29 September 2014

Arm the Shi’ites

We are now in the middle of another war in Iraq. We are bombing Daesh, a monster of our own creation, courtesy Bush in 2003, inside of two states, both of which have failed on account of the actions of our government. Unlike with the last several engagements of our government around the globe which were blatantly and obviously bad ideas, I felt much more conflicted about the current one. Daesh is monstrous, far more so than anything else we’ve seen so far in the Middle East, descending to depths of barbarity that have practically the entire rest of the Muslim world up in arms in outrage. They are carrying out ethnic cleansing primarily against Shi’ites and Christians. The regime of Saddam Hussein looks by comparison like a veritable paragon of human rights. At the same time, though, our own government’s intentions are far from pure or humanitarian – not only does this intervention smell a bit like a ruse for taking out Assad rather than Daesh at the behest of big oil, but it’s becoming clear that we have no real exit strategy, as before, and no real measure of potential success. So how do we get out of this mess?

The first thing to do would be to actually get out of it as soon as possible. The only actors that can stop Daesh dead in its tracks in the long run, are actual states with non-negotiable game-theoretic interests in keeping the region stable. It is empirically demonstrable that we, the United States, do not qualify. Our actual national interests (as distinguished from our commercial interests and the personal interests of our statesmen – though we do have a distressing tendency to confuse the three) are very far removed from the Fertile Crescent. But the actual states which are actually interested in eliminating Daesh are, most obviously, Syria and Iraq – but also Iran, which has a firm and overriding interest in keeping Iraq’s majority-Shi’ite population secure and free of persecution within its own borders.

Unfortunately, apart from Armenia there are no other states in the Middle East, North Africa or Central Asia which actively take the part of the Christian minorities under the greatest threat from Daesh. But there are Shi’ite polities. And as demonstrated by their actions over the past thirty years, these Shi’ite policies have in the past been far friendlier to Christian concerns – or at the very least neglectful, whether benignly or not – than have the Wahhabist Sunni ones.

Israel may not like it. But Israel has been getting progressively cosier with Qatar and Saudi Arabia in recent years – both of which countries are or harbour financial supporters of Daesh. All told, they are more of a hindrance than a help where Daesh is concerned, so we ought to do the right thing and tell the Israelis to take a hike. We need to re-evaluate our friendships and enmities in the region in order to more effectively ‘lead from behind’ (a good idea, if President Obama would take care to actually abide by it). And we need to arm the Shi’ites wherever they are. They have the most to lose to Daesh from a geopolitical standpoint, not to mention a humanitarian one.

Ultimately, we can’t stop the barbaric and genocidal criminal racket that is Daesh. And we shouldn’t be trying. That job rightfully belongs to the sovereign states of Iran, Iraq and Syria. Rather than hindering them or backstabbing them, we should give them every fighting chance they need, and more.

28 September 2014

The strange fate of the counterrevolutionary communist

Petro Symonenko, leader of the Communist Party of Ukraine

It is rather a truism, dating back possibly all the way to 1688, that revolutionary movements have a tendency, after devouring their enemies, to turn upon their own, and eventually to turn into counterrevolutionary parties. This was true of the French Revolution; this was true of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution and its Dengist reaction; and this is still true even of post-communist countries like Kazakhstan, Russia and the Ukraine. It is a strange thing to witness, this cooling and souring of the revolutionary fervour and its turning into something very different – even its opposite, when it is confronted with the same forces that swept it into power in the first place.

If one considers it a wise thing to strive for success in remaking the social order in your own image (which I don’t, by the way), Mao Zedong was wise to try to completely overturn the entire institutional structure of the country he led. But now his failure – if I may paraphrase Anakin Skywalker – is complete. It is now the case over the world, that left-wing parties that once overthrew entire social orders have congealed into the form of those same social orders, and have become defenders of those same social orders.

