The Rotting Fish

The problem with the politicians is that they are controlled by political correctness. The political establishment is determined to believe that Islam isn’t a stupid and violent ideology because many of those who practice Islam have brown skin.

To criticise some of the ridiculous and dangerous ideas in Islam – martyrdom, apostasy blah blah – is to criticise the beliefs of persons with brown skin. This is obviously racist.

Political correctness is killing us.

The attacks the Islamists launch will get worse and more frequent and more innocent humans will be murdered. The cowardly politicians, police, and local authorities in this country will blame everything from TV to fast-food and passing comets for the killers’ behaviour.

What these lunatics actually believe about the universe will never be the cause of their behaviour because the PC groupthink won’t allow it. Our “leaders” are not leaders.

This is the most terrifying quote I’ve ever heard about Islamist violence. It’s from Mr Obama, responding to the murder of James Foley by first refusing to accept that Islamic State is Islamic, and giving the world a beautiful example of the fish rotting from the head:

‘ISIL speaks for no religion… and no faith teaches people to massacre innocents. No just God would stand for what they did yesterday and what they do every single day. ISIL has no ideology of any value to human beings. Their ideology is bankrupt…. we will do everything that we can to protect our people and the timeless values that we stand for. May God bless and keep Jim’s memory. And may God bless the United States of America.’

It’s the stuff of nightmares…

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Conscience or Country: Pink Gins and the Long Game

 

Philip Knightley: Philby: KGB Master Spy

Miranda Carter: Anthony Blunt: His Lives

Ben Macintyre: Philby: A Spy Among friends

Kim Philby: My Silent War

 

One would have hoped that all branches of the British war effort against the Nazis would have been tightly organised and facing their respective fronts against Hitler effectively. If the elderly and patriotic could keep watch on rooftops each night for German planes the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) – otherwise and incorrectly known as MI6 – should have been able to manage a little order and focus within its ranks.

Incredible to learn that the SIS during the war years, was an exclusive gents’ club: the members of which had a penchant for pink-gins and long lunches at White’s. That any serious work was done seems an afterthought to justify the salary, and the salary – for Philby at least – was hit upon over a hand-shake and a wink. Six hundred a year and no bother from those chaps at the inland revenue. Got the gist, old-boy?

In short, the ‘service’ was a shambles: no ranking structure in place as such, no recognised pay-grades and no pension arrangements for retiring officers. This was not rectified until after the war, and Philby played his part in drawing up the new structure, but during the first half of the forties, planning and resources were not up to scratch.

Philby’s first posting was to a training school – newly formed – to teach hand-picked recruits in counter-espionage. Things were far from perfect. One horrific tale involves an agent, fresh out of training, being parachuted into territory over mainland Europe. His gear, quite inexplicably, became entangled in the plane’s undercarriage and he was ‘hurtled along, at mercifully high speed, into unconsciousness and death’.

What a way to go.

The most memorable tale from this period is also the most amusing. The Luftwaffe, for reasons best known to them, dropped a landmine over London and let it float slowly to the ground attached to a parachute. This was seen descending by Philby and his comrade, Guy Burgess. After cooking up a little mischief, Burgess called SIS and spoke to the duty officer, a chap busy fielding telegrams from stations all over the world. The hapless officer was told many parachutes were seen – ‘between eighty and none’ – and the necessary calls better be made swiftly. A reserve force stationed in East Anglia was mobilised on the strength of this jape.

Philby was an officer in – not just for – Soviet Intelligence for seven years before he was recruited into the SIS. He was a straightforward penetration agent from the beginning. One early adventure for the Soviets was spent in Spain working with Franco’s forces as a journalist for the London Times. This was a wash-job, insisted upon by the NKVD, to cleanse his name of the leftist allegiances he had made at Cambridge. It worked – or rather Philby worked it splendidly – because Franco himself gave Philby the ‘Medal of Merit’ for his right-wing efforts. By the time he was offered his six hundred a year, he had plenty of hours under his belt in deep-cover work.

With the end of the war came the re-structuring and recruitment. Occasionally, though, there was a morsel of something interesting to engage the brain. Called into the chief’s office and handed a file of papers, Philby was asked to read through and see what he made of it. It was almost the end of him.

Konstantin Volkov, a jittery fellow looking to defect to the West from Istanbul, had told our man in Turkey a few titbits to wet the British appetite. One little detail was the confirmation of three agents deep in the British establishment: two in the Foreign Office, the other, a senior of counter-espionage in the SIS – Philby himself!

He wrangled it to go to Turkey to interview this fellow, but before Philby got to him – something he had been delaying for obvious reasons – Mr Volkov was urgently spirited away back to Moscow. Neither Volkov or his wife were heard of again, and were removed from the stream of history. One can imagine Volkov and his wife begging to die.

Philby was a fanatic.

A few years abroad, not much more than mischief-making, were followed by a posting to Washington DC to forge closer ties between the SIS, CIA and FBI. One can only imagine the glee with which a master of his art approached a few years in the US while the country was in its paranoid McCarthy phase. Philby had coached a group of yanks who had come over during the war to learn the trade, and one of these chaps was James Jesus Angleton, a man who was to head the CIA later and was Philby’s friend. (Philby’s treachery sent old JJ half mad later in life.)

One may be forgiven for assuming that J. Edgar Hoover and McCarthy would have been on good and close terms, being as they were both obsessed with communists; but Hoover, at his first meeting with Philby, when asked directly what he thought of the Senator’s credentials, replied: ‘Well, I often meet Joe at the race-track, but he has never given me a winner yet.’ I am still wondering which is more surprising: that McCarthy was useless, or that Hoover could use metaphor to impart this knowledge to Philby.

