Friday, March 24, 2006

The Last Conservative Value

Commentary by Martin Kelly
May 17, 2005

“What is best in life? To crush your enemies, see them driven before you and to hear the lamentation of the women!” - Arnold Schwarzenegger, ‘Conan the Barbarian’

Thirteen months before he committed suicide at the age of just 30 in his hometown of Cross Plains, Texas, in 1936, Conan’s creator Robert E. Howard wrote a letter begging for payment of the eight hundred dollars he was owed by his most frequent publishers, ‘Weird Tales’.

In a Townhall column of October 10, 2003, entitled ‘Schwarzenegger can use popularity to effect change’, ‘National Review’ editor-at-large and youthful neoconservative ideologue Jonah Goldberg remarked,

“Schwarzenegger wasn't my candidate, and I was skeptical of the recall from the outset. But you've got to give him credit for one thing: Considering the array of forces against him, particularly in liberal feminist circles, he actually managed to make his greatest movie line a reality. In "Conan the Barbarian," he was asked, "What is best in life?" and he responded, "To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of the women!"

Perhaps Goldberg was being facetious. However, as an outsider looking in at a philosophy I can only examine from a distance, the original quote seems to perfectly encapsulate what can only be described as perhaps the last conservative value; one that straddles both neoconservatism and paleoconservatism, a true lowest common denominator amongst the qualities required to be an intellectual leader in the conservative movement.

That quality is pitilessness.

Neoconservatism is a philosophy based on global projection of national power. Their critics call them imperialists, but more accurately the neoconservative paradigm of ‘global benevolent hegemony’ means nothing less than world domination, as bizarre and paranoid as that one sounds when one sees it.

But there is no other logical conclusion to draw from the massive overseas military commitments the USA has undertaken since 9/11, and the willingness of George W. Bush to treat with anyone who declares they are on his side, up to and including the disgusting Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan, who's a key ally in the ‘War on Terror’, when he’s not mowing down his own people in the street or boiling them alive.

The K Street Napoleons of the neocon magazines and think tanks are only concerned for the ‘national interest’, as if the USA as a legal entity has some kind of higher moral standing than that of its citizens, quite forgetting that its citizens are the United States of America. Without them, there is nothing.

Their utter pitilessness can often be seen lining the pages of their publications, with no word of sympathy for the lamentations of the women of Iraq.

The reason for this pitilessness towards the widows of a country they have helped destroy is that the neocons may feel that the Iraqis should be grateful to them. After all, they are free now.

The notional freedom that Iraq enjoys was bought with a lie, that its ruler possessed Weapons of Mass Destruction that posed a threat to the security of the United States and other nations. That was not the case. It was only at the stage in the game when it became clear the White House and the Vice-President’s office would have to either hold or fold on the nukes that the liberty of the Iraqis assumed its paramount importance.

Of course the Iraqis are not free, not in any meaningful sense. Nobody can live freely in a country full of foreign armies and swarming with foreign terrorists. That Iraq is developing its own security apparatus is to be welcomed. However, the fact that it will take years for those forces to gain the training and experience they will need in order to combat the insurgency makes the likelihood of America’s stay in Iraq look bleaker than ever.

But it was at Abu Ghraib that the pitiless of neoconservatism found its poster children. The dumb grins of Charles Graner and Lynndie England as they abused their prisoners made them the embodiment of what was wrong with the war, wrong with the peace and wrong with the whole idea.

However, just as the crimes of the Abu Ghraib MP’s pale in comparison with Saddam’s, so too do Saddam’s pale in comparison with Hitler’s. Saddam invaded Kuwait; he used chemical weapons in the Iran-Iraq war; he tortured, murdered and mutilated thousands, making millions into refugees and outcasts. He drained the natural habitat of the Marsh Arabs. He even deployed gas at Halabja.

But at no point did Ba’athist Iraq steep itself in blood so deep as the Third Reich. It is in relation to the Third Reich, and its ‘Final Solution’ to the ‘problem’ of Jewry, that paleoconservative pitilessness comes to prominence.

If neoconservatives make a fetish of dreams of projecting power abroad, paleoconservatives make a fetish of their isolationism. They seem blind to the fact that when one lives in a nation, a legal entity, there are times when one cannot be help be sucked into the affairs of other nations. And it is perhaps this blindness that has produced one of the most morally troubling commentaries of recent times.

On May 12, Patrick J. Buchanan, a man I otherwise greatly admire, published a column entitled ‘Was World War II Worth It?’ on ‘Chronicles Extra’. It took the position that the ceding of Eastern Europe to Stalin at Yalta was as great an act of betrayal as Munich. From the classic paleoconservative perspective, Neville Chamberlain’s greatest mistake in his involvement at Munich was to have got himself involved at all.

There is no doubt that in some cases Buchanan’s perspective is correct. As he put it, ‘Leninism was the Black Death of the 20th Century’. Of course more people were killed under Stalin than under Hitler. These are facts beyond dispute.

But when one deals in facts one must deal with all the facts. It is easy to criticize Roosevelt with the benefit of 60 years of hindsight; however, nowhere in the column does Buchanan mention that it was Germany that declared war on the United States, entirely without provocation, days after the carnage of Pearl Harbor.

