Monthly Archives: April 2012

Why liberals are terrified by Anders Breivik

Robert Henderson

The trial of the mass killer Anders Breivik  in Oslo is truly remarkable. It is not Breivik who is fearful , but the Norwegian political mainstream trembling  their way towards what they hope will be a  politically correct ending to the story with Breivik declared mad, viz:

“The prosecutors are still beginning the trial calling for Breivik to be transferred to compulsory mental health treatment, not prison, despite a new psychiatrists report last week ruling him sane enough to be criminally responsible.

But they reserve the right to make a submission to have this changed to a call for a prison sentence, based on information that comes up in the trial.” (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/norway/9206193/Norway-killer-Anders-Behring-Breivik-trial-day-one-as-it-happened.html)

Not, of course, that they would use the word mad because that would be so politically incorrect.

Liberals are desperately  struggling  to fit  the man into their fantasy world  where everyone is wondrously  multicultural and gleefully accepting of whatever change is forced upon them by mass immigration or the denial of human nature  and difference which is the essence of political correctness.  This entails  a blind refusal to engage with Breivik’s  declared motives and general criticism of modern  Norwegian society (and by extension the developed world generally) . In a nutshell, they  do not know how to rationally respond to a  man who challenges everything they believe in and can only deal with the existence of Breivik by turning him into a being who is either not worthy of consideration or a fabulous monster who can be viewed  in the same way that the audience for  a nineteenth century freak show would look at the unfortunate beings on display.

The refusal to engage with Breivik is epitomised by the mass public  singing during the trial  of a  song which Breivik claims is part of the indoctrination of Norwegians. The song , Children of the Rainbow,  contains lyrics such as these:

“A sky full of stars, blue sea as far as you can see

An earth where flowers grow, can you wish for more?

Together shall we live, every sister, brother

Young children of the rainbow, in a fertile land”

(http://www.policymic.com/articles/7556/norway-fights-against-mass-killer-breivik-by-singing-children-of-the-rainbow/related.

In propaganda terms, what is the difference between getting Norwegian children to sing that and the  Hitler Youth leading renditions of  the Horst Wessel song ?

Three  tactics have been used to negate the danger   Breivik represents: say he is insane,  seek to censor  his testimony  on the ground that he  will use the trial to promote his political ideas or  attempt to diminish him and his ideas by deriding him as a person.   This mentality is echoed by liberals everywhere.  Consequently, even outside of Norway  there   is precious little attempt to present  reasoned argument against what Breivik is claiming. Instead  liberals generally have  offered  feeble personal abuse of his person,  bald assertions that his arguments  are  wrong and delusional and claims that he must be mad.

Why are liberals so desperate not to address the issues Breivik has raised? Because they  know in their heart of hearts that their declared  political ends are no more than aspirations; that despite decades of politically correct propaganda  and the punishment of those who dissent from the ideology with the criminal law or non-criminal sanction’s such as  loss of employment,  humans  still feel what they have always felt, a strong sense of tribal identity and territoriality.    Liberals know this in the most certain way because they , like everyone else,  have the  feelings which lead human beings to naturally think in terms of membership of a group and to favour those like themselves. This commonly makes them arrange their lives so that they can avoid all the ethnic and racial diversity they extol as wonderfully enriching,  a trait most notably seen in “white flight” from areas of heavy immigrant settlement.

It might be thought that the secret fears expressed in their hypocrisy of avoiding the joy of diversity would make the sustaining of their  ideology impossible. Not a bit of it. Liberals can always tell themselves that they are still on a journey towards the promised politically correct land and find excuses for why they live (in England)  a very white and very English world . (The favourite  white liberal excuse for  denying themselves the  experience of the joy of diversity  is that it is a matter of  class  which causes them to  end up well away from the diversity. This , the white liberal claims, is   because they are richer than most and ethnic minorities are poorer than most and the two groups are accordingly sorted into different neighbourhoods by wealth not race or ethnicity.  It is an argument which does not seem to  provide an adequate garment to  cover the hypocrisy of the  likes of the leftist folk singer Billy Bragg  who removed himself from his Essex origins as the place became invaded by  ethnic minorities and went to live in Dorset, arguably the whitest and most English of counties).

When people support an ideology  which they know is false  or at the least not objectively demonstrable,  they invent excuses for reality not being in accord with the ideology. In the case of modern liberals they argue that human nature does not exist and behaviour is simply a consequence of social conditioning.  They then follow the logic  of that belief to say that all that is required to change (to liberals) harmful behaviour is to alter the conditioning. When their attempts to  re-condition humans in a politically correct way fail,  as they always do,  the liberal’s response is simple: the conditioning has not gone on long enough or has not be powerful enough to effect the required alterations in human behaviour.  This provides an excuse to continue with and enhance the re-conditioning by ever more draconian restrictions on how people may behave.  The liberal’s  chosen vehicle for the re-conditioning is the ideology we now know as political correctness or, to  the politically and academically inclined, cultural Marxism.

But although they can find excuses for why things are not as they are supposed to be according to the politically correct canon,  liberals, even the most committed believers,  also have a terrible fear that if people point out that the liberal emperor has no clothes before the politically correct promised land is reached, it could cause a revolution which might, at best, overthrow what they fervently want or, more venally ,  could result in  dire consequences from  themselves as the rage of those who have suffered  from the enforcement of political correctness and mass immigration is let off the leash.  At the very least all the highly paid jobs which rely on the dominance of political correctness would vanish.  This would remove the livelihoods of a very large proportion of those who sincerely believe in political correctness and even more  from those  who pay lip-service to political correctness  simply to obtain one of the politically correct sinecures.  There is a very large vested interest in maintaining political correctness once it has become the ideology of those with power.

If political correctness was simply a marginal political creed it would be harmless. Unfortunately, it has become  the elite ideology of most of  the Western world.  That makes it toxic and potentially dangerous enough to destroy the societies in which it has gained such a hold, most particularly through its permitting of mass immigration and the promotion of multiculturalism.  It is  catastrophically pernicious because it is totalitarian in its nature  for  it reaches into every aspect of life and insists that the only acceptable opinion in any situation is the politically correct one.

The ills of mass immigration and  the enforcement of multiculturalism require little comment beyond the obvious facts that mass immigration that the injection into a society of huge numbers of those  who either cannot  fully assimilate for reasons of racial difference or  will not assimilate from a determination to retain the imported ancestral culture ,must of itself be immediately divisive  and, eventually, if immigration it continues long enough, potentially result in the original population becoming a minority in their own land and their own culture, at the least,  badly mangled by that stark change in fortune.

The state  promotion of immigrant cultures and the suppression of  indigenous interests facilitates the process of the destruction of a homogeneous society, but   this may be an effect rather than a cause of the mass immigration.  Rather than being  the result of a conscious plot as the proponents of Cultural Marxism believe, it could be a response to the permitting of mass immigration through negligence or cowardice by political elites who then try to justify what has happened, control  native dissent and attempt to deal with the inevitable ills brought by mass immigration by developing a philosophy such as multiculturalism which pretends  that  there is no such thing as tribalism in the human DNA  and  everything is consequently  for the best in all possible multicultural worlds. It does not solve the problem but it provides the elite with  a narrative for what has happened  which diverts blame away from them at least temporarily.

The ill effects of political correctness as it relates to issues other than those arising from race and ethnicity are less immediately obvious.  The ever growing censorship of what may be said or done  is obvious enough, but  there are other more subtle effects. Because its tenets run directly contrary to the way human beings naturally behave as individuals and in the mass , political correctness  will never gain general acceptance, but what it can do is inhibit the normal  social relationships  of a society by making it dangerous for individuals to behave naturally.  By definition, this must undermine the efficient functioning of any community because people are being asked to behave in a manner which is alien to their natural function. .

The idea that discrimination – the Great Satan of political correctness – is self-evidently and always wrong is a literal nonsense.  Humans like every other organism have to make choices. Choice  requires discrimination.   We discriminate in finding people sexually attractive; in liking them as people;  in choosing someone because we believe they are competent  to do something and in a myriad  other ways. People have to discriminate between people many times a day.  All of these things are matters,  like race, over which individuals have no control because the judgement is made by others not themselves.   Except for a few very advanced cases of political correctness, liberals make no complaint about such discrimination. The choice of race, gay rights and sexual equality as the great forbidden subjects of discrimination  is arbitrary, no more than an ideological whim.

When the state interferes in the necessary and natural use of discrimination, which includes the exercise of preference for those who most resemble ourselves ,  they  distort society.  Breivik’s prime complaint apart from the effects of multiculturalism generally  and  Islam in particular is that Norwegian society has become feminised.  There is  force in his argument. Norway has probably gone further than any other country in forcing through the use of law  and incessant propaganda women into areas where they were considerably  under-represented, most notably in politics (http://www.norway.org/aboutnorway/society/Equal-opportunities/gender/politics/)and business (http://www.20-first.com/406-0-a-personal-account-of-the-quota-legislation-in-norway.html).

Breivik believes that the changes in male roles and the straitjacket of feminism on Norway has emasculated Norwegian men. He has a point.  The films of the  Stieg Larsson Millennium trilogy (set in Sweden not Norway, but Sweden is a country which is part of the general Scandinavian appetite for feminism)  show us a very strange world in which men are all viewed as potential rapists unless they have been  emasculated by feminist propaganda, women revenge themselves on men with violence  and women  play the  authority roles in the same way that blacks do in Hollywood films (http://livinginamadhouse.wordpress.com/2012/04/11/politically-incorrect-film-reviews-the-millenium-trilogy/).   Looking at the personnel  involved in the Breivik trial, it is eerily reminiscent of the world depicted in the Millennium films. The senior  judge and  one of the leading prosecutors  are women.  The men who appear ,  such as Breivik’s lawyer Geir Lippstad ,  commonly have a strangulated  emasculated manner .  Interviews with many  of the Norwegian men speaking about the  Breivik killings also  display this quality.

Why does this matter?  There are fundamental,  and   to everyone other than liberals,  obvious  reasons  why men are normally masculine and women are feminine in their behaviour.  That is the way Nature has crafted their  respective general personalities and behaviours.  Male dominance is the norm amongst mammals and it would be extraordinary if it was not present  in human beings.  Even if it was possible to remove the trait through conditioning, it would beg the question of whether it would be wise to do so. At best it would be a reckless gamble.    Human beings need to feel that their lives have purpose. Take away the natural roles of men and women and most will at some point in their lives feel that their natural purpose has been subverted.

As for women,  the fact that they bear children of itself writes the general  script of both their lives and personalities.  There will always be women who do not want children or who fail to display a strong maternal instinct if they do have them, but the great  majority will naturally behave in a feminine manner.

The natural instincts of Norwegian men  and women have not been abolished, but men  entering the Norwegian elite will tend to be those who are less strongly masculine and this trait will continue for as long as political correctness is the dominant ideology.  Any human group selects new members from those who most resemble the group.  In the case of Norway there will be the strongest selection pressure for emasculated men to be selected for  the elite because so many women, most of whom will be  strongly feminist because that is the mentality which pushes them forward in modern Norwegian political life, will be within the group.  Any man who is  both naturally masculine and espouses masculine behaviour,  will be excluded.    Below the Norwegian political elite will be the men who retain their masculinity, but even they will be hamstrung by the cloying feminist dominance.

Exactly what sort of society will emerge in such circumstances is problematic, but it is worth noting that the  predominance of feminism in Norway creates a situation potentially more immediately  destabilising than that of  immigrants because  women, unlike immigrants, already form more than 50% of the population.   There is a majority with a vested interest in perpetuating and expanding   feminist privileges at the expense of men.

In the longer term a situation of great irony could arise in Norway, with the demands of feminism clashing with those of  other groups created by the politically correct,  especially Muslims, to crush feminist policies.

The management of the trial

While they are refusing to engage with Breivik’s complaints against what the Norwegian political elite have done – permitted mass immigration and unceasingly promoted multiculturalism in particular and  political correctness generally with their consequent profound changes to Norwegian society – liberals everywhere are engaging in an orgy of self-congratulation about how civilised  it all is, a positive model of  a modern liberal society which shows how morally superior is the politically correct view of the world.    Ralph Waldo Emmerson’s “The louder he talked of his honour/the faster we counted the spoons”  comes to mind, as well it should,  for when  the claim  of liberal rectitude and beatific  self-restraint is looked at in detail it rapidly  collapses.

From the time of the massacre the Norwegian authorities have carefully controlled  the narrative.  Until the trial began , apart from brief court appearances  Breivik was kept under wraps, most of the time in solitary.  His only conduit  to the outside world has been his defence lawyer Geir Lippstad , a man who radiates permanent  liberal angst and  puts in the shade British barristers representing those deemed to have “racist”  or  “far right” views  who routinely  trot out something along these lines:  “My client is utterly despicable but you must put that out of your minds and judge him on the evidence”.   At his first press conference after  agreeing to represent Breivik,  Lippstad   blithely stated that his client was mad (a claim he later withdrew).  Before the trial began Lippstad was wringing his hands again about the defence he was being asked to present and made it quite clear that it was both repugnant to him and nonsense.

The trial is  being  very carefully stage-managed .  Parts  are being broadcast, but the court has ruled that neither Breivik’s testimony  – both his statement and cross examination – or that of his witnesses can be broadcast. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-17312079).   This allows the liberal dominated mainstream media and politics to give their version of what Breivik is and stands for.   They wish to show him at best as a contemptible  and negligible person who is not worth listening to and at worst a strange creature so far from the norm as to be beyond any consideration other than that of a monstrous curiosity.

As so often with modern liberals, personal abuse is freely offered against those who refuse to accept the politically correct view of the world, despite the fact that the politically correct   supposedly hold that a person’s appearance is utterly irrelevant and derogatory mention of it  a prime example of  the liberal’s Great Satan: discrimination.   Here is a good example from David Blair of the Daily Telegraph : “The voice gave little away, but the killer’s eyes, posture and physique spoke volumes. As the days wore on and he became unsettled by the prosecution’s questioning, white specks of dandruff flecked Breivik’s dark jacket, beads of sweat glistened on a face pockmarked by acne, and a motionless comb-over grew more slicked and gleaming.” (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/norway/9218529/Anders-Behring-Breivik-trial-Six-days-in-the-company-of-a-mass-murderer.html)

As the public cannot watch Breivik in action, no one outside the court has a clue whether the reports of his behaviour, looks and words are a truthful representation of what is going on.  For all we know He  might be wiping the floor with the prosecutor and any other hostile questioner.  The same will apply when the witnesses  for the defence are called.

The management of the proceedings is further heightened by the broadcast of the evidence from witnesses for the prosecution. Hence, you get the other side of the story in full and directly (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/norway/9220355/Norway-killer-Anders-Behring-Breivik-trial-day-six-live.html – 2.31 pm).  With Breivik’s  evidence there is not only the missing personal behaviour,  but the quotes which appear in the media are selective, concentrating not unnaturally on the more sensational of his words.

Amongst the self-congratulatory  liberal tosh about what a model of liberal restraint the trial is can be found the contention that Breivik would not have been given such licence to put his views in many other Western  jurisdictions including that of England.  I doubt whether that is true. Breivik is arguing that he acted in self-defence, the danger to himself (and the rest of  Norwegian society) being the policies of  allowing mass immigration,  the promotion of multiculturalism  and the strangulation of  any  public dissent through the rigorous application of  political correctness  which he feared would lead to the destruction of Norwegian culture  and that this would effectively leave any Norwegian at the mercy of  forces inimical to Norwegian  values and customs,  in his eyes most especially  Islam This  would at best  leave Norwegians as a subject people in their own  ancestral homeland or  at worst result in their complete obliteration as a people .

Those are of course political statements,  but that does not disqualify them as reasons why someone  should have a rational fear of what is happening and that the consequences of what is occurring   – mass immigration and multiculturalism –  could plausibly lead to a mortal threat to Norwegian society and by extension to Breivik.  The fact that they are so politically dangerous  for the political elite would make it difficult for any legal system anywhere to simple refuse  such a  justification of  a plea self-defence. This was the case  with Breivik because before he  was allowed to read his statement  there were strong hints that he would not be allowed to read it even if it was not televised. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/norway/9205393/Norway-killer-Anders-Behring-Breivik-barred-from-reading-new-manifesto-in-court.html).

There is also a question mark over whether Breivik is pleading self-defence in the sense that it would be understood in an English court:

“8.05am Before the court started, journalists were spoken to by the translators who said that “self-defence” was a misleading translation for the grounds for acquittal Breivik is invoking. A better translation would be “necessity”, they said as the clause he’s referring to is about defence of property and defence of others, not solely about defence of your own person.”

08.28am While we wait for a decision, more on the clarification from the translators regarding Breivik’s defence of “necessity” rather than “self-defence”. In Norway section 47 of the penal code states:

No person may be punished for any act that he has committed in order to save someone’s person or property from an otherwise unavoidable danger when the circumstances justified him in regarding this danger as particularly significant in relation to the damage that might be caused by his act.”

(http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/norway/9208311/Norway-killer-Anders-Behring-Breivik-trial-day-two-live.html).

