Monday, May 04, 2009

To All My Friends In The Liberal Party: If You've Got A Blacklist, I Want To Be On It.

A hearty congratulations to my Liberal friends for having just concluded their national convention in Vancouver. Delegates seem to have busied themselves with mostly sensible enthusiasms, but for one bimbo eruption that cannot pass without notice here.

Party conventioneers approved an otherwise reasonable motion that would make the Canadian Human Rights Commission accountable to the House of Commons, but would grant the CHRC the power to clamp down on discrimination based on socio-economic class. Should I burn all my Billy Bragg albums now, or can I at least wait until Mike moves into Sussex Drive?

It could have been worse. Fortunately, there's not much evidence that Canada's Liberals are succumbing to the moral leprosy espoused by the bossman at Liberal International, the Ulsterman and smarm-exuder Lord Alderdice, who was on hand at the Vancouver convention to give a speech. A slippery character, he.

Alderdice is fond of jaw-jaw-not-war-war pieites, the too-liberal application of which is always the sort of fate that the Sikhs of Orakzai are now being made to suffer at the hands of the Taliban. And since the mere act of admitting that I have Liberal Party friends will ensure that I remain on the blacklist of certain Conservative Party enthusiasts, I will now affirm my usual place on the New Democratic Party's pacifist blacklist by noticing something else.

I'm happy to see that Max Dunbar has now joined Anne Applebaum, William Grimes, Adam Kirsch and others in helpfully rubbishing Nicholson Baker's Human Smoke for being an ahistorical apologia for pacifism. Baker's efforts at redeeming pacifism's ill-deserved reputation in the context of the Second World War appear to follow exactly the same lines as Mark Kurlansky's Nonviolence: Twenty-Five Lessons from the History of a Dangerous Idea, which I was happy to rubbish a while back.

George Orwell was there, of course, long before us, when he noticed that pacifism is "a bourgeois illusion bred of money and security." Will I still be able to refer approvingly to Orwell's many expressions of contempt for the bourgeoisie if the Liberal Party proceeds with granting the CHRC its greater powers?

Well, probably, if truth be told. There is a tendency, especially among Canadian free-speech bloggers - from whom I confess I have learned a thing or two - to make rather overmuch of government threats to free speech in this country, while ignoring the growing threats to free speech elsewhere. Not a few of those free-speech bloggers might wince when I say I agree wholeheartedly with Andrew Potter's take on "tax freedom day" as well.

So say it I will, and use it too as a handy opportunity to observe that yesterday was World Press Freedom Day. Here's a list of the ten most dangerous countries to live if you're a blogger, with some profiles of persecuted bloggers in those countries. Not surprisingly, the regime in Tehran is an especially vicious enemy of mainline journalists and bloggers.

I've been giving out about the persecution of trade unionists in Iran lately, and last Friday I used the opportunity of May Day to point out the inexcusably milquetoast responses to these tyrannies that have come from the trade-union aristocracy and the Left establishment in this country. As a consequence, I would be remiss if I did not also notice the brutal violence visited upon May Day protesters in the workers' paradise of Venezuela: Venezuelan police using rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannons broke up a march by unions and political parties opposed to President Hugo Chavez on Friday in the latest clash between the government and critics.

Don't for a moment think I notice these kinds of things just to make enemies. Besides, I've found that for every enemy I make when I do, I usually make three friends. This is reality. Give us some room:


Blogger Blazingcatfur said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2:55 PM  
Blogger Blazingcatfur said...

Nah I didn't wince at the Potter stuff. For all the necessary services listed he leaves out a great many more superfluous line items that really ought to be cut.

2:56 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

Aye, line items. Good government does not require big government. A different point, though.

3:49 PM  
Blogger RadicalOmnivore said...

I cam to town to double up the Liberal do with a visit to my daughter. I registered, took a long look at the crowd,listened to a truck load of platitudes and shamelessly ran away to Victoria. I live with the reality of living in the resource colonies and all the assembled suits and bleach blonds seemed like a sea of disinterested aliens.

I'd rather see the CHRC be able to do something about this crap - which encourages violence to be visited upon an identifiable minority that has been under serious duress for decades.

After seeing Canada's newest Government set up and take its first steps, I have to confess to a growing fear of big government.

Never been a Billy Bragg fan either.
He's too much in love with the meme and doesn't respect the swilers.

8:35 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

Bragg's against the Swilers?

The "Have You Bludgeoned A Seal Huner Today? t-shirt was a useful bit of information you've just imparted. Given the humourless slags I had to put up with last week I have half a mind to post a photo of an "I club hippies" bumpersticker I just had sent my way, in response.

Was unaware Bragg was against our swilers. Am sorry to hear it.

8:43 PM  
Blogger Jay Currie said...

Well, Iggy had to toss something to the base. Extending the scope of the CHRC's writ is cheap and let's the people who know best run another bit of the society.

My first line item move would be to axe the funding for the CHRC. Even cheaper and it would preserve the awkward idea of freedom.

8:50 PM  
Blogger Sir Francis said...

Bad things happen in Iran and Venezuela. Stop the presses.

I admire the intellectual discipline at work in your fastidious refusal to acknowledge the bad things happening in America's client states. It makes the ideological paperwork so much easier for your devoted audience of faux-engagés, no?

Heavens! If I relied on your blog for the news, I would not have discovered that Hamid Karzai has just invited a vicious Islamist butcher and narcotics trafficker to be one of his running mates.

Ah, but ignorance is bliss...

10:13 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

Oh, look. A lunatic Tory calling me ignorant.

10:15 PM  
Blogger Sir Francis said...

A lunatic Tory calling me ignorant.

Ouch. Mind where you point that rapier wit. You’re dangerous.

The neocon Right has clearly lost its monopoly of bathetically uninspired ad hominem. All it took was a plunge into a civic inauthenticity even more mephitic than its own.

And still no ex cathedra pronouncement upon Karzai's buddying up to a war criminal. That's a shame.

Oh, and allow me to point out the obvious fact that the last sentence of my first comment suggested merely that you leave your readers ignorant, though your laughable misinterpretation has fascinating Freudian implications.

Class dismissed.

12:06 AM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

Oh, look. A lunatic Tory calling me bathetically inauthentic and mephitic.

12:19 AM  
Blogger Sir Francis said...

By the way, I take it you're the same Terry Glavin who wrote this, about Tory "lunacy"?

Your opinions seem to be remarkably labile (I will not say "inchoate").

I expect they shall suffer yet another tergiversation whenever the Steyn/Hitchens/Coulter axis announces new assay values for the sterling standard in pious “contrarian” narcissism.

12:35 AM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

Oh, look. The Tory lunatic again. This time I am labile but not inchoate, though prone to tergiversation.

Maybe Conrad Black has been granted access to the interwebs?

1:26 AM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

Sorry, everyone.

That was unfair to Conrad Black.

1:28 AM  
Blogger The Plump said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2:49 PM  
Blogger The Plump said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2:52 PM  
Blogger The Plump said...

The book Human Smoke sounds disgusting. However, I am worried by this in Max Dunbar's review:

"Ghandi (sic) is worth coming back to. He was a committed racist"

Dunbar might have spelt Gandhi's name correctly if he wanted this to be taken seriously, but this is a huge misrepresentation and his link is to an appalling piece of historical distortion and revisionist rubbish.

Gandhi's position in the Second World War was catastrophic. However, whilst pro-appeasement pacifism was based on wishful thinking or even Nazi sympathy, this was not Gandhi's position. He rejected non-resistance to evil. He believed it should be resisted but that the means should be exclusively non-violent.

Here is Martin Luther King writing on Gandhi in 1958:

"It must be emphasized that nonviolent resistant is not a method for cowards; it does resist. If one uses this method because he is afraid or merely because he lacks the instruments of violence, he is not truly nonviolent. This is why Gandhi often said that if cowardice is the only alternative to violence, it is better to fight".

The pro-appeasement pacifism of the Peace Pledge Union was just such an exercise in cowardice, rooted in fear of war rather than the confrontation of evil.

However, Gandhi's World War II pacifism was based on its own wishful thinking, about the power of non-violence in any long-term struggle. In that he was clearly wrong, just as he was marginalised at the time, sometimes there is such a thing as a just war and that overwhelmingly violent psychotic movements have to be opposed by force, as in Afghanistan.

(PS This is the same as the deleted comments. For some reason HTML tags seem to eliminate a paragraph break - used quotes rather than italics.)

2:57 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

Max Dunbar's review was excellent, but his associated characterization of Gandhi was based on an essay that was revealing but not especially useful as evidence that Gandhi was a "committed racist." There are criticisms of Gandhi that one could make that are well grounded in evidence; "committed racist" isn't one of them.

3:21 PM  
Blogger RadicalOmnivore said...

"That was unfair to Conrad Black."


6:07 PM  
Blogger Kurt Langmann said...

Gandhi wasn't above criticism and neither is India. But his protege, "Panditji" Jawaharlal Nehru, was the greatest man and PM of the 20th century, the founder of the world's largest functioning social democracy with respect for all genders and minorities, and he wasn't afraid of standing up alongside thousands of brave and fallen Indian soldiers to the tyrants when need be: against the Muslim Brotherhood and Partition, and against Mao's invaders. The Man of the Century, if not the millennium, and a hero for all time in my view.

8:43 PM  
Blogger The Plump said...

"based on an essay that was revealing"

That does depend on what it was trying to reveal :-) I thought it was terrible.

Yes there is a strong critique of Gandhi to be made, but we are not short of really good scholarly studies that make those criticisms.

Gandhi was coming from two traditions. Both are poorly understood. The Eastern religious one and the 19th Century radical movement, especially Henry Salt's Humane Socialism and Ruskin's economics. I have a lot of problems with both, but, by standing outside the mainstream, they are open to misinterpretation by those unfamiliar with the tradition.

5:37 AM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

You are right about this, Peter.

I was being slack-assed.



1:19 PM  
Blogger RadicalOmnivore said...

Any recommendations as to a Nehru bio worth reading?

8:59 PM  
Blogger Kurt Langmann said...

Best one was written by Nehru himself. See: Nehru, Jawaharlal. Glimpses of World History: Being Further Letters to His Daughter Written in Prison and Containing a Rambling Account of History for Young People. Penguin Books India. ISBN 0-670-05818-1

9:17 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Speaking of the liberal convention, and on a somewhat related note a colleague of your, charlie demers, took a rather humourous swipe at iggy which is well worth viewing

12:48 AM  

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