The Question of Character 463

Every now and then, I feel myself compelled to write something I know that the majority of my readers will not agree with. That is because I do not go along with left wing groupthink any more than I go along with the line of the Establishment. I do not subscribe to a set of opinions. but attempt to consider every question afresh.

Wikileaks is much criticised for having published the leaked Hillary and Podesta emails, thus having “caused” Trump. At its extreme, this involves the entire evidence free “Russiagate” paranoia. I find myself criticised for my association with Julian Assange on these same grounds.

The major answer to this is that it would have been morally wrong to conceal the evidence of Hillary’s wrongdoing, her associations with the Saudis and the Bankers, and particularly the rigging of the primary elections against Bernie Sanders by Hillary and the DNC. If I was accused of association with concealing all that, I would not be able to defend Wikileaks. Another part of the answer is that I am not sure any of this much affected the actual votes cast. But the most important bit of the answer is that I am not sorry that Clinton lost and Trump won.

I say that with apologies to all my American friends who are suffering from Trump’s harsh domestic policies and his version of the “hostile climate for immigrants” which we have long suffered in the UK. I do not underestimate the harm done by Trump’s penchant for trade wars, or his blindly pro-Israel policies and gestures, nor the continuation of the Saudi anti-Shia alliance.

But the vital fact for the rest of the world is that Trump remains the only US President since Jimmy Carter not to have launched a major war. In this, he is true to what he said consistently during his election campaign. I do not think you have to look any further than that for the explanation of why he pulled out of the attack on Iran following the destruction of the US drone. The mechanics of the decision taking are not its cause, contrary to all the speculation.

I should take the time to congratulate Iran on shooting down the drone. The Americans have killed tens of thousands of people, all over the Middle East and Central Asia, using such drones. That they should holler so much when somebody knocks one down is ludicrous.

I am absolutely convinced that, were Hillary President, the Middle East would now be devastated by the biggest of all the recent wars, and America would have invaded both Syria and Iran by now. Hillary was an enthusiast for the destruction of Iraq and Afghanistan and she was personally involved in starting the obliteration of the advanced Libyan state on the flimsiest of pretexts. The potential devastation she would have inflicted and the millions who would now be dead, maimed or orphaned outweighs in my view all the harm perpetrated by Trump. So my conclusion is this: I would far rather not have President Trump nor President Clinton, but forced into a straight binary choice I will take Trump. He has a better character; for all his faults he is the only one of the two who is not a psychopathic killer.

How the Trump administration plays out, given the warmongering advisors from the political Establishment with whom Trump has surrounded himself, is a fascinating question. John Bolton is as near evil as any human being can be. Which brings me back to the faux left and their views. In 2013, I spoke in a ceremony at the Oxford Union to give the Sam Adams Award for Integrity, of which previous winners include Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, John Kyriakou, Thomas Drake and myself. Hundreds of students from the “left” at Oxford University were engaged in a rowdy picket against the Sam Adams award aimed to stop the event because of the ridiculous allegations in Sweden against Assange.

Now get this. Exactly the day before, the Oxford Union had hosted an evening with John Bolton. Not a single member of the “left”, who tried to prevent Ray McGovern and I from speaking, had demonstrated against the egregious war criminal, responsible for the death of millions. There could not be a more stark example of the spectacular success of the Establishment in using the false trail of identify politics to split and divert the left, particularly among young people.

The following day I was again back in the Oxford Union, this time to take part in a debate on the American Dream. I genuinely was quite spectacularly drunk when I gave this speech. I always enjoy posting it, and am happy to do so again.

My cheerful admission to being drunk is relevant to the point of my imperfect character, and I now will annoy my readers again by saying I don’t think Boris Johnson’s domestic row is important – provided it did not involve violence – or tells us anything we did not know. I confess personally to having once been involved in a domestic shouting match so noisy that the police were called. It was entirely uncharacteristic of both my life and that relationship. Nor for once did I deserve to be shouted at. But these things happen. The evidence is that they happen much more often to Boris than to other people, and if his current partner expected him to be faithful she is plainly very foolish. When it comes to his personal relationships, the man is a serial rat. But did anybody not know that already?

The neighbours were quite right to intervene as they did, including calling the police. It is what should be done where there is real reason to fear domestic violence. Recording the events as potential evidence of a crime was also sensible. But I do not believe that giving the tape to the Guardian was justified. As it appears no violence was in the event involved and no crime had taken place, I do not believe further public prurience is in order. Nor do I believe Boris Johnson is obliged to reveal the detail of his private life to us. Doubtless his partner will sell the story to the tabloids when he eventually casts her off, be that days, months or years away.

Personally I shall welcome Boris Johnson’s elevation to be Prime Minister, which will not last long. It will be a catalyst for Scottish Independence. The political disintegration of the UK will hopefully jolt England out of the cul-de-sac of right wing politics in which it has been stranded for years. Johnson is an awful person. But his brand of uncaring and elitist conservatism is an infinitely greater problem than his domestic arrangements, and where the genuine public concern should lie.

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463 thoughts on “The Question of Character

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  • Squeeth

    “Leftwing groupthink”? What lefties wanted that loathsome bastard Clinton on the throne? You must mean liberals, people who are as far right as you can get.

    • Tom Welsh

      As those people are themselves vile psychopathic criminals who revel in torture and murder, I don’t think anyone should give undue weight to what they call themselves. Surely a mass-murderer will not baulk at a little self-misrepresentation.

      “If once a man indulges himself in murder, very soon he comes to think little of robbing; and from robbing he next comes to drinking and Sabbath-breaking, and from that to incivility and procrastination”.

      – Thomas De Quincey

      There is much controversy over how the meaning of words and expressions should be defined; I am very much on the conservative side of that debate, in that I believe that words have fairly definite meanings and should be used accordingly. (Unlike Humpty Dumpty, who – like the denizens of Washington – held that it is just a question of “who is to be master”).

      Thus, what people nowadays – especially politicians, and most especially American politicians – call “liberal”, “conservative”, “socialist” or “communist” is entirely different from what those words really mean. Often, indeed, exactly the opposite. Which is precisely the point: those who wish to degrade and destroy social cohesion have a powerful interest in undermining the comprehensibility of language.

      “If language is not correct, then what is said is not what is meant; if what is said is not what is meant, then what must be done remains undone; if this remains undone, morals and art will deteriorate; if justice goes astray, the people will stand about in helpless confusion. Hence there must be no arbitrariness in what is said. This matters above everything”.

      – “The Rectification of Names”, Confucius, Analects

      Noam Chomsky, as one might expect, has done some very important explaining of American political nomenclature. In “How the World Works” and elsewhere, he explains that by “democracy” Washington means utter subservience to Washington; and by “socialism” or “communism” it means any government that tries to work on behalf of its own people and their national interests.

