Libertarianism

Error message

Deprecated function: The each() function is deprecated. This message will be suppressed on further calls in _menu_load_objects() (line 579 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/menu.inc).

Furious! Tories Include NHS in Secret Trade Deal with Trump

I’m afraid it’s taken me a few days to get round to this story, but it’s partly because this whole, shabby deal has made me so enraged. Mike put up a piece a few days ago reporting that the Tories have lied to us. Despite their fervent denials, they have put the NHS on the table to Donald Trump. This means the privatisation of the NHS as a whole comes that bit closer, and medicines are going to be more expensive. Because what Trump’s donors in big pharma really hate is a big state machine demanding value for money and affordable drugs. Some of us still remember the moan of one of these company heads when he took over the firm making the anti-AIDS drugs. He immediately raised the price to exorbitant amounts as he didn’t want to make them for poor Indians. I think his name was Martin Shkreli, and he was torn to shreds for his disgusting attitude on social media. But the attitude against supplying cheap drugs is still there.

Mike in his article pointed out how the Tories lied to us. Jeremy Corbyn told the public the truth. He presented the evidence, but was shouted down by the paid liars of corporate media, who carried on smearing him and his followers as anti-Semites. As Mike showed, one of those claiming that the NHS was not going to be included in the deal was Laura Kuenssberg. She claimed it would be far too unpopular. Well, it would be if more people knew about it, I suppose. But it’s been kept off the front page so far by the scandal about Russian interference, so I’m guessing that the Tories hope that their grubby deal has been successfully buried.

Mike also pointed out in his article that the Tories have a proprietorial attitude towards the Health Service. It isn’t ours, it’s theirs, and they can, in their view, do what the devil they like with it. There’s so much truth in this. When David Cameron was busy preparing the dismemberment of the NHS eight years ago with his disgusting Health and Social Care bill, there was a meme showing just how many Tory and other MPs were connected to private healthcare companies, or companies supplying the NHS, that would stand to profit from the deal. And there was no shortage of them – over 100. This is all for the profit of Dodgy Dave, Bozo and their friends and donors in private healthcare.

It also shows how little libertarian internet personality Sargon of Gasbag really knows about free market capitalism as it really exists, as opposed to the idealised version he’s taken over from the panting disciples of von Hayek, Mises and Milton Friedman. When the possibility that the Tories would include it in the deal with Trump first broke, the Sage of Swindon put up a piece on YouTube denying that such a deal would be made. This was because no private businessman would want it.

Sargon obviously hasn’t been paying attention for the past couple of decades. Because ever since John Major’s time American companies have been desperate to get their claws into Britain’s NHS. It began with the private healthcare insurance fraudsters Unum, who advised Major’s health secretary, Peter Lilley. And when Major lost the 1997 election to Blair, Unum simply moved in there. Along with other American companies. Blair even decided he wanted to remodel the commissioning system of the NHS on American private healthcare company Kaiserpermanente, because he thought mistakenly they were able to provide better value for money.

The Tories and the media lied to the British public. As Mike states in his article, the Tories are inveterate liars. But they succeeded in getting the British public to believe them, handing them an 80 seat majority. Because Boris was going ‘to get Brexit done’. And Brexit would be absolutely wonderful, we’d be able to have all these wonderful trade deals made on our terms without the interference of the EU. And we wouldn’t have to worry about all the nasty bureaucracy we’d need to travel to or trade with the Continent, because all that was just lies dreamed up by Project Fear.

That was also a lie, as Zelo Street has also shown in his articles about it. No-one is queuing up to trade with us on our terms. The Japanese have made it very clear that any deal they make with us will be very much on theirs. And I have no doubt Donald Trump has made the same point. Outside the great trading block of the EU, we are very weak and vulnerable. The Tories need Trump’s trade deal, and so it was almost inevitable that despite their weasely denials, they’d fold and give into him.

Not that selling off the NHS isn’t something they haven’t wanted to do since Margaret Thatcher planned on doing it in the 1980s. Or when a section of the Tories in 1948 refused to back the NHS as it was too expensive, and then returned in the 1950s to demand its denationalisation.

If this deal goes through, it will bring even closer the Tories’ dream of replacing the NHS with a private healthcare system, funded through private health insurance. Where if you don’t have the cash, you try getting your treatment from medicare or the charity hospital. Something like 20 per cent of Americans can’t afford their health insurance. As Mike says, 3/4 of all bankruptcies in the US come from Americans unable to pay their medical bills.

It will mean a return to the terrible, deeply unequal provision of medical care that existed before Labour’s foundation of the NHS in 1948. When millions of working people couldn’t afford the doctor. And what is also boiling my blood is that Nandy and Starmer are complicit in this privatisation. Blair would also liked to have privatised the NHS, although I think he would still have kept it funded by the state. But Nandy revealed on the Andrew Marr show that she and Starmer would also have kept the NHS’ inclusion in Trump’s trade talks secret as well.

British working men and women are being sold into grinding poverty, debt, despair, starvation, illness and death for the corporate profit of a Thatcherite political and media class. Mike in his piece comments about how generous the Beeb and newspaper hacks, who stand by when deals like this are being made and dutifully keep their keyboards and mouths shut, or hail it as a success in bringing more private investment into the NHS, are rewarded with personal private healthcare cover for themselves.

Because you can bet that they have. Just as Tory bigwigs have connections to the big private healthcare firms slavering to buy up the NHS.

Here’s how the Tories reneged on their promises to protect ‘our’ NHS

https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2020/07/brexit-ball-and-chain-exposed.html

https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2020/07/brexiteers-meet-project-reality.html

Boris Johnson Is Not the New, British FD Roosevelt

It’s the first of July, the beginning of a new month, and a new set of lies, falsehoods, spin and propaganda from our clownish and murderous government. Yesterday, BoJob announced he was going to spend his way out of the recession caused by the Coronavirus lockdown. £5 billion would be spent on public services. Michael Gove hailed this as a ‘New Deal’, like F.D. Roosevelt’s for ’30s America.

No. No, it isn’t. Mike and Zelo Street have both published articles tearing great, bloody holes in this latest piece of monstrous spin. Zelo Street’s concentrates on the failings of Roosevelt’s original New Deal. Apparently it didn’t really begin to pay off until Roosevelt’s second term, because the great president was himself too committed to the economic orthodoxy of the time. This was to reduce government spending during a recession. Mike’s article, from what I’ve seen of it, dismantles Johnson’s promises. How much can we really trust them? Remember those forty hospitals Johnson told us the Tories were going to build. They weren’t, and aren’t. It was more lies and the number that were actually going to built was much, much lower. I think about six. The rest were going to be additions to existing hospitals, that had already been planned. And the numbers that were going to be built were far lower than those which were to be closed, either wholly or partially.

Everything says that this latest announcement of Johnson’s is exactly the same. More lies, and more promises that are going to be quietly broken later on.

