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Monday, 17 August 2015

War on European Culture

In a recent post I looked at the apparent assault on western civilisation by the forces of fundamentalist Islam. The post, entitled The Assault on Western Civilisation has now received from a reader the following pertinent observations.
While I share all the views you have expressed, an additional matter appears to be the fundamental distinction between Judaism and Christianity on the one hand, and Islam on the other, in respect of the relationship between religion and the secular power. The former explicitly acknowledge a dichotomy ( Caesar and God of the New Testament; the prophets and kings of the Old Testament); while the latter sees only a seamless web. Consequently, the creative tensions of Europe ( Emperor and Pope; Puritans and the Stuarts) do not significantly exist; and politics in the Islamic world is either mimicry ( Nasser Socialism) or the barbaric Gulf states with primitive and confused tangles of religion and secular power. The static ( regressing?) societies in the ME and Pakistan confirm Islam’s stultifying influence, in contrast to the supple societies in India and China, with the capacity to adjust and advance.   
Europe’s fundamental error was to uncouple immigration from culture, because of the lazy reaction on the Continent to Nazism; and in Britain because the country could not break free from the lie of empire (when it was on its last legs) that there was one big rainbow family; and at the end of World War 2 no politician could admit that victory was concurrent with the collapse of the empire, so the rag bag Commonwealth had to be presented as a better, modernised empire. It has to added that the pretence had, of course, the most hideously lethal consequences in Asia and Africa where a premature and botched partition in the subcontinent saw a million die, and in colonies that were not partitioned ( happy families!) the massacres were postponed, as in Sri Lanka. 
As for Africa, colonialism could not have been more destructive than if the powers had set out to re-enact Carthage ( “they make a desert and they call it peace” – from Tacitus’ seems still peerless). Out of the most primitive societies in the world, 19th Century countries were carved which completely ignored organic and fluid tribal perimeters. And out of these, in turn, came independent Bismarkian states, given the apparatus of armies, governments, police and treasuries: for what? As instruments of incompetence, barbaric oppression and confusion on innumerable occasions. In the organic tribal societies the power to create harm was relatively small: the very backwardness of the societies limited damage, and because they operated in a prescriptive framework, the tribesmen were sane, whole ( albeit backward) people with transmitted codes of behaviour.

I find his observation regarding the difference of approach to 'government' and human authority particularly pertinent. Having discussed this very point with several Muslim friends, there is a stark difference in their view of 'democratic' government and that of everyone else. When teaching a Leadership course in the Middle East, I asked the students to think of some remarkable leaders in their own history and culture who provided good examples of inspiring leadership. I expected to get at least something on the likes of Cyrus the Great, Saladin and one or two others. I got one. The Prophet, in their view the ONLY valid example of 'perfect' leadership. That should tell us everything we need to know. It should also scare the living daylights out of those who loudly demand the contradiction of 'no religion in public' and simultaneously welcome any non-Christian religion to indulge in full on displays on the grounds it is a 'minority culture'.

Nor is Europe alone in the error of uncoupling immigration from culture. In their haste to prove their 'inclusive' and non-racial credentials post war, many liberal thinkers preached the mantra that mono-culture was evil, that it promoted racism and many other ills. Now they try to promote the concept of a 'rainbow' culture that is all things to everyone, and yet it is not, and can never be. As my correspondent says, it has its roots in the myth, created at the end of the war, to promote the idea that the Empire had been a 'family' and that it was simply changing shape to be even more inclusive as it became the 'Commonwealth'.

But the Commonwealth is itself a game of smoke and mirrors. Recent exchanges I have had elsewhere with what I shall call 'Little Englanders' who wish to sever all ties to Europe, are loud in claiming that 'we have the Commonwealth; we don't need Europe.' It is interesting to note that, to them, 'The Commonwealth' is Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, Bermuda and very little more. Mention that it includes Pakistan, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, Zambia and various other basket cases and you get the response of 'Oh, well, they don't really count, and besides, they buy our goods ...' The truth is, that they don't., but that's alright, because we're still part of that great big 'rainbow family' of the Empire. Aren't we?

