Dave Osler’s been running an amusing series on ex Trots and their current prosperity. The general tone is that these folks sold out. I’m not so sure. The college trots used to refer to anarchists – humane and gentle folk, one and all – as the ganja social club. The trots were right; but this speaks of a certain seriousness on their part, and not just about helping the weary toilers either.
Membership of any far left group at University is good career training. While others are off trying to master revenger’s tragedies or geothermal properties or whatever it is that gives them a special area of knowledge, the trots and tankies are learning what really matters if you want to get on in the world – how to manipulate committees, control agendas, identify and neutralise enemies. The generally venomous internecine conflict between far left groupings also provides a good grounding for life in more conventional achievement oriented environments. Anyone with the remotest talent for bullshitting gets first rate training, especially since the professional merchandising of opinion is now a considerable business in itself. And there’s surely no better basis from which to launch a career as a modern manager than knowing nothing specific while claming to have the answer to everything.
All this is true of mainstream student political groupings. But they offer a path direct into politics itself, Young revolutionaries can take this path too, following the dictum that “freedom is the recognition of necessity.” But that recognition could equally take them outside political management and into the wider economy. It helps, too, here that the permanent revolution meme in Trotskyism has also become part of general business and political language. It’s additionally useful if you can write off your own young idealistic self as suffering from an “infantile disorder”. It’s OK, though. I’m all better now. Even the existential futility of holding far left positions in the actually existing political order teaches the kind of persistence that a true go-getter needs. I am right eventually becomes I am right, and Lev Davidovich Bronstein, becomes, by slow degrees, Tom Davidovich Peters.
I’m not sure that selling out is the main issue. It seems to miss the point in the same way that Melanie Phillips-type ranting about Trots in high places misses it. The fact is that having acquired such a useful skill set, it becomes very difficult not to use it. One group that realised this is the old RCP, which basically morphed into a career development consultancy for its own membership.
UPDATE: Dave takes issue somewhat with my post. I didn't mean to cast any particular doubt on the motives of people who join left groups at University - or anywhere come to that - though I'd trust your average Labour Student about as far as I could comfortably spit a rat. The point is that many people pass through them and that their experience while in them gives them a pretty good grounding of the realities of the commercial life.
Funnily enough, including stints as Trot full-timer or ghostwriter for Arthur Scargill on my CV does not seem to have helped me secure a job with a telephone number salary. What am I doing wrong, Jamie?
Tch, Dave. Ever heard of the airbrush? Alternatively, make a full self-criticism along the lines that you've lost your convictions and found your reason while developing excellent motivational and organising skills. Moreover, all that dragging your arse out of bed to sell papers makes you an great self-starter.
Anyway, why don't we do a career guidance book? I mean The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Former Revolutionaries makes at least much sense as Make Jesus your CEO. Fifty fifty. What do you say?
...the Daoists undertook a survey of their major sacred mountains. What this study showed was that because of the inherent sacredness of places such as Hua Shan, Tai Shan, Emei Shan or Qingqing Shan, these had survived in a better ecological state than comparable areas which were not considered sacred by the general population. This had proved to be effective, even during the worse excesses of the Cultural Revolution. Temples and shrines, statues and sacred books had been destroyed, but the mountains had still survived in a better environmental state than other areas.
Well, the Cult Revolters were seeking out actual religious artifacts to destroy. They weren’t going to despoil a whole mountain – things to do, people to chuck out of windows, etc. It’s different now of course, when your average Chinese mountain is viewed as a combination minerals resource and landfill site. Except, apparently, when people think it’s effectively haunted. It also helps to have mystical forest rangers about the place:
most park wardens clock in at 8am and go home around 5pm. The illegal loggers and poachers tend to come when the wardens are not around. On a sacred mountain, it is quite likely that a Daoist monk will be running up the mountainside at 3am or meditating in the middle of the forest at midnight.
Young people could be given their adult rights as a reward for completing a modern day national service scheme, the Tory leader, David Cameron, said today.
Linking rights to responsibilities would encourage youngsters to show they are responsible citizens, Mr Cameron said today as he challenged the notion that rights should automatically come with age.
The Tory leader made his comments as he unveiled the Young Adult Trust charity, which was set up following his calls for a scheme to teach youngsters social responsibility based on the national service model.
I never knew that. What I thought of as rights, by definition inalienable but subject to legitimate debate about their extent, are in fact in the gift of Dave Cameron, or whichever other prehensile jackanapes manages to squirm his way to the top of the greasy pole.
Pessimism. Can’t have that can we?
