A reply to Catherine Bennett


by Sunny
20th January, 2010 at 2:40 pm    

On the Sunday just gone past, Catherine Bennett mentioned me in an article taking a shot at “the mob” – especially on Twitter and blogs.
Here’s my reply:

This weekend Catherine Bennett castigated me, along with others, for being part of a mob that had taken exception to the prospect of Rod Liddle being appointed editor of the Independent. She’s right – I refuse to buy the Indy ever again (or link to it) if Liddle is appointed editor. More than 4,000 people share my concern, and with good reason.

In all these cases the so-called “mob” has been accused of suppressing free speech. But what you can hear screaming isn’t the Twitter or Facebook mob, it’s newspaper columnists terrified at the idea that their critics could organise themselves and do damage to their reputations.

What the likes of Bennett, Cohen and others protesting about the “mob” don’t seem to understand is that these are real people, their own readers, trying to do something about the world around them. They join Facebook groups, retweet about court injunctions or state #welovetheNHS because, occasionally, they have the opportunity to be part of an spontaneous movement that can have a big impact. Not all lead somewhere, of course, but some do. And the more people realise the power of the collective the more they’ll join in.

Read the whole thing here


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35 Comments below   |  

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  1. pickles

    Blog post:: A reply to Catherine Bennett http://bit.ly/6Fp1t7


  2. Rich Holman

    RT @pickledpolitics: Blog post:: A reply to Catherine Bennett on the "Twitter mob" accusations http://bit.ly/6Fp1t7 (via @commentisfree)


  3. comment is free

    RT @pickledpolitics: Blog post:: A reply to Catherine Bennett on the "Twitter mob" accusations http://bit.ly/6Fp1t7


  4. Sarah

    RT @pickledpolitics: Blog post:: A reply to Catherine Bennett on the "Twitter mob" accusations http://bit.ly/6Fp1t7 //Excellent piece




  1. Kulvinder — on 20th January, 2010 at 4:50 pm  

    Although im not fussed about who becomes the editor of the indy, if the new owners want to shoot themselves in the foot its literally their business. Rod Liddle seems to deliberately want to antagonise opinion – for the worse – even when what hes advocating is ‘worthy’.

    His latest blog in the spectator for example says MPs should support the EDM condemning Uganda for their stance on homosexuality, not exactly contentious you may think, but then he qualifies it with

    This is fundamentalist African savagery, although Harry does not make this point in his EDM.

    Presumably when the likes of Archbishop Desmond Tutu support gay rights, and show themselves to be more liberal than many in the West they’re demonstrating European enlightenment?

  2. marvin — on 20th January, 2010 at 6:39 pm  

    Presumably when the likes of Archbishop Desmond Tutu support gay rights, and show themselves to be more liberal than many in the West they’re demonstrating European enlightenment?

    It would indeed be logical to say that TuTu is demonstrating enlightened European values. Where else is homosexuality so acceptable Kulvinder? The Muslim world? India? Africa? The Bible Belt in America?

    I think Sunny is right in assertion about hacks; they fear the populist/popular movements that come about through social networking, it directly threatens their preaching power over the rest of us…

    … I still can’t get over the idea of Rod Liddle for Indy editor. Boy did I laugh…

  3. Kulvinder — on 20th January, 2010 at 7:26 pm  

    It would indeed be logical to say that TuTu is demonstrating enlightened European values.

    Then the Ugandans are demonstrating the savage European ones; their laws are derived from the european colonial christians.

    By all means accept or make grandiose claims about how european thought has affected the world, but accept it in its totality, not just the bits that are convenient.

    Where else is homosexuality so acceptable Kulvinder? The Muslim world? India? Africa? The Bible Belt in America?

    I’ve tried looking for ‘the muslim world’ but couldn’t find it; i did find a bunch of disparate cultures that dislike such generalisation based solely on their faith – as much as im sure you dislike observations about ‘whitey’.

