Almost without comment

For those who do not know Ireland I should begin by explaining that R.T.E. is our national state broadcaster- modelled on the B.B.C.. It has a left of centre bias, but it is run by professionals. If R.T.E.  says something has happened- it has happened- which is the only reason that I trusted a recent report on the R.T.E. website  that a poll had found that 90% of the Irish people believed that supermarketstesco_logo should be forced to  charge more for their vegtables in order that farmers should “receive a fair price!”

(c) King's Lynn Town Hall; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Lord George Bentinct ( 1802- 1848 ). A leading protectionist in the “hungry” 1840s

Well… now that I have read that the Irish people support the same policy of expensive food which so greatly worsened the great famine I have read everything.
                 ( In fact though it’s even crazier than that. The protectionists at the time of the famine were at least prepared to open the ports as a temporary measure. What is being suggested here is apparently a permanent policy. )


Not just a western.

Film Review: Wyatt Earp’s Revenge (2012) 

By Christopher Smith.

MV5BMTg1ODUzOTIxMl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwOTI0NDcyNw@@__V1_SY500_SX357_Superficially this is just another western, although a very well shot one with – in places – an almost French insistence on the beauty of every frame. On the surface though it seem to be just a matter of boy meets girl, of boy mishandling relationship, and as a result the girl getting shot by accident in the place of someone else…boy goes after killers and avenges crime..with a neat plot twist at the end…no I’m not telling… ( Oh yes for the record this certainly isn’t a plot, despite the publicity material, even vaguely based on the real Earp’s life.)

However there is something else going on here. The clue is in the first few minutes. A train appears in a sub frame..and we have just time to see that it is a relatively modern giant cow catcher…and no Indians…before it passes into a tunnel…And then we arrive in San Francsisco in 1907, with primitive motor cars moving decorously through the streets. In a film ostensibly about the wild west we are suddenly in the very grand lobby of the Fremont Hotel acompanying a young journalist who has just travelled on the train we have just seen across America to interview Wyatt Erarp ( who did indeed live on until 1929 )

With the help of extensive, and well handled, flash backs which make up the body of the film EarpWyatt_Earp_portrait then tells and reflects upon his story…In fact though the focus is more recent despite the fact that Earp attributes the violence of the old west to the wounds caused by the American Civil War ( I learn by the way on good authority that in the early westerns former Southern soldiers can be heard signing the songs of the Confederacy .) And in this film one of the badies wears a grey cap- a clear sign of Confederate loyalty..a reflection too perhaps of the fact that Earp’s father had served in the Union army.

But these references to the Civil War are window dressing. In fact as Earp talks about the need for preserving innocence in the final moments of the film it becomes clear ( or I believe it should ) that in this film the Civil War is at least in part a proxy for the Vietnam war…where another generation of Americans lost their innocence.Saigon-hubert-van-es Even more deeply Earp’s reflections in his suite in the Fremont are really those of all generations as they contemplate not simply the circumstances and choices of their own lives, but change and mortality too. As the “baby boomers” leave the stage we are certain to have many more reflective films of this kind. This one is a very good start.



B.P. and the rule of law. (Revised)

BpBy Richard Miller

Ayn Rand is not one of this site’s favourite thinkers. She was badly wrong about lots of important things. But she could sometimes hit the nail very squarely on the head. She was right when she spoke – perhaps at too great a length- about the importance of a creator class in sustaining prosperity.

She turns out to have been right too when she penned an essay entitled  “America’s persecuted minority: Big Business.” I know it sounds way over the top; and I thought so too until I came across a piece recently by one Danny Fortson in the Business section of “The Sunday Times” entitled “B[ritish] P[etroleum] losses appeal on bogus Gulf Claims”

The back story, of course, is the explosion that destroyed the huge Deepwater Horizon oil rig owned by B.P. in the Gulf of Mexico nearly  four years ago.images The blast in which eleven people died, was caused by criminal incompetence; and B.P. pleaded guilty. As a result of the destruction of the rig four million barrels of  crude oil poured into the sea wrecking the businesses of many commercial fisherman, and damaging the tourist business in the area. Quite properly, B.P. was obliged to pay for the clean up operations and compensation for the damage caused by their mismanagement.