      What is a liberal? Here, once more, are a couple of good stabs at a definition.

      n adjective
      1 respectful and accepting of behaviour or opinions different from one’s own. Ø(of a society, law, etc.) favourable to individual rights and freedoms. ØTheology regarding many traditional beliefs as dispensable, invalidated by modern thought, or liable to change.
      2 (in a political context) favouring individual liberty, free trade, and moderate political and social reform. Ø(Liberal) relating to Liberals or a Liberal Party, especially (in the UK) relating to the Liberal Democrat party.
      3 (of education) concerned with broadening general knowledge and experience.
      4 (especially of an interpretation of a law) not strictly literal.
      5 given, used, or giving in generous amounts.
      n noun
      1 a person of liberal views.
      2 (Liberal) a supporter or member of a Liberal Party, especially (in the UK) a Liberal Democrat.

      liberalism noun
      liberalist noun
      liberalistic adjective
      liberality noun
      liberally adverb
      liberalness noun

      Middle English (originally in sense ‘suitable for a free man’ hence ‘suitable for a gentleman’): via Old French from Latin liberalis, from liber ‘free (man)’.

      – Concise Oxford English Dictionary

      The Ten Commandments that, as a teacher, I should wish to promulgate, might be set forth as follows:
      1. Do not feel absolutely certain of anything.
      2. Do not think it worth while to proceed by concealing evidence, for the evidence is sure to come to light.
      3. Never try to discourage thinking for you are sure to succeed.
      4. When you meet with opposition, even if it should be from your husband or your children, endeavour to overcome it by argument and not by authority, for a victory dependent upon authority is unreal and illusory.
      5. Have no respect for the authority of others, for there are always contrary authorities to be found.
      6. Do not use power to suppress opinions you think pernicious, for if you do the opinions will suppress you.
      7. Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.
      8. Find more pleasure in intelligent dissent that in passive agreement, for, if you value intelligence as you should, the former implies a deeper agreement than the latter.
      9. Be scrupulously truthful, even if the truth is inconvenient, for it is more inconvenient when you try to conceal it.
      10. Do not feel envious of the happiness of those who live in a fool’s paradise, for only a fool will think that it is happiness.

      – Bertrand Russell: “A Liberal Decalogue”, from “The Best Answer to Fanaticism: Liberalism”, New York Times Magazine (16/December/1951); later printed in The Autobiography of Bertrand Russell (1969), vol. 3: 1944-1967, pp. 71-2.

      • David

        I absolutely agree with your point here – and that is a great quote from Confucius which I had entirely forgotten. And I agree that America appears to be the epicenter of the problem today, but it is most certainly not limited to America. When was the last time the British “Liberal” party actually espoused “Liberalism”, for example, as JS Mill might have recognized it?

        Add to your list of words that have been perverted: “capitalism”, “rights”, and “justice”. I get particularly frustrated by the way the word “capitalism” (any economic system which permits the private ownership of capital goods including laissez-faire, free-market liberalism, through mercantlism, to full-blown fascism and everything in between) is cunningly used (through the common association of the words “free market” with capitalsim; whereas in fact, while it is true free markets cannot exist without capitalism, capitalism can- and does today – happily exist without free markets) to blame the economic consequences of state intervention on free markets, and thus to justify further intervention which largely acts to the benefit of the corporate interests who so nobly, piously, earnestly and ardently “sponsor” (by which I mean “bribe” :-)) it into existence.

        On the main point of Craig’s essay, I am, for once, completely in agreement with Craig. I wouldn’t have voted for Trump had I had a vote in the US election; I wouldn’t have voted for anyone as I believe that abstention is a more moral choice than “the lesser of two evils”. But I was most certainly relieved when he beat Hillary for the same reasons Craig notes.

        Trump is a flawed individual. But, by God, he has avoided starting any new wars for longer than any other president since I don’t know when. And he is the first president in forever who has actually made a genuine difference to the amount of useless regulation and bureaucratic red tape impeding businesses from creating wealth.

        And in some ways he is a more honest president than any we have had for a long while. And no I am not suggesting he is a paragon of truth-telling virtue :-). Clearly he frequently bullshits, exaggerates, fabricates, and is unwilling ever to admit an error. But those are the child-like lies of an insecure braggart, and I believe that in the most important sense Trump is actually incredibly honest for a politician: he frequently allows you to see what he truly believes. I cannot remember the last politician in the UK or the US who was so open. Contrast Trump with the polished phrases of a Blair, a Cameron, a Bush, a Clinton, or an Obama. Sure you may not as easily catch them in a direct falsehood, but their words have misled you more cleverly, more surely, and by far more profoundly, than Trump’s ever could.

        Politicians who are honest about their own beliefs and intentions in this way – perhaps Tony Ben or Enoch Powell would qualify although I was too young at the time to really judge – tend to elicit strong reactions – because they speak clearly and therefore we are able to hear the things we might disagree with. But I think we should be very careful how we respond to such politicians. The temptation is to demonize them, to shout them down, to scream over them for the evilness of their ideas. But if we demonize every politician who dares to speak openly, then we should not be surprised when we are led by men who desire only power itself and whose carefully vetted, beautifully polished, entirely scripted utterances provide us with no clue as to their real intentions.

        • George

          “capitalism” doesn’t mean “any economic system which permits the private ownership of capital goods including laissez-faire, free-market liberalism, through mercantlism, to full-blown fascism and everything in between”. The key is in the bit about “capital goods”. Capitalism is self-expansion – a system determined by the compulsion to constantly generate monetary profit, which can only come from exploitation.

          • David

            I suspect, if we were to sit down face to face and discuss the sad state of the world today, and what a fairer, juster, happier world could and should look like, we would find that our criticisms of today’s world, and our aims for tomorrow’s were very close indeed.

            And I might well be wrong in all that I believe, and you might be right. That’s been known to happen before – at least me being wrong; obviously I cannot know for sure if you have ever been right :-). Having said that, my current belief is that you are wrong in what you say above.

            On your specific claims:

            1. Private ownership of capital goods, in and of itself, does not lead to compulsion to do anything. Compulsion, by definition, is when an individual employs voiolence, or the threat of violence, against another individual or group. It is a concept which is orthogonal to capitalism. Some socio-economic organizational structures feature both capitalism and compulsion (e,g, fascism which tends to feature a lot of compulsion), and others (e.g. anarcho capitalism) are, at least theoretically, entirely free of compulsion.

            2. Profit does not come only from exploitation, although it can be created that way. In a free market (and free markets require capitalism to exist, although capitalism can exist without free markets), profit comes from the creation of value to society.

            As an example, a woodcarver using his knife (a capital good) to turn a lump of wood into a beautiful figurine, which he then sells, is a capitalist. I do not see that he has exploited anyone, nor that he has compelled anyone, nor himself been compelled.

            It seems to me that the problems of exploitation and compulsion are neither unique to, nor a product of, capitalism. They are a product of the human desire for power. Unfortunately human socio-economic systems, or at least all the ones we have tried so far, do not seem to be stable. What happens is that some people acquire more power than others and they use it to expropriate resources from the rest of society through compulsion and exploitation. Once the process has started a feedback loop sets in. The more power these nefarious actors acquire, the more wealth and additional power they gain from it, and the more they are consequently able to increase their power. And as the power of these budding oligarchs waxes, the wealth and power of the rest of us wanes. And unfortunately, game theory dictates that we tend to cooperate with the oligarchs. As economic conditions worsen for each one of us we are faced with two choices – to work harder (which further exacerbates the problem as it increases the wealth of our oppressors), or to oppose our oppressors in a violent struggle. And by the time we notice the problem our chance, as an individual acting alone, to win the violent struggle is negligible. The oligarchs devote a huge amount of effort to preventing us from combining together using secret police forces, psy-ops, surveillance, and propaganda, and when necessary of course brute force. Propaganda is their most cost effective strategy: ensuring we are confused about the nature of the problem and that we argue amongst ourselves about the solution. Thus, prevented from acting in concert, we choose to work harder and the oligarchs grow stronger. Periodically of course conditions grow so bad, that death appears to be an acceptable alternative to slavery for enough people that a rebellion occurs. And, should the rebellion prove successful, we start over again.

            My contention is merely that the private ownership of capital goods is not a cause of this process. The process of societal corruption and decay occurs in communist and socialist societies just as it does in capitalist ones. It is hard to see how to prevent it from happening. If I am right then it will always happen in any form of society where there is an innate imbalance of power. This is true of monarchies for example, and also of socialism and communism which are both predicated on the use of violence to ensure obedience and therefore those premitted to employ violence already have power over others and will employ that power to act to increase it. It is also true of capitalist societies, at least in all the forms we have tried to date – but it is not capitalism that is the problem – but other aspects of those societies. And therefore eliminating capitalism will not (and never has historically) solved the problem.

            Now if you suggested to me that we should eliminate corporate personhood, limited liability, private ownership (at least in its current form) of land and natural resources, and intellectual property I would agree with you in a heartbeat. But those are not the essence of capitalism. merely forms of corruption that have occured in the societies we have created to date.

      • George

        It doesn’t matter how pedantic you get, words are always changing their meaning – especially in a system that thrives on constant change as ours does. The only effective way of dealing with it is to constantly monitor the changes and keep tabs on how the words are being used.

        • David

          It’s not about pedantry. It’s about the Orwellian, mis-use of words to deliberatley obfuscate their meaning and thus prevent the clear discussion of ideas.

  • Martin

    I don’t see how the police being called to the flat of a man destined to be PM is not in the public interest. Agreed that his policies are the real issue, but we vote for people not parties, that’s how representative democracy works. And since we vote for individual people, their characters are absolutely the issue: do I trust X to represent me? If I think a person is so insensitive to his neighbours and his partner to – it seems – provoke a very disturbing scene for all of them, I wouldn’t trust him to represent my interests since he seems in his personal life so negligent of others.’ I’m a leftie, but if it’d been Corbyn rather than this waste of DNA I hope I’d be saying the same thing.

    • Squeeth

      It’s always better to be safe in these matters. I’ve called out the porkies a couple of times and the first time, they did their job.

    • SA

      “…but we vote for people not parties, that’s how representative democracy works”.

      That is how representative democracy should work but at the end of the day most of us do not vote for individual politicians but for their being the representatives of a group who work together and promise certain actions through a party manifesto.
      I have to say that this episode is a distraction and I agree with Craig here. Whatever has happened, does happen to a lot of people and you cannot judge what has happened by here say. No charges or further investigations were needed by the police in this case.
      There are many reasons why most of us contributing here do not like Boris, because of his policies but also because of his major ineptitude and rather selfish and superficial approach to politics. The broadcast hustings have shown this weakness and even his friend Gove has stated that he did not believe that Boris has the ability to unite and lead, the party, let alone the country. Our efforts should be spent in rubbishing his policies and his lack of substance, not his personal life.

      • Squeeth

        Britain isn’t a democracy and never has been. FPTP makes the Acerbo Law look like a birthday rpesent.

    • Greg Park

      Agree. It showed a contemptuous disregard for neighbours that is highly revealing, as is the accumulation of parking tickets piled up on his car outside. The public always need fresh reminders of who these people are. Otherwise they can very quickly be rehabilitated, ala Alastair Campbell.

    • Michael Droy

      So one night the police came to my flat and arrested me. And took me off to a distant police station at 3.00am.
      If I were Boris would that be in the public interest?

      Well surely only if any charges were brought (in my case someone had stolen my car and gone on to commit other crimes, but no charge for me).
      If not I would expect press silence.

    • Jimmeh

      “but we vote for people not parties, that’s how representative democracy works”

      That’s the theory. In practice, barely anyone knows the name of their MP; they know only on which party’s manifesto s/he stood. In General Elections, people vote for parties.

      • yr hen gof

        Throughout my fifty years of voting, I have only ever lived in very safe seats, my vote has never counted for anything and never changed anything.
        It used to be said that the Rhondda Valley would elect a donkey if it wore a red rosette; in Chris Bryant; as good a Blairite as they come, they elected an ex member of the Tory party to be their Labour M.P. I’d guess Keir Hardie is spinning like a gyroscope.
        Similarly, I’ve lived in two Tory constituencies where the first was a landowning dullard and the second couldn’t get his arse into the Speaker’s chair fast enough.
        People vote for parties.

    • Tom Welsh

      First of all, Martin, your own MP – let alone the PM – doesn’t represent your interests, but those of his party and the people who finance it. So there is no particular reason for you to evaluate his personal character.

      Secondly, almost everyone who reaches Cabinet level or higher is a whirling son of a bitch – you have to be in order to get there. Our political system consists largely of a set of elaborate filters carefully designed to screen out everyone with any empathy, compassion, decency, respect for law, or honour.

      Look at the Cabinet and the Shadow Cabinet and tell me you disagree. Better still, look at Washington – if you can bear to.

  • Cynicus

    “Personally I shall welcome Boris Johnson’s elevation to be Prime Minister…..It will be a catalyst for Scottish Independence.”
    Unusual for you, Craig, to argue that the end justifies the means. I advise you not to look in a mirror today: you may find John Bolton staring back at you.

    • Mr V

      Bravo for pretty dumb false equivalence. Remind me again, how election of moron Boris will be on Craig again? Hint – it won’t be one bit, in fact, he literally *cannot* have anything to do with it, even if he wanted to, not being a torythug member. It will be squarely on uneducated, gullible morons who voted that pig in despite their best interests, and if it helps to finally show them what they were doing all along, well…

      • Cynicus

        Here is what to do: read my post again and reflect on what I ACTUALLY wrote.

        You are welcome to comment on THAT.

    • Jimmeh

      I also will welcome Johnson’s appointment as Prime Minister. I think he is much more likely to lose a vote of no confidence in the government than the slippery and smooth-talking Jeremy *unt. So I anticipate that such a vote of no confidence is likely to happen sooner if Boris gets the job; there will be less excuses for prevarication from the Labour party.

      • Cynicus

        Oh dear.

        So, it is OK to put a circus act into Number 10 to increase (you think) the chance of his government being defeated?

        The end justifies the means?

        • Yuri

          As I understand it, In this case, Craig’s principle:
          Better a terrible end than a horror without end.

          • Cynicus

            That is an interesting interpretation of Craig’s argument. I doubt if he agrees with it, though, any more than I do.

            If English is not your first language then you perhaps misunderstand the word “end” in the common saying that I quote.

            It does not mean “conclusion” but “objective”.

        • Jo Dominich

          Cynicus good question. It is not a reasonable plan to put Bojo in to No. 10 to secure a vote of no confidence in the Government as firstly, the MPs would rather vote for him (just look at their Brexit voting) to prevent a General Election whereby my God, JC might win and which the Tories will lose horribly. Secondly, the MSM will make Bojo look brilliant, eccentric, a maverick just to ensure that JC does not become the next PM in a General election.

          That is the current climate. The means does not justify the end and it will not result in a No Confidence vote against this Government.

    • David

      I think you are implying that you don’t believe using the end to justify the means is a good idea, although you don’t actually say that.

      If my inference is correct then I agree entirely. Despite a sound deontological ethical upbringing by my mother, it has taken me a while (my lifetime to date in fact) to relearn that the end does not justify the means. I was thrown off track for a considerable time by a silly thought experiement about a philosopher, a lever and innocent people tied to a train track, but have finally come to the conclusion that the end should never be allowed to justify the means.

      However I don’t agree that this is unusual for Craig at all. Despite Craig’s profound and courageous willingness to speak truth to power, and his praiseworthy stand against torture and other human rights abuses, he is definitely a collectivist. And collectivism is entirely derived from the assumption that the end does justify the means.

      This doesn’t stop fme in any way from greatly admiring Craig and agreeing with about half of what he says.

  • Stephen Morrell

    On the contrary, a leftist would agree with most of what is said here, especially regarding the gold-plated imperialist hawk, Clinton. Lots of people voted for Trump (who also voted for Obama) to stick a finger in the ruling class’s eye, just as brexit has done, and for the same reasons — the neoliberal gutting of everything that makes a ‘society’, and the return of capitalism to its true essence from a temporary postwar Keynesian detour.

    Some leftists, especially of the anarchist variety, would also agree with the thesis that a kakistocracy makes it easier to bring about change as the illusions are fewer or shallower in the Trumps, Boltons, Johnsons, et al. running the show, compared to the smoother Obamas, Blairs, Clintons et al who were far more effective and dangerous than the kakistocrats. However, the incompetents are also prone to being creatures of the powerful vested interests, just as we see with Trump. It’s no foregone conclusion that Trump will resist the Washington psychopaths indefinitely and not plunge the world into a depression when (not if) Iran is attacked by the US.

    • remember kronstadt

      ‘Some leftists, especially of the anarchist variety, would also agree with the thesis that a kakistocracy makes it easier to bring about change as the illusions are fewer or shallower in the Trumps, Boltons, Johnsons, et al. running the show, compared to the smoother Obamas, Blairs, Clintons et al who were far more effective and dangerous than the kakistocrats.’

      America has no imperative to change. Business is good and there is peace in the homeland. That’s the point of a professional military – if heroes die, flag waving and honour reinforces the state. Change happens elsewhere.

      • Stephen Morrell

        The US ruling class shows no imperative to change. In contrast, the US population craves it: the majority of voters, including Republicans, want Medicare for all, free tuition and forgiveness of student debt, decent infrastructure, an end to US wars and the military bloat, and decent well paying jobs in an environment that their children can live in. More Americans than ever, not a majority to be sure, prefer to live under socialism (ie, a Scandinavian social democracy) than capitalism. Yet the ruling class has such hubris as to not realise that these reforms will save them. And so will Bernie Sanders.

        Some event, something trivial and not predictable, will set off an uncontrollable conflagration from the American tinderbox. Trump is the symptom of the pent-up fury that’s been accumulating for 40 years. Yet he hasn’t sated it, so it’s still there and palpable. But there’s no revolutionary leadership that can harness the fury to make another American revolution, one that finishes the Civil War. Yet.

    • Michael McNulty

      George Galloway made a good point on his Twitter page this morning saying Hillary Clinton is the only one who could lose to Trump.

    • David

      You’re using the word capitalism in exactly the way that I find so frustrating (see my post above). Capitalism is merely the concept of private ownership of capital and is a component of many different types of socio-economic organizational structure, and I don’t think it is or has a true essence of its own. I see it more as steel girder than a bridge or a sky scraper, or a death star.

      The system we have today – what I believe you are referring to when you say “neoliberalism” – I suspect I would just call fascism – but I don’t think that that system is any more the true essence of capitalism than was Adam Smith’s (a fine and noble Scottish fellow by the way :-)) laissez faire ideal, or the mercantilism of 17th century Europe. Any more than my hypothetical bridge is the true essence of a steel girder.

      I would suggest that the danger lies not in capitalism, but in fascism – the death star, not the girder. And that capitalism is no more the cause of the fascism than the steel girder is the cause of the death star. I would go further and suggest that capitalism is actually necessary for a healthy, happy society, or rather for one more advanced than a primitive hunter-gatherer system. But that while it is necessary, it is not in and of itself sufficient.

      It is in my view a fundamental error to blame the failings of our current system – fascism/neoliberlaism/crony-capitalism/call it what you will – on capitalism, when the problem lies not with capitalism, but with the cronyism. And the cronyism stems not from capitalism itself but from representative democracy/centralization of power/corruption/end-justifies-meaners – and perhaps/just perhaps also from the private ownership of land/minerals/oil and other natural resources.

      • George

        No, Mr Morell is correct. We in the West have been fortunate to have lived in a pleasant little bubble where, for a certain time and due to unrepeatable circumstances, we could swallow the lie that capitalism could be a fair system – even that it somehow automatically generates the best system if left untouched. It’s as if there is some “pure capitalism” hovering above reality and so anything that goes wrong can always be attributed to “interference by governments”. The governments work to shore up capital. They are the necessary supports of capital. And what we are seeing now is the true pure capitalism in all its vicious parasitism.

        • David

          See my reply above.

          I don’t disagree that today’s scoiety is ugly and parasitical, merely that capitalism is the cause of that ugliness, and consequently that replacing capitalsim with socialism or communism can fix the problem. It won’t.

          The problem is the tendency of powerful people to use power to acquire more power. This can be accomplished privately (think organized crime) but is more effectively accomplished through government. This occurs just as surely, and is just as ugly, in socialist/communist societies as capitalist ones.

          Capitalism is not the problem. And the fact that corruption has occured in all capitalist societies to date does not prove that capitalism is the problem. Corruption has always occurred in all societies to date, whether capitalist or otherwise. It is its own problem.

      • Stephen Morrell

        The fundamental features of capitalism — whether it be small-producer competitive capitalist production, industrial capitalism, or the monopoly/finance capital of the trusts of today, or so-called rentier-class or ‘crony capitalism’ — are these:

        1. The capitalist enterprise is driven to exploit its workforce as much as is humanly possible in order to extract the highest surplus value (ie, profits) possible.

        2. This surplus appropriated by the capitalist enterprise is spent in ways that are at the exclusive discretion of the company. It might invest it in expanding production or improving plant and equipment (ie, increasing worker ‘productivity’ or the rate of exploitation). Or if there’s no point in doing this, it might spend the surplus on share buybacks, or on increased dividends for shareholders to buy new beach houses, yachts, a Monet or two, or in speculative ventures, and so on. Non-productive investment. The social surplus is essentially private, unaccountable and subject to the limited knowledge and outlook of the company and its owners, and ultimately to their irrational whims.

