Wednesday, 29 February 2012

On Nazism, Communism and the relativity of perception.

(Danish text of this article can be found on my blog for 28 Feb 2012)

During the summer of 2004 the Danes celebrated the silly period by having a heated discussion whether Ole Wivel and Knud W. Jensen, both pillars on the art and literary scene, ought to have confessed their Nazi-sympathies in the 1930s and 1940s.

It is clear that perception relativism often is ignored by people who should know better. Historians such as Barbara Tuchman (‘The March of Folly’) and Anne Appelbaum (‘Gulag’) have emphasised, that it takes very little time from the actual events till we either forget what happened or simply change our opinion or perception about them. This is not only because new information has become available or because it is physically impossible to ’think’ using the mind of the past, but it is also driven by a changed political and cultural situation, or in short: fashionable correctness. One just need to look at how we now evaluate events in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Ukraine.

It is possible that with the passing of time we obtain a better understanding, but simultaneously we distance ourselves from the realities of the day and thereby the conditions that formed the background for the opinions, perceptions and decision processes. Seen in the rear mirror it becomes easier to criticise, even though our understanding has diminished; we blissfully ignore this fact.

What if we actually had found WMDs in Iraq? (Perhaps we did – only, it was people, not bombs!). Or if Chamberlain had been proven right? How about the Ukrainians, who offered their welcome to the invading German troops in 1941 with the traditional bread and salt. Were they traitors? Tolerance, indifference and ignorance are closely related concepts, which, in the different world of the information constrained 1930s, muddied people’s understanding – just as it happens today with perhaps too much information; important decisions are still taken based on 20% knowledge and 80% gut feel – both in politics and in business.

No wonder that the assessment of events, 50 years later, risks bearing no resemblance to what actually happened. This is the historian’s eternal dilemma. The change in perception will always be coloured by the swings in political reality. Our perception will always be formed by our present knowledge and not with the mind of the past. Knowledge doesn’t transmit automatically and once lost, it may be difficult, if not impossible, to recreate later.

In 1932 a large majority of the Germans considered Hitler to be a rather laughable person, who was bound to disappear shortly. Very few had a more clear vision, like Hindenburg, who said: “This man will lead us over the precipice”. The perception changed just 1-2 years later, but to many people the question was still whether Nazism was a little evil with a lot of good, or a disaster with only few benefits. The Germans – and surely the Danes – disagreed amongst themselves about which side of the scales weighed most.

If one leaned to the ‘good’ side, society had moved from chaos to order, economic growth after WWI and the 1920 and 1930 recessions, work after unemployment, prosperity, motorways, Volkswagens and a path to regain national pride.

Perhaps the dark side was a little more difficult to define in the beginning, although the Kristall-nacht ought to have been a wake-up call with a tow bar.

The negative picture disappeared in a flood of prosperity and a feeling of national greatness, which was anything but wasted on the Danes of the day. One should not forget that Denmark and Germany were rather closely connected through culture, education and business. A large part of the Danish industrial machine was either a traditional supplier or a customer to the Germans, a fact that continued well into the war. It was Danish engineers who built the German submarine base in St Nazaire and strategic bridges in Croatia.

In 1975, when I worked in Holland, people often asked me what language was spoken in Denmark and even exactly where Denmark was. Is it such a mental high-jump to realise, that people were less well informed in 1935 and had their mind set on different issues? We tend to forget, that the last 80 years of information distribution, political innovation and global development were still to come. Dad worked, Mum was a hausfrau, divorce was immoral, children grew up being beaten into discipline, TV and mobile phones were science fiction if even that, the toilet was often in the courtyard and shared by many, and Jews were “ not really it”. These were the social realities in the 1930s in Denmark, where the characteristic ‘where few have too much and fewer too little’ was about to be invented.

The Social Democrats and their programme of worker power and emancipation of women had changed the political, social and cultural scene and more was to come. But there was also a growing feeling amongst many that we had to be careful not to go all the way towards communism. Nevertheless, a new balance had to be found, as communists were growing in numbers.

This fact, together with the leaning towards a powerful Germany and the memory of the recent winter war in Finland, where many Scandinavians had volunteered on the Finnish side, were the major reasons for a strong anti-communist feeling when WW II started. It therefore felt natural for many Danes to join the Germans and continue the battle against the Russians (i.e. communists) forming the SS Viking division.

