S**t my economist says #11

Economist overboard!

Its been a weird couple of weeks for Paul Krugman. First he popped up on CNN to speculate that the threat of an alien invasion of earth might be good for the economy. Lots of scope for Keynesian stimulus spending on ray guns you see.

Then he was forced to take to his blog to deny that that following the recent earthquake on the eastern seaboard of the United States he had said

“People on twitter might be joking, but in all seriousness, we would see a bigger boost in spending and hence economic growth if the earthquake had done more damage”

The fact that many of the comments on that post on the now deleted Google + page of the fake Krugman were from Keynesians defending the statement rather undermines Krugman’s indignation when he bridled at being called a cheerleader for destruction.

But his denial of the earthquake comments contained yet another far out statement from the whack economist

“Just to be clear: World War II was expansionary because it led to a large increase in public spending”

Lets leave until another day the argument that the act of destroying large sections of the planet’s labour force and capital stock can in any conceivable way be said to exercise an “expansionary” effect on an economy you have to wonder where exactly Krugman has been for the past decade. And what has he been doing there?

We have had, along with the Americans, two foreign wars. Krugman’s fellow Keynesian Joseph Stiglitz estimated the cost of just the war in Iraq at $3 trillion. How’s that for stimulus?

The Federal debt ceiling was raised from just under $6 trillion in 2001 to nearly $10 trillion on the eve of the Lehman Brothers collapse in 2008. A massive stimulus and the economy still tanked.

Federal debt ceiling

So Krugman’s prescription for an ailing economy is a massive dollop of stimulus spending. That’s it. The same thing, in other words, that was being done to the economy as it hit the wall in 2007-2008. Maybe Krugman should stick to Space Invaders.

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Go West, young man!

On the wrong side

I’m in the United States and one of my holiday reads has been has been David McCullough’s excellent ‘1776‘, a wonderfully written history of the first year of the Revolution, or Rebellion, depending on which side of the Atlantic you’re from.

McCullough, a Pulitzer Prize winner, has a gift for character and is helped by those left by history to populate his story. Two of the characters in ‘1776’ are particularly striking. On the American side you have Major General Nathanael Greene. On the British side you have Captain John Montresor.

What is striking is if you look at both men a little closer. Greene, aged just 33, was a self educated foundry owner on the outbreak of the war. Montresor, by contrast, had over 20 years military experience behind him fighting in North America in the Seven Years War (or French and Indian War depending on which side of the Atlantic you’re from), with Wolfe at Quebec, leading expeditions and building fortifications “from Boston to Detroit to New York City”.

Yet Greene was a Major General and Montresor a Captain. As McCullough writes

“If the desperate American need for leaders had thrust young men like Nathanael Greene into positions beyond their experience, the British military system, wherein commissions were bought and aristocrats given preference, denied many men of ability roles they should have played”

Two and a bit centuries later little has changed. True, the USA has seen the rise of powerful dynasties such as the Kennedys, Clintons, and Bushes but a Ronald Reagan, a Bill Clinton, or even, dare I say, a Barack Obama or a Sarah Palin, can still rise from origins like Nathanael Greene’s to shape the nation.

Britain, on the other hand, remains almost as crusty and ossified as it did in the reign of King George III. Efforts have been made to remedy this malady. The most successful were the Whigs. They generated the wealth which allowed the Tories to paint the planet Imperial Pink and but were still sneered at.

Next came the early socialists. Despite initially noble intentions they failed to see how their ideology would simply replace one elite with another leaving them with the same ossifiaction, just with different people. And given how many Labour leaders from Clement Atlee to Ed Miliband were thoroughly posh even the faces changed little.

Finally came Maggie Thatcher (who Milton Friedman always saw as a 19th century Whig anyway) who’s attempts to convince the working and middle classes that there was no shame in seeking to be as rich as the upper class drew horror from Tory toffs like Lord Stockton. In the end they did for her.

So Britain remains, as it was when the expertise of John Montresor went untapped, a place where who you know matters more than what you know. In the USA, which cast this off in 1776, the difference is exhilarating. For the ambitious and talented the advice of the 19th century newspaperman Horace Greeley still holds; Go West, young man!

The birth of English history

The History Man

‘What Is History?’ E. H. Carr asked in the title of his famous book. Nothing objective, he argued, saying, “The belief in a hard core of historical facts existing objectively and independently of the interpretation of the historian is a preposterous fallacy, but one which it is very hard to eradicate.” Several decades later, Richard J. Evans responded with ‘In Defence of History’ and argued the opposite.