The charges brought against Breivik also potentially provide grounds for challenge.  Here are the salient parts of the indictment:

“THE PUBLIC PROSECUTORS OF OSLO

hereby indict Anders Behring Breivik, born 13.02.1979 currently remanded in custody before the Oslo District Court, pursuant to section 39 of the Penal Code, for sentence to be passed for his transfer to compulsory mental health care, cf. chapter 5 of the Mental Health Care Act, for having in a psychotic state committed an otherwise punishable act, namely in violation of:

Section 147a of the Penal Code, first paragraph letters a and b, cf. sections 148 first paragraph first penalty alternative and 233 first and second paragraphs

for having committed a terrorist act in violation of section 148 of the Penal Code, first paragraph, first penalty alternative (bringing about an explosion whereby loss of human life or extensive damage to the property of others could easily be caused) and of section 233 first and second paragraphs (premeditated murder where particularly aggravating circumstances prevail) with the intention of seriously disrupting a function of vital importance to society, such as the executive authority or seriously intimidating a population.

II Section 147a of the Penal Code, first paragraph letter b, cf. section 233 first and second paragraphs

 for having committed a terrorist act in violation of section 223 of the Penal Code, first and second paragraphs (premeditated murder where particularly aggravating circumstances prevail) with the intention of seriously intimidating a population.” (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/norway/9206336/Anders-Behring-Breivik-trial-indictment-in-full.html)

Consider the passage “with the intention of seriously disrupting a function of vital importance to society, such as the executive authority or seriously intimidating a population.” Breivik was certainly not “seriously  intimidating a population”. Rather, he was seriously intimidating the ruling political elite by attacking the generation who were being trained to become the political elite.  As for  “seriously disrupting a function of vital importance to society, such as the executive authority”, it is true the bomb attack was meant to harm members of the government including the Norwegian Prime Minister,  but  in a representative democracy even the death of a Prime Minister should not  “seriously disrupt a function of vital importance to society”.

Breivik’s mental state

The calls for Breivik to be considered mad  unambiguously show  the  authoritarian  nature of  the modern liberal mind.  Compare their  calls for him to be judged insane with the  treatment of others who have killed for political reasons such as   Islamic fanatics and IRA bombers. They were and are not treated by liberals  as deranged but as terrorists at worst, although plenty of liberals will always find ways of qualifying even that judgement because of the terrorist’s supposed motives and environment.  As Breivik observed  if he was a “bearded jihadist” no psychiatric investigation would have been asked for. (1.11 pm http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/norway/9220355/Norway-killer-Anders-Behring-Breivik-trial-day-six-live.html)

Breivik is really in the same bracket as such people. Indeed, it could be argued that his motivation is  far more rational that, for example, the Jihadist who believes he will go to paradise with 72 virgins to use as he sees fit.  He has real fears about the future of his country and a clear idea of what he is doing, viz:

“10.28am Prosecutor Engh asked Breivik if he thought there were any parallels between what he had done and a war situation.

Breivik replied that it was “not a war but a political attack …. and I was trying to prevent a future civil war. Not just me but other political nationalists – we believe that this will happen” (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/norway/9220355/Norway-killer-Anders-Behring-Breivik-trial-day-six-live.html)

Moreover,  ostensibly at least,  Breivik has not killed on a whim, as an exercise in sadism, to  revenge himself for  personal  slights or injuries or because he has a proven mental disorder such as paranoid schizophrenia with voices in his head telling him to kill people before they killed him.  He has no psychiatric history and , despite the best efforts of the first set of psychiatrists who examined him to diagnose him as a paranoid schizophrenic,  this judgement was contradicted by a second examination which found Breivik to be sane. The other strong pointer  to his sanity is the fact that he  successfully executed a meticulously planned and complex attack.

Breivik cooperated with the first psychiatrists who adjudicated on his sanity  but not the second.  Could it be that the first psychiatrists, faced with the physical reality of someone saying all the things they as, as politically correct believers, could not bear to think anyone who so contradicted their views was  sane? The second set of psychiatrists were not confronted with such a reality made flesh and  came to  their judgement simply on his known views and behaviour, a much less emotionally involving business.   Perhaps ominously for Breivik,  the Daily Telegraph reported on 23  April that at  “2.43pm The judge has read to the court comments from the Norwegian commission for forensic medicine, which has asked for “further work” to be done on the second psychiatric report into Breivik. This is the report which found he was sane.” (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/norway/9220355/Norway-killer-Anders-Behring-Breivik-trial-day-six-live.html)..

If this were an English court  it is difficult to see how Breivik  could  meet the test of insanity required by the McNaghten Rules. These  rest on whether a person accused of a crime knew they were doing something wrong or were suffering a defect of reason through mental illness,  most commonly paranoia, which drove them to commit the crime in the belief that it was necessary to commit it , most probably because of a belief that they or someone else was in danger. Clearly Breivik  is aware of what he was doing and how it would be viewed by society. That leaves only the question of whether he was acting under a delusion. That test would fall because manifestly what he fears, the objective threats to his society from mass immigration, multiculturalism, political correctness and Islam, are concrete facts. How far they could be judged to be mortal threats is another matter, but no one could reasonably argue that, in particular,  mass immigration and Islam are not real and substantial  threats to the nature of Norwegian society.

Compare the political positions of Breivik and the  politically correct:

Breivik points out the inevitable ill consequences of mass immigration; the particular threat from Islam and the enforcement of the totalitarian ideology political correctness.

The politically correct  ask human beings to  pretend that  that there is no difference between people of  varying races and cultures;  to willingly allow the invasion of their  territory  by strangers;   pretend that life is enriched by changing  from a homogenous to a fractured heterogeneous  society through mass immigration;  accept all sexual relationships as equally natural and socially useful and ignore the very obvious differences in interests and biological function between men and women in the name of sexual equality. The ideology requires people to behave as if they were not human.

Who is more divorced from reality?

Breivik’s ideas

How bright is Breivik? We are not talking Immanuel Kant here,  but neither is he a complete  clod.  His 2083 – A European Declaration of Independence   lists his concerns and programme for action as:

1. The rise of cultural Marxism/multiculturalism in Western Europe

2. Why the Islamic colonization and Islamisation of Western Europe began

3. The current state of the Western European Resistance Movements (anti-Marxist/anti-Jihad movements)

4. Solutions for Western Europe and how we, the resistance, should move forward in the coming decades

5. + Covering all, highly relevant topics including solutions and strategies for all of the 8 different political fronts

The  complete manifesto can be found at http://info.publicintelligence.net/AndersBehringBreivikManifesto.pdf.

There are aspects of the ridiculous about his ideas,  most notably the guff about the foundation of a latterday  Knight’s Templars of which he describes himself as  “ Justiciar Knight Commander for Knights Templar Europe and one of several leaders of the National and pan-European Patriotic Resistance Movement” and his truly embarrassing obsession with uniforms.   Breivik also shows  great obtuseness in thinking that a political manifesto of 1,518 pages  is a practical instrument to get his message across to a wide public, which was presumably his intent.  To the length of his writing can be added  the  barrier of  the quasi-academic style of  much of the content.  This prolixity and user-unfriendly style is unsurprising,  because he appears to be an autodidact  and an inability to understand an audience or edit out the marginal from the directly pertinent  often comes with that territory.  But that does not make what he has to say unimportant merely difficult  to access.

In his manifesto Breivik  is overly obsessed with Islam, although interestingly,  in his statement to the court  it is reported that: “09.32am The statement makes no reference to his crimes, his belief he is a Knight Templar, or, interestingly Islam. Instead, it’s a rant against left-wing multi-culturalism. “ (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/norway/9208311/Norway-killer-Anders-Behring-Breivik-trial-day-two-live.html).

The threat to Norwegian society posed by Islam is not to be underestimated,  but it is  a subset of the larger general threat from immigration generally, especially in countries other than Norway.   It could be argued that if it was only Muslims which constituted a threat, then the danger might be both better appreciated and more easily dealt with,  because it is only the multiplicity of competing ethnicities which allows multiculturalism  –   a classic divide and rule strategy – to be peddled.   (The  same applies to the  entirety of political correctness, because that also  relies on creating sectional groups who can be similarly manipulated ).

Nonetheless,  it is true that Islam  represents  the most coherent, immediate  and obvious threat  from immigrants  in Europe  because of the numbers involved – estimates of Muslims in the EU are around 20 million – (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/5994047/Muslim-Europe-the-demographic-time-bomb-transforming-our-continent.html)  and the nature of the  religion itself which provides plenty of unambiguous injunctions to use force against non-Muslims to enforce Islam  and  is generally  implacable in its drive towards domination.    In judging  Breivik’s fears they should be put in the context of the fact that Norway has a population of less than 5 million (http://www.ssb.no/english/subjects/02/befolkning_en/).  Mass immigration is  a  vastly more pressing matter  for Norwegians than it is for a country with a  population of, say, 50 million or more.

How many  Muslims are there in Norway?  No one knows for sure because the Norwegian statistics office does not count people by religion.   Estimates by non-governmental bodies  give figures such as 144,000 in 2010 (http://features.pewforum.org/muslim-population/) and 163,000 in 2009 (Islam in Norway http://folk.uio.no/leirvik/tekster/IslamiNorge.html .) These figures would not seem unreasonable when placed against the Statistics Norway 2010 figure for first and second generation immigrants:

“Immigrants and those born in Norway to immigrant parents constitute 655 000 persons or 13.1 per cent of Norway’s population, among which 547 000 are immigrants and 108 000 are born in Norway to immigrant parents. 

Broken down by region, 294 000 have a European background, 163 000 persons have a background from Asia, 60 000 from Africa, 18 000 from South- and Central-America and 11 000 from North America and Oceania.

 57 100 of those born in Norway to immigrants parents have an Asian background, 29 000 have parents from Europe, 19 500 from Africa and 2 600 have immigrant parents from South- and Central America.  “ http://www.ssb.no/english/subjects/00/00/10/innvandring_en/

It would be a fair bet that the large majority of the Asians are Muslims.

Despite these substantial shortcomings, Breivik’s message is  most powerful and (for liberals) a tremendously  dangerous.   He  strikes directly at  the social  poison which lies at the heart of not only  Norway but  much of the First World: the pernicious consequences of mass immigration and the ideological justification for it – multiculturalism – which Western elites have developed to justify both the immigration and the authoritarian measures employed to prevent  public dissent  at its permitting.  In addition, by condemning political correctness generally he strikes at the other sacred cows of  political correctness ,  gay rights and feminism.   If Breivik is widely  judged to be right in his core  views  (not his actions)  the immense edifice of  political correctness  erected in in Norway  (and elsewhere)   over the past half century is under threat.

The eternal crime of treason

Most deadly for the liberal elite is Breivik’s  attack on mass immigration.  He  is accusing the Norwegian elite of  collective and sustained  act of  treason  which he believes  will obliterate  Norway as a recognisable nation

The idea of treason is so  potent  because it is one of very few crimes which exists in people’s minds  regardless of whether a law enshrining it is on the statute book.  Indeed, it could be argued that it is the only crime which commands such universality of natural recognition because even crimes such as murder and theft are open to considerable differences of definition for example, killing by vendetta has been morally sanctioned in many societies and theft by conquest lauded.  But treason  is always treason, the betrayal of the tribe, clan or nation.  It is even more fundamental than that,  because its roots  rest in the anger and dismay felt by any human being if they are let down by another whom they trusted.

A concept of treason is fundamental to every society because it sets the bounds of loyalty. Allow that there is no difference between a native of a country  and a foreigner, as the liberal internationalist does in practice (and increasingly in theory) , and the  coherence of a society is destroyed which puts its very existence under  threat – see  http://livinginamadhouse.wordpress.com/2010/09/18/what-is-treason-today/)

Liberals have been conditioned to eschew a sense of nation. Breivik has not. Here he is explaining why he wept at his trial when watching one of his videos :

“Because my country is in the process of dying – it was the sorrow over seeing my country … deconstructed. Especially the songs, combined with the message” (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/norway/9210659/Norway-killer-Anders-Behring-Breivik-trial-day-three-live.html).

There will be few in the West who will  espouse Breivik’s actions but many who will in varying degrees sympathise at some level with  his complaints about mass immigration, the demands of Muslims within Western societies and  the strangling of human nature by political correctness. A good parallel  for British readers is the relationship between Irish nationalists and the actions of the IRA.  Support for the IRA varied from outright glorification of terrorist acts to those who adopted what might the called the “I don’t agree with their methods but… ” approach whereby they supported the ends but not the means.

What  liberals everywhere should be doing is questioning why the imposition of their  political ideology  could drive someone to do what Breivik did. Such massacres are rare to  the point of almost  non-existence in modern Western  society.   The only real parallel is the bombing  of government offices carried out  by  Timothy McVeigh in the USA (http://livinginamadhouse.wordpress.com/2011/07/23/the-oslo-massacre-and-the-treason-of-the-liberals/) .

In both cases the perpetrators – Breivik and McVeigh  – were men who lived in societies which provided for their material needs.  They were not driven to do what they did by poverty. They were not fighting against an occupying power or an overt dictatorship.  Both men could  have continued to live what, by the standard of most places in the world , were extremely comfortable lives. Yet both chose to leave that security and engage in acts which by any standard were wholly exceptional  and deeply disturbing.   Moreover, the acts  are disturbing not just for the slaughter  which occurred, but also for their  causes.

Norwegians who buy into the multicultural, politically correct propaganda which has been  pumped out  for decades ought to be examining the type of world their rigid adherence to political correctness has created.   It has produced  the sense of  social claustrophobia common to overt  totalitarian states  whereby people find the range of opinion they are permitted shrinks and shrinks and instead of behaving naturally they are constantly thinking is it safe to say this? It is a mental gaol.   Breivik described  the symptoms graphically:

“09.46am I’m not scared of the prospect of being imprisoned. I was born in a prison and I have spent my life in a prison… this prison is called Norway. It doesn’t matter if I am locked into a cell, because you know that all areas will end up in a multicultural Hell that we call Oslo.http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/norway/9208311/Norway-killer-Anders-Behring-Breivik-trial-day-two-live.html).

Above all liberals need to ask themselves why, if Breivik’s ideas are so absurd, so outlandish they are afraid of them. The poet John Milton had the answer to those who wished to censor:

‘And though all the winds of doctrine were let loose upon the earth, so truth be in the field [and] we do injuriously by licensing and prohibiting to misdoubt her strength. Let her and falsehood grapple; who ever knew truth put to the worse, in a free and open encounter…’ [Milton - Areogapitica].

If Breivik is as irrational and delusional as liberals wish to make out,  and liberals believe sincerely in what they say,  they would surely let their perceived truth go into battle with Breivik’s perceived truth. The reality is that liberals at best do not think that their ideas are practical or palatable to the majority  at present  and at worst they have ceased to believe in political correctness but cannot say so for fear of the consequences to themselves.

A sociologist and professor at Oslo university, Thomas Hylland Eriksen, has been called to give evidence for Breivik.  He has yet to give evidence but in the,  to English eyes,  rather curious world of Norwegian criminal justice, he has spoken to the media about his coming evidence (there appears to be little if any concept of sub judice in Norway) :

“I expect that they want me to help them substantiate the claim that he was not insane, what I can say is that his world view, or large parts of his world view are fairly widely shared… And this world view exists, not shared by a majority but by a fairly vocal and potentially dangerous minority,” Eriksen said. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/norway/9211988/Anders-Breivik-unable-to-distinguish-reality-says-professor.html).

There you have a liberal coming as close as they are likely to get to an admission of what they all fear:  that Breivik’s views (although not his actions) are shared by large numbers of people, especially his views on immigration and Islam.   Prof Eriksen  is wrong in one respect:  it is not a “dangerous minority” but humans generally who have these feelings, including, as mentioned previously,  liberals.  People may have been brainwashed  but that does not means normal human instincts have vanished or  that people generally  believe in the propaganda. Instead people  develop a fear response  which drives them to shun views which clash with the ideology and to give evidence of their belief in the ideology in public situations by paying lip service to it.

While an ideology can be enforced,  the public will display behaviours ranging from a servile adherence to the ideology to promote their interests  to lip service just to remain safe.   But once the means of enforcing the ideology are removed these behaviours will rapidly vanish.  The societies liberals have built in the West are houses of cards just waiting to be knocked over if the stranglehold of the politically correct can be broken.

I will end with a question, What is the non-violent means to break the hold on power of elites  who would destroy the societies they come from through mass immigration, obsessively enforce  political correctness  and  ruthlessly suppress  dissent to what they are doing  through the criminalisation of  ideas which run counter to those  of the politically correct?

Administrative justice: Gordon Brown misbehaved in the same general way as Jeremy Hunt

A very large research laboratory, The Francis Crick Institute,  is being built on land behind the British Library in Kings Cross, London –  http://ukcmri.wordpress.com/2010/12/16/objection-to-ukcmri-planning-application-for-a-research-centre-in-brill-place-london-nw1/.

The land on which it being built was publicly owned. It was sold by ostensibly  public tender  by the Department of  Culture, Median and Sport (DCMS) in 2007 to  a consortium the United Kingdom Centre for Medical Research and Innovation (UKCRMI).

