Libertarianism

Fresh audio product

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 08/02/2020 - 6:09am in

Just added to my radio archive (click on date for link):

February 6, 2020 Sofia Japaridze on Congressionally protected wage theft in the libertarian paradise of post-Soviet Georgia • Margaret Kimberley, author of Prejudential, on the long, oppressive relationship of presidents to black people

Architect of Soviet Terror Loathed Himself for His Crimes. What About the Tories for Theirs?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 20/01/2020 - 9:54pm in

Bhaskar Sankara’s book, The Socialist Manifesto, contains a very interesting quote in its chapter on the rise of Soviet communism and its transformation into the brutal, repressive, murderous state under Stalin. It’s from Felix Dzherzinsky, the founder of the Soviet secret police after the Russian Revolution. Dzherzinsky became so disgusted with himself for all the tens of thousands of people he’d had arrested, tortured and murdered that he declared, ‘I have so much blood on my hands that I don’t deserve to live’. Unfortunately, this didn’t prevent the Soviet state from continuing to kill and torture, so that the victims of Stalin’s purges amount to over 30 million.

When can we expect similar remorse from the Tories? Their system of welfare reform, work capability tests and benefit sanctions have resulted in 130,000 deaths at least. When do we get to hear something like Dzherzinsky’s cry from Iain Duncan Smith, Esther McVey and the other grotesques in the DWP? When will we hear expressions of sadness and regret for Maggie’s friendship with General Pinochet, a real Fascist, who also had tens of thousands rounded up, raped and tortured after the overthrow of the democratically elected socialist president Salvador Allende? When are we going to hear Paul Staines, of Guido Fawkes, express contrition for his membership of a Libertarian Tory outfit, that made the head of a central American death squad their guest of honour at one of their annual dinners?

We aren’t. Not ever. Because the Tory party will not, not even personally, feel sorrow for its complicity in death and terror, not even in private.

It will just hide it, and carry on lying to people that it stands for freedom and humanity while continuing to support mass death.

 

Sargon of Gasbag Blames Plato for SJWs

Okay, I know, I shouldn’t have done it, but I did. I watched another of Sargon of Akkad’s wretched videos. In my defence I can only say that it is important to understand the ideas of the right and extreme right, and what they’re telling people about the left. And some of Sargon’s ideas are so bizarre that there’s a kind of weird fascination about them. Sargon is, of course, the nom de internet of Carl Benjamin, the Sage of Swindon, who broke UKIP by joining it. The scourge of Communists, feminists and anti-racist activists put up a video in which he claimed that the ancient Greek philosopher Plato was responsible for Social Justice Warriors. That’s the term the right sneeringly uses to refer to all the above, or even simply anyone who believes that the poor, unemployed, disabled and the working class are getting an increasingly raw deal and that the government should do something about it.

Sargon’s Libertarianism

For Sargon, anyone who believes in government intervention and in greater equality for women, ethnic minorities are working people is a Communist. But it’s the definition of Communism as used by the American right, which means anyone with vaguely left-wing views. Barack Obama was actually very moderate in his policies. He’s since come out and said that he considers himself a moderate Republican. But that didn’t stop his right-wing opponents attacking him as an evil Maoist Communist, as well as an atheist Muslim Nazi. Sargon himself is a ‘classical liberal’, which means that he’s a Libertarian who looks back to the early 19th century when governments followed the economic doctrine of laisser faire, so that people could work 18 hours per day in factories or the mines before dying of disease or starvation in a cellar or garret in an overcrowded slum. But Sargon, like all Libertarians and Conservatives, believes that if private industry is released from the chains of government bureaucracy, it will somehow magically produce economic expansion and wealth for all. Even though we’ve Tory privatisation and neoliberalism for forty years, the Conservatives have been in power for the past ten, the economy is collapsing and people are being forced in homelessness, debt and starvation. Most weirdly, Sargon somehow continues to believe he’s on the left. He’s a moderate, you see, unlike the far-right SJWs.

Plato and Aristotle

And he blames Plato for the far left on account of the ancient Greek philosopher’s highly authoritarian political views and his theory of forms. Plato believed that beyond this material world there was another, perfect world of ideal forms, of which the entities in this world were only imperfect shadows. For example, these ideal forms included animals, so that there was an ideal cat, of which real, material cats were imperfect copies. But there were also abstract concepts like justice and beauty, in which the beings in this world also participated and reflected. A beautiful woman, for example, was a woman who corresponded to the perfect ideal of beauty in the intelligible world. SJWs were intolerant, because they were idealists. They had impossibly high ideals of justice, and this made them intolerant. Just as Plato himself was intolerant in his idea of the perfect state, which he wrote down in his Republic and Laws. Plato himself believed that government should be left to enlightened absolute monarchs, and his idea of a perfect state is definitely totalitarian. Sargon’s right about that.

Sargon, however, champions Aristotle, because he believed in ‘the republic of virtue’ and democracy. And it was at this point that I stopped watching, because there’s only so much right-wing idiocy you can take. It can sound plausible, but a moment’s reflection is all it needs to show that it’s all nonsense, and Sargon knows less about SJWs, Marxism and Aristotle than he thinks he does.

Aristotlean Democracy Different from Today’s

Let’s deal firstly with the idea that Aristotle is a democrat. He isn’t, or rather, not in the modern sense. He’s not a totalitarian like Plato, but he believed that the only people, who should have a vote and a share of government in his ideal democracy were leisured gentlemen, who didn’t need to work and therefore had the time, education and money to devote themselves to politics. He makes this very clear in his Politics, where he states categorically that artisans and other working people should very definitely be kept away from politics and from mixing with the gentlemen of political class. So firmly did he believe this the he argued the two classes should have two separate forums. And Aristotle, like Plato, also believed in the world of intelligible forms. Which means that if idealism makes someone intolerant, then, by Sargon’s argument, he should also attack Aristotle as intolerant.

