Don’t vote or support George Galloway today


8:55 am - March 29th 2012

by Carl Packman    


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Do you remember when George Galloway interviewed Ahmadinejad? His ‘excellency’ Galloway would refer to him as.

All eyes were on Galloway to mention Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtani, the woman in Iran who was due to be put to death by stoning for supposedly committing adultery.

Final question Mr President, every so often an issue comes along, which is seized upon by the enemies of Iran, and magnified, and it becomes a heavy problem. One such is the punishment, scheduled originally against a woman convicted of adultery. The so called stoning case. I see that president Lula from Brazil has asked Iran if he can take this woman into exile there, to solve this problem. Can Iran agree to this? [my emphasis]


Could they? No. Ahmadinejad said in the interview he would “prefer to export technology, not such people to Brazil.” Interview over.

The Galloway that destroys US senators in courts of law was reduced to spineless fool.

Galloway did not mention the human rights abuses, particularly of women; in fact Galloway missed an opportunity so golden, I fail to see why we should listen to a single further word he has to say.

Mr Galloway is a coward and no element of the left wing in this or any other country should have anything else to do with him. He represents a perversion of politics based upon befriending those who his enemies distrust, and no sensible political theory or action can rest upon this.

And yet people are about to vote for him tomorrow on a left wing ticket.

The Conservative candidate is said to be “delighted” because he is splitting the Labour vote – can’t they see what’s going on here.

He doesn’t care about you, or me or Bradford, or Glasgow or Bethnal Green, or Joe Public, or man-in-the-street.

He uses these people to champion himself. He is the political Apotamkin, devilish creatures who feed off the blood of others and live forever trying to win elections in areas where they can stoke up tension.

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About the author
Carl is a regular contributor. He is a policy and research analyst and he blogs at Though Cowards Flinch.
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Reader comments


He’s very litigious too.

2. flyingrodent

I’d avoid voting Galloway on the grounds that he’s a) a crap constituency MP and b) a tit.

I’m unworried about his interview with Ahmadinejad – say what you like about GG, he hasn’t sold eighteen tons of spiked bollock-shockers to the Saudis; bombed all hell out of half the planet for no sane reason whatsoever or presided over a series of ruinously expensive, catastrophic, murderous and needless wars.

Compared to these behaviours, Failing to ask Mahmoud Ahmadinejad tough questions pales into utter insignificance, and hilariously so.

Of course flyingrodent, that’s how we should compare all people. “Did you steal that woman’s purse and bash her between the eyes young man”, “yes officer, I surely did”, “well aren’t you going to apologise”, “apologise officer, it’s not like I bombed all hell out of half the planet for no sane reason whatsoever or presided over a series of ruinously expensive, catastrophic, murderous and needless wars or anything”, “very well, on yer way”.

Galloway is tough talking to the US and spineless to Middle Eastern dictators, not because he is weighing up his career options once he’s finished his internship, but because like you he thinks we can only measure evil by what the Americans do.

“He doesn’t care about you, or me or Bradford, or Glasgow, or Bethnal Green, or Joe Public, or man-in-the-street”.
and in what respect does that make him any different to any other politician?
Many ‘members of the public’ see them all as utterly worthless, self serving parasites, in that, they all serve a common purpose.

Otherwise, with flying rodent @2

Sigh, a wafer-thin blog that translates to “I don’t like George Galloway”. Galloway has stood against human rights abuses through his whole career and his position is the same on Iran. But George knows Iran is an ultra-conservative theocracy and just yelling at the president about that isn’t going to change that. Women’s rights is a cultural issue that should be decided by the struggle inside Iran, not by outsiders. I hate this liberal snobbery that states we should impose our culture on other civilizations.

I don’t know what Carl’s political affiliations are, but for Labour people generally, there’s little point bleating about Galloway at this point. If you don’t want to find yourselves threatened with electoral humiliation at the hands of a cat-impersonator then you should try delivering for your core support, rather than taking them for granted for 20 years.

And before we get to the Saddam and Ahmadinejad references, try to remember that your party spent 13 years in office arming some of the worst tyrants in the world, and that your hero-leader Mr Blair once described Hosni Mubarak as “immensely courageous and a force for good”, which easily equals Galloway’s notorious grovelling before Saddam.

Galloway is of little significance inside or outside parliament. More relevant is the question of whether Labour is capable of looking honestly in the mirror on issues like this.

Personally, I’m surprised there hasn’t been a New Labour campaign to have Blair awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

After all, he did say in that keynote speech he made to the Chicago Economic Club in 1999:

“If we want a world ruled by law and by international co-operation then we have to support the UN as its central pillar.”
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/international/jan-june99/blair_doctrine4-23.html

David

“Galloway is of little significance inside or outside parliament.” Exactly, lets keep it that way.

As for the rest of your comment, we know. Not going to find a defense for Tony Blair here, but I don’t think his crimes should act as a cover for Galloway’s own. I don’t want him to be voted into parliament because I think he’s dangerous and makes a mockery of our already imperfect system.

9. Chaise Guevara

@ 5 Lee

” I hate this liberal snobbery that states we should impose our culture on other civilizations.”

Because Iranian women aren’t having anything imposed on them now, I take it? And giving them personal freedom would be so villainous?

It’s not liberal snobbery, it’s humanitarianism. I hate this culturally relevatist attitude that’s so often used as an excuse to ignore human suffering.

10. flyingrodent

that’s how we should compare all people. “Did you steal that woman’s purse and bash her between the eyes young man”, “yes officer, I surely did”,

That is indeed how we should compare people, Carl.

For instance – I’d regard a hypothetical politician who constantly repeated the Iranian propaganda line on, say, executing homosexuals, as a foul, despicable rat of a person. To the rules committee with him, I would say, and don’t spare the horses!

On the other hand, I also believe that this is an trifling sin next to, say, a hypothetical government minister who facilitated billions of pounds worth of sales of weapons of torture, mayhem and destruction to hateful regimes, or colluded in a black prison network that disappears and/or murders civilians beyond the rule of law, and so on and so forth.

This is not to say that you can’t still criticise Mr. Iranian Propaganda. You can! More power to you, brother – testify!

Nonetheless, it recognises that there is a very real, very urgent and very criminal difference between Talking offensive shite for money and Collusion in torture and/or murder.

This is why I’m significantly more worried by, for example, a David Miliband than I am by a George Galloway.

because like you he thinks we can only measure evil by what the Americans do.

Oh no! He doesn’t, does he? Say it isn’t true!

Get back to me when he’s racked up a bodycount that reaches at least four figures, and then we’ll chat.

I think flyingrodent is basically on the money.

Note Carl, that he’s not saying that Labour’s wars etc. mean that we have a reason to forgive Galloway for being a tit, just that it seems LESS bad.

This is important because this is basically a contest between Labour and Galloway (hopefully at least – unless there’s a nightmare Tory win because of split left vote!) so comparative badness matters.

The point I take umbrage at the anti-Galloway crew is that they seem to set incredibly high standards for people like him over issues such as ‘not raising the right questions with the Iranian President’ but be incredibly forgiving of Labour’s sins, just because Labour take particular care not to be seen to be violating various liberal taboos. There seems to be an extreme loss of perspective here.

(All this said, I still think there are good reasons to vote Labour in Bradford West, just not the ones discussed here).

12. Shatterface

Frankly, I wouldn’t piss on Galloway if he was burning.

I wouldn’t piss on him if he was burning and I was dying for a piss and he just happened to be standing in the way.

I wouldn’t piss on him if he was burning and I’d just drunk 18 pints of ice-cold lager and someone had just kicked me in the bladder.

Any questions?

13. flyingrodent

A small but illustrative example…

JEREMY PAXMAN:
You called (Saudi Arabia) a friend of the civilised world.

TONY BLAIR:
It is. In my view, what it is doing in respect of the Middle East now…

JEREMY PAXMAN:
It chops people’s arms off. It tortures people.

TONY BLAIR:
They have their culture, their way of life.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/newsnight/1988865.stm

Now, sucking up to the Sauds as TB certainly did seems to me to be at least as grave a crime as giving Ahmadinejad a puffball interview. Thankfully, I have plenty of outrage to go around, more than enough for George and Tony both. A plague on both their houses, I say.

On the other hand, I think it’s pretty pertinent that Tony was the leader of the Labour Party and the Prime Minister of the nation, and that he still has a major international profile plus legions of angry fans who will defend him to the death from even minor criticism. Meanwhile, Old Gorgeous can’t get elected to the PTA.

So it’s a question of how much outrage you have to spend and how you want to apportion it, I guess.

@ Lee

“Women’s rights is a cultural issue that should be decided by the struggle inside Iran, not by outsiders. I hate this liberal snobbery that states we should impose our culture on other civilizations.”

*sigh*

Please take the time to read this article by Azar Majedi, Chairperson of the Iranian Organisation for Women’s Liberation:

http://newhumanist.org.uk/1266/islam-and-sexual-apartheid

A brief quote:

“Cultural relativism is a fancy name for racism because it justifies two sets of values, rights and privileges for human beings according to a subjective, arbitrary concept, such as culture.”

Of course, Majedi is part of a “struggle inside Iran”. But she is also horrified by the failure of “outsiders” to support that struggle. It’s the Iranian government that is illegitimately “imposing” a certain culture on women, not a Western liberal who dares to suggest that Iranian women should have the same rights as anyone else.

