Tag Archives: fascism

Friends Like These…

Jacob Rees Mogg flanked by Jack Buckby (L) and Gregory Lauder-Frost (R).

It’s a sure sign of the Conservative Party’s dearth of talent that Jacob Rees Mogg should be talked up as a possible successor to the hapless and utterly useless Theresa May.  Many people find Moggy endearing. They love his plummy RP accent. They love his double-breasted suit jackets. They love his fustiness. They love his toffee-nosed demeanour and they love his apparently Waugh-esque wit. At Nowhere Towers we take a different view:  we find him tiresome and representative of an ages old problem with Britain. Namely, he reeks of privilege and his accent and ‘eccentric’ charm masks a ruthlessness and cruelty that is common to many members of his class.

When it comes to loving one’s oppressor, the Brits have both rationalized and elevated their oppression a fine art. We love our posh bastards. Don’t we?  Remember how people fawned over Bozza? I haven’t forgotten. Both of them went to Eton and Oxford. Both of them are seen as rather buffoonish, though for very different reasons. And both are seen as thoroughly British eccentrics. But that’s the problem: many people refuse to see through their media-constructed façades and choose to see oh-so-disarming posh twits instead. Please, wake up!

That Moggy should be touted by some Tories as a counterweight to Jeremy Corbyn’s soaring popularity speaks volumes about the parlous condition of his party and the dire health of our media. Take this gushing article from self-styled libertarian Mark Wallace, late of the Crash Bang Wallace blog and now executive editor of Conservative Home:

Moggmentum has gathered online – a fondly satirical Twitter account purporting to be him has 18,000 followers (and is often mistaken for the man himself), supercuts of his best moments attract hundreds of thousands of views on Youtube, and his outings on Question Time attract an enthusiastic following. His Instagram account, accompanying photos of him out and about with his children with dry wit, has a sizeable cult following, and there’s now even an unofficial campaign to elect him Prime Minister.

“Moggmentum”. Geddit?  I’ve seen the Twitter account and it’s genuine. Moggy’s tweeted twice and currently has 25,000 followers. Why?

I’ve read three articles recently that have warned against being taken in by Mogg’s posh charm.  These were, in no particular order, in The Canary  The New Statesman and  The New European. The last one was written by Victor Lewis Smith and was published in February.

Lewis-Smith writes:

Eccentricity is like catnip to television, and all it takes is a bowtie, a twirly moustache, a bouffant hairstyle, a monocle, or merely an upper-class accent to enable shameless privilege to pass itself off as harmless and even amusing oddity.

Lewis -Smith reminds us that Moggy is partly a media construction.  For his part, Moggy plays to television’s and the public’s expectations of a posh oddball, and he’s more than happy to do so. It provides the perfect cover for his reactionary views, which are anything but harmless and amusing.

Posh people have always provided comedy writers with a rich source of amusement. George Leybourne’s Champagne Charlie character is but one example of how the posh were routinely sent up in the music halls. But that’s part of a problem that won’t go away. We can send up the posh,  who are also authority figures, as much as we like but when it comes down to it, they’re still kicking us in the face and laughing while they’re doing it. The Tory cliché of “We’re the natural party of government” is, in reality, an unwitting admission of their arrogance, their conceit and their overweening sense of entitlement.

At the end of his article, Lewis -Smith puts the boot in:

Rees-Mogg is an Edwardian man who still seems to believe Harold Macmillan’s dictum about the US (first uttered in 1943), that “we are Greeks to their Romans”. But Britain couldn’t control America in Macmillan’s day (as we found out to our cost a few years later, over Suez), and we cannot control it now, because the relationship is not between two equals, but between a small country that continually boasts of a “special relationship,” and a large country that barely needs or notices that relationship at all.

Rees-Mogg’s patrician tones and classical references won’t work in Trump’s harsh business world, and we’ll soon find ourselves in the position of a small child in the back seat of the parental car, operating a toy steering wheel and always steering in the same direction as the real driver, just so we can pathetically pretend to ourselves that we still have some control over our own destiny.

Though all three articles mention Moggy’s  filibustering and his less-than-contemporary social attitudes – namely, his opposition to equal marriage and a woman’s right to choose, none of them mentions Moggy’s 2013 appearance at a black tie dinner organized by The Traditional Britain Group (TBG), a hard right pressure group that’s well to the right of the Tory Party. “Traditional”? “Britain”? Those two words are enough to get him tumescent with anticipation.

Rees Mogg was warned of the TBG’s ideological leanings by Searchlight’s Gerry Gable a day before he was due to take part. For reasons best known to himself, Moggy didn’t heed his warnings.  When Liberal Conspiracy revealed his speaking engagement the following day, Moggy claimed he was shocked by the group’s views and distanced himself from them. He dutifully donned sackcloth and ashes and toured the studios to offer his sincerest apologies.

Moggy told The Telegraph’s Matthew Holehouse.

“It’s undoubtedly embarrassing. I feel very silly. This was clearly a mistake,” he said. “I try to accept invitations from most people who ask me to speak. I could limit myself to just speaking to Conservative Associations, which would be safe but politics, is about speaking to a variety of views. But I wouldn’t want to be caught out in this way again.”

Let’s put it this way, if I’m invited to a black tie dinner (no chance) by a group that I know little or nothing about, I’m going to do a little research into them. Could it be… is it possible that the posh accent conceals a fundamental stupidity on Moggy’s part, or is it the case he knew exactly who these people were and merely feigned surprise when he was caught out? We may never know. In any case, it’s highly likely that some of his views and those of his hosts intersected. Why else would he have been accepted the invitation?

TBG has a very interesting backstory that’s firmly rooted in Britain’s far-right landscape and while it may deny that it’s fascist or far-right, the TBG’s position is barely discernible from that of other hard right groups, most notably The Monday Club or even The British National Party (BNP). It came to public attention for its views on Doreen Lawrence’s peerage and although it may claim that it isn’t racist, these are weasel words. As recently as March, the Bow Group, a Tory think-tank that’s on the hard right, invited the TBG to attend a three course dinner. According to the IB Times.

IBTimes UK has obtained an email circulated to members of the far-right Traditional Britain Group, informing them that they have been granted a special concession.

“They [the Bow Group] have kindly extended to Traditional Britain Group members a discount to join either the reception or the reception plus the 3 course dinner,” says the email, signed by Traditional Britain Group vice-president Gregory Lauder-Frost.

And there’s more:

Lauder-Frost was previously chairman of the foreign affairs policy committee of the Monday Club, a pressure group within the Tory party that was later banned by Iain Duncan Smith because of its views on race. He is UK CEO for Arktos Media, which has been described as the publishing wing of the alt-right white nationalist movement.

