Monday, 26 October 2009

If I ruled the world.....

In a comment on my previous post Irony rules, OK? concerning Saudi Arabian ‘justice’ I said:

The West's insatiable need (or greed) for oil motivates it to prop up and subsidise these corrupt and barbaric regimes, and thereby to connive at our own destruction. Much of the billions of 'petrodollars' they take from us return into Europe and USA as funding for Saudi-promoted Wahabbi'ist mosques and 'faith schools' which preach and teach disdainful abhorrence of the local culture and open democratic society.

If there ever was a Trojan Horse...

Phil then posted the following:

The alternatives:
We stop buying oil from them.
We invade them and change their regime.
We fund internal revolution.
We buy their oil but limit all other interaction.

I only think the first and last are worth discussing. If the UK stopped buying their oil others would continue and the UK would continue to receive the same petrodollar investment into religious incitement to insurrection. However, the UK wouldn’t need to support the government and could cease to being hypocritical.

We could buy their oil without supporting them in other ways and we could do more to stop religious incitement of hate.

These are obviously very difficult political and ethical issues. What clearly we in the west should not do is what we are doing – openly supporting dictatorial and theocratic governments who suppress their own people and directly or indirectly invest in insurrectionist activity within our countries.

What are your suggestions?

My response:

Cripes – as Mayor BoJo would say – you are turning Anticant’s Arena into an Instant Oracle for solving the world’s problems…..

Well, here goes:

The ethical issues aren’t difficult at all. First and foremost we need to recalibrate our national moral compass, which has gone sadly wonky in recent years because of all the claptrap and bullshit which passes for public debate. Free speech must be restored to its time-honoured place in our affairs: that includes the freedom to offend, and the abolition of ‘hate speech’ crimes designed to stifle the expression of honest differences.

The political issues are more complex, but for a start:

1. Renounce humbugging diplomatic utterances such as the Queen’s having twaddle about “shared values” put into her mouth even on vapidly formal occasions such as State banquets. It is perfectly possible to be polite to visiting foreign guests without being hypocritical.

2. Admit that TES (aka Lawrence of Arabia) was a bit of a charlatan, and that his rosy visions of the House of Saud as lithe young warrior-chieftains roaming the desert in flowing robes on pedigree white stallions is not entirely borne out by the current effete crop of Saudi princes.

3. Limit, as you suggest, our relations with Saudi Arabia to strictly commercial transactions which do NOT include the sale of arms to them, or the corruption and bribery which goes along with that.

4. Persuade the US (a) to abandon the fatuous policy of ‘liberal interventionism’, because we cannot foist our Western version of democracy upon people who don’t want it, any more than we can allow them to subvert it in our own countries; and (b) to withdraw the automatic ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card which is currently in the pocket of the Israelis, as a prelude to working seriously to achieve an even-handed Middle Eastern settlement of the Palestinian problem and wider issues, including Iran.

5. Make it crystal-clear to the Saudis, and to Muslims living in Britain, that anti-Western propaganda, whether on religious grounds or not, and the financing of terrorist operations through bogus charities, will result in long prison terms for those found guilty, followed by deportation even if they are accredited diplomats.

6. Stop pandering to social and quasi-legal practices such as ‘Sharia law’ within our borders which run counter to our domestic traditions and values, and ensure that there is only one law – UK law - for everyone residing in or visiting these shores.

The Oracle has rather run out of steam, but perhaps that’s enough for the time being.


Phil said...

Good for you, Mr. Oracle. However, I hadn’t meant to give you so much work. Also, the request for suggestions was meant in general to all readers and not just the Anticant himself.

Your response, though, is excellent. I agree that simply not trading with the Saudis is not the answer (for the time being). I’m not so sure about your thoughts on TES (or TEL). He was thought rather naïve and idealistic by the British authorities back then and many of the things he hoped for from all sides either didn’t come about due to happenstance or simply were reneged by one side or another. I do agree with most your other points. As I had said previously, intervention by us is not even worth discussing and, as you say, mustn’t be allowed to be foisted on us by any means whatsoever.

I do find one of your points more difficult. It is an issue I have mentally wrangled with for a long while since it seems to me to be a question of degrees. You state your wish that: “anti-Western propaganda… will result in long prison terms.” However you also state in the same article:

“Free speech must be restored to its time-honoured place in our affairs: that includes the freedom to offend, and the abolition of ‘hate speech’ crimes designed to stifle the expression of honest differences.”

How does one reconcile these apparently opposing view points? This is not a request for Oracle-like wisdom – just a question of opinion about a very thorny subject that I imagine you have come accross many times before.

anticant said...

Free speech is not free if it does not include the freedom to offend.

Obviously the question of politeness, common courtesy, and unwillingness to be gratuitously wounding enters in. But being offended is also a choice, and those who make almost a profession of it by parading the streets waving placards saying "down with free speech" and implicitly or explicitly threatening violence unless their beliefs and prejudices are accorded 'respect' are quite out of order.

I am a vehement opponent of 'hate speech' laws. The extent to which free speech has been curbed by parliament during the past decade at the behest of the Politically Correct brigade (largely because they are fearful of drummed up violence if certain things are said openly) is quite dismaying.

As a lifelong campaigner for gay rights, I deplore the invocation of these laws by some gay people to stifle the views of religious bigots. You cannot eradicate people's prejudices or cure their ignorance through repressive laws, any more than you can 'force people to be free' by invading their countries when they prefer to live under other regimes - however deplorable - than those we vainly attempt to impose upon them.

Phil said...

Good, but how do you reconcile this with your wish that: “anti-Western propaganda… will result in long prison terms.”

anticant said...

