Richard responds to previous discussion:


The action by France in refusing to accept British beef was, of course,
referred by the Commission to the European Court of Justice.  A few weeks
ago, the preliminary ruling by the Court was that France had breached
Community law.  If this finding is upheld (preliminary findings usually are)
then a considerable fine could be levied on France.  This underlines the
primacy of EU law and demonstrates that even the great French - who are so
protective of their own national interests - have to knuckle under.

As regards Lawrence's comments, I note his quote:

"We must wake up and resist the true source of the threat to our way of
life:
our own governments, with their misguided preoccupation with centralisation
and control.  We must make it absolutely clear that we object to the loss of
our own power to decide - and do whatever we can to frustrate the
centralising tendency.  If we fail to grasp this nettle, it will matter
little whether we are inside or outside the EU.  We will still be in the
hands of our own home-grown dictatorship!".

The point that the writer seems to miss is that the ultimate in
centralisation is the EU.  What is happening more often than not is that the
UK government, anxious not to betray is own loss of power, disguises EU
initiatives and legislation, presenting them as its own.  Thus the
"centralising" tendency of Blair's government   is most often a reflection
of its activities in conforming with EU requirements.  And there is nothing
more final in terms of our ability to decide than in handing over ever more
competences to the EU.

On foot and mouth and Booker, my "take" of his article is that FMD was a
'bugger's muddle" created jointly by our own government and the EU.  This is
a common enough situation, to which effect I quote from my own book, "Death
of British Agriculture":

"...I am reminded of an interview with Mr (now Lord) Freeman in 1996. He was
then Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster - and nominally in charge of the
Cabinet Office - and I sought to brief him on the chaos overtaking the
implementation of the 'over thirty month' cattle destruction scheme.
Looking over Horse Guards from the window of his capacious office, from the
very heart of Whitehall in which so much power supposedly resides, he
likened his post as a senior Cabinet Minister with that of a signalman in an
old-fashioned signal box.  He invited me to imagine the ranks of gleaming
control levers, all lined up ready to respond to his actions - his 'levers
of power'.  But, he said - not without a certain bitterness - 'I have all
the levers, but they are not connected to anything'.

That actually characterised the response to the foot and mouth disease.
Where we needed a clear line and firm, enlightened leadership, authority was
spread between numerous agencies in the British government, in Brussels and
elsewhere, bogged down in that soggy grey mass that passes for modern
governance.  Effectively, with everyone dabbling - all with their own bits
of power to play with, their own levers to pull with uncertain connections -
no one was in overall charge.  The diffusion of responsibility and the lack
of clarity, more than anything, was responsible for the mess.

In this context, the European Union probably does its greatest damage just
by existing.  It dilutes and confuses lines of authority and responsibility.
In so doing, it creates a vacuum of power, rather than surfeit, which is
exploited by those lesser beings who have their own agendas, the Commission
officials, the SVC members, Council representatives and the self-important,
posturing phalanxes of MEPs, all of whom feel they have a right to meddle in
our affairs.

But, if there is an even more damning aspect to the EU, it is that it
permits domestic civil servants to dispense with the tiresome apparatus of
democracy.  Should they be blocked in their designs by ministers, they can
simply turn to their colleagues in 'Europe' who will obligingly prepare the
necessary legislation which will allow them to circumvent their political
instructions.  Rather than 'Brussels' dominating our affairs, therefore, the
true masters are our civil servants who use the EU for their own purposes.
The politicians are still allowed to posture and pontificate, for all the
world like puppets in a Punch and Judy show.  They may squeak and squawk but
their power has been drained from them by the unseen puppet-masters, those
smiling 'Sir Humphreys' who have at last found a way of saying 'No
Minister'.  Their catch-all phrase had become 'Brussels wouldn't allow it'."

This seems to be compounded by an absolute determination to ignore what is
obvious, viz (from the same source):

"So tortuous and contentious is the EU issue that we have almost reached a
stage where it has become a taboo subject.  Many commentators simply ignore
it altogether, for all the world behaving as if they were attending a
surreal cocktail party where an elephant dominates the centre of the room,
crapping on the carpet.  They all behave as if it was not there and step
over the steaming piles without comment."

