Our attitude towards wealth played a crucial role in Brexit. We need a rethink | Stephen Hawking

2560Unusually, this is a pretty good piece from The Guardian. Of course, Stephen Hawking is a very brilliant man, and it shows.

Money was a key factor in the outcome of the EU referendum. We will now have to learn to collaborate and to share

Does money matter? Does wealth make us rich any more? These might seem like odd questions for a physicist to try to answer, but Britain’s referendum decision is a reminder that everything is connected and that if we wish to understand the fundamental nature of the universe, we’d be very foolish to ignore the role that wealth does and doesn’t play in our society.

I argued during the referendum campaign that it would be a mistake for Britain to leave the European Union. I’m sad about the result, but if I’ve learned one lesson in my life it is to make the best of the hand you are dealt. Now we must learn to live outside the EU, but in order to manage that successfully we need to understand why British people made the choice that they did. I believe that wealth, the way we understand it and the way we share it, played a crucial role in their decision. As the prime minister, Theresa May, said in her first week in office: “We need to reform the economy to allow more people to share in the country’s prosperity.” […]

So I would be the last person to decry the significance of money. However, although wealth has played an important practical role in my life, I have of course had a different relationship with it to most people. Paying for my care as a severely disabled man, and my work, is crucial; the acquisition of possessions is not. I don’t know what I would do with a racehorse, or indeed a Ferrari, even if I could afford one. So I have come to see money as a facilitator, as a means to an end – whether it is for ideas, or health, or security – but never as an end in itself.

Interestingly this attitude, for a long time seen as the predictable eccentricity of a Cambridge academic, is now more widely shared. People are starting to question the value of pure wealth. Is knowledge or experience more important than money? Can possessions stand in the way of fulfilment? Can we truly own anything, or are we just transient custodians?

These questions are leading to a shift in behaviour which, in turn, is inspiring some groundbreaking new enterprises and ideas. These are termed “cathedral projects”, the modern equivalent of the grand church buildings, constructed as part of humanity’s attempt to bridge heaven and Earth. These ideas are started by one generation with the hope a future generation will take up these challenges.

via Our attitude towards wealth played a crucial role in Brexit. We need a rethink | Stephen Hawking | Opinion | The Guardian

‘Yeah, but’, as they say. There is nothing new whatsoever in such ideas. They are simply what Christianity has been about  (in this world, anyway) for about 2000 years. We have always been about individual freedom, yes, but that always had a commitment to family and community in it as well. Part of being free is to be able to be with those you love, and live without untoward fear of others.

What I see here is simply more of the same, people who have thrown away our common heritage, and finding it had reason for being as it was, now find themselves having to reinvent the wheel.

Rather like Chesterton said about the gate, from Tom Simon.

In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, ‘I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.’ To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: ‘If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.’

This paradox rests on the most elementary common sense. The gate or fence did not grow there. It was not set up by somnambulists who built it in their sleep. It is highly improbable that it was put there by escaped lunatics who were for some reason loose in the street. Some person had some reason for thinking it would be a good thing for somebody. And until we know what the reason was, we really cannot judge whether the reason was reasonable. It is extremely probable that we have overlooked some whole aspect of the question, if something set up by human beings like ourselves seems to be entirely meaningless and mysterious.

via G. K. C. on the paradox of reform

Gays, the Left, Terrorism, and a bit on Oil

w1056We’ve been talking most of the week about gays and conservatives, in a political context. You can find those articles here, here, and here. And yes, I am always very grateful when Jessica chimes in on these matters, I’m an old fuddy-duddy sometimes and a younger (and female, not to mention British) perspective helps quite a lot.

As Jessica said the other day, we are not discussing this as a religious matter. The US, particularly, long ago decided that while most of our citizens are Christians, and a plurality quite strong ones, our government is, and was meant to be, secular, although Christian belief and principles lie at its heart.

Not the least of these is the right to worship (or not worship) as you please. That’s one reason it’s quite difficult for me, and hopefully for many of you to consider Islam as our enemy. They have just as much right to worship Allah, as we have our triune God, or for that matter, as many of our citizens do, to worship ‘the God’s of the Marketplace’.

Radical Islamists are another story, however. They have indisputably (unless you’re a leftist, I guess) made it clear that they are an enemy of our culture. If we are wise, we will recognize both that they are, and act on it. Yes, the world is a complicated place, and not prone to useful over-simplification very often.

The ad that leads this article makes a valid point. I found it both funny and profound, and I found the leftist hysteria that resulted from it even funnier. I haven’t heard even the most radical Christian say that we should be killing gays, have you? Didn’t think so. And that is the difference between Christian and radical Islamist – they do so advocate, and they do so act.

That leaves the question hanging as to why the left insists on propping up the Saudi (and other) fundamentalist Islamic regimes. Canada and the United States have it within our power to impoverish all of these states, to the point they would go back to being the irrelevant hellholes they were when the United States was founded. And make a profit doing it, just like we did with the Soviets.

In fact, the very people that first protested that ad were exactly the same people who killed the Keystone Pipeline. Leaves me wondering if they are simply against progress or against western civilization. Wonder if Jane Kleeb would like to answer that question, since it has cost our joint state of Nebraska several million dollars, just in the construction phase.

So, I can only conclude that those people consider it perfectly fine to kill gays, and support radical Islamists. After all, where I grew up, actions speak louder than words. Of course, as Jessica said the other day, leftists think of various groups as ‘brands’ (check out those WikiLeaks emails for more on this) and like some other mass marketers will say one thing to one group and quite the opposite to another. That’s why for those of us who pay attention, they long ago lost any credibility they ever had. Not the first brand to kill itself off that way, and I doubt it will be the last either.

Of course, none of this is new for the left, in either Britain or America (likely in all of Europe, but I don’t know as much about that). Radical Islam is hardly the first mass-murderer that the left has made an icon of, witness Castro’s executioner, Che Guevara, who the left has made an icon out of, as well as others. Here, find out a bit more about him, and see if you think he is an appropriate hero for anybody who values life, let alone freedom. Hat tip to The Daly Gator.

You’ll excuse me while I wash my mind of the thought of who some of my countrymen think are heroes.

Critics of “Gays for Trump” Party Miss the Point |

An interesting follow-on from the GOP convention, and many bad things happening in the world.

Gay rights activists have not traditionally found a political home on the right. Yet gay activist and alternative-right icon Milo Yiannopoulus wants to change that, arguing that while the Republican party may not love homosexuality, Islam wants gays dead, and therefore gay people should support Trump (who Milo calls “Daddy”).

This was the theme of “WAKE UP,” billed as “the most fab party at the RNC,” which brought Milo together with controversial activist Pamela Geller who has gained notoriety for her “Draw Mohammed”cartoon competition as well as billboards in New York which read: “In the war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.”

The event was panned by media outlets such as Salon in a piece which shrugged off the event as a “virulently anti-Islam party at the RNC” and The Nation, which slammed it as “Islamophobes, White Supremacists, and Gays for Trump—the Alt-Right Arrives at the RNC.”

Teen Vogue said the event “perpetuates Islamophobia.” The Nation’s piece revealed the alarmingly open presence of white nationalists at the event and the seemingly small numbers of gay people who showed up.

Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who spoke at the event, referred to Europe as “Eurabia” and said, “Islam is the problem.”

If they would have looked to France, they would have seen that gay support for the far right has already happened there. In 2015 a national scandal occurred when it emerged that the winner of France’s largest gay magazine’s beauty contest was an outspoken supporter of France’s right wing Front Nationale.

As early as 2012, 26% of the gay community in Paris supported the Front Nationale, as opposed to 16% of straight people.

The rationale is startlingly simple. Milo’s cult status as an online provocateur has been generated by making controversial statements and pushing the accepted boundaries of discussion. He has been able to tap into the large and growing alt-right movement — a disparate collection of mostly young white males who support socially liberal policies but who hold the left in contempt for their perceived abandonment of liberal values when it comes to human rights abuses committed in the name of Islam.

Because of this, Milo and others make the argument that only the right will stand up to defend gay people against Islamist extremism.

The movement also partially consists of white nationalists and racists, who are able to maintain their foothold because they have consistently spoken out against radical Islam (and indeed Islam in general.)

Put simply, people would rather be racist than dead.

That’s very true, of course, even very socially conservatives don’t want to kill gays. They may want to ‘cure’ them or ‘convert’ them or something of that nature, but they universally realize that conversion at the muzzle of a gun is likely to be insincere, and invalid.

