06 February 2011

6 February

Without change, something sleeps inside us, and seldom awakens. The sleeper must awaken.

Frank Herbert


  1. Good morning.

    A grey day in Yorkshire, but at least it's stopped raining.

  2. Morning all

    Grey and miserable here too. Loads to do today, again. Meh. Just enjoying a bit of R & R before I am back to the grind.

    Good article on FGM in Africa that has not been opened for comments... no idea why.

  3. BB

    No idea why ... but if it does open for comments, than I can hazard a good guess that it will attract a lot of racist trolls.

  4. Quoting Bitters: "PS parallax: if you want interjections to count base them on something real; cocking off from 12,000 miles away while everyone else is asleep doesn't fucking work; unless you is happy to be a fucking gobshite tool."

    Hi BW, can I be arsed to respond? - well yes I can because I like you and everyone else seems to ignore you.

    Interjections - interesting and valid point - see following post addressed to Montana. Although, come to think of it, aren't banal interjections your forte?

    "cocking off from the otherside of the world" - umm, yeah but that's where I live ... not sure what you point is, Montana's frigging miles away as well - you're not doing a little englander are you?

    "happy to be a fucking gobshite tool?" of course I'm happy with this role. Whereas you - on the other hand, are a font of sparkling intelligence. Give it a rest Bitters - just because you're a regular doesn't make your utterances any more

    Chill - I'm on your side - don't dish it out unless you can take it, ok?

  5. Aphorisms - I want to compliment Montana (even though we dislike each other by mutual agreement - you evil witch:)) for the daily captions and photographs you provide, prefacing a clean sheet to write on

    It's easy for me to snipe in and out but that's only because Montana provides a landing strip without parking fees - other blog sites are not so generous in the inclusivity arrangements. So - thanks Montana.

    I appreciate the opportunity that allows drop-ins without an insistence to subscribe to liking everyone in the club.

    Plus I get hang out and listen to music with grumpy bitters and bitey - like this

  6. Grey here too - happily no rain and the deano plumbing is now working unaided again and so no complaints with the day.

    In fact ..much gratitude to a particularly fine young NHS nurse/mother who did the final bits and pieces yesterday. A natural at her job - endless patience and a first class communicator. She really ought to be a Nurse trainer. She was good enough for me to drop a note to the hospital to commend her as something special.

    She and all the staff at the local hospital were brilliant with, "Harold", a very confused dementia in-patient with a urological difficulty who was wondering aimlessly/harmlessly around the Ward area.

    I think I could possibly cope with an occasional plumbing difficulty....... but may I be taken by something speedy like the wind over the clifftops, if the Alzheimer's gets me. Sympathy to any UT's dealing with friends/relatives who have the problem it can't be easy.

    Right that's me and Mungo out for our last, but two, walk alone together, from tomorrow Miss H will be joining us, I'm convinced that Mungo knows that changes are in the offing. I'm hoping that he can teach the lady to hang cool and put her fears and timidity in the past. She deserves a little of the joie de vie which Mungo has in such abundance.

    Regards to all -I expect I'll be a bit busy for a while settling Miss H in but I'll sure be back for :"The UT 2nd birthday party: 19 February 2011 - All day long"

  7. "Hi BW, can I be arsed to respond? - well yes I can because I like you and everyone else seems to ignore you."

    P'view - you need to read UT more often or more carefully.

    I've had the pleasure, along with a few other UT's, of meeting BW at a pub. The man is a class act who is very highly regarded around here and far from ignored ......in fact he is assured his place in the hall of fame at UT 'cos the record shows BW was the very first guy to sign up to UT nearly two years ago....

    BTW - all are welcome to the birthday party. Who knows Hank might turn up and then you could hurl so more abuse at each other if you so wish.....

    always interesting to get the news/views from Aussie although I forget if you are digger or pomme or temp expat?

  8. Deano

    The man is a class act who is very highly regarded around here


    And best of luck tomorrow with Heidi.

    Alisdair (from yesterday)

    @ thauma. Your boys will win, but what d'you reckon to your full back?

    Jesus christ, it was a close thing! Was worried about Fitz as he'd had an absolute shocker in his previous match on his usual left wing, but at least he didn't drop the ball.

    ROG is a god.

  9. @bitey

    Yeah, I suggested we get together and elect SMM on the UT... and on CiF too, which sort of torpedoes your rubbish conspiracy theory, doesn't it?

    Why do we have such a third-rate stalker? We deserve better.