It’s not taking sides in this ongoing debate to say that once upon a time, what we now know as history – a lineal narrative of cause and consequence consequence – didn’t exist. When Thucydides sat down about 400 years before the birth of Christ to write his ‘History of the Peloponnesian War’, his chronological ordering of events was a radical break with what had gone before. There was a city called Troy and there was certainly some fighting around it but the account of the Trojan War given by Homer in ‘The Iliad’ was mostly myth. Even the ‘Histories’ of Herodotus, written about 40 years before Thucydides put quill to parchment, have a confusing, scattergun approach with chronology largely absent. Quite simply, Thucydides marked a quantum leap in the documentation of experience: the birth of history.

Big government has destroyed a healthy society and created an underclass

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To describe the rioting that took place in the UK recently as “anti-social” sounds so anodyne as to be redundant. Neighbourhoods were terrorized. Buildings were burned. And people were killed. But it still conveys an essential point.

One of the most noted aspects of the riots was the fact that the rioters were destroying their own communities. Whatever this may say about the intelligence of looters who target Tottenham over Knightsbridge, the riots were certainly an attack on society in the areas they live in. Why would they do this?

First, we have to consider what we mean by society. For too long the leftist definition has been widely accepted which sees “society” merely as a substitute term for “state”. In that view, society and social action simply amounts to whatever the government is doing and all it requires of the individual is to hand over his or her taxes when demanded.

In actual fact “society” is both broader and more difficult to pin down than that. One way of defining it is simply to see it in terms of people interacting. And this makes greater demands of the individual than does the leftist conception. It demands active involvement.

All sorts of areas where people interact comprise society while having nothing to do with state action: families, charities, sports clubs, religious organisations and workplaces, among many others.

It can be manifested in something as unremarkable as an ordinary yet friendly relationship with a local shop owner. All of this human action is social interaction — society in other words.

Yet up and down the UK large sections of the population have been absent from these circles of positive social action for years. With broken families and no jobs they are what we have come to term the “Underclass”.

To a very great degree, this underclass is the creation of the state. Welfare handouts have rendered fathers and families redundant in many cases. They have made it possible to live a quite comfortable life without ever earning a penny.

The debilitating, de-socialising effect of this is readily seen. To give an example, one of the mitigating circumstances most commonly put forward for the rioters was the lack of any state-provided recreational activity for teenagers.

It seems to have occurred to depressingly few people that by acting with others voluntarily they could have worked to provide something themselves as was the norm in the days before the vast expansion of the welfare state. The social approach as opposed to the state approach simply never occurred to them.

Welfare and state provision has de-socialised these people by enabling their withdrawal from large sections of the arena of voluntary human interactions. They dwell instead in the entitlement induced passivity of welfare dependency. They attack society where they live because they are not a part of it. They are, in other words, anti-social.

The great 19th century Liberal statesman Richard Cobdensaid that “Peace will come to earth when the people have more to do with each other and governments less”. The recent riots in Britain show that to be the case among individuals within nations as well as between them.

The wet shoe diaries

“A man’s got to know his limitations”

King Cnut is remembered by history for pulling up his throne on the beach, ordering the sea back and getting his feet wet. His attempt to assert royal power over the forces of nature was a soggy failure. Policy makers in Europe and the US are currently engaged in a similar exercise; standing at the seafront ordering the economic tides to recede. They are unlikely to have any more success than the old king.

In Europe and the US the issue has become sovereign debt. In Washington the problem is the rapidly growing amount of it. That is also the problem in Madrid, Lisbon, Dublin, Athens, Rome and, scarily, now Paris too. In European capitals the debt issue has been exacerbated by the additional question as to what extent a shared currency means shared debt liability.

Last week saw bad news on both of these fronts in the war against sovereign debt. In Europe borrowing costs for the two biggest debt basket cases, Italy and Spain, shot to ten year highs, over the 6% economists deem sustainable. On Wall Street the stock market saw its worst falls since the dark days of 2008 and the US lost its AAA credit rating for the first time ever. The economic tsunami threatened to wash the world back into recession.