But if Galloway was the Labour candidate in the London election standing against Boris we’d be asked to overlook his record and vote ”progressive” like we are with George’s mate Ken.
What’s the main difference between Galloway and Livingstone?

16. Chaise Guevara

@ 14 G.O

Well said.

flyingrodent

How wrong is Blair there! His clear cultural relativism grates my bones. But what you’re doing, when looking at Ahmadinejad, is saying “oh look, a monkey pissing in its own mouth”. Why should I live in a moral world of the least bad, and, worse, why should I base my politics on it. The only reason Ahmadinejad is less bad, is not through self-restraint, it’s that he’s less powerful than the hawks and the war crims. He is still significantly more powerful than I wish he was. For you and your world of least bad, that means we should probably just ignore it. We won’t accept Blair’s imperialism, not by any stretch, but we’ll sleepwalk into other tyrannies.

Damon: Livingstone devoted over 30 years of his life standing up for, and doing quantifiable good for, the people of London. When Galloway was my MP (obviously, I didn’t vote for him), he barely showed up in the constituency or the Commons, and *went on Celebrity Big Brother whilst still my sitting MP*.

(there’s also the point that Galloway defends the regime of Iran and acts as an apologist for terrorists, while Livingstone doesn’t… but that isn’t even relevant. With Livingstone, there’s at worst something to weigh. With GG, there’s nothing).

19. Planeshift

“Any questions?”

Yes, if he wasn’t burning and just going about his daily business and slipped on the floor, would you piss on him then?

20. flyingrodent

Why should I live in a moral world of the least bad, and, worse, why should I base my politics on it.

You live in a world of the least bad, as is easily demonstrated. If you steal a newspaper, you’ll get a slap on the wrists from the judiciary. If you blow up a busful of passengers, you’ll get life in prison. The latter is clearly worse than the former.

OBVIOUSLY, and I’d like to think it would GO WITHOUT NEEDING SAID, not intentionally stealing or killing is better than both. This is reality, as we’re taught to appreciate from childhood onwards.

Similarly, lying like a rake or giving dictators puffball interviews is A Bad Thing. Bombarding a heavily-populated urban area with high explosives in the full knowledge this will result in mass civilian casualties is, in my opinion, a whole lot worse by an order of magnitude. It’s surely right and just that it is so.

So, I can say Boy, I can’t stand that Galloway – what a dick!

On the other hand, I do also have to acknowledge that the much of the House has been repeatedly shown to be up to their necks in what look very much like war crimes, secret detention programmes and so on and so forth.

So, how many MPs should we disown as beyond redemption? Tens? Hundreds?

The only reason Ahmadinejad is less bad…

Now, this is a bit of a mysterious leap, isn’t it? Very mysterious.

I didn’t say Ahmadinejad was better or worse than anyone or anything. The joker in question was Galloway. Why the sudden shift?

The reason not to vote for Galloway is that he’s a hypocritical, self-serving asshole. These may be facets of other politician’s personalities but if the public can’t see the extent to which they dominate everything he does then I’ll be disappointed.

22. Planeshift

“he barely showed up in the constituency or the Commons”

Playing devil’s advocate here; to what extent should we judge the usefullness of an MP by the amount of times they turn up in the commons. Given that labour had a solid majority at the time, nobody pays much attention to what is said in ‘debates’ that occur, and you can still ask written questions and do far more work on a committee, what benefits are there from having a lobby fodder MP over an independent MP?

“there’s also the point that Galloway defends the regime of Iran and acts as an apologist for terrorists, while Livingstone doesn’t”

He merely takes their money…into his company for tax reasons…

24. Shatterface

Yes, if he wasn’t burning and just going about his daily business and slipped on the floor, would you piss on him then?

Only if I could piss napalm.

@ Chaise

Because Iranian women aren’t having anything imposed on them now, I take it? And giving them personal freedom would be so villainous?

It’s not liberal snobbery, it’s humanitarianism. I hate this culturally relevatist attitude that’s so often used as an excuse to ignore human suffering.

No. It’s liberal snobbery.

Complaining about the treatment of women in Iran is pointless unless you are suggesting we invade them to impose our view. If you are not, the only point of complaining is to make you feel better about yourself. That’s smug liberal snobbery.

I always feel particularly nauseous when some media tosser spouts one of the myriad justifications for the atrocities in Afghanistan- that if we weren’t there they wouldn’t educate their females properly.

Of course we should resist the phony cultural relativism that some try to impose on our own society, but the imposition, by force, of our values onto other states and cultures is moral imperialism.

I think George Galloway understands this.

flyingrodent

“bit of a mysterious leap”

No more so than you forcing me to see that Galloway isn’t so bad because he didn’t blow up Iraq. My gripe is that he has no backbone, not that he personally bombed the hell out of here or there. Overall I’m saying don’t vote for this guy, he’s a chancer, but i’m also saying the left should drop him, his politics are curious.

Also, on the subject of not feeling like some things need to be said, i’m not denying the existence of things that are least bad, haha it’s so obvious i can’t be bothered (in the words of one Ian Hislop), but i’m saying I wouldn’t base my political opinions on it. In France, they once upon a time had a choice between “the crook or the fascist”. Given this you’d probably decline to vote, but pushed you’d vote for the crook. But I wouldn’t support the crook or craft my politics around the crook.

john b, a differece is that Ken is being activly supported on Liberal Conspiracy, and anything negative about him is being completely overlooked. He’s a two-dimensional cardboard cutout of a left winger IMO.
Didn’t four of his closest advisors come from Scialist Action? Which is all ”Viva Cuba – Viva Palestine” nonsense, and supportive of the modern Sinn Fein as being a progressive political party in Northern Ireland. A one minute perusal of their website would show you where Ken is comming from. They even have an article about Galloway on it. Defending Syria from western attack.
http://www.socialistaction.net/

Galloway and Livingstone are part of the same left tradition as far as I can see.
Livingstone will speak at the anti-Israel rallys in Trafalgar square that are attended by all kinds of islamist and anti-semitic flotsum and jetsum, and laps up their applause.
For a mayor, that has to be seen as very wild and divisive at the very least.
Not that different to what Galloway does in whipping up a crowd in Tower Hamlets about what people will do if the EDL ever tried to touch a muslim woman’s hijab.

28. DisgustedOfTunbridgeWells

Frankly, I wouldn’t piss on Galloway if he was burning.

I wouldn’t piss on him if he was burning and I was dying for a piss and he just happened to be standing in the way.

I wouldn’t piss on him if he was burning and I’d just drunk 18 pints of ice-cold lager and someone had just kicked me in the bladder.

All that.

Galloway is a genuinely nasty piece of work.

29. flyingrodent

No more so than you forcing me to see that Galloway isn’t so bad because he didn’t blow up Iraq.

It’s a matter of context, really. I won’t rehash the last decade’s catastrophes and bloodbaths, but let’s just note that when our last military escapade – bombing Libya – was voted on, only thirteen MPs voted against.

Thirteen! You’d think that two full-blooded military catastrophes in less than a decade would be enough to inspire just a little caution; just a touch of wariness. You’d think it might encourage MPs to think, Hmm, this has the potential to create a worse problem than the one we’re attempting to solve. Perhaps we had better give this some very serious thought… But no.

So what I’m getting at here is that, when the entire democratic system of the country leans so heavily towards blowing shit up and killing God knows how many of whoever, wherever, regardless of risk to ourselves or others, it’s a bit rich to expend this much energy fretting over Galloway, n’est pas?

It’s not that he’s a diamond geezer, or that Tony Blair is Conan or whatever. It’s that we’re all sitting in a huge, out-of-control battletank, crashing around the world smashing fuck out of everything that gets in our way, and you’re worried because the brake light isn’t working properly.

None of which is a reason to be particularly nice to Galloway, who deserves precious little niceness anyway. It’s just noting the basic silliness of the idea that he’s even a small problem in the grand scheme of things. It’s ridiculous, isn’t it?

Now, I am aware that this “Think about the wider context” mode of argument would pretty much invalidate discussion of anything barring genocide, if we applied it to literally everything. For that reason, I certainly wouldn’t use it at all times, in all instances.

Nonetheless, the regularity with which Galloway pops up as some dire threat to whatever does necessitate that we keep him in perspective, I reckon. I’ve drawn a picture of how George Galloway looks, viewed in his proper perspective below –

.

I can’t stand GG but FR does make some fair points (not all of which I agree with). Lee – doesn’t.

What I find offputting about the guy’s candidacy is the blatant communalism that it represents. Yvonne Ridley, in a speech from one of his events, on the front page of his website, assures Bradfordians that the prosecution of rioters after 2001 represented “an apartheid-style justice that we haven’t seen since the days of South Africa“. Right. Sounds like he’ll be just mahvellous at promoting cohesion.

I think this is a fair enough time to pick on GG, by the way. When people fret over things he’s said on Press Teevee it’s certainly the middle-class equivalent of squawking over Hello magazine but when he’s running for parliament that’s a different matter. Nothing’s affected by the former except the brain matter of whoever’s tuned in; the latter, though, could have an impact on thousands of people. One might say that blogging on it achieves nothing, yes, but then, my dears, that’s true of blogging on just about anything.

