Tag: ethics

Essence of wisdom, page two.

Doing the right thing has power.

Thus wrote Laura Leggett Linney.  Maybe Laura doesn’t fit into the same folder as Confucius (she’s well and truly alive for one thing) but the quote was perfect, hence the connection.

Yesterday, I offered an overview of the human brain.  Today I want to expand on the idea of “how we jumble up how we act with what is best for us” as was put in yesterday’s introduction.

In researching for today’s essay, the power of the Internet quickly found the quotation by ex-President Lyndon B. Johnson that “Doing what’s right isn’t the problem. It’s knowing what’s right.”  Reflecting on the escalation of America’s involvement in Vietnam that was a product of LBJ’s term of office, perhaps his quotation carries a certain pathos that wasn’t intended at the time of its pronouncement!  In other words, it’s not the ‘knowing‘ but the ‘doing‘ that is critical, as LBJ’s legacy so clearly illustrated.  Johnson might have better said, “Knowing what’s right is sometimes hard. Doing what’s right is sometimes even harder.

To illustrate the challenge of converting these fine concepts into the grind of daily life, I’m going to use a recent essay published by Ian Welsh.  Ian is a frustrated author who writes about his experiences in completing a book on Prosperity. It struck me as a fabulous insight into the vagaries of homo sapiens and one that lent itself beautifully to what I am trying to convey today.

Ian very promptly gave me written permission to republish his essay on Learning from Dogs.  So what I am going to do is to add my own thoughts to Ian’s essay in a way that hopefully supports the proposition that we are far from being logical creatures.

To know what to do is not enough

by Ian Welsh – January 2nd, 2013

For the past year I’ve been writing a book on prosperity, by which I mean widespread affluence. It’s been slow going, not because I don’t believe I know the general technical requirements of prosperity (I do, if I didn’t, I shouldn’t be wasting anyone’s time, including mine, writing the book), but because the real problem isn’t the technical details like eliminating bottlenecks, or redistributing income, or setting up positive feedback loops, or avoiding fraud, or stopping financialization, or any of the dozens of other subjects I either visit at chapter length or touch on briefly.  The problem as with, say, stopping smoking, isn’t so much what to do, it is how it comes that we do it.  When do we make the decision we’re willing to do what it takes, sufferer the negative consequences of getting to a better place, and then push ourselves through those consequences?

Let’s dally with that phrase, “isn’t so much what to do, it is how it comes that we do it.”  On the 1st January, I published an article called Why?  It included a film by Simon Sinek looking at the Why, How, and What of human decision-making.  The film supports the thesis that those who succeed act, think and do things differently; the crucial point being that spending time on understanding why you do what you do is very revealing.  You can see the resonance between Simon Sinek and Ian Welsh, can’t you?  If we better understand ‘why’ we want to do something, we can better think 0f what is the best way of achieving that.

Back to Ian’s essay.

This is a huge problem in individuals, as the weight loss, addiction, psychology, psychiatry and self-help industries attest.  There is, generally, more money in  not solving a problem, as drug makers with their palliatives understand, than in solving it.  The people who have power and money and influence in the status quo are not sure that in a new world, with a new economy, and the new ethics which must undergird that new economy, they will be on top.  They are right to believe so.  They are creatures of the current world, and in being created, have created the world they are unsteady masters of.  Their ethics and morals, their way of business, of living, of apportioning power and influence and money must go if there is to be widespread affluence.  Their methods have been tried for 40 odd years now, and if measured against the human weal, have failed.  They will not, they cannot adapt, not as a group. They were not selected for the skills it takes to create a new type of affluent society, they have not even been able to maintain the mass affluence of the old society, and not just because they have not wanted to.  They would be a different elite, made up of different people with different ethics, talents and skills if they did want to.

This paragraph is just laden with powerful ideas.

First, the recognition that millions opt for the palliative rather than the cure.  Second, that these same millions live in present times that are controlled undemocratically by plutocrats.  Thirdly, changing to a new, better order is not going to come easily.  Ergo, for the last few decades there has been a massive failure of wisdom.  Applying that failure to millions does not, of course, avoid the charge that each of us, individual by individual, each in our own tiny manner, has contributed to that failure of wisdom.

