Tag Archives: Ludwig von Mises Institute

Young Britons For Liberty?

Whatever happened to the Young Britons Foundation? That’s the question I was hoping to answer when I entered the words into the search engine yesterday. By chance, I discovered a group calling itself ‘Young Britons for Liberty’, but who are now calling themselves the Young Chartists (yeah, I know). Readers will know that any group that either claims to be for ‘liberty’ or ‘freedom’ is, more often than not, a group of like-minded right-wingers, who believe they have a natural monopoly on those concepts. Libertarians, as they like to call themselves, tend to fall into two camps: the hardline free-market cultists (anything can be sold) and the libertines (anything can be fucked). Right-wing libertarians will usually fall into the former camp, while the LM Network, which pretends to be Marxist or even left-wing, occupies both.  The Young Chartists, who, while not being a successor organization to the YBF, share the same libertarian ideals and certainly tread the same ground.

Two years ago, I called for a 21st Century People’s Charter, the Young Chartists have done the same thing, but although they have adopted the name, the demands they make aren’t too dissimilar to the usual shopping lists knocked out by the spoilt rich brats of the British bourgeoisie.

In the ‘About’ section on their website, we find this under the heading ‘Our Struggle’ (Unser Kampf?). Forgive me for not linking directly to the site. Here is a broken link, feel free to copy and paste it into your browser’s search field.  http://peoplescharter.org/about/

The People’s Charter Foundation is a non-partisan British identitarian campaign group run by a diverse group of passionate Tory, UKIP, and other patriots. We demand for proper Brexit, and for Britain to ban Sharia law. We work closely with the Bruges Group, Gays Against Sharia, the Campaign for Independent Britain, UK Against Hate, the Bow Group, MBGA News, and Better Off Out.

Any group that goes out of its way to call itself “non-partisan” is usually the opposite. Here, without much pause for thought, the writer of this page then tells us that the Young Chartists are comprised of Tories, Kippers and “patriots”. But the list of groups they work with is informative, for here we find a real ragbag of free speech warriors, whose far-right, anti-immigration, anti-Muslim, Little Englander discourses masquerade as ‘common sense’. You’ll also notice that they describe themselves as “British identitarians”. Identity politics on the right? Really? Isn’t that the very thing, along with ‘political correctness’, the far-right most frequently tilts against? What British identitarianism is, in essence, is British nationalism that pretends to be more inclusive than its neo-fascist cousins.

Further down the page, we come to their “People’s Charter”. You will notice there is no mention of electoral reform, voting rights or the structure of Britain’s governance.

  • 1. Leave the globalist EU: a points-based migration policy, and leave the ‘single market’. Merkel’s open border experiment with fake refugees is simply intolerable;

  • 2. Government to interfere in our lives as little as possible, to be downsized: the national budget must be balanced and taxes lower;

  • 3. Stop multiculturalism: To regain our British identity, rather than be ashamed of British national flags. Ban Sharia law;

  • 4. A strong military is essential, including a tough approach on Islamism;

  • 5. Migrants to integrate into British nation-state, i.e. to require English as our core language, ban Sharia law, resist multiculturalism, and oppose political correctness;

  • 6. In the spirit of the 1838 Charter’s sixth point that was never realised, for the right to recall bad MPs;

Only once does this ‘charter’ mention the original People’s charter but only in relation to its demand to” recall bad MPs”. The rest of it is shot through with Islamophobic claptrap, libertarian mumbo-jumbo, militaristic machismo and the kind of paranoia that comes with a deep-seated suspicion of the Other.

On their ‘Beliefs’ page, we find some questions posed by themselves to themselves.

What do you think of Nazism?

We are opposed to Nazism – it is a horrid, racist ideology, which promoted radical socialism. We are capitalists. We respect the right for Israel to exist.

You’ll notice how this paragraph repeats the by now familiar ‘Nazis were really socialists (or vicariously left-wing)” slur.  This passage exists as a form of disclaimer, but it’s the way Israel is tacked onto the end of this that puzzles me. It’s almost as if it was written during a late night coke binge. Like other right-wing libertarians, they rail against figments and phantoms: cultural Marxism©, ‘political correctness’, feminism, they’re all there.

