The American Dream 250

Here am I spreaking at the Oxford Union, in entertaining mode.

You can see the other speeches in the debate. The Motion “This house still dreams the American Dream” was defeated.

The following week the motion “This house believes that Israel is a force for good in the Middle East” was also defeated. I hear Peter Tatchell was excellent.

I don not think the format of such debates is antiquated and irrelevant. It helps get students thinking, and you get a range of opinion denied an airing elsewhere. I can never get to say those things on the mainstream media.

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250 thoughts on “The American Dream

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  • crab

    Hi Fred, when you recall your general charges you keep underpinning them by adding “abuse” to the end of the list. But teenagers playing horny webcam are not necessarily abusing each other, unless you are coming from the culture which believes they should all be chaste until courted by “the one” and married. Actually thats the ominous advice i grew up with, it didnt work and it gave me alot of anxiety and made me vulnerable.
    You will disturb kids growing up now in what is an overly sexualised culture if you give them a superstitous dread of sexual misdeamer and term every mistake in terms of crime and abuse.
    A kid in a position to privately webcam, already has the full breadth of online pornographic media to privately come to terms with – that is extremely confusing and hazardous to isolated childrens developement and nerves and mentality. The original crime is children can be isolated and unaware and have to secretly investigate their urges in an illicit and criminalised atmosphere, because the adults around them are themselves disturbed and repressed about sex, still telling them fairy tales which they dont believe themselves. The more sociable kids can get their understanding from their own peer culture, if their parents cant provide something functional. A peer culture can include dispersed virtual relationships and encounters.
    If kids are clued up enough to get online unsupervised, they need to be clued up enough to determine whether and whom they would like to have a virtual wank with. (i have never done that btw, but have come across it and begrudge the idea of it)
    If kids aren’t clued up its their cultures fault and they will have difficult experiences with other kids and adults online, and even moreso “away from keyboard” which will always be the least transient place.

  • Herbie


    Two instances support a claim to two instances, though I expect greedy people like you always expect more for less.

    They simply don’t support your recurring claim of “all” or “most” or variants thereof, which is of course pure paranoia on your part.

    I note that in your post at 10.21am above, you’ve now reduced the scope of your claim to “at least some”. I believe this is one of those moments where an LOL is called for.

  • Mary

    The boy wonder has gone to Mali to see what else he can do to aid the killing and maiming in North Africa and to meet ‘British personnel’.


    Another name to go down in the book of British war crimes. ‘It did not go quite as I expected’ or words to that effect – Bliar Feb 2013

    Al Sweady Inquiry Into Iraq War Abuse Claims

    An inquiry is due to start into whether UK troops tortured and killed dozens of Iraqis after the Battle of Danny Boy in 2004.

  • Mary

    I wish to correct this sentence I posted yesterday about O’Brien.

    ‘Rather bad timing with the conclave about to atart but better said than not. I always rather admired him for some of his outspokenness.

    I was under a misapprehension that he had made statements sympathetic to the Palestinian cause but apparently not from a search. The statements I can find are condemnatory of homosexual behaviour and same sex marriage. What a hypocrite he has turned out to have been.

    He has left the country apparently. There will be a Vatican investigation into his activities but the findings will not be made public. What a surprise.

  • Mary

    The final two paragraphs here are chilling.

    ‘The Obama administration’s hands are awash with the blood of countless innocent Syrians, blood that promises to spill into Lebanon and other neighboring states as the region becomes destabilized along ethnic-religious lines. The “popular revolution” in Syria has long ago been replaced by foreign mercenary terrorists financed by Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The Obama administration has overseen this entire process, while actively trying to organize a respectable “public face” for the rebels.

    Obama’s recent strides in Syria end with a logical conclusion: U.S. direct military intervention. The stage is still being set, waiting until optimal conditions are met for a Libyan style U.S./NATO mass-bombing mission to finish off the Syrian government. In the eyes of Obama the resulting disaster will be worth the mess, since a non-compliant regime to the U.S. will have been toppled, thus clearing the path for the long term plan of crushing Iran.’

    March 04, 2013
    Will the U.S. Intervene with Troops?
    Obama Wades Deeper Into Syria’s Morass

  • nevermind

    Ex cardinal O’ Brian, of retiring and taking a back seat, but not of repentance and leaving the church in disgrace, forthwith to sit in a stone cubbyhole on the Isle of Arran facing west, and in contemplation.

    During this mornings Radio 4 today, someone’s who’s name slipped my mind, argued that having sex with priests does not necessarily make him homosexual, a little bit like some Russian male attitudes that belief the same, which gives the whole debate a new leaning, so they say.

