To understand history one must understand the religious mind

Robert Henderson

“Tiger got to hunt, bird got to fly;

Man got to sit and wonder ‘why, why, why?’

Tiger got to sleep, bird got to land;

Man got to tell himself he understand.” ( Kurt Vonnegut  Cat’s Cradle )

Trying to understand history  without understanding the religious  mind  is like teaching  someone the vocabulary of a language without explaining how the grammar works.  Nor is  the religious mind simply concerned with what are generally  called religions. Such minds  can be  and often are  attracted by secular  ideologies  such as Marxism, Fascism  or political correctness.  These are substitutes for what are normally called religions. Beneath  such formalised ideas  there is the natural human preference for the culture and people in which an individual has been raised.  Social animals need habits and humans being the social animal par excellence require very sophisticated ones.

Memes

The idea of memes comes from the evolutionary theorist Richard Dawkins. A meme is the mental equivalent of a gene. They  contain ideas.  Dawkins  introduced  the word  to the world in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene.   The meme,  like a gene,   is self-replicating and can undergo mutation. It affects  behaviour creates cultural.

There was nothing entirely novel about such an idea,  it having been discussed in Darwin’s time.  For example,   T. H. Huxley  believed that ‘The struggle for existence holds as much in the intellectual as in the physical world. A theory is a species of thinking, and its right to exist is coextensive with its power of resisting extinction by its rivals.’ (Huxley, T. H. “The coming of age of ‘The origin of species” (1880) Science. 1, 15-17.) But Dawkins gave the idea a new clarity and set it against the background of genetics.

Memes can form entire ideologies such as religions or  political theories like  Marxism or  they may be a stand-alone  social rule such as wear black to a funeral or don’t eat with your mouth open. Memes like genes can be beneficial, harmful or neutral in their effects.

It might be though that judging  a meme as objectively  good or bad is impossible,  but it is possible if the judgement is based upon  the evolved nature of a particular society.  For example, if a society is a warrior society, individuals with a penchant for violence can, other things being equal,  be valuable.  Conversely, a society in which non-violent behaviour is the norm the violent mentality will be a handicap to the individual who has it and a danger to the efficient functioning of the society.

The  problem of consciousness

We are in a prison of  self-consciousness amplified by high intelligence and  above all  language.  Both these things set humans apart from any other organism. These qualities  naturally lead to attempts to explain what humans   perceive to be reality, a reality which will often seem threatening, especially if the person is living in a society which has no science to explain natural phenomena such as volcanic eruptions, thunder and lightning,   plagues and  floods.

Imagine the existential context of a hunter gatherer band. It is not that its members are innately stupid or ignorant. Indeed, they will have a considerable repertoire of useful  and essential skills from understanding how to trap and kill animals,  where to gather berries and nuts, how to make tools and other artefacts. But their  world will be a constant source of wonder and bewilderment. They will have not have  any  idea of why  rivers flood, volcanoes roar as they belch lava  or the sun appears to die every day  and gradually burns  less brightly  as the year progresses before returning with regained vigour.  To these phenomena will be added the dangers and fears which result from  living amongst dangerous animals and in competition with other groups of humans who do not belong to their band or tribe.  Magic is  the only means these people  have of making sense of what they  experience and most importantly it is  an ostensible means of controlling reality.

Magic can take a wide variety of forms.  It will not necessarily involve a god because the belief may come simply from a belief that if X is done Y will follow.     Drawing  a scene of a successful hunt on  a cave wall supposedly  makes a successful hunt more probable; the casting of a spell supposedly  makes a woman fertile;   the drinking of a potion is said to cure   a  sick child; the sacrificing an animal or human  to the gods  is done to  ensure  a good harvest or victory over another tribe.

Of course the desired outcome of the magic will often not materialise, but  it will sometimes  by pure coincidence. Moreover, it is not always by mere chance. The Shaman of the band will probably have a knowledge of  plants which may indeed have a positive effect as a result of by  trial  and error over many generations –  indeed some animals self-medicate – and there is also the powerful placebo effect which when linked to ritual is likely to be heightened.  The performing of ritual will in itself will have a reassuring effect.

But even if failure to produce the desired result  of magic  occurs it will not automatically be taken as evidence of the futility of the magic but  more likely be  attributed to  the god’s disfavour or merely  to  the magic not being strong enough or the time unpropitious .

Magic  may be as the author of the Golden Bough James Frazer defined it,  “a spurious system of natural law as well as a fallacious guide of conduct; it is a false science as well as an abortive art”, but it is still a psychological comfort, not least because as with true science it provides rituals to follow as well as the belief that they are shaping reality.

Superstition

Magic in the form of superstition  is very common even  in  advanced modern societies. More often than not  it has nothing to  do with formal  religion. Sportsmen in particular  are notoriously superstitious:  insisting on dressing in a certain sequence, using a favourite bat or racquet, taking the field in a team sport in a particular order and so on, but few humans are entirely untouched by it.

Looked at rationally such behaviour seems absurd to those who live in societies in which rational scientific  explanations can be given for most things and even where such an explanation cannot be given people will believe  that one exists but has yet to be discovered.  Yet  the grip of scientific rationality is only skin deep.  No matter how rational humans  think themselves the majority,  and probably the large majority , will still  use  such psychological tricks to  deal with the stress of  self-consciousness .

What this tells us  is that even  though  there is no  rational basis for believing such rituals will have the effect desired,  they  can undoubtedly provide an individual with psychological comfort and a sense that in some way the individual has exercised some sort of control over situations which do not lend themselves to any rational solution.

The step after magic and superstition

If magic  is what might be termed the innate human response to self-consciousness the next step is the creation of  formal religion This  will have holy texts and develop a sociology to encompass larger populations than the band or  tribe.  The population will have moved from a nomadic to a settled way of life.

Some like Hinduism will have multiple gods, others  such as Christianity, Islam and Judaism will have a single god. Buddhism,  at least in its purest form,  has no god.  But belief in the supernatural  is something all formal religions require including  Buddhism , because that faith even in its purest seemingly most rational form  requires the believer to accept the reality of   rebirth with the eventual end of nirvana.

Nor is magic dead within formal religions. Even  a sophisticated religion such as Catholicism  has some decidedly primitive aspects, for example, the doctrine of  transubstantiation  requires  a belief that the bread and wine given in the   Eucharist are   literally transformed into the blood and flesh of Christ.  Nor will all practices not compatible with a particular religion be ended by the religion’s putative dominance. The widespread belief in and persecution of people accused of being witches in   Europe in the early modern period is a classic example of this.

Religion as an organising principle

Larger settled populations  require more sophisticated social structures.   Religion has an innate  organising quality which aids the formation of such social structures.  This has routinely meant its has been used to justify  monarchical  power  either by the monarch wielding the religious authority themselves or by having a religious caste which either  justified the right of the monarch to rule  or which exercised  the monarchical authority itself.

The belief that the worship of God in a certain way was integral to the good order and fortune of a country and its people is strong in most religions. A failure to follow the “right” form of religion could mean disaster for a people.  Any misfortune could be ascribed to a failure of faith or of observance.  The Black Death was put down to precisely that while the destruction of the Spanish Armada to England in 1588, in which the weather played a significant  part,  was  attributed by  the Spanish to some lack in their society and as a sign of God’s favour by the English.

The potency of religion

It is important to understand that religious belief is not something simply imposed on people or just  a habit acquired through their upbringing.   The sufferings of those who have refused to deny their faith are truly extraordinary. The Inquisition did not simply condemn people out of hand. Those who had taken up a variety of Christianity other than Catholicism were frequently  excused from punishment if they recanted.  Faced with death by burning at the stake many chose that death rather than recanting. Some, like Archbishop Cranmer, recanted than went back on their recantation and  were  burnt. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs all too graphically bears witness to the sufferings borne over the centuries.

Religion and the  secular mind

To understand the religious mind is also to understand the mind of those  gripped by a secular  ideology,  for the  psychological and sociological outcomes are the same as those experienced by the religious. That is particularly true of totalitarian ideologies such as Marxism or political correctness which offer the promise of an eventual  future  state in which  the ideology is fully realised.

Marxists believe that the movement of the dialectic through history will inevitably lead to the state of  Communism.   That belief is psychologically the equivalent of going to Heaven for the Christian or  Paradise for the Muslim or Nirvana  for the Buddhist.  Something similar happens when the politically correct  encounter  human behaviour   which brutally contradicts  their view of the world. They  do not draw the obvious conclusion, namely, that   political correctness is a incompatible with  our  evolved  nature. Instead, they say it shows that that  more  time must be spent  in educating the politically incorrect  to believe  that the  mores of political correctness are the only way to behave and believe.

One of the most peculiar secular ideologies,  which has been around since the early 19th Century,   is the quasi-religious devotion to laissez faire economics which for its true believers, the neo-liberals,  means holding  rigidly to the idea that free markets and free trade  are a sure-fire means to greatly increase  general prosperity and  that it is rationally  the only  economic system to follow.  This might seem a very dry subject  to engage people emotionally. Yet  its believers  tend to become extremely agitated if a contrary view is put to them and more often than not refuse to offer any contrary argument or facts when faced with an opponent of  their  creed.    In short they display all the signs of the religious believer.

Why does it attract followers?  For the same reason any ideology is adopted. It offers itself as an algorithm to order the world.  It is sometimes hailed as a general libertarian good by its proponents  which could engage the emotions,  but few people who claim to be libertarians actually live their lives by the creed.  A much more plausible explanation,   at least for the true believers,  , is that these are people who find the idea of a neat mechanical ideology  which tells them just stand back and don’t interfere with the market   intellectually satisfying. In addition, like all ideologies, sacred or profane, laissez faire allows its followers to believe that action is being taken to control the world. Ironically,   intellectually and emotionally  it offers just what Marxism does, an  eventually utopia which comes about automatically when economic life takes on a certain shape.

The fact that humans are so susceptible to the lure of  ideologies and habit  must mean that this behavioural trait serves some vital  evolutionary purpose because otherwise it  would not  have persisted.  The purpose is to unite and order a society.

The Grenfell Tower block fire and its aftermath

 Robert Henderson

The fallout from the Grenfell Tower (GT) fire is turning it from a very serious and traumatic physical disaster  into a political vehicle for the Hard Left who have been openly encouraged by  the  leader of the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn  who has called for empty properties owned by the rich in the area to be commandeered and used to house those rendered homeless by the fire , while the shadow Chancellor John McDonnell  designated  the deaths murder by political decisions and called for a  “Day of Rage” on the streets.  The street level response to make this into an anti-Government matter  really took off  when  the revolutionary left became involved.  Mustafa al-Mansua  a  Jeremy Corbyn-supporting political activist  was identified as being the organiser of the  protests in Kensington Town Hall.

The newspapers, blogs and especially the broadcast media are now alive with claims of gross neglect and even murder by those in authority.  The strange thing is those making the noise are not those most intimately connected with the disaster. Media interviews with  people who either lived in the block or  those who knew people who lived in the block who were either dead or missing have not been  paeans of rage against the rich or the government. Most interviewees have been rather quiet, subdued and shocked but not bursting with anger against the authorities.

The response of the Government

The response of the Government has been jerky. To begin with the Government largely left the emergency services to get on with the job. The PM Theresa May turned up eventually  but did not meet  any of those living in the GT, confining her visit  to meeting members of the emergency services. Jeremy Corbyn did meet people who lived in the block. The contrast between May and Corbyn’s was used as the tinder to light the Hard Left’s bonfire of rage.

After days of  dithering the Government released £5 million to defray the immediate costs of  providing support for the surviving residents of the block. A public inquiry was rapidly announced and a retired Appeal Court judge  appointed to head it.  Eventually, people  from outside of the Council were appointed by the Government  to run the  Kensington and Chelsea  housing department.

The judge appointed to head the public inquiry  Sir Martin Moore-Bick has been the subject of an immediate campaign  to remove him from the position.  A black Labour MP and one-time minister David Lammy  led the way by citing Sir Martin’s  disqualifications for the role as  being the fact that he is   a  “white, upper-middle class man”.   The key word here is white. Try to imagine a black  man being appointed to such a role and a campaign immediately starting  up to thwart his appointment because he   is black.  Difficult isn’t it?

Most contentiously   promises were made by  Theresa  May in the Commons  that the immigration status of the GT residents would not be checked:

“I would like to reassure people that we will not use this tragic incident as a reason to carry out immigration checks on those involved or on those providing information to identify victims or those assisting with the criminal investigation.

 “We will make sure that all victims, irrespective of their immigration status, will be able to access the services they need including healthcare and accommodation.”

The Labour Mayor of London Sadiq Khan gave the same assurance :

 “No action must be taken against anybody in Grenfell Tower who comes forward.

“There may be some people who are sub-letting, breaching their tenancy agreement.

“There may be people who have got friends and family visiting, who they are worried about if they report them because they haven’t got immigration status.

“All of those people should feel confident that if they come forward and speak to the authorities, that no action will be taken.

Making such a blanket promise  is reckless  because it could be used as a precedent for not deporting  many illegal immigrants  on the ground that they had suffered some trauma whether as an individual or as one of a number  in some disaster like the GT fire.  Applying the rule to the GT residents could also lead to difficult situations where a GT resident turned out to be not only an illegal immigrant but someone  guilty of criminal acts either here or abroad. Are we really to believe that British officials will turn a blind eye to such people?

There is a third problem associated with the immigrant status promise.  The Government may already have an idea of  the number of illegal immigrants  involved. It may be embarrassingly large. If so it would be in the interest of the Government and the politically correct left-liberal politicians generally  not to have  to admit that so lax are checks on the legal status  of  immigrants  that many illegal immigrants were not only able to come to this country but somehow jump the huge queue social housing . But even if there was only a small number of such people in the GT it would still raise embarrassing and serious questions about the UK’s immigration control and the checks that Councils make on applicants for social housing.  The problem vanishes if the immigration status of GT survivors is removed from the table.

The Government appears to be having second thoughts about illegals. Today (6th July) it is reported that those here illegally can stay for up to a year  if they help the  Public Inquiry and come forward before the end of August.  The Government has also announced a relaxation of benefit rules such as not paying the “Bedroom Tax” if the flat they  move to is larger than the one they have lost.

