Tall stories: Research, innovation and the private sector.

The theory that the private sector is uniquely suited to innovation is something I hear repeatedly from the right, particularly the (US) Libertarians. During any dialogue, one is often hastily directed towards examples of perceived success, such as; Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, Google and so on. But, what do these corporate behemoths have in common? Go on, you can do it! Yep, you’ve guessed it, the internet. All of these companies rely heavily on this medium. But it turns out, the first incarnation of the internet was developed by the Advance Research Project Agency Network. ARPNET was originally funded by the US Department of Defence in the late 1960’s. Do I detect the smell of hypocrisy in the air.

Now, I am totally aware of how science works, it learns and builds on what has gone before, so there is never really one source of credit for a particular invention. The goal of this piece is not to condemn private research, but to merely temper the spin surrounding corporate innovation and to highlight the importance of public funding. Especially in light of Libertarian’s, who are constantly espousing the merits of smaller government. Rather than a reduced government for the sake of it, maybe we should focus on smarter government. What is crucial to recognise as exemplified by the internet is that it is often during the early ‘hard yards’ when projects are reliant on public money. At the very time when there is more risk and a greater potential loss of large sums of cash. When it appears likely something will make a profit, however, private backers and corporations suddenly start crawling out of the woodwork.

The private sector innovation tale is based upon the supposed efficiency of this sector. Which proclaims that leaving it to the government, research and innovation is commonly viewed as bureaucratic and sluggish. Yet, this ideology is not confirmed by any evidence, but is falsely perpetuated by, yes you’ve guessed it, the private sector. The unpredictability regarding the success of an innovation often provokes uncertainty from traditional banks and venture capitalists. Financial support for big picture research and development such as, tackling climate change or putting a man on the moon, is primarily secured via public channels. Research aside, many governments often provide ‘early stage’ funding too, from which Apple was a grateful recipient, to the tune of $500,000.

iphone

Furthermore, every bit of technology found on a smart phone owes a great debt of gratitude to state funding. These features include, GPS (developed by the CIA), touchscreen displays, the voice activated assistant ‘Siri’ and of course the internet. Evidently public funding extends way beyond the military. To demonstrate this, the US government funds approximately 75% of the most innovative drugs annually. Even Google’s algorithm was gained from US National Science Foundation funding. Brazil, China, the US, Singapore and Denmark are all examples of nations who have invested heavily in research and innovation, in arenas such as ‘green technology’.

The myth of the public sector being less innovative than the private sector, is promoted as mentioned by the private sector, in the form of powerful lobbyist and the mainstream propaganda machine. We are encouraged to believe that innovation is led by entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. While the leverage gained from this narrative has been used politically, such as, to lower capital gains and income tax, which in turn hampers the public sector to continue funding projects at a similar rate. The biggest ‘kick in the balls’ despite all this financial backing for varying tech corporations, such as Apple and Google, is they hardly pay any tax in relation to their profits.

It is important to recognise that the state is a primary risk taker and needs to be fairly rewarded for this role. This will in turn make the area of innovation and research stronger, while helping to spread profits more equally. These funds can simply be syphoned back into regions such as education, health and transport. Rather than continuing to swell the bank balances of a small posse of dubious characters who see themselves as the world’s wealth creators. This line of thinking isn’t difficult, remarkable or particularly ground-breaking. Finland chose this path when funding Nokia early on, retaining equity when investing. Another option could be, keeping a share of intellectual rights, which invariably is given away in this current neoliberal era.

Anyway, to finish here’s a varied list of items invented by NASA.

  • Memory foam
  • House insulation
  • Portable cordless vacuum cleaner
  • Water filters
  • Scratch resistant lenses
  • Freeze drying
  • Insulin pumps
  • Cat-scans
  • Cochlear implants
  • Solar energy
  • Smoke detectors
  • Artificial limbs

Solar Panel with green grass and beautiful blue sky

These are just a few examples from one organisation, provided purely to drive my point home. We need to remember, private companies are only about profit, nothing more nothing less. If we solely rely on corporations for innovation, in fields that may provide no obvious or discernible benefits or display too much potential risk, certain future developments will simply not occur. Can both private and public sectors work together in this area? Probably. But the private sector has to be honest regarding the significant contribution that is provided by government entities. Meanwhile, the state needs to recognise that they provide vital assistance for research and development on a multitude of levels. I would strongly suggest that they bargain accordingly with the corporate sector, which would inevitably enrich society as a whole.

Why neoliberalism condemns us to class warfare and why nobody cares.

For about 35 to 40 years depending on where you live we have been ruled by a pervasive political and economic system. This system is called neoliberalism, but to many this is considered the only viable economic option. So lets get a working definition from one of the foremost academics on this topic. David Harvey suggests; “neoliberalism is a political project carried out by the corporate capitalist class, as they felt intensely threatened both politically and economically towards the end of the 1960’s into the 1970’s. They desperately wanted to launch a political project that would curb the power of labour’. 

Much of the general public are totally unaware of, or unable to explain what neoliberalism is, it can appear as some kind of natural order, rather like the theory of evolution or gravity. Alternatively for others it seems the more you try to make sense of it, the more you realise you start sounding eerily similar to an unhinged Neo in the film ‘The Matrix’. There is no doubt that the neoliberal project has been a conscious effort to snatch more power away from the majority, thus returning it to the already rich and powerful. Neoliberal supporters and their beneficiaries clearly have one primary goal, which is to convince society to continue consuming and producing at a ravenous pace. This destructive ideology offers no positive connection to humanity or has anything favourable to offer the masses, but it does make a few psychopaths very rich.                      

Furthermore, it fails to provide any utility beneficial to the wider society and yet we continue to feed this monster through our obsession with external gratification. We have been told, particularly in the western world that we are selfish creatures, constantly inventing ways to maximise self-interest. This opinion of human nature being entirely self-serving is supported by questionable theories, one such popular tale is of ‘homo economicus‘. Although this narrative has constantly been refuted by many, such as renowned behavioural economist Daniel Kahneman, this tall story among others still persists today.

Despite reams of evidence to suggest our current system is truly beneficial only for the richest and the most socially connected in society; for example, 26 of the world’s richest people have more wealth than the poorest 50% of society (3.8 billion people), alas the juggernaut continues. We are told that there is no other way, that capitalism and free trade has lifted more people out poverty than any other system. When we look closely at this bold claim, it is found to be disingenuous at best. Granted some nations have done well from free trade, but others have suffered. In fact, research offers that most nations tend to do better for all with some form of a mixed economy. Freer trade certainly has not contributed to lifting millions of people out of poverty.

Take China for example, millions have been lifted out of poverty, but this has been achieved by embracing free trade with other nations, while adopting mercantilism. This is the deliberate manipulation of the system utilising protectionism and state capitalism. This form of economic policy can be seen in South Korea, Japan and even Germany. To support this point, as recently as 1987, China had the same per capita GDP as India, now it has three times that of India.

To continue with the status quo, the rich (who are also the most powerful) need a believable story to keep the pitchforks off their manicured lawns. One of these regularly repeated tales is known as ‘trickle down economics’, the premise being that the wealth of the richest will trickle down to the minions. I like to refer to this as ‘golden shower economics’, as we are being regularly pissed on by the ‘obnoxious classes’. Contrary to this capitalist myth, the stats suggest that the gap between the rich and poor is the widest for over 50 years, which makes a mockery of the ‘theory’, however, despite this, capitalism continues to thrive unabated.

To maintain this extreme form of capitalism, despite evidence suggesting it undoubtedly fails the majority of us, there is a need for distraction. This is something that arises in many forms, rendering much of society into a intellectual slumber. Rarely do people sitting on their sofas while watching ‘Gogglebox‘ contemplate such questions as; is this system honestly the best we can do in the 21st century? Conservative and right wing adherents instinctively will proclaim that this is indeed the best system available. Of course, this belief was strengthened following the collapse of the Berlin Wall, which was of sorts, a political ideological coronation. Other people on the other hand are just apathetic to politics, assuming all politicians are the same and that nothing will ever change. While many are happy to be ignorant consumers, so long as they can purchase the newest iPhone, a pair of Louboutin’s or whatever other item fills the gaping hole in their soul.

Outside of any internal ambivalence to politics, there are a multitude of external distractions, just in case the rigours of daily life become unbearable or just mind numbingly tedious. There are a plethora of choices to divert your attention, from; vacuous TV programmes, all consuming video games, countless sporting events, staring blankly at your phone or even the hero worshiping of celebrities. Television channels are now packed with empty headed, inane wannabees, who adorn ‘reality’ TV shows from Love Island in the UK to New Zealand’s nauseating ‘Married at First Sight’.  

britains-got-talent-2016 Meanwhile, glorified caravan park talent show supremo Simon Cowell presides over his many creations. Regularly using his shows to catapult one of his hopefuls to #1 for Christmas, thereafter, to be forgotten (hopefully) forever. It’s a fair assumption to conclude that trashy TV is more popular with the female population, however, men are also supplied with ample distractions, often in the form of sport.

I know plenty of women who enjoy sports, but essentially it’s men who become totally immersed in the live drama and frequently take leave of their senses. Am I suggesting we shouldn’t have interests outside of the important issues of the world? Of course not. It is, however, a problem when we perceive the final of ‘X’ Factor, the Champions League Final or the winner of MasterChef as premier events within the calendar year. Marx suggested religion was the “opiate of the masses”. I would offer that our current opiate is more likely to be our endless array of weapons of mass distraction that transports us to a place where life is simple and our innermost thoughts can remain buried deep within.

Of course, any acknowledgement of distraction mechanisms wouldn’t be complete without the mention of the media. Professor of linguistics at MIT Noam Chomsky discussed the role of the media in his book with Edward S Herman ‘Manufacturing Consent‘. In this, they suggested that the media was built on levels, with each outlet aiming at a particular segment of the populace. For example, there are mainstream papers such as ‘The Sun’ (UK) all the way through to the New York Times (US), which Chomsky often describes as ‘elite media’. Online outlets such as Buzzfeed, Huffington Post and the Mail Online are considered mainstream on both the left and right. Meanwhile, radio provides general channels all the way through to outlets such as RNZ National (New Zealand) and BBC radio 4 (UK). Incidentally, Chomsky would declare that these last two stations would be apart of the ‘elite media’ which is also referred to as the ‘agenda setting media’, aimed primarily at the wealthy or professional people.

Propaganda does not work haphazardly, a huge amount of thought goes into it and many techniques are employed for a specific effect. Here are four basic techniques that are regularly used to elicit a particular response.

  • Activating strong emotions.
  • Responding to audience needs and values.
  • Simplifying information and ideas.
  • Attacking opponents.

Activating strong emotions – Propaganda exponents play on human emotions in an effort to direct audiences towards the required reaction. These are simply mind games designed to exploit people’s fears and prejudices. Messages can be specifically created in order to propagate a level of excitement and arousal, bypassing critical thinking. Emotions that are generally manipulated are; fear, hope, anger, frustration and sympathy.

Responding to audience needs and values – Effective propaganda supplies a narrative, language and themes that appeal directly, sometimes exclusively to certain groups. These could be as diverse as ethnic identity, hobbies, personal aspirations and beliefs. A propaganda campaign at times can also be universal to create a sense of unity and belonging. The more personally relevant the message is, the greater the effect is likely to be, as people will tend to pay attention and absorb key ideas.

Simplifying information and ideas – Truths, half truths, opinions, lies and falsehoods are all used in propaganda. Successful propaganda generally utilises simple stories that are familiar and trusted. There is a repeated usage of metaphors and imagery, this is designed to make the narrative to appear natural or “true”. Oversimplification can invariably be adopted as an effective means of replacing critical thinking. It is also something in which the audience seeks in order to reduce complexity.

Attacking opponents – Propaganda can be practiced as a form of political and social warfare, used to vilify and identify opponents. It often questions the legitimacy, credibility and character of ones opponents and ideas. This approach produces an ‘us or them’ effect, which stifles any opinion outside of this binary framework. It serves to targets individuals, destroy reputations, incite hatred, cultivate indifference and exclude specific groups of people.

ed bernays

As well as these techniques routinely being exploited by the media, it’s worth recognising that despite the illusion of choice regarding TV programmes or more importantly news outlets, our real choice does not match our perceptions. Take the US, despite the many channels that are on offer, just 6 corporations own 90% of media. These six are; Comcast, TimeWarner, News Corp, Disney, Viacom and CBS. Although technically CBS and Viacom are owned by the same company that being National Amusements.

Here in New Zealand, one could argue considering the population (under 5 million), we have a comparative abundance of choice. There are currently 4 main media corporations and one crown entity, which comprises of Māori TV, Television New Zealand and Radio New Zealand. Despite this, oftentimes there is a feeling that each outlet is providing a similar narrative. Rarely in the mainstream world do you witness any criticism or questioning of the economic/political system we reside under.

This is unsurprising as these corporations presenting their interpretations of events are ingrained in the neoliberal machinery. It takes a long metaphorical journey to the outer margins of journalism to find any media outlet offering an opposing view regarding capitalism. One of the few such outlets can be traced in the UK, that being the long running Morning Star (now primarily online), unsurprisingly derided by the mainstream media. Despite the obvious failures of neoliberalism, there is still a relative paucity of criticism or more importantly coherent ideas as a response to capitalism. This is severely disappointing, especially considering Karl Marx began critiquing capitalism over a hundred years ago.

Neoliberalism has been allowed to stumble along, as many of the young and politically active, have shifted the focus of their attention away from global concerns towards the self. This postmodern inspired form of activism targets perceived inequality regarding; race, gender and sexual identity. It is wholly introspective, with the participants generally being associated with the group they support. In this sense society as a whole is viewed entirely through a group oppressor-oppressed dynamic, creating fertile ground for the oppression Olympics. On this occasion there are no participation prizes, as is the norm nowadays, this time the group enjoys the hugely sort after title of ‘victim’.

It’s important to note that the status of each group, therefore, by association the fate of the individuals contained within these groups, are decided purely on the basis of melanin levels, sexuality and the configuration of genitalia. This is evident regarding feminist slogans such as ‘toxic masculinity’, ‘patriarchy’ and ‘rape culture’. Individual or changeable considerations, such as class, economic status and educational attainment are conveniently dismissed. I strongly suggest that if we were to use the ‘individual’ parameters as above, most ‘identarians’ would be considered privileged and therefore requested to relinquish their ‘hard’ earned victim status badges.

It’s this sort of postmodern doublethink, now masquerading as ideologies such as ‘intersectional feminism’ that promotes politics for narcissists. Embraced primarily by Millenials and now Gen Z, it is used to quelle any opposition, stifle freedom of speech in the name of diversity and ultimately change societal rules for their benefit. This movement possesses a distinctly puritanical quality, that seeks to control what we think, say, feel and do. Generally speaking this brand of activism produces absolutely zero benefits for the majority of society. Despite these misgivings, unsurprisingly identity politics has been embraced by many mainstream political parties, generally in the west.

JT
Trudeau virtue signalling

In recent times a penchant for identity politics is now considered one of the hallmarks of the left. Tony Blair, Bill Clinton, Justin Trudeau and Barak Obama, are all big supporters of Social Justice. We really need to ask the question, why do some of the most powerful people in the world appear to take an interest in identity politics. One suggestion could be that identity politics is just another method of keeping people occupied, while the ‘grown ups’ continue to preside over increasing inequality and the bombing of more sovereign nations. Meanwhile, Social Justice Activists seem to be more engaged with tackling ‘mansplaining‘ or the merits of ‘Halloween costumes‘, rather than fighting poverty, economic inequality, climate change or the many illegal wars scattered around the world.

At the risk of stating the obvious, neoliberalism is not compatible with the wellbeing of most people, because profits and wealth become purposefully concentrated at the top. It cannot work in harmony with reducing the rate at which we use our natural resources or care about the damage intensive production causes our planet. Capitalism demands infinite growth on a planet that has finite resources. Many of the processes that drive constant production demanded by this system are leading to irreparable damage to our only home. Despite the warning signs, there is still ambivalence towards any suggestions that maybe, we need a change of system.

Unfortunately, the majority of people in the ‘anglosphere’ appear to be completely obsessed with themselves. This could be displayed through endless selfies plastered on the internet to prop up their flagging self-esteem or a shopping trip, hoping a new bag will help acquire that extra hit of dopamine required to survive the day. As a society, since Thatcher and Reagan we have been groomed to consume tirelessly. We now conveniently fit with the ruling elites idea of a utopic society, made up of consumers and producers. This giant sociological pyramid scheme is cunningly designed so individuals have just enough money to buy the products the oligarchs push, even if governments are often required to top up low wages.

2000px-Maslow's_Hierarchy_of_Needs.svg

In the west we are told we have freedom and liberty, but this is often confined to the choice of products we would like to purchase, not the quality of life. But, even this idea is a flawed premise. If freedom is on a sliding scale, rich people have greater access to money, thereby, infinitely more freedom than the poor, due to the greater range of products they can buy. But surely, freedom and liberty goes a little deeper than just stuff? Just a quick glance at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, confirms this suspicion. If you’re on the lowest level, as we know many people are all over the world are, you clearly have no access to either freedom or liberty. In contrast, there are people chiefly due to cold hard cash who can access the top level of the pyramid. All of this glaring inequality can take place in the same city on a daily basis and yet we don’t bat an eyelid.

The world is primarily a capitalist planet. All you have to do is peruse the countless business treaties linking many nations together. These deals have no perks for the average person, but are wholly designed to protect corporate interests against sovereign nations and their people. With all this in mind I’m quite confident in proposing that capitalism, more specifically neoliberalism is behind most of our problems. As a utilitarian, I would argue that our major issues are the ones that effect the most people with greatest impact, such as death. Unnecessary deaths surely must rank number 1, while the causes of these are varied, many have links to neoliberalism such as; wars, poverty, disease and suicide.

EB2

Frustratingly, many people casually watch disaster after disaster shown on the news, on TV or maybe online and mutter, “well there is nothing we can really do”. It appears we have resigned ourselves to this deeply unfair, unsustainable, catastrophic ideology and in many ways this assessment appears true. The rich are the ones who can afford to lobby the government, effectively bribing elected representatives, while us mere mortals have a comparatively tiny voice, with no agency. We’ve watched TV, drunk and shopped ourselves into a hedonistic stupor. Now, we have either no interest or little idea as to what is truly going on in the world or what to do about it. This is exactly what the propagandists want, for the world to remain powerless, zombified and blind to mass injustice. Historically speaking, large-scale issues such as these are often resolved through some form of a conflict, often revolution. Just saying.

 

 

 

The information war: Venezuelan edition.

I’ve pondered a great deal about the current flow of information, either fact or fiction for quite some time. Recently, this stream of consciousness was reawakened whilst replying to comments from an old friend. The subject matter was Venezuela and the continued trouble that is occurring over there. This recent issue is principally between the current leader President Maduro and the US who are desperate to supplant their own presidential pick. My friend lives in Venezuela and has clearly different opinions to me, which in a nutshell suggests; “Maduro is a butcher and should be removed”.

Am I supposed to except this opinion on face value, because, after all he is living in the country we are discussing? My sentiments on Venezuela, for clarity are this; the oligarchs in Venezuela with the help of the US have made life difficult for the government and ordinary people. The goal is to manufacture consent for an eventual leadership change. To help with this, there has been an extensive use of sanctions and an intricate promotion of propaganda from the mainly opposition owned media to encourage support. In Venezuela 70% of the TV and radio stations are privately owned, 5% are state owned and the rest are community owned and often pro-government. It’s also important to recognise that the main newspapers although currently with small readerships are private companies and are often critical of the government.

Is it right that because as I don’t live in Venezuela and my friend does, I should forgo all my previous research in favour of someone’s opinion who happens to be geographically closer? I guess the question is; does a person’s position have more validity and objectivity, purely because they have some direct involvement in a particular event? My short answer is no. I would argue that on the contrary, an individual is increasingly likely to be more partisan than someone looking in from the outside, with barely any other motivation other than to unearth the truth.

In contrast, my friend’s opinions will be based, on his social status, his family’s social standing, political allegiances and any historical factors. Furthermore, they will be shaped by the environment he lives in, his work, any direct impact from the current government, what media he consumes and importantly how any potential changes may benefit him in the future, to name just a few factors. Incidentally, would I pick a friend in the UK and decide their views are representative of Brexit solely because they lived there? Probably not.

This highlights a huge problem in the age of constant but inconsistent information. How do you uncover the truth? How do we know that what we hear from allegedly morally upstanding sources is the truth? Finally, what is the truth? We are bombarded with information, much of it purporting to be truth, when in essence, a lot of it consists of masses of opinion wrapped around a slither of fact based evidence. This deluge of ‘alternative facts’ isn’t just confined to the internet either; mainstream or so called ‘old media’ is just as guilty.

Take the US for example; if you regularly watched the conservative Fox News channel, you would in all likelihood possess a completely different outlook than if you tuned in to the MSNBC with Rachel Maddow. The same could be said if we compare a Telegraph (right wing) reader with a Guardian (left wing) reader in the UK. You could argue that these people have probably already chosen their political allegiances and this would be largely true. But these media choices reinforce our partisan behaviour and this does not end with TV and newspapers.

MSNBC - Election Coverage - Season 2016
MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow

The internet is a minefield if you are trying to obtain facts and it’s all too easy to fall in to the trap of reinforcing what we already believe. This is made considerably worse by algorithms used on many sites. All these mechanisms manage to achieve, is to strengthen any preconceived ideas, which is terrible if you are searching for objectivity. Many of us spend the majority of our time reading what we want to see, watching what we expect and only going on websites that align with our views. I regularly witness individuals dismissing a news piece regardless of the quality of the journalism and the content, purely because it is not a media outlet that they use or indeed trust. By doing this, all we are achieving is further entrenching ourselves within our moral tribes.

So what do we do now? Firstly, it’s OK to acknowledge our biases, we all have them. I am happy to admit I am unashamedly on the left, however, there are some issues that are considered on the left that I don’t subscribe to. Next, read and watch stuff from a range of different perspectives, even if all this does is help you understand your enemy better, it still temporarily transports you out of your echo chamber, while offering an alternative viewpoint. When searching for the truth, it’s helpful to look at an article or website as if you were doing a scientific literature review, check; who wrote it, what’s the motivation, when was it written, is it still relevant, is it an opinion, news or research piece and is there any useful references going back to the original source.

Admittedly, this can be time consuming and a part of me feels we shouldn’t have to do this, but in the age of fake news everything requires scrutiny on both sides of the political aisle. From Breitbart and the National Review to Buzzfeed and the Huffington Post, plus anything in between, all of it requires careful consideration. Mainstream news tends to be slightly more subtle with their biases, such as the BBC in UK. Even so, at this point, many I’m sure will be screaming that the BBC is aligned to the right, while conservatives will contest there is a definite left tilt to the national broadcaster.

Meanwhile, in New Zealand particularly with the national newspaper the Herald, the bias is primarily down to the individual journalist. One area that most mainstream media providers are relatively agreed upon is the support of a capitalist, or more accurately neoliberal political system. You would have to travel to the margins of journalism to find a media outlet outside of the capitalist scope, such as the Morning Star in the UK.

So this brings me full circle, back to my discussion regarding Venezuela. Am I misguided about Maduro? Well, I propose it would be much easier for me to be indoctrinated by the ‘opposition’ than Maduro, purely by listening to the constant mainstream media. After all, most western media outlets promote a poor picture of Maduro and this includes New Zealand. Furthermore, the UK, Canada, Australia and Israel are all backing the US in their attempt to oust the democratically elected President.

In contrast, it is a reasonably arduous task to find a media outlet who is willing to even be neutral on this matter, let alone have any sympathies towards Maduro. Pleasingly the previously mentioned Morning Star appears prepared to report the news as they see it. Plus there are specialist sites such as venezuelanalysis.com which states that they are a left leaning and independent site. It’s worth noting that this is a counter narrative site, openly endorsed by academics such as Noam Chomsky and journalists including BAFTA award winning John Pilger.

A combination of reading non mainstream sites, as well as knowing a reasonable amount about the US in a historical sense and their quest for world dominance, provides me with something to offset the endless anti-Maduro rhetoric. A quick glance at the history between the two countries will tell you that this isn’t something that has occurred overnight. Interference in Venezuelan affairs began in the 19th century, however, in the 20th century most of the meddling was unsurprisingly due to oil. In 1958 while other nations in the region were succumbing to US backed dictatorships, Venezuela escaped.

These military and security personal of the US backed regimes, were often trained by the US Army School of the Americas. This department specialised in training kidnapping, torture, assassination and democracy suppression. US backed death squads authored torture manuals, while they murdered, tortured and terrorised innocent people from Central America to Argentina. In contrast Venezuela were left relatively in peace for decades. Throughout these times, however, the US never gave up on the idea of Venezuelan interference, which would increase in intensity following the election of Hugo Chavez in 1998.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez salutes

During the Chavez period, the Bolivarian revolution reduced poverty and illiteracy, while increasing the health of millions of Venezuelan’s. Despite this, George W Bush backed a failed coup against Chavez in 2002, famously calling him “the devil”. In 2015 Obama declared Venezuela as an “extraordinary threat to national security”. Although, considering the nation had never started a war in it’s history, this assertion was nothing short of ludicrous. It’s worth pointing out that the US has; intervened, attacked, invaded or occupied Latin American or Caribbean countries more than 50 times. To add to the absurdity, while Obama spoke, the US military were regularly bombing seven countries.

In 2017, Donald Trump announced sanctions against Nicolás Maduro, while labelling him a dictator. Despite this, Trump continued to support the brutal Saudi Arabian regime, plus backing dictators in Bahrain, Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea, South Sudan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan to name a few. Now, President Trump is under the guidance of neoconservative John Bolton (who has never seen a war he didn’t like), he has thus declared his support for the puppet president Juan Guaido. This is just one of the most recent examples of the US crushing any nation that has the audacity to steer away from the corporate/Washington power base. Nobody is suggesting Maduro’s leadership is perfect. But to call him a dictator, therefore, worthy of regime change, while openly supporting US friendly tyrants, is the type of hypocrisy and baseless rhetoric we have all become accustomed to.

It may well be difficult to obtain good information in the ironically named ‘age of information’. But one thing we can draw upon as guidance is history. When we trace the history US foreign policy it shows us that since WWII the US has intervened in the leaderships of more countries than any other nation by far. It generally has two reasons to enact change; one is ideological, what Noam Chomsky in his book “What Uncle Sam Really Wants”, calls “the threat of a good example“. The second motivation is for resources (in this case oil), sadly for Venezuela, they tick both boxes.

I have no reason to believe that this modus operandi of the US government has suddenly deviated from the last 70 years of foreign policy. So although it is reasonable to be questioning of Maduro and his leadership, I cannot see how a coup will benefit the vast majority of Venezuelan’s. Maduro’s led PSUV party, supports much of the poorer people in the country and not the oligarch led opposition. That is primarily why he is in this current dilemma. I’ll let John Pilger explain my grounds for scepticism towards the sincerity of the US and hope for the sake of the people a coup is avoided.

 

A false ideology: Why identity politics doesn’t add up.

We now inhabit a world where influential people in academia and increasingly the government decide who is privileged and who is not, purely by which group we belong to. These are not organised by who’s rich or poor, educational attainment, health levels, class status or even the environment we may live in, sadly nothing quite so objective. Individuals are crudely grouped by what cannot be changed (generally), this being genitalia and melanin levels. This grossly unscientific method, purposely ignores many parameters as outlined above and boils what is termed “oppression” down to race and sex.

To get to grips with how this occurred, our journey starts in France, with some very smart but terribly misguided philosophers. This bunch were largely responsible for a type of philosophy called postmodernism. Postmodernism is at the root of identity politics and underpins social justice activism. The movement, primarily artistic and philosophical began in 1960’s France. It claimed that life was viewed through a male, middle class perspective and sought to rally against this. Additionally, postmodernism outright rejected philosophy that valued ethics, reason and clarity.

This brand of philosophy dismissed overarching movements such as structuralism, which was an attempt to analyse human culture and psychology. While Marxism, endeavouring to make sense of society through class and economic structures was considered simplistic. Furthermore, the movement deeply criticised science, in particular, the idea of objective information. Postmodernists postulated that knowledge without human perception was just another example of arrogant western assumptions. Historically, the term “postmodern” was first used by Jean-Francois Lyotard in 1979, in his book The Postmodern Condition. Above all this was a rejection of meta-narratives, used to explain large phenomena such as religion and science.

In their place Lyotard offered that mini-narratives should be used, with the aim of getting smaller, more personal truths. This thought process led to epistemic relativism, or a belief in personal or culturally specific ‘truths or facts’ and also towards the advocacy of privileging. In summary Lyotard simply ranked “lived experience” above empirical evidence. In addition, postmodernism regularly promotes a type of pluralism, privileging the opinions of minority groups over views of a consensus, such as science or even a liberal democracy.

Another one of the French postmodernists was Michel Foucault. Foucault suggested that people were culturally constructed and a “product of the relation of power exercised over bodies, multiplicities, movements, desires, forces”. In Foucault’s world, cultural relativity is expressed through structures of power, while shared humanity and individualism are practically ignored. Using this theory, people are constructed entirely by their position in relation to the dominant culture and labelled as oppressed or oppressor.

The third musketeer, in our postmodern yarn is Jacques Derrida. Derrida focused heavily on language, rejecting that words referred to anything in a straight forward way, suggesting that there were only contexts without any absolute anchoring. He implied that the author of a text is not the sole authority and that the listener provides their own equally valid meaning. Derrida’s main contribution to postmodernism was a literary critical method called ‘deconstruction’. This was utilised in an attempt to overturn what he perceived as biases in language.

derrida
Jacques Derrida

Deconstruction arose from the belief that all concepts appear in opposing binaries and that language privileges one concept over another. For example “male” and “female” or “good” and “evil”, the first term usually having dominance over the other. Derrida suggested that this showed great inequality in western/modernist thinking. Derrida’s second idea, was to offer that the identity or meaning of words could not be understood except in relation to what they are not. He suggested that the only way to overcome these inequalities was by deconstructing text and thereby the language which was thought as the inherent power within the binary structure.

Derrida achieved this by equalising the opposing “inferior” and “superior” terms, then placing the “superior” term merely as an expression of the “inferior” term. Using this train of thought, we could say “good” is just an expression of “evil”. Derrida suggested at this point that the terms were meaningless and subjectively imposed by violence as the identity of words are overturned by différanceDerrida used this term to point out that the meaning is not final, rather it is constructed by differences specifically by opposites.

By now, if all this postmodern speak has “baked your noodle”, to borrow an expression from the Matrix, well that is kind of the point. Even the brilliant academic Noam Chomsky failed to see the relevance of postmodernism, stating; “Seriously, what are the principles of their theories, on what evidence are they based, what do they explain that wasn’t already obvious, etc? These are fair requests for anyone to make. If they can’t be met, then I’d suggest recourse to Hume’s advice in similar circumstances: to the flames”. The underlying problem now is, conclusions drawn by postmodernists were used as the foundations by future sociologists, gender and race studies academics to build an even more misguided, subjective, divisive and flawed theory.

One of the main theories that underpins social justice activism is intersectional feminism. This was introduced to the world in the late 80’s by UCLA law Professor Kimberleé Crenshaw. Crenshaw rejected “classical liberalism”, which looked past categories such as; race, gender and sexuality, while it focused on levelling the playing field and enabling all people to succeed on their own abilities. Incidentally, this is also known as “Enlightened liberalism” and promoted not only universal human rights, but the freedom of individuals to pursue their own path. Despite this, it was opined by critics such as Crenshaw, that this type of liberalism built structures of power which needed to be addressed. In contrast to liberalism, Crenshaw’s theory suggested that areas of race, gender and sexuality, were essential as it added levels of complexity to the problem.

kimberlee crenshaw
Kimberlee Crenshaw

In general it is postulated that as a society we work primarily on 3 levels:

  1. As a member of the human race with common needs and drives.
  2. As a member of one of the numerous categories, such as; race, nationality, culture or religion.
  3. As a individual, with our own particular interests and abilities.