Almost all of the current upheaval around the world can be traced to Imperial meddling, carving up of land in order to impose European ideas and nations out of diverse and disparate peoples. This is why Turkey has resorted to force against it's Kurdish population, and why the Kurds dream of a nation state of their own that includes territory currently part of Northern Syria, Northern Iraq and Eastern Turkey. It is why Syria is falling apart, and why Iraq is ungovernable.

Studying the history of major population migrations, one quickly realises that Roman culture fell, and their empire failed, when 'migration' reached a point at which there were more 'alien' cultures in their towns and cities than those who followed the Roman pattern. Those who claim that 'Britain has absorbed migrants throughout its history' fail to recognise that the vast majority, until the 20th Century, were European and held similar cultural values and ideals. That is no longer the case, particularly those migrants that 'follow the Prophet'. To them a separation between the Temple and Caesar is unthinkable, so is any 'democratic' decision which flies in the face of their Faith.

History buffs will also know that Byzantium was not conquered overnight, it died by a million small cuts as the Arabic conquerors first learned to manipulate the populace to their line of thought, and then to accept the imposition of a new culture. So it will be with us - thanks in large part to well meant, but hideously misguided, attempts to find simple and pleasing solutions to very complex human problems.

We can but hope that sense, reason and ultimately democracy will prevail. 

Monday, 10 August 2015

Turkey attacking the ISIS?

In recent days I think one of the worst possible moves the US has made in a long time was to throw the Kurds to the Turks in order to gain support and the use of an airbase against the ISIS. Turkey has immediately seized the opportunity to punish the Kurds, labelling them 'terrorists' and bombing them anywhere and everywhere. Since the Kurdish forces were the only effective force against the ISIS thugs, this is likely to rebound badly - particularly on the US and its plans. The Kurds feel they have been betrayed, and they're probably justified.

Turkey's president has his own agenda. Until very recently he has been covertly supporting the ISIS, mainly by NOT doing anything to stem the flow of recruits, but by also refusing to allow the Kurds to pass through Turkey en route to attack these psychopaths. Now, in a cunning move, he's declared that Turkish forces will attack the 'terrorists' in Syria and Iraq - and promptly attacked the Kurds. The Turkish media is, of course, full of stories of how the Kurds are evil terrorists who want to break up the country and will murder all true Turks in their beds. And Uncle Sam, with Washington's usual crass lack of understanding of any non-American culture or nation, has endorsed Turkey's 'war on terror' so it can use an airbase closer to the front.

As I said, I suspect that the result of this little political misstep will lead to even worse problems in the future. Erdogan (pronounced, so I'm told, as Erdo-wan), expected a landslide in the most recent elections. Instead the 25 million Kurds in Turkey gave him a hung Parliament, and now they reap the reward - a purge of all Kurdish Parties and politicians on the grounds they support terrorism. And Uncle Sam, having got what he wanted looks on while Erdogan's armed forces round up his opposition at home and bomb the Kurds more heavily than they are doing to the ISIS. Turkey has a long and bloody history when it comes to minorities and minority rights. I wonder if anyone in Washington has even heard of the Armenian Genocide. Perhaps they haven't, but I suspect they may now be a party to a new and perhaps more subtle form in Erdogan's war on the Kurds.

I expect it looked good on paper. But the payback may be something Washington may not like in the longer term.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Islamic Dress? What's that?

Am I the only reader of news media who is constantly irritated by the reference, when addressing anything to do with any prominent follower of Islam, to their wearing 'Islamic Dress'? This usually is a reference to someone wearing the 'tribal' outfit of either some Bedouin group, or some group from Pakistan, Afghanistan or Bangladesh. I note it is also abused when referring to women in headscarves, burkhas or the rather strange 'coats' worn by women in Iran and neighbouring states under theocratic rule.

