Thursday, 19 December 2013

open letter to the Archbishop of Westminster

To the Right Reverend Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster:

Dear Archbishop Nichols,

You have asked the Coalition government to review 2012 immigration legislation preventing spouses from outside the European Economic Area from joining their British husbands or wives if they (the non-EEA spouses) earn less than £18,600.

It’s dispiriting to see families with one British member split up. I’ve been in a long-distance relationship, and it hurt; I had cause to remember the French prayer to Our lady of Lourdes, which urges: priez pour ceux qui aiment et sont partis.

But if I may ask you to tune your political antennae to a wider wavelength, I hope you will see that years of poorly-controlled immigration has caused such a population rise in this country that in 2012 we were delivered a stark wake-up call: during the UK’s second-wettest year on record, our drinking-water nearly ran out.

We in Cambridgeshire have seen the benefits immigration can bring with Pinoy – Filipino men and women – coming to do healthcare jobs in the early 2000s and fitting in seamlessly with our Judaeo-Christian heritage. But a proportion of them have been forced out of their jobs due to EU rules saying that when contracts come up for renewal EU citizens must be prioritised.

This, I think is the crux of the matter: British citizens, whom you so rightly point out are suffering, are put in this position because the government has extremely limited powers to act on couples when neither of them are from Great Britain.

Like many others, including members of your flock, I look forward to the day when Britain’s politicians can truly govern within British borders and prevent British people from suffering. I hope you will speak out to say that the desire of British people to be governed solely by British politicians is by no means sinister or toxic, so that injustices like those you have identified can be consigned to history.

Yours faithfully
Gerry Dorrian
300 words


Catholic leader brands immigration policies 'inhumane' Miranda Prynne, The Telegraph, 16 December 2012

Changes to the family migration Immigration Rules come into effect on 9 July 2012 - UK Border Agency

Met Office: 2012 was UK's second wettest year on record -

Drought Declared Across 17 More Counties As Warning That Water Shortages Could Last Until Christmas - Huffington Post, 16 April 2012

immigration laws limit the days of being enriched - 300 words

Monday, 16 December 2013

Popper's theses on gov't (7) - liberalism is evolutionary, not revolutionary

Principles of Liberalism may be described (at least today) as principles of assessing, and if necessary of modifying or changing, existing institutions, rather than of replacing existing institutions. One can express this also by saying that Liberalism is an evolutionary rather than a revolutionary creed (unless it is confronted by a tyrannical regime).

In Karl Popper’s penultimate Liberal Thesis, he delineates tradition’s role: the means for an institution to evolve as situations change, or – perhaps more sinisterly – as the Establishment’s view of the institution’s purpose changes.

Sir Richard Mayne - click to learn more
One of several institutions I could mention in illustration is the police. While Sir Richard Mayne (right) defined police work in 1829 as "the prevention of crime [and] detection and punishment of offenders if crime is committed", as mass immigration changes our national makeup police become increasingly the enforcers of last resort when British culture opposes that of the Establishment’s favoured ethnicities. Thus, we see the English flag described as "racist" and a Christian preacher arrested for saying what has been in the Bible for millenia.

(I’m not criticising rank-and-file police, merely illustrating how Establishment opinion drift causes institution mission drift.)

read more about Democrat quote
In qualifying liberalism’s evolutionary nature with the caveat that it can become revolutionary when confronted with tyranny, Popper recognises the contributions liberal philosophy and politics made to the American, French and various humanitarian revolutions. It’s necessary to remember, though, Public Opinion and Liberal Principles appeared in 1956, before liberal leaders worldwide prostituted the movement’s vitality to the left, causing Ronald Reagan (left) to say "I never left the Democrats, the Democrats left me".

But Popper’s unquestioning acceptance that liberalism’s evolution will be in a socially positive direction contradicts a point made elsewhere in Conjectures and Refutations wherein he takes Hegelians and Marxists to task for assuming the same, through mistaking Kant’s triadic layout of his categories for a statement that syntheses will always be preferable to the conflicts they resolve. That, as institutional mission drift shows, depends on the Establishmentarian agenda regarding the conflicts.

I think Popper would reply that in the open society we can’t afford to make any thinker carry the cross of infallibility.

Gerry Dorrian
300 words

This series:

Popper's theses on gov't (1): state a necessary evil

Popper's theses on gov't (2): democratic government can be got rid of without bloodshed

Popper's theses on gov't (3): democracy confers no benefit on citizens

Popper's theses on gov't (4): we're not democrats because the majority is always right

Popper's theses on gov't (5): institutions are insufficient without traditions

Popper's theses on gov't (6): Utopia is an impossibility

Popper's theses on gov't (7) - liberalism is evolutionary, not revolutionary


History of Policing - Metropolitan Police

Motorist told flag could be racist - Charley Morgan, This is Wiltshire, May 2008

Christian preacher arrested for saying homosexuality is a sin - Heidi Blake, Daily Telegraph, may 2010

"Why Reagan Was 'The Great Communicator' - Craig von Buseck,

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Popper's theses on gov't (6) - Utopia is an impossibility

A Liberal Utopia – that is, a state rationally designed on a traditionless tabula rasa – is an impossibility.

As one of the last Enlightenment philosophers – indeed the one whose legacy did most to shut the Enlightenment down – Karl Marx, like many others, set himself the task of planning out a brave new world where people would live happily and without oppression.

This didn’t happen in a vacuum. In 1772 Denis Diderot had published his Supplément au voyage de Bougainville, a year after the eponymous captain had published the accounts of his circumnavigation of the world which including a visit to Tahiti, which he initially described as an egalitarian paridise. He then revisited this opinion, saying he had overlooked the "cruel inequalities" between different ranks on the island.

But before they got to that bit, swathes of European philosophers had acquired what we might call, to mangle a Star Trek phrase, Tahiti Syndrome by Proxy. Marx was one of many to plan out a Utopian future for Europe, not bothering to ask himself when he referred to the work in Capital why Thomas More had set his paradise on a fictional island.

Utopia never materialised in the Paris Commune, and in its first 20th century manifestation it was taken to Russia by Lenin, who was sent there by the Germans as a unique weapon of mass destruction that would take his country out of the war. Cutting all ties of tradition meant, as Popper said in his 5th thesis, that Russia became the opposite of what the Communists had intended: more repressive and more colonial than it had under the Tsars.

History shows a long, painful journey to attain what rights the Russians had in 1916. We had no less a long, painful journey before the Utopian Lisbon Treaty was signed in 2007, sweeping aside centuries of tradition and common law. We need to reconnect our country to its tradition before Utopia takes the path it has always done.

Gerry Dorrian
300 words

This series:

Popper's theses on gov't (1): state a necessary evil

Popper's theses on gov't (2): democratic government can be got rid of without bloodshed

Popper's theses on gov't (3): democracy confers no benefit on citizens

Popper's theses on gov't (4): we're not democrats because the majority is always right

Popper's theses on gov't (5): institutions are insufficient without traditions

Popper's theses on gov't (6): Utopia is an impossibility

Popper's theses on gov't (7) - liberalism is evolutionary, not revolutionary


Supplément au voyage de Bougainville (French) - Denis Diderot - project Gutenberg

Voyage Autour du Monde (French) - Louis Antoine de Bougainville - - the passage about the cruel inequalities (la disproportion cruelle) is on p99 of the pdf

Capital - Karl Marx - Internet Archive - use the search function on your browser to locate quotes about Utopia

Utopia - Thomas More - PDF

The Sealed Train full text of Michael Pearson's book on Lenin's journey to Russia to establish a communist state

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

is the Kenya mutiny symptomatic of wider unrest?

The sit-down strike by soldiers of the 1st Battalion (Yorkshire Regiment) was a very British mutiny. I suppose in a sense Corporal Anthony Brown was lucky to be merely thrown out of the Army: after the 1917 Étaples Mutiny, Cpl Jesse Robart Short was executed for calling an officer a “bugger”.

The present action, taken during the Askari Thunder exercise in Kenya, also stemmed from the actions of people in charge: two commanders – who haven’t had their names plastered all over the press like the enlisted men – got drunk the night before a forced march and were found after the exercise sleeping off their hangover.

Incidents like this never spontaneously erupt; the discontent is usually slow-burning, with a possibly small incident turning into a flashpoint, the straw that broke the camel’s back.

It’s also impossible to ignore what’s going on around at the same time. We have the trial of one of Gunner Lee Rigby’s killers, who has been heaping praise on the nursing and medical care he has received, treatment he ensured Gunner Lee would not live to benefit from.

And of course there’s Marine A (Sgt Alexander Blackman), who was sent to Afghanistan to engage with terrorists in irregular warfare, and is facing 10 years in prison for doing precisely that.

There is an inequality inherent in any functional system, without which systems tend to collapse – but that itself can lead to system collapse when the inequality gap is unbridgeable.

This happened literally in the Étaples mutiny, when the officers appropriated billets in the posh resort across the bridge and left troops to fester on the wrong side of the river. If what happened in Kenya is symptomatic of a wider dislocation between officers and enlisted soldiers, perhaps the veteran Fusiliers’ march on London was but the politest of warning shots.

Gerry Dorrian
300 words


Afghanistan veterans jailed for parade ground sit-in protest over "muppet" officers - The Huddersfield Daily Examiner

Court-martial of Cpl Jesse Robart Short - National Archives

Lee Rigby murder trial: 'I’m a soldier just like Drummer Rigby... I killed him because this is war’ - Tom Whitehead, Daily Telegraph, 9 December 2013

Sgt Alexander Blackman: Marine backed by 60,000 people over killing of Taliban insurgent - Daily Mirror, 8 December 2013

Breaking: 100,000 people (the threshold that should trigger Parliamentary time for a topic) support Sgt Alexander Blackman - Daily Mail, 11 December 2013

Click to sign the HM Government e-petition to free Sgt Alexander Blackman (Marine A) - at time of writing 37,691 signatures

Veteran Fusiliers to march on London - ITV news, October 2012

Friday, 6 December 2013

Pi, paranoia and Plato

click to go to the movie homepage

Director Darren Aronofsky doesn’t underplay the paranoid aspect of his 1998 debut Pi: the tagline is "paranioa is faith in a hidden order beyond the visible" – a hook Vigilant Citizen eventually bit on. However, I think the film is a meditation on that classical allegory of painful awakening, The Cave in Plato’s Republic.

The protagonist, Max Cohen, says near both the start and finish of the film that despite his mother’s warning not to look into the sun he did so at the age of six and, after being initially blinded, "something…inside me had changed."

Plato prefaces the Cave with a passage about the sun (Max’s mentor is called Sol), to compare the visible world with the intellectual. The point about the Cave is the contrast between the visible world and reality. The film mirrors the allegory’s four parts:

  1. Prisoners observe "reality": artworks’ shadows cast by a fire behind them.
    Max uses his obsession with numbers to play the stockmarket.
  2. One of the prisoners is turned round and sees the fire.
    Sol alerts max to the vital importance of the 216-digit number displayed by his computer before it crashes.
  3. A prisoner is dragged to the surface to see the sun.
    Max will learn from Jewish Kabbalists that the number represents God (before the Cave, Plato uses the sun to represent the Good).
  4. Should the prisoner return, Plato surmises, his former associates will try to kill him.
    Max was almost killed for his realisation that his number relates to a reality beyond that of the stockmarket.

The lesson I took from Pi is the one thinkers of all traditions tend to conclude: the world that brings us joy is the one we walk upon and share with others, but awakening to that world, forever in front of our noses, involves a long and painful journey.

Gerry Dorrian
300 words


Pi homepage

""something…inside me had changed" quote from Pi IMDb

The Republic - Plato, Electronic Classics. The allegories of the sun, the divided line and the cave are from p187 (starting with the section marked Glaucon-Socrates) to p196.

Sun, Divided Line and Cave - J.E. Raven, Cambridge University Press (Jstor/The Classical Quarterly, 1952): an academic article that might be of help in understanding the allegories.

Read reviews of Pi at Amazon

Thursday, 5 December 2013

RIP Nelson Mandela: may his legacy endure

If prison should be a place of redemption, as Pope John Paul II said, Nelson Mandela showed that it can be. While there’s been some unsavoury comment on Facebook about his hinterland, there is surely no doubt that he was the decisive factor in enabling South Africa to transition from Apartheid to a fairer way to live.

A friend of mine from the South African diaspora in the UK told me, when Mandela walked free from Robben Island he could have initiated a bloodbath with a wave of his hand. He didn’t. He chose to try and lead his nation down the path of reconciliation.

click for 5 december news at ten
Did he succeed? Only time can tell. There’s certainly a degree of underreporting of the extent to which white people in South Africa can feel embattled. As white left-wing presenters on the BBC’s News at Ten put on their official mourners’ faces, it was left to Johannesburg correspondent Nomsa Maseko (right) to give voice to this embattlement when explaining the strong police presence as the rainbow people, to use Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s phrase, took to the streets to celebrate his life and legacy:
People were worried about what was going to happen…each time Nelson Mandela was hospitalised a lot of South Africans were virtually in the waiting room, except now it was white South Africans saying “please don’t die, because we don’t know what the future is for white South Africans”. Because there is still a belief by some white South Africans that when Mandela goes, which we have now seen here, his long walk to freedom is now ended. What is to happen to them? That is the question that a lot of people are still asking.
Nelson Mandela has fought the good fight and finished the race. May his dream and his legacy be remembered and safeguarded.

Gerry Dorrian
300 words

News at Ten, extended edition, 5 December 2013 - Go to 45.50 for a section of Nomsa Maseko's presentation quoted above

Monday, 2 December 2013

Popper's theses on gov't (5): institutions are insufficient without traditions

Institutions alone are never sufficient if not tempered by traditions. Institutions are always ambivalent in the sense that, in the absence of a strong tradition, they also may serve the opposite purpose to the one intended…To sum up: Traditions are needed to form a kind of link between institutions and the intentions and valuations of individual men [sic].