I speak of a general tendency. The way this tendency appears and generates itself varies from context to context. Thus, whilst you have a militantly atheist party in control of China, which espouses Marxism-Leninism-Maoism on paper but in practice uses a mushy amalgam of authoritarian methods and progressive-pragmatist goals; you also have an increasingly religious (as in Russian Orthodox) Communist Party of the Russian Federation in opposition to Putin under Gennady Zyuganov, which is also taking on a very ideologically-conservative cast. In Kazakhstan, the old-guard Communists have adopted a similar kind of technocratic nationalism, conservative in the sense that they want to conserve and restore what is left of the old Soviet social safety net.

In the former Soviet countries, we therefore have some very interesting tendencies cropping up. The old Communist Party of Ukraine led by Petro Symonenko, for example, had been taking a stand on federalism, localism and minority rights prior to being banned – a stand which, in the United States, would be characterised as a conservative one. Likewise, the counter-revolutionary movement in Donetsk and Lugansk regions has a distinctly communistic flavour to it – they first called themselves ‘People’s Republics’, and now call themselves the ‘Federal State of New Russia’. Their official programme blends a strong commitment to public ownership (i.e. of land, of key industries) with a strong link with the Moscow Patriarchate and a decentralised confederal state structure which appears to be based on the old soviet council system.

They are to be considered ‘counter-revolutionary’, precisely because they originally supported the Yanukovych government and opposed the Maidan protests – even more so when those protests turned violent and murderous. The actual substantive issues on which they based their own protests were against state uniformity of language and education; against the wanton destruction of the social safety net by Yatsenyuk, Turchynov and their cronies; and against the dismantling of the backyard industries on which they depended for their livelihood (before being sold off to American and Western European concerns). As observed from their early history of peaceful occupation of government buildings, they were ready to adopt the tactics of the early Maidan movement, though their goals were diametrically opposed. This is the public stance of the Federal State of New Russia.

Whether or not this public stance is sincerely held, and whether or not the left-conservative programme of this counter-revolutionary movement can be sustained without succumbing to the totalitarianism of its Soviet predecessors, are both questions which are still very much up-in-the-air. But this movement is one to watch carefully.

My blogging-friend and fellow-traveller John at EifD has been doing so for some time, and has a thoughtful series of essays (here, here and here) on the substantively counter-revolutionary and conservative trends within socialist – even Marxist – thought. At the time, my agreement with them was highly qualified, but on further consideration I think he may have been getting at a possible confluence of thought with a number of tantalising ramifications. (And also quite a few dangerous ones, but that’s a topic for another essay.)

It stands to reason, however. The Old Left for all its grim and inhuman excesses has still somehow, in some of its manifestations, managed to hold onto the key Pauline insights which undergirded their ideology going all the way back to Marx himself. These Pauline insights into sinful human nature and the way it fetters us (secularised in Marx’s thought as alienation and exploitation) and into the nature of property, work and the inherent worth and dignity of human beings, are precisely what the Chinese Communist Party seems to have jettisoned with Deng, and what the Communist Parties of Ukraine and of the Russian Federation have been progressively re-unearthing under Symonenko and Zyuganov.

It is always worth a note of caution, however. The Pauline insights which informed Marx were (and in many cases remain) heretically warped. Marx, being a materialist, was therefore also an adherent of predestination and indeed of a form of chiliasm (albeit with the messianic class of the global proletariat in place of Christ; the world revolution in place of the Parousia), which at the end of the day constituted a denial of human transcendence and human freedom. Unless and until the Old Left can rediscover the insights of Nicaea along with those of Acts – and thereby reject the violent, inhuman chiliasm of Marx in favour of something more personalist in orientation – it will be doomed to the fate of all such heresies. As Soviet dissident Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn himself once said in an interview with Joseph Pearce:
Untouched by the breath of God, unrestricted by human conscience, both capitalism and socialism are repulsive.
We shall see if the counterrevolutionary communism of the type on display in Eastern Europe is or is not touched by the breath of God, and amenable to the restrictions of human conscience. As its current direction is tending, I may give it one tentative cheer. Давай!

19 September 2014

What now?

