Friday, 28 February 2014

Today - Report by Jim Naughtie

My faith in humanity was boosted yesterday by the announcement that the three parties down south telling Scotland that they are against sharing the pound was reflected by a jump in the polls for the yes vote. Now I don't want to tell you how to think about this, as I am irrelevant, but it is always nice to see the best laid plans of mice and men backfiring.

Seldom come these little victories over those with power, but I always knew that the most crucial element in this referendum would be the attitude of South-East England: if they take up a hectoring stance, they are likely to fail; of they merely observe they are more likely to succeed.

We Scots are a fickle lot, we hate to be ignored or overlooked, but never tell us what to do, unless you are using reverse psychology. In any case it is quite a fascinating tussle, when you look through the lies and bluster from both sides.

Mind you, I like the lies, I like it when Gideon states that Scotland can't keep the pound [which is a fully convertible, international currency so he really has no say]. Then he says it would be unworkable for the UK to have a currency union with another economy [completely ignoring the FACT that the UK is already in a currency union with the Isle of Man] and that the Irish Punt was pegged to Sterling until 1978.

All in all, this was never going to be about the nitty-gritty details, it is about a reversal of history [read EspaƱa Invertebrada to have that fully explained by a bloke than me], when empires no longer expand, they tend to contract!

Either way the vote goes life will go on and I will still be on the same piece of ground [unless I die] and it will make little impact on my little life .....

Susan Rae on Radio Four Extra

I am not always grumpy, sometimes I like things, here is the thing I like now. Susan Rae is wasted on Radio Four, she is brilliant on Radio Four Extra.

"My name is Susan Rae, and frankly my dear, I don't give a damn" 11th June 2013

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Our Word is Our Weapon

I am currently about a third of the way through "Our Word is Our Weapon" selected writings of Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos. This fascinating book [well its not really a 'book' it is more an anthology of the statements of the EZLN the the words of "El Sup"]. Now I am in no place to judge the rights and wrongs of a group of downtrodden indigenous peoples in the South-East of Mexico who took all the abuse of the Mexican state until eventually they said to themselves "Enough is Enough"; but Subcomandante Marcos says it well enough for me to say ¡Basta Ya!

I have grown cynical in my old age, and for that I should be ashamed, I really should have the belief that I once had, but I am close to the belief that when the EZLN are no longer necessary they will melt away into the background. But I am not here to judge the future, this post is about the words attributed to El Sup!

His words seem to come from the heart, the comparisons made with "El Che" are erroneous, they are simply way off: the works of Ernesto Guevara de la Serna are are brilliant, groundbreaking, but they are overall 'analytical', they are about means and ends, the words of Marcos are of soulsearching, they are of a lyricist who has found the strength and dignity to stand up straight and demand what he sees to be right.

This post is not a polemic, I know where I stand on the Zapatista cause, this post is about a collection of words, those words are polemic, but they are also beautiful, dignified and rebellious, they look their oppressors in the eye and say

"There is no place for us in the World of the Powerful"

Monday, 24 February 2014

A Point of View - Roger Scruton

I am a bit of a fan of "A Point of View" on Radio 4, yes I don't always agree and sometimes I don't even get what they are on about, but the presenters are usually cogent and make their points interestingly. But I do not think I have ever been infuriated by the programme before last week's edition presented by Roger Scruton. Admittedly I had never heard of this bloke before and there is a reason for this, the reason being that I prefer to listen to people who do not talk out of their own arse.

I looked him up online and it seems he is some kind of philosopher [we all know what that means] yet the basis of his 'point of view' seemed to be that it was unfair that he as an Englishman had no say in the referendum on the future of Scotland. This was unfair as Scotland [according to Mr Scruton] controls the Labour party and therefore controls the balance of power in the Wesminster Parliament by proxy, whilst at the same time runs its own affairs up here.

Hey, Mr Scruton, learn how to count! Please count the numbers of MP elected to Westminster, then subtract those elected to represent Scottish Constituencies, then subtract those who represent the Labour party, then grow up you infantile little man. If Scotland exerted so much influence over the rest of the UK, a lot more investment would take place up here and not in the South-East which is already benefiting more than the rest of the UK anyway.

Oh and the reason that you have no say in the referendum is relatively simple [I would have thought a 'philosopher' might have used his brain a little]: The reason being that it has absolutely nothing to do with you, now bugger off and get back to voting for UKIP, you little man!

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Fernand Braudel - "The Identity of France"

I am currently trying to read a book, it is called "The Identity of France" written by Fernand Braudel. I say trying to read because it is a hugely turgid, abysmal tome, written by a Frenchman trying to convince the reader that France is in some way 'special'.

The very first chapter starts by stating "France is Diversity", and as if people were meant to be shocked that France is not a homogeneous beast, he goes on to proclaim that France is even more diverse than any other country in the world. Now here is the problem: all countries are diverse [with the possible exception of the Faroe Islands [and I'm not sure that still applies]] and they are all diverse in their own way [even little ole Scotland here is diverse [we Bairns are not even the same species as fifers]. To claim France is the most diverse is simply drivel.

I have read many histories of many countries, all claim diversity as part of the make up of the state, I have seen stark differences in Spain and Italy with my own eyes. However those books gave examples and explanations, not so Mishoo Braudel, he simply states it as fact. I am not disputing the diversity of France, to compare Ipparalde to Alsace or Paris would be folly, but it needs to be explained to the reader.

The book [I am about three quarters of the way through] has so far explained so far that France's Identity is defined by "regional differences"; a dispute between central & devolved power/government; internal travel difficulties [eased with the development of roads]; patterns if internal and external migration/immigration/emigration; and its dealings/wars/trade with its neighbouring countries. That applies to virtually every country in the world! He has not written about France, he has written about the development of the state since the resolutions come to by the Treaty of Ribe over the Schleswig-Holstein Question. But I digress.

If you want to read about France, there are much better books out there, they make a point, they get to the point, and they don't just say "I am a professor, listen to me blow my own trumpet!"