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The Crass Brexiteer Mark Francois Needs a Lesson in British History
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How should Brexit be seen against the broad backdrop of British history? Analogies multiply, with the crudest coming from prominent Brexiteer MP Mark Francois who denounced the head of Airbus for writing a letter stressing the negative economic impact for Britain of leaving the EU.

Francois claimed that this was yet one more example of teutonic arrogance, adding pugnaciously, “My father, Reginald Francois, was a D-Day veteran. He never submitted to bullying by any German. Neither will his son.” With this, he tore up the letter in front of the television cameras.

The puerile bombast that accompanied this performance attracted great publicity, as no doubt Francois intended, and derisive commentary was abundant. But Francois has scarcely been alone in making ludicrously exaggerated analogies between Britain leaving the EU and other great crises in British history.

Jacob Rees-Mogg made a classier but equally absurd comparison between Theresa May’s Brexit deal and the Treaty of Le Goulet agreed between King John and Philip II of France in 1200 at time when John was vainly trying to hold on to his lands across the Channel.

Such xenophobic or far-fetched analogies tend to bring into disrepute anybody else trying to see Brexit in the context of British history. Yet there are comparisons to be made with our recent and distant past which illuminate the political terrain in which the battle over relations between Britain and the EU is being fought.

The trouble is, knowledge of events only recently past is depressingly scanty. People may very reasonably say that they have never heard of the Treaty of Le Goulet and are dubious about its relevance. Much more dangerous is the fact that so many Conservative MPs, going by what they say, have little idea what was in the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 or why it ended a savage guerrilla war in which some 3,000 people were killed.

The conflict known as the Troubles was only the latest episode in the 400-year-old confrontation between the Catholic and Protestant communities in Ulster. Bringing it to an end was the greatest achievement of Tony Blair’s years in office. Yet today Theresa May is cavalierly putting this hard-won peace in jeopardy because she needs the votes of the DUP, seen by Catholics as a sectarian Protestant party, to maintain her parliamentary majority.

The British government has thoughtlessly abandoned the neutrality between nationalists and unionists which was declared by John Major’s government in 1993 and was a necessary precondition for peace talks.

Watching MPs being questioned about the backstop, it soon becomes clear that few of them have much idea of its significance.

The backstop is treated as if it was solely about border checks, or the absence of them, and about the stance of the EU, Irish and British governments on the issue. Conservative MPs and ministers state defiantly that Northern Ireland cannot be treated differently from the rest of the UK, as if the Good Friday Agreement and everything else to do with the country since 1920 has not treated it as a different political entity.

We have been here before. The crisis in British history which perhaps has the most in common with the turmoil over Brexit is that over the home rule, which convulsed British politics repeatedly between 1880 and 1922. The Conservative Party played the “Orange Card” successfully in order to win elections and thereby ensured that, when the Irish gained effective independence, it was through violence.

The English have the reputation abroad of being obsessed with their own history, but I doubt if this is really the case. Put another way, they consider history as a determining force to be something that happens to other people. The explanation for this is that the history of the British state over the last four centuries has been one of largely undiluted success, in sharp contrast to the rest of Europe, which looks back at a history of revolutions, wars and occupations.

The Suez crisis in 1956 is often cited as having similarities with Brexit, but it was a setback far more limited in scope than its subsequent reputation. The British and French miscalculated the strength of Egyptian nationalism and of US objections to their venture, but they suffered no military defeat and lost little they had not lost before. The British drew the lesson that they must become even closer allies of the US and the French, and that they needed to enhance their strength through deepening their engagement with Germany and the EEC.

The idea that the British have been blinded to their real interests by nostalgia for lost empire is a myth. If it had been true, then they would not have retreated from empire so easily (not so easy, of course, for people in India, Kenya, Cyprus and Malaya). Contrast this with France,which battled to keep Indo-China and then Algeria, only to suffer defeat and humiliation.

