Saturday, April 12, 2003


Australian political scientist, David Martin Jones has a long article on Islamic fundamentalism that points out that it is primarily a PRODUCT of modernization and affluence -- with its most dedicated members being largely Westernized and often living in Western countries. Thus modernization and democratization is not going to cure it -- the reverse if anything. Apparently, modern-day, skeptical Western civilization with its lack of any certainties is profoundly alienating for many not born to it and fundamentalist Islam is something that such people turn to as a more satisfying alternative. Thus the Islamic enemy will always be nearby hating us and endangering us unless we become intolerant enough to exclude or crack down on him in some way



We hear a lot about the contribution of the Arabs to the maintenance of civilization in the Middle Ages when Europe had become relatively backward compared to how it was in the days of the Roman Empire. Most of the story is a pious myth, however. It is true that ancient civilization was better known among Muslims at that time but the Muslims did NOT invent or originate any significant part of the knowledge concerned. They borrowed it from the Greek Christians of the still-thriving Eastern Roman empire centred on Byzantium (in what is now Turkey), and from peoples that they conquered, such as the Persians, the Northern Indians and the Assyrians. There is a good summary here showing that most of the famous "Moslem" scholars of the Middle Ages were in fact from the Assyrian Christian community, though not all were very religious. Note also this summary:

The next great luminary of the Islamic world is Abu Ali Sina, known as Avicenna in the West, his "major contribution to medical science was his famous book al-Qanun, known as the "Canon" in the West. The Qanun fi al-Tibb is an immense encyclopedia of medicine extending over a million words. It surveyed the entire medical knowledge available from ancient and Muslim sources. Due to its systematic approach, formal perfection as well as its intrinsic value, the Qanun superseded Razi's Hawi, Ali Ibn Abbas's Maliki, and even the works of Galen, and remained supreme for six centuries. This book was taught as the textbook to the students of Medicine in the University of Bologna until the 17th Century.

Avicenna's philosophy was based on a combination of Aristotelianism and Neoplatonism. Contrary to orthodox Islamic thought, Avicenna denied personal immortality, God's interest in individuals, and the creation of the world in time. Because of his views, Avicenna became the main target of an attack on such philosophy by the Islamic philosopher al-Ghazali and was even called apostate.

There is also Al-Ma'arri, (973-1057) the greatest Syrian poet. He referred to religion as "noxious weeds" and called it a "fable invented by the ancients", worthless except for those who exploit the credulous masses.

Other examples are Omar Khayyam and Ibn Rushd an important philosopher and scientist, known in the Western world as Averroes.These great men upon whose shoulders rests the glory of the golden age of Islam were not Muslims and even were critical of it..

(Crossposted on Israpundit)



In response to my posting yesterday about the lack of Leftist outrage over vast atrocities in Africa, Marc Miyake emailed me this comment:

They're not just Leftist but also racist. It's the same racism you refer to in your anti-racism as a sham post. Leftists probably think to themselves, "Africans don't know any better, so who cares?" Mutatis mutandis for Iraq: "Arabs are hopeless, so let 'em die." But bring up Israel and America, and suddenly the standards get raised sky-high. Why? Because only Israeli and American oppressors are responsible for the 'evils' that they allegedly do. Of course Europeans hold the moral 'high' ground and are beyond reproach. All others are just subhuman animals of color, useful for a protest now and then, but otherwise expendable.


Today’s most amusing headline: “Anti-War Groups Fear Loss of Momentum”

Textbooks widely used in New York's Islamic schools contain passages that are blatantly anti-Semitic, condemning Jews as a people

I suppose it is worth mentioning that the Iraq war was another defeat for the Palestinians too. The Ps have long had a love-affair with Saddam so after the first Gulf war the Kuwaitis kicked out over 100,000 Ps who had been working in Kuwait. Now the Ps will have the enmity of the Iraqui people as well, who loathe anything to do with Saddam..

Jeff Jacoby says that the USA should now topple the Castro regime in Cuba. It would certainly be acclaimed by the Cuban people.

Chris Brand pities the Kurds of Iraq for the way political correctness is set to betray them.

Michael Darby has a post that pities Iraq if the U.N. get to “help” with their reconstruction.

The Wicked one points out that GWB was quite a Greenie when he was Governor of Texas -- at great cost to Texans.

In my academic posting of April 10th here I point out that there are alternatives to the very loose ways in which Leftist psychologists customarily use the term “authoritarian”


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Friday, April 11, 2003


In the first half of the 20th century, many Leftists were enthusiastic racists -- making it probable that their anti-racist hysteria in the second half of the 20th century was just a self-promoting sham. The antisemitism we now see among Leftists on college campuses was beginning to expose that sham but their support for Saddam Hussein makes the case pretty conclusive -- for there have been few people more racist than Saddam. But the Left just ignored well-known facts in that regard. As the National Review says:

The left's neglect of Saddam's lengthy track record of hate and intolerance is baffling. Indeed, Saddam is a racist by the truest definition of the word: He hates certain groups, and even tries to murder people in those groups, precisely because of their mere race. Saddam is not a bigot because, say, he opposes racial profiling at airports. He is a bigot because he tries to exterminate entire groups of people based solely on their race. Some of his frightening actions constitute genocidal racism. Nowhere has Saddam's racism been more apparent than in his actions against Iraq's Kurdish minority, where his personal hatred of Kurds achieved horrific dimensions.

And, as Richard Pollock says:

Embedded reporters have filed stories of Iraqi soldiers shooting civilians and forcing teenagers at gunpoint to fight the war. Also, there are published reports of Iraqi women and children being executed by the Saddam-loyal Fedayeen. Such evidence (and more) reveals Iraq's human rights violations and continual breach of international laws that govern warfare. But you wouldn't know it if you listened to the "mainstream" human rights groups. They apparently can find abuses everywhere except in Iraq.



Below are two headlines from Agence France Presse which came up juxtaposed recently:

Media deaths spark outrage

AFP - The killing of three journalists in two separate attacks by US forces fighting for control of Baghdad triggered a torrent of criticism from international media watchdogs and officials.

Congo war claimed 3.3 million lives

AFP - The war in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has claimed 3.3 million lives and was "the deadliest documented conflict in African history," a US-based refugee agency said.

An accident or misjudgement of war is an outrage if the U.S. is responsible for it but blacks can do ANYTHING without it being an outrage. Much of the media seem to be moral imbeciles. They would not be Left-leaning by any chance, would they?



An "anti-war" advocate wrote to me:

We have undermined international law in pursuing this war without allowing time for due process within the UN. The ramifications for the future in an increasingly nuclearised world is alarming and you don't have to be of the "left" to believe this

I replied

I think the resolve of GWB offers a lot more safety in a nuclearized world than a paper tiger like the UN does. Remember: The predecessor of the UN did no good because the dictators ignored it. We could not let Saddam do the same. And don't forget that it was the resolve of Ronald Reagan that caused the Soviets to give up and thus remove the biggest nuclear threat of all.


World's most improbable headine in yesterday's Brisbane "Courier Mail": Iraquis topple dictator. Who did? Were there any Americans there? Media bias anyone?

The WSJ points out that the U.S. army in Iraq IS a multinational force -- in that people of many national origins serve in it.

The US plan to end the Israel conflict “calls for a cease-fire, a Palestinian crackdown on militants, an Israeli troop withdrawal from Palestinian towns, an Israeli settlement freeze and a Palestinian state in provisional borders”. What a joke! Hell will freeze over before any of that happens. Walling off the Palestinians (already in progress) is the only solution.

New Zealand did NOT join Australia in sending troops to Iraq. Anton Kelly notes a good proposal for a new N.Z. flag: “I suggest a bright yellow flag with a red and green jellyfish in the centre. The yellow represents our cowardly Members of Parliament, the red and green represent the Government of the day and the jellyfish represents the spineless individuals who are meant to represent us...”

