Born in communist Czechoslovakia, Dalibor Rohac is unsettled by the continued displays of the symbols of communism by people on the political left. In view of the millions of victims of communist regimes, he finds it difficult to understand the surviving taste for the hammer and sickle, Che Guevara t-shirts and the like. Rohac mentions some possible explanations for this: that few people grasp the magnitude of the crimes of communism; that, whereas totalitarian fascism was always a poisonous idea, communism may be seen as a good idea that went wrong... A good idea gone wrong as may be, communism didn’t just go wrong in some minor or insignificant detail, but on a vast scale, and the manner in which it went wrong wasn’t only the manner of what one calls a ‘mistake’… No one with a genuine attachment to humane ideals should want to be associated with, much less bear upon their person, the iconography in question. It should have been completely discredited.
At the same time, for my part I do not find it so difficult to understand why this hasn’t happened. It hasn’t happened, because the left is far from having rid itself of those tendencies towards apologia for dictatorship and disregard for human rights that prevailed in the mid-20th century… Moreover, we are not talking here, as is sometimes alleged, of only a small fraction of the left - the far left: unreconstructed Stalinists, the SWP and its penumbra, and so forth. They form, to be sure, a core region of the anti-democratic indulgence I mean. But it also has a large hinterland among well-meaning ‘liberals’… The regrettable fact of the matter is that too much of the left still gives anti-capitalism and/or equality priority over the norms of democracy, liberty and human rights; and this is why the iconography tainted by the deaths of millions of innocent people is still seen as being cool where it no longer should be.
Unsurprisingly, I differ from Norm on one point, a point I think of as quite important. Communism – Marxism and its variants – was never a good idea. It is, and always was, a monstrous idea, a license for coercion, atrocity and horror - predictably so. And not coincidentally, it was conceived by, and has since entranced, some very unpleasant people.
I’m currently being sued... by Dr Michael Mann, the eminent global warm-monger, for mocking his increasingly discredited climate-change “hockey stick.” So Dr Mann has sued for what his complaint to the court called “defamation of a Nobel prize recipient.” In fact, Dr Mann is not a “Nobel prize recipient.” But, as Donna LaFramboise recently pointed out, he has spent many years passing himself off as one. The nearest he got to a Nobel was as one of several thousand contributors to one of various reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which in 2007 shared a Nobel Peace Prize. So Dr Mann is a Nobel laureate in the same sense that my mother is: She’s Belgian, and Belgium is in the European Union, and the European Union was collectively awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last year. My mum does not claim to be a Nobel prize winner, but Dr Mann did, on an industrial scale, including in his publicist’s bio, his book jackets and his website — until, in the wake of his false complaint, the Nobel Institute in Oslo declared that he was not a Nobel laureate at all. In that sense, Dr Mann is, indeed, a fraud. It is a fascinating legal question whether a man guilty of serial misrepresentation can, in fact, be defamed.
“We must increase our debt limit so that we can pay our bills.” As Tyler Durden notes, this is the “most disturbing sentence uttered during the debt ceiling debate/government shut down.” […] There are around 72 million American children under the age of 18. If you do the maths, assuming they are on the hook for our debts, that means that currently each American child is around $236,000 in debt. Since only around one-half of Americans are federal income taxpayers, it would be more accurate to say that each future taxpayer owes $472,000. If two of them get married, they owe just short of $1 million, with more debt being piled up every day and with interest costs sure to increase. These numbers can be sliced and diced in various ways, but any way you look at it, it is insane that those in Washington who wanted to blow past the statutory debt limit without hesitation so that we can “pay our bills” are hailed as responsible. Here is a hint: if you have to borrow money to pay your bills, you aren’t paying your bills.
Joburgers have a chance to stroll through a huge walk-in vagina thanks to an art installation erected at the old Women’s Jail in Hillbrow, Johannesburg, the Sunday Times reported. “By creating this vagina which you walk into, it contains you as the viewer, but also screams and laughs, almost like a battle cry which revolts against the prison,” the artist Reshma Chhiba told the newspaper. The walkway - installed in section two of the jail - is 12 metres long and made up of red velvet and cotton. A soundtrack of laughter and screaming plays throughout.
