Bullying and Browbeating

I seem to remember that when some Scots started calling for Scottish independence, the British government’s response was not to crack down on Scottish nationalists, but instead it was to give Scotland a referendum to let Scots decide what they wanted. In the event, in that referendum the Scots decided that they didn’t want to leave the Union.

I’m not Scottish, but I can’t help but think that many Scots were impressed at the civility of the British government, in allowing them a referendum, and conducting it fairly and openly. And that may have swayed a few waverers to retain the Union.

Contrast that with the Spanish government’s approach to a similar push by Catalans for Catalonian independence from Spain. Some 40% of Catalans want independence.

Efforts by Madrid to stop a Catalonia independence vote, currently slated for October 1st, seem to be growing more hostile by the day. Earlier this week Spanish police seized control of Catalonia’s finances, seeking to ensure that separatist politicians could not spend further public funds on the referendum, and conducted raids across Catalonia to confiscate ballots and campaign materials from printing shops and delivery companies.

Now, as the New York Times notes this morning, Spanish police have detained 14 people during operations conducted yesterday which included the secretary general of economic affairs, Josep Maria Jové.

I have some interest in Catalonia, because from 2001 to 2010, I visited Catalonia every year, usually staying in Barcelona. I was seriously considering buying a house in Spain. The intensifying Spanish smoking bans were a large part of the reason why I didn’t, and also why I’ve never been back.

Now, gazing from afar, I can’t help but think that if I was a wavering Catalan, the bullying and browbeating approach of the Spanish government would push me towards voting for independence from it. After all, the bullying and browbeating attitude of the some EU politicians towards Brexit has made me glad I voted for it.

Bullying and browbeating seems to be the standard way of doing things these days. Tobacco Control engages in full time bullying and browbeating of smokers to get them to stop smoking. The EU, when it’s not trying to bully and browbeat the UK, is bullying and browbeating Eastern European states. And the global warming zealots in the UN are bullying and browbeating sceptics to take measures to combat the supposed threat. And Political Correctness everywhere consists in bullying and browbeating people in a wide range of matters.

Bullies are everywhere these days, it seems.

Perhaps it’s a propensity that is never buried very deeply. You want somebody to do something, and you ask them politely to do it, but when they don’t do it (because they don’t want to), you start to try to force them to do it: you start bullying them. It doesn’t matter whether it’s smoking, carbon dioxide emissions, membership of the EU (or Spain), or anything else, when you don’t get what you want, you start trying to force people to give you what you want.

It reminds of a Labour party activist who I once knew, who in response to a request from me to help out with a theatre project I was involved in, replied: “I’ll see if I can twist a few arms.” And I was shocked that his very first idea was not to “ask around” or “seek advice”, but to apply pressure to people, and “twist a few arms.” I wondered whether that was what it was like in the Labour party, and it was all people twisting each others’ arms. These days, I’m inclined to think that that’s probably exactly what it’s like.

It seems that, whatever organisation it is, it sooner or later gets taken over by bullies and browbeaters. So now there’s an army of bullies at the top of the medical profession in the WHO. And there is an army of bullies in Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth and more or less every other environmental group. And there is an army of bullies in the EU.

Historically, Hitler was a bully. And so was Stalin. And so was Mussolini. And so was Franco. But there were plenty of bullies on the other side as well. WW1 and WW2 might well be thought of as wars between armies of bullies. And war itself might be thought of as being unrestricted bullying. And if the bullying stops when the war ends, it’s just because one army of bullies has triumphed over another army of bullies, and have finally got their way, and have no more need to bully people into submission. Peace reigns for a while, and then the bullying gradually restarts.

All of which thoughts reminded me of a chapter in Friedrich Hayek’s The Road To Serfdom on “Why The Worst Get On Top”, in which he wrote:

“Just as the democratic statesman who sets out to plan economic life will soon be confronted with the alternative of either assuming dictatorial powers or abandoning his plans, so the totalitarian dictator would soon have to choose between disregard of ordinary morals and failure. It is for this reason that the unscrupulous and uninhibited are likely to be more successful in a society tending towards totalitarianism.”

