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An update on the revolutionary experiment

November 2021, and Brexit is still on-going. I am trying to refrain from posting wall-to-wall blog essays about how badly the on-going brexit is going, but it's been about 9-10 months since I last gnawed on the weeping sore, so here's an interim update.

(If apocalyptic political clusterfucks bore you, skip this blog entry.)

What has become most apparent this year is that Brexit is a utopian nation-building program that about 25-30% of the nation are really crazily enthusiastic about (emphasis on "crazy"—it's John Rogers' crazification factor at work here), and because they vote Tory, Johnson is shoveling red meat into the gimp cage on a daily basis.

Because Brexit is utopian it can never fail, it can only be failed. So it follows that if some aspect of Brexit goes sideways, traitors or insufficiently-enthusiastic wreckers must be at fault. (See also Bolshevism in the Lenin/early Stalin period.)

Alas, it turns out that the Brexiter politicians neglected to inform themselves of what the EU they were leaving even was, namely a legalistic international treaty framework. So they keep blundering about blindly violating legal agreements that trigger, or will eventually trigger, sanctions by their trading partners.

Now, the current government was elected in 2019 on the back of a "let's get Brexit done" campaign. In general, Conservative MPs fall into two baskets: True Believers and Corrupt Grifters. In normal times (i.e. not this century so far) the True Believers were tolerably useful insofar as they included Burkean small-c conservatives who believed in pragmatic government on behalf of the nation. However, around 1975 one particular wing of the True Believers gained control of the party. They were true believers all right, but Thatcher and her followers weren't pragmatists, they were ideologues. And by divorcing government from measurable outcomes—instead, making loyalty to an abstract program the acid test—they opened the door for the grifters, who could spout doubleplusgood duckspeak with the best of the Thatcherites and meanwhile quietly milk their connections for profit-making opportunities.

Thatcherism waxed and waned, but never really went away. And in Brexit, the grifters found an amazing opportunity: just swear allegience to the flag and gain access to power! Their leader, one Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, made his bones writing politically motivated hit-pieces in the newspapers, with the target most often being the EU: he's a profoundly amoral charlatan and opportunistic grifter who is currently presiding over a massive corruption scandal (the British euphemism is "sleaze": we aren't corrupt, corruption is for Johnny Foreigner). Part of the scandal is misuse of public funds during COVID19: the pandemic turned out to be an amazing profit-making opportunity (nobody mention Dido Harding and the £37Bn English "test and trace" system that, er, didn't work), or her Jockey Club connection to disgraced former Health Minister Matt Hancock). Or most recently, the Owen Paterson scandal, in which a massively corrupt Tory MP was given a slap on the wrist (a one month suspension from parliament) by the Parliamentary Standards Commission ... at which point the Prime Minister's heavy hitters tried to force a vote to abolish the the independent Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards. Which move couldn't possibly have anything to do with the Prime Minister himself being under investigation for corruption ...

Circa 1992-97, the final John Major government set a new high water mark for corruption in public office, with more ministerial resignations due to scandals than all previous governments combined going back to 1832. They'd been in power for 13 years in 1992, winning four elections along the way, and the grifting parasites had begun to overwhelm the host. But the Johnson government—in power for 11 years at this point (and also winning four consecutive elections: "four election wins in a row" seems to be some sort of watershed for blatant corruption)—has seen relatively few ministerial resignations due to scandals: because the PM doesn't think corruption is anything to be ashamed of.

When you're a grifter and the marks are about to notice what you're doing, standard procedure is to scream and shout and hork up a massive distraction. (Johnson's own term for this is "throw a dead cat on the table".)

The Tories focus-group tested "culture wars" in the run up to the 2019 election and discovered there was a public appetite for such things among their voter base (who trend elderly and poorly educated). Think MAGA. The transphobia campaign currently running is one such culture war: so is the war on wokeness that cross-infected the UK from you-know-who. It's insane. Turns out that about 80% of the shibboleths that infect the US hard right play well to the UK centre-right. The notable exception is vaccine resistance -- anti-vaxxers are a noisy but tiny fringe.

I note that this is predominantly an English disease. Scotland is mostly going in the opposite direction: Northern Ireland is deeply uneasy over the way Westminster seems to be throwing them under the bus over the NI border protocol, Wales ... not much news about Wales gets heard outside Wales, but they seem to be somewhere between Scotland and England on the political map. (Plaid Cymru, the Welsh nationalist party, are less successful than the SNP, who have comprehensively beaten Labour in Scotland: in Scotland the Tories are in second place in the polls by a whisker, but don't seem able to break through the 25% barrier.)

Anyway: the latest distraction is that Boris wants a war with France. Especially one he can turn off in an instant by throwing a switch or making a strategic concession (which the Tory-aligned media will spin as "victory" or blame on Labour Wreckers and Remoaner Parasites). The two things propping up his sagging junta are (a) a totally supine media environment and (b) COVID19, which turned up conveniently in time to be blamed for all the ills of Brexit. But COVID19 will go away soon, at which point it's going to be very hard to disguise the source of the economic damage. It turns out the UK's economic losses from brexit outweigh any economic gains by a factor of 178; we're seeing a roughly 4% decline in economic activity so far, and we're less than a year in.

Between the corrupt grifters, the catastrophic fallout from the most self-destructive economic policy of the century, and a ruling party that is selling seats in the House of Lords for £3M a pop to Party donors, we have plenty of reasons to expect many more dead cats to be flung on tables, and culture wars to be kicked off, over the coming months.

So:

Juche Britannia!

Sunlit Uplands!

Brexit means Brexit!

1054 Comments

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1:

Thank you for the analysis. I didn't realise how bad the, uh, sleaze had gotten in your system. Down Under we seem to be heading in a similar direction - only one side of politics should be held to account for their actions, the other side it's all part of politics (e.g. pork barreling is perfectly fine, and we can ignore all the advice from public servants if it means we might pick up votes in a marginal seat). Sadly I don't know what the solution is.

2:

I am glad that the antivaxers have not gained a lot of traction in the UK. As you outline here, things with Brexit are bad enough.

3:

Anti-vaxxers are mostly a lunatic fringe here. We have more of a problem with anti-maskers ... and also with the TERF/GC types (transphobia is currently a form of homophobia that is sanctioned by the press). But any culture war agenda you see the Republicans rolling out in the USA is eventually going to be imported by the Tories, and vice versa.

4:

One additional point; plenty of the Grifters see the Tories as the "natural party of government", and under that viewpoint, Scotland is broken (it's electing SNP majorities, not Tory), and 1997 to 2010 were an anomaly where the natural order of things was upset by Mr Blair being a conniving little sneak.

So it comes as a genuine surprise to them when there is a backlash against the Tories, because that's a breach of the natural order (in the sense of a secular variant on the Christian idea of God's will).

5:

The Tories have been in power in Westminster for all but 13 of the past 42 years, and for a higher proportion of the post-1921 period.

As most MPs start out before the age of 40 (we're not a gerontocracy like the US Senate) to a newbie it must look like the surest route to advancement is to work the Conservative promotion ladder.

6:

Considering the UK has no written constitution, no separation of powers, no judicial review and entrenched feudalism, the actually surprising thing is that it actually took so long to go sideways.

7:

Generally, we don't hear much about Wales in Scotland. I blame this on the Englis "British" Broadcasting Corporation.

4 - In the eyes of the Con Party, Wales is barely less broken than Scotland, because they keep returning Liebour majorities!
8:

You're actually wrong about that. The UK has a written constitution; it's just distributed among something like 20 different acts of parliament rather than written in one place. It's also worryingly easy to amend, to about the extent that the US constitution is inconveniently difficult to amend.

Judicial review: there's a supreme court, and -- yes -- they can rule on whether cases (and by extension laws) are compatible with the constitution, e.g. compliance with the Human Rights Act.

Feudalism ... 80% of the seats in the House of Lords are non-hereditary experts appointed for a life term by a cross-party committee process. In other words, about as feudal as the US Supreme Court. The other 20% of seats are elected by the hereditary peers from among their number, which is icky and would have been abolished except Tony Blair fucked up the last attempt at Lords reform. It'll go sooner or later.

Actual feudalism was abolished in the UK this century -- the last vestiges of feudal duties that applied only in Scotland, that is (because Westminster couldn't be bothered updating Scottish law and left it for the new Scottish parliament to get round to).

So we're about in the same place as the USA since 2016, which also discovered that running institutions like the US Senate on the basis of a shared understanding of how processes work was great right up until one party decided that it didn't apply to them.

9:

I hope you get a mild winter, the energy situation looks rough

10:

Feudalism starts at the top, with the Queen and her Royal Consent that basically allows her to exempt herself from democratically voted laws, in total secrecy (and the Scottish devolved government is just as enthusiastic about secrecy on this as the English one). Then you have the various Dukes and Earls who own much of the UK's most valuable real estate and protect their holdings with the distinctly feudal practice of leasehold, since no revolution means no land reform.

The doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty means no independence of the judiciary and judicial review is limited to specific decisions of public bodies, not the actual laws themselves. Yes, the HRA has introduced a limited measure of consideration for human rights and a fsck for laws, but it's an act of one Parliament that can be withdrawn by another, and this is in fact a manifesto commitment of the present government.

11:

Yes. It would not take much word smithing to convert this post to one about the US government. Lots of different details and inflection points but the same general trend.

Harking back to my comments about the US system at the end of the previous posts, I think the D's have way too many people in power who want to in just a 2 year cycle make everything perfect. Not seeming to realize that if they don't keep wining everything they do will be undone faster than they got it done. While the R's (grifting[1] and power is the only thing that matters) just want to win and then figure out (rig the system) a way to never loose again.

[1] I don't know how it works in the UK, but over here the dominant thing in US politics from the now dominant populist Rs tends to be if we can't make government smaller, let's break it as much as possible and take as much of OUR STOLEN TAXES back as we can though any means possible.

12:

Not arguing those things aren't bad, but they're not feudalism: they're monarchy and/or aristocracy.

The correct solution is to abolish the monarchy and declare a republic, but realistically England isn't going to go there in any foreseeable future. (Scotland might, but not before both (a) independence and (b) Elizabeth Windsor's death.)

Leasehold is not really any different from condominium ownership in the US; there's a landowner who has duties and may charge a ground rent/service charge. (Yes, it's open to abuse, but last time I bought a property with a leasehold the lease was for a 999 year period, minus the 110-odd years the building had already been standing: in practice, it was insignificant.)

Now, the commitment of the current Tory government to meddle with deep constitutional shit they don't really understand is indeed worrying. But it turns out to be harder to repeal the HRA than they thought. They hadn't noticed that the HRA is baked into the Good Friday Agreement and the Scotland Act: removing it means (a) fucking up the entire Brexit withdrawal agreement and pissing off the folks who know where any hypothetical IRA munitions dumps are buried, and (b) dismantling devolution (which in turn would require 20+ years of Scottish parliamentary legislation to be re-implemented by Westminster, and outrage public opinion in Scotland to the point where a unilateral declaration of independence wouldn't be out of the question) ...

13:

THIS: is that Brexit is a utopian nation-building program And, therefore, like christianity or communism can neither end, nor - ever - succeed. And also - can only end badly. OOPS! Jumped the gun - you have said exactly the same thing - though it needs repeating, repeating, repeating ......

So they keep blundering about blindly violating legal agreements that trigger, or will eventually trigger, sanctions by their trading partners. Disagree - it is entirely deliberate - they know exactly what they are doing, so that instead of the Jews or the Catholics the external & internal enemy to be constantly fought against is the "evil empire of the EU" [ See also your red meat comment + "dead cat" ]

What about the "anti-focus groups - like me - 75 & well-educated?

I seem to have hit the jackpot - you too are using the word "Juche" - I wonder how long before that leaks into the MSM?

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ OTOH - sooner or later & it's beginning to look like sooner, the whole thing will implode. Collapses, don't happen, then they happen slowly & then all hell breaks loose - & we are about halfway through the "slow" phase. Also / AIUI, about 5-10% of those who were conned into voting "leave" are either regretting it already, or strongly tending that way.

Simon Farnsworth 😄

Charlie @ 8 Even more spot on - & although ( because Trump ) we have already seen this, the opposition parties, all of them are still playing catch-up

Fazal Better than having all the land controlled by faceless corporations, any day of the week

^^^^ Final note: Be very careful of the transphobia wars. I know two strong exponents of female emancipation, shall we say - who are also both against most of the "trans" arguments - they are "TERF'" if I understand you correctly. Neither is what you might call an right/white-winger. Um, err ...

14:

As an european that believes in the EU, I've been following this sorry debacle for too long.

All I can say is: I'm sorry for us all.

I can't see any long term solution, if the EU continues to exist successfully, other than the UK rejoining at some point, quite possibly not all parts at the same time. And certainly in a much humbler place.

15:

You are incorrectly assuming that becoming a republic would solve anything. The problem is not with being a monarchy (as the other ones in Europe show), but the way that the electorally successful oligarchy and chief demagogue have near-absolute powers, including being able to change the constitution at whim and override, appoint and control the judicial system. The USA (inter alia) is also a clear example of why a second chamber, elected in a comparable way to the first, is little or no help. Do you SERIOUSLY think that TPTB would change any of that if they replaced the monarch by an elected president?

I should be interested in seeing a serious blog entry from you (sometime) about WHY and HOW a republic would improve things, but I flatly refuse to swallow the dogma that just scattering 'democratic' fairy-dust will automatically achieve anything.

16:

Re the TERF wars: gender is not simple, and there are some extremely difficult social and ethical questions, with important practical consequences, about any form of inter- or trans-sexuality. Unfortunately, this has become religious, with all the problems that implies.

17:

I should be interested in seeing a serious blog entry from you (sometime) about WHY and HOW a republic would improve things, but I flatly refuse to swallow the dogma that just scattering 'democratic' fairy-dust will automatically achieve anything.

I'm going to go a step further and suggest that democracy -- or at least what we have now and label democracy -- has severe failure modes which are becoming glaringly evident, and we may not be able to fix them in time.

Our current combined education/communication environment has given us the crazification factor of 25%, through a combination of ignorance, radicalization, and plain old human perversity. It used to be received wisdom that to make a revolution stick you needed to get roughly 10% of the population on your side. Now look at the likes of QAnon in the US, which appears to be a conspiracy theory run like an augmented reality game, and tell me it isn't a dangerously pre-revolutionary situation? Some random griefer has gotten worryingly close to fomenting an uprising in the USA -- not even Trump, although that's another intersecting chaos vector, but someone we can't identify.

Our public political culture is febrile and unstable. Meanwhile, our politicians holding office and a mix of technocrats and grifters, and none of them are questioning the merits of technocracy and/or grift as a way of running things.

Really, it feels a lot like our systems of government, like our corporations, are slow AIs with human components -- and they've all been co-opted into serving a paperclip maximizer called "capitalism". (The paperclips it is building are, well, any process that turns natural resources -- including people and imagination -- into capital.)

I'm not going to advocate totalitarianism as a solution, but it feels as if reforming the system from within is a futile dream at this point -- we have limited time to get the paperclip maximizer shut down before it roasts us in our own waste heat, and politics as usual isn't cutting it.

18:

No: the problem is that human rights cannot and must not be conditional and a sub-group of feminists have decided they can't coexist with another category of person in public spaces ... and in turn, Christo-fascist groups like the Heritage Foundation have pumped money into them and deliberately spread their transphobic ideas to the far right (hence the GC's, "gender criticals", who are largely male right-wingers: see also Glinner).

Transgender people deserve human rights as much as anyone else, and any attempt to deprive them of rights -- for example, the right to go to the bathroom in public -- is an attack on the universality of rights.

Do I really have to spell out to you where this is going?

Hint: would you deprive Jewish people of the right to go to the bathroom in public places? Or non-white people? Because the "bathroom attacks" on transgender people are exactly the same thing, with the same dismal false justifications, as all the other bigotry we've seen. And lest we forget, the queer and trans community were targeted by the Nazis in Germany, and by the NYPD at Stonewall -- it was explicitly an attack on a bar frequented by gay/transwomen that kicked off the rioting. The homophobic right always start by going after the trans, because they're a softer target than the much more numerous and socially privileged male gay community. And it ends in punitive laws and then prison camps if you let it get started -- every time.

19:

(Note for non-British: "Tory" == "Conservative"; its a historical thing.)

This Wikipedia page has an up-to-date chart of poll results for the UK. The Tories have been steadily losing ground since May, and if the trend continues then Labour might actually go into the lead in a month or three.

This wouldn't turn directly into a HoC majority for Labour of course; the Conservatives have an edge in the votes-to-seats ratio because of the way that constituencies work (a bit like the one in the USA); Labour constituencies tend to be urban and strongly Labour, while Conservative constituencies tend to be rural and weakly Conservative. However it is a very real trend, and unless BoJo can turn it around by 2024 he is going to lose.

His problem with Europe is that voters are getting sick of it. Remainers are saying "told you so", while Brexiteers are saying "I thought it was supposed to be done by now: why are we still arguing about fishing and Northern Ireland?". This is only going to grow; Boris managed to win the last election with "Get Brexit Done", but that won't work next time. One of the problems for the Conservatives at the last election was the Brexit Party, which may have taken enough Conservative voters in some marginal seats to hand victory to Labour. So endless arguments with the EU really doesn't look like an election winner for the Conservatives in 2024; doing so mobilises Remainers to vote Labour and Brexiteers to vote Brexit Party while sending his base to sleep.

Meanwhile down at the bottom of the graph the Greens are on a roll. If this continues they might actually replace the Lib Dems as the number 3 party. Their potential is limited by their constitutional inability to present as a party of government, but at the very least their growth is going to make the two main parties pay a lot more attention to shoring up their green wings; note Boris's recent rhetoric on the topic. This should be much easier for Labour because the Conservatives are identified as the party of (big, environmentally unfriendly) business, but on the other hand the Greens are more likely to take away Labour votes than Conservative ones in an election. Unfortunately with Keith "Interesting" Starmer at the helm Labour are just sleepwalking. They might sleepwalk to victory, but its still just sleepwalking.

20:

I would say that Brexit is not an end in itself, but a means. The Tory right has always wanted to do what they are implementing now, I.e moving to a more American model. The E.U got in the way of this, thus it had to go. The reason for the incompetence in doing it is that there was no plan, as all the Brexiteers and indeed the Tory right in general are just puppets doing others bidding, with a side order of personal gain. Who the puppeteers are vary, whether it be people looking to weaken the E.U, people looking to profit in things such as a privatised health service, those looking to expand their influence, those who want to establish some kind of neo-feudalism (I agree with our host that this is not currently feudalism) or some combination of the above.

While Thatcher and her ilk were certainly ideologues, I'm not sure that applies to the current crop of Tories. People like Dominic Raab may have been paid by Tufnell st. thinks tanks/lobby groups to have opinions, such as, ironically, his book "The assault on liberty", but does he actually have an opinion? The man appears to be a cretin. Rishi Sunak is an oligarch by marriage. Boris Johnson a self-interested egotist etc. Are there even any ideologues in politics anymore? People who want influence stay out of politics because it is more effective to pay politicians to get what they want, than to enter politics themselves. Or indeed to buy/create media outlets. It is quite clear you do not need an idea in your head to be successful in politics. In the States the right seem to be reduced to recruiting candidates via a talent agency, this is how bankrupt the right has become. They made Thatcher and Reagan look like sophisticated thinkers. The people behind them on the other hand may be driven by ideology, or not as the case may be. I think generally people pick an ideology to fit their feelings, and the rich pick an ideology that fits their feeling of superiority. The rich are driving our current crop of fools and charlatans as money is the only currency they all understand, and it is very effective.

21:

I think you ascribe too much intentionality to the Tory right.

What I believe happened was: certain newspaper magnates wanted to punish David Cameron for setting up the Leveson Enquiry, even though he chickened out of implementing its recommendations -- it was highly embarrassing to Rupert Murdoch, the Barclays, etc. So the Mail, the Times, the Express, the Telegraph, and other Tory leaning newspapers pushed Brexit -- the agenda of a bunch of rabid right-wing back-benchers (John Major's "bastards" from 1992-94). They were marginal in 2010-14. But to shut the bastards up, Cameron -- who had won two referenda, on electoral reform and Scottish independence -- promised them a referendum if the Tories won the 2015 election. Which stopped them defecting to UKIP and costing Cameron his majority in the Commons ... but led him going into the referendum with the news media lining up to take shots at him.

It really is that crudely transactional! No great Atlanticist conspiracy, just a bunch of deeply stupid knuckle-dragging goons who couldn't get over the end of the empire, and a handful of corrupt press oligarchs who resented even the hint that their rampage might be reined in.

22: 14 - Well, independent Scotland today would start negotiations to rejoin the EU tomorrow, aiming to be in a similar place to Denmark, Ireland and Netherlands (based on similar population etc). 20 and #21 - I think you're both assuming that the Con Party i=under Bozo actually does planning, or even competence.
23:

Generally, we don't hear much about Wales in Scotland. I blame this on the Englis "British" Broadcasting Corporation.

Back in the 70s I heard a joke that shows this isn't a new problem:

"The BBC was testing a set-top box with three buttons to allow instant polling on matters of public interest. The English buttons were marked Yes, No, and Don't Know. The Scottish buttons were marked Aye, Nay, and Ah Dinna Ken. The Welsh button were blank, because who cared what the Welsh think."

If that joke could make it all the way to Saskatchewan it must have been pretty common in the UK.

24:

take as much of OUR STOLEN TAXES back as we can though any means possible

Except they're not limiting themselves to 'taxes stolen from us', they also want the 'taxes stolen from everyone else'. For all their rants against "socialism" and "wealth-redistribution", they're quite on board with both as long as they are the beneficiaries. Just as they're in favour of free speech as long as you say what they approve of, gun rights as long as they're the ones with the guns, etc.

25:

Charlie @ 17: I'm not going to advocate totalitarianism as a solution, but it feels as if reforming the system from within is a futile dream at this point -- we have limited time to get the paperclip maximizer shut down before it roasts us in our own waste heat, and politics as usual isn't cutting it.

The problem isn't reforming the system from within, its figuring out what an alternative system would look like. To paraphrase Churchill, capitalism is the worst form of economic system except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.

There are many ways in which capitalism could be improved. My favourite would be the introduction of a basic income that people could actually live on, with the rest of social security being relegated to edge cases like paying for mobility scooters.

I've said it here before, and I'll say it again: I would really like to see someone propose a credible alternative to capitalism. Until then I will oppose any proposal to overthrow capitalism, because whatever fills the power vacuum will be far worse. Unfortunately all the proposals I have seen fall into two camps: 1. systems driven by rainbows and unicorns, and 2. kinder gentler versions of capitalism. The latter isn't ending capitalism, it is reforming it from within. See above.

Now look at the likes of QAnon in the US, which appears to be a conspiracy theory run like an augmented reality game, and tell me it isn't a dangerously pre-revolutionary situation?

I completely agree, and in fact posted to that effect here some years ago, well before the 2020 election. I didn't identify QAnon because IIRC it wasn't a thing back then, but I did point out the increasing divide between the ethnic Republicans and the ethnic Democrats, to the point where they couldn't actually have a conversation because too many words meant different things to each side, and predicted that if this were to continue then civil war was the inevitable outcome.

The new factor in all this is social media, and Facebook in particular. However its no good just hating on Mark Zuckerberg. If the Lord of Facebook were defeated then yet another Dark Lord would arise to replace him.

I would tentatively identify the problem as being the algorithmic amplification of crazy. In the past crazy was linear; the amount of crazy you saw was proportional to the number of crazies, and so the ability of any individual crazy to infect others with their crazy was limited. But algorithmic amplification has created a whole new ecosystem for memes where new crazy memes can rapidly evolve and find new hosts. As a result crazy has gone exponential.

The UK "Online Harms" bill is trying to grapple with this, as are a bunch of US politicians. Some of them have gotten as far as realising that having the government order private companies to run censorship is a bad idea. Others see it as an opportunity to grab power. But nobody has any really good ideas about what to do.

Anyone here got any suggestions?

26:

EC @ 16 Thank you & exactly. I'm not sure, as with abortion, that any male, either homo-or-hetero...sexual can say anything useful about this. It certainly appears to be loaded with raw Nitroglycerine in terms of debate & rationality, from anyone at all - hence my: "Be very careful" warning.

Charlie @ 17 ... democracy -- has severe failure modes which are becoming glaringly evident ONLY because some deliberate arseholes have decided that they can game the system. ALL OF THEM are right/white wingers: Trump / BoZo / Poland / Hungary / Erdogan ... And their nasty followers, who have crawled out of the swamp to support them. In the case of Brexit, a lot of people are already having second thoughts, but the time of the collapse is not yet & a lot of damage can be ( & probably will be ) done in the meantime.

@ 18 Sorry, but disagree with your premise .... but ... at the same time - I suspect you are correct about the chistofascists. And yet - what about those females who are emphatically NOT christofascist, who are yet very unhappy? And yet - you are also entirely correct about Human Rights being indivisible. Oh shit, it gets complicated.

Paul Brexiteers are saying "I thought it was supposed to be done by now: why are we still arguing about fishing and Northern Ireland?" Yes, they are ... getting tired of it & SOME of them are beginning to suspect they have been conned, as is the case.

Toby Your first para is on the mark. One thing about Thatcher ... whatever her many faults, she would never, ever have fallen for the anti-EU shit being pushed by BoZo & Grease-Smaug, and the loss of markets & trade. Bloody fuck, she was one of the prime movers of the Single Market!

paws But the complete lack of planning & competence will trash them, quite soon - I hope

27:

Johnson is shoveling red meat into the gimp cage on a daily basis

Did you mean to type "chimp cage" by any chance?

28:

I remember hearing about an attempt to repeal the Clean Air Act, and suggesting that the bill's sponsor should change his surname to "Re-Smog".

29:

Toby @ 20: The Tory right has always wanted to do what they are implementing now, I.e moving to a more American model. The E.U got in the way of this, thus it had to go.

I don't think so. In fact Thatcher didn't just pull the UK to the economic right, she pulled Europe quite a long way as well. The Single Market (the clue is in the name) was a Thatcherite policy, and Thatcher made it stick so well that people forget it was one of her big ideas.

30:

Me @ 25: I completely agree, and in fact posted to that effect here some years ago, well before the 2020 election.

Found it @ 155, although it turns out I was riffing on something someone else had said. Still something I've been thinking for some years.

31:

@18

Yes, there are many women[1] who seem very distressed, and I think for at least some this distress is genuine.

This is because they have been told the lie[2] that trans women are disproportionately sexual predators and thus are very dangerous.

But lying that a minority group is full of dangerous predators IS THE THING YOU MUST NOT DO. And we equally have a moral obligation to push back against this lie where it appears.

As OGH points out, this is the lie that has been used to justify horrific violence against trans women, foreigners, lesbians, gay men, black people, older unmarried women, etc etc etc on back into history.

[1] "Females?" Seriously? I thought people who call women "females" were laughed off the internet in 2014

[2] "Self-id" laws, which we are told will turn every bathroom in the UK into the Thunderdome, have been in effect in other countries for years (e.g. Ireland in 2015) with no sign of any increase in assaults.

32:

It's long seemed to me that Johnson is in fact a fairly rudimentary paperclip maximizer, where the paperclips he's maximizing are Johnson. Johnson doesn't care about brexit, about the climate[*], or actually about anything other than achieving maximum johnson.

This has good and bad sides I think.

It's good for two reasons. (1) Because he's just a maximizer he has no real agenda: he's not (in this view) some evil dictator who really wants, say, to kill some group he doesn't like, he just wants more johnson. (2) Because he is pretty rudimentary, and all he can do, really, is gradient ascent I think so he's pretty likely to get stuck in local maxima. Indeed, he probably already has got stuck in one: brexit increased the johnson, but he's now stuck on top of his little brexit hill with nowhere to go.

It's bad also for two reasons. (1) Nothing says the local johnson maxima are not in themselves very bad places to get stuck. (2) He can't get down from them, and that's bad. For instance, he can never apologise and never be wrong because this involves temporary decrease in johnson and his algorithm won't accept this. So when he gets stuck and things turn out not to be great, it must always be someone else's fault: the Europeans, the elites, remainers, the 'woke', whoever. And as things fall apart his need to find others to blame to avoid johnson reduction becomes more serious and there's no real limit to this until all the groups he blames no longer exist, and this is largely the same outcome as the evil dictator case.

So, actually, it really doesn't have any good sides, except possibly that he could be somehow fooled as he's not terribly smart and all that has to be done to fool him is to garden-path his algorithm as there's not really a person in there with beliefs etc.

[*] The climate thing is a good example which is well explained by the johnson-maximizer theory. Does he actually care about climate? No, because it's not johnson. Because he's also a rather primitive maximizer, he also isn't competent to understand that taking it seriously might also enable longer-term johnson maximization: that's exactly the kind of thinking he can't do (and he might even be, coincidentally, right in terms of johnson maximization: by the time it really bites he'll be dead). So why does he seem to care? Well, obviously sex. Carrie does care about the climate, and Carrie provides his current supply of sex, and sex is critical to maximizing johnson. So Johnson 'cares' about the climate. When Carrie is replaced in due course, he will no longer care.

33:

A partial solution would include rightwing hereditary press barons, lampposts, and carefully measured lengths of rope.

34:

random P.S. the division of radical feminists who went down the road labeled "if biology is the root cause of womens' oppression, welp, we'e going to have to fix biology" are good fun to read and extremely sci-fi; I recommend Shulamith Firestone.

35:

I fully agree, which is the reason I don't have any time for the claim that abolishing the monarchy would do anything useful.

36:

This is because they have been told the lie[2] that trans women are disproportionately sexual predators and thus are very dangerous.

I don't think the concern is that trans women are sexual predators, its that any sexual predator can put on a skirt and say "I'm a trans woman, so you have to let me in here".

37:

Abolishing the monarchy would do two things:

a) It signals that the nation in question is trying to ditch hereditary elitism,

b) The monarchy is inherently discriminatory insofar as it creates a second class of citizenship -- the class who are eligible to be head of state, but may not vote or run for office in the legislature. And aside from that first (privileged) trait which will ultimately apply to almost none of them, these people are clearly second class citizens: People who can't vote or run for office.

(This leaves aside (c) the royals are essentially conscripts through accident of birth, and (d) all the religious trappings specific to certain monarchies -- the Church of England, the Thai King's special status in Buddhism, the Japanese Emperor ...)

38:

I don't think the concern is that trans women are sexual predators, its that any sexual predator can put on a skirt and say "I'm a trans woman, so you have to let me in here".

In practice, in the real world, this does not happen.

(Male sexual predators generally don't bother wearing protective camouflage, especially "protective camouflage" that draws attention to them from their targets.)

The bullshit about the "threat" posed by transgender people is basically scare stories spun by bigots which recapitulate earlier scare stories. Urban legends, in other words. Look at QAnon and the child abuse ring in the pizza parlour, and its weird resemblance to the anti-semitic Blood Libel (which goes back so many centuries that when it was first recorded it was a blood libel against Christians, back before it became the official religion of the Roman Empire). This shit is pernicious, it follows classical patterns going back to antiquity, and it's almost entirely baseless.

If you heard someone ranting and trying to spread the anti-Jewish Blood Libel, what would you think of them? Because that's how you should view people trying to spread equivalent libels about transgender people. Period.

39:

Most of the British press was rabidly anti-EU long before the Leveson Enquiry. That's the toxic miasma in which a young Boris Johnson learned the trade of post-truthiness journalism, after all (as well as other obscenities like complaining gun control after the Dunblane Massacre would be like a nanny taking away toys).

I've read theories that Rupert Murdoch has always despised the traditional British Establishment for looking down at him as an Aussie upstart, and much of the mischief he does in the UK is motivated by revenge. That would explain his support for Thatcher, or her understudy Blair.

40:

paul YES - the latter. My wife, herself "something of a feminist" says: "I don't want anybody with a penis in my lavatories/restrooms" Who am I to argue? As I said, I'm not sure men have any place in this discussion & I do find it confusing

Fazal Majid no, actually. Murdoch is very simply ... a selfish shit. He's a Murdoch-Maximiser, if you like. The word, really is: "Sociopath" Even for BoZo who projects an image of "loveable rogue", but is actually amazingly selfish & spiteful

41:

The important question is not whether that can happen – obviously it can – but whether there is evidence that is does happen. If it doesn't, actually, happen, or almost never happens, then the fear that it could in theory happen is likely disguising something else.

As another example: the johnsonites are proposing legislation that will mean you need photo ID to vote. Crucially, not to live in the UK, just to vote in the UK. The stated motivation is that there is voting fraud ... except, there isn't, in fact, fraud: obviously there could be fraud, but in practice there is almost none. So, what are they actually doing? Well, you won't need photo ID to live here, just to vote, and what sort of people will therefore be less likely to have such ID? Why, young, poor, non-white people, of course: people who are less likely to vote for the johnsonites. How ... very convenient.

So the voter ID thing is, of course, voter suppression. And the sexual-predators-can-pretend-to-be-trans thing is equally something else.

42:

Like all "gender critical" people, you are forgetting (likely) or erasing the existence of trans men, most of which currently possess a vagina and usually a uterus and ovaries also.

TERFs love to erase or deny the existence of trans men, because a single picture of a bearded, muscled, vagina-possessing man taking a picture in the mirror of the restroom "matching their genitals" creates serious confusion in their target audience; to the point where the worst bigots on the planet will aggressively proclaim "Trans men are men!" because they don't understand their terminology. TERFs themselves, as opposed to their marks, say that trans men are poooooor misguided lesbians (there is statistically no shortage or decrease in cis lesbians)

43:

achieving maximum johnson

Double-entendre fully intentional, I presume?

