Category Archives: Philosophy

How reason may be ignored and ideologies embraced or discarded

Robert Henderson

The English philosopher Tony Flew  died in 2010. The academic subject around which he wove his life  should have made him less vulnerable to false reasoning. That in turn should have armour plated him against being captured by ideologies.  In fact he was a sucker for ideologies and twice threw  over ideological beliefs for other ideological beliefs.  His intelligence and erudition did not prove any guard against folly.

I knew  Flew when he was still comparatively young when I was a student of Keele  U in the late sixties and early seventies. At that time he  was in his late forties  and held the Chair of Philosophy at the university.

Perhaps the most important guide to his character is the fact that he twice performed a volte-face on fundamental beliefs, the first being his political shift.  Strangely, his mainstream obits  made very little of the fact that he was a man well to the left of centre until his early thirties, one of the original “Angry Young Men” in fact.  I dare say that will come as a great shock to many of those who only knew him as an old man.

The second ideological shift came late in his life when having been a fervent atheist in the Richard Dawkins’ mould throughout his adult life, he suddenly announced in 2004 that he believed there were solid grounds for believing there was a God. There was a considerable irony in this because of his devotion to David Hume, a man who scandalised many on his deathbed, including that old rake Boswell, by maintaining his unbelief.

There have been suggestions that he was not entirely compos mentis at that stage of his life and that he may have been exploited by Christian groups. However, judged by his public announcements, writing and public appearances,  he seemed to have enough about him mentally at the time (2004) when he announced his move from atheism to a form of deism to remove any concern that he was a senile old man having his name used by others.  Whether he was still mentally sharp is another matter, for his reliance on the argument from design because of the revelations of DNA research was frankly feeble for  DNA provides no greater difficulty for doubters of an undirected or created universe than for example does the complexity of the human eye. Its use suggested someone borrowing an idea because they no longer had the mental vitality to argue a matter through.

Tony Flew’s position on atheism was intellectually unsound because like the religious he was being dogmatic without adequate grounds for his dogmatism.  The strongest philosophical position on whether there is a being we might call God is agnosticism.

While it is reasonable to dismiss all religions as man-made artefacts because (1) they all rely on the supernatural, something  for which there is no objective evidence, (2) particular varieties of religious belief tend to pass from parents to children, for example, Roman Catholic parents will tend to have children of the same faith, (3) religions tend to congregate in specific territories and (4) religions tend to reflect the cultures from which they arose.

What is not reasonable is to assert is that there is definitely not a being with the attributes of a God. This is so for a beautifully simple reason: the very fact of existence.  That fact demolishes the argument that it is up to the believers to prove there is a God for the fact of existence creates the possibility of one, a possibility which has the same status as the possibility that there is not a God.

The question of whether there is a God is unanswerable rationally. We could in principle discover if our universe had been created by an active intelligence, but that would not answer the question ultimately for  the problem would then arise of who created the creator and so on ad infinitum: the problem of infinite vicious regression.

There are further problems: while it might be possible to prove that the universe had an immediate creator, it would be impossible to prove that it had no beginning or end or that it came into existence at a particular point through no directed agency, that is, it simply arose. The former case would fail because it would involve proving that the universe had lasted for an infinite period and the infinite cannot be measured, and in the latter case,  no proof could be produced which would rule out the possibility of a creator, because there would be no way of demonstrating that what was perceived to be the spontaneous and undirected production of the universe was not in fact the result of a creator whose existence was as yet hidden.

Because of these considerations the rational position is that the universe may or may not have been the result of active creation by an intelligence with the attributes we assign to the concept of a God.

As an academic philosopher, I think it would fair to say that his strength lay in explication rather than original thought.

Prof Flew is frequently described as a libertarian. Well, libertarianism is a house with many rooms. The judgement that he is a libertarian is almost entirely, perhaps entirely, based on his commitment to laissez faire economics and a small state along Hayekian lines. Whether that makes a person a libertarian is a matter of debate. What is certain is that on some central liberation issues – freedom of expression (you either have complete freedom or a range of permitted opinion), the legalisation of drugs and the right of the citizen to own and carry weapons – he was definitely not a libertarian.

On others, such as education, one must decide whether a strict educational regime is compatible with libertarian ideals or whether the true libertarian should favour something more akin to what used to be called progressive schools which adopt a policy of  laissez faire.  It is worth adding that his hero as a political philosopher was Hobbes, one of the most authoritarian of philosophers in the modern period, a rather strange philosophical guide for a libertarian.

Another great irony of his life was his failure to see the incongruity of  wholeheartedly embracing laissez faire economics and the small state,  whilst spending almost all his working life working for taxpayer funded institutions and drawing a pension, which ultimately funded by the taxpayer.

Sadly, by the time I reached Keele in 1969 Prof Flew’s life there was a far from happy one. He found it difficult going on impossible to come to terms with the much freer academic atmosphere of the sixties.

Would a libertarian society deprive individuals of cultural roots and collective identity?

Robert Henderson

There are many rooms in the libertarian  ideological house.  That fact often derails rational discussion of libertarian issues, but it need not be a problem in this instance because the question being asked is most  efficiently  examined   by testing  it against  the flintiest wing of libertarian thought.   If  that pristine, uncompromising  form of libertarianism is incompatible with the maintenance of cultural roots and collective identity, then  all other shades of libertarianism will be incompatible to some degree.

The pristine libertarian has no truck with  any form of government, believing that  personal relations  between individuals  will adequately order society no matter how large or complex the society,  and that such ordering will arise naturally if  only the artificially constraints on human behaviour such as governments and laws are removed.   Such a society  would supposedly  work along these lines.    If the society is threatened by an invader,  individuals will join together to defend it out of a sense of self-preservation.  To   those who cannot work for reasons of sickness, injury, age or innate infirmity,  compassion and a sense of duty will ensure that private charity is  extended  to relieve the need. If  public works such as roads and railways are required, self-interest and reason will drive individuals to join to together to build them.   Matters such as education may be safely  left to parents and such charitable provision as arises.   Above all the individual is king and personal choice is only circumscribed if a choice involves the imposition of one individual’s will on another.   You get the idea.  The consequence is a vision of a society not  a million miles away from  Rightist  forms of anarchism.

This concentration on the individual makes for a fissile society. If each person  is to follow his or her  own way  without any requirement to believe anything other than to respect the conditions necessary to realise libertarian ends , that in itself  would definitely weaken  collective identity and probably affect cultural unity.  Nonetheless in a truly homogeneous society, especially if it was small, the probability is that cultural weakening would not be great and the absence of a conscious collective identity would not present a difficulty provided the society was not subject to a serious threat from outside.

Serious problems  for the pristine libertarian  arise if the society is heterogeneous,  because  then there is a loss of collective unity. If the heterogeneity comes from class,  the cultural roots may  be largely untouched or at least develop in a way  which ensures that there is still much cultural  uniformity  and that uniformity is clearly an extension of  past cultural traits. It is also true that in a racially and ethnically homogeneous society, a sense of collective unity will be easily rekindled if the society comes under external threat.

The most difficult society for libertarians to deal with is one which is ethnically divided, especially if the ethnic divide includes racial difference. There a society becomes not so much a society but a series of competing racial and ethnic enclaves.   In such a situation,  it is inevitable that both  cultural unity and collective identity is undermined because there is no  shared general cultural experience and this plus racial difference makes a collective identity not merely impossible but absurd even in concept.

The brings us to the most obvious threat presented by pristine  libertarians to the maintenance of cultural roots and collective identity. That  is the idea that national boundaries  should be irrelevant with people travelling and settling wherever they choose.  This presumes human beings are essentially interchangeable and in this respect it echoes  multiculturalism.  The consequence of such a belief is to greatly increase the heterogeneity of a society through the mass immigration of those who are radically different from the native population.  We do not need to guess what the result of such immigration is because it  has happened throughout the western world in our own time. More specifically, it has happened in those  countries whose populations which are most naturally sympathetic  to libertarian ideas: those which may broadly be described as Anglo-Saxon; countries such as Britain, the USA and what used to be known as  the old white dominions.

The influx of millions of people who  see themselves as separate from the native populations of the countries to which they had migrated has resulted in the Anglo-Saxon states gradually destroying their tradition of freedom. Driven by a mixture of liberal internationalist ideology and fear, their  elites have severely restricted by laws and their control of the media  and public institutions  what may be said publicly about immigration and its consequences.  In Britain it is now possible to be brought to court simply for saying to someone from an ethnic minority “go home”, while any allegation of racist behaviour  – which may be no more than failing to invite someone from an ethnic minority  to an office party – against a public servant will result at best in a long inquiry and at worst with dismissal.  Nor, in practice, is application of the law or the  witch-hunts  directed equally against everyone for it is overwhelmingly native Britons who are targeted.

At the same time as native Britons are being silenced and intimidated, an incessant tide of pro-immigrant and multiculturalist  propaganda is pumped out by government, the public organisations they control such as the civil service and state schools and the mass media , which is overwhelmingly signed up to the liberal internationalist way of thinking.  The teaching of history has been made a non-compulsory subject in British schools after the age of 14 and such history as  is taught  is next to worthless in promoting a sense of collective unity,  both because it fails to give any chronological context to what is put before the pupils  because it concentrates on “themes”  rather than periods and because the amount of British history that is contained within  the syllabus is tiny, often consisting of the Tudors and little else.  The consequence is that the young of the native British population are left with both a sense that their own culture is in some strange way to be valued less than that of the various immigrant groups and the lack of any knowledge about their country’s past.

The most  and sinister  consequence of  post-war immigration and the British elite’s response to it  is the development within Britain of  a substantial number of Muslims who not only do not have any sense of belonging to the broader society in which they live, but who are actively hostile to  Britain and its values.  But if this is the most dramatic example of the fracturing  of British society, it is merely symptomatic of the separatist attitude of  ethnic minorities in Britain generally, especially those from radically alien cultures allied to racial difference.

All of these developments are antithetical to pristine  libertarian ideals,  both because they  undermine  shared values and because they  result in actions to control friction between competing racial and ethnic groups which in themselves undermine the conditions in which libertarian ideals  flourish.  That libertarians so often subscribe to the ideal of open borders despite the overwhelming evidence of  its counter-productive effects for libertarian ends is indicative of the blinkered nature of much libertarian thinking.

The fundamental weakness of pristine  libertarianism is its complete  failure to take  account of  human psychology  and the way humans behave as groups.  This is unsurprising  because of the central position given to the individual.  But by doing this pristine  libertarians  ignore the central fact of being human: we are a social animal. Being  a social animal entails two defining behaviours: all social animals  produce hierarchies  and   all social animals place limits to the group.  Homo sapiens is no exception.

Because hierarchies in the human context arise not only from the personal efforts, qualities and talents of each individual, as is the case with animals,  but from the  position  each individual occupies through the accident of birth, this raises two difficulties for libertarians.  The first is there is not a level playing field and without that the pristine  libertarian ideal of society organising itself through freely  entered into relationships is severely distorted because it is clearly absurd to say that a man born poor is freely entering into a master-servant relationship with a man born rich when the poor man needs money simply to feed himself.  The second difficulty is that the very existence of an hierarchy,  whether or not it is based on merit, undermines the notion of free choice because once it is established different power relationships exist.

The question of hierarchy becomes more complex as the heterogeneity of a society grows whether that be ever deeper division into classes or increasing ethnic and racial diversity . All social animals have to have boundaries  to  know where the group begins and ends.  This is  because a social animal must operate  within a hierarchy and a hierarchy can only exist where  there are  boundaries.   No boundaries,  no hierarchy, because  no  individual could  ever  know what the dominance/submission situation  was  within their species or at least within those members of the species with whom they interact.

The need to define the group is particularly important for libertarians.    Above all libertarianism requires  trust. In the pristine libertarian society this means each individual believing that other people will keep their word and generally behave honestly. But as we all know only too well  people cannot  be trusted to observe societal norms and a society which is fractured by class, race or  ethnicity  is the least likely of all to have a shared sense of what is right.  Therefore,  libertarians need to recognise that however much they would like to believe that each human being is an individual who may go where he or she pleases and do what he or she pleases, the sociological reality precludes  this and that the only sane ideological course for a libertarian is to advocate closed borders and the preservation of the homogeneity of  those societies which are most favourable to libertarian ideals not because the society  consciously espouses them,  but because the  society has evolved in a way which includes libertarian traits.

There will be libertarians who find it immensely difficult going on impossible to accept that the individual must in some respects be subordinated to the group.  They will imagine, as liberal internationalists do, that human nature can be changed, although in the case of libertarians the change will come not from re-education but the creation of circumstances propitious for libertarian behaviour to emerge.  Let me explain why this is impossible because of the innate differences between  human beings and the effects of cultural imprinting.

Because Man is differentiated profoundly by culture, the widely accepted definition  of a species – a population of freely interbreeding organisms sharing a common gene pool -   is  unsatisfactory,  for  clearly Man is  more  than  a brute   animal  responding   to   simple  biological   triggers.  When   behavioural differences  are perceived as belonging to a particular group  by  that group  as differentiating  members of the group from other  men,    they perform the same role as  organic differences for  they divide Man  into cultural species.

An analogy with computers can be made. As hardware,  a particular model of  computer is  practically identical to every other computer which  is classified  as  the same model.  But the  software available to every computer of the same model is not identical.   They may run  different operating systems, either completely different or different versions of the same program. The software which runs under the operating system is different  with different versions of the same program being used.  The data which is input to the computer varies and this in turn affects the capabilities of the computer.

It  clearly makes no sense to say every computer of the same  model  is the same even if the computer is loaded with the same software.   But of  course  not  all  computers  are  of  the  same  model.  They  vary tremendously  in  their  power.  The same software  will  run  at  very different  rates  because of this.  Storage and memory size  also  vary tremendously. Some computers cannot run programmes because the programmes  are too large.   We  may call all computers computers ,  but that is to say little more  than that  all  animals are animals,  for  computers  range  from  the immensely  powerful super computers – the homo sapiens  of  the computer  world  as it were – to the amoeba of the  simple  chip  which controls  lights  being put on or off in a room  depending  on whether someone is in it.

Are the circumstances of computers  not akin to those of  Man?  Do  not the racially based  differences in IQ correspond to the differences  in power  of  older  and  newer computers?  Do not different  languages  represent different operating systems? For example, think how different must be the mentality of  a native Chinese speaker (using  a language which  is entirely  monosyllabic)  to that of a native English speaker  (using  a polysyllabic language) simply because of the profound difference in the structure  of the language. A language will not merely impose limits on what  may  be  expressed it will affect the  entire  mentality  of  the individual,  from aesthetic appreciation to  social expression. Is not the experiential input analogous to the holding of different data?

But the most potent of human behavioural triggers are racial differences,  for they exercise the strongest control over the group in a territory where different racial groups exist. Race trumps ethnicity where the ethnic clash is one of people of the same race but different ethnicities.  Place a significant population of a different race into a territory where ethnicity rather than race is the cause of unrest and the ethnic factions of the same race will tend to unite against those of a different race.

To argue that racial difference is  not important to the choice of a mate is as absurd as arguing  that the attractiveness of a person is irrelevant to the choice of a  mate.

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

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

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

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

Or,  more likely, did they say that race didn’t matter  because they wanted to come across  especially  to potential mates of their own race as open-minded?” In short, around 99% of all the women and 94%  of all men in the sample were  not  willing  to  seek a  date of a  different  race.   How  much stronger  will  be  the tendency to refuse to breed with a  mate  of  a different race?

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

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

Where does this leave us? In its present form libertarianism is a most efficient  dissolver of cultural roots and collective identity. It is this because it ignores the realities of  Man’s social nature.  This results in the  creation of the very circumstances which are least conducive to the realisation of libertarian ends.  If libertarians are to realise those ends, they must recognise that the society  most favourable to their beliefs  is one which is homogeneous in which the shared values create the platform of trust which must underlie libertarian behaviour.   Of course, that does not guarantee a society favourable to libertarians because  the shared values may be antithetical to them, but it is a necessary if not sufficient condition for libertarian ideals to flourish. To that libertarians must add a recognition that there are profound differences between ethnic and racial groups and identify those societies which are most worth protecting because they have the largest element of libertarian traits within them.

Written for entry to the 2010 Chris Tame prize

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

The “wrong” sort of indoctrination (for the left)

Robert Henderson

An unnamed (because they did not want the children identified) Rotherham couple experienced in fostering  have had three of their charges peremptorily  removed by Rotherham social services (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/ukip/9700001/Foster-parents-stigmatised-and-slandered-for-being-members-of-Ukip.html). The reason? The couple are members of  the United Kingdom Independence Party  (UKIP) which opposes  further wholesale immigration including that from the EU and multiculturalism.  These policies were  deemed racist by Rotherham social services:

‘They [the fosterers] were told that the local safeguarding children team had received an anonymous tip-off that they were members of Ukip.

The wife recalled: “I was dumbfounded. Then my question to both of them was, ‘What has Ukip got to do with having the children removed?’

“Then one of them said, ‘Well, Ukip have got racist policies’. The implication was that we were racist. [The social worker] said Ukip does not like European people and wants them all out of the country to be returned to their own countries.’

The fact of UKIP membership was enough to damn the foster parents as unsuitable to raise three East European origin children because according to  Joyce Thacker, the council’s Director of Children and Young People’s Services, the UKIP couple could not meet the children’s  “cultural and ethnic needs”.  Despite the fact that the UKIP couple had been exemplary foster parents  for a number of years. After being removed from the UKIP foster parents the children were split even though they are siblings (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9704964/Ukip-fostering-row-children-were-split-up-when-removed.html). The claim  of meeting the children’s “cultural and ethnic needs”  is made even more absurd by the fact that the UKIP couple were foster parents trusted to take in children in an emergency,  a fostering status which often resulted in the  foster periods being short.

Since the story about the Rotherham foster parents broke a UKIP candidate has come forward to say that she was not allowed to be a volunteer with the children’s charity Barnardos because of her UKIP connections:

A row over two UKIP members having their foster children removed took a new twist last night when another woman claimed she had been barred from looking after children because she was a party candidate.

Nigel Farage, UKIP leader, condemned ‘another appalling case of discrimination’ after former district nurse Anne Murgatroyd said she had been prevented from volunteering as a mentor for young adults by leading children’s charity Barnardo’s….

Responding to a Mail on Sunday reporter, she wrote: ‘I’d almost gone through their process and been accepted when I told them I’d be standing for UKIP in locals . . . They checked with managers, discussed it, couldn’t accept me due to issue of multi-culturalism.

‘Their rationale was that because UKIP opposes multi-culturalism it would not be appropriate for me to mentor young people coming out of the care system. My argument was that, yes, I do oppose forced marriage and female genital mutilation and family killings but that does not make me unsuitable to befriend young people.’ (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2238037/UKIP-leader-fury-member-banned-Barnardos-caring-children.html#ixzz2DDOYxVs1).

These two cases suggest that within the social work world, whether state funded or charitable, UKIP have been placed on some sort of black list. This is positively sinister because once agents of the state, whether directly employed or subcontracted labour in organisations such as charities, are allowed to make political judgements in their work anything potentially goes,  including the imposition of blanket bans on those belonging to parties deemed not to be within the ideological Pale of the public servant or organisation.

What Rotherham Social Services and Barnardos are both saying  in effect is that only those signing up to an uncritical political correctness can be considered for participation in childcare socialwork.  However, that is not entirely correct because,   as we shall see,   UKIP’s policies on immigration and multiculturalism are not radically different from those of  the Conservative  Party; neither are they  a million miles from those of Labour.  To the best of my knowledge there is no example of a member of the Conservative or Labour Parties  being denied participation because of their attitudes towards immigration and multiculturalism.  The implication of this is that UKIP is seen as a fringe party with limited power which  can be excluded with few consequences , while the power, influence and money at the disposal of the major  parties makes them too hot to challenge – it is also worth remembering that the funding for social services and much of the funding for major charities comes from the taxpayer so those in socialwork have a vested interest in keeping mum about the parties which do or potentially will allocate the taxpayers’ money.

The double standards are further seen in the complaint of the politically correct that UKIP members would indoctrinate the children with UKIP beliefs. But these people are more than happy to tolerate the indoctrination of children with their own views. There are no calls to  prevent the politically correct, purveyors of multiculturalism, Marxists and  Internationalists from adopting and fostering.  The politically correct deem these to be the “right” kind of indoctrination.

What UKIP, the Conservatives, Labour and the BNP say about immigration and multiculturalism

This is UKIP’s immigration policy including its position on multiculturalism:

• End mass, uncontrolled immigration. UKIP calls for an immediate five-year freeze on immigration for permanent settlement. We aspire to ensure that any future immigration does not exceed 50,000 people p.a.

• Regain control of UK borders. This can only be done by leaving the European Union. Entry for work will be on a time-limited work permit only. Entry for non-work related purposes (e.g. holiday or study) will be on a temporary visa. Overstaying will be a criminal offence

• Ensure all EU citizens who came to Britain after 1 January 2004 are treated in the same way as citizens from other countries (unless entitled to ‘Permanent Leave to Remain’). Non- UK citizens travelling to or from the UK will have their entry and exit recorded. To enforce this, the number of UK Borders Agency staff engaged in controlling immigration will be tripled to 30,000

• Ensure that after the five-year freeze, any future immigration for permanent settlement will be on a strictly controlled, points-based system similar to Australia, Canada and New Zealand

• Return people found to be living illegally in the UK to their country of origin. There can be no question of an amnesty for illegal immigrants. Such amnesties merely encourage further illegal immigration

• Require those living in the UK under ‘Permanent Leave to Remain’ to abide by a legally binding ‘Undertaking of Residence’ ensuring they respect our laws or face deportation. Such citizens will not be eligible for benefits. People applying for British citizenship will have to have completed a period of not less then five years as a resident on ‘Permanent Leave to Remain’. New citizens should pass a citizenship test and sign a ‘Declaration of British Citizenship’ promising to uphold Britain’s democratic and tolerant way of life

• Enforce the existing terms of the 1951 UN Convention on Refugees until Britain replaces it with an Asylum Act. To avoid disappearances, asylum seekers will be held in secure and

humane centres until applications are processed, with limited right to appeal. Those seeking asylum must do so in the first ‘designated safe country’ they enter. Existing asylum seekers who have had their application refused will be required to leave the country, along with any dependants. We oppose any amnesties for failed asylum seekers or illegal immigrants.

• Require all travellers to the UK to obtain a visa from a British Embassy or High Commission, except where visa waivers have been agreed with other countries. All non-work permit visa entrants to the UK will be required to take out adequate health insurance (except where reciprocal arrangements exist). Those without insurance will be refused entry. Certain visas, such as student visas, will require face-to-face interviews, and UKIP will crack down on bogus educational establishments

• Repeal the 1998 Human Rights Act and withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. In future British courts will not be allowed to appeal to any international treaty or convention that overrides or sets aside the provisions of any statue passed by the UK Parliament

• Reintroduce The ‘Primary Purpose Rule’  (abolished by the Labour Government),  whereby those marrying or seeking to marry a British citizen will have to convince the admitting officer that marriage, not residence, is their primary purpose in seeking to enter the UK

• End the active promotion of the doctrine of multiculturalism by local and national government and all publicly funded bodies

• Ensure British benefits are only available to UK citizens or those who have lived here for at least five years. Currently, British benefits can be claimed by EU citizens in their arrival year (http://www.ukip.org/content/ukip-policies/1499-immigration-ukip-policy).

Most of those policies are either formal Conservative policy or have considerable traction within the Parliamentary party.  In the case of multiculturalism David Cameron since becoming Prime Minister has repudiated it for its fracturing effect on society(http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-12371994 State multiculturalism has failed).  Here is the official  Conservative Party policy on immigration:

 IMMIGRATION

We are restoring order to our immigration system to bring annual net migration down to the tens of thousands – rather than the hundreds of thousands we saw under Labour – by the end of this Parliament. We have capped economic migration, reformed the student visa system, and we’re changing the family visa rules. We have made reforms at our borders, to ensure they are safe and secure.

The bigger picture

• Our annual limit on non-EU economic migration will not only help reduce immigration to sustainable levels but will protect those businesses and institutions that are vital to our economy. The new system was designed in consultation with business. Employers should look first to people who are out of work and who are already in this country.

• A properly controlled and regulated student visa system is a crucial component of our policy to reduce and control net migration. That is why we have radically reformed student visas to weed out abuse and tackle bogus colleges. And our reforms are starting to take effect: in the year to June 2012, there was a thirty per cent decrease in the number of student visas issued compared to the year to June 2011.

• We welcome those who wish to make a life in the UK with their family, work hard and make a contribution but a family life must not be established here at the taxpayer’s expense. To play a full part in British life, family migrants must be able to integrate – that means they must speak our language and pay their way. This is fair to applicants, but also fair to the public.

• The Government’s priority is the security of the UK border. The right checks need to be carried out to control immigration, protect against terrorism and tackle crime. We are maintaining thorough border checks. And despite those robust checks, the vast majority of passengers pass through immigration control quickly. http://www.conservatives.com/Policy/Where_we_stand/Immigration.aspx

The Labour Party do not have an up to date  immigration policy on their website  but their 2010 manifesto stated:

5.2 • Control immigration through our Australian-style points-based system, ensuring that as growth returns we see rising levels of employment and wages, not rising immigration, and requiring newcomers to earn citizenship and the entitlements it brings. http://www.labour.org.uk/uploads/TheLabourPartyManifesto-2010.pdf

The Labour leader Ed Miliband said this in April 2011 to explain why Labour lost the 2010 election:

“I think the problem is that we lost trust and we lost touch particularly in the south of England.

“I think living standards is a big part of it; immigration is a big part of it. I think maybe a combination of those two issues.” http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/labour/8462411/Ed-Miliband-immigration-lost-Labour-votes.html

Even if the three parties’ policies are not exactly the same there is much overlapping. Moreover the objections of Rotherham Social Services and Barnardos were  on the general grounds of finding  opposition to immigration and multiculturalism objectionable, so the exact detail of the objections is irrelevant.

UKIP may not be at the top of the politically correct pantheon of  secular devils, but the British National Party indubitably is. The BNP’s current policy on immigration is:

- Deport all the two million plus who are here illegally;

 - Deport all those who commit crimes and whose original nationality was not British;

 - Review all recent grants of residence or citizenship to ensure they are still appropriate;

 - Offer generous grants to those of foreign descent resident here who wish to leave permanently;

 - Stop all new immigration except for exceptional cases;

 - Reject all asylum seekers who passed safe countries on their way to Britain. (http://www.bnp.org.uk/policies/immigration)

That goes  substantially further than UKIP, the Conservatives and Labour.  Nonetheless,  if  Conservative  and Labour party spokesmen were asked to comment on what should happen to illegal immigrants, foreigners who commit crimes or whether citizenship should be removed from those with dual nationality who commit serious crimes,  I doubt whether any would say illegal immigrants  should be allowed to stay, foreigners who commit serious crimes should not be deported or British citizenship should not be taken from foreigners who have gained it and gone on to plot  terrorist attacks on this country.

As for the rejection of  asylum seekers who have passed through safe countries,  Britain has a legal right to do this under the various treaties which cover asylum.  Nor could there be any objection in principle to the use of payments to voluntarily repatriate people because the government has been happy enough to pay failed asylum seekers to leave Britain in the recent  past (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1572669/Row-over-payments-to-failed-asylum-seekers.html) and http://www.irr.org.uk/news/the-politics-of-voluntary-returns/.

It would be difficult to make a case for the BNP policy on immigration being so utterly different from that of the Conservative and Labour parties that the party  deserved to be  treated differently. As for the BNP’s rejection of multiculturalism, that is no different in principle from that of the Conservatives and UKIP.  Multiculturalism is something you either  support or oppose.  It is a general policy not one of specific detail being simply a belief that different ethnic/racial groups should be able to follow their own ancestral cultural norms.  Beyond that It does not stipulate what the relationship between the groups  should be.

The broader question

The broader  question raised by the Rotherham  case is why it is thought an unquestioned good that children brought up in this country should be raised in a way which will make them see themselves as separate from the native population.   If a child is to grow up, live and work as an adult in a country , which is probably what the children involved in the Rotherham case will do,  the  security and life chances of the child will be best secured by assimilating as completely as possible not by remaining separate from the native population.  To deliberately set a child apart from the native population by insisting that they are brought up by those deemed culturally compatible  (which is often social worker code for being of the same race) is to generate suspicion on the part of the native population of the  outsider and paranoia on the part of the outsider that he or she is always under  threat from the majority.  That is healthy for no one.  It is a recipe for racial and ethnic conflict./

Where does the extreme political correctness in public bodies come from?

The political correctness of public bodies is not accidental.   Legislation such as the Race Relations (Amendment) Act  2000 (http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2000/34/section/1)which lays a duty on public bodies to not only be non-discriminatory but to prove they are being so, have institutionalised political correctness with  arguably the rightness of multiculturalism as its core belief.   Such laws should be repealed because they entrench a political creed in law.

Another buttress of institutionalised political correctness is the   use of organisations such as Common Purpose (CP).  ( It is interesting that  Joyce Thacker,  Rotherham council’s Director of Children and Young People’s Service  is  reported to be a Common Purpose  graduate  - http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/jamesdelingpole/100191270/rotherham-hislop-common-purpose/).  CP represents itself as a leadership training organisation which is something of an oddity in itself.  It is very successful in persuading public bodies to send staff for this “leadership training”  for which COP is paid millions a year.  Courses  are offered for people aiming to become leaders to those who are already well up the ladder of their career path.

 Here are a few passages from the COP website which positively shout the message of political correctness:

Leadership resources

Common Purpose is interested in all aspects of leadership – when, what and how people choose to lead, and how they become better at it. We are also interested in all leaders, from all backgrounds; people at the beginning of their careers keen to develop their leadership potential to those looking to use their leadership skills in retirement.”  (http://www.commonpurpose.org.uk/resources).

“We value diversity and constantly strive to provide equality of opportunity as an employer and in the provision and delivery of all our activities. We positively encourage applications from all sections of the community and are working hard to ensure that our courses and services meet the requirements of people with disabilities.

Why do we do it?

What underpins all Common Purpose courses is a belief that society benefits from people of all ages, backgrounds and cultures working together to help guide and shape the future of their organisations and communities. This is best achieved when leaders are able to realise their full potential, through broadening their horizons and establishing firm roots in their communities.” (http://www.commonpurpose.org.uk/about/what-we-do)

No one opposed to political correctness, either wholly or in part, could take part in such a course honestly or willingly. ( For an extensive list of CP “graduates” and the positions held by them go to http://cpexposed.com/graduates).  The  aims of CP  and the courses  offered bear a strong resemblance  cadre training in the Marxist-Leninist mould.  It is probable that the ever growing political correctness in public service is to a significant degree engineered by the CP graduates who may act as a kind of freemasonary as well as promoting the idea as individuals.  There is consequently  a very strong case for banning any public servant from attending its courses.

What else can be done?

David Cameron may have spoken against multiculturalism and promised to legislate against the practice of social workers of placing children for  adoption  (and fostering) based on racial and cultural compatibility.  But he has not done this after several years in office.  Until this is done social workers  and their ilk in not-for-profit  bodies such as charities will continue to promote the politically correct and multicultural and nothing-else- will- be permitted message through their control of who is allowed to participate in their work.  There needs to be a specific legal bar to taking the political views of would be adopters, foster parents, volunteers and, indeed,  social workers themselves into account when deciding on adoption or fostering, recruiting volunteers  or employing people to engage in childcare social work.

That does not mean that  individuals should never be disbarred from such positions because of their views, but the views for which they are deemed unsuitable should be their own and not those  attributed to the person simply because  they show sympathy for  a political party, ideology or movement.   Nor should views be a disqualification unless they are directly relevant to the position sought, for example, someone espousing the view that the age of consent should be abolished who was seeking to become a foster parent might reasonably be considered unsuitable to look after children.    Opposition to immigration or multiculturalism should  not be grounds  for the thumbs down; nor should a belief in an open door immigration policy and multiculturalism result in rejection.  Finally, it should always be remembered that the behaviour of people is often at odds with their political and moral views.  Behaviour is a surer guide to the character of a person than what they say.

That those in the childcare department of Rotherham Council knew that what they were doing was dubious at best and illegal at worst is shown by their attempts to silence the couple involved; their failure  to confirm in writing the reasons for the children’s removal despite repeated requests from the couple and their refusal to publish the results of their internal inquiry into the matter. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/9706739/Ukip-fostering-row-mafia-council-told-us-to-keep-quiet-say-parents.html).

The attitude of the local Rotherham politicians is illustrated by Josephine Burton, a cabinet member at Labour-run Rotherham metropolitan borough council. She told a member of the public  “It may be advisable to wait until you have a better understanding of fostering and the current legislation that surrounds it, before wading in to pass judgement.” (Ibid).  No apology by the council has been offered to the couple involved.

George Orwell, left politics, modern liberals and the BBC

Robert Henderson

The “wrong” type of left wingery

The BBC has refused (http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/aug/22/bbc-george-orwell-statue-left-wing) to  accept a statue of their one-time employee George Orwell because  the outgoing director-general Mark Thompson thinks the great political novelist and essayist is “too left wing for the BBC”. Do stop sniggering at the back.

Orwell was indubitably left-wing , being in favour of  widespread state intervention both socially and economically.  Here is some of what  he thought needed to be done  to remedy the ills of English society  from  his long essay The Lion and the Unicorn  which was  published in 1941:

“I. Nationalization of land, mines, railways, banks and major industries.

II. Limitation of incomes, on such a scale that the highest tax-free income in Britain does not exceed the lowest by more than ten to on

 III. Reform of the educational system along democratic lines….. there are certain immediate steps that we could take towards a democratic educational system. We could start by abolishing the autonomy of the public schools and the older universities and flooding them with State-aided pupils chosen simply on grounds of ability… “(Part III  section II http://theorwellprize.co.uk/george-orwell/by-orwell/essays-and-other-works/the-lion-and-the-unicorn-socialism-and-the-english-genius/)

Socialism is usually defined as “common ownership of the means of production”. Crudely: the State, representing the whole nation, owns everything, and everyone is a State employee. This does not mean that people are stripped of private possessions such as clothes and furniture, but it does mean that all productive goods, such as land, mines, ships and machinery, are the property of the State….

However, it has become clear in the last few years that “common ownership of the means of production” is not in itself a sufficient definition of Socialism. One must also add the following: approximate equality of incomes (it need be no more than approximate), political democracy, and abolition of all hereditary privilege, especially in education. These are simply the necessary safeguards against the reappearance of a class-system. Centralized ownership has very little meaning unless the mass of the people are living roughly upon an equal level, and have some kind of control over the government. “The State” may come to mean no more than a self-elected political party, and oligarchy and privilege can return, based on power rather than on money. …(ibid Part II section )

These policies and concepts  would be considered hard left  and risibly impractical  by the modern liberal left,   but there was nothing outlandish or extreme  about such views in 1941.  They were mainstream  politics for the 1940s’ counterparts of those who are today part of the liberal left.   Much of what Orwell saw as necessary to rescue Britain was enacted a few years later when the Labour Party  campaigned in 1945 on a platform of nationalisation and received a massive popular vote by way of endorsement.  The Party  also kept its word with knobs on when in power between 1945 to 1951 when Clem Attlee’s government   carried through what was arguably  the most extensive nationalisation programme ever in an industrialised country with an elected government.  (The major nationalisations were coal, railways, inland waterways,  some  road haulage and passenger transport,  iron and steel,  electricity, local authority  gas providers , Cable and Wireless, Thomas Cook and Son and  the Bank of England.  It also made the large majority of health provision public through the creation of the taxpayer-funded NHS, greatly expanded publicly funded secondary education and put welfare benefits on a modern footing with the sweeping away of the remnants of the old Poor Law regime and its replacement with a system of universal insurance. )

The ideas which the mainstream left embraced in the 1940s survived long after wards.  Large scale nationalisation and state control of much of public life was not considered beyond the Pale until the Labour Party  had lost four  elections and allowed itself to be seduced into accepting globalisation hook, line and sinker  by  Tony Blair in the 1990s. Anyone doubting this should read the 1983 Labour Election manifesto (http://www.labour-party.org.uk/manifestos/1983/1983-labour-manifesto.shtml),   a document which was memorably but incorrectly described as the longest suicide note in history by the  Labour MP Gerald Kaufman.

This manifesto,  apart from laying out considerable further state involvement in industry and areas such as education and training, had two other  very interesting policies: withdrawal from what was then the European Economic Area (now the EU) and protectionist measures to safeguard British industry and commerce.

Withdrawal from Europe was justified by the manifesto because “The next Labour government, committed to radical, socialist policies for reviving the British economy, is bound to find continued membership a most serious obstacle to the fulfilment of those policies. In particular the rules of the Treaty of Rome are bound to conflict with our strategy for economic growth and full employment, our proposals on industrial policy and for increasing trade, and our need to restore exchange controls and to regulate direct overseas investment. Moreover, by preventing us from buying food from the best sources of world supply, they would run counter to our plans to control prices and inflation.” (Ibid Section Britain and the Common Market)

Protection of the British economy was necessary because it was  essential that “ we keep our exports and imports in balance. We must therefore be ready to act on imports directly: first, in order to safeguard key industries that have been seriously put at risk by Tory policy; and second, so as to check the growth of imports should they threaten to outstrip our exports and thus our plan for expansion.” (Ibid Section  A policy for imports).

The interesting thing about the  1983 Labour manifesto is that the Party was still thinking in terms of British politics. They were rejecting the internationalism represented by the EEC;  wanting  British laws to protect British industries and devising purely national economic policies.  They had not yet foresworn  all that the Party had ever stood for by embracing globalism.

Despite the massive Labour Election defeat in 1983 (which, contrary to Kaufman’s gibe,  was largely accounted for by the victory in the Falklands rather than anything in the Labour manifesto),  the Labour Party continued for the better part of  ten years with their view of politics being national not supranational.   Tony Blair, the man  who eventually sold the Labour Party down the ideological river into the chaotic political jungle of globalism,  had rather different ideas in the 1980s. Here are a few choice quotes from the young Blair:

“A massive reconstruction of industry is needed…the resources required to reconstruct manufacturing industry call for enormous state guidance and intervention…”  (The Blair Necessities  p39 1982)

“We will protect British industry against unfair foreign competition.” (The Blair Necessities p39 Blair’s 1983 Election Address)

 “There is nothing odd about subsidizing an industry”. (The Blair Necessities p40 Hansard 1983)

“Political utilities like Telecom and Gas and essential industries such as British airways and Rolls Royce were sold off  by the Tories in the closest thing, post-war, to legalised political corruption. What we all owned was taken a away from us, flogged off at a cheap price to win votes and the proceeds used to fund tax cuts. In fact, it was a unique for of corruption, since we were bribed by  our own money. “ (The Blair Necessities p51 from the News on Sunday, 1 November 1987)

It is difficult  for anyone born after 1980 to understand how different  was  the mainstream received opinion on how politics generally and  the economy in particular should  be organised  before the arrival of Thatcher and her successors.  British politics from 1945 until Thatcher took office in 1979 had been leftist regardless of who was in power. The  appetite for nationalising industries may have waned after the fall of the Attlee government in 1951,  but all British governments after Attlee and before Thatcher accepted, grudgingly or not, the situation created by Attlee. British politics in those years was essentially social democratic.

The idea that the state should take the lead in many areas of economic  life was built into British political life.  Tories as well as Labourites  often saw it as an entirely natural and laudable thing,  for example, a Tory Minister, Harold MacMillan,  was delighted to announce in the mid-fifties that 300,000 council homes had been built in a year and it was taken for granted in the 1950s that Britain would produce  through taxpayer financing  its own military technology  from the most sophisticated fighters to small arms.  There was also a form of political correctness in those years, for the native British working class  fulfilled much the same role in British politics as politically correct protected minorities – ethnic minorities, gays and women – do today, namely , as a  group virtually  beyond criticism by politicians ( see  https://livinginamadhouse.wordpress.com/2012/08/12/the-white-working-class-and-the-british-elite-from-the-salt-of-the-earth-to-the-scum-of-the-earth/).  However, this political correctness had one great difference from that of today:  it was  to do with the large majority of the native population of Britain and a domestic matter untainted  by foreign considerations.  Moreover, there was only one politically correct group vying for attention, not the multifarious sectional interests we have today.

I shall indulge myself with a short personal anecdote to illustrate how different  the political goods of the mainstream left were before the 1990s.  I went up to university in the late 1960s to take a history and politics degree.  The default position for students and staff  (in the university generally, but especially in the politics department) was to be Marxist or at least a strongly attached fellow traveller.  I sat in tutorials and seminars where tutors would describe ideas which deviated from the leftist norm of the  time as fascist crap or some such cheery expletive adorned abuse.  (Just as racist is the left liberal buzz word  of buzz words  today , so was fascist then).  It truly was a different world.

Nationalist not Internationalist

Left wing Orwell  may have been when acting in the social and economic sphere, but he also had an immensely strong sense of nation and valued patriotism as an essential glue for a society:

“Till recently it was thought proper to pretend that all human beings are very much alike, but in fact anyone able to use his eyes knows that the average of human behaviour differs enormously from country to country.” (part 1section I http://theorwellprize.co.uk/george-orwell/by-orwell/essays-and-other-works/the-lion-and-the-unicorn-socialism-and-the-english-genius/)

“One cannot see the modern world as it is unless one recognizes the overwhelming strength of patriotism, national loyalty. In certain circumstances it can break down, at certain levels of civilization it does not exist, but as a positive force there is nothing to set beside it. Christianity and international Socialism are as weak as straw in comparison with it. Hitler and Mussolini rose to power in their own countries very largely because they could grasp this fact and their opponents could not.  (ibid part 1 section I)  

“There is no question about the inequality of wealth in England. It is grosser than in any European country, and you have only to look down the nearest street to see it. Economically, England is certainly two nations, if not three or four. But at the same time the vast majority of the people feel themselves to be a single nation and are conscious of resembling one another more than they resemble foreigners. Patriotism is usually stronger than class-hatred, and always stronger than any kind of internationalism.” (Ibid  part 1 section 3 )

“Patriotism has nothing to do with Conservatism. It is actually the opposite of Conservatism, since it is a devotion to something that is always changing and yet is felt to be mystically the same. It is the bridge between the future and the past. No real revolutionary has ever been an internationalist.” (Ibid part 3 section III)

Again, his views were reflected in the  Attlee Government  whose members,  with a few exceptions such as the  Marxist  Strafford Cripps, were people  who naturally thought in terms of the British national interest  and for policies which were purely British.  It would never have occurred to the likes of Attlee and Ernest Bevin (both deeply patriotic men in their different ways)  to embrace the idea of free trade with its inevitable diminution  of native British industry and agriculture or to conceive of domestic British politics as a matter for anyone other than the British.

Orwell’s  Englishness

Orwell was very English and admired his country and his countrymen despite their shortcomings as he saw them.  He also placed his thought  consciously on an English base. Throughout his writings, both fiction and non-fiction, his  choice of noun for the United Kingdom is England.    All his novels apart from the first Burmese Days are set in England and very English in tone, even his two great political novels Animal Farm and 1984. Animal Farm is set on what is obviously an English farm and  in 1984 the part of Oceana  which is England, a strange transmuted England  but still a very English land underneath the oddities.

Much of the Lion and the Unicorn is taken up with defining Englishness, for example:

“…there is something distinctive and recognizable in English civilization. It is a culture as individual as that of Spain. It is somehow bound up with solid breakfasts and gloomy Sundays, smoky towns and winding roads, green fields and red pillar-boxes. It has a flavour of its own. Moreover it is continuous, it stretches into the future and the past, there is something in it that persists, as in a living creature. What can the England of 1940 have in common with the England of 1840? But then, what have you in common with the child of five whose photograph your mother keeps on the mantelpiece? Nothing, except that you happen to be the same person. 

“And above all, it is your civilization, it is you. However much you hate it or laugh at it, you will never be happy away from it for any length of time. The suet puddings and the red pillar-boxes have entered into your soul. Good or evil, it is yours, you belong to it, and this side the grave you will never get away from the marks that it has given you.  (Ibid Part 1 section  I)

Even where there was an aspect of England which he quarrelled with such as  the English class system or the Empire,  Orwell would recognise the ameliorating qualities of Englishness (or occasionally Britishness) in those  aspects . Here he is on the ruling class and the Empire:

“It must be admitted that so long as things were peaceful the methods of the British ruling class served them [the rest of the population] well enough. Their own people manifestly tolerated them. However unjustly England might be organized, it was at any rate not torn by class warfare or haunted by secret police. The Empire was peaceful as no area of comparable size has ever been. Throughout its vast extent, nearly a quarter of the earth, there were fewer armed men than would be found necessary by a minor Balkan state. As people to live under, and looking at them merely from a liberal, negative standpoint, the British ruling class had their points. They were preferable to the truly modern men, the Nazis and Fascists. But it had long been obvious that they would be helpless against any serious attack from the outside.” (Ibid Part 1 section  IV)

One thing that has always shown that the English ruling class are morally fairly sound, is that in time of war they are ready enough to get themselves killed. Several dukes, earls and what-not were killed in the recent campaign in Flanders. That could not happen if these people were the cynical scoundrels that they are sometimes declared to be. It is important not to misunderstand their motives, or one cannot predict their actions. What is to be expected of them is not treachery or physical cowardice, but stupidity, unconscious sabotage, an infallible instinct for doing the wrong thing. They are not wicked, or not altogether wicked; they are merely unteachable. Only when their money and power are gone will the younger among them begin to grasp what century they are living in.” ( ibid part 1 section IV)

Orwell also had a touching belief that a socialist revolution in England would be a most unusual and English affair:

“An English Socialist government will transform the nation from top to bottom, but it will still bear all over it the unmistakable marks of our own civilization, the peculiar civilization which I discussed earlier in this book…

 It will not be doctrinaire, nor even logical. It will abolish the House of Lords, but quite probably will not abolish the Monarchy. It will leave anachronisms and loose ends everywhere, the judge in his ridiculous horsehair wig and the lion and the unicorn on the soldier’s cap-buttons. It will not set up any explicit class dictatorship. It will group itself round the old Labour Party and its mass following will be in the Trade Unions, but it will draw into it most of the middle class and many of the younger sons of the bourgeoisie. Most of its directing brains will come from the new indeterminate class of skilled workers, technical experts, airmen, scientists, architects and journalists, the people who feel at home in the radio and ferro-concrete age. But it will never lose touch with the tradition of compromise and the belief in a law that is above the State. It will shoot traitors, but it will give them a solemn trial beforehand, and occasionally it will acquit them. It will crush any open revolt promptly and cruelly, but it will interfere very little with the spoken and written word. Political parties with different names will still exist, revolutionary sects will still be publishing their newspapers and making as little impression as ever. It will disestablish the Church, but will not persecute religion. It will retain a vague reverence for the Christian moral code, and from time to time will refer to England as “a Christian country”. The Catholic Church will war against it, but the Nonconformist sects and the bulk of the Anglican Church will be able to come to terms with it. It will show a power of assimilating the past which will shock foreign observers and sometimes make them doubt whether any revolution has happened.” (ibid part 3 section II)

Orwell’s contempt for the English Left Intelligentsia

Orwell had no illusions about the mentality of many of the English left of the nineteen-thirties:

“In intention, at any rate, the English intelligentsia are Europeanized. They take their cookery from Paris and their opinions from Moscow. In the general patriotism of the country they form a sort of island of dissident thought. England is perhaps the only great country whose intellectuals are ashamed of their own nationality. In left-wing circles it is always felt that there is something slightly disgraceful in being an Englishman and that it is a duty to snigger at every English institution, from horse racing to suet puddings. It is a strange fact, but it is unquestionably true that almost any English intellectual would feel more ashamed of standing to attention during “God save the King” than of stealing from a poor box”   Ibid Part 1 section V)

“During the past twenty years the negative, fainéant outlook which has been fashionable among English left-wingers, the sniggering of the intellectuals at patriotism and physical courage, the persistent effort to chip away English morale and spread a hedonistic, what-do-I-get-out-of-it attitude to life, has done nothing but harm. It would have been harmful even if we had been living in the squashy League of Nations universe that these people imagined. In an age of Führers and bombing planes it was a disaster. However little we may like it, toughness is the price of survival. A nation trained to think hedonistically cannot survive amid peoples who work like slaves and breed like rabbits, and whose chief national industry is war. English Socialists of nearly all colours have wanted to make a stand against Fascism, but at the same time they have aimed at making their own countrymen unwarlike. They have failed, because in England traditional loyalties are stronger than new ones. But in spite of all the “anti-Fascist” heroics of the left-wing press, what chance should we have stood when the real struggle with Fascism came, if the average Englishman had been the kind of creature that the New Statesman, the Daily Worker or even the News Chronicle wished to make him? “(Ibid part 3 section III

Why today’s liberal left are wary of  Orwell

The real BBC objection to Orwell is not that he is too left-wing but rather he is left-wing in a way which does not fit with being left wing in Britain today.  The modern mainstream British  left  are committed to just about everything Orwell opposed. They have unreservedly bought into the idea of globalism at the level of both economics and politics; they loathe the idea of self-determining national states; ideas of patriotism and national identity they see as at best obsolete and at worst vicious; they purport to believe that a  racially and ethnically mixed society is morally and culturally superior to a society which is homogeneous and  they have a particular hatred and fear of England which drives them to the doublethink of simultaneously claiming  that there is no such nation as the English whilst saying the English are dangerously nationalistic.  As for  public control and ownership of virtually anything,  they have largely adopted  the Thatcherite   idea that the market is always the answer and private enterprise is invariably superior to public ownership.  Even where they have doubts about the continuing  mania to privatise everything and  lament much of what has been privatised or are privately dismayed  by the export of jobs to the developing world, they shrug their shoulders and say such things are inevitable in a globalised world.

There is a further reason why Orwell cannot sit easily with the modern liberal. He encapsulated so much of what is  wrong with them  in his later writings.  In Animal Farm he describes just the sort of corruption of purpose which has taken place in the Labour Party since the 1990s with the likes of Tony  Blair and Peter Mandelson  celebrating the “filthy rich” as they desperately sought to join them.  It would be difficult to find  a better example of Robert Michels’  iron law of oligarchy whereby organisations set up to help the working class become vehicles to advance the fortunes of  those who head them  rather than those who they are ostensibly meant to aid.

1984 is even more telling because Orwell describes a situation we know only too well in modern England: the usurpation of language by the political elite and its use as a tool of social control. This is precisely what the imposition of political correctness represents.

There is also in 1984 an emptiness of purpose  because,  as the interrogator O’Brien  points out, power becomes a recognised and desirable (for party members) end in itself.  This echoes the ideological shallowness of the politically correct for whom the mechanical policing of  what is deemed politically correct  and the punishment of the politically incorrect becomes a ritual rather than a political policy leading to a desired outcome.

The reality is that modern mainstream left  are not “left wing” in any sense recognisable to previous generations. They are simply people who have a set of ideas, ideas  which are no more than assertions, of how people should behave.  There is no questioning of whether the ideas have a beneficial effect or not.  Rather, the ideas  are simply treated as self-evident goods and imposed regardless of their effects.

But although Orwell’s ideas are anathema to them because  they clash so violently  with their own, there is something more to the modern  liberal left’s  disregard for Orwell than ideological differences.  His honest socialism reminds at least some of them of the betrayal of the Labour Party’s history and principles which has left the less well off in Britain with no mainstream party to act or speak for them.   That may even induce a sense of guilt.  For those liberals who do not feel remorse,  there is baser motive of fear that in difficult times such as these the old socialism may seem attractive to large numbers of people and,  if it does,  those people may start asking the modern leftists exactly why they are  to be considered to be on the political left.

Orwell represents danger to the modern liberal left. He both challenges everything they stand for and provides a heady  left alternative, namely socialism wrapped in a patriotic cultural blanket.  That is why the likes of Mark Thompson think he is “too left wing”.

IQ and society

Robert Henderson

Contents

1. IQ and national wealth

2. Racial differences in IQ

3. Is IQ innate?

4. What is measured by IQ Tests?

5. Does an IQ test measure general intelligence?

6. The intelligence of erudition

7. Did Darwin have a high IQ?

8. Reason is not the primary driver of Man

9. Sociological forces 10. How primitive is primitive?

11. Speciation by culture

12. Race and  Man

13. An analogy with computers

14. The more primitive the society the less it relies on IQ related skills

15. Life in more complex societies

16. The increasing IQ demands of  modern society

17. Low IQ behaviour

18. High IQ behaviour

19. Majority and minority

20. The low IQ individual in a high IQ  society

21. The High IQ individual in a low IQ society

22. High status jobs and IQ

23. How the IQ  level of a society rises

24. Why have Asians not dominated?

25. Why have  whites dominated?

26. Blacks: the odd man out

27. A dysgenic future?

28. Conclusion

 

Appendix A White men can run

Appendix B Digital  technology

Appendix C Two high status blacks

 

NB Throughout I use the terms white, black and Asian as synonyms for Caucasoid, Negroid and Mongoloid respectively.

1. IQ and national wealth

In  their books “IQ and the Wealth of Nations” and “IQ and Global Inequality” the psychologists  Richard Lynn  and  Tatu  Vanhanen advance the  theory  that  the  economic  state of a society is to a substantial degree reliant upon  the IQ distribution  within  the population,  with a tendency  for  higher IQ populations  to produce stronger and more sophisticated economies  than lower IQ populations.    But there is not a simple relationship between IQ and economic development, for example, Asians probably (see section 2) have a higher average IQ than whites, yet it is whites who have produced the richest and most economically sophisticated societies to date.  Moreover,  there is no uniformity of  economic development within races.  Lynn and Vanhanen’s thesis is that IQ is a necessary but not  sufficient condition for economic development.  Put another way, societies with a high average IQ  have the potential to progress to a sophisticated economic state but those with a low average IQ do not.

Such a conclusion is unsurprising because it mirrors what happens at the level of the individual – the lower the IQ of an individual the less likely the individual is to occupy a substantial and significant position  in  their  society. This individual tendency is  to  varying  degrees distorted by the amount of inherited material and social advantage an individual enjoys, but even within social groups with similar inherited advantage, the same tendency can be seen:  the lower the IQ the less  significant a position the individual is likely to occupy.  In addition, there are absolute limits to what someone can do with a particular IQ, for example,   someone with an IQ of 150 may or may not take a first in maths; someone with an IQ of 80 will never take a first in maths.

Lynn and Vanhanen’s correlations also suggest that the average IQ of a society will have a significant effect even if a society does not progress to the front rank of advanced states or peoples at any point in time. The Chinese and Japanese did not develop into modern industrialised  states of their own volition, but even at the pre-industrial stage they had much more sophisticated  economic systems  than populations with lower average IQs, for example, compare China and Japan with sub-Saharan Africa at any point before China and Japan were  forced into widespread  trade with the West in the mid nineteenth century and began to industrialise.

If Lynn and Vanhanen are correct, they have achieved something much more profound than simply discover a relationship between economic development and  IQ  because  the  economic state  of  a  society  has  fundamental implications for its social structure and social structure for the culture of the society. A more  advanced economy necessarily requires a more sophisticated social organisation than a less advanced economy because the social relationships needed to produce it  are inherently more complex. An industrialised state requires  large scale urban development to produce the concentrated population required to man factories. Urban development allows greater division of labour and increases the opportunity for a wider range of occupations, including greater scope for those which are not utilitarian such as the arts. Large conglomerations of people require extensive public administration and works.

What Lynn and Vanhanen are actually arguing for is a link   between average national IQ and general social organisation:  the higher the average IQ, the greater the opportunity for social complexity is the implication of their work.  If this is true then the general nature of a society  will be governed by the IQ distribution of its inhabitants.  Societies will share certain fundamental structural similarities because IQ distribution sets limits to what a society may be, although that does not mean societies with a similar IQ distribution will match each other in the detail of their respective cultures. Take as an example two tribes of hunter-gatherers, one in South America and one in Africa.  They will differ in their tribal rituals, the weapons they make, their marriage customs and the means by which they hunt and so forth, but they will share the same general social arrangements which allow them to survive:  a high degree of group dependence, the general means by which they live (hunting and gathering), the division of labour between men and women, a nomadic life and so on.

The evidence on which Lynn and Vanhanen base their theory   is substantial.  In IQ and the Wealth of Nations they examined nearly two hundred IQ studies from around the world to obtain average national IQs for 81  countries.  For those countries where the data is lacking Lynn and Vanhanen extrapolated their national average IQs from nearby countries with similar racial populations for which data does exist. For example, country A  with no test data has two  neighbours B and C with racially similar populations to country  A. Countries B and C  have  test data which allows their national IQs  to be measured  at 85 and 87 respectively. The national IQ of country A is given as 86, the mean of B and C. Objections were made to this form of estimation by critics but Lynn and Vanhanen  found a  very high correlation of 0.91 between the 32 countries which were estimated in their first book  from neighbouring country IQs but  calculated  from measured IQs in their second  book.

In “IQ and Global Inequality”, Lynn and Vanhanen increased the  number of countries for which  they were able to calculate national IQs from test data from 81 to 113. The correlation between IQ and per  capita income for 2002 (0.68) was the similar to  that in “IQ and the Wealth of Nations”.

For their second book Lynn and Vanhanen managed to calculate national IQs for all other countries without test data, thus obtaining national IQs for all 192 countries in the world. They found a correlation of 0.60 between IQ and per capita income for 2002 for the 192 countries. The correlation is close to that in their first book.

Lynn and Vanhanen have probably done as good a job as can be done with the available data in justifying their hypothesis by the correlation of data. However, it will not convince everyone, not even all of those who are not ideologically opposed to their ideas. Is  there another method by which their hypothesis can be bolstered?  There is – by taking the sociological/ anthropological/ historical and the commonsense route of appealing to what any individual can see for themselves in their everyday life.

Such an approach has the advantage of making the subject accessible to the general public, or at least to the intelligent and  educated lay reader. This is a vitally important consideration, because the implications of research such as Lynn and Vanhanen’s are as political as it is possible  for academic research to be.   By definition it is a subject which affects everyone and consequently should be  made accessible to as many people as possible.

I have a second end in view, namely, I want to explore the implications  of Lynn and Vanhanen’s  work if it does represent reality.

2. Racial differences in IQ

The largest difference is between blacks and Asians, or possibly if the white/Asian gap is not accepted, between blacks and  whites and Asians. Lynn and Vanhanen estimate the average of IQ  of blacks in sub-Saharan Africa at 70. Startlingly low many will think. I have more  to say on this  subject in section 26.

Estimates of black IQs elsewhere are problematic because so much of the evidence comes from the USA where there is a substantial white admixture within the black population.  The consensus amongst academics is that the American  black population has an  average IQ of 85.  Interestingly, this is similar to the average IQ found amongst the mixed race population of SA which was traditionally  known as coloured. This is strong  circumstantial evidence for a large genetic component to IQ.