Ian amplifies this idea, as you will see by reading on.

Ordinary people also have the wrong ethics, the wrong morality.  Much is written about why consumerism is bad, but the ultimate problem of consumerism is not how it makes us feel but that the consumer passively chooses from a menu created by others, not to fill the consumer’s real needs, but to benefit those who created the menu.  Such a passive people cannot understand that choosing choices without creating choices is not choice, it is the illusion of choice.

So while my book has a lot of general principles of the sort which books on prosperity often have, such as about trade, and productivity and technological change, that isn’t the most important part.  The part that matters isn’t about the technical requirements of prosperity, it’s about why and when people do what is required to achieve prosperity, and when they don’t.  And when, having obtained it, they throw it away.

Such a passive people cannot understand that choosing choices without creating choices is not choice, it is the illusion of choice.”  Pick the bones out of that!

On we go.  Going to let you read Ian’s closing four paragraphs as one piece.

Our society is ours.  A tautology, but one we forget too often.  As individuals we often feel powerless, as a mass, we have created our own society.  There are real constraints, physical constraints on what society we can have, based on the resources we have, the technology we have mastered and what we understand about ourselves and our world, but those constraints are not, right now, so tight as to preclude widespread affluence, to preclude prosperity.

They are, however, tight enough to preclude continuing to do the same thing, led by the same sorts of people, and expect anything but decline, repeated disasters and eventual catastrophe.  We can be affluent and prosperous, we can spread that affluence and prosperity to those who do not have it now, but we cannot do it if we insist on keeping the current forms of our economy, including our current forms of consumption.  This does not mean doing with less, it means doing with different things, valuing different things.  Those new values will be better for us, objectively, they will make us both happier and healthier, just as most addicts are happier once they’ve broken their addiction, or rather once they’ve gone through withdrawal and rebuilt their lives.

We can choose not to do so.  We have, in certain respects, already chosen not to do so, as with our refusal to do anything about climate change until it is too late (the two problems are combined, climate change is a subset of the political and economic problems we have).  We can, also, choose to make the necessary changes, not only to avoid the worst catastrophes (disasters are now inevitable, there are consequences to failure, stupidity and greed), but to create an actual, better, world, a world in which the vast majority are healthier, happier and doing work they care about.

The monster facing us, as usual, is us.  The monsters are always us, our brothers and sisters, and the one in the mirror.  And it is those monsters I’ve been wrestling this past year.

Reflect on those three points that I made earlier: how we don’t put the cure as the top priority, how we are dominated by the greed and power of the relatively few, how difficult changing our present society would be.  Not a pretty picture!

Then look at yourself in that mirror, either literally or metaphorically, and say to the face you see peering back at you: “This is my society. Yes, I do feel powerless but I have to embrace the cold, hard truth that I am part of my society and that change will only occur if I subscribe to the new values that I require.

That has real power!

Money and morality

Money must be guided by morality. – A powerful essay courtesy of Resurgence Magazine

(Because the essay, by Satish Kumar, is so well-worth reading, let me postpone my background chit-chat until later!)

Here it is.

If we take care of people and Nature, then the economy will take care of itself.

Money was a clever and convenient invention; it was designed as a means of exchange and a measure of wealth. But somehow that has changed; what was once solely a means to an end has become the end itself, and what was a measure of wealth has become wealth itself.

Take for example agriculture, the purpose of which was to produce nutritious food whilst ensuring that the land remained in good heart for all future generations and for the good health of biotic communities. Agriculture was a way of life that gave farmers their dignity, and in turn they cultivated the crops with tender loving care and considered their work intrinsically good.

Then came money, which changed everything: agriculture turned into agribusiness and the paramount purpose of it became the making of money. Food became a commodity and yet another means of making large profits. As a result British farmers – even those with 2,000 acres of land – cannot make a living, and farm labourers are paid £10 an hour whilst bankers are paid £1,000 an hour.