    Turkey and Jordan obviously both haven’t got laws criminalising homosexuality and the problem is more of social taboo. India has legalised it but likewise its a social taboo in the same way it was in England in 1967.

    But yeah, Desmond Tutu lives in a country that has greater marriage rights than most in the EU; obviously they’re the ones copying us.

  4. Kulvinder — on 20th January, 2010 at 7:32 pm  

    nb i take it we’re now agreeing with Dalbir if he makes an observation about the Iraq war being about European savagery.

    I mean i can’t think of a history of the Africans sailing to China to colonise them or invade them to satisfy their energy or natural resource needs; or the Chinese and Indians doing the same to the arabs; or the ‘muslim world’ doing the same to the aboriginals that lived on the land we now call north america.

  5. Don — on 20th January, 2010 at 7:35 pm  

    Kulvinder,

    their laws are derived from the european colonial christians.

    True, but as you are probably aware far more recent input from US evangelicals has seriously stoked the hell-fire. They backed away from it a little when challenged, but those guys are still very active.

  6. Kulvinder — on 20th January, 2010 at 8:00 pm  

    Yeah but the US evangelicals would argue their values aren’t obscure facets of christianity that spontaneously appeared but are studiously in keeping with the evangelicanism and protestantism that came from europe in general and britain in particular.

    The fact most ‘europeans’ (for the sake of argument defined as the EU) aren’t evangelical in that sense now doesn’t detract from the fact the movement originated there.

    Its nonsensical to make the claim that the africans are savages for not following ‘european enlightenment’ when their savagery was born of ‘european savagery’ and is sustained – in proxy – by ‘european savagery’.

    My problem with Rod Liddle is his use of language plays up what id consider be racist stereotyping whereas he or his followers would be up in arms or in complete denial if you mentioned ‘european savagery’

    To be blunt its the irritating tendency towards diatribes against identity politics based on race whilst effectively raising the issue.

    I’m genuinely confused about whether it is or it isn’t political correctness gone mad if you mention or don’t mention race.

    If the Ugandans are African savages then the South Africans are the enlightened Africans displaying ‘moral (in a legal sense) superiority’ to most of the EU. If Desmond Tutu is showing ‘european enlightenment’ despite most of europe not being as ‘enlightened’ as him, then arguing the Ugandans just spontaneously decided to be homophobes is ignoring vast swathes of history.

    Is resource driven colonial imperialism a european trait? i’d argue no, that painting with such a broad brush is racist; but if we’re going to start pointing fingers at the savage africans its only fair to point out that no other continent has a history of repeatedly invading and colonising the other continents.

  7. marvin — on 20th January, 2010 at 8:29 pm  

    he or his followers would be up in arms or in complete denial if you mentioned ‘european savagery’

    Tell me, in what European country is it savage? I don’t think people would be ‘up in arms’ I think they’d be thinking you are living in a dream world or living in the past.

    Its nonsensical to make the claim that the africans are savages for not following ‘european enlightenment’ when their savagery was born of ‘european savagery’ and is sustained – in proxy – by ‘european savagery’.

    You’re getting yourself in to a lather.

    The fact is not following “European enlightenment” values – equal rights, humans rights, freedom of speech – will indeed result in ‘savagery’. That Europeans were somewhat savage, in the past, is neither here nor there. Before the Europeans arrived with their moralistic fire & brimstone, there was worse proceeding in terms of innocent deaths through ritual or tribal justice.

    arguing the Ugandans just spontaneously decided to be homophobes is ignoring vast swathes of history.

    Christ, how far do you want to go back?

    Yes, over the past hundreds of years Arabs colonised in the north and Europeans in the South with their respective fire & brimstone religions. Your point is? You want to talk about the Na’vi like innocence of the Africans hundreds or thousands of years ago?!

  8. Kulvinder — on 20th January, 2010 at 8:41 pm  

    nb back on topic, can’t you just take catherine bennett out on a, i dunno ‘platonic date’ and change her mind? its not a dinnerparty but…

    I’m curious though, if these messages had come out after he was made editor, or if it was say paul dacre; would she still have the same opinion?

