Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Radical Islam in Britain- Is there ever more of a need of inductive reasoning than when reason has been abandoned into the foray of Multi-Culturalism?

A not so unfamiliar, though still rare and sad tale these days: A young Muslim boy grows-up to become an Islamic terrorist. At some point before he became a terrorist he was a mere Muslim. During the phase of being a Muslim, or before it- if that is relevant, he had occasion to question his faith. Or, if he did not have occasion, he had not been given the fundamental faculties of reason, nor had he knowledge of the benefits of applying to reason to self-assessment. Like so many people of faith, irrespective of type, he failed to realise the fundamentals of human autonomy that renders faith a matter of choice, not absolute decree.

This example may be possible in an orthodox Islamic state, but it is by no means likely. But what if this was done in a modern Western democratic state? What if it was done in say the state that fathered the Enlightenment and fostered democracy around the world? Would at some point there not be a detailed, carefully questioning, inquiry into cause? Would not the rational question of intervention come into play? Further, though not vindicating his actions, could assigning fault of this to the state prevent such similar action in the future? Let us go further into detail of this particular Western democratic state. Let us say, for the sake of argument, that it had a national religion that is Christianity. And let’s say for further argument, that it had a Head of state whom was also the Head of this religion. Let’s also say that in the entire stretch of the 20th Century there was no incident of mass religious violence or terrorism between Christian groups in this hypothetical state. Induction would lead us to say that Christianity does not cause violence in this state, in recent times, against other Christians (irrespective of denomination) on the basis of religion. Either it does not permit it and this is sanctionable, or people who perpetrate violence who are Christians against other Christians are not motivated by religion. It would be wise for anyone seeking a correlation between religion and violence to have a look at this case as an example of some accord in this context.

Let us take our inquiry further in our hypothetical state. Let it also be taken as fact that in this place there is no violence between non-religious persons in recent times on the basis of established religion. These three configurations would lead to, perhaps, an unpalatable conclusion: (i) people who are not religious are not generally interested in the propagation of religious violence; (ii) Christians are not generally interested in religious violence against one another on the basis of Christianity; (iii) for some reason people who commit terrorism are latching on to Islam- BUT it is by no means clear whether Islam is causing terrorism.

A detailed analysis of the third would very likely corroborate it. As not all muslims are terrorists, it is not Islam but the supposed believer of it that is likely to be responsible for religious violence. But why would he or she do this? The root answer to this is not in Islam, but rather in something else: ‘Group theory’. The muslim terrorist does not have access to something that other members of society who do not propagate religious violence do. Perhaps, Christians and atheists have access to a context for religion within which Islamic terrorists do not. This context must render religious violence otiose. What could it be? And what should the state do, if anything, to provide it?

To cut an elongating analysis short the context is ‘Not Multiculturalism’. The state must stop encouraging multiculturalism and re-enforcing it. What I am saying in blunt terms is that: Islam is not responsible for Islamic terrorism in Britain BUT multiculturalism is. For the radical Islamist (whose motivations for violence are conviction driven above and beyond the common criminal), the boundaries of the role of religion in the modern world are simply unknown and irrelevant. To the fundamentalist religion is everything. But the last three hundred years of British history have been in exactly the opposite direction: telling us that religion isn’t everything. History tells us that when coupled with reason, religion can reduce its inherent propensities to harm when it is in the hand of a zealous human-being.

‘Multi-culturalism’ in a state with many religions and different cultures will inevitably lead to segregation due to the very nature of religion to denounce, on a non-empirical basis, all others. It also isolates old world theology, from modern world philosophy. Without removing multi-culturalism, which prevents assimilation from orthodox theology to secular pluralism, the main-bulk of us in society who understand that religion is a belief and nothing more (and that this is not related to its validity) will be at risk from the odd zealot. Further, where there are plural religions in play it encourages identity with belief rather than nation state or our common humanity. This enervates the idea that a man can be judged for his actions rather than beliefs (and works to engender the opposite). The former is at the heart of a state that believes in rationalism and modernity.

Copyright Abhijit P.G. Pandya 2010
Copyright Birkenhead Society 2010

The European Union’s destructive plan to End bilateralism and the right of States to have trade and investment policy.

The EU’s new investment policy, permitted under the Lisbon Treaty, will end the ability of the UK to negotiate bilateral investment treaties and related trade deals on its own. It will thus stop us from negotiating with other states to lure businesses and services to the UK, and selling the bonus points of the UK as a place to invest. It will thus result in a severe decline of foreign investment, which provides much needed employment in poorer areas of our country.

When this policy becomes an EU Regulation it will prevent any member state having a preferential investment and trade agreement over another. Thus, if the UK has a better investment agreement than Germany with India, it will nullify that advantage. Following the successful passage of the regulation all investment treaties will only be able to be signed by the EU. Bilateral trade agreements will follow suit. All foreign investment policy will then be exclusive competence of the EU.

