Lawful authority

BAL72314In proposing to limit EU migration, and withhold the additional payment of £1.7bn now due, Mr Cameron is like a drunk, refused entry to a nightclub by a bouncer, who decides to “make something of it”. He is already past the point where he might avoid loss of face: his choice is between looking a fool, and complete humiliation. Surely someone in his government has some understanding of international law: we obey international treaties, freely entered, because they are better than going to war.

That was a way of putting it, not satisfactory but very satisfying. I am sure you can sense the warm, self-righteous glow I feel, pontificating like that. At one time, to make such pronouncements would have made me a pub bore, but now I am a blogger, and can do it from my own living room. Whatever. I was wondering why in 1660 some invited the King back, and others acquiesced. It is all to do with how we avoid killing each other. I love blogging, I can play with such grand topics if I wish.

On the flimsy basis of Peter Ackroyd’s book, I would say that the army, having installed Oliver Cromwell practically as king, with regal powers, needed a single strong figure for the loyalty of the nation. Oliver’s son Richard was not it, and he did not want to be. There was no legitimate authority other than the King. All law is based upon force- I am a legal positivist, more Kelsen than Austin, seeing that the basis for law in any country is force, Queen Anneeither revolution or conquest, and that law has no value without policemen and bailiffs; but where the initial force was applied long ago, people come to obey out of habit, consent and the desire for a quiet life, which is more comfortable for all concerned.

Um. Social contract. I don’t have to have planned this, or made it consistent- it is a blog- so will just drop that in. And I feel I can break the law, either as some theoretical supreme act of martyrdom to moral principle, or breaking speed limits etc.

Why invite the King back? It was the only way to achieve stable government. One might hope that the King, remembering his father’s vicissitudes, would not behave like a tyrant- this was a forlorn hope in the case of James VII/II, but we got rid of him. The people believed that the King was bound by law, needing Parliament’s consent for taxation.

After 268 years of increasing internal peace since the last mainland battle (except for the Troubles) we are, more or less and on the whole, governed by consent. I waffle because it’s a blog, and because a definite statement eludes me. The Government can do what the people don’t want, but not too much. Being a republic would symbolise that. The last vestige of our Grundnorm– the Norman Conquest- would melt away, and we would be a free people, governing ourselves.

The Benefits of Nazism

My friend’s school put on The Producers recently. Perhaps they thought it edgy for a child who learned German at his mother’s knee to wear a Nazi uniform, but with the grandchildren of combatants now in middle age, it is time to see the benefits of Nazism. I don’t mean all we have learned from them- “First they came for the Jews”, and I know that it is for me to do something about that, because I am a Jew- we learned that from their opponents. The Nazis were so wrong that what is right became crystal clear. The Nazis- testing the Wrong Way to destruction, so no-one else need ever go there. What I mean is all that is tempting about their ideology.

One tempting thing is the Ourselves Alone loyalty. So Foreigners are dangerous, and must be restricted: David Cameron portrays Romanians as benefit scroungers, and seeks to have them excluded from the country, playing on our fears and resentment.

Another is the black and white morality. Anti-abortionists can get together and feel one with the Group, a powerful and delightful feeling, and feel Right, which is even better. They are divorced from reality, but their feelings are wonderful. This causes suffering for others. The Northern Ireland Justice Minister is consulting on extending the category of permitted abortions from pregnancies which threaten the life of the mother to pregnancies where the baby could not survive outside the womb.

That anyone could imagine it was right to force a woman to go through with a pregnancy where the baby could not survive outside the womb is horrifying: and the other political parties have expressed opposition to the extension of the law.

There are extreme cases in the abortion debate- partial birth abortion at 38 weeks, where there is no threat to the mother or foetal abnormality, say- and in my pro-choice position, I swither between a pragmatic view that such extreme cases are so rare that I need not have a position, most abortions take place before twelve weeks, and a clear view that the woman has the right to choose. But this is not the tempting moral simplicity of the anti-abortionist, but a refusal to make a judgment on the woman, who will have feelings for her child, and will only have an abortion if she cannot see an alternative. It is not for me to decide. I refuse to define myself against the Outsiders, the Bad People.

I am not saying Mr Cameron is a nazi, merely that he had adopted a central plank of the nazi world view, rather than a peripheral one like Hitler’s vegetarianism.

Springtime for Hitler and Germany!
Tomorrow belongs to me!

Sterbenfreude

File:Oliver Cromwell, Death mask (right).jpgHow much have you achieved, in your time on Earth?

It was quite a shock when I realised I am older than the Prime Minister- only four months, but still. I could blame his privileged upbringing and education at Eton and Cambridge, but by middle age one really should stop blaming ones childhood. Now I am older than the leaders of the three main parties, the only reason I could think of for supporting Scottish independence would be that Wee Eck is still older than I am. It is a changeable fashion: my father retired before he was older than the PM.

These things can reverse. I have been older than the last two Doctor Whos, but not the next one, so I can start looking up to him again.

There are other ways of dealing with the achievement of others. I may not have written about fifty symphonies, 27 piano concertos, 15 masses and 12 violin concertos, and I could not perform one of those piano concertos, but at least I have lived longer than Mozart- though not, yet, Bach or Beethoven, and my father has not outlived Copland. I am now older than George Orwell, Jane Austen, Jack London, F Scott Fitzgerald, Albert Camus and Oscar Wilde, Billie Holliday, John Lennon and Freddie Mercury, Alan Turing and John Fitzgerald Kennedy, so if my name is writ in water, at least I am still alive. I got these names from Celebrity Deaths sorted by age, on the Simon Fraser University website. The only Simon Fraser I recall gained notoriety by getting away with killing his son: he told the judges he had been asleep, dreaming of fighting a gorilla.File:Beethovendeathmask.jpg

Ha! I need not dwell on their death to belittle someone! Only a little imagination is required!

