Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
The Rest of Us Always Knew Churchill Was a Villain (bloomberg.com)
180 points by pseudolus 29 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 142 comments

FWIW, the (in)famous “I do not understand this squeamishness about the use of gas” quote was in reference to tear gas. Ultimately banned for use in warfare by international treaty, but still commonly used today in civilian matters.


More than "for what it's worth", that's an important difference. The full quote puts a very different spin on Churchill's position.

The article: "When some British officials objected to his proposal for “the use of gas against natives,” he found their objections “unreasonable.” In fact he argued that poison gas was more humane than outright extermination: “The moral effect should be so good that the loss of life should be reduced to a minimum.”"

The full quote: "I do not understand this squeamishness about the use of gas. We have definitely adopted the position at the Peace Conference of arguing in favour of the retention of gas as a permanent method of warfare. It is sheer affectation to lacerate a man with the poisonous fragment of a bursting shell and to boggle at making his eyes water by means of lachrymatory gas.

I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes. The moral effect should be so good that the loss of life should be reduced to a minimum. It is not necessary to use only the most deadly gasses: gasses can be used which cause great inconvenience and would spread a lively terror and yet would leave no serious permanent effects on most of those affected."

While Churchill's use of "poisoned gas against uncivilized tribes" certainly sounds abominable, he does primarily seem to be advocating for the use of non-deadly tear gas rather than something deadly. On the other hand, he also seems to be saying that he'd be OK with escalating to a more deadly gas if for some reason the non-deadly approach wasn't effective.

If the use of gas is so reasonable, one wonders why he only supports using it against "uncivilized tribes".

Well to be honest I'm sure Churchill would not have any qualms of using gas against the Irish or the Welsh.

He probably didn't think much of them either.

I don't think he only supported it in that case (the part of the quote before that reference makes it clearly general and not specific to that case), I think that's the user case he saw as being immediately relevant to Britain in the context of the efforts to ban it in warfare.

I'd assume that it stems from a few places. One of them would probably be the "White Mans Burden", but another would probably be that uncivilized tribes don't have guns to shoot back with and so using modern weaponry against them will end in a lot of deaths.

Churchill advocated for the use of weaponized anthrax against Germany, so I don't think you can say he was biased in this respect.

As tested on Gruinard Island, just off the coast of Scotland:


I wonder, ethically/morally, is that better or worse than using it on your own people?

How did you conclude that?

The one party that seems to go unscathed or are even in power positions are the princes that chose to ally with the British to retain their kingdoms. The Last Nizam went to become an MP for a long time. His violent Razakar militia morphed into Political party and wins every Parliamentary election in Hyderabad. The Scindias of Gwalior are power players in both the INC and BJP. There are numerous other royal descendants that have FAT fortunes and local name recognition and political cache.

Indians can hate Winston Churchill all they want, and they can beg the liberal leaning administrations of Oxford and other British academia to throw away busts of Churchill. All the while naming colleges and universities after people who allied with British and treated their population worse than British have treated Indians.

Winston Churchill is a villian but the Indian allies of British are the worst scoundrels.

> The Last Nizam went to become an MP for a long time.

Osman Ali Khan was briefly the titular head of post-accession Hyderabad but was never an MP.

> His violent Razakar militia morphed into Political party and wins every Parliamentary election in Hyderabad.

MIM as a political entity predates the Razakars. And I'd say the present day AIMIM has as much in common with it's predecessor as the Congress has with it's pre-independce avatar, which is not much.

Osman Ali Khan was M.P. of kurnool.

That was a different Osman Ali Khan, not the Nizam: https://archive.siasat.com/news/former-mp-osman-ali-khan-pas...

> “History,” Churchill himself said, “will judge me kindly, because I intend to write it myself.” He did, penning a multi-volume history of World War Two, and won the Nobel Prize for Literature for his self-serving fictions.

One of my favorite conspiracy theories is the idea that Churchill and Roosevelt conspired to allow the attack at Pearl Harbor to occur.


I would not be surprised if this was true, or at least had a significant amount of truth to it. It reminds me of the Zimmermann telegram that brought the US into WW1. The UK and the US both knew that Mexico was not going to help Germany (what with a Mexican revolution going on and all that), but the telegram was a convenient enough excuse for the US to join the war in Europe anyway.

The parallel here is that the US and UK are both waiting for the enemy to make a huge blunder (Germany trying to get Mexico to attack the US, or Japan attacking Pearl Harbor). Getting the US into the war was one of the top priorities of Churchill's government. And Roosevelt really wanted to help (the Lend-Lease among other things).

So this information, that Japan is about to attack, comes along, why would you stop it? Plus; how would you stop it? You can argue that revealing it was about to happen publicly would be enough for President Roosevelt to argue a war against Japan. But maybe he felt if Japan actually got to attack, he could also argue for a war against Germany?

> "Plus; how would you stop it?"

Well the primary targets, the carriers, weren't present. That was fortunate for America, to put it lightly. With the carriers missing, the attacking Japanese pilots focused their attacks on Battleship Row, against which they did severe damage.

It should be noted however that after the first attack wave, the USN managed to put up very dense anti-aircraft fire that impeded the Japanese attackers and probably saved thousands of American lives. If the Americans at Pearl Harbor had been given even just an hour of warning before the first attack wave, they would have been in a much better position (the anti-aircraft fire they could have organized before the first wave would have been even more effective than what they managed to muster after the first wave.)

If you're interested in the details of the battle, this youtube video is exceptional: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f6cz9gtMTeI

The ironic thing is that US Radar stations picked up the incoming Japanese aircraft while they were still miles offshore - but believed they were a flight of B-17's that were arriving from the mainland.

The US broke the Japanese crypto and naval signals well before the war. I’m curious how they missed the boat (no pun intended) on the massive attack.

I vaguely remember the radio operators mistaking it as nothing which delayed the defences - as the hundreds of aircrafts came into view on radar. But beyond that how could they not have intercepted the planning beforehand?

I’m not suggesting a conspiracy just curious.

The Opana Radar Site on the north corner of the island detected the Japanese aircraft approaching, and the radar operators there reported it to their command. However this report was confused for a formation of B-17s that was scheduled to arrive from that general direction. The size of the detected formation, which might have revealed the confusion, was not properly communicated.

This incident was a subplot in the 1970 film Tora! Tora! Tora!, which may be where you heard it.

