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New translation, the Magna Carta
article archives at abelard's news and comment zonepolitics archive: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

on fabricating history for political ends

On politically motivated exaggerations of the murder of aboriginals in Australia.

The link is a review of a newly released book:
The Fabrication of Aboriginal History
, Volume 1: Van Diemen’s Land 1803-1847
by Keith Windschuttle,
November 2002, $49.95 hbk, Macleay Press ( Paddington NSW) 1876492058

Here is an item from Keith Windschuttle. A reply to this article from one of the prime sources this author is attacking is promised immediately, at the same publication.

Links to several articles on the subject can be found here.

This article is relevant to the use of history for political ends in the USA. The article also refers to an interesting resource spawned by the growing information system which is the net. At this resource, students comment on bullying tactics and on the use by lecturers (they call lecturers ‘professors’ in the States!) of the classroom as a platform to forward a political agenda.

More can be found on similar behaviours by Irving at Did Hitler know about the holocaust? A psychological assessment.

[lead from Limbic]

The web address for this article is









major report from unfpa on poverty and birth control

This report outlines the inexorable links between poverty, disease, lack of education. There are sections on the devastation being wrought by aids and lack of knowledge of birth control.

The report suggests that, to an extent, countries have a one-off shot at climbing out of poverty, as young populations enter the work forces and before the ageing population becomes relatively larger. This is seen as a window of opportunity. The advantages of smaller families are reflected in more resources for children that remain, and in more women being available to enter the work forces.

“The projections of the United Nations Population Division have been strikingly accurate, even over relatively long periods. They suggest that global population will increase to 9.3 billion by 2050. Belying suggestions of a global “birth dearth”, the less-developed regions will add 3.2 billion (going from 4.9 to 8.1 billion) by 2050—the same number as were added between 1950 (when there were only 1.7 billion).”

[The world’s population is currently over 6 billion – ab.]

The web address for this article is

updated 12.12.2002

a useful obit/summary of john rawls who moved on last sunday one GoldenYak [tm] award
This article, as it should/must, contrasts Rawl’s work with that of Nozick (who preceded Rawls earlier this year).

It starts to challenge the belief that Rawls’ ‘behind the veil’ principle, in fact, leads to the conclusions that would have accorded with Rawls’ taste.

The ‘behind the veil’ principle posits that the legislator makes up laws for the good of society while not knowing what position they would end up occupying in that society.

“In trying to illustrate his position, Rawls makes reference to the so-called pie game that had been discussed by the classical 17th-century English political Republican, James Harrington, who used it to defend separation of powers. To get two equal pieces of the pie, one player should cut and the other should choose. In essence, this clever rule of division from behind the veil of ignorance harnesses individual self-interest in the service of a social good. It also shows that Rawls’s position could be of enormous use even to individuals who thought in terms of incentives and consequences, instead of simply in terms of just outcomes. The egoist who cuts can do no better than to make the slices precisely equal, which is the social objective of the game.”

When designing a society from behind the veil, for example, it is unclear that any rational person would choose to live in an extremely poor society where they had the median income, rather than in a very wealthy society where they had the very lowest income.

The summary covers the bases that are relevant, even though it is slightly smudgily written. Perhaps the magazine could have given the author a bit more space.

a further useful article on rawls

“Since the death of John Rawls last week at the age of 82, many eulogistic pieces have appeared in the press hailing him as the greatest political philosopher of his time. Virtually all of them cited Rawls’ two criteria for a just society, as derived in his 1971 book A Theory of Justice:
1) Each person should have the most extensive array of liberties compatible with a like liberty for all; and
2) economic inequalities are justified only if they benefit the worst-off members of society.”

G.A. Cohen questions Rawls’s second criterion that claims inequalities are justified only if needed to improve the lot of the worst off; for example by giving the talented an incentive to create wealth. Cohen objects that this principle cannot justify inequality, saying that if talented people reject the principle, their society is not just. Accepting the principle, on the other hand, gives them no justification for earning more: nothing insists that they make higher income their incentive—they can simply choose not to work for less or to do less work. (Of course, refusing to work still leaves the dilemmas that theoretical academics generate for themselves unapproached; such is the vacuity of detached ‘idealism’. These problems often stem from an underlying taste for puritanism and commitment to ‘work’ for the sake of work.)

