Boris in bicycle fall

Boris fell off his bicycle on his way to the House of Commons yesterday afternoon and was taken to hospital to have his injured arm checked out. His bicycle is in a bad state of repair but Boris himself is much better now and surprised at all the attention this minor injury is receiving. "Lord help us all!" he said, upon news that his fall had made it to national radio news this morning.

213 thoughts on “Boris in bicycle fall”

  1. Boris, might this be a time to consider having a large horn strapped to your handlebars to hoot and ward off anyone in your path — or invest in an efficient handsfree mobile phone system — or is there a type of protective head gear that does the job of a helmet (that you wouldn’t wear)without being so clumsy..?

    Heath Robinson would have a great time dreaming up the perfect ‘Protective armour for Boris on a bike’ – but it’s quite a serious matter really. Keep safe and slow on the roads Boris!

  2. to hospital to have his injured arm checked out.

    I wish him a speedy recovery. I came off a motorbike on the Thames embankment once, and cracked an elbow.

    Which arm was it that was injured?

  3. David Cameron used this as an opportunity to launch a new review committee for bike safety, with recommendations for mandatory training wheels for all.

    πŸ™‚

  4. No doubt there will be imminent legislation to require all cyclists to wear full body armour and be encased in plastic.

    Oh, and compulsory stabilisers (four).

  5. How nice of you to sacrifice yourself for a bit of Conservative advertising, Boris! People are already falling head over heels to copy you…

  6. Idlex: left arm

    Then it must have been precognition on my part to imagine Boris with a huge left shoulder last night.

    All day I’ve been wondering if he had a huge left arm and leg to go with it.

    I guess I must have some hitherto-unknown psychic ability.

  7. Boris, you tyke, you must swap your bike for something less hard to control,
    A car (or a bus) won’t make you a wuss if getting about is your goal,
    So take this advice and ride something nice (or safe) when you’re out on patrol,
    If you go on like this, the press takes the p**s and you know that’s not good in your rΓ΄le.

    Get well soon

  8. Best Good Sense of Humour Award goes to *raincoaster*

    Your prize is a copy of Boris’s latest book (signed of course). Please could you let me have your details via my email (see contact on header)..

  9. Thanks for the tip, but dare I aspire to the lofty heights of Christmas card exchanges? I don’t want to get a swelled head.

    Hey, if the guy was French, why didn’t Boris just shout “Surrender?” They lie down really flat.

  10. Whilst I am not a Conservative I find myself completely in agreement with Boris. (see his article in Guardian) Pedestrians in London are a menace and the greatest menace are foreign tourists who having paid there airport tax act like they own the place. I do not know where Boris came off his Bike but if it was in Westminster near Parliament Square or Victoria Street then that is where I have nearly run over several tourists on my push bike. They think that they are in Disneyland and we Londoners are simply part of the attraction. Hope he feels better soon.

  11. I suspect you are not as conversant with English usage as most of the foreign guests about whom you complain, Mr Angry. Please learn the difference between ‘there’ and ‘their’.

  12. Oh dear Boris, PLEASE be careful. Couldn’t you swap the bike for a chariot? Four white horses and knives on the wheels would sort the tourists out!

    Get well soon.

  13. Oh, bytheway, just posted my disagreement of abolishing the Conservative party on Hitchens new blog ( http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/ ) and stated my personal preference of BORIS FOR LEADER. It’s not like this blog in that comments have to be vetted first. The only one’s I can see are supporting the argument (it’s a good argument about Clarke) or saying Hitch is fantastic (which he is, totally, even if his words do sometimes remind me of stars in the night sky). Strangely enough my comment’s not there. Well I will disagree with the man!

    Boris for PM – single handed!

  14. That’s the problem with Hitchensweb, too; no comments. It’s not like the man gives the impression of not being able to ignore criticism, so I wonder why the stranglehold on the microphone?

  15. Steady on, Boris old chap! Emulating Dubya is not good for the image!!

    You might want to try putting a card in your spokes – they might get out of the way if they think you have an engine.

    ;o)

    Psi

  16. Vicus

    Pedestrians in London are a menace and the greatest menace are foreign tourists who having paid there airport tax act like they own the place

    This can read, slightly quaintly, as the same meaning as

    Pedestrians in London are a menace and the greatest menace are foreign tourists who having paid airport tax there act like they own the place

    Still you’re probably right but please excuse Mr. Angry because he wrote it while angry. I have split an infinitrive when slightly peeved.

  17. I usually split a bottle of vino with a friend when I’m peeved but it’s Lent so roll on summer is all I can say!

    (and yes Raincoaster, it must be a family trait. Still, strange to advocate freedom of speech then not practice it! All hail the Boris blog)

  18. Boris’ arm. Sorry bicycle. What about the poor ol’ tarmac? Where exactly is this new impact crater/pothole? This information is vital for those of us wishing to prevent further damage to our suspension from the sorry state of repair of the public highway and to those seeking a source of income from claims against the borough!
    Get well soon BJ!

  19. Jaq:
    If this guy offends thee, as he so patently does , as I take from your long term reported disagreements with him , take a leaf from the Bible: If thine eye offend thee; pluck it out.

    Ignore the egofactory which is his column and stop reading his words. He’ll recede like a snowflake in July.

  20. It’s not like this blog in that comments have to be vetted first.

    This is where Boris is streets ahead of more or less anyone else, Hitchens included. A great many blogs vet comments before publishing them, if they publish them at all – presumably lest the opinions expressed differ from those of the crazed blogfuhrer.

    Somehow or other, perhaps due to his journalistic experience, Boris realises that readers have opinions too – and, to his immense credit, he not only publishes those opinions, but he even reads them.

  21. Dear Boris,

    Though it is impossible to support your party while it is led by a Blair clone on the basis of Tyneside redevelopment and phonics “Have you got fifty pee, for a telephone call?”, the ‘Brady paedophile ring’ have still evoked my anger, and once again caused me to desert my happy home on ‘Slaughter Forum’, the only place on the internet free from George Robertson’s lawyers.

    The occasion is not Blair’s new Securitas peers, sleazy, corrupt and contemptible, nor is it ‘Fish called Cameron’ Brown or council home plutocrat Prescott. Instead I have observed Labour’s response to your new leader, organised by the class enemy, Denis Skinner. ‘The Beast’ quipped of the eighties that ‘the only thing growing then was the lines of coke in front of Boy George over there’, for which he was thrown out of the House in December, as any Labour politician using their ‘people’s car’ signal word ‘thing’ should be.

    Skinner may have combined drug abuse, the miners’ strike, pop music and the shadow chancellor wittily into one quip, as his supporters urged. However, many of them would also be aware that the biggest political struggle of this decade will be the American battle over genetic abuses and Roe v Wade. One of Skinner’s more notorious ‘contributions’ to parliamentary democracy was that he was the leader of the successful ‘talking out’ of Enoch Powell’s Unborn Children (Protection) Bill in May 1985, after it had passed its second reading by a large majority.

    I have written before about Newcastle’s ‘Centre for Life’, the homosexual nightclub and genetic research centre that has been built to loom over the railway line in the same style as the old keep. The local university, dominated by Labour MPs and their supporters and willing to shed academic departments in order to support ‘people’s car’ attacks on bright students, wants this ugly creation to be the symbol of its research programme. However, those of us who have been on the receiving end of ‘research’ and the ‘people’s car’, know that it is composed of murderous thugs, armed psychopaths, teachers who use their pupils for sex and then become MPs, and the ID card and armed police lobby.

    What Skinner combined wittily into one quip was instead the policing of genetic research, his pro-abortion prejudices and anti-parliamentary tactics, Newcastle and its goon-faced trolls, and their ‘club’. As for their ‘people’s car’, if the BBC are again used for Mandelson’s propaganda in the guise of popular culinary entertainment, expect a challenge to the neutrality of their involvement in televising Parliament and the future coverage of the courts.

    To keep my post neutral I am going to mention the name of the new leader of the Liberal Democrats. It is ‘Menzies Campbell’.

    Boris, the best method of recovering from a fall is just to get back on your bike and start riding again. Is it possible to intimidate Skinner without hurting him too much- you know, organise someone being shot dead on his doorstep, or the nasty rape and murder of a young woman bearing a name close to his-‘Tanner’ might do? Best wishes,

    Anecdota

  22. Vetting comments just isn’t worth the manpower; it’s a huge timewaster (uh, that said, if anyone out there needs a highly opinionated comment-vetter, I am available!).

    I’m on one gossip blog that has gotten the most screamingly funny posts by just allowing people to make fools of themselves. They have no idea how incredibly stupid they look; I doubt some of these people can stand on their hind legs without help.

    I don’t actually care at all about the topic they’re debating, but the sheer insanity of some of the posts keeps me glued to my chair. The website owner, whom most of the posters LOATHE (they have called upon God to strike him down, I kid you not) adores this, because he gets paid by the advertisers. And it’s very hard to hurt the feelings of a gossip columnist anyway, particularly if you post in ALL CAPS and use “lol” and “by the sweet Baby Jesus” frequently. Unmoderated comments rule!

  23. Nicholas Newman

    Very touching to read your comment – how very kind of you!

    So many good wishes – Boris is bound to recover very speedily

  24. Tom

    >”bad state of repair”

    Thats not enough detail about the bicycle.
    ———————

    My colleague, Olly, will be looking at the bike closely to see what can be done about it and we shall report back.

    Thanks for your interest

  25. Dafydd – brilliant! What about the human rights of the poor motorist that has to drive over the dent in the road? Or the stress caused by us all worrying over Boris’s health by him thoughtlessly having an accident and injuring himself? I feel a lawsuit comming on. Only in Modern Britain folks.

    Idlex –

    the crazed blogfuhrer

    I love it πŸ™‚

  26. raincoaster – I tried flattery as a last ditch attempt and was going to copy it here but lost the damn thing. Oh well, it went something like: PH is so fantastic, blah blah, great intellect, blah blah blah – but I forgot to say ‘lol’ damn!!

    PH has got a good sense of humour and it would be just like him to lull me into a false sense of security then publish the silliest offering. Hmmm, it might get in then!

  27. Poor Boris’s bike ! But never mind the bike, I hope Boris’s arm didn’t damage the road. Can we have some information as to any damage done to the road ? I would hate to think of my Council Tax being used to repair damage to to tarmac by inconsiderate cyclists.

  28. A little Reynolds tubing, or a wheel that’s smashed or bent;
    For some who wait for titbits, it’s a gift from heaven sent
    Where else are such reports to hear: a fall in early spring;
    Don Quixote versus traffic, and in London: there’s a thing.
    His faithful Sancho Panza, on a donkey far behind,
    Cannot stop the traffic millstone and its unrelenting grind.
    On his iron Rozinante, no match for London’s worst,
    He can’t stop the windmill, so it’s bound to tilt him first.

