Tag Archives: Ron Paul

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

Airbrushing Churchill or Historical Revisionism and the British Right

I always laugh when I see Dan Hannan write about the so-called “Anglosphere”. As with Europe and laissez-faire capitalism, the Anglosphere is another one of his obsessions. Sunday, he wrote that “Winston Churchill [was] the father of the Anglosphere” (my brackets).   What really bugs me is the way people on the right continue to fawn over the legend of a man who sent troops into Tonypandy to kill miners and dispatched ships and troops to Liverpool during the General Transport Strike of 1911. But neither am I interested in an imagined union of English-speaking nations. It is largely because of English-speaking nations – particularly the UK and US – that the world is such a mess.

Hannan tells us that,

In many conservative circles, particularly in the United States, Winston Churchill is beyond criticism. Mention his errors – the Gallipoli debacle, the return to gold at the pre-1914 rate, the contracting out of domestic policy to the Left after 1940, the second premiership – and you provoke a Bateman cartoon scene.

No mention here of Churchill’s evident racism or his admiration of Mussolini. Are you surprised? No, neither am I. The fact that Churchill openly expressed an admiration for fascism seems to be ignored. It is an inconvenient truth. It flies in the face of the airbrushed narrative of a man who was a bully, a racist and a thug.

I do not understand this squeamishness about the use of gas. We have definitely adopted the position at the Peace Conference of arguing in favour of the retention of gas as a permanent method of warfare. It is sheer affectation to lacerate a man with the poisonous fragment of a bursting shell and to boggle at making his eyes water by means of lachrymatory gas.

I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes. The moral effect should be so good that the loss of life should be reduced to a minimum. It is not necessary to use only the most deadly gasses: gasses can be used which cause great inconvenience and would spread a lively terror and yet would leave no serious permanent effects on most of those affected.

That was Churchill in 1920. He was justifying the use of poison gas – the same poison gas that was used against British troops during World War I – as a means to subdue what he called the “uncivilized tribes” of Mesopotamia.  Of course this is to assume that the very use of the gas was a mark of Britain’s superior civilization. There is nothing “civilized” about using weapons that are intended to cause great pain and suffering. Yet, in the run-up to the Iraq invasion we were told by our media that Saddam Hussein had gassed the Kurds of Halabja without the merest trace of irony. Indeed the West didn’t bat an eyelid when the Iraqi Army used poison gas against Iranian troops in the long and bitter Iran-Iraq War.

Hannan asks,

What makes the Anglosphere special?

Er, it’s smugness and  distorted sense of superiority?

The Anglosphere peoples believed, because their institutions had taught them to believe, that individual liberty, limited government and the rule of law were worth preserving – with force of arms if necessary.

This is starting to read like a fairy story now. First, Hannan assumes that the “Anglosphere” is a collection of English-speaking nations that works synchronously and harmoniously. Second, he suggests that every single inhabitant of these countries supports laissez-faire capitalism and the use of force to ‘open’ markets.

Churchill played a brave role in all three great twentieth century conflicts, fighting in the first, leading the democracies to victory in the second and defining the third.

Here we have Churchill the myth transformed into nature. He is at once presented as a man who singlehandedly fought two world wars and “defined”, as Hannan puts it, the Cold War. All because he said this in a small college in a small town in Missouri,

From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic an iron curtain has descended across the Continent.

This statement cemented Churchill’s reputation as a Cold Warrior and it also gave the West a neologism. But,

Churchill’s chief preoccupation was not with the Soviet menace, but with the unity of the English-speaking peoples

What? Like a sort of Anglophone Anschluss?

For every book that presents Churchill as a saint, there is one that shines a light into the dark corners of his real life. The book Winston Churchill – Unrepentant Racist does just that.

“Someone once asked Churchill if he had seen the film Carmen Jones, which starred Dorothy Dandridge. Winston replied that he didn’t like blackamoors and had walked out early in the proceedings.”

When he was told that there was a very high mortality among Negroes from measels he growled ‘Well there are plenty left. They’ve a high rate of production’.

Churchill  was so annoyed by Harold MacMillan’s “Wind of Change” speech that he said,

Harold should not have gone to Africa encouraging the black men.

I could list more examples. Churchill was known to despise American Indians, Australian Aborigines, Bengalis, Punjabis, if they didn’t have white skin, he didn’t like them.

So why do people like Dan Hannan gloss over Churchill’s racism? Good question. I think it is worth noting that Hannan is an open admirer of Enoch Powell, who has been given a similar makeover by the Right. The excuse is that Powell was a free-marketeer and free-marketeers always find some way to cover for their racism. Indeed, a little-mentioned feature of classical liberalism is racism and social Darwinism.

You can watch a video of The Lyin’ King heaping praise on Powell and pouring scorn on the NHS.

