Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Daily Ablution's interview with Michael Crichton

The Daily Ablution ("Washing brains since 2003") has been a favourite blog of mine for some time now, delighting in Burgess's use of logic, clear thinking and simple ability to actually research a subject to lay bare the utter stupidity that underpins so much of what appears in today's media etc.

His recent demolitions of wild, hysterical and (most importantly) factually inaccurate and unsupported claims about links between the spread of so-called 'American capitalism' and mental illness (easily refutable by checking readily available data), the prospect of the Amazon becoming a desert etc are always as amusing as they are analytical and scarifying.

But we seem to live in times where to think logically and clearly is almost considered to be a bad thing, with no secular or religious superstition too absurd to be taken seriously.

Strange times.

Anyway, go here and enjoy!

Monday, March 19, 2007

The Pentagon admitted to what again?

Okay, another day, another blatantly misleading and dishonest headline.

The local rag here, The West Australian (never even a particularly good provincial newspaper) obviously took the story and the attendant headline "Pentagon admits: It's civil war" straight off the wire and was too lazy to bother reading it.

I mean, how else to account for a headline and opening paragraph that actually runs counter to and is contradicted by the detail in the article?

There is the tell-tale sign of a biased hack projecting his or her opinions onto a story, irrespective of the facts.

It's almost always a dead give away - the actual report or whatever else is being discussed isn't directly quoted from until well into the article.

Keep an eye out for this. You'll see what I mean.

Sure enough, it isn't until the fourth paragraph that the report's views on whether the situation in Iraq is a civil war or not are referred to, and the fifth paragraph before there's an actual quote from it.

Now, the truly astounding thing here is that it is the fourth paragraph itself that contradicts the headline and opening paragraph, and shows that whoever wrote them was either deliberately lying or was simply incompetently projecting their own views onto the story.

It's right there. And in English too! "The report agreed that the term [civil war] did not capture the complex situation [in Iraq]."

Er, that doesn't sound much like an admission of anything does it? Didn't anybody at The West pause and think about this clear disjunction between claim and reality?

The nearest you get is the fifth paragraph's direct quote from the report that "some elements of the situation in Iraq are properly descriptive of a civil war..."

Again, not exactly the red meat the headline screamingly promised is it?

Surely the logical corollary of "some elements" being descriptive of a civil war is that other elements are not descriptive of it.

It seems pretty clear that what the report is saying is little more than the situation remains essentially unchanged - the country remains on a knife edge and one possible outcome is civil war.

But large sections of the media, who opposed the overthrow of Saddam from the very beginning, are forever seeking to justify their 'progressive' judgement to effectively support the continued rule of a mass-murdering fascist.

The Sydney Morning Herald's Paul McGeough has been calling civil war in Iraq since about, oh, the day after the invasion began some four years ago! ;)

And what they want to see is what they make sure they see, and inconvenient facts are not going to be allowed to get in the way of their real target - George Bush.

And if that means betraying the Iraqis and refusing to listen to them (what would they know about Iraq before and after the invasion anyway?), so be it.

But hey, guess what? Some of us do think that the ordinary Iraqi is central to this and more important than giving vent to arrogant and elitist disdain for poor Dubbya.

So what do the Iraqis think? A new poll, involving a large sample of 5,000 people in Iraq makes for interesting reading.

First off, seeing as we've talked about the so-called civil war there, fully 61% of Iraqis (against 27% with a contrary opinion) believe that the country is in the grips of such a conflict.

But again, what would they know eh?

And talk about ingratitude for the selfless work of the "peace" movement, which tried so hard to protect Saddam and keep him and his two psycho boys in the lavish lifestyles they had become so accustomed to!

Most Iraqis still think that they are better off now than under Saddam and remain confident about the future.

But this just reconfirms previous polling.

So what were the "anti-war" protestors actually protesting about yesterday, here and around the world?

The invasion happened and Saddam was deposed. Now, even if you honestly believed that was on balance not a wise foreign policy choice (fair enough), the fact remains that we are now in support of a democratically elected government which is being assailed by a mix of secular and religious fascists.

To leave now would increase the likelihood of this embryonic democracy failing and being replaced by people such as those who have recently tried to set off chlorine gas bombs in the midst of civilians. People who have shown themselves to be remorseless and indiscriminate killers.

But of course the truth is that the "peace" movement couldn't care less about ordinary Iraqis and were quite happy to let them continue to die pointless, degrading and horrible deaths every day, as long as the Americans couldn't be blamed, as they were under Saddam. And gee, it didn't take them long to forget about Saddam's specially trained police rapists did it? Or that women were often raped in front of their children.

Or the interesting variation of children being tortured in front of their parents.

And so too the real motivation of too many in the media.

It's all Bush, all the time.

And everything has to be fitted into that overarching schema.

But those "ignorant" Iraqis don't care about the meta-cause, the defining principal of Bush Derangement Syndrome, that underpins so much of this nonsense.