Rawls’ second criterion is sometimes referred to as the ‘difference principle’, but perhaps it should be called the anti-difference principle. Despite Rawls’ attempts at an appearance of academic objectivity, he was in fact forced back over many years from a strong emotional attachment to ‘equality’. His emotional attachment to this ‘principle’ led him to a view that all differences in well-being should be removed if such removal did not lead to the further impoverishment of the least well-off. This ‘principle’ seemed to grow from his strong concern with the chance element involved in the original position in life in which individuals found themselves. This concern can also be traced in his ‘behind the veil’ method.

While the ‘philosophical’ approach of Rawls may be of some use in thinking about, or in discussing, human societies, its inherent generalised structure does, in my view, have the potential to lead to screwball, or even dangerous, ends.

I regard the standard paradigm (as used be academics and philosophers like Rawls), which attempts to apply crude generalisations to human behaviour, as inherently dangerous to human freedom. My wide-ranging attack on the standard paradigm can be seen written up, in much detail, all over this web-site.

Rawls attempts to generalise rights. I take an inverse view that there must be a pressing cause for restricting the freedom of any individual. In other words, the position of one person in society has no necessary bearing on the position of another. For much more detail, see the logic of ethics and power, ownership and freedom.

‘principles’ are too often an excuse for lazy-mindedness.

Nozick also attacked Rawls on the grounds that his two principles were in conflict. Nozick was far more subtle and realistic than Rawls, thus he had a highly developed sense of humour. The article referenced below is interesting of itself as a tongue in cheek attack on shallow pomposity among ‘academics’. You might wonder while reading it where his targets lay!

The article also well illustrates the example-based exposition that is near universal among competent practitioners and teachers, while simultaneously showing much of the heart of Nozick’s approach.

At the heart of Nozick’s thinking was the realisation that any number of outcomes could be regarded as arising from ‘just’ systems and that ‘just’ outcomes were not necessarily likely to be regarded as ‘fair’; either in the sense of ‘equalising’ outcomes or in the sense of according with any particular theory of ‘merit’. By just , Nozick tended to mean a system of laws rather than a Hobbesian war of all against all; whereas for Rawls, ‘equality’ and ‘fair’ tend to be treated as synonyms.

The article is from 4 years before his death at the young age of 63. We find him at the height of his powers.

Why Do Intellectuals Oppose Capitalism?

“By intellectuals, I do not mean all people of intelligence or of a certain level of education, but those who, in their vocation, deal with ideas as expressed in words, shaping the word flow others receive. These wordsmiths include poets, novelists, literary critics, newspaper and magazine journalists, and many professors.”

“The schools, too, exhibited and thereby taught the principle of reward in accordance with (intellectual) merit. To the intellectually meritorious went the praise, the teacher's smiles, and the highest grades. In the currency the schools had to offer, the smartest constituted the upper class. Though not part of the official curricula, in the schools the intellectuals learned the lessons of their own greater value in comparison with the others, and of how this greater value entitled them to greater rewards.

“The wider market society, however, taught a different lesson. There the greatest rewards did not go to the verbally brightest. There the intellectual skills were not most highly valued. Schooled in the lesson that they were most valuable, the most deserving of reward, the most entitled to reward, how could the intellectuals, by and large, fail to resent the capitalist society which deprived them of the just deserts to which their superiority “entitled” them? Is it surprising that what the schooled intellectuals felt for capitalist society was a deep and sullen animus that, although clothed with various publicly appropriate reasons, continued even when those particular reasons were shown to be inadequate?”

 two GoldenYak (tm) award     A Theory of Justice by John Rawls
 from $24 (
revised 1999, Belknap Press, 0674000781 pbk
from £12.99 (
1999, Oxford University Press, 019825055X pbk

the web address for this article is

last updated

tobacco tax and health spending

“The unprecedented legal move by the tobacco industry to pay $206 billion to 46 states over 25 years to compensate them for smoking-related health costs.”