You must either abandon your plans, or push them forward with determination. But the problem here surely starts when someone starts “planning economic life”? In fact, does it not start when people start “planning” what other people should do in any respect whatsoever? Tobacco Control has made plans for a “smoke-free” society. The global warming zealots plan for a “carbon-free” world. The EU politicians plan for a European superstate. And so on elsewhere in other matters. None of them show any signs of abandoning any of their plans. And so all of them are showing signs of assuming dictatorial powers, and disregarding ordinary morals. Any kind of large-scale social planning is always inherently dictatorial and totalitarian, and sooner or later this truth of the matter emerges. Once I decide what’s good for you, I have already taken the first step towards totalitarian control. It only needs a Hitler or Stalin or Mussolini to complete the journey.

All the mounting bullying and browbeating produces counter-bullies and counter-browbeaters. Donald Trump may have emerged in response to the bullying and browbeating of Political Correctness in all its forms, but Trump is himself a bully. The US left will have to find someone who is an equal bully to him. We have therefore entered into a bullying arms race, to see who can be the biggest bully of all. It can only be a matter of time before new super-bully Hitlers and Stalins appear.

About Frank Davis

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42 Responses to Bullying and Browbeating

  1. Seems to me the biggest bullies at the moment are the Brexϟϟhiteurs, indeed ‘bullying’ is the very definition of Brexit . The Brexiteurs can try and spin it but in the end it comes down to ME having my citizenship taken away, declared a non citizen against my will. No different to the playground bullies of my traumatic school daze who tried to take my possessions and my pride on a daily basis (unfortunately there are far too many Brexit-Bully boys to send to ER , which was how I dealt, finally, with the school bullies). The sight of PMT.May trying to bully and browbeat, hell intimidate even,not only the HoL but the Supreme Court told anyone watching what was coming down the line.

    • Frank Davis says:

      it comes down to ME having my citizenship taken away

      Citizen of what state? Being British, I’m hoping to have my country restored to me. I never wanted to give it away to the EU in the first place.

      • Except your country was never given away to the EU , it was stolen from you and me by the very same people who took the sovereignty of this country away from the sovereign over a century ago and are now busily removing the last vestiges of effective constitutional oversight along with what possible protection we had from them via the ECHR.
        You, and the other 17.1 million of your peers, may have not placed any great value on your EU citizenship, and as I see it you have, or should have, the right to renounce it and disavow Juncker and all his works. Forcing people to remain citizens is almost as much an evil (as we see in Spain and saw in Scotland) as declaring people non-citizens against their will (whilst my sympathies are with the Catalans and I support their fairly righteous (as far as I can tell) desire for independence I also worry for those in Catalonia who would rather retain their Spanish citizenship). But this is what happens when parliamentary democracy breaks down and The Mob rule the streets and Plebis-cides the chambers of Parliaments. This is what we elect MPs to a sovereign parliament to prevent.

        • Frank Davis says:

          it was stolen from you and me by the very same people who took the sovereignty of this country away from the sovereign over a century ago

          Over a century ago is pre-1917. I don’t remember Britain losing any sovereignty back then.

          your country was never given away to the EU

          The British were duped into joining it when it was simply a trading bloc. But it gradually metamorphosed into a superstate with its own parliament and president – something hardly anyone in Britain (or anywhere else) wanted.

          There is perhaps always this sort of conflict whenever anyone is a member of state A which is also part of union B. Which one are you a more a citizen of? And it regularly causes civil wars, as happened when southern American states (A) attempted to secede from the union (B). In 1914, the Bosnia Serb Gavrilo Princip was seeking the independence of Bosnia and Herzegovina (state A) from the Austro-Hungarian empire (union B) when he seems to have triggered WW1. I now fully expect to see a European civil war when states like Britain (state A) seek independence from the EU (union B). It’s probably why Juncker is calling for a European army: to suppress independence movements

        • Over a century ago is pre-1917. I don’t remember Britain losing any sovereignty back then.
          Because it didn’t and I didn’t say it did. I said ‘from the Sovereign’.

          Personally I took Juncker’s recent comments about an EU Army and the future of the EU as him riffing on Heine . …probably at PMT.May’s behest.

        • Frank Davis says:

          So who took the sovereignty of this country away from the sovereign over a century ago? On what date did that happen?

        • So who took the sovereignty of this country away from the sovereign over a century ago? On what date did that happen?
          Strictly speaking it was the Sovereign, who signed it away in all but name, piecemeal, on several occasions, but the 18.Aug.1911 stands out in infamy. In practice they were strong armed into it by the HoC. Although I believe some Constitutional experts still hold the Monarch needs not to give assent to any bill….we can but hope that her Maj is a secret Remainer and will put her crown on the line to stop Brexϟϟhite and the rise of bully boy fascism across her lands.
          Not so much “La Reyne s’avisera” or more “rien de va plus”

        • Frank Davis says:

          18 Aug 1911 seems to have been the occasion of the passage of the Veto Bill, which prevented the House of Lords from vetoing legislation by the Commons, so that it could now only amend or delay it.