The example of agriculture turned to agribusiness is only one illustration of how our society has lost sight of right and wrong. We can cut down the rainforest to make money, we can pollute the rivers and over-fish the oceans for profit, we can destroy the local economy in search of cheaper goods, no matter how much CO2 is omitted in the process. The bottom line always comes first. We can hire and fire people at will for the sake of boosting the economy; people have become little more than the instruments of making money. GM crops, nuclear energy, cloning and animal experimentation – nothing is forbidden, just as long as it adds to GDP and increases the share value of corporations and companies.

Ethics, morals and human dignity are all secondary and subservient to the profit margin. Bankrupt bankers have to be bailed out even though we can all see that they and other business leaders are utterly incapable of solving the economic crisis. Politicians and policymakers have to obey their desires. No wonder then that our governments are completely incapable of creating conditions for the stability and wellbeing of people – because all social, political, educational and communal values exist solely to serve economic growth, which simply means growth in money supply, in GDP and in consumption.

As long as we are wedded to this financial paradigm and its money model, the strong will exploit the weak, and our social and environmental fabric (and morals) will continue to fall apart.

The current economic crisis gives us an opportunity to look deeper and examine the consequences of confusing the means with the ends. Money has a place, of course, but we must keep it in its place and not allow it to dominate our lives in such a manner that we lose all our bearings and become its slaves. Money was made to serve people, not the other way around. Unfortunately, we have allowed money to become the master and override all other moral, ethical and ecological values. There is more to life than an endless pursuit of money and profit.

Money is not wealth; real wealth is land, forest, rivers, animals and people. Wealth is created by the imagination, creativity and skill. Bankers and business leaders in search of ever-increasing profit are not the wealth creators; at best they are wealth counters and at worst wealth destroyers. So let’s honour the true wealth creators: skilled workers, architects and artists, craftsmen and women, teachers and doctors, builders and farmers; the economy is safe in their hands. Let us respect the generous Earth and wild Nature, the eternal source of wellbeing and prosperity. If we take care of people and Nature, then the economy will take care of itself.

Some people might say that this is too idealistic; but what have the realists done? They have made a complete mess of the world economy. Normally, we need idealism and realism in equal measure, but for the time being a little extra idealism will be helpful. We have had far too much realism.

Money must be guided by morality. And we are delighted to present this ideal in this issue of Resurgence, the first of a brand-new year.

Satish Kumar is Editor-in-Chief at Resurgence magazine.

with written permission from Resurgence magazine – at the heart of earth, art and spirit
published by The Resurgence Trust, Ford House, Hartland, Bideford, Devon EX39 6EE

oooOOOooo

OK, back to me!

I hope you enjoyed the essay, it certainly jumped off the page, as it were, for me hence my email to Emma Cocker, Picture Researcher & Assistant Editor at Resurgence Magazine which resulted in a very prompt approval for re-publishing on Learning from Dogs.

Satish Kumar

Satish Kumar is an extraordinary person as a dip into his biographical details here will underline.  Please do read about Satish; you will be amazed by his background!  It includes this fact,

During this time, he has been the guiding spirit behind a number of now internationally-respected ecological and educational ventures including Schumacher College in South Devon where he is still a Visiting Fellow.

Schumacher College was well-know to me, 2006 and before, as I lived in the small village of Harberton, just outside Totnes in South Devon, England and Schumacher College at Dartington was less than 5 miles away.  The College description includes,

People from all over the world, of all ages and backgrounds, have been informed, inspired and encouraged to act, by our 20 years of transformative courses for sustainable living.

Then later, this,

It is precisely at this time of global upheaval that we want you to come to the College to share with us the ways in which you are moved to live and act differently.

No wonder that Bill McKibben of 350.org fame and often quoted on this Blog is quoted on the Schumacher website,

Schumacher is a very special place. As we try and figure out what on earth we’re going to do with this unraveling planet, it’s become a thinktank for hope, a battery for positive vision!

Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org

Finally, there are a number of videos presented by Satish that I propose to include in subsequent Posts on Learning from Dogs.

Sold to the Devil, one Soul

The shame of modern foreign policies.

On 12th May 1997 former British Foreign Minister Robin Cook made a famous speech in which he outlined his intention to give Britain’s foreign policy an “ethical dimension.”