    I’m off into the garden, spread some muck.

  • Clark

    Contributor behind “Habbabkuk”, just to clarify; my beliefs about corporate power are roughly:

    * that the power of corporations is overlooked and/or underestimated by the majority of people,

    * that when people do consider corporate power, they tend to focus on the personalities of powerful people within corporations, and tend to overlook the structural influences that select such people within corporations,

    * that some corporations have power comparable with nation states, and that some corporations are more powerful than some nation states.

    * that lack of corporate transparency increases corporate power,

    * that transnational corporations benefit from an ability to play nation states off against each other, for instance by moving their operations to countries where government control of corporations is less stringent,

    * that in particular, corporate media must be regarded as integral to the world’s power structures due to its overwhelming effects upon voting patterns,

    * that an ongoing process of corporate buy-out, take-over and merger are concentrating and thereby accentuating corporate power.

    I suppose it is a sort of conspiracy theory, in the weak sense that a corporation is a non-hidden conspiracy. I don’t think that all the world’s problems are the fault of corporations, but I do think that corporate power is grossly underestimated.

  • Clark

    I think that someone here recently posted a link to an article by or interview of Julian Assange, where he highlights corporate power and lack of transparency, and argues that revealing internal corporate dynamics and communication is necessary in order to study, understand and evaluate corporate power. Please post it again as I can’t find it.

  • angrysoba

    Herb: “Jared Diamond’s argument only goes so far as explaining how Europeans and subsequently Americans managed to get their hands on superior weapons, the better with which to plunder. The vast majority of European and American wealth comes not from domestic agriculture, obviously, but from the exploitation of those with poorer weapons.”

    This is not what Diamond is arguing. You are giving a very simplistic account of the book, which you haven’t read, by giving a misleading account of an article you appear to have skimmed. Diamond explains the conditions under which certain societies became successful agricultural societies which then enabled these societies to diversify into other technologies. Weapons is only one example. These same conditions also made the Eurasians disease-ridden. The lack of the same conditions meant that Meso-Americans and others didn’t develop those technologies or resistance to disease.

    But the point about his book, and the reason why I raised it, is that wealth and lifestyles is not zero-sum where one group becomes wealthy ONLY by dispossessing another. Think about this, in the early post-Pleistocene era there were far fewer people living nastier, more brutal and shorter lives than the majority of the seven billion alive today. How is it possible that more than hundreds of millions, maybe a billion or two of those are living pretty comfortable lives when 10,000 years ago the Earth couldn’t support those lifestyles? Clearly an expansion in actual wealth has occurred.

  • Clark

    Angrysoba, an increase in available wealth has indeed occurred, and Guns, Germs and Steel is an excellent book which offers some well argued broad-brush theories as to how, and why such wealth has developed in some areas more then others.

    But I think that Herbie is the wrong target. His argument that exploitation has also contributed to wealth inequality is an integral part of Jared Diamond’s arguments, though Diamond adds that some of the damaging effects were not intentional, but were accentuated by diseases that developed in domesticated animals and passed to human populations who subsequently became invaders.

    Really, I think you should be pointing the finger at those entities, national and commercial, that continue to exploit, even though theories such as Diamond’s indicate that wealth can be expanded without resorting to exploitation.

  • Fred


    I make no distinction between a boy saying have virtual sex with me or I post these pictures to your Facebook page and a boy saying have sex with me or I will beat you up.

    In this case the judge seems to have made allowances for the boy’s age, I have no problems with that. I do have problems with allowances being made for the boy’s proximity.

  • Mary

    Well said Clark in all three comments. You have a great command of the English language, if I may say so, which make your comments completely intelligible.


    Like Nevermind I have been digging and spreading, not muck, but the contents of a compost bin. The hens are in their heaven with the worms. I try not to think of the connection between the worm input and the egg output. All good protein I suppose. It is so warm outside that I have had to come in to cool down!

  • Herbie


    I well understand the book’s argument in this respect, that the development of agriculture provides for specialization in other areas and so on.

    There are problems with this beyond the discussion we’re having here, but let’s leave those aside for the moment.

    I don’t disagree that there are marginal increases in wealth as a result, but they’re nothing compared to what came after conquest.

    The problem for your argument is that agriculture and the surpluses it provides leading to the creation of other areas of work is not in itself an explanation for the massive wealth of Europe. That didn’t come until a number of those specializations allowed Europeans to develop weapons and technologies of exploitation abroad.

