“When someone is honestly 55% right, that’s very good and there’s no use wrangling. And if someone is 60% right, it’s wonderful, it’s great luck, and let him thank God. But what’s to be said about 75% right? Wise people say this is suspicious. Well, and what about 100% right? Whoever says he’s 100% right is a fanatic, a thug, and the worst kind of rascal.” An Old Jew of Galicia, quoted by Czeslaw Milosz in The Captive Mind (1953)

Watching the government’s goalposts for lifting lockdown is like watching skaters on an ice rink: look away for a moment, and when you turn back, everyone, everything, is in a different place. How many times have we been told when this happens, or that target is met, then the rules can be relaxed? The grossest example is of course the arrival of the vaccine cavalry, that would liberate us from lockdown hell. But here we are, over two months after the cavalry arrived, still locked down nice’n’tight. Only this week, the government introduced Chinese Communist Party style restrictions on international travel, with promises of draconian prison sentences for anyone caught bending the rules, and fines that even some in the police believe are too draconian.

Yet bizzarely, almost half of those polled in the second week January, when we were already in the third national lockdown, thought the measures then in place were not strict enough, with another third of the view that the measures were about right (see image above). Less than ten percent thought the measures were too strict. That’s less than ten percent ‘tolling for the aching whose wounds cannot be nursed, for the countless confused, accused, misused, strung-out ones and worse’. Where there should be chimes of freedom, we have instead Plague Island, an abominable inversion of Donne’s vision, where clods do be washed away unseen, and no man is part of the main; and no one sends to know for whom the bell tolls, because the bell has long since stopped tolling.

What have we become? Captain Mainwaring’s automatons ruled by a lunatic who looks like a clown? Or worse? Perry and Croft, Dad’s Army’s scriptwriters, were poking fun at Nazidom, but we now find that this diagnosis of the German problem now fits rather closer to home. That January poll again: another way of describing the results is to say that more than four out of five of those polled are willing automatons, content to be ruled by a lunatic who looks like a clown; and, what’s more, two thirds of those willing automatons want further restrictions. Over the course of a few short months last year, the United Kingdom has shown itself to be united not in glorious purpose, but in a grim determination to turn itself into an authoritarian state.

The definition of an authoritarian state varies from source to source. If we distil out the essential elements, we find something close to an Oxford dictionary definition, which has it that the common feature of authoritarian states is the enforcement of obedience to a central authority, at the expense of personal freedoms, rule of law and other constitutional values and principles. Dr No has added an essential comma, after authority; and if we compare the United Kingdom today to that description of what makes a authoritarian state, we find a perfect match. We live in an authoritarian state. But how did we get there?

It was a combination of two things. The first was a classic insider coup, only it wasn’t the generals who took charge, it was the modellers and behavioural scientists advising government. Control freaks every man Jack and girl Jill of them, early last year they looked longingly halfway round the globe at China, at policies unattainable here… or were they? ‘It’s a communist one party state, we said. We couldn’t get away with it in Europe, we thought,’ Ferguson recalled in December last year, ‘and then Italy did it. And we realised we could.’ The Overton window, which Dr No learnt about from a comment on a previous post, hadn’t just moved on a peg, it had in one movement pinged all the way to the authoritarian end of the scale.

But realising they could do it was only half of the two bit jigsaw. To make it happen, the government needed something else, the handmaiden of all authoritarian states, the identification and vilification of a common threat to the people. In the very early days, the novel coronavirus fitted the bill perfectly. But humans are strange creatures that need but the slightest prod to hate their own kind. Before long we became a nation divided, between lockdown fanatics and lockdown sceptics, between mask fanatics and mask sceptics, between the majority automatons and the minority resistance.