  29. Apologies to S.T.C.

    It is our Boris Johnson,
    And he striketh one of three.
    ‘By thy mountain bike, thou blindfold tyke,
    Now wherefore strike’st thou me?

    The Abbey’s doors are open wide,
    And I was just going in.
    My friends are met, their cameras set,
    They’ll wonder where I’ve been.’

    He holds him with his chubby hand,
    ‘There was a bus,’ quoth he.
    ‘Hold off! Unhand me, bikeborne loon!’
    Eftsoons his hand dropt he.

  30. ‘The bus appeared, the red light cleared,
    Merrily did it roll,
    Down Regent Street to Pimlico,
    Passing by us all.

    And now the Rush-Hour came, and it
    Was clamorous and strong.
    It struck with o’ertaking cars,
    That chased each one along.

    The cars were here, the cars were there,
    The cars were all around;
    They revved and growled, and roared and howled,
    Like jackhammers in the ground.

    At length there came a London bus,
    Through the fog it came,
    Going all the way to Clapham Common,
    I hailed it through the rain.

    ‘Buck up, old chap! Shake off
    The gloom that freights thee thus!
    Why look’st thou so!’ — Although I had a go;
    I missed the London bus.

  31. And I had done a hellish thing,
    And it would work me woe;
    Now I discussed how I’d missed the bus,
    That sped through traffic flow.
    Ah wretch! I gushed, to miss the bus,
    And now on by bike must go.

    Hour after hour, hour after hour,
    I stuck, in traffic jam inert,
    As idle as a painted bike,
    Upon a painted advert.

    There passed a weary time. My throat
    Was parched, and tired each leg.
    A weary time! A weary time!
    How tired each weary leg.
    When looking upwards, I beheld,
    Something else on legs.

    Tourists, tourists, everywhere,
    And none of them could think.
    Tourists, tourists, everywhere,
    And with a bit too much to drink.

    The very road they filled: Oh Cripes!
    This would just happen to me!
    Yeah, the crazy fools did walk with legs,
    Right out in front of me.

    At first it seemed a little speck,
    Something that could be missed;
    But as it moved, and I saw the wreck,
    Upon the brakes I pressed.

    Four times fifty English pounds
    (And I heard nor sigh nor groan)
    With heavy thump, a lifeless lump,
    They dropped down like a ton.

    Alone, alone, all, all alone,
    Alone on a wide highway!
    And not one darn tourist took pity on
    My wrist in agony.

    Since then, at an uncertain hour,
    That agony returns :
    And till my ghastly tale is told,
    This heart within me burns.

    I pass, like night, from land to land ;
    I have strange power of speech ;
    That moment that his face I sight,
    I know the man that I must strike:
    To him my tale I teach.

  32. Wow!

    First Mac and then the amazing talent of Idlex – light hiding under a bushel –

    *adds to raincoaster’s cheers*

    bravo!

  33. Boris, sorry to hear about your accident. I read your piece in The Guardian with much amusement.

    I understand your bike was damaged and can I therefore suggest that you make the most of the skills and service of your local specialist bike shop to get it repaired or replaced. And please don’t accept the substitute from a faceless insurance company which will arrive in a box and rely upon you for assembly. For info and advice visit http://www.fetch.uk.com

    Did you know that approximately 19% of cyclists who suffer either accident or theft don’t return to cycling! That’s a terrible shame so we at the Association of Cycle Traders are doing what we can – including blatant promotion – to help people get back on their bike.

    Get back in the saddle as soon as you are able and happy cycling.

  34. Thanks, all! I should have worked on it a bit harder though. But once the idea had formed, it almost wrote itself.

  35. Boris Responds on the Bike

    Boris relives his bike-based ordeal – and has a decent stab back at the tourists at fault – in this entertaining Guardian article! Also, there’s some Boris fan discussion over at his official site….

  36. Reading Boris’ piece in the Guardian, he sounded rather more badly injured than just a sprained wrist. He sounds to me like he might be fairly much out of action for a month or two.

    In which case, might I suggest to dearest Melissa that she might consider asking someone else to stand in for Boris on this blog, so as to post up stuff to feed us sharks.

    It happens on other blogs, when the principal writer is unavailable for one reason or other.

    How about someone a bit contentious, like, say, oh well, lucky dip time, …Roy Hattersley?

  37. Good one idlex but my vote would be Stanley Johnson.

    And I’m sure we’re forgetting that Melissa, amongst all her many talents, can probably take dictation. It would be just like Boris to refuse to take this opportunity for a complete rest and insist on busying his head with caring about this country and the people in it.

  38. I, personally, think this is a great opportunity to showcase the talent squirreled away in Higher Education. Why not have a new student each day ghostwrite for Boris? We’d need to make a list of the most essential Borisian qualities and make sure that each student signed an unbreakable indenture agreement including these, but other than that, should be a breeze.

    And free.

  39. Idlex

    Of course you are now due a signed copy of the Boris latest Roman book – so whizz over your details and book will wing its way to you

    Well deserved

  40. I hope that Boris is well and fully recovers from his arm injury as seems quite likely.

    Being a cyclist myself, I have taken some nasty spills from time to time. Once when I was training for a triathlon (having just started out) I skidded on wet pavement at about 20 mph, crashed my bike and dislocated my left shoulder. I ran the 5 miles home and didn’t realize the damage I had done till I looked in the mirror and saw my left shoulder raised beyond where it should have been.

    Bicycle falls and the resulting road rash are never fun, as I am sure Boris now knows. But I still do my rides (once winter ends in upstate New York).

  41. You are too kind, Melissa! But details are on the way.

    And what did you think of my stand-in-for-Boris notion? Or is Boris heroically writing at full throttle anyway, regardless of the pain?

  42. Idlex – Boris still in some pain

    Let’s see if he gets his Telegraph column done tomorrow and take things from there.

    Thanks for your suggestion though am sure we could come up with a better nominee

  43. Can’t you prevail on Ian Hislop to do a special guest performance?

    Blogger temperature and legal fees may go up though.

  44. If Ian Hislop does a guest performance my temperature will certainly go up – he’s such a sexy little minx when he’s sliding the knife in! (or I’m a banana) Could we have a competition to guess the cost of the resulting lawsuit?

    What about David Cameron writing something controversial?

  45. Obviously there are only so many notes of condolence and exhortations to ‘get well soon’ etc one can offer without sounding like a sycophantic vicar in a pink polo neck. So, in the interests of public service, I thought I’d put down a few suggestions for some issues which I would enjoy the opportunity to debate on this forum.

    1) Legalisation of prostitution and drugs. On the grounds that the British police haven’t even made a dent in these criminal pursuits in forty years so they might as well concentrate on things they can regulate.
    2) Secular Britain. Ban all organised religion on the grounds that it is murderous, inflammatory and divisive.
    3) Multiple voting al la Neville Shute’s “In the Wet”. Basically you get one vote for having a heartbeat, another for being married, a third for doing national service, a fourth for having a tertiary qualification, you can buy one (ONLY one) for a million quid (can’t remember what the sixth was for) and the seventh is an award for public service (like a VC or a peerage)
    4) The British legal system. Has become the province of only criminals (on legal aid anyway) and the incredibly wealthy. Ordinary citizens are frequently required to walk away from utterly unfair situations because they are too wealthy to qualify for legal assistance and not wealthy enough to take action on their own. (I could tell you stories!)
    5) British foreign policy. If Mr. Blair, as he alleges, invaded Iraq for the purposes of regime change based on the premise of being an evil despot, why hasn’t he invaded Zimbabwe (for example) too?
    6) Why are taxes based on earnings (less allowances) rather than spending? Make ’em a flat rate across the board and put taxes on spending rather than earnings.
    7) What is the difference between parliamentary democracy and a one party state? Whilst I agreed with the decision of the House (of Commons) in only allowing a 30 day detention of terrorist suspects (still too long in my opinion) it did not reflect the feelings of the electorate who (misguidedly) wanted the full 90 days. My point is that elected representatives appear to use more latitude than perhaps their mandate allows.

    For starters.

  46. I have made a deliberate mistake in my previous posting.

    Anyone who spots it will be entitled to a magnificent octopus.

  47. And, with all due respect to (Mr/Mrs/Mz) Gribold Woemaster, please take this thread to the Horse and Groom (the one by the bridge).

    Not very keen on Cuba; too many ex CIA agents and bankers.

  48. Illegal to be a banker in Cuba, unless you work for Fidel. And doesn’t EVERYWHERE have too many ex-CIA agents?

    As for picking out the deliberate mistake, well I already have a magnificent octopus, but I’d say it’s the (utterly false) implication that “all organised religion … is murderous, inflammatory and divisive,” and that this is somehow a bad thing.

  49. If you’re talking about me Jaq I would have to advise you I’ve only ever voted Conservative.

    (for the last 30 odd years)

  50. raincoaster, bit of a naughty paraphrase.

    Write it in full please if you are going to take me to task on it.

  51. Then, Jaq, my best advice would be to berate Boris since he’s my representative in parliament.

    I might add jaq, that I find your comments verge on the offensive.

  52. I’ve spotted the mistake! You meant ‘Nationalisation of prostitution and drugs’. Tough for the hookers, all with hearts of gold no doubt, but it should make both enterprises so unprofitable as to turn the pimps and gangsters to other fields of enterprise. Maybe they could make education illegal at the same time and see what these unemployed villains could do with it.

  53. Didn’t mean to be offensive, just a grumpy old Hector today. Boris is, of course, in no shape or form the weak opposition I was talking about. With one notable exception, your points could have come straight off the Hitchens blog. “crackpot ideas” was the charge made against him by Mathew Parris in a praticularly hilarious ‘Any Questions’ on R4.

    I shall find a corner and be miserable very quietly.

  54. Fine jaq,
    I readily concede that I may be guilty of treasonous contumacy on all counts in which case I shall, in all humility, throw myself on the mercy of the court.

    Strictly speaking, I wouldn’t (necessarily) advocate any these issues (with the possible exception of a completely secular nation because I really am thoroughly sick of this rubbish), however, I’ve heard these and similar suggestions for years now. I’m simply keen to discover if any of them legitimately resonate with anyone’s political views. In the absence of the likelihood of any imminent contributions from Boris (and having exhausted the entertainment value of his unfortunate accident) I just thought it would give us something to rant about in the interim.

    I’m (as always) well up for a ruck.

    However, when you say “…could have come straight off Hitchen’s blog” you’re very close to the truth.

  55. Nice to have something to chew on. My tuppence.

    1) Legalisation of prostitution and drugs. Totally agree. The job of the state is to regulate them, not criminalise them.

    2) Secular Britain. I wouldn’t be at all unhappy at this. Britain at the moment is almost a secular state anyway, but who knows what religious mania will erupt next (I’m not thinking of the Muslims we’ve been kicking around: I’m thinking of American Fundamentalist nutters).