So, how do we judge this today?

We know too much! Socialism was a way forward at the time. Perhaps Communism and Nazism were as well? Who in the 1930s could tell for sure after the wars in the 19th Century and after WWI? At this time Stalin was creating ’Paradise’, building a state based on collectivism, but did we realise how many eggs he was cracking while making the omelette? Did we know that this process made Hitler’s approach look like play in a sandbox?

Both sides had their protagonists.
What we forget, when judging today, is to eliminate our 21st Century knowledge and think ‘1930’!

When we say ‘Nazism’ today, it evokes images of suppression, persecution, concentration camps and war. That was not the reaction in the 1930s.

But what do we say in 2012 about Stalin’s extermination of more than 20mill. People – in a time of peace!! – and deportation of whole populations such as the Kalmyks and Tartars? How about the collectivisation in Ukraine, that in 1933-34 cost over 6mill. people their lives as one of the largest human-created hunger disasters ever? Or being shot for possessing food in this period? Gulags? Systematic removal – back to Russia – in the 1950s of all industrial production assets from East Germany, Poland, Czekoslovakia and Hungary, maintaining suppressed agrarian nations as a buffer zone towards the West? And how about Hungary 1956, Czekoslovakia 1968, Stasi, Ulbricht, and Honecker?

Hang on a second! Did we know all this in the 1970s, while the cultural elite in Denmark was as red as tomatoes? After all, this was only 35 years after Walter Duranty, New York Times, had reported ‘no problems’ during his Soviet sponsored travels in Ukraine, in the middle of the hunger disaster.

A report for which he got the Pulitzer prize.

Why has no one insisted and told the Danish left: “You owe us an answer?”
Perhaps it is easier to sling such questions at the now deceased Wivel and Jensen?
How many of the extreme left in Denmark have not said “we didn’t know”?

Obviously, people find it difficult to admit errors, and in the political climate after the war was it surprising that neither Wivel nor Jensen had any motivation to express remorse publicly? Who knows, perhaps their feelings hadn’t changed. Self perception, survival instinct and adjusted knowledge and information could be determining factors. No one wants to stand out as a social pariah. It must be remembered that many people, who had been too close to the Nazis, had been executed after the war. So in short: with an adjusted outlook, one has to consider the consequences and the lie becomes an invisible friend.

Clintons ‘I did NOT have sex with this woman’ is a good example.

Despite the realisation that Stalin was nothing less than a monster, probably worse than Hitler, and despite the collapse of both communism and the Soviet Union, it has still not become fashionable to attack the communists for their misbehaviour. Perhaps we still haven’t completely digested the information in the KGB and Stasi archives, where evidence of a planned East German led invasion of Denmark during the cold war came to light. Perhaps there are still too many old extreme leftists in power or opinion forming positions? A minister in the present Danish government (2012) is the ex chairman of the Danish Communist party and under investigation for having received personal funds from KGB.

Then it was much easier and more politic to accuse the asylum seeking Kravchenko for being a CIA spy than to expose Duranty and his nonsense.

In the 1970s I was mentioned in an ultra-left anthology as an ‘enemy of the State’ – “Vrag Naroda”, a terminology with a very dark notion from Soviet times – due to the fact that I had worked in the Ministry of Defence. What would have happened, if Denmark suddenly had an extreme left government?

Nazism? Communism?
Plus ca change!

In our open and transparent societies we have the tradition of speaking up and to protest, based on our development during the last 200 years and our cultural roots in a humanistic outlook after the French and American revolutions. We therefore have the right to say to Ole Wivel and Knud Jensen and to many people still alive: “You owe us an answer”, but not to attack them from a position in a glass-house.

However, it is not just in Denmark that our concept of tolerance has led to a complete imbalance of what we accept and what not in terms of extreme opinions. A good example is represented by the Hizb-ut Tahir group. In England the Imam Abu Hamza has publicly encouraged extermination of Jews with a call to continue where Hitler stopped. It took the authorities several years to have him arrested, only made possible when the terror laws changed after 9/11.