More shocking still is his failure to distinguish between the crimes of Hitler and Stalin. Undoubtedly, Stalin killed more; but it was Hitler who made the genocide of ethnic and religious minorities, because of what and not who they were, one of the principal industries of his state. Even as the war was being lost on both fronts, Jews, gypsies, homosexuals and the febrile were being rounded up and deported to those bleak barbed-wire hells.

In summarizing the geopolitical reasons for fighting the war, Buchanan posed the question –

“Was that worth fighting a world war – with 50 million dead?”

Faced with a man who made it his aim to wipe out entire populations, the answer is yes; yes; and yes again. For such a distinguished thinker as Buchanan to gainsay a president who had to lead the USA into a war which it had most certainly not sought and which it could not avoid, and then fail to mention anything of the unique nature of the greater crime which that war brought to a halt, reeks of pitilessness.

It seems that the pity of conservatism’s intellectual leaders is a rationed commodity. Both neo- and paleo-conservatives are such hardened ideologues that they will never reach any kind of accommodation with each other. However, as a respectful foreigner, one might be tempted to venture the suggestion that the American conservative movement deserves better leadership than it’s getting.

Not just the conservatives – but all Americans.

The Internet's Absence of Filters

Commentary by Martin Kelly
April 11, 2005

The Internet is not a corporate medium.

In order to pipe his Fox News guff into American homes, the Australian-born ‘news magnate’ Keith Rupert Murdoch must incur certain large and ongoing capital costs in order to employ the personnel and erect the infrastructure necessary in order to broadcast one second of Bill O’Reilly. Although the thought of having to write, film, edit, produce and introduce every item on his channel might be Keith’s personal vision of Hell, soon even he will not be able to compete with the unfiltered, unedited news and opinion revolution that’s been gathering pace ever since the Nixon-era political saboteur Lucianne Goldberg was feeding gossip about Monica Lewinsky to Matt Drudge; a revolution in which the only things you need to participate are a modem and a browser.

Murdoch has been an advocate of free markets for decades; well, now he’s got one in his backyard, and as time passes and the current non-existent level of Internet regulation continues, it’s a free market that is really going to hurt the corporate interests of anyone who ever borrowed money in order to put on a TV news show.

Although the Internet will have a saturation point, it’s probably nowhere near it yet, a thought which should make the Establishment quake at the prospect of the awesome power of the unleashed cyber-citizen.

This advent of this inter-connected reality has the power not just to change the way news and opinion is delivered; not just to provide other forums for activists; but also to change the very face of the political landscape.

A hyperlink serves no function other than to provide a reader with a choice; click on it or not. Obviously, this enables readers to experiment with information that would not otherwise form part of their regular intellectual diet. The attractions of writers who may have seemed thrilling only a short while ago may soon pall, to be replaced by new gurus.

The harsh reality of the Internet era is that it is not only the mainstream media but also those in government who are petrified of it; the central regulation and flow of information, the very means by which all states keep control, has been truly abolished at precisely the same time that Western governments have reached depths of authoritarianism never before reached in peacetime.

As the Iraqis might say, the genie’s out the bottle.

If one starts to selects one’s news from different sources, one may also soon collect opinions from different sources, and if enough people collect enough of a range of opinions from different sources, then the end of bipartisan politics will be well and truly spelled.

The Internet happened so fast that the political elites have only been able to react to it; the danger for Internet users will come when they want to control it, for the day may come when a politician, tired of the bad press they have received in unfiltered cyber-media, proposes that Internet use be licensed, and if not licensed then registered.

There would be a storm of protest, of course, but ultimately it is in the interests of both the Republicans and the Democrats for the flow of information to be regulated, preferably by them, and if not by them then by others favourable to them and their interests. They are political movements; they exist for no reason other than to seek and hold power. Once in power, the only means that exist of challenging that power lie in the regulated, infrequent and predictable turns of the electoral cycle.

A blogger with a piece of hot news can be read around the world in minutes. This is the biggest challenge the mainstream politicians have ever faced, an unconscionable threat to their interests.

Beware of Greeks bearing gifts; and beware of politicians who say they want to protect the public in the aftermath of the very first big story that a blogger gets wrong and which has tragic consequences.

The day of the licensed blogger may not be far behind.

John Paul II, Opponent of Predatory Capitalism

Commentary by Martin Kelly
April 6, 2005

As was to be expected, the passing of the Polish Pope has unleashed a veritable tsunami of encomia from the neoconservatives. Most comment has, of course, focussed on the role John Paul II played in the collapse of Communism, oblivious to the fact that the Catholic Church possesses a massive advantage over its earthly, secular persecutors – it’s eternal, and will survive human ideology for no reason other than longevity.

However, there is one aspect of the Pope’s record the comprehension of which seems to be beyond them, which, being spoiled children of the now, is, from this perspective, entirely reasonable; they can’t figure why John Paul II didn’t dig big capitalism.

He opposed Communism because he respected the rights of the individual. He was pro-life because he respected the rights of the individual. Ergo, employing a quantum leap of logic of which the even the lowliest intern at the American Enterprise Institute should be capable, he opposed predatory capitalism – because he respected the rights of the individual.

