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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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]: