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History Debunked Refutes Critical Race Theory’s Rejection of Objective Fact

In this video from History Debunked, YouTuber and author Simon Webb attacks Critical Race Theory’s epistemology. Critical Race Theory is the theory of racial politics, devised by American Marxists, that Blacks are the victims of institutional racism. As the video states, Critical Race Theory has largely been confined to the US for the past 40 years, but is now being adopted in Britain. It was the McPherson report following the murder of Stephen Lawrence, which introduced the idea of institutional racism in Britain with its conclusion that the Met was institutional racist. Since then a number of other organisations have also been accused of institutional racism, including the NHS.

Epistemology is the branch of philosophy dealing with knowledge. There is a difference between subjective and objective knowledge. The statement that light moves at 186,000 miles per second is objectively true. It can be tested. But the statement that X hates someone is subjective, as it is difficult to prove objectively. In the West, knowledge is generally regarded as objective fact. But Critical Race Theory rejects objective fact in favour of ‘Standpoint Epistemology’. This is the view that the opinions and perceptions of minorities are what matter, and these should be accepted uncritically, as demanding objective proof or questioning them is a form of oppression. The video also states that the theory also promotes instead of facts the stories Black people tell amongst themselves. These stories, which may include myths, are to be regarded as incontrovertible truth, and should similarly not be subjected to criticism or testing.

The video illustrates this by citing the views of a young Black woman, Yomimi, in an article published by the Beeb, and the Oprah Winfrey interview with Meghan Markle. The Beeb article is about the higher percentage of graduate unemployment among Blacks. Yomimi is quoted as saying that she feels it is due to institutional racism, and that employers automatically reject applicants from Black and Asian candidates, whose names are difficult to pronounce. This was the subject of a previous video by History Debunked yesterday, in which he argued against this assertion. Official statistics show that Chinese and Indians are slightly better at obtaining jobs than Whites, but Chinese names are notoriously difficult for westerners to pronounce. However, the Chinese generally do better in education than Whites, while fewer Blacks than Whites obtain two or more ‘A’ levels. Black unemployment may therefore have more to do with poor Black academic performance than institutional racism amongst employers. But what is important about the article is that Yomimi is not asked to provide supporting facts for her arguments. It is just how she feels or sees the situation.

Similarly, Markle said little in her interview with Winfrey that could be objectively verified. Significantly, Winfrey thanked Markle for speaking her ‘truth’. This sounds strange to British ears, but it’s part of the same viewpoint that rejects objective truth in favour of feelings and perceptions.

I’ve no doubt that racism exists in this country, and the police force, especially the Met, has been notorious for the racism of some of its officers. Racism appears to be one explanation for the Met’s failure to prosecute Lawrence’s murderers, but they were also the sons of notorious London gangsters. An alternative explanation was that the cops were afraid of prosecuting them because of their fathers, or else were corrupt and on their payroll. Private Eye also stated a few years ago that an Asian and White lad were also separately the victims of racist murders, and the Met was similarly negligent about finding and prosecuting their killers but that there was no mention of this.

The rejection of objective fact, however, is a fundamental element of Postmodernism and its moral and cultural relativism. Instead, it sees every culture and viewpoint as equal. Way back in the 1990s I tried to do an MA on British Islam at my old College. As part of it, my supervisor sent me to several Cultural Studies seminars, which were thoroughly postmodern. These were on colonial or western views of extra-European cultures. The attitude really did seem to be that westerners really couldn’t understand or appreciate other cultures, who should thus be exempt from western criticism. Any attempt to do so was dangerously prejudiced and ‘othering’.

Unfortunately, parts of the women’s movement have also been contaminated by this irratrionalism. In their book Intellectual Impostures, Sokal and Bricmont, one an American left-wing mathematician and physicist, the other a Belgian philosopher, attack postmodern philosophy and particularly its appropriation of scientific concepts. These are used nonsensically to give an appearance of depth and profundity to arguments that are actually absurd and incoherent nonsense. In one chapter they attack a number of postmodern feminist writers, who refuse to use conventional logical argument because logic and objective are patriarchal concepts that mentally imprison women. I am not joking, and this is most definitely not a wind-up.

