David Thompson


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September 30, 2011


Karen M

I believe in art, and folly, and dreams. I believe that if we can’t collectively subsidise artists to imagine new worlds for us, we have no business speaking of social progress.

So Laurie's little trip was so important that who gets stuck with the bill is "anodyne and inconsequential"?
No one does stupid and arrogant quite like like LP.


“No one does stupid and arrogant quite like like LP.”

It’s not her first time.

And no, Laurie’s defence of the project and its funding isn’t the best one, all things considered:

Given that there are many other projects receiving the same non-transferrable funding as part of the Cultural Olympiad, one of which is apparently a set of giant crocheted lions, attacking NowhereIsland on the basis of cost to the taxpayer might seem a little snippy.

Well, yes, lots of other people have their hands in our pockets too and are pissing away our money because no-one is stopping them – say, by sailing to the Arctic and releasing canisters of CO2 because it’s so incredibly daring, or attempting to induce seizures onstage as “an important artistic work.” But noting such examples and how fatuous and opportunistic they are is hardly an argument for doing more of the same. The fact that six people already have their hands in my back pocket for no good reason isn’t a great incentive for inviting in a seventh, eighth and ninth. And if people wish to relocate dirt in the name of consciousness-raising, perhaps they should get their hands out of our pockets and do it on their own dime.

It would, after all, demonstrate their belief in such folly. As opposed to a belief in their own entitlement.


Even the bear was white.

Bandit 1

One question for any deities who may be reading. Why (oh why) did they have to make it back?


I believe in art, and folly, and dreams. I believe that if we can’t collectively subsidise artists to imagine new worlds for us, we have no business speaking of social progress.

We really should be thanking her for making us laugh. Does she actually read this stuff back before she publishes it?


Hey, they might be on the something. Collect enough of them onto a large enough ship, sail it out the middle of the ocean, disembark the useful crew, and leave it. I'm sure they'll enjoy creating an enlightened civilization from scratch...


“Does she actually read this stuff back before she publishes it?”

Once an entitlement culture has been created (as illustrated vividly, if unwittingly, by Ms Penny) - and once that sense of entitlement has been framed as normative, sustainable and morally unassailable - it’s very hard to shift. For some, arrogant presumption becomes a default state. And a belief in one’s entitlement to other people’s earnings, even for activities like those above, isn’t likely to encourage self-awareness. After all, what would there be to gain from it? And so we reach a point where rewarding narcissistic flummery is in effect considered a legitimate function of the welfare state. Not to indulge such people, and indulge more of them indefinitely, would risk the end of civilisation itself. Apparently.


The lions are shit and a waste of money. One waste of money does not justify another.

Half a million pounds is only inconsequential if someone else picks up the bill.

The fucking Arts council. Abolish it now. We'd save a fortune and far from destroying our culture it would undergo a renaissance - imagine a culture where juvenile marxist agitprop wasn't the default expression.


Even the bear was white.

I would like to publicly thank Trimegistus for alleviating the despair I was feeling by the end of this post.


I believe in art, and folly, and dreams.

And freeloading.


“I believe in art, and folly, and dreams.”

“And freeloading.”

Ah, but believing in folly is so much easier, and so much safer, when some other sucker has to pick up the tab. Luckily, the sucker gets very little say in how or on whom his money is spent. Because the Arts Council knows best, obviously.

Mr Eugenides

I had a wonderful holiday in Indonesia a few months ago and it never occurred to me that I might have it funded by the government. I'm now kicking myself for not thinking of it sooner.

See that two day boat trip I went on? It might have looked like we were all just chugging beer and listening to dubstep (whatever the fuck that is), but actually we were charting course for a utopian future, with the boat a metaphor for the islands threatened by rising sea levels. See that scuba diving I did? It might have looked like I was splashing about in the water, but actually it was a way of seeing for myself the devastating effect of acidification on Gaia's fragile ecosystems. See that German bird I was desperately trying to shag? That was my small effort to build the pan-European demos that will secure our childrens' futures.

Can I have my cheque now?

sackcloth and ashes

Mr E,

Your blog is sorely missed.


Mr E.,

“Can I have my cheque now?”

You’ll get your money after I’ve spoken to the German bird. She may tell a different story.

Sgt Pinback

I notice Ms Penny now has a publisher: Pluto Press. I believe this is the same outfit that specialised in Serb war crime denial. She really is the most disgusting little wretch.


...".. trying to group-write a theoretical constitution for a speculative nation."
Excellent news. Can they all please f**k off there and stop leeching off the rest of us now?
Seriously though, I wonder what such a constitution might look like?

Article 1:
We believe in the right to free speech - provided you agree with us.
Article 2:
What's yours is mine, and what's mine is my own.

Any others?