    3) Multiple voting. This is a new one on me. Can’t see why some people should have more votes than others, straight off.

    4) Legal system. You’re quite right it’s a mess. Part of the mess, if not most of it, is that we simply have too many laws, and nobody really knows what they are. I’d go for a wholesale reform of the law, aiming at vastly simplifying it. Easier said than done.

    5) I have no idea why Blair invaded Iraq, and I doubt that he does either.

    6) Taxes. No, not with you there. Until we can think of something better, I’m for modestly redistributive taxation, because I think wealth should, to some degree, be shared. I do NOT want a society with millionaires at one end, and paupers at the other. On the other hand, I don’t want one of uniform equality either.

    7) Parliamentary democracy does indeed seem to result in something like a one-party state. Whoever you vote for, you get pretty much the same as before, with slight variations. I was appalled and enraged by last month’s vote, in which an ancient liberty – to smoke tobacco in pubs and restaurants – has been abruptly revoked on the demand of the medical profession armed with extremely contentious research. It’s not the business of the medical profession to make laws. And it’s a stupid, unnecessary, and vindictive law, and is going to do far more harm than the miniscule amount of good (if any) it will do. Indeed, it’s probably the worst law since the Poll Tax.

    Apart from that, I’d criticize all seven points on the ground that there appears to be no coherent underlying vision or principle to them. It’s not clear what sort of Britain you want to see as an end result?

  56. It’s “a penny for your thoughts” and “i’ll put my two pence in”. Who is making the penny? (Don’t give Gordon any ideas!)

    1. Legalisation of prostitution, yes. It will give the girls and boys in the industry some level of protection from the criminal element – as well as making their incomes taxable. Lets face it, it’s supposedly the oldest profession (bar hunting?), it’s not going to go away. Drugs? There is a slight danger here. Maybe de-criminalising the class A drugs, and legalising the rest (as Switzerland is trying)?

    2. I have an inherent distrust of ANYONE that believes in invisible (often vindictive) beings that live in the sky. As to people that believe a “God” talks to them – sounds like a mental illness to me. These people need treatment.

    3. Multiple voting? Not at all sure of this. Sounds very dodgy. An evening of the playing field would be in order though…the conservative party won more votes in England at the last election, but we are still being governed by the Scots (who, once again, didn’t get any further duty on whisky, but good old English beer goes up again…)

    4. Less lawyers in Parliament!!

    5. Blair invaded Iraq because Dubya told him to (the americans wanted the oil)

    6. A luxury tax may be a good plan…but i still think higher earners should pay more (why are IT professionals being made to pay 53%, though?)

    7. Agree with Idlex here. The labour manifesto called for a partial ban, they were elected on this…then they decide to impose a total ban in a completely undemocratic manner. Also, BAN the Party Whips! They are the biggest danger to our current system! Oh, and ban whitewashing…this government are repeatedly caught out lying and cheating and behaving in an immoral and illegal manner. They should be held accountable BEYOND THE BALLOT BOX.

    Melissa – how are the plans to have a forum we can start our own threads in? It’s not too difficult, technically, although it would need a moderator. If it’s a paying job, i’m up for it! (Anyone need a reasonably intelligent hard worker, i NEED a job!!!)

    :o)

    Psi

  57. And I’ve never heard of Neville Shute’s “In The Wet”. Although I did read “On the Beach” many moons ago.

  58. I may have dreamt it.

    I’ll see if it’s on the bookshelf this evening; if not I must have been delusional or drunk. (still didn’t hear any heavenly voices though)

  59. Is it just when Boris is not forthcoming with more brain fodder? Or is it like one of those bugs that goes around? Another outbreak of grumpy atheism hits the blog!

    I once went to a meeting where an Oxford theologian was putting the case against atheism. During question time I raised some objection which he dealt with in a courteous, though not for me entirely convincing, manner.

    On my way out I was button holed by a man who looked like a ferret with a serious hangover. He was a member of the local Humanist cell and was eager for me to attend the next meeting. I declined, politely, as I have never quite understood the point of a society those central thread is a disbelief in something.

    Although I concede that there may be times when banning something is the right thing to do I can’t help feeling it should be done carefully.

    If forced to name several things that I think the world be better without here are some thoughts.

    Golf courses
    Rap
    Aeroplanes
    Television except for the Simpsons and well made productions of Dickens’ novels
    Polly Toynbee
    Homeopathy
    The Notting Hill Carnival
    Car alarms
    Promises by government to put more money into X rather than serious efforts to make X more effective
    Plays by Pinter or Beckett
    Public broadcasting of John Lennon singing Working Class Hero
    The French – not France, nice country, pity about the people
    Media Studies
    The Olympic Games

    I am not a member of any organisation for the banning of said things but I have my own little dream world.

  60. Ps: As I see it , there has always the written invitation to start a new thread : it usd to say, ” make a comment, or start a new one” , at the beginning of each thread.

    There has been much lamentation about the State of the GB Inc. The list of things wrong or in the state of going wrong is much too long for such a forum as this. We have, in our leaders, a pack of ravening wolves, trying, with woeful lack of success, to look and sound like members of the ovine species,( although , in one respect , I wish they were like those biblical lambs , standing in line for slaughter: our trouble is , we cannot find a sufficiently willing , or able, butcher to apply the knife).

    Prostitution is already on its way to be accepted as a necessary evil,( though it is not the prostitution itself which is evil, rather the auxiliary aspects of the trade, such as pimping ). The prim and improper pursed lips of the whited sepulchres, posing as our morals teachers, are more repulsive to me than the trade itself. I fail to see why, if there is a need in the community, there should not be a legal way to fill it. It should be a natural resource to Labour, if it’s alive; tax it!
    Cigarettes and alcohol are taxed , why not the remainder if the proscribed goods and activities such as drugs , sex and whatever ELSE Gordon can find as a sop to his Presbyterian conscience? Tax after dinner speaking at 60%, as absolutely unearned bunce , rather than income? (That should put a fox in the hen house, and see how quickly the hunting bill would be repealed!)

    Redistribution of wealth: this present mass of wasters of the public purse are not particularly interested in redistributing wealth as per their original ancient “communistic” manifesto ,
    [To each according to his need: from each according to his ability , it feels quite the opposite to me]. It is rather ironic that those preaching this redistribution are the very ones who might have most to lose, come the revolution.

    Incidentally ., if you really think about it , that is how it has always worked , regardless of political bent. The only difference is the phraseology. There have always been wasters as well as collectors
    Not everyone either wishes to be , or is capable of , being successful over and above their immediate requirements. And there is , after all always the State cornocupean safety net.

    The basic facts of Socialism have been known since Adam was a lad, so why do we need another three quarters of a million drones to tell us what we already know. This army of future government pensioners are even now adding to the ever growing burden which we call New Labour’s Nanny State Fund; or should I really describe it as a trough.

    I’ve had my rave , I’ve had my rant
    I really cannot stand such cant,
    As Liebor preaches day by day.
    Let’s ‘ave three more children , eh?

  61. Jack, do you really want me banned? I thought we were getting along so well. Not my fault where I was borned!

    And I must say I find atheists to be among the most vehement of religious fanatics. Also, they generally have no dress sense.

  62. If religion were banned,( I ain’t agin that), what would the armies of little old beg-=hatted ladies do each Sunday matins ans Evensong?
    Sorely Humanists must believe in something, even if it is merely their own mortality: does this really qualify as religionist? Hardly ? Surely? Or not in the least?

    Raincoaster: you may escape Jack’s ban , due to your not living there.

  63. raincoster

    My aplogies! I thought you were Canadian. If your ancestry is French you are exempted from banning on the grounds that your forebears, or maybe five of them, had the nous to uproots and leave their disagreeable compatriots to live under the sovereignty of the ancestors of our Own Dear Queen.

    I am prepared to deal with other appeals on a case by case basis. I have also exempted Rene Descartes and Albert Camus, though I’m not sure if Camus was French or Algerian. Actually now I think of it I work with a number of very pleasant French people who also qualify. But the b****** who sneered at my bank card when I was trying to get some dosh in a Parisian bank has got some pleading to do! Let’s do it the other way round. The following French people are banned. This list may be extended.

    Parisian bank workers
    J P Sartre
    Rousseau
    Brigitte Bardot

  64. Mac – as always, the sound voice of reason.

    Jack Ramsey – sorry about being grumpy but I’m not an atheist. It seems my op failed yesterday and whilst I was desperately searching for some humour it seems to have eluded me. But why ban Polly? I bought the Guardian for the first time in my life becuause she was recommended! Don’t tell me – you were just having a laugh?

  65. No indeed, Polly Toynbee must go!

    Jack, it’s even more complicated: I’m 13th generation Canadian, but my parents went to France and I was born there. They did move back to Canada soon enough, traumatizing me for life.

    Apparently Oscar Wilde did a railway tour of Canada long ago; he got off the train and said, “So this is Winnipeg. I can tell it’s not Paris.” I know just how he felt.

  66. I recall that, when i was working across France, EVERYONE hated Parisians (bank clerks or otherwise).

    In fact, if i was getting a dose of Gallic Bile for the sin of being Her Gracious Majesty’s subject, the situation could often be diffused by me pointing out that “At least i’m not a Parisian!”. Try it out…it’s remarkably effective!!

    Religion? I’m simply not impressed by any of the god squads. As to humanists, i despair of my species – so they are out too. Can i be a scientific evolutionist? Or a squirrel (red, not grey!). Or maybe a mighty larch? Just a thought.

    Melissa, thank you…and I hope the powers that be see the sense of the suggestion!

    :o)

    Psi

  67. Joe M:
    A List of The man’s books , not necessarily exhaustive , but he was years ahead of his time . A damn good read, even now!
    What Happened to the Corbetts?
    On the Beach.
    Slide Rule.
    In the Wet .
    Stephen Morris.
    The Seafarers.
    Beyond the Black Stump.
    Nevil Shute: A Biography.
    Round the Bend.
    The Mysterious Aviator.
    Lonely Road.
    Landfall: A Channel Story.
    Marazan.
    Trustee from the Toolroom.
    Vinland the Good.
    The Chequer Board.
    Most Secret.
    Np Highway.
    An Old Captivity.
    The Rainbow and The Rose.
    So disdained.
    Pastoral.
    Pied Piper.
    Ruined City.
    Requiem for a Wren.
    Yours is in there , somewhere.

  68. raincoaster, I think the vehemence comes from centuries of didactic, sanctimonious zombies telling us what some figment of their imagination will allow us (or not allow us) to do on Sundays. Also, the rather infuriating habit of burning anyone who knew that willow bark is a natural painkiller unlocks my ire.