A friend of mine came across this attitude, also back in the 1990s, in the women’s committee of the local branch of the National Union of Students. He was told by someone who worked with it, that it was one of three autonomous committees, whose conclusions were automatically passed as NUS policy. The other committees were for Black and LGBTQ students. The women’s committee similarly rejected logic and objective fact. Instead their debates supposedly consisted of them largely talking about their experiences of sexual abuse before concluding with their recommendation on a particularly issue. Which was passed with no debate. This situation should have been unacceptable. I have every sympathy for anyone who has been sexually abused, but official decisions need to be based on logical argument and proper debate, not entirely subjective feelings and personal history unless these are directly relevant to the matter.

Sokal and Bricmont were highly critical of this feminist rejection of logic, not least because it was based on a very traditional view, that has been used to exclude women from authority. For centuries women were largely excluded from a number of professions and political power on the basis that they, unlike men, were emotional rather than reasonable and logical. The Nazis used the same argument to justify their removal of women from the workplace and politics. They also believed in Cultural Relativism, and what was appropriate for one race was unsuitable for others. This is shown in their denunciation of democracy as ‘Jewish’. Now cultural relativism and the rejection of objective fact in favour of feelings and perceptions is being promoted as empowering for Blacks and women.

Proper discussion of racism is entirely appropriate, especially given the continuing poverty and marginalisation of the Black community. But this has to be done through rational discussion and argument, backed up with facts and statistics. And this means a rejection of Postmodernism and Critical Race Theory’s theory of knowledge.

Tories Once Again Demanding Clampdown in Schools for No Reason At All

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 08/04/2021 - 8:49pm in

Why do the Tories hate schoolchildren? Why are they so determined to make school as miserable as possible? I ask these questions, ’cause yesterday Mike put up a piece on his blog about the education minister, Gavin Williamson. Williamson has claimed that there’s a lack of discipline in schools because children were allowed greater freedom during the lockdown. Mobile phones are a particularly destructive influence, and shouldn’t be allowed.

Now I agree with Mike about this, who does agree with Williamson. They shouldn’t be allowed in schools because of the danger that children can use them to cheat. Quite apart from the temptation amongst some pupils to play Tetris or whatever at the back of the class instead of concentrating on Miss trying to teach them trigonometry. But this isn’t a new problem. People have been talking about the problems caused by mobile phones in school ever since children started taking them into class in the ’90s. What is remarkable is Williamson going on about the lack of discipline among school students when there’s absolutely no evidence for it. I haven’t heard anyone complain about a decline in schoolchildren’s behaviour in my neck of the woods, and I’m pretty sure you haven’t either.

In fact, not only is there no evidence that the returning pupils are particularly badly behaved, there appears to be plenty of evidence to the contrary. One of our friends down here in south Bristol is a school governor. They told us that the children coming back to school had actually been better behaved. So where does Williamson’s claim that discipline has declined come from?

I think it’s partly due to an habitual Tory distrust of youth. Ever since the ‘youthquake’ of the 1950s and the emergence of modern youth culture, there’s been a particular distrust of young people on the right. This wasn’t entirely unwarranted. I remember the annual fights during the Bank Holidays between Mods and Rockers at Weston Super Mud and elsewhere in the country, and those were frightening. There was a rise in juvenile delinquency, and for years the papers were full of stories about the terrible lack of discipline and poor educational standards in many schools. These were real problems. Private Eye devoted a whole section in one issue to complaints from teachers about the problems they were faced with teaching entirely uninterested, disruptive and sometimes violent students, compounded with lack of support from the headmaster or the education authorities. I dare say in some schools this is still the case, but it doesn’t seem quite the issue it once was. But school discipline is something of a Tory ‘talking point’. School standards are breaking down, and it’s all due to modern, progressive schooling. Kids are being indoctrinated into rebellion by Marxist feminist teachers of ambiguous sexuality.

Except that I don’t think they are. I wondered if this was a response to events at Pimlico academy last week, when the children and some staff decided that the headmaster’s new dress code was somehow racist, as was the flying of the union flag, which some idiot decided to burn. I don’t support the protests there – I think they’re unwarranted and show instead a nasty streak of racism amongst the protesters. But as far as I can make out, it was an isolated incident that was a response to very specific circumstances that has not been repeated elsewhere.

But it also seems to fit with the Tory determination to remove any kind of joy from schooling. When the Tories took over ten years or so ago, they declared that they were going to enforce school discipline and make sure the children worked hard, introducing homework for primary school children. There does seem a determination on the Tories’ part to make school as grim as possible.