Marxism, Communism, Postmodernism and the New Left

Sargon is also, of course, spectacularly wrong about Communism. He uses it to mean anyone, who has what he considers to be extreme left-wing views. But Communism also has a very distinct meaning in that it referred to those versions of Marxism practiced in the former Communist bloc and the parties outside it that followed these forms of Marxist dogma. In the USSR and the European Communist countries, this meant Lenin’s formulation of Marxism; in China, Mao’s. But at the time there were other forms of Marxism that were far more democratic. Karl Kautsky, the leader of the Austrian Marxists, believed that industries should be socialised and taken over by the state when they became monopolies, and that socialism could only be achieved through democracy. He was bitterly hostile to the Soviet dictatorship.

Marxism certainly is an element in some forms of contemporary radicalism, such as postmodernism and Cultural Studies. But this is the Marxism of the New Left, which emerged in the 1960s. The New Left attempted to revitalise Marxism through a return to Hegelianism. As far as I can tell, it was Trotskyite, rather than Communist, although both refer to radical Marxism. But Postmodernism was also strongly influenced by structural linguistics, Freudian psychology and Nietzsche. And, at least in the 1990s, it rejected class politics, which are an essential part of orthodox Marxism.

Modern Feminists and Anti-Racists Not Necessarily Marxists

It’s also problematic how much contemporary anti-racism and feminism owes to Marxism. Some of the Black rights and anti-colonialist movements of the 20th century were influenced by Marx to a greater or lesser extent. But I doubt that the mass of anti-racist or feminist activists in this country have read Marx. For them, it almost certainly has more immediate causes in their experience of being treated as less than and denied opportunities open to White males. One of the landmark cases in British feminism was the strike by women workers at Dagenham in the early ’70s. But I doubt they were interested in creating a Communist utopia. They simply wanted to be paid the same as the men. And as for utopianism, while that does exist among the real extreme left, such as anarchists, communists and Trotskyites, for most people left-wing activism simply means realising that things are badly wrong now, and wishing to change it for the better. But as the books on left-wing organisation and activism I’ve read have argued, that means simply trying to make things a little better, and realising an absolutely perfect society is unachievable. That’s also the point of view Marxists like the economist Bernard Wolf.

The Utopianism of Libertarians and Conservatives

If anyone does believe in a perfect system, however, it’s Sargon and the Conservatives/Libertarians. They really do seem to believe that capitalism is a perfect system, and if people are poor, then it’s their own fault. It reminds me of the 19th century Tories, who talked endlessly about the perfection of the British constitution without thinking that anything could or should be done about the mass poverty around them. Sargon and his allies are thus rather like Dr. Pangloss, the character in Voltaire’s Candide, who believed that all was for the best, in this, the best of all possible worlds. Except in their formulation, all is for the best in capitalism, the best of all possible economic systems.

But capitalism is not perfect. Unregulated, it creates mass poverty, and this has always spurred left-wing activists and reformers to try to tackle it. This includes liberals as well as Marxists. But Sargon doesn’t understand that, and so he thinks that those dissatisfied with capitalism can only be radical Marxists.

He’s wrong, but this view is very influential, and used by the right to discredit everyone on the left. And so, daft as it is, it needs to be fought.

 

 

Sargon of Gasbag on How the Norf Went Tory

A few days ago Carl ‘Sargon of Akkad’ Benjamin put up a video, in which he presented his idea of why the north of England and the midlands went Tory. It was based on a cartoon from 4chan’s Pol Board, and so presented a very caricatured view of the north. Sargon is the extreme right-winger, who personally did much to destroy UKIP simply by joining it. This ‘classical liberal’ – meaning libertarian – with his highly reactionary views on feminism and racism was too much even for the Kippers. His home branch of Swindon wanted him deselected when the party chose him as the second of their two MEP candidates for south-west England, and the Gloucestershire branch closed down completely. And according to Sargon, the ‘Norf’ went Tory because Blair turned the Labour party from the party of the working class throughout Britain into the party of the liberal metropolitan elite, and turned its attention away from class issues to supporting Islam, refugees, radical feminism and gay rights. This conflict with the social conservative values of working people, and particularly northern working people. As a result, they voted for Johnson, who had the same values they had.

The strip depicts the northern working class as Norf F.C., a local football team. They have their counterparts and rivals in Sowf F.C., a southern football team, and in the Welsh and Scots. The north is presented as a region of fat skinhead football hooligans, poorly educated, and suffering from scurvy and malnutrition, but who love their families, their communities and their country. In the strip’s view, these communities were traditionally Labour. But this changed with the election of Tony Blair, an Oxford educated lawyer, who took over the party. Under his aegis, it no longer was the party of the working class, but instead had a lower middle class membership. These were over-educated officer workers, who turned it towards Communism with the election of Jeremy Corbyn. They supported racism witchhunts, gay rights and flooding White communities with coloured immigrants, and were pro-EU. They despised natural, healthy patriotism. The result was that when Boris appeared, despite being an Etonian toff they recognised themselves in him. He would do something about Brexit and immigration, and would attack the radical left who support Muslim rape gangs and wanted to chop off their sons’ genitals. And who would also put the ‘bum boys’ in their place. It led to the massive defeat of the Labour party, and in particular ‘Communists’ like owen Jones and Ash Sarkar of Novara media.

I’m not going to show the video here, but if you want to see it for yourself, go to YouTube and search for ‘How the Norf Went Tory’, which is his wretched video’s title.

