Two examples of Orwellian thinking

When George Orwell wrote 1984, he’d intended it to be read as a satire. Many years later, doublethink and doublespeak have become the norm in our political system. What I find with these politicians and their parties is that there is no trace of irony in their selection of names. They actually believe in their lies to the extent that they see them as universal truths.

I have identified two think tanks that have both adopted Orwellian names. The first is the Centre for Social Justice, a think tank that was set up shortly after Iain Duncan Smith resigned as leader of the Conservative Party. The CSJ claims to be ‘independent’ but as we all know, no think tank is free of ideology; it simply isn’t possible and it is dishonest to make the claim that it is so. The CSJ’s remit is, as you might expect, social justice. But this notion of social justice comes from a Conservative perspective. Ergo, one needs to take a tonne of salt when approaching the work of the CSJ.

The CSJ rightly identifies housing as an issue but it stops well short of offering real solutions. This is perhaps the most revealing passage in their section on housing

The law should be changed so that local authorities are free to use new social housing, and existing social housing as it becomes vacant, as they see fit.

So if a property becomes vacant, then a local authority can sell it off if it “sees fit”.  That solves nothing. In fact, it contradicts the paragraphs that appear below it, such as

The current homelessness obligation must be changed so that authorities are required to assess the housing and other social needs of people who present as homeless, focusing on the underlying causes of their homelessness. Their emphasis must be to agree an appropriate package of support to meet those needs in a holistic way.

I think this happens already. So nothing new or exciting here. The inclusion of the word “holistic” is there to suggest a ‘touchy-feely’ approach – this is caring Conservatism, which is, in itself, an oxymoron.

There should be a requirement that new working age tenants and their landlords sign commitment contracts under which the tenant agrees actively to seek work and the landlord agrees to provide or access support such as training or childcare to help them do so.

Which “landlords” are we talking about here? Private or social? IDS has already made it plain what he thinks of social housing.

Over the years, our housing system has ghettoised poverty, creating broken estates where worklessness, dependency, family breakdown and addiction are endemic

So rather than attack the underlying conditions, he attacks the homes that people live in. The word ‘causality’ cuts no ice with these Tories!

The CSJ’s remit covers the entire gamut of social issues which are viewed through the lens of privilege. Those who form their committees and lead their working groups come from upper middle class backgrounds. The criminal, Jonathan Aitken has been welcomed as the chairman of the Prison Reform Working Group. He was given this role presumably because of his previous experience of doing time for perjury. He was also involved in the arms trade.

The second and perhaps the most disturbing of the two Orwellian think tanks is the Centre for Social Cohesion, The director of the CSC is Douglas Murray, arch-Zionist; opponent of common sense; distributor of paranoid conspiracies and fan of Leo Strauss. The site claims that

The Centre for Social Cohesion is a non-partisan think-tank that studies issues related to community cohesion in the UK. Committed to the promotion of human rights, it is the first think-tank in the UK to specialise in studying radicalisation and extremism within Britain.

I like the way these people think we will be hoodwinked into accepting their word that they are ‘non-partisan’ or ‘impartial’.  The CSC also claims to be “committed to the promotion of human rights”,  but it is selective about who is entitled to such rights. If the first paragraph didn’t do the trick, the CSC ram the point home again in the final paragraph,

NON-PARTISANSHIP: The CSC is an independent think tank with no party-political affiliations.

They can say it as much as they like but I know this isn’t true: Douglas Murray is a Conservative who describes himself as a ‘neo-conservative’ and that should set off some alarm bells. While the neo-cons are in retreat in the US, Murray hopes that by repeating the ‘message’ that Europe is being Islamicized, people will rush to burn down their local mosque and embrace neo-condom. He worries that he may see minarets on every street corner instead of pubs – which are now closing by their hundreds every month – and witness to implementation of Sharia Law in our lifetimes. Never mind that Halakha or Jewish Law has been used in civil cases for years without certains popping up and warning of a creeping’ Judaification’ of Europe. Murray’s got his sights set on Islam and there is no way to convince him that he’s wrong.

In January, Murray published a blog in the Daily Telegraph in defence of the racist Geert Wilders. The title of the blog was “Geert Wilders: on trial for telling the truth”. “On trial”? “Telling the truth”? If that is your truth, let me tell you mine: you’re stirring up hatred and you barely conceal your dislike of anything that doesn’t conform to your paranoid thinking. I will take no lessons on ‘social cohesion’ from you or your crackpot organization.

I can only wonder what other names they will devise for their think-tanks. Perhaps the Centre for Social Responsibility will be next. This think-tank will be charged with making private companies more socially responsible by permitting them to pollute as much as they like.

UPDATE: 6/3/12 @ 2140

The Centre for Social Cohesion was absorbed into the equally vile Henry Jackson Society last April.  Below is a screengrab of the CSC’s homepage

Here’s a link to the people who run the Henry Jackson Society.  Dougie has been installed as an “Associate Director”. Is that like an “Executive Vice-President” or something? Just below that in “Communications”, we find Michael Weiss. He leaves his blogs on the Telegraph. Weiss’s recent blogs tend to be focussed on Syria. Do you smell a rat? So do I.


Filed under Language, Society & culture

9 responses to “Two examples of Orwellian thinking

  1. Pingback: Foot Problems 101

  2. Peter Reynolds

    You are right about Douglas Murray and his cronies. I understand your cynicism about the Centre For Social Justice too but I think you’re less than generous to IDS for his sincere efforts. I agree that, like Michael Howard, he comes across badly (whose inane idea was it that either of them could ever be a good Tory leader?)

    Socialists don’t have a monopoly on social responsibility you know. Caring Conservatism is a reality however much you may deny it.

    • “Caring conservatism” is a catchphrase that was devised by Tories who were sick of being labelled the ‘Nasty Party’. I find the Damascene conversion to all things social suspicious, given the party’s penchant for slashing public spending. However, when one unpacks IDS’s latest proposals, I see nothing but treatments for symptoms. There is no acknowledgement that the roots of the current problems lie with the Thatcher government’s zeal in promoting the free market.

    • My “Centre for Social Responsibility” was an ironic take on the Centre for Social Cohesion which doesn’t promote social cohesion at all.

      • Peter Reynolds

        Coincidentally, I just heard Douglas Murray again on Radio 4 talking about refugees. He was surprisingly lucid at times but he had a rabbi with a persecution complex (sorry is that tautology) with him trying to make everything to do with refugees be about Jews. Why do they think they’re at the centre of the universe and everything is about them?

      • The whole point of the free market is that it is completely unregulated. Regulation sticks in the craw of any self-respecting ‘libertarian’ or…coughs…anarcho-capitalist (surely an oxymoron?).

  3. buddyhell

    One thing Murray and many other commentators do is to erroneously regard all Palestinians as Muslims, which is clearly not the case. The negotiator, Dr Hanan Ashrawi, for example, comes from a Christian family as did George Habash of the PFLP. In fact, the PFLP are active in Gaza…which never gets reported.

    Not all Jews are Israeli and many Jews want nothing to do with Zionism. Israel likes to claim that it ‘speaks for all Jews’ in the same way that the Board of Deputies of British Jews is seen by the media as being ‘representative’ of the Jews of this country. Israel is more than happy to continue promoting the notion that any criticism of it is ‘anti-Semitic’ and use the Holocaust as a tactic to shut down discourses that it doesn’t like: namely its continued occupation of the West Bank; its ongoing dehumanisation of the Gazans; the trigger happy antics of its security forces and its belief that it can behave in an extra-legal manner and not get called on it.

  4. Pingback: Heard the Tory joke about social mobility? « Guy Debord's Cat

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