Here is an extract:

Burma

“Our foreign policy must have an ethical dimension and must support the demands of other peoples for the democratic rights on which we insist for ourselves. The Labour Government will put human rights at the heart of our foreign policy and will publish an annual report on our work in promoting human rights abroad.”

In truth this became something of an albatross since it is easier to pledge an “ethical foreign policy” than to actually deliver it, and sadly Robin Cook never lived to  see his brain-child through to maturity. [He died on the 6th August, 2005. Ed.]

However, many were inspired by this speech and felt that a new beginning was being made, one where national interests and economic greed might take second place to “ethics”. However, like many great ideas, it seems to have come to nothing when faced with the cold, hard light of day. And nowhere is the demise of this dream more clear than in the current British Prime Minster’s  recent trade mission to India.

Yes, the PM these days is as much a travelling salesman as moral, spiritual and practical leader ….. unfortunately, he chose to visit India the week after this great country had been graced with a visit from the leader of Burma, General Than Shwe.

This “leader” is of course in reality a gangster dictator who seized power after an election gave victory to the democratic opposition. He now rules over a police state from the middle of the jungle, rumouredly using astrology as one of his principal policy-making guides.

Senior General Than Shwe arrived in India on Sunday (25th July) to sign economic agreements. On the first day of his visit, he travelled to Bodh Gaya and Sarnath, two important pilgrimage sites related to the life of Gautama Buddha.

He also laid a wreath at the the site where the world’s most famous non-violent protester, Mahatma Gandhi was cremated; Rajghat in New Delhi. What Gandhi would of thought of that one can only imagine – two days earlier, the Burmese military wiped out a Christian village in Karen State, eastern Myanmar.

This was no great surprise, since this is one of the nastiest, most corrupt and oppressive regimes on Earth. This from Wikipedia: (This is a long extract from Wikipedia but please read it carefully.)

Human rights in Burma are a long-standing concern for the international community and human rights organisations. There is general consensus that the military regime in Burma is one of the world’s most repressive and abusive regimes.Several human rights organisations, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science have reported on human rights abuses by the military government.[95][96] They have claimed that there is no independent judiciary in Burma. The military government restricts Internet access through software-based censorship that limits the material citizens can access on-line.[97][98] Forced labour, human trafficking, and child labour are common.[99] The military is also notorious for rampant use of sexual violence as an instrument of control, including allegations of systematic rapes and taking of sex slaves as porters for the military. A strong women’s pro-democracy movement has formed in exile, largely along the Thai border and in Chiang Mai. There is a growing international movement to defend women’s human rights issues.[100]

The Freedom in the World 2004 report by Freedom House notes that “The junta rules by decree, controls the judiciary, suppresses all basic rights, and commits human rights abuses with impunity. Military officers hold all cabinet positions, and active or retired officers hold all top posts in all ministries. Official corruption is reportedly rampant both at the higher and local levels.”[101]

Brad Adams, director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia division, in a 2004 address described the human rights situation in the country as appalling: “Burma is the textbook example of a police state. Government informants and spies are omnipresent. Average Burmese people are afraid to speak to foreigners except in most superficial of manners for fear of being hauled in later for questioning or worse. There is no freedom of speech, assembly or association.”[102]

Evidence has been gathered suggesting that the Burmese regime has marked certain ethnic minorities such as the Karen for extermination or ‘Burmisation’.[103] This, however, has received little attention from the international community since it has been more subtle and indirect than the mass killings in places like Rwanda.[104]

In April 2007, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) identified financial and other restrictions that the military government places on international humanitarian assistance. The GAO report, entitled “Assistance Programs Constrained in Burma”, outlined the specific efforts of the government to hinder the humanitarian work of international organisations, including restrictions on the free movement of international staff within the country. The report notes that the regime has tightened its control over assistance work since former Prime Minister Khin Nyunt was purged in October 2004. The military junta passed guidelines in February 2006, which formalised these restrictive policies. According to the report, the guidelines require that programs run by humanitarian groups “enhance and safeguard the national interest” and that international organisations coordinate with state agents and select their Burmese staff from government-prepared lists of individuals. United Nations officials have declared these restrictions unacceptable.

