BNP: “civil partnerships are a Marxist plot”


11:50 am - March 24th 2010

by Don Paskini    


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Iain Dale has published an excerpt of his interview with Nick Griffin, on the subject of gay rights. This interview was quite controversial, but when we discussed it, the majority of our readers thought this was a worthwhile exercise and not something worth boycotting, so do go and have a look.

They discuss whether the BNP is anti-gay, the “militant gay lobby”, civil partnerships, and whether Griffin had an affair with the leader of the National Front.

One slightly strange bit – Griffin argues that “most of what’s been done to our society [have] been deliberately done by a hard core Marxist left who have infiltrated their ideas into all aspects of our society,” to which Iain responds, “I accept that could be the case with some things.” [but not civil partnerships]

Would be fascinated to hear from Iain which things the hardcore Marxists have deliberately infiltrated into our society, as this is a very, very wingnutty conspiracy theory. Or any other right-wing bloggers who care to explain how the BNP’s belief that gay rights is a Marxist plot to undermine the family fits with the analysis that the BNP is a left-wing party?

Anyway, at the time of writing, a majority of the nice people who leave comments on Iain’s blog seem to be rather persuaded by Griffin’s arguments (perhaps unsurprisingly, as Griffin’s views on gay rights are essentially indistinguishable from the vocal minority of people who obsessively leave comments on the most popular right-wing blogs). Perhaps as a bit of liberal solidarity, some of our readers from the non-bigoted silent majority might consider popping over and supporting Iain’s arguments?

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Don Paskini is deputy-editor of LC. He also blogs at donpaskini. He is on twitter as @donpaskini
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Reader comments


This is exactly how the nazis came to power in Germany, they blamed marxism for everything which attacked the conservative status quo, eventually the great fire of Berlin opened the way for Hitler to grab absolute power by blaming marxists (although most historians are of the opinion that it was caused by the nazis).
The Christian Socialists in the late 19th century blamed the Jews for all that was wrong in Austria. It has to be the oldest political trick known.

“although most historians are of the opinion that it was caused by the nazis”

I vaguely recall reading in AJP Taylor’s ‘Origins of the Second World War’ that the Dutchman van der Lubbe actually did do it – and did it alone.

PS – I’m presuming the Marxist conspiracy Griffin and Dale are agreeing about is the influence of the Frankfurt School and Gramsci’s celebrated ‘long march through the institutions’.

Is Dale now chanelling Melanie Philips? Sounds exactly like her kind of conspiracy theory.

This is a whole pile of bullshit, the interview occurring in the first place, the content is awful, as are the off shoots from it and as for visiting Iain’s bile hole of a blog to chip in with reason, no chance Don!

A messy episode best confined to Room 101 of blogging.

PS: I always knew it was those pesky Marxist’s fault, either that or the Jews, Blacks, Asians or Muslims.

Perhaps all of them combined into the ultimate whipping boy!

you’ve forgotten the Freemasons, the Bilderberg Group and Common Purpose. Not to mention white heterosexual middle class males. And Daily Mail readers.

Let me guess? You’re a white heterosexual middle class male who reads the Daily mail?

Only one of those could ever think that they are as persecuted as the ‘types’ I rolled off. That’s a BNP riff anyway Laban, I mean, I know you’re right wing but that far to the right?

Jesus.

“Whether Griffin had an affair with the leader of the National Front.” Male or female? I’d love to have seen the look on his face when that question was asked.

This anti-gay thing. How does Richard “Dicky” Barnbrook’s little art movie feature in the BNP’s consciousness? Has it been airbrushed out of history? (http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2006/may/11/uk.filmnews)

Don Paskini:
Perhaps as a bit of liberal solidarity, some of our readers from the non-bigoted silent majority might consider popping over and supporting Iain’s arguments?

I would have definitely, if Iain Dale hadn’t come up with this: “I accept that could be the case with some things.”

So, no thanks, basically.

Perhaps it would be simpler to list the bad things in life which aren’t currently alleged to be caused by some Marxist plot.

Perhaps we could also be reminded of why Benjamin Disraeli, in his novel Sybil (1845), went on about two nations:

“Two nations between whom there is no intercourse and no sympathy; who are as ignorant of each other’s habits, thoughts, and feelings, as if they were dwellers in different zones, or inhabitants of different planets: the rich and the poor.”
http://www.gutenberg.org/files/3760/3760-h/3760-h.htm

Least anyone here imagine things must have changed a lot since, recall the finding of a recent OECD report that social mobility is lower in Britain than in the other OECD countries:
See the Figure 5.1 posted in the relevant OECD report: Going for Growth:
http://www.oecd.org/document/51/0,3343,en_2649_34325_44566259_1_1_1_1,00.html

For the record, this ONS chart and analysis shows the changes in income distribution in Britain since the 1980s:
http://www.statistics.gov.uk/cci/nugget.asp?id=332

Well I thought that interview was quite interesting. You can learn more about someone like Griffin in that kind of enviroment than you can from the bear bit like atmosphere that there was on Question Time – when as horrible as his opinions are, it was more of a public lynching.

I don’t get into some of this blogging stuff as strongly as some people on here, and don’t read Iain Dale very often, but I actually quite like the chap.
I wish DHG would point out why he calls his blog a ”bile hole”.

I was just reading this article before I switched to Liberal Conspiracy:

”Criticising gays: a secular form of blasphemy?”
http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php/site/article/8338/

It’s suggesting that you can go too far in the promotion of something like ‘gay rights’ and that the fact that some people are homophobic or like Griffin seems to be on the issue, should not be held against them in most circumstances.

For the record damon, I don’t like Iain Dale for many, many reasons; the least of which is his politics, the vipers nest of his comments but mostly because he is an untrustworthy blogger, who has been involved in smear campaigns, consistent poor blogging practice and targeting bloggers he does not agree with.

He is not kosher or at all above board, Tim Ireland has more facts over at his blog.

A man I trust as far as I can spit Mr. Iain Dale.

13. Matt Munro

@ 1 “This is exactly how the nazis came to power in Germany, they blamed marxism for everything which attacked the conservative status quo, eventually the great fire of Berlin opened the way for Hitler to grab absolute power by blaming marxists (although most historians are of the opinion that it was caused by the nazis).
The Christian Socialists in the late 19th century blamed the Jews for all that was wrong in Austria. It has to be the oldest political trick known.”

Is this what passes for history in todays education system ? The German economy got hammered by the axis powers in the WW1 reparations settlement, leaving the country on its knees and bankrupt. They made foreigners generally, and jews in particular scapegoats for their predicament.

“Fascism” was in fact a reaction to the failure of Marxism to deliver what it had promised (liberation for the working classes), it actuallky borrowed large chunks of Marxist idealogy, and retained its central “revolutionary” characteristic, that of completely re-inventing society i.e. radically CHANGING the staus quo, not defending it. Yes, they disliked marxists because they were competition for the working class vote, some things never change, eh ?

Why was Hitler’s rise to power aided by the likes of Hindenburg, Hugenberg, Papen, the people who let him off lightly after the Munich Putsch, etc? They were all hardcore right-whingers, I’ve got no idea how anyone can dispute that even if they dipute Hitler’s credentials. Yet these conservatives helped Hitler gain power, it was thanks to them rather than a victory in a fair election that he came to power. Would they really have supported him if he was on the left?

“the people who let him off lightly”

I mean the judges. A member of the KPD would have got a far harsher entence, but they saw Hitler as one of them & upholding right-whinger values aganst the Weimar Republic. Maybe a bit rough for their liking but they, like Karl Gordeler, thought they could tame him as he was essentially one of them.

16. Col. Richard Hindrance (Mrs)

“blop blop borrowed large chunks of Marxist idealogy blarg blarg”

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHH

13
‘Is this what passes for history in today’s education system’? – very probably because, short of writing a thesis giving all the nuances, that’s the way it was. And in my version of history, Germany had never been a marxist state.
But I can’t see what the point of your post is, clearly your reference to the education system suggests that my comments on another thread still bug you. But let me lay that to rest, in case it continues on future threads, I also passed the 11 plus and attended the local grammar school, in the early 1960s. In fact it’s there that I became interested in the history of The Third Reich.
But if you cared to read the OP, it’s actually about pointing the finger at other political parties/ideologies in an attempt to discredit.

@14: “Would they really have supported him if he was on the left?”

What a silly ignorant post. Check out the results for the elections in Weimar Germany in July and November 1932.

In the November elections – which led to Hitler being offered the Chancellorship in January 1933 after much prevarication on the part of President Hindenburg – the Nazi share of the vote at 33.1% was 4.2% down on the Party’s vote in the July elections. The Social Democrats at 20.4% were 1.2% down but the Communists at 16.9% were 2.6% up and with 11 more seats in the Reichstag, whereas the Nazis had 34 fewer seats.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_federal_election,_November_1932

From a “conservative” perspective, the prospect of further elections, because of the indecisive result of the November elections, could readily indicate an even bigger vote for the Communists next time and perhaps even a pact with the Social Democrats, as the combined share of the vote of the two “leftist” parties was greater than that of the Nazis. Better then to offer Hitler the Chancellorship to avert such a catastrophic prospect.

The rest is terrible history. The Reichstag building burned down on 27 February – six days before due parliamentary elections. This was used as a pretext for a Presidential decree to declare a state of emergency and round up leftist activist for security reasons:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reichstag_Fire_Decree

By 12 November 1933, the Nazis in government had organised new elections and a national plebiscite withdrawing from the League of Nations and the return of the Saarland:

“On 12 November 1933 elections to the Reichstag take place in Germany once again. However, the name of only one party appears on the ballots: Hitler’s NSDAP. Incorporated in this sham election is a ‘plebiscite’ on the German Reich’s withdrawal from the League of Nations. As expected, the National Socialists achieve an overwhelming result: With 95 per cent of the electorate participating, 92.2 per cent of the electorate vote for the NSDAP – all remaining votes are declared invalid. Thus, 95.1 per cent of Germans endorse a withdrawal from the League of Nations which Hitler’s government had already carried out the previous October. In reality, plebiscites serve the Nazis only as propagandistic endorsements of their policies.”
http://www.willy-brandt.org/bwbs_biografie/index.html?l=en&id=438&year=1933&month=11

Another national plebiscite in August, after the death of President Hindenburg, endorsed combining the functions of the Reich Presidency and the Reich Chancellorship in the person of the Führer. Thereafter, the armed forces took an oath of loyalty not to the German state, but to the Führer.

In August 1936, that well-known liberal, Lloyd George, travelled to Germany to meet with the Führer. Here is a video clip of that meeting:
http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=e_ApfE3Wjxg

On his return to Britain, Lloyd George wrote an article for the Daily Express on 17 November 1936:

“I have just returned from a visit to Germany. In so short time one can only form impressions or at least check impressions which years of distant observation through the telescope of the Press and constant inquiry from those who have seen things at a closer range had already made on one’s mind. I have now seen the famous German Leader and also something of the great change he has effected. Whatever one may think of his methods – and they are certainly not those of a parliamentary country – there can be no doubt that he has achieved a marvellous transformation in the spirit of the people, in their attitude towards each other, and in their social and economic outlook. . .

