Does a referendum trigger swarm behaviour? Do humans share swarming behaviour with locusts?

Jul 1, 2016

By Jonathan Kingdon

As a mechanism to induce group action, a referendum reduces the many complexities of existence into a simple binary choice of actions – yes/no, left/right, in/out. Animals such as lemmings, locusts, sardines and free-tailed bats swarm in response to simple social and physiological stimuli which elevate hormones, notably serotonin. Could the emotions triggered by referendum campaigning stimulate irrational crowd behavior in human animals? Could it be that Brexiters pumped up their serotonin levels while Europeans, (previous to the vote) had more normal levels?

In a referendum the essential medium to persuade and instruct fellow-speakers to act on their emotions, (i.e. raise their serotonin levels?) is language – emotive language – in this case what might be called “Tabloid English”.

We have precedents for misuse of a language to over-ride its more beneficent and creative purposes. In the 20th Century, very large numbers of one of the most intellectual, creative and admirable of European peoples – those who spoke German – allowed themselves to be swept up into types of swarm behavior that precipitated calamitous wars and holocausts.

The referendum shows that English speakers are not immune to the same or very similar arguments barked out by self-styled “Leaders”, incipient demagogues, at crowd meetings, on T.V. pulpits and in tabloid newspapers. Peddling the simplest of prescriptions for action – in/out, us/them, Brexiters have invented lies, aroused fears, articulated threats to spread a rudimentary emotional vocabulary which seems to have triggered a cultural equivalent of swarming which leads to desolation.

The referendum seems to have induced swarm behavior in a language group no less admirable, intelligent and creative than speakers of German. Will the final legacy of England and the English be a confirmation that, given an experimental mechanism such as a referendum, humans can behave like grasshoppers?


Jonathan Kingdon is a distinguished zoologist and world-renowned zoological artist. He is a research associate at the University of Oxford.

113 comments on “Does a referendum trigger swarm behaviour? Do humans share swarming behaviour with locusts?

  • “…to act on their emotions, (i.e. raise their serotonin levels?)…”

    Hello,

    (In the great American novel, The Day of the Locust, by Nathaniel West, there is a very good description of a mob scene.)

    Swarm behavior. Why not? Herd instinct, mob mentality, mass hysteria,—Take your pick.

    These phrases (above) are good but they are, finally, just phrases (and metaphors); we are like locusts and very much not like locusts. There are numerous factors that have to be addressed. One should not allow phrases to supersede or replace careful and thorough analyses of the many elements – historical, cultural, social, psychoanalytic – associated with such phenomena as the herd instinct (or whatever you want to call it) vis-a-vis the holocausts of the world, or the referendum, or this mania for Trump, etc., etc.

    Serotonin! Enough with these illusory causes. That’s a symptom, not a cause! The scientific community is absolutely obsessed with neuroscience. I regard the notion of behaviors being caused, primarily, by such things as the production of serotonin, as simplistic, reductionistic, deceptive, and anti-human. Everything produces neural pulses: hysteria, passivity, action, no action, thinking, sleeping, anger, sadness. — Are the neural pulses causing all of this? Is that the first cause? (I am not saying that this is what Mr. Kingdon is saying; but too many people think that our actions are caused by chemical changes in the brain; this is only partially true, and to regard it as a total explanation is pernicious.)

    (Serotonin can cause mania. And SSRI antidepressants do work. But in most cases in life changes in the brain are symptoms; they are not causes. Does our red face cause us to become angry?)

    It wasn’t people who massacred the Native Americans, or who rallied in support of Hitler; it was, at bottom, their serotonin. Give me a break. “Acting on emotion” is more meaningful. Acting upon serotonin is obfuscatory and explains very little.

    Motives are the causes. We are not our brains. The brain is, as it were, dead matter (bag of meat); no person in there.



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  • 2
    maria melo says:

    It seems kind of strange that a population as the British can be so divided.
    I suppose there is emotional response from those who voted to remain too (see the “romantic” posters with the saying “I am more European than British”, for instance).

    Listening to a historian tv commenter yesterday, I presume that it´s like as if there was a different time for Europe, one at it´s beginning, as it might have given hope and stability to peoples, and the late Europe that is becoming inefficient (Well, it does not give me any hope actually), and seems to be turning-out into some sort of strange “federation” (a too gigantic and poweful ideal, capable of smashing historical and cultural identities of it´s peoples, actually)
    I confess I must feel so divided as the British population itself, and, of course, I have my inevitable emotional reponses too.
    Remember the PM David Cameron´s words before the referêndum, well he mentioned something as he wouldn´t like to belong to a EU as a “super-state” (the exact expression he actually mentioned).
    The same historian mentioned that before a government elected democratically presents in first place the state government budget in Parliament, it is submited it in first place to some EU section.
    Schauble, Finance Minister of Angela Merkel, is making plans for the reformation of UE, planning a super Comission with a “super-power” to veto every state government budget that nation/countries´s governments elected democratically worked-out and such Comission could eventually come to inspect in locu the country/nation whose government state government budget was rejected,. well, I begun to think that´s politically too dangerous too support such political ideals actually, the romanting times of Europe is over, I think (well the historian I was listening thought it).



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  • Will anyone mention the elephant? The pen is, indeed, mightier than the sword. We witness it daily in mainstream media. The power to manipulate fears and angers of entire populations is what controls the outcomes. What I cannot understand is what can be gained by dumbing down the masses. Control? Power? Of what? When you are in control of idiots, what have you gained?

    And lest you think I am speaking only of the UK’s recent referendum, I remind the readers we here in the States have an election coming up with a monumental idiot as one of the two main candidates. How in hell did that happen?! Again, the elephant…



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  • Vicki, others

    The stupid majority (“Dumbing down”)

    The purpose of the right in America and Britain is to keep the majority as stupid as possible, as they run into less opposition by having stupid people. I put that in the right’s province; they’re the ones who are doing this. They (the Plutocratic oligarchs, the nationalists, driven by greed and bigotry– here, and in England) are determined to keep us stupid.

    Democracy

    “There are these two kinds of patriotism. There’s blind patriotism, unflagging patriotism. And then there’s the patriotism that says I live in a democracy and it’s very important for the health and the life of this democracy that it get better all the time, not get worse. Because when a democracy gets worse, it can get worse and worse and worse. And the nightmare in every democracy, the very nightmare, is if it gets worse and worse and worse, we could end up totalitarian.” –Norman Mailer

    THE REPUBLICAN PARTY IS NOW A RADICAL INSURGENCY

    “Now, the actual policies of the Republicans, whether it’s Paul Ryan or Donald Trump, to the extent that he’s coherent, Ted Cruz, you pick him, or the establishment, is basically enrich and empower the very rich and the very powerful and the corporate sector. You cannot get votes that way. So therefore the Republicans have been compelled to turn to sectors of the population that can be mobilized and organized on other grounds, kind of trying to put to the side the actual policies, hoping, the establishment hopes, that the white working class will be mobilized to vote for their bitter class enemies, who want to shaft them in every way, by appealing to something else, like so-called social conservatism—you know, abortion rights, racism, nationalism and so on. And to some extent, that’s happened. That’s the kind of thing that Fritz Stern was referring to in the article that I mentioned about Germany’s collapse, this descent into barbarism. So what you have is a voting base consisting of evangelical Christians, ultranationalists, racists, disaffected, angry, white working-class sectors that have been hit very hard, that are—you know, not by Third World standards, but by First World standards, we even have the remarkable phenomenon of an increase in mortality among these sectors, that just doesn’t happen in developed societies. All of that is a voting base. It does produce candidates who terrify the corporate, wealthy, elite establishment. In the past, they’ve been able to beat them down. This time they aren’t doing it. And that’s what’s happening to the so-called Republican Party.

    “We should recognize—if we were honest, we would say something that sounds utterly shocking and no doubt will be taken out of context and lead to hysteria on the part of the usual suspects, but the fact of the matter is that today’s Republican Party qualify as candidates for the most dangerous organization in human history. Literally. Just take their position on the two major issues that face us: climate change, nuclear war. On climate change, it’s not even debatable. They’re saying, “Let’s race to the precipice. Let’s make sure that our grandchildren have the worst possible life.” On nuclear war, they’re calling for increased militarization. It’s already way too high, more than half the discretionary budget. “Let’s shoot it up.” They cut back other resources by cutting back taxes on the rich, so there’s nothing left. There’s been nothing this—literally, this dangerous, if you think about it, to the species, really, ever. We should face that.”
    —Noam Chomsky

    (Don’t despair, Vicki. Things will get better, if it’s not already too late; there’s a lot of resistance, and a lot of people who are not idiots.)

    Defeating terrorism

    U.S.-led military campaigns “against terror” continue to set the stage for more terror attacks, and to create more terrorists, as anger turns to rage — and rage, for some, turns brutally violent. The military-first U.S. strategy is exacting a huge price — especially for the people in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Afghanistan, and beyond — but also on us here at home, and on civilians throughout the world.

    If we’re serious about ending terror attacks, there are a host of non-military approaches that hold far more promise than bomb-drone-kill. Diplomacy, humanitarian support, arms embargoes, economic assistance, more diplomacy — we need to use them all instead of military action, not alongside it. Step one means acknowledging that the current strategy is failing.



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  • Olgun #7
    Jul 2, 2016 at 11:12 am

    It seems so Vicki. And with the question you asked, Farrage and Johnson have set the idiots free.

    What they did was flatter the clueless by telling them that their worthless opinions were important, and then the reckless media and ignorant politicians, manipulated the opinions of those who were forced to make choices, despite having zero understanding of the issues.

    Farage is a windbag with no understanding whatever of administrative or legislative systems and so is Corbyn!

    Their basic campaigns were:-
    Rebel against “government authority” and the Status quo by voting against the scapegoat they painted of strawman Europe! Very significant numbers of voters had absolutely no idea what they were voting about – and many still have no idea!

    However their followers, now consider their worthless opinions to be important, as they can, and are, having drastic effects on numerous countries affecting millions of people!

    I explained and showed in his own words, that Corbyn and those who follow him have no understanding of European issues, but are just kicking out against austerity, all forms of “authority”, and what they describe as the establishment “status quo”!

    https://www.richarddawkins.net/2016/06/britains-shaky-status-as-a-scientific-superpower/#li-comment-206550

    Their argument is essentially, “Smash up every thing in sight, turn the clock back a bit, and some new utopia will magically appear in little England”! – With them in charge!

    They are running on the Dunning-Kruger confidence, of those who are too ignorant and too stupid to recognise how ignorant and stupid they are!
    Their plans are to recruit a swarm of voters to elect then to power, with a reckless disregard of any factual basis for their claims, or the practical consequences in the world of reality, where their almost total lack of competence in matters of research and management will cause rampant destruction, wherever they acquire power or influence.

    maria melo #2
    Jul 1, 2016 at 8:27 pm
    The same historian mentioned that before a government elected democratically presents in first place the state government budget in Parliament, it is submited it in first place to some EU section.
    Schauble, Finance Minister of Angela Merkel, is making plans for the reformation of UE, planning a super Comission with a “super-power” to veto every state government budget
    that nation/countries´s governments elected democratically worked-out and such Comission could eventually come to inspect in locu the country/nation whose government state government budget was rejected,.

    Anyone can suggest what they like, but it has no standing until it has been approved by the Euro MPs in the European Parliament.
    It seems unlikely that Euro MPs would approve that as a general rule, but could well consider it, in the case of near bankrupt countries, as a condition of seeking bail-outs from the central European Bank due to their failures to set responsible budgets.



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  • @Dan #8

    I am trying like hell to see the benefits of the GOP: fiscal conservatism, long-range business plans, etc. It’s getting pretty hard to do, though, with the fringe TPers firmly entrenched. I just keep telling myself (and anyone else who will listen) that it is a pendulum, and will eventually swing back. My concern is whether we will have the opportunity to undo the damage.



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  • 11
    maria melo says:

    “It seems unlikely that Euro MPs would approve that as a general rule, but could well consider it, in the case of near bankrupt countries, as a condition of seeking bail-outs from the central European Bank due to their failures to set responsible budgets.”

