Friday, 19 January 2018

"All evils are due to a lack of knowledge"



These remarks by quantum physicist David Deutsch, in his recent book, remind me why it is hard to take the views of scientists seriously except when they talk about science.


"What I call optimism is the proposition that all evils are due to a lack of knowledge and that knowledge is attainable by the methods of reason and science. I think the arguments against that proposition are as untenable as ever."

He doesn't realise the elementary fact that human consciousness is the only important and scientifically verifiable thing in the universe and he does not know that evil is ineradicable.

Scrabbling around on the net I find he has also said

“As the physicist Stephen Hawking put it, humans are ‘just a chemical scum on the surface of a typical planet that’s in orbit round a typical star on the outskirts of a typical galaxy’. The proviso ‘in the cosmic scheme of things’ is necessary because the chemical scum evidently does have a special significance according to values that it applies to itself, such as moral values. But the Principle says that all such values are themselves anthropocentric: they explain only the behaviour of the scum, which is itself insignificant.”

He does know that:
“Humans, people and knowledge are not only objectively significant: they are by far the most significant phenomena in nature – the only ones whose behaviour cannot be understood without understanding everything of fundamental importance.”

But any child knows this.


I have read people on Facebook - American Democrats, actually - say that with progress we can get rid of the bad things in human nature. This explains their wish to change human nature and change the world. They think that by changing the world they can eliminate wickedness. It would be a charmingly absurd way of thinking did it not cause so much harm.


They think that we come into the world innocent and bad things happen to us that make us bad.

This is what the people think who are busily remaking the world. The liberals that is, who want to prevent global warming and want to remake sex. 

The other people who are remaking the world are the nihilists, such as the Marxists and Islamists.

And then there are the so called conservatives.


Young men, eternal boys and the war against the sexes



Prof Susan Sawyer, director of the centre for adolescent health at the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne, writing in Lancet Child and Adolescent Health, suggests that 10-24 are now the years of adolescence. She wants council 'youth support' services to be available to people up to the age of 24.


Denis Stone, the protagonist of Aldous Huxley's novel Crome Yellow, is described as an adolescent of 26. He was a sheltered, well heeled young man but nowadays adolescence regularly lasts till 30 and in a few extreme cases 40. 

Jordan Peterson, Critical Theory and the New Bourgeoisie



That interview of Professor Jordan Peterson by Cathy whatever her name is on Channel 4, is causing quite a stir, at least among my Facebook friends and on my twitter feed. 

Might it be a turning point?


A lots of good things have been written about it. I liked this article by Uri Harris in Quillette entitled
Jordan B Peterson, Critical Theory, and the New Bourgeoisie.

It contains the insight:
The identity of the group providing the intellectual foundation for both critical theory and the social justice movement are mostly white middle-and-upper-class intellectuals from the political left in advanced Western economies. It may be more illuminating to see this group’s interests as the driving force of societal change, rather than those of the ever-changing group of the powerless. In effect, the intellectuals of the political left are creating the type of society they personally want to live in. ‘The powerless’ are temporary allies on this journey.
Over the past few decades, this group has become increasingly powerful, essentially becoming a bourgeoisie much like the one Marx and the early critical theorists were criticising, and using many of the same mechanisms: suppressing criticism through control of the news media and now social media, enforcing rigid etiquette in speech and behaviour, using the education system to teach its values, and most importantly, representing its own interests as universal values and beliefs.


Critical theory and Gramscian Marxism have taken hold in universities and we have reached the stage when, without one noticing, non feminist and anti feminist arguments are almost never heard these days. 

Why don't people say that equality is a chimera and hierarchy is the way the universe is organised? Everyone is created differently and placed differently.

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Japanese Prime Minister arrives but there is no government for him to meet



The Japanese prime minister arrived in Bucharest the day after the Romanian prime minister, and by extension the government, resigned. Japanese officials met with the President a day early and with Romanian civil servants, for want of ministers.

Bad timing by the majority Social Democratic party. Romanians are understandably angry.

I remember when the Slovenian president walked down the steps of the plane at Bucharest while the band played the Slovak national anthem. This led to a lot of Romanian self flagellation, but a Slovenian diplomat said rather sweetly, 
'Don't worry. It happens all the time.'

Daily Telegraph describes Austrian Chancellor as far-right



Every day it seems there's another low point in British political culture. The British conservative quality paper The Daily Telegraph regularly calls Viktor Orban, the Hungarian Prime Minister, as far right.  
Today it described the Chancellor of Austria as far-right.
ANGELA MERKEL yesterday took issue with her far-right Austrian counterpart at their first official meeting. The German chancellor and Sebastian Kurz disagreed on immigration when Mrs Merkel said his country's resistance to taking a share of  refugees was "wrong".
People who remember General Franco and Sir Oswald Mosley know what to think of this.

Jordan Peterson tosses and gores a harpy called Cathy Newman



This interview on Channel 4 with Jordan Peterson is worth watching because Professor Peterson is a fascinating and deep man. He makes the point that you need to grow up to achieve happiness.


This is a harsh truth in a world of pueri aeterni. There are many reasons why men do not grow up these days. One is that suits the liberal state for them to remain infantile and passive.

The interviewer who instead of wanting to learn from such an interesting thinker, is very rude and hostile to him, is a tedious egalitarian harpy. Wikipedia says she was educated

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Quotations from Jordan Peterson



“Women select men. That makes them nature, because nature is what selects. And you can say "Well it's only symbolic that women are nature", it's like no, it's not just symbolic. The woman is the gatekeeper to reproductive success. And you can't get more like nature than that, in fact it's the very definition of nature.”


“Of course, my socialist colleagues and I weren’t out to hurt anyone – quite the reverse. We were out to improve things – but we were going to start with other people. I came to

Seen on Facebook



"I'm currently in Australia. The country strikes me as the model future vision of Liberal society. Shiny glass boxes, no history, no culture, no religion. No depth, everything is surface. The perennial present, where one day is exactly like the next. The only thing people talk about is food and property. There is nothing to see or do here bar restaurants. The people are like the drugged-up optimists of Huxley's "Brave New World" except they don't need soma - it comes naturally to them.

"As a Northern European I long for depth and history. Our culture may be broken but I like to take refuge in the shadows of the fallen masonry."

Quotations



People are always shouting they want to create a better future. It's not true. The future is an apathetic void of no interest to anyone. The past is full of life, eager to irritate us, provoke and insult us, tempt us to destroy or repaint it. The only reason people want to be masters of the future is to change the past.

Milan Kundera


And herein, I think, all the philosophers of the newest age are open to a serious criticism. What they do not possess is real standing in actual life. Not one of them has intervened effectively, either in higher politics, in the development of modern technics, in matters of communication, in economics, or in any other big actuality, with a single act or a single compelling idea. Not one of them counts in mathematics, in physics, in the science of government, even to the extent that Kant counted. Let us glance at other times. Confucius was several times a minister. Pythagoras was the organizer of an important

Monday, 15 January 2018

'Theresa is more pro European than me.' David Cameron in 2015

"There's a spectrum. George is more pro European than me, so is Theresa, then there's me, then there's Boris and you."
David Cameron to Michael Gove, November 2015, quoted by Tim Shipman in 'All Out War', a Christmas present.

Octav Dragan: today in Herăstrău park, Bucharest

Image may contain: tree, snow, sky, outdoor and nature

Saturday, 13 January 2018

The Democrats are trying to hang Trump out to dry: I don't think they are succeeding


“The Democrats, the longer they talk about identity politics, I got ’em. I want them to talk about racism every day. If the left is focused on race and identity, and we go with economic nationalism, we can crush the Democrats.” Steve Bannon 

President Trump, in a private conversation with congressmen, is said to have used an ugly word, 's-hole', to describe Haiti and African countries. 


A British diplomat seconded to the UN called Rupert Colville has denounced this as racist, which is piffle. 

Handing back Hong Kong

I was just told that Israel takes 55% of its fresh water from the sea. Couldn't Britain have arranged for Hong Kong to desalinate sea water rather than handing it to China in 1997, when the lease on the New Territories, with their water supply, expired?

