Why is Hamilton surprised?

Here is Clive Hamilton in 2007 (emphasis added):

This is because the implications of 3C, let alone 4C or 5C, are so horrible that we look to any possible scenario to head it off, including the canvassing of “emergency” responses such as the suspension of democratic processes.

So why is he surprised that ASIO might take an interest?

In addition to the ham-fisted private spying on Boggabri and Maules Creek activists, undercover operations and intelligence monitoring is almost certainly being undertaken by Australia’s official intelligence services, although it ought to be more difficult for the protesters to expose spies sent by ASIO or the federal police.

Savvy campaigners now assume that their communications are being routinely monitored. Greenpeace activists, for example, are in the habit of turning off their mobile phones when discussing campaigns. They leave them in another room under a pile of magazines, aware that they can be turned on remotely and used as listening devices. The video and audio facilities of their computers can also be used for snooping by outside forces. Putting masking tape over webcams is now a standard precaution.

On the one hand he is probably being melodramatic and paranoid; yet having suggested that he and/or his associates were canvassing the suspension of democratic processes it is hardly surprising that those organs of the state that are specifically designed to monitor that sort of thing might be keeping an eye on them.

Update: Have to enjoy the irony. This is the same man who said:

If Australia’s security services are not closely monitoring the activities of denialist activists then they are failing in their responsibilities.

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83 Responses to Why is Hamilton surprised?

  1. Baldrick

    So who are the Lewandowsky conspiracy theorists now?

  2. Joe Goodacre

    Seems a bit of a longbow if that’s the worse that has been said.

    Probably indicates that we’re pretty safe right now if ASIO has resources to spare for Greenies talking about the possibility of suspending democratic processes.

  3. Sinclair Davidson

    Maybe they want to be monitored by ASIO. Makes them appear important.

  4. Isn’t it great to live in a country where troublemakers aren’t harassed until they actually cause some trouble.

  5. rebel with cause

    Hamilton clearly hasn’t read the ASIO Act 1979:

    17A Act not concerned with lawful dissent etc.
    This Act shall not limit the right of persons to engage in lawful advocacy, protest or dissent and the exercise of that right shall not, by itself, be regarded as prejudicial to security, and the functions of the Organisation shall be construed accordingly.

    So basically ASIO would only be interested in Clive if he has been engaged in illegal forms of dissent. Have you and your Greenpeace friends been contemplating some illegal activity Clive?

  6. stackja

    Lee Rhiannon has a Marxist revolutionary past. Does Clive?
    Many ASIO investigations were started in the past but of course Moscow was never cooperative.

  7. James in Melbourne

    I actually would not like ASIO to keep a dossier on Hamilton. It would feed his ego, which is already bulimic.

  8. Tel

    Putting masking tape over webcams is now a standard precaution.

    I figure, what are they going to see? I mean, I’m forced to go in for photo ID on a regular basis with driver’s license, passport, and what have you… so I’m sure government has my mug on file, probably many files. Then there’s the cameras in the street, the cameras at the train station, on the trains, on the buses, at the shopping center, at every ATM you ever go to, on most highway intersections, and so on.

    If they look through my web camera they can see that I’m still pretty much the same as last time, where “last time” was probably 15 minutes ago.

  9. Diogenes

    This Act shall not limit the right of persons to engage in lawful advocacy, protest or dissent and the exercise of that right shall not, by itself, be regarded as prejudicial to security, and the functions of the Organisation shall be construed accordingly.

    Does this rule out being paid to oppose things by say “Sheik Muhammed” (refer to Bagley & Hemmingway sting) ?

  10. Des Deskperson

    ‘Maybe they want to be monitored by ASIO. Makes them appear important.’

    Back in the eighties I remember two Maoists of my acquaintance almost coming to blows over which one was more likely to have had his phone – landline, of course, in those days – bugged by ASIO. Being spied on was clearly to them an important badge of rank.

    The irony was that it was during the Maoist’s rather crazed anti-Soviet period, when they were actually making the same sort of cold war noises as Frazer. If anything, ASIO would have been more likely to be subsidizing them.

