Henri Lefebvre, French Marxist, author of the Critique of Everyday Life, born 16 June 1901, died the night of 28-29 June 1991.
Archive for June, 2005
Sarah reminds me that Rousseau turns 293 today, which is a fine age to be.
Anthony Buckeridge, author of Jennings Goes To School and other books, born 20 June 1912, died 28 June 2004.
Alexander Berkman, born 21 November 1870, committed suicide 28 June 1936.
I’m expecting quite a bit of extra traffic over the next few days, for the odd reason that the Virtual Stoa is third on a google search for “Richard Whiteley” + “obituary”.
People who follow this link won’t find an obituary of Richard Whiteley, however, though they will find details of Tim Collins ex-MP CBE’s “Countdown”-themed reception at the House of Commons last year, which may bring them some consolation in this dark hour.
From today’s News of the World:
She [Carole Caplin] said that Mr Blair was drinking more alcohol since she had stopped advising him. He was not “an alcoholic” or “a drinker” but needed a break from drink when subjected to stress, she added.
Now, obviously CC’s an unreliable source for anything and everything, but if Mr Blair were drinking too much, this would support my general theory of British prime ministers, which is that after a few years in the job they start boozing heavily.I haven’t researched this with any care, but I think the theory holds for Asquith (“Mr. Asquith says in a manner sweet and calm / Another little drink won’t do us any harm”), Macmillan, Wilson and Thatcher.
There are exceptions. Winston Churchill may be one, as he was drinking the whole time he was in No.10, beginning with champagne for breakfast, and consumption may not have increased as time went by. I don’t really know anything about Lloyd George, but given his pro-temperance noises, he might be an exception. And I don’t think I’ve heard anyone say that John Major hit the bottle c.1996 or so, though if anyone thinks that he did, please say so.
But according to the general theory, at any rate, it’s high time Mr Blair hit the bottle, so we should keep an eye out for further signs.
WHAT CAN WE DO?
Communism has shown itself to be more than a political creed. Its members, well-trained and severely disciplined, have elevated it to a kind of faith.
We must have an even greater belief in the faith which we hold.
The choice is not between having a faith and having no faith at all, but between faiths of completely different kinds. If Communism forces us to seek a creed, or to examine our own creed again, it will have done us a great service.
Here, then, is the challenge to Scouts in this generation – a challenge to adventure in the service of God, through whom we believe that the eternal is more important than the temporal, the spiritual more important than the physical or mental.
We must be as fervent in our worship of God as were the first followers of our faith, who were likewise surrounded by a world which was hostile to their beliefs. What matters more than anything else is what we believe about God and what is His will for us.
And we must take pains to understand our faith, and the proofs of its truth. Each of us must take his place as a member of his own Church and cannot stand outside and expect other people to carry on the work of the Churches. It is impossible to fight this battle as isolated individuals. We must all stand together.
We must also be passionately concerned with the well-being of the people of our country. Whether we belong to a political party or whether we do not, we must fight against all injustice, cruelty and selfish indifference to the needs of others. Not only is this God’s will for His people, but if we do not do so, we shall help the seed of Communism to grow, for their propaganda has more opportunity where there is injustice and oppression.
This only amounts to saying that we must carry on our Scouting at the highest possible level, and encourage our Scouts to do the same. Many boys have never been brought to realise the full meaning of Scouting. The small boy who joins a Cub Pack or a Scout Troop comes to get fun and adventure, and all too many never get beyond this stage. It is our responsibility as Scouters, through our example, to bring all our Scouts to the realisation that Scouting is indeed an adventure – the greatest of all adventures – the adventure of living under the guidance of God.
Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t much want to think about Theresa May and orgasms. (I don’t think that I wanted to know that John Major made Edwina Currie feel “sticky”, either.)
Episode Four: Communism on the Scout Promise and Law
But it is not enough to feel that Scouting and Communism are diametrically opposed to each other. We must know why they are so opposed. Let us take our Scout Promise and Law, and see where Communism stands in regards to them.
Duty to God
Communism denies the existence of a Divine Being. It does not believe that man was created by God nor that he has life after death.
In Russia members of the Communist party itself must be professed atheists, and the Churches are permitted to function only so long as they are content to obey the orders of the party.
Duty to the King
Our order of society leaves us free to hold and express our own views about politics and the Government of the day. Elections must be held every few years. The people can change the Government at any election, and can vote for a candidate of any party. In Communist countries there are no free elections – only a list of selected Communists. The individual’s freedom of conscience is gone – he exists only to do what the Government tells him to do. And at all times membership of a Communist party is rigidly controlled by a small group of men who give the orders. Communism, like Fascism, is therefore a dictatorship and in every way the opposite of our constitutional democracy.
The Scout Law
The Scout Law, as we have seen, gives us a moral code to follow. The Communists accept no such code. Anything that supports the Communist cause is right. Lying, treachery, violence are all justified, they say, if they help to spread Communism in the world. With them, honour, loyalty and truth are no virtues if they are embarrassing to their cause.
It is really unnecessary to quote examples, for they can be found in the newspapers any day. But it is wise for us to warn our Scouts against the Communists’ deliberate misuse of language. Even President Roosevelt, who was so anxious to co-operate with the Russians in the task of world-peace, was forced to admit, after his negotiations with Stalin, that the Communists “don’t use language as we do”. They claim, for example, to be a democracy, but as we have seen, their system is the exact opposite of what we understand to be a democracy.
Many other points could be added to the list, but we may perhaps leave it to Scouters to study the question and elaborate the picture when discussing Communism with their senior boys.
Final Episode Coming Shortly: What Can We Do?
From yesterday’s Independent:
The Tories need to understand the appeal of Jamie Oliver if they are reconnect with voters, Andrew Lansley, a contender for the Conservative leadership, said.Mr Lansley, who is challenging Kenneth Clarke to become the champion of the centre-left in the struggle to stop David Davis, said the Tories were out of touch with ordinary voters and seen as too extreme.
In a sideswipe at his former shadow cabinet colleague, Tim Collins, who held the education portfolio, Mr Lansley said: “When Jamie Oliver captured exactly what millions of parents felt about school food, did they hear us respond?
“Where, in our 10 words, was the recognition that family is the backbone of a strong society?”
What’s all this about “our ten words”? Is this a new BBC policy acknowledging the irrelevance of the Conservative Party which means that Tories only get ten words in which to say what they think, to avoid wasting the time of the rest of us? (How many words do the Lib Dems get?)Given that “the family is the backbone of a strong society” is nine words, to Tories might want to turn their attention now to thinking about how they choose that all-important tenth word, which might be the one to make all the difference.
Slightly less frivolously, I think Lansley’s missing the point here. He thinks that if Tories say bland twaddle like “the family is the backbone of a strong society” again and again and again, and jump on populist bandwagons like the Jamie Oliver School Dinners bandwagon, then the Great British Public will pay attention and Vote Conservative.
I think that’s nonsense.
The reason it was useful for certain Labour front-benchers to say “Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime” obsessively in the mid-1990s was that the Party was trying to challenge a public perception of it as being (rightly or wrongly) soft on crime, and obsessive repetition works pretty well in that particular context. But I don’t think there’s any evidence that people aren’t voting Conservative because they think that the Tories don’t think that the F is the B of an S S (though it would be funny if there were).
And if Shadow Ministers keep saying dull things like “the F is the B of an S S”, the media will tend to ignore them and go back to talking to Jamie Oliver, who created the story in the first place, and who will be much more interesting to talk to.
It’s a striking feature of contemporary politics that the Government generally only gets into difficulties when other people not the Tories cause trouble for them, whether Lord Butler, Jamie Oliver or, most recently, the Parliamentary Ombudsman, and the Tories rarely make any real contribution to accentuating the Government’s difficulties on these occasions.
The exception, I suppose, is David Davis’s removal of Beverley Hughes, through cunning parliamentary manoeuvrings rather than through soundbite politics — and such is the desperate condition of the Tory Party these days that bagging the relatively trivial scalp of a junior minister might be one of the things that propels him to the Party leadership, where, I think we can safely say, he will become the fourth Tory leader in a row not to make it through the door of No. 10.
(Why am I thinking about Andrew Lansley and David Davis? I must have better things to do with my time. Yes: I do. Good.)
The fourth type of people who challenge our ideals are the Communists, and they are by far the most dangerous. We will presently examine, step by step, the way in which Communism denies all that we stand for, and is out to destroy it.
But first let us dispose of the plausible argument that by opposing Communism we are indulging in party politics. It is true that in a country like Great Britain the Communists put up candidates for Parliament and in our free system are allowed to do so. But it must be obvious, from what has happened in Russia and in the countries dominated by her, that once the Communist party becomes powerful enough they destroy all parliamentary institutions as known to democracy, and refuse to allow any party but their own. The same would happen here if the Communists gain control.
Whatever may be the idealistic theories of Communism, we can see how it works in Russia and the countries dominated by Russia. It may well be argued that the Russian system has ceased to be Communism as Marx understood it, but that system is called Communism today, and it is that system which is being imposed by the Cominform wherever it has the power to do so.
Let us not forget also, that wherever Communists gain control, the Scout and Guide Movements are suppressed. The Communists themselves realise that Scouting and Guiding cannot be reconciled with Communist beliefs. In Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary and other countries our brothers and sisters are forbidden to carry on their Scouting and Guiding, and are terribly punished if they are caught continuing to do so. That alone should make our members sure they can have nothing to do with Communism.
Moreover, until Communism has gained control it has followed a policy of infiltration into youth movements, and we should be on our guard.
Coming soon: Communism on the Scout Promise and Law.
Episode Two: “By Whom Are We Challenged?” [First instalment here.]
BY WHOM ARE WE CHALLENGED?
There are several forces in the world which challenge our Scout faith, and many of them have little or nothing in common. We should recognise these forces, however seldom some of us happen to meet the types of people who are swayed by them.
The first type are the atheists – those who do not believe in the existence of any God. They may describe themselves as Materialists, Secularists, Humanists and the rest, but they all say “there is no God”. It is clear that they cannot truthfully take the Scout Promise. No atheist can be a Scout.
The second type are the agnostics – those who say they do not know about God, and therefore neither believe nor disbelieve. They Scout Promise demands a positive belief.
People of both types may try to shake our faith, and that is why it is so important for us to know what we believe. So often we are shaken by some plausible argument when there is a perfectly good answer at hand if we only know what it is. It is, perhaps, tempting to our pride to say that man is sufficient of himself, but two world wars have shown to what depths man can sink when he has no standard higher than himself to aim at. Man may be clever enough to split the atom, but does he know how to control the use of its energy?
The third type is very common, and consists of those who are apathetic about religion, and who are content to follow the world’s standards. They challenge us, rather indirectly, by suggesting that we are too pious, and our standards unrealistic. They may form the majority of the people among whom we live, and it is hard for some of us to be different. We are tempted to copy their example and to follow the easy road.
Next up: “Communism”
I thought there was something a bit 2001: A Space Odyssey-ish about the photo at the top of this report.
And I liked this bit:
Before dawn, King Arthur Pendragon, 51, the head battle chieftain of the British Council of Druids, led a troop of warriors – all anthropology students from the University of East London – in a dance honouring mother nature, whose effigy was held aloft and illuminated by fiery torches.
Sometimes it can be quite hard to say why the current government is better than its pre-1997 predeceesors, but the fact that it’s happy for the kind of people who like to hang out at Stonehenge at the Summer Solstice to hang out at Stonehenge at the Summer Solstice, rather than turning the entire area over to a major police operation for a decent chunk of June, is certainly one of them.(See this, for example, in today’s Independent.)
Looking around to see who’s picketing what, I become very confused indeed.
And just down the road this morning outside Oxford University Press there was a pro-potato picket which was protesting (quite wrongly) against the OED, and chanting the most ridiculous slogan I think I’ve ever heard anyone chanting: “Couch Slouch In! Couch Potato Out!” (repeat ad nauseam).
I took the photo below on my way down Walton St this morning, though not getting off my bike for long enough actually to talk to any of these eejits.
Clara Zetkin, German Social Democrat, Sparticist and Communist, born 5 July 1857, died 20 June 1933.
Thanks to David, who’s just given me a copy of a splendid and comparatively unknown pamphlet from around 1950, which I’ll be serialising here at the Virtual Stoa over the next few days. It’s very fine, and not very long. Enjoy.
A CHALLENGE TO SCOUTING:
The menace of Communism
The Boy Scouts Association and the Girl Guides Association realise the dangers which their members face by the menace of the present world situation to the values in which they believe. This statement has accordingly been prepared by the two Associations for the use of Scouters and Guiders, but to avoid clumsy repetitions by the use of such phrases as “Scouters and Guiders”, “Scouts and Guides”, each Association is issuing its own statement, using expressions directly applicable to its own members.
The Purpose of the Statement
It is clear that the fundamental beliefs of Scouting are often challenged in the world of today. On all sides our minds are assailed by propaganda, and much of it is specious and clever. Unless we understand what our faith is, and our reasons for holding it, we can easily be taken in by some of this plausible argument.
It is therefore vital that all of us should know what we believe should carry it into practice in our lives, and should be ready to proclaim it to others. We must also realise by whom these beliefs are challenged, and what our answer must be when challenged.
In this statement we seek to remind Scouters of the fundamental beliefs of Scouting, over which there can be no compromise, and to ask them to ensure that their Scouts are well founded in these beliefs by the time that they go out to work, for it is then that the full challenge of the world may meet them for the first time.
We can deal with these great subjects in outline only, but those who feel the need of pursuing them at greater length are recommended to turn to the short list of books in the Appendix.
WHAT WE BELIEVE
Our beliefs are summed up in the Scout Promise which we have take:
“On my honour I promise that I will do my best -
To do my duty to God, and the King,
To help other people at all times,
To obey the Scout Law.”
We believe also in the Scout method of training, which aims at the development of the character of each individual, through the Patrol System, the Badge System and Woodcraft.
Let us look at our beliefs more closely:
Duty to God
This comes first, because we believe that God is the Creator and the Preserver of all mankind, and has revealed Himself to us. The claims of God on our life and service are total, and are indeed the only total claims that can legitimately be made upon men. His love of us demands in return our love, devotion and duty.
It is not enough to say that we accept the teaching about God but that we are not prepared to take part in worship. It is the duty of every Scout to carry out the obligations of his faith.
Duty to the King
The King is the constitutional head of the State that gives us protection and safeguards our liberties. We are therefore pledged to be loyal and law-abiding citizens, to take our share in the good government of our country through our work and our votes, and to take no part in any subversive action.
Helping other people at all times
As citizens of a free country, we are free to keep ourselves to ourselves, or to be good neighbours, as may please us, but as Scouts we are pledged to be good citizens and to do good turns to our neighbours whenever we can. Our individual and corporate good turns are an expression of our religious faith, for loving our neighbours as ourselves is one of the great Commandments.
Obeying the Scout Law
The Scout Law lays down a high standard of behaviour, which we are proud to do our best to maintain. As all men are precious in God’s sight, it matters how we treat each other. So, whatever the standard in the world around us, we expect our Scouts (as we expect of ourselves) to be honourable, loyal, friendly, courteous and cheerful – in fact, to live the good life.
The Scout method of Training
Our method aims at producing good citizens who, through their training, think for themselves, display initiative, and are self-reliant. Each individual counts. But as none of us is good enough by our unaided efforts to live up to the highest that we know, we realise that it is only by asking God for His help and by faith in Him that we can be our best.
Next Instalment [coming soon!]: “By Whom Are We Challenged?”