Category Archives: Philosophy

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.”

Muhammad Ali and the white liberals

Robert Henderson

The death of the boxer Joe Frazier has given  widespread publicity to the toxically derogatory remarks made about Frazier by Muhammad Ali. But Ali’s was no common or garden abuse for it included comments which were  unashamedly racist. Here are a few :

“Joe Frazier is an Uncle Tom. He works for the enemy. This was said when Ali criticised Frazier for having a white management team.  ” Frazier emphatically replied to this  with  “A white lawyer kept him out of jail. And he’s going to Uncle Tom me….”

“He’s the other type Negro, he’s not like me… “There are two types of slaves, Joe Frazier’s worse than you to me … That’s what I mean when I say Uncle Tom, I mean he’s a brother, one day he might be like me, but for now he works for the enemy”…

“Joe Frazier should give his face to the Wildlife Fund. He’s so ugly, blind men go the other way. Ugly! Ugly! Ugly! He not only looks bad, you can smell him in another country! What will the people of Manila think? That black brothers are animals.Ignorant. Stupid. Ugly and smelly.”

Comments such as these were especially ungenerous because Frazier had given Ali money while he was banned from boxing and supported the return top boxing.

Compare those words  with Ali’s supposed comment on Frazier’s death:

“The world has lost a great champion. “I will always remember Joe with respect and admiration. My sympathy goes out to his family and loved ones.”  (  Somehow one doubts those were Ali’s words, not least because his faculties  are, judged by his rare public appearances,  now very limited.

Since the  last of the Frazier fights in 1975 , Ali has supposedly excused his abuse  by saying they were simply to sell his fights with Frazier.  I say supposedly because these claims have come since he began to suffer from Parkinson’s disease which was probably in the late 1970s when his interviews began to lose their fluency and vitality (see his 1981 appearance on Parkinson when he was clearly finding it difficult to answer clearly and slurring was evident, although he was not diagnosed until 1984 (

But even if  Ali has been mentally capable of making and understanding his rebuttals of his own words, there is the inconvenient fact (for Ali  and his admirers) of his many (by the liberal
definition of racism) categorically racist utterances when he was a member of the Nation of Islam.  These included:

‘We who follow the teachings of Elijah Muhammad don’t want to be forced to integrate. Integration is wrong. We don’t want to live with the white man; that’s all.’

“No intelligent black man or black woman in his or her right black mind wants white boys and white girls coming to their homes to marry their black sons and daughters.’

‘Why don’t we get out and build our own nation? White people just don’t want their slaves to be free. That’s the whole thing. Why not let us go and build ourselves a nation? We want a country. We’re 40 million people, but we’ll never be free until we own our own land.’

‘We’re not all brothers. You can say we’re brothers, but we’re not.’ (,,1072751,00.html)

Ali did not leave the  Nation of Islam until  1975 He was making the same separatist statements in 1974 (see An Audience With Muhammad Ali in London 3/5 – go to 4.58 minutes in as he had made in the 1971 Parkinson interview (see
– go in at 19 minutes) and was also  vehemently anti-white when he appeared on Parkinson again in 1975 where, amongst other things, he claimed to have “no white friends, only white associates” ( He was also displaying a strong  line of black  victimhood in 1981 before his last fight against Trevor Berbick  (go in at 40
minutes –  In that clip Ali is clearly struggling with his speech and coherence of thought – he gets his own age wrong by several years at one point.

In addition to his deteriorating mental condition from the second half of the 1970s, there is also what might be called the “Muhammad Ali Brand”  to consider when asking whether Ali has been responsible for his utterances since the early 1980s.  The army of hangers on he was feeding throughout the 1970s – who probably were the main engine  keeping  him fighting after 1975, including undignified tag matches against wrestlers and karate exponents –   did not fade away when he retired.  They wanted the brand to continue and black separatist
ideas and anti-white rhetoric were not going to sit easily with the rise of the multiculturalist religion.  So when Ali became incapacitated  it allowed them  the opportunity to remould his image as that of the “love everyone guy”, which was done  with great success.    The uncritical plaudits and the hours rolled in. Ali’s website lists these awards amongst others these:

• United Nations Messenger of Peace in 1998-2008, for his work with developing nations

• Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005, the United States of America’s highest civil award

• Amnesty International’s Lifetime Achievement Award

• Germany’s 2005 Otto Hahn Peace Medal, for his involvement in the U.S. civil rights movement and the United Nations

• International Ambassador of Jubilee 2000, a global organization dedicated to relieving debt in developing nations

• State of Kentucky’s “Kentuckian of the Century”


The mainstream media has been no less effusive and adulatory.  In 1999 Ali was crowned “Sportsman of the Century” by Sports Illustrated ( and “Sports Personality of the Century” by the BBC (
In  February  2012 he will  receive an “all-star 70th birthday salute at the MGM Grand“ (

Compare this fawning treatment  by white liberals of  a man who for most of his coherent adult life publicly  enthusiastically espoused black separatism  and was willing to defend uncritically the leader of the Nation of Islam Elijah Muhammad  who taught that whites were blue-eyed devils with the response of white  liberals to the slightest hint of racism made by a white sportsman towards  a black.  (It should also be noted that the man who succeeded  Elijah  as Nation of Islam leader was the even more inflammatory Louis Farrakhan,  who was a
senior member of the organisation throughout  Ali’s membership) .

In Britain we currently have the England football  captain John Terry being given the media third degree because of an alleged  single racist  insult to a  black player Anton Ferdinand  with the police investigating the accusation as a  hate crime (

Abroad there is the furore over Tiger Woods’ ex caddy  Steve Williams who,  having been  sacked by Woods,  told a supposedly off-the-record  “caddie of the year” awards ceremony in
Shanghai  that   his new employer Adam Scott’s win in Shanghai made him feel that he  ” wanted to shove it [the win]  up that black arsehole.”  (  The response has  been a tidal wave of mass media horror with many calling for Scott to sack Williams and some hoping openly that it would end his caddying career.

On the face of it the disparity between the white liberal’s  treatment of the  unambiguous racist (by their definition of racism) Ali and that of whites,  who may at worst have made a racist comment either in the heat of the moment (Terry) or at a social gathering which was meant to be private and where one presumes drink flowed freely (Williams),  is so stark as to be comical.  Ali is treated as a hero with,  as the years go by, an ever greater saintly admixture,  while Terry and Williams are viewed as though they have committed offences which should put them beyond the Pale.

Why the difference? Well, white liberals have long  had a special liking for blacks as their clients, regardless of their behaviour -think of  the white liberal’s fawning over Black Panthers in the 1960s and 1970s.  Other ethnic minorities may be worthy  in the white liberal’s eyes, but not quite as worthy as blacks. Perhaps this favouritism has its roots in the fact of black slavery and the anti-slavers  who were the proto-liberals whose descendants feast happily on political correctness today.  Perhaps it is because  blacks seem less capable than other races to live non-violent useful lives in advanced societies and are thus seen as both most in need of the white liberal’s help and the people on whom white liberal  guilt can be most satisfying expended because of the supposed residue of black disablement due to  slavery. (It is a little difficult to feel  guilt  so satisfyingly where  ethnic minorities are in a white society are not
so downtrodden  or have not been enslaved or even colonised).  Perhaps it is simply that blacks look so physically different from  whites that  white liberal feels most comfortable treating them as clients – for that is what they are – rather than equals, a sort of white liberal Saunders of the River mentality  with patronising white Bwana  behaviour replaced by patronising  faux  equality white liberal behaviour.

What the difference in treatment of Ali and Terry and Williams does emphatically demonstrate is the bogus nature of the white liberal’s claimed hatred of discrimination.  When the white liberal declaims against discrimination,  what they really mean  is discrimination is outrageous if it is practised on someone protected by political correctness but permissible when it comes from someone within the politically correct fold.   But that permissibility only extends so far, often only to not punishing.   When Ali was appearing on talk shows such as  Parkinson’s spouting his anti-white, anti-integrationist  the attitude of white liberals was to either  try to pretend Ali did not mean what he was saying or to treat what he was saying as a joke. They were in fact patronising him.  Since Ali’s  illness, white liberals have  been only too happy to go along with the line that Ali no longer believes, or even ever believed,  in black separatism or white devils, because that was the most comfortable thing for them to do and his racist past has gradually faded to almost nothing in the public consciousness. The result is that the vast majority of Ali admirers today  have no idea of what Ali’s views on race once were.

If Ali was a young boxer  now, just making his way, would he still be able to spout doctrines of racial separation and proclaim whites as devils?  It is a moot point. But  those who think
times have changed too much for it to be tolerated now,  should reflect on the fact that Farrakhan still gets public exposure in the USA without any real difficulty.  Even in Britain racist outbursts by blacks in the public eye are still treated with remarkable equanimity by the white liberal elite. Take the black Labour MP Diane Abbott. In 1996 (she was already an MP) she complained about the employment of “Blond, blue-eyed, Finnish nurses “ rather than Jamaicans in the NHS,   yet was neither expelled by the Labour party nor deselected as an MP.  More recently in 2010 she  described David Cameron (the British Prime Minister) and George Osborne (the British Chancellor of the Exchequer) as “posh white boys”  (  Not only did this provoke no outcry from politicians or the media, Abbott was allowed to continue to run for  the Labour leadership – the fact that she was running at all was the result of the other candidates  not wanting it to be an all-white contest and  of the leading contender David Miliband  urging some of his supporters to sign her nomination papers.

It is a truly bizarre thing that white liberals should have as one of their great icons a man who,  when he could speak freely and coherently for himself , was someone who held opinions which would get any white man or woman drummed out of town.

Margaret Thatcher: the most useful of idiots

With his mixture of vaulting intellectual ambition and howling mediocrity of mind, Lenin is the MaGonagal of  philosophers. (Connoisseurs of intellectual incompetence and pretension should browse through Lenin’s ‘Materialism and  Empririo-Criticism’ for an especial treat). Nonetheless,  like Hitler, the man possessed a certain low animal cunning  and a complete absence of moral restraint, which qualities  permitted him to make a few acute psychological and  sociological observations. Amongst these is the concept of  the useful idiot.

