Monday, September 18, 2017

Ms Zuckerberg regrets

There is a rather strange article here by Mark Zuckerberg's Leftist sister under the title "How to Be a Good Classicist Under a Bad Emperor". In it, she claims to have the "right" ideas about classical literature but never says what they are.

She rightly recognizes that serious conservative thinkers tend to be impressed by the classics of ancient Greece and Rome and find some inspiration in them. Some of us even study the classical languages -- as Sean Gabb does. And VD Hanson's references to antiquity are both frequent and well-known.

But she deplores the ideas that conservatives take from antiquity and refers to a group of Leftists classicists -- of whom she is one. I presume she refers to what is taught these days in the classics departments of major universities. How the poor souls in those departments manage to reconcile modern Leftist victim culture with the robust values of antiquity must be quite a challenge but Ms Zuckerberg clearly likes what she hears there. So she is saying: "The classics are ours. Hands off!".

The curious thing is that Leftist classicists exist. History for most members of the Green/Left seems to start yesterday. Learning from the past is not their scene. Green/Left writers, for instance, treated the recent hurricanes as if there had never been such things before, when it is perfectly easy to document even more severe storms in the past. And how come anybody believes in any form of socialism these days? From Robespierre, through Stalin, through Hitler, through Mao through PolPot and many others, the lesson of history is that socialism rapidly degenerates in to ghastly tyrannies once they gain full power. Leftists can't afford to know history.

But against all logic there are apparently some Leftists who do study history. And I have seen something of what they say. Howard Zinn's "A People's History of the United States" typifies the approach. In accord with the great Leftist tradition of cherrypicking, they find all the disreputable bits in the history of a time or place and ignore the admirable bits. Leftists never even attempt balance. They don't think they have to. Just to show bad bits gives them a glow and the glow is what they seek.

So Ms Zuckerberg is trying to defend an intellectually disreputable Leftist tradition from those who really want to learn from the classics. And she is right in seeing lots of such people on the political Right. I had read most of the Greek canon by the time I was 18 and greatly enjoyed my Thucydides. And all the other writers I have encountered who quote Thucydides have been conservatives. The twisted little tales told by Ms Zuckerberg and her clique will simply never interest us, if we note them at all.

And it seems that she regrets that. The subtext of her article seems to be that she is not getting enough recognition and support: A very Leftist preoccupation. Maybe she just wants to get laid.


I have been restored!

On 10th, I put up an amused post reporting that had blocked me from commenting when I mentioned that the ferociously Leftist game designer Ernest Adams was probably born that way.  I sent quora a link to the post.  I heard nothing further from them but, Lo and behold, the block has gone and I can comment once more.  I guess they must have learned something.


Boris Johnson wants to make Britain great again

Boris Johnson today sets out a grand vision of Britain’s “glorious” post-Brexit future as a low-tax, low regulation economy paying nothing to the EU for access to the single market.

In a 4,000-word article for the Telegraph, the Foreign Secretary restates the key demand of the Leave campaign - that £350m a week currently sent to Brussels should be redirected to fund the NHS.

He says that Britain should not continue to make payments to the EU after Brexit and that ongoing membership of the European single market and customs union would make a "complete mockery" of the referendum.

Mr Johnson, who has said virtually nothing about Brexit in the wake of the election, makes no reference to any transition period after 2019 and makes repeated reference to how EU bureaucracy is a drag on economic performance.

The blueprint and vision he sets out today differs markedly from the plan set out by Philip Hammond and other Cabinet ministers - who have stressed the need to remain close to the single market and pay money to maintain access.

It comes less than a week before Theresa May delivers a pivotal Brexit speech in Florence, and effectively amounts to an ultimatum to the Prime Minister on what she is expected to say.

It is understood that the Foreign Secretary wished to make a speech about Brexit but has not had the opportunity. Whitehall sources suggested that the Prime Minister and Chancellor were unaware of Mr Johnson's article.

His Brexit blueprint will send shockwaves through the Tory ranks and will inevitably spark speculation that Mr Johnson - who sources say supports the Prime Minister and her agenda - may still harbour leadership ambitions, as the Conservative Party prepares to meet at its annual conference next month.

In his passionately patriotic article he insists that Britain can be “the greatest country on earth” and rounds on so-called Remoaners “who think we are going to bottle it”.

He also accuses Labour of “chickening out” of Brexit.

The most striking inclusion in his article is the repetition of his claim that Britain will be £350 million per week better off after leaving the EU and that the money could be spent on the NHS. The controversial claim appeared on the side of the Leave campaign bus during last year’s referendum campaign and has been bitterly disputed by Remainers ever since.

However, Mr Johnson says: “Once we have settled our accounts, we will take back control of roughly £350m per week.

“It would be a fine thing, as many of us have pointed out, if a lot of that money went on the NHS, provided we use that cash injection to modernise and make the most of new technology.”

Mr Johnson is also dismissive of the suggestion that Britain should pay to access the single market during the transition period or beyond, saying: “We would not expect to pay for access to their markets any more than they would expect to pay for access to ours.”

He deploys soaring rhetoric in the tub-thumping article to insist that Britain “will succeed in our new national enterprise, and will succeed mightily” while slapping down opponents of Brexit who are “woefully underestimating this country” and who think Brexit “isn’t going to happen”.

The Foreign Secretary also settles old scores by attacking those who tried to prevent the Leave vote, such as “the government, the BBC, Barack Obama, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the CBI [Confederation of British Industry], every major political party and much of the media”.

Under Mr Johnson’s blueprint for Brexit, leaving the EU must “logically entail” leaving the single market, the customs union and the European Court of Justice.

He says Britain will “keep environmental and social protections that are fair and wise”, but will ditch EU regulations that he says cost anything between 4 and 7 per cent of GDP.

Treading heavily on Mr Hammond’s toes, Mr Johnson says: “We should seize the opportunity of Brexit to reform our tax system,” pointing out that the Bank of England’s chief economist said in 2015 that the system is “skewed” and discourages investment.

He adds: “Outside the EU there are obvious opportunities… in the setting of indirect taxation. At the stroke of a pen, the Chancellor will be able to cut VAT on tampons; often demanded by parliament but – absurdly – legally impossible to deliver.”

Boris Johnson and Rex Tillerson photo call Boris Johnson and Rex Tillerson photo call
He also suggests that Britain should think about taxing foreign buyers of British property to prevent them forcing house prices up.

Another way of tackling the housing crisis, he says, would be to simplify planning laws and environmental impact assessments.

He singles out the Communities Secretary Sajid Javid and the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt for praise, but makes no mention of the Brexit Secretary David Davis or the Chancellor Philip Hammond.

On immigration, he says that businesses should be able to access the skills they need but “will no longer be able to use immigration as an excuse not to invest in the young people of this country”. He also wants a Britain where “fat cat” bosses are no longer rewarded for failure.

On trade, Britain will be able to “get on and do free trade deals” around the world, particularly with Commonwealth countries, rather than looking to the EU for ways to expand.

His view directly challenges Mr Hammond’s preference for a lengthy transition period leading to a “jobs first” agreement with the EU.

Mr Johnson sees Brexit as a “chance to catch the wave of new technology, and to put Britain in the lead”. As automated vehicles take over the car market, the car industry will transform itself in Britain, while the protectionist EU will try to hold back the revolution.

He also accuses Jeremy Corbyn of “chickening out” of Brexit with his party’s preference for remaining in the single market and customs union, or nearest equivalent.

“He would make a complete mockery of Brexit,” he writes, “and turn an opportunity into a national humiliation.”




An obituary for Chris Brand is now online here.  It is in a journal he often wrote for and is by a former student of his plus his wife and his son


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

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