Just as the decision on the Murdoch bid to buy all the shares in BSkyB that News  Corps did not own was supposed to be decided impartially by a minister (Jeremy Hunt),  so was the sale of the land by the  Secretary of State for the DCMS . The reality was that there was no impartiality exercised. As is clear from the documents below which I obtained using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), Gordon Brown persistently interfered with the sale by putting his weight behind one of a number of bidders. This invalidated the bidding process and

I made great efforts to get the story into the mainstream media and politics  – see http://ukcmri.wordpress.com/. These were unsuccessful which says a great deal about both our politicians and political  journalists. Nonetheless, it does stand as evidence of the persistent willingness of politicians to misuse their power  and of the British media to suppress political stories when it suits them.

There is another strong public interest in this story because the Francis Crick Institute will by dealing with highly toxic viruses and bacteria in its research. This makes it a serious and potentially catastrophic danger to London, both from lapses in bio-security and terrorist action.  The full story can be found at http://ukcmri.wordpress.com/.

Robert Henderson 27 4 2012

Gordon Brown’s involvement in the sale of the land to UKCRMI

February 21, 2011
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To make  the matter as simple as possible to follow,  I have selected from the  documents in my possession which show Gordon Brown’s illegitimate involvement in the sale of  the land to UKCRMI six which form a paper trail from the period before the closing date for expressions of interest  to the announcement of the sale of the land by Gordon Brown.  Some of the  documents are lengthy. To prevent readers having to plough through them   I have highlighted  (by bolding) the passages in the documents which refer directly or indirectly to Brown’s interest.  Where a figure such as  [40] appears, that means redaction has occurred under the exemptions in the FOIA –  the number relates to the clause number of the exemption.  These documents  also give a good sketch of the background to the bidding process.

Further relevant documents can be found athttp://ukcmri.wordpress.com/2010/12/16/objection-to-ukcmri-planning-application-for-a-research-centre-in-brill-place-london-nw1/

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NB This document shows that  Brown was interfering even before the closing date for expressions of interest was closed.  The relevant date is not that on Rosemary Banner’s letter, but the enclosure which came with the letter, i.e., 1 August 2007. 

HM TREASURY

I Horse Guards Road London SWIA 2HQ

Rosemary Banner

Head of Information Rights Unit

Tel: 020 7270 5723

Fax:

rosemary.banner@hm-treasury.x.gsi.gov.uk

http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk

Mr R Henderson

24 June 2009

Dear Mr Henderson

Freedom of Information Act 2000: medical research centre   We wrote to you on 27 August 2008 conveying the conclusions of the internal review carried out in relation to your complaint to the Treasury about the handling of your April 2008 request for information under the Freedom of Information Act.

In light of your complaint to the Information Commissioner we have reconsidered the single item of information that falls within the scope of your request that has not already been disclosed. As a result of this re-examination we have identified additional information that we are now able to provide to you. Please see attachment at the end of this letter. For the avoidance of doubt we should make it clear that the Treasury continues to regard its original decision not to release this information as correct at the request and review stage. However, given the passage of time, we believe that the public interest in withholding has diminished and can now be released.

We have, however, decided to continue to withhold two sentences from this information under section 35(1 )(a) of the Act. These sentences continue to relate to ongoing policy. We have explained our position to the ICO regarding this, and are able to clarify that the redacted sentences contain information on a bid for funding from the MRC that the Department for Business Innovation and Skills are assessing in the normal way. Funding decisions have not concluded. As always the Government will publish actual funding provisions once a decision has been reached. Due to the way funding bids are negotiated and assessed this was been a live issue at the time of the request; internal review; and remains so at this present time. To be helpful we refer to evidence published by the select committee in December 2007. You will see that at that time the bid was £118 million.

http://www. parliament.the-stationery-office.com/pa/cm200708/cmselect/cmdius/1 85/1 85we02.htm

The Treasury is not able to comment as to what the final figure will be until a decision has been made, I reiterate that once decided it will be announced publicly.

Rosemary Banner

Head of Information Rights Unit

For HM Treasury

EXTRACT of relevant information extracted from a report prepared

 1 August 2007

NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF MEDICAL RESEARCH (NIMR)   MRC concluded some years ago that the NIMR’s future location should be close to a London Teaching Hospital. With this in mind, MRC purchased at their risk for £28M in March 2006, but with Treasury’s knowledge, a one-acre site at the National Temperance Hospital location (NTH) in London.

MRC has recently learnt that its earlier preferred site for NIMR, a three-acre site adjacent to the British Library, has now become available. This larger site would have the major advantage of accommodating more translational research. Encouragingly MRC has most recently proposed that the site would be developed in partnership with Cancer Research UK (CRUK), Wellcome Trust and UCL as a potentially strong consortium. The Wellcome Trust have mentioned that they would be prepared to make a sizeable investment to help establish a new world class medical research facility in North London if they can secure DCMS-owned land and planning permission from Camden Council. At present the consortia has registered its interest in buying the site.

This project has had a very long gestation period, during which the arguments for the strong scientific case for relocating within London (which has a cluster of medical research and teaching hospitals) and the need to retain MRC’s highly skilled staff.

The recent preparation of a suitable business case has been further complicated of late by both the re-emergence of the British Library site as a possible location.  

The PM is also most recently stated that he is very keen to make sure that Government departments are properly coordinated on this project and that if there is a consensus that this is indeed an exciting project then we do what we can to make it happen. This is extremely helpful from a DIUS and MRC perspective, but, formally a NIMR relocation project in London has yet to receive Lyons approval from Treasury (for either the first planned NTH site or the possible BL site).

MRC have employed Deloitte to prepare a full business case for the relocation project.

The scientific and operational case for a London location is strong in our view.

Key Dates for the Preparation and Appraisal of the NIMR Proposal

- July 2007 — Letter to Treasury to inform CST of MRC’s proposed bid for the BL site.

-July/August 2007 — Expression of interest in the BL site registered by  the MRC Consortium.

-September 2007 — further substantive discussions with MRC/Deloitte  on Lyons and emerging business case material.

-September 2007 — MRC NIMR project included by RCUK in the 2007 Roadmap consultation.

-October 2007 — first full draft business case prepared by MRC/Deloitte.

-October 2007 — MRC consortium formally bid to DCMS for the BL site.

-November 2007 — Full revised business case received and Lyons case consideration undertaken by Treasury.

-December — Progress submission to Ministers.

-December 2007 — MRC Consortium formed and, if successful in bidding, payment to DCMS for the BL site.

-December 2007 — MRC’s NIMR project prioritised by Research Council Directors for receipt of DIUS funding through the Large Facility Capital Fund.

-February/March 2008 — Submission to Ministers for approval of LFCF allocation to support the MRC’s NIMR project, subject to our final assessment of (a) the outcome of the Lyons case (b) the full business case and (C) prioritisation by RCUK of the use of the available LFCF,

April/May 2008 — DIUS Ministerial announcement of NIMR relocation project approval (subject to all the above).

Further Background to the National Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) The NIMR is one of the MRC’s largest and oldest research institutes. The NIMR is recognised as once of the UK’s foremost basic research institutes with a strong scientific track record and reputation. NIMR currently  houses the World Influenza Centre (WIC), which was established by  World Health Organisation (WHO) in 1948. The Centre, works with a  network of collaborating laboratories to detect and characterise the emergence of new influenza virus anywhere in the world including avian virus H5N1. NIMR is also at the forefront of international research to discover how molecular changes in the virus affect its ability to infect people and cause disease.

The NIMR has been at its present site since 1950. If it were to remain there the buildings would need substantial refurbishment. It is currently a ‘stand-alone’ Institute not physically linked to any University, Medical School or Hospital. In 2003 the MRC set up an expert Task Force to examine the strategic positioning of the NIMR research within the MRC portfolio. The Task Force concluded that their vision for NIMR would be best delivered through an intramural — i.e. with the staff employed by MRC — research institute on a single site in central London in partnership with a leading university and hospital (they received proposals from King’s College and University College) and this would enhance: – The multidisciplinary nature of NIMR’s work, providing access to other biologists, physical scientists, engineers, and mathematicians – Opportunities to collaborate more closely with clinicians and strengthen the focus of translational research.

Remaining at Mill Hill was considered by the Task Force where the majority view was that this would not be a viable option as it would not deliver Council’s vision for a world class research institute carrying out basic, clinical and translational research in partnership with a leading university and hospital. The position was endorsed by the MRC Council. This disappointed some staff at NIMR and there has been much lobbying of Ministers and MPs and as a result the issue has received some media interest.

MRC Council selected UCL as its preferred partner for the renewal and relocation of NIMR in Central London, in close proximity to a major teaching hospital (University College Hospital) and relevant university departments, including chemistry and physics.

The MRC Council approved an outline Business Plan for the renewal and relocation of NIMR in July 2005. The Business Plan confirmed the feasibility of developing the renewed Institute on the National Temperance Hospital (NTH) site in Hampstead Road, which MRC bought (at its own risk but with Treasury’s knowledge), for £28M in 2006, suggesting that the new site could provide accommodation for up to 1,058 staff, including 248 from UCL and potentially 40 additional research staff.

MRC have recognised that their development of the business case needed to ensure a successful project and to satisfy the requirements of DIUS and Treasury requires additional skills to those residing within the MRC and most recently further advice has been procured by MRC from Deloitte for assistance with preparation of the business case.

It was also not our intention at review stage to withhold names of senior civil servants of the email provided at initial request. While we explained that the sender was Jeremy Heywood from the Cabinet Office we overlooked to state the other officials who were recipients of that email. They were: The Permanent Secretaries of DIUS and DCMS Ian Watmore and Jonathan Stephens; the Managing Director of Public Spending in HMT, John Kingman; and the Chief Operating Officer, DCMS Nicholas Holgate.

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NB This document shows Brown’s  interest just before the short list of bidders was decided. 

RESTRICTED – POLICY & COMMERCIAL

To James Purnell Margaret Hodge, Jonathan Stephens,Ros Brayfield

From Nicholas Holgate

Date 18 September 2007 ____________

SALE OF LAND TO THE NORTH OF THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Issue: mainly for information but also to ask how you would wish to be involved in this transaction.

The Department owns 3.6 acres to the north of the British Library. With the completion of the new train terminal, we are able to sell it and have been conducting a competitive process so that Ministers can choose what represents best value, comprising not just the proceeds from sale but also the use to which the bidder intends to put the land.

2. We are bound to be concerned about proceeds:

a. There is an obvious obligation, on Jonathan as the department’s Accounting Officer, to secure the best return we can for the taxpayer;

b. the Government is close to breaching its fiscal rules and has set itself a demanding target for asset disposals. Your predecessor strongly rebutted the Treasury’s proposal that we should sell assets worth £150m by 2010-11 and it has not formally been debated since your arrival; but we are likely to have to raise some funds from disposals. In any case:

c. proceeds from this sale are earmarked to contribute towards the budget of the Olympic Delivery Authority for 2007-08.

3. Subject to Treasury agreement, we can nevertheless also take public value” into account. We are aware of two such bids one led by the Medical Research Council, with support from the Wellcome Foundation and others for a research facility; and one that wishes to remain confidential but which is essentially related to faith and education.

4. The facts are:

a. We have now received 28 bids in response to a prospectus. Amongst other things, the prospectus drew attention to the local planning policy guidance, which steers bidders towards a scheme that is roughly 50:50 commercial and residential development with 50% affordable housing. It is Camden Borough Council and the Mayor who will have the last word on what is in fact built on the site;

b. Our professional advisers have scored the bids on various criteria and are interviewing the top seven plus two others (the medical research bid is one of the two others) next week;

c. There is a significant financial gap between the top bids and the medical research bid.

5. Jonathan and I are meeting Jeremy Heywood (who is aware of both public value bids), Ian Watmore (Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills) and John Kingman (Treasury) tomorrow. We need to agree an orderly and appropriate process for selling the land, given the public value bidders, other Departments’ interest and the likelihood that the Prime Minister might wish to take an interest too.

6. We will report back to you then. Subject to your views and others’, one potential way forward is a. DIUS economists be invited to assess the public value of the medical research bid. We will need some such calculation if we sell at a discount. DCMS should not do this as we should display some neutrality between bidders . We decide whether we expect the medical research bid to match the best bid, improve their offer but not necessarily to match, or take a lower value on the chin. Given their backers, they can afford to match. But they may refuse to play; and/or we may not wish to be seen to be reducing their funding for good causes just to maximise proceeds;

c. We see whether there is a Government champion for the other bidder;

and

d. We then fairly characterise the two public value bidders and the best commercial bid (or bids, if they differ significantly in what they propose) to Ministers and No 10 for a decision.

Nicholas Holgate

Chief Operating Officer

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NB This shows Brown’s interest a few weeks before the sale to UKCRMI was agreed.

BRIEFING NOTE FROM POLICY ADVISERS DATED 12 NOVEMBER 2007 TO THE PRIME MINISTER COPIED TO No 10 OFFICIALS.

THE NOTE WAS ENTITLED: PROJECT BLISS – CREATING A WORLD-LEADING MEDICAL RESEARCH FACILITY IN LONDON

Disclosable extracts:

We are close to being ready to announce Government support for the creation of a world-leading medical research facility in London.

The key component being finalised is the sale of land, which will allow the BLISS partner organisations (the Medical Research Council, Cancer Research UK, the Wellcome Trust and University College London) to develop their detailed proposals for the creation of the centre.

We anticipate that the deal will be finalised over the next few days and we should be able to announce the outcome of the process In the next few weeks. On current plans, we would expect the sale to complete during December and preparations for development to begin straight away. The expectation is that the Institute would be up and running by 2012.

This is an important opportunity to demonstrate what the UK’s commitment to medical research really means in practice. And it fits very well with the focus of your intended health speech.

What would you be announcing?

• We would be committing Government support to the creation of a new centre for UK biomedical research, with 1,500+ scientists, at a level commensurate with the very best institutions in the world.

• The BLISS consortium brings together four of the leading medical research institutions in the UK – the Medical Research Council, Cancer Research UK, the Wellcome Trust and University College London.

• The Centre responds to the vision, outlined in Sir David Cooksey’s review of UK health research presented to Treasury in 2006, of better integration and translation of research into patient and public benefit. The Centre will benefit from economies of scale, enhanced infrastructure, the critical mass to optimise collaboration, and the capacity to take scientific discoveries from the lab bench to the hospital bed.

• These four key partners, together with the expectation that other organisations would come forward to invest In the centre or to lease research space, bring a powerful combination of skills and capabilities — basic research, applied research, the capabilities to convert research and innovation for public and commercial use, and the skills and opportunities presented by access to a leading university and teaching hospital. The potential, In terms of understanding disease, and developing new drugs, treatments and cures, is huge.

How to announce?

The suggestion is that you announce this a few days before your health speech, planned for 6th December. We would suggest a visit to a high-tech medical site in the morning to get pictures, followed by a meeting at No lO with all relevant stakeholders (primarily the four partner organisations) at which you make the formal announcement and ‘launch’ the project. Let us know your thoughts on whether this is the right way to proceed with the BLISS announcement?

Background

The vision for the BLISS Centre has six themes:

Research innovation and excellence • Bring together outstanding scientists from two world-class research institutes (MRC NIMR and the Cancer Research UK London Research Institute), collaborating with UCL, to address fundamental questions of human health and disease. • Through Wellcome Trust funding, development of tools for integrative biology, with an emphasis on the development of advanced microscopy imaging and on the mathematicaland computational needs in this field.

• Increase scientific innovation through new links with the physical sciences, life sciences, mathematics, engineering and the social Sciences at UCLI

• Develop close links between the Centre and the outstanding hospitals nearby (Including the National Hospital for Nervous Diseases at Queens Square, Great Ormond Street, Moorfields and University College Hospital) and other major hospitals in London (including Hammersmith Hospital and the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre at Hammersmith, and the Maudsley Hospital and the Institute of Psychiatry)1 State-of-the-art research facilities

• Develop a multidisciplinary research complex operating in state-of-the-art facilities, with the size and diversity to be internationally competitive with the world’s top research institutes.

• Establish a new centre for development of advanced imaging technologies and analysis. A national focus for biomedical science

• Interact with other local centres of excellence to foster and facilitate collaboration between basic, translational and Clinical scientists1  Host national and international research meetings and conferences, facilitated by its proximity to national and International transport links and the conference facilities of the British Library. An effective interface with technology transfer and development

• Facilitate the effective development of therapeutic and diagnostic devices and drugs, by allowing the technology transfer arms of MRC and Cancer Research UK to work closely together.

• Drive innovation in developing tests and technologies through interaction between researchers and development laboratories.

Finding and developing the scientists of the future • Provide an attractive environment to secure and retain world-class scientists by providing an outstanding setting for research and collaboration. • Boost the recruitment and training of scientists and doctors of the future by providing an excellent environment for postgraduate and postdoctoral training, and for training outstanding clinical scientists committed to medical research.

Engaging with the public

• Educate the public on important issues in health and disease.

• Bring together and enhance partners’ public information and education programmes, with a particular focus on engaging younger people.

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NB This document shows Brown’s involvement just prior to the sale of the land.