It is so sad for so many reasons that Hong Kong now belongs to China.

Sick of tourism


I am so happy to be back and so blessed to live in Romania.

I find Bucharest in the rain in January far more beautiful and moving than any location at the far end of the world. Especially not the tourist choked locations.


I am giving up on visiting touristland. 


Cambodia in all has five million tourists a year. Vietnam has ten million, Thailand has 33 million and Burma almost three million. In each case the number is growing in leaps and bounds. I'd probably go somewhere else if I were you.

Freedom of speech is a memory in England



Northumbria Police carefully investigated all the comments left on its Facebook page about the Operation Shelter scandal, in which young white girls in were groomed, sexually abused and trafficked by mostly Muslim men of Pakistani descent in Newcastle.

They did so after a member of the public complained that a number of posts referred to the race and religion of the 18 people convicted in the case.

The police tracked down six people who left comments “deemed to be offensive and potentially criminal”.


“Following an investigation, which has now concluded, we spoke to two males as voluntary attenders and visited a further four people in their homes, and provided them with words of advice. All expressed their remorse and stated that the intention of their comments was not to cause concern or to be offensive and have acknowledged the words of advice provided. 
"We would also like to take this opportunity to remind people using social media that they should do so responsibly and ensure they do not post anything which could be considered offensive.”

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Universities should be on-line, free and open to anyone

Universities should not be businesses. They should be free, online (a handful of historic ones excepted) and not passports to employability. All undergraduates should be set an exam in major pre-1900 poets.

The world is an airport



Measuring my life in cappuccinos.




The world increasingly resembles the shopping area in a vast international airport. No air or grass or roots but there are worse things. This is in fact the 19th century liberal dream of free trade bringing peace and prosperity. And a shopping area is nothing more than a bazaar but one with the same brands in every corner of the world.




Nations survive as Thai and Mexican restaurants and even a pub, though not the smoky, family-unfriendly pub full of opinionated old men and subversive opinions, loudly voiced, that we formerly knew.




And in the background men (and women) with machine guns.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Marxism a staging post to a purely technological society

Here is an interesting article about Augustino Del Noce, an Italian Catholic philosopher who thought Marxism merely a staging post on the road to a purely technological civilisation. 

He predicted during the Cold War that Marxism would move from concern for the workers to concern for sexual freedom, a freedom derived from a gnostic contempt for the body.

Love is in the air



A Syrian asylum seeker who belonged to Isis has been found guilty at the Bailey of plotting to build a bomb with a woman he met on a Muslim dating site called SingleMuslim.com.


There is an offbeat romantic comedy in this, perhaps set to music.

Theresa May is no more conservative (or talented) than Hillary Clinton

So Theresa May's long heralded reshuffle, intended to make her cabinet 'less male and pale', didn't happen when two of her cabinet ministers refused to be reshuffled. 

I am glad that she didn't win a majority at the election. Imagine what this woman would be like if she had a 90 seat majority.

Odi profano vulgus



I have given up on touristland. 


Angkor War (its Hindu temples are beautiful and romantic while comparatively untouristed Bagan's are neither) had seven thousand tourists a year in the mid 1990s. Now a million come many staying in swish comfortable hotels with swimming pools.

As Santayana said, luxury requires an aristocratic setting to make it attractive. Upmarket mass tourism isn't, though it is fun. 


It does bring a lot of money to poor countries like Cambodia, though a lot or most of the money goes abroad, while it does a lot of harm to ancient places too.

As a hotelier told me once, tourism is a branch of the entertainment industry.

Which is fine except that industry means being part of a factory line.


I'll stick to Romania and England in future and other offbeat places. Algeria is perfect for the moment. Georgia and Armenia should still be relatively undiscovered, though the Georgian seaside resort of Batumi went from being 1970s Havana to being Las Vegas in five or six years.
I just met a man who has been to Ethiopia three times and would like to go back. I want to return there too. And to Mozambique, Algeria, Egypt and Cuba, but not to other exotic places I've been lucky enough to visit. Unless exotic includes Georgia and Armenia, which it doesn't really.

