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Tom
London, England
An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about threats to liberty in Britain
Interests: liberty, travel, photography, writing
Recent Activity
Yes, I saw that. Samizdata is in my RSS feed. I also tried to spread the word on Twitter, giving you credit. https://twitter.com/tompaine/status/963024819515256832
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That is a word we should adopt into the English language! Given its origin in the Socialist world, it's particularly potent.
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I've been back in England for six years now, but was away for twenty, when all this was coming to fruition. I guess I am not as acclimatised yet as those who lived here throughout. Especially as I was in post-communist economies while I was away, helping market players rebuild on the rubble of socialism. It was a real shock to come home and find that deadest of all dead ideas had been gaining ground here in zombie form while I was away. No-one in Poland or Russia expects the state to take care of them. Given their history they would think it hilariously naive.
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I am still quietly optimistic, despite the poor performance of the British negotiating team and the obvious efforts of the Deep State to betray our democracy. The EU team is incompetent too and intent on pushing things so far that my desired outcome – a no deal Brexit – seems by far the most likely outcome. The lack of preparation for no deal is certainly a problem and there will be some costly chaos for a while, but then our factions must surely unite between a clear national interest to sort out the mess? My most optimistic hope is that the EU will be seen to be at fault for its vindictive approach; more geared to frightening other potential leavers than to dealing practically with the situation.
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I went to a series of talks on Sunday at Birkbeck College. They are part of the Weekend University programme established by Niall McKeever — an excellent initiative that I commend to you. They were about the psychology of behaviour change and I thought they might help me in my... Continue reading
Posted Jan 30, 2018 at THE LAST DITCH
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Give yourself a break and read some John Irving and Haruki Murakami too. Too many political books make for a dark soul!
Toggle Commented Jan 22, 2018 on A nugget from an unexpected seam at THE LAST DITCH
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"PR Service" was a jocular reference to the Church Jesus founded. From your suggestion that God only has "us", I infer you are one of those Protestants. :-( [I am still an atheist, but I now very much know which Theos I am a-)]
Toggle Commented Jan 22, 2018 on A nugget from an unexpected seam at THE LAST DITCH
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I am reading "God or Nothing", which is described as being by Robert Cardinal Sarah but takes the form of a long interview with him. Relax, I have not "got religion" yet, but a good friend who is trying to steer me that way gave me the book as a... Continue reading
Posted Jan 15, 2018 at THE LAST DITCH
Exactly. I talked to a Marxist academic at a conference in the Barbican once, who said he felt uncomfortable behind enemy lines in the City. I asked him if he had a private pension plan, savings fund or life assurance and when he said yes, pointed out that those "enemies" were managing the investments that underlay them. Not to mention that the Square Mile in which he felt so uncomfortable generates tax revenues that pay amongst other things his salary as a tenured academic in a state financed institution. When I was showing Russian colleagues around London they kept pointing at big buildings and saying "who owns that?", expecting me to answer with some oligarch's name. My answer was "probably me, among millions of others" because the genius of capital markets is that they aggregate all our money and put it to work. The few really rich people are mostly an irrelevance, except for the role they play in initiating opportunities for the little guys to invest in and taking the losses on failed projects that never go far enough for the little guys to get involved.
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Little of value is!
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It never fails to astonish me how divorced they are from that reality. The freedom of expression they disdain is a necessary but not sufficient precondition for the lives they lead. If they manage to suppress it, the effect will be similar to that which the arrival of Islam had on the previously creative and inventive Arab world. No more algebra, just a lot of rocking back and forth reading hallowed texts. It's rather similar to their disdain for the economically productive, despite the fact they are the people who ultimately fund their parasitical lives. They really imagine that wealth just exists in uncared for lumps, as if the rich sat on plundered piles of it like dragons, rather than having constantly to strive (or hire others to strive) to keep it in productive use.
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davidthompson: The Year Reheated. I used to read David Thompson‘s blog back in the day when blogging was the future. You remember, that time before Twitter admitted the ADD types, the narcissists, the shriekingly thoughtless conformists and (thank goodness) the occasional pithy wit to the online conversation. I found my... Continue reading
Posted Jan 5, 2018 at THE LAST DITCH
Who Leads The West: Trump Or Merkel? | Hoover Institution. The linked Hoover Institution article is excellent and explains, if you correct for their assumption that all European nations are like Germany, remind yourself that Locke was English and that the American Revolution was conducted on the principles of English... Continue reading
Posted Dec 27, 2017 at THE LAST DITCH
Neither can I. And if a child is orphaned or abused, other family members should take care of it in preference to state intervention.
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I am as socially conservative as you in how I choose to live. But I am not socially authoritarian. The more things you want a state to regulate the bigger it must be. And history shows us that big states do more harm than the social ills you want them to suppress. THAT is where we differ. We could live as neighbours without ever scandalising each other I assure you!
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I am anything but a progressive, but then maybe it’s just a badge word with no real objective meaning. Authoritarian leftists use it as a euphemism for their Marxism and conservatives and libertarians use it as a term of abuse. Like when an antifa calls someone a Nazi it’s really just a bombastic way of saying “you’re wrong”. And I know you think I’m wrong and it’s ok because I would like to be.
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You are a good man and I genuinely like to agree with you, but I struggle here. To agree "we were made" for X and Y, would require, I think, my agreement on the existence of a Maker. I would like to agree on that, but I can't. Friends of faith are praying that I may be able to one day. The best I can say for now is that it is objectively better for children to be brought up in a marriage staffed by both major varieties of human. I already went so far as to say that I would not willingly have brought children up in any other way. That's not always a choice and one of my best friends in the world is womanfully, with great love and noble intent bringing up a splendid young gent of whom I am very fond entirely on her own. It wasn't her first choice but she's doing her best and I have high hopes he's going to turn out well despite the disadvantage of having no full-time male role model. Decent males of her acquaintance are deputising when they can. One of them is me and I only wish she lived closer so I could do it more. Given your disagreement with my ideas you may be happy he's not over-exposed to my role model! Other friends are doing their best in sub-optimal family circumstances. Of the nature, nurture and free-will tripod, one or more leg is wonky for their children but there's plenty of evidence from children brought up in worse circumstances that a one-legged tripod consisting of just the child's free will can produce good results. For example I knew one of two brothers brought up by a tragically useless single mother in appalling circumstances. With no educational or financial advantages, he made a decision to rise above his upbringing. Before he died he raised a good family. His children have no valid complaints of disadvantage and his grandchildren are now prospering too. His brother on the other hand turned out as a good Social Justice Warrior would have predicted - drugs and crime and dissolution. There were no differences in their circumstances or upbringing. One just accepted he was a victim and the other refused. I don't deny life is unfair and that certain starts in life offer advantages. I simply hold robustly to the practical view that every sane and healthy man has a powerful choice in how to play the cards he's dealt. All a poor child in the United States has to do to join the ranks of the world's lucky is to finish high school and not conceive a child until married and able to support one. I doubt the bar is any higher in Britain or any other Western country. That's in anyone's grasp if he is not discouraged by people who tell him that he's a hopeless victim. The greatest evil Leftists do is tell young people they have no chance because of their class background, sex, sexual preferences or ethnicity. Legislating for virtue is pointless. Firstly legislation is essentially unvirtuous because it involves violence. Secondly legislators are no more (I would argue they are less) likely to be virtuous than any random parent. And thirdly, virtue compelled is not virtue at all. Good intentions matter and going through the motions of virtue is a vice. Marriage is not a magic spell. It's not a ritual incantation to be made every day over breakfast to invoke the protection of the gods. It is, as the order of service makes clear, a difficult thing and not to be undertaken lightly. You cannot seriously be arguing that the imprimatur of a state will make a thing better than your God can on HIs own surely? The kind of "encouragement" a state can offer is weak stuff. If you marry because it buys you a tax relief, what kind of mother or father are you likely to be, for goodness sake? Finally, my neighbour's child is important, yes. But I would be an hypocrite if I claimed s/he is as important to me as my own. I help my neighbour's child where I can, out of a natural inclination entirely unshaped by the state. Anyone who needs to be compelled by state violence to do what my nature inclines me to do is best kept well AWAY from children. You're one of my most rigorously intellectual interlocutors, but you are making the common error of assuming the violence of the state can be directed to good ends. All non-defensive violence is bad. Government is a necessary evil and evils must be kept to an absolute minimum.
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It is statistically correct that children thrive better if brought up in a marriage. That's how I chose to bring mine up and I would never have done so in another way. Such generalisations are useful in making ones own choices but not so much in inflicting them on others. Not every child is lucky enough to grow up in ideal conditions. That does not mean they are doomed. Children from the same environment often turn out very differently. There is nature, there is nurture and there is free will. For the most part, attempts to use the state to inflict ones ideals on others are likely to do more harm than good When the early Church converted European nations from the top down - evangelising their kings and having them impose the Church's world view on their subjects – it committed an error (you might say a sin). It gave the keys to the definition of a range of human relationships to the State, when they should have been matters for the humans involved in them (and their God and/or Church if appropriate). I am not a libertine. I value stable human relationships. I simply respect my fellow men enough (and have enough humility) NOT to believe I am entitled to inflict my views on others using state violence as my proxy. Nothing in my experience of life suggests to the contrary.
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Yes, the reaction to Rees-Mogg's honesty was informative. The Left believes that to permit is to condone. I condone very little of what people do. I have my own fairly strict rules as to how I think life should be lived, but I would permit almost everything, short of the initiation of violence and fraud. A new aspect of this odd world view of those who would be our masters is that it's not enough to accept others' foibles. One must now endorse them, approve them, encourage them or one is - again - assumed to condemn them. I neither care, nor accept any obligation to care about what others do as long as they are not initiating force or fraud.
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Left and Right are not useful labels any more, if they ever were. They don't even mean the same things everywhere. I am “right wing” (I would just say right) when it comes to economics but a liberal in social respects. For example I literally do not care who does... Continue reading
Posted Dec 1, 2017 at THE LAST DITCH
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Life is tough at the bottom of the equality heap | The Spectator. I am catching up on last week's magazines as I was away on my road trip when they were delivered. I only just got to the linked article in The Spectator. The first anecdote in Melissa Kite's... Continue reading
Posted Nov 23, 2017 at THE LAST DITCH
Thanks for those contributions. The fact that not a single po-mo person shows up to explain my errors is rather an index of my failure as a polemicist. Professor Peterson and Milo's posts are not only interesting in themselves but in the responses they elicit from those who would (were the boot on the other foot) be called trolls. So lacking in self-awareness are the po-mo brigade that they usually make matters worse for their side of the argument. If you don't believe in Reason, I guess you have no incentive to be reasonable but surely a bit of persuasiveness might be in order? There was an interesting observation by someone in the context of the scandal of the teaching assistant who secretly recorded her Star Chambering by three academics at her US university for presenting a video by Prof. Peterson as one side of a balanced argument – without approval but also without ritual denunciation. This gent commented that so complete is the dominance of the Left in academia that many have never had to argue their case before. For lack of practice, they are simply useless at persuasion. That is an optimistic thought. Those of us in real life who have had to negotiate for a living, or even just argue for a pay rise, justify a budget or talk our way out of being fired for underperformance (!) likely have more useful debating skills than these bullying propagandists.
Toggle Commented Nov 22, 2017 on The post truth era began long ago at THE LAST DITCH
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If I have blogged very little of late, at least on political topics, there are two reasons. Firstly I have been toiling through a very difficult book, which I wish I had read years ago. It explains so much of what I have written in the past — while often... Continue reading
Posted Nov 21, 2017 at THE LAST DITCH
If you are interested you can see an album of photos from my road trip at the link below. Tom in the Carolinas 2017. Continue reading
Posted Nov 16, 2017 at THE LAST DITCH
My day started well with a walk on a windy beach and a photo I liked. Then a motel breakfast lowered the tone as it will. I soon cheered up as I hit the road and drove through Kitty Hawk and back over a bridge to the mainland. My touristic... Continue reading
Posted Nov 15, 2017 at THE LAST DITCH