Tag Archives: right-wing libertarians

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

The Undignifed Response To The Grenfell Tower Fire From Britain’s Right

The terrible fire at Grenfell Tower in Notting Dale last week in which scores, possibly hundreds, of people died, has prompted rather peculiar knee jerk reactions from Britain’s right-wing commentators and their followers. The most popular complaint among them is “the left has politicized this tragedy”. This is an interesting accusation, given the fact housing is a political issue, and for the fact the claim reveals a general ignorance of the word ‘politic(s)’. But the accusation is also indicative of a state of mind that blinds a person to empathy, compassion, sympathy and all the things that make us human; the very things that separate us from the machines. We do not ‘process’ feelings; we reflect, we meditate and we think about them; perhaps we act on them individually and collectively. That’s politics. Individual organs within our bodies (it’s not a ‘wonderful’ machine) may process nutrients but as organisms, we are more than the sum total of our physical processes. A point missed by those, like the Ayn Rand cultists, who would convince us that we are nothing more than robots made of flesh.

Catherine Itzin (1980), in her excellent book about British political theatre, Stages In The Revolution, argued “Everything is political; all life is political”. Second wave feminists always said “The personal is political”. We should also remind ourselves that word ‘politics’ is derived from ‘polis’ the Ancient Greek word for city; a place with a high concentration of citizens . In his Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle used the word politikos to describe the ‘affairs of the citizens’. In this form it can mean anything from an individual’s preferences and judgements, or the discourses that groups of people create or circulate among themselves.  Politics is not limited to the practices of professional politicians and their associates in the press.

Merriam Webster offers these definitions of the word ‘politics’.

  1. 1a :  the art or science of government b :  the art or science concerned with guiding or influencing governmental policy c :  the art or science concerned with winning and holding control over a government

  2. 2:  political actions, practices, or policies

  3. 3a :  political affairs or business; especially :  competition between competing interest groups or individuals for power and leadership (as in a government)b :  political life especially as a principal activity or profession c :  political activities characterized by artful and often dishonest practices

  4. 4:  the political opinions or sympathies of a person

  5. 5a :  the total complex of relations between people living in society b :  relations or conduct in a particular area of experience especially as seen or dealt with from a political point of view office politics ethnic politics

Like it or not, housing is a political issue and to accuse a group or a person of “politicizing the tragedy” misses this point – especially when the local authority’s response to the Grenfell blaze was so woeful. This was a preventable tragedy and to voice that fact is political and rightly so.

When Jeremy Corbyn told the media that empty homes in the borough should be requisitioned to temporarily house Glenfell survivors, the howls of outrage were as predictable as they were hysterical.  These self-appointed moral guardians would tell us they are educated, but their comprehension of written and spoken English was noticeably lacking in their discourses.  According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a requisition is a:

NOUN

  • An official order laying claim to the use of property or materials.

    ‘I had to make various requisitions for staff and accommodation’
    1. 1.1 A formal written demand that something should be performed or put into operation.
      ‘requisitions for an Extraordinary General Meeting must state the business to be transacted’
    2. 1.2 Law A demand to the vendor of a property for the official search relating to the title.
    3. 1.3 mass noun The appropriation of goods for military or public use.
      ‘requisition of grain at the point of a gun proved a novel experience for the peasantr

The word that many right-wingers reached for instead of requisition was confiscation: a completely different word, which is defined as:

NOUN

mass noun

  • The action of taking or seizing someone’s property with authority; seizure.

    ‘a court ordered the confiscation of her property’

There it is. It isn’t that they misheard the word. Oh no. They heard what they wanted to hear: “millionaires’ properties should be confiscated to house displaced [but filthy] working class people from our neighbourhood[that we’d rather not see]”.

According to Helmet Head, the oligarchs who have bought properties in Kensington and Chelsea and left them empty, are entitled to special privileges by dint of their bloated bank accounts and their greed (here, the billionaire is revered as a living god). Property ownership is apparently an inalienable ‘human right’ that trumps the right to life, freedom of expression and so on.

Hysteria and hyperbole. First, legislation would have to be introduced for this to occur and second, homes were requisitioned by the government order during the First and Second World Wars. Requisitioning properties in times of emergency is nothing new and the properties are always returned to their owners. This is an emergency.

The Lyin’ King, in his column for CapX, effectively dodges the question of possible corporate manslaughter or managerial incompetence by adopting a morally high, but ultimately questionable, position of disinterest. He opens in his typically dishonest fashion by linking Grenfell Tower to a hoax call. It’s pretty despicable.

Do you remember the tragic story of Jacintha Saldanha? You don’t? It was huge at the time. Jacintha was a nurse at the hospital where the Duchess of Cambridge gave birth to her first child. She got a hoax call from two Australian radio presenters pretending to be the Queen and the Prince of Wales, and put it through to the relevant ward nurse. When the news broke, Jacintha, who had had a history of depression, committed suicide by hanging, leaving two teenage children.

He then links the genuine concerns of the residents and neighbours and the glacially sluggish response from RB Kensington and Chelsea’s leadership to scapegoating  innocent parties. I draw your attention to the final sentence, because it is most revealing.

We are still at that stage in the aftermath of the Grenfell horror. Obviously, we need to find out what went wrong, and assess whether other places are at risk. If there is evidence of criminal negligence, of course that negligence should be punished. But the discussion over the past two days has gone well beyond these things. The country is bellowing for a scapegoat big enough and monstrous enough to bear responsibility for such an outrage. The idea of a tragic accident simply won’t do.

Yes, this is tragic. That’s stating the bleedin’ obvious but an accident? How does Dan, for all his moralizing and expensive education, know this was an “accident”? Moreover, by referring to Grenfell as a “tragic accident”, he is making his own political judgement of the disaster.

But what about the contributing factors?  Has Dan not read the Grenfell Action Group blog?  Does he think that residents shouldn’t have voiced their concerns at the  substandard quality of the £10 million refurbishment, or the mysterious power surges? Does he think that, given their circumstances as renters, they have no right to complain? Those who rent their homes as opposed to those who buy their, are often seen by the property-owning classes, as second class citizens. 

Like our pre-modern ancestors, we have an innate sense that, for such a horrifying event to have happened, there must have been great wickedness at work. Like them, we disagree as to who was responsible for the wickedness. Usually, though, just as they did, we blame whomever we already happened not to like. Glancing at this morning’s newspapers, I see that the Guardian blames inequality, the Mail blames eco-regulations, the Express blames EU rules and the Mirror blames the Tories. Simon Jenkins, that champion of harmonious and well-proportioned architecture, blames tower-blocks. Owen Jones, my favourite radical, blames racketeering landlords. For all I know, one or more of these villains may indeed be at fault; but, for now, it is mainly guesswork.

 A massive point has been missed.

Here, Hannan tells his readers to give money and to sympathize with the victims, while at the same he presumes to speak for the residents and their suffering. Just wow.

The media always follow the same course on these occasions. Having initially blamed their favourite bêtes noires, they will move on to the victims and survivors, asking them what should be done. Which brings me to a very hard thing that needs saying. The victims deserve our utmost sympathy as well as our practical help. Please do give, if you haven’t already, to one of the appeals. But bereaved relatives have no particular authority when it comes to finding the correct prescriptions. We should not expect policy ideas from people in shock, and demanding them is not just a form of journalistic grandstanding; it is also deeply unfair to the victims it purports to elevate.

Emotions are human, and grief and suffering are expressed in individual ways. Money is not the only answer; it is only a sticking plaster. Long term needs must be considered, namely the residents’ right to live in their neighbourhood in safety.

Hannan et al will always deny the central issue of housing provision and potential avoidability of this disaster is political issue, but this view is as absurd as it is dangerous. It smacks of  a wilful disinterest that is wholly based upon class privilege. Their underlying disgust for, not only council tenants, but the working class as a social formation, bobs up from behind the cover of their tiresome and empty platitudes, and is thus visible for all to see. Charity, for them is the answer, not a proposal to deal with the structural inequalities that have blighted this country for generations, but philanthropy and the guiding hand of paternalism is offered to head off any real demands for meaningful social, political, cultural and economic settlement. This is disgust in action.

Disgust figures prominently in the tweets of CapX’s  Iain Martin, who subjects last week’s protests outside Kensington Town Hall, to a volley of sneers, paranoia and misinterpretations. In this tweet, he slyly insinuates the residents – who should be meek; content in their social condition – are being led astray by members of the much depleted Socialist Workers’ Party.