Perhaps it is directly connected to the Americans’ surplus of money and men that incompetence and poor thinking about the enemy are imbedded into the DNA of the US hierarchies charged with finding their enemies? Whatever the answer, some amazingly poor thinking infected the Whitehouse as well. The Rosenbergs were caught, eventually, by leads uncovered by the SIS in Washington. Of this case, Philby mentions Eisenhower revealing his total ignorance of espionage:

It is worth mentioning that Esienhower explained his refusal to reprieve Ethel Rosenberg on the grounds that, if he did, the Russians in future would use only women spies. It was an attitude worthy of the most pedestrian of United States’ presidents.

It is frightening that a US president could believe that. Did he not have any advisers to put him straight before he went public with that stupid assertion?

Philby continued his work for and against Communism, eventually inviting Guy Burgess to stay with him after the latter’s posting to the US. It was here they both were forced to cook-up the plan to save their comrade, Donald Maclean.

Maclean was under surveillance and could not approach his Soviet handler for this reason. He was also in London; his two comrades, far away in the US capital, needed to get him to safety. Philby could not simply jet back to Britain, it would have looked too out of place; but Burgess, if he could get posted back to London, could use his own soviet contact to help Maclean. Within days Burges was pulled over for numerous speeding offences, much to the displeasure of his station and their American hosts, and sent packing back to London. The plan worked and Burges and Maclean did their famous midnight-flit. Burges wasn’t meant to go with Maclean. All knew he had lived with Philby in Washington, so that put him under immediate suspicion.

Philby was called back to London for interrogation, but no decent evidence existed against him. He was interrogated several times and gave nothing away. Eventually he resigned but was called back into service and spent time in Beirut before he was forced to make the trip home to Moscow. Possibly it was Anthony Blunt – at that time the unknown ‘fourth man’ – who tipped him off. However it seems more likely that Nicholas Elliot, a career MI6 man and friend of Kim’s, deliberately made it easy for Philby to defect from Beirut. A trial would have been a messy embarrassment: Philby had been publicly exonerated some years before, and the nod had come from the top, so having him up on charges would have been worse than having him turn up in Moscow.

Damage limitation, old-boy.

It is interesting that British spies fled to Russia only after being compromised; and did so to avoid prison terms of decades. Although the motivations of all are worth considering: the motivations of the British especially.

The question which many characters asked themselves – and this was especially true of Angleton and Elliot – was how did Philby manage to deceive so many for so long? This is a masochistic question. It can easily lead to a person’s psyche eating itself as it replays the past looking for clues, finding none, and ends with the person concluding they are lacking somehow or that Philby was some sort of genius. Philby was not a genius. Stories about his ‘charming character’, and how this helped to fool people is probably a sort of romantic excuse making for the inherent stupidity of the system which gave him a job and mindset of those within it. His deception was successful partly because the ‘establishment’ did a large part of the job for him. The old-boy network had a childish naïveté running through it. The belief that a man from the correct background was automatically a ‘good chap’ is an article of religious faith. One can only despair at Philby’s vetting. He was recruited into the SIS because the head pinstripe, Valentine Vivian, knew Philby’s people. It’s almost unbelievable that the security of the country was maintained in this way. That he was a communist at Cambridge and a soviet agent in Austria and Spain, and that he married that communist sex-pot, Litzi Friedman, should have raised an eyebrow somewhere in London’s clubland. That old Kim wasn’t filtered out before he got in is religious faith in action. This is the first reason Philby was successful. The second was his extraordinary good luck in not being exposed by a defector from the other side. The Volkov incident seems to be the only time this came close to happening. The stress must have been enormous, and it’s no surprise he was a boozer. No, the impressive thing about Philby is not the deception, it’s that he held his nerve.

To call Philby a fanatic is probably correct, and it’s the defectors who would have used his name as their buy-in to the West which suggests he was a fanatic. There was a reason they wanted out, and the Soviet spies risked their lives to pass their information to the West, while the likes of the Cambridge spies risked only prison and disgrace. The risk was unequal. The choice, between the West and the Soviet state, wasn’t simply a choice between two ideologies, where everything was a matter of taste, there were objective differences. Stalin’s regime was objectively wicked. It tortured and starved and murdered. It was an evil regime. The British and American governments, though hardly perfect or without blame in the world, ran things more generously for their citizens. Philby’s claim that he could support the ideal while not supporting the regime might be logical – such a thing is quite possible for a mind to do – but only a fanatic would help the regime. Philby could have looked at Stalin’s doings, and decided to keep Britain’s secrets to himself until a more realistic communist regime came on the scene. That he chose not to suggests he really wasn’t messing about. (Unlike Blunt, say, who seems to have been a Marxist and a spy because it was intellectually fashionable at the time.)

The Cambridge spies are called ‘traitors’ but one could argue it’s only really Blunt who deserves that title. Philby certainly doesn’t, and the argument why not is perfectly simple. It’s fair to say that, to label someone a traitor, they must have switched sides. That is hardly controversial, and actually seems to be necessary to avoid the disgusting idea of ‘automatic loyalty’ to a country or state, which is a servile idea and one to be avoided. One cannot claim that Philby switched sides because he was never on ‘our’ side to begin with. Even if many of the claims in his memoir are to be doubted, the claim he was a penetration agent from the beginning is obviously true given his doings before joining the SIS. The ‘establishment’ call him a traitor, and it’s that establishment he made look stupendously idiotic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Philip Knightley: Philby: KGB Master Spy

Miranda Carter: Anthony Blunt: His Lives

Ben Macintyre: Philby: A Spy Among friends

Kim Philby: My Silent War

Scooby Dooby Don’t

There will always be some humans who say they have ‘the right’ to take drugs. Perhaps they do. Perhaps they don’t. Which is it? One thing is certain, when a person claims ‘It’s my body, I can do what I like with it,’ there is a flaw in their reasoning.