To Sargon, Corbyn is a friend of Hezbollah and Hamas, and to show how threatening the feminists and LGBTQ section of the Labour party he shows various radical feminists with T-shirts saying ‘White People Are Terrorists’ and a trans-activist with a baseball bat and the tattoo ‘Die Cis Scum’, referring to cis-gendered people – those who identify with their biological gender. The over-educated lower middle class people he sneers at are graduates of gender studies, who work in McDonalds, or have submitted to what he describes as ‘office serfdom’.

It’s very much a simplistic view, but there’s much truth in it as well as great deal of distortion. Let’s go through it.

The UKIP View of the North

Firstly, it represents very much the UKIP view of events. The academic study of UKIP, Revolt on the Right,  found that its members were poorly educated, working class people in the north. They had socially Conservative views, hated the European Union, resented immigration, particularly Black and Asian, and felt abandoned by the traditional parties. He is also right in identifying the change from working class representation to middle class representation with Blair’s leadership. Blair didn’t like the working class. He wanted to get the votes of the swing voters in marginal constituencies. As Sargon’s video acknowledges, he supported the neoliberalism that had devastated the northern economy and which made so many northerners hate the policy’s architect, Maggie Thatcher. Within the party, Blair sidelined working class organisations like the trade unions in favour of courting and recruiting business managers.

The Labour party was keen to represent Blacks and other ethnic minorities, women and gays due to its ideological commitment to equality. This policy became particularly important after Thatcher’s victory in 1979, when it appeared to some that the White working class had abandoned the party. I’ve also seen books published in the ’70s lamenting the right-ward movement within the Labour party due to its membership becoming increasingly middle class, so this trend actually predates Blair somewhat. However, it acquired a new importance under Blair because of the emphasis his administration place on BAME rights, feminism and gay rights. In my view, this was partly as an attempt to preserve some claim to radicalism and progressive values while abandoning socialism and the working class.

Sargon Doesn’t Understand Class and Communism

Sargon also doesn’t understand either what Communism is. He seems to believe in the rantings of the contemporary right that it’s all about identity politics and changing the traditional culture from above. That’s one form of Marxist politics coming from the ideas of the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci. But traditional, orthodox Marxism emphasised the importance of the working class and the class structure of society. Marx’s theory of Dialectical Materialism held that it was the economic base of society that defined ideology, not the other way around. Once the working class came into power and socialised the economy, the ideologies supported and created by capitalism would disappear. Gramsci’s ideas about changing ideology and culture became fashionable in left-wing circles because it was believed that the working class was actually in decline as society changed. Demographers noted that increasing numbers of people were becoming lower middle class. Hence the movement on the left towards that sector of society, rather than the traditional working class.

Corbyn More Politically Committed to Working Class

Yes, Corbyn also supported anti-racism, feminism and gay rights, but these had been key values of the left since the 1980s. I remember then how the Labour party and leading figures like Michael Foot and Ken Livingstone were vilified as Communists and Trotskyites, and how the party was caricatured as standing for Black lesbians. There were all those stories circulating in the Scum, for example, about how radical teachers in London schools had decided that ‘Baa Baa Black Sheep’ was racist, and insisted children sing ‘Baa Baa Green Sheep’ instead. Corbyn does come from a privileged background, but his views and the Labour manifesto are far more working class in the sense that they represent a return to traditional socialist economic policies than Blair’s. And certainly far more than Johnson’s and the Tories.

I have to admit that I’m one of the over-educated officer worker types Sargon sneers at. But I never did gender studies, not that I’m sneering at it or those who studied it. My first degree is in history. And I am very sure that most of the legions of graduates now trying to get any kind of paid work have a very wide variety degrees. I also think that many of them also come from the aspirant working class, who went into higher education in order to get on. Also, if you were interested or active in working class politics in the 1980s, you were exposed and took over the anti-racism and anti-sexism campaigns. Ben Elton was notorious as a left-wing comedian in the 1980s, but he defended the working class and ethnic minorities against the Tories.  It was not the case that the White working class was viewed with suspicion as a hotbed of racism, although sections of it, represented by such grotesques as Alf Garnet, certainly were. But it was that section of the working class that the Scum and the Tory party addressed, and so it’s now surprise that they see themselves represented by Boris.

Their belief in Boris is ultimately misplaced, however. Boris will betray them, just like he has betrayed everyone else.

He isn’t going to get Brexit done. He is going to continue with his privatisations, including that of the NHS, and dismantlement of the welfare state. The people in the northern and midlands communities that voted for him are going to find themselves still poor, and probably much poorer, under him.

But the lessons for Labour should be that there should be no return to Blairism. 

David Rosenberg and many other left-wing bloggers have argued from their own personal experience that the way of winning working class voters back to Labour and away from the far-right is through the hard work of knocking on doors and neighbourhood campaigning. This is what Blairism didn’t do. Jones showed in his book Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working Class that it was Blair that turned away and demonised them, and simply expected them to continue voting Labour as they didn’t have anywhere else to go. And it was the Blairites and Tories, who viewed the White working class as racist and vilified them as such. Although it also has to be said that they also courted them by appealing to their patriotism and their feeling of marginalisation in an increasingly multicultural society. And the fact that Jones took the trouble to attack this refutes Sargon’s attempt to present Jones as a ‘Communist’, who was against their interests.

Yes, you can find the misandrists, and the anti-White racists and extreme gay and trans rights activists in the Labour party. But they’re an unrepresentative minority, who are going to be controversial even in their own small circles. Attempts by the Tories to magnify their influence are deliberately deceptive in order to stop people from believing that the Labour party means to do anything for ordinary working people. Just as Sargon has tried to do in his video.