But even if left-wing parties are marching in solidarity with the residents and a few SWP placards (which are on every fucking march and demo, by the way.  It doesn’t mean that everyone is a fucking member) are seen, does this necessarily prove anything? Is this necessarily the SWP in another bandwagon-jumping exercise? Not really.  Any human would have been appalled at what happened to those poor unfortunate people. Would this country’s right-wing have taken up the cause of those who lost their homes at Grenfell Tower by marching in solidarity with them? It’s highly unlikely.  Well, no, actually.  They only protest when their idea of freedom is challenged or when it’s otherwise not being met on their terms. Even then, such events are poorly-attended.

In this tweet to Owen Jones, Martin insists that the residents, whom he describes as a “mob”, aren’t capable of spontaneous collective agency but are being led astray by the darkest of forces. Yes, it’s the SWP again, cast here as “tin pot revolutionaries”.

Beneath Martin’s sneers burns a fierce class hatred that is bolstered by his sense of class entitlement, which is common to all free market cultists.  Indeed, it speaks volumes when I say that I have yet to meet a working class right-wing libertarian. I don’t think they exist. Anarchists, yes. Libertarians, no.

Brendan O’Neill claims to be a man of the left, a Marxist even, but this claim has always been empty. He’s a right-wing libertarian-contrarian, who spends his days shouting about the ‘middle class left’ and views the working class as a homogeneous mass that is ignorant, easily led and certainly not left-wing. In his article for Spiked Online, he demands that Labour, the left or whoever, stop “exploiting the dead of Grenfell Tower”. His article ploughs roughly the same furrow as the Lyin’ King’s effort but is no less wilfully ignorant in its tone and manner. We get to his ideological spin at the bottom of the piece:

‘But the Grenfell disaster is political’, the people exploiting it cry, somewhat defensively. And they’re right. It is. Social housing and gentrification and the eco-approved application of cladding to tower blocks are political issues, or at least public issues, and we should talk about them. But these people aren’t treating Grenfell as political; they’re treating it as party political. They’re using it to demean Toryism as evil, and big up Corbyn as the leader Britain needs right now. He cares, you see, unlike them. He is Good, they are Bad. This isn’t politics – this is a culture war, where the horrors experienced by the working classes of North Kensington are used to underpin the binary moralism of a Corbynista worldview of the right as wicked and the left as decent. They are building their political movement on the corpses of the poor, and no amount of radical-sounding lingo can cover up just how cynical, opportunistic and depraved that is.

O’Neill uses the Grenfell Disaster to attack Corbyn. It’s intellectually dishonest and it’s shabby. His screed reveals his rather slippery view of his politics: the right is “wicked” and the left is “decent” he moans. But this is no more than a warped perception of Corbyn’s very human response to the disaster. I don’t recall Bruvver Bren making any demands on behalf of the residents or, indeed, meeting them face-to-face. Can you? O’Neill takes Murdoch’s shilling, so his job is to produce unimaginative crap like this.

Hypocrisy, thy name is Brendan O’Neill.

For the likes of Toby Young, Dan Hannan, and Iain Martin, the working class should simply put up with their condition because, so the neoliberal argument goes, they made ‘poor life choices’. If they burn to death in a ‘tragic accident’ then one must remain calm and accept the fact that politics is something that is practised by, and reserved for, professionals like Hannan, a man who takes a salary from the European Union, but who has worked to destroy the very institution from which he has benefited enormously.

Since the days of Thatcher, right-leaning middle class types have always believed in the notion that the working class can simply ‘pull themselves up by their bootstraps’ and be like them. The trouble is, the working class cannot be like them because, unlike them, they weren’t born into privilege. They literally cannot afford to be right-wing libertarians or Tories.

Reference/further reading

Bourdieu, P. (2003). Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste, London: Routledge.

De Certeau, M (1988). The Practice of Everyday Life. London: University of California Press.

Fanon, F. (1986). Black Skin, White Masks. London: Pluto Press.

Harvey, D. (2007). “Neoliberalism as creative destruction”. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 610(1), pp 21-44.

Itzin, C. (1980). Stages in the revolution: political theatre in Britain since 1968. London: Eyre Metheun.

Rowe, C. J., & Broadie, S. (2002). Nicomachean ethics. Oxford University Press.

 

 

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Filed under London, Media, Murdoch press, propaganda

Let’s Talk About: Philip Davies And, Er, Equality?