BRIEFING NOTE FROM NO 10 POLICY ADVISER TO THE PRIME MINISTER DATED 27 NOVEMBER 2007

COPIED TO NO 10 OFFICIALS

ENTITLED “MEETING WITH PAUL NURSE ON BLISS PROJECT”

You are meeting Paul Nurse who is likely to lead the BLISS institute, along, with Mark Walport, Director of The Wellcome Trust, and Harpal Kumar, Head of Cancer Research, two partners in BLISS

We are close to being ready to announce Government support for plans to create a world-leading medical research facility in London, led by the BLISS consortium made up of the Medical Research Council, Cancer Research UK, the Wellcome Trust and University College London.

We have now effectively finalised negotiations on the sale of the 35 acre site, adjacent to the British Library: a price has been agreed with DCMS, and the deal is complete subject to agreement on how much of the proceeds DCMS will retain. We are therefore ready for an announcement next week on the sale of the land – but will not be announcing full details of the project overall, as there remain various Issues to resolve, including reaching agreement on business plans and gaining planning permission. We would therefore announce the Government’s support for the vision of the new centre – rather than definitive support for the centre itself. The Project BLISS consortium brings together four leading medical research institutions in the UK and will create a new centre for UK biomedical  research, with 1,500+ scientists, at a level commensurate with the very best Institutions in the world.

The Centre responds to the vision, outlined in Sir David Cooksey’s review of UK health research presented to Treasury in 2006, of better integration and translation of research into patient and public benefit.

The Centre will benefit from economies of scale, enhanced infrastructure, the critical mass to optimise collaboration, and the capacity to take scientific discoveries from the lab bench to the hospital bed. The Centre will create a place for:

• collaboration, between leading scientists and clinicians, working on some of the most pressing medical problems of our time;

 • excellence, maintaining the quality of the UK’s life sciences research base;

• application, making links between research, medical practice and the pharmaceutical industry;

• innovation, translating research innovation into new treatments;

 • learning, bringing forward a new generation of scientific leaders;

  •discovery, showcasing the challenges and potential of life sciences to a new audience.

• Using the close proximity to the British Library, the Centre will develop a public engagement and education programme.

Sir Paul Nurse

Sir Paul Nurse is President of Rockerfeller University, formerly Joint Director General of Cancer Research UK and winner of the 2001 Nobel Prize for Medicine. His appointment has not yet been publicly announced,but he is set to lead the project as chair the Scientific Planning Committee.

Briefing note from Bliss

————————————————————————————

NB This document from just before the sale of the land shows  the extent of Brown’s involvement with the suggestion that he would arbitrate.  

Sent: 27 November 2007 13:09

To: HOLGATE NICHOLAS

Cc: _[40]_____________

Subject: RESTRICTED – Land to the North

Hi Nicholas,

Jonathan spoke to Jeremy Heywood this morning. Jeremy said he needed the bid to be agreed by next Wednesday – 5 Dec (or Thursday  latest) as PM wanted to get MRC in then (or possible public announcement.

Jonathan explained that there are two issues from our point of view: .No revised formal offer has been received by DCMS .HMT are not being helpful of recycling returns – without an improved offer from HMT JS said it would he v hard to justify.

JR said he thought the offer was sent to us yesterday – have checked but  nothing in JSs post or email – JH will chase. JH also said he would go   back to HMT to see what more they can do, but that ultimately PM may have to arbitrate.

Cheers

[40]

[40]

Private Secretary  to Jonathan Stephens

Department for (Culture, Media and Sport 2-4 Cockpur Street, London

SWlY 5Dl1 email: [40]@culture.gsi.gov.uk tel: 0207211 fax: 020 72116259

————————————————————————————

NB This document shows Brown’s state of mind immediately after the sale of the land was agreed.

Treasury document

From – name censored

Sent: 04 December 2007 19:49

To: name(s) censored.

CC: name(s) censored)

Thanks for everyone’s help and support in making the announcement tomorrow happen. The PM is truly delighted that departments have been able to work together to secure this huge opportunity for Britain

RESTRICTED – COMMERCIAL

“Free markets and “free trade” = elite propaganda”

Note: I wrote this long eassay  in 2005. The financial crash and recession since provide added grist to my arguments as the rich get richer, most people get steadily poorer, public provision shrinks and the inequality between people swells.

The lessons of economic history tell this story: a strong domestic economy is necessary for sustained economic growth and stability. The freer the trade with foreign states, the less stable and secure the domestic economy.

Post-war economic experience illustrates this nicely. Britain experienced her strongest sustained growth in the period  1945-1972. This was a period of protectionism and much state intervention in the economy.  Problems arose in the 1970s, but these were largely due to the oil price spike  after 1973, a consequence of globalism.  However, even with the oil price spike, unemployment in Britain never went much above 1 million until Thatcher arrived and wilfully destroyed our heavy and extractive industries.
During the period 1945-1979, Britain did not suffer a serious sustained recession. From 1979 onwards, under the Thatcherite ideology we have had three serious recessions: in the early 1980s, the early 1990s and the present recession.
To our post-war experience I would add the fact that England  built her commerce then the first Industrial Revolution behind very restrictive protectionist measures such as the Navigation Acts.  RH

 

Robert Henderson 20 4 2012

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“Free markets and “free trade” =  elite propaganda”

Robert Henderson

1. Unquestioned ideas

2. The “Free Market” is a state regulated market

3. The “free market” as its proponents conceive it

4. How effective is anti-monopoly legislation?

5. Microsoft and Windows – a natural monopoly

6. The historical trend towards contraction of competition

7. “Free trade”

8. Has “free trade” ever been practised?

9. “Free trade” today

10. Does “free trade” deliver? The lessons of economic history

11. Is society materially enriched by “free markets” and “free trade?

12. What is meant by material enrichment?

13. How the market fails to provide what the customer wants

14. Relative poverty and wealth and happiness

15. Man does not live by bread alone

16. Geopolitics

17. The democratic deficit

18. Does “free trade” increase competition and choice in the long run?

19. The reality of our economic circumstances

20. Why elites are so keen on “free markets” and “free trade”

21. A sane alternative to globalism

22. Free trade as a religion

23. An elite ideology

 

1. Unquestioned ideas

Because they have the word free in them, the terms “Free markets” and “free trade” have seduced those of all political colours to treat them uncritically as ideas. They are considered good or bad but their intellectual coherence is rarely questioned.

Neo-liberals believe in a childlike quasi-religious fashion in the workings of Adam Smith’s “invisible hand”, which, moved by enlightened self-interest, supposedly creates the best of all possible material worlds through the operation of the market. Socialists see “free markets” and “free trade” as economic “state of natures” which must be ameliorated by the state before a civilised society can be realised. Conservatives in the traditional sense no longer exist as a recognisable political force in the West, but when they did exist they opposed “free markets” and “free trade” primarily on the grounds of national security and the general disruption to society that they caused. Nationalists of the fascistic kind have traditionally opposed the ideas because they see the nation as a single organism which can only be strong if it is master of its own destiny, something which can only be achieved (they believe) through state direction of both the internal  market and of external trade.

There are varying quantities of truth in all these ideological responses, but their utility is seriously tainted by the lack of any  objective or even properly defined and permanent prescriptive truth in the concepts of “free markets” or “free trade”. The reality of these ideas is that they are arbitrary chosen bundles of behaviours which  are excluded or included at the will of their proponents. Moreover, the bundles of behaviours are not static.

The widespread negligence in examining the coherence of these ideas is all the more remarkable because their incoherence as theories and the arbitrary and dishonest nature of their practical realisation is not only readily apparent but fundamentally undermining of the claims made for them by their champions.

2. The “Free Market” is a state regulated market

There is a splendid irony in the objection of the self-defined “free marketeers'” and “free traders” to state intervention for the natural end of a truly free market is monopoly – or at least greatly reduced competition resulting in oligopoly and the rule of cartels. All so-called “free market” societies recognise this by passing anti-monopoly laws. The “free market” is in fact a market controlled by the state in the most fundamental way, that is, to prevent its natural workings. It is one of the great propaganda triumphs of history that “free markets” have been successfully sold as being what happens naturally without state intervention. Call a spade a spade and substitute the truthful “state regulated non-monopolistic market” for “free market” and the psychological shape of the idea changes dramatically.  (Some casuistical “free marketeers”might argue that the “free” in free market applies to the workings of the market rather than the market as a natural phenomenon. That explanation falls because “free marketeers” invariably make the blanket claim that markets only work efficiently without government interference. Their honest position would be to state that they want state regulated markets to prevent monopoly. They will not do that because it would be an acknowledgement that state regulation of the market is legitimate and hence remove any general argument against regulation. That in turn would mean any form of state regulation would be potentially reasonable and consequently each form of regulation would have to be argued down individually on the merits of the case, rather than simply empty-headedly dismissed on the grounds of no regulation = good; regulation = bad.

The state regulated “Free Market” is not even a natural phenomenon made somewhat artificial by rules to exaggerate the natural phenomenon in the same way that we breed animals to exaggerate nature. Rather it is just about as far from being a natural phenomenon as anything can be for it goes against all Man’s inclinations, both individual and social.

Economic history is overwhelmingly a catalogue of market regulation, local and national, from guilds to governments. It would be surprising if it were not because human beings, like all other organisms, naturally behave to secure their own advantage or that of their group. Extended to the nation state, this natural behaviour has commonly resulted in domestic markets being protected against foreign competition. Whether this is a good or a bad thing is another matter – a question I shall deal with later – all I am concerned to do at this point is to nail down that the fact that protectionist behaviour is what is natural.

Historically, whether you were anything from a rich merchant to a poor day labourer  it was obviously not in your personal interest to allow others free access to your markets to offer the goods or services at a lower price or to work for lower wages. The merchant might be driven to bankruptcy by competition, the labourer from his job.  History also tells us that whatever their previous economic station, such people will probably not be able to find equivalent or better paid employment and often may not be able to find any employment at all where structural unemployment arises. What was historically true not only remains true today, but its effect is much magnified because the opportunities for competition are greatly increased by modern communications and the ease of travel and cargo transportation.

Of course, any individual or sectional advantage causes strains in a society and if the material privilege of any person or group becomes excessive, sooner or later there will be a successful revolt and the wealth in a society will either be shared more fairly through a change in the way the society is structured, for example, through the abolition of tolls, the ending of state monopolies or even through a removal of the rich as a class without any increase in the wealth of the majority.

But wherever wealth distribution through social change has occurred it has normally been done with the express intention of benefiting a particular group or even an individual in the case of monarchs. The odd thing about “free marketeers” is that what they ostensibly advocate is not to privilege any particular individual or group but to benefit society as a whole. Whether free markets do so is another matter, but that is their claim.

The “free marketeer” says to a population, do what I say and in time society will become richer. He does not say this person or that group will become richer or even all will become richer, but merely that the society as a whole will become richer. This is an extraordinary thing to ask people to trust in. It is also the most wonderful blank cheque ever written to a politician because not only does it absolve him or her of any need to take the responsibility for regulating the economy, it also means that he or she can never be held to account for dishonesty by any individual if that individual is personally worse off. All a “free marketeer” politician has ever claimed is that his economic way will make society richer. Provided society overall is richer, he has met his met his promise.

It is also telling for their intellectual credibility and honesty that “free marketeers” will oppose government interference in such matters as subsidies, quotas, embargoes, wage rates and working hours and grumble about tax rates and public expenditure, but are generally quite happy to see other gross distortions of the market deriving from government action. They not only tolerate patents, copyright and trademarks, but often defend them as property in themselves and as devices which actually improve economic performance because they encourage invention, investment and expansion. In addition, those who constantly bleat about Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” sorting out the business wheat from the chaff insist that limited liability is necessary. This of course is also a violent interference with the market because it means that the individual shareholder never takes full responsibility for their investment. (It is worth noting that the British industrial revolution – the one and only bootstrapped industrial revolution – took place before limited liability became legally possible (Limited Companies Act 1862) and at a time when patent rights were insecure and in practice limited to the domestic British market.)

It is true that none of these things are actually part of what the concept of a “free market” is and that they are inimical to such a market, but the fact that almost all modern “free marketeers” have tacitly incorporated them into their vision of what a “free market” is demonstrates their intellectual confusion (or dishonesty if you prefer).

3. The “free market” as its proponents conceive it

Let us put aside for the moment the fact that “free markets” are state regulated markets and ask the question what is a “free market” as it is conceived by “free marketeers”? A jolly good question. Even if market distortions which appear acceptable to “free marketeers” such as patents and limited liability did not exist, that would leave many other things which prevent unfettered domestic competition. In an advanced modern economy these include:

Taxes

Non tax fiscal measures, for example, control of interest rates

The state of the currency

Exchange controls

Overall Government expenditure

State Subsidies

Industry and trading standards, official and otherwise

Public sector employment

Transport costs

Public ownership

Defence

Direct and indirect Government intervention

Copyright, trademarks and patents

The moral and social climate, for example, a tradition of wWelfare or the feeling of the

people, for example, the national feeling of Japanese Practical cultural barriers

such as the difficulty of a language

Dumping

Transport costs

Working hours

Trading laws

Labour laws

Wage rates

Bureaucratic differences

Company laws – particularly the attitude towards foreign ownership

Banking laws

Banking system

Social policy – welfare, health and so on

Physical infrastructure

Honesty of public servants

Foreign policy

National strategic considerations

Education – The amount spent, school leaving age, curriculum,

Limited Liability

Environmental laws

Some of these things such as subsidies, patents, quotas and limited liability could be obviously and legitimately ruled out of order by a “free marketeer” because they are deliberate state interferences with competition, but what of items such as the provision by the state of education or the physical infrastructure of a country? They are undeniably distortions of competition at some level, but they are not deliberate attempts by the state to distort competition. A purist “free marketeer” could just about say such things were no business of the state and still be intellectually coherent because it is possible to conceive of a society without such state provision. But however purist they might be, sooner or later the “free marketeer” will run into features which undeniably restrict competition but which must exist simply because they are an inescapable part of society. The most obvious is tax.

Any modern state needs a large tax revenue to sustain itself, the only questions to determine being how large should be the revenue and what  it should be spent on? Some things such as defence and policing are inescapable expenditures for any state, although even there the amounts to be spent are debatable and elastic. Items such as education and welfare are more subject to variable expenditure. Nonetheless, substantial amounts are as a matter of contingent fact invariably spent on such items by all advanced states. Such countries also engage to a lesser or greater degree in all the forms of regulation listed above.

In theory, and even more in practice, the notion of a “free market” seems to rest on little more than anti-monopoly laws, wages and prices set by the market (although in practice this does not happen purely through the market because of welfare provision, tax regimes etc) and a lack (or at least a minimum) of state interference in such areas as health and safety, employment law and company law.

The inclusion of these narrow criteria are merely a subjective choice made from a much larger menu of man-made distortions of the market. Consequently, there is no objective coherence to the concept of the “free market” as it is conceived by the “free marketeers”. It is an arbitrary ideology based on subjective choice.

4. How effective is anti-monopoly legislation?

Anti-monopoly laws operate within the constraints of the type of social and economic circumstances described above. That alone means they are severely limited in what they can do. They must, for example, tolerate state granted monopolies in the form of patents and copyright.

Anti-monopoly legislation generally only effectively attacks the problem from one end. A company can be prevented from growing its market share by taking over other companies but there is normally no meaningful restriction on a company growing its market share simply by expanding the existing company. Microsoft and the domination of Windows is a classic example.

Where companies try to expand by takeover, experience shows that those charged with applying the legislation allow very large parts of a market – 25% or more – to be held by a single company. The consequence is that a market which would seem to be an obvious candidate for competition, for example, food and domestic supplies retailing, can easily come to be dominated by three or four major players (as is the case in Britain).

There are also those products which are either natural monopolies because of the physical location of their infrastructure – railways, roads, the utilities such as gas – or which are inevitably going to have few entrants in the field because of reasons of cost, for example, aerospace, motor cars, ship building.

Finally, there are those rare markets which are dominated by one company simply because of the nature of their business. The classic example of this is Microsoft and their Windows operating system.

5. Microsoft and Windows – a natural monopoly

In South Park: The Movie, there is a glorious scene where, under martial law, Bill Gates is executed for falsely promising that Windows 98 would be “faster, easier to use and more reliable”. Many long-suffering Windows users doubtless wish that life had imitated art in that instance. Yet despite widespread dissatisfaction Windows remains the overwhelming dominant operating system.

At first glance it might seem that operating systems should be just the type of product which is open to fierce competition because software is a market which potentially has low entry costs. It is true that most areas of programming are competitive – within the constraint of the dominant operating system (OS) – but operating systems are the odd man out. The reason is simple. Once a single OS gained dominance, the chances of any other system effectively competing were very small. This is because the weight of programs available to run under the dominant OS soon became much greater than those which could be run under any other OS. Thus, it becomes inefficient to choose any other OS. That in turn means most of the software is written in a way to make in “friendly” to the dominant OS systems’ users. This further excludes OS competitors and the software to run under them because users, especially employers, do not want to spend the time training their employees on completely new systems, converting data  and so on.