This was tough on B.P. And for its shareholders whose investment plunged in value, and who lost at least one dividend- but that’s business. But so far, so good. No one is defending B.P.’s original mismanagement which led to the explosion. Indeed up to this point and despite its tragic elements, the episode may to some extent done good in so far as made it clear that corporations- like others-  have the obligation to pay for the damage that they do.

However the judgement against B.P. did not end the scandal. It was in fact but the prelude to another scandal. Not only was the administration of the court ordered compensation fund so hoplelessly corrupt that half its staff either resigned or were sacked. But B.P. also got a flood of completely false claims amid the genuine ones. For example according to B.P. some five percent of the claims were made on behalf of people who were dead. Indeed in all forty percent of the individual claims recieved by B.P. turn out to have been spurious.

As shocklingly, a construction company in Alabama put in claim- which was rewarded- for nearly ten million dolars despite the fact that its operations were two hundred miles away from the coast. And a law firm in in Lousiana was granted more than three million dollars at B.P.’s expense despite having made more money in the year of the claim tthan they had previously Quite properly B.P.  appealed against these and other entirely bogus claims.

However recently one of these appeals was rejected ( another perhaps more important one is pending). “We note” wrote the judges ” that the application of a stricter evidentiary standard might reveal persons or entities who recieved payments under [the agreement’s rules] and yet have suffered no loss resulting from the spill…But the courts are not authorised [ to use] such a standard for this purpose.” Well really! I never did hear the like…except, of course, that I did!


The B.P. logo 1958- 89

What we have here is the persecution of a minority through the legal system which woulld be the subject of general outrage were it directed at Blacks, Jews, or the handicapped- but which seems to be acceptable if it is directed against a corporation.

Yes, in this instance at least, Ayn Rand really does seem to have been right. B.P. is being treated like a persecuted minority.aynrand_AF

Let us hope that this unfair and foolish judgement does not stand. If it does, and the latest legal news- in so far as I can understand it- does not look good for B.P.-  then those thinking of investing in The United States have been given a clear warning…and oh yes, in the meantime show your support for the rule of law  ( and common sense ) by BUYING B.P. PETROL.

Provincial- so what?

“Provincialism is your belief in yourself, your neighbourhood, in your reality. Convincing cases have been made to show that all great art is provincial in the sense of reflecting a place, a time, a zeitgeist.”weaversm

The thought of Richard Weaver, ( 1910 – 1963) is too little known outside The United States. He was for many years a professor of English at The University of Chicago, and wrote the influential work “Ideas have Consequences” (1948)

Welcome to our site

image005 A very warm welcome to The Edmund Burke Institute’s web site. We hope that you find it interesting, informative, and perhaps sometimes amusing. The process of adding adding the archive material from the old web site is taking longer than we hoped. But such is blogging.  In the meantime we will be adding new essays, quotations  and links fairly regularly.

We are proud to be Irish; but we do not confine our commentary to Irish affairs. We have recently commented about events in France, Zimbabwe,  Sweden, The United Sates, South Africa, Latin America,  and Britain. We will continue to caste our net equally widely.

Our perspective is conservative; but not reactionary. We stand with Burke;edmund_burke not with reactionaries like De Maistre. We support tradition, but we  know that change is essential. Above all we try not to be stuffy. We support markets as a way of mediating between tradition and innovation, between producers and consumers,  and because like no other economic system they make rational economic calculation possible by generating prices and hence they promote the prosperity of all- and provide the context within which political and other freedoms can flourish.images

We do not believe though that making and trading – important though they – are the only things in life. We believe that the case for markets must be placed within a broader cultural and intellectual context. Our web site reflects this. We are committed to the importance of ideas in politics and indeed throughout society. We believe that a democracy in which there are not  vigorous even rowdy debates about all sorts of uncomfortable issues is of little value.

However The Edmund Burke Institute is not a propaganda organisation. We take our educational role seriously. We realise that the world is a complicated place; and that there are often more than one side to an argument. We therefore welcome other points of view. We are eager to publish replies to anything which we post here.

The Edmund Burke Institute embraces a wide range of opinion from traditionalist conservatives to libertarians. Consequently the views expressed here are those of the individual authors concerned, and do not necessaily represent the views of the Edmund Burke Institute.

Nor does the inclusion of any advertisement on this site imply that the Institute endorses the advertiser, its products, services, or claims. Indeed our readers are urged to be cautious about such matters, and more especially to take professional advice before investing on the basis of any such claim.

On McGrath and Korea.

By Richard Miller.

alister mcgrathFor many years much of the dialogue about the future of Ireland was caste from the from the molten metal of religion- even when it was concerned with contrasting explanations of Ireland’s poverty. For the Nationalists the origin of Ireland’s lack of economic development was easily identified – mismanagement or worse by London. For them Ireland had to be free before it could hope to be prosperous. Political change was was the crucial precondition of economic and national revival.

The Unionists replied that the political change sought by the Nationalists would rather exacerbate the situation by copper bottoming the power of the Catholic Church which they saw as being at the root of the problem. For the Unionists the backward state of the Irish economy  was caused by Catholicism. Catholic culture was insufficiently entreprenurial; and resources which should have been invested in productive enterprises were spent on churches and on maintaining too many monasteries and convents.Irland

The debate was prolonged and sulphurous; and may not yet be quite be extinct in Northern Ireland. But whatever the truth of the matter, and whether we like it or not the history of Ireland- and that means its economy too- has to some extent been shaped by this conflict on the borderland between economics and theology. And it may well be that it is a desire to understand the context from which these arguments emerged that explains why short the post which we carried about Alistair McGrath’s book “Chritianity’s Dangerous Idea, The Protestant Revolution, a history from the Sixteenth century to the twenty first”  ( S.P.C.K. 2007 ) has been viewed so many times

Certainly McGrath’s is a book which addresses a real, even perhaps, urgent need. Although whole libraries have been devoted to particular aspects of Protestantism, there are surprisingly few books which tackle the whole subject- perhaps because it is so vast. It was for this reason that  I  recommended  McGrath’s performance so heartily here, even though as I did so I was conscious of a certain unease. I thought then that the weaknesses I detected in it were superficial and that it was, in essence at least, a sound production.

However my confidence turns out to have been misplaced. What we have here is an excercise in intellectual packaging rather than substance. When tapped the wheel rings hollow. The whole book is infected with inaccuracy. For example McGrath spends a whole section describing the religious situation in South KoreaSouth_Korea___Buddhist_Temple_by_texantransplanted which he describes in unequivocal terms as being “an essentially Buddhist nation that has come to be predominantly Protestant” ( p. 449 ) Well to be frank..this is a load of…er well..cornflakes.

It is true that Protestantism has shown dramatic growth in Korea in the last half century and is identified with national independence and modernisation. Nevertheless Protestants still only make up about quarter of the population at the most. Another ten per cent of the population are Catholic, eighteen per cent are Buddhists, and no less than forty five per cent say that they have no religion although this last figure ( curiously ) apparently hides a good deal of traditional religious practice. These statistics are rough, as the various surveys give slightly different results. But they make nonsense of McGrath’s foolish claim that South Korea is a kind of Ulster with chop sticks!

Mcgrath writes well, and can often be fascinating. But if he cannot be trusted about a matter which is as easily checked as this, it is difficult to know upon what subject he can be trusted.  At the very least his book needs to be drastically revised before it can be recomended.

Pending such a  radical revision, those interested in finding out more about Protestantism should rather get hold of cheap second hand copy of J.S. Whale’s ( 1896- 1997 ! ) book “The Protestant Tradition” (Cambridge 1955 ) rather forking out nearly twenty Euroes for McGrath’s inaccurate volume.2790051