    I would be prepared to put my differences aside on the understanding that they are prepared to set aside these historic perquisites but, guess what!?! Some guy in Afghanistan is facing the death penalty because he converted to Christianity. La plus ca change…

    These cretins will never change, the only thing that has been removed from them (in Britain anayway) is the authority to carry out their bloodthirsty recriminations with the backing of the law. If the historic powers of the church courts were to be restored the Archbishop of C*nterbury would be exhorting us not to suffer witches to live within five years! Steven Hawking would probably be a greasy stain ten minutes later.

    The bottom line: I don’t trust the motives of ANYONE who is prepared to subcontract their moral and ethical authority to a (fictional) third party. (Exhibit A: Tony Blair)

    On your other note, my wife assures me I am a vision of sartorial elegance (although possibly temporally displaced by about 140 years).

  69. I accept your wife’s testimony as a fair, impartial third party. Wives are notoriously hard on their husbands’ dress sense.

    Atheism is a religion, too. By banning all other religions, you are pulling a Lazarus on Lenin’s old policy. He would be so proud. The banning of religious freedom was one of the things that ultimately brought down the Soviet Union. As the socialist among us, I am surprised to find you on that side of the divide.

    The banning of all but one mandatory, state-dictated religion, is not a noted characteristic of higher civilizations.

  70. Golf courses
    – Gives me somewhere to walk to dog
    Rap
    – I thought it was spelt with a C
    Aeroplanes
    – Not sure I agree with this, it’s a bloody long walk to Germany
    Television
    – I love Smallville (even if it is a bit daft) and Black Adder repeats
    Polly Toynbee
    – Never read any of her stuff but I did send her a rude letter.
    Homeopathy
    – I know too little to comment
    The Notting Hill Carnival
    – See Homeopathy
    Car alarms
    – Silent car alarms that send you an SMS would be my preference
    Promises by government …
    – 102%
    Plays by Pinter or Beckett
    – and Arthur Miller too please
    Public broadcasting of John Lennon singing Working Class Hero
    – Okay if you’ll negotiate on aeroplanes
    The French – not France, nice country, pity about the people
    – In my darkest moments when all around me is dim and I am filled with despair, I console myself with the simple fact that: “At least I’m not French”
    Media Studies
    – What ARE those, I’ve often wondered?
    The Olympic Games
    – See views on religion – Don’t mind if you do it in private but don’t subject me to it.
    I would also like to add:
    American Teen Movies
    Paris Hilton
    4 x 4 vehicles the size of mobile homes
    Simon Cowell, Anne Robinson, & “Trinny and Susannah”
    Harry Potter books (nauseating little creep)
    Radio adverts (while you’re driving) with car crash noises or car horns in them
    The Oscars
    The Oscars (I appreciate this is the same as the last but it irritates me so much I thought it was worth mentioning twice)

  71. Hurrah!

    Mein e-host is back in the Telegraph today with an article articulating good old Anglo Saxon commeon sense in the tradition of Locke and Popper! Did you know that Boris had a Turkish great grandpa or something?

    Please to see that the old brain has not suffered Mr. J!

  72. Nope, sorry raincoaster, atheism isn’t a religion (according to the Oxford Dictionary anyway). A philosophy or world view perhaps.

    Religion! Scrap it!

    It’s nothing to do with Lenin and communism, it’s entirely to do with intolerance and a few millenia of intellectual sabotage. I’m all for banning all of them including the state sponsored version you propose. I, further, believe this to be the act of an extremely sensible and forward thinking government. Though, no doubt, highly unpopular government because of the amount of spadework you EVIL monotheists do to formative minds.

    Sunday school! They should call it brainwashing school.

  73. jaq

    I was not suggesting for one milliosecond that you were grumpy! Your range is from delightfully delightful to delightfullu trenchant.

    Joe

    Why do you want to ban only one hotel in Paris?

    It’s a tough call on aeroplanes and JL! Let me think about it.

  74. You are quite right Jack.

    Terribly remiss of me to suggest such a thing when one nuke could level the whole place.

    tuh!

  75. Joe, now don’t be calling me EVIL; I might have to curse you!

    You have made a number of assumptions: that Wicca is not an organized religion, that I am a monotheist, that I am therefore evil (geez, it was PWP who called me a Nazi; are you related?) and most heinously that only one view of the divine is allowable, the one that YOU believe. Regardless of the fine print, that’s up there with Cromwell.

  76. Jack Ramsey – “delightfully trenchant”?? makes me sound like Hitch in a dress and high heels (which apparently he’s done – your turn Boris!)

    Apparently Boris gets his fabulous blonde hair from his Turkish ancestry. Hmn, a real Turkish Delight! And so good to see he’s still on form.

  77. Another outbreak of grumpy atheism hits the blog!

    I should say I’m not entirely with Joe M or Psimon on this. I’m not opposed to religious belief. I am simply opposed to any religion imposing its beliefs and values on everybody else.

    Richard Dawkins was on the box a couple of months back arguing that religion was the “root of all evil”, and going round annoying as many clerics of as many different faiths as possible. In the end, I simply found Dawkins more annoying than almost any of the religionists he interviewed.

    It isn’t clear to me anyway what is and isn’t religion. There are a great many secular ideas in circulation which strike me as being as daft and irrational as anything spouted by the God Squad.

    If I’d attempt to put my finger on what religion is, I’d go back to its Latin root – religare: to bind together. Religion, in this approach, is what we use to put together a world-view, to explain our circumstances to ourselves. There can be many such explanations by which we try to make sense of life. And, since everyone has some sort of working hypothesis about the circumstances in which they find themselves, it might be said that absolutely everybody has some religious belief system. It just might not include the notions of God or Afterlife.

    In this perspective, attacking someone else’s religious beliefs is always a case of the pot calling the kettle black.

  78. By the way idlex, not satisfied with leftislation (new word for the week) they are using propaganda too: Smoking causes erectile dysfunction (Joe M)

    They always use propaganda. I think these people truly believe that there is no malady or misfortune that tobacco does not cause.

    So I won’t be at all surprised to find a new set of GuvElfWornins on tobacco products, informing me that “Smoking makes your Willy Fall Off”, or “Smoking causes Plagues of Locusts in Africa”. At least they would be more imaginative than the current drab slogans.

    I just wonder what will happen when smoking has been extirpated from the face of the Earth, and they find that, inexplicably, people still die of cancer and heart disease and “clogged arteries”. I suppose they’ll have to find something else to pin all the blame on.

  79. It’s really monotheism that I have the biggest gripe with, it REALLY upsets me!

    I would certainly hold that Wicca (the wife has an entire bookshelf of books on it) seems to be more deist than theist in its approach and is consequently less jackbootingly totalitarian than the egregiously violent Abrahamic religions.

    In the event that you are not a monotheist I retract the imputations of evil.

    Just out of interest, here is a little thought experiment for those (evil) monotheists contemplating my doom.

    Now I know, much as you would like to, you can’t kill yourselves and go and snuggle up to God because there are specific provisions in the big book(s) of bobbins precluding this sort of behaviour on pain of torment for the rest of eternity.

    Fine! (good job someone thought of stitching up THAT little loophole eh?)

    Now, you are, I understand, allowed to rub yourselves out in order to save the lives of others. Self-sacrifice, as with all nutball religions, allows you a front row seat to watch God for the rest of eternity. (much like the aforementioned torment if you ask me but if that’s what you’re into who am I to argue?)

    Good!

    Now, how about if I tell you that unless you all kill yourselves, I’m going to commit suicide?

    So, please feel free to top yourselves at ANY time you like. No rush, just try to get it over with before the next major religious festival. No hurry. You’ve got a ‘get out of jail free card’ courtesy Joe Mental and you can stand at the pearly gates with the complete assurance that you haven’t infringed any divine regulations.

    Go to it boys and girls! You know it makes sense!

  80. What they should really put on the packets is “Cigarettes are tested on puppies.” Because they are. I used to drive the other Greenpeacers INSANE telling them that every time they went for a smoke break.

    Here’s a piece of trivial. C. Everett Coop, the former US Surgeon General, theorizes that the reason tobacco products are so cancer-causing isn’t the tobacco itself but rather the fertilizers with their rather sophisticated, and often relatively new and metal-heavy, molecules. Public interest in his theory has caused the popularity of organic cigarettes (I’m laughing; you might as well too) to skyrocket. He says this accounts for the incredibly elevated cancer levels relative to previous generations.

    Given the way most of BC’s most popular herbal product is grown, hydroponically and with massive amounts of advanced fertilizers, some of my tobacco-escewingg friends are starting to get worried. They’ve all become very interested in gardening all of a sudden.

  81. Joe, I’m afraid the situation you present is too hypothetical. I’d need to see a demonstration before I could really give an analysis of my response.

  82. I’m not attacking their beliefs idlex I’m attacking the fact that I’m exposed to their beliefs and that my civilisation has been damaged and retarded by their intolerance and dogmatism.

    All of these people can do whatever they want in the privacy of their own homes. They can have shrines to Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf for all I care.

    Just stop using it as an excuse/mandate for law, invasion and motivation.

  83. nb sorry about the spelling mistakes. I haven’t been sampling anything stronger than cocoa tonight, so I have no excuse.

    Joe, Kant and I both disagree with you.

    “Enlightenment is the release of human beings from their self-incurred tutelage. Tutelage is the inability to use one’s own reason without direction from someone else. This tutelage is self-incurred when its cause does not lie in the lack of reason, but in the lack of resolution and courage to use it without direction from someone else. Sapere aude! Have courage to use your own reason!–that is the motto of enlightenment.”

    Essentially, this means that I must figure out what is right and not allow what you decide to sway me from my own logic. I’d be happy to offer to host a wake for you, but I’m afraid of offending you.

  84. raincoaster, with respect, I would have to propose that Kant is agreeing with me.

    Monotheists are the product of dogma (tutelage in your classification) If there was any universal truth in any aspect of the Abrahamic religions then the ape-man of the Indies’ and any other remote tribe would have discovered it independently without prompting (and syphilis) from Christian missionaries. Of course you are free to determine your own world view. That’s the prerogative of any self aware creature.

    It it this very point which makes me so utterly offended by the interminable proselytising of the God squad.

  85. Psi, here is the reply from the tech expert about your new thread idea:

    >I can certainly put one up for you if you’d like, not linked, as a tester…

    Simon

  86. Joe, with equal respect, I have to disagree.

    Is anyone surprised?

    That there are people who’ve swallowed a dogma whole, just as presented, is undeniable. I know third-generation atheists who haven’t questioned their beliefs since before Timothy Leary started dropping acid. There is no school of thought that is inhabited only by free-thinkers, not even Objectivism; equally, there is no school of thought that is inhabited only by brainwashed zombies. At minimum, the L. Ron figure is in on the joke.

    What I’m really objecting to here is your characterization of every theist as such a mindless zombie. Is this exactly what you meant to say? If so, what is your proof for doing so? Theists have blown things up, but they’ve also built a not-insignificant amount of your culture and mine.