This is the end of sole control over foreign trade and investment policy for the UK and any related trade advantages it has in the global market over the EU and other states. As these agreements are reciprocal, it will significantly undermine Britain's competitiveness in the global market as the UK will no longer have control over protecting its businesses overseas. This also means that if non-EU states do not sign an investment agreement with the EU, British businesses will have no protection as Britain will not be able to sign any investment treaties on its own. British business will either then avoid those states, resources and markets or go there under serious risk that their business will be nationalised by the state. Thus some businesses may cease to trade overseas as a result of lack of protection that investment treaties provide.

Because the UK will no longer be able to have a bilateral investment treaty (this is a reciprocal agreement for both states to encourage and protect investments) the same investments that would normally come to the UK would now go anywhere in the EU. We would not be allowed to give any preferential treatment to lure businesses here, and as a result it would mean the end of the policy of foreign businesses to come in to deal with unemployment.

It is likely that the EU will then legislative to send these businesses to the more needy or other parts where it is cheaper to make the EU to attract them.

A definite loss for the UK as our unemployment does not match those of other parts of the EU nor do we have the cheapest platform from which businesses can operate. The foreign direct investment economic stimulus will be done on an EU wide basis and not on a national level.

It remains extraordinary that so many members of the leading political parties were blind to the enlargement of EU competence in Lisbon to investment and what the effects were likely to be.

Copyright Abhijit P.G. Pandya 21.12. 2010
Copyright Birkenhead Society 21.12.2010.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

If you don’t believe water-boarding convicted terrorists is right; then you simply haven’t joined the real world.

Professor Sir Nigel Rodley argued on BBC News this evening that President Bush’s admission of torture should be followed by a criminal prosecution. That torture is quite simply wrong and ‘they will torture us if we torture them’. Excuse me Professor, I think you haven’t quite grasped the situation: They want to kill us. Whatever their reasons for killing us or torturing us, it’s not to do with our water-boarding them (in fact the perceived barbarity of the enemy is to be respected and honoured historically in some warlike/terrorist perpetuating cultures). This demonstrates how far the human rights dreamers are away from the reality of the war. They want to kill us for being Western, economically successful and believing in democracy. This jealousy and often base hate is masked in all sorts of dissimulations (it is both the prerogative and habit of evil to deceive), E.g. Israel’s acts in Gaza, the war in Iraq, the presence of Western troops in Afghanistan. Unfortunately it is often the courage to do brutal acts that perpetuates the survival of civilisation over barbarity. While evil exists, preservation of the greater good is paramount through often visceral courage. President Bush, thank god, had the courage to do this and not live in a dangerous subjective utopia that leads to elimination.

Professor Rodley, sitting in his warm room in his university (like many a human rights lawyer) needs to understand a few very fundamental things:

1. The world is very horrible place with lots of nasty people that want to destroy his way of life. His ability to sit there warm and safe to dream and abstractly pontificate in his office is based on the existence of the nation state.
2. The nation state has to be protected, without it we can’t dream of the non-sense of human rights or the commonsense of liberty.
3. That human rights can destroy the nation-state, by giving unmeritorious people rights through being universal and thus economically crippling Governments. It can also do so by weakening us in the face of those who are our enemies.
4. That the people whom we torture are fighting to end all talk of human rights and liberty, and if they win the human rights lawyers will either be censored or, most likely as the Taliban have shown with respect to dissent, killed.

The obvious advice for Professor Rodley is to follow President Bush and self-preserve. It is self-evident, to all but those who have lost touch with common-sense and reality, that preserving life and liberty has to come before the ability to dream.

Copyright Abhijit P.G. Pandya 2010.
Copyright Birkenhead Society 2010.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

David Cameron failed in Brussels on Friday because he doesn’t realise that they need us more than we need them.

In Prime Ministers’ Questions on Wednesday (27/11/10) David Cameron arrogantly affused a brief narrative regarding Lady Thatcher’s extraordinary EU rebate negotiations in 1984. After hours of heated posturing European leaders then gave in to Lady Thatcher’s simple argument that Britain’s economic contribution to the Common Agricultural Policy was disproportionate to the benefits brought home by the EEC. So Cameron had set himself for his Lady Thatcher moment, forcing us to find an assessment of whether his self-drawn comparison was justified. He came home after Friday evening in Brussels not just empty handed (he mitigated loss rather than acquired benefit) but also without discernible intended impact of reducing the increase to the EU budget.

