7 March 2013

Dag van de complimentjes

- door de koningin, die zeer goed het verschil kan appreciëren tussen complimentjes en sweet talk

Die georganiseerde kinderachtigheid in onze samenleving! Alsof complimentjes niet meer dan een soort luxueuse verwenkuur zijn. Waarbij vergeten wordt dat complimenten moeten verdiend worden om geloofwaardig te zijn. Al die professionele opvoeders die vergeten hun rol van volwassene te spelen, omdat zij zelf nooit hun adolescentie ontgroeid zijn. En niets anders kunnen dan kinderachtig doen tegen kinderen, die op die manier natuurlijk mismeesterd worden.

Goed zijn op school is normaal, daarvoor ga je tenslotte naar school. Slecht zijn vraagt om uitleg. Alleen wanneer het uitzonderlijk goed is is een compliment verdiend: wanneer de volwassene zelf verbaasd is en dus ook eerlijk zijn bewondering kan uitdrukken. Educatieve complimentjes zijn vooral een toegave aan het belangengeöriënteerde denken: je moet kinderen belonen. Geen wonder dat de kinderen de complimentjes ook alleen zo opvatten, en er dan gaan om vragen! Tracy: je zegt alleen maar dat het slecht is, nooit dat het goed is, met 6 jaar, toen zij begon te schrijven en altijd weer haar potlood verkeerd vasthield. Het was gewoon niet goed genoeg!

Philip Greenspun on MIT as a 'no praise zone': when you did alright, nobody said anything; when you were having difficulties, you got an answer to your questions like: "you're having trouble with that problem because you don't know anything and aren't working hard enough".

Kickers Dixmille Sandalen voor de Koningin (rechtervoet zonder voet noch tenen)

Sweet talk is iets helemaal anders dan 'complimentjes', en zoals iedereen kan ik er niet genoeg van krijgen: hoe minder verdiend, hoe beter! Voor mij, voor mij, voor mij, het centrum van mijn wereld! Keizertje is vaak te moe om eraan te denken, en ik het doe het dan maar zelf. Ik doe graag dingen zelf. Koop mij een paar sandalen in de Kickers-shop voor €55, verrast als ik was dat zij zo mooie sandalen maken, en bewonder dan luidop mijn eigen voeten en tenen! Luidop, nietwaar, als hij moe is is dat nodig om de aandacht te trekken. En om de aandacht is het mij tenslotte te doen, niet om de sandalen. En om wat daaruit volgt, natuurlijk. En als er iets volgt, dan beperk ik mijn sweet talk geenszins tot mijn eigen voeten en  tenen, wat had je gedacht. Dan zijn er geen grenzen meer die niet overschreden mogen worden! La joie innée d'exister! 

Idiocy in world politics and how to draw attention to it, or draw attention away from the idiots

- from our correspondent at the Augean Stables

I very much agree with Joanne's thinking impulse. Only, expressing just the wish is not enough, you have to ask yourself the question: what can be done to make it happen?

Argueing with George Galloway is not going to draw the attention away from him. For that you would need to draw the attention to somewhere else. Normally the most effective way to draw attention is by setting yourself up as the center of attention. That's what Israel should do: by accusing the world of routinely denying the crime against humanity of which Israel is a victim since 1948, i.e. for 65 years now, no less. And Israel could easily do that, because it is true and easy to prove.

I wrote an email to Angela Merkel saying the same thing, but got no reply yet. They cannot very well reply officially: you must be out of your mind, not even Israel is making such an absurd claim. Because that would involve them in an explicit denial of the crime. Not replying on the other hand leaves them the excuse of not having received my message (it was 'lost').

Dionissis, I think, is reading too much psychology into Western politics (holocaust shame or guilt, inferiority complex towards Jewish morality), and the subconscious is an empty concept in any case. Unconsciousness or unawareness on the other hand is very much at the center of Western political decisions with regard to the 'conflict': unconsciousness of the inconsequential attitude that recognises Israel's 'right to exist' without recognising at the same time that those who are refusing to make peace with Israel are the criminals responsible for the conflict and not its victims. Unconsciousness which is dangerous because it can lead to well-intentioned decisions that are wrong, self-defeating, and amounting to blaming the victims themselves for their unfortunate fate.

To Wygart I would say: political attitudes towards the 'conflict' are more of a sideshow in Western politics, not symptoms of some new menace to democracy (beyond the usual). Which isn't meant to say that making wrong decisions in the Israel-islamist conflict cannot have seriously menacing consequences for Western civil society. But the Jews now have a state. That state should behave like any other state, and not like a Jewish state. It should accuse the world, and especially the Western democracies, of being inconsequential and anti-semitic by not recognising Israel's right to exist in peace. George Galloway is an idiot; Jakob Augstein also is an idiot, and a far more influential one, I would think; but they are not really valuable targets: the valuable targets are David Cameron and Angela Merkel. And it is my conviction that there are still enough decent Europeans who feel ashamed of their governments' participating in that charade of a 'peace process' that rehabilitates the criminals. They may even be a majority. But they are quite naturally a silent majority that will never step up to shout down the loud-talking intellectuals and politicians occupying the front of the scene. The only chance you have to get this silent majority to express itself (find itself some representatives to speak out for them) is by creating a focal point for them in public discourse. In Germany, this debate about Jakob Augstein's condemnation by the Simon Wiesenthal Center looks like a great opportunity to do that. The Israeli government should adopt a leading role in seizing that opportunity. (I mean, Jakob Augstein is defending Günter Grass's assertion that it is nuclear Israel that has become the principal menace to world peace! And he seems to be winning the debate! How can the Israeli government NOT react to such irresponsible and idiotic nonsense? In my opinion, they cannot simply leave that kind of defense to the SWC. It would be a show of unconscious irresponsibility on their part not very dissimilar of the irresponsibility displayed by the European governments themselves. Moreover, Angela Merkel herself has already complained(!) that it is becoming increasingly difficult for the German government to maintain a reasonable stance with these idiotic nonsensical ideas gaining traction in German public opinion. The Israeli government should take her up on her own words and show her how she, as chancellor, is supposed to deal with such idotic nonsensical ideas.) This is a fight. A fight Israel must win (i.e. cannot afford to lose - and Richard Landes is of course right that Europe can also not afford to lose it): in such cases you must go for the jugular, because there is no other way to win the fight. There is now a 65-year long history that proves that point, I would think.

Sure, Richard Landes says such things as well, but I see it either as part of his blogging style ('fisking') or as part of a larger explanation, from which I tend to take things selectively by applying Occam's razor. That's all I wanted to say, as I am far more interested in understanding politics by reducing the explanation than by enhancing it. And fundamentally I am convinced that the most powerful explanations are the 'negatives', the things not said and done that would make a real difference.

Miss Israel 2013 IDF Nominees

But Dionissis, the IDF women you showed me before were lovely! Why would I reconsider? I never doubted they knew how to defend themselves, but the thoughts they gave me were not thoughts of abduction or stabbing, God forbid! Mind you, in the mean time I learned a bit about how to defend myself with a pocket-knife, because when I was bragging earlier about running around with my pocket-knife in my pocket I didn't have the slightest idea of how the knife is to be held and used, except for peeling an apple. Someone showed me, and I'm better prepared now, although still much less interested in confrontation than in seduction.

The psychology I would be interested in is that of the 72 black-eyed houris. Here is a compilation from islamic sources you can find on the wikipedia page on houris: "a houri is a girl of tender age, having large breasts which are round (pointed), and not inclined to dangle, ... with beautiful, big, and lustrous eyes, ... her sweat will smell like musk." These same people then complain about houris being used in Western adverts for lingerie or cars. OK, I tend to agree that it is a form of wasteful underemployment for houris. But these people also shoot living houris through the head with kalashnikovs! And then bomb pizzerias with people inside or fly airplanes into tall buildings also with people inside only to get their imaginary houris in paradise! That's not shortsightedness. It's more like toofarsightedness! I once suggested the idea of forming a living houri brigade to teach these boys some sense to a Moroccan girl in that same café. And she didn't find the idea stupid! She wasn't afraid of my staring either. And not interested at all in covering her hair. Which was lush and not something that should be covered. On my demand she uncovered more things for me. So sometimes you can see glimpses of hope. But they are rare, far too rare to make a difference. (Philippe Sollers made a big splash in 1983 with his book on "Femmes": "Le monde appartient aux femmes, c.à.d. à la mort. Là-dessus tout le monde ment." He made a big splash, but nobody listened, as usual.)

Jewish Nakbah (Pierre Rehov) - Jewish Girl with Franz Kafka's Eyes

PS: The same Moroccan young woman (30) said very nice things about Jewish people she had known in her childhood in Morocco. It wasn't always clear to me what she really meant, because I had thought that these Jewish people had been driven out before her birth. But we agreed entirely that it is all such a waste of human happiness! And all because of politics, and the general stupidity to fall into that trap of expecting good things from politics. That was mainly my conclusion, because she couldn't anymore follow me there, thought that the big people who had studied so much more than her probably knew what they were doing! People taken individually always should know better. But for that they need to trust themselves. Which they don't, most of the time. If I knew how to insert pictures into these comments, I would show you another fascinating Jewish girl having Franz Kafka's eyes, a picture I took from Pierre Rehov's film on the "Jewish Nakbah". She's behind bars, and there is a smugly smiling soldier guarding her. I find it an emblematic picture of this 'politics destroying human happiness' idea. Westerners tend to brag about 'freedom', but most of the time they don't know what they are talking about, reducing their idea of freedom to either political freedom (elections) or economic freedom (choosing your model of a car). It's childish and stupid. Muslims, and even islamists like Sayyid Qutb, often complain quite sensibly about that emptiness in Western life. I would think that that is also a good subject for a dialogue with them. Do you know of a good islamic blog where one could try to do that?


PPS: About the silent majority of decent people: I remember my Belgian grandmother almost spitting on her own carpet each time Yassir Arafat appeared on the news! "Den duvel" (the devil), she simply called him, missing the words and education for a fuller explanation of her thinking.

5 March 2013

Chef van Mogadishu

- by the emperor, having had a bit of luck when zapping through TV channels before putting on some music

Saw it on VRT Canvas, on Somalia and some man (Ahmed Jama Mohamed) coming back from London to rebuild his businesses by investing some of the profits from his London restaurant: 4 restaurants and a beach resort 'The Village' at Jazira Beach.

He is also into politics in a natural human manner: feeding the tribal elders regularly in order to attract them to his position. But doesn't really like it, because it makes him even more of a target to the islamists than he already is, with Al Shabaab attacking him and his businesses (one 'successful' suicide attack).

The man is very interesting, but the journalist doesn't ask him at all how he became who he is. The journalist is sort of dumb, talks about brave idealism, but doesn't understand a thing about the natural law: Ahmed is presented as some admirable dreamer, but the really important things will have to come from politics. He also doesn't go into the matter of the islamist threat. They are just awful terrorists to him, without having any link to the islamic belief system. Big omenous words ("country at the crossroads"), no real understanding, as usual on TV. 

Politieke roep om reddingsoperaties, of: zijn politici nog te redden?

- van de koningin, die het eigenlijk ook eens in Italië wil bekijken, het politieke spel en zijn meest ontmaskerende protagonisten Berlo en Beppe

Dat zat er wel aan te komen natuurlijk, nadat de Grieken het hen met succes hebben voorgedaan, dat ook de Italianen onze onvermoeibare eurocrisis-bestrijders een neus zouden zetten! Nu nog de Portugezen. En waarom niet allemaal? Tegen de onmenselijke door Europa opgelegde austeriteit? Elio di Rupo en Paul Magnette zijn zoals steeds bereid ons de anti-kapitalistische weg te wijzen. 

Afgrijselijk worden ze genoemd, de afdankingen in de industrie. Slagen in het gezicht. De Europese industrie moet beschermd worden! Door wie? Door de Europese industriële politiek, natuurlijk, en de zich daarmee bezig houdende politici, dat is gemakkelijk te raden. Waarmee? Met regels, sociale en milieuregels, wat anders, en wereldwijd als het kan. Waartegen? Dat is heel wat minder duidelijk, maar logischerwijze zou je vermoeden dat de industrie vooral tegen de industriëlen moet beschermd worden. Die kennen er tenslotte zo weinig van dat zij vooral de afbouw van economische activiteiten lijken na te streven. Geobsedeerd als ze zijn door ingebeelde politieke vijanden aan wie ze slagen in het gezicht willen verkopen. Dat zij daarbij kapitaal verliezen lijkt hen weinig te deren, en in voorspoedige winstvooruitzichten willen ze al even weinig geloven. Waar zoeken die kapitalistische industriëlen toch hun eigenbelang?

De industriële politiek is dus dringend aan een heropwekking toe. Tijdens mijn recente studeerwerk in de politieke wetenschappen heb ik nochtans vernomen dat zelfs de Fransen de industriële politiek aan het einde van de jaren '70 opgegeven hadden. En die hadden dus een paar decennia ervaring met economische planning en sturende overheidsinterventies in de industrie. Eerder slechte weliswaar, zoals die mislukte poging om van Honeywell Bull een te duchten Frans-Britse concurrent voor IBM te maken. Zonder het minste vermoeden dat de echte concurrent natuurlijk uit een onvoorspelbare hoek zou komen, de hoek van Microsoft en Apple, en zonder de minste overheidssteun, hetgeen eigenlijk niet zou mogen.

Tja, wat moet een politicus doen, indien vooral de mislukkingen goed voorspelbaar zijn, en de echte succesverhalen alleen maar uit onvoorspelbare hoeken komen? Niets doen lijkt geen slechte keuze op het eerste gezicht, maar voor een politicus is dat uitgesloten, hij moet toch met iets zijn stemmen verdienen. Door met goedbedoelde initiatieven mislukkingen in te zamelen kan hij nog altijd een paar stemmen verdienen met zijn goede bedoelingen. Door de zaken gewoon op hun beloop te laten brengt hij zich in een onmogelijke positie om zijn verdienste aan te tonen voor die onvoorspelbare successen. Hij kan ze tenslotte zo weinig voorspellen als iemand anders.

Wijze oude man Anthony de Jasay heeft altijd wel een paar ideetjes over hoe actieve politici die meer willen doen dan nietsdoen hun energie zouden kunnen steken in het weer afbreken van alles wat zij in hun ijverigheid hebben opgebouwd. Hij argumenteert daarbij overtuigend dat de afbraak-politici grote onvoorspelbare successen zouden kunnen hebben, en in zijn laatste stukje zelfs, ook al gehad hebben, zoals Gerhard Schröder met zijn arbeidsmarkthervorming in Duitsland: "One size fits all, but not well: collective bargaining conceals and may waste a rich source of productivity." De in de vergelijking toch redelijke Duitse kiezers hebben het toen wel evenmin begrepen als de Italianen het vandaag hebben willen begrijpen van Mario Monti, dat afbraak voor vooruitgang kan zorgen.