The Union forged by the efforts and right of the Scottish Stuart kings is thankfully still intact, having been subject to a vote which ought not to have taken place. That vote, however, was carried in part by the out-and-out poorest regions of Scotland – namely the Mairches, East Lothian, Stirling and Argyll and Bute, which turned out against independence by wide margins. It would be insulting and wrong to assert that these regions only voted ‘No’ on the basis of Westminster threats, or on the basis of a lack of information. I believe they understand quite well that any chance of an improvement in dignity and in quality of life will have to come together with their English, Welsh and Irish brethren.

It is interesting also that the Union won so strongly in Aberdeen and Edinburgh, but hardly surprising. What should be illustrative to Scotland and to the rest of Britain is the fact that one of the four constituencies that carried a vote for independence was Glasgow, of all places. The Glaswegian electorate is, in point of fact, one of the wealthiest in all of Britain outside the South East (along with Aberdeen and Edinburgh); and its vote shows that the Yes campaign was not by any stretch of the imagination a movement of poor Scots who had been victimised long enough by Thatcherism.

In any event, the vote has happened, and it has duly shaken up the status quo in the UK. The Scottish electorate can no longer be safely ignored. Regardless of the sincerity of the arguments presented by Alex Salmond, the Yes campaign managed to tap into sentiments amongst the Scottish electorate which even this staunch Unionist feels are natural, just and proper. It simply won’t do for Britain to uncritically play host to American nuclear weapons, to adopt austerity measures from Brussels without consulting all of the United Kingdom, to sally forth at our (their former colonies’) slightest arbitrary and belligerent whim against some third-rate Middle Eastern nation. In all of these things, the Yes campaign managed to position itself in the right, and that should have been felt throughout the UK.

Maybe it is hypocritical of me to say so. But then, I can only ask that the Lord will have mercy on me, a sinner, and give me to say the truth even if I myself am too darkened to live it out. The best that can come from this vote is that Westminster will honour the concessions they have made, even at the last minute, in order to head off the Yes campaign. The best that can come from this vote is that the United Kingdom will tack into a more federalist, Eurosceptic and left-leaning wind. That it will show a firmer and more sincere commitment to a genuine social safety net for the poorest English, Welsh, Irish and Scots all four. Scotland has demanded, and will again demand it. And the northern English and the Welsh – far more so than the Scots – will need it.

More than this vote has, how Westminster reacts to it will determine the fate of the Union.

13 September 2014

Pointless video post - ‘Один день из жизни Егора Кузнецова’ by KYPCK

Can anything possibly be more awesome than a metal band singing about Russian history? How about a Finnish metal band, singing in Russian about Russian history? On top of that, a Finnish metal band with a particularly industrial-metallic sensibility (in spite of being pure doom), using Red Army-reminiscent uniforms and Kalashnikov-shaped guitars. It is clear from their lyrics that they approach the topic of Soviet history with a kind of grim fascination, yet at the same time (from the interviews the band has given) they seem to think it was a noble experiment gone horribly, horribly wrong - and therefore a suitably tragic topical field for a doom band to write about. Actually, for the most part, they sing about more general existential or religious topics, or the pains of daily life (as in this song). ‘Один день из жизни Егора Кузнецова’ has a particularly Sabbathy feel to it, and therefore suits my tastes quite well. Russian. Doom. From Finland? Oddly satisfying. Give it a listen (or five or six)!

12 September 2014

Holy and Right-Believing Grand Prince S. Aleksandr Nevsky of Vladimir, Kiev and Novgorod

Today is the feast day of another Rurikovich saint, S. Aleksandr Yaroslavich ‘of Neva’, Grand Prince of Vladimir, Kiev and Novgorod. A mighty warrior, he also possessed a kindly heart and an able tongue, which he used when negotiating with the Golden Horde to leave Russia intact and undisturbed. His most famous military feat was his daring attack on a massive Swedish army in 1240 at the confluence of the Neva and Izhora rivers, which prevented a potentially-devastating invasion of Russia from the northwest and earned him his byname of Nevsky. He also defeated an invasion of German and Estonian heavy knights on the frozen Lake Peipus two years later; one of the first times an army of foot-soldiers was able to defeat one of heavily-armoured Teutonic knights. These battles secured his reputation as a hero of Novgorod, which had faced numerous invasions on three fronts: west, north and east. But his most important (and most controversial, from a Western perspective) decision was that to give tribute to the Golden Horde in exchange for their leaving his lands alone.

