Was Anders Breivik a ‘fascist’ or something else?


8:59 am - July 28th 2011

by Septicisle    


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I think the main problem with accurately labelling Breivik is that as yet we haven’t come up with a convincing catch-all term for the new far right, which on the surface eschews racism but which underneath is just as virulent in its hatred of those with brown skin as the fascists and neo-Nazis we’re all familiar with.

Unity has written an excellent post on Breivik and fascism – a lesson from George Orwell – and this is partly my reply.

Scratch beneath Breivik’s anti-racist façade and you find the same old tropes.

I.e. as in the way he exclusively blames “Muslims” for the crime in Oslo (page 1392 of his “manifesto”), just as the EDL and those associated with it have banged on about “Muslims” being in control of the drug trade in various cities, as if religion has anything whatsoever to do with it.

This is why I think he personally has more in common with Tim McVeigh than any previous European terror group or individual.

McVeigh was a fan of the Turner Diaries and a known racist, but he was further radicalised by the Waco and Ruby Ridge sieges. Coupled with the then highly en vogue “new world order” conspiracy theories, he decided to strike back against the US federal government.

Breivik instead found his inspiration mainly from the hysterical far-right, convinced that pure Muslim demographics mean that Europe is doomed. He combined this with the utterly bizarre conspiracy theory that the Frankfurt school of Marxist social theorists have somehow managed to influence politicians of both mainstream right and left into imposing state multiculturalism and political correctness onto their people without their consent.

Into the mix also came the “anti-jihadist” bloggers and other assorted right-wing figures, both American and European, Pam Geller and Geert Wilders (page 1407) to name but two, all of whom he came to believe were simply not going to achieve anything through democratic politics.

Only he, or rather his almost certainly imaginary group, can start off the war by killing not Muslims, although he includes them in his list of “prioritised targets” (page 921), but instead hitting the multiculturalists themselves.

In this he shares the “awakening” belief of many other terrorists before him, that through one spectacular act he can both raise awareness among those of like minds that they can personally do something, and also hopefully provoke the authorities into so overreacting that they make things worse, the same trap the West walked into after 9/11.

He also proposes the on the surface completely incongruous idea of “liberal zones” (page 1168), where those who wish to live “Sex and the City” lifestyles can do so, as long as they are cut off “ideologically” from the rest of society to avoid “cultural contamination”. Not many fascists would be willing to offer an apparent safe haven from their policies, especially when so many would obviously consider things to be far more pleasant there.

In my view, he’s best compartmentalised as a 21st century European white nationalist, who while others talked decided to act, by murdering the “friends” of his enemies.


A longer version is at Obsolete

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About the author
'Septicisle' is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. He mostly blogs, poorly, over at Septicisle.info on politics and general media mendacity.
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Race relations ,Terrorism

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Reader comments


1. Terrible But True

‘as yet we haven’t come up with a convincing catch-all term’
‘we’re all familiar with’

Speaking of which, who is ‘we’?

I was joking with a friend last night that in a bygone age racists were easier to identify – they just hated other races as inferior. Now, racists have all these clauses and particularisms, and yet it is getting no more sophisticated. As for terminology, don’t you have it at the start: the New Far Right: like the New Right (socially conservative, economically liberal), the New Far Right is socially conservative, economically protectionist, and virulently anti-Islam AND anti-Muslim – though often in denial of the latter.

I think the answer to why he did it relates specifically to the socio-economic make up of the Nordic countries.

Norway and Sweden are often held up as models of social democracy. They are countries with highly efficient commercial and industrial systems featuring a well cared for and highly educated work force. In terms of politics, the Social Democratic Workers Party in Sweden and the Labour Party in Norway have been dominant for almost 100 years.

But although both countries have constitutional monarchies and left of centre governments, the real authority is invested in a ruling cabal of financiers and industrialists who make the decisions behind the scenes. It is a close knit ruling elite, the members of which tend to build their summer houses round the same lakes.

So whilst there are elements of the Nordic societies that look, from the outside, like a form of socialism, it is actually more like corporate paternalism. This produces a very controlled environment.

It is a Stepford society.

But scratch the surface of this Fabian dream world and tensions begin to show. The Swedish people, for example, have a schizophrenic relationship with drugs, alcohol, gambling and sex, part of which is a relic of the influence of the Lutheran high church.

They are outwardly reserved yet, strangely, have the most vibrant heavy metal scene in Europe. They have a suicide rate 50% higher than that of the UK. And whilst the state openly welcomes immigrants, in many small towns you find local people patrolling the streets, in vigilante groups, ostensibly to protect their children from Somali drug dealers and rapists.

So, although Breivik was undoubtedly motivated by his religious and nationalist views, I think that ultimately, his quarrel was not with immigrants or Islam, but with the ideological hegemony of the Norwegian state, that denied the legitimacy of his deeply held views.

His attack, after all, was not on a mosque but on the supporters of a political orthodoxy.

http://www.annaraccoon.com/politics/suppressing-reality/

4. flyingrodent

I read that Anna R. bit the other day. I recommend everyone else reads it and particularly the comments beneath.

5. Luis Enrique

FR,

interesting, but don’t you read words like “the real authority is invested in a ruling cabal of financiers and industrialists who make the decisions behind the scenes.” and think “citation needed”.

Why are Scandanavian financiers and industrialists apparently intent on building an egalitarian well-educated liberal-left society, whilst our lot are apparently intent on enriching themselves and devestating society?

‘We’, in this case, would be the general polity rather than any particular political consitutency, i.e. left, right, liberal, conservative…

My own post, to which Septicisle refers, was prompted by the wrangling over nomenclature that I;ve seen in comments at several blogs, including this one.

As I point out in that post, no one who thinks of themselves as a reasonable human being – for perfectly understandable reasons -wants to be linked to or associated with a mass murderer like Breivik, even in the loosest possible sense, so references to Breivik as a ‘conservative’ or as being simply ‘right-wing’ are naturally going to be contested by people who tend to see themselves in those terms.

Septicisle is right to point out that Breivik’s manifesto is riddle with inconsistencies, he’s far from being a cogent poilitical philosopher, but this is far from unusual when your dealing with hardline ideologues anyway – try reconciling Social Worker’s longstanding position on women’s rights with its more recent support for Islamic groups without resorting to doublethink or post-modernism and you’ll see exactly what I mean.

With someone like Breivik, the most you can do is try and identify the main unifying themes in his personal ideology and, for me, these come down to his characterisation of Islam and ‘cultural Marxism’ as ‘the enemy’ and the extreme authoritarian character of his preferred solution to these ‘problems’, a Europe controlled by a series of non-elected ‘tribunals’ made up of so-called ‘cultural conservatives’ exercising absolute power and authority.

For me that’s a near to Fascism as makes no real difference and so, for want of an apt neologism for describe Breivik, I’m suggest we all settle on ‘fascist’ if only to keep the focus of the debate on the issues and not on whether the casual use of terms like ‘right-wing’ and ‘conservative’ amounts to a rhetorical cheap shot or is just a sign of laziness.

I might add that I don’t disagree with Secpticisle assessment either – the parallel drawn to Timothy McVeigh is, I think, a perfectly valid one. A document as long and rambling as Breivik’s manifesto inevitably invites commentators to debate what are largely differences in emphasis rather than analysis. Septicisle sees the suggested ‘liberal zones’ as incongruous, I don’t, in part because they would amount to a form of apartheid in which the element of absolute control is still present but more so because, in practice, totalitarian regimes will always tend to maintain some sort of ‘playground’ where the privileged and powerful can go to exercise their personal vices even as those same outlets are denied to the rest of society. In that sense, Breivik is merely openly acknowledging what totalitarian regimes have always done, even if only covertly.

I share your frustration at the difficulty the media have had in describing Breivik – on Monday I wrote this piece about the inaccuracy of the term neo-Nazi to describe what is a distinct post-9/11 form of extremism http://www.crashbangwallace.com/2011/07/25/to-fight-breiviks-views-we-need-to-understand-this-new-distinct-extremism/

Luis,

I’m giving Pagar the benefiot of the doubt for the time being but, usually, when I read words like…

“the real authority is invested in a ruling cabal of financiers and industrialists who make the decisions behind the scenes.”

…I’m left with the expectaition thst the words ‘Bilderberg’, ‘Illuminati’ and ‘New World Order’ are likely to turn up shortly afterwards, with extra ‘credit’ on offer should ‘reptilian’ also make it on to the page.

Sorry, Pagar… nothing personal but as Luis says ‘citation needed’ if only to reassure everyone that you’re working from a bona fide analysis of the Nordic system and not the contents of the David Icke forums.

9. flyingrodent

@Luis – Yes, I do. I just thought it was predictable that a bunch of libertarians (Sub-species: Internetus Vulgaris HandsoffmyLexus) would flick through a 1,500 page document on the need for superviolent war against “Marxists” and “Islamists” and conclude that it was really all about the overwhelming power of the state over the individual.

Plus, I thought the comments showed the expected level of warmth, humanity and empathy for any thread hailing from that part of the internet.

10. Luis Enrique

FR

I’m confused! – not encountered Anna Racoon before – is she from the libertarian side of the tracks then? I thought you were recommending that post because you thought it was a good attempt at trying to understand why this guy did what he did, but have I got you wrong, and you think it’s a glibertarian with a hammer spotting a nail? I didn’t see what you liked about the comments, but were you infact recommending them for their ghastliness? (I didn’t think too hard about it – I just scan read it – when I made comment #5 I thought you were citing that post with approval)

Pagar @ 3

I have always suspected that these ‘Libertarian’ johnnies were, more or less, a bit weird along a general spectrum. From normal weirdness a few paces from reality, right up to the far across the street, kind of ‘vapour trails dispense drugs to suppress the population’ tin foil hat brigade.

I have read some pretty idiotic statements out there, mostly about stuff that hasn’t meant dozens of people have died, but this Anna Racoon blogg and most of the comments listed really takes the biscuit.

Look, I understand how terrible it is guys but one of your mob went off on one and took a hundred people out. Fair, enough, it kinda hurts, but to blame Scandinavian Social Democracy for this guys actions? What are we saying? Are we saying that if he had been brought up in a brutal, angry culture this would never have happened? If enough people in Norway had been subjected to the type of grinding poverty that we see here and the US that people like Berivik would never exist?

Come on, we have more than enough people like that here who would be just as likely do this and we all know it.

Scandinavian Democracy works, get used to it.

12. Luis Enrique

(at first pass, I though the Anna was trying to describe the path his craziness took, describe how he understand his own actions, not giving any credence to the idea that the dominant ideology actually is supressing heterodox thought)

13. flyingrodent

I thought you were recommending that post because you thought it was a good attempt at trying to understand why this guy did what he did, but have I got you wrong, and you think it’s a glibertarian with a hammer spotting a nail?

Oh God, the latter, of course. It’s also worth noting that, had Breivik cribbed extensively from Sayyid Qutb or Karl Marx, that webpage and thousands of others like it would be jammed to bursting with fiery denunciations of totalitarianism and fascism and so on.

And yet there, he appears to be some kind of intellectual curio, as if he were a small, snappy animal caught in a henhouse, declaring an interest in the minarchist state in a Home Counties accent.

14. Luis Enrique

oops. got completely the wrong end of the stick.

well, maybe this loon did think the Norwegian social democratic hegemony was surpressing his courageous truthiness (which is why he killed young Norwegians, rather than immigrants), which is what I first read Anna as suggesting … an idea which, as you suggest, could well lead to warnings about the dangers of paranoid libertarian thought, just if he’d cited Marx, people would warn about the dangers of radical left-wing thought.

I think this shows how useless the phrase ‘right wing’ has become. It can cover all of these people:

Patrician conservatives – socially and economically protectionist and conservative

New Right: socially conservative and economically liberal

‘extreme’ right: various forms of racism and protectionism

Libertarian Right: no borders, limited nation state, economically liberal, socially liberal

Red Tory: socially conservative, inspired by catholic social teaching (Distributism etc), economically for more state regulation to protect small business

Clearly so many of these are contradictory that it is an insult to assume there is something linking them all. I’m not sure you could put Philip Blond, Paul Staines, Steve Hilton, Tim Montgomerie, Ken Clarke, John Redwood and David Davies in a room and really think there was a catch-all phrase for them – and this deliberately excluding those outside of the UK and supporters of state-sponsored racist-coercion such as the BNP etc.

15 – You’re missing out the ‘conservative’ communist generals who launched a coup against Gorbachev and the ‘conservative’ mullahs in Iran.

15, 16 – plus the ‘conservative’ party members in China. They’re the hard-line communists.

The clue into Breivik’s motivation lies in what he actually did.

Had he thrown a grenade into a mosque or fire bombed an abortion clinic it would have been pretty clear. In fact, he attacked a Government building and killed the young supporters of the ruling Labour Party.

He was attacking the state of Norway itself- that is who he saw as his enemy and, if we are serious about trying to understand why he committed such a horrific crime, that needs to be our starting point.

Why did he hate Norway, one of the richest and most egalitarian countries on the planet, so much?

16 & 17. I was talking about the use of the phrase ‘right wing’. I think your comments show how the same problem exists with the phrase ‘left wing’ as well.

Why we insist on labelling political philosophies based on the make up of the revolutionary french legislature I will never know.

20. Shatterface

His link between ‘Cultural Marxism’ and multi-culturalism is bizarre given the Frankfurt School’s racist views on Jazz, for instance. Marxism’s an imperialistic discipline in that it tries to subordinate all social relationships (including race, gender, the family, sexuality, religion, etc) to a capitalist mode of production, which makes it sound paranoid once it steps outside the study of 19th Century economics but its cultural impact outside the Literary Studies department of Universities is negligable; it has fuck all to do with public or State attitudes to immigration.

His link between ‘Cultural Marxism’ and multi-culturalism is bizarre…

I may have said this before, but someone who cites Edmund Burke and John Stuart Mill as inspirations for murdering children is really not somebody whose political analysis either deserves or merits serious consideration.

The most accurate phrase is “white nationalist”. I don’t favour the use of “fascism”, because then you run into problems with his links to the Muslim obsessed end of the more mainstream centre-right, who are obviously not fascists. And if you use “fascist” to describe everyone to the right of Tim Montgomerie, then you have nothing left for the actual Evola reading Iron Guard wannabes.

Have a look at the commentary at some genuine WN sites. I won’t link to them, but there is an interesting (in an anthropological sense) thread at Majority Rights called “Norway and the search for political meaning”. Commentators there are basically saying, “one of our people has done this, how should we feel about it?” I think it’s quite instructive, if you can stand the stench.

Doesn’t the problem lie in that the media demand and then provide a label which ‘we’ then may claim is inaccurate required ‘us’ to provide one in turn; while the majority actually of people don’t give a damn what they’re called?

In this particular case he was a guy with a manifesto the majority found condemnable; why the need or desire to categorise him?

I may have said this before, but someone who cites Edmund Burke and John Stuart Mill as inspirations for murdering children is really not somebody whose political analysis either deserves or merits serious consideration.

Well, obvs–but read that statement back to your self for your cog dis of the day. Why the f*ck should we take the political analysis of anyone who murders children seriously, regardless of their ability to cite political philosophers correctly?

Oh yeah, that’s right–welcome to the modern world.

21: Tim – you have hit the nail on the head.

26. Paul Newman

‘Terrorist’ is universally accepted as a given – Said Unity
No it aint -Doing something terrible does not make you a terrorist. He might fantasise that he is, but to join in is a bit weird, and needy, if I may say so.
Moat, another loon, apparently blamed the police for the collapse of his business, claiming that he had “lost everything”. Cobblers; he was just a violent nut .
Each nut will have its screw, so to speak,so what ? Real terrorism is an expression of genuine religio/political National or ethnic disputes.Terrorists organise recruit and conduct an asymmetrical undeclared war.
The people involved are not remotely howling and may indeed go on to be respected politicians and leaders … as in Saint Mandela Etta the IRA , the PLO and Al Quaeda are typical
There is nothing about this act or this man that makes him a terrorist except his own delusions, you might just as well call David Ike a Scientific Campaigner amd ask ” Why why does he hate lizards”?One bright spot, Unity has finally found someone about whom he can sneer at for rambling . Enjoyed that.

27. flyingrodent

Your Libertarian Alliance in action…

http://libertarianalliance.wordpress.com/2011/07/24/the-political-ideas-of-anders-behring-breivik/

“There is certainly great revulsion at the murder of young people. However, I suppose it is possible that in the long run European elites will understand that the glorious multicultural future will not be attained without a great deal of bloodletting (including themselves and, as in this case, their children) and realize they will have to change their ways”.

This was precisely the position of the EDL rep on Newsnight earlier this week; it’s been the consensus across many pages at the Telegraph, Mail and Spectator that I’ve seen. Who’s off-message here? The leaders of the UK’s right wing parties, or their voters? Maybe we can generalise, after all.

(Nota bene that the hosting site has to put a lengthy notice saying Oh and by the way, we condemn mass murder, it isn’t nice etc. that wasn’t present in the original post).

FR –

Look up Kevin McDonald.

One thing, though: I saw Paxman describe it as a “threat” from the EDL feller. I don’t think it need be, any more than I thought Muslim “community leaders” saying that if “we” didn’t get out of Iraq pronto we’d have terrorist attacks.

* MacDonald

/pedant

@27 Heh, you gotta love the “assuming he did it” part shoehorned in there as well. How quickly does your tinfoil hat arrive once you sign up to be a libertarian?

Plus big props on keeping up the libertarian news service 😉

FR,

Exactly–it’s good-cop, bad-cop routine. “If you listen to us, enact our favoured policies, and sign this confession, we can stop them hurting you again…” (Unfortunately for the murderer’s ideological allies, no one will take the LA any more seriously than unemployed football hooligans from the EDL. What they need is a good-cop with a bit more cultural heft.)

33. Charles Wheeler

“Apart from being a mess of contradictions then”

Precisely. The difficulty of categorising Breivik only arises if you try to find some sort of consistency or coherence to his views. Most people’s ideas are riven with inconsistency – indeed, rigid consistency itself becomes a form of madness – why should this man be any different? His world view is a nonsense and his claims don’t add up. Perhaps it was the very frustration of not being able to form a pure vision that set him on the path to blind hatred.

34. Terrible But True

The problem with favouring any single ‘wing’ (assuming the definition is resolved, not easy when the position being taken in turn defines it, and others may dispute even that)) is failing to appreciate that erring any ‘way’ means only flying in circles. That applies as much to allying or decrying.

In this case, unsure if seeking to wield and/or grow power via the barrel of a gun is the sole preserve of any single, or definable neat entity, at least in terms of affiliation or empathy. Historically or currently.

When it comes to mass murder, the words and deeds of all sorts of folk, few lauded or well thought of subsequently, would seem to suggest that it is a pretty equal opportunity default across the board.

Hence my remaining intrigued by who deems whom acceptable, or not, when using terms such as ‘we’, ‘us’ and ‘them’.

I merely note ‘some’ from all sorts of ‘locations’ seem content with the possible values of conjuring loose associations to serve less than clearly centrist or even noble ethical positions.

Before anyone gets too far along the road of suggesting Breivik was, in any respect, a libertarian……

Libertarians are anti-racist, pro-immigration, pro-freedom of worship and, above all, anti- violence.

Once you’ve somehow squared those circles, I’ll accept Jim’s thesis that “one of yours went off on one”.

Paul:

No, the mere fact of committing mass murder does not automatically make someone a terrorist but it is nevertheless reasonable to call Breivik a terrorist even if you consider him to be insane.

Terrorism, in its most sense, is violence directed towards the civilian population and/or the institutions of civil society for political ends and that pretty much describes Breivik’s actions and motives to a tee.

That his political motivations are derived from a rather elaborate fantasy scenario and that his political goals are seemingly infeasible is neither here nor there. Sergay Nechayev, the 19th century Russian nihilist who was the first to refer to himself as a terrorist, hadn’t the least prospect of destabilising or overturning the Tsarist regime of the time but that doesn’t mean he wasn;t right to call himself a terrorist.

Most of the confusion and uncertainty surrounding the use of the terrorist tends to stem from political and legal expediency.

For obvious reasons, the state finds it convenient to exclude its own use of political violence against its citizenry from the working definition of terrorism – particular in relation to international law – despite the fact that is the original context in which the term was coined to descrived the actions of Robespierre’s Committee on Public Safety, during the Reign of Terror.

States’ also find it convenient to avoid or dispute the use of the terms terrorism and terrorist in relation to poltical violence perpetrated in other countries where that violence suits a state’s foreign policy interest and states also a vested interest in defining their own internal opponents as terrorists as this often makes it easier to justify the suspension or curtailment of civil liberties in addition to delegitimising their opponents.

In a sense this is no different to labelling Breivik ‘just a violent nut’.

Some people will do that for no better reason than it saves the bother of trying to understand his motives and how and why he could have acted as he did while convenienty placing him at a safe distance from the rest of society. If you’re going to call him ‘violent nut’ for that reasons then you might as well skip the allusion to his state of mind and go straight for the label ‘evil’ for all that either have any particular explanatory power.

For others, delegitimising Breivik by labelling him a ‘nut’ is a matter of necessity because, for all that they would never condone his actions they do condone and support large parts of his political world view and his ideological position and are, therefore, desperate to separate the two in the hope of being able to continue to peddle their own extreme agenda.

pagar,

The Norwegian butcher is to ordinary libertarians and conservatives what “Islamist” terrorists are to ordinary liberals and leftists.

38. Shatterface

Arguing whether he’s a terrorist or a nutcase is ultimately as pointless as arguing which is the front face of a Necker Cube.