  10. Thirded about BW.He's a good bloke so fuck knows why anyone would have a problem with him.Guess it must be jealousy.

    @My head feels like it's been well and truly kicked in and i've got a throat like a nun's pussy.Think i'll go and sit in the shower for a couple of hours.Have a good day everyone!

  11. Afternoon all

    You are familiar with nun's pussies then Paul? You do surprise me!

    A new word has been added to the Arabic lexicon: Mubarak(v.) : to stick something. Example: I will Mubarak you to the wall.."

  12. Sorry, Sheff. I cannot take Zizek seriously after watching him defend Robespierre and the terror in a programme about the French Revolution.

    The guy is a twat.

  13. Hello everybody

    Turkey and Syria are to build 'Friendship Dam' on border to irrigate land and generate power, Iran is helping Syria upgrade power generation - A new powerful bloc id being created in region.

    Other changes will need to keep apace if peace is to be guaranteed.

  14. Spencer - ok - think about that and listen to what he says in the vid. Then tell me what you think. He does have a very quirky way of putting things which are often misunderstood. I haven't read what he said about Robespierre and the terror so can't comment on that.

    btw - I'm not an expert on Zizek and I don't necessarily agree with everything I've heard him say but I do find him very interesting.

  15. Sorry Sheff I have heard him enough. He pretty well excused everything that Robespierre did and argued that the revolutionary terror was necessary.

    I didn't read it, it was on a programme about the committe for public safety and the terror. I have rarely in my life heard such shit spoken.

    I have been listening to blood thirsty armchair revolutionaries like him half my life and have no interest in doing so any more.

    My contempt for him is pretty well boundless. If someone excuses Stalin's purges but has some reasonable things to say about the banks, would you listen to them?

  16. "The popular image of Robespierre is that of a kind of Elephant Man inverted: while the latter had a terribly deformed body hiding a gentle and intelligent soul, Robespierre was a kind and polite person hiding ice-cold cruel determination signaled by his green eyes. As such, Robespierre serves perfectly today's anti-totalitarian liberals who no longer need to portray him as a cruel monster with a sneering evil smile, as it was the case by the 19th century reactionaries: everyone is ready to recognize his moral integrity and full devotion to the revolutionary Cause, since his very purity is the problem, the cause of all trouble, as is signalled by the title of the last biography of Robespierre, Ruth Scurr's Fatal Purity. [30] The titles of some of the reviews of the book are indicative: "Terror wears a sea-green coat," "The good terrorist," "Virtue's demon executioner," and, outdoing them all, Graham Robb's "Sea-green, mad as a fish" (in Telegraph, May 6 2006). And, so that no one misses the point, Antonia Fraser, in her review, draws "a chilling lesson for us today": Robespierre was personally honest and sincere, but "/t/he bloodlettings brought about by this 'sincere' man surely warn us that belief in your own righteousness to the exclusion of all else can be as dangerous as the more cynical motivation of a deliberate tyrant." [31] Happy us who live under cynical public-opinion manipulators, not under the sincere Muslim fundamentalists ready to fully engage themselves in their projects... what better proof of the ethico-political misery of our epoch whose ultimate mobilizing motif is the mistrust of virtue! Should we not affirm against such opportunist realism the simple faith in the eternal Idea of freedom which persists through all defeats, without which, as it was clear to Robespierre, a revolution "is just a noisy crime that destroys another crime," the faith most poignantly expressed in Robespierre's very last speech on the 8 Thermidor 1994, the day before his arrest and execution:"



  17. I found it spencer and have had a quick skim through but can't really comment until I've had a proper read - and its not what I'd call an 'easy' read.

    This is interesting:

    Should we not affirm against such opportunist realism the simple faith in the eternal Idea of freedom which persists through all defeats, without which, as it was clear to Robespierre, a revolution "is just a noisy crime that destroys another crime,"

  18. Spencer

    i have been wasting time - again - on the BS thread.

    I cannot find any clear indication of what will happen to community /charity owned assets in the event of the org. folding. Obliged to hans assets over to like minded org. with similar aims and objectives I am trying to find info. on previously owned assets.

    I assume surviving umbrella orgs will not want responsibility for all.

    with assets there would be , at least morally, an obligation to continue activities of now defunct group.

  19. Sheff. "its not what I'd call an 'easy' read."

    Indeed. Another reason why I can't stand the guy. Academic grandstanding of the worst sort.

