Brendan O’Neill: using Breivik trial to score political points


8:28 pm - April 18th 2012

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contribution by Allie Renison

For the past 9 months, people from many different viewpoints and for equally varied purposes have taken it upon themselves to explain what was responsible for Anders Breivik’s horrific actions in Norway last July.

It comes as little surprise that some of the most ill-informed ‘explanations’ have come from those seeking to affix responsibility to any one side of the political-cum-ideological spectrum.

I find it as distasteful for people on the ‘left’ to turn this into a witch hunt against anyone with the slightest smattering of scepticism about immigration.

I also do so when their counterparts on the ‘right’ take delight in reminding their political adversaries that the perpetrator of the Toulouse killings was a radical Muslim and not a Breivik copycat, as some originally alleged.

The latest ideology to come under attack for its purported role in shaping Breivik’s warped philosophy is multiculturalism, as Brendan O’Neill writes for the Telegraph. The title of his blog piece should leave little room for misinterpretation, as it minces no words: “Breivik: A Monster Made by Multiculturalism”.

At first glance, I had hoped that this was a case of bad – in fact terrible- judgement with regard to the choice of title, and that a more rational and coherent explanation lay behind it. I assumed it to be an attention-grabbing headline, for surely O’Neill could not be laying any kind of blame at the feet of mass immigration and the intermingling of cultures and religion.

To do so would seem morbidly reminiscent of Breivik’s own manifesto, and no journalist would ever be seen to endorse this man’s rantings and justifications.

O’Neill proceeds to somewhat refashion the traditional definition of multiculturalism and turn it on its head, describing it as an ‘obsession with one’s own cultural identity’ to the extent of [seeking] total isolation from –and preservation against- external forces.

But what he either ignorantly or more alarmingly purposefully fails to grasp is that inherent in his understanding of multiculturalism is an implication that the simple co-existence of different cultures is a starting point for the obsession with cultural identity.

In order to be fixated on one’s own race and religion, and to despise those unlike yours which surround you, the only prerequisite is [any] exposure to the latter. Such exposure is a basic fact of modern human existence, not the work of some powerful, abstract ‘multicultural lobby’ as O’Neill refers to.

Following on from his logic, the reality that Western Europe is now a melting pot of varying cultures means we are doomed to have people like Anders Breivik popping up all over the place. If that were indeed the case, the massacre in Norway would have happened a hundred times before.

In fact, if there is one thing to be drawn from O’Neill’s piece, it is that the varying subjective interpretations of multiculturalism have as much to do with its ostensible ‘failure’ as anything else.

Grandiose declarations made about its negative impact often belie a misunderstanding of the complexities of multiculturalism, and it is incumbent upon us to resolve this lack of consensus, not add to it.

—-
Allie Renison describes herself as right-of-centre and works at Parliament.

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Reader comments


“I find it as distasteful for people on the ‘left’ to turn this into a witch hunt against anyone with the slightest smattering of scepticism about immigration.”

To hell with your distaste. You must know that no one acts like you say. What we do have is a vocal section of of the right who flat out hate Muslims. They’re everywhere online.

It comes as little surprise that some of the most ill-informed ‘explanations’ have come from those seeking to affix responsibility to any one side of the political-cum-ideological spectrum.

Wait a sec–I thought that responsibility for this atrocity rested with Melanie Philips and co?

O’Neill proceeds to somewhat refashion the traditional definition of multiculturalism and turn it on its head, describing it as an ‘obsession with one’s own cultural identity’ to the extent of [seeking] total isolation from –and preservation against- external forces.

If we’re to accept O’Neill’s hypothesis, no one was bothered about their cultural identities until mid-to-late 20th Century immigration left its impact. Either that or all patriots, nationalists and supremacists were, in fact, multiculturalists. Who knew?

But, then, this is Brendan O’Neill – troll beyond compare. A meteorite could take out Shrewsbury and he’d attribute its harmful consequences to malthusianism, snobbery or the supposed ills of the middle-classes that the fellows at Spiked appear to think is the only obstacle before utopia. They have the odd article that’s worth reflecting on – I’d hate to be accused of getting people to ignore arguments – but when they’re as vapid and evidently provocational as this it’s worth sighing and moving on.

For the past 9 months, people from many different viewpoints and for equally varied purposes have taken it upon themselves to explain what was responsible for Anders Breivik’s horrific actions in Norway last July.

Including himself, given he released his own manifesto on the day he did the killings. Has a lot of stuff about Muslims conquering the world with the aid of cultural Marxists betraying their own nations. Might have had something to do with his motivations, quite probably from his point of of view he killed off the next generation of cultural marxists before they could grow up to hand Norway on a platter to Islamists.

Chris

To hell with your distaste. You must know that no one acts like you say. What we do have is a vocal section of of the right who flat out hate Muslims. They’re everywhere online.

Yes, they do. Here, for example, is Jocelyne Cesari attempting to explain why there’s one degree of separation between Brievik and, er – David Cameron…

Today, Islam as “the internal and external enemy” is a staple of European political discourse. In the last six months, Angela Merkel, Nicolas Sarkozy and David Cameron have condemned multiculturalism as a failed model for “integrating immigrants” — meaning assimilating Islam — into their respective countries. The attacks in Norway are the first violent translation of that narrative.

This article claiming that multiculturalism is to blame is the most despicable article about Breivik I’ve seen yet.

The author of it is basically excusing what Breivik did, he’s implying that it was an inevitable consequence beyond Breivik’s control. Everyone who prints something like this is helping breivik to acheive his aim and disgracing the memories of his victims.

It is truly appalling for a respectable newspaper to print something so stupid and potentially dangerous.

7. Dick the Prick

I think we will get more nutters. I’m more inclined to blame these War Craft games than anything else. People have to write copy and unlike most cases this Brevik freak defies all philosophy. I’m a Mik but when Omagh went off we all knew that was beyond the pale; game over. This Brevik guy, if anything, has shown would be suicide bombers how to ply their trade. Alan Clarke wrote in his diaries that if he’d have done Brighton, he’d have stood outside and shot them all when the ambulance turned up. However much us lot like the internet, it’s changed things and wankers get their validation without effort. I’m a simple man and with this Brevik guy it’s just crisp packet ingredients whatever anyone writes on him; psycho – dust him down with a house brick and move on. Ain’t no politics here

He is insane. He is deluded. He spent hours on the internet reinforcing his own crazy prejudices. there is no reason in his actions, and nobody can claim to justify his actions.

There’s a marked degree of difference between multiculturalism and the ‘melting pot’, and that’s the problem. Multiculturalism leads to third generation immigrants unable to speak English and, truth be told, no need to. Multiculturalism leads to Tower Hamlets, and segregated ghettoes; not to the melting pot.