Does the argument change when a person believes that they do not ‘have’ a body, rather they ‘are’ a body? Listening to some, it is clear the belief in the illusive ‘I’ is alive and well, and why not? The foregoing, when considered at length, can bring a chilly realisation…

One can see, straightaway, there will be (or should be) several other persons involved in our lives who would wish it that we take care of the body we have or are. My aunt is rapidly dying from lung-cancer and I would prefer that not to be the case.

If drug-taking is wrong, what makes it wrong? This is easier to answer if the drugs taken are illegal. One could find sanctuary within the walls of the law. But that’s far too easy, and dangerous. Who wants to be left holding the logic which states if something is legal it is morally right? Not me, thank you. Then again, who wants to argue drinking caffeine is morally wrong?

I am happy to be corrected here, though I remember reading that, on a chemical level, nicotine breaks down caffeine and a person recently free from cigarettes should also cut their coffee intake because without nicotine, the caffeine has a greater affect on their brains.

The affect might be greater irritability, insomnia or restless sleep – the affects of caffeine are well known, yet their affects are not considered a moral problem. Why not? Caffeine, the common name for trimethylxanthine, is a drug, a chemical a person freely ingests which has affects upon their brains they might not experience if they didn’t take it, yet it gets a free pass from any moral questioning.

That free pass could be because of the affects themselves. Ingest enough C8H10N4O2 and you might be less calm, but unlikely to be up for a spot of the old ultra-violence because of the mixture of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen you just ingested. We all consume chemicals which are unnecessary for survival, so if taking illegal drugs is wrong, I doubt it’s wrong because they’re illegal; taking them is wrong because of their affects and it’s the affects which make them illegal. It’s a small point, but it’s one which filters coffee and cola out of an argument they should not be in to begin with.

The moral questions come about, Peter Hitchens writes, when the affects of the drugs taken stupefy the taker into incoherence or dangerous behaviour they would not otherwise indulge in. This argument tends to bring up the question of alcohol. If booze is legal and is the cause of sickness, murder and other kinds of death – then why should certain drugs, especially cannabis, remain illegal?

Hitchens devotes chapter seven to this question, ‘What about alcohol and tobacco, then?’  He points out that this question is one of the key parts of the debate and states (with dry humour)

‘Once a substance is legalised, it is extremely difficult to declare that it is illegal. That is why we should be so careful about legalising cannabis and other currently illegal drugs. If this turns out to be a mistake, it will not be easily put right.’

Who says Hitchens has no sense of humour? He obviously does. Next he’ll be telling us that ‘alcohol, taken in sufficient quantities, has been known to produce all the effects of drunkenness.’

It is to his credit that he uses humour this way. It might be a sign his arguments are so obviously sound that he can afford to inject a little humour here and there. A person could be forgiven for expecting a sermon or a bossy lecture from the chap. No doubt Hitchens is capable of that, but he doesn’t do it in this book.

There are other examples of his dry humour. On the question that a person has the right to do what they want to the body they either have or are, because doing so is a fundamental freedom, closely allied with freedom of speech and freedom of thought, he states

‘I realise that in our secular society, an appeal to the authority of Mount Sinai or the Holy Trinity is not likely to be decisive.’

Superb. He continues from humour to seriousness

‘It is perhaps hard to see how anyone who valued either speech or thought should wish to spread the use of a drug that fuddles thought and makes speech halting and incoherent, but it is so.’

That is a fair example of the book’s tone or style. You get simple, logical arguments, offered using plain English as their delivery system. Splendid.

Another example, after quoting several cases of cannabis users committing violent or mindless crimes – and to refute the idea that the drug ‘chills out’ (my phrase) its users, he says

‘I am making no claim here beyond these modest points: if cannabis is a peace-promoting drug then its effects are not always evident in its users.’

Well, quite. My eldest son has been far too fond of cannabis for some years and his behaviour when smoking the stuff is upsetting. He can be obnoxious, paranoid, needlessly argumentative, downright abusive and sometimes violent. During the periods he doesn’t smoke the garbage his behaviour is significantly different. Nothing else he ingests seems to have this effect on him. Without the example of my eldest son I might well shrug my shoulders and fall-in with the crowd who make the ‘what about alcohol?’ point, but I cannot. And I know my son’s mother has, many times, been anxious that he stop smoking it. My interest is declared.

I have never been fond of this country’s political class, at any level, from Westminster to ‘my’ local councillors. It is my belief they are – all of them – entitled to no privacy whatsoever and every aspect of their lives is a legitimate target for public scrutiny and press intrusion.

I should like to know what they do, where they do it and with whom, and how much of my money they spend doing it. (I have a good friend, a psychiatric nurse based in Cardiff, who told me he and his colleagues had been out on the town, more than once, on ward funds. Another friend, a finance officer in a school told me that, many times, school funds had been used to throw leaving parties for teachers and to buy presents for them and so on. Hardly is this Watergate, but it is significantly irritating.) Yet those politicians who are (possibly) not corrupt in that sense – don’t feather their own nests – but ‘tinker’ with the laws and carry out their social experiments on the rest of us, are perhaps worse than the politician who rakes off a few quid. Some of the characters within Hitchens’s pages – and not all of them politicians – are guilty of poisoning society in a sense. They might not have meant to do it, yet that says nothing about what they actually did do. You’ll have to read the book yourself.

The next time (if there is a next time because he seems to have sorted his life out at the moment) my eldest son punches holes in a bedroom door while his younger brother and sister are watching, I might invoice Paul Mcartney for the repair.