In a ‘Townhall’ piece of April 6 entitled, ‘The Splendor of Truth’, Jonah Goldberg remarked that, ‘The Catholic Church was the first real advocate of globalisation’. Huh? The Catholic Church an advocate of ‘globalisation’? I know Our Lord said, ‘the poor will be with you always’, but he didn’t follow that up with some dazzling coda like ‘And you will go out of your way to advocate that people will be made poor’, which is precisely the effect that the predatory global capitalism that John Paul II opposed has had and is having in what used to be Christian societies.

Don’t just take my word for it. I know that Europeans are whiners, Euro-weenies, blah, blah, Belgian prosecutors, Islamic immigration into France (always good for 1,000 words from Mark Steyn), blah, blah, but us Euros do have one little secret – entirely unreasonably, we are still just ever so slightly scared of the Germans; and not enough attention is being paid to economic stability in that country.

German re-unification was a disaster, and should have acted as a template for what not to do if you’re planning to graft an entirely new political and economic model onto a country where the local culture isn’t accustomed to it. After Germany,
nobody would really be stupid enough to try that again.
The Germans have probably lost count of the amount of money they have invested into trying to get the old East up to Western standards, and it is killing their economy. Unemployment in Germany is at its highest since the early 1930’s. Nostalgia for the old East is on the rise. Neocons, take note.

Like the UK, Germany is a member of the European Union, membership of which demands the elimination of border and labour controls. Now, ironically, since Poland joined the European Union last year, there has been a flood of Poles to the West. The cost of living in Poland is very low, and Poles are accustomed to working for lower wages than in the West. When Poles come West, they therefore drive down wages. Although many residents of Arizona will tell you otherwise, the free market economists say that this is a good thing, quite forgetting that the state subsidies their corporate masters receive are collected from personal taxation, which has the effect of raising the cost of living.

However, according to the ‘Daily Telegraph’ of April 4, one young German entrepreneur, Fabian Loew, has devised a solution to the problem of getting Germany back to work – he’s created a website, jobdumping.de, where job applicants compete against each other to work for the lowest wages, literally a race to the bottom, a race from which Fabian Loew collects a fee.

The opportunity to pay staff the lowest possible wages is the motherlode of predatory capitalism – any concept of a ‘global economy’ has no other rationale. It supersedes politics, it supersedes ideology, for some people it even supersedes religion. Much is made of the evils of the mill-owners of Victorian England; but those Methodists and Quakers built model villages for their workers, built schools, libraries, art galleries and swimming baths, gave something back to the local communities whose labours guaranteed their profits. To whom does a global business give something back?

If one believes all that one reads about the USA, it wouldn’t be surprising if some Stanford MBA Fabian Loew type crawls out the woodwork and decides to cash in on his fellow Americans’ human misery by starting some kind of ‘jobdumping’ service.

In the meantime, as the redoubtable Paul Craig Roberts tirelessly records, because of globalisation and its little brother outsourcing, the only jobs being created in the USA are domestic services and other services that cannot be performed at lower cost somewhere else in the world. In a flash, the economy of America will become like that of eastern Germany; and, just like the concept of the United Kingdom has disappeared due to the mismanagement of its elites, so too will that of America.

The conservative right’s Euro-haters will turn round and say that’s impossible because of the differences between Germany’s heavily tax-dependent welfare state and the vitality of the American economy. All that one need say to counter that argument are five little phrases; budget deficit; trade deficit; Social Security; dying dollar; and Iraq.

Turning people into economic units, a form of pornography, was what John Paul II railed against; Catholic apologists for big business like Michael Novak couldn’t really seem to care less.

At least being Pope does give you one big advantage in the workplace – as Dr. Roberts would put it, your services are non-tradable, and thus incapable of being outsourced.

The Unspeakable Losers of the British Conservative Party

Commentary by Martin Kelly
April 5, 2005

A politician’s announcement that he will hold a debate on reducing the legal time limit for abortions should he gain office would, in almost all cases, be cause for celebration.

However when the pledge comes from the mouth of Michael Howard, the leader of the undisciplined and unprincipled losers of the British Parliamentary Conservative Party, then pro-life voters should be very wary indeed.

Social conservatism does not come easily to Conservative Members of Parliament – although they are all very comfortable with the concept of managing the behaviour of others, they show no inclination to accept any kind of limits on themselves. Many have viewed being an MP as an excuse to get freebies and expand their contacts books so they can retire on swollen public pensions and then walk into any number of directorships.

Indeed, whatever has caused Howard to break out in this blue fit of real conservatism is of very recent origin; as recently as February 2004, Howard announced his support for ‘civil unions’ for gays. A pro-life, pro-gay marriage British conservative?

Is he Andrew Sullivan in disguise?

The announcement that he is proposing a debate on the reduction of the legal time limit from 24 to 20 weeks was made in the March 20 ‘Sunday Telegraph’. Hard leftists and libertarians have dictated the social culture of the UK for so long that any attempt to loosen the Vulcan deathgrip they have on policy should be viewed as being a victory of sorts; but in this case, it’s not any kind of victory at all.

All Parliamentary debate on social issues is conducted on the basis of a ‘free vote’; therefore, the laws by which 60 million must live are dictated by the consciences of fewer than 700. The majority of those few privileged even to have a voice in the debate will be from either the Labour or Conservative camps, career politicians whose livelihoods depend on courting popularity, not on taking difficult or unpopular decisions.

