01 January 2007


Use this post to comment or feedback on anything discussed on this site, or anything in the Mediocracy book.

Comments are unmoderated, though I reserve the right to delete anything that's rude, unnecessarily aggressive, or over 300 words long.

Thanks for visiting.


Fabian Tassano said...

This facility is unmoderated and doesn't require registration. If appropriate I will add a link to a comment left here from the relevant post.

Saltburn subversives said...


Re your advice to the next Tory leader.

It is difficult to see how they could appeal to people with anti-state policies without openly espousing those policies.

You are right of course to say that the epithet 'right wing' is now a pejorative term. I would hope that ordinary people care even less for political labels than they do for political principles. Perhaps the way forward is to argue that the choice is no longer between 'Right' and 'Left' but between authoritarianism and freedom.

Ludvig von Mises had something to say about this many years ago,
'The usual terminology of political language is stupid. What is 'left' and what is 'right'? Why should Hitler be 'right' and Stalin, his temporary friend, be 'left'? Who is 'reactionary' and who is 'progressive'?'

Good Question?


Fabian Tassano said...

"It is difficult to see how the Tories could appeal to people with anti-state policies without openly espousing those policies."

In the same way that New Labour have appealed to voters who have authoritarian sympathies, without openly espousing authoritarian policies?

james said...

I am afraid your analysis is deluded. The electorate can clearly see that the Tories are a shambles and are not a credible opposition.

Until this changes, the Tories have no chance of winning an election.

Peter Horne said...

Re: Top Ten Bloggers

Spot on!

As I've said before, sarcasm is the better way!

Paulie said...

The absence of my blog from your list casts doubts upon your selection methods.

Fabian Tassano said...

What makes you think it's not on?

Fabian Tassano said...

Update on A N Wilson post - Following dailymail.co.uk’s mysterious refusal to post Dr McCreery’s online comment, he sent a hard copy to the Letters Editor last Wednesday. It has finally appeared in today’s Mail, which is nice though unexpected. I wonder whether this has anything to do with the fact that Mr Iain Dale kindly linked to this blog yesterday (for reasons unknown), resulting in a large number of readers of a right-wing persuasion ...

Surreptitious Evil said...


This quote by Kleeman is actually from a follow-up article by her in the Daily Mail of 21 May 2005. Does my claiming it's what she said in the programme count as doctoring? Possibly, but at least you're getting all the facts.

Is it doctoring? Yes but the important thing is that you clearly care that you have been slightly glib with your attribution.

The point of the deception culture is that us proles cannot be trusted with the facts, because we have an annoying tendency to come to the "wrong" decision - for the particular statist's definition of "wrong".

The media culture that demands soundbites rather than reasoned discussion just plays to this tendency.

Bel said...

In this Saturday's Times ...

Well done. That's good news. I'll certainly be reading it.

But give us a clue ...

Simon Clark - Formerly The Cynical Libertarian said...

You didn't like Rome? Wow, I think you're the first person I know who didn't. I loved it; didn't think it was anything like The Tudors really (which was pants, I agree). I'm no expert on Roman history but I've read around it a bit and it seemed to be fairly accurate.

Simon Clark - Formerly The Cynical Libertarian said...

Ah, although I did watch the HBO version. Supposedly the version which aired on the BBC was edited and missed out a lot of politics and stuff.

Fabian Tassano said...

I thought Rome was horrible. At least The Tudors doesn’t take itself too seriously. I’m not criticising either programme for its historical inaccuracy, but for the psychology and worldview it portrays. If The Tudors is a bit like Carry On Henry meets EastEnders, Rome seemed like a cross between Mean Streets and Footballers Wives.

Savage44 said...

Re: The Tudors - I can't help feeling that this relentless dumbing down of our history, and converting everything into (leftish liberal elite) 21st century attitudes and behaviour, is all part and parcel of the systematic dismantling of the English as a nation.

By the way, did anyone notice Cardinal Wolsey becoming the father of the EU? I swear, when he was trying to sell the peace treaty to Henry, he said it would allow in the future for the setting up of pan-European institutions.

I watched bits of Rome, but I didn't really enjoy it. I liked "I, Claudius" much better.

Ultraviolets said...

"Criticising Islam as contrasting unfavourably with Western liberalism is a red herring."

In Islam, everyone is born a Muslim.

In Christianity (and by extension 'The West') everybody has Christ 'within them' but they have to hear the Gospel first and then agree with it.

In this late decadent stage of Democracy we now have Govnernment that "protects" rights that are "given" to you by virtue of you being Human.

This is what George Bush means when he says that Freedom is Gods gift to the Universal "We're all Human" All, with America as it's Rainbow Prophet.

In this respect it resembles Islam, because everyone is born "Human".

And that's how we got the disaster of the Iraq War.

And the Americans can't leave Iraq because it would scuttle their dreams of a united humanity under America, just like the UN, and just like the Communist Party.. How ironic. Didn't the NeoCon movement grow out of former Communists? How Ironic: People think the NeoCons are evil Capitalists. How ironic.