And then there’s the matter of the amount Boris has said he intends to spend. £5 billion is an enormous amount, but Johnson has proudly boasted of spending such sums before. Like when he announced he was going to splurge out on renovating the country’s rail network. Zelo Street then put up an analysis of the figures and how much actually building new stations would actually cost, and the amount fell far, far short of what Johnson was actually claiming. I suspect that the £5 billion Johnson is now trying to get us all to believe he intends to spend is similar. It’s an impressive amount, but in reality much, much less than what’s actually needed.

And you can also bet it’s going to be lower than what our former partners in the EU are spending to get their economies started again. Recently, Private Eye published a piece attacking the Tories’ previous claim that leaving the EU would allow us to spend more on our economy. They compared what our government was spending with what France, Germany and some others were. They’re actually spending more than we are, which also demolishes the Tories’ claim that it was EU legislation that was preventing the government from spending more on the economy. No surprise there. The Tories have consistently lied about the European Union being the source of the country’s ills when the reverse has been true, and they themselves are responsible for the disastrous policies that have decimated our country and its people.

And when a right-wing British politico starts shouting about a ‘New Deal’, it’s always bad news.

Tony Blair similarly announced his new deal to tackle unemployment at the beginning of his government. He was going to introduce new reforms to encourage firms to take on workers. In fact, this was the wretched ‘welfare to work’ or ‘workfare’ policy, in which the unemployed would be sent to work for corporate giants like the supermarkets in return for the Jobseeker’s Allowance. If they didn’t go, no unemployment relief. As was documented by Private Eye, inter alia, the scheme does not help anyone get jobs. In fact, in the case of a geography graduate it actually stopped her getting the job she wanted. She was looking for work in a museum and had something in that line arranged as voluntary work. But the DWP insisted she work stacking shelves for Tesco or Sainsbury’s or whoever instead. It’s actually been found that if you’re unemployed, you are far more likely to get a job through your own efforts rather than through workfare.

And there’s another huge difference between the Tories and F.D. Roosevelt:

Roosevelt laid the foundations of an American welfare state. The Tories are destroying ours.

Roosevelt introduced some basic welfare reforms, like state unemployment relief. It wasn’t extensive, but it was something. The Republicans in America and the Tories over here hate the welfare state with a passion. It’s supposed to be subsidizing idleness and responsible for cross-generational pockets in which whole communities haven’t worked. The libertarianism which entered the American Republican party with the victory of Ronald Reagan was at heart concerned with reversing Roosevelt’s welfare reforms. Although it’s very carefully obscured now, it’s why the Libertarian’s magazine, Reason, in the mid-70s devoted an entire issue to denying the Holocaust. This featured articles by genuine neo-Nazis. This was vile in itself, but it was motivated by an underlying desire to undo Roosevelt’s legacy. FDR had been the president, who took America into the Second World War. This is seen as a good war, because of Nazis’ horrific genocide of the Jewish people, as well as others, though they rarely get a mention these days. If the Libertarians and their Nazi allies could prove that the Holocaust didn’t happen, it would discredit America’s entry into the War and make further attacks on Roosevelt and the New Deal plausible.

One of the reasons why he introduced unemployment benefit, such as it was, was because if you give money to workers during a recession, their spending will stimulate the economy.

But the Tories hate the idea of unemployment benefit and the workers actually having any money. They are the party of low wages, conditionality and benefit sanctions. Thatcher viewed the Victorians’ attitude that conditions should be made as hard as possible for the poor to encourage them not to rely on state assistance and agree to take work no matter how poor the wages and conditions as a ‘virtue’. It was one of her wretched ‘Victorian values’. During her reign, you couldn’t get away from her and the rest of her scummy party prating on about rolling back the frontiers of the state and the need to abolish the welfare state. The rhetoric has since quietened down and been modified, so that instead of abolishing the welfare state they talk about reforming it to target those who are genuinely in need. But the ideology hasn’t changed.

As a result, the British welfare state is in tatters. One organisation dealing with poverty and hunger in this country has stated that they’ve torn such great holes in it that it no longer functions. You can see this by the way unemployment has shot up so that one in four people is now claiming Universal Credit.

This isn’t just due to the Coronavirus. It’s due to the forty-year long Tory assault on the welfare state.

Johnson isn’t the new FDR. He’s the exact opposite – the destroyer of unemployment benefit and killer of those who need it.

See: https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2020/06/bozo-is-not-franklin-roosevelt.html

New deal? No deal! We can’t accept a plan for the future from the failed PM who deliberately wrecked it

Private Eye on the People behind Darren Grimes’ Reasoned UK

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 07/06/2020 - 6:56pm in

The week before last, Zelo Street published a piece about the launch of Reasoned UK, a right-wing propaganda outfit headed by a former member of Guido Fawkes, Darren Grimes. This fortnight’s issue of Private Eye, for 5th to 18th June 2020, also covers the launch. And it comes to much the same conclusions Zelo Street has. Far from being an original, grassroots organisation, this is just another piece of astroturf. While Grimes claims its YouTube channel is going to post original content, Private Eye shows that it has strong links to a number of similar American Conservative organisations and their British subsidiaries. The Eye’s article, on page 16, runs

Grimes Spree

Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practise to BeLeave!

No sooner had Inspector Knacker announced the end of his investigation into Darren Grimes and Vote Leave last month, than the irrepressible ex-BeLeaver Grimes quit his day job at the Institute of Economic Affairs and launched a new “online grassroots organisation and video channel”, Reasoned UK. It aims to “challenge the pervasive left-wing bias in online content” by putting up a “mix of entertaining and informative content to help viewers reach their own informed opinions”.

Although Grimes boasts of its “NEW ORIGINAL CONTENT”, the Reasoned YouTube channel has in fact been rebranded from an earlier one called, er, Reason. Among those starring in Reason videos were Guido Fawkes hack Tom Harwood, recently seen defending Dominic Cummings round-the-clock on all TV channels; Chloe Westley, then of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, now a special advisor in No. 10; and Steven Edginton, former head of Digital at the Brexit Party, now at the Sun.

It’s unclear who was behind Reason, but the small print of Reasoned’s privacy policy reveals that Grimes’s “online grassroots organisation” is run by a Borehamwood-based company called Media and Activism. This turns out to be the same company behind conservative “youth” group Turning Point UK, in which Grimes, Harwood, Westley and Eginton have all been involved. The sole director, Oliver Anisfeld, is the son of the smoked-salmon tycoon and former Brexit Party MEP Lance Forman.

Not so much grassroots as Astroturf, perhaps. Bit Reasoned isn’t all that NEW, is its content at least ORIGINAL? Not exactly. Just as TPUK is a pale imitation of Turning Point USA, so the snazzy video in which Grimes makes his call to arms is mostly a word-for-word repeat of one produced by Prager University (PragerU) – which, confusingly, isn’t a university but an American outfit that makes right-wing videos and works closely with TPUSA.

The original from which Darren takes his script features American libertarian and TPUSA supporter Dave Rubin talking about the “Bravery Deficit”, the suggestion that conservatives are afraid to stand up for what they believe. Lo and behold, the Reasoned website also features a page headed “Bravery Deficit” – and a 45-minute video promoting Rubin’s new book.

