The Oscars, Black Lives Matter and the Racism Industry

From the late-70s till the early-90s, there must have been few major anti-racism protests or festivals in London that I didn’t attend. One of the last, and certainly the craziest, was a 1993 march against a BNP bookshop which had opened in Welling, and was suspected to be a closet party HQ. This was my only experience of being baton-charged by mounted police, and it was an experience I’d rather not repeat.

The anti-racism movement of that generation was a successor to the great liberation movements of the postwar era: anti-colonialism and civil rights. Just as those movements liberated colonies and established equal rights, so our movement helped make organised British racism and anti-Semitism unacceptable, and led to the UK being one of the world’s least racially segregated nations: today, over 6% of British infants are racially mixed. The extent of our victory is demonstrated by the fact that the anti-Muslim English Defence League pushed forward its black and Asian members as spokespeople; even the far-right has had to become politically correct in tune with the new Britain.

Predictably, as organised racism collapsed, the political and academic establishment belatedly noticed the problem, it became fashionable to be ‘anti-racist’, and huge resources were dedicated to fighting yesterday’s battles. Much of this happened in the wake of the Stephen Lawrence murder in 1993, following which Central government, councils and other funding sources increasingly found budgets for ‘diversity’.

This meant that there was money in being ‘racially oppressed’, but none in being happily integrated. The Racism Industry was born, and the spoils went to those who were most insistent that they were racially disadvantaged. Diversity Managers appeared in organisations across the public, and then the private sector. No Diversity Manager would ever declare the ‘glass ceiling’ shattered – that would put them out of work. It was in their interests to find sexism and racism wherever they looked.

Likewise, politicians, especially Labour ones, appointed race advisers; but they invariably selected individuals who claimed to see racism everywhere. Black people who pointed out that racism was steeply declining (and there were many) – or that racism was simply not the biggest problem faced by black people – would make for unsuitable race advisers. So politicians surrounded themselves with a handful of angry black voices, and made policy decisions based on the views of an unrepresentative minority.

And of course, since there was money to be made in being an angry black person, many popped up to compete for the new jobs. Ironically, therefore, the more oppressed a person claimed to be, the more money they could earn from the new politics. Britain’s angriest black man, Lee Jasper, made a good living as an adviser of doom and gloom to the Livingstone mayoralty.

In all this, as so many other things, Brits were merely copying a business model invented in America. The magnificent civil rights movement, having won so much by the early 70s, was swiftly taken over by self-publicists. From Al Sharpton to Black Lives Matter, the people claiming to be most oppressed were those who understood the power of the racism dollar (this shift from genuine activism to business was beautifully captured in the modern classic book The Bonfire of the Vanities).

All of this victimhood has repelled black people from the left, just as it has repelled white working class people who are increasingly told they are ‘privileged’. The left has become wealthier and whiter while ironically claiming to see racism everywhere. In fact, it can often be noted that the more politically correct people are, the less likely they are to have non-white friends to gently point out that the angry shouting is not representative of most black people. Those white people with least personal contact with non-whites are those most likely to believe and propagate the stories emanating from racism industry pundits. A parade of well-meaning but misinformed white commentators, eager to correct non-existent inequalities, jump on race industry campaigns.

Ironically, it was my black friends who saved me from jumping on board with the racism industry. The message that black children are held back by ‘the system’ compared to their white peers is a destructive and frustrating one for black parents trying to get their kids to study hard. Most black people, while being fully aware of the reality of racism, have little time for the activists who peddle the myth that black people are being materially held back by it. As I have blogged, the success of African immigrants (who actually outperform whites by many measures) gives the lie to the idea that skin colour is a cause of failure. When it comes to economic success, the black British community doesn’t have a collective problem, though sections of it (primarily working class communities originating in the Caribbean) clearly do.

The recent outrage over the lack of black nominees at the Oscars is a typical racism industry product. The angriest black voices are those that get most often repeated across the media – social and mass. These voices are amplified by white ‘liberal’ commentators. And black people who dare challenge the idea that they are oppressed are dismissed as ‘self-hating’, ‘Uncle Toms’, and the standard parade of other insults created by the racism industry to silence black people who choose not to be victims.

So once the shouting and boycotts were over (and racism industry had counted its winnings), it turned out that black people are actually not under-represented in the Oscars at all.

Graph: The Economist
Graph: The Economist

So nominations and awards for black people are pretty much in line with the black American population overall. In fact, in terms of awards won, black people are slightly over-represented. Meanwhile Latinos and Asians are seriously under-represented; but there was no civil rights movement for Asians, so there is no Asian racism industry. There are no Asian boycotts of the Oscars because there are no funding mechanisms to reward Asian people who might call for a boycott.

Are the Oscars therefore racist against Asians and Latinos? No. The fact is that different demographics experience success in different industries, for various historical, social and economic reasons. Asians are hugely over-represented in technology. Does this mean the tech industry really, really loves Asians? And nobody would take seriously a white boycott of the hip-hop industry, where white performers are massively under-represented.

Again and again, statistics like these undermine the claims of ‘systemic racism’ and ‘oppression’ that have, strangely, become increasingly common as the worst signs of true racism have evaporated. This is why the racism industry relies on anecdote rather than statistics: always an indicator of something to hide.

Those people who genuinely anti-racist must realise that the racism industry is hugely racist itself, and is exacerbating racial tensions. This is quite deliberate. What better way to prop up such an industry than create more racism? Labelling whites ‘privileged’, regardless of their economic status, is deeply and deliberately provocative, and designed to push working class white people into the arms of the far-right. Fascist street protests are almost guaranteed to push frightened politicians into increasing racism industry funding.

The greatest losses from left-wing thought in the past decades have been the core concepts of class-consciousness and solidarity. Martin Luther King, the greatest figure of the civil rights movement, did not think poor whites were ‘privileged’; he understood that the problems of poor blacks were largely shared with poor whites, and as his thinking evolved, he moved towards opposing poverty for all races, and away from a focus on black community issues. When he was shot dead in 1968, he was involved in discussions for the creation of a “Poor People’s Campaign“. (Notably, Malcolm X also evolved his thought in the same direction, and he was shot dead in 1965 by members of the early racism industry).

To unite Americans across the racial divide would truly have shaken America’s power structures. But the great thinkers of the 1960s gave way to self-serving bigots, determined to do the exact opposite: to reinforce racial barriers and destroy attempts at class solidarity.

Black Lives Matter is an illustration of how the racism industry, and the new left, are stoking up racial division rather than reducing it. In the past I would regularly post news of police shootings on social media, until I began to realise that news of white deaths was being ignored, and black deaths amplified, in order to create the (false) idea that most shootings were racial in intent. While we can recite the names of black police victims – Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Sandra Bland – no white victims have been popularised. There appears to be almost a fear of sharing news of white deaths, and so they are not discussed. Yet 578 white people (more than half the total) were killed by US police last year. Can you name any of them?

If he were alive today, Martin Luther King would have sought to unite grieving families under a single banner, regardless of their race. Instead, the very name of the campaign is designed to exclude grieving white, Latino and Asian widows and children from the pity-fest.

Self-serving morons tend to copy self-serving morons; so it is that a new petition on change.org is labelling the Brit Awards racist because only 5 out of 53 nominations (9.4%) have gone to black people. It is unclear whether the petitioner uses ‘black’ to mean ‘non-white’ in general. Only about 4% of the UK population is black and the entire non-white population is 11% – the Brit Awards are hardly unrepresentative of the British population.

Yes, the Brits celebrate shitty mainstream music, and (in my humble opinion), black and urban artists are far more creative at the cutting edge of music. I personally avoid dance and live music that isn’t black-dominated. But there isn’t racism here, just a dull music mainstream that is slow to catch up with underground music trends.

The racism industry will die when the new left accepts the dishonest nature of the ‘systemic racism’ narrative. Until then, the left will continue to be a force of racial division, rather than – as it once was – of unity.

Why Am I Blocked On Facebook?

[NOTE: I have a major announcement to come… please join my mailing list to stay in touch]

As I write this, I’m blocked on Facebook, and have been since last Thursday. My personal account, and three pages I run (including MoronWatch) are all blocked to me; so is Facebook messenger. For my thoughtcrime (explained below), I am not allowed to even have private conversations with my friends. If I try to Like a family photo, I’m told my action ‘might be abusive’. Welcome to 1984.

MoronWatch began on Twitter, a platform I have always enjoyed for its free-ranging discussions and ‘promiscuous’ social networking: unlike the rigidity of Facebook, Twitter is a far more interesting and diverse platform, which quickly puts like-minded strangers into contact with each other. Although I began by following people I knew, I quickly found that – unsurprisingly – people I didn’t know were often more interesting.

Most people self-censor heavily on Facebook. We remember that people we know in real life – our boss or our mum, for example – can see our updates, so we dumb ourselves down. On Twitter, we craft new social networks that suit us; on Facebook, our offline social networks come online.

Free speech is liberating and cleansing, but it frightens and infuriates control freaks; for this reason, it is Twitter, and not Facebook, that has faced the greatest calls for censorship. There is a rising War on Twitter, as I outlined in a blog post two years ago. In response to this (and more importantly to Twitter’s poor financial performance), Twitter is reining in free speech, belatedly trying to become as bland – and corporate-friendly – as Facebook.

To paraphrase a great tweet I saw long ago: ‘Twitter makes me love strangers; Facebook makes me hate people I already know’. However, Facebook is by far the more successful platform, and not to use it would be foolish. After ignoring it for a while. MoronWatch started a page there, and that has been growing ever since.

On Thursday, I posted a flyer on my page, which advertised a White Pride rally, planned for Swansea in March. The flyer had originally been shared for discussion by a black friend, and I thought it would be perfect MoronWatch material. Indeed, it generated a long discussion thread, and was shared further. The flyer was pretty vile: although it purported to be promoting a day in which white culture could be celebrated, in practise it attacked immigrants and in particular took aim at ‘Jews and sh*tskins’ (a word I haven’t heard for a while).

I should point out here, for those that aren’t too familiar with this blog, that I’m a Jew, and my lovely partner, and mother of my children, is a sh*tsk… sorry, I mean black person. I’m also an anti-fascist activist, and have been since my teens a few decades ago.

