No Minister

Posts Tagged ‘Totalitarians

Radical Emptiness

with 3 comments

I must admit that I was bracing myself this Monday morning at the prospect of Labour’s latest plans for tackling AGW, given all the talk about dairy farmers being forced to pay tens of thousands of dollars per year for our terrible Green House Gas (GHG) emission sins!

I was therefore immensely pleased to read this in Kiwiblog on Tuesday morning:

Stuff took the time to tally up these 284 listed actions and classify them.

Over half (158) are not really plans at all, but are plans to make a plan down the road, or to scope the scale of a possible policy, or develop an evidence base to build a policy on.

Excellent. NZ Labour strikes again. Plans and more plans amounting to nothing, although unfortunately a lot of money will be pissed up against various walls. It’s reached a sad stage in government when the best you can hope for is that the ideological fanatics you oppose turn out to be incompetent morons who couldn’t find their assholes with a mirror and a magnifying glass.

Still, let us be grateful for small mercies and the fact that for all the bloviating about the Climate Crisis, Labour have figured out that to really reduce emissions as far and as fast as they want would mean doing things that would be … harsh. This was explored from a US perspective in this article from 2019 where the writer lays out the reality of “getting serious” about reducing GHG emissions by imagining what a True Believer President (Democrat naturally) would have to do:

Inslee had launched his campaign two years earlier as a longshot, single-issue candidate. But events rapidly outpaced what had begun as a boutique candidacy intended to call attention to climate change.

As his first act as president, Inslee declared a national climate emergency. As his second, he announced national carbon rationing. Until further notice, consumers were limited to one tank of gas per month. Based on time of year and regional climates, natural gas and heating oil deliveries to households were cut by as much as 60%. Utilities were directed to submit plans within the month to cut total electricity generation by 40% and to optimize their existing generation mix to use as little fossil generation as possible.

In this imaginary scenario Inslee wins because Mother Nature delivers droughts, storms, tornadoes and hurricanes that perfectly fit his campaign. Congress follows Inslee (a real politician btw) and:

  • Nationalises the entire US electricity industry (the massive TVA and BPA are already public).
  • Creates a National Renewable Energy Corporation to produce enough wind turbines and solar panels to produce 60% of the nation’s electric power by 2030.
  • Creates the National Nuclear Energy Corporation, which takes over all private nuclear businesses build 200 single-design reactors in a decade to handle the other 40% of power needs.
  • Nationalises the Big Three US automakers to retool all their factories in three years to make EV’s.

While it’s imaginary the writer compares this to what is actually being proposed or being done to show how moderate even the calls of most US greens are.

As many environmentalists and even elected Democrats have come to believe that serious climate disruption is already upon us, it has become fashionable to call for a World War II-style mobilization to fight climate change. But virtually no one will actually call for any of the sorts of activities that the United States undertook during the war mobilization—rationing food and fuels, seizing property, nationalizing factories or industries, or suspending democratic liberties.

In other words even the zealots are full of it, and, although they probably are genuinely alarmed, don’t actually see climate change as the immediate and existential threat they publicly say it is. The article is lengthy and goes into some detail about the post-war history of the US Left in five sections:

  • The Libertarian Left.
  • From Public Goods to Market Failure.
  • Communitarian Capitalism.
  • Tilting with Windmills.
  • Our Divided Neoliberal House.

All of which has led them into a position where they can’t go for the imaginary ideas of a President Inslee. Thankfully, because it would likely be a catastrophe. If you think that’s OTT I suggest you look at what’s happening in Sri Lanka as a direct result of an ideological, scientifically ignorant decision by it’s (former) President to ban agrochemicals for farming. Which led to this:

Within six months of the ban, rice production in the country—a once very sufficient industry—dropped 20 percent, forcing Sri Lanka to import $450 million of rice to meet supply needs and surging rice prices rose nearly 50 percent.

Now, Sri Lanka will pay farmers across the country 40,000 million rupees ($200 million) to compensate for their barren harvests and crop failures. In addition to the funding, the Sri Lankan government will pay $149 million in price subsidies to rice farmers impacted by the loss.

Which then led to this:

Sri Lanka is on the brink of bankruptcy and has suspended payments on its foreign loans. Its economic miseries have brought on a political crisis, with the government facing a protests and a no-confidence motion in Parliament.

The reserves declined to $3.1 billion by the end of 2021, and to $1.9 billion by the end of March, he said. With foreign currency in short supply thanks to less tourism and other revenues, official reserves were tapped to pay for importing essentials including fuel, gas, coal and medicines beginning in August 2021.

Which has led to this, with only enough petrol to last one more day.