  11. AP

    These people think a little too much of themselves. Perhaps Whitehaven wanted to know when idiots were about to put their heads under 20 tonne bulldozer blades. Ever seen a watermellon explode?

  12. Tel

    Being spied on was clearly to them an important badge of rank.

    Gosh, that makes sense. Build a ranking system around something unmeasurable.

  13. danno

    Excellent .. it’s good to have a hobby and paranoia is as good as any.

    “ham fisted private spying” is what you were meant to see Clive, it’s a misdirection game and amateurs fall for it every time.

    “it ought to be more difficult for the protesters to expose spies sent by ASIO or the federal police.”

    you’d never know about them if they wanted to be there, if you look hard, you’ll probably find they are your first and second level organisers, helping you “identify” infiltration. (girls can be “spies” too of course, pretty ones even .. horrors!)

    cell phone security procedures – from people who use twitter to organise themselves!

    government services have higher grade targets in mind, terrorists, drug smugglers, international currency scammers .. not a bunch of smelly nutters who don’t want progress.

  14. TonyOrlando

    you’d never know about them if they wanted to be there

    You flatter yourselves, I always found they stuck out a mile.

  15. Infidel Tiger

    Putting masking tape over webcams is now a standard precaution.

    Watching ageing Marxists jerk off has got to be one of the hardships of the spying game.

  16. TonyOrlando

    In my (limited) experience it is best to not to identify them.
    1. You can never prove it and it is pointlessly disruptive
    2. At least you know who and where they are.
    I think wikileaks got a particularly bad infection though – it helps explains some of Assange’s more idiotic decisions.

  17. Tel

    government services have higher grade targets in mind, terrorists, drug smugglers, international currency scammers .. not a bunch of smelly nutters who don’t want progress.

    That explains how they stopped the drug trade dead in it’s tracks. No money to be made there.

    Terrorism? You just never hear about it any more, once government got onto the case.

    As for international currency scams, maaaaate, can I sell you some shares in the Federal Reserve? Special price :-) No? How about the ECB? Even better price!

  18. .

    Des Deskperson
    #1333787, posted on June 4, 2014 at 9:57 pm
    ‘Maybe they want to be monitored by ASIO. Makes them appear important.’

    Back in the eighties I remember two Maoists of my acquaintance almost coming to blows over which one was more likely to have had his phone – landline, of course, in those days – bugged by ASIO. Being spied on was clearly to them an important badge of rank.

    The irony was that it was during the Maoist’s rather crazed anti-Soviet period, when they were actually making the same sort of cold war noises as Frazer. If anything, ASIO would have been more likely to be subsidizing them.

    Who says the APS is boring? That was a pisser.

  19. danno

    TonyOrlando You flatter yourselves, I always found they stuck out a mile

    yep, you’re so clever ..

    Tel, the drug trade goes on, no one claims they have stopped it have they? Or any of the other crimes, yet you behave as if everyone but you is stupid .. of course, you’re also .. so clever

    ha ha what was I thinking, you are all clearly able to out think intelligence professionals, after all they are all just a bunch of klutzes compared to you ..

    as you were

  20. TonyOrlando

    ha ha what was I thinking, you are all clearly able to out think intelligence professionals, after all they are all just a bunch of klutzes compared to you ..

    You don’t become an intelligence professional by being smart – in fact if you were smart you wouldn’t want to do that kind of job. That is why they are full of second-raters – a confederacy of dunces.

  21. JC

    Isn’t Happy Hamilton independent? I once heard Tubbsie Milne describe the Climate Authoritarians as an independent body. If so then what the hell is that poor excuse for human being sitting on that board?

    Combet has a great deal to answer for- including his trip to France with his ABC squeeze.

    What I find remarkable is how none of the authoritarians have tendered their resignation despite the fact that the government has informed them in no uncertain terms that it would be shut down like the Flannery Commission. Their “advice” is ignored which means every single one of them is collecting taxpayer money to sit there and do nothing.

    Where are the ethics? Hamilton is supposedly a “perfessor” of ethics. Someone ought to ask him how ethical he feels glomming not one but two taxpayer funded pay cheques.