  20. Leni, good article on the Big Society I thought. Skewered it pretty comprehensively.

    I suppose it depends on the organisation. In the case of our community centre then it would go back to the council. But on the other hand there is a plan to hand over the council estate it is on, including the CC, to a housing association.

    So then another not for profit organisation would presumably control it, though probably not own the land which would, I am guessing, stay with the council but be given to them on some sort of leasing arrangement.

    At the moment it is complicated enough. The CC is a charity. The council owns the building, but have been trying to impose leases for years. All the local CCs have been refusing to sign them, largely because it would make the trustees liable for the debts if it goes under (I am not claiming to understand the legal intricacies).

    So as it stands their exposure is limited but if they sign the deal that the council wants then the trustees on the management committee would be liable for potentially ruinous amounts if it goes belly up.

  21. zizek nails liberals that want change without violence as the same as
    "wanting a product without paying the harsh price for it we want beer without alcohol, chocolate without sugar, coffee without caffine, we want the thing without the harsh element......"

    in nut shell you can't have change without someone getting hurt or killed......jeeze we live every day with the insidious and for some people blatent violence of the state what's so different if people take control into their own hands?


    very interesting discussion and i think they both make very valid points

    blair is a despicable individual.....

    here is a video of zizek on robespierre


  22. Evening all

    I have just read that bit from Zizek, Spencer, and I don't quite see it as Terreur apologism as such. Yes, the Terreur was a terrible time in French history, and Robespierre was a cold, calculating murderous creature. But what would the alternative have been like, if the Revolution had never happened?

  23. Evening all

    Well! Perhaps the famous apocryphon quoting a Chinese historian's answer to the question about the effects of the French Revolution that it is too early to tell has a grain of truth after all if we are going to discuss the moral and psychiatric background of Paris 7/4 ('89 and afterwards).

    Back to the present

    Egypt: Tariq Ramadan & Slavoj Zizek on Aljazeera. Recommended.

    On Compassion is Fucked i like Blame consumer capitalism, not multiculturalism (Madeleine Bunting) (Haven't read the comments).

    I know that a number of thinkers here, whom i hold in high regard, are allergic to identity politics and perhaps i don't properly understand what that is, but i am unsure and unconvinced.

    [Closes slaptop and dives for cover stage-left]

  24. Spencer

    trustees are liable if it can be proven that poor management or wrong decisions caused the failure.

    Interestingly liability is based on an expectation of knowledge and understanding - so an accountant trustee would be expected to have a greater understanding that say a local mum with no experience of accounts. The mum could be absolved of liability.

    Committee members often try to protect themselves from liability by asking their opposition to dicey proposals be recorded.

    There are grey areas as usual but I was advised that any org which relies on time restricted funding - with no legal way of creating a contingency fund through the no carry over rule should restrict planned expenditure within guaranteed funding period.

    Was advised to give only 2 year job contracts as this was our funding cycle. This led me to take out reduncy insurance to cover staff should the worst happen. Some employees have been with us for 8 years - on 2 yearly renewed contracts.

  25. Bollox, that should be Paris 7/14!

  26. It was explicity apologism for the terror in the programme I watched. BB.

    Gandolfo "jeeze we live every day with the insidious and for some people blatent violence of the state what's so different if people take control into their own hands?"

    Exactly. What is the difference. Bear in mind that the terror that Robespierre unleashed was not just the killing of Royalists (were that justified) but anyone else who got in the way of his insane vision of a rational society and plenty who just fell into the jaws of the terror by being in the wrong place at the wrong time, by being denounced by neighbours for reasons of personal spite or greed.

    Jesus. I cannot believe people who think this is somehow justifiable because it is Lefty psychotic violence rather than Capitalist psychotic violence.

  27. Spencer

    Forgot - am I right in assuming that the council is a partner to your enterprise ? Cutting you free by leasing , rather than letting you use it could break partnership leaving liability with trustees .

  28. Leni

    Your 3.27am post on the Big Society thread was pure class.Nice one!

  29. gandolfo

    very interesting discussion and i think they both make very valid points

    I thought so too. I couldn't fault a thing he said.

    I'll have a look at that vid now.

  30. Leni, yes that sounds right.

    I don't actually have anything to do with running the community centre. So what I know about it is mostly what my boss tells me as she is the CC manager. I went to a meeting on her behalf last year as her husband was terminally ill, and the stuff about the leases rumbled on.

    But my scheme is separate, we are hosted by the CC which is a registered charity and we don't have a separate bank account (which means I end up paying for most things on my own card and claiming it back!).