Zelo Street’s article doesn’t go into quite so much detail, but it did quote a Tweet from ‘Loki’, who claimed that Reasoned UK was the youth wing of the IEA. Which prompted Zelo Street to ask whether Grimes really had left the organisation or not. As for the scintillating opinion-formers that are to appear on the channel, so far their Twitter feed has included mad islamophobe Melanie Phillips, and the noxious Brendan O’Neil of Spiked. Just the kind of people to galvanise Conservative British youth!

Grimes himself has something of a chip on his shoulder. He believes that he is snubbed and sidelined by the mainstream media because he is not university educated. There’s nothing wrong with not having been to uni. A university education doesn’t necessarily mean that someone is more intelligent or better morally, as shown by the all the Oxbridge and Eton-educated fools, thieves and mass murderers in Bozo’s government. What is more significant is that Grimes at best gets his facts wrong, and at wrong lies shamelessly and frequently. So he’s a typical Tory then.

He also looks very young in the picture Zelo Street has of him in its articles. He looks little older than Harry Potter! He doesn’t look old enough to vote, let alone be telling everyone else how to.

The fact that Reasoned UK is just a warmed-up, rebranded version of Reasoned doesn’t bode well for its future. Let’s hope that it’s no long before this worthless, mendacious organisation bites the dust.

 

 

BLM Protests – Brillo Retweets Far Right Conspiracy Theorist

Remember when Andrew ‘Brillo Pad’ Neil had Alex Jones on his programme years ago? This resulted in farce when Neil asked the right-wing, Libertarian Jones about guns and the high rate of shootings in America. I think it came in the wake of yet another crazed gunman going into a school, shopping mall, church, synagogue or mosque or somewhere and shooting innocents. The right to bear arms is sacrosanct to Republicans and Libertarians, and so Jones responded with a long rant about how Americans will never give their firearms up and that there’d be another 1776 if anyone like Britain tried. He then started screaming nonsense, including ‘metal shark!’ at one point. The camera pulled away from Jones to show Brillo making the ‘nutter’ sign behind his head.

It’s a debatable but fair question whether Jones is mad. He’s promoted some immensely stupid theories, like the Democrat Party operating a paedophile ring out of a Boston pizza parlour, that Obama was the Antichrist, Hillary Clinton a Satanist cyborg, and that the world is being run by ‘the Globalists’ intent on enslaving humanity and turning us all into dehumanised cyborgs to serve demons or malevolent aliens. He is most notorious for ranting about how ‘they’ were putting chemicals in the water ‘to turn the frickin’ frogs gay’. He’s been widely ridiculed for that, but as Blissex, one of the great commenters on this blog reminded me on another post about Jones, he does have a point. Frogs and other amphibians are suffering from industrial pollutants that mimic female hormones and so cause reproductive abnormalities in males. Jones pushes all manner of outlandish theories, but some people have said that off-air he’s calm and rational, and his bizarre antics on camera may just be to garner viewers.

Whatever the real state of Jones’ mind, Brillo is now no longer in a position to sneer at Jones for pushing whacky and dangerous conspiracy theories. Because now he’s done it himself. Yesterday Zelo Street reported that Neil had taken exception to criticism of his comments on a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Colorado, and retweeted the bonkers comments by Spectator USA contributor Andy Ngo. Nadine Batchelor-Hunt had responded to his approving comments about the demonstration in Colorado by telling him that as a White guy, he shouldn’t be telling Black people how to protest. This is essentially the same point some Black Civil rights leaders in America in the 1960s told their White supporters when they said they should ‘be in their own space’. The result was the formation of a radical, White, working-class identity movement, which was crucially anti-racist as some of the White poor turned to their own situation and demanded change. I can’t see Brillo, former editor of the Sunday Times, the Economist and head of the Spectator board, wanting to see that develop. He replied “Looks like most of the folks protesting are white. I’m not telling anybody what they should do; just approving of a particular form of protest. Why make an issue of my colour. I don’t take kindly to what people tell me I should or should not do”.

Zelo Street commented that this was a remark from his privileged perspective. I think however, that Neil has the right to make whatever comment he likes about the protest. It might seem condescending, but people have the right to their own opinions whatever colour they are. But then the great newsman went overboard, and retweeted this from the Speccie’s sister paper.

“‘We are witnessing glimmers of the full insurrection the far-left has been working toward for decades. The killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis was merely a pre-text for radicals to push their ambitious insurgency,’ writes [Andy Ngo]”.

Ngo is a member of the American far right, despite being Asian. He wrote a farcical piece about Islam in Britain, ‘A Visit to Islamic Britain’ for Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal, and has hosted the infamous Carl Benjamin, the man who broke UKIP, on his podcast. Zelo Street commented that it was shameful for the Speccie to give Ngo a platform, and even more so for Brillo to retweet him. They also wondered if BBC News and Current Affairs would take a dim view of being linked with Ngo through Neil. And this is apart from some of the deeply unpleasant characters who write for the British Spectator, like the anti-Semitic supporter of the Greek neo-Nazi Golden Dawn, Taki.

See: https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2020/06/brillo-boosts-far-right.html

The American far right is riddled with bizarre conspiracy theories. When Obama was ensconced in the Oval Office there were any number of loons proclaiming that he was an anti-White racist who would immediately launch a genocide of Whites. Or that he was closet Muslim, who would impose the Shariah. Or a Nazi, Communist or militant atheist. Jones ranted that Obama would become absolute dictator by declaring a state of emergency, suspending the rule of law and forcing Americans into FEMA camps. It didn’t happen. There are also loony conspiracy theories going around the American and British right about ‘cultural Marxists’ trying to create a new Communist dictatorship through destroying traditional, Christian morality and replacing it with multiculturalism and gay and trans rights. It’s a garbled misreading of Gramsci’s theories of hegemony, and ultimately has its roots in the Nazis’ denunciation of ‘cultural Bolshevism’.

But I’ve got a feeling that the Spectator USA always was a haven for demented conspiracy theories. Way back in the 1990s a magazine with a very similar name, The American Spectator, and a group of Sunday Times journos, got it into their heads that Bill Clinton was at the heart of a vast criminal conspiracy. They believed that Slick Willy was importing drugs from Latin America through a secret airbase in Arizona. Anyone who crossed or otherwise displeased him was then executed by his gangsters. This theory was partly based on the real fact that about 19 of his aides had died, but investigations had shown that their demise had absolutely nothing to do with Clinton. The conspiracy theories were even later denounced and ridiculed by a former believer, one of the ‘Clinton Crazies’. Adam Curtis has discussed this bizarre affair in one of his excellent documentaries.

It looks to me that The American Spectator was a previous incarnation of The Spectator USA, and that, despite the Clinton Crazies having come and gone, there still is a paranoid mentality out there. And Brillo, as former editor of the Sunday Times, and head of the Spectator’s board, shares it.

