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Aasof on The Great American Songbook


This week on Facebook: Sometimes a word or a particular set of words keep buzzing around in my brain and simply will not stop their buzz, buzz, buzz, until I resolve where it, or they, came from. So it was with ‘old aunt Harriet’, I knew that I had heard it used in a song but couldn’t remember the piece. Read more of this post

Aasof on Artistic Bent


This week on Facebook: Occasionally at my monthly meeting with an ex-colleague we talk about art, he paints watercolours (as far as I am aware they are restricted to inanimate subjects) and has what I would call an ‘artistic bent‘. We may all understand what is meant by an artistic bent, but an internet search for articles that may relate to artistic bent (be it a colloquial expression or an idiom) were difficult to find, as were related terms that could have the same meaning or inference (for example: artistic flair). I frequently claim that I have no artistic bent at all, especially in terms of art (painting) or in recognising a photographic image worth capturing.  Read more of this post

Aasof on Liberal Democracy


This week on Facebook: I never realised that I was living in what is called a Liberal Democracy, I would certainly not connect such a democracy with the Liberal Party here in the UK. It does however appear to be consistent with what one of my Facebook colleagues called Liberal Authoritarianism¹ and is increasingly illiberal. So what is a Liberal Democracy? It seems that even trying to define such a thing as a Liberal State² only succeeds in further dividing a disparate demos.

A fully liberal state is a state in which every citizen has equal rights and liberties, which are as extensive as they could be consistently with all others having the same rights and liberties. In these states this equality of rights and liberties coexists with a considerable socio-economical inequality. This raises questions about the extent to which these states are just and can be called true democracies.  Liberal Democracy

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Aasof on Freedom of Expression (Speech)


This week on Facebook: In the 10th edition of their Democracy Index, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) recently reported the worst performance in global democracy since 2010-11 in the aftermath of the global economic and financial crisis. A special focus of this year’s report is the state of media freedom around the world and the challenges facing freedom of speech. The report aims to give a snapshot of democracy worldwide and includes 165 independent states and two territories which cover almost the entire world population.

Five categories are used to score each country: electoral process and pluralism, civil liberties, the functioning of government, political participation, and political culture. Based on around 60 indicators each country is placed into one of four types of regime: “full democracy”, “flawed democracy”, “hybrid regime” or “authoritarian regime”. The Democracy Index regards freedom of expression as essential for democracy to take root and flourish. The quality of democracy in any country may in large measure be gauged by the degree to which freedom of speech prevails. Societies that do not tolerate dissent, heresy and the questioning of conventional wisdom cannot be “full democracies”. Read more of this post

Aasof on Democracy!


This week on Facebook: Following my reading of the articles in Bloomberg’s Weekend Edition (This Week was China Week), it’s apparent that we are committed to ideologies, politicians in particular — in my view — being particularly committed to the authoritarian ideology of China’s master plan, which I posted this month. However, in whatever form they may come in, the adherence to a particular ideology produces its own zealots. Comments on the social media confirm this view, but what about the many more who do not involve themselves in ideological discussions! Read more of this post

Democracy in Xinjiang?


This week on Facebook: Last week I  wrote about Political Meritocracy & Authoritarian Democracy and would that global politics could be divided neatly between ‘the political good and the political bad’. One of the problems in trying to write objectively is that of history and the version of it that people choose to believe in. The justification for any conflict by one State with another is set by the victor in any conflict, in reality the contemporaneous reasons for conflicts are always subject changes driven by politics. These are used to disguise the economic and political justifications behind the conflict, with the victor and the vanquished each presenting their own version to it.

Such was the case when I wrote about the 2011 conflict in Libya — Sticks and Stones and looking back even further the 2003 conflict in Iraq that I wrote about in A Chilcot Retort! Both conflicts initiated by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), whereby 29 North American and European countries signed a 1949 treaty to constitute a collective defence in response to an attack by any external party.

China’s actions in Xinjiang illustrates the power written into the constitution of the State and the significance that freedom of expression contributes to a democracy. Regardless of the State constitution it’s clear the all States propagate disinformation and it is only a constitutional right to freedom of expression that can exposes it and its initiators.

 


China has turned Xinjiang into a police state like no other: Kashgar, the largest Uighur city, has four camps, of which the largest is in Number 5 Middle School. A local security chief said in 2017 that “approximately 120,000” people were being held in the city. In Korla, in the middle of the province, a security official recently said the camps are so full that officials in them are begging the police to stop bringing people.

Xinjiang Authorities Subsidise Uighurs to Relocate to Han Districts of Urumqi: As part of a bid to promote ethnic “friendship” and stability following his appointment in August 2016, Xinjiang party chief Chen Quanguo initiated a new “become relatives” policy in October which aimed to assign a Han Chinese “relative” to each Uyghur household who would monitor the family’s adherence to Chinese rule and report its activities to the authorities.

China created a new terrorist threat by repressing secessionist fervour in its western frontier: In the 1940s, the Uighurs enlisted the help of the Soviet Union to create a separatist state, called the East Turkestan Republic. As close cultural and ethnic cousins of the Uighurs, the Turkish lent a hand in the administrative and cultural shaping of the republic. It didn’t last; five years later, the USSR’s loyalties switched to Chairman Mao, and the Russians helped The Communist People’s Liberation Army recapture the nascent state. In October 1949, East Turkestan was absorbed into Communist China.

Terror threats transform China’s Uighur heartland into security state: China says it faces a serious threat from Islamist extremists in this far Western Xinjiang region. Beijing accuses separatists among the Muslim Uighur ethnic minority there of stirring up tensions with the ethnic Han Chinese majority and plotting attacks elsewhere in China. A historic trading post, Kashgar is also central to China’s One Belt, One Road (OBOR) Initiative, President Xi Jinping’s signature foreign and economic policy involving massive infrastructure spending linking China to Asia, the Middle East and beyond.

On Uighurs, Han, and general racial attitudes in China: Your mentioning the sign [“Han Chinese only”] in Xinjiang provides half the question.  It’s pretty obvious why the Uighurs are angry, but that doesn’t explain why Han Chinese in Xinjiang are angry. I think that if you see this simply as a majority group trying to crush a minority group, then you miss the fact that the average Han Chinese in Xinjiang probably feels as oppressed and repressed as the Uighurs, and since they are competing for the same pool of jobs.  Just because you are Han Chinese doesn’t mean that you are going to be in the Politburo.


Referenced Articles & Books: A book or pdf (usually free), or simply a url that may sometimes link to a download that is also usually free. Sometimes a link to JSTOR is used, this lets you set up a free account allowing you to have 6 (interchangeable) books stored that you can read online.

Han Migration to Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region: Between State Schemes and Migrants’ Strategies (JSTOR): Post-1949 Han migration to the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in northwest China is a hotly debated issue among Xinjiang scholars as well as among the population of the region itself. While it is often discussed as a large-scale historical process using statistical data, in this article I argue for a more differentiated view of Han migrants. I demonstrate that in the popular discourse, migrants are distinguished into numerous categories like Bingtuaners, Profit-Driven Migrants, Border Supporters, Qualified Personnel, Educated Youth and others. Accordingly, I argue that Han migrants to Xinjiang should not be understood as a homogeneous category of participants in a singular state project intended to establish state control over the region. High return rates demonstrate that state attempts to make Han migrants settle in Xinjiang are only partly successful and that migrants follow their own strategies when the situation permits, rather than fulfill the government’s plans. Individuals who have migrated since the 1980s are especially careful in their assessment of the economic incentives of settlement and many decide to remain mobile.

Which Fossil Fuel?


Sunday on Facebook: My wife reads the daily newspaper, once described by the Duke of Edinburgh as being “Bloody Awful”. I have eventually been persuaded to change my car and find that my wife is opposed to vehicles that use diesel for fuel. No! She’s not a rabid environmentalist, my eventual research into why she holds such views turns out to be the reality of banning fossil fuelled ‘new cars’ in 2040. Any ban on new vehicle fuels is likely to apply to all fossil fuelled vehicles. Being driven by a ‘political hope’, or perhaps more aptly — by ‘political wishful thinking’ — that the energy source of declared environmentally friendly powered vehicles will not ultimately create a comparable amount of environmental pollution.  Read more of this post

Political Meritocracy & Authoritarian Democracy


This week on Facebook: Last week Murray N. Rothbard wrote in the introduction to La Boetie’s Discourse that, How can a free and very different world be brought about? How in the world can we get from here to there, from a world of tyranny to a world of freedom? This prompted me to republish the following quotation made fifty-seven years ago by Aldous Huxley at  Berkely University:

It seems to me that the nature of the ultimate revolution with which we are now faced is precisely this: That we are in process of developing a whole series of techniques which will enable the controlling oligarchy who have always existed and presumably will always exist to get people to love their servitude. (Aldous Huxley – Berkeley 1962)

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The New Slick Road


This week on Facebook: I used to blog a lot on a now defunct site called My Telegraph, as did a chap who I think called himself Atrium. Eventually Atrium disappeared in a fit of pique, I think it was because he had such little response to his many cri de coeur regarding his opinions. Observing Atrium was a salutary lesson that taught me a lot about blogging and I think I understand why he left My Telegraph in such a huff. It was (at least in a large part) an ‘age’ thing, Atrium was most probably in my peer group, retired and clearly with a lot of time to spend on the social media. He had forgotten that as a younger man, when in a job and less time on his hands, any talk of putting the world to rights was invariably euphemistic and tempered by a blind faith that the democracy of our public administration lay in hands of the electorate.

My piquancy (I would hope) is not only tempered by an ever increasing understanding of the social media but also by the limitations to my curmudgeonliness. However, a recent article in MoneyWeek with the title ‘A Credit Score That Judges Your Politics’ (see Monday’s article) caused me to have an Atrium moment, a cri de coeur if you will.  Imagine a world where many of your daily activities were constantly monitored and evaluated: what you buy at the shops and online; where you are at any given time; who your friends are and how you interact with them; how many hours you spend watching content or playing video games; and what bills and taxes you pay—or not (see Tuesday’s article). Think of the world that you are already living in!

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The Land Is Ours

a Landrights campaign for Britain

The Bulletin

This site was created for members and friends of My Telegraph blog site, but anyone is welcome to comment, and thereafter apply to become an author.

TCWG Short Stories

Join our monthly competition and share story ideas...

The Real Economy

Blogs and stuff from Ed Conway

Public Law for Everyone

Professor Mark Elliott

Bleda

Am I my Brothers keeper?

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