Do you support women’s rights?

We support human rights for all, including women. As an organisation opposed to cultural Marxists, we do not support feminists who push concepts such as “patriarchy theory”, because all they want is destruction of the family unit. We work closely with Liberty Belles to oppose feminism.

A picture is beginning to emerge of a group of right-wing white men, who blame feminazis (sic) for their inability to get laid. I think Wilhelm Reich wrote about this kind of thing. The Liberty Belles are an “anti-feminist” group of women, who organized a campaign, called L4PD, to support Philip Davies, the misogynist filibusterer and MP for Shipley. Hope Not Hate says:

Davies first met with members of ‘The Liberty Belles’, an anti-feminst group consisting of Elizabeth Hobson, Natoya Raymond, Paula Wright, Catherine Kitsis and Belinda Brown, at the International Conference on Men’s Issues in London in July 2016. Davies gave a talk at the event, which was organised the men’s rights activist (MRA) group, Justice for Men and Boys, and promoted by now-disgraced former Breitbart figurehead, Milo Yiannopolous.

In March 2017 the Liberty Belles launched the sub-campaign L4PD, which describes itself as “a group of ladies who support Philip’s campaign to infiltrate the Women and Equalities Committee, change the name and make it truly work for equality for all as well as his championing of men’s issues.”

Human rights? Who needs those? It’s men’s rights we want! Women who hate feminists? What next? Black people who want to be re-enslaved? Libertarians don’t mind slavery. Just ask any ‘scholar’ from the Ludwig von Mises Institute.

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The director of the Young Chartists is Luke Nash-Jones (pictured), who was recently one of the subjects of this Vice article, which tells us he’s the chair of the Birkbeck Conservative Association. So not at all “non-partisan”, then. Nash-Jones, like the rest of those interviewed, lays the victimhood on with a shovel JCB .  He’s also involved in a group calling itself Make Britain Great Again. Here he repeats the usual canards of the right in relation to a perceived leftist indoctrination in Higher Education.

Research shows that most university professors are left-wing, and their lectures reflect that. Moreover, student unions are basically Marxist madrasas which use Orwellian “no platforming” policies to silence original thought, because their emotion-driven positions cannot stand up to fact-based, logic-driven argument. The manager of our student union is actually on the Labour Party payroll, and non-student trade union staff dominate freshers entrance with stalls.

Remember if you argue for tolerance, in the mind of the libertarian, that’s being “emotional”. This is an idea that has come from the American right, who will dismiss any argument coming from the left (or liberals) as “emotional”. I saw it a lot in 2001 – 3 on Delphi Forums where hard right types would routinely dismiss any argument they couldn’t handle as ’emotional’. But what this specious claim to moral and intellectual superiority demonstrates is the lack of humanity on the libertarian side. Perhaps Nash-Jones is telling us something about his own character? What he seems to be forgetting is that one has a right to their opinions, but not the facts. If his “fact-based logic-driven arguments” are like the quote above, then he needs to construct better arguments (the YBF used to organise workshops in debating skills that would teach trainees how to talk over their interlocutors and use character assassination instead of arguments). Indeed, the “research” he talks about comes from the Adam Smith Institute, which is hardly a source of peer-reviewed evidence. Most of the student unions I’ve been to are full of undergraduates getting tanked up. Madrasas, my arse. But what qualifies as “original thought”? A visceral hatred of the left? Misogyny expressed as an irrational hatred of feminism? Mistrust of foreigners? Hatred of Islam? Those are hardly the products of original thinking.

He adds:

As President of the Conservative Association, after I requested a debate with the Labour Society president, in the style of the mayoral hustings, I received threats of violence from student union officers, including in writing, a threat to “destroy” the office I work at and verbal threats to kill me. The officer who made this threat resigned after I threatened legal action against the student union. I was marched off campus by university staff for “threatening the safe space” after I set up the pre-approved Conservative stand, with a Union Jack backdrop. Labour students, who clearly display no appreciation of free speech promoted by J.S. Mill, tore up posters and burst the Conservative Party branded balloons.