You don’t have to invoke non-existent conspiracies to explain the protests and riots in America. They come from endemic racism, poverty and lack of opportunity, quite apart from the casual killing of Black Americans by the police. This has been simmering away for several years. Now it’s exploded again. What is needed is calm, rationality and justice.

What we don’t need is more stupid, inflammatory rhetoric by Trump, Ngo or Brillo.

On Manegold, Elected Kings, Social Contracts, and the Right to Rebel

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 03/06/2020 - 9:28pm in

Just as the royal dignity and power surpasses all earthly powers, so too the man appointed to exercise it should not be base and infamous but should excel others in wisdom, justice and piety as he does in place and dignity. It is necessary, therefore, that the one who is to have charge of all and govern all should display greater virtue than others and should be careful to exercise the power committed to him with a fine balance of equity; for the people do not exalt him above themselves so as to concede to him an unlimited power of tyrannizing over them, but rather to defend them against the tyranny and wickedness of others. However, when he who is chosen to repress evil-doers and defend the just begins to cherish evil in himself, to oppress good men to exercise over his subjects the cruel tyranny that he ought to ward off from them, is it not clear that he deservedly falls from the dignity conceded to him and that the people are free from his lordship and from subjection to him since it is evident that he first broke the compact by virtue of which he was appointed? Nor can anyone justly or reasonably accuse the people of perfidy when it is evident that he first broke faith with them. To take an example from a meaner sphere, if a man hired someone for a fair wage to look after his swine and then found that he was not caring for them but stealing, killing and destroying them, would not the man withhold the promised wage from him and remove him ignominiously from his task of caring for the swine? Now, if this is observed in base things, that a man who does not care for his swine but destroys them shall not be kept as a swineherd, are there not just and reasonable grounds for maintaining that, in proportion as humans differ from swine, so too it is more fitting that anyone who does not strive to rule his subjects but rather to lead them into error should be deprived of the power and authority over men that he has received? Why should we be surprised if this rule is observed under the Christian religion when the ancient Romans in the days of the illustrious Collatinus and Brutus, refusing to endure the pride of Tarquin because of the shameful deed which his son, not he himself, had perpetrated against the noble matron Lucretia, expelled him and his son from the country and from the kingship, and created a government by two consuls holding office for a year to prevent anyone growing haughty through long exercise of authority. ...

The nature of man excels that of all other living creatures in this, that, being capable of treating by reason whatever has not fallen out by fortuitous hazard, it inquires into the causes of things with rational judgement and considers not only what is done but why it is done. Since then no one can make himself an emperor or king, the people raise some man above themselves for these reasons, to rule and govern them by virtue of his just authority, to apportion to each his own, to protect the good, to repress the wicked and to deal out justice to all. If, however, he breaks the compact by which he was elected and ruins and confounds what he was established to order correctly, reason justly considers that he has absolved the people from their duty of submission to him since he himself first broke the bond of mutual fidelity by which he was bound to them and they to him.--Manegold (ca 1080-185) quoted from Brian Tierney (1988) The Crisis of Church and State, 1050-1300, pp. 78-80. *

Larry Siedentop partially quotes Manegold as one "of the earliest examples of a contractual model for understanding the proper relationship between rulers and ruled" in order to illustrate the idea that is "hardly accidental" social contract theory developed within a Christian context because in it the focus obligation is on individual conscience (249; recall my earlier posts on his Inventing the Individual: The Origins of Western Liberalism; here; here); and here). If one is, say, trying to combat, with a nod ahead to Suarez, the idea that Christianity and liberalism are naturally opposed (as Siedentop is) or, as one could readily imagine, one is trying to undermine the soft-Marxist thought that contractualism as a ruling framework fits or expresses bourgeois ideology (with the rise of property contracts, etc.), then this is attractive thought. And anybody familiar with Locke, and the role Locke played subsequently, will find much that is familiar in Manegold's argument.

Of course, contractualism predates Manegold and is not only to be found in Christianity (recall Glaucon in the Republic; Lucretius.) In fact, some of the most characteristic features of Manegold's argument echo (recall) the writings of Master Mo (also here; here; and here). In particular, both Manegold and Master Mo conceive of the social contract as legitimating elective kingship. In Manegold that is a feature and not a bug because, on behalf of the pope in the so-called investiture controversy, he is criticizing the holy roman emperor who is an elected king (of Germany, but elected by prince-electors).

Of course, when one starts to look more closely at Manegold's argument, one recognizes more distinctive features. First, Manegold explicitly points to (a famous example from) the rebellion that led to the founding of the Roman republic. (And, in fact, initially the two consuls could, not unlike the American Presidency, be understood as elected kings.) I don't know if Livy was circulating then (but here is the story). But either way, part of the significance of Manegold's argument is that Christianity is not itself a source of innovation; that the office of kingship is conditional on good performance in pagan and christian times. Part of the polemical target here is any claim that the king's sacred authority is directly derived from God (through heritable birth-line).

Initially, I wouldn't want to call Manegold's argument 'republican,' but he himself notes its provenance. And if that's right than the contractual features are really illustrative of a deeper insight that rulership is ground in the needs of the people qua people who 'raise' some above them for a functional purpose (the contract, then, illustrates this functional feature). I don't think this is the natural reading for us (post-Hobbesian/Lockean consent). But it would help explain the recurring theme of the people raising/exalting somebody above them. 

Of course, unlike many modern republican and contractualist theorists, Manegold thinks the character of the ruler is significant and that the people do not only require a ruler noted for 'wisdom, justice and piety,' but also one that has "greater virtue than others." The nature of this virtue is moral and political: a ruler's task is to defend the people against the tyranny and wickedness of others, "to apportion to each his own, to protect the good, to repress the wicked and to deal out justice to all."

Manegold does not say, in context, how widespread wickedness is, but clearly his approach requires that at least some people are virtuous and capable of being virtuous while being elevated into considerable power. While it would be misleading to say that Manegold is advocating for philosopher-kings, his rulers are clearly exceptional human types. And just as Locke notes that it would defeat the purpose of a ruler  if he makes "use of the power" not "for the good of those who are under it," so does Manegold.  but for his own private, separate advantage. 

One final point, that the ruler should be a good shepherd is, of course, a biblical trope. But the favored herd is generally not swine. In Plato's Statesman the ruler should be a good shepherd, but I don't recall mention of swine.  The most famous swineherd belongs Odysseus. but the connection with Manegold strikes me as a bit far-fetched. It would be interesting to know more about the valence of swine in Manegold's time. 

But once one thinks about it, it is notable that it's not the swine who pick their own shepherd. And it's not them who contract their shepherd; it's a third party. Rather, an unnamed party (the swineherd's true owners) contract the ruler. Since Manegold is writing on behalf of the pope, it seems natural to assume that his contract analogy is, in part, intended to note the fact that papal authority is one of the interested parties in good rule of the flock. This is, in fact, the natural reading of the material surrounding this passage in the letter (79), which is all about the Church's authority over the king and those that have sworn prior oaths to him. 

So, perhaps a better less liberal reading of Manegold's account of the social contract involves a relationship among ruler and people of mutual fidelity characterized by performance of a socially useful function--that's the republicanism. But the ruler's authority is contracted by or bestowed with the blessing/permission of papal authority. If the ruler fails to perform his socially useful function the people have a right to throw of his yoke, but not because they withhold consent. Rather, the Church removes its consent because the ruler forfeits the right to rule by not serving God's plan for him. It seems like a good time to remind ourselves of this doctrine.

 

 

*I have not found a latin version of the text. When I do I will revisit the argument of the post.

Britain Boos Boris

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 30/05/2020 - 6:49pm in

Last Thursday may well have been the last time Britain ‘claps for carers’. The woman who started it all, I believe, now wants it to end because she feels it’s been politicised. In her view, it’s no longer about applauding and showing appreciation for the tireless heroes of the NHS and care workers seeking to combat this terrible disease.

I can see her point. From the moment it started I wondered if it was also going to be a way Boris and his gang of murderers could bask in their reflected glory. Was it going to be a way Boris could subliminally manipulate the nation’s mood, so that as they clapped for the NHS, they were also clapping him and the measures his government put in place – grudgingly and belatedly? But still, our NHS and care workers deserved it, especially as so many have died, partly due to the government massively fumbling the supplies of PPE. It’s also been a good way to raise morale and bring people together by getting them out of their homes and onto the streets in collective act of celebration. All while maintaining a safe distance, of course.

But now a new collective ritual may be ready to take over from it. A ritual that has absolutely no government sponsorship and definitely does not reflect positively on Johnson and his pack. Last Tuesday, Brits across the country took part in the national ‘Boo for Boris’. Mike posted several of the videos of people booing our incompetent, malign and murderous prime minister across the country, from Canton in Cardiff to Saltaire. One woman even dressed in ancient Celtic costume as ‘Boodica’, to shout her defiance just as the ancient queen of the Iceni stuck it to the Romans. There’s a parallel with modern history there, as well. Boadicea’s rebellion was partly sparked off not just by Roman brutality against her, her sisters and her people, but from economic recession caused by rich Romans like Seneca withdrawing their money from Roman Britain. This is what happens when the rich don’t spread it around and the economy contracts: people get into their spiked chariots and start mowing down the government.

I didn’t take part because, like Mike, I was too shy. But Mike’s article and the piccies he posted of it can be found at:

Britain boos Boris! And about time too…

Sargon of Gasbag, the man who broke UKIP, posted a video denouncing the whole affair. He seemed to think it was like the three-minute hate in Orwell’s 1984, in which the whole nation screamed its hatred of the totalitarian regime’s archetypal state enemy. Like so many of his libertarian fulminations, it’s absolutely wrong. The three-minute hate in 1984 is the total opposite. It’s a consciously staged even by the regime to direct popular hatred away from itself. As such, it’s far more like the regular denunciations we had over the past four years of Jeremy Corbyn as a Communist, Trotskyite, Russian or Czech spy and anti-Semite from the Tory establishment and a complicit, mendacious press. The ‘Boo for Boris’ campaign, on the other hand, was an act of popular discontent and resistance against a government that insists on a stifling control of the media. If there is a a film parallel, it’s probably with broadcast news when people follow the lead of the angry and confused news anchorman by shouting out of their windows that they’re ‘mad as hell’. Though I hope it doesn’t end badly, as it did in that movie.

But as Boris continues to make himself massively unpopular through his support of the unrepentant Cummings, our clown prime minister may well have to suffer more boos to come.

Tories Create Sock Puppet Twitter Accounts to Push Anti-Lockdown Propaganda

The Tories don’t get any better. The party that spent public money on the Institute for Statecraft and its wretched Democracy Initiative, or whatever the wretched organisation was called, to put out anti-Labour, anti-Corbyn propaganda from its army of sympathetic hacks on Twitter has once again been exposed using pretty much the same reprehensible tactics. The pretext for giving the Democracy Initiative our hard earned tax money was to defend democracy against Russian on-line influence. In reality this meant targeting any British or European politico that the right didn’t like. This time there seems to have been absolutely no excuse whatsoever. They did it simply to push propaganda. And when caught the sock accounts were deleted and the Department for Health and Social Care went on the attack, vehemently denying they had done any such thing, and shouting that it was all misinformation that would damage the common effort to combat Coronavirus. Rubbish. The Department was caught red-handed, and it’s got the weaselly paw-prints of the man Zelo Street calls ‘Polecat’ Dom all over it.

Mike put up the story last night. John O’Connell, of the awesome Rightwing Watch, had discovered 128 fake accounts, 9 probable fakes and a further 14, possibles, which had been created by someone at the Department. 43 of those fake accounts used photographs of real NHS staff. One of these was for a deaf NHS junior doctor, ‘Susan’, who was due to transition into someone of the opposite gender. ‘Susan’ gave a shout out to the LGBTQ+ community, and praised Boris Johnson. The photograph used for the Tweet was identified by John Scott as that of Mia Magklavani, a paediatric staff nurse from Greece. The fake accounts were trying to push for the ‘herd immunity’ solution to the crisis, although this changed and instead they were arguing that the lockdown should be lifted.

The DHSC created these sock accounts through a marketing company set up a few months ago. This company apparently only has one client – the DHSC, and a staff of three, all ex-DHSC. The posts were sent using the mass-posting tool Hootsuite, whose account was registered to one person with four assigned contributors. That person is a government employee on temporary secondment to the department.

O’Connell contacted the DHSC about this, naturally making some inquiries. They refused to comment. He also offered to provide all his data to them to help them with an internal inquiry, which they declined. He also asked to deal directly with their Soc Med and Comms teams to work through their data. They refused that offer too. When he asked for further comment, he got this reply from the Department:

These claims are categorically false.

To share disinformation of this kind undermines the national effort against coronavirus.

Before anyone shares unsubstantiated claims online, use the SHARE checklist to help stop the spread of harmful content:
➡https://sharechecklist.gov.uk/ 

O’Connell makes it very clear that no-one should be surprised by these tactics. They’re what the Tories did when they were pushing Brexit with Cambridge Analytica. And at the general election First Draft, a monitoring body, found that they issued 5,952 political ads on Facebook that they called ‘indecent, dishonest and untruthful.’ The Labour Party didn’t issue any deceitful advertising.

Mike in his article on this squalid little tactic advises people not to use the ‘sharechecklist’ link, as the Tories at the changed their publicity department’s monicker to ‘FactCheckUK’ at the election. This purported to be an independent fact-checking organisation, and calmly reassured anyone who used it that the Tories were telling the truth, and Labour were lying. Which was more lies, of course.

John O’Connell further states that the DHSC and various NHS trusts have shown no interest in the welfare of the 43 NHS staff whose photos were used. He naturally wonders if this runs contrary to their duty of care. And Mike concludes his article about this by asking rhetorically

And why would anybody use a government website to check whether content is harmful, when it’s the government that is accused of creating it?

The danger is that the Tory government is undermining trust in the institutions we need to be able to trust. It is deadly dangerous – but the Tories are playing the fool.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2020/04/20/more-coronavirus-propaganda-hundreds-of-fake-nhs-social-media-accounts-set-up-by-health-dept/

Zelo Street added further information, noting that another Tweeter had tried to alert various media figures to the scandal, like Laura Kuenssberg, Robert Peston, Peter Jukes of Byline media, and Novara Media, The Skwawkbox, Zelo Street itself, and Carole Cadwalladr. Unfortunately, although Peter Jukes responded stating that it looked very much like Cambridge Analytica/ Russian bot farm tactics, the other major media figures appear to be uninterested. Zelo Street suggested that it might be because they’re afraid of Polecat Dom.

See: https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2020/04/nhs-fake-twitter-accounts-exposed.html

Zelo Street followed up their piece with a further article arguing that Dominic Cummings was very likely behind this torrent of sock puppetry and falsehoods, as the Polecat has previous. He was rumoured to be the man behind an abusive account, @toryeducation, when he was but a lowly Spad working for Michael Gove in the education department. This Twitter account poured scorn and abuse on politicos like Margaret Hodge, Chris Patten, Tristram Hunt, Hannah Richardson, Robert Peston, the Beeb, as well as Zelo Street and Tom Barry of Boris Watch.

Cummings denied he was behind these tweets, but Toby Helm, at that time a hack at the Observer, revealed that the Department had taken steps to stop the Twitter feed issuing any more abuse against its opponents. He also stated that the Observer had said that two contributors to it were Dominic Cummings and Henry de Zoete. Under the code governing spads, disseminating party political material and personal abuse were sackable offences. Cummings and de Zoete had not denied they contributed to the feed, merely saying that they were not @toryeducation.

And, like the 128 sock puppets John O’Connell discovered, @toryeducation also mysteriously vanished. It was registered as an official Tory account on Twitter until the day after the Observer told the world who was behind it. And a year after this all occurred, bloated badger-haired Libertarian Fascist Guido Fawkes revealed that it was indeed Cummings who had been the Twitter account while discussing a spat between Gove and Clegg over free school meals.

Zelo Street concludes

‘Cummings is not, it seems, subject to the controlling hand of his current boss right now, and restored to health following his brush with Covid-19. And by complete coincidence you understand, the Twitter fakery is firing up again. As Private Eye magazine might have put it, I wonder if the two are in any way related? I think we should be told.’

See: https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2020/04/tory-twitter-dirty-tricks-warning-from.html

It seems O’Connell has got the Tories bang to rights, right down to the personal identity of the woman behind all these fake accounts. And it really does look like Dominic Cummings is also behind it, although given their record of flagrant, gross mendacity, he doesn’t seem to have broken any established Tory patterns of conduct whatsoever. It would be rather more surprising if they told the truth instead.

But it also shows the Tories are afraid. Very afraid. According to polls, 65 per cent of the public think that Johnson is doing a good job, which shows how effective media spin and propaganda is. But with the death toll increasing and medical staff running out of PPE, that spin appears to be wearing very thin.

And so they’ve started lying again, to cover up their massive failures and the deaths for which they’re responsible.

The sock puppets’ support for the discredited ‘herd immunity’ policy and an end to the lockdown also shows how worried they are about their donors’ interests. The party’s backers clearly want the lockdown ended so that they can continue making big bucks.

Even though this policy could lead to 40,000 deaths, or even as many as 200 – 250,000.

But still, Murdoch and those hedge fund managers must have their billions.

 

 

 

Right-Wing Americans Campaign Against Lockdown

Last night the Beeb reported that there were demonstrations in America against the Coronavirus lockdown, encouraged by presidential clown, Donald Trump, against the advice and desires of his own administration and its medical advisers.

The Beeb interviewed some of them. One was a man dressed in protective gear, holding up a sign saying ‘American worker’. He objected to the lockdown because he wanted to work. Other placards declared that ‘Liberty is God-Given’, and that ‘Health Is My Choice, Not the Governments’. The Beeb’s reported stated that the demonstrators felt that the lockdown was unconstitutional and was an attempt by the government to expand its powers. Meanwhile, Trump had been supporting the protesters by issuing a series of Tweets demanding that Virginia, Idaho and a number of other states should lift their lockdowns. This naturally did not go down too well with those states’ governors, such as Cuomo in New York, who was particularly scathing. It was leading to a constitutional crisis over just who had the right to lift the lockdown. And the states were insistent that it wasn’t Trump.

It’s easy to sympathise with them up to a certain extent. People in this country are worried about their businesses and jobs. We have a larger welfare state than America, which means we’re better cushioned against poverty. Even so, thanks to the Tory dismantlement of our welfare system and the gross inadequacies of their emergency legislation, millions of people are still wondering how they’ll feed and clothe themselves and their families, as well as pay the rent or mortgage. America has a much smaller welfare system, which does far less to stop people falling into destitution and poverty. There’s also a psychological dimension to this. Americans have more of the work ethic. If you’re on welfare, it’s through some fault of yours. You’re a moocher and a loser. And so the fear of unemployment, which is very much present in the UK, is much greater over the Pond.

But it also shows how the bonkers libertarian right have also created an extreme fear about the state. Any expansion of state power, even it is beneficial, is seen as a dangerous threat to American freedom, a threat that will eventually lead to the establishment of a Nazi-Communist-Atheist-Muslim dictatorship. A few years ago, when Alex Jones and Infowars were in full flood all over the internet and Obama was in the White House, Jones was screaming about emergency legislation that had been passed. Obama, he announced, would declare a state of emergency and force the American people into FEMA camps in order to deprive them of their freedom and establish the one-world Satanic state for the globalists. Or something like that. Others on the right said the same. The pastors on one right-wing church radio station blithely told their listeners that Obama was infused with a hatred of Whites, and was set on creating a dictatorship which would kill more people than Chairman Mao. Others considered that he was going to start a genocide of White Americans. Well, Obama has come and gone, and showed himself to be none of these things, and committed none of the predicted horrors. But that clearly has left a deep-seated terror of the state.

The emergency legislation would be a threat to liberty, if it wasn’t framed within the context of constitutional, democratic government. When governments enact, or activate such legislation, they do so with provisions that limit its duration and provide for its lifting. There were worries about legislation passed by Boris which gave him, the police and armed forces extraordinary powers for two years. But the legislation now in place, passed in the 1980s, which demands that the state of emergency be reviewed every so many weeks, strikes a far better balance in favour of personal freedom.

As for it being a personal choice what someone does about their health, in most cases that’s true. But not here. Because it’s not just the person that’s choosing whether or not to expose themselves to the virus who’s affected. Their choice affects the lives of others, and in too many cases it’s a matter of life and death. So for their sake the issue is taken out of the hands of the private citizen.

Human lives are more important than the economy, and a properly functioning welfare state enhances personal freedom, not detracts from it. The libertarians and organisations like the Freedom Association over here are flat wrong in their attacks on the welfare state and their demands for absolute privatisation and a minimal state.