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Well. That was a bitter little abortion of a post. The germ was noticing that I am older than George Orwell was when he died. It has some comic potential: the little man getting one over on the powerful, or that particular little man being deluded, clinging to something small.

Schadenfreude literally translates as “harm joy”, and my coining sterbenfreude as “Death joy”. I express my own bitterness here, allowed free rein and without any admixture of qualities I find acceptable to the imaginary Other, or comfortable to myself. That gives it its bite, but frightens me: this is me speaking, and I don’t like it.

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This bitterness is not the whole of me. I genuinely do not know which of these is true:

If I let it out to play, it will be stronger as it will become habitual

If I let it out to play it will not draw strength from my fear of it

My desire is to be Positive. Which of these two theories do you think more likely?

Conferences

Here is the Prime Minister’s conference speech, and here is the Leader of the Opposition‘s. I am taking the by-election soon very seriously, and am nearly despairing about the Crisis and my future, so these are important to me. Urbi et orbi, the Party and the country, what do they want to say?

https://i1.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/2/21/David_Cameron_official.jpg/768px-David_Cameron_official.jpgIn Mr Cameron’s speech, I found one direct lie. He said, What are hard-working people who travel long distances to get into work and pay their taxes meant to think when they see families – individual families – getting 40, 50, 60 thousand pounds of housing benefit to live in homes that these hard working people could never afford themselves? A workless couple with six children in Kensington and Chelsea, one of the most expensive boroughs to live in the UK, will get £400 a week, £20,800 a year, in housing benefit.

On economics, the speech was poor. He argues that if the UK borrows more, interest rates will go up, for the Government and for individual borrowers, increasing mortgage payments. True. But if public spending goes up and this produces more growth, the UK will borrow less. He does not address the question of whether greater spending produces growth. With Keynes, we know that it does: though there may be a cut-off point beyond which it ceases to produce a benefit.

He did a bit of feel-good: things to be proud of Britain for. He attacked the Labour party- the “One Notion” party, that was the one joke I noticed in the speech. Labour “Wrecked our economy”, he said. That is disputable: the financial crisis is Global, and it is unclear that a Tory government from 2005 would have done better. Certainly unclear from this speech.

https://i0.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/8f/Ed_Miliband.jpgMr Miliband talks of his faith, which I share:

A person of faith, not a religious faith but a faith nonetheless. A faith, I believe, many religious people would recognise. So here is my faith. I believe we have a duty to leave the world a better pl ace than we found it. I believe we cannot shrug our shoulders at injustice, and just say that’s the way the world is. And I believe that we can overcome any odds if we come together as people. 

What is the problem? The middle classes see that the system does not work for them but for the cosy cartels and powerful interests that government hasn’t cut down to size. That is a striking claim for the leader of the party in Government from 1997-2010. What would he do that Gordon didn’t?

I wanted to see what he had to say about “Predatory capitalism”: “Pressure for the fast buck means businesses just can’t take the long view”. What would he do? End the rule that companies must publish accounts every three months. Mmmm. Still, it is harsh to judge him on just this speech.

He names a topic close to my heart: Scotland can leave the UK, but the soul of our nation would be worse off as a result. Mr Cameron, too: We’re better together and we will rise together, possibly a reference to Flower of Scotland.

What about that factual disagreement? Mr Miliband says that This year borrowing is rising not falling. Mr Cameron says that We have cut a quarter off the deficit in the past two years. Both might be quoting selectively, both might be fibbing, but it makes it hard to choose between them.

Labour would work for The People. The Conservatives would work for The Go-getters- at the bottom of society as well as at the top.

I still don’t know.

The Tranny Threat

The tranny threat. Would you want one of us sitting beside you in an aeroplane? What if that tranny is a terrorist? In Canada,

5.2 (1) An air carrier shall not transport a passenger if …
(c) the passenger does not appear to be of the gender indicated on the identification he or she presents;

In Canada, one of us cannot get a passport with the correct gender marker unless s/he has the Op scheduled within one year.

Now, I can just about imagine going to check in and saying, what do you mean I do not look like a man? Dressed as girly feminine as I can, I take off my wig and putting on my baritone, I say, “Do I look like a man now? No, I don’t like the M on my passport either, but what can you do with a homophobic government?” But I cannot imagine doing that three months after I started to live full time. Before I transitioned, while I holidayed in the UK expressing myself female, when I went to Italy I presented male, because I did not want any hassle. Is there any particular reason why I should not have gone to Malta in 2002? It was only just after the Twin Towers attack.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper shakes hands with a security officer during a visit to Toronto, Ontario. January 28, 2012.  (Photo by Deb Ransom)

On second thoughts, can Stephen Harper really be a bigot, when he allows himself to be photographed shaking hands with a black man?

In Britain, I got a passport saying F as soon as I changed my name. My GP had to write to the passport agency saying I intended to live female life long. In Australia I read one can get a passport marked M, F or X for indeterminate; X is not open to transgender people, but that will come. The US has dropped the surgery requirement for giving a correct gender marker on the passport.

We are no threat to anyone. Like people with schizophrenia, we (and other people) are a far bigger threat to us than we to others. I now know why to oppose Mr Cameron’s desire for a British Bill of Rights to replace the European Human Rights Convention. He wants a land safe for bigots.

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Then again, imagine trying to leave Canada with my current passport, and not being allowed to board the plane because some attendant thinks I look like a man?