I was expecting to find the article offensive (as I have some other pieces by B O’N) but I thought it wasn’t particularly worrisome – perhaps Allie Renison reacted in this way because she is very focused on the benign resonances of multiculturalism (the melting pot model, anti-racism etc) rather than the way the word is being used in the article to denote separatism and cultural defensiveness. It is hardly, I think, terribly controversial to talk about Islamism and EDL/Eurabian ideas as mirror images of each other, opposites which feed each other. That seemed to be quite an important element of the article.

It’s always fascinating watching conservatives, who bang on constantly about taking responsibility for your actions, always find someone to blame when their actions are not right.

Conservatives must never fail, it is always conservatism that is failed.

As for Breivik , his defence seems to be a Fox News editorial.

12. Dick the Prick

@9 test. You answered your own question. Why should 3rd generation Muzzies speak English, speak Cockney or Yorkshire? If women remain in the home & raise a family yet raise their kids with love and values and ghee and corriander then wtf my business is it that they don’t swear, drink or do pointless jobs for the rest of their lives? I don’t talk at the best of times and simple courtesey usually fixes most language situations, especially as the language on any bus these days is very sweary.

13. Six Former

Sally There’s nothing quite like being better than other people is there !

14. So Much For Subtlety

7. Dick the Prick

I’m a Mik but when Omagh went off we all knew that was beyond the pale; game over.

So you were fine with the bombs in pubs in Birmingham and so on then?

This Brevik guy, if anything, has shown would be suicide bombers how to ply their trade. Alan Clarke wrote in his diaries that if he’d have done Brighton, he’d have stood outside and shot them all when the ambulance turned up.

The Brighton bombing was before Brevik. I don’t see how it is possible for Clark to have learnt anything from Brevik. So we must conclude that lunatic extremists have known how to do this for some time – and indeed random shooting of dozens of civilians is par for the course in other places like Palestine.

15. So Much For Subtlety

Following on from his logic, the reality that Western Europe is now a melting pot of varying cultures means we are doomed to have people like Anders Breivik popping up all over the place. If that were indeed the case, the massacre in Norway would have happened a hundred times before.

Well that would depend on the rate at which people like Brevik are produced. But let’s compare Brevik with his counterpart – the Islamist terrorist. Such people who aim to do pretty much the same *are* popping up all the time. Some of them, like the 7-7 bombers, get through. The vast majority are too incompetent and do not. Up to now it doesn’t look as if the Security Services have had to give as much time to people like Brevik as they did with people like the Toulouse shooter. That may have to change. But it is hard to deny that such things were unthinkable a few generations ago and are routine now.

What puzzles me is how people like Breivik, the 7/7 bombers in London, the Mumbai terrorists in 2008 or the Madrid train bombers in 2004 really believe that they have scored an important political point by killing dozens of people more or less at random.

The only insight into motivation is that the majority of these fanatics for the present are Islamic jihadists but cults of one kind or another go back a long way – try this on the mass suicide of the People’s Temple congregation at Jonestown in Guyana in 1978:
http://www.infoplease.com/spot/jonestown1.html

I’m reminded of one of the early seminal texts on brain washing: Battle for the Mind (1957) by William Sargant.

As I know that LC just doesn’t ”do” Spiked or Brendan O’Neill, I shant bother too hard here, other than to say he was probably talking about multiculturalism along the lines that Kenan Malik was outlining it in this piece titled ”Against multiculturalism”.

”Belief in pluralism and the multicultural society is so much woven into the fabric of our lives that we rarely stand back to question some of its assumptions. As the American academic, and former critic of pluralism, Nathan Glazer puts it in the title of a recent book, We are All Multiculturalists Now.

I want to question this easy assumption that pluralism is self-evidently good. I want to show, rather, that the notion of pluralism is both logically flawed and politically dangerous, and that creation of a ‘multicultural’ society has been at the expense of a more progressive one.”
http://www.kenanmalik.com/essays/against_mc.html

That’s from ten years ago, so these ideas have been around for a long time. That was sort of like B O’N wasn’t it? To be honest, I have given up caring. Because this will get ignored, and tommorow LC will be running more pro-Ken articles again. Livingstone being the worst kind of multiculturalist. He sucks up to everyone’s special identity.

I’m fascinated by this objection to “pluralism”.

Taken at face value, the objection seems to concur with the policy of Mary Tudor, who reigned as England’s monarch 1553-58 when she decided to restore Catholicism as the universal religious faith in her realm. To that end, at least 280 Protestant heretics were burned at the stake according to respected academic history texts. A plaque on the wall of Balliol College, Oxford commemorates the deaths nearby of Latimer, Ridley and Cranmer. During her reign, she was popularly known as Bloody Mary, which I take it to mean that her unstinting efforts to suppress pluralism were not widely appreciated at the time. Presumably, we should also salute the massacre of the Huguenots in France in August 1572, when the number of victims amounted to thousands.

19. So Much For Subtlety

16. Bob B

What puzzles me is how people like Breivik, the 7/7 bombers in London, the Mumbai terrorists in 2008 or the Madrid train bombers in 2004 really believe that they have scored an important political point by killing dozens of people more or less at random.

Because people like Kenyatta, Nelson Mandela and Gerry Adams have murdered their way into office. It works. There is a small but significant percentage of the population that enjoys the ideas of murdering other people – look how many join Marxist parties – and a much larger group that if retaliation followed would side with the murderers, not the rest of the population. We have already had one defence of the PIRA’s mass murders in this thread.

The only insight into motivation is that the majority of these fanatics for the present are Islamic jihadists but cults of one kind or another go back a long way – try this on the mass suicide of the People’s Temple congregation at Jonestown in Guyana in 1978:

Except those Lefties killed themselves. Not others. However it is a mistake to think of these people are deranged. They are not. What they are doing is highly logical and they are not usually otherwise insane. Well, Fascist terrorists tend to be, but others less often so.

18. Bob B

I’m fascinated by this objection to “pluralism”.

We know Bob, we know. You have a “thing” about Catholics. As troll bait this is a bit lame though. I think you could do better.

Taken at face value, the objection seems to concur with the policy of Mary Tudor, who reigned as England’s monarch 1553-58 when she decided to restore Catholicism as the universal religious faith in her realm. To that end, at least 280 Protestant heretics were burned at the stake according to respected academic history texts.

Fewer people than were murdered under Henry VIII and probably Elizabeth 1&0 for being Catholics.

20. Mr Potarto

“I find it as distasteful for people on the ‘left’ to turn this into a witch hunt against anyone with the slightest smattering of scepticism about immigration.

“I also do so when their counterparts on the ‘right’ take delight in reminding their political adversaries that the perpetrator of the Toulouse killings was a radical Muslim and not a Breivik copycat, as some originally alleged.”