          To the best of my knowledge, the Queen is in favour of Brexit.

        • Not heard the Parliament Act called the ‘Veto Act’ before but yes you’re right. It pretty much marked the end of the Monarch’s effective sovereignty.

        • Frank Davis says:

          I think that the sovereign powers of the Crown were restricted a long time before 1911. In 1660, when the Crown was restored after Cromwell, its powers were much diminished. It no longer had the right to suspend laws enacted by the House of Commons.

  2. buckothemoose says:

    I was quite disappointed there was a Scottish independence referendum. Being a huge Star Trek fan, I’m of the opinion that one day we need to be a united Earth. The way it’s going at the moment, everyone wants to split from everyone else
    The trouble is, like Brexit and Spain, those that find themselves in charge want to be in control and want to tell us all how to live our lives
    Until we get rid of that mentality, everyone is right to try and split from governments who think like it
    It’s going to take some serious evolution before we’re in a position to unite without the constant top down control of every aspect of our lives

  3. Frank Davis says:


    Unintended Consequences & Ugly Repercussions: It’s Getting Worse In Catalonia

    As NakedCapitalism’s Jerri-Lynn writes, the Catalonia crisis is accelerating, with Madrid’s crackdown increasing support for independence even among those previously not so disposed. This does not look like it will end well.

    Spain will deploy police reinforcements to the northeastern region of Catalonia to maintain order and take action if a referendum on independence pledged by the Catalan government but deemed illegal by Spain should take place, officials said Friday.

    AP reports that an Interior Ministry statement said the extra agents would provide backing for the Catalan regional police who are also under orders to prevent the staging of the referendum.

    But protests continue to grow and Rajoy’s actions only seem to solidify opposition…

    “I feel the way people used to feel during Franco regime. Nothing less. Because Francoism is still alive,” said protester Josep Selva, referring to Gen. Francisco Franco’s military regime that ruled Spain between 1939 and 1978, three years after his death.

    “The political reform of 1978 only legalized Francoism and disguised it as democracy,” he said.

    But, as WolfStreet.com’s Don Quijones points out Madrid’s crackdown on Catalonia is already having one major consequence, presumably unintended: many Catalans who were until recently staunchly opposed to the idea of national independence are now reconsidering their options.

    A case in point: At last night’s demonstration, spread across multiple locations in Barcelona, were two friends of mine, one who is fanatically apolitical and the other who is a strong Catalan nationalist but who believes that independence would be a political and financial disaster for the region. It was their first ever political demonstration. If there is a vote on Oct-1, they will probably vote to secede.

    The middle ground they and hundreds of thousands of others once occupied was obliterated yesterday when a judge in Barcelona ordered Spain’s militarized police force, the Civil Guard, to round up over a dozen Catalan officials in dawn raids. Many of them now face crushing daily fines of up to €12,000.

    • Lecroix says:

      With all due respect and IMHO, this is bollocks, Frank. It would take too long to explain how wrong an fake this whole issue is. Let’s just say that Catalonia was never a kingdom or an independent anything. It’s all a complete fabrication. And the minority separatists have abused the democratic system and other catalonians for decades now. They invoque Franco (who was never a true fascist) in order to justify their fascism. It’s all fake. It’s all NWO, as demonstrated by the huge number of muslims that been imported into the region and have been indoctrinated with separatist propaganda. Separatists are betting on the fertility of muslims to bring about “independence”. An independence that will only get their throats cut, first. They tried the same trick in the preambles of WWII, during the Spanish Civil War. They bet on the Soviet Union to help them bring about “independence”. But the soviets were only interested in communism and in the end, the communists fought the separatists and the separatists fought the communists. And they both lost the war.

      This is a fake issue. If any region in Spain has a right to claim that it was a region and a kingdom in itself and by its people, that would be Asturias up North. In fact, Asturias was the kingdom that resisted muslim invasion of the peninsula and the kingdom that brought about The Reconquista and initiated what in 1492 would become Spain.

      These modern separatists, are not muslim by the grace of God and The Kingdom of Asturias. But they seem to be willing to give their region back to the muslims today, in order to achieve “independence”.

      • Frank Davis says:

        Regardless of that, I think that it’s a big mistake by Rajoy to go about the matter as he seems to have done. As I wrote above, it’s likely to only increase support for Catalan indpendence.

        • Lecroix says:

          He can only do as the Constitution allows. And he’s being weak, for he could do more. The separatist “referendum” has no constitutional basis. It’s, as silly as it sounds, as if some people in my building decided to secede. That is not up to them. There are channels and rules, approved by a majority. If they want a vote, first they must amend the Constitution to allow such vote. And once again, they are not in the majority. That’s why they are using intimidation and extorsion to further their illegitimate goal. And BTW, separatists have assaulted Civil Guard Vehicles and barracks and stolen some weapons. Rajoy ordered not to respond. He’s weak.

        • Frank Davis says:

          So what do you think Rajoy should do?

        • Lecroix says:

          A complicated question, now that thing are so close to being FUBAR because of his cowardice, that of Rajoy (and that of previous governments). Separatists have formed an unstable alliance with socialists, communists and islamists. And yet they don’t have enough votes neither in the Catalonian parliament nor in the nation as a whole. But, since they don´t play by the rules, they can wreak enough havoc as they have been doing for oh too long.

          I believe that the policy of “autonomous regions” must be rolled back (including that of Asturias). No region is better or above others. Government must be centralized again, if approved by a majority (it’ll never happen, being things as they are).

          But within the constraints of the Constitution, Rajoy should suspend Catalonian self-government, as represented by any and all blatantly declared seditious politicians. They are only a few. Put them in jail (it has been done, partially, but they have been released already). The autonomous catalonian police, must be put, temporarily, under national police control, since their chief has disobeyed orders and has rebelled against authority.

          Also, aditional police forces (and Civil Guard forces) must be relocated to Catalonia (this is being done as we speak).

          Rajoy should also consider the Army, as a last resort and deterrent. Their presence should be visible, if needed (I doubt it will come to that). Catalonia is not the Ulster, not by far. But one must plan for all possible contingencies.

    • And BTW, separatists have assaulted Civil Guard Vehicles and barracks and stolen some weapons.

      Euskadi Ta Askatasuna says ‘hi’. Really thought Spain would have learnt by now. God help Spain if one of the Civil Guard do a deMenezes on some photogenic girl or mother with her babe in her arms.

  4. garyk30 says:

    “I don’t think there’ll ever be an ideal world.”

    There are many people wanting an ‘ideal World’; but, they want their ‘ideal World’ and that does not include the ideas of other people.

    Many people want change, as long as it does not mean that they have to change.
    And, they always want it be part of the group that is in charge.

    • nisakiman says:

      +1 Gary.

      Deborah Arnott’s ideal (‘smoke-free’) world certainly doesn’t tally with my ideal world.

      And ne’er the twain shall meet…

      • buckothemoose says:

        My ideal world is one where everyone is free do do as they please as long as they cause no harm to others. And one where nobody cares what Deborah Arnott thinks

        Nisakiman – Why you no in Smokey Drinkey Bar?

        • nisakiman says:

          I popped in last Sunday at about 11 (9pm UK time), and hung around for half an hour or so, but apart from a brief appearance from, and chat with, Barry Holman, I was on my own in there. Perhaps Sunday isn’t a good day. I’ll try again tomorrow. After all, it’s Saturday night! Dahn the pub wiv da lads, innit?

          My ideal world is one where everyone is free do do as they please as long as they cause no harm to others.

          Well yes, that’s where the democratic system started from, more or less. But there’s always someone who thinks that some restriction or other is the way to go. For the ‘greater good’ and all that. And that’s when the mission creep starts.

          And one where nobody cares what Deborah Arnott thinks

          Perchance to dream…

          Unfortunately, the fact that you and I couldn’t give a flying fuck what she thinks doesn’t diminish her power to persecute us. While she has the ears of The Powers That Be, we’re bolloxed.

        • buckothemoose says:

          Sunday doesn’t seem to be so good. The action happens on Friday and Saturday. Barry is always in though.

          As to the ideal world, the mission creep is a modern phenomenon. I’m talking about a Star trek future, hundreds of years from now, when we’ve given over with all that shit. There’s no chance of an ideal worl now that isn’t written in some kind of Marx trope

  5. waltc says:

    In the choice between a “disregard of ordinary morals” and failure, TC has outdone itself in “disregard.” Evicting the elderly and disabled for smoking in their private apartments or their final nursing homes, forcing hospital patients out in the elements, forcing mental patients to forgo a proven remedy for their stress and antidote to the side effects of their pharmaceuticals, depriving divorced parents of access to their own children, depriving orphans of adoption by prospectively loving parents, the list of its moral depravity is nearly endless. All under the rubric of “the dubious ends justify the disgusting means.” Or maybe the real flag is just The Triumph of Their Will.

    It seems all Establishments fight dirty to maintain their power. The stuff that’s coming out now about the various spy agencies spying on the Republicans with FISA approval, blithely engaging in illegal “unmasking” and leaking to the press is the stuff of banana republics.

    OT: on Vietnam, if you’ve never read it, Michael Herr’s Pulitzer-winning “Dispatches.” The accurate blurb on the back of my copy, quotes the NYTimes describing it “as if Dante had gone to hell with a cassette of Jimi Hendrix and a pocketful of pills.”

  6. smokingscot says:

    I am Scottish and if the Catalans think along the same lines as my lot, the central government is making a right royal hash of this.

    For all their faults the British Diplomats are bloody good – and they’ve got history to look back to with their having to dismantle the British Commonwealth.

    First off they did everything possible to win the argument in favour of remaining, so they threw a great deal of resources into their YES campaign. Spain has not done anything like this, even though they know perfectly well that only 40% of Catalans are rock hard in favour of independence.

    Second is they really screwed up in Rhodesia. UDI came and they sided with the opposition. To our eternal shame we did a great deal to elevate Mugabe as the fighter for the people. Spain’s relying only on their constitution and instead should have been doing all they could to slag off and bad mouth the people behind the referendum.

    I read today that EU leaders are lining up behind Rajoy while holding their nostrils. In short it’s lip service and only “for the good of the whole (EU)”.

    It’s not going to go away. There are indeed many differences between the Catalans and what’s been patched together as “Spain”.

    Back to my initial point. One thing Cameron was made aware of was that wavering voters were far more likely to side with the leave lot had they not arranged to allow the vote to go ahead.

    And when the fat guy and the fishwife said there would be no further referendums for at least another generation, people believed them, indeed wanted that and more.

    So when the fishwife did a 180 recently she really screwed up badly. And I’m not the only one who loathes the creature.


    • Lecroix says:

      Smokingscot, the Catalans are no more different than other different inhabitants of Spain. As I have pointed out, OTHERS have different genes and idioms and have a really legitimate claim, historically. Yet they do not yell “I want out, I’m not Spain”. Catalonia was never a kingdom. Never an independent anything. It’s all a fabrication. And besides. as you say, it’s a matter of the Constitution. They want out? (a few of them). They must follow the rules. There is no country in Europe without “different”. We were all tribes, that fought and united and finally became nations. Catalonian separatists have about the lowest score when it comes to claiming “difference”. And just one more thing: if these few, through rewriting History are allowed to get away with it, all other European nations are up for grabs. We will become a Europe of microstates, ripe for conquer by the globalists.

  7. petesquiz says:

    As I said some time ago, here, we’ve not been living in. the Nanny State, but the Bully State for some time now.

    I too am mystified by the response of the Spanish government and agree that the British government’s approach to Scotland was far better and the civilised way to do it.

  8. Smoking Lamp says:

    I agree with you Frank (and all commenting here) that tobacco control and the “progressive” wing of government is hell bent on bullying and forcing compliance with their plans. I guess they traded in progressive values like choice and liberties for neo-Stalinist control.

    A nice overview of the corruption and coercion that accompany this trend in found in this City Journal article: “The Corruption of Public Health” at https://www.city-journal.org/html/corruption-public-health-15323.html

    While, I recognize that their may be some harm reduction in vaping, I prefer smoking and believe the public health cultists have exaggerated the negative consequences of smoking and suppressed all dissent. Public Health must be reformed; Tobacco control must be destroyed.

  9. Timbotoo says:

    The metaphor which comes to mind about the Catalan situation is of a bunch of bandits trying to rob a train. The president and all the ministers in the Catalan region rule with the authority of the Spanish Constitution, written when Franco finally kicked the bucket (and overwhelmingly approved by national referendum, including Catalunia).
    It is expressedly forbidden in the Constitution to hold referendums. To change the Constitution requires that the whole country participates. What is going on is illegal and will have no good outcome.
    The comparison with Scotland doesn’t bear scrutiny.

  10. Timbotoo says:

    I should have said, forbidden for regions to hold referendums.

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