For Lenin this was the role to be played primarily by  simpleminded bourgeois dupes who unwittingly aided the  movement towards the proletarian revolution, a revolution  utterly antipathetic to the ideals and aspiration of the simpleminded bourgeois dupes. But the concept is of general  political utility. The useful idiot is any person who acts  in a way which unwittingly promotes political interests  which are opposed to his own political ideals.

The best of all useful idiots are those in positions of the  greatest political advantage, both because they have power  and their  propensity to be  deluded by their egos  into believing that they are utterly beyond manipulation or mistaken in their policies. They also display a serious want of  understanding of the probable consequences of their actions.

It was this combination of circumstances and mentality which  made Margaret Thatcher so potent a useful idiot in the  liberal internationalist cause.  As I wrote that last sentence, I saw rising up before me the  opposing hordes of her admirers and haters, singularly  united in a ghastly embrace of disbelief. Was she not the  Iron Lady, the Hammer of the Left, the destroyer of union  power, the slayer of the socialist dragon? Did she not speak  of turning back the tide of immigrants? Was she not the rock  from which the European Leviathan rebounded? Did she not  ensure that Britain was respected in the world as she had not  been since Suez? Was she not a mover and shaker in the nationalist cause?

In her own rhetorical world Mrs T was all of these things,  a veritable Gloriana who enchanted some and banally persuaded  many more, but in practical achievement she was none of them. This discrepancy between fact and fancy made her an  extraordinarily potent tool for the soldiers of the  ascendant ideology of the post-war period, the sordid bigotry  that is liberal internationalism.

The hard truth is that she allowed the primary British  political corruptions of the post war period – immigration,  multiculturalism, “progressive” education, the social work  circus,  internationalism, the attachment to Europe – to not  merely continue but grow vastly in scope during her period in  power.

A harsh judgement? Well, at the end of her premiership what  did Britain have to show for her vaunted patriotism, her wish  to maintain Britain’s independence, her desire to drive back the state, her promise to end mass immigration? Precious  little is the answer.

Her enthusiastic promotion of the Single European Act, which  she ruthlessly drove through Parliament, allowed the  Eurofederalists to greatly advance their cause under the  guise of acting to produce a single market; her “triumph” in  reducing our subsidy to Europe left us paying  several billion  a year to our European competitors whilst France paid next to  nothing; our fishermen were sold down the river; farmers  placed in the absurd position of not being allowed to produce  even enough milk for British requirements; actual (as opposed to official) immigration increased; that monument to liberal  bigotry, the Race Relations Act was untouched, the  educational vandals were not only allowed to sabotage every  serious attempt to overturn the progressive disaster, but  were granted a great triumph in the ending of ‘O’ levels, a  liberal bigot success amplified by the contemptible bleating  of successive education secretaries that “rising examination  success means rising standards”; foreign aid continued to be  paid as an unforced Dangeld extracted from an unwilling electorate; major and strategically  important industries either ceased to be serious competitors  or ended in foreign hands; the armed forces were cut  suicidally; the cost of the Welfare State and local  government rose massively whilst the service provided both  declined and Ulster was sold down the river with the Anglo Irish Agreement. Most generally damaging, she promoted  internationalism through her fanatic pursuit of free trade.

At all points Britain was weakened as a nation. Such were  the fruits of more than a decade of Thatcherism. Even those things which are most emblematic of her – privatisation, the sale of council houses and the  subjection of the unions – have had effects which are  contrary to those intended. Privatisation merely accelerated  the loss of control which free trade engendered. We may as customers celebrate the liberation of British Telecom and BA,  but is it such a wonderful thing to have no major car  producer or shipbuilder? The trouble with the privatisation of major industries, which may be greatly reduced, go out  of business or be taken over by foreign buyers, is that it  ignores strategic and social welfare questions. Ditto free trade generally. Both assume that the world, or at least the  parts which contain our major trading partners , will remain  peaceful, stable and well disposed towards Britain for ever, an absurd assumption.

Margaret Thatcher also engaged in behaviour which led to a corruption of public life which undermined and continues to  undermine her intended ends. Politicians should always think of what precedent they are setting when they act for bad  precedents will be invariably seized upon by later  governments. She  consistently failed to  address this concern. Take her attitude to privatisation and  the unions. In the former case she displayed a contempt for  ownership: in the latter she engaged in authoritarian actions  which were simply inappropriate to a democracy. Such legally  and politically cavalier behaviour has undoubtedly  influenced Blair and New Labour, vide the contempt with which  parliament is now treated, constitutional change wrought and incessant restrictions on liberty enacted.

There is a profound ethical question connected to  privatisation which was never properly answered by Tories:  what right does the state have to dispose by sale of assets  which are held in trust on behalf of the general public and  whose existence has been in large part guaranteed by  taxpayer’s money? This is a question which should be as  readily asked by a conservative as by a socialist for it  touches upon a central point of democratic political  morality, the custodianship of public property. The same ends  – the diminution of the state and the freeing of the public from seemingly perpetual losses – could have been achieved by  an equitable distribution of shares free of charge to the  general public. This would have had, from a Thatcherite standpoint, the additional benefit of greatly increasing share ownership. By selling that which the government did not  meaningfully own, she engaged in behaviour which if it had  been engaged in by any private individual or company would  have been described as fraud or theft.

The breaking of union power was overdone. As someone who is  old enough to remember the Wilson, Heath and Callaghan years,  I have no illusion of exactly how awful the unions were when they had real power. But her means of breaking their abusive  ways, particularly during the miners’ strike, were simply  inappropriate in a supposed democracy. Passing laws restricting picketing and making unions liable for material  losses suffered when they broke the rules were one thing: the  using of the police in an unambiguously authoritarian manner in circumstances of dubious legality such as the blanket  prevention of free movement of miners, quite another.

The Falklands War displays another side of her weakness in  matching actions to rhetoric. Admirable as the military action was, the terrible truth is that the war need never  have been fought if the government had taken their intelligence reports seriously and retained a naval presence  in the area. The lesson went unlearnt, for within a few years  of the recovery of the Falklands, her government massively  reduced defence expenditure.

But what of her clients, the Liberal Ascendency? Would they  not be dismayed by much of what she did? Well, by the time  Margaret Thatcher came to power liberals had really lost whatever interest they had ever had in state ownership or the  genuine improvement of the worker’s lot. What they really  cared about was promoting their internationalist vision and  doctrine of spurious natural rights. They had new clients;  the vast numbers of coloured immigrants and their children,  women, homosexuals, the disabled. In short, all those who were dysfunctional, or could be made to feel dysfunctional, in terms of British society. They had new areas of power and  distinction, social work, education, the civil service ,the  mass media to which they added, after securing the  ideological high ground, the ancient delights of politics.

Although the liberal left distrusted and hated Margaret  Thatcher (and did not understand at the time how effective  her commitment to free trade was in promoting  internationalism), they nonetheless had the belief throughout  her time in office that Britain’s involvement in the EU and  the Liberal Ascendency’s control of education, the media, the  civil service and bodies such as the Commission for Racial  Equality would thwart those of her plans which were most dangerous and obnoxious to the liberal.

Margaret Thatcher greatly added to this wall of opposition  by her choice of ministers. Think of her major cabinet  appointments. She ensured that the Foreign Office remained in the hands of men (Howe and Hurd) who were both ardent  Europhiles and willing tools of the FO Quisling culture, the  Chancellorship was entrusted to first Howe and then Lawson who was also firmly committed to Europe. The Home Office sat  in the laps of the social liberals Whitelaw, Hurd and Baker,  Education was given to Baker and Clarke. Those appointments  alone ensured that little would be done to attack the things  which liberals held sacred, for they were men who broadly  shared the liberal values and who were opposed to  Thatcherite policies other than those on the economy, which  of course was the one Thatcherite policy guaranteed to  assist liberal internationalism. By the end, she was so weak  that she was unable to prevent the effective sacking of a  favourite cabinet minister, Nicholas Ridley, by the German  Chancellor.

The constant cry of Margaret Thatcher after  she left office  is that she did not understand the consequences of her acts.  Of course she does not put it in that way, but that is what  it amounts to. She blames Brussels and the Foreign Office for  the unwelcome consequences of the Single European Act. She  readily admits that this minister or that in her government proved unreliable or treacherous, but does not conclude that  her judgement in choosing them was at fault. She blames the  Foreign Office for the Falklands War. But nowhere does she acknowledge her fault.

In her heart of hearts, has  the second longest serving and most  ideological prime minister in modern British history ever comprehended, however imperfectly, that she was a prime mover  in the Liberal Internationalist cause? I doubt it, because  self deception is at the heart of what makes a useful idiot.

1984 and the internationalist warmongers

In George Orwell’s great political novel 1984 the world is in a state of perpetual war between three political blocs:  Eurasia, Eastasia and Oceana.   It is never clear why the protagonists are at war with one another, a fact made even more opaque by the frequent changing  of  allies and enemies. One day Eurasia and Eastasia  may be allied  against Oceana, the next Eurasia and Oceana allied against East Asia.  The central character of the novel,  Winston Smith, spends much of his time at the Ministry of Truth re-writing history to keep up with the changes in allegiance.

Orwell’s dystopia has uncanny and disturbing similarities in  our world. Since the fall of the Soviet Union in the early nineties, the West – principally the US and Britain – has been engaged in in more or less perpetual war,  war which has in every case been initiated by the West.  Not only that,  but the wars have seen rapidly shifting alliances.  Until the so-called “Arab Spring” began six months ago,  the  prime tyrants of the Arab world – those of Egypt, Syria,  Saudi Arabia, the Yemen and Libya – were, for reasons of realpolitik,  the allies of the West.  Egypt received an annual stipend from the American taxpayers of billions of dollars;  Gaddafi, now the ultimate western pariah,  was brought back into the international fold in 2004 largely by the efforts of Tony Blair (  and  struck a deal whereby sanctions were lifted from Libya and Gaddafi abandoned his  weapons of mass destruction programme, including his attempts to get nuclear weapons,  the funding of terrorists and  stifled the flow of illegal north African  migrants into Europe.

Gaddafi kept his side of the bargain, but that counted for nothing when liberal internationalist politicians such as Cameron and Sarkozy got carried  away with the “Arab Spring” fantasy and imagined that Gaddafi would be brought down as readily as the ruler of Egypt, despite the fact that Libya was  a very different animal being a polity built on the personal rule of one man –  Egypt had a much broader civil and institutional structure including an army,  which was the power on which the tyrant rested, power which could be used to remove him when his use was ended.   In Libya, the army did not exist as such,  the armed forces being either militias or mercenary troops, both of   which were the personal fiefdoms of Gaddafi, his sons and a few trusted confidantes.