32. Chaise Guevara

@ 25 pagar

“Complaining about the treatment of women in Iran is pointless unless you are suggesting we invade them to impose our view. If you are not, the only point of complaining is to make you feel better about yourself. That’s smug liberal snobbery.”

Ah, to live in pagar’s world, where the only options at any given time are “do nothing” and “invade a foreign country”!

Yes, people often complain about things they’re not really all that bothered about just to make themselves look good. Not sure why you’d call that “snobbery”, but I can see why you’d criticise it. But I wasn’t talking about that, was I? Before you say “oh yes it is”, it’s helpful to check what “it” is.

“Of course we should resist the phony cultural relativism that some try to impose on our own society, but the imposition, by force, of our values onto other states and cultures is moral imperialism.”

So what would you call the forceful imposition of values by fascist states onto their residents? Immoral imperialism? Things don’t happen in a vacuum, pagar, and deciding not to act is still a decision.

I’m rather surprised to hear you, a libertarian, making an argument that seems to assume the states have a “right” to do whatever they want with their people, regardless of how legitimate that state’s claim to authority. If that right doesn’t exist, what is being violated by this so-called imperialism?

33. flyingrodent

Sounds like he’ll be just mahvellous at promoting cohesion.

I hadn’t heard that Ridley quote, and I’m sadly not surprised by in the slightest. That looks like a much better reason to trash Galloway’s campaign than, say, a puff-piece Ahmadinejad interview. As in, thousands of times better.

34. Torquil Macneil

Blimey, Flying Rodent has notched up his whatabouttery to new levels. He will get a nosebleed at this rate poor love!

Hands up who thinks Galloway wouldn’t spend loads of money arming the bloody and oppressive regimes he cosies up to if he could? Just wondering!

35. David Ellis

What is cowardly about that? Galloway raised the question of this woman with the president in the most public of forums. Were you in any kind of position to help? No. Galloway, because of his consistent anti-imperialism was able to quite badly embarass Ahmedinejad on this question because he is aware of Galloway’s popularity not with his vile regime, far from it, but with ordinary Muslim and Arab people in the whole region. Galoway a coward? Not on your nelly. If you weren’t blinkered by political hostility you might be able to see that this was an act of great courage. Something I don’t think you’ll ever match up to you nasty piece of work.

Still, you’ve managed to brand a huge number of the people of Bradford West as idiots which is I’m sure the way you think of everybody. I feel dirty responding to you.

36. Shatterface

“Complaining about the treatment of women in Iran is pointless unless you are suggesting we invade them to impose our view. If you are not, the only point of complaining is to make you feel better about yourself. That’s smug liberal snobbery.”

Presumably you’ll stick by the nuke ‘em or shut the fuck up line of reasoning next time you hear criticisms of Israel and the US?

George Galloway attempts to appeal to Ahmadinejad’s ego in order to save a women from being stoned to death? Clearly a monster who deserves all the scorn you can pour on him…

When George was a possible rising star, a potential MP and then a MP, it was hard to get the press or other politicians to take any notice of George’s activities and the background to his political rise. The press went off after his time on Greek islands (probably mythical) and avoided looking at how he became an MP. But since he has become a marginalised figure, he has been the subject of this kind of rather OTT comment.

Do we only really put our politicians under the microscope once they have passed their peak? There are plenty of politicians getting themselves way out of their depth by involvement in the affairs of the Middle East: why the hysteria about the one who is on the way down?

39. Robin Levett

@David Ellis #35:

Galloway, because of his consistent anti-imperialism was able to quite badly embarass Ahmedinejad on this question

“Embarrass?” Tell me you’re joking, please. Tossing him a line that he can hit out of the park for his intended audience is embarrassing?

40. Shatterface

I’m rather surprised to hear you, a libertarian, making an argument that seems to assume the states have a “right” to do whatever they want with their people, regardless of how legitimate that state’s claim to authority. If that right doesn’t exist, what is being violated by this so-called imperialism?

Doesn’t surprise me – the libertarian right makes exemptions for theocracy.

@ Chaise

Ah, to live in pagar’s world, where the only options at any given time are “do nothing” and “invade a foreign country”!

So how do you propose that we persuade Iran to treat their women better? What options, short of regime change, do you think would be effective?

So what would you call the forceful imposition of values by fascist states onto their residents?

The norm, of course. It’s what all states do. You know, just like I’m not allowed to say racist things and am compelled to pay for the healthcare of others and the schooling of other people’s children.

I’m rather surprised to hear you, a libertarian, making an argument that seems to assume the states have a “right” to do whatever they want with their people, regardless of how legitimate that state’s claim to authority. If that right doesn’t exist, what is being violated by this so-called imperialism?

I do not accept the legitimate authority of the nation state, however it is constituted, but state power is, nevertheless, a fact of life. Given that reality, we might as well apply the non-aggression axiom to international affairs and argue against all state coercion- that used against other states as well as the coercion used against its own citizens.

Because people die in wars.

flyingrodent

In the original piece, the interview was used as a means for me to put across my distrust of Galloway’s character, and why he is untrustworthy for office with context to his previous attempts. He was once my MP and he was a shocker. Not an MP, but a showhorse. Really should not be anywhere near parliament, he is more of a campaign donkey.

But your logic here is interesting. We shouldn’t get into discussion groups over Galloway suddenly becoming a twee puppy on serious issues with a middle eastern nutter, where an innocent person’s life was at his risk, as well as others who we cannot name – but when Yvonne Ridley is raised you see the merit of Galloway’s creepiness.

44. flyingrodent

the interview was used as a means for me to put across my distrust of Galloway’s character, and why he is untrustworthy for office with context to his previous attempts. He was once my MP and he was a shocker.

The very first sentence I posted on this thread, at 2) in its entirety: “I’d avoid voting Galloway on the grounds that he’s a) a crap constituency MP and b) a tit”.

We shouldn’t get into discussion groups over Galloway suddenly becoming a twee puppy on serious issues with a middle eastern nutter, where an innocent person’s life was at his risk.

If we were serious that this is absolutely unacceptable behaviour, I think we’ve just invalidated the office terms of most of this country’s MPs since 2001, at least.

45. Planeshift

“Do we only really put our politicians under the microscope once they have passed their peak?”

Yes. When a politician is on their way up they can be untouchable and laugh off every criticism and scandal. When they are on their way down, even going to buy some milk attracts criticism.

” am compelled to pay for the healthcare of others and the schooling of other people’s children.”

This, of course, being totally comparable with stonning people to death for adultury

46. Chaise Guevara

@ 41 pagar

“So how do you propose that we persuade Iran to treat their women better? What options, short of regime change, do you think would be effective?”

Sanctions, negotiation, even just cultural influence.

“The norm, of course. It’s what all states do. You know, just like I’m not allowed to say racist things and am compelled to pay for the healthcare of others and the schooling of other people’s children.”

Yes, but how is the use of force by a fascist state to oppress people worse, in and of itself, than the use of force by another state to liberate people?

“I do not accept the legitimate authority of the nation state, however it is constituted, but state power is, nevertheless, a fact of life. Given that reality, we might as well apply the non-aggression axiom to international affairs and argue against all state coercion- that used against other states as well as the coercion used against its own citizens. ”

But by refusing to use the first form of coercion we allow the second. So surely sometimes the correct option should be to use state v.s. state coercion to defeat state v.s. citizen coercion, where the latter is worse?

“Because people die in wars.”

People die under the heel of fascism too. You seem to be insisting on judging forceful humanitarian intervention as a bad thing without considering the results of NOT intervening!

flyingrodent

“If we were serious that this is absolutely unacceptable behaviour, I think we’ve just invalidated the office terms of most of this country’s MPs since 2001, at least.”

I see no problem in this.

Only most of those MPs are not in my tribe, i.e. the political Left, which is why I take more of an issue with Galloway – he is supposedly in this same tribe (though I’d contest this, he’s an apolitical brand manager) in-fighting is a duty.

Here was GG in full flow at a ”Stop Gaza Massacre” protest in Trafalgar Square in 2009. Pretty much how you would expect.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RFzPm2GWtLA&feature=relmfu

And there’s Ken Livingstone next to him who also does a turn – where (at the end) he say’s (of Israel’s oppression) that you shouldn’t complain then when young men start firing rockets at Israel as they have no other way of hitting back.
Actions that are then the start of bigger military actions and bloodshed when Israel counter attacks.

What’s the point spouting that nonsense in London, before a baying crowd of hot headed people? Israel isn’t going to do anything different, but it feeds the divisive polarisation within England.

49. Shatterface

You haven’t answered my question, pagar – do you think criticism of the US and Israel is just ‘liberal snobbery’ or is it a more sinister prelude to war?

Of course we should resist the phony cultural relativism that some try to impose on our own society, but the imposition, by force, of our values onto other states and cultures is moral imperialism.

Doesn’t the same argument apply to imposing cultural values onto other cultures within the same nation state?

How about across the North-South divide?

I do not accept the legitimate authority of the nation state, however it is constituted, but state power is, nevertheless, a fact of life. Given that reality, we might as well apply the non-aggression axiom to international affairs and argue against all state coercion- that used against other states as well as the coercion used against its own citizens.

Rather contradicted by your previous comment about ‘phony relativism’ above. And ‘I’m a libertarian but the nation state exists so we should respect it’ is basically horseshit.

@ pagar

“we might as well apply the non-aggression axiom to international affairs and argue against all state coercion- that used against other states as well as the coercion used against its own citizens.”