    (Allan 4 Discussion on comment 9)

    Oh Yes of course not, the “irresponsive budget” of the last year in the case of Portugal is exactelly the one prescribed from “outside”, if it is wrong despite of all the pain it caused to the popolations isn´t it their fault as far they prescribed it? Now that it seems to be getting better, they are “worried”?
    Oh no, I will not suggest what I want, I will always be based on facts and reality, but I understand how easy it must be to prescribe wrong remedies from”outside”.



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  • There are two kinds of creatures on the right, the genuinely scared and sometimes dull witted sheep who huddle in fear and the wily wolves in their woolly disguises who are there to fleece them.

    The fleecers flat out lie about how they get rich (by mostly fleecing) and claim that others can do as they do if only the wool farmer would stop trying to get them free access to vets.

    The very first thing to do and keep doing is to work to reduce inequality. Inequality is the very wellspring of “get-even” politics.



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  • I didn’t find it at all difficult to learn the basics about how the EU functions, before voting; doing so after voting seems to me to be a bit futile!

    However, the price of having made the effort to find out some rudimentary facts, was recognizing the lies, but being unable to do anything about it, because the liers weren’t in parliament where they could be questioned, contradicted and corrected by others of our elected representatives, but at large; off the leash of responsibility.

    Any skilled sales person, politician or con artist, makes it their business to know beforehand what their target group want to hear, feed it to them, and then play them like fiddles.



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  • Vicki #3, (and others)

    Some thoughts, off the top of my head.

    I just saw a panel of talking heads on CNN. One of the speakers had worked for the Carly Fiorina campaign, and she likes Trump, and had the most annoying, blank, smug look on her face. (You know the type.) I thought to myself: these people aren’t just sick; there is something else going on, something nefarious. I thought of Yeats’s Second Coming: the beast with its pitiless gaze, that obdurate force which is totalitarianism. You asked what they want. I ask myself that. The destruction of the world? Money? Power and profit? I think so. Prestige? I think a lot of this has to with the issue of class (something that has always plagued us) and race, and wanting to feel superior, to maintain an elite, white ruling class. I think the Republicans like illegal immigrants from Mexico. Easy to control. Social engineering. (Just a pet theory.)

    “Trump is authentic,” she said, “and people are angry.”

    Monsters are authentic too, and the Germans in the 30s were angry.

    The Republicans never wanted equality and never will. The are have a vested interest in keeping the “lazy” poor down, and in spreading the poverty around.

    They don’t care about the environment! What kind of monsters are we dealing with?

    The disease of the right is greed, bigotry, insensitivity, and general stupidity. But that just scratches the surface.

    Newt Gingrich is being vetted for VP, a man who wants to bring back child labor, and get rid of Medicare.

    Vicki, I’ve recommended books to you in the past. Here’s an author you should read: Mailer. He wrote fiction and non-fiction. He started writing in the 40s. You’ll gain a lot of insights about American life. You can start with Cannibals and Christians and The Presidential Papers (written in the 60s but still relevant); and check him out on YouTube.
    🙂



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  • Dan

    The disease of the right [politicians] is greed, bigotry, insensitivity, and general stupidity. But that just scratches the surface.

    fixed.

    Until you target the shamans of an ideology rather than its fearful adherents you will never effect change. Hitchens’ aphorism applies here too. Someone not argued into a position will be argued out of it. Better still tackle their fears. Tackle inequality.

    Then tackle the news vendors. Resuscitate this…

    http://ceasespin.org/fcc_petition/fcc_petition.php



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  • Phil,

    The disease of the right. That’s what I wrote. I am not letting anyone off the hook.
    Not “the disease of the right [politicians]”.
    The people are not victims only. Everyone blamed Nixon in the 60s. Everyone blames the media, as they should. I blame people.
    They are being tricked, as Chomsky said, so they are victims to some extent. Many aren’t even unaware of the ideology you speak of. No one knows what the secret agenda even is.
    But many blue collar workers support Trump who promises them prosperity. And that’s a lie. I say to the workers and the disenfranchised: pick up a book! Read! Don’t choose to be stupid and ignorant. You are voting against your own interests. You will get what you deserve, because you have allowed yourselves to be duped.
    (With the problem of radical Islam, you do the same thing: it’s not Islam, it’s not Muslims, it’s not the leaders, it’s not this, it’s not that. What is it then? Poverty? Despair? It’s all of those things, including the religion itself, and including all those who don’t speak out, the justifiably fearful adherents. I understand their fear, but that does not mean that they are not part of the problem.)
    I blame anyone who supports Trump. They are to be held responsible for choosing to be stupid.
    Stupidity is largely a choice.
    I blame the people; not just the “shamans”.
    Equality will come. But not without a price. You don’t get automatic equality and there is no one way to achieve it; you get it like you get anything else: by the shedding of cowardice, of complacent ignorance, you achieve it through mass action – and not just during elections, and certainly not by merely voting – and you achieve it like you achieve all denied liberties: you achieve it against the grain, against the paradox of the fact that there’s much in human life that forbids equality.



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  • Swarm behavior.

    That can be a good thing, too.

    Phil, sorry if I misrepresented you (16). I tend to do that. (I sometimes misrepresent myself as well.(

    How do we change society? Or more precisely, how does society change? Right now I am grappling with that question.



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  • Alan #9

    One plan is not to have a second referendum but to force an early election and pin their hopes on a remain on that. If their manifesto includes for us to remain and they get elected on that, then the referendum is null and void in effect. Read this on FB from a labour supporter. Not sure how sound it is but a great idea in my opinion. A second referendum begs a third and will turn into a greater farce than it already is. It may be an official plan which requires calling for unity first. If people who voted out have genuinely woken up to their mistake then austerity and the fact that the twin idiots of Farage and Johnson who have shown their true colours and gone into hiding could see a victory.

    One locust has seen a new field. Perhaps the swarm will make good use of it.



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  • Olgun @ # 18.

    Well said Olgun.

    When in a hole stop digging!

    Referenda are fundamentally undemocratic; especially in a parliamentary democracy, where they are simply surplus to requirements.

    Wait for the dust to settle, then hold another election, presided over by parliament, with a central plank of returning to the EU.



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  • Dan,

    Worthwhile change happens with the educated and comfortable bourgoisie acting through their conscience. The great socialist and social reformers of the past were all from privileged backgrounds because they had the education and the lack of fear. With a country so bamboozled by the wolves, kept so in the dark, by a purchased media claiming the right to lie as a first amendment right, by an education system riddled with non professional and ideological interference and a health system of stunning partiality and inefficiency, rational voting will not come from those adversely impacted.

    The US has the worst inequality of any OECD country and is the only country whose welfare state actually fails to stop the further lowering of the IQ of its poorest through early stress. Cleaving to the promise of the the American Dream, dreaming of fame (you can be anything you want to be…honest) or the more practical solution of cheap accessible guns, is what is left. The media endlessly thoughtlessly pump out the pacifying pap of the former and often grace the latter with a noble if doomed quality.

    I understand their fear, but that does not mean that they are not part of the problem.

    Exactly so, in a modern democracy. No simple quelling of riots like in the past. Deal with the fear, has to be the answer. Education has let you down, so too the media. These are the things that have to be fixed and you can only really appeal intellectually to the conscience of the comparatively unfearful, educated folk to do the heavy llfting and vote unselfishly for change that will cost them.

    Clinton will win but so too must Bernie’s ideas. Clinton must begin changes that move in this direction, targeting a return to the income equality levels in the states of 1960s, but got by lifting education, health and tax incentivised job creation, etc. etc.

    There is a national systemic failure, the result of ideologues backing the country into a dead end. The astonishing and productive vitality of the US experiment is got at too high a price and too great a risk of hijacking by psychopath wolves. We must all strive to reverse some way out of this. But its the details of the system that must be painstakingly fixed, not with a vision of some glorious new country, but possibly (to calm the fearful) a reversion to the vitality and new found compassion of the 1960s USA, but with civil rights intact.

    (You also need the new young flat structured tech businesses to argue for the elimination of inequality. The Equality Trust do many presentations to business leaders in the UK who are very receptive to these ideas. Wealthy happy consumers and better trained workforces are what they need to repatriate their own investments.)



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  • Olgun #18

    I completely agree an early election with a pro EU mandate is the best counter to our predicament. The idea of having a referendum on a state of affairs, disconnected from thought-through policy, without the people in place obliged to act upon it, and with no threshold for decisive popular commitment set is a mistake not to be repeated.

    19

    Corbyn must do much more than this to re-engage the rest of us. He must side with his youthful supporters against his old northern flat cap socialist. Its their future, he must say, sadly. If he engaged the catastrophe as a catastrophe in need of fixing, and not as “the will of the people” as he currently has it, he could romp home in an election. He needs to heed his right hand man.



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  • 22 continued

    He would then be in a position from the referendum to argue he has a mandate to re-direct austerity measures onto the most deserving. This is the proper solution to the flat cap (and hair net) concerns.

    It could be a win win situation.

    It will not happen because Corbyn is a “man of honour” and “the people have spoken”. He would rather paint himself the fated, noble idealist than the pragmatist who delivers real change and value.

    Dan,

    Could we borrow Bernie for a bit?



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  • Hi Phil,

    You protest too much – methinks.

    Worthwhile change happens with the educated and comfortable bourgeoisie acting through their conscience …

    I prefer the more nuanced, and I believe more accurate: Worthwhile change is rooted in the empathy and collective conscience of the educated and politically enfranchised

    The great socialist … reformers of the past were all …

    … preceded by the Liberals who broke the political franchise of the aristocracy and created the first welfare state …

    The great [political] reformers of the past were all … from privileged backgrounds because they had the education and the lack of fear

    Quite so.

    We agree from this point onwards.

    I especially liked this part:

    Clinton will win but so too must Bernie’s ideas. Clinton must begin changes that move in this direction, targeting a return to the income equality levels in the ’Sates of 1960s, but got by lifting education, health and tax incentivized job creation, etc. etc.

    Also: I add my vote to yours – yes, America, can we please borrow Bernie for a bit? Pretty please?

    Peace.



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  • Hi Stafford [#20],

    Referenda are fundamentally undemocratic; especially in a parliamentary democracy, where they are simply surplus to requirements

    I disagree.

    In principle a polity can only be called democratic if there is a significant and relentless effort on ensuring that every citizen is apprised of the facts. This, of course, begins with free speech. Many will also say that this, by definition, includes educating the electorate in order for them to fulfil their duty as constituents by enabling them to weigh claims and logically discriminate.

    Even Karl Marx, master of the offhand and outstandingly obvious (before going off on a tangent), noticed that education can be subverted – so the rest of us have no excuse. Indeed, that education can be so undermined as to perpetuate the subordination of the mass of the citizenry is something that is reported on, almost continuously, by this very Site.

    Given that this is the necessary foundation of democracy: In what way is a vote for a unaccountable legislative body made up of full-time politicians superior to a plebiscite?

    In both cases there is unending streams of evidence that both the education of the youth and the education of the electorate are incessantly emasculated. So far then, they are even.

    There are two aspects to the differences between a plebiscite and representation that, it occurs to me, are relevant. In the case of a plebiscite – as those of us living in Britain are now discovering – a Yes/No answer is overly simplistic and is actually very unhelpful in the longer term. To put that another way: Shades of policy are difficult to bring about. The second is that there is no review process. On the other hand these things are appear to be endorsed by a representation.

    But are shades and review the common experience or, is it shady revisionism, is it heresy?

    Given that the same mechanisms (corrupted education and unethical media) are also ’supporting’ the electorate by combining to report on the compromises made possible by representation I grant you that we should proceed with caution.

    A close examination reveals that representation also allows for a hoodwinking of the electorate on a par with the false dichotomy of a plebiscite – with the double jeopardy that not only are the full time politicians and the media colluding to make backroom deals that are presented as compromises – but also those compromises, if not in the interests of media owners and their friends, are presented as unacceptable heresies – i.e. ripe for future revision in the ’right’ direction.