It could be surmised that while universal liberalism concentrates on 1 & 3, intersectionality gravitates almost exclusively towards the second group. Meaning that this ‘theory’ fundamentally views all issues through the lens of race, gender and sexual identity. Hence the rallying cries of, “listen to women, listen to people of colour”.

But this theory possesses some glaring errors. Firstly, women of colour and LGTB people are to be found all across the political and moral spectrum. Intersectionality, however, is firmly embeded in the leftist identarian camp, complete with a distinct ideology. That said, intersectionality claims to support all of the aforementioned groups, but requires all members of these groups to subscribe to the identarian left. Judging by the stats available, this is just not obtainable. In the US 24% identify as liberals and 38% as conservative. In the UK the left and right are split roughly 50/50. Women are more likely to be left leaning than men. In the US 47% of African Americans identify as liberal and 45% conservative. The Conservative party (UK) claim 33% of Black and Middle Eastern voters, while 52% of Black Britons vote Labour. In Britain LGTB voters are as likely to be on the left as the right, but in the US LGTB voters are likely to be left wing. These nuances go on and on and do not fit the intersectional rallying cry.

As far as ideology is concerned, intersectionality alienates even more people. To be intersectional you are expected to focus on many categories at once, believing that they are all marginalised and worthy of your concern. Therefore, a woman describing herself as wholly a white, feminist would not be considered nearly committed enough to the cause. It would be assumed that the believer should also automatically subscribe to queer theory, critical race theory, trans-equality and anti-ableism discourses. However, as highlighted with politics, all of these varying groups do not have a single way of thinking. For a start in the US, only 20% of woman call themselves a feminist, while in the UK it’s as low as 9%. Using this information alone intersectionalists would have alienated over three quarters of their target population, that being women. Overall, the vast opinions expressed by the varying groups makes this theory totally unworkable.

Effectively what transpires, is the emergence of a small faction, with a minority ideological viewpoint, dominated by people from economically privileged backgrounds. This group generally has a university education, they have studied the social sciences, or have had enough leisure time to have grasped the varying ideas encompassed by intersectional theory. Activists of this cult readily pronounce that the only way is intersectionality, as all other groups are dismissed as fake. Crucially, intersectionality undervalues shared human experiences and universal rights. It ignores personal autonomy, individuality and distinctiveness, concentrating intently on group identity and intersectional ideology. This in turn places the individual in an extremely restrictive “collectivist” position, which was often considered the domain of severe conservative cultures, such as the religious right.

Looking at postmodernism and then intersectionalism, we can see the erroneous foundations being laid for the modern social justice movement. When this is combined with other factors that are peculiar to the millennial generation and now i-gen (generation Z), it starts to makes sense why we are witnessing behaviour punctuated by a lack of tolerance for any differing views. Safe spaces, trigger warnings and microaggressions are all common parlance on university campuses. This development like previous politically correct movements aims to stifle free speech. But according to Jonathan Haidt social psychologist, the motivation this time around, turns out to be more concerned with emotional wellbeing.

Haidt suggests that childhood has changed dramatically over the last couple of generations and that unsupervised play is much rarer than in previous decades. Children, therefore, have less chance to develop skills, such as, how to negotiate in a difficult situation or how to critically think. Meanwhile, a change in perception during the 80’s and 90’s regarding crime, suggested that there was a marked increase of kids being abducted or murdered. One of the main reasons for this view, was that we started to hear more about incidents through a increasingly pervasive media. Following this, a common message millenials received from adults was, life is dangerous but we will protect you from harm. This has contributed to millenials and i-gen being less resilient and more hostile towards political or moral opposition.

jon haidt
Jonathan Haidt

To add another layer to this, professor of psychology Jean Twenge wrote the book ‘the narcissism epidemic‘, in 2009. In this, the professor looked at the changes in individuals and in culture, discovering that narcissistic traits were rising twice as fast than in previous studies. More disconcerting, was that the severe form, Narcissistic Personality Disorder was experienced 3 times more in people in there 20’s than individuals over 65. Other markers that Twenge used, showed plastic surgery was up by a factor of 6 in a decade. Furthermore, materialistic attitudes had increased, as people were more likely to go into debt to get what they wanted. Meanwhile the reading of gossip magazines increased and the interest in newspapers decreased.

When we start to stitch all this together, it’s not surprising that we have a group largely of millenials, who actively attempt to curtail free speech. They also vigorously take part in historical revisionism, for example trying to get certain statues removed, which are deemed offensive. While the poem ‘If’ by Rudyard Kipling was unceremoniously removed at Manchester University, following allegations of racism, with no historical context, just a veil of ignorance, as proudly worn by SJW’s. These puritans are offended by the slightest utterance that may come into conflict with their pristine, logic free utopia. While they brazenly display no conscience either, as they repeatedly attempt to remove university professors for ‘wrong think‘.

Many followers of the ‘social justice activism’ have been exposed to a postmodern philosophy, that twists language to square with their pre-conceived conclusions. It is proposed that certain groups are oppressed, such as women and people of colour. This is supposedly a fixed position, bound by the illogical ramblings of postmodernism and now intersectional feminism. These adherents are perpetual victims, regardless of any personal factors that may not tie up with this label, such as; being a middle class, privileged student, as witnessed in many cases. Their assigned victim status enables the SJW to be absolved of any personal responsibility. With this cloak of victimhood, they are able to call out all men or white people, purely because they are oppressed and by virtue of this, are unable to be a misandrist or indeed a racist.

It is by no means a revelation that people who are less developed in terms of diplomacy, resilience and people skills gravitate towards such a movement. It carries little risk, you can gang up on a single speaker, shower them with nasty tweets, retreat to your safe space after a trigger warning and declare an incoming microaggression to your dean. If you are narcissistic this is also perfect, you can metaphorically sniper your political opposition, all in the safety of your morally pristine ivory tower, thus not receiving a narcissistic injury in return. Outstanding! All this would be relatively bearable if it was limited to academia, but alas, we are not so lucky.

There are many examples of the cult of identity politics seeping into everyday life. We can start with the former Director of Public Prosecutions of the Crown Prosecution Service, Alison Sanders. It could be argued that Sanders utilised the CPS as a crusading tool, redirecting limited resources to focus on violence against women and hate speech. The former DPP was responsible for many victim-focused reforms, including the definition of a hate crime, which states; “any crime experienced by the complainant as motivated by hate”. Interestingly, during the last couple of years of her tenure, a series of rape cases collapsed. It had transpired that police and prosecutors had failed to pass key information to lawyers defending the men. This lack of ‘due process’ is what can occur when an ideological quest overrides the search for justice.

In Nottinghamshire, UK, unwanted sexual advances and unwanted verbal contact with a woman can now be recorded as a hate crime. The problem with the term “hate crime” is, it is purely subjective and, therefore, open to abuse. Across the Atlantic in Canada in 2017, bill C-16 was passed, meaning someone could be prosecuted for not using the correct gender pronoun for a person’s subjectively determined “gender identity”. In Brighton, UK, kids are now being taught that both boys and girls can have periods. The whole area around gender and sex is highly contentious and effectively pits science, based on rigour, peer review, evidence and objectivity against emotion, feelings, subjectivity and the idea ‘I feel, therefore, I am’.

Gender and sex are key areas where the Enlightenment collides with postmodernism and judging by the government orthodoxy in many domains Foucault et al. are winning. The primary concern with regards to basing society on subjectivity, is that it is potentially ever changeable, this makes it exceptionally difficult to create and enforce laws, such as hate crime. For example; An ugly guy walks up to a girl and starts talking to her, she might find him detestable and feels threatened. Under these rules, this conceivably could be called a hate crime and for the bloke no matter how well intentioned, he could find himself in trouble. However, a good looking guy could approach the same woman and say exactly the same words but this time, it could be well received. Neither guy has been offensive or violent, but one of them (lets call him Elephant Man) could end up being questioned by the police. Does that feel like a fair use of the law and resources to you?

It is this uneven handed use of the law, as demonstrated by many college Title IX  proceedings in the US during the Obama presidency, that is a major cause for concern. Another campaign doing the rounds currently is “believe women” following sexual harassment or rape allegations. Their is an obvious danger behind this. It instantly biases any following investigation in favour of the accuser. Surely police departments all over the world can provide an environment that allows the person to share their perception of events without siding with them. For “believe women” to be effective, it must demand that women never lie and furthermore, never commit crimes, otherwise it’s a flawed premise. By promoting this we are asserting that women are morally superior to men at all times. Judging by the likes of Myra Hindley, Rose West or Joanna Dennehy this is patently untrue. Moreover, high profile false rape allegations such as the Duke Lacrosse team or Biurny Peguero also severely question this moral superiority theory. Just like men, women lie too, for a variety of reasons.

joanna dennehy
Joanna Dennehy

It makes absolutely no sense to enforce laws and rules that govern society based on a certain perception of a group as a whole. This is especially true, if the group in question is not 100% consistent. We hear from people on a daily basis, talking about white privilege or male privilege. Just an idea, but how about we look at what is occurring at an individual level, rather than writing off masses of the population via gross stereotyping. Identarians can get quite irate if they feel an individual for instance is stereotyping someone regarding gender identification. Yet, they are quite happy to put people in sociological boxes merely for traits that cannot be altered. Crucially, group stereotyping is what this whole identarian ‘belief’ system is built upon, it is the very core of their ideology, but makes no positive practical sense.

To point out how ludicrous this is; a black, middle class, well educated, relatively rich, woman, who has had no direct oppression, from a happy home, can be viewed as oppressed. In contrast; a white, ex-military, homeless man, with PTSD, with no formal qualifications and no support system, can seen as privileged. If this does not strike you as some sort of a scam, you are either benefitting from this in some way, or you are so blind with identarian doctrine that you have lost the ability to critically think. Which of course is the whole point of postmodernism, to appeal to emotion and subjectivity. It’s this loyalty to ones team, providing the power over government, media and society that allows, individuals like Professor Suzanna Danuta Walters to have an article published in the Washington Post enquiring, “why can’t we hate men”? A couple of weeks ago the American Psychological Association, published guidelines outlining the dangers of masculinity. This was nothing short of an overtly ideological exercise, using one social justice buzzword after another (see the link for original document).

Last week Gillette felt the need to jump on the bandwagon, releasing an advert imploring men and boys to sort their masculinity out. This has generally been lauded by the mainstream media, desperate not to stray from the feminist narrative. It’s worth noting, this is not in isolation, anti-male rhetoric is the social norm and is excepted in so called polite society. For instance, the Melbourne café who charged men 18% more, because of the supposed ‘gender wage gap’. Men are repeatedly told how to behave, when to speak (mansplaining), how to sit (manspreading), when it’s OK to talk to a woman, what to say and so on. The overwhelming percentage of men are not violent, do not rape, do treat people with respect, do act against bullying and the list continues. But if you’re trying to neutralise the very masculine traits that helped to build the physical world, that make up the majority of individuals who keep us safe, who love competition and do many of the dangerous jobs that keeps life ticking along, guess again.

For those who still buy into identity politics and in particular feminism, you need to have a serious chat with yourself. At this moment, the Social Justice movement currently feels emboldened, it has governments, media and much of society eating out it’s hand. Now feeling buoyant after #metoo, there is a huge offensive against masculinity, of course, not the bad men in society who it will never have any affect on, but ordinary men like many reading this. Right now, this is not a gender war, as only one side has turned up. It’s more like a massacre!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time to fight for the working class.

For a couple decades, issues of class have been low on the list of priorities. Many of the ‘faux left’ parties have looked down their snobby, privately educated, liberal noses at the working class. In stark contrast, they never fail to grasp any opportunity to virtue signal for an array of gender and race issues. It appears unfashionable to fight for people who have suffered the most from neoliberalism. As a result of this abandonment and derision over the years, many now vote for the right. Despite the fact it is those very same capitalist policies they tick the box for, that are destroying them. So, rather than callously stating “oh it’s just turkey’s voting for Christmas”, maybe we should investigate why this has occurred.

It could be hypothesised that the middling, moderate, smart arse, pompous, plastic left are pushing people to the right, towards the Conservatives, National (NZ), Liberals (Australia), Conservatives (Canada) and the Republican’s. In some cases even further along the left/right continuum, to parties such as UKIP. Who until their recent capitulation, became popular within the working class. Throughout Europe we have also seen a rise of harder line nationalist parties mainly over eastern and central parts. Meanwhile, some traditionally left leaning parties are trying hard to realign back to their working class ideals. Most notably Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell in the UK and to some extent Jacinda Ardern in NZ. But mistrust still persists, partly because of a previous centrist hangover in the form of New Labour in the UK. While in New Zealand it was 33 years of neoliberalism first conceived by a Labour government in 1984, that didn’t help matters.

Across the pond despite a recent, small progressive revival, the corporate idiots in the Democrat party are still very much in control and have failed to learn anything from the Hillary Clinton disaster. What makes this a travesty, is the working class have been abandoned by the party that since Roosevelt was supposed to fight for them. This group have been the biggest losers regarding employment and have been told by their so called moral superiors that they voted Trump because they are uneducated, racist, sexist and ignorant. Well guess what, if you really want a truly left government, no matter where you may be from, these are the people we need to understand and reach, because supporting the working class is what the left is all about.

Unless you’ve been living in a cave somewhere, you will have noticed we’ve had a couple of important events on both sides of the Atlantic. This should have initiated a huge alarm call for the liberal elite; one being the Brexit result to leave Europe and the other Trump’s victory in the US presidential election. What arrogantly transpired, was not a period of deep reflection within the liberal world, but an outright condemnation of people who had the audacity to vote against their wishes. In the US, while Hillary Clinton sulked, the “not my president” brigade were out in force, because to them democracy suddenly wasn’t fair anymore. Following the result, noticeably there were a few very rich, connected individuals (Clinton and co), telling middle class people that it was the fault of those stupid fools from the working class for voting Trump.

We can witness these similar precocious, middle class types at college campus protests. A speaker who may be challenging in some ideological way can be no platformed in a heart beat, as it may rock their precious sensibilities. A similar vibe is also evident at events such as the ‘women’s march’ whereby millions of relatively privileged, educated, pussy hat wearing liberals, gather to protest……..I guess about something (usually Trump). All the while, taking selfies and brandishing brightly coloured banners, to presumably post on Instagram and Facebook. These occasions have more the appearance of a middle class day out complete with picnic hamper and a bottle of Prosecco, rather than a serious protest about something tangible. One concern that never gathers much traction within these groups is economic inequality, primarily because the majority of these fair weather protesters are pretty economically privileged.

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I hope it was permanent marker?

In the UK, just like the US, there is a predominantly middle class core of people called ‘Remainers’ who think they know better and propose that people who voted to leave the EU must be racist, stupid and gullible. No internal system checks or reflection as to why this went so badly wrong for them, just instant projection. It would appear that the metropolitan elite apparently know what’s good for the proletariat. Indeed people did vote to leave on issues such as; sovereignty, xenophobia and racism, but millions cast their vote for a myriad of other reasons. For decades there has been an all out assault on the working class from the liberal left and the right, attacking their identities and their places of work. Many politicians see the working class as an embarrassing problem. In return a majority of this group have stopped listening to Westminster and have started trusting their own experiences.

One of the suggested indicators regarding who voted for Brexit was education, areas of average education tended to vote leave, while areas with residents with college degrees were more compelled to vote to stay in the EU (71%). I’ll make it clear now, a university degree doesn’t automatically grant you the intellectual and moral high ground. Contrary to the current orthodoxy, education does not begin and end in the lecture hall either. But, there is a well established link that proposes inadequate education often leads to poor employment opportunities and decreased social engagement, therefore, providing a differing set of experiences from those of the middle class. Recently, as if people haven’t had enough of being told what to do, 670,000 people descended on London for the very Orwellian sounding ‘People’s Vote’ march. Just for the record, I will declare that I have no particular axe to grind regarding Brexit, as I think while there’s a neoliberal system on both sides, it’s a lose-lose. This is why Jeremy Corbyn is unlikely to win with supporters from either side, I suspect he just doesn’t have enough of a stake in the outcome.

A large portion of ‘Team Remainer’ I would hazard a guess were created, when most of the ‘anglosphere’ adopted a similar mix of policies from the 90’s onwards, which you could loosely label ‘third way’. This comprised of more deregulation for the banking sector, such as Bill Clinton’s abolishment of Glass Steagall, while governments became increasing corporate centric. Another trait was the transformation of citizens to consumers. We suddenly had an abundance of choice, but this was only restricted to our spending habits, not our political parties. Most ‘supposedly’ left leaning parties, particularly Blair with New Labour abandoned the working class as his core voter base, in favour of the middle classes. This was highlighted by his repeal of ‘clause four‘ which effectively linked the Labour Party with socialism. This move was a definitive break from Labour’s past, socialism and the working class.

remainics

In turn, this new core of labour supporters were offered an enticing lifestyle, through neoliberal economics, punctuated by socially liberal policies. This on the whole, distracted, enriched and anaesthetised the middle classes. With less to worry about, they now could pursue other political issues such as identity politics. Which in turn could be used as moral currency in the sacred land of the pious. Yet, behind the cosy, socially caring rhetoric, economic inequality in the UK and other western nations began to widen. On the other side of the tracks, the working class regularly saw jobs vanish and whole industries dismantled under New Labour’s watch. Blair enthusiastically continued with Thatcherism on many fronts, in particular believing that the maintenance of free markets was the most efficient way to implement economic policy. New Labour also kept most of Thatcher’s sell-offs intact; BP, British Steel, British Airways among others. Additionally Blair continued with the anti-trade Union policies set in the 80’s and 90’s.

In defence of Tony Blair, he was responsible for bringing in the minimum wage, which did help the poorly paid and the exploited to some degree. At the risk of appearing cynical, I always felt this was no more than ‘lip service’ to the poor. Even so, New Labour could boast some impressive achievements; a dramatic cut in NHS waiting times, an 8 fold capital investment increase in education and growth in GDP per head by 20%. So with this in mind, why did Labour lose over 5 million voters from 1997 to 2010? While, at the same time membership fell from 407,000 in 1997 to 109,000 in 2004. Possibly, because New Labour was dedicated to a steady diet of centrist policies, which unsurprisingly did not meet the needs of diverse communities across the UK, many of whom were estranged by globalisation.

Blair doggedly adhered to the free market and services to advance economic growth. While manufacturing and wages declined outside of London, leaving a whole slew of folk left to fend for themselves. Secure trades were often replaced with insecure jobs, such as call centre work and warehouse employment. Blair’s centrist narrative was that of a rights-based individualism, while working class communities talked about the erosion of communal practices and institutions such as; pubs, neighbours and community centres. New Labour had no interest in values that were important to the working class such as; collective self-help, reciprocity and fraternity. Nor did Blair have any inclination to use New Labour as a vehicle for collective empowerment, in contrast he was more invested in managerialism, statism and centralisation. This working class rejection from Blair and by the Labour Party in general, I would wager, had a lot to do with the overwhelming eventual support for Brexit later on.

A similar outright rejection of globalism and corporate liberalism was equally evident in the US, which helped give rise to Trump. In an area known as the ‘Rust Belt’, states such as Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and Indiana among others had been caught up in massive deindustrialisation, economic decline and urban decay. Workers had observed their manufacturing jobs shipped overseas, an increase in automation and a diminishing of the coal and steel industries. There have been suggestions that Trump turned these voters from Democrat to Republican, but the most accurate explanation could be that Democrats lost these voters. Obama who was once a big hope, offered nothing in real terms to the people of these regions. His centrist doctrine of ‘free market’ economics and social justice crumbs delivered poor returns in the region. Jobs continued to haemorrhage out the area, while real wages decreased.

nasty clinton

Trump during the campaign, in line with his modem operandi, offered nothing concrete. But he tapped into the desperation, emotion and nostalgia of working class people. He declared that he was going to restore manufacturing jobs to the area, while clamping down on immigration. Now, whether either of these things are possible or even true, is irrelevant, as the campaign had no relation to facts. This was about a narcissistic populist, telling an impoverished, dejected community precisely what they wanted to hear. What did the Democrats under Hillary Clinton do in response? In an act of extreme elitism, she brazenly stated that half of Trump supporters were a “basket of deplorables,” who were incidentally, racist, xenophobic or misogynistic. This comment was been vehemently rejected by Bernie Sanders, who rightly stated that the working class simply do not have a party to support them.

Countless middle class Hillary supporters and the liberal press suggested that Trump supporters were voting against their best interests. This conclusion is simplistic at best and views the problem entirely through a liberal lens. One aspect working class people voted for was dignity. As a group they have witnessed not only their jobs stripped away, but the heart of their community and their role within it. An ability to give, share and their capability as providers has been severely diminished. Although Trump’s campaign may have been disingenuous, it offered a possible return to dignity and when you have no hope, sometimes it’s worth taking a chance on the unknown.

So maybe we now have a bit of an idea why left leaning parties historically lost the working class. It could also be argued that many people don’t even identify as working class anymore. In the UK only 24% see themselves as working classed as opposed to 67% in the 1980’s. Many people who are struggling financially tend not to call themselves ‘working class’ as it is considered just another term for being poor. In contrast 71% state that they are middle class, which if you consider the UK has had 10 years of austerity with declining real wages, this is possibly not an accurate depiction of the truth. On the contrary, as a kid growing up in North Manchester, being working class was the norm and not something I or anybody else gave much thought to. I left school with 1 ‘O’ level in French and before I joined the navy I spent a year on a YTS (youth training scheme) fixing street lighting for the council. Going to the pub and playing footie on the weekend wasn’t just some romantic, wistful or even stereotypical reflection, it was part of life.

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East Lancashire Paper Mill, Radcliffe

Now, no longer is it the working class who feel integral to the spirit of the community. The old working class solidarity has been savaged by neoliberalism’s destruction of industry and the ties that held communities together. Many working class people now feel lonely, unhappy and pessimistic, while in contrast it’s the middle class who feel emboldened and a part of the community. Many factories, steel works, paper mills, collieries and shipyards had clubs, sports teams and some sense of belonging for people. No doubt that a large proportion of this started to decline long ago. Although, even in the 80’s and to a certain extent the 90’s in my hometown, which was primarily centred around paper production, all had popular clubs connected to the mills and some of the best sports facilities in the town. This is not a sentimental view of days gone by, but a reasoned look at what materialises when the ties that bind people together are broken. Thatcher never believed in society and was therefore, determined to destroy it. Blair continued with this philosophy by substituting the importance of the community and people, with consumerism.

Hordes of people from these now depleted communities regularly did dangerous, dirty, manually taxing jobs, that most of us wouldn’t wish to do. These workers often got by due to a semblance of solidarity, which existed throughout the industrial world to varying degrees. With this in mind, it’s not surprising that people who live in communities that didn’t gain from neoliberalism feel cut adrift, angry, lost, confused and are looking for something other than what currently exists. So why talk about the working class? Why are they important? Predominantly it is this group that keeps the place ticking over; refuse collectors, sewage workers and the many poorly treated warehouse workers all over the globe. This section of society have been taken advantage of more than any other, they’ve lost jobs, seen their pay decreased and witnessed government supports stripped away through austerity or pure vindictiveness. Even the phrase ‘working class’ is now, maybe by design, considered a derogatory phrase.

It’s politically ‘en vogue’ now to only care about issues pertaining to melanin levels and genitalia. However, class warfare is constantly being waged and shit rolls down hill. The ruling elite uses propaganda and distraction aimed at the middle class; such as the mainstream media and welcome theatre such as Brexit. The middle class primarily blame the working class, for example, voting Brexit, among these accusations are suggestions of a lack of intelligence, racism and xenophobia. In turn the working class take their frustrations out on the ‘unworking class’ and immigrants. This all plays into the hands of governments and corporations, who thrive when people are divided. Quite simply, if a left leaning party has any serious intentions of gaining power, with a strong desire to dismantle neoliberalism, it needs to engage with the working class and regain that once common ground.

Why identity politics makes the left an easy target.

It doesn’t take long, particularly on the internet to realise that the ‘right’ are winning the war of the narrative. Video after video on YouTube are shown, viciously demonising varying antics from SJW’s. Some are baseless cheap attacks, while others are more thoughtful, with some examples displaying more than a kernel of truth in them. From the infamous Trigglypuff a student who blew a gasket at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, during an event, to identarians walking out of a speaking event. This latter stunt occurred when evolutionary biologist Heather Heying mentioned anatomical differences between men and women.

Unfortunately, these so called activists really don’t help themselves, or more precisely the left in general. This last apparently controversial nugget of information, mentioned that on average men are taller than women. Such malicious utterances triggered outrage among the SJW’s in the audience, who promptly stormed out, damaging the audio equipment during their theatrical exit (see below). Displays of tantrums and looks of utter disbelieve following offerings of, at times innocuous information have been witnessed on campuses all over the western world. In truth, I don’t really care if these science denying lunatics want to believe in the ‘blank slate theory’, ‘intersectional theory’, ‘structural violence’, flat earth stupidity or pink unicorn theory. What I do take issue with is, when these shenanigans are used against the non-narcissistic left, who genuinely support a better world for everyone.

Unsurprisingly, the politically right lurching media, particularly within social media, latch on to these escapades and then depict the protagonists as mainstream leftist supporters. They are shown as proof, that the left are indeed crazy, that they can’t be trusted and are determined to socially engineer society. Sadly to a large extent they are closer to the mark than I would care to admit. SJW’s are primarily adherents of postmodernism, where emotions, feelings and lived experiences are viewed as more important than objectivity, logic, critical thinking and science. In this topsy turvy world, the perception of the receiver is given far more credence than the quality of information being conveyed. This is the gift that keeps on giving for the conservative media such as Fox News. They repeatedly use this material to discredit not only identarians, but the entire left, as SJW’s repeatedly do their work for them.

In the US, the left to many is considered to be focused entirely on identity politics. Neoliberalism has now prevailed for four decades and the fight against economic inequality has mostly been unsuccessful. Bernie Sanders was a prime victim regarding this obvious lack of interest concerning the fight against economic inequality. It was clear that the Democrat party leadership was far more interested in installing a woman as President, rather than someone who demanded a recognisable change to the status quo. At the top end of the supposedly left leaning parties such as the Democrats, Labour (UK, Australia and New Zealand) for the last 20 years, the fight has been on the battlefield of social justice. Now, identity politics has gravitated to the nonsensical, for example; laws covering unwanted verbal contact from men, to the supposed life threatening fight against manspreading on public transport. The level of absurdity has suddenly been turned up to ’11’ (see Spinal Tap for details), allowing the political right to seize the moral high ground.

Once upon a time, the left fought for everyone no matter what your background was. It’s clearly understandable why the left historically battled for minorities, as they are the most likely to be disconnected from society. Initially, identity politics fought for the big groups, African American’s (US), gays and women. The aim was to undo historical wrongs, by gaining support and working through our varying political systems to secure rights. These noble intentions gradually gave way to politics of narcissism and self regard. Issues of self interest have become increasingly prevalent and for this cult the personal is very much the political. Western feminists often don’t care about women in say Saudi Arabia, who truly are second class citizens, nor do race activists have much empathy towards other marginalised ethnicities.

In contrast to today, the left could always pride themselves on looking outwards and assessing what needed to be done for the common good. There have invariably been groups with special interests such as; nuclear disarmament, anti-war and the environment. But these issues were not about the self and encouraged the individual to engage with the wider world. As students in particular, became increasingly identity conscience there was a shift from issue based movements to self-based movements. This is the central reason I don’t consider this group to be on the left. What’s urgently needed, is a common goal to bind people together, such as fighting for economic inequality, that is if we want to make a tangible difference in this world.

I would guess that there are many people from the ‘old left’  who shake their collective heads in dismay when they read about SJW stupidity on a regular basis. Much of the old left are socialists of one form or another. Predominantly concerned about the destruction caused by capitalism or more precisely neoliberalism, towards large swathes of the population. In recent times many on the left are now deeply disturbed by climate change specifically how this will pan out for them and future generations.

Unconvincingly, SJW’s repeatedly claim they’re socialists or communists without ever having a clue what these ideas truly mean. It would appear that the only requirement nowadays, is a T-shirt of Ché Guevara, thus providing you with a backstage pass to socialism. Incidentally, I place myself firmly on the left mainly because of my opposition towards massive economic inequality, which is statistically linked to; poor health outcomes, increased crime levels and an inability to access quality education for all. All of these issues have been thoroughly investigated and researched. But scarcely do you hear any SJW’s ever discussing these problems.

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Within the myopic worldview of an SJW, the world’s social ills are solely related to genitalia and skin colour. This is irrespective of education level, current employment status or social standing. If you belong to a so called minority group, you have the right to call yourself oppressed and therefore, are eligible to apply for citizenship to the Kingdom of Victimhood. Conversely, a white, middle age man, ex-armed forces, who’s sleeping on the street with possible PTSD can be labelled privileged by middle class, identarians. While the man’s only crime may be a lack of melanin and male genitalia.

My biggest worry is, to accomplish anything within our so called democracy, some form of consensus is required, something that glues the masses together. At this tipping point, ideally anger, frustration and vitriol would be aimed at the ruling elite, neoliberalism and people who rig the game in favour of themselves. Not too long ago the left was more united, disagreements from varying factions existed, but the overall idea was broadly agreed. Identity politics in contrast is divisionary, it doesn’t seek to bring people together, it creates a pecking order based on arbitrary parameters. It makes no attempt to charm people into the fold and it outwardly endeavours to alienate people, using a criteria we can do nothing about. This behaviour adds yet another layer of disharmony, therefore, making life ever easier for the powers that be, to maintain a firm hold on society.

Just in case you are missing my not so subtle point, SJW’s are not socialists or on the left. Of course the right leaning media will push the lefty SJW spin, as this is a good way to launch an attack on us. Individuals such as Jordan Peterson continue to ramble on about concepts such as ‘Cultural Marxism’ in a way to demonise all on the left. Granted Peterson can sound persuasive at times for the disaffected, but to link concepts from Marx to what the right describes as ‘Cultural Marxism’ is a stretch, bordering on a barefaced lie. Although, credit where credit’s due, it is another masterstroke linking identarians with the left through Marx.

So what is Cultural Marxism and does it exist? The story begins in the early 20th century, when the socialist revolution failed to materialise beyond the USSR. Marxist thinkers of the time primarily Antonio Gramsci and Georg Lukacs endeavoured to make sense of this. They suggested that culture and religion undermined the commoners desire to revolt. It was thought that the solution would need to investigate; universities, schools, government bureaucracies and the media, so that cultural changes could be implemented from above. This particular baton, was then taken up by the Frankfurt School, who concluded that the way to dismantle capitalism was to blend a bit of Freud and some Marx together. The idea was that workers were now not economically oppressed, but were made compliant through sexual repression and other social conventions. It was surmised that that the problem wasn’t just capitalism, but family, gender hierarchies, religion and race.

There is glaring error with this synopsis. Marx did talk about oppressed and oppressors, but always from a class perspective. This slight of hand from the right, which suggests that descriptions of gender, race and sexuality is spoken in the context of Marxism is disingenuous at best. Identity politics does not have it’s roots in Marxism, however, it is closely aligned with postmodernism. In fact postmodern thinking, like it’s SJW adherents, almost completely neglect class. This intentional connection of the two lefts ‘economic’ and ‘identarian’, serves the right very well, despite being concocted from a fable.

Unfortunately for the economic left, ‘identarians’ are a strong influential group, which can be witnessed in numerous universities. They are also heavily supported by many influential politicians, such as Justin Trudeau. Just note the amount of laws that are now being implemented, that not only support, but favour the so called oppressed. For SJW’s the patriarchy, white supremacy, rape culture, transphobia and imperialism is the very air that they breathe. Far from being linked to Marxism, this is undoubtedly a postmodern creation; Foucault, Derrida and Lyotard being the primary actors. This ideology has spawned spin-offs such as; intersectional feminism, critical race theory and queer theory. Postmodernism has very little to do with economic inequality, apart from the occasional anti-capitalist sound bite. But the merging of the two philosophical factions with little in common, is a stroke of genius from the right.

Sometimes I wish SJW’s were coalesced into a single entity, in the form of a ‘baddy’ from the James Bond movie Goldfinger. In this situation all I would need to do, would be to push the ejector seat button under the gear stick flap of the Aston Martin DB5 and poof…….no more identarians to weigh the left down. Sadly this bunch are more akin to leeches, sucking the life out of a once coherent section of politics and equally the joy out of life. Doubtless, because the left is saddled with narcissistic, victim obsessive, self interested, fanatics, we will continue to be on the defensive, against the right. The left will also find it difficult to seize the moral high-ground from them. Not because they are bathed in moral superiority, but because the left’s weakest link, notably SJW’s are the ball and chain around the left’s leg. Both the conservative and libertarian right ideologies are riddled with flaws; morally, economically and socially. But the left metaphorically won’t have a leg to stand on, if we don’t clean house soon.

The libertarian and conservative right are now laying claim to the mantle of “defenders of free speech”. In reality the only free speech they approve of is the stuff they agree with, which is no different to SJW’s. We can witness this at the very highest levels of government, such as, every time Donald Trump smears journalists, denying them access to the Whitehouse. Or when he prevents the Environmental Protection Agency from providing information on climate change. But then again, SJW’s disable any ascendency or potency of a coherent argument to challenge these indiscretions, every time they no platform disagreeable invitees. These actions are often conducted under the infantile suggestion that speakers can make students feels unsafe and threatened. Meanwhile, SJW’s often forcefully try to disrupt events held by groups with differing views (see the first video).

Shutting down opposing views is thoroughly counter-productive, I want hear my opponents and debate them, because conservative and libertarian arguments are often weak. In a world with an ever growing population, looming climate change, global poverty and economic inequality, we can no longer consume our way out of trouble. Nor can we use meaningless metrics like GDP as faux markers, denoting how far we’ve come economically, when it only relates to a minority of people. For our species to survive and hopefully flourish, we can not allow a tiny proportion of the world to dictate terms to the rest of us. Inevitably, for the left to succeed with this message, we need to get into the Aston Martin, flip the gear stick flap and press the red button.

Brexit and Remain; two sides of the same old grimy coin.

In 2016, Brexit fractured the nation, even more so than the Beatles/Rolling Stones debate in the 60’s. If you voted leave you are often considered a racist, while voting remain could result in an accusation of being a pawn of the elite. Although the powers of neoliberalism may not have cooked this up purposefully, I suspect they will not be too perturbed with the outcome. I’m not referring to the result, I’m eluding to the deep ruptures within UK society. There are sizeable divisions already carved across political party lines, economic disparities, geographical variations, racial differences, gender issues, religious affiliations and now Brexit. Each side of the Brexit fiasco attempts to grasp the moral high ground, while pretending they are the enlightened ones. I propose that neither side have got it right for this simple reason; neoliberals control the EU, whilst a neoliberal regime runs the UK under the Tories. Until the leading political orthodoxy is usurped nothing dramatic will ever occur.,

One of the first criticisms levelled at the EU is, it is undemocratic. It is indeed true that the Commission President and the individual commissioners are not directly elected by the people of Europe. It is equally accurate that under the provisions of the EU treaty, the commission can only propose laws in areas where the UK government has allowed it to do so. So maybe it is not as undemocratic as it first appears. What is worrying, however, is that the EU has a strong commitment to neoliberalism, on a systemic level. Meaning laws are designed to encourage private enterprise.

As a result of this, there has been a huge transfer of ownership of industry from governments to corporations and ultimately out of the UK. Neoliberal policies dominate the; European Commission, European Parliament, European Central Bank and the European Court of Justice. The EU constitution actually enshrines neoliberal economics into it, making it impossible to be socialist or democratic. The EU has always promoted ‘free trade’, ‘free’ movement of capital, business austerity, flexible labour markets, low pay, privatisation of public services and the eradication of welfare states.

One of the most glaring examples of the EU’s economic control is Greece. Greece’s issues were triggered by the global financial crisis of 2008. However, in 2009 the government confessed that they had been telling ‘porkies’ regarding their financial situation, this raised some ‘red flags’ in relation to Greece’s economic situation. By 2010 Greece was shut out of borrowing in the financial markets and was hurtling towards bankruptcy. To prevent this potential calamity the; International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the European Commission (later known as the Troika) issued two bailouts amounting to €240 billion.

This rescue package unsurprisingly came with strict conditions. Firstly the lenders enforced harsh austerity terms, comprising of deep budget cuts and large tax increases. These tax increases weren’t aimed at the rich particularly, in fact they primarily affected those in need. This type of ‘economic package’ from the likes of the IMF and the World Bank, was a classic ‘disaster capitalism’ tactic, as highlighted in Naomi Klein’s book ‘The Shock Doctrine’. Rather than the bailout money being utilised to stabilise the nations finances, it was actually used to pay off its international loans.

Naomi Klein
Naomi Klein

In a paper written in 2016, by the European School of Management and Technology in Berlin, it was revealed that only 5% went to the Greek fiscal budget, while the other 95% was directed towards saving European banks and its creditors. Similar versions of this neoliberal charade have played out all other the world, from Chile to Russia. This one just so happened to use mechanisms of the EU as well as the IMF. In Greece’s case, there was an inept government, slow to respond to the crisis; private initiatives rushing in to fill the gaps; local officials seizing the chance to push forward pet schemes and a population too bewildered to do anything about it.

But austerity is not unique to the EU. As we know, this already exists and has been enforced in the UK by the Tory party for 8 years. It is probable that the Tories will use Brexit as another opportunity to push further legislative changes, particularly in the area of human rights. Although the UK are tied to the European Convention Human Rights until 2022. Obviously, Brexit will end free movement of labour and a seat at the EU negotiating table will also be conceded. I suggest the Tories, however, will see this as a way to construct a brave new world in their image. In particular, removing regulations that may be a burden on business, such as those relating to climate change directives.

So can I make a case for Europe as a Socialist? Lets give it a try, these suggestions to remain came from an Independent article.

  1. It gives citizens of the EU the freedom to live, work and retire anywhere in Europe. Which is great if you have the social and economic freedom to do this, which many ordinary folk do not.
  2. It sustains millions of jobs. In 2001 it was reported that 3.1 million jobs were linked to the UK’s exports to the EU. This is brilliant, but in my old stomping ground, in the north of England where 10 of the 12 most declining cities are, it’s unlikely to be much comfort for people in industrial areas such as the North East, Yorkshire, North West and the Midlands. The working class have witnessed industries such as; car manufacturing, coal mining, ship building and the steel industry disappear with nothing substantial to replace them. These skills are lost forever, often to cheaper oversees contractors.
  3. Your holiday is much easier and safer. Awesome, if indeed you have the cash to travel abroad on your zero hour contract ‘bullshit’ job.
  4. Your less likely to get ripped off. Being a member of the EU affords equal consumer rights while shopping abroad. Again I feel this only appeals to a certain section of the population who actually have the funds to travel abroad.
  5. It offers greater protection from terrorists, paedophiles, people traffickers and cyber crime. This is through the sharing of information. To be fair it’s difficult to find a fault with this one.
  6. Our businesses rely on the EU. The Confederation of British Influence estimates that the EU membership adds 4-5% of GDP to the UK. This is all fine and dandy, but there are some issues; this supposedly good news hasn’t really been witnessed in pay packets across the country, real wages are still less than they were 10 years ago.
  7. We have a greater influence. It’s considered that being apart of the EU would be the only way to be relevant on the international stage. But, for someone is who is flipping burgers in Wigan, with no further job prospects, I’m not sure the UK being important economically, militarily or diplomatically on the world stage would feel of much use to them.

So did I state a solid case for EU, probably not. It was admittedly hard to find much to be positive about. Now, I’ll try the same sort of thing with a few articles that are pro Brexit.

  1. Top of the list is immigration. We could decide who comes into the country. In a study by the London School of Economics, it is surmised that immigration could rise in the short-term. This is thought to be due to migrants visiting before the rules change. The second reason is family reunification. Article 8 of ECHR provides the right of individual persons to have a family life. Remember the UK have committed to the ECHR until 2022. Another point of contention is, the porous Irish border may well be used as a back door. Finally a points based system doesn’t necessarily restrict entry, rather that it is a means of selection.
  2. We could make our own laws again. A Telegraph article proposed that 65% of laws are from the EU. There is no definitive consensus for this, but it is thought that 13% to 65% of laws are made by the EU, suggesting that somewhere in middle is more likely. So technically yes you could make your own laws, but it doesn’t stop them being crap laws.
  3. We could set our own tax rates. This is primarily referring to VAT and to lowering it. The EU does not permit lowering VAT on goods and services below 15%. Although, as VAT is currently 20%, the government could essentially lower VAT by 5% now. As a Tory government tends to push regressive taxes like VAT more than constructing and enforcing a progressive tax such as a well thought out income tax, this point is pretty much irrelevant.
  4. Next on the list, are what can only be described as, 1970’s inspired regressive actions as suggested by the authors of the article. Firstly you could dispose of your fridge, by throwing it in landfill. Awesome! The article suggests the UK could get rid of windfarms. Pump up the CO2! Also it’s proposes no more pesky recycling bins. I guess you could just throw all your rubbish into next doors garden, like the good old days. We could also return to blackout inducing, non energy conserving light bulbs. While we’re at it, how about if we went back in time, good old ‘jumpers for goalpost’, while sending your kids to work down the pit at the age of 7.
  5. Finally, it wouldn’t be Brexit without the mention of blue passports. I always thought they were black anyway. You could soon have your own UK passport lane. Queuing up with other pissed up Brits singing “here we go” on their way back from places like Megaruff (Magaluf). Oh the joy!
street-footy-1950s
Ahh, those were the days, running around to loosen up the coal dust in your lungs.

So there was a very brief summary of both sides. I hasten to add equally shit (in differing ways of course) and each one as capitalistic as the other. The conclusion is there is no real chance of any discernible changes, unless of course Jeremy Corbyn bulldozes his way through the doors of number 10 some time soon. Sadly, I suspect the ruling elite and the media will already be plotting to defend against this eventuality. So who are the folks who voted to leave and who makes up the group who are insisting (in vain) for a second referendum? Firstly geography, every area (or country) apart from Northern Ireland, Scotland and London voted to leave. One of the most dramatic splits, however, according to YouGov was seen along educational lines, 70% of voters who’s highest academic attainment was a GCSE (or equivalent) voted to leave. While 68% of voters with university degrees voted to remain in the EU.

This as far as I’m concerned, is the closest we get to a class split, purely because you have less chance of going to university, if you are from an economically depressed area and if you attended a crap school. Plus if your siblings, friends or parents didn’t attend university, again you are less likely to go. This group are also more than likely to be from areas that have seen higher than average unemployment and a mass depletion of once prominent industries. It isn’t surprising that many were inclined to vote leave, change can be exciting and offers hope when you have little to lose.

Does this lack of education give the Remain crew some sort of moral high-ground, because they are presumably more educated? Absolutely not, people have different needs, life experiences and priorities. Also education and intelligence manifests in a plethora of ways. It doesn’t miraculously materialise in the lecture halls of universities. People learn from countless different sources. For many decades only a lucky few ever attended university, but the voices of non-attendees were still considered valuable.

For the many Remainers with a university education, their degree will see on average a greater earnings potential than someone without, especially when this is projected out over a lifetime. Many will be more economically secure, therefore, voting for the EU status quo which supports social justice, while providing the freedom and ease at which to roam Europe would make total sense. The small matter of a neoliberal juggernaut in Brussels is unlikely to bother them, as this largely middle class section of society have generally done reasonably well from the EU. So long as they can get their cheap skiing holidays to Courchevel, I suspect everything will be rosy.

Another split during the 2016 vote was age, 71% of under 25’s voted remain, while 64% of over 65’s voted leave. The accusations from under 25’s has been that the ‘baby boomer’ generation stole their future. Sadly for them it’s called democracy and if only 36% of their age group could be bothered to turn up, they as a whole have only themselves to blame. To resolve this issue the Independent suggested that maybe 16-17 year olds should vote, curiously it was estimated that 82% would have voted remain. While a piece in Time magazine, postulated that older people should not vote, as they make poor choices. Fair enough, how about we keep changing the rules until your team wins, because that doesn’t sound at all entitled does it? This seems to be a common theme regarding ‘Remain Voters’, there is a distinct air of “I know best”, snobbery and entitlement.

Did all racists vote leave? I would imagine so. Are all leave voters racist? Absolutely not. An interesting point states, only 34% of leave voters, cited immigration as their main reason for voting leave. However, if you listen to remainers you would swear that there is a Tommy Robinson in every leave voter just waiting to burst out. But understandably, after 10 years of austerity and nearly 40 years of de-industrialisation people were losing hope that things would change for the better. These areas are now homes to warehouse and distribution work, payday loan companies and slum land-lording. They are ripe for exploitation, land is cheap and so is the labour.

The working class have had to worry about universal credit, a chaotic NHS, social cleansing and scarce housing. On the other hand the middle class have emerged from 2008/9 relatively unscathed and simply cannot grasp why people would want to leave the EU. Remainers have not relented; often suggesting that those who voted Brexit were too stupid, poorly informed or just plain gullible, thus falling for the leave narrative. While in contrast Remaniacs are the enlightened ones.

It needs to be made crystal clear that the Remain clan isn’t just made up of the middle classes. It also consists of large chunks of the establishment; many politicians, corporate CEO’s, economists, scientists and the media largely led by outlets such as the Guardian. Tony Blair has obviously poked his nose in, to be fair many of the people who are staunch Remain supporters are former Blairites. Blair is unsurprisingly calling for a second referendum, he’s also stated that people who voted leave are living in denial and don’t recognise what will happen.

In effect, what the liberal elite are saying is their political views are worth much more and therefore, should carry a greater weight than others. What Blair doesn’t understand and never has, is the working class people. For them, things haven’t gone so well for quite some time, partly due to his policies. So I get a sense that they really feel they have nothing to lose. It’s less of a case of not understanding the importance of the decision to leave and more, not giving a shit about what a load of rich Oxbridge graduates think anymore.

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On the 20th of October, the self proclaimed ‘peoples march’ took to the streets of London, which is about as Eurocentric a place as there is. To be fair 670,000 people turned up, but what astonishing arrogance to call a movement ‘peoples’ when the majority of the people didn’t vote for their side. Remainers when campaigning like this, often remind me of Richard Burton’s character in 1984, asking Winston how fingers is he holding up. This clan dressed in blue and yellow, taking part in placard competitions, displaying an array of witticisms couldn’t have been any more middle class if they tried. But I’m sure this approach won over the hearts and minds of working class people all over the UK.

You could read this drivel and decide due to my derision of Remainers that I’m pro-leave and you’d be wrong. Like I intimated at the start I think the whole sorry saga is a lose-lose. But, I do have much more empathy towards the majority of leave voters and no, not the leave voters who were voting for Brexit to apparently keep out ‘Muslims’. I’m referring to the people who were crapped on by Thatcher, gained little from Blair’s middle class crusade and then were further dumped on by 10 years of austerity.

This group, if they have jobs, often make up the working poor, slaving away for people like Jeff Bezos of Amazon fame. These workers have been penalised for massive crimes such as going to the loo, while the GMB Union confirms this, claiming staff are treated like robots. It’s also suggested that 600 ambulance’s have been called to Amazon warehouses in 3 years. But hey ho, who cares as long as a middle class Remainers gets their copy of ‘Jamie cooks Italy’ by Christmas.

