Category Archives: Neoliberalism

Militant Anti-Fascism. Why I Support It.

In the aftermath of Charlottesville, I’ve lost count of the number of liberals , who have decried the tactics of Antifa. Even some on the left, most notably Noam Chomsky, have complained that Antifa has “handed a propaganda coup the the neo-Nazis”.   First, I need to put something to bed right away: Antifa is not an organization or a political party, it’s a position. If you oppose fascism in all its colours, then you are Antifa. Militant anti-fascism is an expression of Antifa that has a long history in Europe but not in the United States, where neo-fascists, neo-Nazis and assorted racists have been permitted to express their ‘right to free speech’ largely unhindered; often aided and abetted by local law enforcement and, more recently, supported by a variety of self-styled ‘libertarian’ organizations, which have questionable objectives. If you don’t believe me, have a look at the Ludwig von Mises Institute website or the confused position of Spiked Online, which seeks to normalize and even excuse neo-Nazis, neo-fascists and assorted racist groups by deflecting attention from them onto militant anti-fascists. Instead, the likes of Brendan O’Neill (himself a nouveau bourgeois) would like you to believe that militant anti-fascism is a creature of the ‘middle class metropolitan elitist left’ or some such nonsense. The truth could hardly be more different: the greatest resistance to fascism and Nazism in Britain has traditionally come from the working class, not from the middle class.

What really annoys me are the muddle-headed claims that “Antifa are the real fascists” and “militant anti-fascists are as bad as the fascists”. Those who utter those statements are most likely to be white, middle class and liberal; the very people who are unlikely to suffer random attacks from roaming gangs of neo-Nazis.  Why? Because fascists usually march through working class and immigrant neighbourhoods to stir up hatred and to engage in displays of triumphalism. Militant anti-fascists neither march through working class neighbourhoods nor engage in random attacks on minorities.  Middle class neighbourhoods are usually left untouched. For a good example closer to home, why not have a look at the Orange parades that go through Catholic/Nationalist communities in Northern Ireland?

After World War 2, the Jewish men and women of the 43 Group had come home from fighting fascists, only to discover fascists were still marching and organizing in London’s East End. Here’s their story.

The 43 Group didn’t shrink from using their feet and their fists to counter the violence of the fascists. So here’s are a couple of questions for all those white middle class liberals agonizing over Antifa: what would you have done? Allow the fascists to continue to march through your community? If you answered “yes” to the last question, then you’re too comfortable. When I say “comfortable”, you are comfortable because you know these racist thugs aren’t going to stir up hatred where you live and, given your ambivalent attitude, you’re more likely to shrug when they claim that “immigrants are stealing your jobs”. You may even grudgingly agree with them.

Here’s a video about Anti-Fascist Action (AFA) which was set up in 1985 by Red Action and other anti-fascist groups. The documentary is narrated by Mensi Mensforth of the Angelic Upstarts and appeared on BBC2 in the 90s.

If you think ignoring fascists will make them go away, it won’t. If you turn the other cheek to a fascist, don’t be surprised if it’s slashed with a razor. Neo-fascists and neo-Nazis want to divide the working class along the lines of skin colour. If you look at the leaders of any of the far-right parties, you will see that, more often than not, they’re drawn from the middle class and the aristocracy; well-supported by the petite bourgeoisie and propped up by certain sections of the nominally free press. Indeed, when right-wing authoritarian regimes (fascist, military, far-right nationalist) have come to power, the self-styled free world allows them to continue unimpeded, but should a left-wing government come to power, there is an intense disinformation campaign in the media and every possible effort is made to destabilize it.

Neo-Nazis and neo-fascists are capitalism’s shock troops. Whenever there’s a crisis in capitalism, the fascists appear – almost as if by magic. The language of today’s fascists may have altered superficially, but the underlying discourses of white supremacy and ethnic hatred are just below the surface. Listening to them will achieve precisely nothing. In fact, they will take that as a sign of your approval.

I support the activities of militant anti-fascists because I think their use of force is a necessary tactic to counter the violence of the far-right on the streets. If you think allowing neo-fascists a platform to say whatever they like is necessary because you believe everyone has a right to free speech, just imagine what would happen if the far-right ever came to power. The free speech, that you cherish so dearly, would be taken away and you’d be carted off to prison or worse.  Now you can accuse me of histrionics if you like, but you’ll have to name a country in which the far-right have gained power and have allowed people to criticize them. I can’t think of one.

Edited to add:

This article from Alternet appeared on the Salon site and is worth a read.

If you’re reading this and you’re a member of the ‘alt-right’ or any of the groups mentioned in this article and wish to leave an abusive comment, then don’t bother because I will delete it. 

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Right-wing Cliches (#7) “Benefit Tourism”

The Tories love to bandy about expressions like “benefit tourism” (“health tourism” is another such phrase) to make their spurious points about immigration seem more credible. But let’s be honest: no one comes to this country to claim a measly £74 a week in Jobseeker’s Allowance. “Ah” I hear you cry “what about the other benefits, like Housing Benefit”? What about Housing Benefit? You really think immigrants come to this country to sample the delights of housing benefit and live in decrepit properties owned by our slum landlords? Think on.

If people wanted to sample real benefits, then there are better countries they can go to. Germany is one country and France is another. Benefits in these countries are far more generous than the paltry benefits available in Britain, which are paid at poverty levels set, apparently, by the National Office for Statistics. If the benefit levels are set by the NOS, then they must be working to 1970s figures because no one can live on  £74 a week. Not even the braggart and habitual liar, Iain Duncan Smith, can live on that kind of money – in spite of his unsubstantiated claim that he can live on £1 a day.

So, in reality, no immigrant comes here to live on benefits. They come here to work in the sorts of jobs that are beneath those who complain the most about immigration. Immigrants also pay more in tax than the average British worker. Indeed, they pay more tax than the so-called ‘wealth-creators’ that this government is forever talking about. So when the government complains about the budget deficit, they could always raise taxes on their rich mates but, instead, they would much rather you hate the immigrants who are putting money into the Exchequer’s coffers. How’s that for logic?

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Let’s Talk About: Economic Growth

Images like this mean nothing to Dan Hannan. who prefers to deal with fictional characters than real people and their complicated lives.

Economic growth or just ‘growth’ is the holy grail of career politicians, neoliberal economists and their hangers on in the media. We’re often told how important it is to have ‘growth’ in our economy and it is only then that everyone will see the benefit. The trouble with this notion is that those who continually spout this rubbish aren’t the ones who need to worry. They’re already comfortable. The ones for whom these pronouncements mean little, if nothing at all, are the poor and the low waged. They continue to see their income squeezed, while the cost of living continues to rise. But the media and the government will have none of it.

A few weeks ago, the BBC’s economic editor, Robert Peston, was crowing over low oil prices. He told the nation’s viewers that “everyone” would now feel “richer” because of the continued fall in petrol prices. This is not only misleading; it’s also dishonest. The only people who can feel “richer”, by definition, are the rich themselves. If you are poor, you cannot be “rich”, it’s an absurdity. Yet this does not stop the likes of Daniel Hannan repeating this meaningless tosh. In Thursday’s blog for CapX, he repeated Peston’s bogus claim that “The rich are getting richer and the poor are… getting richer”. This is a measure of how out-of-touch our media and politicians are in relation to the people they purport to serve. We can also draw the conclusion that the mainstream media, the Westminster politicians and economic cults like the Adam Smith Institute and the Institute for Economic Affairs are in a cosy conspiratorial relationship with one another. The relationship between these institutions and ordinary people themselves is one of power. They consider themselves to be the voices of authority and we must listen and obey… or so they think. So when they tell us that “things are getting better” we are expected to believe them. But I no more believe them than I believe in the existence of God, the tooth fairy or Father Christmas. I see no improvement and neither do millions of other people.