And this attitude is shared by some of the academy chains that have been brought in to run schools. Before I came down with the myeloma I did voluntary work listening to children read at one of the local school in south Bristol. This was a normal primary school, whose walls were decorated with the children’s work and paintings along with the usual school notices, and the usual hubbub when the children came in from playground or moved between classroom. It came across as a normal, happy British school, full of normal, happy children.

And then the school was handed over to an academy chain, whose headquarters, incidentally, were registered in Eire as the usual tax dodge. The whole ethos changed. When next I arrived, the walls were bare except for the school notices and children were expected to move from class to class in silence. The children still seemed to be as happy as ever, but a vital part of the school experience had been excised. The place seemed far more dour. I suppose this new austerity was to show that there was now an emphasis on learning and the importance of discipline. It now seemed actually rather joyless and forbidding. I think that putting students’ work up on school walls is enormously encouraging – it rewards pupils for their good work but putting it up for the appreciation of the rest of the school. Or the kids’ parents at parents’ evenings. Ditto with the art. I think it helps to create an attitude among schoolchildren that it is their school, and creates a sense of a common school community. It’s what makes a school a school, rather than a prison.

I think this dour, very authoritarian attitude to education comes partly from Tory authoritarianism. The people at the top set the rules, and the lower orders have to obey, work and suffer. Conditions must be made as hard as possible to encourage people to work and improve themselves. It’s an attitude they’ve introduced into the welfare system by trying to make it as hard as possible to discourage people going onto benefits. This means making benefits all but impossible to obtain and doing their best to hide the fact that people are dying as a result. Now they’re introducing it to education.

I think it also partly comes from the Japanese school system that the Tories are desperate to emulate over here. I got the impression that discipline is extremely strict in Japanese schools, with staff even checking the children’s underwear to make sure they’re the right colour. It’s so strict in fact that in one year in the ’90s, five school kids were beaten to death by their teachers. But this discipline, supposedly, has led to the Japanese and other far eastern countries leading the world in high educational standards. However, a friend of mine told me years ago that this isn’t quite the case. Yes, the east Asian countries do lead the world in their educational standards, but the discipline and extremely hard work are actually typical of a relatively few Chinese and Japanese schools, not the system as a whole. And seeing how hard the schoolchildren in these countries are expected to work, you wonder if something is being lost. Hard work is important, but childhood should also be a time for fun.

Except to the Tories and Gavin Williamson, who seems to be so obsessed with a decline in school discipline that he’s seeing it where it doesn’t actually exist. Perhaps it’s another attempt to put state schools down after the failure of the algorithm he introduced a year ago to predict exam results. This aroused massive outrage because it unfairly assumed that pupils from state schools were perform far less well than those from private schools. Mike and the peeps on Twitter have suggested that Williamson might be trying to revenge himself on schoolkids after one of them tore apart his wretched algorithm on social media.

Whatever the cause, the fact remains that there has been no decline in school discipline. In fact, I’ve heard that in some schools the kids were actually better behaved. This means, as Mike has pointed out on his blog, that children have actually developed self-discipline. And good for them!

As for Williamson, this just shows how out of touch he is with real conditions in schools, and how determined he is to push the Tory view that all schoolchildren and young people are ill-behaved and need the firm hand of authority to keep them in order.

Closing Intransigence

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 26/03/2021 - 9:48am in

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Marxism

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Editorial from 1919 (mcmxix.org), the new journal of the North American affiliates of the ICT.

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1871-2021: Vive la Commune!

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 21/03/2021 - 12:41am in

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france, Marxism

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Today, we keep alive the lessons of 1871 and 1917.

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Covid Diaries Continued...

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 19/03/2021 - 10:21pm in

Last week I conveyed progress about my symptoms  (recall hereherehereherehere; here; and last week). Inevitably (one of my two favorite jokes, Q: “Are you happy?” A: “Yes, I am happy, aber glücklich bin ich nicht…”),* that was followed by a horrid week-end of headaches. (To be sure the headaches are not as painful as six to eight weeks ago.) It was horrid because now accompanied by a weird nausea. 

So, while I was receiving all kinds of encouraging and optimistic well wishes, I was in no mood to project optimism. Luckily the headaches dissipated again and the start of this week (Monday-Wednesday) was pain free, mildly marred by the by now familiar fatigue (and accompanying hunger). Unfortunately, the last two days the headaches have returned. In both cases I awake in the middle of the night confused why I can't fall back to sleep, eventually I realize that I have a strange pain (which has moved, again, now to the back of my skull). But despite my insomnia, I did not want to skip this update.

