G E Moore on Wittgenstein

When Wittgenstein submitted the Tractatus as his doctoral dissertation, G. E. Moore is reputed to have sent in an examiner’s report including the words, “It is my personal opinion that Mr. Wittgenstein’s thesis is a work of genius; but, be that as it may, it is certainly well up to the standard required for the Cambridge degree of Doctor of Philosophy. ‘”

Allan Janik and Stephen Toulmin Wittgenstein’s Vienna p20

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A Brexit joke

Brexit is as though the UK got drunk and accidentally unfriended Europe on Facebook.


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Two Peace Treaties: Brest-Litovsk, March 1918 and Versailles, June 1919

The Brest-Litovsk and Versailles peace treaties were two sides of the same coin for Germany. Germany imposed the Brest-Litovsk Treaty on the Soviets and then had onerous conditions imposed on them at Versailles. There are remarkable similarities in the two treaties. Both involved huge territorial losses and reparations. Germany extorted food reparations, which were desperately needed because of Britain’s naval blockade and reparations of six billion marks. Likewise the Allies extorted cash and territory at Versailles. Territorial demands were enforced but only Germany’s overseas losses were permanent. Neither treaty was successful. They failed because neither the Soviets or Germany were crushed and occupied. Brest-Litovsk illustrates the hypocrisy of Germany’s whining after Versailles.

Brest-Litovsk 1918

The Soviets were a military basket case in 1918. Germany didn’t so much win as turn up and announce victory. The Germans imposed onerous conditions at Brest-Litovsk. Trotsky’s resistance was brushed aside and he signed in March 1918. The Soviets’ territorial losses (see map above) were so great that German aristocrats fantasised about new kingdoms.1 The newly independent Ukraine was forced to commit to providing a million tonnes of grain (but delivered only a 173,000 tonnes).2 Germany demanded six billion marks from Russia: an economic fantasy.3

Germany in March, 1918 wasn’t a military basket case. Brest-Litovsk released Germany’s eastern armies. Fifty divisions were transferred. March for the Spring Offensive, which was designed to achieve land a knock-out blow rectifying the mistakes of 1914.4 The advance petered out by late April, 1918 and failed during August (battle of Amiens). Defeat was due, in part, to the injection of two million enthusiastic Americans. Germany’s commanders drew the obvious conclusion. They calmly informed the Kaiser that Germany was defeated. After four years of horrific warfare they couldn’t expect mercy from the Allies.

The only participation the Germans had at Versailles was signing the treaty. The terms5 were fierce and they wanted to refuse like Trotsky 1918. France wanted revenge for 1914 and 1870. They were pleased when the Germans considered refusal taking that as an indicator that Versailles was sufficiently severe.

versailles treaty 1919

From the French point of view the USA were flaky. Woodrow Wilson was out of step with Britain and France so they side-stepped his idealistic aspirations. The French were intransigent at Versailles. Wilson agreed with confiscation of German overseas possessions, but wanted all Imperialism to cease (see above). Two clauses in the treaty irked Germany. Firstly war guilt and secondly reparations.

War guilt asserted Germany’s entire responsibility for the war, necessarily impling regime change. Consequently the Kaiser was exiled to Holland. For the French this was a soft option. They preferred hanging him as a war criminal. More important was the imposition of reparations.

After the hubristic Brest-Litovsk treaty, 1919 was Germany’s nadir. They suffered a natural disaster,6 the continuation of the British naval blockade,7 massive unemployment as soldiers were demobbed8 and the humiliation of the Versailles Treaty. Political unrest with the Spartacist Uprising, January 1919, adding to the catastrophe.9 And it seemed unfair. Germany hadn’t been invaded and, apparently, German armies were undefeated on the battlefield. Reparations impacted on every single German when Germany was prostrate. The sums were enormous10 but little effort was made to pay them.

Neither the Brest-Litovsk or Versailles peace treaties were fair. They were a punishment. They were a victors’ peace treaty. Germany were less embarrassed by Brest-Litovsk than the Allies were about Versailles. Indeed there was debate about the wisdom of Versailles whilst it was being concocted. Neither peace treaty achieved their objectives but they showed what not to do in 1945.

1 For example the Kaiser’s brother-in-law Friedrich Karl of Hesse wanted to be king of Finland and the Kaiser wanted a further kingdom in Courland. Further examples in Niall Ferguson The Pity of War p409

2 Adam Tooze The Deluge: The Great War and the Remaking of the Global Order p154

In fact, ‘the remorseless, inescapable weight’ of reparations, Tooze decides, was ‘even more odious than the territorial provisions of the treaty. Unlike the loss of territory, which directly affected only the border regions, reparations touched every man, woman and child in Germany’ (pp. 280, 288–9).” Review article at https://www.history.ac.uk/reviews/review/1805

3 Niall Ferguson op cit p408 This was 4.5% of the amount (132 billion marks) the Allies demanded from Germany in 1919.

4 See http://olc.spsd.sk.ca/de/history20/unit1/sec1_04.html for a very quick summary. Bismarck devoted considerable effort at keeping France and Russia diplomatically apart so that Germany would never have to fight a two-front war.

5 See http://spartacus-educational.com/FWWversailles.htm for an interesting summary with a short discussion. See also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_of_Versailles for a longer treatment.

6 The Spanish Flu pandemic was especially bad in Germany. See https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4634693/ especially table 1. But as can be seen Germany wasn’t uniquely hit but nonetheless Germany felt that they were suffering an additional punishment.

