Monthly Archives: February 2014

Life on Hannan World (Part 11)

The Lyin’ King is as predictable as clockwork: you can always rely on him to produce at least one blog per year in which he repeats the lie that the Nazis were “socialists” or produces a variation on that dishonest theme (The BNP is ‘left-wing’ is one such theme). Today’s blog (the comments thread was originally closed) ploughs the same tedious furrow as his previous efforts. The title is a blatant piece of red-baiting: “Leftists become incandescent when reminded of the socialist roots of Nazism”.

He opens his latest smear with this scene-setter:

On 16 June 1941, as Hitler readied his forces for Operation Barbarossa, Josef Goebbels looked forward to the new order that the Nazis would impose on a conquered Russia. There would be no come-back, he wrote, for capitalists nor priests nor Tsars. Rather, in the place of debased, Jewish Bolshevism, the Wehrmacht would deliver “der echte Sozialismus”: real socialism.

Yes, he’s mentioned Hitler in the first sentence. Clever, huh? Nope.  The first sentence of the second paragraph continues the theme.

Goebbels never doubted that he was a socialist. He understood Nazism to be a better and more plausible form of socialism than that propagated by Lenin. Instead of spreading itself across different nations, it would operate within the unit of the Volk.

Goebbels? Yeah, he was a real leftist. A proper Bolshevik.

Let’s skip down a paragraph, where he attempts an early defence of his, er, smear-job.

The clue is in the name. Subsequent generations of Leftists have tried to explain away the awkward nomenclature of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party as either a cynical PR stunt or an embarrassing coincidence. In fact, the name meant what it said.

I don’t know how many times I have to say this: but how ‘liberal’ is the Australian Liberal Party? Come to think of it, how communist is the Moldovan Communist Party? The truth of the matter is that there was no ‘socialism’ in Nazism. The early Nazis may have referred to themselves as socialists, but their brand of ‘socialism’ is known as ‘Strasserism’. It was named after the Strasser brothers, who proposed it as a Nazi response to socialism that was ultra-nationalistic, militaristic and anti-Semitic.  Strasserism’s roots are  in the Catholic form of Distributism that was based on the teachings of Pope Leo XIII and Pope Pius XI. Even if the Nazis claimed to be the ‘real’ socialists, it doesn’t necessarily follow that they were actual socialists. Anyone can say stuff like that. The Tories have claimed to be defenders of freedom. We know that isn’t true… unless you’re talking about preserving the freedoms of bosses to exploit workers. Then, yes, the Tories stand for freedom.

But here’s the worst part of this wretched attempt at historical revisionism for dummies.

Hitler told Hermann Rauschning, a Prussian who briefly worked for the Nazis before rejecting them and fleeing the country, that he had admired much of the thinking of the revolutionaries he had known as a young man; but he felt that they had been talkers, not doers. “I have put into practice what these peddlers and pen pushers have timidly begun,” he boasted, adding that “the whole of National Socialism” was “based on Marx”.

Laughable. Next, Dan will be telling us the Hitler Diaries weren’t a hoax. National Socialism was the marriage of corporate and state power that was imposed through coercion, fear and intimidation. No workers’ control of the means of production. No workers’ rights at all. Socialists, Communists, anarchists and trade unionists were persecuted. Many died in work camps.

And here’s where The Lyin’ King slips up:

Marx’s error, Hitler believed, had been to foster class war instead of national unity – to set workers against industrialists instead of conscripting both groups into a corporatist order.

Hannan doesn’t understand the nature of class conflict (a necessary component in understanding how socialism works), because he belongs to the dominant class: the bourgeoisie, rather than the dominated or subaltern classes.  It is in his interest and those of his class to refuse the existence of class conflict. Indeed, a war has been waged by the dominant social formation against the subaltern classes for centuries. For example, the Inclosure Acts were used by the ruling classes as a weapon in the war against the so-called ‘lower orders’,  stripping them of the right to agriculture and amusement on common land (the seasonal fairs were also closed down by the end of the 18th century). If it’s one thing that the right hates to be reminded of, it’s social class. Tories like Hannan hate the idea of class consciousness unless its middle class consciousness.

More red-baiting.

Leftist readers may by now be seething. Whenever I touch on this subject, it elicits an almost berserk reaction from people who think of themselves as progressives and see anti-fascism as part of their ideology. Well, chaps, maybe now you know how we conservatives feel when you loosely associate Nazism with “the Right”.

Note the use of language here: a “beserk reaction from people” he says, “who see anti-fascism as part of their ideology”. Hannan’s suggesting there’s some kind of confusion on the part of the Left’s anti-fascism. It’s another way of saying, “Leave those fascists alone. They deserve to be heard”. He closes this paragraph by claiming the Nazis weren’t right-wing and it’s all been an attempt on the part of the Left to smear the Right.  Seriously! I hate to tell you this, Danny, but the Catholic Centre Party – a conservative political party – effectively handed power to Hitler. The Nazis are associated with the Right, not only because of the sympathy of German conservatives, but because their ideology was extremely nationalistic, militaristic and racist. How can I put this to you, Dan? You’re talking crap.

The idea that Nazism is a more extreme form of conservatism has insinuated its way into popular culture. You hear it, not only when spotty students yell “fascist” at Tories, but when pundits talk of revolutionary anti-capitalist parties, such as the BNP and Golden Dawn, as “far Right”.

Notice how The Lyin’ King has moved seamlessly from German Nazism to Italian Fascism. Notice also how he talks of “spotty students” yelling “fascist” at some unnamed Tories, because that’s what this is all about: some people calling the Tories “fascists”. He forgets how his side tends to shout “Communist” at anyone who identifies as a ‘liberal’ or a Labour voter.  But what’s this suggestion that the BNP and Golden Dawn aren’t “far-right”? If they aren’t far-right, then what is to “far-right” of the Tories? Nothing? Laughable. But didn’t Tory treasure, Alan Clark, have Nazi sympathies? I think he did… In fact, he once told a journalist,

I am not a fascist. Fascists are shopkeepers, people of that sort. I am a Nazi.

The analysis in the next paragraph is woeful. If an ‘A’ Level History student included this drivel in an essay, they’d get an “F”. Dan has a degree in Modern History from Oxford University.

What is it based on, this connection? Little beyond a jejune sense that Left-wing means compassionate and Right-wing means nasty and fascists are nasty. When written down like that, the notion sounds idiotic, but think of the groups around the world that the BBC, for example, calls “Right-wing”: the Taliban, who want communal ownership of goods; the Iranian revolutionaries, who abolished the monarchy, seized industries and destroyed the middle class; Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who pined for Stalinism. The “Nazis-were-far-Right” shtick is a symptom of the wider notion that “Right-wing” is a synonym for “baddie”.

A grown man wrote this and was paid for it? You’re having a laugh. By the way, Vladimir Zhirinovsky is the leader of the Russian Liberal Democratic Party – a party that is neither liberal nor democratic. Dan sort of sidesteps him and his terrible party. Funny how The Lyin’ King kind of forgot that. Poor choice, Dan.

I’ll skip to the final paragraph, because the rest of the blog just gets itself into a terrible tizzy.

Next time you hear Leftists use the word fascist as a general insult, gently point out the difference between what they like to imagine the NSDAP stood for and what it actually proclaimed.

Yeah, I can’t wait for that. In fact, I’m setting the timer. I reckon another one of these blogs will be along in another 8 to 12 months.

Say, didn’t many Tories support the Nazis and didn’t The Daily Mail run the infamous headline “Hurrah for the Blackshirts”? Let’s give those Blackshirts a helping hand.

Then there’s Aidan Burley

Oh and Dan, at the risk of me being tautological: the Nazis were extreme right and reactionary conservatives.

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Telegraph Comment of the Week (#28)

On Monday, Dan ‘Tribal Loyalty’ Hodges, the Telegraph’s Blairite-in-residence, attempted to write something objective about the BBC. But as anyone will tell you: the right – especially those who leave comments on Telegraph blogs – hates the BBC, because of its imagined ‘left-wing’ bias. Hodges’s blog: “The BBC isn’t anti-Tory. It’s anti-government” sounds like it should be anti-authority, maybe even counter-cultural, but rather predictably, it is anything but.

He kicks off with,

Today has seen yet another significant drop in unemployment; down 125,000. The trend is clear. The war against unemployment is being won.

Groovy. So what is this really about?

Which of course isn’t what’s supposed to be happening. Only yesterday I became involved in a round of Twitter handbags with former MPC member David Blanchflower, who had confidently predicted “Tory public spending cuts ‘could push unemployment to 5 million’”. According to Blanchflower “If spending cuts are made too early and the monetary and fiscal stimuli are withdrawn, unemployment could easily reach four million.

The thing is, Dan, that apparent ‘drop’ in the numbers of unemployed is entirely concocted. You’re forgetting the numbers of people who’ve been sanctioned, forced into workfare, working ‘self-employed’ and all those other people who are on zero hours contracts. Then there are all the part-time workers who want to work full-time but can’t because the jobs aren’t there. You’re not exactly playing with a full deck. Are you, Dan?

Two paragraphs down and we get to the real point of the blog.

So how does the Today programme choose to cover this dramatic fall in unemployment? With a feature on the scourge of youth unemployment.

Oh dear. Yes friends, the Today programme hasn’t done what it was supposed to do: suck up to the government, which it does every day without fail.

But hang on, what’s this?

But this charge of “Left-wing bias”, or more accurately “pro-Labour bias” is too lazy. It’s true there is a small “l” liberal culture which dominates the Corporation.

Dan, if this is your idea of trying to persuade your headbanging readers to accept the BBC is anything other than ‘left-wing’ you’re wasting your time. Oh and god damn those liberals! Yeah. That’s a sentiment that even this week’s commenter,  CassandraKing, can agree with.

CassandraKretinThose damned left-wing scumbags at the BBC allowed people with dissenting views to express their opinions of Thatcher when she died. Did they? The thing is, the coverage of the week-long Thatcher binge was dominated by gushing tributes from those who worshipped her  as the ‘saviour of Britain’.  The same oleaginous types even tried to rewrite history before our very eyes. “Cassandra” (a delusional choice of online name for sure) can’t see this. “The Maggie haters got more air time than those who loved her”,  she thunders. Aw, diddums.

“CassandraKing” then claims that the BBC turned into “North Korean TV” in their coverage of the death of Nelson Mandela. I hate to tell you this, Cass, but Mandela was a better politician than Thatcher. In fact, Mandela fought a struggle against oppression. Thatcher fought on behalf of the oppressors. She hated unions, unless they happened to be in Poland and she defended apartheid.

Tony Benn is next for the Cassandra treatment.  She whines “The BBC will allow no demonstrators or critics airtime”.  First, let me ask “what demonstrators”? Right doesn’t do demonstrations because it doesn’t need to. I mean, just look at the Rally Against Debt a few years ago. The right couldn’t even muster two hundred supporters for an issue about which it was apparently passionate. Not even Toby Young could be arsed to turn up. No doubt about it, “Cassandra”, like many right-whingers is playing the victim here.

“CassandraKing” closes with the standard “the BBC is the mouthpiece of extremist left/green axis”. The “left/green axis”, eh? The BBC? Yeah, right. Only in DelingpoleWorld.

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Political Comedy and Me

Since I started performing comedy back in the 1980s, I have often seen myself as a ‘political’ comedian. In the early days, my comedy probably wasn’t as political as it became towards the end of the 1990s. By that stage, my set was around 80% political. These days, it’s closer to 97%. Being a left-wing political comedian or a comedian who is interested in left politics, doesn’t necessarily mean that I bat for the Labour Party (I don’t), nor does it mean that I spew a stream of cheap politically-charged invective for quick laughs (‘Thatcher is a cunt’ clearly lacked analysis). There’s more to it than that.

Often, when people hear the word ‘political’ prefacing the word ‘comedy’, they assume that the comedy in question is taking sides with one political party or another – usually a left-wing party or ideology. In the 80s, I used to tell people that when I talked about politics I was using that word in a much broader sense than what is generally understood. Sometimes they looked confused. But for me there is no confusion. As feminists used to say (and still do), “The personal is political”. Catherine Itzin, writing about left-wing theatre companies, said in her book, Stages in the Revolution “Everything is political” (1986: 2). If you have an opinion on something – even on the cost of foodstuffs – then you hold a political position. When people tell me that they “hate” politics, I despair. Of course, what they really mean is that they hate party politics and career politicians. No one is completely apolitical.

When I started in comedy, the main political issue for me was consumerism and its consequences. In 1988, I wrote a comedy piece called “The Shopping Centre That Ate The World”. The piece was influenced by the expansion of the Eldon Square Shopping Centre in the middle of Newcastle City Centre, whose continued expansion seemed to be out of control. Eldon Square was joined by the new Metro Centre in Dunston, near Gateshead. It is a massive shopping complex that was once considered to be the largest of its kind in Britain (sorry, Sheffield, but Meadowhall is smaller). These new shopping centres arrived to coincide with the increased uptake in credit card ownership and the availability of cheap credit. All of a sudden, people rushed to get their hands on credit cards and take out loans for consumables. This is exactly what the Thatcher government wanted. Loans, which were suddenly considered to be ‘products’ could now be included in the country’s GDP figures. Loans, in effect, could be used to make the claim that the economy was ‘booming’ when in fact, it was heading for recession.

More recently, I have included a piece in my set that addresses the oft-used remark used by politically disinterested comedians who continue to tell me that politics “isn’t funny”. Yet, the same comedians would claim that nothing is too sacred for comedy. If that is the case, then what about politics?  Aren’t these people contradicting themselves? Of course they are. Stephen Wagg (1997) notes that in Britain, politics – as it is generally understood – was traditionally the preserve of the aristocracy and landed classes. Therefore, it was assumed that these people possessed some kind of specialized, but esoteric knowledge that was off limits to the uninitiated. The politicians themselves were seen as untouchable; above criticism. Indeed, in the music halls, it was forbidden to lampoon or satirize politicians, who were treated somewhat deferentially; almost like demigods. It wasn’t until Beyond the Fringe that this attitude began to change, but it’s still a struggle some 50+ years later to satirize politicians if you come from a working class  background.  The production of satire in Britain remains  stubbornly in the hands of an Oxbridge and public school-educated elite.  Armando Ianucci’s MBE a couple of years ago, serves to remind us that political satire is still a bourgeois pastime. Only these days, satire also has state approval.  State-sanctioned satire, regardless of how entertaining it is, is an oxymoron because it does nothing to raise consciousness. It fails to speak to power, because it is produced by the same social class that holds political power. In what other country does this happen?

There is a depressing lack of comedy that addresses the issues that we face today. We have a government in power that rides roughshod over the majority of the people, yet many stand-up comedians would rather talk about their dicks, their cars and what they had for lunch than speak to power.  Sometimes, I think that, in terms of comedy, we’ve moved backwards. It’s only a matter of time before someone goes and books Jim Davidson to appear at their comedy club. They already have, you say? Well, there you go.

References

Itzin, C. (1986) Stages in the Revolution: Political Theatre in Britain Since 1968. London: Methuen

Wagg, S. (ed) (1998) Because I Tell a Joke or Two: Comedy, Politics and Social Difference. London: Routledge.

Wagg, S. (2002) “Comedy, politics and permissiveness; the satire boom and its inheritance” in Contemporary Politics, Vol. 8, No. 4 (2002). Accessed via JSTOR

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Filed under comedy, Popular culture

The benefit debate is a diversion – that’s why it will go on and on

I only caught part of the ‘debate’ that followed Benefits Street, Channel 4’s latest entry into television’s hall of poverty porn shame. I watched as Allison Pearson repeated the same old myths about benefit claimants and sat in despair as the bloke from Pimlico Plumbers proceeded to repeat Pearson’s myths but with the addition of the word “fuck”. Let’s get one thing straight: these are not debates in the accepted sense of the word; these programmes are designed to attract lots of advertising revenue. They contribute nothing to the ongoing discussion about the lack of jobs and the pathetic amount of money that unemployed people are forced to live on. In the right-wing universe, if you’re poor, it’s your fault. If you lose your job through redundancy, it’s your fault, because you didn’t find a job where you couldn’t be made redundant. If that last bit sounded absurd, that’s because it is, but it’s no less absurd than the constant repetition of myths and tropes by people who have never had to struggle to feed their family and pay bills on £71 a week.

This is a reblog from Mike Sivier’s excellent blog about the Benefits Street ‘debate’.

Vox Political

140218benefitstreet

How many of you tuned into the last episode of Benefits Street on Channel 4, and stayed on for the debate that followed?

Quite a few, I reckon.

They were worth watching, but the feeling that was left with this viewer (and I’ve been reviewing television for 20 years or more) is that we are talking ourselves around in circles – led by politicians with a vested interest in perpetuating the discussion.

They don’t want a solution. They want us to keep going over the same ground – which they have laid out for us with very specific limits – and they want to concentrate our anger about this issue so that we blame, not the people responsible – the tax dodgers who put money into tax havens that could be invested in British industry, the private landlords and low-paying bosses who are subsidised by the benefit system and the…

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Telegraph Comment of the Week (#27)

The severe weather that’s been affecting the British Isles for the last few weeks has provided a stark reminder that climate change is here and it is real. Climate change sceptics or ‘deniers’, as they are sometimes called, respond with the usual mush about how fossil fuels aren’t a contributory factor to the change in climate and how we should all learn to love breathing heavily polluted air. The ‘deniers’ are a scientifically-challenged bunch, who pretend to know more about science than they actually do. Lord Nigel Lawson is one such fellow. Lawson possesses no scientific qualifications… unless you count his degree in PPE, which includes the dismal science of economics but aside from that, he’s no scientist. He is, however, working on behalf of the very industries that are responsible for pollution and he loves to frack.

Climate change sceptics are an odd bunch. Take Brendan ‘Eddie Munster’ O’Neill, a man who takes a contradictory position on almost anything. Today he takes the side of the petrochemical industries over peer-reviewed scientific research. In a blog titled “Are you now or have you ever been a climate change sceptic”?

Eddie takes over from where his erstwhile stablemate, James ‘Norma Desmond’ Delingpole (who left Telegraph blogs this week),by accusing the Green Party’s Natalie Bennett of “McCarthyism” because she said in a BBC interview that “every senior adviser who refuses to accept the scientific consensus on climate change shouldn’t be in their posts”. Fair enough. Would you have a creationist in charge of teaching evolutionary theory? Well, no you wouldn’t. Therefore, it makes perfectly good sense to exclude any adviser whose views are ideologically opposed to climate change.

Eddie can’t see this. He groans:

Perhaps we should ask every aspiring civil servant, “Are you now or have you ever been a climate-change sceptic?” The Green Party’s proposal shows how authoritarian and intolerant environmentalist politics has become, so that everyone who raises awkward questions about the climate-change consensus is branded a “denier” (a term borrowed from the Inquisition) and anyone who fails to conform to the right way of thinking on climate-change issues will swiftly find themselves accused not just of being wrong, but of being immoral and even dangerous – the Green Party says senior government advisers who refute the green consensus are “endanger[ing] our future and our children’s future”.

This is paranoid stuff from Eddie and he knows just what his readers want, so he lays it on some more.

When a party can so casually call for the sacking of political advisers who do not accept a particular outlook, a particular consensus, then it’s pretty clear that party has lost any attachment to the age-old ideals of free thought, free speech and the rights of conscience. The Greens are demanding nothing less than a purge of eco-heathens and political undesirables from public life. And in the process they have revealed their true instincts, which are to demonise their opponents rather than debate them, censor stuff they don’t like rather than challenge it, and, like a secular version of yesteryear’s pointy-hatted enforcers of Biblical correctness, brand as beyond the pale anyone who doesn’t accept the gospel of greenness.

Notice how he continues the religious theme in this final paragraph.  The Greens are “demanding purges” and they “demonise their opponents”. Not that O’Neill ever demonizes anyone. Oh no. Not our Eddie. Parties call for sackings all the time but in O’Neill’s eyes, the Greens are a special case and his readers agree with him. This week’s comment was provided by someone calling themselves “bluepeter”.

bluedickheadNotice how this one immediately ties the idea of climate change to “wealth re-distribution”. Yeah, wealth redistribution is bad, it’s kind of like communism for “bluepeter”.  What I find curious about this comment is the way the author seems so certain of the merit of his bad arguments. “It’s not a debate the believers wish to have because they know they will lose” (my italics). The climate change sceptics believe that anyone who supports (the correct word for those who accept the scientific position) the idea of climate change are the same as members of a religious cult – as Eddie had done earlier with his Inquisition references. Not that the ‘deniers’ attitudes aren’t cult-like or the their unwavering belief in bankrupt economic theories borders on blind faith. Please, spare me the hysterics.

“Bluepeter” closes by suggesting the Greens, climate change scientists or anyone else who doesn’t agree with him are “fascists” adding  they, “silence the opposition”. Which is kind of funny when you think about it,  because that’s what today’s fascists (who tend to refer to themselves variously as ‘nationalists’ or ‘libertarians’ these days) accuse anti-fascists of doing when they oppose fascists on our streets. I even had someone suggest to me that trade unions who went on strike were ‘fascists’. Fascism and Nazism were both opposed to trade unions. Who says irony is dead?

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Libertarians and nostalgia

Libertarians. Don’t you find them ridiculous? For all their talk of freedom and liberty, they’re nothing more than wannabe feudal overlords. They’re fond of telling us how their idea of a minimal or ‘night watchman’ state will lead to a better world for all of us. Yet, whenever they open their mouths to speak, they inadvertently betray their true thoughts.

The other night I was listening to The World Tonight on BBC Radio 4. On the programme were two self-described libertarians discussing the floods. One of them was Telegraph columnist, Peter Oborne and I didn’t catch the other person’s name. The unnamed libertarian whined about the state and described it very much in the same terms as a teenage boy would describe his parents. “I hate my parents”, was more or less the what he was saying. “Why can’t they leave me alone to pull the legs off this fly”? Oborne told listeners that in the 19th century people would have dealt with the flooding themselves. This almost casual remark about 19th century Britain revealed the inner workings of the mind of the ‘libertarian’: they are not forward-looking, rather they are backward-looking romantics who are only capable of viewing history through the distorted lens of nostalgia.

In a libertarian world, the rich would be much richer than they are now and the rest would live as serfs. For the libertarian, the 19th century was a period of almost unparalleled ‘freedom’ when the bourgeoisie was more or less free to do as it pleased and the working classes knew their place in the hierarchy. It should come as no surprise that the term ‘social mobility’ does not appear in the lexicon of apparent libertarian freedoms.

So what is so great about the 19th century? True, there were scientific advances but there was a great deal of ignorance. Poverty and disease were rampant and most people were kept in the dark about their own body. Colonialism may have brought many riches to the aristocracy and the newly embourgeoisised middle classes alike, but the poor remained resolutely poor. Some libertarian once tried to tell me that the poor were “richer” at the end of the 19th century than at the beginning. The word “poor” means exactly that and the idea that the poor were somehow better off by 1900 is not only laughable, but fundamentally dishonest.

The libertarian right uses all the means it has at its disposal to hoodwink the gullible into signing away its rights for what it calls “freedom”. Yet in a libertarian world, only those who already possess material wealth and the privilege that comes with being members of the middle and upper classes will enjoy any kind of freedom. They’ll tell you that they hate war and that they stand for equality. But many of them would happily invade another country to ensure their bogus concept of ‘free trade’. This is why a good number of them have degrees in War Studies.

One of the favourite themes of the right libertarian is so-called ‘flat taxes’ which they claim are fair and that everyone – the low waged included – will benefit from them.  This is, of course, nothing more than a delusion.  If everyone pays the same rate of income tax, then those who are on meagre incomes will suffer, while the rich carry on as normal. The last time the UK had a flat tax was in the late 80s and early 90s, it was called The Poll Tax and it was seen as ‘fair’ by the Thatcher government. It cost millions to implement and cost even more to pursue the defaulters through the courts.

Right libertarians are accomplished liars who believe in the logic of their own lies. The very idea of social progress is anathema; it sounds too much like real fairness and being closeted social Darwinists, in their eyes, only the strong (in this case, the rich) should survive. If you don’t have the money to pay for the treatment of a chronic illness, then that’s too bad. You die.

Libertarians aren’t capable of looking forward. Their idea of the future – and they won’t admit to this – is to create a dystopian world from highly-selectivized memories of the 19th century. It may well be a technologically advanced world but it would have the feel of the Middle Ages to it, where knowledge is concentrated in the hands of the ruling elite and, even then, only certain kinds of knowledge would be considered valid.

Right libertarians are fantasists who want you to share their dream of a ‘better’ world by signing over your human rights and accepting the marketization of all social relations. Remember, in the world of the right libertarian, the police exist solely to protect the rich and oppress anyone who disagrees or steps out of line. – just as it was in the 19th century.

In the 19th century, Britain was a police state in all but name. No wonder right libertarians view the epoch with such affection.

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Filed under Government & politics, right-wing libertarians, Taxpayers Alliance

Telegraph Comment of the Week (#26)

Every so often, the Lyin’ King produces a blog about the American Civil war in which he muses over what it would have been like if the war never happened. All of Hannan’s blogs on this subject are, more or less, grandiloquent attempts at historical revisionism: they tend to play to a particular constituency of reader who sees the Civil War as the end of a golden era and any attempt to say otherwise is part of an huge conspiracy by the “Feds” to deceive you.

Hannan’s view of the American Civil War is perfectly aligned with the neo-Confederalist movement in the United States. This movement is, as I have written elsewhere on this blog, intellectually supported by the Ludwig von Mises Institute, which produces all manner of revisionist stuff about the war and of the role it played in the abolition of slavery. On this latter point, the neo-Confederates can’t quite come to terms with the fact that slavery is, fundamentally, an evil enterprise. Instead, what we see from them is the continual production of articles that support and justify the institution of slavery as a noble enterprise that proceeds, albeit ahistorically, in a fine epoch’s old tradition.

Today Hannan asks “Could the American Civil War have been avoided”? The short answer to that question is: no, it was inevitable. Yet, we find with the Lyin’ King and the neo-Confederates that such things as historical materialism are despised and, in their eyes,  it is much better to fantasise about an alternate world in which the southern states are still practising slavery and the slave-owners are a uniquely noble form of human being who really care about their chattel. In this dystopian fantasy world, everyone knows their place.

This doesn’t stop Hannan from dreaming of what might have been:

Might slavery have been abolished without bloodshed? It’s hard to say. The ban on the import of new slaves would eventually have finished the institution, but at a price of decades of suffering for those already in bondage. Peaceful manumission, as had happened much earlier in Britain, was the obvious alternative, but the slave-owners were in no mood to sell. Then again, had they been able to foresee the future, they would surely have grabbed at compensated abolition.

Hannan claims that the import ban on slaves would have finished the institution. What he doesn’t dare mention are the slave-breeding farms of Virginia and Maryland, the internal slave trade in the Southern states, or the plan to seize Cuba from Spain and use that island as a slave state should the South be forced to relinquish slavery.  The capitalists, in this case the slave-owners, are compensated, but the victims – the slaves themselves – are considered unworthy of reparations; they’re just human capital in the minds of the hard-nosed, hard-faced capitalist, who only sees the world in terms of profit.

I’ve seen Hannan claim, like the LvMI claim that the American Civil War was a “tariff war”. It’s a feeble attempt at a economic rationalization of the war. The war and its causes were much more complex and a major part of the reason for war was the issue of slavery. Hannan would do well to read up on the slave revolts, John Brown, Bleeding Kansas and the Kansas-Nebraska Act.

Now to our comment of the week. “Jim Blane” has already graced this series and so, once again, we find he’s come to give us the benefit of his knowledge deficit. He justifies chattel slavery by claiming that “Slavery has been practiced for thousands of years by all races and civilizations”. All “races and civilizations”? Laughable. But because it existed in history is no excuse for it to exist today. Moreover, the kind of slavery that existed thousands of years ago was not based on what Fanon called “melanism”, it was predicated on the idea that the vanquished should be enslaved because they had been defeated in battle.

Dim Blame

Here “Dim Brain” claims that the first slave owner in “North America” was a “Black African”. This is fictitious. Notice how he doesn’t actually provide any evidence for this assertion. The right despises evidence as much as it despises the working class and they only accept history as long as it’s been airbrushed first.

The level of ignorance in this comment is shocking. Nowhere does our dim friend make a distinction between the nature of chattel slavery and the forms of slavery that were practised before its introduction by the Spanish and Portuguese. The entire point of this comment is to claim that white people are superior to other ‘races’. Notice how he begins his comment with “Educating White Guilt Ego Glow Peddlers”. What does that mean? If he’s setting himself up as an educator, then it’s no wonder these people are so dim. Then there’s his claim that “The White man was the first to ban slavery . and if he had not it would still be going on in Africa and Asian today” (sic). Nonsense. Slavery continues to this day in the so-called developed countries as well as parts of Africa and Asia.

“Dim Brain’s” last point is an exercise in how to write white nationalist drivel. He claims that ” Only the White race has served up an indictment for crimes against humanity upon all of it’s children’s children for all eternity as a way for White middle /upper class progressives to insaiate their insataible greed for moral supremacy” (sic).  Put down the crack pipe, matey.

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