I probably won't return to Asia beyond the Muslim world. 


"Yes, Sir; there are two objects of curiosity, — the Christian world, and the Mahometan world. All the rest may be considered as barbarous."
Dr. Johnson's aphorism is out of date, but those are the places that speak to me.

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Trump: 'A nation that is not proud of its history cannot be confident in its future'

'A nation that is not proud of its history cannot be confident in its future. And a nation that is not certain of its values cannot summon the will to defend them.'

Donald Trump, speaking on Monday, coined a good aphorism.

Germany is an obvious example of the truth of the observation. Compare Austria and Germany today. But Western Europe in general has lost pride in its history. Eastern Europeans have not, but as more and more intellectual Eastern Europeans are educated at Western universities Western guilt and self loathing starts to seep into the previously uncontaminated Eastern half of the continent.

Work



“One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one’s work is terribly important.”
Bertrand Russell

“Jobs are a part of life. Maybe you've heard of the concept. It's called work? See, what happens is that you suffer through doing annoying and humiliating things until you get paid not enough money. Like those Japanese game shows, only without all the glory.”
Jim Butcher

“Nothing is really work unless you would rather be doing something else.”
J.M. Barrie


“I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.”
Douglas Adams

Monday, 18 December 2017

Careers advice

Only those who decline to scramble up the career ladder are interesting as human beings. Nothing is more boring than a man with a career. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do. Walter Bagehot

Through perseverance many people win success out of what seemed destined to be certain failure. Benjamin Disraeli

Youth is a blunder; Manhood a struggle, Old Age a regret. Benjamin Disraeli

Quotations from Walter Bagehot

Dullness in matters of government is a good sign, and not a bad one - in particular, dullness in parliamentary government is a test of its excellence, an indication of its success. 


The habit of common and continuous speech is a symptom of mental deficiency. It proceeds from not knowing what is going on in other people's minds. 

One of the greatest pains to human nature is the pain of a new idea. 

Twenty Years After



A man in the lift this morning asked me how long I'd been in Romania and when I replied almost 20 years he said: 
'It's a generation. Think of "Twenty Years After" by Alexandre Dumas.'
Yes indeed. I read that book, that had belonged to my grandmother (born in Victoria's reign), when I was 8. The Musketeers in their early 40s then seemed unimaginably old. That was unimaginably long ago.

From one year ago


"All holders of public office will have to swear an oath of allegiance to British values in an attempt to combat extremism. Sajid Javid, the communities secretary, said it was not possible for people to play a “positive role” in public life unless they accepted such basic values as democracy, equality and freedom of speech." (The Times.)


I hate the idea of equality, except equality before the law, which is completely discrete from all other uses of the word equality and is a form of freedom. It means fair trials.

I am like Mr. Gladstone, 'an out and out inegalitarian'.

Freedom and equality are antithetical.

And nations are not made of values, but blood and history and shared jokes, but mostly, in the British case, blood.

I am a democrat, but not a theoretical one who thinks universal suffrage is some sort of moral law and that we should have had it in 1900.

In any case, Englishmen should swear allegiance to H.M. the Queen. not to ideas, even good ones.

Friday, 15 December 2017

The Weathermen and their legacy: they won academia




My two posts on the Weathermen, the terrorist wing of the American student radical movement in the era of Richard Nixon, weren't intended as political polemic, although polemic is my strong suit. 

My purpose was twofold. First to bring to people's attention the speech by Bernardine Dohrn about the Manson murders and second to show part of the background to the anti-racist, progressive ideas that have influenced and continue to influence the world so much. 
To recap, Bernardine Dohrn told a Students for a Democratic Society meeting shortly after the Manson murders:
“Offing those rich pigs with their own forks and knives, and then eating a meal in the same room, far out! The Weathermen dig Charles Manson.”
Her audience “instantly adopted” “four fingers held up in the air, invoking the fork left in Sharon Tate’s belly,” according to Mark Rudd, another leader of the group.

And tell sad stories of the death of kings

This morning the queue to see the King lying in state was short (fifteen or twenty minutes) but passing just now at midnight it was hours long.