  31. spencer

    what alternative do you think there should have been in France? a pacifist revolution?

    well given that the state will do anything to hold onto power what alternative is there? holding hands and singing kumbaya and we shall overcome?

  32. It's simply silly to look at the French Revolution at the end of the 18th century from the perspective of modern liberalism.

    Especially following the execution of Louis Capet, those fighting for change in France knew that the sole aim of Britain, Austria, Russia, Prussia and the Catholic Church was counter-revolution, reversal of political change and the restoration of the monarchy. The Revolution faced a vast fifth column - a royalist enemy within - as well as the massed armies of the other European powers.

    To condemn the Revolutionary Terror and Robespierre in isolation while ignoring the Terror waged by the enemies of the Revolution is a blinkered, one-sided view of history.

    Look at what the Revolutionary courts executed people for: hoarding, aiding the enemy, desertion, refusing conscription, insurgency, etc.

    What other country at war in those days would have refrained from executing people for those crimes? What did Britain do with its deserters and rebels in 1800? And did the Tsar have no political police executing dissenters?

    Robespierre was an idealist - a driven one - and the Committee of Public Safety was simply applying the usual rules of the day for dealing with threats to national security.

  33. 293 recs for this enlightened comment on multi-culturalism from Brigadier General (outer-space hippy division) and Vegetable-in-Chief, englishhermit.

    Those who choose to speak a foreign language in public in this country will be perceived as foreigners and treated as such. That is how it is. To become British one needs to think in English as well as speak it.

    He really is a completely fucking witless lauriepenny, isn't he? Quack, quack!

    Yet 300 people agree with him. Depressing.

  34. Spike

    Nowadays we are all expected to prefix everything we say with an apology. ie I hate violence 'but'..... I like the way Zizek refuses to do that but gets straight into the heart of it and is prepared to wade around in the shit to discover what its all about. I don't think he's an apologist for Robespierre or the terror - I think he's honest and sees very clearly the awful in/humanity of revolution. As Robespierre said, quoted by Z in his essay:

    If the mainspring of popular government in peacetime is virtue, amid revolution it is at the same time virtue and terror: virtue, without which terror is fatal; terror, without which virtue is impotent. Terror is nothing but prompt, severe, inflexible justice; it is therefore an emanation of virtue. It is less a special principle than a consequence of the general principle of democracy applied to our country's most pressing needs.

    It is a terrible, hard truth, that in some circumstances we are stuck with and nowhere does Zizek say it's not. The Egyptian people are dealing with it as we speak.

  35. btw a 'lauriepenny' means a 'cunt', which is a word I refuse to use. Not because it can sometimes be offensive to male feminists and Oxbridge activists, but because it's philogical origins are not purely English.

  36. gandolfo "what alternative do you think there should have been in France? a pacifist revolution?"

    Oh for fuck's sake. What a ridiculous question.

    No, a pacifist revolution would not have been possible. Of course it wouldn't.

    But the fact that people had to fight for a revolution no more justified the terror, the actions of Robespierre and the others, than the need for violence in the Russian revolution justified Stalin's purges or the elimination of the Kulaks.

    Spike. "Robespierre was an idealist - a driven one - and the Committee of Public Safety was simply applying the usual rules of the day for dealing with threats to national security."

    Ha ha. And Stalin wasn't a psychotic mass murderer, either, I suppose?

  37. badpenny

    but because it's philogical origins are not purely English.

    That sounds vaguely englishermitish

  38. Yeah, strange(ish) one about Gary Moore. 58 and apparently in the pink. But then again that's what they said over here about the Irish DJ/TV presenter Gerry Ryan. Then the autopsy and testimonies showed that he'd been at the Colombian marching powder like a wild thing. It's possible Moore cleaned up his act, but had already damaged his heart in the glory days. After all, Lynott basically took anything he could get his hands on.

    While we're still on things Irish, I remembered what the rumour was that is skulking around in the background of new Fianna Fail leader, Micheal Martin. Remember how the whole clusterfuck over here was fed by the coziness of the property developers to Fianna Fail? This is an exchange from the Planning Tribunal, which looked into dealings/granting of planning permissions for a development called the Quarryvale Development, which later became the Liffey Valley shopping centre.

    A developer, Owen O'Callaghan, had bragged that he had some very senior politicians "on the payroll". From the Planning Tribunal, July 19th 2007.

    Paul Sreenan [Senior Counsel]: Mr. Gilmartin, do you remember testifying that Mr. O'Callaghan had told you that he had made a six figure payment to Mr. Micheál Martin?