        3. Capitalism has a natural tendency to lurch into crises of overproduction which occur roughly every 7-11-years (sometimes referred to as the Juglar cycle). Such crises are inherent to the system, where opportunities for expanding are based on future market projections but invariably require investment in capital equipment to meet the expectation of increased production, in equipment that typically has a life cycle longer than the average business cycle. The company strives to produce to full capacity to maximise the return on the capital invested, but eventually the market becomes saturated, either exclusively through the firm’s own efforts or by the entry of competitors into the market. The crash that follows becomes a vicious cycle in which workers are laid off, initially in the capital goods sector, and overall consumption eventually is curtailed as a consequence. The irrational belief that expansion will continue indefinitely is fueled by quasi-religious beliefs in ‘innovation’, ‘flexibility’ and all the other guff. But it’s really the absolute need to maximising the returns on capital investment.

        4. Capitalism is not simply about private property or the private ownership of the means of production, or the existence of markets. It is a specific mode of production that’s distinct from slavery or feudalism, for example, all of which overwhelmingly also rested on the foundation of private ownership of the means of production and also had accompanying (limited) markets.

        5. The foundation for markets is private property. While the market is portrayed by Adam Smith as ‘the invisible hand’, private property is enforced by the visible fist of the state. Markets would not exist without a state committed to upholding it, but the markets that existed long before capitalism were essentially consumer markets. They aren’t something handed down from on high. They’re a social construct. With the rise of mercantilism, markets expanded internationally and beyond consumer items, setting off the period of so-called ‘primitive accumulation’ of capital, the transformation of merchant capital into industrial capital helped with massive influxes of the looting of the Indian treasure, the triangular Atlantic trade (trinkets and consumer goods to Africa, slaves to the Americas/Caribbean, sugar back to Europe), and gold from the ‘New World’.

        6. Capitalism embodies the fundamental contradiction of private ownership of the means of production relying on social production. Every corporation plans its production as rationally and fully as is possibe in order to fulfill an irrational aim: the maximisation of profits. However, ‘plan’ is a dirty four-letter work outside the corporation. A giant fallacy of composition is bandied about: the rationalism inside the corporation magically applies outside its doors too, between corporations and society at large, and is touted as the efficient allocation of resources through the ‘free market’. If this were so, then why does the ‘free market’ not exist inside the corporation? Yet despite its aversion to economic ‘planning’, capitalism is evolving toward greater and greater planning but only insofar at it’s through greater concentration of individual capitals all within the structure of the corporate conglomerates. Outside the cartel, it’s still the war of all against all. Overall planning that encompasses all of society and the natural environment humans interract with is not only anathema but is impossible under capitalism.

        7. Ask yourself this question: if humans had to colonise Mars, where we aren’t subject to the ‘traditions of the dead generations [that] weigh like a nightmare upon the living’ (Marx), how many capitalists would we take? How many stockbrokers, lawyers, real estate agents, cops? For our species to survive in such a hostile environment, which likely also will be the earth in 50 years (maybe sooner), then we’d be hell-bent on suicide if we re-imposed private property and all the ‘same old crap’ (Marx again) of capitalism upon ourselves.

        So, sorry it is this essence of capitalism that’s at fault, this malignancy that’s holding our species back from both surviving and liberating itself.

  • Ingrid Murray

    I am genuinely interested to know your reasons for calling Hillary Clinton a psychopath. I have no doubt that Donald Trump is a psycopathic narcissist and his policies are killing people. It is difficult to say what Hillary Clinton would have done had she won the Presidency. Donald Trump’s policies re Iran have provoked potentially lethal consequences in the Gulf. I doubt the democrats would have torn up the Iran Nuclear Deal.

    • Brian c

      It is near certain there would have been more pointless, disastrous “interventions” such as Libya. This brief overview of her career suggests that would have been inevitable in another Clinton presidency.

    • Stephen Morrell

      She showed all the signs of it with her gruesome cackling over Gaddafi, ‘We came, we saw, he died’. See this:

      No remorse for what she did to Libya, plus her cosiness with her Wall St psychopath buddies in distinguishing for them her real policies from her public ones.

      Looks like a duck, quacks like a duck…

    • Carnyx


      Clinton repeatedly campaigned for a “No Fly Zone” in Syria, which is a dog whistle for war because it would involve bombing Syrian air defences and shooting down planes killing Syrian civilians and Russian military personnel, it could have easily lead to WW III. Clinton laughed about bombing Iran as much as McCain (she was laughing because she couldn’t say she wanted it as she was negotiating with them at the time, see vids below). Clinton was a leading figure in pushing for Obama to bomb Libya back to slavery. Clinton strongly advocated for the US to supply lethal arms to Kiev, Trump eventually did this but not before the Dems used a change in a speech at the GOP convention to argue Trump wasn’t anti-Russian enough. Clinton pushed for Ukrainian and Georgian NATO membership. Clinton’s biography claims that she emotionally blackmailed Bill into bombing Serbia after the Lewinsky scandal by refusing to speak to him until he did, Clinton has never contradicted this claim.

      Hillary was going to use the Iran deal to claim non-compliance and then use that as an excuse for war, she agreed to it because it gave her this possibility.

      Hillary Clinton started her political activity as a Goldwater girl, the MLK assassination was an epiphany for her and she changed her domestic thinking on racism racism, but she has clearly always been true to Goldwater’s foreign policies, as she tacitly admits when she talks about her views being a combination of conservative and liberal.

      As a hard leftist and anti-imperialist I’m still glad Trump won and not her, if she won millions would be dead now.

      • Tunde

        In her campaigning for the no fly option, was that not pandering to the AIPAC crowd ? It’s not like Trump hasn’t done more for the Likudniks than any POTUS in memory. Iirc, Bibi likes Hillary only a little bit more than he liked Obama.
        And Libya is not as binary as some like to make out. Was the uprising there not precipitated by Gaddafi’s own security forces trying to brutally suppress the demos ? How culpable was the EU, specifically Sarkozy vs Clinton ? She’s a vile woman, but it’s a worthless argument to see what she “might” have done based on her utterances during a campaign or when positioning for a presidential run.
        I can’t believe I’m even defending her.
        Craig’s write up here smacks a little of post purchase rationalisation re Trump, but then again, that’s my opinion. Can’t say I agree with it in the main, particularly wishing a BoJo premiership to achieve Scottish Indy.

        • Carnyx

          Clinton pushed Syria intervention hard from the start, she clashed with Obama about it and left her position as Secretary of State in 2013 largely because of it. She was the greatest advocate for it, more so than the Israelis, however Qatar, UAE, Saudi and Turkey were pushing more loudly than Israel (who couldn’t make too much of a noise because it might alienate people in the Sunni world). Hillary helped create Timber Sycamore the massive campaign to arm and promote Jihadis in Syria, although the US was far from the only country funding the headchoppers (half of all anti-Assad fighters killed in Syria are not Syrians), none of the rest would have done so to such an extent without US approval, she thus helped get 500 000 killed in Syria. Trump is in power, caters to AIPAC but has not imposed a No Fly Zone and we have thus avoided at best Syria being turned into Somalia on the Med or at worst WW III.