Thon Brocket

Trimegistus: Even the bear was white.

Polar bears are alleged to have black hide under that white fur.


creating a floating “visual sculpture” of tremendous, indeed profound, political significance.

Thank you, David. My afternoon is complete. ;-D

A token of my gratitude is on its way via PayPal.



It’s an artist’s impression, obviously, the handiwork of Mr Watts, but I’m confident it captures the majesty of the thing.

And tokens of gratitude are always welcome. What with the price of ammunition these days.


"Look, the bear is friendly! He's coming this way, perhaps to greet us..."


One question for any deities who may be reading. Why (oh why) did they have to make it back?

All gods, including the Judeo-Christian one, have a sick sense of humor.

The Unspeakable In Full Pursuit Of The Unreadable

I like that Ms Penny met a statue of Lenin. I expect it spoke to her. I expect she may wish to get to know it better. Perhaps marry it and bring a brood of Lennys into the world.

dr cromarty

Surely we pay the Royal Navy to hole this kind of thing under the waterline, don't we?


"if we can’t collectively subsidise artists to imagine new worlds for us, we have no business speaking of social progress"

If the government quit throwing taxpayer money at crappy art projects that nobody would willingly choose to pay for, people like Laurie Penny may as well shut up? I have to say that's not the most persuasive argument I've ever heard.


If money is so 'inconsequential', why do these parasites always expect to be given loads of someone else's?


“If money is so ‘inconsequential’, why do these parasites always expect to be given loads of someone else’s?”

Ah, but the assumption is that taxpayers shouldn’t trouble themselves with how their earnings are expropriated and pissed away by their betters. Artists, see, are visionaries and so sacrifice is necessary - yours, of course, not theirs. Laurie illustrates this point with her usual grandiose sorrow: “Is this what human progress has come to? Fighting over the scraps of money left as the markets crumble?”

Oh, the indignity of not being given all the money you want just because you want it.

There are two things worth noting here. Firstly, Laurie equates the fatuous, self-aggrandising relocation of dirt with “human progress.” Apparently, NowhereIsland is exactly the kind of “progressive” project that will drag us in its wake to a brighter, more enlightened tomorrow. (It only looks like the usual cliquey freeloaders’ talking shop, in which the same self-selected caste of middle-class lefties pretend to be pivotal to human advancement. Because, hey, they’re that important.)

Secondly, the notion that artists might actually consider earning a living doesn’t register at all. There’s not even the briefest flickering of that possibility. The idea that artists might endeavour to produce work that their customers would pay for voluntarily, without Arts Council coercion, appears to be unworthy, and perhaps unthinkable. Artists, see, are much too important to waste their time making beautiful things that people want to buy. Their role is much grander - to “imagine a culture beyond the control of capital and the nation state.”

This, of course, is simply asserted. As so much is in Laurie’s world.

David Gillies

In the Edenic world of Laurie Penny's imagination, untrammelled by such quotidian things as food, shelter, clean water, defence from wild animals etc., she'd be dead within three hours.


Oh, the indignity of not being given all the money you want just because you want it.

Heh. Nicely put as usual Mr T.

Another LolPenz classic:

We went looking for Utopia. What we found was each other.

Bwah! As if it wasn't always all about them...


"If money is so 'inconsequential', why do these parasites always expect to be given loads of someone else's?"

When the government proposed modest curbing to the growth of state spending, money was of such critical importance that she spent most of this year enthusiastically cheering on and encouraging anti "cuts" rioting. Money only becomes inconsequential once it's being spent on pretentious vanity projects that Ms Penny personally approves of.


It’s also worth noting Laurie’s trademark dishonesty. Her article would have us believe that she and her shipmates are all high-minded people thinking terribly important thoughts, and hence their entitlement to other people’s money. Supposedly, their involvement, and hers, is vocational and altruistic, not just opportunist. But Laurie made her own motives clear in an earlier post on her blog:

“I signed up for this journey because I was thoroughly enamoured with the possibility of going to the Polar circle, and by the human experiment of being crammed on a tiny ship with twenty strangers and no internet access for two weeks, a sort of Big Brother as imagined by Ian McEwan.”

In short, a free holiday - a blag.

Not to everyone’s taste, I know, especially given that Laurie notes the number of Guardian readers on board. And not exactly free either. In the rather important sense that other people had to pay for it, whether they wished to or not, with money they earned by working.


" I believe that if we can’t collectively subsidise artists to imagine new worlds for us, we have no business speaking of social progress."
OK let's stop speaking of it then, suits me.


“I believe that if we can’t collectively subsidise artists to imagine new worlds for us, we have no business speaking of social progress.”

The statement above reminds me of the Guardian’s Owen Hatherley, who thinks vaguely alternative pop music is impossible to make without unconditional benefits, a grant, a squat and a subsidised spell at art school. I was under the impression that it only took three chords and an ostentatious haircut. How times have changed.