44: 33 - As long as rope'length, after noose is formed is shorter than Lamppost'height - Press_baron'height, does the length matter much? 40 (and maybe various others) - I've used unisex bathrooms, and the biggest issue (which applies to both sexes) is having members of the other sex come up to the door as you are exiting, and having the other apologise to you for their "attempt to use the wrong bathroom", which then ensnares you in trying to explain that there's no apology due because there is only one restroom which is unisex and contains no urinals. 41 - No issues. I totally agree that photo id for voting is an attempt to solve a problem that doesn't exist.
45:

Gesturitis is merely evasion, but I agree with (b) and (c). However, fixing those has sod-all to do with fixing the political dysfunctionality of our society.

46:

Question for OGH:

Do you think London will be so detached from reality that they will send in the military when IndyRef2 goes against them ?

47:

Photo ID for voting is indeed an attempt to solve a very real problem: that problem is that the johnsonites might lose power.

48:

You missed out the real stupidity there.

The reason why a referendum was put into the 2015 was because no-one thought the Tories would win a referendum, the Lib Dems would be needed to create another coalition Government and the referendum would be scrapped as part of the new coalition agreement.

Then a combination of Osbourne running a good campaign and the Lib Dems a terrible campaign alongside the SNP surge gave Cameron enough seats to have no choice and no way out of the referendum.

49:

Ok, all this talk about what to do about "democracy"... I've had some thoughts crystalize as I was reading.

Here ya go, Democracy 2.0, with some serious mods to the US Constitution:

  • No one making more than 10 times the median income is allowed to vote, run for office, or have any other political rights.
  • All political campaigns are publicly funded, period, no other money allowed.
  • Any public media with national distribution, or a value over X, must be non-profit.
  • Public media that meets #3 must allow equal time/space for opposing opinions.
  • Corporations are economic entities. They have no reasonable expectation of any political rights, nor may they require their employees or contractors to lobby the government on their behalf.
  • Corporations, if charged with a crime, the charges must be leveled against their chief executives, who made criminal decisions.
  • How's that for a start?

    50:

    ADMINISTRATIVE NOTE

    ALL comments on TERF/GC objections to transgender civil rights -- and all discussion of public toilet usage -- is now BANNED. Comments are being removed; attempts to repost them or revive discussion on this topic WILL result in a red card.

    This is as much a hot-button topic for me as Nazi anti-semitism. You have been warned.

    51:

    What military?

    They don't even have enough armed services members to make up the shortage of HGV drivers, never mind to occupy an entire country that doesn't want them.

    And a good proportion of the Army are, in any event, Scottish, and unlikely to be happy to be sent to their home territory as a hostile occupation.

    52:

    Meanwhile tory sleazecorruption updates ... Slime & Sewage and corrupt tory bankruptcy

    And, if it seems that this is all of one piece of cloth ... That's because it is!

    53:

    “Public media that meets #3 must allow equal time/space for opposing opinions” Are we sure that equal time for QAnon/antivaxxers/racists/religionists/Republicans is a good idea?

    54:

    Inadequate.

    An essential add-on in the current century is that social media recommendations must not be algorithmically biased to maximize engagement or promote any particular ideology. More subtly: a complete ban on behavioural advertising would be a good idea. There's good evidence that behavioural advertising doesn't work anyway, but it allows Facebook and Google to charge more for ad impressions ... as long as they maximize viewer engagement by pushing extremist content.

    Ideally I'd like to break up google, facebook, and amazon, and probably twitter as well, and require them to run either as non-profits or as public utilities with a genuine public service remit.

    And forget "nobody with 10x average income gets to stand for election or vote"; we probably need to institute a wealth tax with a 100% cut-off above $100M, and increasingly severe deterrents for assets exceeding $5M per person, aside from specific types of family-run businesses (the proverbial family farm, where the book value is mostly land).

    55:

    I can't see any way around them.

    Unless, of course, we simply ban Nazis and Nazi symbols.

    56:

    The problem is that I see that as other than the Constitution-level suggestions I made. That should come under regulation, banning monopolies (other than government-run ones, like the water and sewer....)

    Anything labeled "too big to fail" should be broken up, and no one allowed to reach that size, and "that size" includes wholly-owned subsidiaries, or interlocking boards of directors.

    Regulation of advertising would be a whole new ball game....

    57: 51 - For that matter, the military I know (all 3 services) joined up to serve the nation, not the Con Party. I rather think that even "being English" would not be enough to get them all to form an army of occupation against any one, even Norn Irn these days, of the nations.
    58:

    But this lets me go on Faux "News".

    59: 50: thank you. 49: one problem with "only public financing" is that it very quickly devolves into arguments about what is political. Australia has had a lot of that, notoriously an alleged billionaire running an expensive anti-Labour scare campaign before the last federal election. It was apparently legal because he wasn't advertising for a political party, and thus was not covered by the restrictions.

    Australia has had this problem for a very long time, right back to days when Rupert Murdch's dad was given a newspaper so he could run anti-union propaganda.

    Another problem with "only public financing" is that it must necessarily rule out poltical donations and makes using political volunteers complex. Donations are easy to see, and equally easy to ban. Otherwise people end up being paid to "volunteer" for a party as a way to surreptitiously skirt the laws. We already have this, but it's a crime and occasionally prosecuted.

    But once you rule out donations... who funds MP's offices, and who polices everything the government-funded MPs and staff do, to make sure absolutely none of it is in any way political campaigning (otherwise incumbents get a huge advantage)

    All these problems can be worked around, but the question is why anyone would bother. The people with power obviously already benefit from the current system, and there's no credible threat to the ability to keep doing so. As people keep asking "where are the green and democratic terrorists?"

    60:

    Charlie Stross @ 12: Not arguing those things aren't bad, but they're not feudalism: they're monarchy and/or aristocracy.

    The correct solution is to abolish the monarchy and declare a republic, but realistically England isn't going to go there in any foreseeable future. (Scotland might, but not before both (a) independence and (b) Elizabeth Windsor's death.)

    I thought today's main argument for keeping the monarchy is the amount of tourist revenue it brings in exceeds the cost of upkeep?

    I don't think Charles will be as popular as his Mom, but will the drop in tourist revenue after she passes be enough to unseat him?

    61:

    Actually, he's more popular around here, but not as popular as his wee sister.

    62:

    Regulation? (And similarly to Charlie: behavioural?) Me, I'd just get rid of it entirely. If you want to advertise then you can stick it in something similar to the Friday Ads or Exchange & Mart - publications which contain no content but wall-to-wall adverts - but you do not get to put it on any other kind of publication or associate it with any other kind of content. No posters, no TV adverts, and absolutely not on the internet. So nobody ever gets to see any kind of advert unless they deliberately pick up an actual wad of paper which has all the adverts in.

    You get one size of one font for everyone from Apple to Zeb flogging his old bike. You get one paper with all the adverts in, you don't get to start up your own that only advertises mobile phones or Nazism or whatever (the mere existence of such a thing would constitute an independent advert of itself). All claims must be concrete (you can't just say "washes whiter", you have to say washes whiter than what, and "than other leading brands" won't do, you have to name them) and verified (reflectometry tests certified by independent standards bureau) and use the appropriate SI units for the quantity concerned...

    63:

    Greg Tingey @ 13: ^^^^
    Final note: Be very careful of the transphobia wars.
    I know two strong exponents of female emancipation, shall we say - who are also both against most of the "trans" arguments - they are "TERF'" if I understand you correctly.
    Neither is what you might call an right/white-winger. Um, err ...

    Reminds me of the arguments back during the Clinton administration when he proposed lifting the ban against allowing Gays to openly serve in the military. Some of the most vocal opponents among my acquaintances were female African American soldiers.

    They were not well pleased when I pointed out that their arguments against allowing Gays often echoed almost word-for-word the arguments voiced in 1946 & 1947 against allowing "Negros" to serve in the U.S. military (when Truman was considering his Executive Order desegregating the military).

    I don't find the arguments of modern day TERFs any more reasonable or convincing.

    64:

    Charlie Stross @ 17:

    I should be interested in seeing a serious blog entry from you (sometime) about WHY and HOW a republic would improve things, but I flatly refuse to swallow the dogma that just scattering 'democratic' fairy-dust will automatically achieve anything.

    I'm going to go a step further and suggest that democracy -- or at least what we have now and label democracy -- has severe failure modes which are becoming glaringly evident, and we may not be able to fix them in time.

    But what's going to replace democracy that won't be worse? How do we get a better democracy other than doing all we can to fix the failure modes in the current flawed instance?

    Even if we can't succeed, we have to go down fighting.

    65:

    "And a good proportion of the Army are, in any event, Scottish, and unlikely to be happy to be sent to their home territory as a hostile occupation."

    Interesting thoughts arise around the idea of the Army's oath being to the Crown, not the Government, and the Crown is basically Scottish with the English just being allowed to share it...

    (Last bit is of course getting fanciful, but the first bit is a point that has historically been of significance.)

    66:

    What needs to be enshrined in law is that ads attacking a party, or a candidate, are political, and so banned. And define the difference between "opinion" and what's legally called "contributions in kind". For example, Faux "News" showing Howard Dean, when he was running for President, yelling on stage, which was a std. thing that CEO's and such did, but most folks didn't know", once is legit. Showing it 17 times (they did) is not - that's an attack ad.

    Hah! Let's see them make positive ads.

    And buying a paper, or media now, was std. for someone running for office, or trying to control the government. That's why I said, "non-profit".

    67:

    Nobody expected the referendum to have the result it did. As Charlie pointed out, it was a minority question; apart from Farrago and his associated frothers, nobody was right bothered about it. What was supposed to happen was the referendum coming out heavily in favour of Remain and then everyone would blow a raspberry at Farrago and go "ner ner ner, fuck off back to your pond".

    68:

    Paul @ 36:

    This is because they have been told the lie[2] that trans women are disproportionately sexual predators and thus are very dangerous.

    I don't think the concern is that trans women are sexual predators, its that any sexual predator can put on a skirt and say "I'm a trans woman, so you have to let me in here".

    Does it matter what lie has been used to coerce them? Both lies have consequences for innocent people who just want to live their own lives.

    69:

    Reminds me of the arguments back during the Clinton administration when he proposed lifting the ban against allowing Gays to openly serve in the military. Some of the most vocal opponents among my acquaintances were female African American soldiers.

    Deja vu.

    I seriously wonder if my girlfriend in the USAF (mid-80's) was among them. Yes, she was African American. I have no idea if she was still on active duty during these arguments.

    70:

    "I've read theories that Rupert Murdoch has always despised the traditional British Establishment for looking down at him as an Aussie upstart, and much of the mischief he does in the UK is motivated by revenge."

    I think that's a bit too complex. He's just a wanker. Family trait: he gets it from his dad, who came over to write pejorative reports about the Gallipoli campaign (to be sure there was plenty of scope for that, but he came over in such a spirit that scope would have been found no matter what) partly in order to bugger up the British government in the middle of WW1, and partly to make himself look important.

    71:

    Reminds me of the arguments back during the Clinton administration when he proposed lifting the ban against allowing Gays to openly serve in the military. Some of the most vocal opponents among my acquaintances were female African American soldiers.

    One of the failure modes of activism is assuming that because someone is oppressed they will automatically be allies of all other oppressed people. Often, possibly most often, they have their own prejudices and would willingly oppress groups they don't like.

    72:

    I suspect it has always been thus. And not just for oppressed people who rely on oppressing others (is a female US soldier in Afghanistan really the oppressed in that situation?)

    I'm pretty sure that somewhere in the christian bible is a story about slaves refusing to revolt because they weren't the lowest class of slaves.

    Just because we use new words to describe the problem doesn't mean it's a new problem.

    73:

    I'm going to go a step further and suggest that democracy -- or at least what we have now and label democracy -- has severe failure modes which are becoming glaringly evident, and we may not be able to fix them in time.

    We'll keep being able to fix them, until we can't. There are substantial differences between now and the 1930s (we're running out of oil, for example), but the same "democracy is dead, long live fascism" idea was alive and well then. And yes, a lot of people died, which is the bad part, but democracy wasn't one of the victims. We've been through this before, and just as the utter a-holes are reviving the various lessons they learned in history class, we should too.

    74:

    This looks like a very specifically American way of framing things to me.

    Written constitution: This is a red herring. You need to distinguish between (1) the statute that says "Constitution" in its title, (2) the body of constitutional law. There is no country in which the latter is not a true superset of the former. There is no country in which the entire body of constitutional law is written. There is no country in which the entire body of constitutional law is unwritten either.

    Separation of powers: A complex subject because separation of powers has more dimensions than just the horizontal dimension of keeping "branches of government" apart. I agree that the UK approach could do with some gentle recalibration. The three-branches-of-government model you're probably thinking about, however, was inadequate and outdated the moment it was first explicitly adopted and has failed, often spectacularly, in virtually every polity that has tried it. Designers of modern (post-'45) constitutions are at pains to avoid it. (How many "branches of government" does my native Austria have? Depending on where you fall on the textualist-realist spectrum, answers range from "clearly two, just RTFC" to "anywhere from six to nine but who gives a crap.")

    Judicial review: The glib answer is that there is no such thing as a democracy without judicial review anywhere on the planet. Judicial review e.g. of administrative acts exists even in places where it is technically unconstitutional. (Austrian tradition expressly rules out judicial review of administrative acts; we got around this by setting up special administrative courts that are technically not really courts, so the review they do is technically not judicial.)

    Since what you probably actually mean is judicial review of legislation: On the one hand, there is very little empirical evidence that you need any. (It would be difficult to argue that e.g. the Dutch parliament has signed off on more voter suppression, police thuggery, torture dungeons, abusive expropriation, and assorted other human rights violations than the US Supreme Court.) In fact, there is a decent philosophical case to be made that the decision on whether a given statute is compatible with the constitution properly rests with the body that writes the constitution in the first place.

    On the other hand, the difference in terms of long-term practical effects between the two different fundamental approaches to judicial review of legislation is as great as the difference between either of them and no judicial review of legislation at all. The answer to "why did the UK wait so long to take its meds" is "because they had find out whether they needed thinners or clotters first."

    75:

    Before I took the oath it was expressly pointed out to me by the officer adminstering it that I was swearing to the crown and not to the government of the day. For all practical purposes it makes no difference, unless the monarch sacks the Prime Minister and they try to refuse to go.

    As otherwise noted though, there just aren't enough soldiers who could be relied upon to occupy Scotland in any meaningful way even if the commanders were prepared to accept such an order, which is unlikely.

    76:

    Charlie & whitroth I'd make it x20, but the principle is worth a good examination. As Charlie says, "land" &/or the house you live in have to excepted or downrated, or you are in deep shit.

    JBS & Rbt Prior & Moz What happens when one person ( or group of people's ) Human Rights are being downgraded or denied ... BUT "Fixing" ( Note the quote marks ) that problem promptly oppresses, or seems to oppress another person or group? [ I've just this week come across a similar example, where one minority-group person used his own cultural prejudices to crap all over a member of a different minority group. ]

    AJ @ 75 There are, very occasionally, once every 20-30 years or so ... circumstances where allegiance to "The Crown" actually matters. Illegal orders & the equivalence of loyalty to the US Constitution are cases in point ... For a US case, see 6th January this year? For a UK case, see the attempt by a right-wing Press baron to commit Treason, back in 1968 - scuppered by the "military head" they wanted - telling them exactly where to stick it.

    77: 65 - I already said similar upthread, but said the state and the Con Party rather than the Crown and the Government. 74 - Indeed; one of the reasons why it is so difficult for the UK Con Party to unpick the pieces of Human Rights legislation that they don't like is that they can't just repeal, say, the "Constitution Act (2020)" but have to repeal part or all of several separate Acts (for example, several European Human Rights acts are baked into the various Scotland Acts from 1997 onwards). 75 - Agreed.
    78:

    No right is absolute, and rights often conflict. Sorting that out is hard, not least because different people often prioritise different rights at different times and in different contexts. One common failure of empathy is an inability to understand those problems.

    One common but somewhat extreme example is people who voluntarily surrender their right to life because they think some other right is more important. In Australia for a while it was common for landowners to prioritise maintaining their land over their own lives, for example, and there are quite a few jobs people do that involve putting their own lives at risk to protect others. So even saying "the right to life is the most important one" means you're arguing that some people shouldn't have the right to self-determination.

    But we also see a lot of conflict where people value their right to a comfortable sense of their own superiority over the lives of others. Thus we get the destruction of Iraq, the climate catastrophe and the recent insurrection in the US.

    It's important to know which rights people are defending and whose lives they're willing to sacrifice in that defence before you get too carried away joining one side or the other. I have been embarrassed before to find myself on the side of the killers, and knowing that most of the people around me did the same with no shame at all did not make me feel better. Which is why stories like "The ones who walk away from Omelas" have such resonance for me. That's the short version of works like Peter Singers "Famine Affluence and Morality".a

    79:

    I suggest the Queendom of Scotland, with the succession running Elizabeth → Anne → Zara → …

    80:

    FWIW, that argument about "men will dress up to get away with being in female spaces" has been around for at least 2 decades; I first encountered it as part of an argument that anyone choosing to wear Islamic dress (specifically the combination of an abaya with a burqa or niqab, but the source of the argument suggested it should be generalised to all forms of hijab) should be jailed for life or ideally executed, because an abaya and niqab or burqa hides your identity so thoroughly that men would just choose to wear them in order to go and commit crimes.

    That version failed in the marketplace of ideas - the racism behind it was obvious to enough people - but the base idea of "men will disguise themselves as women to get away with rape" has clearly been reused by the bigots for a new campaign. The underlying goal is the same, however - identify a minority group that you can vilify, take away their humanity, and then rinse, wash, repeat until you're an oppressor in charge.

    81:

    Moz I never said it was easy ....

    Bo Willie V/III is likely to be very popular ...

    82:

    Over Anne's dead body. She is fully worthy, and more, but has done her damnedest to shield her children from the media circus.

    83:

    "As otherwise noted though, there just aren't enough soldiers who could be relied upon to occupy Scotland in any meaningful way even if the commanders were prepared to accept such an order, which is unlikely."

    I think both you and OGH misunderstood the thrust of my question:

    No, it obviously will not work.

    But are they going to do it /anyway/ ?

    I'm asking because that is pretty much a summary of everything the government has been doing since it came to power...

    84:

    Most likely, given past form for ABdPJ, is that it'll be proposed. The laundry list of issues with the order will be made clear, and the public reaction will be gauged. If the public think it's a bloody stupid idea (as they did with letting Paterson off the hook), a U-turn will be performed, and it will never be something that the government considered.

    85:

    P H-K SOMEONE tried it .... MET + Welsh police in Glasgow - apparently "Police Scotland" were not entirely happy about this. SOMEONE ordered this - Patel?

    In the meantime, crooked slime updates ( Maybe we should keep a list? ) ONE and TWO Depressing ...

    86:

    Unless, of course, we simply ban Nazis and Nazi symbols.

    That works in Germany. I don't see any reason it can't work elsewhere -- the USA, for example.

    Before you say "first amendment!" I think you need to scrap your constitution and start again, anyway. It was a good first stab at the problem, but it's nearly 250 years old and has glaringly obvious flaws in today's light.

    87:

    TERFs are loathesome - not merely are they ignoring the fact that gender is not a simple matter, they are discriminating against intersex people.

    88:

    I thought today's main argument for keeping the monarchy is the amount of tourist revenue it brings in exceeds the cost of upkeep?

    It'll still bring in tourist revenue after it's stripped of constitutional and legal power. Consider all the museums to the Romanov's in Russia, for example. (We don't need to shoot them, just remove their role as head-of-state and replace them with something else.)

    89:

    You get one size of one font for everyone from Apple to Zeb flogging his old bike. You get one paper with all the adverts in, you don't get to start up your own that only advertises mobile phones or Nazism or whatever (the mere existence of such a thing would constitute an independent advert of itself).

    Ahem.

    This blog is an advert.

    90:

    Possibly. But (partly courtesy That Blair), they may call in companies like Academi, swear them in as police, and permit them to use assault rifles and deadly force. Yes, the Home Secretary can do that without reference to Parliament.

    91:

    But what's going to replace democracy that won't be worse? How do we get a better democracy other than doing all we can to fix the failure modes in the current flawed instance?

    It seems to me that the quality of a democracy is a direct product of the quality of the electorate. Which in turn depends on education and information.

    As long as education is a political football, the output will be predisposed to comply with the agenda of those who dictate the curriculum. And as long as news is treated as entertainment, ditto.

    This discounts parental inputs, which is ... not entirely a mistake: we can overcome inherited familial practices and biases with good education and information, but it may take several generations to weed out the more pernicious shit.

    (The USSR only lasted for 70 years, which was not nearly long enough to get there. A better example of education/information plus generational change -- as an example of the practice, not saying the output is good or useful -- would be the Catholic Church indoctrination process.)

    Public education wasn't a thing -- or considered desirable -- back when the US constitution was drafted (hint: draftees were wealthy white men, mostly slave-owners).

    92:

    Greg: What happens when one person ( or group of people's ) Human Rights are being downgraded or denied ... BUT "Fixing" ( Note the quote marks ) that problem promptly oppresses, or seems to oppress another person or group?

    I'd say that if that happens, then either the diagnosis, or the prescription, or both, are invalid.

    (A general principle of government should be -- note that I'm talking of ideals here, not how things are in the world we live in -- that civil rights are maximized.)

    (Note that a key civil right is the right to an inhabitable biosphere, whether on earth or off it.)

    93:

    ... At which point the optics include Police Scotland (who are armed -- in some parts, notably the Highlands, the cops all drive around with guns because the nearest armed response unit is half an hour away by helicopter) in shoot-outs with foreign mercenaries paid by Westminster.

    Yeah, I see no way in which that could rapidly swing public support behind a breakaway Scottish government, especially in the wake of a vote for independence. Right.

    (Note that we got a no-guns/no-mercenaries low-intensity preview of that today in Glasgow: Police criticised over raid on Glasgow squat housing Cop26 activists -- it was the London Met and Welsh forces acting out with a battering ram, when Police Scotland turned up they turned the temperature down immediately.)

    94:

    I'm a former Communist, so take my points with a big pinch of salt, but comparing Brexit to the Lenin/early Stalin period is imho wrong. The October Revolution, which imho was the less worst choice in itself, ( does anyone remember Kornilov's putch?) Lenin mismanaged it from the beginning, not allowing a socialist unity Soviet gov't with Srs and Mensheviks, maybe there would have been a smaller Civil war. But after the Civil War he was more an Adam But comparing it to Brexit...not. Unless you compare war ravaged 1917 Europe with "that well-known starving hellhole, the EU"(quote). The NEP was also a period of flowering avant-garde literature and art, Brexit? Rethreading the "stiff upper lip" of WW2? Also, the Revolution had a large soft power abroad, Brexit? aside the various far right -exit parties, it has been a "thing of obloquy and scorn" (Brecht) IMHO a closer comparison would be full blown Stalinism: Kleptocapitalism in one country. Up to and including murder of opponetns like Jo Cox, more police powers (I'd swap a principled, albeit maybe evil Iron Felix with Priti Patel), Remainers and institutions labeled as enemies of the people.

    95:

    *Lenin was more an Adam Burroughs

    frickin' copypaste from Kindle...

    96:

    A mayor issue in democracy's failure mode is ... too much democracy (or something labeled that way, better called "stripping power from ppl who know things", see our Fivestar crusade for "ignorance is strenght"). Alle the way from parents dictating what has to be teaching in school boards (we have them also in Italy, and the far right is waging a war on "gender theory", ie fighting anti LBGT+ bullying) to elected attorneys (request by the League, in order to get judges "hard on darkies") to two years' electoral cycle. (what we haven't the same way the US has , but...regional elections, mayoral elections, referenda...there is always an election looming). I'm not a fan of the Draka government :-), and the Archon being elected for twenty years is too much, expecially for accountability, but should an Italian PM lasting in theory five years but exposed to no confidence vote and snap election, or a POTUS lasting four years or no more than eight capable to deal with long term issues like climate change? The only reasonable compromise is the German "constructive no-confidence", and Angela (Blessed be!) managed to run the long term issues of reunification.

    97:

    Right. If things go there, there would be precisely one way to stop the complete breakup of the UK: HM to declare martial law, suspend and arrest the government, send the army in to kick out the mercenaries, and announce a constitutional convention, with a remit including complete Scottish independence from Westminster. Somehow I don't see it.

    I don't THINK the gummint would do what I said, but it was one of the scenarios that concerned people when That Blair made the changes. The almost unlimited ability to license the use of military weapons to foreign forces is much older, of course.

    98:

    Quote from the "Indy" on BoZo & his crew: "In common with any other independent body that displeases Johnson, parliament is a candidate for being roughed up and castrated. The Supreme Court, the civil service, the BBC, various standards watchdogs, the Lords, the Electoral Commission, the Charities Commission, the EU Treaty, regulators such as Ofcom and even universities are all given the same treatment – a culture war, some threats to funding, the clipping of their wings and the installation of cronies." [ Remainers and institutions labelled as enemies of the people. Thank you Marino_bib ]

    Which leads to Charlie @ 91 the quality of the electorate. Which in turn depends on education and information. Quite Something both I & EC have been banging on about for some time, now. Thanks for re-referencing that business in Glasgow - but -WHO ORDERED THAT? MetPlod or CymruPlod warrants are not valid in Scotland, are they?

    Is BoZo trying for a coup, before he's overthrown by slightly-less-rabid tories?

    99:

    Personally, I've always thought the best argument against abolishing the monarchy is the question of who might be elected to whatever office we choose to replace it with. As our host notes, a democracy is only as good as the kind of voters its education system and news media produces; going from a constitutional monarchy to a republic won't fix any of the underlying issues we have with both of those.

    100:

    "but the same "democracy is dead, long live fascism" idea was alive and well then"

    fringe Nazis and outspoken Fascists are street soldiers and often winning candidates at local elections within mainstream right parties like the Italian League or Brothers of Italy, an Italian journalist named Paolo Berizzi lives under police surveillance due to death threats. Verona, the city of Romeo and Juliet is a Fascist enclave where nobody rented a place to Berizzi for speaking about his last book, the soccer hooligans sing "Our team is shaped like a swastika and our coach is Rudolph Hoss". And Orban's and the Polish gov't and the whole bunch of Modi, Bolsonaro, Putin, the Japanese PM showing inside a plane with a 731 wing sign (Unit 731, anyone?) aren't techically fascists in the 1930's meaning. But close enough for government work (or for the International Brigades 2.0)

    101:

    Thanks for re-referencing that business in Glasgow - but -WHO ORDERED THAT?

    Whenever there's a big international shindig in Scotland -- G7, COP26, whatevs -- they draft in police forces from all over the UK to help. Police Scotland is one of the larger forces but it's not large enough to handle the extra demands of a summit conference on top of its regular duties. And they follow their own chains of command, with inputs from PS liaison officers.

    102:

    What happens when one person ( or group of people's ) Human Rights are being downgraded or denied ... BUT "Fixing" ( Note the quote marks ) that problem promptly oppresses, or seems to oppress another person or group?

    A lot of people seem to equate "removing the edge my pigmentation/religion/gender/family gives me" with "oppressing me". When you're used to getting the biggest slice of pie, having to share it equally feels like something is being taken away from you — and it is, but is that really oppression?

    I'd say a lot of the problem comes from the messiness of real life, so real life examples are useful. They also serve to distinguish between things that might happen and things that do happen (and how frequently they happen, assuming that proper statistics are available, of course).

    Also useful is remembering the legal adage "hard cases make bad law".

    And also "every system can be gamed".

    103:

    Yes, it looks like Patel or Dick, but it could well have been at a much lower level. Even in the latter case, why did their superiors choose the particular local commander and what remit did they give them? So the answer is probably not clear.

    104:

    Remember the joke that the best argument against republicanism was just two words: President Blair?

    105:

    Sorry, I have to stop reading early to respond right away to

    ... traitors or insufficiently-enthusiastic wreckers must be at fault. (See also Bolshevism in the Lenin/early Stalin period.)

    That there is High Stalinism you're talking about, if you're talking about what I think you're talking about.

    Lenin and Leninism have many faults, but being incapable of executing a 180 to abandon a bad line was not one of them. There are too many "if Lenin had been in charge" counterfactuals for any of them to be worth much, but if Lenin had been in charge things would not have got to a pass where the Promparty Trial sounded like a good idea to anybody.

    106:

    Yes, we Americans need a new Constitution. But given the current state of political division, what we'd get would be far more likely to be worse than what we have now.

    107:
    Remember the joke that the best argument against republicanism was just two words: President Blair?

    Today, the most likely candidate for UK President is Michael Gove.

    Just ask yourself who it is the Boris Johnson wishes to "shunt upstairs". Everyone else in the cabinet is just a nodding parcel-shelf ornament.

    108:

    If the Beige Dictatorship is the failure mode of Democracy, the failure mode of the Beige Dictatorship is when the party of the opimates gets taken over taken over by pure factionalists who will do or say anything to "win," and what's left of the Press after having been done over by the Beige Dictatorship is unable to say anything. Because the party of the optimates presumptively always has the best intentions and is by definition incapable of subversion.

    109:

    (The USSR only lasted for 70 years, which was not nearly long enough to get there. A better example of education/information plus generational change -- as an example of the practice, not saying the output is good or useful -- would be the Catholic Church indoctrination process.)

    I think I understand what you are trying to say, but not sure. Why did you bring up USSR at all, if it is not a good example?

    110:

    Not that I see any realistic path for its implementation, but my personal take about the failure mode of the democratic states how they are right now is that it's becoming more and more urgent to recognize a fact that have been at least hinted many times in the past centuries but never truly really acted upon. News and media, and information in general, should really be a fourth branch of government, like the old expression fourth estate hinted to. I of course do not mean it in a "state propaganda" kind of way, not anymore than a secret police is the same thing as the executive branch, but on the other hand, we do not leave (at least in theory) the other powers in the hands of any sufficiently deep-pocketed person around. An "informative" branch, independent from the other branches, with a combination of elective and state servant professionals career paths (I would favor a professional career path, party politics really messed up the old concept of separation of powers otherwise), with a mandate to check the other branches, provide all citizens unbiased and verified information and to fact-check any other source of information, provided with a sufficient budget to not need economic incentives, could be a necessary path for the survival of democracy, as democracy after all it is based on the idea of a properly informed electorate. As we are talking about things-that-will-never-come-to-pass, I would also suggest with such a branch to consider what would happen if we completely abolished advertising. All of it. We could substitute it with stringent laws about product labeling, with the institution of, like, official product reviews magazines that provide a score for each new product released (subject to periodic checks), maybe a host of independent product reviewers... I'm sure that from time to time this or that product/company/magazine would still manage to game the system somewhat, but simply by having them jump enough hops to do it, it should be better than the current system. Also, 3/4 of internet would likely die, but I think most of it the worst part...

    111:

    I think I understand what you are trying to say, but not sure. Why did you bring up USSR at all, if it is not a good example?

    Because it's an example of not long enough. We have an example there of a revolutionary ideological program with complete control over education and media which made a concerted attempt to shift the frame of reference for their public, but failed (going by the speed with which the Orthodox Church came back and Communism collapsed after the end of the regime).

    Seventy years of indoctrination, censorship, and education and still New Soviet Man proved to be impermanent, although other aspects of the program stuck -- post-1991 Russia is clearly more educated than it was pre-1917.

    I suspect to make such a program work requires a duration greater than the upper bound on human life expectancy. Certainly capitalism as we understand it didn't get to the current level of dominance in less than 150 years or thereabouts (arguably longer).

    112:

    EC Now updated to: "President Trump" of course (!)

    Aardvark C See my quote from the "Indy" @ 98, eh? "Opimates" - from late-Roman pre-Caesar politics, yes? IIRC the Optimates were the equivalent of our Plutocratic masters?

    fizz That WAS the BBC - now struggling in BoZo's threatened stranglehold. "Abolish Advertising" ?? Really, including private persons wanting to sell/exchange theor stuff - see "Exchange & Mart" reference, earlier? A very, very bad idea. I think what you mean is abolish all COMMERCIAL Advertising, which is something different, yes?

    113:

    The ongoing discussion about "fixing" democracy is, as one might expect, interesting and smart. However, as I write this, it seems focused on minor (and not-so-minor) tweaks to current political theory and practice. This may not be sufficiently audacious.

    OGH introduced the concept a while back that corporations are large, slow-thinking AIs. It seems reasonable to apply a similar definition to governments. Governmental AIs seem mostly to be much more profoundly composite systems than corporations, but they all exist in a shared notional space, competing for resources.

    If governments can be usefully regarded as slow AIs, then politics (theory and practice) seems to exist in the form of various schemata for operating an AI's commmand-and-control nervous system. Politics expresses itself in multiple ways, based on internal flows of information, influence, and resources.

    This is where the problem comes in. The Internet changes everything, because governmental AIs are learning to think faster. This is likely a difference in kind, not simply in degree.

    Politics has usually been about the tension between two principles or patterns. The first is emergent behavior in a populace. The second is the government's ability to influence the populace toward the government's desired ends.

    What we seem to be seeing is that the transition between slow-thinking and faster-thinking AIs seems to be facilitating emergent behavior, to the disadvantage of the effective functioning of political systems. This is the common thread that seems to join such things as QAnon, Brexit, the building rightwing insurrections in the US, Antivaxx movements, climate denialism...

    And Yes, these eruptions of deeply menacing group behavior and shared delusion were very often triggered by the purposeful acts of some powerful entity -- Facebook, Rhys-Mogg, Murdoch, the Koch family, Putin, the Republican Party, etc etc. That is not the point. The point is that all of these things were turbocharged by the Internet's effect on large-AI thought processes. The further point is that these things seem to be slipping so far out of control that the continued existence of civilization is regressing into 1950s/1960s nuclear standoff levels of peril.

