Thomas Hodgskin, Ricardian socialist, and very possibly the major pre-Marxian socialist political economist. (I tend to read few chapters of Capital vol.1 as Marx’s attack on Hodgskin, but maybe that’s just me.) He went to sea when he was 12, and served with the Navy until he retired at 25, publishing An Essay on Naval Discipline in 1813. Having travelled in Germany and moved to Edinburgh, he returned impoverished to London in 1822 and started writing for the Morning Chronicle. His major works were published over the following years: Labour Defended Against the Claims of Capital in 1825, a course of lectures for the mechanics’ institute published in 1827 as Popular Political Economy, and The Artificial and Natural Right of Property Contrasted in 1832. (He later wrote pamphlets for the Anti-Corn Law League, and wrote for The Economist, which I suppose helps to explain why his works appear at both the Online Library of Liberty and over at marxists.org.) Born at Chatham, 12 December 1787; died Feltham, 21 August 1869.
“Although I argue vehemently against modern pop music, on grounds of its musical incompetence, verbal impoverishment and general morbidity, narcissism and salaciousness; although I fiercely object to disco dancing as a sacrilege against the human form and a collective rejection of civilised courtship; although I defend reels, minuets, galliards, sarabands and (as limiting cases) waltzes and polkas as the only ways in which ordinary humanity should dare to put its sexual nature on festive display, and although I regard the 12-bar blues and the flattened subdominant seventh as the lowest forms of vulgarity in music, I find rock’n’roll in general, and Elvis in particular, irresistible, and would happily dance away the night to it. I cannot explain the thrill of delight with which I hear the first bars of Jailhouse Rock or the eagerness with which I at once search the vicinity for a partner: but there it is, appalling proof that, despite all my efforts, I am human.”
… Years ago a man who worked for the council sweeping the streets where I grew up used to wear a large Viking helmet (with horns, yes, yes, I know). Somebody wrote to the local newspaper to say that it might frighten elderly residents, whereupon somebody else replied to say that they’d really have to be very old if they had childhood memories of being scared by Vikings.
UPDATE [5pm]: Or not, as the case may be (and as Dan spotted in the comments).
BBC Radio Five Live’s Pods and Blogs show recently covered the Iraqi employees story, and the blog-based campaign in support of asylum in the UK for those threatened by death-squads in Southern Iraq. You can listen to the relevant segment here, which includes an interview with a man who has been working as a translator with American forces, now in the USA, and with Dan Hardie, too, who stresses that wars have consequences.
If you haven’t already, do write to your MP about this important issue (though a real letter would be even better: the postcode for the House of Commons is SW1A 0AA). If you want to get up to speed on where things stand right now, Dan’s blog is probably the best place to start.