The Cnuts of our time in Washington and Brussels were quick to take to the beaches and order it back. Sounding a little like ‘Sunset Boulevard’s’ Norma Desmond President Obama said: “This is the United States of America. No matter what some agency says, we will always be a triple A country”. In Europe Olli Rehn, the EU’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner, declared the rising borrowing costs for euro members “incomprehensible” and “not justified by the economic fundamentals”. Rehn sounded an unsuitably macho note when he warned that “the political will to defend the euro should not be underestimated”. Yet no one doubts the will of the EU leaders to save the euro as it is currently constituted. It is their ability to do so that is now in serious doubt.

This clash between the will and the ability, the politics and the economics, the upheld hand and the advancing tide lies behind much of the current chaos. The simple fact is that for all Olli Rehn’s Nietzschean strength of will, a choice will have to be made between kicking some deficit countries out of the euro or putting taxpayers in surplus countries like Germany on the hook for their debts. While in the US, Barack Obama’s outraged assertion that the US is big and that it is only the credit rating agencies that got small, will not change anything. The fact is that a country which has seen its debt grow from 6 trillion dollars in 2001 to nearly 15 trillion dollars and proposes to add another 2 trillion to that total can be justifiably said to have a debt problem.

This is not to say that politics is powerless in the face of economics, it used to be called Political Economy after all. But the politicians aren’t trying to battle impersonal economic forces; they are trying to will away the economic consequences of their very consciously taken decisions.

The spiralling US debt is a problem and markets are right to be worried about it given the inertia of the politicians for years. This is a situation deliberately created by President Obama, his almost equally free spending predecessor, and the pork barrel crazy US Congress over several terms. The euro is doomed in its present form and it was the politicians who created it and ignored its terminal flaws when they did so.

Even in the short term the politicians and not the markets are to blame. Wall Street crashed but what else did anyone expect after the non-deal on debt cobbled together by Congress? Borrowing costs in Italy and Spain rocketed but what did people expect when Italy’s austerity measures were revealed as highly suspect and Spain’s prime minister called an early election?

The economic forces which are now conspiring against the wishes and wills of politicians were, though, set in motion by politicians who felt they were invincible. When Angela Merkel talks of her desire to assert “the primacy of politics over the markets” she is seeking to assert the primacy of a world without consequences over a world with consequences. She and her fellow governmental leaders want to continue inhabiting a dream world. It’s time to wake up.

Historical revisionists have gone to work on Cnut and now believe that he went to the seaside knowing full well he would fail and that he was actually trying to demonstrate to his awestruck followers the limits of his power. Our current leaders look to be sincere. Yet they have taken decisions for expedience sake and are now looking to hold back the tides of economic consequence with sheer willpower. Expect some very wet and ruined shoes in Washington and Brussels before too long.

Do Republicans want a freedom loving candidate for the White House or not?

In referring to beauty contests, John Maynard Keynes once famously said: “It is not a case of choosing those which, to the best of one’s judgment, are really the prettiest, nor even those which average opinion genuinely thinks the prettiest. We have reached the third degree where we devote our intelligences to anticipating what average opinion expects the average opinion to be.”

Ron Paul might not agree with much that Keynes wrote but, applying this insight to his presidential election bid, he might well manage a wry smile of agreement.

Congressman Paul’s liberal views on social issues and non interventionist foreign policy endear him to many left leaning Democrats just as much as his fiscally conservative government- slashing does to conservative Republicans.

He is often the Republican most liked by Democrats, and he polls well among independents. Usually, one would imagine that that would be great news if you’re aiming for the White House.

Yet the man described by an acquaintance of mine as “a crazy nutjob with very extreme financial views,” just can’t catch a break.

This weekend saw the Iowa poll of Republican presidential contenders for 2012. Paul finished second after Michele Bachmann — 28 percent to her 29 percent.

That notwithstanding, on Monday morning Fox News was running items on the GOP’s “Big Three” which included Bachmann, Mitt Romney (who polled three percent in Iowa having not campaigned) and Rick Perry (who polled 0% having not entered the race until after the poll).

Ron Paul, the man who came second, didn’t make Fox’s Big Three.

This matters. During his 2008 run for the Republican nomination Paul broke fundraising records, most of it from individuals. He put together the sort of committed activist network which helped Barack Obama to the White House, and he connected with people who are typically unreceptive to the Republican party.

Yet he was again ignored by the media — Fox News on one occasion inviting all GOP candidates except Paul to take part in a debate.

And, as with Keynes’ beauty contest, the perception that he can’t win, created in large part by the media, becomes self fulfilling. Electors regard him as a wasted vote and switch to the “mainstream” candidates.

