Diary Blog, Christmas Day 2021

My Christmas and Yuletide greetings to all well-intentioned readers of the blog, to all Europe, and to the wider world.

Christmas morning music

On this day a year ago

Some thoughts from 5 years ago, revisited

I take the opportunity to resurrect from my blog archives the following post from late 2016: https://ianrobertmillard.org/2016/12/03/the-society-of-measure/.

I have made just criticism in the past few years of, inter alia, Aaron Bastani and Ash Sarkar, and their idea called “Fully Automated Luxury Communism” [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fully_Automated_Luxury_Communism], but (despite not having read the book), I apprehend that one of its basic premises is that the benefits of modern technology and productive techniques have been arrogated by a tiny minority of finance-capitalists. If my understanding of the book is correct in that regard, then I certainly agree with that view; indeed, it can hardly be denied.

Books such as The Spirit Level [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Spirit_Level_(book)] have shown how inequality in the “Western” world has grown since the 1950s and particularly in recent decades. Numerous studies have shown how the remuneration and wealth (capital) of corporate owners and the highest strata of executives has become grotesque.

In the 1950s, in the USA the typical disparity between the pay of highest-paid and lowest-paid in a company was about 15:1. Now it is hundreds to one and, in not a few cases, thousands to one. That is without even getting into share options, capital gains etc

The same is true of the UK. There are many large companies where the top executives are getting a million or more a year (many millions in some cases) in salary alone, while the bottom-level employees are on something like £15,000. A ratio of at least 70:1, and in many cases hundreds to one.

It is not a question, for me, of inequality alone (some inequality is inevitable and indeed good) but of inequality so great and so unfair that it amounts to inequity.

We see how some of the wealthiest capitalists on Earth (Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, Elon Musk etc) vie with each other to build their own space rockets, not to do anything truly worthwhile with them but to take what amount to joy-rides into space, accompanied by other hugely-wealthy individuals. Meanwhile, their own employees live on pennies, in many cases unable to pay their rent, feed their families properly, or achieve even a modestly-comfortable standard of living.

The fruits of scientific and technological innovation must be shared more equitably.

Tweets seen

Hopper“, not “Hooper” (and “they’re“, not “their“) (etc)…but never mind. It’s Christmas.

Welby has either never heard of the line:

Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast
ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them
under their feet, and turn again and rend you
.” [Matthew 7:6]

…or, more likely, has decided to turn a Nelsonian eye…

It is entirely misplaced and wrongheaded “compassion” to invite into the UK (or to tolerate an unwanted invasion by) those who, most of them, despise British people and/or hate us, and who will be, at best, a heavy millstone round the British neck, forever.

Justin Welby will have to suffer no detriment by tolerating the migration invasion. No, that burden will be borne by the British poor, mostly.

Music

More tweets seen

I was going to keep the blog short today, and concentrated on purely Christmas topics (and one does after all have other things to do on Christmas Day), but the world has impinged on my retreat…

A few thoughts around Christmas

Naturally, Christmas, as we know it in the UK and/or “Anglosphere”, is largely what people today often call “a construct” or “social construct”. You see in magazines or online quite a lot of historical detail about that.

A few examples: St. Nicholas was someone from what is now part of Turkey, not the North Pole: see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Nicholas; and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinterklaas.

In the UK, perhaps especially England, we have a fairly closely-defined idea of what Christmas should be: the Christmas tree, the angel or star atop the tree, carols, Santa Claus in his red suit, sitting in a sleigh in the sky, itself pulled by flying reindeer.

As many will know, the Christmas tree tradition, in England, dates back only to 1834, when one was installed at Windsor Castle; the tradition dates back longer in Germany, to the late Middle Ages.

As for the fairy atop the tree, that may be connected with the late Roman cult of Mithras, though that seems to me to be contrived, in view of the fact that the Christmas tree tradition itself is of recent historical origin. I would not say, though, that I am really qualified to pronounce on that aspect.

As to red-suited Santa with his sled or sleigh, reindeer etc, that is a conflation of ancient traditions, 19thC traditions, and “traditions” which come from as recent a source as 1930s American ads for Coca-Cola: see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Claus.

In Russia, the 19thC saw “Grandfather Frost” emerge, a tradition at least half-heartedly kept up in 20thC Soviet times as an alternative to the usually disapproved-of and sometimes suppressed Russian Orthodox Christmas religious holiday (which takes place a couple of weeks after the Western one by reason of the fact that the Russian Orthodox church still uses the Julian Calendar).