Burma’s government spends the least percentage of its GDP on health care of any country in the world, and international donor organisations give less to Burma, per capita, than any other country except India.[105] According to the report named “Preventable Fate”, published by Doctors without Borders, 25,000 Burmese AIDS patients died in 2007, deaths that could largely have been prevented by Anti Retroviral Therapy drugs and proper treatment.[105]

Here’s something very recent:

New Delhi (AsiaNews)Soldiers from the Burmese Army attacked Tha Dah Der, a Christian village in Karen State, eastern Myanmar, on 23 July, burning 50 homes, a school and a church. Over 600 villagers fled in the jungle as the army advanced, joining 300 more from neighbouring villages who had also abandoned their homes in fear.

A Burmese photographer dies ....

Yes, we have got used to nasty regimes, and to states sucking up to their psychopathic gangster leaders, but there are limits, surely?

Why is the British Prime Minister grovelling to India (and by the way grossly insulting Pakistan at the same time) when India is laying out the red carpet for the Burmese murderer?

I don’t think “murderer” is too strong a word. Apart from all the usual and well-documented pogroms against minorities (remind anyone of Hitler?) the Burmese mafia government refused to allow international aid agencies to help after the catastrophic 2008 cyclone, the worst in Burma’s history. This condemned hundreds of thousands of Burmese citizens to heartless, needless suffering and certainly cost many lives.

Well, above I asked “why”?

Of course, it’s for selfish national interest. India wants access to Burma’s natural resources, especially oil, while Britain wants industrial contracts with India. Cynics would say Cameron succeeded; a follow-on deal for India to buy British Hawk trainer fighters has just been announced.

But why am I reminded of Goethe’s “Faust”? Is it really worth selling our soul to the Devil (indirectly condoning India’s sickening sycophancy to the Burmese Fuehrer) for the sake of some British jobs? A confirmative answer would seem to suggest that ethics in foreign policy is well and truly dead.

Once again, a vicious dictatorship flourishes by divide and rule. Where is the united international front that might help to put an end to our fellow-humans’ suffering? We managed this unity to help end South African apartheid; have our moral standards declined so much since then?

PS South Africa? Oh weep …. In January 2007, Russia and China vetoed a draft resolution before the United Nations Security Council calling on the government of Myanmar to respect human rights and begin a democratic transition. South Africa also voted against the resolution.

Still, they put on a good World Cup, so that’s all right then ……

By Chris Snuggs

The Toyota Fiasco

Toyota – How not to do business!

Learning from Dogs was created by a few people who felt compelled to promote the values of “integrity”, which is often in short supply in the modern world, though perhaps it always has been to some extent in all civilisations. Is dishonesty an eternal part of Human Nature? We like to think not …..

Well, “Integrity” includes being honest, open and dedicated to the truth, even if this is personally inconvenient. It may seem a somewhat forlorn hope to promote something that for an important minority of people is and will probably remain an alien concept, these being people who put self above group. However, the recent Toyota fiasco reminds me that perhaps integrity’s time has indeed arrived, for this is THE INFORMATION AGE. It is NO LONGER easy to hide the truth, which tends to come out now with greater frequency due to a variety of factors including most importantly the Internet. But there are other reasons, too. To take Britain, for example, we now have the “Freedom of Information Act”, which – despite some limitations – has done wonders in allowing the free press (another essential ingredient of course, and sadly lacking in so many countries) to reveal wrong-doing, principally by appallingly-incompetent governments.

Toyota chief Akio Toyoda

As for Toyota, what has staggered me is that the company KNEW of these accelerator & brake problems several years ago. Indeed, people began having crashes as far back as 2006. Yet only recently has it done anything serious about putting things right.  One has to wonder what on earth possessed the Toyota bosses to think that they could get away with it, which on the face of it seems to be exactly what they were trying to do. Who was advising them? It seems to me to have been INEVITABLE that the truth about their cars’ problems  would come out, so even from a cynical and selfish point of view they should have recalled the defective cars at least two years ago. But quite APART from the wisdom of doing that in practical, business terms (the result of delay being to devastate the company’s image to a far greater extent than would otherwise have been the case) there was a MORAL aspect to the problem, too. By ALLOWING the problems to go unresolved they put people at risk. And not just ANY people, but their customers! As has been said before, but sadly with all too much frequency, “You couldn’t make this up.”