As it happens, and perhaps not unrelated, I was shocked and deeply saddened by the news that Dr. Rachelle Dyanne “Dara” Bascara has passed away. (HT: her colleague Nick Cowen). I feel frustrated that my illness prevents me from writing a detailed appreciation now. Heidi Howkins Lockwood has a touching memorial on her facebook page, but I am not sure it is public.

Long before #MeToo was mainstream, Dara was one of the people who bravely broke the conspiracy of silence in the philosophy profession about the predatory culture of sexual harassments that was being tolerated. The shock at what she revealed, as well as the fact that some senior philosophers also criticized her for her actions, convinced me that the magnificent work of (recall) feministphilosophers crew had not yet ended this culture in our time. Her example and our correspondence going back to 2014 nudged me into a series of digressions that have remained among the most read (and friendship ending) pieces I published. Her example got me thinking anew about how to conceptualize the nature of philosophical integrity, the coherence between a philosophical life and thought (which I also digressed upon). 
 
When my family moved to London we got to know each other a bit in person. She was able to combine genuine activism, intellectual profundity, humor, perseverance in the face of much hardship and indifference, and more than a touch of glamour. She always made a point to attend my talks.
 
She was proud of her PhD thesis "Towards a Unified Theory of Oppression," at Birkbeck, and in our last quick chat she told me she was pleased to have a position at Lincoln. But since the Covid lockdowns our interactions had been much reduced. I always silently assumed Dara would have the last laugh. Dara and her family had already overcome shocking circumstances, including (if I recall correctly) a lengthy cover-up of a brutal police murder of her father.+ My sincere condolences to her loved ones, friends, and colleagues.
 
This week we had a Dutch election, and surprisingly my post from four years ago on the topic has held up exceedingly well (recall here). This time around the election campaign was even more focused on values. And foreign affairs barely figured into the campaign. The historic collapse of Social democracy and Christian democracy continued, but now all left-wing parties collapsed along with them. (In fairness, none run an impressive campaign.) Simultaneously, as a group the rise of neo-fascist parties continued, despite splintering and scandal, apace.
 
Democratic left and neo-fascist right (some of which clearly not paying even lip-service to minimal norms of democracy anymore) both have a fifth of the seats in parliament now. (That's not unprecedented: for most of the 1930s Holland was ruled by Colijn, who was not just a war criminal, imperialist and racist, but practically invented 'austerity'; see also this shocking episode on the fate of Chinese living in Holland). But oddly -- it was a year of pandemic mismanagement, unprecedented riots, long simmering exposés on institutional racism and perversion of the rule of law in so-called toeslagenaffaire (childcare benefits scandal) that reached all the way to the most important state actors and prompted a merely symbolic government collapse-- the ruling bourgeois quasi-liberal center (divided in a cosmopolitan and a more conservative branch) came out strengthened and will surely rule again.
 
Since I am a bourgeois liberal the result is probably the best I could hope for given the circumstances. One problem with Dutch multi-party representative democracy is that, despite its many virtues, it lacks good rituals for cleansing of the stalls. Even when a resignation is not just symbolic, the consequence is that many failed politicians get kicked upstairs (into quasi-judicial roles in the council of state) or are parked (as part of a spoils system) as mayors (in Holland these are appointed) and so can still influence people's lives in non-trivial ways. The effect is to give the appearance that nothing changes. My spleen about the election was lessened because my excellent direct departmental colleagues in "Challenges" were all over the media (including TV) as expert commentators.
 
I am always amused that Marx and Engels thought that Holland was a likely place to initiate socialist revolution. I now think that if the Nazis had allowed the Dutch government to continue as before after defeat in May 1940, De Geer would have been reelected. 
 
Hopefully, with Spring sunshine, next week my digression will be more upbeat.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Interestingly, among scholars Hirschman made it famous; and both he and Kolakowski, who also used it, effaced or made esoteric the Jewish element. It's cropped up in other places, and I wouldn't be surprised to see it attributed to Morgenstern some day.

+ One wonders how she reacted to Sarah Everard's disappearance and death at the hands of a police-officer. 