The Imam Abu Quatada is another example. In 2004 he travelled up and down the country preaching jihad and repetition of 9/11. England is still trying to get rid of him (2012), prevented by the EU statement, that extradition to Jordan would hurt his human rights due to possible torture or execution.
Eh? Human rights?

On the other hand, the increased resistance amongst ordinary people against medieval cultures, in particular hate-preaching religions, tend to be met with silence by the media or even laws prohibiting critique.

This does not make sense any more. Where did our right to freedom of speech go?

The question is, whether our tolerance, normally a strong pillar in a democracy, will be criticised in the future. Is it possible, that in 30 years from now people will reproach us and say that we didn’t do enough? Or will they say: “You really managed that well”?

Personally I am afraid, that we will be considered a failure, as we are slowly abandoning the right to free speech. Without criticism, there will be no dialogue and the increasing undermining of our right to speak up will hit us hard in the end.

Relativity in perception has always existed.
A good example is the way medieval painters depicted the crucifixion – with soldiers in uniforms and armour of the 1400s and not as Roman soldiers.
It is important to remember this when we go to the barricades and shout “J’accuse”.

The right to speak up, think and express one self freely must necessarily be followed by the duty to defend it. It is inevitable that we sometimes exceed this right, but it is a necessary element in the exercise of democracy. The Americans manage this concept through their 1st amendment, but both England and Denmark are slowly putting a clamp on this important issue.

It took a little too long, during WW II, before the Danes began to protest. They made good money on the Germans! Today other dangerous issues seem to find people in the West completely asleep. In particular religious criticism is too often considered racist or political incorrect. This loss of dialogue stifles society and can be extremely dangerous if not modified.
But perhaps it is understandable, as we have not even come to terms with the past, the communist atrocities and Lenin’s omelette statement.
20-30mill. Russian and Ukrainian eggs. Cracked in time of peace.

In order to understand our thoughts and ideas today we have to go ”back to the future”. This future has been clear for some time concerning Nazism, but it hasn’t arrived yet in respect of our assessment of communism and fundamentalist religions, and certainly not in our understanding of the dramatic social upheavals that are going on in Western societies at the moment.

On 20 July 2004 the Germans held a 60 year memorial day for the assassination attempt on Hitler. There were many speeches and a solid attempt to unravel the built-in conflict: were the would be assassins traitors or heroes? The tendency went in the direction of heroes. After all, it was now 60 years later. But Schroeder avoided the use of the word ‘hero’, even though his speech clearly indicated this direction.
This shows how difficult it often is to change our stance and self perception.

In respect of communism, there are many who owe us an answer.
How long must we wait?

One also wonders what went through Kim Philby’s brain, when he sat lonely, isolated and under constant KGB supervision and censorship in his Moscow apartment, devoid of all civil dignity. The sausages and sour cucumbers that he served for the last BBC journalist, who visited him before he died, were a far cry from the Steak and Yorkshire Pudding in his local pub back in England.

If his pitiful existence had managed to bring about a level of regret, he didn’t show it.

Our species is a master in the defence of our errors and stupidity!
So, how could we ever expect two pillars of society as Ole Wivel and Knud Jensen to show regret?

Perhaps we should wait until our own communist top-dogs are dead. It will be much easier to attack them then.
Or perhaps we should learn from history and begin to think forward instead of complaining backward, concentrating on the issues of today!

Until wisdom one day descends upon us, we can do nothing but watch. The many immigrants, who now express anger and hate against our society and who left countries devoid of the concept of freedom, countries they didn’t like either, can now enjoy our benefits, order, security and social support – until they have re-created the societies they disliked so much!
People want freedom, but it is the first value to be suppressed.

As far as the old communists are concerned they are welcome to go on holiday to e.g. Ukraine, where they can experience the mess their political conviction created in an otherwise beautiful country, mentioned by the World Bank in 1996 as ”the potentially richest country in Europe”.

Long live the relativity of perception.

And long live the freedom of speech!