    Gilmartin: A five figure payment.

    Welcome to the New Ireland.

  39. Paul

    Thankyou kind sir

    The article was excellent - nothing to disagree with.

    I was just expressing my feelings about the arrant, vapid nothingness of the BS as an 'idea' - while noting that it hides a lot of horrors underneath.

  40. 'vaguely englishermitish'

    It's much more than vague, sheffpixie. It is a full-blooded acceptance of englishhermit's world-view. And by that I mean that anything that is not totally English is just shit. (And by English I mean that it can be dated back to the time when the little children of Stonehenge danced beneath the haunted moon, for fear that daybreak might come too soon.)

  41. Eddie

    Why am I not surprised by money changing hands between developers and politicals ?

    No point in holding power if you can't a bob or two out of it.

  42. I know Leni, but you'd think in a country as small as Ireland that the main political party would at least try to make the pretense of a clean break with the past. Sticking in Martin after Bertie & Haughey (both accused countless times of having their hands in the cookie jar) is, on one level, breathtaking chutzpah. Martin will look the electorate in the eye and say "Prove it." Whether the Irish people's admiration for cute hoorism has been broken remains to be seen.

    Meanwhile the front page of today's Irish Mail On Sunday is all about how Fine Gael (on current polling, in with a chance of forming a government without the need for coalition) has been receiving ever-growing numbers of donations from, er, property developers. Plus ca change Rodney, plus ca bleedin' change.

  43. Eddie

    I would like to think that we would join forces with the Irish people to throw the thieving cheats out of office - out of the arena completely in fact.

    I can't see it happening though - all the smaller fiefdoms in which we live have people power tightly reined in.

    When will we find a collective voice which calls a halt ?

    we need everybody to abandon tribal loyalties , unite and stand as one against corruption.

  44. Hello everyone; at the risk of affording David Cameron an ounce of credibility by simply responding to his "BS", (I'm glad that people use "BS" since the same abbreviation stands for bullshit) surely if taken to its logical conclusion our politicians would become redundant.

    If that is the case then bring it on. They can all fuck off with their banking chums and leave us all to get on with what we do best, which is looking out for each other and attempting to be decent human beings rather than plutocratic,power mad, selfish,lunatics.

    After all, in the unlikely outcome of this actually happenning, we couldn't fuck up any worse, could we?

    "Big Society"....my arse!

  45. @Deano;

    "I've had the pleasure, along with a few other UT's, of meeting BW at a pub. The man is a class act who is very highly regarded around here and far from ignored ......in fact he is assured his place in the hall of fame at UT 'cos the record shows BW was the very first guy to sign up to UT nearly two years ago...."

    Yep, well said Deano. Bitterweed is indeed a class act in more ways than one. We could do with more people like him on here.

    Hey Bitters; that's twenty quid you owe me!

  46. Robespierre,

    the favourite whipping boy of those who view historical events in isolation. If there is one historical figure whose legacy needs counter revising it is Robespierre, so complete is revisionist history’s dominance when applied to the French Revolution and Robespierre.

    The Terror was not some well thought out plan of action plotted by a cold, inscrutable, incorruptible demagogue, but one created and applied to circumstance, namely the ferocious counter-revolution within France and the determination of the European monarchies to crush the revolution outside of France.

    The French Revolutionary wars were not a design of Robespierre. The wars were pushed for by the Brissotins and the Royalist party (with the secret support of Louis and Marie Antoinette) within the convention. Robespierre argued vociferously against War in the Convention, correctly identifying the threat of war to democracy, the unpredictability and unintended consequences of war and dismissing the Brissotins desire to spread revolutionary values across Europe. The expression “armed missionaries are loved by no-one” is attributed to Robespierre.

    The focus of the terror was ‘dechristianisation‘ campaigns which itself was not a policy of the Paris Revolutionary Government and certainly not a policy of Robespierre himself.
    The worst excesses of the Terror were carried out by the representatives on mission including Freron, Barras, Fouche etc. Once the excesses were revealed, they were recalled back to Paris by Robespierre in disgrace.

    Subsequently, Thermidor was undertaken by the disgraced revolutionaries and with Robespierre out of the way, it became all too easy to attribute their own crimes to the Jacobins and especially Robespierre.