Before long, the fanatical majority bore down ever harder on the sceptic minority, and as it did so became ever more confident of its own certainties. The more they projected their contempt and hatred on the sceptics, the more confident they became in their own certainty, that they were 100% right, and so the more they became Milosz’s fanatics and thugs. As they came to internalise their certainty, they came to know that they were 100% right, and that could only mean one thing, the sceptics were 100% wrong. Even worse, the sceptics are dangerous, and must be eliminated, as vermin that threaten to damage the very fabric of safety woven so artlessly around the fanatical majority. 

On this fertile ground authoritarianism grows. One the seeds of obedience to a central authority, at the expense of personal freedoms, rule of law and other constitutional values and principles take root, they grow hard and fast. What was once alien becomes ever more familiar, and so ever more normal. What would have struck us as utterly bizarre only eighteen months ago becomes — through a process Milosz describes as both stupefying and loathsome — so familiar, so normal, so everyday, that it seems entirely natural. Authoritarianism has achieved its goal, of embedding itself so completely that it now seems it and only it is the natural order. Why else would the illuminated motorway gantries have replaced 6 Minutes to Junction 5 with Stay Home Save Lives?

That is how we descended from a democratic state, with respect for the rule of law, and other constitutional values and principles, into the pit of the baleful authoritarian state we find ourselves in today. That much, at least, is clear to Dr No. What is far less clear is how we extract ourselves from this stupefying, loathsome and alien state.

Comments

  1. Thomas Reply

    “What is far less clear is how we extract ourselves from this stupefying, loathsome and alien state.”

    Emigration, I begin to fear.

  2. dr-no Reply

    By coincidence, Dr No has just been reading a couple of threads on DNUK (a doctors only forum) about shite jobs, one a consultant in general medicine, the other a salaried GP, and the common theme was authoritarian management bullying, so medicine echoing the theme of this post, and many of the replies to the OPs suggested emigration, with (as is often the case) New Zealand and Australia mentioned as possible destinations. The thing is, both of those countries are, if the dispatches from abroad are to be believed, even more authoritarian than we are. Emigration really does risk jumping from the frying pan into the fire. So Dr No comes back to: how do we extract ourselves from this mess, by changing things here at home (which might even have ripple effects elsewhere)?

    • Thomas Reply

      I agree ideally we need to sort it out here, but I’m at a loss as to how: the courts are uninterested and happy to take the health secretary at his word that all these measures are required.

      Parliament, save a couple of dozen right wing Tories, is if anything in favour of more restrictions, they are uninterested in questioning the government, or holding it to account.

      The government has forbidden the traditional recourse of the people at this point; protest – and have happily deployed an even happier police against those who deign to show their public displeasure by political protest.

      I am every day reminded of the prescient wisdom of CS Lewis, I am sure you know the quote:

      “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience”

      Maybe the answer is to move to a robber baron state.

      • dr-no Reply

        Thomas – indeed. What you describe very well is the implosion of a democratic state, which implodes from within. Thanks too for the quote from C S Lewis, which Dr No had not seen before. Spot on, and full on insight, especially the closing “those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience”. The Milk Curdler springs to mind…

        • Thomas Reply

          Of all the restrictions, the implication of the effective ban on protest throughout is probably the most chilling; the only reason can be that the government are genuinely scared that protest will encourage protest, and the whole thing fall down because of that (as in Holland). There is little in the way of compelling medical reasons – it’s not obvious that outdoor transmission is enough of a threat.

  3. dr-no Reply

    Kim – the numbers always are ridiculously small in these polls but the pollsters (in this case Ipsos Mori) will insist their samples are representative.

  4. Tom Welsh Reply

    As I keep harping on, the solution is to fire all the managers. (Unlike the character in Shakespeare’s Henry VI Part II in regard to lawyers, we wouldn’t necessarily have to kill them).

    The NHS, like most other parts of Western society, is prostrate with a frightful attack of administritis. We need to go back to actually doing useful things, instead of letting so many people spend their highly-paid days telling other people (who know much more than they do) what to do and what not to do.