The consequence is that Microsoft still has a stranglehold on the pc market. Moreover, if anyone wants to write any other software, they are constrained by the practical need for it to run under the Microsoft OS if they wish to reach the mass computer user market.

The near monopoly has lasted a long time. It has done this despite considerable attempts by both rivals and the US government to diminish their market position. Windows’ dominance looks secure for the foreseeable future.

 6. The historical trend towards contraction of competition

As remarked previously, the logical end of a free market is monopoly. The reason is obvious: competition tends to reduce the number of competitors through the natural process of success and failure and the takeover of one firm by another. In some trades this does not create an obvious serious anti-competitive difficulty because the initial capital investment is small and entry to the trade within the reach of many. But entry to a considerable and growing number of areas of manufacturing and service provision is too expensive for all but a few.

In a significant minority of trades starting a business from scratch is practically impossible for any one individual or even a group of private investors. The car industry is a first rate example, the number of companies now being small (and becoming smaller) compared with the number of even 40 years ago. Moreover, many of the car companies which do still exist do so only because of state subsidy and protection.

7. “Free trade”

“Free trade” is frequently treated as synonymous with international trade. In principle it does not have to be restricted to international dealings because the concept may be applied to any market, whether that be within a global, regional, national or even a local context. The United States for example displays considerable differences in local tax rates between not only states but within localities within a state, and, indeed, the ultimate aim of the “free trader” is to create a single world market. However, there are considerable differences in practice between domestic markets and international markets, not least because the criteria which are deemed to fall within the concept of “free trade” are not identical with those which are said to be a necessary part of the concept of a “free market”, for example, laws to prevent monopoly are redundant when it comes to international trade because one country will either supply or not supply goods and services to other countries and a country with a monopoly of an important good or service can as a matter of fact only be persuaded to supply the good or service against its will by extra-legal action, ultimately force or the threat of force. Consequently, it is convenient to treat “free trade” as being economic intercourse between nation states and that is what I shall do.

What does and does not constitute “free” international trading? In times gone by, people would have pointed to those honest workhorses of restriction: embargoes, quotas and tariffs and navigation laws and not much else. But in the modern world things are much more complicated as we discover almost daily during the seemingly interminable EU squabbling and the GATT rounds.

Some things are obviously incompatible with “free trade” such as embargoes or state subsidies, but what of different tax regimes, welfare provision or labour regulations? Why should they be excluded from the things which should not be tolerated in a “free trade” regime? After all, a low company tax regime could be regarded as a form of state subsidy to business and all welfare provision could be regarded as a subsidy to wages.

But even such items are straightforward compared to others. What of national sentiment which gives a preference to home produced goods regardless of whether they represent the best value when judged purely by price and quality? Should a country be forced to take the cheapest of  any particular equivalent good or service, regardless of the wishes of the  people of that country, on the grounds that not to purchase that which  gave “best value” constituted “unfair competition”? A reductio ad absurdum? Well, consider the fact that public bodies within the EU (which for these purposes includes any organisation drawing part of their income from public funds) must allow any company within the EU to bid for any work put out to contract, and if the lowest bid is not accepted, the public body risks being fined for a breach of the Single Market rules.

Even more problematic are things which are simply effects of economic activity. Take true dumping, not the state subsidized export regimes which often pass for such, but a simple economic practice to maximise profit.

True dumping works like this. Imagine that a company can make 2,000 units a week. It covers its costs for all 2,000 units if each week it produces and sells 1,000 units at œ1 each. The company finds it can sell a maximum of 1,500 units in the home market at œ1. If it reduces the unit price to 75 pence it could sell all 2,000 but that would only produce the same amount of revenue as selling 1,500 at £1 each.

Consequently, it sells 1,500 in the domestic market at £1 each and the other 500 at 50 pence each (carriage paid by buyer) in foreign markets. Total sales are £1,750 instead of  £1,500.

That is a very simple model of dumping but something akin to it happens regularly with differential pricing from country to country (the European car market is a prime example of this). No state subsidy has been given, no state intervention of any sort has occurred. Why should it not be considered as reasonable a practice as the toleration of different national wage rates? In fact, why should it not be considered more reasonable because wage rates are directly linked to such hidden subsidies as those of welfare and low company taxation? (in fairness, the economic activity of the dumper would also be linked to wage and tax subsidies, but the connection would be more remote.)

Most contentious perhaps is the question of immigration. Does “free trade” require the movement of people as freely as goods and services? This is generally accepted as self-evident by purist “free traders”. Yet there is no logic to the claim. Economic forms are made for men not men for economic forms. We know as a matter of practical experience it is possible to have the exchange of goods and services without the mass movement of people. If a society decides that the benefit gained from the free movement of people is outweighed by the social disruption caused by such migration, it is a perfectly rational decision. A people may decide that they will have or not have free exchange or movement just as they may decide to have this or that level of taxation or welfare provision. It makes no more sense to say a society which restricts immigration – which all advanced states in practice do – is not a “free trader” than to say they are not a “free trader” because their income tax rate is higher or lower than that of their competitors.

The treatment of human labour as merely a factor of production (along with land and capital) is also incompatible with the liberal democratic tenets of the equal worth of each person and the rights and obligations of citizens. Allowing mass immigration to reduce wages or the exporting of jobs to cheaper labour overseas is treating human beings as being of no more account than inanimate objects. It is inhuman.

So what does “free trade” actually mean? Does it require merely that countries may trade with one another without any formal barriers such as tariffs and quotas? Or should it take into account all those items such as national tax regimes, non-tax fiscal measures, wage rates (where these are set by the state), standards of practice and manufacture (official and otherwise), and the size of the public sector. All of these are controllable either entirely or to some degree by men. In other words, they could be removed or altered.

If a definition of “free trade” is accepted which includes these and other non-traditional elements of market distortion, the ultimate logic of the definition is that “free trade” as a global concept cannot exist until all peoples and countries are reduced or elevated to the same general economic condition.

Those who run the European Union would say that is precisely what is required, at least within the EU. But the experience of trying to create unified trading conditions at a supranational level in the most advanced of supranational political and economic entities, demonstrates just how difficult it is to create a supranational market in which there is a broad uniformity in the trading conditions within its constituent national parts. Despite nearly half a century of trying through treaty after treaty and the covering of the EU members with an avalanche of EU directives, there is no meaningful economic uniformity within the EU, either in the circumstances of private enterprise competition or in the function of the state. The introduction of the Euro has painfully revealed exactly how disparate the economies of even the richer EU states still are with Germany needing low interest rates to re-inflate and Italy requiring high rates to control public spending and the European Central Bank paralysed by their inability to square such an economic circle.

The Holy Grail of “free traders” is comparative advantage. This is a first rate example of a neat and emotionally satisfying (to a certain type of mind) intellectual idea which bears little relation to reality. The idea is that every country concentrates on making what it is best at and the overall global product rises because of increased efficiency. Even in theory this is rather dubious because it ignores every other aspect of society than a narrow view of economic relationships and assumes tacitly that a comparative advantage will last. David Landes in his The Wealth and Poverty of Nations (Little, Brown and Co 1998) cites the instance of the Englishman John Borrow, who in 1840 urged the states of the German Zollverin to concentrate on growing wheat, and sell it to buy British manufactures and comments: “This was a sublime example of economic good sense: but Germany would have been the poorer for it. Today’s comparative advantage…may not be tomorrow’s.”

The truth is that any definition of “free trade” is as subjective as that of a “free market”. It has no natural boundaries because the implications of both ultimately embrace the whole of human material endeavour and there are no true natural variables on which to base a definition – even those which might at first glance appear to be objectively and naturally set, such as wages and prices, are determined by matters other than the market, for example tax regimes and welfare provision.

8. Has “free trade” ever been practised?

Between 1860 and 1914 Britain operated the best approximation to “free-trade” the world has seen. In the period 1840-1870 not only did she by degrees open her markets to all regardless of whether other countries reciprocated, but the size of the British state was so tiny that the distortions of government expenditure and taxation were minuscule compared with the present day. But achieving the best approximation to “free trade” was not difficult to achieve because no other country of any size has ever seriously attempted it for any length of time.

For a quarter or a century or so, Britain got away with the ill-effects of being a reckless “free trader” whilst other major countries remained protectionist to varying degrees. She escaped the consequences for three prime reasons: Britain’s industrial dominance, long distance transport of bulk goods remained cumbersome and expensive and the fact that America and Europe were strangely slow to follow Britain’s example and industrialise.

That all changed in the 1870s. Bulk transport was becoming much easier and cheaper. Railways – ironically more often than not built with British capital and technical expertise – had begun to have a considerable influence on the continent and in America and were beginning to snake across Australia and South America. Perhaps most importantly the age of the practical steamship and refrigeration arrived. Manufactured goods, food and raw materials could now move around the world in volumes which dwarfed anything which had gone before. British farmers were especially badly hit when the Americas and Australasia flooded the British market with food and wool.

To these developments, and arguably in part as a consequence of them, there was a widespread retreat into a deep protectionism in the 1870s, most notably by the USA and Germany. Britain failed to respond to these developments by guarding her own markets.

The period of 1870-1914 saw the predictable results of Britain’s quixotic refusal to guard her markets when all about her were assiduously doing so: she lost her general industrial predominance, well nigh destroyed her farmers and failed to dominate vital new industries, such as the chemical, which at one time she had led – Britain produced the first synthetic dye (Perkin 1856) and the first synthetic plastic (Parkes 1855). Two of the most enthusiastic protectionists, the USA and Germany, became the first to exceed Britain’s GDP.

Bismarck summed up what had happened in a speech in 1882 when he said: “I believe the whole theory of free trade to be wrong…England abolished protection after she had benefited from it to the fullest extent. That country used to have the strongest protective tariffs until it became so powerful under their protection that it could step out of those barriers like a gigantic athlete and challenge the world. Free trade is the weapon of the strongest nation, and England has become the strongest nation in the world owing to her capital, her iron, her coal, and her harbours and owing to her favourable geographical position. Nevertheless, she protected herself against foreign  competition with her exorbitant protective tariffs until her industries  became so powerful.”

But even the “free-trade” Britain practised was far from complete. Government contracts were generally given to British companies. Ditto municipal contracts. Moreover, there was a strong sense of patriotism in the country which, as with the present day Japanese, mitigated the effects of free-trade. Nor, of course, was there a WTO, EU or any other body to question and interfere with the internal economic workings of Britain such as taxation, interest rates or working conditions.

British “free trade” was further complicated by the existence of the Empire and a widespread imperial sentiment which created the opportunity and the desire to trade with members of the Empire rather than the rest of the world. It does not do to over-egg the effects of this because British trade with the world outside the Empire, especially the USA, always remained strong, but it undoubtedly significantly distorted British trade.

9. “Free trade” today

If “free trade” was a gigantic gamble for an industrially, commercially and politically dominant Britain in 1850, it is vastly riskier for any country now. Transport even after the arrival of railways and the steamship was still expensive, slow and cumbersome compared with now. The electric telegraph was the height of sophistication. Most parts of the world could not engage in international trade on their own terms because they were colonies, under the practical control of foreign powers or unindustrialised.

Today physical transport is fast and cheap. In place of the telegraph, we have the internet. Many countries have industrialised. The age of formal empires is over.

But there is more than political and technological change which makes a difference between our own time and the last outbreak of “free trade” mania. The “free trade” being advocated now is doctrinaire to the point of idiocy, namely the god of comparative advantage (the idea that each nation should concentrate on those products which are most profitable and forget the rest) is to be applied to everything, even (in the EU) to all public contracts, including those for weaponry. Childishly doctrinaire as they were as they played with their untried intellectual toy, even the most extreme “free traders” in the 1830s and 1840s saw that some parts of the economy could not be reasonably opened to competition for strategic reasons, military supplies being the prime case.

Let us suppose that we had a perfect “free trade” world now, a world in which there were no tariffs or quotas or embargoes or “standards” to meet; that all the artificial restraints on trade were removed; that no government subsidized productive employment in any way and all that remained to differentiate countries were market decided labour rates, carriage costs and the cost of nonproductive public works such as justice and the army. What then?

The consequences would be extremely dangerous for the West. Farmers in the First World would be on their knees and mass production of virtually anything in general demand would quickly become impossible because whatever a company’s efficiency, it simply would not be able to compete with labour which was a tenth or less of the cost of its own native workforce. All such countries could do is try to make high-value goods,

Even if the redundant working populations of the First World could find alternative employment, which is dubious, their countries would be left utterly at the mercy of those who now produced their food and most of the manufactured goods they consumed.

10. Does “free trade” deliver? The lessons of economic history

Free traders base their case primarily on the increase in prosperity which they believe will only come through increased global trade. The general answer to that claim is that Man does not live by bread alone. Moreover, even if there is a general rise in the global product at present, it does not necessarily follow that the same or better result could not be achieved by other means. The experience of all industrialised countries to date is that industrialisation is best achieved – perhaps can only be achieved by protecting the national economy. Indeed, there is a powerful logic in the idea that developing nations today require protection more than the early industrialising states because the early industrialising nations had little competition.

But even if it could be shown indubitably that the global product is increased more by “free trade” than by protection, it does not follow that it is in a particular country’s interest to adopt free trade. Consider the position in a national market which operates “free trade” within that market, but protects its trade and industry from foreign competition. Companies go bust if they do not compete. But successful companies take their place and continue to provide employment at broadly similar rates of pay. The logic of global “free trade” is that countries which cannot compete will go bust and not be replaced by others in the domestic market. There will be no replacement jobs within the bankrupt country because the successful competitor is abroad.

The most lethal ammunition to discharge at “free traders” is the fact that no country in the history of the world has industrialised successfully without very strong protectionist measures being in place. That includes the first industrial nation, Britain, which spent a couple of cosy centuries behind the Navigation Acts, the first of which was passed in 1651, before becoming a free trader. Not only that, but Britain only adopted “free trade” principles after she had become heavily industrialised and did so at a time when the country was still the dominant industrial power in the world by a long chalk and her exports were more or less guaranteed to sell in foreign markets.

Before Britain dropped her old colonial protectionist system in the mid 19th Century, she had industrialised in the modern sense from scratch and expanded her GDP massively. Perhaps most impressively she had managed to continue to largely feed herself without the price of corn going sky high, despite the fact that the UK population almost doubled between 1801 (the first Census) and the repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846.

As described above, Britain’s experience during her most committed “free trading” period was one of declining market share and commercial and industrial dominance while rigid protectionists such as Germany and the USA experienced massive growth. Of course, Britain could not hope to remain so dominant but her decline was remarkably rapid. In 1870 Britain was the richest country by GDP in the world: by 1914 both Germany and the USA had larger GDPs. Moreover, by religiously adopting open markets, for capital as well as goods and services, Britain seriously distorted her economy. Vast capital exports resulted in underinvestment in Britain and foreigners manufacturers and traders took full advantage of Britain’s open doors. The result was that by the Great War in 1914 her farmers were on their knees and modern industries such as the chemical and pharmaceutical were sadly undeveloped because of foreign competition (this distortion of the economy was soon to be a great national embarrassment during wartime when many industries were found to be inadequate to replace imported goods).

Here is a German voice from 1913: “By its free trade policy England has been more useful to us than its numerous political machinations have been harmful to us. Where would our sugar industry – one of the first items to help us in our economical rise – have been today, or our textile and iron industries, had it not been for the free markets of England? Nowhere: we should have been entirely without our new German capital, our financial resources. On the back of free trade England we grasped at and secured our economical world-power….Industrial and political supremacy go together. Warships are machines, and the nation which succeeds in attracting the centre of capital is the nation that can afford to build most. The present rulers of England represent the fourth generation of dictators to the world. It will not be easy for them to give up the role of ‘primus inter pares'”. (Prof von Schulze-Gaevernitz quoted – p347 -in The fall of protection 1840-50 by Bernard Holland)

Britain limped on with “free trade” after the Great War until 1931 when the secular religion was abjured, at least temporarily, during the Great Depression. Although unemployment remained high by historical British standards until WW2, the British economy behind protectionist barriers recovered quickly compared with most of the rest of the world. Most interestingly, the newer high-tec industries such as the motor, chemical and electrical recovered and grew fastest following their protection.

From 1945 to the mid eighties of the last century at least, Britain continued in an essentially protectionist system, as did the rest of the world. The world economy grew strongly during the period despite the protection. Even within the EU the “free market” mania did not really get under way until the Single European Act of 1985.

It is true that since protectionist barriers have come down over the past 20 years economic growth has been strong in the First World, but then it has been strong behind protectionist barriers and, indeed, with state direction of the domestic market. Germany under Hitler in the 1930s recovered amazingly quickly, despite the fact that the Nazis pursued an economic course which was probably as close to autarky as it is possible for a major modern state to bear. Imports and exports were regulated according to what was perceived to be necessary to make Germany strong through self-sufficiency. What Hitler did not do was attempt to run industry directly. Instead, the Nazis allowed private enterprise to run commerce and industry whilst directing what was produced and supplied.

All that tells us three things: that “free trade” is not necessary for rapid economic growth, that state regulation of the domestic market and international trade is not a recipe for disaster and that being a “free trader” when the rest of the world is not reciprocating is a mug’s game.