  47. spencer

    what are you saying then? because frankly i don't understand where you are coming from....

    a coffee revolution but a decaffinated coffee revolution???

    revolution can imo only occur with violence and of course it comes from both sides...

    btw i've never seen zizek defend stalin...quite the opposite

  48. continues...

    he degeneration of the Revolution was not 1793, the degeneration was the decision by the Brissotins and Royalist factions hellbent on war for their own ends that led to 1793. And of course the actions of the Committee of Public Safety led to the victory at Fleurus and saved the Revolution.

    It must also be said that it was Robespierre who reaffirmed the rights of Jews and Protestants to French Citizenship after hundreds of years of persecution and who freed the slaves of St Domingue (Haiti).

    Robespierre at the centre of both the CPS and Paris commune became more and more infected with paranoia and delusion as 1793 turned to 1794 but his legacy should be reclaimed. Equating Robespierre with later despots such as Stalin and Mao (which is fashionable to do) is laughable as well as contemptible of the study of History.

    Robespierre was a proto-democrat whose support did not stem from the bourgeoisie or the vested interests who both dragged France into war but from the sans-cullottes or in other words- the People. A truly revolutionary concept and why he is seen as such a dangerous figure by bourgeois history.

  49. The discussion on multi-culturalism on CiF usually goes something like:

    "If they come over here, they should all be required to speak the language."

    "What about British expats?"

    "Come again squire?"

    "Well there are 6 million British expats and a huge chunk of them remain cultural separatists, don't learn the language, send their kids to British schools, drink in pubs called The Red Lion and generally turn swathes of foreign lands into Chigwell del Sol."

    "Yes. [pause]. Yes, well I'm talking about Britain. Bloody foreigners, they come over here..."

  50. Duke - interesting stuff. I don't know enough to comment further, but based on your track record, I am inclined to believe you.

    Eddie - it's funny, one of the most xenophobic and anti-immigrant blokes I know is hell-bent on emigrating.... Of course he doesn't speak any foreign languages and has no intention of learning.

  51. thanks duke for a succinct analysis...

    stalinism was an enigma.....it started as the emancipation of the masses and turned into persecution and mass murder of the masses had nothing to do with emancipation, the question is why...

    what bothers me is that stalinism the khemer rouge etc are always cited as the reasons not to go for radical change, social and economic, as according to those liberal sceptics it will inevitably end up as a mass murder fest, of course this is completely untrue....


    Hillary Clinton retrospectively takes credit for something or other:
    "Today we learned the Muslim Brotherhood decided to participate, which suggests they at least are now involved in the dialogue that we have encouraged,"

    I particularly like her 'diplomatic language' where the Muslim Brotherhood physically sitting down with Suleiman only suggests an 'involvement'. Oh, and it now appears that it was the US State Department's idea originally. Apparently.

    Although I'm not quite clear where this big idea of the MB having a say was when the US were stubbornly backing Mubarak.

    Presumably if Egypt eventually gets some form of democracy, Hillary will get the Nobel Peace Prize for her invaluable input. Even though we all know that she's just another odious, hypocritical 'lauriepenny'.

  53. @Duke; thanks for that. I have no reason to doubt your analysis since I don't really know bugger all about the French revolution.

    Was that your point? That we should all be aware of historical "revisionism"?

    I never understood history at school for the simple reason that it wasn't taught chronologically.

    One lesson on the Crimean war was followed with the next on Henry the Eighth and then another on ...oh I don't know summat kicking off somewhere else with no attempt to link the thinking behind either of them!

    What was that all about?

  54. "Hey Bitters; that's twenty quid you owe me!"

    Don't take that at face value, Bitterweed is a total gent and a delightful human being...we need more "Bitterweeds"!

  55. gandolfo
    what bothers me is that stalinism the khemer rouge etc are always cited as the reasons not to go for radical change, social and economic, as according to those liberal sceptics it will inevitably end up as a mass murder fest

    Isn't that the position Zizek was arguing against in the vid - and what the establishment presents us with today - the spectre of islamic fundamentalism - an either or picture, which is bullshit. Right wingers have been banging on endlessly about it since the Egyptian intifada kicked off. Its quite interesting watching them tie themselves in knots when asked about the Egyptians perfectly legitimate desire for social justice and democracy - we have it why not them too? Oh but we need stability...

  56. Thaum, of course he's not going to learn a furrin language. English is the world's language. It's yer lingua franca [itself an Olde English expression meaning "Speak English, you bastard."]

    Be interested to know where he's going (he does know there's likely to be a lot of furriners there, doesn't he?)