Im reading this currently: https://m.usni.org/magazines/navalhistory/2009-12/how-japane...

According to this, their crypto was not completely broken, and the Japanese were very careful in shrouding their shift in strategy and attack plan from both the radios and other forms of communications.

Radio silence. There was no need to signal instructions to the attack force en route as everything was carefully planned in advance. Likewise, no need for the attack force to report until after the attack.

It's an interesting hypothesis. Isolationism was a popular position in America before Pearl Harbor, to the extent that in his 1940 campaign FDR promised he wouldn't enter into a foreign war if he was reelected. And true to his word, after he was reelected America did not declare war on Germany despite many in the press demanding it. Eventually, after Pearl Harbor, it was Germany who declared war on America, not the other way around. After that isolationists in America were quickly silenced. To these isolationists, America declaring war on Germany was one thing but Germany declaring war on America was quite another.

Prominent isolationist Charles Lindbergh even sought to sign up for the USAAF in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor. His request was denied by the White House, but he nevertheless helped train American pilots and even flew combat missions as a civilian (which is a bit strange.) It's a very interesting corner of history.

>> flew combat missions as a civilian (which is a bit strange.)

While a civilian, he flew solo missions as a fighter pilot and engaged the enemy. We have a term for this nowadays, "illegal combatant."

We have a term for this nowadays, "illegal combatant."

It's only illegal if the other side do it.

I would not be surprised if that was the case since the US was quite isolationist at the time. It would take quite a bit to get the population's buy-in for a war. A direct attack seems to be like a needed pretext.

Dan Carlin points out (in his current podcast series "Supernova in the East") that while the US was largely against going to war, it supported the sanctions against Japan (due to their behavior in China). Those sanctions are why Japan went to war.

Lindbergh was excoriated for his position. However in retrospect he was more correct than he is given credit for.

Here's an interesting article which gives some response to the accusations made of Churchill's actions during the Bengal famine. It's short and well worth reading, although it clearly is papering over Churchill's racism.



> Churchill certainly did not engineer the famine in Bengal, but he was ultimately responsible for the lack of a relief effort for it.


> It is hard to say where British incompetence, obsession with the war effort, and active cruelty begin and end. My read of the evidence is that official rice production statistics were wrong, and the British let millions of people in Bengal die because the war was more important, but there's a lot of debate about what actually happened.


Although the linked article by Tharoor only touches on the Indian connection, here's an article by Johann Hari that takes a broader view: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/not-his-fines... (“He may have been a thug, but he knew a greater thug when he saw one”) — interesting bit of trivia: “[Barack Obama's grandfather,] Hussein Onyango Obama, was imprisoned without trial for two years and was tortured on Churchill’s watch”.

I'd be surprised if it's actually "a mystery" to anyone why Churchill is considered a hero of democracy.

> In 2017, Tharoor put the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in the same category as some of "the worst genocidal dictators" of the 20th century, saying that Churchill is "one of the more evil rulers of the 20th century only fit to stand in the company of the likes of Hitler, Mao and Stalin. Churchill has as much blood on his hands as Hitler does. Particularly the decisions that he personally signed off during the Bengal Famine when 4.3 million people died because of the decisions he took or endorsed.

The author has toned down his message in this piece whilst still banging the same drum. And I'm not sure why. The guy was flawed, sure. He was both a renowned wit and a racist, who had to make some unbelievably hard decisions during wartime. One of those decisions unfortunately exacerbated a famine already well into the making[1], a thing Tharoor seems to ignore each time he brings it up. Instead he imagines that Churchill himself pushed a button saying "no shipping grain there because I'm racist" rather than than as a result of the nearly 1 million tonnes of ships lost in the Indian Ocean in a single year, stretching already stretched supplies to breaking point as the Allies continued fighting a war on 6 fronts across 3 continents.

I guess it's easy, you can repeatedly bring this up and tap into some anti-english sentiment within your countrymen. But why? The man can be both a hero and a villain in different parts of his life. You can appreciate the man of the hour whilst understanding that his views and actions in other parts of his life where outdated and by modern standards pretty disgusting.

You can also appreciate that without him WW2 may have gone very, very differently for both Europe and India. And maybe there is something to be thankful for in that. Personally I would think the Nazis would have done a lot worse things, and held even worse views.

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bengal_famine_of_1943#February...

Three million Indians died while food sailed West. http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2031992...

The death tolls in the East during the Second World War (far greater in China than in India certainly) are absolutely staggering. Churchill's policy in Bengal was Mao-esque in malice and incompetence.

Which policy, specifically?

The only policy I know of was mobilizing the military to transport food and aid to the famine stricken regions during wartime.

I suppose you're suggesting that more food and resources should have been diverted, regardless of the consequences elsewhere, and without concern for any other event unfolding at the time in the region.

Genocidal? I don't think so.

Churchill was no saint, I don't think any sane person anyone would elevate him to such - but he's no war criminal - and no villain to most.

Churchill was a nationalist, an unreformed victorian, an imperialist - and yes, a racist too.

The Bengal famine of 1943 was 1.5m deaths, this in the midst of a war that killed 85m people. I'd also point out that in the context of India - a country which in 1943 had around 400m people living in it - in other words .375% of the total population.

I'd also like to note that in 1949, India inflicted partition on itself, the greatest humanitarian crisis (almost) no one has heard of before - it displaced 14m and likely killed another 200k - 2m - again, on a country of around 400m people.

I consider it a zero-sum game to try to judge people by modern standards, it is meaningless - and lessens their very important contributions in history. History is in my opinion about clearly stating facts, and letting individuals form their own opinion.

I consider Churchill to be a great man - just as with Stalin and Roosevelt, whatever failings he had as peacetime a leader, are overshadowed to a significant amount by his wartime successes.

I also point out, that Churchill was not perfect, he was a lousy, lousy theatre commander.

"I'd also point out that in the context of India - a country which in 1943 had around 400m people living in it - in other words .375% of the total population."

When you want to trivialize the death of 1.5 million people, it's better to use even larger denominator like the population of the entire world.

Compared to the total number of people who have ever died or will ever die...

Precisely this.

It is absurd indeed to try and cast a man either as a saint or a villain in this kind of manner - there are many things it is well acknowledged Churchill did extremely badly indeed. His time as PM /at/ the right time in history /with/ the personality and values he held happened to be good and useful, and worked towards a good and useful end. Like all such cases, that pragmatic good has some bad consequences of its own, and does not negate the rest of his life's actions.