    Referenda can, if properly designed and in the right conditions, be more democratic than a general election. They can consider a question in isolation that cuts across the normal political-party dogmas and they can gain greater legitimacy by doing so. It goes without saying that none of that applies to the recent Brexit referendum, of course.

    Wait for the dust to settle …
    In what way is waiting a good idea? Defeating Brexit requires a lot, and I mean a LOT, of talking, explaining and I dare say even shouting.

    If any new leader of Parliament decides to follow the Brexit referendum advice they will do so against the majority of the people because a majority did not vote Brexit – only a majority of those who voted did so and the Brexit campaign themselves said – pre-referendum – that such a narrow margin as 48-52 would not be enough to give the Government any legitimacy in negotiating a Brit exit.

    Any Prime Minister seeking to trigger Article 50 of the European Union Treaty would have to consider the legal position and European political leaders have been too quick to accept that Brexit vote as legitimate – and acceptance of a British activation of Article 50 would have to be conditional on a genuine vote commensurate with the 1970s vote to join the EEC.

    Most British businesses are already losing. The pound has been flying in much the same way that bricks don’t. The BoE is already talking rate cut. The City is in turmoil. Major companies are looking for an exit from Britain long before Britain exits the EU. Nobody who took the experts seriously thought anything else was likely to happen. Even so, if there’s one thing that business likes less than lower profits – it’s uncertainty. Investment plans can only be maintained in the light of an expectation of political stability. Here is a substantive reason to embrace a quick solution as a significant set of influences push for a way to find a stay of execution.

    Hold another election, presided over by parliament, with a central plank of returning to the EU

    Where is the guarantee this will happen? Giving time for the dust to settle, for politics-as-usual (with all that I explored above, about full time politicians) coming back into play, for the propagandists to have the opportunity to say: See, not so bad, see the lies spun by the Fear-Mongering Stayers laid bare …

    No. Now is the hour.

    Peace.



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  • phil rimmer #22
    Jul 3, 2016 at 6:22 am

    Corbyn must do much more than this to re-engage the rest of us. He must side with his youthful supporters against his old northern flat cap socialist.

    Corbyn is an ignorant rebellious ideologist, who has no idea how to lead or how to organise government structures.

    He was elected on a campaign of “lash out at the ‘establishment’ and any authority figures” (including intellectuals, or expert advisors).
    “I’m your man of the people because I’m as ignorant and clueless as you are”!

    Its their future, he must say, sadly. If he engaged the catastrophe as a catastrophe in need of fixing, and not as “the will of the people” as he currently has it, he could romp home in an election.

    Ah! but the election he is planning to win, is attracting more ignorant UKIP supporters into the loony left of the Labour Party, so they can keep him in a leadership position, “fighting the Tories” on a piecemeal basis, as he has no understanding of government or international relations, and no prospect of putting together some co-ordinated policy.

    He needs to heed his right hand man.

    He’s too bigoted, arrogant, and stupid to do that.
    He also has a chorus of ignorant cheerleaders, and a handful of loyal replacement cabinet MPs, he has promoted way above their personal levels of incompetence.
    He needs to be quickly got out of the way, so his deputy can get on with leading and putting some coherent objectives and policies in place.

    Anyone who cared about his party or his country would have gone by now, rather than organising personal attacks on those MPs who told him he was not up to the job, when they gave up trying to get any sense or coherent plan out of him.

    https://www.richarddawkins.net/2016/06/britains-shaky-status-as-a-scientific-superpower/#li-comment-206551



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  • Stafford Gordon #20
    Jul 3, 2016 at 4:44 am

    Referenda are fundamentally undemocratic; especially in a parliamentary democracy, where they are simply surplus to requirements.

    They are the last resort of politicians who wish to dodge responsibility and care nothing about the outcome!

    Wait for the dust to settle, then hold another election, presided over by parliament, with a central plank of returning to the EU.

    Any parts of the UK which leave the EU, will have approximately zero chance of rejoining within years, and they WILL have to meet the usual chapters of terms and conditions, unless I am greatly mistaken.
    That is of course AFTER they have spent years disentangling themselves to leave!

    http://www.b92.net/eng/news/politics.php?yyyy=2015&mm=12&dd=14&nav_id=96353

    Serbia will on Monday open the first two of the 35 chapters in its negotiations to join the EU as a member.

    This will come almost two years after the country formally launched accession negotiations with the organization.

    Aleksandar Vucic and Ivica Dacic said on the eve of the opening of the first chapter that the Serbian side was “absolutely ready” and wanted to complete negotiations by the end of 2019.

    Officials at the European Commission agreed during the screening stage that the Serbian authorities were well prepared and that the Serbian state administration was capable of bearing the burden of long and complex negotiations.

    The length of these talks, however, is difficult to predict as it depends on the readiness of the country, alignment with the EU, the speed of fulfilling the conditions set for opening or closing of chapters, as well as on possible bilateral disputes with EU members, who can block negotiations, since each new step is decided on by all members.



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  • SoW

    Worthwhile change is rooted in the empathy and collective conscience of the educated and politically enfranchised
    … preceded by the Liberals who broke the political franchise of the aristocracy

    Yep and yep.

    I do though see the aspect of fear as a significant driver for good and ill actions.

    A lack of immediate concerns permits both intellectual space for reasoned deliberation and the opportunity for a de facto largesse, a ceding of once exclusive rights. Being fearful about a next meal steals reason and often compassion as we have seen in recent studies, where children from stressed environments have a reduced sense of fairness to others. Compassion breeds wellbeing and wealth, breeds more compassion. Even beyond the enfranchising of the right to vote is the enfranchising of the right to a decent enough life to use it wisely.



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  • Alan,

    I don’t have to go to such lengths as your own to count him a failure and the wrong man for the job. He is a failure as a leader because he is an ideologist with an ideology like Catholicism. No lesser evils can be done in the name of the greater good. The greatest good comes from doing no evil. Pah!

    I’m not going to count him out entirely. If only Tom Watson could take him out on the tiles and get him smoothed out a bit, get him to inhale.

    (Strict adherence to rules cramps innovation and progress as I learned at the British Standards Institute when helping to write new European Standards on lighting. The Directives are the legal documents but all the myriad standards that derive from them, though treated as legal at a first pass are only best guess rulers to help people make quick judgments. If you can make a sound case for not adhering to the detail of the standards but show compliance with the spirit of the Directives then you can innovate to your hearts content. )



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  • Phil, Stephen:

    I agree with much of what you wrote, Phil, but when you speak of the ideologues of the right, I am not sure that I would characterize the American right that way, as just a bunch of ideologues; ideology might not be the sole, the primary element that we are facing: it is a passion driven movement; the conservative moment is will to power fueled by greed and bigotry. The poor and the under-privileged may be facing something more than ideology, something larger and more powerful, something analogous to a (carefully organized) tsunami of passion.

    The right is filled with passionate intensity.

    Is there anything to what I am saying, or does the word ideology include the element of passion?

    Bernie is somewhat presumptuous in his use of the word revolution, but he needs a mantra. If it were a real revolution we wouldn’t have to rely on a seasoned politician running for president, like Bernie (who I like).

    That aside, an insidious, obscure, yet deeply rooted ideology , based on class, is still alive and is as strong as ever in the US.

    Political change is rooted in empathy by the [privileged class]?

    What was that platitude? (Have I misunderstood what I’ve read?) And domination and repression is rooted precisely in domination and repression. An impervious ruling class has always been with us, has never been dismantled. The “political franchise of the aristocracy” has never been broken; it just changed, operates more obliquely, more indirectly. The ideology of one class ruling the subservient inferior ones is alive and well in the US. Power and profit in the hands of the ruling class will stay in motion unless…

    I don’t know precisely how consciousness-raising is brought about, as I intimated last night. But the people can’t wait passively for mom and pop, the wealthy corporate elitists to start being empathic. Change comes from grass roots movements that demand change. However telling working and middle class and lower income people to read, as I had said, is not quite enough. They need housing and good schools and good jobs That is a social democracy. They need safety nets, good health care, medicare for all, some help to feel dignified and useful. The poor are the pawns of the 1%. I understand their rage and they emulate a violent, militaristic society that is about greed and self interest. Our system is corrupt and complicated. (Some of Lyndon Johnson’s welfare initiatives did great harm, kept people down.)



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  • Stephen

    “Even Karl Marx, master of the offhand and outstandingly obvious (before going off on a tangent), noticed that education can be subverted…”

    Such silliness, and denigration of Marx, one of the most influential political theorists of the past two hundred years, sounds ignorant, raises doubts as to your judgment. Have you studied Marx? And what do you really know about socialism and the struggle for liberation?

    “Worthwhile change is rooted in the empathy and collective conscience of the educated and politically enfranchised.”

    This is very simplistic and history does not entirely support it.



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  • Dan

    The poor and the under-privileged may be facing something more than ideology

    But half of them cleave to Randian right wing ideology, did they but know it. They may know a little more that Creflo Dollar is surely right that they would be deserving if only they planted a seed in his bank account. They have drunk of the cool aid and are bound for glory in the land of opportunity if only the gummint would just get off there backs and keep the undeserving poor out of their face.

    What makes an ideology not merely bad but dangerous is entirely passion like any religion. A set of answers (the dogma) is soooo congenial that it is inoculated for all time to any attack. Ideologies are Passion subverting Intellect.

    What I want you to do is plant your feet in the other OECD countries and see in the US the fear in all the marginalised folk. The nearness to disaster in the minds of far too many. People put on a brave show because that is what you are supposed to do. The USA has no narratives of failure. Every story out of every TV set is about eventual success except for those who deserve failure…never the unlucky protagonist. The expectations are impossibly high, and this silences those near to failure until it is too late. In the UK most TV stories are about failure and coping with it. Failure is a socially punishable offence and the result of insufficient faith in the ideology of deserved success, but never the result of terrible education or absent healthcare or job prospects.

    Read “On the Run” by Alice Goffman to discover your country.

    Fear is the key, not the left or right ideologies the drowning cling to. Be much more picky about who you demonise. Haidt’s opinions on his work is neither here nor there. What it says though is clear. The most fearful are those on the right. These are the conservatives who wish to preserve what social capital they know and have. These are the most exploitable by the simple act of fear mongering, the job of the US media.

    These folks will never vote in their own interests, but the compassionate, well to do, understanding the USA’s problem of early success without comprehension (the American approach was not so amazing…Americans mostly just had a huge, near virgin land you could rape) may vote for a more mature, detailed national infrastructure to sustain it into the future.



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  • Dan #31

    Except for revolutions, where the masses almost always lost got had in some way or other, worthwhile improvements for the less fortunate were mostly rooted in the compassionate actions of the sufficiently rich and enfranchised. Certainly UK history shows this again and again. The lack of a true revolution in Britain resulted in properly monotonic gains for the under-privileged unlike the erratic rides of the revolutionaries. Only things like the enclosures act or Thatcherism (Reganomics re-branded) put a downward slope on things, which latter is still to be fixed.

    No shaking it off. The ball is in your court to act. Its your taxes you will be arguing to have increased to help them.



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  • Phil (#32), Stephen,

    Thanks again, for that rich and insightful post, Phil.

    Goffman? Okay… I’ve read H. Miller, Mailer, and other great critics of American life, and have, already, discovered much. But there is always room for other influences.

    Very Interesting point about our different relationships to success and failure, “here” in the US, and “there” in the UK.

    “One learns as much from one’s failures as one does from one’s victories.” —Mailer (paraphrased)

    I wish we could allow ourselves to learn from our failures. But we can’t even take collective responsibility for them; all we do is blame.

    (Off-topic: you use a lot of interesting and, to me, somewhat unfamiliar words and phrases. I’ve been wondering if these are British words and phrases which are less unfamiliar to other Brits. Example: “gummint.” I encounter similar (unfamiliar) words and phrases when I read Kingsley Amis, who was a very British writer, and was absolutely wonderful. Do you agree? )

    Stephen,

    I wasn’t saying that you’re ignorant. (#31) Obviously you’re anything but ignorant; however, the reference to Marx suggested a lack of knowledge of the man and his writings.