They want the violence to stop and the Americans to go. But they are glad Saddam is gone and they want a better future for their kids, and they are smart enough to know that if America loses its courage now that that better future will not arrive.

Saturday, March 17, 2007


This can be defined as people being entitled to stuff according to collective rather than individual right.

This might look harmless at first sight. People may like the idea, finding comfort in the thought that we are all in it together. But it conceals a collection of fundamentally unsustainable thinking.

Collective rights get rid of the traditional ideas about right and wrong, obligation and ownership.

Traditionally judgements about people, whether they've done something good and bad, whether something is theirs to do what they like with it, focus on what they did, what their intentions were, and what the results were. Did I help or harm anyone? Did I mean good or bad? Was I responsible for what happened? Most of us are pretty familiar with this from our dealings with friends and family.

Collectivism replaces this way of thinking with group rights.

Where traditional right and wrong highlights your actions, collectivism highlights your identity -- what group do you belong to?

Where traditional right and wrong stresses your responsibility, collectivism stresses your status -- can you claim some kind of victim status?

Where traditional right and wrong seeks to examine your motives, collectivism examines your entitlement -- what assistance/compensation is on offer for people in your group?

Where traditional right and wrong looks at you in relation to other people, collectivism looks at you in relation to society or "the community" -- are you a victim of society? Are you an enemy of the community?

These alternative beliefs run deep and spawn their own vocabulary, intended to cloud meaning. For instance, people are assessed according to whether they, and others like them, help or hinder "social justice". This, if it means anything, is mere shorthand for the opinion that it is unjust for people not to receive more or less (depending on how hardline you are) the same income.

People are not described according to who they are, but against the backdrop of membership of a "community". This brings up a load of pre-set judgements about that community, particularly its entitlements, as the foundation for assessing a person's actions.

Prisoners, racial minorities, religious minorities, rich people, poor people, single parents, married parents, property developers, the homeless, sick people, old people, children, immigrants and natives. People are increasingly classed according to what group they belong to, and which grouping is relevant at the time.

As a result, we have democratic nations which are barely capable of controlling their borders or a decision about who should be a citizen. This inability to make fundamental decisions about existence makes perfect sense in the collectivist mindset.

As a result, we get public disturbance and national concern over something so trivial and irrelevant as cartoons published in another country -- see the Danish Mohammed cartoon Jihad. This absurd situation is entirely natural within collectivist thinking about group sensitivity.

As a result, people in France Germany and Italy are forced by the state to spend 50 to 55% of their incomes on state projects, where public deficits are run up to unrepayable levels, and where future generations are mortgaged to the hilt before they are born. Rushing toward economic collapse in this way makes sense if you have adopted the foggy unreality of collectivist language.

As a result, the majority of European people assume that the state can, should and will provide for every major decision which adults normally make: educating your children, caring for your elderly, your social insurance, your retirement income, your healthcare, what sort of house you can live in, your working hours, how much holiday you can take, and TV entertainment. And, as a result, European people aggressively resist any mention that this dependent luxury should not continue to increase forever. If one accepts the basic collectivist assumptions, such self-destructive obstinacy is brave and sensible, and becomes the brave defence of justice and principal.

This is the poisonous root of collectivism. I’ll try to look at how it arises, and some of its offshoots, next time.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


I’d like to look deeper at problems within western democracies, especially European ones.

What’s happening? Why? And what can be done about it?

I hope my mates here won't mind the focus on Europe, since (a) I’m in the European corner of our global quartet, (b) the tendrils of those problems are dragging Europe to the front, and (c) although problems are worst in Europe, they don’t end there.

They can be traced in every stable democracy: America, Australia, Canada, and even the newer democracies in Latin America and eastern Europe. Which makes it the more relevant to examine what they will lead to, by looking where they have the most devastating potential.

Those problems can be summed up as: welfare vs. economic survival; Islam vs. democracy; and statism vs. freedom.

Think of Europe as a field under a virulent weed.

Think of “Collectivism” as its poisonous philosophical root.

Think of the material circumstances which support and feed that root as the soil.

Think of the intellectual offshoots as the stinking flowers: dependence; inability to face threats to survival; anti-Americanism; general amorality.

Think of the political offshoots as the choking tendrils: economic decline; Islamic demographic surge; state reliance. The third is the worst and supports the others.

These offshoots are often condemned by those frustrated by European politics. But rarely tugged apart to reveal the root and soil beneath. Because, whilst the costs of inaction are gruesome, the apparent remedies are too unpalatable to discuss.

But the harshness of the outlook, and the lack of people doing it, makes the search for remedies more relevant.

I’d like to start with the philosophical root: Collectivism. What is it? How does it arise? And how does it lead to the baffling ineffectuality and amorality of modern European politics?

Then, perhaps, to dig into the soil beneath, and look for a solution that won’t kill it and might even grow something good.

Collectivism. Next time!

Tuesday, March 6, 2007