  5. dr-no Reply

    Tom – the management rot started with the Tories, specifically Hacksaw and Batman, in the late 1980s. The Tories hated the idea of an autonomous profession that just consumed public money, so they reinvented medicine as an industry, and started telling the industry what to do – in other words, they started managing it. It went downhill from there, with Labour also inflicting hideous management solutions on the NHS. Dr No thinks this was probably part of a broader social change – that everything and everybody must be managed, and there have been linked changes. Revalidation (another form of management control) for doctors was going to happen, Shipman just provided a useful peg to hang it on. The massive reform, or rather ruining, of medical education known as MMC (Managing Medical Careers, or, as it was known in some parishes, Mangling Medical Careers) took a largely free-form career path, where we strove to be the best we could, and turned it into a prescribed management tick box exercise. Instead of ticking off say twenty forceps deliveries (the MMC way), Dr No, in the pre-MMC days, would do as many forceps deliveries as he could (maybe sixty or seventy), learning all the time, and that was the point, to learn, not to tick boxes.

    There is absolutely no doubt in Dr No’s mind that the best common good is achieved by giving doctors a very free reign. Yes, you may end up with a few more duds, but you will also have far more good doctors than any managed solution will provide, with its mediocre one size fits all robodocs. That said, Dr No has to add that over the last few weeks he has had exemplary care from the NHS, as he did eighteen months ago, though that episode did contain within it a management driven blip which Dr No had to correct (he appreciates he is of course a ‘skilled patient’ being a doctor, and so knows how the NHS works, and can use that to his advantage). There are still good doctors, but they swim in a treacle tide going the other way, and far too many burn out and give up, to the greater loss for us all.

    Likewise, revalidation was a colossal mistake, because it removed the moral and professional compass from an internal locus in the doctor, and handed it to a government management quango, the GMC. The whole of safetyism is predicated on this belief: that the individual cannot possibly be trusted to take care of risk themselves, and must instead be managed into safety. The whole freaking covid industry is based on this premise, that we couldn’t possibly be trusted to take care of covid risk ourselves, and must instead be micro-managed to ‘keep everyone safe’.

    In summary, Dr No suggests over-management in the NHS is part of a wider social malaise, which is the view that everything and everyone must be managed. Or to put it another way, autonomous professions are not in the Overton window. So what we need to do is move the much broader whole society Overton window, to a point where the folly of solving everything by more management is seen as the folly it is.

    Now here’s an intriguing – at least to Dr No – question. Most readers of this blog will know that traditionally GPs have been independent contractors, that is, they are private businesses that contract with the NHS to provide GP services, and so to that extent a huge part of the NHS has always been privately provided. And yet, for much of the NHS’s history, general practise has by and large jogged along just fine, seen by the public as, and itself behaving as, the NHS, and the idea that large for-profit American managed care corporations could, let alone should, buy up swathes of practices was unthinkable. And yet, today that is exactly what is happening (with the latest Tory NHS White Paper removing as many obstacles to the process as possible), thus ensuring yet more management interference. Why? Cui bono?

    • Tom Welsh Reply

      The nice thing about the idea that “everything must be managed” – from the manager’s point of view, anyway – is that there are unlimited jobs for the boys and girls. And you don’t need to be particularly clever, well-educated, hard-working, or even knowledgeable to be a manager. There is an assumed built-in asymmetry by which any manager is fully entitled to criticise (and sometimes compel or punish) any actual worker, while being utterly immune to criticism himself. In fact, this is the running gag at the heart of “Dilbert”, which has been immensely popular worldwide for 25 years. Long ago Scott Adams started to rely on true stories sent in by his readers – they provide an endless source of amazing cartoon strips once he has polished them up with a veneer of dark humour.

      The qualifications for being a manager are simple: you must like to be looked up to, obeyed, and free to order others around; you must have an aversion to real work; and you absolutely must be good at bluffing, sucking up, and “networking”. Strangely enough, this proposition turns out to be very attractive to more and more good-for-nothings. (There are excellent managers, some of whom I have known; to be a really good manager is one of the toughest jobs known to humanity).