    Peace!!



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  • Dan,

    I know I write funny. This has a long history and my fight against stammering which plagued me as a child. The solution came when I learned Latin, loved it, and my vocabulary seemingly quadrupled. I had a lot of new choices for words and could avoid the ones that gave me trouble. I still do it in writing it seems. I seem to choose words that will flow smoothly when I re-read them.

    There was a web site that would put a date on your style and language. I nearly always sat between 1900 and 1930. I can’t find it now.

    This one

    https://iwl.me/

    liken’s your style to some analysed author.

    I put in two pieces of yours. Kurt Vonnegut and James Fenimore Cooper it said.

    I put in three posts from this thread. It said Defoe, Orwell and Orwell. I’d be much happier with Vonnegut.



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  • Hi Dan [#30 & #31],

    Political change is rooted in empathy by the [privileged class]?

    Yes, inasmuch as the noun identifies the subsequent actions denoting a struggle for political change.

    What was that platitude?

    You think that this phrase is used too often? I do not pretend that empathy alone is responsible for political change – but the fact that empathy leads to a greater understanding of the positions of others in wider society is as inescapable as is its place in history.

    An impervious ruling class has always been with us, has never been dismantled.

    That is as imperious a view of history as the ruling class you claim to identify. On what evidence do you base this theorem?

    The “political franchise of the aristocracy” has never been broken; it just changed, operates more obliquely, more indirectly.

    Ahem, just a nod you understand Dan; that sounds a little conspiratorial … ?

    The ideology of one class ruling the subservient inferior ones is alive and well in the US

    Of that I have no doubt.

    No-one claimed that once won democracy was a done deal. Every generation must find and conquer the forces of self-interest that seek (sometimes inadvertently, or ignorantly – sometimes not) to subvert that democracy.

    I don’t know precisely how consciousness-raising is brought about …

    Imagine, for one moment of madness, that you like guns. You quickly identify that, at best, a very large number of your fellow Americans do not like guns.

    How do you raise the subject of guns, in a positive way, among your fellow citizens? You might do it be appealing to their emotions. You might add links to the dogmatic beliefs of many – such as the legal-religious notion of the Constitution as inviolable or the idea that violence in society is rising and that arming oneself is merely rational based on that ’evidence’ – in short, you raise the idea of gun ownership as a social good in the conscious thinking of your fellow citizens.

    There are many ways to do this, but here’s just two: Promote (’interpret’, spin, lie) any news that involves guns – and create fictional stories that show gun ownership in the best possible light.

    Change comes from grass roots movements that demand change

    That is certainly possible, but the results are not usually desirable. The Russian and Chinese Communist revolutions were many things – but no-one could call them benign.

    Change can also come without revolution. The British Whigs, Peelites and Radicals of the 1850’s succeeded in making great changes to Britain that wholly undermined the oligarchy of the time. Some blood was shed (the Peterloo Massacre of 1819 for example) and it took a long time – but eventually the Great Reform Act of 1832 opened up Parliament to a constituency that did not depend on the aristocracy. No revolution required. Parliament, for all its many faults, had proved the worth of talking shops.

    However telling working and middle class and lower income people to read, as I had said, is not quite enough. They need housing and good schools and good jobs … [etc.]

    Yes, Phil also made this point; it is easier to exercise empathy when one has a full belly, a dry head and a warm blanket – then it becomes easy to share your bread, and to demand bread for those others when your own runs out.

    The poor are the pawns of the 1%

    Some are, some aren’t. I’m not wealthy, am I a pawn? I certainly hope not.

    SoW: Even Karl Marx, master of the offhand and outstandingly obvious (before going off on a tangent), noticed that education can be subverted…
    .
    Dan: Such silliness, and denigration of Marx, one of the most influential political theorists of the past two hundred years

    Influential in what sense?

    I see a number of failed revolutions (at the costs of tens of millions if not hundreds of millions of lives, and the benightedness of countless other lives), a man who was frequently called an economist – but is not read by budding economists, a man who was frequently called a social scientist – but who’s sociology so lacks credibility that it no longer makes the reading lists of most institutions.

    Were he alive today Marx, it seems to me, would call himself a political scientist or a political philosopher. Fail, and fail.

    … sounds ignorant, raises doubts as to your judgment

    You forget Dan, as I have previously posted many times, my life was the Cold War and it’s immediate aftermath. My opinion of Marx is based on the achievements – but mostly the lack of same – of his acolytes.

    Have you studied Marx?

    What, one wonders, are Stephen’s views on the epistemological differences between Aquinas and Duns Scotus? Has he read Eriugena on subjectivity, Rahner on grace or Moltmann on hope?

    That’s the best you’ve got Dan – an ad hominem suggestion that I’m closed-minded and insufficiently well read?

    And what do you really know about socialism and the struggle for liberation?

    Oh dear, the Courtier’s Reply, now we are scraping the bottom of the barrel. I have not studied theology – sorry: socialism – and I am therefore unqualified to discuss evidence for or against the goodness of socialism.

    I did attempt to read Das Kapital. Like the Bible I found it turgid, dense and dogmatic.

    SoW: Worthwhile change is rooted in the empathy and collective conscience of the educated and politically enfranchised
    .
    Dan: This is very simplistic and history does not entirely support it

    Let me read again the stories of the many revolutions of the ignorant that were kind and bloodless, let me study once more the records of the cold-hearted rulers of individual conscience – and such conscience that they held themselves to be superior, let me hear recounted again the narratives of the victims of change without compassion (and there are, oh, so many), let me wallow once more in the brilliance of leadership by the uneducated …

    In my reading of history, it is you who couldn’t be more wrong Dan.

    Peace.



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  • Excellent interview

    “Poverty has always accompanied capitalism (as Thomas Piketty’s work documents yet again). As an economic system, it has proven to be as successful in producing wealth at one pole as it is in producing poverty at the other. Periodic “rediscoveries of” and campaigns against poverty have not changed that. Capitalism’s defenders, having long promoted the system as the means to overcome both absolute and relative poverty (i.e. to be an equalizing system), now change their tune. They either abandon equality as a social good or goal or else try to avoid discussing poverty altogether.” —Richard D. Wolff

    http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/36662-poverty-has-always-accompanied-capitalism



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  • Phil (and Stephen),

    Fear is the key, not the left or right ideologies the drowning cling to.

    I don’t want to get into another fruitless debate about the concept of ideology, but I don’t like this. Leftist ideology and rightist ideology do not constitute two symmetrical halves of a whole! What precisely is the difference between a set of working principles or ideas and an ideology? Is this ideological (below)?

    I am quoting myself here (with one minor alteration). This is what I think. Leftist ideology?

    Change comes from grass roots movements that demand change (and empathy, guidance, instruction and leadership from the educated and politically franchised, is important too). The disenfranchised, the poor, the exploited, need housing and good schools and good jobs. That is a social democracy. They need safety nets, good health care, some help to feel dignified and useful.



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  • Dan

    Don’t know why you said this.

    Leftist ideology and rightist ideology do not constitute two symmetrical halves of a whole!

    I never claimed they were. As you know I am of the left and naturally favour those ideas of fairness and mutuality over a more robust individualism and necessary self sufficiency. Indeed I pointed out the particular association of the right with a more anxious mode, fearful of the loss of social capital and the (per Haidt) need for group loyalty, purity of institutions etc.

    But the actions we saw in the UK were (left or right) the result of fear and austerity measures. Trump works by summoning fear and specious threat. As I indicated this works particularly well with the right.

    In both cases dealing with the root driver by increasing the well-being of the have-nots would prevent stupid (and self-harming) decisions being taken.

    My request that you not demonise the fearful of the right is so you may actually deal with the motivating fear and not focus on the never thought through ideology and judge them undeserving. They are all the electorate.



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  • Stephen

    Marx

    I can quite agree with the style assessment of Das Kapital. However, though I come out in a rash near economists thinking them mostly entrail readers, Marx’s insights were truly mould breaking and important. Bettany Hughes’ set of programs has been exceptional in my view. I think she gets the balance about right.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07gpdbx

    Her program on Freud was pitch perfect. A.C.Grayling’s commentary allowed the good and nailed the scientific failure of the later superstructure of his theories.



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  • Olgun #46
    Jul 4, 2016 at 1:54 am

    Ideology I can live with (in video below).

    The video – now years down the line, correctly identifies the issues of the credit crunch where we can all be wise after the event, and repeat information which has come to light over the years since the banking crisis.

    I would take the loony left who are now supporting Corbyn’s rhetoric (not to be confused with constructive actions) more seriously, if a local sample of them, who are now blindly supporting Corbyn, and attacking the MPs who have warned of his incompetence, had not been actively opposing and obstructing my efforts to bring Gordon Brown and Ed Balls out of denial as the banking crisis developed.

    It came to public attention with the wilfully and recklessly generated run on Northern Rock, caused by the refusal of the Bank of England to provide the commercial support which was their responsibility as a central bank, and the irresponsible premature disclosure of time embargoed confidential information by the BBC about an application for a loan which Northern Rock did not even need right then!

    The clueless then set about fitting up Northern Rock as a scapegoat, while sitting in denial of the credit crunch and prevaricating.

    The Bank of England has since provided vastly greater loans to banks, which unlike Northern Rock, were actually insolvent due to participation in the sub-prime market and reckless lending, – not merely looking for a commercial loan at normal rates, to get over the international borrowing crisis, so as to fix their short term liquidity problem.

    The crisis was caused by years of eroding away the regulatory safeguards which were put in place in the 1930s after the Wall Street Crash, – with progressively more reckless lending being actively encouraged by big profits from feeding unregulated credit into inflationary property bubbles.

    The US and British governments were still considering further de-regulation, when the crisis hit!

    Even now, banks are feeding property price inflation in the buy to let market, by borrowing from the Bank of England for next to nothing, and lending at interest rates well below the rate of house-price inflation!



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  • Motives are the causes. We are not our brains. The brain is, as it were, dead matter (bag of meat); no person in there.

    Dan,
    Ok, then, where is the I.D if not a manifestation of electrical impulses and chemical changes in the “dead” matter of our brains?



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  • Alan #50

    I was a relatively low earning electrician when some of my friends were raking it in in the city. Pretty soon after that the .com bubble began to inflate, and inflate, and inflate. I knew nothing about it but was always amazed at how it went unchecked for so long. I sat mouth open as my accountant friend tried to explain market forces that just did not make sense. I said that it just had to stretch beyond its limits and explode with a mighty bang but he said they knew what they were doing. The mad frenzy went on and on and I still don’t understand it or why.

    In my mind, the ideology of Cornyn is exactly what we need but that too needs safeguards against a frenzy as we can’t have it all. My support is for the thousands and thousands of young men and women that have said enough is enough of the Blairite American style politics with jacket off, shirt sleeves turned up and ‘call me Tony’ crap. Even Cameron gave it a go but it does not suit him one bit. I think, if not forced into a corner and with the right approach, Corbyn might grow into the role. Honesty might be his friend and I don’t believe you can be too honest as some people use the term as a put down. Canada will benefit from it I think and so can we. There will be some surprises in store for Corbyn in that the rest don’t play fair and will think him weak but with good support I think he can ride the storm if he reacts honestly and more importantly is honest with the voters. We really have had enough of double talk and ‘they won’t understand anyway’ shit.



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  • Worthwhile change is rooted in the empathy and collective conscience of the educated and politically enfranchised.

    What does this even mean? Why hasn’t it happened yet? A lot of time has elapsed and the world is swarming with inequity, poverty, exploitation. I called this a platitude. I call it now sheer vacuous and evasive, elitist nonsense. What should the poor do, wait passively for pipe-smoking intellectuals and bleeding-heart liberal politicians to take them by the hand and say “we feel your pain; here are some food stamps and a pat on the shoulder. Now go away”?



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  • M27, #51

    Hi. What does “I.D” mean? Do you mean the I? I can’t answer that right off the bat. If I could I’d be famous over night. Just raising a question, and an objection to the notion that we are our brains. Sorry if that question doesn’t sit comfortably with you.