          Also why was Clinton actually advertising her support for the No Fly Zone publically? Was she so utterly out of touch she thought it was a vote winner? Did she mistake Beltway lobbyists for the American people? She deserved to lose and I feel like we missed a bullet because she did. Certainly Sarkozy was guilty of pushing the Libya disaster, Hillary could have told him to hold back, but she didn’t. It’s not a worthless argument to talk about what she would have done because it’s a matter of why Trump is in power. She was a greater evil than Trump and still is, Clinton has a long long record of hawkishness going all the way back to Goldwater.

          Craig (and for that matter myself) have been making the same argument about Trump being the lesser evil since before Hillary became the only opposing candidate. It’s not post hoc rationalisation, it’s a reiteration of a pre-existing position and it still stands after three years of Trump. And it will still stand if the Dems can’t come up with anything better than Hillary next time while Trump hasn’t started a new war … and looking at all the ‘blame Russia’ crap the Dems have been indulging in there little chance they will bring anything better.

        • Carnyx

          Also Tunde, here is Hillary, after Trump took office, STILL calling for a No Fly Zone, supporting Trump’s bombing strikes on Syria and calling for him to increase US intervention. It is very clearly something upon which she holds a deep conviction, hence it’s a dead cert she would have done so if she won.

          Trying to pass of Clinton’s promotion of ever greater intervention in Syria as merely a sop to the AIPAC is profoundly misguided.

    • Jo1

      Hillary Clinton said publicly during her campaign that she would immediately impose a no-fly zone over Syria, a country she had no authority over and in the midst of a conflict in which Russia was involved!

      So you’re quite wrong, we absolutely CAN say what Hillary would have done. She made it more than clear.

    • RBH

      If we can just shift the discussion away from meaningless discussion of individuals to that of the social interests parties represent, one has only to look at the Democrat attacks on Trump to know what a Democrat Presidency would have done. This has centred on the manufactured Putin connection, the notion that a couple of hundred thousand dollars worth of allegedly Russian facebook ads subverted a “democratic” election. This goes hand in hand with identifying internal dissent with foreign interests, effectively branding it as treason. In essence, for all the opportunities, the Democrats have attacked Trump only from the right. They cannot risk to awaken public sentiment on any progressive basis with measures they cannot fulfil, for fear they too will be swept away. It is the economic system of capitalism that has become psychopathic in its death agony, and it chooses individual figureheads that correspond to its needs.

      The anti-Russian campaign flows from longstanding US Geostrategy, outlined in Brzezinsky’s The Grand Chessboard which has resulted in the encroachment on former Soviet republics regarded by Moscow as its sphere of influence. This culminated in the fascist led coup in Ukraine and the Al Qaeda led regime change war in Syria. Although Obama began “the Pivot To Asia” and strategic redeployment to prepare for war with China, it is Trump’s letting up of pressure on Russia that forms the principle Democrat objection to Trump. In addition, by scapegoating foreign industry for the US’s economic decline, he has alienated traditional post war allies, to the point that Europe is on a course to break away from NATO and pursue its German led interests separately and against the US.

      In no way does the Democrat Party, including its fake left wing led by Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez, oppose Trump’s nationalist economics or anti-immigrant criminality, or drive to war. The difference is tactical and one can absolutely assume that had Clinton been elected, Russian ally Iran would have been next in line a lot sooner. It is now only military and political considerations, given that the US has discovered that even Iranian home made SAMs can take down a $130 million drone, that has put a temporary hold on US aggression.

      They’ll be back, but the contradiction between the US elite and its needs on one hand and the US population on the other, is creating explosive conditions in the US itself.

  • jacomo

    Donald Trump gave John Bolton a job. Bolton was part of the recent State visit to the UK. So something doesn’t add up – if this POTUS is so determined to avoid a war, why give this notorious hawk a platform?

    More to the point, why tear up the agreement with Iran in the first place? Sure it was flawed, but it was (by all accounts) working, with the EU in particular managing to slowly build bridges with Iran and de-escalate things.

    Trump’s Middle East policy seems to be to do anything that Saudi Arabia and Israel ask him to. Odd bedfellows, but curiously their interests seem aligned in all sorts of ways. Both countries are custodians of sites of huge religious significance and importance, and seem to want to appease their own hardline factions at every turn.

    Is this a recipe for future peace and security? No, I don’t think so.

    Trump is a narcisssist who is incapable of seeing the bigger picture. Trouble lies ahead…

    • Phil

      I’m beginning to hope that the reason for Trump appointing people like Bolton is to ‘keep his enemies close’. He has had a staggering array of warmongers in his cabinet, and still avoided war so far. Setting up coups in south american countries used to be an everday job for the CIA, yet somehow Maduro is still president of Venezuela.

    • glenn_nl

      j: “…if this POTUS is so determined to avoid a war, why give this notorious hawk a platform? “

      Because Bolton appears on Fox News a lot, particularly “Fox & Friends”. This is where Trump gets most of his ideas, not a few of his cabinet picks, and where he looks for affirmation of what a wonderful job he’s doing. He doubtless thought, “Don’t like the mustache. But he sounds like he knows what he’s talking about, and acts tough. Maybe I should get him in here… but that mustache will have to go at some point.”

      It’s got so bad, that military experts are reduced to appearing on this wretched show just in order to get a point across to Trump, who is too ignorant to read anything, and lacks the attention span to see any actual experts on matters that require urgent attention.

      • glenn_nl

        not “military experts”, I meant “experts”. Don’t know where “military” came from.

  • John Pillager

    And not forgetting;
    Just like Trump being the lesser of 2 evils, Boris Johnson is the lesser devil compared to Jeremy Hunt..
    Happy days :O(

    • michael norton

      Jeremy Hunt like his accomplice Amber Rudd are Remainers.
      They will see off the Conservative party for sure.

    • Steve

      True, rather Boris than Hunt (the C*nt). Although, I hate all current tories, Hunt is in a class of his own. Anyone who thought his destruction of the NHS was a one off, look at what he is currently doing and imagine what the country would be like if he was PM … the 51st state ?

  • James william Norris

    Someone once said that ‘Politics is war without the violence’ and I think that’s definitely the case. Lies, innuendo, obfuscation, backstabbing, bullying, and every dirty trick in the book is used in the pursuit of political power. Just look at the ‘weapons’ that are continually used against Jeremy Corbyn! To be branded an anti Semite and racist when he has spent his whole life fighting against such issues is just one example of the dirty tricks used against him.
    i think this whole issue of Boris and his domestic affairs is small potatoes but I think that the prospect of him becoming PM is such a huge and destructive issue for this country I’m more than happy to see any means short of violence and downright law breaking used to bring these Tories down.

    • Jo Dominich

      JWN I do agree with you. Let’s not forget for one minute that the MSM are defending Bojo on this domestic incident – Just look at Alison Pearsson in the Torygraph. Let’s also not forget that there is a public video out there of a Tory MP physically assaulting a women in evening dress at Mansion House. A rough, vicious assault backed up by verbal threats. She was left with bruises around her neck and her wrists. Police do nothing in the latter incident, not even an arrest and interview. With regard to Bojo, they go as far as to deny they ever attended at Bojo’s house in response to the incident until confronted by a Journalist with a copy of the Crime Report, record of their attendance at Bojo’s house and the number plate registrations of the police cars that arrived at the house. Funnily enough, the Police suddenly recovered their memory. This should be cause for serious concern amongst British Citizens – two MPs in one week involved in physical, verbal, threatening and abusive assaults on women and the Police do nothing going as far as denial.

