Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Thoughts from Galicia, Spain, 23.1.18

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable. 
Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in Spain. 

If you've arrived here because of an interest in Galicia or Pontevedra, see my web page here.

  • So, Sr P has taken the risk and flown to Denmark from his hideaway in Brussells. This was ahead of his nomination yesterday as Catalan President (in absentia). The next development? An episode of the Keystone Cops as the Spanish government pursues his arrest?
  • More on that Woody Allen statue in Oviedo.
  • Now that I know that a SJW is a Social Justice Warrior, I'm sensisited to their mad doings. Here's one relating to the Spanish word negro, or 'black'.
  • Given the wide autonomy of Spain's regions, I guess it shouldn't be a surprise there's no national pension rates They differ between the 17 communities. And nor was it much of a surprise to read that Galician widows get the lowest pension, at only €500 a month. Say €125 a week. But I'm not sure this would be very low by British standards. At least as regards the basic pension. Or 'universal credit' as it might be these days.
  • One view of the Congress - The dysfunctional three-headed monster that is the lunatic Trump, establishment Republicans, and Democrats. 
  • From the same commentator: How Congress operates - The parties fight publicly about something that's either irrelevant, inaccurate, or far from a resolution. Meanwhile, a quiet consensus pushes forward a handful of unsexy but important bills and amendments, usually economic or deregulatory in nature. Those issues tend to be the ones that demand, but rarely get, the most attention. Currently this comment applies to a statute which will make things easier for those fine people, the too-big-to-fail banks.
The World
  • Click here for The Guardian's take on the Davos jamboree and malfunctioning modern capitalism. Taster:  The political and economic crisis requires the balance to be restored between the nation-state and an open global economy. The rich need to drop the idea that they are a class apart and take a broader interest in society. Otherwise, growing inequality will see more people living in fear and fewer in hope. That would be a disaster for democracy and see Trumpism become a permanent feature of the political landscape. Hard to disagree. I guess Fart is going there as part of his strategy of draining swamps. . . 
The Culture Wars
  • First a nice, throwaway quote: The cortado-quaffing, iPhone-toting social justice warrior who shares memes about Facebook tyranny via Facebook.
  • And a second one: SJWs: Disaffected millennials, ruthlessly turbocharged by the recruiting power of social media.
  • And here's a few points from the London editor of Breibart, James Delingpole, on that interview. He's certainly of the Right but doesn't appear to be a fascist. In his own eyes at least.
- It demonstrated how quickly the SJW narrative crumbles when exposed to a dose of polite but unflagging reason.
- Lots of people on the non-SJW side of the argument have taken heart from this because they’ve suddenly been shown how to win: don’t lose your cool; never surrender to any of the enemy’s terms — which are false terms; never be fooled by the enemy’s smears, straw men, or haughtiness into believing that they hold the moral high ground over you — because they don’t; and win by exposing the weakness and contradictions of their arguments.
- Now Channel 4 and the Guardian are helping Cathy Newman lose her argument all over again, by pointing up the double standards of feminists and their pretense that all they want is “equality.” On the one hand they claim that all they want is a level playing field, where women can compete on equal terms with men and everyone is treated fairly; on the other, as soon as the going gets tough, they want special rules to be applied because they’re more fragile and men are horrid and consequently as frail women they need special protection. Equality? Pull the other one. It’s got bells on it.
  • Below is another right-of-centre-but-not-extremist view of the interview; Opening sentence: If you want to know what the culture war is about, look no farther than the spectacular eruption in Britain during the past few days over Jordan Peterson, a psychology professor at the University of Toronto.
More locally . . . 

  • A headline you don't often see, about a kids' football match in Ribadumia: Team manager nuts the referee.
  • I don't know whether this happens in other parts of Spain but the recent feast-day of San Sebastián was celebrated here with dinners of lacón con grelos. Or shoulder of ham with turnip tops. Plus the usual 2 kilos of Galician potatoes per plate, I suspect. As here:-

  • More fatuous ad themes from British TV:-
- Defy the ordinary - A car
- Stay fabulous – A hotel chain
- Powering you – A breakfast cereal
- We are family – Chip/French fry makers
- Bring out the bold – A mouthwash

Today's Cartoon


Defenders of free speech have a new prophet: Melanie Phillips

A controversial Channel 4 interview highlighted how zealots want to crush rational thinking

If you want to know what the culture war is about, look no farther than the spectacular eruption in Britain during the past few days over Jordan Peterson, a psychology professor at the University of Toronto.

Peterson came to prominence in 2016 when he refused to adhere to a proposed new Canadian anti-discrimination law, under which it was claimed that personal pronouns would have to be replaced by preferred transgender activist terms such as ze or zir.

The issue for him was liberty. No one, he declared, had the right to dictate what language people should use.

For this stand, he was compared to Hitler, had his lectures drowned out by white noise and was forced to rely on crowdfunding after his grant application to continue his academic research was rejected. He said he feared for his life.

Last week, Peterson was in London to promote his new book, 12 Rules for Life, and was interviewed by Cathy Newman on Channel 4 News.

Newman’s questions had an agenda: that Peterson was denying certain unquestionable social decencies. So deeply rooted was this belief that she simply couldn’t process the meaning of what he was saying, nor realise she was mis-stating what he had just said, nor grasp that she was repeatedly moving the goalposts in a series of non sequiturs.

She believed, for example, that the gender pay gap was unarguably the result of male domination and the exclusion of women. Patiently, Peterson pointed out that, although some prejudice existed, research revealed many other reasons for this gap.

So he thought it didn’t matter, Newman asked, if women didn’t get to the top? Politely, Peterson pointed out he wasn’t saying that at all.

How could he believe, she went on, that his right to free speech trumped a transgendered person’s right not to be offended? “Because”, he replied, “in order to be able to think, you have to risk being offensive. You are certainly willing to risk offending me in the pursuit of truth. Why should you have the right to do that? It’s been rather uncomfortable. More power to you!” At which “gotcha!” point she was rendered speechless.

The encounter was a notable demonstration of rationality versus cognitive dissonance, of an open mind versus one that was sealed shut. It cast Channel 4’s editorial standards in an extremely poor light.

The station’s response was to turn Newman into a victim. Her editor Ben de Pear said such was the scale of the online “threats and abuse” she had received that he had “called in security experts to carry out an analysis”.

Clearly, all such abuse is wrong. Newman reportedly was the target of obscene messages and a pornographic mock-up on Instagram. That’s vile.

Much of the reaction, though, consisted merely of fierce criticism of her perceived hostility and bias, while some of her supporters targeted Peterson for violent abuse.

Unfortunately, threats and vilification on social media are now routine for anyone putting their head above the parapet. It is typical of ideologues, however, that they inflate such victimisation as a form of emotional blackmail to silence criticism.

The issue, however, is not Newman but what she represents: the culturally dominant dogma that certain ideological beliefs are indisputably true. When the evidence shows they are wrong it is therefore the evidence, not the beliefs, which must be knocked down.

For Peterson, who reportedly holds many liberal views, the concern is not over transgender issues or pay gaps or any of today’s causes. It is rather that truth and freedom are now under assault from neo-Marxism, which defines everything in terms of relativism and power and which has taken over the universities.

The threat Peterson perceives is not just to political but cognitive freedom. His own use of words is so precise because, as he believes, words are integral to our ability to think and thus our freedom to make sense of the world. That’s the way we arrive at the truth as we see it, and for him truth trumps everything else.

That’s why he said he would go on hunger strike in prison rather than submit to being told what personal pronouns he must use.

Peterson has now become a cult figure among young men. Partly, this is because he champions them against oppressive militant feminism. He entrances them by demonstrating how intelligence and reason can overturn the dominance of emotion and feelings which are holding public discourse hostage.

His appeal, though, is surely rather deeper still. He has become a kind of secular prophet who, in an era of lobotomised conformism, thinks out of the box. His restless and creative intelligence uses the story of Pinocchio or fables about dragons to deliver his core message to the young: that they’re not who they could be, what’s holding them back and how they could be so much better than they are.
In particular, he analyses the fear that drives so many and advises how to rise above it. Fear, however, is not just the weapon used by the bullies of the culture war against their victims; it haunts the bullies too.

What terrifies them so much? The evidence that their beliefs are worthless. That’s why they try to silence Peterson, as so many others. Which makes his message as ironic as it is overwhelmingly vital.


Anthea said...

On the vexed question of the use of the word “negro”, we were watching a French tv series the other day and the police referred to a “person of colour” (is that a socially acceptable term) as “un black”. Is thatvpolitically correct terminologybin France? whatvdonthe SJWs think about it?

Colin Davies said...

I think it's just that, from thwir narrow, adolescent US-centric perspective, they can't get round the existence of the word 'negro'

Colin Davies said...

Yes, i think it is 'person of colour'. This year.