Logic would suggest that if genetics is  the prime mover in determining  IQ,  the part of the black American population  without any  white admixture would have an average IQ similar to that of the sub-Saharan black population.  I have not been able to locate any study which attempts to sort the IQs of the “black” US   population by  racial composition, but Lynn and Vanhanen’s  calculated IQs for  countries  outside Africa which  have  overwhelmingly black  populations and  whose blacks have little white admixture support such a  view, for instance,  Jamaica  with an average national IQ of 72.  (IQ and the Wealth of Nations p76).

The difference between whites and Asians is much less stark, if it exists at all. The majority of studies support such a difference, although a few such as that of  Harold Stevenson suggest otherwise. Stephenson  “administered  a battery of mental tests  to elementary   school   children   in   Japan,    Taiwan    and Minnesota…Stevenson  and his colleagues  carefully  matched   children  in  socioeconomic  and  demographic  variables.  No significant difference in overall IQ was found and  Stevenson and his colleagues concluded ‘This study offers no support for the  argument that there are differences in the general  cognitive functioning of  Chinese,  Japanese and American children.” (The Bell Curve p274)

The authors of the Bell Curve, Murray and Herrstein  reviewed the literature thoroughly and  concluded: “In our judgement, the balance of the evidence supports the proposition that the overall Asian mean is  higher  than  the  white mean. If we had to put a number on it,  three  IQ  points currently most resembles a consensus,  tentative  though it  still  is (The Bell Curve P276).

Lynn and Vahanan  (pp  74-77 IQ and the Wealth of Nations)  give   average IQs  of China 100, Japan 106, North Korea 104,  South Korea 106.

However, IQs are not of a piece. For example, men and women score similarly but women have a narrower distribution than men, that is, fewer representatives at the extremes of the distribution. Similarly, there are differences in IQ configurations for blacks, whites and Asians.

Blacks score more strongly on verbal questions than the visiospatial; whites are best balanced between verbal and visiospatial, while Asians show slightly less strongly on verbal questions and significantly more strongly on the visospatial than whites, viz:

“East  Asians  living  overseas score about the same or  slightly  lower  than whites on verbal IQ  and  substantially  higher  on  visiospatial IQ.  Even in the rare  studies  that have  found  overall Japanese or Chinese IQs no  higher  than  white IQs (e.g.,  the Stevenson study of Japanese,  Taiwanese   and Minnesotans mentioned previously) the discrepancy between   verbal and visospatial IQ persists.   For Japanese living  in  Asia,  a 1987 review of the literature demonstrated  without  much   question  that  the verbal-visiospatial   difference   persists  even  in  examinations thoroughly  adapted  to  the Japanese  language and,  indeed,  in tests developed  by  the   Japanese themselves.” (The Bell Curve  p300).

That is the broad picture. It is important to realise that there are significant variations amongst the broad racial groups. In “IQ  and Global Inequality”  the “East Asian countries (China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore) all have IQs in the range of 105 to 108. The 29 European countries all have IQs in  the range of 92 to 102. The 19 countries of sub-Saharan Africa all have IQs in the range of 59 to 73. Much of the rest of the world has IQs in the 80-90  range.

The position of many of the  world’s states  is complicated by the existence of  very racially mixed populations. For example, India’s calculated national IQ is 81, which is below that of US blacks. But despite  such a paltry  national average India manifestly  has a very large  component in their population of the intellectually capable, a fact attested by their growing international importance in  the  area of intellectual  property. A low or mediocre overall national IQ does not necessarily equal no chance of social and economic advancement. What seems to be important  for  movement to a more sophisticated society is  that there is a sufficient weight of IQ related ability  rather than that all members of the society must be part of  a higher IQ  group (although if the number of low IQ individuals is larger than it would be in a homogeneously higher IQ population it will impose costs on a society).  What that sufficient weight is problematical, but clearly there must be sufficient people throughout the IQ distribution to do the more demanding IQ tasks, whether they be jobs needing an IQ of 100 or  jobs needing an IQ of 150. The necessary  number of people with IQs of  140+, is probably quite small. There is almost certainly  a  growing need for people  with  IQs in the range 110-140 because of the demands made by modern technology.

3. Is IQ innate?

In June 2005   Prof  Rushton and University of California psychology professor Arthur Jensen published a  60-page study in Psychology, Public Policy  and Law  in which they concluded: “Neither the existence nor the size of race differences in IQ are a matter of dispute, only their cause”.  Rushton revisited Andrew Duffy The Ottawa Citizen October 1, 2005 http://www.canada.com/ottawa/ottawacitizen/news/story.html?id=6c9fe76b-f1 bd-4cfb-baa8-5d006efdf650&page=1

What is the cause? Is it nurture or Nature? That of course is the question that makes  the very notion of  IQ as a meaningful  measure of  mental ability anathema to most white liberals, which means most people with power and influence in the West today.

Liberals dislike the idea of IQ  tests  because it goes against the belief which underpins modern liberalism, namely, that no meaningful distinctions can be made between people as a group. A liberal may allow  that a  particular person may be good bad or indifferent in some respect but not the group. Many liberals in practice go beyond the repudiation of  group distinctions and apply the idea to the individual, claiming (or at least  implying by their behaviour)  that if someone is deficient in some quality it is merely a matter of  circumstances and upbringing.

The liberal would not necessarily be keen on IQ testing even if  IQ could be shown to be entirely the product of  the environment, because  that which is the consequence of upbringing may be as fixed as  that which is innate.  Unless it could be shown that IQ could be altered radically at every stage of life the liberal would be left with the awkward  problem  of what to do with those whose  IQ is already fixed. The liberal would have the further problem of how to alter society  to prevent future disadvantage due to the environment  If some magic genetic engineering  bullet  or other artificial means  such as   cybernetic enhancement  could  not be found  do  the job,   the only plausible means to improve IQ would be to radically reduce the differences in the  environments   in which children are raised.. If it was material differences which mattered that would be difficult enough, but what if it was found that the primary  causative agent of the development of IQ was  the influence of  family and peers? How would the child of  parents who lacked intellect  or  parents who had little interest in their child  be compensated for a poor environment?  As for material differences, it is noteworthy that  modern liberals show very little practical interest in reducing material inequality.  Indeed, most have bought into the free trade, free market ideology where property is sacrosanct.

There is a further problem for latter-day liberals: the fact that it is blacks who have the lowest average IQ.  Blacks are the ultimate politically correct group for  white liberals. If it was whites who had the lowest average IQ it is doubtful that liberals would be so utterly hostile to the idea of IQ as an innate quality.  Indeed, it is probable  that liberals would use the fact to bolster their  claims that on average blacks have poor social outcomes  compared with whites and Asians  because of  racism.

It is not only white liberals who have  an emotional problem with IQ as an innate quality. Most of the developing world (essentially  everywhere but those countries with Asian populations) has a problem because their  national IQs are substantially lower than those of the advanced nations. No people  are going to take kindly to the idea that they are as a people  innately inferior in some important respect.

What applies to nations applies to any member of a low IQ group anywhere, most particularly blacks because their average IQ is so   much lower than any other broad racial group. Such people will naturally resent being categorised as belonging  to such a group, regardless of the fact that group IQ says nothing about the individual’s IQ (although a person’s race will increase the probability of what his or her IQ is likely to be.)

The ideologically committed  nurturists  should reflect on  the  implications of what they are saying. The only way  mind could be divorced from natural selection  is if  it was not a product of  biology. But of course that is not what  the nurturists  think, for they  are  generally materialists who are normally more than happy to accept that mind is simply a product of brain. Consequently, what the  genetic determined IQ deniers  are in effect saying  is that natural selection does not operate on the  brain,  while they allow it operates on all other parts of not only Man but of the Natural World generally.

Interestingly, liberals  have no problem with  some genetic racial differences.  For, example, sickle cell anaemia is happily acknowledged by liberals  to be much more common in those of African ancestry  and   dNA tests which can predict with a high degree of probability  a person’s  race pass without comment.

The reason why white liberals normally have no problem with such genetic differences is twofold:(1)they do not  say anything about the human being as  a  human being because they have nothing  overtly to do with mind and(2) there is hard scientific evidence to say the differences exist – it would be literally absurd for a liberal to claim that sickle cell anaemia is not more prevalent in blacks.

There are other issues  which  are not so clear cut. A favourite  argument of those who support the idea of  racial difference in  IQ is  to invoke the  claim that blacks are on average innately more gifted athletes than whites  (there are considerable  evidential difficulties with this claim and I examine the difficulties in appendix A “White men can run“ ) and hence it is  not irrational or even unexpected  to find other differences between races such as those uncovered by IQ testing.  White  liberals  have a problem with this: they  are torn between  extolling an area of superiority   for blacks and the realisation  that if  genetic superiority is conceded  there  the absolutist nurturist argument for IQ  is weakened. This being so, they  normally  attempt to ignore the point, whilst allowing themselves to snigger in exquisite masochistic fashion about how “white men can‘t run“.

For those who are not hardline nurturists the  question is how large  a role genetics plays in IQ.  Most  psychologists  who accept that there is a genetic component to IQ estimate it at anything between 40 per cent and 80 per cent. There are good reasons to believe it is at the upper end of those estimates, even  plausibly above 80 per cent.

A child born in the most fortunate circumstances with every advantage of material  advantage, health  and education  may have an IQ of 80:  a child from the bottom of the social heap living without such advantages  may have an IQ of 160. That this disparity  between  environment and IQ can happen – and of course it  happens less dramatically all through the IQ distribution -  points to IQ being largely genetically  determined, perhaps even entirely determined by genetics, for why should high IQs be found  amongst the poor and low IQs amongst the rich if this was not the case?

There are plenty of examples of  men and women with little social advantage  excelling in demanding jobs. Take the case of James Brindley. Brindley was the eighteenth century engineer who built the first great canal in England for the Duke of Bridgewater. The man was  barely literate and came from a most unpromising background. Notwithstanding that he solved many utterly daunting engineering problems, problems which he had to solve from the bottom up because they were engineering challenges no one in England had previously solved. Clearly he was a man with a very healthy IQ, yet he had very little by way of education  and none by social advantage.  In fact many of the engineers of the Industrial Revolution were men of rudimentary education and poor  backgrounds, men such as John Harrison the watch and clock maker and George Stephenson of railway fame.

The great variation of IQ amongst any population is in itself a powerful argument against IQ being wholly or largely culturally/environmentally determined.  IQ is distributed within racial groups in a good approximation to the bell curve. Why should this be if  the cultural/environmental element is  dominant in determining IQ? Surely if it was dominant, the distribution of IQ would vary erratically according to the various circumstances of individuals, not merely differences in wealth but also  the propensity of  parents to drive children intellectually. Of course, there is a correlation between class and IQ but the average difference  between the classes is not  massive.  The fact that such variability does exist and that the distribution of IQ (although not IQ scores) has remained broadly constant over the century in which it has been measured strongly suggests that   IQ  is overwhelmingly determined by the  genes.

That IQ distribution varies not only between the broad racial groups but within  each racial population can be fitted into both the genetic and nuturist arguments. Sub-populations of the same race which are reasonably discrete would be expected to  vary because natural selection would operate  differentially on each sub-population, not least because societies will differ in the  mental demands they place on their members. For instance, a genetic explanation for urban dwellers scoring better than rural dwellers could  simply be that those who migrate to towns are both selecting themselves by making the decision to move  (with the implication that they  may be those with a higher  IQ  will self select themselves disproportionately)  and then when they get to the town they will be further selected by their  differentially  successful  breeding in their new circumstances.

More generally, if IQ is wholly or predominantly culturally determined, the sophistication of a society would  be the cause of varying  IQ distributions  within  and between races and any advance in social complexity would be not the result of increasing  IQ but simply  an emergent property of the organic structural development of  a society,  a  Lamarkian rather than Darwinian process, that is,  people would  be able to do more intellectually demanding things because  society demanded them and IQ would be improved. because they  were forced to do them. (The Lamarkian anaology breaks down at the point of inheritance).

Although halfway plausible nuturist explanations can  be produced  for IQ  differences  generally, they cannot be found for racial  differences. If  IQ is predominantly the consequence of nurture it  is very difficult to  see how a  nurturist explanation  could be given for  why  racial IQ difference is,  broadly speaking,  stable regardless of the nature of the society  in which a race lives. For example, why  should South Koreans, who were living in a  pre-industrial society until  very recently,   have a similar IQ  profile to those of Korean parentage  born and raised in the USA? There really  is not any  plausible non-genetic explanation for such uniformity. Indeed, it would be difficult to construct any nurturist argument, plausible or otherwise,  to explain it because  the differences of the two societies are so great. The best the nurturist could do is construct a wildly improbable scenario whereby different social pressures produced the same result.

If IQ was really radically changeable by improving social circumstances and by direct attempts to improve IQ  test  scores, the gains should be large not a few points, nor should they be seemingly temporary. Yet that is precisely  what is  found in  the  considerable number of attempts  to bolster  children’s  IQ  by placing  those from poor families in materially and culturally  superior circumstances.  Even the gains claimed  by the enthusiastic supporters of programmes such as Head Start in the USA (mostly in the range of 4-10 IQ points)  are significant but not startling. Nor do the gains  normally last  but are subject to “fade out” after the initial uplift, until a few years down the line nothing is left of the improvement. Those who are interested in the  detail of  both attempts to  raise IQ and sustain the improvement  will find a review of the academic literature at chapter  17 of The Bell Curve.

It is also true that apparent gains in IQ from enhancement programmes   occur at the lower end  of the IQ  distribution. Why is that those who start with an IQ of 150 do not make similar gains to those with IQs of 90?  The same applies to the “Flynn Effect”  which charts apparent rises in IQ generally  throughout the century in which IQ tests have been used.    The overall IQ increases but most of the increase is  found at the lower end of the IQ scale.   The most probable explanations for the Flynn Effect is that whatever cultural bias that existed in earlier tests has been  gradually squeezed out, secondary school education has become the norm at least in the West and the  diet and health  of  the poor has radically  improved.

It will be interesting to see whether the Flynn Effect continues in  advanced countries now that the material circumstances of the vast majority of the  population are  sufficient to  remove  the possibility of  inadequate diet or healthcare  being one of the reasons for depressed IQ and the vast majority of people in such societies live in urban circumstances. (There are already some suggestions from Scandinavia – “A long term rise and recent decline in intelligence tests performance: the Flynn Effect in  reverse”  Teasdale and Owen -   that the  rise in IQ scores is  diminishing or may even  have already ended.)

Tellingly, the proportionate IQ differences between races have also remained broadly similar despite the  “Flynn Effect”,   The black  psychologist   Thomas Sowell has attempted to explain   away   the black/white difference by  pointing out that ostensibly the black IQ scores of today are equivalent to the white scores of 50  years ago and by referring to the similar gap between whites from poor rural backgrounds and  urban whites when IQs were measured fifty years ago. Sowell’s attempt fails because the black/white gap has proportionately remained as great.  As black scores have risen, so have white scores. Consequently, it is difficult to see how the rise of black scores can be attributed to changes in culture or the environment.  I emailed Prof Sowell and had this exchange with him:

“Dear Professor Sowell

I  have come across your thesis that the black/white gap of one standard deviation is not abnormal there being other examples within a race, for example, between white rural communities and white urban communities. You also point out that black scores have risen over the past 50 years or so to that of whites of 50 years ago. “I see a problem with this argument:  the black/white gap has remained the same over the period, i.e., white scores have improved proportionately. If the lower black IQ is only a cultural/environmental phenomenon,  why should that be?”

Prof Sowell replied:

“As to changing IQs over time, James R. Flynn has written a number of things on that. As to how the black-white gap could remain the same if the difference is cultural, that seems less difficult to explain than substantial changes in IQ over time if IQs are hereditary. Incidentally, Professor Flynn has a book coming out on all this in the summer. The title doesn’t come to mind immediately but it will be published by Cambridge University Press.”

Frankly, his response to the problem is no answer at all. What the rise in   black and white scores does suggest is that the “Flynn Effect” either does not exist but rather is, as mentioned above,  simply a product of the changing nature of IQ tests etc. – the  modern concentration on culture-free tests could  be responsible for almost all  of the Flynn Effect IQ gain is on the visiospatial tests – or else all races are being subject to the same selective pressures which raise their IQs by a similar proportion, a proposition  which is on the outer edges of improbability.

Finally, here is a commonsense reason to disbelieve the nurturist argument. If it was possible to radically improve IQ by changing the environment or through training, as sure as eggs are eggs the rich would have long ago availed them of such knowledge to ensure that their children had high IQs.  The mass media and internet would be as full of adverts for IQ enhancement as for diets and cures for baldness. That this has not happened means there is no such magic IQ bullet or that at least no magic bullet which is known.

The primary evidence for some environmental influence is the fact that hose from  the same racial group tend to score less well on IQ tests if they come from a rural environment than those  from  urban environments, although that may be simply the consequence of inferior diet, healthcare  and generally harsher physical  conditions of life.

Personally I would be delighted if it could be shown that IQ is  entirely  or predominantly the result of nurture and could be enhanced through improving a person’s circumstances. Genetic engineering,  surgery  the use of cybernetics or  drugs  to enhance IQ is a another matter,  because they  would almost certainly produce populations with radically different IQ distributions. This could be dangerous.

A population with IQs genetically  or surgically enhanced to a high level – say, everyone  had  an  IQ  of  150 or better and  the  breadth  of  the  IQ distribution was between 150 and 200 – could carry the seeds of its own destruction.   After all who would do all the menial jobs? in a society in which everyone had a healthy IQ? Would  most people with such   high IQs even   are able to tolerate fewer menials but still relatively intellectually undemanding jobs such as technicians and junior white collar posts? A wide distribution of IQ is probably necessary for any human society to function.

Cybernetic  enhancement is less clear cut. It is possible to imagine a world in which people simply plugged into cybernetic intelligence boosters only where the person needed to perform higher. However, it is  unlikely that cybernetic use would be restricted to such modest and utilitarian  purposes. More probably, cybernetics would be used to permanently assist  mental  performance, not least because  an individual would have to lead a schizophrenic existence otherwise: bright in one part of their lives, not so bright in another.  A similar scenario would exist with drug enhancement.

4. What is measured by IQ Tests?

The general mental skills which IQ tests cover are the skills involved in   problem solving   which   rely   on    as    little    learned knowledge/behaviour as possible, the so-called culture free tests. These skills are those needed to deal with the unfamiliar, unfamiliar in both the sense of being pedantically novel and in the sense of  being absolutely novel.

Pedantic novelty is where a problem is truly novel, that is, it has never been  encountered before in this exact form but similar problems have been encountered. An example would be using a key you have never seen before to undo a lock you have never seen.

Absolute novelty is where the problem is something completely beyond the experience of the person. The individual has not encountered the exact problem in the pedantic sense of it being an identical problem and they have no similar experience from which they can extrapolate a rational solution to the problem they are encountering.  An example would be a Briton going on safari in Africa who has no experience of Africa and suddenly meeting a lion six feet away.

Modern IQ tests are designed as far as is possible to be absolutely novel. It is true that a person will encounter similar general types of problems if they take more than one supervised test or  rehearse  IQ questions.  But a general type of IQ problem does not provide a similarity sufficient to allow extrapolation to solve a particular problem of the type.   For example, in tackling IQ problems which involve spotting the odd shape or pattern in a sequence the solver knows what they have to do in terms of what result is required, namely, identify the odd man out, but that knowledge gives no hint as how they are to find the odd man out.

An IQ test is different from any other test, because every other type of test either permits subjective judgments or is deliberately knowledge dependent to a greater or lesser degree.   Even other psychometric tests seek the person’s opinion of their feelings or perception of some physical event, there being no right or wrong answers.  Exams dealing with specific subjects   allow candidates to score reasonably well without necessarily engaging in any high level intellectual activity – even someone taking a maths course can get a fair way simply by mastering functions which can be   applied mechanically (the more advanced the exam the less this tactic can be employed). An IQ test is different because ideally there is no knowledge  of inert facts, such as historical dates, speculation, matters of opinions or mechanical functions such as the rules of arithmetic which can be applied blindly.

Another way of looking at the demands of IQ tests  is to consider the long term effects of knowing both what a particular set of test   questions were and the correct answers to those questions. Suppose a group is first given an IQ test and afterwards provided with the correct answers, ostensibly to mark their own tests. They are allowed   ample time to study the answers but are not able to retain them in any written form.  Afterwards they are  told that they will  be called back for further tests in one year’s time.  When they are re-tested   the subjects are  asked to re-sit the IQ questions they first tackled a year before but without any indication that it was the same test.   Even if the subjects realised that they were taking the same test again, which not all would do,   it is improbable that many would be able to recall the answers from twelve months previously.  The only  way to answer correctly  with certainty would be re-solve the problems.

Those who claim that IQ tests only test how good people are at taking IQ tests are saying nothing useful, for any test of whatever nature on any subject by definition only  tests how good people are at taking the test.  The important question to answer  is whether what is tested is of value. IQ tests would appear to have value  because there is a strong correlation between IQ scores and life outcomes. This persistent correlation can be explained in two ways:  either it is merely the most colossal and continuing set of coincidences  or   IQ   tests are  measuring  abilities which  are  either  applicable  to  life in general or are abilities  which correlate strongly with other abilities which are generally applicable to human life .

5. Does an IQ test measure general intelligence?

Although IQ tests undoubtedly measure a wide range of mental ability and are valuable tools in predicting  whether someone is likely to be fitted for a particular job or academic course and are predictors of social outcomes.  But identifying useful  mental qualities is one thing, assuming that the qualities constitute the totality of intelligence  quite another. From early in the history intelligence testing psychologists have attempted to establish that the tests measure a quality of general intelligence  which they call “g” – the British psychologist Charles Spearman was the originator of the idea in the  early years of the twentieth century. The problem is that there is no absolute proof  that “g”  exists or that IQ tests measure it.  However, what IQ tests do plausibly measure is a general ability  which applies to a wide range of mental tasks for there is a strong tendency for individuals to perform similarly across the spectrum of tests which make up an IQ score, for example, a high IQ individual will score strongly on all IQ problems, although not with an exact evenness of performance.

But there is  an alternative explanation  for why individuals score similarly across the range of IQ tests. This  is that what is measured by such tests is a catalogue of different abilities, each  dependent on some structural quality of the brain, and that the normal development of the brain is such that each structure from which an ability derives develops in concert with all the other structures and, consequently,   the various abilities are kept roughly in step.  Put another way, a person with a high IQ scores highly across the range of tests because the brain can only develop in  a way which produces structures which are roughly equal in ability.

This is not quite as improbable an idea as it might seem at first glance because   normal organic development   displays  just such behaviour, for example, the growth of parts of an organism are normally proportionate to the individual organism’s size.  If this alternative explanation is correct, the practical effect of such a brain would be the same as a brain governed by some general principle of intelligence.  An analogy would be with computers which have programs designed  to  tackle  the  same  tasks  but  which  have    qualitative differences in power and scope. The case of idiots savants with high level specific abilities,  which in any other circumstances but those of the idiot savant  would be considered high IQ activities, could be accommodated within the hypothesis that intelligence is a conglomeration of separate abilities rather than being a single entity, for it could be that normal development is arrested in most areas and enhanced in  one or two. Indeed, high performing idiots savants provide a serious problem for those who wish to claim that “g” exists and the type of explanation offered by those in the field  – that the abilities of such idiots savants are talents  rather than intelligence – is scarcely convincing.

Against the idea of discrete abilities forming a suite of intellectual tools which give the impression of a single quality of intelligence is the fact that those with innate deformities and deficiencies of the brain  or damage to the brain utilise other parts of the brain to perform functions normally associated with  the deficient or damaged parts.

There is the further problem  for  the idea of ‘g’, namely, that there are clearly some forms of what would be considered high level intellectual activity which do not seem to fall into the obvious realm of IQ tested abilities, for example, literary talent, historical and sociological insight. It is true that those who excel in such fields will probably  have a healthy IQ, but it is not obvious how the abilities tested by IQ relate to the abilities displayed in such work. It might be thought that this is evidence for “g” and that performance in subjects such as history and sociology is simply an expression of “g”, that is, “g” is being tested by other means than an IQ test. The problem with that argument is that people with similar IQs, both in overall score and in the shape of the IQ, do not display equal facility  at intellectual tasks across the board and the difference in particular abilities cannot be put down to simply differences in upbringing or of temperament.

6. The intelligence of erudition

There is phenomenon which anyone who has gained a substantial knowledge of a subject may  recognise:  it is the point at which a qualitative change in  understanding appears to occur, where connections are effortlessly made between disparate pieces of data and a   general understanding of the whole emerges.   This is not a conscious process but an emergent property of the  accumulation of  information.  Is that IQ ability  driven?  It is clearly different from the type of ability  quantified from the exercises which comprise IQ tests, but equally it is not the simple application of  learned information to solve a problem.   Moreover, the phenomenon arises with all types of data. Einstein could not have developed his theories without his learned knowledge of the way the physical world worked both at the level of his personal experience and through absorbing the scientific discoveries, thoughts and mathematics made and developed by others. Similarly, the mechanic develops an “instinct” for what is wrong with an engine through the experience of tinkering with many engines.

Of course  the nature  of the intelligence of erudition  varies  from individual to individual, from the person who ends  up with  a mass of  data  and no clear overall  understanding of the data  (we all know people who display “a ghastly erudition”)  to the individual who clearly  sees not only  the wood from the trees but identifies  the important trees within the wood. Nonetheless, even the person who has no clear overall understanding of the data will generally have a better grasp of a subject than someone with a slight understanding,  no matter how intelligent that person should be.

There are interesting differences in the way this phenomenon develops and is sustained.   Mathematicians,   philosophers and physical   scientists frequently produce their best work when young,   after which they spend the rest of their lives trying to recapture their youthful intellectual zest.  Other intellectuals  such as historians and sociologists are notorious for producing their best  work when in middle age,   by which time they have ingested vast amounts of information  about both their subject and the way human beings behave generally, and have allowed whatever unconscious process occurs considerable time to organise, connect and elucidate what they have learned.   This suggests that erudition is  more useful in some areas than others, although it does not necessarily follow  that IQ  related ability is more important in subjects  such as maths and physics  than in history or  sociology – this would be so  even if it could shown that as a matter of contingent fact mathematicians and physicist  have higher average IQs than historians and sociologists (they probably do. It could be that once a certain  level of intellectual adequacy is reached people are drawn to subjects  by their personality rather than IQ related abilities.

To what degree is high ability in subjects such as history, sociology and literary criticism  IQ  ability  dependent? As mentioned above they do not obviously call on the qualities  measured by IQ tests. However, looked at more closely it is plain that these   disciplines rely on IQ dependent abilities such as the recognition of contradiction or the construction  of methods of quantifying social phenomena and, of course,  they  can involve the mastery of the indisputably high IQ subjects such as maths, physics or philosophy  where that is the subject matter to be studied within the context of another subject, for example, the  history of science or philosophy. But what do we make of  the ability of the historian to  concisely interpret a vast amount of data or the literary critic to see within a text echoes of other  writers and ideas?  Are those  abilities   IQ dependent in the same way as  understanding  a complicated  equation is IQ dependent?   There is a good case for saying that they are,  because what the   historian and the literary critic are doing is sifting material and assigning values  to it.  That is a form of pattern matching, although a very complex and diffuse one.

Let me take the cases of the chess players Garry Kasparov and the Polgar sisters to illustrate two aspects of the intelligence of erudition. Kasparov has an IQ of 135, good but not outstanding, yet he was able to become world champion at an activity considered exceptionally intellectually taxing. It was not solely or arguably predominantly IQ which made him world champion for there will almost certainly be many topclass chess players with substantially higher IQs. So how did he become world champion?  To become a  very high performing chess player requires not merely natural talent but the  building up of  a vast catalogue of games in one’s memory.  From that comes the emergent property of the intelligence of erudition to go with the IQ based abilities. Bearing in mind Kasparov’s relatively modest IQ and  the many higher IQ players he was competing with, plausibly it was the intelligence of erudition which was probably the prime determinant of his success.  Of course, other qualities not obviously IQ dependent come into play with high level chess such as courage and sheer physical stamina (I am assuming that the support staff and technology  available to any grandmaster will be much of a muchness) but understanding born of great familiarity with played chess games must have been by far the prime determinant.

The two Polgar sisters demonstrate another aspect of the intelligence of erudition. Their father set out from the early days to  deliberately produce two chess prodigies. He did this to substantiate his belief that particular abilities, including intellectual abilities could be instilled by training (shades of J B Watson).   He succeeded. The sisters both became grandmasters. That they did not become world chess champions  – an objection often made by those opposed to his ideas – is neither here nor there. The fact that he was able to take two babies and turn them into very high performing chess players – a very select band – is  persuasive evidence for the power of inducing intelligence in specific areas of expertise.  Of course, one cannot draw firm conclusions from a single instance such as the Polgars,  but it is food for thought when the question of intelligence is considered.

What happened with the Polgars is really no more than the age old trait of children following their parents into the same work or being put to an apprenticeship at an early age. Many societies have operated on the basis of  children following their parents’ occupations by law. Many of those occupations can plausibly be linked to IQ related abilities, especially visio-spatial ones, for example, those required of any craftsman. One could argue that genetic inheritance plays its part, but this is not  plausible where many generations are involved, both because the genetic inheritance of someone with an innate ability is diluted rapidly through the generations and also because presumably genetically related abilities generally suffer from reversion to the norm.

What would be interesting is a study of  how easy or difficult it is to induce the ability to undertake activities which would be considered IQ dependent. I have a  sneaking feeling that if those engaged in programmes designed to enhance IQ concentrated instead on programmes designed to enhance the intelligence of erudition  they would find it a more fruitful activity.

How valuable is  the intelligence of erudition  when compared with IQ related ability? Obviously, learned   ability  is fundamental to  all human societies, from the hunter-gatherer upwards. Most of what we  consciously do is guided by  our own  experience or the experience of others,   although of course knowledge is only valuable when it can be applied, whereas IQ related problem solving ability  in principle  can get you through  a very large number of possible  situations, both novel and familiar.    There is also a clear distinction between knowledge which can be applied  without  the need for any  external assistance and that which requires external assistance. For instance, knowing how to  use a calculator is useless without a calculator: knowing how to do mental arithmetic is a   skill always available.  But what of  really high level intellectual ability?  In its outcomes can erudition compete with innate IQ related  ability? Can someone without a startlingly high IQ make as profound a contribution  to intellectual  history as  those with such an IQ simply through intellectual application?  Step forward  Charles Darwin.

7. Did Darwin have a high IQ?

Charles Darwin is widely recognised as one of the most important intellectuals in history.  A strong case can be made for his theory of natural selection being the single most influential idea ever,  because not only did it profoundly change the intellectual relationship between man and his perception of his place in existence, its influence has stretched far beyond biology.  It might even be said to be of universal application because all natural repeatable events, circumstances and ongoing processes are subject to selection. Just as organisms compete to  survive so do inanimate objects and processes, whether natural or man-made.  A pebble  on the seashore made of granite will outlast one made of sandstone;   war machines will compete in  an arms race; ideas will clash and be selected or not according to their intellectual and emotional  power in a particular situation.   Today his idea  is applied increasingly  to design generally  using  computer programmes which mimic evolution  on projects  as diverse as  discovering the most efficient  phone network  and the design of new anti-bacterial drugs.

But Darwin’s importance goes far beyond a single idea. He contributed greatly to other parts of evolutionary theory including the descent of Man  and the development of emotions in Man and animals.   He was also a good guesser. Frequently  his hypotheses  were untestable in his own lifetime because the knowledge needed to test them were not available but have been given Further credence by later discoveries, for example, his belief that modern Man originated in Africa, an hypothesis which is widely accepted today because of DNA analysis. It is difficult to think of a man who has had a more profound intellectual effect on the world.

Darwin was obviously exceptionally intellectually capable in the sense that he produced very important work, but is there anything in his life and work which is suggestive of a genius level  IQ?  He did not show any noticeable aptitude for the traditionally high IQ subjects such as maths and philosophy, nor is his life before his voyage on the Beagle suggestive of any great intellectual power.  It is true that the young  Darwin  showed a strong interest in the natural world, both in biology  and geology, but this interest  was more that of a gentleman dilettante rather than of a serious scientist.

Even after returning from his voyage on the Beagle Darwin retained something of the gentleman dilettante, although he was very hardworking and persistent  in his interests. He spent more than twenty years toying with the idea of evolution through natural selection and engaging in other work which was largely a matter of observation. When he came  to publish his work on evolution he only did so because he is afraid that his ideas would  be trumped by the publication of Wallace’s very similar theory. (That he suddenly rushed  to publish gives the lie to the commonly retailed idea that he had withheld   publication for fear of a hostile   public   reception, especially from the devout.)   The most plausible explanation  for the delay is that Darwin simply did not have the motivation to make the intellectual effort to finish his great work until he was threatened with being trumped Wallace. It is only from that point onwards that Darwin   begins to produce the work for which he is chiefly  remembered today. He was no feverishly intelligent, intellectual  personality bursting to put his ideas before the public as soon as possible.

But although Darwin took a long time to get to the point of  publication,  he  undoubtedly  spent an immense amount of time and effort   assimilating information about the Natural world from his  teenage years onwards. By the time he  finished the Origin of Species  he had developed the intelligence of erudition to a very high degree.

Darwin’s working method was to create a mound of evidence on which he built sustained argument.  (Ironically, the critics of The Origin of Species frequently complained that he lacked powers of reasoning when in fact the book is one sustained immense argument).  The data he worked upon was not inherently difficult to master being primarily a question of observation by Darwin or others.   Anyone of normal intelligence could master it with sufficient application.   Where Darwin differs from the vast majority is in the tenacity with which he assimilated facts and the use he put the data   to after he had assimilated it.   What Darwin had was an  abnormally sustained concentration of thought .

So what are we to make of all this in the context of Darwin’s IQ? Obviously he had to have the mental wherewithal to  allow him to handle large amounts of data and construct coherent arguments from the data.  He needed to be able to see not only the wood for the trees but to see the important trees in the wood. The question is how he managed to accomplish such tasks.  Was it  primarily IQ related  ability or is it a consequence of learning? The material he dealt with suggests the latter, that he had the intelligence of erudition in spades.

Based on the content of Darwin’s work and his failure to display any  aptitude for indubitably high IQ subjects such as maths, there is no  reason to believe  he had a very high IQ. He needed an IQ high  enough  to  allow  him  to  undertake  the  tasks  of assimilating   essentially   simple information and engaging in a sophisticated analysis of it. Perhaps an IQ in the 110-120  range would have fitted the bill for those tasks.

8. Reason is not the primary driver of Man

Man, at least in his modern secular First World  form,  has the illusion of free will. That is unsurprising  because he  is a highly intelligent and self-conscious entity with a discrete personality and an ego and it is natural for such a being  to think that the choices they make are  free choices insofar as they act without overt constraints from  other people, their biology  or  brute circumstances.  In fact, free will is an illusion  not as a  consequence of  the constraints of human  biology or  the nature of the universe Man  inhabits but s a consequence of  the  fact that  the concept is a logical nonsense.

Imagine the most powerful entity  which can exist: the omnipotent, omniscient god. Such a being can not have free will because  it  must have a discrete intelligence which is conscious of its existence, in short a conscious mind.  Any  such  mind  will require  motivation otherwise it would never act, it must have desires, it must have what we would call a personality. Consequently, the omnipotent, omniscient god  would be in the same general existential position as a man, that is, bound by  its  own mentality.

Of course  Man is in  vastly more constrained  circumstances than the omnipotent, omniscient god. Human beings  live within the general constraints that applies to every other organism.  We copulate, eat, drink, and sleep, fight, respond to weariness perform our bodily functions in the same way  that an animal does, without any great thought. We feel desire or necessity and act on impulse.

Within our bodies a great system of checks and balances – repair mechanisms and the automatic systems needed for an organism to function – continue without our conscious control or even our awareness of the functions being accomplished.  Hormones and enzymes control not only essential functions but our emotions and desires.  Physical illness or wellness determines how we behave.

What we experience in our minds is a very different thing from what actually comes through our senses. All we can perceive is what our biology and experiential “programming” allows us to perceive.  We can only see or hear within certain  wavelengths of light and sound.  Our senses change in their efficacy throughout life. All external  stimuli are filtered through our brains and are the brain’s best guess at what has been perceived,  hence the ease with which we mistake things either through insufficient data (for example,  something seen in shadow) or through the brain matching sense data with something we already know, for example, when we see a man’s face in a cloud.

Our mental world is  subject to congenital differences which affect behaviour. These range from differences in mental capacity and special talents to brain defects and injuries. Someone born with Downs Syndrome, severe epilepsy or   autism perceives the world very differently to someone born without such conditions.   Their   capacity for rational behaviour is much reduced because their level   of understanding   is reduced.    The most severe example of   innate disablement of the rational are those people born without   the development of the frontal lobes, the acephaletic.  These unfortunate individuals occasionally survive and behave in a manner which seems to be entirely without conscious reason.

We also know from much experience that injuries to the brain or the effects of disease or ageing can have the same effect as innate abnormalities.   Those who suffer brain injuries   sometimes   develop behavioural traits which are completely different from what they had before.  They may become more violent or more subdued, lose their initiative or develop new talents or inclinations such as artistic impulses.   Frontal lobotomies subdue behaviour.  Age leads to declines in rationality ranging from loss of short term memory to full blown senile dementia.

In our brains   we store a myriad of   memories which act as both primers for action and the means to take action.  We see someone we do not like and respond with open hostility or caution.  We meet a situation which appears to be dangerous because we have previously met it or a situation which resembles a danger we have imagined and feel  fear and act accordingly. We see someone we love and act favourably towards them. Of course,  our memories do much more than provide immediate or particular behavioural responses for they  also shape our general character within the confines of the basic, genetically determined personality.

What constitutes a learned response?  Not a simple thing to define. Keeping your hand away from fire after you have been burnt is obviously such.  Going from A to B along a familiar route is another.  Putting a cake in an oven at a particular heat for a particular time a third.  But suppose I   master the philosophy of Kant.  If I explain his philosophy without commentary to someone that might reasonably be described as a learned response in the sense that I am merely regurgitating what I have learnt.  Yet it is also true that the act of comprehending Kant goes beyond mere memory and the effort of remembering what Kant’s philosophy is after it has first been learnt is a very different thing from recalling a piece of “inert data” such as the date of the Battle of Hastings.

Mental calculation is, of course,   more than prolonged self-conscious intellectual consideration.  It is what happens when someone calculates the distance to throw a ball or how to place pieces in a jigsaw or spontaneously comes up with a clever pun, as well as the sustained mental thought  which led Newton and Einstein to develop their physics or Aristotle his logic.

Somewhere in between lies the great mass of considered utilitarian mental   calculation such as computer programming and applied  mathematical   computation and the everyday    ability   to   see contradictions and connections   and to generally engage in   logical reasoning.

We function as organisms at various levels.  We do some things without conscious thought: we breathe, produce hormones and enzymes, and circulate the blood, digest food and so on.  Our biology produces basic states of mind such as hunger, fear and sexual desire over which we have little control although we are conscious of the states of mind.  Then come conscious choices which are designed to give us pleasure or at least satisfaction; we decide on an activity which we know will produce pleasant sensations or avoid unpleasant ones.   Finally, we have rational thought designed to solve particular problems.

Man, or at least Man in advanced modern societies,  flatters himself that he is a rational being whose behaviour is the consequence of consideration. (Even without free will, a self-conscious being could still operate rationally within  the confines of  its existential circumstances).   In fact, most human behaviour is not rational in the sense of being self-consciously decided after having weighed the pros and cons of what to do or of trusting what we perceive to  be  the  rational  decisions of  others,  whether  by  engaging  in self-decided emulation or through the suggestion or order of another.

Most of what we do falls into three classes of behaviour:  the repetition  of rational behaviour which has   previously   proven successful, or at least not harmful, what our biology tells us to do, for example to drink, or as an unconsidered response which is a consequence of whatever constitutes an individual’s basic personality, for example, traits such as timidity, aggression, affection.  Even when we self-consciously decide on future action,  our  decisions are  mediated by our  knowledge of what has happened before, our biology and our  personality traits,  both innate and developed.

Men are frequently faced with conscious decisions which they are unable to decide rationally because they lack the knowledge or intellect to do so. Sometimes they fail to make a decision because of fear. In all these circumstances the individual does one of three things: (1) he makes a decision simply to make a decision, (2) he follows the herd or (3) he allows himself to be manipulated by another individual.

Most of this (to various degrees)  automated behaviour is at worst harmless and at best positively desirable – it would be an impossible world if we had to seriously  consider every deliberate action before acting, not least because it would be utterly exhausting.  But it can be damaging.  Even when acting self consciously, humans are quite frequently  in the grip of  ideas which are in themselves objectively   wrong or at least has no certain truth. Moreover, those afflicted with such ideas often  know at some level their  beliefs are suspect – the reason that believers in religions or secular ideologies are generally very keen on suppressing any questioning of their beliefs is  because they know in their heart of hearts that they will not stand up to questioning. Yet men adhere to such ideas and act upon them   even though their reason tells them that they are questionable or even plain wrong because they are emotionally satisfying in themselves or they are group values from which the individual gets emotional satisfaction from sharing in the group experience.

Alternatively, group pressure may produce a state of mind whereby the individual does not actually believe something but is conditioned not to question it because at some level the mind has marked such questioning as dangerous or inappropriate.  In our own time political correctness produces such feelings in many.

Where a set of ideas form an ideology the effect is particularly pernicious, both because of the multiplication of error and because the tendency to adopt a religious attitude towards the ideas is heightened, for to deny one part of the ideology is to question its general veracity.  (By an ideology I mean a mental construct which consists of a menu of tenets  which the adherent applies without regard to their  utility or truth). The  observance of the ideology becomes an end in itself.  All ideologies are inadequate to a lesser or greater extent,  because they are menus of  ideas which are (1) incompatible and/or (2) based on premises which are objectively false or at least  debatable.

An example of (1) is the attitude of libertarians to immigration. On the one hand they complain of the illiberal consequences of mass immigration – political correctness, laws which discriminate against the majority, restrictions on free speech and so on  – on the other they advocate an   open border immigration policy.  The two policies   are self-evidently incompatible.

An example of (2) is Marxism, whose claims of objective truth were routinely and consistently demolished by reality, the consequences of which were ever more fanciful revisions of Marxist theory to fit the evolving non-Marxist world.

9. Sociological  Constraints

Man is constrained by sociological laws  of which  he is only dimly aware.  When a general election is held in Britain  Members of Parliament are elected  for one of  646 constituencies  on the very simple basis of  who gets the most votes in the constituency.  There is no multiple preference voting, just a single vote for one candidate. As a platform for the study of human behaviour it is splendidly uncluttered.

Because  people are voting for an individual  it might be thought that  the voting pattern throughout the country would vary tremendously because  people would be  voting on  the record of the government and opposition in the  previous four or five years, the  parties’ stated policies if they form the next government,  local  interests, how the sitting  MP has performed and  the perceived quality of the other candidates in the constituency.  In fact the voting pattern is  always remarkably uniform throughout the country. If the swing from the  Government is on average 5% throughout the country, there will be few if any constituencies  which show  a swing of less than 4% or more than 6%. This uniformity  does not  vary greatly  with the size of turnout.

It is impossible to supply any plausible explanation for this behaviour  based on the idea that Man is rational. One could see how a small population might be influenced by peer pressure and word of mouth but not a country of sixty million.  Nor is it  the consequence of  modern mass media because the phenomenon  predated television and the Internet.  If I had to hazard an explanation it would be this:  different personality types  are distributed throughout populations in certain proportions as the consequence of natural selection working to ensure that human society functions. Each  personality type will tend to behave in the same way. Hence, the aggregate  societal effect in response to a particular stimulus  will  be relatively stable. When people vote in a General Election  they produce  similar voting effects because  the personality types are distributed similarly throughout Britain and consequently people  throughout the country respond to circumstances in a similar fashion.   In other words, personality traits trump reason.

A less obvious example is the trade cycle. There is no certain explanation for why such a cycle should exist, but it  is  possible  to provide  plausible explanations  for the  ebb and flow of  economic activity, for example,  that there comes  a point in the trade cycle whereby  most individuals have purchased everything they want within the constraints of what they can afford and  consumption lessens  which in turn reduces economic activity which creates a further  impetus to reduced consumption as people worry about the future. Equally, it is plausible that when the down side of  the cycle  has gone on for a while demand increases because goods need  replacing and as consumption slowly grows confidence increases triggering further growth.

What is not so easy to provide  is a plausible explanation of why the population acts  uniformly enough to regularly create such a cycle. How could it be that  the large majority of  a population routinely respond in the same way? The answer again  probably lies in a stable distribution of  personality within a population.

What evidence is there for personality being so distributed throughout a population? Well, from our own everyday experience we all know that there is a range of personality types who are met in  any reasonable large group, but quantifying such knowledge in an objective manner is  to say the least problematical.  Whether we have any  “objective” statistical evidence  at present largely depends how much credence is placed on psychometric tests  which supposedly determine personality.  Having seen them used to select people for employment I  am  sceptical of their  predictive power,  because all too often their assessment of personality  fails to match the person‘s performance. More trustworthy although less focused is the information from psychological experiments. Many psychological experiments  show personality differences obliquely, for example, the famous experiments of Abrahams  in the 1950s on peer pressure  and  The Stamford prison experiment of the early 1970s.    They showed  recurrent  patterns of  obedience and disobedience and  of a willingness to abuse and  to accept or resist abuse.

10. How primitive is primitive?

If the current estimates of hominid evolution are correct, the variety classified as modern Man has a surprisingly short geological history, the upper estimates being a paltry 200,000 years.  Nor is that history a simple progression.   The remains of the older examples of modern Man normally have more ancient features than the younger examples, but occasionally younger remains displaying ancient features are found. This  is  a more significant fact than it might seem because fossils of Man are very rare  and hence it is telling that even a few should show ancient features at the “wrong date” for it suggests that the more archaic forms of Man might not only have lasted a long time but in substantial numbers.

How little is still  known about human evolution is illustrated by  the recent discovery of  remains  by the Koobi Fora Research Project   in the  Ileret region, east of Lake Turkana. in Northern Kenya  which appeared in Nature magazine. (nature.com/nature/journal/v448/n7154/abs/nature05986.html) These suggest that  Homo habilis and  Homo erectus  co-existed for half a million years. The significance of this is that it makes the generally accepted descent of Man from Homo habilis to  Homo  erectus to  Homo sapiens improbable, vis:

‘”Their co-existence makes it unlikely that Homo erectus evolved from Homo habilis”, explained Meave Leakey….”

The fact that they stayed separate as individual species for a long time suggests that they had their own ecological niche, thus avoiding direct competition,” she added. ’Fossils put new branch on human family tree Daily Telegraph   09/08/2007.

There is truly no point in the past at which it can be said here is the origin of modern Man. Darwin put the case nicely before there was any significant hominid fossil record: “Whether primeval man, when he possessed but few arts, and those of the rudest kind, and when his power of language was extremely imperfect, would have deserved to be called man, must depend on the definition we employ. In a series of forms graduating insensibly from some ape-like creature to man as he now exists, it would be impossible to fix on any definite point when the term ‘man’ ought to be used.  But this is a matter of very little importance. So again, it is almost a matter of indifference whether the so-called races of man are thus designated, or are ranked as species or sub species; but the latter term appears the more appropriate.”  (Descent of Man – chapter The Races of Man).

At what point can  Man be said to be acting in a qualitatively different  way from other animals?  Here is Darwin once more:   “I have seen, as I dare say   have others,   that when a small object is thrown beyond the reach of one of the elephants in the Zoological  Gardens, he blows through his trunk on the ground   beyond the object so that the current reflected  on all sides may drive the object within his reach. Again a well known ethnologist, Mr Estoppels,  informs me that he observed a bear in Vienna making with his paw a current in some water as to  draw a piece of floating bread within reach.  These actions of the elephant and bear can hardly be attributed to instinct or inherited habit, as they would be of little use to an animal of nature.  Now, what is the difference between such actions? when performed by an uncultivated man, and by one of the higher animals?” (Darwin: The Descent of Man – chapter Mental Powers.)

Darwin concluded that there was little difference in the general approach of the higher animal and man in his primitive state, although he allowed that “There would no doubt be this difference between  him [the savage] and one of the higher animals, that he would take more notice of much slighter circumstances   and conditions, and would observe  any connections between them after much less experience, and this would be of paramount importance.  I kept a daily record of the actions of one of my infants, and when he was about eleven months old, and before he could speak a single word, I was continually struck with the greater quickness, with which all sorts of objects and sounds were associated together in his mind, compared with the most intelligent dogs I knew.  But the higher animals differ in exactly the same way in this power of association from those low in the scale, such as the pike, as well as drawing inferences and of observation.” (ibid)

If Darwin is right – and there is as so often with him, plausibility in his reasoning – it  might seem  reasonable to classify human beings by behaviour, they only being accepted as full members of homo sapiens when they have reached the point where their behaviour is clearly qualitatively different from that of animals.   Obviously such a  judgement would  be extraordinarily contentious because of its social and   political ramifications, but  stripped of that difficulty could criteria be formulated which would be definitive?  It would not be simple.  For example,   a reasonable criterion might seem to be  to pose the question does  this or that population of Homo Sapiens   go  beyond the fundamental behavioural imperatives of other animals which are to obtain food,  breed and raise young?  The difficulty with that approach is that it is possible to  explain all human behaviour in such terms, that is, all human behaviour ultimately serves such ends: a  man does something which displays exceptional ability: he is enhancing his  biological fitness by advertising his desirability as a mate: a  woman shows an abnormal facility for  handling children: she demonstrates her desirability as a mate and so on.

The old favourite for defining humanity, tool use,  will not get us far. Animals use tools.  It is not even possible at the most primitive observed human level to  point to a  large  library  of  tools  or artefacts let alone tools and artefacts of any great sophistication – the Tasmanians (indubitably part of the modern model of humanity at the physical level) at the time they encountered Europeans were reckoned to have a minute number of tools, viz: “So far as we can ascertain, their entire tool-kit at the end of their history consisted of a mere eighteen items – digging sticks, some very basic  stone implements, spears, grass rope, baskets, hides (from which to ambush prey) and traps (for birds). In short, a list that is not so different in size or content from the accredited list of tools for modern chimpanzees. If we make allowances for qualitative differences in the toolkits   of chimpanzees and those produced by modern humans, there are really only two things in the Tasmanians’ toolkit that the chimpanzees do not have   – containers for carrying things (such as baskets and gourds) and structures (things like hides and traps).” Robin Dunbar The Human Story p150.

It  might  seem obvious  that all tools and artefacts are the  consequence   of  human  imagination,  yet  how  far   they   are independently  imagined  and  how far the  simple  consequence  of  the observation of accidental behaviour and its translation into  something more  permanent  and  sophisticated is a moot  point, not merely in the world of the hunter-gatherer but in pre-industrial  societies generally. Some  troops  of chimpanzees will use sticks to get termites out of a termite hill. This behaviour presumably originated because an animal in the  band  was poking  a termite hill with a stick – a  perfectly natural activity  for chimps  which are very curious animals – and noticed that termites  ran up  the  stick and the animal  continued to use the trick which  in  turn  was copied by other members of the band. (That this behaviour is not innate is  shown  by  the  fact that different chimpanzee  populations   vary  in  their behaviour  in  this and other instances of tool  using  or  exceptional behaviour,  that is,  some  do it, some do  not  and  different  chimp populations   will  use  variants  of  the  same  tactic).  It  is  not unreasonable  to suppose that most early  human advances were  made  in much this way, the observation of the accidental consequences of  behaviour followed by their imitation.  Is  the creation of tools and artefacts in such a manner really imaginative or is it simply a function of  memory. The organism does something and remembers the consequences of doing  it and  associates cause and effect.

If not tools what about the production of artefacts (defining artefact as a physical object deliberately produced  by  an  organism by radically altering its components’ natural state)? Failed again I’m afraid  – think birds’ nests and otters’ dams.

What about behaviour which seems to go beyond mere immediate utility?, For example, do not  all modern humans perform rituals to appease or conjure gods or spirits or at least engage in behaviour we define as magic to alter the world?  Probably, although the sophistication of such ideas vary greatly from society to society.  But where is the dividing line between behaviour which is repeated and self-conscious ritual?  After all many animals display behaviour which might well be described as rituals if they were seen in Man.   Nor  is such behaviour  limited to the obvious realm of courtship, for example, chimpanzees  ‘perform “rain dances” to the accompaniment of thunder and lightning during tropical storms, and one of their most outlandish performances  is the “carnival,”   when as many as thirty individuals come together for a period of fantastic noisemaking which may last several hours.’ (The emergence of Man John E Pfeiffer p 276).

It might seem that the system of complicated signalling we call language is qualitatively different from anything an animal does, but even here the distinction is not absolute because animals use sound to communicate specific messages, for example, threat calls,   warning calls, courting calls. Human language obviously goes far  beyond that in terms of its scope,  but is there a qualitative difference in the basic function performed by the use of animal vocalisation? It is difficult to see human language as fundamentally different in terms of basic function, although the range of information transmitted is massively greater and more varied.

Nor is all human language equal in its functionality. Consider the case of the Piraha, an Amazonian tribe with several hundred members.   They have been in contact with Brazilian culture for two centuries or more, yet they display some very odd traits one of which is to have no sense of number? An American linguistic anthropologist Daniel Everett has studied them from 27 years.  Apart from their innumeracy, Everett reports that “the Piraha is the only people known to have no distinct words for colours. They have no written language, and no collective memory going back more than two generations.  They don’t sleep for more than two hours at a time during the night or day. Even when food is available, they frequently starve themselves and their children…    They communicate almost as much by singing, whistling and humming as by normal speech. They frequently change their names, because they believe spirits regularly take them over and intrinsically change who they are. They do not believe that outsiders understand their language even after they have just carried on conversations with them. They have no creation myths tell no fictional stories and have no art. All of their pronouns appear to be borrowed from a neighbouring    language.” (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/ArticleNews/TPStory/LA C/200408 20 NUMBERS20/TPScience/ – Friday, August 20, 2004)

The Piraha’s innumeracy is particularly interesting.  ‘Their lack of numbering terms and skills is highlighted in a report by Columbia University cognitive psychologist Peter Gordon that appears today in Science.    Intrigued by anecdotal reports that Prof.  Everett and his wife Karen had presented about the matchlessness of Piraha life, Prof. Gordon conducted a number of experiments over a three-year period.   He found that a group of male tribe members — women and children were not involved because of certain cultural taboos — could not perform the most elementary mathematical operations.    When faced with a line of batteries and asked to duplicate the number they saw, the men could not get beyond two or three before starting to make mistakes.    They had difficulty drawing straight lines to copy a number of lines they were presented with.  They couldn’t remember which of two boxes had more or less fish symbols on it, even when they were about to be rewarded for their knowledge.    A significant part of the difficulty related to their number-impoverished vocabulary.    Although they would say one word to   indicate a single thing and another for two things, those words didn’t necessarily mean one or two in any usual sense.  “It is more like ones and twos,” ‘  according to Gordon.

‘Prof. Gordon said the findings are perhaps the strongest evidence for a once largely discredited linguistic theory.   More than 60 years ago, amateur linguist Benjamin Lee Whorf argued that learning a specific language determined the nature and content of how you think.    That theory fell into intellectual disrepute after linguist Noam Chomsky’s notions of a universal human grammar and Harvard University professor Steven Pincer’s idea of a universal language instinct became widely accepted.    “The question is, is there any case where not having words for something doesn’t allow you to think about it?” Prof.  Gordon asked about the Piraha and the Whorfian thesis. “I think this is a case for  just that.”     Prof.   Everett argues that what the Piraha casedemonstrates is a fundamental cultural principle working itself out in language and behaviour.’ (Ibid)

If the Whorfian theory is correct, or at least describes a quality which profoundly affects the way the world is perceived, other  behavioural divisions  between  the various populations of  Man  must  exist.  (The ideas of a universal grammar and a universal language instinct are  not necessarily  incompatible  with  the idea that  a  particular  language determines thought for there could be a basic language template that is then  altered by experience.  Moreover, it is conceivable that  natural selection  creates  subtle  brain differences  between  populations  to accommodate differences in language).   To any  Whorfian differences in populations  may be added the vast differences in cultural  expression, some  of which could be laid at the door of linguistic  determinism  of thought.

That leaves us with culture. Here Man does indeed seem to stand alone. He  undoubtedly  creates culture in a way that no other organism does, both in terms of the depth and the variety of  the cultures created. A case can be made for some animals, for example, chimpanzees, having a capacity for culture, but  at best their  cultural activities  such as termite  fishing are very rudimentary  and few in number.  Most importantly, Man uses culture to distinguish between  different populations of humans, even if  the populations are biologically similar.

11. Speciation by culture

If the argument  for Man’s special place in Nature is moved to  the ground of culture,  Man’s position as an organism with unique qualities which differentiate him from all other organisms  undoubtedly becomes  stronger,  but at the cost of  threatening  his  position as a species as traditionally defined.

Objections have been raised to the conclusions  of  Everett and Gordon,  primarily  in terms of  their interpretation of  their observations,  but  assuming there is a fair degree of  objective truth about their data, it is reasonable to ask are the Pirana   teetering on the edge of what counts as fully human if behaviour is the defining  criterion? It is  the wrong question to ask. The  right question to ask is can  homo sapiens be meaningfully designated a species as a species is defined for every other organism?

Because Man is differentiated profoundly by culture, the widely accepted definition  of a species – a population of freely interbreeding organisms sharing a common gene pool -   is  unsatisfactory,  for  clearly Man is  more  than  an  animal  responding   to   simple  biological   triggers.  When   behavioural differences  are perceived as belonging to a particular group  by  that group  as differentiating  members of the group from other  men,    they perform the same role as  organic differences for  they divide Man  into cultural species.

It  is worth adding that the traditional concept of a species is far from secure. It is a man-made classification which is often found wanting. For example,  the North American Ruddy Duck and the  European  White-Headed Duck are classified as separate species.  The introduction of the Ruddy Duck  to  Europe has resulted in widespread interbreeding  between  the supposedly  separate  species to the extent that  conservationists  now fear for the survival of the White Headed Duck.  It is also true that a growing  amount  of   traditional  taxonomic  classification  is  being overturned by DNA analysis.

Another  interesting  trait  is that  members of a  species  will  have different  breeding  propensities  across its  distribution,  that  is, members of the supposedly single species will breed differentially with different parts of the total species population.  For example,  take an animal  which is common to Europe and bring individuals from  different geographical parts of the continent together and it may be that those found in the  East of  the distribution  will be less likely or refuse altogether to  mate with the those in the West.  These barriers to breeding are clearly not purely due to major differences in physical biology. Probably there is an element of behavioural difference which reduces the propensity to breed.

Animals use various triggers to breed: aural, chemical, condition of feathers  and so on. These are seemingly automatic processes whereby one individual responds to another without conscious thought. Even behavioural triggers such as mating rituals can be viewed in the same light. Man, although not divorced entirely from  such triggers, adds conscious thought to the process of mate selection. Does that not put Man in an entirely separate category to all other organisms, namely,  the one organism who can potentially breed freely across the entire species population?  Potentially yes, but in practice no for Man’s capacity for conscious thought and decision making does not mean  his breeding is not constrained by the triggers which control other organisms, especially behavioural. For example, most people choose mates who are of the same race as themselves even when they have ample opportunity  to do otherwise.

