No Country for Old White Men

bidensanders
Image: New York Times

Why are there no women running for president? The Democratic Party’s leadership race is down to two, decidedly old, white men, one of whom has trouble completing a sentence. The sitting President of the United States is yet another old white man. The media is all  abuzz  with this question.  Hilary Clinton wants to know why? House democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi wants to know why? Nancy Pelosi implies, if the Republicans ran a woman, she’d vote for her.

Well, Democratic Party establishment, I’ve found someone for you. She’s young, not white, articulate and definitely a woman. On top of that she’s a war veteran, having served as a medic in Iraq. Guess what? She’s running for president and in the Democratic Party leadership debates, she embarrassed all her rivals (watch the video).  So what’s the problem? Why can’t a woman like this be the next president? Answer, she wants to stop all theses costly and destructive regime change wars and bring the troops home. She also wants to defuse the new cold war and spend the money instead on education, healthcare and other priorities. This has the military industrial complex and its media stooges in a fury. Let’s talk about something else, they say – why there’s no women, not enough gender neutrality, anything; just don’t mess with our wars!

Since the debates, Tulsi has been mercilessly and thoroughly demonized in the media and by the Democratic Party establishment. She’s a Russian agent, apparently, and an Assad apologist. More recently, she has been rendered invisible. So that’s why there isn’t a woman, Hilary and Nancy.

What do Tulsi Gabbard and Donald Trump have in common? Not much, but one thing they share – wanting to end regime change wars and defuse the new cold war. At least Donald Trump ran for president on that ticket.  Both Tulsi and Donald were speaking outside the “republicrat” mainstream narrative, the corporate-controlled narrative. Interestingly, Donald Trump was also labelled a Russian agent and an Assad apologist. A costly and futile two-year investigation found no evidence for this (The Meuller Report) but there it was, every day for two years, in the media spotlight, Donald Trump the Russian agent.

On the night of the debates there was unprecedented public interest in Tulsi’s campaign. She was the most Googled candidate of them all. As the online hits soared, Google, with no explanation, shut down her account. This action deprived her campaign of vital ad revenue.   As a so-called “private” corporation, they are allowed to do this.  In fact, Google executives have been caught boasting of how they can influence the results of an election.

I’m going to propose something radical. It doesn’t matter whether the president is a man or a woman, black or white, someone with a pleasing personality or an abrasive one. What matters is their policies and more importantly, their ability and willingness to implement those policies.

The fact that Donald Trump, an old white man, and Tulsi Gabbard, a young, female person of colour are subject to exactly the same treatment by the establishment media, ought to have us asking a few questions and thinking outside the box.

 

 

(C) Adrian Charles Smith 2020

Brexit – The Quest for Autonomy

britain_brexit_npost
Image source: National Post

I wanted to write something about Brexit while it’s still timely. The topic has temporarily dropped from the radar but will soon return with a vengeance as the UK approaches a new “cliff edge” in about a year. At the end of this period, a transitional arrangement will end; and if no trade deal has been reached by then, the UK will leave the EU on World Trade Organization terms.  We are often warned the UK must not leave without “a deal,” but this is misleading because WTO terms would represent a perfectly acceptable arrangement.

Brexit is an acronym which stands for Britain’s exit from the European Union. The controversy has given rise to a flurry of such acronyms – Frexit, France’s exit ; Dexit, Germany’s exit; and my personal favorite Czech Out, the exit of the Czech Republic. The EU has a mechanism, called Article 50, which theoretically allows member states to leave; but  like the Hotel California – you can check out; but you must never leave (unless prepared for the clean break). British Prime Minister Theresa May waisted three years negotiating a terrible deal which was worse than membership. It was repeatedly rejected by Parliament despite numerous attempts to ram it through (the rejections were about the only thing Parliament could agree on). May’s spider’s-web agreement spawned yet another acronym, BRINO – Brexit in name only.