The Voldermort Effect

I have just looked at Facebook for the first time today. There are dozens of persons I know changing their profile pictures by adding a filter in the colours of the French flag. I wonder about some people.

Changing your profile picture, and spouting all this ‘je suis’ nonsense doesn’t make the slightest fucking difference to anything. Why do they do it? Does it make them feel better?

Watch what follows the Paris horror. If it is confirmed that ISIS is behind the attacks, or that some other group of Islamic fanatics, then there will be an army of commentators, journalists, pundits and assorted ‘experts’ rushing to tell the rest of us how the religious beliefs of the killers had nothing to do with their behaviour. Some will just say it, repeating the ‘Islam is a religion of peace’ line to pretend they are knowledgeable on the subject, the BBC will probably be more subtle.

(Many presenters on BBC news programs refer to Islamic State as the ‘so-called’ Islamic State. It’s a subtle way of suggesting Islamic State is not Islamic, which is a bit weird given that Islamic State is the name it gave itself. The first thing to believe about ISIS is that they know what they believe.)

This denial will happen because political correctness has decided criticising Islam – the doctrines, ideas and so on – is the same thing as criticising muslims. It isn’t.

ISIS probably laugh themselves to sleep each night at the effort the politically correct media establishment go to to avoid stating the bloody obvious.

Many people have seen Ben Affleck make this mistake (and an idiot of himself) on the Bill Maher show.

Sam Harris is one of the bravest voices on this topic.

In May 2014 he wrote this:

“Most liberals think that religion is never the true source of a person’s bad behavior. Even when jihadists explicitly state their religious motivations—they believe that they have an obligation to kill apostates and blasphemers, and they want to get into Paradise—liberal academics, journalists, and politicians insist on looking for deeper reasons for their actions. However, when people give economic, political, or psychological reasons for doing whatever it is they do, everyone accepts those reasons at face value. If a man murders his neighbor because he wants to steal his property and doesn’t want to leave a witness, everyone accepts the killer’s account of his actions. But when he says, as every jihadist does, that he was driven by a sense of religious obligation and a yearning for Paradise, liberals insist that the search for an underlying motive must continue. So the game is rigged. If you’re always going to look beneath a person’s religious convictions for something else, of course you’ll never see that religion is an important driver of human behavior.”

http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/lifting-the-veil-of-islamophobia

That describes the situation perfectly. After Charlie Hebdo I lost count of the number of journalists who went into full-on denial mode. Max Hastings suggested boredom, and a desire for adventure, might play a part in this kind of murderous behaviour.

Piers Morgan was woeful after Hebdo. He typed this:

“This is war. Let’s not pussy-foot around the terminology here when it comes to analyzing the sickening events in Paris over the last 48 hours.But it’s not a religious war, as the cowardly, murderous thugs carrying out these atrocities would have us believe.These terrorists are not ‘real’ Muslims. In fact, they slaughter Muslims as much if not more than they slaughter everyone else.One of their two police officer victims in the attack on Charlie Hebdo’s offices was a Muslim.The events in Paris over the last few days, after a few extremists thugs carried out atrocious attacks, have been sickening to watch. On the same day, Al Qaeda car-bombed a police college in Yemen – killing over 40 people, all believed to be Muslims, many of them students.And lest we forget, several dozen innocent Muslims died in the twin towers on 9/11 including a pregnant woman. So forget all the garbage about these lunatics representing Muslims. They don’t.”

A muslim who murders a muslim is not a real muslim? Sunni versus Shia? Notice also that Morgan changes his mind. He starts off claiming the Paris killers were not ‘real’ muslims and concludes by saying these killers don’t “represent” muslims. The initial idea seems to have vanished.

Morgan then continued to suggest there is nothing bad in the Koran.

“As my former CNN colleague Fareed Zakaria pointed out today, draconian punishment for blasphemy, including in many cases death, has been created in law by Muslim nations intent on suppressing their people. So when these barbaric assassins scream that they are ‘avenging the Prophet’, they’re doing nothing of the sort. They’re just using him as an excuse to commit murder. It’s a sickening deceit.”

Look at the first two sentences and ask yourself how does the second follow from the first? Morgan’s argument is a sort of Chewbacca-defence non sequitur. One could ask a question or two, here. Why are ‘Muslim nations’ intent on ‘suppressing their people”? Where does the motivation for this come from? If the killers are not ‘avenging the Prophet’ as Morgan puts it, then what is their motivation?

Morgan kept going:

“All they care about is spewing their hateful rhetoric and violence as chaotically as possible, preying on the impressionable vulnerability of many disenfranchised young Muslims who live, for the main, in poverty and hopelessness.”

What disgusting thing to say. Could he be more insulting? Young Muslims, because they live mainly in poverty and hoplessness, are easily brought to killing because of economic or political conditions? I wonder who would be to blame for those conditions? This is a disguised version of the vile idea of blaming the victims and everything is the fault of the decadent west. Goodness me, he’s trying so hard not to say anything “offensive.” But yet – and how shall I put this? – could those conditions be connected to the intent to suppress he has cheerily already blamed ‘muslim countries’ for? He doesn’t say, but he’s conceded, without realising it, that ‘Muslim nations’ are intent on suppressing their own people. What motivates these nations? Might it be the same or similar motivation that motivates individual Islamic terrorists?

“My own faith’s leader, the Pope, was lampooned far more regularly and wickedly than the Prophet Mohammad ever was. Yet I didn’t see Roman Catholics storming to Paris to kill everyone involved in mocking him. Why should one religion be afforded special rights to being offended? In the end, it comes down to this: killing someone for drawing an offensive cartoon is infinitely more offensive than any cartoon could possibly be.”