July 2004 (with a few changes 2012)

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Om Kommunisme, Nazisme og Opfattelsesrelativisme (Danish Text)

I sommeren 2004 fejrede Danskerne agurketiden med en offentlig diskussion om, hvorvidt Ole Wivel og Knud Jensen skulle have bekendt deres Nazi-sympatier eller ej. Dette giver anledning til at påpege, at begrebet opfattelsesrelativisme ofte bliver ignoreret af folk som burde vide bedre. I nyere tid har historikere som Barbara Tuchman (‘The March of Folly’) og Anne Appelbaum (‘Gulag’) understreget, at vi ikke skal fjerne os ret mange år fra det tidspunkt hvor begivenhederne foregik, før vi glemmer eller ændrer opfattelse – ikke alene på grund af nye informationer, som gør det umuligt at tænke med fortiden’s opfattelse, men simpelthen på baggrund af en ændret politisk eller kulturel mode, nemlig den aktuelle i dag. De skiftende vurderinger af situationerne i Vietnam, Afghanistan, Irak og Ukraina illustrerer dette mere end tydeligt.

I det øjeblik tingene er på afstand forstår vi måske mere, men vi har samtidig fjernet os fra de daværende realiteter, som betingede meningerne og beslutningsprocesserne, og det gør det uendelig meget lettere at kritisere tidligere meningsdannelser. Hvad nu hvis vi virkelig havde fundet WMD i Irak? (Det gjorde vi måske – det var blot mennesker og ikke bomber!) Eller hvis Chamberlain havde haft ret? Hvad med de Ukrainere, som med traditionelt brød og salt bød Hitler’s tropper velkommen i Juni 1941, var de landsforræddere? Tolerance og ligegyldighed er tæt beslægtede begreber, som parret med minimal information forplumrede 1930’ernes forståelse som de gør det i dag; vigtige beslutninger tages stadig med 20% viden og 80% antagelse – både i politik og i forretning.

Det er meget normalt at skifte opfattelse mellem hvad vi mener på tidspunktet og hvad der er opportunt bagefter, alt farvet af den gældende politiske realitet. For det første skifter denne realitet, for det andet er mennesker åbenbart skåret over den samme læst, uanset nationalitet. Endelig er det naturbundet at opfatte fortiden ud fra den viden vi har i dag og ikke med datidens øjne. Viden har det med ikke at transmitteres automatisk, den skal vedligeholdes, og manglende viden er et vanskeligt begreb at styre senere.

I 1932 opfattede en stor del af tyskerne Hitler som en latterlig person, der snart ville forsvinde. Få, som f.eks. Hindenburg, sagde, at “den mand vil føre vort land i afgrunden”. Senere skiftede opfattelsen, men stadig var det for mange et spørgsmål, om Nazismen var lidt ondt med en masse godt, eller godt med en hel del ondt. Tyskerne, og mange andre i 1932-35, også danskerne, var uenige om hvor grænsen lå.
Hældte man til det gode, var det orden efter kaos, positiv økonomi efter krak, arbejde efter arbejdsløshed, fremgang, motorveje, Folkevogne og en vej til at genvinde en tabt national stolthed, som dengang var et yderst reelt værdibegreb for alle nationer.

Det onde var lidt sværere at få øje på i starten, skønt Krystalnatten skulle have været en morgenvækning af dimensioner. De negative begivenheder forsvandt i en sø af fremgang og national storhed, som ikke var spildt på datidens danskere. Vi bør i denne sammenhæng ikke glemme, at en stor del af den Danske industri støttede den Tyske krigsmaskine gennem det meste af krigen, f.eks ved bygningen af U-bådsbasen i St. Nazaire og broer i Kroatien.

I 1975 spurgte man mig ofte i Holland hvilket sprog man talte i Danmark -endog hvor Danmark var præcist!. Er det så utænkeligt, at man var mindre generelt informeret i 1935 og en tid lang så mere på de store muligheder? Vi glemmer, at man ikke havde de sidste 60 års ballast af information, humanistisk nytænkning og tolerance. Far arbejdede, Mor var hjemme, skilsmisse var umoralsk, det var 40 år før M/K, børn var under disciplin, TV og mobiltelfoner var science fiction, der var lokum i gården og Jøder var “alstså ikke sådan helt OK”. Det var 30ernes sociale realiteter i et land hvor ‘få havde for meget og færre for lidt’.