    I... can't see how to fix this. I hope some of the minds here in the commentariat (many of whom are a good deal smarter than I) will offer some useful thoughts.

    114:
    At which point the optics include Police Scotland (who are armed -- in some parts, notably the Highlands, the cops all drive around with guns because the nearest armed response unit is half an hour away by helicopter) in shoot-outs with foreign mercenaries paid by Westminster.

    This Police Scotland you're talking about... what's their institutional history like?

    More to the point, who do they vote for, and were they part of the "yes" vote on independence in this scenario?

    115:

    Nah. If there is anything that would unite every group in Scotland (or most of England, for that matter), it's a foreign invasion. Even with the even more dichotomised Brexit divide, neither side regards a potential victory by the other as justifying foreign invasion (outside a tiny minority). It's not at all like the USA.

    116:

    I suspect there certainly would be enough to occupy Scotland.

    In line, requesting Scottish citizenship.

    117:

    I don't think so. For one, the First Amendment covers more things than freedom of speech - religion, for example.

    On the other hand... I'd say that Nazis could be banned because they explicitly espouse violence against others.

    118:

    We have examples of fairly short periods being adequate, such as in some Pacific islands, but not in a comparable society. We also had a largely clueful electorate until the 1960s, so we know 50 years is enough to dumb one down from an intermediate position. So perhaps a century would be enough, given political will and considerable effort. 150 years may be more realistic.

    119:

    This brought to mind something I've mentioned before: the process of "naturalization".

    Let's see: first generation, remembers the Old Country. Second: tries to move away from their parents, is all New Country Third generation and fourth: looking back at ancestry, and learning something of Old Country. Fifth, that fades, By the seventh generation, you're a native of New Country.

    120:

    Combining the idea of a branch of government and my idea (non-profits only), an agency that, if x complaints come in, reviews stories or media organization. With sufficient evidence, can a) take media to court, and/or b) order either delete, or a required professional counterstory, with the SAME COVERAGE as the original.

    No more retractions in small type on page 17.

    121:

    There are a tremendous variety of democratic systems currently functioning or malfunctioning in the world. There is an entire field of Political Science devoted to comparative studies. Every polity has an immense amount of local social, religious, cultural context that make generalizations hard.

    That being said, I am going to try to reach back into my late Pleistocene grad school memories to dredge up some commonalities and key lessons.

  • The longer a system survives, the stronger it becomes; The longer a system functions the more vulnerable it becomes to grifters who learn how to game the system. There is an analog to video game exploits. When a game is new nobody knows the exploits and short cuts. If a game has been around for awhile everyone can figure out the shortcuts to win - outside the original spirit of the game.

  • Democratic systems have a fatal flaw, which is the Democracy/Stupidity matrix. When the structure of a system turns out to overly reward concentrations of stupidity, the stupid become a political power bloc. In first-past-the post systems that is often territorial. In Proportional Rep. systems it is often some common goals (see: Likud).

  • Instances of stupidity vary between polities, but have many things in common. Tribalism and authoritarianism are key elements. That 27% crazification factor has a strong overlap with the ~20% of any population that is authoritarian. The Venn diagram is a stack of pancakes.

  • It is possible in any system for the unscrupulous to game the rules and ignore unwritten rules in pursuit of personal power. 45 followed the rules he absolutely had to and completely ignored any other rule, shattering many long-held beliefs USians had about their own system. De Pfeffel is doing the same in the UK.

  • The Venn diagram of doom can be found when the wealthy and powerful perceive their goals to be best met by using the stupid/authoritarian to exploit and/or overthrow the democratic system. Not to Godwin, but Hitler's ascension was largely funded by the industrialists who thought he would help crush the unions and stave off the communists*. This is echoed at present in Hungary, Poland, UK and elsewhere.

    • In the eyes of an oligarch anyone who is not an oligarch but wants some kind of power is likely a communist.
  • 122:

    Re: 'We could substitute it with stringent laws about product labeling, with the institution of, like, official product reviews magazines that provide a score for each new product released (subject to periodic checks), maybe a host of independent product reviewers...'

    That was an intended role for the FTC at one time. Interesting how this department got defunded while more funds kept being found for arms, drilling or oil, shale, subsidizing slave wage farms via tax-exemptions got green-lighted.

    https://www.ftc.gov/about-ftc/bureaus-offices/bureau-consumer-protection/our-divisions/division-advertising-practices

    E.g. 'The Division also brings administrative lawsuits to stop unfair and deceptive advertising.'

    Maybe DT's 'mycushion'* best bud might get a visit from them. His product, warranty and customer service are opposite to his claims. His pitch that his product will help you sleep, is better for your neck/back pain can be deemed a 'therapeutic' claim if that's the primary reason people are buying that product.

    • Synonym ... just in case. BTW - BBB rates this outfit as a 'fail' overall - lots of complaints.
    123:

    Re: '... the current government was elected in 2019 on the back of a "let's get Brexit done" campaign.'

    Okay - so if general opinion is that BoJo hasn't the brains to govern/set policy, who's giving him advice and/or stoking/enabling his fantasies?

    Cummings was his primary advisor for BrExit - basically the brains behind that stunt but he got booted out for being an idiot in public, i.e., driving across the UK when he was supposed to stay at home (COVID-19).

    124:

    Any proposition for solutions must consider the potential outcomes. Generally I have a borderline anaphylactic response to attempts to regulate speech and journalism because the failure modes are obvious.

    An article that criticizes the current leader falls afoul of the regulatory body, while one that deifies him does not. The regulatory body is created with non-partisan objectives but ultimately serves the goals of those in power (i.e. how does it respond to an article about the climate crisis published in Alberta?)

    My thoughts now tend towards trying to structure constraints and feedbacks to incentivize positive outcomes and discourage negatives. Then fight long and hard to define what constitutes a positive outcome and where/when. Thousands of jobs in Alberta is a positive outcome, but not if it results in millions of deaths in Bangladesh.

    For journalistic review I'd say it would have to be operated by a lottery. Pick at least 100 adults at random, limit their terms to a couple of years. Make impartiality and sober consideration the highest virtue in the job. Make it a point of pride to have served. Randomization means you keep the 25% crazification within acceptable limits and that you also limit the power of authorities to game the system.

    125:

    This Police Scotland you're talking about... what's their institutional history like?

    Police Scotland was formed in 2013 out of the merger of the previous regional Scottish police forces. It was seen as a cost-saving measure by e.g. merging the police colleges and support side, but it didn't work terribly well. Because Strathclyde was the largest force, it ended up with the senior slots all occupied by Glaswegian cops -- traditionally Presbyterian assholes not too distant from their Ulster Unionist cousins. They lost a lot of local goodwill by imposing Glaswegian zero tolerance policing across the whole country (imagine how well that went down in Edinburgh with its heavy emphasis on being tourist-friendly) but has eased up somewhat.

    They're officially agnostic on politics -- the Police Federation is a state-sanctioned union to negotiate on pay/working conditions but is not legally allowed to strike and is very unlike an American police union.

    126:

    an agency that, if x complaints come in, reviews stories or media organization

    That's more or less what the Leveson Report recommended.

    It's what drove the right-wing press to go hell-for-leather to back the brexiteers as a way of sabotaging David Cameron.

    127:

    Robert Prior @ 71:

    Reminds me of the arguments back during the Clinton administration when he proposed lifting the ban against allowing Gays to openly serve in the military. Some of the most vocal opponents among my acquaintances were female African American soldiers.

    One of the failure modes of activism is assuming that because someone is oppressed they will automatically be allies of all other oppressed people. Often, possibly most often, they have their own prejudices and would willingly oppress groups they don't like.

    That's not an assumption I would make. Not many "oppressed people" or much "activism" in the sample group - a class of NCOs attending EEO (non-discrimination) training.

    It was incongruous considering the setting.

    128:

    This is the common thread that seems to join such things as QAnon, Brexit, the building rightwing insurrections in the US, Antivaxx movements, climate denialism...

    The problem here is that these things are not happening quickly. With the exception of QAnon these are happening on a multi-decade timeframe. The right-wing noise-machine has been doing its thing since the 1990s at least, probably even earlier - how did Reagan get elected? Even QAnon is mainly re-packaged Satanic-Panic plus the ever-popular antisemitism and racism in a new package.

    The problem is that a politician or influence-creator typically says, "I'll just throw a little racism into the mix - it will help sell me as a candidate/movement." The problem is that the next time you try to influence or run for office you have to add a little more racism, and pretty soon the force that politican was riding is now riding that politician.

    Add "a little more" to "a little more" for 30-40 years and pretty soon there's no way to add a little more except to crank up the murder-machine - and we're very close to that point now.

    129:

    Greg Tingey @ 76: JBS & Rbt Prior & Moz
    What happens when one person ( or group of people's ) Human Rights are being downgraded or denied ...
    BUT
    "Fixing" ( Note the quote marks ) that problem promptly oppresses, or seems to oppress another person or group?
    [ I've just this week come across a similar example, where one minority-group person used his own cultural prejudices to crap all over a member of a different minority group. ]

    I think it should be obvious that if you're merely substituting a new "oppressed" group for a previous one you're NOT fixing the problem (with or without the quotes).

    130:

    RED FLAG for new commenter "harrier", who evidently missed the administrative warning at comment 50.

    131:

    Simon Farnsworth @ 80: FWIW, that argument about "men will dress up to get away with being in female spaces" has been around for at least 2 decades; I first encountered it as part of an argument that anyone choosing to wear Islamic dress (specifically the combination of an abaya with a burqa or niqab, but the source of the argument suggested it should be generalised to all forms of hijab) should be jailed for life or ideally executed, because an abaya and niqab or burqa hides your identity so thoroughly that men would just choose to wear them in order to go and commit crimes.

    I would point out that the concern in that instance was NOT that men would use such a disguise to commit sexual assaults against women.

    132:

    Charlie Stross @ 86:

    Unless, of course, we simply ban Nazis and Nazi symbols.

    That works in Germany. I don't see any reason it can't work elsewhere -- the USA, for example.

    Before you say "first amendment!" I think you need to scrap your constitution and start again, anyway. It was a good first stab at the problem, but it's nearly 250 years old and has glaringly obvious flaws in today's light.

    I hope that won't happen. If the Constitution DOES get scrapped, whatever replaces it won't make us MORE free. It won't be Nazis and Nazi symbols that get banned.

    133:

    US police unions aren't allowed to strike, either. But they practice "blue flu" sickouts and they have a level of legal impunity that's scarcely imaginable.

    134:

    Test post

    - it's a picture BoZo seems to tick - reading down the list 1, 2, 3, 5 - probably, 6 - on the way, 7, 9, 10? 11, 12,13, 14 - not yet Not good.

    135:

    I am pretty certain there is no "qualified immunity" in the UK. There's the usual reluctance of cops to break ranks/tell tales, but it's not encoded in law and sometimes they get held to account.

    There is a problem with far-right infiltration in some forces ... and it's led to cops being arrested, dismissed, and even facing criminal charges for membership of proscribed organizations.

    136:

    Not as such, but a recent case indicated that they have something along those lines. I.e. if you or I deliberately killed someone, we would need to show that we reasonably believed they were going to kill us or someone else, to be acquitted. A member of the police has only to show honest belief that they were a (potentially lethal) danger.

    137: 79 - Works for me Bo. Although I am at least partly republican ("r"), that's partly because of people like Speaker to Plants, Edward, Andrew, William and Harry. 82 - I agree, but I think Anne has enough respect for Zara to let her make her own mind up. 101 - There are Polis a' owr the shop, including a transport at each end of the Erskine bridge for no obvious reason. 107 - Doesn't being in the Bozo cabinet act as a strong indication of incompetence?
    138:

    In the US, both police and military, we're actually getting some of them out.

    They quit, rather than get vaccinated.

    139:

    The example crime that was supplied (at least here in the UK) was that men would dress as Islamic women, enter women's toilets, and rape the occupants. They would then leave, and it would be impossible to identify them because they looked like any other person wearing hijab.

    There were even examples supplied from Saudi Arabia where men had done just that, and been executed for raping other people's wives.

    The parallels to the transphobic nonsense of today are striking.

    140:

    Charlie Stross @ 91: Public education wasn't a thing -- or considered desirable -- back when the US constitution was drafted (hint: draftees were wealthy white men, mostly slave-owners).

    Y'all keep saying that, and it never occurred to me to look it up until now.

    There were 55 delegates to the Constitutional Convention; 39 signed the final document. Eleven of them were slave-owners. So, something like 20% slave-owners. Twenty-eight (slightly more than half) were businessmen - merchants, shippers, land speculators or securities traders.

    What percentage of the British Royal Government slave-owners in 1787?

    They were all educated white men (although there has been speculation that Hamilton was mixed race), but access to education was not as restricted as you suggest. The first "free taxpayer-supported public school" in the colonies was founded in 1639. Colonial colleges were primarily for the educating clergy. Lawyers, Doctors, businessmen ... the "professional/managerial class of the day" were trained through apprenticeships.

    Did Britain have free, public education at the time? Did Britain have property requirements for participation in Government at the time? How widespread was the franchise in the U.K. at the time of the American Revolution?

    Who wrote the British "Constitution"? How many landless peasants, yeoman freeholders or members of the proletariat were consulted in producing those documents? Did the U.K. have any slave-holders involved in government at the time of the American Revolution?

    Also note - The U.S. did not exist when the British Royal Government introduced slavery into their North American Colonies. And it was Royal fiat that insisted on maintaining the slave trade ... something Jefferson noted in his draft of the Declaration of Independence:

    He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating it's most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemispere, or to incure miserable death in their transportation hither. this piratical warfare, the opprobium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the Christian king of Great Britain. determined to keep open a market where MEN should be bought and sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce determining to keep open a market where MEN should be bought and sold: and that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he had deprived them, by murdering the people upon whom he also obtruded them: thus paying off former crimes committed against the liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another.

    [Apparently removed from the final text by Jefferson's editors John Adams and Ben Franklin - neither of whom was a slave-owner.]

    141:

    Charlie Stross @ 135: I am pretty certain there is no "qualified immunity" in the UK. There's the usual reluctance of cops to break ranks/tell tales, but it's not encoded in law and sometimes they get held to account.

    There is a problem with far-right infiltration in some forces ... and it's led to cops being arrested, dismissed, and even facing criminal charges for membership of proscribed organizations.

    It's not actually "encoded in law" in the U.S. either. It's a legal fiction that's been accepted by courts similar to the way the idea that corporations are persons has been accepted.

    By law, police only have "qualified immunity" when they don't actually need it, i.e. if they are not breaking the law.

    142:

    Simon Farnsworth @ 139: The example crime that was supplied (at least here in the UK) was that men would dress as Islamic women, enter women's toilets, and rape the occupants. They would then leave, and it would be impossible to identify them because they looked like any other person wearing hijab.

    There were even examples supplied from Saudi Arabia where men had done just that, and been executed for raping other people's wives.

    The parallels to the transphobic nonsense of today are striking.

    Wasn't aware of that happening in the U.K. or Saudi Arabia.

    Every instance of concern I heard expressed in the U.S. was related to "terrorism". Men might dress in the hijab to avoid identification while carrying out terrorist acts, but there was more of a concern that ANYONE (male or female) in a traditional Hijab might be concealing a bomb or weapons.

    OTOH, I don't think I've ever seen anyone actually wear the Hijab in public here in the U.S. Even among Saudi Royals & diplomats it's only rarely worn other than when traveling to & from Saudi Arabia.

    143:

    Yes, we Americans need a new Constitution. But given the current state of political division, what we'd get would be far more likely to be worse than what we have now.

    That’s if we’d get one at all.

    America is Balkanizing. There is no common culture anymore, and the value systems of the successor subcultures don’t overlap enough to coexist amicably. Indeed, several of those value systems are mutually exclusive.

    Civic nationalism is collapsing. Without an external enemy to unify the populace against, it’s too weak, too abstract to hold the culture together on its own. Moreover, as numerous critical theory scholars have pointed out, it only really worked within the boundaries of the dominant demographic group. Tribalism has won out.

    Historically, multicultural societies—including the U.S.—have been caste hierarchies dominated by a particular culture group with all other constituent cultures subordinated beneath it. For multicultural democracy to work, those cultures must a) share enough values to agree, at least at a broad level, how society should work, and b) be converging with each other, not diverging away from each other. The contemporary U.S. doesn’t meet either of those conditions and meets them even less with each passing day.

    What holds America together at this point is inertia—military, economic, infrastructural. The practical benefits of staying together outweigh the ideological and cultural benefits of breaking up. But, when the parties to the marriage despise each other so much, how much longer can it last?

    Realistically, America is going to revert to a de facto caste system; it’s just a question of which political faction—the reactionary right or the social justice left—is going to dictate that system’s terms. (And make no mistake, the left will have to suppress the right-wing to implement and sustain the culture they want. Conservative whites aren’t going to be persuaded, buy in, or simply go away. The right doesn’t face that conundrum since suppression is part of their ideology anyway.) Either way, once that happens, it becomes a matter of which side tries to break away first.

    144:

    Amusingly with covid we've implemented a TERF-style solution: now everyone is required to wear masks when they use the toilet. It's the other sort of equality :)

    145:

    [ "I don't think I've ever seen anyone actually wear the Hijab in public here in the U.S.' ]

    That's ... weird. Young women, middle-aged women, elderly women here wear hijab all the time. On campus, at work, strolling their children, shopping out with their families / husbands. I am speaking mostly of the head covering, which strictly speaking is what the hijab is. But I see far more inclusive coverings too every day. What I don't see is full veiling of the face.

    146:

    What percentage of the British Royal Government slave-owners in 1787?

    Glad you asked. Per Mansfield, slavery was illegal in England from 1772 and in Scotland from 1778. So the correct answer is "none".

    (This didn't automatically abolish slavery throughout the empire, because out of sight is out of mind: but a movement to end slavery throughout the empire got rolling in 1782 and ran to completion in 1833 with the Slavery Abolition Act.)

    By 1805 the Royal Navy was attempting to enforce an embargo on the slave trade.

    Did Britain have free, public education at the time? Did Britain have property requirements for participation in Government at the time? How widespread was the franchise in the U.K. at the time of the American Revolution?

    Some public education was free at the time, notably the grammar schools with scholarships (I attended one -- founded in 1552): general free education took a lot longer, for the same reasons as in the US. Property requirements and a limited franchise applied, again as in the Colonies -- the USA just forked the pre-existing legal system, conveniently forgetting to copy the rulings that criminalized slavery along the way.

    But the point is, these are not current prevailing standards anywhere any more. We can do better.

    147:

    JBS NOT EVER British royalgovernment, just British government - PLEASE? Your totally fundamental USA-ian misunderstanding ( To put it politely ) is complete.

    148:

    I've seen full face veiling, but it's unusual. While I'm not sure if my gut reaction of "Saudi" is correct, they're around, just rare.

    Then again, San Diego's been heavily involved in overseas wars, and unsurprisingly, we've got a number of people from Middle Eastern countries over here too.

    Anyway, I wish more people would veil the east Asian way: wear a face mask as a polite and friendly gesture to keep from spreading your germs to other people when in crowds. It's sad that the American right-wing extremists have politicized that display of public spiritedness.

    149:

    OTOH, I don't think I've ever seen anyone actually wear the Hijab in public here in the U.S.

    I have.

    I think you might be confusing the Hijab (scarf covering the hear) with the Niqab (long black gown with hair covering and full face veil), which really is rare in western countries (never mind the burka, which is specifically Afghan, and furthermore specific to a barking extremist cult there which unfortunately took advantage of destabilization to seize power).

    150:

    "There is no common culture anymore, and the value systems of the successor subcultures don’t overlap enough to coexist amicably."

    When was there ever a common American culture? You may have thought you glimpsed one in "Leave It to Beaver" TV shows, so appropriately monochrome. The history hardly suggests that.

    You can safely tune out any speech that starts out, "We, as Americans" or "We, as a culture", because there's going to be no information content.

    This still leaves the question of why you might consider a "common culture" desirable. It does have certain benefits, but strikes me as having the problem of one eye trying to see in three dimensions. No parallax, limited vision.

    151:

    I don't think I've ever seen anyone actually wear the Hijab in public here in the U.S.

    That's odd. They're pretty common here.

    Also not much use for concealing things, being just a headscarf.

    152:

    America is Balkanizing. There is no common culture anymore, and the value systems of the successor subcultures don’t overlap enough to coexist amicably. Indeed, several of those value systems are mutually exclusive.

    Um, no. Prior to WW1, some of my relatives spoke German, not English (They were what we'd now call Slovak, but Germany was what we'd then call Prussia). And there was Jim Crow down south, genocidal colonization out west, Mexicans getting booted, the Lost Causers south of Mason Dixon, the Yankees up North, and Wobblies, Communists, and Four Square Gospel types (and Mormons) everywhere. We're actually...more into common culture. Now I get to hear the BS pouring into the ears of radical right wingers. Before I would have missed it 'cause I didn't go to the right cross burnings.

    Civic nationalism is collapsing. Without an external enemy to unify the populace against, it’s too weak, too abstract to hold the culture together on its own. Moreover, as numerous critical theory scholars have pointed out, it only really worked within the boundaries of the dominant demographic group. Tribalism has won out.

    Yeah maybe. Or we could take the external enemy as a way for the military industrial complex to loot trillions out of the US economy, and treat the current debate as how to deal with the other things that the elites swept under the rug during our wars.

    Historically, multicultural societies—including the U.S.—have been caste hierarchies dominated by a particular culture group with all other constituent cultures subordinated beneath it. For multicultural democracy to work, those cultures must a) share enough values to agree, at least at a broad level, how society should work, and b) be converging with each other, not diverging away from each other. The contemporary U.S. doesn’t meet either of those conditions and meets them even less with each passing day.

    The dominant people's argument is a classic trait of an empire, and I agree that the US is an empire. However, there's a word that's missing from your dialectic, and that word is heterarchy, of which American checks and balances is a form. It's amazing how complex real world societies can be, where a preacher can stop a soldier from killing someone for ethical reasons, and so can a judge.

    What holds America together at this point is inertia—military, economic, infrastructural. The practical benefits of staying together outweigh the ideological and cultural benefits of breaking up. But, when the parties to the marriage despise each other so much, how much longer can it last?

    When has America ever not been held together by inertia? Working to keep this mess going is a lot safer for everyone than breaking it and trying to live through the breakup. Almost everyone realizes this at some level. Got to distinguish between the toxic outgassing, the rabble-rousing, the ordinary grousing, and the work.

    Realistically, America is going to revert to a de facto caste system; it’s just a question of which political faction—the reactionary right or the social justice left—is going to dictate that system’s terms. (And make no mistake, the left will have to suppress the right-wing to implement and sustain the culture they want. Conservative whites aren’t going to be persuaded, buy in, or simply go away. The right doesn’t face that conundrum since suppression is part of their ideology anyway.) Either way, once that happens, it becomes a matter of which side tries to break away first.

    Got an axe to grind? It's worth remembering that the word and concept of caste reached India under the Portuguese "casta" (race, lineage, tribe, or breed), and the caste system as we know it grew under the British occupation, in part because it was bureaucratically simpler for the conquerors than dealing with the massively multiethnic society they glued themselves to. But this runs counter to your argument, that in the absence of bureaucracy, caste flourishes. I do not think that's the case, any more than I think Jim Crow laws would flourish without legislators passing them. Again, look up heterarchy. People have been living in massively multiethnic messes since the bronze age. It's doable.

    153:

    What's fun where I live is that we have Christian nuns and orthodox Christians who also cover their hair and I've seen at least one wearing hajib. Well, ok, it could be a young Muslim woman wearing hajib while accompanying an older Christian woman, but I prefer to think of her as Christian. Likely because if you want a fashionable hair covering round here the easy option is the Muslim shops (Lakemba is a suburb that's a local Muslim centre). Further east in Sydney we also get Jewish women covering their hair, and for the same reason as the others.

    Admittedly if there's anywhere in Australia you're going to see the full variety of Islamic culture on display it's Lakemba (where I live). Niqab, hijab, burka, serwal, izar, kameez, more that I can't even work out names for.

    I suspect JBS just doesn't watch the news, even the far right media over there show women wearing hijab in public. Especially when it's Ilhan Omar wearing one...

    154:

    Picture a Venn diagram, specifically the area where the circles overlap each other. When I say "common culture", I'm referring to the parts of the constituent subcultures that overlap--the beliefs and values they share in common. Each subculture may express those things in distinct ways, but underneath it all they are fundamentally the same.

    My point with regard to the contemporary U.S. is that area of overlapping belief has shrunk to the point to the point that several of the circles in Venn diagram don't overlap anymore at all.

    155:

    My point with regard to the contemporary U.S. is that area of overlapping belief has shrunk to the point to the point that several of the circles in Venn diagram don't overlap anymore at all.

    And my point, oddly enough, is that with slavery, many of those circles didn't overlap at all, and yet we lasted. Even now, my circle effectively doesn't overlap with those of the migrant farm laborers who grow and pick my food. Yet I'd die without them. Nor does my circle overlap with the meat packers who pluck and butcher my chickens, nor with the prisoners who made my license plate, nor with the immigrants who made my clothes. Yet, somehow, we're all parts of America.

    This isn't a paean to hidden togetherness. Instead it's a rather rude note that America, like the UK and many other empires, has been very good at separating people, walling off the inherent ugliness that makes our society run from those who can afford to be bothered by it. Those walls are crumbling. It's easy to make a story that the walls crumbling is society drifting apart, but what part of that story is true? How much is increased bullshit and manipulation, and how much is us actually becoming aware that we're being bullshat upon and manipulated?

    156:

    Interestingly, anthropologists and archaeologists are starting to consider that scarcity is comparatively recent in human history. After all, if there were a few million people on Earth, and your family of two dozen killed a family of mammoths, one for you and the rest to keep the lions busy so they'd leave your share alone (it's been done), you're not living in a system of food scarcity exactly.

    As with Hobbes taking the English Civil War to mean that human life in the absence of a stable government is nasty, brutish, and short, economists and those they influence have taken modern scarcity as the baseline normal for human existence, with or without good evidence. By they time they got around to studying hunters and gatherers, most of those people were living in the most marginal habitats available, because civilized humans couldn't live there.

    This focus on humans as dealing with routine scarcity in turn makes it very hard to figure out how things like Stonehenge got built without agriculture, or why people thousands of years ago were into cave paintings, rather than optimizing their foraging time using optimal foraging theory.

    Rightly or wrongly, some in the anthropological field are now working with ideas that a low density of people and a high diversity of natural resources may well mean that scarcity was a rarity, not a norm, until only a few thousand years ago. This might, in turn, explain where people found the time to crawl deep into caves and make art, or whatever.

    So instead of dreaming that civilization will lead us to a post-scarcity society, maybe civilization is part of the adaptation to scarcity, and our distant ancestors experienced a pre-scarcity society. Golden ages without the gold, as it were.

    157:

    One of the more worrying bits for me are right wing(Nuts) who are unwilling to accommodate others, even to the limited extant their ancestors did. It's just one piece of the "Compound Failure", but possibly, not the least.

    158:

    Here's a counter-thought: your current civilisation runs on enforcing (physically if need by like Iraq or via the IMF in Vietnam / Asia currency crisis) that point. Bounty for us; paucity for you.

    We mean, literally: you kill a few million people a year to make sure your chocolate bars are cheap.

    Think on it. It's not exactly a new idea (and, tbh, the Roman Empire was much more meritocratically based, Citizenship ws much easier back then).

    One of the more worrying bits for me are right wing(Nuts) who are unwilling to accommodate others, even to the limited extant their ancestors did. It's just one piece of the "Compound Failure", but possibly, not the least.

    The Right-Wing sphere is devoid of talent at the moment, and we keep good eyes on it. In fact, that's not how it works, at all:

    They employ dumb people just above the dumbness of the people they need to rule.

    This is rxactly the same model they employ for slightly smart people.

    Go look up "CHUG UK" or whatever it was or "Liberal Leader kills squirrels" in the UK. The worst of the bunch (heeeeloooo Mr Arms Dealer McVity who went to the USA APAC or whatever and whored himself out) got Lordships... the rest of the dross got minor level Corporate deals. Yes, honey: selling used cars via a dodhy VC funded setup is the best that you could be.

    ~

    You should read the blog notes: "Immatize the Eschaton": we just gave you how to make A Goddess to rival 4,000 years of Abrahamic Domination.

    And you're talking about TERFS?

    Methinks... you're all fucking clueless. She said no, but hey: at least we aim for the stars and not the fucking gutter. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3mbvWn1EY6g

    159:

    I love how that conflicts utterly with the idea that savages are just lazy bums who spend all day doing unproductive stuff and need to be whipped to make them do anything except sit round and eat. Surely if life was so brutish and savage they'd be spending all day desperately searching for food?

    Too much Bruce Pascoe in my head, I just finished the book referenced recently. They're cautiously optimistic, which is good.

    Unlike the latest Guardian poll/writeup: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/nov/07/few-willing-to-change-lifestyle-climate-survey

    Respondents viewed measures likely to affect their own lifestyles, however, as significantly less important: reducing people’s energy consumption was seen as a priority by only 32%, while favouring public transport over cars (25%) and radically changing our agricultural model (24%) were similarly unpopular.

    Only 23% felt that reducing plane travel and charging more for products that did not respect environmental norms were important to preserve the planet, while banning fossil fuel vehicles (22%) and reducing meat consumption (18%) and international trade (17%) were seen as even lower priorities.

    Sigh. Mind you, my energy consumption is about to go up a whole lot as I start building my hempcrete granny flat. But I think of that as an investment.

    160:

    And yes, a lot of people died, which is the bad part, but democracy wasn't one of the victims.

    Well, sort of. Capital D democracy the abstract concept or organising force or what-have-you persisted as a going thing on the earth. But you could also argue Spanish democracy died, the marvellous Weimar democracy died, Vichy was a thing and the wave of democratic reforms across Europe all got subsumed into the crisis-point that was the war and its end. After the war, the Iron Curtain was a thing, emergent new Italian democracy got quite harshly fucked-with from both sides, a pattern that played out everywhere. Sure there's a whole good-guys-won vibe that still rings true, if only because the bad guys were... very unambiguous about it.

    161:

    I don't think I've ever seen anyone actually wear the Hijab in public here in the U.S.

    I live in the same city as you. I've seen them, somewhat rarely, for over 20 years. My wife has worked with some ladies who have worn such when she was in a call center.

    You also need to remember that families where women wear such tend to live in clusters near each other. Many near the local universities as their husbands (and at times them) are here working on advanced degrees. Plus these women tend to not go out in public that much and when they do they tend to gather around others who dress in similar ways.

    They are around.

    162:

    To clarify, I'm referring to everything from a scarf over the head which covers not much all the way to over the head to the ground with an eye slit. I've seen them all in public around here.

    And before anyone jumps to conclusions that I'm seeing zebras where horses are all there is, when a family of 6 to 8 is walking through Costco and the ladies are all wearing a covering of some kind except for those obviously 10 or younger, well you tend to guess. Not always correctly but enough to be true most of the time.

    If you want to see the range of people who live in an area visit an Apple store. They tend to be fairly large but not close together. And a wide variety of people buy their products. So the crowd inside will be a reasonable representation of the area. Or at least representative of those who can afford their products. If you get to know people who work in these stores they will tell you there is a large number of people visiting them from other countries. To the extent it can be hard to communicate.

    163:

    America is Balkanizing. There is no common culture anymore, and the value systems of the successor subcultures don’t overlap enough to coexist amicably.

    I look at it from a different direction. The US was always Balkanized. People got off the boat and headed to where their relatives or grandparents friends wrote back telling where they had settled. If you bounce around the country a bit you'll see it. Germans were big in Michigan and Texas (and other places) going back over 100 years. My mother came from the Michigan group. And they were in other places. And you also splintered based on religion. Living in the Pittsburgh area for 7 years really brought home how diverse and at the same time insular the various communities were. And prior to 1900 if you really didn't like those around you, well you could head out west and find a group you liked or maybe get away from everyone.

    What happened is that starting around 1900 (in the US, Europe and a few more places) mass media started happening. Movies then radio. People started hearing about things in their country, or state, or CITY (for the larger ones) that seemed alien to them. The US has a long history of radio shows by extremists but we tend to ignore them around polite company. Then the 50s/60s with television. Politicians started getting caught with their pants down. Literally.[1] By the mid to late 60s the "gentleman's agreement" to only report the "nice" news started going away. See FDR's and JFK's personal lives and medical histories.

    Now we have cable news, the Internet, and NOTHING in public that lasts more than 30 seconds doesn't get recorded on 1 to 100 cell phone cameras.

    So now everyone gets to see how different AND WRONG all of those others are. And you can't just ignore them. They keep being shoved in your face. You can no longer pretend they are just a few kooks somewhere else.

    And here we are.

    [1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilbur_Mills

    164:

    H scarcity is comparatively recent in human history. Not buying it .. Plenty of famines & times of "dearth" in recorded history, usually caused by climactic/weather variations - & often then fucked-over by whoever was supposedly running the administration, thus making a bad situation even worse.

    Tim H The "refusal to compromise" is one aspect of political extremism - mostly on the fascist/right, but not entirely so. There was a failed very local attempt at that ( On the "left" ),recently.

    Head-coverings The nearest "muslim" females to me wear: 1) A wonderful collection of brightly-coloured knitted bobble hats - in autumn/winter. 2) A smartish hat, sometimes. 3) Used to wear a hidjab, usually doesn't now.

    165:

    The "refusal to compromise" is one aspect of political extremism - mostly on the fascist/right, but not entirely so.

    I see this on both sides. All the time.

    166: 140 What percentage of the British Royal Government slave-owners in 1787?

    There's insufficient data be be certain, but I'd say probably 0%, with a vague possibility of 100% (but at the time they had debts of over £65 million in present day terms).