One problem with censorship is that it is necessary dumb. Once the ludicrous concept of ‘hate speech’ had been ruled unacceptable, censors can’t tell the difference between genuinely hateful speech, parody, and discussion of hateful speech. Another problem with censorship is that it simply doesn’t work. Silencing discussion of a problem doesn’t end that problem, it just pushes it into corners where nice, middle-class people can ignore it (or at least, ignore it until it’s too late to do anything about it).

But the biggest problem with censorship is that it comes from a fascistic attitude that societal problems are best dealt with by empowering the state and corporations to silence things we don’t like. Instead of engaging in discussion about racism and other forms of bigotry, we beg the state and corporations to make it all go away, and in doing so, we surrender our ability to deal with problems in our communities. In the 1980s, racism was dealt with by bridging the divides between angry communities. Now instead, we build a virtual wall between the communities, and pretend everything is fine.

Facebook is just one platform, but it is a huge and powerful platform. Increasingly, its methods are leaking into public discourse. Last year, MPs recommended that ‘trolls’ should be banned from using the Internet. Presumably, this would include people like me, who try to counter far-right extremism online. We are stepping over the threshold from democracy into dictatorship, and doing so under the guise of ‘defending liberal values’. But the most fundamental of liberal values is free speech. No-ifs, no-buts, warts-n-all.

How can we deal with fascism if we can’t talk about it?

Facebook provides no due process. My right to free expression has been curtailed for five days, and there is apparently no right to appeal or any form of fair trial. My only recourse was to complain, which I did – below is the message I sent to Big Brother – sorry, I mean Facebook’s support team.

I am a Jewish anti-racism campaigner with a black partner and mixed-race children. I shared a white supremacist flyer on my page (which promoted a planned march in Swansea) in order to alert people to the nature of this group, allow discussion, and help plan a fightback. For this, I was blocked for propagating ‘hate speech’.

Your action demonstrates the sheer fuck-witted stupidity of all censorship regimes, including your own. Your moderators cannot possibly understand the context and nuance of every post, and clearly can’t tell the difference between ‘racism’ and ‘discussion of racism’. In suppressing discussion of such vital issues at a time when fascism is rising in Europe, YOU are contributing to the rise of fascism. YOU feed into conspiracy theories on the far-right that aids its recruitment and YOU make life for minorities (like my family) more difficult and potentially more dangerous.

Clap for yourselves

PS: I reluctantly self-censored the word sh*tskins in this post. I don’t believe in such censorship. It does nothing to counter racism; it merely exists to protect the easily-offended – who appear mostly, in my experience, to be uptight white middle-class people.

Remove The Borders In Your Mind

Europe is unique. Nowhere else on Earth has so many markedly different cultures crammed into such a small space. Europe’s jagged coastlines, numerous, high mountain ranges and broad rivers have fostered huge diversity. In recent centuries, this has been largely to the continent’s benefit. Fierce competition between European tribes and nations spurred technological development at breakneck pace, which led to the development of modern science, the industrial revolution and (for a while) to the global dominance of European empires.

This, of course, comes with a big downside. Europe is prone to spasms of nationalistic feeling, which tend not to end well. The last big eruption, ending in 1945, left Europeans, yet again, determined to put an end to all this nonsense. The postwar European project, culminating in the creation of the EU, was a huge, liberal exercise in knitting together countries with long histories of enmity. It is an attempt to gradually eradicate nationalism from the continent and provide us with a more peaceful future.

But 1945 was a long time ago. Those who were adults in that year are all over 90 now. Generation by generation, Europeans have become increasingly seduced (yet again) by the idea that internationalism is not necessarily such a good thing; that nationalism, done right, can be a force for good. So, once again, European nationalism is taken from the back of the wardrobe, dusted off, and accessorised to make it look like a brand new outfit.

So in some ways, we’re in a situation similar to the 1930s. But in the 30s, there was a clear ideological choice to make between left and right. As right-wing nationalism blossomed across Europe, so the left-wing opposition became an international struggle against fascism. WWII, though a national struggle, was also an international one, which united internationalist socialists with national armies. My left-wing Jewish grandfather saw his time in the RAF as a fight against fascism, not a battle for British supremacy.

Today, the divide between right and left is increasingly a cultural, rather than political one. The left, a progressive force in the 1930s, is today a defender of the status quo. From left to right, the argument has been reduced to: Which form of social democracy works best? What proportion of GDP should be devoted to state spending? How much involvement should private companies have in state-provided services? And with no clear ideological divide, nationalism has infected the entire political spectrum. Sadly and dangerously, European politics is becoming a decision about which kind of nationalism one prefers.

The old, ugly nationalism is becoming rampant. In predictable places – Hungary, Denmark and France (for example) – anti-foreigner sentiment is once again fashionable. But this is more than matched by left-wing nationalism, which in many ways is more worrying. From painful experience, Europe understands the dangers of the old, xenophobic nationalism of the right, but that not of the left. Many on the left will respond that left-wing nationalism isn’t nasty like the right-wing variety. But intent is irrelevant. What matters is outcome. If the EU unravels, along with free movement of people, goods and services, who cares whether it’s done under the pretext of progressivism or xenophobia?