In most instances, they will see no further than the date of the next election; like states, they have no friends, only interests. Also, a free vote is one of the very few occasions on which a drone MP can exercise real power, and decide for themselves in which direction they wish the country to go – the vast majority of Parliamentary votes are conducted on a partisan whipped basis.

These factors themselves mean that if Howard becomes Prime Minister, and if he actually does hold the vote, he will restrain himself from directing his minions on how they should vote.

Which means that, even after any debate, the laws will remain unchanged.

Which shows Howard’s announcement up for what it is – a shallow, opportunistic attempt to sway pro-life sentiment in favour of a party which calls itself Conservative but which has shown no interest in any genuine conservative values for decades; the shallow, opportunistic gesture of a shallow, opportunistic man.

He, and the Parliamentary Party he leads, are largely unspeakable.

But the collective desire to restore the culture of life that this country’s leaders abandoned one night in 1967 is gathering steam. The pro-life movement has a photogenic and very vocal advocate, the Rev. Joanna Jepson, who has harried two doctors who performed a 28-week abortion on a child with a cleft palate – she herself suffered the condition in childhood, and was cured by reconstructive surgery.

In the ‘Sunday Times’ of March 20, the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, perhaps mindful of the social conservatism of those African evangelicals who are threatening schism in the Anglican Communion over the ordination of homosexuals, came out publicly as a pro-lifer.

There is a change in attitude taking place, slowly, painfully, little by little, towards a restriction in the abortion laws. What’s needed is a party leader of great conscience to say publicly that they oppose abortion under all circumstances and will do everything in their power to restore its rightful illegal status. Will we ever get that?
Not on Michael Howard’s watch.

The Fever of Revolution

Commentary by Martin Kelly
March 24, 2005

The fever of revolution makes men do and say some very strange things.

Right now, the neoconservatives and their mouthpieces are full of talk of ‘democratic revolution’, a state of affairs they believe comes to exist through nothing more than the holding of elections, as if the existence of a middle class and traditions of dissent, free speech and free enquiry have no role to play in the making of genuinely free and democratic societies.

The worst affected of all the democratic revolutionaries is the President of the United States. As commentators like Walter Williams and Patrick J. Buchanan have recently pointed out, George W. Bush leads a country of which many of whose founders saw the danger of democracy degenerating into mob rule, and thus decided that their great project should instead be a republic.

As recently as 2000, the principles that guided the formation of the Great Republic were reinforced when the Presidency was decided in the Electoral College. That a President who owes his first term to the principles of the Republic should so publicly make the spread of democracy his foremost policy aim is at best unsettling, at worst bizarre.

Does the guy understand his own job?

But the armchair revolutionaries of the First Corps of Washington Think Tanks don’t really have the stomach to go out into the field and do the really dirty work of starting the revolution for themselves. They should perhaps follow the example of a real revolutionary, one of the great unsung heroes of World War Two, Leopold Trepper.

Born in 1904 in Novy-Targ, Poland, Trepper became a Communist in his youth and never wavered from his Communism to the end of his days. After working underground as a militant in Poland, Palestine, where he was imprisoned, and France, he went to Moscow in the early ’30’s and saw first hand the butchery of Stalin’s purges. In 1938, he was selected for a special mission by Jan Berzin, the head of Soviet Intelligence, and was sent to the West.

With no more training than his experience of underground work, Trepper organised the anti-Nazi spy ring that the Germans called the ‘Rote Kapelle’ or ‘Red Orchestra’, so-called because of the sound of their wireless broadcasts, that over two years sent 1,500 broadcasts to Moscow and delivered intelligence that had a major impact on the conduct of the war, giving information on everything from troop movements to the new design of Messerschmitts.

Those members of the Red Orchestra who were captured suffered dreadfully at the hands of the Gestapo Sonderkommando in the dungeons of Breendonk and Plotzensee; many were beheaded.

When Trepper himself was captured, he played the Germans into thinking that he could negotiate a separate peace between the Third Reich and the Soviet Union, even managing to write and arrange for the smuggling of a report on his activities back to Moscow while in captivity, before he escaped.

This old militant’s reward after the war was 10 years in Stalin’s jails; as an associate of Berzin’s, he had been ‘ideologically suspect’ since 1938. After his release, he returned to Poland and became an active defender of its remaining Jewish community, before the rise of anti-Semitism in that country in the ‘60’s led to his persecution all over again, eventually leading to de facto house arrest. After winning a libel case against a former head of the French Intelligence Service who had accused him of being a double agent, he was permitted to leave Poland in 1973, and died in Israel in 1982.

But Trepper was such a fervent believer in his revolution he was prepared to cling to it even after everything he had suffered and had seen done in its name. His struggle against Nazism was titanic; but he was almost mad with revolution.

Compare Leopold Trepper with Michael Ledeen. Ledeen is as fervent a revolutionary as Trepper, although his exposure to real physical risk has been far less. Reported to have the ear of Karl Rove, he is the most vocal member of the orchestra that shouts for democracy, not realising that while it is good, it must have roots in which to flourish. Just as Trepper’s Communist revolution could never succeed because of the ideology’s blind refusal to recognise that not all men can be moulded into militants, so too will Ledeen’s neoconservative revolution on the basis that not all the societies he seeks to overthrow may wish to be democracies.

But that does not mean that neoconservatives like Ledeen are no less militants than Communists like Leopold Trepper. What will Ledeen and the other neoconservative militants do for their revolution?