11. Is society materially enriched by “free markets” and “free trade?

This is an impossible question to answer categorically because there is no way knowing what would have happened if protectionism had remained full blooded throughout the last century and a half. One can compare growth rates under stronger or looser protection regimes, but they really say little because the other determining factors such as public expenditure have varied so greatly. These variables also blur judgement about the comparative merits of controlled and “free” domestic markets.

The most certain thing one can say from the economic experience of the developed world is that governments running commercial industries such as coal and steel directly is generally a mistake. (Governments are the natural suppliers of universal services such as healthcare only because private provision of such things is never adequate.)

What is certain is the fact that the material effects of “free trade” are far from uniform. It is no consolation to those who suffer along the way that others may benefit from their disadvantage. The next generation or the generation after that may be richer but why should their benefit be brought at the cost of disadvantaging a prior generation? Certainly no politician or political party standing at an election would dare to do so on a platform of “we shall make many of you poorer to make future generations richer.” Those living at any point in time have their own moral context and needs.

The constant economic turmoil caused by “free trade” and its inevitable concomitant, the supranational corporation, undeniably leads to  circumstances which greatly disadvantage large swathes of the population in the First World through the removal of First World jobs to the rest of the world. At worst, these people become the perpetual victims of structural unemployment (try getting a job in an area where the main employer closes and you have no scarce or easily transferable skills or you are middle-aged or, indeed, try opening a new business or becoming self-employed in a depressed economy): at best they are driven into ill-paid and uncertain employment.

 12. What is meant by material enrichment? Britain as a case study

The assumption is that the material conditions for most have improved considerably over the past two hundred years. Any economics textbook will plot economic improvement in terms of rising real wages. But those supposedly rising real wages are based on measures which are often questionable, incomplete or derived from very narrow data such as corn prices. Even modern measures such as the Retail Price Index (RPI) are not static, their content and weighting being regularly revised. Nor do such measures fully represent the true costs of necessities, the most notable distortion in Britain being the failure of the Retail Price Index (and its successor index the Consumer Price Index) to reflect housing costs fully. Any comparison between different times based on such measures needs to be treated with caution.

Of course no one in their right sense would question whether there has been massive material advance in the past two centuries. A more  interesting question in our context is whether most people are materially better off now than they were in 1960s, by which time a fully fledged welfare state was bedded in, housing, both owned and rented, was reasonably priced, social housing was being built in massive quantities, university education was not merely free but students subsidized with grants, unemployment was tiny and inflation low.

Today the welfare state is constantly under attack by the British political elite and in some areas such as NHS dentistry already seriously inadequate, while the state pension is much reduced as a fraction of the average wage following two decades of increases linked to the cost-of-living pegging rather than increases linked to the average national wage.

Housing of all sorts in most parts of the country is presently absurdly costly and social housing is greatly reduced through Right-To-Buy and minimal new building since the 1980s.

The cost of university education is rocketing and grants are a distant memory.

Unemployment remains high today (2005) even by the official figures –  approximately 950,000 by the claimant count and around 1.5 million by  the most widely used international measure – figures which most  probably severely understate the real unemployment level because it ignores the considerable disguised unemployment within the 2 to 3  million people currently on long term sick benefit payments (the 1980  figure for such people was 600,000). The increase in those staying on at school after the age of 16 and going on to university has also reduced the present figures by taking hundreds of thousands out of the jobs  market for years. From 1945 to the late seventies unemployment never rose above a million on the official claimant count and for most of the time was considerably lower even with little disguised unemployment and far fewer people staying in education after the school-leaving age (which was only 15 until the mid sixties).

There are other fundamental social changes which bear upon the material state of the nation. Many more people today have to travel long distances to work than they did forty or fifty years ago. That is costly both in terms of fares and time. More generally, it is increasingly difficult for someone on the average wage to support a family on that wage. That often means both parents have to work not from choice but necessity.

Taxation bears much more heavily on the poorer part of the population now than it did in the past. Direct taxation – income tax, national insurance, inheritance duty – applies to many more people now than it did in 1960, primarily because a failure to maintain personal allowances and tax bands at a reasonable level. Direct taxation is also broader in scope, for example VAT compared to purchase tax. Such taxation takes proportionately more of the income of the poor than the rich.

It is a moot point whether overall people are generally materially better off than they in 1960. They may own more trinkets such as TVs and computers and some imported goods such as clothes may be at least much cheaper, but those are small advantages to set against the great increase in housing costs and commuting fares and the diminishment in social provision. Doubtless a section of society has benefited, but it would be a brave man who wanted to argue that the condition of the vast  majority has improved, especially the poorest third of the population.

Many will read this with astonishment, saying but we have so much more today, dazzled as they are by the many new products. It is important not to confuse technological advance with “free markets” and “free trade” or general material wellbeing. People are undoubtedly better off in 2005 in terms of being able to purchase such things as cars or electronic goods then they were in 1960. But people in 1975 were also better off in those respects than those who had lived fifteen years before. That improvement was long before “free markets” and “free trade” had become the elite ideology. It is worth adding that new products often result in additional expenditure regardless of whether the individual really wants the product – any product which becomes widely used is difficult to resist. Technological innovations are particularly prone to induce reluctant purchases.

13. How the market fails to provide what the customer wants

There is no better modern example of the market failing to provide what the customer both needs and wants than the computer industry. If it was driven by the customer, the computer industry would produce hardware and software which was easy to install, had continuity of use, was simple to use and was supported by adequate help lines and manuals. The industry signally fails to do any of these things.

Hardware and software are of course purchased in ever greater volume and computer services, including maintenance, continue to swell. But that is not an indication of customer satisfaction. Rather, it is simply a reflection of how computers have become an inescapable part of our lives, not only as obvious computers but also in the guise of so many of the other machines we use – everything from phones to intelligent clothes. Business and public administration have become so dependent on their use that they cannot do without them. That being so, whatever is on offer, however unsatisfactory, is bought out of sheer necessity. The computer companies have the modern world over a barrel.

It might be objected that although most people cannot completely escape computers at their work, they do not have to bring them into their private lives. Yet increasing numbers buy computers for private use.

Why do they do that if the machines are so unreliable and demanding? Simple: once a significant minority have private computers and business uses them very widely, it becomes very difficult for the rest to resist,  not least because businesses and government increasingly require those dealing with them to do so by computer. But there are other pressures as well.

We have long passed the point where a handwritten document is likely to be read by most people in business unless it is an order or payment. Now, except between social contacts, everything must be word-processed to be acceptable. A word processor or access to one has become a sine qua non for anyone who wishes to be taken seriously. Even amongst private individuals a letter is increasingly seen as unusual or even quaint.

With emails, we have not come to the stage that telephone ownership reached a quarter of a century ago when not to have a phone became considered eccentric, but we are rapidly moving towards it.

Employers increasingly wish to contact employees by email wherever they are and this means the choice is often between having a computer and email at home or not having a job.

Those with school age children, whatever they think of computers, find it next to impossible to deny their children not only a computer but access to the internet, both because the children want it to match their peers and because they have been brainwashed into believing that a computer is essential.

In short, people are increasingly being driven to become computer owners and users not because they actively want to, but because they feel isolated and excluded if they remain computerless. Again, as with the analogy between telephones and emails, within the foreseeable future, someone without a computer is in danger of becoming in the eyes of the majority as much as an oddity as someone without a TV is now considered.

14. Relative poverty, wealth and power

Even if most people or even all people were in absolute terms better off as a consequence “free trade”, that does not mean that their general situation has improved in power terms.

Wealth is not merely an advantage for what it can directly buy but also for the power it brings. The poor are doubly disadvantaged by their poverty by their restricted ability to purchase what they want and their subordination to those who can purchase anything they desire. Consequently, the ordinary man or woman may well be happier and freer in a society which is materially poorer overall but which is less oppressive through the absence of great differences in wealth. Charles Darwin in the Voyage of the Beagle describes a port in South America which suffered an earthquake while the Beagle was there in harbour. The town attached to the port was virtually destroyed and its inhabitants were reduced at least temporarily to the same material level. Darwin noted the happiness, almost gaiety, of the population after this happened.

The example of Britain is instructive when it comes to relative wealth. Until the 1970s inequalities in wealth were narrowing. Despite all the puffing of the “trickle down” of wealth which supposedly results from Thatcherite “free market” practices, wealth distribution has not changed dramatically over the past quarter century of “free market” policies by successive British governments.

A Royal Commission (1976-79) on the distribution of income and wealth found that in 1976 the top 1 per cent of the population owned 25% of all personal wealth, the top ten percent raked in 60% and the bottom eighty per cent had a measly 23% (Penguin Dictionary of Sociology p72). The Inland Revenue figures for wealth distribution in 2002 are show the top 1 per cent own 23% of national wealth and the bottom fifty per cent of the population have a staggeringly small 6% (Office of National Statistics (ONS) website – published 2004). Those figures, eye-opening as they are, conceal the fact that wealth inequality in 2002 would be much greater than 1976 were it not for the increase in home ownership and the rise in house prices.

Another ONS report (2005) entitled “The long shadow of childhood” (TLSOC) based on research by the London School of Economics concludes that there has been remarkably little change in social mobility in Britain over the past 30 years. The study was based on census records between 1971 and 2001.

TLSOC also demonstrated how the social and economic status of children is very much tied to that of the parents. For example, more than two thirds of those with parents in professional or managerial jobs managed to take a degree: of those with semi-skilled/unskilled parents, 14 per cent had a degree.

15. Man does not live by bread alone

Even if the “free traders'” claims of an overall increase in the wealth of a society were true, there would still be strong arguments against the policy because a society is more than its crude economic relationships.

Human beings do not like too much uncertainty. A certain amount of stress is good for them, but only so much. Like masochists and physical pain, human beings are comfortable with stress only in so far as they feel it is within their control. Manifestly, for many people the uncertainty they experience is utterly outside their control. This widespread insecurity leads not merely to individual suffering but damages the social fabric by generally diminishing confidence in the future and the ability to cope in the here and now.

A 2005 study (Molly Watson Western Mail 31 9 2005) by a Cardiff University Department of Psychology team led by Prof Aylward Mansel suggests that the general level of happiness in the Depression was greater than it is now (the team analysed data from surveys of assessing happiness and contentment from the past 70 years.) This conclusion might seem absurd to most people living today who, if they have any conception of the Depression, it is one of a dire time packed with the most horrendous stress. Yet the findings of the report have a certain plausibility because in the 1930s there was undoubtedly a greater sense of social solidarity, especially amongst the working class, than there is now and civil society was far stronger then – the working class not only lived in close-knit communities which offered support to those who fell on hard times, but they were woven into supportive institutions such as the co-operative movement and unions. They were anything but socially isolated whereas today people are often isolated. Social involvement, the Cardiff University study found, was the single most important cause of happiness or unhappiness.

One must be cautious with such studies because however scrupulous the researchers a degree of subjectivity is inevitable. Nonetheless the equation of isolation with unhappiness will, I think, strike a strong chord with most.

There is also the question of a people’s self-confidence. If a nation’s visible and everyday manufactures are predominantly foreign, it tends to produce a sense of dependence in the individual. A man looks around and can find next to nothing he can identify as produced either in his own country or made by companies owned by his countrymen. Not unnaturally he begins to lose confidence in the ability of his own country to stand alone. Peoples throughout history have allowed themselves to be conquered simply because they believed themselves to be generally inferior to those who confronted them and slaves have been routinely controlled by owners who deliberately attempted to reinforce their sense of inferiority.

16. Geopolitics

Free trade is postulated on an absurdity, namely that the world will no longer see wars which will significantly disrupt trade, or at least the trade of the First World. It is a fool’s paradise.

Those with memories greater than that of a goldfish may recall the help and support Britain received from her supposed EU “partners” in the Falklands. Remember how France supplied military equipment in the form of missiles to the Argentine during that war. Imagine what would have happened if Britain at the time had relied largely on equipment which was either wholly or partly produced abroad. Suppose, for example, her main fighter aircraft had been produced by an EU consortium (as it soon will be), what guarantee could Britain have had of fresh supplies of spare parts and weapons during the Falklands war?

The dependence on foreign suppliers affects even the greatest states. The New York Times (29 Sept 2005 – “More US weapons have foreign roots”) documents the reliance of the US military on foreign suppliers. This is still small as a percentage of the whole defence budget but it is growing and already encompasses important areas such as bio-chemical warfare protective suits.

17. The democratic deficit

“Free trade” emasculates democracy. It does this by confining politics within narrow limits. The present “free trade” agreements mean that no political party can easily stand on a platform of extending state intervention, whether by nationalisation, trade restrictions such as embargoes or the subsidy of its own industries. A party which wished to do any of these things could of course propose to withdraw from the treaties, but that would be in practice a very difficult course to follow, especially where the treaty obligations go beyond mere trade such as those involved in membership of the European Union.

Loss of democratic control is obviously to the disadvantage of the masses. However, it also has implications for competition. The prevention of the formation of monopolies and cartels can be done at the national level, but it is impossible when companies become supranational. You offend against America’s anti-trust laws? No problem, you remove your manufacturing abroad to countries which are happy to have you (or at least their clients are) regardless of what arrangements you may have made with competitors or the any monopoly position.

18. Does “free trade” increase competition and choice in the long run?

In the industrialised world at least, the experience of less restricted trade since 1945 is that competition has reduced not merely in the capital intensive industries and occupations but in those which are not obvious. The numbers of farmers has greatly contracted, but so have the number of storekeepers as chain stores and supermarkets have overwhelmed the individual proprietor. In fact, it is difficult, perhaps impossible, to find a mature field of economic activity, that is ,  one which has not sprung up since 1945, which has not displayed reduced competition within the post-war period.

Some of this reduction in competition is simply due to the working of the domestic market towards monopoly, for example, the growth of chain stores, but much of it is directly related to the removal of protection for First World economies.

It is true that large parts of the world have industrialised and increased the number of international competitors, but the overall number of businesses in the developed world has been reduced. multinationals control much of the economic activity of the Third World and, in some industries, dominate the national markets of the First World.

The car industry is a wonderful example of the squeezing of competition. All over the world car companies are being taken over by the giants and many car companies which do exist rely on state aid and favours. The number of companies now being small (and becoming smaller) compared with the number even 40 years ago. Moreover, many of the car companies which do still exist do so only because of state subsidy and protection.

Other traditionally important industries where competition is greatly reduced are aerospace, aviation, shipbuilding, oil, chemicals, steel and farming.

19. The reality of our economic circumstances

What we have does not even fall within the arbitrary and narrow definitions of “free markets” and “free trade” which most of their adherents espouse. States still protect their economies with state subsidies, favourable tax regimes, quotas and tariffs. Nonetheless, protectionist barriers have been reduced sufficiently to severely damage first world industries through products from the developing world with their absence of labour laws and wages many times less than those of developed economies.

First World economies have also exported vast numbers of jobs to the developing world. These range from manufacturing to skilled white collar work such many IT functions. The old middle-class belief that they were immune from the effects of globalisation has received a rude buffeting.

At the same time as jobs and industries have been exported, the industrialised world has increasingly allowed the purchase of native companies by foreigners. Perhaps the most dramatic example of this has been the complete transfer of London merchant banks to foreign ownership.

The fourth strand in the modern “free trade” web is immigration. Since 1945, with the exception of Japan, the First World has allowed through a mixture of design and neglect of border controls, vast numbers of immigrants into their territories, most of whom have been unskilled or low-skilled.

The primary consequences of the slowly evolving post war international economic regime have been two. The first has been the gradual growth of dependence on the imports of vital goods and services by the developed world and a loss of governmental control of companies within their borders, not least because any large multi-national can hold the threat of upping sticks to another country if a government does not play ball.

The second consequence has been the degradation of the economic circumstances of those whose jobs were most at threat from the internationalisation of trade. Those affected are mainly the poorer and less qualified workers and their dependents. They have found their opportunities for work much reduced and the pay and conditions for the suitable work which remains eroded by extra competition from both native workers chasing fewer jobs and immigrants competing for the same jobs.

Those whose jobs opportunities have been degraded have suffered a form of theft. Had mass immigration and the export of jobs been prevented, the wages for the jobs taken by immigrants would have been higher than they are when subjected to the additional competition of immigrant labour and the exported jobs would not have been exported, which in itself would have tightened the labour market. In societies of rising aspiration, this could result in jobs considered menial being better rewarded than those which enjoy high status under “free trade” circumstances. It might be necessary to pay a sewage worker as much as a doctor. Doubtless many would throw their hands up at this. But there is no logic to such a response, because in a society with a large private enterprise component a wage is simply a response to the value the market puts on a job. Unskilled workers may not earn as much as the average doctor or lawyer at present, but skilled tradesmen such as plumbers and builders often do.

20. Why elites are so keen on “free markets” and “free trade”

“I just think that a lot of modern corporate capitalists — the managerial class basically — has no loyalty to any country anymore, or any particular values other than the bottom line.” (Pat Buchanan quoted by Daniel Brandt in his article “Class Warfare” in issue 13 of Namebase Newsline -http//www.namebase.org/news13.html).