Would someone please tell these so-called 'journalists' that THERE IS NO SUCH THING as Islamic Dress! It is a fiction spread by certain fundamentalist elements of the Islamic faith and widely spread by the terminally ignorant mouthpieces of 'Political Correctness' and other so-called 'liberal' claptrap. Frankly, it is insulting to call those of that persuasion 'liberal' since they are generally everything except 'liberal'. The Quran makes no reference to how its adherents should dress other than to say it should be 'with modesty'. Choosing to wear Bedouin robes in the UK or Europe, or the tribal outfits one associates with the many ethnic groups scattered about the Near and Middle East is NOT a statement of faith, but a matter of personal choice in clothing.

Islam is a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-national faith. Not everyone who follows it is an Arab - indeed many of its followers get quite annoyed by the suggestion they might be - just as not every European is French. To say that its adherents must all wear the same thing, or even that there is such a thing as one 'Islamic' outfit is stupid in the extreme. It is the equivalent of saying that all Baptists and Non-Conformist Christians MUST wear black suits with knee breeches, white stockings, buckled shoes and wide starched white collars with an obligatory wide brimmed tall crowned hat with a prominent buckle! With their womenfolk in grey or brown dresses and white bonnets. Or that all members of the Church of England must wear Tudor pantaloons and puffed sleeved coats with Canterbury caps, and their wives in wimples, corsets and floor length dresses. And the Romans? Monks habits and nuns habits for the lot of them. What complete twaddle!

There is no such thing as "Islamic Dress" just as there is no such thing as "Christian Dress" unless you belong to a religious order, or one of the Sects that impose such a thing. If some so-called 'preacher' like Mr Choudray chooses to wear the outfit of his homeland that is a matter of his choose. It does NOT mean that he is any more Islamic than me wandering around in a cassock makes me any more "Christian".

Would some editor, somewhere, please sack the next lazy journalist who uses this inane and frankly inaccurate expression in a report!

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Capitalism's Last Gasp?

If the latest plethora of books on the subject is anything to go by - probably not. An article in The Spectator critiques the latest offering by a C4 presenter and Left wing ideologue. Yet again, a left winger is predicting that Capitalism is doomed, and that it will be replaced by 'greater sharing of resources' - which seems to be Left wing speak for 'Sodomy non sapiens'. Essentially, this prediction has been trotted out since Marx and probably before him and they still haven't managed to come up with a workable alternative.

Capitalism is as old as humanity. I would suggest that it began when Ugg first discovered that he could trade a leg of mammoth for a months supply of fish, which could be traded for a wife, new sandals, a years supply of leather loincloths and a bag full of freshly napped arrow heads and axes. That he could trade those for the rest of the year and keep everyone else working to supply him with more trade opportunities and food probably arrived at the same moment. And, I would venture, that ever since some 'thinker' in the group has whinged that Ugg's enterprise approach to trade is 'unfair' and fails to 'distribute the proceeds evenly.

I suspect that Capitalism, love it or hate it, will always be around in some form. The reason is that, unlike the Left's ideal society and system, it is flexible. It responds to change. It adapts, and it rewards effort, enterprise and innovation - all of which are anathema to the sort of 'managed' redistributive economic systems favoured by most people on the Left of the political spectrum. Ironically efforts to 'control' economic activity, or to redistribute the rewards usually result in a widening of the gaps between 'rich' and 'poor' and ultimately in the 'means of production' actually being moved entirely abroad.

