The mysterious dissappearing SBBS

Remind me to change my settings so that articles live longer than a week when nothing new’s been posted…

In other news, I’ve been working harder than people should have to (this is my 10th consecutive day in the office; yesterday was the first time during those 10 days that I left before 7PM. Not nice); I had a birthday yesterday so am now hungover and older; and for vaguely related reasons haven’t got much posting done.

Posted in Uncategorized

Ireland and famine

I don’t know a great deal about the Irish famine. However, I’m fairly convinced from everything I have read that the idea of the evil English deliberately genocide-ing a million Catholics is bollocks.

This National Review article (I know, I know) has an interesting argument – in particular, raising the point that the New York authorities played a major role in releasing the potato blight that was the famine’s direct cause.

Can anyone point me towards a good and (more or less) unbiased source dealing with this? I’d quite enjoy having a stick to bash Irish Americans with next time they raise outrageous lies about murderous Brits…

Posted in Uncategorized

On liberal imperialism

Ryan at Beatniksalad is worried that senior British diplomat Robert Cooper believes in treating states with double standards depending on how liberal-democratic they are.

This isn’t a terribly controversial view – it’s been taught in International Relations courses for the last n years, where n is quite large: the system of order among “modern” states is maintained by balance of power (which can catastrophically fail, as in WWI), while postmodern states (broadly, Europe plus Anglosphere post-2003) rely on transnational institutions and shared cultural values.

This isn’t entirely daft – trusting France not to harbour murdering terrorists is broadly safe (notwithstanding what some of the more deranged people on the US right may think); the same is demonstrably false for Iraq (which doesn’t mean Saddam was involved in 9/11, but he did provide sanctuary for al-Qaida-ites afterwards) and certainly not something you want to leave to trust for Syria or Pakistan.

The difficult bit is dealing with states in transition from modern “we hate everyone who isn’t us and my enemy’s enemy is my friend” to postmodern “we don’t actually hate the rest of the world at all – hey, we’re all people” – like most of Asia (outside the ex-USSR, where things don’t really seem to be improving), like Iran, and maybe like China.

Irrespective of WMD or no WMD, al-Qaida or no al-Qaida, it’s difficult to feel sad about the Iraq war. One of the world’s nastiest bastards is gone, and at the very worst case scenario we won’t make things much worse than they have been. On the other hand, it’s going to be decades before Iraq is democratic (in the sense of a commitment to democracy, rather than in the sense of having elections to pick the next tyrant) and secure. There was no good option.

However, if we were to destabilise Iran’s transition to democracy so that Iranians felt it was being imposed by external imperialists, this would be a genuine tragedy. And that’s where liberal imperialism falls apart – you CAN’T force the Iranians to democratise; that will make everything a million times worse. Unless the bad government you’re toppling is as bad as or worse than Saddam’s, which is rare, the “yes, but they’re our bastards” reaction kicks in among the people.

So where does that leave liberal imperialism, outside of Iraq, Afghanistan and North Korea? There isn’t anywhere else ruled by nasty enough bastards for an invasion to be welcomed even as grudgingly as the Iraq invasion. If we back democrats too strongly, then they’ll be discredited in the eyes of the people.

So whether you view the doctrine as scary or good, it’s not applicable in more than 2% of the world’s “modern” or “pre-modern” regimes anyway. Which is nice, or a shame, respectively.

Posted in Uncategorized

At least call centres are useful

A stupid pundit claims that call centres don’t help India’s economy. Apparently offering young graduates jobs that pay four times the average national wage, while also giving them the opportunity to perfect their western English and improve their understanding of the Anglophone culture they share, is a bad thing.

Actually, I guess if you’re the kind of BJP nationalist who believes England’s net impact on India was negative, and that Indians in general should stop speaking English, then I guess it is.

Meanwhile, back in the sensible world, shifting call centre work to India is a great move for people in the UK and US, and for people in India. It’s a shame that – in all three countries – an unholy alliance of nationalists and socialists with no understanding of economics are trying to stop the shift.

Let’s hope they fail.

Posted in Uncategorized

Paging Cuthbertson

Natalie Solent has written one of the best Peter Cuthbertson parodies ever; unfortunately, she seems to have forgotten to label it as such.

Potentially the socialist brain rays are erasing her memory processes. They’re certainly erasing mine. Roll on Christmas and New Year, when the alcohol can take over…

Posted in Uncategorized

First thing we do, let’s kill all the doctors

I guess it would make the War On Some Drugs more consistent if we were to criminalise tobacco.

That’s pretty much the only thing to be said for it. We’re not talking banning smoking in public places, or even in private places with public access, for which there are some decent arguments – this is a “fags will be as illegal as coke” deal. Yey with the Prohibition, yey with the utter violation of any sensible theory of rights.

One needs to be quite intelligent to become a medical doctor, both to get on the course and to stick through it; this rules out the possibility that the Lancet and Dr Astrid James are advocating such a policy through sheer stupidity. As a result, I can only conclude that they are objectively pro-evil.

More measuredly, why does society pay attention to what doctors have to say on issues of individual rights? They never, ever have anything sensible to contribute to the discussion.

Posted in Uncategorized

Freedom to trade? Not here, mate

Not the greatest scoop, admittedly… but for the last 25 years, the US government has been imposing financial and/or criminal penalties on any American trader who boycotts Israel.

While boycotting Israel is a silly thing to be doing, there doesn’t appear to be a sensible argument that it ought to be illegal. I’d be grateful for one…

In its absence, maybe the civilised world should impose similar restrictions to prevent trade with people who boycott Cuba (Israel more liberal/democratic but Cuba less land-stealing – the two are about equal in the World Pariah Superleague, I reckon).

Posted in Uncategorized