  22. egg_

    Putting masking tape over webcams is now a standard precaution.

    I figure, what are they going to see?

    Isn’t Clive a cybersex advocate – maybe he’ll wear a mask?

  23. .

    TonyOrlando
    #1333846, posted on June 4, 2014 at 10:54 pm
    ha ha what was I thinking, you are all clearly able to out think intelligence professionals, after all they are all just a bunch of klutzes compared to you ..

    You don’t become an intelligence professional by being smart – in fact if you were smart you wouldn’t want to do that kind of job. That is why they are full of second-raters – a confederacy of dunces.

    Tell us more Tony. Tell us how ASIO selects people. Do they pick up kids who can’t read and write, for example?

  24. oldsalt

    They have an at-arms-length recruitment agency now which makes it harder, not impossible, to get their idiot kids a job. The main problem now is they recruit kids straight from Uni, techies with no life experience, and gender quotas. The yanks have almost forgotten how to do humint, too hard, takes too long to learn languages and build networks, they’ve become too lazy and want quick fixes with sigint. And most, not all, the leaks are sigint kids. The Brits are still excellent lying duplicitous backstabbing bastards and do humint well, having had centuries of experience practicing on their colonial subjects. We’ve become more like the yanks, too lazy to invest half a lifetime developing networks. Take a squiz at the list of Indonesians who had their coms monitored. People who’d studied at our Unis. And we still didn’t know what they were thinking. Pathetic isn’t it.

  25. TonyOrlando

    Tell us more Tony. Tell us how ASIO selects people. Do they pick up kids who can’t read and write, for example?

    Clearly we have a different definition of what characterizes second rate!
    Given the difficulty you had with the concept of plugging ATO tax rates into an excel spreadsheet, I expect being able to read without mouthing the words represents the pinnacle of intellectual achievement.

  26. cohenite

    Clive is a bog standard chardonnay socialist; so cognitively dissonant that he advocates the suspension of the democratic structure which nurtures useless turds like him.

    Credit where credit is due though; he has had the wit to fasten himself to a cause which has captured the attention of the hoi polio, although that is fading, and the equally witless political class which can recognise a great method of extracting funds and regulating the punters.

    Third-raters like Hamilton have benefited in every way from AGW especially in having their egos stroked. They are not going to let go of this and we can look forward to not only pronouncements about ASIO but more outrageous acts and statements because the system has not yet woken up to the fact that AGW is a rest-home for malcontents and has not yet curtailed these people in a way ordinary citizens would be curtailed if they went around breaking and destroying private and public property and generally wrecking the joint.

  27. TonyOrlando

    The Brits are still excellent lying duplicitous backstabbing bastards

    Yeah but being lying duplicitous backstabbing bastards is more about organisational culture, it doesn’t mean you would do very well in the real world.

    Basically they attract people who need a hand up – people whose ambition doesn’t match their gifts.

  28. Aristogeiton

    cohenite
    #1333871, posted on June 4, 2014 at 11:29 pm
    [...]
    Credit where credit is due though; he has had the wit to fasten himself to a cause which has captured the attention of the hoi polio

    Pet peeve, but οἱ (hoi) is the nominative plural of the article in the Greek, so ‘the’ is redundant.

  29. JC

    Hi Clive:

    I emailed you once before, which you may or may not recall, requesting information pertaining to your status as a climate authoritarian Is that the correct term? As you are aware, the government isn’t listening to any advice from the Authority and in fact wants to fire all of you soon as possible. How does all this sit with the fact that you’re still presumably drawing a taxpayer funded salary and supposedly teaching ethics? Furthermore, wouldn’t the more ethical thing be to resign, seeing it would save the taxpayer money, particularly at present, when the budget is in deficit and money is fiscally tight.

    As an ethics professor I’m sure you’ve bounced this issue about in your head numerous times and would be interesting in hearing what you’ve come up with. Has anyone asked you these very questions in class?

    Kind Regards

  30. JC

    Just emailed him the above and looking forward to a reply, but I’m not holding my breath.