“Not many people – men or women – are unfazed about walking through this vaginal canal,” said Chhiba. She said that despite the fact the work was linked to the Hindu goddess Kali, she did not want herself to be seen as someone only making Indian art. “It’s a global vagina,” said Chhiba. The walkthrough is part of a larger project – ‘The Two Talking Yonis’ (Yoni is Sanskrit for vulva) – in which photographs and paintings are exhibited at two other venues. “It’s scary to people raised with certain patriarchal values,” she told the Sunday Times.
The artist discusses her giant and empowering vagina here.
Mr Eugenides guides us to another classic sentence from the Guardian. Specifically, a classic subheading:
A year after being sexually abused on a tube train I returned to dance for all women who have been assaulted.
The article in question, by Ellie Cosgrave, is titled I Danced Against Sexual Assault on the Tube to Reclaim it for Women. In it, Ms Cosgrave recounts a revolting incident:
When a man pressed his erection against me on a crowded tube carriage, it’s hard to describe exactly how I felt. As he started breathing heavily down my neck, my body clenched and I willed the next stop to come so I could untangle myself and get to work.
I can’t help feeling there’s something missing here. I think it’s where the punching should go. Along with the outrage, the protest, the alerting of other passengers and the summoning of police.
On arriving in the office I found semen streaked down the back of my legs, and my heart sank. I scuttled off to the toilets to clean myself up before my morning meeting.
Clearly, the encounter was not a happy one. Payback was in order.
Over the year that followed I became increasingly angry, until eventually it was all I could talk about… On International Women’s Day I went back to the spot where my incident happened. I held a sign explaining what had happened to me, and I danced. I danced my protest, and it felt right. It was petrifying, exhilarating, and soothing all at once, and it was absolutely fitting.
Because when some creep on the tube whips out his tackle and starts masturbating against you, the best thing to do, the most fitting thing to do, is to wait a year then gyrate like a mad person in front of random strangers, most of whom are trying very hard not to notice. Yes, make a scene. A year later. And if there’s one thing tube masturbators respond to, it’s bad performance art they’ll never get to see. By
“dancing loudly,” she tells us, “I feel a unity with all the women across the
world who refuse to be silent.”
Amid the various commenters rushing to let others know that they’re “ashamed to be a man,” one Guardian reader adds their support with a review of Ms Cosgrave’s incongruous display:
I loved the juxtaposition of your dance, cleansing the space and reclaiming it, with the poles of the tube. The image created of the objectification of the female form as a pole dancer and the expressiveness of performing a dance of catharsis.
It’s difficult to tell whether the comment is sincere or some laser-guided parody. But such is the Guardian and its readership.
Brace yourselves, people, I’m elevating the tone and it’s a steep incline. Prepare to weep with delight as your very soul is embiggened. Thanks, of course, to our old friend the “much praised” Bulgarian performance artist Mr Ivo Dimchev, whose theatrical stylings, “impressive physical idiom” and “gripping sensitivity” have thrilled us previously. Here, we turn to Mr Dimchev’s epic 75-minute collaboration with sculptor and fellow artistic titan Mr Franz West. The project, titled X-ON, features the bare-breasted gyrations of Yen Yi-Tzu, Veronika Zott, Christian Bakalov and of course Mr Dimchev, who also had a hand in the musical score and whose talents clearly extend beyond mere human measurement. The piece - of which the video below is, sadly, but a small taste - will be featured at the Vienna International Dance Festival on Sunday July 21st, and is summarised thusly:
Dressed only in high heels and sumptuously decorated panties, bald-headed and endowed with the voice of an opera singer, the queer diva Lili Handel moves about and manipulates sculptures by the famous Austrian artist Franz West. And three figures, who are tourists at first but then mutate into muse-like creatures, dance with her to the spherical and powerful music by Philipp Quehenberger. According to Ivo Dimchev – alias Lili Handel – the point is not “to find ways to accommodate West’s works to the dancers’ bodies and the stage but to find out in what way ideas of the theatre, of music and of the performative body must adapt and transform themselves to establish contact with these sculptures.”