The British legacy from the 19th and 20th centuries is less a crippling desire to revisit imperial glories than an overwhelming sense of self-confidence which has only recently transformed into mindless hubris. The political class lost the ability to calculate the political odds for and against its projects. One could see this in the failures in the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria. One can see this again in the bafflement of the Theresa May government, the Brexiteers, and much of the public, as they struggle to understand why they failed to get their way in negotiations in Brussels, obvious though it was from the beginning that the 27 remaining members of the EU held the trump cards.

Stability within the UK and the skilful creation of alliances abroad were the key to past British successes while the Royal Navy prevented temporary reverses turning into permanent defeats. British power sprang from victory over France – as Britain’s historic European rival – in the Napoleonic wars and against Germany in the First and Second World Wars.


There has not really been a peacetime British crisis that matches up to Brexit since the 17th century and those most often mentioned, such the Repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846 and the Great Reform Bill of 1832, do not measure up. The English Civil War between 1642 and 1651 had complex ingredients that are not yet replicated by Brexit (despite claims by those who are privately persuaded their cause would benefit from saying that we are all on the road to armageddon).

They may be right in the long term but one should not prematurely adopt the apocalyptic tone of many of the journalists and politicians gathered on College Green outside the Houses of Parliament. Brexit remains the strangest of crises because, as many have pointed out, the whole country is being invited to board the Brexit train without knowing its destination. That may be in some far distant land or, perhaps more likely, could simply be on another platform in the same railway station.

(Republished from The Independent by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Brexit, Britain 
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  1. Perhaps Germans should urge them even more to stay, so they leave faster, out of spite?

  2. apollonian says: • Website

    “Remainers”: Genocidal Murderers

    “Brexit remains the strangest of crises because, as many have pointed out, the whole country is being invited to board the Brexit train without knowing its destination.”

    Well, freedom and independence aren’t designed or intended to have a “destination,” do they? For aren’t freedom and independence ends in themselves, their own “destination” by itself?

    The entire article by Cockburn, “…Francois Needs a Lesson…,” is just a moronic succession of assertion-without-substantiation and non-sequiturs. Cockburn just wants to keep UK within the genocidal dictatorship called EU–for no reason but the usual satanic genocidal misanthropy.

  3. actually, Cockburn, Britain’s so-called “victory” over Germany in the IInd 30 Years War (1914-45)

    is what collapsed all the White European Empires,

    including Britain’s.

    that War’s principal architect was W.S. Churchill, a

    (((Rothschild))) stooge.

    and I doubt if the (((Rothschild))) clan,

    which owns most of the Brit political class,

    will permit an actual Brexit.

  4. Cockburn ignores the obvious solution that was open the the UK government in relation to Ireland: fuck off out of “Northern Ireland”, erase the artificial line drawn on the map of the island by the UK Government, and stop pretending that the UK government’s intransigence had anything whatsoever with concern for the Protestant minority, and everything to do with pure bloody-mindedness at the gall of the invadee in telling the UK to sling their fucking hook.

    As to the death toll from the “Troubles”: the “savage guerilla war” that “killed 3000 people“, was a legitimate resistance to a foreign occupation whose actions in Ireland (the clearances, and forced export of agricultural output) had directly caused millions of deaths during the19th century. And like all resistance movements, it had broad social support and also targeted identified collaborators.

    Again, it could all have been brought to an end in five minutes – by the English fucking off back to their own island: the resistance movement did not even demand reparations for the costs imposed on the Irish people by the occupation.

    Note also, that a very large proportion of the “3,000” death toll was generated by foreign scum like the Black & Tans; their actions were far less discriminate that those of the Provisional IRA (e.g., Croke Park 1920 – “Bloody Sunday” – where the English opened fire with automatic weapons on a soccer crowd).

    The IRA even invented “Nerf terrorism” – when they decided to take the fight to English shores… they did their enemy courtesy of telephoning ahead and letting the authorities know to evacuate the target area.