I note that the NZ Feckless covered this story a couple of days ago and in the story I read did not once mention the organic farming decision that led to all this. Stuff talks only of Chinese infrastructure projects and debts. Dishonest assholes.

Adam Smith once said, in reply to a student’s concerns about Britain being ruined by the loss of the American colonies, that “There is a great deal of ruin in a nation”. Sri Lanka is about to test the limits of that – and don’t for one moment think it couldn’t happen here if we had equally fanatical environmental decisions made here along the lines of “President Inslee”.

Written by Tom Hunter

May 18, 2022 at 6:00 am

I guess this will be my single issue in 2023

with 23 comments

I’ve often written that with six co-bloggers focusing on New Zealand there’s no point in me doing the same, and in any case I find US politics far more interesting because ideas that are considered “settled” in NZ are still being fought over there, plus new ideas about how a society should be organised.

But there are times when an idea begins to emerge in New Zealand that is controversial and worth fighting over, and “co-governance” is it.

Up until now I’ve figured that it would have to be fought over at the 2023 election; that Labour could not continue to push forward in the face of growing public alarm and falling polls over a range of issues that might see co-governance as the straw that breaks Labour’s back into the low twenty percent range or even lower. Labour would be forced to either dump it or make the arguments in public as part of an election so that whichever way it goes, we can at least say that a democratic decision was made on the future of the country.

Chris Finlayson

But I’ve concluded that this is not how it’s going to proceed and the reason has to do with comments I saw quoted from none other than former National MP and TOW Negotiations Cabinet Minister, Chris Finlayson.

When I first saw these quotes on Kiwiblog I found it hard to believe that they could have been uttered by a former National Party MP and minister; a person that I effectively voted for over several election cycles and that I thought was an intelligent and compassionate man devoted to rectifying the sins of past colonialisation. Sure, there was grumbling on the Right about some of these deals and the fact that Finlayson had gone from being poacher to gamekeeper on the issue.

So I checked out the Radio New Zealand podcast referred to, The Detail and its episode Co-governance: Time to get on with it?, and discovered they were true quotes:

But as former Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Chris Finlayson explains, the concept itself is nothing new. 

Finlayson takes The Detail back to the ground-breaking signing of the Treaty settlement between the Crown and Tainui in 1995, and explains how the settlement over raupatu claims led to the formation of the Waikato River Authority. 

It became the genesis of other co-governance arrangements, giving iwi an opportunity to participate directly with local or regional government to provide advice or take part in the management of a particular resource. 

As he describes them, those past settlements that he was heavily involved with were not really about righting wrongs via the Waitangi Treaty tribunal process. No, they were about building small but permanent foundations for an entirely new way of governing this nation; a way that has now sprung into life via the supposed “opposing” party, Labour, backed by The Greens and naturally the Maori Party, with the He Puapua report, Three Waters and so forth.

And it gets better:

“I simply say to people, one, there’s a new regime, get with it folks; two, Rome wasn’t built in a day.” 

While he says there’s room for robust debate about the co-governance model between the Crown and iwi and hapū, Finlayson’s advice for dealing with the “sour right” behind the racist, resentful rhetoric: “We’ve just got to leave those losers behind and move on. They don’t like tangata whenua. They dream of a world that never was and never could be,” he says. 

Two words Mr Finlayson.

Fuck

You.

My Scottish and Irish ancestors lived for hundreds of years tugging their forelocks to Irish landowners and Scottish Lairds, escaped that, and neither I nor my kids are going to repeat that process with the likes of Prince Willie Jackson and Princess Nanaia Mahuta.

And the thing is that Finlayson fits in so perfectly with them and their born-to-rule arrogance. That wealthy Khandallah childhood; the Latin and French majors; the LLM and mixing in the highest echelons of our legal and political circles, not to mention the leaders of our various great iwi. No wonder National lapped him up and loved him. He could elegantly stick it to Labour and others on these issues.

While all the time he was basically on the same side as them.

And now in keeping with that Olympian attitude of superiority, in his mind the issue has already been decided by The Powers That Be – meaning the political elite of both National and Labour, plus our academic and legal communities – and now it’s just a matter of getting on with it.

Elections? Democracy? Pfft. I would not now be at all surprised if he uttered then same phrase as Willie Jackson about this nation, that “We’re in a consensus-type democracy now. This is not a majority democracy.”  Consensus is one of those words which, when I hear it, tells me I’m about to be lied to.

The final question I have, and frankly I think it’s rhetorical now, is how many more like him are there in the National Party? I’m betting enough to push this through eventually under some guise or other:

My prediction, there will be a substantial empowering of iwi in education, heath, housing supply and social policy in the next few years. National will go along with most of this once they are back in government, just as they have done so since 1990.