Unlike in his previous offering, Mr Dimchev doesn’t masturbate with a wig. He does, however, extract some of his own blood before smearing it on a chair. So there’s that. Yes, I know. You’re champing at the bit, itching to become one with the cultural elite. And stocked up on liquor, I hope. So. On with the show…
The Heresiarch ponders the Chinese market for human milk:
Apparently - well, according to the South China Morning Post, as retailed in shocked tones to readers of Telegraph Online by Tim Stanley – there’s a trend among China’s increasingly prosperous and fashion-conscious middle classes to hire wet-nurses. Only not all the milk is intended for babes in arms… Yes, it’s unconventional. But you may reasonably wonder why it’s normal for people to consume milk intended by nature to feed baby cows, yet enjoying milk intended for human beings should be considered disgusting and wrong… Leaving aside the yuck factor, it is of course impractical (and morally unacceptable) to milk women in the same way that cows are milked commercially: human milk as such will only ever be a niche product.
Bonfire Night is insufficiently glum. Something must be done.
An earlier Guardian poll - Should Fireworks be Banned on Environmental Grounds? - was a close-run thing, with a narrow majority willing to permit an evening of explosive hedonism. The Guardian’s Felicity Carus suggested a possible compromise in the form of “green fireworks,” a quieter, less colourful, less explosive alternative made from sawdust and rice chaff.
Some people weigh their activist credentials by the annoyance they arouse, often deliberately, while dismissing the irritation as symptomatic of exposure to the Daily Mail. The degree of inconvenience and subsequent hostility can then be taken as evidence of one’s own righteousness and a cause for satisfaction. As if on cue, Sunny Hundal tells us: “Environmental issues is one area where I don’t yield much, and frankly when people snort angrily about [anti-air travel activists] Plane Stupid, that gives me even more pleasure.” Though not, I suspect, quite as much pleasure as Mr Hundal’s own extensive air travel adventures, which were excitedly announced shortly before his declaration of support for Plane Stupid: “Honestly, I love these guys.” Now I’ve no objection at all to people flying halfway around the planet, twice, as Mr Hundal did, to India then California, but I’m not the one declaring my “hard-line” green credentials.
Margaret Jamison is a lesbian feminist who defines rape as “all penile intercourse” on grounds that, “there is something wrong with this notion that a woman’s ‘consent’ is what separates a rapist from a non-rapist.” When not insisting that “all heterosex is rape,” Jamison’s thoughts turn a little too readily to the subject of harming children: “I believe male infanticide to be a better option than the current circumstances. I think it’s better than what we’ve got.”
Meet Arun Smith, the ideal self-satisfied product of a leftist education.
Despite his extensive commentary on the subject, Arun Smith still hasn’t specified any actual remark that offended him sufficiently to vandalise the university’s free speech wall then boast about it online. However, he does tell us that expectations of free speech are “structurally oppressive.” Quizzed on his presumed entitlement to violence, Mr Smith replies, “You forget that writing can be violence. Resistance to violence is not violence.” And so he, being heroic, must resist and intervene to save some (again unspecified and exquisitely precious) potential victim. In this case, presumably, he’s saving them from the psychological hazard of passing by the statement “traditional marriage is awesome.” Four words that would obviously shatter the self-esteem of any vulnerable student already on the verge of weeping. Such are the dramas to be enacted in the modern Canadian university, one of the most indulgent and cossetting environments in the history of the world.
The Guardian’s fashion guru Charlie Porter has a bag that’s much too daring for Canary Wharf security.
“I heard someone behind me. I turned and saw a man in jeans and a plain top. ‘Security,’ he said quietly but firmly, showing me some ID. ‘Can I have a word?’ He asked to see my bag. ‘Is it yours?’ I said yes, incredulous. This felt like a parallel universe. ‘It’s just that we’ve had a lot of women’s handbag thefts. You can’t be too careful.’”