Popper’s fifth liberal thesis seems a comment upon the national and international institutions set up in the wave of collectivism that followed the Second World War.

I’d like to look at Great Britain’s welfare state, set up to combat the "five giants" identified by Sir William Beveridge in his report of 1942: Want, Disease, Ignorance, Squalor and Idleness.

The welfare state had no traditions in British society and therefore became a political football at elections times, and at other times it housed a massive unelected Establishment intent upon walking a socialist state into our systems, no matter the political hue of the day’s government. The result: Beveridge’s five giants are bigger than ever:

Food banks are proliferating, as are payday loan companies.
The National Health Service is in a perennial state of collapse and, at the last count, 13,000 people have died unnecessarily in just 13 trusts.
The Teaching Times reports that 17% of school leavers are functionally illiterate; this despite unprecedented funds being pumped into education since 1997.
It seems children are found living in squalid conditions every week, with social services aware of their condition. There's countless articles on this - check it out.
Idleness has long been a political synonym for unemployment. School-leavers struggle to find jobs because older immigrants with more mature social skills take bottom-rung positions that school-leavers traditionally occupied. Further strain is put on the welfare system by immigrants who come here specifically to claim benefits without working.

It’s no surprise that Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has announced that the welfare state needs "permanent cuts" if its cost is to be sustainable. Had William Beveridge been less dazzled by the hope of collectivism, he might have seen that the War to End all Wars was never going to come, and cut his cloth – and ours – accordingly.

Gerry Dorrian
300 words

This series:

Popper's theses on gov't (1): state a necessary evil

Popper's theses on gov't (2): democratic government can be got rid of without bloodshed

Popper's theses on gov't (3): democracy confers no benefit on citizens

Popper's theses on gov't (4): we're not democrats because the majority is always right

Popper's theses on gov't (5): institutions are insufficient without traditions

Popper's theses on gov't (6): Utopia is an impossibility

Popper's theses on gov't (7) - liberalism is evolutionary, not revolutionary


Social Insurance and Allied Services Report by Sir William Beveridge (The Beveridge Report

Numbers relying on food banks triple in a year -

13,000 died needlessly at 14 worst NHS trusts - Laura Donnelly and Patrick Sawer, July 2013, The Telegraph

17% of school leavers "functionally illiterate" - Teaching Times

Autumn Statement 2013: Britain can no longer afford welfare state, warns Osborne - James Kirkup, December 2013

Sunday, 1 December 2013

social services snatch baby from womb

Put a frog in cold water and slowly raise the temperature: it will sit there until it dies. This week we heard of the case of a woman whose baby was snatched by social services, not from the cradle but from the womb. The water is starting to bubble.

The woman, an Italian spending two weeks in Stanstead to complete a Ryanair training course, is bipolar and wasn’t taking her medications.

Bipolar disorder is the most common mood disorder. An Australian study found 2.5% of the population were bipolar; in Italy, 10% of patients accessing non-psychiatric medical facilities are bipolar.

An Italian judge found that the lady agreed British social services had authority over the situation – but when she called the police because she couldn’t find her daughters’ passports, they told they were taking her to a hospital to check her baby was OK. It was a psychiatric hospital, where she was later restrained while being forcibly sedated in preparation for a C-section. Her baby was snatched from her womb, which should be its safest refuge.

click to read the Christopher Booker article
The message is unmistakeable: take your medications or lose your children. Didn’t anybody stop to think that many psychiatric meds are contraindicated in pregnancy? Did the NHS operating team know they were working in, to be charitable, a legal grey area?

This isn’t just about mental illness – social services have form in targeting people they consider to be on the verge of public opinion then moving inwards: think how the snatching of foster-children from UKIP foster-parents was prefaced by a similar attempt on an English Defence League member.

In order not to jump out of the water as it heats, the frog has to have its brain removed. If we don’t get angry about this one, I think that description can be fairly applied to us.

Gerry Dorrian
300 words


"Operate on this mother so that we can take her baby" - Christopher Booker, Telegraph, 1 December 2013

MP John Hemming to raise Essex forced Caesarean claim -

Bipolar disorder and its diagnosis - Royal College of Psychiatrists; quotes study on lifetime incidence of bipolar disorder in Australia on p9 of the pdf

Disturbi dell' Umore - Epidemologia - Manuale Merck (in Italian)

Incidence of bipolar disorder in 3 UK cities - British Journal of Psychiatry

Wisdom on frogs - Michael Jones, The Atlantic

Council which removed foster children after parents' UKIP membership was discovered finally apologises seven months on - Simon Tomlinson, Daily Mail

Why try to take baby from EDL mother but not from "terrorists"? - Ted Jeory, Daily Express