"I met a polar bear, a whale, some reindeer, several fat seals..."

Does Laurie believe that, somewhere, there are thin seals..?

Still, I suppose it explains why she's not at the Wall Street shindig. Too busy touring the Arctic.

Laurie and Hardly

"we have no business speaking of social progress"

Correct. You, girl, have absolutely no right to talk of social progress as you without question support miserable, spirit-sapping and selfish socialist policies.


There seems to be a massive portion of the population that spends all of its time arguing that the rest of society should subsidize them.

Which is as one might expect. The real disgrace is that we do.


To really get the feel for the place, I think these brave explorers should have overwintered in Nyskjaeret using their art to sustain them. Arctic winters can, I've heard, be quite transformative to one's psyche. Certainly it would have given them an opportunity to reassess their views on global warming, polar bears, and the true value of their art.



“…the Wall Street shindig.”

Or as Iowahawk put it, “A biblical plague of 500 unemployable locusts with nipple rings and MA degrees.” But brace yourself, Laurie is in fact there, reporting from the front line of cargo cult politics. (It’s interesting how easily this cash-strapped revolutionary gets around the planet.)

Sadly, the protesters do seem to be experiencing some credulity and navigational issues. They also seem happy to rail against corporations on their iPads and Blackberrys, while wearing trademarked Guy Fawkes masks licensed from Time-Warner. And from what I can make out, their great political insight is to end government corruption by making government even bigger and more powerful. But still, they do have intellectual titans like Laurie to steer them to success. After all, says she, “the space is its own demand.”


reporting from the front line of cargo cult politics.

The 'radical' left in a nutshell.


“The ‘radical’ left in a nutshell.”

Well, it’s the usual passive-aggressive tantrum. Same rhetoric, same narcissism, same basic dynamic: Obstruct, self-congratulate and repeatedly provoke, then whine about the consequences while relishing the drama. For instance, deliberately blocking Brooklyn Bridge, stranding hundreds of commuters for over 2 hours, is, it seems, no biggie and no basis for complaint. But being arrested for doing so is an outrage, apparently. And the officers doing the arresting should be “named and shamed.”

This is radicalism as defined by pretentious adolescents. And so, obviously, Laurie had to be there.

Laurie and Hardly

The Brooklyn Bridge farce: The 'radicals' find that their so-called protest in Wall Street is having little effect beyond shouting and exchanging rhetoric so they spill out into a place where they will be noticed far more. Having protested in front of people in the city's financial district who, for all their faults are actually workers and as taxpayers put far more into the economy than they take out, the rabble moves on to the bridge where their behaviour ensures they are arrested by law officers who, for all their faults are taxpayers and put far more into the economy than they take out, with the added incentive of sometimes having to do dangerous and highly unpleasant jobs on behalf of the community.

The protesting rabble meanwhile are almost exclusively people who take from the economy rather than put anything back, other than has been noted elsewhere that they are consumers of corporate products such as mobile phones and party outfits and for those from further afield, purchasers of airline tickets. None of this however causes these people a moment of introspection but instead allows them to indulge in moral outrage and posturing while often claiming a spiritual affinity with various historic murderers and despots, none of whom would have tolerated a moment of dissent.

And the 'radicals' wonder why we don't think much of them?

Brian H

And the 'radicals' wonder why we don't think much of them?

"This was absolutely inspired by Tahrir Square, by the Arab Spring movement," said Tyler Combelic, 27, a Web designer from Brooklyn who is a spokesman for the occupiers. "Enough is enough!"


The delusion, it burns.


As Tim Blair notes, “They think they’re living in a cartoon.”

But that’s the thing with young people gorged on leftist dogma. It doesn’t make them radical or subversive in any meaningful sense; it just makes them whiny, self-righteous and stupid.


No! They're not stupid. It's a gathering of geniuses.


"It’s interesting how easily this cash-strapped revolutionary gets around the planet"

The secret is smart budgeting. The taxpayer paid for the Arctic island, also she saved a bundle by paying her intern below the minimum wage:



"NowhereIsland embodies the global potential of a new borderless nation, which offers citizenship to all; a space in which all are welcome and in which all have the right to be heard."

Also known as California.


Narcissus Shrugged.

Rich Rostrom

These people definitely belong on the B-Ark.

Side comment here: I think Douglas Adams was unfair and insulting when he consigned hairdressers to the B-Ark. Hairdressers are skilled craftsmen who do real work with their hands. Unlike "management consultants", they are subject to immediate real evaluation by their clients. If what they deliver isn't of real value to the customer, they don't get paid.

The contrast with the practitioners of state-funded art bollocks couldn't be stronger.

Horace Dunn


Thanks for that. Most amusing. Two things occur to me. One, could you imagine the fuss that would be made if a TV programme here in the UK made fun of such people in a similar way? Well, of course not. It just wouldn't happen.

Second, I was reminded of an interview that I heard on the BBC's Today Programme. This was an interview with Edward Bond: no dimwitted waster, but rather one of the left's most admired and eloquent spokesmen, a playwright, director and theorist. Bond tells us that the current UK government "could be the worst government since the 1930s". When asked to elaborate on this ... well, just have a listen (for as long as the clip remains available).

His response shows him to be as tongue-tied and vacuous as any of the kiddies on the Wall Street protest, and equally lacking in any coherent argument or - God forbid - evidence to back up his assertion. Nonetheless, this curmudgeonly dullard is given pride of place on the BBC's "flagship" news programme. I wonder why.



“It’s a gathering of geniuses.”

Heh. My favourite line:

“If you put every leftwing cause into a blender, this is the sludge you’d get.”


“…and equally lacking in any coherent argument or - God forbid - evidence to back up his assertion.”

That’s some powerful blather. Clearly, leftwing dramatists are the great thinkers of the age.

It’s hard not to find these people entertaining, though. The protestors seem to think the state should be their parent (as if there couldn’t possibly be a downside to that arrangement). Have you read their, um, list of demands? As EBD notes, this isn’t a protest against cronyism and injustice so much as it’s a protest against logic and reality.

As illustrated in this interview (around 19 minutes in), when one of the organisers says they “took the bridge” (i.e., they “took” not just the pedestrian pathway but the car lanes too) because “there didn’t seem to be a lot of [police] presence.” She and her comrades took this as a license to paralyse a major traffic artery for over two hours. In short, there were insufficient police to physically stop them from breaking the law, so they broke the law en masse. She then blames the police, but not her associates, for creating “a difficult situation.” Laurie makes an appearance too. She blathers about “a global uprising,” dismisses mass traffic obstruction as a basis for arrest, and then denounces kettling as “collective punishment designed to show people they can’t come out on the streets… designed to deter dissent.” Laurie carefully avoids any mention of peaceful protests that stick to agreed routes and where kettling doesn’t occur (a coincidence, I’m sure), nor does she mention the rather shocking violence and mob vandalism that gave rise to kettling as a belated response by British police.

Laurie’s world, like that of her associates, is a selectively acausal one. Her narrative always frames her fellow protestors as victims of ill-treatment and injustice, never its instigators – despite plenty of evidence to the contrary. As when former NUS president Aaron Porter appeared on TV denouncing the vandalism and violence that, several hours earlier, he’d been filmed hinting at excitedly. Or when student activist Clare Solomon described police attempts to protect residents and property as a “provocation,” one that meant the protestors has been “forced into violence” – of which she then promised more: “This is only the start.” If one were to believe these accounts, no-one started the London violence by breaking through cordons and storming Milbank Tower, with masked mobs setting fire to buildings and smashing pretty much anything in reach; and no-one threw bricks and bottled urine at police officers long before kettling had been tried.

Perhaps this is why she, like Bond, is given so much airtime and leeway by the scrupulously impartial BBC.

Jason Clay

reporting from the front line of cargo cult politics.


Horace Dunn


Thanks for alerting me to the list of Wall Street demands. What a joy it is. The statement by the list's author, one Lloyd J Hart (clearly an intellectual heavyweight), that: "These demands will create so many jobs it will be completely impossible to fill them without an open borders policy" brings forth big fat tears of mirth.

"Perhaps this is why she, like Bond, is given so much airtime and leeway by the scrupulously impartial BBC"

I have to admit that I felt rather sorry for poor old Humphrys during his interview with Bond. The playwright's opening gambit about the "worst government since the 1930s" and dark hints of "trouble" a-coming are merely followed up by a succession of ums and ahs and some twaddle about drama being politics, or whatever it was. At one point Humphrys, in order to get *something* out of him, helpfully asks whether the August riots might be evidence of the dark times he is predicting. But even that failed to get any sense out of the old buffoon.

I tell you what. I don't think I'll bother to go to see his bloody old play.

dr cromarty

Just one thing. I can do this every day - laughing at delusional, victimhood obsessed, rent-seeking lefties. But you are also right. This money is MY money they are lifting from my back pocket. Do any of you, after reading of Laurie Penny and the parasites contact the Department of Culture Media and Sport and tell them you've had a gutsfull of this shit. If you don't, you should, otherwise they'll just keeep on doing it.

Oh and BTW David, you might want to take a look at this waste of oxygen:


Theresa H

Maybe they should take their little boat island into Somali waters.


My comment on Laurie Penny's article is as follows:-
What utter bullshit.

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