The problem with those who constantly talk about ‘growth’ is that they can only speak the language of statistics and mathematics, and can only view the world through the lens of their social status. They are incapable of relating their nutty ideas about economics to the average person because what they’re saying bears no relation to everyday life. Trickle down, for example, is one economic fallacy that is repeated ad infinitum by economic cultists and held up as a model for ‘growth’ and economic well-being. But not even right-wingers like George HW Bush believed it and derided trickle down as “voodoo economics”. Yet the Hannans and Osbornes of this world cleave so tightly to it like men at sea clinging to any bit of flotsam that comes their way.

A couple of months ago, the Labour leadership claimed that if the Tories were re-elected, they would take public spending back to the levels of the 1930s. This was enough to get all manner of right-wing economic cultists into a lather. Hannan was one of those. In this blog, he does his best to claim how the 1930s was a “time of growth”. It’s a risible misrepresentation of a decade that’s become synonymous with economic hardship.

Well, here’s a fact that may surprise you. The 1930s saw more economic growth than any other decade in British history. It’s true that there were patches of deprivation. As in all times of economic transition, some industries declined while others rose. The poverty of the Jarrow Marchers was genuine: theirs had been a ship-building town, devastated by the collapse of international orders.

Sophistry, damned sophistry. For the millions of working class people who struggled to survive the decade, this is an insult to their memory. My mum’s family was Liverpool working class and I can remember her telling me what life was like in the Thirties: if you were poor or low-waged, you had no access to affordable or decent healthcare, because there was no National Health Service (the Tories will abolish it if they are re-elected). There was very little work on Merseyside in the 1930s, so people lived a hand-to-mouth existence.

Hannan continues his fantasy tour of his romanticized past:

Yet these were golden years for new industries such as electrical appliances and aviation and cars, the years when Morris, Humber and Austin became household names. The 1930s also saw an unprecedented boom in construction, as the comfortable suburbs of Betjeman’s Metroland spread across England. The Battersea Power Station raised its minarets over the capital, a symbol of self-confidence in architecture.

Here, Hannan waxes floridly about a world that only those with the economic means could take part. The appliances and cars that he talks about were beyond the means of my family and many others. No working class people owned cars, let alone possessed household appliances. My grandmother was still using a boiler and a mangle well into the 1970s. As for Metroland, the houses that were built there were for sale. Only those with nice, middle class incomes could afford a mortgage.

Here, Hannan slaps more gloss onto his fantasy.

 Britain responded to the 1929 crash by cutting spending drastically and, in consequence, soon saw a return to growth. The United States, by contrast, expanded government activity unprecedentedly under the New Deal, and so prolonged the recession by seven years. Yes, seven years. Here is the conclusion of a major study published in 2004 by two economists at the UCLA, Harold L Cole and Lee A Ohanian:

Cole and Ohanian are comprehensively defenestrated in this blog. Hannan isn’t interested in reality and like all right-wingers of his ilk, he exists in the hermetically-sealed space of privilege. The material of history is bent and twisted to shrink-fit a weak narrative. Like many of his fellow Tea Partiers, he makes the same feeble argument for cuts.

Contrasting the American and British experiences, we are left with an inescapable conclusion. Cuts work, and trying to spend your way out of recession doesn’t.

Let’s put it this way, if a company doesn’t borrow or spend money to invest when it is doing badly, it will go under. Cuts only work for the already wealthy. They are also a means by which the powerful punish the poor for being poor. Hannan makes clear his hatred of FDR and the New Deal. This is the same position held by the economic cultists at the Ludwig von Mises Institute as well as his fellow Randists.

This is perhaps the greatest fallacy of all:

Still, if only for the record, let me set down the real lesson of the 1930. The best way to recover from a crash, not least for low earners, is to bring spending back under control. Growth follows, jobs are created, and the people taking those jobs thereby gain the most secure route out of poverty.

It’s easy for those who have never personally experienced poverty to claim that “the most secure route out of  poverty” is work. Low-paid and zero hours contract jobs actually lock people into poverty. Hannan is not only a fool, he’s a dangerous fool. Leaving people to fend for themselves without a safety net will lead to greater social problems. Hannan is unmoved by such concerns. Yet he would be the first to complain that shanty towns are an “eyesore”. This is the man who calls himself a “Whig”.

Talking about economic growth when people are struggling to survive is deeply offensive. Talking about GDP is meaningless because not only is it a poor way of measuring economic performance, it means nothing to ordinary people. For all his claims of how cutting public spending will improve economic performance, Hannan has never had to suffer the privations of working in a low-paid job. Like all of his pals in Westminster and beyond, he is a bully, who talks a good talk but when his words are unpacked, they reveal the true horrors of the current political system.

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The Immigration ‘Debate’

Do something now or we'll end up with someone like this as Prime Minister

We need to do something now or we’ll end up with someone like Geert Wilders as Prime Minister

Every time I hear the words, “Let’s have a debate on immigration”, I wonder if that’s what the speaker actually wants. What I’ve found, more often than not, is a desire on the part of the speaker or speakers to control the discourse on immigration. All too often, there is an ugly discourse lying behind the façade of this apparent ‘need’ to want to ‘debate’ the subject of immigration.

What’s worse are the numbers of self-described ‘left-liberals’ who are prepared to countenance some pretty appalling views for the sake of ‘free speech’. These people are willing to listen and even respond – albeit feebly – to the discourses offered by the anti-immigrationists, whose speech has not changed one iota since the 1970s. Yet, the left-liberals seem to sincerely believe they can have a rational and sensible dialogue with people whose views on minorities, women and the disabled are frankly obscene. To adapt Fanon: if they’re talking about immigrants (or Muslims), then they’re also talking about you. While our ‘left-liberal’ friends are politely debating Nazis and other hardcore right-wingers, attacks against minority groups including the disabled are on the rise in Britain.

And now we hear the old hate speech again, the talk of ‘floods’, ‘invasions’ and being ‘swamped’ are  joined by  familiar words associated with hygiene like ‘contamination’. Other emotive  phrases like ‘mass immigration’ are deployed to appeal to people’s emotions. More recently, I’ve seen words like ‘genocide’ and ‘treason’ being used on public internet fora. Take this example of a comment left on Douglas Carswell’s nit-picking diatribe against the recent UCL study into immigration on Telegraph blogs:

JohannKierk

“Genocide”. Yes, this is the kind of language used by those who want a ‘debate’ on immigration.  The definintion of the word ‘genocide’ is:

noun

[mass noun]

  • the deliberate killing of a large group of people, especially those of a particular nation or ethnic group:

Hysteria, hyperbole, histrionics, paranoia and playing the victim are all part of the right’s strategy to control the discourse on immigration and the liberals fall for it every time.  I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard or read, ‘Our voices aren’t being heard’. Utter rubbish. Nigel Farage has appeared on Question Time 25 times since 2009 and the views that are expressed by these vile simpletons grace the comments threads of the Daily Telegraph, The Daily Mail and The Daily Express every day of the week.  Articles with sensationalistic titles, such as the one cited by our racist friend here, help to reproduce the poisonous discourse of nationalism and its fixation on a pure, but nonetheless, constructed ‘British’ identity.

Even the supposedly ‘left-wing’ Labour Party has taken the bait and pandering to the Tory-supporting press, UKIP and the notional but bloodthirsty man-on-the-street, it too wants a ‘debate’; its spokespeople admitting that Labour ‘got it wrong’ when it was in power. What seems to have escaped the Fabian Party’s attention is that these anti-immigrant discourses have only become more vocal since the Crash of 2008.  If there’s a problem with the economy, then in the minds of the racists and the gullible it’s the fault of the immigrants. It was like that in the 1930s and 1970s and its come back with a vengeance.  It’s as though the events of history have been wiped from the collective memory of these postmodern politicians as they pursue the grand prize of everlasting political power. What do they care beyond paying lip service?

Any mention of racism to these people is greeted with ‘anti-racism is a code for anti-white’. How on earth can you reason with people like this? You can’t. If gullible liberals believe they can have a polite discussion with these extreme nationalists, then they are deluding themselves. This is no time for cordiality.