Recently I have indulged myself, reading some of Owen Jones' work and making an attempt to read several other tomes on 'non-capitalist' economic systems. I've given up. None of them seems able to see that any system such as they propose doesn't actually 'fix' anything. In fact they simply exchange to entrepreneur with some Party Hack and associated Apparatchiks who reward themselves and patronise everyone else in the name of 'fairness'. Nor do they seem able to recognise that every attempt to create the sort of systems they favour fail for the same reason every time. People do not like being told what they may and may not have. They do not like having some faceless bureaucrat serving a 'leader' enjoying the fruits of everyone else's labours, telling them they aren't entitled to some reward for their efforts because it is 'unfair' to the bone idle twerp they work alongside.

As The Spectator article says -
Oddly enough, the recent batch of left-wing doom and conspiracy books, from those of Russell Brand and Owen Jones to the more serious and informed Mason, point to a unified worldview. This sees human beings in democracies not as people with free will and unimaginable potential, but as inanimate beings to whom things are done. 
I do agree that raw unadulterated Capitalism produces some big inequalities, but teaching me to be envious of the guy who ventures his capital (earned or unearned) in some new business venture and strikes it rich, isn't addressing the problem. Most folk need only three things - a regular income, security and a 'home'. Yes there are those who live in sixty room mansions, own a yacht and four cars, but most of us never could even if we lived in some Left wing Utopia.

If there is one thing I have learned reading history and travelling in my work capacity, it is that there is a distinction between ideological theory and reality. I would love to see a more equal society in which no one goes hungry, no one is homeless or without medical care, but I also recognise that, no matter how attractive the ideological theory, it is unlikely to be achieved in any human society. Simply because humans are not all the same. We come with all manner of personal abilities, skills and ambitions. Ideology seldom takes account of that. In addition every Left wing regime I have ever encountered ran on the same principle - the belief that the 'State' owned the money in everyone's pockets and could spend it. So they floated loans, printed more money, raised taxes until it hurt, spent the money and then wondered why their economies flatlined. As Mr Micawber famously said; "Income Twenty Pounds per annum, Expenditure Nineteen Pounds, nineteen shillings and sixpence - happiness. Expenditure Twenty Pounds and sixpence - disaster." A lesson there the Left simply refuse to learn. Their solution to everything - raise taxes! Tax the rich until the pips squeak as one Left wing Chancellor of the Exchequer put it. The result of his idiocy was a massive departure of 'capital' and a fall in revenue income.

Recently I was surprised to learn that in present day Russia income tax is a flat rate irrespective of income. Health care, social welfare and so on are all set at 'basic' levels. If you want better, you are free to buy it, but the 'State' doesn't provide it. That applies across a range of former communist countries, and, contrary to what writers like Owen Jones believe was the case, often this replaces a system where everyone paid for the best for the ruling elites, and got just the basic care themselves. Many other nations have similar systems. Hong Kong was one and still is, and China, Taiwan, India and several other major growing economies have the same idea - one rate of tax for everyone. In Hong Kong the super rich were encouraged to be 'philanthropic' - and they were often very generous.

I have to agree with the writer of The Spectator article. There is clearly something in the left wing mindset that refuses to acknowledge that no system is entirely 'fair'. Or that there will always be inequalities. That, after all, is the human condition.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Hunting for 'Sport' ...

I think there is something seriously wrong with someone who chooses to spend a large amount of money to go to some distant country (and sometimes stay within his own) just so he (or she) can kill some large animal as a 'trophy'. It is one thing entirely to kill an animal for food, it is another to kill something just to show how 'powerful/rich/manly' you are. What I find utterly despicable about the case of the dentist who shot Cecil the iconic lion, is that he didn't need to kill the beautiful beast, and then he made a mess of it. His accomplices lured the animal out of a Game Reserve, and given that Cecil was so well known, and used to people, he was a sitting target, and they knew it. Then, just to add insult, this would be 'hunter' uses a bow and arrow - and wounds him.

Then the buffoons lose track of the injured animal and it suffered for forty hours before they finally killed it with a rifle. Some hunters, some 'big' man this dentist. Now it emerges he makes a bit of a habit of killing big animals for 'sport'. Not because they are a pest, or threatening anyone - just because he gets a thrill out of it.