    167:

    I see this on both sides. All the time.

    I'm sure, but it's also worth considering whether it's really symmetrical (really) in all the cases you see. To do this you need to consider what "compromise" would look like or mean for the people involved. Sometimes for one "side" in whatever the particular dualism you think has "sides" in that context, it means giving up a lot, often something real and concrete and a valuable component of their quality of life, or that of some specific people they care about, while on the other "side" it's just an idea. To me the threshold is between people who will always put their ideas above concrete consequences for others and those who will adapt their ideas to avoid causing harm. Some ideas are antithetical to "avoiding harm" and can pretty much be rejected out of hand, along with their adherents.

    168:

    Plenty of famines & times of "dearth" in recorded history, usually caused by climactic/weather variations

    That isn't what Frank and Moz are talking about though. "Recent" in this context includes all of recorded history and probably a bit more, whereas human history, depending on how you look at it, is several times longer. If you go from "behavioural modernity", that is possessing all the mental capacities we still more or less share, it's 4-5 times longer. If you go by the last fork from another species, its more like 2-300 times longer.

    The idea that civilisation is a reaction and adaptation to scarcity isn't a new one. It's actually a really good model for what happened in Mesopotamia and several locations where agriculture emerged independently. On the other hand pre-contact Australian aboriginal people have been shown to have lived in relative abundance, enabling a diversity of culture and ideas. It's uncontroversial that European settlers typically interpreted and represented this richness of leisure as "laziness". It's precisely "climactic/weather" stresses that some of the older forms of food production are more resilient to.

    169:

    So the bottlenecks in the human ancestry were due to overeating? No, scarcity is not new to the homini(nd)s, though it was episodic (where an episode could be a year or a millennium). It is believed that most such episodes were due to droughts, but that's unproven.

    In recent history, your point is correct in at least some contexts. The life expectancy of the meso- and neo-lithic people in Britain was not matched until (if I recall) the 16th century. But, in the semi-desert areas (Australia, some of Africa), scarcity has always been there, because a poor year means that food is much harder to find.

    171:

    A refusal to compromise and go down in glorious defeat is what I'm talking about.

    When you don't have 50%+ of the votes and refuse to compromise you are abdicating the results to the others. I don't like agreeing to things I don't like but if it moves my ball further down the road with no other options available maybe that's what I have to do.

    I'm seeing this up and down the line with things from reproductive rights down to local zoning cases where both (or more) sides are locked into a win or die mode.

    172:

    Over 1500 years ago, war and drought (climate change) triggered the mass movement of the Huns and Goths out of central Asia into northern Europe.

    This triggered further movement of Germanic peoples south and west over the Danube and Rhine and into the Roman Empire.

    Not so much invasions as mass immigration.

    When Rome fell, the barbarians didn't swarm across the frontier. Most of the barbarians were already living within the empire - often at imperial invitation.

    Between civil wars, famine, plagues (pandemics) and collapsing birth rates (brought on by birth control, abortion and infanticide) the population of the empire had collapse.

    Rome needed workers to till the fields and soldiers to fill out the ranks of the legions.

    Debasement of the coinage had made imperial money almost worthless, taxes were so bad Roman peasants fled to the new barbarian kingdoms to escape impoverishment. The rich off course did not pay taxes.

    The rich sequestered themselves in fortified villas (doomsday bunkers) to escape the worst of the collapse.

    Cities first became refuges from the ravaged countryside and then death traps, population sinks where the trends of demographic decline, food shortages and plague were accelerated.

    Many of the so-called barbarians were more noble and honorable than the debased Romans that they replaced, admiring and embracing Latin and classical culture. German generals like Stilicho commanded legions and defended Rome to the last. German allies fought side by side with the Romans against the Huns.

    But after one too many tipping points the whole thing collapsed.

    What makes you think we in the West will escape this same fate as a result of the two major tends of the 21st century: climate change (causing mass migrations) and the demographic cliff (requiring the import - legally or illegally - of labor)?

    173:

    It is well known that scarcity was not the driver of the shift to agriculture. People now know that the standard of of living got worse with shift to agriculture, as with the shift to urbanisation. The advantage of these things was the population they could support.

    174:

    Beer was the driver of the shift to agriculture.

    175:

    Fleeing across the Danube, the Goths begged the Romans to let them in and provide sanctuary.

    Rome obliged and promptly began to enslave them and their children.

    Peoples from the Third World suffering the cutting edge of climate change are begging for entry in Europe, America.

    It's a two step process. Climate change destroys agriculture as a livelihood (a decade long drought in the Middle East, warming temps causing a coffee destroying rust in Central America). First they flee to the cities in search of employment. There they get preyed on by local warlords (ISIS in Syria, the Cartels in Mexico). Fleeing the warlords they head north to Europe or America. This triggers a political/racist backlash (Brexit in Britain, MAGA in America).

    And all of the above will only getting worse.

    Meanwhile, wealthy countries are experiencing a demographic driven labor shortage. They need people to do the crap jobs the locals won't touch (like labor intensive agriculture).

    And so despite police zones in Poland, deaths by boat in the Med, and walls along the Rio Grande, they will still make it to the promised land because businesses need workers. Corruption and hypocrisy will find a way despite any law being passed.

    Workers without legal rights that can be abused and cheated of wages with impunity.

    Like the Goths.

    P.S. The Goths later revolted and destroyed the legions at Adrianople.

    177:

    It is well known that scarcity was not the driver of the shift to agriculture. [...] The advantage of these things was the population they could support.

    Sorry, but I can't make these two things add up. If agriculture supported a lower standard of living than hunting and gathering then surely it would have supported a lower population. Or if something else was restricting the population before farming? If pre-agriculture people have lots of spare time, why isn't their population increasing? Why do we then see population increase when farming starts?

    178:

    As I remember it, there are 2 main drivers on hunter/gatherer population size:- 1) Range, meaning the area that a population can acquire its food supply in. 2) How much food there actually is in Range.

    Agriculture effectively increases the amount of food in Range.

    179:

    If agriculture supported a lower standard of living than hunting and gathering then surely it would have supported a lower population.

    No. There is a limit to how many animals you can hunt a year before their population collapses. Likewise, there's a limit to how many edible plants you can gather before they're all gone.

    Agriculture alters the ecosystem to provide more food at the cost of having to tend/protect it for at least a season, as opposed to just when you want to eat.

    So more people fed, but more work required (and often poorer-quality food).

    180:

    I call the whole thing "reality-debt." Your society decides that science doesn't matter, or worse yet that science is anti-the-local-religion, you allow corruption to occur, (and we all know where that leads,) tolerate liars (who are the main cause of reality-debt) allow the public purse to become depleted... and when Climate Change and COVID bring the bill suddenly you discover that all those mistakes your society forgave, all those lies you believed, and all those corrupt people you've tolerated have run up quite a tab.

    "No, gentlemen, the whole amount is due now, and our policy is to only accept cash."

    181:

    Ye Gods: looking for a Greg post about "Global Conspiracy" and you're all stuck on TERF stuff.

    Deleted: see administrative note at comment 150.

    (I think you and I are broadly on the same side of the discussion, but I'm banning the entire topic from this thread because it's invariably going to descend into a flame war if I don't, and it's unproductive, and-and it's off-topic.)

    182:

    It has been 40 or more years since I read Foundation so I don't remember the details of the various stories.

    But was the anti-science water is rising world in the book or is that an added detail (along with a lot of others) that seems to be influenced by current politics?

    183:

    I love how that conflicts utterly with the idea that savages are just lazy bums who spend all day doing unproductive stuff and need to be whipped to make them do anything except sit round and eat. Surely if life was so brutish and savage they'd be spending all day desperately searching for food?

    From what I read, those Europeans who actually lived among "savages" did admit that their life was pretty easy, but considered it a morally bad thing. Quoting from memory (some 19th Century Englishman) "If maximizing pleasure were the life's goal, than the African would be a superior human". Needless to say, he rejected the silly notion that maximizing pleasure is life's goal.

    184:

    was the anti-science water is rising world in the book

    Not that I recall.

    185:

    It's not in the book at all. In fact, the only thing we learn about Synnax is "the planet where Gaal Dornick was born". That’s literally all the book says about Synnax. (OK, a throwaway sentence tells than Synnax has only one moon.)

    186:

    Re: 'Again, look up heterarchy. People have been living in massively multiethnic messes since the bronze age. It's doable.'

    Good term to add to my list of 'forms of governance' - thanks!

    This concept is in common usage in describing (and predicting) market drivers usu. via an analysis of a very long list of attributes. Plus a whole whack of advanced stats analysis.

    What puzzles me is that while the only-profit-matters types willingly embrace/endorse a multifactorial analysis and prognostication of their industry/investment strategy, they appear (publicly) to insist on there being only a handful of relevant attributes describing society. Something doesn't add up here.

    BTW - the approach referred to above accepts and often results in different attributes becoming the central or dominant focus over time. That is: the specific attribute that unites a populace (largest overlap across subgroups or correlation with a target attribute/variable) or that makes a particular culture strong/desirable can and does shift by time frame.

    I really don't understand the notion or appeal of a static society.

    187:

    With respect to the institutional history of Police Scotland, I'm trying to picture a comparison with US police forces. Which originate in union-busting hired muscle organizations in the industrial North, and slave-catcher/anti-insurrection patrols in the South. The police in the US have always been tools of the local owner classes, I mean. I'm wondering if these Scottish police are a bit less... peculiar in their relation to the rest of their society, than American ones. Who also could give lessons in how to preach about political neutrality while being potent political actors.

    188:
    An essential add-on in the current century is that social media recommendations must not be algorithmically biased to maximize engagement or promote any particular ideology. More subtly: a complete ban on behavioural advertising would be a good idea.

    There is a reasonable way to achieve this, which is to use GDPR.

    GDPR says that you can't store people's data without their consent (with a bunch of exceptions, but none of those apply to things like advertising).

    One easy way to kill behavioural advertising would be to say that it is illegal to process data for the benefit of an organisation without that organisation having the user's consent.

    So Facebook would not be able to run an advert to me using any of my data without the advertiser having obtained my consent. So, they would have to put up a complete list of all their advertisers and get users to click each one to approve accepting adverts from them. That is transparently unworkable, which is to say that their business model would be illegal.

    At which point, they would have to revert to running advertising based on the content rather than based on the user they are advertising to. But that would make the actual content provider more important and the data collection on the users less important - ie it would shift the balance of power to media and journalism, and away from social media. Facebook would still be able to sell some adverts - but they'd get back to 5% margins instead of 50% margins and be much less powerful, while static ads on news websites would get better revenue.

    I think that shifting power that way would be a good thing in itself (look at how much more money there is in TV than there was because of how subscription services work), but would also shift the terms and context of public debate.

    189:

    Rbt Prior Indeed The Biblical Myth of "Adam/Eve/Garden" is a memory of the shift to agriculture ... LOTS MORE food, but you have to really work for it (!)

    190:

    Well, all present day UK police forces trace their history back to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metropolitan_Police sooner or later.

    191:

    And my point, oddly enough, is that with slavery, many of those circles didn't overlap at all, and yet we lasted.

    ..and the result was the Civil War. Via protracted large-scale conflict, the previously dominant caste--white Anglo Southern slaveowners--was violently subordinated to and replaced by the new dominant caste--white Anglophone northeastern industrialists. The caste hierarchy was reshuffled but not broken.

    In a formal caste hierarchy, as the U.S. was until the 1960s, the circles don't need to overlap as the top caste dictates the terms of society through the threat of force. Everyone dances to their tune or faces the consequences. As you said, people have been living in multiethnic messes since the Bronze Age, but those messes haven't been multicultural democracies; they've typically been hierarchies--formal or informal--in which a dominant demographic group runs the show. Latins (and those they assimilated to their language and culture) ran the Roman Empire, and so on.

    While the American caste hierarchy has persisted informally (i.e. systemic racism) since the civil rights reforms of the 1960s, the ostensible goal--at least in the long-term--has been multicultural ''democracy''. Part of the point of multicultural democracy is that the constituent cultures aren't subordinated into a hierarchy with one dominating and assimilating the others. Rather, the cultures coexist in peaceful, relatively egalitarian interchange based on shared, overlapping values and norms. That is, rather than one culture enforcing its norms on everyone else, coexistence is driven by mutually agreed upon beliefs. The circles overlap, or at least overlap enough.

    In the U.S. today, the trend is in the opposite direction. The circles are overlapping less and less. The conditions that make multicultural democracy viable are deteriorating. Value systems are diverging, not converging. Even the historically dominant demographic group--white Anglophones--has fractured and fragmented. So, we have neither egalitarian multiculturalism based on overlapping values nor assimilation to the ways and norms of a dominant group.

    Given the historical record, the probable result isn't your heterarchy or some sort of peaceful, post-structural anarchy; it's the reassertion of hierarchy dominated by a particular group. The question then is which group will dominate and what values and norms they will impose. TL;DR: who will rule?

    192:

    So more people fed, but more work required (and often poorer-quality food).

    Precisely. One of the tells in the archaeological record of people shifting from foraging to what we recognize as agriculture is that the skeletons are stunted. What we term as hunter-gatherers tend to have bigger, healthier bodies.

    As Robert points out, the tradeoff is numbers. If someone wants to get into the authoritarian leader game, agriculture is a good thing. Dear Leader's troops may be less healthy, but he have massively more of them, and that's all that matters in muscle-driven warfare.

    This is probably why hunter-gatherers really dislike sociopathic people, at least from reports.

    The quirky complication is that what we think of as hunting and gathering is a colonialist term, because it implies that the people are just exploiting the land, not owning it (as they would if they farmed) so it's okay to forcibly settle them on farms where they take up less space, and make farms where they used to live. Bill Gammage and Bruce Pascoe among others (in Australia, California, and the Pacific Northwest) point out that the problem with hunting and gathering as a term is that it ignores how much work people often put into improving their hunting and gathering grounds. There's some decent evidence to show that the lack of fenced agricultural fields often has less to do with the people being "primitive" and rather more to do with what ecological regimes the plants and animals you live with need. For example, fenced pastures are pretty worthless if your big food animals are deer or kangaroos, but both of these animals benefit from certain kinds of landscape manipulation, often done with fire. Similarly, "Indian gardens" have proved notoriously hard to recognize in California, British Columbia, and the Amazon. What we see now are like old apple orchards swallowed by woodlands, where the clue is being enough of a botanist to notice that every plant around you is edible, and you're near an old village site. Anyway, the bottom line is that hunting and gathering take a lot more active land work than you might think, and our ancestors likely weren't simply wandering from food source to food source even before someone bent them over a plow.

    So that's a pre-scarcity society. It's not that they didn't have to deal with occasional hunger or disaster, it's that on average, they had fewer people and more (and more varied) resources per person, leading them to have (on average) fewer lifestyle diseases than we do. After all, famine's less of a problem when you're comfortable switching from eating elk to yellowjacket larvae (as in California).

    Gammage and Pascoe also aren't alone in making the case that a true "post-scarcity" economy will likely look more like the past and much less like Iain Banks' Culture. It's a nice thought, very fringey, and quite possible. Would I work towards that future? Not directly, because I suspect that the people who will take it up most enthusiastically are eco-fascists who want to clone mammoths, bring back the pleistocene so they can shoot them with their rifles (who needs consistency?) and also kill off any dark-skinned people who came north, cuz their swarming masses are the problem, while white skinned savagery is the future. Or some such BS. The idea of returning to being sustainable hunter-gatherers is seductive, but it's already been grabbed and warped by the alt-right. So it's worth thinking about, but it's even more worth thinking very carefully about.

    193:

    “Beer was the driver” Well, we all know how mixing beer and driving goes. Obviously this will soon be less of an issue in the (D)UK as Brexit results in neither beer nor driving being options. Meanwhile the (power)drunks in charge appear to be making bank very nicely.

    194:

    The origin of British policing is entirely different, and so is most of it. The Metropolitan Police used to be the oldest, largest and most expert, but over the past half century has also taken on a role as the Home Secretary's dissent suppression force. But it's still completely unlike what you describe.

    195:

    Association is not causality. I am pretty certain that did NOT happen in western Europe (especially Britain), where farming was introduced without the urbanisation of the near east. It's almost certainly not the farming, but the increase in population density.

    196:

    FUBAR007 @ 143: Yes, we Americans need a new Constitution. But given the current state of political division, what we'd get would be far more likely to be worse than what we have now.

    That’s if we’d get one at all.

    We don't need a new Constitution, we need to do a better job of implementing the one we've got; making it actually work for EVERYONE (recognizing that's going to be difficult against fascist opposition).

    America is Balkanizing. There is no common culture anymore, and the value systems of the successor subcultures don’t overlap enough to coexist amicably. Indeed, several of those value systems are mutually exclusive.

    [ ... ]

    What holds America together at this point is inertia—military, economic, infrastructural. The practical benefits of staying together outweigh the ideological and cultural benefits of breaking up. But, when the parties to the marriage despise each other so much, how much longer can it last?

    Realistically, America is going to revert to a de facto caste system; it’s just a question of which political faction—the reactionary right or the social justice left—is going to dictate that system’s terms. (And make no mistake, the left will have to suppress the right-wing to implement and sustain the culture they want. Conservative whites aren’t going to be persuaded, buy in, or simply go away. The right doesn’t face that conundrum since suppression is part of their ideology anyway.) Either way, once that happens, it becomes a matter of which side tries to break away first.

    A complicating factor is the "Balkanization" is not occurring along identifiable geographic boundaries. Even within the supposed "Red State/Blue State" divide, there are substantial enclaves and there's a significant portion of "Purple" where neither side actually has an absolute majority.

    https://engaging-data.com/county-electoral-map-land-vs-population/

    It's an interesting map. You can compare electoral results for 2016 & 2020 by land area AND by population. And if you check "Color by Margin" you end up with a map dominated by baby blue and pink.

    ... or try this one that scales the states according to the number of votes each has in the Electoral College:

    https://engaging-data.com/sizing-states-electoral/

    197:

    [ "Glad you asked. Per Mansfield, slavery was illegal in England from 1772 and in Scotland from 1778. So the correct answer is "none".]

    There were very many slaveowners in Britain. They were absentee from the Caribbean, but o my, there were more all the time. How else would those sugar barons have gotten all that representation and power in Parliament? Which legislated always for their protection and benefit, and thereby having more than a very little to do with North American Atlantic colonies move to Independence. The New England mercantile interests particularly were impacted by those damned Navigation Acts.

    See for a very good account of this by a British scholar, which is also very readable:

    Parker, Matthew (2011) The Sugar Barons: Family, Corruption, Empire, and War in the West Indies. Audio download NYP. A most useful book to read about the British settlements in the Caribbean.

    O yes, there were Scots among them. But generally for all the obvious reasons, not Irish.

    You see it in fiction as well: Jane Austen's Mansfield Park -- the estate which is the novel's title is owned by a fellow with many slaves on his properties in the Caribbean. This is how these fellows all got English estates, and even titles.

    198:

    Association is not causality. I am pretty certain that did NOT happen in western Europe (especially Britain), where farming was introduced without the urbanisation of the near east. It's almost certainly not the farming, but the increase in population density.

    Who said anything about urbanization? I'd say it's difficult to get any increase in human numbers without a) luck in choosing your home and b) active collaboration with the landscape in which you live to grow more of the stuff you need.

    199:

    "I thought today's main argument for keeping the monarchy is the amount of tourist revenue it brings in exceeds the cost of upkeep?"

    It's the standard refutation to that objection, but both sides of that argument are missing the point in multiple ways.

    "What the government gives the Queen" is money that they would be spending anyway; it's not a Queen-dependent quantity. Some of it is for maintenance of historic buildings (like Buckingham Palace), which would need to be spent whether there was a Queen using them or not. The rest is to pay for stuff like official junketings and security forces, which are simply a function of having a head of state at all, regardless of what kind of head it is.

    Also, it is covered several times over by the money the government gets from the Crown estates (which doesn't mean "the Queen's estates"; it's complicated). The amount they give back to the Queen wobbles around roughly 15% of that, so the government is quids in.

    The Queen's own living expenses (including things like maintenance of places like Balmoral, which are actually hers rather than the country's) she finds herself. It doesn't come out of taxes. Ditto for Chuck.

    It's only the Queen and Chuck who get anything in any case. Phil used to get some odd change but he can't really spend it any more. (Possibly Wills might get that now instead, I'm not sure, but I'd guess not.) All the rest of them have to manage for themselves, or scrounge off their mates if they can't cope.

    To a very large extent the contention that "they cost too much" is based on simple unsupported assumption that they're royal so obviously they must do; and the standard tourist-revenue refutation is a canned response emitted with similar lack of supporting knowledge of any actual figures, which must be true because everyone on that side of the argument says it is. To find an actual reliable figure that is not invalidated by including "cost of having any kind of head of state, royal or not" and "cost that does not come out of taxes to begin with" is not straightforward, but it seems that a reasonable upper bound is of the same order as the quantities the local council keeps pissing up the wall because they fail at basic arithmetic or are just plain bleeding blind stupid, and some orders of magnitude lower than the quantities handed out in national government contracts to MPs' mates who then fail to produce.

    200:

    Acute scarcity and chronic scarcity are two separate things. Saying 'on average, pre agricultural people didn't have to spend each say desperate for food' doesn't mean they didn't have periods where that was exactly the case.

    One thing agriculture does allow is population density, which has advantages.

    I think there's also a failure of ability to imagine change. "If agriculture gave a worse standard of living, why did they do" presumes that agriculture ALWAYS gave a worse standard of living, which probably wasn't the case. It might have been better to a point, and then declined, but at a point where the populations where obligated to continue.

    There's also the fact that agriculture isn't a hard line - basically ALL humans will modify their environment to suit within the limits of their ability to do so. Hunter gatherers included - so is bring some seeds back to an area where you have better access to the river agriculture, etc. The shift to agriculture was an evolution, not a revolution.

    201:

    Foxessa @ 145:

    [ "I don't think I've ever seen anyone actually wear the Hijab in public here in the U.S.' ]

    That's ... weird. Young women, middle-aged women, elderly women here wear hijab all the time. On campus, at work, strolling their children, shopping out with their families / husbands. I am speaking mostly of the head covering, which strictly speaking is what the hijab is. But I see far more inclusive coverings too every day. What I don't see is full veiling of the face.

    I apologize for being imprecise. The full veil was what I meant, since it was in the context of the suggestion some man might wear it as a disguise either to assault women or commit other criminal acts.

    Technically, "I don't think I've ever seen anyone actually wear the Niqab or especially the Burqa (which hides even the eyes behind a mesh screen) in public here in the U.S." ... i.e. those forms of Islamic dress that a man COULD use to disguise himself as a woman.

    202:

    Agreed.

    There's a speculative argument that western-style grain agriculture was preceded by "balanoculture" using acorns more like the California Indians did. The proposed reason for going with oaks was that you can do absolutely nothing but harvest them in the fall, and get a year's worth of carbs and oils for three weeks' effort. The argument for grain is that it's easier to store, easier to move around, and easier to go from seed to food. After all, if you plant an acorn, you have to wait decades before you get a decent crop of acorns. Moreover, oaks don't produce acorns every year, so (as in California) you've got to have several alternate food sources to fall back on for the years when there aren't acorns.

    How realistic this scenario is is questionable. I think another part of the argument has to do with climatic stability. If only 20% of the years give you a good crop of wheat, then relying on wheat is tricky. It can be done, but you've got to have five years' of food and seed stock on hand at all times, and most of your farming effort is going to be lost, which can be demoralizing. If it's less work to tend your stand of oaks and gather acorns when they're producing, why not?

    California Indians probably stayed more with oaks because California's weather is notoriously fickle. We can do agriculture--for now--because we have this enormous aqueduct system to move and store water. Without it, there aren't a lot of places where subsistence farming is a viable lifestyle around here. The local Indians seemed to have figured that out a very long time ago. This doesn't mean they didn't work the land. But it does mean that they weren't tied to their fields the way farmers are.

    203:

    those forms of Islamic dress that a man COULD use to disguise himself as a woman.

    You've seen "The Handmaid's Tale", or stills from it? Those red gowns and white bonnets?

    What you're talking about is roughly the Islamic equivalent of that outfit -- it's forced on women in the most extreme theocracies (Iran circa 1979-89, Saudi Arabia after 1980, Afghanistan under the Taliban, and areas under the control of Da'esh/ISIS and relatives).

    Outside of "Handmaid's Tale" dystopian environments, most muslim women do not choose to dress that way, any more than most women identifying as christian dress like nuns.

    204:

    Anytime you're talking about the fracture of the US, it's important to bear in mind that the divide is fueled by our decidedly (and intentionally) non equally representative system.

    Lots more people voted for Biden. Lots more people vote for Democrats nationally, than the GOP. While the cultural fractures are real, the system makes them both more impactful than they otherwise would be AND incentivizes the bad actors to make the fractures worse.

    All that said, the US Civil War never stopped, it just went from a hot war to a cold war.

    205:

    You and others have implied that converting to agriculture led to more but poorer quality food, and a reduction in size and lifespan. The neolithic farmers in the UK give the lie to that.

    206:

    The longest lasting agricultural society we know of gives the lie to that, as well. "recorded history" only shows what happens to those people when they're driven off their land, the young adults are killed and their agricultural systems destroyed. It's as though we looked at the refugees after WWI and concluded that Europeans are ragged bands of starving wretches who roam the land searching for food and shelter. That's entirely true ... as far as it goes. But it's hardly a complete or even useful picture of European civilisation.

    But somehow the idea that Australia was populated by small bands of wandering savages for however long they managed to eke out a fragile, terrified existence before they were civilised by Europeans... that idea still lives today.

    From what we know after the invasion, Australia had a fairly stable civilisation right through the end of the last ice age. A lot of it, obviously, is under about 120m of seawater now, but there's enough in the inland areas to be sure that the whole continent was farmed. And from the surviving cultural remains we can be certain they had a lot of spare time on their hands.

    207:

    The idea of returning to being sustainable hunter-gatherers is seductive, but

    Bruce Pascoe is very focused on bringing back traditional agriculture rather than any hunter-gatherer nonsense. I suspect he'd be offended at the latter term. He's all about working within a modern capitalist model, buying land to farm and yadda yadda, but using crops that are optimised for Australian conditions instead of the soil and water mining disaster model the Europeans prefer. It's kind of skimmed in the book, but there's several sites on the east coast where people are rediscovering local food crops and working to make them commercially viable.

    I get the feeling he would quite happily torch the bush right up to, and including, urban fringes, but that's more of an angry disgust "just how stupid are these fucking morons" response (that's a rhetorical question, BTW)

    208:

    I said "more food" and implied "some different food", but at no time did I describe anything as "bad food".

    209:

    Charlie Stross @ 146:

    What percentage of the British Royal Government slave-owners in 1787?

    Glad you asked. Per Mansfield, slavery was illegal in England from 1772 and in Scotland from 1778. So the correct answer is "none".

    But what's the REAL answer? How widely was Mansfield's decision actually enforced? If slavery was illegal, why was the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 necessary?

    (This didn't automatically abolish slavery throughout the empire, because out of sight is out of mind: but a movement to end slavery throughout the empire got rolling in 1782 and ran to completion in 1833 with the Slavery Abolition Act.)

    Indeed, slavery was NOT abolished in the U.K. at the time of the American Revolution and it was still not abolished between 1787 when the U.S. held its Constitutional Convention and 1832.

    I have read a bit about the life of William Wilberforce and his struggles to overcome Parliamentary opposition to abolition, so I know Somerset v Stewart notwithstanding chattel slavery still existed in the U.K at the time of the American Revolution and it still existed when the U.S. held its Constitutional Convention in 1787.

    And even when the "Slavery Abolition Act" was finally passed in 1833, it only abolished slavery in "most" of the British Empire exempting "the Territories in the Possession of the East India Company", Ceylon, and Saint Helena. Even the passage of the Indian Slavery Act of 1843 didn't actually "free" all of the slaves there; it merely converted their status to "bonded servitude" - perpetual debt bondage.

    By 1805 the Royal Navy was attempting to enforce an embargo on the slave trade.

    The West Africa Squadron was established in 1808 after passage of the Slave Trade Act of 1807. What was the Royal Navy doing about slave trade between East Africa and the East Indies?

    Did Britain have free, public education at the time? Did Britain have property requirements for participation in Government at the time? How widespread was the franchise in the U.K. at the time of the American Revolution?

    Some public education was free at the time, notably the grammar schools with scholarships (I attended one -- founded in 1552): general free education took a lot longer, for the same reasons as in the US. Property requirements and a limited franchise applied, again as in the Colonies -- the USA just forked the pre-existing legal system, conveniently forgetting to copy the rulings that criminalized slavery along the way.

    But the point is, these are not current prevailing standards anywhere any more. We can do better.

    Not "anywhere"?

    My point is the U.S. does not deserve to be singled out for opprobrium for not having instantly solving a problem introduced into England's North American colonies by English Mercantilism when England couldn't solve the problem in their own backyard and certainly not in their other Mercantile Colonies. How you gonna' remove a splinter from my eye when you can't even see the plank sticking out of your own.

    Slavery was bad and it's legacy is worse, but that legacy is not uniquely the fault of the United States.

    210:

    Greg Tingey @ 147: JBS
    NOT EVER British royalgovernment, just British government - PLEASE?Your totally fundamental USA-ian misunderstanding ( To put it politely ) is complete.

    I'm not sure when Royal Government became British Government there in the U.K. but it still existed in the colonies at the time of the American Revolution, so I think the "totally fundamental misunderstanding" goes both ways.

    211:

    PS: We may have different conceptions of what constitutes "politely".

    212:

    Bruce Pascoe is very focused on bringing back traditional agriculture rather than any hunter-gatherer nonsense. I suspect he'd be offended at the latter term.

    Agreed about Pascoe. Problem is that here, people trip over forager, so if I used anything other than hunter-gatherer, there would have been pointless and angry expostulations that would have probably annoyed OGH, since we're not talking about English politics yet.

    As for Australian traditional agriculture, all I have to say is that I hope it scales. One thing that surprised me, after reading Pascoe and Gammage's work and looking at more primary documents, is how tiny Australian aboriginal settlements are: big is hundreds of people, not thousands or tens of thousands (at least that I saw, for places like Budj Bim). While I don't think this invalidates Pascoe's claim that they were "actively collaborating" with the land and hence farmers, I think he's deliberately pushing at conceptual boundaries of what constitutes agriculture and how settled how many people have to be before their system is called an agricultural civilization. This is in comparison with Catalhoyuk in Turkey, which was sort of similar and housed 5,000-7,000 people. This is probably an example of soil fertility really mattering.

    He is right though, the definitions matter, especially when the doctrine of Terra Nullius (empty land) was used to cause so much grief. Finally, if we're talking about a post-capitalist world looking like Aboriginal Australia...that's a lot fewer people than we have now. And there's probably a reason no one wants to talk about it too much.

    213:

    Yes. My guess is that the low-density farmers actually ate BETTER than the hunter-gatherers, and with more time on their hands, because they had some protection from the infertile season. But they would also have done some hunting and gathering, when it was convenient or necessary. In Britain, that was compounded by the extreme shortage of gatherable, calorific foods. But the key is the density, not the shift from hunting and gathering to farming.

    214:

    Agriculture (or rather, non foraging) enables density. There are limits to how dense a population can be when foraging (as there are with agriculture - technology changes the limit).

    215:

    Charlie Stross @ 149:

    OTOH, I don't think I've ever seen anyone actually wear the Hijab in public here in the U.S.

    I have.

    I think you might be confusing the Hijab (scarf covering the hear) with the Niqab (long black gown with hair covering and full face veil), which really is rare in western countries (never mind the burka, which is specifically Afghan, and furthermore specific to a barking extremist cult there which unfortunately took advantage of destabilization to seize power).

    No, the original context was some man dressing in Islamic clothing to disguise himself as a woman. I just didn't think about there being different names for the various levels of covering. The original comment called it a "Hijab" without differentiating & I responded with the same name.

    FWIW, I have seen the Niqab and the Burqa (mesh veil covering the eyes) when I was in Iraq. The Burqa may have originated in Afghanistan, but it spread to other parts of the Islamic world. Actually, I saw women with head scarves and women without head scarves along with (presumably) women wearing the Niqab or Burqa.

    But I have never seen anyone wear the FULL covering here in the U.S. - other than perhaps a few news stories about the comings & goings of various Saudi princes & their wives.

    Nor was I aware of any suggestion men might adopt the FULL covering for the purpose of committing sexual assaults, although I had heard concern expressed back after 9/11 that men might do so for the purpose of committing OTHER criminal or terrorist acts.

    216:

    Moz @ 153: I suspect JBS just doesn't watch the news, even the far right media over there show women wearing hijab in public. Especially when it's Ilhan Omar wearing one...

    I suspect JBS was replying to another comment that used the word to describe the FULL COVERING and didn't bother to look it up to find out that various levels of Islamic head/face covering have different names ... a mistake JBS will not make again.

    Sheesh! Why didn't y'all respond in kind to the commenter who first used the wrong word instead of piling on me?

    217:

    "I'm not sure when Royal Government became British Government there in the U.K"

    Probably on Tuesday 30 January 1649 with the execution of Charles I?

    218:

    Told You So @ 158: Here's a counter-thought: your current civilisation runs on enforcing (physically if need by like Iraq or via the IMF in Vietnam / Asia currency crisis) that point. Bounty for us; paucity for you.

    However that's not unique to the U.S.

    The U.K., E.U., Russia, China, Japan, Brazil, Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran ... all of the countries with pretensions to being "developed" participate; even your "current civilization" is part of it.