In that sense Don Brash was a bit of an aberration, one that National is not keen on repeating.

Written by Tom Hunter

May 12, 2022 at 3:59 pm

The Sublime Society of Beef Steaks

with 8 comments

A farmer and historian in Britain, one John Lewis-Stempel, has published an interesting article in Unherd where he argues that the rise of wheat as the most widely grown crop in the world has, over the millennia, enabled tyranny!

Wheat has corrupted humanity

I was immediately caught by the opening paragraph:

“Beef & Liberty”. Such was the slogan of the 18th century London dining club, The Sublime Society of Beef Steaks. The carnivorous Regency gentlemen were sensible in associating the scoffing of sirloin with freedom and the rights of Britons. Food, like the personal, is political.

Being a political tragic it’s ironic that I don’t enjoy the fact that everything is now political, even food, but I can’t deny it when I read of things like actor James Cromwell supergluing his hand to a Starbucks counter so he could lecture customers and staff alike for ages about the iniquity over their surcharge for vegan milk.

Privileged dickhead! I must re-watch LA Confidential so I can see him get his just deserts by being shot in the back.

In Lewis-Stempel’s article he covers the tyranny of wheat, from forcing us into factory-like patterns of tilling, sowing, weeding and harvesting, to being an easy crop for the State to inspect and tax – and confiscate – compared to animals or root vegetables, all the way to the modern tyranny of Monsanto:

…the grains were developed for their ability to cope with a chemical product that Monsanto wanted to flog. So if the farmer buys Roundup Ready seed, then he or she buys the tied-in Roundup herbicid. And Monsanto cashes in twice.

He also goes into some detail about the other chemicals needed to grow wheat and it’s not a pretty picture. The article ends on a note that will be music to the ears of NZ grass farmers:

To save the planet, pastoralism is the intelligent solution. The brain is 60% fat, and omega-rich fat from grass-fed meat is excellent for mental health. The sine qua non of free thinking. Beef and liberty! More meat, less wheat!

Agree or disagree, it’s a fun article so read the whole thing.

Written by Tom Hunter

May 12, 2022 at 9:06 am

Really quite atrocious

with 20 comments

The world gets sillier with each passing day.

The ridiculous creature you’ve just watched is now the head of a new part of the US Department of Homeland Security, the Disinformation Governance Board.

What a coincidence that this announcement comes just days after Elon Musk buying Twitter and the Liberal world setting its hair on fire as a result.

The Department of Homeland Security is setting up a new board designed to counter misinformation related to homeland security, with a focus specifically on Russia and irregular migration. The board will be called the “Disinformation Governance Board,” and will be headed by executive director Nina Jankowicz.

And there it is right out of the gate, “irregular migration”. So we won’t be able to say “open borders” any longer? Or “illegal aliens”, (even though that’s the legal term) without the ban hammer coming down, or worse.

I’m going to call it the Ministry of Truth from here on because that’s entirely appropriate.

Ms Jankowicz herself writes:

Now that I’ve got it: a HUGE focus of our work, and indeed, one of the key reasons the Board was established, is to maintain the Dept’s commitment to protecting free speech, privacy, civil rights, & civil liberties.

That sounds like exactly the opposite of what this board is designed for. It’s purpose will be to stamp out information that the Biden administration doesn’t like, censor any thoughts that run counter to the MSM narrative of the day, and “fact-check” points of view deemed “inappropriate.”

The thing is that she herself is a peddler of disinformation as, for example, the 2020 claim that Hunter Biden’s business records were a Russian plant. In fact she was still pushing this as of March 2021.

Amazing how all those “natsec experts” were completely wrong, although that’s being generous as I think they just flat-out lied: they’ll probably gets jobs working for her at the Ministry of Truth. Hmmm… DGB… that acronym rings a bell.

It was the claim that it was Russian Disinformation that was the actual disinformation — partisan Democrat Deep State disinformation. As the new Disinformation Czarina, she should, of course, be eager to apologise for her previous disinformation. What are the odds?

I see some back-peddling going on with the Biden Administration now claiming that work on this started on Trump’s watch in 2020. Oh really? When during 2020 did this “work” begin? What exactly was that “work,” of which the current bureau is a merely a “continuation”? Did Trump ever hear about it? Did the Trump administration ever appoint an Executive Director of a Ministry of Truth?

Actually it’s fun to imagine the Liberal world’s reaction if Trump had done this. It would have made the Musk meltdown look like nothing.

But then something like this was always on the cards with the DHS. In the wake of the 9/11 attacks twenty years ago I figured that President GW Bush would tear down the CIA, FBI and other “intelligence” agencies that had so clearly failed and then re-build them into something fit for purpose. But instead, as a typical Moderate, Centrist Right Winger – the sort who loves Big Government almost as much as the Left does – he simply created yet another giant bureaucracy called the Department of Homeland Security and draped it over the top of the existing failures, supposedly to tie them together better.