I don’t know who was briefing the Prime Minister, but in the last few weeks when Europe was working out how to entrench a huge deposit scheme for national bail-outs, how off the wall his thinking of reducing a budget increase of 6% next year was- and simply how hard he would have to fight in this climate to get it. In simple terms while we are cutting costs back home, Europe is looking for increased contributions for its new monolith insurance policy, which like so many other self-proposed schemes carries with it no Treaty based mandate. The Prime Minister, without being able to effectively understand the eminence of Britain’s position in Europe and the importance of our current contributions to any of these causes, failed to go in there with a plan of reduced exposure to Europe in line with cuts that many domestic areas were facing. He thus did not play the old; ‘we would like to do this, but it is not sitting with what are doing domestically- hence my hands are tied’. Unfortunately, even this evaded the PM.

Lady Thatcher, of course, would have been far fiercer and stronger than that: I suspect she would still be in Brussels this evening, bullish if she had not got what she had wanted. As a result of this the Prime Minister has left a gaping disparity in the Comprehensive Spending Review set out by his Chancellor. I, for one, am still not convinced that those that will lose their public sector jobs at home will be happy that their jobs will be paying for policy development for bailouts for the future debt mismanaged Greeces of this world.

In the end the P.M. got the increase halved, yet an increase it still is. The policy disparity between domestic cuts and international expenditure caused by the upcoming UK contributions to the EU is no longer tenable. The EU expenditure is not negligible. UK’s net EU contributions will increase to £6.9 billion next year, roughly 6.5% of the NHS budget (the equivalent cost of prescriptions for the entire population for over a year or the cost of cancer treatment for the entire population for two years (Source: OHE 2009)). This makes reassessment of benefits of membership timely, as it genuinely affects life-style choices at home due its cost. The arguments thus move beyond self-government and preservation of democracy, to social needs of the UK population including national tax policy which impacts upon economic autonomy of the individual.

This self-assessment is particularly needed given the Lisbon Treaty endows the EU with the capacity to make treaties, making withdrawal now easier than ever. With the end of the Cold-war and growing global privatisation now bringing more and more sectors (and states) into the global market, Britain must branch its export/import circle far above and beyond the Eurozone. After all the Indians don’t speak French but English, and the advantage of bilateral trade increasingly moves us away from multilateralism into the bilateral realm of foreign economic policy. But beyond all this, the EU’s role in promoting global free trade is now questionably ‘redundant’. When the UK entered the EEC global tariffs were significantly high, and the GATT had yet to expand the areas of reduced tariffs now seen within the WTO. (The subsequent Tokyo and Uruguay rounds of world trade negotiations in the late 1970s and 1980s moved the world significantly towards global free trade in an unprecedented way). Now cost of exports and imports vis-à-vis tariffs are negligible, so that most areas of the world no longer have effective barriers to prevent trade. The rise of investment treaties in the last two decades (from over 50 to several thousand) has virtually ended the concept of market barriers. This renders benefits of exclusivity or preference to the Euro-zone for trade and investment dubious, and frees states from being ensconced in international institutions for trade to more global choices in line with global market liberalisation.

It is with this in mind, and with some developed choices in foreign economic policy that the P.M. should have faced the Brussels crowd on Friday evening. The most important thing that the PM should have noted: the UK contributes 13% of the EU budget (£13 billion 700 million Euros) –however, there are 27 member states. Some states contribute nothing. (Romania contributes nothing but still has 35 MEPs sitting in the European Parliament; Bulgaria contributes nothing but still has 18 MEPs sitting in the European Parliament- all able to vote on fiscal policy and expenditure which is based on the contributions of other states). The conclusion, my dear P.M., is simple: they need us more than we need them.

Copyright Abhijit P.G. Pandya 2010.
Copyright Birkenhead Society 2010.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Social mobility takes a kicking under the coalition

How do you get social mobility? Two basic ingredients, as Lady Thatcher once noted, tell a man who doesn’t work why he should, and tell a man who works to work harder. The nation will benefit, as one will get that most needed of things at the moment, growth. That’s quite important in a recession. Now if you get rid of the carrots it does not matter how hard you beat the stick- it just won’t get the horse to water. Osborne and Cameron spoke of social mobility, they spoke of social justice. By attacking the middle classes, in a series of recent policy decisions, they have undermined both and – most importantly of all the impetus to seek the benefits of pursuing wealth. Or in different terms, the reasons why one should become middle class or richer middle class. So much for the party of aspiration; so much for the Government of fairness.
Let’s look at one recent daft policy to come out- the imbalanced removal of child benefit. It’s not that child benefit being removed that is so much of the problem; it is the nature of this particular policy that ought to cause concern. How can a mother who stays at home to nurture a child where the other parent works be left without the benefit and two parents who both work and might have almost double the salary keep it? The Chancellor’s perverse, disingenuous reason was that there will be some losers and he has to hit ‘every part of society’ (one should note that this an internal term used by the Conservative Party of deliberate reiterative psephology designed to take imaginary left wing voters to bed that do not actually exist). But does this mean that it should be irrational? Does that mean that you should try and trick your way out of an obvious blunder and assume the public are daft? And what of that most important of things: spending time with one’s child to ensure it is prepared for life, and it is supported fully through the vital years? This is particularly important in a time where people often work harder and longer, and see their children less. Parental support so important to a child’s success is being jeopardised through the message given by the Chancellor’s erroneous disparity.
The other policy to note is the real worry for social mobility. The decision to make wealthier graduates pay greater tuition fees, so that their lazier class mates can have an even more fun time at University bunking lessons, boozing continuously and getting a third. The harder you work at University, and the more difficult a course you choose (e.g. Economics, Law, Medicine) the more you will pay for others to do less. Utterly absurd. Take this example, when the best medical students will have the privilege of private practice in say surgery, possibly on Britain’s prestigious Harley Street, they will be paying for a third class flunker in theatre design at some unheard of institute. This will inspire us all Mr. Cameron. Well done. Surely only the mindless of egalitarians, or the mad, will see anything of value here.

Copyright Abhijit P.G. Pandya 2010.
Copyright Birkenhead Society 2010.

Monday, 13 September 2010

We must stop bashing bankers if we are to regenerate the economy.

The response to the banking crisis, what to make of it. ‘It is all politics’ a London cabbie tells me. How right. What is more interesting is the meaning of this phrase. I have pondered over this for quite some time and have come to an obvious definition: 'When party interest starts to override national interest and invades choices and measures in Government'. The Conservative Party under Cameron is paralytically obsessed with image change to the degree that it is willing to become anything but anything resembling the Party in its most successful days in the 1980s and 1990s. Alas it is also abandoning tried and tested methods of economic stimulus.
The skill of managing image is to protect it whilst doing nasty things. However, by not being too good at doing that the coalition have thrown away a myriad of sensible policies that even smell slightly of Thatcherism. Therein goes the sensible policies of that period that restricted state intervention into the market, and finally incentivised large and small business. Whilst the papers (shame on them) obsess with £40 million given to the Chairman of Barclays (an absolute pittance in comparison to its annual turnover) Osborne has been bought by the leftish drivel of using the banking bonuses as a scapegoat for Labour’s economic mismanagement. Thus the new coalition, built on the desire for power over any integrity of political belief, now seeks to make all bank bonuses transparent. The treasury is preparing detailed legislation this week.

Yet what purpose this obvious public relations stunt is for is unclear, barring protecting the brand that is 'Cameron Tory'. Is the Conservative Party now trying to stimulate envy amongst the public through revealing high pay packages? What purpose does revealing private earnings serve? And why not stop with the banks, what about businesses that expand under the lure of bonuses and put at risk a large amount of employees? What is the consequence of impalatable bonuses (and is the impalatability merely based on quanta)? Does one have to give it to the Cameron Big Society project (Convenient initials ‘BS’)? As getting a bonus is a sign of commercial success, and commercial success if the driver of the British economy, the measure makes no sense. Taking a concrete position, would be to regulate certain areas of banking directly- a position that I would disagree with due to its ability to render British high risk banking products uncompetitive globally. This publicity stunt approach to the economy has got to stop, the state and not the Conservative Party must come first. Credit provided by the banks is the fuel of the economy. If we don’t incentivise risk in banking, then in simple terms, we won’t get growth and move out of the recession.

Abhijit P.G. Pandya
Copyright Birkenhead Society.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Easy Quiz: Who is the most racist MP in the House of Commons? Ans. Diane Abbott.

This was an easy prize for Diane to win. Her whole life she has been paranoid about the colour of her skin and the colour of others. When she first entered the House of Commons bar as a young MP (seldom visited by women) she was stared at. Her paranoia and obsession with race told her that it was because she was black, not the more evident conclusion that she was one of the few female MPs. Who else could get away with the racialist sentiment uttered by her when she got stood for nomination for the Labour leadership: that she stood because the other candidates where white and male. Whilst Enoch Powell’s supposed concerns about race were justifiably limited to corresponding immigration issues, Abbott’s racism, excuse the pun, is black and white. She’s standing because she thinks it is important to have someone black standing, and on the nuanced theme that whites are inadequate. After all only blacks can understand blacks. And thinking that just can’t be racist can it? Maybe she needs to sit down one weekend and thoroughly read A.J. Ayer’s ‘Language Truth and Logic’ to see the inherent irrationality. Can politics delve any deeper into the gutter without fishing in the sewer in the way Abbott has? This is a woman who criticized people for sending their kids to private school and then did the same. Where is the criticism of character coming from the Labour Party when determining appropriateness for selection? Instead Harriet Harman emulated the stupidity of Abbott’s race card with the gender card; she was backing Abbott not because of the brilliance of Abbott’s mind or her agile debating skills. Rather Harman thinks it is important to have a woman in the race.

I think they both need some assistance from a policy expert to hone their approach: Why not find an unemployed black one-legged mentally disabled lesbian who has had a sex-change and make her a Labour MP. Do it quickly. Then get the whole party to support this person in a leadership bid once the new leader is announced. Come on Diane and Harriet-be a puritan stand up for what you believe, and at least have the integrity and decency to follow the argument through and put this into action. How else can minority protection be taken seriously in this country, if we don’t have minority representation for all?

Of course this is utterly absurd, but it is not a million miles away from what Harman and Abbot propagate. Diane Abbott does not stop her prejudice there, she also dislikes British culture. She asked her son, a British national, to go back to Ghana to discover his roots. What’s wrong with his country? If she becomes Labour leader those of us with an Irish grandparent will have to take time off to spend time wondering around Cork and breathing the clean air of Munster. Harold Wilson, former Labour leader and Oxford don at 21 must be turning in his grave.

Copyright Abhijit P.G. Pandya 2010
Copyright Birkenhead Society 2010

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

When the last flames of Erastianism become embers, the West will fall.

The success of the West, from the philosophical basis of the free-market, mass literacy, democracy and fundamental freedoms are rooted in the single most important idea in the history of philosophy. This is to be found in the work of Erastus who began the shift away from the medieval world of arbitrary government and dictatorship of free will by theological superstition. He stated in significant contrast to his times that, in simplest terms, it was the state who was the final arbitrator of sin (right and wrong) and not the church. In essence it was for man to reason and decide what the yardsticks of acceptable conduct were. It placed the significantly onerous task of self-responsibility on the human-being and the governments he would create, by giving him the most important freedom of all: Reason. Of course we have struggled with the freedom that reason has given us, and the victory of saving man from the darker parts of himself is far from being won. What is, however, of significant concern in Britain today is how our politics has begun to support the irrational- how the sharper swords of intelligence have given way to emotion, and how emotion has confounded both common-sense and sensibility.

The clearest example of the Erastian yard-stick in a democracy is the level of detailed debate that politicians are capable of delivering, and the public are capable of engaging in, during an election. In the 2010 UK General Election, the Erastian short-comings lay with the leaders not the people. The critical signs of politics being rules by emotion rather than intelligence were the following issues raised to the national agenda: Climate Change (ruled by scientific consensus, not fact); International Development (ruled by the emotion of charity not by the propagation of the ideal of self-responsibility. In any event, ludicrous in a time of significant budget-deficit); Equality espoused by the Conservatives (not understanding that this is the right to prevent others from doing better than oneself); Social mobility (not appreciating that one needs a very large state apparatus to do this, the cost of which is in unaffordable, and that it advocates the abdication of self-responsibility at its very core); multi-culturalism and diversity (words that will lead first to the destruction of identity, and, following from this, of the nation state). (That the link between the word 'diversity' and the words: 'diversification', 'alienation', 'separation' and 'segregation' leading to a lack of social cohesion are not seen by the media is quite surprising).

We have come to difficult waters in the UK. Unless we are willing to speak the supposedly unspeakable, our heritage will be lost and with it our sense of nationhood. Courage is needed, as well as the strength to frown upon and despise cowardice when the spirit of 'Reason' is at threat in public debate. I recall a splendid passage in Heffer’s majestic biography of Enoch Powell. Powell attended a meeting of the Conservative One Nation group in 1950, where the odious Heath and the mercurial Macleod were present. Powell stated unequivocally, ‘that there was no such thing as social justice’. It was crystal clear then to him, as it should be now to all of us, that such a concept simply cannot be compatible with a meritocracy. Further, that without meritocracy one cannot get competition and a free-market based democracy. So what does the Conservative Party do when unable, due to post 1997 emasculation, to intellectually defeat Blair’s egalitarian (the opposite of merit) social justice model? It allows a former abysmal Party leader, Duncan-Smith to form ‘the Centre for Social Justice’ and use it as a back-bone for Conservative Party policy-making. The ghosts of the concrete socialists; Cripps, Gaitskell and Dalton; all laugh from their graves.

Cameron has wonderfully started off this coalition with a unique duplicity of moral vision. He proposed the 55% vote entrenchment of his Government for a fixed term to shore up the failings of the Conservative Manifesto in not getting a workable number of seats. He must have been reading a biography of Robert Mugabe when he thought of this. He then has the sheer idiocy to say that David Laws is ‘a good and honourable man’ for stealing £40,000 of tax-payers money for the character flaw of insecurity. Yes Laws stole because he was obsessed with what people thought of him. And as Cameron's PR experience informs him, it is right, just and 'honourable' to be concerned of public perception, so much so that it great that one can admit this publicly. It so evidently, so Reasonably, offers a valid excuse to wrongdoing. This is a leader who has little grasp of logic, and one whom massaging public relations- from whatever rationality, is more important than thinking through the rationality of so doing. It is thus clear that from manifesto to politics in practice that the Conservative Party will offer very little different, expenses included, from New Labour.

The staring road to reason is to talk about the very issues that lay at the heart of Britain’s problems. It is to speak the unspeakable, the impalatable, that which is most difficult to stomach. It is to reason things through. To not do as Duncan-Smith did, spend thousands of pounds in a centre for social justice, delivering a paper on social mobility that does not deal with skills training or employment building. It is to understand that a clear figure, a cap, is needed to put immigration under control to preserve our heritage and identity. To road to reason and honesty is to admit that multi-culturalism was responsible for the 7/7 attacks and British born youths fighting against the armed forces in Afghanistan. Unfortunately on the present course the Erastian spirit is far from our political agenda. Without reason we could not have had created the modern world, and we can only have a democracy which comprises banter based on fear, control based on spin and PR, and emotion. On our current course, despairingly, common-sense will be spoken in the impossible climate after lunacy has taken grip. If we are not already there…

Copyright Abhijit P.G Pandya 2010
Copyright Birkenhead Society 2010

Monday, 31 May 2010

Irresponsible international relations prejudging Israel over the gaza flotilla.

In international law, it is up to a state to police its internal waters as they are a part of its territory. Furthermore, by extension in international law states can act, at their discretion to police incoming vessels. Where a vessel continues on its path into a state, a state can legitimately use force. This is a similar rule to the right of hot-pursuit where states can sink ships that leave their internal waters where there is a (subjective) possibility of a threat or crime regarding their sovereignty (see Professor Malcolm Shaw's colossal work on International Law, 5th Ed, p.549). The real concern for international relations is not Israel's act, but the reaction of several states and non-state entities before the facts came to light. A classic example of this is the Egyptian President's uttering that Israel, 'had excessively used force'. How he can ascertain what is excess without any regard to the nature of the incident or the threat posed by the ship is really quite astonishing. This is important as there is a generic international paranoia leading to prejudice every time Israel is involved in an incident using military force out of the confines of its territory. Peace is never achievable when minds are gorged with passions and prejudice. Often the first step towards peaceful relations is realising when passions and prejudices begin and reason ends. Understanding that boundary and erring on the side of reason and caution will lead to a far safer and harmonious world. That this is not realised as demonstrated by the reactions of states means that international public order (accord between states) is on slippery footing. Historically, the international community is in serious trouble where leaders of states throw logic out of the window and breathe only on the emotion in the air. These statements are indicative of the gap in maturity in international relations that needs to be overcome, before any progress can be made. My concern is that these statements were made before any of the facts were raised. Thus they are reflective of predetermined positions on Israel, or in simpler words: Prejudice. Thus the Russians claimed - 'a violation of international law by Israel', where it is quite feasible that the law is on the side of Israel. 
Iran - 'this is maritime terrorism', despite the fact that the states have a right to protect their internal waters and a right to determine who comes into their territory. Far worse is the following language used immediately after the incident by the following: The Turkish Prime Minister stating that 'this is state terrorism', whatever that means. Hezbollah - 'a premeditated crime against humanity'. Hamas - 'Muslims must now rise up'. PLO Abbas - 'this was a massacre'. What these latter entities should have done is followed the more mature approach that the U.S. took regarding the incident, which was a simple statement which focused on the most important issue: 'the regret at the loss of life'. It seems clear to the undergraduate law student that several of the above mentioned statements were taken without due advice on the law or on the limits of the state action. This is not a responsible approach to international relations that bodes well for the future of international public order. The worst statement of all, perhaps, came from William Hague. Hague stated that Israel, had 'unacceptably blockaded Gaza'. This is nonsense as Israel has every right to blockade access to Gaza, as Gaza is not a land-locked state covered by international law. This is frightening because the Foreign Office in the UK has one of the most astounding international lawyers around working for them, Daniel Bethlehem QC who would, if no doubt consulted, given Hague advice to the contrary. If a country like UK, well equipped with lawyers at the tax payers expense can't get this right, then there is little hope of decent UK leadership in the Security Council on this and the other issues relating to international security.

 Hague is setting a woeful example to the rest of the world. A wise adage of 'the greater the possibility of outrage, more tempered recourse to vocality' needs to be followed.

Copyright Abhijit P.G. Pandya

Copyright Birkenhead Society 2010

Monday, 17 May 2010

Why we should leave the EU- The simple and forgotten truth of its redundancy, and a worrying future ahead.

The purpose of entering into an international institutional arrangement by a state is rarely gratuitous. As all serious international relations scholars know, they do not exist to ‘preserve peace’- that is phrase is simply a selling term for a portion of the public. Rather, the purpose of an international institution is to further a nation’s foreign economic policy and foreign affairs strategy. A rarely recalled or argued position nowadays is why Britain had an obsession to fight De Gaulle’s veto on its membership of the European Economic Community in the 1960s. The crucial answer is that this was a part of trans-Atlantic policy on cold war containment of communism. That case is no longer existing; an economic union is not required to promote capitalist growth in a world of conflicting ideologies. Furthermore, global trade tariffs between states have decreased significantly since the Second World War, from around an average of 12% to over 2% today. Unfortunately for the UK's past foreign economic strategists the most significant reduction in tariffs occurred in 1973 when the Tokyo round of trade negotiations came to an end. This was just after the UK's accession to the EEC. The EU has now become almost redundant mechanism for advocating free-trade, on the contrary its regional protectionism is working the other way.

In contrast to the ideological containment from communism granted by the EEC in the 1960s and 1970s, the flow of socialism today is coming the other way: from within Europe. The Lisbon Treaty is expressly predicated on social market economics (Article 2(3)), though the implications of this are lost on the current cadre of British Conservative politicians. Priority emphasis on social policy by the US Congress was a key strategy in centralising and increasing the power of the US Federation between 1936 to 1976. More significantly, one of the key factors that made nation states successful were their ability to control the public and private divide, and the distinction between the state and the market. For some international relations scholars this is the key attribute of the nation state, and it is wholly waived away with the consent given to Europe to create a social market and thus decide where this delineation is to be made. Though we consented through referendum to an internal market in 1975, there was never a contract, so to speak, between the British people and its Government to handover such a significant policy making role to an external institution. The power that this provision alone grants to the European Commission on economic matters and the clear mandate it gives to a federal project has been underestimated by the House of Commons in 2009 where there was no motion for referendum. Further, it changes the nature of those who support the EU. Those who were pro-membership of the common-market, must now re-think their position as to whether they want welfare and economic matters to be conducted at the European level. In blunt terms one can no longer be pro-common market without also being a Federalist.

Unfortunately, the current political leadership of the UK was educated in period of British history when there was a dominance of an uncritical approach of the raison d’etre of the nation state in University education that was primarily motivated by the 1960s revolt against a virtuous and rightly puritanical imperial conceptualisation of Britannia. The result today is a generation that, though has shed its historic identity built over centuries, has not found an equivalent ideology from which to defend the nation state. This is why the importance of Lisbon, and then the corollary importance of holding a referendum is lost on them. Without being able to conceptualise the historical importance of creating nation states those currently in Government cannot simply make the simple deduction that Britain after three hundred years of Unionism is not in the same position as California entering into the US Republic in 1850. Alas, the future does not bode any better- Nowhere today in the education of a British child from the age of 3 years to 16 is the history and purpose of the nation state found. Particularly the invaluable lesson of the importance of the British nation state to act as a bulwark against anti-liberal ideologues in recent history is not made, let alone Britain’s contribution to the current global blooming of democracy. Instead paltry school teachers constantly confuse basic terms such as ‘nation’ and ‘nationalism’, the latter unfairly dominated in its characterization by post Weimar Germany. The significance of this is not just that Britain, through those who Govern it, will accept Lisbon- but those will Govern it in the future are just as likely to accept a Federal European structure through the same causal problem of ‘denationalisation’ in education being as likely to be endemic in the next decade as in the previous few.

Lisbon of course is an extraordinary treaty. To take a few examples: one could read thousands of international treaties and not come across one that proclaims that states have the right to denounce it. Yet Article 50 of Lisbon does just that, making the most crucial matter of national sovereignty delineable on the international sphere. Article 67(2) of the Treaty ensures that immigration policy in the future is no longer to be conducted at the national level. In no previous European treaty was there a provision that permitted the Commission to make uniform laws for all member states on any matters it sees fit, yet that appears in Article 114 (1) of Lisbon- a basic supremacy clause, unlimited undefined over national legislature. At the time of writing, it is extraordinary that no British journalist has seen the implications of this provision or made an appropriate hue and cry. In the 2010 General Election, no major political party explained this to the electorate. When Cameron hollowly cried change, how little his voters new that this is soon to be coming in an enormous way, but necessarily from the source they might expect.

At present, Cameron is certainly the wrong leader for a critical approach to European polity. His own politics has brought the Conservative Party closest to a French Republic egalitarian model than any time in its previous history. The media point out how much of the centre ground Cameron’s conservatism has taken; how odd that the more painful and important reality is how much closer to the centre ground he would be in the European Parliament, dominated by social democrats, if it was reflective of national polity. On this reading, his embracing of the social market model is such, that one can no longer make the case that Edmund Burke, the truest blue theorist of all time, could really be the progenitor of the current Conservative party. By not making a case for the nation state coupled with a referendum, Cameron also demonstrates that he does not have a subtle grasp of real-politick on the international sphere. He has failed to concretely grasp that international relations is meaningless without a nation, and that a nation amounts to very little without legislative sovereignty. When Foreign Policy is conducted regionally on the European level it may finally come home, to those who were prescient, that the nation state is finally dead. Lisbon has opened the door to this with the crucial and broadly drafted new Article 22(1). The critical point comes not with further erosion of Sovereignty, as awful as that is from the perspective of democratic legitimacy, but where European Governance determines when one can and cannot enter into international obligations- this is the point when independence ends and complete dependence and subjugation begins. Lisbon is making that door already: Where national defence objectives do not meet the common defence interests of member states, Title V Chapter 1 provisions in Lisbon would defer to an international approach. This generic approach is not a good omen for the future positioning of Britain in Europe or in the on-coming new World order where China will be a dominant player. Nor there is an argument of how the European Council will or could come to an agreement over what are ‘common security matters’, the system of Lisbon is only at present predicated on disenfranchising national political discourse on foreign policy from the supra-national level.

With such features in the Lisbon treaty it must be asked in all seriousness to maintain legitimacy of the European project in Britain, that the very least the British people deserve is a neutral source such as a Royal Commission explaining to them what Lisbon involves. Then only can they make an informed and valid choice at the next election.

Copyright Abhijit P.G. Pandya
Copyright Birkenhead Society 2010.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Why the human rights lawyers are the ‘true anti-liberals’.

The European Convention on Human Rights is a unique hypocrisy amongst
Instruments claiming to protect liberty. For all the supposed liberties it grants (which reflect select values of a few lawyers and civil servants and not the people of Europe that its title grandiosely seems to claim), it allows the state to define circumstances in which to take them away. But it is more than this, in classic ‘anti-liberal’ spirit, the Convention also defines the limits of the right through the exercise of the provisos upon which it can be used.

The nature of rights is to have an unlimited number of claims against the state. That it is the duty of the state to provide for them, irrespective of the merit of the individual bringing forward the claim. One sees in its most primitive political form as the bogus: ‘all men are equal’ doctrine. For the claimants it is conveniently forgotten that the state is really the public personified. The human rights brigade forget that with every claim there is a burden and a cost. The only way these claims are to be met is by increasing the size of the state to meet those demands. This reduces the choice of what those that do not want rights in the machinery of Government. For example, the right to housing is a burden of tax. The right to privacy will encumber some other legitimate claim to information, and so on. This is the inherent ‘anti-liberalism’ of the claim.

In the true John Stuart Mill sense of liberalism, a right cannot legitimately exist if it is a burden to others. Otherwise one is simply claiming the right to swing one’s fist despite punching others on the nose. Secondly, Mills tells us that a right cannot be espoused in the spirit of liberty unless it can manifest through legitimate state action that prevents its exercise interfering with others. The one proviso is ‘harm’. As far as the European Convention is concerned it is for the Government in question to define harm. However, this cannot be a liberal reading of the concept of a right. The liberal reading must be that the right exists 'unrestrictedly unless it is exercised harmfully'. Otherwise state action could define the limits to exercising the right, before the right is exercised. This is exactly what, however, the growing European Human Rights law does.

Now to demonstrate how the claims machine works in practice, look no further than the tragic case of Gita Saghal. Gita was sacked by Amnesty international for criticizing its pro-terrorist approach to rights claims. But of course she was, this sits in with the ‘anti-liberal’ approach: rights must be for all irrespective of duty, conduct and demonstrable vindication of obligation to one’s fellow man. Worryingly of all for the state is the more subtle espousal of immoral greed of human action without responsibility that this conceptualisation of rights espouses. Taken to its extreme it leads not only to anarchy in practice when these claims remain unfulfilled, but anarchy in theory when the state is seen as secondary to any individual interest. Therein lies its potential to destroy the equilibrium of society, through its imbalance of the economy of public policy. To echo the words of Thomas Paine, it is better to have no rights and a state, rather than the other way around, as in the latter there is no rule of law.

Lawyers and Governments that seek vindication of these political choices through the legal system, do so at the cost of politicizing the judiciary and weakening it through allowing it to infringe the separation of powers. This reduces the legitimacy of the judiciary in the eyes of the public, undermining the rule of law.

Another spurious logic fostered by the human rights vigilantes is the overall benefit doctrine. E.g. Signing up to rights can be likened to telling a taxi driver that he is better off being restricted in his trade through licencing, as the safety that licencing brings increases the trade. Unfortunately it does not, as once the cost burden outweighs the incentive to trade, there is, well simply: no trade. In this way one persons unrestricted right can cause harm to others (e.g. my right to cross-roads safely, against the number of drops a cab can make). The problem arises when one argues polar opposites of this example, the subtle balancing act that is needed to preserve liberty, is lost as the proverbial baby with the bath water.

Abhijit PG Pandya
Copyright Birkenhead Society.