This is an extraordinarily, absolutely, uniquely cohesive political entity and society… I’ve been there. I’ve seen it up close and personal… They do have a satellite circling the Earth. They do have a cohesive, pristine, innocent culture. A culture that has not been penetrated by globalisation and by Western mores… I’m much more afraid of the United States of America and so are most people in the world.
Consider George Monbiot. These days he rails against austerity, especially of the Tory variety, saying it has “extended the crisis” and “hurt” ordinary people by propelling Britain into a double-dip recession. But wait – I thought he loved the idea of recession? In 2007 he wrote an article called Bring on the Recession, in which he argued that, as “unpleasant as it will be,” and yes, “some people [will] lose their jobs and homes,” a recession might at least help prevent “ecological disaster” by reining in pesky, polluting economic growth. Back then, in his book Heat, which was lapped up by leftists and praised to the hilt by that Queen of the Left, Naomi Klein, Monbiot proudly said radical environmentalism was a “campaign not for abundance but for austerity.” Got that? For austerity. He said that where the dumb, consumption-hooked masses have a tendency to “riot because they want more, not less,” it was incumbent upon enlightened radicals to “riot for less” and even to “riot for austerity.” Once again, for austerity.
Chris Snowdon has more on the subject, including one columnist’s belief that lowered living standards would be a “freeing” experience and result in a “more amiable atmosphere,” with the threat of poverty forcing shopkeepers and taxi drivers to be more polite:
When the full impact of the recession hit home a few months later, these columnists had the good sense to shut up about unemployment cleansing the soul for fear of being lynched by their readers… In part, it can be attributed the demands of being a contrarian newspaper columnist with space to fill, but there is no doubt that there are many people in well-paid jobs who believe that poverty is noble and empowering… It would be nice to think that some of these miserablists have learnt a lesson from the era of alleged austerity, but I suspect that it will only take a few quarters of economic growth for the attacks on GDP to return.
And of course we mustn’t forget the glorious visions of the New Economics Foundation, whose deep thinkers want to make us “better citizens” by taking away our stuff.
Most of the domestic policies Ken favours were last presented to the British public in Michael Foot’s 1983 general election manifesto, accurately described by former Labour minister Gerald Kaufman as “the longest suicide note in history.” Thirty years after that electoral catastrophe, the one reason to welcome this film is that it reveals more clearly than anything else the backward-looking, scarily obsessive, extreme political agenda of those who subsidise films in Britain — and, indeed, those who ‘criticise’ them, for I guarantee that this will receive the most respectful reviews of any release this week.
From the Castro District they seek to expand the nudity zone outward to
all of San Francisco; if the movement gains momentum, could it expand to all of
California, and then eventually nationwide?
Viewer discretion advised.
comments, David Gillies captures the protest’s essential neediness: “Look how
transgressive I am!” We can, I think, assume that
the ‘activists’ aren’t trying to share a glorious aesthetic experience. Even many of the locals, whom I’d guess are
fairly accustomed to juvenile displays, are finding the ‘activism’ a little
intrusive and annoying. Zombie cites an article in the Bay Area
Reporter, in which the protestors’ need for attention and provocation is pretty
obvious, if not actually pretty:
They have become more
aggressive in the Castro. Some don cock rings – euphemistically referred to as
‘genital jewellery’ – to simulate an erection. Others, according to witnesses,
shake their dicks at oncoming traffic, obviously seeking a reaction.
businesses and other residents, especially those with children, aren’t terribly
impressed. As Zombie says,
Although the Castro may be a gay mecca, it is not exclusively populated
by single gay men, nor are the surrounding neighbourhoods gay. Many families with
children live in and around the Castro, which means that children are out in public,
occasionally encountering the nudists. In fact during the protest itself families
with children needed to get from Point A to Point B along Market Street, and
had no choice but to navigate their way through the crowd of naked penises.