On the one hand, you have people like Fiachra Gibbons (whom Chris @1 assures us doesn’t exist) who wrote:

“Politicians across the continent have found a new magic formula for electoral success and survival by playing on fears of foreigners and particularly of Islam – the wink and a nod that says that immigration has been the root of our social and economic decline. … The French airwaves have been full of such ugly equivocation these past few weeks as Nicolas Sarkozy has lurched his party wildly to the right in an attempt to save his skin, claiming there were ‘too many immigrants in France’ … Today in Toulouse we have been given a horrific illustration of where such delirious cynicism can lead.”

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/mar/19/toulouse-shootings-race-religion-murder-france

And on the other hand, you have people who are pissed off with being blamed for creating murderers because they said, “actually, maybe we should have have tougher controls on immigration”. I don’t see the equivalence here. I find Gibbons’ attempts to paint Sarkozy as “helping to start” the murder of children as revolting. I think people saying that according to Gibbons’ own twisted argument, he now becomes the accomplice to murder are entirely justified. People like him should receive all the verbal vitriol their crass pronouncements deserve.

I’m not quite sure exactly who or what Bob B is aligning with Mary Tudor through his use of the word ‘pluralism’ but if he means that David Cameron’s speech on multiculturalism, say, is comparable, or the opinions of Kenan Malik – that’s bizarre.

Rentergirl @8:

“He is insane. He is deluded. He spent hours on the internet reinforcing his own crazy prejudices. there is no reason in his actions, and nobody can claim to justify his actions.”

Well that’s O’Neill to a ‘T’. What do you think about Breivik?

Sarah AB is spot on.

O’Neill’s crime according to the OP seems to be his use of the (sacred) word “multiculturalism”. Or perhaps the author fails to understand that he is using it, as Malik does, in contrast to “melting pot”, not as a synonym for it.

Indeed he’s saying nothing essentially different from Malik, as others have pointed out.

And talking about this in the context of Breivik is no different from talking about it in the context of Toulouse or 7/7.

Wait a sec–I thought that responsibility for this atrocity rested with Melanie Philips and co?

But then you’re missing the fact that Phillips is a keen exponent of the rush to blame “The Left” whenever something terrible happens.

So it is of little surprise that the factoid about her writings appearing in this nutter’s reading list is brought up.

25. Just Visiting

It’s interesting that LC has not typically had threads focused on the Islamist terrorists – which are a regula occurence: such as the French one last month and say the Ford Hood massacres in the USA.

But does have one now about Right Wing extremists – who are such a rare phenomenon.

That shows LC’s blind spot – downplaying one (bigger) problem while being willing to focus on another.

That sadly is what resulted in the loss of life at Fort Hood – the US Military knew that the guy was expressing Jihad violence and a concern – but they choice to ignore it because they were glad to be able to say they were ‘multicultural’ – and that they had Muslim officers.

So a world-view that wants to see multi-cultural outcomes even against the evidence of the day – can and did result in loss of life.

26. Planeshift

“Up to now it doesn’t look as if the Security Services have had to give as much time to people like Brevik”

There are at least 18 white british people with similar views to brievik serving lengthy jail sentences for similar plots, stockpilling weapons etc. In the sates you have the oklahoma bombing and several smaller acts by white supremicists plus the anti-abortion extremists. Its far from prevelant enough to justify pushing the panic button by any means, but there is enough of it out there to justify use of intelligence services and monitoring – far more justification than for example surviellance on the trots.

27. Chaise Guevara

TBH, there’s little point blaming events like this on specific political philosophies. (And surprise, it’s always one you dislike! Amazing! Now let’s have another fun row about whether the Nazis were left- or right-wing!)

People have commited violent atrocities over pretty much any political belief you could care to name, up to and including animal rights. I could probably dig up a terrorist motivated by pacifism if I Googled long enough. Some people are just violent, or unwell, or desperate to be seen as a rebel.

It’s simply unhelpful to twist specific occurences into broadsides against your non-violent opponents, whether that means ad-homming right-wingers by comparing them to Breivik, or redefining words and disregarding basic statistics to blame his actions on leftists. Breivik was a right-wing nutter who hated multiculturalism. Key word there is “nutter”.

I like how people bring up the Toulouse killings, but fail miserably to bring up the American Solider who went postal in Afghanistan. There’s another act of terrorism to add to your lists.

29. Chaise Guevara

@ 25 Just Visiting

So what, rational leftists are supposed to just sit back and smile in the face of horseshit written by people like O’Neill? Your love of whataboutery is so strong that you’re even going to use it to criticise reason and the defense of a philosophy from an unwarranted attack?

If this article was titled “Breivik: Evidence that Right-Wingers are Pyschos”, I’d have your back. But as it is I think you saw his name in the title and immediately rattled off (possible copy-pasted) your default “WHY AREN’T YOU BASHING THE MUSLIMS!” nonsense.

@ Rentergirl

He is insane. He is deluded. He spent hours on the internet reinforcing his own crazy prejudices.

There are quite a few around here that statement could be applied to.

How scared should we be?

31. Planeshift

“. I could probably dig up a terrorist motivated by pacifism if I Googled long enough”

End of the day enough time for you? 😉

32. Chaise Guevara

@ 31 Planeshift

Maybe not. Depends what’s meant by “motivated”, really: are we talking about someone who included the rhetoric of pacifism in their philosophy, or who genuinely thought they were fighting for pacifism?

It’s a silly side-point, anyway. My main thoery is that violence to advance a position often has more to do with the person committing the violence than the position itself. I always wonder whether animal rights extremists would have been white power extremists if the National Front had got to them first.

33. Man on Clapham Omnibus

It seems to me that no-one cares to draw comparisons between a lone gunman acting stategically against a number of students and a state acting stategically to supress whole countries as exemplified in Iraq. The only difference being, one has the ability to legitimise its actions through its definition of the enemy via the usual ideological state apparatus (ie.TV and Press) and the other somewhat pitifully through self aggrandisement. Ultimately, both actions amount to murder and both are acted out by self interest .
I cant speak for Norway but post colonial states like the UK have a perfect ideological disposition towards inherent racism, its manefestations ranging from the heinous to the venial . No surprise then, to find the Met embroiled in yet more racist scandal. No surprise also to reflect on the antipathy between the English and Irish or Germans, French,East Europeans or the EU. Or indeed the emerging embassment of the Government in releasing vast volumes of redacted documents detailing the wholesale slaughter and supression of populations in British colonies.
Lets not kid ourselves, the Brevik issue is about internal state cohesion. If the same thing had happened in the third world, where dark people were involved, we would now be wrapping our fish and chips in old news. The wider issues are about world economic and ideological hegemony and how that predeposes individuals and groups to act intersocietally. In this context, state and individual actions amount to taking or denuding the lives and livelyhoods of weak populations in the interest of the stronger (usually the man (or army) with the guns) The development of underdevelopment is ulimately racist. Unsurprising then the Capitalist paradigm sometimes finds individual expression.

The “rush to blame the left” whenever an inadequate right wing moron goes off the rails is now so ingrained in conservative thinking that they spin this line with every new atrocity.

Every time an anti abortionist kills a doctor the so called pro life weirdos crawl out from some stone to blame the left for legalising abortion. In Texas last year another loon flew his plane into a building that housed the tax authorities killing innocent people. I kid you not Republican politicians said he had a point. Taxes are too high. The female Democratic politician in Arizona who was shot in the head was also to blame according to this conservative doctrine. I could go on and on. Timothy McVeigh who killed over 150 people was another one who the right have tried to excuse.

Conservatives can never be wrong, and the doctrine must never fail. It’s always the lefts fault.

I agree, Chaise Guevara – and Valerie Solanis is an example of a feminist using violence. I suppose some ideologies, or some variants of those ideologies, seem to have more potential to generate violence – but there is a certainly a temptation to focus on the violent acts associated with the ideologies one doesn’t care for.

36. Man on Clapham Omnibus

@35

I think you’ll find its the material conditions that create the violence.If we all lived in a world of milk and honey do you think anyone would bother to be racist.

From the opening post:

”O’Neill proceeds to somewhat refashion the traditional definition of multiculturalism and turn it on its head, describing it as an ‘obsession with one’s own cultural identity’ to the extent of [seeking] total isolation from –and preservation against- external forces.”

And his main problem is (I think) when that is encouraged by what he might call ”Town Hall multiculturalism”. The kind promoted by people Like Ken Livingstone over the last three decades. A good example of that was him chosing Lee Jasper to be his advisor on race and policing. A guy who now leads ”No Justice – No Peace” marches on police stations after a death in custody or a shooting like with Mark Duggan.

Jasper writes for Operation Black Vote, and a quick look at their website gives a flavour of that community based kind of multiculturalism.
http://www.obv.org.uk/

I know that the LC mods have no time whatsoever for O’Neill, so what’s the point in this thread if there is to be no attempt at analysis or proper consideration?

38. Planeshift

“. I always wonder whether animal rights extremists would have been white power extremists if the National Front had got to them first.”

I’m reminded of Howard Marks writing that the first book of philosophy you read will seem the most convincing argument you ever read, then you’ll read a second book which will seem the most convincing and so on…..

If Breivik had read the unabomber manifesto before whatever anti-muslim text he stumbled upon he’d probably have ended up shooting the kids of maths proffessors instead.

SMFS: “Because people like Kenyatta, Nelson Mandela and Gerry Adams have murdered their way into office”

Perhaps predictably, you omitted to mention Menachem Begin and Shamir, the murdering Israeli terrorists who became prime ministers of Israel.

According to respected history texts, at least 287 Protestant heretics were burned at the stake during the five years of Mary Tudor’s mercifully short reign of five years 1553-58. That easily surpasses the number of Catholic martyrs during the respective reigns of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Catholic_martyrs_of_the_English_Reformation#1534_-_1560

The English have long history of experience of terrorism and aggression motivated by subversive religious sentiment. The effect of the burnings during Mary Tudor’s reign, the subsequent attempted invasion of England by a Spanish Armada in 1588 with a commission from the Pope to restore Catholicism to England and the attempt by Guy Fawkes and fellow conspirators to blow up King and Parliament at the state opening on 5 November 1605 was to turn the English away from Catholicism. It took until 1829 for Parliament to extend full civil rights to Catholics.

40. Chaise Guevara

@ 36 MoCO

“I think you’ll find its the material conditions that create the violence.”

As that doesn’t contradict anything Sarah said, I’m not sure what you’re trying to achieve with “I think you’ll find” in that sentence, unless it’s just snootiness for snootiness’s sake.

@ 38 Planeshift

Yes, exactly.

41. Man on Clapham Omnibus

@40 whats snooty?

42. Man on Clapham Omnibus

‘If Breivik had read the unabomber manifesto before whatever anti-muslim text he stumbled upon he’d probably have ended up shooting the kids of maths proffessors instead.’

So history is all down to bad and good people acting out good and bad behaviour?
Very enlightening!

43. Margin4error

Saying he did it because of multiculturalism is a bit like saying the riots were because of unemployment and low prospects.

While it is, clearly, a factor in the mentality of the perpetrator, it is not one that generates the same response universally. As such it is clearly not that one factor that caused it. If it was, I’d be gunning down students (my home town of London is multi-cultural) and my dad would be rioting (having been made redundant).

So such simplistic twaddle misses the point – and as such indicates a clear agenda on the part of those who espouse it.

And here’s a counter point to the multi-culturalism thing…

If people stopped ranting and pretending there was some evil conspiracy to force us all to live peacefully and hapilly in our diversity as we go about our daily activities – maybe dangerous but mentally sub-par idiots like this Norwegian loon wouldn’t take up arms against innocent people, unable to find the entirely fake legitimate target that is “the evil conspiracy” for multiculturalism?

44. Chaise Guevara

@ 41/42 MoCO

“whats snooty?”

Saying “I think you’ll find…” is snooty. Or at the very least implies that you’re correcting someone, which is an odd thing to do when you’re not contradicting them at all.

“So history is all down to bad and good people acting out good and bad behaviour?
Very enlightening!”

Sigh. Nobody’s saying that. You don’t prove anything by making sarky remarks about an idea you just made up.

The point is that there are drivers of behaviour other than political allegience (which is indeed blindingly obvious, but it’s not my or Planeshift’s fault if other people need it pointing out to them), among which are personal things like mental stability and propensity towards violence, which you can simmer down to “goodness” and “badness” if you feel like being trite.

45. Man on Clapham Omnibus

@43 like you I question the ideology of multiculturalism but

‘Saying he did it because of multiculturalism is a bit like saying the riots were because of unemployment and low prospects’

does rather suggest people act not within a social or ideological context but rather are just bad or good.

So in the case of the riots everybody involved was just bad. Sadly I dont find this convincing.

46. Man on Clapham Omnibus

@44 sadly I didnt make any of that up. I think I was initially pointing out that the nature of the state is inherently violent. It would be interesting if we could look at why the Brevik’s of this world emerge. I do actually find the notion that explicity people either are bad or good with or without the mediation of ideology a tad lacking.
It makes Brevik look like an individual event with few social drivers .

Of course such and approach will not tell you how many Breviks and their counterparts will emerge in years to come when the economies of the West begin to really slide. Maybe just maybe there is a correlation between societal violence and the material. Maybe it might be good to frame policy to address it. I will admit there will be people that will just like to build yet more prisons though.

47. Planeshift

“So history is all down to bad and good people acting out good and bad behaviour?
Very enlightening!”

Its more making the point that you can find hateful material that incites violence within most forms of political philosophy and within most political movements – both ‘right’ and ‘left’ there will be a small number of individuals with particularly bad narcissistic personality disorders that give them a propensity to committ violence. I’m sure I don’t have to illustrate with examples…

At the present moment the main narrative of rebellion throughout large parts of europe is that there is too much immigration from mainly muslim countries, and some of those people who hold these views have expressed them in a particularly hateful and disgusting manner that has had the predictable effect of radicalising and inciting a smaller number of those people with a pre-disposition to violence to launch atatcks. Many of these attacks have been thwarted or carried out by people too incompetent to inflict massive damage, but Breivik succeeded.

In the 1970s the main narrative of rebellion was from the opposite side of the political spectrum and held that the west was responsible – (vietnam etc) for acting in an imperialist and dictatorial manner. Predictably a small number of those who believed that made the case in a manner that inspired an even smaller number to commit acts of violence. If Brievik was in his 60s he would have been part of this group instead.

48. Man on Clapham Omnibus

@47

Interesting,but both Imperialism and the immigration are the same side of the coin. I am not sure the left or right have really changed tack on either.( antiwar protests against Blair for example). It is interesing how you associate a ‘narrative of rebellion’
with a particular time. How are you doing this? Many of the Euro countries seem to be displaying people versus state as a rebellious narrative but I am not sure whether this encompasses enthic minorities

49. Chaise Guevara

@ 46 MoCO

I think the problem is that you think that because Planeshift and I don’t accept political belief as the One Single Cause of such behaviour, we must be saying that “badness” is instead the One Single Cause. But we’re not: we’re saying that there are *multiple* causes, which should be self-evident seeing as not everyone with Breivik’s beliefs is a mass murderer.

Nobody’s saying that it’s all down to “badness”, hence me saying that you were making it up. Maybe that’s a bit strong, but you definitely seem to be misrepresenting our arguments – which makes it rather annoying when you make sarky comments about a position that neither of us in fact hold.

As mentioned, there is nothing especially new in Europe about atrocities, terrorism and wars motivated by divergent religious affiliations. Just for starters, recap on the St Bartholomew’s Day massacre in France in 1572 or the Thirty Years War 1618-48.

The Scots still celebrate every year the outcome of Battle of the Boyne in 1690 between the contending armies of James II and William of Orange, rival claimants to the English throne when the Act of Union between Scotland and England wasn’t until 1707.

“Guy Fawkes could have changed the face of London if his 1605 plot had not been foiled, explosion experts have said.”
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3240135.stm

51. Planeshift

” It is interesing how you associate a ‘narrative of rebellion’
with a particular time. How are you doing this? ”

It was more the case that I wanted to find an example of left wing violence in europe to illustrate the point that it encompasses all political spectrums. But I couldn’t think of anything in the last 20 years of a similar scale to bombs and massacres – direct action, bricks through windows, and violent clashes with police are about as far it goes for the left in more recent times. (basque nationalists perhaps?) That in itself is quite interesting, but a phd thesis in itself probably.

On the other hand I didn’t mean to suggest that there wasn’t appalling levels of political violence carried out by the far right in the 1970s either. But merely to suggest that Breivik may have found himself more drawn to left wing violence in the 1970s because the wider pool of left wing opinion was more prominent then with strikes, continuing anti-vietnam protests, communist parties in western europe recieving large votes etc and these would have attracted disenfranchised people. The right was on the decline and ageing white supremicists in silly white sheets look ridiculous to teenagers looking for rebellion.

Now the more prominent form of rebellion – more prominent in the sense that you’ll find mainstream newspaper articles and comment within opposition parties – is based around the idea that ‘the elite’ has promoted ‘cultural marxism’ and ‘multi-culturalism’. It’s an effort to rally disenfranchised people but to a right wing cause. Unlike the 1970s, political elites in europe are not racist, and middle class kids have parents who smoked dope and listened to music that is far better than the bland simon cowell esque pop promoted by the mainstream music industry. How do you rebel against your parents when they are left wing, hippies and their record collection was written by people who took more drugs and worshipped more devils than anyone aimed at your own age group?

You do the one thing that is beyond the pale for people of that generation – become a racist and listen to classical music.

52. Man on Clapham Omnibus

@49 sad youre so sensitive. Actually I always come to this site to learn from a lot of people far cleverer than me and I am definitely not being sarky (its just the way I write). I am interested whether the people here had considered viewing the whole Brevik thing in a structuralist manner rather than a lone wolf or part of a ‘multiculture’ whatever this is. I’ve always assumed that the individualist perspective on society in a very right wing idea ‘everybody can make it’ type of thing.

I am sure there are lots of nasty people out there with lots of nasty material but I personally feel that these incidents represent trigger points in a system that will increasingly falter in the future . Not sure what I mean by ‘system’ but there are obvious clues in the rise of fascism in the 30’s and it sure wasnt because a lot of naughty people just came together to create a world war. The biggest driver that comes to mind is the failure of the bourgeoise state to politically mediate the economc collapse

53. Man on Clapham Omnibus

@51 Thats interesting. It does cast Brevik ,and people like him (whatever that means) as a psychopath just looking to vent his anger which I suspect is exactly what most people dont want to acknowledge. Again I wonder whether the emergence of the right can be construed in terms of the rise of mental problems.
Looking at my MP that theory might just fit.

54. Chaise Guevara

@ 52 MoCO

Not sarky, eh? So this – “So history is all down to bad and good people acting out good and bad behaviour? Very enlightening!” – was meant in all seriousness, was it?

Y’know, I’m kinda bored of immature sorts whose whole purpose of posting online is to act like an arse and issue putdowns almost at random, only to accuse other people of being “sensitive” (I expect your follow-up line is “can’t take a joke”). So: whatever. If Planeshift can put up with your disingenuousness and your superiority complex, more power to him. Personally I don’t see any reason to bother.

55. Man on Clapham Omnibus

@51

Unlike the 1970s, political elites in europe are not racist

How do you interpret the Iraq war? I personaly believe Iraq was underpinned by racist ideology in the same way that all colonial wars are.
I think France hasnt exactly been neutral on race,neither has Russia.Italy certainly isnt happy either. I woudnt describe the Tories neutral on race and indeed immigration is always a big vote puller for what is an essentially racist society.

Please note I have just got my pink floyd records out! – now how do you work the damn record player???

56. Man on Clapham Omnibus

@54 Sorry you feel like that.

I dont think planeshift and you are as similar as you may think. I think this issue is very hard to get to grips with.

My understanding was that the left generally considered classes of people and their experiences, rather than individual pathology as a motor of history yet all the way through people seem to want to define Brevik in indvidual terms as mad or bad.
I think you’ll find I havent said anything that is at all random. It all pretty much has one theme,that something societal is triggering these events and my feeling is that as society slides this kinda thing will just get worst.
That approach I think leads away from Brevik to a wider analysis.

