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Alex Belfield Defending Boris to Attack BBC

Alex Belfield is an internet radio host and Youtuber. He’s a ragin Conservative, and so a large number of his videos are attacks on left-wing broadcasters and critics of the government, like Owen Jones, James O’Brien and Piers Morgan. He has also attacked Sadiq Khan, immigration, especially the asylum-seekers floating over on flimsy craft from Calais, and the recent moves to expand diversity in broadcasting. This includes Diversity’s dance routine about Black Lives Matter the Saturday before last on Britain’s Got Talent. Another frequent target of his attacks in the BBC, and at the weekend he decided to join the Conservative papers trying to get sympathy for Boris Johnson.

According to an article in Saturday’s Times, BoJob has been whining about how hard it is for him on £150,000. Not only has he been through a messy divorce, but he’s also trying to support four of his six children. I thought he himself didn’t know how many children he had. And how is it he’s only supporting four, not all of them? The article claims he’s overburdened – which is also strange. I’ve put up a piece on Russian gulag slang terms which could describe him. One of them is mankirovant, which means ‘shirker’. Because he seems to be off on his hols whenever it suits, unlike other Prime Ministers. Unlike other PMs, he also dodges working at weekends and turning up at Cobra meetings. He has, apparently, taken a cut in income and, oh, the hardship!, has to buy his own food.

Mike has put up a piece in which he, and the folks on Twitter, tear into our clown PM and give him all the sympathy he deserves: which is precisely zero. They point out that Boris’ salary is still five times more than the median wage and that people on ESA are, if they’re over 25, on less £4,000 a year. By any standard, Boris is still filthy rich.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2020/09/19/poorboris-uk-citizens-give-what-sympathy-they-can-to-pm-complaining-about-money/

Belfield crawled out from under whichever Tory rock he hides under to try and defend Boris. Ah, but he has to pay all the expenses required of him now that he is prime minister. Mike points out that he has a fair few those paid by the state. His current residence, No. 10, is provided by the state gratis. Also, Boris wanted the job. This isn’t like the Roman Empire, where the rich were forced to perform ‘liturgy’. This was a list held by the local authorities of everyone, who could afford to do some kind of public service to the state. This went from acting as a kind of clerk recording and filing people’s tax returns, to membership of the ordo or local council. If you were saddled with that, it meant that you had to make whatever shortfall there was between public expenditure and tax revenue up out of your own money. The pagan Roman emperors used it as one of the punishments they inflicted on Christians, apart from torturing them to death in the arena. Neither the Queen, Duke of Edinburgh, Sadiq Khan or anyone else suddenly leapt upon Boris and dragged him off to be prime minister. No-one forced him to start plotting to be head of the Tory party. He wasn’t corrupted by Cassius, as Brutus was in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. And neither Cameron or Gove, the two Boris betrayed, were Julius Caesar. Although both of them, like Boris, thought they should ‘bestride the earth like a colossus’.

Boris chose the job himself. But people on ESA and low incomes don’t choose them. They’ve had them foisted upon them by exploitative employers and a government determined to make ordinary, working people an impoverished, cowed, an easily disposable workforce.

As for the expense of having a nanny and providing for his children, well, the Tories, as Mike and his peeps have pointed out, stopped child benefit after two sprogs. The argument from the right for a long time has been that people should only have children they can afford to support. Not bad advice, actually. But it has led to the Tories and New Labour demonising those they consider as bad parents. Like Gordon Brown ranting about how ‘feckless’ they were. In the words of the old adage, ‘if you can’t feed ’em, don’t breed ’em’. But this was all right when applied to the hoi polloi. But when it hits the upper classes, somehow we’re expected to cry tears over them.

Belfield also tried defending Boris by pointing out that his salary was much less than those in many industries, including entertainment and television. And then, almost predictably, he started attacking the Beeb for the inflated pay it awards presenters like Gary Linaker. Linaker’s another of Belfield’s bete noirs. Linaker has made various left-wing remarks on Twitter and has said he’ll take into his house some of the asylum seekers coming across from France. Which has sent Tories like Belfield into a fearful bate, as Molesworth used to sa.

Now the pay earned by prime ministers is lower than many of those in industry. It always has been. I can remember under Thatcher or Major there were various Tory MPs whining about how much they earned. They demanded more, much more, to boost their pay up to that of private businessmen and senior managers. The argument was that they should be paid this money, as otherwise talented professionals would go into business instead, where their talents would be properly remunerated.

It’s another argument that didn’t go down well, not least because however poorly MPs are paid, they’re still paid far more than ordinary peeps. And for a long time they weren’t paid. Payment of MPs was a 19th century reform. Indeed, it was one of the six demanded by the Chartists. Many of the Conservatives responded by giving the money to charity. I think part of the reason politicians’ pay has remained comparatively low for so long is the ethos of public service. You are meant to want to enter politics because you are serious about serving your country and its great people. You are not meant to do so because you see it as a lucrative source of income. It’s an attitude that comes ultimately from the Stoic philosophers of the ancient world and Christian theologians like St. Augustine. It became the ethos of the public schools in the 19th century through the reforms of Arnold Bennet at Rugby. Boris therefore deserves no sympathy on that score.

Now I actually do agree with Belfield that some presenters at the Beeb are grossly overpaid. But it’s not just presenters. Private Eye has run story after story in their media section reporting how production staff and the ordinary journos in the news department, who actually do the hard work of putting programmes and news reports together, have been the victims of mass sackings and cut budgerts. At the same time, executive pay has increased and the number of managers with various non-jobs have proliferated. There is, apparently, someone presiding over a department with title ‘Just Do It!’ These departments are entangled and seem to overlap, much like the Nazi administrative system. Yes, I know, another gratuitous example of Godwin’s Law. But sometimes you just can’t help yourself.

The problem is, it’s not just the Beeb. They’re just following in the tracks of business elsewhere. Here ordinary workers have been massively laid off, forced to take pay cuts and freezes, while senior executives have seen their pay bloated astronomically. The Beeb is no different from them.

And watch carefully: Belfield isn’t telling you how much leading journos and broadcasters are paid elsewhere. Like in the media empire belonging to a certain R. Murdoch, now resident in America.

The argument used by presenters like John Humphries, for example, is that they are paid what they are worth. The argument goes that if the Beeb doesn’t pay them what they want, they can go and take their talent elsewhere, and the Beeb’s competitors will. Or at least, that’s how I understand it.

But you aren’t being told how much the presenters over at Sky are on. Or indeed, what kind of pay Murdoch and his senior staff at News International trouser. And you won’t, because that could be more than a mite embarrassing. Especially as Murdoch’s British operation is registered offshore in order to avoid paying British corporation tax.