    My own favourite was a thread on a message board for Anglophone expats in Thailand. It was complaining that Thai people don't speak good English. In Thailand.

    Fuck me, they were serious. Even allowing for the uncommonly large amount of fuckwits and sexpats that wash up on the shores of the Land of Smiles, it was ludicrous. And the kind of things I'd throw out as a joke were the serious justifications. Most widely spoken language in the world. The international language of business. It's fahking English. Everybody speaks fahking English.

    I dunno guys, if you're going to live there for the next 20 to 30 years, how about speaking Thai? In Thailand?

    I felt compelled to join the site just so I could post "Are you imbeciles shitting me?" or words to that effect. Just when you think that people can't be that stupid, they surprise you.

  57. Oh how ecstatic I am that the head of the secret police is the anointed one.

    Choon - just cos I like it.

  58. Eddie - he's thinking of France, Spain or Greece but still expects everyone to speak English, of course.


  59. gandolfo "what bothers me is that stalinism the khemer rouge etc are always cited as the reasons not to go for radical change, social and economic, as according to those liberal sceptics it will inevitably end up as a mass murder fest, of course this is completely untrue...."

    What you seem to have missed is that I am not arguing against radical change at all.

    There seems to be an idea amongst some of the left that it is a sort of switch. Violence vs Non Violence. If you turn the violence switch on then absolutely any atrocity is justified. And you have a choice between that and passively accepting the status quo.

    It is a ridiculous dichotomy.

    Robespierre was a fucking psycopath. Stalin was a fucking psycopath. That ought to be blindingly obvious. If you let psycopaths have total power than you get things like the terror and the purges.

    If you think what Robespierre did was OK and neccessary for the times, let me ask you this.

    Was it OK for him to have his revolutionary comrade Danton executed?

    And was it OK for the remaining revolutionaries to guillotine Robespierre when his turn came?

    Which one of these was justifiable or was it both?

    People were killed for nothing. Because a neighbour didn't like them. Because someone wanted something that they had.

    It is the justification of horrors like that by idiots like Zizek that give power to the argument that change will lead to things like the Khmer Rouge.

    He is the apologist for that sort of revolution and apart from what he says being evil in itself it also gives ammunition to the right.

  60. http://www.lacan.com/zizrobes.htm

    Zizek describes Robespierre the symbol. He makes minimal comment on Robespierre the man, or even Robespierre the historical figure.

    That tends to be what Zizek does, since he's interested in representational systems etc. His article isn't an apology for Robespierre,not really: rather, it's a comment on the use of historical figures like him, and a comment on liberalism, and the speed with which it demonises and dismisses all sorts of ideas as 'totalitarian' or 'ideological' (when did ideological become synonymous with 'very bad indeed'?)

  61. I seem to have lost half my post there. What I'd said before the link was that I was interested, Spencer, in the paragraph you chose to quote from that article. The two paragraphs above seem to illustrate (for me, anyway), more clearly what Zizek was arguing:

    "Today, such a notion is quickly dismissed as "ideological" and/or "totalitarian": the social process is again perceived as dominated by an anonymous Fate beyond social control. The rise of global capitalism is presented to us as such a Fate, against which one cannot fight - one either adapts oneself to it, or one falls out of step with history and one is crushed. The only thing one can do is to make global capitalism as human as possible, to fight for Èglobal capitalism with a human faceÇ (this is what, ultimately, the Third Way is - or, rather, WAS - about). The sound barrier will have to be broken here, the risk will have to be taken to endorse again large collective decisions - this, perhaps, is the main legacy of Robespierre and his comrades to us today.

    Moments before Robespierre's death, the executioner noticed that his head would not fit into the guillotine with the bandages applied to his jaw wounds, so he brutally ripped them off; from Robespierre's ruined throat emerged a ghastly piercing scream, only cut short as the blade fell upon his neck. The status of this last scream is legendary: it gave rise to a whole panoply of interpretations, mostly along the lines of the terrifying inhuman screech of the parasitic evil spirit which signals its impotent protest when it is losing possession of its host human body - as if, at this final moment, Robespierre humanized himself, discarding the persona of Revolutionary Virtue embodied and emerging as a miserable scared human being."

  62. Thaumaturge to Eddie - " it's funny, one of the most xenophobic and anti-immigrant blokes I know is hell-bent on emigrating.... Of course he doesn't speak any foreign languages and has no intention of learning"

    Enjoyed that! Canada, Oz, NZ, all operate Points Systems where you either have to be quite rich, OR have to be fairly young with a needed trade.