      I want to ask a serious question here. What, and I mean WHAT does this Government have to do, how much more serious corruption, lies, threatening behaviour, dishonesty will it take for the MSM to actually start to turn against them and start some serious investigative journalism. So I agree with your final sentence, how much more corruption and law-breaking does this Government have to do before people start to revolt.

  • Kenny Macleod

    Absolutely. Boris is a great secret agent for lndependence. His only good point.

  • RuilleBuille

    Carrie should remember the old adage when a mistress moves in she creates a vacancy.

  • Edward

    For me the American Dream is freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and the other rights championed in the Revolutionary War. Sadly, the U.S. government is the enemy of these principles in other countries, and to some extent in America. This is why my American nationalism left me a long time ago.

  • Geoffrey

    Craig, I am not sure how you know what kind of conservative Boris is, I doubt he even knows himself. As for the neighbours calling the police may have been correct, and taping the noise but giving the recording to the Guardian or any paper is the work of little shits.

    • Jo Dominich

      Geoffrey, giving the tape to the Guardian is not the action of little shits, it’s the people taking control for once in getting news that is in the public interest out there. Do not forget, the MSM do this all the time don’t they and destroy people’s lives. Why shouldn’t ordinary citizens do it when they have witnessed an elected MP threaten, verbally abuse and probably, for all we know, assaulted his girlfriend. This man, after all, running to be the PM of the UK so actions in his private life are important as to moral character amongst other things. Read what the Secret Barrister has to say in response to Alison Pearson’s article in the Torygraph where she defends Boris and is requesting the names of the neighbours so she presumably investigate them and destroy their reputation and lives.

  • Goose

    Wish I shared your optimism about Trump’s restraint. I agree with your thoughts on hawkish H. Clinton, and yes, who becomes US president is the world’s business – because the US is literally everywhere, seeking hegemony and trying to run the world as if they own it This despite only having around 3% of the world’s population. Human history and the history of civilisations teaches that one great power always eventually meets a greater power. And citizens of the US & UK i.e., most of us here, should be concerned how that future great power will treat us. White Anglosphere rule isn’t going to last, these are just demographic facts.

  • Ian

    Except you miss the crucial point, Craig. You were not standing for the highest office in the land, and attempting to do so by refusing to take part in any form of open debate. The incident in itself may be of little significance, until is seen as part of a pattern of abusive behaviour, lying and covering up. That is its significance and relevance.
    As for your nihilistic hope that Boris gets elected in order to further Scottish Independence, that is in line with the feeble thinking of many Corbynites – that somehow chaos and disaster will play into their agenda. It is stupid and self-destructive, for the obvious reason that you are encouraging a disaster politics which has currency on both left and right that it will enable an enlightened future. Such wishful thinking is naive, and implies that you would happily wish a ruinous government on the UK, with the job losses, economic recession, shrinking of the welfare state and the NHS, privatisation, asset stripping etc in the vague and almost certainly futile hope that it will further your political wishes. Of course what will happen is that instead of the fantasy you indulge, that chaos and misery will, as it always has, unleash an empowered rightwing dystopia. That is exactly what Bannon and Mercer, Johnson’s handlers, want. And they are right.
    You, like many on the naive left, are siding with Bannon and co, the libertarian right, both having the fantasy that chaos will play into their hands. Except that the right have historically benefitted, not the left. It is a nice fantasy, but you are effectively welcoming and promoting massive job losses, more poverty and corporistation in the deluded belief that you can get what you want and ignore those consequences.

    • Morag Branson

      Well, apart from the reality that Craig cannot influence Tory party members who will be voting in their latest monstrosity!

      Doubt any will be partaking of this blog!

    • Tunde

      Completely agree that the right always benefit. Perhaps Craig is a libertarian and doesn’t realise it yet .(j/k before I get flamed)

    • Jo Dominich

      Ian, what an excellent concise post. I wholeheartedly agree with you. I am a socialist (actually leaning more towards the Marxist end) and, like you, it is madness to want Bojo elected PM in order to chaos and destruction. What is needed is for the sheeples that are the British Public to get up, get out there, take a leaf out of the French book and demonstrates in exceedingly large numbers. But, as Marx said, the only revolution that will start in Britain is one about gardening.

  • Steve

    Craig, keep doing what you do, even if your opinions are not always appreciated by everyone, you do a great job.
    There are few people nowadays who speak sense and provide a rational and informed foil against the lies of the MSM and the second rate western politicians. Yourself and Robert Fisk are my go to opinion sources, long may you annoy people !.

  • Chris

    Errrr.. Just one more thing. In PR terms, the simple answer would have been for them to appear arm in arm on the steps the next morning. “Look, we’d had a tiring few days, both had a bit too much to drink last night and a silly row escalated out of control. We’re very sorry for taking up police time when they have so much else to be dealing with. Our neighbours were quite right to call the police – we’d have done the same in the circumstances, and we sincerely apologise to them all for the noise and disruption overnight. Now we have important meetings to determine the future of this country, which we need to attend.” And that would have pretty much nailed it. So the dog that didn’t bark, or the attractive girlfriend who is suddenly camera shy. My guess is a fat lip or a black eye waiting to go down – that would finish him even in gammonland. Suspicions intensified by a clearly old photo in the Mail pretending to show recent reconciliation. I get the feeling that some injunctions have been flying around the media too – anyone have any input on that.

    • Jay

      For some reason it seems to have been completely ruled out that he could have warned the attending officers there would be repercussions if they revealed what they had really seen. Repercussions for them, that is.

      • Geoffrey

        So you think Boris said to Sergeant Plod “Go easy on me plod or I will see you never get promoted, oh and by the way ,tell those awful Guardian readers that all is tickety boo with us” and Plod replied ” yes of course sir”
        I hadn’t thought of that.

        • Jay

          I know, it’s as ludicrous as suggesting that those police initially denied they were called to the scene until journalists confronted them with evidence. The idea that police lie, decieve or are corrupt is completely preposterous.

  • Trowbridge H Ford

    You are a very stubborn character, Craig, supremely confident in your views of anything and anyone.

  • Ewan

    There are two threats to us all: nuclear war and climate change. He’s done well on one, but not the other.

  • Nasir Ali

    You say you are not a leftist but being a leftist, I have hardly ever found a reason not to agree with you. I think you are a thinking leftist, the only kind worth listening to. The faux leftists in your example of Oxford are just that: faux. For another example of so called leftists is the right-wing, (Blairire), “leftist” Labour, who were probably the ones in Oxford, well, anyone who accepts that they are on the Left, is deluding themselves.
    I think you will be hard put to disagree with Jeremy Corbyn’s views, and he is as close to a genuine leftist as you can get in Western Politics.