    Given the IRA’s high level of organisation, strategic and tactical capability and ease of infiltration of the UK, they could have caused the sort of havoc that was observed in places like Baghdad during Western occupation in the 2000s. By contrast, more recent anti-occupation movements (like ‘al-Qa’eda’) have always had much greater difficulty securing unrestricted movement of assets within Western societies.

    The IRA always had the moral high ground in that stoush: I am a militant atheist and I despise the Catholic Church – but I support, and have always supported, all actions against invader/occupiers.

    • Agree: Bill Jones
    • Replies: @apollonian
    , @Anonymous
  5. Irish friends credit the EU with making peace on the island. They also curse British news services like Reuters and The Times for being arrant liars who always conspired in Britain’s oppression.

  6. apollonian says: • Website

    I got a question for a genius like thou: can thou PROVE there is no God?–show us.

    • Replies: @Kratoklastes
  7. eggplant says:

    Cockburn is a twat. Why should we be saddled to the EU just because the various factions of bogtrotting cigarette smugglers can’t stop murdering each other unless they’re bribed not to.

  8. @apollonian

    can thou PROVE there is no God?

    That’s a stupid question, of a type that amateur logicians think is a ‘gotcha’.

    I’m not the one insisting that everyone has to hew to a bunch of provably-wrong primitive drivel, or else they will suffer an eternity of conscious torment.

    Can you prove that Attis is not the ‘right’ god? Can you prove that Yahweh isn’t actually Sutekh? Can you prove that you should worship Yahweh rather than Aten, or Zeus, or Fkel’hir?

    Of course you can’t. In the same way that you can’t prove that there isn’t a bright pink dinosaur sitting next to me pointing out (some of) my typos.

    See how fucking stupid that is?

    But in any case: let’s examine what would happen if there was actually was a god that fit the description of the people who don’t ever actually read the collection of drivel in the Old Nonsense and the New Nonsense.

    In other words, let’s see what outcomes are implied by the existence of an omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent entity (OOOE) who made the universe and who thinks human beings are the best thing since button-up boots.

    What would we expect to observe?

    We would expect to observe a universe that is not overwhelmingly hostile to human life. (Even this pissy little planet is mostly-hostile to human life; the rest of the universe is much much larger, and it’s much much more hostile).

    We would expect that if the OOOE decided to interact with humans, he would give a far better explanation of his work, than what we find in literally every single religious text. He wouldn’t provide a bunch of bullshit that makes really obvious mistakes about the nature of reality and the physical world.

    You see, that’s a logical ‘entailment’ of being an OOOE… it is necessarily within the power of an omnipotent, omniscient entity to find a perfect and error free explanation to any audience, in terms that the audience would understand completely. (And yet ‘God’ never mentioned bacteria, or the value of hygiene, or that slavery is wrong, or that homosexuality is a normal part of the human condition).

    We would expect a universe completely free of suffering: animals would not live by killing other animals (the amount of suffering thus engendered is beyond imagining).

    We would expect humans to have come into being very shortly after the beginning of the universe, rather than 16 billion years into the process. What was this ‘god’ doing for all that time, if the universe was made for humans?

    We would expect the ‘first contact’ betyween Yahweh and humanity to have happened shortly after modern humans evolved, not at least 350,000 years later. Why did Yahweh wait so long, and then give a message that looks exactly like what we would expect if it was made up by a bunch of pre-literate savages who had no idea how the world actually works??

    Equally important: not only do we not observe the type of universe we would expect if Abrahamic OOOE-type gods existed… the evidence that we have, is consistent with a better hypothesis; the “nothing supernatural” hypothesis explains every aspect of reality (i.e., gods are redundant additions to any useful theory).

    And of course when it comes to the documentary evidence itself (Genesis, Exodus etc): every time we test the evidence, the story is is wrong in every particular. No evidence of 2 million people wandering around for 40 years in the 430 miles between Egypt and Jerusalem at any time before 900BcE; no evidence of Hebrew slaves in Egypt; no evidence of any of the Patriarchs… and so on and so forth.

    Seriously: stop reading apologists and grifters, and start reading some scientific and archaeological work. The second scientific revolution has been going on for 200 years, and you’re stuck believing primitive horse-shit that none of the senior clergy of the major religions believes anymore

    Lastly: I’m pretty sure it should be “canst thou” when it’s interrogative.

    • Replies: @Logan
  9. Sean says:

    Ireland is now begining for the first time to pay more than it takes out of the EU. To the consternation of the Irish government the UE is also putting an end to the collusion of Ireland in massive tax evasion by Goggle and similar companies. Free ride is over, but if Ireland wants to stay in the EU that is their business (and the interests of the businesss class seem to be all that matter in Eire).

    Cockburn is quite correct in saying the Irish Republic has not been treated like just another foreign country. Since it came into being , citizens of Eire have always been allowed to come to the United Kingdom of Northern Ireland and Britain, get full welfare benefits free health care and housing –they could even vote.

    So what is the big problem with letting whatever number of EU single market freedom of Poles ect decided to try their luck in Britain? Simply put: there are just too many of them, there is too much of a pull factor with wages, and it was not tailing off at all. Like trying to bail out the ocean.

    How should Brexit be seen against the broad backdrop of British history?

    Britain’s Europe: A Thousand Years of Conflict and Cooperation, is a good book.

    British power sprang from victory over France – as Britain’s historic European rival – in the Napoleonic wars and against Germany in the First and Second World Wars.

    I would say British power sprang from its overseas possessions. Britain never was one for a huge standing army that would stake everything on a grand continental battle. Dunkirk should have branded it into our playbook that that being fully committed to the continent was a very high risk strategy. The sad truth is: Britain is not, never was, and never can be a match for Germany on the level field of a single market. Decades ago Lord Weinstock (made GEC one of UK’s most profitable companies) warned it would lead to Britain being deindustialised.

    That would not matter much because the ruling class in Britain is not very bothered about maintaining productive capacity any more than they are worried about working class people being forced to compete with endless reserve armies of Polish and Romanian labour. Fortunately the EU started eyeing the City , which many Tories represent the interest of. Before the Brexit referendum, Cameron (used to work in the City as a PR man) made demands and got concessions from the EU on the City being free to leverage as much as it wanted.

    The reason most British voted for Brexit was the free movement of workers within the single market which in practice meant the UK got an influx of Poles, Romanians ect altering the supply and demand of the labour market in Britain. Staying in the EU would mean that continuing for ever after, and as most Labour party MPs think that consideration was the reason for Labour Party supporters voting for Brexit in the referendum.

    There is no deal between the EU and Britain that can supply the Single Market without freedom of movement. Immigration has always been class war, and the British ruling class are going to get a taste of their own medicine now from having foreigners usurp their job (of making rules), for Britain will not have a say in the EU any more. In the end though, Britain will re-invent itself as it has so many times before.

  10. Anonymous [AKA "Strangeworld"] says:

    No, it’s probably that the UK goes to a no-deal by accident, accidents are everywhere through history. None wants them but, they happen. And once UK is out, of course it will be survivable, as the retarded Fox says, easier by far for the Fourth Reich than for Britain. And yes, there will be a train and a destiny: the disintegration of the UK. The Ulster finally will rejoin Ireland and Scotland finally will gain its independence, both will rejoin the EU. Since Britain reached the nucleus of the capitalist system in the 1800s, displacing the Netherlands, all its foreign policy was trying to avoid a continental union, something stupid since the very capitalist system prevent by itself it (it was the same as the US did since they reached the position of Britain in 1945 displacing it, a lot of stupid things absolutely useless except from make its empire shorter). Now that the continent is going to be united, among other arguments because it is irrelevant in the world (the system prevent powers to unite, since they compete among them, but not irrelevant banana countries) and the more desunited the more irrelevant, it is Britain which will be disintegrated within a decade, if not less years.

    And yes, it is all a product of his Tory Party. More or less like the CPSU with the USSR.

  11. Anon[254] • Disclaimer says:

    Gibraltar: The Real Reason for Brexit Finally Revealed

    it is no surprise to now find that there was a military dimension to Brexit few had noticed. Brexit should not affect the UK’s membership of NATO or its network of operational agreements with other countries, as the Common European Defence Force is not yet a reality. But it does change the status of Gibraltar, that isolated bit of rock which is a British Overseas Territory due to a long-forgotten dispute of little relevance today – and this presents both a problem and an opportunity for its notorious fairweather friend, the US, which it is now seeking to exploit.”

    “This is taking place against a backdrop of the US trying to reduce its commitment to NATO, despite its ongoing involvement in expensive foreign conflicts. Despite this, it has always objected to the creation of a European Defence Force controlled by Europe itself, more independently of the US. With Europe increasingly united and belligerent in the face of Brexit, contrary to expectations, this creates a military division between the US and EU which has not existed since the EU was founded.”

    “So the US has to bypass the EU to retain military control of Gibraltar via an ally. Brexit achieves this, provided the UK can be brought on board.”

    “With few other friends who prefer it to the EU, the UK is desperate to recreate its old “Special Relationship” with the US to try and limit the economic impact of its own decision, though with limited results.”

  12. During the Suez crisis, it was just fine and dandy for the Egyptians to assert nationalistic sentiments. No cries of racism and xenophobia were heard. Same with India when they decided to kick out the white British colonizers; that had nothing to do with wanting to make India great again by preventing it from becoming a squabbling pit of diversity factions. The racism / xenophobia chorus is only heard when the people of Britain, France and their rebel love child, the USA, voice any objections to inverse colonization of their countries by mass-scale welfare-abetted immigration. The historical parallel there is the fallen Roman Empire.

  13. Hans says:

    Ah, another “wardrobe malfunction” from the Cockburns. Pat and Alex, Commie sprog of Claude, dressing up as champions of liberty. Recall fondly Alex’s flaccid defense of the mainstream 9/11 lie on his (((Anti-Fascism))) tour circa 2004. Think Pat deserves a (((Pulitzer))) for this ejaculation to go with his Gellhorn and Orwell prizes.

  14. plantman says:

    Cockburn’s appears to love British history, but hates the campaign (Brexit) that would preserve the state from being subsumed by the bank-controlled EU.

    Why is that? And why doesn’t Cockburn simply admit that he doesn’t believe that the nation-state system is still viable today?

    Instead he tries to confuse everyone with his impressive grasp of history while arguing that Britain can no longer endure as an independent country but must continue to accept the diktats of Brussels.

    Cockburn should stop with the shell game and come clean: He opposes an independent Britain and supports the corporate rule of people whose names he probably doesn’t even know.

    He’s not exactly what you would call a patriot, is he?

    • Replies: @Bill Jones
  15. Anonymous [AKA "nut butter"] says:

    what a myopic look at history you seem to have, first the black and tans were 25% irish born catholics, are they foreigners ?? yes they were mostly a group of unemployed ex soldiers whose experiences during ww 1 must have mentally screwed up many and took the jobs due to said unemployment after returning home and im not making excuses for any atrocity they may have commited and croke park was in retaliation for the murder the day before of either 11 or 17 Black and tans.

    originally the 6 counties were planted by scots in fact the irish bought in 11000 gallowglasses to do their fighting from scotland a country where the irish invaded driving out the original picts and supplanted themselves.

    in fact i don’t know a single english person who has the slightest interest in N ireland perhaps the irish could pay the 9 billion a year the english have to pay to support the 6 counties but it might mean a large hike in their taxes, would they still be so quick. Finally who invaded who first, i take it even you have heard of st patrick , he was a briton stolen by irish raiders a taken to ireland as a slave a place which has never been one country but ruled by warring chiefs all claiming a bit for themselves.

  16. @Anonymous

    I’ve organised the response to your assertions into 6 colourful headings.

    1. Killing Ginger Irish Bastard Civilians: Kinda Like Killing Occupying Forces

    Another way to put this heading is “A Zionist Worldview, Applied to the Occupation of Ireland by England“.

    The people killed on the morning of Bloody Sunday were valid military targets, with the exception of 2 civilians who were killed by accident (on at 117, and one at the Gresham pub).

    With those two exceptions, the targets were all part of the occupying force, and occupied nations have the right in international law to undertake military operations against occupiers.

    Now let’s contrast that with the deaths at Croke Park: there were zero legitimate military targets. It was a fucking soccer crowd.

    “Croke Park Massacre” – the hint’s in the name.

    2. Ginger Irish Mick Bastards Were Black & Tans, Too

    Every invader attracts its collaborators – and from the perspective of the occupied, every collaborator deserves a bullet (or worse).

    Nobody is pretending that every Irishman is a little ginger ball of virtue – like any population, plenty of them are cunts. However… what they are, collectively, is the rightful masters of their own national destiny.

    3. Ginger Irish Stupid Bastards Couldn’t Govern Theirselves

    You’re absolutely right that Ireland had no central government prior to the invasion by the English: like Iceland, it had developed a system of competing (not mostly non-overlapping) chieftainships, that had technological parity with neighbouring cultures, and that system had lasted for between 1000 and 9000 years.

    The túath system is a subject of debate among historians, and everyone brings their prejudices:
    • Catholics and Socialists assert that it was just a set of microstates;
    • anarchists and libertarians claim that the túatha were competing voluntaryist organisations that were proto-panarchic (like the goðorð system during the Icelandic Commonwealth).

    The right answer is “Probably both, and at times, neither” – given the time spans being considered.

    But guess what? Whether they were set of localised brutal dictatorships or a set of ginger-bearded hipster pacifist anarcho-syndicalists, neither legitimises invasion and occupation. (Not that the English ever managed to subdue the whole island anyhow – and they tried, for 800 years)

    4. Ginger Irish Criminal Bastards Kidnapped St Paddie

    Do you have any contemporary, documentary evidence the person referred to as St Patrick, actually had the life that his writings described? I’m assuming that the author of the Confessio and Epistola actually did exist – although everything in the ‘canonical’ version of the St Patrick story, smacks of myth.

    It is terrible practice to rely on Confessional literature for historical details – especially the confessional literature of religious nutcases. Just sayin’.

    In any case – let’s say that a bloke called Patrick was once kidnapped by Irish pirates: all that says is that like all societies, Irish society at the time included a bunch of assholes who stole other people’s shit (the “British Empire” model of resource acquisition).

    Is the existence of criminal assholes in a society evidence that the society should be over-run by some other culture? I reckon you’re in danger of having someone invoke “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone” (apparently some Jew said that – but almost certainly not due to being a myth)

    5. Noble Sassenachs Couldn’t Give a Fuck About Paddie-Land

    The claim that the English don’t have ‘the slightest interest’ in Northern Ireland is belied by the fact that they refuse to fuck off back across the Irish Sea.

    6. Noble Altruistic Sassenachs Pay a Modest Fortune Propping Up Paddie-Land

    The notion that it costs the UK £9 billion a year to ‘support the 6 counties’ is nonsense: £2 billion of that is public servant salaries, for a start.

    There are 206,000 full-time equivalents sucking on the tax tit: 11% of the population, man woman and child. They’re working for the Crown and are therefore not a proper cost of Northern Ireland itself, but a cost of the Occupation. Bring a boat to collect them as wants to leave, and let the others get a proper fucking job.