But surely arguing against state coercion is pointless unless you are suggesting we take action to prevent states from coercing their citizens and other states – e.g. by forming a Pagar Revolutionary Committee dedicated to travelling the globe destroying state-controlled munitions. If you are not, the only point of complaining is to make you feel better about yourself. That’s smug libertarian snobbery. Or something.

There are times when Galloway is a prize twit, and his hob-nobbing with unpleasant Middle Eastern politicians cannot be excused by referring to the very real and much bigger crimes of Blair, Bush & Co in the area.

There are times when Galloway easily shows what a pathetic, ineffective bunch most British politicians are.

I find him too inconsistent to be someone whom I could easily support. But were I living in Bradford today, looking at Labour — which I suspect our author would want us to support and vote for — with its utterly feeble show of opposition to this vile Tory Coalition, its refusal wholeheartedly to support workers and students when they have taken action against Cameron & Co, and its long record of war-mongering, I might just be tempted to vote for him.

Thanks Jimmy.

So Galloway is portraying himself as as good as Muslim now eh?

“God KNOWS who is a Muslim. And he KNOWS who is not. Instinctively so do you. Let me point out to all the Muslim brothers and sisters what I stand for:

I George Galloway do not drink alcohol and never have .. etc etc …”

Brilliant!

You have to laugh really.

Laugh? I nearly hurled.

@ Planeshift

” am compelled to pay for the healthcare of others and the schooling of other people’s children.”

This, of course, being totally comparable with stonning people to death for adultury

I wouldn’t go quite that far but you’re right, the principle is the same as both involve state coercion. The second could, I suppose, be argued to be legitimate as punishment for the breach of a voluntary contract (though I would not, of course, try to make that argument).

@ Chaise

“So how do you propose that we persuade Iran to treat their women better? What options, short of regime change, do you think would be effective?”

Sanctions, negotiation, even just cultural influence.

Good luck with that!!!

how is the use of force by a fascist state to oppress people worse, in and of itself, than the use of force by another state to liberate people?

Who decides which is the fascist state and who needs liberating? You, I suppose? That’s where the snobbery comes in.

@ Shatterface

Of course we should resist the phony cultural relativism that some try to impose on our own society, but the imposition, by force, of our values onto other states and cultures is moral imperialism.

Doesn’t the same argument apply to imposing cultural values onto other cultures within the same nation state?

No. Because the first involves the use of force whilst opposition to the imposition of cultural relativism within the UK does not.

And ‘I’m a libertarian but the nation state exists so we should respect it’ is basically horseshit.

Agreed, but that is not what was said.

I said that, given that the state exists it is necessary to deal with the reality of its existence and I don’t think even the most utopian libertarian would argue with that.

“Who decides which is the fascist state and who needs liberating?”

I can’t say I’ve ever found that to be a difficult question to answer. I must be a snob.

But surely arguing against state coercion is pointless unless you are suggesting we take action to prevent states from coercing their citizens and other states – e.g. by forming a Pagar Revolutionary Committee dedicated to travelling the globe destroying state-controlled munitions. If you are not, the only point of complaining is to make you feel better about yourself. That’s smug libertarian snobbery. Or something.

You’re probably right.

But I’m sure you’ll agree that taking principled stances on LC threads is much easier than taking on the British army.

Libertarians aren’t stupid, you know.

58. Chaise Guevara

@ 55 pagar

“Who decides which is the fascist state and who needs liberating? You, I suppose? That’s where the snobbery comes in.”

So having an opinion is snobbery now, is it? It’s amazing that someone as outspoken as yourself suddenly turns out to be a moral and cultural relativist. Or perhaps “convenient” would be a better word than “amazing”.

By the way, if I ever see you expressing a moral opinion about anything, I’ll be sure to advise you what a horrid snob you are.

Yes to these criticisms of Galloway. But where you get it wrong, to my view, is that you’re personalising it all too much, because he seems perfectly typical of hard left leaders for the last hundred fifty years. He doesn’t give a shit about individuals or human rights or women’s rights or any of that liberal snobbery (to coin a phrase) except as useful transitional demands to attack the Capitalist Imperialist running dogs of the Bourgeoisie or however he (typically a he) words it.

What else can you really expect of these 19th century leftovers?

60. flyingrodent

Only most of those MPs are not in my tribe, i.e. the political Left

This is wacky stuff. I think you can fairly lay a massive pile of corpses right at Labour’s door this decade, and the gains for those sacrifices are scant, at best. This is worse – by an order of magnitude! – than the kind of thing you’re talking about, which basically boils down to making inflammatory, offensive and despicable statements.

which is why I take more of an issue with Galloway – he is supposedly in this same tribe.

I don’t particularly buy this either. Getting away from Galloway specifically and onto nuttery in general…

Even before I held any vaguely political views, it was always pretty damn obvious that the entire political spectrum was hoaching with nutters, racists, suck-ups, lapdogs and apologists.

Hell, the left during the Cold War era was crammed full of Maoists and Stalinists and what have you. This generation, the left is pretty much a fuckload of corporatist, touchy-feely Thatcherites with a few whack-jobs lurking around the fringes. If there’s been an era in the last century that featured fewer extremists, loonies and headbangers, I’ve never heard of it.

Plus, you’ll notice you never hear this kind of stuff from the Tories. I can’t recall ever hearing any Tory, anywhere, howling about how the entire right is shamed by wingnut (x) or Nazi (y), as many are wont to do these days.

The reason for this is fairly obvious, I would have thought – the modern function of left wing politics is to slam the brakes on right wing lunacy for a few years; then, to legitimise and consolidate the right’s political gains, before the Tories return to send us screaming rightwards all over again. Thus, anyone significantly to the left of Labour has to be exterminated, pronto, with maximum scaremongering and screams of horror.

Or, shorter – there’s a reason why they call this behaviour “Red-baiting” and not “Nut-picking”.

“Mr Galloway is a coward”

I disagree. That would imply that he wanted to do something but was too scared to do so. He clearly didn’t want to give Ahmadinejad a tough interview.

While not a coward AFAIK, Galloway is a prat with no credibility.

62. Cheesy Monkey

Erm, isn’t Galloway making headway in Bradford West because the incumbent Labour Party is insular, moribund and allegedly a little corrupt? From what I understand, if the CLP was not so useless/despised, ol’ Gorgeous would get bugger all in Bratfud.

Imran Hussain is deputy leader of Bradford Council, deputy to Mr Greenwood, who has also been part of BCR. BCR and Bradford Council have presided over the demise of the City of Bradford over the past decade, where was Imran Hussain through this?

Do the people of Bradford care more about one shoddy interview they didn’t see, or complete inaction over the past decade?

We know it’s either Hussain or Galloway who wins, but if we’re going on failure to speak out, Imran Hussain has done it day after day for years.

Many Galloway voters today do believe he’s a dubious man, but it’s either him or another whip-voting pawn for Labour.

“He is the political Apotamkin, devilish creatures who feed off the blood of others and live forever”

Really?

I thought he was a Scot.

The point that every single MP who voted for the Iraq war is worse is a fair one. Of course, they’re associated with the state, so they’ll always be respectable.

I wouldn’t vote for him, because he’s not Labour, but he shouldn’t have been thrown out of the party.

I don’t like him, but left-wingers who concentrate their attacks on people like him are wasting their time.

66. Planeshift

“the incumbent Labour Party is insular, moribund and allegedly a little corrupt?”

That’s never harmed their support levels before.

67. Shatterface

‘Doesn’t the same argument apply to imposing cultural values onto other cultures within the same nation state?’

No. Because the first involves the use of force whilst opposition to the imposition of cultural relativism within the UK does not.

I’m not sure where you’ve been for the last decade or so but the State’s approach to UK citizens behaving like the Taliban hasn’t been passive, whatever approach your precious Galloway might wish to adopt in the future.

68. Cheesy Monkey
69. Churm Rincewind

The complaint of this article seems to be that when George Galloway personally asked Ahmadinejad to commute Sakeneh Mohammadi Ashtani’s sentence to banishment, a) his language was too deferential, and b) his request was refused.

I hardly see how Ahmadinejad’s refusal can be laid at Galloway’s door. Nor am I able to trace any instance of any other politician or public figure ever raising this issue with Ahmadinejad in a face to face meeting, which takes a lot more guts than howling outrage from afar.

Good for Galloway, say I. There are many, many reasons for not voting for him, but this ain’t one of them.

Is this Johann Hari’s new pseudonym?

“Erm, isn’t Galloway making headway in Bradford West because the incumbent Labour Party is insular, moribund and allegedly a little corrupt?”

No it’s because it’s a by-election in a safe Labour seat in which most won’t bother to vote and where those who feel like voting for the nutjob for shits’n’giggles can do so without any serious consequence.

Is this Johann Hari’s latest pseudonym?

73. Charlieman

@5. Lee: “I hate this liberal snobbery that states we should impose our culture on other civilizations.”

This statement displays alarming ignorance of liberal principles. Liberals do not wish to impose their values on others but believe in societies where citizens can make up their own minds. A vaguely liberal country like the UK is home to liberals, conservatives, fascists, Maoists, Jews, flat earthers and whatever. They can practice their beliefs as long as they do not harm others. And within reason, sadists are permitted to torture consenting masochists.