There's a clear distinction between legitimate criticism and subversion. Obviously, it's ultimately a matter for the courts to decide, but people who advocate the overthrow of the existing social and governmental system and its replacement with another more to their liking should expect to be called to account unless they explicitly seek only peaceful change through majority vote.

The attempt to stifle extremist views such as those of the BNP and, before it, the National Front is something else. In the 1970s and '80s I was always opposed to the 'no platform' cry, as allowing people, however distasteful, public space to air their views is one thing and to refrain from prosecuting them when they advocate violence or other forms of unlawful behaviour is another.

The brouhaha over the BBC and the BNP is absurd: the BNP are a legal political party which have won seats in the European Parliament and gathered over 1 million votes. The BBC would have been quite out of order if it had refused them a hearing. Whether 'Any Questions' was the right formula is another issue. Personally I think the BBC shot themselves in the foot by first extending the invitation, then getting scared by the resulting hostility to it, and finally turning the event into - as Griffin rightly described it - a lynching party. Dimbleby's performance was disgraceful.

Phil said...

Sounds like you have the start of another post. Thanks for your provocative views. Incidentally, I was active with TARF in Wolverhampton in the seventies and remember the awful propaganda of the NF against "immigrants" and the NF’s clear incitement to hate and violence. The laws one could use to stop such behaviour would of necessity be the same as those used to stop religious groups from inciting violence. The risk, though, as I think you see all too well, is that Terrorist propaganda against the west could be stopped by attacking their right to say it and that’s a long slippery slide down the path to anti-free-speech laws.

I think the real crux is not whether or not the propaganda is pro or anti the West. What matters is whether such propaganda can be reasonably deemed to be intended to incite or encourage illegal actions. That has got to be the line beyond which any propaganda, by the BNP, the Catholic Church or Al Qaeda, must not go without incurring criminal prosecution. I hope you agree.

anticant said...

Yes, of course. My views on the free speech issue are quite clear and, I hope, consistent. I have set them out at length in a number of earlier posts here. I suggest you trawl the archive. Unfortunately it's poorly indexed, so you have to keep on going back to earlier pages until you get to the beginning, if you have enough patience to do that.

There are more than enough laws to deal with any incitement to violence or other illegal behaviour without any of the slew of new laws introduced by this wretchedly illiberal government. Its supine policies towards potential troublemakers are driven by two factors: incomprehension of the nature of fanaticism (religious or any other); and craven fear of loud-mouthed bigots.

People have every right to say that Geert Wilders is a horrible person who holds repugnant views. They have no right to get away scot free with waving placards in the street calling for him to be killed, as happened recently.

The rot set in with the (Tory) government's ineffective response to the 'Satanic Verses' book burning capers in Bradford after the infamous Khomeini fatwa against Salman Rushdie. As usual, it was a thoroughly tedious book - not worth defending as literature, but it was essential to defend it by every means possible for the sake of free speech.

Jose said...

Interesting exchange, indeed. I don't think I have anything else to add except that all those measures you propose should be accompanied by a convenient civil education, both in immigrants and in residents.

The question of right education is something that has escaped the brains of our rulers for centuries - I don't know whether purposefully - and it should be dealt with in emergency.

The Laws in a country are enacted to be respected and they should be considered as an expression of a majority's democratic will.

Minorities contravening them massively or individually must by all means be subjected to the consequences emanating from legal disobedience. Something which in my opinion is very difficult, if not impossible, to achieve.

Merkin said...

We are currently funding internal revolution in Iran.

zola a social thing said...

"The ethical issues..."
Easy are they?
Not "difficult at all" are they?

Where the hell is the fun in sexy activity when all is so damned simple?

anticant said...

Are ethics sexy? Freddie N thought so, but Lou Salome, apparently, didn't. (Or maybe that was her mother, waiting down below at the hotel while in her opinion Freddie and Lou stayed too long up the mountain canoodling.)

Whatever, that walk with Lou was a watershed for Freddie, who ever after spoke of "Before Orta" and "After Orta". At last, the poor man was driven to kiss cab horses and was taken into protective care by his Nazi sister who busily bowdlerised his magnum opus - a fate worse than death....

Thus spake Anticant.

mothers know best said...

The standpoint of Lou's mother was that they didn't orta. Quite right too.

disappointed of Turin said...

Despite all his hifalutin pretensions, he wasn't a Superman. When he kissed me, I didn't turn into a handsome princess. I'm still just a knackered cabhorse.

elisabeth forster-nietzsche said...

And thanks to you, I became Hitler's favourite philosopher.

It's a funny old world.

Anonymous said...

I expected a long list of things that were unachievable when I started reading this post, but it is actually all quite possible and sounds jolly sensible on the whole.

However, I think your list is in part characterised by a building of barriers not bridges, or at least a move toward disengagement. Perhaps this is correct, but I would want to see some more toward building connections with moderate Islam - we know that can coexist with Western society, we see it everyday in our city streets. Engagement is possible if it's the right kind of engagement for the right reasons.

anticant said...

'Moderate' Muslims in the West resemble the Sherlock Holmes story about the dog which didn't bark in the night. They are conspicuous by their silence.

Surely it is they - not non-Muslims - who should be taking on the militant Islamists who jeopardise their peaceful existence amongst us. But maybe they think that the militants are in fact interpreting the Koran and the Hadiths correctly?

Since they don't tell us, we don't know. But in all religions - not just Islam - it is the hard-line traditionalists whose beliefs are closer to the holy texts and early preachers, not the wishy-washy 'modernist' liberals.

arry against the gooners said...

Everyday would be the First Day of Spring
Every heart would ahve a new song to sing
If I ruled the world

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