  31. oldsalt

    They don’t have to be super smart. They just have to be good at what they do. They drink piss munch pies and watch the footy like everybody else. It’s not a job you can be a little bit good at, if you’re no good you get sprung early. They’re generalists, not experts, continually reinventing somebody else’s wheel, lost in the black hole of Institutional memory so they set the bar low for themselves and keep their desk careers when they’re busted. As soon as someone’s any good they get moved on. Our media, which has no real investigative tradition, sets the bar far too low for them.

  32. Ren Hoek

    Whalesong voice disguises needed.
    Problem solved.

  33. .

    TonyOrlando
    #1333870, posted on June 4, 2014 at 11:28 pm
    Tell us more Tony. Tell us how ASIO selects people. Do they pick up kids who can’t read and write, for example?

    Clearly we have a different definition of what characterizes second rate!
    Given the difficulty you had with the concept of plugging ATO tax rates into an excel spreadsheet, I expect being able to read without mouthing the words represents the pinnacle of intellectual achievement.

    Oh so Tony you were bullshitting about the tax rates too were you? You didn’t even say where you sourced the data from.

    Thanks champion.

  34. .

    Tony Orlando also doesn’t say why the intel. community is second rate, other than he is an unqualified nobody who has done nothing with his life who feels morally and academically superior to “the man” from ASIO because he once read Stupid White Men and feels that ASIO staff are likely to vote for non-leftist candidates.

    You’re a real gem, Tony.

    You’re like our new Professor of Wrongology.

  35. .

    Why would the intel. apparatus want specialists Old Salt? Being able to read and write Arabic in the midst of Islamic terrorism? Biology or nuclear physics or medicine, or even IT? How could any of that ever be relevant to modern terrorist cells?

    Nope, they want generalists.

    ——————————————————————————

    This site is becoming flypaper for left wing boilerplate bores (and some race obsessed ultra right wing nutjobs) of late.

  36. johanna

    JC, you don’t get leftie thinking.

    Hamilton deserves the money because he is saving the planet.

  37. JC

    Johanna

    Being a kind soul I wish him well with the money he’s glomming of us and I hope he spends it wisely. Perhaps a hair transplant could be in the picture. American’s call them corn rows. Perhaps Clive could get himself some corn rows on the gleaming cue ball while he’s thinking new reasons to suspend democracy. in our present climate emergency.

  38. Talleyrand

    An old friend of mine was a daughter of a well known Australian Democrats Senator. They claimed to hear the phones lines being tapped and in those days the whirring of taped eck. I politely pointed out that legal intercept didn’t require much except some config settings on a telephony switch which are undetectable.

    Now of course legal intecrpt is all done in software, and I can buy a sold state microrecoder from Dick Smith. ASIO can simply bug these green activists with little effort. Still love the idea of Hamilton wearing a tinfoil hat to keep.

  39. Ren Hoek

    Goodnight all.
    Too tired to play connect the dots.

  40. Chris

    The sort of counter measures described are pretty common techniques used by corporates to try to reduce the risk of corporate espionage. And not just high end execs. For example when travelling to some countries, even low level employees will take throwaway laptops and mobile phones because the know how easily they are permanently compromised even if kept close by at all times.

    It’s not paranoid to assume that the mic and webcam on your computer are potentially always on.

  41. oldsalt

    133901 It is what it is. eg newchum seconded from one agency to head up illegal boats. First eureka moment is when he/she finds Sulawesi on the internet and realises its no longer called Celebes. Then find the smaller islands? Pronounce them? Not even SBS does that one properly any more. Next eureka moment when newchum realises there’s more than one Mohammad and Udin in Indonesia. Well fancy that. Of course, somebody could have told them that it was all done before 15 years ago and there’s nothing new this time round the nature trail, but by then another 50,000 people have come over. Then moved to CT to make the same mistakes. Generalists and proud of it. The specialists you’re talking about are contractors. And that’s another story.

  42. nerblnob

    There are some unhinged loonies on the Conversation comments. It seems like no obstructive or destructive measure against coal mining is extreme enough for them. Funded by taxpayers and mineral royalties, using an internet powered by fossil fuels, on cables laid by ….. horse and cart, sail boats?