But Murdoch, and Belfield are attacking the Beeb because the Tories hate the idea of state broadcasting and its mandated ethos of impartiality. Mind you, the rampant shilling by the Corporation on behalf of the Tories and their savage, flagrantly biased attacks on Jeremy Corbyn and Labour showed that they don’t too. The Tories have also been taking Murdoch’s coin in corporate donations. From Thatcher onwards, right-wing governments – and that includes New Labour – signed a Faustian pact with Murdoch. They gave him larger and larger shares of British media and allowed him to dictate policy, in return for which Murdoch gave them publicity in his sordid empire of ordure.

That’s the real reason Belfield’s attacking the BBC.

Murdoch wants to get rid of state-funded competition and step in himself as the major broadcaster. And if he does so, you can expect nothing except propaganda and lies, which will we keep you poor and the elite even more obscenely rich.

Just like Boris Johnson and the Tories, despite his moans of poverty.

Marxism, Black Nationalism and Fascism

Last week or so Sasha Johnson was thrown off twitter for stating that the White man would not be the equals of Blacks, but their slave. Johnson is supposedly one of the leading lights in the Oxford Black Lives Matter movement. She was filmed holding a bizarre paramilitary-style rally in Brixton. Standing in front of a uniformed squad of Black people, she compared the police to the Klu Klux Klan and declared that what was needed was a Black militia. Like the one that was standing behind her, no doubt. She also screamed ‘Black Power!’ and ‘Revolution!’ She then followed that by announcing that, as Black and Asian politicians like Priti Patel and David Lammy were all sell-outs, she was going to found a a new political party solely for Blacks.

Johnson has been called a ‘Black Panther’, though I don’t know whether it was by her admirers in the Black power movement, or by herself. It certainly seems that she’s trying to copy the Black Panthers, who were set up to defend American Blacks against shooting and murder by the police, and set up their own party. But to British eyes it also looks very much like other violent paramilitary movements, like the terrorist organisations in Ulster and White Fascist organisations, such the British Union of Fascists and the National Front.

Black Lives Matter as an organisation, I gather, is Marxist, and the Black Panthers are usually seen as radical left rather than Fascist right. But this passage from Noel Sullivan’s Fascism (London: J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd 1983) may explain how Johnson was able to move from a Marxist position to racial supremacy, albeit one that privileged Blacks against Whites.

Sullivan’s a Conservative historian, who take the view that the origins of Fascism are to be found in the activist style of politics that emerged with the French Revolution. This demanded that the public take an active part in politics as against the older, feudal system in which politics was confined to the king and the aristocracy. This new activism also set up the nation or the people against an outgroup, identified as their enemy. For the French Revolutionaries, the people were the French middle class, and their enemies were the monarchy, aristocracy and clergy. Later in the 19th century, Karl Marx identified the people with the working class. However, that didn’t end the process. This was followed in the 20th century by Asian revolutionary socialists, beginning with Sultan Galiev, identifying their peoples as the oppressed working class and urging revolution against their White colonial oppressors. Sullivan writes

In spite of Marx’s belief that his redefinition of the ‘true people’ as the proletariat represented a scientific and therefore final stage in activist strategy, the subsequent course of twentieth-century intellectual history revealed that his own position was a unstable as the one which he had attacked. Consider, for example, the doctrine advocated by Sultan Galiev in 1919, in an article entitled ‘Social Revolution and the East’. Galiev was a Marxist, in the sense that he followed Marx in identifying the true people with the proletariat. He differed from Marx, however, in his definition of the proletariat itself. The trouble with western socialism, Galiev wrote, is that ‘the East, with its population of a milliard and a half human beings, oppressed by the West European bourgeoisie, was almost entirely forgotten. The current of the international class war bypassed the East and the problem of revolution in the East existed only in the minds of a few scattered individuals. For Galiev, the true proletariat now became the Muslim, Hindu and Chinese masses of the East, and the Marxist class struggle was accordingly transformed into one between the white and coloured races. Other non-European socialists rapidly took up this theme. For example, in 1920 Li Ta-chao, one of the founders of the Chinese Communist Party, defined as class-struggle as racial conflict ‘between the lower-class coloured races and the upper-class white race’. In this struggle, ‘China really stands in the position of the world proletariat.’ In Japan, Ikki Kita also pursued the racial method of defining the true people as the populace of the third world, maintaining in his Outline for the Reconstruction of the Japanese State, 1919) that ‘There are self-contrictions in the fundamental thought of those European and American socialists who approve of proletarian class-struggle within a country but who consider international proletarian war as chauvinism and militarism.’ In recent decades, Frantz Fanon has been the best-known exponent of this particular variant of the new activist style of politics. (pp. 51-2).

Sasha Johnson seems to have made a similar transition, identifying the true people with Britain’s depressed Black population. In so doing, she’s moved from a socialistic Black radicalism to Fascism. She’s become Black Britain’s version of the White Fascists Nesta Webster and Rotha Orne Linton.

I also wonder how long she’ll be a figure on the public stage. She was determined to make herself notorious and a figure of public outrage and terror, like any number of angry young people before her trying to epater le bourgeois. I don’t think Black Lives Matter have done anything to censure her or reel her in, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they did. At the moment she’s a liability. They and the media have made a point of showing that Blacks and Whites, especially young people, are united in their support of the movement. BLM also released statements on placards stating that they were trying to start a race war. They were trying to end one. But that is precisely what Sasha Johnson wants to do.

My guess is that Black Lives Matter will now try and rein her in, if only for the sake of publicity. As for Johnson herself, she and her supporters come across as young, idealistic and stupid. 19th and 20th century history is full of similar young men and women, angry and radical, trying to threaten the establish order. Hopefully with time she’ll settle down and grow up.

Anti-White Black Racism in Seattle’s Decolonised Mathematics Syllabus

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 20/09/2020 - 8:25pm in

This is another video from Sargon of Akkad, the man who broke UKIP. He put it up nearly a year ago in October 2019, and the subject he discusses comes from a Daily Caller article two years before that in 2017. It’s about the move from Seattle’s public schools board to get Black students to do better at mathematics by producing a syllabus that aims to teach them how White mathematics is being used to oppress them, and how they also use it to liberate people and communities of colour.

The maths syllabus is the creation of Tracy Castro-Gill, the ethnic studies program manager for Seattle public schools, and deals explicitly with issues like ‘origins, identity and agency’, and ‘power and oppression’. The article shows the syllabus itself and what it aims to teach Seattle’s schoolkids. This starts off by teaching them that mathematical theory is rooted in ancient histories and empires of colour. Sargon doesn’t have a problem with this, as mathematical theories and formulae have been discovered independently by different peoples over time. The Babylonians, he rightly says, had versions of Pythagoras’ theorem. But he makes the point that ’empires of colour’ can also mean ‘oppressors of colour’, as this is what empires are: one ethnic group ruling another.

The syllabus then moves to demand that teachers and students ‘create counterknowledge to origins of mathematical knowledge’. This teaching ‘power and oppression in western maths’. The syllabus claims that western maths is seen as the only legitimate mathematics, and is used to disenfranchise people of colour. It erases the historical contribution of people of colour. Sargon replies by stating that different peoples have indeed independently discovered different maths theorems and formulae, but that Western maths is based on the Greeks. The syllabus also requires students to learn the history of resistance and liberation of people of colour using maths, engineering and technology. Sargon says he knows some great stories, but they are all about western maths. Like how Archimedes defended Syracuse against a Roman invasion by having the Greek soldiers align their bronze shields so that they reflected the sun’s rays as a kind of death ray. He also tells the story of Archimedes’ death. The Romans sent a soldier to capture him. When the soldier finally caught him, Archimedes was busy trying to draw a perfect circle by going through as many small points as possible. He told the soldier not to bother him, so that the soldier stabbed him with his sword.

The syllabus also includes more general questions, asking students how the feel about themselves as mathematicians and who is a mathematician? Sargon argues that a mathematician is someone who gets a problem right. But he also says that he doesn’t know, because he’s been using maths in ordinary life since he left school, as well as in computers, but doesn’t think of himself as a mathematician. He also remarks that he studied logarithms at school, and after twenty or so years still hasn’t been in a sitution that requires them. Students are also asked what it means to make a mistake, and where does power and oppression show up in people’s maths experiences. Sargon jokingly responds to this that it shows up in his maths teacher, who told him off for getting his maths wrong. there are also questions like ‘how and why does data-driven processes prevent liberation?’, ‘how is maths manipulated to allow inequality and oppression to persist?’, ‘how has maths been used to liberate people and communities and colour from oppression?’ and ‘Can you advocate against oppressive mathematical practices?’

As Sargon points out at the beginning of his video, this is all about teaching Black children that they are oppressed, and White children that they should feel guilty. It’s political activism that shouldn’t have a place in maths. He also argues that some of this is actually dangerous when it comes to claiming that there is a distinction between White and Black mathematics. mathematical facts are true regardless of race or culture, and lives may depend on their correct application. For example, planes depend on engineers understanding the equations governing aerodynamics. These have to be correct, and it doesn’t matter whether the person doing these is White or Black. It’s either right or wrong, and if it’s wrong, then people may die.

I realise that Sargon is a man of the right, even extreme right, and that he himself says that this subject has already been discussed in right-wing newspapers and internet sites. Nevertheless, I think this is important and needs to be discussed and refuted. Because it, or something similar, may well come over here. Black activists are worried about Black schoolchildren’s underperformance in maths. It’s why, when I still got on with the Black and Asian Studies Association they asked me if I knew anything about Black mathematics. I didn’t, but sent them material on medieval Muslim mathematicians – Persian and Arab – for which they expressed their thanks. It wouldn’t surprise me if a group in Britain was demanding a similar approach in British schools following Black Lives Matter.

Here’s the video:

There have been other attempts to create a maths syllabus that would engage and inspire Black American pupils with controversial results. Back in the 1990s Private Eye’s ‘Funny Old World’ column carried a piece about the anger that had been sparked by one American school’s or schoolboard’s attempts to appeal to its Black students. It attempted to do so by framing maths problems in the setting of Black urban gangsta culture. One of the problems set featured two gangsters, Lucius and Rufus. They had guns that had different rates of fire and held clips of different numbers of bullets. The question was on how many times these gangsters would have to fire their weapons before they had to change the guns’ clips. The schoolboard attempted to justify this and and similar questions by claiming that it reflected the home environment of their students, and they were just trying to engage them through using it. But naturally, this horrifies everyone, Black and White, who doesn’t want violent criminals to be glamourised, or feels that Black children should be inspired to identify and aim for something better. There is a caveat to this story. Some of the items in the column are, shall we say, far-fetched and others have been shown to be urban legends, so it’s quite possible that the story’s fake and was made up as a spoof or joke. But looking at the blatant bias in Seattle’s maths syllabus, as bonkers as it is, it could also be true.

I’ve suggested before in a previous video that if educators really want to inspire Black children in maths, they could teach them about some of the maths problems studied by the ancient Egyptians, or failing that, the kind of maths problems they studied, as some of the formulae the Egyptians used aren’t accurate. They might also teach them the type of maths problems studied and taught in the schools of the great Islamic civilisations in north Africa. That would clearly be better than telling them that Whites have appropriated maths to oppress Blacks and other non-White peoples.

There is clearly a viciously anti-White racism in some of the academic doctrines and approaches now being advocated and taught as pro-Black. Critical Race Theory is another one, as it teaches that all White people are racist and any institutions they set up will automatically oppress non-Whites. Trump passed an executive order last week banning its teaching in federal government. services, including the police. But Trump is himself determined to indoctrinate children with his attack on anything he considers to be liberal propaganda being taught as part of history. He has just launched the 1776 Initiative, which aims to make American history teaching even more patriotic.

Such indoctrination, whether coming from the left or right has no place in schools. Children need to be taught objective facts, both in maths and history, and encouraged to make up their own minds about race, country and politics.

Marc Bloch's philosophy of history

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 20/09/2020 - 12:05pm in

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history


Marc Bloch wrote The Historian's Craft: Reflections on the Nature and Uses of History and the Techniques and Methods of Those Who Write It. after the defeat of France in 1940. The title suggests that the book is a "how-to" manual for doing historical research, authored by one of the great historians of the twentieth century. But this would be to misunderstand the book. It is something better, more ambitious, and more important than a "users' guide" to becoming a historian. Instead, it is a thoughtful, innovative historian reflecting on fundamental questions in what we can correctly describe as a philosophy of history. It is a reflective book that considers and reflects upon some of the great historians of France and Belgium, often praising but also often criticizing and correcting.
Bloch begins with a fundamental question: what is history? And of course, this is not an easy question to answer. Is history no more nor less than "the past" -- everything that happened? This is not a particularly informative answer. Or more selectively, is history the sequence of important events, kingdoms, leaders, wars and revolutions, inventions, literary innovations, all set within a chronological framework? Even more abstractly, is history the study of great epochs -- feudalism, ancient Rome, the absolutist French state, the Industrial Revolution?

Bloch does not like any of these answers to the fundamental question. Instead, he offers a simple answer of his own: history is "human beings in time". He chooses this answer for several reasons. History is not simply "temporal sequence"; rather, it is the actions, creations, meanings, and life experiences of concrete human beings. Further, human beings are themselves historically conditioned; medieval serfs were different in deep ways from American farmers or contract software coders. They are different, in particular, in their mentalities, their mental frameworks through which they understand themselves and their relations to others. These differences are profound; they involve differences in beliefs, dispositions, ways of framing the world, attitudes towards neighbors, strangers, the gods, and their families. Their "histories" have shaped them into different sorts of human beings.

So for Bloch, the study of history is the study of individuals and groups in social settings in the past, striving, interpreting, and cooperating or competing with each other. Further, it is the study of some of the practices, structures, institutions, belief systems, and inventions that emerged from these forms of human action and interaction. There is no fundamental break between "the past" and "the present" -- rather, human beings and their actions and social relations create and propel change, whether in the year 1000 or the year 1940. And distinctively, Bloch underlines the fact that human actions influence the physical environment; for example, the silting of the river port of Bruges changed the nature of water-born commerce in that great market town.

If human beings and their actions are the key stuff of history, then Bloch is also dismissive of the importance of traditional "periods" of history. Periods are created by historians, not by the ebb and flow of historical events themselves. In Bloch's view of history, change is of fundamental interest to the historian; words change their meanings, place names change, patterns of habitation change, social relationships change, and it is a central task of the historian to chart and seek to understand these various processes of change.

Also of special interest are the creations of human beings throughout our histories. Ideas and ideologies; religious beliefs; social practices; technologies and scientific methods; social structures; and even wars and revolutions are all creations of human beings that the historian is especially interested in probing and investigating.

Bloch links the past and the present in an especially intimate way. The historian needs to be deeply immersed in the ordinary processes and activities of the present, if he or she is going to be ready to understand the actions and thoughts of the actors of the past. Bloch's own experiences of war in 1917 and 1940 provided him with forms of knowledge and understanding that enhanced his ability to understand the medieval world.

Another key question posed by Bloch is whether history is "useful". Can we "learn from history"? Can the study of history improve our chances for a happy and peaceful future? Bloch's view is that the central value and use of history is its intellectual interest for us as human beings, and the significance we human beings attach to our histories. We are historical beings, in the sense that we understand ourselves in terms of the stories and narratives we tell about ourselves. We understand ourselves in the present in terms of the ways that we have constructed and interpreted the steps of human action and meaning that led us to this point. So the key values of history include the intellectual interest we take in understanding the past and the meanings we create for ourselves by discovering and interpreting aspects of our history.

We want to understand the past. And in fact, this is what Bloch regards as the central challenge for the scientific historian: to understand and explain aspects of the past. Historians should discover the pathways and causes through which various historical features came to be. Why did the actors behave as they did in the circumstances? What were they trying to accomplish? What social structures or circumstances influenced their choices, and thereby caused some aspects of the outcomes we are interested in?

Bloch's philosophy of history is an inclusive and open-ended one. He encourages the historian to be multidisciplinary; not confined by periods or places; not focused on "great events and great persons: and to focus historical research on the circumstances of ordinary human beings. His approach is a "human-centered history". And of particular importance, Bloch argues for a wide range of kinds of evidence that are relevant to historical inquiry. He doubts the privileged position of "contemporary documents and narratives," and points as well to the value of non-text sources of historical insight -- ruins, inscriptions, monuments, archeological discoveries, place names, and other apparently mundane and unremarkable "markers" of historical meaning.

Bloch was a founder, along with Lucien Febvre, of the Annales school of historical writing and research. It is not surprising that The Historian's Craft captures eloquently some of the most important and innovative commitments of the Annales school in this important testament of the great historian.

Duce Trump Fascistizes American Education

Yesterday Mike put up a piece about Donald Trump’s proposal to attack the ‘liberal indoctrination of America’s youth’ by making American education even more patriotic. Trump made his announcement in a Constitution Day speech at the White House Conference on American History at the National Archives Museum. CNN quoted the Orange Generalissimo as saying:

“We must clear away the web of twisted lies in our schools and classrooms and teach our children the magnificent truth about our country. We want our sons and daughters to know that they are the citizens of the most exceptional nation in the history of the world,” Trump said.

He also denounced the New York Times’ 1619 Project, which has been awarded a Pulitzer Prize for its aim to teach American students about slavery, ‘toxic propaganda’.

Trump is instead going to launch a national commission to promote patriotic education, which will be called the 1776 Commission.

Mike and a number of the peeps on Twitter naturally aren’t impressed, making the obvious comparison to the Hitler Youth, the perverted Nazi version of the boy scouts.

https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2020/09/18/donaldtrump-accused-of-launching-us-version-of-hitleryouth/

In fact, it looks far more to me like the way Mussolini’s Fascists and the Nazis reformed the Italian and German school system to indoctrinate their countries’ young people with their perverted ideas and values. For example, Declaration 1 of the Italian Fascist School Charter of 1939 states

Schools are the cornerstone of the solidarity that binds together all social forces, from the family to the corporation to the party. They shape the human and political conscience of new generations in the moral, political and economic unity of the Italian nation whose full realization is found in the fascist state.

Fascist schooling has as its aim to introduce a popular culture inspired by the eternal values of the Italian race and its civilisation, into the realm of practice by means of study (understood as the shaping of mature human subjects). Through the promotion of work, schools bring this culture to bear on the concrete activities carried out by the trades, arts, professions, sciences and armed forces.

Olivia E. Sears, trans., ‘Excerpts from the School Charter: The Twenty-Nine Declarations: Principles, Goals and Methods of Fascist Schools (1939)’, in Jeffrey T. Schnapp, ed., A Primer of Italian Fascism (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press 2000), 314-7, p. 314.

I don’t think Trump’ll go as far as the Nazis in their reform of the German education. They introduced special courses on the origins of the Nazi party and biology, stressing Mendelian genetics. I also don’t think that, unlike the Nazis, he’ll start issuing school leavers with a 10 point eugenics plan for their lives, telling them ‘health is a precondition of eternal beauty – choose not a playmate but a comrade for marriage – wish for as many children as possible’. Though Toby Young’s a supporter of eugenics, so you wonder about him. Trump also won’t go as far as introducing the history syllabus suggested in the Nazi National Socialist Educator, in which senior secondary schoolchildren were to be taught that everything from the industrial unrest and profiteering of pre-First World War Germany, it’s defeat and the chaos and dismemberment afterwards were all caused by the Jews. In weeks 25-28 on that course the poor souls got to be taught about Adolf Hitler and National Socialism, declared to be ‘Judah’s Foe!’. In weeks 33-6 to they had ‘National Socialism at grips with crime and the underworld’ foisted on them, which was supposed to teach them about ‘Jewish instigators of murder’. The course finally ended with ‘Germany’s youth at the helm! The victory of faith.’ This was described as ‘The last fight against Judah’. The syllabus recommended the appropriate reading matter for each section. For Adolf Hitler this included Mein Kampf, and at the end included the Reich Party Congress.

(See ‘A Nazi History Syllabus’ in D.G. Williamson, The Third Reich (Harlow: Longman 1982) p. 86.)

I bet the poor kids could hardly contain their boredom. On the other hand, Trump’s supporters and cabinet officials also included members of the White supremacist Alt Right, some of whom were anti-Semites. It’s a good question then, what they’d like to inflict on the minds of America’s kids.