In my view, this is America’s loss. Both liberals and conservatives in America claim to love freedom but often they only love a little bit of it.

Liberals support individual freedom over what to do with one’s body, while placing ever greater government claims over the individual’s pay slip. Conservatives, on the other hand, want freedom for the individual to do what he or she wants economically but seek government limits on the social freedoms of others.

Liberals want a woman’s right to choose and big government. Conservatives want a Constitutional ban on gay marriage, and they want small government.

Neither side seems to realise the inherent contradictions in their positions. If maximization of freedom is your guiding maxim then economic and personal freedom are indivisible, and to deny one is to deny the other.

Ron Paul, by contrast, is utterly consistent. He doesn’t want government to interfere in how you dispose of your payslip or your bodily fluids.

The Texan obstetrician is the only consistent candidate in the campaign. Freezing him out of the media will leave the race worse off.

This article originally appeared at The Commentator

London rioters are the pampered children of the welfare state

A bit more of this please

For the last two nights, like many other Londoners, I have stayed up late watching clashes outside my window between Police and rioters. After seeing the burned out flats of Tottenham I wanted to make sure I could go to sleep safely.

What I saw, a Police car being trashed and a baton charge on Sunday and fighting again last night, was rather subdued by the standards of elsewhere in the capital. Following on from the arson in Tottenham, buildings were burned in Hackney, Croydon and Ealing.

There was always the danger that people on the left would seek to use this unrest as a vehicle for their own pet causes. Ken Livingstone proved again just what an irrelevant lump of 80’s nostalgia he is by blaming, not the current government, but that of Margaret Thatcher. Others have consulted their A level Sociology textbooks and pinned the blame on the rioting youths’ “disenfranchisement” or “deprivation”.

None of this third rate Marxist rubbish holds up if you leave the lecture hall and come face to face with the rioters. It is almost impossible to think of a way these people are disenfranchised. Each and every one of them has the franchise. When they reach 18 they will have the right to vote. They may choose not to use it, but that’s up to them.

Neither did the rioters I saw look particularly deprived. The closest thing they have to a uniform are Franklin & Marshall jumpers which retail for about £60 each. Most of them were filming their rampages on iPhones which can retail at over £400.

The poverty these kids have is moral, not financial. Many of them come from broken families which derive most of their support from the state. Neither they, nor their parents, have ever had to face consequences or take responsibility in their lives. If a girl gets pregnant the state pays. If they’d rather pose about like a gangster than get a job, the state pays. And if they commit a crime state punishment is often a joke. So, they behave as they please.

It is true that they have no hope or aspiration but this is not a question of “exclusion”. They are forced by law to attend state schools.

White, black or whatever else, it is because many of them come from a culture which places no value on education. They would rather emulate some dim witted “music” star than knuckle down to school work. This accounts for much of their poor educational performance which adversely affects their prospects later in life.

And why should they value education and hard work? People who are used to having money thrown at them by the state have seen that you can be rewarded for doing nothing.

Happily, the sociological nonsense has been less widespread than it could have been and than it once would have been.

Tottenham MP David Lammy’s reaction was solid and unspectacular but after the disgusting response of the late, unlamented former Tottenham MP Bernie Grant after the brutal murder of PC Keith Blakelock (“What the police got was a bloody good hiding” he crowed after the policeman had had his head hacked off by a mob during 1985’s riots in Broadwater Farm) we have come some distance.

Even Diane Abbot broke the habit of a lifetime this morning by saying something sensible and backing curfews.

Curfews should be an obvious start. Beyond that, the police should be more proactive, seeking to hit and disperse the rioters — take the fight to them. They should be looking at a range of tools from water cannons to tear gas to rubber bullets. And this is a perfectly liberal response, if you know what true liberalism is about.

The first governments arose out of the need for mutual defence. Over time, particularly in the last century, governments have taken on more and more roles. The state now tells you how often to exercise and spies on your bin bags.

But whether you agree with the state’s new functions or not, it cannot be denied that one of its core functions, before anything else, remains the protection of the people from domestic and foreign enemies. If the state cannot do that then it is well and truly failing.

Even a small state can do this. All but the most fervent of anarcho-capitalist should agree that this protection is the one core duty of the state above all others. There is no reason why a strong government must also be a big government.

One of the defining characteristics of the modern state is its monopoly on violence. It is now time to assert that monopoly. The government needs to act, it needs to act hard, and it needs to act now.

