Category Archives: Book Reviews

The Camp of the Saints  tested against reality

English translation from the French by Norman Shapiro, Professor of French Romance Languages and Literatures Department 3089, Wesleyan University,  Connecticut, USA.   Email nshapiro@wesleyan.edu

The full English text can be found at https://archive.org/stream/CampOfTheSaints/Camp_of_the_Saints_djvu.txt

Robert Henderson

The French writer Jean Raspail’s The Camp of the Saints  was  published in 1973. It is notorious or famous,  according to your politics,  for its story of  the Third World poor successfully invading the First World. The invaders come  armed not with guns and bombs,  but the potent weapons of  their huge  numbers and  the knowledge  that  the self-destructive  ideology of Western elites  – what we would  nowadays call  the “anti-racist” part of political correctness  – had warped the minds of most of those  elites  and also  those  of the masses of  the First World,  who  have been beaten into a state  where they either cannot see when their own interests are being sacrificed on the altar of one worldism or are cowed to the point where  they are paralysed into inaction.

At the time of its writing the  book  was set in twenty or so years in  the future. As the story opens a  fleet of 100 ramshackle ships  dubbed the Ganges Armada  gathers in India and soon  sets off  for Europe.  In the ships are one million of the subcontinent’s poor.  The intention of the Armada is to run  the ships aground on European shores – this is a strictly one way voyage – decant their cargo and present the land on which they descend  with a dilemma, namely,  allow the million  to invade or resist them with force with the ultimate sanction being mass slaughter of the invaders.

It takes  the ships fifty daysto arrive on the northern shores of the Mediterranean with Southern France as the final  destination.   As the Ganges Armada sails the Western elites are either  starry eyed about their dream of a world in which there is no us and them – no nation states, just Mankind  with a capital M –  or paralysed by the one-world propaganda which has been so assiduously fed to them.

Even those members of the elite who do not  believe in the One Worldism  have developed the  peculiar state of mind which arises  when  propaganda is not only incessant but gainsaying the propaganda is seen as   dangerous.  Such people do not embrace the content of the propaganda,  nor play along out of abject and immediate  fear. Rather, they sublimate the fear and develop a feeling that to rebut the propaganda is somehow wrong, although if asked they could not say exactly where the wrongness lay.   The state of mind is akin to that of a person who feels that a sick joke is inappropriate if expressed in company even if it makes them inwardly laugh.  In short, they have been conditioned to think of certain ideas and words as unclean for no other reason that they have been told over and over again that these things are beyond the Pale.   As for the masses,  they have variously bought into the propaganda,   had their true feelings suppressed  by the constant propaganda as described above or  been censored out of public life.

But human nature has not been utterly transformed.  There is the natural  human response to trouble of thinking it will not happen. While the Ganges Armada is a long way off heads are buried in the sand with non-pc thoughts such as that the ships will all be sunk by rough weather and seas  before they reach Europe because of their decrepit state.  Hardly anyone in a position of authority or influence is realistic and honest about the outcome of the Armada if it reaches its destination , namely,  that it will be an invasion which if not resisted will overturn the societies into which the human cargo,  full of misery  and entitlement, is decanted.  Instead they either preach the  message that  the arrival of the Armada will be a great blessing for it will allow the West to show its generosity of spirit by welcoming the invaders with open arms or indulge in the hypocrisy of secretly hoping the ships will founder at sea.

But the weather is unusually clement and the Ganges Armada comes closer and closer until its arrival off the French Mediterranean coast is imminent.  This causes the vast majority of the population of the South of France  to abandon any pretence of seeing the ships’  arrival as anything other than a threat  and the vast majority  flee to the North of France. This is only a temporary place of safety and before  long much of the French elite also hot-foot it  to Switzerland ,  thinking wrongly that it will be a haven against the One Worldist mania –eventually the Swiss fall prey to the same lack of will to resist the invaders and open their borders to the invading Third World hordes.

The most naïve of the  One Worlders advance towards  the point at which the ships will make landfall in the sublimely silly expectation that they will be welcomed with open arms  by the invading one million. Once they  arrive the One Worldist simpletons are at best ignored and at worst attacked. They also find that they are at risk from the Third World immigrants and their descendants who are  already in France.

When the Ganges Armada finally  arrives and  sheds its cargo of one million there is little resistance because not only have most of the population fled , but the  French armed forces prove worthless, most having been robbed of the will to resist the invasion with  brute force by the ceaseless propaganda which has been fed to them.   The result is mass desertions.

The Ganges Armada is only the beginning.  Other fleets full of  Third World  misery to west upon the West  are being prepared. Nor is it just a seaborne invasion. Even as the Ganges Armada is at sea huge numbers of Chinese are massing on the Chinese border with the Asiatic Russian territories.

The novel ends with France overrun and the white native French population reduced to not exactly slavery but an irrelevance as power shifts to the non-white migrants who were either in France before the Armada arrived or are part of the Armada and its successor Third World invasion. The same general thing happens throughout the West, with the white native population everywhere becoming subordinate, becoming strangers in a strange land which was once theirs but is now utterly changed.

How prophetic is  the Camp of the Saints? Raspail understood when he published the  book that it would not  be prophetic in the detail of his imaginings,    but only in his  general  message. Indeed, in  his short preface  he admits that the detail of the action in the book is unrealistic: “I had wanted to write  a lengthy preface to explain my position and show that this is no wild-eyed dream; that even if the specific action, symbolic as it is, may seem farfetched, the fact remains that we are inevitably heading for something of the sort. We need only glance at the awesome population figures predicted for the year 2000, i.e., twenty-eight years from now: seven billion people, only nine hundred million of whom will be white.”

The invasion of the First World has not occurred as  dramatically as Raspail portrayed it. If it had perhaps even the Quisling politically correct  politicians of the West would have been forced to resist it with force,  both because they feared the fury of the people they supposedly represented and for fear of what the reality would be if such an invasion force had landed.  Instead the immigration  has  happened piecemeal, surreptitiously.  There has never been a dramatic massing  of Third World immigrants to gain entry to the First World Promised Land in one fell swoop, just an  incessant trickle through numerous points of entry. The nearest events  to what Raspail describes  are the various boat people  arriving in the West  from Latin America, Africa and Asia. But although large in aggregate,  each individual attempt at invasion contains hundreds at best and most commonly in numbers of less than ten. When seaborne they come not as an imposing  fleet but singly or as a small flotilla  at worst.  More commonly their illegal entry is by plane, train or motor vehicle, a handful at a time.

Where Raspail was  strikingly astute is his prediction of the immense weight of “anti-racist”  politically correct propaganda which the West has seen. He l catalogues all the politically correct grotesquery  we have today with definitive characters.   There are those in positions of authority and influence such Albert Dufort, the trendy radio journalist,  who prostitute themselves and their country by representing  the  Ganges Armada  and the other soon to be launched Third World invasion fleets, not as a threat but as a great opportunity to show their humanity.  There are those drawn from the ethnic minorities already well ensconced in French society such as the  Algerian Ben Suad (who goes by the name of Clement Dio)  whose lives are devoted to biting the hand that feeds them.  Perhaps most forlornly there are the French  young who have  had their natural tribal feeling sucked from them: “ That scorn of a people for  other races, the knowledge that one’s own is best, the triumphant joy at feeling oneself to be part of humanity’s finest — none of that had ever filled these youngsters’ addled brains, or at least so little that the monstrous cancer implanted in the Western conscience had quashed it in no time at all. In their case it wasn’t a matter of tender heart, but a morbid, contagious excess of sentiment, most interesting to find in the flesh and observe, at last, in action.”  Chapter 1

All of this is most impressive because when the book was written political correctness was in its  early stages.  In Britain  a couple of Race Relations Acts  had been passed in 1965 and 1968, and one worldism, especially with a Marxist tinge, was very popular in academia. But there was no general  propagandising of the British population and punishments for being non-pc about race and immigration had barely begun to get a hold on British society. Even in the United States, the most advanced of states promoting  “anti-racist” measures ,  measures such as “positive discrimination” and “affirmative action”  were still in their infancy.  The secular inquisition of individuals accused of pc “crimes” that we know today with people increasingly  being sent to prison or routinely losing their jobs  did not exist. The long march through the institutions still had a good  distance to go.

The book’s general argument that the West would be subject to massive immigration which would radically change their societies  is correct.  In Britain the last national census  in 2011 showed this for the population of England and Wales combined :

White was the majority ethnic group at 48.2 million in 2011 (86.0 per cent). Within this ethnic group, White British1 was the largest group at 45.1 million (80.5 per cent).

The White ethnic group accounted for 86.0 per cent of the usual resident population in 2011, a decrease from 91.3 per cent in 2001 and 94.1 per cent in 1991.

White British and White Irish decreased between 2001 and 2011. The remaining ethnic groups increased, Any Other White background had the largest increase of 1.1 million (1.8 percentage points).

The population of England and Wales at the time of the census was”  56,170,900 in mid-2011, with the population of England estimated to be 53,107,200 and the population of Wales estimated to be 3,063,800”. In a generation the white population, British and foreign , has dropped by 8% and those describing themselves as white British  were only 45 million out of 56 million.

There is also strong evidence that the idea of deliberately encouraging mass immigration of the unassimilable to change Western societies  has been practised by  Western Governments. Think of the words of a Tony Blair special adviser  Andrew Neather :

Eventually published in January 2001, the innocuously labelled “RDS Occasional Paper no. 67”, “Migration: an economic and social analysis” focused heavily on the labour market case.

But the earlier drafts I saw also included a driving political purpose: that mass immigration was the way that the Government was going to make the UK truly multicultural.

I remember coming away from some discussions with the clear sense that the policy was intended – even if this wasn’t its main purpose – to rub the Right’s nose in diversity and render their arguments out of date. That seemed to me to be a manoeuvre too far.

Ministers were very nervous about the whole thing. For despite Roche’s keenness to make her big speech and to be upfront, there was a reluctance elsewhere in government to discuss what increased immigration would mean, above all for Labour’s core white working-class vote.

This shone through even in the published report: the “social outcomes” it talks about are solely those for immigrants.