      The first company I worked for made small business computers, mainly for the City. Its MD was an affable chap who would maintain to anyone, over a series of double whiskies, that management was an art in itself. A good manager could manage anything, and needed no specialist knowledge to do so. Two years later the firm went out of business because the MD did not understand that committing to deliver custom software to any and all customers was a form of suicide. (Such projects tend to be open-ended money pits).

      If somehow we could round up all the mediocre (and worse) managers and administrators and get real workers to do their jobs in their spare time, we would save untold billions and perhaps acquire a large labour force for unskilled work.

      • Tom Welsh Reply

        As often happens, shortly after posting the previous comment I came across something that reinforces it. From Dr Albert Louis in Australia:

        “I found modern medical clinics in Australia to be like workhouses, where the doctors are consumed with input and output of patients. The only thing that the practice owners care about is a throughput of patients to give an indecent profit.

        “So doctors effectively become part of a cattle market that accepts as many patients as possible to be treated with a preset path of investigations, drugs, and referrals, and are quickly released. Beyond that, the doctors must also have good marks on social media to make sure that the patients return.

        “This medical meat market lacks the previous dedication of the medical profession to treating or caring about patients. It seems that, the whole system has become so computerized and automated that it has become the “fast-food” modernization of medicine.

        “Apparently, there is no such thing as medical practice in the absolute sense anymore. Caring goes out of the window. Nowadays, a patient arrives, and it’s in and out within five minutes, and all the patient gets is a drug – often an antidepressant!”

        https://www.lewrockwell.com/2021/02/no_author/my-expulsion-from-medical-practice/

  6. dr-no Reply

    There’s an interesting paper IEA (right wing, free market think tank) paper here which compares covid outcomes for different health care models (funding, provision) and sort of concludes (it is not in fact the primary thrust of the paper, which is not entirely clear, but appears to be something to do with debunking covid confirmation bias) none have won, and none shall have prizes (“The ‘big story’ of this paper, then, is that there is no ‘big story’ to be told here.”) The author while congratulating the Asian Tigers on better outcomes also rather skips round the intrusive methods used by the Asian Tigers, by making the possibly absurd claim that the subjects in the Asian Tiger countries had more freedom because they had less freedom. Ahem.

  7. Denis Palgrave Reply

    I have today received a letter from the NHS informing me that I am on the Shielded Patient List.
    The letter opens:
    “We are writing to you because new research commissioned by the Chief Medical Officer has recently enabled us to identify people who may be at increased risk of becoming seriously unwell from coronavirus. This is because of a combination of their individual characteristics and their underlying health conditions.”

    I have never considered myself to be particularly at risk. I am 69, have no underlying conditions apart from Coeliac disease, my BMI is 22, I cycle, cultivate a large allotment and work as a volunteer doing strenuous countryside management work. I stopped smoking 42 years ago and I drink less than a bottle of wine a week. I have never been advised at any previous time during the pandemic that I should take special precautions.
    The letter rambles on giving obscure reasons as to why new research and modelling has meant that the government now considers me to be at risk. Links are provided to give further detail to justify thus decision, but these are so verbose and full of confusing and conflicting information that is impossible to fathom out why I am suddenly in need of shielding.
    The letter contains the phrase “An extra cautious approach has been taken, so there is a chance that your risk is lower than estimated”.
    The linked website also uses similar phraseology on a number of occasions.
    What I see is that we have the ‘better safe than sorry’ syndrome. In effect, lock up most people just in case something night happen. I wonder whether I ought to give up driving and cycling, both carry some risk.
    I am in the latter stages of my life; I would like to enjoy the time I have left, not cower away indoors bombarded by scaremongering propaganda from an inept totalitarian government ruling by fear.

