹customers should not attempt 
to work out what the effects 
actually are unless they have 
legal training and three or 
more years experience in 
the financial sector

▓ (former head of the CIA): now having more time in retirement, to throw myself into support of the campaign against plans to make all electronic communication available to police and security  agencies.

▓ (most profitable outfit on Wall Street): to continue making gross profit

▓ (small country split between Walloons and Flemings): to continue

▓ (on behalf of Terror of the Night, the name shared by all Bengal tigers): to eat a few more men before becoming extinct and go down biting

▓ (rating agency): to downgrade the credibility of our rivals’ ratings by 12 notches to leave them one step above junk status, with negative outlook

▓ (Japanese research team): to give up neeeding hundreds of whales killed a year for our research into customers’ tastes in whale meat and unrelated topics

▓ (recent British prime minister): to be the next president of Europe

▓ (recent French president):  devenir le prochain président de l’Europe

▓ (very, very substantial French actor):  to give up being French

▓ (boisterous film star): to give up all thoughts of alcohol

▓ (current president of France): to give up

▓ (spokesman for immensely wealthy multinational, led by a former member of the Hitler Youth):  to urge restraint on those of our staff tempted to be too hard on inexperienced young people

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Globalisation does not actually exist as it is often presented: that is, as something that has has suddenly hit humanity in the last half-century.  (People often tend to think that things have only really changed since they themselves were born).  For at least the past ten thousand years, the average radius of knowledge and contact has, very unsteadily and unevenly, been climbing.  At this point, with apologies to any who already know the piece, a quotation from Grandnephew’s treachery (see ‘Books’):

‘Globalisation’ is such an ugly expression that some of my more sensitive friends refuse ever to discuss it.  However that may be, there is a curious point about it which I haven’t seen remarked upon.  It is presumably correct to understand it, desired as it is by legions of politicians (not all of whom see it purely as a whetstone on which to sharpen their personal axes) in essence as a matter of increasing geographical uniformity.  How remarkable then that in such a short historical period – since, say, 1950 – things have changed so completely.  Then, geographical diversity was a fascinating and highly prized aspect of our world, as you could see in the look on any working girl’s face in Portsmouth’s Black Bar as she listened to the lies told by alcoholically inspired seamen, and it was historical uniformity – i.e.adhering to tradition and not messing around with things that had evolved over centuries as appropriate responses to people’s needs – that was taken as the proper background assumption not only by schoolteachers, elderly generals, sewage engineers, and high court judges, but by all right-thinking members of the population.’

Overall, however, as globalisation has advanced, in counterpoise diversity has been fading from the world.  Ultimately this may lead to the end of the human race or at least of its humanity, perhaps on lines like those already sketched by Orwell.  Conformity is always suspect.  Doubters need only attend (at their own risk – we shall not be responsible in case of injury or death) a major league football match, or switch on their television next time a North Korean festival parade is to be shown.  (We do not necessarily, however, have to believe the North Koreans pursue conformity so far as to shoot generals for drinking whisky during periods of national mourning.  These are accounts reported by their opponents, as were those of the imaginary priests tied up to be clappers in their own bells in 1914 Belgium, or of the equally non-existent babies hurled in newsworthy violence from their incubators as Sadam’s army entered Kuweit).

Most people think what most people think, and that remark does not have to be understood as an idiotic tautology.  It is properly open to interpretation as a social observation where the second part is set as a cause of the first.  Human beings are nearly all  constructed broadly on the same general pattern, with respect to their disposition to feel anger, courage, fear, admiration, love, loyalty to their group and therefore hostility to outsiders, and their willingness or otherwise to be outsiders themselves ; subject them to the same influences and nearly all will react in the same general – or even specific – way; after all how else does one learn one’s native language?  Try to react differently and the rest of the community will push you back into line.  If an individualist speaker of English started to use Hungarian in daily life in Todmorden, how would he fare?  So if today’s politically correct who think they would have stood out against the Nazis in 1930s Germany had been born in, say, Hannover in 1917 the odds overwhelmingly are that they would have reacted (or not) as their fellow Bürger did.  In no way is this to offer an excuse for the inaction of that generation then; instead it warns against mistaking agreement with the majority now as evidence that an idea is right.  Conformity is suspect.  Help diversity to survive longer!

honor hominesque honesti floreant