    As Diamond says in, “2003 AFTERWORD: Guns, Germs, and Steel Today”:

    “The Musket/Potato Wars illustrate the main process running through the history of the last 10,000 years: human groups with guns, germs, and steel, or with earlier technological and military advantages, spreading at the expense of other groups, until either the latter groups became replaced or everyone came to share the new advantages. Recent history furnishes innumerable examples as Europeans expanded to other continents. In many places the non-European locals never got a chance to acquire guns and ended up losing their lives or their freedom”.

    Ultimately that’s what produces real wealth.

    If you look at the timeline of wealth increase in Europe you’ll see that it explodes as conquest takes off. That’s not even a controversial point at all.

    And if we take it right up to the present day it’s not hard to work out that the standard of living in the West is unsustainable other than by continuing conquest and plunder. That process has been ongoing and continuing in Europe and America for hundreds of years.


    Incidently, and this isn’t a criticism of Diamond, it’s clear too that Ferguson’s efforts owe much to Diamond’s work.

  • Clark

    Mary, thanks. My writing style has developed considerably through commenting here, where a variant of Murphy’s Law seems to apply:

    “If any phrase in a comment can be misinterpreted or exaggerated, it will be.”

  • guano

    Ken Clark plays a musical instrument called a plummy voice better than any jazz musician he loves to listen to.
    R4 news at one today, ” Other people think we’re mad ” to divulge so much information about intelligence and torture. Fine if you’re my granny trying to justify an out of date opinion with ‘everybody says’. Very suspect coming from a seasoned old politician of any variety, including my friends in Islam.

    The UK is not an old lady, parliament is not an old lady and the BBC is not an old lady. They are the tools of politics and they have to be fit for purpose for our time. This impromptu fudge is perfectly ok in Jazz music, but absolutely outrageous in the context of humans being tortured and imprisoned. Very reminiscient of the attitudes heard in the JCHR about torture. Fortunately they will be able to find out the truth in the eternal fire.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    @ Herbie :

    Unlike some, dear Herbie, I am always ready to refine my comments in the direction of ever greater accuracy.

    You might reflect on whether that might not be a good example for you to follow.

  • Mary

    Further on the Al Sweady enquiry

    Al-Sweady inquiry shown Iraq ‘torture’ photographs
    Staff to the inquiry have trawled through as many as 12,000 documents

    Related Stories
    UK inquiry opens into Iraqi deaths
    MoD names Iraq ‘abuse’ probe head
    UK concedes new Basra death probe

    A public inquiry into allegations that British soldiers mistreated and murdered Iraqi detainees in 2004 has been shown graphic photographs of alleged victims of torture.

    The Al-Sweady inquiry will examine claims following the Battle of Danny Boy in Maysan province, southern Iraq.

    Jonathan Acton Davis QC said the inquiry aimed to identify the events surrounding the deaths of 28 Iraqi men.

    The Ministry of Defence has said it has seen no evidence to support the claims.

  • Mary

    With the economic crisis battering many Americans, this really is a good time to be highlighting the more than $3 billion a year being taken from the pockets of Americans and donated to Israel. In the last decade, that money has funded 670 million weapons for Israel to use against Palestinians and others.

    As the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC starts its annual conference in Washington DC today, a visually striking ad campaign has been launched in the city. It would be great to see this campaign go nationwide. It might finally rock some of the unthinking support among Americans for Israel.

    For more images from the campaign, see:

  • Villager

    Brilliant arguments above Clark, well-spoken. You made that 5-foot-in-his woollen socks fool look like the mental dwarf that he is–with about as much ‘intellectual firepower’ as a little hitler.

    What a phrase….”intellectual firepower”….only a cuckoo would fly over Craig’s nest here claiming “intellectual firepower”. LOL. Joker.

  • doug scorgie

    2 Mar, 2013 – 2:05 pm

    “Douggie babe”

    “The Qur’an is written in Arabic. Lol. Your fraudie friend, Guano.”

    The language you used guano was not Arabic what was it?

  • Herbie

    habbakuk pleads

    “I am always ready to refine my comments in the direction of ever greater accuracy.”

    I’ll agree that you did on this occasion, albeit after some prompting.

    I’m not aware though that you’ve always done this, as you claim. My memory is of your terms becoming ever more expansive as a discussion developed.

    Therefore, in order to support your claim, can you please provide a reasonably compelling sample of posts in which, in discussion, you’ve refined your terms in order to achieve greater accuracy.

  • doug scorgie

    4 Mar, 2013 – 8:24 am

    “Zionist bankers are trying to highjack our country for their own fanatical religious purposes…”

    You said earlier that Britain was going to be taken over by Muslims.

    Make your mind up.

    And also answer my earlier question

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