Buchanan is grasping a demon which he only dimly apprehends. What is happening is vastly more significant. We are presently witnessing the creation of an international class of plutocrats who care for nothing but their own class. They have the potential to form a true international aristocracy. If that happens, the imperfect democratic control the masses have been able to exert over their elites in the past century will end. The prime tool for the creation of such an international aristocracy is “free trade”.

There are parts of Western elites which are more or less reluctant to embrace “free markets” and “free trade”, but the general economic trend is clear: the internationalist, globalist creed is the dominant philosophy when it comes to trade and increasingly the idea of “free markets” in the domestic sphere is being accepted in practice if not in overt political policy.

Why have these elites moved from their previous socially oriented nationalism to internationalism? The answer to this question reveals the nature both of elites generally and the particular philosophy they currently support.

In most circumstances throughout history the wishes of the mass of a population have been of little or no account in any formal sense. The masses made their presence felt through rioting and social disturbance or as pawns in the service of elite members who wished to rebel. An elite took note only when they were frightened enough – the creation of a form of national public assistance by the Poor Law of 1601 is a classic example of such behaviour.

Eventually, representative government evolved to the point where the masses began to have a direct say in the political process through the vote. The elite as a group did not welcome this but felt it could not be resisted. It was not democracy to be sure but elective oligarchy, which was buttressed by elite constructed devices to exclude new entrants into the political process such as first past the post voting, election deposits and a very strong party system. Nonetheless, once the franchise was broadened the masses were able to exercise a large degree of democratic control because politics was still national and a political party had to respond to the electors’ wishes. The elite resented this control over their behaviour as all elites do and looked around for a way to diminish democratic influence. They found the means to do it through internationalism.

In a sovereign country elected politicians cannot readily say this or that cannot be done if it is practical to do whatever it is. That is a considerable block on elite misbehaviour. So elites decided that the way round this unfortunate fact was to commit to treaties which would remove the opportunity for the electorate to exercise control. The most notable example is the Treaty of Rome and the subsequent treaties which have tied Britain into the EU.

Vast swathes of policy are no longer within the control of the British Parliament because of these treaties. Add in the treaties tying Britain to the UN and the WTO and the commitment of every mainstream British party to them, and democratic control has essentially gone.

But internationalism is not simply a bureaucratic elite device to weaken democratic control, it is a sociological event in itself. An elite thinks of itself as a separate group, a group which may in some circumstances extend beyond national boundaries and jurisdictions. The medieval aristocracies of Western Europe thought themselves part of a chivalric whole. When Charles I of Egland was executed in 1649 the monarchs of Europe were horrified because they thought it would set an example for other royal killings.

The ruling elites in the First World today have a class interest which binds them more closely to one another than to the people they rule. Indeed, there is arguably a greater sense of international elite solidarity than ever before. This is because modern communications allow people, goods and ideas to move with an unmatched ease. Because of this the international class can constantly revitalise and extend their group solidarity.

The advantage to the elites of this culturally based international solidarity underwritten by many personal elite relationships across national boundaries, is that it allows them to weaken even further their dependence upon their immediate (native) populations, because not only does a particular national elite have a ready made excuse for not doing something – our treaty obligations will not permit it – but the personal relationships and the growing sense of class solidarity increases the confidence and hence the willingness of the various national elites to act ever more in the international elite class interest.

Indeed, the more they are together and the more they act together, the more natural it will seem.

It is important to understand that elites are not engaged as a group in a conscious conspiracy against the masses. What happens is that the psychological and sociological forces which press upon us all lead the elite to adopt policies which always lead to their retention of power. It is not difficult to see how this happens.

All human beings have a powerful ability to write a narrative in their heads which will persuade them that they act not from self-serving or disreputable reasons but honourable and socially useful ones. The consequence of this is that while individual members of an elite will consciously comprehend the likely effect of their ideology, the majority will simply accept their ideology at face value. This helps to bolster and stabilise the elite’s position because no elite ideology ever overtly states that the masses will be disadvantaged if the ideology is followed, and in the case of formal democracies, the ideology positively claims to materially better society as a whole. This will emotionally reassure most elite members, who will bolster their acceptance of the ideology through inter-elite conversations – if most or all those in a group are positive about something, that is most powerful social reinforcer.

21. A sane alternative to globalism

Economic history suggests that the most effective general strategy to promote economic development in a country is to allow competition within the domestic market (where it does not create serious social discord) whilst regulating international trade through protectionist measures sufficient to maintain the general capacity of a country to point where it can maintain itself in an emergency such as war or blockade and be sovereign in most circumstances.This would require the judicious use of embargoes, tariffs and quotas to ensure that all the vital industries remain as a presence in Britain.

A few industries should be in principle wholly supplied from the British market. These are defence equipment and the various energy sources. The reasons for defence equipment provision being domestic are simple: any foreign supplier can cease to supply goods for political reasons or simply be unable to produce the goods when wanted at all or in sufficient quantities.

Energy supplies should be domestic because if they fail the whole of society is brought to a halt. Self-sufficiency in energy in any advanced country could be achieved in the medium term by nuclear power supplemented perhaps by new sources of energy such as wave and current power and bio-fuels.

A country should also build up a stockpile of essential materials such as metals and the minerals used in the chemical industry. Five years national supply should be a minimum.

A country should be able to feed its population from its own production at a pinch. In Britain this is possible with modern crop yields and animal husbandry. Crop yields are considerably greater than they were even in WW2 and the opportunities for increasing the volume of animal products have multiplied greatly over the past 60 years, for example, in the massive development of poultry farming since 1945.

75% of the market in every other vital industry should be reserved for the domestic market. What is a “vital industry”? Try these for starters: metal (especially steel), chemical, biotech, computers, robotics, motor vehicles, shipping, aerospace, clothing, building, machine tools.

I would also reserve to domestic production at least 25% of the market for goods that are useful but not vital to provide a base for an expanded home production in times of emergency. Trade in wholeheartedly nonessential goods – Christmas trees, pogo sticks and suchlike – could be “free”.

I am not arguing for autarky. What I am advocating are trading circumstances which allow a nation to defend its national interests, particularly in time of war or international crisis. The measures I propose would produce self-sufficiency in food where necessary, the maintenance of the ability to manufacture a complete range industrial goods and most importantly the maintenance of an arms industry which can produce a full range of weapons necessary for the defence of the country.

Such a system would provide the security the state requires and permit very substantial international trade even in essential goods.

Obviously such a regime could not be followed in its entirety by most states. However, all could exist within those parts of it suited to their circumstances, for example, Britain could manage the entire regime, many third world countries could be self-sufficient in food.

22. “Free markets” and “free trade” as a religion

Free marketeers fancy themselves to be rational, calculating beasts. In reality, their adoration of the market is essentially religious. They believe that it will solve all economic ills, if not immediately, then in the medium to long term. Armed with this supposed objective truth, they proselytize about the moral evils and inefficiencies of public service and the wondrous efficiency and ethical outcomes of private enterprise regardless of the practical effects of their policies or the frequent misbehaviour of those in command of large private companies. Their approach is essentially that of the religious believer.

Like the majority of religious believers, “free marketeers and traders” are none too certain of the theology of their religion. (I am always struck by how many of them lack a grasp of even basic economic theory and are almost invariably wholly ignorant of economic history). They recite their economic catechism sublime in the concrete of their ignorance.

The religion has its roots in the first half of the 18th century when there were occasional attempts to suggest tariff reform, but the idea only became a serious political policy in the 1780s with the advent of Pitt the Younger as Prime Minister in 1784 who long toyed with “economical reform”.

The 18th century also provided the religion with its holy book, The Wealth of Nations by the Scottish philosopher and economist Adam Smith. This strongly argued for “free markets” and “free trade”, but Smith also recognised the demands of national security, the need for government to engage in social provision such as road building and maintenance which would not otherwise be done and, must importantly, the nature of a society and its economy. Here is Smith on the Navigation Acts: “…the Act of Navigation by diminishing the number of buyers; and we are thus likely not only to buy foreign goods dearer, but to sell our own cheaper, than if there were a more perfect freedom of trade. As defence, however, is of much more importance than opulence, the Act of Navigation is, perhaps, the wisestof all the commercial regulations of England.” (Wealth of Nations Bk IV. ch ii)

But Smith and his book suffered the fate of all those who found religions, secular or otherwise. As the decades passed Smith’s cautious approach was redrawn in the minds of his disciples to become a surgically “clean” mechanical ideology in which all that mattered was the pursuit of profit and the growth of trade and industry through the application of the “holy edicts” of open markets and comparative dvantage. The disciples, like other religious believers, avidly quoted the passages from their holy book which suited their purposes and ignored those which did not. They also found a further holy text in homas Malthus’ Essay on Population of 1802, whose predictions, although unproven by events, could be used to demonstrate that economic expansion was vital if widespread starvation was not to occur.

The clinical, soulless and inhuman nature of the laissez faire idea as it evolved is exemplified by the English economist David Ricardo. Here is a flavour of his mindset: “Under a system of perfectly free commerce each country naturally devotes its capital and labour to such employments as are most beneficial to both. The pursuit of individual advantage is admirably connected with the universal good of the whole. By stimulating industry, and by using most efficaciously the peculiar powers bestowed by nature, it distributes labour most economically, while increasing the general mass of the production it diffuses general benefits, and binds together by one common tie of interest and intercourse the universal society of nations”. (David Ricardo in The fall of protection p 174).

The Napoleonic wars largely foiled Pitt’s wish for broad reform and placed “free trade” in suspended animation as a serious political idea until the 1820s, when cautious attempts at tariff reform again were made. But underneath the political elite was a radical class who were very much enamoured of wholesale economical reform. With the Great Reform Act of 1832 they were given their opportunity to become part of the political elite. They took it with both hands, their most notable and extreme proponents being John Bright and Richard Cobden backed by the intellectual power of David Ricardo – all three became MPs.

Within a dozen years of the first election under the Great Reform Act’s passing, Parliament had been captured by the disciples of Adam Smith and the pass on protection had been sold by of all people a Tory prime minister, Sir Robert Peel, an action which kept the Tories from power for most of the next 40 years.

Such was their religious credulity that the “free traders” advocated not merely opening up Britain’s markets, both at home and in the colonies, to nations who would allow Britain equivalent access to their markets, they advocated opening up Britain’s markets regardless of how other nations acted. The consequence was, as we have seen, disastrous for Britain.

Disraeli in a speech on 1st February 1849 cruelly dissected this insanity:” There are some who say that foreigners will not give us their production for nothing, and that therefore we have no occasion to concern ourselves as to the means and modes of repayment. There is no doubt that foreigners will not give us their goods without exchange for them; but the question is what are the terms of exchange most beneficial for us to adopt. You may glut markets, but the only effect of your attempt to struggle against the hostile tariffs by opening your ports is that you exchange more of your own labour each year for a less quantity of foreign labour, that you render British labour less efficient, that you degrade British labour, diminish profits, and, therefor, must lower wages; while philosophical enquirers have shown that you will finally effect a change in the distribution of the precious metals that must be pernicious and may be fatal to this country. It is for these reasons that all practical men are impressed with a conviction that you should adopt reciprocity as the principle of your tariff – not merely from practical experience, but as an abstract truth. This was the principle of the commercial negations at Utrecht – which were followed by Mr Pitt in his commercial negotiations at Paris – and which were wisely adopted and applied by the Cabinet of Lord Liverpool, but which were deserted flagrantly and unwisely in 1846″. (The fall of Protection pp 337/8″).

Ironically, the “free traders” make the same general errors as Marxists. They believe that everything stems from economics. For the neo-liberal the market has the same pseudo-mystical significance that the dialectic has for the Mar ist. Just as the Marxist sees the dialectic working inexorably through history to an eventual state of communism (or a reversion to barbarism to be exact), so the neo-liberal believes that the market will solve any economic problem and most social ills. Neither ideology works because it ignores the realityof human nature and its sociological realisation.

The one track economic mentality of the early “free traders” is well represented by the father of J S Mill, James Mill:”The benefit which is derived from exchanging one commodity for another arises from the ncommodity received rather than the from the commodity given. When one country exchanges, or in other words, traffics with another, the whole of its advantage consists of the in the commodities imported. It benefits by the importation and by nothing else. A protecting duty which, if it acts at all, limits imports, must limit exports likewise, checking and restraining national industry, thus diminishing national wealth.” (The fall of protection p 174). And to Hell with any social or strategic consideration or changing economic circumstances.

After the Great War and the fall of “free trade” as public policy in 1931, the religion went underground for nearly fifty years. When it re-emerged as a political idea in the 1970s the politicians who fell under its spell were every bit as unquestioning and credulous as those of the 1840s. Tony Blair’ statement on Globalisation, ie, free trade, at the 2005 Labour Party Conference shows that it is alive and kicking today.

Scorning any attempt to discuss Globalisation, Blair said of those who wished to oppose it “You might as well debate whether autumn should follow summer”. (Daily Telegraph 1 10 2005.)

None of this would matter very much now if those who believe in “free markets” and “free trade” were without political power. Unfortunately, theirs is the elite ideology of the moment and the past 25 years. In Britain, the Tories may be more fanatical in their devotion to the market as panacea, but Blairite Labour have caught more than a mild dose of the disease. A good example of this is their response to house price hyperinflation where they desperately and futilely attempt remedies within the constraints of what they perceive to be “free market” disciplines rather than opting for the obvious state generated remedies such as restricting immigration, building a great deal of social housing and forcing developers to release land for building.

Both the traditional Left and Right have been duped by globalisation. The Left initially welcomed globalisation as a dissolver of national sovereignty, but they are discovering by the day just how restrictive international treaties and membership of supra national groups can be. As things stand, through our membership of the EU and the World Trade Organisation treaties, no British government could introduce new socialist measures because they cannot nationalise companies, protect their own commerce and industry or even ensure that taxpayers’ money is spent in Britain with British firms. A British government can have any economic system they like provided it is largely free trade, free enterprise.

The Right are suffering the same sickness with different symptoms. They find that they are no longer masters in their own house and cannot meaningfully appeal to traditional national interests because treaties make that impossible.

But there is a significant difference between the position of the two sides. The traditional Right have simply been usurped by neo-Liberals in blue clothes: the traditional Left have been betrayed by a confusion in their ideology which has allowed their main political vehicles to be surreptitiously by the likes of Blair.

The left have historically objected to “free-trade” on the grounds that it destroys jobs and reduces wages. But what they (and especially the British Left) have rarely if ever done is walk upon the other two necessary planks in the anti-“free trade” platform: the maintenance of (1) national sovereignty and (2) a sense of national cohesion. The consequence is that the Left has been and are still struggling with two competing and mutually exclusive ends: internationalism and the material improvement of the mass of the people.

23. An elite ideology

The best way of judging any political ideology is to ask cui bono? (who benefits?) The obvious answer in the case of “free markets” and “free trade” are those who believe (with good reason) that they nor their dependants will never be amongst those who will suffer the ill-effects of free trade. These people are and will continue to be overwhelmingly drawn from the middle and upper classes for the same reasons that such classes have always maintained their superiority, namely that such people will have inherited wealth, social connections and superior opportunities for education which are denied to the majority.

The new international elite is neither left nor right. Its ideology is simply designed to promote the interests of the elite. It has aspects of right and left, but they are merely the policies which allow the elite to both disguise their true intention and to give a pseudo-moral camouflage to their ends. They speak of the internationalist equivalent of “motherhood and apple pie” with exhortations to “end world poverty” and fund a “war on disease worldwide”. If I had to find a term to describe this elite I think I would settle for neo-Fascist because so much of what is proposed is reminiscent of fascism.

It is also telling that Western businessmen who ostensibly support the idea of the positive effects of competition arising from “free markets” and “free trade” never want it for themselves. They always happily grab a state subsidy or an embargo if it is to their advantage. None of the US airlines had any hesitation in grabbing billions of dollars from the Federal government after 911. Large companies publicly complain of government regulation while secretly welcoming it because they can bear the cost of it more easily than their smaller competitors. Multinationals shamelessly play one country off against another in their search for massive subsidies and other favours before they deign to operate in a country.

Countries play the same game, cheating wherever they can. And the more powerful the state the greater the cheating, both in terms of helping particular industries with direct state aid and in the formulation of the treaties governing world trade. Hence, the USA presents itself as the ultimate champion of free enterprise whilst being both now and throughout its history one of the greatest of protectionists and state subsidisers of its industries – that it is seen widely as an enterprise society is one of the great propaganda triumphs of history. Its behaviour after 911 is symptomatic of the unequal nature of modern “free trade”.

The US not only handed, as mentioned above, billions to its ailing private airlines, but put up protective tariffs to protect its steel produces.

It was ever thus. The two greatest names of the early Industrial Revolution, Josiah Wedgewood and Matthew Boulton, were happy to climb on the Enlightenment bandwagon with its beliefs in the universality of Mankind and advocate lesser tariffs and freer trade -until the proposed freeing threatened their own businesses.

What goes for businessmen goes for the individual worker. Who has ever met someone whose job was threatened by “free trade” speaking in favour of it?