    Another ₤3b is the Northern Ireland’s share of UK Defence Expenditure, UK Debt Interest, International service, UK contribution to the EU, and cost of maintaining the British Royal family: those are not ‘costs’ of running Northern Ireland: they are costs that would disappear from the budget of a united Ireland.

    The modelling that’s been done shows a net benefit (to an Irish Reunification) of ~₤8.5 billion – ₤35b in economic benefits, less roughly ₤26b of costs; a goodly chunk of that ₤26b is to account for out the pension entitlements of Northern Irish pensions accrued under the British government. That’s because the British pension system is a Ponzi scheme – so the current total value of contributions by Northern Irish is not sufficient to fund the expected pension payments that will accrued to them on retirement.

    If England claims getting shot of Northern Ireland is going to save ₤9.2 billion (fucking nonsense), and Ireland’s going to gain a net ₤8.5 billion (more than plausible), that means there’s ~₤17.7b of deadweight loss just sitting there waiting to be corrected.

  17. @plantman

    “”He’s not exactly what you would call a patriot, is he?He’s not exactly what you would call a patriot, is he?”

    He’s what we’d call a mick.

  18. 36 ulster says:

    Good points, nut butter. The histrionics of the Fevered Fenians have always angered me, since there never has been a united Ireland (Brian Boru might have been The Guy, but he apparently was a little lax regarding HQ security…). Cycles of raiding and settlement were the norm; curiously, cattle seem to have been a more valuable commodity than the other clans’ young ladies. Though I respect the Scots-Irish as the advance guard of settlement in my home state of Pennsylvania, their prominence in Washington’s army, and enjoy Scots-Irish bourbon, I happen to be a Catholic who views the paramilitaries with disdain, especially the circular firing squad of the loyalists. As an American who has dispassionately studied the “Troubles” for over 50 years, my view is that …it’s not my call. It’s up to the Irish and Those Other Irish–Scotch-, Anglo-, Welsh- and all that, to solve the situation, or to come up with yet more half-measures.

  19. 36 ulster says:

    Update: You seem to have caused Kratoklastes to shed his quasi-intellectual shell and cook off like, well, a Fevered Fenian.

  20. Logan says:

    The crisis in British history which perhaps has the most in common with the turmoil over Brexit is that over the home rule, which convulsed British politics repeatedly between 1880 and 1922. The Conservative Party played the “Orange Card” successfully in order to win elections and thereby ensured that, when the Irish gained effective independence, it was through violence.

    A remarkably distorted POV. Quite similar to the idea that the Hindu-Muslim conflict in India was all just drummed up by the British.

    Nobody ever wants to look at things from the standpoint of the Protestants of Ireland. In the late 19th and early 20th they were, quite understandably, extremely reluctant to put themselves under the rule of people they were well aware hated them. That those people arguably had good reason to hate them was by that time kind of beside the point. Irish history has an over-abundance of blame to go around.

    Mr. Cockburn’s idea boils down to the notion that the British of 100 years ago should have abandoned the Prods of Ireland, the most loyal to Britain and the Crown of all subjects, to their fate. The whites of Rhodesia and (soon, perhaps) South Africa might appreciate how they felt.

  21. Logan says:

    No evidence of 2 million people wandering around for 40 years in the 430 miles between Egypt and Jerusalem at any time before 900BcE;

    I’ve often wondered how many square miles such an encampment would cover. The Romans could put about 25,000 men on a square mile when camped. (Very roughly.)

    That would take 80 square miles for 2M people, probably at least 100, since it seems unlikely the Israelites could have camped as efficiently as the Roman legions. That’s a lot of land!

    • Replies: @Logan
  22. Logan says:

    Under the Law, an Israelite was supposed to excrete in a hole he dug outside the camp. If his tent was near the center of the 100 square mile camp, he’d have a minimum 10 mile round trip hike just to take a dump. Not to mention the 2M holes that people would be digging each day.

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