I believe that some Christian occultists aver that the “Santa in a sleigh” picture has an underlying reality in that the Cosmic Christ travels spiritually around the world for the “12 days of Christmas”, assessing the overall spiritual condition of the world. Perhaps.

My own view is that it does not really matter that our 20thC/21stC idea of Christmas would seem slightly odd to Victorian England, and downright alien to the English of Tudor times. It is our mental picture, our idea of what is sacred, our idea of what is worthwhile. It encapsulates what has gone before, and is of social and personal value.

Whatever the origins of Christmas as we know it, and however “inauthentic” some may claim it to be, the fact remains that we regard it as sort-of-sacred, even if in a sense it is not, and that includes the “Father Christmas” or “Santa Claus” figure in his red robes, even if he does only date back, in that form, to 1930s Disney and Coca-Cola. We do not like it being changed for obviously socio-political reasons.

Ghastly

Saw a few minutes on TV of some ghastly Christmas thing in Westminster Abbey yesterday. Some weird fellow looking like a Scottish down and out strumming on a guitar and, er, singing, while queen-to-be Kate accompanied on a piano. Not quite sure what the whole thing was, because I only saw a minute or two of it.

The Mezzotint

Saw a BBC adaptation of the M.R. James story, The Mezzotint. My expectations were not, if truth be told, high, but in fact this was an excellent short film. The original story was written in 1904, but the adaptation was, seemingly, set in the 1920s (judging by the props, clothes, and some music heard).

Even the fact that, typically for today, they shoehorned a non-European into the story (an anglicized Indian, or Anglo-Indian), did not jar, the way it was done. Pretty good.

I can recommend highly the 1995 documentary below, finely narrated by the late Bill Wallis [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Wallis]:

Late music

[Levitan, Vladimirka]

9 thoughts on “Diary Blog, Christmas Day 2021”

  1. Thinking about Justin Welby and his words about the invaders and the traitors that ferry them across I remembered the punishment for coin clippers in Russia under Peter the Great: the culprits had melted lead poured down their throats. An awful punishment for such a petty crime but not so for traitors…

    Like

    1. Claudius:
      You are a harder man than me! I would not do that to my worst enemy. Actually, at one time, in the early mediaeval period, that was the penalty visited upon coiners and similar criminals in England. Around 1200 AD.

      Like

      1. You are too nice Ian! (LOL) Talking about coin clippers, I found that in England, up to the end of the 18th century, they were hanged, drawn and quartered. The reason behind such cruel and barbaric punishment was that they had “disfigured His Majesty’s face” and that was considered high treason. For some strange reason, the women guilty of a similar crime were burned alive, but, fortunately, they were usually strangled by the executioner and so they were spared that horrible death.

        Like

      2. Claudius:
        I recall visiting a village in Devon a long time ago, which contains a ruined fort and prison, quite small (about the size of an averagely-small house). My companion, a lady with a certain psychic capability, felt quite unwell there. The place had been used not only to hold prisoners such as coiners, but to torture and kill them in the manner you mention. (there were plaques explaining all that).
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lydford_Castle

        Like

      3. I forgot to mention that, usually, the English executioners (perhaps acting on the order of the man in charge, or out of their own initiative) did NOT carry out the horrible punishment as it was prescribed, that is disembowelling the man ALIVE, but they kill the poor man before (I think by beheading him) and so they spare him a horrendous end. Very decent of them!

        Like

      4. Claudius:
        Thank you. A final act of mercy, in the spirit of Longinus…
        Hard to believe that people were drawn and quartered in England as recently as about 250 years ago.
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanged,_drawn_and_quartered

        It was used to execute convicted traitors *only* though.

        Incidentally, did you know that, into the early and even mid-19thC, anyone refusing to plead (guilty or not guilty) to a felony (in England and Wales) was “pressed” by being put under an upturned table and rocks added to the other side, until dead or willing to plead?

        These days, anyone refusing to plead is simply taken to have pleaded “Not Guilty”.

        Like

    1. Watcher:
      Thank you. Yes. Interesting. I suppose that, whenever it was first built, ladders were somehow attached, and small bricks or other materials brought up “one piece at a time”, as in the Johnny Cash song. A labour of devotion.

      In the early 1980s, a Soviet plane photographed a huge and apparently abandoned “monastery” (maybe) in the Pamir Mountains (I think), in (I think) Tadjikistan, but I never heard whether a ground team ever went there. Middle of nowhere. There was a very small report and photo on the front page of the Daily Telegraph. Reminiscent of “Meetings with Remarkable Men”:

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s