Claims from the Right and Left that making the National Security state even bigger posed future dangers to the freedom of Americans was ignored in the heat of 9/11 emotions. The Right – admittedly mainly Libertarians – saw it as just another example of how bigger government creates bigger problems in the future, mainly because it further empowers those who love state power for its own sake in controlling individuals. The Left had traditionally felt uneasy about the NatSec state – until recently it seems, now that there’s a chance it can be weaponised against Right Wing enemies.

As silly as Ms Jankowicz appears, this is deadly serious. That joking meme of GW is no joke when you read official shit from the DHS like their March 2021 report, ‘Internal Review of Domestic Violent Extremism.’:

A March 2021 unclassified threat assessment prepared by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), Department of Justice, and DHS, noted that domestic violent extremists “who are motivated by a range of ideologies and galvanized by recent political and societal events in the United States pose an elevated threat to the Homeland in 2021.”

The assessment pointed to newer “sociopolitical developments such as narratives of fraud in the recent general election, the emboldening impact of the violent breach of the U.S. Capitol, conditions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and conspiracy theories promoting violence” that “will almost certainly spur some [domestic violent extremists] [sic] to try to engage in violence this year.”

This is what DHS is now all about, exactly as its critics predicted two decades ago, and this new Board is simply another drawing back of the covers to reveal the machinery underneath. What’s next?

It’s probably easier going after “domestic violent extremists” than after the people that were originally supposed to be the focus of DHS: people like Nidal Hassan, Omar Mateen, Fahreed Skyhook and his concubine and at least a dozen or so other attackers as well as plots that were only foiled by sheer dumb luck rather than by the DHS/FBI.

It’s appropriate to leave you with this interesting article: Would censorship have stopped the rise of the Nazis? The short answer is no!

Weimar Germany had laws banning hateful speech (particularly hateful speech directed at Jews), and top Nazis including Joseph Goebbels, Theodor Fritsch and Julius Streicher actually were sentenced to prison time for violating them. The efforts of the Weimar Republic to suppress the speech of the Nazis are so well known in academic circles that one professor has described the idea that speech restrictions would have stopped the Nazis as “the Weimar Fallacy.” 

Meh – I couldn’t leave it on such a grim note, so here’s the original silliness, featuring what is generally agreed to be one of the worst fake accents on film, courtesy of American actor Dick Van Dyke as a Cockney chimney sweep.

Written by Tom Hunter

May 2, 2022 at 8:41 am

Breaking News for those who lack self-awareness

with 6 comments

When I saw this I almost could not believe it. Even though I’ve long been very down on the MSM and its “journalists”, the following piece is still breathtaking even for me.

Is it a lack of self-awareness? Or perhaps just a lack of awareness in general – like of recent history and current affairs?

Really, Mr Melber of MSNBC? Really? It sounds terrifying! What would that look like, because I’m having a tough time even imagining it – but I’ll give it a shot?

I’m seeing…. a tech monopoly suppressing a major story about a corrupt POS presidential candidate who spawned a son who is an even bigger POS with booze, drugs and the ladies and who grifts millions of dollars from Chinese and Russian oligarchs and corrupt Ukrainian front companies?

No? Okay. How about this?

I’m seeing …. a tech monopoly using secret algorithms to throttle speakers of one political bent while boosting those of another political bent? Or using its algorithmic power as a publisher (not a platform) to falsely claim that some unpopular stories are “Trending” and to falsely claim that some actually-trending stories are not? And all this to crush the reach of news that hurts one political party and one political ideology?

Crazy no?

Where the fuck has this prick been in the last two years? Or perhaps he’s just fallen so far into gaslighting mode that he wipes his memory each night so that he doesn’t go insane with all the cognitive dissonance?

And also right on schedule is this….

Complete with talk about “reforming section 230” and “anti-trust reform” and all the crazy stuff that a goodly (and growing) portion of US right-wingers have been pushing for several years now.

My goodness, where did that suddenly come from? What a coincidence that it came just a day after Musk takes over Twitter.

That’s government intimidation, isn’t it? That’s the government saying, “You will enforce our chosen narrative on a range of issues via censorship of your users – or we will act punitively against your monopoly position.” Sure sounds like it to me, and the response of the GOP to this will be to say how they’re not like that, even as the owners and employees of those companies snigger at their desks, curse the GOP, donate overwhelmingly to the Democrats, curse the Right even more and do everything with their considerable online power to screw them over.