Personally, I would be more pleased if the gay activists would realize that many of us, on the right, simply don’t care, in civil manners about any groups, our quest is for individual rights for each and every one. What Martin Luther King referred to as the content of the character, rather than the color of the skin (and we could easily add sexual preference to that). That underpins all of our belief structure, including the free market.

However the ideology in question is not Islam, as Geert Wilders would argue, but is Islamism, the theocratic political project which seeks to impose the religion of Islam over everyone in the world and implementsharia governance, complete with hudud punishments. This ideology does threaten the freedoms of all Americans.

Tarring all Muslims with the same brush is not only morally wrong, but also facilitates the very thinking propagated by the Islamic State and other Islamist groups –- by dividing the world into two camps, Muslims and non-Muslims.

However, the refusal of the elites around the world — with a few notable exceptions such as the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom David Cameron — to correctly name and challenge the issue has created a vacuum.

People know there is a problem and know that it needs to be tackled.

When the Muslim Brotherhood-linked groups such as the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) object to billboards calling on Muslims to talk to the FBI if they become suspicious of terrorism, when President Obama and Hillary Clinton point blank refuse to name the ideology at fault, people will start to draw their own conclusions about who is to blame and take action accordingly.

via Critics of “Gays for Trump” Party Miss the Point |

And so our elites themselves have prepared the battleground for the battle between the west, and not our real enemy radical Islam, but Islam itself, and quite possibly our own elites, as well. But we should forestall that, for defeating the wrong army is not victory. We need discernment in our leaders as much as we need courage enough to see and identify the enemy. And yes, there is one, and no it is not Islam. It is radical Islam, and when we fight this battle, we will do enough inadvertent damage to Islam, without confusing Islam itself with it in our minds.

This is the mistake that our political leadership (all across the west) makes. The west will be defended in the end, but there should be enough leadership to show that proper targeting will save many, many lives, on both sides.

I see little reason to fear radical Islam once proper defense measures are put in place, ones that do not overly infringe on our desiderata: individual freedom. But we have leadership that appears to be using radical Islam as a means to control their own populations, rather than defend our civilization. That is unlikely to end well for them, for us, or for Islam.

Five Years and Counting

patriotism_-_rooseveltFirst, thanks, Jess. Always seems like much too little, to do or say, when your best friend does something like her post yesterday, but really what else can one do?

She touches on something, though. Back in 2011, when I started this, we had problems, and we were fairly fed up with the administration, but we had faith in Congress, once we flipped it, to fix it. Well, how’d that work out? And that is part of the problem, we all feel pretty much cheated out of our voice by Washington. Thus both Trump, and Sanders. We’re not alone, either. As Jess alluded to, Brexit turned on the hinge of the people controlling the government.

Most young people have never known any thing else, and I suspect that’s why they either voted remain or simply didn’t vote. But their parents remembered, like we do, something different, when government was at least kind of, sort of, responsive to the voters, not to mention that the obvious contempt, for those of the shire, rankled. I sort of predicted that leave would win, and that was why: I could feel the resentment. Yes, part of it was a repudiation of experts. There like here, they’ve been almost wholly wrong, so why would anyone, who doesn’t make money from them, continue that path?

I note that Mrs. May so far appears very surefooted, her cabinet choices appear to have satisfied almost everyone but the left, who were never going to be satisfied, by anyone, who made it on her own, and a Vicar’s daughter, forsooth. But I must say, the more I see of her, the more impressed I become. Her record says she’s at best a statist, but then again, Churchill was a liberal.

I think the British may have started something that we’ll have something to say about. If you’ve been here more than about two minutes, you know I’m not a Trump supporter. But I do understand why so many are, and unless something very strange happens, I’ll likely end up voting for him. Why? Because he might be held to account by the press, which will never pay any attention to anything Hillary does wrong, which is most things. And who knows, he might be a decent president, I’d be surprised, but at least it would be a pleasant surprise. With Hillary, we know all about it, and it’s all bad.

And so the story continues, many of them, including the ones we’ve talked about here, where Mitt dropped the ball in 2012, we had recovered the House by then, and the Senate in 2014, but found that the Republican we thought were on our side, well they weren’t, were they? The Brits found the same thing outside London, they call it the bubble, and it seems as if the ‘posh tory boys’ ruled in their own interest, not the people’s. But they screwed up, and gave the people a vote, and the people spoke, rather decisively. I think our people are tired of lecturing as well, and so I think the Donald will win, maybe, perhaps, but he will surely lose if he suddenly turns into an establishment republican.