The appetite for war amongst the political classes in the USA and Britain was whetted by the first Gulf War in 1990 which resulted from Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait.  There were  good pragmatic reasons for  the West driving Saddam out of  Kuwait  because his control of Kuwait would have given him  vast new oil reserves to tap and potentially use to destabilise the Middle East.  The problem was that  the USA  was willing to drive him from Kuwait but wanted to leave him in power as a backstop against an Iran still in the throes of the Islamic revolution.  Most contemptibly, the first Bush administration gave the opponents of Saddam hope that if they rebelled the alliance against Saddam America  would support them, but then not only failed to provide the support but actively assisted Saddam in his terrible act of revenge against his opponents by allowing his helicopters into the air.   The consequence  has been the West  continuously involved in Iraq ever since, first with the original war, then with the no-fly zones and then with the new  invasion and occupation of 2003.  To that has been added the interminable war in Afghanistan – it cannot be dignified with the term occupation,  because  after eight years it cannot be claimed with a straight face that the area has been in any sense  pacified – and the latest and on-going military action in Libya.

After the first Gulf War  and the establishment of no-fly zones came  Western interference in  the war (or more correctly wars)  in the Balkans. This  followed the gradual dismemberment of  Yugoslavia following  Tito’s death in 1980, with the  final shackles against Western intervention in the Balkans  being removed with the collapse of the Soviet Union from 1989 onwards.   This was accompanied in  the 1990s by a few Western skirmishes in  Africa such as  the US’s attempt to arrest a warlord in Somalia in 1993 (the episode captured in the film Black Hawk Down) and Britain’s intervention in Sierra Leone (2000) after the UN had done their usual, gone in and proved utterly ineffectual.  All of this was done without explicitly denying the UN’s commitment to preserving the sovereignty of nation states.

In some cases Western military action could be readily justified within the UN Charter because one UN member had attacked another. That was the case in the first Gulf War.
However,  most of the interventions since 1990 have driven a coach and horses through the UN Charter as it concerns  sovereignty:

“Article 2

“The Organization and its Members, in pursuit of the Purposes stated in Article 1, shall act in accordance with the following Principles.

“The Organization is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members.

“All Members, in order to ensure to all of them the rights and benefits resulting from membership, shall fulfill in good faith the obligations assumed by them in accordance with the present Charter.

“All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered.

“All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.

“All Members shall give the United Nations every assistance in any action it takes in accordance with the present Charter, and shall refrain from giving assistance to any state against which the United Nations is taking preventive or enforcement action.

“The Organization shall ensure that states which are not Members of the United Nations act in accordance with these Principles so far as may be necessary for the maintenance of international peace and security.

“Nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state or shall require the Members to submit such matters to settlement under the present Charter; but this principle shall notprejudice the application of enforcement measures under Chapter Vll.”  (

This position was re-affirmed in a UN resolution in  1996: “ Recalling further the principle enshrined in Article 2, paragraph 7, of the Charter of the United Nations, which establishes that nothing contained in the Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any State or shall require the Members to submit such matters to settlement under the Charter…. (

Even in 2011  nothing has changed officially. The UN still supports national sovereignty in theory.  However, the organisation has in practice  regularly  adopted a policy of intervention in domestic national affairs, a change driven primarily by the commitment of US presidents (the two Bushs and Clinton) and British Prime Ministers  (Blair and Cameron) who represent the governments of two thirds  of the UN Security Council.  Once established,  the practice of intervention has become  increasingly difficult to veto  for even the US president  as Obama has discovered, not least because  the UN resolutions which supposedly legalise interventions are routinely  bent grotesquely. There is a prime example  in UN1973 which was designed purely to protect civilians within Libya by the use of air and  sea power and to facilitate humanitarian aid.  It explicitly reaffirms the importance of Libyan sovereignty with the clause :  “Reaffirming its strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and national unity of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya”  (  Despite the very limited objectives of the resolution, it has been used to justify the use of the air and sea power to
actively and deliberately support the Libyan rebels.  Effectively, the Nato  forces (which act as the UN’s forces in this conflict) have been the rebels’ army and navy. Not only that but  the rebels have been given intelligence, military advice  and logistical support by Nato and there may well have  special troops  such as the SAS on active service on the ground. (
This has been accompanied by Western  politicians such as Cameron, Obama and Sarkozy openly calling for the overthrow of Gaddafi.

It could be argued that the UN has entered new ground with resolution UN1973 by permitting action to be taken for the first time against a UN member where the member is offering no threat to another state. This is casuistry. It may be pedantically true,  but the determination of what is a sovereign state  is not always straightforward. The first major UN intervention – the Korean War – was in reality intervention in a civil war, albeit complicated by Chinese involvement.  When Yugoslavia began to fracture it was not clear where one nation state started and another ended.  In the case of Kosovo, which was still formally part of Serbia, the intervention was simply the UN backing the splitting of a national territory.

Nonetheless, on purely legal grounds the Libyan action  does mark a departure from what has gone before,  because the UN has explicitly sanctioned action within  a UN member state where the alleged misbehaviour is solely occurring. As we can see from the UN Charter as quoted above,  that goes directly against the UN Charter.  That makes resolution UN1973 illegal and the action resulting from it illegal. This is important because the  UN and its military surrogate NATO are claiming that they are only acting because UN1973 legalises their actions.
The whole affair shows what a  sham international law is generally and the contempt that the UN and its main players hold it in.

The explicit ideological change can be dated from with Tony Blair’s development of the “Blair Doctrine” . He unveiled this in 1999 in a speech to the Chicago Economic Club. In it Blair sought to lay down rules which would justify breaching national  sovereignty:

“The most pressing foreign policy problem we face is to identify the circumstances in which we should get actively involved in other people’s conflicts. Non-interference has long been considered an important principle of international order. And it is not one we would want to jettison too readily. One state should not feel it has the right to change the political system of another or forment subversion or seize pieces of territory to which it feels it should have some claim. But the principle of non-interference must be qualified in important respects. Acts of genocide can never be a purely internal matter. When oppression produces massive flows of refugees which unsettle neighbouring countries then they can properly be described as
“threats to international peace and security”. When regimes are based on minority rule they lose legitimacy – look at South Africa.

“Looking around the world there are many regimes that are undemocratic and engaged in barbarous acts. If we wanted to right every wrong that we see in the modern world then we would do little else than intervene in the affairs of other countries. We would not be able to cope. “So how do we decide when and whether to intervene. I think we need to bear in mind five major considerations

“First, are we sure of our case? War is an imperfect instrument for righting humanitarian distress; but armed force is sometimes the only means of dealing with dictators. Second, have we exhausted all diplomatic options? We should always give peace every chance, as we have in the case of Kosovo.

Third, on the basis of a practical assessment of the situation, are there military operations we can sensibly and prudently undertake?

Fourth, are we prepared for the long term? In the past we talked too much of exit strategies. But having made a commitment we cannot simply walk away once the fight is over; better to stay with moderate numbers of troops than return for repeat performances with large numbers. And finally, do we have national interests involved? The mass expulsion of ethnic Albanians from Kosovo demanded the notice of the rest of the world. But it does make a difference that this is taking place in such a combustible part of Europe.

“I am not suggesting that these are absolute tests. But they are the kind of issues we need to think about in deciding in the future whenand whether we will intervene. “(

Most of the countries which belong to the UN – which is the overwhelming majority of nation  states  –  are dictatorships, many of them tyrannies  of the most obnoxious type. If the same standards were applied to them as are being applied to Gaddafi they would all suffer the same fate. But of course that will not happen for reasons which are  practical, ideological or founded in realpolitik.     That being so, it is profoundly destabilising  to intervene here but not there and doubly so when an ally yesterday can become enemy number one the next day for no good reason of state. (Personally, I think that realpolitik should be avoided wherever possible because its stores up trouble for the future, but if it is to be used consistency is as necessary as it is in any human activity which reluies on trust.)

There are a number of serious dangers in this new  internationalist world. First, if national sovereignty is to be disregarded there are few nation states which would not potentially be at risk of suffering threats of military action or military action or lesser acts of aggression  such as blockades and sanctions.  It is important to understand that constricting a country’s sovereignty  consists of much more than invading it. It is using any threat to prevent a country acting within its own borders as it deems fit.  This is already widespread through the vast library of international treaties which now exist. These undermine democracy fundamentally,  because the treaties are mostly open ended and national politicians are all too ready to use the treaty restrictions as an excuse for not acting in the national interest. The emasculation of  the British Parliament through the EU treaties is a first rate example of the extent to which sovereignty can be eroded  piecemeal.

Because treaties are generally not time limited or,  in the case of organisations such as the EU, there is no ready way of legally exiting from them, it is all too probable that the Blair Doctrine will get wider and wider application in the cause of holding nations to treaties. This will not only be via the UN,  but through other supra-national  bodies such as the EU. There is no potential end to the mischief that the Blair Doctrine could make,  for a regime need not be inherently vile to have it applied. There  may simply be a civil war  and atrocities are  committed as they almost always are in war. Using the Blair Doctrine , the UN could sanction military action in any arena of civil strife. The doctrine  also provides a specious but ostensible legal basis for the emerging great powers of the east, Indian and China, to intervene where they choose.  They may in time decide to intervene to the disadvantage of the West.

At best the Blair Doctrine will mean, as with international law generally, the powerful doing as they choose and the weaker being punished by the powerful when  it suits the powerful or protected from punishment by the powerful when it suits their purpose.  In truth, international law is no law at all,  because  only where all parties in a jurisdiction are equal before the law does a meaningful legal system exist.  The argument put forward by Blair that  if everything  cannot  be done it does not mean nothing  should be done,  falls for that reason for it becomes no more than politicians picking and choosing on political rather than legal grounds to act or not act.  It is equivalent to saying in the national context we will prosecute that poor man for murder,  but not this man because he is rich and powerful.