    219:

    Greg Tingey @ 189: Rbt Prior
    Indeed
    The Biblical Myth of "Adam/Eve/Garden" is a memory of the shift to agriculture ... LOTS MORE food, but you have to really work for it (!)

    For a long time I've thought that the Garden of Eden must have been located in the great valley that is now the Persian Gulf. It and the "Great Flood" story may both be oral traditions inspired by the flooding of the Persian Gulf near the end of the last Ice Age.

    220:

    It's actually how all empires roll. The USA was until 2001 a hegemonic thalassic empire, although today it has rivals: the economic side of things operates through a whole bunch of interlocking treaties that act as a force multiplier. Previously its rival hegemon was the USSR: it's predecessor in that role was the UK, which overlapped with a bunch of others (the second and third reich, the French empire, the Spanish and Portuguese ...)

    But they all work by enforcing trade imbalances at some level, all the way back to Rome and before that.

    221:

    JBS AND/OIR the conversion of the Euxine Lake to the Black Sea when rising post-glacial sea-levels, overtopped the Bosporus or nearby in approx 5500BCE

    Charlie But they all work by enforcing trade imbalances at some level, all the way back to Rome and before that. Which we have just committed economic suicide inside - Brexit

    222:

    Justin Jordan @ 204: Anytime you're talking about the fracture of the US, it's important to bear in mind that the divide is fueled by our decidedly (and intentionally) non equally representative system.

    It wasn't "intentionally non equally representative" in the beginning. It was a compromise between independent states of unequal population seeking to form a uniform national government that could mediate conflicts the states had not been able to thrash out between themselves. The delegates at the Constitutional Convention did not forsee how out of balance & "non equally representative" it would become as additional states joined the Union.

    Even the Electoral College was primarily a compromise intended to ensure the President would be elected with widespread support throughout ALL of the States, without giving undue factional advantage to any state or sub-group of states. They failed to anticipate the rise of political parties or that state legislatures might seek advantage for a particular political party by passing "winner takes all" laws.

    The original plan of the Electoral College was based upon several assumptions and anticipations of the Framers of the Constitution:
    --Choice of the president should reflect the "sense of the people" at a particular time, not the dictates of a faction in a "pre-established body" such as Congress or the State legislatures, and independent of the influence of "foreign powers".
    --The choice would be made decisively with a "full and fair expression of the public will" but also maintaining "as little opportunity as possible to tumult and disorder".
    --Individual electors would be elected by citizens on a district-by-district basis. Voting for president would include the widest electorate allowed in each state.
    --Each presidential elector would exercise independent judgment when voting, deliberating with the most complete information available in a system that over time, tended to bring about a good administration of the laws passed by Congress.
    --Candidates would not pair together on the same ticket with assumed placements toward each office of president and vice president.

    Basically, the Founding Fathers were men of Civic Virtue who put Nation, State & Community ahead of their own narrow interests and failed to anticipate that most politicians will not. They sought to insulate the Presidency from the greed-heads.

    It just didn't work out the way they intended.

    223:

    Re: 'But the key is the density, not the shift from hunting and gathering to farming.'

    Agree.

    And let's not forget fishing. Also birds.

    Most descriptions/discussions about pre-agricultural civilizations make it sound as though there was only one option: land animals. Not so.

    I was looking up info about what to plant at my new location and found an article by a uni botanist who basically said that almost all local flora was inedible and much of it was poisonous. Made me think that the move to agriculture was a combination of desperation and luck.

    Haven't searched but wonder just how many plants (percent of all flora) in any locality are safe to eat. Then compare vs. local animals/fauna. For now - unless someone has data otherwise - I'm betting on any local fauna being safer. And I'm also betting that's probably a key reason why agriculture took so long to develop.

    Shifting to agriculture/agricultural products as the sole dietary source - probably happened a few times. If it did, I'm guessing that any such societies would within a few decades or couple of generations have died of disease/health conditions linked to malnutrition. (See the swollen abdomens esp. on Egyptian art.)

    Then there's sanitation - staying in-place also means a pretty fast build up of human and probably some domesticated animal waste. This also leads to increased risk of disease. Not sure who the first sanitation architects/engineers were but they probably deserve at least as much credit for urbanization as the first agriculturists/agronomists.

    224:

    Re: Pigeon's remarks, #199. Phil used to get some odd change but he can't really spend it any more. Given he's deceased, probably true.

    [[ HTML fix - mod ]]

    225:

    "(We don't need to shoot them, just remove their role as head-of-state and replace them with something else.)"

    Why do we need to do this? I don't mean "why might some people want to do it"; I mean what real and significant problems are sufficiently exclusively the consequence of our head of state being a monarch that they would be noticeably reduced or eliminated by changing to the head of state being not a monarch, and not simply made worse and/or superseded by other comparably significant problems.

    Certainly none of the problems described in your initial post are of this nature; indeed they are quite the opposite. They arise from an irresponsible and selfish government crudely and ignorantly ripping apart a well-established and highly complex legal framework for their own gain. We've had measures in place to stop monarchs doing that sort of thing for a long long time, but they mainly function by taking the power to do it away from the monarch and giving it to the government instead. The basic vulnerability - who custards the custard - still exists, it's just made harder to exploit by requiring a programme of public deception as a precondition instead of just being able to wake up in the morning and start doing it. And that defence isn't worth much any more now that we have developed slow-AIs to set up that precondition with unprecedented rapidity.

    If the head of state is chosen by any form of active selection, it cannot avoid being an inherently political office (even selection by pin in the phone book doesn't avoid it completely). It therefore becomes merely another piece of political functionality to be subverted by the wreckers, and inevitably also a significantly useful one to subvert - even if it doesn't have any power, it's still very useful for PR and the like. So as far as the initial post is concerned, it would make nothing better but very likely make it rather worse.

    A necessary (though not necessarily sufficient) condition for avoiding that is for the head of state to be chosen by passive selection. I must admit I can't really think of any viable means of passive selection that's significantly different from the familiar inheritance method the monarchy uses. Assuming none such does exist, then I can't see that what you end up with is anything other than basically still a monarchy but not called that.

    It's also something you can't really set up out of nowhere and expect it to last. Without the weight of tradition to support it, the populace will simply want to go back to what does form part of tradition (even if most of them can't remember when it was like that, cf. your comments about reversion to pre-Soviet traditions). The tradition aspect is also important (if perhaps not irreplacably so) for the actual office holder to understand what the job is really all about.

    Regarding #37 (b), that is not actually true of the British monarchy. There is nothing in law to prevent even the Queen from voting or running for office. She just doesn't do it, because she understands the importance of keeping the head of state as a non-political office. It is a family tradition to understand the rather weird position they're in and put up with the disadvantages as the price of retaining the advantages (and if they don't like it, even the reigning monarch is free to say "fuck this, I'm not going to be royal any more" and bugger off). You could still argue that they are an underclass in practice if not in theory, but since there are only the merest handful of people in that underclass and they mostly seem pretty happy with their situation (at least as far as anyone is), it's kind of hard to make it a serious objection.

    Certainly, again, there are other ways to obtain similar behaviour, but to instantiate them from scratch and achieve a comparably effective outcome is not a straightforward problem, and it's far simpler to stick with what we've got that works than to go to all the hassle of trying to replace it with something that works the same but is called something different.

    To go back to your initial post, the concept of the monarchical system is far, far more deeply embedded in British law than a few decades of EU influence is. Even a competent and well-meaning government would have a fucking impossible task to try and disentangle it and get the body of law to stand up on its own without accidentally fucking anything up; it is practically inevitable that they would fail, and it would be only natural for the failures to fall on the side of excessive government advantage. Let anything like the current bunch of saboteurs and traitors get anywhere near it and the result doesn't bear thinking about. An absolutely necessary precondition for attempting such a change is to perform an Augean stables operation on the part of the state machinery where the actual power is.

    There is a failure of imagination problem here in that underneath the multiplicity of different names for mere variants of the same things, the only two models on offer seem to be "monarch" and "president", and I can't imagine any third model that definitely isn't either of those, nor can I imagine how subverting the question entirely by not having a head of state at all would work. This isn't to say that answers to those questions don't exist, just that I can't think of them - and moreover, nobody else seems to be able to think of them either; all discussion seems to view the matter as a simple one-bit binary choice.

    In terms of that choice, a president is tolerably straightforward (as these things go) to set up, but is definitely and inevitably political in all variants; a monarch is better grown than made, but apolitical variants of it do exist. If you happen to have one of those already, then it is the kind of asset that once thrown away is basically impossible to get back.

    I'm not for a moment trying to claim that the current British system is the theoretical optimum; but I am saying that the result of replacing it with anything else would, barring the most improbable chance, come out strongly negative. The practically significant disadvantages of it are the kind of things that you inevitably get along with any kind of head of state, so they would still be with us in some form or another (and likely with less constraint); there are also disadvantages in the way of trivial and insignificant failures to correspond with some arbitrary abstraction nowhere instantiated in actuality, but again, any kind of head of state has its own set of those, so no noticeable change there either.

    But on the other side, the points in favour of some kind of president over the current system seem to be exclusively drawn from that same pool of trivia, whereas the principal advantage of the current system is neatly illustrated by observing that it's bad enough having Bozo for PM, so imagine having him as President.

    And in addition to the argument based on steady states, there is the argument that the transition from one state to the other would be administered by people drawn from the kind of pool of talent and goodwill that consists entirely of turds, flies, and strips of old bog roll, and the result would make the current EU situation look like a mere stray droplet of piss.

    226:

    I'm sorry, it was your "never seen" comment that struck me. I should have looked back more.

    227:

    Yes. My guess is that the low-density farmers actually ate BETTER than the hunter-gatherers, and with more time on their hands, because they had some protection from the infertile season. But they would also have done some hunting and gathering, when it was convenient or necessary. In Britain, that was compounded by the extreme shortage of gatherable, calorific foods. But the key is the density, not the shift from hunting and gathering to farming.

    First off, this gets into what Pascoe and Gammage are talking about, as are others. You might actually enjoy their books. Bottom line is, there's no dividing line between hunter-gatherers and planters, so you're not making that useful a distinction.

    If you do stuff to encourage a better crop from plants, you're cultivating the plant. The critical difference is that modern western foragers generally don't do much (if anything) to care for the populations they harvest. Look at industrial fishing, market hunting, commercial mushroom gatherers, loggers, etc.

    This plunder and go on ethic is antithetical to what most "primitive hunter gatherer" people do. They know full well that what they eat later depends on what they do now, so they take care of their lands very, very carefully, whether they're tilling a field or not. This in turn means that "primitive hunter gatherers" have more in common with modern farmers than they do with modern hunters, especially industrial hunters. This is what I'm getting at, and why Pascoe's pushing for aborigines to be called "traditional farmers."

    As for agriculture being a backstop against famine...Sometimes yes (if food can be stored or moved) sometimes no. Similarly, gathering, especially if you can eat dozens or hundreds of foods, can be a better backstop than farming. There are good cases of hunter-gatherers doing okay while their farmer neighbors go hungry. So it's complicated.

    228:

    ". Then you have the various Dukes and Earls who own much of the UK's most valuable real estate and protect their holdings with the distinctly feudal practice of leasehold,"

    Leasehold is not uncommon here in the Pacific, where it's largely used as an anti-colonialism device. Here it is related to maintaining traditional land-ownership, but not to feudalism.

    If you want to buy a house in Rarotonga, you could get a lovely place on a the beach, or up on a hill with a gorgeous view.

    Or maybe you want your own private island? Right now there's one on the market in Tonga that's about 4 acres and close enough to the mainland that you can wade there across the lagoon at low tide, for just $60k USD.

    But you can't buy them. Only locals can buy land. Foreigners can only lease it - for up to 60 years in the Cook Islands, up to 70 years in Tonga.

    229:

    Similar arguments surround the republican debate in Aus: having a head of state who doesn't participate in the business of government or politics. Here there's the added bonus of absenteeism and representation through delegates (multiples, because they are needed at federal and state level, given each state is still an independent jurisdiction), where the appointment of the delegate is handled by the local political system. The standard vanilla proposal for an Australian republic always simply renamed the head of state role to be "president", and severed the vice-regal link for that and the state governor roles. The referendum to that effect a couple of decades ago failed. It's hard to say whether there's a single reason it failed, but for me it seems like it did too much for the monarchists to tolerate, and too little for actual republicans (as opposed to people who just wanted the issue to go away)... after all, if everything keeps working the same way, what's the point?

    These days models for an Australian republic usually have other things in them. There's a call for aboriginal recognition in any new constitution and in principle that's non-controversial and bipartisan (even if the specific details are political). There's a call for aboriginal consultation and/or representation in government, the proposed "third chamber of parliament" straw man that conservatives like to demolish occasionally. How the role of a president might work in relation to something that recognises a role for traditional culture is an open question. The current split on party lines is that the conservatives won't even consider anything like that, while Labor and the Greens might be open to a discussion. There is is still a specific proposal ("the voice to parliament") that is part of the Uluru Statement from the Heart that Malcolm Turnbull snubbed so miserably a few years ago. So this is an evolving space over here.

    230:

    I agree with all this. I'd just add that, having read Gammage before Pascoe, I note Gammage called attention to the way the distinction and definitions of "hunter/gatherer" and "agriculture" are actually problematic, something made clear partly by the evidence of what aboriginal people did. For that reason he didn't want to call it agriculture. Pascoe on the other hand, referring to the colonist-settler era and the justification for dispossession that at least partly rested on treating it as something other than agriculture, does want to call it agriculture. Sure that's a political reason, but that doesn't mean it isn't a good reason.

    I should also point out that terra nullius actually translates as "nobody's land" rather than "empty land". The conceit is that because aboriginal people didn't practice "agriculture" on the land it could not be said to belong to them. While there has been a specific legal review of the concept that in fact overturned it (The Mabo Decision), it's still largely intact as an ideological point in Australian politics coming from a certain perspective. Even where individuals recognise (or say they recognise) a historical wrong. And for conservatives it's mostly still an article of faith to deny even the historical wrong.

    231:

    Hunting and gathering reaches a sustainable point but not immediately. Large animals tend to go extinct when humans arrive and massively wasteful hunting seems to be at least one cause of that (it was the reason that moas and the Haast's eagles that predated on them went extinct in NZ; Europeans hunting whales and seals commercially had a similar effect later.) Probably life is really easy for hunters at the point of arrival and becomes less so once those big animals are gone - I don't think the ease is a constant.

    232:

    Various larger animals basically vanished from the Americas around 10K years ago. Just after the new folks showed up and got established.

    233:

    I would never forget fishing, but the problem is most fish and all shellfish lack fat (hence calories); birds (and reptiles, where relevant) are like mammals.

    I can tell you how easy it is to gather greenstuff in northern Europe - it needs only a minimal understanding of what families (i.e. similiar-looking plants) are dangerous and, despite claims, there is nothing that cannot be tested using the 'universal' method (*). No, water hemlock is NOT as poisonous as the hysterics make out - I took a look at the science. Basically, stick with Cruciferae, Polygonacea, Primulacea etc. and selected other species that you can identify positively. I could gather kilos from suitable habitats in a short time from spring to autumn - they would need boiling, would be rank and chewy, but would fill your belly and provide many nutrients. Few calories, though.

    (*) Which doesn't work for fungi or many tropical plants.

    234:

    Yes, it's complicated, but I was specifically referring to places with an infertile season (which most of California doesn't have). In such a season, gathering becomes energetically unprofitable and often comes to a complete halt (yes, complete). In Britain, that could last from a month or so up to five months. Most humans do not do well on a pure meat and fish diet for such a period.

    235:

    EC Then, of course, you have "fun" with families like the Solonaceae ... which are Edible or Poisonous or both. Like the Potato ....

    236:

    Yes, though no native members are edible, as far as I know. The Compositae are similar, but few (if any) British species are palatable, and we have very few poisonous ones. The Leguminosae would be, except I don't think we have any poisonous ones. There are really very few plants you have to avoid, and most are easily recognisable, though a great many are unpalatable. The only really tricky family is the Umbelliferae, which is why I avoid it.

    237:

    "places with an infertile season"

    The word "kitchen-midden" comes from danish archaeology, where stone-age tribes would "commute" between inland and coastal dwellings depending on season.

    The "kitchen-middens" are on the coast, and consists mostly of oyster shells, often several thousand years worth in one place.

    Life seems to have been good, for those several thousand years, there are absolutely no evidence of any technological developments.

    There is a theory that agriculture subsequently developed as a result of overpopulation, but as far as I know it is pure speculation.

    238:

    My understanding of most premodern agriculture is that is was decidedly NOT monocropping of a single product.

    A farmer/peasant/whatever would plant multiple crops to balance the risks of various weather or disease outcomes, as well as optimize the location of each piece of land.

    So, using Europe as an example, a farmer might plant wheat in some areas because it is highly rewarding in caloric output when it works, but it is also more vulnerable to cold weather. Millet, corn etc. would be planted in other parts of their available land to offset the risk of losing the wheat crop. Presumably cabbages and other vegetables would also get some space.

    That also doesn't mean that they are working nonstop on the fields every day of the year. Planting and harvesting/threshing were all hands on deck, the rest of the year involved many other activities - no doubt including hunting, fishing but also textiles, wood cutting or whatever. Some places favour herding over agriculture, but the same general concepts apply.

    Agriculture meant it was possible to have a larger population, and have more security from famine and from human threats. With surplus food it became possible to support some specialization, which included security.

    All well and good to hunt and forage, but if the nearby people have an army eventually they may choose to come and take your land - as seen in countless historical episodes. There would be an appeal to having a farm with a walled town nearby in case the neighbours get pushy.

    239:

    Why do we need to do this? I don't mean "why might some people want to do it"; I mean what real and significant problems are sufficiently exclusively the consequence of our head of state being a monarch that they would be noticeably reduced or eliminated by changing to the head of state being not a monarch,

    Stop right there and ask why do we need an individual head of state at all?

    Presidential systems simply abstract the monarch's constitutional role and dump it on an elected politician. Give 'em too much power and you end up with a dictator instead -- see also Vladimir Putin.

    I think we'd be better off ditching the entire idea of a single human being as head of state. The failure modes are clear enough: it creates a single point of failure, dumps too much decision-making power on one set of shoulders, and doesn't really give us anything that a committee system with a pre-canned division of responsibilities and collective responsibilities can't manage.

    240:

    Stop right there and ask why do we need an individual head of state at all?

    Well, the critical point of failure in our modern system is that committees take to long to launch nuclear missiles in retaliation, so if you're going to go with a Head Committee, probably you need something like a dead hand defense, or to give the military standing authority to launch. Which puts the power in the hands of an unelected general. Or colonel...

    A legitimate criticism of the US presidential system is that tying the executive and ceremonial roles together puts a lot on one person's shoulders. I think a legitimate criticism of the British system is that having a ceremonial monarch and a separate executive wastes the managerial skills of the monarch and presumes competence in the PM to deal with intractable problems on an all work/no fun basis. At this point, I'd suggest a system with King Bozo and PM Charles III would probably function better than what's installed.

    A heterarchy, based on committees or other subdivisions of power, is a reasonable way to institute checks and balances. But as with any system, it can be gamed. The other problems are that it's slow (when speed is of the essence, as with getting climate change adaptations rolling), and it tends to default to conservative/minimal change solutions, because so many people have to sign off. That can also be a problem, as with climate change.

    So bottom line? Whatever you've got is likely suboptimal, no matter what you've got.

    241:

    Question: how does something like this relate to agriculture?

    https://www.bbc.com/travel/article/20211013-an-underwater-mystery-on-canadas-coast

    https://archive.archaeology.org/1109/features/coastsalishclamgardenssalmon.html

    Restructuring the landscape to provide a better environment for fish and clams looks a lot like agriculture to me, leaving aside the matter of seeding…. But still, a fixed patch of land tended for generations to provide a stable food source.

    242:

    Restructuring the landscape to provide a better environment for fish and clams looks a lot like agriculture to me, leaving aside the matter of seeding…. But still, a fixed patch of land tended for generations to provide a stable food source.

    But if white folk raise geoducks in mudflats, it's aquaculture?

    Given that the PNW Indians had social hierarchy (chiefs, commoners, slaves) and some metallurgy, they've always been the standout as "they look civilized, weird for hunter-gatherers, guess they didn't read our hierarchical theories." Turns out the women grow (grew) plants like wapato in wet fields and bulbs elsewhere, and this was largely missed by male anthropologists of a century ago.

    This is why I said that Indian gardens can be really easy to miss, especially when they're complex. There are similar arguments about exactly what the California Indians were doing--well, except for my local Kumeyaay, who went to grow corn along the Colorado River in summer with the Yuman people, but didn't bother to grow it on my side of the mountains. There's also that huge controversy over how heavily the Amazon was settled before smallpox got in there. And what their gardens looked like (cf Terra Preta).

    Anyway, if you want to read about PNW agriculture and agriculturish things, try looking at the Hakai magazine website, or find a copy of Deur and Turner's Keeping It Living: Traditions of Plant Use and Cultivation on the Northwest Coast of North America. Nancy Turner's made a career out of this field.

    243:

    Well, the critical point of failure in our modern system is that committees take to long to launch nuclear missiles in retaliation,

    Frankly this is a non-issue. Firstly, we've never faced a non-simulated situation where the decision to launch a retaliatory strike got escalated to executive level in over 75 years of nuclear weapons being a thing, and 70 years of deterrence. Secondly, do you really trust a president or king to do a better job than a military chain of command staffed by officers pre-screened for stability and sanity (and not wanting to flash-fry their families by return of missile)? Hint: consider Dnld Tr*mp.

    If you need to chair an executive committee, just have a rotation whereby each member gets a turn in the hot seat. (It's how the EU Council of Ministers works.) Very few top-level executive functions require a dictatorial response in real time: as long as you don't have a political gridlock due to one or more major parties denying the legitimacy of the entire system of government, you don't have a problem.

    244:

    For some reason, the need for a single authority figure seems deeply ingrained in the human psyche. There is also the problem with committees that they are very prone to deadlock when faced with an urgent problem where all choices are unpalatable.

    That being said, there is a lot to be said for a consensually appointed or otherwise independent head of state whose powers are those of resolving deadlock and blocking executive actions that are ultra vires.

    245:

    Stop right there and ask why do we need an individual head of state at all?

    Well my favourite contender for the Australian republican constitutional reforms is to replace the role of the viceroy with a council of (aboriginal) elders. That would be at least as substantial a change as the "third House of Parliament" straw man, and it would address a few things at once. But like any substantial change the details would matter a lot, and I'm not clear how the optimal version would look.

    246:

    Frankly this is a non-issue. Firstly, we've never faced a non-simulated situation where the decision to launch a retaliatory strike got escalated to executive level in over 75 years of nuclear weapons being a thing, and 70 years of deterrence.

    Yeah. Worked, didn't it? Nuclear weapons are the extreme version of Vimesian weapons (per PTerry): they're for having, not using. The point of nukes in the modern day is that whoever has them is sociopathic enough that they're willing to start armageddon if they get too scared--so don't scare them, natch? Like it or not, the ability to rapidly retaliate is the basis of the US Imperial presidency. The dude(tte) with the football gets to make the call, not Congress. Back in the 1950s they looked at having Congress have the sole power to declare nuclear war, and decided it wouldn't work, even for a small subsection of the institution. It's too slow, even if some of the Congresscritters aren't paid agents of whoever.

    I think your idea of rapidly rotating button-pushers is worth exploring. I'd seriously suggest testing any proposed solution with "Suppose The Button passes to an IQ.45-clone. What happens next?" What do you do about someone who refuses to abdicate The Button, or who questions the legitimacy of the Button Pusher, or who refuses to use it because they're an enemy agent? The same question can be asked of a military chain of command. Right now, the Missileers are trained to unquestioningly obey the order to launch, no matter what. What if they're given the ability to decide whether to launch. Do you promote launchers to deciders? Or bring them in from other commands? How do you trust their decisions?

    It's an interesting question, whether or not a solution turns out to be possible. The thing to remember is that rapid retaliation is part of the Vimesian nature of nukes, along with the assumption that they'll work perfectly the first time, even though they're never tested in full. Bizarre, aren't they?

    247:

    Nuclear weapons are the extreme version of Vimesian weapons (per PTerry): they're for having, not using.

    This kind of reminds me of the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, because there's again some talk here in Finland about taking part of that treaty. Of course there are opinions (or rather statements of fact) that this would mean not getting into Nato. Apparently for many people that is a downside.

    Still I'm kind of annoyed by the thinking that even Nato (or rather, the US) would ever be in a situation to use them, especially somewhere on our soil (though obviously more likely here than in the US). There's little benefit to nuclear weapons, but still some countries seem to want them anyway.

    It'd just be easier if the nuclear powers just said that "yes, we have this many of them" and nobody had any... Cheaper, too.

    248:

    Yes, it was intentionally non equally representative. In a variety of ways. You're talking about some of the reasons it is, not refuting it.

    But I am aware you take any potentially negative comments about the founders personally.

    249:

    It'd just be easier if the nuclear powers just said that "yes, we have this many of them" and nobody had any... Cheaper, too.

    Yes, sort of like elks going around with bags over their heads during the rut, saying, "Yeah, my antler rack has 24 points. Go away and let me fuck all the females." Unfortunately, that's not how sexual selection works. The selection has to be obvious, expensive, and testable.

    Oh wait, did I just compare sexual selection with big, phallic rockets? Silly me. No nuclear stag is trying to maintain harems of the non-nuclear doe countries to fcuk with. Really...

    Sarcasm aside, there are a lot of similarities between the antlers on deer and nuclear weapons. They've got to be big, obvious, and expensive and ready for instant violence to do their job. But ideally, they do their jobs without having to actually be used in battle, just by intimidation. The real utility of this metaphor is that the most dangerous time comes when the Nukestags can't compare the relative sizes of their racks, or when their racks are equal in size, so they have to have a competition using them to determine who is dominant. Assuming this is a correct analogy (hah!) what we want very strongly is an unambiguous nuclear hierarchy, to prevent that battle. This isn't a great solution for all the non-nuclear countries, of course, but we're in strange times.

    250:

    an executive committee

    I think this is how the USSR, China, Viet Nam, and other assorted places were set up. And for most of their history they had a strong man take over the committees. Well just before and after Khrushchev there seemed to be a real committee in charge. Or no real strong man for the public. But the Kremlin was so insular in the middle 60s who knows what was happening in that committee room?

    Near the end of Ho's time in Viet Nam he was more a puppet than a leader.

    As other have indicated, power attracts those who crave power.

    251:

    Since this is purportedly a SFF blog and Dune is in the theaters, I wanted to bring up a characteristic of that universe: the nuclear aristocracy with their "family atomics" in place of the family jewels.

    I've only read the first book, so I don't know if any of the series gets into the minutiae of how a nuclear aristocracy would work. My presumption is that the whole point of that was for Paul Atriedes to use his nukes (how'd he save them from the Harkonnen?) to blow a hole in the wall around Arrakeen and come in with a horde of fremen on a horde of sandworms to capture the emperor. Rule of Cool stuff, like shield belts and rapiers.

    But, since we're talking about AltNuke political systems, let's bring in the aristocrats. Would a nuclear aristocracy work as a stabilizing system, like elk antlers in ranked order of deadliness maintaining the common herd more-or-less nonviolently? How would the aristocrats obtain and maintain their weapons? What happens when they lose or use them? Where did they come from in the first place? Would a nuclear aristocracy shift the nature of warfare, from plunder and destroy a la WW2 and previous, to corrupt and disable, a la modern hybrid warfare?

    And how would it work for everyday governance? The best outcome would be having Some GoodDuke IV using the threat of nuclear violence to keep armies out of his demesne so that their people can live peacefully. The more problematic version would be a plutocrat like the Markuis of Zuckerburg or Baron Buzos using their vast fortunes to acquire nuclear infrastructure and make nukes, then make walled garden territories, with maybe just a soupcon of juche inside. The nukes presumably stop things like revolutions and wars of liberation...

    252:

    Since this is purportedly a SFF blog and Dune is in the theaters, I wanted to bring up a characteristic of that universe: the nuclear aristocracy with their "family atomics" in place of the family jewels.

    Well in the same vein there is always the Foundation SERIES genetic dynasty. Although they are talking about failure modes now in episode 7 or 8.

    253:

    It's also how Switzerland works. Seven member Federal Council elected by the Federal Assembly (joint session of the two houses of their parliament) for four year terms, one of the seven elected as President of the Confederation for a year.

    Also Malaysia where the head of state is elected for a five year term from among the nine monarchs of the Malay states by the nine plus the governors of the other four states.

    254:

    Pigeon @ 225:

    "(We don't need to shoot them, just remove their role as head-of-state and replace them with something else.)"

    Why do we need to do this? I don't mean "why might some people want to do it"; I mean what real and significant problems are sufficiently exclusively the consequence of our head of state being a monarch that they would be noticeably reduced or eliminated by changing to the head of state being not a monarch, and not simply made worse and/or superseded by other comparably significant problems.

    That was where I was going with my comment about the Monarchy & tourist revenue. Y'all got problems, but the Monarchy doesn't appear to be causing them. I don't see how getting rid of the Monarchy would make things any better, and it could make things worse.

    How does the saying go? "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!"

    Understand that I am NOT trying to tell y'all how to govern yourselves. I'm just enjoying watching the parade go by.

    255: 238 - Indeed, as far as it goes. Pre-intensive agriculture would also rotate crops on the available land. 240 - OTOH the only 2 uses of a live nuclear weapon have been against a nation which did not possess nuclear weapons of its own.
    256:

    Charlie @ 239:

    Why do we need to do this? I don't mean "why might some people want to do it"; I mean what real and significant problems are sufficiently exclusively the consequence of our head of state being a monarch that they would be noticeably reduced or eliminated by changing to the head of state being not a monarch,

    Stop right there and ask why do we need an individual head of state at all?

    Presidential systems simply abstract the monarch's constitutional role and dump it on an elected politician. Give 'em too much power and you end up with a dictator instead -- see also Vladimir Putin.

    I think we'd be better off ditching the entire idea of a single human being as head of state. The failure modes are clear enough: it creates a single point of failure, dumps too much decision-making power on one set of shoulders, and doesn't really give us anything that a committee system with a pre-canned division of responsibilities and collective responsibilities can't manage.

    How much "decision-making power" does the Queen have? I thought her role as Head of State had been largely reduced to the ceremonial. Does she have any place in the day to day workings of governance in the U.K.

    I thought her job as Queen was to meet other Heads of State, wine & dine them while the government got on with negotiating whatever needed negotiating with those other states. That and she seems to sponsor a lot of "Good Works" by private charities that relieves the government of the responsibility of looking after the welfare of the less fortunate.

    257:

    replace the role of the viceroy with a council of (aboriginal) elders

    Neatly flipping the "one drop" rule on its head, if nothing else.

    Note that while Australia doesn't have anyone of the stature of Tipene O'Reagan largely due to lack of opportunity, once we had a Council of Elders with actual power that would change rapidly. Right now ambitious traditional owners have no reason to engage with the political system other than in oppositional mode, due to the long and proud history the settler government has of fucking those people over. But if that changed there'd be a short period of turmoil before I reckon we would see serious political beasts emerge (meaning no slur on our current crop of black politicians, just that they're competing for weak sauce)

    It would also be worth looking at some of the little countries nearby if Australia could bring itself to do that. Various island states have assorted kings, presidents, chiefs and dictators, appointed by different means. From "I'm the head of the army and you can shut up" to "my father was king, and his father before him", or indeed "a previous president bought your king so you can STFU".

    Kiribati, for example, does what has been talked about here: Following an election, the Maneaba(parliament) nominates three or four members to stand as candidates for president. The voting public elect the president (Te Beretitenti). The Beretitenti is head of state and head of government. He or she appoints a vice president, attorney general and up to eight other cabinet ministers from among the members of the Maneaba.

    But note that the slightly nebulously not-a-king of Samoa didn't really help when he was desperately needed recently. Likewise Frankie Boy hasn't done terribly well lately with the health crisis

    258:

    Charlie Stross @ 243:h

    Well, the critical point of failure in our modern system is that committees take to long to launch nuclear missiles in retaliation,

    Frankly this is a non-issue. Firstly, we've never faced a non-simulated situation where the decision to launch a retaliatory strike got escalated to executive level in over 75 years of nuclear weapons being a thing, and 70 years of deterrence. Secondly, do you really trust a president or king to do a better job than a military chain of command staffed by officers pre-screened for stability and sanity (and not wanting to flash-fry their families by return of missile)? Hint: consider Dnld Tr*mp.

    I don't think having the military decide whether to go to war or not is such a good idea. Ultimately the decision should rest on the Civilian Government (Cheatolini Il Douchebag not withstanding).

    If you need to chair an executive committee, just have a rotation whereby each member gets a turn in the hot seat. (It's how the EU Council of Ministers works.) Very few top-level executive functions require a dictatorial response in real time: as long as you don't have a political gridlock due to one or more major parties denying the legitimacy of the entire system of government, you don't have a problem.

    OTOH, we unfortunately DO NOT HAVE a system free of "political gridlock due to one or more major parties denying the legitimacy of the entire system ..."

    The original intent of the framers of the Constitution was for the President to be an (Executive) administrator. As such he was NOT envisioned as a political officeholder. Partisan politics were NOT A THING in 1787. It is an unfortunate failure of imagination among the founders that they did not anticipate how they would arise or that the Presidency would become a political office.

    259:

    Mikko Parviainen (he/him) @ 247:

    Nuclear weapons are the extreme version of Vimesian weapons (per PTerry): they're for having, not using.

    This kind of reminds me of the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, because there's again some talk here in Finland about taking part of that treaty. Of course there are opinions (or rather statements of fact) that this would mean not getting into Nato. Apparently for many people that is a downside.