This amounts to a specific tax on smoking. I think that it is meant to be hypothicated (an informed comment from a reader would be helpful).

However, various lung cancer campaigners are suggesting that the states with high lung cancer problems are diverting much of the fund for other spending.

Of course, lung cancer is just one of the rash of diseases caused by smoking, but it is highly correlated and largely specific to smokers. Therefore, it can be regarded as a surrogate for smoking.

Some tables of spend rates can be accessed from here.

the web address for this article is


in three parts....
the return of barbarism ... 1 three GoldenYak (tm) award
the return of barbarism ... 2
the return of barbarism ... 3

“In the ongoing encounters between steppe nomads and settled, agricultural societies, the nomads’ perennial advantage lay precisely in their primitivism. With only the crudest division of labor, virtually every man in the horde could be mobilized as a warrior. And with no fixed investments in farms or cities, the nomads could outmaneuver their opponents and then concentrate force with lethal effect. Civilization's rootedness, the fountainhead of all its accomplishments, was likewise its Achilles’ heel.”

“To put the matter as simply as possible, all the wonderful material blessings that we in the West enjoy rest ultimately on the amazing extent to which we are able to trust each other. Terrorism strives to shatter that trust.”

related material
Carnage and culture: Landmark battles in the rise of Western power


the web address for this article is



related material
Carnage and culture: Landmark battles in the rise of Western power

A substantial and useful summary of what we know about school choice
The results of school choice by parents instead of government bureaucrats.....
Unions and bureaucrats are doing everything they can to resist experimentation in school choice, clearly fearful of the probable results. The results of school choice threaten to remove the stranglehold of governments on school systems and, thus, to increase civil liberties while reducing bureaucratic power. Researchers are, step by step, forcing the information out, including by the use of imaginative research designs. For example, Hoxby (mentioned in the review) has used, as a proxy for intended choice, an economic analysis of the effect on housing prices in areas where more effective schools are located, in conurbations where a variety of school boards operate.

“Reviewing the recent evidence on the effects of school choice leaves us with a few basic conclusions. First, all seven random-assignment studies and all three nonrandom-assignment studies found important benefits for the families that participate in choice programs. Second, choice does not appear to "cream" the best students. In all studies of existing choice programs, the evidence shows that participants have very low family incomes, predominantly come from single-mother households, and have prior record of low academic performance. Third, the existing choice programs are not large enough nor have they operated long enough to address definitively the effects, positive or negative, on the public school system. However, the results from the A-Plus program in Florida suggest that the prospect of vouchers may induce public schools to improve. And Caroline Minter Hoxby’s work finds that metropolitan areas with more choices available have significantly better outcomes at lower cost, and my work on the Education Freedom Index finds that states that offer more choices to parents enjoy higher student achievement. From these studies, we can conclude that choice is likely to improve public schools. Finally, private schools are more likely to be integrated and to promote civic virtues like tolerance than public schools.”
[, summer 2001]

the web address for this article is


socialism is alive and well in the USA....
After six years of GOP control [Grand Old Party – the Republicans], the average Republican district in 2000 was getting $612 million more in federal money than the average Democratic district, the computer analysis found. In 1995, the last year Democrats controlled the budget process in the House, the average Democratic district got $35 million more than Republican districts.

The GOP, it seems, is every bit as bent on redistributing income as the Democrats; the only difference is that while Democrats want to redistribute income downward, to the poor, Republicans want to redistribute it upward, to the rich.

see also
the rich and the very rich in America

democracy US style...
Nearly one in eight American men has been convicted of a felony and thus, in many states, has been automatically deprived of numerous rights, including the right to vote. The result is a society that, statistically at least, is beginning to look a little like early Australia.

the web address for this article is


Brilliant new review, by James Hammerton, of the attack on civil liberties in the UK.

the web address for this article is


dependence on the UK government to rise from 25% to 43%

Think the British live in a free country?
Think the British live under the rule of ‘law’?
Just think again—

Did you even guess that 25% of the UK population is dependent on means-tested handouts from the government?
Well, the Labour government intends to raise that percentage to 43%. [Economist, 01.08.02]
They steal your money, and then dole some of it back to you.

How to control the population—

  • make them dependent upon your good will;
  • disarm them so that they cannot defend themselves;
  • remove the rule of law so that government can rule by edict and by accusation.

You imagine for one moment that this is exaggeration?

Are the British being set up for dictatorship?

the web address for this article is


oxfam report on globalisation—“rigged rules and double standards.....”

The executive summary of this report
It is better read from p.6 (8th page of the pdf file). Before that is all waffle and puff.

The index to the full report is here.

The accusation is:
“In their rhetoric, governments of rich countries constantly stress their commitment to poverty reduction. Yet in practice rigged rules and double standards lock poor people out of the benefits of trade, closing the door to an escape route from poverty. For example:

“Rich countries spend $1bn every day on agricultural subsidies. The resulting surpluses are dumped on world markets [...]

“When developing countries export to rich-country markets, they face tariff barriers that are four times higher than those encountered by rich countries. ”

be warned....their so-called ‘double standards index’ (DSI) is under severe criticism.

Their crude DSI table can be found near the end of this pdf document.
This last document is advised reading for those interested in the predatory practices of large corporations and their client Western governments.


growing attempts of large corporations to kill competition on the web

article page 1
and page 2

(n.b. deep linking means not going through the home page. These people are crazy!)

and ....
increasing privacy intrusion by multinationals....
as the corporations buy the politicians.

Next the corporations will probably seek direct rule.

interference in your rights over your own dvd machines..... [Independent, 29.07.02]

MS has released a patch for an apparently longstanding security concern with MS player. However, on reading this patch's licence agreement, one finds that while the security hole is being plugged, Microsoft is also installing a trojan horse program affecting its digital-rights management protocols.

“XP is already laden with this sort of architecture.” [Sydney Morning Herald, 16.07.02]

Hollywood licence to hack. [ BBCNews, 26.07.02]


Just published, one of the most important yearly data reports
The Human Development Report 2002 from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
This year’s theme is ‘the state of democracy’.

Other important reports are listed at recommended reading.


long essay by Peter Lilley (ex-Tory minister) on the attack on civil liberties by the UK government.
[pdf doc – 47 pages, large print]

Still more on the subject available at


How far is the attack on civil liberties, which authorities claim to follow from the attacks of 11 September, a genuine response to the threat and how much are the attacks being used as an excuse really aimed at increasing state control of its citizenry? In order to come to any judgement, it is important to appreciate the prior steady erosion of civil liberties, based on a whole variety of dubious excuses.

A growing record of UK government attacks on liberty in recent years may be found at MagnaCartaPlus.

This useful article by a security expert strongly questions the relevance and effectiveness of government actions.

The following article suggests that much claimed security would go down better in Fred Karno’s Circus:

stop that nun! [The Spectator, 01.06.2002]

This is commentary on political correctness and 11 September 2001.

The article includes increasing alleged data on the amount known to the FBI and FAA before the Twin Towers mess. It also includes the statement that 80% of the Guantanamo detainees are Saudis.

Note: this statement contained therein is effectively false: “In 1972, the world’s total proven oil reserves added up to 550 billion barrels; today, a single deposit of Alberta’s tar shales contains more than that.”
This fact was known decades before 1972, nor is it mentioned that extraction costs are far higher than for Saudi oil.

This article was brought to my attention by Bill Wills.

An outline of the next stage of this ever increasing government intrusion into the lives of its citizens. The UK government is planning to rush through undebated a snooper’s bill allowing every local bureaucrat to access vast amounts of personal data on any member of the population. Perhaps the bill should be called the blackmailer’s charter?

This report on the tracing and interrogation of Al Qaeda operatives is offered as a means of judging how useful the proposed new government blackmailer’s charter would be on the ground.


This article indicates the vast increases in state power being initiated in Europe in the wake of the terror difficulties:

Big Brother... [Sydney Morning Herald, 31.05.2002]


the rich and the very rich in America

article giving some too little known facts on the rich....
example quote “In 1979, the last year of Jimmy Carter and punitive tax rates, the top 20 percent of Americans paid 57 percent of all the taxes. In 1997, with far lower taxes and after a period of liberalized markets, the top 20 percent paid some 65 percent of all taxes.”
(thanks to the new limbic blog for this link.)

Also see
the slate list of the 59 largest donors in the usa in 2001

some comment on the slate list can be found here:
America’s biggest philanthropists: what they support and why


Interesting (and not too long) summary of land ownership in Britain

but does it matter?
if so, then why?

what, if anything, ‘should’ be done about it?

(thanks to Maria for bringing this summary to my attention.)


computer simulations of societies, using simple rules
This article explicates and expands upon this next article
modelling societies.
I think those of a non-‘logical’/‘mathematical’/‘philosophical’ bent may be better tackling the articles in the order above, that is the reverse order to which they were published.
Those who are more sophisticated in ‘logical’/‘mathematical’/‘philosophical’ matters should probably keep to the original order, i.e. the second link first.

The message of these articles dovetails closely with the logical analytic approach that I am attempting to get people to understand throughout the site. This message is in the tradition of Adam Smith. The articles help to indicate the fundamental reasoning flaws in collectivist ‘thinking’. It is through this route that Hayek comes to his Road to Serfdom master work. These flaws are part of the empirical/pragmatic reasons why neither socialism nor dictatorship have any useful intellectual foundations in reality. The flaws are also at the heart of why writers like Keynes express such intellectual contempt for socialism, and with full cause. You will find several related links at Useful links on

Hayek, F.A.    The Road to Serfdom
pbk: (1994, Univ of Chicago Pr,0226320618) $9.48 [] {advert}
        (Routledge/Taylor & Francis Books, 0415253896) £9.99 [] {advert}

Adam Smith    The Wealth of Nations : An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes
hbk: (1994, Modern Library, 0679424733) $17.47 [] {advert}
        (1991, Everyman Library, 1857150112) £9.34 [] {advert}
pbk: with notes (2000, Princeton Review, 0679783369) $10.47 [] {advert}

        (1998, Oxford Paperbacks 0192835467) £6.39 [] {advert}

interesting, rather world weary, article on chavez

the problem with ‘democracy’ with universal franchise in widely uneducated societies; that is, societies like the UK and the USAJ


latest: 22.30 Sunday 21.04.2002—Jospin eliminated
and will retire from political life after the second round of the Presidentials on 5th May.
latest: 20.00 Sunday 21.04.2002—Jospin eliminated
estimates: Chirac 20%, Le Pen 17%, Jospin 16%

the french sixteen horse race....
well, i think it is fun.
if they handicapped them and introduced betting it’d get seriously popular.

Arlette Laguiller, 62.
Lives in a 13th-floor two-room council flat and never had children because they would be a bourgeois distraction.

interesting to see the number quietly seething against the EU....

a (un-)merry band of lefties and other would-be great dictators....

in a few short hours (or long ones)....
they’re off !

to regular-sized image of French presidential election posters
‘small image’
27 seconds
standard download

Elections—French style
Fascist Le Pen wants to withdraw from EMU and re-establish the French franc. He is polling (3rd) around 13% at present; Chirac 20%, Jospin 18%.

In every village, there are posters on special frames for each one of the 16 candidates. Thus far, I have seen the attempted rip down and defacement of only the posters of Chirac and Le Pen.

Four of the posters are all words. I asked my translator whether I guessed correctly that those are the commie and trot posters (other than trot jospin). I am dee-lighted to report that I was 100% correct. The mantra-ridden and ill-mannered left never changes.

The poster displays are standardised by law, every village has to put them up, every candidate has the same size space, the order is the same everywhere, I think chosen by ballot.

The web address for this article is

to full-size image of French presidential election posters
full-sized image
193 seconds
standard download

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