    You can hardly condemn theists and use Kant to prop up your argument.

    From my perspective (and of course, the essence of enlightenment is that it must be fought for and won individually) Kant says,

    “oh, let him do it. You have zero control over the outcome anyway; he might off himself, he might convert to a pentecostalist, ya just never know, sweetheart. What you figure will be the consequences can’t dictate your actions. I mean, if you were any good at that, wouldn’t you be at the track? An action is either right or it is wrong. Decide, then act. As an enlightened individual.”

  87. Actually, I can link my last two postings together, by suggesting that the current anti-smoking crusade is a modern secular religion.

    It is a religion which has no God, but does have a Devil, which is the evil weed tobacco. The religion explores and expands the evil attributes of tobacco. At first it was believed to simply cause lung cancer in smokers. But this was expanded to include more or less any and every disease. It was, more or less, as if smokers were going around inhaling mustard gas. It therefore followed that they were also belching out mustard gas, and causing enormous fatalities among non-smokers. At each step of the extension of the evils of tobacco, the level of hysteria ratcheted up another notch. The warriors against tobacco set out to save tobacco addicts from the clutches of the demonic weed. And in the fight against this absolute evil, no method was too dishonourable. It became permissible to silence the opposition, and to tell outright lies in furtherance of the noble cause. Entire populations were to be terrified and stampeded into acquiescence.

    All of which is reminiscent of the Iraq war, which both Bush and Blair have spoken of as a struggle of Good against Evil, and in which any hysterical lie has been permissible – as has any atrocity, from the indefinite detention and torture of prisoners, to the destruction of entire cities.

    Essentially the same deranged mentality operates in both cases.

  88. Just a couple of other points raincoaster:

    You have made a number of assumptions: that Wicca is not an organized religion
    I can’t see what that’s got do do with anything, I didn’t even mention Wicca until you brought it up. All I know is the ‘Wiccans’ don’t rock up with a collection box on a Sunday morning and get me out of bed (or try to tell me that one day Tooting Broadway will be some kind of paradise).

    that I am a monotheist
    Well, it appears I was right. Unless you’d like to change your mind.

    that I am therefore evil (geez, it was PWP who called me a Nazi; are you related?)
    Monotheism = evil. Because you only have one central point of authority, the supernatural equivalent of Stalin, by obeying your doctrines you are, invariably and de facto, doing ‘good’. The fact that this causes consequential damage (burning/drowning/stoning/hanging witches, heretics, astronomers, people who walk on the cracks in the pavement etc.) is demonstrably irrelevant to your credo. i.e. your record says it all!
    Re PWP, as far as I am aware, we are not related although I have to say I felt he expressed his position on nuclear power admirably.

    and most heinously that only one view of the divine is allowable, the one that YOU believe. Regardless of the fine print, that’s up there with Cromwell.
    Errrrrm…..I’m an atheist
    Generally my view of the divine is limited to changing channels very quickly when Stars on Sunday comes on. Why do you keep talking about one religious viewpoint? I don’t have any religious viewpoint save the observation that anyone who does could legitimately be diagnosed with delusional schizophrenia.

    There is an element of sophistry here raincoaster, you seem to be trying to put words in my mouth or implicate me with viewpoints to which I don’t subscribe.

  89. Well it does stink like hell, lung cancer is a horrible way to die, it costs a bloody fortune, and the last words of Saki were, “Put that damned cigarette out.” An enemy sniper drew a bead on the spark, and that was the end of one of the masters of the short story.

    I’m not protesting too loudly. When you die, we get your stuff.

  90. I’m not using Kant to support my argument raincoaster, you are. I merely proposed that the ideals he expressed, and which you brought up, supported my position rather than your own.

    Further, your argument has become recursive in that you have used Kant to support your view that you should be allowed to make up your own mind and then reverted to your original position on religion (supporting dogma presumably) on the basis that you’ve made your mind up. In other words, you haven’t made a rational decision at all except to reject my rejection of dogma. There is no original thought involved in this, it’s simply gainsaying.

    as for:
    “oh, let him do it. You have zero control over the outcome anyway; he might off himself, he might convert to a pentecostalist, ya just never know, sweetheart. What you figure will be the consequences can’t dictate your actions. I mean, if you were any good at that, wouldn’t you be at the track? An action is either right or it is wrong. Decide, then act. As an enlightened individual.”

    Sounds more like Billy Graham to me.

  91. It’s really monotheism that I have the biggest gripe with, it REALLY upsets me!

    So you’d not be at all bothered if we all became polytheistic Hindus, or built temples to the Greek pantheon (or the even vaster Egyptian pantheon).

    Personally I find the latest cults (e.g. Wicca) the scariest. Long-established religions are to a great extent known quantities, and usually have managed to build in checks and balances. The latest cults, however benign in appearance, are essentially unknown quantities, and lack checks and balances.

  92. Joe, there isn’t any sophistry here on my part. You made assumptions for which you had no information. Some were right, some were wrong, but you certainly didn’t stop to gather information before ploughing ahead building your argument on these semi-liquid foundations. It’s fair to say, “Hey, you’re just making that stuff up,” which you were. Some hits, some misses, but it’s not a methodology that is destined to lead to greatness.

    If you believe that monotheism is evil, does that mean you’re a monist rather than a theist? If so, what do you think of organized monistic religions like Buddhism? And what makes you say that Wicca is deist? That’s certainly not what any of the wiccans I know would say, not even the dumb ones. They’re far more ecstacy-based than intellectual. Is polytheism not evil, despite the wreckage that has been done in its name? Come to think of it, what about state-mandated atheism such as under Stalin? Is it not evil too?

    Evil is independant of any particular theory of religion (including the theory that it’s all wrong). Pervasive and independant.

  93. Joe, is there a comma missing from your name?

    you have used Kant to support your view that you should be allowed to make up your own mind and then reverted to your original position on religion (supporting dogma presumably) on the basis that you’ve made your mind up

    The reason I brought Kant up was that my original position was formed years ago, partly as a result of studying and pondering what Kant had written. Independantly. Again, you assume too much.

  94. All of which is reminiscent of the Iraq war, which both Bush and Blair have spoken of as a struggle of Good against Evil, and in which any hysterical lie has been permissible – as has any atrocity, from the indefinite detention and torture of prisoners, to the destruction of entire cities.

    Quite right idlex! Could not have put it better!

    It’s this sort of typically self righteous justification because ‘God told me’ and the (unquestioning) acceptance of such instances of dementia (demontia might be a better word) that cause me to get so irate!

    Tony Blair: “God will judge me.”

    I just hope he does it in Nuremburg.

  95. Well done, ladies and gentlemen. I fine example of how religion (or people’s differing views on religion) bring about wars!

    The rules of a pub are “never discuss religion or politics”. It seems curiously fitting that a political site should therefore discuss religion.

    Shame there’s no bar here, eh?

    :oD

    Psi

  96. No raincoaster, no comma missing. Personal insults? Are the wheels coming off your argument?

    I haven’t assumed anything.
    Essentially, this means that I must figure out what is right and not allow what you decide to sway me from my own logic.
    This appears to be in the present tense, i.e. current.

  97. I agree with Psi, shame there’s no bar.

    Re idlex:
    So you’d not be at all bothered if we all became polytheistic Hindus, or built temples to the Greek pantheon (or the even vaster Egyptian pantheon).

    I have no real experience or knowledge of them in the present day or historically. They may well be tarred with the same brush. They don’t seem to enjoy the same global pre-eminence and the consequent influence as the major monotheistic religions.

    As I have said before, I’m not arguing with the belief systems, that’s a human perogative and I wouldn’t do anything about this even if I could; I am simply annoyed with the influence these organisations (what else is modern day Christianity, Judaism and Islam) wield over world politics and their historical intolerance and cruelty.

  98. You made assumptions for which you had no information. Some were right, some were wrong, but you certainly didn’t stop to gather information before ploughing ahead building your argument on these semi-liquid foundations. It’s fair to say, “Hey, you’re just making that stuff up,” which you were. Some hits, some misses, but it’s not a methodology that is destined to lead to greatness.

    You keep going on about ‘assumptions’ raincoaster without actually going into what they were. Anyway my position isn’t based on assumption it’s based on my personal position (I would like to ban all monotheistic religions immediately and reserve my rights on the others); it doesn’t rely on any assumptions about you or the world at large.

    The (distastefully) patronising (slightly incoherent) rhetoric above simply reaffirms my belief that you don’t actually have any real arguments and you’re trying a few old saws to look good to the ‘crowd’. Quoting philosophy always reminds me of people who spatter their text with latin. Have you recently read ‘Kant for Dummies’ or similar?

    I reiterate my allegation of sophistry.

  99. Bloody hell, Hitch’s blog is all doom and gloom and what’s this? the belief police? Believe what you like and live in peace is my motto. Only this is a Christian country (just), get over it, you’re not forced to actually believe, I’m sure many bishops don’t. And my purely personal belief is that if you wish to be anything different; witch, wizard, alien fundamentalist then do it quietly without forcing it down anyone elses throat. If you wish to be a muslim why not bog off and live in a muslim country? Makes sense to me.

    Well that’s my view on religion. Now what about war? Famine? Pestilence? Anything but sex please.

  100. …then do it quietly without forcing it down anyone elses throat.

    That jaq, is my position too.

    Unfortunately, the major world religions (predominantly monotheistic) wield their authority secretly and increase their influence and power at every opportunity.

    Like cancer, the only way to deal with it is to cut it out.

  101. Religion : n, The organised service and worship of a god, gods or the supernatural.

    War : Usually caused by it
    Famine : Usually supported by it (see suffering)
    Pestilence : Usually what I associated with it
    Sex : Usually banned by it

    What more can one say.

  102. Melissa…

    Good news from Simon…i’m sure you and The Bozzer will come to appreciate the genius of this.

    :oD

    Psi

  103. Mac,
    whilst I admit to being glib and facetious, you must admit there isn’t much to recommend it.

  104. Joe : my thoughts were not on facetiousness , believe me : besides which , I agree with huge chunks of what you say.

  105. raincoster mentions the state mandated atheism of Stalin. He might add in Mao’s brand which was at least twice as successful as Uncle Joe’s in dispatching something like 40 million people. Marxism, the particular form of atheism there, has this in common with religion. Both are based on an irrational premise or two. The word irrational is used in a non-perjorative sense. In the case of Christianity – e.g. – the premise is that of a divine being which then created the world and so on. I don’t happen to believe that premise and many wise and intelligent Christians will agree that it is beyond proof either way and thus must be a premise for which there is no rational support. It doesn’t mean they are wrong.