And this first-term immigration policy got no mention among the platitudes on the subject in Labour’s 1997 manifesto, headed Faster, Firmer, Fairer.

The results were dramatic. In 1995, 55,000 foreigners were granted the right to settle in the UK. By 2005 that had risen to 179,000; last year, with immigration falling thanks to the recession, it was 148,000.

In addition, hundreds of thousands of migrants have come from the new EU member states since 2004, most requiring neither visas nor permission to work or settle. The UK welcomed an estimated net 1.5 million immigrants in the decade to 2008.

In May 2014 the British  think tank Policy Exchange  published a report  on racial  and ethnic minorities entitled A portrait of modern Britain.  The headline grabbing statistic in the report is the claim that ”the five largest distinct Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) communities could potentially double from 8 million people or 14% of the population [now] to between 20-30% by the middle of the century. Over the past decade, the UK’s White population has remained roughly the same while the minority population has almost doubled. Black Africans and Bangladeshis are the fastest growing minority communities with ethnic minorities representing 25% of people aged under the age of five.”

Because immigrants and their descendants  have a substantially greater propensity to breed than that of the native white British population and that fact coupled with  the  much younger average age  of immigrants than that of native Britons means that the Policy Exchange projections are realistic.

What the Camp of the Saints should do is force people to accept at both an intellectual and emotional level what mass immigration represents.   It is a form of conquest,  and conquest of the most pernicious and fundamental   kind when it consists primarily of  those who cannot or will not fully assimilate into the native population. Oncesuch  immigrants are  in a country in large numbers,  the country is faced with two terrible choices:  either capitulate to the fact of  their conquest and allow the country to dissolve  into a motley multicultural mess occupying a single territory or forcibly remove the  immigrants and their descendants through expulsion or  massacre.  Nor should it be imagined that the dissolution of the country into racial/ethnic  blocs will mean an absence of war. History tells a single simple story about racially and ethnically divided territories: violence is an inevitable and ineradicable  part of such societies and the more the different groups within a territory begin to be of equal size the greater the risk of conflict.

The question which Raspail brings us to is this, is the invasion to be permitted through an excessive and fatal excess sentiment or is it to be  resisted through force, including in the final extremity the    mass killing of men , women and children,  or will the invaders be permitted to come, breed and settle the territory of the original population? Mass immigration is conquest, just as surely as an armed invasion is conquest.  A people who forgets that or buries their collective head in the political sand hoping the bogeyman will go away is doomed.

There are weaknesses in the novel purely as a literary work,  although the fact that I am commenting on an English translation should be born in mind. There is little character development, the dialogue is feeble,  the language flowery, there is a good deal of Gallic intellectual exhibitionism and a considerable amount of what I can only describe as a third person stream of consciousness.  The last I must confess is not to my taste. Raspail also gives his story a strong flavour of the leftist student protest of 1968 and the widespread attraction to the Western intelligentsia of Marxism, especially in its Troskyite manifestations.  This seems like another world today  even though the period  is only 40 odd years ago and may make the work seem alien or simply dated to some readers.

But these  weaknesses do not diminish the importance of the book, for it is  Raspail’s general  message which   matters. The message is important both because its general thrust is true and for the shameful fact that it is saying things which if expressed in a new work being offered for publication today would ensure that it did not find a mainstream publisher in the West.

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Democracy and Political Ignorance – Why smaller government is smarter

Ilya Somin

Stanford University Press

ISBN 978-0-8047-8661-4

Does the ignorance of voters matter in a system of representative democracy? Somin thinks it has very serious consequences because it leads voters to make “wrong” decisions and laments the low level of political knowledge in the USA.  (I put wrong  in inverted commas because unfortunately he has a political bias which often makes him equate wrong with “these are not my politics” which are broadly liberal left.  This seriously taints his work).  The book  is primarily concerned with the effects and implications of  voter ignorance on the American political system,  but has implications for any political system, democratic or otherwise,  for as anyone who follows politics closely will be only too well aware  political ignorance is not restricted to voters but afflicts politicians and their advisors.

Listen to a vox pop or phone-in on a political subject  and  the ignorance of the general public can be startling when it comes to the detail of  politics,  not least because  educated respondents are frequently as at sea with political subjects as the uneducated.  Somin cites a large number of prime examples of crass political ignorance amongst Americans. For example, two  2006  polls respectively found that only 42% of Americans could name the three branches of the federal government, the executive (President), legislature (Congress) and judiciary (Supreme Court)  and only 28% could name two or more of the five rights guaranteed by the first amendment (p19). As for specific policies,   a 2010 survey showed that 67% of the population did not know that the economy had grown the previous year, despite the economy being judged as one of the most important policy areas by Americans (p21).

This may be dismaying at first glance, but in practice  it is irrelevant how limited is the detailed political knowledge of an electorate. This  is because no individual,  however diligent, erudite, insightful and intelligent,   could be seriously  knowledgeable about all but a very small proportion of  the problems and policies  arising in a  minimalist state constructed on  the Hayek model, let alone the vast ocean of  policy areas which are  covered in the modern industrial state.   That would apply even if political power was devolved. Indeed, in a devolved situation (and Somin is strongly in favour of devolved power)  the position could be even worse because there could be more to know and understand with multiple jurisdictions to vote for on important issues.

Does this mean that representative democracy should be done away with? Not a bit of it. Even though he is worried about democratic outcomes based on ignorance and sceptical about the chances of improving political knowledge amongst  voters, Somin in the end comes down in favour of it: “Despite political ignorance, democracy retains many advantages over rival systems of government.” (P199).

Indeed it does. Whether electors can make considered decisions on all matters or even the vast majority of issues  is not really the point of representative democratic politics.  What matters is the fact that such a political system  can best restrain the naturally abusive tendencies of elites and provide by far the best  legal mechanisms for the formal and peaceful transition of power, something which  makes coups and civil war much less probable.

Voters  can meaningfully answer the big political questions. They can oppose mass immigration on the rational ground that this is an invasion of territory which utterly changes their country. They can say whether they  want their country to go to war. The can approve or disapprove of whether political correctness should or should not be part of their country’s legal system. They can say whether they feel more comfortable with a welfare state or no welfare state. They can make a meaningful choice on whether they wish their country to be part of a supranational bloc such as the EU. They can decide what punishment should be meted out to criminals. They can say yea or nay to whether  essential industries should be  in public hands. Electors can also make purely rational  decisions  (for example, those made simply on arithmetical grounds) on competition for resources, for example, it is perfectly rational to oppose immigration on the grounds that it increases competition for housing, education, jobs and welfare.

The fact that voters’  answers to such questions, if they were ever allowed to vote on them in referenda,  would  generally run contrary to the wishes of elites in  countries such as the USA  and Britain and are routinely  thwarted by those  elites,   tells us that the real reason  voters are denied the chance to directly make decisions about policy is not that they are incapable of doing so on  many major issues,  but rather that the opinions of voters are opposed to those with power, wealth and influence.

A major problem with the book is the fact Somin  wants politics to be a science, to have an objective reality like physics. In the long  distant past when I was a history and politics undergraduate I had  to take a compulsory  course  entitled Modern Political Analysis. This involved flow charts, graphs and formulae which  purported to elevate the  study of politics to the level of a science. Politics students were solemnly expected to take seriously, say, a flow chart which started with a box marked electorate, had boxes marked with words such as election and  government before ending  with a box marked democratic outcome (I kid you not).     Democracy and Political Ignorance is cut from the same misdirected intellectual cloth, nothing like  so crudely but still in a marvellously wrongheaded manner which assumes that the democratic process can be reduced to quantifiable  data. He even has a few formulae such as this  gruesome  example:

“Assume that UV equals utility of voting, CV equals the cost of voting and  D equals the expected difference in welfare per person if the voter’s preferred candidate defeats her opponent. Let us further assume that this is a presidential election in a nation with three hundred people,, that the voter’s ballot has only a one  in one hundred chance of being decisive , and the they voter values the welfare of his fellow citizens an average of a thousand time less than his own. .. thus we get the following equation D(300 million/1000)/ (100 million) – CV = Uv  (p67).

That is the general error of the book, to imagine that human behaviour can be reduced to a miscellany of objective fact which can be used to determine how people  should (or even would of necessity)  behave if only they were in full possession of these facts.  This matters greatly because the vast majority of   political decisions have no objective truth or falsity.

The particular mistakes Somin makes are  to imagine that there is such a thing as perfect information which leads to  objectively  right answers to political questions and  to approach the subject of political ignorance  from a politically correct starting point, something he banally and  tiresomely signals by  assiduously alternating  she and her with he and his as a generic term for humanity  throughout the book.

It is true that Somin attempts to give an appearance of even-handedness, splattering his analysis  with qualifications, but somehow he always comes down on the liberal left “right on” side. Take the question of judicial review to which he devotes an entire chapter.  He hums and haws over how undemocratic this is  because it overrides the majority will but in the end concludes “Once we  recognise that ignorance is a pervasive element of modern democracy, the counter-majoritarian difficulty turns into a much less than previously assumed.” This is because “Much of the legislation subject to judicial review is not actually the product of informed democratic consent.”  (p169).

His political correctness also drives him to the conclusion that some political knowledge can be damaging: “Why might political knowledge exacerbate the harm caused by an electorate with bad values? Consider an electoral majority that is highly racist and wants to inflict as much harm as possible on  a despised racial minority. If such racist voters become more knowledgeable about the effects of government policies, they might force elected officials to implement policies that increase the  minority group’s suffering.” (P54).

That might seem a reasonable position at first glance, but a few moments consideration will reveal the dangers involved in it. What would constitute racism? After all, governments of all colours routinely favour incidentally or deliberately one group over another,  whether the group be defined by race, ethnicity or class. At the present time governments in the Western world, and especially the USA, have favoured the have over the have-nots in their economic policies. This means the poor have been most disadvantaged by the policies. Ethnic and racial minorities tend to be poorer on average than the majority population,  Does that mean the policies are racist? Trying to objectively define what was racist behaviour by a government would in practice would be impossible because inevitable judgements would be highly subjective.  A real can of worms.