In 2013 the group’s annual conference was addressed by white nationalist ideologue Richard Spencer, before he was barred from 26 European countries including the UK after being deported from Hungary for holding a far-right conference. The 2013 gathering also hosted Austrian anti-Islam activist Markus Willinger.

Lauder-Frost et al may deny they’re fascists or Nazis but they clearly provide publishing support, if not, succour, for the alt-right, which encompasses all manner of extreme right positions.

Labour’s Louise Haigh, who was successful in getting Britain First proscribed, said:

“Assisted repatriation of anyone in the UK not ‘of European stock’; calling on brilliant, courageous women like Doreen Lawrence to ‘go back to their natural homeland’; these are the views of white nationalists and should never be normalised. Rather than inviting them to their anniversary bash, the Bow Group should treat the people who hold these views with the contempt they deserve.”

How could Moggy not have known what the TBG was about? It’s time to have a closer look at some of the people who are involved with the TBG.

In the image at the top of this article, Rees Mogg is flanked by Jack Buckby on the left and Gregory Lauder-Frost on the right. Buckby is a former member of the BNP and the founder of the “National Culturalists“. He’s also press officer for Liberty GB, a far-right party that opposes, among other things, immigration. He stood as his party’s candidate in the Batley and Spen by-election that was held after the murder of Labour MP, Jo Cox. Nice guy, huh?

Here’s the odious Buckby in action on Channel 4 News.

This is Lauder-Frost being interviewed by Vanessa Feltz on BBC Radio London. You will notice how he gets agitated by the idea of a prominent black woman like Doreen Lawrence being elevated to a peerage. Remember that all of Britain’s hereditary peers are white.

To say that Lauder-Frost is a Nazi admirer is something of an understatement. A former member of the Monday Club (he chaired their foreign affairs committee), Lauder-Frost is the vice president and treasurer of the TBG.  Prior to this, he was on the steering committee of the Conservative Democratic Alliance (CDA), a forerunner of the TBG. The CDA, for what it’s worth, was formed by disaffected members of the Monday Club.  TBG’s other vice president is Professor John Kersey, who describes himself as an “educationalist, musician and clergyman” (sic).  The site, ‘The Imaginative Conservative’ describes him as:

…an interdisciplinary historian whose scholarly work spans the three principal areas of music, education and traditionalist Catholicism. He currently serves as President, Director of Academic Affairs and David Hume Interdisciplinary Professor at European-American University.

The “European American University” currently appears to operate under the name ‘The Western Orthodox Academy’ and has branches in the Caribbean and West Africa.  Kersey is also rather nostalgic for feudalism.  As Tony the Tiger says: ” the aristocracy is just gggrrreeeeaaattt”!

What’s rather interesting about these TBG types is their connection to self-styled libertarian groups . Indeed, according to their website, Kersey also occupies the role of ‘Director of Cultural Affairs’ for the Libertarian Alliance but don’t be fooled by words like ‘libertarian’ or ‘freedom’. Their idea of freedom is yours and my slavery. When Moggy apologized for attending the TBG’s dinner, the site Libertarian News swung into action and complained that free thought and free speech were being denied. Oh, the drama!

Anti-fascists will be familiar with the name of Stuart Millson, who is also a TBG member and ex-member of the CDA, who, along with Jonathan Bowden (also a TBG member), formed the Revolutionary Conservative Caucus, a small but short-lived far right pressure group.  Millson was also a former member of the BNP and an officer with the semi-fascist outfit Western Goals Institute.  While he was in the RCS, Millson rubbed shoulders with the likes of Mark Cotterill, a former member of the National Front (NF) and a well-known figure on Britain’s far-right. This is not surprising given Millson’s former membership of the BNP, which itself was formed by a split in the NF. Millson was also once a member of the Conservative Party. Well, sort of…

From The Guardian, 27 August, 2001

Stephen Parker, a Tory member in Hertfordshire, wrote to Mr Ancram in 1999 with evidence that a self-declared rightwing extremist had forged a Tory party membership card. But in a letter to Peter Lilley, Mr Parker’s MP, the former chairman said in October 1999: “There is no further need to correspond with Mr Parker on this matter.” Mr Ancram argued that Stuart Millson, a BNP member in his youth, had merely made a copy of a membership card.

Mr Ancram’s refusal to take any action blew up in his face earlier this year when Mr Millson, who once dined in London with the French National Front leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, joined the Tonbridge and Malling Conservative association in Kent. He resigned in May this year after he was exposed by the Mirror.

The disclosure that Mr Ancram failed to take action to root out a known racist will confirm the fears of moderate Tories that the party hierarchy has been complacent about the far right’s attempts to infiltrate the party. It will also embarrass Mr Duncan Smith who has won the support of Mr Ancram and whose leadership campaign was rocked last week when a prominent backer in Wales was unmasked as a BNP sympathiser.

The Tories may deny it, but many of their members are sympathetic to groups like the TBG. Indeed, in the 1970s NF members joined local Conservative Clubs and were members of the Monday Club. Others are members of The Freedom Association, the faux libertarian pressure group that talks warmly about their idea of ‘freedom’, while working hard to deny it to others. Tories may complain about ‘entryism’ in the Labour Party, but for decades extreme-right entryists joined the party and they’re still joining.

Moggy’s antiquated views are only matched by his sartorial style. If you find him amusing or endearing, you might want to ask yourself this: what kind of friends are the TBG? Rees Mogg only apologised when he got caught by Liberal Conspiracy. If that had never happened, Moggy would have got away with it. Makes you wonder…

You can read the original Liberal Conspiracy article here.

 

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Mein Drumpf

drumpf

The man, the hand gestures.

In a little under a week’s time, Donald Trump will be sworn in as President of the United States. The property tycoon, reality show host and serial bankrupt (yes) will lead one of the largest and most sophisticated war machines on the planet.  Much has been made of Trump’s lack of a political hinterland by the media.  Indeed, he has no experience of political office and this supposed outsider status, claim his supporters, is what makes him so appealing.   “He’ll shake up the establishment” say his supporters.  Yeah, I guess he will but not in the way you think.

Even Warren G. Harding, to whom I have often compared Trump, had political experience as the Lieutenant Governor of Ohio and as senator for the same state.  Like Trump, his cabinet was stuffed with millionaires.  Yet, even Harding described himself as “unfit for office”, something that Trump is unlikely to do, such is the size of his ego and evident lack of self-awareness.  Harding’s presidency was dogged by scandals and he died in office.  I’ll just leave that there.