The Wicked one has another joke about the French military.

Michael Darby has a post with lots of good news about genetically modified crops.

Chris Brand is disappointed at the Bush administration’s support for affirmative racism.

In my academic posting of April 9th here I point out that much of the basis of political psychology is founded on a mistake -- identifying as “authoritarian” people who are simply old-fashioned.


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Thursday, April 10, 2003


Describing the scenes of jubilation in Baghdad after the entry of US troops as "breathtaking", Rumsfeld today compared the events to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the ensuing collapse of communism in Eastern Europe. "Saddam Hussein is now taking his rightful place alongside Hitler, Stalin, (Vladimir) Lenin and (Romanian dictator Nicolae) Ceausescu in the pantheon of failed, brutal dictators," he declared. "The scenes of free Iraqis celebrating in the streets, riding American tanks, tearing down the statues of Saddam Hussein in the centre of Baghdad, are breathtaking. "Watching them, one cannot help but think of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Iron Curtain



THEY clapped and cheered and held out their babies for him to kiss. There could be no doubt who was the hero of the hour when John Howard met Australian Defence Force families in Brisbane yesterday. The latest meet-and-greet exercise for relatives of Gulf service personnel turned into a love-in with the Prime Minister - and yet another pointed reminder to Simon Crean that he is struggling in the battle for hearts and minds on the home front. Even Mr Howard seemed taken aback by the enthusiastic reception at Government House. After cheering him on arrival, people stood five deep to shake his hand and queued to have their photograph taken with him.



Arabs watched in disbelief on Wednesday as Iraqi President Saddam Hussein lost Baghdad to U.S.-led forces without a fight. Three weeks of war in Iraq have sparked anger across the Arab world. Protesters at hundreds of rallies have chanted praise for "beloved" Saddam and held his picture aloft. Rabat perfume shop owner Lahoucine Lanait described Saddam as the Arab world's "best dictator."

In Oman, some said Saddam, whose fate is unknown after he was targeted by U.S. planes, symbolized resistance. "It is irrelevant whether Saddam is dead or not. His memory will live on to inspire many Arabs to stand up against all the injustices committed by the U.S. and its friends in Israel," Belqees Hamood, a university student, said.

Adel in Beirut disagreed. "So he was the only Arab leader to stand up to the Americans. Look what happened, no one else will dare try that again." Fahd Saleh of Saudi Arabia expressed equal dislike for President Bush and Saddam. "Saddam is a terrorist but he's not alone. Bush too is a terrorist but Saddam is weak and Bush is strong. That's why he has won, because no one opposes a strong person," said the 33-year-old Saudi government employee.

All they understand is the “big stick”.



THE UN had failed its mission in the lead-up to the war on Iraq, the Australian federal Government said yesterday, and that failure would reverberate as the world tackled other despotic regimes after the fall of Saddam Hussein. Defence Minister Robert Hill said the UN Security Council had failed the world badly. "They passed 12 years of resolutions (on Iraq) but it wasn't prepared to enforce them," Senator Hill said in Brisbane. "That sends a very unhelpful message to dictators who develop weapons of mass destruction and are prepared to use them on their own people and on their neighbours."

But Prime Minister John Howard maintained the UN would play an important role in the reconstruction of Iraq, particularly in delivering humanitarian assistance.
Speaking in Brisbane, the Prime Minister repeated a US-led interim administration was the only "practical" option. Mr Howard said the UN would have a "major role" in post-war Iraq, but it would not be leading the administration of the country.



I found this amusing: “As Saddam’s statue fell in Baghdad, some Iraquis threw shoes and slippers at the statue — a gross insult in the Arab world”. I guess it is noisy cats and dogs you normally throw shoes at.

I particularly liked this report from Baghdad: “Cheering crowds earlier sacked U.N. headquarters in the Canal Hotel and drive off in U.N. cars. The building had housed U.N. aid workers as well as arms inspectors, who were withdrawn shortly before the war began on March 20.”

The crew of the British aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal are switching off the BBC. I wonder why? People HAVE been referring to the BBC as the Baghdad Broadcasting Corporation lately. Leftist bias anyone?

The Carnival is up again -- more legible this time.

Chris Brand has a posting about a book that explains how sexual attraction works.

Michael Darby has a post about the evil Zionist oppressors in Israel.

The Wicked one shows us why we should love bureaucracy.

In my academic posting of April 8th here I show that people who like and identify with the community in which they live do not do so out of a need to be loved.


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Wednesday, April 09, 2003



A reader writes:

It seems to me that the common core of beliefs for ARM Republicans, most Greens, the Big M Multiculturalists is really "democratic centralism". That is why these three views (anti-monarrchy, environmentalism and multiculturalism) , logically independent, usually are batched together, along with 'liberal' views on gay rights, gun control etc.

I think it was Alexis De Toqueville who highlighted the risk to liberty from democracy and argued that there were two rival strands of democratic thought. What we can call a Jeffersonian strand with an emphasis on breaking up power centres ('decentralisation of power') and a Jacobin strand that sees the common will as the ultimate goal to which all must bow.

I think the main streams in the contemporary left certainly have a Jacobin impulse but it is elitist not populist. They only recognise a popular desire as authentic when it goes along with their ideology, otherwise they call for government 'leadership' to overcome the popular demand.



This (Australian) ABC News Radio "Health Minute" has a summary of recent research on False Memory Syndrome. This is a controversial field and goes to the heart of recent public concerns over child abuse. It shows the urgent need to develop protocols to take account of FMS in cases of child abuse so the accused's rights are protected. Without these protocols in place all child abuse charges, true or false, will be subject to increasing skepticism.



What a dilemma for the Greenies this must be: Even pristine forests can contribute to air pollution. In fact, researchers now say that northern pine forests exude a family of nitrogen oxides and do so in quantities that may rival those produced worldwide by industry and traffic. Nitrogen oxides can react with hydrocarbons to yield nitric acid, a primary ingredient in acid rain. They can also help produce smog-causing ozone. Scientists generally peg automobiles as the prime source of nitrogen oxides. Trees, on the other hand, are usually credited with sopping up air pollutants



US President George W. Bush pledged the United Nations will play a vital role in post-war Iraq, offering reassurances that Washington will not act unilaterally in rebuilding the country. The USA must be the most generous and forgiving nation in history.

The Australian government has positioned a small group of federal officials in Kuwait as part of the government-in-waiting of occupied Iraq. The Bush administration invited the federal government to supply specialists to the staff of the US-run Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, which will govern Iraq after the war until an elected Iraqi government is in place.

The silent majority again: Sometimes we think only lunatics live in the San Francisco Bay Area, but the San Francisco Chronicle has a poll that suggests that's not true. Sixty-three percent of Bay Area residents support the liberation of Iraq

Peter Hitchens argues we need to return to the idea of punishment if we are to avoid both the continued escalation of crime and the Big Brother surveillance state the popular reaction to out of control crime will produce.

Prominent Australian historian, Geoffrey Blainey has reviewed Windschuttle's book on Tasmania and credits Windschuttle with demolishing a Leftist myth about the “genocide” of Tasmanian Aborigines by early British settlers. Speaking of the Leftist historians, Blainey says: But many of their errors, made on crucial matters, beggared belief. Moreover their exaggeration, gullibility, and what this book calls “fabrication” went on and on.

Matt Ridley has some good things to say about GM technology and criticises Europe's techno-pessimism, which is now HURTING the environment

China Hand has just had a shot at Australian school-teachers -- asking whether such government-cosseted people can really be called "professionals"

Chris Brand points out that Political correctness has made SARS pneumonia much more dangerous than it might otherwise have been.

Michael Darby has a few notes on the history and thoughts of Daniel Pipes -- the man who more or less predicted the 9/11 events.

In my academic posting of April 7th here I look at a claim that Rightists have been shown as opposed to human rights. I point out that the result arose because “human rights” were defined in a Leftist way.


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Tuesday, April 08, 2003


My nomination for the stupidest headline about Iraq in Australia’s Left-leaning press: Time to stand up to America. What hate-filled Leftist nutcases like this forget to mention is that Australia would have no influence at all in Iraq if we had not done our bit to help the USA put down a brutal madman.

As it is, it is good to see that Australians will likely be part of the US-led post-war administration in Iraq, although not in key roles, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer says. Mr Downer has just returned from the US where he discussed with President George W Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell US plans for the reconstruction and administration of Iraq.

Australia’s foreign minister Alexander Downer also says that the UN should supervise eventual elections in Iraq. I agree with that but cannot see any other justification for having the U.N. there.



The U.S. has lost a few helicopters in the Iraq war. But:

Gibson and other helicopter experts say, it should be a very different story if the U.S. is unfortunate enough to have to return to this or any other battlefield in the future. There's a new generation of copters coming on-line in the next five years that can fly lower, faster and more stealthily than anything deployed in Iraq. New night vision and radar technology will help pilots identify their targets from four to five times farther away than is currently possible. They also promise to be easier to maintain, cutting down on crashes. By the end of the decade, some helicopters will even be capable of flying more like fixed-wing aircraft



There is a very interesting summary here of the links between the Iraquis and Osama bin Laden. It all seems to be well-documented -- insofar as one can document what would be closely-guarded secrets. The home page of the article has a whole lot of other documentation on Iraq and Saddam as well.



“Essentially the state is the power exercised over the masses by a group of armed men separated from the people.” From the April Theses See here

“The state is a special organization of force: it is an organization of violence for the suppression of some class” From The state and revolution. See here.

That makes the Leftist position pretty clear, I think. The State exists to suppress people. No wonder power-mad people such as Leftists like big government!



Arabs throughout the Mideast were dismayed by television images of American tanks rolling through the heart of Baghdad and some rushed to sign up for holy war against U.S.-led forces. "As Arabs, we cannot see this and not move," said a man in his early 30s.. It seems clear that it is the Arabs who define us as the enemy rather than vice versa. They sure love suicide.

Good: Oakland police fired rubber bullets and wooden pellets on Monday to disperse hundreds of anti-war protesters in what was believed to be the first such use against U.S. protesters since the American-led war on Iraq began. Demonstrators were seeking to block access to American President Lines, a shipping company they claimed was profiting from the war in Iraq when police said they used the pellets and bullets to disperse about 750 protesters.

Great news! Britain is going to deport “Captain Hook” -- their pro-terrorist Muslim leader. Is British justice finally beginning to target the dangerous ones? About time!

And even the U.S. Justice Dept. seems to be overcoming their political correctness long enough to get some terrorist-supporting Muslims convicted! Is sanity breaking out everywhere?

Claims that man-made pollution is causing "unprecedented" global warming have been seriously undermined by new research which shows that the Earth was warmer during the Middle Ages

Michael Darby has an article that reminds us that Muslims think they should still own any territory that they once controlled.

Chris Brand has a post on the psychological reasons why women no longer need marriage.

In my academic posting of April 6th here I look at a claim that working class people are particularly authoritarian and show that some are and some are not -- with no overall trend one way or the other.

Mike Kerrigan, a Canadian university student, obviously has a lot of fun. He has created two big posters which he uses to taunt the Leftists around him about the Leftist policies of Hitler and Mussolini. I alluded briefly to them yesterday but if you missed them you can see them here.

The Wicked one has a joke in the “oldie but goldie” class.


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Monday, April 07, 2003


I have just put up here an interesting email about the historical Hitler and modern-day Neo-Nazis. The writer makes several good points which question my own formulatuion that Hitler was simply the most nationalist of the extreme Leftists. I would like to look here therefore at his three main points. Firstly, though, readers here might like to read what I am replying to, as it does embody some common misconceptions and assumptions.

1). I have previously pointed out at some length that Hitler’s eugenic ideas were in fact typically Leftist for his times and were supported in America by “progressives” of the day. My correspondent then asks how I square that with my general support for Chris Brand today -- who also has some eugenic ideas. Am I being inconsistent?

For a start, although I support some of Chris Brand’s ideas, I do not support them all. I assist him to circulate his ideas mainly out of free-speech considerations -- as there have been great efforts made (sacking him from his university job, pulping his book) by Leftists to suppress him. And I myself have never commented on the eugenic ideas he occasionally raises. Nonetheless, I do think it is absolutely stupid to condemn an area of science or scholarship just because it has been misused in the past. One might as well condemn all dog-lovers because Hitler loved dogs. So just because Hitler and the American “progressives” of the interwar era had the perverse and ridiculous idea that Jews were genetically inferior does not mean that all and any genes are therefore equal in any sense. The rise of genetic engineering -- with its capacity to filter out genetic defects in children -- has in fact really made the matter a non-issue. Genes are ALREADY being selected for and against by medical science in today’s world with little controversy. And Jews, ironically perhaps, are one of the major beneficiaries of that, with the recent virtual elimination of Tay Sachs disease.

2). The second point made is a common one: That the Fascists of the 1920s and 1930s were opposed in their day by other Leftists and admired by many mainstream politicians in Britain and America. Mussolini in fact achieved the remarkable feat of being admired not only by Hitler but also by Winston Churchill and F.D. Roosevelt! All that, however, is really no more than an illustration of how radicalized interwar politics had become in Europe. If Hitler and Mussolini were seen as moderate and reasonable by nervous Anglo-Saxon politicians and businessmen, how radical must have been the alternative? And the alternative was very radical indeed. Stalin’s Russia was to the forefront of everyone’s mind with the unprecedented challenges it presented to almost the whole of society’s traditonal arrangements. And Stalin’s Russia had extensive support throughout Europe. So it is no wonder that slightly less radical Leftists (Nazis and Fascists) were gladly greeted for their apparent capacity to prevent the Communists from taking over the whole of Europe. And the Communists, of course, were not oblivious of the effective opposition provided by their Fascist rivals. So Communists and their symathizers did indeed hate and oppose the Fascists. Mainstream democratic Leftists -- such as Germany’s Social Democratic Party -- however were much less opposed to Hitler and in fact voted with the Nazis in critical Reichstag votes. For a fun poster that makes crystal clear how Leftist Hitler’s ideas were see here.

Interestingly, the basic economic policies of the Fascists and the Nazis -- permitting private business to continue but only under tight State controls and supervision -- were radical in their day but are now the staple of Leftist political parties worldwide. The greatest affinities of the Fascists and Nazis were then not with the Communists but with parties like the Democrats of the modern-day USA and the Labour Party of modern-day Britain! The Fascists were in fact the first of the modern Leftists -- something that I have already set out at great length here.

3). The third major point is that Hitler's few remaining admirers in at least the Anglo-Saxon countries all seem to be on the political far-Right. If Hitler was a socialist, how come that some modern-day far-Rightists admire him?

In considering this, the first thing to ask is whether the description "Far-Right" is an accurate one for the people we are talking about. I think it is. The American far Right do share important basic values with mainstream "conservatives": They are independent, individualistic, suspicious of big-government and find great wisdom in traditional American values and arrangements. But they seem to be much more doctrinaire about it all and sometimes carry their independence and individualism so far as to become "survivalists" -- trying to live as independently of government and of what they see as a corrupted society as they can. But the far Right is a broad church with many opinions within it and it must be noted that only some of them have added pro-Hitler and antisemitic attitudes to their gospel.

So although support for antisemitism was in Hitler's day widespread across the American political spectrum -- from Henry Ford on the Right to "Progressives" on the Left -- it has lived on during the postwar era mostly on the extreme Right. (Though recent upsurges of "Anti-Zionism" among Leftists on university campuses seem to be a harbinger of big changes in that situation). Why?

The pro-Hitler, antisemitic orientation of some modern Rightist fringe groups goes back to the fact that Marxism and Leninism were internationalist. Marx and Lenin despised nationalism and wished to supplant national solidarity with class solidarity. That this was the best way to better the economic position of the worker was, however, never completely obvious. The Fascists did not think so nor did most Leftists in democratic countries. Nonethless, it did have the effect of identifying Leftism with skepticism about patriotism, nationalism and any feeling that the traditions of one's own country were of great value. The result of this was that people with strong patriotic, nationalist and traditionalist feelings in the Anglo-Saxon countries felt rather despised and oppressed by the mostly Leftist intelligentsia and sought allies and inspiration wherever they could. And Hitler was certainly a great exponent of national pride, community traditions and patriotism. So those who felt marginalized by their appreciation of their own traditional values and their own community tended in extreme cases to adopt Hitler and blot out of their minds or otherwise rationalize the fact that he was also a socialist. And the Leftists also blotted out of their minds or otherwise rationalized Hitler's socialism for exactly the same reason -- because Hitler was also a nationalist. The Rightists liked Hitler's nationalism and the Leftists did not but it suited neither to acknowledge his socialism. It did not suit the Leftists because it would have associated them with a failed and condemned figure and it did not suit the Rightists because socialism was no part of the traditional independent culture that they wished to preserve.

So antisemitism lived on in the postwar era among the extreme Right for two reasons -- firstly because such people are traditionalists and antisemitism had been traditional in European societies for roughly 2,000 years and secondly because it was a central part of Hitler's doctrines. Their liking for Hitler's national and ethnic pride led to their adopting his antisemitism too.



Chris Brand has some rather amazing revelations about the role of sex in the Russian revolution.

Michael Darby has a post on how the African AIDS epidemic could be beaten.

The Wicked one has a heartening report about resistance to anti-war tyranny.

In my academic posting of April 5th here I look at a claim that drug abuse in young people is caused by their “authoritarian” parenting. I point out that the authors concerned did not really know how to measure authoritarianism and that they were treating as significant a relationship which was in fact negligible.


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Sunday, April 06, 2003


My post about Scotland yesterday got me thinking about my various visits to Scotland. A few recollections:

The most beautiful scenery I have ever seen was Scotland's Western Highlands. I have never been much of a one for scenery but this even got to me. The only thing in Australia that I know of which comes close is the road from Cairns to Port Douglas.

My wife and I made a detour to visit the Isle of Skye. I was glad we did. It too was really beautiful. One morning I looked out the window of the bed and breakfast place in which we were staying and literally saw "a bright golden haze on the meadow" there.

After Skye, we drove further up the coast and eventually took a Caledonian McBrayne ferry across to Harris and then drove straight up the island to Lewis. When my wife and I got to the main centre on Lewis it was 11pm but still broad daylight and we had no trouble getting accommodation at a bed and breakfast place (i.e. a private home).

At the Northern tip of Lewis was a nice white sandy beach and I decided the next morning that a swim in Sub-Arctic waters would be worth a try. By the time I got in up to my knees I could not feel my toes so thought the better of it. Nobody else tried. I later did the same thing off a beach at Herm in the Channel Islands -- with similar results. I felt rather at home on Lewis. Everyone seemed to have skin that was as fair as mine.

On our way back South we stopped in Glasgow, where my wife had relatives. I got to know a fair bit about Glaswegians and really got to like them. I particularly liked their sense of humour. Billy Connolly’s humour is in many ways simply an exaggerated form of typical Glaswegian humour. They are incredibly status-conscious, however. My being a Doctor went down exceedingly well! Education is, of course, the thing Scots most respect.

The most notable thing about Glasgow was that it looked as if it had just been heavily bombed. Whole suburbs were in rubble. But it wasn't the Luftwaffe that did it. It was smart-alec town-planners and Leftist social engineers. They bulldozed the "slums" such as the Gorbals. Beautiful old stone terrace houses which would have been snapped up for renovation in Australia were witlessly destroyed. They moved the slum-dwellers out to new estates such as Easterhouse which then also became pretty slum-like. I know. I later did a social survey there and saw for myself.

I did the social survey on my second trip to Glasgow. On that occasion, one thing I noted was that Scots are great lovers of ritual and "the done thing". They seem to love rules. They have a custom for every occasion. I went to a party in Glasgow at one stage and it was some occasion (Halloween?) on which "Apple Dooking" was practiced. You have to grab an apple with your teeth only while it is bobbing in a pail of water. Being a rather dour sort, I did not think much of the idea so said "No thanks". To an English person that would have been it. They would have been embarrassed to press me further. Not the Scots. In the most friendly way they simply insisted. They just did not understand the idea of not doing something that was customary.

That aside I felt very much at ease among the Scots. Australians are popular there. Scots see Australians as being "enemies" or "victims" of the English --- which is also how they see themselves. As I moved around Scotland it was interesting to see how my reception changed when Scots discovered that I was not English. It was a transformation: From correct formality to warmth. I think I slightly prefer the Scots to the English. I like their greater spontaneity. Though I appreciate English reserve too.

The only thing I dislike about the Scots is their ingrained Socialism. When Mrs Thatcher came to power in a landslide, Scotland actually at the same time swung away from the Tories. Still, Edinburgh is a lot more conservative than Glasgow (where 50% of the Scots live), so maybe I would enjoy living in Edinburgh if I could hack the climate. Glasgow has a reputation for ugliness which is undeserved. There are quite a lot of nice places in Glasgow.

When I was doing my social survey in Glasgow (mainly concerned with Scottish nationalism) I tried to look up various books on Scottish nationalism in the various libraries there. One I could not find anywhere. No library had bought it, I gathered. Because of funding limits, a lot of books are hard to find in British libraries, even University libraries. When I got back to Australia the book I had been seeking was just sitting there on the shelf at my own University of N.S.W. library! They could afford a book on Scottish nationalism that the Scots themselves could not. Wealth and poverty do make a difference and socialist Scotland certainly was poor when I was there.



Stanley Kurtz has a long and learned article in Policy Review about what America should do with Iraq once Saddam is ousted. GWB and many others think that an effort should be made to set up democracy there but since the last effort to do just that led to Saddam Hussein’s rise to power, the critics are skeptical that Iraqui democracy is possible.

Kurtz relies heavily on the way the British Empire gave birth to modern Indian democracy out of a traditional society and also argues that short term control by America worked well in setting up Japanese democracy after WWII. He does however see huge difficulties and a long haul ahead in Iraq.

I am inclined to think everybody is being too pessimistic about postwar Iraq. I think that after Saddam, ordinary Iraquis will be dead keen to try the American way. I know that there are important cultural differences between Iraq and Europe but I still think that the example of central Europe and the Baltic States is instructive (Poland, Estonia etc.). After they all escaped from Soviet rule there is no doubt that America was thenceforth the model that they have all tried in various ways to follow. Saddam has obviously been as bad for those he ruled as the Soviets were so I think the response of Iraquis too will be keenness to try everything that is opposite to the Saddam regime.



Chris Brand documents some fairly astonishing ignorance about autism by someone who is supposed to be an expert on it. Apparently all that naughty evidence about genetic factors must not be mentioned. Even blaming mothers is apparently preferable to that.

Michael Darby has a post pointing out that science and technology is CREATING resources all the time.

The Wicked one takes a swipe at Canadian wimpishness.

In my posting of April 4th here, I have a bit of a laugh at how some Dutch colleagues were completely unable to understand their own research results because those results contradicted their Leftist expectations.


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