Tell all, and consider what may have been good and what may have been ill. To accept all or reject all based on some actions is not only unwise, it is proactively damaging.

Well Gallipoli wasn't helped by the royal navy running in like a badly trained spaniel instead of waiting for the planned combined operations attack.

Also Kemal Ataturk was the best commander the Turks had

I guess beating up on Churchill is the latest in the "Let's oversimplify history and find some new villains" game.

Fair enough. Times change.

A related article: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/feb/14/winsto...

If anyone is interested to learn more; the author of this post has debated "Britan does owe reparations" in Oxford Union Society here : https://youtu.be/f7CW7S0zxv4

This talk has many facts not even commonly known to Indians.

The article says:

"Thanks to Churchill’s personal decisions, more than 3 million Bengalis died of hunger in a 1943 famine. Churchill deliberately ordered the diversion of food from starving Indian civilians to well-supplied British soldiers and even to top up European stockpiles, meant for yet-to-be-liberated Greeks and Yugoslavs. “The starvation of anyway underfed Bengalis is less serious” than that of “sturdy Greeks,” he argued. When reminded of the suffering of Bengalis, his response was typically Churchillian: The famine was the Indians’ own fault, he said, for “breeding like rabbits.” If the suffering was so dire, he wrote on the file, “Why hasn’t Gandhi died yet?"

People argue it wasn't Churchill's fault. Specifically [1], which says that the fall of Burma to the Japanese cut off Indian import sources and the wartime element meant "tough decisions" were made. It argues that in peacetime things would be different.

That really doesn't make sense. If you look at the history of famine's in India under British rule [2], over 35MM people died due to famines, and the majority of those are due to imperial mismanagement. In democratic governments, you can vote out people who aren't solving the problem. Not so in colonial societies.

This source [3] puts it clearly:

"Throughout the autumn of 1943, the United Kingdom's food and raw materials stockpile for its 47 million people - 14 million fewer than that of Bengal - swelled to 18.5m tonnes.

In the end, Mukherjee writes eloquently, it was "not so much racism as the imbalance of power inherent in the social Darwinian pyramid that explains why famine could be tolerated in India while bread rationing was regarded as an intolerable deprivation in wartime Britain".

To us Indians, Winston Churchill is Hitler and what happened in Bengal is an Indian Holocaust. It is appropriate to call it "revisionist history" because the Indian and more generally Eastern perspective is not present in modern history. That is slowly changing thanks to modern scholarship and I think we will view Winston Churchill very differently in 50 years.

All men are flawed. Churchill did some very good things for England, and some very very bad things for India, Kenya, etc. Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, etc. very all very charismatic and had strong leadership characteristics, but you cannot praise them publicly for "their good parts." It is crazy to me that we still do that with Churchill.

I was glad when Obama sent the bust back to England.

[1] https://winstonchurchill.org/resources/in-the-media/churchil...

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_major_famines_in_I...

[3] http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/soutikbiswas/2010/10...

Fascinating thanks, I never knew about this, so I became curious about the causes:


It certainly seems like an area of controversy, but is it so clear cut that it was Churchill's fault? It seems like the main takeaways are:

> Academic consensus generally follows the FEE account, as formulated by A. Sen (1977) and A. Sen (1981a), in describing the Bengal famine of 1943 as an "entitlements famine". On this view, the prelude to the famine was generalised war-time inflation, and the problem was exacerbated by prioritised distribution and abortive attempts at price control,[323] but the death blow was devastating leaps in the inflation rate due to heavy speculative buying.[324][AZ] This in turn caused a fatal decline in the real wages of landless agricultural workers,[325] transforming what should have been a local shortage into a horrific famine.[326]

If that's the case, was this clearly foreseeable or not, and were there alternatives? And it continues:

> More recent analyses often stress political factors.[BA] Discussions of the government's role split into two broad camps: those which suggest that the government unwittingly caused or was unable to respond to the crisis,[327] and those which assert that the government willfully caused or ignored the plight of starving Indians. The former see the problem as a series of avoidable war-time policy failures and "panicky responses"[138] from a government that was spectacularly inept,[328] overwhelmed[329] and in disarray; the latter as a conscious miscarriage of justice by the "ruling colonial elite"[330] who abandoned the poor of Bengal.[331]

The article doesn't mention if there's a current academic consensus on whether it was inept wartime panicking or conscious, however.

Is the narrative of "Churchill as Hitler to India" really justifiable, or just as simplistic as Churchill as Savior? I'm genuinely interested here, since I was never taught about this, and also curious why your comment is so downvoted.

Your quoted excerpt intrigued me. The quoted scholar is none other than Amartya Sen, the Bengali economist and intellectual (Nobel prize in Economics, now at Harvard).

Born in 1933, Sen was 10 years old at the time of the famine and witnessed it firsthand. He later investigated the cause of the famine and published articles and finally a book on it. This research led to the notion (simplifying here) that famines have a key component that is distributional in nature - that economic or social conditions (like income inequality) can cause a relatively small food shock to turn into a famine. This is what he found in Bengal.

Sen's essays in NYRB (https://www.nybooks.com/contributors/amartya-sen/) are excellent. The Mukherjee book (source [3] in the GP comment) placing blame for the Bengal famine on Churchill received a mixed review by another author (https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2010/12/23/did-churchill-le...).

That seems ridiculous and wildly over the top. Hitler took a peacetime situation and started a war because he wanted to rule the world and abolish democracy everywhere. Churchill was one of the key men who stopped him, was forced into the situation of defence and had to make many hard decisions along the way. If there had been no Hitler then Churchill would never have been in the position of having to decide what to do about the famine and it might never have happened at all. Moreover the British Empire dissolved itself in India and converted it into a democracy for the first time ever - the exact opposite of what Hitler wanted.

My point was not that Churchill wanted fascism or communism. The point was that Hitler was a genocidal leader and that the British/Victorian government during the 20th century also perpetuated genocide, directly or through inaction.

Hitler didn't take a "peacetime situation." There was hyperinflation in Germany post WWI, and a massive arms and military-industrial build up all the way through the invasion of Czechoslovakia. Furthermore, Hitler didn't want to "abolish democracy everywhere" - his objectives were to make Germany self-sufficient and in control of Europe. He was certainly anti-democracy in terms of slowness, and believed in stronger centralized power, but I don't think he cared if South American states for example were democratic or not.