 

Matt Taibbi or the Boy who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 16/03/2021 - 4:16pm in

Last month Matt Taibbi (author, journalist, and podcaster) sent the hornets into a fit of fury with “Marcuse-Anon: Cult of The Pseudo-Intellectual” an angry piece on Herbert Marcuse, a (or the) sacred cow of the identitarian Left.

And no one was more evidently furious than Jonathan Feldman (docent at the Department of Economic History, Stockholm University), who replied with “Matt Taibbi, Herbert Marcuse and the Journalistic Appropriation of Philosophy”.

Although I sympathise with Taibbi (yes, I ain’t no fan of Marcuse and I’m even less favorably disposed to educated, relatively affluent, upwardly mobile identitarian Leftists – which Feldman seems to champion) I am sorry to say neither side covered itself in glory in this brouhaha.

By coincidence, however, current Australian affairs offer a good opportunity to illustrate where Marcuse has valuable things to say and to start my comment on that controversy.

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A little digression is needed.

Australian women are protesting the COALition Government inaction on women’s rights at work and against sexual and other kinds of gendered violence. This comes after a series of rape allegations against current Cabinet members and their staffers (one of the alleged victims took her own life).

Yesterday women protested around Australia. To that effect, they organised a series of peaceful rallies to express their frustration.

This is how PM Scott Morrison began his speech before the House of Representatives, as protesters just outside Parliament House were left unsuccessfully demanding his presence:

“Today here and in many cities across our country, women and men are gathering together in rallies both large and small to call for change and to act against violence directed towards women. It is good and right that so many are able to gather here in this way, whether in our capital or elsewhere, and to do so peacefully to express their concerns and their very genuine and real frustrations. This is a vibrant liberal democracy. Not far from here, such marches, even now, are being met with bullets—but not here in this country. It is a triumph of democracy when we see these things take place.”

So, a liberal democratic government’s inaction on women’s issues is redeemed by the fact women can protest that inaction without being shot.

Local politicians, observers and commentators didn’t fail to notice that. What they failed (or refused) to understand is its implications.

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What does that have to do with Herbert Marcuse? Well, he deals with such situations in “Repressive Tolerance”:

“The exercise of political rights (such as voting, letter-writing to the press, to Senators, etc., protest-demonstrations with a priori renunciation of counterviolence) in a society of total administration serves to strengthen this administration by testifying to the existence of democratic liberties which, in reality, have changed their content and lost their effectiveness. In such a case, freedom (of opinion, of assembly, of speech) becomes an instrument for absolving servitude”.

Readers can see Morrison’s 2021 speech foretold in Marcuse’s 1966 fragment, yes? So, Marcuse’s work is not just wankery.

Let me spell out the implications of that for Aussies: liberal democracy is a sham.

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A problem with Taibbi’s criticism is that he seems to believe until Marcuse had his Idea (with big I), people acted otherwise. Instead of the Devil, it was Marcuse’s Idea who made them do it. But that’s not true.

Mind you, if I’m right and my assessment of Taibbi is fair, he isn’t the only one – or the first – to believe that Idea precedes and makes reality.

Nobody can realistically believe Scotty from Marketing has ever read any literature beyond whatever Hillsong produces. More relevantly, I doubt even his speechwriters have read Marcuse.

Identitarian Leftists, however, do use Marcuse as an intellectual cover for what they were already doing.

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This brings us to Feldman’s really long reply (roughly twice as wordy as Taibbi’s already wordy post). He proceeds by points. I will only comment on one, that I find particularly wrong: “Did Marcuse Trash the Working Class as Agents of Change?”

Marcuse didn’t, Feldman asserts and dugs up two quotes (from 1967 and 1969) to prove it. The first one, for example, was a lecture Marcuse delivered at the Free University of Berlin, explaining in public that he never trashed the working class.

The question is if Marcuse’s comradely love for the working class was so evident, so clear for all to see, why would people – even in his own time, for Christ’s sake! – doubt it? Because on one thing Feldman is right: many people before Taibbi believed Marcuse trashed the working class.