    Still I'm kind of annoyed by the thinking that even Nato (or rather, the US) would ever be in a situation to use them, especially somewhere on our soil (though obviously more likely here than in the US). There's little benefit to nuclear weapons, but still some countries seem to want them anyway.

    It'd just be easier if the nuclear powers just said that "yes, we have this many of them" and nobody had any... Cheaper, too.

    The problem with NATO is there was a brief period right after the collapse of the Soviet Union when we should have invited Russia to join. It would have allowed us to help Russia to develop into a democracy instead of a kleptocracy verging on totalitarianism.

    I think it would have also given both the U.S. & Russia to reason to reduce their nuclear arsenals, which in turn would have allowed us greater influence with China, India & Pakistan towards reducing their nuclear arsenals (and maybe persuaded Iran & North Korea they had no need to develop them).

    But we blew it.

    260:

    Justin Jordan @ 248: Yes, it was intentionally non equally representative. In a variety of ways. You're talking about some of the reasons it is, not refuting it.

    But I am aware you take any potentially negative comments about the founders personally.

    I strongly disagree with "intentionally"

    261:

    How much "decision-making power" does the Queen have?

    She can refuse the Royal Assent to an Act of Parliament. However, this is an absolute one use power, due to the constitutional crisis that it will precipitate.

    262:

    To be clear regarding the US electoral college and elections of the POTUS: it was a deliberate organization to further keep control of the election process and who even was to be considered. Most people at the time of the Constitution and through the Early Republic era were not allowed to vote. And when it came to who sat in the Senate, there wasn't popular vote for them UNTIL !913! Before that state senators were elected by state legislators -- who themselves were elected by a very limited number of voters until the Jacksonian era. Since the criteria for voting depended on property ownership or other wealth -- for instance that meant in the southern states only slaveowners by and large voted.

    ~~~~~~

    Regarding all the discussion on organization of states of any kind, farming, agriculture, hunting and gathering, it's important to realize how very well managed Sahelian cultures such as those in the regions where now what we know as Senegal, Chad, Mali, etc. were by their inhabitants, who did live in villages and towns. These were what got called derisively by capitalist mono Big Ag,'subsistence farming.'

    They did everything, including fish from the rivers upon which they depended for so much including trade. It was seldom when some aspect of their food supply failed due to drought or flood etc. that it all failed. So they didn't suffer famine in the way that Europeans did. They were able to hunt, to fish, to farm, to gather, and to trade, all well integrated throughout their cultures.

    The First Peoples of North America did this too.

    As far as leadership goes: has anyone yet read The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity by David Graeber (his last work before he died) and David Wengrow?

    263:

    Well, of course.

    But, we're doing it a little bit funkier than most of you. You can look up each topic we hit / "lit up" (inc. the unpruned 778 comment on another thread, Schrodinger's Bond Default Ahoy) and note a couple of things: They are all media topics 24-12hrs later. And not because we're hacking into their Media feeds: we're hacking something a little more primal.

    Or, if we were being Crude n Rude: They got Immantized. (And, tbh: discussions about double-Ontological Fold Spaces with regards to Rhizomatic prediction is kinda our bag, but not something we can discuss that often).

    4/4 Batting Average means we're paying attention to what The Other Side are doing, and probably aren't playing nice about it, either. It gets written (Logos) by those who control the issue: you write it after, you're in our fucking ball-pen, Mr Men. (HO-HO-HO)

    ~

    What is truely amazing about this entire discussion is that most major industrialised Nations (inc. CN + RU) have dumped massive amounts of endocrine, PCB/BBs etc into their food-chains and you FUCKS are getting sucked into the shit end of LGB TERF discussion instead of waking up and adding a few things together. i.e. You have / are fundamentally altering your own biochemistry with absolutely zero fucking knowledge of the large scale effects and so are stuck fucking obsessing about PENISES.

    The Ultra-Far-Right have at least woken up enough to start pondering what sperm decline means (of course, their conclusions are all rubbish); it'd be great if everyone else did.

    10-1 if Monsnato / Bayer etc haven't started funding the LGB train... well. cough They probably are thinking about it cough.

    It's 100% PR Gas-Land play-book and the sooner you ignore it and start playing Hard-Ball, the better.

    ~

    Oh, and with reference to Dune. Dune was him being safe and nice (well, in the first three books). Check out the The Pandora Sequence if you want him really pushing boundaries (with Bill). This was back when it was exciting reading.

    264:

    Oh, and it's actually 5/5 due to the Shabbat joke and LSE + rabid muppets attempting to create drama (via OLDSKOOL FAKE SOCIAL MEDIA MESSAGES: Hur hur, let's meet at 18:23:07 and this wasn't faked by a 50+ numpty whose computer is wiiiiide open, now was it?) with some UK home-brewed Culture War University (SUSSEX! Forget about the guy we made unemployed, here's a TIMES backed TERF who left.. because reasons!).

    All they did is make another 300,000 people aware of:

    a) Who they have on speed-dial (aka, how to Pazokify the Labour Right)

    b) How shit they are at propaganda (no... it was some students shouting "shame", and you have enough poltiical pull to have 30+ met officers already on the scene, it's not like "Kristallnacht" you obscenely fucking stupid wankers)

    c) How fucking weak it makes them look to the real nasties out there

    ~

    I mean: we front run that one as well, but you'll probably want to delete this. It's just pitiful you spend your lives being so willfully lied to / lying about your lives.

    You only get one life: we didn't get a choice, you did - you've no idea how badly this rankles when we see "the favoured of G_D" pulling this pathetic theatre And that goes for about 10k twitter accounts, all fired up to make the message fucking lie.

    There is no Light in them; hollow husks, souls bereft of dignity.

    265:

    "replace the role of the viceroy with a council of (aboriginal) elders"

    While I think this would be intensely cool, for the reason Moz mentioned and others, if land council administration is any guide, dog help us. See: "Hawks Nest" and the Obied development. (4 corners last week for details). The elders are people too, and just as likely to make terrible decisions and be swayed by brown paper bags as anyone else.

    266:

    Oh, and 100% that Indy piece you linked to is... just the tip.

    6,000 years of doing the dirty.

    14me 7-bi zag mu-ni-in-KEC2 15me mu-un-ur4-ur4 cu-ni-ce3 mu-un-la2 16me dug3 jiri3 gub-ba i-im-jen 17tug2cu-gur-ra men edin-na saj-ja2-na mu-un-jal2 18hi-li saj-ki-na cu ba-ni-in-tij4 19na4za-gin3 di4-di4-la2 gu2-na ba-an-la2

    "She took the seven divine powers. She collected the divine powers and grasped them in her hand. With the good divine powers, she went on her way. She put a turban, headgear for the open country, on her head. She took a wig for her forehead. She hung small lapis-lazuli beads around her neck."

    We do Nine.

    But, if you want the Gays-in-the-Village joke, here it is:

    334kug dinana-ke4 gal5-la2-e-ne mu-na-ni-ib-gi4-gi4 335en3-du-/du\ dcara-ju10 336umbin ku5-ku5-ra-ju10 gu2-tar la2-ju10 337en3 ta-gin7 nam-ma-ra-ni-ib-ze2-ej3-jen 338ga-e-re7-en-de3-en bad3-tibiraki-a e2-muc3-kalam-ma-ce3 ga-an-ci-re7-en-de3-en

    Holy Inana answered the demons: "Cara is my singer, my manicurist and my hairdresser. How could I turn him over to you? Let us go on. Let us go on to the E-muc-kalama in Bad-tibira."

    https://etcsl.orinst.ox.ac.uk/section1/tr141.htm

    This. Right. Here. 5,000 years ago, not throwing her gay haridresser to the Demons.

    And you arguing about penises right now.

    267:

    replace the role of the viceroy with a council of (aboriginal) elders" While I think this would be intensely cool, for the reason Moz mentioned and others, if land council administration is any guide, dog help us. See: "Hawks Nest" and the Obied development. (4 corners last week for details). The elders are people too, and just as likely to make terrible decisions and be swayed by brown paper bags as anyone else.

    That said, if they are as imperfect as anyone else, why not give them a chance. There's a subtle bias of the idea that if they can't be better than the whitefellas, then they should be shut out of power. But being radically imperfect is never used as a reason to keep white men as a class out of politics, no matter how many times the unfitness of individual candidates is shown.

    I think the more important issue, sadly, is whether their support and personal security systems are capable of dealing with the level of racist vitriol and violence directed at them, their families, and their communities. That, after all, is the White Way, and it's terribly effective, far too often. I don't want to exclude the elders from power, but I don't want their grandkids kidnapped either. How to minimize the latter happening? Give the aboriginal communities nukes and make them the atomic aristocracy of Australia, complete with a Dead Hand? It's a sick and tasteless joke, but if white guys only respect big phallic weapons, those in power need unusually potent ones.

    268:

    Sarcasm aside, there are a lot of similarities between the antlers on deer and nuclear weapons. They've got to be big, obvious, and expensive and ready for instant violence to do their job. But ideally, they do their jobs without having to actually be used in battle, just by intimidation. The real utility of this metaphor is that the most dangerous time comes when the Nukestags can't compare the relative sizes of their racks, or when their racks are equal in size, so they have to have a competition using them to determine who is dominant. Assuming this is a correct analogy (hah!) what we want very strongly is an unambiguous nuclear hierarchy, to prevent that battle. This isn't a great solution for all the non-nuclear countries, of course, but we're in strange times.

    Yeah, I get it. It's just that I have a bit different perspective here where we have some land border with Russia, and a history of conflict with them (and Sweden, but I think the last time Sweden fought here was over 200 years ago). For us I think it'd be better if no nuclear weapons existed. I'm also not convinced we wouldn't be traded off in case of a conflict even if we were even closer to Nato than we are now.

    We are also buying new fighter planes, as I think I mentioned some time ago, and reading some media there are apparently two choices: "American" or "political".

    269:

    JBS Officially .. The Monarch's Duty is: - "To Advise & to Warn" Currently, of course the PM simply doesn't listen to anyone's advice. There's also a strong suspicion that That Blair thought he knew better than someone with political experience going back 80 years ...

    Partisan politics were NOT A THING in 1787 .... I have this bridge to sell you.

    270:

    Well my favourite contender for the Australian republican constitutional reforms is to replace the role of the viceroy with a council of (aboriginal) elders.

    And over here in the US we have this little court case that has raised more than a few hackles.

    https://www.npr.org/2020/07/09/889562040/supreme-court-rules-that-about-half-of-oklahoma-is-indian-land

    271:

    support and personal security systems are capable of dealing with the level of racist vitriol and violence directed at them, their families, and their communities

    Quite. Personally I'd see the provision of the same level of security currently enjoyed by viceroys and the royals themselves as the least the state could provide, and several other perks these folks currently enjoy too. And that the inclusion criteria would be expansive. Maybe you don't have that level of security for all roughly 800 thousand aboriginal Australians, but you certainly lift them entirely out of poverty and into the independently wealthy realm just as, if nothing else, an anti-corruption initiative.

    272:

    The problem with NATO is there was a brief period right after the collapse of the Soviet Union when we should have invited Russia to join. It would have allowed us to help Russia to develop into a democracy instead of a kleptocracy verging on totalitarianism.

    This postulates a degree of long-term planning on the part of the US Foreign Policy elite that is on a level with the more paranoid conspiratorial thinking of the KGB, i.e. attributing coherent intent to a pile of squabbling kleptocratic raccoons in a trench-coat who were all on the make. Hence the neoliberal looters and asset strippers who DC sprayed at the former-USSR, which resulted in huge capital outflows, the rise of oligarchs, immiseration for the population, and eventually the creation of a popular platform for a strong man leader like Putin to exploit.

    I mean, look at how the Bushies ran Iraq, post-invasion, and tell me it's any different?

    As Talleyrand said of the restored Bourbon monarchy after the abdication of Napoleon: "They had learned nothing and forgotten nothing."

    273:

    How much "decision-making power" does the Queen have? I thought her role as Head of State had been largely reduced to the ceremonial.

    It turns out that while it's officially ceremonial, there's stuff the privy council doesn't talk about in public that occasionally leaks, bringing a whiff of decomposition to the public nostrils.

    The current Queen has enormous soft power within the UK establishment, precisely because she doesn't rock the boat over trivia. But it's widely suspected that actually pissing her off -- and she has a very long fuse -- would be a career-ending move for an entire government, let alone a prime minister. She can't directly overthrow them but if she let it be known that they'd lost her confidence it'd be almost impossible to continue in power without calling a general election, which they would probably lose at that point -- she's more popular than any of the parties, so indicating she's displeased with one of their leaders would be the kiss of death.

    (I think this -- the Queen visibly going cold on a prime minister -- is a more likely scenario than the queen refusing to sign an Act of Parliament into law: and it's still pretty unlikely because the Queen isn't an idiot and it's a constitutional nuke: if she uses it, there's no guarantee she won't be caught in the fallout plume.)

    Consequently, nobody wants to go there. So governments generally run their legislation past the privy council to solicit advise on what might offend Liz, and then they carefully remove it from the bills they're introducing.

    This isn't part of any written constitutional law, any more than the US Senate filibuster stuff that Mitch McConnell pulled out of his ass is part of the US Constitution. Doesn't make it any less creepingly toxic, though.

    274:

    I'm also not convinced we wouldn't be traded off in case of a conflict

    As a Canadian, I think that's an elementary deduction based on the clues at hand :-)

    American foreign policy is transactional with a very short memory. The most recent ex-President made it more obvious than most, but for a long time allies have been traded for domestic political reasons.

    275:

    On the other hand, when Gorbachec said something like "we would like to join the EU and eventually possibly NATO", the NATO secretary general said explicitly and publicly "that would not be appropriate". Worse, it worked consistently thereafter to make Russia and the Russians feel threatened. which is why they elected Putin and he is still very popular.

    276:

    Charlie @ 273 Except it looks as though BoZo is doing exactly that - breaking up the UK for his personal gain. Which is directly contra to Liz' Coronation Oath - which she takes very seriously. However ... have we noted some slightly-less-rabid sections of the tories starting to back away from BoZo recently? I wonder why that might be ....

    277:

    Some unrelated thoughts.

  • While I am an advocate of nuclear disarmament, I imagine Ukraine right now is really regretting sawing off their antlers.

  • I wonder if the Queen's reputation will take a nosedive after her death and the possibility exists of more skeletons in the closet being leaked: the racism against Meghan Markle or the covering up of known child molesters (Lord Mountbatten and Prince Andrew being the ones I know of). Joe Paterno, the Penn State football coach who covered decades of child molestation by an assistant coach is practically damnatio memoriae now.

  • An issue at least in the US with assigning some sort of indigenous council a head of state function is that white people are still holding the keys to who is recognized. We have history going to this day where tribal recognition is granted or denied for various reasons, there are still major ethnic groupings that have no voice under the Bureau of Indian Affairs (or they're subordinated to another ethnic group they have little in common with) and historically tribal leaders who collaborated with the invaders had a much bigger shot of being recognized than those who didn't.

  • 278:

    Addendum If BoZo & the unutterably thick-&-arrogant Frostie carry on as they are as indicated in this warning & fighting breaks out in NI as a result ... He'll be out so fast that you might have to blink very rapidly to see it. I don't doubt that pair-of-turds will try to blame the EU, but, this time, I don't think it will work.

    skulgun (2) No

    279:

    David L @ 232:

    Various larger animals basically vanished from the Americas around 10K years ago. Just after the new folks showed up and got established.

    If by "Just after the new folks showed up" you mean "at least 5k and at most 13k years after the new folks showed up", you'd be closer to correct.

    IIRC, the megafauna extinction was probably brought about by (1) Natives showing up several thousand years before and hunting sustainably for that time and (2) the maximum of the most recent ice age deranging climates / ecosystems, and megafauna being unable to react quickly enough to the changed climates, and the natives needing more food due to the changed climate.

    My $0.02, and worth both pennies.

    280:

    I seem to recall that Putin asked to join NATO shortly after he was first elected.

    Turning him down probably wasn't that myopic. I can just imagine him claiming that some neighbour like Georgia or Ukraine has attacked Russia, and invoking Article 5 to demand that the whole of the rest of NATO pile in on his side.

    281:

    paws4thot @ 261:

    How much "decision-making power" does the Queen have?

    She can refuse the Royal Assent to an Act of Parliament. However, this is an absolute one use power, due to the constitutional crisis that it will precipitate.

    If she only gets to use her "decision-making power" one time, that doesn't sound to me like it "dumps too much decision-making power on one set of shoulders". Especially if she loses the power if she ever exercises it.

    282:

    Yes, it's a one-use-only power: but as I noted earlier, everyone knows she's got it, and nobody wants her to use it, so they generally avoid getting into a pissing match with her: it really is a constitutional nuclear deterrent ("break glass and push button to detonate the government: life insurance invalid after one use"), and her very real reluctance to even hint at using it makes it all the more effective.

    283:

    I'm not certain because a largeish number of us know the effects, but relatively few know UK constitutional laws in sufficient detail, but the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ClaimofRightAct1689 may refer.

    284:

    282 Thought experiment for the next 2 years, BoZo gets unpopular enough ( Threatening their nice safe seats ) that the tories dump him & then elect a new leader ... Patel. Now - HM has a real, actual fascist as PM. Two precedents in nominally-democratic countries, I=in Europe, during her own lifetime: Italy & Norway. In Italy, the King assumed that Musso would be thrown out fairly soon ... which turned out badly. In Norway ( See the amazing film "The King's Decision" ) Haakon refused to accept the other politicians' attempt to "collaborate" with Vidkun Quisling - ... which turned out "well" .... What can/does Liz do? Call an immediate General Election? And if Patel still wins? [ Because the opposition parties are TOO STUPID to make an anti-Patel pact & only put up single candidates against her. } Gets difficult, doesn't it?

    285:

    Foxessa @ 262: To be clear regarding the US electoral college and elections of the POTUS: it was a deliberate organization to further keep control of the election process and who even was to be considered. [...]

    You also have to consider the INTENT of that control & process, and whether it EVER achieved its purpose. I contend the purpose was to ensure whoever was elected President had widespread support among ALL of the states so that the citizens of no state would feel their concerns were ignored. The President was to be an administrator who didn't favor any one faction over others.

    The Electoral College was INTENDED to be a parallel form of representative democracy operating alongside, but separate from Congress or the State Legislatures. The Office of President was intended to be filled on the basis of MERIT rather than popularity.

    The new Constitution wasn't drafted in a vacuum. There was already a United States, but the National Government was weak and lacked the power to perform necessary functions (courts to adjudicate claims between the citizens of different states, unified foreign policy, regulation of interstate commerce [tariffs one state imposed on goods produced or "imported" from another]).

    The delegates at the Constitutional Convention were appointed by the STATES. As such their purpose was to craft a government that would allow the STATES to coexist while fixing problems that arose under the first constitution, The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union.

    Direct election of the President by popular vote was rejected because just 4 states - Virginia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Massachusetts had MORE THAN HALF OF THE POPULATION (52%) - outnumbering the population of the other 9 states (Virginia, Pennsylvania & North Carolina alone had 40% of the population).

    The Electors were to be individually elected to take the "sense of the people" in a "full and fair expression of the public will" and use "independent judgment ... deliberating with the most complete information available" in order to "bring about a good administration of the laws passed by Congress" [@ 222]. "Winner takes all" was not part of the original intent,

    That appears to have happened in the first couple of elections (1788-1789 & 1792), but began to break down with the elections of 1796 & 1800 and was completely out the window by 1804 (and the subsequent passage of the 12th Amendment which effectively broke the Electoral College).

    Most people at the time of the Constitution and through the Early Republic era were not allowed to vote. And when it came to who sat in the Senate, there wasn't popular vote for them UNTIL !913! Before that state senators were elected by state legislators -- who themselves were elected by a very limited number of voters until the Jacksonian era. Since the criteria for voting depended on property ownership or other wealth -- for instance that meant in the southern states only slaveowners by and large voted.

    Not entirely. "Most people at the time of the Constitution" were women, who generally did not have the right to vote (something that was not even rectified by the 15th Amendment) But, the Constitution grants the states the power to set voting requirements and they were not universally so restrictive. Georgia removed property requirements in 1789.

    Several northern states enfranchised free Black males. New Jersey permitted unmarried women & widows to vote. Vermont, when admitted in 1791 gave the vote to all males regardless of color or property ownership ... New Hampshire removed property requirements in 1792. When Kentucky was admitted that same year all FREE men were allowed to vote (although slaves were not).

    It wasn't all good news. More often than not it was one step forward and two steps back ... women lost the right to vote in New Jersey in 1807, but gained the right to vote (in school elections) in Kentucky in 1838. In 1828 Maryland passes a law to allow Jews to vote (the last state to remove religious restrictions on the franchise). In 1848, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (that ended the Mexican-American War of 1846-1848) granted Mexicans living in the new U.S. territories (Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico & Utah) citizenship.

    North Carolina finally removes property requirements in 1856.

    And then, of course, there are the Fourteenth, Fifteenth, Nineteenth and twenty-fourth Amendments ...

    286:

    Greg Tingey @ 269: JBS
    Officially .. The Monarch's Duty is: - "To Advise & to Warn"
    Currently, of course the PM simply doesn't listen to anyone's advice.
    There's also a strong suspicion that That Blair thought he knew better than someone with political experience going back 80 years ..."

    Partisan politics were NOT A THING in 1787 .... I have this bridge to sell you.

    Is it the one that already fell down and was then sold to investors who reassembled it in Arizona? No thanks. Not without a solid maintenance history (WITH RECEIPTS).

    Note that in the election of 1788-1789, George Washington got 69 out of 69 Electoral Votes. In 1792 he got 132 our of 132.

    Political parties did not figure into U.S. Presidential elections until the election of 1796 when the Federalists put up a slate of John Adams & Thomas Pinkney, while the Democratic-Republicans put up a slate of Thomas Jefferson & Aaron Burr. Adams received 71 of 138 Electoral votes and became President, while his opponent Jefferson came second with 68 Electoral votes (Pinkney was 3rd with 59, Burr 4th with 30 ... I won't list the "also rans").

    In 1800 it went completely off the rails - Jefferson and his running mate Burr each got 73 Electoral votes throwing the election into the House of Representatives, where the Federalists tried to embarrass Jefferson by throwing the Presidency to Burr which in turn prompted the 12th Amendment. Incumbent Adams received 65 and his running mate Pinkney received 64 - John Jay received 1.

    So in 1787, PARTISAN POLITICS were NOT a thing; NOT a consideration among the delegates at the Constitutional Convention in how the President would be chosen.

    287:

    What can/does Liz do?

    It most likely won't happen before Liz turns 96.

    I know this is a sore topic, but cognitive impairment affects > 20% of over-80s. Liz seems to be in good shape for her age but has been having to take two week breaks lately: this suggests all is not well. COVID has led to an epidemic of cognitive impairment among the elderly, due to the loss of socialization during isolation. There seems to be an element of "use it or lose it" to speech and social ability, and the Queen was very secluded for about the first year of the pandemic. And there's also the risk of organic illness (e.g. vascular dementia). And finally, she's probably beyond weary of the responsibility.

    This is not the profile of a woman who is likely to take decisive action in a crisis. Nor is her son likely to push for it -- not at risk of jeopardizing his succession.

    TLDR: I really don't expect the monarchy to save us from Desi Himmler.

    288:

    Charlie Stross @ 272:

    The problem with NATO is there was a brief period right after the collapse of the Soviet Union when we should have invited Russia to join. It would have allowed us to help Russia to develop into a democracy instead of a kleptocracy verging on totalitarianism.

    This postulates a degree of long-term planning on the part of the US Foreign Policy elite that is on a level with the more paranoid conspiratorial thinking of the KGB, i.e. attributing coherent intent to a pile of squabbling kleptocratic raccoons in a trench-coat who were all on the make. Hence the neoliberal looters and asset strippers who DC sprayed at the former-USSR, which resulted in huge capital outflows, the rise of oligarchs, immiseration for the population, and eventually the creation of a popular platform for a strong man leader like Putin to exploit.

    I mean, look at how the Bushies ran Iraq, post-invasion, and tell me it's any different?

    Not inviting Russia to join NATO was a missed opportunity. We could have made a difference, but we didn't. Iraq was a fuck-up from the get-go that never should have happened. There was never any opportunity there to miss.

    Leaving Russia out of NATO was a missed exit on the motorway with a long detour to get back on track (and maybe you can no longer get there from here).

    Iraq was deliberately driving our HMMWV over a cliff.

    289:

    JReynolds @ 279: David L @ 232:

    Various larger animals basically vanished from the Americas around 10K years ago. Just after the new folks showed up and got established.

    If by "Just after the new folks showed up" you mean "at least 5k and at most 13k years after the new folks showed up", you'd be closer to correct.

    IIRC, the megafauna extinction was probably brought about by (1) Natives showing up several thousand years before and hunting sustainably for that time and (2) the maximum of the most recent ice age deranging climates / ecosystems, and megafauna being unable to react quickly enough to the changed climates, and the natives needing more food due to the changed climate."

    My $0.02, and worth both pennies.

    I've seen some articles recently that suggested the NEW inhabitants found better hunting in the new world, but it wasn't enough to drive the Megafauna to extinction. The primary cause of that appears to be climate change from the warming that ended the last ice age. But I don't think scientists yet understand why the last ice age ended. The end of the last ice age admitted humans to the Americas more or less at the same time it was killing off the Megafauna, but we don't know for sure WHY the ice age ended.

    290:

    Paul @ 280: I seem to recall that Putin asked to join NATO shortly after he was first elected.

    Turning him down probably wasn't that myopic. I can just imagine him claiming that some neighbour like Georgia or Ukraine has attacked Russia, and invoking Article 5 to demand that the whole of the rest of NATO pile in on his side.

    Yeah, I was thinking earlier than that, before Putin.

    291:

    Charlie Himmler was a softie! I think Irme Greze would be a better model ... euwww ...

    292:

    Yes, Yeltsin in particular did his damnedest to create friendly relations, and was repeatedly, rudely and publicly rebuffed. Worse, NATO broke its promise and expanded close to Russia's borders, including missile bases pointed at Russia. Hence the Russians quite reasonably elected Putin, and continue to support him.

    293:

    I've seen some articles recently that suggested the NEW inhabitants found better hunting in the new world, but it wasn't enough to drive the Megafauna to extinction. The primary cause of that appears to be climate change from the warming that ended the last ice age. But I don't think scientists yet understand why the last ice age ended. The end of the last ice age admitted humans to the Americas more or less at the same time it was killing off the Megafauna, but we don't know for sure WHY the ice age ended.

    Why the last ice age ended is simple: Milankovich cycles. What preceded the end of the last ycle (the Younger Dryas cool-down) is in dispute. Was it caused by large meteorite in Greenland? This isn't clear.

    I heard a lecture from someone who works at the La Brea Tarpits about a month ago. They appear to have the best record in North America of what happened. IIRC, humans showed up in tar pit area around 15,000 years ago. Around 13,000 years ago, the megafauna disappeared over a span of about 200 years, during the early days of the Younger Dryas. The lecturer very carefully didn't speculate on what happened, but there appeared to be 2,000 years of coexistence, followed by 200 years of extinction coincident with an environmental crisis.

    In Australia, it's even less clear what happened. Depending on who you believe, humans have been in Australia 65,000 to 120,000 years. The megafauna disappeared...not all at once, if I'm understanding it correctly, but over a period of maybe up to 10,000 years, 50,000-ish to 40,000-ish years ago. Even at the minimum, that's 15,000 years of coexistence, followed by 10,000 years of not coexisting for some reason.

    I think the most useful point is that, compared with white colonists, the local people in much of the world did an excellent job of environmental stewardship. It wasn't perfect, but it's orders of magnitude less lethal than what we're doing right now.

    294:

    Partisan politics arose immediately within Washington's first administration.

    The Constitution was, among many other things, set up to assist the protection of slaveowners and Southern states' power in the federal government. It's not an accident that almost all the presidents were southerners and slaveholder until the War of the Rebellion. The exceptions were the two Adams. The electoral college was specifically put in place to help the south keep control of federal government, and to keep the higher population non-slaving states from taking it. When they finally lost the presidency they 1) refused to put Lincoln on the ballot in their states; 2) declared war on the rest of the US.

    Whatever intentions might be on the surface, in practice they can something quite different. As one can see by reading the letters and other gloatings of South Carolinian signatories after the Constitution was signed -- they got so much of what they wanted they could hardly believe it.

    295:

    Foxessa So - a Slaveocracy right from the start, yes? Which supports my hypothesis/conviction that the revolt of 1776 was about keeping the slaves ( With a side-order of genocide against the "Indians" ) Unsurprisingly large numbers of USA-ians go off "pop" ( Or even "bang" ) when I suggest this.

    296:

    my hypothesis/conviction that the revolt of 1776 was about keeping the slaves

    You might enjoy The Counter-Revolution of 1776 by Gerald Horne.

    https://libcom.org/history/introduction-counter-revolution-1776

    Especially interesting in view of Foxessa's comment about South Carolina getting so much of what they wanted…

    297:

    I see from reading the BBC site that the Boris will probably trigger article 16 over the problems with Northern Ireland. I see it as likely as it's the sort of thing Boris would do to distract the electorate from the problems he's created, and so he can cast the perfidious Europeans been meanies causing Britain's troubles.

    The BBC waffled as to what sort of bad things could happen as a result, and I'm not up on the finer details of this, so what are the thoughts of those in old blighty?

    298:

    Rbt Prior So - I am not alone in my suspicions? Interesting

    Dave Moore The country of England was/is as bitterly divided over Brexit as the USA was/is over IQ45, IF BoZo is stupid & arrogant enough to miscalculate that "goingfor16" is a winner, then it will be a complete disaster, both economic, social & political. I doubt if even half of his supporters AT THIS POINT will swallow the deliberate lies that it is all the fault of evil Brussels ... after all, he cheerfully signed that treaty less than a year ago & now he wants to renege on it, yes? Even if 2/3 of his supporters back him, that leaves him well-short of a majority in the country & - even allowing for the fact that he COULD in theory run until Dec 2024, a complete economic collapse ( Which is what will happen ) would pull the rug from under him. I THINK he will bluster & lie & wriggle & half-cave-in & claim "Wictowy" ... - or at least I really hope so. Let us hope it does not happen, because the internal economic crash will be huge & it would guarantee, completely, the break up of the UK. Which is the exact opposite of what the Brexshiteers SAID they wanted.

    299:

    Told You So: (158 and deleted) COP26 Blue Light Drift: (263,264,266)

    [Have to ask; is the "Blue Light Drift" a P. Watts Rifters (Behemoth) reference? It has an instance of "blue light drift"]

    Or, if we were being Crude n Rude: They got Imman[en]tized. ... It gets written (Logos) by those who control the issue: I've mentioned previously that future computational historians will have fun with/careers devoted to this era, if much of the raw data (graphs/timestamps) is preserved. Both the ordinary (currently hidden) causality aspects and (some of) the other aspects.

    Check out the The Pandora Sequence if you want him really pushing boundaries Yeah, those were edgy for their time. Also Herbert wrote the much earlier "The God Makers". There is another story (haven't found it), that doesn't appear to be that one, along similar lines, maybe Keith Laumer or Gordon R Dickson. (Those last two stories were silly.)

    "She took the seven divine powers. She collected the divine powers and grasped them in her hand. ..." We do Nine. ... But, yeah: there's at least Nine (9) [redacted] out there chewing up all the Minds / Brains of your rulers. Most are too dumb to notice it. Spoilers: Might not be an unbiased source here

    It's interesting. And so much narcissistic arrogance among (many of) those leaders (and some of their advisors), that they don't even notice themselves unraveling.

    Related, not a fan of Mr S. Bannon, and this was set rolling several weeks ago. Stephen K. Bannon Indicted for Contempt of Congress - Two Charges Filed for Failing to Honor House Subpoena From Select Committee Investigating Jan. 6 Capitol Breach (November 12, 2021, Department of Justice) Those are two criminal charges. All he had to do was show up and refuse to answer most questions. His mind has gotten lost in the cluster of "realities" that he helped construct, and his own (chaotic) free will led him astray. We shall see.

    300:

    With a side-order of genocide against the "Indians"

    Perhaps it is not an accident that while most Native Americans stayed neutral in the American Revolution, those who did not were overwhelmingly on the British side.

    301:

    Related, not a fan of Mr S. Bannon, and this was set rolling several weeks ago. Stephen K. Bannon Indicted for Contempt of Congress - Two Charges Filed for Failing to Honor House Subpoena From Select Committee Investigating Jan. 6 Capitol Breach (November 12, 2021, Department of Justice)

    I had a rather bad day today. Nothing that warrants mentioning on this blog, but it was pretty shitty. I was in a bar trying to get my nerves back into order with alcohol, when I saw Bannon's indictment on the bar TV screen.

    My day got immeasurably better at once.

    302:

    There had been conflict between the colonists and the First Nations since the first colonies were founded. Particularly when European nations recruited proxies to attack the colonies of their rivals.

    The First Nations very likely viewed the British Crown as the "least bad" ally and the one most likely to support their claims to self-determination and constrain encroachment by the Colonies. Certainly, those were the terms of the Royal Proclamation of 1763 and the subsequent Treaty of Fort Stanwix and Treaty of Hard Labor.

    303:

    Perhaps it is not an accident that while most Native Americans stayed neutral in the American Revolution, those who did not were overwhelmingly on the British side.

    A friend of mine studying history told me that among the several grievances that the colonists had against the crown was the crown's prohibition of settling Indian lands — in other words, insisting that the treaties be followed.

    Foxessa could no doubt provide a better description of this than I can.

    304:

    Ilya No, certainly not an accident. ( Bannon ) - perhaps he is opting for jail, so that he can't be made to talk about IQ45? Amazingly stupid - surely his best hope would be to turn "Queens Evidence" ( Or whatever you call it ) & dump everything?