So: Scotland has become a nationalist one-party state, under the auspices of fighting for “fairness” and “anti-austerity”. The SNP, once a right-of-centre force, has reinvented itself as a left-wing one. It dangles a social democratic dream in order to achieve a separatist, regressive aim. It proposes contradictory policies and ideas to maximise its populist appeal: thus, it doesn’t want laws made in London, but is fine with those from Brussels; thus it rejects English rule, but embraces the Royal Family; thus, it invokes a false history of colonial oppression under the English, whereas in reality Scots enthusiastically participated in the British Empire. Seeing a sea of national flags waved in Scotland on election night in May conjured up Europe’s darkest past, not its progressive future.

In reality, the SNP’s independence calculations were cynical in the extreme: they realised that, with oil above $100 per barrel, Scotland would be better off keeping its oil revenues to itself, rather than redistribute. This is the opposite of progressivism: successful unions (whether the UK, EU or US) redistribute from wealthy regions to poor ones. Scottish nationalists want to keep it all for themselves. Since the referendum, oil prices have crashed. If it had gained independence, Scotland would be forced to implement worse austerity than England, or face bankruptcy. SNP voters should be outraged that they nearly committed such a gross error under Alex Salmond’s guidance, but they don’t appear to have noticed. Nationalistic fervour outweighs economic and political common sense.

Similarly, Catalonia is one of Spain’s wealthiest regions, and resents sending its hard-earned money to Madrid. Catalans are set for a confrontation with the national government as nationalist populism has surged. In reality, Catalan nationalists resent redistribution of their money to poor regions like Andalucia. This isn’t “progressive nationalism”, it’s good, old-fashioned dislike of poor, “lazy” southerners packaged as a heroic independence struggle.

Anti-EU sentiment has surged on the British left, most notably in this year’s Corbyn Labour victory. So, bizarrely, Labour’s leader agrees with UKIP’s that the EU is a bad thing, while the Tory leader is on the same side as the Lib Dem and Green leaders (underscoring the point that left and right are increasingly blurring into one). Labour still officially maintains a pro-EU stance, but with its most senior figures now being eurosceptics, how effectively will it fight for a pro-EU vote in the coming referendum? While Corbyn’s win won’t take Labour close to power, it has certainly edged us closer to Brexit.

The Corbyn position on the EU (like many of his policies) is deeply childlike: he says the EU is “like a free market“. Which, of course, in part, it is. What he doesn’t explain is why this is a bad thing, or what his alternative might be; the very word “market” is supposed to conjure up horror, without the need for further explanation. I remember this position from my own days on the far-left: we took the meaningless position that we were internationalists, but couldn’t support the EU because it was capitalist internationalism, not the good socialist variety. Owen Jones, the bellwether of the moron-left, has predictably taken an anti-EU position based on the left’s complete misunderstanding of what has been happening in Greece.

The Corbynites say they support the free movement of people, but not free markets. So do they think Polish plumbers should come to the UK but be prevented from selling their labour? Should Spanish companies be able to build British factories, but not sell their products to Germany? The left rails against unskilled jobs moving to China, while ignoring the huge rise in Chinese living standards these jobs have created. This is xenophobia disguised as support for British workers: we can ignore poverty in China or India, or blame it on ‘neoliberalism’. In this attitude, the far-left is virtually indistinguishable from the far-right.

Borders are obstacles to progress; there is no progressive nationalism, in Scotland or anywhere else. In the face of surging inward-looking nationalist sentiment, we need to re-imagine how borders can be dissolved, bit by bit, and this requires three unbreakable principles:

  1. Free movement of ideas: in other words, an implacable opposition to state censorship. China carefully blocks dangerous foreign ideas using its Great Firewall, under heavy criticism from the West; and yet there are powerful forces lobbying for site blocking here in the UK, under the auspices of “counter-terrorism” or “protecting children from porn”. Both left and right are guilty of failing to defend free expression.
  2. Free movement of goods and services: here, the left is often guilty of the deepest conservatism. Global poverty is shrinking faster than at any time in history. The rest of the world is catching up with the West; rather than celebrate this, the nationalist left focuses on economic stagnation in the wealthiest countries, and ignores progress everywhere else. To oppose global free trade is to attempt to disconnect the world’s poorest from the global economy.
  3. Free movement of people: this is the toughest objective of all, and will not be seen in our lifetimes: but it’s an objective towards which we can continually move. We cannot entirely lift border controls while there are such disparities of wealth and poverty in the world. Thanks to the EU’s removal of trade barriers, wealth was spread across the continent. As a result, Europe was able to introduce free movement – something that would have seemed like a utopian dream a few decades ago. The same thing can, and will, happen globally, in less time than we might today imagine.

There is no economic reason why borders cannot continue to be dissolved. step-by-step, worldwide: the reasons are political: the old left and right parties are collapsing into nationalism and xenophobia. The one European hero of open borders, Angela Merkel, is coming under attack domestically for her pro-immigration stance. As the world becomes richer and more interlinked, the need for borders diminishes. The only obstacle to creating a borderless planet is the one in our minds.

