Thursday, 6 May 2010

UK General Election 2010 Live Blog

by Charles Pooter

Join us here at some point after 10 PM tonight for a temporary drunken revival of the blog in honour of the last general election before the UK burns like Greece.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Quote Of The Day

by Charles Pooter

"I've been dreaming of a time when the English are sick to death of Labour, and Tories."

- Morrissey, Irish Blood, English Heart

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Frankie Boyle, Mock the Week and True Freedom

by Charles Pooter

Mock the Week is a comedy panel show broadcast by the BBC. Frankie Boyle is its most successful protagonist.

Nick Cohen is a leftist neo-conservative commentator. He published an article criticising Mock the Week and Frankie Boyle.

Johnathan Pearce is a libertarian commentator who writes for the blog Samizdata. He agrees with Cohen.

Cohen's article is clearly a cultural polemic, but as is usual with the output of most British political commentators, it mixes up various issues and befuddles the mind. But if we get down to brass tacks, sometimes even trivial matters can illuminate fundamental principles, and allow for arguments about political strategy:

Principle

First the question of whether Mock the Week and Frankie Boyle's jokes should be permitted without prior censorship or subsequent official censure.

Libertarians of all stripes must defend the right of anyone to say anything. This includes attacks on the aged and Frankie Boyle's jokes about the monarch's vagina. This is a libertarian principle.

Strategy

In a free society, frankly, Frankie could say what he liked on TV. He would only be restricted by the tastes of his subscribers, the norms of his worker's cooperative or the tolerance of his advertisers. Who could argue? But we don't live in a free society and Mock the Week is broadcast on the BBC, which is funded via coercion. Libertarians are against coercion. Therefore some libertarians take every opportunity to attack BBC content that they think the majority finds objectionable. This will undermine the BBC and perhaps hasten its demise. This is especially easy for some libertarians who find much content that offends their own conservative cultural sensibilities. This is short-sighted and opportunist. I'm not accusing Pearce of this strategy but many British libertarians do take every opportunity to attack the BBC.

I believe that more thoughtful libertarians should be against the abolition of the BBC and its tax in isolation from a wider resurgence in freedom and personal responsibility. In the same way that I think it would be madness (impossible in fact) for a Libertarian-labelled government to legalise private ownership of automatic weapons without a massive accompanying resurgence in personal responsibility, I also think it would be a bad thing if a Libertarian-labelled government destroyed the BBC without also examining the statist means by which its globalist replacements would dominate the marketplace.

Things brings us to core libertarian strategy. Is is obvious such an examination of statist assumptions would not occur after any election of a Libertarian-labelled government. Such a government would sell of the spectrum to a few favoured corporations who would flood the broadcast spectrum with a narrow range of dumbed-down programming aimed at garnering the most advertising and subscription revenue. This would not be a free market, but the cartelised market we see in almost all other areas of life which are supposedly free.

To get a true freed market in broadcasting, fundamental issues such as the corporate form, "intellectual property", ownership of the electro-magnetic spectrum, assumptions about Lockean property rights and ownership of unoccupied land would have to be examined. Like any true re-institution of liberty, this will only ever happen via a blossoming of true freedom from the ground up. A new society built within the shell of the old. It will never happen via statist elections, which at best will prevent capitalism from collapsing and allow us all to live in a very efficiently run prison camp, albeit a prison camp with many electronic Chinese toys to play with.

So, do I want any government, including one labelled as libertarian, to abolish the BBC? Do I even want the election of a libertarian-labelled government? No, because this will strengthen the corporate mono-culture and postpone the flowering of a truly free society. Such an eventuality in fact will probably strengthen those on the left who have always said that libertarianism was about unrestrained corporate greed. Perhaps with the election of such a Government, they will be right. And so, inescapably, the political barometer will swing back towards the only known alternative: state socialism. I hope I am wrong, but I think it likely that the green shoots of true freedom will only sprout after an almost total collapse of the current corporate-capitalist system.

So, what of the output of the BBC in society as it is, Mock the Week and our friend Frankie Boyle? These things can only be judged subjectively in line with one's cultural intuitions. Conservative pundits like Peter Hitchens think that the BBC is hugely biased towards the beliefs of North London cosmopolitans. Many leftists think the BBCs output is at core always loyal to establishment forces. These biases are not necessarily contradictory. Given its isolation from market forces, the BBC's output will be largely decided by the prejudices of its staff and their assumptions about what is good and what the public wants. This gives scope for its enemies to see bias everywhere they look. Its output will also be steered slightly by the successful output of its rivals, but the BBC is so dominant that it can often set the agenda and tone in many areas. There's not much one can do about any of this except to spread correct ideas about politics and freedom and hope they eventually become so pervasive as to be reflected by the BBC. This is not something that would even be possible if the BBC were to be replaced with globalist corporations. Ultimately, if liberty wins, the BBC will become a free institution or it will cease to exist.