History can be a particularly controversial area because of its role in shaping national identity and self-image. That’s especially true when it comes to issues of race and persecution. And that’s not confined to America. A few years ago one of the Conservative Australian politicos caused a furor when he declared that he was sick of the ‘black armband’ view of Australian history. By which he meant that Australians should constantly be taught about and feel guilty for the genocide of the Aboriginal people. The Tories would like to do the same thing with our education system. Michel Gove a few years ago also managed to annoy people, when he said he didn’t want the ‘Blackadder’ view of the First World War taught. Which neglects the fact that Blackadder is very definitely comedy.

The Tories want to impose on British schoolchildren a flag-waving, patriotic view of our country’s past and what it did around the world. But this would be to falsify history. Historians recognise that you can never get to an absolutely objective view history. But nevertheless, that is what you aim for as far as is possible. And you need to understand the history behind present-day political and social movements in order to make sense of them. You don’t have to be supporter of Black Lives Matter, for example, to recognise that it’s a powerful movement that does have the support of very many people, and that the movement’s rise can be explained through the history of persecution of American and British Blacks.

Trump’s announcement also seems to follow some of the movements among the local, state schoolboards in the US. A few years ago the Republican administration in Arizona voted to take the civil rights movement of the school syllabus, arguing that it was decisive or some such nonsense. What did they decide to replace it with? Readings from the speeches of Ronald Reagan. We’re almost back to Nazi Germany and the enforced reading of Hitler’s Mein Kampf in schools, and the various other wretched dictatorships around the world, whose citizens had to consume their leader’s literary efforts. Like Chairman Mao and his little red book in China. Reagan at least praises freedom and democracy, but the reality for the South American victims of the American empire was Fascism and mass murder during his tenure of the White House.

A week or so ago Trump banned the teaching of critical race theory to the police and other departments of the American state. And I think he was quite right. Critical race theory states, quite overtly, that all Whites are racist and that any institution established by Whites is therefore automatically discriminatory to people of colour. It is itself a nasty, racist doctrine that should have no place being taught for the same reason that White supremacist ideology shouldn’t either. But Trump’s demand that American schooling should be even more patriotic is wrong and deeply troubling.

He seems to want Americans to support their country ‘right or wrong’. Which brings to my mind a line from the 1980s British space detective series Star Cops. Interviewing a suspect, the hero Nathan Spring remarks of the other’s patriotism, ‘My country right or wrong, eh?’

‘There are worse philosophies.’

‘Yes, most of them start with that one.’

It’s the same with Trump’s view of history. This is another, troubling move towards Fascism with ideology taught as fact. It is not education. It is indoctrination and propaganda.

Posted Copies of Book ‘For A Workers’ Chamber’ to Labour Party

This afternoon I posted two copies of my self-published book, For A Workers’ Chamber, off to the Labour Party with appropriate covering letters. As I’ve explained in previous posts, the book argues that as parliament is now dominated by the millionaire heads and senior executives of big business, the working class has been excluded. It therefore needs a separate parliamentary chamber, composed of working people, elected by working people, to represent them.

I’ve also explained in the covering letters that it draws on arguments for such working class assemblies going as far back as Robert Owen’s Grand Consolidated Trades Union, the Chartists’ parliament of trades and the Guild Socialist strand within the early Labour party. I also state that it also draws on the post-war corporatist system in Britain, in which economic and industrial affairs were decided through negotiations and organisations that brought together government, industry and trade unionists. It also discusses too the producers’ chambers, which formed part of the governmental system of Tito’s Yugoslavia under the workers’ self-management system.

I have also said in the letter that the domination of parliament by employers supports the Marxist argument that the state is the instrument of class rule. Sidney and Beatrice Webb also felt that the parliamentary system could not cope with the demands of the expansion of parliamentary business into the social and economic spheres, and so recommended the establishment of a social parliament as well as a political parliament in their 1920 book, A Constitution for the Socialist Commonwealth of Great Britain. Another Fabian, Herman Finer, also recommended that Britain should copy the industrial chamber the Germans had set up, which contained representatives of industry and the trade unions to decide questions of industry.

We already have part of that through parliament’s domination by industrialists. We just need to include the working class. Of course, this could also be corrected if the Labour party turns away from the disastrous policies of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, which have done so much to ruin our country and impoverish its people. We need a Labour party that properly supports its traditional policies – a strong welfare state and unions able to defend working people, a properly funded and nationalised NHS and public utilities, run for the benefit of the community and not private profit, and a mixed economy. But there is a real danger that the Labour party is returning to the failed policies of Thatcherism. If that is the case, then the working class needs its own parliamentary chamber to defend its interests.

The Labour Party is holding a national policy review and has asked for suggestions by email. So I’ve sent them my book and its suggestions instead to the party’s National Policy Commission. I’ve also sent a copy to Richard Burgon in appreciation of his great efforts on behalf of the Labour left and the Labour Grassroots Alliance in supporting traditional Labour party policies and working people.

I don’t know if I’ll ever get a reply. Given the rabidly right-wing politics of the Blairite Labour party bureaucracy I have wondered if I might find myself smeared and accused of being a Trotskyite or Communist infiltrator or other slur after sending a copy of my book to the National Policy Commission. After all, they suspended and smeared Mike as an anti-Semite and Holocaust-denier simply because he had the temerity to send them a document defending Ken Livingstone against the charges of anti-Semitism they had leveled against him. I hope nothing like that happens to me, but I’m still left wondering.

Spain Passes New Laws Against Glorification of Fascist Franco

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 19/09/2020 - 12:20am in

This is another excellent piece of news I found in Wednesday’s issue of the I, for 16th September 2020. It reports that the Spanish government has passed a historic law banning the glorification of General Franco, the country’s Fascist dictator, and granting reparations to his victims. The article reads

Spain has passed a law to give reparations to the victims of the late dictator General Francisco Franco.

The Democratic Memory Law will ban the foundation which guards the memory of the dictator and fine those who glorify Franco up to 150,000 euros (£138,000).

The mausoleum where Franco’s body lay for more than four decades will also be transformed into a civilian cemetery as part of other changes. School children will be taught about the law.

This is the same law that an earlier article in that same day’s edition reported offers Spanish citizenship to the descendants of Brits who served in the International Brigades that fought against Franco in the Spanish civil war. It’s a great piece of news. Franco was a butcher, who held on to power from the his victory at the end of the civil war to his death in 1975. There’s evidence, but no proof, that he may have been helped launch his rebellion against Spain’s Republican government by our secret services.

Spanish liberals have fought long and hard to overturn his legacy. Spanish archaeologists have faced considerable resistance to the excavation of the mass graves of the old thug’s victims. His mausoleum was particularly offensive. He claimed that it was a monument to everyone who fell in the civil war, regardless of what side they were on. In fact it solely glorified Franco and his Fascists. And he continued to cast a long shadow over Spain even decades after his death. I remember the looks of real horror and fear that came into the face of young Spaniards back in the 1990s at the mere mention of his name.