Even at the level of biology I wonder if Man is quite as  discrete as he imagines.  To the best of my  knowledge no  one  has  tried to create a cross between a human and  a  chimpanzee  or a bonobo  -  I sincerely hope no one ever does.  But  putting  aside  any natural  revulsion,  would  it be so surprising if  such  a  cross  was possible?  Would  it be any more of a intra-species leap than  say  the production  of  a mule or a liger (lion/tiger) through  the  mating  of different species?  I would not wish to bet against it.

As  for the future,  genetic engineering may break  down  distinctions between  species,  for  example,  by   genes  from  one  species  being implanted into another.  Lastly,  genetics and/or cybernetics may  lead to  modifications of human beings so substantial to create what are  to all  intents and purposes unambiguously separate  species of Man with vastly differing abilities. There may come a point where the concept of a species becomes redundant.

12. Race and Man

The most potent of human behavioural triggers are racial differences for they exercise the strongest control over the group in a territory where different racial groups exist. Race trumps ethnicity where the ethnic clash is one of people of the same race but different ethnicities.  Place a significant population of a different race into a territory where ethnicity rather than race is the cause of unrest and the ethnic factions of the same race will tend to unite against those of a different race.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Or,  more likely, did they say that race didn’t matter  because they wanted to come across  especially  to potential mates of their own race as open-minded?” In short, around 99% of all the women and 94%  of all men in the sample were  not  willing  to  seek a  date of a  different  race.   How  much stronger  will  be  the tendency to refuse to breed with a  mate  of  a different race?

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

The experience of imperial Rome nicely demonstrates   racial exclusiveness  as a historical phenomenon.  Despite the racially  mixed population,  all the evidence we have suggests that  Romans  of  higher  social status (the only Romans we have any substantial knowledge of  as individuals) rarely took  non-white mates  (the  same  applies today:  in white-majority countries the higher the status of whites,  the less likely they  are  to have a non-white partner.)  Even the Bible has the story of Moses choosing a black wife and meeting with resistance on the part of his people. (Numbers chapter 12)

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

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

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

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

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

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

What about genetic diversity the reader may be asking themselves,  should  not the great benefits of that drive people  of different races to mate whenever they can?  This  widespread view is unsurprising because as far as the  layman is concerned one of the great “truths”  of modern biology is that diversity is good because genetic diversity within a species reputably  protects the species from the  effects  of harmful  recessive  genes by reducing  the  chance  of both  partners  in a successful mating  having a  particular  recessive gene, while  general organic  diversity in an environment is  supposed  to ensure  the stability and endurance of  the environment.

One does not need to have any deep grasp of genetics to see there is  a logical  problem  with  the  idea that  genetic  diversity  within  a species is a  sine qua non of evolutionary success. The genetic relatedness  of   breeding pairs in many species must  of  necessity be  close because the opportunities  to  breed  are limited.  In the case of Homo Sapiens this has been true of most  human beings  throughout history.  Man in his primitive state lived in  small nomadic bands  which were sparsely spread across the landscape Tribal peoples   commonly  exchange members (normally women)  between  tribes, but  again that is a local exchange.   Even in more advanced  societies most  people  have lived in small settled communities and  have   mated  with people who come from the same locality. Very closely  related human beings are substantially  more prone to genetic disaster if they mate, but the level of genetic diversity required to reduce the number of genetic disasters to a level in which they are not seriously harmful to the group is clearly not vast.

A small gene pool may even have advantages. Ashkenazi Jews  come from what was originally a  small  population group (some estimates put it as low as 500)  which married almost entirely within the group and continued to do so down the generations. They have an abnormally high average  IQ    -  six times as many Ashkenazim as Europeans have IQs of 140+. In June  2005 the Journal of Biosocial Science carried a paper by a team at the  University of  Utah which put forward the theory that their exceptionally  high average IQ exists   because  of  natural selection. They argued that Ashkenazi  Jews had   had been selected them for high IQ because  historically Jews in Europe were denied  many opportunities for employment  and they were driven into high IQ occupations such as  banking. Rushton Revisted http://www.canada.com/ottawa/ottawacitizen/news/story.html?id=6c9fe76b-f1

That racial type should be a requirement for inclusion within a “tribe” is unsurprising.  All social animals have to have boundaries  to  know where the group begins and ends.  This is  because a social animal must operate  within a hierarchy and a hierarchy can only exist where  there are  boundaries.   No boundaries,  no hierarchy, because  no  individual could  ever  know what the dominance/submission situation  was  within their species or at least within those members of the species with whom they interact.

Where  does  “must operate within a hierarchy”  come  from?  First  the observed facts:  all social animals do produce hierarchies -  although these  vary  considerably  in form – and  human beings  always  produce hierarchies,  whether they are hunter-gatherers  or people populating a great modern  city.

Why do social animals always form hierarchies?  For animals other  than Man  the answer is I think simple enough: only by forming  hierarchies can social groups cohere.   This is most probably because animals  vary considerably  in  their  physical and mental  qualities.  Observe   any animal,  even  the  simplest  single cell  organism,  and   differences between individuals within the species will become apparent.  Some  are more vigorous than others,  some larger, some,  more adventurous and so on. Individuals will also vary by age and, in sexually reproducing species,  sex.

In a solitary animal the practical consequences of differences  between individuals will be decided by  direct  competition,  most commonly  by the  formation of territories and the attempted monopoly of  mates  and food  within the territory,  with the best endowed animals  on  average being more successful.

When an animal is social, differences in individual  quality have to  be resolved  by something other than the methods used by solitary  animals such  as  scent marking of territory boundaries  and  serious  fighting because the animals have to live in close proximity.   Competition  for desirable goods still occurs, most notably  competition for mates,  but normally  within behaviours  which   are  not fatal to other members  of  the  group  or behaviours which are so disruptive as to threaten the survival   of the group.  The  upshot of this social accommodation is  the  formation  of different social  niches into which individuals fit.

Group behaviour is a compromise between the immediate advantage of  the individual   and the diffuse advantages derived from   group  activity. The  compromise is given structure  by hierarchies,  whether that be  a fixed  biological distinction by sex or caste (for example,  social bees)  or  a transient  one due to the age of an animal.   Hierarchies are built  on the differences between individuals and the more rigid the hierarchical structure  the  greater  will be the  selective  pressures  to  produce individuals in the right  proportions to fill the various social niches within the group.

Consider what would happen if hierarchies  did not exist.   There would be constant conflict within the group because  no individual would have cause  to defer to another except from fear of physical harm  and  such fear is a blunt and very limited instrument of social control,  whether it  be  of  humans or animals.  It is a strategy  more  suited  to  the solitary animal than the social one.

Hierarchies  also  make  sense in terms of the  development  of  social animals.  Social  animals  are ultimately descended  from asocial animals.   The movement from asocial to  social animal  is  presumably  akin to the  evolutionary   process  whereby  a parasite  is  converted  to a symbiotic partner.  It is  a  process  of gradual behavioural accommodation.

Social  animals on the bottom rung of the social animal  ladder may  do little more than associate together at certain times.  The next rung up and the animal frequently associates with others of its kind.  One more step and the animal forms more or less permanent groupings.  And so  on until we reach the ultimate social animal: Man.

The  gradual evolution of social behaviour of itself points to the need for  hierarchy,  because  at each stage of the  evolution   the  natural overtly  selfish  behaviour of the original solitary animal has  to  be modified.  That modification will only come through  natural  selection working   on   behavioural   traits   which   favour    more   complete socialisation.

What about human beings? Are they not capable of breaking the biological bounds which capture animals?  Does not their  immense intelligence and possession of language place them  in another category of being?  Could Man  not simply decide not to behave in a non-hierarchical manner?  The fact  that  human beings have  never done so  is of  itself  sufficient evidence  for  all but the most ideologically  committed  nurturist  to decide that human beings  cannot do it and to conclude  that the forming of hierarchies is part of the human template.  However, to that fact can be added another, the dominance/submission behaviour which every person witnesses daily not merely in positions of formal dominance and subordination such as the workplace,  but in every aspect of social life.

13 An analogy with computers

In assessing what Man is, an analogy with computers can be made. As hardware,  a particular model of  computer is  practically identical to every other computer which  is classified  as  the same model.  But the  software available to every computer of the same model is not identical.   They may run  different operating systems, either completely different or different versions of the same program. The software which runs under the operating system is different  with different versions of the same program being used.  The data which is input to the computer varies and this in turn affects the capabilities of the computer.

It  clearly makes no sense to say every computer of the same  model  is the same even if the computer is loaded with the same software.   But of  course  not  all  computers  are  of  the  same  model.  They  vary tremendously  in  their  power.  The same software  will  run  at  very different  rates  because of this.  Storage and memory size  also  vary tremendously. Some computers cannot run programmes because the programmes  are too large.   We  may call all computers computers ,  but that is to say little more  than that  all  animals are animals,  for  computers  range  from  the immensely  powerful super computers – the homo sapiens  of  the computer  world  as it were – to the amoeba of the  simple  chip  which controls  lights  being put on or off in a room  depending  on whether someone is in it.

Are the circumstances of computers  not akin to those of  Man?  Do  not the racially based  differences in IQ correspond to the differences  in power  of  older  and  newer computers?  Do not different  languages  represent different operating systems? For example, think how different must be the mentality of  a native Chinese speaker (using  a language which  is entirely  monosyllabic)  to that of a native English speaker  (using  a polysyllabic language) simply because of the profound difference in the structure  of the language. A language will not merely impose limits on what  may  be  expressed it will effect the  entire  mentality  of  the individual,  from aesthetic appreciation to  social expression. Is not the experiential input analogous to the holding of different data?

14. The more primitive the society the less it relies on high IQ related skills

The  evidence  of  palaeontology (the  scarcity  of  hominid  remains), of archaeology  (the absence of evidence of  large scale human  settlement anywhere before about 7,000 BC),  of  anthropology (studies of extant  hunter  gatherers), extrapolations  from  non-human  primate behaviour and the practical implications of being a  very large  animal, (within the top 5 per cent of land animals by size.)  make it certain that  Man’s  roots lie in small groups  of hunter  gatherers. Man’s  natural group “in the wild”  is that of the small band of  perhaps  25-100 people.

Hunter  gatherer  societies are based primarily on knowledge not reasoning. To survive the individual members have to know a great deal about the world about them but they are not often called upon to solve absolutely novel problems.  They live in a world which remains  broadly stable.  Once  something  is learned it will  normally  remain  useful throughout  an  individual’s life, for example, the behaviour  of  an animal species will remain the same in its general aspects.  That  is not  to say life in  such societies is undemanding – as Stephen  Pinker puts it in his “How the mind works”,  being a hunter gatherer is akin to enduring a lifelong camping trip without mod cons or rescue services  – but the demands made are different from those arising from other  forms of human society.

Survival  in  such circumstances requires a detailed  knowledge  of   the animals  and  plants  in the habitat -  their  appearance,   behaviour, locale  and uses,  including the medicinal and the usefully toxic  such as    curare.   Close familiarity with the terrain within  the  group’s range  is a must,  as is a  knowledge of the weather and  the  seasons. To be an efficient member of the group the male hunter-gatherer   will need to learn to stalk game and have the courage and ferocity to deal with dangerous animals and other hostile groups of humans.  To aid direction finding,  some knowledge of the  stars will probably be acquired.

That is just the start. The hunter-gatherer will also need a number of manual skills ranging from those needed for hunting -  spear throwing, arrow shooting, trap setting, the making of fire and so on  – and for the manufacture of all artefacts which cannot be found in nature  – clothes, bows and arrows, spears, fish-hooks,  baskets and suchlike.

The  female members of the tribe,  in addition to needing many  of  the skills  required  of  the men,   will have to deal  with  the  problems arising from  childbirth and maternal care.

To be fully integrated into his group the  hunter-gatherer will need a deep  knowledge of the  accumulated  customs, ceremonies  and beliefs of his tribe or band and also  a knowledge of other neighbouring  groups  to  be  able to participate in the  resolution  of  inter-tribe disputes within the confines of the belief system of the tribe.

This  might seem a tremendously demanding  catalogue of learning, but  it  is not  onerous  in  reality  because the information  and expertise is acquired over a long  time and  under  the most propitious circumstances.  The child learns in the easiest way  by  directly  observing how others do it and by tuition which   is  either one-to-one  or  given  in  a   small  group.

Nor  is  the  required knowledge very intellectually demanding. It is almost all concrete information. Even  knowledge of the  group’s myths can be no more than the  acquiring of concrete data  because the myths  can be treated as  a set of narrative  stories which  are  simply passed down from generation  to  generation  without causing intellectual enquiry. Indeed,  questioning of the myths will almost  certainly  be  seen as mortally dangerous and be discouraged  by severe punishment  because it will be deemed to risk angering either a god  or  gods or  cause some other form of cosmic disturbance  such  as creating bad karma.

Of course,  building up such a suite of skills and knowledge means that an  individual has, or a group of people have, at some point  originated the  acquisition of the various skills and elements of  knowledge,  but the  large  majority of those skills and knowledge  can  plausibly  be ascribed  to  the  normal process of  finding  solutions  to  immediate problems raised by the environment rather than to individuals  looking beyond the obvious. It is the difference between devising a simple trap to  catch  an animal based on observation of the animal’s  behaviour  – which  gives  the basic information  needed to devise the  trap, for example, dig a pit here  -  and working  out that fibre can be gathered from  an animal  and  converted into cloth,  a process which requires an act of  imagination beyond the information supplied by observation.

Regardless   of  the  origin  of  the  skills  and  knowledge  of   the hunter-gatherer, the individual hunter-gatherer will be able to acquire them  simply as learned skills. There will be no necessity  to  change things.  Indeed, as mentioned above, it will probably be dangerous for the  individual member to try to innovate because the tribe as a  whole will view any deviation from tried and tested ways as  dangerous. Such a  brake   on innovation is almost certainly  a valuable  attribute  at the  level of the hunter-gatherer tribe  which is necessarily very reliant on social cohesion.

The nearest the hunter-gatherer gets to an intellectual life is in the creation of tribal myth, especially the explanation of the tribe and the  world’s  origin  and the assignment of animate  qualities  to  the inanimate, spirits in volcanoes, the sky, rivers and so on. That Man should create myths  is  natural for   a self-conscious being  will  necessarily  wonder about such things  as  mortality  and existence. Of course, the creation of  myths is an exercise of the imagination,  but it is difficult to see that  it makes   any   heavy  intellectual demands. There is a  world of  difference between a creation myth which simply asserts that this or that happened (for example,  Genesis) and the theological/philosophical consideration of what existence entails (for example,  Aquinas’   attempts  at  a  proof  of  God).   The  former  is  simply storytelling to provide an  answer,  the latter an attempt to use reason to  provide  an  answer  from  the  observed  and  necessary  facts  of existence.

Change generally will be tend to be seen as dangerous. What is known to work  through long usage  is safe; that which is novel  is  potentially dangerous. To that may be added the fact that it is simply psychologically easier to do what you already know. Learning new things is mentally demanding.

The fact that Man spent hundreds of  thousands of years (including most of his “modern Man” period of the past 200,000 years or so) with  precious little cultural change is powerful circumstantial evidence of  the very strong  innate reluctance  of  human  beings  to depart from customary  ways.  Even  in historical  times  we know that change has often  been   extraordinarily slow in societies which were the most advanced at the time, for example, the stereotypical artefacts of ancient Egypt which change very little  over several millennia or  the dress of the Chinese which was  much the same in 1,800  AD as it was  in 1,000 AD.   Even those living  lives in  advanced societies today show a strong reluctance to alter their ways,  although their ability   to resist change is increasingly limited (see appendix B).

The concentration on concrete thinking probably underpins a reluctance  to change because the understanding and acceptance of radical change  requires abstract  thought. The individual has to think through the consequences, construct a mental model of what will happen.   Someone  may stumble by accident on a  simple  new behaviour which advances Man’s ability to control his environment,  for example, that a prey animal is attracted by a particular bait or that a plant has medicinal effects. But no complex advance, for example, the invention  of the wheel, is going to occur by simple observation  and copying because it requires someone to go beyond copying and visualise something which does not exist.

The  physical senses of  people living  as hunter gatherers are much heightened compared with those living in modern industrialised urban societies.  This is scarcely surprising because the  hunter-gatherer  has to concern themselves with the natural world in the same way that  an animal in the wild does: both must be on constant guard against predators or other forms of danger and be alive to the opportunities for obtaining food  and other materials.  The heightened senses and the  need to concentrate on the present may effect how people think by  either training the mind in that direction or by selecting  individuals with such innate traits.  Perhaps it is impossible  for a  mind  to efficiently perform radically different functions such as a concentration on the immediate and concrete and deal with abstractions. If so, this could either be a consequence of innate difference or a difference in experience which programs the mind.

The fact that the life of a hunter-gatherer is very physically  demanding, both in  terms of  simply surviving and in the manual  skills  which must be routinely exercised, may have an effect on  intellectual development. Perhaps a concentration on  physical activity may  dull the intellectual processes even if the brain is equipped to potentially do far more intellectually, or to put it another way,  the brain is programmed to do manual work by the demands of the society in which the hunter-gatherer lives and has  less inclination  for  intellectual activity because of that programming. The hunter-gatherer will also have his concentration on potential  dangers from  predators and other bands of men, just as  a prey  animal will be constantly  looking out for danger.

In summary, the hunter-gatherer has a large suite of skills and  knowledge  which allow him to deal with circumstances as they arise, but there is little or  nothing  which  requires high level reasoning  or  invention.  The knowledge  of  the group is passed from generation to  generation  with little change.

What  is  required  in  such  a society  is  a  very   strong  memory, especially  as such societies are pre-literate (it has long been  noted that people in pre-literate societies frequently have extraordinarily  powerful memories and  good powers of recall), and the ability to  readily  access and apply the knowledge.

The  implication of all this is that a  hunter-gatherer  society  will require  a substantially smaller aggregate intelligence than more  complex  societies. Alternatively  it could be argued that a lesser aggregate intelligence  is what is actually required in less complex societies, that is,  it is optimum  state for the ecological niche into which they naturally  fit. Increase the  average IQ of the group and the society  will  have  the potential to develop different behaviours, for example, it may  become less socially cohesive because there are more individuals who  require less social support to  cope  or whose greater intelligence leads  them to  innovate. That could reduce the fitness  of  the  hunter-gatherer group because higher IQ behaviours are inappropriate.

None of this  means a simple society is biologically unfit per se. They fill their niche in the Natural world successfully,  indeed, have  filled it for most of the vast stretch of hominid existence. In parts of the world they fill  it to this day. Their evolutionary fitness is only called into question when they meet more complex societies with which they cannot compete. When they do this can have the most traumatic effects. Take the case of the Australian Aboriginals who  have  a   large  experience  of living   in state-sponsored    reservations.     The    amount of aboriginal self-determination  has varied over the years,  with the general  trend being  towards  ever  more  self-governance. This  trend  is  now  being reconsidered because of its ill-consequences, viz:

‘Releasing  a  new  report into the nation’s health,  Mr  Abbott  [Tony Abbott,   the   Australian  health  minister]  said  the   system   of self-governing   Aboriginal  communities  created   “appalling   living conditions”  where problems such as petrol-sniffing,  domestic violence and child sexual abuse were rife…

‘The report said Aboriginal health was declining at a time when that of the  rest  of  community  was  markedly  improving.   Death  rates  for indigenous  infants  are  three  times  higher  than  for  the  general population.

‘Mr Abbot’s audacious plan proposes giving administrators  wide-ranging powers to organise basic services such as water, transport and sewerage -   and   reverse   what   he   calls   the   pervading   “culture   of directionlessness”  in remote Aboriginal settlements.’ (Daily Telegraph 22/06/2006).

A  plausible explanation for  this state of affairs is that the Aborigines are  being asked to live a life for which they are not equipped. and that at least part of that unfitness is  down to Nature.   The nurturist will of course argue that the  present state of Aborigines is simply a consequence of the  destruction of their traditional way of life, which in one sense is true. What the nurturist does not and cannot explain is why  populations adapt to meeting more sophisticated  cultures  with differing degrees of ease. It is never an easy or pleasant thing to put aside old ways which are comfortable, but  the experience of  white and Asian societies in adapting to new , more  intellectually demanding circumstances is utterly at  odds with that of  peoples such as the Aborigines.  Europe and its  colonial offshoots such as the USA industrialised quite rapidly when shown the way by Britain; Japan took up the industrial banner  in the 19th century and China almost certainly would have done if it had not been emasculated  by foreign powers.  Korea and China itself have shown since the second world war how readily they can create an industrial society.  Most tellingly whites and Asians adapt to more intellectually demanding circumstances regardless of where they are. This is almost certainly because  of their superior IQ distribution.

15. Life in more complex societies

The  more  complex a society the greater the need  for  high  IQ. As the  number of humans living in social proximity  increases  more sophisticated social structures  are required. A settled way of life amplifies this need further. The variety of occupations  increases and, most importantly, the amount of stored knowledge becomes both larger and, once writing is available, more stable. Social organisation becomes  looser and informal social support lessens. In place of a single world view competing ideologies vie for supremacy. Change and innovation become much more probable.  There is so much more to potentially think about and learn, although any  individual may  actually  have to know less than the hunter-gatherer to survive because  of division of labour.

The  individual in such a society  is  required to both learn more complex  and  less  immediately obviously  practical  skills  and knowledge and to deal with a greater  range  of human  personalities  and ideas. A man’s  life contains less  physical activity. As he works with his brain rather than his hands, his focus of attention  changes.   Knowledge becomes  obsolete through innovation and  consequently the need to learn throughout life  increases. There is  less  certainty  and  fewer simple  cultural mooring posts. The individual has  to make more intellectually demanding decisions.

To live in  a more complex society requires a qualitative change in mental abilities.   There is an ever increasing shift from  learning  that  which is concrete  to that which is abstract, both in terms of understanding the whys and hows of the  natural world at a level beyond mere surface observation, for example, the extraction of  metal from ores,   and in contemplating the organisational problems posed by  larger  associations of human beings. Much of what is  to be  learnt  has no connection with the  natural world and consequently no innate interest for Man who has to persuade himself  intellectually that such  things should be learnt because  they lead to  useful  outcomes.

The existence of writing enhances such behaviours but it does more than that. The  storing of information in a stable  form means that  information can be disseminated more widely and  more certainly. Oral traditions inevitably  result in  variation. So of course  do  written  records but  they are  far less prone to change, especially  where   moveable type printing  exists.   Moreover, a written record is a permanent statement of what was thought or claimed  at one time. It can be compared with later written or oral accounts of the same subject in a way that  a society with a purely oral tradition can  never compare past and present accounts. In addition, written  documentation  allows not only a vast increase in what can be handed down from generation to generation but also  much more complex information. It also greatly extends the time over which information may be transmitted.  According to Plato,  Socrates lamented the use of written records because he believed they  stifled  the intellect, but  what would we know of Socrates today if  no written records had been made of his thought? The answer is nothing.

As societies become more complex the way in which people learn changes. Instead of invariably learning by personal instruction and example, human beings often have to learn  without direct human assistance, for example by reading,  or by listening to the spoken words of others without any practical demonstration. This is because in  modern industrialised societies the number of people who really understand the  technology which is in general use is seriously inadequate. This means that people are  routinely expected to use technology without  a proper understanding of it because there is no one to instruct them in its use.

16. The increasing IQ demands of  modern society

Take a simple everyday example of how  everyday life has rapidly become more complex in our own society.  Fifty years ago if you looked in the pockets of  the ordinary working  man  you would find a  wallet  which  probably contained  money and the odd photo or a scrap of paper on  which  notes had  been made:  the pockets of  a middle class man would  contain  what the working man’s contained plus  probably a cheque book and possibly a driving licence. Today the pockets of most people will contain cash,  a wallet  a  wide  variety of credit,  bank and  store  cards,  a  driving licence and  a mobile phone.

All the person, whether working class or middle class, had to worry about  fifty years ago  was not losing any of the things they  carried. If  they  did lose them, the most that they  were  likely to have  to  do  was cancel  their  cheque book and get a new licence. Now most people have to not only worry  about what the person fifty years ago had to worry  about,  they also have to deal with  a great deal more. They must remember passwords to use their cards and, should they lose any of  them, they not only have to cancel the  cards and get new  ones   but have  the  added  worry  of   identity  theft.

That is just a one example of what the modern industrial society demands of its members.   It does much more.  Vast numbers of laws are passed which no person however conscientious can be expected to master (that includes lawyers) and the state imposes  hideously  bureaucratic procedures for  everything from applying for a passport to  gaining  welfare benefits.  The modern state  even in in its most  benign forms also increasing  interferes actively through attempts to micro-manage the lives of those who come under its sway, whether that be  congestion charging, the sorting of rubbish  for environmental  or  the imposition  of highly intrusive surveillance practices such as high-tech ID cards.  More generally, it imposes  ideologies  such as political correctness on its population  through the use of political propagandising and the passing of laws to make dissent  difficult or simply  illegal.   That is what the benign form of  the modern state does: its more malign incarnations  do the same things but in a more extreme  manner. All of this is mentally  demanding and exhausting for any person to take on board and of course most people do not even try let alone succeed in knowing and observing every new law or de facto official custom.

But it is not only the state which makes increasing demands on the emotional and mental resources of its people. Partly because of technology and partly because of the demands of ever widening competition as national trade barriers are lowered,  large private companies have joined the complexity party.   Customers are expected to increasingly serve themselves, whether that is through the use of websites, automated telephone systems, onsite computer such as ATMs and  checkout machines in supermarkets.  It is increasingly difficult in many of the ordinary spheres of life to  engage directly with another human being.  (I examine the implications of  computers  in more detail in   Appendix B)

A nasty question arises from this increasing complexity: are  the demands made on humanity by  the advanced modern state such as to distract them from  learning things which previous generations learned. Do people today know much more about processes but have far less general knowledge  than they once had? My feeling is that this is precisely what has happened. Does this make  people on average less intelligent  because the intelligence of erudition  is reduced?  If so, does this imply that populations as a whole are becoming less intellectually competent or merely intellectually competent in a different way?  I suspect it is the former because the intelligence of erudition is the main source of human competence.

There is also the worrying prospect that technological advance may be proceeding so rapidly that the demands it makes on people in general may eventually outstrip the society’s  general IQ capacity.  At the least the additional demands are leaving  millions of people  in an increasing precarious position – an IQ of 80 is the point at which most psychologists would  say that  a person  begins  to  struggle to live an independent life  in  a  modern advanced society such as Britain. Approximately ten per cent of the population of  Britain have IQs of 80 or  below. That is six million people.

17. Low IQ behaviour

Low  IQ  individuals are not monsters,  they are simply people  with  a more  limited range of behaviour than the common run of  homo  sapiens, just  as  children  display a more limited range of  behaviour  than  a normal  adult.  In particular low IQ individuals have  difficulty  with abstractions.  This has implications both for problem solving  and  the empathic understanding of other people.

A low IQ means that its possessor will find it difficult to  deal  with the demands of an advanced society because such a society will  require a  good deal of abstract thought,  knowledge acquisition which  is  not related to the natural world, constant learning as information  becomes outdated or additional information has to be learnt.

Of course the  problems associated with a low IQ are not restricted only to the racial groups which possess an inferior IQ distribution In a country with an average IQ of 100 approximately  a quarter  of the population will have an IQ of 89 or less. Approximately ten  per cent of such a population will have an IQ of 80 or less. But there  are two  important differences between such a society and a  low IQ community.  First,  in a high IQ society  the number with IQs which make  them unfitted to live independent lives is  comparatively  small. Second,  those  with low IQs can rely on the help of  the  much  larger group  who form the  higher IQ majority, the exact reverse of a low  IQ society.

Because of the way human beings generally behave,  favouring those most like themselves, it is probable that that  the more ethnically/racially homogenous a  society  is the  more likely  it is for the low IQ individual to  receive help  from higher   IQ  individuals  because  of  the  enhanced  sense  of   group solidarity. (Welfare, Ethnicity and Altruism edited by Frank Salter  provides substantial statistical evidence that  as the diversity of a society increases  support from the majority population for social provision falls).

18. High IQ behaviour

High IQ behaviour is more complex than low IQ behaviour for the beautifully  simple reason that the high IQ individual  has a wider range of intellectual competence  than the low IQ individual.

A high IQ  will, other things being equal, give its possessor  an advantage in  any occupation which relies significantly  on IQ related skills. This does not have to be a high status occupation.  For example, someone with an IQ of 160  will  tend to be a  more expert  machinist   than someone with a low IQ.

The higher the IQ the more people will tend to earn and the higher status job  they will tend to occupy. However, when it comes to making  a fortune (as opposed to inheriting it or gaining it through good fortune such as a win on the lottery), IQ  is probably  not the prime determinant. At best it might be a necessary but not sufficient condition but even that is dubious.  Think of all the highly intelligent academics whose material circumstances  are modest  and the many  people of little education and no  obvious  unusual intelligence who end up as multi-millionaires. The  making a fortune would seem to be more a question of  personality -  having a risk-taking personality – persistence and circumstances. It is noteworthy that most successful  entrepreneurs have quite a few attempts before  succeeding. This suggests  that a large part of their success is simply the willingness to keep trying and a disregard for the social harm they cause while failing.  It may also be that because a high IQ is more likely to  lead to higher intellectual activity, those with a high IQ are simply more interested in that activity rather than making money or building a company (entrepreneurship is not only about money).

19. Majority and minority

Ethnic  minorities  have a built-in insoluble  problem – the majority population will invariably resent their presence if the ethnic population is of a size which allows them to effectively colonise a territory – and that territory may be as small as a few streets – and to be visible as a distinct group.

Where this happens  the  majority population will normally   not feel any  ethnic  solidarity with the minority, while the ethnic minority will keep itself to itself.  This will severely limit any assistance at the purely social level the majority gives to the ethnic minority populations. Where the minority is of a lower average IQ than the majority population they will not benefit from the help of the higher IQ majority in the  same  way that the lower IQ members of the high IQ majority are helped  by  higher IQ  members  of  their own group.

The  larger  the  minority group the more  extreme  its  position  will become  because the larger it  is the easier it is for a member of the minority to live without having social inter-action with the  majority population. This will make the  majority population even less inclined to offer aid to members of the minority.  As mentioned previously (Welfare, Ethnicity and Altruism), there  is  also solid evidence  that the more racial and ethnically divided a society is,  the less  willing are its members, and particularly those of  the  majority group, to  provide for social goods such as welfare or healthcare.

Because the low  IQ  minority  has inadequate access to aid from those with higher IQs,  as a group  they  will display a  disproportionately  high  level of antisocial behaviour because they  are less  able  to cope with the practical and psychological demands  of  a high IQ society . Being a low performing minority in a high IQ society also feeds the paranoia and victimhood  of the minority,  who  tend to attribute their   failure   to  succeed  in  the  society   to   oppression   and  discrimination  by the majority.  They will make this attribution  even when other higher IQ minorities in the society  do succeed.

A higher IQ minority amidst a lower IQ majority is a much rarer phenomenon. The examples involving black majority populations  are mostly restricted to colonial situations, whether past or extant, the most notable example being South Africa which is kept afloat as the most advanced state in  black Africa by the white created infrastructure and continuing large-scale white involvement in the country.

Minorities of Ashkenazi Jews and  Asians  in  Western countries  have  higher average IQs than the societies  in  which  they live,  but there are two important differences between  their  position and  the position of whites in SA and their  majority black population.   The first  is the fact that  the  difference  between Ashkenazi  Jews and Asians and that of the  US majority  population is nothing like as great as that between US blacks and whites .  The  second difference is that  the white  average IQ of 100 is adequate to  create and sustain an advanced modern society.

20. A low IQ individual in a high IQ  society

What does an individual do when faced with a situation which is  beyond their experience or capabilities?  Generally they panic at some  level; at the least the person becomes very uncomfortable.  The low IQ  person placed  in a society  which is best suited to those with  substantially higher  IQs   is potentially  at  risk  of suffering such stress  far more often than the higher IQ individual.  Most dramatically, low IQ  is  associated with mental illness, viz:

“Many people with psychiatric disorders appear to have a lower than average level of intelligence prior to developing mental illness, study findings suggest.  Dr Erik Lykke Mortensen, from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, and colleagues therefore suggest that poor performance on cognitive tests among psychiatric patients could reflect low intelligence rather than the effects of the mental health disorder.   For their study, the researchers identified 350 men in their late 20s who had a range of psychiatric disorders, all of whom had completed an IQ test when 18 years old.   In all, nine different groups of psychiatric diagnoses were represented: schizophrenia and schizotypal disorders, other psychotic disorders, mood disorders, neuroses and related disorders, adjustment disorders, personality disorders, alcohol-related disorders, other substance use disorders and other diagnoses.   All the psychiatric disorders, with the exception of mood disorders and neuroses and related disorders, were associated with a low IQ score, with scores for patients with the average scores for patients in the other psychotic disorders group 8 points below average, while they were 13 points below average for those in the substance use disorders group.   Neither the social status of the parents nor the presence of psychiatric illness in the parents could explain the low IQ scores seen in the men.“ Low intelligence linked to a range of psychiatric disorders.

http://www.patienthealthinternational.com/ncm.aspx?type=news&param=9145  11 November 2005

It is conceivable that the stress low IQ people experience in a high IQ society may  be in part the cause of this  greater incidence of mental illness. That could explain why blacks in Britain  are massively over-represented in  the  mental  health system while in countries such as Jamaica the incidence is not abnormally high. I say could because the difference between the incidence in Britain and Jamaica could be simply a reflection of the  vastly different  mental health resources in the two countries.  There may also be an issue of racial discrimination: the Black Londoner’s  Forum claims   African Caribbean’s are 44% more likely  to be sectioned, 29%more likely to be forcibly restrained, 50% more  likely to be placed in seclusion and make up 30% of in patients on medium  secure psychiatric wards, despite having similar rates of mental illness as  British white people.

The  behaviour of a low IQ individual in a high IQ society will  largely depend on  two  things:  the opportunity to live a life within the  limits  of their  intellect and the extent to which their lives are controlled  by the group in which they live.

A low IQ individual with a secure job  asking little  by way of  skill or intellect but paying enough to allow the individual to marry and raise a  family, can live  a life which is neither socially disruptive nor  unfulfilling for the person or those associated with him.   The stability of  such a person’s  life  will  be  increased by support  mechanisms  such  as  a closely integrated community, civil society institutions such as unions and  friendly  societies  and  the universal state  provision  of  such necessities  as  education,  healthcare  and welfare.  If  the  low  IQ individual lives in a community with those who are of generally  higher IQ,  their  behaviour  can  assist the low IQ individual to exist  by offering assistance through direct help, example and the fact that the higher IQ individuals  create a more secure and efficient society through their  general behaviour and abilities. In  addition, such  a  community   can directly  shape the behaviour  of  the  low IQ individual by setting socially beneficial  standards  and norms which  would  be less likely to exist in a community of  low IQ individuals.

Where a high IQ society removes or diminishes the opportunities for those  with low  IQs   to  live  comfortably  their   behaviour  will  become  more anti-social. For  example,  policies such as mass immigration and  “free trade”   diminish the quantity of work and the level of wages available to  the lower IQ individual through  increased  job competition  within the domestic market and the export of jobs.  In addition, immigrants increase competition for community provided social goods such  as healthcare  and this bears most heavily  on those with low IQs  because  they are disproportionately found amongst the poor.   In such  circumstances those with low IQs  will be more prone to crime, unemployment,  welfare dependency,  poverty and social alienation.

The propensity for anti-social  behaviour is enhanced where the elite inflates the sense of victimhood of a minority group which has a weak IQ profile. The trait has  four  strands:  first, there is the overt promotion of  the group’s  victimhood by the  elite; second,  there  is the removal from public debate of criticism  of  the group, third,  the operation of double standards  when dealing  with the “victim” group  and the rest of the population and fourth, the creation of  formal privileges (affirmative action) and covert  privileges (equality laws).

American blacks are a prime example of what happens when a low IQ ethnic group exists within an advanced society and the reins of the high IQ majority are slackened.  They have a  much higher rate of anti-social behaviour now,  especially in areas such as illegitimacy and single parenthood,  than they did before Lyndon Johnson’s  “Great Society”   legislation, a  time  of  overt segregation   in  the  South  and  widespread   racial   discrimination everywhere.  The anti-social behaviour of blacks on average was higher than that of the majority white population even before the legislation in the 1960s, but their natural tendency to produce antisocial behaviour was restricted by the white majority behaviour which neither fed a sense of victimhood nor diminished the number of jobs most blacks could do by allowing vast immigration, increased imports and  outsourcing. Nor was there the vast panoply of publicly funded  support, both at the federal and state level, to make not working a viable  proposition.

Regardless of race, the lower the IQ the more dependent a person is on the support of  the group.  Modern advanced societies,  especially those  in  countries such as Britain and the USA, provide an ever  weaker system of  social support  as  the natural support  groups from the family to  a person’s  social class  are  actively undermined by the trend  towards  greater  general affluence  and the increasing withdrawal of the state from the  control of economic activity through their elites’  commitment to  “globalism”, which   is   a  curious  hybrid  of  the  laissez  faire   version of internationalism  which extols the free movement of goods and  services and  people and the Left Internationalist ideal of humanity as a single social  entity. This elite commitment, seen in its most extreme form in Britain over  the past quarter century, undermines the opportunities for  those at the lower end of the IQ distribution to gain and hold a job which is within their capabilities which will  provide them with an income which will allow them to live an independent life.

The  opening of national markets to imports from lower cost  countries such  as  China  destroys home  based  manufacturing,  which   however efficient cannot compete with producers who pay a tiny fraction of what a Western employer must pay  both in terms of wages and in meeting the other  bureaucratically imposed costs such as those relating to  social security and health and safety.

Added to cheap imports are the mass immigration of cheap labour and the export of jobs such as call centre posts to low cost countries such  as India. (Generally,  employers who have to compete globally are ruthless in  cutting  staff).   Finally,  in the name of  removing  protectionist behaviour,   governments  are  prevented  by  the  treaties  they  have themselves signed from subsidising employers in their own countries.

The  other  side of the disadvantage coin is the movement  towards  the dismantling  of the Welfare State on the ostensible grounds that it  is “too  costly”.   In  reality,  this mentality  is  the  consequence  of globalism,  which has greatly  reduced  democratic control in the First World   by   weakening the position of labour through the  lowering  of protectionist   barriers  and  the  cheap  labour  produced   by   mass immigration  and  by the committing of nation-states  to  international treaties which restrict national action and impinge upon  the sense of ethnic solidarity.

Mass  immigration  provides not only immediate   increased  competition for  scarce  social  goods,  but causes a weakening of the  will  of  the majority to support social provision because  there is a reluctance  to fund social goods for those who are seen as ethnically different.

The  upshot  of  the  weakening of social  provision  and individual ethnic help  is, of course,  an  increased inability of the those with weak IQs to live  comfortably or fulfilling  in an advanced  society. At best they risk being reduced to permanent pensioners of the more intellectually able members of their society.

21. The High IQ individual in a low IQ society

Insofar as  the person’s life  makes calls upon IQ related abilities the higher IQ individual will enjoy  an advantage.   However, such an  individual  could be at a  considerable  disadvantage  simply because  he  will  be  abnormal.  The  society  will  value  particular knowledge  and skills and discount the value of  intelligence.  Indeed, intelligence  may  lead  to behaviour which  is  viewed  as  dangerous  because it is  innovative.

Even  if   his high IQ  does  not   result  in behaviour judged to be “dangerous”, the  high  IQ  individual  will  find   his intelligence to be of far less use and advantage than it would be in  a high IQ society because the range of problems  to which the person’s intelligence  can be harnessed  are much more limited than they would be in a high IQ society.

The exception to this rule is where the high IQ minority is the controlling elite, either because they hold formal power (various Latin American countries) or because the country is de facto dependent upon them to maintain the society (South Africa).

22. High status/high IQ jobs

Some jobs by their nature  require a strong IQ,  for example,  you will not find people with  low  IQs working as physicists or mathematicians. Anyone  who  has to master a complex technical job such  as  flying  an airliner  will have a healthy IQ.

But not all  high status jobs require the  mastery of a particular skill or ability that can  be  objectively measured  and there is good circumstantial evidence that in  many  high status jobs an individual can get by  with only a mediocre IQ. It is also true that job status is strongly class-dependent.  Some jobs which are considered to have  relatively low status in the context of a society as a whole because they are mostly done by those drawn from the lower social levels may require a strong IQ, for example,  the skilled mechanic, the rank-and-file police detective.

Jobs also have status within their social stratum. The skilled mechanic will enjoy high status within the working  class;  a brain surgeon will trump a bank manager in  middle class circles.   A few  occupations are beyond class,  for  example, those who exercise serious political power or, in our celebrity obsessed world, the likes of film stars.

The  status of a job and of a person’s position within a  work  hierarchy can play an important part in disguising incompetence, as can political ideology. The  Bell Curve identified an interesting trait in US  society:  blacks and  Latinos  are over represented in reputedly high status jobs  such  as doctors, lawyers and teachers,   the over-representation plausibly being the consequence of an ideologically driven policy, namely,  “positive” discrimination: –

“We have obtained SAT data on classes entering  twenty-six of the nation’s top colleges and universities. In 1975, most of the  nation’s elite private colleges and  universities  formed the  Consortium on financing Higher Education (COHFHE, which amongst other things,  compiles and shares information on thestudents  at  member institutions, including SAT  scores. We have  obtained these data  for the classes entering  in  1991 and  1992…  In addition,  the figure includes data  on  the University  of Virginia and the University of  California  at  Berkeley in 1988.” (The Bell Curve p451).

“The  difference between black and white scores was less  than 100 points at only one school,  Harvard.  It exceeded 200 points at nine schools, reaching its highest at Berkeley (288 points).  Overall, the media difference between the black and white mean  was 180 SAT points,  or conservatively estimated, about 1.3 standard deviations.” Ibid p451

For US graduate schools Murray and Herrstein found that  in Law school only 7 per cent of blacks had scores  above the  white mean.  The figures for medical schools were  similar to those of the Law schools, while the  arts and  sciences  were slightly stronger. The Bell Curve pp455-8.

As for teachers, affirmative action in the workplace Teacher competency exams showed whites passing at twice the rate of blacks in three of the four states cited  – California, New York and Georgia – with Pennsylvania the  odd man out with a white/black pass rate of 93/68. The Bell Curve P494

It is difficult to conclude anything other than that the intellectual  quality of blacks  working in medicine, law and education  is on average substantially less than those of whites and Asians and that this inferiority will manifest itself in a  reduced  ability of blacks to do the job   However, many blacks  manifestly do survive  in such jobs. How do they do it?  The answer is a mixture of  the subjective nature of  the subjects (even the law allows  many interpretations), status and political correctness.

Take the case of medicine. It is  far  from being  an  exact science.  Consequently,  many mistakes remain   hidden because  an error can be explained away as being a  reasonable  opinion which  just  happened to be wrong,  misdiagnosis would be  the  classic example of this behaviour.

To this “get out of jail free card” can be added the natural  respect that a doctor carries for most people, including  other medical staff,   the ignorance  of the general public on medical matters and  a very  strong reluctance on  the part of medical staff to make a complaint about other medical staff.  All this   makes  people  generally  reluctant to question a doctor’s  behaviour.  Where the doctor is from a  group which is  protected by political correctness these natural barriers become amplified.

The power of all these traits can be seen from the frequent  cases  of  unqualified people successfully impersonating  doctors  for long  periods  of time.   There have even been a few  cases  of  people successfully impersonating surgeons for years.

But there is another reason why those with low to mediocre IQs get away with being doctors:  medicine  is not the most intellectually demanding profession  (it used to be known as the stupid profession). To be medically competent a doctor needs a powerful memory – to master  the very large amount of information presented to  him  during training and ongoing post-training experience – and personality  traits which allow him to  both judge patients and  be able to inspire trust and  confidence in them.  What it does not require most of the time  is very high level problem solving.

Despite  the limited  intellectual demands of medicine it is accounted a high  IQ  profession nowadays,  at least by implication, and the academic entry requirements for  medical school grow ever more stringent.   Why?   There  is  great competition to enter the profession because it has high status and pays  well.   This means that higher IQ candidates for  medical  school will,  other things being equal,  be preferred to those with lower IQs. In  short,  medicine  today  is  probably   burdened  with   higher  IQ personnel than it requires.

But  over-qualification  applies  only  to  those   who   are   not beneficiaries of “positive” discrimination and lower IQ candidates come from  the groups who do benefit from such favouritism.  Because of  the reasons  given above,  they can survive because the job does  not  make intellectual  demands  which  unambiguously reveals   their  inadequacy.  In addition, those who benefit from “positive” discrimination will tend to generally benefit from  political correctness,  for this will drive those outside the protection of political correctness – in the developed world  white doctors, nurses,  technicians and  administrators-   to  cover up the inadequacies  of  the  low  IQ politically correct  protected doctor.  Ironically,  the higher than necessary IQ of those doctors outside the politically  correct fold will assist  in the process of  covering up because they will tend to  be more competent at doing so  because of their higher IQ and  greater competence.

What is true of medicine applies to many other high status jobs. People with  low to mediocre IQs can  and survive  for  long periods in  positions which   are  patently  beyond  their competence (this of course applies to all races not merely blacks).  There is far more to competence than  just  IQ, but  often  the  incompetence is ascribable to  a  lack  of  IQ-related problem  solving ability – the Dilbert cartoon strip deals  brilliantly with both the question of incompetents in high places and the different qualities required by people in different jobs.

Even more fundamental to understanding how low IQ individuals survive in high status jobs is the fact that having an incompetent in a  high status  job  does  not automatically mean that  the  operation  of  the organisation  or  unit  they work within  is   dysfunctional.   If  the incompetent  person  is a senior manager the people under him   will compensate for the person’s incompetence by quietly ignoring  what the  manager says should be done, by using  their intelligence and experience    and by following  standard   rules and practices.  Organisations  of  any size but the very smallest have  an  in-built functionality which  transcends the individual.

The larger  and more complex the  organisation is the less important the position of a senior manager becomes,  because the  larger  the  organisation  the greater  the  in-built  functionality  and  the  less  the  effect   an individual can have on the organisation, try as they may.   Anyone  who doubts  this  should examine the careers of those who have risen to  be chief executives of large public companies which they have not  founded (entrepreneurs  who create their own businesses are a different  kettle of  fish).   Their   careers are almost invariably  patchy:  they  have success at one company then fail at another.  But once they are on  the corporate  CEO gravy train it is the  devil’s own job to get them  off. Like  high profile Premiership football managers,  no matter how  often they fail there is seemingly always another big job waiting for them.

What applies to private business applies in spades to public  servants, both because there is no bottom line (the  taxpayer pays regardless of outcome)  and because those ultimately responsible  are  the  politicians who misuse their power to cover up mistakes where possible, and where it is not,  to pretend that a monumental piece of incompetence is  nothing of the sort.  They get away with it in the main because most so-called democratic systems (in reality elective oligarchies)  are tightly controlled by an elite which manages  to bar  by  one means or another (sociological inertia, control  of  the media  and  so on) any new political force from gaining power  or  even influence. Even where a new party does gain power,  it  is  almost always comprised of the same class of people who held power before. The electorate  is left with no meaningful choice and the politicians as  a class  are literally irresponsible in such circumstances.

Positions  of  authority  generally  offer  the  low  or  mediocre   IQ individual a great deal  of latitude, because such people are protected from an objective examination of their performance  by their status  and because  they  can call upon the ability of others to do  the  high  IQ work.  They can also take the ideas of their subordinates for their own and place the blame for failure on their subordinates.  The higher  the status of the job,  the greater the ability of the low IQ individual  to hide their inadequacies, both moral and intellectual.

Much of what those in positions of authority do is little more than the exercise of personality plus the acting out of learned positions.  This is particularly obvious in the case of politicians who commonly operate simply  on the recitation of learned statements rather than  responding intelligently to questioning or the demands of situation.  Often   when politicians are forced by circumstances to make a serious attempt at explaining  something   they make  a  frightful  hash  of it because they do  not  have  any  proper understanding of the subject.

The case of George W Bush is an extreme example of this behaviour. When presented with a prepared speech which he has rehearsed extensively and with the use of a teleprompt,   he can speak fluently, although even in these  circumstances he will get some of the phrasing of  his  delivery comically  wrong by placing stresses where there should be none. But put Bush  into a situation where he has to answer questions without any prior  knowledge  of  what is to be asked and  his speech  takes  on  a chaotic form  with stretches of hesitancy followed by passages   where he suddenly becomes fluent for  a sentence or two,  although the fluent passages  often   have  no  direct relevance to  the  question  he  is answering – this, of course, is a common politician’s ploy, but Bush does not use the tactic as a means of avoiding the question but to fill the space with words, any words.  This behaviour is easily explained:  Bush cannot deal with questions on the hoof.  This leads him to stutter and hesitate until he remembers  something he has learned parrot fashion which he  then  trots out.  Once this is delivered he is back to not knowing what to say  and the stumbling hesitancy re-surfaces.

What  applies  to  politicians has application to not  only  people  in authority  but in some degree to any person.  For much of any  person’s life,  both  social  and working,  the individual can  get  by  without needing to exercise higher intellectual functions.  For a large part of the  population  their  lives  can be  lived  without  ever  having  to exercise  high level  intellectual functions because,  contrary to  popular opinion,  most jobs  in a modern advanced state are as they have always been: mundane.

The  high status people who cannot easily hide their  incompetence  are those who undertake jobs which can be judged objectively, most commonly those involving a technical ability such as an engineer or scientist. Bluff there will not carry you through, well, not unless you are a cosmologist.

Tellingly, although the black middleclass has increased massively in the USA  over the past 50 years, the distribution of  blacks across  the full gamut of middleclass occupations is uneven. For example,  black academics have become much more common in the USA in the past fifty years,  but there are  few in the indubitably  high IQ subjects such as maths, physics, chemistry. I was tempted to include philosophy but that is a subject which is difficult to define. It is indubitably a high IQ subject when done well, but it can also be done badly and still get an academic  hearing in a way that work by  an incompetent physicist could not. Hence, quite a few blacks have entered philosophy departments but what they produce is more social commentary  and political polemic than  analytical philosophy in the Western tradition. Certainly, no major black philosopher in that tradition exists. Where blacks do appear in great numbers  in academia is in “black” studies, an  area in which they can rule the roost  with virtually no academic challenge because of political correctness.

23. How the IQ  level of a society rises

How natural selection works on the  mind is still uncertain,  but if the attributes of mind are substantially genetically determined then they must be subject to natural selection.  If this is the case then natural selection would favour  differences in  mentality  which are suited to particular environments.

The mechanics of a rising average IQ would seem to be simple. If IQ is genetically determined, in part or whole, it will be subjected to natural selection.  If a higher IQ is advantageous in an environment it will be preferentially selected. That will result in an increase in the average  IQ  within  the group.  From that  increase  will  arise   the possibility,  but not the necessity,   of more complex social arrangements. If such  arrangements occur, natural selection will favour ever more strongly the high IQ  which in turn will provide the opportunity for a yet  more  complex society.  And so on ad infinitum or at least to the limits of what  can be achieved within homo sapiens.  (Of course, it may become possible for Man to go beyond what natural selection can achieve by means such as  cybernetics or genetic engineering.)

The  ability  of  a  racial  group  to  naturally   evolve  into   more sophisticated  societies  is  not a certain or rapid  thing.  The  vast periods  of time in which, from the palaeontological and  archaeological evidence we have, little social change  appears to have occurred  are testimony to that. More certainly we know  that throughout  historical times different human populations  have lived in very different  stages of social evolution. Even today we  see people living around the world in  every social state from hunter-gatherer to the  most  sophisticated form of  the modern industrialised society.

What  we are talking about is the potential to evolve  socially.   This potential may lay untapped for tens of thousands of years, perhaps even hundreds  of  thousands,  because the  point is not  reached  where  an increase in average group IQ coincides with an  environment favourable to  utilise the  potential of the increased  average group IQ.

Social evolution could  also be delayed if the move from a simpler to a more complex society requires a certain average group IQ to be reached, a critical mass if you will. For example, imagine that a group of hunter-gatherers starts with an average IQ of 50 and this gradually rises. Imagine further that to become a settled community indulging in farming requires and average IQ of 70. Of course,  such  radical  cultural change is unlikely to ever have  been so brutally direct or mechanical for any hunter-gather  group will have moved by degrees from hunter-gathering to farming, but the general principle holds good.

It  is noticeable that the major racial groups have  reached  different degrees  of social evolution.  It is not that any  single racial  group has reached  a uniform  level of social evolution,  rather that  the different  racial  groups seem to have an upper limit to the  level  of general   social   and  cultural   evolution  each  can  achieve.   For example,  no  black  society created a system of writing as far  as  is known and nowhere outside of Europe did forms of government which went beyond monarchical  autocracy evolve naturally – countries outside Europe  have  of course   mimicked,   at  least  in  form  if  often  not in content, non-autocratic  systems after contact with Europeans.

Another  way  of judging whether racial type places  limits  to  social evolution  is  to  look at how  the various major  racial  groups  have responded to the example of more sophisticated societies.   Whites   in Europe  and their descendents abroad  have shown a general  ability  to imitate  the  leaders in social evolution,  whether that  be  Rome  and Greece  in  the ancient world,  Italy in the  Renaissance   or  Britain during the Industrial Revolution.  Asians have  shown themselves capable of  rapidly copying  the white   example in  some  respects at least, most notably by  industrialising.   Blacks are  the odd man out.  Nowhere is there a black majority society  which has  managed to  modernise by its own efforts.  Indeed,  it  is  not possible  to find a black majority society of any size which has  been capable  of modernising successfully even with a great deal of  outside support from the First World.

24. Why have Asians not dominated?

Why have Asians  not dominated human cultural evolution?  How can it be that  the   racial group which has the highest average IQ is  not  that which has  reached, to date,  the greatest cultural achievement, wealth and power?

Before I answer that question, let me debunk some of the Western myths about  China so that we start from the proper  historical and  cultural place  when  assessing Asian  achievement and development.  (The  Asian population  is  of course  more than China,  but  China  by  population represents  most  Asians and Asians at their most  culturally  advanced throughout history  until perhaps the last century,  since when Japan has arguably taken the lead).

Insofar  as people in the West think about China’s place in  history  – and  most  do not think about it at all – they  normally  believe that  China has  long been  a unified state sharing a  single   culture and   a  single  language with a  continuous  history  stretching  back thousands  of  years (thus making it unique)  and that  it  was  always culturally and technologically  in advance of the West until  relatively recently,  the “relatively recently” being anything from 1500 to as late as  1800  AD depending on which authority you choose to follow.  Joseph  Needham  in  his  monumental  Science  and Civilisation  in China is the  prime example of someone propagating  this myth.

The  reality  is  that  the history of China  has  been  as  politically messy  and fractured  as  that of Europe,  arguably   more  so  because their territory is  larger and their population throughout history has been  substantially greater than that of Europe.   The country  was not  even  nominally unified until the third  century BC  -  under  the short  lived Chhin  dynasty (221-207 BC) and has spent more than  half of the time since being split between competing dynasties, for  example, the  Northern and Southern Sung 960-1126,  times of general  warlordism (5/6th  centuries AD)  or subject to  foreign invaders   such  as  the Mongols (1279-1368) and the Manchu (1644-1912). Moreover, even at times of  supposed  unification  the actual amount of control  exercised  by Emperors  was  necessarily small compared with that  achieved   by  the modern   industrialised   state  because  the  means  to  govern   vast territories and large populations was minute in the past compared  with our own day. China is also  so far from being a single racial/ethnic entity  that  today it contains within its borders approximately  100 million people who are in modern Western terms ethnic minorities.

As  for the supposed cultural unity, the spoken language is  very   far from being a single tongue  understood throughout China.  The  division between Cantonese and Mandarin Chinese is reasonably well known in  the West,  but the fracturing of Chinese goes far beyond that. For example, the  erstwhile  Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping spoke with such  a  heavy accent  and dialect that his daughter had to translate for him when  he spoke  in public.  Nor is  the  written language  a single  language similarly  understood by all literate  Chinese  -  different  characters  are  used in different parts of the country  and the same character  may have different nuances depending on the origins  of  the reader.

In  short,  it makes no more sense to speak of China  as  a  continuous state  or  single civilisation than it does to  speak of  Europe  as  a continuous state or single  civilisation.

Nor  is  it  true  that  there  is  a  special  antiquity  to   Chinese civilisation.  In  matters such as writing and the use of  metals,  the Chinese   were at best no earlier than the civilisations of the  Middle East   and  Mediterranean,  and arguably  behind  them,  especially  in writing.

The  claim  that the Chinese  were  throughout  history  more culturally  advanced  than Europe until fairly recently is especially weak. It  is   only necessary  to reflect on the archaeological and historical  evidence  of the  cultural  achievements  of the Egyptians,  those  in  the  fertile crescent (Assyria,  Babylon), the Cretans, Mycenaeans  and  the immense achievements of  ancient  Greece and Rome to realise that the China of antiquity was not superior in terms of their physical control of the world. To take one striking example,  few Chinese buildings pre-dating the Ming era (1368-1644) are extant;  most buildings, including those of the great,  before that date being of timber. Compare that with the  great stone  buildings of the European and Mediterranean ancient world, the magnificent  castles, abbeys, cathedrals and churches of the European   mediaeval world and the amazing architectural  diversity  of the European modern period.

Of  course,  it  is  very easy  to  cherry  pick  particular material accomplishments at particular times and places,  but fail to place them in  their general historical context by posing questions such was  an invention  followed through and  did it become generally used? Such  a failure  gives  a wholly unbalanced picture of the relative  merits  of cultures.  It is true that before the modern period (say 1500 AD) the Chinese can be shown to have had certain inventions before Europe but the opposite also applies, for example,  the  Chinese had the compass before Europe,  but Europe boast priority  with  the  Archimedean screw.

Even  where  China produced an  invention before  Europe and then  Europe introduced  it at a later date,  it does not follow that Europe  copied that invention  from China or the experience of using the invention was  the same  in Europe as in China.    The classic example  of this is  printing with moveable type.  China and Korea had  moveable type many  centuries before  Gutenberg  printed his great Bible in the  15th  century,   but there  is no evidence that Gutenberg was influenced in any way  by  the far Eastern example. Discrete invention of the same thing or process in different cultures  is common.   Not only that,  whereas moveable  type printing  never gained widespread use in China it very  rapidly  became the  norm in Europe,  most probably because written European  languages are   based  on an alphabetical system  with a  few  characters   while written  Chinese  is  an  ideographic   language   with  thousands   of ideograms, each of which requires a single block of type.  Since 1700 at the latest,  European technology has utterly dwarfed  the achievements of the Chinese.