“What Hitler said at Nuremberg is true. The Germans will resist to the death every invader at their own country, but they have no longer the desire themselves to invade any other land. . .

“The establishment of a German hegemony in Europe which was the aim and dream of the old pre-war militarism, is not even on the horizon of Nazism. …”
http://www.icons-multimedia.com/ClientsArea/HoH/LIBARC/ARCHIVE/Chapters/Stabiliz/Foreign/LloydGeo.html

So much for the Liberal interpretation of the Nazis in 1936.

20. Matt Munro

So……………..Hitler was a liberal marxist ?

Correction to @18:

This paragraph: “Another national plebiscite in August, after the death of President Hindenburg, endorsed combining the functions of the Reich Presidency and the Reich Chancellorship in the person of the Führer. Thereafter, the armed forces took an oath of loyalty not to the German state, but to the Führer.”

should read:

“Another national plebiscite in August 1934, after the death of President Hindenburg, endorsed combining the functions of the Reich Presidency and the Reich Chancellorship in the person of the Führer. Thereafter, the armed forces took an oath of loyalty not to the German state, but to the Führer.”

Sorry.

22. Matt Munro

@13
‘Is this what passes for history in today’s education system’? – very probably because, short of writing a thesis giving all the nuances, that’s the way it was. And in my version of history, Germany had never been a marxist state”.

Of course it hasn’t – it’s inconvnienet for the left to aknowledge any similarities, like the database state, totalitarian govt, the burring of party and state, and the public and private. Even that the Nazis were the first govt in history to ban smoking is glossed over by the left.

“But I can’t see what the point of your post is, clearly your reference to the education system suggests that my comments on another thread still bug you”.

Don’t flatter yourself – I don’t even remember your name let alone any other posts you’ve made. And I never bear grudges.

But let me lay that to rest, in case it continues on future threads, I also passed the 11 plus and attended the local grammar school, in the early 1960s. In fact it’s there that I became interested in the history of The Third Reich.

Good for you – but given your obvious intelligence your analysis is simplistic, you totally ignonore socio-economic context for example, which even the most unsypathetic analysis will admit was a contributory factor to the rise of political extremism in Mid 20th century Europe, and the fact that Fascism was a reaction to the failure of Marxism. Extreme circumstances breed extreme politics and all that ?

“But if you cared to read the OP, it’s actually about pointing the finger at other political parties/ideologies in an attempt to discredit”.

Shock horror – politicians of all hues use out-group psychology – it’s hardly revelatory

23. Matt Munro

That should be @17. 13 was my own post – doh.

22
Of course my analysis is simplistic, we’re on a blog not writing a thesis, and I don’t believe that your original reference to the education system wasn’t personal.
And neither do I dispute anything you have written except to say that it has no relevance to the OP

22
Correction,
I don’t agree that fascism was a reaction to the failure of marxism – where has there ever been a marxist state?

Mussolini’s route to power began with his expulsion from the Italian Socialist Party where he had been editor of the party newspaper, Avanti. After his departure from the Socialists, he went on to form the Fasci di Combattimento in March 1919

In the Wiki entry, note the modest financial contribution of MI5 to Mussolini’s rise to fame and power:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benito_Mussolini

In all, it’s hardly credible to claim that Fascism arose from the evident failure of Marxism. Try the (worrying) insights in this entry for fascism in the Oxford Companion to Politics:

“Fascist ideology also included a romantic, an antirational allure, an appeal to the emotions, to a quasi-religious longing for a mystic union of peoples and their prophetic leader. In reaction to a utilitarian liberal state, fascism revived aspirations towards a normative or ethical state. According to this view, the community existed not merely as a practical convenience but in order to fulfil the individual’s ethical and moral potential. How people perceived these themes depended on the eye of the beholder. Conservatives viewed fascism as a bulwark against Bolshevism or as a middle way between worn-out liberal capitalism and the communist horror. Radicals viewed fascism as a genuinely revolutionary ideology that would sweep away discredited ideals and institutions and replace them with a new disciplined and cohesive society.”

Now try substituting “Third Way” for “middle way” in the penultimate sentence.

What did they think of gay marriages, then?

People who see a Marxist plot round every corner really make me laugh.
If that was the case, then it must be the biggest failure of a plot in the whole history of Mankind.

Just compare 2010 with 1980.
Labour laws have shifted in favour of employers big time. If not 180 degrees, probably 179.
Casualisation at an all time high and no major party is even saying a word, not even a token one, about it.
Trade Union laws reversed and no counter-reversal in sign. As above, basically.
Gap rich/poor highest in decades.
Number of billionaires in the UK at an all-time high.
The percentage of Social housing compared to the years 1946-1979 is risible.
Most state-owned companies have been privatised.
…and the list could go on…

Is civil partnership part of a “Marxist” ploy?
a) Do you have to be a Marxist to believe in the fact that whatever people do with their penis is their own business, as long as it’s consensual and between adults?
b) I don’t suppose Marx ever gave a monkeys towards sexual minorities. It really wasn’t his interest. So to call it a Marxist ploy is the equivalent of calling it a “Napoleonic” one.

Just get real, take tin-foil hats off and stop being paranoid.

As I recall, the Nazis could claim credit for the Night of the Long Knives in 1934, which comprised the summary executions of 85 or more Nazis and conservative activists whom Hitler and the Nazi hierarchy regarded as politically embarrassing for various reasons. The most notorious of those executed included Ernst Röhm, co-founder of the SA Battalion of Nazi Brown Shirts, who was widely known to be an active homosexual:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Night_of_the_Long_Knives

As widely reported, gays and lesbians were among those sought out in due course and sent off to the camps.

The Nazis were, of course, also committed believers in the “science” of eugenics. On the one hand this led to programmes for the the extermination of the Untermensch. On the other to the establishment of Lebensborn camps for the breeding of good Aryan babies by certified Aryan couples who might, or might not, be married to each other:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lebensborn

Curiously, HG Wells, George Bernard Shaw and Sidney Webb, founding members of the Fabians, were also proponents of eugenics. For several decades, social democrat governments in Sweden maintained a programme for the compulsory sterilization of those deemed unfit to parent children:

“The eugenistic legislation was enacted in 1934 and was formally abolished in 1976. According to the 2000 governmental report, 21,000 were estimated to have been forcibly sterilized, 6,000 were coerced into a ‘voluntary’ sterilization while the nature of a further 4,000 cases could not be determined. The Swedish state subsequently paid out damages to many of the victims.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compulsory_sterilization

Bob – “Curiously, HG Wells, George Bernard Shaw and Sidney Webb, founding members of the Fabians, were also proponents of eugenics”

Nothing curious about it. The left were terribly keen on eugenics and had been since Victorian times, just as they were keen on a Darwinistic explanation of class struggle. It was rational and scientific – and that’s how they thought of themselves. They considered the working class to be better, physically and mentally, than the inbred, effete aristocracy, and also wanted to reduce if not eliminate the lumpen underclass.

Hitler knocked all that kind of thinking on the head and eugenics disappeared into the leftist memory hole after WW2.

re Claude’s point about the failure of any Marxist plot – economically, agreed.

But socially … if you took someone from 1957 and dropped them in 2010, who’s agenda would they think had triumphed – the Guardian, or the Daily Mail ?

@31: “if you took someone from 1957 and dropped them in 2010, who’s agenda would they think had triumphed – the Guardian, or the Daily Mail ?”

A good, challenging question. Of course, the Guardian wins easily.

Fig 2.1 in this link to this IFS survey shows what has happened to public spending:
http://www.ifs.org.uk/bns/bn43.pdf

It has risen from about 37% of GDP in 1957 to about 48% now.

What Fig 2.3 shows is that in two other G7 countries, public spending as a percentage of national GDP is higher than in Britain. It follows that in four it is lower.

According to Engels, Marx really believed that in England we could reach a state of Communism by “peaceful and legal means”.

“Surely, at such a moment, the voice ought to be heard of a man whose whole theory is the result of a lifelong study of the economic history and condition of England, and whom that study led to the conclusion that, at least in Europe, England is the only country where the inevitable social revolution might be effected entirely by peaceful and legal means. He certainly never forgot to add that he hardly expected the English ruling classes to submit, without a ‘pro-slavery rebellion,’ to this peaceful and legal revolution.”
http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/p6.htm

Does this resonate or seem familiar in any way?

“We must not reckon profit and loss according to the book, but only according to political needs. There must be no calculation of cost. I require that you do all that you can and to prove that part of the national fortune is in your hands. Whether new investment can be written off in every case is a matter of indifference.”

I must have heard dozens of political speeches rather like that in Britain over the last half century. In fact, it is a quote from a speech that Goering made in Germany in 1936. Source: John Hiden: Republican and Fascist Germany (Longman 1996), p.128.

30
There is a distinction though between Fabian socialists and marxist socialists, whereas the Fabians believed in a certain amount of biological influence, marxists have always proposed the environment and, in particular, the class system within the mode of production as detrimental to the working-class. The basic premise of marxism is, that the only biologically determined behaviour is the survival instinct.

Intelligent and forward thinking liberals hoping for a future Britain tolerant of homosexuality would support many of the BNP’s policies. The most obvious threat to liberal attitudes to homosexuality comes from mass immigration and the first nation culture displacement policy promoted by new labour.

It is inevitable that views will harden towards homosexuality as islamic and african attitudes prevail in the UK in mid century. Our children if staight will be dhimmis and if gay persecuted – this can already be seen in many UK towns and cities that have had first nation culture displaced.

@33: “There is a distinction though between Fabian socialists and marxist socialists, whereas the Fabians believed in a certain amount of biological influence, marxists have always proposed the environment”

Never mind the ideologists, try this on the growing interest in Epigenetics among geneticists:

“What if the way you live now affects the life expectancy of your descendants?”
http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2010/mar/19/evolution-darwin-natural-selection-genes-wrong

Pay special attention to the reported experiment with chickens in Sweden . .

35 This was a very interesting article, although it is difficult to critique, as all journalistic articles outlining scientific research tend to be.
The nature/nurture debate is always simplistic, we know that stress experienced by mothers can pass on to the fetus, we know that there are significant permanent neural changes to rats who are subjected to high levels of stress. And it’s also reported that, the children of mothers who suffer from clinical depression, can copy the behaviour/symptoms of depression. although they, themselves. do not have a biological propensity towards depression.
But, with reference to marxism, it is the idea of instinctive behaviours or inherrent
differences in intelligence between people which is challenged, obviously this does not include people who have suffered brain damage.
The behavioural psychologist John Watson asserts “Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed and my own specified world to bring them up and I’ll guarantee to take anyone at random and train him to become any type of specialist I might select – doctor, lawer…….” This best reflects the views of marxism.

I note that wayward is dropping pro-BNP racist missives here also, where everything it seems is the fault of immigration and Islamification and other such nonsense.

If only it was all that simple…

@36:

More links to press reports on experimental evidence for epigenetic effects:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/sn/tvradio/programmes/horizon/ghostgenes.shtml
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/health/article5029679.ece

There’s also a serious academic text:

Peter Gluckman and Mark Hanson: Mismatch – The Lifestyle Diseases Timebomb (OUP 2008)
ISBN-13: 978-0199228386

Good luck.

@ 34 First Nation? Was that Robin Hood, or before?

40. Matt Munro

@ 36 “And it’s also reported that, the children of mothers who suffer from clinical depression, can copy the behaviour/symptoms of depression. although they, themselves. do not have a biological propensity towards depression”.

That doesn’t make sense – by definition, if their mothers suffer from it then they will have a biological predisposition, nature and nurture together, which is why such studies tell us nothing at all about inherited vs learned behaviour. The standard methodology is the longditudinal twin study (same genes but bought up in different environments) which have consisetently shown a strong genetic influence on risk of depression, schitzophrenia and some forms of violent psycopathy.

Obviously it’s possible to develop any of these conditions without a biological predisposition, in the same way as its possible to become depressed without any obvious environmental stressor, but the odds are lower.

40
I was referring to children born of two parents, if the father doesn’t have a biological predisposition to depression and the child/children inherit the father’s nervous system, there is a fair chance that the child could mimic the mother’s depressive behaviour. Why does that not make sense?
I did say the nature/nurture debate is simplistic particularly when you also add any congenital factors.
There is also a problem with studying separated twins, there really aren;t that many cases, in fact it was the surprisingly large number of twin studies that Cyril Burt purported to have used with regard to IQ which made later researchers (correctly) suspicious.

42. Matt Munro

Because we don’t “inherit” a whole nervous system. We inherit a combination of parental DNA, from which organs, including the CNS components develop. The impact of environment on this process is debated, in some analyses, if you exclude abuse/neglect it has no measurable impact at all. I’ve always found it a bit odd that most people have no problem with the inheritance of physical characteristics (height, hair colour, eye colour etc) but anything to do with the brain is apparently immune from the same genetic process.

Not sure why we are back to Cyril Burt but his research was suspicious IIRC, because the correlations (between teacher ratings of inteligence and IQ results, and the test, re-test scores) were suspiciously high, i.e close to perfect. Of course this criticism only started in the 1960s, some 20 years after the research was (largely uncontroversially) published, when the left decided that viewing anything as inherited was only one step away from being a fully paid up member of the third reich.

43. Joethefitter

OK – this is just another very old ex-Trot writing. But hold on. Am I allowed to contribute? “About Us” says “You can join in as long as you somewhat share our broad goals and aims (social justice, equality, eradicating poverty etc.)”.

Sorry guys – I’ve got a problem on two accounts. Firstly, the problem with only holding a debate with those who broadly share your views – is that it is no debate. Only a mutual ideological reinforcement society. And how many of you really know for sure that “equality” “eradicating povery” is achievable and not some ideological baggage you’ve indirectly inherited from an Owenite view of environmental determinism? So why not let supposed “right wingers” have a say too? It might, just might, have some useful insights. Secondly, as far as this article goes, I suspect Nick G is correct. He basically says that the reason for our (the UK’s) social and moral ambivlaence/relativism is the result of the Marxist left. I agree. Marxism has dominated academic debate for the last 40 years and its more sophisticated Althusserian spin off “Cultural Marxism”, has, as Gramsci would say, been aimed at the development of a “counter hegomonic consciousness”. In other words, Marxists sought to influence “useful idiots” and liberals alike. It was conscious. It was not an accident and it is not a “wingnutty conspiracy theory”.

42
I thought that the brain was part of the CNS, which is where a predisposition to depression would be – I mentioned this in 36 and 41, so really, I am talking about the brain. Yes, of course you are correct, but the child/children need not inherit the predisposition from the mother but still mimic her depressive behaviour.
I think you are being slightly naive when you say that you are surprised that people have a problem about inherriting behavioural/traits/intelligence, this is because physical attributes such as blue eyes are fixed and observable We do not know what intelligence is, we don’t know what consciousness is and we cannot prove that there is such a thing as ‘traits’ and/or that behaviours are merely learnt, and are undertaken within distinct social/power relationships.
I mentioned Burt because you made reference to twin-studies and it was the supposed number which initially made researchers suspicious, of course when they checked further, the correlations were also suspiciously high.
But, you can’t blame the left for Burt’s fraud, it may be inconvenient from a right-wing perspective, but the evidence which supported a country’s educational system for well over a decade has been assigned to the bin.

45. Matt Munro

Maybe intelligence just not observable yet though ? They’re starting to be already with FMRi scans, and in 50 years who knows. As to being conisgned to the bin, many schools still operate entrance examinations, as do real universities, and lots of organisations use psychomentric testing (one of the few fields of psychology that’s actually booming) all of these are examples of measuring mental performance, even if they’re not explicity called IQ tests. You’re right about consciousness though.

@41 and @42
Why should not Cyril Burt have been right? when I took Physics O level Question 1 in the practical was to calculate absolute zero and my answer came out at -273C.
Question 2 was “explain why your answer differs from the theoretical result?” to which I wrote – “my mistakes cancelled out”.
The first example of statistical analysis applied to humans demonstrated that a man’s height was correlated to that of his father – the term “regression analysis” was invented to describe this; when as a teenager I looked at Marxist criticism of Burt – oddly Burt’s work was not normally available to interested teenagers while the Marxist criticism was widely published, I did a little statistical analysis of the intelligence of the sixth form at my prep school, plus my sisters, and its correlation with that of their parents (of whom I knew a modest amount, having met the large majority of them) and concluded that the probability of this correlation occurring anywhere in the whole world (let alone my village) was less than 0.25 if intelligence of children was uncorrelated to that of their parents. Since then I have found Sir Cyril Burt more plausible than the Marxist hacks who denounce him.

46
As you have studied physics you will be well aware that correlation does not represent causality. When I visit the coast I often observe that when the waves start getting higher the trees start swaying, and this happens every time.
“Why should not Cyril Burt have been right”
Well for a start Cyril Burt forged his research data – not a good scientific method, basically because he needed to study separated identical twins placed in differing social environments, and there aren’t that many instances of this.
It won’t surprise you to learn that his original conclusions still can’t be tested.
Burt was a bit of an obsessive about his views (believe it or not he too was right-wing), this definitely clouded his judgement.
Bugger, I’ve let myself be drawn OT

48. Joethefitter

Bobb, steveb et al. I’ve just read you stuff on IQ, epignetics, Cyril Burt etc.

We should remember, of course, that Darwin’s theory formed the basis for social Darwinism. Also – the importance that eugenetics had prior to WW2 with many on the left (including Keynes who, from memory was President at one time)

Also don’t forget that Darwin (and Wallace) were not neo Dawkinists. ie they believed that Lamarck had some valid insight and that it might be possible for “acquired characteristics” to be passed on from generation to generation.

Further, leaps of imagingation ….could Charles Murray be right? Does the Bell Curve deserve the slagging off it’s got from many?

For another “take” on what might be happening have a look at Rupert Sheldrake’s stuff. Either a “New Science of Life” of the Presence of the Past”. I think the jury’s still out and only the very brave would place a bet on this one.

Sheldrake? HaHaHa! David Icke next…

50. Matt Munro

“As you have studied physics you will be well aware that correlation does not represent causality. When I visit the coast I often observe that when the waves start getting higher the trees start swaying, and this happens every time”.

Er, bad example, wave height correlates with wind strength, as does tree swaying ?

There are big question marks over the claims of Cyril Burt, reference the wiki entry:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyril_Burt

A recently reported identical v fraternal twin study on the inheritability of intelligence using MRI brain scans as well as tests is here:
http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn1520-iq-is-inherited-suggests-twin-study.html

Claimed connections between ethnicity and “intelligence” (whatever that means) need to be treated with caution:

“Government figures show only 15% of white working class boys in England got five good GCSEs including maths and English last year. Among white boys from more affluent homes – 45% achieved that level of qualification. Poorer pupils from Indian and Chinese backgrounds fared much better – with 36% and 52% making that grade respectively.”
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/7220683.stm

“Though white children in general do better than most minorities at school, poor ones come bottom of the league (see chart). Even black Caribbean boys, the subject of any number of initiatives, do better at GCSEs”
http://www.economist.com/world/britain/displaystory.cfm?story_id=14700670

50 Well done for recognizing the shared causality/

51
This is an interesting study but it encounters the problem of disentangling the social environment from the physiological. We know that identical twins share the same physical brain structure but they also share a similar environment and if the are identical they are also the same sex. However, the researcher does not say whether the fraternal twins were of the same-sex or different. This would make a massive difference because you would not be comparing like with like.
We are already aware that changes to the educational system in the UK enabled girls to catch-up with and sometimes overtake boys in maths and science. Females are now doing better than males in higher education, obviously this has nothing to do with physiology, but a concerted attempt to change the environment
I also come from an area where white working-class boys are doing badly in education, it doesn’t need a degree in psychology to observe the reasons why.

@ steveb
Thanks for the briefing – as I said Burt’s work wasn’t accessible, so I was in no position to check it. Just because the Marxists were obvously wrong did not mean that Burt was right!
Your example of large waves and swaying trees both correlated to a third parameter is a good illustration but it is difficult to imagine a third factor accounting for the success of Jackie Milburn’s nephews or that of the Dragon School compared to other prep schools with more affluent catchment areas, so while I am now prepared to discount Burt I still see no need to accept the Marxist view that everything is down to the environment. If that was true how could my younger sister be brighter than me when the social environment was favouring boys (much less so inside our house, but significantly so outside)?
“We are already aware that changes to the educational system in the UK enabled girls to catch-up with and sometimes overtake boys in maths and science. Females are now doing better than males in higher education, obviously this has nothing to do with physiology, but a concerted attempt to change the environment”
Interestingly the one case where girls are still behind is Maths where the coursework is done under supervision at school. I am sure that there are a vast number of innocent explanations for this apart from the unwillingness of boys to ask their mother for help with their coursework …
There is a difference in physiology that results, ceteris paribus, in more boys being good at maths, science and other logic-driven studies and girls being better at language and communication.We now need to question the new environment.
“I also come from an area where white working-class boys are doing badly in education, it doesn’t need a degree in psychology to observe the reasons why.”
At my school, bright kids were encouraged; at my elder son’s school any boy admitting to being clever (unless himself a thug) was persecuted.

@ 51 Bob B
Intelligence and exam results are not the same thing.
Secondly if you look at the data on exam results you will find that Indian children did a lot better than Bangladeshi or Pakistani children – there is no significant ethnic difference between East Bengal (aka Bangladesh) and West Bengal or the two halves of the Punjab. Also “Afro-Caribbean” girls performed far better than “Afro-Caribbean” boys, and so did poor white girls relative to poor white boys. I think (it’s very difficult to extract real information from that published) that most of the reported difference between the sexes is down to these two, relatively small, subgroups.
Most immigrants are poor when they arrive [Russian oligarchs in the ’90s and Jewish bankers in the ’30s are less than 1% of 1%], but are generally more enterprising and usually more intelligent that the average that the leave behind or join when they arrive so it is not surprising if (i) their kids are brighter than average and/or (ii) the parents push their kids to do well at school so that they can be better off and justify the parents’ sacrifice by coming here.
Cyril Burt has been posthumously accused of inventing some of his data which means that we cannot rely on his conclusions. However that does not mean that IQ is not heritable when almost every other physical attribute is. My personal observations will be viewed by everyone else as anecdotal evidence but by now they are enough to challenge the presupposition of non-inheritability of IQ not just at 5% significance level but at the level of 1% of 1% of 1%

53
I don’t really know what you are supposed to be proposing, all things in the environment aren’t equal and I certainly can'[t help you about your sister. And as far as the Charlton brother’s are concerned, it would be very difficult to argue that playing football is an inheritted trait. You need to realise that there are potentially many more excellent footballers who don’t pursue it as a career.
Your son’s experience is lamentable, this also happens in my area and is probably one factor of many, in explaining why white working class boys don’t do so well.
But you don’t have to be a marxist to believe that environmental factors are the main determinents.

“Secondly if you look at the data on exam results you will find that Indian children did a lot better than Bangladeshi or Pakistani children – there is no significant ethnic difference between East Bengal (aka Bangladesh) and West Bengal or the two halves of the Punjab.”

Quite so. As said, claims about connections between ethnicity and “intelligence” need treating with caution.

Btw measurements of IQ are supposed to relate to “gognitive ability” so I suppose there’s some broad association with GCSE results and we do have lots of data relating to indiviual attainment at GCSE. There remains therefore the puzzle as to why poor white kids do so badly in the GCSE exams relative to kids with other ethnicities. It’s not my view that cultural and neighbourhood values have no bearing on the results of IQ tests or individual attainment in GCSE exams. That said, we need to recognise the outcome of fraternal v identical twins studies.

@55 steveb
I assume that actual performance is affected by natural aptitude, environmental conditions and personal attitude (which is, to some extent, a consequence of the other two factors. There are vast amounts of propaganda suggesting that one or other of the first two are solely or overwhelmingly responsible and the other has no impact or is immaterial. I do not believe it.
“it would be very difficult to argue that playing football is an inheritted trait.” Why? Have you ever looked at enough footballers and cricketers and applied a regression analysis? The Hutton boys were only on the verge of the England team but how about the two generations of Cowdreys, potentially to be followed by a third, the Graveneys, the Williams sisters in tennis, and lots of others. I am not saying that performance is inherited, only that I see no reason why aptitude should not be heritable (with a 50% chance at most) – and a lot of boys will choose not to compete in sports where they cannot match their father’s performance [oh, that last comment agrees with you]. Environmental conditions cannot plausibly be given as an explanation why so many of the top/good amateurs in the sports in which I compete are the children, grandchildren (or, in a few cases, parents) of other good sportspeople. It is a long time ago, so my memory may not be perfect, but I am sure that a majority of the younger brothers of sport team captains became sport team captains (the only exception that I remember was when two such younger brothers played in the same teams).
“But you don’t have to be a marxist to believe that environmental factors are the main determinents.” No, maybe not (you may just be blinkered), but they are clearly minor determinants: they can only destroy or limit performance not create aptitude that does not exist – can they cure dyslexia? can they provide someone who is tone-deaf with a “musical ear”? I knew boys who were in the “D” stream for maths but the “A” stream for everything else – do you expect me to believe that this was due to environmental factors? Anyone who has suffered the experience will tell you that I cannot sing but I can do sums (the latter and “general knowledge” used to be a game in one office where I worked). How do marxist sympathisers explain this?

How does anyone, whether Marxist or not, explain Isaac Newton (1643-1727) in terms of his parents or upbringing?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaac_Newton

@58 Bob B
We do not have enough data to pose the question.
Isaac’s father is said to have been a prosperous farmer and his mother’s second husband was a Vicar so we suppose each to have been above-average in intelligence but we have NO idea by how much

58
Newton was indeed amazing, but his parents were’t particularly remarkable, My son was a brilliant footballer until he sustained a groin injury, there are no footballers in my family. It would be impossible to attempt to disentangle Newton’s life but if there is no evidence within his family of a propensity for maths and physics it would be difficult to argue that it was inheritted.
My sister is a brilliant pianist, there are no other pianists in the family, and she has always said, that, the more she practises the better she gets.
Until you can show that every footballer, musician, mathematician etc has a close family relative that has the same attribute, you cannot claim inherittence. Unless you believe in the notion of ‘heads I win, tails you lose.’

@56
“Quite so. As said, claims about connections between ethnicity and “intelligence” need treating with caution.” I thought that I was supporting your sensible comment.
It is not poor white kids, it is poor white boys. The data on exam results do not directly measure intelligence
Granted that there is a chronic tendency for boys to be keener on sports than studies, that does not explain the massive switch in the gender differential between the results of O levels and GCSE.
One significant factor that is never mentioned is the attitude of teachers to their pupils: I can remember that this made a difference but I was amazed by how great a difference it made to my son’s performance.

@61: “One significant factor that is never mentioned is the attitude of teachers to their pupils: I can remember that this made a difference but I was amazed by how great a difference it made to my son’s performance.”

There is much pigeoning-holing and stereotyping by teachers which can have influential consequences – two outstanding examples:

Nobel laureate Sir Peter Mansfield FRS failed his 11+ exam and left school at 15 to become an apprentice book-binder. He made his way to university through night-school. Sadly that route and taking part-time degrees while continuing to be employed are seldom there now:
http://www.mirror.co.uk/video/news/2009/10/08/pride-of-britain-sir-peter-mansfield-115875-21731467/

“The UK’s most expensive private schools are producing pupils who achieve the worst grades at university, according to research. An eight-year study of graduates’ results by researchers at the University of Warwick suggests that the more parents pay in school fees, the less chance their children have of getting a good degree.”
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/2552523.stm

@60 “Until you can show that every footballer, musician, mathematician etc has a close family relative that has the same attribute, you cannot claim inherittence. Unless you believe in the notion of ‘heads I win, tails you lose.’ ”
Complete and utter bullshit, worthy of Campbell or MacBride You are claiming determinism when I am discussing probability, and even if determinism applied your argument would fail as those relatives who had one of two (or two of the four) necessary genes would not show up in your analysis.
Analysis of inheritance attributes involves probability theory and in most cases abilities depend on more than one gene so the ratio of abilities transferred to abilities possessed by a parent is far smaller tan 50%
“My sister is a brilliant pianist, there are no other pianists in the family, and she has always said, that, the more she practises the better she gets.” I skipped the bit about Stanley Mathews spending hours each day kicking a football against a garage
What I am saying is that aptitude (which is not the same as performance) is heritable – I find it difficult to see why this should be disputed by anyone who accepts that blue eyes or blonde hair can be inherited

63
What do you mean by your assertion that I am claiming determinism and you are claiming probability? Surely you are claiming determinism by suggesting inheritence
You have quoted several sportspeople who have close family who are involved with sport. but out of the numerous sportspeople it is quite a small number, what is your explaination for those who do not have such a background?
The environmental/social argument can explain both quite well.
As I have already stated, blue eyes or brown hair are observable and fixed, performance is not. that’s why I have a problem with the idea that IQ, for example, is inherited. The more IQ tests that we do the higher the score, this suggests a learning process. not a measure such as weight or height for example.
Stanley Matthews was a great footballer but as you have already mentioned he spent hours practising

@ 64 “Surely you are claiming determinism by suggesting inheritence”
NO NO NO (Sound of me screaming and brick walls falling down when my head hits them beyond their endurance)
Read Pascal or Gregor Mendel
All humans and other organisms who have sexual reproduction inherit some genes from each parent. Their aptitudes result from the genetic inheritance. Since ability in any given sport or academic pursuit depends upon a number of genes the probability of a son or daughter inheriting the father’s ability is much less than 50%. To demonstrate inheritance I should merely have to show that a larger proportion of the children of sportsmen/mathematicians/linguists/whatever achieved distinction in the field of their parent(s) than those whose parents did not have any relevant achievements.What I said is that the aptitude of children is correlated with that of their parents – determinism would have there being no risk that the children of bright parents would be stupid or that children of dull parents would be brilliant
Almost everyone in Yorkshire wants to play for Yorkshire CCC – that both Hutton brothers got into the county team against competition from the other 4+ million residents is statistically significant and their performance shows that this was not just due to bias
I could quote a lot more sportspeople if I did some homework but it had not seemed necessary. A majority of the England internationals that I have met had a relative who was an international or competing for international status in the same sport
A higher result on IQ tests following a lot of practice does not demonstrate an increase in IQ, just a better test performance. It does not show a change in IQ as a result of practice, just a systematic failure in the tests. Before I took the 11+ my younger sister sat me down in front of a paper to drum into me various things such as when it said 7x it meant 70 plus x not 7 times x, in contrast to what I should normally have understood.

65
Get a grip,
This is the last on the matter, if being a good sportperson is not determined then it is some kind of spontaneous happening, I don’t believe that.
IQ tests are meant to be an objective measure but this cannot be so if each time you measure the individual the score changes, so of course it doesn’t mean your IQ is getting better it means that the theory is flawed, and who determines that answering those set of questions indicates intelligence? That’s a rhetorical question btw

steveb
“Get a grip,”
OK, But please, please look at some elementary textbooks before the next time you pontificate on probability and determinism as bricklayers are expensive.
The classic answer is that “IQ determines the ability to pass IQ tests”. I am not arguing the point!

68. Joethefitter

49. You must be so sure or your knowledge of biology/physics/quantum theory/cosmology if you fell able to “dis” Rupert Sheldrake by your jokey reference to David Icke. In fact you must be really smart. My guess howeveer, is that you don’t have a double first and PHd from Campbridge. That you’ve not worked with Crick. That you’ve not recieved support from Bohm. To really criticize Sheldrake, you’ve got to open your mind enough to acquire a basic understanding of his work. MY guess is he’s on to somethiong, but the whole point about Sheldrake is that he accepts that he may be wrong. He operates in the best tradition of science whether you are a Kuhnian. Popperian or merely a Monbiot/Goldacre hack. A few insulting remarks about David Icke are really not very appriopriate.

OTOH let’s remember that Patricia Hewitt and Geoff Hoon were both highly Oxbridge educated.


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