It must be remembered that the Golden Horde had already reduced a number of Russian cities - Yaroslavl, Chernigov, Pereyaslavl, Vladimir, even Kiev - to rubble, and he was keenly aware at the time that the papal envoys were attempting to use Novgorod as a shield against the Horde whilst at the same time sending other powers to attack him from the rear. Thus, his determination to keep Russia safe, free and neutral led him to a harsh policy against Sweden and the Teutonic Knights, but to an accommodationist one against the Tatars. This can be demonstrated from his personal intervention in 1263, when he went himself to beg the Tatar khan not to attack the towns of Novgorod on account of a few of them that had failed to pay the demanded tribute. As a Prince, S. Aleksandr Nevsky placed the well-being of the people of his kingdom first and his own prestige second.

As a personal aside: it was in the Church of S. Aleksandr Nevsky that I first heard a Slavonic Liturgy, and that I first truly encountered the generosity and hospitality of the Orthodox faith. At that church, Fr. Valery first explained to me that the Orthodox faith directs itself toward Christ, that it is the journey and the road (the right road, for all that!), rather than the end, and that it acknowledges that even those outside the Church are making journeys of their own. The Church of S. Aleksandr Nevsky in Saimasai, Kazakhstan, was for the brief time I was there my true refuge from the spiritual darkness that I was in. For that, I feel that to Fr. Valery and to S. Aleksandr particularly, I owe a great debt of gratitude. Holy and right-believing Prince of the Rus’, please pray for us to Our Lord.

The centrist trap and apophatic politics

The brilliant young blogger and fellow ‘magenta millennial’ Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig just posted a wonderful short essay, one which I had actually been trying to write for some time. But not only did she do it first, but she did it better! Which is all the more reason for me to go ahead and try to improve mine by framing it as a response to hers, because that’s what bloggers do. So I want to go ahead and say that not only should you read her essay, dearest readers, but you should read her entire blog. She is a brilliant author with her heart firmly in the right place.

And that is equally true here. She is speaking to the dangers of being seen as ‘centrist’, how the very term itself can mask a very broad array of positions, and how at any rate such a designation begs the question: the ‘centre’ of what? Where do you park the two poles you place yourself between? How do you frame your political priorities and borrow from each ‘pole’? Lord knows I’m guilty of this fallacy as well, and of ‘poxing both their houses’ Jon Stewart-style. See my previous post for a good example. It is a poor defence, indeed almost worse in a way, that I try to set out where I stand in as technically-correct a way as I can. Again, readily on display. See? I’m a ‘left-authoritarian’, whatever that means. To be honest, sometimes I think it just means I admire Zhukov.

Mrs. Bruenig is likewise correct to assert that Americanism is a problem, and that our ‘red’ and our ‘blue’ don’t represent the entire spectrum of ideas, and indeed narrow that spectrum in ways which exclude a priori a broad field of experience and political commitment. But the problem goes deeper. I would not call myself ‘anti-American’, because I am American, my family is American, and my ancestors are American – particularly and indeed especially the ones who agitated and fought on the side of the British Crown against the revolutionaries. I admire American people and American lifeways, though these are often opposed to or run against the official American political narrative. But I do realise there is a danger that even opposition to Americanism runs the risk of posing American politics as the centre and ignoring or downplaying broad swathes of thought running outside, agonal to or unconcerned with American politics. There is a reason why Noam Chomsky is indispensable reading for left-wingers but only to a certain point. He no less than his targets has a tendency for keeping American policy at the centre of everyone’s attention.