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  • Olgun #53
    Jul 4, 2016 at 11:44 am

    My support is for the thousands and thousands of young men and women that have said enough is enough of the Blairite American style politics with jacket off, shirt sleeves turned up and ‘call me Tony’ crap.

    Blair was a Bush-Buddy who stole Thatcher’s clothes to curry support and stay in power. His spending on the silly Iraq war was a contributor to the financial crisis, although it was peanuts compared to the the $4 to $6 trillion Bush cost the US.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/defence/10859545/Wars-in-Iraq-and-Afghanistan-were-a-failure-costing-29bn.html
    Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were a ‘failure’ costing £29bn

    Even Cameron gave it a go but it does not suit him one bit. I think, if not forced into a corner and with the right approach, Corbyn might grow into the role.

    I don’t think so, judging from what I have read of his writings, and the informed judgement of the majority of the Labour MPs.

    I think Tom Watson has the capacity to be an effective leader, but Corbyn is just a ranting ideology preacher who connects with the ignorant and badly informed, cannot connect with reality.
    He wants to lead the kamikaze charges down ideological dead ends, and then duck and dodge playing the martyr, or be the big cheese negotiating the surrender, – as he has done over hard won European trade agreements and employment protection laws, but he really has nothing practical to offer.

    Honesty might be his friend

    In making judgements on government, administration and European agreements, he is just making stuff up as he goes along.
    He is simply too ignorant and incompetent to be honest (not the same as delusionally sincere), as he babbles on with no understanding of what he is saying, or what the implications of his actions are likely to be. He has crashed the Labour Party, and is still in denial, because he is too dim and blinkered to recognise that it was his fault and his actions/inactions, which caused the problems.

    Kicking out at the Euro MPs who are working for the ordinary citizens, in anti-establishment rage, really is stupid, when acting in revenge for the actions of Bush, Blair, and the Westminster Tory government.
    It is even more stupid, if that Tory government leadership is consequently handed over to the right wing loony fringe Tories! – Especially if the restraining influence of the European legislation which THEY hate, is removed!

    Labour has many capable MPs with much more competence and vision than Jeremy Corbyn.
    He has a significant amount of responsibility for the present brexit chaos and messed up finances, with his silly political manoeuvrings likely to have lost the “Remain Campaign” a few percent of the vote!
    His follow up with stupid calls to “respect” the decisions of those conned and who had no idea what they were voting on, have also made things worse!

    He is a rebel against authority and refuses to use or recognise expert authority!
    As such, he will always be a rebel, and never a leader!

    Chanting ideology is very different to operating policy!



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  • Phil, 48

    I continue to be confused by your use of what is to me, an ambiguous term: “ideology” – which has many meanings and usages. That is why I said that.

    Reading Steven Pinker or listening to A.C. Grayling to learn about Marxism is like listening to Beyonce to understand Thelonious Monk.

    Read Antonio Gramsci.



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  • Addendum to comment 56

    I am not sure how we end inequality. Bottom up? Top down? Both? I need to study that.

    I just think that empathy isn’t the only answer. And the oppressed need to be awakened somehow and play a role in this ongoing process – which is against the grain. Entrenched interests don’t just disappear. Those who profit from the degradation of others are not inclined to just step aside.



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  • Alan #58

    I have to ask where these MPs have been for all these years while the ship was sinking? Why don’t they back Corbyn, who has the support of the people and guide him?

    It is time to stop this stupid political infighting and pull together. I don’t trust a single one of them. All have vested interests and unless they see where their strengths lie I will stick with Corbyn. All the experience of the others has seen labour lose out and I can’t blame Corbyn for the breakup alone. A different type of politics is needed and the old school has not budged an inch.



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  • Hi Phil [#49],

    I come out in a rash near economists thinking them mostly entrail readers

    🙂

    Economists are easily persuaded to over-reach and when they refuse to do so politicians usually do it for them. If Economists were allowed to pursue their art with the full rigour of science they would quickly become political pariahs – just like environment scientists. Whisper it: Political favour leads to some fiddling of the figures. Just like a scientific result, you can’t rely on a single study – repeated studies, overlapping studies and complimentary studies are needed to make economics accurate. We all know how often that happens so, ’nuff said.

    Note the warnings of multiple economists coming true after Brexit (all experts in national macro-economics and all researching Brexit, a rare case of overlapping economic forecasting in a narrow area). Facts like these are the inconvenient truths that politicians of the fanatical sort fear and loath.

    Just like environment scientists, or impressionist art, economists’ presentations are best viewed individually from two steps back – take in the whole picture, read all the caveats. This is also the best way to read Marx – in isolation, premises accepted, he was undoubtedly a clever chap. But the proof of the pudding and all that …

    I saw Bettany Hughes on Marx (but I missed the others – thank you for the reminder). I agree, she gets the balance about right, largely, it seems to me, due to farming out lots of the heavy lifting to some proper experts (Hughes could probably have done it solo, I’m guessing the producers were just doing their best to forestall communist critics). I was particularly interested to see leftists admitting, albeit seemingly dragged out of them, that Marx’s ideas haven’t quite worked out just yet.

    I always liked that old joke, how did it go … Marx returns from the dead and travels to Moscow (or Beijing) and immediately a large angry crowd gathers complaining about the failures of communism (sorry: Communism, I forgot that religions are capitalised). Marx is astonished and says: Hang on! It was only an idea!

    Its an idea that has been tried by about a quarter of the World’s countries for well over half a century – and every single one of those countries has dumped it, revised it until Marx is a mere ‘Holy-Man-Founder’ or they’ve corrupted it to mean something completely different.

    I have some sympathy with democratic socialists – I’ve long had a soft spot for Rosa Luxembourg (an economist by the way) – but I’m sorry to say that when Marx comes up my gag reflex kicks in.

    Interestingly Marx and Luxembourg fit our description of real movers and shakers, they came from the cosy ranks of the bourgeoisie.

    Peace.



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  • @ Stephen, and all those who equate Marxism with religion or fascism, and dismiss it as ideological:

    Sorry: Communism, I forgot that religions are capitalised). Marx is astonished and says: Hang on! It was only an idea! (By the way Soviet Communism under Lenin, a practical man, that is, before Stalin, was not unsuccessful.)

    You said you’ve only read a tiny bit of Das Kapital. Yet you continue to ridicule and misrepresent Marx. Is that what a good scientist does when he evaluates complex theories?

    I have some sympathy with democratic socialists.

    Congrats! As opposed to what, free market fundamentalism, trickle-down economics?

    Marx and Luxembourg fit our description of real movers and shakers, they came from the cosy ranks of the bourgeoisie.

    I thought that change came from the empathy of the educated and politically franchised.

    Here’s a quote (on the bottom) from a great essay, from someone who really understood Marx , a quote from someone who was nuanced and enlightened, and who wrote about socialism for years and years, who was a genuine, highly respected socialist scholar: Prof. Frank R., my late father.

    [Short version of an article, and his accomplishments. This is from an article by my cousin Walter Cohen, an eminent Shakespeare scholar: I’m grateful for this remembrance of Frank R[…] (1927-2014), who was my first cousin once removed (first cousin of my mother). Below I paste in the obituary from the NY Times, and you can find out more about Frank’s prolific career by Googling him and then going to his Amazon and Barnes & Noble pages. There you’ll learn that he wrote books on Pratolini, the Italian Antifascist Press, Gramsci, Leopardi, CLR James, and Proust; composed a memoir, Through Partisan Eyes; edited Gramsci’s letters; founded the journal Socialism and Democracy; and much more. A high percentage of this work occurred after he retired.[…} After Frank retired from CUNY, he returned to the school as a doctoral student in French, completing his degree [his second PhD] and publishing his thesis on The Writings of the Young Marcel Proust (2001), a work I have used in my own writing. Dating from after this period—indeed, mostly from the current decade—are the completion of his books on James (2008), Leopardi (2012), and Gramsci (2013), as well as his memoir (2014).[…]

    George Snedeker’s statement hits the right note: Frank was a genuinely modest gentleman, and I agree that the combination of that modesty with leftist politics is uncommon—in his generation as well as after.]

    Here is my late father, once again, on Marxism as approached by the greatest Marxist thinker of all times Antonio Gramsci, and by the Trinidadian political scientist C.L.R. James:

    “First of all, organicist imagery is pervasive in the writings of both men. They both sought to integrate it into their understanding of Marxism as an integral, comprehensive conception of the world. They were both disturbed by the tendency of many self-styled Marxists to apply Marxist theory in a mechanistic manner, which accounts in part for their frequent recourse to the word “organic.” Marxism for Gramsci and James was not a closed, static system unaffected by change. They believed that Marxism, like all bodies of thought rooted in human experience, must constantly renew itself, must draw from other currents of thought in order to remain relevant and viable. As a result of this premise, they were able in large measure to avoid the dangers of sectarianism and dogmatism. Neither felt constrained to reject automatically insights into historical, political and cultural problems merely because they did not conform to an established set of canonical doctrines and texts.”



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  • Olgun #61
    Jul 4, 2016 at 1:43 pm

    Alan #58

    I have to ask where these MPs have been for all these years while the ship was sinking?

    Corbin’s bunch are not new, They are just a reincarnation of Militant Tendency.

    Why don’t they back Corbyn, who has the support of the people and guide him?

    The problem is that “the people” who are guiding him have no idea how to run the economy or mange the country. They are the ideological ignorant who do not even know which political structures (Councils, elected mayors, Westminster, Europe, World, trusts, charities, etc .) are responsible for decisions at the different levels. Most are manipulated by ideological extremists and the trash media!

    It is time to stop this stupid political infighting and pull together. I don’t trust a single one of them.

    I think 172 to 40 spells it out from colleagues who have tried to work with him. Corbyn could have stopped the infighting if he had stepped down and then stood for election, but he is not prepared to put the interests of his country or party first.

    All have vested interests and unless they see where their strengths lie I will stick with Corbyn.

    You only have to look as far as the union leaders who are shouting for Corbyn, to see where the vested interests lie.

    All the experience of the others has seen labour lose out and I can’t blame Corbyn for the breakup alone.

    Corbyn is OK if you want the sort of unelectable politics of Tony Ben and Michael Foot! Pure Left ideology in perpetual opposition! – and that was before the Scottish Nationalists took most of the seats from Labour north of the border.

    A different type of politics is needed and the old school has not budged an inch.

    Some basic political skills are needed in political leaders – like the capability to understand administration, seek expert advice, consult with colleagues, and comprehend and draft legislation!
    Shouting ideology from opposition benches and losing parliamentary votes, is not helping any of the people achieve policy objectives.

    In event of a hung parliament with Corbyn as a leader there would be zero chance of forming a coalition.
    He cannot even co-operate with, or listen to, his own MPs, or cabinet members.



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  • Stephen

    Marx.

    Marx, like Freud started well and then went wrong. What he started as a mode of analysis was more complete than what went before. What followed like with ALL other economists up until recently rapidly became bunk whenever human wants, needs and behaviours were involved. Only recently have the often irrational heuristics used by folk to make financial judgments been even realised. Only in the last decade or two have economists started to suspect something was awry and that value is a linear function of money up to a threshold of bare sufficiency and then transitions to a logarithmic relationship. Theories of utilitarianism have not kept pace even now and when they find the astonishing spread between folks of these heuristics and value curves and the myriad of other reward mechanism that supplement value (from the NHS and the wiping away of fears to free concerts in the streets…London is fantastic at the moment….bread and circuses) they will have to bolt on another extra modules far bigger than their original set of theories.

    Economics, maybe taking in some of the new disciplines like those due to Professor Peter Turchin that seek to accommodate cultural evolution in a quantitative way, maybe the disciplines of economic epidemiologists like Professors Kate PIckett and Richard Wilkinson, will have the far more sophisticated models with moles of dopamine per dollar functions, etc. etc.

    Marx is not the guilty party in the ideology of Marxism. More than any economic thinker at the time he realised the potential complexity that should really lie behind a valid economic theory. He just underestimated that complexity by a further order of magnitude. The details of a his broadened process of analysis, were taken up, gourd and shoe, and turned into yet another pair of dogmatic shears to fleece the flock.