We’ve had moments like these before, dear reader.  You know the ones. Like the time when Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize,  prompting Tom Lehrer to wryly declare satire “obsolete”?  Well, today is one of those of days.  Now take a deep breath.  Are you ready? Philip ‘Dismal’ Davies, the Tory member for Shipley and flatmate of Esther McVey, has been elected unopposed (sic) to the Commons  Committee on Women and Equality.  No, you didn’t misread that. A man who is opposed to equality has been elected unopposed (sic) to a committee on equality.  Is that a postmodern turn or what?

So who is Philip Davies? Well, he’s on the  hard right of the Conservative Party but he’d call himself a ‘libertarian’.  He’s one of those libertarians who denies freedom to others.  A lot of them do it.   Since entering the Commons in 2005, Dismal Davies has  made it his mission to support the interests of the powerful over the weak.  In fact, when it comes to those most in need, you’ll always find Dismal in the Commons filibustering a bill that’s designed to protect them.

As a defender of personal freedoms (freedom from poverty or disease excepted), Dismal was once the Parliamentary spokesman for the equally dismal, but now thankfully defunct, Campaign Against Political Correctness. In this role, he bombarded the Equality and Human Rights Commission with a series of trolling letters asking silly questions on topics like blacking up (sic). The Guardian reported:

Davies regularly addresses Phillips as Sir Trevor, leading the EHRC chair to eventually add a handwritten note to one reply: “Thank you for the ‘knighthood’ but HM has – probably rightly – never extended that honour to me!!”

With an obvious track record in attacking feminism and spitting in the faces of the disadvantaged, The Cat wonders how Dismal’s presence on the committee can be anything but disruptive.  More importantly, how was he elected unopposed in the first place?  That says a lot about our democracy.  Doesn’t it?

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Filed under Government & politics, Let's Talk About

Tories, Ayn Rand and Other Things

The current Tory regime – known at Nowhere Towers as the Simulated Thatcher Government (STG) – is fixated with shrinking the state. They don’t even try to deny it. If Thatcher herself “believed” in Hayek’s Constitution of Liberty, then today’s Tory government is inspired by Ayn Rand’s terrible prose. By the way, it’s widely believed that Thatcher hadn’t actually read any Hayek and her knowledge of his ideas were mediated to her by the child abuser, Sir Keith Joseph and former communist, Sir Alfred Sherman.

Four years ago, I spotted, what I’d considered to be, traces of Rand’s ‘philosophy’, “Objectivism”, contained in the 2010 Conservative election manifesto.  Daniel Hannan and Douglas Carswell (now a UKIP MP) wrote a book called The Plan: Twelve Months To Renew Britain. According to the pair, their book was inspired by Objectivism. They gleefully told their readers that some of their ideas had been adopted by Cameron and co. The book itself offers unsourced graphs and a lot of badly thought out remedies for a series of problems that the authors claim are caused by the state. One stand out line from the book is “the state is running at capacity” (Carswell and Hannan, 2008: 18). Does the state have a capacity? Is there a stated “capacity” for the state or is that just an empty rhetorical device? It’s a curious line to be sure. The Plan is essentially a manifesto for a nightwatchman state. Think of a land with no infrastructure, rampant crime and endemic corruption and you’re halfway there.

Rand’s influence can be heard in the language of government ministers: the insistence on “hard work” and the frequent mention of the somewhat vague concept of the “wealth creator” versus the scroungers and layabouts, resonates with the language in any one of Rand’s turgid novels, which cast the rich as downtrodden heroes and pits them against their nemesis: the moochers and looters – the latter being a shorthand for the enemies of unbridled cupidity. A couple of years ago, Bozza wrote an article for The Torygraph which claimed the rich were an “oppressed minority”.

But there is one minority that I still behold with a benign bewilderment, and that is the very, very rich. I mean people who have so much money they can fly by private jet, and who have gin palaces moored in Puerto Banus, and who give their kids McLaren supercars for their 18th birthdays and scour the pages of the FT’s “How to Spend It” magazine for jewel-encrusted Cartier collars for their dogs.

I am thinking of the type of people who never wear the same shirt twice, even though they shop in Jermyn Street, and who have other people almost everywhere to do their bidding: people to drive their cars and people to pick up their socks and people to rub their temples with eau de cologne and people to bid for the Munch etching at Christie’s.

From this rambling mess it’s possible to deduce that Bozza has at least been exposed to Rand’s trashy philosophy and has internalised its central premise that anyone who doesn’t create “wealth” is a leech. We must slap the rich on the backs, admire the size of their enormous wads and tell them how marvellous they are! What! According to this 2014 Guardian article by Martin Kettle, Sajid Javid (aka Uncle Fester) is also a Rand admirer. Well, blow me down! Peter Hoskin on Conservative Home writes:

Javid explained that this isn’t his favourite movie, but it is the most important to him. He first watched it on television in 1981, aged 12, and even then it struck him as “a film that was articulating what I felt”. From there, he soon read the book, wore out a VHS copy of the film, and brought his enthusiasm for all things Fountainhead with him to university. He even admitted, with a self-deprecating grin, that “I read the courtroom scene to my future wife!”

Uncle Fester’s lack of humanity certainly comes across very strongly in his media appearances, so it comes as no surprise that he would read Rand’s dull prose to his future wife. If I were his other half, I’d be thinking “Why are you reading me this shit? Do you hate me that much”?

The continued destruction of the welfare state; the attacks on the poor and disabled and the emphasis on the slippery concept of “aspiration” are clear examples of Rand’s influence on the STG’s social and economic policies. We can add to this, the compulsion to control all forms of discourse, and their tendency to render all facets of everyday life into neoliberal economisms. This can be seen in the way in which the STG and its allies in the press insist that the main opposition party adheres to the government’s doctrine of presumed fiscal rectitude, thus serving to illustrate not just their desire to shrink the state but to create an authoritarian one-party state as well. Why? Because the Tories despise opposition even if they claim otherwise. If they must deal with an opposition, it is better to deal with one that goes on the defensive every time false accusations are levelled at them.

If the Labour leadership’s rhetoric and policy positions look little different to those of the government, then you’re not really being offered a proper choice at the ballot box. You’re being offered a choice between Coke and Pepsi. Life’s a bitch. Now shut up and eat your shit sandwich.

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Libertarians and nostalgia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Life on Hannan World (Part 10)

One of these days, Dan Hannan will write a blog with the title “Eurosceptics Make Better Lovers” or perhaps “Eurosceptics do it 5 times a night”.  Sometime back in 20o7, the Lyin’ King claimed that “Euro-sceptics make dazzling linguists”. Oh, how I laughed.

Today’s blog is just a silly and has the eye-catching headline “It’s an odd thing, but Euro-enthusiasts are often awkward around foreigners”. Yeah, I laughed at it too. At the top of the blog is a photo of Reagan and Thatcher and I’m not sure what he’s trying to say with this image. It appears to be unrelated.

Hannan has the finest education that money can buy and he still manages to write drivel like this:

Here’s a thing I’ve noticed. Eurosceptics are often better at socialising with people from other countries than are Euro-enthusiasts. It’s not a hard-and-fast rule, obviously, and there are plenty of exceptions. Nor is there any way to measure the phenomenon scientifically. Still, I can’t help remarking on the difference.

Really? How about you show us your field notes? Notice how he offers us the disclaimer “It’s not a hard-and-fast rule, obviously, and there are plenty of exceptions. Nor is there any way to measure the phenomenon scientifically”. If that’s the case, then why bother telling us this? He knows he’s bullshitter and he wants to ‘cover his back’ – so to speak.

In blogs like this, the Lyin’ King wants to reassure himself  and his ilk that he and they are better than those who take an opposing position. Here’s the opener:

Back in the palaeo-federalist EPP, MEPs worked together well enough on committees, but usually dined with their own compatriots (except when the dinner was organised, and paid for, by a lobbyist). Our current bloc, the Euro-realist ECR, is the scene of far more cross-border fraternising. Indeed, ours has become the first Group to have adopted (in practice rather than in theory) a single language. Where Continental Euro-federalists often insist on interpretation, Eurosceptics are almost always happy to speak English. The equivalent is true of Britons: our most determined Euro-zealots tend to have atrocious language skills.

You’ve lost me, Danny. What on earth are you talking about? He continues:

These thoughts are prompted by a couple of days spent in the enjoyable company of the European Young Conservatives at their Freedom Summit. There were around 160 people present from 37 countries, from Portugal to Finland, from Iceland to Turkey. They represented mainstream Right-of-Centre parties, were generally in their early or mid-twenties, and had a refreshing belief in liberty, enterprise and patriotism. In accordance with good free-market principles, all had paid to be there.

Ah, the supposedly “Right-of-Centre parties” that are united in their disgust of all things EU, yet are quite happy to take their salaries from the institution they claim to despise. Hypocrisy? Oh yes.

I couldn’t help feelng that they were having a much better time than their equivalents do at taxpayer-funded events run by Euro-federalists. One of the speakers, a London Assemblyman and former soldier called James Cleverly, light-heartedly told delegates to have more sex, on grounds that “we mustn’t let the Left outbreed us” – and I’m pretty certain that some of the young people took him at his word. (Attendees ran the full spectrum from libertarian to conservative.)

Ha ha! Very funny. “The Left” is outbreeding “us”. Nothing like a nice reductionistic narrative that is reduced even further to the act of sexual congress. Then at the end of the paragraph, Hannan tells us that the “Attendees ran the full spectrum from libertarian to conservative”. “Libertarians”, huh? More like grown-up men who haven’t quite managed to grow up.

I’m going to skip the next paragraph, because this one is just priceless:

To put it another way, Eurosceptics know that patriotism is not chauvinism. They cheer the patriotism, and cherish the liberty, of other countries. Rather than tiptoeing around the things that make people different, they delight in them. All of which makes for easier relations.

“Patriotism is not chauvinism”? Come again? Notice how the Lyin’ Kings links the word “patriotism” to “liberty” as though these things were analogous. They aren’t, of course.

The final paragraph tells us:

By the way, the Freedom Summit is now an annual event, held in Cambridge every September. And there are plenty more EYC conferences, events and training weekends all over the continent. If you’re under 30, Centre-Right and in Europe, do get involved.

Hilarious. These pencil-necked, chinless wonders seriously believe that they have a monopoly on the word “freedom”. Of course, their concept of freedom is your slavery.

Next week, Dan will explain why Euro-sceptics write better poetry. I can’t wait.

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UKIP: elitism, libertarianism, anti-intellectualism and contradictions

Ever since last Friday’s county council election results tumbled in, the Kippers have been crowing. Emboldened, too, by the BBC’s rather one-sided coverage their party, UKIP supporters have taken to social media in their droves to spout their anti-intellectual bullshit and hurl abuse at anyone who doesn’t share their belief that Nigel Farage is Britain’s political messiah. The BBC ought to know better: UKIP doesn’t have a single Westminster MP, while The Green Party not only has an MP, it also has a large number of local councillors and members on the Greater London Assembly (The Green have 2 AMs and UKIP has none). It also has representation in the Scottish Parliament (The Greens have 2 MSPs and UKIP has none), whereas UKIP have found it difficult to win a seat in both parliaments. But the Greens got no mention, while  Farage and his mates Paul Nuttall and Godfrey Bloom have been interviewed and given free passes.

Right-wing parties hate ideas and they despise anyone who possesses critical faculties, whom they erroneously refer to as “elitists”. The use of the word in this context owes a great deal to the American Right who employed the word to describe intellectuals, academics, city-dwellers, the disabled, gays, lesbians, Blacks, Asians and anyone who didn’t share their reactionary point of view. Anti-intellectualism is a dominant feature of far-right politics – especially fascism and Nazism. Franco’s regime wasn’t textbook fascist but it came close. In Spain, the Falange held ideological sway and like other far-right variants it was notable for its anti-intellectualism. In a right-wing world, you question nothing and accept everything that you’re told by the leadership – who form the elite group of their party (as it is with other authoritarian forms of government, including Stalinism). A Kipper will lazily join a few dots rather than produce anything that borders on a coherent argument. Just look at the way they dismiss climate change science out of hand without producing an epistemologically-sound counter-argument  of their own.

Speaking of which, here’s a video of UKIP’s Christopher Monckton railing against climate change.

Monckton once claimed to have been Thatcher’s science adviser… which is odd, because he has no science qualifications. John Selwyn Gummer, the former Environment Secretary, poured cold water on Monckton’s claims, saying that he was “a bag carrier in Mrs Thatcher’s office. And the idea that he advised her on climate change is laughable”. Brilliant, eh? I’ve seen some figures that give us an interesting profile of the typical UKIP voter. 51% are over 50 years old and around the same number hold nothing more than a GCSE. In other words, these are largely under-educated old reactionaries who take their opinions directly from the mouths of UKIP’s elite and the Telegraph’s bloggers who play them and their paranoid emotions like fiddles.

The discursive tricks used by UKIP supporters are redolent of those methods used by the Tea Party in the United States. This is manifested in their inability to discuss anything without hurling abuse or breaking Godwin’s Law. I had several of them rock up on Twitter and spout the most unbelievable rubbish at me. One tried to proselytize and when he resorted to flattery, I cheekily told him that “flattery would get him nowhere” and that I was on the Left of British politics, this gave him the excuse to chuck “Hitler” at me by way of reply. “Nice riposte” I thought, so I blocked him. I can’t be bothered with trolls. The leadership of UKIP describes the party as “libertarian” but as I’ve pointed out elsewhere on this blog, their brand of libertarianism is both a means to deny their true authoritarian core beliefs and rationalize their social Darwinism and imperialism (the latter is perhaps the highest ideal in the mind of the New Right). For example, how can a self-described libertarian party claim to stand for freedom and then say that they’re against equal marriage while keeping a straight face? Well, Kippers can and do. Thus far I have only been able to identify a single example of their libertarianism: the freedom to kill oneself by smoking 100 cigarettes a day. Farage admits to being a chain-smoker. That says a lot about the party’s ‘libertarianism’: it’s pretty selective. Some UKIP supporters believe that those of us who work to expose them as a party of hypocrites and liars are simply scared of them. Well, if criticizing them and shining a light into the dark recesses of their discourses is “scared”, then baby, I’m shit scared; too frightened to come from behind the sofa scared. The only people who are really scared of UKIP is the Conservative Party’s high command. Other Tories, like Daniel Hannan, have even argued for a merger or, in this case, a coalition with UKIP.  Yes, you read that correctly: a coalition with a party that doesn’t have a single Westminster MP.

Let’s have a look at what the Lyin’ King’s saying.

The prospect of a Tory-Ukip coalition is no longer theoretical. A blue-purple pact – which I think this blog may have been the first to propose – is now at least a mathematical possibility in Cambridgeshire, East Sussex, Gloucestershire and Lincolnshire. Whether or not such pacts happen will, of course, be decided county by county, and rightly so. No truly localist party would want to tell its councillors whom to sit with. Still, my guess is that most of the Conservatives in question would rather deal with Ukip than with the Lib Dems.

The Cat thinks Hannan is getting a little ahead of himself here. We’re two years away from a general election and already, the one of the party’s biggest headbangers is calling for a coalition. Of course Hannan is trying to cover his arse by suggesting that the two parties co-operate on a local level to shaft the voters with their authoritarian-libertarian mush. But, make no mistake, a man like Hannan would love to see a Tory/UKIP coalition in government with Bozza as PM and Farage as Deputy PM. Sort of makes you want to vomit. No? Towards the end of his piece, he tells us:

Six months ago, I mournfully predicted that the two parties would fail to get their act together, because of all the petty considerations that held up Canada’s Unite the Right movement for a decade:

“Unite the Right”? Good luck with that, Danny. In my mind, there’s no chance of a unified right-wing electoral arrangement either now or in the immediate future. Indeed, Farage has demanded the immediate removal of Cameron as a precondition for any kind of marriage. We must remember that Hannan was previously involved in the formation of a British (read English) Tea Party. The project, it would seem, has not taken off in the way that he or The Freedom Association would have liked. I guess there is little demand for this kind of Americanized right-wing astro-turfing here in the UK, and as much as men like Hannan enthuse about such things, the more I am likely to think they’re deluding themselves.

The fighting between UKIP and the Conservatives has exposed the barely-concealed fault-lines over the EU within the Tory party that have existed since the time of John Major’s government and his “bastards” comment. On that occasion, the divisions in the party over Europe contributed to the Tories battering at the ballot box in 1997. It now looks like history is repeating itself for the Tories, only this time they face external pressures from the upstart Kippers. Some Tories may be tempted to run off and join Farage’s motley band  of late League of Empire Loyalists and chain-smoking free-marketeers, while others like Hannan will continue to make conciliatory noises without making any effort to join the party. Shouldn’t he be putting his money where is mouth is?

Finally, here’s something for you to dance to.

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Filed under Conservative Party, County Council elections 2013, Government & politics, UKIP