This article originally appeared at The Commentator

Riotballs

A woman in Croydon has to jump from a burning building. Its society’s fault apparently

In fairness figures on the political left have been resiting the temptation to try and make out that the riots in London, which claimed their first life today, are anything more than rancid criminality. However, the loonier lefties, who in their desperate search for allies have yet to encounter anyone giving off a moral stench so gut turning they weren’t able to stand it, have seen in these feral scum noble, oppressed harbingers of the proletarian rising. Here’s some examples from a couple of the nuts I came across in my undergrad days…

Sean Rillo Raczka has been tweeting prolifically…

“People have lost their homes. It’s tragic. The government is putting many many more on the streets though. People won’t accept this #riots” – Today

“I can see increased stop and search, violent policing and the deployment of water cannons coming from all this, not the justice that we need”

– Today

“Inevitably this chaos will lead to further victimisation of poor young people, and even worse militarised & political policing.” – Today

“Govt systematically disenfranchises young people, giving them no hope or education. There is endemic racism. I wonder why there are riots?” – Sunday

A friend has posted on his wall…

“COMRADES… REAL RΞ√φƱϮỊΘƝÅRỊΞS… WE NEED TO GET ON THE STREETS TOMORROW. YOUNG PEOPLE… FORGET THE LOOTING, IT’S A TRAP!!! TARGET GOVERNMENT BUILDINGS, POLICE STATIONS, BANKS, BETTING OFFICES… IT’S TIME TO MAKE A STAND… THIS IS IT.

YOU ARE… MALCOM X, JOHN LENNON, CHE GUEVARA, MICHAEL JACKSON, NANNY MAROON, TUPAC, ANGELA DAVIS, JESUS, LAURYN HILL! ♥”

Ordinarily you’d take this for a joke…

Elly Badcock, previously mentioned here, has been a fountain of revolutionary fervour in Facebook

“just got back from tottenham. scary stuff. the anger pouring out from a marginalised community against a corrupt police force is something to be reckoned with” – Sunday

“The bullet lodged in Tottenham PC’s radio is apparently police-issue. Looks like that set-up fell through, then. Fucking murdering bastards.” – Sunday

“This from Jo Gough who was around Hackney and Whitechapel last night: “my experience of wandering around: people are targetting corporate shops- overpriced goods and exploit their workers, and banks- made this crisis. A mixture of all ages and people, no violence against eachother. We have to understand people can’t carrying on living with no money and no future prospects apart from the govnt saying we will become poorer. The system is way more violent than anything happening on the streets” – Today

In the real world here are Raczka’s and Badcock’s downtrodded heroes striking a blow for freedom and justice…

When hate came to town

At quarter past two you could see the Police helicopter swinging wide loops in the sky over Whipps Cross at the far end of Hoe Street from Walthamstow. The grand old shell of Alexandra Palace to the left, the emerging shell of the Olympic Stadium to the right. Straight ahead, along the narrow spur of track, the helicopter and Walthamstow, my home.

Walthamstow Village gets its name from being the little acorn from which Walthamstow grew. It gets its reputation from events such as the Craft Guerillas Market which was being held this Saturday afternoon in the Orford House Social Club, a sprawling, slightly run down building set back from the tree lined road. The club, like all clubs from snooker to Conservative to Miners Welfare, is valiantly kept going in the face indifference for a dwindling band of patrons by one or two fanatically committed people. With its high ceilings, large sash windows and white paint job the place must be a money pit. Out back are the bowling greens, still immaculately manicured and overlooked by modest old houses. In the July sun you could be forgiven for thinking you were in a Britain of the past, a Britain that still cared about places like the Orford Road Social Club.

The people attracted by the craft market did. One seller had her hair pinned and curled like Lana Turner. A baby suit had a retro picture of a spaceman and on the stage was a stall selling lampshades made of old fashioned wallpaper. All of it was ‘crafted’, made by the people selling it who each had a specialty; one did soap, another pottery, another sleep masks. These people weren’t just harking back to the style of the 1940’s but its attitude too, one of make do and mend, of self-reliance from a previous age of austerity, when even Walthamstow could find a place for crown green bowls.

Walking out and down West Avenue the helicopter was buzzing much closer overhead now, perhaps over the junction with Lea Bridge Road? Its tinny drone was pimpled by the sound of an Ice Cream van making its rounds.

I turned left on to St Mary’s Road. It was on this road not long ago that I saw an old woman skittled by a young boy charging along the pavement. “Excuse me!” she complained “Fuck you!” had come the reply through a thick accent. On one side were railway cottages on the other a row of shops turned, rather inexpertly, into flats. Just visible through the faded white wash you could make out the words ‘Fish Bar’.

At the end of the road are some steps which take you up to the crossing by Walthamstow Central station. I could see several Asian guys stood around, arms folded, waiting. The helicopter was closer. Reaching the top of the steps you can see down Selborne Road. On a clear day you can see the twin spires of the Catholic church on Seven Sisters Road or, even further across north London, the green dome of the church next to Waterlow Park.

Today was a vista of one Police van after another punctuated by crowds of loitering Asian kids and bemused shoppers. Looking right the turn towards Chingford was also choked with Police vans. Looking left was a glut of buses cresting the bridge over the railway track trying to turn into the station. The helicopter was almost directly overhead.

I crossed the road to The Goose, once a hotel now a grotty pub which sells grotty beer to customers too wasted on other substances to notice. A cluster of Police were outside paying close attention to a group of about seven men and one woman standing outside where the smoking is usually done. The leader was a stout man in a West Ham shirt, his goatee the only hair on his egg like head. On his wrist was a gay rights bracelet. He was no racist; he was a concerned local resident he said. His claim to be an outraged ingénue could not be repeated by the man and woman (his wife?) next to him who had brought boards with slogans including “TRUE MUSLIMS DON’T PROMOTE MURDER AND HATRED TO THOSE THAT FEED THEM” The rumour had been of a counter protest by the English Defence League. Maybe these few people, all early middle aged, were it?

At 3pm on the button the protest that had provoked the counter protest came round the corner onto Selborne Road. It was 61 members of Muslims Against Crusades who had marched from Leyton tube station. The Police worked hard to keep the two groups apart. A young Asian with a full beard was ushered across the road away from The Goose and to the station side which was full of increasingly excited Asian youths.

This sort of thing is no longer unusual in what was once a bastion of the white working class represented in Parliament by Clement Atlee and made famous by E17. Back in 2006 then Home Secretary John Reid was confronted in Leyton by a man demanding to know “How dare you come to a Muslim area?” This last week reports came of stickers going up in Leyton declaring “You are now entering a Shariah controlled zone” where there would be ‘no gambling’, ‘no music or concerts’, ‘no porn or prostitution’, ‘no drugs or smoking’ and ‘no alcohol’ and threatening “Islamic rules enforced”. One of the men who put these posters up, a white convert with a striking ginger beard named Jamaal Uddin, was on the march.

As bad as this is there is a still darker side. In 2005 Abdul Muhid was arrested for giving a speech at the end of the market calling for the killing of British soldiers and homosexuals. In 2006 two men from Walthamstow were among three later found guilty of plotting to blow up transatlantic flights. I was in the barbers on Forest Road the weekend after those arrests and the barber said to a waiting regular “Yeah, I knew ‘em. Nice lads, used to come in ‘ere”. It was odd to realize you lived so near people who were working to kill you.

Now, this Saturday afternoon, the two groups were now within shouting distance of each other, a fact they made full use of. “Muhammad was a pedophile!” chanted the man with the boards pleading for true Islam to win the day. “Keep St George in my heart keep me English” they sang, chanting “Scum, scum, scum” while they waited for one of their number to strike up the next song.

The response from the more numerous MAC protestors with the aid of a loudspeaker came back; “Shariah for UK” and “What do we want?” “Shariah!” “When do we want it?” “Now!”

As MAC passed the pub the crowd of Asian youths on the station side, which was about twice as big as the demonstration itself, began cheering wildly. Unlike the protestors who, this warm summer afternoon in east London were dressed in the long robes of medieval Arabia, the supportive youths were kitted out in all manner of designer gear. Apparently the hated infidels produce some natty threads.

“My old man fought a war for you to have freedom of speech” shouted the egg headed man, seemingly unaware that as rancid as the views expressed by MAC are his dad fought for their right to say it.

The response from the youths on the station side was to chant “EDL scum” to which egg head’s friend replied “Who’s EDL? We live here!”

And then the flash point was passed. It doesn’t take 61 people very long to file past seven people and they were led on past Tescos into the town square.

Walthamstow town square lies between the bus station, the market and the Mall. Often it hosts a farmers market or a French produce market. There is usually some entertainment, frequently the same Peruvian pan pipe players I heard coincidentally on consecutive weekends in Sheffield and Harlow playing El Condor Pasa both times. There is a large screen, erected at great expense by the council, which, today, was showing golf.

There are usually competing tables of left wingers, you can take your pick of Socialist Worker or Socialist Alliance but never the twain shall meet. They often protest about the west’s wars of aggression but they stayed home today. There was a small protest next to the Nat West by the McGuffin’s, the local cinephiles trying the get the cinema reopened, about ten members of the Apostolic Church singing hymns under a small marquee and a fun fair with a merry go round which was doing good business with the excited children of the afternoon shoppers.

Then MAC came advancing over the small carefully landscaped hills. The reaction reminded me of Jaws, when the boy gets munched in front of a crowded beach. People who had been watching their children play or queue for the fun fair shouted their kid’s names, stretched out their hands, and seized them. As the merry go round came to a stop a young girl looked with fear at the black clad, flag waving, chanting mob coming towards her before her mother scooped her up.

The problem was as much the crowd of teenage hangers on who had gathered round the hardcore MAC crowd. They were the same very western dressed ones from opposite the pub, I recognized one guy in a horrifically tacky shirt which had Manchester United’s badge on it in sequins. The trimmed grass of the town square often has people sitting, chatting, sunbathing or sobering up especially on a warm day like this. With the approach of the crowd, fired up by their exchange with the drinkers in The Goose, bags were packed, shoes slipped on and retreats beat. The Police seemed to struggle to keep up.

A steward brought MAC to a halt in front of the TV screen and the hangers on fanned out around them. A speech began but attention flashed back to the bus station where a group of Asian kids had decided to run back to the pub to confront the drinkers. The Police stopped them and a scuffle followed. People trying to get their shopping from the market or Mall to the bus station were scared out of their wits. As the fighting died down as quickly as it started one of the Police said that one of the Asians has been smoking a spliff and another on a march who’s ultimate aim is supposed to be modest behavior began shouting “Fuck your mum” at the Police. I wondered how long any of these kids would last under shariah law.

The hangers on drifted back towards MAC where a very immodestly dressed girl in a tight, short green dress came over and said hello to some of them she appeared to know and stayed chatting. Some others jumped on the now closed merry go round and started kicking it. The promised enforcement of Islamic rules seemed rather arbitrary.

The speeches continued over by the big screen but were drowned out by the golf commentary. The first speaker, another white convert, gave a long, rambling speech which jumped without coherence from Iraq, to MP’s expenses, to the credit crunch, to the naked women who he apparently encountered on every street corner. His tone was more consistent than his content, resolutely hysterical, so much so that his voice gave way under the pressure and cracked, breaking into a high pitched squeak as though he was reverting to pre adolescence.

I scanned the signs held by the MAC protestors behind him; ‘Islamic Emirates for Britain’, ‘Democracy = Hypocrisy’, ‘Muslims Rise, Defend Islam’, ‘Establish Islamic Emirates’ and ‘Shariah: Solution to all problems’. I wondered if the man (and they were all men) holding that had ever heard of the hell of life under the Taliban? Another sign read ‘Jihad Against Christian Extremists’. A few feet away the members of the Apostolic Church, surrounded by febrile youths, held each other’s hands and prayed.

Then came the main event, a speech by self-styled bogeyman Anjem Choudary. He was mercifully brief in his remarks, he simply repeated what the previous speaker had said and what the speaker after him would say; Britain is, apparently, drowning under a deluge of drink, drugs, porn, gambling, prostitution, Hollywood movies, fashion and cosmetics. It was a rambling list of things he didn’t like the presence of which apparently means that we are worse off than Iran or Afghanistan under the Taliban. Indeed, public enemy number one was distinctly underwhelming. The only impressive thing about Choudary was his insistence on wearing such heavy clothing on a warm day.

The hangers on seemed to have found the speeches as dull as I did. As soon as Choudary had finished a group broke away back up to the station. It was 3:39. By the time I got up there a couple of Asian youths were being arrested. I asked a Policeman next to me how he felt it had all gone. “Peaceful” he replied as over his shoulder I saw a group of the hangers on abusing a lone cyclist.

I wandered back down to the town square toying with the idea of heading home. When I heard the same old prattle about drink and porn, which MAC seems as obsessed with as the most onanistic teenage boy, that settled it. But as I turned to leave I saw two of the younger MAC members, looking like something out of Star Wars in their flowing black robes, talking with two white guys and a girl in jeans and a headscarf. I edged over to listen.