    In general though the MSM is fine with dictating who we’re meant to hate and love even if that means abrupt about turns. The problem isn’t the rampaging hordes of twitterers, rather its the fact the rampaging hordes of twitterers are acting on their own initiative; the criticism wasn’t developed and advocated by any paper in general or the tabloids in particular.

  9. Refresh — on 20th January, 2010 at 8:48 pm  

    What is disappointing about this post is that it does not even touch on the real decision-makers ie the owners.

    In the age of free communications, it would be nice to see online journalists and bloggers club together and move into print. Or even generate interest amongst small investors and buy up newspapers or whole media chains. Where the ownership resides mainly in the hands of the commentariat.

  10. Don — on 20th January, 2010 at 9:02 pm  

    @#6

    Paras 1&2,

    Yes, I know. I just didn’t think it necessary to make it explicit that the one derived from the other. I hadn’t realised you were defining European as the EU.

    As for the rest,

    … no other continent has a history of repeatedly invading and colonising the other continents.

    I’m not sure why the continental aspect matters. I’m sure it didn’t to the people involved. Didn’t the Ottoman Empire cover three continents? And it was odd that in your previous post you cited China as an example of non-invasive, non-exploitative states.

    Are you seriously agreeing with Dalbir that colonisation and exploitation are uniquely European traits?

  11. Kulvinder — on 20th January, 2010 at 9:13 pm  

    Tell me, in what European country is it savage? I don’t think people would be ‘up in arms’ I think they’d be thinking you are living in a dream world or living in the past.

    I don’t understand the context of the question in relation to what you quoted, but the suggestion that say the the european savages are responsible for the problems in the middle east wouldn’t on the whole be rationally debated but ‘argued around’ with increasing levels of vitriol.

    I also don’t understand what you mean by ‘living in the past’; the events may have been in the past but their ramifications are in the present.

    You’re getting yourself in to a lather.

    Nah im calm, ive had this discussion loads of times, its all mapped out.

    The fact is not following “European enlightenment” values – equal rights, humans rights, freedom of speech – will indeed result in ’savagery’

    Just to clarify you mentioned the US bible belt above, and i took that as you arguing that the US is distinct from Europe, which is why i answered don’s question about the evangelicals the way i did; by bringing in ‘freedom of speech’ im unsure how exactly you’re juxtaposing that with the EU as a whole or any state in particular.

    There is no freedom of speech.

    That exists in the US, i can’t wear a swastika arm band in germany, i can’t call soldiers murderes in the uk, i can’t question the holocaust in france etc.

    How exactly are we (you) dealing with the US; it’ll just be easier to make the points clearer.

    The context of ‘equality and humanity’ is cultural dependant, but not unqiuely ‘european’; its arguable, for instance, that sikhism or buddhism advocated the same ideals under a religious framework, before 1951 its certainly possible to make an argument they were more successful than the nations that would become ‘european’ (taking into consideration colonialism, womens rights etc);

    Id certainly agree that since the paris treaty – or the treaty of london (if we’re considering the CoE) those values though not uniquely european have been upheld to a far greater degree within europe, but that isn’t something that happened in the distant past, and when people try to juxtapose those values with ‘european history’ before that time.

    Well it becomes a mess, but if you want we’ll go down that route.

    Before the Europeans arrived with their moralistic fire & brimstone, there was worse proceeding in terms of innocent deaths through ritual or tribal justice.

    What everywhere?!!?

    But nah there wasn’t, yes there were some practises that were outlawed (sati being the one that is always mentioned), but on the whole the savages were just as savage as the invaders, only less well armed. Britain didn’t rule india by imposing superior british morals, rather they just left each community to rule itself.

    In india anyway the point was having the biggest stick to hit each kingdom with.

    Neither were the superior british morals evident in china, where the point was to get as much of the nation hooked on opium as possible.

    Christ, how far do you want to go back?

    However far you want to go back! you define it i’ll follow!

    For a heads up though the good bits of europe (eu) have only really occured in the last 20 or so years, before then, and even considering the EU/CoE theres messy colonial endgames in algeria and kenya, the overthrow of iranian democracy etc.

    But the point is you choose!

    You want to talk about the Na’vi like innocence of the Africans hundreds or thousands of years ago?!

    No i want to talk about the fact their ‘savagery’ is human; not african.

    Incidently and tangentially, Avatar was offensive on every level, and 3D didn’t impress me that much.

  12. Kulvinder — on 20th January, 2010 at 9:23 pm  

    I hadn’t realised you were defining European as the EU

    Noone defined it so i had to, we could go by the CoE if you want; although that’ll mean including the turks as europeans and that upsets people and causes confusion when dealing with islam.

    But yeah fair enough, the ottoman empire included as europe.

    The alternative is an ad-hoc definition of europe where we just pick states we happen to admire.

    Again your call.

    I’m not sure why the continental aspect matters.

    uhm

    This is fundamentalist African savagery, although Harry does not make this point in his EDM.

    And it was odd that in your previous post you cited China as an example of non-invasive, non-exploitative states.

    No i just pointed out the Chinese haven’t ever invaded an arab territory

    Are you seriously agreeing with Dalbir that colonisation and exploitation are uniquely European traits?

    Depends, are you seriously agreeing that the Ugandans are African savages and that Desmond Tutu is displaying European enlightement?

    I know what im saying, im trying to work out what you’re saying.

  13. wardytron — on 20th January, 2010 at 10:02 pm  

    Those Twitter campaigns are entirely loathsome and awful and were the direct reason why I deleted my account on Twitter. They were almost exactly like the outraged throng who were egged on by the Daily Mail into that strange censorious frenzy against Jonathan Ross & Russell Brand.

    The difference was that the Mail readers were at least able to derive some legitimacy from the fact that as licence fee payers they had a right to complain about what they were paying for. The Twitterers on the other hand, ranting so tediously in chorus about Jan Moir, for example, were clearly not Mail readers, and could very easily avoid Moir’s words, but they went out of their way to find something offensive, broadcast and amplify it and demand retribution, the tossers.

    It’s a shame because there are so many very funny people on Twitter.

  14. Kulvinder — on 20th January, 2010 at 10:15 pm  

    Thats fair enough, but i wouldn’t say its an intrinsic failure of twitter (in my opinion); or that you should delete your account because of it.

    Its just you happen to disagree with the cause.

    A trivial example of the same phenomenon was the whole xmas number 1 thing; were all of us who bought the RATM record ‘ganging up’ and singling out Joe McElderry? possibly a little, but i don’t think it harmed him or caused any long lasting pain.

    If you have such tools to organise obviously some causes that use those tools you will disagree with, but on the whole i think most people will know most of the time what the ‘right’ thing to do is.

  15. wardytron — on 20th January, 2010 at 10:43 pm  

    No, I don’t think it’s a failure of Twitter as a medium at all. I actually thought it was a really good medium, and really quite fun if you knew people like themanwhofell and iamjamesward. But I wanted to keep causes at arm’s length, not because there were ones I didn’t agree with, but because I wanted it to be a corner of the internet that wasn’t about that.

    At its best Twitter was like being in a conversation with loads and loads of really clever and funny and inventive people. But you always ended up reading someone retweeting someone else’s furious link to a Daily Mail article they never bloody had to read in the first place.

  16. Don — on 20th January, 2010 at 10:46 pm  

    Noone defined it so i had to Why?

    we could go by the CoE if you want; although that’ll mean including the turks as europeans I hadn’t realised that Turkey was primarily Anglican. What on earth are you talking about?