Lives, and people’s businesses and jobs, are at threat from the lockdown, but this can be ameliorated by state aid and a properly functioning welfare state.

Unfortunately, this is what Trump, Murdoch and other right-wing media loudmouths, want to prevent. Because it’ll stop them getting richer.

 

Cartoon: The Dead Thatchers – Bedtime for Democracy

Hi, and welcome to another of my cartoons, in which I attempt to lampoon the Tory party and our disgusting Prime Minister, Boris Johnson. This one is another mock poster/ record sleeve for my entirely fictional band, the Dead Thatchers. The name’s modeled on the American ’80s punk band, The Dead Kennedys. One of their satirical attacks on Reagan’s administration was ‘Bedtime for Democracy’, which I’ve used as the title and inspiration of this drawing. It shows Boris Johnson as Mussolini, surrounded by Maggie Thatcher and her bestie, General Pinochet, the Fascist dictator of Chile, as well as Ian McNichol and Emilie Oldknow.

Despite their loud claims to be the defenders of democracy, the Tories have so often been anything but. Churchill was an ardent opponent of Nazism, but it was because he saw them as a threat to British maritime domination of Europe and the North Sea. He was personally authoritarian, and actually like the Spanish dictator, Franco. He did, however, have the decency to describe Mussolini privately as a ‘swine’ when he visited Fascist Italy. In the 1980s sections of the Tory party had a very strong affinity for the Far Right, such as the Union of Conservative Students. Among their antics was calling for the National Front’s doctrine of ‘racial nationalism’ – the idea that only Whites should be considered true Britons – to become official policy. They bitterly hated Nelson Mandela as a terrorist, singing songs about hanging him in response to the pop single demanding freedom for the future leader of a democratic, multiracial South Africa.  Other songs included a parody of ‘We Don’t Want No Education’ from Pink Floyd’s The Wall, ‘We Don’t Want No Blacks or Asians’. There were also Tory demonstrations in support of apartheid South Africa.

The libertarian outfit to which Guido Fawkes belonged played host at its annual dinners to politicos from the South African Conservative Party, as well as the leader of one of Rios Montt’s death squads. Montt was the dictator of one of the Central American countries.  Maggie Thatcher’s friendship with Pinochet was for the old monster’s support against Argentina during the Falklands War. But some of it no doubt came from Thatcher’s own very authoritarian personality. She wanted a strong state, which meant the police, armed forces and the intelligence agencies. The Tories also claimed that she was somehow working class. She wasn’t. She was lower middle class, strictly speaking, and despised the people the Victorians called ‘the labouring poor’. She despised the trade unions and regarded the working class as ungrateful and disloyal. Following Enoch Powell, she was a monetarist, as was Pinochet. His regime was supported by Milton Friedman, who went down to Chile to advise Pinochet on its implementation, because he and the rest of the Chicago school and American libertarians because they believed it could only be established by a dictator. The masses were too wedded, they believed, to state intervention and a welfare state for a monetarist government ever to be democratically elected.

And Boris is also extremely authoritarian. He shares the eugenics views of Cummings and Toby Young, as well as previous Tory governments, that the poor, the disabled, the elderly and the long-term unemployed are useless eaters on whom as little money and resources should spent as possible. He and his cronies seem to regard their deaths as simply the inevitable operation of the forces of Natural Selection. His and his advisers were in favour of letting the British people develop ‘herd immunity’ against the Coronavirus, which meant avoiding lockdown and letting the disease take the weakest in order to preserve the economy. When Johnson was finally forced to act, he did so by awarding himself dangerously wide, exceptional powers in order, so he claimed, to be able to deal with the emergency.

These powers could very easily be used to turn him into a dictator.

The Coronavirus bill debated by parliament on 19th March 2020 gave the government sweeping new powers to arrest, detain and surveil for the next two years. It was criticised by Observer journo Carole Cadwalladr, who asked why the bill was supposed to last for two years, when the government did not expect the emergency to last that long. She also asked the pertinent question of what the government would do with all the information it wanted to collect.

Labour’s Chris Bryant also attacked it, stating that current emergency legislation, from the Civil Contingencies Act to various health and disease legislation, also gave the government sufficient powers to deal with the emergency. The Civil Contingencies bill requires renewal every 28 days, and the other laws also contain important safeguards. Commons library clerk Graeme Cowie also stressed how important ‘Sunset Clauses’ are. He explained that they ‘

are an important safeguard against the use of unusually broad or general executive powers. They also take different forms: (a) time limiting provisions in an Act (b) time limiting the power to make regulations or (c) time limiting the effect of regulations”.

Zelo Street, the bill looked like a power grab by Boris, enabled by Tory tribal politics.

https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2020/03/coronavirus-bill-warning.html

This is all too credible, given the way BoJob also had the Queen grant him extended powers to try to force Brexit through parliament despite the opposition of many MPs, including those in his own party.

But Boris isn’t the only anti-democrat.

I’ve also included in the cartoon Ian McNichol and Emilie Oldknow, the chairman of the Labour party and the present COO of Unison respectively. Because these two charmers were part of the very real conspiracy within the Labour Party democracy to unseat Jeremy Corbyn by withholding information on the anti-Semitism scandal so as to make him appear incompetent. Other tactics included trying keep Wallasey Labour Party suspended for as long as possible so they wouldn’t deselect the sitting Blairite MP, Angela Eagle, running a parallel election campaign in London intended to ensure that only Blairites would be elected, debating whether they could get Momentum expelled. They also wanted to set up an interim government with Tom Watson as leader after the 2017 election, and intrigued against and vilified other Labour MPs and activists from the left-wing – the real Centre – of the party. All this is described in the Anti-Semitism report, which was suppressed on the advice of the party’s lawyers, and on which Starmer sat for a week before it was leaked. One of the plotters wanted to get an electoral college set up in the party to make sure that a left-wing could never be elected leader.

McNichol, Oldknow and the rest of them are as anti-democratic as Johnson.

They did not work for the good of the party as a whole, but merely their own, narrow factional advantage. And as the behaviour of the Blairites has repeatedly shown, they prefer Tory government to one by a left-wing Labour figure. The report describes how they debated who to vote for if it came to a contest between Corbyn and Tweezer. But their contempt for Labour party democracy has been amply shown over the past four years of Blairite intriguing against Corbyn. And Blair himself was very authoritarian, curtailing party democracy and centralising it around himself. The Blairites themselves are only small minority within the party, but they were able to present themselves as representing mainstream Labour through their monopolization of the party bureaucracy and the connivance of the lamestream media.

Now following the report’s leak, the Socialist Group of Labour MPs have written to Starmer asking very serious questions. Ordinary Labour members, activists and supporters like Mike are also demanding greater disclosure about their activities, as well as their censure and expulsion.

This is absolutely correct, as their contempt for their party’s leadership and members and fervent support of Tory policies shows that they are a threat to democracy like Boris and his mob in government.

Here’s the cartoon. I hope you enjoy it.

