Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Literature, anthropology and socialism

Thanks to Many books and my e-reader, I've just finished reading Grant Allen's The british barbarians.

Stuart may enjoy this one - the conceit (and I am going to spoil the plot) is that a time traveller goes back to the time of writing (the 1890's) on an ethnographic tour of British taboos from the perspective of the 25th century - it anthropologises Victorian Britain, and compares the mores of that society with primitive taboos, and finds that society unenlightened and primitive (having things like private property in land, and marriage).

Now, the central motor of the plot is a free love romance (a married woman flees her husband, no less), but which in classic liberal romantic style pictures this as the woman's emancipation (the protagonist proclaims her to be his, and she naturally subordinates herself to him).

The interesting part is that the author is so sure of the truth of his wares, and yet, so far as I can see from my own scant reading, his examples from 'primitive' tribes are fallacious, and his own points about the natural purity of women are now exploded.

Finally, of interest is the brave exposure of prostitution as a constituent part of marriage relations. Also of intriguing note is the defence of the idea that we are alone in the universe, and that there is no extra-terrestrial life.

Well worth the read.

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Friday, October 16, 2009

Eco Logic

The Swedes are keeping warm with Bunny Boilers!

I kid not, they are burning rabbits for fuel - apparently, rabbits are an alien plague, and they kill so many, turning them into fuel is a good way of getting rid of the bodies - obviously, they must be killing little ones without much eating on them.

That is the future of the green movement - biofuels kill bunnies!

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Thursday, October 15, 2009


Well, I was flicking through Tom Barry's Guerilla War In Ireland on the bog this morning, because parts of the news reminded me of some details from that tale - viz the attacks on police stations by insurgents in Pakistan.

This is bad, if they are strong enough and feel they have enough support to be able to attack their opponents civil forces of social control, they are well on their way to full scale insurgency (and maybe further than that). It's especially worrying as.
  • They recently attacked the army (with no come back from their own support base - and the army is a central pillar of what is Pakistan).
  • There appears to be no civil force to counteract them, no labour movement, or anything on the streets.

    This is bad on a stick. Meanwhile the efforts to get to a plausible victory condition in Afghanistan are redoubling, while the chances of just plunging the whole region into chaos continue to grow. British ministers try and say that the war was fought to stop planning, preparation and training of terrorist attacks in Afghanistan/Pakistan - but in reality they have turned the whole area into one vast training camp for guerillas - it was a hot war like this that trained Bin Laden, lets not forget. The veterans of this war will haunt the battle fields of Earth for thirty years to come.

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  • Wednesday, October 14, 2009

    Fantasy reformism

    OK, back to fantasy reformism, again. I have two.

    1) Recall - much in the news at the moment. Now, I've said before that I prefer frequent periodic election to recall, because the question of the trigger is a pesky one (set too low, political gridlock, too high and the measure becomes all but worthless). I was reading, though, the Wikipedia article on Constructive votes of no confidence. The idea being, you don't vote the incumbant out until there is a replacement candidate (i.e. you vote the new one in rather than the old one out). This sets the bar quite well, because a candidate wouldn't run unless they thought they were in with a chance of winning.

    2) War!!!! - following Isaac Asimov's idea that war represents a failure of politics, herein a suggested new rule - the way a government declares war is by the Prime Minister making a statement admitting their failure, and resigning from office. A nice simple test, if they really think war is necessary, they should signal it by making a sacrifice themself.

    Any suggestions out there for fantasy reformism?

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