So, why did these people entertain such idea? Ask them. My guess is that they may have read what Feldman forgot to read: thesis 32 in Marcuse’s 1947 “33 Theses” (which, incidentally, also addresses his “Did Marcuse Love Lenin and Dictatorships?”). Let me quote Marcuse in full (the emphasis is mine):

“While the unions in their traditional structure and organization represent a force hostile to revolution, the political workers’ party remains the necessary subject of revolution. In the original Marxist conception the party does not play a decisive role. Marx assumed that the proletariat is driven to revolutionary action on its own, based on the knowledge of its own interests, as soon as revolutionary conditions are present. In the mean time monopoly capitalism has found the ways and means of economically, politically and culturally leveling the majority of the proletariat. The negation of this leveling before the revolution is impossible. The development has confirmed the correctness of the Leninist conception of the vanguard party as the subject of the revolution. It is true that the communist parties of today are not this subject, but it is just as true that only they can become it. Only in the theories of the communist parties is the memory of the revolutionary tradition alive, which can become the memory of the revolutionary goal once again; only its situation is so far outside the capitalist society that it can become a revolutionary situation again”.

Again, Marcuse’s Idea did not create reality. He only expressed in scholarly language what less scholarly minds always believed: at best the working class was their tool, their asset, which they could use to attain power for the greater good (aka Leninism) or write it off when it becomes unprofitable (aka identitarian Left).

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I won’t quote from it, but you will find in Noel Ignatin and Ted Allen’s “White Blindspot” Marcuse’s ideas on the working class, more crudely expressed, with less care for philosophical nuances – or PR. Their message, however, is the same: the white working class (the majority of the American proletariat) made a sweetheart agreement with the US ruling class.

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Feldman seems oblivious to this, but any moderately thinking working person can bear witness to the disdain our better off brethren feel for us. But you won’t take our word for that. The “lived experience” thing does not apply to us. No matter. Occasionally, even some among our better off brethren have remarked on it. Barbara Ehrenreich, for one, has. George Orwell, too. The second part of his 1937 book “The Road to Wigan Pier” became infamous for that.

Indeed, back in 1879, Marx and Engels also witnessed that and as a consequence threatened to disown German social democracy (see part three of that circular letter).

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We leave the Taibbi/Feldman quarrel at that.

Once upon a time, the liberal/Leftish parasitising the workers’ movement from its very start and sapping its energies like a tapeworm could speak their minds openly. Workers needed their representation, because of our “seedy appearances”; we didn’t look respectably bourgeois. We lacked their good manners and taste; we were “louts besotted with barricades”. Their British contemporaries, less tactful, would say we smelled (or were dysgenic).

Eventually, such openness became unacceptable. So, come election time, everybody dons hi-visibility vests and hard hats. But as soon as electoral defeat happens, we become throwbacks; homogeneously bigoted among all others in society; sell-outs who don’t know our own interests and stubbornly reject the caring guidance of those who know better (sometimes, however, we still revert to dysgenic or just plain stupid and inbred a la Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel).

At any rate “the working class is incapable of emancipating itself by its own efforts. In order to do so it must place itself under the direction of ‘educated and propertied’ bourgeois who alone have ‘the time and the opportunity’ to become conversant with what is good for the workers”.

When Marx and Engels denounced that, Leninism and the New Left were still in the future. They could have written it about them; what they wrote then still applies to our own time.

Mythology About the Middle Class and the Class Struggle

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 02/03/2021 - 12:16am in

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The notion that there exists a growing middle class whose livelihood rests neither on wage labour nor manufacturing or industrial profits has long been used to challenge Marx’s revolutionary perspective that ultimately the future of capitalism will be decided by a struggle between the two great contending classes in modern society: the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, or if you prefer, the bosses and the workers.

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The Tours Congress and the Birth of the French Communist Party

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 24/02/2021 - 12:40am in

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france, Marxism

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It is now 100 years since the Tours Congress of 25 to 31 December 1920, when the majority of delegates of the French Section of the Workers' International (SFIO) voted to join the Third International.

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Where Are All These Communists the Tories Claim Are Threatening Britain?

Okay, I might be a bit slow here, but I am starting to wonder what planet Nigel Farage, Priti Patel and the Tory party and press are on when they start screaming that British society is under threat from a resurgent, but covert Marxism? About a week or so ago now Zelo Street posted a piece about the McCarthyism that now seemed set to grip the nation. The smirking, odious, racist Priti Patel had announced that MI5 were looking into renewed threats from the Fascist far right and the Marxist left. According to her, the Socialist Party, or the Socialist Workers’ Party as it used to be known, might be infiltrating Black Lives Matter and Extinction Rebellion. Yup, as in the days of the Cold War, the Commies and Trots are at it again, trying to infiltrate other left-wing groups and take them over.