Somin gives a further hostage to fortune when it comes to subjectivity with ‘This book does not provide a defense of any particular vision of political morality. But unless we adopt the view that all values are equally good – including those of racists and Nazis [note that he does not include Marxists who have been responsible for far more deaths than the Nazis] –  we must admit that good political knowledge might sometimes be put in the service of “bad” values.’ (p55)

Political correctness also damagingly colours  Somin’s judgement of what is a fact.  Two examples. First, he claims  that the  mistreatment of blacks in post slavery  USA was in part built on the belief of  whites  that blacks were prone to excessive criminality and every black man was just waiting to rape white women; second,  that hostility towards homosexuals and lesbians is in part the result of  ignorance about the likelihood that sexual orientation is genetically determined (p10).

The danger with overt human reasons is that they are often a mask for the real covert ones. Hence, whether post-slavery white America did genuinely fear black criminality is not necessarily the real issue. Human beings will use justifications for likes and dislikes which are not the real reasons for their choices when they feel either that they simply do not like something without having any clear idea why (everyone has probably experienced an immediate dislike for someone as soon as they have been introduced) or are afraid for legal and social reasons that their motivation for holding a view  would be unacceptable or even dangerous for them if expressed. That is the position with anything which is deemed non-pc today . Whites  in the old slave owning states may  have used any number of rationalisations  for segregation post-slavery,  while their actual motivation was  that they did not see blacks as their equals or,   more fundamentally,  simply as different, as not part of the national American “tribe”. There is, incidentally,  nothing inherently irrational about that. Human beings have, as do  all social animals, an innate desire to  associate with  those whom they see as sharing the same characteristics as themselves. Ultimately, humans are driven by desires not reason because it is from emotions that motives arise.  If this were not so, humans would be automata.

Another serious problem with Somin’s examples of false information is that he routinely presents  baldly asserted or weakly supported opinions  as  either  hard fact or as having a high probability of being true.  His  position on homosexuality and lesbianism is a good example.  There is no conclusive evidence that homosexuality or lesbianism are genetically determined, but even if it was so proven it would not mean that it was irrational to dislike such behaviour  or feel uncomfortable with its existence. There could be sound evolutionary reasons why people are hostile to homosexuality and lesbianism, for example,  the rejection of the individual who does not breed and help the continuation of the “tribe”.  That does not mean there should be persecution of gays and lesbians. Rather, it is a plea to not to pretend that something is an objective fact when it is not.

There is also the fundamental difficulty of how any objectively true information could exist in some instances. Take Slomin’s post-slavery claim.   It is not  irrational to have a fear that an enslaved group once set free might wreck physical revenge on the group which had held them enslaved.  That being so, it is difficult to see how American whites who believed that could have their fears assuaged by more  knowledge. In the nature of things there could be no such knowledge available to decide  the question  of whether freed slaves and their descendants  would be violently criminal if left to live without any strict social control,  for  that knowledge could  only exist  by testing the matter with the removal of   the repressive conditions under which blacks lived.  If whites feared mayhem would result if such conditions were removed,  they could not make a rational decision to end those  conditions.  In this context it  is worth noting that there has been a considerable growth in the  number of violent crimes perpetrated by blacks on whites in the USA since the civil rights movement and the end of segregation in the 1960s and they are now pro rata hugely greater in number than  crimes of violence committed by whites on blacks (http://www.examiner.com/article/federal-statistics-of-black-on-white-violence-with-links-and-mathematical-extrapolation-formulas). There is also the experience of  post-Apartheid South Africa where black murders of whites, and particularly white farmers, has been considerable. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-22554709).

None of this is to  argue for slavery or segregation.  I am simply examining the situation from the viewpoint of the  mental state of whites, especially those in the slave states, after the end of slavery. Whether or not their fears were justified is not the issue.  What matters is that it would be a rational fear and,  indeed,  it was precisely the fear expressed in all the cases of ending slavery or other forms of unfreedom, from the British ending of slavery to the freeing of the serfs in Russia.

Somin  also has a full blown faith in laissez faire economics. That might seem to sit oddly with his political correctness but, that ideology does not have  a fixed menu. Its core ancestral beliefs are the triad of race, gay rights and feminism, of which race is by far the most toxic and is the springboard which has allowed the other parts of political correctness to develop and grow.  However, other things have been added over the past forty years. One of those is a belief in laissez faire economics and free trade (the two are distinct for free trade merely means the exchange of goods and services produced between radically different economic systems).  That laissez faire  and free trade are an integral part of political correctness at present can be readily seen from the fact that support for globalism (which of course includes free movement of  peoples and the undermining the nation state) is now a core part of political correctness. That does not mean laissez faire and free trade  will remain a core part and, indeed,  I see the first signs of the pc wind changing on the matter of economics, but it is as yet a nascent development.

Somin’s  belief in it provides another example of  a highly contentious claim  which is effectively unsupported – he  merely says it is the opinion of most economists “…voters who support protectionist policies in the erroneous expectation that they will benefit the economy as a whole rather than weaken it will also end up undermining their own goals” (p6)

The reality is that  historically, protectionism has often been very successful, for example, the British industrial revolution occurred behind one of the most comprehensive and successful protectionist walls in the shape of the Navigation Acts and the Old Colonial System the world has ever seen.  All the countries which followed the British lead most successfully did so behind protectionist barriers.

Interestingly, Somin does not address the fact that it is not just a lack of interest or education which stops people becoming politically knowledgeable, but also lack of innate qualities such as intelligence, intellectual inclination and  extroversion. Perhaps that is because his politics debar him from believing that people will or will not do or be something because that is the way they are born. That would fit into his modern liberal mindset.  IQ is particularly important because the lower the IQ the less ability to handle abstractions or complex data. This is not a trivial matter because at least ten percent of the population of Western states have IQs of 80 or less . That is the level which most psychologists working in the field of IQ believe that a person begins to struggle to live an independent life in an advanced modern society.

Somin is much taken with the concepts of rational ignorance and rational irrationality.  Rational ignorance  is the idea that voters do not devote time to educating themselves about political issues because they make a rational decision that  their votes will count for next to nothing. I sincerely doubt whether anyone actually makes a decision to remain ignorant on that basis, although they may use it as an excuse for being politically ignorant.

But even if voters did make a considered decision to remain ignorant it would not self-evidently be a rational decision. To begin with there are  many electoral circumstances  where a vote is important. That is true where the electorate is small or a seat is marginal. Under the first past the post system used in Britain there are a considerable number of seats where the main party candidates are near enough in their support to make voting a far from redundant business. But even where there is no  main party candidate who appeals to an elector  or one of the main party candidates is odds on certain to win there is still a point in voting. To begin with if turnout is persistently low it could be used  by those with power to argue for a restricted franchise or even no franchise at all.  Then there is the overall vote a party gets. If, for example, a party or presidential candidate gets elected with less of the popular vote  than their main opponent their mandate is weakened.  If all else fails, a vote for a candidate of a minor party such as UKIP in Britain,  the  minor  presidential candidate in the USA  or a spoiled ballot sends a public message about the state of elector dissatisfaction with the mainstream parties. Somin is not entirely blind to such objections,  but mysteriously and annoyingly they appear to carry little weight with him.

Rational irrationality  is the brainchild of the  economist Bryan Caplan. The idea is  that voters not only have incentives to remain ignorant but also incentives to “engage in highly biased  evaluation of  the information they do have” (p13).  The tempting response to this is a sarcastic “Dearie me, who would have thought it?”

Pursuing the idea of rational irrationality,  Somin likens  the politically interested who are seriously committed to supporting political parties to  fans of sports teams who support their team blindly,  generally give weight to information which boosts  their team and disregard that which does not.  The rewards for doing so are emotional. This of course is not irrational behaviour  because it is natural for human beings to indulge their “tribal” instincts and defend their position and that of their group.

Where rational ignorance and rational irrationality come together, they are to Somin’s mind the most toxic political democractic cocktail, one which could only be overcome or at least ameliorated if those pesky voters would just become “correctly” informed.

What are Somin’s solutions to reduce what he sees as the harm of voter  ignorance?  It is to reduce the amount which government does (with much of the slack being taken up by private enterprise)  and bring as much as possible of politics to the local or regional level, viz: . “Despite political ignorance, democracy retains many advantage over rival systems of government. Nonetheless  , political ignorance will probably continue to be a serious weakness of democratic government. We are unlikely to eliminate that weakness completely. [another example of the blindingly obvious] . But we can reduce its dangers by limiting and decentralising the role of government in society”  p199

There are real  problems with both of these policies. In a large industrialised society government of necessity has to do a considerable amount, whether that is at the local or national level.  There have to be good communications for people, goods and information. A universal school system is unlikely to exist  if it is not in large part funded by the taxpayer. Defence and the maintenance of law and order cannot reasonably be left to private initiatives. Foreign policy, especially for a super-power such as the USA, has wide-reaching ramifications for domestic policy and is frequently very complex to master.

As already mentioned, it would not matter how rigorously the areas of action for government were curtailed, that pruning would not come close to making the voter’s task of informing themselves sufficiently to make considered decisions when voting light enough to be practical. If the present burden of legislation was halved in countries such as the USA and Britain it would not make a blind bit of difference to the problem of political interference because there would still be vastly more for the individual to master than any individual could manage. Even in the minimalist libertarian state there would still be a good deal of legislation and government administration, far too much for any one person to master in sufficient detail to make them informed on all or even most issues.  This limitation also applies to elected full time politicians.

It might be objected that the Internet has made the acquiring of information vastly simpler. That may be true, although it presupposes that people will know enough to look for what they need. But even if they find the information how is the ordinary person to know whether the information is correct or the whole truth? The answer is that they cannot possibly be expected to do so. However intelligent a person is, they are not going to be able to judge the veracity and completeness of claims from seemingly unimpeachable sources if they  do  not have access to the raw data  on which research conclusions are made. Such data is rarely available. There is also the problem of who controls public information.   If   government agencies and the large media corporations are the main sources of such information, the public will only get the received opinion of the elite most of the time there being a great deal of  shared ideology and collusion between the various parts of the elite:  politicians and the public bodies they control,  the mainstream media, big business and not-for-profit organisations such as the larger charities.

