Reflections on recent events, plus the occasional fact
free rant unfiltered by rational argument.
It’s a tricky business making predictions, especially in the new Trumptonian world. Like quantum mechanics, it's a counter-intuitive and weird place. With the very foundations that underpinned our world-view tarnished, or distinctly wobbly, don’t take anything for granted. It’s also extraordinary arrogant of me - I have no unique insights nor information. There again, most commentators are in the same position. After all, anyone with a modicum of intelligence should be able to have a stab at it. Sheer immodesty compels me. Here, goes.
In 2018 Trump will be the ‘gift that keeps giving’. I reckon he’ll survive attempts to impeach him. Although, he will become an isolated and a forlorn figure. Don’t worry; his self-belief is so massive that he won’t notice. There is something of King Lear about Trump. With no clear successor, he may yet exit a burning palace.
For those around Trump, it’s not looking so good. Jared Kushner is toast. It’s only a matter of time before his fall will be orchestrated to deflect blame away from Trump. The Russian saga will then evaporate. Steve Bannon is already laying the tracks for that process. For him, it’s a win-win situation. Take out Kushner, then affirm his loyalty to Trump. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Bannon back in the White House.
North Korea will seek talks. The other options are unthinkable. The risk comes in an accident as each postures, rattling their sabres, making the other side edgy. China has a significant stake in this game, and may yet prove the deciding factor. Simultaneously, Russia is seeking to make capital of the situation. However, Putin doesn’t have the reach to make a significant difference.
In Britain, Teresa Mayhem will finally falter. The cracks are there for all to see, getting wider by the day as leaks of chaos abound. A general election is a distinct possibility. Boris Johnson is waiting his moment to pounce, while Jacob Rees Mogg has a considerable following. That could translate into a leadership run. How that turns out is anyone's guess. The public is angry with politicians, making the outcome difficult to predict.
Opposition leader Corbyn won’t get the majority he seeks. Middle England has yet to embrace him and some of his loony-left friends. Standing on the stage at Glastonbury, speaking to the converted only gets you so far. He has serious restraints. The albatross of Diana Abbott is circling his head, ready to go off message. Her anti-white stance and pure incompetence damage the whole Labour brand. Would you want this woman as Home Secretary? She may appeal to the Metropolitan London elite, but I doubt the rest of the country is. I may be wrong, as I've been in the past.
As regards Brexit, it’s anyone’s guess. The omens are not looking good for a deal that will please the British public. It’s a brave man who calls that one.
In Germany, a weakened Angela Merkel will soldier on in partnership with other parties. Her enormous generosity in opening Germany to refugees will continue to dog her. Meanwhile, her vision for Europe is eroding. To her east, the reelection of Putin is certain. That’s a no-brainer. He’ll meddle when possible, to make life uncomfortable for Western politicians.
On a positive note, Saudi Arabia will continue to modernise and may confront the mad mullahs of Iran. There are signs that Saudi women will attain the rights they deserve, which is the best thing that could happen.
ISIS having lost land will fragment and evolve into a multi-cell organisation. That’s as dangerous. Without a unified command structure, taking out the leadership is no longer an option. We can expect low-level operations using crude options, such as vehicles and knives. The threat is evolving.
The fall out from the Weinstein saga will continue to rain down. The exciting twist should be details of actresses that surrendered themselves to him to further careers. When the dust settles, men and women will need to redefine their relations by having difficult conversations. The outcome should be positive.
On the health front, a universal flu vaccine is looking possible. Most countries are making progress on the health front. Surprisingly, the USA is going backwards. Access to firearms and drugs, plus inaccessibility to medical care will continue to drive down life expectancy. Its fallen for two years and is due to drop further in 2018. Opioids caused two-thirds of those deaths, with young black men the primary victims.
There is much to be positive about. World population growth is stabilising, as more women get control of their reproductive cycle. This outcome should dampen many of the adverse impacts of human activity. Recognition of our impact on the planet's ecosystem will drive initiatives to control our excesses. Expect more on that front. To that end, we need to remodel our consumer society. That’s a long-term project.
If I’m correct about any of this stuff, it's pure luck. Let’s check back here in a year - it will be interesting to see how things went. Happy New Year!
Without a hint of irony, a strident feminist is ranting at me from the TV “All white men are racist”. By now most of us are familiar with the type. The social justice warriors (SJWs). Intolerant types: who scream sexist, misogynist, or racist at anyone who expresses a different viewpoint. They’re all over the media and social media. They’re also stepping up their presence in dictating policy.
They shut down free-speech with no platform policies, or turn hostile when their worldview gets challenged. They don't like hard facts and cogent argument. Then, I learnt this week there is a victimhood hierarchy that our SJW friends apply to situations. This scale allows them to decide who are the bad guys and who are the good guys. Meanwhile, lost on them is the inherent prejudice in their system.
Most of us read ‘Animal Farm’ at school. You may recall that towards the end of the book the animals are seeking to redefine their revolution after things went a bit haywire. Thus, we got “All animals are equal … but some animals are more equal than others.” Starting with a promise of equality, they end up with an authoritarian caste system.
Well, that’s what the SJWs want also. In their world, some folks are automatically victims. Another group defined by their skin colour and gender are culprits and the cause of all the problems. They excuse victims specific behaviours, such as blowing up innocent children, rape and the repression of women. If you top the SJW scale of victimhood, you’re absolved of these crimes.
Victimhood is a strange, disjointed concept. A Palestinian is a victim of Israel by default. But what about the Israeli child killed by a Palestinian rocket? In the SJW canon, that child is ‘collateral damage’. That’s an actual statement from a member of the British Labour Party.
Let's be clear, SJWs are not liberals. Neither are they much interested in liberal ideas, science or tolerance. They are zealots with an agenda. They seek to replace one prejudiced-based system with another of their creation.
There are a couple of things that you need to understand. Actual suffering is not the prime factor for the SJWs to assign you victim status. For example, in the UK the most disadvantaged group is young working-class white males. These guys score lowest on educational achievement, life expectancy and top the suicide rate. However, they merit no mention in the SJWs world.
Being white makes them privileged, while being poor is tough luck. It’s important to note that most SJWs are middle-class types. You need that background to fund your feckless lifestyle. The bank of Mum and Dad cover your esoteric studies and provide shelter when the real world intervenes. Plus, having a proper job doesn’t give you the time to fight these important causes.
So how does one earn a leading position on the SJW victimhood scale? As I’ve said, actual suffering is not necessary, neither is real justice. SJWs lack the intellectual rigour for a profound history lesson, thus its best to side-step that stuff. You earn your place by being disruptive. In other words, the more noise and clamour you make, the higher the SJWs rate you. If you’ve got a bleeding sore that you can pick in the process, even better.
In broad terms, Muslims and feminists are currently uncomfortable bedfellows at the top of the league. Trans-genders are behind them, but ahead of the blacks and traditional gays (you know what I mean). Womenfolk are hovering about the middle, especially ladies from minority groups. Sliding down the scale are the Chinese. At one time the Chinese and Asians would have rated a higher score. Unfortunately, their success, with its economic clout has pushed them downhill.
Likewise, the Jews. This group has slipped so much it's nearly as bad as those awful white guys at the bottom of the scale. The fact that Israel isn’t taking crap from anyone relegates them. Sometimes the fluidity of the scale means a group can give up it's standing. The gays have seen that happen.
This scale throws into focus the problematic complexities SJWs face in passing judgment on others. For example, how does a feminist reconcile her victim status with the fact she won’t talk about the repression of her Saudi sisters.
In the same manner, Muslim countries are not tolerant of gays or trans-genders. You rarely hear the SJWs mention that. I have to say that in broad terms, the word ‘truth’ appears to be missing from the SJW lexicon.
The distinctions the SJW make about victimhood have terrible consequences. They are not prepared to address terrorism, granting the perpetrators a free pass. When an attack takes place against young teenage girls enjoying a night out in Manchester, England, the SJWs remain silent. In the process, they become the passive perpetrators by creating the space for these evildoers to go unchallenged. Assisting is a cowed mass media and political parties that cite nonsense … “We stand firm”.