If national sovereignty is to be protected it means tolerating what we in the West would consider vile regimes.  A hard thing to say  you may think,  but consider what happens when dictatorships fall; often what follows is worse than the dictatorship. That is what happened in every Western aggressive war since 1990. As dictatorships must and will be tolerated it is it is pointless to, for example, complain that Gaddafi is using force against civilians because that is obviously what he needs to do from his point of view.   In addition, every democratically elected government owes its first allegience to the people it serves.   To risk the money and lives of its people to aid foreigners  when no national interest is at stake is  at best unconscionable. Often it will prove to be absolutely against the interests of the country. The uncritical support for the “Arab Spring”  and active intervention in Libya may be repaid with the spread of Islamic governments hostile to the West through  north Africa and the Middle East.

National sovereignty is a prize worth fighting for.  Only in the national state can any meaningful democratic control be exerted. The  Blair Doctrine is part of the liberal internationalist agenda, something he ranged over widely in his 1999 speech which I  cited above.   The effect of  internationalism is to politically  infantilise populations because they no longer have control over the general shape of their society.

Ironically, the imposition or attempted imposition  of the internationalist agenda will not advance the  ideals which liberals claim to value. Rather, the result of their application will be more or less continual war  with consequences not only for the countries unfortunate to be the subject of UN warmaking,  but also for those which are not.  It is noteworthy that since the modern internationalist warmongers got the bit between their teeth, the liberty of Western states has been much reduced,  primarily because all  the states attacked since 2001 have been majority Muslim countries and Islamic  terrorism is the  feared  terror of the  moment, not least because of that other strand of internationalism, the free  movement of peoples. This has put large Muslim populations into most Western  countries and they provide the basis for Islamic terrorism within the states  which are coming up with the military muscle to attack Muslim states.  However, there are also large immigrant  populations of many different origins in the West and  virtually anywhere the West intervened could result  in a similar situation to that which now exists with Muslims.

There are  also the  wishes of Western populations to consider. In Britain there has been a  persistent widespread opposition to military intervention by Britain. Millions  have marched against such interventions.  British politicians since  1997  have simply ignored the feeling in the country as they posture happily on the  world stage, polishing their liberal internationalist credentials , behaviour made all the more  disgusting  because neither they nor  anyone they care about is ever going to be doing the fighting or find  themselves suffering financially because the money  lavished on these vanity wars  mean that public services have been cut  or  a  job lost  because it can no longer be  funded.   The British public has nowhere else to  go politically because all the major parties support the wars.   Where  such important matters  are  decided by a political class who are  hopelessly out of touch with the public, that inevitably  brings a political system into general contempt.

Do people like Cameron and Sarkozy  believe in their internationalist creed? It is a moot point.  I was originally going to call this article “1984 and the liberal internationalist warmongers”. Then I reflected upon how there really is no “right or Left” in this.  The younger Bush was ostensibly a man of the Right and Tony Blair a man of the Left. Yet both subscribed to the same globalist message, a toxic mixture of market economics,  political correctness and , whether they embraced the idea willing or not,  the destruction of the nation state.  Worse, the globalist ideology does not seem to have any clear sense of aiming for a general end which involves people generally.   Globalists  seem , like the Party in 1984, to be concerned only with exercising power, to be bereft of any real ideological centre. They talk the politically correct internationalist talk but fail to walk the politically correct walk.  People like Cameron constantly praise the joy of diversity while living their lives in very white worlds; send their children to schools where black and brown faces are rare and more often than not enjoy the simplicity of life which inherited wealth brings.   Their protected, cossetted lives mean that they can engage in their warmongering  without any risk to themselves or their families. All they really care about is their own privilege and power.

Will this  madness continue? It would be a  relief to think it will  not,  but the war in Libya  dispels the idea that the political classes  have learnt their lesson from the disasters of Iraq and Afghanistan.   The one-time British Foreign secretary  David Owen  has already climbed onto what will probably be an ever more crowded internationalist bandwagon seeing the Libyan enterprise as  the template for more UN interventions:

“During the darkest moments of Nato’s campaign in Libya, it was suggested that its sluggish progress represented the death knell for the doctrine of humanitarian intervention – that a West chastened by its experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan and enfeebled by debt lacked the money, the morale and the military resources to take action against those who broke international law. Now that the rebels have swept into Tripoli, the opposite argument is being made – that their success represents a vindication of the
Nato strategy, and provides a template for the toppling of despots in Syria and elsewhere.

“The truth, however, is that Libya is not a successor to Kosovo or Sierra Leone. Instead, it is the prototype for a new kind of intervention, one that reflects the very different world that we find ourselves in today. “

The cost of such interventions and  the ongoing economic crisis which shows no sign of abating  may clip the internationalist warmongers wings for the foreseeable  future.  Longer term it could be that the  growing strength of China and her immense ambitions in the Third World – she is  already massively involved  – may prove  to be a more potent brake on such aventures  if to act on the Blair  Doctrine  would bring the  those putting it into  action into conflict with Chinese interests.  China may also become much more willing to use her UN veto to prevent  actions such as those in Libya.  The same  may apply to India as she grows stronger and possibly other powers such as  Indonesia.  There are already signs that this is beginning to happen with China protesting about the Libyan rebels’ promise  to punish her by threatening Chinese oil  interests in Libya because China had not wholeheartedly supported UN  intervention in the conflict (

How to tackle the politically correct

Political correctness meets the criteria for a  totalitarian ideology.  Its tenets of “discrimination” and “equality” mean that it can invade every aspect of life  and its adherents claim that the only permissible opinion is the politically correct one.   This creates great advantages for those opposed to political correctness  who are not themselves the prisoners of an ideology because it leaves  the politically correct   The  attraction of political correctness is that it purports to  provide a universal guide to living and offers the assurance of moral superiority.  Those two qualities – alleged universality of explanation and moral superiority –  provide an excuse for both abdicating intellectual autonomy and for enforcing the  tenets of the ideology on

The abdication of intellectual autonomy means that the adherent no longer addresses reality. Their  intellect is turned not to living  life pragmatically,  but to fitting reality into the ideology. As all ideologies are inadequate guides to reality,  this means the adherent is  driven to irrationality if they wish to maintain their belief.

A successful ideology such as political correctness will attract many people who  lack either the intelligence or the intellectual initiative to master the ideology. They  will be content to have a series of ready-made mantras to chant when they have to make a show of promoting their faith.  That means they are incapable of any meaningful debate in defence of their beliefs.  When placed in a position where they are expected to debate the best they can do is chant their mantras .

The more intelligent or intellectually inclined believers will Glad the story amused people. It has its funny side,  but the fact that it did not result in the usual pc-driven hue and cry carries a serious general message, namely, that the politically correct only succeed because people play the game by their rules,  which means making Maoist-style apologies and accepting the veracity of the ideology.

I discovered long ago that latterday liberals will wilt if faced with people who refuse to play their game. Just stand up and say equality is meaningless except in limited contexts such as the law and  discrimination is the natural order of things because no organism let alone a man can survive without discriminating dozens of times a day (normal people call it making choices) and you will find the politically correct cannot handle the resistance.

Here is a  link to an  article I wrote for Right Now! some years ago on the character of modern liberals, who are not liberal but the most fearful bigots. Hence, the title.


Meditation without metaphysics

There are various forms of meditation, but they share one thing: an  admixture of pseudo-science and religion with practical exercises. This puts off  many people.  Indeed, I have myself been greatly irritated by such metaphysical claims. Consequently, the reader may rest confident that what follows is purely a set of exercises without any pretence at an explanation of how they achieve a change in mental state. (I do, however, offer a few possible physical reasons at the end of the article).  The are a mixture of several forms of meditation which I have used over the years.

The silent mantra

Choose a two syllable sound, for example DAREEM. It should be meaningless because the spoken mantra should ideally not be heard by the meditator after the introductory exercise. The selection of a meaningful word, however obscure, carries with it the possibility of vocalisation within the meditator’s hearing. A meaningless sound does not.

The reason why the mantra must not be heard externally by the meditator is unknown. You may test the claim by saying the mantra out loud after two weeks of meditation. Afterwards you will discover that your meditational state will roughly resemble that at the start of your meditational practice. Even after years of meditating the reversing effect of a mantra spoken out loud is not wholly lost.

However, hearing a mantra spoken out loud does not mean that you are back to square one. A few days meditating will restore you to the meditational state you had achieved before hearing the spoken mantra.

The introductory exercise

The exercise should last fifteen minutes.

Adopt a relaxed sitting position. Close your eyes. Sit quietly for two minutes. Begin by chanting your chosen mantra out loud in a normal tone of voice.

Over a period of five minutes, gradually reduce the volume until you are mouthing the mantra almost inaudibly. At that point stop mouthing the mantra and begin to repeat it in your head. Continue this for ten minutes.#

At the end of ten minutes sit quietly for two minutes with your eyes still closed. After two minutes open your eyes very slowly.

The introductory exercise is best undertaken with the aid of a friend who should quietly tell the meditator when to (1) begin the vocalised mantra, (2) begin the mental mantra, (3) cease the mental mantra (4) end the exercise. The friend should also try to ensure that the reduction in volume of the vocalised mantra is reasonably steady by gently prompting the meditator to alter the volume if he or she seems to be going too quickly or too slowly towards silence.

If a friend cannot be found to perform the task, make a tape recording of the instructions (1-4). Monitoring of the volume of the vocalised mantra in such circumstances is obviously impossible. Therefore, insert into the tape an instruction which tells you that only a minute of the vocalisation is left, that is, after four minutes of the vocalisation.

Normal meditation

To be effective the meditation must be frequent and regular but the extent of each meditation and its position in the day may vary. I normally meditate for twenty minutes twice a day, in the early morning and early evening. Daily meditation may not be absolutely necessary for the very experienced meditator with years of experience – although I recommend it – but it is a must for beginners.

Meditation should always be conducted with the eyes closed and, if possible, in a sitting position. If for any reason this is impossible, perform the meditation lying on your back.

Judge time by mentally estimating it. (This is easier than you might think. After a little while you will be able to judge time surprisingly exactly. Simply tell yourself that you wish to meditate for a certain time rather in the fashion of giving yourself an instruction before sleeping to wake at a particular time).

If in the beginning you find that you misjudge the time, do not worry. Just open your eyes when it feels that you have meditated long enough. If you have grossly overestimated the time spent on meditation – suppose you open your eyes after only ten minutes of a twenty minute meditation – close the eyes again and resume the meditation. Do not worry if you exceed the proposed meditation time.

2. The meditation

Begin each meditation by sitting with closed eyes for two minutes. During this time do not use the mantra and try to physically relax and clear the mind of thought.

After two minutes begin to repeat the mantra silently. Do not try to concentrate intently on the mantra. Rather, the intention should be to attain a state whereby the mantra is produced almost unthinkingly in the same way that manual tasks such as knitting become virtually automatic. At first you will be somewhat self-conscious, but as you develop your experience the mantra will seem to become, in a curious way, both more silent yet more dominant. After a few months of daily meditation the mantra will seem like a wave lapping gently but firmly in your head.

As you use the mantra your meditational state will alter. You may develop a chain of thoughts, often in the form of free association. Do not attempt to restart the mantra while the thoughts continue. Alternatively the mantra may lead you to a state in which you are not conscious of yourself. You will know that this has happened when you suddenly become self-aware again and realise that time has passed for which you cannot account. This unaware, unselfconscious state will be achieved more and more often the further down the meditational road you travel. After five years of meditation I feel as though I am permanently in a low grade meditational state. Do not worry for this does not mean that you will spend your days as a zombie if you attain such a state, merely that the external world will seem less immediate and intense and, consequently, more manageable.

Sometimes, particularly when you are just beginning your meditational career, the use of the mantra will result in neither a chain of thoughts nor the loss of self-awareness and may produce tension, even distinct pains about the head and face. If this happens cease the mantra and sit quietly until the discomfort is removed. Do not open your eyes . When the discomfort ends, restart the mantra. If you strike a meditation where this happens repeatedly, cease the meditation after two or thee attempts to use the mantra.

3. Ending the meditation

Sit quietly for two minutes will your eyes still closed. Then open the eyes extremely slowly taking approximately thirty seconds.

4. Interruptions

Obviously try to ensure that you are not interrupted but if you are, take thirty seconds preparation with you eyes closed – as with the normal meditational ending – before you attempt to open your eyes.

Problems for beginners

The temptation for beginners is always to strive too hard. The success of this meditational technique depends on doing the exact opposite. Always remember that you are not in a competitive situation and that you do not need to work hard in the normal sense to get the best out of your mediation.

The other difficulty you may encounter are pains – outside the meditation time – about the body, particularly the face, head and neck. I experienced quite dramatic facial pains when I began meditating. However, these will diminish rapidly and should have vanished completely after three or four weeks. So perseverance is the name of the game.

Possible physical reasons for meditational effects

I can suggest three possibilities, all completely unverified, which may either cause the loss of the normally dominant cognitive function (commonly thought of as consciousness) or enhance normally subordinate cognitive functions to the detriment of the normally dominant cognitive function:

1. The meditation affects the blood flow to the brain

2. The meditation alters the hormonal balance

3. The meditation produces a direct effect on the brain by flooding it with a single piece of information, the mantra.

Personally, I favour number 3.

Libertarianism, immigration, race, cultural roots and collective identity

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 where 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.

A strong  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.

Means subverting ends – The fatal flaw at the heart of libertarianism

Ends not means

A political philosophy should be about ends not means because there is never a single certain way by which a political end can be achieved and the interpretation of what constitutes the attainment of an end is subjective. Moreover, the prescription of means may subvert the desired ends, the most common example being the corrupting nature of violence used to gain that which is morally desirable.

Where a political philosophy hardens into an ideology (a menu of ideas which supposedly acts as a sociological algorithm to answer all political questions), the individual who accepts it unconditionally has given up his or her personal autonomy and has moved from rationality into the realm of religious belief. This is pernicious because all ideologies are inadequate descriptions of reality at best and contain internal contradictions at worst. These deficiencies mean that any attempt to rigorously apply the tenets of an ideology leads to outcomes which are damaging because they conflict with reality. Sadly, many libertarians have crossed the line between philosophy and ideology.

An example of rigidly inappropriate adherence to ideology is the distinction being made between depositors and shareholders in the present banking crisis. The argument that shareholders by definition take a risk while depositors do not looks attractive at first glance but has no logical substance. Any arrangement an individual or corporate body makes with a private company other than a bank has exactly the same status as the relationship between a bank and a depositor. For example, if I put down a deposit on a fitted bathroom and the company liquidates before I receive the goods I have almost certainly lost my deposit. That is exactly the same situation as a depositor who has placed their money in a bank which then finds itself insolvent. The depositor has provided the bank with his or her money to purchase banking facilities and possibly interest on the money deposited.

A rigid follower of laissez faire would say let the depositors lose their deposits, arguing caveat emptor and suggesting that depositors had only themselves to blame if they failed to take out insurance to guarantee their deposits. This is correct in logic if you accept the premise that what primarily matters is maintaining the principle of personal responsibility, a “let justice be done although the Heavens fall” approach. If it was their own savings at risk, the odds are that no libertarian would be arguing that the depositors should be left to stew in their own responsibility. Moral: don’t subscribe to a philosophy which is too demanding.

The sane and practical way for libertarians to proceed is to identify their general ends and then look at what type of society will bring them closest to those ends. This assessment should into account human psychology and sociology, for any system of thought which is incompatible with human nature or its sociological expression is at best futile and at worst destructive. Because of the emphasis on personal freedom and responsibility, the danger for any libertarian is that they concentrate so much on the individual that they recklessly neglect the fact that Man is a social animal. Where that happens, their vision of what a libertarian society should be becomes utopian and consequently unobtainable.

There is plentiful evidence that the extent to which human beings will behave badly or well is to a large extent determined by their circumstances. As a general rule those with power, wealth and influence will behave with less restraint than those who lack such advantages. The reason for this is easy to see: power, wealth and influence remove the social restraints which keep most people within the bounds of reasonable behaviour. The powerful tend to believe they are beyond criticism or punishment; and think they do not need the voluntary help of others because they can purchase what assistance they require, while those without power fear retribution,, for bad behaviour and recognise that they need the voluntary assistance of others. The lesson for libertarians is that their philosophy must be designed to create a society which produces not complete equality of circumstances for all its members but enough similarity between each to prevent significant abuses of power.

What are the general ends of libertarianism?

All libertarians support the idea of laissez faire (generally, not only in economics), although they vary considerably in the role they allow the state, They are united in their desire to see as much as possible of social interaction left to voluntary agreement between individuals,. They wish, if they wish for a state at all, for it to be the absolute minimum required to provide the necessary framework around which society can coherently form and survive. They are strongly opposed to the state intervening in the decisions the individual makes which are private to
themselves.. They wish to see human beings living lives in which the individual takes, as far as is possible, responsibility for his or her life and for any dependants. They expect to provide voluntary aid to those in need.

Perhaps most importantly libertarians give a central place to the notion of property, a word which in libertarian thought has a connotation which extends far beyond its commonplace meaning of the ownership of physical objects to such things as a man’s labour and his very body.

Varieties of libertarianism

The most unblemished libertarians favour a world in which each individual provides for and protects his own family and property, a world in which voluntary aid from relations and friends are the bulwarks against misfortune or incapacity, a world in which everything, including the right to property, is governed by personal relationships and behaviour is moderated not by laws or official force but the moral context in which people live, with good and bad behaviour being rewarded and punished by the informal responses of others.

Most of those who call themselves libertarian would subscribe to something a little less demanding of the individual. They want a world in which the state interferes with their lives as little as they deem practicable while providing a secure social structure comprised of defence, diplomacy, justice and policing to protect both their persons and their property. Some libertarians such as Hayek would go beyond the routine minimalist state and allow a basic welfare state.

The problem for libertarians, whether they be those who want no state or those such as Hayek who would allow quite a large role for the state, is that there is no instance in human history of a single community which has corresponded to any of the envisioned societies or even come close to it.

Where there is no formal authority the societies which result invariably lack the qualities which allow libertarian ends to be attained: property is not respected, there is no system of law to which individuals can appeal, the strong dominate the weak simply by their power. No state has ever concentrated solely on those items which are considered to constitute the minimalist state. Even the enhanced minimalist state of Hayek has never been realised, although it is comes closer to reality than the others. Societies which has never existed may reasonably be
assumed to be incompatible with being human. Libertarians need to accept that fact and ask what else is needed to produce the ends they seek.

What is missing from most libertarian thought is an understanding of the need for positive as well as negative freedom. Most human beings are not and never will be thorough going libertarians even in theory. That being so, libertarians need to re-configure their philosophy to aim for a society in which those libertarian ends which are most widely shared throughout society are best achieved. The ends which are most widely consciously shared, are those which relate to the state not intervening in private lives in matters such as raising children. .
In addition, libertarians need to understand that the intervention by the state to create material conditions which produces a rough equality of power and opportunity between individuals promotes the ability of all to take responsibility for their own lives.

The money problem

Money is the elephant in the minimalist state room. This is unsurprising because it presents a tremendous problem for all libertarians except those who would be satisfied with a society based on barter for if the state controls the money supply it has immense power., Hence, libertarians prefer not to mention it if they can possibly help it. But it cannot be ignored because it is the oil which drives the entire economy. If a currency fails general economic disaster ensues in an advanced economy. It is not just another commodity.

The record of state control of money (state being defined as a central controlling power) is not encouraging, history telling us that it has commonly resulted in the debauching of currencies through the diluting of precious metal content or by recklessly printing money and expanding credit in the case of a fiduciary currency.

That might seem an excellent reason for not trusting the state with administration of the currency and leaving the matter to private initiatives. The problem is that experience says that private initiatives to produce and maintain fiduciary currencies are vastly riskier, the record of private banks failing being legion. The current credit crisis is a prime example of the dangers. Governments in Britain and elsewhere have allowed banks to expand the money supply vastly through promiscuously granting with the consequence that is now upon us, a freezing of credit to the point where most, probably all, British banks are in reality insolvent, their insolvency only being hidden by the lines of credit and guarantees offered by the British government.

By allowing private institutions to inflate the money supply governments to their hearts’ content , governments have effectively privatised monetary policy. When currencies were based on precious metals monarchs and states debased the currency: now it is the financial institutions which achieve the same effect. An analogy would be with a government with a currency based on gold minting coins of a standard gold content whilst allowing private mints to produce coins with whatever gold content they chose.

Some libertarians hanker after a return to a currency based on a precious metal such as gold. This would be completely impractical in the modern world, not least because the amount of gold available is merely a tiny fraction of that which would be needed to be held to make the currency fully convertible as it was before the Great War.