7 The British naval blockade caused nearly half a million deaths by starvation and didn’t end until the end of 1919 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blockade_of_Germany

8 4.5 million German soldiers returned. This was also the number of wounded in the war alongside 1.75 million dead. http://spartacus-educational.com/FWWgermanA.htm

9 See http://weimarandnazigermany.co.uk/1919-spartacist-uprising/#.W37Q-fZFy70 In 1920 this was followed by the sinister Kapp Rebellion https://alphahistory.com/weimarrepublic/kapp-putsch/ They both failed but caused unease in the general population.

10 For a quick analysis see https://www.johndclare.net/EA7.htm


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The Pope goes for a drive in Washington

During a visit to America the Pope gets bored being driven around Washington.

“Driver! I’ll take over for the time being.”

Certainly, Your Holiness,” says the driver.

Because the Pope is infallible he starts driving like a maniac all around Washington. He dodges in and out of traffic, going eighty and cutting people off. Obviously he gets pulled over. But the cop stops dead when he sees that the driver is the Pope.

Your Holiness!” and he kneels next to the car.

Bless you my son.” Said the Pope as he makes the sign of the cross and touches the policeman’s forehead.

Can I escort you to your destination, Your Holiness?”

Of course. We’re going to the White House.”

The policeman staggers back to his partner who is sitting there bemused. “Who was that?”

“I don’t know. But the Pope is his driver.”


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Football Review: Dagenham and Redbridge vs. Chesterfield Saturday 15th September 2018

Dagenham (‘Redbridge’ is silent amongst hard core fans) have had a torrid 2018. The principal sponsor and benefactor withdrew support and with very poor crowds (a home crowd of about 1000 + away support) and mounting debts it looked like curtains. Over the Summer there was an exodus of players and the manager all of whom were replaced. Unsurprisingly the totally new team- players and manager- were strangers and didn’t immediately jell. The first seven matches garnered a single point out of a possible 21.

Over the last four matches we’ve achieved eight points and have begun to look like a team. After today’s match I watched Watford vs Manchester United. The glitzy ManU. with Pogba and Lukaku (£85M each) and £58M sub Martial scraped a 1-2 win. They played some wonderful stuff but it felt jaded- you expect wonderful stuff when there is half a billion pounds of talent available to the manager.

When Daggers do wonderful moves it’s a richly rewarding event because it’s unexpected. Today we saw a goal of beauty and charm. A defensive error left our centre-forward (Kandi) one-on-one with the goalie. He had composure, guile and skill when he chipped the on-rushing goalie and the ball floated delightfully into the net. That moment summed up why a National League game creates passion amongst the fans. The game ended 1-1, which is a bit of a travesty as Chesterfield missed two golden opportunities.

By the way Daggers have something in common with ManU. Daggers have acquired American owners. But they didn’t need to loot the club to pay like the Galzer family. Our American owner’s paid £1 for the share capital. They couldn’t loot Daggers because we don’t own anything. Obviously they’re fans just like me, which is a nice feeling.


The game itself reminded me of the Emlyn Hughes quip: I felt sorry for the ball.

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Really good medical advice

My sort of doctor


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Exploitation of public assets by London Borough of Havering, 2018

This year (2018) our local Harrow Lodge Park was subjected to two hideous instances of corporate exploitation. The flats can be viewed as luxurious, they are spaciously built to “Parker Morris” standards and with an envious view over the park to the City of London sky line. Over the last thirty or so years that we have lived in the flats we have become used to the Havering Town Show being staged on the park with all its attendant noise and parking nuisance every August Bank Holiday but this year two substantial differences have been made.  First was the so called ‘Soul Music ‘ event held over the weekend Friday 15th to Sunday 17th June. This music event produced (without any prior notice) to we residents started around noon on the Friday and left many of our elderly residents distraught.

The noise was absolutely unbearably  loud. The activity was at the east end of the park, where a large temporary building and stage was constructed. There was also a huge sophisticated lighting pinnacle erected to illuminate the area where  the venue was going to take place. The weather on that Friday was warm but all surrounding houses and flats had to keep their windows shut, to dampen the noise. On Saturday the event was worse starting at eleven-thirty a.m. finally ending nine and a half hours later. Sunday was slightly better as there was only four hours of music in the afternoon.

Later we learned all the surrounding area was subjected to the non-stop ear splitting, noise. So it was not just foisted on hundred and forty seven families that live in such close proximity, to the park. Worse: the excellent weather continued and we were forced to keep our windows and balcony doors shut. That didn’t stop the organisers from inflicting the awful noise almost non-stop. In speaking to other Havering residents I heard they also regretted and resented the noise nuisance and that was by people living several miles away. I’m assuming that permission to hold the event had been approved by the council and I would be curious to know  if the event organisers paid money to the council for using the park? Certainly ordinary residents of the Borough could not enjoy the usual quiet enjoyment of the park and its surroundings. I think this reckless way of letting out our civic leisure space could mark the beginning of a slippery slope where Havering Council’s  into privatising Harrow Lodge Park.

This leads to the conclusions, that (a) someone at the Council had prior knowledge of what was planned and (b)  that that person or person/s were negligent in consulting with our organisation, that manages these  three nearby tower blocks, that have been in the vicinity of the park for the last fifty years.

That privatisation thought was then supported when in this year’s August Town Show. The format of the event has changed dramatically, with loud wall to wall music. The difference this year was the weather was inclement, and as a consequence very few people turned up to the show. That however did not stop the event organisers from blaring out the music.

What will be next, fencing off the park perimeter, declaring the park as the council’s entertainment centre and charging the public to walk on the grass?


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