57. Chaise Guevara

@ 56 MoCO

This is your “must be one thing or t’other” thing again. It’s not the case that we have two sides – one putting all accountability on individuals and the other putting all accountability on society – and one must be right and the other wrong. It’s the case that *both of those positions are wrong*, because they’re over-simplistic. If someone ignores half the data they’re going to get a wrong answer.

I’m not sure where you get the idea that group 1 above represents the right and group 2 represents the left. Yes, right-wingers tend to be more about individualism while lefties are more about society, but that’s as a *principle*, not a method of analysis. What you’re effectively saying is that each side is guilty of inherent and opposite analytical flaws, something I’ve yet to see any evidence of. Believing in society doesn’t mean you have to ignore the individual in your analysis, and vice versa.

I didn’t say your analysis was random. What I said was that your putdowns are random, which isn’t quite true, but they give that impression as they’ve all been based on straw-man misrepresentations of other people’s statements. As for “I’m sorry you feel that way”… yeah, we can add that to “you’re too sensitive” and “you can’t take a joke” and other passive-aggressive phrases thrown at people who object to unpleasant behaviour.

You seem incapable of stopping with the putdowns, which is unfortunate: snarky comments aside, your posts are interesting, but it’s hard to focus on the relevant content when each comment contains at least one snide remark.

58. the a&e charge nurse

[56] “yet all the way through people seem to want to define Brevik in indvidual terms as mad or bad” – that’s the usual response when extreme violence occurs in an atypical context.

Mind you a person who wants to behead the prime minister on youtube (without ever having suffered personal harm arising from political conflict) IS likely to be damaged in some way long before they discover politics?

Answers to Brevik’s crazy behaviour are not to be found in multiculturalism.

59. Man on Clapham Omnibus

@57 My understanding is much of the lefts perspective come from Marx who was firmly of the view that ‘classess made history’ This is echoed by many thinkers on the left the biggest names for me being Gramsci,who was instrumental in the importance of the ‘Party’ as a vanguard of new thought and Structuralist thinkers such as Althuser who analysed society in terms of superstructural elements ,with their own modes of production,which articulate the actions of the likes of us as ‘unknowing subjects’. Closely associated is Gluckman’s idea of a ‘structural ventrilloquism’

The interesting aspect of this idea is that events just happen outside of the human conciousness. For example a street vendor that just suddenly incinerates himself is enough to create a cascade in the middle east. Who’d have guessed.

So too is the notion of ‘multiculturalism’ with all its cultural,ideological and political components.

This idea is not at all reductionist to politics or ideology or culture but combinations of all. In this context Breviks action is very much a result of the specific nexus of structural convergence ( he didnt incinerate himself but instead took another route) What that nexus was I dont know but if there’splenty more going then there’s trouble in the same way there was in the 30’s . The big issue is will this cascade and if it does what political and ideologoical contexts/forms it will embrace and how can it be challenged.
There is an epistomological conundrum in there but I guess when the thick stuff hits the fan there’s always the doing bit!

I guess that’s where I’m coming from .

60. Man on Clapham Omnibus

@58

Not so sure about that. It depends the way that harm is defined. Out in the Wild West where the air is full of lead they used to use Presidential assination as a viable political tool. Many would also to string Blair up too for his role in the Iraq war.
I am not so sure that that behaviour necessarily indicates madness.

61. the a&e charge nurse

[60] the first psychiatrist said Brevik was mad, the second said he wasn’t – anyway, my point was not so much that Brevik is a nutter but rather that he had been damaged in childhood – political violence was probably an outlet for the disappointments he experienced in adult life.
Put it this way – I very much doubt if Brevik was an otherwise ordinary guy who found himself driven insane by, err, multiculturalism?

My guess is that Brevik never felt properly connected to another person, not even his parents – the youngsters he was picking off on the island had become objects rather than real people.

Through the psycho-babble lens it may be that Brevik displayed traits associated with terms like schizoid or narcissistic – in other words he has a personality disorder rather than psychiatric illness?

62. Man on Clapham Omnibus

@61 interesting. Yes I dont think it is usual to go round shooting people so clearly something wrong up top. But the Jails are full of them. Just seen the Defence minister of TV saying that Norway needs greater involvement for its youth in Politics. What a great outlook. Cant imagine the same thing happening in the UK as an intelligent response

I have read the article and find little about which to complain. Take another look at it, it’s here.

The key bit is this: ‘Yet in everything from his plea to respect “my culture” to his paranoid belief that “his culture” is under threat from both uncaring officials and uncouth plebs, Breivik reveals that he is in fact an adherent to the multicultural outlook. His view of himself as a threatened “culture”, his cloying self-pity, his paranoia about his traditions being trampled underfoot by Others – all of those warped ideas spring from the ideology of multiculturalism.’

Official multiculturalism shares with Breivik the idea that human ‘cultures’ are discrete, immutable factors; we are all to be defined by being put into ‘cultural’ boxes. The difference between official multiculturalism and those promoting it, on the one hand, and, on the other, the anti-multiculturalists, of which Breivik is an extreme version, is that the former don’t mind their country having within borders people of various ‘cultures’, whereas the latter want to rid their country of all but their own ‘culture’.

That is, of course, a very big difference, but their ‘culture’-based outlooks are both based upon the same theoretical premise. Both are opposed to the idea of universal human experiences and solutions, as both box us into predetermined ‘cultures’. O’Neill is not blaming the likes of Breivik upon fact that ‘Western Europe is now a melting pot of varying cultures’.

The problem is that we do not have a melting pot in Europe. The concentration upon ‘culture’, although introduced with the worthy intention of defusing the racial tensions triggered by immigration, has actually, albeit inadvertently, led to increasing divisions amongst people of different ‘cultures’, as people are officially encouraged to define themselves by their ‘culture’, as opposed to look to common, unifying experiences.

Defining oneself by ‘culture’ means in practice encouraging the things that distinguish us from other ‘cultures’, and that means to divide us. It results in emphasising the more conservative aspects of ‘cultures’, and encouraging as spokesmen the more conservative elements, as they can best express the traditional aspects of ‘cultures’. Why do, say, some Asian families prefer to marry off their young daughter to some stranger (to her) back in India or Pakistan, rather than let her grow up and find her own partner? ‘It’s our culture’, the old men will say, and they will defend that ‘culture’ by making damn sure that their daughter will be married off in their tradition. ‘Defending one’s culture’, be it Breivik’s murderous crusade, or some old Asian blokes making sure that their daughters do not choose their own partners, is a recipe for human misery. That is what O’Neill is saying, pointing to their ‘cloying self-pity’.

