Saturday, June 24, 2006

See No Evil ...

We're getting used to this sort of coverage now. Compare the coverage of a South London murder.

First the £3billion, taxpayer-funded BBC.

Then the coverage of Lifestyle Extra, a site run by Pathom Ltd.

Two To View

"Liberals have spent years telling us that racism is a feature of right-wing thinking. So what’s going on in the People’s Republic of Scotland ?" muses Dumb Jon.

And the Coulter/Paxman video is most entertaining. Paxman introduces her as "Ann Coulter, whose right-wing rants ..." then asks "You also believe there is some sort of liberal hegemony in the media, do you ? ... I just don't see how this argument stacks up.".

"No, you're right - with the warm introduction like you just gave me - no - no liberal hegemony there ..."

See it at Youtube.

As We Know, The Rich Get Richer, And The Poor ...

... quadruple their population. Or more than.

Willam Rubinstein on the third world population explosion.

Afghanistan: 12,000,000 (1939); 29,929,000 (2005)

Brazil: 44,460,000 (1943); 186,113,000 (2005)

Chad: 1,433,000 (1931); 9,826,000 (2005)

China: 457,835,000 (1936); 1,306,000,000 (2005)

Colombia: 9,523,000 (1942); 42,954,000 (2005)

Congo (ex-Zaire): 10,384,000 (1942); 60,085,000 (2005)

Ethiopia: 12,100,000 (1945); 73,053,000 (2005)

Honduras: 1,106,000 (1940); 6,975,000 (2005)

India - includes today's India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka: 388,998,000 (1941); 1,407,000,000 (2005)

Iran: 15,055,000 (1935); 68,018,000 (2005)

South Africa: 10,709,000 (1942); 44,344,000 (2005)

These levels of increase are, of course, simply staggering. They are greater, both in absolute numbers and almost certainly in percentage terms, than anything known before in a relatively short period in human history. They have occurred despite losses in wars and civil wars, such as have occurred in India -Pakistan, the Congo, Ethiopia, and Iran-Iraq, among other places, despite totalitarian mass murders as in Communist China, despite immigration abroad, and despite losses through AIDS and other illnesses. In just over sixty years, Brazil's population has increased by 318 per cent; Colombia's by 352 per cent, and Ethiopia's by 503 per cent - and so on, with, in general, the most impoverished of these nations showing the most unbelievable increases.

While everyone knows that the population of the Third World has increased dramatically, how many realize that there are now 73 million people in Ethiopia - more than the population of Britain or France - or 43 million in Colombia ? The supergiants of China (1.3 billion) and the Indian subcontinent (1.4 billion) will be less surprising, perhaps, than the current size of several countries not on the above list, such as Indonesia (242 million), Nigeria (129 million), or Mexico (106 million).

The causes of these vast increases are obvious enough: Western medicine, applied to the eradication of communicable diseases and epidemics and to a decrease in infant mortality, in countries which have not undergone the "demographic transition" to smaller family size and lower rates of population growth, such as Britain experienced after about 1870, and in cultures where birth control and family limitation are shunned.

The consequences of these increases are numerous and are almost always extremely deleterious and dangerous. They include:

- The chronic inability of many of these countries to escape from the "Malthusian trap" via economic growth exceeding population growth. Many Third World countries simply lack the economic or infrastructural base to provide a rising standard of living for most of their people, especially in Africa, the Arab world, and parts of Latin America.

Certainly several of the traditional horsemen, war, famine and plague (HIV/AIDS) have been galloping around Africa for the last few decades - but the population keeps on keeping on. Look at the Congo, basket case of basket cases - yet with a six-fold population increase in 60 years.

Sorry About That ....

A 50-hour working week and ferrying children home from cricket matches meant no blogging last week. Didn't get home before 9 pm any night.

"Get to the top - I'm too tired to blog" as Eddie Cochran might have said.

More than a few blogworthy items last week, too.

How, when homosexual couples were allowed to foster children, could anyone have predicted this story ?

Two stories I'd have liked to cover, which Drinking From Home has reported on - the Tory who compares the Cross of St George to the swastika, and the latest Pew report on Muslims and the rest (management summary, with contrast slightly turned up - we think they're alright sorts, religion of peace, etc etc. They hate our guts.) To quote this old post :

Blair has no intention of doing anything about the chain migration which, along with natural fecundity and a severe shortage of lesbian feminists, will have tripled the Muslim population of places like Bradford in thirty years.

The liberal elite's attitude to Islam reminds me of Churchill's comment about Prince Paul of Serbia, whose nation had deeply offended Hitler by the (anti-German) coup of early 1941, but who feared to provoke Germany by mobilising their armed forces.

Prince Paul's attitude, Churchill wrote, "is that of an unfortunate man in a cage with a tiger - hoping not to provoke him, while steadily dinner time approaches".

DFH (and other commentators) don't seem to have picked up on (IMHO) one of the most unexpected (and disturbing) findings of the Pew Report - that only 44% of Turks think democracy can work in their country. This, remember, is the country that the new director of think-tank Demos believes must join Europe or risk "an intensification of Islamism". Ms Bunting (for it is she) thinks that 80 million Turks in the EU 'could shape a new, prosperous and peaceful accommodation between Islam and the secular west.' And Islam, as Maddy will tell you, has only been violent since the Indian Mutiny of 1857.

Lionel Shriver is one of the most clear-eyed Guardianistas around. Her stuff on educated, childless women is top. So's this Guardian piece on migration.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

A Forgotten Princess

Everyone knows about Pocahontas, the Powhatan Indian princess who ended her life in Gravesend, but few know of Paskwâwimostos, the Cree Indian girl buried in the same graveyard.

She was the daughter of Mahihkan (Grey Wolf), chief of the Cree in Saskatchewan, when in 1701 she caught the eye of George Montagu Danderville Herbert, youngest son of the Marquess of Powis, a forty-year old adventurer exploring the area in the company of an intrepid Hudson Bay Company employee, Henry Kelsey.

Although Herbert had a wife and three children at home in Kent, he took the beautiful young princess back with him and kept her, with a few personal servants, in a lodge in the manor grounds, where she gave birth to two of his children. He also changed her name, which he found difficult to pronounce (it means 'great bison') to the somewhat easier 'Meg'.

Herbert, however, was not an ideal partner. His drunkeness, his many infidelities, his occasional outbursts of violence, the scandal of his openly kept mistress, gave him an ill name in the country round. No respectable landowner would entertain him - no respectable lady would entertain Meg.

She grew bitter, frequently upbraiding him for taking her from her own country. He responded with blows, and then stopped visiting her, reducing her servants to one and restricting her allowance. Her children were taken away to be schooled elsewhere. She never saw her two sons again. Worn down and heartbroken, she died in 1712, aged only around 30.

Despite her unorthodox life, there was widespread pity for her, and a large crowd attended her funeral in Gravesend. When Herbert arrived he was hissed by the crowd and stones and ordure thrown at his carriage.

The Gravesend Recorder printed a special broadsheet edition covering her funeral.

The heading : "Cad Buries Cree Meg"

Sunday, June 18, 2006

She's Back - And This Time It's Personal (and Political)

Anyone at college in the late 70s/early 80s with the slightest interest in feminism will remember Marilyn French's "The Women's Room" - as much a fixture on the 1981 student bookshelf as Hesse and Castenada were on the 1971 version.

She's back, with a new book and a long Guardian interview - having, it seems, learned nothing and forgotten nothing. I'd been impressed by 'The Women's Room', empathised with poor Mira ("my taste was bitter, my taste was me" - how the quotes stick in the mind), was awed by feisty Val - it wasn't until some years later that I wondered if all men could really be as bad as that, and if it wasn't a tad overdone.

Ms French is unrepentant : "Well, the men of that generation were stereotypes. I was just being honest."

Amazingly, she couldn't find a publisher for the new work, In The Name of Friendship, which ended up being published in Holland. I'd have thought all the teens and twenties who read it in the eighties would buy another 25 years on. After all, TWR came in at #10 in the recent Woman's Hour fiction poll.

Germaine Greer, who was always media-savvy (anyone remember "Nice Time" on ITV ?) seems to have done rather better for herself than most 70s feminist icons, becoming that most British of instituations, the grande dame. Time was not kind to others.

Shulamith Firestone, whose 'The Dialectic of Sex' left a deep impression on a seventeen-year-old Laban (she said 'men can't love' and I thought I couldn't love. At that age you're the world) ended up in a series of mental institutions. According to this 2000 Andrea Dworkin interview, Firestone was "poor and crazy. She rents a room in a house and fills it with junk, then gets kicked out and moves into another room and fills that with junk."

Kate Millett, whose "Sexual Politics" could be found on the 1970s middle shelf, somewhere between "The Female Eunuch" and "Titus Groan", also went into mental hospital and wrote about it. For years she survived selling Christmas trees and at 62, poor and unable to find an academic post, penned this cri de coeur in the Guardian.

"I cannot get employment. I cannot earn money. Except by selling Christmas trees, one by one, in the cold in Poughkeepsie. I cannot teach and have nothing but farming now. And when physically I can no longer farm, what then? Nothing I write now has any prospect of seeing print. I have no saleable skill, for all my supposed accomplishments. I am unemployable. Frightening, this future. What poverty ahead, what mortification, what distant bag-lady horrors, when my savings are gone ?"

She's no longer cutting trees, anyway.

Here's something not so completely different - the very wonderful Christina Hoff Sommers review of Harvey Mansfield's book "Manliness".

"One of the least visited memorials in Washington is a waterfront statue commemorating the men who died on the Titanic. Seventy-four percent of the women passengers survived the April 15, 1912, calamity, while 80 percent of the men perished. Why? Because the men followed the principle "women and children first."

The monument, an 18-foot granite male figure with arms outstretched to the side, was erected by "the women of America" in 1931 to show their gratitude. The inscription reads: "To the brave men who perished in the wreck of the Titanic. . . . They gave their lives that women and children might be saved."

Today, almost no one remembers those men. Women no longer bring flowers to the statue on April 15 to honor their chivalry. The idea of male gallantry makes many women nervous, suggesting (as it does) that women require special protection. It implies the sexes are objectively different. It tells us that some things are best left to men. Gallantry is a virtue that dare not speak its name."

Mansfield takes a different perspective on 70s feminists :

"In the 1970s," says Mansfield, "nihilism came to American women. . . . What interested [feminists] in Nietzsche was the nihilism he proclaimed as fact--God is Dead--and the possibility of creating a new order in its place." Of course, most American women were not reading Nietzsche. But many did read Simone de Beauvoir, and she was the herald of the new nihilism. In Mansfield's words, she was "Nietzsche in drag." Far from being critical of Nietzsche's hypermasculine fantasies, his "will to power," and his rejection of the Judeo-Christian ethic--she embraced it all and urged women to emulate it.

Beauvoir famously said, "One is not born, but becomes a woman." She rejected the idea that there is anything like human nature or any other source of an authoritative moral order. When she said that women must seek "transcendence," she meant that they should reject all the inducements of nature, society, and conventional morality. Beauvoir condemned marriage and family as a "tragedy" for women; both are traps that are incompatible with female subjectivity and freedom. She described the pregnant woman as "a stockpile of colloids, an incubator for an egg." She compared childbearing and nurturing to slavery.

Mansfield reminds readers how far Beauvoir's "womanly nihilism" strayed from the classical feminism of Mary Wollstonecraft and American suffragists. The early feminists questioned the rigidity of sex roles, but they never doubted that there was such a thing as human nature, and that women had distinctive roles to play in the family and society. Simone de Beauvoir wanted women to be free of all roles. Toward what end? She did not specify. Beauvoir's womanly nihilism inspired apostles like Germaine Greer, Shulamith Firestone, Kate Millett, and (to a lesser extent) Betty Friedan. In the decades following the sixties, it became official feminist doctrine.

Of course, as Mansfield observes, women are not men, and so inevitably they are less effective at being true Nietzscheans. Unlike radicals in other social movements, the feminist revolutionaries of the 1970s and '80s never engaged in violence. None went to jail. So how did they succeed in changing American society?

As Mansfield explains, they "relied on womanly devices." They formed "consciousness raising" groups and enrolled in "assertiveness training" workshops. Pronoun policewomen went to work cleansing the language of sexism. Tantalized by the Nietzschean idea that knowledge was a form of power, and not the result of disinterested inquiry, feminist scholars went on a rampage "reinventing" knowledge. In the academy, women took full advantage of manly men's gentlemanly reluctance publicly to oppose and thwart women.