Saturday, 20 June 2015

Libertarian London - Part 2

All Things English

I continue across the square, with Westminster Abbey to my left. It has not changed in twenty-five years; except that its opening hours are now more convenient for the tourists on whom it depends for its income.

People sometimes ask me why, after the Revolution, we allowed such a symbol of the bad old days to stand, and in such a prominent place too. My usual reply is to quote L.P.Hartley: “The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.”

I take the underpass leading south-west, and turn right, through small streets to the Westminster Arms. All this walking and thinking is thirsty work; I need a beer. The pub is small, dark and crowded. But I manage to find a stool in a relatively quiet corner.

I contemplate the renaissance of the English pub since the Revolution. People, who formerly could not earn enough to afford to go out, now can. With “luxury taxes” like those on alcohol abolished, they can do it surprisingly cheaply too. Our scrapping of drink-driving laws gave village pubs, in particular, a new lease of life. And we reduced alcohol-caused accidents in the process. For, when people are treated as responsible adults, they are more likely to behave as responsible adults. (And if someone did cause a death while driving in an unfit state, the charge could be manslaughter).

We also abolished the smoking ban in pubs. We returned the choice of whether people may smoke in a particular part of a pub to the individual with whom it rightly belongs – the publican.

Other things English have not done so badly, either. English cricket is once again at the pinnacle of the world game. The English breakfast is again seen as what it is, the finest way for any human being to begin any day. And the English common law, which during the Ugly Years had become like a dark, overgrown forest with dangerous predators lurking in it, has been re-planted. We revolutionaries pruned it down to its very roots, and it now flourishes again.

The English language, too, has become even more popular world-wide since the Revolution. It can now, truly, be said to be de wereldtaal.

And there has been a resurgence of traditional English values. To name a few: Individual freedom and independence. The rule of law, and equality before that law. Tolerance, and a sense of justice and fair play. Honour and honesty. Contempt for those that try to take for themselves unearned power or wealth. And, not least, what used to be known as the Protestant work ethic.

The Scots, the Welsh and the Irish, meanwhile, have done their own things. We trade with them in a friendly manner, but none of us interferes in each others’ affairs.

The Libertarians

Refreshed, I cross the road into St. James’s Park, and turn left. At the end, I fork right, towards what is now the Buckingham Palace Hotel. It’s run by some of the younger Windsors, too. It’s a very chic place to stay.

I find a park bench, and think again about the past. Since the late ‘80s, I had been a member of a loose and disparate movement of radicals. We had generally answered to the name “libertarians”; though I myself didn’t much like the word, preferring to think of myself as a true liberal.

Our philosophy was one of individual freedom. But there were as many different approaches to that philosophy as there were individuals in the movement. We had our anarchists, who wanted to abolish the state altogether. We had our minarchists, who wanted a teensy-weensy little state. We had our idealists, who seemed to think they could create liberty by using the democratic process to take over the state. We had those who were basically Enlightenment conservatives. And we had those who, if they had lived a century or so before, would have been Marxists.

We each did what we did, working towards freedom in our own ways and in those areas in which we were most interested. We met every so often, to listen to the ideas of our most prominent intellectuals and activists. And some of us got pleasantly drunk afterwards.

Right Wing, Left Wing, Down Wing

In the days before we understood the Paradigm War, libertarians had tried hard to work for freedom inside the political system. We had not had much success.

In the ‘80s, the conservatives or Tories, the right wing, had seemed our natural allies. They were, like us, anti-communist – remember communism? Many of them supported a fair degree of economic freedom. And some of them seemed to be quite decent chaps, eh what? But it had eventually become plain that they weren’t really on our side.

For, all conservatives’ thinking was backward looking. That is almost the definition of a conservative. The really nasty ones – their thinking thousands of years out of date – believed that might makes right. So they allowed relative economic freedom, but only so they could build the biggest possible war machine.

The nicest of the conservatives, on the other hand, were only two or three hundred years out of date. They shared our Enlightenment values, and supported economic freedom for its own sake. But conservatives, as we eventually came to see, couldn’t let go of the political paradigm. Even with the best of wills, they couldn’t see past the state to what needed to come next.

So, some of us tried seeking allies on the political left – so-called liberals. After all, most of them were, like us, against aggressive wars, racism, religious intolerance, elitism and abuse of power by officials. Many of them were decent on things like civil liberties and free migration. And they were more open to new ideas than conservatives.

But the left had serious problems as potential allies. They had fallen, almost without exception, for the green agenda and its “humans cause catastrophic global warming” fraud. And they saw inequalities of earnings – even if fully deserved, for example due to better developed skills or greater effort – as a problem to be “rectified”. So they liked to impose harsh taxes, to seize the earnings of those who honestly earned success. Thus, they became enemies of the economic paradigm. (And they did not seem to understand that, in trying to “rectify” one inequality, they were creating a different, and far greater, inequality!)

Some of us had flirted with the UK Independence Party. For many of us could heartily agree with their core belief – the EU was a menace, and had to be escaped from or otherwise gotten rid of. But they weren’t, short of a revolution, going to get power. And, if they did, they would soon become like the conservatives.

That left – apart from a few fringe loonies - our worst enemies, New Labour and the greens. They formed what I liked to call the down wing. They both wanted to destroy any chance of economic prosperity. And they both wanted to destroy our rights and freedoms too.

To summarize: The political bird had three wings. Right-wingers loved the state and its political paradigm. Left-wingers hated the economic paradigm and prosperity. Down-wingers did both.

No, there was no point at all in trying to ally with anyone inside the political system.

The Paradigm Warriors

I had joined the libertarian movement back when the game had been keeping the ideas of freedom alive in a hostile intellectual climate. I had stayed in it through the worst of the Ugly Years. During that time, our task had been to invent, and to evaluate, routes to freedom which might prove achievable. And I was still there when the game changed again, and we became Paradigm Warriors.

Taking the long view, the political paradigm had gradually been losing momentum over the centuries. So, every so often, the politicals had felt the need to start a new ruse, to fool or to cow people into supporting their paradigm. That was why absolute monarchy had given way to constitutional monarchy. That was why we had “democracy”; and also why it was such a sham. That was why we had suffered nationalism – and the wars it spawned.

That was why we had a bloated, unsustainable welfare state, too. If the welfare system was as good as the politicals claimed, it would have eliminated poverty, wouldn’t it? But it hadn’t. No, the true purpose of the welfare state was to try to fool people into believing that the state was on their side.

That was also why the politicals were so damned active. They liked to make themselves the centre of attention. They kept on doing things to us, hoping that we would notice them and fawn on them. They didn’t seem to realize that what they did to us actually made us angry and disgusted.

That was also why they had foisted on us the green scare agenda. The politicals hoped that people would buy into the scares, accept their measures to “save the planet”, and shower thanks and respect on them. But instead, we saw through the ruse to the lies beneath. So we came to feel for those that promoted the green agenda, not the respect they craved, but the contempt and hatred that they deserved as fraudsters.

The politicals had come up with ruse after ruse. But they had started to run out of workable ruses. Forward-thinking people had begun to see that the political system was unsustainable; that the state was out of date. And that we might be able to hasten its demise by joining the Paradigm War, on the side of the economic paradigm.

So, as Paradigm Warriors, our job had been threefold. First, to kick the intellectual foundations out from under the political paradigm. Second, to explicate the economic paradigm. And third, to sell it to the many who were – most of them unknowingly – desperate for it.

For, if good people were offered a real choice between the two, deciding between the economic and political paradigms was a no-brainer. Only the corrupt, lazy, aggressive and deceitful – in other words, common criminals and the political class – would choose the political paradigm.

Community? What Community?

One major difference between the two paradigms was that the economic paradigm is bottom-up. In the economic paradigm, individuals simply associate, work and trade together, and then disassociate. There is no need for people to feel a collective identity, beyond the team with whom they are working for the time being.

The political paradigm, on the other hand, was by its nature top-down. So it required people to feel a permanent collective identity; to feel a part of the state. The politicals, I had noticed, now referred to their state as “the community”. The reason, I presumed, was to try to give us a warm feeling of membership in their political system and their state.

But that idea of community had broken down. It was only a small step from voting for the party you hated least – or not voting at all – to feeling revulsion for the politicals and for their entire system. How, for instance, could any honest, peaceful human being feel any sense of community with those that had started an immoral war in Iraq, on the basis of nothing but a pack of lies? Or with those that had claimed that human activities caused catastrophic change in the climate, with no proof at all, just a load of non-science, propaganda and appeals to authority?

Any community that I could feel a part of, I used to say, would blackball Blair, Brown and Blunkett, and all the rest of New Labour. And most of those in the other parties, too. I knew I was not alone in this thought.

But I went further. I came to understand that those that supported a political policy – any political policy – that harmed innocent people, were assaulting those innocent people. Using politics against good people, I thought, is like mugging them. No; worse. For it perverts law, the very instrument which should defend us good people against the bad ones, into a weapon with which to persecute us. So I felt for the political muggers and their supporters, not fellowship or community, but anger and hatred. They owe me compensation, I thought; I don’t owe them anything but the contempt they deserve.

With hindsight, it’s obvious that political democracy had always contained the seeds of its own downfall. For politics always led to injustices. And, as the injustices mounted, the victims became angry. Good people lost – as I had - any sense of community with, or obligation to, those that promoted or supported the policies that harmed them. Fellowship is supposed to be a two-way process, we thought. So, unjust politics broke apart the feeling of community, that was necessary to sustain democracy. It destroyed the very sense of “we” that had given the democratic idea its legitimacy in the first place.

A big part of our job as Paradigm Warriors, therefore, had been to bring people to a new and sustainable sense of community. The new community we promoted was the world-wide fellowship of civilized human beings. That is, the community of all those who follow the economic paradigm. And who reject the political paradigm, and all those that use it.

But like the men and women of the Renaissance, we looked not just forward, but back to the best traditions of the past as well. We found it very helpful, that many of the values of our new paradigm were also traditional English values. So English people, along with their new sense of community in civilization, could still feel an Englishness – but an Englishness based on English values and culture, not on politics.

It was also helpful that England – as opposed to Britain - had had no political existence for 300 years. It was, therefore, less of a wrench for English people to adopt the new thinking, than it was for people in many other places.

And that is why the Revolution happened first in England.

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Libertarian London - Part 1

(Neil's Note: This is the first part of a story/political manifesto in three parts, originally written in 2010).

I walk northwards along the Albert Embankment in the September afternoon sun.

It’s 2035. I am over 80 years old now; and I cannot walk quite as fast as I could in my prime. But I can still walk well.

The Ugly Years

I see an empty bench, raised on a small dais like many others along the river bank. I have only been walking ten minutes, but the opportunity of a sit-down is hard to resist.

Across the river, I see an early Victorian monstrosity. It used to be the headquarters, from which the politicals and their hangers-on had ruled over us before the Revolution. I am about level with its south end. And I recall a walk I had done twenty-five years ago, also in September. I had sat, that day, on this very same bench.

2010 had been right in the thick of the Ugly Years. In that time, the politicals and their cohorts had set themselves to control us, to rule over us against our wills. They had made bad laws and intrusive regulations to hem us in, and set traps to catch us out. They had imposed more and more bureaucracy on us in everyday life.

They had schemed to violate our rights and to destroy our civil liberties. They had given police more and more powers. They had spied on us, and recorded our movements. They had treated us as if we were no more than bits of information in a database.

Their financial mis-management had all but destroyed our economy. They had taxed us almost out of existence. They had taken away any chance hard-working people had of ever getting decent pensions. And they had kept on thinking up new excuses to take away even more; green taxes and minimum prices on alcohol, for example.

They had spent the proceeds on things which did us no good whatsoever – like wind farms – and on things that were positively harmful to us, like foreign wars, bloated bureaucracies and spying on us with cameras on every street corner. They had taken away the earnings of productive, honest people, and used them to benefit a corrupt political class and its bureaucratic, enforcement, media and corporate Establishment.

Some of the politicals had been a bit less evil than others, of course. And we had enjoyed, in theory, the protection of the rule of law. But the laws that the politicals had lobbied for and made had become divorced from law. And law had become divorced from its essential purpose, justice.

All this had been accompanied by a torrent of rationalizations. Safety, security, health, recycling, helping the vulnerable, protecting children, fighting terrorism – the politicals never tired of inventing good-sounding excuses for the bad things they did to us.

There was lots of vile propaganda, too. We were a blight and a burden on the planet, we were told. We were bombarded with fear and guilt. Fear of terrorism, fear of overpopulation, fear of runaway climate change. And guilt for being selfish, for damaging our environment, for endangering species, for not doing enough to help the poor and needy, for letting down future generations. Our civilization of economic productivity and trade was not sustainable. We had to change our lifestyles drastically. We had to go “green”, and save the planet. And we had to act NOW!

Of course, anyone with half an ounce of common sense knew, even back then, that this was all hogwash.

Sham Democracy

There seemed to be nothing we could do to get ourselves treated as we deserved, treated as human beings. We had, it was true, something called democracy. It let us vote, every so often, for which political party could claim the limelight for a few years. But the corrupt political parties, and the Establishment that fed off them, had had an unshakeable, vice-like grip on power. And the three main parties, all in on the scam, had ensured that dissenters could never grow powerful enough to challenge them.

A lot of the main parties’ candidates, and so a lot of our so-called representatives, didn’t represent anything other than their own party’s political agenda. They were no more than apparatchiks. So, even if an individual’s vote could have made a difference – which it never had, of course - there was no-one who both had a chance of winning, and was worth voting for.

As a result, for decades many – perhaps even most - of those who voted had done so, not for someone they wanted and respected, but for whichever party they disliked the least. Further, as the politicals’ behaviour towards us became worse and worse, many people began to feel alienated from the system. Those who could began to vote tactically, for whichever party was most likely to unseat the one they hated most. (I recalled, for instance, that I had voted Tory back in ’87, purely from a desire to keep Labour out).

I myself had reached, by the early ‘90s, another level of alienation yet. I had come to think that even a vote for the least of several evils is still a vote for evil. I felt contempt and loathing for politics, and for all the political parties. With only a very few exceptions, I felt no fellowship with, or respect for, anyone that took an active part in politics. So, I became a conscientious non-voter. For, not only would to vote have been to dirty myself in the politicals’ muck. But also, to vote for the party that gained power would have been an act of aggression against all those unjustly harmed by that party’s agenda.

There was worse. The “constitution”, under which we were supposedly governed, had for much of the time allowed the leader of the party in power almost unlimited scope to do to us whatever he or she wanted. Back in the ’70s, Quintin Hogg had called the system an “elective dictatorship”. He had been right.

A few in the Establishment had seemed to have become aware, that many people were unhappy with what was being done to them. So they aired schemes, like changing the mechanics of voting. But that was just fiddling with trivia. For it totally ignored the real problem – that the entire system was organized for the interests of the political class and their hangers-on, and against the interests of good people.

Oh yes, and on top of all that there was the EU, and the bad laws it spewed out like an erupting volcano. And there was the UN and its agendas. And, in particular, the green agenda that fraudulently sought to destroy our civilization, and to force us back to pre-industrial times.

Brian Haw Square

I walk on along the river. I watch commuter boats whizzing under the bridge ahead. Thanks to the march of technology, they go a lot faster now than they used to.

I turn left on to the bridge. It’s packed with tourists. I hear American and Australian accents; but the majority seem to be Chinese, or Indian, or Malaysian.

I pass the monstrosity. It’s a museum now; a monument to the follies, the evils, and the ultimate demise of politics.

There’s a lot of traffic in the square beyond. For single- or two-seat electric cars are the way many Londoners get around today. So I take the underpass – it hadn’t been there in ‘10 – to the patch of green in the middle. It’s now called Brian Haw Square, after the peace protester. But all protests are long gone from this spot.

I sit on a bench, and contemplate the Paradigm War. With hindsight it’s easy to ask, why did it take us so long to understand what we needed to do? For it all seems so obvious now.

There had been, for thousands of years of human history, two paradigms, or ways of doing things – an economic way and a political way. And the Paradigm War between the two had reached its crisis point in the early years of the new century.

The Economic Paradigm

The economic paradigm centres on the human individual. In the economic way of doing things, each individual makes himself or herself valuable to others, trades with others, and receives in return his or her deserved rewards.

To make the economic paradigm work in a society, four fundamentals are necessary: responsibility, justice, law and equality.

Responsibility has two aspects. First, each individual is responsible for, at the minimum, trying to be a productive member of the economy. And second, each individual bears responsibility for the effects of his or her actions on others.

The second fundamental is justice – objective justice, or, as I call it, common-sense justice. The idea is, that each individual deserves to be treated as he or she treats others. Those who behave well – honestly, peacefully, productively – deserve to be treated well. And those that behave badly deserve to be treated correspondingly badly.

The economic paradigm, through justice, gives people a strong incentive to behave well towards others. So, it encourages an environment of peace and prosperity. And it supports freedoms and human rights for all individuals. Only one thing may ever override individuals’ rights and freedoms; and that is objective justice.

The third fundamental is the rule of law. The one and only purpose of law, in the economic paradigm, is to implement justice – common-sense justice. Law must start from the premise that no individual deserves, at least in the round and over the long term, to be treated worse than he or she treats others.

For example, those who do not commit aggressions deserve not to suffer aggressions. Thus, law must defend the peaceful against the violent. Those, who do not rob, deserve not to be robbed. Thus, law must defend property rights. And those, who do not defraud, deserve not to be defrauded. Thus, law must defend the honest against the dishonest. Any other kind of “law” is a perversion.

The final fundamental is equality. This is not, as some had seemed to think, equality of outcome, or even equality of opportunity. For equality, in the economic paradigm, is moral equality. What is right for one to do, is right for another to do under similar circumstances, and vice versa. Another way to describe it is as equality before the law.

Some objected to the economic paradigm, saying that it created winners and losers, rich and poor. But this objection was easy to counter. For those who develop their abilities furthest, and put most in to the economy, deserve all the riches they fairly earn. On the other hand, those that are too lazy or too dishonest even to try to contribute to the economy, do not deserve to be anything but poor.

Some, too, made out that the economic paradigm discriminated against the sick, or the injured, or the disabled. But that, also, was easy to counter. With one word – Insurance!

This is all easy stuff, I think. Even a child should be able to work it out for himself or herself. And yet, for so long before and during the Ugly Years, even the most venerable professors seemed to find it hard to think these simple thoughts, and even harder to articulate them.

The Political Paradigm

By contrast, the political paradigm had centred on the political state, with its long history of violence, war, deceit, intimidation and persecution. In the political way of doing things, those with power simply did whatever they thought they could get away with. And not surprisingly, this included lying, thieving and harming innocent people.

The political paradigm shunned the idea of individual responsibility. It sometimes held common criminals responsible for their crimes, to be sure. But those that lobbied for, made and enforced bad political policies that harmed innocent people, were never held responsible for what they had done to those innocent people.

Indeed, two of the guiding principles of political states had, centuries ago, been sovereign immunity and irresponsibility. Briefly put, “The king can do no wrong.” So, state functionaries were not to be held responsible for the effects of their actions. And they could claim immunity from prosecution for what they did.

Of course, the politicals had tried to make out that this wasn’t so any more. They tried to tell us that officials were as accountable as any of the rest of us. But this was obviously a lie. You only needed to look at one example – the murder by police of Jean Charles de Menezes in ’05, and what followed – to see through it.

As to justice, in the political paradigm, justice meant whatever those in power wanted it to mean. That was why politicals and their authoritarian intellectual cohorts had constantly spewed out nonsense ideas like “social justice” and “environmental justice”.

In the political paradigm, the state could, if the rulers decided they needed to (whether the “need” was real or not), override the rights and freedoms of any individual. That in itself was bad enough. But the state could also be manipulated by the rulers for their own interests and those of their cronies. And they could use their power to hurt those they didn’t like. That was why politics always created and increased injustice. And that was why the Ugly Years had been such hell to live through.

In that time, the rule of law had been supplanted by the rule of bad laws. The law mill had been working for decades at ever increasing speed, cranking out laws. Laws to violate our rights and kill our freedoms, laws to bloat the state and its bureaucracy, laws to re-distribute wealth from the politically poor to the politically rich, laws to impose on us political correctness and faddist agendas. And they took away more and more of our earnings to fuel their nefarious schemes.

As to equality, the political paradigm, like the economic, had had its winners and losers. The winners, the politically rich, enjoyed power, and the unearned wealth and status which flowed from it. And the losers – the politically poor, who included virtually all the honest, peaceful, productive people – were shat upon. The political state in those days, I think, could have been summed up in two words; institutionalized inequality.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Mr. Cheese's Cabinet

Neil's Note: Rather than bombard you with a diatribe about why I (and you) shouldn't vote, I'll give you my anticipations - before the fact - of how the 2010 election would turn out. I don't think I was far off.

This time? I have no idea. Except that all the politicians will be dishonest as usual, and that all human beings in the islands I call Brutesville will be even worse oppressed after than we were before.

This speech was made by Mr. Cheese shortly after his election as British prime minister on 7 May 2010.

You, the British public, asked for change. You have got change. You have elected ME, Wensleydale Cheese – The Big Cheese, as I prefer to be called – as Prime Minister.

My first job is to announce my Cabinet. That is, to name my cronies who will be lying to you, oppressing you and ripping you off for the next five years. So here goes.

My Chancellor of the Exchequer will be Rob Steal. I can safely say that he will be very good at screwing tacks out of you.

My Home Secretary, who will take special delight in criminalizing anything you enjoy, will be Mr. Petty. He will be closely assisted by the Minister for Constant Surveillance, Mr. Pryer.

The Department of Organized Crime (DOC) and the Seriously Fraudulent Office (SFO) will be amalgamated under the shared leadership of Mr. Bent and Mr. Crook.

The Minister of Education, with particular responsibility for Very Bad Verse, will be Mr. Doggerell.

My joint Ministers of Health, who will minister to the health of my joints, will be Dr. Quack and Mrs. Nostrum.

Four Ministers will be responsible for the climate. The Ministers for Cold will be Mr. Snow and Mr. Frost, the Minister for Heat will be Mr. Power, and the Minister for Rain will be Mr. De Wet.

The Minister for Exclamations will be Gordon Bennett.

The Minister for Losing Data will be... what was his name again? He will also be the Minister without Portfolio, having left it in a taxi.

Mr. White will run the Department of Racial Discrimination, and Mr. Mann will be responsible for sexual discrimination.

The Minister for Getting Drunk will be Mr. Tippler.

The Minister for Children’s Games will be Haydn Sikh.

The Minister for Ogling Young Girls will be Mr. Totti.

The Minister for Making You Angry will be Mr. Madden, and the Minister for Complaining will be Mr. Grouse.

Mr. Gaff will be in charge of the Department of Mistakes, and Mr. Balding will head the Department of Hair Loss.

The Minister for Lies, Spin and Propaganda will be Mr. Bull, assisted by Mr. Wittering.

I will announce tomorrow the remaining three Cabinet posts: the Minister of Hypocrisy and Double Standards, the Minister for Hare-brained Schemes and the Minister for Forgetting What He Was Going to Say Next.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Another Political Hymn

(To be sung to the “Rocking Carol”).

If there is to be a “we,”
It must come from you and me.
Not by edicts from King Vulture,
Not by race, or birth, or culture,
But from values that we share;
Peace, abundance and what’s fair.

Friday, 3 April 2015

Neil's Foibles: No. 1 - King Cuss

(Neil's Note: Apparently from nowhere, a brand new short story just came out of 't mill.
The first of many on similar themes, I hope. Enjoy.)

Neil’s Foibles: No. 1

King Cuss

Long ago, so long ago that most people considered writing to be a tremor in the hands, there was a king called Cuss.

And I hope you don’t find it hard to work out why he was called by that name.

Be that as it may; Cuss came from the family of Truss, the first king of his dynasty. Truss had been a despotic ruler, as evidenced by what our good friend Mr Webster says of his name:

“1 a : to secure tightly : b : to arrange for cooking by binding close the wings or legs.”

But Cuss fancied himself as a progressive king. He preferred crooking his people, rather than cooking them. Indeed, a theory posits that today’s phrase “Cusstoms and Excise” owes part of its derivation to his name.

So, Cuss surrounded himself with advisers. By this, he hoped to gain enough knowledge to defeat neighbouring kings, and so to expand his kingdom. One of these advisers was called Muss.

If you ask why every name in this fable so far ends in “uss,” the answer is: nepotism. Surely, there were families in Cuss’s kingdom called Oof and Ug and Crit and Shap and... But Cuss would only accept advisors from his own family, the Uss.

Now Muss was an intellectual, and a dreamer. He convinced Cuss to go on military expeditions. And, at first, the strategy worked. Cuss quickly subjected the kings of Bog and Brownstuff, and excised their people.

Side note: The Brownstuff people, experts tell us, were a great loss to humanity. For they were, at that time, the best linguists on Earth. They had been the first to invent two syllable words! The Vietnamese, so I’m told, haven’t managed that even to this day. Furthermore, the Brownstuffs had a better (e)scatological understanding than any of their rivals.

But then Cuss, on Muss’s advice, attacked Dong, the king of Bel; generally known to those he had conquered as “the man of iron, who sings.” It was a close battle; but Cuss was defeated. So, Cuss had Muss killed.

On the counterstroke, the enlightened Dong, in contrast to normal practice of the time, ordered killed only those men that had actually fought in the war. And he had his warriors Ding most of the women of Cuss’s tribe, particularly the belles. In less than a year, they would no longer be a nation.

Cuss, now in hiding, wanted to justify himself to his people. And he had heard that there was a new skill called “writing,” which could preserve his sayings for days, weeks or more. The inventor was another family member; his name was Suss. So Cuss called Suss to his hide-out.

Cuss said to Suss, “Write me the story of Muss and his wrongdoings.”

Suss replied (and he sang the reply in his tenor voice, as Cuss permitted for those within his family who could sing well):

“Bring me a leaf large and light green,
Bring me a feather with a point,
Bring me bull’s blood, a big tureen;
Soon, I will write what you appoint.”

It was done. There were many arcane procedures before Suss was ready to write; but eventually, all was finished. Then Suss took the feather in his right hand, dipped its point in the blood, and moved it slowly over the surface of the leaf. The pattern it was tracing became clear.

“Marvellous!” exclaimed Cuss. “But what does it mean?”

Suss cleared his throat. “It says:

There once was a young man called Muss,
Played a trick on the great, good King Cuss.
Muss took us to war;
He was wrong, and we’re sore.
But now he’s up his own Anuss.”

At that moment, Dong entered the room, iron sword in hand and followed by several of Cuss’s personal guards who had defected to Dong.

Time out... Our charter does not allow the depiction of violence or killing. So, we’ll be back after these messages from your local station.

Dong turned to Suss, and asked: “What does your writing really say?”

Suss looked into Dong’s face, and saw a friend. So he replied with the truth. “This is what it says:

Here lies Uss Muss,
Murdered by bad king Cuss;
No fuss, no Muss.”

To which Dong replied, singing loudly in the deep bass which fitted his name so well:

“Dong dinged Cuss’s womenfolk,
And soon there’ll be young Ding Dongs!
I won’t put you under yoke,
As long as you have sing songs!”

Fortunately, Suss was an excellent singer, so he was able to pitch correctly the long, slow words which go with the next part of this beautiful melody.

Dong was very pleased with Suss, and appointed him Vice Regent as well as his Master of Writing. And so, even today, there is still a region of Dong’s former empire which goes by the name of Sussex.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

What is a statist?

By the Darn-Poor Rhymer

(After the model of “What is a communist?” by Ebenezer Elliott, the Corn-Law Rhymer)

What is a statist? It’s one that has yearnings
For pogroms, and witch-hunts, and wars, and book-burnings;
While all the time spouting forth lies fear-instilling,
And trashing rights, stealing our earnings, and killing.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

More Limericks by the Darn-Poor Rhymer

There once was a metaphysician

There once was a metaphysician,
Who asked, in time-honoured tradition,
“Is the Universe real?
Or just something I feel?”
He couldn’t prove either position.

In Memory of Nelson Mandela

I remember old Nelson Mandela,
I thought him a rather strange fella.
But the reason, one fears,
Was the twenty-seven years
That he spent locked away in a cellar.

The Poet who could Only Defame

There was once a young man I won’t name;
His verses were totally tame.
He said, “As a poet,
I’m poor – and I know it!
For all I can do is defame.”

Descartes and Ayn Rand

Descartes said, “I think, so I am.”
Ayn Rand said, “Descartes, you’re a sham.
It’s ‘I am, so I’ll think.’”
Such talk drives me to drink;
So, who’s going to buy my next dram?