    Rbt Prior As opposed to signing a Treaty & trying to tear it up in less than a year, you mean?

    305:

    the crown's prohibition of settling Indian lands

    Well, at least a prohibition starting from the mid 1770s. Prior to that it was fair game.

    306:

    Bozo is a rudderless boat with all sheets flapping in the wind. I think that he will bluster and threaten, but eventually back down. But, if he does suspend the protocol, it will seriously piss off Biden and the EU (which is already pretty pissed off), and the latter may even suspend the whole agreement. The resulting chaos, shortages and economic hit will make this period look like the phoney war compared to afterwards.

    More seriously, Sinn Fein are likely to dominate in next May's assembly elections, and we may even have them as First Minister and Alliance as deputy. God alone knows what Bozo would do if the next party was unionist and refused to be deputy to Sinn Fein. So there is a significant chance of serious violence from the extremist unionists - not the Troubles again, yet, but pretty fair chaos.

    I wish Dave the Proc were still here, who knows more.

    We are living in interesting times!

    307:

    Amazingly stupid - surely his best hope would be to turn "Queens Evidence" ( Or whatever you call it ) & dump everything?

    Bannon is on a mission. He has been consulting with some of the authoritarians of Europe (and maybe other places). To him this is a long game. And his current tactical plan is to wait it out 14 months. His defense is well funded and the courts are a slow slog.

    308:

    The BBC waffled as to what sort of bad things could happen as a result, and I'm not up on the finer details of this, so what are the thoughts of those in old blighty?

    You could do worse than read this extended rant by Dominic Cummings, Boris Johnson's former advisor turned bitter backstabber. Cummings is wrong about many things, but he knows the personalities in play in 10 Downing Street intimately and his view of how Boris will botch an Article 16 call is damning.

    309:

    I can't be having with this "Priti Patel is a fascist" business. Actually this is just a special case: in general any statement of the form "X is a fascist" had better be accompanied by arguments and evidence to support it, or its just obnoxious noise, on a par with calling Joe Biden a communist.

    I don't mean that I agree with Patel, or that she isn't on the right wing of the Tory party, or an authoritarian, or anything else. Just that she isn't a fascist. BTW authoritarian != fascist; there are lots of authoritarians who are not fascists. E.g. Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party, and Lee Kuan Yew in Singapore.

    The problem with saying either "fascist" or "not fascist" is that fascism isn't a coherent ideology; rather its a collection of nasty ideas flying in loose formation. The best definition I've found is Umberto Eco's list as quoted in the Wikipedia article on the topic. He presents a list of items which are individually decidable. So I'm only willing to call someone a fascist if they clearly tick the majority of those boxes. I'd also accept an analysis based on the list of Emilio Gentile, which follows Eco's in Wikipedia.

    I found this article which claims to be a full list of everything bad that Patel has done. She has imposed draconian and possibly illegal controls on immigration, including the "hostile environment" policy. It also alludes to "nazi dog whistles", but doesn't quote any examples. Another article pointed at anti-protest measures in the police bill. But that seems to be about all.

    So if those who have been calling Patel a fascist want to work through the Umberto Eco or Emilio Gentile lists and adduce evidence for those points then I'll listen. Otherwise shut up.

    310:

    A somewhat change of subject. Time travel causality.

    Tripped across this quirky movie done as a documentary. The subject is a US funded effort at time travel sort of parallel (time wise) to the Manhattan project.)

    "The History of Time Travel"

    Very well done. A bit slow at times but that's mostly due to it being a faux documentary.

    I found it on US Amazon Prime streaming for free. Don't know if or how to watch in other countries.

    311:

    Let me apply Umberto Eco's 14 signs of fascism to the post-2019 UK Conservative party:

  • The Cult of Tradition - Yes. (That's the whole point of the Tory party.)

  • The Rejection of Modernism - Yes. (Brexit's appeal to a mythical golden age of British supremacy is rooted in this: it's a scream of rage against everything since 1945, and rationalism be damned. "The public have had enough of experts.")

  • The cult of action for action's sake — Yes. (They're driven by the demands of a 24 hour news cycle and can't bear to be seen to not be doing something, anything, all the time. However stupid. See also the "Boris Bridge" from Scotland to Northern Ireland, for example ...)

  • Rejection of Analytical Criticism — Yes. What are you whingeing about, Remoaner scum? Are you with those enemies of the people in the supreme court?!?

  • Rejection of Diversity — Yes. (They're ranting against the Woke every goddamn minute, it seems. Also transphobia, homophobia, projectile accusations of anti-semitism -- the tories have been been a home for anti-semites as long as I can remember), and islamophobia.

  • Appeal to individual or social frustration — Yes. Let's get Brexit done! Sunlit uplands!.

  • Obsession with a plot — Yes. Even today, Remoaners are working in secret to reverse the Brexit gains!

  • Self-humiliation — Yes. Those treacherous sneaky Europeans are conspiring to steal all our happy British fish! (The narrative around self-humiliation in the face of the EU is too silly for me to parody.)

  • Life is lived for struggle — No. This isn't a feature of the Tory party (yet).

  • Popular Elitism — Yes (Half the cabinet either went to Eton or Oxford. Those who didn't are all millionaires. But they're self-made men and women, not like those Metropolitan Elitist Labour MPs.)

  • Encouragement of individual action/heroism — No. We haven't got there yet.

  • Disdain for women and condemnation of nonstandard sexual habits — Yes.

  • Selective populism via the concept of "the People" — Yes. "Brexit is the will of the People". (But the people don't care what we do when we outsource private contracts to run integral NHS services.)

  • Ur-Fascism speaks Newspeak — Yes, but a qualified yes: the Newspeak in question is the shared dialog of the global far-right insurgency, the war on woke, critical race theory, islamophobia, fear of a transgender conspiracy to pervert our youth and spy on our women in their public toilets ... it's all there.

  • 312:

    Paul Patel is on video record from BBC "Question Time" aggressively "defending" the case for Capital Punishment. WATCH the video ... THEN: Look up the Sally Clarke case. She's a fascist. Oops [ Umberto Eco / Charlie etc - & picking up on some of Charlie's points.. 2) Not that anyone except Liz remembers anything before 1945, so it's an even bigger load of bollocks 4) Criticism is the ENEMY - also called "Shooting the messenger" 7) The problem with that one, is that when one says: "All very well, but WHAT Brexit gains?" They go even more hysterical. 10) Ties in with the anti-intellectualism very well & is very reminiscent of the "peoples/workers" bit of the NSDAP 14) Not (yet) as bad as you paint it, but ... we're getting there.

    313:

    I think Eco's fourteen signs miss a few advanced signs, but they're really late-stage stuff that indicate extreme fascism: stuff like eliminationist rhetoric (calling the designated enemy "vermin" and calling for them to be "purged" or "eliminated"), subordination of legal due process to Party objectives (e.g. the Nazi People's Court), actual organized genocide (as opposed to rioting/looting of target groups by 'volunteers'), murder of the disabled and elderly (Aktion T4 in Nazi Germany) ... then finally death squads, death camps, and wars of aggression.

    The Conservative Party has not exhibited these symptoms: the Daily Mail's more florid rhetoric veers close to painting refugees as vermin and supports Priti Patel's push to shove boat people back out to sea, but the government is mostly not going there.

    Nor have we seen deliberate extermination of the disabled -- we've seen worrying precursors (DNR notes attached to disabled COVID patients in hospitals, depraved incompetence allowing the virus to burn through care homes due to systematic casualization of the care home workers, who in consequence spread the disease between homes during the early months of the pandemic), but they're not actually murdering people deliberately. (They're not even allowing legal reforms to permit voluntary assisted suicide.)

    Umberto Eco was Italian, and was writing specifically from his experience of Italian fascism under Mussolini; these are mostly indicators of actual Nazism as opposed to "mere" fascism, and we mostly don't seem to be heading there yet.

    314:

    I used to be such an optimist, "the long arc of history bends towards justice" and all that, but it's gone now. As I see it, through my aging, cataract-infested eyes, we won't solve anything, as long as we accept sociopaths and sociopathic ideas. Sociopaths are only 2-5% of the population, but they're very persuasive and their ideas make people feel good (individual rights top society, it's good to hate others, no self-reflection, there's an easy solution to everything, consumption is freedom etc.).

    So how do we deal with them, without going to some level of authoritarianism? Doesn't seem possible, so we can't solve this issue, so we're fucked.. Have another drink, cheers!

    315:

    Let me apply Umberto Eco's 14 signs of fascism to the post-2019 UK Conservative party:

    That isn't quite what I asked; Patel was being singled out as fascist, not the whole Tory party. However she is the Home Secretary, so its not an unreasonable approach, and my response to "Tories are fascists" would have been the same. So lets run with it.

    By the way, a bit of Googling found Eco's original essay here. It is well worth reading in its entirety.

  • Cult of Tradition.
  • No, not at all. While the Tories are supposed to be the "conservative" party, this is an "approach to human affairs which mistrusts both a priori reasoning and revolution, preferring to put its trust in experience and in the gradual improvement of tried and tested arrangements" (Edmund Burke). This is quite distinct from the kind of thing Eco was referring to, which was an artificial agglomeration ("syncretistic") of ancient fragments of "wisdom" selected and re-interpreted through a modern lens to say whatever the Party finds convenient. A "Yes" here would have been something like adopting Boudica and Elizabeth I as the founding myth of Brexit.

    Of course the modern Tory party is not at all conservative. Brexit is the antithesis of "gradual improvement of tried and tested arrangements". But thats beside the point here.

  • Rejection of Modernism.
  • Brexit's appeal to a mythical golden age of British supremacy

    The Brexit campaign didn't actually do that. Looking at, for example, the old Vote Leave web site, the emphasis is on how we are supposed to be better off out of Europe. The follow on "... like we were in the good old days" is noticeably lacking. Apart from anything else, its a bit difficult to figure out exactly which "good old days" might be meant. The barnstorming days of Empire were back in the 18th and 19th Centuries. After that it was managed decline and world wars. Yes we won the wars, but it wasn't exactly the "good old days". The last Conservative PM to invoke Victorian Values (William Hague) was a laughing stock by the end. The British used to pretend the Empire was a broadly good thing, but the myth of the benificent empire bringing roads and railways to the benighted heathens is no longer accepted uncritically, and nobody (except Jacob Rees-Mogg, Honourable Member for the 18th Century) wants to go back to it.

    However this is actually besides the point. When Eco said "modernism" he meant the Enlightenment and the Age of Reason. 1776 and all that. And for that matter the Glorious Revolution. I don't see the current Tory party promoting some kind of return to the Divine Right of Kings and doffing your cap to your feudal lord.

  • Cult of action for action's sake.
  • I don't think you can extrapolate from the 24 hour news cycle to this. Boris's habit of "throwing a dead cat on the table" (his words) isn't the same thing either. Trump's "big beautiful wall" is much more in this style. So no, I don't see this as a characteristic of the current Tory party.

  • Rejection of analytical criticism.
  • Throughout the Covid crisis the government has claimed to follow the science. It may not have always done this; the sudden removal of restrictions before last Christmas looked particularly dodgy. But the values espoused in the press conferences were always those of science, rationality, and the acceptance of evidence.

    On the economy, the Tory pitch has always been that it is the careful, competent party, unlike those dangerous ideologically-driven spendthrifts in Labour. Tory ideology has always been an adherence to conventional economic thinking and a belief that economists know what they are talking about.

    Brexit was another matter; grandiose claims of money to be saved and treaties to be written were directly contrary to the available evidence. So I'll give half a point here.

  • Rejection of Diversity.
  • Back in 2000 that would have been a reasonable claim. These days, much less. I notice that racism is not in your list of charges, apart from anti-Semitism. I'm not going to try to defend them on the latter, except to note that they are not alone.

    In the meantime two of the most senior ministers in the Cabinet, Patel and Sunak, are descended from Indians who came to the UK via Africa, and nobody bats an eyelid. Either might wind up as Johnson's successor. 20 years ago that would have been a radical idea.

    As for sexual minorities, the party has clearly moved on from the days when Mrs Thatcher worried about making the AIDS campaign too sexually explicit.

    The war on "woke" does sort-of fit in here, except that they aren't actually rejecting real diversity, just a succession of straw-man versions, such as "races that nobody wins" in school sports days (Does any one know what Boris was actually talking about there, or did he just make it up out of whole cloth?)

  • Appeal to individual or social frustration
  • OK, no dispute there.

  • Obsession with a plot
  • Again, I'm not seeing this. Eco specified that this plot must be a conspiracy of malign external forces with internal traitors. And there must be an obsession. Stalin was forever blaming the failures of Communism on traitors, the Cultural Revolution was all about "capitalist roaders". The Tory party just isn't doing that.

  • Self-humiliation: enemies who are strong and weak at the same time
  • No, I'm not seeing it. They regard the EU as a strong enemy, but not simultaneously a weak one.

    That was part of the rhetoric of the Brexit Leave campaign; the notion that the EU would be desperate for a free trade agreement on any terms after we left. But nobody wants to mention that today because it so obviously isn't true.

  • Popular elitism
  • Half the cabinet either went to Eton or Oxford.

    That isn't what Eco meant. From his essay:

    Every citizen belongs to the best people of the world, the members of the party are the best among the citizens, every citizen can (or ought to) become a member of the party.

    I'd give half a point for this; Tory rhetoric routinely talks about how great the British people are. But on the other hand so do Labour and the Liberals, for the simple reason that nobody ever got voted out for flattering their electorate.

    12: Disdain for women and non-standard sexual habits

    Eco was actually talking about machismo, in which sexual desire is sublimated into violence against women and non-vanilla sex. I'm just trying to think of a macho Tory. Probably Mrs Thatcher.

    13: Selective populism via "the People".

    Eco was talking about a rejection of democracy, and especially parliamentary democracy. The Tories are very much a parliamentary party, so I don't see them doing this.

    Brexit was triggered by an actual referendum, so it doesn't really fit here.

    14: Ur-Fascism speaks Newspeak

    Eco was talking about the use of Newspeak in school textbooks to ensure that the next generation would lack the vocabulary for critical thought about the Government. You mention the political jargon of the right and far-right, but every political group has its own shared jargon and assumptions.

    So in conclusion, I disagree that the Conservatives are crypto-fascists.

    316:

    Some people in the Conservative party have exhibited some of the advanced symptoms, and we have seen worrying signs of subversion of the legal process. Patel's proposed sinking of asylum seekers' boats was tantamount to deliberate killing of the weak, and her other treatment of asylum seekers is comparable to those in some fascist regimes.

    As you know, I am definitely not "woke" (though I agree with the non-absolutist parts of the woke agenda), but I am solidly in your camp here.

    317:

    Re: 'And his current tactical plan is to wait it out 14 months.'

    Which is likely the best and cheapest way for him (therefore DT) to get loads of media attention just in time to run for GOP prez candidacy. They're both amoral and have a history of exploiting any underhanded potential political advantage. Just because they're personally amoral doesn't mean they can't/won't use others' morality against them. Is 'ethics judo' (unbalancing) a thing?

    Hopefully the various social media are on their toes because there are now two separate yet related high legal interest stories:

    a) Bannon's defiance a subpoena

    b) DT's withholding records re: Jan 6/21* (The articles I read didn't mention whether these records have already been passed over or not.)

    *GOP Senate social media is also likely to add to this mess, further escalating the free media coverage to RW wingnuts. (More than their Congressional kin, this bunch tried to block any investigation into that day's events: so from my perspective they're onside with SB & DT.)

    318:

    Bannnon exhibits all the signs of wanting to go to prison. As you say, long game. The Aryan Nation etc. will protect him nicely, he will have all the juice, and he will be a martyr and a hero to the base.

    You all have watched the videos of him exhorting his followers to take over the government on January 6th, right? How he spread the word to be there!

    https://twitter.com/costareports/status/1459266139771621388

    319:

    Paul Where I disagree: 1: A "new" tradition of Brave Little Britain Beating the World ( & the evil EU, of course ) & being "world-leading" (unspecified) - see also Two 2: There's an awful lot of faux Dad's Army about both Brexit & the Kippers. 4: They reject ANY criticism of Brexit, analyical or anything else - it's heresy 6: Agreed 7: OH YES THERE IS a Plot! ( Cue pantomime resposne... ) And the plot is led by all the evil, heretic Remoaners, burrowing everywhere. [ Very Stalinist, this one. ] 12: BoZo himself - how many women has he exploited & moved on from? 13: Oh so trying as hard as they can to emasculate (oops) the Supreme Court & the Parliamentary Standards Commission & the BBC & fix the regulatory bodies for their friends pockets & & & ... is not selective populism?

    320: 315 -
  • If not a cult of tradition, just what is Unionism then?

  • Yes it does; the main message from WrecksIt in Scotland was "bring back the British Empire" (never mind that the rump empire consists of the UK and about 3 colonies rather than half the globe).

  • How many times has Bozo done "Something must be done. This is Something therefore we must do it"? I'm not certain, but think it's at least one a week for 2 years.

  • "Follow the science"!? Come on, Bozo was the one who resisted appeals to lock down until increasing numbers of people were literally dying of Covid!

  • I'll also cite "Pritti" Patel, and her war on economic migrants. Oh and labour shortages caused by effectively deporting EU citizens.

  • Have you actually bothered to read this thread, or are you just arguing with Charlie?

  • Er, you already admitted that the "easiest deal ever" (source Bozo) was anything but.

  • I'm also on a 1 make car website. Some of the younger members literally can't write coherent sentences and don't understand what's wrong using with a several line, mispelt, unpunctuated flow of consciousness as a fault description.

  • 321:

    5. Rejection of Diversity. Back in 2000 that would have been a reasonable claim. These days, much less.

    Paul, you are totally out of order.

    I'm going to go out on a limb here but I'm guessing that you are a white, heterosexual, cis-gendered male who identifies as no religion or Christian (by background if not obervance).

    Because what you just asserted is absolute fucking nonsense on stilts and if you aren't all of the above in one happy pale-skinned bundle, then you're a huge hypocrite.

    There is currently a culture ware raging against the transgendered, so loud that I had to stick up an administration notice only 50 comments into this topic and delete a bunch of bad-tempered flamage before things got completely out of control. There's literally nothing else coming out of The Guardian's leader writers these day. If you want a canned example, just google Kathleen Stock. Apparently she's being cancelled for bullying students and spreading transphobia: interesting how "being cancelled" includes writing features in newspapers and magazines, getting on TV, and being offered a job at a right wing university startup in the Bible Belt, isn't it?

    The Tory party listened to allegations that they were institutionally racist, investigated themselves, and announced that institutional racism does not exist (which will come as news to everybody who has ever been on the receiving end of it). Don't take my word that it's bullshit: take that of noted Tory peer, Baroness Warsi.

    Last year the Equalities Minister, Liz Truss, declared that condemning rampant homophobia is "virtue signaling". She's also one of the ringleaders of the attack on the civil liberties of trans teenagers that's going on -- with funding from American religious fundamentalist anti-abortion groups, who want to use it as a wedge to overturn the legal doctrine of Gillick Competence.

    Homophobic hate crime is up significantly since 2015, under -- guess what? -- a Tory culture wars government.

    Islamophobic hate crime is up significantly, rising 12% in only the past year, while prosecutions are falling.

    Anti-semitic hate crime is also rising rapidly in the UK, mostly associated with the far right.

    Boris Johnson doesn't want to make misogyny a hate crime, so records of it are incomplete (only a few police forces keep them), but I will note that rape amounts to 37% of all sex crimes reported to police in England and Wales, but only 1.4% of reports lead to prosecution and the system is in collapse (hint: the Sarah Everard case shows that a deeply misogynistic culture is a problem in British policing).

    I could go on at length but I can't be arsed. Paul, you seem to be here to deliberately spread misinformation and contradict the lived experiences of other people. You need to stop doing that, or I'm going to have to consider banning you.

    322:

    Thanks, I'm not up to doing a fisking today, and possibly not competent to fisk UK issues, but I saw the BS as soon as I read the post.

    323:

    I'm not really up for Fisking him either: I've got a book deadline ahead!

    I just felt the need to take apart just one of his bullshit contrarian comments, as an example of how badly off-base he is.

    Now he's on my radar I am going to be alert for patterns indicating he's a deliberate bad actor rather than cluelessly privileged. If so, a red card is definitely in order: cluelessness can be fixed, malice is another matter.

    324:

    Paul @ 315:

    Let me apply Umberto Eco's 14 signs of fascism to the post-2019 UK Conservative party:

    That isn't quite what I asked; Patel was being singled out as fascist, not the whole Tory party. However she is the Home Secretary, so its not an unreasonable approach, and my response to "Tories are fascists" would have been the same. So lets run with it.

    [ ... ]

    So in conclusion, I disagree that the Conservatives are crypto-fascists.

    Seems to me it's like the QOP in the U.S.; proto-fascist rather than crypto-fascist ('cause their support is too OVERT to be "crypto").

    325:

    There is another problem here: Criticism of Israel - & particularly of "Bennie" - could/will get you labelled "anti-semitic" - quite easily. And, at the same time damning "Bennie" & Likud, but defending Israel's right to exist, can also get you slammed, especially by the Momentuum->marxist left. Guess how I know this? Similarly, if one, as a card-carrying atheist is legitimately afraid of islam ( Especially if you have actually read the "recital" ) this will instantly get you labelled "islamophobic". Guess how I know that one, as well ... particularly as I've had a run-in with Hizb-ul-Tahrir, before they were banned in this country.

    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Addendum: On the very delicate subject of transphobia - I think I can now see what the problem is ... but - then- why are many women so prepared to line up with the agitators, rather than with Charlie? Is it simply that they don't realise that they have probably been lied to, & the objections are "bollocks" to coin a maybe appropriate term?

    326:

    I would guess because the inciting language, "Someone will rape you," is a threat most women feel they have to honor.

    327:

    "Stop right there and ask why do we need an individual head of state at all?"

    I did mention that in passing but only to dismiss it as something that I can't see any way to have and make work (except under conditions of true anarchy, which itself is merely pushing the question of how does it work back a level). It might be possible for a state with a population roughly similar to an average English city or less, and which was content to be one of the people in the kitchen at the international relations party, but Britain isn't the former and I can't see it ever being content with the latter. The sort-of examples people have cited seem to be in some cases about places which are a bit like that, and in pretty well all cases to be more of a modified president model with a rapid replacement rate, and/or alternative attempts to address the problem of fair participation for different-sized lumps in a federation of individualistic entities which don't obviously generalise to other kinds of situation.

    328:

    "9. Life is lived for struggle - No. This isn't a feature of the Tory party (yet)."

    Unless you are citing a specific turd in the pool of sewage that I haven't distinguished, I think that attitude very much is around: it's the main point on which the propagandistic demonisation of benefit claimants is based. Government adverts depicting a shift worker leaving the house at stupid o'clock in shitty weather enviously observing the darkened windows of their sleeping neighbours, deliberately fomenting "my life has to be a struggle, why shouldn't theirs be" as motivation for grassing people up for benefit fraud; pseudo-documentary TV series following people on benefits in a highly selective manner designed to portray their lives as undeserving ease. We also see uncritical or positive attitudes to the erosion and evasion of workers' rights and the increasing precariousness of employment, which is OK because people in their station shouldn't complain of their lot. Come to that, Norman Tebbit and his "on yer bike" with the underlying message of "it's not supposed to be easy, you wimps". And on the other side, there is approximately zero publicity for ideas like "why the fuck should anyone's life be a struggle", and lessons from the plague such as "most of this so-called work is useless and it doesn't matter if nobody does it" have been positively suppressed.

    329:

    Yeah, but it's the same old shite as "gays will bugger your children"; the question is why do people so readily believe that sort of thing. There seems to be a very large component of human psychology which manifests as a tendency to fly off the handle when other people are seen to like and do personal things that one doesn't understand, and a lot of it seems to be a combination of authoritarianism and ignorance. The connection with the kind of politics we are discussing doesn't seem too hard to discern.

    330:

    "I can't be having with this "Priti Patel is a fascist" business. Actually this is just a special case: in general any statement of the form "X is a fascist" had better be accompanied by arguments and evidence to support it, or its just obnoxious noise, on a par with calling Joe Biden a communist."

    Considering that the US and the UK clearly have fascist parties who are dropping the mask more and more, no.

    331:

    Picking just one......"8. Self-humiliation: enemies who are strong and weak at the same time

    No, I'm not seeing it. They regard the EU as a strong enemy, but not simultaneously a weak one."

    Well, I see it - the EU is a totalitarian state, but Brits can face it down. Unless the Brits are bullied (tears).

    That's one which fits in 100%, IMHO.

    332:

    Off topic a little, but has anyone seen Dune yet? If so, what did you think? I've been terrified of on-screen versions of Dune since the eighties...

    333:

    Off topic a little, but has anyone seen Dune yet? If so, what did you think? I've been terrified of on-screen versions of Dune since the eighties...

    Personally, I thought having Paul Atreides be Beelzebub reincarnated was an inspired decision. It made his whole thing with the giant sand-maggots that much more understandable. You can see the rest of what I thought about it at https://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2021/09/empire-games-and-merchant-prin.html#comment-2130558

    334:

    It's a Hollywood Movie:Aesthetically pleasing, great visuals, totally devoid of anything resembling artistic merit.

    It lead to a really off-kilter Harz opinion post which is just... "chef kiss" of IL thought: https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/dune-may-be-fascist-but-its-focus-on-islam-is-groundbreaking-1.10357745

    It's also a 100-100 carbon copy of prior movie treatments (and that includes the mini-series which had a very young and sexually attractive James McAvoy getting his worm on).

    It is: Ideological Staid and Boring. Which, if you've actually read it, is the entire fucking point of Paul existing.

    But... The Western World does not do Irony, anymore.

    335:

    [Have to ask; is the "Blue Light Drift" a P. Watts Rifters (Behemoth) reference? It has an instance of "blue light drift"]

    It's a bit more indexed than that. But, yeah: alll part of the party.

    COP - Blue Light (obvious)

    Where you want us to fill you in on regional and ethnic references?

    Game - https://store.steampowered.com/app/257850/HyperLightDrifter/

    And about 47 other references.

    e.g. Antidepressant Effect of Blue Light on Depressive Phenotype in Light-Deprived Male Rats

    https://academic.oup.com/jnen/article-abstract/79/12/1344/6010618?redirectedFrom=fulltext

    You don't see the World how we see it: a 4D hyper-linked beauty where Causality actually has a meaning.

    It's just a Conceptual Sphere with all your works within it. It was funny, if you know what went on (aka,,,, it's all lies and bullshit)

    336:

    Troutwaxer 326: Yes, that's it 332: Yes, I have. Very impressive & remarkably close to my memories of the book, too. As regards CGI - the Ornithopters are actually almost-believable - very Dragonfly-like. The beginnings of the suspicions in "Paul's" mind that he is going to be a monster were well-done.

    337:

    Troutwaxer 326: Yes, that's it. "Dune" - yes - most impressive & surprisingly close to the book. I liked the hints that "Paul" starts to realise that he might/will become a monster. Like "H", I was impressed by the Ornithopters

    338:

    OK What happened there? I seem to have double-posted - & now it's vanished ... on IQ 45 - worth a read.

    339:

    Please stop promoting bigotry. If someone claims to be legitimately afraid of Islam, they should also claim to be legitimately afraid of Judaism and Christianity. Islam, like those other two, varies from tolerance to extremism, with the former being more common and the latter getting more media time.

    340:

    Paul, you are totally out of order.

    OK. My words have clearly caused pain to you and to others. That was never my intention, and I am sorry.

    I'm going to go out on a limb here but I'm guessing that you are a white, heterosexual, cis-gendered male who identifies as no religion or Christian (by background if not obervance).

    Absolutely correct on all points (I identify as agnostic). I do try to check my privilege, but I don't always succeed.

    There is currently a culture ware raging against the transgendered, so loud that I had to stick up an administration notice only 50 comments

    I did see that, and I have observed it. Or at least I thought I had.

    The Tory party [...] announced that institutional racism does not exist. [...] Liz Truss declared that condemning rampant homophobia is "virtue signaling".

    Ahh. Yes. I'd forgotten about that. And since I have a relative who is bi the second one in particular should have stuck in my head. My bad. Point conceded. The Tory party does continue to tick item 5 on Eco's list, its just that the targets have changed somewhat.

    Now he's on my radar I am going to be alert for patterns indicating he's a deliberate bad actor rather than cluelessly privileged. If so, a red card is definitely in order: cluelessness can be fixed, malice is another matter.

    I shall consider myself yellow-carded. Which hurts. But its your blog. If I don't like it I can go and sit in my own blog.

    For the record, I am not a troll. I thought I'd been around here long enough to have proved that. I come here partly because you are one of my favourite authors, but also because this is a good place to engage with people on the intellectual left. I do this in part because I want people to challenge my own views, because I am aware of how they have been shaped by my background (my parents were EU-hating Daily Mail readers and I went to a minor public school). I am interested in what other people think, and their reasons for thinking it. So by all means try to fix my cluelessness.

    341:

    EC As a long-escaped ex-christian I AM AFRAID of christianity ( And the extreme form of judaism that used to support "Bennie", too ). I've been threatened, as in blackmail, by christians, telling me that "You'll be sorry when you're dead & Jeebus judges you" - yes, really.

    I'm an equal-opportunity theo-fearful .....

    And, just to remind everybody ... I've got this lot round the corner from me. Note that even wikipedia refers to them as a cult, yes?

    Now what?

    342:

    Also white, hetero (he/him) agnostic, but did not go to a private school.

    I wouldn't say pain exactly, but certainly irritation because your world view is so different to my own despite mine being contaminated by the English Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).

    343:

    Greg, your link is borked to the extent that I don't get a tool tip/path for it.

    344:

    @ 341 NOT my morning Broken link / effed-up HTML THIS LOT: - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potter%27sHouseChristian_Fellowship

    345:

    Greg @ 338:on IQ 45 - worth a read.

    Yes, scary. And Trump is a fascist. He and his followers tick pretty much all of Eco's checklist with little or no ambiguity.

    Will there be a second US civil war?

    346:

    Nasty lot I think. Is it time for my "just because you self-describe as $religion doesn't mean you are" rant again?

    347:

    Paul probably not, as the geographic spread is very diverse Trump supporters tend NOT to live in the cities. So it could get very bloody indeed.

    What scares me is that the US Dems don't seem to realise that 2022 will be a practice run for really rigging, if not only the voting, but the counting, so that they can roll right over it in '24. By which time it will bee too late, as any attempt to reverse the '22 vote-rig will be "voted down" by the Trumpists in the states in the intervening period.

    IF IQ45 isn't in jail by 24 & then "wins" - which governments will recognise his "win" as legitimate I wonder?

    Comments from US readers solicited at this point?

    348:

    Actually they could take the presidency in 2022. If they can impeach both Biden and Harris in one swell foop, the presidency passes to the Speaker of the House, who will be one of them. Coup complete.

    349:

    Taking control of House and Senate in 2022 isn't that big a lift. Especially if the D's keep touting policies instead of trying to win elections.

    And then they could impeach. But impeachment is an indictment, not a conviction. Winning enough Senate seats, 66 out of 100, for that is a freaking huge lift for 2022. Not that the D's can't make it happen.

    350:

    why do people so readily believe that sort of thing,/i>

    Why are so many parents paranoid about "stranger danger" when their children are most at risk from people they know and trust?

    As to why people believe retread propaganda, I find a lot of people don't look far enough past the surface to recognize the underlying similarities to past campaigns. Couple that with short memories* and you have a recipe for reusing a proven formula.

    *Was chatting with a younger colleague a few days ago about food prices, which have "never been so high". Mentioned that back in the 70s food was a far larger proportion of a family budget than it is now — and that was when eating out was a special treat and more food was cooked from scratch.

    351:

    Dunno about you, but I'm concerned about Christianity — or at least certain sects of it. The evangelicals (or at least those who have taken over the designation) are particularly worrying, but (not to feed Greg) the Catholic Church also seems too mendacious for comfort.

    352:

    Mentioned that back in the 70s food was a far larger proportion of a family budget than it is now — and that was when eating out was a special treat and more food was cooked from scratch.

    Yes. Totally true. But that's not how people think.

    But what I remember about the early 70s was a burger meal at McD's was a $1. Not how the percentage of my meager college student income it was. Now it's $4-$6. So people think food prices are 4+ times higher.

    353:

    Is it time for my "just because you self-describe as $religion doesn't mean you are" rant again?

    Can you do that without veering into "no true Scotsman" territory?

    354:

    Yes, and Islam is no different. But damning the whole of Islam and all Muslims on the basis of a small number of extremists is no different from damning the whole of Christianity and all Christians on the basis of a small number of extremists. There is FAR too much of that, directed almost entirely at Muslims, and it's hate speech.

    355:
    • cough * Have you actually read "the recital" ? It's amazingly depressing - very much ultra-protestant coupled with a lot of the "punishment" bits of the OT.

    Also, most christians condemn the loonies. In islam, there's all too often a deafening silence, mostly generated by fear, admittedly. When this happens one can see why people are frightened. Or the eruption of stupidity, not so long back, when a teacher tried to EXPLAIN religious tolerance in Batley, yes?

    356:

    See, my immediate problem with this is that Tanveer Ahmed ignored the verse in Q'ran that says "he who kills one man, it is as if he has killed all mankind".

    357:

    If there is a U.S. civil war, it won't be "North vs. South." It will be neighbor against neighbor, mostly at night I'd guess, and mostly death squads.

    The Republicans, the craziest of whom talk ceaselessly about "ACW2" (American Civil War 2,) are going to get a big demographic surprise if a civil war kicks off. I don't think they realize exactly how badly U.S. demographics are against them. The countervailing surprise is that not enough U.S. Liberals own guns, and they're adapting very slowly to the fact that the Republicans have abandoned Democracy and would be happy to take permanent power in a coup.