Jeremy’s Magical 1970s Nostalgia Tour

Having a drink with a left-wing friend of similar age recently, he pointed out what is so exciting about the current impetus behind Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership campaign: the left just simply isn’t used to winning. Nobody under their mid-50s can remember a time when the strength of the labour and trade union movement could be rallied to bring down governments and force employers to their knees.

For those of us a few years younger, the left-wing experience is one of endless defeat. I was part of the generation of teenagers mobilised into political activity by Thatcher’s unexpected victory in May 1979. Our first experience of politics was a shock swing to the right, and from then on our only political experience has been to see left-wing ideas and movements in continual retreat.

I joined the Troskyist organisation, the Militant Tendency, which as an entrist movement, deliberately embedded itself inside the Labour Party, and rapidly took over the youth section, the Labour Party Young Socialists (LPYS). We expected the revolution to come any day now, and confidently awaited the backlash against Thatcher’s brutal economic policies. So we reeled in shock when Thatcher won again in 1983. However, our leaders were confident: the far-left has always quietly relished poverty (while pretending to hate it), because they believe it will mobilise the workers to join the revolution. Under Thatcher, mass unemployment grew and grew, and so (we expected) would the pressure for revolutionary change, as capitalism unravelled.

1983 also saw the election of the Labour MP we in Militant considered closest to our position: Jeremy Corbyn. Comrades confidently told me that he expressed sympathy with our policies: though that was quite likely exaggerated: Corbyn took care to distance himself from the far left, for obvious reasons. Corbyn had been active in Labour and trade union activism during the glory days, and like us, waited impatiently for their return.

Our belief in the proletarian revolution took its most severe knock two years later, when the mighty miners were defeated in their year-long strike, and returned to work. That was the point when many of us began to drift from the movement. We weren’t just losing elections: history was clearly not moving in our direction. In 1986 came the battle of media unions against Rupert Murdoch, as he built a brand new plant employing new, computerised print technology, and broke the might of the print unions, which had resisted technological change for so long. By now, I was working and supporting a family, and politics seemed increasingly irrelevant. Not only was Thatcher winning the battles, but the public was increasingly supportive of her brave, new world.

Although my views hadn’t changed much, I had become alienated by the dogmatism and authoritarianism of the hard-left. One of the breaking points for me was when a comrade reported me for smoking a spliff at a party, and I was threatened with expulsion. “Normal” young people who liked sex, drugs and partying were not at home among the hard-faced socialist puritans, who insisted that such behaviour was detrimental to the revolution; and we drifted away. Those who remained active were increasingly unrepresentative of the youth: humourless, dogmatic, authoritarian; so convinced by their own beliefs that they were prepared to trash democracy when it gave the wrong answers.

There were two final, crushing defeats for those who believed in state ownership and control of the economy: first, the various experiments in socialism were exposed as useless. The Soviet Union’s economic model didn’t work. Communist Russia, it turned out, was largely propped up by exporting expensive oil to capitalist countries. The USSR unravelled, not (as the idiot US right likes to believe) because of Reagan’s bloodthirsty wars, but because it went bankrupt when the oil price crashed. China had already begun switching to a market economy in 1979. Cuba, apparently an economic island miracle, also collapsed when Soviet welfare vanished. It was later rescued by Chavez’s Venezuela, but that country is now the world’s worst performing economy, thanks again to an oil price crash. Socialist economics, it turned out, only worked for countries with lots of expensive oil. Even Fidel Castro, quietly in 2010, accepted that Cuba’s socialist model had failed, and slowly opened the door to markets.

So the 90s began dismally for those of us on the left. Now, we believed, global capitalism could sweep the world uncontested, bringing dictatorship and poverty everywhere it went. “Globalisation” became a scary new buzzword for the left, as did “neoliberalism”. The latter didn’t really catch on, but has now been successfully resuscitated as a general-purpose bogeyman by the new left.

And here was the second great defeat for our thinking: the world got richer. Much, much richer. Not only that, but the greatest falls in poverty happened in the poorest parts of the world. None of us, in 1990, would have predicted the meteoric rise of the Chinese, Indian and Latin American economies; less still the incredible, ongoing economic progress in much of Africa. China’s current financial meltdown is worrying, as well as overdue and long expected; but it is a blip compared to the past 3-4 decades of global economic progress.

Here’s the one, hard fact that destroyed my faith in state ownership: between about 1990 and 2014, the prevalence of world hunger fell by 42 percent. This took place at a time of soaring global population. To admit we were wrong may be difficult; but to try to turn back the clock, and risk reversing progress on global hunger based on a refusal to change our world view would be an act of sheer evil. We were wrong. I was wrong. The “system” that we hated – whatever you want to call it – has filled empty bellies.

So, for most of us once on the hard left, our socialism evolved into social democracy. I still believe strongly in redistribution of wealth, and that poverty can and should be eliminated in a rich society, but we have learned that socialism can’t create wealth, but international markets coupled with social democracy can. We have also learned that experiments in socialism inevitably come with authoritarian attacks on free speech and democracy. The extremes of politics, left or right, are populated by bullies that believe any suppression of liberty is acceptable in pursuit of The Cause.