Trump has dodged questions about his fitness for office by attacking his opponents.  This is the classic tactic of deflection but it also signals his inability to accept responsibility for his actions and, moreover, the words that come from his mouth.  I know it’s unfair and unreasonable for a lay person like myself to make a remote psychological diagnosis based on a handful of signifiers, but Trump is a rampant narcissist.

On the question of whether or not he’s racist?  Well, Trump has consistently denied it, yet he’s been busily appointing racists to his cabinet and his White House staff.   This appears to encapsulate the contradictory nature of the man himself: he will say one thing and do the complete opposite.  What cannot be denied is the way in which America’s racists, xenophobes and Nazis have been emboldened by Trump’s victory.  His supporters may shrug, roll their eyes and claim “a few Nazis marching doesn’t mean anything” but I don’t recall the same thing happening when Reagan or the Bushes won the presidency. Do you?

Trump’s campaign slogan was the simplistic: “Make America Great Again”. This kind of slogan is reminiscent of Hitler’s and Mussolini’s rhetoric and suggested a return to a mythical past.  During the bruising election campaign, Trump had been compared to both dictators by many commentators.  The Cat once thought a closer comparison could be made to Louis-Napoleon, the future Napoleon III, who spent a great deal of time and effort attracting the votes of the poor.  But that’s where any resemblance ends.   Unlike Louis-Napoleon, Trump has not written a treatise on the elimination of poverty (Trump doesn’t even read books).  In fact, he hasn’t mentioned the issue of poverty at all,  preferring instead to charm the impoverished with magick slogans and by blaming Muslims,  immigrants and foreigners for for their social condition.  One more thing: Napoleon III was a soldier.  Trump dodged the draft.

Trump’s ploy was thus cynical and calculating.  He appealed to the reactionary instincts of many working class whites by pressing their buttons and schmoozing them, while at the same time making moves to consolidate and extend the power of America’s filthy rich – all of which he did in plain sight.  Time will tell if Trump will morph into a latter day Napoleon III, but to do this, he will need to use executive powers to declare a state of emergency and stage a coup against himself as Louis-Napoleon did in 1851.  Let’s hope that idea never pops into his head.

So is Trump a fascist? Fascism in the early 21st centuries doesn’t wear uniforms and smash up printing presses as Mussolini’s Blackshirts had done in the 1920s.  These Third Position fascists have appropriated the language of the Left and consciously adopted a victim mentality.  Their anti-intellectual thinkers (sic) have concocted conspiracy theories, like the Frankfurt School/Cultural Marxism smear, and barely concealed their racism behind the language of classical liberalism.  19th century Liberals like Lord John Russell were quite content to see the Irish starve to death during The Famine, because they saw themselves as superior specimens of humanity.  They were committed social Darwinists.  The fascist is also a social Darwinist at heart.

The so-called ‘alt-right’ are, to be sure, fascists in all but name.  They are mostly male and mainly white.  They think feminism is a ‘cancer’ and loathe equal rights for minority groups.  They bang the drum for nationalism and glorify the military. They also follow Trump.  No doubt some of them may even call themselves ‘libertarians’.  Their freedom is a checklist of textbook freedoms for their fellows.  Third Positionist parties will often use the word ‘freedom’ to deflect attention from their patent opposition to the freedoms of Others .  We can see this in the name of the now defunct British Freedom Party and others on the continent that purport to be the ‘guardians’ of freedom.

Third Positionists have also taken advantage of the confusion generated by mainstream politicians, who have provided them with ideal conditions in which to propagate.  Indeed, the triangulationism of Tony Blair’s Third Way and the nouveau Conservatism of David Cameron, which sought to ape it, must take some responsibility for the rise of far-right in Britain.  One failed to meet dog-whistle racism head on and the other actively employed it.  Both of them were obsessed with superficialities and refused to address real structural problems, and politicians from each party continue to foster division and hatred through their appropriation of the far-right’s rhetoric on immigration.  The extreme centre is no place to be at a time like this!

Trump may have cast himself as an outsider and self-styled opponent on the ‘elite’ but he is one of the elites.  He didn’t start in business by saving up quarters that he earned through bagging groceries at Walmart.  He went to expensive educational institutions and his daddy handed him a few million to get the ball rolling.  Trump is a corporatist and corporatism is central to fascist economic thinking.  Fascism is nothing more than the marriage between the state and corporate power. It only sees the working class as drones, breeding machines or as ‘boots on the ground’.

The overall political, cultural and social orientation of Trump’s administration does not bode well for the working class white people who voted for him, because it is they who will be shafted;  sacrificed on the altar of corporatism. But would Hilary Clinton be any better?  No.  What America really needed was Bernie Sanders and he was stitched up by the Democratic Party establishment.  Now we have a reality TV star and property tycoon as President.  Just think, over 30 years ago a reactionary former actor and state governor became POTUS and some people thought he was ‘great’.

 

 

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Daniel Hannan on Norris McWhirter, Supporter of Fascism

Some time ago, I wrote a blog on Daniel Hannan’s defence of Norris McWhirter after he and his beloved Freedom Association got into a lather about David Baddiel’s off the cuff remarks about the former being no better than a brownshirt. Beastrabban’s article is much more in depth about McWhirter’s passions, shall we say, than mine. McWhirter subscribed to the League of Empire Loyalists’ journal “Candour” (sit back and think about that title for a moment). The LEL gave birth to the National Front and similar parties.

Beastrabban\'s Weblog

McWhirter

Norris McWhirter, Founder of the Freedom Association and probable supporter of the anti-Semitic and racist League of Empire Loyalists

The extreme Right-wing Conservative MEP, Daniel Hannan, amongst his other attacks on the Left and the NHS, criticised the comedian David Baddiel for his film criticising Norris McWhirter in his online Telegraph column. Baddiel had made the terrible offence of comparing the Freedom Association, which McWhirter founded, to the BNP. Guy Debord’s Cat has also posted a detailed critique of Hannan’s comments, ‘Hannan: McWhirter is a Decent Man (Because I Say So)’ at https://buddyhell.wordpress.com/2010/12/24/hannan-mcwhirter-was-a-decent-man-because-i-say-so/.

In fact Baddiel’s comment about the Freedom Association being similar to the BNP has more than a little truth in the context of McWhirter’s extreme Right-wing political views. There is evidence that McWhirter was a member of the League of Empire Loyalists, a Fascist, anti-Semitic organisation that formed the National Front along with the BNP, the Greater…

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Telegraph Comment of the Week (#16)

It’s been 16 weeks since I started the Telegraph Comment of the Week and in that time, the vast majority of the comments I’ve featured here have been left by self-described ethno-nationalists who baulk at the thought of being called ‘racists’.  Yet this is what they are and there is no escape for them. No matter how hard these people try to rationalise their racism as eminently sensible and logical, they always end up making themselves look foolish as well as hate-filled.

This week’s comment was found on this blog by Alan Johnson, no not the right-wing Labour MP, but the Torygraph columnist. His mini-biography describes him as…

… the Editor of Fathom: for a deeper understanding of Israel and the region and Senior Research Fellow at the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre (BICOM). A professor of democratic theory and practice, he is an editorial board member of Dissent magazine, and a Senior Research Associate at The Foreign Policy Centre.

A “deeper understanding of Israel”? Come again? That is not the aim of BICOM (British Israel Communications and Research Centre), which is, for all intents and purposes, the British version of AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee). Like its American counterpart, BICOM acts as a propaganda and lobbying arm of the Israeli state and exists to demonize opponents of Israel’s military and social actions. Its role is to also cosmeticize Israeli brutality in the Occupied Territories and Gaza and to drum up support for a war against Iran.

The title of Johnson’s blog is designed to attract loads of frothing-at-the-mouth nationalist types who whine and moan about ‘halal’ and ‘dhimmitude’. The title is:

George Orwell betrayed: Islamist Tariq Ramadan gives a lecture in his name

Here are the opening paragraphs.

This week in London, the annual George Orwell Lecture was given by the Islamist writer Tariq Ramadan. Where is one to start?

George Orwell was against religious censorship. Tariq Ramadan campaigned successfully to cancel a production of Voltaire’s play Le fanatisme, ou Mahomet le Prophete in Geneva.

Orwell was a rational man. When Ramadan taught at the College de Saussure he argued in favour of Islamic biology over Darwin.

I’ll tell you what isn’t ‘”rational”: the tone of Johnson’s article.

Cue today’s headbanger! Today’s commenter is “journeyman” who writes:

journeyman numpty

This is the rant of a  typical BNP type. Notice the hysterical tone of the comment: the way he (I assume it was a he wrote this dreck) rails against “anti-racism” and complains of “White historical guilt”. Notice how he also falls back on Nazi-style hygiene metaphors by using the words “healthy and auto-immune defence mechanisms”. Anyone who isn’t in “journeyman’s” eyes one of ‘us’ is by definition a ‘parasite’. Yet, what these people seem to forget in their rush to claim the ‘West’ is more civilized than any other point on the compass, is the brutality that was used to subdue colonized peoples in Africa, Asia and The Americas. There was nothing ‘civilized’ about the European genocide of the American Indians or the Australian Aborigines.

When hardline right-wingers like “journeytoparanoia” rant and rave about social hygiene, it’s only a matter of time till they start playing the victim.

By doing this the Left aided and abetted in Global Capital / Corporatism’s unquenchable thrist for cheap labour and profit, by crushing any resistance to mass immigration by demonising it as ” fascist ” “bigot ” ” racist ” ” hate monger ” “nazi “

Here, our fascist friend uses words that allude to The Protocols, then he complains that he and his violent ilk are being “demonised”. There’s an old saying where I come from. ‘If the cap fits’ and the cap fits this fasho so well.

The last part of this comment is completely off-the-scale in terms of its ridiculousness.

The Capitalist billionaires who donate to Left wing causes are not “right wing ”  They are Capitalists who support Left wing agendas like the Koch Brothers or Soros who are pro-mass immigration .

The Koch Brothers are what? Left-wing? Not according to all the available information, they’re not. Naturally, “journeytothebin” closes with a much-loved phrase of the anti-immigrationist right: “mass immigration”. Nothing like an appeal to emotion, eh?

Coherent thinking is not the forte of the far-right, hence the potpourri of hate-speech and paranoid ramblings. Their ideas are produced out of hatred, prejudice and fear. They use emotional phrases to play on the heart-strings of gullible members of the public, some of whom will claim they are in favour of ‘free speech’. But in allowing these people to dominant the discourse on immigration, they unwittingly allow the entire debate to be poisoned with the rhetoric of hate and intolerance.

Remember, if you’ve seen a comment on the Telegraph website that you think qualifies as a candidate for Telegraph Comment of the Week, then post a screenshot of the comment and a link to the original article to buddyhell@hotmail.com.

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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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Telegraph Comment of the Week (#9)

This week’s comment comes from another one of those morons who thinks fascism and Nazism is “left-wing” and “socialist”. Who said right-wingers weren’t thick? What’s so ironic is that many of them had the most expensive education money could buy and yet, they still turned out stupid. People like this don’t really need to excel at school, because they will always inherit the family pile or will land themselves a nice cushy City job thanks to their relationship with the Queen Mother’s equerry. With that kind of social capital, how on earth can anyone fail?

Today’s comment was found on The Moonie’s blog and comes from “Hawthorn”.

Hawthorn headbanger

There isn’t a facepalm big enough for this comment. Let’s remind ourselves of Generalissimo Francisco Franco y Bahamonde’s politics. Franco wasn’t a full fascist, he was a reactionary conservative. The state of which he was head was a corporatist state, where deals were cut between the Generalissimo and corporate big-wigs during hunting trips. The Falangist Party – which contained many fascists and were Franco’s most fervent supporters – occupied high government office. Franco fused this party with Carlist  (monarchist) elements, making this party authoritarian but not fully fascist.

During the Spanish Civil War, Franco’s Condor Legion was supplied and supported by Hitler’s Nazis and Mussolini’s Fascists. I can’t think of any left-wing governments that sought support from the Nazis. Can you?

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The British Freedom Party: who are they?

The short answer to the question is “the English Defence  League or EDL”, the long answer is that the British Freedom Party (BFP) is a small party that has welcomed the EDL to its ranks.  The BFP was formed in 2010 by a group of disgruntled and disaffected BNP members who were unhappy with Nick Griffin’s leadership and the lack of transpatrent accounting of the party’s finances. The self-styled leader of the EDL, Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, who is otherwise known as “Tommy Robinson” is now the party’s deputy leader. Here’s a picture of Yaxley-Lennon appearing at a hastily-arranged news conference.

BFP Yaxley-Lennon

I first became aware of the BFP when they started following me on Twitter. I’d never heard of them before, but I suspected that they weren’t necessarily just any party that was obsessed with an idea of freedom. I Googled them and discovered what they were and immediately blocked them.

I won’t link to any pages from the BFP website for obvious reasons. Here’s what I found on their “Democracy” page of their manifesto.

The British Freedom Party will return democracy to Britain by:

1. Withdrawing from the European Union.

2. Devolving decision-making power down to the lowest practicable level.

3. Abolishing restrictions on free speech.

4. Allowing British citizens to utilise rights and liberties enshrined in the British Constitution in court cases to challenge laws that undermine, annul or remove those rights and liberties.

5. Re-introducing the parliamentary boundaries, boroughs, and counties as they were in 1960.

6. Introducing citizens’ referenda whose decisions shall be binding on parliament.

7. Ensuring that any issues concerning England only, are debated and voted upon only by English MP’s.*

8. Restoring power back to the British Parliament by repealing all laws and treaties that have allowed other nations and supra-national institutions to impose their laws upon us.

* However: we oppose the break-up of the United Kingdom. Make no mistake; this country is under an invasion graver even than the dark days of the Battle of Britain. The New World globalists backed by wealthy banking cartels, will not stop at the Tweed, Severn, or Tamar rivers, nor will the advocates of a world caliphate stop there. These people want the whole of Britain and what better way than by encouraging a broken up, devolved Britain?

You have to laugh at the way they use the Battle of Britain to evoke images of a nation under siege. Oh, the drama!

Just for a laugh and out of morbid curiousity I decided to take a look at their page on immigration. It didn’t surprise me.

It’s About Space Not Race

Britain has been subjected to mass immigration for several decades and our small island can take no more. It’s about space not race and it’s time to shut the door and stop further immigration.

Culture Not Colour

We believe that it is the obligation of all naturalised migrants to fit in with our way of life and to respect our customs. For our society to be cohesive it is essential that all citizens are integrated fully and that they respect the British way of life. We bear no ill will to the settled minorities who have adopted our culture but this integration is a duty not a choice.

Most immigrants who originally came to the United Kingdom, from the former British Commonwealth in particular, came to Britain specifically because of our British culture and because they wanted to live in a country and culture that they loved. They also now have to live in a Britain where the indigenous British folk, and fully integrated British citizens like themselves, are becoming strangers due to unrestricted mass immigration.

Asylum Seekers

British Freedom would refuse asylum in Britain to those who have passed through safe countries to get here. Britain would no longer accept such people as genuine. The UN charter is quite clear about this in that asylum should be claimed in the first safe country passed and not in the one that pays the most generous benefits.

Foreign Criminals

Rather than releasing our own criminals early to re-offend we would deport the foreign born criminals currently taking up space in our jails.

It is not Britain’s job to pay for their upkeep when prison places are in short supply.

Putting British Citizens First

We would end the scandal of cheap labour being imported from overseas depriving British workers of jobs and put our people first.

There isn’t anything here that truly differs from the BNP or the other racist parties. The BFP and the EDL like to claim that they aren’t racists or fascists but the language that is being used here leaves very few doubts as to their ideological position. They say that “most immigrants came from the British Commonwealth” because of “our British culture”. This is ahistorical tosh. Those who arrived here from the former colonies came here to work in the NHS, the Royal Mail and on the trains and buses. At any rate, the antecedents of the BNP and EDL subjected these immigrants to abuse. Many, if not all, EDL and BFP members would have readily agreed with Enoch Powell.

In addition to their manifesto, the BFP has a “20 point plan”.

1. Introduce a US style First Amendment guaranteeing Free Speech.

2. Leave the profoundly undemocratic European Union.

3. Abolish the Human Rights Act, which benefits only foreign criminals/ terrorists.

4. Halt any further non-Western immigration for a period of five years.

5. Deport foreign criminals, seditious dual nationality Islamists and illegal immigrants.

6. Abolish all multicultural and equality quangos.

7. Halt and turn back all aspects of the Islamisation of Britain, including Sharia finance.

8. Drastically reduce crime – criminals should fear the consequences of their behaviour.

9. Repair the damage wreaked by the progressive educational establishment.

10. Promote British values and assimilation, rather than multiculturalism and division.

11. Rebuild Britain’s Armed Forces to 1980 levels.

12. Diminish the public sector and government interference in the private sector.

13. Withdraw troops from all areas where we are not directly threatened.

14. Cancel foreign aid to countries which do not deserve or need it.

15. End welfare payments to immigrants; they must pay for their housing and children.

16. Ensure no elderly person lives in fear, and can afford both heat and food in the winter.

17. Abolish destructive Political Correctness, promote Common Sense.

18. Promote morality, marriage, the family, the community and the nation state.

19. Allow pubs the freedom of operating as smoking or non-smoking establishments.

20. Live by Christianity’s Golden Rule: “Do unto others as thou wouldst be done by.”

With regards to the 20th point, it is doubtful that many members of the EDL/BFP are regular church-goers. However, like the Tories, they want to abolish the Human Rights Act, destroy  state education (which they accuse of being “progressive”) and shrink the public sector. As for an “American-style First Amendment”, what document are they amending and, given their antipatrhy towards “Americanisation”, does this not smack of bald hypocrisy? But “free speech”? Only those who support the BFP will have that.

The BFP may try to distance themselves from the thuggery of the EDL but their efforts look decidedly piecemeal, if not wholly dishonest. The Guardian says that

a BFP member tweeted his support for Norwegian killer Anders Breivik, while an EDL member defended the 34-year-old, currently on trial in Oslo after confessing to the murder of 77 people last July, and said that if he had “singled out the muslim filth” he would be viewed as a hero.

EDL News (a site that investigates the EDL) tells us

There is was no disguising the party’s love for fascism when BFP joint deputy leader and second in command of the English Defence League, Kevin Carroll, called for the execution of a democratically elected MP at the EDL’s Luton demonstration this weekend.

Stood in front of a baying  mob of drunken shaven-headed football hooligans, Carroll called for Bradford West MP George Galloway, to be dragged to Traitors Gate and hung for treason.

We at EDL News would like to ask Mr Carroll who else would be hung under a future BDP ruling party (If the British public were ever to embrace fascism as an acceptable ideology).

Fascists like the BFP do not only want to execute people for opposing their racist ideologies; many would be attacked and imprisoned for their views. People with long hair, people with glasses, people who are not pasty white enough, people with an education, people who dress differently. History shows the long, long list of the perceived enemies of fascism.

It’s amusing how they can recall the name of Traitor’s Gate, which hasn’t been used for hundreds of years. It has also been bricked up for some time as this image shows.

Finally there is very little to distinguish the BFP from any other far-right grouping. In some respects they resemble the Monday Club of days gone by. In other respects, they look just like another fascist party that’s lying to the electorate about their true intentions.

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Tory assembly members refuse to debate cyclist deaths

Yesterday saw some shameful and disgraceful behaviour from London’s Tories who put their own selfish interests before the lives of the capital’s cyclists.  The entire Tory group walked out of a meeting just before the Assembly was about to debate a recent spike in cycling deaths. Adam Bienkov has the story here.

Shepherds Bush blog adds,

An unholy alliance of Conservatives and Richard Barnbrook – the racist British National Party elected member of the Greater London Authority now serving as an “independent” – took place yesterday, preventing a debate on cyclist safety.

In spite of their protestations, some Tories have always been prepared to co-operate with the extreme right.  Indeed in the 1970’s it was an open secret that some Conservative Clubs had allowed in members of the National Front.

In an earlier blog, I joked,

There’s no profit in cycle safety and people should have the right to kill themselves on the road without the ‘nanny state’ poking its nose in

Sadly, it would seem that my quip isn’t that far removed from reality.

This isn’t the first time the Tories and a fascist have walked out of the chamber arm in arm. They also did it in June in protest over a motion to condemn plans to increase the speed limit on Black friars Bridge.

So what was the official Tory excuse for their behaviour? This is from the Evening Standard

Andrew Boff, the party’s cycling spokesman, said the walk-out was over a longstanding complaint that the Tories are being unfairly denied the chance to chair assembly committees. The matter flared up today over a row over who should chair a new police committee.

Boff says,

It was nothing to do with cycling. We would have liked to have debated this but we have been left with only one method of indicating to the other groups that what they’re doing is fundamentally unjust

Absolute poppycock. Tory group leader, James Cleverly added,

Once again other parties on the Assembly have chosen to put petty party politics before properly representing the democratic view of Londoners by denying us fair and equitable chairmanship and deputy chairmanship on Assembly committees

If you ask me, it’s the dissembling Tories who are being petty.  Of course, they offered no explanation for their link with Barnbrook either. Are you surprised? No, I’m not either.

Here’s a video of them walking out.

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John Galliano, casual anti-Semitism and Ezra Pound

I don’t follow fashion and I despise the fashion industry. Out of all the arts, fashion is probably the least politically and socially engaged of all the forms. Its leading ‘lights’ are self-congratulatory and self-obsessed. Some, like John Galliano, are either completely clueless or wilfully ignorant of history. So when I’d heard that Galliano had been accused of anti-Semitism, I wasn’t at all surprised.

Galliano’s excuse for his outburst is that he is addicted to drink. Nowhere Towers believes this is a feeble excuse and suspects that Galliano is being dishonest and is really an anti-Semite at heart. In all of the talk about the incident, no one has once mentioned the fact that he models his appearance (and perhaps his thinking) on Ezra Pound.

For those who aren’t familiar, Ezra Pound was an expatriate American poet who lived in Britain in the early part of the 20th century. He was friends with T S Eliot, another expat American, whose poems he published. He also helped to shape the work of Hemingway and Joyce. Pound wrote for Wyndham Lewis’ (who was also an anti-Semite) literary magazine BLAST and coined the word “Vorticism”, which was the British inflection of futurism. Pound was appalled by the loss of lives in WWI, which he blamed on “international finance and usury” – these words are often employed euphemistically by anti-Semites to refer to Jews.  Initially attracted to  CH Douglas’s social credit ideas, he became a fascist in 1924. He wrote anti-Semitic articles for Action,  Oswald Moseley’s newspaper. He dabbled in economics too…but no one took him seriously.

He lived in Italy during WWII and broadcasted anti-Semitic propaganda for the fascist government.  When the Allies invaded Sicily in 1943, he fled north. Days after Mussolini was shot, he was captured by partisans, who later released him. Fearing the game was up, he and his wife surrendered to the US Counter-intelligence Corps in Genoa. He was imprisoned. He was later examined by psychiatrists, who concluded that Pound had had a mental breakdown. It should be noted that Pound was an early advocate of the creation of a Jewish homeland in Palestine.  If that sounds surprising, then we should remember that Zionism was not popular among the majority of Europe’s Jews and was seen, and rightly so, as a playing into the hands of anti-Semites.

So now Galliano is awaiting his fate. He claims that he isn’t anti-Semitic or racist and yet, it seems, he has plenty of previous form. Besides, racism seems to be rife in the fashion industry.  This blog says,

Issues around racism within the fashion industry aren’t new. Every few months, it seems, a new incident takes place: models being photographed in blackface (Claudia Schiffer in 2010 and Lara Stone in 2009); non-white models dressed in “tribal” clothing (most recently at the 2010 Victoria’s Secret fashion show); all-white runway shows (Fall 2008 is perhaps the most infamous example, but despite media coverage of the issue, the trends have continued); all-white fashion editorials in some of the most influential magazines; and, in seeming apology, the cliched “black issue,” dedicated  to models of color (see, most recently, Vogue Italia, 2008).  Influential people of color within the fashion industry have been speaking out for years, but the situation remains bleak.  With such a pitiful record, it’s little wonder that the hiring of a white editor for Essence magazine was met with such outcry.

Galliano’s defence reminds me of the oft-used defence of the 1970’s, “It was just a joke…can’t you take a joke”? Well, call me humourless but racism is racism and it doesn’t matter if it is masked by jocularities. In fact, that makes it worse.

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From Hayek to Rand: a short stroll through neoliberal thinking

Hayek: the Daddy of Neoliberalism

Friedrich von Hayek was the daddy. He was the Thatcher government’s philosophical anchor. He was one of the high priests of neoliberalism.  Hayek was the man whose book Thatcher famously slammed down on a table and declared “This is what we believe in”! The book in  question was Hayek’s second attack on socialism titled The Constitution of Liberty. His first, The Road to Serfdom is given similar veneration by Conservatives and is no less visceral in its straw man critiques of socialism and liberalism. This is an odd position for a man who was wedded to the ideals of classical liberalism but it is the social aspects of liberalism that Hayek rails against, not its economic message.

In the first chapters of the book, Hayek rails against both liberalism and socialism. He holds Britain (or England as he says) as a model economy and it is through Britain’s free trade policies of the 19th century that his notion of liberty is predicated. he says,

The rule of freedom which has been achieved in England seemed destined to spread throughout the world

He ignores the methods by which the British idea of freedom was exported throughout the world: by the barrel of a gun. The Road to Serfdom was published in 1944. Hayek, an Austrian economist had taken a position at the London School of Economics. In Vienna he had been influenced by Ludwig von Mises, the founder of the Austrian School of Economics whose name has gone on to grace the title of a US right wing libertarian think tank. Interstingly enough for a self-confessed ‘liberal’, von Mises gave his support to Englebert Dollfuss’s Austrofascist regime. Von Mises served as economic advisor to Dollfuss until the latter was assassinated by the Nazis.  The Jewish von Mises would have found it difficult to live under a Nazi regime because of its racial purity laws.

The von Mises Institute ‘scholar’, Lew Rockwell has a selective take on fascism here. He completely rewrites history by airbrushing out von Mises involvement in Dollfuss’s regime.  Indeed apologists for von Mises will brush aside any suggestion of  his collaboration with the “it was a lesser evil [than communism]” defence. We can see the start of a pattern here: those who would describe themselves specifically as classical liberals would go on to offer their support for authoritarian regimes. Hayek and Friedman both lent their support to Pinochet’s Chile – Hayek visited there in 1984. The libertarian rhetoric obscures the reactionary and authoritarian tendencies that are present within their strain of classical liberalism. Von Mises left Austria for the United States and together with Hayek and Friedman they founded the Société du Mont-Pèlerin, which became a sort of anti-Kenynesian think-tank; a hothouse for neoliberal thinkers. You can read their Statement of Aims here.

Neoliberalism is essentially a late 20th century variant of classical liberalism. Whereas the the emphasis of classical liberalism was on free trade, limited government and so forth, Hayek and his contemporaries Ludwig von Mises and Milton Friedman, placed greater emphasis on the notion of the individual as a sovereign being who was unimpeded by regulation or ‘red tape’ and free to act as agents consumers within a ‘liberal democracy’. This, they posited, would move human society along a progressive path because competition, they argued, is the natural human condition and the logic was that competition was therefore good for progress. In other words, system that entirely deregulated economic activity would produce greater wealth and thus greater happiness and provide an outlet for natural competition.  To achieve this, all social relations would become market relations: everything that was once publicly-owned would be bought and sold in a market place (Gilbert, 2008). This included the welfare state, much of which was largely dismantled by Thatcher in the 1980’s. Neoliberalism is classical liberalism that has been taken to an extreme.  Everything and everyone must make a profit. Thatcher once declared that she wanted to see a “nation of entrepreneurs”. Everyone would become an entrepreneur, un petit capitaliste, a shopkeeper, a spiv whether they wanted to be one or not.  The former nationalized companies were expected to make profits for their shareholders, the lessons of history were apparently forgotten as the government sold the public a romanticized image of the age of the great railway companies; it was an image that was intended to restore a lost pride in an underfunded rail network that was now re-branded using, in some cases, the names of the Big 4 rail companies (like GWR).

Nostalgia was a new way of selling government ‘products’. But nostalgia is history that has been purged of those discourses that do not conform to the narrative of the dominant ideological class. Gil Scott-Heron says in his beat poem, B-Movie

The idea concerns the fact that this country wants nostalgia. They want to go back as far as they can – even if it’s only as far as last week. Not to face now or tomorrow, but to face backwards.

What the government failed to mention was the fact that all the so-called Big 4 railway companies (Southern, LNER, GWR and LMS) were struggling before they were nationalized in 1945.  LNER never made a profit.  It is impossible for an enterprise that serves the public interest, such as a publicly-owned railway, to turn a profit. They are public enterprises. Such enterprises are necessary for the greater good of the nation because they stimulate the economic growth of which Hayek and his disciples claim to be in favour. Publicly-owned enterprises are therefore  too important to be left to the devices of the market. As we have seen with rail privatization, the situation is chaotic: there are multiple train operating companies, a separate rail infrastructure company and at least 3 different regulators, which includes the Department for Transport.

Material wealth underpinned this notion of the individual and the human being was magically transformed into a rational calculating machine free only to make money and consume commodities. This is best illustrated by Adam Curtis’s examination of Nash’s game theory and its employment in the neoliberal project in his documentary, The Trap – What Happened to our Dream of Freedom? (BBC2, 2007). In the film he says that the theory was employed by the West during the Cold War. It produced the so-called theory of ‘Mutually Assured Destruction’, which was a sort of ‘who blinks first gets annihilated” game. Nash’s theory also filtered into the sphere of economic thought and resonated with Hayek.  It was posited that human beings are irrational beings that act only in their own self interest and that people need to be given targets to acheive that will eventually become benchmarks. In Hayek’s grand vision there is no room for altuism. There is no alternative (TINA). One of the cornerstones of neoliberalism is its insistence on personal responsibility

Freedom to order our own conduct in the sphere where material circumstances force a choice upon us, and responsibility for the arrangement of our own life according to our own conscience, is the air in which alone moral sense grows and in which moral values are daily recreated in the free decision of the individual. Responsibility, not to a superior, but to one’s own conscience, the awareness of a duty not exacted by compulsion, the necessity to decide which of the things one values are to be sacrificed to others, and to bear the consequences of one’s own decision, are the very essence of any morals which deserve the name.

Nietzsche would question the use of the word “morality” here. He said “morality is the herd instinct of the individual”. Morality is imposed on others by those who dishonestly claim that they have some form of moral authority or a superior framework of morals to the Other.

The Tories were in the electoral wilderness for 13 years. During this time they had 4 leaders, 3 of whom offered little different to the standard Hayekian formula that had been fused with romanticism (Hague’s Save the Pound campaign slogan). The election of David Cameron in 2007 was portrayed as a break with the past. He was a fresh-faced old Etonian with some blue blood in his veins. In spite of his evident poshness, Cameron was immediately compared to Blair but the comparison relied solely on the fact that they were both relatively young when they became party leaders. Blair had no philosophical anchor unless you count Giddens. Indeed Blair claimed to be “beyond ideology”. He was neither right nor left (sic).

There is no such confusion with the Tories, they are right wing. But Cameron

A is A

had to make some kind of break with the past. Hayek was deemed too old fashioned; too closely associated with the Thatcher years. More importantly, they were swept along by the tide of  libertarian thinking in the United States. These libertarians were searching for a new ‘philosopher’ to help them solve the economic mess that they and their associates in the banking and finance sector had got us into. They looked for a new way of justifying their attacks on the poor. So with nary any hesitation, they turned to Ayn Rand.

Last year, I was watching Newsnight, I don’t remember the exact month but they were running an item on Rand. If I remember correctly, Douglas Carswell,  MP for Clacton, whom I had never heard of at the time, came on to talk about her.

That was the first sign of what was to come.

I also noticed that Rand was being talked about more in the quality press. There was talk of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie making a film based on Atlas Shrugs. Pitt and Jolie are self-confessed fans of Rand. There are others too ranging from Oliver Stone to Ronald Reagan. In April of last year, Carswell penned this blog.

Rand ’s ideas are back.  Or more accutrately, Rand’s ideas never went away.  They were simply ignored by that leftist elite that presides over our culture and our institutions.  But now the internet means all those quangocrats, bogus academics and Guardianistas no longer call the cultural shots like they did.

The left are going to hate it.

Not just the left but anyone with a shred of humanity in their soul, Doug. Carswell talks of a “leftist elite” but what is this “leftist elite”?  He assumes that because the UK hasn’t fully embraced the authoritarian libertarianism of Hayek et al, then the country is dominated by these “leftist elites”. To be sure, this is a phrase that Carswell has borrowed from the lexicon of the US Right where Rand is still very big business. Carswell also ignores the fact that his own party, the Conservatives is a party full of elitists – many of them are millionaires and sit in cabinet (there’s 22, count them).

Rand, like Hayek, placed the individual at the centre of her philosophy. The Noble Soul was the habitus for her ideas of rational self-interest or, as I would suggest it be called, rationalized  selfishness. This selfishness was further rationalized as ‘freedom’. For Rand, freedom could only be achieved through unbridled laissez-faire capitalism which she described as “the unknown ideal”.

When I say “capitalism,” I mean a full, pure, uncontrolled, unregulated laissez-faire capitalism—with a separation of state and economics, in the same way and for the same reasons as the separation of state and church.

The sudden fetishization and appropriation of Rand’s philosophy by some Conservatives is odd. On the surface, there is little to choose between Hayek and Rand. In both cases, the arguments against collectivized activity by Hayek and altruism by Rand ignore the complexities of human existence which reduces humanity to its most bestial level; an unfeeling lump of flesh that only has the capacity for making money . Emotions, community and family ties, empathy, sympathy and kindness are all erased by Rand. If one should show kindness to another, she would argue, then it is done entirely out of self interest. She does not say why.  Regarding emotions, she wrote,

Emotions are the automatic results of man’s value judgments integrated by his subconscious; emotions are estimates of that which furthers man’s values or threatens them, that which is for him or against him—lightning calculators giving him the sum of his profit or loss.

This is a rather strange rationalization of emotions, which are in themselves, hard to pin down.  What this passage certainly reveals to us is Rand’s coldness. Perhaps it is because she thought of relationship with other people as a means to an end. So cold was she that she rationalized emotions as products in a system of exchange, profit and loss. Her coldness is further revealed in her pronouncements on humour.

Humor is the denial of metaphysical importance to that which you laugh at. The classic example: you see a very snooty, very well dressed dowager walking down the street, and then she slips on a banana peel . . . . What’s funny about it? It’s the contrast of the woman’s pretensions to reality. She acted very grand, but reality undercut it with a plain banana peel. That’s the denial of the metaphysical validity or importance of the pretensions of that woman. Therefore, humor is a destructive element—which is quite all right, but its value and its morality depend on what it is that you are laughing at. If what you are laughing at is the evil in the world (provided that you take it seriously, but occasionally you permit yourself to laugh at it), that’s fine. [To] laugh at that which is good, at heroes, at values, and above all at yourself [is] monstrous . . . . The worst evil that you can do, psychologically, is to laugh at yourself. That means spitting in your own face.

It is arguable that Rand had no sense of humour because it does not figure in the calculus of profit and loss.

Ayn Rand has been portrayed as a philosopher. Her philosophy, which she named Objectivism, has become the template for those who are either unfamiliar with Hayek or have been persuaded to read her fiction because it is supposed to be some sort of rite of passage.  It is possible to argue that Rand was deeply misanthropic, seeing only the potential for making money and rejecting human complexities as an almighty inconveniences – which she categorically ignored. She once said,

Money is the barometer of a society’s virtue.

It is not clear what she means by the word “virtue” but she employs the word in the title of her book The Virtue of Selfishness. When Rand died her followers placed a wreath in the shape of a 6 foot high dollar sign beside her grave. It was an oddly pertinent symbol of her cupidity, though her supporters thought otherwise. Here she declares her selfishness

I swear, by my life and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.

Other people are simply there for their usefulness. Not because there is any desire for companionship or anything like it. Rand had no use for companions. She had disciples. She was a cult leader.

It is easy to see where phrases like “socialized medicine” come from too,

Socialism may be established by force, as in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics—or by vote, as in Nazi (National Socialist) Germany. The degree of socialization may be total, as in Russia—or partial, as in England. Theoretically, the differences are superficial; practically, they are only a matter of time. The basic principle, in all cases, is the same.

The alleged goals of socialism were: the abolition of poverty, the achievement of general prosperity, progress, peace and human brotherhood. The results have been a terrifying failure—terrifying, that is, if one’s motive is men’s welfare.

Of course this presupposes that capitalism has never been responsible for countless deaths, the loss of liberties or the imposition of an authoritarian regimes that were wholly supportive of the idea of unfettered capitalism as a ‘cure’ for all ills. I am thinking here of Pinochet’s Chile.

As this article from Mother Jones suggests, the world of Rand is an upside down one. In an deliberate inversion of logic, Rand’s thesis is that the rich and powerful are the oppressed, while the poor, the vulnerable and the low-waged – whom she labelled “looters” and “moochers” – are the oppressors. It is now easier to recognize the source of the coalition’s policies in relation to those on the lowest income scales. Those who receive state welfare benefits (including those on Disability benefits) have been consistently painted as “scroungers” regardless of their circumstances. The Tory press has been at the forefront of this war against the subaltern classes by printing a drip-feed of stories about “chavs”, “dole cheats” and so on. They have acted as the Conservative Party’s unofficial information service. It is arguable that the only reason the Conservatives have adopted Rand’s philosophy is to legitimate selfishness and greed. Rand’s ideas provide and instant justification to the false premise that the poor and the unemployed are stealing money directly from their pockets through taxation.

A better world is out there.

Bibliography

Duggan, L (2003). The Twilight of Equality? Neoliberalism, Cultural Politics and the Attack on Democracy. Boston: Beacon Press

Gilbert, J (2008). Anticapitalism and Culture. Oxford: Berg

Hayek, F. A. (1983). The Road to Serfdom, London: Routledge Kegan Paul

Nietzsche, F (2008). Beyond Good and Evil. Cambridge University Press

Rand, A (1975). The Romantic Manifesto. London: Signet

Rand, A (1964). The Virtue of Selfishness. London: Signet

Filmography

Curtis, A (2003). The Trap – What Happened to our Dream of Freedom? (BBC2)

UPDATE: 30/1/11 @ 0102

Tidied up blog and made some clearer connections

UPDATE: 23/2/11 @ 1957

Made some additions to the text and did some further tidying up.

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