Pride and Prejudice was a blast

I’ve recently had the pleasure of reading Jane Austen’s classic novel, Pride and Prejudice. The reasons for it being a classic are quite clear, all of which I will explain.

It has a plot which, on consideration, is actually quite extensive, and I won’t attempt to plan here. However it is to be found at: http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/pride/summary.html

A number of points need to be raised with relation to this work, not least the flowing voice of Jane Austen as a writer. She livens a relatively dull and mundane subject to something that I couldn’t stop reading with her enticing and active writing style. It should also be noted that this handy tool of intriguing the reader is probably the reason why it is so widely read today, even though it was published in 1813.

Austen lightens the load of old-fashioned text with familiarity and an observant writing style. Although initially, the voice seems childish and simplistic, it develops into a coursing river of literature which carries the reader all the way down to the last page.

This was quite a good read, and taught me a lot of the situation for similar people in similar times. I can certainly say that I have a better grasp of early 1800s society than I ever had before, and all thanks to Pride and Prejudice. All though I wasn’t there at the time, and have no PhD, I would assert that this novel can be used as a historical text as well as a recreational read. It certainly tells us a lot about what life was like then, and perfectly captures the intrigues and vices of that time.

Whether the works are accurate or not, Jane Austen describes them in a way which is keenly observant and flowingly descriptive.

There are definitely some patriarchal themes in the work. When Darcy has to step in to save Lydia from disgrace is a good example. But I have no problem with this, as I can tell that a) patriarchy isn’t always a bad thing, and b) Austen was only writing within the context of the times, and is in no way to be faulted for mirroring the world she knew in her novel.

The story is, I think, a perfect size, and another twenty pages would have made it tedious to finish. I read the ‘Penguin Popular Classics’ issue, and the copy was 299  pages long.

I found it to be a splendidly written and charming novel which I was happy to spend time reading.

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The Sunday Times makes me angry

Have you ever had the sudden urge to reach through the newspaper that you’re reading and strangle the writer on the other side? Such is the feeling I get whenever I will myself-nay, ‘dare’ myself-to read through the Comment section in the Sunday Times. Pick a random page and you can be sure to view such infuriating ignorance about pretty much everything that would make you want to kill yourself.

Today, the source of my suicidal anger was the columnist Charles Clover. It’s almost as if he used to belong to the vast swathe of Tories with their head in the sand about Climate Change, and is now realising that we have to do something about the problem or see our civilisation destroyed.

But the spectacular feet-dragging he uses to make this shift is what really annoys me. Instead of joining with the Green lobby, and demanding higher industrial standards and lower carbon emissions, he has taken to targeting them with queer articles which promote strange ideas.

Sure, some of these ideas are good, and should be looked into, but certainly not at the cost of abandoning main Green initiatives like renewable energy. For some reason he joins with hundreds of other right wingers in his strange, random and obscure hatred of wind-turbines.

He spends this week’s column ‘Shut that cat flap: jut one of the easy solutions eco-moaners ignore’ writing about the benefits of introducing green ideas into urban architecture. Talking about Nigel Dunnett’s ‘Blue Water Roof Garden’:

“…a green policy where the sun’s rays go into carbon-absorbing plants and the ‘urban heat island effect’ is minimised. All in the interests of preventing flooding.”

My response to this? Great. I couldn’t agree more. But why do you spend so much time distancing yourself from other Greens, portraying them as hypocritical imbeciles who don’t understand the true nature of environmentalism, when this IS a mainstream Green idea?

The Greens have always wanted urban agriculture. It is a prudent idea to use our urban space more effectively, not just to reduce the pressure on our countryside but also to cut transport emissions. It would do all the great things which Clover talks about, but being in favour of this doesn’t make you special and the idea certainly isn’t original.

He then goes on to talk about the pros and cons of re-introducing wildlife back into the countryside.

“Sir David Attenborough tried to tell some hard truths…His theory of why we are so devoted to our countryside is that we were the first to lose it in the Industrial Revolution…Why are so many species declining? Because of the growth of the human population, he argues.”

The first statement I have no problem with, but the assertion that human population is the only or even the main factor in environmental degradation is nonsense. Most of these problems, the decline in bumblebees for instance, have arisen from the never-ending greed of Free Market Capitalism. If the right government restrictions were put in place, we would be able to live more within our material boundaries.

If we didn’t have such a rampant consumer culture, then perhaps we might be able to start living within twice our means. That would be a start. The vast disparity between different countries and their consumption is shocking.

If everyone on the planet was to consume as much as the average US citizen, we would need five earths. Such would be the strains upon our planet. You don’t have to be Charles Clover to realise that we only have one.

Edinburgh, with Monsanto Protesters

Edinburgh originated its life as a Celtic hillfort, and remained as such during Roman rule. However it was eventually taken by the Angles. It was reclaimed for Scotland in AD 950.

Now it is the capital of Scotland, and the location for the Scottish Parliament, a hugely underwhelming building marked for its obscure and no doubt, costly architecture. However, on a walk through the city, I was treated to some beautiful buildings and architecture.

Although Edinburgh is undoubtedly brimming with self-righteous hipsters, the whole place has a vintage and cultured theme which appealed to the champagne socialist within me.

Here are some of the pictures that I took.