Så var der socialismen, som med den nye arbejdermagt og kvindefrigørelsen havde fået tag i mange. Forstyrret af vor nutidige forståelse vil vi aldrig være i stand til at fatte med følelserne hvad det betød. Vi ved for meget. Den yderligtgående Socialisme var for nogen en vej frem, for andre en forbandelse. Hvem kunne dengang sige hvad der var bedst i 30erne? Det var midt i Stalin’s opbygning af en kollektiv stat, der ikke stod tilbage for Hitlers model i totalitær terror. Begge sider havde tilhængere, som med ildhu forsvarede deres opfattelse. Hvad vi glemmer er at filtrere det 21. århundrede fra og tænke 1930!
De Skandinaviske frivillige i Finlands vinterkrig og medlemmerne af SS Viking divisionen havde meget tilfælles: Modstand mod kommunismen.
Både Socialismen og Nazismen var nytænkning, som forsøgte at retfærdiggøre opretningen af en mislykket fortid, omend fra forskellige synsvinkler. Når man i dag siger ‘Nazisme’, tænker vi på undertrykkelse, koncentrationslejre og krig. Sådan var det ikke i 30erne. Hvad så når vi siger kommunisme? Stalins udryddelse af hele befolkninger (Kalmykker, Tartarer)? Kollektiviseringen i Ukraine, der i 1933-34 kostede over 6 millioner mennesker livet i en af de største menneskeskabte hungersnødskriser nogensinde? Dødsstraf for at beside mad i denne periode? Gulags? Systematisk bortfjernelse af produktionsmidlerne i Polen og Czechoslovakiet i 50’erne, så man kunne bevare stødpuden mod Vesten i undertrykte agrarsamfund? Ungarn, Prag, Stasi, Ulbricht, og Honecker?

Jamen tøv lige en kende! Vidste vi alt dette i 1970’erne, hvor kultureliten i Danmark var så rød som tomater? Det var kun 35 år efter at Walter Duranty, New York Times, berettede om ‘no problems’ under sin rejse i Ukraine i 1933, midt i hungersnøden. En beretning for hvilken han modtog Pulitzerprisen!

Hvem har sagt til de danske venstreorienterede: “I skylder os svar?” – spørgsmål, man nu helligt kan slynge mod de afdøde Wivel og Jensen. Og hvor mange venstreorienterede har ligesom Nazisterne ikke sagt: “Vi vidste det ikke.”?

Mennesket har svært ved at erkende sine fejltagelser. Det er klart, at hverken Wivel eller Jensen havde nogen motivation for offentlig anger. Selvopfattelse, overlevelse og det, at ny viden medfører nyt udsyn, afgør den sag. Nogle af disse udsyn har uheldige konsekvenser og så følger løgnen. Clintons ‘I did NOT have sex with this woman’ er et godt eksempel.

Trods Stalins forbrydelser er det ikke kommet på mode endnu at angribe kommunismens prædikanter. Dens fald er på for kort afstand. Vi har ikke fordøjet KGB og Stasi arkivernes informationer og der er stadig for mange tidligere tilhængere, der sidder på meningsdannelsen. Det var mere opportunt at anklage den flygtende Kravchenko for at være CIA-agent end at afsløre Durantys vås.

Jeg blev i 70erne beskrevet som ‘samfundsfjende’ i en venstreorienteret antologi, mit arbejde i forsvarsministeriet. Det var en karakteristik, man havde overtaget direkte fra Stalin’s standretter (Vrag Naroda). Man kan kun gisne om konsekvenserne for mig, hvis Danmark havde fået en venstresocialistisk regering.

Nazisme? Kommunisme?
Plus ca change!

I åbne samfund har vi muligheden for at råbe op, bundet i et menneskesyn med rod i humanismens opståen i Frankrig og USA for 200 siden. Det giver os selvfølgelig ret til at sige til Wivel, Jensen og mange nulevende personer: “I skylder os svar”, men ikke til at angribe dem fra en bastion i et glashus.

Det er ikke blot i Danmark at tolerancen fører til uhindret accept af visse yderligtgående meninger og vilkaarlig  undertrykkelse af andre, som for eksempel representeret af Hizb-ut Tahir. I England har jihadisten og Imamen Abu Hamza offentligt opfordret til at fortsætte hvor Hitler slap i relation til Jøderne. Det tog myndighederne flere år at arrestere ham og kun efter en ændret terrorlovgivning.