Who is a victim gets politicised and is competitive. Once you gain that status, the Police and Politicians will step around you. And that’s one of the levers that the SJW use to gain advantage for their divisive culture of hate. This approach is all part of the process that seizes linguistic space to propagate their ideology. Some of this comes from the Marxist theory.
At the same time, patriotism is racist. New Labour under Tony Blair drove that message home. The Labour Party today struggles to reconcile itself with its past.
“Solidarity isn’t always a good thing in itself. The old industrial communities had a strong sense of togetherness – but in a very male, white way.” asserts Labour darling Owen Jones in the Guardian.
He can’t resist having a dig at white working folk from his metropolitan London domain. Imagine switching ‘black’ for ‘white’ in that statement. Every SJW from here to Hampstead would be protesting. And that’s my point; white folks are fair game because they're perceived to be lower on the victimhood ladder.
This recent article in the UK Daily Mirror is typical of SJW hate of white men. Apply the same bland sweeping arguments to any other group, then watch the uproar.
This artificial victimhood construct serves many of the SJW agendas. People pigeonholed by race, then ascribed prejudices based on that. Next, line them up in a pecking order. It's all strange. Those intent on this path are the people who decry any form of discrimination - except against white men.
All this would be mildly entertaining except for the consequences. I’d be prepared to ignore the SJWs given that most eventually grow up. Unfortunately, there is growing evidence that this discrimination is influencing legal decisions. A white man attacked on US TV by a self-proclaimed trans-gender and the police investigate. Legal advice recommends no prosecution on the grounds the culprit is a minority. The British police remove a man from the street in England because his views may upset some. He happens to be a white man. Meanwhile, the police ignore people inciting his murder. These are Asians.
The victimhood hierarchy appears to have entered the legal process. So much for justice being blind. Why can’t we just be nice to everyone.
Uproar at Buckingham Palace! HRH Colonel John Flogg-Bottom Smyth apologised for attending the Christmas Royal lunch in his Panzer Mark IV - ‘Old Bertha’. ‘Flogg-my-bottom’, as he is known in Royal circles and to the boys of Harrow’s fifth-form, issued the following statement,
“Mein Gott, had I known that Angela Meerkat was present I’d have left ‘Bertha’ at home. I apologise.”
The Internet was quick to point out it was inappropriate and insensitive for ‘Bertha’ to be out in cold weather, given that precarious state of the tank designed in 1939.
Colonel Flogg-Bottom is no stranger to controversy. In 2010, while leading his regiment, he accidentally invaded Poland. “Poor map reading, old boy” was the explanation as he marched his men through Warsaw.
The Colonel has a clouded history. He is believed to be the product of a liaison between Prince Phillip and Countess Von Trapp of Austria. At Eaton, Flogg-Bottom earned a reputation for helping the poor by allowing them to polish his shoes. Meanwhile, he employed two street urchins to carry his umbrella while out for a run. However, he once beat a boy to death for being ‘middle-class’. Charges were dropped against Colonel Flogg-Bottom because he went to college with the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Sir Roger Fitzpatrick, the Queen’s spokesman, and Meghan Markle are unavailable for comment.
Half of UK women report sexual harassment in the workplace. Similar figures arise in other places. In Asian societies, it’s doubtless under-reported.
And the trouble is, you are up against a deeply ingrained culture. Boys will be boys is the attitude. But get those boys to imagine it's their sister or wife who is on the receiving end of the sexual harassment. Then watch attitudes change.
The current furore is having an impact beyond Hollywood. As a man in a workplace populated by females, I’ve curtailed my jocular behaviour with female staff. I fear a misunderstanding leading to an accusation. The whole tone of my discourse with ladies has become less personal, more formal and guarded. I’m not sure that’s healthy.
The #Me Too movement that sprang up on the back of the Weinstein saga proved cathartic. It shone a light on unacceptable conduct, empowering women to speak out. And that’s a good thing. However, it's derailed to some extent by what are frivolous claims. A woman alleging a man holding a door open is committing sexual harassment (true story) detracts from the serious stuff.
I’ve seen my fair share of harassment, recognising that I’ve engaged in banter that some would find uncomfortable to hear. Much of that was alcohol-fueled bravado. It’s conduct I’d not join-in now. Times have changed.
For a new work-place climate men need to be involved. There’s not much sign that’s happening at the moment. We are still in the throws of an emerging story that is swallowing up the offenders on a daily basis. It’s too early to move into the neutral ground for a reasoned debate about how we redefine the conduct of both sexes.
Before that happens, both men and women need a consensus on what constitutes sexual harassment. Flirtation by either sex is now a high-risk activity because you don’t know how the other side will react. Exposure as an alleged culprit is a threatening situation. That does nothing to ease male/female relations.
I’ve seen many office romances, with a good number leading to happy marriages. I’ve also seen what can happen when an affair turns sour. Vitriolic imputation, allegations and general nastiness. None of this is pleasant. By imposing a blanket ban on workplace liaison, you may impact legitimate love. Is that something we’d like to see?
Without wishing to mitigate against the offensive conduct of some men, ladies are not above behaviours that are a concern. I've seen men chasing women, and by the same token, women chasing men in the workplace. In one case I saw a young lady transfer to work with a married boss. She then relentlessly pursued him. Such was her behaviour that it became a standing joke in the office.
She created situations to be alone with him, making signs that she was available, including dressing in a provocative manner. Her Friday ‘slut-look’ was awaited with glee. A warning from HR about her appearance failed to register. She caused a divorce. Her blatant actions, while extreme, laid bare the lie that only men are guilty of such behaviours. Granted she did not harass; her approach was seduction and teasing.
Ben Shapiro brought into sharp focus the double standards that permeate this issue. Ellen DeGeneres, a prominent lesbian, released a Twitter photo of herself ogling a women’s breasts. That this act raised no outcry, gets cited as hypocrisy.
Poor Matt Damon. He tried to start a discussion by suggesting that sexual harassment is a spectrum. What he missed is that as a ‘privileged white male’ his views are invalid. The feminist mafia immediately sought to shut him down by attacking him as a man. The validity of his argument doesn’t matter
Meanwhile, there is evidence that much of the sexual harassment training provided by companies is ineffective. Staff understand the issues, stride through the mandatory training, and then go about their business. The underlying culture remains unchanged.
What I would focus on is not discouraging workplace relationships, that’s an impossible task. Instead, sex between people in a direct reporting relationship needs addressing. The difference in rank and power amounts to coercion. Exploiting the hierarchy for sexual gain is the issue. Because, with a predominance of men in senior positions, women are placed at a distinct risk.
A taboo against supervisor-supervised sex would render the working relationship a neutral affair. Uncharged by any possibility. That’s the discussion we need to have.
To change behaviour, men and women need to work in concert. Giving men a kicking is easy, although ultimately this may prove unproductive. After all, nothing will change the culture quicker than having the men policing other men.
No matter how you cut it, Trump garnered most of the news this year. He’s shaken up everything. He’s exposed the weakness of democracy, flipping accepted conventions of their head. In the process kicking a lot of dogma into the long grass. Newspapers and TV stations no longer get to filter or twist presidential views. He talks to us directly through Twitter. It’s not refined, pretty nor nuanced - yet effective.
While Trump’s moral and intellectual turpitude is evident, he’s not mad as many would suggest. His recently announced ‘National Security Strategy’ is pragmatic in recognising that Obama failed. Running around the world seeking democratic transformations does not always produce welcome outcomes. Nor does it serve US interests. The Trump NSS rejects the over-reach of his predecessors. That means fewer innocents dying as misaimed missiles land in third world countries.
A change had to happen. The nauseating sense of entitlement that permeated Hillary Clinton’s campaign was palpable. Since arriving in the White House, Trump caused gasps of shock and amazement. The latest, recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, is long overdue. This demonstrates he’s not willing to collude in the endless UN talking shop without a solution in sight.
