Haircuts, Censorship, Europe,and You

imageThe world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon,
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers,
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not.–Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.

William Wordsworth, The World is Too Much With Us, 1807

I borrowed this from Oobie‘s post today which we will get to in due time, as usual it’s excellent but first a couple of things going on in Europe which we would be wise to take note of.

First, Steven Hayward writing in the Power Line Blog on the Cyprian Haircut.

This semester I taught Xenophon’s neglected treatise The Education of Cyrus, which many observers have compared to Machiavelli’s Prince.  Seems now we could use a modern-day financial Xenophon to update it as The Education of Cyprus, where, according to news out within the hour, there is going to be a four-day “bank holiday” to prevent a total run.  We keep being reassured that this is a one-off event; that surely no other government would take this step against its citizens’ bank deposits.  Besides, the Cypriot Haircut is really just going after Russian oligarchs, who are even less worthy of respect than the guilty 1 percenters of Mitt Romney’s America.  (By the way, I second Roger Kimball’s question: just why, exactly, do we persist in calling Russian gangsters “oligarchs”?  “Oily-garchs,” maybe. . .)

Surely our government would never imitate the Europeans in such a Machiavellian maneuver?  Hmmm.  A few weeks back I wondered why the Left hasn’t (yet) called for a straight-up wealth tax to capture some of the value of the immense fortunes (Buffett, Gates, Googlepeeps, Facebookies, etc) that have accumulated largely tax-free over the last generation.

Actually there have been persistent rumors for a while now that “Progressives” are casting a greedy eye toward 401K assets.  Byron York reported on this last fall:


And then there is this from Roger Pearse.

I note that this is not a political website, Roger does a huge amount to make documentation from antiquity available to us all on the web, and for that very reason I take his warning quite seriously. I haven’t seen this anywhere else but, if I were a British blogger, I would be checking quickly. If it does nothing else, it ought to make Americans thank God that our founders wrote the Constitution, and made it the supreme law of the land.

It’s mildly unbelievable, but apparently it’s true.

The new regulation will cover “websites containing news-related material” apparently.  That means not only ones such as this, but the one run by your local parish council too.  And the one written by just about anyone with a blog.

We now live in a world in which millions of people publish things each day.  Yet the system of regulation being proposed seems a throwback to a time when only a few newspaper editors wrote “news-related material”.  What is your twitter feed, if not a stream of “news-related material”?

I grew up in a central African country run by various dictators who controlled the newspapers.  Perhaps that is why I find the idea of state regulation of the press in Britain so shocking.

A big part of me thinks that this is a disaster in the making.  A small part of me hopes these proposals go through so we can see the utter balls up that follows.

The measure is being called “regulation”.  Unfortunately it seems unlikely to be anything but censorship.

I do not see how it can avoid meaning that a committee of establishment types will censor the media to prevent the expression of any opinions that they object to.  Furthermore the honest reporting of any news that they do not wish reported honestly will be prevented.  This may surprise; but I remember how the mention that criminals were black, or Romanian, or whatever — and very frequently the culprits were immigrants — was banned, on the grounds that it was “inflammatory”.  So we must expect this same approach to become endemic.  Members of favoured groups who commit crimes will not be associated with that group; members of unfavoured groups, such as Catholics, will be used to smear the group in question.  Indeed this happens quite a lot already.  But now the websites that do report the facts will be shut down.

Continue reading Press and web censorship to be introduced in Britain

Of course, it won’t work, the things Oobie is talking about below mean that it can’t. Remember Tiananmen Square? As early as that in the PRC, the revolt was run by fax and e-mail from mobile locations, censorship no longer works, unless you want to have a hermit kingdom like North Korea. But this could hurt Britain considerably, and there could easily be many individual victims. So it’s a very sad commentary on a government out of control.

Then there is Oobie’s article today.

England’s Poet Laureate wrote his famous sonnet lamenting the state of his nation in 1807, in particular its growing materialism and the loss of something more valuable than all the world’s gold, something intangible, its soul.

When Wordsworth wrote his mournful and angry words, the wheel of the Industrial Revolution was just beginning its long slow turns, bringing changes both good and bad. I would venture that Wordsworth reacted strongly to the price of progress precisely because the changes were still so few and so visible and it was possible to make the connection between what was gained and what was lost. Today it is not a wheel, but a grindstone of technological innovation turning faster than the human mind can grasp and crushing our society beneath its relentless weight. But the changes it brings are so many and so varied that we find it impossible to see the bigger picture. We know what we gain, but can barely begin to assimilate all that we are losing in exchange for our daily miracles. And yet, if we cannot chronicle precisely this process, we can feel the cumulative result. We can feel that things are precariously off-center and sense a gaping emptiness under all the power and glitter and technical wizardry.

There are of course, excellent things that our modern technology brings to us, but for every good there is an evil. The development of life-extending devices and medications gives to us much longer life-spans than those living a century ago.

Continue reading The World is Too Much With Us

It soon will again be a time, I judge, for individuals to survive and thrive individually, and Oobie sums up this article as well as her own with the words:

And so today we can truly say that the world is too much with us. We cannot escape it. Is there a defense? I suppose there is one, and that is to turn the technology to our own purposes. Let us try to use whatever technological means available to proselytize our own concepts and to defend against the ideas that harm us and our future generations.

If the world is too much with us, let us try to turn the tables and be too much with the world.



About Neo
Lineman, Electrician, Industrial Control technician, Staking Engineer, Inspector, Quality Assurance Manager, Chief Operations Officer

25 Responses to Haircuts, Censorship, Europe,and You

  1. Can the Brits really be that stupid? Would they really allow themselves to become an isolated nation that can only spew the party line? If that does happen, I know that this present administration would be jealous of such an administrative advantage given to the ruling party and try as best they can to imitate it here in the States.


    • NEO says:

      The Brits? No. Their government? You betcha.

      The unintended consequence (one of them, anyway) will be a further degradation of their competitiveness and education quality. It’s a stupid move but, doesn’t surprise me much.


      • Though we both the love the Brits and the US Patriots I must acknowledge that both of us have elected governments that are presumably acceptable to the majority opinion. In that way only can we all accept that we have failed in one way or another: in our education, our votes, our ideologies and our dependancies. If they and we continue down this path I have no doubt that there will be an awakening to the stupidity of their actions and payback will either be non-violent or at the worst violent — but it will come, nevertheless.


        • NEO says:

          i agree with you. i note that in both countries (as near as I can tell) the governments operate in a bubble that has very tenuous connections with the people, and seem to operate with a great remove.


        • Yes their seems to be a great divide in both our countries between the people and their government elites.


        • NEO says:

          Very much, and as near as I see, they don’t have alternative media that pays anywhere near the attention that ours does.


        • Probably true.


        • NEO says:

          I don’t really know that but, I haven’t found much.


        • Well, we American are not like the other Western Europeans; they know far more about our society and history than we do about theirs. A foolish elitism that has been carried on in our educational system from way back.


        • NEO says:

          Yes, but realize as well that we are more on the scale of an empire than anything else. Plenty goes on here to fill nearly any amount of time each day, and our ties to Europe while reasonable are not all that close.

          The average American just plain doesn’t care. Britain is somewhat of a special case but even there the interest is limited. heck the average American doesn’t pay that much attention to the American news.

          Elitist? Maybe, but also market driven.


        • Elitist in the sense that Americans are very self-centered. Nothing much matters to Americans outside of this country and as you say there is much that happens in our country that is important to them as well.


        • NEO says:

          I wouldn’t call it elitist actually, it’s very deeply rooted in our history. it was already mature when Washington articulated it in his Farewell Address. It’s only since World War II that we’ve continuously been involved with Europe more than say Asia.


        • When you look at the history of our education however, foreign languages were almost entirely neglected as was the history of other countries except when they intersected with our own history. When I speak to Brits, I am ashamed of the lack of knowledge I have about their history compared to their knowledge about ours.


        • NEO says:

          You’re not wrong but remember that we have traditionally educated everybody well enough to to earn a living and many of say the Brits we run across are upper class traditionally, not everyman.


        • That’s true. The Brits I met here in the US were all professionals and highly educated. Never had an encounter with the average man on the streets of London.


        • NEO says:

          And I’ll bet if you were the average Londoner, you’d have the same impression of Yanks. Although maybe not as much.


        • Could well be.


  2. JessicaHof says:

    The politicians are getting their revenge on a press which humiliated them. Certainly there was some scabrous stuff in the press, and certainly what is in the proposed bill is not as bad as what some wanted – but it is a sad day all the same.


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