Will Brexit help the people who voted for it? Probably not and certainly not while the Tories are in power. I expect more of the same pain. I’m afraid, post Brexit could be accompanied by an erosion of human rights over a period of time. I suspect trade will take a hit too, as most experts seem to predict. It’s clear to me that things will not change for the better until we move away from neoliberalism and hopefully Uncle Jeremy can be elected as Prime Minister. One word of warning though, unless we win back the working class and fight under one unified idea, which should be the reduction of obscene economic inequality, Corbyn and the left will not stand a chance. Until the middle classes the likes of whom we see in blue and yellow, start communicating properly with people outside of London, rather than condescendingly lecturing them with tweets and posted Guardian articles, discernible change will never materialise.

 

Standing up for masculinity.

Purely by broaching this subject, I will possibly be named as a member of the alt-right, called a fascist, a misogynist and will have effigies burned in safe spaces on liberal college campuses across the world. For what? Standing up for men? But, just in case you didn’t know, I am fiercely on the left, surely you remember, the place that used to mean fighting for economic inequality, workers rights and looking out for everyone regardless of; ethnicity, religion or gender. This was a time when we looked out at the world and challenged the injustices we found, rather than channelling our self interest and narcissism, based on melanin levels and genitalia.

Maybe I’m nuts, which there is a pretty good chance of, but I am starting to worry about this increasing attack on gender, more precisely masculinity. This gender agenda (see what I did there) is driven by a comparatively small but powerful group, usually found in ‘grievance studies‘ classes along with their guru’s pretending to be bone-fide academic professors, setting the narrative for puritanical social policy and morality. These groups are hugely ideological and their main goal is to smash the patriarchy. Which if you follow their logic, is perpetuated by all men, which therefore…….yep, you’ve guessed it, leads to smashing all men.

These very people who proport to be for equality, really want to emasculate the world. This goal has been addressed in a manner of ways. Firstly, there has been a total rejection of all values of the ‘enlightenment’ among this cult. This in effect is the denial of science, reason and objectivity, which has been replaced by a postmodernism, this by and large can be summarised as cultural relativity. It allows the group to deny biological gender differences of any sort, whilst supporting the idea that gender is a social construct. In my mind, this puts them firmly in the same bracket as ‘flat earthers’, as we’ll see later.

Lots of our physiological, psychological and anatomical traits are admittedly on a continuum of sorts. However, taking an average there is no doubt men and women are different, contrary to the views of blue haired identarians. Just in case any science deniers are reading this, I’ll pick just three points and I’ll throw in some scientific papers to back them up. For anyone who knows anything about anatomy, physiology or psychology, I’m sure you will concur that the notion of having to justify that we are indeed different would be hilarious, if only it wasn’t so outlandish.

weight lifter

So, without engaging in too deep of an academic search, this first paper looks at the differences of power production and energy capacities of elite level cross country skiers, from the European journal of applied physiology. This paper shows that the men displayed 87, 97 and 103% higher output of power production and 51, 65 and 71% of greater peak VO2 max than women.

In a nutshell, power output and endurance is greater in male athlete’s. Next! The second paper, and yes there is a slight sports theme, from the journal of sport health science; explains why men see differently to that of women. What this paper suggests is that men outperform women in spatial mental rotation and navigation tasks. While women tend to excel with object location or recognition, as well as verbal memory tasks. What do you know, we are different!

The last paper published in frontiers in neuroendocrinology called ‘The Genetics of Sex Differences in Brain and Behaviour‘, stated that it was hoped that the understanding of biological sex differences could help to improve healthcare for both men and women. This paper opined that although the brains of men and women are highly similar, they also have unique differences that affect biochemical processes, which may lead to the susceptibility of a particular diseases and contribute to specific behaviours.

So to round this off here is a quick summary of other differences; men see differently to women, they have good depth perception and distance vision, while women have better night and visual memory. Men are larger, stronger and boys mature later than girls, so on and so forth. So, now that I’ve wasted two paragraphs confirming the obvious, that men and women indeed differ in countless ways, let us discuss what is being done to subvert masculinity and why.

Currently it appears en vogue to bring kids up as gender neutral? Many of the ideas are based on the ‘blank slate theory‘ inferring that gender is socially constructed. A theory that seems to struggle to gain credence when it bumps into pesky old science, as identified in previous paragraphs. To confirm the ‘difference theory’ further, there is a raft of research concluding that toy preference is innate. That on the whole girls are inclined to gravitate towards toys such as dolls, while boys are attracted to mechanically interesting toys like cars and trucks. Moreover, these preferences are shown as early as 9 months old, considerably earlier than the emergence of gender awareness at about 18 months. Sadly despite some overwhelming robust science, the ‘choose your own gender’ brigade have blindly marched on, claiming mens and womens brains are the same.

This fable has persistently been comprehensively refuted. In a meta analysis of 126 studies it was found that men have larger total brain volumes. Primarily displaying more white matter from the anterior to posterior aspects of the brain, while women have more connections running between the left and right hemispheres. My suspicion is, the ‘gender neutral brigade’ is split into two groups; one group which is probably well meaning, but horribly misguided. Meanwhile, the other I will offer is completely ideological and is exceptionally conscious as to what it’s supporting.

By taking the second reason as motivation, it can be suggested that this is some sort of eugenics type of belief system, only this time they’re using social conditioning as the scapegoat. The overall premise behind all this is to bring kids up with no gender labels, culminating in the child being able to choose which gender they would prefer. This window of enlightenment (cue sarcasm) is thought to be at approximately four or five. Why stop there? How about we go the whole way and not tell them what species they are either, let them choose that too. That would be exciting, with so many animals to choose from!

So where does this anti-science, hullabaloo come from. For that information we need to delve back into postmodernism. Here we enter a parallel universe where practically all that we think we know is deemed socially constructed. In the modern era, we can look at the likes of Judith Butler and feminism, as an example of how this has been utilised. To clarify, Butler is an advocate for Gender Feminism. This is a group that strongly believes all gender is a social construct and all distinctions between men and women are socially and culturally developed, therefore, biology plays no role.

Using this thought process, it opens the door to such beliefs that gender equality can be achieved by quotas, or by teaching men to be less dominating of women. This apparently will solve all our problems. It basically boils the discussion down to ‘nature vs nurture’, and for feminists everything is nurture. Scientist will concede that cultural conditioning has a role, but biologically we are a dimorphic species. All in all, as this attack on masculinity persists, the feminist open admission is to dismantle the patriarchy. So what better way to achieve this than to socially condition any trace of masculinity out of boys.

Leaving this aside for now, another way that boys have been marginalised whether intentionally or not, is education. I suspect the majority of people in whatever roles in education they hold, have pretty good intentions. But it seems that until recently, certainly in the NZ, that they are just picking up on the failings of boys at school.

Currently 60% of university students are female, and rising. In UK primary schools, only 15% of teachers are men. While boys in the US are four times more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD and 80% of high school dropouts are also boys. It was known as far back as 1997 in the US that girls were outperforming boys in every subject. Despite this, most current education systems still primarily cater for girls, even though it is undeniable that boys learn differently to girls;

  • Boys show more areas dedicated in the brain to spatial mechanical strengths, girls focus on verbal emotive-processing.
  • Girls are generally hard wired to be less impulsive, allowing them to sit still and focus, therefore, reading and writing at an earlier age than boys.
  • Boys brains are hardwired to be single task focused, where girls tend to be hardwired for multitasking. These transitions are generally difficult due to lateralisation of boys brains, compared to a typical female cross-communication of brain hemispheres.
  • Less oxytocin in boys brains leads to more aggression and playful rough-housing, while girls have an easier time with impulse control.
  • Boys also learn better through movement, therefore, they find it much harder to sit and listen to a story.

Despite a plethora of evidence, many schools around the anglosphere still educate kids in a classroom centric and test based learning environment, that is contrary to the way boys thrive.

nepali kids

Switching subjects, another of the many tactics used in an effort to control men, is the use of the term ‘rape culture’. In reality, the people who commit these heinous crimes are a tiny minority of all men. Society doesn’t normalise these criminals and celebrate them, we rightly lock them up. Feminism has this nasty habit of accusing all men for; rape, domestic abuse, the gender pay gap and for the perpetuation of the patriarchy. This is achieved by using theories such as ‘structural violence’, which asserts that if one woman is abused, in some way, all members of the group, in this case women are by association. Using this logic, therefore, the entire male population are the oppressors and all women are the oppressed.

It’s this kind of lunacy, that leads to ‘Good Lad‘ workshops, which teaches boys about the perceived scale of sexual harassment and violence aimed at female students, and how they must stand up for women’s rights. This is an ideology that has been implemented into across schools in the ‘anglosphere’. Taking this thought process to its logical conclusion, the implications are that all young men are potential perpetrators and abusers.

Doggedly sticking to this ideology overlooks the physical and sexual abuse boys and young men also encounter. In actuality men are almost twice as likely to be a victim of violent crime than women. Although, it appears that because the attackers are often men, it doesn’t even register with feminists, as we are all apparently identical. In their scary world ‘toxic masculinity‘ lurks around every corner. As a reaction to this, traits such as rough and tumble play, competition and stoicism are now treated with extreme suspicion and often discouraged.

Further attacks on masculinity have arose over the years, one of these revolves around International Men’s Day. Incidentally this year it’s on November 19th 2018. In 2015 a UK Labour MP Jess Philips laughed at the suggestion that MP’s should be allowed to debate a range of men’s issues such as; domestic violence, suicide and premature mortality rates. She even had the audacity to suggest that “every day was International Men’s Day”, despite the obvious seriousness regarding these matters.

Father’s Day has also been subject to attack in recent times. Last year in Australia Dr Red Ruby Scarlet (that truly is her real name), put forward that Father’s Day should be renamed “Special Person’s Day”. She defended her position, suggesting that there was much Australian research that informs international research to substantiate her proposal (none of which was forthcoming). An interesting article in 2015 (from the US) challenged the feminist view of dads and men in general. Here’s a few points;

  1. The myth of “Deadbeat Dads”, most Dads support their kids financially. The vast majority of fathers support their children, while most of the ones who don’t, fall under the poverty line. In 2011, 25% of custodial mother’s did not receive any child support payments, whereas, 32% of custodial father’s did not receive payments from mothers.
  2. Dads are more likely to refuse child support payments from the other parent and are less likely to alienate the other parent. 27.5% of dads and 22.9% of mums had no legal child support by choice. Just 12.7% of dads didn’t want their children to have contact with the other parent, as opposed to 21% of mothers.
  3. Dads would rather spend more time with their kids than receive gifts from them. When parents were asked what they really wanted for mother/father’s day, only 35% of dads chose a gift, as opposed to 52% of mother’s.
  4. Dad’s do their fair share of housework. Women generally work less hours of paid labour. With this in mind a fair division of labour would be an equal amount of time in all forms of work combined; paid work, housework and childcare. When this is calculated men spend on average 54.2 hours per week working, with women working 52.7 hours a week.

What is also blatantly obvious is, that children lose out without a father around.

  • 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes – 5 times the average.
  • 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes – 32 times the average.
  • 85% of children who show behavioural problems come from fatherless homes – 20 times the average.
  • 80% of rapists with anger problems come from fatherless homes – 14 times the average.
  • 71% of high school dropouts come from fatherless homes – 9 times the average.

What seems abundantly clear is children need their fathers. Now, I’ll state my case as to why society needs men. In my home country New Zealand, women now make up 17% of builders, which has doubled over 15 years, great I hope with sincerity that they enjoy their trade. But pretty much throughout the rest of history, it has been men that have made most of the physical world.

Moreover, it is men that do and have done the vast majority of the dangerous and dirty jobs throughout the existence of human kind. Miners, oil rig workers, loggers, refuse collectors, sewage workers, power line installers among many others are predominantly staffed by men. Jobs that are performed regularly by men allow us to enjoy the life we are accustomed to, while keeping society ticking along.

In contrast, feminists often bemoan the lack of female CEO’s in the world, blaming all men for this perceived travesty, as if we are one homogenous tribe. The people who call the shots at the upper end of society, have as little in common with normal men, than an upper/middle class feminist such as Meryl Streep has with working class women. Feminist’s can deride men all they wish, but millions upon millions have given their lives in wars and conflicts all over world.

I’m sure some identarians will claim that they don’t believe in war, as if in some way this negates the millions who have sacrificed their lives. Nobody likes war, but for example, if the UK/US and the USSR had allowed Hitler his wishes, life would have been very brutal across much of the globe. Yes, I am acutely aware, regrettably many woman have died in wars too, but men are often drafted and have perished in their millions in varying corners of the Earth. So if there is a patriarchy tell me, why is society set up so men die in their droves?

quote-women-have-always-been-the-primary-victims-of-war-women-lose-their-husbands-their-fathers-hillary-clinton-47-10-70

Even men dying in war and conflict has been overshadowed at times, most notably by Hillary Clinton in 1998. It’s a fascinating comment considering she has barely encountered a war she hasn’t favoured. One of the sure fire ways to get abuse from identarians and certainly feminists is by merely mentioning ‘men’s issues’. But it is not a zero sum game, that is assuming feminists really are after equality. Both should be able  to co-exist, but they can’t, because for feminists it’s often about control and power. I’m certainly not about to apologise for being a bloke or for voicing pressing issues that are particular to men, so here goes;

Despite obvious issues that men report, any moves to highlight these disparities are quickly pounced upon, forcing men into silence. The screening of the film the ‘Red Pill‘ which follows a former feminist’s gradual questioning of her movement and a look into the ‘men’s rights’ movement, was treated like a Nazi propaganda movie. Equally disturbing all over the western world, particularly in places such as Canada and Australia men’s rights gatherings routinely receive feminist and SJW protests.

Critics of men’s rights groups describe supporters as misogynists, fascists and alt-right. In truth the people who attend these meetings are scattered from all over the political spectrum, but each one worries about the future of men and boys. The problem these groups face is, most of the mainstream media are on the side of the identarian feminists.

Feminists claim to be the underdogs and activists, but they control many aspects of life, while most social laws are distinctly two tiered in favour of women, such as ‘child custody’ laws. This juggernaut ensures that many of the very serious issues as mentioned previously get lost under a barrage of slurs and ad hominem attacks.

It is often surmised that feminism holds the key to men’s problems. This is disingenuous, dark and dangerous, on the part of feminism. We do not need feminism to fix problems men and boys face. Also I’m pretty sure we would wildly disagree regarding what these problems are. Throughout this article, I hope you’ve noticed the distinction I’ve made, I have never implicated women as a whole and I’m under no illusion that good mums are essential to the wellbeing of boys. But they need awesome dads and all men should strive to be brilliant role models and be there to help each other out.

I’ve already witnessed the death of two good male friends to suicide. I do not want to hear any more of my friends passing in this way again during my lifetime. What is needed is help in the areas where it is desperately required, primarily in health and education, so my half of the population can also flourish. If the males in society are healthy as a whole, all will reap the benefits.

 

 

 

 

The illiberal left, libertarians and neoliberals have one thing in common; self interest.

Recently, I’ve been reading and watching about identity politics. Possibly too much at times, in a desperate attempt to grasp the ideology of Social Justice Warriors. This produced several side effects, namely a plethora of highlight videos on YouTube from the right of the political spectrum, often right (US) libertarians. On viewing a multitude of films from both the left and right, I noticed a common denominator, that of self-interest. This self-regard is largely underpinned by a variety of drivers; money, freedom, liberty, power, diversity and societal control. What traits of political and moral selfishness you display, all depends on where you pitch your political tent. It’s easy to critique these video clips from our own echo chambers and muse, what’s wrong with liberty? Or, I can’t see how diversity is such a bad thing. On the surface this may appear true, but on digging deeper, I felt there was much to uncover.

As a libertarian socialist, the failings of the right are more intuitive and obvious to me, so this is where we’ll start. Neoliberalism is a particular aspect of the right that has appeared in the mainstream political consciousness since about 1979, due to the rise of Margaret Thatcher in the UK and later Reagan in the US.  Although globally, an experiment utilising these values occurred a few years earlier in Chile, following a coup in 1973, led by Augusto Pinochet. Renowned academic David Harvey, surmises that neoliberalism is a political project perpetuated by the corporate capitalist class, initially designed to stop the power of labour in the late 60’s early 70’s. For this group the motivation has consistently revolved around money, control and power. While for most of us the impacts have been negatively felt across the globe. We have all witnessed this, with the demise of our health service, our collapsing education systems, countless wars and the destruction of our ecosystem.

Neoliberalism’s omnipresence  is now ingrained into our society. We are told that competition is a natural human response, while freedom is found in the buying and selling of commodities. We are hypnotised into believing inequality is virtuous and is, therefore, a reward for working so hard. The rich persuade themselves and others that their wealth is acquired by merit, conveniently forgetting the advantages of education, societal networks and family wealth. Neoliberalism is undoubtedly a self serving racket; smashing unions, tax reductions, rising rents, privatisation and deregulation. But on the other side of the great divide, the majority of us have more insecure jobs, poorer public services, higher rents and we pay more, often for a diminished product. All the while a very small group of rich parasites have made vast sums of money at the expense of us all.

Neoliberalism could be fairly classified as systemic self interest, but it is nearer to a virus, as it invades and devours the human spirit. Money for the rich is maximised through a sympathetic system, encouraging maximum profits and preserved for example, via limited tax payments.  This cash is utilised to change policies to obtain further power in an effort to wrestle more control, to acquire ever more riches. Lobbyists paid by banking, fossil fuel companies or tobacco firms bombard politicians to vote for bills in their favour, while the minions get to vote every few years, that often has little to no effect. Routinely politicians are easily persuaded to side with the corporate world. All across the western world they generally enjoy the same education and societal advantages as the corporate community. It could also be argued that many share the same personality traits too, such as sociopathy. In a study published in 2014, it concluded that CEO’s possessed more sociopaths per population than any other job.

It is theorised that many leading politicians also share these sociopathic traits, which include; a lack of remorse and empathy, a sense of grandiosity, superficial charm, manipulative behaviour and a refusal to take responsibility for one’s actions, among others. Apart from the obvious ones such as; Hitler, Stalin, Trump, Nixon, LBJ and say Churchill, we could also make very strong cases for both Clinton’s, Tony Blair, Trudeau, Dick Cheney, Obama, Henry Kissinger, George W Bush and Thatcher as sociopaths without too many problems. It is, therefore, not surprising that a marriage between the political and corporate elite is often an easy fit, due to their end goals, namely power and prestige. The neoliberal motivation is blatant and obvious yet often goes unchallenged, as it is all encompassing. It is ideological in a sense, but the game is about power and control of the upper echelons of society. They, however, are not the only section of the right who believe in self interest, but for quite differing reasons, this next bunch are called libertarians.

Libertarianism is an ideology that is mainly peculiar to the United States, but not wholly. According to the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, here are the key concepts:

  1. Individualism
  2. Individual rights
  3. Spontaneous order
  4. Rule of Law
  5. Limited government
  6. Free Markets
  7. The virtue of production
  8. Natural harmony of interest
  9. Peace

The motto that can be seen regularly associated with Libertarians is ‘don’t tread on me’. This is known as ‘Gadsden’ flag and goes back to 1775. The flag was adopted by the Tea Party movement in 2009. Libertarians claim the meaning is pacifistic by nature, suggesting they won’t bite unless stepped on, meaning of course their rights. The institution that is generally thought of as invasive and the most likely to infringe on these rights is the government. In fact in the minds of many libertarians, government can only threaten freedom. This lines up with one of the main beliefs of libertarians, which is the idea that ‘small government’ works best. Conceivably this could mean practically any government entity, dependent on who you talk to, could be privatised and that a pay as you go system for services required would ensue. From a social perspective, libertarians and libertarian socialists often find some common ground, such as; the legalisation of drugs, prostitution and a purely defensive military unless attacked.

libertarian bs

Ideas between the factions rapidly diverge when discussing the libertarian view of economics and how this relates to people. This ideology believes that the dubiously named ‘free market’ is guided and at times corrected by the ‘invisible hand‘. This is based on an idea from Adam Smith, implying that if we leave the markets alone, the correct outcome will be achieved, as if by magic. If that isn’t weird enough libertarians apply this theory to humans, stating that if we are left alone to satisfy our own needs, society will ultimately fall in to place. This is number 3 on the previous list and is called ‘spontaneous order‘. The idea is almost childlike in its naiveté, if an individual is driven by self interest as promoted by this ideology, these actions may come into conflict with what is good for society. As much as this is vehemently denied by libertarians, what is proposed is no more than a ‘dog eat dog’ philosophy with a few loose ethics wrapped around it, to offer a veneer of respectability.

It doesn’t take too much of an imagination to realise that in a free market system, the disparity between rich and poor would grow dramatically. Further to this the power imbalance between the haves and have nots would widen ever more. With no substantial government to intervene, the poorer end of society would live short brutal lives. On the other side of the tracks the rich in contrast would have the power to make the rules up to suit themselves, even more so than now. The oft mentioned libertarian ‘pin up’ girl is Ayn Rand, who preached a ruthless individualistic narrative, implied that the importance of personal rights and profit grossly outweigh the collective good. These ideas do not account for any interaction we may have as human beings, or the fact that as a species we tend to co-operate with each other. A problem to consider is, if one person is meeting their personal needs, it may have a direct affect on somebody else’s liberties and freedom. This is just basic causality, as none of us live in silo’s, we all have to interact at some point. Rarely do you hear a libertarian addressing this conundrum. I’ve always considered the libertarian ideology as politics of an 8 year old. I still conclude that as an ideology it just doesn’t stand up to much scrutiny and appears to be at odds with human nature.

To highlight libertarians self-serving and anti evidence mentality I will use two examples; the first one will be their aversion to tax and secondly their attachment to guns. A regularly used mantra heard from libertarians is “tax is theft”. Firstly, there is a fundamental problem with this statement, if we have no taxes, then we have no government and even libertarians belief in some ruling body, albeit a skeletal version. However, it’s worth noting that no modern society has ever survived without a government and this ruling body of course would need funding. Primarily because government’s are required to provide goods and services, therefore, tax is necessary to pay for this. The libertarian problem with taxes is entirely ideological, they disapprove purely because taxes are not voluntary and that a certain amount of coercion is required from the government. Libertarians believe nothing should be forced, so using this logic the government is wrong to collect taxes. Libertarians advocate for a voluntary exchange, where people are free to make their own choices with their lives. This is impractical, naïve and utopic by nature. A pay as you go system for services is a ridiculous notion. The general idea of being ‘free’ to do what you want without any civic responsibilities, has all the hallmarks of a teenager who hasn’t discovered the word accountability. We’ll finish with libertarianism on the weird American notion of the ‘right to bear arms’.

The 2nd amendment is something libertarians doggedly cling to. They will challenge anyone, along with the National Rifle Association (NRA) who attempts to tighten gun regulations. Their reasoning proposes that people have a right to arm themselves to make themselves safer, but this just isn’t supported by evidence. The data suggests that people who carry firearms are more likely to be shot, furthermore, it increases the risks of death for those around them. Libertarians also posit that gun restrictions wouldn’t work, this is contrary to much of the evidence, a good example being Australia. Over two decades ago Australia banned rapid fire guns, this was implemented just months after the mass shooting in Port Arthur by Martin Bryant. Bryant killed 35 people and wounded another 23 in Tasmania with 2 semi-automatic weapons. The effect of Australia’s crackdown on guns has been nothing short of incredible. In 18 years leading to 1996, the nation witnessed 13 fatal mass shootings (4 or more killings at one time) with 104 fatalities. Since 1996, however, there has been one fatal mass shooting in Australia, which took place in May 2018. What’s also important to note is that within the first 7 years of this legislation, firearm homicide rates dropped by 42%, and firearm suicide rates by 57%. Maybe these types of measures could have prevented the shooting at Sandy Hook, where 27 children and adults were murdered in 2012. Or the massacre by Dylann Roof in Charleston, S.C, where 9 people were killed in a church, June 2015. Even more recently, 59 people may not have been shot dead in Las Vegas in October 2017, with the tightening of regulations.

We are informed of these types of incidents in the news so often it almost seems commonplace, but this is something we should never get accustomed to. Here lies a good example concerning the problems with libertarianism, the very place where ideology clashes with reality. It would appear that libertarians are happy to forgo the lives of fellow citizens in order to keep the guns that they don’t really need. I would also strongly suggest that the victims of this type of crime have had their rights, freedom and civil liberties trampled upon much more so than libertarian gun advocates. These issues seem to be conveniently forgotten, as apparently the personal rights of a libertarian are more important than anything else despite the outcome, thus proving this ideology is not compatible with a functioning society. It’s also important to mention that the political right’s attachment to guns is not just a libertarian phenomenon. This strange love affair is also witnessed within the ranks of the authoritarian, religious right too.

Gun nuts
Former Republican Sen. Greg Brophy and his gun loving family.

With the right dealt with, next we’ll tackle the left, or more specifically Social Justice Warriors or more politely, adherents of identity politics. I generally like to call this group the illiberal left or identarians. Although, I would strongly suggest that they have no place on the left, as their self interest is the antithesis of what the left is all about. To recap, we’ve covered how the neoliberals are motivated by money and power, how the libertarians are driven by blind ideology, so the question is, what drives the SJW’s. I suggest that the SJW’s have more in common regarding outcomes as the neoliberals, which is power and control. While their motivation, is more ideologically driven similarly to libertarians. Identarians view the world based on a perceived power struggle between oppressed groups and systemic power. Often a supporter of identity politics will ensure they are a part of an oppressed group such as; women, people of colour, LGTB’s, disabled people and other marginalised groups. Many of these groups can be witnessed fighting among themselves regarding the legitimacy of their oppression, or even challenged individually if someone is perceived to have infringed upon the ever changing rules. Its believers claim they are a movement of diversity, but this status is only reserved for certain groups who pass the oppression test. Everybody else outside of the zone of marginalisation, is rendered mute and have no voice regardless of academic prowess or any expertise one may possess.

This ideology borrows heavily from postmodernism, valuing “lived experience” over empirical evidence. Therefore, the quality of information takes a back seat to the perception and feelings of the receiver, while all logic or reason is disregarded. Vast numbers of identarians are only oppressed by association and have not encountered any direct oppression. They will claim that oppression is systemic, so by purely belonging to a perceived ‘out group’ it allows them access to victimhood. Whether an individual has been on the receiving end of any kind of abuse is considered irrelevant and the enquirer is promptly accused of victim blaming. In fact the definition of oppression has become so broad and the bar set so low, that almost anybody could meet the criteria (unless of course you’re white and male). Identity politics possesses a myopic view of the world, one based on genitalia and skin pigmentation. Class rarely gets a mention as many identarians are economically privileged and middle class. It is through this distorted lens that Munroe Bergdorf, a trans-woman and part-time model stated, “a white homeless man can still be privileged”. You see it’s about equality, but only a certain type of equality, and it promotes diversity, but not alas diversity of thought.

Smash_Patriarchy_Detroit_Feminist_2014_Protest

SJW’s use the manipulation of language and the setting of moral boundaries in order to control society. Identarians do not possess the money and ability to influence the ruling elite through lobbying as neoliberals do. Therefore, they have to be creative in the way they exert their control. What they have constructed, is a victim narrative, whereby the ‘minorities’ are the victims and the ‘majority’ are the oppressors. This is used to attract help from the authorities and to obtain greater influence in the public sphere. The outcomes of this can be seen by the rise of ‘safe spaces’ on university campuses, or by making ‘wolf whistling‘ a criminal offence in Nottinghamshire, for example. Identarians are exceptionally puritanical, regulating who is and isn’t allowed to speak on campus, often no-platforming anyone who may be considered ‘problematic’. Opinions are blurted out freely from these groups and conflated with facts in this cesspool of ‘ideas’, while unwelcome, incoming words, are considered violence. All this is a desperate attempt to control the narrative and the terms of acceptable dialogue.

Often labels such as; racist, misogynist, fascist and transphobic are yelled to silence dissenters at the first sign of any challenging speech. We are regaled with stories about the gender wage gap, patriarchy, toxic masculinity and white privilege to maintain the story of oppression. This is not about changing the world for the betterment of society, this is pseudo-politics of the narcissist, designed to benefit and empower the individual. Identity politics is not just confined to academia either, pro-Israel lobbies regularly use anti-Semitism as a weapon to stifle debate or indeed discredit anybody who may be deemed ‘problematic’. The term has been manipulated over the years and is now so malleable that it can be deployed on anybody, regardless of the individual’s moral and academic integrity. So my summary of identarians is this; they are a collection of self-obsessed, self-involved, narcissists, who for them the personal really is the political and nothing else matters. Their goal is to attain social control and re-build society in their image.

All three of these ideologies are bathed in self interest, but for contrasting reasons. Neoliberals manipulate society from the top down, appealing to politician’s self interest via lobbyists. The idea is to control what the government does or does not interfere with for the benefit of their corporations and bank balance, the Koch brothers are a prime example (although they possess libertarian traits). Any collateral damage to people or the environment is inconsequential as long as their best interests are served. Libertarians on the other hand, are driven predominantly by ideology, such as, stating the markets should be allowed to regulate themselves and government should play a minor role in our affairs. There is, however, a conflict between how libertarian’s see the market and the real world, plus there is no evidence to support their view. Libertarian ‘theory’ also infers that corporation’s have no more power than the individual, for example banker to customer. Given the 2008 crash this notion becomes increasingly difficult to believe. Another suggestion is, we are ‘free to choose’, but what we choose is largely dependent upon what resources we were born with or have at our disposal. If corporations were allowed unbridled freedom, the planet and inhabitants would be destroyed by the people with the most power. It’s also telling that there is no country on the planet that is run in a libertarian fashion.

Finally, the illiberal left or SJW’s, this group cannot achieve top down control, therefore, the goal is to control what is acceptable in society. The objective is to strangle and hijack society through the regulation of speech, how we behave or even what we think. This is imposed through a particular worldview, where individuals are coerced into fighting structural enemies such as the mystical patriarchy. Whilst all human interaction is only acceptable through this narrow viewpoint. One such example of control, is terming the previously mentioned ‘wolf whistling‘ as a hate crime. This suggests that 3rd wave feminists instinctively know what is good for women and that they are somehow unable to defend themselves. Clearly some men need to grow up regarding their behaviour, but it is arrogant for SJW’s to suggest that they speak for all women. Identity politics is a set of puritanical beliefs enforced upon society purely for the good of their group.

As suggested earlier people are motivated in a variety ways and self-interest is a common factor observed right across the political spectrum. It is noticeable that the neoliberals control government, industry, the military and the global arena. This could be considered the most important type of power and in many ways it is. But there is another system to control and that is one of society. Here, identarians using postmodernism as their guide, are now starting to control and re-configure societal norms. Our behaviour, language, feelings and thoughts are now being scrutinised and punished through a specific ideological prism, often outside of the law. It’s a society where rules will not governed by logic, reason or science, but emotion, ‘lived experience‘ and subjectivity. The neoliberal ruling elite are relatively happy for radical societal change to occur as this keeps the proletariat divided, confused and aggressive towards each other. While any societal change from the illiberal left will have little or no affect on them. Unfortunately, for many of us, we are being affected or more precisely infected by this twisted world view. Identarians are desperate to dismantle society, while constructing a dystopian, puritanical, 1984 type thought prison in its place. This all started in academic institutions, but without doubt it’s coming to a home or workplace near you. Soon!!!

In defence of free speech, before it’s too late.

In a world of polarised politics and widely differing moral opinions, free speech is taking a battering and yet it is essential for democracy. On a daily basis you can witness on social media, people shutting down debate with words such as misogynist and racist, as soon as discourse veers from their comfort zone. Both sides left and right claim that their political opposites are constantly abusing free speech. ‘Black Life Matters’ supporters upset the right, but no more than how Milo Yiannopoulos continuously offends the left.

So, where do we start when discussing this thorny subject of free speech and free expression? We could start as far back as Socrates, but I guess the Magna Carta is as good a place as any. This was a ‘charter of liberties’ signed in Runneymede, England in 1215, reluctantly by King John (more accurately he used his royal seal). King John succumbed to this document primarily to stave off a rebellion from the country’s powerful barons, following a spate of unsuccessful foreign policies and heavy tax demands.

The Magna Carta was effectively the first written constitution in European history, but it primarily only benefitted the elites at the time. Two further acts; the ‘Petition of Right‘ (1628) referring to clause 39 of the Magna Carta, which states; “no free man shall be…imprisoned or dispossessed, except by the lawful judgement of his peers” and clause 40, the ‘Habeas Corpus Act‘ (1679), “to no one will we sell, to no one will we deny or delay rights or justice” had huge implications on future legal systems in both UK and the US. As far as other legal documents go the ‘Bill of Rights‘ (UK, 1689), the ‘Declaration of the Rights of Man‘ (France, 1789) and the ‘First Amendment of the US bill of rights‘ (US, 1791), were all influenced by the Magna Carta. These were all attempts to secure freedom of speech and expression under the umbrella of human rights.

In a speech given at the University of Toronto in 2006, Christopher Hitchens debating in favour of freedom of speech, paraphrased three great thinkers to summarise the concept. John Milton, John Stuart Mill and Thomas Paine collectively suggesting that; “it’s not the right of the speaker to be heard, it is the right of everyone in the audience to listen and to hear. And every time you silence somebody, you make yourself a prisoner of your own action, because you deny yourself the right to hear something”. 

Economist, philosopher and socialist revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg surmised that freedom of speech is meaningless unless it means the freedom of a person’s view who thinks differently”. Noam Chomsky, renowned linguistic Professor and distinguished Libertarian Socialist declared; “Goebbels was in favour of free speech he liked. So was Stalin. If you’re in favour of free speech, then you are in favour of free speech precisely for views you despise”.

So why is free speech so precious? Freedom of expression for which free speech is a part of, is a fundamental human right. Our ability to express an opinion and to speak freely is essential for any society to move forward. It is imperative that in a free society we have an open exchange of ideas and that these opinions are tested and challenged. The most effective way to defeat bad ideas is by the promotion of good ones, utilising ethics and reason, rather than bans and censorship. The other important element, is the ability to listen and to hear other people’s perspectives. The only way we can test our assumptions and ideas is through discourse with people offering a differing view. Furthermore, the weight of public opinion should not be used to decide what may or may not be heard.

Many ideas in the past have been ridiculed initially, only to be proved correct; Galileo Galilei championed heliocentrism while Darwin promoted the theory of evolution. John Stuart Mill wrote in ‘On Liberty‘; “If all of mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind”. 

The philosopher Karl Popper talked about testing your ideas through “conjecture and refutation“. An individual offers a notion about the nature of reality and this is then tested against reality. This process allows the world to falsify the mistaken ones. The “conjecture” part of this process is the use of free speech. These opinions are offered not knowing if they are correct. It is only by witnessing which ideas withstand being refuted do we attain knowledge.

So given the perceived importance, why is freedom of speech being attacked and eroded? Well contrary to popular belief this isn’t purely a SJW endeavour, the right also use free speech as a political football. Although to be fair to the illiberal left, they do seem to have got the suppression of speech part down to an art form and that’s not a compliment. Free speech on both sides appears to be defined as speech they agree with. Moral psychologist Jonathan Haidt portrayed perceptions of free speech in the graphic seen below.

free hate speech

Recently the left have used an array of puritanical actions such as; disinviting speakers, censoring artwork and disciplining wrongdoers of arbitrarily constructed cultural appropriation rules. This behaviour has been justified by suggesting it’s done to make other speakers feel safe. I would propose that by other they mean speakers they agree with. As mentioned, the right play games too; there was an incident when a student secretly filmed Professor Olga Perez Stable Cox referring to Donald Trump in class as a white supremacist. This video was propelled across the internet where she received death threats.

The group responsible for this, the Orange Coast County Republicans stated that removing commentary like ‘hers’ was necessary to ensure the college’s commitment to “diversity, equity and inclusivity”. If this narrative sounds eerily familiar, it will be because it is the same language often used by the illiberal left. Studies in the US suggest that Republican students are just as likely to agree with the restriction of campus speech that is offensive or upsetting to certain groups, as the Democrats. Which brings us full circle to Haidt’s representation above. As an aside, however, it is twice as likely for Republican’s to support book bans.

Countless speakers who have differing ideas to illiberal left orthodoxy have been regularly disinvited from an array of places in the English speaking world, such as; Ben Shapiro, Germaine Greer, Kate Smurthwaite, Milo Yiannopoulos, Steve Bannon, Christina Hoff Sommers, Dave Rubin and Nigel Farage. Browsing the database for disinvited speakers on FIRE’s website (Foundation of Individual Rights in Education), I thought it would be interesting to work out which side of the political fence censors speakers the most.

I was unsurprised to find that since the beginning of 2017 the left had disapproved of speakers leading to what the UK call no-platforming on 19 occasions, while the right spat their dummy out just 5 times. The main issues for the left were race, gender and sexual orientation. While on the right, it was primarily sexual orientation and Chelsea Manning for criminal misconduct. It would make sense at this point to investigate why this is happening particularly on campus and what are the implications.

It would appear that over the last few years there has been a campaign to sanitise college campuses in an endeavour to make them clean from words, ideas and subjects that may offend or cause discomfort. This has altered the way professors teach, and the content is often shrouded in trigger warnings. Plus any one of us could be easily accused of a microaggression, such as using phrases that appear to be innocuous like, “I believe the most qualified person should get the job”. All this sounds distinctly Orwellian, but Jonathan Haidt a moral psychologist, suggests this is primarily about emotional wellbeing and the protection of students from emotional harm.

It is a move to turn a college campus into a ‘safe space’ and they will punish anyone who stands in their way. The problem, he suggests is, it ill equips students for the real world, which often requires intellectual engagement with people one may well disagree with. It is also thought that this culture of censorship and the punishment of speakers could lead students to thinking patterns that could conceivably be described in cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) terms as pathological. Thinking styles including; black and white thinking, catastrophising, fortune telling, overgeneralising and mental filtering. Haidt claims that all this further contributes to anxiety and depression. So where did these ideas come from, how did this illiberal attitude to free speech evolve and where is it going?

cotton wool kid

Haidt calls this punitive lack of tolerance “vindictive protectiveness”, he states that Baby Boomers and Generation Xers had more of a free range childhood, spending a greater time looking after themselves. This style of parenting became less popular in the 80’s and 90’s, as parents became more fearful. In turn, this gave rise to the ‘helicopter parent‘ or the ‘cotton wool mum’, who started to micromanage their kids during every waking moment. This was despite evidence proving that incidences of abduction, robbery, assault and homicide remained relatively stable throughout the English speaking world.

What has changed over this time is an increase in varying media outlets and the attention that is drawn to such cases. It is thought that this cultivates the feeling that there is more crime than is actually occurring. Contrary to this, unsupervised play which previous generations experienced while growing up declined from the early 90’s. This type of play allowed kids to explore the world, while making their own friends and at times enemies. They learnt how to get in and out of trouble, to test their limits and negotiate with other kids, all without being overlooked by their parents. These valuable times, that most of us just refer to as being a kid, provided a vital training ground for survival in the real world.

A study by University College London found that children who had more unsupervised time were more sociable and more active. It is believed that the decline in unsupervised play has been matched by a decrease in empathy and a rise in narcissism. This is considered hardly surprising in an environment where children have little chance to play socially. It is argued that schools cannot replace this time, as this environment is more authoritarian and non democratic, meaning that it is not conducive to learning skills such as co-operation. On top of this, these kids are also growing up in an age of increased political polarisation.

Think of what happened recently in the US election or Brexit. This isn’t helped by social media, which doesn’t often provide the conduit for robust debate. Interactions on this medium usually consist of allies providing an echo chamber or an enemy to yell at or a dissenter to discredit. Civil discourse on these platforms are a rare thing to behold. With all this in mind it isn’t surprising that when young adults arrive on campus they seem to require more protection, while being hostile to people with ideological and philosophical differences.

Relatively recently phrases such as, “words are violence”, “invalidating my existence” or “my truth” particularly on college campuses have entered our vernacular. These comments are what is collectively called ‘concept creep‘ and are generally used to shut down debate. To expand on this, here are a couple of real examples of concept creep; a mother leaves her son in the car while she pops into a store and is charged with contributing to his delinquency, or a statue of a man in his underpants causes emotional trauma.

The question we should be asking is, how the hell did we get here and who is reinforcing these concepts? Professor of psychology Nick Haslam argues that terms like abuse, bullying, trauma, mental disorders and addiction have all expanded their meanings (horizontal creep). Additionally the threshold of behaviour qualifying for one of these terms has been steadily lowered (vertical creep).

It is declared that these changes reflect an increased sensitivity to harm. Lisa Feldman Barrett a psychologist from Northeastern University has endeavoured to defend the words=violence equation. Her hypothesis proposes, if words can cause stress (which they can), and if prolonged stress can cause physical harm (and it can), then it seems that certain types of speech can be a form of violence”. This suggests, ‘A’ causes ‘B’, ‘B’ causes ‘C’, and therefore ‘A’ causes ‘C’. With this in mind, insert the phrase “gossiping about a rival” and try again, yes it can cause stress, but that doesn’t turn it into violence.

George-Orwell-Quotes-3

An English Professor at New York University, Ulrich Baer, justifies shutting down speech of speakers some students might not like, by saying, “When those views invalidate the humanity of some people, they restrict speech as a public good”. One could argue that rejecting an idea that has been proposed would be more than sufficient to maintain an individual’s humanity. So how are words violence?

Violence is a physical act, if someone punches me in the face, I can feel a physical force. That’s not the same as being berated by a combination of words, no matter how forceful. It is suggested that much of this has roots in 1960’s postmodernist philosophy that was studied extensively in the 80’s and 90’s. In our case we can refer to Lyotard’s idea of mini-narratives over meta-narratives. Which in short, argues that personal experiences are more important than empirical evidence.

Using a similar phrase from a previous paragraph, which we hear in debates, “who is anyone to deny my truth and what I feel”. Alarm bells should be ringing at “my truth”, it’s either truth or opinion, there is no such thing as “my truth”, that is as erroneous as “alternative facts”. But according to some academics and their students, there appears no such thing as one truth. It is posited that this is no more than a construct of the Euro-west and is a myth.

Postmodernist ideas are in stark contrast to science and the Enlightenment, that they despise and of which I am rather fond of. The Enlightenment period stressed the value of; reason, logic, criticism and freedom of thought, as opposed to dogma, blind faith and superstition. Worryingly it seems, particularly in academia to be regressing away from logic, reason and science.

Given all this, it’s not surprising that students, with minimal life experience, who have been overprotected at home, exposed to questionable ideas such as postmodernism, while engaging in self-indulgent, narcissistic identity politics would be so afraid of free speech and open debate. It would be foolish, however, to think an attack on free speech exists purely within academic institutions. We have seen more and more laws in varying countries clamping down on so called ‘hate speech’. Hate speech is a difficult one to pin down, mainly because, who sets the parameters of what ‘hate speech’ actually is? In the US freedom of expression is protected by the 1st Amendment and this largely includes hate speech.

There are times when hate speech falls into a current 1st Amendment exception, such as; a particular racist may speak to incite imminent violence on a particular group or may be interpreted as immediate threat to do harm. But generally it works quite well, however, some countries have specific hate speech laws. Let’s take the UK as an example. So what is defined as a hate crime? Well, according to the Crown Prosecution Service a hate crime can be; “verbal abuse, intimidation, harassment, threats, assault and bullying, as well as damage to property”.

They go on to say, “any offense that is perceived by the victim, or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice, based on a person of disability or perceived disability; race or perceived race; religion or perceived religion; or sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation; or a person who is transgender or is perceived to be transgender”. There seems to be a lot of perceptions here and a distinct lack of facts, which indicates a hate crime could be pretty much anything, both real or imagined.

One problem with this is, the CPS draws parallels between online abuse and actions taking place in person. This is another example of ‘concept creep’ and fails to acknowledge the differences between an angry tweet and someone shouting at you in the street, or physical abuse. Alison Saunders (Director of Public Prosecutions, CPS) talks about countering extreme views. The problem is, who decides what constitutes as an extreme view. Obviously according to the CPS it appears it’s the ‘receiver’ of said abuse. Furthermore, the offense only has to be perceived by the victim, or somebody else for that matter, with no actual evidence required.

This suggests a pretty low threshold for pinning the tag of hate crime onto someone because they have conflicting views. Most sane minded people would agree that hatred of people because of skin colour or genitalia is abhorrent. But policing hatred often ends up in censorship and the problem doesn’t actually go away. In contrast, there are hundreds of examples of civilians defending victims of abuse in public and shaming racists. Tackling hatred in the public domain is a better way of dealing with despicable ideas, but this can only occur in a society where free and open debate is allowed.

Sadly, I only foresee the strangulation of free speech increasing. This trend chiefly started in academia and has now seeped into the workplace and everyday interactions. Not only this, but in several colleges the illiberal left have been involved in episodes of violence. One such incident took place at Middlebury College Vermont 2017, when students were intent on closing down a lecture given by conservative speaker Charles Murray.

When Murray approached the podium he was shouted down by protesters reciting a pre-prepared script who then proceeded to turn their backs. They chanted until the event was moved to a private venue, but this too was disrupted. The physical incident that irrupted caused the injury of a liberal speaker who was there in opposition to Charles Murray, but was bravely shielding him from the attack.

What’s important to recognise is, in a piece published in the New York Times, the authors tested Charles Murray’s alleged offensive content by sending the material anonymously to 70 university professors to rate it. The scale was from 1 to 9, 1 being liberal, 9 conservative, while 5 denoting middle of the road. From the 57 academics who replied, the mean score was 5.05, indicating the material from Murray was ‘middle of the road’. Two other similar studies were performed, neither suggesting that what Charles Murray was proposing was either offensive or hugely conservative. The article also concluded that some of these protesters had never even read any of his work.

In the same year people were punched and beaten by masked protesters from the illiberal left during a Milo Yiannopoulos speech at UC Berkley. Astoundingly these actions were supported in certain quarters. An Op Ed written after the event by one of the students stated “asking people to maintain peaceful dialogue, with those who legitimately do not think their lives matter is a violent act”.

This implies that these student felt justified punching people and pepper spraying them, even if all the speakers did was voice some words (albeit challenging words). This is where the “words are violence” phrase becomes dangerous, because it is utilised to justify countering words with a violent action and then passing it off as self-defence. Unsurprisingly this violence from the illiberal left, led to counter violence and this cycle will surely continue. Below is some video footage from the Middlebury debacle.

The group who seem the keenest on stifling free speech are what is termed iGen (short for internet generation). These are students born after 1994 according to social psychologist Jean Twenge. Twenge found that iGen had higher rates of anxiety, depression, loneliness and suicide. Although Twenge offers that much of this is due to smart phones, social media and changing social interactions.

Jonathan Haidt contends that some of this may well be a lack of resilience, suggesting that students are now arriving at college with a distinct inability to cope with; offensive ideas, insensitive professors, and maybe rude racist and sexist peers. Previous generations often learned to deal with such challenges, without having to reconstruct society to accommodate their world view. These obstacles prepared individuals for success and the rigors of life outside the gates of academia.

A poll in the US of 3000 students confirmed that they generally agreed with the idea of free speech and allowing a variety of viewpoints. This is, until these other ideas start to infringe on their values, then they are more likely to support policies to limit speech. Putting it bluntly, they don’t support free speech at all. Also in the same poll 37% thought it was OK to shout down opposing speakers, while 10% stated it was acceptable to use violence to prevent someone from speaking. In an effort to understand which people are against free speech, a further poll was published by the New York Times. When asked what they thought was more important ‘free speech’ or ‘inclusion and diversity’, the results were 53% to 46% in favour of ‘inclusion and diversity’.

Additionally men and women were asked who was in favour of ‘freedom of speech,’ 61% of men said yes compared to just 36% of women. Given that 60% of the student population are now women, all this doesn’t bode well for the fate of free speech on campus. It must be stressed that ‘freedom of speech’ is the ultimate radical idea. It is the notion that individuals should try to settle their differences through debate and discussion, using evidence and persuasion rather than coercive power. At this current moment free speech is in mortal danger, just when it is needed more than ever.