    But yeah fair enough, the ottoman empire included as europe. But is wasn’t European: it had European colonies, but you can’t just re-define it as European because it fits your defined European model of systematic ‘savagery’

    I’m not sure why the continental aspect matters.

    uhm

    uhm? Bloody ‘uhm’?

    Don’t ‘uhm’ me, Kulvinder. It was a legitimate point. Somebody made a reference to Africa, fine. You are making the argument that crossing contintal lines is somehow more culpable than colonising and exploiting those with whom you share a shelf.

    No i just pointed out the Chinese haven’t ever invaded an arab territory Geography would explain that. Why does it matter whose territory they invaded?


    Depends, are you seriously agreeing that the Ugandans are African savages …

    Are you talking to me?

    I know what im saying, im trying to work out what you’re saying.

    I think I’m speaking clearly.

  17. Kulvinder — on 20th January, 2010 at 11:25 pm  

    But is wasn’t European: it had European colonies, but you can’t just re-define it as European because it fits your defined European model of systematic ’savagery’

    Alright, before that time (ie before the ottoman empire); how was it not european???

    It was the defacto continuation of the roman empire!!

    Why did it become ‘non european’ whilst the ottomans ruled that land?

    So ‘that land’ was apparently ‘european’ whilst under diocletian, then becomes ‘non european’ whilst the west is apparently european, then it colonises europe, and now its half in europe and half out of europe (depending on whether you’re looking at membership of the CoE or EU).

    Which is all why i like to be precise in what people envisage as europe during these discussions.

    Don’t ‘uhm’ me, Kulvinder.

    This genuinely made me laugh; what are you going to do, give me a detention? i kid! i kid!

    It was a legitimate point. Somebody made a reference to Africa, fine.

    Not just ‘fine’ it defines the debate.

    You are making the argument that crossing contintal lines is somehow more culpable than colonising and exploiting those with whom you share a shelf.

    Because it is more culpable. Invading and exploiting your immediate neighbour is one thing; in addition to your neighbours invading and exploiting those that live thousands of miles away – who had previous no contact or quarrel with you – is in a different category of culpability.

    If you agree that aggressive colonial expansionism is a bad thing then saying the most aggressive colonial expansionists who took over the entire planet aren’t as bad as those who took over their immediate neighbours is frankly lunacy.

    If its bad, then those who did it to the greatest degree – including colonising those they’d only just ‘discovered’ is worse?!

    Why does it matter whose territory they invaded?

    In keeping with the above, id say it mattered where the territory was relative to the invaders.

    The Chinese are imperialists; this is a bad thing. Its a bad thing if you’re their immediate neighbour, but its on another level of badness if their imperialism has its sights on the those thousands of miles away.

    Are you talking to me?

    Well you’re the only one here. Who the fuck do you think i kid i kid again!

    Its pretty simple don, really. I don’t think the Ugandans are an example of ‘African savagery’ and i find such phrases to be racist as they group together a diverse group of people based on the continent they live on and then impose them traits you think are common to those people. As a counterpoint to Liddle i commented on how he’d juxtapose that with someone like Desmond Tutu, the point being the ‘bad’ blackman was the african savage; the ‘good’ blackman was aping european enlightement.

    Marvin did think it was an example of european enlightement and we got into a discussion where i disputed that; then i think you got confused.

  18. Kulvinder — on 20th January, 2010 at 11:35 pm  

    nb no obviously i don’t think colonialism and imperialism are uniquely european (unless you think the ugandans are african savages); but yes i do think certain aspects of european imperialism were amongst the worst in history BUT the obvious counter example in a non european culture being as expansionist would be the mongols.

  19. soru — on 21st January, 2010 at 12:41 am  

    No i just pointed out the Chinese haven’t ever invaded an arab territory

    Incidentally, that’s not actually true.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Talas

    The first occurred in 715 when Alutar, the new king of Ferghana, was installed with the help of the Arabs and Tibetans. The deposed king Ikhshid fled to Kucha (seat of Anxi Protectorate), and sought for Chinese intervention. The Chinese sent 10,000 troops under Zhang Xiaosong to Ferghana. He defeated the Arab-puppet Alutar at Namangan and reinstalled Ikhshid.

    Perhaps more significantly, I kind of disagree with the idea that given the pattern of actions ‘travel, trade, exploit, massacre’, it’s the ‘travel’ that’s the problem. Invading your neighbours is difficult and bloody, because they are probably about as good at fighting at you. You can go 100 miles from London and end up in a country it never successfully conquered: that’s hardly true of Beijing.

    Picking off low-hanging fruit, to the point where sometimes the conquests could be carried out by corporations or even individuals, is hardly the same thing at all.

    Also, Avatar is a brilliant film, provided you have a intuitive grasp on the difference between speculation and metaphor in fiction.

  20. Kulvinder — on 21st January, 2010 at 2:35 am  

    Incidentally, that’s not actually true.

    Yeah i knew, but that was the arabs, well the caliphate, attacking the chinese; given the fact the tang dynasty was retaking what at the time it saw as its own territory id hardly call it an invasion.

    The mongols were later a far bigger threat

    I kind of disagree with the idea that given the pattern of actions ‘travel, trade, exploit, massacre’, it’s the ‘travel’ that’s the problem.

    My point wasn’t that the ‘travel’ was the problem rather the most aggressive threats/expansionists are by their very nature more dangerous because they pose a problem outside their own vicinity.

    Colonialists don’t seek to ‘travel’ but expand, the journey isn’t the problem its the fact they have a desire to occupy territory that isn’t merely in dispute with their neigbours

    Theres an obvious and strong correlation between the aggressiveness of a civilisation and the amount of territory it conquers aside from its neighbours, as such where the conquered territory is, is a justifiable indicator of how expansionist the civilisation was.

    Invading your neighbours is difficult and bloody, because they are probably about as good at fighting at you.

    Id agree to an extent, but that doesn’t explain why the french, spanish and germans were constantly at each others and our throats.

    You can go 100 miles from London and end up in a country it never successfully conquered: that’s hardly true of Beijing.

    Yeah but that depends on how you define country and/or ethnicity, within 100miles of beijing almost everyone is han; london also never tried to conquer every place 100miles to the south of it.

  21. Kulvinder — on 21st January, 2010 at 3:01 am  

    Also, Avatar is a brilliant film, provided you have a intuitive grasp on the difference between speculation and metaphor in fiction.

    The blue monkeys were simplistic combinations of various native american and african ‘tribes’, and they displayed a woeful lack of progressiveness relying instead on what was literally natural forces; where was their agency?

    i hated the monkey people as soon as the stupid pure spirit thing told the monkey woman not to kill the avatar human when he was fighting the dog things that first night

    And i hated the stupid humans as well, they were overly simplistic corporate types who for whatever reason chose to fight the monkeys themselves instead of finding something the other monkey tribes wanted and getting them to do all the fighting.

    And tbh if you have that level of technology why not just bomb the site from orbit?

    So on the one hand you had silly idealised native/american/african tribes who lived a communal lifestyle at one with nature (which makes my individualistic anarchism shudder); they hadn’t progressed much beyond bows and arrows because they relied on their gaia god.

    On the other hand the humans who chose to impose their choices on the world and displayed progressiveness and development were shown to operate in a highly inefficient corporatist environment.

    So do i choose the monkey people whose land is being exploited against their will but whose existence is ultimately against everything id stand for-the-tree-worshipping-commie-communal-wasters; or do i go with the humans who despite their intelligence are shown to act counter to their interests at every turn

    In the end i decided i hated them all.

    And the 3D really wasn’t that impressive, i took the glasses of for awhile (when the lady human monkey dies) and the ‘shock’ at seeing the movie in 2d was almost as great as the 3d shock when i first put them on, ie the novelty of 3d wears off so quickly that taking the glasses off makes the movie look fresh and interesting.

    Also it was too long.

  22. Dalbir — on 21st January, 2010 at 7:03 am  

    Are you seriously agreeing with Dalbir that colonisation and exploitation are uniquely European traits?

    Wtf!! Don’t subscribe things I don’t believe in to me please!!

    Your statement is false. I don’t think they are uniquely ‘European traits’, just that certain Europeans have been at the forefront of this type of shit for a good few centuries now and judging by recent global events, given a chance, they’d love to revive the old ways with a vengeance. Send your soldiers away to foreign lands on some bullshit moral agenda, using this as a cover to grab the resources. At least the other ‘savage’ invaders of the past were honest about the undertaking and didn’t try and cover it up in a slimey layer of bullshit. The way of the wasp!

    I’m Sikh, I know that others have been at this type of stuff before, be they Moghuls, Afghans or Persians. The fact that my forefathers/people where pretty much preoccupied with fighting attempts at colonisation and/or marauding not long ago, isn’t lost on me. So good effort but you need to try again.

    Kulvinder you hypocritical cow (i kid, i kid!), I see it’s okay for you to talk about whitey but not me! #11

    By the way, look in the mirror, you might realise that you are a brown monkey yourself. What happened? You lose your soul sister?

  23. Dalbir — on 21st January, 2010 at 7:17 am  

    Look, the wasps inspired Hitler!

    http://www.atholbooks.org/current/sarkisyanz_review.php

    See!!!

    lol

  24. Reza — on 21st January, 2010 at 9:56 am  

    Rod Liddle as editor? Now that would really be ‘Independant’.

    I couldn’t put it better than David Lindsay, commenting on Rod’s wonderful Spectator blog:

    “Rod Liddle’s editorship of a national daily newspaper would give a voice to the alliance of the traditional Right and the traditional Left against the neoconservative war agenda and its assaults on liberty at home, including, with Alexander Lebedev as proprietor, against any new Cold War with Russia.

    A voice to the socially and culturally conservative, strongly patriotic tendencies within the British Left’s traditional electoral base.

    A voice to those who recognise that we cannot deliver the welfare provisions and the other public services that our people have rightly come to expect unless we know how many people there are in this country, unless we control immigration properly, and unless we insist that everyone use spoken and written English to the necessary level.

    A voice to those who refuse to allow climate change to be used as an excuse to destroy or prevent secure employment, to drive down wages or working conditions, to arrest economic development around the world, to forbid the working classes and non-white people from having children, to inflate the fuel prices that always hit the poor hardest, or to restrict either travel opportunities or a full diet to the rich.

    And a voice to many, many more.

    I therefore look forward to that editorship at the earliest opportunity.”

  25. douglas clark — on 21st January, 2010 at 10:00 am  

    Dalbir @ 23,

    Your link spirals from the somewhat reasonable case that Germany had a severe case of imperial jealousy into such far reaching speculation that it is actually quite irritating.

  26. soru — on 21st January, 2010 at 1:01 pm  

    And tbh if you have that level of technology why not just bomb the site from orbit?

    True, there is a school of thought that orbital bombardment would improve many films. Starting with costume dramas and rom coms.

    There, however, is a question of realism that comes up when you have Fanny Price, or some mining corporation, having access to military-grade weapons. A shotgun for pest control on the estate makes sense, and can easily be worked into into the plot. A 60-gun ship of the line, not so much.

  27. Jai — on 21st January, 2010 at 2:40 pm  

    Soru,

    60-gun ship of the line, not so much.

    They already had a cutting-edge “ship of the line”, namely the starship they used to reach that world. The company depicted is basically supposed to be the futuristic equivalent of the East India Company — it’s deliberately portrayed as a staggeringly wealthy conglomorate dedicated to maximising profits for shareholders which has a global monopoly on pretty much everything tradeable and which is so powerful & influential that it has its own heavily-armed military wing and effectively operates as a parallel/semi-autonomous government.

    So, technically Kulwinder’s point about orbital bombardment is correct. But that wouldn’t enable the audience to be able to see dragon-flying aliens firing arrows through the windscreens of gunships, or set things up nicely for a few more sequels…..

  28. Dalbir — on 21st January, 2010 at 3:18 pm  

    Doug@25

    The first bit is spot on, until it gets into the anti-Jewish stuff.

    There is absolutely no relationship between EIC type expansion and exploitation and what Israel is doing.

    Apples and bananas.

  29. soru — on 21st January, 2010 at 10:03 pm  

    @Jai: I agree the East India Company was one model for the bad guys in the film. Thing is, the East India company didn’t actually have state-of-the art warships, _by contemporary European standards_. Even the few prestige vessels built at the height of it’s power, like the Charles Grant (after it already controlled much of India ) only had a single row of 18 pounder guns, at a time a first rate ship of the line would have three ranks of guns up to 42 pounds shot-weight. And they definitely didn’t have the crew to do anything more than fight off pirates.

    That’s directly equivalent to them having obsolete weapons like helicopter gunships and rockets, but not orbital lasers, mass drivers. If you pay attention, its noticeable that all weapons they have are direct fire and under complete manual control, when even the contemporary military is moving to long range missiles and drones.

    They probably could have rammed the planet at .99C or something, but I don’t how that solves any problem they actually had.

  30. KJB — on 22nd January, 2010 at 12:05 am  

    Kulvinder – Though you are utterly incomprehensible at times, I may have to plagiarise you for the purpose of essay/dissertation if you remain so utterly on form! :D

    Print journalists can fuck right off, calling a Facebook campaign ‘censorship’! Writing for a newspaper (especially nowadays) and pursuing any sort of major investigation is ALL ABOUT censorship. One of the major ways to avoid this is to write mostly banal shit. Whereas bloggers can quite often use their relative independence and anonymity to counteract this a bit – if CB had any sense, she would support things like Twitter, for the role they play in allowing people to expose cover-ups (*coughcough*Trafigura*cough*). Funny how SOME of them support freedom in science and health reporting, but aren’t so keen on it otherwise.

    Still, many of the print journos know all too well that as their medium declines in popularity, they’ll be knocked from their perches. Light-hearted material will still be in demand – but at the Grauniad, Hadley Freeman, Marina Hyde and Anna Pickard to name but 3 could do what CB does better, and I suspect she knows that.

    I think she slagged you for being a ‘traitor,’ Sunny, ’cause y’know – you write for the Graun too. How dare you deviate from the party line?! Kulvinder was spot-on @ 8.

    Seriously though, until print journos can demonstrate exactly how the rapid and free distribution of information via social networking sites is a ‘problem,’ they can fuck right off. And I’m not even on Twitter!

  31. Jai — on 22nd January, 2010 at 10:31 am  

    Soru,

    That’s directly equivalent to them having obsolete weapons like helicopter gunships and rockets, but not orbital lasers, mass drivers. If you pay attention, its noticeable that all weapons they have are direct fire and under complete manual control, when even the contemporary military is moving to long range missiles and drones.

    The company portrayed in the movie did have access to much more modern weaponry than that (and they’re directly involved in large-scale weapons production and trade themselves). The problem was that the precious metal they were mining had major electromagnetic effects and was sufficiently concentrated at various points on the planet to completely screw up their most advanced gadgetry (and aircraft, for that matter — the gunships etc that were shown were also supposed to be obsolete compared to the rest of the company’s “fleet”); apparently it was also the explanation for those “floating mountains”.

    That’s why they had to use old-fashioned bullets etc and also why they had to attack at point-blank range. It’s not because they didn’t have the more advanced technology, it’s because the special properties of the planet rendered it ineffective.

    There’s plenty of background reading material out there about the movie itself and the company depicted.

    They probably could have rammed the planet at .99C or something, but I don’t how that solves any problem they actually had.

    It would have resulted in a much shorter movie. And, again, no sequels…..

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