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  • Dan

    Reading Steven Pinker or listening to A.C. Grayling to learn about Marxism is like listening to Beyonce to understand Thelonious Monk.

    A.C.Grayling took Freud to task for his poor science. As a science psychology savvy philosopher. His plaudits and caveats were perfect in my judgment.

    You make a grave mistake in your continued denigration of well informed polymaths like Pinker and Grayling. Evidence of error rather than this endless appeal to antique authority is what is needed to have me not dismiss your opinions with equally little attention.



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  • Olgun #61
    Jul 4, 2016 at 1:43 pm

    Why don’t they back Corbyn, who has the support of the people and guide him?

    To put it briefly:-

    I would say it is because Corbyn has demonstrated in his handling of the fight over brexit, that his strategy is that selling the people down the river is quite alright by him, providing he is in charge of negotiating the sale! – and he has no integrity problem with posing as their saviour whilst doing so!

    He is like the quacks, who delude themselves and their followers, that their quackery works!

    I have seen politicians of his kind many times before! – and have sat on committees with some of them!



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  • @ Alan4discusion #64, probably other posts, and others

    correct me if I’m wrong, but my impression is that you consider ideology to be something limited to The Left. Very much the opposite, the most dangerous ideology this side of Islamist fanatics in about the last thirty-five years has been what, imperfect as the term is as an antipode to “Keynesianism”, I would call “Friedmanism”. I own and have read Milton Friedman’s classic “Capitalism and Freedom” (the error, as one can discern from the activities of his “disciples”, is the use of the word “and” instead of the correct word “or” – see Greg Palast’s books “The Best Democracy Money Can Buy” and “Armed Madhouse” – and more than a handful of books by other authors), and have found it to be one of the most pathetic tomes I have ever had to grind my way through (not totally wrong, but mostly, even when right, for the wrong reasons).
    Maggie T, whom I consider to be a definite psychopath, became Prime Minister of the UK in 1979. The next disaster was the election of Alzheimer Ronnie as President of the US in 1980. And last was the desertion of Helmut Schmidt’s Social Democratic-Liberal coalition, which was elected in 1980, by the F.D.P (“Freie Demokratische Partei”, a very smallish political party with liberal to libertarian leanings, massively so in the latter sense for the last thirty years), to join the “other Helmut” (Kohl) and his Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in a new coalition government. So for me, politically, the 1980s only (barely? I’m not old enough to judge, having been born in the 1950s) had competition for crap post-WW II decade from the 1950s.
    Well.
    1992. Election of William Jefferson Clinton of the Democratic Party as President of the US.
    1997. Tony Blair of the (New) Labour Party becomes Prime Minister of the UK.
    1998. Gerhard Schroeder of the Social Democratic Party becomes Chancellor of Germany.
    Yay?
    Ahh … no.
    To an unfortunate degree, all three were “red-painted” (and red is an ambiguous color in the US) versions of their predecessors. They may all have been “better” than their predecessors in not being (in their actual politics, which may not have very much to do with their respective propaganda) such foaming-at-the-mouth “Friedmanist” ideologues. They unfortunately all still believed too much of Milton’s crap (see Greg Palast’s books above). What I consider their most heinous “crimes” are that they gave “Friedmanism” a respectability it never deserved (as it still does not, and never will, in my opinion). There has been much talk about technocrats, supposedly “scientific” and dispassionate technicians of government for far too many decades. Most of these technocrats, and the vast majority of the corrupt scum of the EU doing back-room deals with criminal lobbyists (and from the industry side, very few lobbyists are not criminal, nor are their lawyers – think of Robert Duvall of “The Godfather” fame mob lawyers), have been “Friedmanists”, or, in my opinion, the second most dangerous ideologues this side of Islamist fanatics.



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  • @dan

    objection to the notion that we are our brains.

    You say you object to the notion that “we are our brains” (unless I misread).
    What are we then? You’re about to re-invent the “soul”, aren’t you?



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  • GrumpyKraut #69
    Jul 4, 2016 at 6:47 pm

    @ Alan4discusion #64, probably other posts, and others

    correct me if I’m wrong, but my impression is that you consider ideology to be something limited to The Left.

    No.
    My references to ideology on this thread, have been specific to three political factions in relation to the UK European referendum.
    (The Right wing pro-brexiteers of the Tory Party such as Gove,
    Farage and UKIP,
    and the Left wing of the Labour Party with its new leader Corbyn.)



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  • My friends,

    Correction from #63

    Sorry: Communism, I forgot that religions are capitalised). Marx is astonished and says: Hang on! It was only an idea! (By the way Soviet Communism under Lenin, a practical man, that is, before Stalin, was not unsuccessful.)

    I wrote this sentence: “(By the way Soviet Communism under Lenin, a practical man, that is, before Stalin, was not unsuccessful.)” It shouldn’t have been highlighted.

    Sorry, Phil, I just don’t think Pinker, with his groundless optimism, is that great. I’ve read about as much by Pinker as Stephen has read by Marx; so who knows? Maybe I’m wrong. Everyone’s an expert on this site –including me. I have that tendency too, to profess to know more than I do at times. We all have to watch that.

    OHooligan, I don’t know. Get a film of someone undergoing brain surgery and tell me whether that is the man himself (whatever that means, and that is the question) that you are looking at at the other end of those scalpels. Reinventing the soul? Maybe. Maybe.

    Freud said a lot, was brilliant. Come on, Phil. You criticize Freud and defend Pinker?

    “It is impossible to escape the impression that people commonly use false standards of measurement — that they seek power, success and wealth for themselves and admire them in others, and that they underestimate what is of true value in life.”
    ― Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents

    “He that has eyes to see and ears to hear may convince himself that no mortal can keep a secret. If his lips are silent, he chatters with his fingertips; betrayal oozes out of him at every pore.”
    ― Sigmund Freud, Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis

    “Humanity has in the course of time had to endure from the hands of science two great outrages upon its naive self-love. The first was when it realized that our earth was not the center of the universe, but only a tiny speck in a world-system of a magnitude hardly conceivable; this is associated in our minds with the name of Copernicus, although Alexandrian doctrines taught something very similar. The second was when biological research robbed man of his peculiar privilege of having been specially created, and relegated him to a descent from the animal world, implying an ineradicable animal nature in him: this transvaluation has been accomplished in our own time upon the instigation of Charles Darwin, Wallace, and their predecessors, and not without the most violent opposition from their contemporaries. But man’s craving for grandiosity is now suffering the third and most bitter blow from present-day psychological research which is endeavoring to prove to the ego of each one of us that he is not even master in his own house, but that he must remain content with the veriest scraps of information about what is going on unconsciously in his own mind. We psycho-analysts were neither the first nor the only ones to propose to mankind that they should look inward; but it appears to be our lot to advocate it most insistently and to support it by empirical evidence which touches every man closely.”
    ― Sigmund Freud, Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis



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  • Dan #73

    Freud said a lot, was brilliant. Come on, Phil. You criticize Freud and defend Pinker?

    I would also do the reverse where appropriate. I have offered no blanket criticisms or approvals. This is just some weird idea of yours that once an authority always an authority. This ever since our third exchange about Schopenhauer. Observations continue to accumulate. Its no fault of the old nor a virtue of the learned young.

    And why can’t you stick to the specific? It was not Marx and Grayling. It was not Pinker and Freud. It was Grayling and Freud. And Grayling mightily approved of his early work.



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  • Dan at #57

    Hi. What does “I.D” mean? Do you mean the I? I can’t answer that right off the bat. If I could I’d be famous over night. Just raising a question, and an objection to the notion that we are our brains. Sorry if that question doesn’t sit comfortably with you.

    Empirically proven , current neurological science states that consciousness IS seated in the brain. Where else could it be – I’m sorry but woo woo about souls etc – won’t cut it on here. Give me the science that has detected the consciousness as an energy force OUTSIDE of the brain – and I just might take you seriously! To be fair,. most of the arguments on this site are becoming tediously personal and subjective without much basis in any of the sciences. Personal political views (veiled beneath Orwellian subterfuge) are what is mostly considered as “right” and anything that opposes it as “wrong”…ho…hum…



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  • M27

    most of the arguments on this site are becoming tediously personal and subjective without much basis in any of the sciences. Personal political views (veiled beneath Orwellian subterfuge) are what is mostly considered as “right” and anything that opposes it as “wrong”…ho…hum…

    Some of us are more directly engaged in the political and economic processes of the nation and have our immediate plans up-ended at the least, and properly damaged at the worst. Your hand wavy complaint doesn’t add to the discussion. A specific complaint might.



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  • Hi Alan. Don’t know if you missed my question about TTIP above somewhere but would like to know more on that. Phil? Or anyone.
    Seems like a fire-frying pan situation?



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  • Olgun #72
    Jul 4, 2016 at 8:08 pm

    Alan

    Where does TTIP come into all of this?

    TTIP involves harmonising Euro – American standards.
    European standards are generally higher so there is concern that these will be watered down to US levels.

    However if the Brexiteers take over the UK Tories, and negotiate separately, they will probably be watered down a lot more – or the UK may simple be excluded from the deal and left out in the cold.

    https://www.ttip-leaks.org/
    Greenpeace Netherlands has released secret TTIP negotiation documents. We have done so to provide much needed transparency and trigger an informed debate on the treaty. This treaty is threatening to have far reaching implications for the environment and the lives of more than 800 million citizens in the EU and US.

    Whether you care about environmental issues, animal welfare, labour rights or internet privacy, you should be concerned about what is in these leaked documents. They underline the strong objections civil society and millions of people around the world have voiced: TTIP is about a huge transfer of power from people to big business.

    https://www.ttip-leaks.org/
    The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) is an ambitious, comprehensive, and high-standard trade and investment agreement being negotiated between the United States and the European Union (EU). T-TIP will help unlock opportunity for American families, workers, businesses, farmers and ranchers through increased access to European markets for Made-in-America goods and services. This will help to promote U.S. international competitiveness, jobs and growth.



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  • Olgun #53
    Jul 4, 2016 at 11:44 am

    Alan #50

    In my mind, the ideology of Corbyn is exactly what we need but that too needs safeguards against a frenzy as we can’t have it all.

    You are confusing his talk with his walk!

    There will be some surprises in store for Corbyn in that the rest don’t play fair and will think him weak

    The vote of no-confidence in him, probably came as a surprise, as it does to those incompetents filled with Dunning-Kruger confidence!

    but with good support I think he can ride the storm if he reacts honestly and more importantly is honest with the voters. We really have had enough of double talk and ‘they won’t understand anyway’ shit.

    You are missing out on his total disconnect from reality!

    His priority is fighting other political parties (and probably “heroically” losing on all issues) to try to recruit some of their members.

    The Monty Python sketch What Have the Romans Ever Done For Us? is a beautiful illustration of Corbyn V Farage! with the “The People’s Front of Judea” V “The Judean people’s front” rebelling against “the establishment” which imposes rules on them.

    Such antics also happen with union negotiators who have not done their homework, but have turned up with “a new inspiring type of negotiations”, where they have nothing to contribute to improve their member’s working conditions (despite much talk about doing so), but will pronounce “great success” in sabotaging a rival union’s negotiated arrangements for actual improvements in working conditions!

    Olgun #78
    Jul 5, 2016 at 4:23 am

    Hi Alan. Don’t know if you missed my question about TTIP

    My comment and links are awaiting moderation.



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  • Some of us are more directly engaged in the political and economic processes of the nation and have our immediate plans up-ended at the least, and properly damaged at the worst. Your hand wavy complaint doesn’t add to the discussion. A specific complaint might.

    Phil,
    I am just frustrated at the political content , that seems to be taking over most discussions.
    I don’t know Corbyn personally, but he is a lame-duck politician, mind you the problem with politics is politicians. Sack the lot and put in charge people who excel in the area they are trying to improve! – Intellectually elitist, dead right!!!



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  • M27Holts #82
    Jul 5, 2016 at 7:14 am

    Sack the lot and put in charge people who excel in the area they are trying to improve! – Intellectually elitist, dead right!!!

    An MP I worked for years ago, did just that, but he was not a sociopath or self publicist, so most people had little idea what he was doing, and many would not have understood it anyway.

    He was actually a post graduate electronics specialist, and was chairing parliamentary committees setting educational standards and bringing science and IT into schools, plus chairing the House of Commons on occasions as a deputy speaker.

    To make regular media headlines, MPs need to be controversial idiots like Farage – not diligent workers quietly getting on with the job!



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  • M27 Holts, # 70, Phil #75

    Consciousness, M27H, is consciousness of something; it cannot be consciousness of what it is that is conscious. Consciousness is also a form of knowledge; so what is it that we have knowledge of other than our own bodies, etc.? To say that we are consciousness itself doesn’t say very much, as it begs the question: what are we that thinks, knows, has consciousness? That is something that may or may not constitute a legitimate philosophical question. I think it does; that which knows can never know itself.

    You missed the point (and never tried to find it, as I have written at length about this on other threads) and have suggested that I try to prove that consciousness is an energy source outside the brain. That is what Phil would call a straw-man (par excellence), would be regressive; it would take us back to the ancient, dogmatic philosophers who assumed that Intellect is primary, and permanently linked to Being or, in some cases, a Deity; and I have never expressed or suggested that I have any desire to demonstrate such a thing. On the contrary.

    Enlightened rulers? (Sounds like Plato’s Philosopher King.) Unfortunately high intellect and fair governance, high intellect and good-will are, like consciousness and being itself, not one and the same thing.

    Phil, Yes – Pinker and Marx, Grayling and Freud. I got that.

    It is far too easy to point out the mistakes of great thinkers; it is the age of hyper-criticism; this was true when Nietzsche wrote his Untimely Meditations, and it is true now. I am distrustful of such an impulse. Most of the time it is commonplace minds exhibiting envy and a prodigious lack of understanding. I tried reading Pinker, and found him boring. I will try again, perhaps. Grayling I have never heard of. But everyone wants to prove that Freud was wrong. I say they doth protest too damned much.

    Stubborn? Yes, I suppose I am. I never claimed to be perfect. I also have instincts, and a keen sense of smell.



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  • Alan

    I am still on iPhone and on holiday so can’t do more than pick up on a few points.

    I said I liked the ideology (his talk) and also said, with the right support he might be able to follow it up (the walk).

    I don’t know how people here react to my using my expieience in the Cyprus problem to try to answer some questions but….

    I have been lobbying for some time now and am still amazed how little politicians know before they go off to debate or vote. Mostly its misinformation that drives them along with party politics. Our own British/Turkish Cypriot politicians have always refused to sign petitions we brought about only to later pull us aside and tell us they have to follow party rules, sorry. Those at the FCO were easily embarrassed by simple facts and questions when the going got tough. Of course there are those who actually think for themselves but they are usually in the House of Lords. We have been frustrated many a times with actions that go against reason.

    I asked about the TTIP’s because if the EU are contemplating it in its entirety then I too would like to come out of the EU now. The piece I read says huge companies can sue the government if they are not allowed to make a profit out of the NHS by privatisation. The fact they are discussing it behind closed doors rings alarm bells. Sorry America but as much as the WU needs fixing in places, I really do not want American problems on my dootstep.

    The point of the above and the link to Corbyn is that maybe that is why he played the Brexit card as he did. I would do the same, if so.

    I have to confess I actually liked Blaire at the very beginning so what do I know. If there is one thing I can say I would back Corbyn on, it would be because he said politics in the UK has to change. Are those opposing him afraid to do so?



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  • Dan @ #84.
    You need to read “Consciousness explained” – Daniel C. Dennett (ISBN 978-0-140-12867-3).
    Best book I have that does not contain equations (alongside the God Delusion).
    As I have just stated – the consciousness is created by the multiple-drafts theory – suggested by Dennett as opposed to your Cartesian Theatre explanation – which Dennett takes apart, piece by piece. You may state that your emperor is finely dressed – Dennett proves he’s naked.
    And – just to make a further point – There is a device that uses electromagnetism to create multiple personalities in a person who sits inside. Some people say they spoke to god inside the device, Mr Dawkins just complained he got a headache!



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  • 84 Cont.

    Moreover, M27Holts (and OHooligan), there are any number of organisms on this earth that can hardly be said to be non-living and yet do not have brains. Trees have no brains and yet they are living entities. It follows from that that the possession of a brain is not a requirement for life, is not an essential element of life.

    @M27Holts #86

    I truly look forward to reading Dennett’s book. Thank-you. I look forward to learning something and I look forward to critiquing it as well, as I assume it is filled with errors. I hope there will be a thread where we can discuss it down the road. If not, there are always old threads one can dig up.

    I don’t understand your references to Descartes as they are vague, or to my “Emperor” or to electromagnetism.

    My point is that neither consciousness, as I said above, nor the brain, can explain life or what we are, necessarily. And remember: the “I” of Descartes is not the Self or absolutely the subject; it is a knowing I.

    Olgun, (74)

    What’s with the interesting yet perplexing and bizarre video you wanted me to see? I can’t read your mind.



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  • Mitochondria in every cell of your body are “alive” – but not Conscious, a sperm is alive – but is not self-aware! Homo sapiens have a big complicated brain – and are in possession of phenomenon that can be called “consciousness” – surely the correlation of these facts is the starting point for any theory of the seat of consciousness. A tree is not self aware (as far as we can tell) – you have been reading far too much Tolkien!



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  • Hi Dan

    I don’t mean to be rude but it does seem you have a one track mind. You dismiss so much that is said to you. If you took a little bit more notice you would not have to read my mind. The video shows one of those lasers that I used in my metaphor I tried to explain a couple of times. One part of the ‘I’. Speech and how we learn to sound it out over millions of years. Add to that all the other parts of us and the focus point (in space just in front of us) and you will find the ‘I’. The extra energy you are looking for is the projection and subsequent focal point. A dog has fewer lasers and less of an ‘I’ than us and so on through the sliding scale of living things. A tree has this projection but no laser (part) that allows it to know its there. It doesn’t know itself. We do and we know ourselves better and better as time goes by with knowledge.



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  • Olgun #85
    Jul 5, 2016 at 2:09 pm

    If there is one thing I can say I would back Corbyn on, it would be because he said politics in the UK has to change.

    It’s how it changes which matters.

    Are those opposing him afraid to do so?

    I don’t think they are opposed to change – just opposing disastrous leaps into the dark by those with no plan for actually running the country, no recognition of the EU timetable the UK is obliged to follow, and no concept of the scale and cost of new arrangements which are going to be required!

    Like Farage, Corbyn has plans to gain votes from the uneducated, and also vote against anything the Tories put to the Commons, but I have seen no plan to do anything else.

    The wilful weakening of the “Remain Campaign” and Brexit surrender, indicate that he is prepared to sacrifice anything and anyone to those tunnel-vision objectives.

    I asked about the TTIP’s because if the EU are contemplating it in its entirety then I too would like to come out of the EU now.

    Most of the Brexiteers who could end up in stronger positions, are already privatisation stooges who are supporting a sell out of the NHS to US medical corporations.

    If you have concerns about the terms of TTIP, and the NHS, handing the UK government to brexiteers, can only make potential problems worse!

    Corbin may make some protesting noises as his minority party loses vote after vote, but that will only be noise after he has failed to make alliances with other parties and MPs to fight brexit, already surrendered, and lost the battle without a fight.



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  • Like Farage, Corbyn has plans to gain votes from the uneducated, and also vote against anything the Tories put to the Commons, but I have seen no plan to do anything else.

    The wilful weakening of the “Remain Campaign” and Brexit surrender, indicate that he is prepared to sacrifice anything and anyone to those tunnel-vision objectives.

    It is pasted in Corbyn’s own words here:-

    https://www.richarddawkins.net/2016/06/britains-shaky-status-as-a-scientific-superpower/#li-comment-206551



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  • Olgun #92
    Jul 5, 2016 at 5:26 pm

    @your link! – An internal review revealed that there are only 20 active trade negotiators in the British government, former top Foreign Office official Simon Fraser told Parliament this week.

    The European Commission has at least 600 trade specialists, according to the Washington Post.

    The Telegraph reports that as a result of the shortage on the UK’s end, we’ll have to find experts from other countries around the world, including India, the US and New Zealand.

    Like I said earlier – brexiteers + their apologists – A Yahoo’s chorus with no coherent plan – and no idea about the scale of the problems they described as “project fear” and dismissed! !



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  • Dan

    It is far too easy to point out the mistakes of great thinkers;

    What on earth is that meant to mean? Because we know more? Because there are more college graduates than ever interested in this stuff? Because the oldies were sometimes wrong?

    it is the age of hyper-criticism;

    Are you sure about that? Is it not that we may be shaking off the age of inspired guesses with real research?

    this was true when Nietzsche wrote his Untimely Meditations, and it is true now.

    So two ages or one hell of a long period of hyper criticism, that actually reflects the grown up world of real science and mathematics and real research.

    I am distrustful of such an impulse.

    Your reliable predispositions, at least, prove free will is truly a fraud.

    Most of the time it is commonplace minds exhibiting envy and a prodigious lack of understanding.

    Well that saves on having to think about things.

    I tried reading Pinker, and found him boring. I will try again, perhaps.

    yay

    Grayling I have never heard of.

    Once considered the fifth horseman

    But everyone wants to prove that Freud was wrong.

    Because they see a huge mismatch with the findings of modern psychology and the treatments lack of efficacy questions the initial analysis. Hang on….everyone?

    I say they doth protest too damned much.

    I say you do too, again and again in pure opinion mode. Give us the meat and potatoes, not the menu…again…



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  • M27Holts

    I am asking what we are, not questioning the fact that we are conscious. Nor have I asked what the “seat of consciousness” is. My original comment or question was: are we our brains? A reasonable question which you seem to have misconstrued.

    “Ok, then, where is the I.D if not a manifestation of electrical impulses and chemical changes in the “dead” matter of our brains?”

    That was your question to me. Where is the “I”? You still haven’t told me what “I.D” is. If it is I that you attempted to write than I addressed that question in my comment # 84, which you ignored.

    “Mitochondria in every cell of your body are “alive” – but not Conscious, a sperm is alive – but is not self-aware! Homo sapiens have a big complicated brain – and are in possession of phenomenon that can be called “consciousness” – surely the correlation of these facts is the starting point for any theory of the seat of consciousness. A tree is not self aware (as far as we can tell) – you have been reading far too much Tolkien!”

    This has nothing to do with anything that I have said. Nothing at all. In comment 88 (above) you state the obvious, and something that I had already asserted: “there are are any number of organisms on this earth that can hardly be said to be non-living and yet do not have brains. Trees have no brains and yet they are living entities. It follows from that that the possession of a brain is not a requirement for life, is not an essential element of life.” (From my comment # 87)

    I MUST ASK YOU TO STOP ATTRIBUTING IDEAS TO ME THAT ARE NOT MINE. YOU DID THAT ON THE OTHER THREAD AS WELL. YOU HIGHLIGHTED A QUOTE ON THE FREE WILL THREAD AND MADE IT SEEM LIKE I HAD WRITTEN IT. NOW YOU SUGGEST THAT I THINK THAT ORGANISMS MUST HAVE CONSCIOUSNESS IN ORDER TO BE ALIVE, THE VERY OPPOSITE OF WHAT I’VE SAID.



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  • Olgun #96
    Jul 6, 2016 at 5:28 am

    Still clutching at straws maybe but……

    It sounds like a classic loony left conspiracy theory, aimed at deflecting attention from Corbyn’s present failures!

    Several MPs, including Salmond and Corbyn, are expected to call for legal action to be taken against ex-Prime Minister Blair over his role in the Iraq war, namely his distortion of the facts about the presence of weapons of mass destruction.

    Impeachment laws have not been used in Parliament since 1806, but the process could see Blair put on trial and banned from holding a position of power for the rest of his life.

    Many thousands of people including myself, have criticised Blair as Bush’s propagandist poodle, who misrepresented the position to the people and to the UN, for the profits he has since reaped in consultancy fees and lecture tours!
    He muzzled MPs by launching the attacks and then telling them not to jeopardize the military action, by making criticisms when “troops were on the ground”!

    The long delayed Chilcot inquiry report should be made public later today.



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  • @95.

    I MUST ASK YOU TO STOP ATTRIBUTING IDEAS TO ME THAT ARE NOT MINE. YOU DID THAT ON THE OTHER THREAD AS WELL. YOU HIGHLIGHTED A QUOTE ON THE FREE WILL THREAD AND MADE IT SEEM LIKE I HAD WRITTEN IT. NOW YOU SUGGEST THAT I THINK THAT ORGANISMS MUST HAVE CONSCIOUSNESS IN ORDER TO BE ALIVE, THE VERY OPPOSITE OF WHAT I’VE SAID.

    I am merely quoting parts of your posts?
    I am not attributing any ideas to you, just questioning those quotes that I find to be confusing woo.
    I would suggest that you don’t actually quote those passages that I highlight and wish to critique based on more modern scientific findings, long after the old-philosophers have pondered and sometimes got it horribly wrong!
    and besides which, if you quote nebulous woo, don’t be surprised if people don’t actually understand what it’s supposed to be conveying!
    Peace.



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  • Olgun #96
    Jul 6, 2016 at 5:28 am

    Still clutching at straws maybe but…

    @ link – Several MPs, including Salmond and Corbyn, are expected to call for legal action to be taken against ex-Prime Minister Blair over his role in the Iraq war, namely his distortion of the facts about the presence of weapons of mass destruction.

    Corbin is still clutching at straws, and greatly over-rates his own importance – as if the Scots, the Conservatives, and the Liberal Democrats could not call for Blair’s impeachment when they have the released report!



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  • m27

    I asked this question: are we our brains?

    I don’t need an irrelevant lecture on mitochondria or accusations of writing about nonsense.

    If you are not interested in my questions and have trouble understanding my comments don’t read them. You are not obligated to.

    ” A tree is not self aware (as far as we can tell) – you have been reading far too much Tolkien!”

    This comment above is superfluous and condescending and on the other thread you highlighted a certain quote that I didn’t write and accused me of writing unclearly. That was disingenuous.

    Fess up, and leave me alone.



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  • Ok -I will answer your question.
    YES we are our brains (as far as modern neuro-science can tell us in the 21st century).
    You REALLY do need to read some late 20th and early 21st century literature on the true nature of consciousness.
    It’s no-good telling us we are all wrong – UNLESS you have good scientific (backed up with EVIDENCE based on EXPERIMENT).
    Philosophical ponderings (though, thought provoking in some cases) are not going to give you the answer that you clearly crave, which is some sort of out of body power controlling the universe through some so-far undetected forces.
    Am I being disingenuous again?



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  • @M27Holts

    No, that was an honest reply, and I appreciate it. Thank you.

    And do not feel constrained. I welcome the challenge of facing criticism (some of which must surely be valid), misconstruction – and even contempt. But I will not become inhibited, will continue to think what I want to think and write what I want to write.

    And thanks again for recommending Dennett’s book on consciousness.

    And as Stephen of W would say:

    Peace.



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  • Hmmm. I thought that logic and reason were supposed to figure here. This “pseudo-intellectual” bases his whole opinion on a preconception that “Brexit” was an illogical and non-rational choice. Maybe he needs to do more research?



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  • The serotonin observation is an interesting one, but it is just an observation of a symptom. At best it can be used circumstantially as evidence to suggest an association between two similar events, but not the root cause.

    Ultimately the explanation lies in anthropology, not biology.

    We all have thoughts and feelings that would otherwise be considered unacceptable in the open public due to today’s political correctness. We keep hearing repeatedly that Trump is simply “telling it like it is”. To some extent one could even argue the psychological oppression of political correctness results in a pent up state of frustration….a germinating temptation. If that is true, then it is inevitable that the genie will be let out of the bottle at some point. I think that is happening now.

    Swarming provides a form of perceived anonymity. Just as we see people make outrageous statements in online social media forums, thanks to the afforded anonymity, we see a similar manifestation of individual behaviour in swarms of people. Look at what happens when teenagers get together in large enough numbers at a house party, or when ‘gangs’ of people surround an individual The moment there is the perception that one will not be caught and held accountable for their actions, suddenly some people will perform acts of outrageous behaviour that they ordinarily would never commit otherwise.

    Why ? I wonder if it’s because of an innate sense of competition for resources. By reducing another’s effectiveness to harvest a finite number of local resources, then the initiator has a better chance of survival. Just a reminder that technology is evolving exponentially faster than our brains, which means our instinctive impulses and emotional reactions. The word civilized has more to do with technology and trends, than primal evolution.

    We do see the occurrence can be spawned either by self-motivation, or pushed by a perceived person of authority and influence. This could be from any single or combinations of thousands of possible variables ranging from insecurity brought on by poverty to anger instigated by religious dogma. When the influence is external there is the sense that in order to increase one’s chance for survival, in a pack based society, one needs to stay in good company with the pack. Consequently, if the pack is headed in another direction, then if you feel you need to stay with the pack in order to survive, you get in step.

    In this case with Brexit, and with the Trump phenomenon, what we’re seeing specifically is the unmasking of the true relevance and presence of bigotry within the ‘civilized’ society, which inherently triggers humility, and consequently denial. The swarm phenomena gives rise to opportunity for the individual to unleash one’s true feelings on specific trigger topics. That emotional release seems to momentarily override rational objective assessment. This is why the phenomena is applicable to all humans because it is primal. What language we speak or which country we live in is completely irrelevant.
    In these specific cases, it is revealing just how much bigotry lives beneath the veil of political correctness. This is the key metric to observe for understanding where we really are at in our societies. It’s there, whether we like it or not is irrelevant. Dismissing it with more political correctness is counter-productive, or worse from a long term perspective.

    The first step in overcoming being an alcoholic is to admit you’re an alcoholic.



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  • Simon Trott #104
    Jul 7, 2016 at 1:12 pm

    Hmmm. I thought that logic and reason were supposed to figure here. This “pseudo-intellectual” bases his whole opinion on a preconception that “Brexit” was an illogical and non-rational choice. Maybe he needs to do more research?

    So what percentage of the voters do you think researched the rather complex subject of international trade agreements and joint research and multinational business projects, plus the likely consequences of brexit, – and then made a rational choice?

    Many comments from individuals on why they made their choices, indicate that they did not even know which bodies or political levels of government were responsible for which issues.



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  • Kingdon seems to disprove his hypothesis in the first paragraph. The zoologist states that “lemmings, locusts, sardines and free-tailed bats swarm in response to simple social and physiological stimuli.” Rather, the stimuli, he neglects to mention, are critically important survival stimuli such as food acquisition, food depletion, mating behaviour (see manta swarming), and defence from predators: not simple at all. This is distinctly rational survival behaviour which, returning to Kingdon’s analogy, suggests that “referendum campaigning [may] stimulate” – very rational, not “irrational crowd behaviour in human animals.” This appears to make the rest of the article rather pointless, some how.



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  • Shelley Hartman #107
    Jul 7, 2016 at 11:32 pm

    Kingdon seems to disprove his hypothesis in the first paragraph. The zoologist states that “lemmings, locusts, sardines and free-tailed bats swarm in response to simple social and physiological stimuli.” Rather, the stimuli, he neglects to mention, are critically important survival stimuli such as food acquisition, food depletion, mating behaviour (see manta swarming), and defence from predators: not simple at all.

    These are however basic instinctive behaviours.

    This is distinctly rational survival behaviour

    It may be beneficial behaviour for survival of the species,, but it is certainly not “rational”!
    I did a study on locusts many years ago, and I have yet to see a “rational” one.
    Swarming is the outcome of the overcrowding of the young hoppers, causing the individuals’ phenotypes to develop into the gregarious form, rather than the solitary form of the insect, before leaving the breeding grounds flying off in a swarm.

    which, returning to Kingdon’s analogy, suggests that “referendum campaigning [may] stimulate” – very rational, not “irrational crowd behaviour in human animals.”

    This claim is therefore based on a false premise.
    Instinctive responses are produced by a process of reasoning!



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  • Olgun #85
    Jul 5, 2016 at 2:09 pm

    I have been lobbying for some time now and am still amazed how little politicians know before they go off to debate or vote. Mostly its misinformation that drives them along with party politics.

    You would really have to lobbying some from the extreme dumb end of the spectrum, for them to have done less planning than the brexiteers have done on their promises of “improved trade negotiations”!!

    http://www.standard.co.uk/news/politics/exminister-oliver-letwin-we-have-no-trade-negotiators-to-seal-brexit-deal-a3296786.html

    Mr Letwin was then asked if the UK has in fact got any of its own trade negotiators. He replied: “No, no. We don’t have trade negotiators because the trade negotiation has been going on in the EU so we are going to have to hire a whole group.”

    So brexit has achieved its objective of separating the UK from those “nasty Eurocrats” brexiteers hate paying salaries for, – and is about to negotiate “wonderfully improved international trade deals” requiring about 500 skilled trade negotiators travelling throughout the world, who are familiar with diplomacy, international agreements, laws, contracts, and treaties, and with a staff of none!

    Never mind!!
    Boris as foreign secretary, can start his “brilliant diplomacy” with his French counterpart! 🙂



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  • Shelley 107

    “This is distinctly rational survival behaviour which, returning to Kingdon’s analogy, suggests that…”

    I am not a zoologist, Shelley; nor am I defending Kingdon’s article; but it behooves me to point out that the behavior that you described, the act of swarming in response to stimuli, is not rational. What is beneficial to a species is by no means attained through reason in all or even most cases. Rational behavior includes things such as deliberation, i.e., conscious knowledge of what the benefits of acting (swarming) would be, as opposed to the consequences of a failure to act (swarm); rational behavior includes decision-making, judgment, and planning for the distant future –and not the immediate future, which is linked to the mere present, that is, to instinct.

    Instinctual behavior may be beneficial, as you correctly observed, but it is not rational. Neither is it irrational.



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  • Dan #110
    Jul 15, 2016 at 4:50 pm

    What is beneficial to a species is by no means attained through reason in all or even most cases.

    In the example I gave of Locusts, the swarms give three benefits to the species.

    They remove the excess population from the breeding grounds, giving the vegetation a chance to recover.

    There is a remote chance, that the swarms MAY find a geographical seasonal desert location, which is a potential new breeding ground.

    Many of the Locusts’ desert insect predators follow the swarms away from the initial breeding grounds making them safer for future generations.

    However, for 99%+ of the swarm, the flight is suicidal, with no prospects of successful breeding, in the lusher pastures where Locust munching predatory insects, birds, and insectivorous mammals, abound for twelve months of the year!

    As you point out, none of this behaviour is derived from the contemplations of rational individuals!



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  • OK. I cannot read so many opinions but it appears that most of you are quite happy to describe all who differ from you as ‘stupid’ ‘ignorant’ ‘sheep’ ‘swarms’ and so on. Serotonin? GIVE ME A BREAK!
    Are you really so ARROGANT & abusive regarding ‘the other’ or have I got it all wrong?
    There was a referendum; it produced what most of you think was a ‘wrong’ result due to the aforementioned public stupidity, etc. Some presume to lampoon and denigrate Farage who has been an MEP for 17 years or more & witnessed first hand the tomfoolery going on there. If you care to look you’ll find ample evidence of near-empty chambers and sleeping MEP’s. Farage is principled enough to forego the EU gravy train- who else was?
    You seem willing to put short term problems ahead of British sovereignty & forget Brussels has total control over UK law… it took TEN YEARS to rid the country of the revolting terrorist thug Abu Hamsa because Brussels [or was it Strasburg?] said “NO! You are denying his human rights”
    Numerous examples exist of Brussels idiocy and supremacy. This is why knowledgable intelligent Brits voted OUT- we want no more of it. And so will several other EU members in the next few years, which will leave Germany alone carrying the financial can for Greece, Spain and other [less productive] dependent nations.

    Good luck with that, Merkel!



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