ENDS


And on similar theme from Bonnie:


Was it the Chinese blessing or curse that wishes you to "live in interesting
times"? Whichever, we're certainly in them!

I was reflecting on Lawrence's letter, appreciative of his reminder of the
the influence of "globalization" and its injustices, and about to write
something to clarify that in my analogy I was referring to the emotional and
political effects, not the literal causes of  FMD/WTC, when I came across
this by farmer/ecologist/essayist Wendell Berry.

The essay offers a perspective which makes it easier to see relationships
among the issues we're all discussing, and also a prescription for action
that makes a passionate case for the need for public inquiries.

Who was it wondered Why do they hate sheep so?


Thoughts in the Presence of Fear
by Wendell Berry

I. The time will soon come when we will not be able to remember the horrors
of September 11 without remembering also the unquestioning technological and
economic optimism that ended on that day.

II. This optimism rested on the proposition that we were living in a "new
world order" and a "new economy" that would "grow" on and on, bringing a
prosperity of which every new increment would be "unprecedented."

III. The dominant politicians, corporate officers, and investors who
believed this proposition did not acknowledge that the prosperity was
limited to a tiny percent of the world's people, and to an ever smaller
number of people even in the United States; that it was founded upon the
oppressive labor of poor people all over the world; and that its
ecological costs increasingly threatened all life, including the lives of
the supposedly prosperous.

IV. The "developed" nations had given to the "free market" the status of
a god, and were sacrificing to it their farmers, farmlands, and
communities, their forests, wetlands, and prairies, their ecosystems and
watersheds. They had accepted universal pollution and global warming as
normal costs of doing business.

V. There was, as a consequence, a growing worldwide effort on behalf of
economic decentralization, economic justice, and ecological
responsibility. We must recognize that the events of September 11 make
this effort more necessary than ever. We citizens of the industrial
countries must continue the labor of self-criticism and self-correction.
We must recognize our mistakes.

VI. The paramount doctrine of the economic and technological euphoria of
recent decades has been that everything depends on innovation. It was
understood as desirable, and even necessary, that we should go on and on
from one technological innovation to the next, which would cause the
economy to "grow" and make everything better and better. This of course
implied at every point a hatred of the past, of all innovations, whatever
their value might have been, were discounted as of no value at all.
VII. We did not anticipate anything like what has now happened. We did
not foresee that all our sequence of innovations might be at once overridden
by a greater one: the invention of a new kind of war that would turn our
previous innovations against us, discovering and exploiting the debits and
the dangers that we had ignored. We never considered the possibility   that
we might be trapped in the webwork of communication and transport  that was
supposed to make us free.

VIII. Nor did we foresee that the weaponry and the war science that we
marketed and taught to the world would become available, not just to
recognized national governments, which possess so uncannily the power to
legitimate large-scale violence, but also to "rogue nations", dissident
or fanatical groups and individuals-whose violence, though never worse
than that of nations, is judged by the nations to be illegitimate.

IX. We had accepted uncritically the belief that technology is only good;
that it cannot serve evil as well as good; that it cannot serve our
enemies as well as ourselves; that it cannot be used to destroy what is
good, including our homelands and our lives.

X. We had accepted too the corollary belief that an economy (either as a
money economy or as a life-support system) that is global in extent,
technologically complex, and centralized is invulnerable to terrorism,
sabotage, or war, and that it is protectable by "national defense."

XI. We now have a clear, inescapable choice that we must make. We can
continue to promote a global economic system of unlimited "free trade" among
corporations, held together by long and highly vulnerable lines of
communication and supply, but now recognizing that such a system will
have to be protected by a hugely expensive police force that will be
worldwide, whether maintained by one nation or several or all, and that
such a police force will be effective precisely to the extent that it
oversways the freedom and privacy of the citizens of every nation.