I am very aware of the arguments that revolve around the ecology/conservation issue, specifically that 'culling/killing' older animals 'improves' the 'bloodline' and the money pays for more 'conservation'. Further arguments make the point that it is not the hunting that is the problem, but the 'loss of habitat'. Both arguments advanced by owners of parks or companies that organise hunting. There is no doubt that there is a problem with habitat, and there is equally no doubt that there is some very big money to be made from killing animals under all manner of guises. This is, perhaps, where the biggest problems lie, particularly in Africa. The money goes largely to the personal bank accounts of the arrangers, and the 'license fees' usually vanish in backhanders to various officials to 'look the other way'. How many more Cecils must we lose before someone calls time on this slaughter of our vanishing wildlife? Particularly on the dwindling 'trophy' animals?

Poaching is a major problem and some 'target' animals are being pushed to the edges of extinction. How, therefore, can a wealthy 'tourist' obtain a permit to shoot and kill a Northern Black Rhinoceros when there are, according official sources only FOUR left in the wild! The lion population in Africa is crashing, down now to 25,000 according to conservation groups from 150,000 thirty years ago. Tanzania's President has just sold 1.8 million km2 of the Masai Mara to the Emir of Dubai as 'private hunting park'. Not unnaturally the Masai are not happy about being cleared from their traditional land, and conservation groups are not happy about having a chunk of one of the most diverse habitats for Africa's dwindling animal population turned over to 'hunting' -- private or otherwise.

Of course the usual argument that the hunting will be 'good for the diversity' is being trotted out. Frankly, it just doesn't hold water! Not in the Masai Mara!

The argument that 'loss of habitat' makes it necessary to 'cull' these beautiful animals is as much a commentary on the human race as it is on the hunters who advance it in defence of their 'sport'. The human animal is the only one that does not regulate its birthrates and population. All the African wildlife, and I should think everywhere else's, expands or contracts its numbers in a sort of harmony with food supply. That is, as long as 'humankind' don't interfere. It is well known that the 'big cats' restrict their breeding when food is in short supply, and so do most of the herd animals - humans don't. So our populations keep expanding, and restricting the space for the animal population.

Add in big money being offered by human population groups who have already decimated their own natural fauna in search of 'ingredients' for their 'traditional medicine' and then add in the inadequates with vast fortunes and the urge to prove how big they are by shooting everything that has horns or fangs and claws, and we are headed for the extinction of all the 'trophy' animals they want to kill. What then? Perhaps we should start issuing hunting permist to bag a 'Big Game Hunter'. That might address more than one problem.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Just who is Turkey fighting?

I suspect the belated entry of Turkey into the conflict against the ISIS has guaranteed its failure. Washington, displaying its usual complete ignorance (or perhaps wilful blindness) of the many factions and tensions, has welcomed the attacks on the Kurdish PKK positions, labelling them 'terrorists' and, conveniently, overlooking the fact these were the only fighters on the ground having any success against the ISIS thugs. So, we let our 'ally' bomb them - as long as they also put a few bombs on the ISIS. I begin to think the US is incapable of learning from past mistakes and incapable of recognising that the 'enemy of our enemy is NOT our friend.'

It has been pretty obvious to everyone - except Washington apparently - that Turkey has been quietly supporting the ISIS against Syria's Assad. The Kurds defeating the ISIS attempt to seize Kobane, and their success at driving them out of the surrounding countryside there, plus successes against them on other fronts have obviously worried the Turkish government. The fear of a successful Kurdish military in Syria and Iraq is, in my view, the most obvious reason the Turks have finally decided to strike at the ISIS. It provides the perfect cover for their attacking the Kurds, and for attempting to weaken and destroy the Kurdish forces at the same time.

Were I a betting man I would put money on the next move being military strikes and occupation of the Turkish Kurdish provinces and an attempt to occupy the Kurdistan region of Iraq. In the interests of 'suppressing terrorist bases' of course. And Washington is going to go along with this, tacitly allowing the Turks to pull off a suppression of Kurdish nationalism. Just so we can maintain the status quo of the Kurds being split up between three or four 'states' created at the end of WW1 with no regard whatever to the original populations.

Turkey has called an emergency meeting of NATO for tomorrow, the reason is, I think, obvious. They want to declare a state of emergency in the Kurdish provinces and extract a promise from the NATO nations of 'non-intervention' in their 'internal affairs'. And the NATO powers will, proverbially, throw the only effective resistance to the ISIS on the ground, to the lions.

Expedience and politics is the major cause of much of the terror problem we face. It is not new, we've been doing it for centuries, and it has never brought 'stability', only laid the ground for the next conflict and the next 'enemy' to grow and develop. Already the Turkish action against the Kurds is producing a backlash. It will get worse, and the Turks know it, and perhaps are even deliberately provoking it. Their 'fear' of the PKK strengthening its position may well have led them into a dead end which may well now produce the very thing they are afraid of - an internal conflict that can escalate into a civil war while they try to contain the external threat of the ISIS. In fact, Turkey's action in attacking a group that should be an ally, is very likely now going to drive the PKK into joining forces with the ISIS.

THAT is something I think nobody will enjoy.

Friday, 24 July 2015

Turkey and the ISIS

In what could be a case of 'biting the hand that fed them', ISIS sent in a suicide bomber to blow up a lot of Turlish citizens. That may have been a serious miscalculation on their part. Turkey, obsessed with keeping the Kurdish population firmly under their rule and the Kurdish province in Turkey, has been tacitly letting the ISIS thugs do as they please along their border with Syria and Iraq. As long as it was 'only Kurds' in the firing line, no intervention, no restriction on the 'recruit road' across the border.

Now it seems to have come back to bite.

Politics makes strange bedfellows out of temporary expediency. West governments have fallen into the same trap, arming and supporting 'opposition to Assad', only to find we have armed and supported a monster as more and more of the 'anti-Assad' groups joined the ISIS. Turkey has made the same blunder, tacitly aiding and abetting the ISIS in its early stages presumably in the hope that this would force their restless Kurdish population into toeing the line. The reverse has happened, and this blunder may now cost Turkey dearly - and not just in further ISIS incursions and bombings. Turkey has a very chequered history when it comes to its 'minority' populations. Possibly the only thing that has prevented the Kurds suffering the same fate as the Armenians is that there are more of them, they occupy a large chunk of Eastern Turkey, and there are even more resident across the borders inIraq and Syria. Plus, of course, genocide is now a definite no-no in the eyes of the international community.

So Erdogan's refusal to allow Kurdish Peshmerger fighters passage to the relief of Kobani now seems like it will rebound. Perhaps is already rebounding. Western politicians would do well to remember this as well. Our recent history is littered with failures to grasp the concept that the 'enemy of my enemy is NOT necessarily my friend' and may well turn and bite when it suits them. Again and again, we have armed groups of 'freedom fighters' only to find their ultimate aim is as far from our 'vision' as it could be. Dare one mention the Russian inspired overthrow of the Afghan Kingdom by 'Marxists' which ruined a country and destroyed a complete society when the tribesmen rebelled? What did we do? Oh, we gave the Mujaheddin weapons, and they, in turn, morphed into the Taliban.

Similar situations have and still do, tear African populations apart. Where do the weapons in Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan, Chad, and so on come from? Where did they come from originally? Ah, now that is the question ...

I learned recently from a police friend, that it is now generally agreed among security services that it has never been easier for dissidents to get hold of weapons, and it seems there are always people willing to bankroll them - once again falling for the 'the enemy of my enemy is ..." line. Well, I suspect Turkey is about to learn the hard way, that when it comes to 'terror' groups - they can never be regarded as 'friends.'