We shall surely see, and keep this in mind: Things are rarely as dire as we think, nor are they ever as good as we hope. Life is sort of a middle-of-the-road experience, so keep your chin up and as always, keep up the skeer.

And remember, as Bruce Anderson reminded us in the Spectator this week, “Why it takes more thinking to be a Tory than a socialist.

John Stuart Mill did not describe the Conservatives as the stupid party. He merely said that although not all Tories were stupid, most stupid people voted for them (cf. Brexit). But at any level above automatic loyalty at the polling box — not to be deprecated — Conservatism is no creed for the intellectually limited. It requires hard thinking. The socialists have an easier life. First, they have a secular teleology: socialism. Second, assuming that history is on their side, many lefties feel entitled to lapse into a complacent assumption of moral superiority. That helps to explain why there has been no serious left-wing thinking in the UK since Tony Crosland in the 1950s.

Though Tories may envy the complacency, they are condemned to stress. Without a political teleology, they have no way to simplify history. Their challenge is as complex as the human condition. There are a few useful maxims. Falkland: ‘When it is not necessary to change, it is necessary not to change.’ Berlin: ‘The great goods cannot always live together.’ Oakeshott: ‘Civilisation is only a collective dream.’ Wisdom, certainly, but what should Tories actually do? How should they decide when it is necessary to change, or which great good should take priority? As for civilisation, dreams and nightmares, the task of preventing our era from turning into the Dark Ages plus weapons of mass destruction is best entrusted to Tory tough-mindedness, and there is no guarantee of success.

True then, now, and always. True in the UK, and true here in the US. It takes far more effort to keep the fire going than to roast wienies on your neighbors’.

So, thanks again, Jess, my dearest friend, and my partner here, I’ll never be able to tell anyone, how important it is to me that you share this place with me, and now, after we have published 3005 articles of one kind or another, we still go on. I had to mention that, because even with a year’s head start, Jess’ own blog has almost caught up, and yes, it passed us in readership years ago, as it deserved to.

And so, as we’ve been saying here for five years, good luck, and keep the faith, we’re going to need it. Chesterton reminds us that

I tell you naught for your comfort,
Yea, naught for your desire,
Save that the sky grows darker yet
And the sea rises higher.

Night shall be thrice night over you,
And heaven an iron cope.
Do you have joy without a cause,
Yea, faith without a hope?

But Mother Julian answers for us:

If there is anywhere on earth a lover of God who is always kept safe, I know nothing of it, for it was not shown to me. But this was shown: that in falling and rising again we are always kept in that same precious love.

And in God’s good time:

All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.

 

St Mary’s Appoints New Pro Vice-Chancellor, and a Friend of Ours

johncharmleyOne of the nice things about having a blog, and some very good friends it can make you, is that you get to recognize those friends when something really good happens to or for them such it is here. Professor John Charmley, as regular readers will know, is a very old (no not that way, he’s younger than I am) friend of this blog, and a very close friend of both Jessica and I. I’ve personally found John to be simply a “Man for All Seasons”.

Since this is effectively a press release, I’m simply going to republish the whole thing.

St Mary’s University, Twickenham is pleased to announce that Prof John Charmley is to join the institution as Pro Vice-Chancellor for Academic Strategy in September 2016.

Prof Charmley is currently Head of the Interdisciplinary Institute for the Humanities, Associate Dean for Enterprise and Academic Director for Employability at the University of East Anglia in Norwich.

His role at St Mary’s is a senior leadership position and will be particularly focussed on developing, communicating and delivering the University’s strategy for teaching, learning and the wider student experience.

Educated at Pembroke College, Oxford, he obtained a first class degree in History in 1977 and was awarded his DPhil in 1983. He is the author of eight books on modern British politics, including the acclaimed Churchill: The End of Glorypublished in 1993.

Prof Charmley said, “I am looking forward to joining St Mary’s in September, meeting new colleagues and helping Britain’s premier Catholic University to build on its proud reputation for teaching excellence and student experience”

Vice-Chancellor Francis Campbell said, “I am delighted that Prof Charmley will be joining our senior team. He brings a wealth of experience from his roles at University of East Anglia and I am confident that he will make a significant contribution to our academic community.”