The programme is designed to give young people "a sense of purpose, optimism and belonging" along the lines of national service but without its military nature, bringing together youngsters from mixed classes and backgrounds to work together.
Mr Cameron said he first had the idea after the July 7 bombings as a way of improving community cohesion.
"I don't believe that the debate about community cohesion should be reduced to a controversy about what a small number of Muslim women wear," Mr Cameron said.
"I want to go, as it were, beyond the veil - and look at how we can learn to live together in a national community."
I’ll take your veil and raise you a Komsomol. All towards a non-racial volk. I’ve written about this before.
The basic point made by David Runciman here (via) is that Blair is preferred to Brown because people like an open liar better than someone who won’t say most of what’s on his mind. It’s easy to overstate stuff like this; the danger is that this kind of analysis turns all politics into court politics. And neither man is exactly popular. But he surely makes his point well. On the recent Labour Party Conference:
…But that is to do Tony Blair a disservice. He is not simply the boldest liar, he is also the best, in that he understands better than anyone the new rules of political fabrication. He comprehensively outmanoeuvred Gordon Brown in Manchester by being truer both to himself and to the spirit of contemporary politics in the way he stretched the truth. Blair was sincere in the lies he told. Brown, by contrast, came across as a straightforward hypocrite.
And on the general approach:
For far too long, Clinton’s opponents, like Blair’s, were waiting for the public to see through the charade of what they believed was an obviously superficial political personality, because so obviously tailored to win votes; their mistake was not to realise that tailoring your personality to win votes can come across as a form of integrity, because it is consistent with being open-minded about everything. In the world of political triangulation, nothing is out of bounds, least of all changing your spots, and people who are willing to change their spots often seem more sincere than those who don’t.
You can trust me, because you know I’m a liar. You can’t trust him, because he’s not honest about his feelings.
A couple of days ago, the Guardian ran a feature on a huige student demonstration in China:
Riot police have been dispatched to a college campus in eastern China after a protest by students led to an outbreak of looting and vandalism.
The violence at the Clothing Vocational College in Jiangxi province was the second major case of campus unrest in less than six months to be sparked by accusations that profit-orientated education authorities have deceived students about the value of their diplomas.
This week’s riot broke out within hours of the broadcast of a TV documentary that accused the privately run college of massive over-enrolment and deception of students to boost its revenues. According to the TV investigation about 20,000 students have been recruited in the past three years by promising them diplomas the school was not qualified to award.
Student recruitment is just like pyramid-scheme sales. Many higher educational institutes tell the reporter that they and their fellow students were tricked into coming to school, and they were encouraged to engage in recruitment drives for pay. Is what the students say true? What kind of school is that?
"We are telling you all this in anger. We hope that you understand how we feel at this moment. We came from all over the country with the same admission letter which states: a four-year undergraduate program. We arrived at the school, we paid the tuition fees and we discovered that the undergraduate program does not exist. We don't even know whether we will get any legal diploma."
This is a letter from a current university student to the reporter. He wrote in the letter that he had already studied two years in university, but he still does not know what his status is.
"More than 18,000 students were deceived. We don't know what our future will be."
Ah, yes: privatized education. Recruitment by pyramid sales for qualifications that don’t exist. And scroll down to ESWN’s photos of the riots: not what you’d expect at, say, the London College of Fashion.
This is the second mass riot on a Chinese campus this year. So what’s happening?
Under the old system in China services like education were provided by the state and funded at the lowest level considered appropriate. Users were often asked to contribute a token fee, generally to make them feel part of the enterprise. On the other hand, China had no income tax until the early nineties (it now has nine bands, going up from 5-45% of income).
This was an easy system to reform by simply giving the authorities that ran services more power to raise their own income through fees. Meanwhile, taxes have been introduced supposedly to pay for public goods. The result is an excellent illustration of the joys of what our own government likes to call co-payment. While the population of China has more opportunities to make more money, they tend to find these gains whittled away by proliferating local and central government taxes and service fees taken to the most bizarre or illegal extremes of rent seeking.
The best way of getting your nose ahead on this treadmill is to get yourself an education, or at least a qualification. And then you find that this need has been identified as purely a vulnerability that can be exploited to extract money. What happened in Jiangxi, and earlier at Shengda, is the explosion you get when desperation and rent seeking collide.
The Crown Prosecution Service has advised police not to bring child pornography charges against a man shot during a terror raid in Forest Gate.
Mohammed Abdul Kahar, 23, was shot in the shoulder by police at his east London home on 2 June.