  • Margaret O'Brien

    I agree with every word of this, but then I’m an actual lefty, not one of the many pretend ones. I think most genuinely left people would agree with most of it. I can see people very reasonably disagreeing with the points about the Boris Johnson domestic incident but I agree that if there was no violence involved then it is not a big deal in terms of the whole Boris Johnson thing – anyone who doesn’t see what an all round shit he is, as a politician and a person, is deluded.

    I would just add that it infuriates me that he gets referred to as “Boris”. No other politician in this country gets referred to routinely by their first name. It makes him sound harmless, amusing and special. It’s not even his name. I think it also definitely contributes to the notion that he doesn’t have to be judged as harshly as other politicians, although you could say the same about all tories.

    I also agree with Craig re Clinton v Trump. Trump’s awful but she’s worse.

    • daydreamer

      Up here in Scotland Nicola Sturgeon is routinely referred to as Nicola by SNP supporters. I find it strange that people refer to her as if she were a personal friend of theirs.

  • Robert Ollis

    Thanks for the video, Craig. I don’t have a prefered view on your article, other than to say it is a fine position from which some engaging and productive discussions could emerge. The vid, though, just reminded me how much fun I had, being in good spirits and agreeable company, getting well pissed. I had to stop drinking a few years back. I’m touching 70 years old. And coming from a working class pub culture, (which was regulated quite effectively by the unwritten rule: if you can take “yer piss”, and know how to behave yourself amongst respectable working people; We don’t care if you are only thirteen years old. You can buy some beer and, maybe something off the top shelf, at Christmas time). I had a good run. But the old liver started complaining. So, (not being a “problem” drinker), I quietly had to quit. Sometimes, though, as with your video, I’m reminded of what good fun it all was. So: cheers! Craig, and good health to you. Keep on blogging!

  • Courtenay Barnett

    When you say this:-

    “I will take Trump. He has a better character; for all his faults he is the only one of the two who is not a psychopathic killer.”

    Hard for me to see substance and/or civility in Trump. It just came out that he is alleged to not merely have violated another woman (some 15 to date have accused him of some form of sexual violence inflicted by him) – but now this lady alleges rape. Kind of hard to see “character” in such a man.

    Now, when you say this:-

    “I should take the time to congratulate Iran on shooting down the drone. The Americans have killed tens of thousands of people, all over the Middle East and Central Asia, using such drones. That they should holler so much when somebody knocks one down is ludicrous.”

    May I take time to show and share with you – just how ludicrous.



    Under domestic laws, when individuals have a dispute over a breach of a binding contract – they revert to court for dispute resolution and/or adjudication.

    When nations under a Treaty and/or binding joint agreement, have disputes under international law it is expected that the parties negotiate differences – or resort to international arbitration – or revert to the UN for resolution.

    The UN Charter under Article 2(4) reads and requires as follows:-

    “Article 2(4) reads as follows: All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.”

    In 2015 within the confines of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany a nuclear deal with Iran was signed. In 2018 the US unilaterally withdrew from the JCPOA agreement.


    The most telling single fact in the still unfolding international tensions between the US and Iran is this. Some fifty years ago, Iran signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Of all the Middle Eastern (ME)countries it is only Israel which does not adhere to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

    And now with the shooting down of the US drone it is Iran now said to be the bad actor in the ME. But, we shall return to this point once historical context is given.

    The history of ‘false flag’ operations conducted by the US and acts of aggression based on same could here be accurately and exhaustively documented. But, for purposes of brevity – let us be selective.

    In 1846 on a false the US pretext claimed that there was an attack by Mexican troops; in consequence of that Mexican/American war land ranging from New Mexico to California and beyond was seized and annexed to the US.

    Similarly, the Spanish/American war was begun in 1898 Cuba, in Havana Harbour with the sinking of the USS Maine ( another false flag operation).

    In 1962, a CIA operation directed against Cuba, known as “Operation Northwoods” was designed to have terrorist acts committed against US citizens to be blamed on Cuba so as to justify invading Cuba.

    In 2003 then Secretary of State Colin Powel, knowingly and falsely claimed that “yellow cake uranium” was held by Iraq, so as to justify the invasion of Iraq.

    So – does some measure of historical example exist as to why, not merely international lawyers, but our entire global citizenry, has valid reason to be, at the very least, even just a wee bit skeptical about US claims being now made against Iran’s alleged unjustified attack on and downing of the US intelligence drone?


    Since there was direct UN Security Council involvement in the establishment of the JCPOA – and – since the UN is specifically established to be the main arbiter for resolution of international disputes between nation states – then would it not be logical, sensible, fair and reasonable to proceed as follows:-

    Establishment and verification of facts

    By reference to existing data held both by Iran and the US – it is paramount that same be submitted to and be examined by reputable independent experts for purposes of determining the flight path and then the actual location of the US drone when it was downed by Iran ( i.e. was the drone over international waters – or – was the drone flying over Iranian sovereign territory?).
    Voice recorders and records of all relevant telecommunications exchanges between the US and Iran immediately prior to the downing of the drone also becomes of relevance.
    All other information thought to be of relevance to conducting a full investigation with a view towards obtaining a comprehensive UN based report should also be submitted to the relevant agreed authority/authorities.


    This is literally a ‘no-win’ looming military conflagration between the US and Iran. Calm heads, assisted by credible legal minds in international law and as well expert advice being given and taken under the Constitutional laws of both the US and Iran, as well as by military experts, would prove to be providers of invaluable assistance.

    Given the lay of the land in the ME, with Iran encircled by neighouring US military bases, this fact is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing to the US for it shows that it has fire-power in close proximity to Iran; a curse because that very close proximity permits Iran immediate US targets which can readily be struck. Beyond that fact, there would assuredly be an asymmetrical war fought by Iran and Iran’s proxies outside of the geographical confines of Iran itself. Further, there is the question of the Straits of Hormuz and the necessary passage of some 40% of the world’s oil supplies and the implications for the world economy if that flow were to be blocked.

    Even with overwhelming military might, if the US did attack Iran, that would be a mere beginning with not any easy and/or conclusive end in sight. The integration of the world economy is advancing with or without America’s acceptance and/or approval. A US military attack would also have the unintended consequences for the US of advancing the drive by China and Russia to provide an alternative currency to that of the US dollar as current world reserve currency.


    So – Uncle Sam – President Trump – Mullahs – Ayatollah and all persons of sound mind; please – think once – think twice – think again – then revert to the UN for peaceful resolution.


  • Vivian O'Blivion

    The drone shot down last week was not of the type that “killed tens of thousands of people, all over the Middle East …” (well not directly anyway), it was way more important than that. The RQ-4A Global Hawk was a high altitude stealth vehicle. The Iranians really should be congratulated on shooting it down, this is quite impressive. See also a MQ9 Reaper drone with offensive capability being shot down over the Red Sea the previous week. Almost as impressive as the IRGC, cyberwarfare division taking control and landing a RQ 170 drone in 2011.
    The accumulative message is that Iran is not Iraq. Taking on Iran in a hot war would be a massive mistake.
    Oh, and I don’t buy the Americans hacked the Iranian missile guidance system story. After being caught out with Stutznet, I would imagine that Iranian security protocols around their military systems are ultra tight.

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