For those that don’t know (mostly American, I suspect) this is a very senior post at a very good Catholic University in the UK

Britain must reconnect with its Christian roots to heal post-referendum divisions

Out brexitFrancis Phillips wrote today in The Catholic Herald a most interesting article, and yes, I know her slightly, and like her, from Jess’ site (and a few others). She’s an eminently sensible person and a very nice one. She may be, alone of my British friends, the lone supporter of Brexit, which isn’t as surprising as it sounds, my friends tend to be of the establishment, and quite highly educated, which are the two of the areas that Remain drew its strength. Luckily for me, they tend to be more tolerant of dissent than the actual left there, or here, as well as very good friends, indeed. I agree with Francis that Britain (and America, for that matter) need to get back to our Christian roots, but that isn’t what I found so interesting. here’s some of her article.

St John Paul II once pleaded with the EU to recognise its Christian traditions, but unfortunately his appeal fell on deaf ears

I was going to start this blog with a cliché like, “Now that the dust has settled on the referendum vote to leave the EU”, but then it struck me that the dust hasn’t settled at all. As anyone who read my blog for last Thursday will know, I voted for Brexit. This brought divisions within the family: one son actively campaigned to leave; one daughter voted to remain (while her husband, from Northern Ireland, voted to leave); another son-in-law, who is from an EU country, now feels he is unwelcome in the UK. My youngest daughter’s carer, who is in her 40s, has voted for the first time in her life: for Brexit. And so on.

Living in a village in Buckinghamshire I did a small bit of leafleting for Brexit on a former council estate across the road. Four out of five people made it clear to me that they were fed up with Brussels; “We want to have our country back” was their view – not so different from the highly educated Michael Gove and Boris Johnson. I only met one dissenting voice, an annoying lady who, whenever I tried to put a statement of fact to her, such as “When we joined the Common Market in 1973 we saw it simply a trade agreement”, or “The euro has been very bad for Greece”, glibly replied, “That’s your opinion”. You can’t argue with people like that.

It is a slur from the disappointed Remain camp to infer that those who voted for Brexit are “racist”. One of the keenest people who worked for my son’s campaign in a London borough was an 18-year-old Pakistani youth, the son of immigrants, who believes passionately in our country’s sovereignty. Three French people, two Italians and a Pole also helped him spread the Brexit message. Yet the members of my Book Club – middle-class, older women graduates and Guardian readers – all voted to remain, apart from me. So it is a complicated picture and it will take time, generosity and tolerance for the deep divisions in the country that the Referendum has opened up to be healed.

As Charles Moore wrote in the Telegraph on Saturday, “Democratic self-government – parliamentary democracy – is what the modern British nation is founded on… It was slipping away from us. Now we have reclaimed it.”

via Britain must reconnect with its Christian roots to heal post-referendum divisions – CatholicHerald.co.uk

I think that may be a key thing with the vote. It seemed to me that many people let their education, or their economic interests override the very fact that control of their government was slipping away. In fact, one of my friends, who is both Headmistress of a girl’s school and trustafarian, told me that she was voting based on the advice of her financial advisor. One can’t really argue with that reasoning, if they don’t have the basis that we’re arguing from. And that is why, I think, that so many American

And that is why, I think, that so many American conservatives were so overjoyed at the results. We saw what maybe the British were too close to see, that Britain was quickly becoming a province of (nondemocratic) Europe, rather than the force of nature and freedom that produced the modern world, and America as well.

There is a lot of commentary that many voters were ill-informed, and it may be so, but what I saw here was Britain, and yes, especially England, reclaiming its heritage, and its government. That goes far deeper than the issues, it goes to the heart of what many Americans and Britons proclaimed on Friday, Independence Day, the British 4th of July. And in dealing with the Brexiteers, reading and commenting, I loudly claim that I saw very little racism, xenophobia, or little Englandism, I saw people who wanted what conservatives always want, to save the good and change the bad going always forward. As the Speccie said, “Out, and into the world.”

Yesterday, we quoted Christopher Monckton of Brenchley who said,

The people have spoken. And the democratic spirit that inspired just over half the people of Britain to vote for national independence has its roots in the passionate devotion of the Founding Fathers of the United States to democracy. Our former colony showed us the way. Today, then, an even more heartfelt than usual “God bless America!”

We pray God that it will be so. We also agree with that famous quote of William Pitt the Younger from about 200 years ago.

“England has saved herself by her exertions, and will, as I trust, save Europe by her example.”

Still again.

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