The MAC guys were playing the same riffs, porn and its alleged ubiquity cropping up again. The younger of the two was spitting out words at machine gun speed and clearly not bothering to vet them mentally. The familiar words, corruption, prostitution, porn, drink, drugs, crime, Iraq, all fell out pell mell. But no attempt was made to explain how any one of these things was related another. Like Choudary, they simply assumed there was no problem for which Islam was not the solution, it was their silver bullet. As a result they see no need to think through any of it. Say the word Islam three times and click your heels and you’ll be in the Promised Land. But you might get stoned to death when you get there for wearing ruby slippers.

It was all less obvious to the listener. Every now and then he tried to ask the younger MAC man a question only to be told “You’re not letting me speak”, pretty rich coming from the kid whose inchoate ramblings had taken up 80% of the ‘conversation’. He launched back into another riff on the evils of western civilization then cited approvingly the NHS which, as his listener pointed out, was a product of the very western culture he claimed to hate. The younger MAC kid paused, appeared to consider this point, then said “You’re not letting me speak…” and launched back into something about pornography.

That was it for the guy who told his two friends he had had enough and wanted to leave. The younger man again complained “You’re not letting me speak” which was too much even for his older MAC colleague who told him to shut up. As the three walked away the girl in the headscarf was told that hanging out with two westerners was Haraam. She left with them anyway. The two MAC guys were left alone and the older one turned to his younger mate, exasperated, and said “What are you doing?” The other demonstrators were kneeling below the golf coverage and praying towards Leytonstone.

This is what happens when you indulge scumbags


Take that, bus!

Tottenham, just a couple of miles from me, is in flames again. The people of N17 are following in the famous footsteps of the Broadwater Farm rioters of 1985 and smashing up the area they live in to “protest” about the shooting of Mark Duggan by the Police at nearby Tottenham Hale tube station on Thursday.

But its always a little difficult to take these riots seriously as some expression of outrage on the part of the oppressed. Like the equally dumb Rodney King riots in Los Angeles in 1992, a great many of the outraged and oppressed are registering their anger with an apparently racist/capitalist/patriarchal Police force by grabbing some flat screen TV’s and Blu Ray players.

The fact is that some people, like those rioting by Bruce Grove train station, are just scum who like a row. When the student protests turned violent a few months ago I was asked by an angry student “Do you think people do this for fun?” Yes, actually, I do. The blokes I see scrapping at football matches don’t, despite the valiant efforts of underemployed sociology lecturers to convince you otherwise, do it for some grand political or social reason. They do it because some blokes find having a scrap exciting. And the scum rioting in Tottenham couldn’t give a monkeys about Mark Duggan, they just want a row. And some free electrical goods.

These scum don’t need much encouragement but it has never helped that there have always been left wingers willing to see in this mindless destruction the stirrings of a revolutionary proletariat. There will be, in the days to come, people telling you that all this is a reaction to ‘social exclusion’ or poverty. And this matters because these people have an influence on policy out of all proportion to the value of what they have to contribute. Seeing the wrong problem they have for years peddled the wrong solutions. Less active Policing and a bit more taxpayers cash will, apparently, solve the problem.

And these lefties, along with the various self appointed ‘community leaders’, will come to blame the fact the area is a dump which ‘socially excludes’ its residents on some failure of the market economy or a government which doesn’t care about them.

Tottenham won’t be a dump for either of these reasons. It will be a dump and remain a dump because of the rioting scumbags of Tottenham. The people who, in the name of ‘Justice’, and IPCC actually started an investigation before Mark Duggan’s body was cold, have smashed their own shops and amenities and burned their own neighbours out are the ones who will be to blame for the fact they have no shops or amenities. The same thing happened in areas like Watts and Detroit after the riots there in the 1960’s. The residents smashed the place up and then complained that they lived in a ruin.

Lets not dignify the destructive morons of Tottenham with some concocted socio-economic rationalisation. This just encourages people who need little encouragement and by distorting policy makes the situation worse. But let them endure their punishment. When they look at the dump they live in remind them, when they cast the blame on capitalism or politics, that its a dump because they smashed it up. To wallow in their results of their own stupidity should be their reward. The tragedy is that victims of the scum are not ‘the Pigs’, ‘the Man’, ‘the Feds’ or whatever imported American term they choose to use. The victims will be their innocent neighbours.