    • DevonshireDozer Reply

      I think I see why they’ve marked your card.

      a) Flag No. 1 – You don’t smoke. Try sucking on a packet or two of fags. When I last looked, (about a year ago now), it seemed that smokers were actually *under-represented* amongst those going down with covid.

      b) Flag No. 2 – You’re not drinking enough alcohol. Tickle up the old bloodstream with a bit more booze. The units/week thing was plucked out of thin air – there’s no real science behind it.

      What could be more enjoyable at our age than sitting back on an allotment, surveying your handiwork & bibbing on a glass of Australian Shiraz whilst inhaling the flavour of a fine Virginia tobacco? Later, you can work back up to a packet of Navy Cut or Capstan Full strength & some of Lidl’s best sippin’ whisky. It works for me; apart from providing some small measure of mental respite from the insane world we’re living in, it helps keep the mozzies away.

      Best

      DevonshireDozer

  8. JonBe Reply

    Hello Dr No,

    You write :
    « What is far less clear is how we extract ourselves from this stupefying, loathsome and alien state »

    It-s a excellent question !
    Similar problematic in France, in lots of fields, include Medical system.
    Ex GP, I change my way cause of the dangerous & crazy P4P system and because I cannot manage (not alone 🙂 to slow down this dangerous pathway.

    Some sources in link with your topic that may interest you :
    (Un)witting Servitude and Minds Manipulation
    https://margaretwheatley.com/books-products/books/leadership-new-science/
    https://margaretwheatley.com/books-products/books/simpler-way/
    https://www.rebelsatwork.com

    Changing as an insider is almost impossible or insignifiant, depressing and a burnout driver.
    Act at a political level tend to generate the paradox of power… :
    https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/power_paradox

    No easy solution, and maybe it’s too late…
    Looking actually at the concept of Ferality and the Mustang’s way of life…

    Five years ago, I wished for my associates and I to develop a kind of local medical Cooperative, independent from the different instances & manufactures, and with collective interest in head. This kind of autonomous local entreprise with the participation of the local citizens could have been an alternative. It seems to work in the agriculture for exemple, but big monopoles have big foot print…

    Other sources in French if you read it. (on demand).

    Best regards

  9. John B Reply

    There is, I think, another piece of the jig-saw: to grow, a seed needs to fall on fertile soil. Post-war the welfare state which started as a safety net, a social institution for better health and well-being of the population, has morphed into a political-ideological social engineering project; a nare with infiltrating tendrils reaching into every detail of life, to make individuals entirely State-dependent. Starting in the 1970s, academia became colonised with Statist-minded, authoritarian left-wingers who taught correct-thought, obedience to the orthodoxy, the wrongfulness of dissent challenge, curiosity.

    The population under age 60 are like well-trained pooches, conditioned since birth to be loyal and obedient to their owner on whom they are dependent for all since they have never known a time of self-reliance, self-responsibility or going without.

    On a non-related topic. CoVid – all the data shows it leaves young and middle age almost alone concentrating on the above 65 age group, mostly over 75 with fatalities largely at average age 80.

    But looking at EUROMOMO all cause mortality, England shows extreme excess mortality in the 14 to 44 age group during the epidemic and Winter encore, whereas other Countries in Europe (and the other 3 UK nations) are within normal. Similarly the 0 to 14 and 44 to 65 age groups in England are at odds with elsewhere.

    Since the recorded deaths data shows very low numbers among young and middle aged, what has caused the excess deaths last Spring and this Winter? The Govt daily death-parade looks like it is assigning most of these excess deaths to CoVid, but if they really are, why is England unique both on the island of Britain and in Europe? And if most of those excess deaths really are not CoVid… what are they?

    Any ideas anyone?

    https://www.euromomo.eu/graphs-and-maps#z-scores-by-country

  10. dr-no Reply

    Denis – thanks for your candid comment and the insight it gives us into what these letters are like and what it feels like to receive one. Perhaps their next algorithm generated letter will be even more sinister:

    “We are writing to you because new research commissioned by the Chief Medical Officer has recently enabled us to identify people who may be at increased risk of vaccine hesitancy (or prone to engage in high risk behaviours/non-compliance or whatever horror comes to mind). This is because of a combination of their individual characteristics…”

    As you so rightly say decisions about how you spend your later years are your decision, and the state has no business putting pressure on you to give up pretty much everything that makes life worthwhile so that you can ‘stay safe’ and endure every minute of such a living hell.