I just wonder what kind of language Nash-Jones used in his request? I get the feeling there’s more to this story than meets the eye.  You will also note how he drags the name of John Stuart Mill into his diatribe. “Free speech? That’s where I say what I want and you shut the fuck up”. I’m sure that isn’t what Mill had in mind.

When you go to Nash-Jones’s Twitter page, you’re greeted with the following message.

This account’s Tweets are protected.

Only confirmed followers have access to @lukenashjones‘s Tweets and complete profile. Click the “Follow” button to send a follow request.

Free speech, eh?

Back to the website and at the bottom of ‘The Team’ page, we find a list of patrons. Do you recognize anyone?

  • Donal Blaney, Chief Executive of Margaret Thatcher Centre

  • Anthony Vander Elst, Founder of the Selsdon Group

  • Vít Jedlička, President of Liberland

  • Ian Geldard, Former Researcher for Institute for the Study of Terrorism

  • Peter Whittle AM, Founder of the New Culture Future, UKIP Deputy Leader

There’s our old friend, Donal Blaney, late of the YBF and now apparently ensconced as Chief Executive of the Margaret Thatcher Centre, even though he isn’t listed on the site. Regular readers will know that the Selsdon Group is a hard right free market cult that was formed in 1973. Their honourable president is John Redwood.  But who is Vít Jedlička and what and where is “Liberland”? The Independent says:

Vit Jedlicka, a member of the Conservative Party of Free Citizens, is the self-appointed president of “Liberland,” a 7sq km “country” (only the Vatican and Monaco are smaller) where taxes are optional and there is no military.

Okay, so where is it?

It is situated on the banks of the Danube between Serbia and Croatia in an unclaimed no-man’s land, or terra nullius territory, meaning that neither country has ever held full sovereignty over the area.

So it’s some kind of libertarian utopia? Attempts at creating libertarian paradises – nightwatchman states or whatever you want to call them – have ended badly- though not for the oligarchs who benefit from the chaos. Honduras anyone? Of course, the libertarians themselves, when presented with the evidence, deny Honduras was run as a nightwatchman state.  A libertarian experiment in Chile ended in acrimonious failure. Indeed, not being the kind of people to accept responsibility, they’re more likely to claim these experiments have failed because of ‘socialism’ or even ‘feminism’.

In fact, things aren’t going too well for Liberland. A year after its founding, it has no citizens.

Thanks to the efforts of the Croatian border police, Liberland has still technically not got a single inhabitant, and its 7 sq km of boggy wetlands boast just one dilapidated building, an abandoned hunting lodge.

GQ magazine gleefully mocked them as “Just a bunch of white guys on a tiny island”.

The Young Chartists, YBFL or whatever they’re calling themselves, has planned a “Last Day of Silence” for 23 September, which will be…

…a silent and powerful march through the London streets by all those who oppose terrorist extremism, the implementation of Sharia (FGM), and Islamist grooming gangs and terrorism. (Genuine racists NOT welcome.)

Their Facebook events page tells us that they want to “stand up to grooming gangs and Islamic terror” (sic).  So far, only 45 are going and 128 are “interested”.  Such is their ignorance and bigotry that Sharia (Law) is deliberately conflated with female genital mutilation (FGM),  despite the fact that the practice crosses religious and ethnic boundaries, and is still practised by white fundamentalist Christians in the United States (yes). In Britain, it was seen as a remedy for female masturbation during the late 19th century and early 20th century. In the United States, the practice is more widespread than first thought with more women coming forward to tell their story. Naturally, the far-right and their libertarian buddies will have their fingers in their ears.

In the below the line comments, there’s a message of support from someone claiming to represent Britain First.

Birds of a feather, so to speak. It should surprise no one that, in spite of their protestations, there has always been a close relationship between right-wing libertarians and fascism/right-wing authoritarianism. For example, Marinetti’s Futurist Party merged with Mussolini’s fascists and, more recently, libertarians have praised Pinochet’s so-called ‘Chilean Miracle’. The weeping Nazi, Christopher Cantwell was a libertarian before he became a neo-Nazi.

I almost forgot: the YBF is no more. The site link is dead. Sadly, the same cannot be said for the YBFL or any of its fellow travellers.