Any decent person will condemn forced marriage or the barbarity of female genital mutilation; but are these not old traditions, ‘cultural’ norms? If one defends the theories and practices of official multiculturalism, one’s ability to condemn these barbaric practices is undermined, as one is fighting with one hand tied behind one’s back.

Were Europe a melting pot, with the myriad influences of its inhabitants old and new mixing and forming new ideas and practices, rather than having everyone put in his or her ‘cultural’ box, we would have far greater integration and mixing, rather than the continuing and in places increasing divisions amongst people. The Breiviks of this world would hate this too, but we’d be in a better, more united positon to defeat them. And I believe that the mass of the population would be happier and culturally (in the broadest sense) better off.

64. Charlieman

@61. the a&e charge nurse: “…in other words he has a personality disorder rather than psychiatric illness?”

Give me a hand here a&e, please. I am presuming that “psychiatric illness” may be cured or moderated; illness is fixable but the patient may die of old age before it happens.

A “personality disorder” is about who Jo X is. The “is” does not change but Jo X may adapt to judicial or social conditions of behaviour. Those two conditions are separately important.

There is no doubt that Breivik intended to kill large numbers of people and was partially successful in achieving his own stated objectives. We may regard his reasons for intending to kill so many people as bizarre but then we often regard the motivation of most murderers as irrational. The crucial factor in deciding culpability is the matter of intent.

IMO Breivik’s motivation is so bizarre that there seems little point in ascribing rational motivation by guesswork and then proceeding to analyse the guesswork. As mentioned @16, there is a long history of cults which have been observed to behave in ways that most of us regard as abnormal. By most accounts of historians, the number of victims from Breiviki’s onslaught was relatively small compared with the thousands of Huguenot victims of the St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre in France in 1572, which was probably connected with a popular wish at the time to suppress multiculturalism.

66. Dick the Prick

He said yesterday (usual caviats that he’s lying) that he wanted to kill the ex Norwegian PM but instead he chose to murder kiddies. Now that, to me, screams of cowardice. Slightly off topic and really none of my business but giving the prick (no relation) the oxygen of publicity is distateful. Have a good weekend folks.

67. Margin4Error

@45 MoCO

I don’t question the ideology of multiculturalism as such – because I don’t think there is one. A whole bunch of people living their lives as they wish is not a point of principle as much as just the natural order of things if we live outside of dictatorship.

As for everyone in the riots being bad – you may have missed my point entirely. Obviously some people – like the norwegian loon – are bad people. But the influences on a human being’s behaviour are many-varied and complex. To pretend there is a simple explanation (be it “badness” “multiculturalism” or “unemployment”) is either stupid or disingenuous.

It is also beyond absurd to assume that a person knows thier own mind to the extent that they can properly analyse all of the influences and factors acting on their behaviour and outlook. They simply don’t.

68. Man on Clapham Omnibus

From the above debate are we entitled to conclude that the notion of multiculturalism is a long word that is so subjective it has very little meaning either on the ground or in policy terms. Sure it basically refers to different cultures residing in a common geographical location but beyond that what does it offer. Indeed the writer indicates as much in the closing sentence.

‘Grandiose declarations made about its negative impact often belie a misunderstanding of the complexities of multiculturalism, and it is incumbent upon us to resolve this lack of consensus, not add to it.’

Who are ‘us’ in this context and where is this lack of consensus actually situated and who is resolving what for whom. Further had this lack of consensus been resolved (again what does this really mean) in Norway (which by implication it wasn’t) would that have meant Brevik wouldnt have gone on a rampage.

Answers on a postcard!

69. the a&e charge nurse

[64] good morning, Charlieman – labelling somebody as having a personality disorder is a whole other can of worms.

Some say it amounts to no more than simply applying a group of pejorative terms with little therapeutic mileage – or put another way, those who exhibit disturbed behaviour do not ‘benefit’ from the usual classes of psychiatric drugs such as antipsychotics, antidepressants, mood stabilisers, or anxiolytics, etc may end up with a personality disorder diagnosis.

I would strongly recommend Jon Ronson’s book ‘The psychopath test’ – some say madness makes the world go round?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A6aCir5bu-c&feature=related

70. Chaise Guevara

@ 59 MoCO

“My understanding is much of the lefts perspective come from Marx who was firmly of the view that ‘classess made history’”

This is a semantic thing, then. You’re using “left” to mean Marxism, which is valid, but it’s got a range of meanings, and many of them are more prevalant in this place and time. For me personally, “left” means “liberal-socialist”, i.e. respect for personal freedom combined with support for financial redistribution. Some leftists might fit only one of those axes, or fit both but apply them differently to me.

None of that requires us to view history through a specific lens; it’s a moral thing, not an analytical process. So what’s happening here is you’re taking several different ideas that get described by “left” and assuming that they must all be the same. They’re not. It’s understandable, but logically it’s akin to saying that your right hand is your “correct” hand.

71. Planeshift

“From the above debate are we entitled to conclude that the notion of multiculturalism is a long word that is so subjective it has very little meaning either on the ground or in policy terms”

By and large yes. Complaints about it usually amount to a series of concerns about the alleged behaviour of minorities, allegations that said minorities get special treatment, and a general sense that there are (a) too many minorities, and (b) that this state of affairs is the deliberate result of legislation or policy despite the person usually being unable to point to a specific act of parliament.

And by ‘minorities’ the term usually means people with a different skin colour or from poorer parts of the world. There are never complaints about americans or australians in the UK.

72. the a&e charge nurse

[71] ‘There are never complaints about americans or australians in the UK’ – largely because their presence is less visible, and free from the baggage that goes with other cultures that are in opposition to liberalism.

If Ozzie women were forced to wear the burqa then it might be different.

Incidentally, I’m not against difference – just those differences that undermine rationalism or equality.

73. Chaise Guevara

@ 72 a&e

That said, Poles are not much more visible and don’t carry much baggage that I’m aware of, and people complain about them. So maybe we unconsciously rank nationalities into “peers of Britain”, which we’re fine with, and “inferior to Britain”, which we’re not. Or maybe it’s just down to who takes all the working-class and unskilled jobs (but then, what to make of the Australian barman stereotype?). Probably both.

74. So Much For Subtlety

73. Chaise Guevara

That said, Poles are not much more visible and don’t carry much baggage that I’m aware of, and people complain about them.

It is more likely that people are using the Poles as stalking horses. They know they will be accused of racism if they object to South Asians, so they criticise Poles instead. In reality I doubt anyone has much bad to say about Poles. Unlike, say, Roma from Bulgaria or Romania.

So maybe we unconsciously rank nationalities into “peers of Britain”, which we’re fine with, and “inferior to Britain”, which we’re not. Or maybe it’s just down to who takes all the working-class and unskilled jobs (but then, what to make of the Australian barman stereotype?). Probably both.