How could the world’s number one car manufacturer get it so utterly and totally wrong, both from a moral and practical point of view? I am wondering if Toyota can recover from this. Yes, I know they are big, but there are PLENTY OF CHOICES for people seeking to buy a vehicle. Who in their right mind is now going to buy a car from a company which A) made defective cars (and MILLIONS of them) and B) HID THE TRUTH while people were dying in crashes?

One reason may again be the Japanese obsession with “face”. It was probably difficult for the world’s number one company, which seemed capable of nothing but success, to admit publicly that it had got things badly wrong. The Chairman is now admitting this, but to be frank it reminds me of the old expression about getting blood out of a stone, or being dragged kicking and screaming to the confessional.  And from what I read today he seems to be blaming the troubles on the fact that “the company may have grown too quickly.” I could describe this utterance with an extremely rude word or two but as this is a family site I will refrain. Let’s just say that the company WASN’T HONEST.

I remember as a kid growing up in the shattered London of the1950s the lessons I got from teachers and parents. One of those which stuck in my mind was “Honesty is the best policy.” This has never been more true as it is now. For the Brave New World we dream of honesty is a sine qua non. We must be honest with ourselves, our friends, families, companies and the public. There is no other way to happiness. Will Toyota’s disaster be a lesson for other companies?  NOBODY can get it right all the time and there is no dishonour in the occasional failure, only in the lies involved in trying to cover it up. How many times has this been demonstrated? Had Nixon come clean at once about Watergate he might have survived, but the cover-up was worse than the deed.

On a practical note, I sincerely hope that the families of those killed or maimed in Toyota accidents will sting the company for every yen they can; that is no more than the company deserves.

By Chris Snuggs

[BBC News had an item on the 24th that makes interesting watching. Ed.]

“FACE” and the Human Spirit

Putting on a face with deadly consequences!

I worked for 10 years at ISUGA, a school in Quimper, France dedicated to multi-cultural understanding and international co-operation in business. This was an extremely rich experience at a school where the majority of the foreign students were Chinese.

The campus at ISUGA, Quimper, France

It is also, incidentally, the place where I had to good fortune to meet Jon Lavin and Paul Handover, fellow authors on Learning from Dogs.

I like to think that I have always been sensitive to the cultural differences between different nationalities. Having lived abroad for long periods in both France and Germany, the idea of living in a sort of English enclave somewhere, jealously guarding such cultural practices as endless burgers and fish and chips, is totally anathema to me.

I am human first and English second and if I live in Germany, France or anywhere else I want to live like the natives as far as possible …

This also means making an effort to understand and accept their “culture”. Now this normally poses no problem, but with my Asian friends there is one aspect of their culture that I could not accept. And of course, if one DOES put one’s humanity first, then there is always the risk that the culture of one’s hosts – in some respect – may have to take second place. The “culture ” of Germany in the 1930s was fascist, and I certainly could not have lived with that.

No, what causes me problems with Asians (and particularly Chinese) is this question of “FACE”. One is supposed – and one learns this on “cultural-understanding” courses for businessmen (which of course I organised at my school!!) – to so arrange things that EVEN IF the Asian negotiating counterpart is a complete fool and/or makes the most idiotic errors one must ALWAYS find a way to avoid humiliating them in any way.

Well, “humiliating” is too strong a word in fact … one is supposed to arrange things that they never seem to be in an “inferior” position in any way.

My problem with this is that it is in fact the antithesis of everything this site stands for, which is integrity, truth and honesty. Now if a negotiating partner does in fact make some sort of mistake then to pretend otherwise just to preserve their “face” is dishonest, isn’t it?  And what are we in fact preserving? An IMAGE and not the reality.

Claudia S

It is, in fact, totally AGAINST the Human Spirit. We are all fallible. I know of no perfect men or women (though Claudia Schiffer comes close 😉 ). It is simply DISHONEST to deny this to preserve “FACE”.