There was a statue of him on horseback somewhere, which has become a rallying point for Fascist scumbags from across Europe. I don’t know whether that’s still around, but the Spanish people made their own efforts to take it down. Way back in the 1980s its hindquarters were blown off with a bomb. And he was another dictator, who liked having towns and villages named after him. One of these got into the news in 1980s as it changed its name. I can’t remember precisely what the new name was, except that it roughly translated as ‘Our Town’ or ‘Our Village’. Which is obviously better than Pueblo Franco or whatever.

He was like the rest of the dictators in that he was of much less than imposing stature. I’ve got a biography of him somewhere, which said that he was under five foot tall and had a high, piping voice. He was a pious Roman Catholic, and his father had left his mother for another woman, leaving her to bring him up. He was thus very chaste, and so when he was an officer in Spanish north Africa, the other troops thought he was gay because he didn’t visit the brothels.

He was a brutal disciplinarian. When he was an officer in north Africa, he had an Arab/Berber solider shot after the man threw his meal at him. He was ruthless in his treatment of the north Africans, and treated the Spanish the same way in the civil war and his reign afterwards.

It’s great that at last the Spanish have been able to undo his cult, and are offering citizenship to the descendants of the people, who fought against him, and reparations to his victims. It’s just a pity that it’s taken all this time to do it.

Edward Broughton: Mensch

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 18/09/2020 - 10:28pm in

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history

I’ve mentioned Edward Broughton numerous times on this blog, a man of great humanity who responded to the plight of the Jewish internees who were at his command. A quick snippet from one of the grateful internees. So far I’ve read it on each occasion at the three dinners I’ve held to raise money for refugees like a kind of prayer. I love this passage:

Keenly intelligent, well-read, endowed with a superb sense of humour, completely untainted by any racial prejudice… deeply interested in human beings, he did not only gain immediate respect and obedience, but also the love and affection of the unit. He enjoyed hugely being at its head, learned and meticulously respected Jewish customs, and was immensely proud of the unit because of the splendid work it did, humbly unaware of the fact that it was only he who could have turned these people into willing manual labourers. … He engaged in incessant publicity war on our behalf and fought hard to have our status changed, only to be booted out by the Army eventually. After being shoved around as flotsam and jetsam for many years he managed… to make us feel like human beings again. He restored our faith in man, as something more than 92 per cent water and a few chemicals. He was a scholar and a gentleman.

So when I bought my copy of Dunera Lives Volume II with profiles of numerous Dunera Boys in it, I raced to the front of the book and read Broughton’s entry. I asked the publishers of the two volumes, Monash University Press, for permission to publish the profile of Broughton and they agreed and provided me with this pdf file for you pdf file for your delectation. I commend it to you and the book which can be purchased from this link.

Covid and the lessons of the Dreyfus affair

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 18/09/2020 - 7:23pm in

One can tell many stories of how current times resemble some earlier historical period. The conflict between nationalism and internationalism, as personified by the controversies surrounding Brexit and Trump, has been seen as somewhat of a re-run of the conflict between fascism and socialism in the 1930s. The conflict between the West and radical Islam made many think of the crusades. The covid pandemic and its effects has been likened to the Plague, the Spanish Flu and the Asian Flu.

Though they are never perfect, I like looking for such analogies because they give some idea as to the outcomes and the dynamics that are possible. They tell us what humans have been capable of believing and of doing in similar situations as we have now. So I have looked for the historical analogy that best fits the “narrative” aspect of the current covid controversies.

Ask yourself: which historical event had the same combination of an official narrative that had great popular support but was just an ossified mistake versus a small minority narrative that gradually became more and more dominant? The clearest case I can think of is the Dreyfus Affair from 1894-1906. If we are witnessing a repeat of the dynamics of the Dreyfus Affair, there are sobering lessons for both sides of the covid debate. Consider the parallels from my point of view, ie as an avowed “lockdown skeptic”.

Albert Dreyfus was a proud captain in the French army at a time when France was very divided and its army command was very worried about German spies, still smarting from the German invasion of 1871. When it was discovered in 1894 that details of French armament were sold to the Germans, the secret police more or less randomly arrested Dreyfus who was promptly convicted by a tribunal and sentenced to life imprisonment on “Devil’s Island”, a notorious prison camp with conditions few survived for long.

Albert’s brother Matthieu was a man with very powerful connections and could call upon Jewish solidarity with an accused member. For instance, the Rothschild’s of London took up Dreyfus’ case. So a lot of money lined up to fight Albert’s cause. The evidence in the case was so pitiful that intellectuals with all kinds of ideologies (socialist, anarchist, pacifist, etc.) got organised as ‘Dreyfusards’. They wrote petitions, held rallies, lobbied politicians, encouraged high-ranking officials to start new investigations, etc.

Initially, the Dreyfusards got nowhere. Over 99% of the politicians (but not all!) affirmed the conviction in a parliamentary vote. Books were written on the evil influence of Jews in France. Newspapers were full of disinformation. Officialdom celebrated Albert’s conviction. The population was totally on the side of the army. It was a time of hysteria.

In 1896 there was a breakthrough in that a new investigation actually found the culprit who even confessed to selling secrets to the Germans. How did the French army react? They posted the investigating officer (the head of the secret service no less!) somewhere far away, took no notice of the confession and even paid the culprit to stay away and keep quiet. In a new trial, they simply convicted Dreyfus again, dismissing the new evidence. Once more, the majority of the population rejoiced.

Now the Dreyfusards really got going, buoyed by their belief that they were onto a winner and that the case was all they hoped for: evidence of all the ills of authority and whatever else they thought was wrong with France at that time. They managed to improve the actual conditions of Dreyfus stuck on his island so that at least he’d survive, basically by bribing and threatening the key authorities involved. They organised more rallies, petitions, etc., the most famous of which was the “J’accuse” letter by Emile Zola, who was then the eminence grise of French literature. In that famous letter he accused the entire elite of France of all manner of evils, a libelous accusation he knew they would put him into jail for. Which they did.

The force of the argument, as well as that of the international press and the money on the side of the Dreyfusards built up the pressure, such that in 1899 there was another high-profile trial in which the commanders of the French army stood accused of stupidity, cover-ups, and all the other things they had actually done. The jury consisted of junior French army officers who exonerated their own army commanders and duly convicted Dreyfus again, despite the international media mocking their convoluted arguments. Mainly to get rid of the pressure, the French president then offered Dreyfus a presidential pardon, which he took, much to the chagrin of the Dreyfusards who wanted him to refuse out of principle and keep going with court cases.

The Dreyfusards fell apart a bit after that, particularly because it turned out Albert Dreyfus had no interest in being a rebel or to blame those who had him imprisoned unfairly for 5 years. All he wanted was to get back into the army and fight wars for France. He got that wish in 1906 when a 6th and last trial finally exonerated him, after which he promptly reapplied to the French army, which took him and gave him a promotion. Later on he got wounded by a fervent nationalist still smarting about the case, but he survived and fought in the first world war, getting all sorts of medals. He died in 1935. The anti-antisemitism that was fanned by officialdom during the 1894-1906 period has been seen as a factor in the vicious behaviour of the Vichy-regime of 1940-1944.

Now, I see many parallels between the narrative dynamics of the Dreyfus Affair and the covid debates now increasingly raging.

The modern Dreyfusards are all those railing against the imprisonment of the population (lock downs and social distancing), starting with very few initially but gradually growing in strength. They are a motley crew from all kinds of persuasions with totally different hopes for what happens once they are seen to be right. They have all kinds of beliefs as to what lead to the initial hysteria and the imprisonments, most of which are absurd conspiracy stories. They have some money and power behind them, namely from the business community and parts of the artistic and intellectual elites. They can all see the suffering of the population and the absurdity of the arguments concocted to keep the hysteria and imprisonment going, but they hit a solid wall of authority, the popular appeal of the hysteria, and legions of intellectual enablers.

The modern opponents of the Dreyfusards are authority, institutionalised health advisers, most of politics, and the institutionalised arbiters of truth. Whilst the French courts in 1894-1905 made absurd ruling after absurd ruling, today’s regulators, Lancet editors, and many ‘scientists’ equally contort themselves into bizarre twists to rationalise previous decisions and the instincts of the public. At least, from my perspective!

The discovery in April-June 2020 that covid was nowhere near as lethal as previously said, whilst the effects of the imprisonment were just as bad as foretold, is like the confession of the actual culprit in the Dreyfus case in 1896. And, like then, the revelation that the entire basis of all the previous decisions was completely wrong, something already known by a handful at the start, has made little difference to authority or the arbiters of truth. At least, not in the short run. Authority doubles down and uses covid for an increasingly destructive agenda, aided by the majority of the population who doesn’t want to believe they have been fooled.

Like then, the modern Dreyfusards initially have had to operate on the fringes of the media but are gradually becoming more mainstream. Like then, the early Dreyfusards  dreamed truth would prevail in a matter of months, disappointed at every turn at how long it takes and how intransigent authority and its intellectual enablers can be if their own honour is at stake.

I think this last element is what draws me most to the Dreyfus analogy: the involvement of a sense of honour on the side of those who insist the right choices have been made. It is not so much that they truly think they are doing the right thing right now, but more that they are incensed by the open suggestion that they f*cked up big time initially and have been covering up every subsequent step of the way. They feel their honour is at stake and they extend that personal indignation: to question them is to question authority, the nation, science, and reason itself. As with the Dreyfus affair, this time round a growing group inside authority know exactly what is happening, but at the same time a large group has convinced itself and will probably never recant.

The analogy contains a very sobering thought for the modern Dreyfusards, which of course includes me. If the same pattern holds now as then, the population will not be grateful for being saved from the follies of authority and the absurdity of their intellectual enablers, but will flock back to authority immediately after being released. The vast majority of authority and enablers will then survive in their position, wreaking more havoc at some later point. The hopes of the modern Dreyfusards will largely be proven vain, and the origins of the most memorable slogans of the fight (“J’accuse”) will be forgotten.

So I really do hope the analogy is less than perfect.

Book Review: The Price of Peace: Money, Democracy, and the Life of John Maynard Keynes by Zachary D. Carter

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 17/09/2020 - 9:18pm in

In The Price of Peace: Money, Democracy, and the Life of John Maynard KeynesZachary D. Carter offers a new intellectual biography tracing the life and legacy of the influential economist, which argues that in the years since Keynes’s death, Keynesian economics has been stripped of Keynesian thought. Weaving together a dazzling array of Keynes’s private letters, journalistic works and academic research, this accessible book may help to hasten Keynes’s revival, writes Stephen Paduano

The Price of Peace: Money, Democracy, and the Life of John Maynard Keynes. Zachary D. Carter. Penguin Random House. 2020.

In the long run, economists will be like dentists, according to John Maynard Keynes. This was one of the loftier aspirations of the great economist’s 1930 essay, ‘Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren’. Surveying the recent wonders of technological innovation and the ‘power of compound interest’, Keynes proposed that in 100 years the living standard would have improved eight-fold, the working week would have collapsed to just fifteen hours and the ‘love of money’ would be revealed as a ‘disgusting morbidity […] semicriminal, semipathological’. Under these conditions, economics would be akin to dentistry, he claimed, an apolitical field whose ‘humble, competent’ practitioners would do little more than set the odd problem straight. Needless to say, in order to arrive at this ‘destination of economic bliss’, one must listen to Keynes.

There is little denial that the world has lent Keynes its ear, and there is little debate that some of his economic policies have been broadly accepted. Generations of economists have organised themselves around and in response to his work. Central bankers and policymakers continue to turn to Keynes when recession looms. With US President Richard Nixon having declared that ‘We are all Keynesians now’, and US Vice President Dick Cheney allegedly agreeing that ‘Deficits don’t matter’, it would seem that even the most recalcitrant conservatives — Keynes’s lifelong opponents — have been converted.

But the bliss that Keynes envisioned has not yet arrived. Why?

In The Price of Peace: Money, Democracy, and the Life of John Maynard Keynes, Zachary D. Carter argues that much to the detriment of the economics discipline and the world, Keynesian economics has been stripped of Keynesian thought.

The story of how this has happened is a riveting and maddening tale about textbook selection, tenure appointments, financial browbeating, presidential politics, elite conspiracies and more. All in all, it would take not only the death of Keynes but also the actions of McCarthyists in Washington, investment bankers in New York, craven university administrators across the United States and a proto-Koch Brothers furniture magnate named Harold Luhnow in Missouri to silence Keynes’s students and suppress his philosophy.

But to understand Keynes’s thoughts and vision, the philosophical essence that has been removed from his more formulaic work on macroeconomics, The Price of Peace begins with an enchanting biography of the man himself. It traces Keynes’s intellectual evolution, from his time as a proud imperialist studying at Eton and Cambridge to a peacenik, leftist visionary who debated with the likes of Bertrand Russell (a mentor of his at Cambridge) and Ludwig Wittgenstein (with whom he kept a correspondence about the philosophy of science even as the Austrian-born logician fought on the frontlines of World War One). It follows Keynes’s avant-garde adventures with the ‘Bloomsbury Set’ and his desire to be accepted by this irreverent friendship group of authors and artists, Virginia Woolf among them, who were often dismissive of Keynes’s lifework. To round out the portrait of a man often at odds with his times, the book also shines light on Keynes’s love affairs, his well-catalogued trysts with men, followed by a runaway romance with Lydia Lopokova, the celebrated Russian ballerina, whom he married in 1925 and with whom he was able to make sense of the emerging Soviet Union.

Weaving together a dazzling array of Keynes’s and his acquaintances’ private letters, journalistic works and academic research, Carter demonstrates how Keynes shaped the world that was born in the volatile beginning of the twentieth century, with his outsized contributions to the field of economics, US and UK domestic politics and the international monetary system. Endearingly, Carter goes on to show how the dramatic events of those years reshaped Keynes, making him and his ideas more ambitious, benevolent and radical at every turn.