If you want to see what could happen in Britain in 10 years time, look across the North Sea to the Netherlands, where Geert Wilders racist PVV party is currently ahead in the polls.  On Wednesday, Wilders is due to meet Marine Le Pen of France’s racist Front National. Two years ago, UKIP’s then leader, Malcolm (Lord) Pearson, welcomed Wilders to the House of Lords to show his film, Fitna. Be in no doubt, these parties enjoy the warmest of relations in the European Parliament and for all their talk of freedom, they want to enslave those of us who are different.

Britain, it’s time to wake up. We need to respond to the attacks on our communities and we need to hit the anti-immigrationists hard.  These people cannot be reasoned with. If you turn your back to them, they will plunge a knife into it. You have been warned.

UPDATE 13/11/13 @ 0941

David ‘Shoot the Bastards’ Blunkett channels Enoch Powell in this article on the BBC website.

Tensions between local people and Roma migrants could escalate into rioting unless action is taken to improve integration, David Blunkett has warned.

The former home secretary fears a repeat of race riots that hit northern cities in 2001.

His concerns centre on the Page Hall area of Sheffield, where Roma migrants from Slovakia have set up home.

But he also accused the government of “burying their head in the sand” over the scale of Roma settlement in the UK.

In an interview with BBC Radio Sheffield, he said the Roma community had to make more of an effort to fit in with British culture.

“We have got to change the behaviour and the culture of the incoming community, the Roma community, because there’s going to be an explosion otherwise. We all know that.”

It’s hard to believe that Blunkett was once the leader of one of the most left-wing councils in Britain. Now he earns praise from Falange.

Mr Blunkett’s intervention was praised by UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who campaigns against the ending of border controls for migrants from Romania and Bulgaria, both countries with significant Roma populations.

“The fact that he is talking of the significant difficulties with the Roma population already in his constituency should be taken seriously by the likes of Cameron, Clegg and Miliband.

“My question is if they won’t listen to the dangers of opening the door to Romania and Bulgaria next year when UKIP speak out on it, will they listen to David Blunkett? I certainly hope so.”

Look at Blunkett now, doing the dirty work of the right.  Shame? He doesn’t know the meaning of the word.

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Life on Hannan World (Part 9)

The occasion of Milton Friedman’s 101st birthday…no, he’s still dead, I just checked… has moved the Lyin’ King to pen this gushing tribute to the man whose economic theories have quite literally turned the world into a toilet. Dan opines:

Today would have been Milton Friedman’s hundred-and-first birthday. The Chicago economist, who died in 2006, is already acquiring that almost Homeric status that normally comes only decades after a man’s life.  Perhaps social media have speeded up the process, or perhaps it’s the fact that Friedman’s strongest enthusiasts are often students with no direct memory of their hero.

Friedman, darling of neoliberals everywhere and supporter of Pinochet’s Chile, where his theories were rammed down people’s throats, is given the airbrush treatment… well, that’s not quite true. Friedman’s supporters refuse to see any flaws in the man. In their eyes, he was the very model of economic perfection. So no need for the airbrush.

Yet for someone who talked so movingly about ‘freedom’, Friedman was capable of turning a blind eye to political repression. For him, all that mattered was the functioning of the free market with its insistence that social relations be reduced to financial transactions between actors. Friedman was also fervently against any form of regulation, so in a pure Friedmanite dystopia, surgeons can practice without proper qualifications and driving licenses would be banned. Can you see the dangers? Yes? Well, Dan can’t.

Here, Hannan tells us:

Friedman did not limit himself to academic theories; he had a keen sense of how to translate ideas into action. He understood politics very well, and used to say that his aim was not to get the right people elected, but to create a climate where even the wrong people would do the right thing. Every year I spend in politics I find that insight more brilliant.

Yes, Friedman understood politics so well that in his perfect world, certain kinds of political activity would have been outlawed because they didn’t fit into his perfect model of a rampant capitalist society.

Here we get to the core of the blog:

What mattered to him most of all? Oddly enough, it was nothing to do with monetary policy, or indeed with economics at all. He believed that the single measure that would do most to ameliorate society was school vouchers.

School vouchers, loved by Pinochet’s Chicago Boys and loathed by those who have had to put up with a substandard education, have become a sort of gold standard in the eyes of the Right.  Higher education, too, has moved backwards. For the last few years, students have been protesting over the inequalities of the education system. Dan simply ignores this.

He had first suggested the idea as early as 1955 – in an intellectual climate so unfriendly that he might as well have been proposing that children be cooked and eaten.

You can see where this is heading and predictably enough, Dan tells us:

But the climate shifted, not least through Friedman’s own interventions and, by the end of his life, a few places were prepared to give his idea a go. Chile had led the way in the 1980s, followed by Sweden in the early 1990s. Milwaukee became the first city in the US to adopt vouchers 23 years ago, and around a quarter of a million American pupils are now benefiting.

“Chile had led the way in the 1980s” he says. No mention of the oppressive weight of the Chilean ‘small state’ crushing those below. No mention of the thousands rounded up, tortured and executed. No mention of the oligarchical free-for-all ushered in by Pinochet’s ‘hands off’ approach to the economy and its disastrous consequences for ordinary Chileans. He continues:

Though Britain has stopped short of full-blown vouchers, Michael Gove has plainly embraced the idea that governments can fund schools without running them, and the free schools programme is one of the greatest of the Coalition’s achievements.

The truth of the matter is that the Tories have been historically opposed to the state school system and have spent the better part of 60 years talking it down when they’re out of power and running it into the ground when they’re in government.  The unspoken dictum here is “some state schools are bad, therefore the state education system is bad”.

The Cat believes that the Tories would prefer it if everyone paid for their schooling and if you can’t find the money, that’s tough. You will die illiterate and ignorant. Why? Because it’s God’s will. That’s why.

Finally Dan tells us:

With his wife, he established the Milton Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, which has helped thousands of students, especially poor students, to get a decent education.

“Choice” has been used as a battering ram since the 1980s. But choice is neither here nor there. You can only have what is available. The Tories believe that if you don’t live in the catchment area of a school that you’ve fetishised, then you should be able to bypass the rules and send your kid there anyway. Better still, set up your own free school where you can be free to inculcate children in any superstitious tosh that occupies your thoughts.

While 75% of free schools were found to be “good” or “outstanding” by OFSTED inspectors, 25% were not. This article from The Guardian says:

One of the first free schools to open has been placed on special measures and given an inadequate rating by Ofsted inspectors, in an untimely blow to the government’s flagship education policy.

Adding:

Inspectors were severe on the primary school’s leadership, saying its governors failed to grasp the school’s “serious shortcomings”, while school leaders “believe the school is far better than it is”.

The inspection team gave the school the lowest grade, of “inadequate”, in three of four categories, for pupil achievement, quality of teaching, leadership and management. “Too many pupils are in danger of leaving the school without being able to read and write properly,” inspectors concluded. “Unless this is put right quickly, pupils are unlikely to flourish in their secondary schools and future lives.”

To borrow from the Tories’ lexicon of smears, I could say that “some free schools are poor, therefore all free schools are poor”. But unlike Dan,  I’m not that petty.

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The Philpott case and the Right’s warped benefits narrative

In the aftermath of the Mick and Mairead Philpott trial, the Right blamed the murders of 6 children on the Philpott’s “addiction” to benefits.  First, the Daily Mail produced its sensational front page (above), then the Telegraph chipped in with its ‘analysis’. Both articles use a tragedy to push the abolition of the benefits system by making use of narrativizations. In other words, this terrible event has been magically transformed into a particular kind of story that fits the neoliberal’s small state discourses .

Let me take you back to 2008 and a mansion fire in Shropshire that caused the death of a family. The perpetrator was Christopher Foster, a wealthy businessman, who had allegedly accumulated massive debts and was staring financial ruin in the face. Foster died in the fire that was intended to mask the shootings of his wife and his 15 year old daughter.

The Guardian says

Police believe Mr Foster killed his 49-year-old wife and 15-year-old daughter at their £1.2m home in the village of Maesbrook, Shropshire, before setting fire to the property. Their burned bodies were found at Osbaston House days after the blaze in August last year.

The hearing at Shrewsbury magistrates court heard that in December 2005, Mr Foster told police his former accountant was blackmailing him over a joint property deal in Cyprus. Two defendants were prosecuted and found not guilty at Shrewsbury crown court in November 2006.

The inquest, attended by Mr Foster’s mother Enid and his younger brother Andrew, was shown photographs of the luxury five-bedroom house before and after the blaze in the early hours of 26 August.

Images of the dining room showed containers of heating oil on the floor. The inquest was told an oil tank used to heat the property was sited in outbuildings and would have been full at the time of the fire.

The body of Christopher Foster was found lying on top of his wife on the floor beneath what would have been their bedroom.

Home Office pathologist Dr Alexander Kolar said Jill Foster died as a result of a gunshot wound to the back of the head, which appeared to have been carried out by another person. There was no indication she was alive during the fire, he said.

Their 15-year-old daughter had a wound to the left side of her head, caused by a high velocity impact. It was likely she died as a result of a gunshot wound, Dr Kolar said, but he could not rule out the possibility that her injury was caused by falling debris.

The court was told alcohol was found in Mr Foster’s urine, indicating he may have been drinking on the night of the fire.

Yet, the Right wouldn’t dare to lazily join the dots between these tragic deaths and Foster’s wealth. Why not? I think we know why not.

On the same day that The Guardian produced its story, the Mail coughed up this sensationalist cack:

But Foster knew a great deal about fires. According to his brother Andrew, he was always fascinated by them. He even set fire to Andrew accidentally when they were boys.

The Mail had its angle but it didn’t blame the deaths on Foster’s wealth.

Now the argument that the Right would put forward would go something like this: “At least Foster used his own money to kill his family”. That’s a rationalization and it’s this same lazy thinking that allows them to view the Philpott case as one where “my (sic) money was involved” in “subsidizing” a lifestyle. The truth is this: it is not your money that pays people’s benefits.  Furthermore, if one adopts that kind of attitude to benefits claimants, then why don’t they adopt the same position when it comes to MPs ever-increasing salaries and their swollen expense accounts?

The real tragedy is that many British people are unable to think for themselves and allow the press to produce their opinions for them. Pumped with stories of benefit cheats and plied with grog from the trashy, voyeuristic mess that is The Jeremy Kyle Show, these people connect dots and see anyone who is struggling to make ends meet as “subhuman”.

But it wasn’t just The Mail that was guilty of apportioning blame to the benefits system. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Honourable Gideon Osborne, heir to the baronetcy of Ballintaylor and Ballylemon, says in this video that the Philpott case “raises questions” about the welfare state “subsidizing lifestyles like that”.

Even an expensive education has failed to teach Osborne critical thinking skills. The rationale goes something like this: one benefits claimant is bad, therefore all benefits claimants are bad.

In today’s Daily Mail, Tim Shipman, uses his article to take a swipe at the Labour party, which he believes, doesn’t want a “debate” on the welfare state. But it is not a debate that he or the Right wants; they want to control the discourse on benefits: this means lying and smearing those who oppose their warped narratives.

Within hours of his remarks about Philpott, he faced a backlash from Left-wingers who accused him of ‘cynically’ exploiting the tragedy to push the Government’s case for cuts to handouts.

Senior Tories said the reaction of the Opposition is proof that it still fails to grasp the depth of public fury at the way some have abused the benefits system.

If you ever believed that this country had a “free press”,  then now is the time to cast your naive beliefs aside. This country’s “free press” operates, mainly,  as an unofficial Ministry of Information. The manufacture of consent for further cuts and dismantling of the welfare state begins on the pages of the Tory press and the mainstream television channels.

In connecting this tragedy to a poisoned ‘debate’ on welfare, the Conservative know that they can further control discourses on the very existence of the welfare state and, by doing so, pull the so-called “hardworking families” and so-called floating voters into their orbit.  Make no mistake, if the Tories win an outright majority at the next General Election, they will abolish what’s left of the welfare state. They cannot be allowed to do this.

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Life on Hannan World (part 6)

Ed Miliband’s speech was such a roaring success with Tory hacks that even the Lyin’ King has pitched in.  But remember, this is Hannan were talking about, so he has to get in a swipe at what he believes to be socialism even if it isn’t socialism. It’s in his nature. So it comes as no surprise when we find that, like an incontinent, he can’t stop himself from repeating his  claim that Labour (and by implication the Left, generally) has a monopoly on “hate”. He dribbles,

Britain has historically been fortunate in the temper of its Left-wing party. You don’t have to look far to find socialist movements rooted in envy, authoritarianism and bloodthirstiness.

Here, Hannan’s understanding of Britain’s Left-wing parties is woeful. Like so many Tories he can only see one party, the Labour Party.  He also repeats the by now familiar canard that the Left’s politics are “rooted in envy” (Number 1 on my list of the Right’s clichés) . Unfortunately for the Lyin’ King, I can always find legion examples of Right-wing authoritarianism and bloodthirstiness. Hitler? Pinochet? Salazar? Franco? I could name more if you would like me to.  Then there’s the iconic figure of Churchill, who sent troops into Tonypandy and warships to the Mersey and Humber. His enthusiasm for gassing Kurds and Arabs in Mesopotamia is well documented. But Hannan’s pathological dishonesty leads him to the false conclusion that his side – the Right – is free from any taint of authoritarianism.  Labour’s alleged Left-wing position is entirely relative but for the Lyin’ King, that’s proof enough of their culpability. It’s been said many times that Tories are thick and here’s further evidence of their join-the-dots mentality.

The paragraph below treads some familiar ground.

[…] While there has always been a hate-filled element in Labour, it has been balanced by a different tendency: one that sought to improve the lot of the poor, not by tearing down the system, but by extending opportunities.

The Cat knows Dan is projecting. I’ve seen it before.The real hatred resides in the Tory Party and its policies, which are designed to attack those who are poor, disabled, low-waged or claim benefits. What’s more is that we have plentiful evidence.

Ed Miliband nodded at that ambition in his speech yesterday. By invoking Disraeli, he echoed the Fabians, who used to cite Dizzy as an exemplar of ‘Tory socialism’. The old egomaniac can be slotted, without much difficulty, into the tradition of Blake and Morris and Cobbett and Chesterton and Ruskin (another Tory socialist) – a tradition Labour once valued.

What is this “Tory socialism”? There is no such thing. Notice how he labels Chesterton (we can presume it’s GK Chesterton that he’s talking about) a “socialist”. He was no such thing. He was a Distributist. There’s a big difference between Distributism and socialism. Briefly, Distributism was the Catholic Church’s response to socialism. The Vatican loathed socialism and sought to find a way to attract those Catholics who were tempted to embrace it. Indeed, Chesterton was briefly interested in socialism but only briefly. He was also an anti-Semite. Remember, anything that doesn’t look like laissez-faire capitalism is socialism (sic) on Hannan World. He cannot tell the difference to save his life. He also believes that Strasserism is socialism and takes any opportunity to tell us that the Nazis were socialists and how all on the Left are, in fact, closet fascists. It would be amusing if it wasn’t so pitiably stupid.

Hannan saves up his bile for the end of the blog, which I have highlighted in bold.

A glance at his neighbours, though, tells us that Frank Field is in the minority. The party of Keir Hardie is now mainly the voice of the white collar public sector, less interested in raising the working man than in expanding the legions of administrators and liaison officers, outreach workers and racism awareness counsellors, regulators and inspectors, licensors and clerks who make up Labour’s electoral base and supply most of its MPs.

Laughable. If Frank Field is left-wing and a socialist, then I’m the King of Tonga. Field was originally a Tory, which explains why the Tories like him so much. It’s also revealing that Hannan doesn’t like the idea of anti-racism initiatives. This is generally the position of those who call themselves “classical liberals” (sic), most, if not all, of whom accept Galton’s social Darwinism as scientific fact. This is why Hayek is so appealing to Hannan and his brethren: his theories provide an economic justification for social Darwinism. His word is unassailable truth in the mind of the free-marketeer.

Hannan’s article exists to reassure his fellow Tories that they have nothing to fear; they can carry on smashing what’s left of Britain’s trade unions and rewarding the rich with more generous tax cuts, while the poor take the hit. That is what passes for fairness in the socially Darwinian mind of the Right. This is the topsy-turvy Randian logic of Hannan. No wonder this country is in such a mess.

Finally, if my criticism and analysis is an example of “hate”, then tough. I can hate for Europe in that case. Now go home and get your shine boxes.

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Benefit cuts fuel abuse towards disabled people

Interesting story in The Guardian that chimes with my blog of 29/1/12.

The government’s focus on alleged fraud and overclaiming to justify cuts in disability benefits has caused an increase in resentment and abuse directed at disabled people, as they find themselves being labelled as scroungers, six of the country’s biggest disability groups have warned.

Some of the charities say they are now regularly contacted by people who have been taunted on the street about supposedly faking their disability and are concerned the climate of suspicion could spill over into violence or other hate crimes.

While the charities speaking out – ScopeMencapLeonard Cheshire Disability, the National Autistic SocietyRoyal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB), and Disability Alliance – say inflammatory media coverage has played a role in this, they primarily blame ministers and civil servants for repeatedly highlighting the supposed mass abuse of the disability benefits system, much of which is unfounded.

The same story is taken up by The Independent, which reminds us that,

Last April, employment minister Chris Grayling said the “vast majority” of new claimants for sickness benefits were in fact able to go back to work, after official figures showed three-quarters of applicants for employment and support allowance (ESA) failed to qualify for assistance.

Tom Madders, head of campaigns at the National Autistic Society, told the newspaper: “The Department for Work and Pensions is certainly guilty of helping to drive this media narrative around benefits, portraying those who received benefits as workshy scroungers or abusing a system that’s really easy to cheat.”

I think now would be an appropriate moment to recall how the Nazis saw the disabled.

I found this from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

On August 18, 1939, the Reich Ministry of the Interior circulated a decree compelling all physicians, nurses, and midwives to report newborn infants and children under the age of three who showed signs of severe mental or physical disability. At first only infants and toddlers were incorporated in the effort, but eventually juveniles up to 17 years of age were also killed. Conservative estimates suggest that at least 5,000 physically and mentally disabled children were murdered through starvation or lethal overdose of medication.

The Nazis depicted the disabled as “drains” on the state. We are witnessing exactly the same thing in this country, only this time the The Sun and Daily Express-reading ignoramuses and pathologically tribalist bumpkins of Britain are carrying out violence and abuse on behalf of the state; the very same state that will induce their young to fight a future war with Iran. A war from which many will return physically disabled.

On this issue, there has been nothing but silence on the part of the government.  But given that certain Tories have a fetish for all things Nazi, it wouldn’t surprise me if many of them actually applauded this abuse in private.  If they don’t, then now would be the time to set the record straight.

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Lies, damned lies and austerity: how consent is being manufactured for cuts and caps

We have been told how there is “massive public support” for benefit caps and on the rare occasion a newsreader interviews someone who is against cuts, whoever he or she may be,  will be hectored and bullied by the interviewer. Anti-austerity commentators will always be asked the same loaded questions about cuts. “You realize that there is a need for cuts” and “The country has no money to pay for x, y and z” are two of the most overused  questions in the mainstream media’s lexicon. The disabled and benefit claimants are in the government’s line of fire,  for it is they who have now been accused of ruining the economy along with the “bloated” public sector.

In 1988, Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman put their heads together and wrote the highly influential Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media.  The right hate it. Not because it was co-written by Chomsky – they hate him too – but because it kicks a massive hole in their thesis that we live in a “free society” that has a “free press”, where all of us enjoy “free speech”.

The basis of Chomsky and Herman’s argument is that there is a propanganda model to which all corporate-owned media adheres. The four identifying features (filters) of the propaganda model are as follows:

  1. Ownership of the medium
  2. Medium’s funding sources
  3. Sourcing
  4. Flak
  5. Anti-communist ideology

With regard to 5, we can replace this with the more useful “ideological” in order to cover all forms of dissent from the government line. If we use the BBC as our exemplar, then the model is fleshed out as follows.

  1. Ownership: owned by the state in what is euphemistically referred to as an “arm’s length relationship”.
  2. Funding: the license payer and to some extent the state.
  3. Sourcing: ‘news’ often comes from government, corporate or City press briefings, press releases and so forth. A great deal of information is taken from pro-free market think tanks. Self-styled economic ‘experts’ like Ruth Lea or David Buik are brought into the studio to attack any dissenting point of view or to give ‘expert’ analysis.
  4. Flak: attacks on any voice that is not consistent with the government line. Viewers emails are aired to give an impression of consent. Example: “Major Payne of Tunbridge Wells emailed us to say, your guest was just as bad as the scroungers. I’d put them into forced labour camps”.
  5. Ideological: opposed to any alternative point of view on the economic crisis by spouting the government line and using government phraseology to rebut those points of view.

Examples of pro-austerity broadcasting includes programmes as Saints and Scroungers.

The BBC explains the show’s ‘mission’,

Dominic Littlewood follows fraud officers as they bust the benefits thieves stealing millions of pounds every year, while charities and councils track down people who actually deserve government help

Dominic Littlewood: the people’s champion.

Saints and Scroungers gives the impression that benefit fraud is widespread. Littlewood’s hard man voiceover adds drama to the footage.

This video gives a taste of the programme

Programmes like Saints and Scroungers  and Panorama insert the notion in the public mind that ‘your’ taxes are being used to support villains and parasites, some of whom own yachts and Bentleys.  The impression is often given by these programmes that every person on benefits is a potential criminal. The numbers of people wrongly claiming benefits is often exaggerated and there are some people who are reluctant to claim any form of benefit for fear of being accused of ‘scrounging’.

But the BBC isn’t alone in this assault on the poor or the disabled. The press, as we know, are guilty of this too.  In Thursday’s Sun, Rod Liddle claimed that “disability” was “fashionable” and told his readers that it was his “New Years resolution” to fake disability, citing ME and fibromyalgia  as those conditions that he’d most like to have.

Here’s an image of the article.

Delingpole defended him on Telegraph blogs with an article titled “The fake disabled are crippling our economy”. This is not only inaccurate; it is a part of an ongoing attempt to scapegoat the disabled.  The suggestion being made by Liddle and Delingpole is that all disabled claimants are cheating the system. They, of course, deny this and their legion of defenders respond by saying, “They’re only attacking the cheats”. The simple truth is that attacks on disabled people have increased sharply over the last few years, helped in no small part by a potent mix of negative news stories of ‘scroungers’ and ‘cheats‘ and government rhetoric.

Using scapegoats to deflect attention away from the real causes of the economic crisis is typical for a government of millionaires who are eager to present themselves as ‘caring’ and in touch. The real causes of the recession are never dealt with and are blamed on a variety of things from the disabled and unemployed to the Euro. Everything and everyone else is accused of “destroying” the economy but the real villain: free-market capitalism. This is a form of sociopathy; the lies, the deception, the bullying, the charm and the desire to dominate others are all characteristics exhibited by this Tory-led regime. However, Labour aren’t entirely blameless. The Blair and Brown governments were committed to reducing the numbers of people claiming Incapacity Benefit and forcing those people into work – whether they were capable of working or not. The press produced story after story of benefit ‘cheats’ who were caught scamming the system. The phrase  “sick note culture” had entered the popular vocabulary.

When this Tory-led government came to power in 2010, George Osborne made the bold claim that benefit fraud was costing the country £5 billion a year and evoked the magic words “costing the hardworking taxpayer”.  Peter Oborne wrote:

However that figure is not true. I have now been onto the Treasury and it is clear that the real figure for fraud in the benefits system is £1.5 billion a year, or less than one third of the sum which Osborne claimed in his spending statement. It is true that there were benefit overpayments of some £5.2 billion in the last financial year (2009/10) but the majority of these according to HMRC figures were error rather than fraud.

Even Citywire admitted that tax evasion cost the Exchequer more than benefit fraud:

At £30 billion per year, fraud in the UK is more than twice as high as thought, with tax evasion costing the public purse over £15 billion per year and benefit fraud just over £1 billion.

Aside from attacks on the disabled and the poor, the government has also insisted that Britain is “running record levels of debt” and that debt, it insists, will be passed on to “future generations”. The question that they and their partners-in-crime repeatedly ask is “Is it fair to saddle our children with this generation’s debt”? But this is a loaded question that is not based on fact rather, it is based on the notion that government finances and domestic finances operate in the same way. This fallacy is repeated by a number of people who accept the government’s position without question. In a recent interview on BBC News on an entirely unrelated issue (High Speed 2), the actor Geoffrey Palmer repeated, almost line for line, the government’s austerity message. “The country’s broke”, he said, adding that “we can’t afford it (HS2)”. If the country is broke, then it is unlikely to be able to raise money on the international bond markets, which it continues to do. Furthermore, it would be unable to continue the costly and disastrous war in Afghanistan, which cost Britain in excess of £20 billion in 2010.

The government and their media allies continues  to demonize and scapegoat the most vulnerable people in society. On last Thursday’s Question Time, Melanie Phillips repeated the topsy-turvy logic of the LM Network that the “bankers are being scapegoated”. This is what passes for morality in the eyes of those who take part in BBC Radio 4’s The Moral Maze, where those who comment on morality have no qualifications in the subject on which they pontificate – none of them are moral philosophers nor would it appear that any of them have as much as an undergraduate degree in philosophy.

The government hates the very thought of opposing points of view and we can see this in the way they will control discourse by accusing those who are anti-austerity of being “deficit deniers”, which is a phrase that is redolent of “Holocaust Denial”.  The Morning Star explains:

But unfortunately the word racist – like nazi or even Holocaust denier – is so emotive, connotes such horrible things and is so insulting that it can intimidate people into silence and shut down reasoned debate, much like deficit denier.

The Labour Party has fallen into the trap of not wanting to be seen as “deficit deniers”, which has brought them closer and closer to the government’s position on cuts. So much for meaningful and effective opposition to this government then. The phrase “deficit denier” is based on a logical fallacy.  It is a connotation fallacy; an appeal to insult – the classic ad hominem.  Unable to fashion a logical and coherent argument for their austerity measures, government ministers concoct insults to silence their critics.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this government is philosophically bankrupt and must resort to bullying and outright lies to convince the public of the need for austerity, but it wouldn’t be able to do this without the media’s fawning complicity.

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Ron Paul, right libertarians and their questionable attitudes to difference

Ron Paul, right libertarian, racist, anti-Semite and conspiracy theorist

A lot of right libertarians love to talk about freedom. They love to tell us how their ‘libertarianism’ will make us happier. “Greed is natural and greed is good” is the motto by which they live their lives. They also love to talk about how they want to abolish institutions that work to promote greater understanding and equality. The suggestion put forth by the right libertarian is that the ‘invisible hand’ of the ‘free market’ will eliminate racism. It’s not only laughable. It’s a myth. Especially when so many right libertarians harbour deep-seated prejudices.

Scratch the surface of some of these ‘libertarians’ and you’ll often find some questionable attitudes to difference underneath. Their attitudes are almost always shrouded in economic dogma and masked by cold, matter-of-fact business-speak. For example the lunch counter protests in the South were retroactively opposed on the grounds of “trespass”. They also argue that businesses should be permitted to refuse someone on the basis of skin colour.  It is for these reasons that soi-disant libertarians claimed to oppose the civil rights movement. Ron Paul, whose soubriquet is “Dr No”, has earned a reputation among right libertarians as “principled”. He is often lauded on The Telegraph’s blogs and hailed elsewhere as a true ‘libertarian’. A commenter on Hannan’s blog says,

Ron Paul seems to be ignored by the British media.   In the U.S. he also gets a raw deal. A recent CNN poll had him rated at
0%.  It turned out that they had polled just 50 people.

This reads like a lament but the commenter does not connect the lament with lived experience. Furthermore this commenter wilfully ignores Paul’s racist and anti-Semitic remarks. In 2008 CNN reported that,

A series of newsletters in the name of GOP presidential hopeful Ron Paul contain several racist remarks — including one that says order was restored to Los Angeles after the 1992 riots when blacks went “to pick up their welfare checks.”

Hannan is a self-declared admirer of Paul, whom he describes as an “honest principled patriot” (see the comments).  There’s no mention of his racism and that is no surprise.  It’s much easier to elide something as inconvenient as Paul’s racism and talk movingly about his ‘honesty’. We’ll return to Hannan later.  Paul may deny it but there are still many doubts over his protestations of innocence. Is it because he doth protest too much? CNN again,

The controversial newsletters include rants against the Israeli lobby, gays, AIDS victims and Martin Luther King Jr. — described as a “pro-Communist philanderer.” One newsletter, from June 1992, right after the LA riots, says “order was only restored in L.A. when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks.”

It’s just a joke… yeah, sure it is.

In May 2011, capitolhillblue wrote,

Twice-failed Presidential wannabe Ron Paul’s racism is never far from the surface and reappeared Friday when he admitted to MSNBC’s Chris Matthews that he would not have voted for the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 if he had been in Congress at the time.

News One, a black website tells us that Paul is closely associated with the extreme right-wing  John Birch Society,

Despite its nefarious history, Ron Paul has been a longtime supporter and friend of the John Birch Society, speaking as they keynote speaker at their 50th anniversary and holding  rallies with them. Like The John Birch society, Paul has become a magnet for Neo-Nazis who support him online on sites like Stormfront. Paul even has a picture with the Internets most notorious Neo-Nazis, Don Black and his son Derrek, the founders of Stormfront. Paul also famously refused to give back a donation from Don Black.

In fact, here is Paul addressing the John Birch Society in August 2009.


Outside the Beltway attempts to defend Paul and, by extension, the Ludwig von Mises Institute.

Much of the piece is guilt by association. Kirchick notes Paul’s long association with the Ludwig von Mises Institute, a respected libertarian think tank, and points out that other people associated with the organization are Confederate sympathizers and the like.

The Ludwig von Mises Institute is at the intellectual forefront of the neo-Confederate movement. It produces reams of  libertarian justifications for slavery, while also perpetuating the myth of the Southern states-as-victim. The Civil War, they argue had nothing to do with slavery. It was all about states rights. In other words, and in the mind of the neo-Confederate, the war was about the right for individual states to continue the practice of slavery as well as “tariffs”. In essence, the LvMI rewrites history to suit a particular ideological agenda. Their neo-Misean narrative is intended to lend intellectual gravitas to what is, actually, a Dixiecratic vision. This article is fairly typical.

Immediately following that clause in the Confederate Constitution is a clause that has no parallel in the U.S. Constitution. It affirms strong support for free trade and opposition to protectionism: “but no bounties shall be granted from the Treasury; nor shall any duties or taxes on importation from foreign nations be laid to promote or foster any branch of industry.”

The LvMI believes its strict economic discourse is unassailable. The suggestion is that economics is a neutral ‘science’ that speaks for itself. LvMI’s ‘scholar’ Thomas Di Lorenzo is part of the vanguard in the historical revisionism of the Confederate States of America. Here he says,

Legal scholar Gene Healy has made a powerful argument in favor of abolishing the Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution. When a fair vote was taken on it in 1865, in the aftermath of the War for Southern Independence, it was rejected by the Southern states and all the border states. Failing to secure the necessary three-fourths of the states, the Republican party, which controlled Congress, passed the Reconstruction Act of 1867 which placed the entire South under military rule

The Fourteenth Amendment is the one that contains what is known as the Citizen Clause. This  granted all persons born or naturalized in the United States, regardless of their skin colour, the right to citizenship (The Indians were mysteriously excluded). Prior to this, black people – free and slave – were not considered to be citizens. The amendment is referred to as a “Reconstruction” amendment  and was enacted partly in response to the Black Codes of the southern states, which were passed in the wake of the Thirteenth Amendment – which ended slavery –  and forbade blacks from voting and holding public office.  In this article, Di Lorenzo muddies the waters by introducing the straw man of northern racism. He splits hairs over the Constitution which is, in the mind of the neo-Confederate, an evil document that stole their freedoms away.

The Fourteenth Amendment has had precisely the effect that its nineteenth-century Republican party supporters intended it to have: it has greatly centralized power in Washington, D.C., and has subjected Americans to the kind of judicial tyranny that Thomas Jefferson warned about when he described federal judges as those who would be “constantly working underground to undermine the foundations of our confederated fabric.” It’s time for all Americans to reexamine the official history of the “Civil War” and its aftermath as taught by paid government propagandists in the “public” schools for the past 135 years.

Di Lorenzo presents what appears prima facie to be a reasonable request to examine the history of the Civil War in new light but why stop there? Why not re-examine the Civil War against the backdrop of the entire history of the United States as Howard Zinn has done with The People’s History of the United States? The answer to that question is because Di Lorenzo and the LvMI have a vested interest in isolating the Civil War from the rest of US history. But notice how he uses quotation marks around the words “Civil War”.

Di Lorenzo’s main body of work orbits the dead star of Abraham Lincoln, whom he and the LvMI regards as a tyrant and a bully. Those of us who are familiar with a broader sweep of history already understand how historical figures are cosmetically-enhanced to offer a media-friendly image of flawed men and women. It happened then and is happening now.  Lincoln is not unique.  Yet Di Lorenzo labours under the illusion that he and the neo-Confederate movement are the only people to possess such knowledge.  And Jefferson Davis? Not a word about him and his poor grasp of military tactics or his slipshod presidency.  The Claremont Institute produced a review of Di Lorenzo’s The Real Lincoln in which it says,

As the title suggests, The Real Lincoln purports to go beyond the mountains of revisionist historiography to reveal Lincoln’s genuine principles and purposes. According to DiLorenzo, these had nothing to do with the perpetuation of free government and the problem of slavery: The “real” Lincoln did not care a whit about the “peculiar institution.” At the core of the “real” Lincoln’s ambition was an unqualified and unwavering commitment to mercantilism, or socialism as DiLorenzo sometimes intimates. Lincoln would stop at nothing to impose the “Whig economic system” upon America, and any opinion he voiced regarding slavery was merely instrumental in advancing this end. Lincoln’s “cause,” in the words of DiLorenzo, was “centralized government and the pursuit of empire.” According to DiLorenzo, Lincoln said this “over and over again,” although DiLorenzo does not trouble himself to produce a shred of evidence for this assertion.
If the “real” Lincoln needed to resort to war to advance his cause, he was happy to do it: “Lincoln decided that he had to wage war on the South,” because only military might would destroy “the constitutional logjam behind which the old Whig economic policy agenda had languished.” In the end, writes DiLorenzo, “[Lincoln] wanted war” and “was not about to let the Constitution stand in his way.” Lincoln was devoted to undermining the Constitution in the name of tariffs and internal improvement schemes. In its place Lincoln hoped to build a centralized mercantilist-socialist state, with himself at the helm.

Here, Di Lorenzo has written a smear job on his most critical foe, the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The League of the South recently published its “Declaration of Cultural Secession” advocating a society that advances what it calls the virtues of “Celtic culture,” defined on its Web site as “the permanent things that order and sustain life: faith, family, tradition, community, and private property; loyalty, courage, and honour.” The SPLC lied about and defamed the League of the South by spreading the falsehood on its own Web site that by “Celtic culture” the League of the South means, and I quote, “white people.” Apparently the SPLC believes that only white people embrace family, tradition, community, private property, courage, etc.

Notice the wilful misrepresentation at the end of the paragraph. Di Lorenzo, who is supposed to be some sort of academic, writes in a prose style that’s reminiscent of a petulant correspondent who writes regular letters of complaint to local newspapers. Here he writes of Obama,

It only took the Obama administration a couple of weeks to prove that the national leadership of the Democratic Party is guided by totalitarian-minded socialists who seek to create an omnipotent government. The U.S. government is now controlled by people who have been dreaming of living out their utopian socialist fantasies ever since the fantasies were brought to their attention in college decades ago by their Mao/Castro/Che Guevara poster-hanging, capitalism-hating, communistic professors.

Right libertarians will often use words like “socialist” , “totalitarian” or “America-hating” to describe Obama. Some will question his birth (see the amusingly self-styled ‘Birther’ movement)  and claim that he wasn’t born in the US. It’s merely a way of transferring one’s racism over to a narrative about ‘patriotism’.

Pamela Geller of Atlas Shrugs also identifies herself as a ‘libertarian’ but her website tells us an altogether different story. Atlas Shrugs is often cited by the Islamophobes of the EDL and Stop the Islamisation of Europe. Even the mass murderer, Anders Behring Breivik, cited it. Geller even wrote a few apologies for Breivik’s actions. She described the summer camp on the island of Utoya as an “indoctrination center” that was full of “jihadists”. She even tried to claim that those who had attended the summer camp weren’t “pure Norwegian”. Recently, she edited her blog to remove a blatantly racist caption.

Writing for the Mellon-Scaife WorldNetDaily, she wrote of Barack Obama,

After reading Barack Obama’s speech at the 100th anniversary of the founding of the NAACP Thursday, there is no getting around it: The man is a racist. He is not a unifier, a healer, or a leader – he divides, incites, destroys. He foments animus and anger. The speech proves, yet again, that he does not (nor does he want to) represent all Americans. He is the most racist, divisive official we have ever elected to any high office, let alone the most powerful office in the world.

Did you see how she inverted the entire argument about racism by claiming that Obama is a ‘racist’? She can’t use the word she wants to use: nigger. It’s a distortion.  Like the rest of the ‘birthers’ that she associates herself with, she repeats the worn out canard that Obama is really a Muslim in Christian clothing.
Of course, no Obama speech would be complete without the advancement of Islamic supremacism. He got applause for claiming that “Muslim Americans [are] viewed with suspicion simply because they kneel down to pray to their God.” He made no mention of public Christian prayer (which can get you fired these days).
Every single headline calls Terreblanche a “white supremacist,” alluding to his position in the waning days of the apartheid government, thirty-odd years ago. But the real story here is not that Terreblanche was a “white supremacist” — if he really was (and I know how the left loves to throw around those labels). Whether he was or not, the man was brutally murdered, and I had to go through ten newspaper accounts to find out how he was murdered. The liberal media had to dehumanize him first. And not one newspaper account speaks of Black supremacism — yet that is the really important story in South Africa today. All I see in South Africa is Black supremacism. Terreblanche may have been a white supremacist, but he’s the dead one.
This demonstrates how Geller is disconnected from history . There is no mention of apartheid and the conditions in which South African blacks, Asians and ‘coloureds’ had to suffer. As far as Geller is concerned, all blacks are violent genocidally-inclined criminals
The genocide of Boers taking place in South Africa is never spoken of
What “genocide”? I wonder if she has ever been to South Africa. The fact-free Geller makes it up as she goes along. She clearly overlooks the Afrikaner Weerstandbeweging (AWB) and its veneration of Nazism. For a someone who is supposed to be Jewish, it’s a very odd position to take. Perhaps she’s insane?

In Britain, right libertarians also offer lip service to anti-racism. I say “lip service” because while they claim to be against racism, they will call for certain institutions to be abolished and will excuse an employer’s racism by declaring it a matter of ‘business’.

In 2009, Hannan wrote this

Barack Obama has an exotic background, and it would be odd if some people weren’t unsettled by it. During the campaign, he made a virtue of his unusual upbringing. He was at once from the middle of the country (Kansas) and from its remotest edge (Hawaii). He was both black and white. He was a Protestant brought up among Muslims. He seemed to have family on every continent. Like St Paul, he made a virtue of being all things to all men.

Was he playing to his gallery of US right libertarians? No doubt about it.

They complain that he has no mandate for the policy of tax, spend and borrow. And they’re right. Look, I supported the fellow, and I still wish him well. But to seek to close down debate with the racism card is pretty low.

Well, I hardly think anyone is “playing the racism card” and even if they are, then they may actually have a valid point.  Indeed, it’s easy for someone who isn’t black to make excuses for the tone of language used by Obama’s right wing critics.  Like many so-called libertarians, Hannan swats aside any idea that racism may be lurking behind the rhetoric used by the likes of the ‘Birthers’ for example. Incidentally, Hannan later wrote that he was “wrong” about Obama.

Now, I am not accusing Hannan of being a racist. He may be many things but I don’t think he’s necessarily a racist. However his use of the word “exotic” when describing Obama was wrong-headed. The word “exotic” is often applied without much thought and is used to describe someone of a different skin tone. My own background, for instance, is probably more mixed than Obama’s. But why has Hannan overlooked Ron Paul’s racist outbursts? Because he has the right credentials: he’s a small stater. But what Hannan fails to mention is Paul’s love of conspiracy theories. Paul has appeared on Alex Jones radio show to talk about the ‘New World Order’ and the 9/11 ‘Truth’ movement. When people speak about such things, you can’t guarantee that anti-Semitism and racism are following closely behind. The libertarian right are rather fond of conspiracy theories.

Hannan is a member of The Freedom Association, a right wing pressure group that was founded by Ross and Norris McWhirter, who had previously been involved in the Economic League, which worked to blacklist trade unionists and others whom it deemed to be subversive. The McWhirters were also associated with Lady Jane Birdwood, an eccentric right-winger who was closely associated with Britain’s fascists in the 1980’s.

The McWhirters were close personal and political friends. In the mid-1970s she joined forces with Ross McWhirter to produce the far-right magazine Majority. But it was to be a short-lived venture as the project was terminated after Ross McWhirter was killed by the IRA in 1975. Although she fought bitterly to keep the publication going, the trustees opposed such a move.

TFA’s darkest hour came when it supported the rebel English cricket tour of apartheid South Africa. In 1976, upset at the deselection of turncoat Reg Prentice,  TFA  secretly funded Julian Lewis (now Conservative MP for The New Forest) to pose as a Labour moderate in order for him to take control of the Newham North East constituency Labour Party . Prentice later  joined the Tories and became their MP for Daventry. He was elevated to the House of Lords in 1992.

The recent riots in England have sent the right libertarians scurrying to pen articles attacking black youths, whom have been variously described as “feral”. There is an implication here that black people are genetically pre-disposed to criminality. When television historian and Tudorist, David Starkey blamed the riots on the way people spoke, he unwittingly cast himself in the role of a rather posh Alf Garnett. He deliberately inflamed the situation by quoting Enoch Powell’s infamous “Rivers of Blood” speech. Yet, the Telegraph’s arch-libertarians were quick to defend Starkey claiming that he wasn’t “a racist” and that he was right to single out black youths because of the way they spoke and the music they listened to.  They also defended his weird thesis that “whites have become black”.

Toby Young (known as Hon Tobes on this blog) produced this apology, while hiding behind the Oxford Dictionary definition of racism.

To begin with, Starkey wasn’t talking about black culture in general, but, as he was anxious to point out, a “particular form” of black culture, i.e. “the violent, destructive, nihilistic, gangster culture” associated with Jamaican gangs and American rap music. Had he been talking about these qualities as if they were synonymous with African-Caribbean culture per se, or condemning that culture in its totality, then he would have been guilty of racism. But he wasn’t. He was quite specifically condemning a sub-culture associated with a small minority of people of African-Caribbean heritage. (Admittedly, he could have made this clearer.) Rather than being racist, he was merely trotting out the conventional wisdom of the hour, namely, that gang culture is to blame for the riots. The Prime Minister made the same point in the House of Commons on Thursday. (I wrote a blog post on Thursday in which I pointed out the shortcomings of this analysis.)

Tobes, completely and wilfully unaware of 1950’s R&B, rock n roll and death metal rushed to the conclusion that only gangsta rap is a dangerous and corrosive musical form because it celebrates a “violent, destructive, nihilistic, gangster culture”. Perhaps Hon Tobes would like to consider the example of Little Walter’s Boom Boom…Out Go the Lights? Then there’s Marilyn Manson, who has been banned from a number of states as well as Australia because of his image and lyrics. It’s pretty obvious that Tobes also blissfully ignorant of the swaggering misogyny of heavy metal too – the majority of which is played by white musicians.
He then went on to make an almost equally controversial observation about the Labour MP for Tottenham. “Listen to David Lammy, an archetypical successful black man,” he said. “If you turned the screen off so you were listening to him on radio you’d think he was white.”

Owen Jones leapt on this: “You said David Lammy when you heard him sounded white and what you meant by that is that white people equals respectable.”

But I don’t think that is what Starkey meant. Rather, he was simply reiterating the point that he wasn’t condemning African-Caribbean men per se. On the contrary, he was condemning a particular sub-culture, one that may have originated in parts of the African-Caribbean community, but which has now been taken up by some white people as well. Condemning a sub-culture that’s associated with certain people of a particular race, but is embraced by blacks and whites, may be provocative, but it isn’t racist.

But would Hon Tobes be able to identify racism without the aid of the OED? Unlikely. He adds this,

No doubt there’ll be people who take issue with this analysis.

The only problem for Tobes is that his use of the word ‘analysis’ is misleading. This is an apology and a very poor one at that.

Delingpole tried to claim that if  “Starkey is racist, then so is everyone else”. But that doesn’t let him off the hook.

The part of the programme which seems to have most got the Left’s goat is the one where David Starkey says that “the whites have become black.” But again, the cultural point he is making is indisputable. Listen to how many white kids (and Asian kids) choose to speak in black street patois; note the extent to which hip hop and grime garage and their offshoots have penetrated the white mainstream; check out how many white kids like to roll like pimps or perps with their Calvins pulled up to their midriffs and their jean waistbands sagging below their buttocks.

This is a posh, middle-class white man speaking in an RP accent. Remember, Delingpole is not only a self-styled climate change sceptic, he’s a batshit mad libertarian who rejects peer-reviewed evidence. Like others of his ilk, he clings fast to conspiracy theories. But people like Young and Delingpole can only see culture in one-dimensional terms. For them, there is a ‘black’ culture as well as a ‘white’ culture. One culture contains an aberrant popular form and the other doesn’t. It’s simple.  The cultural cross-fertilization that occurred as a result of immigration is neither here nor there. In fact, it is seen as a corrupting influence and there is no evidence to the contrary that can change their views. After all, wasn’t Grand Theft Auto accused of encouraging people to commit the crimes depicted in the game?

Right libertarians prefer to see things in black and white. The world is a complicated place that is full of complex issues. Yet, these people only want easy answers – hence their love of conspiracy theories. The racists among them lack the honesty to admit to their prejudices. For them, it’s simply a matter of individual rights and if those individual rights include the right to discriminate on the basis of skin colour then it’s simply a matter of ‘business’ and not racism.

The line here seems to be “I’m not a racist, but…”

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Filed under History, History & Memory, Human rights, Neoliberalism, Popular music, racism, riots, Society & culture