The British Empire didn't "dissolve" itself in India - there were decades of non-violent protest, including strong political pressure after WWI (Britain promised to give India independence after WWI, but didn't). Millions of lives were lost in this process both due to colonial brutality as well as 1MM+ dead due to the partition of India and Pakistan and it's aftermath.

Look up books like Late Victorian Holocausts [1], which make the exact argument of how British and other colonial governments created or at least prolonged famine situations across the world.

Happy to discuss further if you want to.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Late_Victorian_Holocausts

Meh. It's sad, but the structure of the universe is probably such that one cannot become a leader of millions without being a villain.

You can ignore any villainy by this formula. "All leaders are villains, so I'm turning my attention elsewhere." As Edmund Burke or someone said, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."

Also, it relies on equating hard moral choices with villainy. A hard moral choice is making citizen A hungrier so citizen B doesn't starve. Villainy is robbing citizen A to enrich citizen B because you like B more.

> You can ignore any villainy by this formula. "All leaders are villains, so I'm turning my attention elsewhere."

Perhaps it's more that those viewed as "good leaders" are simply the villains that were needed at that point in time. It's easy to villify almost anyone in retrospect, even if people at the time viewed those issues in much the same way.

As a single individual, it's probably more effective to work on local ethical issues than to try to do something about global villainy. There are a few people in very special places and times who have the ability to make a global effect (Wikileaks comes to mind), but that's quite rare.

Yes, we can denounce villainy that occurs on the global stage. But in truth that's almost entirely virtue signaling. We look good, but there's no difference effected in the world.

Do something that makes a difference. Despising Churchill is useless, even if he deserved it (which is dubious).

> But in truth that's almost entirely virtue signaling. We look good, but there's no difference effected in the world.

This isn't true at all. The collective fiction that makes up civilization depends on this.

Saying you believe in free speech, even though free speech is a national policy decision, is not virtue signalling if enough people do it. Saying you're against racism isn't virtue signalling if that makes the community as a whole more loudly against racism.

If everyone becomes cynical and refuses to "virtue signal" as you pejoratively call it, it swings the door wide open to the government ignoring our rights since the people have collectively already decided to give up.

The post you are replying to merely makes a statement, not the ethical argument that you have interpreted it as (though your distinction between hard choices and villainy is important.)

I happen to think that it is an incorrect statement, and that, while leaders of millions will make mistakes, they need not necessarily be villainous.

To be clear, I am not claiming that Churchill's actions in Ireland, Iraq and India were merely mistakes - the worst of them, together with the attitudes that allegedly justified them, belong in the annals of infamy.

Would you support a equitable society free of hierarchy (and then free of these leaders that must be villans)?

This is garbage. The real villains are Neville Chamberlain and Lord Halifax. They would have condemned half a billion people to death just to give Britain a few extra years of peace.

Which part is garbage?

What do Chamberlain and Halifax have to do with whether Churchill is considered a villain?

Evidently fighting Nazis absolves you any crime against humanity.

Vae victis I suppose.

Edit: response to Ntrails:

People find comfort in black and white worldviews. Pointing out that somebody who was a hero in one respect was a villain in other seems to induce some sort of dissonance that gets some people angry. The article says that Churchill was a villain with respect to British colonies, not in every conceivable respect. But this has made some people angry, they see Churchill as a hero in the fight against Germany, so they're unwilling or unable to see Churchill as a villain in Ireland or India. There is no logical contradiction here, but there is an emotional contradiction. I don't consider this a moral failing on the part of those upset, it just seems to be how people are wired.

He Was Both Hero And Villain

Why on earth do people find this so hard to comprehend?

If you’re going to bring up their blunders you should perhaps also mention how Churchill completely cocked-up several crucial naval operations that could have ended the war early. If he was around today he’d be what they call a “failson”

Oh and then there’s the whole Indian famine thing...

Which naval operations? WW1 or WW2?

I am not sure what the parent specifically has in mind, but Churchill wasn't Navy Minister during WW2, and didn't have the same direct control over the navy like he did in WW1, where he really blundered through it.

Indeed, I might imagine the UK doing better in WW2, because Churchill was less in direct control of operations.

Although in those times when Churchill did take direct control in WW2, he tended to screw things up. The disastrous campaigns in Norway and Greece, for instance, both had his fingerprints all over them.

Churchill was First Lord of the Admiralty before he took over from Chamberlain.

He was very much responsible for the Norwegian Campaign, which was widely considered a fiasco that handed Hitler a decisive victory and gave the latter enough political momentum to continue with his war plans.


Churchill was directly responsible for the Gallipoli disaster (and the naval disaster it was intended to support), he resigned from the government in disgrace

YinLuck- 29 days ago [flagged]

Half a billion foreigners should be worth less than 1 Briton to a British leader.

We've banned this account for trolling. Would you please stop creating accounts to break the site guidelines with?


As it often happens to truly extreme moral bankrupcy (as opposed to just regular moral bankrupcy), this is position is self defeating. A victorious nazi Germany, leveraging its new resources after consolidating the gains in continental Europe, could have successfully invaded the UK.

/s? I dearly hope?

You may not like what he said around WW2 but anyone who recently moved to the Bay Area will love his take on landlords, from 1909:

> Roads are made, streets are made, services are improved, electric light turns night into day, water is brought from reservoirs a hundred miles off in the mountains -- and all the while the landlord sits still. Every one of those improvements is effected by the labor and cost of other people and the taxpayers. To not one of those improvements does the land monopolist, as a land monopolist, contribute, and yet by every one of them the value of his land is enhanced. He renders no service to the community, he contributes nothing to the general welfare, he contributes nothing to the process from which his own enrichment is derived.

The whole thing is worth a read. http://www.landvaluetax.org/current-affairs-comment/winston-...

Property taxes?

At least where I live, land values are assessed annually, and the owner is obligated to pay a percentage of that value. Those tax funds are used for the very improvements mentioned, as well as usage-based utility fees for the services.

I really like property taxes in principle, so I want to expand on the argument for why they are a good idea.

Ignoring the built property, land is an asset that basically doesn't decay with time, can't be physically carried away, provides its own storage and there is always someone who could be using it (in cities). Most of the value isn't in the land either, it is the services, infrastructure and community around the property that create the value.

Almost all other assets decay if you don't use them. That enforces a level of equality in the long term, where effective owners can out-compete ineffective owners, because assets are usually replaced every 20-30 years in a Ship of Theseus style process.

It makes sense to have a 1.25% or thereabouts annual tax on land, so owners essentially have to repurchase it once a generation. We shouldn't allow the system to reward people because their great-grandparent bought property. We should reward them because they are responsible owners of that property, contributing to their community or somesuch to the point they can pay that tax.

This should then apply to intellectual property as well.

Not in the UK. We have a system that's vaguely related to the value of the house, banded so that expensive property is under-taxed, and usually capped by central government. It's quite a mess.

And, since 2013, starting to disproportionately affect the poorest too.


And worse, it’s occipier based, not owner based. I own a flat in the UK and it’s my tenant, not me, who pays council tax.

California has prop 13 which results in property taxes not keeping up with assessments.

To be fair, just because the marginal house sells for more doesn't mean that providing local services is commensurately more expensive.

In the case of expensive urban areas it kind of does.

High housing costs mean that literally everything in an area is more expensive. All services and all goods require human labor - people to load and unload trucks, stock shelves, stand behind registers, prepare goods and services etc..

High rents are a massive transfer of wealth over time from everyone else to landlords. So yes, increased housing costs do make all local services cost more, at the expense of the general public and for the benefit of landlords.

Sure, but Churchill's point above is, "... he contributes nothing to the process from which his own enrichment is derived."

The more out of step taxation is with wealth creation, more accurate that point becomes. Whether or not that's a bad thing can be reasonably debated, I think.

It does however mean that house prices for staff are more expensive, so they need to be paid correspondingly more, and staff costs are a very large fraction of the cost of services.

Really? What about heavily contributing to the devaluation of the money paid to keep said services running?

Sure, but it still negates the argument that landlords don't contribute towards shared services at all.

Landlords like the Peery Arrillaga have owned their land from before Prop 13. They pay virtually nothing in property taxes for it.

Less than what they'd pay if they bought now (or than they should pay, either works) still negates the argument that landlords don't contribute in any way.

What about the benefit of actual living quarters for the tenants? Who besides a landlord is going to rent 4 walls and a roof to someone who needs it?

Seems similar to saying that hotel owners 'contribute nothing to the general welfare'.

> What about the benefit of actual living quarters for the tenants?

Would you argue that patents and copyright should last infinitely long because the world is richer forever due to the one solitary act of the inventor?

Landlords hold a monopoly over the land they own as much as copyright holders own a monopoly on the IP they own. I think it's quite reasonable to ask if that monopoly deserves to be forever. I agree with you that someone who develops property deserves to be rewarded - but maybe not an infinite reward?

I personally think landlords are skewing way too much towards rent seeking right now.

But in theory, a landlord could serve a similar function as a futures trader. They are speculators who mediate risk of rent. If renting becomes unprofitable then landlords lose money as rent_money < (mortgage + property tax)

If I'm understanding you correctly, you're advocating for the landlord to lose ownership of their property?

If so, question of my own. The landlord worked and spent resources (time, money) to increase his assets (develop the property). You, at your job, worked and spent resources (time, etc.) to increase your assets (e.g. size of your bank account). Do you think you should have indefinite ownership of your bank account?

> If so, question of my own. The landlord worked and spent resources (time, money) to increase his assets (develop the property). You, at your job, worked and spent resources (time, etc.) to increase your assets (e.g. size of your bank account). Do you think you should have indefinite ownership of your bank account?

The landlord earns rent from his property. I earn a salary from my job. The landlord and I are on equal footing as far as being able to keep the proceeds of our labor - nobody is threatening to take rent he has already collected, and nobody is threatening to take the cash from my bank account.

So far we are even, and our bank accounts are safe. However, my employment at my job depends on me continually adding value to society. The moment I quit working, I stop collecting salary.

The landlord here has an advantage that has no analogy in labor. He can quit improving the property and continue to collect rent. In fact, he can just rent out just the land with no improvements (for example if it's farmland) and collect rent forever with no labor.

So your analogy fails. Land and a job are nothing alike. In fact, I can lose my job at any time, due to employment at will, with no recourse. Yet if someone inherits a large quantity of land and rents it out (not directly using it themselves), I am supposed to think it is some grevious evil if their control of that land is limited? You'll forgive me if I don't see the outrage in saying that maybe society should look into whether that ownership should be perpetual.

You've distilled your claim: the right to ownership of an asset is dependent on whether or not you keep improving it ("my employment at my job depends on me continually adding value to society").

There are a lot of people on here who built their own SaaS businesses. In a lot of cases, those are just websites that provide some simple service. And, in a lot of cases, once its built there isn't really much to do except "collect forever with no labor".

I do consider it a "grievous evil" if you look over at one of those entrepreneurs, see the money they're making -- with no current labor expenditure from themselves -- and decide that you want some of what they earned for themselves, that their ownership should not be perpetual.

> There are a lot of people on here who built their own SaaS businesses. In a lot of cases, those are just websites that provide some simple service. And, in a lot of cases, once its built there isn't really much to do except "collect forever with no labor".

The Government usually doesn't stop other people from making websites with similar functionality via threat of violence. SaaS website owners don't have a meaningful monopoly in most cases.

> I do consider it a "grievous evil" if you look over at one of those entrepreneurs, see the money they're making -- with no current labor expenditure from themselves -- and decide that you want some of what they earned for themselves, that their ownership should not be perpetual.

Then sleep easy, for I have no such desire. Software Engineers have no monopoly. We're really just highly paid tradesmen, kind of like how blacksmiths were in the 1800s.

Monopoly ownership over land only exists by government decree. If man actually has any kind of "natural state" aside from government, land ownership doesn't exist in that world just as it doesn't exist for animals. On Earth in the 21st century, no human being ever creates land. So it's really just us collectively deciding who gets to use it. It seems perfectly fair if society decides that land ownership rules should be changed.

P.S. I am not arguing that people should have their land confiscated by the government, btw. I think something as simple as higher property taxes, or higher taxes on land that isn't directly occupied by the owner is pretty equitable.

A key idea here is the distinction between what many consider to be personal property (one's toothbrush and probably bank account and house) and private property, which is used to the ends of profit or production otherwise, in older terms, production of surplus value. Land is an interesting case that cannot be compared to bank accounts also because it's a finite natural resource, in some sense still only given only by permission of the state, which represents the people (or it is supposed to do so anyway).

From Proudhon's What Is Property? (1840):

>Let us complete the argument of M. Ch. Comte. A man who should be prohibited from walking in the highways, from resting in the fields, from taking shelter in caves, from lighting fires, from picking berries, from gathering herbs and boiling them in a bit of baked clay, — such a man could not live. Consequently the earth — like water, air, and light — is a primary object of necessity which each has a right to use freely, without infringing another’s right. Why, then, is the earth appropriated?

>Water, air, and light are common things, not because they are inexhaustible, but because they are indispensable; and so indispensable that for that very reason Nature has created them in quantities almost infinite, in order that their plentifulness might prevent their appropriation. Likewise the land is indispensable to our existence, — consequently a common thing, consequently insusceptible of appropriation; but land is much scarcer than the other elements, therefore its use must be regulated, not for the profit of a few, but in the interest and for the security of all. In a word, equality of rights is proved by equality of needs. Now, equality of rights, in the case of a commodity which is limited in amount, can be realized only by equality of possession.

Interesting source. I should read the book in its entirety. And yet, in applying Proudhon's above paragraphs here, I think you've overstated your case.

"prohibit[ion] from walking in the highways, from resting in the fields, from taking shelter in caves, from lighting fires, from picking berries, from gathering herbs and boiling them in a bit of baked clay" is a much broader principle and restriction than what is at stake here. I don't mind discussing it, but I think we should be clear. To conflate the government-protected right of a landlord to evict trespassers from privately owned property, with the government prohibiting anyone from walking down a road (modern translation of 'highway') or camping in (e.g.) a national forest, is disingenuous.

Even if I were to grant the above point, the second does not follow. Appropriation is here a question of wholesale restriction; Proudhon says that because a naturally provided necessity is scarce, it must be made absolutely free of restriction. (aside: even if that were just, it would be impossible to maintain, in the case of land, due to bad actors.) Yet we are not dealing with a dichotomy here, as Proudhon implies: what we currently experience, at least in the US, is accommodation made by the government for both ends of the economic spectrum. If you are sufficiently rich, you can afford private housing. If you are not, you have government-sponsored public housing. If you are not eligible, there are homeless shelters. If there isn't room there, the national parks are available for camping.

I don't argue that the latter options are preferable, but they answer the objection raised by your source. In short, because the problem raised by P. is not present, the argument justified by that problem is not valid.

The context here is that Proudhon was an anarchist; he'd have been equally critical of the state as he was landlords if this work was being critical of that, but this was about property in general, something he sees as common both in the land owned by the state and the land owned by private persons. The argument is that if property can be owned and appropriated, taken to its logical conclusion this would mean that any and all property can be owned and appropriated, including these common areas more guaranteed in Europe than they are in the US. Proudhon writing in 1840, at least, saw this was the case all over the world - the enclosure of the commons in Britain, for instance, which disenfranchised many from exactly those kind of activities. He doesn't argue it should be free from restriction, he says it should be regulated because it's scarce, but in the interest of all, not for profit. How this works in an anarchist society is up to him and his idea of mutualism, which is fairly niche as far as anarchism goes.

The situation he's pointing out is that you shouldn't have to be going to homeless shelters or camping in a natural park. The fact these are named as options is even rather farcical, reminding me of the quote that the rich and poor are equally barred from stealing loaves of bread and camping outside buildings. It goes beyond preference into a totally different qualitative state of living.

Yeah, I noticed the context. This is the guy who coined the phrase, "property is theft".

And actually, he is exactly talking about 'camping in a natural park':

> Let us complete the argument of M. Ch. Comte. A man who should be prohibited from walking in the highways, from resting in the fields, from taking shelter in caves, from lighting fires, from picking berries, from gathering herbs and boiling them in a bit of baked clay, — such a man could not live.

If 'a man' is free to do what he describes above, the ultimate basic human life, then he is free. You're adding onto that, somehow claiming Proudhon is also advocating for a free life with creature comforts. Proudhon is describing the basic freedom that someone without money and without assets should be able to exercise in the world - they can move about, they can sleep in a field, gather naturally growing wild food, and cook over a fire. He is absolutely not talking about some 'minimum level of comfort' that the rest of the world owes them.

The confusion here is that you're interpreting him as intending to say that man should only have those rights, but Proudhon already knows about those rights, those rights existed in his time too - yet he clearly thought there was some issue with property. So to him, and many others in that tradition, the question of freedom is not simply answered by the ability to camp in natural parks and walk on roads. Both the title of the work and its argument against property in general, not to mention the second paragraph I quoted shows that he clearly has an issue with property, not merely private appropriation of the public goods he mentioned.

Proudhon's theory of mutualism entails only usufructary use of property, that is to say, only property in possession rather than a title to land in perpetuity to do what you want with it. The theory doesn't see it as a good way to run society to profit from loans and rent.

If you had any more doubt about Proudhon's direction:

>But property, in its derivative sense, and by the definitions of law, is a right outside of society; for it is clear that, if the wealth of each was social wealth, the conditions would be equal for all, and it would be a contradiction to say: Property is a man’s right to dispose at will of social property. Then if we are associated for the sake of liberty, equality, and security, we are not associated for the sake of property; then if property is a natural right, this natural right is not social, but anti-social. Property and society are utterly irreconcilable institutions. It is as impossible to associate two proprietors as to join two magnets by their opposite poles. Either society must perish, or it must destroy property.

Churchill goes into the comparison between land ownership and labor if you read the full speech.

Intellectual property isn't really property -- it's a restriction on what others can do with their property.

By the same argument, land isn't really property, it's a restriction on what others can do with that area of the earth. I'd say that this is an argument against property in general rather than an argument against intellectual property, but my modus ponens is probably your modus tollens.

Intellectual property was created by capital with help of the state, and all other forms of property were created prior to capital but were instrumental for it with its support by the state (police and armies and enclosure). Only when capital realized that it needed to expand did it monopolize ideas as "intellectual property"; but make no mistake, it did exactly the same in the 16th and 17th centuries in Western Europe to common property.

Well the landlord's contribution is maintenance and matchmaking. The problem is that the fair economic value of maintenance and matchmaking, plus construction (labor, materials, design, oversight, etc.) when amortized monthly is far less than the average SF rent of 2-4 thousand dollars a month.

Isn't the problem in SF that the wages have gone up hugely for a small subset of the population?

If that's the case, then the landlord is just following a standard negotiation tactic [1], since this is their livlihood.