This is why the GOP is often called by its own voters The Stupid Party.

In fact those voters been begging the GOP for some time now to get their useless backsides into gear and rip away the cover of Section 230 from the likes of Twitter, Facebook and their ilk, given the fact that, despite the well intentioned motives of protecting the fledging Web in the 1990’s, they’ve been acting as publishers not platforms for quite some time now in their censoring zeal:

No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.

The grass-roots have also begged the GOP to go full Teddy Roosevelt and start using trust-busting measures against Google and their ilk – only to be greeted with whinging about the “principles” of the libertarian, pro-corporate Right-Wing when it comes to the state and private sector companies – well, giant private sector companies at least. Look at the recent moans from the National Review crowd (and others on the Corporatist Right) about the Florida GOP actions taken against Disney.

Now that the Democrats have breached that particular dam perhaps the GOP will jump on the issue. Still, it would not be surprising if The Stupid Party decides that defending Google, Facebook, Twitter and company against such outrages is a winning issue in 2022, thereby condemning themselves to a tiny win or perhaps even a tiny loss this year, rather than the Red Tsunami they’re currently on target for.

No mas. No masquerade

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The wheels of justice grind slowly but grind exceedingly fine.

Frankly I don’t believe that famous quote, having observed too many instances of the gap between the law and justice yawning exceedingly wide and never being reconciled in any time frame that mattered to people. The only saving grace being that it applies to when justice is served and when it is not, although even then there are cyclical periods of time for each.

In this case a couple of days ago US District Court Judge Kathryn Mizelle, ruled that the CDC failed to properly explain its decision to impose the mandate or follow proper rule making procedures and that therefore the Federal mask mandate could not be legally imposed in airports, planes and other transport:

Almost immediately, Alaska Airlines announced that masks would be optional for travelers and employees alike. United Airlines quickly followed suit, announcing that masks were no longer required on domestic flights and select international flights, depending upon the arrival country’s requirements. American Airlines, Delta Airlines, or Southwest Airlines — the three carriers with the most passengers pre-pandemic — also made masks optional on Monday night.

You can get a sense of the reaction with the announcement being made mid-flight in some cases. Nice to see the reaction of the crews as well…

Now the news is not all good. Some individual states are continuing with the insanity in the public transport systems they control, and while the Biden administration immediately announced a cease fire they have not surrendered and may appeal the decision to a higher court. To which my response is Lose Harder In November, Assholes. Also, Judge Mizelle accepted the CDC’s argument that masks may help prevent infection, despite them having accepted that the common, disposable cloth masks do not. In which case she may wish to read this article on the failure of masks and look at these graphs from it:

The [left] graph tracks the results of a natural experiment that occurred nationwide during the pandemic. Eleven states never mandated masks, while the other 39 states enforced mandates. The mandates typically began early in the pandemic in 2020 and remained until at least the summer of 2021, with some extending into 2022. The black line on the graph shows the weekly rate of Covid cases in all the states with mask mandates that week, while the orange line shows the rate in all the states without mandates.

As you can see from the near identical trajectories of the lines, mask mandates made no difference, and certainly did not control the virus. The article waspishly notes the early triumphant squawking of the MSM for states with extremely high mask compliance – that went on to suffer terrible C-19 case and death surges.

[The right graph] compares Germany with Sweden, the media’s Covid villain for refusing to lock down or mandate masks. Sweden’s initial Covid surge was blamed on those lax policies, but Sweden stuck to them and actually discouraged masks in most situations. As indicated on the graph, surveys during the pandemic showed that fewer than 10 percent of Swedes bothered to wear masks. In Germany, by contrast, more than 80 percent did so, but look at the similar trajectories of the daily Covid death toll in both countries from the summer of 2020 through March of this year.

I’ve already covered much of this ground in previous posts (The Mask Narrative crumbles contains links to other such posts), including graphs for places like Hawaii as far back as 2020 that showed the futility of masks.

The article notes that a resistance to mask mandates went back even further and very much included Public Health bodies.

In their pre-Covid planning strategies for a pandemic, neither the Centers for Disease Control nor the World Health Organization had recommended masking the public—for good reason. Randomized clinical trials involving flu viruses had shown, contrary to popular wisdom in Japan and other Asian countries, that there was “no evidence that face masks are effective in reducing transmission,” as the WHO summarized the scientific literature. The pandemic planners at the United Kingdom’s Department of Health had reached a similar conclusion: “In line with the scientific evidence, the Government will not stockpile facemasks for general use in the community.”

In going with politics instead of science they’re hardly alone. If you’re a subscriber to the NYT (and we know some of our readers proudly are) then you’ll probably be shocked and surprised to find that the following Tweet…

… actually resulted in a NYT reporter, one Victoria Kim, trying to contact him about the horror, only to be informed that it was satire. Ms Kim was raised in Seoul and is a Harvard graduate in history.