In fairness, this was a tactic of the Socialist Workers Party, which practised something called ‘revolutionary entryism’. The idea was to infiltrate other left-wing organisations and try to turn them into front organisations for the party in an attempt to make Trotskyite Marxism something like a popular mass movement. They did it in the 1970s/80s to Rock Against Racism, which had been set up to challenge the rise of the NF, BNP and other Fascist scumbags. All that it achieved, however, was the collapse of the organisation as the majority of its membership left. They weren’t interested in Trotskyite Marxism. They simply wanted to hear some great bands while combating Fascism and racial hatred. It’s because of its antics attempting to infiltrate and take over every vaguely left-wing organisation, or capitalise on every left-wing issue at the expense of other organisations, that many on the left, from the moderate, reformist Labour Party to various anarchist groups, don’t trust the SWP.

Besides this is the fact that Black Lives Matter, or at least its American parent, is already a Marxist organisation. If the Socialist Workers were trying to infiltrate it, it would be a case of one Marxist group trying to take over another. It’s possible, but seems unlikely. It sounds like something from the Illuminatus! books by Robert Anton Wilson and O’Shea, about warring secret societies plotting against and trying to infiltrate each other.

As for Extinction Rebellion, from what little I’ve seen of its broader political content – and this comes from idly looking at one of the organisation’s posters put up on a wall while waiting for a taxi – it does seem to be a radical left organisation. It’s very anti-racist, anti-sexist and anti-capitalist. But it seems to me that this comes from the very radical programme adopted by parts of the Green movement. When it first emerged in the 1980s or so, the German Green Party – Die Gruenen – included as one of its leading members the lawyer for the Bader-Meinhof gang. There’s a section of the anarchist movement that is also very ecologically aware. The American anarchist intellectual, Murray Bookchin, was advocating a green, eco-friendly anarchism back in the 1980s and in the 1990s there was a British anarchist mag called Green Anarchist, I believe. You don’t need to invoke the Trotskyites of the SWP to explain Extinction Rebellion’s socially radical, anti-capitalist programme.

Would the SWP be interested in infiltrating Extinction Rebellion? I don’t know. Possibly. But they aren’t nearly as strong as they were. I think Marxism as a whole suffered a loss of credibility with the fall of Communism, which might be why radical anti-capitalists seemed to switch to anarchism or else an undefined ‘anti-capitalism’ that could take in a range of socialist and radical left views. The Socialist Workers, now renamed as the Socialist Party, are still about. You can find their videos on YouTube. But even before the lockdown they didn’t seem to be the visible presence on the streets they used to be.

The Tories and their press need to scare people with a threat from the radical left. I remember that in the late ’80s and ’90s they switched from trying to frighten people with the bogeyman of Communist infiltration – although they’d done that with the Labour Party in the 1987 election – to anarchism with the rise of Class War. Now that Class War has also gone the way of many radical movements and fizzled out, the Tories in Britain and the Republicans in America have turned once again to invoking the spectre of Communism.

And because of the very anti-racist, anti-sexist, pro-LGBTQ+ policies adopted by some universities, they’re now trying to claim that western education is under threat from Marxist infiltration. Nigel Farage apparently was in the pages of the Depress a few days ago, writing that the Marxist takeover of our education system was nearly complete. Really? I must have missed all that. There are Marxists in the universities, and have been for a very long time. And some of them are excellent scholars. I got a feeling that Vere Gordon Childe, the Australian archaeologist who first devised the notion of the Neolithic Revolution – the idea that agriculture and the rise of the first settled societies were linked and constituted a radical break with the hunter-gatherer societies of the Paleo- and Mesolithic – was a Communist. He was, however, a brilliant archaeologist and highly influential, even if recent excavations in Turkey have demonstrated that people were settling down into villages before the invention of agriculture. And yes, there are and have always been academics with very pronounced left-wing views. I can think of a number from my own experience as a student. But many others, probably the vast majority, aren’t. And some academics, who privately hold left-wing views, are very careful to keep them separate from their teaching. And whatever their political views, I think the main concern of all teaching staff, from university academics to school teachers, is simply to teach, not to indoctrinate students.

In any case, there are laws against political or religious indoctrination anyway. I think it was introduced by Blair. Teachers are not supposed to teach their political or religious opinions as fact. They are to avoid this as much as possible. If they can’t, then they are supposed to make clear that this is just their opinion. This legislation has been around since at least the middle of the last decade, if not earlier. It should provide sufficient protection already from attempts by the politically motivated to indoctrinate their students.