The current British government could have done with learning this lesson. For YEARS there was never ANY acceptance that, yes – perhaps – they might have got some things wrong. Funnily enough, this is coming now in short bursts, but not enough to be convincing – shame!

“FACE” is of course a FACADE.  I no longer am interest in facades, but the truth. But the worse aspect of this Asian FACE thing is that it is so totally accepted by them (and by us, but that’s our fault) as being “normal” and acceptable. No, it is NOT acceptable.

The stimulus for this post came from the recent execution of a British drug-smuggler in China. Now it is quite clear from what has been revealed that this guy was A) not fully compos mentis and B) was set up as a mule by a handler. He was caught, tried, sentenced to death and executed by the Chinese. No, I have no sympathy for drug-smugglers, but Mr “Big” he was not.

What muddied the waters even more was that the British Prime Minister made a special plea for clemency, which might very well in normal cases have been granted. But these were not normal circumstances. Just before this incident the British had severely criticized the Chinese for their stance on Global Warming at the Copenhagen Conference. Now, ANY criticism of the CPP (Chinese Communist Party) is likely to be taken as a “loss of face”. One suspects – but there is no way to know – that the Chinese refusal to listen to Prime Minister Brown’s very strong plea for clemency was the CPP’s way of putting the British government in its place and restoring its “face”.

The point is, BEING WRONG is HUMAN. Pretending to be RIGHT all the time is NOT HUMAN. It is IMPOSSIBLE. We should accept this and learn humility. Sadly, the words “humility” and “Chinese Communist Party” are unlikely bedfellows.

By Chris Snuggs

[When Chris wrote this Post, he was unaware of one that I had written that was published on the 28th.  Interesting parallels! Ed.]

The Mystery of the Disappearing Ethics

The Dubai debt crisis raises fundamental questions.


UK banks account for half the £60billion of global loans to the debt-laden emirate, new statistics show.

Well done British banks ….. loads of loans built on sand … I suppose the words “conservative” and “prudent” didn’t get printed in the Banking Terminology dictionary?

So Britain, that Global Giant of the banking world, has half the dodgy loans? British banks are therefore as daft as the rest of the world put together? (Can someone check my maths!)

Oh, and why exactly were the banks lending money to SORDID DICTATORSHIPS? Would we have lent billions to Hitler’s Germany in 1937? What on earth happened to ETHICS in the financial world? I suppose lending to POOR countries who need it rather than the nasty, venal, corrupt dictatorships of the Middle East was right off the radar?

There is an obsession with the “Human Rights” of immigrants and others in Britain, but a complete and utter turning of  blind eyes to the slavery going on in the Middle East, as if it doesn’t concern us because it’s in “another far-off country of which we know little”. (Neville Chamberlain’s shameful explanation of his inaction over Hitler’s annexation of the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia in 1936.)

Sorry, but “No Man is an Island” …. we can’t sign the UN Declaration of Human Rights on the one hand and then blithely lend money (the PEOPLE’S money) to countries that are treating people so terribly.

I hope Dubai goes bankrupt and our cretinous banks with it so that we can start again with people’s banks that have a modicum of honour and decency and are prepared to invest in democracies, not insanely greedy property developments based on dictators’ idle fantasies.

It wasn’t much different with Sadaam Hussein, whatever you think of the invasion. This was a man who – just to take one example – gassed to death 5,000 innocent men, women and children in one single village alone. Yet countries in the “free world” were secretly queuing up to do deals with him. One British government MP even went there and shook his hand, the hand that consigned hundreds of thousands of people to a horrible death.

Ecology? Apart from anything else, Dubai’s carbon emissions are pro rata 250% higher than the US, so much power goes into air-conditioning and desalination. Once again, the left hand doesn’t know or care what the right hand is doing. A British minister tells us to stop eating meat to save the world while British banks simultaneously rush to finance a humongously-profligate and obscenely-elitist project in the desert.

I sometimes wonder if we really deserve to survive Global Warming. Will it be God’s way of cleansing the Earth of an aberrant experiment in free will?

By Chris Snuggs