XII. Or we can promote a decentralized world economy which would have the
aim of assuring to every nation and region a local self-sufficiency in
life-supporting goods. This would not eliminate international trade, but
it would tend toward a trade in surpluses after local needs had been met.

XIII. One of the gravest dangers to us now, second only to further terrorist
attacks against our people, is that we will attempt to go on as before
with the corporate program of global "free trade", whatever the cost in
freedom and civil rights, without self-questioning or self-criticism or
public debate.

XIV. This is why the substitution of rhetoric for thought, always a
temptation in a national crisis, must be resisted by officials and
citizens alike. It is hard for ordinary citizens to know what is actually
happening in Washington in a time of such great trouble; for we all know,
serious and difficult thought may be taking place there. But the talk
that we are hearing from politicians, bureaucrats, and commentators has
so far tended to reduce the complex problems now facing us to issues of
unity, security, normality, and retaliation.

XV. National self-righteousness, like personal self-righteousness, is a
mistake. It is misleading. It is a sign of weakness. Any war that we may
make now against terrorism will come as a new instalment in a history of
war in which we have fully participated. We are not innocent of making
war against civilian populations. The modern doctrine of such warfare was
set forth and enacted by General William Tecumseh Sherman, who held that a
civilian population could be declared guilty and rightly subjected to
military punishment. We have never repudiated that
doctrine.

XVI. It is a mistake also - as events since September 11 have shown - to
suppose that a government can promote and participate in a global economy
and at the same time act exclusively in its own interest by abrogating its
international treaties and standing apart from international cooperation
on moral issues.

XVII. And surely, in our country, under our Constitution, it is a
fundamental error to suppose that any crisis or emergency can justify any
form of political oppression. Since September 11, far too many public
voices have presumed to "speak for us" in saying that Americans will
gladly accept a reduction of freedom in exchange for greater "security".
Some would, maybe. But some others would accept a reduction in security
 (and in global trade) far more willingly than they would accept any
abridgement of our Constitutional rights.

XVIII. In a time such as this, when we have been seriously and most cruelly
hurt by those who hate us, and when we must consider ourselves to be gravely
threatened by those same people, it is hard to speak of the ways of peace
and to remember that Christ enjoined us to love our enemies, but this is
no less necessary for being difficult.

XIX. Even now we dare not forget that since the attack of Pearl Harbor -
to which the present attack has been often and not usefully compared - we
humans have suffered an almost uninterrupted sequence of wars, none of
which has brought peace or made us more peaceable.

XX. The aim and result of war necessarily is not peace but victory, and any
victory won by violence necessarily justifies the violence that won it and
leads to further violence. If we are serious about innovation, must we not
conclude that we need something new to replace our perpetual "war to end
war"?

XXI. What leads to peace is not violence but peaceableness, which is not
passivity, but an alert, informed, practiced, and active state of being.
We should recognize that while we have extravagantly subsidized the means
of war, we have almost totally neglected the ways of peaceableness. We
have, for example, several national military academies, but not one peace
academy. We have ignored the teachings and the examples of Christ,
Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and other peaceable leaders. And here we have
an inescapable duty to notice also that war is profitable, whereas the
means of peaceableness, being cheap or free, make no money.


XXII. The key to peaceableness is continuous practice. It is wrong to
suppose that we can exploit and impoverish the poorer countries, while
arming them and instructing them in the newest means of war, and then
reasonably expect them to be peaceable.

XXIII. We must not again allow public emotion or the public media to
caricature our enemies. If our enemies are now to be some nations of
Islam, then we should undertake to know those enemies. Our schools should
begin to teach the histories, cultures, arts, and language of the Islamic
nations. And our leaders should have the humility and the wisdom to ask
the reasons some of those people have for hating us.

XXIV. Starting with the economies of food and farming, we should promote at
home, and encourage abroad, the ideal of local self-sufficiency. We should
recognize that this is the surest, the safest, and the cheapest way for the
world to live. We should not countenance the loss or destruction of any
local capacity to produce necessary goods.

XXV. We should reconsider and renew and extend our efforts to protect the
natural foundations of the human economy: soil, water, and air. We should
protect every intact ecosystem and watershed that we have left, and begin
restoration of those that have been damaged.

XXVI. The complexity of our present trouble suggests as never before that we
need to change our present concept of education. Education is not
properly an industry, and its proper use in not to serve industries, neither
by job-training nor by industry-subsidized research. It's proper use is
to enable citizens to live lives that are economically, politically,
socially, and culturally responsible. This cannot be done by gathering
or "accessing" what we now call "information" - which is to say facts
without context and therefore without priority. A proper education
enables young people to put their lives in order, which means knowing
what things are more important than other things; it means putting first
things first.

XXVII. The first thing we must begin to teach our children (and learn
ourselves) is that we cannot spend and consume endlessly. We have got to
learn to save and conserve. We do need a "new economy", but one that is
founded on thrift and care, on saving and conserving, not on excess and
waste. An economy based on waste is inherently and hopelessly violent,
and war is its inevitable by-product. We need a peaceable economy.

ENDS


**************************




From the Warmwell website:


Oct 16 ~ We read with disquiet but no surprise at all after eight months of
similar tactics (although not directed against Bin Laden) "Blair tells BBC
to censor .....""
..summoned the BBC and other broadcasters to talks at Downing Street"...."
told to censor" " ... put pressure on television and radio news programmes
to be 'more sceptical' ....." ".. Government fears that it is losing the
propaganda war" "Downing Street's demands are expected to be made by
Alastair Campbell, the Prime Minister's media adviser...." ".....discussions
with the broadcasters about issues..."
Nevertheless, the Telegraph boldly concludes this article with "....The
Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Rev David Stancliffe, has become the first
Church leader to demand a cessation of American and British bombing in
Afghanistan. In comments that provoked outrage among MPs and churchgoers in
his diocese, the bishop said that the West "shouldn't fight evil with evil".
Many Britons agree with the bishop. Up to 20,000 demonstrators joined an
anti-war march yesterday in London, while a similar protest was held in
Glasgow."
The war against sheep and lambs, farms and farmers has not attracted
demonstrations by ordinary good-hearted people. The explanation for their
lack of outrage can, we feel, be at least partially explained by glancing at
the phrases above.



Our comment:   We also read a recent quote by Tony Blair to the effect that
he regretted the killing of innocent civilians during the bombing of
Afghanistan but that "unfortunately there is no alternative".  Sounds
familiar?



Also from the Warmwell site:


Oct 16 ~ A Plague on all our houses...Dot has been watching the
television...
I have just been watching a programme about the Plague of London.
Terrifying. The people just sat there locked in their houses and waited for
it to get them, without protesting. "It wouldn't happen now," said the
narrator," there would be riots in the streets."
Hhmm, really ?
The gentry of course left London, The government did have an inquiry some
time later, one of the two conclusions of which was not to site plague
burial pits near the homes of the gentry. Oh and they also ordered the
killing of all the dogs and cats in London, therefore allowing the rats
complete freedom to spread the disease at will. Good move.. Dot

ENDS

***************************

"Thought for the day" comes from Alan of Holsworthy:


The mean lord of the castle treated his tenants most unfairly. He was so
mean that he did not employ people to defend him who knew what they were
doing. He put his faith in the thick castle walls.

A respectable tenant, who was so fed up at the lord not listening, started
peppering the walls with his little cannon. This had little effect and the
lord leaned over the battlements and scoffed that the tenant was wasting his
time. The tenant, however, persevered and after what seemed a long while, a
crack appeared. The lord sent his general of the National Frontier Unit to
investigate. he also scoffed.

The tenant persevered. After a little longer another crack appeared and a
breach was made. The tenant and his friends overpowered the lord and his
advisers who gave no resistance.

These merry people then made the lord and his cronies listen to their
sensible plans and they all lived happily ever after.

ENDS


From Alan & Rosie