There  is  of  course  far  more to  civilisation  than  its   material consequences.  The  intellectual and social  science,  philosophy,  art, political structure  and so on. Here China also falls well short of  Europe.

China  never managed to develop anything worthy of the name of  science. Throughout their  history  the Chinese have been  very inventive when it comes  to producing artefacts and  practical  solutions to particular problems but have  displayed  a remarkable  lack of interest in developing theory from those  practical solutions to provide general explanations of the world.

It  is also noteworthy that although the Chinese produced many important inventions  such as gunpowder, they commonly failed to exploit them  either at all  or  to  develop them substantially.  When Europeans  began  to  make regular  contact with China in the seventeenth century the guns of  the Europeans  were  much superior to those of the  Chinese  despite  the latter having invented gunpowder.  Looking at the  frequent failures to develop  inventions  the suspicion arises that often an  invention  was produced  to amuse or serve the interests of a powerful  person  rather than  with  the idea of making it a commercial proposition  or  from  a simple  interest  in  the  challenge  of  making  it  and  subsequently understanding how it could be improved. Lord McCartney,  who headed the first official British diplomatic mission to China in 1793/4 noted   “Most  of  the  things the Chinese  know  they  seem  to  have invented  themselves,   to  have applied them  solely  to  the  purpose wanted,  and  to  never have thought of  improving  or  extending  them further”   (A  Journal  of  the embassy to  China),  while  Adam  Smith commented in the latter half of the 18th century  that “China has been long one of the richest,  that is, one  of the most fertile,  best cultivated, most industrious and most  populous countries in the world. It seems, however, to have long been stationary. Marco Polo, who  visited it more than five hundred years ago, describes its cultivation,  industry and populousness ,  almost in the same terms in  which they are described by travellers in the present  times”.  (The Wealth of  Nations Penguin edition p 174.)

Philosophy  as  we would understand it in the  West,  that  is, analytical thought examining the nature of reality with in  theory  at least  an  absence  of ideological baggage clouding  the  issue,  is virtually    missing  from  Chinese  history.    Traditional    Chinese philosophy  never  divorced  itself entirely  from  religion and  was predominantly concerned with how society should be ordered. Its primary purpose was  social control.  It is more a series of maxims than an exercise in philosophical enquiry. The let-everything-be-challenged  method found  intermittently  in Western philosophy from at  least  the  sixth century   BC   onwards   appears   foreign   to   the   Chinese   mind. Interestingly,  they  were  great  compilers of   what  we  would  call encyclopaedias.  They  delighted in recording what was already  known  or thought, rather than investigating what was not known or might be thought.

A similar resistance to change can be seen in Chinese art and fashion. Look at contemporary depictions of Chinese and the dress of a Chinese in 1000 AD is much the same as the dress of a Chinese in 1800.  Chinese art shows a similar stability over the same period, being for the most part heavily constrained by artistic conventions.    Where there is a deviation from such academic artistic discipline it is mainly found in periods where foreign invaders gained power, most noticeably under the Mongol emperors who imported craftsmen and artists from   here, there and everywhere.  Looking at Chinese fashions and art over time is similar to viewing Egyptian artefacts which show a   remarkable stability over several thousand years. This is the direct antithesis of the general European   cultural experience which consistently shows change in fashion and art.

Perhaps the most striking feature of the Chinese is their political and social development.  Politically, the Chinese never really  moved beyond the rather primitive state of believing in an absolute ruler who was a god or  a man directly in touch with gods and warlordism.  There were attempts to introduce more rational and less absolute forms of government, but these were invariably short lived. Ideologies such as Confuscianism attempted to lay down moral rules for rulers, but that was about the limit of any sustained attempt to restrain emperors with anything short of violence. Ideas of constitutions restricting what government may do, representative government or direct democracy were simply alien to Chinese society.

State administration is often lauded as an area of great Chinese superiority, with the Mandarin system put forward as evidence of this, appointment by examination having begun as early as the 7th century AD. But was it really superior to that of the Roman Empire, which pre-dated it by centuries, or more impressive than that of the Catholic church at the height of its power?  Arguably, the Mandarin system was primarily an expression of the general trait of Chinese society to control and categorise rather than a system designed to meet a particular need, as opposed to the administrations of Europe which developed to serve needs such as the management of money.

Below formal government it is difficult to discern in Chinese history anything    which   could be described as   civil society, those organisations and relationships which perform a civic social function but which are not part of the formal political structure, for example, charities, clubs, the co-operative movement and trade unions.   Chinese life has traditionally revolved around the family – including a strong dose of ancestor worship – with any social organisation beyond that being the province of those in authority.  There is nothing which resembles the corporate charitable concern for the poor found within the Catholic Church let alone a formal legal obligation such as the English Poor Law of 1601.

A society which leaves the vast majority of a society in abject penury and a small elite with immense wealth is a primitive form of social organisation. It is a form known since the beginning of history unlike the settled societies which have spread wealth more evenly, which are all of  more recent growth. Left to its own devices Chinese society never went beyond the great disparity  of wealth state.   When Europeans began to gain first hand experience of China from the  seventeenth century onwards a common observation was the tremendous disparity of wealth.   Here  is Adam Smith again:  “The poverty of the lower ranks of people in China far surpasses that of the most beggarly nations in Europe” (The Wealth of Nations p174), but “the rich, having a  superabundance of food to dispose of beyond what they can themselves consume, have the means  of purchasing the labour of other people.  The retinue of a grandee in China or Indostan accordingly  is, by all accounts, much more numerous and splendid than the richest subjects in Europe” (The  Wealth of Nations p310).

This brief de-bunking of the myth of Chinese cultural superiority carries within it suggestions of why Asians have not achieved cultural supremacy despite their superior IQ distribution.  IQ is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for cultural advance.  What is missing from the Asian mentality to have hindered  their advance?  Could it simply be that a combination of sufficiently propitious circumstances have never arisen to drive them beyond a certain point, that Europe surged ahead simply by luck rather than any innate difference?  This would seem to be most unlikely because of the length of time during which China has been   a sophisticated society with substantial technological and organisational achievements.

Why did China never make the jump from by-guess-and-by-God technology to true science? Why did China show so little interest in analytical philosophy? Why did China never develop a political system more sophisticated than that of the god-Emperor when Europeans ran through just about every form of political organisations there is in the past 2,500 years, most of them before the birth of Christ? Why was the idea of political participation,  so widespread in Europe in both the ancient and the late mediaeval world, absent in China?  Why was there an absence of civil society in China?  These differences would seem to be more than culturally determined,  to be the cultural expressions of innate tendencies in behaviour.

IQ is far from being the only measurable innate difference between races (insofar as IQ is innate). J Philippe Ruston in Race, Evolution and Behaviour lists several dozen race-dependent variables under the headings of Brain size, Intelligence, Maturation rate, Personality, Social organisation and Reproductive effort.   Under Personality are listed the following:  activity level, aggressiveness, cautiousness, dominance, impulsivity, self-concept, sociability.  On all of these except cautiousness blacks score higher than whites who in turn   score higher   than Asians.  With cautiousness the position is reversed with blacks scoring lower than whites who score lower than Asians. It is not unreasonable to interpret these differences as the Asian personality being less enquiring or adventurous than that of whites, less sociable and more submissive.

The ascending ranking of black-white-Asian is steady throughout almost all the variables  described  by  Ruston – the odd men out are administrative efficiency and   cultural achievement which Rushton ranks as simply “higher” for both whites and Asians than for blacks.    Arguably, those are the two variables most open to subjectivity and, judged by the  entire sweep of human history, it would seem to be stretching a point to put whites and Asians on  the same level in these two areas.  As previously  mentioned, whites managed an industrial revolution from scratch, created  modern science, developed analytical philosophy and  very  early  on  evolved many  varied  forms  of  political  life, including direct democracy.  Before  European examples were put before those, Asians   never advanced much    beyond   by-guess-and-by-God technology, had nothing moderns would describe as science, possessed no analytical philosophy and did not develop a political system more sophisticated than that of the absolute monarch.)

When they are a minority in high IQ societies Asians tend to fill technical posts – which favour higher IQs – or engage in business, much of which is conducted within their own racial group.  They make surprisingly little headway in areas which require the highest level “people skills”, such as formal politics or interest groups. Whether they as a minority live in high or low IQ societies  Asians  display an extremely strong tendency to  keep within their own communities, but unlike  many other minority groups they generally do not engage in much overt antisocial behaviour   – their  crime tends to be directed at other members of the racial group – and display little overt ethnic  aggression such as portraying themselves as victims of racism or by demanding racially based  privileges for their group. This behaviour also fits the Asian personality template  described above.

There is a further consideration. IQ is not of a piece.  Although Asian IQ is higher than white IQ overall, it is not higher in all respects. Asians score substantially higher than whites on non-verbal tests but are significantly inferior to whites on verbal tests.   They score particularly strongly  on spatial tests.  These differences in the quality of racial IQs fit neatly into the differences listed by Ruston and to work such as Freedman’s. The inferior verbal ability of Asians fits with the idea of reduced sociability.  The greater aptitude on non-verbal tests could be plausibly be interpreted as meaning that the Asian mind is adapted to solving what I would call bounded problems, that is, problems which have objective boundaries such as how do we build this canal?  rather than problems without such boundaries such as what is the good? and what is art?

The limitations of the Chinese intellect can be seen in their adherence to an ideographic form of writing.  If one set a genius and a dullard the task of developing a system of writing, the genius would come up with an alphabetical system and the dullard some form of pictorial representation.  The genius would produce the alphabetical system because he would see beyond the obvious and immediate and eschew the literal representation of a thing or idea,   while the dullard would see only the obvious and immediate way of representing a thing or idea. The genius would go for the less obvious because he would see that it was both more economical and powerful a means of representation because it required only a small number of signs to express  infinity of things and ideas. The dullard would merely see a need to keep on adding to the number of  signs.

Of course the Chinese went far beyond crude pictograms which each literally depicted something, but by retaining   a pictorial system in which each thing or idea had to be represented by a particular sign or group of signs they retained the problems associated with a non-alphabetical system, namely its lack of economy and flexibility, there being several thousand characters associated with   written Chinese.   The sheer number of characters makes the learning of written Chinese a monumental task, especially for those learning the written language as an adult. Many, probably the large majority, of foreigners who speak Chinese cannot read and/or write it.  Nor is this purely a non-Asian trait.  When the Chinese communists attempted to create a literate China in the 1950s they found that many pupils simply were not up to the task – there was a spate of suicides at the time amongst those being forced to learn to read and write Chinese.  The Chinese met this difficulty by introducing a system of 1,000 simplified characters and a 25 letter Roman alphabet was introduced into Chinese primary schools in 1957 to help with pronunciation.

Why did the major representatives of the group with the highest IQ not only start down the dullard’s path with a written language but continues on that path today despite its very obvious disadvantages? Perhaps the answer lies in their IQ and other psychometrically measurable traits.   If Asians have minds which are orientated toward the visual, perhaps it is natural to prefer a  pictorial system of writing. Nonetheless it is strange that such an obviously cumbersome system  should have been retained for so long by the Chinese – the racially similar Koreans adopted an  alphabetical system of writing in the 15th Century.  Of course, literacy in China was very restricted and it  may have been retained simply because it was the system known to the elite (who were its prime users) and cultural inertia  became the controlling force.  It also had the advantage for the elite of naturally  restricting literacy,  because of the  considerable mental demands the written language makes on the individual when they are learning it.  However, such an advantage in the past is a positive disadvantage today and has been since the Chinese first had to compete with modern advanced societies.

We have the experience of  more than a century of  industrialisation and Westernisation  in Japan and several generations of  such behaviour in South Korea and Taiwan. China has  gone down the industrialising road  intermittently for over a century and full-bloodedly  for   the past quarter century. These societies have  had the example  of the white experience of industrialisation, science  and general cultural heritage  before them.   Despite  this and whatever their economic success,  and that  is patchy vide Japan‘s post-1980s stagnation and the oceanic gulf between coastal city China and the vast Chinese interior,  compared with white societies  there  has been in Asian societies  since their opening up to the West  remarkably little  evidence of   fundamental scientific discovery  or  technological innovation  which goes beyond the adaptation of what has been invented or discovered elsewhere.  Nor, despite the very large numbers of Asians living in  advanced white majority societies, can one find  front-rank  scientists or technologists  in proportion to their proportion to the population, a surprising fact when Asian  academic achievement and business  involvement is on average higher than that of whites (anyone who doubts Asian under-representation in this area  should try identifying Asians living in white majority societies who fit the description of  front-rank scientists and technologists).

The willingness to imitate  white  societies extends  to culture. The Japanese in particular are  famous for aping  both high and low white culture, from Beethoven to the Beatles. Asian Harry Potter   fans are amongst the most frenzied in the world.  The architecture of whites  is copied enthusiastically and extensively and is accompanied by a  widespread willingness to destroy  indigenous  architecture, the white  concern for giving a special value to the old and preserving being weak in Asian majority societies.   An equivalent mass  response to Asian culture simply does not exist in  white societies – the  most that can be found are periodic outbreaks of  the use of  oriental  art  and motifs  by  white designers. This willingness to imitate might seem odd in view of  the traditionally  static cultural nature of  Asian societies.  It might be ascribed to the feelings of inferiority which Asian societies felt  when faced with the power of industrialised societies and  at least in China’s case, a sense of  humiliation because of  past white quasi-colonial involvement in China. If this explanation is believed  Asians copy white behaviour because they are proving to themselves that they are not inferior to  white society by emulating what white societies have achieved. However, that shows a  strange lack of ambition. Why not aspire to do something beyond what whites have done?  (Many Chinese  would  say they  are industrialising  and modernising  generally  now simply because they were held back in the past by  white control and manipulation of  their societies, however difficult that is to fit with the facts that foreign  influence over China effectively ended in 1949 and their general failure to advance before Western meddling began in the 19th century).

An alternative explanation is that Asians imitate so readily  because it is natural for them to do so because their general personality traits lead them to do it. Or rather, it is natural for them to imitate in  certain aspects of life but not others.  Where  Asians  do not show such an appetite for imitation is in social structures . The Japanese and South Koreans may have formally adopted systems of elective government  from white examples, but within these  the traditional social relations  remain – practices are accepted which in the West would be considered straight forward bribery of voters or undue influence over them, for example “clan” loyalties. Or take the rule of law. In Japan, supposedly the most Westernised of Asian societies, hardly anyone who is brought to trial for a criminal offence is acquitted, a nonsense for any meaningful system of justice  As for China, uniquely amongst  Communist  countries,  the Communist elite have managed to retain  control whilst allowing capitalism  but eschewing democratisation or the idea of the law being above manipulation by the state.

Why do Asians imitate in some  ways but not others?  I suspect that the answer rests  on what is  the elite  view of society. Traditionally, the Chinese elite were always contemptuous of other peoples,  routinely treating them as subordinate peoples   who owed tribute to the Emperor (Lord Macartney‘s. gifts to the Emperor in 1794  were described as tribute).  Macartney,   who visited China before white interference in the country ,  constantly referred to the fact that  the Chinese  had what we would now describe as a  monstrous superiority complex and that when presented  with  products of the early Industrial Revolution,  the equivalent of which were unknown in China,  they frequently refused to show any  overt interest in them.  Macartney left China having failed to gain what he had been charged with obtaining, namely, the right  of British merchants to trade in China.

A similar refusal to  engage with white societies  can be found in Japan, which after some experience of  white merchants and priests, took the dramatic step of sealing off Japan from all but the most  limited European  contact for three centuries until the American Commodore Perry  forced trade with the white world upon them in 1853.

Once Japan had  engagement with the West  forced upon them a new elite ideology emerged which saw imitation of  certain  aspects of white society as the way to compete with those societies.  This new elite ideology  was accepted by the mass of  their population  with astonishing readiness  bearing in mind the previous refusal to engage with outsiders (there was even a proposal in the 1870s for English to replace Japanese as the language of Japan.) Why did this happen?   Most probably because the general personality profile of Asians  makes them unusually susceptible to authority.  Imitation of  white social relationships did not occur so readily  because such relationships are themselves  the product of innate personality traits . (It is worth bearing in mind that Japan decided to modernise without being quasi-colonised in the fashion of China.)

In summary, despite their higher average IQ, Asians have probably failed to become the culturally dominant race because  their innate personality traits work against them. They are too passive, too unquestioning, too lacking in initiative. The shape of their IQ with higher non-verbal scores and lower verbal scores may be wholly or partially the cause of these personality traits or, conversely, the shape of the IQ is simply an expression of the personality traits.  Other biological traits such as low testosterone levels may also promote such behaviour.

25. Why have whites dominated?

Plausibly, whites have been the culturally dominant race – in the sense of  creating the most sophisticated societies to date -  because they  marry a high average IQ with a superior verbal ability to that of Asians.  This means they can both handle the IQ demands of an advanced sophisticated society and have sufficient sociability to create structures which extend the group loyalty and sense of oneness beyond the family or tribe  without resorting to unashamed   authoritarian control,   for example civil society and representative government.   They display strong traits of initiative, imagination  and intellectual curiosity, traits which may be linked to their relatively high sociability, a behaviour which encourages emulation and competition between and within the sexes. Other biological traits such as testosterone levels somewhere  between blacks and Asians may also promote such behaviour.

There  is evidence that enhanced traits of individuality and imagination go back to the beginnings of modern European man. The vast majority of extant cave paintings in the world are found in Europe, especially  in the  west of the continent. (The  cave art of the Palaeolithic and  the finely  honed flint tools of the later Stone Age, whose workmanship goes far beyond the  demands of the demands of simple utility, arguably represent a higher state of development than the 19th Century Tasmanians).

The great ancient white civilisations  which arose around the Mediterranean, those of Greece and Rome, show an immense fertility of  mind. It is here that we first find evidence of analytical  thought as a conscious pursuit.   Their  art is both extensive and  varied and subject to fashion, that is, it changes regularly over time. That art, both visual and literary,  is concerned  with either homo sapiens or gods who share human qualities, evidence of a similar mentality to that which drove the Renaissance.  In terms of  advanced social organisation, the Greeks created  the idea of direct democracy  and the Romans incorporated  democratic aspects into the first great European political entity.

These traits continued throughout the mediaeval European world,  even  though they were  gradually placed ever more firmly  in the constraining context of Christianity. Illuminated European manuscripts often   reveal a lively irreverence and interest in the  profane world  in their illustrations,  monarchs, great nobles and religious orders vied with one another to produce ever more magnificently egotistical  material statements in the form of  gorgeous  illuminated manuscripts,  great  castles and religious buildings,  parliaments  were  created in many kingdoms.  Intellectuals such as Aquinas, Duns Scotus, Peter Abelard and William of Occam  wrestled with the implications of existence. Then came the  Renaissance which  saw the qualities of individuality and imagination given full rein, aided by the  advance of the vernacular throughout Europe and,  most importantly, printing.   From that point onwards the  general cultural advance of Europe  has never faltered and has produced science,  high technology, representative government  and an ever changing kaleidoscope  of artistic endeavour.  These were the building blocks of modernity.

The acceptance of Christianity  within Europe  is interesting in itself  for the religion embodies the notion  of individualism, both in the personification of God and the individual’s relationship  with God.  Moreover,  the placing of God in human form  in the person of Christ echoes  the  humanising of  the Greek and Roman gods.  Old wine in new bottles.

26. Blacks: the odd man out

Blacks  occupy  a  special place in the  relationship  between  IQ  and social  organisation for two reasons:  they have the lowest average  IQ and   the difference in IQ distribution between them and the other  two broad  racial  groups (whites and Asians) is much greater  than  it  is between  whites  and Asians, assuming the latter gap exists.

Many  have  difficulty accepting the average black African  IQ  of  70. Professor  J  Phillipe Rushton of the  University  of  Western  Ontario addressed  this  disbelief  in  an  intriguing  article  for  VDARE.COM  ‘Solving  The African IQ Conundrum :  “Winning Personality”  Masks  Low Scores’(http://www.vdare.com/asp/printPage.asp?url=):”I know that the figure  is  not  a fluke….  because for the last  six  years  I  have collected  African IQ data on hundreds of students at  the  prestigious University  of  the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg,  South  Africa.  The average IQ for these African students turns out to be 84. Assuming they score  15 points above the general average,  as university students  of any  group typically do,  then an average African IQ of 70  is  implied exactly what the direct measurements show.”

Rushton  goes on to use the out-of-academic-fashion concept  of  mental age: “An IQ of 70 in adults…is equivalent to a mental age of about 11 years.  This would make the normal range of mental ages found in Africa to  be from less than 9 years to almost 14 years.”  (The average IQ  of whites is 100 which means their normal range of mental ages is 14 to 18 years.)

But not all low IQs are equal according to Prof Rushton, viz:  “An IQ of 70 suggests mental retardation: at least  it  would  in the White populations of  Europe,  North  America, Australia and New Zealand. There it would frequently  be associated with dysfunctional social behaviour and visible deficiencies.

“This is because, as Arthur Jensen pointed out in his 1998 book,  The g Factor,  retardation in Whites is often the result of a single gene  or chromosomal  anomaly,  which  also causes  physical  abnormalities  and mechanical deficiencies effecting motor or speech skills. But, clearly, these  abnormalities and deficiencies are not seen in the bulk  of  the black population of Sub-Saharan Africa.”

As for measured personality traits Rushton  says “They  are  outgoing,   talkative,  sociable,   warm,   and   friendly. Psychometrically  speaking,   they  score  high  on  the   Extraversion personality  dimension.  They  are also much  less  anxious,  shy,  and fearful  than Whites  they are low in the Neuroticism  dimension.  This combination  of  high  Extraversion and low Neuroticism  results  in  a socially dominant personality profile. ”  This contrasts with the  more introverted behaviour of whites and the even more introverted behaviour of Asians.

Rushton also cites studies which show that blacks

- rated  themselves as more attractive than did whites.

rated  themselves higher in reading,  science  and  social  studies  than  whites ,  although  they knew  their  academic  performance was lower than whites.

Put together the mental age of 9 to 14 and the psychometric traits listed above and much is explained. In any society/, whether they are in the minority or majority,  black  adult behaviour , and especially black adult male behaviour,  commonly mimics what one would expect  from children  varying from the pre-pubescent to the  early adolescent:  high  self-esteem regardless  of  the  objective  facts  of their lives, a lack of self-consciousness, considerable vocalisation, a  propensity to noisy display generally,  a love of the  gaudy,   a  poor ability to handle abstract  reasoning, a failure to understand the consequences of actions, a weak sense of personal responsibility and a general sense of living in the moment.

White bias ? Well, apart from the objective evidence of  traits such as a disproportionate tendency to desert the mothers of their children, a lack of sexual continence resulting in the fathering of children with multiple mothers  and disproportionate criminality (The Bell Curve documents these traits in great detail)  it is possible to point to such things as  the content of rap music (the child’s wish to shock) and   the widespread addiction to  “bling” (the child‘s wish for display).  Nor is such behaviour the preserve of low status blacks but is common amongst high status blacks – see appendix C.

Take one trait, the propensity  for violence.  Blacks display this  to a high degree  whether  they are in the majority or the minority.  Sub-Saharan Africa since decolonisation is littered  with massacres,  ranging from the one million Hutus killed in  Rwanda to less organised slaughter in places such as the Congo and Sierra Leone.  In advanced states such as the USA  the black involvement in homicide, as both killer and victim,  is remarkable, viz:

“Around 8,000 of nearly 16,500 murder victims in 2005, or 49 percent, wereblack Americans, according to the report released by the statistics bureauof the Department of Justice.”. http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=070809202217.9us2orhu&show_article=1

Most of the killings of blacks were by blacks. The fact that blacks are so willing to kill other blacks whether or not they are in the majority or minority points to a general propensity for violence rather than one enhanced by white racism towards blacks or black racism towards whites.

The British experience is similar to the that of  the US.  In Britain it is  impossible to get  comprehensive  statistics on crimes by race – I have made strenuous efforts to do so using the British Freedom of Information Act but  without success. The next best thing is  personal research  using  the mainstream media. I  did  this for two years as a by product of  a column  entitled The Joy of Diversity which I wrote  for  the magazine Right Now! The column catalogued the immense ethnic mayhem  which  has become part of British life. To compile it I kept cuttings  of ethnic  misbehaviour and compared it with another file of  white crimes of  the same type.  The proportion of  murders, serious assaults and rapes, especially gang rapes, which  were committed by blacks was comically high. In the case of gang rapes of a victim of a different race to the rapists,  the rapists were almost always black -  I was unable to find a single instance of white gang  rape of a black victim. Shootings were overwhelmingly a black crime.

Behavioural  differences between blacks,  whites and Asians  have  been objectively measured. Prof  Rushton writes:  “Temperamental differences, measured  objectively by activity recorders attached to arms and  legs, show  up in babies.  African babies are more active sooner and  develop earlier than White babies who, in turn, are more active than East Asian babies.  Motor  behaviour  is  a  highly  stable  individual  difference variable.  Even among Whites,  activity level measured during free play shows highly significant negative correlations with IQ: more restrained children average higher intellects.”

There is nothing new about such ideas. Francis Galton mused about racial behavioural differences in the nineteenth century, while over a quarter of a century ago  Edward Wilson reported on studies by D G Freedman (1974,  1979)  on  new born   infants  which  “demonstrated  marked   racial   differences   in locomotion,  posture,  muscular tone and emotional response of  newborn infants  that cannot reasonably be explained as the result of  training or  even conditioning within the womb.  Chinese-American newborns,  for example, tend to be less changeable, less easily perturbed by noise and movement,  better  able to adjust to new stimuli  and  discomfort,  and quicker  to  calm  themselves than  Caucasian-American  infants.”  P274 Sociobiology;  Abridged version.

The fact that black babies develop more rapidly than whites and whites more  rapidly than Asians  probably explains why black children often appear advanced  when they are young and then seem to regress in relationship to whites and Asians as they get older.  They are probably not regressing but rather whites and Asians are attaining their full development at a later stage. An analogy can be made with the development of Man’s  nearest relative, the chimpanzee. A chimpanzee infant is  advanced compared with a human infant in the early stages of  their lives but soon falls back. The difference in racial development may be the consequence of the differing  average  brain sizes in blacks, whites and Asians (the larger the brain, the longer it takes to develop after birth), although there could be more subtle structural differences  which play a part.

Fluency of speech is particularly important for Prof Rushton because  he believes it misleads non-whites to overestimate black intelligence. He emphatically  concludes “…the  greater talkativeness of Blacks does not indicate brightness,  it often masks a low ability to reason  abstractly.”   I would agree with this.  Fluency  is  no guide to intelligence in itself because people can be fluent while saying little of significance. More sophisticated  speech can be produced  by those  of  no great  intellect simply by creating  a catalogue of  learned phrases and speeches in much the same way  that  a comedian will build up a library of jokes in their  memory -   politicians are the prime example of this.  It is also true that someone who  takes the   verbal lead,  especially in circumstances where people  are  often inhibited,   will  tend to influence  others simply because they  speak confidently when others do not.  (It  is  possible  to get some idea of a person’s  IQ  if  their speech   is analysed  properly.  The indicators of a decent IQ  will  be those  verbal behaviours which replicate the type of  mental  exercises found  in IQ tests,  for example,   the ability to follow or develop  a logical  train  of thought,  the ability to  spot  contradictions,  the ability  to  understand analogies and their strength or  weakness,  the competent    use   of  metaphor,   the  use  of  clever   puns   arising spontaneously,  the ability to understand and explain  complex  matters and   the ability to take new data and manipulate it intelligently  and rapidly.  In a social situation  the  presence or absence of such qualities will normally be missed, hence the over-estimate of black mental capacity).

In summary, blacks  find it difficult to live in high IQ societies where they are a minority because (1) having a low IQ in itself makes living in such a society difficult, (2) their inferior IQ distribution means that there are few members of their own racial group with respectable IQs to assist those with lower IQs and (3) their racial difference sets them apart from the majority high IQ population and consequently they cannot gain the support they require to live in a high IQ society from the majority high IQ population.

Where they are in the majority their natural inclinations and limitations drive them towards behaviour which is incompatible with a sophisticated society.

Their weaker IQ distribution and the “shape” of their IQ – relatively strong on verbal questions, relatively weak on non verbal questions – is such as to promote childlike behaviour, behaviour which is amplified by adult physicality and experience.   Other biological differences such as high testosterone levels may also amplify their naturally   immature behaviour .

When blacks live in advanced societies their innate tendency to behave in a manner which is, in the terms of an advanced society, anti-social, is amplified by their inability to compete with the higher IQ race(s) in the society.

27. A dysgenic future?

Since Hitler, unapologetic eugenics has  been  beyond the Pale in mainstream political and  academic discourse, although it chunters along unnamed in abortions for the genetically unfit and raises its  head occasionally in books such as The Bell Curve which explores the effects of differential breeding, mainly  in the USA,  and concludes that there is a risk  of a serious dysgenic  effect on national IQs.

The dysgenic effects feared by the Eugenics movement in white societies  in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were that much higher breeding rates of the less able (in practice defined as the poor) would bring about the degradation of the human stock of nations. This was a  false fear in the context of the racial make up of  white societies of the time because there is   a phenomenon known as reversion to the norm. This means that  higher IQ parents will tend to have children with lower IQs than their own, while lower IQ parents, i.e., those below the mean, will  tend to have children with IQs higher than those of the parents. The effect of this would be to roughly maintain the distribution of IQ in a population. Thus, if the poor, less able, call them what you will,  in  a population breed more freely than the more able, the long-term loss of intellectual resources in a population should be slight going on non-existent.  However, there is a nasty fly in the ointment: each racial group maintains its own IQ distribution regardless of where a particular population lives – the Japanese in America have the same IQ distribution as Japanese in Japan, blacks in Jamaica a similar distribution to those of sub-Saharan blacks.  Hence, a low IQ racial group  will remain trapped in its inferior IQ distribution Moreover, even with inter-racial breeding the average IQ  will still be depressed to a degree when people from lower IQ racial groups breed with a higher IQ group.

If a low IQ minority increases through immigration or breeding  at a faster rate than the high IQ majority three effects will be felt: (1) the intellectual resources of the country will decline, (2) an ever more substantial part of the  resources of the high IQ majority will have to be devoted to containing the effects of the low IQ minority and (3) there will be a tendency for members of the high IQ majority to emigrate to countries where there is either a smaller low IQ minority or the natural resources (especially land) of the country are greater, the consequence being to further reduce the intellectual resources of the country they are leaving. Increasing white flight from Britain in the first decade of the 21st century is a  good example of this trait.

If the  aggregate level of intelligence is what matters to the maintenance of  a sophisticated society,  there must be a point at which the society cannot be sustained  if the aggregate IQ is reduced below whatever is the  minimum level. This  is the danger which faces  advanced countries  which have experienced  and are experiencing large-scale immigration of low IQ races.

The different personality traits of blacks, whites and Asians may mean that the efficiency of a society composed of two or more of the races would be less than that of one composed of only one the race.  One race may perform better in a racially homogenous society than another, for example, perhaps it is more important for blacks to be in a homogenous society than whites or Asians because the IQ difference is simply too great for blacks to operate efficiently in a high IQ society.  Perhaps Asians with their reduced sociability have a greater need for formal order and find it difficult to integrate into   the comparatively free wheeling societies of whites,   although their superior  IQ  allows  them  to find  strategies  to  live  within  such societies without integration.    It may be that the marrying of   relatively high   sociability and high average IQ amongst whites means that they are best able of the three major racial groups to function with large minorities of the other racial groups within their society because the social forms they naturally create are more flexible than the societies created by blacks and Asians.   However, even if true, that would not mean that a mixed society is beneficial to whites, merely those whites are better able to accommodate minorities   and mitigate their ill effects.   (It is worth noting that the economic, political and cultural dominance of whites over the past 500 years has been accomplished by societies which enjoyed a very large degree of racial homogeneity).

Where one of the groups  in a population is much smaller than the other the larger will naturally dominate,  especially in public matters such as politics.  But where neither can naturally dominate how will things such as the political system  be determined?   Because of innate personality biases one racial group may naturally favour representative government, the other some form of authoritarian government. There is no obvious way of deciding the matter short of violence.

What is certain is that racially mixed societies will be less cohesive than racially homogenous ones.  The reason is obvious:   the natural sense of “tribal” solidarity is fractured.  People feel at best less natural sympathy with other racial groups and at worst a suspicion and antipathy to them.  Of course, it is not only racial difference which creates such a situation for ethnic differences, whether historical or cultural, can have a strong divisive quality.  But there is a fundamental difference between cultural and biological difference: the former is susceptible to  change  on a human time scale:, the latter is  not.  An immigrant of the same racial type as the majority population of the receiving country but of a different ethnicity  can have children who can  be assimilated  within a  generation  to the point where they are indistinguishable from the native majority. An immigrant of a different racial type  can remain set apart from  the receiving country’s majority population  indefinitely  if they  and their descendents  retain their racial type by breeding with others of the same race.

Ethnic solidarity is essential to the coherence and survival of a population.  In his “On Genetic Interests”, Frank Salter concludes “Territory is a collective fundamental good for  harmonising   familial and ethnic genetic interests and securing long-term genetic continuity”. This goes to the heart of ethnic solidarity and survival. This dictum applies to a large degree even where a  population does not have formal control of the territory because numerical dominance on the ground is nine parts of the biological law. Britain  provides a first rate example with the Welsh and Scots maintaining de facto territorial control of their territory.

The societies most at risk at present are white societies because it is they which have experienced and are continuing to experience mass immigration of racial groups which differ from their own majority populations.  Whites are also  displaying low fertility rates, most below replacement level,  while immigrant groups are generally  breeding  above replacement level, often well above replacement level.

Why  are whites showing such a disinclination to breed?  In part it is selfishness. In pre-modern  societies (including many still extant) Man  has frequently acted to restrict population at   the level of the individual,   particularly    by infanticide, a very widespread behaviour throughout history. It is not that great a leap in human behaviour for individuals to move from “I must kill this baby because I do not have the resources to raise it” or “to  try  to  raise  the child  will lessen the  chances  of  my  other children” to “I will not have a child because to do so will lessen my own chances of satisfying my own desires”.

This mentality is bolstered by any political ideology which exalts the individual and diminishes the coherence and importance of the ethnic group, whether that is a band, tribe or a nation. Liberal Internationalism is such a creed, which adds to overt individualist propaganda the effects of mass immigration and so-called free trade and free markets, all of   which attack the economic and territorial security of nations.  This increases the insecurity of  whites who breed  less freely  as a consequence.

But the position is more complex than simple ideology. Even in the more prosperous developing countries – where attitudes to breeding are still traditional – demographics are shifting towards the advanced country distribution. Clearly, increased prosperity and security is an important driver of reproductive change.  Longer  life spans also probably have an effect,  although exactly what is difficult to assess – if I had to venture a guess the effect would be that the longer the life the less feeling of urgency in the individual to breed.

There is also the question of what constitutes  genetic inheritance from a human standpoint – note I say from the human standpoint not what genetics  may tell us.  Because sexually reproducing organisms halve their genetic transfer every generation (more or less), the genetic inheritance  of  any  individual  is  soon diffused  to  the  point  of practical non-existence within the context of the ethnic group, although a significant   genetic similarity between members of an ethnic group and more broadly within a racial group continues.  Human beings unlike animals can be aware of this. Such people breed regardless of this fact and tend to favour to others genetically related to them tenuously if at all by blood, such as in-laws and  great grandchildren or grand nieces and, of course,  if the individual is not aware of the rapid genetic dilution he or she still shows such favour to those who are not genetically close.  What matters to the individual is the continuing of the genealogical line regardless of the genetic content of the line. It is the cultural transfer which counts.  No other animal has such an imperative.

Whatever the  reason for white  demographic decline  it does raise the question of what would be the objective consequences if whites  became greatly diminished in numbers and  power in the world or even vanished as a distinct race. Judged by the history of the world to date it would in all probability remove  from the world  the race most capable of  imaginative thought and invention.  That could mean  the future development of Man  took a much narrower and more limited course.

It is also true  that whites  majority societies  have been the only ones which have  meaningfully honoured the liberal with a small “l” values  which  have ameliorated the cruelty which is a normal part of most societies.  If  white dominated  societies  ceased to exist  through whites becoming the minority in them or because they have been so fragmented  by immigration  that the values are extinguished by ethnic strife, there can be no confidence that the values  would survive at all.

28 Conclusions

The general differences between societies plausibly express   the societal differences in IQ:  the more complex the society the greater the need for IQ related problem solving; the less complex, the greater the reliance on knowledge based behaviour. That is not to say that complex societies do not rely greatly on knowledge or that the simplest society allows no room for reasoning. Rather, it is  that the balance between IQ related problem solving and knowledge is differs according to the nature of the society.

If IQ is largely innate this raises some immensely difficult  moral questions for  any society.  Take away sentiment and  the hard truth is that on rational grounds no white or Asian society would want to host a large black population because that will substantially lower the average IQ of the society, with all the problems that brings in terms of anti-social behaviour and the loss of national intellectual capacity.

To say that the IQ distribution of a race implies  nothing  at the individual level may be pedantically true but  it does not alter the fact that if  a low IQ race is present in substantial numbers most will have low IQs.  In a high IQ society that is a problem  for such individuals because there is less opportunity  to lead a normal life for the low IQ individual. There is not self-evidently “a place for everyone”.

Richard Lynn and Tatu Vanhanen  provide a clear message:  some societies, and most particularly those with a predominately black population, simply do not have sufficient people with IQs high enough to sustain a modern society. There are two rational conclusions  to draw from their work.  The first is that it is pointless for advanced states to keep on trying to modernise countries with low IQ populations which   cannot sustain the sophisticated societies needed to maintain an advanced modern state and  those populations should be left to find their own level.

The second is that the only active intervention which might conceivably improve conditions in low IQ states is their  formal re-colonisation and permanent administration by the advanced states, for that at least would bring order and societies which had infrastructure which worked.

The first course of action has the difficulty of seeming cruel at worst and heartless at best.  The second is a political  non-starter because of the sacrifices those in the advanced states would have to make in terms of  money and personnel and the almost certain guerrilla resistance of at least  part  of  any  population  which was subject  to  an  attempt  at re-colonisation.

Lynn and Vanhanen’s remedy for the problem is the half-way house between decolonisation and doing nothing. They advocate transfers of wealth   and expertise from advanced high IQ societies to the IQ deficient ones.    Not only is this profoundly unlikely to be something the populations of   advanced states will tolerate for ever, but the experience of 40 years or more of vast amounts of Aid being poured into low IQ countries shows that such assistance is worse than useless because it invariably produces corrupt regimes and large Aid dependent populations.

If Lynn and Vanhanen are right, the cold reality is that there is currently no way of  radically changing the nature of  low IQ societies. Indeed, by feeding them with Aid  the donors are making matters worse because they help to increase the low IQ populations  vastly beyond  the level at which a viable society for the population could exist.   However,  low IQ populations may not be forever because even if  IQ is now substantially innate it may not be so in the future. It is probable that within the next fifty years genetic engineering, chemical manipulation, surgical alteration and cybernetics may provide humans with  the capacity to  raise the IQ of  those with low IQs. This would of course raise  immense moral questions as well as practical difficulties such as who would  provide the expertise and materials needed to change the IQ of hundreds of millions of people.

Other things being equal, the vast majority of adults would seek the highest  IQ for their child, or if the alteration could done after birth at any age, to seek the highest IQ for  themselves and  their children.   It is also true that in an society where there was any meaningful democratic expression it would be impossible for a government to deny such engineering to those who wanted it.

But it probably would not be left to the individual. If some  states positively insist on altering the IQ of  their entire populations, this would lead to fears that any country which did not follow suit would be left behind in the competitive struggle between societies. Alternatively, manipulation of IQ could be selfishly  used by elites to create a permanent advantage for themselves. Not a pretty future to contemplate.

Appendix A White men can  run

“Let’s start with the biological differences in sports, which is something almost everyone observes. Jon Entine’s recent book Taboo: Why Black Athletes Dominate Sports and Why We Are Afraid to Talk About It, addresses the old cliché that “White men can’t jump” (and the new one that Oriental men jump even less well). Entine shows that in sports, it is Black men and women who can sky! And yet, as the data also show, it is mainly Blacks of West African descent who excel at running over short distances, while Blacks of East African descent – from Kenya and Ethiopia – excel at marathon running over long distances. These differences between East and West Africans show that taking an average can sometimes gloss over important distinctions. Still, Blacks from both East and West Africa excel at one or another kind of running. In sports, Blacks as a group, have a genetic advantage. “ J Phillipe Rushton http://theoccidentalquarterly.com/images/jpr21-chart1.jpg

The idea that blacks are inherently more athletic than whites  (and even more so than Asians) is widely  accepted as true even in academic circles  which deal with racial difference.  People look at the finals  of  track events at the Olympics and  see a disproportionate number of  blacks, especially in the sprint events, and conclude that this correlation between race and  athletics winners proves the case for black athletic supremacy. The problem with this  conclusion is that it  is merely a correlation and a correlation which has not been subjected to rigorous examination.

There are good reasons to suspect that black athletic  advantage  does not exist.  In the late  nineteen seventies and eighties the 800 and 1500 metres events  were dominated  by whites such as Seb Coe, Steve Ovett and Steve Cram. Their times look good today – Coe’s 800 metre record only went a few years ago.  The current Olympic 400 metres champion is  the  white man Jeremy Warriner. The 200 metres at the  Sydney Olympics was won by a white man  the Greek Kostas Kenteris. When the black Michael Johnson (arguably  the greatest track athlete of the past  half century) won the 400 metres in the Atlanta Olympics he was followed home in second place by the white Roger Black.

If whites can  compete  successfully as the people mentioned above competed , clearly whites are not genetically incapable of beating even the best black athletes. Of course,  there is still the question of whether one race is on average more naturally endowed with  athletic ability than others,  but if  there are substantial  numbers of whites who win  at the highest level and set times which blacks do not beat either at all or by much, then it is reasonable to question  whether whites are on average inherently inferior as athletes. The starting point for such questioning should be  the numbers participating in athletics in the various disciplines and their racial and class distribution.

Fifty years ago most  Olympic  track winners  were white. Then as decolonisation took place  and multiculturalism gripped  hold of  places such as the USA and Britain, more and more black athletes entered  track athletics. They began to dominate  the  sprints, then the longer distances. The question is did blacks  begin to dominate because  they were inherently superior to whites or because the number of whites  taking up track athletics was  far fewer than the number of blacks doing so?  An analysis of overall numbers is required.  I  have been unable to identify such an analysis.

Then there is the question of class. Athletics has  the reputation of  being a largely middleclass pursuit for whites in the West, while black athletes  are perceived as coming from poorer backgrounds. If these perceptions are correct,  the white athletes are being drawn from a much smaller  population. An analysis of  the class of athletes is  required. Again, no such analysis appears to exist.

During the time of the  Soviet Union those countries which came  within the European Communist bloc were concerned with winning as many medals as possible. This pushed them to concentrate on the events which were less competitive and more  susceptible to coaching because of their highly technical nature. These were the field events such as the javelin and high-jump. This further reduced the number of white athletes  potentially available to compete in track events.

Athletic scholarships  may also have a role in promoting  black  athletes, especially in the USA. Political correctness  may have caused these to be given to blacks disproportionately. An analysis of  how scholarships are  awarded, for example, are they formally or informally reserved for blacks?   Similar exercises are needed for  charities who  make awards to athletes  and for bodies which dispense taxpayer funded aid to athletes.

If a human activity becomes dominated by one  race,  ethnic group or class, there is a tendency  for those outside  whatever the group it is to cease trying to engage in the activity.  If  blacks have done  disproportionately well in  sprinting  over the past forty years,  whites will  tend to drop the idea of even trying to enter competitive sprinting.

That blacks do not all excel in the same type of  events is a pointer to a cultural rather than a genetic reason for  their disproportionate success in recent decades. The idea that blacks from the West Coast  of Africa have one advantage and blacks from the East Coast another  is rather odd bearing in mind the size of Africa and the racial diversity found there. It would make sense to say this local population group had this advantage and another that advantage if the groups were isolated  (this might be the explanation for the island of Jamaica‘s remarkable record of producing great sprinters), but  it stretches credulity to believe the entire continent below the Sahara  is divided by different types of  genetic athletic advantage, especially as it is known that there have been in historic times  large scale movements of people  who originated in West  and central Africa to Southern and Eastern Africa (the Bantu peoples).

The fact that East Africans shine in middle distance events  is plausibly  a consequence of the fact that Kenyan  government put considerable resources into promoting  middle distance running after the success of Kip Keino.  It is noteworthy that the rest of East Africa has not produced an army of  such athletes and that many of the outstanding runners of the past ten years have not be East Africans but north Africans who are racially very different.

Even the claim that most top black sprinters  come from West Africa is debatable. Slaves were taken from deep into the heart  of Africa. Most of the black top sprinters come from the USA or the Caribbean.  Many have a white admixture. Very few West Coast Africans are top sprinters, despite large numbers of West Coast Africans  who have emigrated to the West.

The fact that many top “black” athletes are of mixed white/black parentage is telling. Why should that be if blacks have an innate athletic advantage?  Surely  the less white blood the better?

Finally, there is the  question of drugs. Many sprinters have tested  positive for drugs  in the past thirty years. Most of those have been black,  an unsurprising fact because most  top sprinters  have been black during that period. Many others have provided tests which suggested drug use without being sufficiently high to fail a drug test.

The physiques  of most black sprinters  in the past twenty years in particular have looked suspiciously like  those of bodybuilders, a group which is notorious  for using drugs such as steroids. Unless the truth about drug use in the period of black sprinting ascendancy  is known, and it probably never will be,  it is difficult to assess exactly what is the natural athletic ability of a runner.

Appendix B Digital technology

Technological  change  has been  making  increasingly  severe   demands  on  human beings for around 300 years. There  was change before then of course, but it was slow and most people   could live their lives without  having to adapt to radically   new ways of living.

Things  began to speed up as the Industrial Revolution began and an argument can be made that the century  1815 and 1914  saw  more radical technological  qualitative  change than any generation before or since. But  that  change  was the difference between living in  a  still  largely  pre-industrial society (in 1815) and  an  industrial     society  in its  early middle age (in 1914).  Moreover,  the  change  did  not actually require the vast  majority  of  the  population to master complicated machines at their work,  let  alone in their own homes.

In  1914 the most complicated machine most people had to operate was probably the telephone and vast swathes  of the population would not even have had to go that far into  the  world  of technology. Not only that, because  machines  then were either mechanical or part mechanical,  i.e.,  not   electronic, just looking at the way a machine was made  often allowed the intelligent  observer to have a fair guess at how  it  worked and to see  what had  gone  wrong  if it malfunctioned.  Even  work-related machines which required skilled operators, such as  machine  lathes,  were not   fundamentally difficult to understand, although the dexterity  required to operate them often took time to acquire.

Things remained essentially  the same until  the advent of personal computers and the widespread use of digital technology.  Machines became   more and more predominant in advanced societies but they were   not,   in  most  instances,  complicated  to  use. This  was  particularly  true  of those machines used in  private  life.  Telephones just required the user  to dial;  washing machines  had  a  start  button and nothing else; televisions  and radios  simply needed switching  on;  cars were simply  designed to travel. Then came digital technology.

Computers are like no other machine ever invented. They have  a  unique combination of  an unparalleled public and  private   use  and   a  central importance to  economic  activity and public  administration.   The  potential  penalties  for  the   failure  of these machines  are vastly greater than  for  any   other  piece  of  technology.   Not  only  can  an  immediate   application  of a computer be ended,  as can happen with  all  machines,  but  computer users also  risk  losing  networking  capacity  and, if they have not useable backed up copies  of   their computer data, the loss of their entire records and conceivably the loss of the means to continue their business. Computer users are also vulnerable to outside sabotage though hacking  and viruses.   No other machine has ever  exposed a society to such risks through its ubiquity and vulnerability to outside influences.

These machines are also vastly more demanding of time than   any  other  machine  ever  used  by  the   general   public. To  master computers to the  degree where a person does not lie helplessly in the hands of  experts  is a  demanding and continuing   task.   It is unlikely that many could or would manage it  without making  computers their  profession.   In fact,   even   supposed  computer  professionals   are   only   knowledgeable in   their  specialist  areas:   a   hardware  specialist has no deep knowledge of software and vice versa, while programmers long ago lost any detailed understanding of an entire program. It is also true that many self described IT experts are anything but. They get by with a small amount of IT knowledge  because of the general level of ignorance amongst the general public and the fact that most problems can be overcome by re-booting or by  reinstalling programs.

The computer age  is a stunningly  recent   phenomenon.  Most people even in the West   would  not  have   used  a  computer before 1985.  Probably a majority  had  not   done  so by 1990.  By the end of the 1980s  the nearest  most   would have got to a computer  would probably have been   bank  ATM  machines.  The internet was esoteric and laborious,  the   web barely more than a gleam in Tim Berners-Lee’s eye.   Even    in  the  world  of  employment  computers  were  still   used   sparingly.

As  with  computers actually called computers,  so with the other machines which  cause much  grief now.   The mobile phone was  a status symbol  and   the size of a brick, while  landline phones were still phones   boringly   restricted   to   simply   phoning   rather   than    mini-computers with a tendency to bemuse.   Microwaves had  a  simple   choice  of power.  Refrigerators did  not  offer  to  remind  you  of  what needed to be ordered.  TVs   tended  to  simply work when switched on.

In  the past 15 years all this has dramatically changed.   We  are in  a world in which computers are absolutely integral   to  business and public administration and they are  now  the  norm rather than the exception in homes.  For most people, it  is  literally impossible to escape them.   Worse,  they  have  become ever more complex to use and invade ever  more  of our lives as microprocessors are inserted  into  the most unlikely things such as clothes.  Machines  generally   are more demanding. To use This has profound implications for  people  both in  high IQ and low IQ societies.

Even to use computers at a low level  of expertise, such as using a word processor to its  full capacity and  sending email  efficiently , requires  a degree of concentration and  knowledge with which  a substantial minority are uneasy.  More demanding activities such as  spreadsheet  use  or the construction of a database  are inaccessible to the majority. Most  people  have only a  minimal knowledge of the  capacities of their operating system . This lack of expertise  afflicts the young as well as the old, which suggests that this is going to be a permanent  problem because the young have grown up with computers.

Of  the commonly used programmes  search engines  are particularly interesting from the point of view of IQ. Everyone  who uses a computer can use a search engine at some level, but  the skill with which they use search engines varies massively.  This is unsurprising because the search engine is  the  commonly used program which most calls upon IQ related abilities.  It relies not simply on knowledge but  also  problem solving. To perform a function in a word processor  requires the user  to apply inert knowledge, go to this menu, use this function etc. To use a search engine efficiently for anything but a simple search for a certain website  requires the ability to formulate questions  in the most pertinent way.  I never ceased to be amazed how at many people  use search engines ineptly, often comically so. I should not be amazed of course because the ability to do so is IQ dependent.

The implications for those with a low IQ are these: the lower the IQ, the more the person will struggle in an advanced society because the use of computers is increasingly inescapable.  In a high IQ society the low IQ individual will struggle but the society  as a whole will  manage. In a low IQ society there will simply not be the IQ firepower to sustain a society based on digital technology.  In a high IQ society  the low IQ part of the population will be left increasingly in a technological no man’s land, unable to competently use the technology but forced to use it simply to live.

The constant learning process

Personal  computing  began in the mid  seventies. A  person  starting then would have had to learn the BASIC  programming language.   By the early eighties they would have been using DOS. By 1990s Windows   expertise  was  necessary.   Since  1990  successive   editions  of  Windows  have  varied  considerably  from   the  previous version requiring further learning.

What  goes for  operating systems applies also to most  other programs,   which   when  they  are   upgraded   often   bear    surprisingly little  resemblance to the  version  prior  to  them.  Certainly,  if one moves from an old   program   to  a version  which has been uprated twice, the chances are  that knowledge  of the original program will be of little use  in  understanding the new one.

Apart from the effort needed to constantly learn new programs  and to attend to such things as installations of software and hardware, the other great drawback of computers is the amount of time which can be spent on maintenance.  It is all too easy to find a  day  or  two  slip by just sorting out a single relatively  simple  computer problem or learning how to use a new program.

The nature of what is to be learned

The burden  of learning is   especially heavy because of  the  nature of that which is to be learned. This  is what might be termed   dead information.   There is no  intrinsic  interest in what is to be learned. It is merely a means to an end.  To operate  a program all that is needed is a knowledge of   the  menus  and  function keys.   That is precisely  the  type  of   information  which  is least palatable to  the  normal  human  mind.  Hence,  it is the least easy to learn for most people.    The  computer is in effect forcing human beings to  act  like  computers, something utterly alien to them.

Intelligence  is  of  little  use on its own.  Computers  are  information   driven  machines.  Put the most intelligent man in the world before a   computer  and  he  will  be utterly helpless  if  he  has  no  computer  experience.  Even  if the  man  has  some  computer   experience,  he will be as incapable of using  a completely   unfamiliar type of program as the dullard.

The substitution of function for intellect

That  computers are function rather than intelligence  driven  is  objectively  demonstrated  by the fact that all  of  what   might be called the administrative  operations of a  computer – file management,  loading of programs etc -  could be  done by a computer program.

When I watch the young using computers,  obvious or disguised in the shape of phones and the like,  I get a feeling of deep  unease.  They  so  obediently pull down  menus  and    select   options  that I wonder at the difference between them  and  a  robot.  The  machine is driving the human being at  least  as   much  as  the  human  being is  driving  the  machine;  brute  machine functionality is replacing intellect.

There  is  only so much any human being can  learn,  both  in terms  of time and mental impetus.  If increasing amounts  of  both are required by computers simply to operate them,  where  will that leave intellectual development?    Worse,  will the  ability  to  operate  machines become  to  be seem as the  most  important activity of  human beings?

The myth of youthful expertise

It  is true that those who have grown up with  computers  are   more  comfortable  with the machines than those who  came  to them in adult life – the latter still comprise, more than 50 per cent of the population. It is worth noting.   However,  the idea  that  the young  generally  have any  substantial understanding of  computers is dubious going on simply wrong. A recent survey  by the global market-research company Synovate, reported:

“We found that people tended to fit into one of three categories: 27 per cent are what we call ‘cybernauts’ – people who like to be ahead of the game in terms of technology. However, the majority, 53 per cent, are ‘average Joes’. They don’t love technology per se, but view it as a facilitator – it helps them to communicate or entertain themselves. They tend to use it in quite a functional way, such as emailing, banking or shopping online. Then there are 20 per cent who we describe as ‘digital dissidents’, meaning they actively dislike using technology and avoid it wherever possible.” Daily Telegraph 30 6 2007  The myth of the MySpace generation.

The  young know how to use the internet and web,  can work  a  word processor and  use programs which really interest  them.  But  let  their   computer develop  a  fault   which  renders Windows  unstable or unusable or  a piece of hardware  fails,  and  they are,  in most cases,  as helpless  the  generations which did not grow up with computers.

What  the young do have which  older people do not  have   is group  knowledge.  A schoolchild of today can call  on  the computer  knowledge of their peer group and the assistance of   teachers.  Those  a little older who are in work  still  have   their  peer  group  to  help them   if  they  get  stuck.  In  addition,  if they work for a large employer they can call on the  expertise  of the employer’s IT  department  or  service contractors.

Computers  have only been in schools since the mid  eighties.  Anyone over the age of forty (arguably,  over the age of  35)   will  not  have  a  peer group on  whom  they  can  call  for  assistance  with  computers  (and  other  machines)   because   almost  all  of  those  they  know  well  will  be  of  their approximate  age  – few people have  close  friendships  with  those who are  much younger than themselves – and the  people   who  are  their age will have little computer  experience  or knowledge.   The  best they can hope for is  assistance  from  their children if they have any,  and then it is pot luck  as   to how computer competent those children are and how  willing  they  are  to help the parent.   If an older  person  has  no  compliant computer literate children and  does not work for a   large employer,  he or she will  be utterly isolated from the   knowledge   needed   to  deal  with even   basic computer developments.

The  science  fiction writer Arthur C Clarke  pointed  out  a  good few years ago that there comes  a point with  technology  when it became indistinguishable from magic for all but the initiates. The dangers of that are obvious: for that which is not generally understood  gives the few who do understand a power over those who do not.  That potentially gives private corporations and governments a great stick with which to beat   their  customers  and citizens into  submission,  either  for  profit or political power.

Where the technology is as vital and central to a society  as  computers  have  become,   there  is  the  further  and  more   fundamental  risk   of society reaching a  state  where   the   technology  can  no longer be either properly  maintained  or  controlled.

Appendix  C Two high status blacks

“You’re a child: that’s what makes you so f**king scary”. The character Dr Nicholas Geharty to Idi Amin in the film The last king of Scotland.

The interesting thing about the quote for our purposes is the “You’re a child”.  That is precisely what Amin was, from his love of self-awarded titles (“His Excellency,  President for Life,  Field Marshall Al Hadji, Dr Idid Amin,  VC,  DSO,  MC,  Lord of all the Beasts  of the Earth and Fishes of the Sea, Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and  Uganda  in particular”  was his full honorific  catalogue)  to  his often murderous outbreaks of personal violence.

Amin’s general  behaviour cannot even be described as adolescent: it is pre-pubescent,  for example,  his roll  of titles is  the sort of  list that  a  young boy might make when playing,  his   acts  of murderous  personal  violence  an   extension   of   a  child’s  temper tantrum.   Of course, having the body of an adult with its strength and adult sexual appetites and a greater experience of life generally  than a  child,  Amin’s behaviour did not exactly replicate that of a  child, but it was still  childlike.   His adult additions to the armoury of  a child’s abilities  did not make Amin  more adult,  but rather  provided him with new means of expressing his childlike nature.  That was  what made him,  in Geharty’s words  “so f**king scary”. A child in a child’s body  with  a toy gun is one thing: a child in an adult’s body  with  a real gun quite another.

That Amin should have behaved in the fashion he did should surprise  no one.  Lynn  and  Vanhanen  give the average  IQ  of  Ugandans   as  73. The behaviour  Amin displayed is precisely that which one would expect from someone with an IQ around that number, namely, that of a child.

Of course Amin  is just one example,  but his  behavioural traits are  found throughout  black Africa and everywhere else where blacks are found  in large numbers.  It does not matter whether one looks at  blacks  living in   the  poorest black African state or blacks living in  an  advanced First World state, the same things are found: a disproportionately high incidence   of   violence, general  criminality,   poor   educational achievement,  poor  work record (either broken or in low  grade  jobs), high  benefit dependency  (where  available),   sexual   incontinence, desertion  of children by fathers and women with children by  different fathers. These traits show through strongly even where the black is in a privileged position.

Take the life of the  soul singer James Brown who died  in 2007. Brown was born in the USA to  a mother who abandoned him when he was four.  His father handed him  over to his aunt Minnie  who in turn shifted him on to another aunt who ran a  brothel in Augusta.  Brown spent his formative years in the  brothel and developed a penchant for petty crime. So persistent was this behaviour that  at the age  of 15 he received an 8-16 year sentence.   Brown  actually  served three years and turned to crime again when he came out, although he was also trying to forge a musical career at the same time.