Liberals do not impose any culture beyond that of allowing people to live their own lives according to their own belief systems. Theists can follow their religion and as long as it does not affect anyone else, they are allowed to get on with it. Anyone can set up a political party and unless they are inordinately crass, they are unlikely to breach any hate or violence laws.

Cultural/moral relativists like Lee should understand that liberal government is not about telling citizens how to live their lives. Liberal government means that state bodies and private organisations are not permitted to boss citizens around. Citizens who live within the law are allowed to get on with their own affairs. That means that if the culture of a country is to live in tents, citizens are allowed to live in tents, caves or hay stacks; nobody would be forced to live in a tent.

Relativists often try to obfuscate arguments with suggestions that citizens of Afghanistan, Zimbabwe or Vanatu would be forced to live like Mondeo Man. And lefties despise McDonalds so much that they fall into the trap that liberal government == McDonalds on every street corner. The realities of liberal government are equal opportunities, legal justice and social freedom.

The most fearsome enemies of liberalism are cultural/moral relativists. Relativists empower authoritarian governments to oppress citizens and to deny basic human rights.

74. Charlieman

@69. Churm Rincewind: “Nor am I able to trace any instance of any other politician or public figure ever raising this issue with Ahmadinejad in a face to face meeting, which takes a lot more guts than howling outrage from afar.”

Political reality is that few mainstream politicians would participate in an interview or debate with Ahmadinejad, unless it was required for diplomacy. Either Galloway has the ability to hold his nose for a ten or twenty minute interview with an oppressor, or Galloway does not care about the oppressed.

Leaving the crunch question to the last one? Surely if you want to know the fate of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtani or wish to intervene, you would ask the question earlier? To give yourself the opportunity for a few followup questions?

@74

To give yourself the opportunity for a few followup questions?

You’re of the opinion that Ahmadinejad would have entertained them?

76. Charlieman

@60. flyingrodent: “…the modern function of left wing politics is to slam the brakes on right wing lunacy for a few years; then, to legitimise and consolidate the right’s political gains, before the Tories return to send us screaming rightwards all over again.”

Isn’t this a bit of a traditional lefty argument, FR? I am sure that traditional righties discuss obverse points.

Today we have a Conservative led government that wishes to reform marriage laws. To recognise marriage as well as civil partnership between gay people. The nasty wing of the Conservative Party tries to attack access to abortion and the nice wing gives them no space. Conservatives are constrained in government by LibDems, but without that constraint they would still be less obnoxious than in the past.

BTW I am not entirely convinced by my own argument. From personal experience, I know that some Conservative junior ministers are filthy individuals. We encounter such people in all parties.

77. flyingrodent

Liberals do not wish to impose their values on others but believe in societies where citizens can make up their own minds.

For a bunch of supposed liberals, we don’t half have a habit of dropping half-arsed versions of Jeffersonian democracy on unsuspecting countries without consulting their populace’s opinion on the matter.

Further, when the near-inevitable result is factional government, we have a pretty good record of palling up with the ethnoreligious groups who best suit our own vision for the country, then blasting holy hell out of the other factions until either they surrender, or we run out of money.

The perfect example – Iraq, where the US overthrew Saddam Hussein, then tried in sequence:

Consular rule;

Rule by implanted, unpopular exile groups;

Majority rule by Shiite strongmen, enacted to stave off a Shiite uprising;

Military alliance with said Shiites plus Kurds in ultraviolent campaign against Sunni militias leading to an all-out insurgent civil war, followed by

Military alliance with Sunnis in ultraviolent campaign against Shiite militias, finally ending up with

A bullshit stalemate based upon the balance of terror, in which all the actors are barricaded into their own zones of control and the main actors rule by brutal methods learned from…

Saddam Hussein.

Liberalism, it isn’t what it used to be. It’s funny, though – the tactic of invading/destabilising countries, propping up favoured elites with military and economic aid and then helping those elites suppress dissent by force and disappearance was once very popular. Popular in the Soviet Union, that is.

I mean, an expansionary superpower system, determined to violently export its own form of government to other countries at riflepoint, utterly convinced that it’s doing the Lord’s work and indifferent to the costs of its own failures.

This democratic liberalism, well, it sure looks familiar to me. I bet it looks damn familiar to eastern Europeans and southeast Asians, too.

78. flyingrodent

Isn’t this a bit of a traditional lefty argument, FR?

It probably is. If so, I think there’s probably a reason why it became traditional in the first place.

And sure, the present crop of Tories are just as Godawful as the last. Just in case anyone cares what my opinion on the matter is – the next Labour government will do just as little to roll back the Tories’ malfeasance as the previous one did with the Godawful Tories of their day.

79. Charlieman

@77. flyingrodent: “For a bunch of supposed liberals, we don’t half have a habit of dropping half-arsed versions of Jeffersonian democracy on unsuspecting countries without consulting their populace’s opinion on the matter.”

Have you not considered that liberalism is the natural state? Making up rules to control citizens takes a bit of effort. Each law that government makes eases the next law.

To assume that countries are unsuspecting of liberal government post-war is somewhat gauche. Many of the politicians were educated in the west and they are able to read liberal ideas. I’ll allow you an exception for Maoist regimes.

“The perfect example – Iraq, where the US overthrew Saddam Hussein, then tried in sequence:”

But in your perfect example, Iraq was never liberal. It never had a liberal government.

“This democratic liberalism, well, it sure looks familiar to me. I bet it looks damn familiar to eastern Europeans and southeast Asians, too.”

Have a look at EU expansion and you’ll see some eastern European nations. Take a look at Kazakhstan. The government wants to join the EU but it may not because it is authoritarian.

10 reasons not to vote for George Galloway:-

1. He looks horrible in red lycra

2. He works for the propaganda arm of a theocratic regime, Press TV

3. He is highly litigious

4. He has this fantasy life where he is Saladin on a white horse leading a charge against the Crusaders. A billion Muslims know his name, didn’t you know? Mind you, if some furious Iranian students heckle his meetings, he calls for the British police to remove them.

5. When he addresses Arab audiences -he speaks in this cod-Arab accent, and starts using cod-flowery language like “Your beautiful daughters Baghdad and Jerusalem are being ravished by the Western powers”.

6. He sucks up to dictators. It’s a bad omen for them when he does – Saddam ended up on a rope and one happy day Assad may as well, not to mention Admadinejad.

7. He’s a mediocre writer who thinks he’s a good writer.

8. He’s atrociously vain.

9. He hints he’s a Muslim when it’s convenient without saying whether he is or isn’t. I do wish a few Muslims would corner him and say, George, yea, or nay. My understanding is that it only takes a declaration of faith in front of a couple of witnesses to become a Muslim, but it is apostasy to give it up, which is punishable by death in some places that he visits.

10. He’s playing communalist politics. That is really dangerous stuff. Our sectarian hellhole in the UK is Belfast. We can do without politicians out religioning each other to attract votes. It’s something that blights American elections. But he is in Bradford saying crap like this:-

God KNOWS who is a Muslim. And he KNOWS who is not. Instinctively, so do you. Let me point out to all the Muslim brothers and sisters what I stand for:

I, George Galloway, do not drink alcohol and never have. Ask yourself if you believe the other candidate in this election can say that truthfully.

I, George Galloway, have fought for the Muslims at home and abroad, all my life. And paid a price for it. I believe the other candidate in this election cannot say so truthfully.

SO DON’T VOTE GEORGE GALLOWAY. YOU KNOW IT MAKES SENSE.

Ok George made a failed attempt to save this woman

maybe you can tell us what the other politicians did to save her but I seriously doubt it cause your a cock.

He might have won. I hope he has.
Only because it makes politics a little more interesting.

Don’t forget his party no longer supports equal rights for homosexuals, which was one of its founding principles.

85. Shatterface

He might have won. I hope he has.
Only because it makes politics a little more interesting.

The kind of ‘interesting’ you used to find on The History Channel every night, usually accompanied by music by Wagner.

86. Dick the Prick

Not being of the left but err…surely a left wing MP is better than a sub Tory clone? When Balls and Milliband are proposing a mere 0.6% variance to a Tory austerity budget, you lot are happy with that? Sure, for most normal Tories we’d want greater cuts but we are where we are and the nay sayers won’t vote for Galloway because he’s a bit of a twat? I don’t really want to understand the personality politics you’re opposing, it seems really odd.

87. Robin Levett

@Paul #82:

Ok George made a failed attempt to save this woman

Nope. He offered Ahmadinajad an opportunity to make a point.

@71, Jimmy “it’s a by-election in a safe Labour seat in which most won’t bother to vote and where those who feel like voting for the nutjob for shits’n’giggles can do so without any serious consequence”.

WHOOPS!

89. the a&e charge nurse

Landslide for Galloway – georgeous George says his bi-election victory in Bradford reflects the loathing of people in inner cities for the mainstream parties – some may not like George but he is right about that?

Well, they’ve gone from an MP few people listened to but did a bit for them to one who is openly derided by all sides and is a notoriously bad constituency MP. But people who vote on religious lines get what they deserve anyway. It’s 2012, Charlie Darwin was on the money in 1859 and we haven’t come far since.

And he’s a dictatorwhoring, Saddam, Assad and Ahmadinejad-loving litigious fascist little shit who works for Press TV. I would go on but I have to go and fill the car up…

Oh dear, oh dear, I think Carl is going to start crying soon and scweam and scweam at that horrid Mr Galloway who is responsible for all the ills of the world, and as it turns out also a vampire, who knew. Still at least he didn’t split the vote, it simply moved en masse from Nu Labour to him.

Not sure what Car’s politics are, but going by this site he is probably a supporter of Dead Ed and Nu Labour (and perhaps even the living dead that are the Lib Dems). So no doubt he would have us believe that Dead Ed, who condems strikers when he is ordered to to do so by the ConDems is far more principled that GG. As obviously are Nu Labour who under Blair stood up to dicators like those in Saudi Rabai, Bahrain, Yemen, Jordan, with a ferocity rarely seen in the world up to this point.

This article is going to go down as a classic, one of the funniest, most pathetic, hysterical (and hugely inaccurate) ever to feature on the web, which is one hell of an achievment.

92. the a&e charge nurse

[81] he,hee, obviously Homer has forgotten Churchill’s words – “It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried”.

I understand the reasons for not voting Galloway: he has been a poor constituency MP, he has a distasteful communalist approach, his politics as a whole are questionable in certain respects, etc. A Labour victory would certainly have had the advantage of strengthening, or not weakening, Miliband’s hand at an important time.

Still, the upside is that Parliament will now have a strong anti-war voice at a time when Parliament remains dangerously addicted to waging war. Can we say that the same would have been true if the Labour candidate had won? I do not know as I am not familiar with his views or record. But few politicians have been as outspoken on the matter as Galloway. Clearly he upset a lot of people, and prompted his expulsion from the Labour Party, when he condoned foreign attacks on British soldiers. On the other hand, if this country were to stop waging illegal wars of aggression and stop occupying foreign countries, it wouldn’t have to put up with the problem of people wondering whether armed resistance to illegal foreign imperialist aggression might sometimes be justified.

In retrospect it looks like there was no risk of a split vote letting the Tories through, but it’s understandable that people feared there was at the time. A pity that not all those people supported AV.

Bit late to the debate but interested

95. Torquil Macneil

Oh please, can we lose this idea that Galloway is ‘anti-war’? He just doesn’t support the side the US is on is all. Do you really imagine he would be against tanks rolling into Israel, say? Or a strong Iranian attack on Saudi?

90. Ted Maul

And he’s a dictatorwhoring, Saddam, Assad and Ahmadinejad-loving litigious fascist little shit who works for Press TV. I would go on but I have to go and fill the car up…

It is pretty obvious the hostility to him is coming from the pro-iraq war blairites, playing the leftier than thou game to save the butts! I am glad he won and hope the rank and file labour party start viewing you rightly as a political liability! Blairites are clearly in charge to this day if the only thing they have to offer voters is tory-lite budget cuts on high speed rail!

I thought waking up to find GG was elected was bad, then I read through these comments to find somebody accusing me of being a Liberal Democrat. Reeducation camp for you!

Someone in the HOC who can say what he believes without reference to the party machines?

Doesn’t much matter what he says, it still makes the place a little healthier.

99. Here we go again.

Is it true that Galloway was set to lose the election badly until it was pointed out to voters that Liberal Conspiracy had published a piece telling voters not to, and that the public then turned out in force to vote for him just to annoy LibCon?

Incidentally, a little treat for those who say we don’t concede ground to the cultural relativists.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-17548263

Liberalism, it isn’t what it used to be.

Au contraire–it’s exactly the same as it ever was.

102. Chaise Guevara

@ 100

“Incidentally, a little treat for those who say we don’t concede ground to the cultural relativists.”

Scout Organisation Adapts Uniforms on Offer to Reflect Changing Times Shocker.

But it’s funny to see you, a cultural relavitist, complaining about cultural relativism.

@ 80 & 85 – Yup! Well said. Galloways’s communalism may yet turn out be his most dangerous aspect.

@Charlieman, Chaise, Carl, Pagar, Lee; at the liberalism / cultural / moral relativism interface – there seem to be two meanings to the phrase “moral relativism” that need distinguishing. First off, it’s obviously a fact that absolute moral values do not exist, which is why human cultures are so diverse and clashing. Honest moral relativists appreciate this and try to understand all different perspectives at the same time as being consistent within their own chosen moral framework. This is closely related to liberalism and any healthy, educated tolerance for others’ ways.

But there’s the other use of “moral relativism” which is disingenuous or pejorative. A prime example is the Tony Blair example given. One minute he’s all for liberal interventionism and regime change – when it suits his purposes – the next he plays it all relativist on Saudi Arabia or whoever he wants to suck up to and scratch backs with. That’s no more than pure cynicism and self-serving, as well as an abandonment of all moral principle, typical of our leaders and masters.

When you talk of Iran and the position of women from the perspective of the West the problem is that Iran is actually a democracy and, sadly for the educated, cosmopolitan minority in Iran, the majority, including – even especially – women, actively want to live in what we in Euro-America often describe as “a theocracy”.

As a peri-menopausal woman I reckon I’m entitled to voice my experience, which is that some post-menopausal women in particular can have a tendency to be among the most repressive, reactionary and narrow-minded people around. Try telling Umm Hussein and Umm Ahmed that young hussies should be allowed to get away with enjoying non-licit nookie and you’ll find that they will often be the loudest in condemnation and calling for the harshest punishment Sharia law can provide for moral degenerates. Such ladies are not moral relativists in any sense!

In the absence of any other left wing candidate (the LibDems and Labour stand together on the right) I would vote for George Galloway. In a heartbeat. It seems a great many other people think the same way. I expect a lot more fanning of the flames of “Gorgeous George” hatred now he has exposed the blatant but ignored fact that we don’t actually have a left wing party, only a coalition of pro free marketeers itching to privatise every last bit of the welfare state.

105. Planeshift

” we don’t concede ground to the cultural relativists.”

OMG ITS THE END OF WESTERN CIVILLISATION

This story is no different to a restaurant offering a vegetarian option, and ensuring wheelchair access for potential customers. It’s an organisation trying to appeal to more members by accommodating a cultural requirement – market forces working if anything. It’s hardly in the league of letting people comitt crimes because of their alleged culture is it?

“Well, they’ve gone from an MP few people listened to”

Probably not a good sign that the Radio 5 presenter last night when the subject of Marsha Singh’s operation came up asked how “she” was doing.

“Well, they’ve gone from an MP few people listened to but did a bit for them to one who is openly derided by all sides”

Openly derided all sides except for the only one that counts, you mean.

108. Chaise Guevara

@ 103 birdie

When I use “moral relativism” or “cultural relativism”, i tend it to mean the error of assuming that, because no moral/cultural system can be *proved* superior, then we have to assume they’re all as good as each other and anyone who supports moral system A and condemns moral system B is a nasty old snob.

Basically it’s a great way to hypocritically condemn everyone else while pretending that you’re unbiased, or to dress up callous attitudes in the garbs of righteousness.

109. black_box

It’s funny watching you lot foam at the mouth over GG’s thumping election victory. Anyone would think he’d stolen your jelly and ice cream.

It will be interesting to see a breakdown of the voting paterns and turnout within the different wards of the constituency. There will certainly have been a bit of the Tower Hamlets effect, but to get 18,000 votes he must have had a lot of mainstream support too.

@ Chaise

it’s funny to see you, a cultural relavitist, complaining about cultural relativism.

I think you must be confusing me with someone else.

Because I don’t agree with invading other countries to prove the superiority of our moral values does not make me a cultural relativist. A cultural pacifist perhaps.

As to the Muslim girl scout uniform, the imposition of dress code is part of the paternalist continuum by which Muslim women are oppressed, and that is what is being pandered to here.

Surprised to see you support it.

” Women’s rights is a cultural issue that should be decided by the struggle inside Iran, not by outsiders”

Er. No.

I am SICK TO FUCK of privileged people, often men, usually people who live HERE in Britain going on about how not stoning women to death or hanging gays is a fucking morally subjective cultural issue.

Mistreating the sick and disabled is OUR culture but that’s wrong too. Culture is defined by the dominant forces in any society. If a culture oppresses or harms the people subject to it then criticising the culture is the total opposite of criticising the people!

Don’t you know how much of a massive privilege it is to be able to ponder the theoretical ethics of FGM and stoning as if it’s some interesting academic exercise? It is people’s lives for goodness sake.

Chaise wrote; “Basically it’s a great way to hypocritically condemn everyone else while pretending that you’re unbiased, or to dress up callous attitudes in the garbs of righteousness.”

Exactly so. That is the perversion of cultural relativism. The problem for those who then set themselves up as “anti cultural-relativism” though, is that, as you also say; “because no moral/cultural system can be *proved* superior, then we have to assume they’re all as good as each other” is also true, imo. As one learns in Linguistics 101, all languages are equally valid. No musical system, artistic, social or cultural system can claim to be somehow “better” than that created and enjoyed by another group of people.

All cultures are of equal value, although very different. The trouble comes about in the modern connected telecomms world because we can now easily see that others live differently to us, but then some go and try to set themselves up as moral arbiters over others outside our own particular cultural sphere – usually under the influence of some aggressive ideology – like liberal interventionism.

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

And where do you draw the borderlines around cultural spheres? That’s another difficulty, but a soluble one. Traditionally people have approached this by having different cultural quarters assigned eg in Central Asia where cultures meet they have had towns divided into several different areas, for centuries. It’s all about finding a modus vivendi.