Reference

Reich, W., & Carfagno, V. R. (1970). The mass psychology of fascism (p. 1520). New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux. Continue reading

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Filed under Ideologies, right-wing libertarians

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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Filed under 20th century, Conservative Party, Cultism, economic illiteracy, Economics, Government & politics, Growth, History, History & Memory, laissez faire capitalism, Let's Talk About, Media, Neoliberalism, propaganda, Spiv capitalism, Tory press

Telegraph Comment of the Week (#26)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dim Blame

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

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

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

Related blog

Life on Hannan World (Part 8)

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Filed under Ideologies, Media, Racism, Telegraph Comment of the Week, Tory press

Life on Hannan World (Part 8)

On Sunday, the Lyin’ King claimed that it was right for British slaveowners to have been compensated millions of pounds for the loss of their slaves. Whereas the victims of this crime – the slaves themselves, got nothing. he admits this was bad but his admission is uttered through gritted teeth.

As one would expect for a Telegraph blog about ‘race’ and slavery, this piece prompts the usual chorus of racist voices to slap Hannan on the back and shout “Bravo”!

Was it immoral to compensate slave-owners at the time of emancipation? That is the implication of most of the media comment that has followed the publication of a study of the records by UCL, showing that several prominent British families received vast cash payments. The Independent on Sunday calls it ‘Britain’s colonial shame’. Trevor Philips thinks it ‘the most profound injustice that probably you can identify anywhere in this country’s history’.

The very mention of Trevor Philips is guaranteed to get his readers frothing at the mouth.  Hannan carries a torch for the British Empire and like so many of his fellow Tories and UKippers, he believes that the only way forward for Britain is to return to its brutal past. He continues,

I can’t for the life of me see why. The fact that people were prepared to pay to abolish the monstrosity of slavery is surely a cause for satisfaction rather than shame. It is one thing to say, in the abstract, ‘slavery is a bad idea’; quite another to say, ‘slavery is so wicked that I am prepared to make a personal sacrifice to help do away with it’.

Slave-owners were compensated because the government were members of the same social class. It had nothing to do with heading off a potential revolt. White slave-owners were seen as superior to black slaves. It’s as simple as that.

The general thrust of his argument is supportive of the Ludwig von Mises Institute’s (LvMI) and  Ron Paul’s claim that the US Civil War needn’t have happened if the Federal government had compensated slaveowners in the aftermath of emancipation.

Here he  sweeps aside the US’s unique brand of chattel slavery and tells us that,

Although slavery sometimes had an ethnic basis, it was no great respecter of race. Muslim slavers traded in Christians: Georgians, Circassians, Armenians and others. Christians, for their part, enslaved Moors: as late as the sixteenth century, hundreds of thousands of Muslim slaves toiled on Spanish plantations. On the eve of the American civil war, there were 3,000 black slave-owners in the United States.

Hannan forgets that slavery – as practised by other groups – did not use race as the basis for enslaving others. In many cases, people were enslaved by conquering armies: they were not seen as chattel. Chattel slavery was instituted in the late 17th century when the notion of race was first mooted and Africans were mainly seen as subhuman and only fit for manual labour. Indeed, this idea of racial supremacy was later given a Biblical justification in the shape of the so-called Curse of Ham.

Hannan mentions the “3,000 black slaveowners” in the United States but doesn’t explain why black people held slaves. Instead, he uses this fact as a deflectionary tactic that has it origins in the LvMI’s historical revisionism of the American Civil War.  Those “black slave-owners” that he talks about were mainly mixed race. Furthermore, the vast majority of those black slave-owners had purchased slaves with the intention of setting them free. But free blacks were also considered a threat to the socio-ethnic order and were often suspected of harbouring fugitive slaves – this gets no mention. We must also remember that the so-called “One-Drop Rule” posited that if anyone had any degree of mixed ancestry, they were considered to be black in the eyes of the law. While there were free blacks, these people did not enjoy the same rights as whites. There is no mention of this either, nor is there any mention of the Black Codes and Jim Crow laws that were passed in many states.

Robert Higgs of the LvMI attempts to defend the institution of slavery and tells us that slavery is “natural”.  Here’s a taste of his article,

Slavery is natural. People differ, and we must expect that those who are superior in a certain way — for example, in intelligence, morality, knowledge, technological prowess, or capacity for fighting — will make themselves the masters of those who are inferior in this regard.