She is also an utter fucking moron.

But as usual she and the NYT were running with the Left’s narrative, in this case masks, and you can see why in The 5 Most Unhinged Responses to the End of the Travel Mask Mandate, although I prefer humourist James Lileks list and his takes on them:

I know, I know, my mask protects you, your mask protects me. If you are wearing a mask, the virus cannot pass through it. But if you are not wearing a mask, the virus can float over to where I am, and pass through my mask.

They walk among us, and from my everyday observations I’d say we have a higher proportion in NZ.

Written by Tom Hunter

April 21, 2022 at 6:00 am

Control your soul’s thirst for freedom

with 15 comments

Over the years I’ve read and seen a bunch of dystopian SF books and movies, stories that paint not a wonderful, sunny future enabled by miraculous technology, but a grim, dark, almost inhuman future where the technology oppresses us rather than freeing us.

Neuromancer, Bladerunner, Battlestar Gallactica (2003 reboot), Aliens, A.I., Gattica….

Yet somehow I never thought I’d get to see it.

That’s in Shanghai, one of the largest cities in the world: twenty five million people locked down by the Chinese government in pursuit of Covid Zero, which they still believe is possible even after two years of dealing with General Tso’s Syphilis. It feels like a repeat of the autistic focus on goals during the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution.

Between that and drones flying around apartment buildings broadcasting warnings while people scream from their balconies for food, plus beating corgies to death in the street and wrapping up cats in mesh bags on the sidewalks where they are collected to be killed, it’s safe to say that China is not a place anybody would like to be – and absolutely not a society we want to emulate, even though we increasingly do, starting with the concept of lockdowns.

I’d already covered a story about the CCP’s approach to pets in Time ran out for Pudding, where a little boy in Hong Kong had to hand over his pet hamster to be killed by the authorities. The cats in bags is another echo of the recent Chinese past:

Even China’s feline population suffered as Red Guards tried to eliminate what they claimed was a symbol of “bourgeois decadence”. “Walking through the streets of the capital at the end of August [1966], people saw dead cats lying by the roadside with their front paws tied together”

If you wish you can find videos of the cats in bags but I found the images too upsetting to put here, despite being not gory.

It’s not just events like this that have made me doubt the claim that the 21st century will be China’s. For various fundamental reasons arising from China’s history and culture I’ve long held the opinion that the current CCP control of the nation differs little from other dynasties stretching back 3000 years. A massively centralised, technocratic State government under which peace and prosperity increase for the population for a long time – followed by a decline in competence due to that centralised technocracy having no governing checks and failing to be refreshed with new minds and ideas, in-turn followed by peasant rebellions, the rise of feudal states and war. In the past the periods of peace might last for centuries, and the decline too, but today’s world moves faster.

Some of these problems are outlined in this article, Red Dusk, which discusses the problems of a declining working age population, the lack of state institutions that address health and retirement, and the growth of class divisions. I was especially amused by this:

Communist officials have been put in the awkward position of cracking down on Marxist study groups at universities, whose working-class advocacy conflicts with the policies of the nominally socialist government.

For all the talk of what their centralised goverment can achieve (and has achieved) – admired by the likes of Bill Gates, Justin Trudeau and Paul Krugman, among many other of the West’s ruling class – I see no evidence that the CCP has real answers to any of those problems. Worse still, their economic success has seen a rise in the old chauvinism that it’s all down to their superior culture, ignoring the fact that as recently as the 17th century, Europe ranked below China in almost any measure of power, but that it was the Western culture of allowing a diversity of ideas across a range of culture, from art to business to politics, that enables Europe to rise in power far beyond China.

That has not changed, despite some pretty awful excesses that have developed recently in the West – excesses which mirror aspects of China under the CCP, primarily conformism and control. But those have their limits, as Nazi Germany, Imperialist Japan, the USSR, Mao’s China and a host of smaller nations have found.

We need to uncouple ourselves from China, although economically that may not be possible because we’re too far gone ourselves. But perhaps just focus on nothing but economic trade with them and dump everything else about the “relationship”. Twenty years ago the Free Trade people argued that we would be exporting our values to Communist China (I was one of them), but it’s become obvious that we’re not and instead are importing their values into our society.

Perhaps I’m too pessimistic about the Chinese situation? In a small way the fact that the CCP is using a phrase that acknowledges the human soul’s desire for freedom is perhaps a tell. I don’t recall any Chinese communist campaign of the past that even used the word “freedom”, let alone the idea of it being tied to an individual human soul.