Jeremy Corbyn, protected by an MP’s salary from having to notice that the world was changing, clung in there, voted with his conscience, and was largely ignored by everyone. He is for sure a genuinely good and principled man; but a possible Prime Minister? No. There are good reasons why he has not been anywhere near an influential position since being elected to Parliament. But he appears to be set on one thing, and one thing only: the reconstruction of his 1970s left-wing dreams. To wipe out the past four decades of defeat and start again. A return to the long-discredited ideas of his youth. A look at his politics reveal him not as a progressive, but as somebody who has had his fingers in his ears and his eyes shut since about 1983.

One danger warning came when he talked about the possibility of reopening Welsh coal fields. At a time when environmental activists rail against fracking (which is far cleaner than coal mining), this is absurd. At a time when global warming is the greatest threat to humanity it is borderline insane. But for those who haven’t moved on, Thatcher’s defeat of the miners must be avenged. Screw climate change, we need coal mines, like the good old days, when we were young and chips still came wrapped in newspaper. Anybody with a hint of environmental understanding will know one thing when it comes to fossil fuels: we need to leave them in the ground. Sure, he pays lip service to solar power: in fact, he wants a panel on every roof (sadly, solar doesn’t work too effectively north of the Midlands, but doubtless this policy excites green-thinking technophobes). But without googling, I can guarantee that Corbyn is anti-nuclear. Nuclear power is the only known way to cut fossil fuel use drastically in the very short term; but nuclear was seen as bad by the left in the 70s (when climate change wasn’t around to complicate things), and so it must be bad now, too.

The environment isn’t the only area in which Corbyn and science part company. His voting record includes support for the junk medicine of homeopathy, as well as for “herbal remedies”. This would once have worried some on the left, but today’s left has also, in large part, parted company with science. So our new messiah believes in discredited Victorian “medicine”? Who cares?

But if his environmental and health ideas are exactly where they were four decades ago, his economics are idiotic. We had nationalised industries in the 70s, therefore we must have them today. Never mind that nationalised industries were inefficiently run, created crap (but expensive) products and services and cost the taxpayer a fortune. In the 80s, we protested loudly as government-owned organisations were sold off, one after the other. But the catastrophe we predicted never came. Privatisation became a swear-word for the left, but in practise, it improved many services beyond recognition. The idea that we would have to go to a government monopoly for electricity, gas or a phone line is just silly now. And yet, Jeremy’s magical 1970s nostalgia bandwagon requires it. And so, he plans to nationalise the energy industry: he refers, incorrectly, to the current energy market as a “cartel”. But a state monopoly is a big step worse than a mere cartel. And the projected cost of letting Jez take us back to his youth? A snip at £185bn.

Jeremy also wants a national investment bank, to be funded by printing endless new money (or “quantitative easing for people”, as he calls it). These plans have been shredded by the press – even the Guardian’s economics editor gently dismissed the idea. We know from long, hard experience what happens when endless money is printed to buy things for the masses: see Zimbabwe for more details. One needs to understand the hard left mindset to understand where this comes from: to them, state ownership isn’t a tool for improving things, but a religious mantra. To accept that state ownership just doesn’t work very well is to admit that the socialist experiment has failed. And the true, starry-eyed believers can never do that. Jeremy grew up surrounded by nationalised industries, and he wants to die with them, dammit!

To take economic insanity a step further, Corbyn proposes the popular – but discredited – tool of rent controls. While these sound nice, they are the ultimate lesson that economies don’t tend to do what you tell them. Rent controls have several problems: to begin with, they disincentivise investment in house building, which leads to rapidly worsened housing shortages. They also disincentivise landlords from investing in improvements, which means rent-controlled properties become run down and ghettoised. Rent controls discourage people from moving to smaller properties as their families leave home, which means that over time, old people end up living in places that are cheap but too big, while young people are squeezed out by the lack of property. Rent controls favour the incumbent over the newcomer, which makes them a very effective tool against young people and immigrants. Unwittingly, Corbyn’s policies would be as effective at keeping immigrants out of London as Farage’s. But hey, he’s nice, and Farage is nasty, so who cares if immigrants end up homeless and squeezed out of our city?

Oh, and did I mention he’s a semi-closeted Eurosceptic? The moron-left, having screamed at Farage, is happily rallying around somebody who believes in basically the same thing. I really don’t care whether the EU is unravelled by stupidity from the left or the right. It has brought unprecedented peace and prosperity to Europe. It is fundamentally a progressive project. While the left has been obsessing about the right-wing nationalism of UKIP and the BNP, nationalism has crept in and infected the left too, and this is potentially far more dangerous.

Jeremy Corbyn is doubtless a good, moral man. The same could probably be said about Chairman Mao, whose Great Leaps Forward starved tens of millions of Chinese people while trying to feed them. It says something that Corbyn’s support appears to concentrated among two groups: those of his own generation who remember the 70s as a time when their knees didn’t creak (sorry Mum!) and those too young to realise that everything he proposes has been tried before, and didn’t turn out well.

Will he wreck Labour’s prospects, as so many are saying? That’s by far the most likely outcome. He has no base of support within Parliament, and would be a disrespected and divisive leader. Electing Corbyn almost certainly means George Osborne or Boris Johnson will lead another Tory government from 2020 to 2025. But there is a small chance that his populist messages could attract a groundswell of support and drain votes from UKIP as well as the SNP and the Greens. And if you think another ten years of the Tories sound bad, wait till you see the rise of authoritarian nationalism in both left and right varieties. Like the 70s? No – more like the 30s.

Did The Government Just Ban Cheese Sandwiches?

Last week’s Queen’s Speech contained the standard Tory fare, and prompted the usual, largely justifiable anger. Yet the interesting stuff was tucked away at the bottom of the 21 point list. Undoubtedly, the outright weirdest point on the list was at number 20, the Psychoactive Substances Bill, which promised to outlaw all “legal highs”.

The tabloid press has done a good job of convincing people that legal highs are a threat to humanity, and the standard “hang ’em all!” comments can be found on social media. But in reality, legal highs are just drugs that haven’t been banned yet. Coffee, alcohol and tobacco are all legal highs: and two of those substances are responsible for around 99% of all known drug deaths, both legal and illegal.

Government after government, Labour after Tory after Labour, has banned legal highs for no reason whatsoever. In 2005, the last Labour government banned magic mushrooms. This, despite the fact that the drug has probably been used for thousands of years, causes no known harm, and probably has multiple medicinal uses. Labour also banned mephedrone for no particular reason other than media outcry: as I blogged here, it was later discovered that legal mephedrone availability had led to a steep decline in cocaine use. This has now probably reversed. Substance after substance, often more beneficial than harmful, has been banned. Among all the bans, other potentially important substances have been attacked, notably cannabis, LSD, ketamine and ecstasy. This kind of act is simply cultural vandalism, and is our reward for electing puritanical dullards to represent us.

Science has made a mockery of all these bans. For every banned substance, a dozen new ones reach the market. The legal process can’t keep up with the technology. So, some Baldrick-like Tory policy-maker came up with a cunning plan! Why not just ban ALL recreational drugs? That way, anything that reaches market is instantly illegal by virtue of being a drug. Somehow this piece of outstanding idiocy made it into the Queen’s Speech, and probably soon into law.

Why is this thinking so stupid? Because we are chemical beings, and infinite substances have a “psychoactive effect”, including our foods. Try fasting for a day then eating a piece of dry bread: your mood will be rapidly uplifted as the starch reaches your system and is metabolised. Starch, our main source of energy, is a drug – as is its faster-acting sister, sugar. And that’s just the beginning. Cheese contains opiates – substances related to morphine and heroin. Did the government just ban cheese sandwiches and cheeseburgers?

Worry not! The new law will, apparently, make exemptions for drugs already in daily use, including caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, and foods: these exemptions merely underline, rather than do away with, the ludicrous nature of the law. Now, if one puts one’s pills in a cheese sandwich, do they count as food?

And, of course, existing medicines will also be exempt. But if I use paracetamol as a hangover remedy, am I using it medicinally or recreationally? If I take Viagra for a sex party rather than to remedy impotence, is it now a legal high? Hilariously, the drug at the forefront of this ban – laughing gas – is also a food additive (it’s used to whip cream) so is still freely available on Amazon.

Here’s the thing: virtually everything we put into our bodies is a drug, and many drugs have recreational as well as other uses. This is why the entire anti-drug narrative has always been nonsensical: it simply attacks mankind’s chemical nature. We’re all drug users, every one of us.

This legislation does, at least, do away with one big lie: every drug that’s ever been banned to date has been labelled dangerous, whether it really is or not. The new law at least finally admits that our worthless drug laws are not based on harm, but on morality. They don’t measure a substance based on its ability to hurt us, but on its potential for being enjoyable. Finally, some honest politics!

One wonders why they didn’t go beyond drugs and ban everything fun. But then they would have ban their own creation of idiotic laws, because one suspects certain politicians get a masturbatory thrill from trying to micro-manage our private lives so carefully.

What Does Fascism Look Like?

Let me first apologise – my ‘three part’ series “Are Women Oppressed?” is taking its time: only part 1 has been written so far. I’m working on a book, which I hope to announce soon – this (and caring for a young child) has sapped my available blogging time. Tangentially, the book will cover the same subject area as this post: the renewed rise of fascism, and the need to reinvent the left as a progressive force once again.

The book will be announced soon, I hope. please join my mailing list to learn more. I will also be dropping my pseudonymity… who is MoronWatch? Watch this space…

Inevitably, a comment on the first post accused me of being “reactionary”. This makes my point. The new, conservative left uses the language of the old, progressive left but without the understanding that was once there. The “Are Women Oppressed?” series is to demonstrate this point: the old organs of the left – including the feminist movement – have become reactionary. Their language is similar, but their goals have reversed. The new claim of “female oppression” (which has only really surfaced in the past few years) is a fascistic one with the purpose of turning back the clock on women’s rights. All progressive movements will decay, if they’re allowed to survive long enough.

I hate to pull rank (OK, cancel that – I enjoy it), but I have impeccable left-wing credentials. I descend from a century of socialists and communists, and was very active on the left from the late-70s and through into the 90s. I had – still have – links into the old revolutionary movements, including the ANC’s radical generation. 35 years ago, the bright young things were tempted by the fragmented Trotskyist movement. Today, smart young people in politics appear to be clustering around libertarianism. The point for progressives then is to make the case for left-wing libertarianism, as I have tried to do.