 

Telegraph Journo Embarrassed by Sargon and Robinson’s Free Speech Organisation

As we know, embarrassing the Tories is good and righteous work. So Carl Benjamin, aka Sargon of Akkad, the man who broke UKIP, deserves especial congratulations for making the Tories uncomfortable over the whole question of free speech. He didn’t do it intentionally. It’s just that they found the similarities between Toby Young’s Free Speech Union and a rival right-wing organisation founded by Sargon and the islamophobic thug Tommy Robinson far too close for comfort.

Last month the Spectator’s vile Toby Young announced that he was founding the Free Speech Union along with a load of other rightists. This was going to defend those expressing controversial opinions from being silenced and kicked out of their jobs. The Heil on Sunday quoted Tobes as saying

“People who become the target of ‘Twitter storms’ after making controversial remarks will be defended by a new body called the Free Speech Union. The organisation will ‘stand up for the rights of its members to tell the truth in all circumstances’. The union has been set up by the journalist Toby Young in response to police investigations into a string of ‘non-crime hate incidents’ triggered by outspoken comments”.

“If someone at work writes to your boss to complain about something you’ve said, we’ll write to them, too, and explain the importance of intellectual tolerance and viewpoint diversity. If self-righteous social-media bullies pick on you, we’ll return the fire. If someone launches an online petition calling for you to be sacked, we’ll launch a counter-petition. The enemies of free speech hunt in packs; its defenders must band together too.”

The organisation has a Latin motto, which runs something like ‘Audi altri partem’, which I think means ‘Hear the other side.’

However, it’s not a union, but an incorporated, whose five directors are all spokesmen for the right. They include Young himself, Prof Nigel Biggar, who defends colonialism, Douglas Murray, who has islamophobic opinions, and Radomir Tylecote, who was suspended from the Treasury for writing a book against the EU. And their record of defending their opponents’ right to express their opinions is actually very poor. Zelo Street in their article about the wretched union quoted Paul Bernal, who tweeted

“As Toby Young should know, your commitment to free speech isn’t shown by how well you defend those whose speech you agree with, but how you defend those whose speech you don’t. When his ‘free speech union’ talks about the excesses of the Prevent programme, then see”.

The Street himself commented that it was just free speech for the right, and a way for Tobes and co. to complain about how unfair the world is.

https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2020/02/toby-youngs-free-speech-sham.html

Unfortunately for Tobes’ outfit, Sargon and Tommy Robinson, the founder and former leader of the EDL, have launched their own right-wing free speech organisation, the Hearts of Oak Alliance. And the similarities between the two concerned Tory feminist academic Zoe Strimpel to write a piece for the Torygraph on the first of this month, March 2020, complaining about this fact. Strimpel’s a Cambridge graduate with an M. Phil in gender studies. She’s the author of a series of book on men’s psychology, feminism, dating and romance. She began her article with the statement that her circle of friends has taken on a left-wing hue. It includes many Labour supporters, against whom she has to defend capitalism and Zionism. Well, at least she said ‘Zionism’, rather than accuse them once again of anti-Semitism. She’s upset by them chuckling off her fears about the erosion of free speech and thought, which, she claims, is under attack by a visible machinery of censorship in offices, the cops, universities, arts and online. She cites approvingly a report by the right-wing think tank Policy Exchange, which advised universities to guard against being the voice of critics of those, who despise the supporter of the traditional values of patriotism, family, faith and local traditions. They have to be willing to represent and not sneer at those, who feel justifiable pride in British history, culture and traditions.

However, she was worried whether it was possible to defend free speech, without sullying the cause with too many real thugs, who wanted to get as close as possible to inciting actual violence under the guise of expressing their democratic rights. Was it possible to challenge the climate of intimidation, snide snitching, and mendacious and manipulative accusations of hate-mongering, racism and making people feel ‘unsafe’, without being a magnet for the alt-right? She agreed to become a member of the advisory board, but has her reservations. She’s uncomfortable about Sargon’s and Robinson’s organisations, because of Sargon’s own anti-feminist, misogynistic views. Sargon was, she declared, far right, a thug, who called feminism ‘a first world female supremacy movement’, and ‘all kinds of blokeish’. He’s also the man responsible for sending that Tweet to Labour MP Jess Philips, telling her that he ‘wouldn’t even rape her’.

She concluded her article by stating that the aims of Tobes’ outfit were perfectly legitimate and free speech is under threat. But it was ‘just a shame that in defending those who ought to speak freely, one has to defend those, who – in an ideal world – wouldn’t have anything to say.’

Sargon was naturally upset at this assault on his character. He therefore posted a piece up on his YouTube channel, Akkad Daily, on the 2nd of March defending himself from her attack. He didn’t deny he was anti-feminist, and defended his own comments on this. But he roundly denied being a thug and far right. He was, he repeated, a Lockean classical liberal, and believed in precisely the same values as those Policy Exchange’s report claimed were under attack.

Sargon is indeed far right. He’s a libertarian, who would like everything privatised and the end of the welfare state. He’s against the European Union and immigration, and is bitterly critical of feminism and affirmative action for women and ethnic minorities. And yes, he is an islamophobe like Robinson. But in very many ways he and Robinson are absolutely no different from Young and his crew. Young is also far right. He’s a right-wing Tory, who attended eugenics conferences whose members and speakers were real Nazis and anti-Semites. And Young also is all kinds of blokeish as well. He’s posted a number of tweets expressing his obsession with women’s breasts. Way back in the ’90s, he also wrote a piece for the men’s magazine, GQ, about how he once dressed up in drag in order to pose as a woman, because he wanted to snog lesbians in gay clubs.

And it’s not just the people in the Free Speech Union, who have no real interest in free speech. Neither does Conservatism or Zionism. Thatcher tried to pass legislation making it illegal for universities to employ Marxists. A week or so ago, Turning Point UK announced that it was launching a British version of its parent organisation’s Professor Watch, a blacklist of university lecturers, who dared to express or teach left-wing views. And anti-Zionist and Israel-critical bloggers, like Tony Greenstein and Martin Odoni have described how Israel’s super-patriotic supporters, like Jonathan Hoffman, don’t want to permit free debate about Israel and its barbarous treatment of the Palestinians. Rather, they turn up at pro-Palestinian meetings with the intention of heckling, shouting down and otherwise disrupting the proceedings. They also seek to use the law to suppress criticism and factual reporting of Israeli atrocities as anti-Semitism.

Now there are opponents of free speech on the left. But Stimpel, as a good Tory, doesn’t want to recognise that it exists on the right. She’s embarrassed that supporting right-wing speech also means supporting extreme right-wing figures like Sargon and Robinson. But she doesn’t recognise, because she can’t afford to, that Sargon and Robinson aren’t actually much different from Toby Young, Douglas Murray, Radomir Tylecote, Nigel Biggar and the rest. In fact, there’s little difference between the two groups in fundamental attitudes.

It’s just that Sargon’s a little more extreme and doesn’t have a column in a major right-wing newspaper or magazine.

Pages