Hannan’s choice of heroes is interesting: there’s Churchill, Powell and Ron Paul, all of whom had or have questionable attitudes to difference. He also supports the Ludwig von Mises Institute, an organization that excuses the Jim Crow south and perpetuates the myth that the US Civil War was a “tariff war”.  Now he and his supporters would try to tell you that it is possible to elide or even detach their social views from their respective (yet, similar) economic positions.  But that would be disingenuous. Years ago, I was having a discussion about the Italian Futurists and I asked if it was possible to separate their love of war, misogyny and fascist tendencies from their art. The answer that came back was an emphatic “no”.

The problem with the likes of Hannan and those who subscribe to his brand of capitalism is they deny the racism of those they admire; they excuse it by employing the nebulous discourse of ‘free market economics’ as  means to deflect attention from the less savoury aspects of their chosen hero. Ron Paul’s opposition to the Civil Rights Act, for example, was excused with a mere “it interfered with the right of the vendor to sell to whom he/she likes”. This flies in the face of good business practice but don’t tell them that. They can’t stand the truth. They’re fond of talking about “liberty” but on closer inspection, we discover that their idea of “liberty” only extends to the privileged and those with lighter skin tones and fat wallets.

Hannan isn’t the only one. Simon Heffer penned this apology in 2008 in which he claims that the charge of racism against Powell is a “big lie”. Heffer, Hannan and the rest of them are in denial. But then when have any of these people told us the truth about anything?

I found this blog that Hannan had written in 2007 in response to an article that had appeared in the Daily Mirror. It is worth remembering that those who lionize racists often find some way to excuse them or deny their racism even when it is blatantly obvious.

For what it’s worth, I think Enoch Powell was wrong on immigration. The civil unrest that he forecast, and that many feared in 1968, didn’t materialise. Britain assimilated a large population with an ease that few countries have matched. Being an immigrant myself, I have particular cause to be grateful for Britain’s understated cosmopolitanism.

Notice how Hannan says “being an immigrant myself”. Even so, Hannan is white and those immigrants to whom Powell was referring were black or brown-skinned. Powell knew what he was doing when he used Virgil’s “Rivers of Blood” analogy.  Despite his excuses, the Press Complaint Commission supported the Daily Mirror’s position on this blog in which Hannan refers to Barack Obama as having an “exotic” background; a form of Orientalist shorthand for someone who isn’t white.

He had not sought to justify attacks on Obama, he said, and while he did count Powell as a political hero, the article misleadingly implied that he shared his views on immigration.

The Mirror said that some people, such as Labour MP Parmjit Dhanda, who was quoted in the article, had taken offence at Hannan’s choice of words.

The paper said it was entitled to comment on the Hannan’s public pronouncements and suggested he submit a letter for publication to could clarify his position.

The PCC rejected the complaint, arguing that newspapers were entitled under the code to be partisan.

“On this occasion, the commission was satisfied, given the delicate subject matter, and the fact that the remarks were open to some interpretation, that the newspaper’s reporting in this instance was well within the range of political partisanship permitted by the code of practice,” the PCC said in its ruling.

It conceded that the reference to Powell was “arguably slightly misleading”, as the context of Hannan’s regard for Powell was unclear.

Let’s return to the Anglosphere. This book states that the Anglosphere is a racialized construct. That is to say, it is constructed around the notion that “Anglo” equals “white”.  I would agree.

Now the Right would try and claim that those on Left have attempted to rehabilitate the reputation of Joseph Stalin or some other dictator that claimed to be ‘Left’. I would ask them to produce evidence to support such claims. But I could be waiting a long, long time. The Right doesn’t much care for evidence or anything like it. Have a look at the research conducted by IDS’s Centre for Social Justice or the work of Policy Exchange if you don’t believe me.

UPDATE: 16/6/12 @ 0910

Ed West chips in with this blog in which he claims “Enoch was right! He warned ‘us’ about Europe”! Here’s a snippet.

To a later generation, Powell became the bogeyman in a multicultural paradise, a sinister Victorian throwback whose inflammatory words had terrorised defenceless immigrants. Such is the notoriety and “brand toxicity” that in 2007 a Conservative candidate was forced to resign after suggesting that Powell’s immigration warnings were correct.

Naturally, you will find the usual chorus of right-wing commenters expressing their love, admiration and approval. This comment from “torieblue” sums it up but also gets it so badly wrong.

Commenter's avatar
last year when the august riots were raging you could almost hear millions of whispers ”old Enoch was right ” they were all saying it.

And yet, 14 years after his death, Powell should now be recognised as the prophet of an altogether different post-war experiment – the European project. As Jean Monnet’s dream turns to tragedy for millions, Powell’s assertion that “Europe can never be a democracy because there is no European demos” has proved completely true.

“torieblue” still labours under the assumption that last August’s riots were about ‘race’.  Nothing to do with government attacks on the working class, youths, the disabled or the poor.

UPDATE 20/6/12 @ 0853

Braindead Brendan O’Neill chips in with this apology for Enoch Powell. Is there no depth to which people like him will stoop? Is this what really passes for ‘free speech’?