  43. Denise

    Aristogeiton
    #1333881, posted on June 4, 2014 at 11:41 pm

    cohenite
    #1333871, posted on June 4, 2014 at 11:29 pm
    [...]
    Credit where credit is due though; he has had the wit to fasten himself to a cause which has captured the attention of the hoi polio

    Pet peeve, but οἱ (hoi) is the nominative plural of the article in the Greek, so ‘the’ is redundant.

    Thanks for pointing that out. Probably for the thousandth time. It’s like a grain of sand in one’s eye. Though Cohenite’s observations notwithstanding are always good.

    Bertrand Russell, that grubby old socialist, advocated that Greek and Latin no longer be taught in schools. Result has been that our English has lost precision and so mongrel weasel words have come to mean anything, whatever the speaker wants it to mean. The left has really exploited this. I remember well as an adult discovering the beauty of my own language. Like Keats reading Chapman’s Homer, though for the opposite reason.

  44. cynical1

    Clive is a lunatic.

    Sent the moron a tin foil hat…

  45. cynical1

    17A Act not concerned with lawful dissent etc.

    “Lawful” dissent does not include damaging private property.

    That’s where these filthy hippies could run into trouble…

  46. cynical1

    Yeah but being lying duplicitous backstabbing bastards is more about organisational culture, it doesn’t mean you would do very well in the real world.

    The Israelis do.

  47. Joe Goodacre

    Maybe they want to be monitored by ASIO. Makes them appear important.

    Agreed – possibly makes it a little more dramatic and exciting for them as well.

    Margo Kingston sounds like she’s playing Mata Hari.

  48. Tel

    Tel, the drug trade goes on, no one claims they have stopped it have they?

    You used the phrase “government services” thus implying that this exercise serves some purpose. If the purpose is not to prevent crime then what?

    Or any of the other crimes, yet you behave as if everyone but you is stupid .. of course, you’re also .. so clever

    Smart enough to know a lack of results when I see it.

    I suppose if the butcher sells me a stinky pork chop, you would tell me to eat it anyhow because only customers with certificates in animal husbandry, a PhD in nutrition, and three generations of farming experience is allowed to complain.

    Let’s just say that I would not be buying your “service” if I had any voluntary choice in the matter.

  49. Des Deskperson

    ‘Tell us how ASIO selects people’

    Years ago, ASIO, and the intelligence ‘community’ in general, seemed to be largely a pension supplementation and income support program for ADF officers who had been forced to retire because they reached a certain age before they reached a certain rank.

    These days (in my experience at least) a lot of the analyists are poached from APS graduate recruitment programs. Vetting, BTW, is largely outsourced.

  50. TonyOrlando

    It’s not paranoid to assume that the mic and webcam on your computer are potentially always on.

    Actually it is paranoid. You are right about corporates and traveling, but there fears are probably baseless. We always need an enemy and the inscrutable oriental with fiendish and cunning spying technology is making a comeback. But there has never been any proof of such schemes taking place – it is all on a nudge-nudge wink-wink basis.
    I mean considering how bad wireless is in Australia, do the Chinese also have a special superfast network that makes a secret connection to the laptop?
    It is theoretically possible to do such things, but not that it wouldn’t leave a trace that would sooner or later be picked up by somebody.

  51. Token

    Actually it is paranoid.

    Its not like the software exists & is common use.

    Whoops!

  52. TonyOrlando

    It is theoretically possible to do such things, but not that it wouldn’t leave a trace that would sooner or later be picked up by somebody.

    As always Token, happy to help.
    Actually there are better links to prove your point – there have been cases where stalkers have spied on people using their webcam. I am just saying that the inscrutable Orientals probably aren’t doing it as it would be picked up on quite easily.

  53. Token

    I am just saying that the inscrutable Orientals probably aren’t doing it as it would be picked up on quite easily.

    Really, Tony Orlando QC? Please illuminate us with your expert knowledge and documentation to substantiate your learned opinion.

  54. TonyOrlando

    Well to start with video streaming uses large amounts of data.

  55. Boambee John

    “You flatter yourselves, I always found they stuck out a mile.”

    They were the ones they wanted you to see TonyO

  56. TonyOrlando

    They were the ones they wanted you to see TonyO

    Uh-huh. There is no doubt about it, the security organs are legends – at least in their own minds.

  57. Boambee John

    “Basically they attract people who need a hand up – people whose ambition doesn’t match their gifts.”

    I think you’re talking about people who infest the various PC “progressive” organisations funded by taxpayers, like the Climate Authority, TonyO

    I mean, who on the Climate Authority truly believes that their decisions really will affect the climate? Now, that is dumb!

  58. TonyOrlando

    Let’s just say that I would not be buying your “service” if I had any voluntary choice in the matter.

    Exactly. But we don’t. A case in point is Jonathan Aitkin who in the aftermath of the Berlin Wall coming down slashed the GCHQ budget by a third. Next thing he knew the Guardian had got hold of documents proving some misconduct during arms sales with Saudi Arabia. No politician will dare touch them because for most of them it will be career suicide – or at least a concerted News Ltd campaign against them.

    But as AJP Taylor put it:
    It would be a great improvement in every way when we got rid of THE THING. The country would more alert, more receptive to new ideas, more capable of holding its own in the world. THE THING is on the surface a system of holding its own in the world. Underneath it is a system of public plunder. Its true purpose was revealed by poster which the Chamberlain Government rashly displayed early in the war: YOUR COURAGE, YOUR CHEERFULNESS, YOUR RESOLUTION WILL BRING US VICTORY.

  59. Robert Blair

    Aristogeiton:

    Pet peeve, but οἱ (hoi) is the nominative plural

    I agree that it seems wrong.
    But the rules in English are different. In this case, as a borrowed phrase, it doesn’t retain the full Greek grammar and meaning. It becomes what English usage says it is. Harsh, and probably illegal if words were property or people.

    Whatever the academics may think or say, or command, that is how English works. Review the history of the word “Gay”.
    Originally innocuous, then dragooned into service by the PC mafia to eradicate “poofter”, “faggot”, “shirt-lifter” etc. Now on the way to becoming a well popular slur, and already on several PC “banned” lists (mostly schools).

    Another example is the negative. In the earlier demotic of England a double or triple negative simply emphasized the negativity of the statement.

    Then the Oxbridge grammarians helpfully “defined” official English for us (round about when dictionaries were first laid down), and decided they must impose the grammar rules of Latin over the free-wheeling road movie that is English.

    Of course it didn’t work all that well, and to be honest, English didn’t pay that much attention to it.

    You can see natural demotic, informed by the “natural” laws of grammar, all over the place. Usually it is dismissed as uneducated slang, street talk whatever.
    But a double negative in those languages doesn’t add up to a positive.

    BTW, is it the Greek or English meaning of “oi Polloi” that implies “ignorant mass of people”, rather than just “the people”, ie, those of the polis, or polity?

  60. JakartaJaap

    TonyO, I can give you a concrete example of a senior exec from a flagship multinational who had porn downloaded onto his computer at the last minutes of a ten day visit to China (2003). Luckily he turned the PC on in his hotel room just before heading to the airport and picked up the download. I won’t detail his next steps, but when he got to the airport Immigration and Customs demanded to search his computer. Their frustration was obvious as there was nothing. He was grilled and almost missed the connection. You are not being paranoid, they are out to get you.

  61. TonyOrlando

    You can give an example but you haven’t.

    There are no stories that I am aware of senior execs from flagship multinational being arrested at Chinese airports for having porn on their computer.

    Probably your gentleman friend had just come with an ingenious story for the wife/corporate IT department – it wasn’t me – the Chinese put it there!

  62. Tel

    I mean considering how bad wireless is in Australia, do the Chinese also have a special superfast network that makes a secret connection to the laptop?

    You never asked yourself why those networks run so slow — choked with pervy Chinese agents. That’s why this country absolutely needs NBN, so that ASIO gets more of a look in. At the rate the government is building it, out grandchildren could be facing some difficult privacy issues.