Winning back the working class from Boris does not mean a return to Blair and attempting to turn the party into the Conservatives 2.0. But it does mean returning to working class activism, representation and continuing to support real policies to benefit the working class, whether Black, White or Brown, Christian, atheist, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish or whatever.

And that has to be a return to genuine socialism.

Hypocrite Guido Fawkes Defends Italian Fascists from Jewish Labour MP

The Sage of Crewe at Zelo Street has put up a very revealing piece showing exactly where Guido Fawkes real sympathies like when it comes to the question of anti-Semitism. Staines and his far-right crew were as zealous as the rest of the lamestream media in pushing the anti-Semitism smears against Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party. But this time the mask has slipped. He has sided with a group of Italian football ‘fans’, who made Fascist/Nazi salutes, against the Jewish Labour MP for Warrington North, Charlotte Nicholls. This isn’t the first time Guido’s been responsible for a bit of Jew hatred. The Sage reminds us how, when Ed Miliband was leader of the Labour Party, one of his underlings, Simon Carr, wrote two anti-Semitic pieces about the Labour leader. Which delighted his employer so much, that he and fellow Fawkes’ employees Harry Cole and Alex Wickham that they embraced Carr on camera.

This time, Fawkes has been greatly indignant that Nicholls should be in favour of the Fascists being given a good kicking. Another one of Staines’ minions, Tom Harwood, has written a piece with the delightful title ‘Labour MP Continues to Endorse Kicking Heads In’. Harwood has apparently written

“Festive cheer was somewhat lacking from one Labour MP over Christmas, who took to the BBC to defend her conjecture Italian tourists should have their heads kicked in. Distancing herself from Labour’s pro-EU stance already.

“Back in October, Nichols had originally tweeted that fans of the Italian club S.S. Lazio should ‘get their heads kicked in’ as they performed fascist salutes before a football match in Glasgow”.

They quote Nicholls Tweeting “You shouldn’t be doing Nazi salutes on the streets of Britain if you don’t want your head kicked in”.   Tim follows her in considering that the Italians were making Nazi, rather than Fascist salutes. In fact, at this time there’s precious little difference between the two. The Fascists adopted the raised right arm, calling it the ‘Roman’ salute in order to evoke the memory of the Roman Empire, which they aimed to restore.  They weren’t originally anti-Semitic, but they followed the Nazis in passing anti-Semitic legislation in 1937. They weren’t as harsh as Nazi legislation, and 80 per cent of Italian Jews managed to survive the War. But Fascism was nevertheless still a brutal, racist dictatorship with laws against Jews and Black Africans, and their army committed atrocities in the Balkans, north Africa and Abyssinia. And contemporary Italian neo-Fascists are still racist and anti-immigrant, as well as hostile to democracy, liberalism, socialism, Communism and anarchism.

Nicholls added to her comment “Of course, right wing rag Guido refers to Lazio fans doing Nazi salutes on the streets of Britain as ‘Italian tourists’. My granddad didn’t risk his life in WW2 to beat fascism ‘in the marketplace of ideas’ and as a Jewish person I’d rather drop dead than apologise to Nazis”.

Absolutely. Presumably Guido is horrified by the Jews, socialists, Communists and trade unionists, who beat the living daylights out of Oswald Mosley and his thugs when the British Union of Fascists were marching up and down the country trying to intimidate them. Many British Jews also had family murdered by the Nazi during the Holocaust, and so, like most people in this country generally, they don’t take kindly to displays of real Fascism. I don’t want to encourage violence against anyone, but you really can’t blame Nicholls for feeling that the Lazio fans deserved a beating for their behaviour.

The Sage also reveals in the post that Staines was also a close friend of Tory MP Aidan Burley, the MP for Cannock, who decided not to seek re-election after the Mail on Sunday revealed that he was part of a Nazi-themed stag party in Val Thorens. Staines was so upset about Burley’s participation, that he went out for a consolation drink with him.

See: https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2020/01/guido-fawkes-backing-nazis-not-jews.html

In fact, Staines seems to have always had a certain sympathy for Fascism. He’s a libertarian, and in the 1980s he was a member of a libertarian faction in the Tory party that invited one of the leaders of a real Fascist death squad from El Salvador to be their guest of honour at their annual dinner. The same outfit also, I believe, feted South African pro-Apartheid politicos. And a decade earlier, in 1975 the Libertarians across the Pond devoted a whole edition of their magazine, Reason, to Holocaust denial. I am not accusing Fawkes of denying the Holocaust. I am simply saying that it very much appears to me that Staines’ own politics have always been little short of real Fascism. And it says much about the moral squalor of the lamestream media that Staines is considered somehow respectable, despite his far right background.

But if Staines carries on with articles like this, perhaps that won’t be for long.

Sargon of Akkad Chuckles at Frightened Muslims Leaving Britain

Remember Sargon of Akkad? He was the internet personality who helped to wreck UKIP. This suffered a crisis when former leader Nigel Farage left to start his own rival bunch of squadristi, the Brexit Party. Which as any fule kno was actually a private company, so that only Fuhrer Farage could make any decisions. Farage took a large chunk of UKIP’s membership with him, and so Supreme Leader Gerard Batten tried to revitalise the party by recruiting a group of far right internet personalities. This were Paul Joseph Watson of InfoWars, Mark ‘Count Dankula’ Meechan of Nazi pug infamy, and Sargon. The result was that much of the remaining membership, who considered themselves moderates and non-racist, left. The party was then taken over by Dick Braine, and collapsed shortly afterwards in acrimonious abuse and litigation threats.

Sargon, however, like Hatey Katie Hopkins, seems to have gone back to the Tory party. He’s published a series of videos on YouTube celebrating the Tory election victory. But one of these was also his comment on an article in the Metro reporting that Muslims are frightened by a rise in racism after the Tory victory. So frightened, in fact, that many of them are considering leaving Britain.