He and his brother Abul Koyair, 20, were later released without charge.
Mr Kahar was subsequently arrested on suspicion of making pornographic pictures of children, which his solicitor said he "strenuously denied".
Well, yes: all very rum. You wouldn’t have to be a total cynic to wonder at the timing of the charges, shortly after the man had been found to have no involvement with terrorism and a police bullet hole in his shoulder. That reminded me of the arrest of Robert Del Naja – the massive attack guy – on similar charges shortly after he’d taken out an advertisement in the national press with Damon Albarn opposing the Iraq war. These too were later dropped.
Obviously, you need to have two instances of something for a coincidence to exist. But the way the definition of internet porn seems to work maximizes the scope for arrest while keeping a suitably high threshold of evidence for before someone can be put on trial, as the BBC report on the Kahar case goes on to demonstrate.
There are also serious questions about how carefully the police follow up on leads before making arrests, as shown in this piece on Operation Ore by Duncan Campbell. We seem to in a situation where people who are innocent definitely have something to fear, and which provides excellent opportunities for ruining someone’s reputation without even having to to to the bother of fitting them up. Funnily enough, that’s also true of anti-terror legislation.
Voters should oust congressional Republican leaders because U.S. foreign policy is delaying the second coming of Jesus Christ, according to a evangelical preacher trying to influence closely contested political races.
K.A. Paul railed against the war in Iraq on Sunday before a crowd of 1,000 at the New Spirit Revival Center in Cleveland Heights, his first stop on what he hopes is a 30-city campaign.
The Houston-based preacher said he believes that the Bush administration has delayed the second coming because U.S. foreign policy has blocked Christian missionaries from working in Iraq, Iran and Syria.
K A Paul?
But his own tactics have also drawn criticism. Paul runs a group called Global Peace Initiative, based in Houston, and a ministry outgrowth called Gospel to the Unreached Millions.
Critics accuse the group of sinking cash into refurbishing and operating a Boeing 747 he calls Global Peace One.
Fascinatingly, when Talkingpointsmemo.com's reporter Justin Rood caught up with him, he claimed to know Condoleeza Rice, Tom DeLay and George W. Bush, to say nothing of Newt Gingrich, Bob Dole and sundry other hard-right theocrats. But that isn't all. The Houston Press has a rather fantastic feature on the guy, detailing a wealth of bizarreries and frauds including a fake leper colony, the abduction of an 11-year old girl from India to the United States and her subsequent abandonment, and a fraud in which he accepted a large sum of money to fly a group of Jews to visit Auschwitz, welshed, and then used the cash to put his jet through a long-overdue C check.
Read the rest at your leisure. The only thing I’ve got to say is that conmen have a good reason for sticking around declining politicians, if only because their remaining followers are likely to be stupider and therefore more easy to part from their money. If the magic Christian’s flying out of town, then I guess George is in big trouble.
What happened after Rover went West and its technology went East? From Shanghai Daily:
SHANGHAI Automotive Industrial Corp, the nation's second largest car maker, unveiled its first self-branded model in Shanghai yesterday.
The Roewe 750, known as the Rong Wei 750 in Chinese, is an executive-class sedan, equipped with a 1.8-liter turbo or 2.5-liter engine. The 2.5V6 engine can generate 184 horsepower, giving the car a top speed of 220 kilometers an hour…
…Based on the Rover 75, bought from British car maker MG Rover before it went bankrupt in 2004, the Roewe 750 has a distinctively British look.
Rong Wei…yes, borderline racist pun, but it seems to sum up the whole dismal affair if you're looking at it from the West Midlands. Note also the Sinicisation of Rover into Roewe, which looks like a back translation of how the original would be pronounced in Chinese.
The "wolves' lair" - ancient Pompeii's biggest, best planned and most richly decorated brothel - yesterday reopened to the public after extensive restoration.
But not, the Guardian fails to add, offering the same services. Anyway, let’s celebrate with some Catullus:
But (I am sure) you are in love with some unhealthy-looking wench; and you are ashamed to it.
But though you are silent, the bed itself with its garlands and Syrian perfume, proclaim that you do not sleep alone,
as does the pillow, used equally on this side and that,
on both sides equally, and the shaking of the bed as it squeaks and moves about.
But it's no good keeping quiet about your sexual exploits.
Why? You wouldn't show such sexually exhausted thighs
Ah, that’s how you can tell. Here are some more thighs:
let her live and be happy with her paramours,
three hundred of whom she holds at once in her embrace,
loving none of them really, but again and again
rupturing every man’s thighs.