And there is, of course, the middle-ground fallacy itself, which Mrs. Bruenig so adroitly skewers. Just because something falls in the middle between two extremes does not mean that it is the best option.

What I think – what I hope – Mrs. Bruenig is getting at here is a kind of politics which defines itself primarily by what it is not, rather than by what it is. Particularly hopeful is this last line:
Magenta, yes. Centrist, not at all. Defined by the polarity of American partisan politics? Not even close. I know, I know: go ahead, throw your vote away. You got me, Kodos and Kang.
This would seem to point to a kind of apophatic politics, a politics which keeps its theological soundness (in a way which she feels Niebuhr’s does not) by taking an approach similar to that of Orthodox theology. Orthodoxy holds in dialectic tension the apophatic and the cataphatic tendencies, by keeping what we can know about God in light of the knowledge that our knowledge is insufficient. A sound approach to politics will (hopefully) do the same, because politics which assures itself of the infallibility of its own knowledge is not politics but ideology. And all ideology is, at root, heresy.

So, for example, with modern American conservatism we can affirm the wrongness of taking unborn human life. But for the selfsame reasons that taking unborn human life is wrong, we must witness against modern American conservatism on a whole host of other issues, like the denial of health-care benefits to expecting and new mothers, for starters. But because we can and should speak out about the wrongness of destroying brown children in the womb by uncontrolled doctors, we can and should also speak out about the wrongness of bombing brown children in the mountains by remote-control planes, and about the wrongness of shooting brown children in the streets by out-of-control cops. We can and should also speak about the wrongness of telling a woman she must bear her unborn child, whilst not expecting to raise him on anything more than starvation wages because she’s a ‘failure at life’.

With modern American liberalism we can affirm the need for a government that takes more than a procedural view of justice, and advocates for the poor. But we must also note the irony that the basis for any such government must be theological. Such a government will not bear up even under a liberal theory of the social contract – because, aside from the fact that the social contract is a patent falsehood, the ‘social contract’ has always been used not to protect the poorest and least vulnerable members of society, but to justify the ‘rights’ of the wealthiest to the protection and patronage of the government. The social contract is a bourgeois contract, because the rights the contract protects are all couched in terms of property.

Likewise: that property rights fall under our critique does not make us communist. That we love the traditions of our homelands and see ‘philopatria’ as a good and healthy thing does not make us fascist. And that we can understand the need for public participation and voice in government does not make us democrats. And yet we are standing for something – for the dignities inherent in, and promised through, the Incarnation. Christ, the one person in the All-Holy Trinity, fully human and fully God, who in His paradox cannot be understood by logic alone but with the eyes of faith, stands with us. (I say that not as an assurance of the rightness of my own political beliefs, by the way – to the contrary, Christ’s presence with me shows me where I continue to fall short!)

Postscript: It strikes me that Mrs. Bruenig’s excellent piece has given me some other thoughts on American politics. She says that our politics are ‘polarised’, but on a far narrower spread of opinion, objectively speaking, elsewhere in the world; I agree completely! But it strikes me that the differences between Republicans and Democrats – not even just the politicians, but the people as well – are more dependent on cultural signalling than on actual, legitimate ideological disagreement.

You can have on the one hand a latte-drinking, bespectacled, button-down Birkenstock-wearing vegetarian hipster who eats only organic food, lives in an urban centre or college town, and drives an electric hybrid. And on the other hand you can have a gun-toting, plaid flannel-wearing red meat-eating redneck who likes to go range-shooting and has a King James Bible in the glove compartment of his four-wheel drive pickup truck. But these two hypothetical individuals would, if one could keep the conversation off of culture, find a broad range of agreement with each other on the topics of individual liberty
vis-à-vis state power, of economic policy and even of foreign policy. American liberals and American conservatives are far closer to each other in terms of opinion than they tend to think.