Sargon, who somehow believes he’s ‘moderate left’ despite being a libertarian ‘classical liberal’, and opponent of feminism and anti-racism, seemed to find all this highly amusing. He guffawed merrily and sneered at left-wingers correctly observing that these fears were caused by Johnson’s racism. British Muslims’ fears, he seemed to think, weren’t due to a real increase in racism, but because they’re still somehow outsiders and not really British. Johnson stated that the burqa isn’t a British custom and that in British society people showed their face. Muslims should adapt to the mores of host of the host society. Other groups, Blacks, Jews, and Hindus, and so on, were behind Britishness and the Conservative Party – Sargon has posted at least one video claiming the Tory election victory is a victory for ‘Team Britain’. Why weren’t the Muslims? And they were free to go. No-one was stopping them, like some minorities are prevented from emigrating in Islamic society.

Now I actually share Sargon’s views on the burqa and its complete coverage of a woman’s face and body. So, he would no doubt be surprised to know, does George Galloway, the former leader of the Respect Party, who has been attacked for being pro-Muslim, pro-Palestinian and far Left. Galloway pointed out when Johnson first made his comments about the burqa that only a small percentage of Muslim women actually wore it. But Johnson’s comments were seen as an attack on the Muslim community generally, and did provoke an increase in anti-Muslim violence. These fears aren’t idle, but deadly serious. One woman was stabbed to death in a racist attack because she was wearing a burqa.

I realise perfectly that there are problems with integration in some sections of the Muslim community. I am also fully aware how repressive and undemocratic many Islamic countries are. But that doesn’t mean that innocent Muslims in this country should feel that they are somehow regarded as less than full citizens and vulnerable to abuse and worse.

And let’s point out the racial double standards here. When the ultra-Zionists were claiming that Jews were considering leaving the UK because Jeremy Corbyn was an ‘existential threat’ to Britain’s Jewish community, this was trumpeted not just by the right-wing Jewish press, but also by Britain’s right-wing media. It was something that Labour should be thoroughly ashamed about, and marked the party and Corbyn as unfit for government.

But when Muslims start saying that they’re under threat and considering leaving, Sargon and people like him seem to regard this as amusing and view it with an attitude of ‘good riddance’. Or else, as Zelo Street has pointed out in their piece today on the fears of the Muslim community, the media actively ignores it and hacks like the Spectator’s Douglas Murray write articles attacking figures from ‘the intolerant left’ like Grace Blakely and Jo Swinson in order to distract attention from it.

https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2019/12/we-see-you-douglas-murray.html

It’s disgraceful that any of Britain’s ethnic minorities should feel unsafe in this country, whether they are Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Christians or whoever. That the press in general is ignoring this issue, or in the case of Douglas Murray, actively trying to divert attention away from it, shows how deep-seated Tory islamophobia is. As well as exposing how cynical their professed concern over anti-Semitism in the Labour party.

Johnson’s victory is emboldening the racists and Islamophobes. And that’s a problem for everyone. 

Hayek (Streeck, Hazony) and World Federation and Colonialism

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 19/11/2019 - 2:01am in

In the national state current ideologies make it comparatively easy to persuade the rest of the community that it is in their interest to protect “their” iron industry or “their” wheat production or whatever it be. An element of national pride in “their” industry and considerations of national strength in case of war generally induce people to consent to the sacrifice. The decisive consideration is that their sacrifice benefits compatriots whose position is familiar to them. Will the same motives operate in favor of other members of the Union? Is it likely that the French peasant will be willing to pay more for his fertilizer to help the British chemical industry? Will the Swedish workman be ready to pay more for his oranges to assist the Californian grower? Or the clerk in the city of London be ready to pay more for his shoes or his bicycle to help American or Belgian workmen? Or the South African miner prepared to pay more for his sardines to help the Norwegian fishermen?--Hayek (1939) "The Economic Conditions of Interstate Federalism."

Hayek's (1939) "The Economic Conditions of Interstate Federalism" plays two roles in recent critical discussions of  neo-liberalism. First, Wolfgang Streeck (recall) sees in it the neoliberal masterplan for the European Union by which a federal structures prevent the development of socialism and the welfare-state among member units (of the federation). Streeck's reading of Hayek is not wholly misleading.  Hayek does state that "it would be desirable for the constitution of the federation to impose on the freedom of the individual states would have to be even greater than we have hitherto assumed and that their power of independent action would have to be limited still further." And this is not limited "to state economic policy but also to economic policy conducted by trade and professional organizations extending over the territory of the state."

But even so the justification of this is not to prevent the welfare state or local experimentation, but "to prevent evasions of the fundamental provisions securing free movement of men, goods, and capital." Hayek's real targets are "trade-unions, cartels, or professional associations," and other would be local monopolists. That is to say, Hayek is no Lionel Robbins (his LSE colleague), who in his (1941) "Economic aspects of federation" proposal did leave more room for local "experimentation" even socialist experimentation (albeit with various restrictions). For Robbins "the [member] states are completely free to set up collectivist undertakings."* This is surely a bridge too far for Hayek. But the target of Hayek is, as he writes shortly below, not primarily redistribution, but interference "with economic activity" and "state control." (This is not to suggest that Hayek is a fan of redistribution, but see Zwolinski's recent essay.)