Four sentences. Examine them. 1. The muslims are over-reacting. 2. The muslims are over-reacting. 3. Good question. Then 4. He suggests the Hebdo cartoons (for what other cartoons is he talking about if not the Hebdo ones) could be offensive, thus granting the reason claimed by muslims for murdering blashphemers, ‘offence,’ exists: therefore they have a reason for what they do. All he does is says his own crowd, the papists, didn’t kill anyone so why should the muslims be allowed to? Why didn’t he say, for instance, ‘killing someone for drawing an offensive cartoon is always unacceptable’? His position is actually creepy when you consider what a person would have to think before they could write what he wrote.

Even Peter Hitchens was feeble on the Hebdo killings.

Peter Hitchens suggested that the two Hebdo killers were lying when they shouted they had avenged the prophet and so on.

He said

Why should such people be assumed to be telling the truth about themselves, in the middle of a crime?

Should we assume they are lying? What Hitchens is doing is hiding a suggestion inside a question. He’s ‘planting the idea’ – Derren Brown style – that the killers were not really religious. It’s the same snide use of language the BBC use with their ‘so-called’ formulation.

So watch what happens now. While the proles and the rubes put filters on their profile pictures on Farcebook, the papers and news programs will tell us how peaceful a religion Islam is, and Sam Harris in the US and Douglas Murray in the UK, will be kept out of the mainstream broadcasts.

This is almost funny.

Islamic fanatics are a threat to civilisation, though a threat which can be faced and defeated. What political correctness does is prevents us from saying what the real problem is – the doctrines of Islam. If politicians and journalists are too scared to put this message out to the proles, and start to delete the psychological PC software, then we’re all screwed.

You can’t defeat an enemy you refuse to believe exists. Maajid Nawaz, who has just published a book about this with Sam Harris, calls this the ‘Voldermort effect.’

The Invisible Pharaoh

I wrote recently about Capital Punishment – a practice I despise. Since then I’ve begun a ‘discussion’ with a person on another site about the topic. He supports the practice, and would like to see it introduced back into British society.

The discussion wouldn’t be worth having if the person wasn’t an atheist. It’s his claim to be an atheist which makes his support for the death penalty – or religious human sacrifice – strange.

I have tried to explain to him how, if he supports the practice, he is a religious person without realising it. He doesn’t understand this.

This seems obvious to me, and I assumed his ‘this makes no sense to me’ posturing was just that, but perhaps he really doesn’t understand?

I’m going to set out how it is a person who supports the death penalty is, whether they say they are an atheist or not, a religious person.

The State can take your possessions and can even take you from your home and place you somewhere you do not wish to be. This won’t always involve a ‘fair trial.’ The state has a great deal of power over the citizen. Much of this power is latent.

What can one person do about this? There’s not much. If a person wanted to try to attack or weaken the power of the state they would be advised to try intellectual, not physical, attempts.

A person has more intellectual freedom than they do physical freedom. This is to get to the point: how much intellectual freedom does a person have in Britain?

The answer depends on the person.

Many of us consider our ‘nationality’ part of our identity. Many of us are ‘proud’ to be British. This expression – ‘proud to be British’ – should make us suspicious about the minds of the persons who use it. The idea a person could (never mind ‘should’) feel ‘proud’ about a thing which was not an achievement of theirs should immediately demonstrate the fatuousness of the expression. But different states around the world encourage the patriotic impulse with regular booster-jabs like the World Cups for different sports and the Olympics.

Patriotism, at best, is irrational.

In accepting the patriotic line (and who gets a choice?) the person is baptised in the first religion they’ll meet: The Order of the Holy Patriot, and without knowing it, the person has given up some of their intellectual freedom by accepting the patriotic line. The majority of persons are not intellectually free, but don’t realise it; and many don’t want to think for themselves because of what thinking for yourself actually means.

We all like to think we think for ourselves, but most of us don’t. Thinking for yourself means giving up illusions, and some of us cling to them like an infant clings to a comfort blanket.

The first illusion to go should be the idea of a heavenly father – He who will save us from death. There is (almost) certainly no survival of death, and no loving supernatural being looking over us all. We need to get over it.

The idea of loyalty to a state, or a flag, should be next to go. Different emblems and symbols and national ‘anthems’ – which can sometimes reduce otherwise intelligent humans to tears – should be seen for what they are: pieces of manipulative theatre and an insult to the intelligence.

The loyalties persons should have should be between family and friends (if they deserve it) and aspects of culture. A person should side with the ideas of freedom of speech and expression; freedom of enquiry; freedom of assembly; a person should defend the disciplines of science and philosophy, and should place truth above ‘feelings.’

Pieces of cloth with colours on them and tinny fucking tunes should be given the disrespect they deserve.

But I digress.

The religiosity of Capital Punishment comes from surrendering part of your mind to something outside itself, in this case, the state.

Once a person allows the state the ultimate power over the citizen, then the citizen has surrendered a fraction of their reasoning power to the state. Even if the citizen wants capital punishment for murder only, then it’s too late – the concession has been made.

The State, by default, is given ‘higher-power’ status because now, there are matters above and beyond the human’s need to reason: thinking has been deferred above and beyond, upwards, to the State – the God replacement.

The point here is actually simple: all a person has to do, to be a true atheist, is to reject the Hobbesian idea of Political Obligation.

But that involves placing a huge burden upon yourself: the burden which comes from thinking for yourself.

The amount of intellectual freedom you have will be exactly the amount you demand for yourself.

A Sword in the Hand

…satisfy your blood lust, and tell yourself you were good to the victim because blood atonement remitted the sin. You gave the fellow a chance to get to the hereafter, after all. This business of living for eternity certainly contributed to capital punishment, brutality and war.