Advocates of bipartisanship may think this is a good thing, but only in the short run. It might be easy enough to keep most of the American public on the same track by keeping genuine political variances as minimal as possible whilst focussing most of our energy on cultural differences, but it’s ultimately self-destructive. Cultural differences matter at a deeper level than policy does, and by driving cultural wedges through the population to keep up the appearances of democratic participation, the movers and shakers of public opinion may be laying the foundations of a lasting divide wherein adherents to the ‘liberal’ MSNBC-watching subculture and the ‘conservative’ Fox News-watching subculture may end up genuinely believing they don’t have anything in common with each other, with dire effects later on down the road.

11 September 2014

Profile in toolishness: Ted Cruz

He was booed off-stage at the In Defence of Christians gala not for being pro-Israel or pro-Jewish, but for demonstrating through his blind and unthinking support for Israel such a thorough lack of understanding of the issues at play in the Middle East, and thus a studied lack of empathy for Christians specifically in the Middle East. Among Palestinians, a sizeable minority are Christian – fairly evenly divided between Orthodox and Roman Catholic, and also a few Anglicans – and Christians and Muslims suffered in equal proportion from Israeli violence in Gaza. Likewise, it’s a matter of fact that Hezbollah and the ‘Islamic’ State are mortal enemies (the same can be said for most Islamic groups and the ‘Islamic’ State, actually), and it is a matter of basic survival for many Christians to ally themselves with armed groups that not only aren’t seeking to kill, rape and torture them, but are actually fairly friendly and supportive to them. For Cruz to stand up and lump Hezbollah and ISIS together, and then to say that ‘Christians have no greater ally than Israel’ at such an event, particularly in the wake of the recent Gaza offensive, is an insult, whether or not he intended it.

As Seraphim Danckaert at Orthodox Christian Network puts it:
Given his comments, and his response to the people who reacted by booing, it appears Cruz has no meaningful exposure to the actual experience of Middle Eastern Christians, nor does it seem he is even aware that there are millions of Middle Eastern Christians (and Jews, for that matter) who are strongly opposed to the official political and military policies of the modern state of Israel.

The phrase that ignited the disagreement is particularly telling: “Christians have no greater ally than Israel.”

What kind of worldview or theological bias would allow for such a statement? Only one that presumes there is a definite conformity between the needs and desires of Christians everywhere and the Middle East policy of the United States of America. It seems to me, in other words, that when Ted Cruz says “Christians have no greater ally than Israel,” he really means that “America has no greater ally than Israel” — and that the subjects of those two sentences are identical in his mind.
It may be uncharitable and cynical of me to say so, but I think one possible explanation for Cruz’s comments is that he simply doesn’t care about the Christians he came to address. He has no reason to care. Cruz may not understand the Middle East, but one can bet good money that he understands very well that these Christians have a decided lack of campaign contribution funds. Unlike Israel. (Or, as Michael Brendan Dougherty caustically put it: ‘I guess someone has to stand up against the menace of Maronite Christians and their powerful American mouthpieces.’) And it should be noticed that Cruz is not alone in his lack of concern for persecuted Christians in the Middle East and North Africa – the Tea Party noise machine (the Washington Free Beacon, Breitbart, the Blaze, Hot Air) have put out the official line hailing Cruz as ‘principled’ and having ‘character’ for standing up for the Israel lobby in telling Middle Eastern Christians what they ought to think, and have all but characterised the entire IDC event as a Hezbollah front.

Let this be an instructive moment for American Christians who take their faith seriously, as it demonstrates clearly that it is a fallacy that Republicans are in any measurable way more friendly to Christian concerns, or in any way more Christian in their approach to politics, than the Democrats are. Neither party is particularly interested in a bloc of people – Middle Eastern Christians – whose very existence appears to be a nuisance as far as American geopolitics is concerned, and who have decidedly shallow pockets. American geopolitics is not Christian, however much Republicans (and, to a lesser but growing extent, Democrats) try to doll it up in Christian drag.

But the Evil One will continue to laugh as long as he is able to convince a majority of American Christians that following their flag or their tribal partizan identity is the same thing as following the Cross. Lord, have mercy upon us all.