The second line of interpretation is due to (recall) Yoram Hazony, who in The Virtue of Nationalism, reads Hayek (1939) as endorsing (quoting Hazony) an "international federal state without significant boundaries between nations." (See also the accompanying notes in Hazony.)** If we look at the passage quoted at the top of this post we can see what inspired Hazony. Hayek is clearly thinking of a trans-Atlantic North American (e.g., "California")-European federation; Hayek calls it a federation of "Atlantic democratic states," but one that includes Europe's dominions/colonies (e.g., South Africa).  And, indeed, when after the war plans were developed for a European (economic) Community the African colonies were very much included. (Before it become independent in 1962 Algeria was part of the EEC.)

Hayek's stance is, in part, if not inspired by the phenomenal success of Clarence Streit's (1939) Union Now, at least clearly co-extensive with it. (Streit is explicitly mentioned in Hayek's piece.) While Hayek proposes a geographically extensive federation, it is not global in character. In Hayek, this is so because he wishes to exclude the "socialist" countries like the USSR. Or to be precise, he thinks the USSR would refuse to "submit" to the rules governing his proposed "interstate federation." So, while Hazony has accurately discerned the drift of Hayek's proposal, his federation is not necessarily global in character and there is no expectation it will naturally become such a global empire. So, unlike Mises -- who often writes as if the success conditions of liberalism presuppose the establishment of global liberalism --, Hayek thinks liberalism need not entail global federation.+

But that leaves another question. As Or Rosenboim recounts, and building on Orwell, Streits'proposal while centered on the virtues of liberal democracies, clearly also is meant to secure domination of a (racialized hierarchy of) 'civilized' peoples. How does Hayek see the relationship between the federation and European colonies. Recall that while Mises hoped to secure a liberal global order, Mises thought the sooner the European imperial powers de-colonized the better. Hayek recognizes that the question is lurking behind his own proposal. Here's what he writes.

It does not come within the scope of a short article to consider in any detail the positive tasks of the liberal economic policy which a federation would have to pursue. Nor is it even possible to give here further consideration to such important problems as those of monetary or colonial policy which will, of course, continue to exist in a federation. On the last point it may, however, be added that the question which probably would be raised first, i.e., whether colonies ought to be administered by the states or by the federation, would be of comparatively minor importance. With a real open-door policy for all members of the federation, the economic advantages derived from the possession of colonies, whether the colonies were administered federally or nationally, would be approximately the same to all the members of the federation. But, in general, it would undoubtedly be preferable that their administration should be a federal and not a state matter.

What is notable is that unlike Mises, who is explicit about the unmitigated evils of colonialism, Hayek leaves his views on the matter oblique here.++ It's pretty clear, however, that he is primarily focused on the way that colonies generate interstate rivalry (and so war, protection, etc.). An interstate federation is a solution to the problem of such state rivalry over colonialism. The benefits, if any, of holding a colony now accrue to all the members of a federation.

It's possible (perhaps this is lurking behind the "in general") Hayek also thinks that the federation would treat the inhabitants of the colonies more humanely than the member states. But if so, he does not say it. And his remarks are naturally read as endorsing continued colonial rule by the federation. It is striking that roughly in the same period, Mises comes out as looking much more committed to democracy and freedom than Hayek does. 

Let me close. In his paper, Hayek writes "that nineteenth-century liberalism did not succeed more fully is due largely to its failure to develop in this direction; and the cause is mainly that, because of historical accidents, it successively joined forces first with nationalism and later with socialism, both forces being equally incompatible with its main principle." In the accompanying footnote, Hayek treats John Stuart Mill as exemplary of both (regrettable) tendencies. 

We may say, without a sense of superiority, and a considerable note of melancholy and regret, that twentieth-century liberalism did not succeed more fully is in no small matter due to its continued temptation to treat the economic interests of (Northern) Atlantic states as co-extensive with the true direction of liberalism. Even those that explictly rejected Mill's civilizational mission were often infected by this tendency.

 

*Robbins clearly thinks that if free trade is not prevented then many state monopolies will be run relatively efficiently (and so will act as de facto competitive enterprises). This seems reasonably prescient if we look at the role of state monopolies in relatively open economies of Scandinavia and the Netherlands since.

**I recently read (recall) Or Rosenboim's  The Emergence of Globalism: Visions of World Order in Britain and The United States and that surely has influenced what follows.

+I don't meant to deny that both Mises and Hayek are clearly indebted to and can be re-interpreted as (here; recall also here; and here) accepting Kant's regulative ideal of a ever closing union of global federation in Perpetual Peace.

++Some other time I'll discuss his views in Road to Serfdom.

Utopia, Marx, Colonialism, and the Lockean Proviso

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 14/10/2019 - 9:18pm in

“As their cities are composed of families, so their families are made up of those that are nearly related to one another.  Their women, when they grow up, are married out, but all the males, both children and grand-children, live still in the same house, in great obedience to their common parent, unless age has weakened his understanding, and in that case he that is next to him in age comes in his room; but lest any city should become either too great, or by any accident be dispeopled, provision is made that none of their cities may contain above six thousand families, besides those of the country around it.  No family may have less than ten and more than sixteen persons in it, but there can be no determined number for the children under age; this rule is easily observed by removing some of the children of a more fruitful couple to any other family that does not abound so much in them. By the same rule they supply cities that do not increase so fast from others that breed faster; and if there is any increase over the whole island, then they draw out a number of their citizens out of the several towns and send them over to the neighbouring continent, where, if they find that the inhabitants have more soil than they can well cultivate, they fix a colony, taking the inhabitants into their society if they are willing to live with them; and where they do that of their own accord, they quickly enter into their method of life and conform to their rules, and this proves a happiness to both nations; for, according to their constitution, such care is taken of the soil that it becomes fruitful enough for both, though it might be otherwise too narrow and barren for any one of them. But if the natives refuse to conform themselves to their laws they drive them out of those bounds which they mark out for themselves, and use force if they resist, for they account it a very just cause of war for a nation to hinder others from possessing a part of that soil of which they make no use, but which is suffered to lie idle and uncultivated, since every man has, by the law of nature, a right to such a waste portion of the earth as is necessary for his subsistence.  If an accident has so lessened the number of the inhabitants of any of their towns that it cannot be made up from the other towns of the island without diminishing them too much (which is said to have fallen out but twice since they were first a people, when great numbers were carried off by the plague), the loss is then supplied by recalling as many as are wanted from their colonies, for they will abandon these rather than suffer the towns in the island to sink too low.--Thomas More Utopia. Book II

In a famous footnote, which inspired many generations of Marxist historians, in chapter 28 of Capital, Book 1, Marx calls attention to, and quotes, the description of the deleterious effects of the violent enclosures on farming communities in Book 1 of Utopia. Marx attributes the quote to Thomas More and not to the character Raphael Hythloday. This is notable because Thomas More is also a character in Utopia, with a perspective distinct from Hythloday's. This makes Utopia notorious (recall this post) difficult to interpret because one cannot take for granted that any character, including More, speaks for the author. 

To the best of my knowledge Marx never commented on the passage quoted above. In context, it is Hythloday's description of Utopian policy (that he endorses). The first part of the paragraph describes some of the mechanisms the Utopians use to keep population in a fixed equilibrium. (Given that the Utopians have managed to root out famine, and run food surpluses, we can infer there are more mechanisms.) One of the mechanisms mentioned in the passage is the practice -- which resonates with known Greek and Roman history -- to send out colonists in order to control population in the homeland (Utopia).

The Utopian colonists settle in places where the land can support more inhabitants than the existing local population. At that point the colonized either voluntary allow themselves to be subsumed under the Utopians way of life or resist; and then get attacked by the Utopians.

At this point, Hythloday mentions the Utopian justification for colonial war: when "a nation [hinders] others from possessing a part of that soil of which they make no use, but which is suffered to lie idle and uncultivated, since every man has, by the law of nature, a right to such a waste portion of the earth as is necessary for his subsistence."  This argument has been called "the agricultural argument" (by Thomas Flanagan) and it has been treated, as Barbara Arneil implies, as an anticipation of features of the Lockean proviso.

To be sure, the actual law of nature reported Hythloday is better understood as a kind of right of necessity. The idea that under great duress you can take from others some of their property in order to survive. This right of necessity was common ground in the sixteenth century, and we find echoes of it as late as Adam Smith and Sophie de Grouchy, although to the best of my knowledge it was not used to justify colonial war.

It is peculiar that Hythloday does not note that the justification for colonial war is patently being abused. The Utopian colonists are not starving at home. At any given time, the Utopians have two years' food stored. To repeat, they leave Utopia in order to keep the population stable (which is the point of the whole paragraph in context) not to flee famine. 

As an aside, when a few pages later, Hythloday, moves to the subject of war, he presents them as near pacifists: "They detest war as a very brutal thing, and which, to the reproach of human nature, is more practised by men than by any sort of beasts.  They, in opposition to the sentiments of almost all other nations, think that there is nothing more inglorious than that glory that is gained by war." It turns out that there are only three official justifications for war: (i) "either to defend themselves or their friends from any unjust aggressors;" (ii) or to "assist an oppressed nation in shaking off the yoke of tyranny." In addition, and somewhat surprisingly also (iii) "offensive wars" but they never do that "unless they had been consulted before the breach was made, and, being satisfied with the grounds on which they went, they had found that all demands of reparation were rejected, so that a war was unavoidable." Hythloday seems to have forgotten the justification for colonial wars.

To return to the main argument. The Utopian justification for colonial wars is, of course, not just rooted in version of the right of necessity. As we have seen it also relies on the idea that one has no right to keep others from appropriating uncultivated land. When Utopia was published (1517), the Spanish were just starting their colonial projects. (Hythloday is presented as Portuguese who had traveled, in part, with Amerigo Vespucci.) So, the book has an uncanny prophetic quality. It is, then, no surprise that this feature of the Utopian justification for colonial wars are thought to anticipate Locke (recall):

Nor was this appropriation of any parcel of land, by improving it, any prejudice to any other man, since there was still enough and as good left, and more than the yet unprovided could use. So that, in effect, there was never the less left for others because of his enclosure for himself. For he that leaves as much as another can make use of, does as good as take nothing at all. Nobody could think himself injured by the drinking of another man, though he took a good draught, who had a whole river of the same water left him to quench his thirst. And the case of land and water, where there is enough of both, is perfectly the same.

It is uncanny how much this resembles the Utopian frame of mind. After all, the whole point of Utopian ideology and practice is to improve the land. Of course, the Utopians have no interest in defending individual property rights (Locke); their colonies also embrace communal ownership.+  And while I don't mean to suggest that the Utopians have an explicit formulation of the spoilage condition, they would clearly endorse it.* 

I close with three observations: first, the pre-history of the Lockean proviso explicitly involves a colonial project. Second, the Lockean proviso has roots in very egalitarian tendencies (for the in-group); this suggests that -- pace my colleague Bas Van der Vossen -- the left libertarian interpretation of Locke may well be defensible on broader contextual grounds. 

Third, and finally, there is no contradiction between Hythloday's endorsement of colonial land-grabbing of idle land, and his criticism of enclosure of the commons (which need not be idle, after all). It is uncanny how, when discussing colonialism and Wakefield's political economy, in chapter 33 of Capital, Marx sees the connection: "We have seen that the expropriation of the mass of the people from the soil forms the basis of the capitalist mode of production. The essence of a free colony, on the contrary, consists in this — that the bulk of the soil is still public property."