All these claims of a surreptitious takeover of the education system by Marxists seems to be a return to the days of Maggie Thatcher, when rags like the Depress, the Heil and the local paper for Bristol, the Evening Post, ran stories about Communist teachers indoctrinating their students. The Scum attempted to titillate and scare its readers with a tale about children in various London boroughs – possibly Brent – being taught to sing ‘Ba Ba Green Sheep’ as an anti-racist version of ‘Ba Ba Black Sheep’. This is supposed to have been invented by the wretched rag, but I’ve talked to people, who’ve claimed that it was done in their former school, so who knows? At the same time, I’ve heard that Thatcher also introduced legislation with the intention of purging Marxists from the education system. In fact the Marxists got round it by claiming to be ‘Marxian’. They were only Marxists in culture. It was a fine distinction, but it allowed them to retain their jobs.

But apart from this, university is supposed to be a place for the formulation and discussion of a wide range of views. A vital part of the university experience is the exposure to different opinions and encouragement to form their own views. The current scaremongering about the Marxists trying to takeover the education system is the opposite of this. It’s an attempt to limit free speech and discussion, as Zelo Street pointed out, only the approved Tory views will be heard. Hence the appointment of a ‘free speech tsar’.

Now I will concede that some student bodies are intolerant with protests against talks by visiting personalities they believe hold unacceptable views. Gender critical feminists and their allies, for example, have found themselves blocked from speaking at some universities because their views are held to be bigoted against the transgendered. But there’s also a cancel culture on the right. The estimable Tony Greenstein put up a piece last week about attempts by the Board of Deputies and Bristol University’s Union of Jewish Students to have one of the lecturers, David Miller, banned as an anti-Semite. This is not because of anything Miller has said against Jews. His cardinal sin is saying that Zionism must be destroyed. As we’ve seen, the Board and the other, establishment Jewish organisations are fanatically pro-Israel and conflate opposition to that nation, or simply criticism of its barbaric treatment of the indigenous Palestinians, with real Jew hatred. But Zionism has never been synonymous with Judaism. For many Jews, it’s diametrically opposed, as the graffiti on a wall in Jerusalem had it. Zionism is an ideology, not a people. Stating that Zionism needs to be destroyed is a contentious viewpoint, but it does not mean that the speaker wishes harm to the Jewish people.

Who is the free speech tsar, who will defend lecturers like David Miller? I think it would be a very brave politician who would risk damaging his or her career by doing so in the present political climate. Even if they had the inclination to do so, which the political establishment doesn’t.

I do find some of the radical policies now being implemented in some universities alarming, like the reports that students in some places of learning will be required to take compulsory anti-racism training in order to combat anti-Black racism on campus. It’s obviously very well intentioned, but as I’ve said, racism really isn’t simply a case of White on Black, and I am afraid such mandatory courses are based on a very simplistic view of Whites that sees White culture as innately racist, or inclined to racism. But I see absolutely no evidence that Marxists are behind it.

All this nonsense by Patel and the Tory press about Marxist infiltration is just another Red Scare in order to whip up support for legislation designed to purge the universities of anything that contradicts received Tory ideology. They are trying to destroy free speech, not defend it, and the appointment of a ‘free speech tsar’ is in many ways dangerous and hypocritical.

For further information, see:

Zelo Street: Free Speech Champion WON’T BE (zelo-street.blogspot.com)

Zelo Street: War On Woke = Government Censorship (zelo-street.blogspot.com)

Defend Bristol University’s Professor David Miller – Defend Academic Freedom – Defend Free Speech – Tony Greenstein

If you wish to defend Dr Miller from these outrageous allegations, you can sign a petition at Change.org here, as I have done.

http://chng.it/rTqY9r2FgM

Book Review: Revolution and Disenchantment: Arab Marxism and the Binds of Emancipation by Fadi A. Bardawil

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 20/02/2021 - 9:00pm in

In Revolution and Disenchantment: Arab Marxism and the Binds of Emancipation, Fadi A. Bardawil uncovers the archives of the Marxist Lebanese Left from the 1950s to the start of the Lebanese Civil War in 1975, taking this history of revolutionary thought as a premise to explore the relation between theory and practice, the making of intellectuals and the … Continued

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