A daily blog on the thrills, spills, and frequent absurdities of the world's one and only 'non-imperial empire' - as Barroso himself called it - the European Union.

Anything to say? Contact me at europeandisunion@yahoo.co.uk

Friday, 17 February 2012

Falklands Are a 'Colony?' Tell that to the Falklanders

The Falkland Islanders don't want to be sold out by their fellow citizens.

Much has been made of Sean Penn's latest verbal escapade, and there's not much more that can be done, other than mentioning this. I just thought I'd bring you all some good news from the South Atlantic that flies in the face of Argentina's pretensions: the people of the Falkland Islands have held a voluntary procession along the islands' main thoroughfare, waving British flags and calling for their UN-enshrined right to self-determination to be respected, by both world leaders and right-on celebrities alike. One local, noting that the inhabitants donated several pounds per person to the Haiti earthquake fund which Sean Penn was deeply involved with, deliciously told told the American celebrity - known for his world around the world - that 'we have rights too.'

British people were the first to permanently settle on the islands, and, barring brief interludes of abandonment or conquest, the islands have been British for all of their recorded history. Aside from some in a small community of Chilean citizens (who held a similar demonstration to declare their support of the UK), almost all of the residents have British passports and full British citizenship. Their simple gesture proves at a stroke not only that the usual accusations of colonialism and jingoism are wrong, but that to call for their handing over to Argentina is to set yourself against the democratic will of the people.

Monday, 6 February 2012

The Prolier-Than-Thou Cult of Celebrity

Wear a picture of a smoking mass-murderer? You're 'hip'! Wear a picture of a Tory? Crossing the line there, pal...

Am I the only one who thinks that an odd assemblage of music personalities falling over themselves to be prolier-than-thou actually rather funny? First we had a long list of self-appointed men of the people publically forbidding Republican presidential candidates from using their lyrics, following on from our own home-grown storm in a teacup when UKIP leader Nigel Farage attempted to use Tubthumping by British alternative rock (and anarchist) band Chumbawamba. The band reacted with 'total and absolute outrage and horror,' helpfully adding 'Nigel Farage is an arse' by way of justification. Oh, and Morrisey banning David Cameron from liking his music. Now, we have Noel Gallagher explaining comments he made about Lady Thatcher, which, he claims, were misconstrued.

Originally, media reports had him praising her, stating that 'under Thatcher there was a work ethic,' and it was better culturally, to boot. He even seemed to take a dig at modern celebrity culture, noting that under Labour and the 'coalition thing' all people want to go is get on television. Sadly, for those right-wing celebrity watchers who thought someone from the music industry was finally coming out of the world's deepest closet, it was not to be: he later claimed that his comments were misinterpreted, saying on his blog that 'all great working class art...came about in spite of that woman and her warped right-wing views, not because of it.'

In doing so, he's obeying two rules that prominent critics of Thatcher have to adhere to: one, they have to be tremendously rich. Three years ago, he was worth $27,000,000 (£14,000,000), which definitely puts him in the '1%' category. He then added 'if anyone's reading this - particularly from the Inland Revenue - I haven't got fourteen million quid in the bank...not in cash, anyway.' Not what I'd call a man of the people, but he certainly fits in well with New Labour. Two, his experience of the Thatcher years is limited. Unlike most of her critics, he was actually alive at the time, which I guess is something - but I doubt he was a prominent conniseur of working-class art at the time. Examining the finer points of proletarian expression is not that high on the list of priorities for a twelve-year-old, just below buying a skateboard and climbing trees. Not to mention finding a new source of milk after that warped right-wing witch took it all.

Still, Noel Gallagher's personal views aren't important. This is: if the left is as committed to stamping out societal inequality as it claims, so much so that it has put numerous examples of 'affirmative action' legislation in place to disadvantage white males, why does it not tackle what is perhaps the most glaringly public inequality of all - the total lack of right-wing celebrities? About sixty per cent of the European population is right-wing, according to election results (look at the domination of the EPP, bearing in mind that EFD, and ECR are also right-wing affiliations). Almost all the US electorate is right-wing by British standards. So why is there no celebrity worth mentioning who espouses anything to the right of Nick Clegg? There's the occasional waft of right-wing rhetoric from some virtual non-entity (as proven by the fact that you can't guess who that could possibly be), but the number of radical left-wing ideologies in comparison to moderates and right-wingers is hypocritically disproportionate.

Believe it or not, this is a serious problem. The chief argument for affirmative action is to represent society accurately. How accurately, then, can celebrities - doubtless the biggest influence on most people's opinions today - reflect society if one half of it is excluded, and the other is represented by its most radical elements, such as Michael 'capitalism is evil' Moore and Sean 'those who criticise Hugo Chavez a dictator should be jailed' Penn?

Friday, 3 February 2012

Report Claims Conservatives Are Less Intelligent Than Liberals

Does not having to read that sign make me a liberal? Picture by Peter Facey.

It’s the oldest trick in the book: to claim that your side is, by definition, more intelligent than the other side. Since time immemorial humans have been lambasting their critics and conquerors as being of somewhat less-than-average intelligence. Now, a group of Canadian academics from Brock University in Ontario have gone one stage further: they’ve had it published in a journal.

A ‘controversial’ report, published in Psychology Science, claims (with a fair few mealy-mouthed caveats) that conservative people tend to have lower IQs than their more liberal counterparts, and then went on to offer an explanation – that people who have an ‘innate’ lack of intelligence gravitate towards authority and order, as they are less capable of managing their own affairs and their own morality. If you approach conservatives from the classic (false) belief that they think all change to be bad, it makes a token degree of sense. But surely there’s enough empirical evidence to prove that all such studies are bunk?

Not only does their claim that left-wingers are more tolerant ring hollow when coupled with insinuatinfg that everyone else is innately thicker - a contradiction wonderfully exemplified by the unintentional self-satire from triumphant left-wingers in the comments section of the Daily Mail - but it fails to take into account some self-evident truths. There are ready wits and gross ignoramuses on both sides of the spectrum. Einstein, one of the greatest minds of all time, exhibited great fondness for socialism, yet some of his most worthy predecessors - virtually all the leading thinkers before 1800 - would have been ultraconservative, by today’s standards. The levels of racism and xenophobia expressed by some of our more esteemed Enlightenment thinkers and early philosophers would land then a hefty fine and a prison sentence, yet they were not stupid - not by any stretch of the imagination. Much of their work frames the modern world. And, if it is determined by innate intelligence, as the report specifically states, how and why can a person’s viewpoint can change over time?

That’s just on an individual scale - on a grand scale such a study makes even less sense. There are five hundred million people in the European Union, two thirds of whom (according to election results and European Parliament blocs) are right-wing. Are two-thirds of the European population mentally stunted? Or, as several of the aforementioned triumphant lefties in the comments stated, ‘tards?’ No. They’re perfectly functioning human beings, thank you very much, and aren’t any less so because their cross on the ballot paper doesn’t square up to that of someone else. Take a look through the comments of the Daily Mail article for the ultimate proof of how the study is wrong: watch, as the people who - it claims - are more tolerant and open-minded turn condescending, spiteful, and bigoted when someone dares voice an alternate opinion.