En ligesindet prælat, Abu Quatada, rejste i 2004 rundt med foredrag, der retfærdiggjorde hellig jihad og videreførsel af 9/11 aktionen. I 2012 forsøger den Engelske stat stadig at slippe af med ham til Jordan – umuliggjort af EU’s udsagn:”Det villie være imod hans menneskerettigheder”.

Hvordan i alverden kan vi tillade den slags?

Spørgsmålet er, om netop vor tolerance, normalt opfattet som styrken i demokratiet, vil blive nedvurderet i fremtiden. Vil man om 30 år bebrejde os, at vi ikke gjorde nok? At vi blot var konfliktsky medløbere? Eller vil man sige “Den klarede I sør’me flot”?

Min bedømmelse i 2012, 8 aar efter jeg skrev denne artikel, er: Vi svigter så det driver – ref. Islam debatten og par. 266b.

Relativitetsopfattelse i vurderingen af fortiden har altid eksisteret.
Derfor skildrede middelaldermalerne korsfæstelsen med soldater i 1400-tals uniformer og ikke i romerske. Det bør man huske når man i dag stiller sig på barrikaderne og råber “J’accuse”.

Retten til frit at tænke og udtrykke sig medfører også en pligt til at forsvare denne ret, men vi har et indbygget besvær med balancen. Dog er en overskridelse en uundgåelig og nødvendig del af demokratiets udfoldelse, så vi kan se om vi er på rette vej eller ej. Nazismen gik langt over grænsen og viste sig at være over-national og alt andet end ‘social’. Men akkurat som i dag ventede vi for længe med reaktionen: det var svært at kapere omfanget af ondskaben dengang, så man lukkede øjnene. Danmark tjente jo fede penge på Tyskerne! Der skulle en krig til at flå Tornerose ud af dynerne. Kommunismen, derimod, udpinte sig selv og dog vedblev mange danskere at acceptere Lenins udsagn om, “at man ikke kan lave en omelet uden at smadre æggene”.

20-30 millioner Russiske og Ukrainske æg, smadret i fredstid vel at mærke.

For at kunne forstå vore tanker og ideer i dag skal man netop “tilbage til fremtiden”. Den fremtid har været der et stykke tid for nazismen, men er ikke kommet endnu i den offentlige vurdering af kommunismen eller for forståelsen af de dramatiske ændringer i dagens samfund, navnlig i relation til kritik af had-prædikende mindretals religioner.
Den 20 Juli 2004 holdt Tyskerne en stor mindedag i anledning af 60-årsdagen for attentatet på Hitler. Talerne var mange og opgøret med den indbyggede konflikt: var bombemændene helte eller landsforrædere? var tydeligt svinget over til fordel for heltene. Nu var det jo også 60 år efter. Men Gerhard Schroeder undgik bevidst ordet ‘helt’, selvom talens indhold pegede i den retning.

Det viser hvor svært vi har det med selverkendelse og standpunkter.

Hvad kommunismen angår, så er der mange, der skylder os svar.
Hvor lang tid skal der gå endnu før vi hører fra dem?

Hvad mon der gik gennem spionen Kim Philby’s hjerne, da han ensom og isoleret sad i sin Moskva-lejlighed, under konstant overvågning og censur af KGB, berøvet enhver form for borgerlig værdighed? Pølsen og de sure agurker, som han serverede for den sidste BBC journalist, der besøgte ham før han døde, var en lang rejse fra søndagens Steak and Yorkshire Pudding i hans lokale pub hjemme i England. Hvis hans jammerlige eksistens havde fremtvunget fortrydelse, så røbede han det i hvert fald aldrig.
Vores art vil altid forsvare de dumheder, vi har begået, til sidste blodsdråbe.

Hvordan kan vi så forvente anger fra velbjergede samfundsstøtter som Ole Wivel og Knud Jensen? Vi venter nok også med at bebrejde vore egne kommunist-koryfæer til de er døde. Det er meget lettere.

Indtil da kan så både de og de mange indvandrere, der hader vort samfund, nyde godt af det Danske demokrati, ordnede retsstat, sikkerhed og efterløn – og bruge deres velstand på fx. ferie i Ukraina og Rusland, hvor de, ligesom jeg har erfaret det, kan se det rod, deres overbevisning efterlod i det, som verdensbanken i 1996 kaldte “Europa’s potentielt rigeste land”.

Opfattelsesrelativismen længe leve.
Og talefriheden længe leve!

22 Juli 2004.

[med korte bemærkninger 2012]

Monday, 27 February 2012

Old Danish Farm in winter dress, 2012

Jorgen Faxholm Lolland Farm - oil on board 60x80cm, 2012

Lolland, in the southern part of Denmark, is a windswept island with huge fields, where the main crop is sugar beets. If there's ever snow in Denmark, there will be snow on Lolland - resting amongst the furrow ridges made by the plough - if not just covering the lot.
This provides for great contrasts in the landscape.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Freedom of Speech, Islam, IRA, terrorism - more miserable Human Condition

A recent letter from the Metropolitan police stated – amongst other information – the following warning against terrorism:

"We at the Metropolitan Police Service have a key role in countering this threat, whether it is from al Qaida inspired groups or individuals, or Irish dissident republican groups - but we can only do this with the support of all our communities.
Terrorists live among us. We want you to tell us about anyone or anything you see which is out of place in your normal day to day lives.
We know you may have concerns about speaking to the police, possibly because your friends or family may find out. But you may well have information which could save lives."

Now I have 4 questions:

1) Why – oh why – should anyone be afraid of talking to the police?

2) Why would it be a problem if your friends or family found out?

3) Why do we have legislation that makes it punishable by law to report a radical Imam preaching death and destruction on Jews, gays, infidels, converts from Islam and people who talk negatively of Islam and Sharia - - and at the same time asking people to call the police about situations concerning those threats?

4) Who allowed our society to develop thus?

In a recent discussion between Richard Dawkins and a muslim cleric, Dawkins asks: "What is the punishment for apostasy?"
The answer is clear: "If in an islamic country: death"!!!!
Let's take the logic a step further.
The goal of the muslims is to establish the Khalifat - world wide supremacy of islam.
So what if England, or Holland, or any other European country becomes muslim?
How does the apostasy punishment rhyme with democracy, free speech and the western well established right to decide over one's own life?
I think the answer is clear - but do I now have to report the cleric to the police for threatening me sometime in the future?

I do not always agree with e.g.
- Christopher Hitchens (UK, US) and his blind spot for Marxism while fighting fundamentalism
- Geert Wilders (NL) and his ultra right stances, while also opening peoples' eyes for the Sharia danger
- Lars Hedegaard, a Danish socialist at the forefront of the free speech movement,

but I have great admiration for them as people, who stand up for free speech, exposing themselves to danger from increasingly violent intolerance brought forward by confused left wingers and fundamentalist religious quarters in a time, that should have been our “time of enlightenment and knowledge”.

Luckily there are a few other courageous people bringing mental health to the planet, e.g.

- Douglas Murray, Director of a UK think-tank, who has “inherited” Hitchens’ intellect,
- Firooseh Afsanjani, a Danish ex-muslim female artist challenging fundamental islam,
- Ayaan Hirsi Ali, an incredibly strong and vocally critical ex-muslim woman and,
- Richard Dawkins and Salman Rushdie, none of whom need an introduction.

Perhaps there’s still hope that the tide will turn?


Wednesday, 8 February 2012

West Swedish Coastal Landscape

Jorgen Faxholm: Swedish coast. Oil - 50 x 70 cm

- from a photo taken during a long forgotten kayak voyage.

A rare occasion of a calm sea!

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Global warming, Chaisson, Kistler, the Human Condition

I fell over the name Eric Chaisson, an American professor, by accident during my browsing of the Internet. He is probably best known, if at all, for his book “Seven ages of the Cosmos”, for which he got the Walter P. Kistler prize in recognition of his “increasing the knowledge and understanding of the public regarding subjects that will shape the future of our species”. Mr Chaisson is consequently a man of standing, whose opinions are worth considering.