  63. Roger

    Bertrand Russell, that grubby old socialist, advocated that Greek and Latin no longer be taught in schools. Result has been that our English has lost precision and so mongrel weasel words have come to mean anything, whatever the speaker wants it to mean. The left has really exploited this. I remember well as an adult discovering the beauty of my own language. Like Keats reading Chapman’s Homer, though for the opposite reason.

    Good for you, Denise. There’s a case to be made that the loss of Latin and Greek has been a crucial factor not only in the decline of the English language but also in the ability to think clearly. I wonder if even Bertrand Russell wouldn’t reconsider Greek is now studied mainly in theological colleges (although in its Koine form), but it is encouraging to see a modest revival of Latin in some high schools. Actually, I believe there are more students of Latin than Chinese in Australian high schools, so the core of our civilisation may yet be saved from the encroaching barbarism just as the Irish monks managed to do in the last Dark Age.

  64. Roger

    Correction – I wonder if even Bertrand Russell wouldn’t reconsider his view if he could see that decline today?

  65. .

    Latin and Chinese, Roger. That would be the way to go. It would help the pool of talent the intel. community can get too.

  66. οἱ πολλοί means “the many”—as opposed to οἱ ὀλιγοί, “the few” or οἱ ἀριστοί, “the best”—and has always, in Greek and English, had connotations (at least for those who regard themselves as the cream) of the ignorant masses, mobile vulgus, or the swinish multitude. The word has no etymological connection with πόλις, “city”.
    It is a common but erroneous charge that “Oxbridge grammarians […] decided they must impose the grammar rules of Latin over […] English”.

  67. Robert Blair

    Roger:

    the loss of Latin and Greek has been a crucial factor not only in the decline of the English language but also in the ability to think clearly

    I think that when Eric Arthur Blair (those Blair’s pop up everywhere) wrote Animal Farm and 1984 Latin and Greek were still mandatory in tertiary studies in Britain (and the Anglosphere).

    The entire plot of those two novels dissolves if not for the corruption of the language for political purpose.

    And the idea of corrupting the language for that purpose was born in the USSR, and exported all over the globe.

    In most of those cases the ability to think (politically) clearly was not compromised by the failure to teach Latin and Greek.

    Left to its own devices any language, supported by the “natural” laws of grammar, is a perfectly good tool to support clear thinking.

    It is only when Academics, inspired by theory, or political frenzy, decide to “improve” a language that it becomes murky, “like unto the shifting sands”.

  68. cohenite

    This site is becoming flypaper for left wing boilerplate bores (and some race obsessed ultra right wing nutjobs) of late.

    Not me dot, I’m just hoi polloi.

    One of the issues with people like Clive is that they still assume they are against the man. In the 60′s and 70′s hippies and the cultural warriors were outside the rope and fringe; those were the days when people like Bob Brown were being assaulted by the tradesmen of Tassie.

    How things have changed. Now there are no tradesmen left in Tassie and the fringe has grasped the reins of power; they have infested academia, politics, bureaucracy and the MSM. In short the fringe is now the man. And what an emasculated whinny tool the man now is.

  69. Robert Blair

    Deadman:

    Thanks for the Greek. I always thought that polis, polity, polloi all came from the same root.
    But I have “small Latin, and less Greek” (as the good Doctor said).

    I am aware that some hold that the charge against the grammarians is false. I think that is a position which is far from impregnable, in fact I believe it is more than pregnable.

    I have been accused before, on this blog, of hiding behind a bibliography to support my point. Well, sometimes that is hard to avoid, I am lazy, and I have work to do.

    The most scholarly treatment of the issue I have on my bookshelf is “A History of the English Language” by Baugh & Cable.
    They discuss, in Chapter 9 “The Appeal to Authority”, among various things:
    The “Vindicus Anglicus” pamphlett
    The influence of the Academie Francaise & the Vocabolario degli Accademici della Crusca
    Swift’s “Proposal for Correcting, Improving, and Ascertaining the English Language”
    Dr Johnson (of course – is it wrong to mention him twice in one post?)
    etc.