As for Mock the Week, I find it an improvement on those BBC comedy shows hosted by aging baby boomers, continually reliving their student days, with their tedious leftist invective and unfunny outdated satire. Frankie Boyle is offensive, vulgar and makes light of some of the worst aspects of human nature. He is also very funny. As a comedian, he has no responsibility to be anything else.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Happy St George's Day

by Charles Pooter

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Against Torture and Against Torturers

by Charles Pooter

Waterboarding is torture. This is undeniable. If you have tortured, you have given up part of your humanity. You have blackened your soul.

If you have sanctioned, condoned or encouraged torture you are a torturer by proxy.

You have given up any right to claim you are a representative or defender of any of the following concepts:

  • The West
  • Western civilisation
  • Freedom
  • Liberty
  • Democracy
  • The rule of law
  • Due process
  • The free society
  • The open society
As flawed as many of these concepts are, you are an implacable ememy of the grains of truth and goodness that they contain.

I do not claim that torture is not effective. To do so would be foolish. The torturers need only show one example where it has yielded a positive result and this utilitarian argument against torture is destroyed.

I ask instead what is the greater aim of effective torture? What is the torturer hoping to defend by the successful extraction of information?

By definition, he cannot hope to defend any of the concepts listed above. He cannot do this because, at the moment he officially sanctions or commits torture, his society no longer subscribes to any of these concepts.

His country is no longer part of "the West" or Western civilisation.
His country is no longer free or open.
His country is no longer a democracy.
His country no longer subscribes to due process or the rule of law.

Given this, what is left for the torturer to defend?

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Apple Shop Sketch

by Charles Pooter

From Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle. Starts off as a Two Ronnies parody/tribute and then degenerates into hilarious insanity. Give Paul Putner and Kevin Eldon their own show I say.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Libertarian Socialism

by Charles Pooter

“Socialism, to me, is about achieving egalitarian ends according to the belief that we all know the best of which humans are capable. It does not prescribe the means, however—it’s simply a value-laden opinion on that towards which we’re striving. This is why I believe stateless societies and genuinely free markets will be the means to get us there: these are the kinds of decentralized systems that allow societies to find the best solutions for its constituents. Socialism and libertarianism, to me, are not incongruous; socialism is (one aspect of) the ends, libertarianism is the means.”
    — Jeremy Weiland.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Prince Philip: International Statesman

by Dom Corrigan

How I laughed...


http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7977618.stm


Wait for it (action starts around 0:50)

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Watchmen

by Charles Pooter

I'm off to see Watchmen shortly. The good news is that the studio responsible for the movie has already commissioned a spin-off Saturday morning kids cartoon:

Saturday, 28 February 2009

Are such things done on Albion’s shore?

by Charles Pooter

Are such things done on Albion’s shore?
By Philip Pullman

(Orignally published in the Times, but then removed from Times Online. Republished without permission.)

The image of this nation that haunts me most powerfully is that of the sleeping giant Albion in William Blake’s prophetic books. Sleep, profound and inveterate slumber: that is the condition of Britain today.

We do not know what is happening to us. In the world outside, great events take place, great figures move and act, great matters unfold, and this nation of Albion murmurs and stirs while malevolent voices whisper in the darkness - the voices of the new laws that are silently strangling the old freedoms the nation still dreams it enjoys.

We are so fast asleep that we don’t know who we are any more. Are we English? Scottish? Welsh? British? More than one of them? One but not another? Are we a Christian nation - after all we have an Established Church - or are we something post-Christian? Are we a secular state? Are we a multifaith state? Are we anything we can all agree on and feel proud of?

The new laws whisper:

You don’t know who you are

You’re mistaken about yourself

We know better than you do what you consist of, what labels apply to you, which facts about you are important and which are worthless

We do not believe you can be trusted to know these things, so we shall know them for you

And if we take against you, we shall remove from your possession the only proof we shall allow to be recognised

The sleeping nation dreams it has the freedom to speak its mind. It fantasises about making tyrants cringe with the bluff bold vigour of its ancient right to express its opinions in the street. This is what the new laws say about that:

Expressing an opinion is a dangerous activity

Whatever your opinions are, we don’t want to hear them

So if you threaten us or our friends with your opinions we shall treat you like the rabble you are

And we do not want to hear you arguing about it

So hold your tongue and forget about protesting

What we want from you is acquiescence

The nation dreams it is a democratic state where the laws were made by freely elected representatives who were answerable to the people. It used to be such a nation once, it dreams, so it must be that nation still. It is a sweet dream.