Fascism is a deep, socially conservative, anti-sex, authoritarian and anti-science ideology. It is neither inherently right nor left. Yes, the left is correct that 1930s fascism, born in Italy and then in a more extreme form in Germany, was a right-wing movement. That doesn’t mean it will be this time around. The key thing to understand about fascism is that it comes from the grassroots, not from above. It is the mob, mobilised to attack progress. That’s why it is the most frightening of all political tendencies. To see how 21st century fascism might look, don’t get too distracted by the UKIP types. They are the dying embers of the old fascism, endlessly rehashing old xenophobic messages. It’s no accident that the typical UKIP voter is older than average. The creation of UKIP, in the longer run, will be beneficial to the centre-right. The Tories have shed their most poisonous tendencies and are thus able to move back towards the centre. This will benefit them in the mid-term.

Where are the young fascists? Those are the ones to watch.

A look at the No More Page 3 campaign gives a hint. hundreds of thousands of people have signed a petition against female nudity: the progressive feminists of the 1960s would be horrified. Although it operates under a veneer of feminism, those who have encountered the movement close-up have found it to be heavily religious in nature. This campaign has united Britain’s largest trade union with the girl guides… The old anti-rape organisations that emerged from the Women’s Lib era have given up chasing rapists, and put their names to a movement that seeks to claim women’s bodies are dangerous and must be covered up. They are blaming women for rape, though a little more subtly than the old “don’t dress like a slut” brigade. If the campaign had called itself British Mothers for Chastity, the left might have been suspicious. But fascism moves on; it is a worm that seeks to embed itself in the softest spots of society. If masquerading under the banner of “women’s rights” is to tactical advantage, that’s where it will be found.

When the British Christian morality movement fizzled out, its ideas found a new home. If you can’t beat feminism, you reinvent it as a wholesome, pure, anti-sex idea. NMP3 has cleverly used the left’s tribal hatred of the Sun and Murdoch… and what’s not to hate? But the Sun’s heyday is long gone. It is a declining force, and so makes for an easy target. To see the ranks of the organised left march in (goose-)step behind a closeted Christian morality campaign is worrying indeed.

The anti-racism movement has gone the same way. Just as with “female oppression”, the new shout of “white privilege” didn’t originate in the civil rights era, or in the anti-racism movement of the 70s and 80s. It’s a new slogan, and created with the intent of turning back the clock on equality, and trying to redefine people by their skin colour. Tellingly, this expression seems designed to taunt poor, white, working-class people into joining ranks with the far-right. It is good, old-fashioned race-baiting. A century after the peak of European power, and with China, India and even Africa rising, now fascists have decided to proclaim the end to racial equality with the creation of the bogus idea of white privilege. Attacking racial equality is the home turf of fascism. Only the slogans have changed.

In South Africa, fascism today means that immigrants are lynched by locals. This isn’t the first time – it happened on a larger scale in 2008, and back in the 1940s. If this was happening in Europe, the left might understand what was going on, but when black people kill other blacks, they don’t recognise fascism in action. Instead, ludicrously, this is blamed on “the legacy of Apartheid” or colonialism. And so the left has adopted the most colonial type of thinking. Black people, they seem to think, are like children who copy the bad habits of we white adults. It doesn’t seem to cross their minds that Africans are just as capable of xenophobic brutality, for their own ends, as we are. Just as elsewhere, the old South African heart of progressivism – the ANC – has imploded, become conservative and corrupt. The ANC’s new generation of leaders have enriched themselves. So has the left-wing “outsider” opponent to the ANC, Julius Malema: simultaneously a “revolutionary” and a multi-millionaire who spreads racial division. Once a revolution is done, the revolutionary organs will rot.

The very concepts of “left” and “right” have dissolved into meaninglessness. Progressives need to take a step back and re-examine their beliefs: equality, individual liberty, democracy and evidence-based thought form the bedrock of progressivism. The last great liberal era – of anti-colonialism, anti-racism, women’s rights, gay rights, civil rights – was a full half-century ago. Nostalgia for the good old days of revolution, Labour, trade unionism and equality is blinding the new left to the reality of the new fascism. It’s time to move on.

Should Progressives Vote for the Green Party?

British politics are getting more interesting. The two parties that have shared power for most of a century, along with the traditional third party, are all in decline. Scotland is undergoing a nationalistic surge, and has become – for the time being – a one-party state. Insurgent parties of right and left are in the ascendency. Much discussion goes on about the nature of UKIP, but the Greens have been under far less scrutiny. Urban liberals, disenchanted with Labour and the Liberal Democrats have drifted greenwards.

The Green Party has adopted the kinds of left-wing talking points that would appeal to disenchanted progressives in search of a new party, but its roots lie in environmentalism. Although the environmental movement has become associated with the left in recent decades, its instincts lie in true, small-c conservatism: a deeply-held belief that the old ways are the good ways. Because of this, the Greens have a dodgy relationship with science and high-technology solutions.

Continue reading Should Progressives Vote for the Green Party?