Thursday 30 January 2020


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“It was a misjudgment which I regret, but it’s been a privilege to bring the news to households throughout the UK for the past 40 years.”

Statement by British newsreader Alastair Stewart who today left ITN after forty years. These apologies remind me a little of the confessions of the defendants in show trials in Stalin's Russia.

"The praise of ancient authors, proceeds not from the reverence of the dead, but from the competition and mutual envy of the living." 
Thomas Hobbes (at the end of Leviathan, translating Velleius 'praesentia invidia praeterita veneratione prosequimur, et his nos obrui illis instrui credimus'. Hobbes, unlike Velleius, is talking about literature.

"They are so preoccupied with the role of prejudice in creating hostile environments that they perpetually deny the obvious, that stereotypes are rough generalizations about groups derived from long-term observation. Such generalizations are usually correct in describing group tendencies and in predicting certain collective actions, even if they do not adequately account for differences among individuals. Nonetheless, as Goldberg explains, the self-described pluralist and prominent psychologist Gordon Allport went out of his way in The Nature of Prejudice (1954) to reject stereotypes as factually inaccurate as well as socially harmful. For Allport and a great many other social Scientists, nothing is intuitively correct unless it is politically so.” 

Paul Gottfried, After Liberalism: Mass Democracy in the Managerial State
"The question, therefore, is: What is this European sensibility? The common assumption is that it is liberal democracy. The problem is that there are many types of liberal democracy and, more to the point, the fundamental principle behind liberal democracy is national self-determination – the idea that the nation must select the government and that the government is answerable to no one other than the nation. If you sever the idea of national self-determination from liberal democracy, you undercut liberal democracy’s fundamental principle and, with it, the European identity. Liberal democracy is national self-determination or it is nothing."

international affairs strategist George Friedman, chairman of Geopolitical Futures


  1. The reading of, and inquiring after news, not being one of my diversions, having always disliked a mixed and general conversation, which, however it fell to my lot, is now in my power to avoid; and being placed, by the duties of my function, at a great distance from the seat of business, I am altogether ignorant of many common events which happen in the world: only, from the little I know and hear, it is manifest that the hearts of most men are filled with doubts, fears, and jealousies, or else with hatred and rage, to a degree that there seems to be an end of all amicable commerce between people of different parties; and what the consequences of this may be, let those consider who have contributed to the causes; which, I thank God, is no concern of mine.

    Jonathan Swift

    1. Coffee houses! Blessed things that became the Stock Exchange and Pall Mall and St James's clubs. I mourn clubbish England run by a conservative-liberal establishment.

  2. Modern Western “democracies,” as they are usually called, are actually better described as liberal commercial societies. They rest on principles of individualism and individual rights—especially legal rights—which are more fundamental than democracy, and also much newer. Democracy, after all, is an ancient Greek word for “rule by the many,” and democracies have not until quite recently been regarded as very good or fair types of governments. The many can oppress the few quite as easily as the reverse, and the notion of individual rights actually has more to do with limiting the power of any government—whether by the many, or by a king, or by a party—to treat individuals unjustly.

    John W. Danford
    Roots of Freedom: A Primer on Modern Liberty

  3. We can date precisely when in ENgland the word democracy came to mean something everyone approved of: 1917. In that year our ally the Russian Tsar was overthrown and the USA which had been proudly democratic since Andrew Jackson entered the war on our side. France with universal manhood suffrage (not women until 1945) was also our ally and Italy allowed all literate men who had served in the army to vote - or illiterates over 30. Democracy was used to distinguish the Allies from the Central Powers (though unlike the UK they had universal manhood suffrage).

  4. I am not a theoretical democrat, meaning someone who blames 18th century England for not giving all men and women the vote - I am a very strong believer in freedom though and in Parliaments.