The support given to  survivors

Apart from the £5 million from the taxpayer mentioned above  many millions more  have been raised by people making private donations to various funds for the survivors. From these sources those who lost a family member or members will be awarded £20,000 for each family member lost.

This raises two problems. The first is the efficiency and competence  and indeed honesty with which the money  is distributed.  Already one  person Anh Nhu Nguyen has been charged with obtaining money by falsely claiming to have lost his wife and son in the fire.  It is alleged that he got   nearly  £10,000 from the fund set up to disburse the £5million from the taxpayer before the alleged fraud was discovered. Nguyen  is also charged with getting food and various goods from  different charities by making the same allegedly false claims.   If this is true, and it is only an allegation at present,  then it casts grave doubts on the competence of those giving out money or goods, whether they be public servants or private bodies such as charities.  There is also the possibility of corruption by those controlling the money either through straightforward embezzlement or through collusion with claimants. The  Government should make it clear now that a strict audit of the disposal of the money from the taxpayer and from private donations will be made.

The second problem is the question of creating a precedent. The private donations are one thing but does the £5 million given by the taxpayer mean that anyone losing their home through fire from now on  will be treated similarly? Don’t hold your breath waiting for it to happen.  The reality is that the Government response to the GT fire has been wholly exceptional. 303 people died in fires in England in 2015-16. It would be very  interesting to know what Government assistance was given to the survivors and family members not involved in these  fires or indeed to anyone who lost a home and/or family members in other accidents.

The treatment of the GT  survivors  has been exceptional also in the assurances given by the Council of finding new accommodation within or near the Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Most dramatically ,    68  newly built permanent homes have been purchased  in Kensington Row,  an upmarket development in the borough, for a reported cost of £10 million.  These  will be offered to the GT residents by the end of July.  (Some of those  who had paid £1 million plus  to live in the non-social housing part of the development greeted the news  with dismay).  Again the question has to be asked would people suffering  the loss  of a  home on an individual basis be treated like this?

The  mainstream media response

The UK media response has been rather odd. Both the GT  itself and the immediate area in which it is set have  many people drawn from  racial and ethnic minorities. Since the fire  many of the GT residents interviewed are,  judged by their accents or by biographical information they have provided,  first generation immigrants. Shocking as the fire was I suspect that there will be quite a few native Britons who have sought and failed to get social housing   who will be  wondering how it is that first generation  immigrants have been able to get such accommodation when tens of thousands of native Britons have failed to do so despite  being on Council housing lists for many years.  Understandably  the allocation of  very scarce social housing  to immigrants  causes a great deal of resentment amongst the native white workingclass and increasingly amongst the native white middle class who struggle to pay ever more extortionate private rents.

All of this leaves the UK  mainstream  media with a dilemma: on the one hand they want to trot out the usual politically correct cant about the joy of diversity, how enriching it is, how the sun would fail to rise were it not for the huge number of immigrant workers in the UK and so forth.  On the other hand the UK media is rather twitchy about publicising the reality of exactly how much social housing goes to ethnic and racial minorities and generally it is reluctant to show parts of London (or parts of other cities such as Leicester) where the number of white faces is  startlingly  small.(Astonishingly  in these supposedly non-discriminating  times there are  a considerable number of housing associations in the UK which restrict tenancies to particular racial and ethnic groups  – needless to say  white British or white English housing associations have the same degree of existence  as unicorns).  This is because the  mainstream UK media  know that the reality of what is happening to the UK is  both dismaying the native population and is at odds with the multicuturalist politically correct happy clappy  internationalist story the media – especially the broadcast media – regularly sell.

The result of the competing desires and concerns of the media  in this particular set of circumstances was a nervous and muted commentary on the heterogeneous nature of the GT and its environs at the beginning gradually expanding to more adventurous praise of the joy of diversity as time passed and mediafolk thought it was safe to bring out the old political correct mantras because  the ghastly nature of the event had  naturally  engendered  sympathy for the victims.

The  serious issue to be addressed

Stripped of  all the political posturing and ineptitude there is a very serious issue  to be addressed.  Something has gone very  wrong. Individual tenants and the  tenants association for the GT  had raised concerns about fire safety before the fire. Not only was no action taken but the block was recently renovated which resulted in the cladding of the exterior of the building with material which was flammable. Apart from burning the cladding may have both intensified the fire because it provided insulation and it could  also have funnelled the flames upwards.

But there is something missing from the Grenfell Tower story. If the type of cladding used  was seriously inflammable it would be reasonable to expect many fires involving such  cladding because it has been widely used not just on residential housing but also places of work, hospitals, sporting venues and other places of entertainment.  Yet the type of fire seen in the GT  – a very rapid movement over most of the block – seems to have been unique in the UK, certainly in its intensity and tragic results..  This suggests there is something novel about the GT case which acted as an accelerant, that is,  something which drove and intensified the fire. I would suggest the  novelty was  the communal gas supply system which was put in recently which  had reservoirs of gas on each floor. . Eye witnesses to the fire described how as the fire reached a new floor explosions were heard. This presumably was gas exploding. If so that gas may well have been the accelerant energising the fire upwards.  None of this is to suggest the potential dangers of cladding should be ignored. However, it is important to understand exactly how the fire got out of control so rapidly and to make a rational assessment of the dangers of fire other blocks with cladding present.

Could more have been done to save people during the fire? One thing which might have saved at least some of those who died was not done. It was very simple: get all the tenants to flood their flats by blocking their sinks and plugholes and  turning their taps on at full blast. That would to a degree have obviated the fact that the upper stories could not be reached by fire brigade  hoses.  The fire brigade were in contact with many by phone and could have used a loudhailer system to alert everyone else who was in the building.

Did  Right-to-Buy influence fire safety in the Grenfell Tower?

There is a complication I have not heard raised since the fire, namely, the effect of the policy of Right-To-Buy on Council properties with multiple habitation. Right-To-Buy is a Government scheme which originated under the Thatcher Government in the 1980s. It is a confidence trick whereby public assets (houses and flats)  are sold to individuals  who have been a  tenant  in a Council or housing association property for some years  at a hefty  discount from the market price . Hence, the Government has sold that which belongs to everyone .

The effect of Right-To-Buy on a  tower block such as  GT means that responsibility for the block will no longer be straightforward. Take a concrete example. Suppose a flat which is privately owned is above one which is Council owned and the top flat floods the flat below. The Council will say the owner of the flat which caused the flooding is liable to make good the damage to the Council flat . Easier said than done often enough because many flats bought under Right-To-Buy are sold on to private landlords who are looking for rental property. Such landlords are frequently very difficult to either track down or if they can be contacted, less than willing to make good the damage.  Consequently, the tenant can  be left in limbo while the freeholder and leaseholder fight it out.

The complications caused by  Right-To-Buy may have been behind the extraordinary fact (according to the Council) that Grenfell residents said they did not want  sprinklers fitted  because of the upheaval  this would cause. This could have been the leaseholders of flats whether occupying or renting out a  flat  did not want the sprinkler systems fitted because (1) their leasehold agreements would normally require the leaseholder to make a contribution towards their cost and/or (2)  where the flats are  rented out  at commercial rates the installation of sprinklers might  make renting them out difficult while the installation was proceeding.

But even if the tenants/leaseholders  said they did not want sprinklers or any other fire safety precautions  the Council as the freeholder  should and could have overridden their wishes.

The failure of the authorities to produce a comprehensive list of those who died

The failure of the authorities to produce a list of those who died in the block is unsurprising because  potentially there  are eight classes of people who could have been  living there :

  1. Council tenants and those living with them.
  2. Private tenants and those living with them  in flats purchased under Right-to-Buy  which are still owned by the Right-to-Buy  purchaser.
  3. Private tenants and those living with them in flats owned by people  who bought  a flat originally purchased under Right-to-Buy  from either the Right-to-Buy purchaser or from someone who purchased the flat after it had already been purchased  from the Right-to-Buy purchaser. For  example, the Right-to-Buy purchaser sells it on the free market to someone who then in turn sells it to someone else on the free market.
  4. Leaseholders and those living with them who purchased under Right-to-Buy and live in the flats they purchased.
  5. Leaseholders and those living with them who live in flats which they either  purchased   from someone who obtained the flat under Right-to-Buy or  from leaseholders who purchased  the flat  after it was sold on following the Right-to-Buy purchase.
  6. Those who have obtained control of a flat illegally. For example, someone obtains a legal tenancy then “sells” the tenancy to someone who assumes the identity of the “seller” and takes control of the property and pays the rent. Alternatively the flat might simply be given to a friend or family member without telling the Council. The Council will assume that the person living under a bogus name is the original legal tenant
  7. This who are living illegally in a sublet part of a flat. These are sublettings which have not been authorised by the Council.
  8. Visitors in the GT on the night of the fire.

Of those eight categories the only readily identifiable people will be the Council tenants  and the leaseholders who live in the  flats.  These details would have to be known to the Council because rents have to be collected and leaseholders need legal documents showing  they are the leaseholder and  giving the conditions of the lease.  But  that would only provide one person per flat  whose name would be  known to the Council.

The Council will also have details of leaseholders who were renting out properties.  However, leaseholders who rent out are often difficult to track down because their contact details are not up to date or they use a company to manage their properties.

Even with Council  flats the position is not necessarily simple (see 6 and 7) . Flats may have been taken over by people other than the legal tenant or part of a flat may have been  sublet illegally. The Government has  announced that there  will be an amnesty for illegal sublettings but whether those who have illegally sublet know about the amnesty or trust the promise is another matter.

There is a further fly in the ointment. There may be people from  the block who are  illegal immigrants and consequently are reluctant to come forward to identify themselves. Nonetheless, it is not unreasonable to think that if there are those here illegally they will still be  reluctant to come forward.  As mentioned above  Theresa May and Sadiq Khan’s  have given assurances that no check will be made on the immigration status of any resident of the GT.  However, it is probable that those who are illegally here will like the  illegal subletters  either not have heard the assurances or do not believe them.

Notwithstanding these difficulties the Council  has many sources of information which should allow them to build up a fair picture  of how many people were killed in the fire and who was living there. It is probable that a majority of the flats were  legally occupied Council or leasehold properties.  Even if only 50% of the surviving  residents have  made themselves known to the Council  they would be able to give  not only information about  those living with them  but at   least basic details of their near neighbours.  In fact the situation is much better than that with the Council saying that they have spoken to someone from 106 of the 129 flats in the block.  This should allow  a well founded estimate of the people who lived in the block and  their identities.

In addition the Council will have  Council tax records, the electoral register, social work records .   Internet searches on databases such as the Electoral Register  or even simply putting a tenant or leaseholders name and address into Google  are worth a go.

If it proves  possible to circumvent the privacy  provisions of the Data Protection Act,  what could  be very effective would be  the setting up of a website with all the known names of tenants, leaseholders and any other people already identified as resident in the tower block with an invitation to the public to send in any details of others  they think lived in or  were simply visiting the building on the night of the fire.

To date the death count is 80,  but “Police investigating the Grenfell Tower fire have recovered 87 sets of human remains but cannot confirm they are from 87 individuals.”

What is a plausible number of  residents  for the GT?  Reports say around 600. If that is correct it looks as though quite a few have simply gone AWOL.

The overall impression the aftermath of the   fire has left

The first thing to note is the unpreparedness of the Council.  They were completely out of their depth. The Council’s ineptitude was  made more potent by the leaping on the bandwagon of victimhood and blame by  all shades of the left from hard left activists to leading members of the Labour Party.  The Government , already in a profoundly shaken and demoralised state after the disastrous election result in June,  with a Prime Minister lacking precious little credibility  and the mainstream media making great play with the idea of the callous haves not caring about the have nots, reacted with something close to panic and kept giving away  more and more ground.

But there was another force at work. Many,  probably the large majority of the residents of GT were either first generation immigrants or from  ethnic minorities born in Britain. This  brought political correctness into play. Imagine if the tower block had been overwhelmingly  inhabited by white Britons. Would the response have been so fervid? Would the hard left have been out in such force? Would a black MP like David Lammy have been accusing the authorities of covering up the true death toll? Would millions of public money have  been shelled out or 68expensive  flats  to rehouse those who had lost their homes?  Or would the authorities and the politically active have been much less interested? I will leave those questions to the reader to answer.

In the West  with easy contraception and abortion humans need security to breed

Robert Henderson

Security is what the vast majority of humans want.  It is part of our evolved nature. If you offer a man or woman a guaranteed income of £25,000 pa or a ten percent chance of gaining an income of £100,000 pa most will choose the certainty of £25,000.

When it comes to having and raising a family in a country which has readily available contraception and safe abortion practices a sense of security becomes vitally important.   Without those two hindrances to producing children birthrates will normally look after themselves by at least maintaining a population and in all probability increasing  it if the availability of the essentials of life – food, clothing, heat and shelter – is sufficient to maintain increasing numbers of people.

Where contraception and abortion are readily available individuals can and frequently do refrain from having many children. That is the case in rich industrialised countries where the number of children a couple have is to a very large extent a matter of choice.  Because of this  birthrates in the West are currently  either  below replacement levels  (which require 2.1 children per woman) or  are only just meeting the replacement level . Moreover,   the Western  countries which do meet the replacement level often  do  so only because of  the higher fertility rates of black and Asian  immigrants  and their descendants , who at least for several generations after the initial act of migration  maintain a higher rate of breeding than the  native white populations of the West.

Why are the native populations of the West failing to reproduce in sufficient quantities?  The fact that abortion and contraception are readily available is part of the explanation, but the reduction in children is also the consequence of changes in general social circumstances and the mentality of people rather than an immediate cause.   Infant mortality is low so having a large family to guarantee that enough children survive to adulthood is no longer necessary.  In addition, the creation of full blown welfare states means that people are no longer necessarily dependent upon their children for help in their old age so they do not see their children as an essential  insurance policy for their future.

There are attempts to explain the decline in births in the West by claiming that fertility is falling.  This does not meet the facts. Take abortions.  185,824 were undertaken in England and Wales in 2015. The birthrate for England and Wales in 2015 was 1.83 with 697,852 live births. Had no abortions been performed in 2015 the England and Wales birthrate would have been comfortably over the 2.1 replacement rate.  In short, the UK (and the West generally) does not have a fertility problem but an abortion problem.