It’s clear what they’ve already done; they’ve turned the head of the President of the United States.

By so systematically calling for democratic revolution, and putting the words of revolution into a president’s mouth, they show their true nature, and it’s one that the old militant Trepper would recognise very well indeed.
They are subversives.

Some Thoughts on St. Patrick's Day

Commentary by Martin Kelly
March 18, 2005

There was a time in the not so distant past when if a British citizen of Irish extraction declared themselves to be a republican, they would have been likely to find themselves the subject of unwanted official scrutiny.

Being neither a monarchist nor a libertarian, I’m a republican by default. My British republicanism, however, has nothing to do with the fetid gangster ‘Irish republicanism’ of the terror lord Gerry Adams and his gang of butchers in the Provisional IRA.

Big Gerry is now doing the rounds of the Irish-American suckers who have financed the IRA’s 30-year murder spree out of either blind hatred of their country’s closest ally or some kind of romantic pining for an Ireland that never existed. The United Kingdom should never have to ban Americans from entering this island; however Martin Galvin, sometime official of the terrorist fundraiser NORAID, has had that distinction, putting him in the same kind of company as Louis Farrakhan.

This week, some parts of the Irish-American community need to face some particularly brutal home truths. Firstly, they are simply part of the Irish diaspora, not its entirety – they possess no exclusive right to Irish ethnicity.

Secondly, it was their money that for many years helped to buy the guns and the explosives that killed and maimed law-abiding British people just peacefully trying to go about their business.

Thirdly, will any of those who entertain Adams this week have the guts to ask him precisely what role he played in the murder of Jean McConville in 1972? Was he really the commander of the death squad that murdered this mother of 10, as is alleged, or can he account for his movements at the time of her death?

Can he confirm or deny that he was the commander of the IRA’s Belfast Ballymurphy brigade as early as the 1960’s?

Gerry Adams has been a terrorist all his adult life. The IRA has no reason to exist without the gun or the bomb. There has been talk this week of Adams becoming a marginalized Yasser Arafat figure. That analogy is incorrect, firstly because Adams is an elected politician on my dime who, unlike Arafat, works within the framework of an established democracy; and secondly, Adams just doesn’t have the brains to be a Yasser Arafat.

But because the IRA’s political wing Sinn Fein now has a firm grasp of the language of ‘human rights’ and photogenic mouthpieces like Mary Lou McDonald, Adams has thought he and his accomplice, the unashamed terrorist Martin McGuinness, could coast along for years playing men of peace in public while both are still members of the IRA’s governing ‘Army Council’. They have been abetted in this double game by the appeasement of Bill Clinton, Tony Blair and George W. Bush; even after the carnage of 9/11, Bush was willing to go to Belfast in 2003 and meet with men whom he could not have failed to have known were dyed-in-the-wool killers with the blood of the innocent dripping on their hands.

It was only after two spectacular own goals, the biggest bank robbery in British history last December and the senseless murder of Robert McCartney in January, that Bush has pulled the plug on USA-Irish terrorist relations; and there seems to be no indication that this official frostiness from the White House is going to be permanent.

But the signs are good when even Pete King, the Congressional Fenian Caucus himself, is showing Big Gerry the cold shoulder – unless, of course, it’s all just a show and Adams knows he’ll be persona grata again next year, and he’ll be back to wear one of those wee hats, drink green beer and pass round the plate – just for welfare, like.

The remaining supporters of the IRA in Irish-America need to overcome their perpetual emotional immaturity and start recognising their higher duty to the principles of the land that accepted their forefathers. Any bigotry they encountered in America was no different from that faced by the Irish wherever they went – in 1923, the Presbyterian Church of Scotland published a document called ‘The Menace of the Irish Race’, which they’re still living down to this day. When ‘experts’ like the English-born controversialist and eugenics buff John Derbyshire call the Arabs, ‘the Irish of the world’, or hark back to the ‘Limerick Pogrom’, constantly focussing on the negative behaviour of the Irish throughout history, they are given ammunition by some Americans’ continued acceptance of men like Gerry Adams at this time of year.

Adams is in America to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Without Patrick, there would have been no Christianity in Ireland; without Christianity in Ireland there would not have been much Christianity in many other parts of the world.

That’s the real meaning of March 17, and the real achievement of that ancient Scot who was kidnapped into slavery and taken over the water to a wild, forbidding land; not to hold parties for killers like Gerry Adams, or have his feast turned into some kind of Emerald Kwaanza.

On North Korea, Via Social Security

Commentary by Martin Kelly
March 7, 2005

For all the rhetoric that flows from the lips of the neoconservatives, the country of North Korea poses no real risk to the physical security of the USA. Without doubt its leadership is odious, keeping a near-starving people wrapped in the type of personality cult once abhorred by the man to whom they pay homage, Joseph Stalin.

It would be a very bad thing indeed if they have developed the bomb; however, as with Iraq, it is highly improbable that they possess any practical means of delivering a weapon onto San Francisco or Seattle.

The only nations that a nuclear North Korea would threaten would be its immediate neighbours; and thus, unfortunately, the USA would be drawn into any and all such regional conflicts in the Far East.

That is entirely the fault of the Clinton and Bush Administrations’ continued, wilful and reckless pursuit of unbridled international free trade and international free markets, and the big-spending proclivities of George W. Bush.

The American economy vomits debt at the rate of nearly $2 billion every single day, the consequence of having both a fiscally reckless Congress and a President who cannot see the virtue in sometimes killing a bill. In their new found love of the entity that calls itself ‘The State’, some American citizens seem wilfully blind to the concept that having a small, low-spending government would make them personally better off, with much more stable wealth, than any scheme that forces them to invest in an uncertain stock market and that’s disguised as ‘Social Security Reform’ ever could.

Indeed, the impertinence behind the idea that a government can dictate what citizens will do with money that shouldn’t have been taken from them in the first place is quite staggering. The current proposals for reforming Social Security can be construed four ways; firstly along classically conservative lines, that citizens are able to invest their funds more efficiently and profitably for themselves than if done on their behalf by ‘The State’; secondly, that this is an attempt to shore up a stock market that’s over-exposed to a declining dollar; thirdly, it’s an attempt to help some Wall Street CEO’s get richer without the parachute of a Federal bail-out being provided for the patsies if there’s another Enron; and lastly, and this is the most extreme, George W. Bush is trying to create a large investor class of loyal Republicans – in other words, to establish political control over the stock market.

So much for free markets.

But the biggest buyers of American debt are China and Japan. Anything that compromises the ability of China and Japan to buy dollars for George Bush and Robert Byrd to spend is a graver threat than anything Osama bin Laden could dream of. That is the real threat posed by North Korea. The Far East now seems to be engaged in a cold war as cold as any ever fought in Europe, and it ill-behoves the neocons to stir up trouble on the peninsula when the economic order they have helped create in the States will be among the first casualties in any shooting war.

Part of that cold war’s realpolitik is that should China decide to implement its policy of regime change on Taiwan, all rhetoric in support of that country’s right to exist will be forgotten, just to ensure the Chinese keep buying dollars. It will be the Sudetenland all over again, but of course the neocons don’t do appeasement – do they?

Also to be factored in is the USA’s horrendous trade deficit, now standing at 6% of GDP. The Pearl River Delta has become the shop floor of the world, and China runs a net trade surplus with the USA in virtually anything with moving parts, while in 2002 the USA ran a net trade surplus with China in meat, hides and skins, scrap metal and cigarettes. In the aftermath of 9/11, George W. Bush told the American people to go shopping – the de-industrialisation of America has been so thorough that he had nothing else to work with.

But, as Larry Kudlow never fails to point out, corporate profits are an important factor in economic growth and a weak dollar makes America a great place for foreigners to invest, i.e. buy American businesses. Yeah, dude. Whatever.

At some point in the future, America’s children may be called to go to war in order to ensure that cheap imports will still undercut domestically produced goods in the shops and to pay for whatever politicians can scrape from the bottom of the pork barrel.

Opponents of the Iraq war said it was a war about oil. That was not true. However, there would be only one way of describing what any American war with North Korea would be.
It would be going to war for Wal-Mart. And one day George W. Bush will take his place in economic history as the President who made the soybean America’s most valuable export.

Where Did Bronco Billy Go?

Commentary by Martin Kelly
March 2, 2005

On February 27 Clint Eastwood, 74, joined the select band of movie-makers who have won two Academy Awards in the category of Best Director of a Motion Picture. He is the first actor to achieve the distinction, awarded for his direction of ‘Million Dollar Baby’.

He is a giant of the culture, a lone wolf who wandered for years in the critical wilderness, massively popular with his public but ignored by the movie establishment before being warmly welcomed into the fold in his 60’s.

For the duration of his career, Eastwood has shown an ability as actor and director to thrill, delight and surprise in equal measure, from producing classic westerns like ‘The Outlaw Josey Wales’ and ‘Unforgiven’ to political thrillers like ‘In the Line of Fire’, to intimate, personal projects like ‘Breezy’ and ‘Bird’. Although his acting became stylised, if not lazy, in the ‘60’s, re-runs of ‘Rawhide’ from the ‘50’s show a keen, capable and expressive performer who finally re-surfaced from beneath the weight of his public image in the ‘90’s.

It’s a pity that, at this stage in his career, one has to ask – where did Bronco Billy go?

Released in 1980, ‘Bronco Billy’ is easily his most joyous and uplifting movie. Its whimsical story, about the owner of an old-style Wild West show, could not have been better timed at its release, daring to re-affirm the wholesomeness of American values and patriotism at the end of the dark Carter years. It was pure cinematic Reaganism, and although it’s outstanding as a whole it deserves to be shown forever for just two scenes – Eastwood’s final soliloquy; and for its very last shot, which is probably one of the reasons he was frozen out of the Hollywood establishment for so long.

Bronco Billy McCoy would be all at sea trying to figure out the director of ‘Million Dollar Baby’.

The members of the Academy seem to have decided that 2005 should be the year in which the full force of their guiding values should be unleashed and they aren’t the values of ‘Bronco Billy’.

It shouldn’t really be surprising that the Academy should have seen fit to honour two projects dealing with the practice of euthanasia in a way that is at best morally neutral while the plight of Terry Schiavo is still in the public eye, but it galls one nonetheless. As well as awarding Best Picture to ‘Million Dollar Baby’, its members awarded the Best Foreign Language award to Spain’s ‘The Sea Inside’, a biography of a quadriplegic campaigner for the right to die ‘with dignity’.

In any debate about the ‘right to die’, it is only honest to remind its advocates that if any such right exists, it is of very recent origin – until a few short decades ago, to attempt suicide was still a crime in many jurisdictions. It is one of the last taboos – anybody who knows anyone whose friend or loved one has taken their own life knows it is not a subject they will readily discuss. Many such suicide survivors feel crippling guilt that they were unable to share the suicide’s burden, or assuage their despondency.

In some parts of the world, suicide is a serious social problem – in the Republic of Ireland, the suicide rate among young men has grown massively throughout the years of ‘Celtic Tiger’ growth, perhaps fuelled by a sense of alienation from the increased prosperity they see around them.

To promote euthanasia is to promote a cause that says that suicide is good if it feels right, the ultimate act of moral relativism. By releasing ‘Million Dollar Baby’, Clint Eastwood has trampled on all the suffering attached to suicide - if you’re paralysed, then clearly you have nothing to offer. You are an embarrassment to a culture that celebrates physical vitality, and your very existence is an uncomfortable reminder of how fragile our own bodies and egos are. Those quadriplegics who cling to life for its own sake, the pro-life champions determined to keep on living in the knowledge that their life has been spared through their own will and the efforts of others, have no voice in the movies of Clint Eastwood.

If Bronco Billy saw ‘Million Dollar Baby’, he’d probably ask just when The Man With No Name became the man with no heart.
He might even call him a billion dollar loser – because, like, dude, just when did you become an ‘artist’?

Neoconservatism and Democracy

Commentary by Martin Kelly
February 25, 2005

One of the more sickening sights of recent weeks was witnessed during the President’s State of the Union address.

In alleged ‘solidarity’ with the Iraqis, a group of congressman had dyed their fingers blue, mimicking the mark of death put on Iraqi voters, and waved them in the air right on cue.

This is the moral equivalent of well-fed, affluent Western academics and teenagers proclaiming their support for the oppression of Fidel Castro while wearing the image of the murderous Ernesto Guevara; a poseur’s act, purely ideological, completely free of personal risk and ultimately as disrespectful to those Iraqis who braved savage harm by going to vote as the Che-wearers are of those Cubans who suffer under the boot of a vicious old man to whom the neoconservatives are happy to turn blind eyes, thus spitting in those of Bush’s most loyal supporters, those without whom neither he nor his brother would hold office, the Cuban-American Republicans of Miami-Dade.

Democracy, say the neoconservatives, is an end in itself; but this view is heavily qualified. A more accurate question for the neocons to answer would be, ‘When is a democracy not a democracy?’

Their answer would be brief, and telling.

When it’s in Spain.

For nearly a year, the neoconservative fascists of the American Enterprise Institute, the ‘National Review Online’ ‘Townhall’ and the ‘Washington Times’ have insulted and slimed the Spanish people for their rejection of the liar Jose Maria Aznar, and his lying lie in the immediate aftermath of the Madrid train bombings last March that the Basque terrorists ETA were responsible. If all you ever read is the hatred and bile of the right-wing thug Tony Blankley, who has maliciously called for Seymour Hersh to be prosecuted for treason, then you’ll believe that the people who conquered vast swathes of the New World are a bunch of wimps and Euro-wussies.

But of the two democracies, Spain and Iraq, which will endure? Which will ultimately survive in the cauldron of history?

My money’s on Spain.

On the weekend of February 20, the Spanish went to the polls again in a referendum to determine whether the country will ratify the policy document laughingly called the ‘EU Constitution’.

The good news for the democrats is that, although the document will be ratified and the Spanish are now at the head of the queue for more Euro-integration, turnout was low.

Spain is therefore getting back to normal, and starting to once again exhibit the diffidence to the doings of politicians that should be the hallmark of all successful and peaceful societies.

This diffidence makes it easier for peoples’ to detach themselves from the grand plans and failed schemes of those who seek to lead them. When, however, a diffident people is raised to outrage, their retribution on those who break their trust, as Aznar callously did, is swift, and all they need do to bring down giants is to put a mark in a box.

When the Spanish have had enough of being Europeans, they’ll go back to being Spanish without skipping a beat. After all, these are the people whose land was the testing ground for the Junkers and the Stuka, the people who survived Guernica and 40 years of Franco, and who as recently as 1981 faced the prospect of a military coup.

The Spanish will get by. The Iraqis won’t, a great pity and entirely the fault of the neocons, addled by their ideology and lusting for their places in history. Boy, will they get them.

As those who are sufficiently interested in such matters are always reminded, there ain’t much democracy in the Islamic Middle East. The reason for this, of course, is staring right us in the face – Islam. Islam is an ideology just as much as a faith. Like any ideology, it can’t suffer challenge so its opponents have got to go. Even in Turkey, the most avowedly secular of Islamic nations, the military have had to step into the political breach several times over the course of the country’s modern history in order to prevent Islamist groups taking power. The current Prime Minister was often fond of saying that the minarets should be their bayonets and the mosques their barracks.

Whoa there, Slim! Step AWAY from the prayer-mat!

But the Iraqi elections have consolidated power in the hands of the religious majority, the Shia Muslims. One of the more depressing consequences of having gorged oneself on an intellectual diet of David Horowitz mixed with Srjda Trifkovic is that one becomes aware of the existence of words like ‘Taqqiya’.

‘Taqqiya’, roughly translated as duplicity, is, according to Trifkovic, an Islamic duty, to push the Islamist agenda forward in the public square by gaining influence and then using it to establish Sharia law. The neoconservatives, of course, have done precisely the same thing for their agenda – I used to call myself a neoconservative, but I was just a wee toy Scottish neocon, MacNeo if you like (even the Republic of Ireland has its own wee toy neocon, an O’Neo, Mark Dooley of the ‘Sunday Independent’), while the really big beasts in their jungle probably number fewer than 100 and all of them hold or have held prominent positions in Republican White Houses, the think tanks or the media. This group holds a disproportionately massive public influence in relation to its numbers.

The Islamists will do precisely the same thing in Iraq as the neos have done in America. And we have walked blind into this nightmare, this hell on earth that we are making for other people.

The purpose of democracy is to enable all to be included in the decisions that affect them. Soon, the Iraqis will have no voice, their women will be forced to wear the veil, their hands will be amputated for petty infractions, and crowds will gather to watch them be beheaded and hanged. Iraq may join Iran’s new alliance with Syria, the security of Israel could be fatally compromised and the deaths of all those Iraqis, Americans, Brits and others who’ve been killed in this war for the last two years will be utterly meaningless.

In the meantime, the Spanish will just keep going about their business, being democrats, doing their thing.
And some prominent poseurs will have great snaps for their albums. But blood stains deeper than ink.

The Siamese Twins, Illegal Immigration and Abortion

Commentary by Martin Kelly
February 23, 2005

For as long as illegal immigration exists, so, too, will the practice of abortion. Kill illegal immigration, and abortion would wither on the vine.

The relationship between illegal immigration and abortion is almost symbiotic. The fate of one depends on the fate of the other. They are Siamese twins who share a vital organ – the need of ‘The State’ to replenish its numbers; after all, ‘The State’ must have rulers, and rulers must have people to rule.

The election of legislators and executives are acts of delegation. The principal drawback of libertarianism is its belief that each man can be his own government. While government should be small and unobtrusive, the nature of nations possessing clearly defined borders and populations bound by shared history is that there are some functions, the defence of the realm and its foreign affairs, which require to be administered collectively. These functions are delegated to legislators and executives, and the equipment necessary for the performance of these collective functions is provided from levies on all citizens.

That’s great in theory. The problem, as Ronald Reagan often said, is that once government is handed a function to perform, it has a tendency to grow. The nature of the relationship between the citizens and their delegates’ changes. The citizens start referring to their servants as ‘The Government’. ‘The Government’ becomes an entity to which the citizen must justify himself, even down to his smallest, most inconsequential transactions. ‘The Government’ permits itself the privilege of spying on the citizens, often using the mantra ‘Security’ to justify its impertinence.

In time, the sheer size to which ‘The Government’ has grown means it has attained a critical mass at which it transforms itself into an anti-democratic leviathan – ‘The State’.

According to some writers, like Lew Rockwell, this has already happened in the USA.

Rockwell has estimated that the tipping point for this change occurred in 1994, and the Republicans’ gaining control of Congress. Before that, conservatives had been happy to accept the conventional wisdom that ‘The Government’ should be small. However, the behaviour of congressional Republicans since 1994 has illustrated that they have the same appetites as the Democrats for pork, waste and, above all else, control.

But they’re Republicans! That makes it all OK!

Not really. The worst manifestation of love of ‘The State’ that Rockwell, Paul Craig Roberts, Shane Cory and others have recorded is the level of venom directed by Republican supporters of George W. Bush towards anyone who dares to question his competence and the efficacy of his policies. Such viciousness does not become supporters of the party of Dutch Reagan.

But to survive, ‘The State’, needs one thing – it must replenish its numbers.

Child rearing is probably the most uneconomic method that could be devised for the maintenance of ‘The State’. ‘The State’ needs fully-formed adults, ready to work and pay taxes to pay for delegates and to provide services; infant children take just way too long to get into the system.

Also, the very fact of children’s existence distracts their parents from their primary function, which is the service of ‘The State’. ‘The State’ just can’t handle the competition generated by a scraped knee, a loose tooth or a request for a bedtime story.

Children, therefore, are the enemies of ‘The State’. ‘The State’ has no problem abetting their elimination. But if the purposes of ‘The State’ are inimical to the interests of children, how will it replenish its numbers? Where will it get the people?

The answer is, from anywhere. One of the most important functions delegated to ‘The State’ is the regulation of its borders – if the greater interests of ‘The State’ dictate that it should subvert or ignore its own laws on border control in order to satisfy its greater purpose of replenishing its numbers, so be it.

The more people to rule, the better. The more people available to feed ‘The State’ its tribute, called taxation, the better. The more people available to fight in the specious wars ‘The State’ declares in order to keep the people in a state of fear and to cement its control over them with the security apparatuses they fund, the better.

If illegal immigration were halted, ‘The State’ would need to find another way of keeping its numbers up. Very suddenly, almost immediately, all funding would be withdrawn from pro-choice groups and there would be an explosion of propaganda in favour of marriage and family values.

‘The State’ would get its numbers up – it would just need to wait awhile.

Do not expect any substantive action on either illegal immigration or abortion for the foreseeable future.