22 January 2010

The case for Scottish independence

In my view the case for Scottish independence is a strong one. The borders of Scotland are clear and undisputed; the question of who will be Scottish presents no problem: i.e. anyone who lives in Scotland and who wants to be. Unlike Ireland, there are no politically significant ethnic differences in Scotland complicating independence Unlike Wales, Scotland possesses a geographical heart, its Lowlands, which is geographically distinct from England. Scotland already has semi-autonomous status in the UK and its separate cultural nationhood to draw upon.

Other structural factors push Scotland towards independence. Britain isn’t a federation (Cf. Quebec in Canada) and an English/Scottish federation (with Wales and Northern Ireland fitted in somehow) is a non-starter given the difference in size and power of its would-be constituents. In any event federations of two don’t make successful marriages (Cf. the former Czecho-Slovakia).

Future developments in London might favour independence. This year Cameron’s Tories will probably triumph in England, but not in Scotland. The decomposing glue of Britain’s unified Labour Party sticking together Westminster and Holyrood will further come unstuck. Scotland will want to make its own choices in the world, and so it should.

20 January 2010

The Beatles

I think the Beatles symbolised a breakdown in the rigid puritanical meaning systems of 1950s Britain. Compare any play, song, film or photograph of 1960 with one from 1970 and the life-style change is obvious.

Post-war art form before the Beatles era was built on what ought to be said, thought or done by the whole society or a group within it. Two changes came about in the Beatles years: the artistic description of life as it actually was or might be, and the endorsement of individualistic and non-conventional approaches to life, summed up in the much maligned phrase, “doing your own thing.”

Woman goes to a man's house for sex

In this case, no jury could possibly distinguish between two scenarios (i) the women went to the house, said no to sex with the men and was then raped, or (ii) the women went to the house, had consensual sex with the men, didn't like it and cried rape. There was no point, therefore, in continuing with the trial.

Yet there does seem something unfair here. Several people met up in order to have sex, and it went wrong. All of the men involved have their names printed in the Bolton newspaper; which can be accessed on the internet for the rest of their lives; the woman though, has a right to anonymity.

Fairness to me suggests that they either all have their names printed or none of them.

As a general rule unless there are marks of violence on the body or a witness, convicting a man of rape is an inexact science.

If a 'respectable' woman beckons a passer-by to climb in through her window and invites him to have sex with her, she can accuse him of rape afterwards and he will be found guilty.

If an inebriated party-goer staggers home with a respectable young man and he rapes her, he will be acquitted of rape.

In effect the court is often not asking the question: did a rape occur, but 'would this woman consent to sex in these circumstances'. Sometimes that method works; often it doesn't.

14 January 2010

The banning of Islam4UK

Islam4UK are bigots and idiots. Yet in a free society people have a right to be just that. The only possible legitimate basis for banning an organisation is because its leadership is involved in acts of violence; but that is not the case here.

The banning of Islam4UK results from a cheap New Labour's attempt to buy favourable publicity, but the cost is to diminish democracy itself. The banning means that civic organisations exist because the government permits them and not as of right.
In Britain there are also Christian, Jewish and other fundamentalist groups which will not be banned, so it is hard to deny that this case is anti-Muslim.

The lights on Britain as a liberal democracy are slowly going out.

13 January 2010

Section 44 Terrorism Act

When police officers, as permitted by section 44 of the Terrorism Act, can stop, search and humiliate citizens without even any reasonable suspicion of terrorist activity, personal freedom has been seriously compromised.

While no terrorist has been caught by section 44, hundred of thousands of people have been humiliated by police officers who stop and search them simply because they have the power to do so.

The truth is that all police forces everywhere expand their remit and abuse their powers unless they are kept under strict legal control; and a law like section 44 gives a green light to police officers to misuse of their powers.

8 January 2010

The Swiss referendum on minarets

I think the motive behind the Swiss People’s Party was Muslim bashing. And obviously singling out an ethnic group for a symbolic kick in the balls is wrong.

Yet, if you look at the actual content of the decision itself: no minarets. What’s the problem? Should secular people for some odd purpose be permitted to put up towers in towns or in the countryside; towers by their nature are an attempt to architecturally dominate an area.

One could argue back and say, ‘Ah yes, but what about existing and possible new Christian steeples?” Well certainly I would oppose building new ones, as for existing ones they are part of the heritage of the area; and nobody is trying to ‘wipe the slate clean’.

If I were Swiss I would have voted against the ban on account of the motives behind it, but as for the decision itself, I wouldn’t worry about it. In fact I would try to get a ban on all new towers put up for ‘ideological’ purposes, whether religious or secular.

Some political concepts defined non-academically

What is capitalism?

System where the means of production, distribution and exchange are largely in private hands and are used for profit. Such a system has huge impact on people and society (e.g. wealth and power distribution)

What is the working class?

All those people in the poorest two thirds of society who live largely or exclusively from their wages and who are engaged in production, distribution, exchange, R&D, education, and in state bureaucracy. Add on to that people who would be doing that (the unemployed and sick) and those who did (the retired).


What is the Left?

Advocates of a fundamental transfer of economic resources to the working class, (except perhaps lazy bastards and criminals)

Supports extension of civil liberties, personal freedoms and democratic political rights

Left right attitude table of attitudes in polarities

Internationalist: Nationalistic
Golden age in future: Golden age in past
Equality: Hierarchy
Reason: Intuition
Secular: Religious
Rights: Duties

5 January 2010

The Afghan war: an anavoidable lie

There is one lie that cannot be avoided.

Most people acquainted with the situation realise that British involvement in the war to back up the corrupt Afghan government has nothing to do with protecting Britain or promoting human rights abroad. The war is being fought to protect US face; America can’t be seen to fail.

Yet, when British soldiers die in this war, their grieving families and communities force themselves to believe that their sons (and occasionally daughters) gave their lives for Britain in a noble cause. It’s nonsense, of course, but pain rarely produces rationality.

Wootton Basset has become a symbol of that loss. The best course for progressive people is let what is in this small town be and get on with the campaign to get troops out of Afghanistan. What the idiot Choudary does, providing it’s within the law, should be just ignored.