[1] https://www.monster.com/career-advice/article/dont-leave-mon...

> Isn't the problem in SF that the wages have gone up hugely for a small subset of the population?

Wages of the renting population is irrelevant to the 'fair economic price1' of an apartment. The equilibrium/fair cost of a latte doesn't go up because a few millionaires move into a neighborhood, it might go up because of a barista labor-shortage, a coffee bean-tariff, or other supply-side effect.

You're not wrong that the rent prices are being driven up because there is an influx of wealth to a subset, but the core problem is that the supply is artificially constrained. If you put a quota on lattes sold in our hypothetical neighborhood, only the rich will be able to drink them - and will pay 'rich people prices' to ensure they can (or if you prefer, Starbucks will maximize its profit in the latte constrained environment. Let Starbucks serve all the lattes it wants, and prices will stay more or less constant.

1 to be specific, the fair economic price is the breakeven + opportunity cost (profit!) to build an operate an apartment building, which can be amortized to a monthly rent per unit that would be required in order to make building the apartment worth while to the builder, architect, et al. In SF, and much of the Bay Area, monthly rents far exceed this value - which if SF was a functioning market would drive the construction of more apartments driving rents down towards their fair economic price.

> The equilibrium/fair cost of a latte doesn't go up because a few millionaires move into a neighborhood, it might go up because of a barista labor-shortage, a coffee bean-tariff, or other supply-side effect.

In my economics class, I remember drawing a supply curve and a demand curve, and labeling the intersection “equilibrium.” If a millionaire moves into my neighborhood and buys so many lattes on a regular basis that the coffee shops keep running out, it’s a hint that the demand curve has shifted, which has caused the equilibrium price to change.

Since “equilibrium” means “balance,” I can’t see you can find the equilibrium price by looking at only one of supply or demand. What is supply balanced with at equilibrium?

We are viewing the analogy differently: a millionaire doesn't drink meaningfully more coffee1 than a normal person (perhaps better coffee) but can pay more for it, paralleling the housing needs/wants of a ""tech bro"" and a teacher.

To use your version, the problem is that the coffee shops aren't allowed to make more coffee. If they could they would continue to do so (because money), at the point where they make the most total profit (not margin!) which occurs with an increase in supply. Since they now have more demand, fixed costs drop to a lower percentage and your millionaire drives down the cost of lattes, not up. Or does your neighborhood millionaire drink so much as to disrupt the global coffee bean + brewing equipment supply market?

I was only replying to a comment that acknowledged supply changes could affect prices, but seemed to intentionally downplay changes in demand having any effect (which is why my hypothetical millionaire has to buy so many lattes that coffee shops were running out; having people with more disposable income doesn’t change demand until they spend that income). Sadly I am not a millionaire myself, and have no firsthand knowledge about how they spend their riches.

Well, it seems like you're making an assumption about the 'opportunity cost' of building/operating the apartment building, that it's grown far less than the wages. If your argument (that rental costs are too high) rests on that assumption, seems like it should be addressed and backed up.

I am curious, though, about the artificial constraint you mentioned. Don't know what you're specifically referring to, would like to know more.

My analysis is a top-down one, In summary: rents in SF/Bay area are 3-4k for new construction 1 bedroom, which is say double Chicago or Houston, and much more even than the Bay Area 10 or 15 years ago. So it reasons that at the prices being paid, people should be able to build profitably. That they aren't implies they can't or have onerous restrictions.

For fun, take a (google maps) walk around SF or downtown Oakland and count the single-family homes, parking lots, and vacant lots that, at least mechanically, could easily be turned into very profitable apartments - yet aren't.

> I am curious, though, about the artificial constraint you mentioned. Don't know what you're specifically referring to, would like to know more.

Restrictive zoning, planning commissions, NIMBYs, activist groups (historical societies, environmental groups,), onerous and vague regulations1 (that can be easily challenged in court.) for a few examples. All serve to both make development costs increase and project success uncertain.

1 e.g. Regulations should exist that require buildings to be earthquake safe (environmentally friendly, etc.), but said regulations should also provide concrete metrics to define 'earthquake safe' otherwise nothing stops lawsuits alleging a failure to properly design a building to be earthquake safe -- which costs a lot of money and time.

You should take a walk around downtown Oakland. Most of the parking lots have turned into construction sites over the last 3 or 4 years. Not many tear downs happening yet(a few, like an Acura dealership across from Whole Foods getting torn down and a ~20 story apt building going up in its place), but this boom has gone on so long that the NIMBYs have finally gotten tired and thousands of apartments will be coming on the market in Oakland pretty soon.

As a long time home owner in the area I like how this is finally happening after decades of people thinking an Oakland revival was just around the corner. Most of the companies doing the construction are from out of state. Maybe they just didn't know it was impossible to build in Oakland, saw the huge potential profits, and went for it.

Well, I don't disagree with either of those points. :) Thanks for the elucidation.

A question: is N * $x less than or greater than M * $y, where N is the number of current units for rent, M the proposed number of units (N < M), $x is the current rental price minus the cost of providing those units, and $y is the proposed rental price minus the cost there (presumably, $y < $x).

I'm wondering if the current disfunctional market is economically rational.

There's no such thing as a "fair price". There's just what people are or aren't willing to pay.

For others reading, the appropriate concepts are economic rent and rent seeking. The model espoused above (what people will pay) captures too few behaviours to be useful on its own in this situation. Certainly, the question of whether property taxes should be capped and whether governments should allow more buildings to be built requires tools beyond “the value is the current bid price”.

Unfortunately, in the modern American economic system, prices are set by what consumers are willing to spend (assuming that is above what producers need to ask) rather than whatever "fair economic value" is.

That's just a case where the government is the landlord.

Article about the villanous side of a Western "hero" and the top comment is cribbing about rents in the Bay Area.

This is peak Hacker News.

Sounds like ideologic revisionism to me.

The old history was written on the basis of an ideology that considered nonwhite lives to be worth less than white ones. It is in dire need of revision.

How so? What is "ideologic" about examining his record with respect to the rule of India (and Ireland)?

Only because we easily dismiss the evil perpetuated in the colonies, push those things under the rag, and revise history to rewrite Hitler as the only evil in the world.

It's understandable to some degree. After all, Churchill and colonialists just enslaved and killed inferior third world peoples (who cares about them), while Nazi Germany occupied and killed westerners...