    Marxism has a number of interesting premises. One of them is that the increasing misery of the workers and their consequently increasing self organisation leads inevitably to revolution and a workers’ state which would eventually wither away to just deal with the administation of things. Another is that if the state controls everything then society can have its affairs organised for everyone’s benefit. Neither of these propositions is arrived at rationally from existing premises. So the great turbulences of the Russian and Chinese and other revolutions were based on as much of a pie in the sky – cue Joe Hill but you were duped Joe – idea as many say that the Christian hope of resurrection is.

    So when you chaps are drawing up your lists of religions to be banned please don’t forget Marxism.

  106. Thank God (sic) someone does, I was starting to feel persecuted. I bet raincoaster’s getting the faggots sorted out even as we speak.

    Apparently no-one expects the Spanish Inquis…AAARRRGH

  107. Jack I’m fascinated, this is good stuff. Help me out though as my Concise Oxford English Dictionary doesn’t contain the word ‘perjorative’. And what about Trotsky?

    (I thought “the state controls everything [down to what you think and say] then society can have its affairs organised for everyone’s benefit” was the premise of New Labour)

  108. jaq

    Are you just teasing a poor old east Anglian boy? You know what perjorative means? Or have I spelt it wrong?

    Yes Trotsky was a villain with as much potential as the rest but the accident with the ice pick ended a promising career in mass murder.

    You are right about New Labour. It’s velvet Stalinism, admittedly preferable to the Gulag but possibly just as soul destroying in the end

  109. Joe

    I had no idea that raincoster had any strong feelings about gays one way or the other. I always think of him as a muscular liberal – one of the best!

  110. Jack,
    I hold no views whatever on raincoster’s sexual orientation, liberalism or indeed sex, so all I can say is ‘?’

  111. If my instinct is what it used to be , raincoaster is definitely female, catholis , sioscialist and a French Canadian of well read background> Misled perhaps in some areas , but you can’t win ’em all.

  112. Careful Mac,
    you’ll get nailed by the “assumption” beam on stun with a double helping of Kant torpedoes.

    I got away with my shields down and running on impulse. The dilithium crystals seem to have gone AWOL.

    It’s life Mac, but not as we know it.

  113. Marxism, the particular form of atheism there, has this in common with religion. Both are based on an irrational premise or two. The word irrational is used in a non-perjorative sense. In the case of Christianity – e.g. – the premise is that of a divine being which then created the world and so on. I don’t happen to believe that premise… (Jack R)

    ‘Pejorative’, raincoaster, means means ‘having an unpleasant or disparaging connotation’.

    But is the idea of a creator god irrational in a non-pejorative sense? It seems to me to a perfectly rational idea that some great designer created the universe, and the the earth, and populated it with plants and animals, and finally men and women. It is after all, only a vast magnification of what humans do when they themselves design and make something.

    The problem with the idea of God is not that it is irrational, but that it is too successful an explanation. It can be used to explain absolutely anything. For once we have invoked a supernatural creator god, we can also suppose that he tinkers with his creation (just like humans tinker with theirs), and that whatever happens (storm, flood, famine, etc) is the expression of divine will. In short, to any question, the answer can be given: “God willed it thus.”

    But this isn’t a useful or helpful answer, because if we do not know the will of god, then saying “God willed it thus” boils down to saying “I don’t know”.

    Which is where we started in the first place.

  114. raincoaster is definitely female, catholis , sioscialist and a French Canadian of well read background.

    My take too, but I’m not so sure about the ‘catholic’ bit. I’d also add one-time GreenPeace activist whose favourite philosopher is Immanuel Kant.

    Kant, I was reading today, lived most of his life in Konigsberg, now Kaliningrad, on the Baltic coast. The citizens have been thinking of renaming the city, partly because Kalinin was responsible for the Katyn massacre of Polish servicemen. The current favourite for a new name is apparently Kantgrad.

  115. Incidentally (and Joe Mental will probably enjoy this), I found the bile flowing in me over the release of several Christian peace activists in Baghdad.

    Of course, I’m glad they were released. But I found my temperature rising when a spokesman on their behalf more or less refused to give the credit to the US and British special forces who had secured their release. The credit was instead given to God.

    This is crazy. They were released by soldiers, not by God. And if the extremely annoyed soldiers hand them back to their captors, it will be because the soldiers decide the ungrateful blighters deserve it, not God. Just imagine: you put yourself at risk to rescue a drowning man, and the blighter declares that God saved him, and furthermore expresses his deep contempt for you.

    But what annoyed me even more was that the dolts had gone to Baghdad to try to stop this war. If they were going to go anywhere, they should have gone to Washington and London. Those are the people who started this war, not the Iraqis.

    And furthermore, in Blair And Bush’s private chapels, they would have found like-minded Christian nutters, with whom they might have conducted some sort of semi-coherent discussion. No chance of that in Baghdad, where the religious climate is entirely different.

    In fact, come to think of it, no chance either way anyway.

  116. Actually, I went away because I’d pulled another bloody all-nighter and needed to get some sleep.

    It’s obvious that Joe and I will never agree, so I’ll not waste anyone’s time refuting his statements.

    Mac’s take on me is largely correct:
    I am female, but not catholic , socialist (with anarchal communist leanings I try not to flaunt on the website of politicians for obvious reasons) and a French Canadian of well read background. Well, thanks for that. I am technically “French” and “Canadian” but the term “French Canadian” is reserved for a particular group who forged, with the British, the nation of Canada. I’m not one of them and they’d be the first to say so.

    Idlex- You’re right that I am a one-time GreenPeace activist whose favourite philosopher is Immanuel Kant, but you’re wrong when you assume I don’t know what “pejorative” means. I know lots of big words, being, as stated above, so way eruditer than most people.

  117. Jack Ramsey – sorry I’d forgotton what pejorative meant (and how to spell it too) I’ve found it now: expressing contempt or disapproval. Understand that I’m not at my best at the moment, hence the silly comments and not much substance, but I’m enjoying reading others, even if I do occasionally search for a little humour in life. Can’t find any in Trotsky though – what’s this about being a mass murderer and an ice pick? Hitch was a Trot (maybe I should tread more carefully where he’s concerned) I’m sure I could find reams of stuff on the net and will do, but can you start me off with a precis? (Just a line or two? I’ll understand if you’re not so inclined.) Ta.

  118. It’s obvious that Joe and I will never agree, so I’ll not waste anyone’s time refuting his statements.

    raincoaster, do you use ‘refute’ in the context:
    1) Refuse or reject
    or
    2) Prove (a person, statement, accusation etc.) to be false or incorrect?

    i.e. is this a typically transparent Christian apologist ploy to add greater significance to the validity your arguments than they actually deserve? Sounds like a bit more sophistry to me.

    Fine, leave it. It’s a tiresome (and noisome) subject at best.

  119. Shame to say jaq lots of us were Trots in a previous life. The line was that all would be cushty if only that nice intllectual Leon Trotsky had taken over from Lenin instead of that ghastly peasant Stalin. Since Lenin was well into a campaign of terror against enemies of the revolution at the time with Trotsky’s support I’m not sure we can take that as read. Trotsky led the bloody suppresssion of the Kronstadt sailor’s mutiny. The sailors had been supporters of the Bolsheviks but kicked up about one or two things. Modern Trotskyists defend the communist states against capitalism. During the second world war Trotskyists advocated revolutionary defeatism predicting workers revolutions when the exhaused capitalist states ground to a halt. Then the fun started as some tried to label the Soviet invasion of Eastern Europe as equivalent to a workers’ revolution, whereas others, seeing that this wasn’t quite what KM had in mind, started saying ‘errmm….’. Suddenly there were more Trostyist Fourth Internationals than you could shake a stick at all hating each other more than the capitalists or the old fashioned Communist Party. The bit in the Life of Brian about various liberations movements is based on this.

    Trotsky was expelled from the Soviet Union and later killed by an assassin with an ice pick. The process of beatification certainly showed up the old RC for the ponderous organsiation it is and Trotsky is often portrayed as a kindly gent with nice specs and a rather gauche little goatie.

    Anyway it often dawns on the most thick headed Trot, such as yours truly, and the more cerebal ones, such as the Hitch brothers, that this was all so much onion sauce for people who didn’t like capitalism but weren’t too keen on Stalin. Capitalism is often not pretty but it does put food on the table and, in an open society, let people have a better crack of the whip than the alternatives.

    Please be aware that this is rant mode rather than cosnidered judgement and the gnet from the American SWP may wish to correct me.

    I’m glad you’re back jaq.

  120. I know lots of big words, being, as stated above, so way eruditer than most people. (raincoaster)

    I’m sorry, but I must have confused you with jaq – who, perhaps wrongly, I also imagine to be both female and French.

  121. raincoster

    are you a lady type person? If you are a French lady type person I’m prepared to withdraw my fatwah against the French having met several delightful French lady type persons today – IO trust the mesahib doesn’t read this blog.

    Actually I’ll withdraw the fatwah anyway if the Normans withdraw back to Normandy

  122. But wouldn’t you miss Boris if they did that? Oh, right: he’s Turkish.

    I am in no position to make statements about my standing as a lady, but I am female, and I am French.

  123. The Normans, of course, weren’t French.

    Normandy didn’t become part of France until 1238.

    But you knew that, right?

    ;o)

  124. All I can say about the repartee above over the last couple of days is that … ALL YOU BLOGGERS ARE MINDBLOWINGLY AMAZING! The breadth of your imagination and impulse to communicate knows no bounds

    I am filled with admiration and must humbly say I just cannot compete at your level but love reading it. Keep going

  125. On a technical point, are we bloggers?

    Raincoaster has her own blog, so she can be described as a blogger.

    But, as I see it, this is Boris’ blog, and us lot are simply posting up comments – Raincoaster included.

  126. Psimon, 13th Century was before my time (how old do you think I am?) so I am fine with describing the Normans as French at the moment, although I have used pithier words from time to time. Nobody who produces anything as fine as Calvados can be all bad.

    Melissa, you say:

    I just cannot compete at your level

    But the fact is, if it weren’t for your leveling influence, I’m sure we’d do nothing BUT compete. You have a gift for cheerleading without obnoxious perkiness and calming potential storms. And I have no vested interest in saying that because you’re already sending me the free stuff!

    Of course, I could be angling for the whole set. We bloggers is a sneaky bunch.

  127. And idlex, I’d say we’re all bloggers. There are community blogs, and by allowing so many comments Boris has let this evolve from one person’s braindump to a community blog. I’d venture to say I’ve got a higher word count on the last two posts than Boris does, and it’s not JUST because I’m a windbag. I’m not alone, either. These threads are threads, like a forum but with a starting point at the top of the page. If I had to use a metaphor (blog stat counter held at gunpoint or something, “go on, use a metaphorical conceit or the HTML get it!”) I’d have to say it’s like a large party, with an assortment of guests, some louder, some good listeners, only Boris says the most interesting thing just as we arrive and then passes out really early. From what I hear, that doesn’t exactly parallel what happens in RL.

  128. a large party, with an assortment of guests, some louder, some good listeners, only Boris says the most interesting thing just as we arrive and then passes out really early.

    Brilliant!

  129. Apologies for the gender mistake raincoaster. My mental picture is undergoing reassignment. I’m a bit slow. Give me a few days.

    I have this old fashioned feeling that we are all either ladies or gentlemen on this blog.

    Happy weekend everyone!

  130. Are there any other sorts Jack , than ladies and gentlemen . unless you wish to retitle the guestas at this large party as, TARTS & VICARS.

  131. Anyway it often dawns on the most thick headed Trot, such as yours truly,

    Would you like to expand upon Trotskyism a bit, Jack? I’ve never knowingly met a Trotskyite. My vague understanding was that he advocated a global communist revolution, while Stalin went for socialism in one country (Russia).

    Somehow or other, I have never been attracted by Communism, even if it was all the rage some 50 years ago. If nothing else, all Marxist writers employ their own opaque special language, which I found exceedingly difficult to understand.

    What little interest I had in Marxism died upon reading, or rather ploughing through with an icebreaker, the first ten or so chapters of Capital. I concluded that Marx was a very clever classical economist in the mould of Adam Smith and David Ricardo, who had come up with a neat explanation for the phenomenon of profit using the Labour Theory of Value (which I rejected). Marx’s misfortune, in some ways, was to be the last classical economist. More or less at the time he was writing, economic thought was being developed by Jevons, Walras, and Menger and others into neo-classical Utilitarian economics, in which the emphasis shifted from the labour theory of value to a utility theory of value. To the best of my knowledge, this remains the conventional wisdom – although the discipline of economics seems to generate subcults in much the same way as Christian fundamentalists.

  132. idlex

    You’re about a million times more likely to meet an ex-Trot than a Trot. If we all got together without squabbling for long enough we would be the biggest (ex)political movement in the country.

    Yes you are right. Trotsky stuck to the idea of internationalism but don’t get too cosy on the idea. You could argue that because Stalin had to face the impossibility of building Utopia he was forced to be more ‘practical’ – if you count the murder of millions to keep a semblance of the Utopia going as ‘practical’ – than was Leon who was never put to the test.

  133. raincoaster – thankyou, yes, I wouldn’t dream of “make[ing] pointed remarks about punctuation marks.”

    Y’all: perhaps we are the bloggers and Boris the blogee?

    Jack and idlex – I just love all this Trotski and Stalin stuff. More more. Don’t be nervous about drawing parallels with our own government today will you?

  134. Jack and idlex – I just love all this Trotski and Stalin stuff. More more.

    I’m afraid you’ll have to ask Jack, Jaq. What I know about it all could be written on the back of a thrupenny stamp, with space left over for my appreciation of Freud.

    My principal aversion to socialists and communists (and I suppose Trots) in my university days was that they were all so horribly grim. Indeed, they all continually seethed with barely-suppressed rage. No sooner had one casually remarked on the weather, as one does, than they would launch into a condemnation of capitalism, its contradictions, the alienation of working class, the coming long-overdue proletarian revolution, and the inconsequentiality of the today’s weather in the onward march of history. I paraphrase, of course.

    I used to find them so tedious and dogmatic that I would simply make up some excuse (“Oh gosh, I’ve run out of tobacco again!”) and depart, leaving them to continue subversively plotting the overthrow of capitalism.

    Later, when I’d found out a bit more about it all, I took to prodding them into trying to explain the Marxian Theory of Surplus Value. None of them had a clue what this was, of course, but they would bluster away for a while, making fools of themselves, to my intense delight.

  135. I took to prodding them into trying to explain the Marxian Theory of Surplus Value. None of them had a clue what this was, of course, but they would bluster away for a while, making fools of themselves, to my intense delight

    idlex – excellent! I know what you mean about the communist rebels. They always tended to be pale and thin and not good with women (apologies Jack – I’m sure there are exceptions to every rule and you and the obviously gorgeous Hitch bros were the exceptions as I’m guessing Chris will happily confirm himself) I can’t seem to put a foot right with one particular ex-trot this weekend. And I’m so nice really πŸ™

    Freud of course was a dick and largely full of rubbish, especially about women. He makes one worthwhile general point and EVERYTHING he comes out with MUST be true. Anyone actually reading his stuff can see that it’s mostly a product of the time. Better reading the greek philosophers in my view.

  136. Wow, things were very different over here. We went through our Communist period back in the Thirties and then achieved a certain level of socialism with which we could all live. Because so many Canadians were independent farmers, trappers, etc, the whole “workers of the world” thing didn’t really resonate with them.

    Our scrawny, neurasthenic bores at University were the Libertarians and the Nihilists. The former ran around babbling about Ayn Rand (whose name they could not pronounce) and the latter ran around babbling about how we were all doomed, so what was the point of anything. I used to adore getting them all worked up and then saying “But you are here at university…tell me why again?”

    I was once on a peace march and I’d volunteered to push a wheelchair. Let’s just say there should be load limits for those things, and I was struggling to push my appointed man-mountain over the Burrard Bridge in the four hours allotted to the march. We were overtaken by Anarchist for Peace, who very kindly took turns pushing the geezer in the wheelchair. I must say, they were quite friendly.

  137. jaq: I believe the best book written about the Trotskist schism is Animal Farm. If my memory isn’t playing tricks (a distinct possibility when I haven’t had any coffee yet) the Trotsky figure is Snowball.

    I was never a doctrinaire Leninist nor Trotskyite, but I did prefer Trotsky because A) he hadn’t become a murderous despot and B) he hadn’t actually been proven wrong, unlike Marx.

    It seems there are basic human qualities of which none of the Communist leadership was aware. It turns out that as people are pushed further and further into systemic oppression, they cope rather than revolt. The workers of the world were never going to get so desperate that they united, partly because the desperation isn’t evenly spread geographically, but mostly because people are sheep. They actually tend to revolt AFTER long periods of oppression, when things start to get better. Look at China, South Africa, the US itself.

  138. Animal Farm.

    When I first read this I simply thought it was a wonderfully imaginative story. Tears came to my eyes when the horse (who was always saying, “I will work harder.”) was sent off to the knacker’s yard. It took my older (and wiser) brother to explain to me that it was actually all about the Soviet Union.

    But then, I was only 12 at the time.

  139. Getting back to my point about people being sheep…sorry, not in my most Disneyesque mood lately. Now, I’m not sure of the policy of this blog, so I’m fine if Melissa or Wibbler or anyone wants this taken down. You can replace it with this link if you want. Otherwise, here it is.

    Excerpted from Vanity Fair, March 1991

    The Years of Living Dangerously
    a profile of Ryszard Kapuscinski by Stephen Schiff

    “I want to tell you now something,” he says quietly. “You know, like
    every Polish writer I was censored, for forty years. The most
    difficult result of censorship is self-censorship, because it changes
    your way of thinking, and it’s completely unconscious after a time.
    All of us after the Communists, we all have to fight this, and I am
    fighting all the time. But the reason I am saying this here, in this
    place [the former Warsaw Ghetto]: you know, Hannah Arendt in her book
    about Eichmann trial, Eichmann in Jerusalem, she was unable to
    understand why the Jews were going so passively to their death – why
    the Holocaust was possible, why there was no resistance. But I
    understand it, because I was there and I saw the thing. And I have an
    answer that I would say to Hannah Arendt.

    “There was nothing strange in the behaviour of those people. It was
    natural. Because if you don’t see any hope, you are very passive. I’m
    not speaking of individuals. You always find a hero willing to fight
    against everybody. But the masses, if you put them in a situation of
    extreme hardship, they beome very passive. Lack of hope paralyzes
    their will, paralyzes their brain, paralyzes their movement. That’s
    why people who are really in a famine, who have real hunger, do
    nothing. They are waiting for death, unable to move. If you went to
    the market in Ethiopia during the famine, you would see that the
    market is full of food. And around the market, you have people dying
    of hunger. So your first reaction is to ask yourself why these people
    don’t just attack the market dealers – the food is right there. Plenty
    of food. Their lives are at stake. But if you ask that, you are like
    Hannah Arendt and you don’t understand what it means to be in a
    situation of complete desperation with no way out. It makes you
    paralyzed.”

    But wait a minute, I say. You of all people have witnessed the
    opposite. You’ve been there when a change, a revolution, becomes
    possible. He smiles. “Yes, you’re right,” he says. “When a revolution
    comes, it is at the very moment when there is some improvement. But
    improvement is too slow, too limited – that’s when people revolt. But
    first they have to be set in some motion. If you are in a motionless
    situation, you will never revolt.”

    He seems to be formulating a kind of Newtonian physics of revolution.
    Laws of political inertia, political velocity. The very thing that
    happened in Eastern Europe in 1989, that happened in South Africa in
    1990, that continues in the Soviet Union even now. A body at rest will
    remain at rest. And a body in motion…

    “It’s true,” he says. “I was not in Pinsk at the time, but I know
    people who witnessed the liquidation of the ghetto in Pinsk. At that
    time there were some 30,000 people in the ghetto of Pinsk. And when
    the moment of the Final Solution came, they were sent through the
    town, in columns. Rabbis marched at the head of each column. And in
    columns – one huge, huge column – they walked to the place which is
    about ten kilometers outside of town, in a small forest. There were
    mass graves dug there, long graves, and on the opposite side of every
    grave was a Nazi soldier with a machine gun. And the Jewish people of
    Pinsk were taken to the verge of the grave and were shot. One row fell
    in the grave, and the next row came, was shot, fell down, and the next
    row, shot, fell down – in silence. All in silence.

    “The machine gun in World War II was still a very heavy instrument,
    and those soldiers became, after some minutes, very tired. So they
    asked the Jews to stop so the soldiers could rest and smoke a
    cigarette. Then the soldiers would be sitting on the dirt piles of the
    gave, smoking cigarettes and taking a rest. After resting for some
    time, they picked up their machine guns, and they asked the rabbis to
    walk again, and again they continued to shoot. There were eyewitnesses
    to this, because some people survived. So Hannah Arendt couldn’t
    understand it, but it is understandable. If you are in Pinsk, and you
    are already so desperately run-down – no food, sick, hopeless, no way
    to escape – you will just follow the orders of your religious leaders.
    You will march in columns. You will wait while they smoke. You will go
    to your death.”

  140. oh yes, it needs to be said that I combed the web on three different search engines and I can definitely say that if that is posted elsewhere but in my blog (typed in by hand thank you very much, some things are still done the old way) it is very well hidden indeed. This is the only way to show this snippet of the article to you.

  141. jaq

    I thought I was good with women but they didn’t agree.

    raincoaster

    “I was never a doctrinaire Leninist nor Trotskyite, but I did prefer Trotsky because A) he hadn’t become a murderous despot and B) he hadn’t actually been proven wrong, unlike Marx.”