In the process, Trump has exposed the UN as a feeble entity. An unavailing forum that genuflects to all opinions, it spins in circles before doing nothing. It can’t even protect its troops from ramshackle rebel armies. Over Jerusalem, the US has called out nations that are willing to take American money in aid, then forego political support when it matters. On that score, Trump is right.
North Korea better take note. It’s not business as usual for them. The screw is tightening, as China now realises that the ending may be messy. Reports of provinces next to North Korea preparing for a refugee influx feed the view that we are moving to a dangerous phase. It’s sure that North Korea would falter if war came, the question is how much damage it would do in the process. There are twenty-five million people in South Korea within artillery range. If it kicks off, it will be unpleasant with profound damage. Then, what happens afterwards is unknown. How China reacts, it’s relationship with the US, the impact on world trade - all are essential unknowns.
Meanwhile, across in Europe, the vast multicultural project is unravelling. Islamic terrorists sealed its fate, as the indigenous people make their displeasure known. Even the once tolerant Danes have had enough. Attacks on young girls enjoying a night out in Manchester, vehicles ramming ordinary folks, knife attacks and more bombs. Our western culture is under assault. In turn, this feeds the popularity of the extreme far-right parties. Unless the centralists politicians can reclaim a dialogue of moderation, things will escalate in 2018.
With a doubt, the most downcast country in Europe is the UK. Let’s be honest; it’s a mess. Brexit is going nowhere. As things stand, the UK will de-facto remain under EU law without the power to influence policy. Prime Minister Teresa May has no plan. Making it up as she goes along. I’m amazed the woman remains in control given the fumbling policy reversals. With her party fighting amongst itself, she’s a chair filler. Her disastrous election campaign told us her judgement is wobbly. Thus, why is the UK leaving Brexit negotiations to her incompetence?
May faces an opposition Labour Party with no discernible policies beyond broad principles. Corbyn is keeping mum on Brexit because he’s either canny or clueless. He’s busy portraying himself as the next Prime Minister. Despite his popularity with the young, I don’t see middle-England electing him. His indecision over nuclear weapons and cover-ups of misconduct, don't play well.
The big question remains - will Brexit happen? The ghost of our saviour and messiah, Tony Blair, has arisen threatening to save us from that fate. Ignoring the fact that he’s as popular as a fart in the space suit; his usual over-confidence is to the fore. Alasdair ‘Goebbels’ Campbell will need all his dark power to resurrect Blair. Now that Murdoch is no longer on-side providing top cover, Blair is a much-weakened figure. His alleged ‘horizontal mambo’ with Wendie Deng is sending ripples beyond the bedchamber.
A burnout tower block, an aircraft-carrier without planes and faltering systems are symbols of 2017 Britain. Meanwhile, the police chase thought-crimes as rapes and robbery go undetected. The NHS remains in perpetual crisis. The list goes on. A bleak, but not inaccurate summary of the UK. Sadly, the UK is tied in knots, always has been, probably always will be, by tradition as a raison d’etre.
I suppose the only distraction for the Brits is the Markle makeover. A royal wedding is always useful to take people’s minds off their troubles. Of course, the media went into overdrive over the engagement of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle. The usual tripe about ‘redefining’ the monarchy ran amok. And yes, she’s ‘black’ - that had to be pointed out. Did anyone notice or care? I wish them well in their ‘goldfish bowl’ life.
Getting nearer to home - Hong Kong. The psychologists tell us that happiness comes from having low expectations. Thus, the Hong Kong people's delight with our new Chief Executive Carrie Lam abounds. A lifelong bureaucrat, she’s done nothing tangible since coming to office. For me, that’s an excellent thing. Keep the traffic flowing, crime in check, clean the air and ease business. Meanwhile, look after the needy. That’s about it.
Some would argue that Hong Kong is losing its shine. In their view, lacklustre officials, a stalemate in our parliament plus a general air of negativity pervade society. The assertion is the government fails to prove it has the interests of the majority at heart. It’s sure Carrie Lam has no vision that resonates with people. As a bureaucrat, her responses are rote, without much verifiable innovation. Yet, she’s a safe pair of hands who is not prone to rush thing.
It cannot go unremarked, that once reliable Hong Kong systems are starting to creak. The MTR has suffered some failures, indicative of slipping maintenance and deficient management. Our airport is no longer the showcase it was. Mainland airports are catching up, while Singapore’s Changi shames us. Persistent media reports suggesting the airport’s air traffic control system is faulty continue to surface. The veracity of this is hard to determine. Nonetheless, the damage is done.
On a related note, the lack of creativity in Hong Kong’s IT infrastructure draws unfavourable comparisons. The Mainland does better. Partly to blame is a fractured political situation. As all IT changes get viewed with a jaundiced eye by of the Pan-Dems, nothing happens. They see a Mainland bogeyman intent on suppression in all new technology. Like the original Luddites, change is an anathema to them. Those the benefits of facial recognition and e-commerce through electronic payments remain stalled.
Year by year China grows confident and assertive. President Xi in firm control, having harnessed the anti-corruption campaign to remove enemies. He keeps the disparate forces in check that seek to undermine China’s progress. Meanwhile, the bluster of Trump over trade is background noise. China has the fiscal and economic clout to ward off current threats.
It all sounds discouraging. Best begone 2017! Yet, on scale, things are as good as they’ve ever been. Human population growth is slowing. The scientists now foresee the numbers stabilising within decades. That should help with climate change. A woman’s right to live without sexual harassment gained significant traction. The nasty Weinstein saga has positives.
According to Prof. Steven Pinker of Harvard University, we are living in the most peaceful era since the existence of our species. Homicide, war-related deaths, genocide, rape, violence against children and terrorism are all declining. This decade-long process continues.
So, don’t be fooled by the constant intrusion of social media and the 24-hour news feed. A drip drip drip of images of doom and disaster gives a false impression. That's real fake news!
Somebody should tell the Hong Kong Pan-Dems to go away to study Sun Tzu’s ‘The Art of War’. Perhaps then, they’ll stop getting their bums kicked at every turn. Locked within Sun Tzu are secrets applying to any business, struggle or your personal life. Strategist Liddell Hart comments: “Sun Tzu has clear vision, profound insights, and eternal freshness.” These are qualities that evade the Pan-Dems.
The principles of strategy are the same for all people, all times, and in all situations. Sometimes the tactics change as circumstances dictate. We define Strategy as ‘doing the right thing,’ while tactics are about ‘doing things right.’ A subtle difference. Admiral Mahan in his seminal work on sea power noted that the point of ‘contact’ separates strategy from tactics. Contact with the enemy or a customer is the dividing line when you move from strategy to tactics. All the Pan-Dems know is tactics.
Using Sun Tzu, they’d do better. My favourite quote is: No victory is gained in the same manner as another. This crucial observation gets lost on the Pan-Dems, who have won some successes. But they then apply the same formula to each situation. Repetition is pure folly. One answer or response does not cover all cases. Customising approaches to conditions is crucial, especially when your opponents adapt. Filibustering is a classic example. The Pan-Dems deployed this with relentless passion. Then the opposition changed the rules. In a flash, your tactics are redundant!
What is difficult is to make a devious route the most direct, and to turn disadvantage into advantage. In other words, don’t attack head-on. That’s all the Pan Dems do. Charge, head-down at the opposition, all guns blazing. There’s no finesse, subtleness nor nuance.
To subdue the enemy without fighting is the supreme excellence. There’s no chance of that. Even those with moderate intelligence know not to fight every battle; you must pick your moments. Yet, the Pan-Dems are fighting on all fronts at once. As a consequence, they have no focus, little effective coordination and soon exhaust themselves. On a related point, Sun Tzu asserts: Fight only battles you can win. The stunning simplicity of this advice is resounding. But the Pan-Dem’s aren’t listening. Wrapped in their hubris, they’ve lost the plot.
Form a single united body in one place. This is the most significant failing of the Pan-Dems. They remain un-united, distrustful of each other; as well as lacking a unified strategy. Coming together for coffee mornings, lunch groups or forums cannot replace the utility of a single command. Add to that the fact that they are in a constant state flux. Parties form, then break up, as fractions detach to move on. Time and energy get wasted on internal struggles, with minor details mulled over in endless debate. That’s why the ‘united front’ forces of the pro-government camp will always defeat them.
Irrational dogma hangs like stale cigarette smoke over the Pan-Dems. Their every move tainted by stupidity. CHU Hoi-dick introduces a motion to ban the press from LegCo, announcing he’ll vote against it. Then, we have a disgusting exploitive act by Chan Chi-chuen of the radical group People Power.
On this week’s 80th anniversary of the Nanking massacre, in a sudden he seeks to introduce a motion to debate the historical tragedy. This is a guy who has decried China time and time again. It’s not that he is an instant patriot. His aim made clear; he sought to delay debating the LegCo rulebook change. This is a man who would use the rape of women, the massacre of children and the destruction of a city, to score a political point.
On second thoughts, the Pan-Dems don’t need Sun Tze. They need a lesson in common human decency.
Disclaimer: Plot spoiler alert. Plus, you need to know that I’m a Star War’s fanboy. If you’re looking for an unbiased critique, go elsewhere. Just saying. The Last Jedi shakes up the Star Wars genre. Some of the die-hard fans don’t like that. More on their reaction later.
For openers, a couple of moments took my breath away. Luke tossing the lightsaber over his shoulder, down a cliff, is priceless. This flipped the mood of the whole scene, in an instant evaporating the solemnness of Rey’s actions. Then you’ve got R2D2 replaying Princess Leia’s original hologram: “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope.” Luke unimpressed, “That’s a cheap move.”
The plot unfolds as the Skywalkers fight their dark side while dashing across the void. A compelling multi-layered generational angst, with a few twists. Plus, they don’t always win.
It's well acted - Mark Hamill absolutely kills it. Daisy Ridley starts off weak, but when bouncing off Adam Driver, she’s electric. Carrie Fisher in her final role is every bit the Leia we've come to know and love, and then some. She’s regal, aloof at times, but always poised. Although it has to be said, I didn’t appreciate the ‘Mary Poppins’ scene - watch it, and you’ll understand. This farcical moment needs deleting from the movie and my memory.
New character Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) steals scenes all over the place. She’s no beauty, although an inner strength allied to basic decency shines through. She’s captivating to watch. Meanwhile, Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren has grown into the role. He’s a worthy successor to Darth Vader. For me, Benicio del Toro as DJ didn’t shine. He mumbled his lines.
Inevitably, speculation is rife that Rey is Luke’s daughter, the secret child of Han and Leia, or even a descendant of the Emperor Palpatine. Kylo Ren tells her otherwise, but is that the truth? We don’t get an answer.
John William’s score shines as always. The two suns scene still brings a lump to my throat. The music is fantastic, underscored by the use of silence. This works well in the destruction of the dreadnaught spaceship. I’ll always love a film that knows how to use its quiet moments. The homage to Kurosawa that has echoed throughout the Star Wars films reverbs again. Luke exiting the base on Planet Crait is a direct steal from Ran - as the King leaves the burning palace. The lightsaber fight in Snoke’s throne-room borrows from Kurosawa’s style, colouration and pacing.
It’s obvious they created set pieces designed to launch new toys. The big-eyed Porgs will go down well with the kids. The Ewoks became a pop-culture sensation; Porgs are on the same trajectory. But is there a dark side here? The question is, does Chewie eat them? An adult Wookiee requires between 3,500 and 6,000 calories a day, so you can’t exactly blame Chewbacca. Why do I know that?
A couple of amusing moments of humour work well. Watch out for the exchange between General Hux and Kylo Ren in the Walker. Kylo Ren looks like he’s about to break the fourth wall. I couldn't stop laughing.
Some fanboys are less than impressed. Check out their reviews on IMDB. For them 'The Last Jedi' breaks the Star War’s canon, although how is never quite explained. The negative opinions seem to come from old, hardcore fans, who are never satisfied. They complained about George Lucas' prequels, and now they complain about the latest offerings. (Except I agree, JaJa Binks was a travesty). Frankly, I don't think they know what they want. In their world nothing can evolve, time stopped with the ‘Empire Strikes Back’. They’d do well to reflect on Lukes line "This is not going to go the way you think."
Granted there a couple of massive plot holes, big enough to drive the Death Star through. Why didn’t Vice Admiral Holdo turn the spaceship earlier to defend her escaping transports? How come Rey is a qualified Jedi having done the equivalent of the short course? How come Leia can fly like Mary Poppins through space - sorry that really did bug me!
There are a few deviations the story could take that would trim the movie without losing a whole lot of necessary plot points or character progression. For starters, the entire casino thing on Canto Bight is redundant. Some of the long-distance chat between Rey and Kylo Ren is protracted. Nonetheless, the pacing is frantic.
So, this story brings the unexpected, shifts the profile of the saga and doesn’t take itself too seriously. Which is what it shares in common with ‘The Empire Strikes Back’, and that's every bit a good thing. Here’s a Star Wars movie that is a genuine evolution of canon.
Kyoiku-mama’ is a Japanese word. It’s assigned to the relentless mother, who pushes her children towards academic achievement no matter the cost. The fact that a word exists for this behaviour is striking. They also go by the name ‘Helicopter Mum’ or ‘Tiger Mum'. You can see them everywhere in Hong Kong.
The first sign is the sullen oppressed child in tow, with the Amah carrying the school bags. The Tiger has her mobile phone plugged to her head. She’ll be barking orders to the second Amah or trying to get a lesson because the kids got a 30-minute gap in his schedule. Downtime is not allowed. Organised play is the norm; marshalled with tight control. Spontaneity is not a word that has entered the Tiger Mums lexicon.
No wonder kids in Hong Kong are not happy. Even the schools are getting in on the act by demanding kids take extra lessons. It’s all a scam that generates money. The outcome, at best, is somewhat disturbed, unproductive, rote-learning automatons. Why Hong Kong kids need this brutal regime of education escapes me. Children in Europe do well with much less drilling.
And then the consequences can sometimes be terrible. My first week as a young inspector had me perched on a rooftop trying to talk down an adolescent girl. She'd failed her exams. Under tremendous parental pressure to succeed, emotional and drained, she sought a quick way out. She took that option and left me shaken. That was 1981. Things got exponentially worse since then. I’ve lost count of the number of child suicides that I attended in 36 years service on the Force. The one common factor was timing - it happens around exams or when the results come out. That points to the cause.
Suicides by children and adolescents account for a quarter of all deaths from unnatural causes in Hong Kong. Further, a survey this year found that 31 percent of primary school children had contemplated suicide. That’s a huge finding. It pulls back the curtain, to reveal the dark underbelly of Hong Kong’s education system.
Hong Kong parents think nothing of their kid spending 15 hours a day studying. Much of this is rote stuff for some test. It’s all soon forgotten and worthless. Kids are put off by this regimented relentless rote-learning rot. Some turn against education, some just surrender and others kill themselves. That’s Hong Kong’s dirty secret.
It all starts early. Kids as young as two-years old go through exams, including admission tests for kindergarten. It's something unheard of in Western countries. With testing a constant theme in Hong Kong, the effects are counterproductive.
I’ve had direct experience of these matters. My daughter entered a prominent Chinese primary school to be immediately given two-hours homework a night. She was five years old. Testing was a daily event. When she failed, humiliating punishments came her way. With her stress-levels rising, disrupted sleep and an unsympathetic school, my wife and I put a stop to this nonsense. We withdrew her. I tried to speak to the headmaster. What I found is arrogance, matched only by stupidity. He didn’t like my challenge or questions on his methods. That told me everything.
Stunned friends and relatives expressed surprise. We'd won a place at such an esteemed school, then pulled the plug. To me, it was a rational decision. A name amounts to nothing when a school is failing to display basic humanity. My daughter went on to excell in a sensible school environment. Thankfully, we rescued her before lasting damage.
What strikes me is she has a career in a job that didn’t exist when she entered schooling. The world of work is changing. Grades and results are losing their currency. In the future workplace what matters is ideas, creativeness and experimentation. Traits like emotional intelligence, self-confidence plus a willingness to experience failure are needed. Boredom and downtime have merits because it allows free-wheeling thought processes. These produce innovation. Rote drills for testing has the opposite impact. It turns kids off education, while giving false hope to those capable of recalling facts. That something a computer can do.
‘Failure is the best teacher’ to quote Luke Skywalker. Unfortunately, Hong Kong kids aren’t allowed to fail until it’s too late. A lack of unstructured play with other kids, the constant supervision and hovering parents, leaves them lost in the real world. Having not experienced much interaction with others, their problem solving skills are immature. Unusual environments disorientate them. In 2016, a survey found Hong Kong children get less outdoor time than prisoners in our jails.
Government officials are part of the problem. Locked in an old-world mentality of testing and grades; their policies fail the kids. Can any of them point to a study that validates all this testing? I’d like to see that review. To me, it's lazy to assume testing works. What is certain is that testing is easy for teachers. Instead of exciting lessons to foster student interest, you download a load of facts to them. Next, you test their retention. Bingo. That’s Hong Kong teaching.
As I write this, I can hear a neighbour scolding her 6-year old daughter over homework. It’s 9 p.m. What’s baffling is that parents have a genuine love their children, believing they are doing the right thing. Sad to say, Hong Kong parents are in denial about the damage they are doing to their kids. Regrettably, nothing will change until they wake from their illusions.
Get ready folks. You’re going to have to learn a whole new lexicon because a tiny minority is imposing their distorted agenda. It’s already occurring across the US and in Canada. And it’s creeping into other places. Soon words like ‘he’ and ‘she’ may be deemed offensive in law. Don’t laugh! I’m not being alarmist; it’s happening.
Radicals in the transgender community have hijacked legal systems for their destructive agenda. If you don’t use the words, they insist on, be ready to face the law for so-called ‘hate speech’. These PC fascists seek to dominate us, then force their will on the public by shutting down free speech.
This debate is not about sexual politics. That’s an issue that does not concern me in the least. What does interest me, is free speech. The question must be how we can sustain free speech when laws control language?
Fortunately, Hong Kong remains unencumbered by the extreme elements of PC nonsense. Although, if given space, you can expect the radicals to take ground to impose their ways.
PC had a purpose in its first iteration. It helped stop the strong abusing the weak by fostering a change in culture. This approach pushed organisations to recognise the underdog and the oppressed. That’s a good thing. Let’s be clear; you can choose to call yourself what you like. What you shouldn’t be doing is using the law to enforce that on other people.
Further, people have a right to be offended. I’m comfortable with that. I take my fair share of criticism and ribbing as part of being an adult. Although I never feel the need to call upon the law to protect me from someone who calls me “Baldy” or “You fat bastard”.
Most would feel it’s gone too far when you can’t ask for white coffee because that ‘perpetuates the repression of black people’. You've got to laugh when the Students Union bans Mexican hats for being racist. I’m sorry, that’s nonsense.
Then the whole pronoun saga escalates the silliness to new heights. In June this year laws were introduced in Canada to give legal effect to this issue. The use of the wrong pronoun can invite legal action. Why governments need to intervene and dictate words is beyond me. It sounds a lot like North Korea or Nazi Germany.
Depending who you ask, there up to 31 pronouns that the self-appointed arbiters of language wish to impose on us. It’s all baffling, with a hint of Animal Farm.
I'd venture that by the start of the twenty-first century, we'd banked the gains from the PC approach. Women’s rights are on track; while gays, minorities and the disabled are making significant progress. Yes, there are outstanding issues, but PC culture is now producing diminishing returns. It’s working against itself, as the majority baulks against the zealots.
There are voices in the transgender community that oppose these provisions. These people recognise that the law is counter-productive as it fosters resentment. Forcing people to change their outlook in such a manner may well drive a wedge between people.
Meanwhile, the radicals are doubling-down on their resolve to create new would-be victims. To help this new ‘victim class,’ they’ve invented labels and identities. Next step is to fabricate prejudice against these people that I didn’t even know existed. How can I form an opinion, when I’m not sure what ‘binary’ means? But no worries, as a white male I’m assumed to hate them; they’ve decided that for me.
This folly is feeding self-entitlement on an industrial scale. The clumsy handling of gender issues by the radicals is symptomatic of a broader problem with the PC culture. It poisons the debate.
In Britain, genuflecting state-funded entities drive this change to appease a few. The consent of the majority ignored. Here’s how it works. We know that 80% of Brits favour less immigration to the UK. All the same, you can’t discuss this subject without accusations of racism or a hate crime. Those brave souls who raise the issue face a barrage of attacks, which shut down the debate. The attackers aim to close the public space for discussion by intimidating people. Remember Gillian Duffy? That incident pulled back the curtain on the insidious nature of the PC cult.
Antidotal evidence suggests that driving the rise of the PC culture is a decline in the study of science. Emotion now takes precedence. Thus, this anti-intellectual phenomenon seeks to challenge the strides we have made as humans.
Such courses as ‘Women Studies’ foster a culture of victimhood. Participants are not taught critical thinking, with the application of truths and facts. Instead, they immerse themselves in a world dominated by evil white males. These white men are intent on nasty deeds. Everything gets viewed through the prism of distrust, tinged with a strong sentiment of repression.
Ignored is that millions of men and women worked for centuries to construct a society that nurtured, fed and sheltered these people. The people who now call themselves victims. The victims overlook that they are the lucky generation. No large-scale wars, food in their bellies, and laid out before them is every opportunity. Nonetheless, they are the victims.
And that self-appointed victim status gives them privileges. Included in that is the right to tell the rest of us what to say and think.
And this has consequences. When the tenets of the PC culture apply in public policy areas, the outcomes are not good. For example, to avoid offending migrants, they are not expected to integrate. Thus, in the UK parts of the country are non-English speaking. Nor did they adopt the customs or civilities of their host nation. In turn, this creates grievances in the indigenous people. Woe-betide the unfortunate soul that dares to point this out …‘racist’.
Islamic terrorism has exposed the stupidity of a PC culture. With the British Police afraid to speak truths, threats go unaddressed. The hypocrisy of this situation is overwhelming. Research in the UK has revealed that 80% of grooming cases of underage girls involve Asian males. Police Forces struggled to recognise this because race is a factor. They’re afraid of citations for discrimination. Even so, they had no such difficulty to discuss the fact that 90% of paedophiles are white Anglo Saxon males. Can you spot the difference?
It's evident that the war on terror demands that we assert from where comes the threat. It's young males in a specific community, many of whom are religious fanatics. No matter, the SJW warriors using PC culture won’t allow such discussions. Thereby, facilitating the modern terrorist.
People struggling with issues of gender deserve sympathy and support. What they don’t need is laws that force the rest of us to speak with certain words. That’s nothing more than extreme social engineering
If we allow this to continue can we pick our pronouns? If yes, I henceforth will be ‘Walter the Magnificent, Lord Of the Known Universe'. If you don’t use the correct pronoun, I’ll get upset, then call the Police!
I was vaguely aware of Katie Hopkins. Then recently she dropped into my Youtube listings. It's common knowledge that she upsets a large number of folks with her strident opinions. Plus, her occasional use of offensive language attracted the ire of much of the liberal media. I suppose she’s vilified most for her ‘cockroaches’ remark, aimed at refugees crossing the Mediterranean Sea. It’s understandable that many took exception to that.
On occasions, she is prone to firing off opinions without thinking. This approach earned her the title of professional 'gobshite'. She has faced legal action on many occasions. Earlier this year she was found guilty of libel for tweets suggesting an activist defaced a war memorial. That piece of stupidity cost her over £300,000-.
What strikes the observer is that Hopkins remains defiant, unbowed, the unrepentant sinner. Her instances of libel expose her to criticism and with good reason. And yet, there is another dynamic at work here that makes Hopkins a fascinating character. She confounds many on the left, upsetting them by exposing their hypocrisy.