    But will a coup happen? Will there be a civil war? That depends completely on whether the current Democratic party is willing to take the heat for arresting a shitload of Republicans and making sure they stay in jail for as long as possible.

    I'll note the person on Daily Kos who said something like, "Fascism moves slowly - until it moves quickly!"

    (Note to Liberals.

    Write to every politician you possibly can. Demand arrests of coup plotters and heavy charges against January 6th participants. Get involved in political action against Republicans and make sure you are properly registered to vote. Get involved in even minor local issues; protest and counter-protest as much as possible. If you can help with get-out-the-vote issues do so.)

    358:

    What small-town California (America) is looking like these days. The crazies are out in force!

    https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/article255292696.html

    359:

    There's a lot more, too, as well as the sunnah. Yes, I have read the Koran, as well as the Pentateuch (Torah). Using Greg Tingey's 'logic', I could perfectly well damn Judaism and all practising or self-identifying Jews (and most Christians, too). I don't.

    360:

    Do Muslims not condemn terror attacks, or does your media simply fail to report when every ordinary mosque/imam and Muslim nonprofit/NGO loudly condemns them, and then right wing pundits simply repeat the assertion the same way that ours put homeless veterans ahead of helping anyone else and then slash the budget for our VA?

    Never mind that most victims of extremist salafist terror attacks globally are Muslims.

    I don't have the spoons to exhaustively dig for every statement that's been made, but I'd suggest your media environment has something to do with this.

    361:

    I think your base treatese that these attacks are mis-reported in the UK mass medja is correct. The English Boadcasting Corporation (BBC) habitually refer to jihadis as "Isis", "Isil", "Islamic State"..., and ignore the fact that more or less everyone I know who doesn't get all their news from the BBC, the "Daily Heil" and the like call the jihadis "Da'esh" because they're not Muslims!

    362:

    Do Muslims not condemn terror attacks, or does your media simply fail to report when every ordinary mosque/imam and Muslim nonprofit/NGO loudly condemns them, and then right wing pundits simply repeat the assertion the same way that ours put homeless veterans ahead of helping anyone else and then slash the budget for our VA?

    Beat me to it. You're right, of course. But as you likely know, it's not just the media.

    In the US, we're still struggling with the idea that terrorism isn't a Muslim thing, and that right wing, very white, violence is a bigger threat to the US than Islam is or likely ever will be. Until very recently, the FBI coded terrorism as "violence caused by Muslims or anyway foreign non-white people," while domestic terrorism by extremist whites was coded as "random violent acts by the mentally ill." I suspect a large number of law enforcement agencies still see it that way, that terrorism is caused by Them, while the right to kill people we believe are threatening us is protected by the 2nd amendment.

    Anyway, I Greg's so reliably push-button on this issue that I just avoid stepping on the button. And I'm quite glad that I haven't had the kind of experience that would make me react so automatically and negatively to this particular stimulus. And I wish he could find a way to let go of it and move on, because it must be really cramping and painful to relive it over and over and over again.

    363:

    I grew up in an ultimately agnostic household, in the sense that my parents tried a few times to start the habit of going to church, but ultimately none of us could be arsed.

    However, when we did go we tended to attend the United Church of Canada, which seemed about as benign as imaginable. Completely outside our awareness the UCC was also operating a large number of Indian Residential Schools and actively participating in a thankfully failed but undoubtedly genocidal project.

    Whatever sympathy I may have held for even the most banal of protestant churches has been utterly lost. My kids are raised as, if anything, humble agnostics. "Something is probably happening, but none of those arseholes have any more idea than you or I what it might be."

    Organized religion is a scourge. The only thing worse that it would be any attempt to suppress it outside of a robust educational system with a strong focus on critical thinking skills.

    364:

    Troutwaxer neighbour against neighbour, mostly at night I'd guess, and mostly death squads. Chile / Pinochet ... we know how that turned out. What's the odds that the US would have a different ( i.e. Non-fascist ) outcome?

    EC I merely sneer at anyone still gullible enough to swallow the lies & implied blackmail of religion ... BUT... as skulgun notes - the majority of victims of "islamic" hate groups are ... other muslims. Same as the entirety of the victims of the 30 years (religious) war in Europe 1618-48 were ... other christians. Ditto the more recent "fun" in Norn Iron, with Catholic christians & Prod christians, enthusiastically murdering each other, yes? And, again, thank you "H" ... christian ( for certain values of "c" ) violent hate groups are emerging in force inside the USA.

    And, no, I am not "so reliably push-button" In case you hadn't noticed ... it seems to be the religious mind-set & more specifically the "Arbrahamic" religions who are the sources of all of this violence. IF as stated correctly by paws "he who kills one man, it is as if he has killed all mankind" then why are muslims following the other verses in the recital, enthusiastically killing heretics & unbelievers ???? Why has christianity, ostensibly a religion of peace ( Up until Milvian Bridge, anyway ) so often backed violence & murder & torture & ..... Why was OT judaism so violent-to-the-point-of-genocide?

    Rocketjps @ 363 has the point exactly.

    365:

    It's not just the Abrahamic religions - ask the Muslims and even Sikhs in India.

    366:

    There is a religion, an actual religion, ie. a mode of faith; and there is something which keeps on and on getting called a religion, but is actually a transnational political entity. The excesses you condemn, and indeed the very existence of the political entity, arise from the error of conflating the two, whereas their true relation is that the second is the parasite upon the first. Your condemnations may be justified, but they are expressed in such a manner as to magnify the erroneous position and perpetuate the fallacy of its truth, which is probably a good part of the reason they tend to get people's backs up.

    367:

    If there is a U.S. civil war, it won't be "North vs. South." It will be neighbor against neighbor, mostly at night I'd guess, and mostly death squads.

    It depends. Primarily on to what extent and in what manner the U.S. military fragments. Much also hinges on who is President at the onset of hostilities, which party they belong to, and the security of the nuclear arsenal.

    My nightmare scenario is: domestic terrorist group + fascist sympathizers in the Air Force and/or Navy + loose nukes = nuclear version of the Oklahoma City bombing.

    The Republicans, the craziest of whom talk ceaselessly about "ACW2" (American Civil War 2,) are going to get a big demographic surprise if a civil war kicks off. I don't think they realize exactly how badly U.S. demographics are against them.

    Don't get your hopes up. A couple of generations after immigrating, Hispanics--the bloc upon which the Democrats' supposedly inevitable demographic triumph depends--assimilate into the white community and vote similarly. That said, how they would react and which side they would take in a second Civil War is an open question.

    368:

    It's a little hard to untangle the violence of empire from the violence of religion, though. When the US destroys a country or a people we don't necessarily get told that this time it's because The Lord acting through His Chosen People have smote the infidel, destroyed their homes and farms, and salted the ground. Other times it's those scum are unreasonably withholding US minerals or refusing to buy US "property" (the literal mickey mouse intellectual property laws etc). The Crusade Against Terror was also a mission to recover US oil from under Iraq, for example... was that political or religious violence?

    So while we can rightly say that the religious lunatics (Christian variety) are supporting the theocratic extremists (Jewish variety) in order to bring about the end of the world, the US as a political entity goes to great lengths to support Israel largely for reasons of empire (an unsinkable aircraft carrier in a very convenient place)

    There's a matching layer of much more personal abuse as well. We have both church and government figures who abuse children, for example, often backed explicitly by church or state policy. Exemplified by the various mass graves that have been in the news recently, but also by the controversies as different organisations explain to the public that paedophilia and torture are essential parts of whatever they do. From the Catholic Church "George Pell is a very important man who is above your earthly notions of 'justice' and 'crime'" to the Australian government "that's not a systematic theft of children, it's, um, for their protection. Yes, yes, we're protecting them, in prison, where all good children should be".

    369:

    I'd phrase it a little differently, and say the parasite has outgrown the host. And not necessarily transnational - that depends on the group.

    My version of all this is that the hard-core religionists are parasites on science. They all carry cell-phones, but don't believe in the science that allows cell-phones to exist.

    370:

    The other statistical issue is that the Republicans who want to have a war are only about 20 percent of the population.

    371:

    As I see it, through my aging, cataract-infested eyes, we won't solve anything, as long as we accept sociopaths and sociopathic ideas. Sociopaths are only 2-5% of the population, but they're very persuasive and their ideas make people feel good (individual rights top society, it's good to hate others, no self-reflection, there's an easy solution to everything, consumption is freedom etc.).

    Speaking from experience, it's less that than it is that you can't talk the lemmings out of running off the cliff. Until I worked in business consulting and government, I couldn't grasp how relentlessly powerful groupthink is. It's not that sociopaths are just that common and just that charismatic; it's that the herd mentality is just that intractable.

    It doesn't matter how undeniable the facts are, how thorough your research is, or how rational your analysis is. You can lay it out for them step by step, walk them through it carefully, and have an answer for every question. If it doesn't align with the groupthink, it simply doesn't matter. And these are the professionals! The educated, the intelligent, the 110+ IQ crowd! The leaders!

    I've come to realize that groupthink--and hubris--are inherent traits of our species impervious to reason and self-awareness. Instinctive. Hard-wired. Meaningfully curbing them can only occur in exceptional cases at the margin.

    372:

    When is a bad dream bad enough to qualify as a nightmare?

    373:

    as stated correctly by paws... Because the murderers and genocidal f*ckwits AREN'T MUSLIMS!

    374:

    This hardly fills me with confidence. Historically, when 20% of a population wanted a civil war, civil war happened.

    (I mean seriously wanted, as opposed to just being loudmouths)

    375:

    Rocketpjs@363writes, "organized religion is a scourge."

    Best explanation i've read yet for why telepathy, ghosts, astrology and consciousness after death or out of body aren't possible is Sean Carroll's "The Big Picture". He writes how it is that once the concept of our physical selves being made of atoms is accepted, then the quantum mechanical view of matter and energy restricts influences on those atoms to specific reciprocal interactions whereby if a force can affect particles, those same particles can affect such a force as well.

    Excluding extreme high energy environments like the Big Bang or black holes, or extremely small sub-nuclear distances, any force affecting atoms requires the existence of some type of quantum field by which influence could be brought to bear, and if such a field existed it would definitely have been discovered by now, after decades of particle physics research. As a theoretical physicist Carroll is convinced that experiments have not revealed any such quantum field within the relatively small range of physical limitations pertaining to everyday experience, and that by now they definitely would have if there was anything to detect.

    So he concludes that souls, psi and sorcery are necessarily fictional, at least in any setting humans could inhabit. I find his argument strongly persuasive, but I'm not confident of my ability to discuss quantum mechanics intelligibly, or to evaluate just how thoroughly particle research may have covered the entire range of human survivable environments. Any informed opinions on these topics?

    376:

    Tribalism always wins.

    But you can shift the mores of the tribe (which is insanely difficult rather than impossible).

    377:

    you can't talk the lemmings out of running off the cliff,/i>

    Except that lemmings don't run off cliffs. They can be driven off cliffs, but they don't naturally run off them.

    378:

    "As a theoretical physicist Carroll is convinced that experiments have not revealed any such quantum field within the relatively small range of physical limitations pertaining to everyday experience, and that by now they definitely would have if there was anything to detect."

    If he was doing the experiments himself he'd know fine that such fields are interfering with the procedure all the time...

    379:

    Right now they're talking about it. I think they're in the "dominance display" part of ramping up to a fight. What they'll do when the other side won't back down is another matter, and I suspect we're within a couple years of learning that.

    380:

    And they're dumb-enough not to misread what it means when someone glances at their dominance display, sighs, and goes back to what they were doing.

    381:

    Ugh. Sorry. "dumb-enough TO misread what it means when someone glances at their dominance display, sighs, and goes back to what they were doing.

    382:

    Paul @ 345: Greg @ 338:on IQ 45 - worth a read.

    Yes, scary. And Trump is a fascist. He and his followers tick pretty much all of Eco's checklist with little or no ambiguity.

    IS Trump a fascist, because he doesn't appear to have any ideology other than megalomania (wannabe Tyrant with Narcissistic personality and Grandiose delusions ...). Don't you have to have at least some minimal core of beliefs in something beside yourself to be a fascist? He's a grifter, and cultivating the fascists is a convenience, not an ideological commitment.

    Will there be a second US civil war?

    Maybe, but it won't be a regional conflict with readily defined borders like the previous one.

    383:

    For me that would be any dream upsetting enough to stop me falling back to sleep for ten minutes. Worst nightmare of my life happened when I got home from work tired and hungry, ate a take-out Whopper with cheese and promptly fell asleep to be confronted with images of a surrealistic abattoir, a culinary charnel house. Haven't had a whopper since, although their breakfasts and chicken sandwiches are quite good. Ought to change their name to Chicken King. And a bottle of B-12 supplements on the nightstand helps with sleeplessness.

    384:

    "So - a Slaveocracy right from the start, yes? Which supports my hypothesis/conviction that the revolt of 1776 was about keeping the slaves ( With a side-order of genocide against the "Indians" ) Unsurprisingly large numbers of USA-ians go off "pop" ( Or even "bang" ) when I suggest this."

    This is the topic of a very big fight in the USA at the moment.

    Centred around the teaching of history. In one corner, the 1619 Project, launched in 2019 on the 400th anniversary of the first enslaved africans arriving in the USA. In the other corner, the conservative republicans.

    The result is that some state legislature are passing laws banning teaching history that the Republicans don't like. Yeah, seriously.

    There's a summary here: https://theconversation.com/bans-on-critical-race-theory-could-have-a-chilling-effect-on-how-educators-teach-about-racism-163236

    And a good article on it here: https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2021/10/1619-project-historians-controversy-gordon-wood-woody-holton.html

    385:

    EC @ 365 "Islam" IS an Abrahamic religion ......

    Pigeon Uh ? ? ? ?

    FUBAR007 Yeah - the "Hispanics" are mostly Catholics & the RC church has a long history of cosying up to/being fascism.

    Troutwaxer That is so true - I'm encountering this lunacy, almost daily, elsewhere....

    paws Oh yes they are ( No pantomime, please ) if only by the murderous & militant stance taken both by their founder & by the next four "Rightly Guided Caliphs" If Islam is the "Religion of Peace" - it isn't: "Islam" means "Submission" - then why & how did the slaughter/battle of Karbala happen?

    NOTE: Organised religion close to me. Until recently, I could see the ancient ( 1185 or earlier ) Parish Church from my front windows 195m distant. The brain-dead cult previously referred to are 76m away. The nearest mosque is 118m away. The school opposite hosts another loonie happy-clappy "prod" group at the weekends - 87m. At the other end of the road in the old rectory stables is another pestilential ultra-prod set - 96m ( I've had to actually threaten them with the Plod or a thump, to stop them accosting me as I walk past! ) Oh & there's some sort of methodist/weslyan group who have a reconstructed chapel not too far away - 160m. All distances are straight lines - on the ground, all will be further away than that in walking ....

    Icehawk Thank you Very worrying That's pure Stalinism or alternatively, what the Nazis did about history...

    386:

    Heteromeles @ 362: In the US, we're still struggling with the idea that terrorism isn't a Muslim thing, and that right wing, very white, violence is a bigger threat to the US than Islam is or likely ever will be. Until very recently, the FBI coded terrorism as "violence caused by Muslims or anyway foreign non-white people," while domestic terrorism by extremist whites was coded as "random violent acts by the mentally ill." I suspect a large number of law enforcement agencies still see it that way, that terrorism is caused by Them, while the right to kill people we believe are threatening us is protected by the 2nd amendment.

    That BULLSHIT "right to kill people" is nowhere in the Second Amendment ... not even in the one third of the Amendment the NRA is always spouting off about.

    The FBI didn't always have that "Muslims are the only terrorists" bias.

    Prior to 9/11 they were more concerned with domestic terrorist violence from right-wing "militias" 1. That's partly why they missed so many of the clues about what al Qaeda was up to. What we really need is a broad overview of terrorism that focuses on both domestic and foreign threats (and knows that Jihadis are NOT the only foreign threat) ... and recognizes the link between violent, racist rhetoric and stochastic violence.

    I've been thinking a lot lately about whether the threat level is becoming great enough I need to get a gun just in case I need to protect myself from the fascists. I still hope that it will not, but I am worried.

    1 They're NOT militias. I served in the REAL Militia for 32 years. It pisses off whenever I hear them called that. It pisses me off that I have to call them that so other people will understand who I'm talking about.

    387:

    Robert Prior @ 377:

    you can't talk the lemmings out of running off the cliff

    Except that lemmings don't run off cliffs. They can be driven off cliffs, but they don't naturally run off them.

    That's SCIENCE and our human "lemmings" don't believe science when it conflicts with their "values".

    You gonna' believe the evidence of your own eyes when the Preacher Man says lemmings do run off of cliffs? HERETIC! Devil worshiper!! Liberal!!!

    388:

    Liberal!!!

    In a first-past-the-post system, that's how I've voted for years. I'd vote NDP but that would make the Tories more likely to win by vote-splitting the non-Tory vote.

    389:

    IF IQ45 isn't in jail by 24 & then "wins" - which governments will recognise his "win" as legitimate I wonder?

    All of them.

    And some of them my even secretly be happy.

    The US isn't some tiny 3rd world country that can have trade ties cut with no meaningful impact, and no ability to retaliate.

    If the US institutions certify a Trump election in 2024 then the primary goal of all the major nations, having experienced him already, will be to minimize any anger he may want to direct at them.

    And let's be honest, the current Democrat/Biden administration isn't exactly making friends among major allies either - and in some respects some of the major US trade partners may actually prefer Trump over Biden...

    390:

    Keithmasterson @ 383 For me that would be any dream upsetting enough to stop me falling back to sleep for ten minutes. Worst nightmare of my life happened when I got home from work tired and hungry, ate a take-out Whopper with cheese and promptly fell asleep to be confronted with images of a surrealistic abattoir, a culinary charnel house. Haven't had a whopper since, although their breakfasts and chicken sandwiches are quite good. Ought to change their name to Chicken King. And a bottle of B-12 supplements on the nightstand helps with sleeplessness.

    I have insomnia already. My main sleep aid is warm milk & Extra Strength Tylenol. But I don't like to take drugs to help me sleep.

    And then once having finally managed to get to sleep, to have a bad dream wake me up ... Not sure how long before I was able to go back to sleep but I'm sure it was more than 10 minutes.

    391:

    Are we going to have a civil war, and do I need a gun?

    Let's break down some more myths. The US Civil War did not result in the defeat of white supremacist violence. Instead, it morphed into Jim Crow, The Lost Cause, and now the Alt-Right.

    The critical point here, and it is very critical, is that violence didn't solve the situation. In most civil wars, the end is a negotiated settlement, not one side destroying the other.

    In contrast, I'm looking at the people who are routine targets of genocidal violence: Blacks, Native Americans, and Hispanics. These are not peaceable Gandhian non-violent braves* by nature or culture. Some of them own guns. What they've learned the hard way is that a mind that's clutching a gun cripples itself even if its hands are free, and that is why coordinated nonviolent action works better than shoot-em-up.

    And unlike the fightey-whiteys, they're winning important fights. Heck, the alt-right's realized this, which is why they're demonstrating on school boards now.

    So I still think that if you want to win the next civil war, you've got to do the hard thing, which is to get ready to demonstrate and take the resulting abuse, rather than making a fantasy redoubt in your basement to go down shooting.

    *Yes, I know "brave" is pejorative, but I think "nonviolent actor" sounds t'o much like acting, "nonviolent warrior" is silly, and most nonviolent activists are awe-inspiringly brave. I wish we could rehabilitate the word "brave" to cover what they do, because they bring a lot of honor to that term.

    392:

    icehawk @ 384: This is the topic of a very big fight in the USA at the moment.

    The problem with Greg's theories is he denies English involvement creating the problem of slavery in the American Colonies.

    393:

    Could that mean the Ghost Particle really is a (gasp!) ghost particle.....

    394:

    Heteromeles @ 391: ?????

    Not even a clue what I'm worried about.

    395:

    It's worth remembering, before we spiral further into "WE'RE ALL DOOMED"ness, that we're not average. We're a bunch of mostly older, mostly white, mostly cis-males, all of whom are self-selected because we like the rather dark, rather violent books of one Charles Stross. And because we're opinionated and think others need to read our emanations.

    Do we have an unskewed view of reality? Hah! Should we be buying guns based on discussions here? Do you really need an answer to that?

    396:

    Question for those with more archaeological knowledge than myself…

    Has anyone read The Dawn of Everything (Graeber's last book), and is it reasonable? I've just started it and so far it's thought-provoking, but I would have appreciated more footnotes/references so I could more easily check his assertions, so I'm wondering if it sounds plausible to a layman but not to someone who knows more about the field.

    397:

    LOL. Xi Jinping does not know how to make a fist, and (apparently) nobody has corrected him. In this, he is like DJ Trump. (I imagine generals and secret service/guards just silently laugh/snicker.) https://pbs.twimg.com/media/FELSz5QXEAYRcKn?format=png&name=small https://cdn.newsapi.com.au/image/v1/15d80894484e255d6fa78dc2b423c2ae https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/proxy/M1dsd-hhsezj0IbmtLszoqaBn4GZZTk5ntaTnNrtQBhuPaH8m2iLgof4Yi3LbHq0CdOAmXL-QrxrIEU76rk-b1adO-673DkE7rSHZ8iTuwzB2wEwF6h38 See page 9 in this pdf (I checked a chinese style to be sure): https://iri.columbia.edu/~tippett/rkfLongFist.pdf or How to Make a Fist (wikiHow) (Via cstross twitter about a ridiculous scaremongering news piece. China's new fields of missile silos are for credibility of deterrence. Xi is annoying but not suicidal.)

    Unrelated, This is an interesting trio pic : Putin / Modi / Xi

    Just spotted this from late 2019; only a few citations (venue not typical for such pieces), but worth a skim and selective sharing: The Human Cost of Anthropogenic Global Warming: Semi-Quantitative Prediction and the 1,000-Tonne Rule (Frontiers in psychology, 2019/10, Richard Parncutt) It implies that one future premature death is caused every time roughly 1,000 (300–3,000) tonnes of carbon are burned. Therefore, any fossil-fuel project that burns millions of tons of carbon is probably indirectly killing thousands of future people. and China and India are now both proudly and openly on team gigadeath criminals: India and China weaken pledge to phase out coal as COP26 ends (Leslie Hook, Camilla Hodgson and Jim Pickard in Glasgow November 13 2021) (They join the USA, Russia, SAU, many others.)

    COP26 Blue Light Drift 334/335 It's a bit more indexed than that. But, yeah: alll part of the party. I deserved that, OK. :-) really off-kilter Harz opinion post Off-kilter but worth a look for the style, thanks.

    398:

    Pfft! Xi Jinping is fine. By your logic Mohammad Ali doesn't know how to make a fist.

    Or

    Xi's not punching someone with his knuckles, he's pantomiming holding a dagger to thrust into the subclavian artery of his enemies, thumb on pommel to keep his hand from sliding off the hilt and onto the blade.

    399:

    The Rude Pundit had a good essay on teaching uncomfortable history: https://rudepundit.blogspot.com/2021/11/what-we-can-learn-from-germany-on.html No surprise the more nostalgia stricken partisans of the lost cause wish to suppress unflattering history, but the longer they fight, the worse it's gonna' be to rip off the scab.

    400:

    I haven't read it yet (I just bought it now actually), but you (and others) might find this article interesting.

    401:

    They really can't. Even the most catastrophic conceivable result would leave the Democrats with well over 40 Senators.

    And at least five Republican Senators would refuse to impeach Biden and Harris if the result was installing Trump.

    402:

    Whether he is technically a fascist or not is an interesting question for academics and historians.

    He is willing to end democracy in America and subvert the government for his own personal aggrandizement and violate people's political and civil rights when convenient, so I don't really care whether he is technically a fascist or not.

    403:

    Addendum I forgot the Spiritualist chapel, just opposite the local museum @ 192m.

    Keithmasterson Any good links to that Sean Carroll piece? I'd love to plant that under some christians & watch the fireworks.

    Which reminds me: W. T. F. happened in Liverpool?

    404:

    I keep hearing this idea that the core of religions are all butterflies and roses, it's just the apparatus that acts like a pedophile ring / slave runner / sadist / genocidal mass murderer / wage thief / tax dodger / racist / colonial power / slumlord. You shouldn't confuse the two because it gets people's back up.

    Sort of like Naziism is really all about joy and kid's holiday camps. All that death camps and skulls on uniforms stuff is just a parasite that shouldn't be confused with the core "strength through joy" principles.

    Sounds like crap to me.

    405:

    Except that lemmings don't run off cliffs. They can be driven off cliffs, but they don't naturally run off them.

    You need to read Yourdon's book on death march projects.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deathmarch(project_management)

    406:

    Even the most catastrophic conceivable result would leave the Democrats with well over 40 Senators.

    Even without any conspiracies, a heart attack or two and/or a bus crash on the way to a retreat...

    And if from the wrong states they would be replaced by R's.

    But in general never underestimate the D party's ability to wipe out a victory via ineptitude.

    407: 385 - Now then, do I believe the radical evangelical atheist {Islam means submitting (to whom/what?)}, or the moderate Muslim scholar {Islam means submission of the converted to following the Q'ran}?

    If you don't like having church premises so close, then move! ;-)

    390 - A UK pub double (about one shot glass) of Scotch drunk over the evening may also help (source being a UK primary healthcare doctor who didn't like prescribing "sleeping pills" if he didn't actually have to). 395 - That's mostly true, but I do try and persuade some of the other politically active UK types I know that at least some of his stuff is worth reading even if you don't read OGH's fiction. 403 - No-one actually knows yet, or if they do they're not saying.
    408:

    Do you follow world news? I was referring to Modi and his extremist Hindus.

    409:

    I don't have any links to Sean Carroll's mentioning it, but I remember the principles.

    I'm pretty sure it was on his preposterous universe blog, some time before 2016 I think. https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/blog/

    Made sense to me at the time. If there's a "you" that survives death, it must constantly read off the state of your brain. (and then store it somewhere) We know about all the fields that interact with matter strongly enough to read off that state and are of low enough energy that we can detect them with the large hadron collider, and we know that none of them do that. Any unknown field that interacts less strongly can't read the state of the brain because they just pass straight through without interacting. Any unknown field that interacts strongly with matter must be of such high energy that it would only work at a temperature where the brain would not just be plasma, but be a quark soup where even subatomic particles can't survive. So it's impossible to have a "you" that survives death. All religions claim some part of you survives death, they all know it's impossible and they're all lying about it.

    410:

    Physicists should be taught logic, the history of physics, and how to recognise hypocrisy in themselves, and anyone who posts such speculations as fact should be sent on a remedial course.

    411:

    Stop right there and ask why do we need an individual head of state at all?

    I'm coming late to the party, but in many (most?) states this is a feature, not a bug.

    The US example of joint Head of State/President muddles things, but if you look at other European examples where the head of state is separate from Prime Minister/Chancellor, etc. the HoS is designed as a constututional tiebreaker.

    Take for example Ireland (I believe many European countries such as Germany follow a similar model). The President is mostly a figurehead with few political powers, but what power they have is to step in as a tiebreaker in a crisis.

    The most straightforward is deciding when to hold an election. If the government falls tomorrow, he decides to whether to tell the parliament to get back in there and form a new government or hold an election (limited of course by time since the last election). If there is any constitutional crisis over govt legitmacy, he holds the keys. Now in practice the government in a coalition (and they're all coalitions these days) are closer to the scenario OGH points to: every decision the PM makes is in practice a coalition decision.

    In larger crises this becomes even more important: if the country is invaded, it is the HoS (NOT the PM) who decides fight on / surrender. The symbolism is there to rub this in: at an international football match both the President and Taoiseach are present, but the Army always stands behind the President (litetally!).

    So, while the system is designed to avoid constitutional crises where possible, there needs to be a tiebreaker, espcecially as these crises are deeply political and devisive.

    412:

    Over my lifetime, my political predictions have been more-or-less right aboput 2/3 of the time, though my estimate of the timing has been considerably less good. No, I am not expecting a bloody civil war in the UK, except perhaps in Northern Ireland, but I am expecting increasing fascism, fast economic decline, civil unrest, and general chaos. Brexit is a symptom not a cause, but has also speeded those up.

    And those of us who know something about guns know that they are a fuck-awful tool for self-defence - the key is social organisation (even at the level of a few households).

    413:

    JBS @ 382: IS Trump a fascist, because he doesn't appear to have any ideology other than megalomania (wannabe Tyrant with Narcissistic personality and Grandiose delusions ...). Don't you have to have at least some minimal core of beliefs in something beside yourself to be a fascist?

    What Trump actually believes is tricky to identify. Based on the limited evidence it sounds like he has a set of core attitudes rather than beliefs, and strikes whichever one looks like it might fit the moment best. I'd guess these attitudes, if written down, would be along the lines of "The (white working class) American people are the greatest", "Weakness is for losers", "Never mind the bullshit, just do it", "The liberal elite are destroying America", "You are either my friend or my enemy", and of course "I am a great leader".

    That on its own isn't fascism, but it is very much the mindset that makes someone open to joining fascist groups.

    Meanwhile, as a politician he evolved a schtick which appeals to people with a similar mindset. That schtick is very much fascism, and his followers have run with it. Which is why I said "Trump and Trumpism" are fascist.

    414:

    Likewise without answering your question about archaeology directly, but addressing the associated question “is Graeber a crank”, I offer this blog “symposium” post by left-leaning-but-respectable economist John Quiggan in relation to Debt:

    https://crookedtimber.org/2012/02/22/the-unmourned-death-of-the-double-coincidence/

    415:

    Yes. See also #244. I stand by my assertion that the head of state needs to be consensual or appointed by a mechanism that is independent of that used to appoint the executive and legislature, and a hereditary one isn't the worst method.

    It's asking for trouble to have one (or a second chamber, like the House of Lords) elected by a mechanism that is prone to capture by the tribalist politics that generally dominate elected governments. As in the USA. Ireland has got away with it so far, but is at risk.

    416:

    Trump I'd guess these attitudes, if written down, would be along the lines of...

    "Never mind the bullshit, just do it" I'd modify that one to screw the rules. Just do what you think needs to be done then fight the effects later. Do it non stop and you'll win more than you loose.

    "The liberal elite are destroying America" I think you're not from North America. Trump was a totally invested liberal elite for decades. All the correct political donations, fund raisers, and parties. That's how you got access to movers and shakers in NYC and so there he hung out. Once he started looking at the national scene he switched to being a tail hole R as he (and I supposed some advisers) figured out that was they way for someone like him to move up the power ladder. Before that he was a total tail hole D.

    As others have said, values, positions, etc... that don't make him more famous or in control of more money/power don't matter to him except to further those goals.

    Says a casual observer of him on the cable news and such since the 80s. I did watch "The Apprentice" once to see what the hype was about. A tail hole narcissist enjoying belittling others he had power over was my conclusion. (Once was enough.)

    417:

    Troutwaxer @ 357: If there is a U.S. civil war, it won't be "North vs. South." It will be neighbor against neighbor, mostly at night I'd guess, and mostly death squads.

    I agree. The dividing line is going to be "Republican vs Democrat". Many Americans have been raised as one or the other, to the extent that Blue and Red are becoming more like ethnic labels than political parties, and violence is only going to deepen the divide.

    The nearest historical analogy I can see is the Yugoslavian civil war. That was a primarily ethnically driven. So yes, death squads. In response neighbourhoods start establishing defensive perimeters and arming themselves. Informal command structures appear. Then "ethnic cleansing" starts, justified by pre-emptive defence against the out-groups. And things go downhill from there. The end-game is besieged cities with snipers picking off civilians.

    We had a discussion about this [starting @1203) back in September 2020. A number of people with National Guard experience (notably JBS) had useful insights into how that would play out. Overall it was that the NG would be used to suppress any such fighting; it is what they are trained for, indoctrinated for, and they are good at it. This would be the big difference from Yugoslavia, where the military were strongly aligned with ethnic factions.

    So with luck, the National Guard will establish checkpoints, stop troublemakers, and generally damp things down enough for civil law enforcement to take over. Quite how that is going to play out when the Federal government lacks popular legitimacy is going to be another question, but the Yugoslavian nightmare at least looks implausible.

    418:

    Brexit is a symptom not a cause

    So is my reading of things from afar correct? If Scotland and maybe others leave the UK due to them getting fed up with the Tories and Brexit, the Tories will be much more firmly entrenched in whatever remains of the UK?

    419:

    Temporarily, yes. But there would then be a high chance of something like the Tories splitting, some other electoral upheaval, or the government suspending what is left of democracy, and anything might happen. Chaotic political systems are like that. Interesting times!

    420:

    gasdive Very neatly put & what I was trying to say - but you've done it much better. - Re: Sean Carroll - thanks.

    paws From your own words - even the "moderate" muslim scholar demands "submission" - let's all be good little slaves, shall we? Church premises don't bother me - it's what they do on the street, frightening the 'orses that gets up my nose. ( And of all that lot, only 2 do that - & one has been warned off me & the second has had a council enforcement notice put on their activities. )

    EC I know Modi is pushing Hindufascism, in response to the islamic extremists - two mirror-mage collections of shits. Rather like the 30 years war .....

    David L That is exactly what some ( lots of ) us are afraid of. I'm hoping for a tory collapse/implosion before that happens.

    421:

    A UK pub double (about one shot glass) of Scotch

    Do you mean an English double measure (50ml) or a Scottish double measure (70ml)?

    Because there's no such thing as a "UK" pub double -- they differ between nations, and if you're in England, you're being short-changed!

    422:

    moderate Muslim scholar {Islam means submission of the converted to following the Q'ran}

    I've emboldened the critical words that you ignored.