strike some as funny, at least initially and from a distance. But imagine
you’re out shopping with the kids in tow and having to weave your way through
large groups of unattractive men waving their tackle at you. And the standard
blather about “civil rights” and “body image” isn’t very convincing. One
doesn’t have to have “unrealistic issues of body shame” to find the
exhibitionism tiresome or inappropriate. And the denials of any sexual aspect
are also unconvincing, especially given that so many of the participants are
enthusiasts of fetish clubs and websites catering to people who like public sex
and scandalising others, and for whom the whole point is to have an audience, whether
titillated or repelled. It’s rather like how the people at last year’s
‘protest’ claimed they just wanted to be left alone - while
squealing for attention on a traffic island in the middle of a busy
supporter of the exhibitionists pops up, as it were, in the comments at
Zombie’s place and insists,
It’s only your selfish control freak streak that
wants to dictate what other people wear; your disrespect for the opinions and
lifestyles of anyone whose opinion and lifestyle doesn’t match what you
consider ‘proper’… Your statement reminds me of how selfish, childish
and disdainful of anyone else’s rights so-called ‘conservatives’ are.
to me this is more than a little dishonest. Setting aside the issues of
exposing oneself to children, the impact on local businesses, etc., I think
what’s objectionable is that random people are being made participants in the
exhibitionists’ psychodrama, whether they wish to be or not. For many, if not
most, of the ‘activists’, this isn’t even about an enjoyment of being naked per
se. It’s about confronting other people with unsolicited nakedness. That’s the
enjoyment – it’s a juvenile kink. Being nude in private or among consenting
nudists in dedicated bars, clubs, spas, on nature trails, at specialist beaches, etc., of whichSan Franciscohas plenty, doesn’t give the ‘activists’ enough of
a thrill. Because the people there are willing. Hence the demand to display
their genitals in front of random passers-by. An audience is required in order to feel transgressive and it’s pretty obvious that’s what
matters. They want to be naked near
you. They want you to witness their daring. It’s essentially a kind of challenge - an
imposition on others, and the act of imposition is, for some, the whole point.
And so the source of the “selfishness,” “childishness” and “disrespect” is also
In 1989 Theodore Dalrymple paid a visit to North Korea’s Pyongyang Department Store Number 1:
It didn’t take long to discover that this was no ordinary department store. It was filled with thousands of people, going up and down the escalators, standing at the corners, going in and out of the front entrance in a constant stream both ways - yet nothing was being bought or sold. I checked this by standing at the entrance for half an hour. The people coming out were carrying no more than the people entering. Their shopping bags contained as much, or as little, when they left as when they entered. In some cases, I recognised people coming out as those who had gone in a few minutes before, only to see them re-entering the store almost immediately. And I watched a hardware counter for fifteen minutes. There were perhaps twenty people standing at it; there were two assistants behind the counter, but they paid no attention to the ‘customers’. The latter and the assistants stared past each other in a straight line, neither moving nor speaking.
Eventually, they grew uncomfortably aware that they were under my observation. They began to shuffle their feet and wriggle, as if my regard pinned them like live insects to a board. The assistants too became restless and began to wonder what to do in these unforeseen circumstances. They decided that there was nothing for it but to distribute something under the eyes of this inquisitive foreigner. And so, all of a sudden, they started to hand out plastic wash bowls to the twenty ‘customers’, who took them (without any pretence of payment). Was it their good luck, then? Had they received something for nothing? No, their problems had just begun. What were they to do with their plastic wash bowls? (All of them were brown incidentally, for the assistants did not have sufficient initiative to distribute a variety of goods to give verisimilitude to the performance, not even to the extent of giving out differently coloured bowls.)
They milled around the counter in a bewildered fashion, clutching their bowls in one hand as if they were hats they had just doffed in the presence of a master. Some took them to the counter opposite to hand them in; some just waited until I had gone away. I would have taken a photograph, but I remembered just in time that these people were not participating in this charade from choice, that they were victims, and that - despite their expressionless faces and lack of animation - they were men with chajusong, that is to say creativity and consciousness, and to have photographed them would only have added to their degradation. I left the hardware counter, but returned briefly a little later: the same people were standing at it, sans brown plastic bowls, which were neatly re-piled on the shelf.