– Norman Mailer

The Executioner’s Song

It is easy to make arguments from emotion, that should be remembered; but to begin, a person should decide which side they are on, and this is the question they should answer to decide their side.

Do you think it is better to have societal norms, rules and laws based on reason, logic and utility, with all three anchored to the assumption that excessive power over the citizen by the state is axiomatically bad, or do you think what a just society needs to function, and function at its best, are laws and practices which are based on the human animal’s base nature, and which in turn, therefore, allow the state to have the ultimate power over the citizen?

Or, to put the same point another way, do you prefer liberty or security?

To condense the two positions on capital punishment down to a choice between two words is not to attempt a simplification of the topic; it’s just to state that such a reduction can be done. When an argument is followed right to its bedrock, there’s usually not much more than a word or short phrase at the bottom. The entire Christian position can be reduced to Idealist, for instance, and that is what is waiting for the supporter of capital punishment; or, to give the death penalty its real name: Religious Human Sacrifice.

Liberty and Security are like the two ends of the playground see-saw, when one is up, the other is always down. The more you have of one, the less you have of the other. To say your preference is for equal weights of both is to reveal you don’t care much, or know much, about human nature – or the nature of the human.

There are examples from history and literature which suggest that humans, when in possession of power, position and authority over other humans, sometimes use it in a way which doesn’t always benefit the majority. There are many examples from history and literature of the State making and passing laws which benefit and protect it, not the citizen.

(That the State is made up of humans makes this a fascinating thing to consider. Why would a single person, or a small group of persons, make decisions which benefit the whole state, even while they know that under certain circumstances, they could suffer under the very rules or legislation they are proposing? Perhaps these drops of lubricant in the machine are truly selfless, or perhaps bureaucracy has a way of bringing out the inner sadist from a person?)

This might not worry the person who values security over liberty, because such a person’s mind has not enough live wires to be worried to begin with. I have no compunction in smearing or insulting the supporter of capital punishment. I actually enjoy doing so because their position is a contemptible one.

The supporter of capital punishment is the enemy of liberty.

There’s a scene I want you to create in your mind and it will be mentioned later. I want you to imagine you are walking back to your car, and you take a shortcut through an alley. In that alley you find the body of a child. The child has, obviously, met a violent end: the head is bashed and smashed; there are bits of blood, skull and brain splattered on the walls. Lying next to the body is a hammer with bloody fingerprints on the handle, and you see bloody footprints leading away from the scene.

Let’s say the child is a ten year old girl.

Do you think any wrong has been done to the little girl? You think yes? I’d guess most people would.

Now here’s the thing: anyone who thinks that the little girl has had wrong done to her should not support capital punishment.

Now I know that might sound odd. It seems obvious that the person who bashed her head in deserves to swing, but I’m afraid things are not as simple as they seem, and the arguments for and against capital punishment are not as simple as the simple feel they are.

Leave that scenario in the back of your mind while we flash-forward in hypothetical time and create another scenario.

You’re watching the evening news and the story comes on about the person accused of killing that child. It’s the story that’s been all over the news recently. The cameras have captured the following: the convicted is making his way to court for sentencing, and a crowd has gathered, waiting just for this moment. They cannot put hands the guilty, and lucky for him, because he is locked safely in the armoured police-van which drives slowly through that crowd.

The persons gathered shout and scream at the van, some throw things, some spit at it and some rock it in an attempt to tip it over, before the officers pull the mob from the vehicle and it drives through.

Then we cut to a shot from on high, where the handcuffed child-killer is lead from the rear of the van into the building. Next we’ll be shown an artist’s colour-pencil sketch of the beast in the dock, and we’ll be told he spoke only to confirm his name, and some other details, and we’ll be told what the judge had to say as he passed sentence. Usually at this point we cut to the reporter whose voice has been heard over the pictures: she will be standing outside the court, microphone in hand, having a chat with the news presenter in the studio.

Whatever is said the by reporter or the presenter, the behaviour of the crowd won’t be condemned. If it’s mentioned at all it will be to offer the banal observation that feelings were ‘running high.’

I wonder what number of us, watching such a thing in our homes, secretly wishes the mob could gain access to the vehicle, and get at the killer? And I wonder what might happen if such a thing occurred?

Perhaps one of the mob would drive the vehicle to waste ground, where the guilty could be taken to task, and some collective need in the mob could be satisfied while the helicopter cameras captured the celebration in high definition?

What is that need or urge which drives the mob to picket the court, waiting for the guilty? What motivates the van rocking mob? What do they want?

Their behaviour could be described as odd, possibly stupid, because they know their missiles – their eggs and rocks – won’t penetrate the armoured vehicle, they will never get at the man inside. One can’t help but wonder why they bother.

The explanation needs to be that the spitting and throwing things, and trying to tip the van over, are not considered actions but a spontaneous expression of rage. That would make some sense. But consider the behaviour of the crowd before the police van shows up. The crowd is still a crowd at this point, not yet a mob, and we’re meant to believe they turned feral at the site of a vehicle they could never gain access to? What next, try to tip the building over because the guilty is in there?

No, the mob’s behaviour upon the arrival of the police van is a considered action, certainly not ‘spontaneous’ and the reporter is right in a sense, feelings are running high. Years ago, there might be some point in forming a mob and going after a suspect, flaming torches in one hand, bible in the other, while others in the mob ran with dogs straining at the lead. That made some sense because there was a chance they could catch the suspect and lynch him. The mob around the police van can’t do that – they know they can’t, therefore their behaviour is posturing and an expression of vanity.

The mob believe that they are safe to show this side of human nature, not only to each other but to the cameras, because the crime, the murder of the child, is vile enough that the normal standards of conduct don’t apply, and they have numbers on their side if you disagree. The options with such a running mob are to join in or step aside; trying to reason with them is a waste of time, trying to stop them is dangerous.

That humans can be violent when emotional is not interesting, but it is interesting to consider the lynch-mob mentality, and to conclude that it takes not so much to bring that part of the character of the human animal to the surface.

The argument about capital punishment usually begins with the supporter arguing for deterrence and the opposer claiming execution of the innocent is the unanswerable position. Both are the first arguments either side deploys. When my side of the house – the side which believes in liberty over security – mentions the innocent it’s common for the supporter to play the ‘accident’ card.

‘Yes,’ they say, ‘an innocent person executed is a terrible thing, but terrible things happen all the time, should we reject or abolish everything which causes accidental deaths? We’d have to abolish cars and planes and all sorts of things.’

But of course such a person is being slippery. They are suggesting an accidental death is equivalent to a deliberate death, which it isn’t and they’re missing the point into the bargain.

No person sacrificed by the State is killed by accident. No prisoner ever walked along their landing, tripped, fell into a noose and got hanged.

Every execution is a deliberate act.

The argument about an innocent person executed is airtight; it cannot be met by anything from the other side. In addition there is no answer to the charge that, by executing the innocent, you have by default freed the guilty – so it’s a double outrage.

But arguments from ‘body-count’ miss the point, too. The enlightened side of the house reject the idea of capital punishment; reject the idea that the state can have this power over the citizen; and contend that, when the capital punishment option is retained, the state has too much power over the citizen by definition, and the relationship between the two is ultimately totalitarian in practice and religious in theory (which just means totalitarian in theory, too.)

Often the supporter will cling to the idea of deterrence and not be swayed by logic. In a debate, formal discussion or even just a conversation, there are some things a person should not do. They should not claim something is true when they don’t know it is, and they should not claim something is true if they can’t know. This is the problem with deterrence. The only thing which can be known is that capital punishment is not 100% effective as a deterrent. There’s no way to calculate what number of persons have been deterred from doing something. It is not known if capital punishment is a deterrent: its supporters just claim it is because they think it’s a safe claim. But how can a claim for something be safe when those supporters can’t know if it’s true?

If state-backed religious human sacrifice was an effective deterrent then this suggest that there wouldn’t be murders within jurisdictions which had human sacrifice as the punishment for a qualifying crime. But there are plenty of murders within jurisdictions such as these and always have been. This suggests human sacrifice is not a deterrent, and it’s probably not because most murders are not carried out in ice-man assassins. The majority of murders are emotional acts driven by money and sex and jealousy and other base drivers.

There are many positions taken by those who support religious human sacrifice. They talk about justice for the victim without considering that the victim can’t receive justice because the victim is dead and can’t receive anything. They then change their minds and claim and they want justice for the family of the victim. Bereavement requires justice, but not when the killer’s family are bereaved. For some reason they don’t count.

They argue that the cost of keeping murderers locked up is too high and executing them saves the tax-payer money. This argument is one of my favourites. It is simultaneously the stupidest and most dishonest argument:

Imagine two cells next to each other. In one is a murderer, serving twenty years, in the other is a non-murderer serving twenty years. Now consider the argument is supposed to be about the saving the tax payer money. Do I need to explain further?

Another stupid argument, one which leads to hilarious (and unintended) consequences for the death penalty supporter, is the argument from mercy. This argument claims that because decades in prison are a cruel, sadistic and barbaric punishment, the death penalty is justified because it is kinder to the murderer.

This is an absurd argument just on the surface of it. It leaves the supporter of human sacrifice arguing for punishment and mercy at the same time. But things get worse. There is a way to check if the person who makes this ‘argument’ actually means it. They should be asked if they would extend this ‘mercy’ to the terminally ill. Many Christians and Conservatives reject the idea of ‘mercy killing.’

Death is either a mercy or a punishment to be inflicted: if the former, then why don’t the terminally ill qualify? If the latter, then how can it be merciful to begin with?

If the supporter claims that, yes, the terminally do qualify, are they not punishing the terminally ill if death is a punishment?

This nonsense argument is taken by supporters of human sacrifice because they are attempting to hide their real views under the veneer of intellectual compassion. They make themselves look extraordinarily stupid when they do this. This is what happens when paw-licking vanity and self-denial is valued more than intellectual honesty.

For most, the real motivation for their support of human sacrifice is no more than an emotional jerk of the knee. They imagine how they would feel if a person killed a member of their family. Then, feeling these unpleasant feelings, argue that human sacrifice is acceptable.

There are some, however, who support religious human sacrifice and who actually understand what they are talking about. I’ll mention these persons later.

For the moment I’ll just put the basic argument against the death penalty which seems to me to be quite hard to refute.

The argument goes like this:

Capital punishment is always wrong because we can never know if the victim’s life was of sufficient value to justify executing the killer.

It cannot be denied that value judgements underpin the crime / punishment question. If a person is convicted of stealing a packet of biscuits from a shop they would not be given the death penalty for this. (Not in our European culture, that is.)

That punishment wouldn’t ‘fit’ the crime. The value judgements we make about fitting punishments are mysterious in their origin, but we certainly make them.

(It doesn’t matter that Islamic State will execute you for being homosexual. A lack of proportion doesn’t mean a value judgement hasn’t been made.)

But staying within our enlightened culture, we tend only to hear arguments for capital punishment for the crime of murder. I’ve never heard even the most reactionary, the most crusty and dusty conservative, argue for capital punishment for anything other than murder. And, curiously, that is a problem for their argument. (Islamic State doesn’t have the following problem because they’d kill you for pretty much anything.)

When a person argues the death penalty should be imposed only for the crime of murder, they instantly grant that human life has a unique value or worth. Human life, on their account, has a special status and the only way justice ‘can be done’ is to take from the killer what they took from their victim.

(The meme ‘a life for a life’ is popular, but the memes, ‘a rape for a rape,’ and ‘a punch in the face for a punch in the face’ haven’t caught on quite as well.)

Smarter supporters of human sacrifice will try to claim that value judgements have nothing to do with the calibration between crime and punishment, and how we decide that x deserves y or it doesn’t. I understand why the smarter supporters will try to avoid the concession that value judgements are what we use, because immediately they know that value judgements are subjective: there’s no over-arching objective standard we can all agree on. And it’s that fact which underpins my argument: how do we know the victim lost anything of sufficient worth to justify executing their killer?

Who says?

This is where the dead little girl in the alley comes in.

If you think value judgements have nothing to do with deciding what’s right or wrong, you are left with the conclusion that nothing ‘wrong’ has been done to the little girl in the alley. Until a trial has happened and evidence has been heard; until a jury has reached a verdict and ‘justice has been done’ the girl in the alley, to you, is no more than rearranged organic material.

So value judgments can’t be denied (or avoided) and it’s that underpinning subjectivity which makes capital punishment wrong because – and allow me to repeat it – who says the killer lost anything of sufficient worth to justify executing their killer?

Who says?

There’s more to the opposition to religious human sacrifice than the inescapable impossibility of justifying it.

Which supporter of human sacrifice doesn’t want to punish murderers?

Those who argue in favour of capital punishment want murderers to be punished (except the ‘mercy merchants,’ that is.) It is odd, then, that they argue for the thing which makes punishment impossible: death.

A dead person cannot receive punishment for the same reason a dead person cannot receive justice. They are dead. They cannot receive anything.

The supporter, without realising it, is arguing for the incarcerated murderer’s punishment to come to an end. Why they do this I don’t know.

There is no escape for the supporter of human sacrifice by saying that, they know the dead person can’t receive punishment, that’s not the point, (and who ever said it was!) they want the murderer to feel the fear and stress as their execution date approaches, and then the fear and stress on the day itself and so on. This makes some sense – but not much. If that’s the case then the murderer need only be subjected to mock-execution – but would the supporter of capital punishment want that?

I think not.

Once this point has been made then the supporter should see what they really are arguing for is a form of torture where the victim suffers not the ‘death penalty’ but the ‘punishment penalty’ where the victim is punished to death.

You can make a person dead by punishing them, but you cannot punish them after making them dead.

As I said, there are persons who understand what they are arguing for: they understand that the arguments in favour of religious human sacrifice require a belief in the afterlife to make even the slightest sense – and they really require a belief in God. As someone once said, this business of living for eternity contributes to capital punishment.

What’s odd is that, on atheism, a belief in God is required for the arguments in favour of religious human sacrifice to make sense, but that means, to make sense to an atheist.

There’s a dizzying, circular paradox at the heart of the human sacrifice question.

If the person making the case for human sacrifice believes in God then it’s them who should be the first to argue against capital punishment.

Assuming a Christian worldview for the sake of argument: what happens to the soul of the murder victim? Where does it go?

Let’s say the victim is the little girl in the alley.

Someone as innocent as a little ten year old girl is, on the Christian worldview, going to spend eternity with God in heaven.

Let’s put it another way: on that Christian worldview, by murdering her, the killer has delivered his victim to the greatest possible bliss imaginable.

And for this he should be punished?

It’s too easy to support capital punishment. When something is so easy to support a person should become immediately suspicious and begin questioning their motives, and asking questions about the motivations of others.

It’s only when we begin to question our beliefs, and the motivations we have for them, does the conversation become interesting.

Image result for gary gilmore

The Ten O’clock People

That Jeremy Corbyn has been elected to lead the Labour party is certainly news in itself, but is made more interesting by the mass front-bench resignations.

This synchronised move is shocking because it’s the elite showing open contempt for the party members who voted for Corbyn, and also for the party they are supposed to be loyal members of. Why can’t these persons respect the decision of the party and serve under the democratically elected leader?

In trying to smear Corbyn as being so extreme they can’t work with the man, they are publicly displaying their real selves – something they usually keep hidden.

It’s a situation the ‘mainstream’ media are complicit in. If there’s any ‘outrage’ at the behaviour of the front-bench quitters then I’ve missed it, but it was, apparently, a ‘disgrace’ that Corbyn didn’t button-up his shirt’s top button.

What I’m interested in is how long it will take the Establishment to get rid of him?

Corbyn is going to be smeared by members of his own party and much of the press – but he might have the BBC on his side because they love a lefty at the BBC. Radio Four’s Today programme could do away with it’s absurd ‘Thought for the Day’ and replace it with ‘Corbyn Corner’ where some lefty wisdom is spewed to the proles and the rubes each morning. This would make the Today programme at least honest.

(That programme is saturated in political correctness and won’t even call Islamic State by its name; it qualifies by referring to IS as ‘the so-called Islamic State.’)

And now Corbyn has done his first PMQs and though he didn’t make himself look like an idiot, he hardly bestowed ‘live-wire’ status on himself.

Is it worth a prediction?

We’ll have a few months of a dull man playing on the ‘keeping it simple’ in the ‘no spin zone’ line, and eventually the media will have smeared and slagged him enough that one of his bakcbenchers can justify challenging for the leadership without the public being outraged because the public will have swallowed the media’s propaganda. It’ll take a little time, but it’ll happen.