But none of this explains why reproduction has become so depressed that it has dipped below replacement level. Contraception and abortion together with the changes in social organisation mentioned above might explain if most people were stopping at, say, three children.  A proportion of the population will simply decide for whatever reason that they do not want children,  most people still want to have children and most people actually have children. The problem is they frequently do not have enough children to replace themselves. So what is going on? The missing element is insecurity.

Cultural insecurity

The huge numbers of unassimilable immigrants which have been allowed to settle in the West have not only depressed the material conditions of the Western native populations (especially the poorer parts of those populations) through competition for jobs, housing, welfare, health and education. They have also  by their failure to assimilate created a constant and growing anxiety amongst the native population, especially those parts of the population which have found themselves living in areas heavily settled by racial and ethnic minorities.

Allied to the changes wrought by unassimilated immigrants is the grip political correctness has on Western societies.  This is an ideology which covers an ever wider range of subjects in which “discrimination” is zealously   detected by its adherents , but at its core lies the idea of multiculturalism.  This asserts  that all cultures are equal and results in the  pretence that the native culture and native population have no greater status than that of the immigrant derived  communities and  that consequently  all immigrant cultures should retain their ancestral ways. The result of this is  the creation of ghettos in which the larger immigrant groups live lives that are separate from the rest of the population and to all  intents and purposes  the ghetto represents a  colonisation of the areas affected    All of this is dangerous  for both the native population and the immigrant because  it promotes anger amongst the native populations and unreasonable expectations amongst the minorities created by immigration.

The politically correct internationalist elites have gone to great lengths to suppress  resistance by the native population to mass immigration and its consequences.   The culture and ethnic interests of the minority populations are relentlessly promoted while  the culture and ethnic interests of the native populations are suppressed.  Any criticism of immigration or its consequences is met with accusations of racism which both the mainstream media and politicians promote routinely. Punishments are exacted such as hate-filled media witch hunts, the loss of a job and, increasingly, criminal charges for saying politically incorrect things about immigration and/or its consequences. The fact that similar though generally lesser punishments  are meted out to anyone who it is claimed has  breached other aspects of political correctness – most commonly  accusations of homophobia and sexism – intensifies the sense of claustrophobia which  the imposition of strict limits to what may and may not be said naturally creates.

To the suppression of complaint about mass immigration Western elites have added the denigration of the native cultures from which they have sprung.  The history of countries such as the UK and USA are constantly portrayed as something to be ashamed. Collective guilt is laid upon the shoulders of the current native white populations for the existence of colonialism and the slave trade. Anything which is praiseworthy in white history is suppressed or diluted by ahistorical claims that it was not really the work of the whites or that if it was whites who were responsible they were only able to produce the praiseworthy thing because of white oppression of non-white peoples. Any expression of national feeling by the native white populations is immediately decried as nationalism at best and racism at worst.

The constant brainwashing has its effects,  for example,  in 2112 a substantial minority of English people said   when questioned that the St George’s flag is racist, ,  but it  is by no means wholly  successful in obliterating the non-pc feelings of much of the population. The politically correct find in particular the resistance of the native poor to eagerly  assume the politically correct agenda tiresome at best and   unforgiveable at worst.  As a consequence the white working class have gone from being the salt of the earth in the 1950s and 1960s to being seen as irredeemable now.

There is also another cultural aspect. It has become fashionable in the West to say that large families are antisocial, that breeding freely is a form of selfishness for it both takes up resources and  endangers the planet  because Western countries use per capita  much more of the Earth’s resources (especially energy from fossil fuels)  than the developing world.   This has given those who could afford to have as many children as they wanted,  or at least many more than they do have, a pseudo-moral  “green” reason for not breeding freely, something they can readily  ensure with reliable and easy to get contraception and abortion.  This pseudo-moral reason is bolstered by  people in the media peddling the same idea and by the social circle of each individual doing the same. It is all part of the Western guilt trip so assiduously  developed and tended  by  the politically correct.

Material insecurity

The feeling that a person is not culturally secure in the place where they live is the most fundamental and corrosive cause of insecurity, but even without that there are plenty of material circumstances which can rob people of their security,  for example, a lack of affordable and secure housing, the absence of a secure job which pays enough to raise a family and inadequate schools and medical services.

The wealthier people are the more security they both have and feel they have.  For the rich having as many children as they want is purely a social and personal choice because affordability does not come into it. But the truly rich are by definition very limited in any society and the creation of ever increasing differences in wealth stemming from the combination of globalisation and laissez faire economics has led to the shrinking of the proportion of Western populations which can really feel economically secure. Today what were once the comfortable middle classes are feeling the pinch, especially those who have not got on the property ladder.  In most parts of the UK  the only way a mortgage can be afforded by those getting on the property ladder  today is for both the man and woman in a relationship to work full time, something which inevitably reduces the enthusiasm for and opportunity to have children. But  even the dual income property purchase   is increasingly a pipe dream as property prices have reach absurd levels  with the average UK price in  2017 being £317,000. In fact purchasing a property is becoming impossible even for those with what would be regarded as very  comfortable incomes.  To the horrendous price of property  can be added the insecurity generated by the fact that jobs are no longer secure even for the highly educated and skilled.  Consequently, the middle classes are feeling more and more insecure and less and less likely to have more than two children.

But if the middleclass are struggling to keep up appearances the poor in the West are really in the mire. They suffer from the same problems as the middle classes, the cost of housing and the insecurity of jobs, but in an  amplified form, not least because they rely much more on state provision than the middle classes and state provision is being squeezed  by the legacy the 2008 crash, the continued extravagance of an Aid regime which currently costs around £13 billion pa,  the cost of being in the EU,  the  offshoring of jobs to the developing world,  and most obviously and painfully  to the ordinary Briton  by the  huge numbers of immigrants arriving in the West who compete for healthcare, school places, social housing and jobs, especially those which have traditionally been done by the native Western poor.

Historically a sense of security for the poor has largely come from them  providing aid to one another, either individually or through organisations which helped and protected the poor such as churches, trade unions, friendly societies and the co-operative movement.  Such mutual help is almost gone now amongst the native poor  in the UK (and most of the West). This is partly because state-provided  welfare has substituted for  the help from churches, trade unions, charities and suchlike and partly  it is down to the fact  that the  native poor  have had their social circles fractured  either  by being  shifted from the areas  they used to dominate  to places where they are not  in the majority or they still live in their original  areas but these have been subject to  mass immigration of those who cannot or will not assimilate. Either way this has produced the same end of the native poor living in areas which they do not dominate.

The particular problem of housing

At first when the native British poor were moved from the slums after WW2 there was a plentiful supply of what is now called social housing and was called council housing then. These were let on lifelong tenancies, tenancies which could also be passed down the generations.  This  provided a secure base to raise a family.  Private rents were also controlled. This situation remained until the 1980s.

In the 1980s Margaret Thatcher did two things to greatly reduce the social housing stock. She created a Right-to-Buy for those in council housing which steadily reduced the existing stock of publicly owned properties to let at rents which those on low wages could afford and came close to killing off the building of new council housing. Controls on private rents were also removed.

The shrinking of housing at reasonable rents was temporarily ameliorated by the relaxing of the rules controlling mortgages so that those on even modest wages could afford to buy a property. This together with  Right-To-Buy initially swelled the number of owner occupier but d that id not last  for  UK owner occupation rose to a high of 71% in 2003 but has since sunk to 64%.

Had pre-1980 levels of house building been maintained with immigration at per-1997 levels there would have been something of a housing shortage but nothing like the crisis we now have.  The problem is that immigration did not stay at re 1997 levels but skyrocketed under Blair and has remained huge ever since . In 1997 the estimated UK population was 58 million, today it is 66 million. Most of this huge increase is down to immigration.

In recent years the  UK has been building less than 200,000 new build  homes pa.  Immigration in the year to September 2016 was 273,000. The idea that the UK can somehow build itself out of the current chronic shortages is clearly nonsense as things stand.

Work

The absence of a secure affordable home is surely the biggest material  barrier to starting a family, but insecurity of work runs it a not too far distant second  and of course bleeds into the question of whether a secure home can be afforded.   Margaret Thatcher came to power with a mission to reduce state ownership through the privatisation of all  the large nationalised industries and a desire to see market forces produce what was blithely called “creative destruction”  of our manufacturing  industry (much of which was off shored)  while the  British coal industry was wilfully destroyed. This resulted in a huge loss of  jobs  of the sort which had been the  staple of the native working class.

The  increase  in immigration has led to competition not just for skilled jobs but also the unskilled and semi-skilled  work.   Wages have been suppressed by this competition   and cemented into place by the payment of in-work benefits  which have become an excuse for employers to keep wages low and to generally degrade conditions of employment. For example, there is the growth of self-employment  from necessity rather than inclination and the rise of the zero-hours contract which does  not guarantee any work  but supplies work  only when it suits the employer. A person might work 40 hours one week and 15 hours the next and zero hours the week after.  This may suit  a student or  a couple where the person who is on a zero hours contract is working  not provide the basis for a couple to start a family.

Finally, there is the threat posed by robotics and AI systems to employment. This has not reached the point where most jobs can be done by robots and/or AI systems.  Nonetheless  the technology has already  devoured many jobs, especially  manual ones,   and the thought of what may happen as robots and AI systems get ever more powerful and intelligent will play on the fears of people  especially if they have been made redundant through the introduction of such technology.

This is one case where the overwhelming majority  are ultimately “all in it together”

All of these  sources of insecurity come together to suppress Western reproduction.  This is unsurprising. If couples cannot get a secure home and are  constantly  uncertain about whether they will be employed the next week; if they can only get low paid work; if they are constantly fighting   with immigrants over  public goods such as healthcare and education; if  they have no social support as once the poor had; if they  are constantly  told they should be ashamed of their country  and that it is selfish  to have many children is it any wonder that with ready contraception and abortion  that Western  countries have birthrates below replacement level?

If insecurity is the answer to low birthrates  then the answer must be to increase the sense of security  within  Western populations by raising morale by ending mass immigration,  improving security of employment  and engaging in massive house building programmes to dramatically increase the available property which is either within the scope of people to buy or  allows them to rent at a reasonable price with the type of security of tenure found in the best publicly owned rental property.   There also needs to be a clear understanding that the native populations  of Western countries have priority over  foreigners and  an  end to  multiculturalism .

The perilous demographic  position of Britain  (and  Western nations generally)  can be seen in the fact that whereas it was the native British poor who were at risk of experiencing crippling insecurity fifteen or twenty years ago, today it is virtually anyone who is either not unreservedly rich or is old enough to have bought a property before prices rocketed  is living in a  seriously insecure world .  No longer can the better off  think that they are safe. Moreover, even the  rich must wonder now and then  if  they are secure  as the number of stable and  prosperous countries   in the world diminishes through a combination of mass immigration and  terrorism.

Why the universal wage is a non-starter

Robert Henderson

The universal or citizen’s  wage is finding favour in various political quarters. This is remarkable because it is very obviously hopelessly  impractical.

The idea of the universal wage is  that every adult in a society should receive  a payment from the state. It is predicated on these two rules:

  1. The payment should be enough on which to live.
  2. It will replace all forms of direct welfare which provide money to the individual. Indirect welfare such as healthcare and education would continue as now.

If the payment is  not enough to live on then it will  be impossible to do away with  welfare  payments because not every  person can be assured of a job  which pays enough to allow them  to live by combining the universal wage with  their earned money.  Moreover, there will always be substantial numbers who cannot find work for substantial periods of time.  Then there are the  old who are over retirement age,  children and  the disabled or ill who cannot work. Again, unless the universal wage is enough to live on,  benefits in the shape of additional payments would have to be made which  would  again break the second rule described above.

The amount needed to live

At what level should the universal wage be set? In the UK it would be difficult for any  person to provide for all their basic needs on  less than £10,000 pa and in most parts of the country £10,000 would be grossly inadequate if the person does not own  their own home or live in council housing or its like.

It would be possible to pay different amounts according to the cost of living in different parts of the country, but that would mean reintroducing large scale public administration to work out who gets what. That would breach  the second rule.

To allow a person to live in any part of the country when they have to pay  a private market rent or bear the burden of a huge mortgage  would probably mean a universal wage of £20,000 although even that would be pushing things in London and other parts of the South East of England.

£20,000 might fund a single person, but even two people living as a family would find it difficult to raise children on a combined £40,000  if they did not own their home or  live in affordable housing in much of the UK.    If we are to believe the  estimates  the media   frequently make of  what it costs to raise a child in the UK we would think £10-15,000 a year would be required for each child .   The Fostering Network   charity estimates that the weekly maintenance cost of a baby is £164 and for a 16-year-old  or older £245. Most people will think that is much higher than most parents actually spend,   but £5,000 a year on average for a  child is probably realistic.

The population of the UK was  officially  estimated at 65 million in 2015. It has probably risen to about 66 million by now,  but for the sake of arithmetical co0nvenience I will take the population to be 65 million.  In  2015 the age distribution was as follows:

UK Population   0 to 15 years (%)               16 to 64 years (%)            65 years and over (%)

65,110,000             18.8                                           63.3                                              17.8

Rounded to the nearest whole number that is 81% over the age of 16 and 19% under the age of 16. That gives approximately 52 million  people over the age of 16 or older and 13 million people under the age of 16.

If the £20,000 adult payment is used  (52 million x £20k)  that would  cost    £1,08 trillion.

If the £5,000 under 16 payment is used  (13 million x £5k) that would cost       £130 billion

Total  Cost                                                   £1.38 trillion

That is greater than the estimated UK Government expenditure for the present financial year,  viz:

Estimated Government revenue and expenditure for the year 2017/18 

Revenue        £744 billion

Expenditure  £802 billion

Clearly the £20, 000 adult and  £5,000 child  universal wage would be impossible  as the cost  is not far short of twice the total estimated expenditure by the UK government for the financial year  2017/18.  Even if the universal wages for adults and children was half that it would cost  nearly £700 billion leaving just over £100 billion to fund  for everything else a government is expected to provide such as healthcare, education, defence and roads. Clearly £100 billion  would be a hopelessly inadequate for that task.

But dismal as those figures are the position is far worse because the government’s tax revenue will be set to plummet because if the universal wage is enough to live on  two  things will happen:

  1. Many people will opt to work fewer hours, take less demanding jobs or cease paid employment altogether.
  2. Consumption will shrink substantially reducing tax paid on purchases.

Hence,  trying to fund the universal wage by orthodox means  through would meet with  a double problem, far less money coming in and far more going out. A wonderful recipe for governmental  financial catastrophe.

As this would be a permanent state of affairs government borrowing would not be a solution.  There  would be nothing to stop a government attempting to pay  for the universal wage  by doing what has been done with Quantitative Easing (QE) , namely, magic it out of thin air, but that would lead to at best hyperinflation and at worst the complete  collapse of the currency.  That experiment would not last long.

What is certain is that simple arithmetic tells you the universal wage is completely impractical It   fails because it  either has to be set at a level which would allow the individual to live without working, which means it is  far too expensive,  or its proponents are driven back to making additional payments for those who cannot live on the universal wage because of different regional costs of living (particularly the cost of  housing)  or circumstances such as old age or disablement or sickness.

 

Racial preference in babies 

Robert Henderson

Two studies by researchers in Canada , US, UK, France and China examining the response of babies of six to nine months old to people of different races  have shown  the babies to have a preference for people of their own racial type

The first study  (published in Developmental Science) tested the response of babies to associating music with own-race faces   and other-race faces with the result that from six months happy music began to be associated with own-race faces and sad music with other-race faces.

The second study  (published in Child Development) found that   “Infants rely more on gaze cues from own-race than other-race adults for learning under uncertainty”  and  six to eight months old babies  were “were more inclined to learn information from an adult of his or her own race than from an adult of a different race.”

The studies involved “babies who had little to no prior experience with other-race individuals. “

Dr. Kang Lee, professor at OISE’s Jackman Institute of Child Study  and the  lead author of the studies states  “The results show that race-based bias already exists around the second half of a child’s first year.  This challenges the popular view that race-based bias first emerges only during the preschool years.” ……

‘“When we consider why someone has a racial bias, we often think of negative experience he or she may have had with other-race individuals.  But, these findings suggest that a race-based bias emerges without experience with other-race individuals,” said Dr. Naiqi (Gabriel) Xiao, first author of the two papers and postdoctoral fellow at Princeton University.’.

Racial bias is natural

That racial bias is either directly inbuilt or at the least developed very early  in humans as a response to  the racial type which surrounds them should surprise no one because it is a  natural result of homo sapiens being social animals. Behaviours and physical differences which signal that an individual belongs to a particular  social group are a  sine qua non of being a social animal for without such signals trust cannot develop and without trust there can be no social animal.  That humans should be biologically  programmed to respond more favourably to those of the same racial type is an example of the necessary signals required  to determine the boundaries  of their  human group.

Those who will not have natural selection determining human responses to racial difference at any price will doubtless claim that if there is racial bias at such an early age it is environmentally determined, that it is nurture not nature. For example, it might be thought that a  baby’s  preference is for  those who have provided care for the child during the early months after birth. Plausible enough at first glance . However,   the research demonstrated  that   babies showed a general preference for those of racial type like their own  not simply a preference for individuals with whom they are familiar. Of course this could be the consequence of being accustomed to same race faces – remember that the babies  were specifically chosen to have had little or  no experience of different race faces and  the babies  could have  been imprinted with a positive response  to same-race faces and to see other-race faces as either unrecognisable as faces or simply  as not being faces containing the trigger qualities to inspire trust.

But even if nurture did determine the infants’  preference for those of the same race by making  babies  identify with the race of those who  cared from them  for the first six months   or so of their lives the nurturists would still be faced with the problem  that there must be an innate behaviour in babies which  makes them favour those  of the  racial type who brought them up in the first six months or so  of their out of womb  existence.   Even if every baby was removed from their parents and given to those of a different racial type to raise – an obvious and deeply sinister absurdity –  the  babies would, if it is nurture at play,  still end up favouring the racial type who raised them in the early months.  Racial bias would not be eradicated merely shifted from the baby’s race to another race with,  presumably, the  baby then favouring  those of a different race to themselves.

Beyond infancy

The significance of the research reaches far beyond the behaviour of  babies. If the babies naturally develop a preference for those of  the same race as themselves, whether though an innate preference or because of the race of those who raises them,  who  will be in the vast majority of cases the same race as the baby,  then it is reasonable to expect that preference is carried through to adulthood and through adulthood.

Nothing  better demonstrates the  natural tendency  of human beings to  remain racially distinct than the remarkably low rate of inter-racial breeding even  in circumstances  where there is every opportunity for  it,  most particularly in the great cities of Western Europe and  North  America, where the populations are increasingly varied and the prevailing  elite ideology positively encouraging of such liaisons.

Even   societies which have had very racially mixed populations for a long time  display a  remarkable  ability to maintain retain racial distinctions over  very long  periods  of time – Brazil is an excellent  example of  this,  with social class being very much graded by skin colour. To argue that racial difference is  not important to the choice of a mate is as absurd as arguing  that the attractiveness of a person is irrelevant to the choice of a  mate.

In  Freakonomics Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner  cite a study made of a  US dating site (the full story is on pp 80-84).  The site is one  of the  largest  in  the US and the data examined  covered  30,000  people equally  divided  between San Diego and Boston.   Most were  white  but there was a substantial minority of non-white subjects.

The  questionnaire the  would-be  daters had to  fill  in  included  a question  choice on race as “same as mine”  and “doesn’t matter”.   The study  compared  the responses  by white would-be  daters  (those  from non-white were not analysed) to these  questions with the race of  the emails  actually  sent soliciting a date.   The result  in  Levitt  and Dubner’s words was:

“Roughly  half of the white women on the site  and  80  percent  of  the white men declared that  race  didn’t  matter to them. But the response data tell a different story  The white men who said that race didn’t  matter sent  90  percent of  their e-mail  queries  to  white women. The  white women who said race  didn’t  matter sent about 97 percent of their e-mail queries to white men.

“Is  it  possible that race really didn’t  matter  for  these  white women and men and that they simply  never  happened  to browse a non-white date  that  interested them?”

Or,  more likely, did they say that race didn’t matter  because they wanted to come across  especially  to potential mates of their own race as open-minded?”

In short, around 99% of all the women and 94%  of all men in the sample were  not  willing  to  seek a  date of a  different  race.   How  much stronger  will  be  the tendency to refuse to breed with a  mate  of  a different race?

Another  way  of testing the desire to remain racially separate  is  to look at social class and inter-racial  breeding. The higher up the social scale a  person is the less likely they are to have a partner of a  different race – if you doubt this try to find examples of the rich and  powerful who  have  a  partner of a different race. Those who  have the most choice overwhelmingly choose members of their own racial type, despite the fact that they have the protection of their wealth and position  to shield their spouses and children  from the effects of racial discrimination.

If sexual desire will not commonly override the natural disinclination to remain racially separate nothing will.

The fact of identifiable races

The  fact  that  humans  have external  racial  differences  which  are sufficiently distinct to allow  people throughout the world to  broadly categorise an individual into categories such as  white and  black is in  itself  indicative of the innate human tendency to  breed with those who are racially similar, even though for several thousands of years large human populations of different racial types have existed in close proximity. If  human beings did not have an innate preference for those who racially resemble themselves, humanity  would have bred itself  into something approaching a uniform racial type, at least in those parts of the  world  which  were not very isolated – different  races  have  had regular  and  numerous  contact  with each other  for  at  least  three thousand years. The alternative explanation to an innate tendency is the truly fantastic one that Man everywhere spontaneously developed cultural barriers to breeding which had nothing to do with any innate tendency. If anything is a social construct it is not race but the liberal idea that Man is a single species.

Race is  much stronger as a mediator of who to mate with than ethnic (cultural) difference – think of the very  high proportion of those in Britain who have Irish/Welsh/Scottish/English mixed ancestry. Nonetheless, ethnic differences are culturally potent amongst racially similar populations. For example, on either side of the England/Scotland border,  the inhabitants  born and raised close to the border retain Scots and English accents even though they may have lived their entire lives only a few miles apart.

Because the tendency to mate with those of a similar race is so strong  and universal,  both in place and time, it is reasonable to conclude  that the  behaviour  is innate and that cultures  necessarily include  the requirement for a member of the society to be of a certain racial type. The  consequence of this is that someone of a different racial type  is effectively precluded from full integration because one of the criteria for  belonging has not been met.  That is not to say,  of course,  that many  of the habits of mind of an alien culture may not be  adopted  by someone  of  a  different race.  What is withheld  is  the  instinctive acceptance  of the alien and his or her descendants  as members of  the society. Just as no human being can decide for themselves that they are a member of this or that group, no individual can decide that they belong to this or that nation because it is a two-way process: the other members of the group they wish to join have to accept them as a true member of the group. (Stephen Frears the English  film director once wryly remarked that he had known the actor Daniel Day-Lewis “before he was Irish”).

Assortative mating

There is a widespread  biological behaviour  known as assortative mating.   Members  of  sexually reproducing  animals  select  mates  by certain criteria.  In that much loved laboratory animal,  the fruit  fly drosophila,  this may be the number  of sternopleural bristles;  in Man it  includes  many criteria including racial type.  Other  human  prime assortative criteria are size, intelligence, education and class.  Some of  these criteria such as education and class are more clearly  linked to  nurture  than  Nature,  but even they can be  direct  or  indirect expressions  of   qualities which are at least largely innate  such  as intelligence. I  say  direct  or  indirect  because  the  beneficial qualities  may not be in the individual, for those with  superior education and high social class may lack the  innate qualities of their parents  or earlier ancestors and their privileged position may  simply be a residue of the superior innate abilities of their parents or other ancestors.

For the purposes of inter-racial mating, size,  intelligence, education and  class all come into play. There are clear average  differences  of size  between the three major races:  blacks largest,  whites  in  the middle and Asians smallest.  This would mean that on average members of one  racial  group  would be less likely to choose  another  member  of another racial group. The differences in IQ would have the same effect, with  blacks  being  less likely to mate with the  other  two  races because their IQ is further removed from them than  they are from  each other. Differences in IQ will also be reflected, directly or indirectly in  educational achievement and social class and hence in  mating, for example,  if a minority population of blacks amidst a  majority  white population  have proportionately  more people of low education and  low social  class than the white majority,  something which  should  happen other  things  being equal because of their inferior  IQ  distribution, they are less likely to mate with members of the white majority simply on the grounds of education and class.

The hopeless and dangerous quest for behavioural change

The lead author of the two studies Dr. Kang Lee has no doubts about the  scope and power of racial preference,  but  like so many  academics who  work  in the field of racial difference  he wants to try to fit his findings into a politically correct shape, viz:

“Implicit racial biases tend to be subconscious, pernicious, and insidious. It permeates almost all of our social interactions, from health care to commerce, employment, politics, and dating. Because of that, it’s very important to study where these kinds of biases come from and use that information to try and prevent racial biases from developing,” he said…..

“These findings thus point to the possibility that aspects of racial bias later in life may arise from our lack of exposure to other-race individuals in infancy,” …

“If we can pinpoint the starting point of racial bias, which we may have done here, we can start to find ways to prevent racial biases from happening,” he said.

“An important finding is that infants will learn from people they are most exposed to,” added lead writer  Dr. Xiao, indicating that parents can help prevent racial bias by, for example, introducing their children to people from a variety of races.

The idea that babies could  be programmed to not differentiate between different racial types is practically impossible .  The impracticalities range from most people not having ready   access to people of other races or the social contact which might allow babies to experience people of other races to the fact that there are in practice many different racial types  beyond the basic racial classifications of white, black and so on, for example, an Ethiopian  looks radically different from a Nigerian and a Mongolian very different from a Han Chinese.   In short, the idea that showing babies people of different  races would not condition them to react to all racial  types in the same manner.  Moreover, is it realistic to imagine that people would generally  be willing to seek out those of a different race to accustom their children to  different races? I think that most people would think that extremely improbable.  What then, state coercion to force such  associations?

The experiments also leave some important questions untested.   What happens with  mixed race babies  where the parents are not mixed race?  For example, how  would a child born of a white father and black mother respond to such an experiment?  Or how about a child born of a black father and a Chinese mother?

The belief that behaviour which is innate can be eradicated  is downright dangerous because an innate behaviour evolves for a good reason. The reason for the preference in this case is to  maintain  the integrity of the group to which the individual belongs.   If it was possible to change the bias towards those of the same race the logical result would be to weaken the group to which  an individual  belonged.

It is also extraordinarily  difficult to see how such a change might be effected  because if the behaviour is innate by definition it would be what the individual  naturally wants to do.  If pressed on the subject the politically correct would say it was a matter of education,  by which they mean indoctrination or brainwashing. This of course is what many Western elites have been practising for the past fifty years or more as they have  gradually placed  political correctness at the centre of  Western  politics. But despite the immense attempt at politically correct indoctrination (which begins in schools at a very young age) mixed with threats of penalties such as the loss of jobs, the exclusion from most public offices and  criminal charges  for saying politically incorrect things , preference for those of the same race has remained stubbornly unmoveable amongst most of those upon whom the indoctrination  has been  practised.

But the politically correct  indoctrination and threats  are not  even handedly  applied.  In the West it is the white native populations which bear the brunt of these practices.  Indeed, racial  and ethnic minorities are effectively left unmolested by the politically correct.  The result is to  allow these minorities to  have free rein to still exercise the innate preference for those of the  same race and by extension the  same ethnicity, while the white native populations are constantly denigrated and increasingly punished by the state and the mass media if they  attempt to do the same, namely, to  favour their own racial type and their own cultural practices.  The result is to strengthen the racial and ethnic minorities in the West and to weaken the native populations.

Of course most people amongst the native white populations of the West will supply the politically correct words when they are in  public but it is remarkable that so many native white people , including those with a public profile, do breach the politically correct  diktats, something which is doubly remarkable because of all the politically incorrect sins it is those which deal with race and ethnicity which attract the heaviest penalties. The fact that people so often behave in such a politically incorrect fashion when it comes to race and ethnicity tells its own story, namely, they still have the innate preference for their own race and ethnicity and the attempt to make them deny this, or at least pretend to deny it,   produces a kind of emotional claustrophobia which results in a politically incorrect transgression.

Perhaps in the future it may be possible to genetically change the way human being relate to those of a different race but there is no sign of any  possibility of that at present. But suppose it was possible, how could such a profound alteration in the human psyche be embraced by any society which called itself free or democratic?

What  to do if you are accused of inciting racial hatred

Robert Henderson

There is a growing enthusiasm by the authorities in Britain  to  prosecute people who are judged to have  broken the law by  being  racist in speech or writing.   This enthusiasm is fuelled by  the adoption of political correctness as the elite ideology of the day.   Anyone in a position of power and influence is forced on pain of being cast from  such circles to at least pay lip service to the creed and the fear of being called racist has those without power or influence in a vice-like grip as they see people who have been accused of racism having  their lives turned upside down by  the media engaging in hate campaigns against them,  their jobs taken from  them and, in an increasing number of cases,  criminal records put upon them for simply saying what they think.

The police have become frantically keen on showing their politically correct credentials. Recently the  Home Secretary  Amber Rudd  found the police recording a complaint of racism  against her after she made a speech dealing with immigrants as a  “non-crime hate incident, a category without any statutory basis  that the police have invented.  In cases such as this the police cease to act as police and become political commissars.

The “non-crime hate incident”  will be logged on a police computer,  quite possibly the  central computer the  police have. It is unlikely to affect the likes of Rudd but anyone without power or influence could well find the police bringing such a record into play  if they end up, for whatever reason,   being questioned by the police. Even if it never happens it will hang heavy in the minds of the person to whom such a record  refers because  they  will have become “a person known to the police” despite  ever having been charged with an offence.  It might well come up on a criminal records check undertaken because of the nature of a job someone is applying for. Even if that never happens to you imagine  how your  employer  or your family  might  react if  becomes public knowledge in some other way such as a newspaper report    that  you are  a person deemed  to have been the perpetrator of a “hate non-crime incident”.

The police are rather less enthusiastic about one class of complaint of racism. Any complaint of a “non-crime hate incident ” to the police which falls outside what the politically correct deem to be a worthy case – basically any complaint involving racial incitement against whites –  will not be recorded. I have in the past tried out the police’s willingness to record such complaints, for example, I made a complaint of racial incitement against Greg Dyke when he was Chairman of the BBC following  his “hideously white” description of the Corporation.  The police refused to record the complaint let alone investigate it.

The great advantage you have

All that will seem daunting to anyone  accused of racism which reaches the police . Do not despair. People accused of this type of offence has one great advantage : those with power and influence in the UK  have a dread of the issue of free expression  being the subject of public debate in the courts. This is so for two reasons. First,  they know that prosecuting people for simply saying something  goes against the idea of a free society, something which the British elite  invariably  claim to believe in in the abstract.   Second,  the free speech that is being  suppressed is that which goes against  the politically correct version of what is permissible. The politically correct know in their heart of hearts that  political incorrectness is the natural order of things and that only by censoring  can the pretence that political correctness reflects reality  be maintained.

As a consequence  of these fears  the police and those in the  justice system do everything possible to persuade those charged with such offences to plead guilty.  This was graphically shown in the case of  Emma West who maintained her innocence for many months even though initially she was held on remand in the highest security women’s prison in the UK .  Her crime? To make  what was really no more than a public  protest about  the consequences of mass immigration. Eventually, she pleaded guilty to lesser charges after the stress got to her, not least the fear that  her young son would be taken from her.  The extraordinary efforts to  made to get  the woman to change her plea strongly suggests  that had she stuck by her original Not Guilty plea there was  a very good chance the case would never have come to court.

The lesson of all this is always get on the front foot if you are threatened  by those with power and influence.  Show that you are afraid and intimidated and the powers-that-be will simply ride all over you.  Let those who are harrying you know that you are coming out fighting. That is not only your best chance of neutralising the accusation of racism it is probably your only chance.  Try googling  cases of  people accused of pc “crimes” who tamely pleaded guilty. Despite assiduous researching  I cannot find one  case which ended  with a person pleading guilty  being left in their original position, either in their work  or  socially.  At best,  the  common outcome  is for people   to lose their job  and to find getting another one very difficult; at worst they can  end up in prison.  Pleading guilty to such charges is never a soft option.

Subject access requests

If the complaint which has led to criminal charges being brought  has been made by someone representing an organisation rather than just acting as an individual you may be able to get useful information  from your accusers  by using the Data Protection Act  to make a subject access request . This places the data holder (the organisation to whom you are directing the subject access request)  under a legal obligation to supply the person making the request  with copies of any information they hold about them.

It is also worthwhile to put in a subject access request to other organisations, for example

  1. the police force which is dealing with the complaint against you.
  2. Any media organisation such as a the BBC or a national newspaper if it has shown an interest in your case.

Such organisations  may  hold  data which will be at embarrassing at best  and at worst damaging to their accusation against you. For example, there may be data showing that there were  arguments against  making a complaint  by some members of  the organisation making or supporting the complaint;  details of the surveillance of you before any alleged crime has been acted upon by the police or attempts to entrap you which depending on circumstances could be illegal.

There is an exemption in the Act for legal  documents and information held for journalistic purposes, but  often  the recipient of a subject access request will have data which is not covered by the exceptions.

Apart from possibly gaining useful information, the effect of making a subject access request will be  to reinforce  the fact that  you are coming out  fighting for even if no useful  data is forthcoming  the sending of a subject access request will signal that you mean business.

How do you do make a subject access request?  Use the wording   below for the request, enclose £10 for the fee  and ask for the data they hold in paper form. The reason for asking for the material in paper form is that often paper documents have manuscript notes written on them.  These may carry important information.

Dear Sirs,

I am making a subject access request to the  Campaign Against Anti-Semitism  under section 7 of the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA).  This data will include any qualifying information held on any type of media.

Please send to me copies of any data relating to me which your organisation holds within the 40 calendar days allowed by  the Act.

I want any qualifying  information you hold to be supplied to me  in paper form.

A cheque for £10 is enclosed to pay the fee.

Yours faithfully,

———————————————————————————————————————————

If the matter does go a trial

Base your defence on free expression  and the fact that political correctness requires the denial of  the reality  of  homo sapiens’  biology  and evolved social nature.

For free expression  make  these arguments:

  1. When it comes to censorship there is a simple binary choice: there is either free expression or a range of permitted opinion which may be altered at any time.  In present day  Britain there is only  a range of permitted opinion, the scope of which narrowing by the day.
  2. Free expression is an integral part of democracy. If people are not allowed to put forward their views there is no democracy.
  3. By definition any totalitarian ideology is incompatible with democracy because it excludes any viewpoint apart from its own.

Political correctness is a totalitarian ideology. It  both potentially covers every aspect of life because the non-discrimination test can be applied to any aspect of  life and   insists that the only correct and permissible view  of anything  where political correctness applies is the politically correct view.  The defining of antisemitism , especially in its present very broad  sense, is part of political correctness.

  1. Many in the West who want to censor also wish to also pretend  quite absurdly that they support free expression. It is important to  ensure that  their hypocrisy is made clear at every opportunity . The notes below provide a potent way of driving  those adopting this position into a corner.
  2. For a detailed examination of the issue of free expression see Free Expression or a range of permitted opinion . Use the details in that essay   to give chapter and verse on the  vast constraints on free expression in England today.  Simply  reciting in court   the long list   of ways in which free speech is discouraged today  should have the effect of knocking on the head any claim that free speech exists.

For the denial of  the reality  of  homo sapiens’  biology  and evolved social nature use these arguments:

Humans are social animals. Social animals only become social (what biologists call the development of sociality)  by setting limits to those within their group. This is because sociality can only develop where there is trust  and trust comes from triggers ranging from scent and chemical triggers  to, in the case of humans, a recognition of those who belong to a group through a mixture of biology –  basically does this person look like me? –   and acquired knowledge that an individual belongs to the  group through their cultural behaviour, for example, speaking the same language or having the same accent. That is the basis of group or tribal  belonging .  Tribal feeling is not  an optional extra. It is an essential  evolved behaviour which protects the group.

Political correctness denies  that humans have  an evolved social nature and insists against all the evidence that everything is down to cultural imprinting.  When presented with this argument simply point out  (1) that  wherever a society is racially/culturally  mixed there is always serious friction and (2) that  the universality  of racial and ethnic tension  in mixed societies can only be plausibly explained  by tribal feeling being innate .

Dealing with accusations of racism generally

Always  get those accusing you of racism to define the word. This will simply stump most people because they are rarely if ever called upon to explain what is meant by racism. That is particularly true of the politically correct who rely on their control of the positions of power and influence, including the media,  to censor out challenges to political correctness.  That this is done and accepted as legitimate by the politically correct tells us one thing: at some level they realise, as the religious do, that their beliefs cannot stand up to argument.

Asking for a definition of what is meant by racism is a tool which can be used to fluster and unsettle everyone involved in bringing and prosecuting a case against you. If  they are unable give a satisfactory definition  you are halfway to winning the case.  If they give a definition to which you can answer “I do not meet that definition” so much the better. Indeed, there is a good chance that asked for a definition of racism people are  likely to say  something along the lines of “Well, it  means you think some people are inferior to you because of their colour”. To that you can say, no, that does not  apply to me. I merely, like all human beings, naturally seek the company of those who resemble me because of my evolved nature.

The person to whom the question of a definition has been addressed  may well be unable to  meaningfully expand on their original offering.  If they do it will probably be by saying something like “It’s discriminating against people”.  This allows the defence to then bring out the fact that all humans have to discriminate all the time between people because  we have to make choices.

That is just a few  examples of how even in a court the prosecution and their witnesses can be exposed as having no firm grasp of what they mean by racism and that in turn will make it difficult in principle to say whether what you are accused of inciting actually  exists.

The effect of this type of defence is to keep the prosecution on the  back foot.

The special case of  Antisemitism

These  contrary arguments  will cover most of the  accusations of anti-Semitism:

  1. It is not anti-Semitic to apply the same test to Jews as should rationally be applied to any minority group, namely, is the group or  members of the group attempting to gain an advantage for their group which is achieved at the cost of disadvantaging the rest of the society  in which they live. That is simply rational self-preservation by the majority population.  The most potent  example of  unacceptable behaviour by a minority group  is  one which advocates free immigration to the country in which the group lives and whose members are  either immigrants themselves or  the descendants of immigrants.
  2. It is not anti-Semitic to be concerned if there are  a disproportionately large  number of Jews in positions of power and influence such as politics and the mainstream media.   The prime example of this is the Jewish lobby in the USA. Such positions  are gained most commonly not because the best person gets the job but because those occupying them are either born into a privileged position or the position is an appointment made  by patronage.  For example, a significant percentage of  those  employed in the media have relations who worked in the media before them.
  3. It is not anti-Semitic to refuse to treat the Holocaust as an event which is uniquely abominable and consequently something that must be placed before the world to be condemned ceaselessly. It is now 71 years since the ending of the Second World War . Even the youngest of the surviving   death camp survivors will be old.  Most will be dead or in their eighties and nineties.  Time has reduced to the Holocaust to  what everything  eventually becomes,  an historical event which can be viewed objectively.
  4. It is not anti-Semitic to point out that huge numbers of  non-Jewish  people  died in the Camps and that the  frequent portrayal of the mass killings as an essentially  Jewish event is wrong. That is not to deny  that  huge numbers of Jews died or to belittle their  suffering.  Rather, it is to provide an accurate account of what the death camps were  and to rebalance the emotional response to what occurred.
  5. It is not anti-Semitic to treat the six million figure for Jews  killed as uncertain.  That does not mean six  million did not die. Indeed, many more may well  have done so.  What matters here is that the  six  million figure is not an historical fact.   To give just a couple  of  examples of the difficulty in calculating the numbers  killed. Estimates of  the number of Jews in Europe before  1933 run into two primary problems: the definition of who is a Jew  (which covers a wide span of circumstances) and  the reliability  and lack of uniformity of methodology  of  census  records  compiled in different jurisdictions. Piled on top of that is the post-Holocaust dispersal of  European Jews outside of Europe which makes  comparison of the  pre-1933 Jewish  European population  with the post-1945 population of Jews in Europe very difficult even if the definition of who is Jew is ignored.
  6. It is not anti-Semitic to view the modern state of Israel as illegitimate in foundation and support for it to be against Western interests because it puts the West perpetually at odds with the Arab world in particular and the Muslim world in  general.

How to deal with the police

Do not be aggressive to or try to ingratiate yourself with the police. Be formally polite but reserved. Make it clear by your behaviour that you are not to be intimidated. I realise that is difficult for people who have no experience of the police but adopting  a  reserved manner will go a long way to achieving this. Always have at the front of your mind that  the police and the justice system are not geared up to deal with people who will not plead guilty to charges relating to racism.

If  you have been  arrested get your lawyer to  ask the police to justify the arrest – they must have reasonable grounds for suspecting that you have committed a crime or intend to commit a crime.

Always remain silent until you have  a lawyer present.

The police must caution you if they  are attempting to get evidence from you about a crime that you have committed or  are intending to commit  or are otherwise involved with, for example, fencing stolen goods.

If you have been cautioned without being arrested  you  must be told that you are free to leave at any time.

Be aware that if you accept the offer of a formal police caution (this can be with or without conditions) to avoid going to trial that  can be as damaging as having a criminal  record particularly if you work  in jobs requiring a criminal records check.  These cautions have nothing to do with the caution previously described

Be aware  that if you  accept an offer to plead guilty to a lesser charge  in the long run this can be as damaging to your life as fighting a more serious charge.

For my detailed advice on dealing with the police see https://englandcalling.wordpress.com/what-to-do-if-you-become-involved-with-the-criminal-law/

 

 

 

 

2016 and the future

Robert Henderson

What has changed over the past year?

The grip of the Western globalists is slipping.   They do not   realise it yet but their day is  almost done. Their ramshackle ideology,   a toxic blend of open borders politically correct internationalism  and what is crony capitalism but called by  those with a vested interest in it neo-liberal or laissez faire  economics , has wrought as it was certain to do,  rage and increasingly despair amongst  the majority of electors in Western states who are increasingly turning to  politicians that at least have some grasp of what is necessary to preserve  the viability of Western nation states.

The most  optimistic possibility for the West  is that  parties which do have some real attachment to what the great mass of people seek will be both elected and when in office carry through their pre-election promises.  But this is far from certain. It does not follow that what will replace globalism will be a politics which reflects the wants and needs of Western voters because the existing elites may drop all pretence of being anything other than an authoritarian clique and go in for wholehearted suppression of any dissent.  There are already signs that  this might happen with  the  growing willingness  amongst Western  elites  to  censor  political ideas, potent examples of which have been the  recent conviction of Gert Wilders in Holland for inciting racial hatred by saying there should be fewer Moroccans in  Holland , while in the UK  the  Prime Minister Theresa May has just sanctioned the putting into law of a definition of anti-Semitism so broad that any criticism Jews or Israel could be interpreted as anti-Semitic. Much will depend on how Donald Trump’s presidency develops.

In Britain the  EU referendum  has dominated everything both before and after the vote to leave in the political year .The anti-democratic mind-set of those who wanted to remain in the EU has been nakedly shown by colossal attempts to  sabotage the result of the referendum through legal  and political action and an incessant bleat about how they want a soft Brexit not a hard Brexit when only  Brexit  exists.

Something which the government calls Brexit will  eventually emerge,  but it could easily  be  a beast which is  directly at odds with what the British people voted on when they went to the polls on 23rd June, namely, for a clean break with the EU.  If this government, or conceivably its successor, concludes  a deal which stitches the UK back into the EU with  such things as free movement of EU citizens into the UK, the UK paying for the “privilege” of remaining in the Single Market and the UK being subject to the European Court of Justice, there  is surely a serious risk of political violence. But even if that  is  avoided British politics would be seriously curdled by such a betrayal.

The other  pressing political  need  is  for an  English parliament and government  to balance the devolution of powers to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. A procedure to have only  MPs sitting for  English seats  voting on English only legislation  (English votes for English laws  or EVEL for short)  began a trial in 2015,  but  it  has few teeth because  it is difficult to disentangle what is English only  legislation, not least  because  MPs  for seats outside of England argue  that any Bill dealing solely with English matters has financial implications for the rest of the UK and , consequently, is not an England only Bill. Nor does EVEL allow English MPs to initiate English only legislation. Most importantly  England , unlike Scotland,  Wales and Northern Ireland, is left without any national political representatives   to concentrate on purely English domestic matters.

The House of Lords review of its first year  in operation makes EVEL’s  limitations clear:

The EVEL procedures introduced by the Government address, to some extent, the West Lothian Question. They provide a double-veto, meaning that legislationor provisions in bills affecting only England (or in some cases, England and Wales, or England and Wales and Northern Ireland), can only be passed by the House of Commons with the support of both a majority of MPs overall, and of MPs from the nations directly affected by the legislation.

Yet English MPs’ ability to enact and amend legislation does not mirror their capacity, under EVEL, to resist legislative changes. The capacity of English MPs to pursue a distinct legislative agenda for England in respect of matters that are devolved elsewhere does not equate to the broader capacity of devolved legislatures to pursue a distinct agenda on matters that are devolved to them

The most dangerous general global threats are plausibly these in this order

  1. Mass immigration, the permitting of which by elites is the most fundamental treason because unlike an invasion by force, there is no identifiable concrete foreign enemy for the native population to resist. Yet the land is effectively colonised just the same.

2 Uncontrolled technology, which leaves the developed world in particular  but increasingly the  world generally,  very vulnerable  to suddenly being left without vital services if computer systems fail naturally or through cyber attacks.  Judged by the number of reports in the mainstream media the frequency of personal data being hacked and major computer systems  going down, most notably banks, is increasing. This is unsurprising because both state organisations and private business are remorselessly  forcing  customers and  clients to use web-based contact points rather than deal with a human being.  This in itself makes life unpleasant and for older people in particular most difficult.

In the  medium  term –  probably within ten years –  there is the existential  threat  to humans of general purpose robots being able to cause a catastrophic  drop in demand by taking over  so many jobs that demand collapses because huge numbers are rapidly made unemployed.  To that can be added the development of military robots which have the capacity to make autonomous judgements about killing humans.

The  general lack of political concern and a seemingly  universal inability of those with power and influence to see  how robotics and AI systems generally  are rapidly  developing is astonishing. Time and again when the subject of robots and AI systems is raised with such people they will bleat that new jobs will arise due to the new technology, as new technology has always created jobs, and these developments will provide the jobs for humans.

This is sheer “it’ll never replace the horse” ism .  Intelligent robots and AI systems will not only take existing jobs,  they will take most or even all of the new jobs that arise.  This is the potential catastrophe that humans face from robots and AI,  the rapid loss of such  huge amounts of employment  that the economic systems of both the developed and the developing world cannot function  because of the loss of demand,  not the SF style scare stories about intelligent robots making war on humans.  The other thing that  politicians do not seem to understand is that when there are  robots and AI systems sophisticated enough to do most of the jobs humans do, the loss of human jobs will occur at great speed. We can be certain of this for two reasons; our experience with digital technology  is of rapid advances and robots and AI systems will be able to design and build even more advanced  robots and AI systems, probably  very quickly.

Aside from digital technology,  advances in genetic engineering and ever more radical transplant surgery raise the question of what it is to be a human being if full face transplants are now available and the possibility of things such as a head being transplanted in the not too distant future.   We need to ask ourselves what it is to be human.

  1. Islam – serious unrest is found throughout the world wherever there are large numbers of Muslims.
  2. Ever increasing general instability. Contrary to Steven Pinker’s view that the world is becoming more peaceful, if civil conflict is included things are getting worse.  Formal war may be less easy to identify , but ethnic  (and often religious ) based strife plus repression by  rulers  is so widespread outside the West that it is best described as endemic. Globalisation =  destabilisation because by making the world’s economic system more complex , there is simply more to go wrong both economically and socially. Sweeping aside  traditional relationships and practices is a recipe for social discord.  All of economic history tells you one thing above all else: a strong domestic economy is essential for the stability of any country.   The ideology of laissez faire, is like all ideologies,  at odds with  human nature and reality generally and its application inevitably creates huge numbers of losers when applied to places such as China and India.

The most dangerous specific  threats to global peace and stability are:

–              The heightened tension between China and the rest of the Far East (especially Japan) as a consequence of China’s growing territorial ambitions.

–              China’s extraordinary expanding  shadow world empire which consists of both huge investment in the first world and de facto colonial control in the developing world.

–              The growing power of India which threatens Pakistan. An India/Pakistan nuclear exchange is  probably the most likely use of nuclear weapons I the next ten years.

–              The increasing authoritarianism of the EU due to both the natural impetus towards central control and the gross mistake of the Euro.   This will end either in a successful centralisation of  EU power after the UK has left the EU  or the attempt at centralisation will lead to a collapse of the EU.

The Eurofanatics  continue to play  with fire in their attempts to lure border states of Russia into the EU whilst applying seriously damaging sanctions to Russia. It is not in the West’s interest to have a Russia which feels threatened or denied its natural sphere of influence.

–   The ever more successful (at least in the short run) attempt of post-Soviet Russia to re-establish their suzerainty over the old Soviet Empire and Putin’s increasingly martial noises including substantial re-armament.  However, these ambitions will be likely to be mitigated by the plight of the Russian provinces of the Far East where there is unofficial Chinese infiltration of the sparsely populated and natural resource rich land there. Eventually China will wish to capture those territories.

Robert Henderson 17  12 2016

The Thomas Mair Affair

Robert Henderson

Thomas Mair has been convicted of the murder of the Labour MP Jo Cox (Batley and Spen) . His sentence was  a whole life tariff which makes it very unlikely  that he will ever be released.

That is the bare bones of the matter, but there is something distinctly odd about this case for the reported facts  relating to it do not seem to hang comfortably together. That Mair killed Cox is clear  and  his ostensible  motive for committing the murder , namely,  that she was a supporter of the remain side in the EU referendum is established, but precious little is else is satisfactorily explained.

The strangeness of the killing

Mair  has no revealed previous history of violence , yet his attack on Cox was both sustained and involved not only the shooting of Cox but  multiple stabbings.  For a supposed first time killer Mair showed surprisingly little panic or squeamishness when confronted with the actuality of attacking someone in such a physically  intimate manner.   Instead , he  was remarkably self-possessed during the attack and afterwards according to media reports, so much so that when a man called Rashid Hussain tried to intervene  during the attack on Cox Mair coolly told him “ Move back, otherwise I’m going to stab you.”  He also reloaded his .22 gun twice, shot Cox three times and stabbed her 15 times.  Such determined and  unflustered behaviour is unusual to say the least  for someone who had never done anything like it before.  About the only thing  amateurish  about the attack was the fact that he did not kill the MP quickly.

After the attack, Mair made no meaningful  attempt to flee – he was arrested a mile away from the murder – and he  did not disguise himself.  A number of people witnessed  the attack on Cox  and as  the killing was near Mair’s  home the odds against him not being rapidly identified were vanishingly small.

The discontinuity between Mair’s behaviour before the trial and in the trial

After being arrested  Mair refused to answer questions put to him by the police including questions about his political  leanings. Again he  appeared very self-possessed.  Photographs showing him in a custody booth  could have been taken of a man waiting quietly in a hospital  before he is  called for an examination.

During the act of killing he was reported to have shouted   “Britain first”, “this is for Britain”, “Britain always comes first” and “keep Britain independent”  and when  he made his first appearance in court he  gave his name as Death to Traitors, freedom for Britain”.  There is some dispute about the exact words but the discovery of  a good deal of  hard right literature  in his home makes such statements plausible. Mair’s behaviour to this point suggested  he   wanted to be caught and to use his trial as a platform to complain about the EU and the support MPs such as Cox gave to it.

At his trial everything changed. When called upon to plead he refused to do so and  pleas  of not guilty to the various charges  were entered on his behalf,  as is usual in English courts.  The refusal to plead could be interpreted as Mair  doing what many politically motivated people do when placed on trial, namely,  attempt to remove legitimacy from the court by refusing to acknowledge it.  However, people who take that course generally, one way or another,  make it crystal clear what they are doing. All that Mair offered was silence until he had been convicted for he did not give evidence in his own defence.

What his attitude or strategy was in behaving in this manner is debatable because he can have had no meaningful expectation that  the verdict would be anything but t guilty. Hence, he would have had no reason to fear cross examination because the fact that he killed Cox could not be reasonably said to be in dispute and prosecuting counsel  would have had little to grill Mair  about because the facts of the killing  were not in dispute.    Mair would have been able to have his own barrister lead him through whatever  he wanted to say without  much fear of the prosecution  making him look silly in cross examination because there would have been precious little the Prosecution  could have gained from cross examination as not only were the facts of the killing clear Mair  defence did not include  any evidence  of mental illness.

Mair’s attempt to speak after conviction

After conviction  Mair  did try to speak before sentence but was refused leave to do so by the judge Mr Justice Wilkie .  The ground for the refusal  was Mair’s failure to give evidence. This struck me as very rum so   I asked an experienced  lawyer whether such a refusal was sound judicial practice and their  answer was an unequivocal no. The refusal  seem  more than a little rather strange not least because little if any mitigation was presented by his barrister

The right to make an unsworn sentence before conviction was abolished in England in 1982 (by section 72 of the Criminal Justice Act. However, the Act gave a convicted defendant the right to speak in mitigation, viz:

“2 Abolition of right of accused to make unsworn statement.

(1)Subject to subsections (2) and (3) below, in any criminal proceedings the accused shall not be entitled to make a statement without being sworn, and accordingly, if he gives evidence, he shall do so [F1(subject to sections 55 and 56 of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999)] on oath and be liable to cross-examination; but this section shall not affect the right of the accused, if not represented by counsel or a solicitor, to address the court or jury otherwise than on oath on any matter on which, if he were so represented, counsel or a solicitor could address the court or jury on his behalf.

(2)Nothing in subsection (1) above shall prevent the accused making a statement without being sworn—

(a)if it is one which he is required by law to make personally; or

(b)if he makes it by way of mitigation before the court passes sentence upon him.”

Plainly Mair could have wanted to make  a plea in mitigation and it would almost certainly have been a plea of mitigation in the sense that he wished to explain his actions which would whatever they were bear on mitigation even if he was to say he thought his action justified because Cox was a traitor for supporting the EU.

The refusal to allow him to speak should have been challenged by his barrister but appears  not to  have been.

Another oddity of the trial was the reading into evidence, that is, before Mair was convicted, of the Labour MP  Stephen Kinnock’s statement about how praisworthy he thought Cox  was. That was simply bizarre because it could have no bearing on Mair”s guilt or innocence. Again Mair’s brief appears to have made no protest.

After sentencing there was one last loose end put into the public arena. The police announced that they were  trying to find the person, if any,  who sold Mair the gun with which he shot Cox.   (The gun was legally held by someone other than Mair before it was stolen in August 2015.)  By the time of the trial  the police  had had more than four months to  start such a search and it is somewhat surprising that they have made no progress to date. It may even be that the police  have only just started looking because the Daily Telegraph on 23 November 2016  stated that “  A major manhunt was underway on Wednesday night for the person who handed the 53-year-old loner the modified bolt-action rifle, which was stolen almost a year before the murder.”  

Mair’s silence

What are we to think about Mair’s failure to give evidence? If  the man  was driven by  his politics his natural course would surely have been to make a statement to police detailing his reasons for killing Cox.  Moreover, he was  distinctly bullish about his motives and politics during the killing and at  his first court appearance. He might have been overwhelmed with what he had done and the reality of the circumstances he found himself in.  But his calm demeanour  after arrest  and during  the trial itself  makes this unlikely and in any case he wanted to speak before sentence.

It is possible although  improbable that Mair  decided  he would  refuse  to acknowledge the legitimacy of the court by failing to either plead or give evidence  until he was convicted and then give whatever message he wanted to put before the public . If so he was thwarted by the judge. I   can find no media report  which either carried details of a protest in court  by Mair at being denied an opportunity to speak   or of his barrister making representations on his behalf that he should be allowed to speak. It is conceivable that the media collectively decided not to carry details of Mair protesting or his barrister arguing that he should be allowed to speak,  but that would surely  be stretching credulity past breaking point.

The only really plausible  explanations for Mair’s  behaviour  would seem to be that  he  is  either mentally ill or that he was intimidated by the authorities into not giving evidence.

Mair’s history of mental illness

One of the most surprising things about the case  is that no psychiatric evidence was offered in court. This was noteworthy for two reasons. The first was the obvious one that Mair’s behaviour and the nature of the crime itself was such as to make  an assessment of his state of mind  necessary if justice was to be seen to be done. The second was the fact that Mair had not only received psychiatric treatment in  the past for depression  but on the day before the killing he attempted unsuccessfully  to get help for that condition.

There is plenty of opportunity within the justice system for mental illness to be picked up. The police have powers to order a psychiatric examination of  someone they suspect  has a mental illness.   The question of fitness to plead may be raised before arraignment by the prosecution, defence or Judge.  Requesting psychiatric reports after conviction but before  sentencing is  often done. It is important to understand  that an accused cannot simply declare himself or herself as fit to plead.

Despite all these opportunities  there was no psychiatric evidence presented to the court. Of course if Mair instructed his lawyers not to bring his mental health issues in court as a defence or mitigation they could not do so if he was considered fit to plead which he was.  However, the court itself could have ordered psychiatric reports before sentencing took place and  apparently  did not do so.

But if Mair instructed  to his lawyers  not to use his medical history in the case that would make it  all the more extraordinary  that he failed to  either give evidence or to make a public protest when he was being  denied an opportunity to speak.

Had his  psychiatric history been used at his trial  it is possible it could have made a significant difference to the sentence Mair received . The charge could have been reduced  to manslaughter  if  Mears  was judged to have diminished  responsibility  or lead to a sentence of something less than a whole life term.

Intriguingly the Guardian reported that Mair had undergone a psychiatric examination but no evidence of mental illness was found, a rather surprising conclusion because of the nature of the crime, Mair’s behaviour during the attack and the fact that Mair had been treated for depression.  However, the Guardian report does not say who commissioned the assessment.

The behaviour of Mair’s barrister

Judged by the media reports Mair’s barrister Simon Russell-Flint QC  was virtually inert throughout the trial. He challenged only one minor point of the prosecution’s evidence, did not bring any evidence on behalf of Mair  and failed to challenge the judge’s refusal to allow Mair to speak after sentence.  H

A barrister’s attempt at explaining Russell-Flint’s behaviour can be found here.

It is worth noting that Mair received £75,000 in legal aid for his defence.  It would be fascinating to see the detailed breakdown of  how the money was spent.

What the British state had to gain from Mair’s silence

The alternative explanation that  state  actors have  frightened Mair into keeping quiet  raises the question what did  they have  to gain?   The British elite are very twitchy about having trials in which those charged with breaches of the totalitarian ideology known as political correctness are unwilling to plead  guilty. Moreover, even those who do  plead not guilty very  rarely rest their defence on the right to free expression seeking instead to blame their behaviour on things such as the side effects of  prescription drugs.  Often those who start off with a not  guilty plea will be gradually worn down by officialdom until they agree to plead guilty.   A first rate example of this is the case of  Emma West who, after complaining on a tram about the level of immigration,  was first held in the UK’s nearest to a maximum security prison for women and,  after being given bail , was then harassed for  months simply because she would not plead guilty. Eventually worn down by the delay and fearing that her young son might be taken away from her, she pleaded guilty to some lesser charges than those originally laid.

The reason why our politically correct powers-that -be  fear a not guilty plea in such cases is they do not want their willingness to suppress free expression attacked or simply made starkly visible in a public forum or for those in the dock to challenge the politically correct view of the world.  Part of the politically correct narrative is that political correctness does not impinge on free expression. This is self-evidently absurd, but it is an essential  plank in the enforcement of political correctness.   For the politically correct  to say  otherwise would be to undermine their crand show it nakedly for what it is, a totalitarian creed which insists the only acceptable view of anything which political correctness touches is the politically correct one. In  principle this means everything  important in human existence because the  concept of discrimination lays every aspect of life open to intrusion by the ideology.  No totalitarian ideology can survive if it is questioned  and political correctness is more vulnerable to intellectual demolition than most because  it is  series of injunctions  which conflict horribly with human nature .

It could have been this elite fear of having political correctness challenged which prompted the judge to refuse Mair leave to address the court.  Mair’s  case was of course very different from those prosecuted for non-pc speech  because of his undisputed crime of murder, but the threat of someone calling those with power who supported the  UK’s membership  traitors, as Mair  most probably would have done judged by his previous public statements during the killing and his first court appearance,  might have seemed a little too close to home for our politicians in particular to view with equanimity.  Treason is a unique crime. Whether it is on the statute book or not, whether it is formally defined one way or another, everyone knows in their heart  of hearts  what it is,  the most  heartrending of emotional blows, namely, betrayal.

There was also  the possibility of elite fear of what one might call  the Anders Breivik effect. If Mair had spoken in court and given a purely political motive for the killing and justified on the grounds that Cox was committing treason this would  almost certainly this would have  created an ambivalent response amongst the public.  The British experience with Irish terrorism are a good example of the tendency where Irish Republicans would often say after a bombing atrocity “I  don’t approve of their methods but….”   There would have been condemnation of the act of killing of course, but along with that in quite a few  minds there would  be a sense that Mair’s political reason for the attack, that he was killing  a traitor, somehow softened  the purely  criminal sharpness  of the deed. There will also be a hard core of those who  were unambiguously glad to see her dead .  A piece of research carried out by Birmingham City and  Nottingham Trent Universities on tweets about the murder of Cox found that  at least 25,000 out of 50,000 tweets studied celebrated her death.

A  silent or at least a Mair not allowed to speak publicly is a perfect  fit to fill  two roles for the  UK’s politically correct elite’s narrative.  First,  he could be  typified as the  type of person the remain side of the referendum said was the typical leave voter, someone who  was ignorant and potentially  violent;  second he  could be pointed at as a  “far right”  terrorist  to balance  against the many Muslim terrorists.  This has already happened : here are a few example  links  one, two, three .

There is also the possibility that  the security services  or the police knew about Mair and did not take any action because they  hoped  that he might do something which would promote the idea  of that those who wanted to leave the EU are  dangerous extreme rightwingers . It is conceivable  although very improbable , that in some way the security services surreptitiously encouraged Mair to  attack  Cox to feed into the general propaganda of the pro-EU side of the  Brexit referendum that portrayed leavers as racist far right know-nothings.   More plausibly  the security services  might  thought that Mair would not do anything more than engage in a public protest or perhaps a bit of criminal damage and they seriously misjudged the situation.  It  would be very damaging  if that was the case and they had been forced to admit such a thing in the witness box.

There are those who  believe that state actors or possibly  fanatical remainers arranged the killing to play into the remainer propaganda that  Breiteers  were racist far righters. This is wildly improbable for three reasons.   First, the  large the number of people who would have to be engaged in such a conspiracy;  second, if such a plot existed why would a novice  MP with little public profile be selected to die?

Then there is the idea that Cox is not dead and the killing was in fact a sham. Only one question really needs to be asked here, namely, why on Earth would Cox have agreed to taking part in such a plot?  The number of people who would have had to be in on the plot would have had to even greater than those in  an actually killing arranged by the state or fanatical remainers.

Finally,   there is the idea that the  man who was convicted as  Thomas Mair was not Thomas Mair’ but someone else who is presumably playing a part.  This theory can be easily struck down. Photos of Mair when he was younger and as he was when arrested are claimed  by  supporters of the substitution theory to  show two different people.     In fact, they do the opposite,. Both photos show a similar  growth on the right cheek ; the eye colour is the same, the shape of the distinctive nose is the same, and the hair colour is the same. There is also the fact that if the person who was convicted  was not Mair everyone who knew him,  including  Mair’s relatives, would  have had to refrain from pointing this out, an absurd idea.

What is the chance of  British elite behaving badly?

What is the chance of the British elite behaving badly. Well, consider the case of the Liberal MP Cyril Smith. Smith admitted to the then leader of the Liberal Party David Steel that when involved with the  Cambridge House boys hostel he had both spanked boys with their pants down and conducted what he euphemistically called medical examinations on the boys . Steel took no action and Smith remained within the Party and an MP.

One thing is certain about this case, we have not heard anything like the whole truth about it. We are being asked to believe that a politically motivated killer of his own volition  steadfastly failed to use his capture and trial to send a political message to the public. It makes no sense.

 

The Archers: an  everyday story of feminist folk

Robert Henderson

The Archers is the world’s longest running radio soap opera,  having run continuously  from  1951 to the present day. It is  set in Ambridge, a fictional  farming  village in the English midlands .  In the real world such a place would  even these days be  very white,  very English and  decidedly traditional in its ways.  For most of the Archers’ existence  the fiction  generally corresponded with the reality, but two decades or so ago things changed when the producer and scriptwriters of the series decided that the programme  should  pay homage to the three gods of political correctness: race, gay rights and feminism.  Consequently,  Ambridge has had visited upon it sundry  black and Asian characters,  a raft of gays, a female engineer, a female vicar, a white English vicar married to a Hindu  and a steady flow of politically correct storylines .

This new politically correct regime introduced  rules  which the characters have to meet. Non-white characters  must  invariably be middleclass with professional jobs  such as schoolteachers or lawyers. They must never be shown behaving badly and any criticism of them or ethnic minorities generally  by white characters, a very rare event, must be done in a way to portray the  white character as being  utterly beyond the politically correct Pale. The men must be  generally stupid, feckless, weak  or  cruel, while  the women and girls must  be shown as either oppressed by their men or superior to them , for example, when school public examination results hit the Ambridge doormats  this year all  the boys in the cast  were depicted as being none too bright  academically while the girls all came through with honours and headed  for university.

All that is in a day’s politically correct  agitprop work for the writers and producer  of the programme. The politically correct issue which has been dominating the series lately is the  coercing and control  of women by their menfolk. This  is  a storyline  of a different  order to anything which has gone before in terms of  sustained  – it has lasted for a year or more –  and remarkably crude politically correct propaganda.

The central  character in this propaganda  is Helen Titchener (Louiza Patikas). She is  a member of the Archer clan and  has been  much put upon by the scriptwriters  over the years  who have used her as a vehicle for various feminist issues. She has been an anorexic who was hospitalised. More generally her life has been a  continual round of failed relationships  with men,  including  that of her live-in lover Greg the gamekeeper (I kid you not)  leaving their relationship in the most emphatic manner by blowing his brains out with a 12-bore.  In despair at not finding a man who hangs around for  long Helen has had a child (as you do in feminharpy world) by artificial insemination with sperm provided by an anonymous donor. The result is a son Henry who is now aged five.

In her mid-thirties the scriptwriters gave her  a married man Rob Titchener (Timothy Watson) as a lover and eventually he becomes her husband.    Rob is generally  depicted as what feminists fondly but mistakenly  imagine  constitutes the behaviour of an alpha male, namely, being a selfish one-dimensional  brute who simply wants to control and use women. He   is depicted as perpetually  controlling Helen but  this control includes   (in politically correct eyes)  such heinous things as not wanting her to work  too hard while she is pregnant and being concerned about  her driving whilst pregnant  after she has an accident. There are also episodes where rape is hinted at. More of that later.

The  plot also attempts to show the controlling behaviour is a matter of conditioning with Rob’s father being a blustering bully and his mother highly manipulative. This of course fits neatly with the politically correct view of humanity, whether male or female ,being nothing more than the product of their social environment.

Eventually,  whilst still pregnant with Rob’s child,  Helen tells him she is going  to leave him  and in a piece of ludicrously  clumsy plotting by the scriptwriters they make Rob  place a knife in her hands before  telling her that the only way she can leave him is by turning the knife on herself.  As Helen is well advanced in pregnancy the idea of her stabbing herself to death is particularly far fetched and it is clearly just a  device to get a knife into her hands without her picking one up herself and thus  potentially incriminating herself.

Soon after Helen has had the knife thrust into her hands her  son Henry comes into the room and Rob orders him back to bed. He has never hit Henry and does not hit him now.  At this point  Helen stabs  Rob three times and leaves him close to death. She makes no attempt to call for an ambulance. Subsequently  Helen is charged with attempted murder with an alternative charge of wounding with intent and is held on remand. Whilst in custody she gives birth to her second son whom she calls Jack and Rob calls Gideon.

After being charged Helen ends up with Anna Tregorran, the daughter of a regular Archers’ characte, Carol Tregorran , as her barrister. Not content to simply present Anna in her role as a lawyer the scriptwriters decide to both make her full of angst about her failure to win  past domestic abuse  cases and be in the midst of  the emotional upset of the recent breaking up of her marriage to  her husband Max.  But Max turns out to be Maxine, thus  breaking new ground for the Archers with its  first overt depiction of a lesbian relationship.  (Despite being very eager  to have homosexual relationships in the programme, the Archers has always been strangely  coy when it comes to girl on girl action. )

When Helen is appears in court  at her trial the scriptwriters are  seen at their most heavy handed. They  begin the trial scenes by pushing evidence which makes a conviction likely. Telling facts  are put before the courts such as Helen’s failure to ring for an ambulance after stabbing Rob,  Helen’s threat to kill Rob in front of witnesses shortly before the stabbing were and the evidence of her 5-year-old son  – the only witness to the stabbing – who does not say anything which suggests  Rob had  threatened him.

This scenario rapidly changes as the trial progresses not least because  the judge always comes up with a judgement  favourable to the defence whenever something happens which might well have caused evidence favourable to Helen to be excluded  or the trial to be abandoned. A juror tweets “Man hating lezzie. Gonna make sure she goes down.” The judge allows the case to continue with eleven jurors, without making any attempt to discover if the errant  juror  had made his views known to the rest of the jury. (If he had done so that would most probably have stopped the trial dead in its tracks.)   When Helen makes claims of repeated rape during her evidence , not having mentioned rape at all before she entered the witness box, the  prosecution unsurprisingly objects.  The judge allows the evidence to stand. Rob’s ex-wife Jess comes forward at the last moment to give evidence of Rob’s controlling behaviour towards her which includes rape. Again the judge comes down on Helen’s side by allowing Jess to give similar fact evidence.  When the jury send out a note to the judge after a few hours deliberation saying they cannot come to a unanimous verdict,  the judge makes no attempt to get the jury to press on for a while longer but at the first time of asking says he will accept a majority verdict of 10-1.

Obvious lines of questioning  were  ignored by the prosecution.  For example,  questions about what relationship  Helen had with Jess  leading to the question “When did you last meet or speak with Helen?”  As the pair of them had met at Helen’s request not long before the stabbing of Rob the prosecution could easily have left the jury with the firm belief that the pair of them had plotted against Rob.

Helen’s sudden claim from the witness box that she had been repeatedly raped by Rob because he wanted to have a child soon after they were married and Helen did not – hardly unreasonable on Rob’s part because Helen   is in her mid thirties –went virtually unexamined. An obvious line of question for the prosecution would have been to ask her about her sexual relations with Rob before they were married. Presumably Helen would have said they were normal because it is wildly improbable that a dominant male like Rob would have  gone ahead with a marriage if his intended was denying him regular sex.   At that point the prosecution would have been able to ask a simple but devastating question, viz:  If you had  regular sexual relations before marriage why weren’t you worried about getting pregnant then? Helen would either have had to say she had not worried about getting pregnant then or more plausibly that she used contraception. Either way her claim of rape would  have looked decidedly odd because if it was simply a case of getting pregnant all she would have needed to do was use some form of reliable contraception.

The height of this many stranded absurdity was reached in the hour-long jury room episode .  By the end of the trial on the evidence given it would have been reasonable to have looked for a guilty verdict on at least the lesser charge of wounding with intent, for there was no certain evidence that the stabbing had taken  place in response to a reasonable fear that either Helen or her son were under threat of assault by Rob.

The jury was a distinctly  starry one with some well known  names in British acting including  Dame Eileen Atkins, Nigel Havers and Catherine Tate . Just to make sure the jury passed the diversity test one of the jurors was a Muslim  woman Parveen and to make sure the listeners did not miss this fact the scriptwriters had one of the jurors  compliment Parveen on her “beautiful headscarf”.

The jurors made the jury in 12 Angry Men look like a model of conscientious and restrained citizens seeking the truth.  Dennis  (Graham Seed) , who was dead set on finding Helen guilty,  Catherine Tate’s Lisa  was  the working-class white woman who had little patience with the idea that Helen had acted reasonably,  while Nigel Havers’s Carl, who was the jury foreman,  railed against the injustice of excuses only being made for women in the course of recounting how the courts had given his children to his wife after they split and added insult to injury by banning him from the family home whilst requiring him to pay the mortgage.   Jury vetting is nowhere near as through or as comprehensive as it is in the USA but I really do wonder whether all of those on this fictional jury , especially Carl, would have made it through the vetting system as it now exists which includes a criminal records check.

Set against them was the terminally irritating Jackie (Eileen Atkins)  who in the hectoring tones of  what used to be called a “county”  voice kept on repeating  with excruciating condescension that the point which  mattered was whether Helen had thought she or her son were in danger.  In fact that is not all the jurors have to satisfy themselves when it comes to self-defence  under English law.  They also need to address the question of whether “ a reasonable person would regard the force used as reasonable or excessive”.  Stabbing someone three times and nearly killing them when no certain  evidence had been produced to show that Helen had reasonable grounds to fear that she or her son was in serious and imminent danger from Rob is clearly not what a reasonable person would regard  as reasonable force.  All the jury had to go on was Helen’s word that Rob had given her the knife and told her she should kill herself, a story which in itself sounded far fetched  to some of the jury –   Rob of course denied  giving Helen the knife and telling her that she should kill herself.

The end of the trial comes with ridiculous abruptness. One moment the jurors are still arguing sixteen to the dozen (with six of the eleven for conviction on one or other of the charges), the next we are back in the courtroom with the foreman of the jury giving not guilty verdicts.   No explanation is given for the sudden change of heart of the majority.  Simply  as a piece of drama  this plotting was ridiculous. It was  as if the scriptwriters   had either been told the trial had to be over by a certain date  and simply wrote implausible tosh to meet the deadline or they  could not think of a plausible way of extricating Helen from the weight of evidence against her and the attitudes they had given the jurors, both of which pointed to a guilty verdict on one or other of the charges,  and got to the verdicts of not guilty as soon as they could in the hope the vast majority of the  audience  would not  notice the implausibility of what was going on because they wanted Helen to be found not guilty.

Not content  with the criminal trial the scriptwriters then had  a custody hearing for Henry and Jack held a week or so after the end of the criminal trial. The scriptwriters have the judge who acting in  the criminal trial presiding over the custody adjudication.  At the beginning of the hearing the judge warns counsel for Rob that having heard the criminal case he is going to take a great deal of persuading if custody is  of either boy is to be given to Rob. Could this really have happened in the real world? The judge then  proceeds to give custody of both boys to Helen,  denies Rob any access to Henry and only a few hours a week of heavily supervised access to Jack/Gideon.  This is done on the grounds that Rob – who has never harmed Henry  and has been an exemplary stepfather to the boy – represents a danger to the boy, while  Helen, an unbalanced neurotic who has shown herself to be very violent indeed, is deemed to present no threat at all.

Since the trial Rob has been s portrayed as being given the cold shoulder by the residents of  Ambridge.   No one argues his case by, for example,  pointing out the seriousness of his injuries or the fact that Henry is missing him.  Instead the script writers are making him more and more angry and uncontrolled in his behaviour  to provide one suspects further justification for Helen’s acquittal and grounds for ostracism and vilification by the other characters  and there are already hints that the police may investigate the alleged rapes

This type of black and white characterisation and plotting is pure agitprop. The ideological points are made in  the most blatant way so even the dimmest listener cannot miss them and  the  villain of the piece is deliberately  left with nothing more than a handful of traits which delineate the particular  “incorrect “behaviour which must be both condemned without qualification and punished.  This despite the fact that the scriptwriters have with the characters of Rob’s parents tried to demonstrate that Rob’s behaviour is all down to his upbringing. The scriptwriters want to have their cake and eat it by both punishing  Rob and saying he not responsible . It is what Orwell called doublethink.

Doublethink also applies to the discord between the portrayal of Helen  and what she allows to happen to her. Helen  is presented as  passive being completely  lacking agency within a relationship,  despite the fact that  the scriptwriters throughout  kept on emphasising that the character  started as a confident woman very much in charge of her own life. Well, a confident and capable woman should have the  capacity to say no or to simply walk away from a bullying man. Moreover, Helen was not dependent on Rob for money as they both worked for the family business and Helen could have left Rob at any time knowing that she had a ready made refuge the family farm for both herself and her child.

Part of the purpose of the year-long storyline was to undoubtedly  attract more listeners (which it reportedly did in large numbers ), but even more it was intended as  a cautionary feminist tale. It was designed  to indoctrinate the audience  with the idea that men are often if not invariably ruthless exploiters and groomers of women, who are reduced to being sexual, emotional and psychological slaves, and that  women may  physically attack their men viciously and get away with it provided they say they are being controlled by their men and believed they were in danger.

This  propaganda has probably  been put out now because there is a recently passed piece of UK legislation – Section 76 of the Serious Crime Act 2015 – which makes the coercion of those in a close relationship, family members or a sexual partner,   a criminal offence carrying a maximum sentence of five years. The Crown Prosecution Service  guidance on behaviours which are included in coercive control  include “Repeatedly putting them down such as telling them they are worthless” and  “Reputational damage”.    Talk about dangerously broad and subjective .

There are two complaints to make of the BBC’s resources being used to make this type of material. The first is  the utterly inept scriptwriting which most importantly  made Helen’s acquittal unbelievable; the second, the use of the BBC as a propaganda  tool in the politically correct interest.  The BBC often does this,  but the Helen/Rob propaganda tool  was extraordinarily one-eyed in intent and astonishingly  crudely  executed.

When the BBC is challenged about bias in a programme their favourite justification is that they attain balance over the whole range of BBC programmes relating to a topic. The use of the Archers over more than a year to promote the “coercion of women”  line unquestioningly is  probably the best example one could find of the BBC not only not  achieving balance over various programmes dealing with a particular subject but making no effort whatsoever to do so.

The intentions of this new law  are made crystal  clear in the Crown Prosecution Service guidance that “The Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Strategy provides an overarching framework for crimes identified as being primarily committed, but not exclusively, by men against women within a context of power and control.” Do not hold your breath waiting for a woman to be prosecuted under this law.

The Archers originally  went out in 1951  with the tagline an everyday story of simple countryfolk. Today it should  have the tagline An  everyday story of paranoid feminist folk.

The Hateful  8 – A tale told by an idiot

Main cast

Samuel L. Jackson as Major Marquis Warren a.k.a. “The Bounty Hunter”

Kurt Russell as John Ruth a.k.a. “The Hangman”

Jennifer Jason Leigh as Daisy Domergue a.k.a. “The Prisoner”

Walton Goggins as Sheriff Chris Mannix a.k.a.”The Sheriff”

Demián Bichir as Bob (Marco the Mexican) a.k.a. “The Mexican”

Tim Roth as Oswaldo Mobray (English Pete Hicox) a.k.a. “The Little Man”

Michael Madsen as Joe Gage (Grouch Douglass) a.k.a. “The Cow Puncher”

Bruce Dern as General Sanford “Sandy” Smithers a.k.a. “The Confederate”

Director and narrator: Quentin Tarantino

Tarantino is a very annoying director, not least because he is still playing the enfant terrible at an age when the thrill of provoking  adults should be long past.  The Hateful Eight contains all  his filmic outraging  stigmata: a great deal of bad and very un-pc language including oodles of “nigger” from the white characters  and  a decent helping of “cracker”  from the sole black character;  much  gory slaughter plus  a new outraging element  in the  Tarantino canon, the frequent brutal treatment of a woman including heavy  punches to her face and her  eventual  death by hanging by suspension.  If his works were classified as torture porn  he could not complain.

The annoying thing is despite his adolescent  mentality and the predictability of the general content and  style of his films, Tarantino so  often makes films  which are insidiously  watchable. We know what to expect ; we know objectively  that we should not approve   of the amoral  world he creates, we know that there will probably be no character who enlists our sympathy or liking,  but he still entices us in and we end up being drawn  to what he produces as spectators are drawn to a motorway  multiple crash.. It is a bit like watching Stanley Matthews  taking on a left back: the left back knew exactly what Matthews would do – drop his right shoulder and go round him – yet it was odds on that Matthews would  sell him a dummy and send him the wrong way.

The plot of Hateful 8  is simple in principle but complex in portrayal because the full facts of the situation are only gradually revealed.   The time is not long after the end of the American Civil War.   John Ruth  (Kurt Russell) is a white  bounty hunter who  likes to take his captures alive to stand trial not because he has any concern for justice, dearie me no,  he simply  likes to see them hang. As a consequence he has earned  the nickname . “The Hangman”.   Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) is a black bounty hunter who takes the rule “dead or alive” to be best observed  by  the “dead” part of the injunction.

Ruth and Warren  are bringing in wanted criminals with handsome bounties attached.  Their destination is  Red Rock, Wyoming.  Ruth  has  a live woman Daisy Domergue  (Jennifer Jason Leigh)  in his custody while  Warren is packing two decidedly dead bodies.  Domergue is part of a notorious criminal  gang headed by her brother, Jody.

The two bounty hunters meet when a stage coach with Ruth and Domergue in it   is stopped by Warren who  climbs aboard. Another passenger  Chris Mannix  (Walton Goggins) is picked up a little later on.  He claims to be the newly appointed sheriff of   Red Rock travelling to the town to take up his position.

The stagecoach stops at  a roadhouse called Minnie’s Haberdashery  to shelter from an ever worsening snowstorm.  Minnie isn’t there but Southern General Sandy Smithers (Bruce Dern), a seeming drifter  Joe Cage (Michael Madsen) who claims to be a cowboy  on his way to visit his mother, and an  English conman and  part-time hangman called Oswaldo Mowbray (Tim Roth) are in residence together  with  Bob “Marco the Mexican” (Demián Bichir, ) who  claims to be  in charge  of the place because  Minnie is visiting her mother.    From the time that the stage coach arrives the  action is set  in or just outside  the roadhouse.

So far so seemingly  simple. Tarantino has created the West’s equivalent of a country  house murder mystery, a cast of characters all neatly stacked in a  tightly confined physical setting.  He even   uses the device loved by the likes of Agatha Christie  whereby there is an examination of  the suspects to a murder (in this case several murders through poisoning with a particularly toxic elixir of death)  while all the suspects are  together. However, unlike a country house murder mystery this is eventually a very  bloody and violent film which can vie with Tarantino’s  Inglorious Basterds or Pulp Fiction for its unashamed delight in gruesome  killing and the infliction of pain..

But the seemingly simple is in reality anything but simple. Apart from General Smithers  none of those who are  at the roadhouse when Ruth and Warren arrive are  what they claim to be and even  General Smithers is acting under duress. Even  Warren shows himself to be  a fantasist at best  by falsely claiming to have a personal  letter written  to him by Abraham Lincoln.

The action in the roadhouse starts relatively quietly with the characters  verbally  fencing with one another, although from the start there is a heavy mist of mutual suspicion,  before  accelerating  into the type of general mayhem  Tarantino loves.   By the end of the film everyone is dead or dying.   Goodies and baddies do not come into it because all the characters are seriously flawed moral  beings.

With the snowstorm raging unabated outside , the story  evolves  with clever use of time shifting as the true nature and circumstances of  those in Minnie’s Haberdashery  when Ruth and Warren arrive  is revealed  through flashbacks. This gives  the action  a staccato quality, especially towards the last third of the film,  as the immediate moment is increasingly  interrupted by  scenes from the recent past .  But this does not matter because the film is not  primarily concerned, as is common with  Tarantino’s films, with a conventional plot. Rather, he is offering the audience a sequence of arresting scenes to constantly capture their attention and   from which  scenes the plot eventually emerges.

There is  a high quality  cast with Kurt Russell  excelling in particular as the  type of self-sufficient frontiersman  character with a  time-beaten face who used to be a staple in Hollywood Westerns. Jennifer Jason  Leigh is stoical but also inexplicably calm until the story unravels to show the true purpose of those already at Minnie’s when Ruth, Warren and Domergue  arrive.  It is true that the main characters  have an large element of  caricature but that is all part of  the Tarantino method , something  Samuel Jackson is especially honours at as he goes splendidly over the top with his character.

Is the film an empty vessel sounding loud?  Looked at rationally the answer is yes because in the end there is no characters who enlist the sympathy of the audience and as is common with Tarantino there seems very little overall point or meaning . He subscribes to MacBeth’s lament “It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury signifying nothing.”   But the thing is  cleverly done  and intriguing spectacle has its place in the cinema.  Worth seeing as a guilty pleasure.

 

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