    JonBe – interesting to have comments from another system, from someone who has been on the inside. It may well be that the internal working differences between countries are not as great as we might imagine, perhaps not that surprisingly, as all governments will want to reduce (public) costs while Big Pharma wants to increase profits (and this unholy pair then leads to managed care).

    JohnB – The EUROMOMO data presentation is distinctly odd, with some of its methodology opaque. Dr No covered some of these points in Apples Cores and Z–Scores including an observation (see Figure 1 in the post) that “For Northern Ireland, (population ~1.8m vs England’s ~56m), EuroMOMO has achieved what months of epic masking up and locking down have failed to achieve: all but total ablation of the pandemic”. Some of this epidemic ablation may occur because using a Z score, which is based on the standard deviation, starts to disintegrate with smaller populations (fuller explanation in paragraph above Figure 1).

    • Denis Palgrave Reply

      After receiving my letter advising me to shield until 31st March, I raised a query with my GP to clarify why I was thought to be at enhanced risk. 6 working days later, a response has been sent:
      “The letters/Emails have been generated due to the new NHS / government algorithm QCovid which identifies a new Clinically Vulnerable cohort, the reason you have been put into that cohort has not been shared so we are unable to advise why you have received this letter. More information can be found on the government and NHS websites. Please follow the guidelines contained in the letter to access your vaccination.”
      Interesting that the original letter advised me to discuss any concerns with my GP, whereupon the GP effectively says “nothing to do with us”.
      I wonder how the GP feels about his role being sidelined by this process. I would ask him, but communication is only allowed via a tortuous unfriendly web based interface, apparently designed to discourage interactions.
      I have ignored the exhortation of the government to hide away from the world.

      • dr-no Reply

        Your GP is likely to be mightily p*ssed off at being sidelined. As a rule, GPs rightly do not like it when others do things to their patients without letting the GP know.

        Once again, the blasted algorithm… When will the government learn? (Probably never.) A google search for ‘government algorithm QCovid’ gets 23,800 hits including this one – women with a history of gestational diabetes got added to the shielding list. Perhaps you could get through to your GP by asking for a pregnancy test, just in case. You could even add that you are keen to follow Matt Hancock’s advice to ‘get a test’! (in case you haven’t seen it, there’s a fuller discussion of ‘get a test’ in the comments on Covid Passports and Killer Ants).

  11. dearieme Reply

    how do we extract ourselves from this mess, by changing things here at home?

    Free the Boris one. Sweep away all those fake “experts” – Gove was right – and tell Boris to return to being the freedom-loving chap that everyone was agreed he was.

    If that requires him to get rid of his hussy, he should do so. Being green and being freedom-loving
    are incompatible.

  12. Janis Reply

    Your blogs always fill me with a kind of joy in the realisation that there are still sane people in the world who are able to share information without the need to exaggerate, or worse, lie or fabricate. Thank you

  13. Tom Welsh Reply

    At the risk of exhausting Dr No’s patience, here is another very interesting and provocative explanation of what we have seen this past year.

    “The World Is Suffering From Mass Delusional Psychosis”
    https://www.lewrockwell.com/2021/02/joseph-mercola/the-world-is-suffering-from-mass-delusional-psychosis/

    Although this article is written by the well-known Dr Mercola, it actually focuses on the professional judgment of psychiatrist and medical legal expert Dr. Mark McDonald.

    We can think of quite a few similar phenomena from history. The Children’s Crusade (or perhaps all the crusades); belief in the Devil, stalking the land to steal people’s souls; Reds under the Bed; the Yellow Peril; and so on.