The UK has been roughly divided into two camps, consisting of Leavers and Remainers, the latter often referred to as Remoaners, because they only accept democratic outcomes they agree with. They’re also internationalists, claiming the nation state is obsolete and ought to be replaced by a world government run by really smart people who know what’s best (a dictatorship). The first step towards globalization is regionalization and the continent of Europe is a “blueprint” for successive phases.

Needless to say, I am a Leaver (as the title of this blog site would suggest). In another sense I am also a Remainer; supporting a  close trading arrangement and other forms of co-operation which do not compromise national and individual  sovereignty. Indeed, from the beginning, that was always the stated intention of the EU. The idea of a super state was a hidden agenda, waiting to emerge full blown once decades of anti-nation state propaganda had reached fruition. The EU was originally sold to the public as a peace project, an alternative to two world wars. If that’s so, then why the push for a single European military with headquarters on the continent? This planning is now at a very advanced stage.  Apparently, they are  still planning for war but on a much larger scale.  Nationalism is racism, they say, but people who love their own families can live side by side with other families without becoming the Hatfields and the McCoys. It happens all the time – in the real world. Canada has a free trade agreement with the United States and Mexico but no assembly outside Canada has power to legislate for Canadians and we are not subject to the rulings of any foreign court. There were many wars on this continent once, but this is unthinkable now, without the need for political unification. In Europe, the once  hidden imperative for ever closer political union is now explicit and Brexit represents a dagger at the heart of it. If Britain were to remain in the EU, it would have less autonomy than a single state within the United States. There’s a government document in the National Archives which says so.

There are many reasons to be Euroskeptic, but of particular interest to me is the damage done to the UK constitution occasioned by many years of EU membership. This damage has accelerated since the 2016 referendum owing to desperate attempts by well-placed Remainers to subvert the results of the referendum.  This is no small matter. The UK constitution has evolved over the centuries as a defense against tyranny. To allow that constitution to be compromised  in favour of  anti-democratic institutions in Brussels is to put at risk all the protections we take for granted.

First, I will explain some key features of the UK constitution then proceed to describe how EU membership has damaged it, possibly beyond repair.

The central pillar of the UK constitution is the legal sovereignty of Parliament. Parliament may legislate on any subject matter and having legislated, no court or other body may challenge the validity of that legislation. Furthermore, a  unique aspect of the U.K constitution is that of the  convention. Convention  gives the UK model it’s unwritten characteristics. An unwritten constitution works fine until a convention is violated. For example, no law can take effect without royal assent; but by convention, the Queen does not act alone, relying on the advice of her ministers. What happens if she withholds the royal assent, which she is legally entitled to do? The answer – constitutional chaos. To be clear, the Queen has not done this, but other conventions have been broken in desperate attempts by Remain MP’s and a biased Speaker to stop Brexit. The closest thing the UK has to a written constitution is the Bill of Rights 1688. Article 9 of the Act says the freedom of speech and debates and proceedings in Parliament may not be challenged or impeached in any court or place out of Parliament. This clause was inserted because the King would often use the courts to override proceedings in Parliament. This use of the courts to interfere in “proceedings in Parliament” re-emerged during the Brexit battle.   The constitutional battles of the 17th century resulted in a clear delineation of responsibility – a separation and balance of powers. Tyranny occurs when one branch or arm of governance seeks to override another. Since then, the courts have always refused to get involved in political matters. The rule is, Parliament creates laws, the courts enforce them. Until now, the UK courts have been renowned for impartiality. I cannot think of a single example until now when the courts have broken with this convention. Another aspect of the UK constitution is the concept of the royal prerogative. Certain matters are for the executive branch alone and the courts may not interfere except to determine the existence and scope of a prerogative power. Two common prerogatives are the command and disposition of the armed forces and the negotiation of international treaties. Negotiations with Brussels over Brexit is in the latter category.

UK parliament
UK Parliament

The UK joined the European Union, or The European  Economic Community as it was then called, in 1973. The Union was “sold” to the public by Ted Heath’s conservative government as a trading relationship. I lived in the UK at that time and I remember it well. In those days, the Labour Party (the socialists) opposed the UK’s application for membership based on the issue of national sovereignty, the same reason I oppose it today. How times have changed! Today it’s the conservatives leading the Leave campaign. Now it’s Labour (although divided) trying to keep us there. Back in the day, Labour’s eloquent spokesman, Anthony Wedgewood Benn, repeatedly warned of the hidden agenda. That was when the Labour Party actually represented working people rather than an effete establishment as it does today. Here’s what he had to say:

Britain’s continuing membership of the Community would mean the end of Britain as a completely self-governing nation and the end of our democratically elected Parliament as the supreme law-making body in the United Kingdom.

Here’s what he said after the passage in Parliament of the European Communities Act 1972 (providing the legal basis for the UK to join the EEC):

It was a coup d’état by a political class who did not believe in popular sovereignty.

The 1972 Act gives legal authority for EU law to have effect as national law in the UK. The 1972 Act also gives EU law supremacy over UK national law. Where the interpretation of EU law is in doubt, the 1972 Act requires UK courts to refer judgment to the European Court of Justice. All primary legislation enacted by the UK Parliament has effect subject to the requirements of EU law. This means that the courts are obliged to strike down legislation which is inconsistent with EU law.  The European Court of Justice (to which the UK is now subject) has since ruled that EU law prevails even over the national constitutions of member states. As always, the devil is in the details.

This is a clear violation of the legal sovereignty of Parliament principle, the very foundation of the UK constitution. It is also a clear violation of the long-standing convention that UK courts do not interfere with Parliament.

An example will serve to illustrate. I refer to the The Factortame case of 1991, which concerned the practice whereby Spanish fishing companies registered their vessels as British and then bought up British fishing licences, allowing them to share UK quotas even though they sailed from and landed their catches in Spanish ports. Parliament passed the Merchant Shipping Act to protect UK quotas. To qualify for British quotas, ships had to be owned and crewed in Britain. A group of Spanish-owned fishing companies headed by Factortame Ltd. brought a legal action claiming, “national discrimination.” The European Court of Justice upheld their claim and the UK ‘s highest court had no choice but to strike down the Act.  Factortame is a clear example of the impotence of Parliament occasioned by EU membership. To add insult to injury the British government had to pay 100 million pounds in compensation to the Spanish companies for the 18 months they had been deprived of fishing rights.

After all my painful experiences with religious and secular fundamentalism, I’ve become deeply suspicious of people with hidden agendas, disguising their true intentions behind a mask of moral and intellectual superiority; especially when I suspect their real motivation is power. Every now and again, they step out from behind the curtain and reveal themselves. Here’s what political economist and diplomat Jean Monnet  (one of the original founding fathers of the EU project, (called “The Father of Europe”) had to say:

Europe’s nations should be guided towards the super state without their people understanding what is happening. This can be accomplished by successive steps, each disguised as having an economic purpose, but which will eventually and irreversibly lead to federation.

Well, he very nearly got us there. Then came Brexit.

The progression from trade arrangement to super state  was recognized in the 2016  Referendum Bill, read in Parliament by then foreign secretary, Philip Hammond (remember that name). He begins, the EU had “changed almost beyond recognition” from what the British had endorsed in the confirmatory referendum in 1975.

He ended: “Whether you favour Britain being in or out, we surely should all be able to agree on the simple principle that the decision over our membership should be taken by the British people. Not by Whitehall bureaucrats; certainly not by Brussels Eurocrats; not even by government ministers or parliamentarians in this chamber. The decision must be for the common sense of the British people . . . For too long, powers have been handed to Brussels over their heads. For too long, their voice on Europe has not been heard. This bill puts that right. It delivers the simple in/out referendum that we promised, and I commend it to the House.”

MPs endorsed his call by the massive margin of 544 votes to 53. Not a single Conservative, Labour or Liberal Democrat MP voted against it (the 53 “no’s” consisted of Scottish National Party MPs). In the most spectacular and emphatic fashion, Parliament had ceded its authority to the public, directly.

That was all well and good when the political establishment were confident that the British people would swallow the Kool Aid. Once the unexpected happened, and the Leavers won the referendum, that same Philip Hammond, who once  lauded the common sense of the British people, he abruptly turned on them, together with 21 Tory rebels,and set upon sabotaging the democratic result.  Phillip Hammond and others were all elected on a clear platform of “no deal is better than a bad deal.” By defying the government and refusing to allow a “no deal exit,”  they were also defying the very people who elected them. Today the legal supremacy of Parliament really means the legal supremacy of the voting public.   Suddenly, the people had no common sense, they did not understand what they were voting for. The simple in or out choice would not suffice after all. It needed to be hedged about by endless reams of qualification calculated to neuter the result.

By denying their own government a working majority, the rebels had also engineered a “hung Parliament.”  Parliament then  passed a law requiring Boris Johnson to seek an extension rather than leave on schedule (on a date already enshrined in law). Boris sought to prorogue (adjourn) Parliament for a period deemed longer than normal. Rather than seek a remedy internal to Parliament itself, the Remainers took him to court. This marked a return to the constitutional battles of the 17th century.  The High Court gave an impeccably correct decision in line with  precedence. It was a political question and not one for the courts. It could be resolved in Parliament by a vote of no confidence or an election. The Remainers lacked the nerve for either alternative, anything but face the verdict of the electorate. Instead they appealed to the Supreme Court, a relatively new court set up by arch Remainer Tony Blair. This is the moment the constitution shattered. The Supreme Court held that the PM’s decision was “unlawful.” This was more of a  political decision than a neutral and impartial one based on precedence. There was a fear that the extra time involved in prorogation would prevent Parliament from extending the deadline thus triggering a “no deal” outcome. The clear rule has always been, the courts do not interfere in political matters. In the end it mattered little how long Parliament was prorogued but the decision has created a constitutional crisis.

The will of the people cannot be suppressed forever, and to drive that point home even more forcefully a subsequent election (on a platform mandating a clean Brexit) returned Boris Johnson with a thumping majority; and as for those 21 Tory rebels, every last one of them failed to be re-elected after being expelled from the party. The way is now clear for a true Brexit, but have those passionate Remainers given up? Not a chance. Their patriotic zeal for a new European super state is undiminished, even as the EU fails miserably on every front. It remains to be seen how much influence the new aristocracy will bring to bear on subsequent developments.

The EU is not a democracy, far from it. Eu law originates as Commission proposals and is enacted by a Council of Ministers. There is a European Parliament but it’s mostly a debating chamber. It‘s role is consultative but real power resides with unelected appointees who receive their instructions from corporate lobbyists, a more direct form of corporate rule. The nation state is regarded by the multinationals as a big nuisance, an obstacle to the free movement of labour, capital, goods and services.  Free movement of people provides cheap labour for big business as well as the nannies, gardeners and servants needed to serve  affluent Londoners. Remainers can barely conceal their contempt for democracy, as do their ideological soulmates in Brussels. The aristocracy of old had a similar contempt for the masses.

Britain has the second largest economy in the EU and the largest military. It is the second largest contributor to the EU budget. Its economy continues to thrive despite all the predictions of “catastrophe” from the Remain camp. Leavers call this “project fear.” “Project fear” is nothing new. When the UK refused to adopt the Euro currency in 1992, there were similar predictions of catastrophe, none of which materialized. The UK imports vast quantities of manufactured goods from the continent, more than it exports which means a free trade agreement will benefit Europe more than the UK. The UK is in a strong negotiating position. Having a close relationship with Europe, trading or otherwise, is a great idea . Political union is unnecessary to achieve these ends.

(C) Adrian Charles Smith 2020

dover cliffs
photo: Plastee/Shutterstock

Rick Gervais, a right-winger? Hardly.

British comedian Ricky Gervais caused a stir at the recent Golden Globe awards ceremony, calling out “woke” corporations and the  “woke” celebrities who work for them. Here’s some of what he had to say:

“Apple roared into the TV game ‘The Morning Show,’ a superb drama about the importance of dignity and doing the right thing — made by a company that runs sweatshops in China. You say you’re woke, but the companies you work for, I mean, unbelievable: Apple, Amazon, Disney. If ISIS started a streaming service, you’d call your agent, wouldn’t you? So if you do win an award tonight, don’t use it as a platform to make a political speech, right? You’re in no position to lecture the public about anything. You know nothing about the real world. Most of you spent less time in school than Greta Thunberg. So if you win, come up, accept your little award, thank your agent and your God, and fuck off.”

The Apple CEO was there, drinking it all in; and check out the expression on Tom Hanks’ face. Priceless!  There was some nervous laughter punctuated by gasps of disbelief and Tom Hank’s facial contortions lasted throughout the evening. Too woke to joke!

hanks cant handle it
Hanks’ discomfit

Ricky was instantly labelled a right winger by the corporate-owned media, but it’s a lie. He publicly supported the left-wing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn (the communist) in the UK general election. Ricky is also an avowed atheist who hates religion, especially the “woke” kind. He’s a real progressive, just not a fake one (see Mask of Piety).

Tom’s face brings back a lot of memories. I would see that a lot during my last days in the Church.

(c) Adrian Charles Smith 2020

My Book Begins with a Troubling Realization…

matrix
warner bros

Reality might not be what we think it is. What we have come to regard as objectively real might be instead a carefully-constructed false narrative to pull the wool over our eyes. A whole universe of credible alternatives never see the light of day. Our imagination  has been  narrowed, our field of vision confined to a small box  resembling a prison – a prison for the mind. This realization is by no means confined to a religious context but is much more widespread than generally understood. In fact fundamentalism can take over an entire civilization, as outlined in the chapters on postmodernism.  The carefully-constructed false narratives fall apart over time, which leaves us wondering, have we built our house on sinking sand rather than solid rock? We thought we understood the world but the real truth is far different. In the movie The Matrix, the main character Neo, is horrified to discover that his every day world is nothing more than an illusion, a sophisticated mirage. The horrifying truth is that he has lived, since birth, in an incubator where an attached cord siphons off his vital life force energy. The cord is a feeding tube for an alien race of overlords.  They have reduced the human race to an energy source, a collection of living batteries. Immersed in the fantasy of the Matrix, he is unaware of their presence and therefore incapable of escape. The false narratives have a similar effect as the fictional Matrix. If we allow them to continue unchallenged, we can literally fall asleep in delusion. The only answer is to free our minds, to pursue autonomy as though it were the Holy Grail.

I have attempted to distill the essence of fundamentalism, identifying its common features regardless of the external appearances which vary considerably.

Here I summarize some of those common features which are discussed at greater length in the book.

Utopian Vision

If you really believe in utopia, no price is too high and no sacrifice too great to bring it about. The end justifies the means, opening a Pandora’s box of depravity. Like the four horsemen of the apocalypse, famine, pestilence and death ride with them. as illustrated by the Holy Crusades, the Bolshevik Revolution and the Reign of Terror – murder and mayhem, then utopia. But utopia never comes.

The Parasites

These are the ones who benefit from the false narrative.  There’s always a parasite disguised as a benefactor. The old adage applies – follow the money; but their real goal is power, perhaps religious, perhaps political.  Their real motives and objectives remain hidden and often, their very existence.

Demonization of the Opposition

Challenges to the prevailing narrative are not met with argument and reason but rather denunciation and labeling.  This is a form of indirect censorship, not as obvious as book burning to be sure but highly effective. Nothing succeeds quite so well as the smear. The strategy also serves to isolate the believers because they are afraid to listen to or associate with heretics.  Such a reaction is a sure sign you are on the right track. Perhaps they are afraid. Perhaps our liberation is closer than we think. Perhaps we need only snap our fingers to awaken from the trance.  Once we awaken it’s all over for the parasites. Once you realize you’re in a cult you’re already free.

The Mask of Piety

The parasites always manage to occupy the moral high-ground.  This has been true since the Pharisees and no doubt longer than that. Outwardly, they appear righteous but inwardly they are full of corruption. They like to make public displays of piety which in modern times has been called “virtue signalling.” Beneath the veneer of moral and intellectual superiority there exists a barely concealed contempt for the vulgar masses.

Hypocrisy

Invariably, the evidence mounts that the parasites do not practise what they preach, yet the true believers remain unwavering in their loyalty.  This represents, I believe, a kind of wilful ignorance.  The desire to believe is so strong that even when the hypocrisy becomes truly staggering, continuation of the status quo is preferred to the discomfort of uncertainty.

Arrogance

All fundamentalists have a certain contempt for unbelievers. This can range from mild condescension as in “let’s reach out to save the poor lost souls” or all the way to mass murder, as in, “let’s get rid of this evil  in the world.”  The Crusaders had this in mind as did Stalin and Hitler.

This arrogance has an addictive quality because it gives the true believer a false sense of empowerment.  The addict is attempting to relieve his suffering which in this case is a sense of disempowerment.   The fundamentalist is part of a special people, an elect. The elect know “the truth”, others do not.  There is a feel-good factor here but because every drug starts to wear off,  more is needed to have the same effect.  Every addict is blind to his addiction so if it isn’t working, his answer is – “double down.”  If the addict were not blind he would reach the obvious conclusion: the ideology isn’t working anymore because there’s something wrong with it.

Shadow Projection

Psychologist Carl Jung and others have long argued that we all have a shadow side, those attributes which we would prefer to keep secret. The dividing line between good and evil runs through the centre of each individual soul. But for the fundamentalist, the dividing line exists at the boundaries of his ideology.  All virtue is ascribed to those who belong to the inner circle and all evil to those who do not.

Shadow denial leads to shadow projection. Those attributes which we reject within ourselves are projected onto others, the non-believer or the heretic. The deeper the denial the more fanatical the projection.  The true believer starts to resemble the very thing he hates. Those who profess tolerance are plagued by intolerance.  Those who profess virtue are a veritable grab-bag of sin.  This can reach hysterical proportions as it did during the Salem witch trials where innocent women were hanged. To see a modern day example of this hysteria and mob mentality see the video What’s Happening at Yale?  

Every human being has a shadow and so does every ideology, a combination of both positive and negative attributes. The shadow loses its sting once recognized and integrated into wholeness. The concept of integration is the vital antidote to fundamentalism. Integration at the individual level yields an integration of various competing ideologies. Every ideology has something to contribute. It ossifies if mistaken for the whole truth.

Adrian Charles Smith, December 2019

A Prison For The Mind

What does it mean to be a fundamentalist? What are its common characteristics and defining features? Can we escape the prison of ideological commitment, the straightjacket of conformity and groupthink?

Answers are needed to avoid the endgame of fundamentalism – totalitarian control.  

Adrian Charles Smith entered adulthood as a minister in a fundamentalist Christian sect, a loyal follower of a man he now calls the Wizard. But as with the Wizard of Oz, all was revealed to be a sham and his questioning of authority led to excommunication and life in the secular world.  Yet, once away from  the church, he observed fundamentalism in unexpected places – in the corporate world, in science and economics, in political ideologies, New Age movements and in postmodern philosophy. Different contexts, yes, but the same underlying phenomenon, the same adherence to ‘one truth’.  

In these adventurous essays, Smith, with equal amounts of erudition, humour and insight, examines why we are drawn to these fundamentalist approaches. His search ranges from the caves of Nag Hammadi to the hallways of Ivy League universities, from communist Romania to Sedona Arizona. He discovers his potential for unconscious relapse to one all-knowing ‘Wizard’ but eventually realizes that fundamentalists live in isolated camps, the truly free have genuine community, and unity in the midst of disagreement is possible.

This is a book about fundamentalism in all its pervasive, insidious manifestations.

Available through Amazon: USA, or Canada