The difference between the British left and right

I’ve just realised that whether we’re on the left or the right of the political spectrum, as Brits we all share one political belief: that the country’s going to the dogs, whoever’s in charge.

The difference between the left and right is just that the British right believes it goes to the dogs slightly less rapidly under a Conservative government, and vice versa.

No-one actually believes any party, even the one they support, can or will do anything to make things better. At best we hope that our chosen party, when it screws everything up, won’t be quite as catastrophic as the other lot would have been.

Future Reserves 2020: what the Defence Secretary didn’t mention

Last week the Defence Secretary Philip Hammond shambolically announced the Future Reserves 2020 white paper, outlining new proposals for the Territorial Army (to be renamed the Army Reserve).

The success of the expanded TA is crucial to the overall changes in the Army. The new size of the TA, increasing by 20,000 from its current 10,000 to 30,000, is supposed to counter the reduction in the regular force from 102,000 to 82,000. On paper, the total number of regulars and reservists remains the same, so that the United Kingdom maintains the same military capability while reducing costs.

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A machinery of coercion

Describing the Mughal system of revenue collection on page 179 of The Cambridge Economic History of India – Volume 1, c1200-1750, Tapan Raychaudhuri calls it:

“a vicious circle of coercion helping to maintain a machinery of coercion.”

Never mind the Mughals; this is as succinct and clear a description of statehood itself as I’ve ever seen. And more accurate every day as the machinery of coercion improves in sophistication and reach.

You’re wrong about “internet trolls” – dangerously wrong

An item which I’ve been ranting about a lot over the past year or so, and which was scheduled for inclusion in Volume 18 of The Hate List, was the misappropriation of the internet terminology “troll” by the mainstream media. The rant seemed long enough to spin off into its own post on the new tombell.net blog.

Over the past few years, we’ve heard a lot from newspapers and the like about the growing menace of “internet trolls”: nasty, ignorant cyber-bullies who hide behind the safety of their computer screens and hurl abuse and harassment at politicians, celebrities and ordinary innocent people unfortunate enough to step into their sights.

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