    In many or most such cases, it must be admitted, things were encouraged and organised by a select few who saw reality very clearly and who pursued their own material interests through the madness of the many.

  14. dr-no Reply

    Tom – rest assured you are a long way from exhausting Dr No’s patience. One of the reasons Dr No prefers a blog to twitter is that it allows longer comments, all anchored to a particular post (twitter is particularly annoying in the way it ensures fragmentation of commentary) so you making proper use of a facility that is intentionally there. Comments here are also of course free of any meddlesome twitter style algorithm that decides what you do and don’t want to see.

    Janis – thank you!

    One quick observation from the last episode of The Investigation, which Dr No has been watching on iplayer, which perfectly sums up the difference between the old pre-covid, pre-safetyist world and the new order where everything is a hazard. The lead detective on the case reveals to a couple his daughter is about to give birth, something which has particular poignancy for the couple. One of the couple replies, ‘Congratulations, you are going to be a grandfather’ – the normal human response. The other asks ‘Is she alright?’ – the risk focused life is full of hazard safetyist approach. Now, how does each of these two very different responses leave the soon to be grandparent feeling? Should we welcome the renewal of life, or fret that it might go wrong? For Dr No, whose first choice of medical career was obstetrics and gynaecology, so he knows about obstetric risk, the answer should, except in obvious and exceptional circumstances, always be the former.

  15. Tom Welsh Reply

    dearieme, I was referring to the widespread popular fear of the “reds”, not the actual verified existence of a handful of spies and traitors. (Of course the “socialist” nations had their own spies and traitors too).

    The Vietnam war was fought on the claim that, if Vietnam “went commie”, the dreaded domino effect would mean that it would be followed by the rest of South-East Asia, Indonesia and India, the Middle East, Africe, Europe and Latin America. Eventually the red tide would arrive in the glorious USA, where the horrid commies would take awy the well-deserved riches of American millionaires to give to wretched undeserving poor people.

    In the event, when the last Americans flew out of Saigon, no other country “went communist”. So over 3 million people had been killed for nothing.

  16. dr-no Reply

    Tom – you probably seen it of already have it on your bookshelf – Dr No certainly does – there is some superb commentary in Clive James’s TV Column in the Observer (4th November 1979) on failed American Imperialism. The place was America, the event Frost interviewing Kissinger. Frost sings his questions as baritone arias, Kissinger replies using “his old trick, or drick, of substituting, or subsdiduding, ‘d’ for ‘t’. His line on Vietnam was familiar. ‘We inherided a dragedy.’…‘Manipulading domesdig affairs of another goundry’, he explained, ‘is always gombligaded.’ It is not just complicated, it is often criminal.” Clive James at the top of his game: Maging a moggery.

    • Tom Welsh Reply

      “…Clive James’s TV Column in the Observer …” used to be the high point of our week, in that ever so long ago time when we still watched TV and read the newspapers.

      I still recall with fondness Clive’s spoof of Michael Caine woodenly declaring, “Here come the killer bees”.

  17. Annie Davenport Turner Reply

    It’s no wonder it all feels ‘too mucking fuch’ now; a large portion of authoritarianism and mass delusional psychosis, with a side of mass hysteria, and a sprinkle of communism to taste, in case….

    Excellent blog post, Dr No, and illuminating comments. I’m enjoying how they’re becoming long conversations these days!

  18. dearieme Reply

    The Vietnamese War was a God-awful error, started by JFK and reinforced by LBJ.

    However, ‘In the event, when the last Americans flew out of Saigon, no other country “went communist”’ is a matter of careful selection of a date. Laos and Cambodia did “go communist”.

    And as for Reds under the Bed, there were enough Reds in the trade unions to do a lot of damage during The War and subsequently. How many there were in the House of Commons and the Media is presumably known to MI5 but not to me.

    I’ve only ever met one Labour chap who was prepared to discuss the matter frankly. He was a Roman Catholic trade unionist who was particularly alert to the problem.

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