David Archer and Richard Calvin, both recipients of the Kistler Book prize, are worth Googling as well in respect of Climate Change.

What really hit me was his thermo-physical calculation of the human impact on the Earth’s temperature.

No – nothing to do with the CO2 foot-print in the first place, surprisingly enough (or perhaps not), as the green-house gas slip remains an arguable contributor to global warming.
Chaisson calculates a forecasted rise in the global temperature purely through looking at the way we humans manage our generation and use of energy in the broadest sense. His ideas have apparently been published in several academic articles, but until now no one has wanted or been able to contradict him.

In short, it goes like this:

The Earth receives 120,000 Terra Watts (TW) energy from the sun.
Of these approximately 50,000 TW are reflected by the atmosphere.

In order to preserve a constant temperature overall the Earth therefore has to radiate 70,000 TW. This calculation looks at the Earth as a closed system, something we probably all can agree on, as nothing may appear more lonely and isolated than our rock, as it floats through the Universe. The 70,000 TW are used by this closed system to maintain every single process you can imagine on the Globe.

Apparently we dissipate energy ourselves to the tune of ca. 20 TW, which the Earth of course also has to get rid of in order to maintain the global "temperature".
Compared to 70,000 TW this is obviously negligible.

The 20 TW stem from human activity in all it’s forms: Coal-fired plants, air-conditioning, TV-sets, hand torches, manufacturing, TV transmissions, heating the kettle for tea – you name it, as long as they are generated by energy sources “tied up” in the Earth, e.g. oil, gas, coal.
I understand that there is general agreement about these numbers – wherever they come from!

However, as the Earth’s population presently consists of many more poor than rich people, there is a huge potential for increasing the 20 TW substantially, as technology, wealth and distribution accelerates. The energy presently spent by rock stars, celebrities, politicians, bankers and BBC Project Managers and weather forecasters (at £ 1/2mill salaries) through a consuming lifestyle is clearly set to rise dramatically in the future, as everyone else are able to jump on the gravy train --- in the first place from the BRIC countries.

Right now everyone is diverted into concentrating their attention on CO2 slip and arguing pro et con about the AGW-religion (Anthropogenic Global Warming).
If Chaisson is right, we are looking at the score board instead of looking at the game. No one else is spending time comparing the impact of the human presence on Earth from an energy consumption point of view. Chaisson’s calculations deal with an estimated increase from 20 TW to a potential 5000 TW in the year 2300, based on both an increase in the Earth’s population and a massive rise in general consumption, as we all get rich.

My good friend Peter Hougaard, another thermo-physical rebel, maintains, that the idea of an average temperature is a load of gobbledygook – and he’s right, so let us explain the potential temperature rise as “retention within a closed system of a lot of Kilo Joule that we also need to get rid of” instead.

There’s no doubt, that the effect will be dramatic, as the Earth will have to reset the energy-balance, now radiating 75,000 TW, processing a higher energy balance than before the human presence.

If – and it is a moot point –  green-house gasses can be considered a cause of “Global Warming” (sorry Peter), we could be talking about a completely unpredictable threat to life as we know it in a few geological seconds from now: around the year 2300 AD.
Just 200 years from now.
Nothing compared to our few geological miliseconds of existence on Earth.

Is there no light at the end of the tunnel then – other than another train?

Yes there is, Chaisson says, if (from an energy perspective) we use only what we receive, i.e. the 70,000 TW that we have for free from the sun.
Out with latent resources, such as oil, gas, coal and even nuclear fuel! (there's bad news)
Use only Sun-generated energy sources, including wind and hydro energy, that essentially are Sun-generated too.

If you consider this impossible, you should sell your stamp collection, stop collecting antiques and forget about CO2 and Methane, as something else, and much more threatening, is on the prowl.
Start enjoying life now and prepare for a very different future for your children’s, children’s children etc.
Even without AGW from green house gasses "change it is a'coming!"

We clearly need to think TOTALLY out of the box – before it is too late.

Mind you, Peter - the Ocean-level is rising; you will know if you live on Tuvalu.
The coral reeefs are eroding and dying, because of increased CO2 content in the oceans, i.e. higher level of acidity measured over the last 50 years.
And the polar caps are melting, so something is afoot.
But is it Anthropogenic?