What I find most curious is that exactly one of the groups the Nazis systematically slaughtered went from being widely regarded as an acceptable target for racist degradation to being given a country, despite ~2,000 years of being treated as literally the servants of Satan, while the other groups the Nazis targeted only gradually gained equal rights.

What’s up with that? I wish we could give every disadvantaged group something like that. Although hopefully we’d learn lessons from creating the modern state of Israel and avoid a repeat of the six day war.

The Israelis weren't entirely given Israel, they took it at gunpoint ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1947%E2%80%931949_Palestine_wa... ). Anti-semitism is still a real problem and there are plenty of people willing to claim that the k word is "acceptable".

What was unique was the coordination of the diaspora to achieve the founding of the Jewish state.

As always, the world seems to be messier and more complicated than I realise.

This is perhaps most apparent with the Romani, who were targeted for extermination by the Nazis and are still hated today by a great many Europeans. It's always surprising to me how many Europeans chime in whenever this point is raised with "Well actually..." defenses for why their prejudice against Romani is justified.

This is from the Guardian, not some right wing newspaper:

"Most recently, postal workers said they were so frightened delivering in Eastwood after being mugged for their parcels that they no longer went out alone. “They are terrified because of the level of intimidation,’” said Champion. She went out on a round with two postal workers: “If I wasn’t with two post people, I would have been running away. I was really shocked how bad it was.”"


This is because of poverty, lack of schooling, a culture of mistrust of the outsider (on the Roma side too), etc. But it doesn't disappear if people close their eyes because they have some idea that all groups of people behave statistically the same.

Is it the chicken or the egg, though?

Do they behave this way because they are inherently inferior or because they have been marginalized by society for hundreds of years?

I truly believe that being rejected by society leads to antisocial behaviour. It doesn't excuse it, but it does explain some of it.

>Is it the chicken or the egg, though?

Obviously it's not the people as human beings at fault. There is no "bad DNA" involved. Nobody is "inherently inferior".

>I truly believe that being rejected by society leads to antisocial behaviour. It doesn't excuse it, but it does explain some of it.

Sure. But whether it's the chicken or the egg matters when accessing the overall situation. When many from a group of people causes problems where you live, you don't care as much for the historical origins of their behavior, you first and foremost want the problems to stop.

Now, if those people complaining where also historically part of the problem (e.g. historically rejected/oppressed the Roma), we could care less about their complaints.

> His record in Britain’s former colonies more closely resembles that of a war criminal

> Churchill has the blood of millions on his hands whom the British prefer to forget.

If only citations mattered to people.

> Churchill was one of the few British officials in favor of bombing Irish protesters from the air, suggesting using “machine gun fire bombs” to scatter them.

A thought without action. War gaming is common. You suggest a full range of ideas and only use the most sensible option.

> In fact he argued that poison gas was more humane than outright extermination: “The moral effect should be so good that the loss of life should be reduced to a minimum.”

Referring to tear gas. And they never used it! He was war gaming.

> Churchill was an open admirer of Mussolini, declaring that the Italian Fascist movement had “rendered a service to the whole world.”

That's called politics. Politicians have to flatter less than savory world leaders all the time.

> “the superiority of [the British] race” and that those who resisted would “be killed without quarter.” He wrote happily about how he and his comrades “systematically, village by village, destroyed the houses, filled up the wells, blew down the towers, cut down the great shady trees, burned the crops and broke the reservoirs in punitive devastation. Every tribesman caught was speared or cut down at once.”

He was a war correspondent -- a journalist. He has to say these things. Coverage of wars is always heavily censored and filled with propaganda.

> He fantasized luridly of having Mahatma Gandhi tied to the ground and trampled upon by elephants.

Gandhi was asking for Indian independence while Imperial Japan was invading Bengal. Not great timing! In Churchill's eyes, Gandhi was sabotaging the war effort and breaking up the empire that he loved so much. Churchill and Gandhi were political enemies. No doubt every one is guilty of wishing this on their opposition... Hell, there's a common fantasy of killing "baby" Hitler in America.

> Thanks to Churchill’s personal decisions, more than 3 million Bengalis died of hunger in a 1943 famine.

Ignoring the fact that Japan was attacking India through Bengal... Bengal is a casualty of war not a "personal decision" of a racist imperialist. The author conveniently ignores the fact that Churchill asked the US for food aid to end the famine... The US refused because it was not possible to provide aid. So Churchill ordered Australia to begin shipping food but Australia's capabilities to ship food were not great because of...you know WORLD WAR 2. Should Churchill have ceded India to Japan? Would Japanese occupation been better for Indians? Not in China's experience!

Turns out when you save the world from Hitler, you don't have to be a paragon.

Whenever I say that about Stalin, people get mad at me.

stalin was worse than hitler. caused much more death and misery.

Maybe because it is a) wrong about Stalin, and b) Staling killed far more people than Hitler, Churchill, and Ted Bundy combined?

I put Churchill, Stalin and Roosevelt on much the same plane - their wartime performance largely overcomes their respecting failings as peacetime leaders.

That asshole Churchill sent the Black and Tans into Ireland. They and the Auxiliarys committed grevious human rights abuses...he's no hero.

While we're Churchill-bashing, let's not forget his legacy as First Lord of the Admiralty. He had the bright idea to force the Dardanelles by landing at Gallipoli. Utterly futile, terrible loss of life, particularly among the ANZAC corps, no military gain.

I believe his original plan was to force the passage using naval firepower; the landings were a compromise with the Navy, who didn't want to lose all their old battleships.

Not clear on how the original plan would have been better? If I recall correctly it was tried and abandoned because the passage was heavily mined.

Churchill isn't the only one or at all unique. What major imperialist leaders wouldn't fit the label "war criminal"? Or much worse: the founding fathers of the US weren't exactly saints either. The systematic pursuit of slavery over hundreds of years makes war criminals and their acts almost look like child's play. This in no way is limited to the past. Leaders today fit that description just as much. People love war criminals. That's why they vote for them.

apexkid 29 days ago [flagged]

Perfect article. High time people dismiss the self proclaimed heroic version of western history and know the reality. A person with noble prize deserved to be hanged till death in an Indian jail.

This comment breaks the site guidelines, which say "Comments should get more civil and substantive, not less, as a topic gets more divisive.".

If you'd please review https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and follow the rules when posting here, we'd be grateful.

Applications are open for YC Summer 2019

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact