Tag Archives: cults

Economic cults are just as bad as any religious cult

Last Sunday I was watching The Big Questions on BBC, a programme that is best described as a Sunday morning shout-fest. The studio audience usually consists of a fair number of religious zealots and assorted weirdos together with sceptics and rationalists who seek to challenge their beliefs. Last week’s discussion was about religious cults and whether they are any different to mass religions. In truth, the mass religions are the same as cults, they just have better PR and more members. This got me thinking: what about those obscure economic cults like Objectivism? What about all those tiresome free-marketeers who slavishly follow the curious fiscal asceticism of Hayek or Friedman? Are they any different to Scientologists or Moonies? Well, no.

Cults are always organized around a charismatic leader. We see this with the Scientologists, the Moonies, the Children of God (now called Family International) and small Healy-ite cults like the Workers Revolutionary Party. The economic cults are no different; they are all obsessed with ideological purity. The leader’s word is supreme.

All cults, like mass religions, require fetish-objects (Islam and Judaism have no fetish-objects). These fetish objects can range from supposed relics like a nail or a splinter from the True Cross  ( in the case of Reaganites,  a vial of Ronald Reagan’s blood) to holy icons; an image of some saint or other. These economic cultists have money, which, as a fetish-object, serves much the same purpose as praying to an icon of the Virgin. “With this money, I am free! With this money I can enslave others and tell them that I am doing it to make them free”! Of course they would tell you that they don’t worship money but that wouldn’t be true because cultists are always in denial about something.

Blinded by their unswerving devotion, right-wing economic cultists will tell you how “flat taxes will benefit us all” and that ‘wealth’ will “trickle down” to those below, even though they produce no hard evidence to support such claims. They will produce the holy icon of the Laffer Curve and, without a trace of irony, proceed to tell you why this curve is so significant and why those at the bottom of the economic ladder must take pay cuts while those at the top award themselves even bigger bonuses. This is voodoo economics. It’s magic, maaan! You will find them reciting passages from The Road to Serfdom, one of the holy books of right-wing economic cultists and they will tell you, with a straight face, that fascism and socialism are the same thing and that only they hold the keys to your freedom. It isn’t and they don’t. But cultists won’t listen to anyone but their cult-leaders. Hayek’s word is holy writ.  He speaketh the Truth and we must listen. Just ask High Priest, Dan Hannan of The Freedom Assocation.

You won’t find the working class or the lower middle class subscribing to these notions  about ‘freedom’ and there is a very good reason for this: they can’t afford them. Only those who have a substantial amount of personal wealth can become cult  members and take part in the liturgy.

These cults also have their priestly caste that is formed from a hardcore of free-market economists who are gathered together in think-tanks like the Adam Smith Institute, the Taxpayers Alliance or the Institute of Economic Affairs. It is within these bodies that the doctrines are formulated and the high priests of late capitalism worship at the clay feet of their dead idols. The Adam Smith Institute, for example, practices a strain of laissez-faire economics that is based on a highly selective reading of The Wealth of Nations , for which they rely on people’s ignorance of Smith’s theories in order to promote “The Invisible Hand” of the free market; the rest of the text is discarded and ignored.

The right will make the counter-claim that the Left (to the Tories this is just anyone who just happens to be vaguely to the left of them) worship John Maynard Keynes and have formed a cult around his ideas. They can make that claim as much as they like, but I have seen little evidence to support this notion. They would also point to Marx and shout “Look! You worship Marxism”!  But that’s only true of a handful of left-wing cults and, at any rate, there is always an ongoing debate about Marxist economics. The same cannot be said for the Right, who are hopelessly devoted to their idols and accept their ‘wisdom’ without criticism. But this deference shouldn’t surprise us: the Right doesn’t like to criticize what they see as unassailable truths; the holy word of Hayek or whichever economic theorist they happen to be praise-singing at that moment in time. This is the truth and all those who deny it shall be cast into eternal darkness!

The problem with economic cults  is that we are forced to live with their mistakes. Privatizations are forced onto us and all social relations are marketized – all for our own good, you understand.  After all, this is the word of the Lord!  He hath spoken! Have faith and enjoy the Kool-Aid!

Postscript

Interesting article from Alternet about Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman.

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Moon over Britain

The forthcoming  visit of Sun Myung Moon to Britain hasn’t been widely announced. In fact, there is no mention of it in any of the newspapers. This is odd because, Moon, who was previously banned from entering Britain was permitted to enter 5 years ago by the Nu Labour government. The ban was lifted in the face of opposition from all sides of the Commons.

Home Secretary Charles Clarke said in an interview with the Daily Telegraph that he had wanted to exclude Mr Moon but “there was not a good enough reason”.

But the Home Office said: “We keep exclusions under review. The Unification Church in the UK is extremely small and any visit by its founder is considered unlikely to pose any threat to the public order of this country.”

Moonies are also a regular visitors to the House of Lords. The Unification Church may claim to have a small membership in Britain but there is a list of Moonie front groups that are as long as your arm. Indeed, on such front group, the Universal Peace Federation, has announced the visit. Billed as “The Founders Tour of Europe 2011”, the details of where the rally is due to be held is not mentioned anywhere on the site. Presumably this is a closely guarded secret that is only known to Moonies. Even a Google news search reveals nothing.

A blog written on 24 April that appeared on the Moonie site “Family Fireplace” says,

As Father arrives in Europe next week and then in May visits us in the UK he will be fighting for our freedom. He will be encouraging us to take up the challenge to live a life with no shadows, where we can fully and freely experience the grace of God in all that we do.

“Fighting for our freedom”? How does Moon intend to do that?

So why all the secrecy? Moreover, why haven’t any of the national newspapers picked this up? Is it because there is no longer any mileage out of Moon?

The last British newspaper to carry any news about Moon was the Telegraph (also the home to Moonie Nile Gardiner), which reported on a helicopter crash in which Moon was involved. Its a sympathetic piece that contains this nugget,

A South Korean transport ministry official said investigators recovered a cockpit recording device to help determine the cause of the crash.

A group of aviation experts from the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board will participate in a joint investigation, he said.

Why did the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board feel the need to get involved in an accident that happened in another country? It doesn’t make sense. The BBC article makes no mention of it.

Moon, who calls himself the Messiah and the ‘True Father’, arrives in Britain on Wednesday.

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Nile Gardiner – visionary?

It shows you how long Nile Gardiner has been living in the States. He seems to have completely forgotten how the British political system works and, instead, conflates the US system with the British system. This is from a blog that he wrote for the Torygraph in May of  last year.

As I wrote in my op-ed piece earlier today, Nick Clegg is the first major party leader to run for Prime Minister on an anti-British ticket. He is filled with a self-loathing for his nation and its institutions, which came across in spades in his response to The Times letter.

First, no one “runs for Prime Minister” in this country. The leader of the party with the largest number of votes becomes the Prime Minister. Second, how is Nick Clegg “anti-British”?  While I have no love for Nick Clegg or the Liberal Democrats, this rant is quite bizarre and seems to come from the same wellspring as his Moonie faith. It’s the same kind of rant that he normally reserves for Barack Obama.

Gardiner spent the entire 10 days during the coalition negotiations fretting about a possible Labour-Lib Dem coalition. Little did he realise that the Lib Dems would hop into bed with the Tories – even I knew they would and I am not a well-paid political hack who writes third-rate articles for right wing magazines.

Here’s a taste of his paranoia.

Shamelessly, Gordon Brown is threatening to stay on as Prime Minister as late as September, despite overwhelmingly losing last week’s general election. In the meantime, Labour and the Liberal Democrats, according to Gordon’s grand plan, will stitch up a “progressive” government that will also include the SNP and Plaid Cymru. Once this government is formed, Brown will ask Labour to hold a leadership contest, with David Miliband as the likely front-runner to succeed him.

Simple arithmetic meant that a coalition between the Lib Dems and Labour wasn’t going to happen.  A Tory minority government would have easily collapsed. Gardiner persisted.

It is frankly the sort of farcical development one expects in Khartoum or Caracas, and not in one of the world’s greatest democracies

Khartoum? Caracas? Is he off his trolley? The short answer to that is “Yes, he is”. He chooses Khartoum simply because it is the capital of Sudan, a country that has long been associated with Islamism (remember ‘Chinese’ Gordon and the Mahdi Revolt?) and Caracas because it is the capital of Venezuela and it is where the US right’s Number One bogeyman, Hugo Chavez is in power.

On the very same day, Gardiner, presumably unable to sleep and sick with worry over the prospect of a Lib-Lab coalition,  wrote this blog. The headline screams “David Cameron should say no to a coalition with the Lib Dems”.

It is simply an illusion to believe the Liberals share with the Conservatives some kind of common vision for dealing with the massive debt crisis and saving Britain from a financial meltdown. They are, even more than Labour, the party of Big Government and endless state intervention, and are the enemies of free enterprise. Their socialist-style solutions will strangle the markets, force wealth out of the country, and scare away much needed investment. It is worth remembering Clegg’s pledge in the third televised debate to heavily tax banking profits and restrict bonuses in the financial services sector, the surest way to kill the City and end Britain’s supremacy as a centre of global finance.

“Socialist-style solutions”? In Britain? Gardiner is not a man of vision. Let’s put it this way, he’d never cut it as a seaside clairvoyant. The Petulengro family must be mightily relieved to hear this. But notice how he stirs up the paranoia, which he serves up with lashings of bile and hyperbole. That line “kill the City and end Britain’s supremacy as a centre of global finance” is meant to appeal to our collective sense of reason but quite honestly, I couldn’t care less if the banks pulled out of London. The British economy has recently been built on the daft products that have been dreamt up by City numbskulls looking for new ways to extend their greed. Those aren’t real products like ships or steel girders; they’re purely imagined.

Here he is on the Mellon Scaife-owned Newsmax Channel giving his ‘expert’ opinion.

His analysis is, again, wanting. A Conservative minority government? Is he serious?

In September, Gardiner made an almighty great cock up over prisoner’s voting rights as this blog points out. I quite like this quote,

The problem with Nile Gardiner is that he is a hypocrite. For a so-called expert dealing with the US led alliance against rogue states, not to see when the UK is itself a rogue state in Europe shows that he is either blind or as daft as George Bush and that he has the morals of Tony Blair going into an illegal war with Iraq and claiming he did what he believed to be right!

By the way, the Bush family was very close to Moon.

In 2008, this blog by Paul Waugh appeared in the Evening Standard. It’s about the former Labour minister Shahid Malik who was tricked into meeting with the Universal Peace Federation, a Unification Church front group. This is the most important bit,

Rev Moon was considered so dangerous that Michael Howard banned him from coming into the country in the Nineties. His views on Jews and homosexuals leave a lot to be desired to, it appears.

It was Michael, now Lord Howard, who was Home Secretary under John Major who issued the ban. Even though the Moon is banned from the UK, the Universal Peace Federation is allowed to continue its work here.

In October 2010, the baby-faced one was chuffed with Liam Fox, of whom he gushed,

Liam Fox is that rare politician of tremendous principle, who unfailingly places country before political self-interest. He believes strongly in the greatness of Britain as a nation, and that its continuing role as a global power depends upon her ability to project military force, including a capacity to fight alongside the UK’s closest ally, the United States.

It’s almost as if he’s writing about the US here and not the UK. What’s he trying to tell us? The headline says it all “Liam Fox is the Churchill of the coalition”. You see how he summoned up the ghost of Churchill, just as Thatcher had done in the 1980’s? This offers us a window into his thoughts. He uses Churchill as a mantra or a magical incantation that is intended to cast all demons aside – as though he were a shaman.  Trouble is, it is ineffective and makes him look desperate. His idol, Thatcher, tried to use the same trick and it blew up in her face.

Gardiner is an obsessive and a scaremonger. He’s also failed to tell us whether or not he is still a member of the Unification Church. However, it is unlikely that he’s left because Moonies don’t often leave the ‘church’ of their own accord.

Here is a quick look at what the Unification Church is and what it does,

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Who is Nile Gardiner?

I realize that many people reading this blog will have never heard of him, but the baby-faced Mr Gardiner likes to think that he’s one of the most important people on the planet. Gardiner, a former policy advisor to Thatcher, is the director of the (surprise, surprise) Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom (sic). By default he is also a member of The Heritage Foundation where he makes a point of telling us that he has a “PhD”. If his blogs in the Telegraph are anything to go by, it’s difficult to see exactly how this man was awarded a PhD in the first place…unless it was in Moonie Studies.

Here’s a snippet from his profile

His key areas of specialization include: the Anglo-American “special relationship,” the United Nations, post-war Iraq , and the role of Great Britain and Europe in the U.S.-led alliance against international terrorism and “rogue states,” including Iran . He was recently named one of the 50 most influential Britons in the United States by the London Daily Telegraph .

Ah, the “special relationship”. The “Transatlantic bruderschaft“.

Gardiner is stuck in the Obama-bashing groove, as most of his blogs tend to be about Obama and how this horrible “leftist” will drag the US down the path of ‘socialism’. I’m not a huge fan of Obama but I know bullshit when I see it and Obama is no socialist.  Here’s a snippet from Gardiner’s latest offering.

The president’s refusal to reverse the Big Government approach that has been the hallmark of the first two years of his administration might be playing well to a shrinking liberal audience but isn’t being well received in Middle America. There is no real sign that the president has a clear plan for creating jobs and revitalising the economy, other than the tired old formula of spending more taxpayers’ money, a failed strategy which clearly didn’t succeed in 2009 and 2010.

This is the sort of thing he produces for Fox News .

Here he is in the Telegraph defending Fox News while taking a swipe at Obama at the same time.

The White House’s extraordinary assault on the Fox News Channel will end in tears – and not for Rupert Murdoch, Fox’s owner. The Obama administration has embarked on a high-risk strategy of shooting the messenger, in effect blaming its plummeting poll ratings on alleged political bias at the number one 24-hour cable news network. As Anita Dunn, the Mao-quoting White House communications director put it in aninterview with The New York Times:

“Mao-quoting”? Hold on, there’s more!

Fox News has succeeded spectacularly in racing ahead of its rivals in the cable news market, notably CNN and MSNBC. Its evening shows – such as the O’Reilly Factor, Glenn Beck and Hannity – pull in several million viewers compared to just hundreds of thousands on Fox’s competitors. Fox offers a highly opinionated, fast-paced and entertaining brand of political debate that includes all sides of the political aisle. The top hosts may be largely conservative (though not necessarily Republican), but the guests frequently are not, creating an adversarial and combative arena that until recently was a rarity in American news coverage.

Fox “includes all sides of political aisle”? What dear Nile doesn’t mention is how the the ‘other side’ is routinely used for target practice by the likes of Hannity and O’Reilly. Fox News, as we all know, is neither fair nor balanced and should be sued on the grounds of false advertising.

Here’s Gardiner being interviewed by former blogger, Iain Dale

I noticed on his recent blog for the Telegraph that someone had made a comment about his association with Sun Myung Moon. The comment was removed. What is Mr Gardiner so afraid of? Is he ashamed of his association with the ‘Reverend’ Moon?

The Unification Church (Moonies) provided the funds to set up the Washington Times, which was St Ronnie’s favourite newspaper.  And yes, Gardiner has written for the Washington Times too.

Here is a list of Moonie front groups. It’s a pretty long list.

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Randism

This made me laugh.

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