A view of the castle
A view of the castle
comic duo
comic duo
rather skillful photography
rather skillful photography
walter scott memorial
Walter Scott memorial

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scottish parliament
Scottish parliament

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castle rock
castle rock
monsanto protesters
Monsanto protesters

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hog roast!
hog roast!

After I’d seen the Parliament, I noticed a throng of protesters marching along the front of the building as I was coming out. They were shouting slogans against Monsanto, the global food giant.

I’ve invited my sister to make sense of their resentment for all our benefit, which unfortunately will have to wait until next time, as she’s awfully busy. But not to worry, it will come eventually!

How Globalisation has fuelled terrorism

In the wake of Wednesday’s horrific and abhorrent attack against the soldier Lee Rigby, no doubt there will be several ill-considered reprisals against the Muslim community, and let there be no doubt that such actions will be no less horrific or abhorrent to human civilisation than what happened on Wednesday. As what we presume to be an ‘advanced’ society, it is important that we don’t give in to such reckless biblical justice.
You all know (or can at least guess) my attitude to the Iraq War. However I have come to believe that the war in Afghanistan is not only justified but necessary for the continued survival of the Western democracies.
I have also spoken of how we must, instead of focusing our energy into condemning terrorist atrocities, look at the root causes behind such hideous acts.
The current global misunderstanding about development has led to a global economy which plays right into the hands of TNCs and cuts off Third World Development at the source. The IMF’s obsession with the evils of protectionism have lead to an outlook on global trade which doesn’t rely on historical lessons at all. Britain, the US and all the other developed countries, they didn’t develop with the kind of policies that the Third World is having shoved down their throats today.
They developed by protecting their own emerging or ‘fledgling’ industries from foreign competition through aggressive trade policies, only when the economy was fairly prosperous did they invent the notion of ‘free trade’ to kick away the ladder from other countries.
In Africa especially, countries have been forced to open their borders far too early than is healthy under the back handed blackmailing of the IMF, through ‘Conditional Loans’.
The heavy handed TNCs move in and immediately wipe out the domestic industries through aggressive under cutting. The home industries can’t compete. They are driven out of business and into poverty, as is the country.
Neo-Liberalism’s obssession with private out-sourcing has forced the people to look to religious institutions for things that were once provided by the state. If you were cared for all your life by Islam and its preachers, you would be more inclined to go to war at their bequest. But beyond that, it is a the general anti-western sentiment that Globalisation has provoked which really feeds this vile behaviour.
Today’s world trade is thoroughly one sided, but the public remains woefully uninformed about the situation due to a biased establishment which just won’t open its eyes. It remains addicted to a global economy based on  ridiculous levels of excess, scandalous levels of inequality and injustice, and blatant abuse of the workers and the environment. The quest for economic growth above all else has led to environmental destruction of the highest degree, and ethical standards of the very lowest.
It is this way of doing business, this hideous bastard of a status-quo which has disillusioned the people of the Third World with the garish culture and imperial bullying of the West. And this is an equation which starts- not to justify Wednesday’s events- but to explain similar actions with which we have become familiar over the past decade.
Before we can justify fighting for the survival of the West, we first have to make the West worth fighting for. Reforms are needed, and they must come soon. Not only to our crumbling western societies, but to the global economy. The abolition of those bodies of western interference (namely the IMF and the World Bank) would be but a start. We need to thoroughly rethink the way we conduct ourselves, and realise that terrorism is but a symptom of the wider problem.

In memory of Drummer Lee Rigby

What’s worse than a Tory?

A SMUG Tory. Here’s a list.

Tim Montgomery.

Dominic Lawson.

Graeme Archer.

And what’s worse than that? A Tory who actually believes that redistribution of wealth is what causes a ‘crony capitalist system’. The type of people who believe in the free market because they think it will diminish the role of corporations, which apparently are bodies of ‘state-interference’. This ridiculous notion that small businesses will explode into action (taking the rest of us with them) as soon as this burdensome government regulation is removed, is simply preposterous, and totally unfounded in fact, and therefore needs to be squashed at source. In a free market system, one of the founding principles is competition. When businesses, people or things in general compete, there are always losers. They are usually the small businesses who are trampled underfoot in a wave of government de-regulation, and their employees, of course.

The type of floundering idiots who ACTUALLY think that ‘the market’, an unorganised system of what can only be called greedy bastards, will work together (whilst still working against each other of course) for the benefit of us all. The evidence for such a grand notion is rather lacking.

The type of incumbent IMBECILE who always painstakingly draws the line between ‘equality of opportunity’ and ‘equality of outcome’ in debates, as if the whole debate, that which has spanned more than a century, can be simplified into those two things. When the gap between rich and poor is less scandalously wide, social mobility is enhanced, not diminished.

When people are born into continued financial security, either by the promise of government intervention should things go wrong, or from the financial security of their family ensured by a living wage, then they are more likely to start one of your beloved ‘small businesses’.

Neo-liberal thinking is centred around a mistaken faith in market-forces, the only thing I’m daring to suggest, is that market forces will only be worthy of our faith once market participation is spread to as many people as possible.

That isn’t done by stripping workers of the regulation which protects them, it’s done by paying workers a living wage so that they can do things like: buy shares in their own or another company, start their own company, make more ethical consumer choices, stop relying on government benefits, and pay more tax as well (which will then go into better services and so on).

I’ll refer some crazy right-wing YouTubers to this as well. You know who you are.

MarxistMax