    I think this the point of LTs attraction to young whippersnappers like my earlier self who confused criticism with rejection, and replaced that which they rejected with a non-critical idea that just because soemthing (Trotskyism in power) had not been tried and found wanting then it was probably OK. Possibly the effects of all the weed helped with the general fatheadedness – who says cannabis isn’t bad for you?

    If someone had bought more of Adolf’s watercolours he may have just been a grumpy but moderately prosperous artist. If Trotsky had ousted Stalin I don’t think much would have been different. Either Trotsky would have compromised the unworkable Marxist Leninist theory with nationalism in much the same way or he would have attempted to put the fairy tale into action and been replaced quite soon by someone else.

    If you chaps recall Snowball was rather a scumbag as well. It’s just that thieves fall out. My favourite was the donkey, whose name I forget, but I wish he could join us on this blog!

    Incidentally although jaq and others are quite right to point out Leninist/Stalinist/Trotskyist traits in various elements of the political classes and the commentariat – la Hewitt and Eddy Meyer spring to mind – it is as well to remember that we will get a chance to replace them, well the political ones anyway.

  142. Your welcome. I think, whether one agrees or disagrees with the thoughts expressed, these are words which should not be forgotten. That man has seen revolutions; he’s lived it. He knows.

  143. Now I have something to say after reflection. The problem with crowds is that they tend to intimdate the individuals in them. This can work like the situation described in raincoster’s communique. At the other end it can underpin the violent behaviour of the mob. When I went on the ProTest demo the other week we started out as a group of individuals. Although it didn’t get oppressive I was a little concerned with how people fell into chants. Now I am not saying for one moment that any of the courteous people around me were on the point of lynching animal rightists but once the chant begins it seems to me that there is an insidious invitation to submerge the individual in the crowd.

    Isaiah Berlin’s lifelong horror of violence was sparked by seeing a mob in Czarist Russia fall upon and murder a policeman. I don’t suppose the Czarist police service was staffed by George Dixons but it may well have been the that most if not all of the mob would not as individuals have killed the man if they had the power – e.g. a sniper’s rifle – to do so. Perhaps the same might be true of the Polish Jews. Many as individuals, or perhaps twos or threes, threatened by men with guns may have tried to save themselves however futile the effort.

    No doubt the pack instinct had some evolutionary advantage in ancient Africa or East Anglia. Like so many of our evolved behaviours it needs some conscious moderation.

  144. There’s a vicious Darwinian point that could be made here, but even I am not quite jaded enough to make it.

    The idea that people take up arms against their sea of troubles just after the tide has turned is an intriguing one. It certainly makes sense out of the messes in Iraq and Afghanistan right now. I see Senator McCain has told Iraquis that if they don’t get their shiite together the Americans will pull out and leave Iraq to Iraquis; I have to ask if that’s a threat or a long-overdue promise? Getting rid of Saddam Hussein was a good thing (if also long-overdue), but the predictable result of this improvement was a natural demand for more improvement, immediately, and the aggressive taking of action by those who were not satisfied to see control handed over to intermediaries and Haliburton operatives.

    What do we want? Freedom.

    When do we want it? Now.

    In this I wholeheartedly support Senator McCain (oh god, please don’t tell any of my relatives I agree with a Republican!) if for different reasons. Again, if it gets what you want accomplished, perhaps it’s best not to put the motivation under the microscope or we’ll never get anything accomplished.

    Canadians have a long and proud tradition as peacekeepers. It was perhaps our mistake that we thought that would translate into peacebuilding.

  145. You’re right on the blogging front Idlex.

    To be a purist in the blogosphere sense one would have to have a blog to be officially a ‘blogger’

  146. In an institution such as a school was the premise as to the desirability of uniformity.

    Taking uniformity onto the street is what would occur under such an authority as Mao. Even under this lot of so-called social levellers , we haven’t yet reached the summit of that perverted logic.

  147. Mac – there’s time yet: they’ve already mooted a ban on hoodies which Boris opposed remember because they rely on private/state cctv rather than proper policing.

    raincoaster – I recommend Stephen Fry’s book on Hitler (can’t remember the title but I can get it) sort of comes in two books really; the first is excellent and deals with the possible outcome if someone got their wish and could go back in time and stop Hitler comming to power. The 2nd seemed to attempt to justify homosexuality. basically, sometimes it’s better to deal with the devil you know, who everyone can see is noticably wrong, rather than chaos.

    Anyway, in my book Iraq was an illegal war and we shouldn’t be there.

  148. Elle Seymour

    At the last count this website got an average of 10,000 hits per day which is astounding for such a homespun outfit. It reflects well on Boris I think and what he represents: openness and free communication. It takes some courage to allow all and sundry to have their say and allow them to throw a few rotten eggs at you.

    Thank you for joining us on the comment front.

    Melissa @ Boris Johnson Office

  149. I always have my worst moments of Cartesian doubt before breakfast. I am grateful for the many websites that are listed by e-fellows (used agenderly, a new word created just now) because new ideas are brought to bear and old ones presented from a new angle but how do we get anywhere in this plethora of text?

    Maybe after breakfast….

  150. If you check out David Milliband’s blog, he says it cost Β£6,000 to set up and many bloggers are outraged at this exhorbitant cost for what is nothing more than a ministerial site. What was the cost of setting up Boris’ blog, how much does it cost to run? It’s only fair to get answers from parties. 10,000 hits is truly amazing. And thanks for giving a personal reply too, unlike Minister Milliband.

  151. Ellee

    It’s all on a bit of shoestring budget : what makes it great are all of YOU who join us. Volunteers are running it and gave us the site in the first place. So THANK YOU AGAIN for your great contributions, and a tap on the back for us who do the backroom stuff too! Well done. The best things are free.

    I’m outraged at the cost of the Minister’s site and feel strongly it should be banned in favour of a plainer more user-friendly one that would run at a fraction of the currect costs.

  152. Jack, a stiff cup of Assam can conquer almost anything.

    Melissa:

    The best things are free.

    Are you turning socialist? Woohoo, I made a convert!

    Milliband’s site cost is laughable. At that price, every taxpayer should get a dozen roses from Larry Ellison every time they sign on. This site is extremely lively (as you can see) well-moderated with thought and discretion, and robust. I don’t think it’s had a single outage in the time I’ve been around.

  153. You are an angel raincoaster – hope you get the book soon (posted yesterday!)

    ps not sure about the conversion quite yet though…

  154. raincoaster:
    since when has anything that the socialists do , or did , cost nothing. To quote that old bushy eyebrowed ex -chancellor of ours , in the days when they didn’t even bother to bury the dead , ” We’ll squeeze those with money so hard that their pips will squeak” They haven’t changed to this day. The truth is they are squeezing those without money until their pips squeak. Only public employees are to be able to retire at an age when they might still enjoy their twilight years. They went on strike again yesterday,” to protect their right to live off the backs of the real workers in the land. Socialism stinks today as it always did , ask the USSR and all the other ex members of the club.

  155. Thanks, Melissa. If the book was posted yesterday then, with the ice bridge melting and the dogs unable to pull a full sledload, it should get here in about seven days, give or take.

    How’s Boris getting around these days, what with no bike and all? I just went out for the first rollerblade of the season, and the sport has much to recommend it, not least of which is that your wrists are armed with fierce, unbreakable fiberglass and velcro contraptions which enable you to bounce harmlessly off cars, telephone poles, and large Frenchmen.

  156. Yes raincoaster , < i> we know that , but talk to the people on the ground, as I have done over the decades, and they were all under the impression, ( because they were told so) , that they lived in a socialist Heaven or hell, where they had a vegetable every week. One week was cabbage week ( again) in East germany, and if you had youir ration cat=-rds , and had been good to the authorities , next week you’d be excused cabbage, and would have sauerkraut instead.They couldnt wait for the monthly allowed delivery ,( if you had relatives in The Bundes -republik), of coffee. Whatever the reality; it all went under the banner of socialism.

  157. I believe that Trotsky one characterised the Soviet Union as having a socialist economy with a fascist political structure. (The old boy had the occasional insight). This is a double no-no. If we are insisting on boolean dimensions then we can have

    socialist economy + fascist political structure (Soviet Union)

    market economy + fascist political structure (arguably Nazi Germany though National Socialist policies did have a significant socialist content, more likely Musso’s Italy, China today)

    socialist economy + open society political structure (Western Europe at current stage, India, Chile)

    market economy + open society political structure (USA, Japan)

    However I prefer continuous dimensions with the odd singularity and of course there is not really independence between the axes..

    A pure market economy is not a priori morally better than a pure socialist one but experience seems to indicate that socialist economies are wasteful. It might be possible for a sufficiently authoritarian command economy (located nearer the socialist/fascist area than many others) to respond to climate change by oppressive means where the living standards of the masses are reduced drastically. However it seems more likely that a liberal capitalist economy, located not at the market extreme of the economy axis and with an open society political system prepared to intervene in the economy carefully by making green issues an objective force in the market, will be successful.

    What’s this thread about again?

  158. Jack :socialist economies are wasteful. Never a truer word spoken, especially about the pseudo post-modernist socialist society, such as the one in which we live.

    You missed one country out of the list you made in Re.category of government. Market economy with neo communistic tendecies : viz The UK .

    One man thinks he sits on God’s right hand . He at No 11 thinks he is God.

  159. We are all tourists in the Great World of Life raincoster and it is often our fate to be run down by the Blond Reaper on the Bicycle of Destiny.

    Having said that I am a signatory to the Great Charter of the PTL.

    There used to be game on I Haven’t a Clue which was advice for tourists in London. Some good bits I remember are

    Have you tried the famous echo in the British Library Reading Room?

    London cab drivers love to haggle over the fare.

    ‘Pig’ is an affectionate piece of Cockney slang used to address policemen.

    I suppose the latest is that the shadow Minister for HE likes to cycle around the capital incognito so he can chat to ordinary people but he really loves it if you recognise him and jump in front of his bike.

  160. raincoaster

    Boris not fully recovered enough to ride bike. He’s off to China next week, so that should give him a rest from London traffic and he should come back all the stronger for it.

    Thanks for asking

    ps your rollerblading sounds kl and I can see you slickly weaving your way through the morass of people/obstacles and gliding from a to b effortlessly – you genie

  161. Melissa, thanks for the update. Unfortunately, my rollerblading tends to go like my posting…I cruise along smoothly for awhile, then somebody cuts me off and I spend the next fifteen minutes throwing references (or just wet newspapers) at him until he backs off. So, no change.

    If I had any money I’d offer to buy Boris a drink if he’s routed through Vancouver; alas, as a good socialist I of course have none. Maybe I can talk the Irish Heather into letting me run a tab? Will keep you posted.

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