If this constitution comes into force, the EU will be changed, unalterably and for ever, into a wholly new entity: a 27-nation superstate with no democratic legitimacy which will nevertheless rule our lives – and, in all probability, with Tony Blair as its President. It would be beyond intolerable if, at the very moment that the British electorate finally voted out the government he led and consigned Blairism to the bin, the man who did so much damage to Britain as its Prime Minister should be shoehorned into a post which makes him the effective ruler of this country. For if this constitution comes into effect, Britain and the other EU member states will no longer be self-governing nations. Foreign policy, defence, social, economic and welfare policies, immigration, internal security — every national interest will be subordinated to this new anti-democratic entity. As such, ‘President’ Blair would be committing the single most treacherous act of all towards his own country — taking away its own democratic power of self-government.
Melanie Phillips President Blair

The Ownership State

It is hard to underestimate the challenge faced by our public services. Not only must they contend with ever increasing public expectations and societal challenges such as an ageing population, but they must do this in the face of the biggest shock to public finances in living memory. A new approach is needed. This report argues that real improvement depends on harnessing two powerful forces: the insight and dedication of frontline workers, and the engagement and involvement of citizens and communities. We argue that the way to unleash the energies of frontline staff and citizens and scale up their impact is through the power of shared ownership. We propose a new model of public sector delivery, in which services are provided by social enterprises led by frontline workers and owned by them and the communities they serve. These new social businesses would exchange economies of scale (which are all too often illusory) with the real economies that derive from empowered workers and an engaged public.
To deliver this, we recommend that a new power of civil association be granted to all frontline service providers in the public sector. This power would allow the formation, under specific conditions, of new employee and community-owned ‘civil companies’ that would deliver the services previously monopolised by the state. Central to this power would be the obligation to ensure that full budgetary delegation of all the supporting services goes along with new responsibility. The new civil company would be structured as a social enterprise, with the scope and flexibility to allow a number of different governance structures in the light of local conditions.
Governed neither by the public state or the private market, this new civil association would localise responsibility, direct agency and promote ethos. It would do this by spreading the ownership of publicly funded provision, revolutionising public service delivery for the benefit of all.
Philip Blond ResPublica – The Ownership State

Why hasn’t anyone done there what we did here?

Melanie Phillips – I had the privilege of getting to know Irving Kristol a little in the last years of his life. ‘Explain about Britain’ he would say to me more than once. ‘Why hasn’t anyone done there what we did here, set up publications and think-tanks and talk radio to break the power of the Left in the universities? I just can’t understand why everyone is just sitting there and letting it happen! What’s wrong with them all?’

A profound misunderstanding of the human person

Today ours is an increasingly diverse society in which we can observe the fragmentation of shared values and the emergence of extremist action, with profound on-going effects. In response to this emerging situation, our society has, on the whole, remained with its same priorities and pushed forward with the cause of the individual and of personal autonomy as the central values on which to build. The logical consequence of this is a particular and radical understanding of society itself. In this view, society as such exists to keep the peace between people of quite divergent views. Society’s task, basically, is to protect us from each other. In fact this is the core ‘credo’ of a secular, liberal society: society is the peaceful coexistence of potential or real enemies. This thinking underlies much of our public culture. The ‘social cohesion’ currently being sought is, it seems to me, based on this premise.
Yet this premise is, of course, quite inadequate. It is inadequate simply because it does not reflect the concerns and culture by which most people actually live. Up and down our society, in families, within friendships, even as neighbours, and in the very notion of civic friendship within many towns and villages, we seek for something far more than ‘protection from each other’. We share dreams and ambitions; we gather round mutual interests and enthusiasms; we appreciate ‘good things’ together; we still share, in these groups, patterns of thought, or at least profound instincts, about what is to be held as good and wholesome, and what it not. Within all these groups there is a great deal of shared perception (or moral belief) about what is ‘the good life’. These values, and the reflection that carries them, continue to be handed on from generation to generation, adjusted and enriched as that is done.
Yet these patterns of moral reflection, for that is what they are, are often marginalised by being unrecognised, disowned or sentimentalised within our public culture. Hence they are gradually being eroded. They are, in fact, being replaced by a static appeal to the opinions of a supposed majority or of well-organised pressure groups. ‘Political correctness’ is a typical and central expression of this process. And within political correctness, as a method of establishing a public moral culture, as many examples how, reasoning is minimised as a way of making moral judgements. In fact we can say that in forming our public culture we have moved away from rational ethics, the detailed discussion of difference, into a public strategy that is determined simply to control all expressions of difference, often removing difference from the public forum, for difference is seen as a potential point of conflict.
The roots of this thinking, and the project of social cohesion that flows from it, lie in a profound misunderstanding of the human person.

Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Birmingham Social Cohesion and Catholic Education (PDF)


While I was born and raised in the U.S., my parents were born and raised in Egypt. Even though they were Christians (Copts), it was only natural that they would adopt an “Islamicate” worldview, that is, a worldview based on Islamic culture and society, though obviously not Islamic dogma. As a result, while I share and appreciate the Western worldview, so too am I intimately acquainted with the Islamic world’s weltanschauung.
This is a worldview typified by cynicism and stoicism: a belief that humanity is intrinsically opportunistic, selfish, and warlike; that might not only makes right, but almost should; that those in the right do not apologize or appease, but rather assert; a survival-of-the-fittest mentality; and, above all, sheer contempt for perceived weakness and equivocation, or, in Islamic parlance, emasculate behavior. Let’s call this a worldview based on “primordial politics.” Anyone who has spent time in the Islamic world or held sincere conversations with people from there — Muslim or Christian makes no difference — will know this to be true. In short, the worldview of the average person from the Islamic world is the antithesis of the postmodern, “therapeutic” worldview of the liberal West, where “feelings,” “mutual respect,” “toleration,” and the ability to “express oneself” are paramount. This is only natural: people bred in harsh environments (e.g., the vast majority of the Islamic world) are not impressed by soft or sublime words. It bears repeating that these qualities are not so much due to Islam per se; rather, they have an ancient lineage and have permeated almost every major civilization, including the West (e.g., the “neocons”). It is the postmodern, liberal worldview that is aberrant to human history, that is a dot in a long continuum of realpolitik. Living and dying in the height of our era — human lives are so short — it is easy to overlook the evanescence of this epistemology. Islamic civilization, on the other hand, whose essence is trapped in the medieval era (thanks primarily to the concept of sunna), is by far the staunchest champion of primordial politics.
Raymond Ibrahim

Right and wrong – not 'norms'

According to Denis MacEoin, author of Sharia Law or ‘One Law For All’?, sharia courts operating in Britain may be handing down rulings that are inappropriate to this country because they are linked to elements in Islamic law that are seriously out of step with trends in Western legislation that derive from the values of the Enlightenment and are inherent in modern codes of human rights. Sharia rulings contain great potential for controversy and may involve acts contrary to UK legal norms and human rights legislation

Civitaspress release
Whoa! Two things are being confused here. The only grounds we may have against Sharia courts, as for anything else, is that they are wrong. Not that they are ‘inappropriate’ or ‘out of step’ but that they are wrong.
1. We can say that they are wrong when they break the law. If we think that those operating these ‘courts’ are breaking the law we may either invite the police and Crown Prosecution Servant to decide whether there seems to be a case, and then to charge these people and bring the case to court, or we may bring a civil case against them ourselves. The court may then find whether or nor they have broken the law.
2. We may use our conscience to judge whether they are wrong. We can continue to maintain that they are wrong even if no law seems to say so and even if we receive no confirmation from the courts that interpret the law. We can say publicly that they are wrong (no one may stop us from expressing this belief) and we add that they break God’s law (we may give ‘religious’ reasons for our view).
But these ‘courts’ are not wrong because they are ‘out of step’, or offend our sensibilities or because it seems possible that they may offend anyone else. We should insist on talking about right and wrong and that we can all make this distinction between legal and moral. This ‘norms-values-rights’ discourse is going to get us all into trouble.
Civitas should attempt to bring some of these cases of ‘conflicting jurisdictions’ to court. It could suggest which legislation it believes such Sharia courts break.
About Sharia itself see No to Sharia Law in Britain