The LvMI has been at the intellectual forefront of the neo-Confederate movement for a number of years. It denies that it is racist and revisionist. It tries to claim that the American Civil War was fought solely over the issue of tariffs and it defends the institution of slavery. Hannan’s speeches, blogs and articles are regularly featured on the LvMI website.

Hannan is a fan of self-styled libertarian, Ron Paul, who has previously been accused of racism and is a supporter of the neo-Confederate movement. Casey Gane-McCalla of Newsone  says,

Ron Paul is a neo-Confederate, and proud member of the Ludwig Von Mises Institute, which has been labeled as a neo-Confederate organization. In the video he claims that the North should have paid to buy slaves from southern slave owners to avoid the war, rather than the South renouncing slavery. Paul also fails to bring up the fact that it was the South that started the war by attacking the North in 1861.

Ron Paul was also was the only member of congress to vote against honoring the Civil Rights Act Of 1964 on its 40th anniversary in 2004. Paul would also claim that he wouldn’t have voted for it at the time, putting him on the side of the racists in both the fight against slavery and the fight against Jim Crow segregation, the two defining struggles of Black people in America.

Hannan describes Paul as “principled” but here’s a video of Paul speaking to the LvMI with the Stars and Bars draped in the background.

As if to echo Paul’s position, Hannan tells us,

Instead, a terrible war was fought, whose legacy of racial bitterness endured for another century and more. Yet, when Ron Paul suggested that it might have been better for everyone had the Americans adopted the British approach, buying out the slave-owners peacefully, he was pilloried.

Yet, there is no evidence to support the claim that there would have been a civil war in Britain had British slave-owners not been compensated for the loss of their ‘property’.  As is often the case with right-wing libertarians, racism is rationalized by using plausible-sounding economic terminology. This has the effect of masking the racism and making it more acceptable to those people who do not wish to be seen as racist. Now they can feel vindicated. They can tell all and sundry that the American Civil War was a “tariff war” and that Civil Rights legislation was wrong because it denied racist diner-owners of the right to refuse service to those whom they believed to be inferior. Remember, if you’re a ‘libertarian’ nothing must get in the way of making a profit.

Hannan may not consider himself to be a racist but he flirts with those whose ideas about difference mark them out as racist. Ron Paul may also deny that he is a racist and a homophobe but the evidence speaks for itself.

Meanwhile the practise of slavery continues in Mauritania, Mali, Niger and Chad. I wonder if Hannan and Paul would demand compensation for those slave-owners if they were forced to relinquish their slaves? I very much doubt it.

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Filed under 19th century, History, History & Memory, Media, Tory press

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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Filed under Cultism, Economics

Ron Paul and “Austrian Economics”

Ron Paul, the self-styled libertarian,  has declared that we’re all Austrians now.

It was a particular strain of Austrian economics that helped to create the global economic situation we’re in today and yet, Paul wants more of the same. But his love of “Austrian Economics”  goes far beyond the black and white world of so-called free-market economics.

The variety of Austrian economics that we are most concerned with here is not the Hayekian strain (he digs Hayek too) but the Misean strain as promoted by Lew Rockwell and the Ludwig von Mises Institute, the neo-Confederate think-tank that rationalizes the Civil War as merely an unnecessary “tariff war” and declares the Emancipation Proclamation and all the legislation that stems from it to be an abomination. Paul thinks slaveowners were cheated out of their right to own slaves by the cruel North. He also believes that the Civil Rights Act stripped away a person’s freedom to deny service to someone on the grounds of their skin colour. It’s all about “state’s rights”, see?

There’s a good story from Paul Rosenberg  on the Al-Jazeera site here.

So when Paul talks about Austrian Economics, he does so safe in the knowledge that most Americans have no idea what he’s talking about. Many people find his brand of libertarianism attractive and can’t help but feel drawn to it. That’s understandable.  It’s a little like finding yourself humming along to a catchy pop tune but don’t know the name of the song or the person who is singing it.

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Filed under Economics, laissez faire capitalism, neoliberalism, United States, US Presidential Election 2012

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