I’d recommend watching her address to the Cambridge University Union. Set aside any ideological baggage before rushing to judgement. Approach it with an open mind to allow the coherence of her opinions to come across. No doubt many filter her stance through the prism of their prejudices. They cite views that Hopkins is a wicked person, without bothering to engage her arguments. It’s classic play the man or woman, not the ball stuff.
Note in the clip that Hopkins needs a bodyguard, while outside you can hear protests. The bodyguard is in response to threats to harm Hopkins. This is real stuff. A Muslim man is in jail for plotting to behead her. The protest you hear is a part of the ‘no-platform’ campaign, with efforts to shut down debate. It appears some students are too delicate; their sensibilities can't handle the opposite. Instead of engaging Hopkins in rational discussion, the mob adopts the lazy approach of banning her.
It’s bizarre that the ‘no-platform’ and the attack on free speech should arise at a university. If students aren’t able to listen to alternative opinions, then to make a cogent counter-argument, they shouldn’t be at college.
In no way do I seek to defend her nor do I agree with everything Hopkins has to say. Some of it is vile stuff, which I suspect she utters for impact. She acknowledges using her female status to point out issues that a man could not address. In that sense, some of her posturing is a nuanced performance designed for effect.
With her engaging, bouncy manner, she disarms an audience. Then, in the next breath, shocks them with a remark. Her style is to dominate the room with a school teacher bossiness, tied to a fearless demeanour. The defensive body language from the students in Cambridge tells of their apprehension. It’s all a bit bonkers at times but effective.
The Cambridge encounter saw her audience intimidated, then shocked, before they lapsed into bafflement. Throughout Hopkins stood resolute in their ‘safe space’ batting questions to the rafters. She took delight in not taking offence, then offending them. The tone of student questions indicated their annoyance. They resorted to challenging her motives because none of them had a decent argument against her. Wit mitigated any venom in her responses. Disarming observations such as “You’ve got lovely skin, my dear” unsettled them.
Quotes such as “Feminists don’t get it. Marching around city centres wearing silly hats doesn’t achieve anything” capture the cop out of the left. Why they aren’t protesting the treatment of their sisters elsewhere in the world remains a mystery. “I prefer my royals ice-cold like Princess Anne” struck a chord. Modern royals trying too hard to be trendy don’t cut the grade.
It has to be said that rational thought does not support some of her ideas. Nor is she always honest with the facts. Her inane opinions on children’s names are laughable.
None of this detracts from her central theme and greatest strength. That is arguing that free speech is under attack. In this domain, her arguments are solid, eloquent, sometimes humorous and unassailable. To those perpetrating the shut down of free speech, Hopkins is controversial. To those who embrace genuine openness, she’s a standard bearer.
Hopkins most significant achievement is that she exposes the underlying hypocrisy and deceit of the left. Why is it acceptable to criticise Israel, but not Palestine? Why are there no feminists on a sinking ship? Why can’t fat people address their situation with exercise and self-control?
The left struggles to bring any cogent positions forward in the face of her bombardment of their hallowed ideas. Usually, they adopt the simple tactic of seeking to shame her or challenge her integrity. In one instance, a fat lady stormed out of a TV studio to call the police after Hopkins spoke. Like the students in Cambridge, they'd rather shut her down then deal with her.
These ad hominem attacks usually take the form of alleging Hopkins is an extremist. Again, this is a lazy position to adopt. It frees the accuser from stating a valid opinion, as the focus switches to a person's character. This gets further switched around and embellished by association.
“That’s what racists say” get used to dismiss a truth. Rational folks will recognise that the facts, or otherwise, does not depend on who supports the issue or past links. In turn, this leads to guilt by association. The Soviet Union and Nazi Germany used this powerful tool to root out dissidents. These days the left uses that same approach to silence its opponents.
In 2015 Labour MP Simon Danczak reported Hopkins to the police. Her alleged crime was commenting on the Rochdale sex trafficking scandal with facts. She repeated that Muslim men perpetrated the crimes. This blatant suppression of free speech wasted tax payer’s money and took the police away from more pressing matters. Unafraid, Hopkins continues to speak out.
At times, what she has to say is uncomfortable. At times it's upsetting. What you can’t deny is the ring of truth in it. That kernel of integrity then exposes a higher truth, which rejects the narrative sold by the mainstream media. She calls out the intolerant, sanctimonious moral superiority of the SJWs and their dopey friends. I’m glad we have Katie Hopkins in the world, warts and all.
Hong Kong qualifies as the world's largest gated community. It exists in a bubble surrounded by its Mainland host. The word ‘host’ is most appropriate given the parasitic nature of Hong Kong's economy. Despite what some may think, Hong Kong could not exist without China’s largess.
The reality is total reliance on the Mainland. This situation emphatically undermines the non-sensical calls for independence. Setting aside the fact that Beijing would never entertain such a move, more practical issues arise.
Hong Kong has a reputation as a food hub. You can experience everything from the most elegant dining to superb street food. However, virtually none of that food gets grown here. Depending who you ask, between 90 and 95 percent is imported. China accounts for 92 percent of Hong Kong's fresh vegetables and 97 percent of its fish. On an average day, 34 tons of poultry, 4,300 pigs and 80 cows cross the boundary to feed hungry stomachs. Without China’s efforts in growing, harvesting and distributing produce, this city starves.
Water is another product that the Mainland supplies Hong Kong in abundance. In 1980, 34 percent of the cities water came from the Mainland. Since then the rapid population expansion pushed up demand. With limited space for infrastructure, water independence was never a realistic prospect. Even as late as 1982, Hong Kong experienced water rationing because the supply couldn’t match demand.
For the city to grow it needed to rely on Guangdong as its hinterland. China met that demand. Today, 70 percent of our water flows from the Dongjiang River in Guangdong. That water played a silent role in the negotiations between Britain and China over Hong Kong's future. While never deployed as a bargaining chip, Britain recognised its position. Without water from the Mainland, Hong Kong ran dry in a matter of weeks.
Next is electricity. To keep all those air-conditioners running, Hong Kong's demands are enormous. Just over 50% gets generated on the Mainland; 25 percent from nuclear and 25 percent from natural gas. That gas arrives by pipeline from Hainan Island.
Often overlooked is that physical proximity has impacts. Hong Kong airspace needs to integrate with that of Macau and neighbouring provinces. A plane lifting off from Chep Lap Kok enters Macau airspace within a minute, and should it turn right Shenzhen’s. All that activity needs coordinating in a trilateral agreement that ensures safety.
Visitors are surprised to see that Hong Kong, 20 years after the handover, remains separated from the Mainland. Border controls are in place, with a large fence marking the land boundary. Access is controlled, with both sides mounting patrols. Likewise, at sea, the Marine Police keep a watchful eye. These arrangements prove a unique status.
Political scientists take the view that Beijing would only restrict or cut-off necessities as a last resort. Once done, it’s likely to produce a reaction with unknown consequences. That does not deny the power of the threat. That's something the independent seekers need to reflect on.
The Beijing government has earned the colloquial name 'A Gung’. In English that's ‘Grandpa.’ This moniker does two things at once; it offers a sense of benevolence, yet with controlling Confucius undertones.
At the moment Beijing's approach is paternalistic. It has pulled out all the stops to assist Hong Kong's economic growth. Such moves serve the interests of Hong Kong, but also Beijing’s broader agenda. In effect, Hong Kong is ring-fenced, shielded from many of the vicissitudes of the world.
All this demonstrates a salient fact, Hong Kong is co-joined to the Mainland. These links are at many levels and across many arenas. The folly of the independence seekers comes into focus by these deep connections.
The advocates of independence ignore specific facts and, to put it mildly, are woefully immature. First, Beijing will never allow separation. Even a non-communist China would not entertain such an idea given the history. Second, Hong Kong’s overwhelming reliance on China means it holds no bargaining chips. Thirdly, Hong Kong has no army to enforce its will.
Lastly, the rest of the world recognises Hong Kong as an integral part of China. Thus, the independence advocates have no hinterland of support beyond partisan interests. Politicians in the West will make noises, expressing tacit support. Beyond that their words are empty as talk is cheap. They use the independence issue for political leverage only.
Hong Kong doesn’t make anything; it has no resources beyond the energy and acumen of its people. For businesses to survive here, a peaceful environment is a must. That stability is not only beneficial, but crucial. Thus, wake up and recognise you’ve got a favourable deal people. I've made the case that our economy is dependent on the Mainland. Meanwhile, Hong Kong retains its separation like a vast gated community.
Enjoy the sanctuary of your protected place, because once the fence comes down, it's a rough and tumble world that awaits.
Political correctness, and its cousin, the ‘politics of denial’ continue to gather pace in the UK. Rational debate shut down; public space closed for those who don’t tow the line or dare to put forward contrary opinions. The self-appointed arbiters of the debate-space will end any argument that contradicts them. It’s not a state of affairs we must accept.
PC arose in the 1960s hippy era to help generate tolerance. People who were different didn't want to feel intimidated by specific words, which got dropped from use. This encouraged inclusiveness. Then in the 1990s, the radical left imposed its agenda, through liberal arts courses at universities. Soon the PC culture spread out into all aspects of life. Along the way, evolving into a tool of control.
Our media, politicians and commentators bullied into adopting it, even when it meant distorting facts. Law enforcement, striving to overcome repeated acts of unprofessionalism, sought favour. Police chiefs dived into the PC culture headfirst. Postmodernism, with its rejection of the enlightenment and science, drove the spread.
In turn, this led to the rise of identity politics. The tenets of which are intellectually lazy, yet appealing to the naive. Students taught these ideas learn that when things go wrong, its the fault of the system and you’re a victim. Victimhood is, of course, a cop out. It’s easy to say “I didn’t get the job because I’m the wrong race” or “Promotion was denied by my gender”. These mantras free the individual of the opportunity to examine themselves. Fundamentally, it’s dishonest.
Plus, once you’re a victim that entitles you to fight back by all means. Including adopting the unlawful because you occupy the high moral ground. Let’s not forget that the Nazi’s portrayed themselves as victims of an alleged Jewish conspiracy. This attitude then justified their ‘harsh measures, which in time led to the gassing of six million.
Today there exists a conspiracy of silence that ignores stark issues. For example, you can’t voice out that radicalised Muslims are predominantly responsible for terrorist attacks in the UK. Neither can you say the name of groups accountable for grooming young girls for sex. In Rotherham 1,400 abused girls passed through the hands of a Muslim gang. Plain-speaking Muslim commentator Yasmin Alibhai-Brown has set out the issues. She said,
“I partly blame the families and communities. Too many Asian mothers spoil their boys, undervalue their girls and demean their daughters-in-law. Within some British Asian circles, the West is considered degenerate and immoral. So it is OK to take their girls and ruin them further. Some of the fiercest rows I have ever had have been with Asian women who hold these disgusting views.”
To me, it denigrates the majority of law-abiding British Muslims that we are not prepared to call out the radicals or sex offenders. Public figures are cowed and fearful of PC oafs, while communities are being held hostage to a distorted agenda.
With free speech under threat from the left, the SJW don't want a debate, but to impose their will. They even restrict respected figures from the left with whom they disagree.
All this is producing a backlash that gave us Trump and Brexit. Communities polarise, as communication halts. When folks can’t have an open debate in the middle ground, they move to occupy the radical ends of the political spectrum.
The bullying rhetoric of the SJWs has consequences that are bizarre. Take for instance Hertfordshire Police. Earlier this year, a staff member received through the internal police mail a cartoon about Islamic terrorists. The picture is a cutting from the satirical magazine Private Eye. It mocks the failure of the UK intelligence services. The recipient happens to be a Muslim. What transpires next is astonishing. The Police demand that Private Eye hand over its subscriber list.
When declined, the Police seek a production order under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act. Chief Inspector Adam Gallop asserts the subscriber list will help them narrow down who sent the cartoon. This approach ignores the fact that most Private Eyes get sold through supermarkets and newsagents. Fortunately, Judge Farrell ruled the Police action was disproportionate. He suggested the Police were taking a ‘shot in the dark.’ Private Eye won the case, and the Police went away chastened.
No one questions that the Police need to deal with internal racism, but is it wise to behave like this? Throwing so much time and money at this case is questionable. In the meantime, Hertfordshire Police have many unsolved crimes on their books. Could Chief Inspector Gallop be better deployed investigating this?
The UK’s response to the threat of terrorism is emblematic of the PC approach. It distorts the truth so as not to offend. Instead of dealing with the real issue, the risk of Islamic terrorists, we get a lame story called 'Moggy's Coming’. Part of an effort to educate children, this tale is revealing about the cowed status of officials. In place of being honest, they produce a book on how to deal with a terrorist attack with the kids as mice. The terrorist is a cat. The authors negotiated a minefield of political correctness as the children scurry away to hide from the cat.
The U.K. suffered five terrorist attacks in as many months. Nobody called John Smith, or Roger Winterbottom was responsible. Nor was a cat. British politicians are running scared and afraid to say it. If they do, the SJWs will play the racist card to shut down the debate.
Meanwhile, Britains counter-extremist policy remains a complete mess. Things must be wrong because even the liberals at the Guardian are getting annoyed. Some time ago, the CIA decided it can no longer sit back relying on the British intelligence services. It’s mounting operations in the north of England around ‘certain’ communities in Leeds and Bradford. As one operator put it “Britain’s most significant export ... radicalised Islamists’.
How far does this nonsense go? How far is the policing of language generating into normal life? Ask Joshua Sutcliffe. The Oxford-based teacher is suspended for accidentally calling a transgender pupil ‘girl’. He awaits a disciplinary hearing for ‘misgendering’. Sutcliffe was complimenting his pupils for good work in a maths lesson when he uttered the terrible words “Well done Girls!”. One of the teenage ’girls’ apparently identifies as a ‘boy’ although he/she is biologically a female. Also, it took six weeks for the complaint to arrive.
Sutcliffe is a self-effacing, earnest man, who by all accounts is an excellent teacher. He now faces charges because some snowflake was offended by the word ‘girl’. It’s gone too far and is beyond the pale. Former Conservative Party chairman Lord Tebbit commented “It seems to me this is a mad world when someone gets disciplined for stating a biological fact’. Indeed, but that’s what happens.”
In the world of the SJWs, as a white male, I’m automatically judged incompetent to comment. More than that, white men are being excluded from police recruit seminars. The British Transport Police assert no one faces discrimination in their recruitment process. And yet, white guys can’t attend their workshops. Go figure.
By shutting down a rational examination of problems, PC harms those it intends to help. It creates victims. People then blame others for their troubles, thus discouraging them from taking responsibility. Self-inflicted problems, like drug abuse, are attributed to others. Playing the victim card is now the default reaction.
Compromised institutions and law enforcement is the result. The integrity of investigations undermined as officers fear offending groups or cultures. Policy and procedures are formulated to stop even the mildest offence or opposing opinion that may displease. If genuine progress is the aim, the debate needs reasoning, facts and understanding, rather than emotion, dogma, and an intolerance of dissent. But you’ve got to laugh at the SJWs.
The ascent of Trump illustrates the great failing of democracy. On occasions, the public makes poor choices that don’t serve their best interests. Brexit is another example. As far back the 1800s, philosophers identified this challenge. They cited opinions that some people are not qualified to vote or are unwise in their choices. Thus, the view formed that mass democracy led to poor outcomes. Women and so-called 'lesser' elements faced exclusion based on these ideas.
Women held to be irrational, emotionally ill-equipped for debating and selecting leaders. No one would dare utter such a point these days, yet a few are willing to use similar illogical ideas to hold back democracy.
It’s often forgotten women only got the UK vote in 1929, while full male participation came in 1918. By then the sacrifice of the working classes in the trenches of Europe made it impossible to deny them a vote.
Some of the arguments against democracy, dispelled in the West, continue to reverb in Hong Kong. Let us wander through these various assertions, positions and arguments about democracy. Keep in mind democracy is by no means sure to arise nor does it always survive. Moreover, it may not serve the best interests of the people it purports to represent. In recent times, President Clinton portrayed himself as a liberal friend of the working class. Meanwhile, he served the money men in Wall Street.
Such uncomfortable truths don’t sit well with the ardent pro-democracy types in Hong Kong. Blind faith in one man, one vote ignores a great deal of history. It also digs them into a trench that has left them beleaguered in the face of Beijing’s stance.
In 1859, philosopher John Stuart Mills made the case opposing mass democracy. He maintained that only those with qualifications and a sense of responsibility should vote. Accompanying that criteria are the payment of direct taxes. He thought citizens would be prudent in picking leaders when their own money was at stake.
One man, one vote he felt was wrong. He proposed a system that does not look unfamiliar to Hong Kong people. In essence, professional folks get more votes. A lawyer, doctor, or vicar gets six votes, while the ordinary citizen gets one vote. This situation is not dissimilar to the functional constituency model applied here. The professional classes have the privilege of more votes in the selection of legislative council members.
Walter Bagehot’s seminal work ‘The English Constitution’ published in 1866 took a similar position. He held that excluding the working class was acceptable. After all, he asserted, the ruling should rest with the dignified people.
Around the same time, conservative Italian scholars took the view that democracy was pointless. In their judgment, no matter the system, the same groups hi-jack the process to protect their vested interest. Karl Marx made a similar observation. He put forward the idea that an extended franchise would not improve the prospects of the poor. He felt elite-rule would continue in a different form.
There is evidence for this in the manner that US democracy has evolved. Funding from powerful interest groups drives the process, buying them unparalleled access. They enjoy influence not given ordinary folks. What could be more terrifying for the Hong Kong’s Pan-Democrats than to see their opponents rise through a democratic election? Possibly, having to form a coalition because they lack expertise or a majority. Democracy is a fickle mistress.
There is ample evidence in the modern world that the elites feel the ordinary citizen is not qualified to make sensible choices. Such an opinion holds little substance when universal education abounds. Plus, access to information is much more straightforward these days. With the Internet, we have free reign.
Whether this forum provides balanced views, without undue manipulation, is a debatable point. Nonetheless, it allows us all unparalleled access to information before held by a few. Never in the history of humanity have so many people had such access to information, opinions and data.
Granted, the amount of information can be overwhelming at times. People need to be discerning, while also cognizant of ‘fake news’ in all its forms. Unfortunately, the Internet alone does not assure that we make decisions based on facts. Trump won despite that he demonstrated an indifference to the truth. In many ways, the Internet reinforces established opinions in a self-serving feedback loop. That’s a concern given the polarisation we are seeing.
It's arguable that people remain hampered in their choices by Internet-based algorithms. These pre-select content and news for us. The full impact of this is not understood.
UK’s Brexit vote offers a notable example of opinion swayed by misinformation. Bland promises, with sweeping statements, created the mass appeal of a bright future in ‘sunlit uplands’. Once the detail came into focus, the UK public had a realisation that this was a nuanced issue. Black and white messages faded to grey foggy detail. A myriad of minutia dotted the political landscape.
Brexit also exemplified that democracy does not always produce the best outcomes for the people it claims to serve. With a full understanding of the impact of Brexit, the British may have gone a different way. Now faced with potential economic disaster, many are wishing they could go back in time.
Which leads to an assertion that the public is mercurial. Switching opinions as fickle sentiment shifts, they flip their views without much thought. The long-term consequences of such flip-flopping are confusion. The business of running a country needs consistency over time, with a clear direction. Democracy can subvert that process.
China’s strategic drive to modernise has benefited from consistent policies, enforced by a strict doctrine. This approach has lifted the highest number of people in history out of poverty. It’s an approach that is not without its notable downsides, yet until now its borne fruit for the majority. That achievement can’t get ignored.
Next up is the suggestion that people are uninterested, especially if comfortable. Look after their basic needs, keep them fed, watered and entertained. They’ll be content to get on with life. China’s approach has elements of that. Useful distractions are sport, TV and gossip about celebrities. Meanwhile, having a Royal Family to generate a bit of preoccupation can work wonders. They get rolled out at times of difficulty. How fortunate that Prince Harry’s wedding announcement comes now. An embattled government struggling with Brexit needs some cover. Failing that, summon up a bit of salacious scandal to draw the public’s attention away.
It's unavoidable that democracy has negative repercussions on infrastructure projects. Even when a robust economic case exists, the plans remain stalled. Endless rounds of consultation, listening to opinions and filibustering creates delays. A case in point is Heathrow’s third runway. Debated for over a decade; a decision remains some time off. In the meantime, Hong Kong comes to prompt decisions to reap the financial benefits. A lack of advancement in the UK’s infrastructure, including high-speed rail, is due to ‘nimby’ forces. Using democratic institutions they hold back projects.
Had such powers rested with the populace in the Victorian era, there’s a chance no rail systems would have gotten built. It’s hard to argue that democracy always produces outcomes that favour the many when few can hold such sway.
Democratic procedures, like elections and press freedoms, do not guarantee adequate representation. We’ve seen that time and time again. That argument gets lost on the dogmatic types who pursue democracy at all cost. If successful in their objectives they often replace one set of elites with another. Nothing changes for the vast majority of people.
It's important to note that these anti-democratic arguments come from folks who accept the ideas underpinning democracy. They granted the notion that governments should be accountable to citizens. Moreover, all citizens capable of exercising sound political judgment ought to have the vote. Where they differed is on defining ‘capable citizens’.
As political scientist Bruce Cain argues, most citizens do not have the time, energy, or expertise to devote to politics. The study of complex public policy issues. With their busy existence, people have no spare bandwidth to deal with politics. With no clear answers, a confusion of expressed options serves to turn people off.
Also, the introduction of higher levels of democracy can mean the political space gets occupied by the best-organised groups. That is usually the existing elites. That circles back to the argument made by the Italians above.
For the time being in Hong Kong, matters bump along. What is annoying is the steady stream of western politicians who front up to pass critical comments. It’s somewhat disingenuous of these people, especially from the UK, to point the accusing finger at China. The irrefutable fact is the Brits failed to give Hong Kong full democracy.
They tinkered around the edges with quasi-democratic institutions, much of which was superstructure. The hard truth being the Governor ran Hong Kong with a mandate from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The FCO, which had an eye on relations with China, kept things in check. Nothing in Hong Kong could infringe on the broader goal of trade with an emerging China. That approach has come into sharper focus with Brexit, as Britain seeks to hang on.
Vested interests in Hong Kong harness some of these arguments to argue against more democracy. In particular, they cite ‘popularism’ and the seizure of resources for redistribution. This argument gets rolled out with considerable impact. For example, it’s blocked significant moves to deal with poverty. So ingrained in the culture is the idea of being self-sufficient.
Churchill famously said in parliament “Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except for all the other forms that have been tried from time to time...”
Hong Kong’s current system is without question the worse form of government. At best, the current system is a partial democracy. And yet, the failure, over many years, of the administration to get a firm mandate from the people has allowed radicals to run free in the political space. The present arrangement holds government somewhat accountable, without the rigour of full-blown scrutiny. With no appetite or agenda for change, this impasse is likely to continue for years to come.
In the interim, the elites in Hong Kong will continue to apply old propositions against Western-style democracy. Especially as China seeks to advance its system. ‘Democracy with Chinese characteristics’ is an evolving idea, given a spur by the faltering western model. As the ‘soft power’ of countries like the US wanes, Beijing is inclined to test its ideas. Thus, it remains uncertain how matters will evolve in Hong Kong. Watch this space.
Walter De Havilland was one of the last of the colonial coppers. He served 35 years in the Royal Hong Kong Police and Hong Kong Police Force. He's long retired.