    Failing the necessary, the EU will allow the bloke in, but we do still speak forrin over here...

  63. @Spencer

    Perhaps you'd like to explain on what basis you think Robespierre can be compared to Stalin.

    Do you sympathise more with another movement than the Jacobins? The Girondins perhaps? Or the Vendéens? Or do you condemn them all? What about the countries that attacked France in order to crush the Revolution?

    Anyway, I take it you approve of the Thermidorian Reaction since it ended the dominance of Robespierre and the Jacobins. Of course, it also led to a series of events that culminated in the crowning of Bonaparte as emperor, the restoration of slavery, ongoing war throughout Europe, repression of dissent by Bonaparte's Minister of Police Fouché, etc.

    But I assume you think all that was well worth it to get rid of Robespierre, since you compare him to Stalin.

  64. An interesting development regarding Egypt. Iran has officially supported the Egyptian uprisng, and has indeed desribed it as an 'Islamic awakening'. Now the Iranian opposition (which the Iranian regime brutally repressed a year ago) has requested permission to hold a rally in support of the Egyptian and Tunisian protesters.

    Can anybody guess what the Iranian government's response might be?

  65. @badpenny

    I think the Iranian regime has even said that Egypt is following the example of the Iranian people 30 years later.

  66. "I think the Iranian regime has even said that Egypt is following the example of the Iranian people 30 years later"

    Wishful thinking on their part, and total bollocks of course. Can't see the Iranian regime allowing mass protests from their own domestic opposition on the streets of Tehran. It might give some people the 'wrong' idea about democracy and free and fair elections.

  67. Page 8 of the BS thread is worth reading if only for the joys of CapitalistPiggs vacancy.

    I have reached giggle point with him.

  68. .

    Spike, the idea that a member of the Communist Party would be involved in a conspiracy is of course beyond credulity. But someone who can regularly brag about being banned from CiF under a former user name, clearly has nothing that's considered damaging or threatening to say. Using a television analogy, you're a bit like Crossroads.

    Your defence of the Terror, at least is consistent with your defence of suicide bombers and both from the safety of your armchair. You seem to see social change only over the pile of human corpses.

    As for Robespierre and Stalin, one thing they had in common was the systematic elimination of many, and in Stalin's case, most of the Revolution's original and staunchest advocates. And in the end each considered himself and acted as some kind of deity.

  69. Absolutely brilliant précis of Robespierre by le troisième duc de Wybourne. Clearly based on knowledge.

  70. Spencer, have you been watching "Carry on" films?
    "Robespierre was a fucking psycopath."

    Aside from the fact that nobody would be around to make that judgement until over a hundred years after his lifetime, Robespierre was very much an extraordinary man in a violent time.

    He kept a revolution going when all odds were against that happening and was ultimately a victim of his own success; his underlings were able to behead him, because he gave them power.

    It took most of another century before France became a republic again, but the values of the revolution he fought for had been enshrined into the Napoleonic Code. Subsequently every monarch and emperor was bound to some degree by them.

    History is never as simple as "this was a good guy, this was a bad guy". Have your own opinion, but base it on a broader picture.

  71. About what was it said?:

    "The irony of an organisation dedicated to the free and open flow of information threatening to sue a newspaper will be lost on no one."

  72. "History is never as simple as 'this was a good guy, this was a bad guy'."

    Give or take :-)

    The reason for their existence does require broader study, though.

  73. @bitey

    OK, let's see what a lightweight revisionist of your ilk has to say about another historical leader.

    What's your take on Spartacus?


    Robespierre was also a useful alibi after 9 Thermidor. It was obviously in the interest of other members of the CPS and those acting for it to say, "Oh yes, that was Robespierre's fault. I didn't agree at all, but what could I do?"

    As you point out, Robespierre was no Stalin since he did not in any way exert absolute power.

  74. Of course, he wasn't only not a Stalin in that way! I was commenting on what you said about him empowering others but my remark came out sounding odd on the page. :-)

  75. Spartacus?

    Well I'm all in favour of slaves revolting against their captors and the abolition of slavery, but I'm not sure Spartacus was.

    And I am in favour of the civilising aspects of the Roman Empire.

  76. Spike
    "Oh yes, that was Robespierre's fault. I didn't agree at all, but what could I do?"
    So sayeth the labour ministers of Blair, regarding Iraq. It makes me shudder how much the past reflects the present.

  77. Shame that they didn't have the balls to behead him.