Of course, Marx goes on to say that the: "secret" of prosperity is that "every settler on it therefore can turn part of it into his private property and individual means of production, without hindering the later settlers in the same operation." But, analytically, as More discerned, this is also true of communist settler colonies. 

+There are a few exceptions to this rule, but that need not concern us here.

*It's true that the Utopians only belatedly have heard of Genesis. So, they lack a biblical justification.

Sargon on the Gay Rights Civil War between Lesbians and Trans Activists

Sargon of Akkad, real name Carl Benjamin, is a shabby individual. I’ve blogged about him several times before, not least because his recruitment to UKIP along with Mark ‘Nazi Pug’ Meecham and Paul Joseph Watson of Infowars infamy, effectively destroyed whatever electoral credibility that borderline Fascist party had. Sargon is very definitely a member of the extreme right. He’s islamophobic, anti-feminist and has been credibly accused of racism. He claims to represent the moderate left, but also defines himself as a ‘classical liberal’. Which means that he favours the complete privatisation of the economy, and the destruction of the welfare state. He’s notorious for sending a particularly noxious text to the Labour MP Jess Philips telling her ‘I wouldn’t even rape you’ when she was describing the threats of sexual assault and worse she receives.

But this time, surprisingly, he sounds like a reasonable human being.

In this video he comments on a letter sent last month to the Sunday Times, signed by 22 leading gay rights activists, including Simon Fanshawe, the co-founder of the gay rights organisation Stonewall. The letter condemns that that organisation for its support of trans activists and their denial of the biological basis of gender identity, which they feel is a dangerous threat to women’s rights. They are particularly concerned about the way their ideology – that gender identity is a mental construct – threatens to undermine women’s rights and voices in issues like FGM, pregnancy and abortion. Sargon agrees with them, noting that concepts like lesbianism and bisexuality are based on there being only two genders, which the trans activists deny. Sargon and the gays here object to people, who have been born men, claiming to have a right to speak for women on these issues. They also state that it is dangerous for trans activists to go into schools to encourage children to review their gender identity. Sargon also agrees with this, stating that half the time if ask children about what gender they identify with, they’ll answer with fire-engines and dinosaurs.

The lesbian activist Julie Bindel is also concerned about the violence and threats coming from trans activists. She states that there are no threats of violence coming from the terfs – an acronym standing for Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists. But there certainly are threats made by the trans activists. Such as slogans like ‘Punch a Terf’. Sargon also shows a video on the Mail Online page, in which Bindel walks down a road in which trans activists are holding a counter demonstration against a meeting by an anti-trans feminist group. The trans people are chanting ‘Trans rights are human rights’ and kicking at the windows of the building in which the meeting is being held. Bindel states that this being done to intimidate the women inside. She states that women are being threatened, and criticises the police around the building for not doing anything to protect the women inside.

So great is the conflict between gays, bisexuals and lesbians, particularly the latter, with the trans rights activists, that the letter to the Times talks of a split occurring in the LGBTQ group, with the formation of a splinter organisation, LGBQ.

Naturally the video also contains Sargon’s sneers about feminists and gay rights activists. He states that he finds their views ridiculous and laughs at them. In a dig at progressivism in general he replies to Bindels comment about women being intimidated that the police will do nothing against the trans activists, as trans people trump women as being a more oppressed group. Well, there’s that. But the way the cops moved Bindel on when she tried to stop and talk to some of the counterdemonstrators suggested that they were more worried that any action by them would turn it into a violent riot. Sargon does say, however, that although he laughs at the Terfs, they have a right to their views and to express them. And so he opposes their deplatforming and the way some organisations, like the Cooperative Bank, have refused to deal with Terf groups.

It’s a crazy situation when a near Fascist like Sargon actually starts to make sense and defends free speech and democracy. I think he’s right in that most people would see gender identity as based in biology, and it is dangerous for trans activists to try to encourage children to question their gender identity. And he’s right when he says that women faced with issues like FGM cannot escape them by claiming to be a different gender mentally.

There are caveats to his views, however. Some transpeople, like the trans vlogger Rose of Dawn, draws a distinction between the genuine transgendered and the gender radicals. Rose of Dawn is a transwoman herself, and has stated that trans people like her have invested a great deal financially and psychologically in their transition to the opposite gender. The gender radicals, however, consider gender to be simply a mental construct. They make little or no effort to change the physical markers of gender identity or their biological gender itself. They have created any number of different genders, some of which come close to, or are indistinguishable from parody. One of them is a ‘gender that identifies with space, stars and nebulae’. Most dangerously, these people consider that as gender is a mental construct, they wish to overturn the 2004 act that stipulates that diagnoses of gender dysphoria – the medical condition in which one’s mental gender does not match one’s biology – should only be made by medical professionals. Rose of Dawn is, unfortunately, like Sargon in that she is a person of the right. Nevertheless, she makes some excellent and interesting points.

The radical trans activists do seem to be a threat to women’s rights, although I would argue that some, hopefully the majority of transpeople identify so strongly with the gender to which they have transitioned, that they should be treated equally to born members of those genders. I also have a read accounts by trans activists, who have been physically assaulted by radical feminists, so I don’t believe that the violence and threats are all on one side. But there is a genuine issue here, and it’s a sad state when only the right is discussing it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kochland: Inside the Koch’s Vision for Public Education

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 03/10/2019 - 8:20pm in

In the latest episode of Have You Heard, we talk to Christopher Leonard about his bestselling new book, Kochland: The Secret History of Koch Industries and Corporate Power in America. Leonard spent seven years delving deep into the rise and reach of Koch Industries. He gained an inside perspective into how the Kochs see the world—and why remaking public education is such a priority for the family. Complete transcript of the episode is available here. And if you’re a fan of Have You Heard, please consider supporting us with a small donation.

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