But my point is this: What's called the West now doesn't at all seem like the West of Socrates who chose reason over the body and inquiry over faith. (And I know he was put to death, but you could say he was the first proponent of "Freedom of Speech" - because he chose to die rather than be silent.)

Peter Horne said...

In case you missed it

Fabian Tassano said...

Marrin seems to be suggesting that it would help if nurses were more afraid of losing their jobs. Perhaps it would, but I wonder whether the more serious lack of incentive isn't higher up. Unlike private corporations, managers in the NHS (and other state institutions) have little reason to mind if one of their clients is seriously dissatisfied.

Peter Horne said...

Prime candidate for emergency intervention by the Bansturbation Police here,

Although in this case men in white coats might be more appropriate.

Simon Clark - Formerly The Cynical Libertarian said...

I like your post on bans and intervention, though I see them more as an arms race or a competition between two firms than an addiction.

On the one hand there are politicians who compete on quality, they say "I can do x better than the other guy". If we imagine a society that begins in a state of relative liberty with a very small government with limited responsibility, this would be the most obvious form of competition between politicians. If government is in charge of defence and nothing else, they will compete on who will run defence best.

Some politicians, however, may engage in expansionist competition whereby they increase the size of the battlefield. Perhaps they can't compete on an existing role of government, so they must create new roles with which to gain support. Even if they can win on an existing issue, it never hurts to put distance between yourself and your opponents.

It seems that expanding authoritarianism is an almost inevitable part of unlimited (and even weakly limited) government due to the incentives we have created for politicians to compete and the lack of incentives for voters to get it right.

Fabian Tassano said...

Formerly Cynical Libertarian, there is something in the model you propose, but I fear you aren't being nearly cynical enough. Nor are many other sceptics of intervention.

Most people seem to think that greed is the only dangerous motive in human psychology. If that were true, we would have a lot less to worry about. There is desire for power over other people, which many appear to find gratifying in its own right. Worse, there is the desire to stop other people getting what they want, or simply a desire to harm them. It's all perfectly consistent with evolutionary biology, but perhaps a little too awkward and ideologically incorrect to discuss.

I would have thought that competition between parties provides one of the few restraints on authoritarianism, though not perhaps on the drive to provide free 'goodies' out of taxpayers' money.

On the other hand, and perhaps this fits with your model, I think it's true that once there is a certain level of intervention, it is easier for a party seeking office to propose additions than reductions. It's what Thatcher called the 'ratchet effect'.

Peter Horne said...

As far as greed is concerned, there seems little criticism of state employees, with their inflated salaries for spurious services, early retirement and gold-plated pensions.

If interventionists are well meaning but mis-guided, there must be psychological factors at work, considering the evidence of the futility of intervention. Maybe some kind of denial or "magical thinking", eg an unconscious acceptance of the proposition "I know this isn't true but I'm going to believe it anyway". A kind of religious fundamentalism.
Much more likely, as you point out, is that they know exactly what they are doing but are driven by the normal human motives of self-interest, self-righteousness and lust for power.
It is time their real motives were exposed.

Simon Clark - Formerly The Cynical Libertarian said...

No need to apologise, I'm flattered at the attention!

I don't disagree that the motives of at least the vast majority of politicians are far from benevolent. Whilst I can see the logic and plausability of your idea, I think past evidence suggests something a little different.

What you seem to suggest is that politicians are rather like the rapist who snatches some young girl and keeps her locked up in his basement and tortures her and makes her do his bidding. As attractive (unattractive?) as this is, I'm not sure how true it is.

I might submit, as evidence, various dictatorial regimes around the world: Nazi Germany, the USSR, Cuba, China, North Korea and so on. In these countries we have not seen the kid of sweeking nanny-statism that has taken place in Britain, Europe and, to a lesser extent, the United States. The only exception I can think of might be Nazi Germany where they encouraged people not to smoke and so on, but I don't think they ever banned anything like that. The regimes in these countries have secured (or did secure) their grip on power by prohibiting a few important things: guns, free speech, free democracy, free enterprise and so on.

If they had been addicted to banning things in and of itself, this would not have happened. Certainly they had the ability to ban whatever they liked. I would suggest that they were in fact addicted to power and status, rather than to prohibition per se.

Now, that's not to say that today in Britain we simply have a different sort of politicians with different motives, but it makes it at least a little less likely.

What I think has happened is that the 20th century has been so full of overt authoritarianism of the German and Russian style, that has been so universally branded has evil, that it is, at least in the west, no longer effective. Shutting down democracy is not an option becuase it has become valued above all else. In this way, politicians cannot guarantee themselves power they must actually get elected and, once elected, gain the maximiun power to satisfy their wants, which are the same as previous dictators: power and status. To do this they must engage in expansionist politics and inexorably fatten government.

So what I am trying to say is simply that I think they are addicted more to power than to prohibition, which is really not much of a difference.

Fabian Tassano said...

Thanks for your comments. I've responded in the post.