The dominance of economics

Much of the difficulty with libertarian thought lies in the central position given to laissez faire economics., a system of thought which is intellectually incoherent and impossible to defend at any level other than that of emotional exhortation and has consequences which lead to non-libertarian ends.

A truly free market by definition must be one in which no artificial restrictions exist. Yet the so-called free markets we have rely on the most fundamental restriction of all, state-regulation to prevent the natural workings of a market.

How unnatural the idea of a “free” market as (defined by laissez faire economics) is can be seen by the complete absence of such markets throughout history. Economic history is a record of men attempting to reduce competition.

But the intellectual incoherence is not the main problem with laissez faire. The major  problems lie in its practical effects. These are to create greater wealth divides and produce regular bouts of serious economic instability. This has been true since its first real trial in Britain from the 1840s onwards (Trollope’s great political novel The Way We Live Now was an early critique of its effects), the bank crises of the 1890s, the banking crisis of 1907, the Wall Street Crash and Great Depression and currently the credit crisis the world is presently undergoing. These crises have all occurred during periods when laissez faire has been the dominant economic credo of the most powerful economies in the world.

Contrariwise, the period from 1931(when Britain came off the Gold Standard) and 1979 saw state intervention in the economy and protectionism re-established. During that time no major banking crises occurred. There were of course other financial problems, most notably the defence of the pound and a period of high inflation in the 1970s, , but the period overall was remarkably stable and there was nothing as dangerous as the present situation. Draw your own conclusions.

Plutocracy and the quasi-state

The central position given to property by libertarians , including the unfettered right to inherit, subverts the ends of libertarianism. Even in a society which starts out with a large degree of democratic control, the inevitable outcome of unhindered passing down of wealth through the generations is the rapid formation of a plutocracy. Such a society is a form of  authoritarianism, and arguably the most potent form of authoritarianism because it is not the direct and overt consequence of an elite which has seized power at a given point and
wielded it unashamedly for its own advantage. Rather, it is a social state which develops organically and is all the stronger for that.

There is no obvious villain for the have-nots to attack for there is no monarch, no party, no dictator to direct anger at, merely a group of the privileged who colonise and control the political system, reducing the democratic process to an pantomime of elective oligarchy in which parts of the elite compete for formal power.

A plutocracy also passes its power and privilege down the generations through inheritance, the importance being in the inheriting as a class rather than as an individual.  This avoids the habitual cause of failure amongst authoritarian regimes, the problem of succession.

Once a plutocracy is established , the state becomes less important because the elite have power which is not solely dependent on the formal positions of power as it is in states such as the Soviet Union. The elite’s power ultimately flows from the wealth they command, which allows them to effectively buy the command of society, both formally and in their relations with other individuals.

Wealth, as my old history master never tired of saying, is power. The consequence is that substantial differences in wealth mean that those without wealth are left in a grossly subordinate situation which undermines their ability to attain libertarian ends. Inherited wealth reinforces and amplifies these power relationships and very rapidly produces a plutocracy. a social state utterly at odds with the ends of libertarianism.

How to judge an ideology

A good way of testing the moral nature of an ideology is to ask what would be an honest election manifesto for a party adopting it. In the case of most libertarians it would be this: We shall pursue a policy which will make around a third of the population richer, leave a third of the population as they are and make a third poorer. There will be great differences in wealth which will increase with every generation. Wealth being power, this will mean those born to wealth and high social position will be able to exercise authority over those who are significantly poorer than themselves. Those who through incapacity or misfortune cannot support themselves will have to rely on the charity of others to survive at worst or on a meagre subsistence at best.  Society will not be a race in which everyone starts at the same point but a handicap gallop with the handicaps being decided not by Nature but by man made laws and customs. Would any libertarian be comfortable standing on such a political platform?

Libertarians also need to ask themselves whether they want the world reduced to the banality of a system of economic relationships, ironically exactly what Marxists do, That is the danger with making a god out of property and laissez faire economics.

It is a singular fact that I have never come across anyone who was poor, either through knowing them personally or through their writings , who was a libertarian or even just a supporter of laissez faire economics. That tells its own story. Only those who feel themselves beyond the reach of poverty or unemployment are comfortable with the idea that everything will work out in the end for the best aggregate result.

Voluntary action is simply too unreliable an engine to drive and maintain a society. For example, to argue that private charity will make good that which is provided by the welfare state is simply to go against all historical experience. There has never been a society in which private charity ever came close to meeting the needs of the incapable or the misfortunate. America in the Great Depression is a classic example of what happens. Until then the USA had been a society in which welfare even art the local or state level was very limited.

If libertarianism is to be more than simply an ideology for the haves, whether through their own efforts, luck or the accident of birth, then it must take into account the way societies actually work and cater for the wide range of ability, personality and personal circumstances which always occur. That can only be done if the positive freedom side of the liberty equation is given equal weight to that of the negative freedom side.

An ideology which unwittingly subverts its ends is worse than useless; it is absurd. That is what the libertarian thought does all too often through its emphasis on the individual to the exclusion of the social nature of human beings.

Free expression or permitted opinion: that is the choice

Robert Henderson

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

Milton’s words perhaps contain more significance than he realised, for a society only becomes  wholeheartedly tyrannical when censorship allows no effective opposition. To take a most dramatic instance, if the Nazis had been forced by frequently expressed contrary public opinion to explain their policy of genocide to the German people, it is highly improbable that the whole grisly business would have been mooted, for we know that even without any serious public opposition the Nazis went to considerable lengths, in the midst of a most tremendous war, to persuade the mass of Germans that Jews were simply being resettled or, at worst, used as forced labour.

Without free expression, democracy cannot function because the whole purpose of democracy is to allow any view to be put forward for public acceptance or rejection.

But although free expression is a golden prize, it is also one of the hardest things for men (of all political stamps) to practise, there being the most magnetic temptation for anyone to engage in the self-serving delusion that the suppression of contrary opinion is not an abrogation of free expression but the legitimate exclusion of dangerous ideas. Milton himself fell prey to this temptation once his political “side” gained the ascendancy during the Commonwealth and Protectorate.

The idea that free expression can exist whilst restrictions on what may be said are in force is a literal nonsense because free expression is indivisible. Its essence is that it is not a negotiable quality; you either have it or a range of permitted opinion which may be altered at any point by the ruling elite, the mass media, unelected pressure groups, terrorists and the Mob.

Britain a free country?

It is often claimed – perhaps never more frequently than at present by our political elite – that Britain is a free country where a man may say what he wants. This has always been less than the truth and the limits of free expression are growing ever narrower both through pernicious effect of political correctness which insists, like all totalitarian creeds, that the only permissible view is that of political correctness, and the ever expanding legal limitations through legislation and the judgements of judges especially in privacy cases.

A surprising number of laws restricting free speech now exist in Britain. It is presently circumscribed by the laws relating to libel, slander, confidence, blasphemy, obscenity, official secrets, equal opportunities and race/ethnic relations. Government departments and agencies, local municipalities, private corporate bodies and private citizens may also obtain injunctions to prevent both the expression of views and physical demonstrations. In addition, the police have practically unlimited powers to prevent a man speaking if it is judged that the words uttered are ‘likely to cause a breach of the peace’ and may limit public demonstrations almost at will.

There are laws which are not immediately obvious to the public as being restricted of free expression. The Race Relations Amendment Act (2000)  forces all taxpayer funded bodies to prove they are not engaged in discrimination even unwittingly. The Prevention of Harassment Act (1997) makes contact with someone potentially illegal if they do it more than once after someone has said they do not want contact with you (this covers disputes with companies and officialdom as well as individuals). The Public Order Act (1986) reiterates and strengthens the provisions against inciting racial hatred in the Race Relations Act (1976, but also has a broad definition of harassment in a public place:

“5 Harassment, alarm or distress.

(1)A person is guilty of an offence if he—.

(a)uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour,

(b)displays any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting…” (

The there is the Malicious Communications Act (1988. This deals with any communication by post, phone or other electronic media:

“1 Offence of sending letters etc. with intent to cause distress or anxiety..

(1)Any person who sends to another person—.

(a)a [F1letter, electronic communication or article of any description] which conveys—.

(i)a message which is indecent or grossly offensive;.

(ii)a threat; or.

(iii)information which is false and known or believed to be false by the sender; or.

(b)any [F2article or electronic communication] which is, in whole or part, of an indecent or grossly offensive nature,is guilty of an offence if his purpose, or one of his purposes, in sending it is that it should, so far as falling within paragraph (a) or (b) above, cause distress or anxiety to the recipient or to any other person to whom he intends that it or its contents or nature should be communicated.” (

The other Acts which indirectly restrict free expression because they provide for  increased police powers of arrest and powers of search. These are:

Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984

Criminal Justice Act 1987

Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994

The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000

Terrorism Act 2000

The Police Reform Act 2002

Serious and Organised Crime Act 2005

The full text of these Acts can be found at Just put the title of the Act you want into the search facility.

To these legal barriers must be added the voluntary code of practice which is policed by the Press Complaints Commission. This contains such widely drawn and imprecise restrictions as:

“The Press should avoid prejudicial or pejorative references to a person’s race, colour, religion, sex or sexual orientation or to any physical or mental illness or handicap.”


“It should avoid publishing details of a person’s race, colour, religion, sex or sexual orientation, unless these are directly relevant to the story.”

Nor is free expression guaranteed more securely by international treaty. The 1951 European Convention on Human Rights states in Article 10 (now incorporated directly into English law in the Human Rights Act) that:

“Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall  include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers….

All fine and dandy. But this is followed by:

The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals [my emphasis], for the protection of the reputation of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.”

Which caveats allow the  state to do virtually anything by way of censorship.

The Human Rights Act (HRA) has also had a directly pernicious effect on free expression because clause 8 which runs:

“Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.

“There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.”

This has been used by British judges to create extremely powerful restraints dubbed “super injunctions” which outdo Kafka by making it a contempt of court to reveal the existence of
the injunction. Amidst a raft of footballers, TV presenters and actors, there are those who have or have had a serious public role, for example, Sir Fred Goodwin who was chief executive while the good ship Royal Bank of Scotland crashed into the financial rocks ( and the BBC’s political editor Andrew Marr (

Goodwin had an affair with a subordinate at RBS who was twice promoted after the affair began; Marr laid himself open to a charge of gross hypocrisy on two counts: he spends his working life quizzing politicians and other public figures about their private lives and misdemeanours and the fact that he is a journalist means he who should defend free expression not engage in censorship.