What was the key prejudice in Enoch Powell’s infamous 1968 speech, which everyone is talking about again following Powell’s 100th birthday? It wasn’t actually hatred of immigrants, whom Powell believed to be ambitious, ferociously so. Rather it was fear of native Britons. It was fear of what white Brits, or what Powell referred to as the “ordinary working man”, might do if more and more foreigners turned up in their towns.

Absolutely barking. But it gets worse.

Even Powell’s most notorious line – “like the Roman, I seem to see the River Tiber foaming with much blood” – was a prediction not of immigrant behaviour but of native British violence against immigrants. Powell said native Brits, “for reasons which they could not comprehend” (presumably because they were a bit dim), were feeling dangerously like “strangers in their own country”.

He concludes with this,

Today’s anti-Powellites are obsessed with the same “preventable evil” that Powell was obsessed with: the evil of inter-ethnic conflict stoked by “the sense of alarm and resentment [that] lies not with the immigrant population but with those among whom they have come”. Anti-racists’ predictions of “violence on the streets”, of thuggish antics among tabloid readers, of upsurges in hatred and bloodshed following Nick Griffin’s appearance on Question Time are only an updated version of Powell’s blather about “rivers of blood”. For all their anti-Powell posturing, they cleave to the very same idea promoted by that most notorious politician: namely that ordinary working communities, being old-fashioned and inward-looking, might be coaxed into violence by immigration/criticism of immigration.

This is, effectively, a re-writing of history as well as a makeover of Powell. O’Neill rails against “the left” and “anti-racists”. He would deny that he is racist but he’s quite happy to attack anti-racists. He tells us that he is on the “left” but then attacks the left for the benefit of his readers. Does that make sense? No. That’s because O’Neill’s obsession with an idea of free speech has driven him to say anything he thinks is controversial. The problem with this kind of attitude is that the speaker, in this case O’Neill, exposes their deepest-held prejudices. This is not, as Foucault might have called it, “fearless speech”, because O’Neill holds power as a ‘journalist’ and opinion-former for a Tory-leaning newspaper. Those with power cannot speak fearlessly. In medieval times, it was the jester/fool who  spoke fearlessly not the king.

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Filed under History & Memory, Media, racism, Tory press

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

The myth of a smaller state.

Right wing libertarians, Tories and the more free-market oriented Lib Dems make me laugh every time they say they want to make the state ‘smaller’; how they want the state to interfere less in the lives of people and how they want to devolve power to the individual. The thing is, they don’t have the guts to dismantle the state.  They are, after all, part of the state. They are statists but they are dishonest about their love for the state. They accept salaries from the state and without the state, they wouldn’t have jobs. There is an obvious cognitive dissonance here.

A smaller state, in the mind of the anarcho-capitalists, Objectivists and other libertarian types,  means no welfare, no public services and so on and would also suggest an explicitly socially Darwinian approach to life that is supported by a hyper-capitalist system in which libertarians are free to exploit others and pollute the planet.  So if you don’t have the money, it’s kind of tough…this is natural selection! If Thatcher’s deregulation of the nationalised industries produced capital flight and the wholesale destruction of Britain’s industrial base, think what a libertarian world might look like.

But a smaller state should also include the wholesale excision of the  other parts of the state, leaving only those parts that Althusser referred to as the “Repressive State Apparatus”. In other words, the police or the military. Yet they’re part of the state and they take up a lot of the state’s budget. Odd how you never hear these soi-disant libertarians (with the possible exception of the Randists and others) talk about reducing war spending – let’s face it, it isn’t defence that we’re talking about here, it’s the capacity for war-making – the very thing that drives the consumer economy and vice versa.

You can’t talk about wanting a smaller state when you take your salary from it. Who is going to pay for you to sit in the Commons? Sandline? Glaxo-SmithKlein? Diageo? Nor can you claim to want a smaller state when you ring fence certain functions of the state like the military or by keeping Trident. Those who call for a smaller state only want to create a system where those who have money can continue to enslave those who don’t have money.

In the States, some right-wing  libertarians talk about wanting a “smaller government” when they actually mean a smaller state. I don’t think the likes of Republicans Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich are anarchists but, at the same time, they aren’t clear in their thinking either: do they really understand what it is they’re actually saying or do they just churn out this rhetoric in order to woo voters over to their ‘vision” of a world where everyone is materially wealthy? You can’t have smaller government, what would those elected politicians do? Sit around playing Mah Jong or strip poker? What would the president do? Play golf all day? The point of electing someone to office is for them to either serve in a government or form the opposition to the elected government. No government means anarchism, is this really what they want? Or is it really the case that their obsession with trickle down economics leads them to use the cover of ‘smaller government’ to justify their wealth-making activities and their continued exploitation of those below them?

I guess there’s an upside to this if you’re one of those ‘self-help gurus’ or ‘motivational speakers’: there will plenty of people practically killing themselves to hand over heir hard-earned wedge to sign up to their empty promise of “I did it and so can you”.  Money for old rope.

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Filed under Conservative Party, Government & politics, Ideologies