115. Dan Factor

@5….

“Women’s rights is a cultural issue that should be decided by the struggle inside Iran, not by outsiders”.

Indeed but criticism of the lack of women’s rights in Iran and support for those fighting for women’s rights from so called “outsiders” helps to further the cause.

” I hate this liberal snobbery that states we should impose our culture on other civilizations.

Nobody is talking about imposing anything.

116. Dan Factor

@25…

“Complaining about the treatment of women in Iran is pointless unless you are suggesting we invade them to impose our view. If you are not, the only point of complaining is to make you feel better about yourself. That’s smug liberal snobbery.”

Wow! Concern about the treatment of women in other countries is trying to make one feel better about themselves!

Just let them be stoned to death and hung or you’re just a smug liberal snob!

Amazing!

@ black-box – who’s foaming? Galloway’s victory is brilliant … on a number of counts.

@ Lou – you don’t get it do you! It’s not just on any one issue that we’re all privileged here on LibCon … here in the UK – including you, love – it’s every single aspect of our lives, so why pick any single issue?

Do you not realise that if you want to “stop FGM” or “stop killing homosexuals” or whatever else cause you like to choose, then you are going to have to GO TO WAR on millions, billions even, of non-British people, including all the women out there who want to punish those they see as moral degenerates and ensure the modesty of their girl-children etc etc.

Are you really up for that?

More likely the British Government will just send more soldiers out there to do it for you, and you can keep your hands clean.

Cultures are equal.

But around the world powerful people find ways of oppressing others. Just because within another culture, the powerful have found a slightly different way of doing it than our powerful people do it, does not mean we should respect it any more than we would respect oppressing and injustice when it happens to fit our own culture.

Culture isn’t the same as morality. Harm and oppression is wrong.

119. Robin Levett

@pagar #111:

Because I don’t agree with invading other countries to prove the superiority of our moral values does not make me a cultural relativist.

It does when you also take the position that the only people entitled to claim the superiority of their moral values are those who support invading other countries to impose them.

@Birdie

“@ Lou – you don’t get it do you! It’s not just on any one issue that we’re all privileged here on LibCon … here in the UK – including you, love – it’s every single aspect of our lives, so why pick any single issue?”

Er, that’s what the conversation is about so that’s what I’m talking about.

My point is that people WHO ACTUALLY ARE FORCED INTO MARRIAGES OR BEING STONED TO DEATH seem quite comfortable calling it out as wrong. It’s just people who are safe from it sitting there going “ah but who are we to say it’s wrong” pretending to be all respectful and impartial but really just don’t care about it because it’s happening to someone else.

“Do you not realise that if you want to “stop FGM” or “stop killing homosexuals” or whatever else cause you like to choose, then you are going to have to GO TO WAR on millions, billions even, of non-British people, including all the women out there who want to punish those they see as moral degenerates and ensure the modesty of their girl-children etc etc.”

Really? Why is war the answer? Why are “the British” the answer? We’re not great at human rights either, I just believe in standing up to ALL oppression, not just when it impacts on us over here. Why is it not possible to still POINT OUT THAT FGM IS WRONG without wanting to bomb everyone to bits? (Which is ALSO wrong).

“More likely the British Government will just send more soldiers out there to do it for you, and you can keep your hands clean.”

What a stupid comment, how do you know whether I’m even in the army or not anyway for a start? I’m not – but you don’t know that. But that’s not the fucking point, I don’t think that because we aren’t wanting to blow a whole country up we should therefore pander to and condone their abhorrent crimes and pretend not to know right from wrong. We don’t do that with oppressors here and we shouldn’t do it just cos they’re from a “different culture” either.

Sorry I don’t mean to get so aggressive but this conversation is just really fucked up. Some areas of morality are subjective but some are NOT.

121. Chaise Guevara

@ 111 pagar

“I think you must be confusing me with someone else. ”

So it was a different pagar who said “”Who decides which is the fascist state and who needs liberating? You, I suppose? That’s where the snobbery comes in” at post 55, then?

“Because I don’t agree with invading other countries to prove the superiority of our moral values does not make me a cultural relativist. A cultural pacifist perhaps.”

No, but you think that passing judgement on the way another country conducts its affairs is “snobbery”: and that’s where the cultural relativism comes in.

“As to the Muslim girl scout uniform, the imposition of dress code is part of the paternalist continuum by which Muslim women are oppressed, and that is what is being pandered to here.

Surprised to see you support it.”

I see you need informing about the difference between “I support this” and “I do not support banning this”. I am not particularly comfortable with traditional Muslim dress codes. However, if that is what those girls want to wear, that’s their business, not mine, and with that in mind it makes sense for the scout group to accomodate its members. I’m a liberal, y’see. We don’t go in for telling other people how to dress.

Anyhoo, isn’t your negative assessment of the uniform a case of naughty snobbery, based on your idea that having a personal opinion about people other than you is inherently arrogant?

Or does your purported libertarianism just vanish down the plughole when you sniff out an excuse to attack Muslims?

Maybe both?

I’m afraid that trying to put all the vast, never-ending pain, torture and suffering inflicted by individual men women and children on others down to “powerful people” is just a red herring Lou. You’re not actually adressing the real issues.

It reminds me of the fool who wrote “kill leaders not people” on the wall. Well duh!

Lou: “Harm and oppression is wrong”

Sorry – it’s human nature you don’t like. Sadly the human is not a pretty animal. History demonstrates quite clearly that harm and oppression is what we do. In all too large a part. If it’s not each other we’re oppressing then it’s animals, or the Earth. The tide of suffering caused by humans is too infinitely vast to make much impact on.

All we can do is make the most of our good aspects.

123. Shatterface

Sorry – it’s human nature you don’t like.

That’s just social Darwinist bullshit

Sadly the human is not a pretty animal.

Yes it is, we are the only animal to evolve ethics.

History demonstrates quite clearly that harm and oppression is what we do. In all too large a part. If it’s not each other we’re oppressing then it’s animals, or the Earth. The tide of suffering caused by humans is too infinitely vast to make much impact on.

History shows that institutions are oppressive, and that those who throw their hands up and call it ‘human nature’ are enablers (at best).

@ Shatterface – You must have read too much Rousseau, “man is born free … blah blah blah”. I suppose you believe in the noble savage as well.

125. Chaise Guevara

@ Shatterface and birdie

I think you’re both right. Human nature is obviously at the heart of all human activity, but we shouldn’t let that become an excuse for appalling behaviour. Something can be human nature and still *bad*.

@David Wearing
“Mr Blair once described Hosni Mubarak as “immensely courageous and a force for good”, which easily equals Galloway’s notorious grovelling before Saddam.”

Worse in fact – Blair was in power and could have brought pressure to bear on Mubarak if he so wished, even if only a mild verbal rebuke. Of course Blair had no such wish.

Hi Lou at 1.13pm, sorry I didn’t see your comment before. Perhaps LibCon’s crappy comments system?

Anyhow. Of course people who are victims of their social system complain about it, we all do when we’re the victimised minority. Like you probably, I think that lots of things in monotheist-dominated societies like Saudi Arabia, Iran or the United States are revolting, but I think that because I was shaped in liberal England by non-religious parents.

You seem to have missed much of what I wrote above. One point I made is that all morality is subjective and socially constructed (subject only to basic biological constraints on human intra-group function) Of course we can all complain about what we perceive as disgusting social practices by other people in countries foreign to us. Nothing wrong with that. That is part of our democratic process, such as it is. It may or may not achieve anything. If it doesn’t then there’s no point is there? That would just be moral grand-standing to make you feel better about knowing that there are really nasty things going on in the world.

No, you obviously want to achieve a change with your complaint, and that is where the problems start, as I was trying to point out. You seem to be ignoring most of what I’ve written at 103 and 114, eg:

“Try telling Umm Hussein and Umm Ahmed that young hussies should be allowed to get away with enjoying non-licit nookie and you’ll find that they will often be the loudest in condemnation and calling for the harshest punishment Sharia law can provide for moral degenerates. Such ladies are not moral relativists in any sense!”

Iran, which seems to take all the flak – much of which should go to Sunni countries – IS A DEMOCRACY. There may be a few liberal intellectuals in Teheran who don’t like it, BUT they are in the MINORITY. If you want to tell the hundreds of millions of conservative religious Muslims – and it seems that you do want to tell them how they should live – then you must be prepared for a BIG FIGHT, because they will not just roll over and go “yeah OK, homosexuals and adulterers are just dandy and we’ll let them get on with things” are they? NO they are going to resist your assertion with every fibre of their beings, just as you would resist them telling you what to do.

You appear to be very patronising toward the people of Iran by implicitly assuming that they don’t feel just as strongly about their moral values as you do about yours. No doubt they feel just as strongly that their families need to be protected against the moral harm from adulterers and homosexuals, as you feel that adulterers and homosexuals should be protected from them.

128. Charlieman

@127. birdie: “Iran, which seems to take all the flak – much of which should go to Sunni countries – IS A DEMOCRACY.”

Fair and free elections (which do not happen in Iran, where the list of candidates is controlled) do not amount to DEMOCRACY. Democracy is about respect for minorities, not tyranny by the the majority. This is all GCSE politics study stuff.