An act can be both political and psychopathic. The distinction is an illusion brought on by a shift in perspective.

39. Shatterface

‘Libertarians are anti-racist, pro-immigration, pro-freedom of worship and, above all, anti- violence.’

They are anti-coersion by definition, if not necessarily in practice.

Your bang on FR, really you are. Two days ago I had the same argument with a UKIP voting, EDL sympathiser mate of mine. He was all full of condemnation for the attacks, followed by a swift ….but…then it would be followed up by ‘well we aint been listened so what do you expect.’ I kept pointing out that he never allowed the muslims that ground for manoeuvre, that he always expected the muslim community as a whole to condem horrendus acts like the 7/7 attacks or the madrid train bombs with no excuses taped on at the end…It must be great to be right-wing, you not only get to condem the actions of a right-wing fucknut, but at the same time get to have a go at the left for ‘creating’ these situations where a right wing fucknut can gun down innocent people. So you can have your cake and eat it.

@21: “I may have said this before, but someone who cites Edmund Burke and John Stuart Mill as inspirations for murdering children is really not somebody whose political analysis either deserves or merits serious consideration.”

As I recall, during the Cuban revolution in the late 1950s, Fidel Castro was quoted in international media as a diligent reader of JS Mill, a story he promoted to disguise his Marxist intentions so as to deceive the CIA.

It would be as well if there were a clear consensus view on the essential characteristics of the “far right”.

Try this entry in George Orwell’s research diary for his book: The Road to Wigan Pier on listening to a speech in March 1936 at a public meeting in Barnsley, Yorkshire, by Oswald Mosley, founder of the British Union of Fascists (BUF):

“Last night to hear Mosley speak at the Public Hall [in Barnsley], which is in structure a theatre. It was quite full – about 700 people I should say. About 100 Blackshirts on duty, with two or three exceptions weedy looking specimens, and girls selling Action etc. Mosley spoke for an hour and a half and to my dismay seemed to have the meeting mainly with him. He was booed at the start but loudly clapped at the end. Several men who tried to interject with questions were thrown out . . . one with quite unnecessary violence. . . . M. is a very good speaker. His speech was the usual clap-trap – Empire free trade, down with the Jew and the foreigner, higher wages and shorter hours all round etc. After the preliminary booing the (mainly) working class audience was easily bamboozled by M speaking as it were from a Socialist angle, condemning the treachery of successive governments towards the workers. The blame for everything was put upon mysterious international gangs of Jews who were said to be financing, among other things the British Labour Party and the Soviet. . . . M. kept extolling Italy and Germany but when questioned about concentration camps etc always replied ‘We have no foreign models; what happens in Germany need not happen here.’ . . . ”

George Orwell: The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters, Vol. 1 An Age Like This 1920-1940 (Penguin Books) p.230.

The key sentence is: “After the preliminary booing the (mainly) working class audience was easily bamboozled by M speaking as it were from a Socialist angle, condemning the treachery of successive governments towards the workers.”

Many years later, on 26 April 1968, Mosley wrote to The Times: “I am not and never have been a man of the right. My position was on the left and is now in the centre of politics.”

Mosley had been a Cabinet member of Ramsay Macdonald’s Labour government until he resigned in 1930 saying the government was doing too little to tackle rising unemployment. He founded the BUF in 1932.

Was Mosley right-wing or left-wing?

In my view the label is irrelevant, Im struggling to understand the point of the article?

“In my view the label is irrelevant, Im struggling to understand the point of the article?”

Absolutely – but the media, the BBC in particular – persist in referring to these horrific events as a manifestation of a resurgent far-right as though that label has some special connotations.

In the context, it makes sense to inquire as to the special characteristics of the far-right. Stalin was responsible for the murder of many millions and he approved a Friendship Treaty with Nazi Germany on 28 September 1939 when Britain and France were already at war with Germany. Does that mean Stalin qualifies for the label: far-right?

pagar,

The Norwegian butcher is to ordinary libertarians and conservatives what “Islamist” terrorists are to ordinary liberals and leftists.

I think that’s about right.

Your brain may suffer irreparable damage from trying to make sense out of his… “ideas”.

I don’t know it’s worth the bother.

46. Paul Newman

“One mans terrorist is another freedom fighter” eh , irrelevant here .You want to apply language in a sloppy way to make various political inferences yourself so don’t play the innocent Unity . Why else claim no-one disputes the term terrorist when Boris Johnson and Simons Jenkins both have in the last few days !Lets see what we would agree a terrorists is ,lets say the IRA .What have they got ?
1 Consistent and coherent aims
2 Wide support and outer rings of decreasing sympathy into the population
3 Political wings
3 Organisation, discipline
4 The ability to plan and fund campaigns of terror over long periods
5 A stable, and in some quarters at least, respected doctrine
6 A willingness to kill as a means of creating fear and thereby applying pressure

Not sure that the Norway nut ticks a single box. You can call him a terrorist if you like ,people call excrement art so why not ? I don`t see it myself.

47. Chaise Guevara

@ 37 vimothy

“The Norwegian butcher is to ordinary libertarians and conservatives what “Islamist” terrorists are to ordinary liberals and leftists.”

I’m not sure why “libertarian”, “liberal” or leftist” would be in there at all. More accurately:

“The Norwegian butcher is to ordinary Western conservatives what Islamist terrorists are to ordinary Muslim conservatives.”

That is, both take mainstream conservative views for their demographic, skew them into something extreme, add in a massive victim complex, and then use violence to further them. But liberals and libertarians connected to Islamic terrorists and Breivik? Nah.

48. Chaise Guevara

*And yes, there are surely plenty of radical or socialist terrorists, before you think I was trying to blame conservatism for all the sorrows of the world.

Was Mosley right-wing or left-wing?

I believe he also described himself as a centrist extremist.

Looking at the New Party he founded in 1931 (i.e. before the BUF) what is noticeable is that it attracted the left of the Tory Party (including a young Harold Macmillan!) and the right of the Labour Party. The SDP of its day.

But liberals and libertarians connected to Islamic terrorists and Breivik? Nah.

On Sunny’s methodology, John Stuart Mill was ‘linked’ to him.

51. Chaise Guevara

@ 50 Tim

“On Sunny’s methodology, John Stuart Mill was ‘linked’ to him.”

I take it Sunny dislikes JSM? Nothing like a mass murder to convince people to get the tar brushes out, is there?

Pagar @ 35

Once you’ve somehow squared those circles, I’ll accept Jim’s thesis that “one of yours went off on one”.

Sure thing, look at this piece of analysis.

The clue into Breivik’s motivation lies in what he actually did. Pagar @ 18

He was attacking the state of Norway itself- that is who he saw as his enemy and, if we are serious about trying to understand why he committed such a horrific crime, that needs to be our starting point. Pagar @ 18

Who do we know who believes that ‘the State’ are at the centre of everything that is wrong with the planet and in general, who believe that the Leftist State is the epitome of all evil in particular?

See that quacking, waddling, swiming bird over there? Looks like a duck
, what should we call it?

Libertarians are anti-racist, pro-immigration, pro-freedom of worship and, above all, anti- violence.

It is a bugger that no-one told them that, t before they plastered all their views that contradict all this on he internet.

I take it Sunny dislikes JSM?

I’ve no idea, but Breivik cited JSM in his ‘manifesto’, which appears to be enough.

@ 52:

“Who do we know who believes that ‘the State’ are at the centre of everything that is wrong with the planet and in general, who believe that the Leftist State is the epitome of all evil in particular?”

Plenty of people with violent ideologies attack their states. Not all of them are libertarians.

CG,

As you correctly identify, the terms “libertarian”, “conservative”, “liberal” and “leftist” are doing a lot of work there. Of course these are rather massive generalisations.

But I’m not claiming that the natural constituency of Al Qaeda is the centre-left, any more than the natural constituency of the mass-murdering Norwegian psycho is the centre-right. Rather, it’s that the relationship between them is analogous. Remember Deleuze and Guattari’s game in Mille Plateaux?

“But something very important transpires at the level of relationships. For natural history conceives of the relationships between animals in two ways: series and structure. In the case of series I say a resembles b, b resembles c, etc… This is exactly what theologians used to call an analogy of proportion. In the case of structure, I say a is to b as c is to d… This is an analogy of proportionality.”

Now, look at who plays good-cop to the Norwegian’s bad-cop in the press. Now look at who plays good-cop to “Islamist” terrorism–“a is to b as c is to d. Do you really think “c” is conservative Muslims?

@51: “I take it Sunny dislikes JSM? Nothing like a mass murder to convince people to get the tar brushes out, is there?”

From long experience, JS Mill is often regarded negatively both by those who like to be regarded as “left-wing” as well as those who like to claim impeccable “right-wing” credentials.

JSM’s essay on Liberty is considered an embarrassing political millstone:
http://www.utilitarianism.com/ol/one.html

57. Shatterface

‘Who do we know who believes that ‘the State’ are at the centre of everything that is wrong with the planet and in general, who believe that the Leftist State is the epitome of all evil in particular?’

Anarchists oppose the power of the State but I’m not sure even Harry’s Place has blamed Chomsky for the attack (yet) and I’m pretty sure Breivik doesn’t share much in common with Rocker on open borders or Emma Goldman on religion, the union movement or feminism.

@57 True. Though it’s worth bearing in mind that Jim was playing with the standards Pagar provided (ie that it was an attack on the State of Norway rather than say, an attack on a specific left-leaning political party), rather than what Anders with his “I hate cultural Marxists and Islam!” manifesto provided.

Also, as to the “liberal zones”, I imagine that in order to ensure that “cultural contamination” does not occur then the ‘sex in the city’ lifestyle would have ultimately ended up being extraordinarily similar to life in a concentration camp.

60. Richard W

I read the Anna Racoon post as implicitly blaming Norwegian society for his actions. Why do some people feel the need to blame the Norwegian state? Because within the mishmash of contradictory views that contribute to Breivik’s overall worldview are some social conservative views that they uncomfortably share. It can’t be nice to know for those people that they could have sat down last week with a future mass murderer and found common agreement on some social and political issues. Hence, the frantic distancing of blaming Norway itself.

Mr Breivik was not driven to mass murder by Norway’s social democracy. He committed mass motivated by a warped ideology from a hodgepodge of sources, that taken as a whole is quite incoherent.

pagar

” Libertarians are anti-racist, pro-immigration, pro-freedom of worship and, above all, anti- violence. ”

Genuine and consistent ones are all those things. However, the internet has spawned a breed of them who think being a reactionary authoritarian and libertarian are the same thing if one expresses anti-tax and anti-state views. Some of the comments on libertarian blogs by so-called libertarians are deeply illiberal and not that far removed from the tinfoil hat world of seeing the world through devious conspiracy theories. That type of libertarian are for limited government when the state are doing things that they do not like. However, their limited government views soon change when the state is abusing its power against people that they do not like in ways that they find pleasing.

61. Chaise Guevara

@ 55 vimothy

“Now, look at who plays good-cop to the Norwegian’s bad-cop in the press. Now look at who plays good-cop to “Islamist” terrorism–”a is to b as c is to d. Do you really think “c” is conservative Muslims?”

In fairness, this is probably down to perspective. In the UK, I’m sure you could claim that certain liberals play “good cop” to Islamic terrorism and certain conservatives are doing the same for Breivik. I’m assuming “good cop” here doesn’t mean anything close to “support” or “condone”, which I think is an accurate intepretation of your post.

Worldwide, however, I suspect both would find more “good cops” among members of their own religion – in Pakistan and Bible-Belt America, for example.

62. flyingrodent

I read the Anna Racoon post as implicitly blaming Norwegian society for his actions. Why do some people feel the need to blame the Norwegian state?

Precisely. It strikes me as odd – if I was a right-winger of any stripe, I’d be sprinting away from this story as fast as my legs could carry me, rather than sitting around mumbling You know, this guy might be a psycho, but he makes some interesting points. A lot of people doing the latter, and I mean a lot.

Were the suffragettes in Britain, who demonstrated, sometimes by means outside the law, for the extension of the franchise to include women, left-wing or righ-wing?

“Julie Gottlieb’s Feminine Fascism would disabuse them. Its brilliant analysis of the place of women in Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists does much to change our preconceptions. Where women played comparatively little part in the fascist movements of other European countries, more than 25 per cent of the BUF members were women, many of whom were prominent in the movement’s activities. All this, despite the macho image, so similar to that of continental fascism, displayed by the leader and by so many of his acolytes.”
http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?storyCode=157840&sectioncode=6

OTOH “Sylvia Pankhurst went the other way and became a founder of the Communist Party.”

Whatever else, evidently many leading suffragettes weren’t too keen on multi-party democracy.

64. flyingrodent

At least with the phone-hacking thing, the idiots defending Murdoch might have had some kind of political gain – an important propaganda outlet to defend, an opportunity to smear the mud about a bit in the hope some of it would stick to Piers Morgan, who they appear to regard as some species of socialist, for some reason.

With this, there’s nothing like that – just a bunch of angry sergeant major types shouting about how they’re being oppressed because, like, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to deport all the Muslims or with being the type of psycho who thinks the EUSSR want to gay up your kids, and so on.

CG, Yes, you read me correctly. I’m not familiar with the dynamic in other countries and so am not really qualified to comment, but in the spirit of rank amateurism, what the hell: I do not see, for example, Al Qaeda as a reactionary organisation, but a radical one, since they are fighting to overthrow the established order rather than to maintain it. Consequently, it is not clear to me that religious conservatives necessarily would provide triangulation support for AQ in media in traditionally Muslim countries. Say arguendo that SA is a fascist Islamic state. This then makes AQ Stalinists, perhaps. And of course I’m hardly the first person to note the essentially Marxist character of revolutionary Islam…

FR,

Surely you can be a bit more cynical than that!

If you were a right-winger, you would be trying to give the appearance of running away as fast as possible, while taking every opportunity to leverage up your position. Low and behold, that’s just what many people are doing.

As some chap who also knew a thing or two about the connection between mass-murder and politics once wrote, “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun”.

67. Leon Wolfson

@35 – I know plenty of American libertarians who are very much anti-religion, virulently so.

it’s worth bearing in mind that Jim was playing with the standards Pagar provided (ie that it was an attack on the State of Norway rather than say, an attack on a specific left-leaning political party)

The Labour party have been in power in Norway for generations and have therefore defined the Norwegian state and society, which is remarkably homogeneous.

” Libertarians are anti-racist, pro-immigration, pro-freedom of worship and, above all, anti- violence. ”

Genuine and consistent ones are all those things. However, the internet has spawned a breed of them who think being a reactionary authoritarian and libertarian are the same thing if one expresses anti-tax and anti-state views.

That’s absolutely true.

However I can’t stop reactionary right wing idiots mistakenly self-defining as libertarians- I’ll call them out whenever I hear them but it’s no different to conspiratorial lefties defining themselves as liberals.

I seem to remember that annoyed a few folk round here!!!!

XXX @ 54, Shatterface @ 57

Sure, lots of people attack the State with violence. The IRA attacked the British State in a few specific instances, the Brighton bombing various attacks on soldiers and, of course, the rocket attack on Downing Street. Many of their attacks were on random people who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, the Guildford pub bombings et al of those things. They did not attack the British State because they thought the very concept of the State was wrong, merely because they thought the British State’s policy on Ireland was wrong.

Berevik did not just plant a car bomb in a street like the IRA did, he went further than that. He did not even attack the Government of the day, either, he went further than even that. He specifically targeted the potential next generation of Labour activists. People who he described as ‘cultural Marxists’, people who he considers ‘the enemy’.

Cultural Marxists who run and have run the Country and the people who are likely to be running the State ten and twenty years from now are the enemy? Is that rhetoric a million miles from any Libertarian who pushes his blogg or even the nice, neat rows of responses to such posts? No, for me it is not too far away from that.

Here is the ‘smoking gun for me. Use Anna Racoon’s link as an example. No matter how much the Libertarians have attempted to distance themselves from Anders, they can NEVER completely do so and everyone, including Anna Racoon, so far has said things along the lines of ‘This guy was wrong BUT…’ and then blamed the Norwegian State and the Left for the fact that this poor lamb was driven to such extremes because the State…

…and there is where it gets confusing, because they then try and finish of the sentence ‘Norway’s Social Democracy is to blame, because…’ , it turns out they don’t really have a clue. They know that a Left Wing Government is at fault, but cannot really tell us why.

It appears to be the ‘best’ they can come up with is:

Never call racists, ‘racists’ or Lefties will die.
Multiculturalism will lead to terrorist attacks by those opposed to Multiculturalism.
Left Wing Government will lead to terrorism against it and the people who run it.
Political Correctness will lead to terrorist actions.

What kind of message is that? That is not the mesaage of people who want ‘freedom’ that is the message of some seriously self deluded people.

Is it too much to condemn the killings and then, just stop talking?

Pagar @ 68

The Labour party have been in power in Norway for generations and have therefore defined the Norwegian state and society, which is remarkably homogeneous.

And? You point?

I read the Anna Racoon post as implicitly blaming Norwegian society for his actions. Why do some people feel the need to blame the Norwegian state?

Let’s be clear. The only person to blame for the atrocity was the man who committed it but that does not mean that we cannot gain from an understanding of what motivated him.

Some say that is beyond understanding and that no attributed motivation makes sense, yet something prompted him to do it. And even though his motivations were irrational it’s as well we try to understand what they were, if only to try to prevent a recurrence.

Pagar @ 68

The Labour party have been in power in Norway for generations and have therefore defined the Norwegian state and society, which is remarkably homogeneous.

And? You point?

That an attack on the Norwegian government was the same thing as an attack on the Norwegian state and on Norwegian society as a whole.

Libertarians needn’t be anti-racist or pro-immigration. One could be racist yet agree that all people deserve freedom, and pro-immigration rights without believing it’s a good thing.

/pedant

74. Gareth Jones

It’s odd that you say that Timothy McVeigh was a known racist, because I recall at the time of his attacks being very surprised that in fact despite the fact that he apparently was intrigued by the Turner Diaries – he seemed to be very definitely not a racist. Do you actually have any evidence, apart from his mentioning the Turner Diaries, to suggest he was a racist?

If he wasn’t (and I don’t think he was), then he doesn’t look particularly similar to Anders Breivik. The only real similarities I see are that he was white, male and managed in a short space of time to kill a very large number of people.

Plenty of food for thought here. I’ll try and keep it relatively brief (and no doubt fail).

Ian 15: Indeed, as others have pointed out the same can be said for left-wing. Breivik himself included more or less every mainstream European political party of both left and right as a legitimate target in his “war”, including those whose leaders have recently been critical of multiculturalism, so linking even the more outspoken members of those parties with his thinking is categorically unfair and unhelpful. I even hesitate to associate him with the far right, mainly because like the far left it so splintered and riven by division. This is why I feel we need a new way of describing those on the far authoritarian right who deny they are racist but are monomaniacal in their obsession with Islam and how it’s set to dominate the world if we don’t stop immigration, deport Muslims, etc. They might well style themselves as “anti-jihadist” or similarly to how the EDL have as a street movement opposed to Islamic extremism, but their main problem is with Muslims as a homogeneous whole regardless of any association they might have with Islamism. As Breivik has demonstrated, while it’s perfectly legitimate to have worries and concerns about integration and even the spread of Sharia law, it’s when this is then combined with the conspiratorial world view that politicians are working against their own people for “cultural Marxism” or whatever other illusion that it reaches the point where individuals begin to think violence might be the answer. As has been suggested, if political Islam can and does lead to al-Qaida, then those like Fjordman whom Breivik drew so much inspiration from can equally turn their followers and supporters down the path towards terrorism.

Pagar and so on: While it’s undeniable that Breivik’s ultimate target was if not the Norwegian state then most certainly the country’s political establishment, I think that post on Anna Raccoon overlooks his hatred of Muslims almost completely in favour of blaming the supposedly stifling nature of social democracy. Regardless of most of his blithering about not being racist, I more than suspect that his loathing of Muslims is far more deep-seated and came first, before he began to blame “cultural Marxists” for what he saw as their coming domination. It could well be as he writes that he first became aware of this “conspiracy” with the NATO intervention in Bosnia, but it was the rise of this new far-right in the aftermath of 9/11 that’s most influenced his thinking and ultimately inspired his actions.

Moreover, his ideology is pan-European in scope rather than just based around a grievance with society in Norway. He regards the whole of the continent as destined to fall, and places a lot of blame for the imposition of multiculturalism on the European Union, when Norway isn’t even a member. While his anger is foremost targeted against the political class, he does also suggests targeting Muslims themselves; just as he was so keen to be seen as anti-racist, he knew that if he attacked a Mosque or an Islamic conference he’d have been completely dismissed as a just another in a long-line of those looking to wipe out the other. His act has caused so much soul-searching exactly because it has to be more deeply analysed than say, David Copeland’s nail bomb campaign which was classically neo-Nazi in its aims.

Much as I’m sympathetic towards the point that we shouldn’t indulge his actions by giving to much credence to the thinking behind it, it does give an insight into where the wider white nationalist/ultra far-right is heading. Much as I think Breivik will be a one-off in that no one is going to following directly in his footsteps, with the BNP in apparent terminal decline, it is going to be this favouring of culture over race as favoured by the EDL which will attract new followers. And with the hatred of Muslims not going to go away, there are always going to be these particularly unhinged individuals who convince themselves, with the help of like-minded others, that violence is the ultimate solution.

Gareth: He went on a KKK-sponsored march and wore a white power t-shirt, amongst other things. As I say though, it wasn’t the racism that motivated him ultimately but conspiracy theories alongside the Waco/Ruby Ridge raids which were much more important.

How the right wing nuts in the USA Republican party have made sure that the right wing nuts are not being investigated.

“CNN reports this week that terrorism experts are warning that the “threat of domestic terrorist attacks in the United States similar to last week’s fatal bombing and assault in Norway is significant and growing”:

The greatest threat of large-scale attacks come from individuals and small groups of extremists who subscribe to radical Islamic or far right-wing ideologies, said Gary LaFree, director of the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, or START. […]

Ackerman said nationally, law enforcement has been focused since the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon in 2001 on the threat of Islamic terrorism, even as the threat from domestic anti-government groups has been growing.

“Some people believe we have taken our eye off the ball when it comes to domestic right-wing extremists,” he said.

Sadly, the Department of Homeland Security reportedly isn’t taking these threats too seriously. Daryl Johnson, a former senior Department of Homeland Security domestic terror analyst, told the Southern Poverty Law Center last month that “there is just one person” at DHS who is focused on these issues. Why? Shortly after President Obama took office, DHS produced a report warning of the rise of right-wing extremism in the United States and that domestic extremists were looking to recruit Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.

However, the report was leaked and right-wing media figures and Republicans in Congress were outraged. “The person who drafted the outrageous homeland security memo smearing veterans and conservatives should be fired,” Newt Gingrich said at the time. Michelle Malkin called it a “DHS hit job on conservatives.” Bowing to the right-wing hysteria, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano eventually ordered the report withdrawn.

Johnson, who describes himself a Republican, said that after the controversy, DHS gutted his unit:

When the right-wing report was leaked and people politicized it, my management got scared and thought DHS would be scaled back. It created an environment where my analysts and I couldn’t get our work done. DHS stopped all of our work and instituted restrictive policies. Eventually, they ended up gutting my unit. […] Since our report was leaked, DHS has not released a single report of its own on this topic. Not anything dealing with non-Islamic domestic extremism—whether it’s anti-abortion extremists, white supremacists, “sovereign citizens,” eco-terrorists, the whole gamut.

“Sad to say, we were right on this one. History has shown that,” Johnson said, referring to the murder of abortion provider George Tiller and neo-Nazi James von Brunn who killed a security guard at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

@ 69:

Nothing I’ve seen about Anders Breivik indicates that he’s opposed to the existence of the state, or of big government, just the policies which the state is currently enacting. Just because some of his rhetoric might bear a superficial similarity to some libertarians’ rhetoric doesn’t make him a libertarian.

Priceless watching the trolls trying to tell us that he is not one of them.

78 @ XXX

Just because some of his rhetoric might bear a superficial similarity to some libertarians’ rhetoric doesn’t make him a libertarian.

But the person who wrote this, is a Libertarian:

http://libertarianalliance.wordpress.com/2011/07/24/the-political-ideas-of-anders-behring-breivik/

“There is certainly great revulsion at the murder of young people. However, I suppose it is possible that in the long run European elites will understand that the glorious multicultural future will not be attained without a great deal of bloodletting (including themselves and, as in this case, their children) and realize they will have to change their ways”.

H/t to flying Rodent.

Read that for a second and tell me that does not constitute the views of a Libertarian attempting to defend or even outright justify terrorism?

Shorter version. Carry on with multiculturalism and you kids will die.

The thing is, at what point do the camp followers of this movement become the actual movment. For too long we have heard every nutter who happens to call himself a Libertarian, being held at arms lenght as ‘not a true Libertarian’, yet those are the voices we hear loudest and longest.

81. Chaise Guevara

@ 80 Jim

“Read that for a second and tell me that does not constitute the views of a Libertarian attempting to defend or even outright justify terrorism?”

Yes, it does, but it also constitutes the the views of a racist. As libertarianism has nothing negative to say about multiculturalism, then he’s obviously not speaking as a libertarian there, but as a racist. The fact that he’s a libertarian doesn’t mean he suddenly loses all other personality traits and opinions.

Analogy: I am a liberal. I also like strawberry ice-cream. But those two facts don’t demonstrate that liberals are all about strawberry ice cream.

@81 I’ll think you’ll find we bloody well are.

Chaise @ 81

then he’s obviously not speaking as a libertarian there, but as a racist.

But they are not mutually exclusive tough, Chaise, in fact the more you read these Libertarian (large ‘L’ in the political sense) bloggs you see ant Multicultural attitudes shining through. Look at Anna Racoon’s piece and look at the comments part. Pretty unpleasant.

BTW the quote I extracted was not about ‘race’ but more about multiculturalism and I quoted it because it appears to justify or condone the type of terrorism we have seen in Norway.

84. Charlieman

I suppose, Scepicisle, we have to assume that politics changes and that Breivik is one example of new far right politics.

There is no organisation of note that mimics the politics of the British Union of Fascists. The BNP has put itself through many ideological re-embodiments but it cannot escape its BUF/UK Nazi party roots; it is an outlier because its past is so close to its current identity. The EDL, however, is part of the new far right.

It is unhelpful to apply historical labels to the new far right. Circumstances and arguments have changed so it makes no sense to try to define Breivik as a fascist. Fascism, as a useful label, applies to political movements in some European countries in the 1930s and subsequent attempts to revive them. However, fascism is not a useful label to describe far right politicians in Spain, Portugal, Argentina etc; all of them had significant differences from Italian fascism.

I’ve yet to actually encounter a libertarian who didn’t match up with Richard W’s description of the internet variety @60. That includes “states rights” Ron Paul.

86. Paul Newman

Libertarianism and Conservatism ally only against the progressive left who, through their grip on the establishment have tried to exclude all other views. More deeply the fight against collectivism throughout the 20th century united conservatives and Libertarians inhabiting individualist territory abandoned by the pliably pink Liberals The philosophical tectonic plates collide though , over Europe , for example.
I would prefer immigration were kept to manageable numbers and the elite abandoned its effort to deny the ethnically English any special place in England. I see nothing Liberating in mutual incomprehension or replacing poetry with mental esperanto . It is yet another area in which the question”…so where did you send your kids to school then…” lifts a rock on nauseating hypocritical cant.
Either way , what this has to do with eugenic theories long since abandoned is anyone’s guess. Presumably the idea is to draw some long attenuated line between aspects of Conservatism and genocide. Possible I suppose as it is possible drawing a line between a healthy sex life and a rapist. True , they both include sex, but the malign stupidity required is so extreme, as to be sick, damaging and morally corrupt ( if anyone took it seriously ).

Have you met Jim ?

Paul,

The problem is the world that you describe does not exist. Nobody is preventing you from expressing your views. You come on here every day and express your views. Virtually all the seats of power in England are dominated by the white English, usually male. You are not oppressed. Who is this progressive left establishment that you speak about? Business? The City? Parliament? the police? the media? That is who dominates British power. What you appear to want is for your views to dominate and everyone else to agree with your views and to discard their own.

@86 Were you shitfaced when you wrote that? Bloody meandered everywhere it did.

89. Chaise Guevara

@ 83 Jim

“But they are not mutually exclusive tough, Chaise”

No, not at all – I’m just saying that proving one libertarian has racist attitudes doesn’t really reflect on libertarians as a whole.

“BTW the quote I extracted was not about ‘race’ but more about multiculturalism and I quoted it because it appears to justify or condone the type of terrorism we have seen in Norway.”

True, but where people raise the concept of “multiculturalism” (as opposed to one specifically dangerous culture that worries them) as a political spectre, that generally means that they’re a) racist, b) religious bigots, c) ridiculous cultural snobs or d) a combination of the above. The strong implication behind complaining about multiculturalism is “these people are not like me, and that is bad”.

90. Chaise Guevara

@ 86 Paul Newman

“Libertarianism and Conservatism ally only against the progressive left who, through their grip on the establishment have tried to exclude all other views.”

Source please? Preferably not the Daily Mail or Timecube.

91. Terrible But True

’79. Priceless watching the trolls trying to tell us that he is not one of them.’

As I remain a bit unsure, especially now, who is ‘us’ and who is ‘them’, any hint as to who you believe the trolls to be?

Plus a definition of trolling that goes beyond ‘folk who don’t share my views’ would be a help. Mine’s ‘folk who contribute zippy but inject pointless one liners to try and distract the flow of a discussion’.

I may not agree with some here, but overall the debate seems to have been pretty civilised and stimulating, not to mention educational, if inconclusive in resolving the title question.

92. Chaise Guevara

@ 91 Terrible but True

“As I remain a bit unsure, especially now, who is ‘us’ and who is ‘them’, any hint as to who you believe the trolls to be?”

Sally is a troll whose primary method of trolling is to accuse everyone she disagrees with of being a troll (and a Tory and “brownshirt” to boot). Seriously, ignore her. Things like courtesy and rationality slide off her like water off a duck’s back.

93. Terrible But True

92. Chaise Guevara

Oh, I see. Tx.

On your seeking sources in support of contentions there is of course great merit in substantiation, which I applaud.

However, as is very evident, this seems to be a highly debated topic with no clear ‘facts’ in support of any opinion (that have swayed me so far, anyway).

So it would be a pity, when I have read more insights of value here on this topic than most anywhere across the entire MSM diaspora, to find the discussion up an alley that hinges on how the audience rates a medium overall. Tribal comfort zones seem to serve only those in the tribe and inflame those not, unless scrupulously objective.

I don’t subscribe to the DM but do on occasion access online pieces (if usually brought to attention by newspaper reviews on broadcast news, ironically). On the whole its reputation seems deserved. However, I would still judge and hence value a factually sound piece from there over one that has been ‘shaped’ to suit the worldviews even some respected broadsheets can portray.

Of course, the odds of almost any topic not being ‘shaped’ to suit editorial, in turn shaped to suit the audience, are not high. Hence the value of seeking multiple sources to try and arrive at a hopefully reasonably accurate assessment of what ‘is’, vs. what others feel it necessary that others in turn ‘feel it should be’.

94. Chaise Guevara

@ 93 Terrible But True

As far as stuff like the DM goes, it’s not that I dismiss it entirely as a source, but rather that I wouldn’t give it the benefit of the doubt, especially when an article seems to support a traditional conservative agenda and/or presents a suspiciously sensational story. It’s a useful source for non-political news and for links to real studies and articles.

Multiple sources are generally the way to go.

He’s a fascist. He’s also a protestant fundamentalist and a racist and a nationalist and a lot of other things. Perhaps trying to use just one-word labels (so central to media reporting) is distorting the view.

96. Terrible But True

’94. Chaise Guevara’

No argument on any count. Sorry to have taken otherwise.

CG,

What kind of evidence would you accept as proof of Paul Newman’s proposition?

98. Chaise Guevara

@ 96 Terrible but True

No worries dude.

99. Chaise Guevara

@ 97 vimothy

“What kind of evidence would you accept as proof of Paul Newman’s proposition?”

Proof? It’s probably not really provable, as proving it would be reliant on everyone accepting your definition of terms like “progressive left”. Hence I wasn’t demanding proof.

However: if someone was using definitions of these terms I would accept, and could provide widespread, corroborated reports of people being prevented from publishing these views, while I was unable to do the same for people being prevented from publishing contrary views, and the general state of government- and media reported opinion was obviously much to the left of public opinion, then you’d have a very solid case.

As it is, the existence of the Sun, the Mirror, the Mail, the Express, the Times and the Telegraph sorta show that Paul’s talking out of his arse.

@99 CG

Spot on Chaise! There’s nothing funnier than some obscurantist nutter pitching up here and expecting us to seriously entertain their “pet” theory that the worl is in thrall to the progressive left. If only! 😉

Chaise,

Well it seems suspiciously easy to disprove given that it is impossible to prove, but in any case, let me observe how conservative the Britain of 1961 was compared to the Britain of today. It seems self-evident, so presumably you agree that this is so. How, then, do you explain our progressive shift towards a more liberal society? And, given these changes, how has our “establishment” (in the institutional sense) inured itself to their influence, and exactly WTF has it been doing in the meantime?

102. flyingrodent

How, then, do you explain our progressive shift towards a more liberal society?

People, innit?

I mean, how do you explain the fact that we don’t burn witches any more, or rustle each others’ cattle?

But aren’t our institutions also made of people? And since people are no longer big burners of witches, or rustlers of cattle, I don’t think it would be that absurd to say the same thing about our institutions.

If one were to say “our institutions are controlled by people who don’t believe that witches should be burnt at the stake”, this might be rather odd, possibly more the sort of thing a crazy would mumble into his can of spesh than an academic publish in Political Science Quarterly, but it is not, as far as I can see, a claim that is false.

104. Chaise Guevara

@ 101 Vimothy

“Well it seems suspiciously easy to disprove given that it is impossible to prove, but in any case, let me observe how conservative the Britain of 1961 was compared to the Britain of today. It seems self-evident, so presumably you agree that this is so. How, then, do you explain our progressive shift towards a more liberal society?”

A number of factors, nearly all of which point to increased understanding among the overall population. Education is better. Science has had another 50 years to develop. Liberal developments have had time to be tested and not found wanting. This at least partly explains our more liberal attitudes towards things like race, class, gender, sexuality, crime and punishment, nationalism. There’s also the fact that as the 20th centure has continued, society has taken democracy more and more for granted – and democracy comes with all kinds of assumed principles, a major one being equality.

“And, given these changes, how has our “establishment” (in the institutional sense) inured itself to their influence, and exactly WTF has it been doing in the meantime?”

I don’t follow. Why would institutions “inure” themselves to the changing trends of society?

Chaise,

If society has become more progressive, then I would assume that the institutions that society uses to regulate itself have also become more progressive–otherwise, I want to know why, how, who, and so on. Hence my questions.

In other words, you agree that society has more liberal, but as our social institutions are “of” society by definition, this implies that you agree that they have become more liberal too. If you in fact disagree, as you disagreed with Paul Newman, then I am interested as to your reasoning.

“The gubbermint won’t let us burn witches no more!” I mean, the sentiment of a madman, perhaps, but no less true for all that–the gubbermint really won’t let us burn witches no more. “A world gone to hell,” shreiks the Inquisitorial Times. Hell maybe, but gone: definitely.

106. Chaise Guevara

@ 105 Vimothy

“In other words, you agree that society has more liberal, but as our social institutions are “of” society by definition, this implies that you agree that they have become more liberal too. If you in fact disagree, as you disagreed with Paul Newman, then I am interested as to your reasoning.”

Of course they’ve become more liberal. That’s got nothing to do with Newman’s rather delusional claims.

Here’s that quote again: “Libertarianism and Conservatism ally only against the progressive left who, through their grip on the establishment have tried to exclude all other views.”

You seem to think, if I read you right, that a general historical trend towards liberalism by people and institutions (as we agree has occurred) argues for a nightmarish scenario where all non-progressive-left views are silenced by the evil establishment. If so, I think you need to explain YOUR reasoning, because there’s a gap in between the two concepts roughly the size of Yorkshire. If not, I apologise, but then I really don’t get what point you’re trying to make.

The fact that criminal sentences, for example, are far more lenient now than they were half a century ago does not mean that the establishment is actively silencing those who want jail terms increased.

107. Flowerpower

Chaise @ 106

I think PN has a point. The libertarian right and liberal conservatives tend to opt for an easy-going pluralism and have at times proved willing to die in a ditch to defend the free speech even of those they disagree with.

By contrast, progressives seek to marginalize or obliterate all forms of expression that deviate from their own line – you see it all the time in the Academy. The most obvious expression of this is surely “political correctness”, for which there is no right-wing equivalent.

Well, if you agree that our institutional structure is liberal, then the issue is really a question of how this character is maintained. It is certainly not maintained–again, I think this self-evident–by facilitating its dissolution via the promotion of entryist reactionary elements.

You seem to suggest that it is mere coincidence that liberalism is ascendant, and nothing to with liberals or liberalism per se. Rather like Douglas Adams’ disinterested galactic president, liberalism didn’t want power, but, after much protest, agreed to shoulder the burden for the good of all. To which I can only say, hmm, in the Big Rock Candy Mountain, anything is possible, I guess, but political economy much?

Flowerpower,

That there is no right-wing equivalent reflects only the relative disparity of influence and has nothing to do with any essential nobleness or gentleness of the conservative soul, IMO. If conservatives were able, of course they’d love to vanquish liberals to the third circle of hell. If they did not want to win, they would not bother to play. What you see is when you compare conservatives to liberals is the ineptitude of the former, not their beatitude.

110. Chaise Guevara

@ 107 Flowerpower

Political correctness? OK, if you use certain terms, people will criticise you for it. That’s freedom of speech, my friend. Sometime you might feel they are justified, sometimes not, but you have as much right to argue the toss as they do.

For example, let’s say I use the word “manual” and someone tells me that the word is sexist and I shouldn’t use it. That doesn’t gag me, it just gives me a great excuse to get pedantic about etymology.

As for the right having no equivalent… I’m sorry, but that’s nonsense. What about pro-war activists who shout down pacifists as “hating our troops”? What about the fact that, every bloody time I try to explain why a rehabilitative approach to crime and punishment might be a good idea, someone screeches that “I care more about criminals than their victims”? Or the people who accuse me of “self-hatred” because I’m not mindlessly nationalistic?

The right and the left both have thought-terminating, brainless cliches that they use to try to shout down opposition and demand that their own prejudices be accepted as the basis of the conversation. So drop the victim complex.

111. Chaise Guevara

@ 108 vimothy

“You seem to suggest that it is mere coincidence that liberalism is ascendant, and nothing to with liberals or liberalism per se. Rather like Douglas Adams’ disinterested galactic president, liberalism didn’t want power, but, after much protest, agreed to shoulder the burden for the good of all. To which I can only say, hmm, in the Big Rock Candy Mountain, anything is possible, I guess, but political economy much?”

Vimothy, you started out really reasonable and now you’ve suddenly started throwing straw men all over the place. It’s depressing.

No, I don’t think it’s coincidental – from the POV of Britain in the 1960s, the trends I listed (scientific development, etc) correlated with the advancement of many liberal views for the very good reason that many of those liberal views turned out to be right. Education especially is an interesting one: in Britain, lack of education seems to correlate strongly with conservativism. I personally believe that’s because many traditional conservative views really are ill-thought-out or based on ignorance; you may disagree or even reject the whole premise.

Secondly: of course liberals want liberals to be in power. We all have different opinions about how much power should be in the hands of one person or organisation, but we all want our own side to have the upper hand. If you believed in something, why wouldn’t you want to see it enacted?

I’m still waiting for the bit where you explain how this proves the massive establishment conspiracy to silence all right-wingers, especially considering the sheer weight of the evidence all around you.

112. Chaise Guevara

*evidence TO THE CONTRARY all around you. My bad.

Also, “Freedom Fries”, Joe McCarthy’s blacklists and Red Baiting, Union Busting, etc, etc…

114. Chaise Guevara

@ 113

You’ve reminded me of RedWatch too. “If we don’t like someone’s views, we get their photo and put it on this online hate list for, you know, totally innocent purposes that have nothing to do with personal intimidation.”

Chaise,

No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!

When I say “coincidence” I mean the idea that there is no relationship between the way that liberals monopolise power (or choose not to), and the fact that they have power; or equivalently that the proposition that the fact that liberals have power in no way implies that liberals monopolise power.

You say, or seem to, that liberals have power not because they took it and hold it but because it is a better description of reality, agrees with science and so on. The ascent of liberalism is the result of the march of progress, and not politics.

You have also said, or implied, it seems to me, that nothing could prove this wrong. But for myself, I am so suspicious of political movements that simply to state it in those terms is to reject it for that reason. Here we obviously have quite different evidentiary standards. There is no disputing matters of taste, as the Romans said.

Liberals are the dominant political force in our society because they took power and hold it, not because they’re nice people or because they’re smarter than conservatives or because they have a more objective description of reality (although, in my experience, all three are often more true than false). And you don’t hold power by giving it away to your enemies. If liberals didn’t realise this, on some level, they never would have got into power in the first place. Thus a (political-economic) selection process ensures that only political movements who behave like the other political movements can dominate the scene.

I’m not proposing the existence of some tawdry conspiracy that aims to prevent right-wingers from publishing their banal screeds in the Daily Mail (or whatever). I’m saying that society is a machine that produces itself–continuously. If society is liberal, then that is what it produces. It’s just Cultural Hegemony 101.

So you observe that those with more education tend to be more liberal. I agree. But I also note that your explanation tends to flatter liberals. Are you yourself well-educated? This may not be a coincidence either. Of course another explanation is that education is an institution that aims to inculcate society’s values in its young. Since society is liberal, and education is liberal, the product of education in a liberal society is… more liberals!

As to you second point, you may notice that I have already agreed with this in my comment @109.

Chaise, I forgot the biggie: “You’re either with us or against us”. Which is pretty much the *definition* of PC…

117. Richard W

107. Flowerpower

” I think PN has a point. The libertarian right and liberal conservatives tend to opt for an easy-going pluralism and have at times proved willing to die in a ditch to defend the free speech even of those they disagree with. ”

Flowerpower, were you not around in the 1980s when we were treated to the absurdity of actor voice-overs for Sinn Fein and Loyalist broadcasts? What about denying miners their freedom of association by stopping them traveling to other parts of the country? Did you really not notice who was running the country?

@ Chaise

There’s also the fact that as the 20th centure has continued, society has taken democracy more and more for granted – and democracy comes with all kinds of assumed principles, a major one being equality.

And there’s the rub. Because the notion that human beings are all equal, or of equal value, flies in the face of reality.

People have different levels of intelligence, physical attributes, standards of upbringing etc but the liberal/leftist value system demands that they are treated as if they are all equal- they must have equal pay, equal rights, equal status etc.

There is also a strand which states that all views and values are of equal value, except those that challenge the ideology.

And as Breivik correctly deduced, the solution, in a social democratic system is to suppress reality (by means of controlling speech, thought and deed) as the possibility that reality doesn’t match the ideology cannot be entertained.

“Misogynist, racist, homophobic and xenophobic comments will be deleted.”

@118 pagar

I always took you for a fool, but in the words of Ford Prefect about planet earth, relatively harmless… now I’m not so sure.

Given all that has happened, after no doubt reading or hearing about some of the crazed outpourings of Breivik’s 1500 page vomitus, and on the day of some of the first funerals of his victims, you have the lack of empathy to come on here and pontificate about the fact that Breivik “correctly deduced, the solution, in a social democratic system is to suppress reality (by means of controlling speech, thought and deed) as the possibility that reality doesn’t match the ideology cannot be entertained”?

It’s quite obvious you have no shame pager…. it is now distressingly obvious that you are so blinded by your ideological blinkers that you have no conscience either.

@ 111:

“Education especially is an interesting one: in Britain, lack of education seems to correlate strongly with conservativism. I personally believe that’s because many traditional conservative views really are ill-thought-out or based on ignorance; you may disagree or even reject the whole premise.”

I think that’s probably true in some cases (e.g., homophobia); however, I also think it’s the case that rapid societal change tends to affect poorer — and hence, on average, less well-educated — people more (e.g., mass immigration), which is also likely to be a significant factor.

121. Richard W

I grew up in Scotland in the 1960-70 period. The kids swings in public parks were chained up on a Sunday to prevent the kids playing on them during the sabbath. The absurdity of the council employing someone to go around on a Saturday evening chaining and padlocking swings defies belief. Not much chance of drowning their sorrows in the pub either, since they were not allowed to open on a Sunday.

I can’t see how a libertarian could have supported those restrictions. Moreover, a conservative would surely have seen it as unnecessary state regulation. I can see how a member of the Lord’s Day Observance Society would be pissed that those restrictions are no longer imposed. It was not so much the ascendancy of liberalism that changed those things, than the defeat of idiocy.

“Education especially is an interesting one: in Britain, lack of education seems to correlate strongly with conservativism. I personally believe that’s because many traditional conservative views really are ill-thought-out or based on ignorance; you may disagree or even reject the whole premise.”

Why do you think conservatives hate libraries? Conservatives want to keep the average person stupid. If you don’t believe me, go to somewhere like Alabama. The hicks are a thick as shit, and that is the way the conservatives like it. And corporate America spends a fortune keeping it like that.

123. Chaise Guevara

@ vimothy

“Liberals are the dominant political force in our society because they took power and hold it, not because they’re nice people or because they’re smarter than conservatives or because they have a more objective description of reality (although, in my experience, all three are often more true than false). And you don’t hold power by giving it away to your enemies. If liberals didn’t realise this, on some level, they never would have got into power in the first place. Thus a (political-economic) selection process ensures that only political movements who behave like the other political movements can dominate the scene.

I’m not proposing the existence of some tawdry conspiracy that aims to prevent right-wingers from publishing their banal screeds in the Daily Mail (or whatever). I’m saying that society is a machine that produces itself–continuously. If society is liberal, then that is what it produces. It’s just Cultural Hegemony 101.”

“Society is a machine that produces itself” – very well put, and a big part of what I was trying to say. But I don’t think that precludes the idea that liberality is on the rise because it’s more rational. In fact, I suspect they’re part of the same circle: more rationality means more liberality, means more rationality means more liberality.

Of course, this is just because “liberal” is the word that describes opposition to the irrational, “conservative” ways of thought that used to predominate. It doesn’t mean that you can just keep making things more rational and expect a continuous shift towards liberalism. Liberalism can be irrational too, it’s just that conservatism is far more guilty of this at present.

“So you observe that those with more education tend to be more liberal. I agree. But I also note that your explanation tends to flatter liberals. Are you yourself well-educated? This may not be a coincidence either.”

Well, if I didn’t think liberals were in the right, I wouldn’t be one.And I reckon you could provide good evidence (again not proof, due to potentially sloppy definitions) that intelligence and factual education tend to make people more liberal.

“Of course another explanation is that education is an institution that aims to inculcate society’s values in its young. Since society is liberal, and education is liberal, the product of education in a liberal society is… more liberals!”

Likely a factor. But not a strong one – considering how much people kick off about politics and the classroom as it is, even when the policy they object to, such as sex ed, is a demonstrably sensible one, I think people in general are on guard against serious indoctrination, at least in state school. But yes, the general prejudices of the era will shine through.

Why do you think conservatives hate libraries?

Hahaha!

125. Chaise Guevara

@ 118 pagar

“And there’s the rub. Because the notion that human beings are all equal, or of equal value, flies in the face of reality.

People have different levels of intelligence, physical attributes, standards of upbringing”

Ah yes, the “OMG my arms are longer than his” offensive. People have been raising this straw man for hundreds of years, but if I really have to spell it out: equal rights and opportunies, Pagar, not some fantasy world where everyone is identical or all our differences add up to the same value.

126. Chaise Guevara

@ 120 XXX

“I think that’s probably true in some cases (e.g., homophobia); however, I also think it’s the case that rapid societal change tends to affect poorer — and hence, on average, less well-educated — people more (e.g., mass immigration), which is also likely to be a significant factor.”

Yes – and please don’t think my point was meant to be exhaustive. I was asked to come up with a suggested explanation and went with the best theory that occurred to me.

As far as mass immigration goes, I think it’s sometimes true that those opposed are closet bigots, and sometimes true that those in favour are protected from and unaware of the impact on other people. The mistake we make is in arguing over WHICH is true, instead of admitting they’re both factors.

Chaise @ 123:

“Liberalism can be irrational too, it’s just that conservatism is far more guilty of this at present.”

Not so sure about that, really. It’s true that there’s more conservative irrationality in, say, the media, but I think this is largely due to the fact that conservative newspapers are more numerous and have larger readerships than liberal ones. The Guardian and Mirror are certainly capable of publishing large amounts of left-wing irrationality.

@ 126:

“As far as mass immigration goes, I think it’s sometimes true that those opposed are closet bigots, and sometimes true that those in favour are protected from and unaware of the impact on other people. The mistake we make is in arguing over WHICH is true, instead of admitting they’re both factors.

Oh, I wasn’t meaning to suggest that both can’t be true, just to suggest another possible cause. Sorry if it came across that way.

Re: Britain becoming more liberal, I suppose that the increasing homogoneity of British politicians, especially at senior levels, might have a part to play, given that a lot of them come from backgrounds more likely to be socially liberal.

I wonder, too, if increasing affluence might have played a part. So, as society got wealthier in the 50s and 60s, young people (who are, in general, more likely to try and push societal boundaries) became a more lucrative market than before, leading companies to target more products at them, in turn making the idea of pushing boundaries and rebelling against authority more mainstream, as it were.

128. Charlieman

@115. vimothy: “Liberals are the dominant political force in our society because they took power and hold it, not because they’re nice people or because they’re smarter than conservatives or because they have a more objective description of reality (although, in my experience, all three are often more true than false). And you don’t hold power by giving it away to your enemies.”

Have you not noticed recent campaigns that draw liberal support? Liberals support electoral reform, a system that arguably makes it more difficult for any political force or party to dominate. Then there is freedom of information, that all forms of government should be open. Or that our police should be scrutinised in public.

I think that you are missing one of the points about genuine liberalism. It is about exposing political culture to change. And liberals have to be willing to accept the conservative knocks alongside the liberal gains. Anyone who claims to be a liberal but constructs barriers to democratic change is not a liberal.

It is obviously too soon to declare with authority how Norway will respond to the recent political crimes. However the response in Sweden to the assassination of Olaf Palme 25 years ago should give us a few clues: Sweden stayed culturally liberal and people did not make massive changes to their lifestyles.

129. Charlieman

@127. XXX: “I wonder, too, if increasing affluence might have played a part. So, as society got wealthier in the 50s and 60s, young people…”

Young people in the 1950s were almost guaranteed a job, but in the first half of the decade they didn’t have many ways to spend their pay packets. There were few consumer goods and they lived with mum and dad until they became married. That started to change in the second half of the 1950s, but “never had it so good” was more of a prediction than an accurate assessment of the times.

Expectations changed in the 1960s and I would say that further/higher education was the dominant factor. Of course, we couldn’t have had the education influx if the UK was not getting richer.

To be useful, education and research demand a liberal culture. Educators have to be liberal enough to present ideas with which they disagree. Researchers have to challenge the consensus and investigate things that they do not like. These are not arguments that exclude conservatives or Leninists from participation; a liberal culture has space for those who oppose it.

Similarly public broadcasters demand a liberal culture. How else could the BBC employ such different thinkers as Nick Robinson and Paul Mason?

@ Gallen

It’s quite obvious you have no shame pager…. it is now distressingly obvious that you are so blinded by your ideological blinkers that you have no conscience either.

Ahh, Gallen.

The apologist for our war on Libya.

You worry about your conscience and I’ll worry about mine. OK?

131. Nathaniel Mathews

T

132. Charlieman

Andrew Brons, BNP MEP, worked as an FE lecturer in a UK college for thirty odd years. He participated in the liberal culture of further education; sadly for all, he has not changed his opinions, but he is proof that there is space for Nazis.

133. Chaise Guevara

@ 127 XXX

“Not so sure about that, really. It’s true that there’s more conservative irrationality in, say, the media, but I think this is largely due to the fact that conservative newspapers are more numerous and have larger readerships than liberal ones. The Guardian and Mirror are certainly capable of publishing large amounts of left-wing irrationality.”

Yeah, that’s fair enough. It’s easy enough to come up with ideas for liberal irrationality, it’s just that you don’t hear about them so often. That could easily be down to the media.

“Oh, I wasn’t meaning to suggest that both can’t be true, just to suggest another possible cause. Sorry if it came across that way.”

It didn’t! As a matter of fact, when I wrote that I was making sure you realised I wasn’t making the mistake of presuming there was only one cause. So I guess we can consider one another to be aware of the concept of multiple causes…

“Re: Britain becoming more liberal, I suppose that the increasing homogoneity of British politicians, especially at senior levels, might have a part to play, given that a lot of them come from backgrounds more likely to be socially liberal.”

I’d say that was more effect than cause, but it will be partly a cause too. Overall, politicians reflect the public (in terms of what the politicians say, not what they are), but the public will reflect politicians to an extent.

“I wonder, too, if increasing affluence might have played a part. So, as society got wealthier in the 50s and 60s, young people (who are, in general, more likely to try and push societal boundaries) became a more lucrative market than before, leading companies to target more products at them, in turn making the idea of pushing boundaries and rebelling against authority more mainstream, as it were.”

Weeelll… that’s certainly a trend in media such as advertising (“Be unique! Buy Unique Deodrant like all the other cool unique dudes!”), but I don’t think it has much to do with the liberal/conservative thing. Young people always want to be rebels; I’m still young enough to find the concept rather attractive. I think this has more to do with marketers, film-makers etc finally realising that there was a lot of money to be made out of telling kids that they’re rebels.

Chaise,

I think you are on to something linking liberalism and rationalism. It’s just that the concept of rationalism needs a bit of unpacking. Since I am also the product of a lot of liberal education, I get a warm tingly feeling up my inside thigh at the mere mention of the word. But, not to get all Godwin on ya, I seem to recall that we hit a few speed bumps on our ineluctable teleological trajectory towards the City of Light. Is there something in rationalism that produces all this chaos and death, or has there just been a lot of it going round recently? 😉

De Tocqueville, writing of the French revolution:

“Every public passion was thus wrapped up in philosophy; political life was violently driven back into literature, and writers–taking in hand the direction of opinion, found themselves for a moment taking the place that party leaders usually hold in free countries… Above the real society… there was slowly built an imaginary society in which everything seemed simple and coordinated, uniform, equitable, and in accord with reason. Gradually the imagination of the crowd deserted the former to concentrate on the latter. One lost interest in what was, in order to think about what could be, and one finally lived mentally in that ideal city the writers had built.”

A project that starts with the guillotine, and passes through the gas chambers and the Gulag might not be an unmitigated good thing. And I’m not saying that simply because they like strawberry ice-cream, we must like strawberry ice-cream–but I mean, don’t we, a bit? Not to deny the considerable upsides that have developed during this period, but progress hasn’t been without its problems.

Charliemann,

It’s not about which party is in power, it’s about the totality–the whole Weltanschauung, and everything else. Where does this totality come from? It certainly comes from somewhere. The essential thing is that no one in any of these liberal institutions does anything inconsistent with the nature and character of the institutions themselves. All the petty tribalism common to humanity can and does still go on as usual.

118. pagar

“And there’s the rub. Because the notion that human beings are all equal, or of equal value, flies in the face of reality.

People have different levels of intelligence, physical attributes, standards of upbringing etc but the liberal/leftist value system demands that they are treated as if they are all equal- they must have equal pay, equal rights, equal status etc.”

Funny how right-wingers conveniently understand that people have “different levels of intelligence, physical attributes, standards of upbringing etc” when they it suits, but when it comes to putting people on a pedestal for their success in life or demonising them for their failure, suddenly we’re all equal.

Suddenly environment doesn’t matter anymore, suddenly differing amounts of innate intelligence and ability don’t exist, comfortable backgrounds are irrelevant, dysfunctional backgrounds don’t matter anymore. No, people “get to be prosperous by sheer hard work and sacrifice alone and anyone at all can make it! regardless of their background” and “people who are failures deserve to be in the gutter regardless of their intelligence, physical attributes and family background because they are lazy and feckless”

Of course when it comes to their own children right-wingers suddenly understand that environment is very important again. They spend thousands of pounds on private schools for their children while telling kids whose parents couldn’t afford to send them to private school that they ought to be able to remain impervious to their dysfunctional school environment and they should know what they’ve never been taught at home about aspiration and the value of education, and if they don’t they deserve to end up in poverty because there is no such thing as society.

136. Chaise Guevara

@ 134 vimothy

“I think you are on to something linking liberalism and rationalism. It’s just that the concept of rationalism needs a bit of unpacking. Since I am also the product of a lot of liberal education, I get a warm tingly feeling up my inside thigh at the mere mention of the word. But, not to get all Godwin on ya, I seem to recall that we hit a few speed bumps on our ineluctable teleological trajectory towards the City of Light.”

Well, what rationalism gives you is facts, not “goodness”. Rationality says “this is”, not “this ought”. Nuclear power, nuclear weapons… one factual discovery could easily make the world a worse place, but the general trend of preferring facts over fiction seems to improve life for all of us, leading to freedom, comfort, medicine, reducing prejudice and irrational fear.

“Is there something in rationalism that produces all this chaos and death, or has there just been a lot of it going round recently? ”

The latter! I think you nodded in the direction of the Nazis in your last post, so: the Holocaust was only possible due to tools created by rationalism, but it was also only possible due to an irrational philosophy that painted whites as the master race and other races (along with homosexuals etc) as enemies of society. And of course the planes, guns and, yes, A-bombs we used to defeat Hitler and his allies were products of rationality too.

“De Tocqueville, writing of the French revolution:”

If I understand him right, this guy seems to think that being rational means acting like a Vulcan – a common mistake. There’s no dichotomy between rationality and humanity, you can have both.

“A project that starts with the guillotine, and passes through the gas chambers and the Gulag might not be an unmitigated good thing. And I’m not saying that simply because they like strawberry ice-cream, we must like strawberry ice-cream–but I mean, don’t we, a bit? Not to deny the considerable upsides that have developed during this period, but progress hasn’t been without its problems.”

Well, the French revolution started out (as many revolutions do) with good, liberal intentions: free the people from the callous dictator. Then it descended (as many revolutions do) into something else: a climate of persecution that was not liberal nor, in the final analysis, rational. The lesson isn’t “rationality is evil in sufficient quantities”, but “who watches the watchmen?”

137. Chaise Guevara

@ 135 Robert

“Funny how right-wingers conveniently understand that people have “different levels of intelligence, physical attributes, standards of upbringing etc” when they it suits, but when it comes to putting people on a pedestal for their success in life or demonising them for their failure, suddenly we’re all equal. ”

Interesting point, that.

138. Charlieman

Is it a culture of liberalism or rationalism that drives diverse press and the BBC?

No human is exempt from biases, so we have to strike out rationalism. Liberalism acknowledges rationalism but observes that we are imperfect humans.

@ 133:

“I’d say that was more effect than cause, but it will be partly a cause too. Overall, politicians reflect the public (in terms of what the politicians say, not what they are), but the public will reflect politicians to an extent.”

To a degree they reflect the public, although there are also cases where politicians are, on average, significantly more liberal than the public. I think, for example, that a significant proportion of the public would welcome a return to capital punishment (just over 50% is the figure usually reported by the polls), but hardly any MPs are calling for its reintroduction. The EU is another good example of where public and political opinion are out-of-step, although I’d hesitate to use that as an example because the EU is not actually very liberal…

“Weeelll… that’s certainly a trend in media such as advertising (“Be unique! Buy Unique Deodrant like all the other cool unique dudes!”), but I don’t think it has much to do with the liberal/conservative thing. Young people always want to be rebels; I’m still young enough to find the concept rather attractive. I think this has more to do with marketers, film-makers etc finally realising that there was a lot of money to be made out of telling kids that they’re rebels.”

It’s not directly responsible, I think, but when you’re exposed to advertising messages telling you that it’s cool to rebel and push societal boundaries, that’s probably going to have an affect on your attitudes.

Robert @ 135:

Do you have any evidence that the sort of attitude you describe is held among a significant portion of right-wingers?

@140 Fuckloads of evidence I suspect. Have you ever picked up and read a tabloid perchance? Or perhaps read through the comments on the webpages of various news sources? I’m sure you’ll trip over the evidence soon enough with either of those activities.

142. Guttmann

Brevik was a survivalist more in common with individualistic aims of the extreme end of tea party in the US.
He lived alone, didn’t want any interference from the state, and wanted a monoculture
He wasn’t a collectivist, the EDL and fascists parties are.
Ian and Tim J complain a little too much. I am sure if he was a lefty killer, then Sunny would be blamed and his politics analysed.
Also I sense a lot of crocodile tears from those two gentlemen of the right.
I expect in the past they have nodded their head in agreement when discussing the actions of Pinochet in getting rid of young unarmed lefty activists

143. Guttmann

Do you have any evidence that the sort of attitude you describe is held among a significant portion of right-wingers?
XXX
Yes, reading your posts

@140 xxx

There might be some figures about the proportion, altho how often people actually poll about the “got whistle” issues so beloved of the “further” right is open to question. It seems fairly obvious however that large numbers of people DO hold such views; and even if the proportion isn’t that large such views can only be of concern to people in the political mainstream, whether it’s 10%, 15%, or whatever.

The influence of many wingnut Tea Party types in the USA, allied with sundry christian fundies, climate change deniers, counter-jihadists etc. can’t be seen as anything but baleful, as the current impasse in Congress demonstrates. The “mainstream” GOP is essentially being held to ransom by what Uncle Vince correctly identified as a bunch of nutters. The current Palin substitute Bachman is actually pushing the line that a US default isn’t such a big deal, and would be a price worse paying to avoid tax increases and increasing the budget.

The danger is that similar types of people will bring about a similarly negative situation here; to some extent they have already managed to do this of course, ably assisted by useful fools in the Tory party and New Labour, reacting to the News International dogs snapping at their ankles; perhaps that might change given recent events, but perhaps it won’t.

Nobody thinks “most” right wingers are wing nuts (ok, except sally… but that hardly counts), anymore than they think most muslims are fundamentalists, or most lefties are revolutionary communists… but you’ll find ultras everywhere. The issue here is how successful the extremists are in injecting parts of their platform into the mainstream, or at least shifting the discourse rightward in response to their woo woo views.

135 Robert, great comment.

@ 141:

“Fuckloads of evidence I suspect.”

Unfortunately I don’t think that your suspicions are good enough as evidence. And besides, if that’s the case, then surely it should be easy to come up with some examples.

“Have you ever picked up and read a tabloid perchance?”

Occasionally. I can’t remember any columnist expressing the views described in 135, though. Obviously if you can find any examples, I’d be happy to look at them.

“Or perhaps read through the comments on the webpages of various news sources?”

I hardly think that they’re a reliable guide to right-wing opinion, any more than I think that Sally’s paranoid little rants are a reliable guide to left-wing opinion.

147. the a&e charge nurse

The picture emerging of Breivik suggests the real enemy might have been his own dysfunctional family rather than a malign political influence from fellow right wing extremists such as Mel P or Jezza Clarkson?

In the final months before the executions Breivik seems to have exhibited all the classic trademarks of a billy no-mates (or obsessional, narcissistic fantasist, to quote one psychologist who had a chat with him in solitary) stewing in his own fetid juices, while holed up in a remote country farm house?

@ 144:

I agree with you about the influence of the Tea Party, although I don’t see how that establishes that there are a significant number of people who believe that (a) everybody has different abilities/upbringings, (b) these different abilities/upbringings have no effect on how successful you are, and (c) it’s important to get a good upbringing for their children.


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    Was Anders Breivik a 'fascist' or something else? http://bit.ly/qzOhty

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    RT @libconWas Anders Breivik a 'fascist' or something else? http://bit.ly/qzOhty

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    good reading. RT @libcon Was Anders Breivik a 'fascist' or something else? http://bit.ly/qzOhty

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    Was Anders Breivik a 'fascist' or something else? http://bit.ly/qzOhty

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