EDIT: Rod Dreher has the definitive quote on this sorry affair.
So what? They deserve to be killed by ISIS because they don’t support Israel, or US policy in the Mideast? They deserve to be spited and mocked and used by a US Republican senator from Texas who now has the footage he needs to make a campaign commercial, and to pull in donations from home state megachurches? Meanwhile, the Christians of the Middle East, who have been worshiping there since the days Jesus of Nazareth walked the earth, are slowly being ground down to nothing. But hey, the American right-wing media machine took what it wanted out of the Christian patriarchs’ backsides, so it’s all cool, right?

09 September 2014

In for a penny, in for a pounding

Paul Krugman outlines the absurdity of the case for Scottish independence, as Salmond is making it, with some basic sound oeconomic pence (er, sense):
Comparing Scotland with Canada seems, at first, pretty reasonable. After all, Canada, like Scotland, is a relatively small economy that does most of its trade with a much larger neighbor. Also like Scotland, it is politically to the left of that giant neighbor. And what the Canadian example shows is that this can work. Canada is prosperous, economically stable (although I worry about high household debt and what looks like a major housing bubble) and has successfully pursued policies well to the left of those south of the border: single-payer health insurance, more generous aid to the poor, higher overall taxation.

Does Canada pay any price for independence? Probably. Labor productivity is only about three-quarters as high as it is in the United States, and some of the gap may reflect the small size of the Canadian market (yes, we have a free-trade agreement, but a lot of evidence shows that borders discourage trade all the same). Still, you can argue that Canada is doing O.K.

But Canada has its own currency, which means that its government can’t run out of money, that it can bail out its own banks if necessary, and more. An independent Scotland wouldn’t. And that makes a huge difference.

Could Scotland have its own currency? Maybe, although Scotland’s economy is even more tightly integrated with that of the rest of Britain than Canada’s is with the United States, so that trying to maintain a separate currency would be hard. It’s a moot point, however: The Scottish independence movement has been very clear that it intends to keep the pound as the national currency. And the combination of political independence with a shared currency is a recipe for disaster.
Sadly, the Yes-bloc Scots seem to be taking no lessons at all from the successive crises of the European Union, particularly from those of its poorer members, and ignoring at all costs the wisdom of a national government retaining control over its own currency, so that the agencies of monetary and finical policy are not at loggerheads. There is even more to the case than Krugman is making here, because a Scotland without its own monetary policy would soon find itself at the mercy of London with regard to financing all of the generous welfare programmes the Yes vote is trying to sell itself on. And that London would no longer have any non-oeconomic reason to provide that financing. Krugman uses the example of Spain’s housing bust misfortunes under EU monetary policy to demonstrate just this point, but given that Scotland is much more historically and oeconomically integrated into the United Kingdom even than Spain is into the European Union, the pain when Scotland faces similar crises (and face similar crises it shall) without the aid of its own banking system will be so much the keener.

Give this entire article a read, and share it post-haste with any and all of your Scottish friends, correspondence and acquaintance. There is yet time before the vote; calm and rational arguments like the ones Krugman makes should be given precedence here.

06 September 2014

So future

I just wanted to give a shout-out to a good forum-friend, FB acquaintance and fellow-traveller of mine, Ding Hansen, who has a new blog up and running called I’m So Future. He isn’t religious at all, and of course he’s a hip-hop fellow rather than a hesher, but we run pretty much on the same wavelength on a broad range of issues economic, geopolitical and social, and in general sharing a social-justice leftism tinged with what might be considered traditionalist concerns. And, of course, we both have a shared distaste for Western left-liberal foreign policy hawks who can be distinguished from neoconservatives only by degree, not by kind.

And his blog post on Chinese racism against blacks and Muslims, and how (white, liberal) Westerners continue to be complicit in it, is devastatingly dead-on target and worth a thorough and a careful read. And he also happens to be a wittier, cleverer and less prolix writer than I am, so please do stop over and enjoy, my dear readers!