“If you want to tell the hundreds of millions of conservative religious Muslims – and it seems that you do want to tell them how they should live – then you must be prepared for a BIG FIGHT…”

Liberals are not demanding that conservative religious Muslims in Iran change how they live. The demand is that people who are not conservative religious Muslims can co-exist and live their own lives.

BIG FIGHT? Or complacency?

“No doubt they feel just as strongly that their families need to be protected against the moral harm from adulterers and homosexuals, as you feel that adulterers and homosexuals should be protected from them.”

The first clause recognises that some people are ignorant. When people are ignorant, liberals and democrats seek to educate them. Liberals and democrats do not perpetuate ignorance by pandering to oppressors.

At this point I return to Birdie’s comment @103: “But there’s the other use of “moral relativism” which is disingenuous or pejorative.”

I’m not convinced by the case that Birdie presents @103. When Tony Blair sucked up to Saudi Arabia, that was diplomacy or pragmatism. I don’t believe that Tony Blair sought to accommodate Wahhabism in UK society beyond the freedom to practice religion. Did Tony Blair adjust his moral values (a floating target, I acknowledge)? I think not.

I suggest that there is a third form of moral relativism: naivety. And that is my accusation about Birdie.

There is a fourth form of moral relativism as practised by Gorgeous George: say whatever is required to get elected.

129. Chaise Guevara

@ 128 Charlieman

“Fair and free elections (which do not happen in Iran, where the list of candidates is controlled) do not amount to DEMOCRACY. Democracy is about respect for minorities, not tyranny by the the majority. This is all GCSE politics study stuff.”

No, hang on. Democracy is government by popular vote. Respect for minorities is tolerance or egalitarianism or something like that. You might think that a democracy that abuses minorities doesn’t deserve the title, and it’s true that democracies tend to deliver better on many such metrics than dictatorships, but it’s hardly fair to upbraid someone for using a word to mean what it usually means.

As you probably know, democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting who to have for dinner. Tyranny of the majority is an inherent flaw of democracy, one of the reasons it’s the least-worst system. Fortunately, in practice things seem to moderate out to some extent, so it’s more like a lion, a tiger and a bear (oh my!) voting that we’re just not going to eat anyone.

I thought the problem with saying that Iran is a democracy is that it’s more like a we’re-a-democracy-no-really-we-are theocracy.

130. Charlieman

@129. Chaise Guevara: “No, hang on. Democracy is government by popular vote.”

No, you are confusing “holding elections” or “majority government” with “democracy”. Democracy requires free elections and a lot more.

Democracy means free association of citizens, equal opportunity for different races, absence of homophobia or transphobia in state bodies, and more. Democracy permits for “outsider” cases.

Ancient Greeks and libertarians are permitted to disagree and absolutely encouraged to contribute.

131. Leon Wolfeson

@129 – Charlie’s right.

Look at what’s happened in Egypt. Free elections, but hardly democracy. It takes time for democratic institutions to build themselves, by holding a rapid election it *handed* the government to the only organisation who had a country-wide network, the Muslim Brotherhood.

Most democratic systems use PR for a reason – it means that various groups have to compromise, rather than getting the situation we’re seeing in the UK right now. It’s the best response to the growth of political parties, which were not a part of the original Westminster democratic system but grew over time.

Look what happened in New Zealand when they introduced PR…

132. Chaise Guevara

@ Charlieman

Hmm. A quick look on online dictionaries (which I hate doing, but this is a wholly semantic debate) seems to support both definitions of the word. For example, the Free Online Dictionary has both “1. (Government, Politics & Diplomacy) government by the people or their elected representatives” and “3. (Sociology) the practice or spirit of social equality”.

So fair enough, it is sometimes used the way you’re using it. But that doesn’t mean birdie is wrong for using it in another commonly recognised way. Let alone deserving of snide put-downs. And on the subject of snark: I’m not an Ancient Greek or a libertarian, and nor is anyone I know, yet all the people I know seem to use “democracy” to refer to government by popular vote.

You’re not the arbiter of English. You don’t have the right to unilaterally declare all meanings of a word except your preferred one to be invalid.

133. Charlieman

Hi Chaise.

I am sorry if you perceived that my comment about Ancient Greeks was a personal attack. It was intended as a humorous aside about literal interpretations. (As we discussed on a thread previously, I am not retracting my words but clarifying them.)

I think that I was entitled to criticise Birdie because DEMOCRACY was shouted at me, that the fake elections in Iran somehow justify an oppressive state. Birdie was not making a semantic argument nor was I with my rebuttals. The topic was moral/cultural relativism, and I find tolerance of rigged elections to be inexcusable. Taking that further, I am repelled by the suggestion that minorities or vulnerable people deserve what they get because the majority of people don’t like them.

134. Chaise Guevara

@ 133 Charlieman

Accepted, but I move that you are entering a semantic debate when you’re arguing over what a word “really” means. Acid test: if you and birdie agreed to stop using the word “democracy” for sake of argument, and instead refer to public elections as “democratism” and social equality as “demos-fu”, then that part of the conversation, at least, would be over.

The fact that Iran’s elections are not real elections is a totally different matter, and one on which you are absolutely right.

” I am repelled by the suggestion that minorities or vulnerable people deserve what they get because the majority of people don’t like them.”

Did birdie say that? This is an honest question as I can’t be bothered to re-read the whole thread. But if she didn’t, that seems like a pretty huge strawman against someone who simply defines democracy as government by popular vote.

@ Flying Rodent

Comparing Blair with Galloway is not to compare like with like, What do you think a Government with Galloway as PM would be like?.

Galloway with the power of the state behind his agenda for a decade would be a more realistic comparison, or a Tony Blair who never got beyond an intermittent acquaintance with the back benches.

Do you really think Galloway would not wage war?, He has motive but not means or opportunity………Thank God.

Individuals have their own subjective view of what is and what isn’t moral. It does not necessarily follow that morality itself is subjective, any more than truth is subjective. It is our judgement on truth and morality which is subjective, and, having no more than bare reason, we are obliged to rely upon reason to determine both morality and truth, and in situations where agreement is necessary, to find agreement.

Recognising that individuals (or cultures, which are only collections of individuals) have different views on morality is merely observing the reality of the situation, and does not contradict moral absolutism or moral relativism, both of which address a separate matter, that of the existence or non-existence of an objective morality, whatever our ability to discern it or agree upon it.

137. Chaise Guevara

@ 136 Trooper

In what objective way does morality exist? The truth does: “the Earth moves around the Sun” remains true regardless of whether we believe it, or even exist to think it. “Be kind to the unfortunate” doesn’t, as far as I can tell.

@ Chaise, well, that’s the question!

I dare say a case can be made for a rational basis to some kind of natural law. What do you think – is morality irrational or rational? If the latter, then perhaps it may be objectively arived at.

139. Leon Wolfeson

@137 – And hence, like your party, you believe it’s evil to think it exists. Right.

Back in reality, a moral standard which doesn’t have compassion as one of it’s attributes…

140. spamfilter

FAIL.

Galloway won.

@Carl: Spoken like true neo-con, stop spreading your pro-israel crap with your Neo-con buddies here in the UK.

141. damonthecunt

@damon: You do know Israel are the oppressors.

EDL cunt.

142. damonthecunt

@95 – YAWN

Neo-con propaganda.

Most Far-right loons are as intelligent as Sarah Palin.

143. Chaise Guevara

@ 139 Leon

“And hence, like your party, you believe it’s evil to think it exists. Right.”

1) What is “my party”?
2) What do I consider to be evil?
3) In general, what are you blathering on about?

“Back in reality, a moral standard which doesn’t have compassion as one of it’s attributes…”

I’m really not going to address half a sentence, especially given that the full sentence in your post appears to make no sense.

144. Chaise Guevara

@ 138 Trooper

“I dare say a case can be made for a rational basis to some kind of natural law.”

I’ve yet to see it, I have to say.

“What do you think – is morality irrational or rational?”

It’s inherent – or at least the simplified version is. We have loads of social instincts that evolution has programmed into our brains, and many of them manifest themselves as ideas of right and wrong. We then build on those both rationally and irrationally, depending upon the person. This is supposed to be on the level of “vague synopsis” rather than “complete explanation” btw.

145. Leon Wolfeson

@143 – No, not interested in your sophistry, interested in what you have called for.

Of course you hate compassion. Next!

@140/141 – Ah yes, sockpuppets spouting hatred. How unsurprising. Typical of Galloway’s supporters.

146. Chaise Guevara

@ 145 Leon

“No, not interested in your sophistry, interested in what you have called for.”

I suppose if I asked what you think I’ve “called for”, you’d be incapable of answering the question as per usual?

“Of course you hate compassion. Next!”

Sigh. I don’t hate compassion, I hold it as pretty much the most beautiful of human virtues. But, true to form, this is a totally random accusation by you – once again you can’t even justify your bizarre attacks, you just repeat them and add new ones to avoid admitting that you’re making shit up as you go.

By all means prove me wrong…

147. Samir S. Halabi

George Galloway should have been considered a traitor to this country.
In his own words to the tyrant Saddam Hussein of Iraq. Sir I salute your courage and integrity.
George Galloway won an election in Bradford on the Muslim ticket. He just had to mention the Palestinian magic word aswell as Jerusalem must be emptied of Jews
and returned to the palestinians as their eternal capital and he has those Jew-hating vermin eating out of his hands.


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  48. Gracie Samuels

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