So  far  so explicable many readers will be thinking:  a  boy  and  man shaped by his dismal childhood.  The first thing to say in response  to that is that the mother’s desertion of her child,  the father’s  giving away  of  the child and the first aunt’s moving on of the  child  to  a brothel are symptomatic of one particular black behaviour, child desertion. The second thing is that when  Brown’s  life took a great turn for  the  better,  his  delinquent behaviour did not vanish.

Brown’s musical career took off in 1956 when he was 23.  From that time onwards he enjoyed great material success and celebrity for the rest of his life.  One might have imagined that his troubles  with the criminal law  were behind him.  Not a bit of it.  Here is his   Daily  Telegraph obituary:  “Throughout  his  career Brown had  brushes  with  the  law, culminating  in  a  six-year jail sentence  in 1988  for  assault  with intent  to  kill,  drunken driving and other traffic offences.  He  had burst  into  a  business conference at a hotel toting  a  shotgun   and accusing someone of having used his private bathroom.  There followed a 100mph police chase  which ended with the police shooting out the tyres of his pick-up truck.”  (DT 26 12 2006).  Brown was 55 at the time  yet still behaving like a child, his response to a trivial matter – the use of  his  private bathroom – being  stupendously  disproportionate.   In short,  neither age nor his change of circumstances from petty criminal to successful celebrity resulted in a change of mentality.  Of  course, it could be argued that his childhood conditioned his  adult behaviour, but  I  cannot readily think of any white or Asian  celebrity  who  has carried youthful violent criminality into their late middle age.  It is worth  adding  that he was reputedly regularly violent to  his  various wives, of which he had four.

 

Public and private confusion (and, yes, there is an alternative)

I wrote Public and Private Confusion in 2006, before the credit crisis, before even Northern Rock was saved by the taxpayer. NuLabbour’s mania for privatising anything in sight was in full spate, mostly, because the Tories had privatized all of the great state industries,  through contracting out public services piecemeal and the greatly expanded use of private money in public projects to build things such as new schools and hospitals using the Public Private Partnerships (PPP) and the Private Finance Initiative (PFI). Public spending was still burgeoning , although anyone who looked closely at the still continuing fool’s paradise which was Gordon Brown’s boom could see that NuLabour’s public spending was seriously out of control as they looked at the deficits Labour had been running since 2002 – https://livinginamadhouse.wordpress.com/2011/10/02/labour-re-writes-the-past-their-economic-management/ . But the British public did not know the half of it when it came to the government debt being built up, because the frighteningly large PPP and PFI obligations were  still largely hidden as they were mostly off the government books Enron-style.

The latest quantification of PFI liabilities alone is £300 billion (http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/jul/05/pfi-cost-300bn) and that could well be an under estimate because of many of the contracts have renegotiation clauses at certain points and the PFI contractors,  or those who have bought PFI contracts as they are sold on by the original supplier,  hold the taxpayer over a barrel because the state no longer has the capacity to either undertake the work itself.  Even where a re-negotiation clause does not exist or does exist but the point is years away, it is a common PFI practice for contractors to threaten to walk away from a contract unless their terms are improved. There are also the costs arising where contractors do walk away from a contract and the state has to step in or pay another contractor even more inflated prices for the work.

The most troubling result of PFI costs is hospital trusts unable to fund themselves adequately because of the ludicrous amounts they have to pay for PFI work (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2165011/PFI-Cancel-contracts-MPs-signed-dock.html), but there is another major problem: the inability of PFI contractors to undertake work efficiently or, as we have seen with the G4S fiasco and their inability to provide security for the Olympics. So lax were their recruitment methods their chief executive could not say if all those recruited could speak English fluently  or even at all (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/olympics/news/9399841/Olympics-I-dont-know-if-guards-speak-English-says-G4S-chief.html).

Despite a change of government, PFI contracts are still being signed in large numbers by the Coalition (http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/press_22_11.htm). More and more public core services which the vast majority of Britons would think naturally belong in public hands such as police support and large scale security operations are being taken from the public sector and given to private contractors. In addition, strategic assets such as the Government’s stake in stake in nuclear power giant Urenco continue to be sold off (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/8817089/Taxpayers-3bn-windfall-as-Urenco-nears-10bn-sale.html). In short, nothing but nothing, including even the armed forces, can be considered safe from the mania for turning public service into private business. The situation is substantially worse now than it was in 2006  in terms of the PFI debt being run up, the privatisation of essential public services by stealth (especially the NHS) and the intention to sell off  what remains of substantial public assets, most notably the Royal Mail,  in the medium term.

The purpose of Public and Private Confusion was and is to examine what needs to remain in public hands, what should be brought back into public hands, how public service might be improved and the effects of privatisation in all its guises.

Robert Henderson 23 July 2012

————————————————————————————————————————————–

Public and Private Confusion

(And, yes, there is an alternative)

Robert Henderson 2006

Contents

1. Introduction

2. What are governments for?

3. Why do we need public provision?

4. Public provision is a good deal

5. The moral value of general provision

6. Why should those who can pay for themselves pay for others?

7. What things should be public?

8. What should be provided directly by the state?

9. What should be provided indirectly by the state?

10. The railways – a classic public service

11. Safety

12. Public and private efficiency

13. What do we mean by efficiency?

14. Private enterprise providing public service

15. Public service inefficiencies and politicians

16. Other public service inefficiencies

17. What should public service workers be paid?

18. The right to strike

19. The ability of private companies to manage public services

20. Private money in public projects – “Buy now, pay later”

21. The London Underground – PPP in action

22. Capita

23. The morality of privatisation

24. Our general experience of privatisation to date

25. Private money in public service = a democratic deficit

26. When private becomes public by default

27. Corruption in public service

28. The behaviour of private companies

29. Charities

30. Does the market produce greater choice generally?

31. How government takes on obligations

32. Making personal private provision – the problems of investing

33. Supporting old age

34. The housing crisis

35. Social housing

36. Education ?

37. Healthcare

38. The Post Office and Royal Mail

39. How do we pay for better public services?

40. Does social provision corrupt?

41. Why is public provision being repudiated?

42. The nation state – the only vehicle for democracy

43. The future of public provision

44. Conclusion

1. Introduction

I was provoked into writing Public and Private Confusion both by the Blair Government’s manic dismantling of directly provided public services and increasing signs that political support for public services however provided is waning.

Those with a public voice who oppose such developments all too often wail and gnash their teeth and say how unfair and immoral it is but fail to provide detailed arguments against those who have swallowed the propaganda of private is always best. They lament privatisation and the increasing introduction of private money and

companies into public services, yet defend their position solely by moral exhortation and displays of emotion, as though to merely be on the side of direct public provision, any public provision, is argument enough.

How did we reach this state of affairs? The four decades after 1945 seemed to have made substantial public provision part of the national furniture. Even the Thatcher years did not seriously suggest that it would be generally undermined. The privatisation of the nationalised industries were one thing for Thatcher; services such

as the NHS and the Post Office quite another. Her government was driven by the batty idea of introducing entirely inappropriate private enterprise practices such as the NHS “internal market” into public service, but there was through her long period in office no reason to fear that fundamental services like the NHS and Post Office would be privatised. Indeed, Thatcher said that the privatisation of the Post Office would be “a privatisation too far.”

The consequence was that the supporters of public provision became smug. They assumed that the core elements of public provision were inviolate and consequently not in need of defending. Most damagingly, at the political level they failed to prevent both the Labour and Tory Parties from being firmly captured by those determined to introduce the supposed panacea of the disciplines of the market into public life. By the time Blair came to power in 1997 the supporters of direct public provision in politics and the media found themselves marginalised.

Since 1997 it has become increasingly clear that direct public provision is viewed by those in control of the major political parties as a bad thing in itself and that the only way forward is to subcontract private companies to do the work the state was previously doing. This is a consequence of several things: the failure of greatly increased public spending since 1997 to improve public services; the increasing demands of the EU to reduce direct state funding; and the seemingly religious belief in globalism displayed by Blair himself. (I expand on these issues in section 41).

To facilitate the move from direct public to subcontracted public provision, the public is being fed a continuous diet of bad news about the directly provided public services by the mainstream media, the majority of which is all too willing to climb on the “public service bad, private enterprise good” bandwagon. (The mainstream media has overwhelmingly bought into the free-market propaganda – ask yourself, when did you last read a newspaper article or watch a TV programme which concluded that “free markets” and “free trade” are undesirable because of their adverse consequences for substantial parts of the populations of the First World, whose natural employments are lost and whose lives are made generally insecure).

Because of its natural importance and central place in the hearts of the electorate, the NHS is the biggest and most gory source of “shock horror” stories. Every horror story about the NHS is paraded on the front pages, while the frequent errors made by private medicine rate barely a mention. The fact that any organisation as gigantic as the NHS – it employs the better part of a million people – will inevitably be the source of regular errors is barely mentioned and almost no attempt is made to place the level of failure in that context. Not only that, many of the “scandals” are less than scandals when they are looked at in detail.

There is also an increasing loud and ever more unguarded attempt by politicians and sections of the media to suggest that the Welfare State is “too expensive” in its present form to survive and that people must make much more private provision for things such as pensions and healthcare.

Sadly, the direct public provision case is now largely going by default, which is enraging because it is very strong, both as a moral necessity for a civilised and free society and as a practical necessity to maintain the efficient functioning of a modern industrial state. That is case which I have attempted to supply.

2. What are governments for?

The traditional areas of government have been defence, foreign affairs, policing, the provision of justice, the execution of legal judgements including criminal sentences, the collection of taxes and the allocation of those taxes to the public enterprises mentioned above. But long before the rise of the modern industrialised state, the more organised and effective governments recognised that something beyond this minimalist role of government was desirable, not least because underlying any society is a fear of civil disorder (which might overthrow the status quo) and crime if there are too many have-nots (this was one of the primary reasons for Imperial Rome providing a daily dole of bread to its citizens.) England has had a legally enforceable national welfare system since 1601. In the sixteenth century, enclosure of mediaeval open fields and the dissolution of the monasteries drove many from the land and removed most of the informal welfare system which had long existed through the charitable works of monasteries. The consequence was the creation of a large number of “sturdy beggars” (a substantial rise in the population of England at the time was a considerable aggravating factor). This drove the Tudors to introduce various Acts which attempted to both restrict the movement of the poor and to provide for them. These efforts culminated in the 1597 and 1601 Poor Laws. These Acts, for the first time anywhere in the world, created legally enforceable provision for the poor for an entire nation (although it took half a century or more to get the Poor Law generally enforced).

Along with the fear of social disorder ran the natural feelings of pity and moral obligation, feelings bolstered by the custom of hospitality and of a religion which enjoined a duty of alms-giving to the poor. Such sentiments were gradually assimilated into public policy.

Of course, the national and political desire to provide for the poor and the unfortunate has been massively enlarged in the centuries since the Elizabethan Poor Law was passed. In Britain, we think that everyone in our society should have the necessities of life – food,shelter, warmth, clothing, preferably from their own efforts in part or whole, but where necessary from the taxpayer. The vast majority of Britons believe that these things are desirable, although there are differences of opinion over the extent and nature of the provision.

But most Britons – both at the political level and as a large majority of the population – also think that a good deal of other state provision should exist, not merely for the poor or unfortunate but for every citizen. We recognise that there are other things which the state should do beyond maintaining the integrity of the state and providing the basic means of subsistence. These are enterprises which are deemed to be both for the public good and in need of public action because private provision will not do them at all or only do them inadequately.

We expect the roads to be maintained by the state because that increases the efficiency of commerce and industry and enhances private life (most of the population probably think the same of railways.) We believe that no one should be left without medical treatment within the limits of what can be reasonably afforded. We think it necessary that the population should be educated to a certain level because that is essential for the individual’s chances in life and because a modern industrial society requires educated people. The more thoughtful see education as a civilising process which has general value for a society.

Equality before the law, or even justice itself, is a special case of social provision because it requires social provision for it to exist. Unless the state provides the means for each individual to have equal access to the law to remedy a wrong and to have equal access to professional legal assistance when they are a defendant in either a criminal or civil case, there is no equality before the law. All legal assistance must be free, because otherwise there is no equality for an individual will either not be able to afford the assistance or be deterred from seeking it because of the cost.

Law exists to provide a peaceful alternative to private action to right hurts and no defendant has a choice of whether they are defendant. Those two facts should be remembered by those who balk at the idea of universal legal aid. Sadly, legal aid in Britain, although still generous compared with many countries, is inadequate and is being reduced.

All social provision, from the supplying of basic needs such as food and shelter to education, has a further role. In a reputed democracy, each person is supposed to be an autonomous human being capable of both existing and of making decisions about who shall govern and what shall be done. A person constantly wracked with the uncertainty of poverty and the fear of ill-health or insecure employment will have little time to devote to anything other than surviving. A person denied a formal education will probably be illiterate and have a poorly developed intellect. To possess such disadvantages in our world is effectively to be excluded both from the more comfortable and influential parts of society and, consequently, from politics. And such disadvantage follows down the generations, with the children of the poor taking on the privations of the parents.

If we are to have a meaningful democracy, or more exactly a representative system (elective oligarchy) which allows the masses to exercise meaningful democratic control over the elite through their votes, every member of the electorate has, ideally, to be in a condition whereby they both have the time to consider matters beyond the everyday and the education to understand matters of public policy. The ideal is of course unobtainable, but many more will be brought closer to such a condition if supported and encouraged by public provision than if left solely to the vagaries of private provision. It is worth noting that historically elites have generally been opposed to expanding the intellectual world and material standing of the masses. There is a good if immoral reason for this: the poorer and less educated a population, the easier it is for the elite to control it.

3. Why do we need public provision?

Why do we need public provision? Why cannot we live in the type of world envisaged by extreme libertarians, who imagine that everything could be supplied through private arrangements and charity? The short answer is that private provision never provides universality of provision or anything approaching it. We know this because all the experience of history shows no case where private provision has met the general need.

Most societies at most times have had no state provision for welfare. In those societies private charity has invariably fallen not merely short but far short of meeting need. Periodic famine, illiteracy, untreated illness and poverty have been the all too common lot of the masses throughout history. Unless a society is willing to allow people to starve, suffer and remain uneducated – and no politician in a modern western country would openly espouse such an idea – the only answer is state provision to assist those who cannot afford to pay or who are unable to find charity. Consequently, it is pointless asking the question could private charity and individual effort provide a better general service in the provision of this or that vital service than public enterprise because private charity and individual enterprise will and can never provide comprehensive provision.

The extreme ideologues who advocate private action as the only legitimate means of providing social goods invariably fail to meaningfully acknowledge the elephant in the room, namely, what happens to those who are unable to buy what they need or who cannot obtain charity? When pressed they claim that the abolition of tax, or at least its reduction to the low levels needed to maintain a minimalist state, would allow charity to rise to a sufficient level to meet all demands for social provision. The fact that this has never happened in the entire history of the world does not concern them. Like Marxists who still claim that communism only requires the right circumstances to be realised, the supporters of private provision remain convinced that their utopia is just waiting to be realised if only society was ordered by their rules (It is worth noting that a utopian libertarian society could only exist if all other political ideas were suppressed).

What can we say to these vaulting optimists who appear to be oblivious to the facts of human psychology and sociology? These extreme disciples of the free market, civil society and private charity should remember that even the Messiah of laissez faire economics, Adam Smith, allowed that there were things of purely economic concern which could not be left to private provision because it was inadequate, for example the maintenance of the roads. Smith also recognised that there was more to life than economic relationships and that the social consequences of economic decisions sometimes mean that unfettered economic arrangements are unacceptable, for example, in the provision of war materials which have a strategic value as well as an economic one. In more modern times, one of the creators of neo-liberalism, F. A. Hayek, acknowledged the need for public support of the needy, for example, “We shall again take for granted the availability of a system of public relief which provides a minimum for all instances of proved need, so that no member of the community need be in want of food or shelter” (The Constitution of Liberty Routledge pp 300-301).

It is difficult going on impossible to envisage a time when the poor (relatively speaking) will not be with us. In the most benign social circumstances, there will always be substantial numbers who through illness, injury, age, bad luck or general incapacity will need and deserve taxpayer provision. To take but one example of a widespread and unalterable disadvantage: approximately 10% of the population of Britain have IQs of 80 or less. An IQ of 80 is the point at which most psychologists consider an individual begins to struggle to live an independent life in an advanced modern state such as Britain. Because of the way IQ is distributed – more or less as a Bell Curve – most of that 10% will always be drawn from the poorer sections of society (attempts to boost IQ with enhanced environments, for example Headstart in the USA, have persistently failed to do so by more than a few points and often the gain is not permanent. The implication is that IQ is to a large extent genetically determined). The low IQ poor will be likely to need substantial social provision because their families and friends will not have the resources commonly available to the low IQ individuals within better-off families. If substantial public provision is not available to them, the likely outcome will be increased anti-social behaviour from those unable to cope or earn a living capable of supporting them. The moral to be drawn is that any society should, simply as a matter of prudence let alone morality, provide a viable life for all of its people, not merely the fortunate or able.

There is a further consideration: the responsibility of governments for the general conditions in which people live. For example, the position of low IQ individuals in poor families is considerably worse now than it used to be. British Governments over the past 25 years have changed, primarily through a commitment to free markets and free trade and increasingly uncontrolled immigration, have removed many of the circumstances which previously gave Britons with a low IQ the chance of living an adult life largely independent of the state.

Manual jobs, especially in heavy industry, long-established working-class communities, cheap housing and a tight labour market have all been greatly diminished or have vanished altogether.

Mass immigration, especially from the new EU members, is especially disadvantageous for the low IQ, low skill Briton. The immigrants, even the well-qualified, are happy to take the low paid unskilled jobs which would be suitable for those Britons with low IQs. They do this because the money they can earn in Britain doing a menial job is considerably more than the average wage in their own countries. For example, £3,000 a year in Poland is a good professional salary. A Pole earning even the minimum wage in Britain can often save that in a year because his money will probably not be taxed and he will be living either in squats or in very overcrowded conditions which cost him little. (Give native Britons the chance to save the equivalent of a doctor’s salary in Britain by working in a menial job in a foreign country and watch them flock there.)

The consequence for the low IQ, low skilled Briton is not only competition for the sort of jobs he or she has traditionally filled but reduced wages and even exclusion from part of the British job market altogether, because certain types of job become effectively reserved for immigrants of a particular ethnicity – this is particularly the case where foreign gangmasters operate for they commonly employ only people of their own ethnicity.

Of course, the effects of the actions of governments go far beyond the low IQ individuals in a population. To take another example which affects most, if governments engineer, as has happened in Britain, a decline in the state education system through demands that the same formal school exams must be sat by all pupils or that 50% of school-leavers should go onto higher education, then the politicians who introduce the policies take upon themselves the responsibility for any inability of the ill-educated to lead productive and socially useful lives. (A fully discussion of the problems with education can be found at section 36).

4. Public provision is a good deal

The essentials of life are food, water, clothing, shelter, healthcare and a livable income in times when a person cannot work through want of a job, disability, illness or old age. Most people most of the time can afford to pay for shelter, food, water, heating and clothing from their private resources. Most could not afford the rest of the essentials and very few indeed could survive long term unemployment without state aid.

It is important to realise what small incomes the majority of Britons have. Take these figures from the Government’s Regional Household Income Comparison 2004:

“Inner London had the highest disposable household income (after tax) per head of population (£16,500) in 2004. The area continued the trend of previous years and in 2004 was 29 per cent above the UK average of £12,800. This was lower than in earlier years. In 2000 it was 36 per cent higher than the UK average. Tees Valley and Durham in the North East had the lowest household income per head at £10,800. This was 16 per cent below the UK average in 2004.” (http://www.statistics.gov.uk).

The uncomfortable truth is that even the average disposable British household income is insufficient to comfortably bring up a couple of children, pay an average mortgage and make substantial pension contributions. Worse, much of the population has less than average household incomes, many very substantially less. But even those with household incomes substantially above the average – many of whom support the idea of private provision for those “who can afford it” – would find themselves deeply embarrassed if they did have to meet the cost of everything they now receive from the state.

To take a concrete example, that of a middle class husband and wife with two children with a net annual household income of £40,000. At present they can, if they choose, educate their children free at state schools. The entire family can be treated under the NHS. Until they are sixteen, the children will not even pay prescription charges. If their children go to university, as they probably will being middle class, much of the cost of the education will still be met out of taxes (tuition fees even at their new levels do not come near to meeting the full cost of a university education). If either parent falls ill or is injured, the taxpayer will provide basic support. The same applies in the case of unemployment. If any member of the family isunfortunate enough to be the subject of a criminal assault, the Criminal Injuries Board will compensate them. The family will receive child benefit which is not a means tested benefit.

Just imagine what it would cost to either provide such services by buying them directly or through insurance if one could find an insurer willing to issue cover.

A decent private day school education would be at least £12,000 for two children and could well be a good deal more. A university education would cost tens of thousands of pounds. Private health insurance for a family to cover everything covered by the NHS cannot be obtained, but even the best that could be purchased – and it will provide a much inferior cover to that of the NHS – would cost several thousand pounds a year and will not cover existing conditions either at all or for several years – those who doubt this should check out the BUPA website and see what even their most expensive plan does not cover (you will get a very nasty shock). Drugs, including prescription drugs, will have to be purchased at their full cost. If the family has a member with a chronic condition requiring regular treatment or a condition requiring expensive one-off treatment, they will soon find their private insurance will not cover the treatment or will do so for only a restricted period. Mental health problems and long term nursing care are rarely if ever adequately covered by private insurance. Where private insurance will not pay, the family will be left with bills which at best will severely constrain their lives and at worst bankrupt them. (The most common cause of personal bankruptcy in the United States is medical bills.)

Private insurance for sick pay and unemployment pay is both very expensive and strictly limited in the time it is paid – a year is normally the longest period covered. The same applies to mortgage insurance cover. There would be no child benefit or criminal injuries compensation available without public provision.

If the cost of providing for the family is restricted to just the items discussed above the family would be hamstrung by the bills even if no major disaster such as a serious operation hit them. A mortgage to purchase even a modest house in most areas would be out of the question. University education would become a very big gamble for the children.

If a major disaster did hit the family, they would not be able to cope for an extended period because any private insurance they could purchase would soon run out.

The family I have described is by normal standards comfortably off. It might be able to struggle along provided it did not hit a catastrophe which robbed the household of its breadwinner(s) or an emergency such as a serious medical condition which swallowed up vast amounts of money, but it would not be a materially comfortable or psychologically secure family. Most families (and individuals) have considerably less income than this fictional family and a substantial minority live on an income well below the average, while half the British adult population have no meaningful savings or occupational pensions. The large majority of the population would be utterly unable to provide for themselves in times of hardship such as sickness, old age and enforced unemployment.

Those who claim that all the poor in Britain are only relatively poor should reflect on this stark statistic: the latest Inland Revenue figures for marketable wealth distribution ( 2002) show the top 1 per cent own 23% of national wealth and the bottom fifty per cent of the population have a staggeringly small 6% (Office of National Statistics (ONS) website – published 2004).

In short, the majority of the British population live as they have always lived: from one pay packet to the next. They do not have the resources to withstand the withdrawal of state provision and are very vulnerable to the competition of immigrants and offshoring, which either destroy their employment or reduce their pay.

What applies to what might be termed social provision applies to all other public charges – such as defence, policing and the justice system. Most individuals do not have to bear the full cost of these because they pay far less tax, direct and indirect, than is needed to finance a per capita share of total public expenditure. A quick calculation will demonstrate this. The projected public expenditure for 2006/7 is £488 billion. There are approximately 45 million adults in Britain. £488 billion divided equally between them runs out at nearly £11,000 per adult head.

The future is even bleaker because of the absurd cost of housing, the rising cost of a university education and the likely high cost of energy and water supplies. There are even suggestions in current price movements that cheap food may be a thing of the past and the price of manufactured goods from China and its Asian cohorts is also showing signs of inflation as their populations’ wages and living standards rise and they consume more of what they make.

The effect of everyone “paying their way” just for things such as education and healthcare would have a severely depressive effect on already dangerously low Western breeding rates as people had fewer children because of the increased costs falling on the individual.

5. The moral value of general provision

If public provision is necessary should it be available to all? Why should it not be granted only to those who through a means test show that they cannot support themselves from their own resources? The answer is threefold: personal dignity, practicality and the engendering of social cohesion.

Anyone who has had the misfortune to claim means tested benefits or who has assisted someone to claim will know what a frustrating and degrading experience it can be. The rules relating to claiming are Byzantine in their complexity and a simple error on a form (which can run to 20 pages or more) can result in benefit being withheld or delayed. But even when the forms are correctly completed and the criteria for the benefit are met, the delivery of the benefit is frequently seriously delayed because the volume of claims and their complexity simply overwhelms the administrative capacity of the public servants dealing with them.

If all public provision was means-tested, including NHS treatment and education, the administrative cost would be massive and the efficiency of the delivery of the provision greatly reduced. The additional administrative costs would have to be set against any saving gained by denying provision to people.

General provision also underpins social provision. Where all are eligible, all feel that they have a stake in the Welfare State. That improves social cohesion. Exclude the better off and the odds are that eventually political circumstances will arise which allow those with the power to reduce or even destroy utterly public provision. At best, if social provision is seen as only for the poor, it will gain a stigma and the quality of the provision will be of little or no account to those who do not benefit from it.

The provision of public services gives everyone rich or poor the assurance that if the worst comes to the worst they will not be utterly without the means to live. That is the bottom line of having the privilege of being a British citizen.

Apart from simply making life more pleasant and secure, a socially cohesive society has considerable cost benefits, because it will experience less anti-social behaviour. That translates into fewer police, fewer trials, fewer people in prison and, indeed, fewer laws to moderate social behaviour to administer – regrettably many laws are passed in response to moral panics.

6. Why should those able to pay for themselves pay for others?

The most obvious reason for not allowing anyone to opt-out from that part of taxation which is devoted to public provision is that no one can be absolutely certain that they will not meet some calamity in the future which will leave them unable to pay. The experience of medical care in the USA shows how easy it is even for the rich to find their wealth shrinking to a point where they cannot get all the treatment they need – the Superman actor, Christopher Reeve, one of the highest paid Hollywood actors, found his resources exhausted within a few years of suffering the injury which paralysed him.

But there is a more subtle reason. The wealthier members of society should always remember that they owe their privileged position to the restraint of the have-nots and the power structures of society which are overwhelmingly weighted in favour of the haves. Individual effort and talent do of course play a significant role

in the lives of everyone, but it is also true that most people’s lives are to a large degree determined by the circumstances of their birth. If you are born into a wealthy family, the odds are you will live the life of the wealthy throughout your life. A person born into poverty will probably remain at the bottom end of the social spectrum. The same applies in varying degrees to those born between the top and bottom of the social pile.

No one needs academic studies to prove the truth and potency of inherited advantage. All people require is the evidence of their own experience. Let any man examine the lives of all those he knows and he will find that most will occupy a similar social position to their parents.

A simple way of understanding how much inherited social position determines lives is to consider crime. Proportionately, the working-class commit crime much more often than the middle classes (and even within the working class the frequency of offending rises with the degree of poverty). That cannot be because the working class are innately less able, intelligent or self-controlled, because we know that many of the middle class are also dim, incompetent and socially inept, yet they rarely end up with a criminal record.

The only plausible explanation for the greater criminality of the working class can be their different material and social circumstances. These are much more precarious than those of the better off. They lack money and the social network which eases access to better jobs, while the opportunities to intellectually develop that are commonly open to the middle class are denied them. Give every person the means to live a middle class life and crime would drop dramatically simply because the press of material necessity would not be there and because the alienation of the poor through being poor would have been removed.

The better-off also need to admit to themselves that there is no moral basis for inherited wealth. The person who inherits money and possessions has by definition done nothing to earn it. The person who earned the wealth, if it has been gained through moral means – and often wealth, particularly great wealth, has not been so gained - has a moral right to it, but no one else. The same applies to non-material advantages such as social connections.

There are, of course, those who attempt to treat inherited wealth as a moral matter. They claim that a person has the right through the consequence of ownership to pass on what he or she has to whoever they choose. That, of course, begs the question of how the wealth was obtained. But let us assume it was achieved entirely morally and by the direct efforts of the person – the best possible case for the supporters of inherited wealth. Even in that instance the effect of the transfer of wealth to others is to create a situation which is manifestly unfair, namely, the establishment of privilege for someone who has done nothing to earn it. Taken at the level of a society, that rapidly results in a permanent class privilege for the haves and their descendants. The fact that the development of hierarchies is an inevitable consequence of human society is neither here nor there when considering whether the consequences of a hierarchy is moral. Clearly the deliberate disadvantaging of some to the advantage of others is not a moral act, any more than enslaving a man is (the group now living who have by far the greatest moral claim to reparations are not the descendants of slaves but the descendants of the poor).

The American philosopher John Rawls in his book A theory of justice resurrected the idea of the social contract which was much in favour in the 17th and 18th centuries. He posed, in so many words, the question “Suppose a group of people were to form a society from scratch, what society would they favour if each person knew nothing about the other people and had no idea where they personally would fit, socially and economically, into the society?” He concluded that the only rational choice would be one in which people had equality because no rational man would chose an inferior position for himself and no agreement would ever be reached which created an unequal society, whether in terms of social status, rights and duties or material circumstances.

Note that Rawls did not rule out a man or woman choosing an unequal state – some might do so thinking it would be worth the gamble to have a chance of gaining one of the favoured positions in an unequal society – he merely thought that it would not be a rational or normal decision.

Although Rawls’ hypothetical state (“The Original Position”) was not realistic, his thought experiment does demonstrate that what we have now as a result of the organic development of society is not what many, if any, would risk for themselves if they had the choice Rawls’ offered them.

Why not take away all inherited wealth? All of historical experience shows that such a cure is worse than the disease. Where the state controls (at least in theory) the totality of people’s lives, such as in the Soviet Union, the consequence is privilege and abuse not by the possession of money but by the wielding of state power. There

is also something peculiarly degrading about the idea that everything a person does is to be ordered and permitted by the state. A degree of private wealth is a bulwark against state power. The trick is to ensure that wealth does not become too concentrated in the hands of the few, producing an uncaring and oppressive plutocracy.

As for the wealth which individuals create for themselves, to tax to produce material equality would plausibly have a deleterious effect on society generally. If a person is not to benefit from their own legitimate enterprise, why should they bother to make any extra effort or take risks? The obvious answer is they have no incentive to do so. However, that is to take to nakedly a material view of humanity. Even in circumstances where what someone did had no effect on their income, people would vary considerably in their willingness to work regardless of the material outcome because personalities differ and there are rewards other than material ones such as the approval of others and celebrity. Nonetheless, it is reasonable to assume from the experience of communist societies that the overall effect would be to substantially reduce the individual will to work and take risk.

Of course, absolute material equality is improbable in any society, but the disincentive effect applies incrementally as the personal tax burden grows. Once tax reaches a certain level people either work less or become dishonest and evade the tax. That applies not only to the obvious case of the entrepreneur but to jobs generally, for people will be generally disinclined to take the more demanding jobs if the material rewards they offer are not significantly better than those for unskilled and easy employment.

It is also true that Man being a social animal will always form hierarchies because social animals necessarily organise themselves in that way (if they did not, sociality would never arise because the members of a species would be in constant antagonism to one another and could never reach the point of sociality). Even if all material advantage was removed there would still be the advantages and disadvantages of genetic inheritance, the differing qualities of individual parents and pure accidental circumstances, such as the work available at a particular time and place, to create a socially layered society with patterns of dominance and dependence.

But that does not mean that societies should simply be allowed to develop without any state intervention to ameliorate socially determined disadvantage. Without social provision of necessities the poor are left to live hopeless lives which struggle from day-to-day, while untaxed or very lightly taxed wealth of the most successful results in a plutocracy within a few generations.

Plutocracy at best produces wider private charity – which is always inadequate – and at worst an uncaring attitude towards the masses which sees nothing wrong in allowing them to starve if that is a consequence of the economic circumstances of the society and times or even simply God’s will. Plutocracy is in fact one of the most oppressive forms of society and one of the most difficult to end because it cunningly presents itself as being the society of individual opportunity (“the Ritz is open to all”) and is not nakedly oppressive in the same way that, say, Nazi Germany or Stalin’s Russia was oppressive. Consequently, there is no obvious focus for discontent, no single hate figure and it has a much greater enduring power than an overt dictatorship.

What a society can safely do to narrow the differences in life chances at birth is to act to ensure that all have access to education, healthcare and the means to live in a decent manner. That is the minimum. A society can go further with the greatest public resources being directed at those in the poorest circumstances, for  example, more money for schools in “sink” areas. It would even be possible to devise a scheme for those who inherit little or nothing by way of money or possessions to receive a payment from the state to remove to a degree the disadvantage of inheriting nothing.

7. How should public service should be determined?

It is easy in principle to decide whether something should be left to private or public enterprise. Simply ask five questions:

(1) Is the service or product generally considered to be a necessity?

(2) Will profit compromise safety?

(3) Is the service obviously inappropriate to be left in private

hands, for example policing or defence?

(4) Can the service be provided by private enterprise without subsidy?

(5) Can free enterprise be reasonably expected to deliver the necessity universally?

If the answer to any of (1)(2)(3) is YES or the answer to either (4) or (5) NO, then it should in principle be provided either directly or indirectly by the state.

8. What should be provided directly by the state?

Certain things should be reserved to the state as a matter of absolute principle. They are defence, foreign policy, policing, justice, the implementation of judicial sentences and decisions and the administration of welfare. They should be reserved absolutely because either they involve the use of force or the threat of force, punishment or the distribution of taxpayers’ money in areas such as unemployment benefit.

For reasons which I shall shortly examine, the state should also directly control any essential service which is a natural monopoly. What counts as a natural monopoly? Railways and utilities such as water and energy are examples They are natural monopolies because it is simply not practical to have competing lines running to the same destinations or competing utility pipes and cables supplying the same area.

It is possible, as has happened in some of the British privatisations, to allow different companies to compete to supply services such as trains, energy and water, but that is at best an insufficient or incomplete competition and at worst a wholly bogus one because the actual lines of supply – the railway track and the pipes or cables – still have to be maintained and owned by some organisation, private or public. That means the infrastructure has to be either owned publicly or, if owned by a private company, the company must be rigorously controlled by the state, as is the case with the British telephone landline infrastructure which is owned by the privatised British Telecom.

British government interference with natural monopolies since privatisation has gone far beyond controlling the infrastructure. In the case of the railways, a considerable public subsidy has been paid and continues to be paid to the private operators. In every monopoly industry a regulator has been appointed to control both prices and, in theory at least, to force companies to do things such as provide a certain level of investment in new equipment and to be conscientious when it comes to maintenance and operation of the infrastructure. To pretend that these monopoly industries are private companies working in a free market is patently absurd. They are effectively public services contracted out to private contractors.

A few services only work as monopolies, the classic example being the universal letter post, that is, letters delivered to any part of a territory for the same price. This only works if it is a monopoly because if there is competition from private companies or municipal postal services they will take sufficient of the profitable trade in the towns and cities to make it impossible for the universal supplier, in this country the Royal Mail, to subsidise the loss making deliveries to parts of the country outside the main urban centres. No private company would ever provide universal coverage unless they had a monopoly.

Why should the state directly control essential monopolies? Firstly, because there is no opportunity for meaningful competition and consequently the state must step in to prevent abuse of the monopoly position. To do that, as we have seen, it has to interfere very strongly with the running of the monopolies. In practice, it can only efficiently do this if it directly controls the monopoly.

If the state subcontracts an essential monopoly to private business or allows private business to buy a monopoly two general problems arise. The first difficulty is that a private business may at any point fail as a business or simply refuse to continue with a contract if it is not making money for the business. If that happens the state is over a barrel because it does not have the resources to immediately take over the enterprise, nor is it probable that another private company would be able or willing to step in at a moment’s notice – the worst outcome would be the cessation of a vital industry. Nor, if a company failed, is it obvious how a Government would prevent its assets being sold by a liquidator. In principle when Railtrack failed – the company which after privatisation had the responsibility for maintaining the infrastructure of the British rail network – the shareholders owned the assets (the railway infrastructure including much highly profitable land) and the creditors had a legitimate charge on them.

Clearly no government could allow the railway or vital industries such as water, gas and electricity simply to go under, either at the national or regional level. Hence, any government will, when shove comes to push, have to pay through the nose (your taxpaying nose in fact) to maintain the threatened industry, whether that be through enhancing a contract to make it more profitable, granting more profitable contracts to a new private contractor or through the payment of outright subsidies. A government is in a similar bind if a company is doing a bad job: they cannot simply sack them because who is to take their place?

Natural monopolies also raise other problems if they are in private hands. There is insufficient public control over areas such as maintenance and strategic planning. Good British examples can be found in the privatised water and energy industries. In the case of water the privatised companies have failed to invest adequately to stop the considerable loss of water from cracked pipes. Nor has a single major reservoir been built in England since privatisation. These investment failures have occurred despite the water companies consistently making healthy profits. The Water Regulator huffs and puffs but achieves little because the water companies know he can do little. Indeed, he has to date not even fully used the powers he has despite issuing many warnings to the water companies. And the Government? Well, they could pass a new law giving them direct powers over the water industry but what then? If a water company simply refuses to do what is needed where does the Government go? Nowhere fast is the answer.

With energy it is the strategic planning which is emasculated. Successive British governments have allowed Britain to sleepwalk into a position where the country went rapidly from being self-sufficient in energy to becoming a net importer. This was entirely predictable as it was known long before it happened that North Sea oil and gas was going to decline substantially from the beginning of the century. Despite this no meaningful strategic planning has taken place since privatisation with governments until very recently childishly claiming that it was not for them to interfere in the actual provision of energy now the industry is privately owned (the Blair Government has just woken up to the strategic danger of being dependent on foreign supplies but even now -2006 – no definite decision has been made on future British energy policy). The upshot of this lack of planning has been rapidly rising energy prices since 2005.

If water and the energy utilities had remained in public ownership, the fact that politicians had ultimate responsibility for them would have ensured that maintenance and strategic planning was not neglected because no politician or government could afford to be blamed for a water crisis or soaring power prices. Government could also subsidise  prices, something it cannot do now even if it chose to because of EU  competition rules. . The same principle applies to most of the privatised industries – take away the political responsibility and the profit motive rules.

Certain things are simply too important to be left to private efforts. Natural monopolies such as the railways, water and gas are literally essential to the survival of an advanced state such as Britain. Because of that stark fact alone they need to be treated as something much more than a commodity which can be simply left to the market. They should to be seen for what they are, strategic assets, and placed firmly under national control.

There is a further general reason why essential monopolies should be in public hands – the need for general provision. Left to private enterprise, even with an unfettered monopoly only the profitable parts of an industry would be supplied. Roads and railways would only be maintained if the traffic warranted it. Gas, electricity, water and telecommunications would only be supplied where sufficient profit could be made. The problem is we do not want roads and railways only over profitable routes, or the utilities such as gas and water supplied only to urban areas. We want them over the entire country. Only public provision can truly satisfy that need. Of course, private companies can have a duty to provide a general provision placed on the them but what if none is willing to take it or they take on the responsibility but then fail to meet it? The government then has to decide to either subsidise the company directly or to loosen the contract conditions to which the company has agreed.

The final type of enterprise which the state should always take in hand are those which experience tells us are beyond the resources of private business. Private enterprise can never be trusted to handle Tunnel. Margaret Thatcher insisted that no British public money would be involved and that private enterprise would bear the entire cost. It soon became clear that this was a nonsense. The Tunnel itself was completed but the companies which built it were not so much bankrupt as on another planet called Debt. And this was despite the very serious amounts of money pumped into the enterprise by the French Government,  both directly and indirectly. The situation was rescued, if one can dignify what happened with the word, by the banks and other  creditors rescheduling debts so far into the future that they all but vanished and the French Government surreptitiously pushing in more money via the French banks. To this day, the Channel Tunnel is the whitest of white private enterprise elephants, with the latest ” debt restructuring” always just around the corner.

Direct provision also has a further benefit. While assets are publicly owned and employees directly paid by the state, it is politically much more difficult to reduce or abolish that part of public provision. If the provision is supplied by a private company their contract can simply not be renewed or cancelled. If the provision is directly supplied, the government has the ticklish problem of having to take responsibility for the redundancies, something which greatly raises the profile of the removal of the provision.

The best example of the dangers of losing direct provision is the gradual privatisation by stealth of the NHS. To suddenly privatise the entire NHS would be impossible, but salami slice it over ten or fifteen years by continually increasing the private sector involvement and the position is completely different. Then the politician can use excuses such as “So much of it is in private hands now that the rest might as well be,” “We can’t have such a comprehensive service because private companies can’t provide it” and “Costs have risen so much that we have to cut this or that”. The whole system will be such a confused mess of public and private that the public will not know what to think. Also, the privatisation by stealth may have surreptitiously changed the way the public view the NHS so they see it no longer as a national institution but merely as a provider of medical care through disparate means. That in itself would reduce the moral outrage needed for any successful public protest.

9. What should be provided indirectly by the state?

Just because something is a necessity does not mean that the state must or should provide it directly. In fact, the less direct provision the better, because in a free society government should only touch that which it needs to touch. For example, whereas there are not many possible suppliers of air traffic control systems or railways, there are many possible suppliers of food. Government may safely leave food distribution to the private supplier and provide assistance where it is needed through payments to those in need. It should be noted that it is not the market or private enterprise which provides the general provision in cases such as food but the giving of taxpayers’ money to those who need it which provides the general provision.

Service is really the crucial criterion. Governments should become directly involved in industrial work very rarely – the exceptions are defence suppliers, utilities such as water, gas and electricity because of their status as natural monopolies and their immense importance. No nationalised industry making or extracting anything has ever been an economic success. Governments running manufacturers, farming or the extractive industries such as coal mining are neither necessary nor desirable, because private enterprise will always do the job adequately and more efficiently provided the economic circumstances are right,that is, vital industries are protected through tariffs, quotas or subsidies to the extent necessary to make them profitable.

But such vital industries are the Government’s business because they have both a strategic and a social and economic value. Consequently, governments do have is a responsibility to ensure that they are maintained.

Any country which cannot feed itself, produce all essential manufactured products and services, is not self-sufficient in energy and does not have substantial reserves of essential raw products such as iron ore, is constrained in what it may do both nationally and internationally and the greater the reliance of imports, the greater the constraint. Of course any advanced industrial state will not be completely self-sufficient, but it is possible for a country to have a large degree of self-sufficiency in the essentials especially food. With modern crop yields and modern animal husbandry, Britain could feed itself at a pinch if her market for food was protected to allow reasonable profits to be made by farmers using not merely the best or most convenient land, but the more marginal land as well.

Where a country is severely dependent on imports, as is the case with Britain, they are utterly at the mercy of international blackmail and events. Even the most powerful state in the world, the USA, is much restricted because of its reliance on imported oil. Such constraints have the most serious of consequences. Would George Bush  have invaded Iraq if the USA was not reliant on Middle East oil? I doubt it.

The free trade dream of buying where a product can be produced cheapest is based on the absurd premise that never again will international circumstances arise which will place any country at risk of war or blockade. There is also the question of what happens when raw materials run short and the scarce materials either remain in the countries of origin or go to the richest and most powerful countries with the rest left to go hang. Free trade is not merely a fantasy but a dangerous one in the long term.

There is also the economic and social case for protection. Cheap imports from countries which have labour costs many times below those of the mature industrial states, goods made cheap by state subsidies and plain old-fashioned “dumping” means that no company in the West is able to compete with the imports. The effect of allowing such imports is twofold: either the workers in the importing countries must take lower wages or, more probably, watch the obliteration of the domestic industry.

The same thing happens where mass immigration is permitted. If the immigration did not occur the wages for the type of jobs which immigrants take would be higher. That in turn would lessen or end the shortages of native workers willing to do them. For most jobs all that is needed to solve a shortage of labour is a wage sufficiently competitive with other employments to attract enough applicants. A good example in Britain are nurses: a shortage of native applicants a few years ago has been turned into a surplus now by a substantially increase in their pay.

The loss of jobs and suppression of wages through cheap imports, outsourcing, or large scale immigration has considerable social and economic effects. Those who lose their jobs either remain unemployed or take jobs which pay much less, are less secure and have lesser benefits. Those who remain in their jobs but whose pay is suppressed suffer similar difficulties. Both groups find their spending power is reduced. They pay less tax. If they are unemployed the Treasury is a net loser. New immigrants compete for scarce public goods such as free healthcare, education and social housing. Most particularly they compete most directly with the poorer native members of society who have most need of such social supports.

Poor pay, insecurity, unemployment and competition from mass immigration all place a severe strain on the social cohesion of a country.

Neither the Left or Right need recoil in horror at the idea of a judicious protectionism and a strong immigration policy. The Labour Party has been strongly protectionist throughout most of its history. The Tory Party was protectionist before the repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846 and protectionist again between 1931 and the advent of Margaret Thatcher. For most of their history both parties have been in practice opposed to mass immigration.

10. The railways – a classic public service

The railways in Britain are not simply a private enterprise. They are a necessity to maintain general economic activity. Take away the railways and a substantial part of those employed in London could not continue to work there because the roads will not take the extra traffic. The same applies, to a lesser degree, to other large cities and towns.

The railways also fulfill an important social functions in providing transport to those without cars, by reducing car use generally and moving much heavy goods traffic from the roads. Finally, railways have a strategic value in times of war or blockade.

Without massive public subsidy the railways could not be maintained. No national railway system in the First World operates without taxpayers’ subsidy. Parts of systems may be profitable but not the entire system. It is not that our railways would simply shrink if left entirely to private enterprise, most of the system would not run

at all. Commuter traffic is running at near capacity in the South East of England and fares are already so high generally that the massive price hike needed to meet the full cost of rail travel would result in a vicious circle of decreased traffic and decreased revenue.

The cost of maintaining Britain’s railways is simply beyond the private sector. Profit can be made on some intercity routes but that is about it. Even with the massive subsidies given to private companies since privatisation – ironically substantially larger than the pre-privatisation subsidies in real terms – private companies have signally failed to invest adequately. Indeed, the companies have radically reduced staffing levels – which may well have contributed to some crashes – and have constantly failed to meet their timetables.

The farce of the company with responsibility for railway maintenance immediately after privatisation in Britain, Railtrack, is a cautionary tale in itself. It created a completely different culture from that under the nationalised railways. Instead of employing most of the labour directly, they engaged subcontractors to do most of the work. The army of skilled workers built up by the original private companies and inherited by the nationalised British Rail was dispersed in reckless fashion and, inevitably, control over standards of maintenance became much diluted as it always does with subcontracting.

To put the cherry on the Railtrack story, the financial resources of the company, even with public subsidies, proved hopelessly inadequate. In 2002 the plug was pulled and it went into administration to eventually re-emerge restructured as a not-for-profit company  Network Rail. But before the administration was done and dusted, the taxpayer had to cough up a great deal of money to compensate  shareholders because the government was faced with legal  action by the shareholders alleging maladministration, an  action which looked as though it might not only succeed but in the  process wash some very dirty government linen in public over exactly why and how Railtrack went into administration.

11. Safety

There is a further consideration with public services – safety. It may be that the public will have greater confidence in, for example, a state run railway simply because it is state run. The public’s confidence might be completely unfounded but that would not matter: theconfidence itself is a valuable thing.

The experience of all privatisation has been to make money by enforcing massive job cuts. Of course there was overmanning during the nationalised industry days. The trouble is that the cuts made since privatisation have often gone beyond improving efficiency. They went to the limits of safety, and probably past it, in pursuit of profit. Maintenance staff were reduced and consequently maintenance was reduced. The facts which have emerged since the Watford train crash in 2000 shows beyond doubt that many of the people involved in rail track maintenance are inexperienced at best and completely raw at worst.

When the state does not take direct responsibility for a service which has inherent safety consideration, the danger is that governments will respond to any safety fears by imposing ever more onerous obligations on the private suppliers of the service. The private companies are also susceptible to being overly cautious after an accident has happened or a possible danger becomes the subject of public comment.

Train crashes in Britain have been thankfully rare under both nationalised and privatised regimes, but when they happened under the nationalised industry the government was able to keep the show on the road because the public had confidence that safety was not being compromised simply to save money. Since privatisation crashes have been met with absurd caution by both the bodies responsible for the infrastructure and the Government, with the national rail network being reduced to a farce after cracks in some rails were found after the Watford crash mentioned above. For the better part of a year, rail travel became a misery as hundreds of emergency speed restrictions were introduced and rails were tested for cracks and a massive programme of ail replacement was begun. The consequence  was horrendous delays and vast numbers of cancelled trains. The effects are arguably still being felt in 2006.

Perhaps the classic industry to which the safety consideration applies is the production of nuclear energy. Despite this this Government is saying that if a new generation of nuclear power stations is built it must be with private money and run by private companies. A clear case of  ideology – private is best – driving common sense out of the window. (It should be added that Labour said the same when in office.)

Foreign ownership further complicates matters. When a massive explosion devastated a fuel storage and refinery complex in Hemel Hempstead in 2006 and further parts of the complex were thought to be in danger of exploding, it was impossible to get the necessary information quickly because the company which owned the complex was French and no one with  sufficient authority could be immediately contacted.

12. Public and private efficiency

Having worked both as a civil servant and for private companies, large and small, I always raise a wry smile when the advocates of private enterprise claim, with a look of religious certainty in their eyes and the ringing voice of the true believer, that private enterprise is by definition much more efficient than public endeavour. In fact, private enterprise can be every bit as wasteful and often far more reckless than public service.

Take a couple of blatant examples of crass incompetence by private enterprise from the past ten years. The directors of a major defence and electronics company Marconi managed in a few short years to reduce the company from one with several billion pounds in cash reserves and astock-exchange value of some £30 billion to a company with billions of pounds worth of debt and shares which were effectively worthless after the creditor banks took ownership of what remained of thecompany.

How did Marconi management accomplish this stupendous feat? They decided that their highly successful core business of defence equipment was just too boring and “not now” for words and sold off most of this highly profitable business. They then ploughed into telecommunications, a business in which they had little experience, which was “utterly now” and “obviously” on the brink of a mobile phones bonanza. There they caught not so much a very bad cold butcommercial double pneumonia.

The second example is the assurance company Equitable Life. In the 1980s and early 1990s this firm offered financial products with an attractive guaranteed return. Unsurprisingly, they proved very popular. Come the time to meet these obligations Equitable found they could not do so. They tried to renege on the guaranteed return promise but, after several years of legal battles, the House of Lords decided against them. At that point they were arguably insolvent. Instead of going into administration, they began a series of actions which made a mockery of that for which they supposedly stood – assurance.

For fear of trading fraudulently or even whilst insolent – any new business might well have been considered fraudulent because of the possibility of a failure to meet existing obligations – they closed their books to new business. Then by stages – the torment for the policy holders was extended – they reduced payouts to those who had not had the guaranteed return and by stages considerably raised the penalty for clients taking their money out of the Equitable. Their customers were left with the ghastly choice of losing a large slice of what was already a reduced pot of money or taking a much lower income. Most choose the latter course. Equitable said in so many words take what we offer or be fined (or even worse, drive us into liquidation and lose most or even all of what is left). Those unlucky enough to be coming up to retirement during this time were left with pensions and lump sum payments much less than they reasonably anticipated when they took out the policy and substantially below the level which could be blamed on the general stock market fall. All of this was of course quite legal, but the shareholders who did not have the guaranteed return could have had no inkling of what might happen to their policies when they took them out.

I do not claim that public service is wondrously efficient and economical. Rather, I say that private business, at least at the larger end, is much the same. In fact, any big organisation displays the same characteristics of bureaucracy, a lack of imagination, organisational inertia and less than optimum manning. Marks and Spencer, until the late 1990s one of the reputedly best run of British firms, suddenly fell prey to just these traits and has only just got back on the rails.

But large organisations also have their advantages. They are capable of providing a wide range of services. They can provide those services over a large area. They have a degree of “slack” which allows emergencies to be dealt with and bottlenecks due to variable demand to be managed when they arise. Such “slack” is very important in industries such as gas and electricity and services such as the railways. As we shall see when I turn to the experience of privatisation, the slack in many of the privatised industries has either vanished altogether or been reduced to dangerous levels.

13. What do we mean by efficiency?

There is also the question of what we mean by efficiency. Private business ultimately judges that by profit. But is profit a good indicator of efficiency generally? More particularly, does it have any place in public service?

Many a company does well for a period because it strikes lucky with a product and then plummets when the good luck runs out. Or a company may have a good profits run simply because there is a general boom in the economy and it is easy to make profits.

Then there are businesses where it is virtually impossible not to make large and regular profits, for example, the clearing banks, because the goods or services they are supplying are too essential for people not to purchase them and the number of competing companies is small, either because a few companies have been able to destroy the competition or because the cost of getting in the business is too great for new competitors to emerge. The problem of greatly reduced competition through expansion of an existing company rather than takeover of other companies is a growing one, a problem exemplified by the relentless march of Tesco in Britain – in practice British anti-monopoly law only deals with takeovers – the only thing which halts Tesco is planning permission. Once a company has a really large share of a market efficiency becomes less of a pressing problem because customers in an area dominated by the likes of Tesco often have little choice but to use the dominant company because it has destroyed local competitors.

It can also be very difficult to find out from the published accounts the true state of a company, vide Enron and WorldCom. Even where outright fraud is not practised there is still a great deal of scope for accountants to engage in “creative accounting” and massage accounts to inflate the profit in a given year. As directors are commonly paid a large part of their remuneration in the form of shares which they canpurchase at a later date at a discounted price (share options), companies have every incentive to inflate the share price in the year when the share option can be exercised.

But even if it is allowed that profit is a good yardstick of efficiency for most enterprises, a highly debatable proposition, it does not follow that it is a good yardstick for all enterprises. The provision of universal public services is by its nature not susceptible to the notion of profit because the unprofitable work must be undertaken as well as the profitable, for example the Post Office delivers letters to hideously costly rural addresses as well as to highly profitable city haunts for the same price (that service incidentally subsidises all private business in the UK because they can deliver anywhere for the same price).

If profit is not the yardstick what should be? I suggest that the real tests for public service competence should be (1) is the service being delivered to all who need it? and (2) is the cost reasonable in comparison with equivalent operations in other countries? By these tests, the NHS, for example, still compares well with the health care in other advanced countries, providing both a universal service for the vast majority of treatments and operations and doing so at a significantly cheaper cost than most, despite the great amounts of extra money pumped into it since May 1997.

14. Private enterprise providing public service

What is rarely if ever taken into account when complaints about the inefficiency of public bodies are considered is how efficient private enterprise will be or is when it is offered the opportunity to provide a public service. Take the Post Office as an example. For a century and a half it has turned a profit and ensured a level of universal service well nigh unique in the world. It has done this because it is a state monopoly.

No private company would ever provide a universal one-price service without massive public subsidy and the halfway house of part private part public merely weakens the public provider. The government first loosened the rules governing private delivery of parcel, then bulk letter mail went to full competition and in 2006 private companies moved into the delivery of letters over a certain weight. That competition alone will cripple the universal post. The Post Office has already been forced to drop the second delivery as a general service and will now provide it only for a fee, whilst the last time for collection has become earlier and earlier in the day and the single free delivery later and later.

As a second example take the BBC. Suppose the licence fee was abolished or reduced and the BBC had to introduce private finance on a large or an entire scale. The inevitable result of that would be the BBC increasingly turning from its public service role, not immediately but in time, towards commercial programming. The dismal example of how commercial terrestrial television “meets” the public serviceobligations written into their prospectuses when they bid for licences shows you what the BBC would rapidly become (the obligations/promisesmade when gaining licences are substantially ignored once the licences are granted).

There is nothing wrong with employing private businesses to perform specific functions such as road building because that does not produce a conflict between public service and profit. A road is simply a road,which will be used regardless of who built it. Once it is built,there is no ongoing direct service to the public beyond whatever maintenance is required and the maintenance of roads is completely different from the maintenance of railways, because the use of roads is free in all but a few instances and the safety issue is nothing like so important for a car can be driven on a potholed road while a train cannot be run on a faulty piece of track. Where conflict arises between the provision of a general service and the profit motive is in cases such as the NHS where the delivery of the service is directly to the public.

Private business is poor at providing services where there is no direct link between the provision of the service and the payment for it. If a service is provided to a person and they pay the provider, private enterprise will generally do a decent job if the customer has a reasonable choice of provider. Where a private business provides a service on the basis of a contract signed with a contractor, that is, it is a sub-contractor, the relationship between the customer and the provider becomes nebulous. It is true that the sub-contractor may have a contract cancelled or not have a contract renewed if too many complaints are received by the contractor, but often enough the contractor will wear any number of complaints provided profits remain healthy.

15. Public service inefficiencies and politicians

We can all recount bureaucratic horror stories and in truth there are a host of them. What most people never ask is why they exist. The answer is very often found in the irresponsible behaviour of politicians. They pass too many laws, introduce laws or other measures not requiring legislation which are administrative nightmares and demand action such as the meeting of “targets” which are simply beyond meeting.

A fine example of the “too many laws” syndrome is tax law. No living human being is a master of British tax law in its entirety or anything approaching its entirety. There is an excellent reason for this, it is beyond the capacity of any person to encompass so vast and complex and ever changing labyrinth of legislation. When the public deals with the best trained and most experienced Inland Revenue inspectors or employs the highest-powered tax consultant in private practice, they will still be dealing with people only competent to advise in particular areas of tax law. Worse, the law is frequently less than lucid because of the poor drafting of Acts of Parliament or of the statutory instruments which give administrative power to enforce Acts.Consequently, tax law is frequently open to plausible differences of interpretation. The upshot is that the Inland Revenue can often appear incompetent or unreasonable, despite the best efforts of its staff, simply because politicians have created an impossible situation.

The same applies to Customs and Excise (now amalgamated with the Inland Revenue).

To the complexity and opaqueness of most laws and regulations can be added the fact that most of the administration of such laws and regulations is not undertaken by highly educated, highly trained, highly intelligent people, but by the rank and file who find the complexity and opaqueness far more difficult to cope with than the highly educated, highly trained, highly intelligent few.

It is rare to encounter a politician who considers the administrative implications of laws before they are passed. Many laws on the statute books are largely dead letters because if they were enforced generally the effects on policing, the justice system and prisons would be dire. Imagine the numbers of prosecutions if the police religiously enforced the law on wearing seat belts for example. The magistrates courts would grind to a dead halt. Our present prison overcrowding is to a substantial degree the consequence of ever more laws with severer prison penalties being passed blithely by Parliament and the practice of Home Secretaries, both Tory and Labour, encouraging courts to be more severe in their sentencing. Either policy would be administratively defensible, whether one agreed with the principle or not, if governments ensured that the additional prison places were made available before the laws were passed or the instructions to courts on sentencing policy were issued by the Lord Chancellor’s Office. This has not been done. Extra provision is either inadequate or non-existent.

The prison population has also been significantly boosted by other government decisions. The first was the “care in the community” which closed most long-term accommodation for psychiatric patients and the seriously mentally deficient. Many of the people who fall into those categories unsurprisingly now end up in prison. The second was allowing massive immigration in the past ten years which has driven the foreign component of our prison population up to over ten per cent. To these causes could be added the government sponsored destruction of many of the jobs available to the lower IQ and poorly educated members of the population and the inadequacies of the state education system (see section 37). .

A classic of “unjoined up” Government thinking was the Community Charge known more popularly as the Poll Tax. To produce the required tax, around 90% of the adults living in Britain had to pay the tax. To anyone who understood the general problem of the tax collection, this was a non-starter. It would have been a non-starter had the system generally been seen as fair simply because people will understandably avoid tax wherever they can and tracking people to their private addresses is the devil’s own job, both in terms of identifying the addresses and in having the manpower to chase up non-payers.

The fact that the tax was seen as generally unfair provided its opponents with a ready made propaganda tool. Apart from the obvious difficulty of justifying a new tax not obviously linked to ability to pay, many suffered genuine hardship because people on very small incomes were suddenly asked to pay two or more times what they had previously paid under the domestic Rates system, which the Poll Tax replaced. Opposition politicians and parties quite naturally did everything they could to oppose the tax and soon magistrates’ courts were overwhelmed by hordes of non-payers and the receipts from the tax fell well short of what was anticipated. The coup de grace was given by a violent protest in Trafalgar Square.

A current administrative nonsense is the recent introduction of AS Level exams. For our purposes forget about whether not these are a good idea. It may seem obvious that if you introduce additional new general exams for schoolchildren you will need many more examiners. Not to our politicians. The upshot is that there is a crisis in ourpublic examination system because of overstretched examiners.

Then there are the laws which have unintended consequences. There is a beauty currently wrecking havoc throughout the land. In his 2002 budget, Gordon Brown announced changes to allow sports clubs to claim rate relief by becoming charities. The consequence has been that local authorities in many places have withdrawn or reduced the discretionary rate relief they were allowing sports clubs unless those clubs become charities. But becoming a charity is a complicated and expensive business and most sports clubs cannot afford it. To take one example of additional cost and complication. Charity law does not allow charities to sell alcohol. Most sports clubs gain a good deal of their income from bar receipts. To maintain the ability to keep a bar, the club would have to set up as a charity and then run a separate limited company for the bar takings.

Governments in the past twenty years have introduced two new forms of interference which are destructive of public efficiency. The first results from the mistaken belief that private enterprise methods can be generally applied to public services. The second is “league tables” and “targets”.

Private business practices, that is commercial practices rather than merely questions of efficiency common to both private and public organisations such as the utilisation of staff, are completely inappropriate in public service. Take the introduction of the “internal market” to the NHS and its effects on hospitals. This was a scheme introduced by the Thatcher Government with the idea of making the NHS more accountable and cost-efficient. Before it was introduced Governments decided how much was to be spent on health in a given year and, broadly speaking, the money was spread evenly throughout the country. NHS hospitals were given a budget and left to operate within it. Accounting for the expenditure was to use a favourite civil service term “broad brush”. This system worked because hospitals knew where they were at the start of a year and had the further advantage of seeming fair – everyone, NHS staff and the public, could see that each part of the country got more or less the same provision. GPs referred patients to their nearest hospital as a matter of course – which naturally set a fairly constant level of demand for a hospital – and administrative costs were low.

The “internal market” and subsequent reforms changed all that by making money follow the patient – which meant a hospital did not know exactly how much money it had to spend – and consequently required very detailed monitoring of expenditure. Worse, it also created competition between hospitals. The result is a massively bloated NHS bureaucracy which is both very expensive and a major cause of poor morale amongst medical staff, who object both to the added paperwork and procedures and the constant administrative supervision of their activities.

Similar “value-for-money” accounting schemes have been introduced elsewhere into public enterprises with similar dire results. The experience of these suggests strongly that when dealing with public service it is best to decide what is desired and what the taxpayer can afford to pay and then pay it. That does not mean money should be given out without regard to how it is spent. Rather, it means that costs should be determined by rational criteria before funding is decided upon and then the organisations should be trusted to spend the money provided they deliver what they are supposed to deliver. Provided the costing is realistic, the taxpayer can be sure that the money is being spent reasonably efficiently and no-corruptly. Gross inefficiency or corruption on any scale would show up through funding shortfalls within the budgetary year of the public institution concerned. Funding based on proper estimated costing is in effect a pre-audit which achieves essentially the same result as an audit but does so at the other end of the financial process. If a degree of inefficiency or corruption is not identified by this process, the loss both in terms of money and misapplied man power will be far less than the cost of an inflated bureaucracy and the demoralisation of public servants which arises from close scrutiny of expenditure.

Realistic costing requires that funding within an organisation is broadly similar for equivalent parts of the organisation. For example, in present circumstances any NHS hospital outside London of a similar size and range of medical treatment should cost broadly the same to run because national wages are paid in all places but London where a “weighting allowance” tops up the national salary.

League tables are an idea which has a superficial attraction. What could be more reasonable than to know which are the best local schools through their exam results being publicly available so parents can compare schools? A great deal. The effect of league tables has been to lead to a substantial rise in exclusions from schools, increased de facto selection of pupils and the restriction of the exams children may take. Faced with parental and state judgement of their performance, schools have understandably been unwilling to have children in their schools who will perform badly in exams. Inferior exam results at a school equals fewer and less able children applying which equals fewer pupils which equals less state funding. Nor, of course, are private schools immune from the pressures, for the lower their position in the “league table” the more difficulty they have in attracting pupils, especially the brightest.

The consequence of league tables in schools is that education is distorted. Children are denied the opportunity to take exams if it is thought they will do badly. 16-year-olds who do less than well in their GCSEs are denied an opportunity to take A levels at their school. Children who are seen as academically unable or disruptive are excluded from the better schools and effectively left to rot either in a state of permanent truancy or in schools which are essentially doing no more than child minding. More profoundly, the concentration on passing exams, including the National Curriculum tests, has not only narrowed the academic curriculum as schools “teach to the test”, but has led to the exclusion of non-academic activities such as sport and music. The broader idea of education has been largely lost.

Of course, unfairness and ineffective education existed prior to the “league tables”. The point is that the position has been made ineffably worse by the “league tables.”

The “league table” distortion which has arisen in schools will be and, indeed, is mirrored elsewhere because the same general pressures apply. Hospitals seek to avoid operating on high risk patients, councils want to divest themselves of “tricky” work such as running council houses and school examination boards and universities inflate exam marks to both attract students and to guard against a growing tendency for students to demand good exam results because “they have paid for them”.

The first cousin of league tables is “targets”. Government targets are of course not new. In the immediate post war years Governments delighted in announcing that so many hundreds of new houses would be built. What is new is that “targets” have become so prevalent that they seriously effect public policy. Targets to reduce street crime force the police to divert resources regardless of whether it is the greatest priority. Targets to reduce hospital waiting lists force hospitals to manipulate their waiting lists and concentrate on non-urgent treatment at the expense of more serious conditions.Targets to expel failed asylum seekers lead to the reclassification of asylum seekers. And so on for any number of public agencies.

On the privatised industry side, targets set by the various regulators are largely cosmetic and are inexorably downgraded when their honest application would severely damage or even ruin a company.

Of course, most targets, whether for public or privatized organisations are not actually met even with the strenuous massaging of figures. They are then swept aside as being of no consequence. The result is a growing public scepticism about any government plans or promises which they increasingly treat as Russians treated “five-year plans” and “potato harvest figures” in the Soviet Union. This is decidedly unhealthy because if the electorate cannot trust any promise made by a politician what is the point of elections?

16. Other public service inefficiencies

It would be idle to pretend that public service does not have substantial shortcomings which have nothing to do with political decisions. These are an over-extended a command chain, the cult of the generalist and the too ready movement of staff.

The modern British Civil Service was founded in the nineteenth century with a tripartite division based on Plato’s Republic. (This is not asbizarre as it sounds because most of those in public life then had a classical education). The Administrative Grades were the philosopher kings who planned and directed, the Executive Grades were the mechanics who put into operation and administered the plans of the  Administrative Grades and to the Clerical Grades were left the task of being the metaphorical hewers of wood and drawers of water.

This consequence of this structure was that chains of command and responsibility became ridiculously extended. In modern times there have been 13 mainstream Civil Service grades (and others peculiar to particular departments and offices). In addition, the distinction between the Administrative/Executive/Clerical general grade functions produces an artificial separation. Many jobs cannot be neatly fitted within one of Administrative/Executive/Clerical, yet the Civil Service attempts to do so. The result is that instead of having one person doing a job in the most efficient manner, the job is arbitrarily divided between different grades.

In recent years attempts have been made to reduce the numbers of grades, but without great effect. They need to be reduced to six or seven. That would put them broadly in line with large private corporations.

When the Administrative/Executive/Clerical division was devised the idea was that the Administrative Grade would be staffed by generalists who could apply themselves to any task without needing any particular expertise. Rather the Admin Grade Civil Servant would be of high intellect which he would apply to analysing any problem and producing solutions to the problem. There is of course a place for such people, but it is very limited. The trouble is that the Civil Service still largely operates on the idea that the Admin Grades should be generalists. Worse, the idea has spread to the other grades to a considerable degree. The consequence is that Civil Service jobs tend to be allocated by grade rather than the relevant experience of a civil servant. The position is aggravated by the fact that people are often placed in positions novel to them without adequate training. Much greater attention needs to be paid to both the suitability of people for posts and to the provision of training.

The frequent placing of unsuitable and untrained people in posts produces a “culture of incompetence”, whereby those in positions of authority are reluctant to criticise their subordinates. This reluctance stems from (1) the fact that they are not often insecure in their own ability and knowledge and (2) because they know that their subordinates are often in posts for which they are unsuited or untrained.

The other great structural bugbear is the all too frequent movement of staff (anyone who has had regular dealings with public bodies will recognise the frustration of dealing with a new person every time they write or phone and the immense amounts of time and effort wasted.) Most Civil Service work is administrative. Continuity is a boon when it comes to administration. Where staff are working to implement very detailed regulations, as is the norm in the Civil Service, continuity becomes vital.

Regular movement of staff, human nature being what it is, is also a device to avoid responsibility. Once a public servant has moved to another position his successor can simply say “nothing to do with me guv. Now, let’s start from scratch”. It is also rare for a civil servant to be meaningfully disciplined once they have moved jobs.

Civil servants know this and it affects their behaviour for the worse while in a job because they know that if they make a horlicks of it, they will simply be moved elsewhere or even promoted to resolve an embarrassing situation. This reinforces the “culture of incompetence” . Keeping people in post for a reasonable length of time and holding them to account for error after they move would concentrate the minds of civil servants wonderfully.

In varying degrees, the defects of the Civil Service are found in public service generally.

Any large organisation requires periodic shaking. Small businesses rarely need it because they are always subject to the pressures of the market in a way that a large company is not. A large company has greater reserves both of capital and credit than a small concern and can weather economic storms more easily. The consequence is the gradual accretion of inefficiencies and costs. What applies to big business does so with greater force to government departments, which have even less external pressure on them to be efficient. However, the shaking should always be within the context of a public service ethos not a private business one.

17. What should public service workers be paid?

“Tube drivers, who now earn £31,300 for a 36-hour week, along with six weeks’ holiday a year, a final-salary pension and free travel for their families….The Tube drivers’ salary is almost twice as much as a nurse or an ambulance worker gets for working longer hours on more complex jobs. It is half as much again as a bus driver, who works 50 hours a week, a firefighter, who works a 42-hour week, or a police officer, who works a 40-hour week – each of them doing very stressful work for the payment they get.” ( The Evening Standard commenting on a prospective tube strike 02.10.02).

Driving an underground train on a partially automated system cannot  realistically be considered as more skilled, dangerous and stressful than that of a firefighter. Most people would say the Tube driver had the easier job by far. But is the firefighter’s job more stressful than that of a bus driver who has day in day out to deal not merely with London traffic but in many cases has to take fares as well? And what of a nurse or ambulance crews? Is the emotional distress they suffer more of a burden than the fear a firefighter may feel when goinginto a fire? Going outside public service jobs, a trawlerman’s job is considerably more dangerous than that of a firefighter’s and the ordinary crew member will not earn as much as an Underground driver. In short, comparability is a minefield.

All our experience shows that “fair” job evaluation never works because no one engaged in the employment evaluated can ever objectively agree on their place in the job hierarchy. Hence, even where deals are struck, dissatisfaction soon breaks out again about “comparability”. As for the public, the pay and conditions arrangements of public service workers are generally so opaque that most people can make neither head nor tail of them. The result is an unstable situation which satisfies no one for long and leads to the general public having an unrealistic conception of what public employees earn, both by underestimating and overestimating pay.

Even in a society where there is a strong natural commitment to public provision, as was the case in the quarter century after WW2, the public servant has a vested interest in working to retain public confidence. Unless the taxpayers generally continue to think that the money being spent is worthwhile, there will come a time when a government will be elected, as happened in 1979, which will substantially reduce government expenditure and the opportunities for public service. Worse, circumstances can arise as they have done now, where not only the government but also the main opposition party are hostile to direct public provision. Therefore, it is especially important at the present time for public servants to persuade the public that they are both necessary and giving value for money. The best way of doing this is to arrive at a pay structure which is both simple for the public to understand and constructed in such a way to ensure that pay and conditions are adjusted automatically by reference to an objective standard to keep them in line with wages and conditions in private business.

What is needed are criteria based on broad similarities, which the general public can understand and support. Most jobs are much the same in terms of the general demands they make on people – stress, responsibility, intellectual effort and special knowledge or skill. Moreover, those jobs which demand more than the norm also fall into readily identifiable categories. (Anyone who doubts this should try an experiment. Produce a list of twelve disparate jobs of the same general status – all non-management or all management and so on – and which have no emotional plus or minus against them in the public mind – exclude nurses, estate agents etc. Then get people to assess their worth in terms of wages. Most people will judge the value of the jobs to be similar).

Public service jobs are even more readily categorised than the totality of occupations in a society because the range of work in public  service is much more limited. In a way the civil service already recognises this because the standard civil service grades cover an immense variety of job titles. The civil service division of grades into administrative/executive/clerical provide a starting point for the broad criteria mentioned above. These could then be augmented with categories based on danger, stress, responsibility etc. If recruitment becomes a problem in a particular area, the problem can be solved byraising pay through re-grading.

The second problem with public pay is keeping it up to a realistic level. Previous attempts a pay formulae have not been linked to the average male wage and that has been the primary cause of their failure. It has meant that periodically public sector workers have fallen behind private sector workers as governments run into financial trouble.

What is required for all public service jobs is a formula which uses the average male worker’s earnings as a baseline, with the various public service grades being a percentage of the average male worker’s earnings – the percentage could be less or more than 100% depending on the grade of the job. Such a system would mean regular upgrading of pay and avoid the demands for very large percentage increases when pay falls behind.

Should pension entitlements, holiday entitlements and security of employment be taken into account when calculating public sector pay? Only to the extent that they differ from the arrangements of large private corporations. Historically large private companies have offered non-salary benefits very similar to that enjoyed by public servants. That is changing, in particular final salary pensions are rapidly becoming extinct in private business, and any grading of public service jobs should reflect any difference which arises between public and private in the future. However, care must be taken to avoid a situation where public servants cease seeing public service as a secure career. Most of what Government does benefits from having career employees because continuity is a great deal in administrative work, which forms the great bulk of public service employment.

The third major problem is national pay. This is perhaps the most sacred of cows of public service workers and unions, but there is no logic or fairness in such arrangements. If everyone in the NHS receives the same pay for the same job regardless of where they are living, there is in reality no national pay because of the considerable regional differences in cost of living. There are parts of the UK where, for example, teachers earn below substantially below the local average and others where they earn well above the local average. Hence, we have regional pay but quite perniciously the lowest pay is paid in the highest cost areas. The consequence is that there are often staff shortages in the higher cost of living areas and the quality of staff employed in such areas may be below the standard required simply because no one else can be recruited at the pay levels. The answer is to introduce regional RPIs (Retail Price Indices) – which would include housing costs – and vary wages according to those.

Regional RPIs would solve much of the present difficulty for public service workers in high cost areas. It would not be politically possible to reduce the pay of existing employees, but it could be held static in the lowest cost areas and differential increases given in other areas until regional pay was established. For example, suppose area A is the cheapest area and area Z is the most expensive. Area A gets no increase until its pay level reaches that which matches its Regional RPI, while Area Z immediately gets an increase which raises its pay level to that required by its Regional RPI. Ditto for all areas between A and Z. If their pay is beyond that required by their regional RPI, it remains pegged until pay and cost of living equalise: if below their Regional RPI, they get a rise to match it. As time goes on, the higher pay of the higher cost areas will be balanced by the lower pay of the lower cost areas. There would be no massive extra ongoing expenditure as eventually the lower and higher pay levels would broadly cancel each other out. However, there would be an initial cost because no one will have their pay immediately reduced while some will have it increased substantially.  [RH 2012: although I am still in favour of regional pay, this is something which should be accomplished in good economic times not the times we have now. That is because some areas are much more dependent on public sector jobs than others, something which affects the economy of the area generally.  Even though the reduction in money would be gradual under my scheme it might still in present circumstances be the straw which breaks the camel’s back in areas struggling to move out of recession.]

Much of the problem of regional cost variations could be obviated if the cost of housing was substantially reduced. Government can take the lead by making more housing available in the areas in which it is scarce – see section for detailed suggestions. In particular, a ready supply of housing both to let and buy at reasonable prices would largely overcome the problem of the young who have yet to buy. A middle-aged person who brought their home 20 years before requires far less to live comfortably than someone trying to buy their first property. The latter have near insuperable problems in many places.For example, in inner London, an income of £50,000 would not be enough to buy the most basic family home because a three bedroom property would be in excess of £300,000 in even the cheapest areas.

The cost of any re-grading could also be offset by reducing the numbers of public servants in some areas. This would naturally meet with resistance from public servants, but if it is done without compulsory redundancies – and it could be – the objection to it is not strong. Staff can be redeployed to other posts and new recruitment to the remaining departments reduced to accommodate them. Attention has to be paid to the age structure of a workforce – no large organisation wantsto find itself in the position of having a sizeable proportion of its staff retiring at the same time – but with an employer as large and diverse as the Government, this should not be an insuperable problem.

Why not simply have wages set by what the market will bear  in any particular place? If there is a shortage of nurses in London why not pay them £30,000 if that is what it takes, but only £10,000 if that is a competitive wage in, say, Cornwall? That begs the question of the quality of the recruits you attract and their long term retention. You may get enough recruits at the low rate but they may be of poor quality. There is also the question of motivation once employed. Poor motivation equals less efficient working. Pay should be high enough to avoid those two evils. If higher wages produce greater motivation and ability in the staff employed, the number of staff could be reduced.

The great advantage of adopting a system of broad definitions – tying pay to the average full time wage and Regional RPIs – is that it would be both stable and largely self adjusting. Problems could arise where recruitment becomes an issue. Then, as mentioned above, re-grading might have to occur to raise pay in a particular area of work or region.

All the Public Service Unions and many public servants will instinctively reject what I have suggested because such things as national pay scales and the preservation of jobs are part of the emotional scenery in public service. But public servants do not have a right to determine how many people will be employed by the Government and they should always remember that a public servant must have a necessary and useful function to maintain public support.

What public servants do have is a right to a decent living wage for what they do and to reasonable working conditions which includes the assured opportunity for a career and staffing adequate to carry out the tasks Government sets them. If they start from those two premises they have a much greater chance of achieving their ends than they have in merely maintaining the status quo.

Above all, it should never be forgotten by the public servant that the taxpayer is the paymaster for all government spending. A statement of the blindingly obvious perhaps, but one which tends to be glossed over by governments who speak as though they are spending their own money when they talk of “an extra £3 billion for the NHS” or “£200 million to  take crime off the streets”. Public money is not unlimited nor is the level of public spending without consequences for the general economic health of the country.

Most public servants know that there are pluses and minuses in public service and that moving to private employment has its disadvantages as well as being very difficult in areas where private businesses are not thick on the ground. There is also the example of public sector employees who have had their jobs privatised. They have frequently found that their new conditions of work are inferior to those they enjoyed when in public service. Public servants also know in their heart of hearts that security of employment is still considerably greater in public service than in private business. Consequently, the government has a strong card to play if they choose to play it, namely, continued security of employment in return for the radical changes described above.

18. The right to strike

Some public service workers do not have the right to strike – the police and the armed forces. Is it unreasonable to deny them this right? I think most people – myself amongst them – would say no. They would see that the right to strike has to be balanced against the public good of having the streets policed and soldiers,sailors and airmen who will be unquestionably available to provide national defence and to attend to national emergencies.

If we decide as a society that the police and servicemen cannot strike, there is no reason in principle why the removal of the right to strike cannot be more widely extended for we have already decided it is not an absolute right. The question is how far to extend the denial of the right.

There is a case for a general ban on striking by public service workers because they are funded by the taxpayer and ultimately responsible to the taxpayer or at least the electorate. But before any such ban could be reasonably considered the general pay and employment conditions must be made fair and secure in the manner described in the previous section – their pay and conditions would have to be such that the majority of the population would think them reasonable. That would leave the problem of union action over unfair dismissal or other disciplinary action, but it is difficult for a union to argue that there is not adequate recourse through Employment Tribunals or, if the union wishes to fund a case brought by one of their members, through the courts.

If a general ban is thought too severe, there is good reason to ban strikes in those organisations which provide services which are both vital and immediately necessary. It would be difficult to argue that all-out strikes by NHS staff or firemen would cause less public damage and chaos than strikes by the police or servicemen.

Because of privatisation there are also private companies whose employees in principle need to be banned from striking, particularly the utilities such as gas, water and electricity. That raises another objection to the placing of utilities in private hands: it makes action such as ruling strikes illegal for certain workers very difficult, even impossible in practice. The utilities being private companies,  governments cannot control their wages and  conditions of employment  as they can those of public bodies. Or rather, they could do so, but then they would be taking so much of the control of a fundamental part of a private business out of its management’s hands (this would be in addition to the areas already covered by the various utility regulators) that two questions would arise: (1) could any private  company operate under such constraints? and (2) if a company has to be so constrained by government, what is the point of it being a private company? The answer to (1) is probably no and to ((2) no point.

19. The ability of private companies to manage public services

Take the case of the NHS. It is the largest employer in Europe, employing not far short of a million people. No private company has any experience of managing an organisation anything like that size. In fact, very few private companies have any experience of managing a workforce of even 20,000. A fair number of Government departments and agencies are considerably larger than the 20,000 employee business. On the grounds of size alone the transfer of large scale public service activities to private sector control is problematic because the private sector simply does not have that many people with experience of running such large concerns.

An even more fundamental difficulty is the fact that much public service work is specific to public service. The administration of complex legislation and rules present an employee with a far higher learning curve (for even rank and file staff) than would be found in the vast majority of similar level private sector posts. To this is added the need to keep up with the ever more frequent changes created by government to the law (this is partly driven by the innumerable EU directives). Consequently it is not a simple matter to substitute private sector workers for public sector workers because the private sector workers have to be trained from scratch.

Of course, when public sector work is shifted to the private sector public sector staff often move to the private employer. But private companies are profit driven and when moving into public sector work almost always seek to maximise profits by severely cutting staff. This both reduces the number of experienced staff and frequently demoralizes those who remain because they have an ever increasing burden. This in turn leads to many of the experienced staff leaving and the expertise available to the employer to continually diminish.

20. Private money in public projects – “Buy now, pay later”

The introduction of private money into public projects, whether under the title of the Public Private Partnership or its successor the Private Finance Initiative, is a fraud on the public. As Hire Purchase used to be advertised in my youth, it is “Buy now, pay later”.  Private companies put up the money for, say, a hospital, build it and  then lease it back to the NHS.. The taxpayer then pays through the nose for twenty or thirty years as the lease is serviced. For example, Tory health spokesman Andrew Lansley has just elicited the truth from the Government about the cost of the new hospitals built under PFI. For hospitals worth £8 billion the taxpayer will pay the private sector companies responsible for them a total of £53 billion over thirty years, a return on capital of 540% (Daily Telegraph 27 10 2006).

The honest way for Governments to finance projects is to raise taxes or increase the national debt. Then the public can see clearly what is being done and judge the cost. With PFI and its ilk, the cost does not appear as government spending immediately. It is “Enron accounting”, the removal of expenditure from the balance sheet for the present but not the future. The expenditure only appears gradually as the debt is met by charging the government for the services provided or alternatively by charging the customer directly. For example, if toll roads are built and/or maintained by private capital, the contractors could charge the motorist directly to recoup their costs.

But the deceit goes beyond the hidden deferral of expenditure. Much of the detail of the contracts made with private companies is not being made available to the public on the spurious grounds of “commercial confidentiality”. Even the Government has had to admit that the cost of PPP and PFI projects will be considerably more than if they were undertaken directly by the Government using taxpayers’ money. The deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, made such an admission in his speech to the 2002 Labour Party Conference. What we cannot be sure of, because of the lack of public openness in revealing the contracts, is how much more expensive PFI and its ilk will be. What we can be sure of is that the difference is likely to be considerable.

The Government’s justification for paying over the odds is that it allows things to be provided quickly rather than having to wait for the money for direct public funding to become available. As more public money will have to be found in the future to fund PFI projects set in train now, the consequence will be much less money for public provision when the PFI bills come in. Therefore, at best, future generations will be paying more in tax for less in public services. The real justification for PFI is of course that it allows a government to claim credit for what is provided now in the knowledge that when the bills come in the people making the decisions cannot be held responsible.

Many of the contracts being granted to private companies are for periods of 15, 20 even 30 years. The life of a politician in government is short on average, either because of election defeats or sacking by the PM of the day. Five continuous years as a cabinet minister is good going. In the vast majority of cases the politicians who made the decision to go ahead with PFI will be out of office not merely long before the final bills are paid but in all probability by the next Parliament after a contract is signed. Once out of office, they can ignore any problem which arises and the sad truth of the matter is  that nothing can be done to make them take responsibility for their decisions as things stand. At worst, all that will happen is the electorate in a constituency throwing them out at the next election, which for an ex-minister is no great loss. It should be added that it rarely happens that an individual MP is thrown out by the electorate for his or her personal failings because the power of party label is too great.

Why are private finance schemes so much more expensive? They have to make a profit of course but there are other reasons. The private concerns financing the projects have to borrow money at a higher rate of interest than the Government can, perhaps 1-2% more. That is because the risk is greater for the lender . The borrower has to make a profit on the borrowed money so he must charge more than he is paying for the money to finance the scheme. That is the obvious extra cost. But there are many hidden additional costs.

Most problematic is the fact that private business will not accept all risks. For example, the company bidding for the Tube maintenance contract will not accept the financial risk of tunnels under the Thames being flooded. The consequence of this is that contracts exclude the really high risks. The Government has to cover them. So it ends up with both the major risk and paying more for the construction work.

The actual position is even worse than that. Private companies may accept risks and obligations in their contracts which they simply cannot meet. The Government is then forced to step in. Thus the Government in practice underwrites the whole business, either officially or unofficially.

Much of what is happening is a halfway house to public disengagement. Hospitals can be granted “Foundation Status”. This allows them to raise whatever money they can on the private market on terms they decide upon with the lenders. That in turn implies that they may l have to start charging for services if Britain’s economic circumstances  alter seriously for the worse – thus reducing tax revenue – or a government’s attitude to the NHS changes. . The difference between an unambiguously privatised NHS and what is likely to occur some years down the line is very narrow. And, of course, the closer the situation gets to full privatisation, the more probable will become full privatisation, because the financial structures required for it will exist and the moral argument against it will have largely eroded by the failure to stoutly defend the principle of public service.

21. The London Underground – PPP in action

Christian Wolmar’s book “Down the Tube – the battle for London’s Underground” points the way to the shape of public/private things to come. It is a truly depressing future.

Ignoring the shambles which are our privatised railways, the Labour Government has forced a PPP on the London  nderground, one of the largest Metro systems in the world and a transport conduit absolutely necessary to London’s functioning, carrying as it does millions of people a day. They have added insult to injury by retaining the running of the trains in public hands while putting the maintenance of the infrastructure – track, stations, signalling etc – in the hands of private companies. The fact that it is the maintenance of the infrastructure which has caused the most serious of the problems in the privatised overground railways has simply been ignored.

This PPP has just about every flaw that one could imagine. The contract is very long – 30 years. Even if everything goes to plan, the cost to the public is unknown. Right from the start the taxpayer will be paying a subsidy to the private consortium of œ1 billion a year, despite assurances originally that no subsidies would be paid. Worse, even the Government admits that it does know what level of subsidy will be required throughout the 30 years of the contract. Nor can it give any figure of cost to the taxpayer if the PPP fails, that I, the private companies either liquidate or walk away.

“Walk away?” do you say? But surely the companies have accepted the risk and are legally liable for any failure to meet performance targetsor for any catastrophic events such as flooding of the tunnels under the Thames?  Actually, no. Their liability for cost overruns is capped, more or less, at £50 million for each quarter of the 30 year deal and they have written into the contracts a disclaimer for events such as flooding. If the private companies really run into trouble, the taxpayer takes over responsibility for 95% of the loans taken out by the private companies.

Then there is their profitability. The private companies have a “guaranteed” rate of return on capital of almost 20%, a return twice that considered to be a good commercial profit.

On top of all that cost and potential risk to the taxpayer, there will be a truly daunting administrative burden. The contracts to set up the PPP run to some two million words.  Responsibility is diffuse and the criteria for assessing the performance of the private companies opaque. The PPP will require a large additional bureaucracy just to oversee the workings of the contracts and the inevitable disputes between the private companies and the public body as to interpretation of the contracts will be a bonanza for the lawyers.

22. Capita

We already have a great deal of evidence of the effects of private enterprise on public services. The results generally have been less than sparkling. Remember the Criminal Records Bureau fiasco of September 2002 when schools were prevented from opening for the new term because those working in the schools had not been vetted for criminal convictions in time? Or how about the Individual Learning Accounts scheme which resulted in a loss of at least tens of millions of pounds in the past few years? If you are a resident of the London Borough of Lambeth you may recall housing benefit being so badly run by a private company that it was rapidly returned to the control of the council. Or how about the maladroit administration of the London Congestion charge which makes London drivers’ lives a misery? All these are examples of a private company taking over the administration of public matters and making a pig’s ear of things.

More worryingly, they were all the responsibility of a firm called Capita. I say worryingly, because Capita, far from being shut out from other public contracts, is positively cornering the market for such business. In addition to the contracts mentioned above, Capita collects the BBC’s licence fee. It also runs the written part of the Diving Test in parts of the country. The “Connexions” card being promoted to schoolchildren by the Government, a Trojan Horse for a general ID card, is run by Capita, who also supply management software to 23,000 UK schools. Capita even have the contract to run the pension scheme of the Inland Revenue.

Had Capita proven itself to be a model of competence, such a concentration of work in one company would be disturbing for it suggests at best that the competition for these contracts is extremely limited. It would be interesting to know who else tendered and what the tendering process was. But even if these details were made public, the old cry of “commercial confidentiality” would almost certainly prevent any meaningful public examination of the merits of the various tenders.

Capita is far from being the only company rewarded with new contracts despite clear evidence of incompetence . The people who brought you the Railtrack maintenance fiasco, Jarvis, have just been awarded the contract to build a new surgical and heart care unit for an NHS hospital in London, the Whittington at Archway.

There are two possible reasons why poor performance does not disqualify a company from future contracts. The first is structural. Many of the contracts being offered are of a size and complexity to reduce the number of realistic bidders to at best a few and at worst one. Thus the idea that private input into public business will ever generally equal greater efficiency is doomed. All that has been created is a form of public/private monopoly.

The other possible reason for continued contract winning regardless of performance is corruption. That is not to suggest that corruption has occurred to date, merely that the possibility exists. It deserves a section to itself (see section 27) .

A company bidding for public contracts may well quote a price which is simply too low to maintain performance. They may deliberately bid too low. Having gained the contract, the company confronts the Government with a claim that they can only make a profit (or even break even) unless they reduce the service from that for which they have contracted or receive more favourable payment terms. The government is then left with a decision: can they afford to drop the contractor? Is there another contractor which could take over? The answer to both questions is almost certainly no.

23. The morality of privatisation

Does a British government have the right to sell off industries and property owned by the state? In Britain the answer legally is yes. Barring restrictions agreed to in treaties, most particularly the Treaty of Rome and its successor treaties, a British government may legally do what it wishes. It may also repudiate existing treaty obligations. Parliament may in principle pass any law it wishes. That demonstrates the danger of having a political system without any constitutional bars to government action.

But if privatisation is legal, it does not follow that it is morally justified. These are enterprises and property which were either developed from scratch by government or were taken over by the state, often from municipal undertakings which were public developments in themselves. In each case taxpayers’ money was used to either start or acquire them. For Britons who bought shares privatisation was a form of taxation. They paid money for that which the state already held on their behalf. Non-British taxpayers purchased that which was not morally the State’s to sell. But the deceit went beyond this. By selling that which was held in common for the British, they robbed those Britons who did not purchase shares and the future generations who would have no stake in that which was sold before they were born.

Privatisation could perhaps have been morally justified if every British citizen had been issued free shares in each privatized industry, which they could then have held or sold as they chose. The Government would not then have had the proceeds, of course, but it should be remembered that the prime reason given by Margaret Thatcher for privatisation was that it would modernise great British industries through the invigorating blast of free enterprise. Ostensibly at least the raising of money for the government was not the prime motivation.

The money received from privatisation has simply vanished into general government expenditure. Had the money been earmarked for particular projects dear to the public’s heart, such as new hospitals and schools or placed in a separate fund to help pay the state pension in the years when it is anticipated that those working will substantially decline in relation to those who are retired, at least the public would have something concrete and identifiable to set against the loss of public assets. As it is the public as a whole has nothing.

It is of course impossible to prove whether taxes would have been higher or that government expenditure would have been lower if there had been no privatisation proceeds, but it is a fair bet that extra money in government coffers has simply meant additional government expenditure without a proper regard to whether the expenditure was warranted. That is the common experience of governments and public money.

The money obtained through privatisation should not be viewed as pure gain in terms of government expenditure. Privatisation has caused agreat deal of what private business euphemistically call “downsizing”. The resultant unemployment costs – unemployment pay and other benefits – have to be set against the privatisation receipts. In addition, a large proportion of those who have gained alternative employment have found themselves earning a good deal less than they did previously. That equals less tax paid.

24. Our general experience of privatisation to date

The prime problems with privatisation are (1) the provision declines,(2) the taxpayer has to pick up the bill when things go seriously wrong and (3) privatised industries are often left in a situation of naturally restricted competition.

The best example of what happens when the state simply opens up amarket to private interests is probably bus deregulation. This happenedin the mid-eighties. The consequence has been predictable and devastating, with the countryside being virtually denuded of buses and even the big cities apart from London – where a massive public subsidy has continued – have experienced a decline in services as bus operators concentrate on only the most profitable routes. In addition, on the profitable routes, there are so many competing buses that the buses themselves can become a cause of congestion themselves – Manchester is a good example of this phenomenon.

The railways are the most disturbing example of cost to the taxpayer after privatisation. Not only has the taxpayer paid larger subsidies to the rail companies since privatisation than were paid to nationalised British Rail, and absurdity in itself, several billions of taxpayers money have been required to rescue the company responsible for maintaining the track and associated equipment, Railtrack, after it became insolvent and was put into administration. (The company has now been reborn as a strange hybrid creature, anon-profit making company called Network Rail.)

Another example is the immediate difficulty suffered by the National Air Traffic service (NATs) after partial privatisation in 2002. The new company had barely started trading before the Government had to extend a £30 million loan to it.

As for competition, the government appointed regulators are supposed to remove the natural abuses of restricted competition by controlling prices. Whether it is possible for even a genuinely disinterested person to determine objectively what a reasonable or efficient price for a product or service is in such circumstances is dubious,  because what constitutes legitimate profit, the right level of investment or the desirable level of service to be offered are ultimately matters of opinion.

But these problems of definition are in practice redundant, because regulators are subject to pressures from politicians, the public, the industry they regulate and business in general. The result is that pricing frequently bears little relationship to any considered view of what is necessary, but is variously a response to what the government wants, a reaction to higher than anticipated profits being made by the regulated industry or threats from the private companies of dire consequences if prices are not raised.

What are the unambiguous successes of privatisation? Telephones, perhaps, most older people would probably say as they remember the absurdly long wait for a new line and the complete lack of choice of phone in the days of the nationalised British Telecom. Beyond telephones, it is difficult to see any privatisation in which the balance of advantage has been clearly in the country’s or the individual’s favour. The railways have been an unmitigated disaster, basic industries such as coal and steel have either collapsed or effectively been exported – with a massive loss of jobs inducing structural employment in places. The gas and electricity companies produced cheap power for a while but that was largely the result of Britain’s because of North Sea gas. When that self-sufficiency began to wane energy prices rose dramatically. In the case of water, prices have risen substantially since privatisation while shortages have grown and customers are now facing the prospect of compulsory water metering – some areas already have it. Investment has been inadequate – for example, no new reservoir has been built to serve the water starved SE of England since the privatisation of the nationalised water utility – and service, especially on the maintenance side, is widely perceived to have declined because of the dramatic cuts in the workforce.

Even in the case of telecommunications the picture is blurred. Nationalised British Telecom might have been a something of a disaster on the marketing and customer front, but it did ensure that coverage with landlines was near universal in Britain, something which would have been impossible had their provision been left to the market – how many private companies would have laid and maintained lines to small villages or even small, isolated towns? So when BT was privatised it started with the immense advantage of a near universal infrastructure which existed because of public provision.

But the rise of the mobile phone has made any proper comparison between the pre and post privatised situation virtually impossible. Even if BT had never been privatised and the landline phone market had remained a  monopoly, they would still have had to face private competition from mobiles. In other words, privatisation in that case largely pre-empted what would have happened naturally.

25. Private money in public service = a democratic deficit

The employment of private companies to carry out public tasks necessarily involves heavyweight contracts between the companies and the Government. These invariably carry a large compensation provision in the event of a government or a lesser political authority such as a Borough council deciding that it does not wish to honour a contract to its end. If they did not carry such compensation provision no private company would accept the contract.

The practical effect of such contracts is to create a democratic deficit. Because the compensation to be paid is very substantial, politicians are understandably reluctant to cancel contracts. Consequently, it becomes very difficult for a party to change a policy if it involves the cancellation of a contract. A first rate example is the introduction of the Congestion Charge in London by the Mayor of London , Ken Livingston. In the next mayoral election his principal rival, the Tory Steve Norris, promised to abolish the charge. It is dubious whether he could have done so if he had won because, according to Livingstone, £80 million in compensation would have had to be paid to Capita.

If an enterprise is run directly by public servants, it is in principle much easier to change policy because there are no contracts which require compensation if they are cancelled.

26. When private becomes public by default

Any really large private company by virtue of its size takes on aspects of the public. It does this because it becomes too important to be ignored by Government. If Barclays Bank was in danger of going bust no British Government could allow it to liquidate because of the effect on general confidence, both national and international, in the British economy. To confidence may be added cases where very large job losses would result from a liquidation or a vital domestic industry would be severely damaged by a company’s failure.

The implications of this for government are clear: they cannot simply stand back and ignore the behaviour of large private companies. That means governments should recognise that they may need to act to protect domestic industries – even in rare cases taking them over – and, where there is a strategic interest such as arises with a major domestic defence supplier, to place legal restrictions on what the company can do, for example by requiring export licences for weapons.

27. Corruption in Public Service

In modern times the British Civil Service has been remarkably free from corruption (local government is a different matter), a fact made all the more surprising because of the truly colossal amount of money it disposes of each year – government spending for the financial year 2006/7 will be around £500 billion. There are two reasons for this. The first is the hard-won tradition of public service which in which the Civil Service as an apolitical institution and as such serves no political ideology or party but provides politicians of all stamps with disinterested advice and executes their policies. This tradition has been underpinned by the lifelong working careers which public servants, especially senior ones, have commonly had. Of course, that was merely the ideal and, as with any human institution, the reality fell some way short of the ideal. Nonetheless, such sentiments and conventions have affected the behaviour of public servants for the better, especially in the area of honesty.

The second reason for a lack of corruption has been the direct provision of most the services provided by central government. This has meant that the number of large central government contracts offered to private business has been small in relation to the money spent on the direct provision of public service in all its aspects. In such circumstances serious fraud becomes difficult going on impossible for most civil servants because they do not have access to large amounts of taxpayers’ money. (Where they do have access, for example in the Inland Revenue, in most instances there are strict accounting procedures which make the embezzlement of large amounts of cash  extremely difficult). Moreover, where there are few government contracts, most civil servants are not in a position where someone would find it fruitful to bribe them because they have nothing to sell.

Unsurprisingly, where serious corruption amongst public servants employed by central government has occurred in the past, it has been overwhelmingly in those areas where large government contracts exist, most notably in Defence Procurement and building contracts. It is a reasonable assumption that the more public contracts offered to private companies, the greater the corruption will be simply because the opportunity for corruption increases.

The Thatcher and Major Governments began the attack on these two anti-corruption pillars of public service – the public service tradition and direct provision – by appointing people from outside the civil service to senior posts within the civil service, introducing private enterprise culture to public bodies (for example, the NHS “single market”), privatisation and by increasing the use of private finance and contractors in public services. But what they did pales before the Blair Government’s behaviour, which has done the same things but on a much greater scale. In particular Blair’s Government has shown a truly obsessive drive to replace direct public provision with private money and private firms. Literally nothing seems to be off limits, with public provision as disparate as the Prison Service and logistical support for the NHS being treated as suitable.

The Blair Government has also done two things the Thatcher and Major Governments did not do. First, it has radically altered the terms of employment of new civil servants, especially with regard to their retirement age and pensions, thus undermining the unspoken pact between government and civil servants that relatively poor pay was balanced by a relatively generous pension. Second, the Blair Government has classified “special advisers” that is political advisors, as civil servants, the most notable of whom is Blair’s erstwhile Press Spokesman, Alistair Campbell. These people have been given authority over career civil servants.

All this change is undermining the British public service culture. The appointment of special advisors as civil servants is destroying the apolitical nature of the civil service. The idea of a career civil servant is falling into disuse because no one can be sure what is next to be privatised or where a department may be moved to. The morale of civil servants is generally depressed. All of that translates into less commitment to the job, on average less time in a job and probably the employment of fewer able and trustworthy people as civil servants because the more able and trustworthy are now less willing to come into public service and standards have had to be lowered to recruit sufficient staff.

The weakening of the public service ethos and the probable lowering of the quality of the people employed is likely to have increased the number of civil servants willing to behave corruptly if the opportunity arises is increasing at the very time that the opportunities for corruption are multiplying because of the large number of private companies being given government contracts. Put those two circumstances together and it is odds on that civil service corruption has increased substantially.

What is applicable to national politicians and civil servants applies to other public servants, at both the national and local government level, and politicians below the national level.

In theory competitive tendering for public contracts should be a guard against corrupt practices. The problem is that in most instances the number of firms tendering will be small. Quite often there will be only two bidders. On occasion the process lapses into farce and only one firm will bid. This happened in the London borough of Camden where a £62.5 million contract for renovating an estate called Chalcots attracted only one bidder, a consortium going under the name of United House. The council’s housing director Neil Litherland claimed bizarrely that talking to just one bidder would lead to “better uses of [council] resources by reducing the negotiation and evaluation period” (Camden New Journal 12 12 2002).

There are good reasons why the number of bidders is often small. First, the size of the operations and their frequently unusual nature (often there is no comparable private sector work) means that there will only be a few private companies able to plausibly bid for a contract. Second, the bidding process is very expensive both in terms of money and time, especially management time. These two entirely rational and legitimate reasons for a paucity of bidders build great opportunities for corruption into the system of bidding. Where there are, say, only four companies capable of undertaking work in a particular area such as social housing, they can act as a cartel and effectively deal out public contracts amongst themselves by agreeing who will put in the highest bid for any contract.

Corruption is more than people receiving money in brown envelopes or material benefits in kind such as  expensive holidays. It is also the  granting of jobs years down the line, directorships for politicians and civil servants who have controlled the granting of Government contracts or who have used their influence to progress things such as planning applications.

The current rules regarding ministers and public servants taking posts in private industry are so lax as to be next to meaningless – they can take up posts after a year or two, regardless of how closely the private sector job is linked to their previous post. Moreover, the definition of which private industry posts are sensitive enough to demand even that slight obeisance to common decency is open to an elastic interpretation by those supposedly enforcing the rules if the secret view of politicians and senior public servants is that the rules are simply a public fig-leaf to cover their indecency. In effect, successive governments have legalised corruption and of course the more government contracts offered to private business the more opportunity there is for this type of “legalised” corruption.

Corruption can also be the giving of an honour or public service appointment in return for corrupt behaviour. For example, a contract could be granted to a private contractor corruptly through a conspiracy between the contractor, a cabinet minister and a senior public servant near retirement. The public servant corruptly facilitates the granting of the contract, retires and is rewarded with a quango sinecure. Again, the increase in contracts offers greater scope for such corruption.

That which is corrupting national politicians and the Civil Service is also evident in other public bodies, both national and local.

28. The behaviour of private companies

The blurring of lines between the public and the private arguably has a general effect for the worse on the behaviour of those in the public sphere, the bad practices of private enterprise being imported into the public sphere.

Private business is very prone to corrupt practices, from outright bribery to the formation of cartels and tricks such as industrial espionage, but the legal behaviour of private companies is frequently morally scandalous.

Directors of even the largest and ostensibly most publicly accountable companies commonly act in a manner which to most people’s  minds is immoral. The executive directors have absurdly generous and long-term contracts which are so undemanding that no matter how  badly a director performs, if they leave the board they can expect  the outstanding period of the contract to be paid in full. In many cases they receive more than their contract entitlement to persuade them to resign and go quietly.

While on a board, they executive directors receive performance bonuses set at targets which are simple to achieve. They will probably have  share options which, even if accounts are honest, are a one way bet for the director. If the shares rise above the discounted price of the option, the directors sell and pocket the profit. If the shares fall below the discounted price, they simply do not buy. It is of course easy enough to manipulate shares to boost their price at a particular time.

Why do directors get away with such behaviour? Simple: they can effectively control the company for their own purposes. In large public companies, directors’ remuneration is normally decided by a remuneration committee, which is normally composed of non-executive directors. Non-execs are supposed to act as a restraint and a check on executive directors. In practice they do not – try to find a case where a non-exec has blown the whistle on even criminal action within a large company. When it comes to directors’ remuneration, they know the score, produce the right executive director contracts or run the risk of being excluded from the lucrative non-exec gravy train.

The matter is complicated by the fact that many non-execs are executive directors with other companies where they have overly-generous contracts. What more natural than to think that because I earn this someone in another company should be similarly paid? Finally, especially in the largest companies, there is also a good deal of you-scratch-my-back-and-I’ll-scratch-yours. Executive directors of one company will expect to be non-execs of companies in which their non-execs have an interest.

Most of these practices cannot of course be imported directly into public service – inflated salaries, perks, bonuses paid on soft targets and generally overly favourable contracts are three which can and have been imported, for example, Johnston McNeil, the former head of the Rural Payments Agency, left his post after farm payments to English farmers were left in chaos early in 2006 but is still being paid his £114,000 salary in October 2006 (Daily Telegraph 18 10 2006). But the mentality rubs off on public servants (particularly the senior ones) who now deal with private business far more often that they use to and are urged by government to follow supposedly superior private enterprise practices. Sometimes the values are directly imported by the parachuting of people from outside of public service into senior public service positions. Where some part of public provision is subcontracted to a private contractor the ills of private business are imported wholesale.

29. Charities 

Most people when faced with the word charity attached to an institution are inclined to be well disposed to the organisation regardless of what the charity is supposed to do or how efficiently it does it.  If it is a popular area of work, such as medical research or the provision of services to disabled children, rationality goes out of the window. Hardly anyone questions how the money is spent or how much of it actually goes to the people the charity are supposedly helping. Nor do people distinguish between the sources of charitable income and many perhaps most are unaware that much of it is public money. This means that governments can support unpopular policies, such as those associated with political correctness, without the general public being aware that public money is being used to promote the policies.

The use of charities by politicians has other pernicious effects. It allows a government to evade responsibility even more effectively than the employment of private companies does because charities, especially popular ones, throw up a moral shield. As mentioned above people feel that money spent by a charity is a good in itself. That applies even when it is taxpayers’ money. A government can also make charitable donation part of their PR because they can gain kudos from the public by publicising their donations of taxpayers’ money to popular charities.

There is general  objection to the use of charities as publicly funded providers. They have a moral and civic role. The whole point of a charity is that it is the product of the individual will, a conglomeration of the active decisions of those who choose to make a contribution. It is part of what academics like to call civil society, those institutions which men naturally form in a free society and which fall outside the ambit of the state. Lose or even seriously diminish those institutions and the state determines all, for there is nothing to oppose it or offer an alternative.

Making a charity simply or largely a client of government undermines the very idea of charity. There is every chance that if charities are seen as arms of government, private donations to them will begin to dry up. That in turn would have spending implications for the taxpayer, because although often inefficient, charities do fund a considerable amount of what would otherwise be described as public provision. The taxpayer would end up footing the bill for extra public provision. State funding also makes charities forget their original role and become dependent on the state funding.

Government already channels gigantic wads of public money to charities for the purposes of research and active provision of services. This fits in with the drive to subcontract public provision which is now officially supported by not only the Labour Party and Tories but half-heartedly by the LibDems. Whoever is in power for the foreseeable future, it is a fair bet that the relationship between charities and the Government will broaden and deepen.  That will remove charities ever further from their original moral purpose.

Charities also epitomise the practical difficulties of mixing private and public. It is true that as non-profit making bodies they share some of the ethos of public service and the profit motive is absent. The problem is that charities, even large ones, are often very inefficient. The poorly run ones spend a great deal on administration. Many of the largest use professional fund raisers who take between 15-50% of what they collect from the public (the young men and women who increasingly infest our pavements on behalf of charities are paid employees of a professional fund raiser). They spend inordinate amounts on advertising. They hoard money rather than spend it. They manage their money poorly. They fail to modernise their service. Their accounts are inadequate.

Take the case of Scope, the charity previously known as the Spastics Society, which aids those with cerebral palsy. It is a mainstream charity of just the sort to attract public sympathy in large measure. The first thing to note is that it changed its name in 1994 from something everyone could immediately understand – the Spastics Society – to something which most people would not have a clue about. The charity had allowed itself to be seduced by the marketing sirens. It is difficult to imagine this confusion did not have some effect on fundraising.

In January 2006 Scope announced it was shutting 50 of its shops because it had a predicted £310 million deficit. (Daily Telegraph 13/01/2006). The Telegraph account went on to disclose that Scope’s last accounts showed that it was budgeting to spend £35.6 million more than it received in the financial year 2006/7, that there was a hole in its pension fund and that its buildings suffer widespread dilapidation through lack of investment. I think most people who think about it would be somewhat disturbed by the idea that a charity had a pension fund of any size and that a substantial part of their donations are going to fund it. Charities in the public mind are thought of as institutions where people offer their services either free or at a discounted rate. The idea that their paid employees are just like any other employee does not fit comfortably with the public’s idea of charity.

One of the directors of Scope Jan Hildreth (also a former director-general of the Institute of Directors summed up the mentality of his and many other charities: “Like many charities, the concern of the society has always been its activity and not its finances.”

Interestingly, Scope blamed part of its plight on ‘the Government for underfunding services it provides, such as residential and school places. “It wants our services, but it doesn’t want to pay for them,” the spokesman said. “This is a drain on our coffers.” ‘

The idea that charities will generally be more efficient than direct public provision is simply laughable. Not only do they suffer from the structural ills of public service they lack any proper public accountability. Charities are audited each year, but that audit is much less demanding than the audit required of large public companies. Moreover, their frequent failure to keep adequate records makes any audit of the use of public money very difficult. It would also be a very expensive job to monitor their spending of public money meaningfully.

As the Scope complaint quoted above suggests, governments may also see charities as a cheap means of public provision. Whether it is or not is another matter – personally I would doubt it because of the widespread incompetence in the charity world.

There is a further problem wih charities, namely what is a legitimate charity? Take our public schools. They are overwhelmingly charities. They also have in most cases a history of one hundred years or more. This means that the profit motive is absent and a quasi public-service (civil society) ethos has had time to evolve. Yet public schools – which get around £100 million tax relief – have always subsidised the education of the poorer middleclass children rather than the education of the truly poor. Why should they have status of a charity?

There are also many questionable cases where the charity exists to fund something which is essentially, even in principle, a private or sectional interest, for example the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. Why should the taxpayer subsidise such institutions?

[RH in 2012 There are more than 200,000 charities in the UK. Does anyone honestly believe that there can possibly be that number of good causes? http://www.ncvo-vol.org.uk/networking-discussions/blogs/116/09/10/06/how-many-charities-are-there. Many disburse little of the money collected or, in quite a few cases nothing, to the causes they ostensibly support. Quite a few are set up by the wealthy who gain tax relief on donations to their charity and then use the money donated to finance their pet projects and/or draw substantial payments in the guise of expenses or pass on some material benefit to friends and relations by getting the charity to employ them].

30. Does market competition produce greater choice generally?

One of the prime arguments for introducing business practices, private money and private business into public provision is that it improves choice. British citizens, increasingly referred to as consumers or customers rather than patients, passengers or any other appellation which emphasises the public nature of the provision, supposedly want choices of schools for their children and to go to the “best” hospital or to enjoy the “superior” service coming from private companies with public provision contracts such as those running the railways or utilities such as water or gas.

Take the case of the privatised railways. Before privatisation all a passenger had to do was buy a ticket and get on a train. The only thing the passenger had to consider was whether there was a time or date restriction on the ticket. Now, the passenger has to not merely worry about time and date, but whether he or she is getting on a train run by a particular company – how many people have been on an intercity train when the ticket inspector has got into a dispute with someone who has bought a ticket for the train’s destination but it is the wrong ticket for that particular train? The customer is also besieged by a bewildering array of pricing, far more than was on offer when the railway was state owned.

I doubt whether the average passenger welcomes either the multiplicity of carriers or ticket prices. A person can have too much choice. Human beings want some but not a vast amount, which merely becomes confusing. If you want to travel somewhere you do not want it to be a demanding exercise in both finding out what the cheapest fare is and ensuring that the terms of the ticket are not inadvertently breached.

Does market competition produce greater choice even in a “free market”? There is a good argument to say it does not. The natural tendency of a free market is to produce reduced competition. Governments of all colours in countries which have a large free enterprise component to their economy recognise this by maintaining anti-monopoly legislation. (What are called free market economies are in fact state regulated economies and regulated in the most fundamental way, that is,  the prevention of increase of market share beyond a certain point).

But anti-monopoly legislation only prevents the worst anti-competitive excesses. There is still very wide scope for anti-competitive forces, especially in capital intensive and technologically advanced industries – think Microsoft and operating systems or airliners in a market of two or three suppliers.

But the process is a general one. Even enterprises which are not innately capital intensive are affected. Retailing is a good example. A hundred years ago department stores were still in their infancy. Supermarkets and shopping Malls unknown. The vast majority of purchases  were made from small, privately owned shops or from open air markets.  Most of the shops specialised in a narrow trade.

Today we have far fewer shops and markets. Supermarkets and Shopping Malls abound. The chain stores of at most a few dozen companies become  ever more pervasive. There are many fewer specialist shops. The private retailer is assaulted from all sides by the large  multiple-store retailers and increasingly succumbs as the public is seduced by the immediate temptations of price and convenience without regard to the social long-term consequences of what they do. The  =privately owned shop does not even have to be in the immediate vicinity of a giant chain store to suffer. It merely has to be within reasonable driving distance of the chain store. The consequence is that the poorer areas of larger towns and cities and country villages and small towns are denuded of their shops. The choice of the poorer residents of such places is tremendously reduced. The wealthier do not of coursecare about this because it has no direct effect on them. They have the wherewithal to either live in areas well serviced by stores and services or can afford to drive to the large supermarkets or have goods delivered from far afield. Such developments fall within the remit of government. It is not for Government to operate supermarkets but it is within their remit to prevent commercial behaviour which is anti-social.

What constitutes choice anyway? Is it, for example, having more shops offering a smaller range of products or fewer shops offering a greater range of product? In practice fewer shops will mean reduced variety of product as well as service. But what of all the choice in giant supermarkets you say? Do they not have a much greater range of product? Surely they provide more choice. They may provide a greater range in one place but that is all.

The advent of industrial-style agri-farming, the bringing in of increased amounts of imported food from around the world and introduction of new manufactured foods may give the impression of greater choice, but is an illusion. The number of varieties of staple fruits and vegetables has been massively reduced, as have the various breeds of farm animals.

Of course, the providers of anything which sells can always say “If people didn’t want it they wouldn’t buy it”. But that begs the question of what alternatives are available. If only three types of washing powder were available doubtless they would sell massively more than any one brand does now. That does not mean they are more popular merely that people have to have such a product and were forced to buy one of the three brands available. Such restriction of choice is increasingly commonplace.

31. How Government gratuitously takes on obligations

Governments regularly make rods for their own backs. Social policy is an area more prone to this sickness than most.

When a government urges the electorate to take action it places itself under both a moral and democratic  obligation. It may even in certain circumstances place itself under a legal obligation when a government sponsored supervisor such as those supervising the financial services industry, fail to act to prevent the mis-selling of pensions.

Since the 1980s British governments have pressed people to buy houses, take out private pensions, pay for private healthcare and insure themselves against unemployment. The consequences have been at various times, negative equity in houses and widespread repossessions, pension scandals ranging from the Maxwellian hand-in-till to an attempt to renege on the conditions of policies by the Equitable Life and ever more expensive private health care and unemployment insurance. The consequence has been that time and again the taxpayer has had to come to the rescue either by paying compensation in cases such as Barlow Clowes or through increased benefits paid to those who have lost their saving or investments. In those cases where the Government has forced private companies to compensate people directly, such as the various mis-selling scandals in the pension industry, the result has been higher premiums for all and frequently reduced pensions, annuities and endowment payments for many.

The sensible course for a government is to allow people to make private choices completely unhindered by state propaganda. That way they do not incur any moral obligation if things go wrong. It also ensures that the electorate does not automatically blame the government when investments turn sticky.

Of course, the state does have to regulate those who offer private insurance, mortgage and pension schemes to prevent outright criminality, such as that which occurred in the Robert Maxwell Mirror Pensions Fund scandal. This regulation should consist of (1) laws laying out what can and cannot be done, (2) very strict auditing rules

for such businesses and funds, (3) laws placing responsibility firmly on the shoulders of those who administer the businesses and funds and (4) the efficient enforcement of such laws – those responsible for the businesses and funds must believe that there will be no walking away from a mess if money goes missing or reckless mismanagement occurs.

What, no regulators for financial institutions? Well, experience shows that having a regulator to licence such businesses is pointless at best – think of BCCI and Barlow Clowes – and may even help fraud and gross mismanagement by giving a spurious respectability and solidity to the firms they licence. Moreover, the rules which regulators operate by are frequently bent as circumstances dictate, for example, the solvency rules by which Assurance companies operate have been relaxed several times in the past ten years simply because, with the fall of the stockmarket, many of the largest companies would probably have gone under if the original rules had been enforced.

32. Making personal private provision – the problems of investing

To expect the vast majority of human beings to be expert enough in financial matters to make wise private investment decisions is absurd, as absurd as expecting every man to be his own lawyer. Therefore, all but a few of us will turn to supposedly expert advisors for advice. The problem with such people is twofold: they often have a vested uniters in selling or promoting a particular product and even when they do not, they are frequently bad judges of the financial future. (If investing was easy and certain for the so-called experts, all financial institutions would be permanently hugely successful).

When someone sells you a private pension plan or insurance, he does not do it out of the goodness of his heart. He does it because he earns a commission or fee from it. As the pensions mis-selling scandal of the Thatcher years showed, that incentive drives many, probably most, financial service consultants to sell the product most beneficial to their income rather than to the customer.

The customer can also get misled if he takes reputedly independent advice, whether this be from a self-described independent financial adviser or out of the financial pages of newspapers and magazines or investment newsletters. The advice given may be anything but independent. Unbeknown to the client, an advisor may get a commission for recommending an investment and media share tipsters often have no scruples about recommending shares which they know to be poor performers, either because of direct inducements from the companies or because they work for a company which gets business from the share tipped. Share tipsters can also make a profit by “ramping up” a price in shares they hold by recommending it or depress a share by criticising it and then buying at the depressed price.

Those recommending shares or financial products are in a wonderful position: they can tip to their heart’s content without taking any responsibility for their tips. No tipster has a consistent record of predicting successful investments. Quite a few have utterly dismal records over years. Indeed, so poor is their general performance that one might ask whether it is any worse than randomly selecting investments. It may even be worse. As Woody Allen once remarked, “A stockbroker is someone who invests your money until it is gone”.

The Daily Telegraph put the matter of share tipping to a sort of test in 2001. It employed a professional tipster, an astrologer and a four year old child to notionally invest £5000 in the stock market. The professional tipster applied his supposed expertise. The astrologer selected her shares using her star charts. The four year old child chose by repeatedly tossing (at the same time) a number of pieces of paper in the air with the names of shares written on them. At each toss she caught one. After a year all the investments had lost money, but the four-year-old-child lost least, followed by the astrologer with the supposed financial expert bringing up the rear quite some way behind.

A rational examination of the actual performance of tipsters and advisors could only lead to the conclusion that predicting the future economy is a mug’s game. Why would an expert do worse than a four-year-old child and an astrologer? Well, it could have been a fluke, but an unlikely one as both the child and the astrologer did better. More probably the financial advisor’s knowledge is a positive hindrance. A parallel is with the football pools. Many people have a very considerable knowledge of the form and general state of professional football clubs. Yet these people do not appear to be any better at predicting results than the punter who knows nothing about football and does the pools by putting a pin in the matches or has fixed numbers.

The truth is that no one can guarantee investment for a secure future or even come anywhere near to it. All calls for private provision replacing public in whole or part should be placed in that context.

33. Supporting old age

The most problematic of all public provision is what to do about the old. The value of actuarial calculations – the statistical analysis of risk based on instances of the risk occurring – made sense for pension calculations when life spans from generation to generation were fairly stable. Because of our ever increasing ability to cure and prevent disease and to provide a more materially certain livelihood for the majority, life expectancy in the future is no longer easily predicted. Even if the wilder extremes of SF are avoided, it is reasonable to assume a significant rise in life expectancy in the next forty years. The rise does not have to be dramatic to make a nonsense of pension provision made today – even a five year rise in the average would have dramatic consequences for pension planning.

A substantial rise in the average lifespan does not necessarily imply some major scientific breakthrough to slow or even reverse ageing. All that would be required is for scientific advances to reduce the diseases which kill many before they reach the average age of death. In other words, more people survive to the ages which are now the average lifespans. It is quite conceivable that within the next 40 years simply reducing early death could extend the average lifespan by ten years.

More dramatically, it is conceivable that science may extend human lifespans substantially beyond their current limits. Work on animals such as mice have resulted in greatly extended lifespans simply by restricting food intake from early in life. If human lifespans are extended greatly all pension bets are off. In such circumstances no meaningful actuarial prediction for pensions could be made for the odds would be that further, unforeseeable increases in life span would occur continuously after the initial scientific breakthrough was made. The fact that such scientific advances are possible in itself makes current pension planning hideously uncertain.

What should we do as a society to plan for the future lives of the old? Let us assume that average lifespans are extended simply through the diminution of early death rather than from any radical scientific discovery, what then? If the average lifespan of Britons rises to, say, 90, over the next 40 years, an obvious move would be to delay retirement. But that raises a problem. Most people could probably work to 70, but beyond that the incidence of severe but non-fatal disease rises steeply. Keeping people alive longer does not at present equal keeping them fitter. More 70+ year-olds means more people suffering from various forms of dementia, crippling diseases such as arthritis and people simply too physically weak to undertake work which could provide an income to support them. Hence, extending the retirement age, for both state and private pensions, is only a partial answer unless science advances enough to massively reduce the infirmities of old age.

It is also true that many people are struggling to cope with their job long before the current age of retirement. People in manual jobs cannot be expected to work to 70 and those in heavy manual jobs or those in jobs which require physical strength and fitness such as grassroots policing, are probably past useful employment by the age of 50, certainly by 55. In principle they can retrain to lighter work, but in practice this is very difficult. People who have spent their lives working with their hands in a workshop or in the open air often do not take easily to working in an office or shop. Moreover, the pay they will get from such “second career” jobs is likely to be low, which is both a disincentive to work and may leave the person unable to support themselves fully.

But even if a person can adapt to new ways or has been throughout their lives in the type of employment which can be carried on into old age, the odds are that they will struggle to remain in employment as they reach late middle age. Employers are prejudiced against the older worker for various reasons. Part of that reason is financial – the cost of employing them is high compared with a youngster – but it is also in large part to do with the adaptability and energy of the young compared with the old. In a time of ever increasng technological change the natural resistance to change and learning becomes ever more of a handicap than it was in the past. Government can pass whatever age-discrimination laws it wants but employers will still find ways to employ who they want to employ without falling foul of the law (short of a law which insists that a percentage of people in an organization had to be in various age categories).

However much as we may like to believe – and I write as a budding wrinkly myself – that experience compensates for youthful enthusiasm, the truth is that all of us become much less receptive to new ideas as we get older, energy falls, physical strength fails, our memory diminishes and concentration becomes harder. Consequently, employers have good cause for employing younger people in most jobs. Of course experience does count and in some jobs can be valuable well into old age, but in most jobs it does not count for much after the age of 60. Even in “people” related employment, which the older person is supposedly better equipped to handle, experience may be a positive disadvantage. For example, suppose an employer wants to employ someone serving the public. It may well be that the average customer for the business prefers to be served by someone young and employing the old would be the kiss of death for the business.

The position of the older worker is being further undermined at present by the high levels of immigration, both official and unofficial. Most of this immigration is of the young, much of it young males. These young workers will tend to take much of the work which would otherwise be available for the old.

Even in the most benign likely circumstances – an extension of the average lifespan by five or ten years through the deduction of early death, it is clear that many people will require support for a very long period of retirement or reduced employment. Some of that may well come from private pensions and savings. But clearly for a very large part of the population adequate private resources guaranteed to support someone for 30 odd years will be beyond their grasp. Hence, state provision sufficient to allow people to live in old age is a must.

If great scientific advances are made which greatly extend life we shall simply have to start planning again from scratch. Obviously if average lifespan was increased to, say, 150, the whole perspective of a life would have to change. There are any number of exciting or disturbing possibilities. For example, it might be that only the newly conceived or newborn children could have their lives increased by a new treatment. We would then be in a position where that generation and succeeding generations had the increased lie span while anyone born before the treatment became available lived to an average age of 90.

The other great concern about pensions is demographic. The population is ageing and the British birthrate is substantially below (around 1.7 children per woman) the replacement level (roughly 2.1 children per woman). The doomsday scenario is insufficient working people to pay the pensions of the old in the future. If we were talking about a demographic change which was going to take place overnight I would be worried. However, we are not. Rather, the demographic effects will be worked out over thirty or forty years. Past experience suggests that society will evolve to make the necessary arrangements. We cannot foresee what the birthrate will be in five years let alone twenty or thirty.

However, we should not put all of our eggs in basket. It would be wise now for the Government to begin a state pension fund into which one per cent of GDP (currently around £11 billion) was put each year. This fund would not be touched for 20 years at least and would be used to ease any future pension problem arising from a tax shortfall due to a smaller working population.

The currently fashionable solution for the future pension bottleneck – importing large numbers of young immigrants – would be no answer in the long term. The young people who arrived in this generation would eventually grow old and would need people of working age to support them which would mean more immigration which would mean more old people  to support in the next generation and so on ad infinitum, a literal absurdity because any territory has a limit to the number of people it can support. In other words, confronting the problem of a demographic  imbalance would merely be delayed for a generation or two by immigration.

34. The housing crisis

Because it is one of the essentials of life, government clearly has a moral responsibility to ensure, directly or indirectly, that there is sufficient housing. It also acquires responsibility because it interferes considerably with the housing market, often with the effect that new building is discouraged, for example, by overly strict planning laws.

The government sets the rules for building new homes, renovating old ones and adapting non-residential buildings for residential use. The provision of taxpayers’ money for social housing is dependent on government. The rules by which social housing is allocated are the government’s rules. Planning permission is in the gift of politicians. The terms on which property may be rented and leased are set by them.

Then there are the measures which indirectly the housing market. To a very significant degree the government still controls the economy by the use of taxation, the indirect setting of interest rates through Bank Rate (the targets for the so-called independent Bank of England to meet – at present merely the inflation rate – are set by the Chancellor), the obligations placed on employers, subsidies to industries such as farming, the size of the public sector and the acceptance or otherwise of free trade obligations. All of these things feed through into the housing market by increasing or diminishing the amount of money in the public’s pockets and their confidence or otherwise in the future. Governments also determine the level of net immigration into a country – when it is running at the level Britain is currently experiencing substantially affects the demand for housing. In short, the cost and availability of housing is to a considerable degree determined by government policy.

The ongoing and seemingly inexorable rise in British property prices is rapidly making many parts of the country a desert for first time buyers (according to a Halifax survey the average house price has risen from £62,453 in the first quarter of £1996 to £179,425 in the third quarter of 2006, a rise of 187% – Daily Telegraph 28 10 2006) ). A combination of very low interest rates, lax lending rules by mortgage providers (some are lending up to 5 times salary), the introduction of easy to obtain “buy-to-let” mortgages, rising wages for substantial parts of the population, the continuing right-to-buy policy (RTB – the right of tenants to buy their council or other social housing properties at a discount) for those in social housing and a great diminishment in the building of new housing, both public and private, has led to a shortage of housing which can be bought by someone on average earnings in a majority of counties. In some areas of the country, most notably in the SE of England, prices have been further substantially inflated by the massive and ongoing immigration into Britain, most of which ends up in the South East.

The position in the rental sector mirrors that of home ownership. Social housing is in desperately short supply in those areas with higher property prices, particularly London, while reasonably priced private rental property is effectively non-existent. Every London Council has a waiting list of thousands for social housing.

The provision of housing, whether rented or purchased, that most people can afford is necessary for the simplest of practical reasons: every community, no matter how wealthy, requires large numbers of people who are not well paid. They must of necessity live fairly close to their jobs because, apart from considerations such as travelling time, those on small wages will not be able to afford the fares if they have to travel a long way. That means there must be reasonably priced homes for them to buy or rent not too far from their work.

There is also the moral and political case. There will always be housing segregation of people by price, but there is a big difference between not being able to afford to live in the most expensive parts of a town or city and not being able to live there at all. That is the point which is being rapidly approached for people on even above average incomes in a surprising number of English counties. In such circumstances free movement – one of the defining practices of a free society – becomes practically a dead letter. It is also very socially divisive, which is poison to the democratic process.

What can and should a government do to ease the problem in those areas where houses are in dangerously short supply? The first and most obvious move would be to stop mass immigration and restrict social housing to British citizens. Whether that could be done either legally or in practice if it could be done legally, while Britain remains within the EU is extremely dubious. However, other things could be done.

A Labour government of old (indeed, a Tory government of the fifties and sixties) would have turned to fiscal and practical measures to relieve the problem. They would have put controls on the amount of money mortgage providers can lend, used compulsory purchase to acquire  land in the property hotspots and engaged in an extensive programme of  council house building. Instead, we have the Blair government tortuously twisting and turning within the limits of the free market ideology with ill-thought plans to provide an inadequate number of “affordable homes” in the South East, without any mechanism to ensure  that they remain available to the people they are supposed to cater  for, that is, the likes of teachers and nurses. But even if the scheme for these “key workers” was successful, it would not address the general problem of house prices being out of the reach for the large majority of people working in the South East and it cannot be morally sustainable to say that only those with vital functions should be subsidised, a subsidy which would in effect subsidise those wealthy enough to live in the area who can afford to buy or rent a property at market rates because the services they received would only exist because of the public subsidy of “key workers” homes.

In areas with a shortage of housing, the Government should begin a massive programme of social house building with truly affordable rents, It should use compulsory purchase to acquire land being hoarded by private builders. If a builder has not built on land within a given period, it should become available for public housing or for another private builder who is willing to build on it. The Government should limit the amount of money a mortgage lender may advance to a level whereby a borrower can continue to pay if interest rates rise considerably. It should relax the planning controls for private developments. It should give priority in social housing to those local to the area and to workers with scarce and needed skills.

The question of RTB is a difficult one. I do not criticise anyone for exercising RTB because once such a scheme is in operation, for an individual not to exercise RTB is to place themselves at a massive disadvantage. It is also a fact that in a council tenant in a large block of flats may have a very real fear that if they do not buy, at some point in the future control of the block in which they live may be transferred to a less sympathetic and politically responsible landlord such as a housing association or a private developer, and they as a tenant would have absolutely no control over the landlord.

In areas where there is substantially more social housing than can be let, it makes sense to sell them and give purchasing priority to their tenants to maintain a community. But the selling off of council houses is self-defeating in areas where demand exceeds supply, which is now much of the country after twenty years of RTB and much diminished building of homes both publicly and privately owned. If council properties were sold at their full price it would be damaging enough, but the discount given pours oil onto the flames.

The Blair Government has (since January 2003) restricted the value of the RTB in areas of high demand such as London by reducing the maximum discount available to tenants. Such reductions are arguably open to legal challenge by existing tenants with a RTB. The RTB is a form of property in the same way that an option-to-buy can be considered a property. The question is whether the Government is entitled to arbitrarily reduce the value of the property. It has not been tested in the courts to date.

Similar considerations would arise if the RTB was simply abolished. The Government could certainly remove the RTB from future tenants, but if they were to try to remove the right from those who already have it, they could leave themselves open to legal challenge on the grounds that they were being dispossessed of property. If the courts upheld such a challenge, the Government would then be left with a choice of depriving only new tenants of the RTB or compensating those from whom they take an existing RTB. In the first case, this would greatly distort the effect of abolishing RTB – its full effect might not be felt for 40 years – or would result in a truly horrendous bill for the taxpayer as all those with the RTB would have to be compensated, not merely those who were actively seeking to exercise the right.

The desperation of the Blair Government is epitomised by their announcement on 6 January 2003 that it was considering taking to itself the power to compulsorily seize empty residential properties and let them. It is still kicking this idea around. This would probably be illegal because of the protection provided for private property under the Human Rights Act. Even if it is not, it is highly questionable whether property owned by private individuals should be compulsorily taken by the state in such an arbitrary manner. It is true that compulsory purchase has existed for many years, but this is different. It appears that the Government is thinking not of purchasing the properties for letting, but merely taking them for an unspecified period and letting them.

But even if these properties were to be compulsorily purchased before letting, it would go against the normal principle of compulsory purchase, namely that it should only be used where it is impossible to achieve a clearly defined general public good such as a new road or railway line which cannot otherwise be achieved. That is not the case with housing. To be a meaningful public exercise the forced seizures would have to be very substantial and thus not exceptional, and the increase of housing could be achieved by other means such as I have described previously.

35. Council housing

Nowhere is the hostility to direct provision seen more clearly than in the provision of council (municipal and state funded) housing. This type of housing was created to provide secure tenancies for decent accommodation at a rent the poorer members of society could afford. In the years after 1945 both Labour and Tory governments were committed to building a great number of such properties and ironically in view of their later Thatcherite policy it was a Tory Housing Minister, Harold Macmillan, who boasted in the mid 1950s that the Tory Government intended to build 300,000 council houses and flats in a year.

The rot for council housing set in under Margaret Thatcher. Many council properties (unsurprisingly disproportionately the more desirable ones) were transferred to private hands through Right To Buy (RTB). Most of the money from these sales was not used to build new council properties because central government forbad councils from doing so.

RTB had two consequences. It reduced the social housing stock and complicated the ownership and running of council properties. Councils were left with a housing stock which was gradually honeycombed with the private purchases of freeholds and leaseholds. This meant that a council had to establish a new relationship with their new leaseholders – a particularly fraught business in large blocks of flats where disputes over service charges, ground rents and external repair charges have been legion – which increased the costs of managing the properties.

More importantly RTB blurred the relationship, both legally and in the public’s mind, between what was public and what was private. There is a good deal of difference between saying here is a public asset and here is a part public part private asset. To move the entire housing stock of a council out of council control when it is just council housing is politically difficult because it is seen simply as the transfer of a public asset. That was particularly true in the 1980s when the public at large still had imprinted in them the idea that the state owning public goods for the public good was natural. But let that housing stock be sold off to private buyers bit by bit until, say, a quarter is privately owned, and the public no longer sees the council housing stock simply as a public asset. Indeed, with RTB much of the public sees possession of a council house as not a social good but something akin to a lottery win because of the substantial discount it brings – RTB has created a great deal of envy from those who have not been able to get a property. (This envy is misplaced in the majority of cases because, as many tenants who have bought properties in less desirable locations – especially on large council estates and in large blocks of flats – have found to their cost, the charges made by councils for service charges, grounds rents and most particularly external repairs – these are capped only for the first few years after purchase – are extortionate and the properties often next to impossible to sell at a reasonable price or even at all).

This blurring of the relationship between councils and council housing and the change in public attitude towards council housing has fitted neatly into the strategy of all governments since 1979 which has been to diminish the direct control of council housing by councils. The primary tactic used apart from RTB and a diminution of state funding for low rent housing, has been the transfer of government funding of most new build social housing from councils to Housing Associations which are non-profit self managing corporations. These, unlike council housing, are not subject to any degree of democratic control.

There has also been a push by governments to get existing council housing transferred to Housing Associations. This is somewhat tricky because tenants have by law to vote for such a transfer. To get round  this awkward and annoying piece of democracy the Blair Government has  been attempting transfer control of council housing stock into Arms Length Management Organisations (ALMOs). These are limited companies (limited by guarantee not by shares). The council housing stock is still owned by the council but the management of the housing stock is transferred to the ALMO board which is bound by company law. Thus the relationship between tenant and the council is completely changed because (1) local councillors no longer have any responsible for the management of the housing stock and (2) the ALMO board, being bound by company law, have to operate according to that law not a political agenda. Again, democratic control is broken.

A third tactic is to allow PFI companies into the management of part of a council’s housing stock. This again ties the hands of politicians because the contract with company means the council cannot act of its own volition.

The experience of tenants in Housing Associations and ALMOs has been mixed but there have been too many instances where rents and service charges have been raised to levels higher than those in directly owned council properties and where management of the property has left much to be desired. Worst, some Housing Associations and ALMOs have got into financial trouble. The only ways out of such a mess, after rents have been raised as high as they can, is for either a council to rescue the properties by taking them into direct control or for the properties to be placed in the hands of a private company, either through some form of PFI or outright sale of the property. The private option is the one almost all councils go for in such circumstances.

Whatever tactic is used – ALMOs, transfer to a Housing Association or PFI – it is always sold to tenants by councils insisting that remaining in direct council control is effectively a non-starter because central government money for renovations will not be available if that happens.

But even where council housing stock remains within council control there are an ongoing problems. The “affordable” rents plan of the Blair government will raise rents to considerably over the next ten years. In addition, council are increasingly seeking to charge additionally for services such security, cleaning and caretaking.

Service charges have the advantage for politicians of allowing them to say they have kept rents down to a lower level whilst effectively raising the rents. In addition, there are probably fewer legal restrictions attached to levying and raising service charges than there are attached to raising rents.

Council housing was never intended to make a profit for central Government or even local councils. It was social provision for the poor. This appears to have been lost sight of by Government, viz: “Your average council home generates roughly £2,500 a year in rent, £1,000 of this goes on management costs, £500 for repairs, leaving £1,000 being siphoned off by Government. Why can’t councils keep this sum?”. (Labour MP Austin Mitchell “Defend council housing” Camden New Journal 30 Jan 2003).

If nothing is done to prevent the privatisation/commercialisation of council housing, I sincerely wonder how long it will be before the poor are unable to afford council housing in London.

36. Education

Education is a first rate example of how quasi-commercialism can corrupt. It was a pincer movement from the bottom and the top, from schools to universities.

Prior to the end of the 1980s our universities had been funded for decades by the University Grants Committee (UGC) which was made up  academics. The UGC received an annual sum of money allocated by the Government to higher education. The UGC then allocated this to the universities. This was not a perfect system because the academics tended to favour the older universities over the older regardless of performance. However, broadly speaking it worked and most importantly there was no pressure on universities to tout for students regardless of quality. This in turn meant that academic standards were maintained. Indeed, the newer universities were very sparing in their granting of degrees because they wished to build their academic reputation.

The Thatcher Government changed all that. They first cut in real terms the funding of given to the UGC, then abolished the UGC in 1987 to be replaced by the University Funding Council (UTC) which was manned not by academics but businessmen. The money was then primarily attached to  the individual – a second criterion based on the quality of research was also introduced but it was the numbers of students which brought in the large majority of the money. This forced universities to actively compete for students. This might not have mattered too much if the numbers of students had remained static but it did not because the Thatcher Government began the push towards dramatically expanding student numbers without a corresponding increase in funding. This meant that spending per student was reduced and universities had to get as many students as they could to maintain income. That alone caused universities to drop their standards, both in terms of who they accepted and the class of degrees they awarded, because universities with a reputation for high entry standards and strict marking of degrees risked being shunned for those with a reputation for being laxer. To take on stark statistic: in 1970 less than 40% of degreesawarded by British universities were firsts and upper seconds: the figure for these classes of degree awarded in 2006 is over 60%.

The massive increase in student numbers from the late 1980s meant that the average quality of student was lowered. This is not a subjective judgement. IQ is distributed within the British population approximately as follows: IQ below 90 25%, IQ 90-110 50%, IQ Above 110 25%. In 1970 less than 10% of school-leavers went to university. They could all comfortably come from those in the 111+ range (they will not have done but most would). Raise the numbers to the current level of around 40% and as a simply matter of arithmetic, many must have IQs of less than 111 and because a significant part of those with above average IQs will not go to university, there must be significant numbers now going to university with IQs below of 100. The difficulty of degree courses had to be lowered to cater for the lass able.

Because the increase in student numbers has not been met by a proportionate increase in state funding,  staff-student ratios have increased, teaching time for each student reduced, both in terms of direct instruction and the time available to staff for marking.

To these attacks on university standards were added eventually the toxic effects of the poison injected into the opposite end of the education system. “Progressive, child-centred education” really gained a hold in the 1960s. Anti-competitive and ideologically driven, the grammar schools were first almost destroyed, ironically rescuing the public schools which were on their financial knees by the mid-sixties because of the drain of middleclass pupils to free grammar schools, and teaching methods gradually corrupted so that children were not challenged over errors and all opinions (at least the politically correct ones) became equally “valid”.

The progressive ideal was greatly furthered by the introduction in the 1980s of a single school-leaving exam (the GCSE) to replace the CSE and O Level’. Had assessment remained entirely by final (synoptic) exams, The introduction of the GCSE would still have been mistaken because no examination can meaningfully assess the broad range of ability displayed by those who sit it – there has been a tacit recognition of this by the inclusion of questions and course tasks of different difficulty within a GCSE subject and candidates can choose to do the hard or the easy and this is reflected in their grades. The exam consequently says nothing about the standard of the candidate as such because the mark tells you nothing about the difficulty of the tasks attempted: for example someone taking just the harder questions in an exam could score the same mark as someone attempting only the easy  questions.

Mistaken as the exam was in principle, it was further damaged by the inclusion of substantial amounts of coursework – cue plagiarism and third party out-of-school help – and coaching by teachers, licit and llicit (the licit includes teachers being able to take an initial piece of coursework by pupils and making suggestions for its re-writing) and the use of modular exams (exams which tested only part of the course) which can be retaken several times during a course.

The school examination system has been further contaminated by the various examination boards becoming nakedly commercial bodies who compete greedily for candidates. The result is similar to that experienced by universities: standards have been dropped to attract business. The old practice of setting percentages for those gaining a grade and for those passing was dropped allowing any number of people to gain any grade. Freed of this constraint grades have inexorably risen year after year for both GCSEs and the university entrance A Levels. So bad has the inflation become that A* grades had to be introduced because A grades were so plentiful that they allowed no distinction to be made between the better candidates. Predictably, theA* grade has now met the same fate as the simple A.

Finally, because so many more pupils were taking GCSE than O Level, the standard of the exam had to be reduced for the same reason that the standard of the degree was reduced: the number of less able students taking the courses increased dramatically. The dire failure of GCSE has begun to be acknowledged by even the Blair Government with first the Education Secretary Alan Johnson announcing that coursework would be reduced in some subjects and abolished in a few such as maths (the Times 6 10 2006) and then a junior education minister Lord Adonis announcing that consideration was being given to allowing state schools to substitute the International GCSE (IGCSE) for the GCSE (Daily  Telegraph 25 10 2006). The IGSCE is an exam closer to the old O  Level and is taken by pupils outside Britain and increasingly by private schools in Britain.

The upshot of all this is a decline in academic standards generally. The decline of GCSE standards meant A Level pupils began their A Level courses less well prepared than they had been previously which meant A-Levels had to be reduced in difficulty which meant that those arriving at university were less well prepared and the degree courses had to be made easier.

A further pernicious consequence of the gigantic expansion of university numbers is the abolition of student grants and the imposition of tuition fee to fund the much greater numbers. . This is not only discouraging students from poorer homes – there is now a lower percentage of workingclass students  in the British university population than there was in the 1960s (although many  more because of the increase in student numbers)  – and leaving most students with considerable debts, but also creating a mentality amongst students, politicians, educationalists and indeed the general public, that education is only a tool to obtain a better job, that it has no general value.

The irony is that even at the economic level this mentality is at odds with reality. Successive governments have claimed that the lifetime earnings of a graduate are on average £450,000 greater than that of a non-graduate. This may have been true of graduates before the great expansion in student numbers but it is not now. The £450,000 has been revised to £150,000, a pretty small sum divided by the 40 years of the average working life. Of course that figure, even if it is true, hides a multitude of difference, with some degrees being next to worthless either because of the subject or the class of degree obtained.

37. Healthcare

The NHS was founded on the principle that all treatment should be free at the point of use regardless of income. The amazing thing is that 58 years after its foundation the principle is essentially intact. We have prescription charges and charges for dentistry and the work of opticians. However, even these charges for the poor, old age pensioners and children are either considerably mitigated or waived completely. For the vast majority of illnesses and injuries NHS treatment is available and no one who is entitled to and receives it need fear that they will be bankrupted by the cost of the treatment and care or that at some point the NHS will say no more treatment because it is too expensive. There are increasing disputes over the funding of expensive treatment, especially drugs, but these affect only a tiny minority of patients. The sole major NHS blot is dentistry where it is difficult to find dentists who take NHS patients in many parts of the country.

But the NHS ethos is under severe attack. The introduction of the “single market” by Margaret Thatcher and then the Blair government’s version of “money following the patient”, league tables of medical outcomes at hospitals and schemes such as hospital trusts being granted “foundation status” (which allows them greater freedom of action) are seriously damaging the idea of a national health service, the stress being on “national”. Hospital trusts are now competing with each other for both patients and the “right” type of patients, the “right” type being those most likely to be easily treatable and to have a good response to treatment.

“Money following the patient” has also resulted in a significant number of hospital trusts running into financial trouble and different areas of the country offering varying levels of treatment, the “post-code lottery”. The variation has been amplified by devolution which allows the devolved assemblies, especially the Scottish, to allocate money independently of Westminster. This has resulted in some treatments being offered in Scotland and Wales but not in England, for example drugs such as Aricept, Reminyl and Exelon which are used to treat Altzeimers are being denied to early stage Altzeimers sufferers while it is available to such people in Scotland and Wales (Daily Telegraph 18 10 2006).

Then there are the targets for waiting times which distort clinical judgements because hospitals begin to treat the conditions which reduce government targeted waiting lists rather than the conditions which clinical judgement would suggest should be given priority. Waiting list targets also result in hospitals fudging figures by devices such as putting people on waiting lists on lists euphemistically called something else, or moving people in Accident and Emergency out of A and E when they have exceeded the target waiting time and putting them onto trolleys in corridors to wait for treatment, which device allows the person to be classified as having been dealt with in A and E within the target time. So desperate has the Blair Government been to reduce waiting lists that it has even adopted a policy of exporting patients to continental hospitals where their treatment will be paid for by the NHS. (This policy could lead to far more NHS patients being referred abroad with the taxpayer paying than the Government anticipated because challenges are being made in the British courts to refusals by individual British health authorities to fund particular foreign treatment.)

In the past twenty years the NHS has almost certainly been subject to more politically initiated upheaval than any other taxpayer funded body, with both Tory and Labour governments forcing major change after major change on the NHS. The introduction of policies such as “the single market” and foundation status” for hospitals have caused profound administrative changes, with people having to re-apply for their jobs over and over again as each new regime is introduced and a general sense of impermanence and staff insecurity has been created. This sense of uncertainty and insecurity extends to new medical staff such as doctors, nurses and physiotherapists. Some years ago the Blair Government correctly identified the underproduction of such people in Britain and quite correctly acted to increase their numbers, both by providing training places and by significantly increasing NHS pay scales. This has had the effect of producing large numbers of these previously scarce medical staff from Britain. All well and good. But supply is only one half of the equation. The Government neglected the demand side and the upshot is that in 2006 there are large numbers of expensively trained medical staff unable to find work within the NHS.

The reasons they cannot find work are four. First, large numbers of foreign medical staff have been recruited and they are still in position. Second, Britain’s membership of the EU means that any medically qualified person from any EU state can compete with the British for jobs within the NHS (large numbers from outside the EU are also competing for the jobs because of Britain’s generally lax job entry requirements for non-EU foreigners coming to the UK). Third, the shortage of money in many hospital trusts and the demand by the Government that each trust balances its books, means that trusts are cutting staff, for example, the Epsom and St Helier Hospital Trust which serves 650,000 people in Surrey and South London, are looking to lose 25% of their staff by early 2008 (Metro 24 10 2006). Fourth, insufficient numbers of particular types of posts have been created, for example, training posts in hospitals for junior doctors.

The general utility of the NHS for patients has been reduced and will, if government plans go through, be much further reduced by a policy of “consolidating” hospital care by closing smaller hospitals and concentrating resources on a relatively small number of “super-hospitals.” Many smaller hospitals have already been much reduced – especially their A and E services – or even closed and many more cuts are in the pipeline. For example, the Daily Telegraph reported (17 10 2006) that 80 cottage hospitals in England were marked for closure. The rationale for such “consolidation” is that smaller hospitals cannot provide the same range of sophisticated treatments as a much larger hospital. This may be true but most treatments are of the simpler kind which can be dealt with in the smaller hospitals and any really difficult case sent to a specialist centre. The consequence of such a policy is that patients have to travel further and further for hospital treatment, often fifty miles or more. There is also some grounds for believing the closures are politically motivated because the Sunday Telegraph (22 10 2006) “surveyed 177 hospitals already affected or likely to be affected by cuts, [and] revealed that Conservative and Liberal Democrats seats are two and a half times more likely to be affected by cuts than Labour seats.”

A special case of hospital closures for “clinical reasons” are the military hospitals, all of which bar one have been closed and the one remaining is waiting decommissioning (Daily Telegraph 17 10 2006). This has meant troops returning injured from places such as Iraq and Afghanistan have been forced to use ordinary NHS hospitals. This has caused problems of morale, security and access to treatment – servicemen best recover psychologically when they are with their fellows, there is nothing to stop any anti-war radical attacking or abusing them in hospital and the treatment they need is not always immediately available, with servicemen having in some cases to join NHS waiting lists.

An unpleasant mentality is also distorting the notion that the NHS is a national health service. Increasingly, politicians, the media and medics are taking the line that treatment can be legitimately withheld from people wicked enough to disobey the official disapproval of smoking, drinking, getting fat and so forth. For example, Norfolk Primary Care Trust has decided that confirmed smokers are to be taken off waiting lists for “all non-urgent operations such as hip replacements….[because] Smokers have three times the complications as non-smokers”. (Metro 23 10 2006) I think anyone needing a hip replacement would dispute the operation’s definition as non-urgent. It is worth adding that the story mentions the Trust is “£50 million in the red” and an unkind soul might conclude that the withdrawal of treatment to smokers is connected to the debt. Nonetheless, the fact that smokers have been targeted speaks volumes for the ideologically driven mentality within the present day NHS. It is only activities which come within the ambit of official disapproval and moralising that are the subject of such withdrawal of treatment – it is noticeable that no politician or health trust has suggested that treatment for AIDs or HIV should be withheld because it is in most instances the consequence of the individual’s behaviour.

The moralising which bolsters the supposed clinical case for withdrawing treatment from certain groups runs along the lines that people are being selfish and irresponsible by smoking, drinking,getting fat etc. Wild claims are made for deaths supposedly due to such behaviour – any smoker who dies at a ripe old age is as likely as not to be classified as dying from a smoking related disease. All this supposedly self-inflicted illness is portrayed as being a massive burden on society and especially on the NHS. Most absurdly and dishonestly, smokers are claimed to be a drain on the taxpayer despite the fact that tobacco taxes greatly exceed any additional costs smokers might place on the NHS.

But do smokers, drinkers and the fat, who on average die younger than those who do not display such traits, actually impose extra costs on the taxpayer? Writing in the Sunday Telegraph (22 1 2006) the historian Niall Ferguson baldly and erroneously claimed those who smoked, drank and got fat are being antisocial because they “tend to expire slowly and expensively”. Most do not and whatever cost to the taxpayer arises from such people it pales into insignificance compared with those who live to a ripe old age. Not only do the latter draw pensions and benefits for far longer than the shorter lived smokers, drinkers and the fat, but the most costly of NHS patients are those who live to extreme old age for they frequently end up in hospitals or nursing homes for months and years. The most antisocial thing a person can do from the taxpayers’ point of view is live to an extreme old age.

The most fundamental threat to the NHS is the creeping privatization of the NHS which ranges from the logistical and administrative to the medical. Hospitals are being built under PFI and their maintenance placed in private hands. Hospital meals are provided by private contractors. Medical supplies to hospitals will soon be distributed by the German firm DHL. Most disturbingly, private medical firms, often American, are being granted massive contracts to take patients away from the NHS, a policy made all the more dangerous for the long-term security of the NHS because the treatments the private firms take are the simpler ones. The NHS are left with a reduced patient base for the simpler operations, which can result in the closure of NHS departments or even hospitals, and leaves the NHS with the more difficult and expensive cases to treat.

But even after the chaos wrought by governments over the past twenty years and the vast amounts of additional money pushed into the NHS to no great visible benefit by the Blair Government – the Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt recently made the astonishing admission that “For all the extra money, all the extra staff and all the extra patients treated, NHS productivity has remained almost unchanged” (Daily Telegraph 21 9 2006) – the NHS still represents magnificent value. Anyone who has ever had private medical insurance will know how incomplete the cover is. Common exemption clauses are a two year waiting period for existing complaints to be covered, a complete exclusion of psychiatric treatment and severe restrictions on aftercare, which is frequently excluded when active medical treatment ends.

Those who have had chronic and serious illness soon discover that the amount of private active treatment and aftercare they can obtain is considerably less than they imagined. Many begin courses of treatment which end before the utility of a treatment is exhausted. They then transfer to NHS care. Frequently operations are funded by their insurance but not the subsequent nursing which is undertaken by the NHS.

Those in Britain who laud the idea of private insurance as a substitute for taxpayer funded health service should examine the effects of such a system in the richest country in the world, the USA. Around 40% of the population have no health insurance. Even those with insurance find themselves left high and dry more often than not. Here are the words of a British journalist living in New York, Zoe Heller,from the Daily Telegraph London 6/5/2000:

“One of my best friends was short of cash one month and  let her insurance lapse. That same month, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Seven years later, she is still paying off the credit card debts. Another uninsured friend was rushed to hospital for emergency intestinal  surgery. She will be paying her bill on an installment plan.  She counts herself lucky that the hospital has a relatively liberal policy about treating uninsured  patients…”

A recent study established that one in four of every  American declaring bankruptcy in 1999 cited illness or injury  as the main reason for his financial problems and that of  that group, roughly half were insured. In other words, paying extortionate sums to the insurance companies  doesn’t protect you from financial ruin if you happen to fall ill with something serious and expensive enough.

Even the rich in the US find healthcare beyond their means if the treatment is long and serious. The Superman actor, Christopher Reeve, one of the highest paid Hollywood actors, had exhausted his savings within two years of the terrible injury which left him paralysed. Private medicine will guarantee virtually any treatment – if you can afford to pay for it. That is the long and short of it. The NHS provides a remarkably wide range of healthcare free at the point of use. It mitigates strongly against “unfairness”.

The other great threat to the NHS is the media which is only too willing to feed the public with NHS “horror stories”. A good example occurred in the Sunday Telegraph recently. On 27 August 2006 their front page ran “Blunders by NHS kill thousands of patients a year”. Does anyone seriously imagine that any healthcare system in the advanced world does not suffer such casualties or that private medicine is generally more efficient or safer? Of course the NHS makes many mistakes and these add up to a sizeable bald global figure but when you are catering for a population of 60 million that is scarcely surprising.

The real question to ask is why is no public audit of the safety and efficiency of private medicine ever done? If it was it would make interesting reading because private medicine in Britain is notoriously prone to pushing any bungled private treatments back on the NHS without compensation. It also makes little investment in private sector facilities because it can rent NHS facilities for more complicated treatments, facilities which are purchased at well below any realistic cost. Private medicine also makes no contribution towards the cost of training medical staff. In short, private medicine in the UK lives off the back of the NHS and the taxpayer.

The Health Secretary should stop private medicine taking up scarce NHS resources. Even if private medical treatment using NHS resources was paid for in full, it does not follow that would be a good thing for the NHS because the money received may not adequately compensate for  the loss of the NHS facility during the time it is in private use. This is particularly the case where complex treatments, especially surgery, are concerned because the number of NHS facilities able to offer the treatment will be very limited. It is worth mentioning that a sizeable proportion of private medical treatments in the UK, especially the more demanding cases such as those of serious heart disease, involve the treatment of foreigners. It is morally indefensible toallow NHS resources to be hired to be used on a foreigner rather than used to treat a British citizen on the NHS. Where there is genuine spare capacity in the NHS, private medical providers should be charged a realistic price for it. In cases where private medical treatment goes wrong, the private medical provider should pay for the remedial NHS treatment.

The NHS consultants would doubtless froth and whine about reduced private work opportunities and it might be necessary to give their NHS pay a very large boost. But there are not that many of them and the cost would not be vast in the context of total NHS spending.

Apart from making private medicine pay its way, the NHS ideally needs to (1) not only stop further privatisation but to take back into its direct control that which has already been lost; (2) ensure that enough medical staff of all sorts are trained in this country and NHS posts reserved for them; (3) end the practice of money following patients; (4) fund NHS healthcare on the basis of an area’s population and demographic distribution; (5) retain and where necessary build new local hospitals; (6) restrict treatment to the hospital within a health authority area; (7) lay down a national schedule of treatments which must be offered throughout the NHS and (8) restrict NHS treatment other than emergency treatment to British citizens.

No 8 is necessary because a great part of the problem for the NHS in areas such as London is that it is being overwhelmed by the large number of foreigners who one way or the other either have a right to NHS treatment or who obtain it because NHS staff are unwilling to check whether some is entitled to NHS treatment. Of course, there are supposedly reciprocal arrangements for Britons to obtain health treatment abroad but the balance of advantage is all against Britain because the range and quality of provision in many of the countries which provide supposedly reciprocal treatment is inferior to that of the NHS. There are also potentially vastly more foreigners eligible for NHS treatment than Britons eligible for treatment abroad, for example,  400million non-British EU state citizens.

That is the ideal. How much of it could be achieved as things stand is debatable because our EU membership and other treaties severely restrict control over both our borders and what any British government may do. For example, while we remain in the EU we cannot stop any person legally resident in the EU from coming here (apart from special cases of crime or terrorism) and either working for the NHS or claiming NHS treatment.

The NHS goes to the heart of what should be public and what should be private. The prime distinction is between service and profit. Public provision is the provision of necessary services to everyone, which private provision never has nor can supply: private provision is simply the provision of services to those who can pay. This seems to have been lost sight of by successive governments.

Let the NHS become anything other than what it is, a national health service free at the point of use and you will never get it back. It was created in the extraordinary circumstances of the immediate post-war national solidarity when both the electors and the politicians were determined that Lloyd George’s boast of creating “A land fit for heroes” should not be mocked twice.

It is vital that the NHS survives because even with present life expectancies, there are going to be an awful lot of people who will need intensive medical support in their extreme old age. The cost of that will almost certainly exhaust the resources of even those who have made seemingly substantial private provision for their old age.

The NHS has many faults, but for most of the population, it is a better and more complete supplier of medicine than private medicine will ever be or could be.

38. The Post Office and Royal Mail

The treatment of the linked organisations of the Post Office and the Royal Mail epitomises the current state of public provision. The Post Office network has long been a source of social glue throughout Britain. It has provided not merely postal but a wide variety of public and quasi-public services acting as a conduit for such things as the payment of state benefits, applications for state issued licences, the payment of bills and the easy transfer of money. Recent governments have taken a significant amount of that work away from post office by such policies as encouraging the payment of benefits though bank accounts and the removal from post offices of applications for TV licences, which has made them less viable as self financing enterprises.

It might seem inevitable or efficient that benefit payments (including the state pension) should be made through bank accounts, but that ignores two things. First, it takes no account of the general utility of post offices, which utility could be judged to mean that the retention of benefit payments through the post office was justified because it helped maintain the post office network. Second, even today many people either do not have bank accounts or do not wish to have their benefits paid through a bank. The Daily Telegraph (25 10 2006) reported that two million pensioners rely on Post Office Card Accounts to draw their pensions and All Pay, one of the businesses which deal with Post Office over the counter bill payments, has stated that “Even though lots of people have some form of bank accounts, there are all sorts of reasons why people want to pay in cash….If post offices close, millions of people will be under served.”(Daily telegraph 21 10 2006).

Governments have been steadily closing main and sub post offices for the past twenty years but the pace of closure is increasing. The Blair Government is currently making noises which suggest that the current £150 million annual taxpayer subsidy may be curtailed or even dropped altogether. This would result in very large numbers of sub post offices and quite a few main post offices being closed. This would have a considerable effect on many local communities, particularly those in rural areas where often they are an essential part of a village because they will combine the function of sub-post office with that of village shop. Let the post office go and the shop will go. There is also a modern problem, namely, the increasing lack of outlets in rural areas and the poorer parts of towns and cities where someone can withdraw their money. Banks are rapidly deserting both, especially rural parts, and often the only place left where someone can withdraw cash is the local post office.

The fact that British governments over past fifteen years ago have been so casual in their maintenance of the post office network simply reflects the general political mentality of the modern British political elite which no longer sees politics as making pragmatic policies for the entire country but of dancing to an ideology (neo-liberalism) which reduces life to nothing more than economic relationships. This mentality means that the modern British politician does not ask when confronting an issue such as the maintenance of the post office network “what social benefit does this bring?” but “is it profitable.” The fact that we currently have a Labour government which has relatively little support in rural areas suggests that party politics may also play its part in ignoring the interests of the rural population.

This causal ignoring of the interests of some sections of the population can be seem more generally in the failure of Government to take into account the difficulties of those who through a lack of money, knowledge or intellect do not have access to the internet. This lack is increasingly making day-to-day living highly inconvenient as more and more organisations either insist on dealing with people through the internet or make it very difficult to do otherwise. Millions of people are in this position yet the government often seems oblivious to the fact that so many have not joined the digital age, a classic example being the decision to end the analogue TV signal in a few years. The idea that millions of OAPs will be able to negotiate the change from analogue to digital comfortably is fanciful  (there is also the likelihood that substantial numbers of people will not be able to get digital TV when the switch is made because even the engineers estimate that 2% of the country will not be able to receive the signal).

The Blair Government’s attitude towards the Royal Mail displays the profit-is-all mentality as well. They have not had the nerve to go for outright privatisation, but this may well come in the next few years – the Royal Mail chairman Alan Leighton, is currently lobbying for Royal Mail workers to be given a 20% share of the business. (Daily telegraph 14 10 2006). If the scheme goes through it would presumably make it much less likely that Royal Mail employees would resist outright privatisation as that would improve the market for their shares.

The hand of the EU is also to be found in Royal Mail. As mentioned before, the EU competition rules have forced Royal Mail to compete with private companies for much of their business and adopt inconvenient practices such as having to measure letters because Royal Mail can no longer do what it has done for a century and half, deliver letters under a certain weight no matter what their size.

39. Can we afford better public services?

The GDP of the UK is approximately £1.1 trillion (note trillion not billion – a trillion is a thousand thousand million). In the financial year 2006/7 the British government will spend approximately £500 billion. The size of the economy and the British budget alone suggests that there is considerable scope for economies and changed priorities.

 There are immediate substantial savings which could be made. The Treasury per capita funding of the Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish is approximately £1,400 pa per head greater than the per capita funding of the English. If the Celts’ funding was reduced to the English level – note to not below the English level – that would save £14 billion.

Foreign Aid is scheduled to rise to above £6 billion pa in the next few years. After 40 years or so since decolonisation it is reasonable to ask why the British taxpayer is still funding supposedly independent states.

Britain’s present contribution to the EU is around £12 billion. About two thirds returns to Britain leaving a deficit of £4 billion. However, much of the £8 billion is only spent because we are within the EU, for example the agricultural support payments. It is not unreasonable to assume that at least half of the £8 billion would not need to be spent if we were not in the EU. Leaving the EU could plausibly represent a saving of £8 billion. Thus, those three areas alone – the over-funding of the Celtic Fringe, foreign Aid and the EU – could produce a saving of around £28 billion.

What departmental reductions could reasonably be made? Some departments are frankly difficult to justify at all in terms of any useful activity, for example, Trade and Industry, while others have large swathes of administration which exist only because of every modern government’s mania for trying to regulate everything, for example, the Department of the Environment. Such departments could be much reduced or lost altogether if a government was brave enough to make a bonfire of unnecessary regulations. It is also true that even in those public organisations which do a thoroughly necessary job, there is often genuine overmanning, ie, overmanning beyond that required to cope with all likely circumstances, to be found. For example, the heavylayers of bureaucracy inflicted on the NHS by “reforms” over the past twenty years could be substantially reduced if the “front end”financial controls advocated in section ? were introduced.

At the level of strategic decisions money could often be better spent. Take defence and large computer projects. Our armed forces are being shaped not to defend Britain but to engage in action abroad. A good example of this is the ordering of two giant aircraft carriers at a cost (with planes) estimated to be £13 billion, not far short of our present annual defence budget. Such carriers are also hideously expensive to run and require large numbers of ships to defend and supply them. They are also vulnerable to missile attack. By ordering them the whole defence budget has been distorted. Moreover, they have absolutely no military value in defending the UK for any defending aircraft can be launched from land. If our defence forces were restricted to the defence of the UK, our present defence spending would be sufficient at worst and at best might prove more than was necessary and could be cut.

Large scale government computer projects have been an unmitigated disaster, from passports to the ongoing farce that is the NHS computer system which is intended to link every GPs’ records with every hospital. Any large computer system changes the structure of how an organisation works. It means that the people have to work to the machines’ limitations rather than doing the job as best they can.

This means that vast amounts of resources of both money and manpower have to be devoted to training staff, maintaining the system and coping with thesystem when it fails. That alone should raise a question in any organisation as to whether any particular computerisation is wise or necessary. When an organisation is as large as the average government body, the questions looms very large indeed because the costs of such systems and their failures are vast.

Take the case of the NHS system mentioned above. The estimated upfront costs of this ran into several billions initially. That cost has already multiplied a few times and doubtless will continue rising. It is quite possible that if the system is ever completed more than £10 billion will have been spent – and that takes no account of the hidden costs of restructuring the organisation to accommodate the system. Even if it was a success the question has to be asked was it money well spent? Does it really add much to the smooth running of the NHS for hospital staff to be able to access GPs records immediately or GPs to be able to access hospital records? I would suggest it does not. If hospitals or GPs need such information they can get it rapidly by using email. Would not the œ10 billion or more have been better spent keeping wards and hospitals open?

The other problem with large-scale government computer systems is that they do not work properly or even at all. There is every indication from IT experts that this NHS system will not work as a national system and that all the taxpayer will get for his or her money are some remnants of the system which will work within limited areas such as a single hospital trust.

There is also a role for one-off hypothecated taxes, that is,  taxes earmarked for a definite purpose. Suppose £10 billion extra is needed to build and renovate hospitals. A government could impose a new tax to be collected once only to raise that amount. Most taxpayers would support such a tax if it was going to a cause of which they approved. It would also avoid the bane of the taxpayer that once a tax is imposed it normally remains indefinitely. As such a tax would be a one-off, it would not suffer the usual objections to hypothecated taxes, such as the fact that the amount raised could not be guaranteed to correspond with the amount needed for the designated purpose or that people would only support hypothecated taxes for popular causes if all taxes were hypothecated.

Finally, there a great deal of money to be saved by removing all the politically correct trappings from within public service. To give an idea of the scale of that expenditure consider the case of the Metropolitan Police. Last year they spent on “equality and diversity training” £187 million, one sixth of the force’s budget (London Evening Standard 27 10 2006). Apart from the money spent, there is also the loss of efficiency and morale created by the habit public servants have had to develop of constantly watching what they say and do.

40. Does social provision corrupt?

One of the favourite arguments against social provision is that it corrupts the receiver by making them dependent and ultimately damages society by significantly reducing initiative and making people selfish. The facts do not bear this out as a general proposition – there will always be some free riders in a welfare state. Today we have a society in which the self-help gospel is constantly preached, people work longer and longer hours and most mothers work at least part time. This has produced a society in which the birthrate has dropped well below replacement rate. During the period when state provision was most heartily endorsed as part of the national furniture (1945-1979) the birthrate was above replacement rate. The ability and willingness tobreed is surely the ultimate indicator of the health of a society.

But that is not to say all social provision is benign. It is one thing for a society to provide those things which most cannot be reasonably be expected to provide for themselves, but quite another to build dependency into the system. That is what has happened in Britain where more than half the population now draw some sort of public monetary support. Some of those benefits are part of the legitimate armoury of social provision, for example, child benefit, unemployment benefit, sickness benefit and old age pensions. Others are not.

The most pernicious of the current benefits is Working Families Tax Credit, which can be drawn by families with a household income of over £50,000. This is a scheme in a long line of similar ones dating back to the old Poor Law of 1601. It is the granting of state money to those in work. The best known Poor Law example was the Speenhamland System  of the 18th century which allowed outdoor relief to those (primarily agricultural labourers) whose wages fell below a certain level. The result was predictable. Where the scheme operated employers dropped the wages they paid to the level where the Parish (which administered the Poor Law) made up the wages through outdoor relief to those whose wages were lowered.

The Speenhamland System was a subsidy to employers. So is the Working Families Tax Credit. All it results in is employers paying lower  wages. That is not because they are all evil grasping men or women.  Lower wages are forced on all employers because there will always be a substantial number of employers who will take advantage of opportunity offered by any government subsidy to lower their wages. That means all employers must do so to compete.

Apart from the fact that it siphons off large amounts of taxpayers money, Working Families Tax Credit is a pernicious form of subsidy because it makes employers who employ many low wage workers dependent on its continuance, which obviously cannot be guaranteed. Either a  future British Government may decide to abolish it of their own free will or tax harmonisation within the EU may force them to do so.

If it is abolished, such companies will be left stranded because they will have to pay higher wages. Moreover, the subsidy they are receiving now will cause them to be less efficient than they would have been without it. On the other side of the employment coin, families receiving the benefit will also be left high and dry if it ends, for they will have altered their lives according to the income they have received.

This type of structural dependency has evil effects beyond the economic because it can distort the democratic process. If sufficient people become dependent on a benefit such as tax credits they may make it next to impossible for any party wishing to be elected to propose its abolition because to have such a policy will drive anyone in receipt of the benefit to another party which supports its continuance.

41. The future of public provision

The present outlook for public provision is dismal going on hopeless. The Blair Government, having aimlessly thrown vast amounts of extra money at direct
public services such as the NHS to no good effect, is attempting to cover its political blushes by funding much future public provision through private finance and private corporate involvement.

The policy is being introduced into every conceivable part of our public service from the running of prisons to the administration of NHS hospitals. This provokes remarkably little political debate despite the fact that it not only radically changes the relationship between the public and the service they are paying for, but has already proved to be more expensive than direct provision in many instances. Despite the ever more dismaying experience of railway privatisation, Blair’s Government in its second term permitted the part-privatisation of the Air Traffic Control system and careered on in mindless fashion with plans to part privatise the London Tube system and to introduce private finance into a multiplicity of public enterprises from roads to social housing. On the supply side of the public service coin, Labour increasingly stands aside from providing any new direct public provision, no matter how obvious the need in areas such as housing.

Despite David Cameron’s “Tories aren’t complete bastards, honest!” propaganda campaign, the Conservative Opposition are still immobilized in the morass of Thatcherism. Look behind Cameron’s “right on” language and it is clear that the party still instinctively feels the welfare state is bloated and views the direct state provision of goods or services as a recipe for waste and incompetence ay best and as ideologically unsound at worst. The Tory Party continues to advocate private provision wherever they dare and private finance in public projects for virtually everything else in those areas where they do not have the courage to go the whole hog and say that the individual should be left to fend for themselves. The distance between NuTory soft words and policy was nicely encapsulated by Cameron’s portrayal of himself at the 2006 Tory Party Conference as “the defender of the NHS”, while remaining quite content to allow ever more private business involvement in the NHS.

There is a further fly in the direct provision ointment. EU Competition rules are forcing Britain to destroy or greatly reduce in effectiveness some aspects of public provision, for example valuable and justified public monopolies such as Royal Mail (dying the death of a thousand competitive cuts – see section 38) and the 192 directory enquiries system (abolished).

The EU is also threatening public provision through attempts to restrict public spending, for example, Reuters reports (12 10 2006) that the European Commission (EC) is attempting to reduce public spending throughout the EU to prepare for the “pensions crisis” which is supposed to engulf the EU over the next half century.

The EC claims that unless something is done, public debt within the EU will treble to 200 per cent of GDP by 2050. This is reckless scaremongering because no one can meaningfully predict demographic trends that far into the future, let alone the immense economic changes that will happen over such a period. Sadly, that fact will have little bearing on whether the EC will be successful in their quest to cut public spending because that will be a political decision not a rational one. As cuts in public spending would fit neatly with the present “public service bad, private business good” ideology adopted by so many governments within the EU, there is a fair chance the EC will be at least partially successful.

If the EC is successful, any cuts in public spending would in theory bear heaviest on members of the Euro (and thus not Britain) because Euro members are legally committed to keeping their deficits within limits (pause for hollow laugh). However, past experience suggests that whether Britain is a member of the Euro or not, she will find the same rules imposed on her by EU hook or by EU crook to ensure “equality” throughout the EU. (It is worth noting that Britain is already morally committed to keeping within the Euro public spending deficit limits).

Mass immigration is also undermining public provision. It does this in two ways. First, immigrants compete for the social provision Britain offers because the British system allows many millions of foreigners who have not contributed anything to enjoy the full benefits of the considerable public provision available to a British citizen. Any person granted the right to reside permanently in Britain qualifies. That includes some 400 million EU nationals and anyone else legally resident within the EU. British citizens have reciprocal rights in other EU countries but these rights merely require each EU member state to grant the same social provision rights to Britons as they do their own citizens. The social provision in many of the EU states is, as a package, considerably inferior to that offered in Britain. It is also true that far more foreign EU nationals settle in Britain than Britons settle in the rest of the EU – Britain is particularly vulnerable to such immigration because English is the second language of choice for so many foreign EU nationals and the Blair Government, unlike almost all other EU states, made no attempt to stop immigrants from the EU new entrant states such as Polnd.

To the EU population legally entitled to settle may be added those granted asylum, the dependent foreign relatives of British citizens in Britain who are granted the right to join their relatives in Britain, the spouses of those who marry British citizens and those allowed to remain on compassionate grounds, foreign students from outside the EU and those granted work permits.

Finally, many of those who are here illegally manage to obtain access to British social provision by fraud. There is also the problem of “health tourism”, whereby foreigners come to Britain simply to obtain free treatment on the NHS – they are frequently successful because the NHS in practice rarely checks a patient’s immigration status.

All of this puts a tremendous extra burden on the British taxpayer and causes widespread resentment amongst the native population who naturally think that they should not be paying for foreigners or having to compete for the social provision which exists. The poorer members of society are particularly affected because they are the ones who most need social provision, especially in the areas of housing and healthcare – the poorer the area the more need for social housing and often the medical services available locally are meagre compared with more prosperous neighbourhoods. The success of the BNP in Dagenham at the local elections in May 2006 was due in part to the issue of social housing being perceived to be being swallowed up by recent immigrants.

The second way immigration weakens social provision is more subtle. If it is perceived by the native population that large amounts of money are being spent on foreigners, many, particularly those who are less in need of social provision, will begin to question its value at all. This is important because for social provision to be maintained in the long term it requires a general social acceptance. If the better off start to feel they should be paying less for that which they do not use (the better off actually get a very good deal out of the taxpayer – see section 4) there is the danger that necessary social provision will be significantly lessened.

What applies to first generation immigrants also applies to members of ethnic minorities who are born in a country. There are sufficient academic studies (for example, Welfare, Ethnicity and Altruism ed. Frank Salter) of how ethnicity affects the willingness to pay for public provision to tell a clear story: people generally are more willing to support public provision where the provision goes to their own ethnic group.

The public, which is generally in favour of the Welfare State and other public provision such as education, stands helpless, trapped by a stagnant political system which offers them no choice. The ordinary working man is alarmed and resentful to see whole swathes of British industry vanishing as his political leaders tell him this is “inevitable” as employers look abroad for cheap labour. He is nervous when he hears constant calls to introduce private money into public services. Yet he finds that whatever he thinks it does not matter because neither the Labour or the Conservative parties offers him a conduit for his political wishes for both parties disagree with him. Nor can he gain access to the media to express his dissatisfaction or engage in debate. In short, the ordinary elector is practically disenfranchised.

42. Why is the repudiation of public provision happening?

It is easy to see why the Tories are supporting private initiatives over public, but what about Labour? Why are they so determined to go against all their tradition? The answer lies in a mixture of ideological change, expediency and international treaties.

The Labour Party is engaged in an ideological war. New Labour believes it transformed itself into an electable entity in the 1990s by repudiating the Party’s past. Whether that is true is irrelevant for our purposes. (My own view, for what it is worth, is that the Tory Party simply came to the end of the political road and Blair came in by default). What matters is that the received opinion amongst those who control the party today is that the Blairite “re-modelling” was the cause of Labour returning to power.

Blair’s government has increased public spending considerably. The problem is that it has been done shamefacedly and without any clear sense of direction or commitment that neither those in the public services nor the public have any clear idea of what the Government wants or how it will achieve it. Money has been flung at public services and individuals haphazardly, in the manner of a man making a religious or charitable offering, the giving being the important act.

At the same time as direct public spending has increased, the Government has crashed on with introducing ever more private money and private business activity into public service. Those in the public service do not know whether they are coming or going and the public just see more and more money being spent apparently to no good purpose. The consequence is both a blurring of the lines between public and private and a general feeling, whether justified or not, amongst the public that the future is horribly uncertain for public provision, a feeling made more poignant by the absence of any meaningful political opposition to what is happening. The danger is that much public provision could fall by default in such circumstances with the public becoming defeatist about the power of the state to provide the basics where the individual cannot.

Old Labour was and is wholeheartedly pro-public service. New Labour has to a significant but one-sided degree donned the economic clothes of Thatcherism. They have not in practice retained the low tax, low spend part of Thatcherism, (although in truth that was often more observed in theory than practice during the Thatcher years). What they have accepted with the fervour of the religious convert is the Thatcherite commitment to introducing private enterprise into public matters, either directly or through sub-contacting. In particular they want the burdensome government responsibility for complex organisations such as the NHS to be placed either at one remove in so-called freestanding agencies or, even better, cast adrift entirely into fully fledged private business where the public will pay directly rather than through their taxes.

This is not done from noble or even purely ideological motives. It is largely grubby expediency, both at the national and international level. On the domestic front, if a service can be put entirely outside the public realm, the government loses a responsibility. It neither has to account to the public for the service nor raise the money to pay for it. The public pays directly and the one time public employees cease to be a charge on the public purse, both as employees and as future pensioners.

Of course, the provision of some services is so absolutely essential that the government cannot shuffle off all responsibility – such as health and welfare provision – but even there they distance themselves by placing responsibility with so-called freestanding units such as the Benefits Agency or by diluting direct public control through contracting out such jobs as cleaning, transport and food supply. The advantages for the Government are two. First, the government has the opportunity to muddy the waters by saying that the people providing a poor service, for example, hospital cleaners, are not government workers (thus giving the spurious impression that the government are not responsible). Second, overt long-term costs are reduced because no pension costs are incurred by the taxpayer. I say overt because often such savings are offset by increased benefit take-up by those made unemployed, take low paid jobs which qualify them for benefit or who require more state aid in old age because they have no adequate workplace pension.

Although Labour has accepted the distancing of government from direct provision of public services part of Thatcherism, it has not accepted the other half of the equation, that government control of private enterprise should be slackened as much as possible. Judged by their performance since 1997, Labour’s general economic tactic at present is to control business without owning it. This, ironically for a government supposedly of the left, is the classic economic tactic of fascism.

Those are the mundane, dirty causes of the trend towards a repudiation of public provision, but there is also the question of psychology. The most corrosive aspect of politics is ideology. (The only sane way of approaching politics is to ask what ends you wish to achieve and then seek the means to achieve them. The means are important in as much as they should not be immoral or their employment in some way to compromise the desired ends.)

By ideology I mean a political creed which purports to have the  answer to everything. Marxism does that with its attachment to the  inexorable march of the dialectic through history: Neo-Liberalism does it with its quasi-religious belief in the market. It is the latter which has captured modern British politics, at least at the level of those who control the major parties.

Neo-liberalism, like Marxism, has considerable emotional rewards for its disciples because it offers a complete explanation of and guide to action for its disciples. The need for hard thought is removed, all the disciple has to do is refer to set principles and interpret any situation in their light. It is the type of creed to appeal to the religious temperament such as Blair’s.

The Blair Government is reflecting a general trend in the First World. We are moving into an age of plutocracy, of a time when the rich use their power to advance their own interests without concern for the poor and the poor have no power to stop them.

Nor is it only the poor who are affected. The middle classes may ape the rich and parrot their ideology, but they are increasingly finding it more and more difficult to sustain the lifestyle which people in their position had previously taken for granted, such things as home ownership, private schools and even a university education having all become so expensive that even an income well above the average cannot meet them all.

There is nothing surprising in this behaviour. Elites as a group will always behave selfishly at best and be deliberately abusively at worst.There may be individuals within an elite who will have a genuine concern for the poor – Lord Shaftesbury in the 19th Century for example with his campaign against child labour – but their concern will be corralled both by the limitations of their social horizon and by self-interest. Often a humanitarian cause will be divorced from the general inhumanity of the conditions of the poor – Wilberforce’s anti-Slavery campaign is a classic example. Very rarely indeed do members of an elite give up t eir own material privilege – two examples are the philosopher Wittgenstein and the Victorian English missionary C.T. Studd who both gave away their inherited wealth. However, even they did not give it to the poor, but transferred it to other members of their family.

All human institutions become corrupted by elite self-interest. The German sociologist Robert Michels developed the notion of the iron law of oligarchy early in the last century. He intended it to explain why institutions and movements supposedly devoted to the promotion of the interests of the poor, for example Social Democratic parties and trade unions, invariably became corrupted into being vehicles primarily for the promotion of the interests of those who gained power within them. In fact, what he was describing was a general behaviour associated with any formal institution. They invariably become a vehicle primarily for the promotion of the interests of those who gain power within the institution. Its ostensible purpose will be pursued to a degree but only in so much as it does not clash with the interests of its controllers. If we accept that elites will always exist because human  society is inevitably hierarchical, the central political question becomes how far can the masses prevent thwart the naturally abusive tendencies of the elite? For most of history the masses have been generally very unsuccessful in this aim. Their only times of success have come within the context of the modern nation state.

43. The nation state – the only democratic platform

Democracy in the literal direct sense does not exist in the modern world, indeed for practical reasons cannot exist in a state of any size. What we have is what political scientists call elective oligarchy, a political system whereby the electorate is offered a choice ever few years between competing parts of a society’s elite.

That paints a dismal picture for the masses. However, even within an elective oligarchy, they can exercise considerable control given the right circumstances. What the masses can do and have done for most of the past century and a half in Britain is exert an ever increasing control over the elite through representative institutions. But they have only been able to do this because the representative institutions have operated within the context of the national state. Elites as groups have been forced to take heed of the masses because they relied upon their votes to be re-elected and the system worked by and large because the major political parties offered a meaningful alternative on the most of the great issues.

In the past thirty years our political circumstances have changed dramatically. Two things have happened. The freedom of action of the Government and Parliament has been greatly reduced and the political parties have become ideologically aligned.

Entanglement in the EU has resulted in a majority of British legislation ultimately originating not in Parliament but within the European Commission, while various treaties have removed whole swathes of political choice from the electorate, ranging from proper control over foreign policy and border control to the pursuit of a national economic policy. Most profoundly the European single market agreement and the GATT treaty arrangements and membership of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) have left British parties with no choice of economic policy, or as things stand they have to support the notions of free markets and free trade. Any party wishing to offer protectionism and state intervention in the economy cannot do it unless they commit themselves to withdraw from the EU and WTO.

The consequence of the our membership of the EU and our other treaties is that our politicians in practice can offer very little difference in policy to the electorate. And, of course, our politicians find it convenient to use our EU membership and other treaty obligations to excuse themselves from responsibility for unpopular measures or as justification for forcing through vast amounts of detailed legislation which Parliament, let alone the electorate, is barely aware is being passed into law.

The position is worsened by the careerism of the modern politician. This has always existed to a degree, but what we have now is of a different order of magnitude. The really depressing thing about the House of Commons now is the sheer narrowness of experience of the members, many of whom have never had a career other than their political one. Hence, once on the political career bandwagon they cannot afford to get off. The current bandwagon is the internationalist one.

Internationalisation od economics and politics dissolves national sovereignty. The left may cheer this but they are discovering by the day just how restrictive international treaties and membership of supranational groups can be. As things stand, through our membership of the EU and the World Trade Organisation treaties, no British government could introduce new socialist measures because they cannot nationalise companies, protect their own commerce and industry or even ensure that taxpayers’ money is spent in Britain with British firms. As far as economics is concerned, a British government can have any economic system they like provided it is largely free trade, free enterprise.

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

A reversion to nationalism need not be a party political matter in Britain, but the modern British left are unfortunately conditioned to believe that the national state is at best outmoded and at worst xenophobic, racist even. This ignores both the history of the mainstream British left and mistakes form for content.

The Labour Party for almost all of its existence has been strongly protectionist and hence de facto in favour ofthe nation state. Indeed, Blair in the late 1980s was still an economic nationalist. Moreover, for most of the time Labour has been consciously in favour of the nation state and of Britain’s independence – few could give the likes of Attlee and Bevin lessons in patriotism.

As for mistaking form for content, it is simply a matter of empirical fact that the nation state does not produce a uniform behaviour – take Switzerland and Iraq from the present day as examples of that. The idea that nation state equals aggressive, xenophobic, badly behaved warmonger is a literal nonsense. In particular, there is good empirical evidence that where there is significant democratic control within a nation state, this makes aggressive war much less likely than where a dictatorship exists.

It is also true that supranational bodies are not noticeably better behaved than nation states. Worse, they have a large element of the sham in them, being invariably dominated by the more powerful component states, for example, the UN being heavily manipulated by the USA and the EU broadly controlled by its major members. Supranational bodies are not simply vehicles for the normal process of power-mongering, but, in practice, that is their prime function. That they give a spurious appearance of international agreement and legitimacy adds to the ability of the dominating states within them to exercise control over weaker states by direct threats, the withholding of money and, most insidiously, the development of bureaucracies which carry forward the policies forced on the supranational bodies by the most powerful members. ( It is often said that the UN has no power. This is utterly mistaken. It may not have an army but there is a vast web of agencies which allow a great deal of control and influence to be exercised over states which seek their assistance. Some such as the IMF and World Bank control client countries from the outside, while others such as UNHCR permit direct internal interference on the ground.)

44. Conclusion

Nothing I have written is meant to suggest that private enterprise is not the best way of managing most human economic activity. Being in favour of public services and the welfare state does not mean being in favour of spending for spending’s sake. Nor does it mean recklessly advocating public provision regardless of the cost.

History shows that governments are poor at managing enterprises in comparison to private business where proper competition exists and universal provision of the basics of life are not at stake. Nor should the government provide directly where the provision of money to those in need will solve the problem. It would be grossly inefficient, for example, if a government decided to supply food directly to people in need rather than give them the money to buy the food and even more outlandish if the Government decided they had to produce the food as well as supply it.

But there are some items which are beyond the realistic reach of most people. The provision of healthcare, education and a liveable pension in old age are absolute necessities because few of the population can undertake the cost of providing for these for themselves and their children. It is also essential that decent housing is available for all and the state should intervene to ensure its provision.

As a matter of policy direct public provision should be restricted to areas of service where universal provision is required and where it cannot be supplied by private businesses because of the need to make a profit.

It is also unhappily true that bureaucracies have no natural size. If a government is willing and the tax revenues sufficient, there is no end to the expansion of administrate for administration’s sake. Strict limits need to be put on the number of administrators, the limits to be set by deciding in advance what is to be provided and how much it will cost.

Universal provision has the advantage of simplicity and of maintaining the dignity of recipients. That rich and poor are eligible for the same provision is neither here no there because any seeming redundancy in providing benefits to the better off can be adjusted through the tax system, that is,  the richer you are the more income tax you should pay. (The very rich and the self-employed to a degree can avoid income tax, but most cannot).

Mixing public and private, as with PFI, fatally blurs lines of responsibility. This means that when things go wrong no one is held responsible. Politicians point the figure of blame at public servants running “arms-length offices” such as the Benefits Agency or the private companies which have supplied the service, civil servants point at private companies or even, whisper it softly, politicians, and private businessmen blame politicians and civil servants. The taxpayer is left with the worst of all worlds, the ultimate responsibility for picking up the bill but no meaningful control over how it is spent.

Necessary and desirable as public provision is, it should be, like private charity, a safety net not an end in itself. Monetary benefits to those of working age should not be so generous as to dull or even remove the desire and need to work where the individual is capable of doing so. Take away the need for private effort and the economy will suffer.

Supporters of public provision should always keep firmly in mind the fact that the money from the provision comes from the profits of private business. Take too much from that and the less there is for reinvestment and the starting of new businesses. In high tax, high regulation economies there is a considerable disincentive effect on business generally with a marked tendency for domestic companies to move to countries with a more friendly tax and regulatory regime and for foreign companies not to invest. That in turn will reduce the amount of future profit and private employment and consequently lessen the tax available for public provision. It is important not to kill the goose which lays the golden egg. This should be obvious, but all too often the supporters of public provision seem incapable of making the link between public spending and the ultimate source of the taxes which fund it.

In short, public provision should be kept to the minimum of what is  necessary for an advanced, civilised and stable communityand that provision should be adequate but not lavish. What needs to be understood above all is that if public provision is lost, the large majority of the population will find not that it is choice between public services and private services. Rather they will find the choice is between much reduced services or no services at all.

Liberals in a multicultural denialfest

Robert Henderson

Nine Muslim men living in Rochdale Lancashire – eight from Pakistan and one from Afghanistan – have been convicted of  various offences arising from what  is coyly  described as “street grooming” , but whose honest description would be at best the forced prostitution of girls under the age of consent  and at worst  repeated gang-rape often accomplished when the girls were too drunk to know what was happening. . (The girls were all under the age of  16 -the British age of consent for intercourse – and abuse began when some were as young as 13).

Strikingly,  every one of the  47 girls identified as being the subject of abuse by the gang were white. Cue for liberals to dash into a  frenzy of terrified make-believe as they desperately tried  to convince themselves and the public that vicious and sustained abuse of  exclusively white girls by Asian men  had no racial motivation.   Thankfully there have been some  honourable exceptions in the mainstream media to this wilful self-delusion,  for example, Allison Pearson of the Telegraph  pointed out the absurdity and  dishonesty of  the denial of racism in pithy fashion:

“Nine white men are found guilty of grooming young Asian girls, aged between 13 and 15, whom they picked up on the streets of London. The girls were lured with free fish and chips before being raped or pimped as prostitutes. One Asian girl from a children’s home was used for sex by 20 white men in one night. Police insist the crimes were not “racially motivated”.

Imagine if that story were true. Would you really believe that race was not a factor in those hateful crimes? Do you think that, despite conclusive DNA evidence from a girl raped by two men, the police would have hesitated to press charges because the suspects were white and it could make things a bit sensitive in the white community? Would the Crown Prosecution Service have refused to prosecute, allowing the child-sex ring to flourish for three more anguished years?’ (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/allison-pearson/9254651/Asian-sex-gang-young-girls-betrayed-by-our-fear-of-racism.html)

The tactics of liberal denial

Any normal human being would have no problem in seeing  the very obvious racial element  in the case,   but white liberals have found no difficulty in calling black white.  Some, such as the ineffable Asian MP Keith Vaz , opted for simple denial: “ Right at the start of this trial the BNP were outside demonstrating saying that this was a race issue. I do not believe it is a race issue.” http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/9253978/Keith-Vaz-says-child-sex-ring-case-not-race-issue.html).

A real gem came from the lips of the Chief Constable of Greater Manchester whose force investigated the case:

‘…following the trial at Liverpool Crown Court, Greater Manchester Police’s Assistant Chief Constable Steve Heywood, said: “It just happens that in this particular area and time, the demographics were that these were Asian men.

“However, in large parts of the country we are seeing on-street grooming, child sexual exploitation happening in each of our towns and it isn’t about a race issue.”’ (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/9263050/Claiming-Rochdale-grooming-not-about-race-is-fatuous-Trevor-Phillips.html).

A more exquisite example of the religiously pc state senior police officers in Britain have reached would be difficult to find.  I urge  anyone who believes that  there is nationwide “street grooming”  proportionately undertaken by whites to try to find evidence for this. I should be very surprised if they can come up with such evidence. If it did occur one may be sure that it would be given massive prominence by the media and produce hordes of examples when the subject is Googled.   When I tried Googling the subject I drew a blank.

The more sophisticated  amongst the liberal deniers have turned to the well tried and tested liberal left ploys of claiming  that the perpetrators  were not true Muslims and  putting up a smokescreen through the creation of a false equivalence between white and non-white sex offenders.  Here is Aljazeera playing the “not true Muslims” card:

These men convicted in Rochdale may have been nominally Muslim, but they were clearly not practising the true essence of their faith. Many so-called “Muslim criminals” (as identified by the media) are in fact people who might drink, take drugs or engage in other practices considered haram ["forbidden"]. Individuals who commit abuse are abusers, full stop.” (http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/05/201251371618264468.html).

Compare the Rochdale offences with the sex offences committed by Roman Catholic priests. Would anyone want to argue the priests  were only nominally Catholic? I rather doubt it.  It is also true that  Islam, as with any ideology,  sacred or profane, has no “true” version, merely different versions. .

Not to be outdone the Guardian sternly advised that “The defendants in question are at most nominally Muslim. Practising Muslims certainly aren’t supposed to have sex with children.” (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/may/08/asian-sex-gangs-on-street-grooming?newsfeed=true)

The Guardian managed to be both dishonest in its refusal to address the fact that not only the Rochdale case,  but the large majority of this type of group abuse in Britain is conducted by Muslims, and  profoundly wrong when it claims “Practising Muslims certainly aren’t supposed to have sex with children.” Girls of the age used by the Rochdale groups and younger are taken as wives – not merely betrothed – in the Muslim world  and Mohammed himself  took wives of a very young age,  the latter being especially important because Mohammed is the model of the Muslim man.

The false equivalence ploy consists of comparing apples with oranges  and ignoring the widely differing numbers of whites – and Asians – especially in this context  Muslims Asians – in Britain.   Here is an example:

“Martin Narey, former chief executive of children’s charity Barnardo’s, said there was “troubling evidence” that Asians were “overwhelmingly represented” in prosecutions for street grooming and trafficking of girls in towns such as Derby, Leeds, Blackpool, Blackburn, Oldham and Rochdale.

He told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme: “That is not to condemn a whole community, most Asians would absolutely abhor what we have seen in the last few days in the Rochdale trial, and I don’t think this is about white girls.

“It’s sadly because vulnerable girls on the street at night are generally white rather than more strictly-parented Asian girls, but there is a real problem here.”

Mr Narey, who is [also]  a former head of the prison service, added however that sex offenders were “overwhelmingly white” and that there was evidence that those guilty of online grooming were “disproportionately white”. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/9253978/Keith-Vaz-says-child-sex-ring-case-not-race-issue.html).

Narey  begins by comparing  the apples of  the girls repeatedly gang-raped  by the Rochdale group  with the oranges of  sex offenders in  general, an utterly meaningless comparison because sex offences  in Britain can be anything from someone downloading anything deemed to be sexual images of a 17 year old girl  to the rape and murder of a toddler. He goes on to state  ‘that there was evidence that those guilty of online grooming were “disproportionately white”’.    This is a claim made by quite a few  people commenting on the case in the media, for example, by Jane Martinson in the Guardian (http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/may/09/rochdale-grooming-trial-race). She  cites her source as the  CPS’ Violence against Women and Girls 2010/11 report (http://www.cps.gov.uk/publications/docs/CPS_VAW_report_2011.pdf). What the report actually says is this:

“Ethnicity

In 2010-11, 75% of VAWG  [Violence against Women and Girls] crime defendants  were identified as belonging to the  White British category and 79% were categorised as White (as in the previous year). 6% of defendants were identified as Asian, and a further 6% were identified as Black, similar figures to the previous year . Over half of victim ethnicity was not recorded, so is not reported on within this report. “

As  the population of the UK is around 90% white,   the representation of whites is certainly disproportionate,  disproportionately small that is.   It is also interesting to note that the ethnicity of the victims was not routinely recorded and  consequently no figures  are given in the report  for this aspect of the crimes. Could it be that the percentage of white victims is disproportionately large because blacks and Asians  concentrate on white women and girls and statistics are not kept because of this?

Apart from the misrepresentation of the statistics,   there is the ignoring of  the degree of  the offence.  It is one thing to be sexually abused by a single person , quite another to be gang-raped regularly.   The Rochdale abusers were engaged in the most serious category of sex offences.  Try as I might, I cannot find a case of white men acting in a conspiracy to persistently abuse under-age girls in that fashion.  Nor, perhaps most tellingly, can I find any example of white men gang-raping non-white under-age girls or of individual white men abusing non-white under-age girls.   I can also vouch for the fact that, at least as it is reported in the mainstream media,  sexual abuse of non-whites by whites in Britain  is extremely rare.  For nearly two years I wrote a column entitled The joy of diversity for the  magazine  Right Now! now sadly defunct.  The column dealt with the ever growing ethnic minority criminal mayhem being wreaked on Britain.  To do this I kept a cuttings file  which included  all the serious sexual crimes committed by blacks and Asians.  I also kept a  cuttings file of all the similar  crimes committed by whites.  There was a steady stream of sexual offences by blacks (particularly) and Asians , many of them committed against whites. I  only  once came across a  case involving a white attacker  and a non-white victim.

In the days  following  the claims that there was no racial element to the crimes was increasingly challenged, although  what people thought constituted the racial element was almost invariably a cultural explanation rather than a true racial one.  Trevor Phillips, the black chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission,  eventually joined this new bandwagon  after remaining silent for a week:

“Anybody who says that the fact that most of the men are Asian and most of the children are white is not relevant – that’s just fatuous.

‘“These are closed communities essentially and I worry that in these communities there are people who knew what was going on and didn’t say anything, either because they’re frightened or because they’re so separated from the rest of the communities they think ‘Oh, that’s just how white people let their children carry on, we don’t need to do anything’.”

He said it was important also that the role played by the authorities in the area was properly investigated.

“If anybody in any of the agencies that are supposed to be caring for these children – schools, social services and so on – took the view that being aggressively interventionalist to save these children would lead to the demonisation of some group because of the ethnicity … then it is a national scandal and something that would need to be dealt with urgently,” he said. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/9263050/Claiming-Rochdale-grooming-not-about-race-is-fatuous-Trevor-Phillips.html).

Phillips’ intervention is especially interesting because he has a habit of playing what might be described as the liberal’s controlling non-pc card when the absurdities of political correctness become dangerously glaring.  He never becomes honestly non-pc,  just non-pc enough to distract from whatever pc fantasy  is threatening to become a focus for serious dissent amongst native Britons.  Had Phillips been unambiguously honest in this case he would not have waffled on about “closed communities”  or  attributed their general silence on the subject to a contemptuous “Oh, that’s just how white people let their children carry on”.  Instead he would have asked why  the “communities” were closed or questioned exactly how those in these “communities” could have honestly  believed that the sexual exploitation of under-age girls, some as young as 13, was acceptable. He would have asked why all the girls were white rather than being drawn from vulnerable girls of all races.  If Phillips had been really daring he would have raised the  most difficult question of all, namely, in what sense are ethnic minority groups meaningfully  British if they see themselves as so culturally separate from the British mainstream that they will happily accept the abuse of young girls drawn from the native white population?

The crimes were objectively racist

The objective facts of the case say the  Rochdale  crimes were racially motivated.  It was white girls who were exclusively chosen.  If the choice  of  girls  had not  been  decided by race, ethnicity or religion, a mixture of races and ethnicities  amongst the victims would be expected.  The culprits could have chosen Asian girls, including Muslims from their own ethnic group .  If they  had decided they would not use Muslims – although making  that choice would have fallen within the definition of racism that is presently used – but everyone else was fair game,  they could have gone after non-Muslim  Asians from the Subcontinent  such as Sikhs and Hindus, Asians of far Eastern ancestry and  black  as well as white girls.

The claim commonly made by  Asians  that Muslim girls or Asian girls generally  are strictly controlled by their families  whereas white girls  are not and, consequently, white girls are targeted for abuse  simply because they are available and Asian girls are not on offer  will not stand up to scrutiny. Most, possibly all, of the white girls abused in the Rochdale case were in local authority care or from seriously troubled homes .  These were girls who had effectively been left without any adult  guidance or supervision. There are substantial numbers  of black and Asian  girls in the same position.  Moreover, because  ethnic minorities  in Britain are overwhelmingly  concentrated in the large urban areas  rather than distributed  throughout the country as is the case with whites,  the likelihood of vulnerable black or Asian girls being available in or close to the areas where Asian abusers live is high. This is the case with the Rochdale  abusers, Rochdale being part of Greater Manchester which has a large and variegated non-white population.

There is also the contemptuous  attitude Muslim men often have  towards white women to bring into the equation. Here is Allison Pearson again:

“I spoke to Mr Danczuk [the local MP]  yesterday, and he strenuously disputes claims that this is a one-off case, or even a recent phenomenon. The grooming of white girls by a small sub-section of the Pakistani community was being discussed in Blackburn council 15 years ago. Recently, the MP was outraged when male relatives of the accused in a similar child-sex case came to his constituency surgery to ask for support. “They spoke about white women in an exceptionally derogatory way. I nearly threw them out.”

Danczuk’s reported comments also demonstrate  the most shameful  aspect of this affair: the persistent refusal of the authorities – everyone from the local politicians and  the council care workers to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS)  – to  honestly address the complaints of sexual abuse because of a fear of being thought racist and most probably a fear , at least at the political level,  of having such an incendiary topic – immigrants targeting white British girls  for forced sex – brought before a  public who are already deeply concerned with the effects of mass post-war immigration. Tellingly, the CPS prosecutor who  overturned the original CPS decision not to prosecute was a Muslim, Nazir Afzal, whose race and ethnicity protected him from charges of racism.

Complaints have been heard from non-Muslim Asians  whose origins lie in the Indian subcontinent – primarily Sikhs and Hindus -  that  the routine media description of the Rochdale gang as Asian  is misleading because it  tars all Asians with the same brush when it is only Muslims who  were involved and are  rumoured to be involved in other similar instances of abuse. They may have a point. Despite assiduous use of search engines I cannot find any instances of Sikh or Hindu gang grooming of  girls. Interestingly, in my searches  I  came across Hindu and Sikh complaints from 2011 that Sikh and Hindu girls are being targeted by Muslims:

“January 11, 2011

Poush Shukla Saptami, Kaliyug Varsha 5112

Amritsar (Punjab): A day after UKs’ former home secretary Jack Straw blamed some Pakistani Muslim men for targeting “vulnerable” White girls sexually, UK’s Hindu and Sikh organizations also publicly accused Muslim groups of the same offence.

Straw, in an interview to the BBC recently, had said, “…there is a specific problem which involves Pakistani heritage men…who target vulnerable young white girls…they see these young women, white girls who are vulnerable, some of them in care … who they think are easy meat.”

Feeling emboldened by Straw’s statement, UK’s Hindu and Sikh organizations have also come in open and accused some Pakistani men of specifically targeting Hindu and Sikh girls. “This has been a serious concern for the last decade,” said Hardeep Singh of Network of Sikh Organizations (NSO) while talking to TOI on Monday.

Sikhs and Hindus are annoyed that Straw had shown concern for White girls and not the Hindu and the Sikh teenage girls who have been coaxed by some Pakistani men for sex and religious conversion.

“Straw does other communities a disservice by suggesting that only white girls were targets of this predatory behaviour. We raised the issue of our girls with the previous government and the police on several occasions over the last decade. This phenomenon has been there because a minority of Islamic extremists view all ‘non believers’ as legitimate targets,” said director NSO Inderjit Singh.

Targeted sexual offences and forced conversions of Hindu and Sikh girls was not a new phenomenon in the UK, said Ashish Joshio from Media Monitoring group. 

“This has been going on for decades in the UK . Young Muslim men have been boasting about seducing the Kaffir (unbeliever) women. The Hindu and the Sikh communities must be commended for showing both restraint and maturity under such provocation,” he added.

Hardeep said that in 2007, The Hindu Forum of Britain claimed that hundreds of Hindu and Sikh girls had been first romantically coaxed and later intimidated and converted by Muslim men. (http://www.hindujagruti.org/news/11088.html).

This strikes me as  differing in type from the abuse of white girls described in the Rochdale trial, because the Sikh and Hindu girls seem to have been recruited for conversion  with sex used a  tool to achieve this rather than simply being used as  sexual vessels.  Nonetheless, if the report is true –I say if because of the considerable animosity between Muslims and Sikhs and Hindus and the general appetite amongst ethnic minorities for parading their victimhood means  it is best to be cautious about the veracity of the claims – the reported behaviour does display the same contemptuous mentality towards women shown in the abuse of  the white victims in the Rochdale case.

The attitude  of  one of the Rochdale defendants, a 59-year-old man who was not named for legal reasons during the court hearing (most probably because naming him would have identified a minor involved in the case)   gives  a flavour of the mentality which both drove them to commit the crimes and to excuse themselves:

“The man seen as the ringleader, a 59-year-old who cannot be named for legal reasons, was jailed for a total of 19 years for conspiracy, two counts of rape, aiding and abetting a rape, sexual assault and a count of trafficking within the UK for sexual exploitation.

The defendant was previously banned from court because of his threatening behaviour and for calling the judge a “racist bastard”.

Simon Nichol, defending, earlier said his client did not wish to attend the sentencing hearing and had ordered the barrister not to put any mitigation before the judge on his behalf.

“He has objected from the start for being tried by an all white jury and subsequent events have confirmed his fears,” Mr Nichol said.

“He does not take back any of the comments he has made to your honour, to the jury, or to anyone else in the court during the course of the trial.

“He believes his convictions have nothing to do with justice but result from the faith and the race of the defendants.

“He further believes that society failed the girls in this case before the girls even met them and now that failure is being blamed on a weak minority group.” (http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/crime/arrogant-to-the-end-as-rochdale-child-sex-ring-leader-snubs-sentencing-of-racist-court-7727757.html).

So there you have it, in his mind it was not him but society which is  to blame – and by implication white society and nothing to do with his part of the UK population -  and the only reason he was being tried and convicted was racism on the part of ol’ whitey.

The nature of Islam

The predominance of sub continental Muslims in this type of crime raises a question, what is it that makes them and not non-Muslims  from the same region  commit this type of crime?   (It could be that this type of crime is committed by, for example,  Sikhs and Hindus, but there does not appear to be any evidence for it). If that is the true situation it could be that Islam itself encourages the mentality  displayed by the Rochdale offenders  to develop.

The Koran makes no bones about the subordinate position of women by

1.  Sanctioning polygamy – up to four wives  for any Muslim man, although  Mohammed was given a special dispensation to have an unlimited number  and had a reported nine wives plus slave-girls :

“Prophet, We have made lawful to you the wives whom you have granted dowries and the slave-girls whom Allah has given you as booty; the daughters of your paternal and maternal uncles and of your paternal and maternal aunts who fled with you; and the other women who gave themselves to you and whom you wished to take in marriage. This privilege is yours alone, being granted to no other believer. (Sura (chapter):  The Confederate Tribes).

2.  Explicitly saying women are subordinate to men:

“’Men  have authority over women because  Allah  has  made  the  one superior to the other,  and  because   they  spend  their wealth to  maintain  them. “(Sura   ‘Women’). 

3. Sanctioning the corporal punishment of wives by husbands:

“Good  women are obedient.  They guard their unseen  parts  because Allah guarded them.  As for those from whom  you fear disobedience,  admonish them and send them  to  beds  apart and beat them.”  (Sura   ‘Women’). 

4. Allotting a lesser portion of any inheritance to women than is allotted to their male relatives:

“A male shall inherit twice as much as a female…”  (Sura   ‘Women’). 

5. Enforcing  Islam onto non-Muslim women if they wish to marry a Muslim:

“’You shall not wed pagan women, unless they embrace    the faith. A believing slave-girl is better than an  idolatress…’ (Sura ‘The Cow’).

6.  The idea of slave-girls as sexual toys  given by Allah as rewards to the faithful as in the passage cited in 1 above:  “the slave girls whom Allah has given you as booty…”

The general attitude  towards women in the Koran is epitomised by the scorn poured on Arab  pagans who worshipped female deities  and Angels who were the daughters of Allah : “Would Allah choose daughters for himself and sons for you?”  (Sura Ornaments of Gold).

It might be objected that quotes are translations and the original meaning or nuances may be lost or distorted.  Well, the quotes are all taken from the Penguin English translation by N J Dawood, a native Arabic speaker.  In addition, while it is true that any translation presents difficulties,  it is a fact that most Muslims cannot read Arabic and consequently have to rely on translations or word of mouth from Imams  and are  consequently equally subject to translational deficiencies or debates as any non-Muslim reading a translation.  Indeed, many will take their knowledge of the Koran from translations such as that of Dawood.   I have also  looked at another couple of translations and they do not differ greatly on the most contentious passages and clearly  give sanction to behaviour to the idea that women are subordinate to men by Allah’s word and women may be used as men want within the limits decreed in the Koran.

It is easy to see how  any Muslim, even a white western convert, would have difficulty in subscribing to the idea of sexual equality if they were sincere in their faith.  There is not for the Muslim the luxury of re-interpreting the Koran  at will as modern Christians do with the Bible,  because it is the literal word of God  transmitted to Mohammed by the Angel Gabriel.  There are disputes within Islam about how the Koran and supporting texts such as the Hadith should  be interpreted,  but this is generally interpretation  of what  a particular passage or practice means in literal terms  – a good example would be the punishment for adultery which is given at different points  in the Koran  as stoning to death and flogging: the interpreter of the Koran has to decide which is the correct punishment not whether there should be a physical or indeed any punishment for adultery.  Consequently, unlike  mainstream Christianity in Britain, there can be no convenient shrugging off of passages in the Koran  incompatible with modern Western society because they are deemed to be either  unimportant expressions of the social state of former times rather than the core beliefs of the religion  or, more fancifully,  by claiming that they  were not meant as  literal instructions to the faithful.  It is also a  fact that the Koran gives much less scope for plausible “fudging”  of  inconvenient passages (for liberals)  than the Bible,   because it is  both much shorter with fewer contradictions and is, for  Muslims, a  transmission from God  through a single man rather than being a collection of writings -drawn  from many sources, times , places  and people  - working out a religious destiny, as is the case with the Bible.

Any Muslim man would be faced with a dilemma if he wished to adhere strictly to the Koran whilst living in a Western society  because the Koran instructs him to behave in ways which run strictly counter to the values of Western society, including the position of  women.  It is true that  there is  Islamic tradition which require Muslims in countries which are not Islamic to abide by the laws of the society in which  they live, but there is no central Islamic authority which gives such traditions the force of universal  application such as exists with the Catholic church.  Alternative interpretations are handed down by different Islamic authorities.  A Muslim could quite  reasonably  choose an interpretation which suited strict Islamic observance in a non-Islamic country , arguing that it was what the Koran  required and to do any other would be the act of a poorly observant  Muslim.

That would the case of a sincere devout Muslim. But the fact that the Koran gives specific authority to behave in ways, including the  physical chastisement of women ,  which are incompatible with a secular society  such as modern Britain  means it  also gives a green light to less honest  or sincere Muslim men to do what they will with women  simply because it suits their purposes and carnal desires.

It might be objected that men who are not Muslims in many societies have similar ideas on the condition of women.   Most dramatically, the existence of “honour killings”  of women who do not conform to  patriarchal customs  is widespread amongst Sikhs and Hindus and the casual treatment of women by black men is legendary.  But what these non-Muslim men do not have is a religious sanction for such behaviour.  There is a good deal of difference between custom, powerful as that can be, and explicit permission from God, which is the most potent of emotional intoxicants and sanctions.   There is also a qualitative difference between “honour killings” where a female member of the family  goes against  the cultural norms of the ethnic group by , for example,  forming a relationship with someone who is not a member of the group or refusing to accept an arranged marriage,  and taking young girls who are outside the group for sexual abuse.  In the case of the “honour killing”, the act is directed against someone within the group and is intended to preserve the cultural norms of the group. The taking of girls from outside the group is simply the satisfying of sexual desire.

The  age of the girls abused may also have something to do with Islam.  As mentioned previously, girls of the age of those abused by the Rochdale defendants are frequently married in the Muslim world.  In addition, the Koran’s sanctioning of slavegirls  as sexual toys  given by Allah “as booty” to deserving Muslim men may also come into play. It would not be that massive an emotional  stretch for a Muslim man to see white girls as a modern version of slavegirl booty.

There is something else in Islam which may have contributed to the crimes.  The Koran is extremely aggressive towards non-Muslims and makes no bones about the fact that Muslims are the chosen people of Allah. Here are a few example quotes:

‘As  for the unbelievers,  the fire of Hell  awaits  them.  Death shall not deliver them,  nor shall its               torment be ever lightened for them.  Thus shall the  thankless  be  rewarded.’  (Sura ‘The  Creator’).

‘Prophet,  make  war  on the  unbelievers  and  the  hypocrites and deal vigorously with them.  Hell  is their home.  (Sura ‘Repentance’).

‘When the sacred months are over slay the idolators  wherever you find them. Arrest them,  besiege them, and  lie in ambush  everywhere for them.’  (Sura ‘’Repentance’).

 ‘Because of their iniquity, we forbade the Jews the  good  things  which  were  formerly  allowed  them;  because  time after time they debarred others  from  the  path of Allah;  because they practice usury  -  although they were forbidden it – and cheat  others  of their possessions.’ (Sura ‘Women’).

The final quote is especially telling because the Jews are one of the peoples of the book who are supposedly given special protection under Islam.

As with the subordination of women, the fact that the Koran – which is the literal word of God for Muslims -  explicitly and repeatedly  states that Islam  and its adherents are above the rest of humanity will feed the idea that Muslims in non-Islamic countries should both remain separate from the majority population and have the right to use members of the population who are not Muslim in a manner which they would not countenance for their fellow Muslims.

How ideologies fail   

The reason why this type of racist abuse  has been allowed to grow is the ever more paralysing effect   political correctness  and its component  multiculturalism has on British society.  Whites, especially white Britons,  have become at best deeply afraid and paranoid about doing something which could get them held up as a racist and at worst have succumbed to the incessant politically correct propaganda so that they believe ethnic minorities are in some curious way granted dispensation from the dictates of both traditional Western morality  and, ironically,   the supposedly essential  maxims of political correctness.  The most grotesque example of the mentality I can think of is the case of a young white girl Rhea Page who was attacked by four Somali  girls whilst walking with her boyfriend. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2070562/Muslim-girl-gang-kicked-Rhea-Page-head-yelling-kill-white-slag-FREED.html#ixzz1flw8TY6p).   The attack was vicious and sustained – it can be viewed at  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TgIN4kBsNRg –  and the Somalis were  screaming “white bitch” and “white slag yet the judge ruled there was no racist motive and  also refused to jail the Somalis on the grounds that they had taken alcohol which was not part of their culture.

What will happen now? There will be  further action by the police and the CPS on the type of offences exposed in Rochdale – further arrests have already been made (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/9261748/Arrests-made-in-second-Rochdale-sex-grooming-scandal.html), but  the question is not whether one or two more trials will be held as tokens  but whether the grip of political correctness  can be loosened.  It is just possible that this is happening already without any conscious decision being made to do so by those with power.

Secular ideologies never  stand the  test  of time if they become the elite ideology.  Marxism is the classic example,  both because of the scope of its ostensible implementation and the length of time it existed, or  arguably still exists in the case of China and North Korea. Such ideologies  fail because they never accord with reality. They may have some truths but  all seriously clash with what is.  This means that those dependent on the ideology have to revise either the reality to accord better with reality or tell lies to cover the gap between the ideology and reality.

Ideologies are also revised to fit the ambitions of individuals and the circumstances of particular societies.  These often further remove the ideology from reality. The first great Marxist revision was the denial by Lenin  that  the proletarian revolution could only take place when a large  degree of industrialisation had created an industrial proletariat. The second great revision was Stalin’s acceptance that “socialism in one country”  had to replace the  internationalist  credo of Marx  for at least a period of time.   To those breaches in Marx’s  system was added the ever growing corruption of the Soviet elite and the demoralisation of the people.  The upshot was that Soviet propaganda became ever more absurd as the reality of Soviet life jarred ever more with fictitious official reports of soaring harvests and industrial production.  This growing discord between what Soviet citizens experienced and what they were told was happening was an important  agent  in the fall of the Soviet Union.

Political correctness is divorced from reality more emphatically than any other dominant secular ideology of the past century.   Marxism, even in its revised Leninist and Stalinist  forms,  at least appealed to a widespread  human desire for equality of material condition and social status, or at least a desire for no great inequality.   Even  at its most pure political correctness asks human beings to deny vitally  important natural human behaviours  by pretending that no distinction can be meaningfully or morally be  made between races, ethnicities, cultures,  religions, sexes or sexual  behaviours.  It seeks to treat all members of homo sapiens as interchangeable, sees  the continuing idea of nations as pernicious and insists that no element of the universal and natural human trait of tribalism be countenanced.

The pure version of political correctness would be very damaging and seriously divorced  from reality. But the version of political correctness that actually exists is not pure and is a political recipe for widespread political unrest. It applies double standards when dealing with different racial and ethnic groups and has been reduced to no more than a means of privileging some groups over others. As those who are privileged are invariably the minorities and those disadvantaged  invariably the majority native populations,  the lies needed to produce  an official narrative in  accord with political correctness become ever more implausible  - the Rhea Page case and the attitude towards the Rochdale  defendants  are stark  examples – and the anger within the majority native populations grows.  There is a growing possibility that at least the multicultural part of political correctness may come tumbling down under the weight of its own fantastic absurdity.

The Universal Terrorist God

Robert Henderson

God, who goes by a large number of aliases including Yaweh, Jehovah,  Allah, The Almighty and Him, has been on the run since the beginning  of   time as men have sought to bring him to book for his innumerable  terrorist   actions, including all “natural” disasters, wars, famines and diseases.

All attempts to treat with God over many millennia  have failed and the question is being asked “Does God have any coherent or  realisable  demands of  Man?”

Taxed with this problem, the Rev Dr I M A  Believer   said “God’s ways are mysterious and not for Man to question.  It is all part of  His divine plan”.

An unbeliever, Mr  Thomas  Doubting,  would have none of this. “One only has to look around the world to see what a nonsense this God idea is. Christians say he is a loving God, a good Shepherd and  Muslims say he is all merciful, while Jews have believed just about everything about their God  at some time in the past 3 millennia,  including believing He has chosen them as His favoured people.  Try squaring that with these disasters.

“As for the rest of religion, you run the gamut from folks believing that rocks and rivers have spirits in them to the likes of Buddhists who say there is no God, merely states of existence. If all that’s sending a coherent message to Man I’m Charlie Chaplin.”

A UN spokesman said: “Vast attempts have been made to appease God by  slavish worship and sacrifices over the past millennia, but all that  has achieved is to show the truth of Kipling’s verse ‘Once you have  paid the Danegeld/You never get rid of the Dane’. Our major problem is that it is not clear what God’s demands are as He sends out so many conflicting messages. It is unclear whether he has any rational or  consistent demands. “

Dissenting voices have also been heard regarding the causes of “acts of God”.  A structural engineer Mr Al Putogether  blames the  series of disasters on poor design. “Just look at how poor the construction of Man is. He   can only walk upright by adopting a permanent falling tactic  and   women   often die in childbirth because the baby’s head is too big for the mother’s pelvis.  And what about viral  diseases? They just mutate all on their own.  Then there’s the big one: genetic coding which is mistranslated to give mutations.  And is it beyond the wit of an omniscient being to avoid the ageing process and senile dementia?   Clearly no one is in proper control.”

Mr Putogether was backed up by a fellow engineer, Mr Lou Tension. “Everything we see is jerry built.  You’ve got  a planet where molten lava keeps breaking through the  crust. What  kind of safety cover is that? Hasn’t God heard of negative feedback? Then there are these damned tectonic plates which just keep slipping about and causing earthquakes. And what about the oceans and the weather? Where’s the quality control? Where are  the safety fail-safes?  How come we have tidal waves and hurricanes?  What’s so great about things like the last Asian tsunami?  Jeeez… that  was just a low technology action using nothing more than crude  earth shifting and water. Hell, I could come up with something better over lunch!”

 

Following  the  media claim that God  is  in frequent communication with the one-time  President of the United States of Moronica, George W Moron,  ex-President  Moron said “God talks ter me plenty but he don’t tell me everythin’ an’  sometimes he tells me things I ain’t ter tell anyone else.”

Retired British PM Margaret Thatcher told BBC News that “Terrorists must never be   appeased,   even if they are God”.

Questioned on the latest “act of God”, all religious leaders said it  was  either “His mysterious will” or the consequence of “bad karma”.

A Papal spokesman issued a statement denying that the Catholic Church was merely “the temporal arm of God” and had no control over God’s actions.  However, the spokesman refused to condemn God and said that His  actions must be put in the context of Man’s past behaviour. The  spokeman  ended by emphasising that “He will not be going away”.

Last night the digital TV station Angelspan broadcast a message they  claimed was from God: “My will be done, whatever it is, and ‘acts of  God’ will continue until it is done!”

Angelspan said that the message had been left in the mind of their  political editor by the well established God method of transmission: Revelation.

Experts are agreed that future acts of terror by  God were certain, it was a case not of whether but when.

Can a Libertarian also be a Conservative?

Robert Henderson

If there was ever an essay title  which begged questions it is this one. What is a libertarian and what  a conservative? What is liberty? What is  Left, what is Right?  The problems of definition run so deep that they efficiently sabotage the question “Can a Libertarian also be a Conservative?”

Take libertarianism. The range of views which huddle under the libertarian banner range from the absolutists who want no government  at all  with everything decided by  voluntary agreement, to those who accept varying degrees of state intervention from a minimal state comprised of justice, police, defence and the tax raising powers needed to fund such a  state, to those like Hayek who accept that the state should provide a bare level of subsistence for those unable to work.

But the confusion does not stop there. Question any libertarian closely and  you will invariably find that they are inconsistent in their beliefs. For example, a libertarian will often claim to be  absolutely opposed to censorship  in the abstract but then start making exceptions for the difficult cases such as child pornography or racism.

Or take the central tenet of libertarian thought , the primacy of property, a concept which  for libertarians stretches beyond the common use meaning of the word to such things as the property a man has in his labour or his right to have a say in any government which taxes him. At the level of common usage – goods and services which a man owns – property  is underpinned for the libertarian  by a commitment to laissez faire economics , both within the domestic market and for international trade. Yet many, probably most,  libertarians  accept without question such gross interferences with a free market as anti-monopoly laws, limited liability and copyright.

Nonetheless there is a general thrust to libertarian thought; that   individuals should live lives largely untrammelled by government  and  society should be primarily arranged on the basis of agreement between  individuals. Institutions, culture  and  history are not a necessary part of a libertarian’s  life although they may contingently form part of it.

With conservatism the immediate problem of definition is the pedantic fact that a  a conservative is one who wishes to maintain the status quo. If a libertarian lived in a society which was already thoroughly libertarian, they would presumably wish to maintain the status quo and hence be  a conservative in that context.

But of course conservative has a particular political connotation and that is infinitely  more problematical. We have a party called Conservative in Britain but it is not  a party which would have been recognised as conservative two centuries ago. Semantic drift over the past two centuries

while libertarianism and the natural tendency of human beings to find ideologies imperfect  and to consequently wish to amend them.  However, although no objective certainty is possible, an examination of  the terms will reveal what they share and if there is any absolute bar to their mixing.

The Duke of  Wellington epitomises the mentality of the Ancien Regime.  He objected to the practice of   private soldiers cheering their officers because it came close to the expression of  an opinion. He believed that his private soldiers were the scum of the earth but admired them. He was resolutely opposed to any extension of the franchise – he described the first post-Great Reform Act House of Commons as containing “more bad hats than he had ever seen”.

In 1809 when the party we today call conservative or Tory  was known only as Tory, a thorough going conservative (if the term had existed as a political denomination)  would have been someone who supported the landed interest against the Whig commercial interest,  was for the Old Colonial System and against the idea of free trade, both in the domestic market and with the rest of the world,  looked with a jaundiced eye at  British foreign adventures  and  thought the British Constitution  a model of perfection,  which perfection nullified the need for any  reform of rotten boroughs or expansion of the franchise.

But if that was the feeling of the natural Tory in 1809 there were ideological rats gnawing away at the innards of the of the Party.  Pitt the Younger had been in sympathy with the idea of free trade but his plans were thwarted by the French Revolution.

Once lodged within some supposedly Tory hearts the idea lay there like  a dormant disease for the better part of 40 years, every now and then flaring up but never seriously challenging the existing Tory order.  Then came the Great Reform Act of 1832 and  a newly bourgeois House of Commons changed the balance of political power. With that came the opportunity of laissez faire.   Surprisingly the man who gave it practical effect was a supposedly Tory Prime Minister  Sir Robert Peel . He for the second time in his career  (1) broke a solemn promise to his party and began a series of reforms – of which the repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846 is the most famous – which gradually  emasculated the Old Colonial System until it was finally died at the  beginning of the 1860s.

The effect of Peel’s embracing  of laissez faire policies was to cause a split in the Tory Party which kept them out of power for more than twenty years.  During that time the Whigs, who were in the process of evolving into the Liberals,  avidly embraced the policies of  laissez faire and free trade. (2). Just as Old Labour transmogrified into NuLabour and the Conservatives into NuTory  during long spells in the political wilderness  through a desperation for office so did the Tories in the mid-nineteenth century.  The  party split after 1846  but  the party which was left and which developed over the next 25 years saw  laissez faire  firmly ensconced within it without becoming utterly dominant. It was a party divided between  Tories and Conservatives.

Because it has been melded by practical politics and the Conservatism traditionally sees institutions, culture  and  history  as vitally important because they are the priceless artefacts of the organic development of society, the repositories of the collective wisdom of  the evolution of society.

At the same time the party which was now called Liberal was split between  Whigs and the new liberals

But just as libertarianism and conservatism has mutated over time and are both broad ideological churches today , so have other political ideologies. Socialism can run from meaning any state intervention beyond the minimal state -  socialist and  commie are  common epithets directed at Obama in his attempt to provide universal healthcare in the USA – to Marxist-Leninism.

There is a profound practical difference  between the two ideologies. Conservatism has been put to the test of being encased within serious political parties which have formed governments while the libertarian cause has  been more of an aspiration than an organised  political movement. Indeed, there is an inherent difficulty in the idea of  libertarianism being enshrined within a party because. a party implies not only a set menu of policies but the need for enforced discipline on party members. Even more problematic is the idea of a libertarian government because that would mean libertarians forcing their will on those who were not libertarian, a direct contradiction of the idea of voluntary association which lies at the heart of libertarianism.

The worm at the heart of the concept of  liberty is the division between negative and positive freedom. Libertarians eagerly embrace negative freedom but thrust positive freedom firmly away, because negative freedom is simply the freedom to do whatever is not forbidden, while positive freedom requires the intervention of state authority to impose  measures such as a re-distribution of wealth or the  favouring of the poor when it comes to the provision of state-funded education. Indeed, many libertarians would deny that positive freedom is a  semantic fraud akin to “positive discrimination” .

The  consequence of  libertarians denying the need

Negative and positive freedom are not of course concepts which are peculiar to libertarians. Conservatives, even of the “old order” were great supporters of negative freedom. The last thing they wanted was an intrusive state for it interfered with their  social and political power. Nor did the entrepreneurs of the Industrial Revolution, who were all for the state allowing them to run their mines and factories as they  chose without such encumbrances as the Factory Acts.

The roots of libertarianism lie in the natural bias of  human beings to follow their own will.  But because Man is the social animal par excellence that will has to be filtered through the will of others. This necessitates, for any viable society, a degree of general concord. That is turn raises problems of  how such concord is reached. In simple tribal societies agreement is reached partly by  accumulated custom, partly by the natural formation of hierarchies and partly by general discussion and agreement.  These three things apply  to more sophisticated and larger societies but other forces come into play in such societies: the need for delegated authority and representation and the magnification of  the power of individuals through their control of ever greater resources  whether privately held or state acquired. This invariably restricts the freedom of the individual. It is consequently pointless for the libertarian to produce a blueprint for a libertarian society which is intended to fit any society regardless of its size and sophistication.

In principle, the libertarian ideal of a society based on individual agreement can be most closely approached at the level of the small tribal society, because it is only at that level that it is practical to have a society which can be run entirely on the basis of personal contact.  The fact that tribal societies are in practice far from the libertarian ideal is another matter, although  in some at least the reality is  probably closer to the libertarian ideal of individual determination and agreement than is any more sophisticated society because  circumstances force all the members to interact with one another.  What matters  is the  practicality of libertarianism within the society.

Once the

There is of course a great deal of difference between  theoretical political  positions and their practical realisation. A naturally authoritarian government  with very limited resources  may impinge far less on  the lives of those it governs than a government which has avowed libertarian intentions but a  much larger treasury, An Englishman living in the first half of the nineteenth century would have had his life little brushed against by the state provided he did not fall into criminal ways or need great enough to drive him to the Poorhouse. What could have impinged upon his freedom were poverty, lack of education,   the still surviving social dominance of landowners, the virtually unrestrained power of employers, especially in industry, and the general restrictions of  the class structure.

There is a lesson for libertarians there. Freedom is not simply  the absence of state control. It is also freedom from  the  tyranny of  those who are  powerful without the support of the state,   whether that be as a group or an individual,  That raises the problem of how libertarians are to create a society which minimises  both state intervention and non-state social control.  Clearly both cannot be realised so that there has to be a trade off between the two. If this is not done, all  the realisation of libertarian non-statist aspirations will achieve is the rapid creation of a plutocracy, a form of society which is antithetical to libertarian ends because it would reinforce and  enlarge the natural tendency within societies to

The honest answer to the question posed by the competition’s essay title is simple:  it cannot be meaningfully answered because there is no such thing as a perfect adherent to libertarian or conservative ideology  or an objectively certain  definition of Libertarian or Conservative. The same applies to any  other political ideology.  That being so it makes no sense to argue whether a libertarian can also be a Conservative even if a conservative is defined as  it has been  defined politically for the past few centuries.

What can be said is that most people who sail under the Conservative flag today  share much with libertarians, at least in their theoretical policy positions. They favour  a minimum of state interference in most aspects of  national life, the main areas of policy where this does not apply being policing and penal policy. Such people  are supporters of laissez faire economics,  although they often oppose completely free movement of labour.  They are for low tax.  They  support the idea of the family, something which a libertarian should support because the family is a bulwark against the state. They favour strong defence, something acceptable at least to libertarians who are not absolutists.  They support private healthcare and  private schools and ideally would wish universities to be independent of government.

A  card-carrying Libertarian could not be a card carrying political Conservative in any of the words’ historical or present senses. What he can be today is someone who embraces those aspects of  modern political conservatism  which accord with or at the least come nearest to meeting libertarian desires.  In theory at least, there are plenty of those.

But there is more hope for most libertarians than merely making do with aspects of conservatism,  for as pointed out above  few who call themselves libertarians are thorough going believers. They, like every other person, can  choose political ideas which are deemed to be politically incompatible  according to a particular creed or the  traditional  Left-Right political classifications.

Political ideas at bottom are simply conveniences  which human beings accept or reject insofar as they find them useful and congenial. Logical necessity extrapolated from an ideology counts for nothing.  For example, the more extreme believers in laissez faire economics build a theoretical construct which insists that free trade must logically include free movement of labour. The logical necessity exists only within their man made and self-conscious ideology, and is irrelevant  to real life  because it is self-evidently possible to operate a political policy of free trade in goods and services while preventing mass immigration.

There is no shame in  ideological eclecticism, merely an acknowledgment of  the impracticality or impracticality of political ideas and a recognition that  all ideologies are inadequate descriptions of reality and contain contradictions.  Political ends should be aspirations  towards the ideal.

For only liberty, only a free market, can organize and maintain an industrial system, and the more that population expands and explodes, the more necessary is the unfettered working of such an industrial economy. Laissez-faire and the free market become more and more evidently necessary as an industrial system develops; radical deviations cause breakdowns and economic crises. This crisis of statism becomes particularly dramatic and acute in a fully socialist society; and hence the inevitable breakdown of statism has first become strikingly apparent in the countries of the socialist (i.e., Communist) camp. For socialism confronts its inner contradiction most starkly. Desperately, it tries to fulfill its proclaimed goals of industrial growth, higher standards of living for the masses, and eventual withering away of the State, and is increasingly unable to do so with its collectivist means. Hence the inevitable breakdown of socialism.   Murray N. Rothbard

Cicero quotes Cato as saying that the Roman constitution was superior to that of other states because it “was based upon the genius, not of one man, but of many: it was founded, not in one generation, but in a long period of several centuries and many ages of men. For, said he, there never has lived a man possessed of so great a genius that nothing could escape him, nor could the combined powers of all men living at one time possibly make all the necessary provisions for the future without the aid of actual experience

and the test of time.” Chapter Four, Freedom, Reason, and Tradition; The

Constitution of Liberty ISBN 0-226-32084-7, University of Chicago Press | 1960 | Friedrich A. Hayek

There are many things specifically in laws and governments,” wrote Chief Justice Hale in the seventeenth century in a critique of Hobbes, “that mediately, remotely and consequentially are reasonable to be approved, though the reason of the party does not presently or immediately and distinctly see its reasonableness…Long experience makes more discoveries touching conveniences or inconveniences of laws than is possible for the wisest council of men at first to foresee. And that those amendments and supplements that through the various experiences of wise and knowing men have been applied to any law must needs be better suited to the convenience of laws, than the best invention of the most pregnant wits not aided by such a series and tract of experience…This add to the  difficulty of the present fathoming of the reason of laws, which, though it commonly be called the mistress of fools, yet certainly it is the wisest expedient among mankind, and discovers those defects and supplies which no wit of man could either at once foresee or aptly remedy…It is not necessary that the reasons of the institution should be evident unto us. It is sufficient that they are instituted laws that give a certainty to us, and it is reasonable to observe them though the particular reason of the institution appear not.”

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 184 other followers

%d bloggers like this: