Playing the ‘International Bastards League’ game.


Dave Osler has devised a new political parlour game.

IMAGINE a scale that runs from one to ten and measures every independent polity in the world in terms of niceness and nastiness.

At one we have Sweden and Norway, because they are permanently cuddly and welfare statey and social democratic, even when the centre-right gets in.

Singapore occupies the half way point with a score of five, because it is authoritarian while desperately trying to pretend to be a semi-democracy. Trade unionism isn’t exactly encouraged, for instance. But trade union activists are not routinely executed, either.

At ten I have placed Saudi Arabia and Burma, both utterly execrable totalitarian regimes with manifold sins that need no reiteration here.

This scale is not designed as a yardstick of democracy as such, but rather an indefinable property that might be described as a ‘bastardness quotient’. You must know what I mean.

The game is this: commenters are invited to place Cuba, Iran, Israel, Britain and the US at points of their choosing along this continuum, giving reasons for doing so.

Dave’s blog attracts a lot of leftier-than-thou leftists who – apparently seriously – give Cuba scores of ‘1’ , Israel scores of ‘9’, etc. Of course, it’s all fun and games, and everyone is interpreting ‘bastardness’ in different ways,  but it’s surprising to see so much socialist adoration of the Cuban monarchy.

It’s also ironic that revolutionary ultra-leftists have a much easier time in democratic, multi-party Israel than dictatorial, single-party Cuba where the Castro regime has periodically locked up or expelled its critics on the left.  

Anyway, here is my contribution:

  • Cuba – 7 – Oppressive, censoring, one-party state must be a real pain. Combine that with a rubbish economy and no wonder everyone wants to leave the country. On the plus side, the weather is better than over here and the dictatorial government isn’t quite as bad as it could be (North Korea, I’m looking at you)
  • Iran – 7 – There seems to be more potential for positive political change in Iran at the moment, which stands in its favour, but all the religion truly does my head in. The fact that the country is still presided over by a Holocaust-denying loon does not bode well.
  • Israel – 5 – I’d love to visit Israel one day. When it comes to democracy and human rights, Israel is the best thing going in the region. But at the same time, there are many obnoxious defenders of the illegal settlements. Plus more religious mumbo jumbo.
  • The US – 3 – Negatives = Anti-communist hysteria in 20th century leading to unhealthy domestic politics and overzealous intervention across the world; love of free-market capitalism; gross social inequalities. Positives = Has maintained system of elected government for hundreds of years; crucial role played in defeating fascism during WW2; gave us The Simpsons, the West Wing, Bob Dylan, and all that other great stuff. If there has to be a single power acting as global policeman I’d still take the US over, say, China anyday.
  • The UK – 2 – Cos I’m patriotic, innit.



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One Response to “Playing the ‘International Bastards League’ game.”

  1. Al Widdershins Says:

    It isn’t that surprising – these are the same people who would have (perhaps did if they’re old enough) gushed over the Soviet Empire back in the Good Old Days. I do wish I hadn’t read the comments there though… the stuff about how free and strong TU’s are in Cuba made me feel even iller than usual…

    Israel being so high on the same people’s lists is objectively absurd (you only need to compare Israel’s record, including the bad stuff, to those of the example regimes to see that…), but I suppose if you think of the place as the supreme embodiment of Evil on Earth… which is funny because what Israel actually is is one of those funny fairground mirrors that exaggerate the shape of certain things.

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