    The most salient section is Chapter 9, Section 198 “The 18th Century Grammarians and Rhetoricians”

    I can imagine someone like Dot completely demolishing the arguments put forth on the grounds that “there is no piece of paper anywhere that say they drew up a plan to impose Latin Grammar on English, and then executed it”. Which is partly true.

    But the point is that those people only knew one grammar – Latin. And that is the grammar they used. In many cases it can be shown that the grammar was basically wrong, and did not apply to English the language. Double negatives for instance.

    Because there is a “natural” grammar we are born with, in many cases it was OK.

    Which is why it worked as well as it did (actually not all that well).

    Perhaps it is best not to examine language to much, or “fieri potest ut Latine blaterare incipias”.

  70. Robert Blair

    cohenite:

    I’m just hoi polloi

    I don’t think so Mr Cohen. I think in Australia only Clive Palmer and select few of his stature, can claim to be “hoi polloi”.

    You, Mr. Cohen, are almost certainly a singular form.

  71. .

    I can imagine someone like Dot completely demolishing the arguments put forth on the grounds that “there is no piece of paper anywhere that say they drew up a plan to impose Latin Grammar on English, and then executed it”. Which is partly true.

    Huh?

    Some am I arguing against or not? It’s partly true remember.

    Double negatives are nothing. The logic justifying split infinitives is what drives me crazy.

  72. Robert Blair

    Dot:

    Huh?

    Pardon me for using your name in vain. You can choose your side on that one if you want. I think I could go at it either way.

    Given your “flypaper for … race-obsessed …” we could get into an entomologically-slanted etymological discussion y’know.

  73. cohenite

    Clive Palmer hoi polloi?

    Fat rich bastard polloi more likely.

  74. JakartaJaap

    TonyO, you don’t read, write or speak Chinese, which I do, and while I wasn’t with the colleague concerned at the time that is what happened. I’m not sure whether you live in Wyallong or West Wyallong but possibly international experience and smarts are beyond you. Clearly you don’t travel to or work in China – the Asian Century is passing you by, cobber – for if you did you’d be aware of the necessary and stringent precautions insisted on by Governments and corporations for secure control of communications and computers in all their forms in China. Why are you ignorant of this and the ever growing volume of horror stories about those who didn’t take those precautions? Do you have any kind of a job? Do you read? Just askin’…

  75. .

    Given your “flypaper for … race-obsessed …” we could get into an entomologically-slanted etymological discussion y’know.

    No seriously there was a bloke who turned up and started talking about mixed race marriages.

    As if anyone has cared in the last 40 years.

    The lefty trolls are far more predictable. They’re basically little clones.

  76. Robert Blair

    Dot:

    bloke who turned up and started talking about mixed race marriages

    Well, those concerns are well in the past now.

    THIS is what we should be worried about: Dont Date Robots

  77. Mater

    Basically they attract people who need a hand up – people whose ambition doesn’t match their gifts.

    How clever! Recruiting specifically to fit in perfectly with left wing activist groups…no training or cover story required.

  78. Robert Blair

    Cohenite:

    “polloi” means literally a lot of people.

    Clive has the heft, and chins, to back that up. I don’t think you do :)

  79. Boy on a bike

    I had a flat mate who was convinced the KGB was tapping our phone (Russian parents). It made them feel important that the KGB was interested in their trivial and boring life.

    They were completely nuts by the way.

  80. johanna

    BOAB, I think you are being unkind.

    Such fears were often well-based in the Old Country behind the Iron Curtain. They didn’t necessarily transplant well here, but it is understandable that people continued to hold them. The penalties for being wrong about it were very severe indeed where they came from.

  81. old bloke

    JakartaJaap,

    The porn would have come from a USB stick left, seemingly innocuously, in the desk drawer in the Exec’s hotel room. Common practice these days, leave a USB stick with auto-downloading software in a hotel room, visiting Exec thinks “I wonder what’s on this” and plugs it into his laptop. Before he knows what has happened, and usually he wouldn’t know what happened, his laptop is infected with porn and/or spyware.

    When he is caught by Chinese Customs and found to be carrying porn (usually kiddie porn) on his laptop, he is a ripe target for blackmail. That is why Customs were waiting for him at the airport.

    This is not an infrequently used trap.

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