The era of representative government is coming to an end

Nevertheless, both [the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) and the British National Party (BNP)] stand to gain because they articulate key issues of overriding importance to the public — such as mass immigration and membership of the EU — but which the mainstream parties obdurately fail to address. These issues are fundamental to the very identity of the country and its ability to govern itself at all. Indeed, their neglect can even be said to have contributed in no small measure to the expenses scandal. This is because parliamentary democracy itself has become steadily emptied of meaning and purpose, leaving a vacuum which has been filled by corruption. For more than three decades, Parliament has become increasingly powerless. In recent years, this was the result of the Labour Government deliberately outsourcing its powers — to the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembliy; to quangos, management consultancies or unelected advisers; or to the courts through human rights law. But above all, the British Parliament has progressively surrendered its powers of national self-government to Europe, which has reduced the cradle of democracy to the status of little more than Westminster Regional Council.This whole process was summed up in 1998 by Peter Mandelson, who observed with menacing perspicacity that ‘the era of pure representative government is coming slowly to an end’… Paradoxically, the diminution of Britain’s place in the world has gone hand in hand with an increase in the power of the State over its own citizens. Determined to ram through its agenda for a new world order of which the EU is an important part, the Labour Government increasingly concentrated power in itself while it steadily took it away from Parliament. So there was more and more secondary legislation upon which MPs don’t have to vote, less and less time to debate important measures, and ever-tighter control by the party whips over MPs whose only career was in politics and who were, therefore, totally dependent for their livelihood upon political patronage. The outcome was an empty Commons chamber as MPs found they had less and less to do — and employed their creativity instead in filling in their expenses forms.
Melanie Phillips No wonder British MPs turned to crime

St Paul's Economics debate

My word is my bond? Rebuilding trust – the G20 and beyond
St Paul’s Cathedral Tuesday 31st March, 2009, 11am – 12.30pm

On the eve of the G20, St Paul’s is hosting a high level debate about the moral questions raised by the dramatically changing world we find ourselves in. Can opportunities for society’s good come from the economic crisis? Has there been a disconnection between morality, policy-making and practice? What are the prospects for remaking the global order, rebuilding financial systems and re-establishing trust? How will a new global order actively include development goals and address climate change?

We will deny until the bitter end

Stuff will be getting a lot more expensive in the not-distant future, and you can bet that the Chinese are not going to be selling it cheaply to us in return for our increasingly worthless greenbacks. Perhaps the only thing more grim than our current economic moment is the economy that is awaiting us. We will either learn thrift by a new commitment to old virtues, or we will learn it the hard way. We will be able to afford fewer things, move around less and we will find ourselves facing a world that is not subject to our notional control. For most, this will be an occasion for lamenting. To my mind, it would generally constitute a better way, but a hard way when it comes by force and not by choice. Hard especially because – like our response to the current â??crisisâ?? (a word that reflects our belief that this is something extraordinary, unexpected, exceptional, a departure from the norm rather than the new norm), we will not believe in the reality of the reality that we face. We will deny its truth and its causes, looking instead for another cause other than ourselves. We will deny until the bitter end, avoiding the bankruptcy that awaits us in the belief that past returns are the guarantee of future results, most of all for no better reason than we wish it to be so.
Patrick Deneen Unreal estate

Borrowing against the future

In general, we’re pretty comfortable with ponzi models -we live, quite happily, in a ponzi economy, one in which the concept of perpetual economic growth is sold, divvied up again and resold. We live in a Ponzi ecology where we borrow constantly against the future to pay for our present affluence. Is this truly a Ponzi scheme? I think the answer is yes – a Ponzi scheme never really generates new wealth, it simply relies on a constant stream of new money. And since the eco-Ponzi economy relies most of all on reducing the capacity of future generations to live well – because natural resources and associated wealth are already drawn down, I think that it does meet the criteria at both the economic and ecological levels…
Growth capitalism in general and the real estate bubble in particular depended heavily on the idea that we can’t live together, that everyone has to own their own separate household. So the rise in average material living space from 250 square feet per person in 1950 to 850 square feet for each warm body in 2000 was in part a product of the constant message that living together with one’s family or friends was a measure of failure.
Sharon Astyk The Ponzi Scheme as way of life