Although Keynes wanted his discipline to become like dentistry, at its core his economics was a sweeping, far-reaching philosophy. ‘Not so much a school of economic thought as a spirit of radical optimism,’ Carter writes. Keynes hoped to make the world not only fairer and more prosperous, the standard domains of economists on the left, but also more peaceful and more beautiful. To do so, he argued that nations could and should spend their way to such a blissful future. ‘Were the Seven Wonders of the world built by Thrift?’ Keynes asked in A Treatise on Money. ‘I deem it doubtful.’

But then, on Easter Sunday 1946, Keynes died, and his vision, Carter recounts, died too.

The assault on Keynesianism began a year after his death, with the not-famous-enough saga of Elements of Economics. This was the first and most important textbook of Keynesian economics, published by Lorie Tarshis in 1947, which immediately became verboten during the Red Scare, the period of McCarthyist anxieties about Communist infiltration and subversion in the US that ran from the late 1940s through to the late 1950s. Soon Elements of Economics was renounced and discarded by universities throughout the US and replaced by a new (and approved) textbook: Economics by Paul Samuelson. Samuelson’s alternative offered a ‘neoclassical’ compromise between Keynes and his critics, swapping out Keynes’s emphasis on the irrational ‘animal spirits’ of the market with an ultra-rational, profit-maximising model. It would serve as an economics beginner’s manual for decades to come.

With Wall Street bankers and McCarthyist fearmongers chasing Keynesians out of politics and academia, a new generation of market fundamentalists was born. Behind this transnational assault on left economics and the aggressive propagation of more conservative ideas was an unlikely figure: the heir to a furniture fortune in the Midwest, Harold Luhnow, who helped to found the free-marketeer Mont Pelerin Society and financially supported the careers of Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman and Ludwig von Mises, among others.

But some good ideas are too good to be discarded. Low interest rates and fiscal stimulus in times of recession, as opposed to Hayek’s competing prescription of starving the market to allow the business cycle (and suffering) to go on unimpeded, happened to be irresistible after the Great Depression of 1929-39. And when such stimulus could take the policy form of ramped-up military expenditures as it did during World War Two, or upper-class tax cuts as it did under US President John F. Kennedy, even warmongers and plutocrats could cosy up to Keynes. Hence Nixon could say, only mildly sardonically, ‘We are all Keynesians now’, having put (unlawful) pressure on Federal Reserve Chairman Arthur Burns to slash the discount rate from 6% to 4.5% between 1970 and 1972 in an attempt to juice the economy and fix the 1972 Presidential election.

Likewise, US President Ronald Reagan would run record deficits, hitting $221 billion in 1986 (482), through a combination of tax cuts and increased military expenditures, not only in service to his political vision but also to revive the economy after the recession of the early 1980s. When the purportedly small-government, balanced-budget Republicans returned to office in 2001, they too revealed themselves to be adherents to a Frankensteinian philosophy of ‘Reactionary Keynesianism’, embracing deficit spending as they cut the top marginal tax rate from 39.6% to 35% and embarked on foreign wars.

‘Keynes’ pleasant daydream was turned into a nightmare of terror,’ warned Joan Robinson, a trusted academic colleague of Keynes at Cambridge and, to my mind, the undeclared heroine of the book. With the Republicans’ spending priorities and war habits, the ‘nightmare of terror’ was indeed becoming clear. But throughout The Price of Peace, what is portrayed as a greater disappointment is how Democrats perverted and abandoned Keynes all the same.

Following Franklin D. Roosevelt’s presidency, when Keynes’s influence made its debut and reached its high-water mark, and after US President Lyndon B. Johnson’s ‘Great Society’, when a valiant if diluted strain of Keynesianism re-entered the scene, Democrats have gradually become not only less ambitious, but also less sure of their intellectual legitimacy, Carter argues. This is not to say there is a shortage of collegiate elitism in the Democratic Party, but rather that the Party’s collegiate elites have abandoned what knowledge Keynes gave them and embraced a garden variety of conservative economic values: belt tightening, budget balancing, private-sector efficiency and, above all, artificial limits on the possibilities of economic policy.

Through to the present, Carter laments, the Democratic Party has had a habit of resisting the insights of philosophically ambitious and academically rigorous economists. Instead, party leaders often turn to those whom Paul Krugman, the Keynesian, Nobel-Prize-winning economist, calls VSPs — ‘Very Serious People’. The Democratic Party’s VSPs are the tough but fair business elites and pundits who just give the facts, which often come in the form of opinions about runaway inflation in the event of government spending, capital flight in the event of new taxes and other legislative excuses for why this or that just won’t work. When former Delaware Senator Ted Kaufman, a confidante of Joe Biden, recently batted down the idea of a sustained COVID-19 stimulus programme by saying, ‘When we get in, the pantry is going to be bare’, he was Very Serious indeed.

At times, Carter plunges the reader into a deep intellectual depression and gives the sense that Keynes was and will be another one of history’s Cassandras—always right but never believed. Why didn’t US Treasury official Harry Dexter White adopt Keynes’s supranational currency, ‘bancor’, at the 1944 Bretton Woods conference? Why didn’t Winston Churchill listen to Keynes before his ruinous decision to reinstate the gold standard in 1925? (For what it’s worth, Churchill would later quip, ‘Everybody said that I was the worst Chancellor of the Exchequer that ever was. And now I’m inclined to agree with them.’) And why oh why didn’t UK Prime Minister David Lloyd George just trust Keynes on dropping German war reparations in 1919, the impossible financial obligations that stoked the flames of German nationalism before World War Two? In the long run Keynes was dead; the arch-conservatives and capitalists killed him off, Carter writes. But in the short run his ideas, no matter how true and good they were, weren’t particularly alive either. What could bring Keynes back today?

Taking a page from Keynes’s ‘radical optimism’, Carter remains hopeful that Keynes, his economic insights and his philosophical ambitions may yet return to the left in the US. ‘In the long run’, Carter concludes, ‘almost anything is possible’. He is not wrong. In recent years, the growing and unflinching US left has shunned the Democratic Party’s VSPs and brought in post-Keynesian thinkers, living and dead, to make sense of the country’s (and the Party’s) problems. But it is early days for this movement, and it would be premature to rejoice in Keynes’s revival. For him to come back, he must be brought back. Fortunately, The Price of Peace, accessible for general readers, academics and VSPs alike, may help hasten Keynes’s return.

Note: This review gives the views of the author, and not the position of the LSE Review of Books blog, or of the London School of Economics.

Image Credit: Cropped photograph of Assistant Secretary, US Treasury, Harry Dexter White (left) and John Maynard Keynes (right), honorary advisor to the UK Treasury at the inaugural meeting of the International Monetary Fund’s Board of Governors in Savannah, Georgia, US, 8 March 1946 (IMF Public Domain).

 


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