Such injunctions are obnoxious both because of the censorship and because they are only available, as with libel and slander actions, to the rich. Happily their potential for mischief has been much reduced by the impossibility of preventing the information protected by the injunctions being put on the web in one way or another – Twitter was the main agency used in recent months. However, there will be injunctions whose details are known only to a few which will never appear in public because those who know either have vested interest in keeping
quiet or do so out of fear.

The Coalition Government has been making noises about passing a privacy law ( That could be worse than the present situation. The ideal answer is to have a written constitution with a guarantee of free expression, but the repeal of the HRA for this and other reasons would be a powerful blow against the judges’ power to create and expand a privacy law, which is what they have been doing over the past decade.

Below the super-injunctions come ordinary injunctions and under them the use of confidentiality clauses in contracts and agreements to settle disputes between two or more parties. Confidentiality clauses keep a great deal of important information of genuine public interest from the public. Take the case of Andrea Hill, the chief executive of Suffolk County Council. She has sanctioned “payouts for 13 employees which cost the authority £405,665.90” with confidentiality clauses allegedly to keep silent employees with complaints about the council. ( Such clauses may hide more matters of public interest than super-injunctions.

The restraints of custom and ideology

But perhaps more potent than formal laws and treaties – for they are unlimited and cannot be challenged in the courts – are the restraints imposed by custom and ideology.

Although we have never had freedom of expression, for most of the past century and a half the range of permitted opinion has been broad and the restrictions on what might be said  have had more of a social content than a political one. Fifty years ago bad language and mention of matters such as illegitimacy and homosexuality were considered to be impolite, but the idea that whole areas of political discourse should be ruled out of public discussion was alien to the British.

In the past half century the range of what is not acceptable in “polite” company has shifted very much to the political. Gradually what has become known as political correctness has restricted public discourse on a large swathe of centrally important political questions to very narrow limits. Most particularly, anyone in public life or in the public eye, knows that it is death to their careers if not worse, to fail to pay at least lip service to the credo of the unholy trinity of political correctness: race, gay rights and sexual equality. To this “Trinity” may be
added the more minor non-PC sins such as not being “green”, opposing any attempt to make society “safer” by passing laws which are sinister in their effects and generally unenforceable, or the advocacy of any idea which is not ostensibly directed towards the end of an undefined general equality.

But it is not only those that have a degree of celebrity or enhanced status within the public realm who need fear. Political correctness is by its nature totalitarian – the only acceptable view on any pc subject being the pc one – and all must heed its demands. Hence, all public employees, no matter how humble, must not only endure the humiliation of race awareness courses and sexual equality seminars, but live in fear of demotion at best and dismissal at worst if they are deemed to have shown non-pc behaviour or displayed non-pc thoughts. What applies to public service is mimicked increasingly by private businesses, especially the larger ones.

It is not that a person need be racist, homophobic or misogynist in any meaningful sense known to past generations to incur the wrath of the pc police. The politically correct have reduced the definition of what it is to be racist, homophobic and misogynist to such a narrow condition that any human being is in danger of falling foul of those who would cry bigot in the enthusiastic manner of the competing sides in the Reformation who cried heretic. Express a preference for one culture or nation over another and the speaker is racist. Let a pub landlord dare to mention that he prefers to employ good-looking girls as barmaids, and he is sexist. Mention that the legal approval of sexual acts by Gays in public lavatories might not be in the public interest and wait to be called homophobic.

Ironically, many members of the “protected” groups see that such behaviour is not to their advantage because it is both unreasonable in itself and likely to inflame prejudice against them. However, they have great difficulty in speaking out because not only do they face the usual abuse directed at anyone who stands against political correctness, but also attack from the most fanatical of activists from within their own minority group for being in effect Uncle Toms.

Revolutions notoriously devour their own. Just as the religious in the time of the Reformation had to go to ever greater extremes to prove their orthodoxy, so do the practitioners of political correctness become ever more extreme, some from a desire to be the most advanced and others from a fear of having their “soundness” questioned if they remain behind the ideological leaders.

The “right” sort of discrimination

The obnoxious contraction of what is permitted has a further danger for the unwary. Although the dictates of political correctness are in theory universal in practice they are applied  with vastly greater enthusiasm against certain groups than others. In 2001 the television presenter Anne Robinson made what was obviously a joke about the Welsh on a programme entitled Room 101. The idea of the programme was for those appearing to consign something or someone to Room 101, the place in George Orwell’s 1984 where “the most terrible thing in the world happens”. Anne Robinson consigned the Welsh with the comment “What are they for?”

A day or so after the programme she became the subject of a police investigation for inciting racial hatred and a file was sent to the Crown Prosecution Service. Some weeks after it was quietly announced that she would not be prosecuted. (

Compare that eager police response with that which occurred after the current director-general of the BBC, Greg Dyke who in 2001 described a meeting of BBC managers as “hideously white”. (

As the law stands, the statement is unambiguously racist because Mr Dyke is making a claim about a recognised racial group and the use of the word “hideously” is highly inflammatory. The extremely unpleasant nature of it can be seen by substituting black or Asian for white: “hideously black”, “hideously Asian”. Its effect can only be to incite racial hatred against whites. The severity of the offence is greatly magnified by Mr Dyke’s then position as the head of our state funded broadcaster.

To test the pc water I made a complaint to the Metropolitan police. They refused to act, despite the fact that Dyke’s comment was not a joke and his public position is a very important one. I tested the Metropolitan police a second time shortly afterwards with a complaint against a Welsh Nationalist politician called John Elfed Jones who had charmingly described the English who moved into Wales as a “disease” and likened them to foot and mouth Mr Jones is a man of some public standing in Wales. He is a former chief of HTV and Welsh Water, has held office in the Welsh Language Society and was involved in the creation of the Welsh Assembly. He is a member of Plaid Cwmru.  Thus, his remarks have more than ordinary public significance.

Again the police refused to act, despite the fact that Jones’ political position gave his words considerable significance in a part of the UK where firebomb attacks on the homes of English
settlers are part of the political landscape. From the refusal to act in these two strong cases of clear racial incitement, it is reasonable to conclude that only the “right” type of racial incitement complaint is acceptable to the police. Complaints to the Commission for Racial Equality on the Dyke and Jones cases met with a similar refusal to act.

This form of oppressive and partial behaviour by the police has steadily grown. Two years after the Dyke case, on 9 November 2003, Cheshire Police acted with the greatest haste on a complaint from “a member of the public” after the Bishop of Chester, Dr Peter Forster, suggested that homosexuals seek psychiatric help to reorientate their sexuality.(

A day or so later (11 October 2003) they were forced to announce that Dr Forster had committed no offence – as any sane person knew – because the 1986 Public Order Act does not  cover “hate crimes” based on sexuality. However, the Chief Constable of the force, Peter Fahy, expressed regret at Dr Forster’s comments and said that it was the duty of everyone in an influential position to celebrate diversity, viz: “We need to be very aware of the position of minorities in the county and make sure diversity is celebrated. Vulnerable minorities should feel they are protected.”

The obvious response to that statement is since when have the police had political comment as part of their brief? The answer appears to be from now on virtually anything goes. Nor does it need a particular crime to provoke such comment. Here is Chief superintendent Paul Pearce of the Sussex force speaking in 2003:

“Recent events in the police service have highlighted the continual need for a positive anti-racist and anti-discrimination stance.

“Sussex Police is overtly hostile to those who discriminate on the grounds of race, religion, skin colour, sexual orientation, disability, gender, social class or any other inappropriate factor”. (

Equally worrying is the attempt by certain police forces to give quasi-official approval of a law which does not exist. The Public Order Act 1986 covers so-called hate crimes, which the Metropolitan Police define as “abusing people because of their race, faith, religion or disability – or because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transsexual” (Daily Telegraph 10 11 03). In fact, the Act does not include any crime which is committed for reasons other than racial hatred.

In 2005 prosecutions were brought against the BNP leader Nick Griffin and BNP member Mark Collett for inciting racial hatred with evidence provided by the BBC (this  from an  organisation which initially refused to hand over film of IRA killings of two British servicemen in Northern Ireland). The BBC  secretly filmed a closed BNP meeting in which Islam was
represented as a menace to British society. (  The attempts at prosecution (there were two trials after the first one resulted in a hung jury on three charges and acquittals on others), failed to convict, but sent out a clear message of the extent to which those with power in Britain are willing to suppress free expression. It is not necessary to have any sympathy with the BNP to see the dangers in allowing politicians (and it required a politician, the attorney-general, to sanction the prosecution) to initiate criminal prosecutions against members of other political parties.

Sometimes the police enthusiasm to be pc makes them the object of ridicule. In 2007 a Lancashire shopkeeper found himself threatened with a public order offence for displaying golliwogs in his shop window. The police seized the golliwogs (doubtless for interrogation)and the shop keeper had to endure the suspense of what would happen next. This turned out to be nothing because the police admitted no crime had been  committed. (

Farcical as the circumstances of this episode were,  it is typical of  many of these police “investigations” into what they classify as hate crimes: the police investigated but no prosecution or caution resulted. The effect of this behaviour, whether intended or not, is to intimidate the native British who now commonly think they dare not say anything critical about any ethnic minority, nation other than England, women or gays for fear of feeling the heavy hand of the constabulary.

Two final recent examples of this type of thing, both involving Islam. In April 2011, Andrew Ryan was convicted of a public order offence for burning a Koran in public. For this he was sentenced to 70 days imprisonment at Carlisle Magistrates’ Court. The sentencing judge, District Judge Gerald Chalk seems to have invented a new legal concept for he described Ryan’s behaviour as “a case of theatrical bigotry.” ( Whether one is in favour of burning books or not, it is difficult to see what meaningful crime Ryan had committed. He burnt a book considered holy by Muslims, but so what? The Christian religion is routinely publicly insulted without a flicker of interest from the police. Effectively, a new legal status has been given to Islam, a status not sanctioned by Parliament. It is worth adding that Carlisle, in the far North-West of England, has very few Muslims and few ethnic minorities of any sort. It is doubtful whether many, if any, of the local population took offence.