In other words I’d have expected the drones to be shouting communist boilerplate propaganda in commanding tones – “No person and no force can stop the march of the Chinese people toward better lives!“, or some such shite – rather than making what almost feels like a spiritual appeal to the people.

Written by Tom Hunter

April 14, 2022 at 8:50 am

Stamping on a human face forever

with 13 comments

As we slowly crawl toward freedom and away from the mandates and restrictions surrounding General Tso’s Sickness pandemic, it’s worth knowing that there will always be a part of the population that loved all this and are feeling bereft.

You see it with people still wearing masks outdoors and while driving cars alone, or who still hold their phones to scan in before entering shops.

It turns out that not everybody likes freedom, and based on my everyday observations the percentage is too high for comfort in (supposedly) freedom-loving democracy.

So the following cartoon seems appropriate.

I’d forgotten about this survey from the USA.

Written by Tom Hunter

April 13, 2022 at 10:27 am

Right and Left wing support for Putin

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One of the strangest aspects of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has been the support given to it, or at least the excuses made for it, by elements of the Western Right wing.

This has been claimed as merely another example of the “Alt-Right” or “Far-Right” in action, although the former slur seems to have died away in the last couple of years, apparently having failed to have much impact, probably because it was never well-defined in the first place.

In an example of the classic donut representation of ideologies the Far Right appears to have matched up with the Far Left, at least on this issue, although the same observations have been made of the recent anti-mandate protests in Wellington. I’ve always thought the elements of the donut that would do so would be the various brands of Anarchism, with only a hair’s breadth difference between the Anarcho-Communists and Anarcho-Capitalists – a wide, deep canyon in other words.

But perhaps this meshing is based on a faith in a vast, centralised state? After all, Lefties like Chris Trotter have quite happily identified themselves as “tankies”, – a term of abuse apparently used within the Left, of which I was unaware until he used it a few weeks ago:

Tankie” is a pejorative label for communists, particularly Stalinists, who support the authoritarian tendencies of Marxism–Leninism…Specifically it was used to distinguish party members who spoke out defending Soviet use of tanks to crush the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 and later the 1968 Prague Spring uprising, or more broadly, those who adhered to pro-Soviet positions in general.

As such Chris has often defended Putin’s Russia using all the now-standard arguments: the threat of NATO, the West in general and especially the USA, the corruption of Russia by capitalism, etc, etc, plus the massive propaganda war against Russia. He and others have also pointed out the hypocrisies and double standards involved when looking at events like the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the attack on Libya in 2011.

To be fair Chris has nevertheless condemned the latest Russian invasion as a crime.

But what of the Western Right who are defending Putin’s actions? A rather dejected sounding classical liberal from Britain, Daniel Hannan, someone whose arguments I’ve very much admired over the years, posed that question in The Examiner: How can any American patriot support Putin?

How can people who call themselves nationalists be so blasé about the asphyxiation of a nation whose sole offense has been to assert its independence?

But what is it that Trump and his followers see in Putin in the first place? This is where I start to worry. For a Reagan conservative, Putin’s flaws are obvious. He does not respect elections. He believes he can make up the rules as he goes along. He defines some of his people as “traitors” and encourages others to go after them. The sole principle of his foreign policy is Machtpolitik — let the stronger take from the weaker. He has replaced multiparty pluralism with a cult of personality. He can’t tolerate criticism.

Are Trumpsters as repelled by these things as Reaganites? Considering that list in an American context, I wonder. Things have changed since the Gipper’s time. In a polarized age, people are readier to overlook the shortcomings of politicians who specialize in “owning” the other side. Instead of wanting to limit the state as a general principle, modern conservatives are happy to make use of it when it suits their ends. And whereas they used to support candidates who shared their principles, they now tend to shift their principles whenever their champion does.

Unlike Hannan I’m well aware of plenty of Trump supporters who are very much against Putin’s invasion and wish to see him fail, including especially seeing the back of him as the leader of Russia. I did laugh at his take on Leftist support for Putin:

There is nothing surprising about dissent on the Left, chunks of which will align with any cause, however vile, provided it is sufficiently anti-American. If H.G. Wells’s novel came true tomorrow and Martian invaders launched their spaceships at Earth, there would be a New York Times op-ed arguing that the invasion was an understandable response to former President George W. Bush’s foreign policy.

But I don’t think it’s as simple as Hannan’s claim that it’s just siding with those who “own” their personal opposition, and a better answer may be found in this analysis of the apologetics for Putin, one that’s more subtle, and more disturbing:

“Both the liberal center-Left and the conservative center-Right are basically committed to upholding the global liberal order. Putin, by invading and attempting to conquer a sovereign state, challenges that order. If Putin succeeds, even modestly, it represents a failure for the U.S. establishment figures who tried to stop him. And establishment failures equal insurgent opportunities. Both the rightists and the leftists here are fighting against the Fukuyaman end-of-history idea that gives their own movements little space to move up.”

I think that’s it, but he’s also clinging to a very slim reed in thinking that these groups are frightened by the idea that the Fukuyamian world of the 1990’s is going to return, especially when he pinpoints its failures himself:

… the rightists and leftists must now see their shared nightmare unfolding before them — a great muddling-through, a slow revivification of the institutions that failed in Iraq and the Great Recession and the Trump Era. 

Ummm… No! The failures of the institutions that created the disasters of Iraq and the GFC, and before them the 9/11 attacks, are what led to the Trump era, and the continued public failure of them during Trump’s presidency – most vividly on show now with the slow revelation of coverups by none other than the CIA and FBI themselves, plus their handmaidens in Big Tech and the MSM in things like the Russia Collusion nonsense and Hunter Biden’s laptop of corruption, all working to bring Trump down – have only reduced public confidence in them further, worsened the situation and pulled us further away from that fabulous 90’s world that the author pines for.

He also doesn’t even mention the catastrophic Biden withdrawal from Afghanistan and the authoritarian over-reaction to the Chinese Lung Rot pandemic in almost all Western nations which saw our Public Health institutions and a good chunk of the public gleefully turning themselves into modern-day Stasi agents.

The End of History is dead and something new will take its place.

Written by Tom Hunter

March 25, 2022 at 10:22 am

Time ran out for Pudding

The Four Pests Campaign of 1958-1962 was insane enough, even if most of the birds were not pets. Mao and the other Central Planners and Controllers had decided that there were too many birds in the country, and their numbers needed to be greatly reduced so that The Masses could be fed:

Sparrows were suspected of consuming approximately four pounds of grain per sparrow per year. Sparrow nests were destroyed, eggs were broken, and chicks were killed. Millions of people organized into groups, and hit noisy pots and pans to prevent sparrows from resting in their nests, with the goal of causing them to drop dead from exhaustion.In addition to these tactics, citizens also simply shot the birds down from the sky. The campaign depleted the sparrow population, pushing it to near extinction.

It takes something pretty extraordinary to drive sparrows, of all birds, close to extinction, but if you have enough fanatics it’s doable. The result was entirely predictable: with the sparrows who ate the insects gone, the numbers of insects exploded, ravaging crops. It was a contributing factor to the Great Chinese Famine. Warnings from ornithologists (or anyone else) that this might happen counted for little against a government that had mobilised the people to march towards a public health goal that could be defined in one sentence.

And so we come to this sad story out of Hong Kong:

Time was running out for Pudding.

The hamster, a new addition to the Hau family, was to be given up to Hong Kong authorities for culling after rodents in a pet shop tested positive for coronavirus — leaving Pudding’s 10-year-old owner wailing in grief.

“I don’t want to, I don’t want to,” the boy cried, his head buried in his hands as he crouched next to Pudding’s pink cage, according to a video shown to AFP by his father.

But the older Hau, who would only provide his last name, said he was worried about his elderly family members who live in the same household.

“I have no choice — the government made it sound so serious,” he told AFP, shortly before entering a government-run animal management centre to submit Pudding.

Hamsters and Guinea Pigs are frail little creatures at the best of times and not long-lived, and as a meat eater I’m obviously not averse to killing animals, but that little boy will remember his pet being taken away for the rest of his life, and all for nothing.

I could understand if there were any serious evidence that the cull would achieve anything for humans. But there is none and in any case evidence and science is not really the point here, any more than it was during the great bird kill campaign.

No, as then there is a single policy goal. A healthcare policy goal: Zero Covid, and nothing was going to be allowed to stand in the way of progress towards that goal. In fact, now that the PRC has dropped the bullshit of “One country, two systems” with regard to Hong Kong, it’s entirely desirable that the people of Hong Kong be made aware, down to the smallest details of their lives, that their new masters are in total control. That little boy will know for the rest of his life, what his masters are capable of: let him and other children cry, so long as they know themselves to be powerless. That perfect state.

Actually it’s not the first time that the communists have made it clear what they think of such Western-influenced bourgeois sentimentality:

Even China’s feline population suffered as Red Guards tried to eliminate what they claimed was a symbol of “bourgeois decadence”. “Walking through the streets of the capital at the end of August [1966], people saw dead cats lying by the roadside with their front paws tied together”

The less contact we have with these bastards the better. We already imported the idea of “Lockdown” from them so who knows what’s possible tomorrow.

Written by Tom Hunter

February 18, 2022 at 8:53 am