Abe Lincoln’s used to put this question to pro-slavers who said slavery was a boon for the slave because they were provided for and were free of normal responsibilities: “What is this good thing that no one wants for himself?” An equivalent question should be put to the “free traders”.

The truth is simple: “free markets” and “free trade” are simply part of an elite ideology and like all elite ideologies they serve the purposes of the elite first, second and last. Those not of the elite who espouse it act merely as useful idiots to promote the interests of the elite.

Opposition to globalisation should not be a Left or Right issue. The socialist and the Conservative should both resist it because it removes the ability of the electorate to control those with power and the power of their political movements to realise their ends.

Politically incorrect film reviews – The Millennium Trilogy

Robert Henderson

The girl with the dragon tattoo – the original and the US-remake

The girl who played with fire

The girl who stirred the hornets’ nest

These are the films made to date from  Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy.   I review them  in one fell swoop because there is only one reason to see them if you wish to be diverted  – and it is a very compelling one – the charismatic performance of  Noomi  Rapace as Lisbeth Salander in the three Swedish originals.  More of that later.

There is another less palatable reason to watch the films. They  are monuments to the grip that political correctness generally has on Sweden  and the peculiar place that feminism occupies in Sweden and Scandinavia generally.

The plots, such as they are, revolve around the type of fantasies the politically correct relish: we have the  remnants and descendants of a  Swedish Nazi group, one of whom, Martin Vanger,   engages in the rape and occult murder of women  as his father did before him;  the abusive and dishonest  machinations of  big business  as represented by billionaire financier Hans-Erik Wennerström; paedophilia amongst the rich and powerful  and  a dash of  security services mischief involving one-time Soviets agents, one of whom is Lisbeth’s father, Alexander Zalachenko.  There is even a Frankenstein monster of sorts, a man who cannot feel pain (Ronald Niedermann Lisbeth’s half-brother) .  In short, the storylines  are verging on the absurd.

Amongst these fantastic scenarios  Mikael Blomkvist, journalist and publisher at Millennium magazine,  weaves his investigative way as he seeks to  ruin Wennerstrom,  solve the mystery of a missing woman belonging to the Nazi-tainted Vanger family and expose sex-trafficking of minors, much of this being done through conversations of excruciating exercises in  political correctness with his fellow Millennium journos .

During the course of the three films Lisbeth   is variously forced to provide fellatio, anally raped,  shot and savagely beaten,  with  much of the mayhem being engineered by her father,  half-brother and her state provided  guardian – she is encumbered by the last because of her violent and disturbed past which has seen her spend much time in what in less politically correct times would be called lunatic asylums. Lisbeth  in return engages in much violence and other criminality, almost all of it directed at men.   This aspect of the films satisfies the feminist ideals of all men being potentially violent abusers of women and the ability of women  to strike back against their abusers.

The male characters who are not wearing the feminist version of black hats are required to behave towards  female characters with an insipid subordination.   Mikael Blomkvist must be the most uninspiring male lead in films,  an almost entirely  non-action man.  Even when he  does eventually become involved in action he is the victim.   Not so much an anti-hero but an anti-heroic.

There is also political correctness of an insidious nature.   About halfway through The Girl with the Dragon tattoo a suspicion began to form,  with The girl who played with fire the suspicion became a certainly and The  Girl who stirred the hornet’s nest merely provided confirmation of the certainty: women perform the same role in Swedish films that blacks  routinely perform in Hollywood productions. They are the formal authority figures, the lawyers,    the judges, and , God help us, the  leader of a police Swat team, are women.

In short, this is the hardcore feminist fantasy made flesh with men portrayed either as potential rapists and abusers of women generally (the title of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in Swedish is Män som hatar kvinnor–literally–men who hate women) or timid, one dimensional wimps who not only   bow down before the dictates of political correctness,  but who have become feminised by decades of feminist propaganda and political intervention to enforce the mentality.  All very interesting when one reflects on the author of the 2011 Norwegian killing spree Anders Breivik’s complaint about the feminised nature of Norwegian society. On the evidence of  these films the same could be said of Sweden.

The films are saved by a single great performance. Orson Welles does this in Citizen Kane when even that fine actor Joseph Cotton is reduced to a cypher;   Gangs of New York are saved by Daniel Day-Lewis’s Bill the Butcher;  Drive is held together solely by Ryan Gosling’s startling  talent for violence.   Noomi  Rapace  does it with the character of Lisbeth Salmander , a young woman  who is set apart, whether by a disturbed  past or innate qualities, from other people. Her behaviour is autistic. She cannot readily connect with people or understand  the normal rules of  social engagement.  At the same time she is highly intelligent and immensely resourceful.  The consequence is that  she combines heroic self-sufficiency with  a terrible vulnerability . A man playing such a role probably would not be sympathetic but an attractive young woman is.

There is another quality Lisbeth has which is immensely  magnetic.   It is her will to action. There is something  heroic about a character who  meets circumstances head on and instead of dithering or running away from trouble simply responds with action.  Lee Marvin as Walker in Point Blank and Uma Thurman in Kill Bill part I are other prime examples of such characters.    Her determination and courage is in stark contrast to the vanilla quality of  Blomkvist and his ilk.  When she is removed from the action sequences  (after being  shot  at the end of the second film), the consequence is that the final part of the trilogy is by far the weakest of the three. Lisbeth needs freedom to express herself.

The American remake of The girl with the dragon tattoo is in some ways better than the original, most notably the acting overall  is much stronger – Stellen Skaarsgard is especially good as the serial killer Martin Vanger, mixing an overt affability with an underlying menace.  Rooney Mara captures the self-contained distance and the will to action of the character well,  but  lacks Rapace’s vulnerability. That changes the mood of the film.

Recommended  recent Films

Shame – something of Sidney Carton in the Michael Fassbinder  role, a man of parts who is simply squandering his talent on an empty life.

Rampart – Woody Harrelson plays Dave Brown, a wondrously politically  incorrect cop. Dirty Harry without the ideals.

A Dangerous Method – Worth seeing for Viggo Mortensen’s Freud and Keira Knightley’s sporting of one of the oddest accents ever to hit the screen – she is meant to be Russian, but could come from anywhere in the solar system  for all the accent tells one of her origins.

Big Brother plus is knocking on your front door

Robert Henderson

In  George Orwell’s 1984 there are tele-screens and hidden microphones  dotted liberally around public spaces, but, contrary to what is commonly imagined by those who have never read the  book, there is no universal electronic surveillance of   people  within their homes.  There are two-way screens in  the apartments  of many, especially those of the  IngSoc  Party members – the only party allowed: think the CP of the Soviet Union with a dash of  Nazism –  which allow  people  to be watched and those being watched to interact with  the watchers  But most of the population – the Proles – do not suffer these  direct  indignities. They are not considered a threat to IngSoc  because of their lack of sophistication which allows them to be manipulated and controlled by the application of mass psychology and a ruthless and proactive censorship which continually re-writes the past.

From the details publicly available, the intention of the David Cameron’s Coalition Government is to pass an Act  (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2012/apr/02/internet-companies-warn-government-email-surveillance) which will do what Orwell did not imagine: introduce electronic surveillance into every home as well as every place of work or public area where the Internet  is used.  Indeed, for anyone who uses a mobile  phone or similar device to enter the Internet , the surveillance will be complete if the person keeps the phone with them all the time. It will be Big Brother Plus.

The proposed Act will force ISPs to store and,   release at the  demand  of the state, details  of who has sent what emails and texts to  whom; who has made phone calls to whom and the websites someone has visited, viz:  “Under legislation expected in next month’s Queen’s Speech, internet companies will be instructed to install hardware enabling GCHQ – the Government’s electronic “listening” agency – to examine “on demand” any phone call made, text message and email sent, and website accessed in “real time”, The Sunday Times reported.” (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/ws/expansion-of-gchq-internet-monitoring-proposed-7606489.html). Presumably services such as Skype and instant messaging facilities such as Yahoo’s will be encompassed by the legislation.  It is also all too easy to imagine every other provider of communications such as search engines being brought within the net.

As things stand, the Government’s intention is not to allow access to the details of phone calls, emails and texts to be accessed without a warrant. But even if that is how the Bill put before the Commons  reads  it is not much consolation because  even if the system is operated honestly , it will probably be easy enough to get a warrant in many cases because the information gained without a warrant can often give an appearance of suspicious activity even where there is no criminal behaviour.

Even without a warrant  the state will be able to make considerable breaches in a person’s privacy. Knowing the times people are doing things; identifying the websites people are visiting and the frequency of the visits;  knowing how long phone calls have lasted, seeing who  people are contacting and  the frequency of their contact is information which could provide  plausible grounds for suspicion, or at least a case which is plausible enough to provide an arguable justification for the issue of a warrant.  It will only be guilt by association, but those issuing warrants may  often accept  association as sufficient grounds for the issue of a warrant, for example, if terrorist connections  are suspected the pressure to grant a warrant would be very strong.

Here are a couple of innocent scenarios which could prompt the granting of a warrant:

-          Someone  has a strong interest in Middle East  politics and regularly visits websites which represent the  views of the likes of Hamas or  someone wishes to research al Qaeda questions.  They would probably go to quite a few sites and perhaps go often, at least over a short period.  The police and/or security services suspect that the person is a terrorist.

-          Someone without a criminal past unbeknown to them has a friend with a serious criminal past. The police suspect the criminal is about to become active again and the person without a criminal past a criminal associate.

There would immense opportunities for  the abuse of power.  In the past quarter century Britain has witnessed  ever more authoritarian behaviour by governments of all colours which includes  either going beyond what the law empowers them to do, for example, the restrictions on free movement  during the miners’ strike,  or the passing of laws which are simply incompatible with a democracy (the vast array of anti-terrorist legislation and the  laws introduced to enforce political correctness such as those relating to “hate crimes” and legislation such as the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 (http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2000/34/contents).

The consequence of this array of authoritarian legislation is not only to provide governments and the public bodies which derive from them with considerable legal powers over the individual, but to also make politicians and public servants ever more arrogant in their application of laws. At the same time the general public  has developed the type of mentality found in totalitarian states where the individual begins to live in continual fear of ending up in the hands of the police and the justice system or, at best, of losing their employment, if they protest against the growing authoritarianism or breach the ever expanding  limits of political correctness.  This latter worry is no idle fear as there are now weekly examples of those deemed to have placed themselves beyond the pc Pale appearing in the mainstream media.  A drunken student makes some racist comments on twitter and ends up with a 56 day prison sentence while  habitual burglars commonly take at least three convictions to go to prison.   The England centre half John Terry is alleged to have racially abused another player  and is charged with a criminal offence.  A young mother Emma West is not only charged with criminal offences after protesting publicly about the effects of mass immigration,  but is held in “protective custody” at the nearest England has to a women’s category A prison,  despite the fact that she said she did not  require protection.   The consequence of this growing public fear is to feed the natural arrogance of those with power to become ever more reckless in their destruction of the necessary freedoms upon which a democracy rests.

It is against this background that the proposed massive increase in surveillance must be seen.  It is impossible any longer to have faith in any checks and balances put in place to prevent  abuse of  such new laws.  At best those empowered to grant warrants to allow access to the content of emails, texts and possibly phone calls (if these are recorded) will be drawn from the circle of people who are sympathetic generally to those with power.  They will , consciously or subconsciously,  tend to look with favour on request from those with whom they have a class interest. We see this time and again with government instigated inquiries  where a judge or senior public servant is appointed and  the inquiry invariably produces a report which avoids damaging a government or politician still in power. The Hutton Inquiry into Dr David Kelly’s death is a first rate example .  A great deal of  doubt  on the official account of Kelly’s death was cast by evidence given before Hutton , yet he produced conclusions which flew in the face of this evidence and simply repeated  the line wanted by the government,  that Kelly had committed suicide.

There would also be scope outright skullduggery  whereby  the state actively connived at producing information which would justify a warrant. It would not be difficult to hack into a person’s computer  and plant information by visiting compromising  websites, for example, child pornography sites. That would then provide prima facie evidence to apply for a warrant. People other than state actors could also  engage in this type of  behaviour, for example, companies, foreign states and private individuals  who wish to harm someone .

Nor is it only material pointing to potentially criminal behaviour which would be brought into play. There is a good deal of information about legal activities which could be used to either blackmail or disrupt a person’s life by releasing information which compromises them.  Suppose someone has been visiting legal pornographic sites or their phone  contacts suggest an affair is being conducted by someone who is married.  Or it could be something political.  A person may have been contacting political  sites which are  represented as being  beyond the Pale by a political elite –  the BNP in Britain would be a good current example.  Secret membership of such a party  or even showing an interest in such a party, could easily cost  the person their job if it was revealed to their employer.  Where a warrant was  granted  the scope for such harassment by the state would be greatly expanded by the additional information they could access.

Once such a system is established the natural human tendency  to reach for information  which is easily available will be given ever greater play. Just as DNA has become the go to police  investigatory tool regardless of its deficiencies as evidence because of the ease with which it can be planted or contaminated,    so will  the reference to a person’s digital records become  the  first port of call for the security services.

There is also the concern that the information seen and collected by the police, security services and other government agencies  will not be restricted on a need to know basis. Public bodies have a habit of spreading information, legally or illegally.  It is also certain that there will be horrendous data leaks because there always are with unencrypted laptops and memory stick being left or stolen in public places.  As the storage of the data  will be in the hands of private companies rather than public bodies, the chance of  security breaches, whether accidental or deliberate through corrupt practices, is likely to be vast.

Can we stop it?

The Government have met with a good deal of resistance both from within the coalition parties and from outside, with calls to either drop the idea as incompatible with a free society to demands for very strong safeguards such as only a judge being able to grant a warrant.  The dropping of the Bill is unlikely because the leadership of  all three major parties at Westminster have accepted that something along these lines should  be done in the name of national security.  The likelihood is a fudge with enough poison in the Bill to contaminate what is left of  personal freedom in Britain, for example, the substance of the Bill being left intact with a few sops such as a warrant having to be issued by a magistrate rather than being left, as is the case with much covert surveillance, in the hands of senior police officer to sanction it.

Past experience  with legislation such as the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) shows that whatever the intention of legislators, powers seemingly granted  for extreme circumstances are used  for humdrum purposes. In the case of the RIPA,  councils have freely used surveillance powers  designed to be used against terrorists and other serious criminals. It is as certain as anything can be, that the proposed new powers would be similarly abused  because  laws to be efficient have to be drafted to cover general  circumstances not particular ones. For example, it might be suggested that the new  law should only apply to those suspected of  endangering the security of the country. That would immediately get the lawyers embroiled in a minefield of definition about what constituted such endangerment.   Add  in all other serious crime and the definitional difficulties multiply.

But even if the new powers were restricted to certain areas of crime, that would not be the end of it. There would be pressure from campaign groups, the general public and politicians to expand it to other areas whenever a crime not covered by the legislation took place could plausibly have been prevented if the powers had been available for that particular class of  crime.

The other great general risk is that the system starts off being policed strictly and the restrictions are subsequently relaxed, for example, initially a judge is required to issue a warrant; this is then eroded to a judge or magistrate and finally to a senior police officer.

If the Coalition’s proposals become law they will  bring the surveillance of  British citizens to something dangerously close to that envisaged by Orwell.  Britain is already the most closely watched nation in the world in terms of CCTV cameras per head of population.  Some of these cameras are interactive in the 1984 sense with interaction between watched and watcher possible.  The ever increasing sophistication of digital technology is making any utterance potentially a public matter through its recording and then placing on websites such as YouTube.  The risk of hacking makes all data potentially open to anyone.   If the state takes to itself the power to be able to look at anything a person does there will be precious little way to go before Britain is not merely at the state of surveillance Orwell envisaged but beyond it because everyone will  be potentially under surveillance.

If the intended Act is passed, all that would  left to complete the surveillance jigsaw  for modern Britain would be for something akin to Orwell’s two-way screens to be placed in every person’s home.  That is the position with the  level of present technology. Going further it is probable that in the future machine implants could be made into the human body to monitor our thoughts or our thoughts be captured by some external means such as a form of brain scanning using energy beams to record what we are thinking.  Impossible that we should ever allow such things you say? Well, think of the enormous inroads into our personal freedom we have already tolerated without anything beyond a little grumbling at best.

If we allow this proposal to go through Big Brother will, in a limited sense, already be within our homes , indeed, within our lives generally.  It will potentially allow our private lives to be revealed to the state without restriction. That is what Winston Smith in 1984 suffered.    If we tolerate such an intrusion what argument would we have against the introduction of state surveillance of all our activity,  including what we did in our homes?  There would be none which carried any great force because we would have already permitted surveillance of a large part of what we do privately . If we are to prevent the ever greater embrace of the state about our personal lives we need to prevent this next step, not the one after.

Human beings have a need for privacy. When  you next hear someone moronically parroting “If you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear”  when the question of increased state surveillance is mooted put this question to them: “My I come and stand outside your house with a video camera and record what you were doing in your home? “ I do not think you would find many takers.  Then gently remind the person that when it comes to authoritarian governments, especially those driven by ideology,  no one can ever be sure what does and does not need to be hidden from the state. What is permissible one day  becomes a crime the next.

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