The second case is even more interesting. To begin with it involves a Muslim, Mohammed Hasnath. Until the bombings of 7/7 Muslims were allowed to say and write virtually without police intervention. Since 7/7 there have been occasional prosecutions of Muslims for violent words, prosecutions one suspects which are conducted to give a specious appearance of even-handedness in the administration of the law.

Hasnath was fined £100 for putting up posters which read GAY FREE ZONE and had a Koranic reference condemning homosexuality ( Note first the light penalty imposed on him compared with Ryan, despite the fact that the posters must have caused much more offence and been seen by many more people than Ryan’s Koran burning. But so would the putting up of posters containing
the anti-Gay passages in the Koran. If Hasnath had done that would the police have intervened? I suspect nothing would have been done because to have prosecuted him for that would be a tacit admission that the British authorities think parts of the Koran breach the law.

The opportunities for prosecutions based on racial hatred have been greatly widened to include not merely incitement to racial hatred but to punish more heavily any crime deemed to have a racial motive. As racism is defined ever more widely to include virtually any distinction between peoples, the courts and the police have a very great opportunity to include a racial motive in a prosecution. In addition, there are growing calls for laws to extend to the areas which the police , and especially the Metropolitan police,  fondly fantasise are already covered.


Secrecy is the obverse of the censorship coin. To be actively prevented from knowing something is a form of censorship. Most particularly it eats away at democratic control. Unless an electorate has the right to know what the state is doing in any aspect of its work, unlimited mischief can be perpetrated. Justice can be perverted, crimes commissioned, treason committed, political policies subverted, elections manipulated and the lives of individuals maliciously ruined, all with little chance of discovery and next to no chance of prosecution even where the public does find out about the wrongdoing. The most enraging document I have ever read is the Hansard report of the Commons debate the day before war was declared in 1914 and Britain entered the most disastrous conflict in its and Europe’s history. It is clear from Hansard that the grave and novel dangers of entering into a war with modern technology were understood by many MPs. Worse, from the pathetic evasions of the Foreign Secretary, Sir Edward Grey, it is clear that Parliament and consequently the British people had been kept in the dark over secret agreements between the British and French Governments, which obligated Britain to go to war if France was attacked. So off Britain went to war, ostensibly because of an 1839 treaty Britain had signed guaranteeing Belgium’s sovereignty, but in reality because the British elite of the time had committed itself to the French elite without any Parliamentary oversight or agreement.

It is absolutely important to understand that free expression and a free media are an integral part of democracy, but they can formally exist and yet be restricted greatly if secrecy is practised by government. Democracy and openness of government go hand in hand. Take away openness and democracy is breached.

Democracy and freedom of expression

Opposition in the modern world means reasonable access to the various mass media. Without that free expression is an empty shell for, as wise dictators have always known, two shepherds on a hillside defaming the government is nothing, while a hundred thousand people demonstrating in the capital city or a television station broadcasting criticism of government is much. But our public life, including politics, is currently rigidly controlled, on all matters except perhaps the economy, by those who broadly subscribe to a left/liberal programme – what might be termed The Liberal Ascendency. Think, for example, of what educationalists did to sabotage Tory attempts to right the decline in educational standards between 1979 and 1997.

The only true democracy lies in freedom of expression, which requires both the absence of restrictive laws and the statutory guarantee of its exercise to be meaningful. Unless the
current embargo on views contrary to those of the Liberal Ascendency is broken, Britain’s claim to political liberty is a sham. It is, indeed, a strange kind of freedom which is so hemmed by law and circumstance.

The idea which is the bedrock of western morality, the primacy of the individual, is a fragile psychological edifice which can only be guaranteed by free expression. Moreover, it is an idea which is constantly under threat because the primacy of the individual is little valued by most societies and its social corollary – a practical concern for individual liberty – is an even rarer cultural artefact. Indeed, it is scarcely an exaggeration to say that only in English society, and those societies deriving from it, is the notion of individual liberty built into the social fabric. The English have been free not primarily because of legal rights, but because it is their evolved social nature. They accept liberty because it seems natural to them. But that freedom has always rested on the willingness of the Public Class to both behave in a reasonable fashion and to allow criticism. Hayek, coming to England as a foreigner between the Wars noted
both the special quality of English life and the threat to its continuance:

“…it is one of the most disheartening spectacles of our time to see to what extent some of the most precious things which England has given to the world are now held in contempt in England herself. The English hardly know to what degree they differ from most other people in that they all, irrespective of party, hold, to a greater or less extent, the ideas which in their most pronounced form are known as liberalism…[Road To Serfdom 1944 chapter X1V. Hayek, of course, used liberalism in its uncorrupted individualistic sense.]

Freedom of expression is every man’s best guarantee of freedom.

How to safeguard freedom of expression

We should begin with a bonfire of most of the legal restraints. Libel and slander may be replaced by a statutory right of reply; the equal opportunities and race-related statutes should be repealed completely for they not only restrict free expression but practically abrogate the principle of equality before the law; blasphemy and obscenity should depart on the grounds that no group has the right to constrain another simply on the grounds that views are offensive to one side. Legal restrictions relating to confidence and the Official Secrets Act could be replaced by a law of contractual confidence which clearly states any obligations placed on the person accepting an overt (not implied) contract of employment. No other law of confidence should exist.

A really potent freedom of information act is needed (the present one is an insult to the intelligence with its manifold exemptions and the inability of the Information Commissioner to act within a reasonable time against recalcitrant public bodies who refuse to provide information – at present it takes around two years to get the Commissioner to issue a judgement). allows access to all government and municipal papers of general interest – that is everything which is not related to a particular individual – except papers concerned with limited and clearly
defined military matters such as battle plans, equipment specifications and computer codes relating to such things as the launch of nuclear missiles. The stipulation of papers relating only to matters of a general interest would prevent public prying into such records as individual tax returns. The passing of such an act would also place severe limits to the contractual limitations on free expression placed on public servants.

The mention of freedom of information acts always brings knowing scoffing from the self-identified political sophisticates of politics and the mass media. Faced with such a proposal they nudge one another and sigh with a resigned, patronising smile before saying that all that would happen is that politicians would decide things privately whilst dissembling in public. I should be most interested to know exactly how such duplicitous behaviour could be translated into practical measures. If, for example, the present Cabinet secretly wished to re-nationalise the railways whilst publicly supporting privatisation, it could not carry the denationalisation through and expect no one to notice.

It is true, of course, that legislation may be presented as something it is not, but that is a present evil without the existence of a freedom of meaningful freedom of information act. With such an act misrepresentation would be, in principle, subject to greater and more informed scrutiny and consequently open to fiercer pressure for amendment. Nor do I believe that politicians would be able to dissemble successfully in public all of the time.

Injunctions to prevent the expression of views and physical demonstrations are a problem for they are a potent weapon of suppression in the hands of the influential and powerful, especially if those hands form the government of the day – In addition, the police have practically unlimited powers to prevent a man speaking if it is judged that the words uttered are ‘likely to cause a breach of the peace’ and may limit public demonstrations virtually at will.

As for the customary restraints, a statutory right of reply would go a long way to ensuring fair play for the individual in their relations with the press. There would remain a problem in the case of books and pamphlets, but rarely is someone attacked in a book or pamphlet with a wide circulation who does not have access to the media.

Broadcasts present a different problem from printed matter because their numbers are practically limited with current technology, in the case of terrestrial national channels severely limited. There is also a considerable difference between writing a letter or article for publication, which most people should either be able to do or to find someone who is willing to write on their behalf, and broadcasting a coherent reply, which would be beyond many people. However, many would be able to cope with the demands of a pre-recorded broadcast and those
who could not cope could have a written statement read on their behalf.

The great problem is that of a general bias within the elite, especially the mainstream media. In the case of broadcasters there are already formal restraints on bias, but these are honoured almost entirely in the breach. To a degree bias is mitigated by the internet, but we are still a very long way from an equality of readership or prestige between the mass media and the Internet. A right to reply would further shift the balance towards fairness, but there would still be a massive advantage for those who share the liberal internationalist ideology currently
favoured by our elite.

There is an obvious danger in governments becoming directly or even indirectly involved in controlling what the media should publish. Nonetheless, the danger of government censorship and propaganda can be largely obviated if a law places the regulation of the media in the hands of the ordinary citizen through a mechanism which contains two facets. The first is that the obligations it places on the media must be properly defined. For example, the law must not merely state that balance must be achieved, which it does in connection with broadcasting already, it must clearly define what balance means in practice. This could mean that in any television or radio debate on a contentious subject the participants in the debate must be balanced in numbers as well as views – goodbye to the beloved BBC “balanced” interview of three liberal internationalists “debating” a subject.

The second facet is that the enforcement of the law must be free of government influence such as one will invariably get in the appointment of a regulatory authority. Such a mechanism could be the right of any individual to challenge imbalance in the courts not as a matter of judicial review which is expensive and contentious in its application, but through a relatively cheap and simple procedure, such as exists in the application for an injunction.

To prevent political restrictions on free expression, we need a written constitution which explicitly guards the right to free expression. To do that it must forbid any government from introducing either laws which restricts it or practices such as codes of conduct for public servants which gag them from exposing bad behaviour in public bodies or force them to promote political views, such as happens now with the practitioners of political correctness.

The constitution should also contain provisions to ensure that the police (1) do not abuse their powers to harass and intimidate those whose views do not meet with the approval of those with power and influence and (2) apply the law equally to all, something they manifestly do not do at present in politically inconvenient cases.


At present we have a very restricted range of permitted opinion, which is becoming ever narrower through new laws and the tightening grip of political correctness. The fact that public figures bleat ever more frenetically of our “right to free expression” reminds me irresistibly of the lines:

‘The more he spoke of his honour,

The faster we counted our spoons’

The dangerous truth is that we are moving towards a situation where we shall not only have no free speech spoons to count, we shall not even be allowed to mention their loss. If we wish to preserve our freedom, we must realise that such liberty as we enjoy is an ineffably hard won and fragile right which has been won over four centuries or more and that what was gained so slowly may be lost in a day if a government has the tyrannical urge.

Freedom of expression is an absolutely necessary condition for a free society. It is the fulcrum of freedom because he intellectual point at which a society may place a moral lever to lift it above tyranny.

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