As for decentralisation of  politics,  the more local the decision making the smaller the pool of political talent available. This may well result in poorer decisions being made, especially where the policy is complex.  It is also true that if the number of political bodies which can raise and spend taxes  increases, the opportunities for corruption  increase and this generally means more corruption.

Then there is the question of exactly what should be devolved from the centre. There would never be anything approaching  general agreement on that.  Even within the individual there would be intellectual confusion and inconsistency. Take Somin as an example. He would have a conflict between the idea of decentralisation and his politically correct view of the world. One of the reasons Somin favours  the idea of decentralisation is because it offers the opportunity for foot voting, that is,  a person moving from one jurisdiction to another in search of policies more to their liking, literally voting with their feet.   But for  someone of his  political orientation, there is the  unfortunate fact that the more local politics becomes,  the greater the opportunity for racial and ethnic groups to exploit their dominance of an area to their advantage. It is difficult to imagine Somin thinking that federal action to enforce politically correct behaviour throughout America would be damaging or that he would  readily  tolerate  a local jurisdiction which, for example, refused to apply equal rights laws.

Overall all Somin is gloomy about the likelihood of political knowledge increasing.  He glumly points to the fact that despite rising IQ scores, educational standards and the great ease of access to information because of the Internet over recent decades,  there has been little increase in political knowledge during that time (p199) or of rationality (in his terms).

Perhaps most damaging  for Somin’s desire for greater political knowledge is research (which he cites)  that suggests that the more knowledgeable voters are  “more biased in their evaluation of  new evidence than those with less prior information”( P80).  If this is true – and it is very plausible because the more data someone has, the greater the material from which  to construct arguments – then the whole idea of a better educated electorate producing superior outcomes falls completely to pieces.

The primary problem with democracy at present is not voter ignorance – which in any case cannot be reasonably expected to improve – is the way in which elites have hijacked the process by adopting very similar policies on all the major issues – a commitment to ever more restrictive political correctness, the use of the law to effectively ban dissent from their views, their control of the mainstream media and perhaps most damaging for democratic control, the movement of national politics to the supranational level. The most complete example of the last is the EU which now controls a remarkably wide range of policy areas in whole or part, everything from immigration to labour laws.

The answer to this is to constrain representatives both in what they promise and what they deliver or fail to deliver. This can be done in various  ways, for example,  by tying the representative firmly to a constituency which they have lived in for a long time, by making any candidate standing for election put forward his policy position on all the major issues, by making it illegal for any elected representative to renege on his policy as stated in an election manifesto and outlawing any system of party coercion such as the British practice of whipping MPs (that is instructing those of a party to vote en bloc in support of the party’s policy) .

There is an important book to be written about voter ignorance  within a democracy.  Sadly this is not it. I don’t deny that he has written a densely argued book which systematically works out his ideas.  The problem is that he is completely wrong headed in his premises. Consequently, his arguments count for nothing. However, the book is  worth reading as a first rate example of the attempts of those working in what are mistakenly called the  “social sciences” to pretend that these subjects  are bona fide sciences just like physics and chemistry and a very revealing look into the modern liberal mind.

Book review – The Liberal Delusion

John Marsh, Arena Books, £12.99
Robert Henderson
“Is Western society based on a mistake?” asks John Marsh in his introduction. The possible mistake he considers is whether liberals have a disastrously wrong concept of what human beings are and what determines their behaviour  which leads them to favour policies that are radically out of kilter with the way human beings are equipped by their biology to live.
It is not that liberals do not believe in human nature as is often claimed. It can seem that they do  because they insist that nurture not nature is the entire font of human behaviour and consequently it is just a matter of creating the right social conditions to produce the type of people and society the liberal has as their ideal. But liberals balance this rationale on a belief that humans are naturally good, an idea which itself assumes innate qualities. Hence, they believe in an innate human nature but not one which bears any resemblance to reality.
The belief that disagreeable aspects of human nature do not exist and that all human beings are innately good is a product of the Enlightenment, where it took its most extreme and ridiculous  form in the concept of the ‘noble savage’. Marsh will have none of it. He debunks the idea thoroughly. He sees human beings as not naturally wholly good or bad but the product of natural selection working on the basic behaviours of humans. In this opinion he leans heavily on the Canadian-born evolutionary biologist Steven Pinker who in his The Blank Slate dismisses the idea of the noble savage with a robust
A thoroughly noble anything is an unlikely product of natural selection, because noble guys tend to finish last. Nice guys get eaten
If there is no rational reason why anyone should  think that human beings are innately good , why do so many, especially of amongst the elite, fall for the idea? Marsh attributes the phenomenon to the idea being emotionally attractive. There is plentiful evidence for this. One of the pleasures of the book is its first rate line in quotes, many of which are staggering in their naivety. He cites the grand  panjandrum of atheism and a fervent believer  in innate human goodness Richard Dawkins as writing in The God Delusion
I dearly want to believe we don’t need policing – whether by God or each other – in order to stop us behaving in a selfish or criminal manner
So much for Dawkins’ scientific rationality.

A religious realist – Baltasar Gracian, author of the Art of Worldly Wisdom
Or take the case of A. S. Neill, founder of  the famous or infamous (depending on your politics) Summerhill School, which did not require anything in particular from its pupils:
I cannot believe that evil is inborn or that there is original sin…. We set out to make a school where children were free to be themselves. In order to do this we had to renounce all discipline, all direction, all suggestion, all moral training, all religious instruction…We had a complete belief in the child as a good, not an evil being. For over forty years this belief in the goodness of the child has not wavered
That is a quasi-religious statement no different from a Catholic saying they believe in the Trinity.
In the first half of the book Marsh questions and finds wanting in varying degrees just about everything the modern liberal holds dear: that human nature is good and rational and formed by nurture alone, that freedom is the primary end sought by humans, that morality is a set of shackles rather than a safety catch on human behaviour, that science is an unalloyed good, that religion is no more than harmful fairy stories; that a county’s history and customs are at best unimportant and at worst a malevolent means of maintaining an undesirable status quo, that economics should be determined by the market, that universalism and multiculturalism are unquestionably desirable, equality is always beneficial, and the idea that the individual has primacy over the group.
Some of these liberal ‘goods’ are contradictory, for example, the clash between equality and the individual. To enforce equality inevitably means impinging on the wishes of individuals. Doubtless a liberal would argue that the individual should only have their wishes met insofar as they do not impinge upon the wishes of others. In practice that means a great deal of coercion to prevent individuals satisfying their own wishes, and often such coercion occurs where individuals have perfectly reasonable and moral wishes which cannot be satisfied at the same time. For example, two sets of parents may want to send their children to the same school where there is only room for one child.
There are also heavy question marks over whether modern liberals actually believe in individual freedom. The idea that human beings should and can be manipulated into behaving in a certain way by producing social circumstances which engender the desired behaviour is determinist. Where is the freedom if human beings are seen merely as automata responding to the stimuli of their circumstances? Nor is the ‘freedom’ liberals are supposed to espouse a general freedom. The individual in modern Britain may be free to drink what they can afford to buy, or be as sexually promiscuous as they choose, but they are not allowed any freedom of speech which attacks the core values of political correctness. Who would have thought even twenty years ago that English men and women would be appearing in the dock for saying things which went against the politically correct ethos, but that is precisely what is happening with increasing frequency.
It is also arguable that the modern liberal is interested not in individuals but groups. It is true that human ‘rights’ are exalted by liberals, but these are not really individual rights but communal ones. For example, a law which grants free expression or insists on due process is an individual right because it applies in principle to all. Conversely, if (for instance) ‘hate speech’ is made illegal, this is a de facto communal right given to particular groups, because in practice certain groups enjoy much greater protection than others, for the police and prosecuting authorities are not even-handed in their application of the law.
The second part of the book is devoted to the morally disreputable means by which liberals have propagated their beliefs. Marsh is unforgiving about this aspect of liberalism. It involves persistent dishonesty when dealing with evidence which contradicts their world view. The dishonesty consists of both calling black white and conscientiously ignoring and suppressing that which contradicts the liberal world view. In the case of Britain he singles out the BBC as being hopelessly biased towards the liberal left world view, with a particularly strong line in Anglophobia, something he illustrates by citing the BBC’s After Rome, a programme which painted Dark Ages Islam as a vibrant civilisation and Dark Ages England as primitive and barbaric (p152).
The author laments the fact that liberals have generally been silent on the abuses of Communist regimes whilst engaged in a never ending raking over of Nazi malevolence. He cites as a rare and most honourable leftist exception Malcolm Muggeridge, who exposed the Stalin-inspired Ukrainian famine and searingly described the all too many useful idiots of the British liberal left at the time:
Travelling with radiant optimism through a famished countryside, wandering in happy bands about squalid overcrowded towns, listening with unshaken faith to the fatuous patter of carefully indoctrinated guides, repeating the bogus statistics and mindless slogans – all chanting the praises of Stalin and the Dictatorship of the Proletariat (p138)
There is a further problem which Marsh spends a good deal of time examining. It is not clear exactly what constitutes the modern liberal. Many of the most enthusiastic enforcers of what we now call  political correctness do not call themselves liberals, but are members of the hard left or  representatives of ethnic and racial minorities who see political correctness not as a moral corrective but as an instrument to promote their individual and ethnic group advantage, often with the greatest cruelty. Nor is this simply a modern phenomenon for it has been happening since the 18th century.
Marsh patiently records atrocities in gruesome detail generated by those following secular and rationalistic systems of thought deriving from the ideas of Enlightenment, from the grotesque slaughter of the French Revolution to the insanities of various communist and fascist regimes in the 20th century. This is a truly depressing catalogue not merely of murder on a colossal scale but murder committed with atrocious cruelty. His tale of atrocity begins with the suppression of the Vendée rebellion by Republicans during the French Revolution, where men were castrated before death and women killed by explosives detonated within their vaginas, to the madness of Mao’s “Cultural Revolution” which rode on slogans such as “smash the old culture“ and the terrible promise of the Red  Guards that “We will be brutal”.
Marsh’s judgement of liberalism both in its beliefs and the practical consequences of its implementation verges on the despairing:
To sum up: in the past there were positive aspects to liberalism, but at its core lies a deeply flawed attempt to impose a romantic, but unrealistic, view of human nature on society. Because it is fundamentally untrue, lies, bullying and coercion are needed to impose it, and opponents must be silenced. Because its view of mankind is idealistic, its devotees think it must be true, and are strongly committed to it. It is congenial to people who are well-meaning and who have a naïve rose-tinted view of the world, which avoids dwelling too much on the ugly side of life, like the single mum in a tower block in Tottenham, trying to keep her children safe and worrying about gangs and knife crime. It is in denial of the fact that many aspects of life are worse today than in the past. Liberals cling to their views, ignoring the evidence of science, psychology, anthropology, history and social workers. It is a blind faith in a Utopian project , which blithely dismisses reality and regards its opponents as prejudiced. There is nothing to discuss because we are right. Sadly, for its devotees, truth will out in the end. The experiment was foredoomed from the start (p171)
Damning as that judgement is, I think Marsh is being rather too generous to liberals (especially the modern ones) when he credits them with being generally well-meaning. They are ideologues. That makes them dangerous, because any ideology removes personal choice in moral decision making as the mind becomes concentrated on fitting the ideology to circumstance rather than addressing each circumstance pragmatically. As Marsh points out, it also gives the individuals captured by the ideology an excuse to behave immorally in the enforcement of the ideology on the principle that ends justify means. That is particularly so with ideologies which are what might be called millenarian in their psychology, with a promised land at the end of the ideological road. Political correctness is of this type.
Once someone has accepted the validity of ends justifying means and they know or even suspect  that the means will cause harm, that removes any claim to being well intentioned because their final end good intentions are swallowed by the immoral means. Nor can any ideologue, liberals included, rationally have any confidence that a great upheaval of a society will result in their desired ideological ends. What history tells us is that tyranny or chaos are invariably the results of such attempts.
There is also a tremendous arrogance in assuming that it is possible to define what is desirable human behaviour and what is a good society. Liberals may imagine that what they purport to be the ultimate human goods – non-discrimination, equality and the primacy of any individual are objectively what they claim – but in reality they are both no more than value judgements and highly questionable in terms of their outcomes. Modern liberals, or at least the true believers, are really just another set of self-serving egotists who think they know how others should live.
There is a looming leviathan throughout the book that is largely ignored, namely mass immigration and its consequences. Marsh to his credit does mention immigration as a problem, both in terms of weakening British identity and causing resentment amongst the native white population, but it does not feature in more than a peripheral way. Marsh never really asks the question “how much of the change in general British behaviour and the nature of British society in the past fifty years is due to mass immigration?” The answer is arguably a great deal, because multiculturalism and ‘anti-racism’ have been used as levers to promote the ‘anti-discrimination’ and ‘equality’ agendas across the board.
In the end Marsh stumbles in his task of debunking modern liberalism, because he is reluctant to face the full implications of what he is saying. In his introduction he writes,
So is this book a straight-forward attack on liberalism? No. It is not as simple as that. There are some areas in which I believe liberals are right. I acknowledge that some liberalism is necessary and beneficial. Few would want to go back to the restrictions of the Victorian era or live under a despot. There was also a need to free us from a negative attitude towards sex. Liberals are right to be concerned about inequality and to fight for social justice. There still remain great inequalities and their campaign for greater fairness deserves support. I welcome the undermining of the class system, the greater opportunities open to women and the improved treatment of racial and sexual minorities – the decriminalisation of homosexuality
He cannot quite bring himself to go all the way and see modern liberalism for what it is, a pernicious system increasingly aimed at suppressing the resentment and anger of the native British population as the consequences of mass immigration become ever more obvious and pressing. Clearly he agrees with much of the central politically correct agenda, but it is precisely that agenda which has created the present situation and it is difficult to see how such an ideology could ever have resulted in any other outcome once it became the guiding ideology of the elite – because the ends of political correctness run directly against human nature and can only be enforced.
Marsh’s sympathy with political correctness leads him wittingly or unwittingly to risk having his  argument distorted by concentrating not on the whole but a part of British society and treating that part as representative of Britain. Take the question of liberalism undermining the poor by making them dependent on the state and denying them moral guidance at home and in school. Marsh uses an interview with the youth worker Shaun Bailey (chapter 11) who works in a poor area of  London. The problem is that Bailey is black and this colours his interpretation of what is happening. He looks at the experience of blacks and treats that experience as representative of the poor generally, which it is not. For example, poor white Britons may have a greater incidence of one-parent homes and fathers deserting mothers now than previously, but the incidence of these behaviours amongst poor whites is much lower than it is amongst poor blacks, whether British born or  immigrants. Yet Bailey’s views are represented as being generally applicable to British society.
Despite these caveats, I strongly urge people to read the book. The Liberal Delusion is important because it succinctly performs the task of pointing out that the liberal emperor has no clothes or at least very tattered and insufficient ones. That is something which is sorely needed. The book’s value is enhanced by being  written in a lively and easily accessible style. Just read it with an understanding of the limitations imposed by Marsh’s residual, almost subliminal, hankering after the core values of political correctness.
First published in The Quarterly Review

http://www.quarterly-review.org/?p=1790

See also The Liberal Bigot

Ethnic Conflicts (review)

Tatu Vanhanen
ISBN 978-0-9573913-1-4Ulster Institute for Public ResearchUK £23 hard cover, £18 paperback

By Robert Henderson

This is not a book designed for easy bedtime reading. It is an academic’s work  written first and foremost for academics with a fair amount of statistics in it.   Having said that, if a prospective reader managed to get to grips with, say, The Bell Curve they should be able to absorb the important messages of Prof Vanhanen’s book and understand how he arrives at them.   It is worth making the effort because  he deals with the most fundamental sociological aspect of being human: how do we manage the challenges produced by heterogeneous societies?

The Profesor’s   first  aim was  to measure the relationship  between the ethnic heterogeneity of a society and ethnic conflict..  There are  considerable difficulties in doing this not least  because what may be thought of as ethnic conflict by one person may be seem  by another as conflict based on something else such as class.  For example, an ethnic group which is black and poor and rebels against the better off  in society who are white (a not uncommon state in Latin America) could be represented as being either ethnically motivated or class motivated.

 There is also the  general problem of what constitutes ethnicity.  Prof Vanhanen’s  definition is  very broad and includes racial type, nation, tribe,  language and  religion. While these are undoubtedly all distinctions which cause people to exhibit what might be loosely called tribal behaviour, its breadth  does raise the question of whether   racial type, nation, tribe,  language and  religion are really comparable in terms of how people respond to those inside and outside the group .  For example, it may be that where the ethnic division is one of religion between those of the same racial type and general culture representative government will mitigate ethnic tensions,  while if the division is racial,  representative government may do nothing to stop discord.

There is a further  cause for confusion in that more than one of Prof Vanhanen’s  ethnic  criteria is frequently shared by an ethnic group or even more confusingly by two conflicting ethnic groups.  Muslims are  a good example. In theory there is meant to be no distinctions made between Muslims on the grounds of sectarian allegiance, racial type, tribe  or  nationality. In the real world  there are marked divisions within  the theology  of Islam and tribal and national allegiances which often override the supposed unity of Muslims.  The danger with the very broad definition the Professor uses  is that the process of defining  reduces the world to so many different ethnicities that it becomes difficult to distinguish between ethnic conflict and  non-ethnic violence which he ascribes to the  “endless struggle for permanently scarce resources”.

Having made those qualifications, of which Prof Vanhanen is  well  aware, the project does not utterly founder on them. It is a mistake to imagine that nothing valuable can be gleaned from using  criteria  which have a fuzziness about them.   That is especially so if the sample is large enough because a large sample in social science projects digests anomalies.  As there are few societies now which do not have some basis for significant ethnic conflict the professor is able to cast his net very widely amongst 176 countries, around nine tenths of those currently existing.

But the Professor  wants not only to test whether ethnic heterogeneity  is correlated with ethnic conflict;  he also wishes to see if  ethnic nepotism  is a driver of ethnic conflict: “My argument is that ethnic cleavages divide the population into groups  that are, to some extent,  genetically different.”  (p7).  The concept of ethnic nepotism which  is based on the idea that it is an extension of family nepotism, that those belong to the same ethnic group favour those within  the group  over outsiders. (It is important to bear in mind that  Prof Vanhanen does not claim that ethnic nepotism is the cause of all group based   conflict, merely that it explains why  conflict in many societies is so often based on ethnic divisions).

To test this hypothesis   Prof Vanhanen  devised his own scales of ethnic heterogeneity and ethnic conflict and compares them with non-ethnic measures devised by others  such as the Human Development Index and The Index of Democratisation”.  He found only weak correlations between the non-ethnic measures but  a strong correlation between ethnic heterogeneity and ethnic conflict (p214). In other words his research suggests that  the greater the ethnic diversity in a society the greater the ethnic strife, although there are significant variations between the various traits which he includes in his definition of ethnicity.

I have something of a problem with the concept of ethnic nepotism in the context of  Prof Vanhanen’s definition of ethnicity because it includes non-genetic differences such as language and  religion.  It is true that those who are racially similar will be genetically closer than those who are racially different.  It is also true that those who form a large tribe or a nation in the cultural sense will in practice be genetically closer than those outside the group.   The possession of a particular language  by a group  is also a strong pointer  to close genetic  links unless there is some obvious difference such as race or the language spoken not as a native would speak it.   Religion is more problematic because  that is something that can be  simply acquired. If a man says he is a Catholic or Muslim it does not  necessarily say anything about his genetic connection with other Catholics or Muslims. Nonetheless,  if the Catholic or Muslim comes from the same country or even supranational  area, there is a decent chance that he will have a closer  genetic  relationship with other Catholics and Muslims from the area than would be expected purely from chance.

The difficulty is that although a significant genetic linkage will commonly exist because of the way human beings live in groups,  whether that is a small band or a modern nation,  it does not automatically follow that the genetic similarity is what causes the ethnic nepotism. It could be that the simple fact of growing  up with people creates a tribal feeling rather than genetic closeness.  Moreover, what are we to make of the “imagined community” of any group where the numbers are too great to allow personal knowledge of all those in the group?  I do not doubt that differences of religion, nation, tribe, language  and  race do act as triggers for the separation of groups in competing entities, but  with the exception of race I cannot see that  genetic  influence is proven to be other than accidental.  Where there are divisions in a society based on clear racial lines that is a different matter because there is self-evidently a genetic cause for the preference for one class of person in a society over another class of person.

The book ignores what I would describe as the most basic ethnic conflict, that is,  the behaviour of individuals to disadvantage someone of a different ethnicity without there being any deliberate group decision or action. A good example is the grossly disproportionate number of  black rapes and murders of whites in the USA.   That situation is clearly driven by racial feelings with blacks either harbouring a general resentment of whites or simply seeing whites as outside their group and thus not of consequence. However, the latter explanation does not hold much water because blacks do not attack Asians  with the same frequency.

Are there remedies for ethnic strife? Prof Vanhanen suggests four: biological mixing, institutional reforms, democratic compromises and partition.  Of these only partition even in theory offers a complete  solution to ethnic strife with the prospect of a completely ethnically homogeneous society or at least one in which the minorities are so small as to barely matter.  The problem with partition is that it is probably never possible to simply divide a territory because mixed populations are generally not neatly parcelled up in convenient parts  of the territory.

By institutional reforms he means most particularly the legal and democratic structures which ostensibly protect the interests of each ethnic group and by democratic compromises the satisfying of each ethnic group’s  aspirations to at least a point where violence is avoided.  The Professor finds   some evidence that democratic institutions  can reduce  the amount of ethnic violence, although he allows that “the willingness of competing ethnic groups to solve their interest conflicts by democratic compromises and power-sharing is limited” (p227).

The fourth of his remedies – biological mixing – is the one I have the most difficulty with.  He  claims (p222)  that  biological mixing would reduce ethnic violence  because it would “undermine the  basis and importance of ethnic nepotism”.     He further  observes “ My argument is that the relatively low level of ethnic violence in most Latin American countries is causally related to the fact that racially mixed people constitute a significant part of the population in these countries”. (P221).

I think most people would be surprised  at his judgement that there is a “relatively low level of ethnic violence in Latin American countries”.  I am very dubious indeed about the idea that many of the conflicts which arise in the region are often not ethnic in origin using the Professor’s own definitions. To take just one example:  amongst those with black ancestry, whether that is wholly black or black mixed with other races especially the white, there is in Latin America and Caribbean a customary  hierarchy of  colour with the lightest  skin signifying   standing at the top of the social status ladder and the darkest at the bottom.  Look at Brazil as an example. This country  is beloved by white liberals as a prime example of  a colour-blind country.  The reality is that the reins of power and privilege are still held overwhelmingly by whites. The great Brazilian footballer Pele complained publicly about this some years ago.

The likely outcome of biological mixing on any scale would be for those of mixed parentage to find their natural group amongst those from who most resemble themselves.  This is actually what happens in practice. In Britain the children of one black and one white parent almost invariably represent themselves as black.  It would at best simply change the balance of races within a society and at worst add to ethnic conflict with  those of mixed parentage added to the groups competing within the same territory.

Professor Vanhanen’s overall conclusion is a gloomy one: “The central message of this study is that ethnic conflict and violence, empowered by ethnic nepotism and the inevitable struggle for scarce resources, will not disappear from the world. It is more probable that the incidence of ethnic violence will increase in the more and more crowded world” (p230).

The moral of this book is beautifully simple: ethnically/racially heterogeneous societies are a recipe for discord and violence.   That should give the propagandists of mass immigration pause for thought.

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Published orignially in the Quarterly Review http://www.quarterly-review.org/?p=1610
NB The Quarterly Review is now an online journal only. RH


The significance of borders –why Representative Government and the Rule of Law Require Nation States

Author: Thierry Baudet

Publisher: Brill

ISBN 978 90 04 22813 9

Robert Henderson

This a frustrating book.  Its subject is of the greatest interest, namely, how human beings may best organise themselves  to provide security and freedom.   It contains  a great deal of good sense because   the author understands that humans cannot exist amicably unless they have a sense of shared identity and a territory which they control.   (Anyone who doubts the importance of having such a territory should reflect on the dismal history of the Jews.) Baudet  vividly describes  the undermining of the  nation state  by the rise of  supranational bodies: the loss of democratic control, the impossibility of taking very diverse national entities such as those forming  the EU and making them into a coherent single society;  the self-created social divisions caused by mass immigration  and the rendering of the idea of citizenship based on nationality effectively null by either granting it to virtually anyone regardless of their origins or by denying the need for any concept of nationality in the modern globalised world.  He also deals lucidly with the movement from the mediaeval  feudal relationships of fealty to a lord to the nation state;   correctly recognises representative government as uniquely European;  examines the  concept of sovereignty intelligently and is especially good on how supranationalism expands surreptitiously, for example,  the International Criminal Court is widely thought to only apply to the states which have signed the treaty creating it. Not so. The nationals of countries which have not signed who commit crimes on the territories of states which have signed can be brought for trial before the ICT.

That is all very encouraging stuff for those who believe in the value  of the sovereign nation state. The problem is Baudet  wants to have his nationalism whilst keeping a substantial slice of the politically correct cake. Here he is laying out his definitional wares:  “I call the open nationalism that I defend multicultural nationalism – as opposed to multiculturalism on the one hand, and an intolerant, closed nationalism on the other. The international cooperation on the basis of accountable nation states that I propose, I call sovereign cosmopolitanism – as opposed to supranationalism on the one hand, and a close. Isolated nationalism on the other. Both the multicultural nationalism and sovereign cosmopolitianism place the the nation state at the heart of political order, whole recognising the demands of the modern, internationalised world. “(p xvi).

Baudet’s  “multicultural nationalism” is  the idea that culturally different  groups ( he eschews racial difference as important) can exist within a  territory and still constitute a nation which he  defines  as “a political loyalty stemming from an experienced collective identity…rather than a legal, credal or ethnic nature ” (p62) . How does Baudet think this can be arrived at? He believes  it is possible to produce the  “pluralist society, held to together nevertheless  by a monocultural core”. (p158).    Therein lies the problem with the book: Baudet is trying surreptitiously to square multiculturalism with the nation state.

The concept of a monocultural core is akin to  what multiculturalists are trying belatedly to introduce into their politics with their claim that a society in which each ethnic  group follows its own ancestral ways can nonetheless  be bound together with a shared belief in institutions  and concepts such as the rule of law and representative government.  This is a non-starter  because a sense of group identity is not built on self-consciously created  civic values and institutions –witness the dismal failure of post-colonial states in the 20th century –  but on a shared system of  cultural beliefs and behaviours  which are imbibed unwittingly through growing up in a society.  Because of the multiplicity of ethnic groups from  different cultures in  modern  Western societies,  there is no  overarching single identity within any of them  potent enough to produce Baudet’s   unifying “monocultural core”. Moreover, the continued mass immigration to those societies makes the movement from a “monocultural core” ever greater.  In practice his “Multicultural nationalism” offers  exactly the same intractable problems as official multiculturalism.

Baudet’s idea of a “monocultural core”  would be an unrealistic proposition if cultural differences were all that had to be accommodated in this “pluralist society”, but he  greatly magnifies his conceptual difficulties by refusing to honestly  address the question of racial difference.  However incendiary the subject  is these  differences cannot be ignored.   If human beings did not think racial difference important there would  there be no animosity based  purely on physical racial difference, for example, an hostility to blacks from wherever  they come.  It is their race not their ethnicity which causes the hostile reaction.

The idea that assimilation can occur if it is actively pursued by governments is disproved by history. France, at the official level,  has always insisted upon immigrants becoming fully assimilated: British governments since the late 1970s have embraced multiculturalism as the correct treatment of  immigrants. The result has been the same in both countries; immigrant groups which are racially or radically culturally different from the population which they enter do not assimilate naturally.  The larger the immigrant group the easier it is for this lack of assimilation to be permanent, both because a large population can colonise areas and provide a means by which its members can live their own separate cultural lives and because a large group presents a government with the potential for serious violent civil unrest if attempts are made to  force it to assimilate.

The USA is the best testing ground for Baudet’s idea that there could be a common unifying  core of culture within a country of immense cultural diversity.   Over the past two centuries it has accepted a vast kaleidoscope of peoples and cultures, but  its origins were much more uniform. At  independence the country had, as a consequence of the English founding and  moulding of the colonies which formed the USA , a dominant language (English) , her legal system was based on English common law, her political structures were adapted from  the English,  the dominant general culture was that of England and the free population of the territory was racially similar.  Even those who  did not have English ancestry almost invariably prided themselves on being English, for example,  John Jay, one of the founding Fathers of the USA who was  of Huguenot and Dutch descent, passionately wrote:  “Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united people — a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs, and who, by their joint counsels, arms, and efforts, fighting side by side throughout a long and bloody war, have nobly established general liberty and independence.” (John Jay in Federalist No. 2).There was the presence of a mainly enslaved black population and the native Amerindians, but the newly formed United States at least at the level of the white population had a degree of uniformity which made the idea of a core monoculture plausible.

From the mid-sixties after US immigration law was slackened migrants arrived in ever increasing numbers and with much more racial and ethnic variety. The result has been a balkanisation of American society with a legion of minority groups all shouting for their own advantage with the  original “monocultural core” diluted to the point of disappearance.

There are other weaknesses in Baudet’s  thinking.  He is  much too keen to draw clear lines between forms of social and political organisation. For example,  he considers  the nation state to be an imagined community  (a nation being  too large for everyone to know everyone else)  with a  territory  it controls  as opposed to tribal or universal loyalty (the idea that there is simply mankind not different peoples who share moral values and status). The problem with that, as he admits, are the many tribes which are too large to allow each individual to know each other (footnote 23 p63).  He tries to fudge the issue by developing a difference between ethnic loyalty and national loyalty, when of course there is no conflict between the two. Nations can be based solely on ethnicity.

Another example of conceptual rigidity is Baudet’s  distinction between  internationalism and supranationalism.  He defines  the former as the traditional form of international cooperation whereby nation states make agreements between themselves but retain the ultimate right to decide what policy will be implemented (thus preserving their sovereignty) while the latter, for example the EU, is an agreement between states which removes,  in many areas of policy , the right  of the individual contracting states to choose  whether  a policy  will be accepted or rejected.   Although that is a  distinction which will appeal to academics,  in practice it rarely obtains because treaties made between theoretically sovereign states often results  in  the weaker ones having no meaningful choice of action.

Despite the conceptual weaknesses ,  the strengths of the book are  considerable if  it is used as a primer on the subject of national sovereignty.  Read it but  remember from where Baudet is ultimately coming.

Effects of Mass Immigration on Canadian Living Standards and Society

The Fraser Institute’s Effects of Mass Immigration on Canadian Living Standards and Society

Edited by Herbert Grubel  – a compilation of essays by  12 authors

Published by the Fraser Institute of Canada  in 2009 ISBN 978-0-88975-246-7

Massive numbers of immigrants who are either unable or unwilling to integrate with the society into which they come; cities increasingly dominated by ethnic and racial ghettos;  laws which grant immigrants rights which make it next to impossible to stop them entering the country or to deport  them once they are there;  employers greedy for cheap labour;  immigrants depressing wages and forcing up native unemployment; immigrants taking more out of the communal national pot in benefits than they put in through taxes;  a political elite which is  sold on the idea that immigration is an unalloyed good at a naïve best and a source of new voters  for parties which support mass immigration at  a venal worst; a bureaucracy which religiously carries out the politically correct  dictates of  the elite embraced  multicultural ethos ; the development of  an “immigration industry” comprised of vested interests such as lawyers, pressure groups, charities; public servants  appointed to act as what are effectively political commissars for multiculturalism; a mainstream media which ceaselessly propagandises on behalf of the wonder of multiculturalism and value of immigration whilst censoring any opposition;  a rabid state-inspired  suppression of  dissidence at any level by a mixture of  laws banning honest discussion of immigration and its consequences  and the engendering of a public culture which puts  anyone who voices anti-immigration views, however cautiously, at risk of losing  their job or political position and to  ostracism from their social circle  if they are judged to have committed a “crime” against multiculturalism.

Welcome to the Canadian experience of the joy of mass immigration. Sounds familiar? It certainly will to British ears, but the same could broadly  be said of any First World country for the globalist ideology has become the creed of elites throughout the First World.   This makes the book generally valuable as a primer on the dangers of mass immigration.  This utility is enhanced  by significant reference being made to immigration as it affects  the  USA, Britain and France.

There are of course differences of detail  between the Canadian and British experience.  Canadians   traditionally have seen themselves as a nation of immigrants whereas the British  have not and do not.  This means that  Canadians have, like Americans,  at least the residue of the sentimental  idea that immigration should be the natural order of things and  that it is somehow wrong to deny  to others what they or their ancestors enjoyed. The Canadian elite have taken this to extremes  according to   Stephen Gallagher of the Canadian International Council because “….more than any other country  Canada has bought into the  cosmopolitan logic that there can exist a ‘civic nationalism in the absence of any ethnic or cultural majority, shared roots or social coherence” (p188). His claim is borne out by the objective evidence of modern Canadian immigration policy and its consequences.

The problem with the “civic nationalism” mentality is it is one thing to have immigration consisting overwhelmingly of people who are broadly  similar in race and culture into the receiving society  – as happened throughout most of Canada’s history  -who  can  assimilate rapidly; quite another to import immigrants in large numbers  who are radically different in race and culture and either cannot or will not assimilate.  That is what has happened to Canada in recent decades.

Over the past quarter of a century  immigrants to Canada have come  overwhelmingly from Asia. The result is that at the last Canadian census  5 million  (16 per cent) out of the Canadian population of 16 million  were  “visible minorities” (p5).   The size of the overall population also counts hugely:  16 per cent of 33 million is considerably more concerning than 16 per cent of, say, Britain’s currently  estimated 62 million.

It might be thought that the geographical vastness of  Canada   would mean there is  not the same sense that the country is being  physically swamped as there is in a geographically small country such as Britain, but  Canada  is a very urbanised country with   25 million Canadians  living in towns or cities and most  immigrants  are concentrated  in a few places.   60 per cent of the  5 million “visible minorities”  live in the Metropolitan areas of Toronto and Vancouver (p5).  In Toronto  in 2001  those classified as  “English (Anglos ) “only  formed a majority in  in a quarter of metropolitan “census tracts” (p180).  The sense of conquest by stealth is as apparent in those particular places as it would be in London or Birmingham.

Reckless Canadian immigration  took off in the  1990s. In 1990 the annual limit was raised to 250,000 by  a Progressive Conservative government with the  Minister responsible, Barbara McDougal, arguing that this would help the party with the ethnic  minority vote, the clear implication being that a large portion of the additional immigrants would be black or Asian (p4). Since then  immigration has averaged nearly 1 per cent  of the population (p4. )Things worsened after the 2001 Immigration and Refugee Protection Act was passed.  This  set selection criteria for immigrants without putting any limit on the numbers who could come in. As there were vastly more people who could meet the criteria than  Canada  could readily accommodate and there was no flexibility to adjust to changes in economic conditions generally or to  the Canadian labour market in particular, the system soon ran into trouble. A backlog of would-be immigrants waiting to be processed formed which is estimated to reach 1.5 million by 2012 (p7) to which did not include refugees who number is considerable.  Canadian asylum policy became so lax in the 1980s that over the past 25 years more than  700,000 asylum seekers were admitted (p14).  Canada has taken steps to amend the  Immigration Act,, but even if those are effective the existing backlog of 1.5 million will be processed under the old rules (p5).

All but one the most sacred cows of the pro-immigration, pro-multicultural lobby are precisely dissected before being put out of their misery.  Overall, immigrants  do not add to Canada’s per capita wealth (p104), not least because less than 20% of immigrants come in based on their work skills or training (p3);  cultural diversity does not equal an enhanced  society  but a divided one with an ever weakening national identity and  bringing in huge numbers of  young immigrants will not solve the problem of an ageing Canadian population – Robert Bannerjee and William Robson (chapter 7)  estimate that to even stabilise the  Old Age Dependency ratio – the ratio between those of working age  to those over retirement age – and those   from what it is at  present would take decades of annual  immigration amounting each year to 3% of the Canadian population (p142). The effect of that would be to effectively end any concept of a Canadian nation as it has been and still largely is.  It would be a classic case of  the transformation of quantity into quality.  A place called Canada might still exist but  he  existing Canadian nation would be no more.

The sacred cow which remains standing if more than a little nervous,  is the question of the incompatibility of races.  Nonetheless ,  some of the contributors (especially those in chapters 9-12)  come close to venturing onto this currently forbidden territory, for example :-

“..the analysis of Sammuel Huntingdon (2004), who argues that a nation is the function of the identity of its majority population  and in the United States this identity is rooted  in the original founding Anglo-Protestant  culture and a value system described as the American Creed.” (Stephen Gallagher P188).

“What guarantee do we have that diversity in itself is a desirable objective? At what point does diversity mutate into a form of colonisation? (James Bissett p6).

The book is also good at flagging up consequences which are not immediately obvious. For example, Marcel Merette  makes the important point that as higher skilled immigrants increase the differential in wages between the skilled and the unskilled shrinks  (p159). This discourages  Canadians from taking the trouble to acquire skills because the advantage of doing so would be lessened.

Nor is any change in the type of immigrants without ill consequences. For example, if immigrants are restricted to the young (which might be thought a god thing in an ageing society) that  disadvantages the native young because it means they face greater competition for jobs from the immigrants in their age group.

There is also the effect on the one long-standing substantial Canadian minority, the French-speaking  Quebeccers . They are increasingly finding their language and culture undermined both by the presence of immigrants who will not integrate and by  having to compete for attention and privileges from the majority population with the new minority groups.

Rather touchingly, Gordon Gibson (chapter 11)  imagines that the position is much healthier in Britain because there is at least growing public discussion here and  an organisation such as MigrationWatch UK  to ostensibly provide a  focus of concern about immigration (the  final  essay in the book is by the head of MigrationWatch UK  Sir Andrew Green).   But public debate can be not merely useless but positively harmful if it is controlled.

It is true that there is vastly more  public discussion in Britain now than there was under  the Blair Government when any many of immigration and its consequences brought squeals of “racism” from politicians, the left-liberal dominated media and any pressure group or individual  able to climb onto the “anti-racist” bandwagon.   But public discussion does not equal action and  despite Cameron’s  Coalition  Government’s rhetoric about cutting net immigration to Britain “from hundreds of thousands to tens of thousands a year” , the  numbers remain much the same as under the Blair and Brown governments.

The extent of  the growing disquiet amongst Canadians is indicated by the very existence of the book.  The editor has brought together a  wide-ranging group of contributors:  economists, political scientists, think tank members and retired ambassadors. These are not the class of people who would  commonly be found  publicly expressing  concern  about immigration,  for they are by background part of the broad elite which has embraced the multiculturalist  ideal.  That they are willing to write pretty forthrightly about the dangers speaks volumes in itself.  The message it sends is that they are so worried by the observable effects of mass migration that they are willing to put their heads above the parapet  and risk, at the least, social, political and academic ostracisation.

The failure to address the question of race as a social separator is frustrating but understandable in the present politically correct circumstances, but it cannot be ignored forever. Those who say physical differences in race are unimportant and  that race is merely a social construct should reflect upon the fact that if there was no natural mechanism to stop humans of different physical types breeding as  freely together  as those of a similar physical type then there would be no broad physical groups which we call races . These group separations cannot be ascribed to humans evolving in separation from one another  because  throughout history there has been an immense amount of movement of peoples  with every  opportunity for inter-breeding. We see the same thing happening today in places such as London where,  despite the open invitation to inter-racial breeding and the incessant multi-culturist propaganda over several generations, a surprisingly  small percentage of the population does interbreed.

I can unreservedly recommend this book because it provides almost all the ammunition needed to  refute the multiculturalist propaganda . It is not the easiest of reads  because most of the contributors take an  academic approach, which means a fair number of  charts and tables plus a decent dollop of jargon. But the book is  not very heavy going and its message is  the most important which can be given to the developed world at present: guard your own societies against this surreptitious form of conquest or  they will die.

New British Fascism – book review

Rise of the British National Party

Matthew J Goodwin

Routledge

New British Fascism comes in the guise of an objective academic study, replete with tables and charts and a fair dollop of dry analysis.  But that is camouflage  for  the  author’s  liberal-left  prejudices, although it is probable that Goodwin, as with so many of the left,  is self-deluding enough to be unaware of his bias.

Goodwin   gives the ideological game away in the book’s title  by attaching  the arch pejorative “fascist”  to the BNP  without making any attempt to explain  what he means by this complex  word (hint: “far right extremist” does not equal fascist)  and  follows this up in the introduction  with “This book follows  political scientist Elizabeth Carter in considering  right-wing extremism as a particular form of political ideology  that is defined by two anti-constitutional and anti-democratic elements: first, right-wing extremists are extremist because they reject or undermine the values, procedures and institutions of the democratic state; and second, they are right wing because they reject the principle of fundamental human equality” (p6).

The author’s acceptance of Carter’s  definition taints the book. If you do not adopt  the liberal internationalist’s view that human beings are just one big happy indistinguishable and interchangeable family you are a right-wing extremist.  When Carter  writes of undermining the “values, procedures and institutions of the democratic state”,  she does not mean  that right wing parties refuse to play by the democratic rules as they are commonly understood – free elections, universal suffrage, parliaments  and governments being  accountable to the  law. Rather,  for her being democratic means that any person regardless of origin – in  principle the seven  billion people currently alive – must be treated equally  because to do otherwise would constitute the rejection of “ the principle of fundamental human equality “.  That means  any election which produced a decision that failed to accord  with the idea that all human beings everywhere should be treated equally, for example,   a government in favour of an end to all further mass immigration and the expulsion of all those without citizenship, would be classed as undemocratic .

Then there is the label of “extremist”.  By assiduous propaganda over decades, politicians of all the major mainstream British parties have assiduously been  placing in the public arena the idea that to  support  or advocate any political views which diverge seriously from those of liberal internationalism  is to be extreme . The erasing of the  traditional political vocabulary from mainstream British politics means that  any group or individuals outside the narrow ideological  confines of  what the British political class  now represent as being the only  legitimate democratic politics may be described as  extremists and hence dismissed as  of no account or dangerous and in need of suppression through laws such as the Race Relations Act.

It is also a very strange thing to define parties and individuals  as being right-wing  simply on the grounds of being opposed to immigration, which is what Goodwin effectively  does . The idea that being resistant to immigration is inherently right-wing is historically false. Not only is it a natural human response to territory being invaded,  political parties of the left and trade unions have until quite recently been opposed to mass immigration.   Unions in particular have a long history of opposing immigration primarily  on the ground that  it increases competition in the labour market  and reduces both wages and conditions.    The Labour Party   for most of its existence qualifies  as extreme right wing under Carter’s definition, because not only did it in practice stand against mass immigration because of union hostility towards it,  but it  also believed in the nation state. It is worth remembering  that  the Labour government of Harold Wilson passed an immigration Act in 1968 which considerably tightened immigration rules for  those from the new (non-white) Commonwealth after the Tories had done very little in 13 years to stem immigration.  It is also telling  that Goodwin himself mentions that only four out of ten BNP voters think of themselves as right wing (p107).

Goodwin acknowledges that  the BNP  has gone far beyond simply relating issues to immigration and have under Griffin developed a fully- fledged political agenda.  Indeed, much of its recent manifestoes could sit comfortably within the those of the mainstream political parties and even more in the manifestoes of twenty or thirty years ago.  He also spends considerable time examining how the  BNP have  in the past decade or so  greatly softened their rhetoric about race and immigration, more or less dropped  anti-Semitism, produced a broad political platform which deals with all the major areas of political debate and adopted the strategy of  building the party from local roots in much the same way that the LibDems have done.  Indeed, to look at the official literature of the BNP is to see a party which in many ways is aping the  political antics of the major British parties. But for Goodwin this is not a sincere  change of heart merely the BNP attempting to “rally Britons by downplaying its toxic brand”.  It is difficult to see how the BNP could ever, in Goodwin’s mind, escape from the locked cell of Carter’s definition because whatever they did or said Goodwin would still say they should be classified as  “extreme right-wingers” because the change was not genuine.

As for the BNP’s success or failure, Goodwin acknowledges that they  have done considerably better  than any other party he brackets with them, for example, the National Front,  but less well than similar European parties. This fact has little force because  the comparative BNP  failure  is readily  attributable to the widespread  use of electoral systems  on the continent  which contain some element of proportional representation while Britain retains first-past-the-post for Westminster elections.

There is a frequent  failure to query the overt message of statistics. For example Goodwin  looks at  Britons’ response to  poll questions about  who is British (chapters 3/ 5)  which show that a majority  say that race is immaterial in determining the question.  What he fails to do is consider whether the  polling results may significantly under-estimate  concern about racial and ethnic difference  because of the prevailing atmosphere of fear generated by the ever tightening grip of political correctness.   This type of omission is all the more visible  because  Goodwin is more than happy to speculate elsewhere in the book, so such a failure is not the result of some self-denying academic ordinance.

The same lack of imagination shows when Goodwin considers the social shape  of BNP voters. He compares them  with those who vote for the major political parties and UKIP (p102).  According to his statistics,  there are fewer BNP voters  in the professional AB category than those of  the other parties, but there are still 11 per cent of BNP voters who fall into that category as opposed to 18 per cent for Labour and UKIP.   Moreover, the general shape  of the entire voting population of BNP voters is not wildly  different from that of Labour which draws 57% of its voters from the  two lowest  social groups as against 70% for the BNP according to the figures Goodwin  cites.  Hence, there is nothing unreservedly abnormal about the BNP vote.

Goodwin also looks at the ages and sex structure of BNP Membership (p102). This shows most BNP members to be in the 34+ age group with a strong preponderance (69%) of male.  Goodwin  represents this as a sign of a failing party. The problem with this argument is that his own figures show that the major parties have a similar age profile.  The age profile of the BNP  is surely just a consequence  of the ageing British population and the much greater   propensity of older voters to vote.

Goodwin  argues  from  the age profile of the BNP  that  racial hostility is a phenomenon  of the older generations because  younger people have grown up with an ethnically mixed society.   This is contradicted by the  race riots in northern England  in the early years of the century and emergence of the English Defence League,   but Goodwin dismisses such behaviour  as a residual phenomenon  of the young who have elders with “far-right” beliefs or who live in places  with a “right wing tradition (p104)

As to motivation for supporting the BNP,  Goodwin  suggests that  the BNP client base is essentially that of the “angry  white male” who has had his security threatened by immigration and its ongoing consequences. . While this  has an element of truth because it is the white working class man who has suffered most from  competition from immigration,  you could argue the same of the Labour Party vote.

The  only stark difference between the BNP and the major parties is in sex.  But there is probably nothing  remarkable in that. To support the BNP requires a  personality which can handle conflict. Men are almost certainly better able to do that.  The fact that UKIP has only 40 per cent of female  voters  supports this interpretation .

Goodwin seems genuinely puzzled by the  “extreme right’s” concentration on Muslims.  The answer is that this is plausibly all part of the  re-branding  exercise such as that conducted by the BNP under Nick Griffin. Because of the  intense grip that political correctness has on western societies,   parties which wish to resist immigration and its consequences have been forced to play within the rules of political correctness. This means they take up causes such “Islamification”  because that avoids directly engaging in the question of race.

The marvel of Goodwin is that he cannot see his own bias even though he accepts the massive constraints placed on any minor party under the British political system and describes well the intimidatory  actions of  both  the political elite through laws such as the Race Relations Act (RRA)which prevents  free debate on pain of criminal sanction and the all too ready willingness of  politicians, public service organisations, unions, big business  and the mainstream media to harass and penalise those who express their political  views outside the permitted parameters of political correctness:

“The disadvantages of joining an extremist party might include official punishments, threats from rival movements and group reprisals for participating’ . In fact, those who have join have been shown to experience abuse, jeopardise employment prospects and damage relationships with friends and family. “ (p138)

Goodwin  also happily describes  the persistent harassment of the BNP by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission  (EHRC) over its membership qualifications (p122); admits  freely that the  British electoral system is heavily weighted against parties without an established  Westminster presence (p)  and draws attention to the limited ability of national governments to  govern because of their entanglement in international treaties and supra-national bodies such as the EU.

One might imagine that someone who understands the undemocratic restraints placed on unestablished parties in general and  the additional undemocratic  blocks placed before parties such as the BNP,  would conclude that they are placed in a position in which  they cannot meaningfully engage in the democratic process.  Not Goodwin.  He sees no discord between insisting that a party can only be considered democratic  if it plays by the democratic rules ,whilst showing absolutely no discomfort  when he acknowledges that  those who set the rules of the political game do so  in such a way as to preclude meaningful participation in the democratic process.

What Goodwin is saying can be  reduced to this:  any  party  (or person) standing  for something which the vast majority of human beings at all times and places  would consider normal and desirable, namely, defending the tribe, clan or nation against invasion by main force or stealth,  is, in Goodwin’s eyes, part of the far right  – he coyly implies (p178) that the BNP and UKIP are not a million miles apart on the political spectrum.

Can I recommend New British Fascism?  I can but not for the reason the author would want.  Read this book not to understand the BNP but that most curious of things  the modern liberal mind.

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