You are not to be trusted with laws

So we shall put ourselves out of your reach

We shall put ourselves beyond your amendment or abolition

You do not need to argue about any changes we make, or to debate them, or to send your representatives to vote against them

You do not need to hold us to account

You think you will get what you want from an inquiry?

Who do you think you are?

What sort of fools do you think we are?

The nation’s dreams are troubled, sometimes; dim rumours reach our sleeping ears, rumours that all is not well in the administration of justice; but an ancient spell murmurs through our somnolence, and we remember that the courts are bound to seek the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, and we turn over and sleep soundly again.

And the new laws whisper:

We do not want to hear you talking about truth

Truth is a friend of yours, not a friend of ours

We have a better friend called hearsay, who is a witness we can always rely on

We do not want to hear you talking about innocence

Innocent means guilty of things not yet done

We do not want to hear you talking about the right to silence

You need to be told what silence means: it means guilt

We do not want to hear you talking about justice

Justice is whatever we want to do to you

And nothing else

Are we conscious of being watched, as we sleep? Are we aware of an ever-open eye at the corner of every street, of a watching presence in the very keyboards we type our messages on? The new laws don’t mind if we are. They don’t think we care about it.

We want to watch you day and night

We think you are abject enough to feel safe when we watch you

We can see you have lost all sense of what is proper to a free people

We can see you have abandoned modesty

Some of our friends have seen to that

They have arranged for you to find modesty contemptible

In a thousand ways they have led you to think that whoever does not want to be watched must have something shameful to hide

We want you to feel that solitude is frightening and unnatural

We want you to feel that being watched is the natural state of things

One of the pleasant fantasies that consoles us in our sleep is that we are a sovereign nation, and safe within our borders. This is what the new laws say about that:

We know who our friends are

And when our friends want to have words with one of you

We shall make it easy for them to take you away to a country where you will learn that you have more fingernails than you need

It will be no use bleating that you know of no offence you have committed under British law

It is for us to know what your offence is

Angering our friends is an offence

It is inconceivable to me that a waking nation in the full consciousness of its freedom would have allowed its government to pass such laws as the Protection from Harassment Act (1997), the Crime and Disorder Act (1998), the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (2000), the Terrorism Act (2000), the Criminal Justice and Police Act (2001), the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act (2001), the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Extension Act (2002), the Criminal Justice Act (2003), the Extradition Act (2003), the Anti-Social Behaviour Act (2003), the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act (2004), the Civil Contingencies Act (2004), the Prevention of Terrorism Act (2005), the Inquiries Act (2005), the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act (2005), not to mention a host of pending legislation such as the Identity Cards Bill, the Coroners and Justice Bill, and the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill.

Inconceivable.

And those laws say:

Sleep, you stinking cowards

Sweating as you dream of rights and freedoms

Freedom is too hard for you

We shall decide what freedom is

Sleep, you vermin

Sleep, you scum.

Monday, 2 February 2009

South East London in the Snow

by Charles Pooter

Click to enlarge all photos.

Wasn't very green today!

Eltham Palace


Pooter's cat: "Little Cat, What Now?"

Saturday, 31 January 2009

Odd One Out

by Charles Pooter


Good news for TV viewers and British wildlife, bad news for his North London neighbours: the Oddie menace will be spending more time at home.

This is a clear victory for this publication and its random campaign of irrational hatred aimed at a minor televison celebrity.

Watch it Titchmarsh, you are next.

Friday, 30 January 2009

Payments for Failure

by Charles Pooter

The UK's Commuications Minister, Lord Carter of Barnes, has proposed that there should be a £20 per year broadband tax. He suggests that the revenue from this tax should pay for the upkeep of a quango who will act as enforcers for the music and film industries. The quango will act as a clearing house for infomation, coerced from UK internet service providers, about "illegal" downloaders.

The proposal is the latest attempt by the corporate state to prop up the failed business models of the traditional content monopolists. If the Governement takes up the proposal, as they almost certainly will, it will be a heavy barrage in what amounts to a war against the internet using public.

We should not fall for any rhetoric regarding creators' rights or so-called "intellectual property". This is about maintaining the ill-gotten profits of huge media corporations at the expense of our freedom and privacy.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

A rather inane post

by Edwin Hesselthwite

I, Edwin Hesselthwite, haven't posted anything on this illustrious journal in fucking ages...

Today, I'd like to contribute this:



Because.