I am sure most people think of the Philippines as inferior to Britain. And the women all whores. (Which is not, let me hasten to add, shared by me on either count) While they certainly take working-class and unskilled jobs in the UK. But I don’t think I have heard anyone criticise their presence in Britain even once in my life. I don’t think it is a matter of inferiority and unskilled labour. I expect it is about culture. The Philippines is close enough to us in culture that we don’t mind so much. Even though race is an issue. The fastest growing group in Britain are the Chinese. I have heard some complaints, but not many. They work hard and keep their heads down by and large. They pose no threat. They certainly do not blow themselves up on the Tube. Hence no problem even though there is a cultural gap.

75. the a&e charge nurse

[73] many Poles and others from Eastern Europe are competing for jobs that historically were filled by British working class – the so called economic migrant argument does bring with it certain tensions, especially when genuine opportunities in the job market (for the less well off) seem to be shrinking.

Ozzies do love their bar work – perhaps it is hard to stay angry at somebody for too long if they are serving up a nice pint?
In my experience Ozzies make great nurses as well – hard working and conscientious.

Not really sure what Americans get up to in Britain – are most of them working in the financial, legal or technical sectors?

76. Chaise Guevara

@ 74 SMFS

“It is more likely that people are using the Poles as stalking horses. They know they will be accused of racism if they object to South Asians, so they criticise Poles instead. In reality I doubt anyone has much bad to say about Poles. Unlike, say, Roma from Bulgaria or Romania.”

Good point.

RE Filippinos: you’re probably mostly right, but perhaps it’s also that they just get lumped in with other nationalities? Definitely true on the Chinese: you get any number of stupid jokes and mocking “special flied lice” accents, but nobody seems to have a problem with them. And that’s probably down to a reputation for being law-abiding and hardworking.

77. Man on Clapham Omnibus

@70

“My understanding is much of the lefts perspective come from Marx who was firmly of the view that ‘classess made history’”

This is a semantic thing, then.

There are no semantics here. I not saying everyone on the left is a Marxist in this sentance. The left is not exclusively Marxist and indeed the term ‘left wing’ arises from the French revolution which had an enlightenment tradition based on Rousseau and other writers of that time. However within British politics there has historically been references to common ownership and control which I believe relates directly to Marx.

You’re using “left” to mean Marxism, which is valid, but it’s got a range of meanings, and many of them are more prevalant in this place and time.

Totally agree it means different things to different people.

None of that requires us to view history through a specific lens; it’s a moral thing, not an analytical process. So what’s happening here is you’re taking several different ideas that get described by “left” and assuming that they must all be the same. They’re not. It’s understandable, but logically it’s akin to saying that your right hand is your “correct” hand.

Dont understand this at all. The approach I described to you is certainly analytical but I would have thought anaylsis is exactly what is required in order to understand the world. Apart from science there is only magic and religion. There is no single lens which you refer to, rather a multitude of avenues of enquiry along cultural,ideological and material lines.

Many lefties see the world from a moral/ religous point of view, if not explicity then implicitly. However I would question the rigour of that approach

78. Chaise Guevara

@ 77 MoCO

“There are no semantics here.”

Of course there are, as you yourself accept here: “Totally agree it means different things to different people.”

“Dont understand this at all. The approach I described to you is certainly analytical but I would have thought anaylsis is exactly what is required in order to understand the world. Apart from science there is only magic and religion.”

So? Nobody’s denying any of this, but I don’t see where it fits into our conversation. How do you get from this to the vital link of “if you care mainly about society you have to ignore the individual when analysing factual data”? Because that’s vital to your attempt to conflate moral outlook with factual assessment.

Surely facts should help inform morality, not the other way around? Evidence-based policy, not policy-based evidence?

“There is no single lens which you refer to, rather a multitude of avenues of enquiry along cultural,ideological and material lines.”

I really do think you deliberately misinterpret me out of spite sometimes. I NEVER SAID there was a single lens. I said that lefties and righties DO NOT see the world through a single lens. You are now basically repeating my points back to me and pretending you’re telling me something. It’s annoying, stop it.

“Many lefties see the world from a moral/ religous point of view, if not explicity then implicitly. However I would question the rigour of that approach”

If they’re letting it affect their ability to assess facts, then yes.

@69 the A&E charge nurse

On “personality disorder”, try this about Nobel Laureate John Nash, an American mathematician who has spent long periods as an involuntary patient in mental health hospitals diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Forbes_Nash,_Jr

Try also the BBC2 doc on YouTube about: Dangerous Knowledge

80. Man on Clapham Omnibus

@71 Couldnt agree more, which is why I think discrimination and racism are probably better metrics of social cohesion .

81. Man on Clapham Omnibus

“There are no semantics here.”

Refering to my comment in respect of Marxist influence there little ability to misinterpret this semantically.

How do you get from this to the vital link of “if you care mainly about society you have to ignore the individual when analysing factual data”? Because that’s vital to your attempt to conflate moral outlook with factual assessment.

Morals are factual in that they are subject to the same anaylsis as any other ideological structure.

Surely facts should help inform morality, not the other way around? Evidence-based policy, not policy-based evidence?

The Tories wouldnt agree which is why there is a kind of religiousity to their Governance.
In reality I would suggest there is a dialectic between fact gathering and morality
all the time.

“There is no single lens which you refer to, rather a multitude of avenues of enquiry along cultural,ideological and material lines.”

I really do think you deliberately misinterpret me out of spite sometimes. I NEVER SAID there was a single lens. I said that lefties and righties DO NOT see the world through a single lens. You are now basically repeating my points back to me and pretending you’re telling me something. It’s annoying, stop it.

None of that requires us to view history through a specific lens; it’s a moral thing, not an analytical process. So what’s happening here is you’re taking several different ideas that get described by “left” and assuming that they must all be the same. They’re not. It’s understandable, but logically it’s akin to saying that your right hand is your “correct” hand.

I interpreted the ‘specific lens’ as a rebuttal of the scientific approach many theorists I outlined, given the comments that follow. But you do imply that the understanding of history has to be done through a moral compass,which I and I think most historians would totally reject.

“Many lefties see the world from a moral/ religous point of view, if not explicity then implicitly. However I would question the rigour of that approach”

If they’re letting it affect their ability to assess facts, then yes.

Kinda agree with you but that isnt what is implied previously.

‘it’s a moral thing, not an analytical process’

People only understand their present from their history. If history can only be understood through morals then how do you weave any facts in. Sounds all a bit middle ages to me and very religious. There is a branch of writing called hermaneutics which achieves what you are suggesting and maybe of interest.

In case youre not that bothered (wouldnt blame you either) the story line is Jesus gets the girl, God goes to heaven and the Devil,well, he stays in the detail.

82. Man on Clapham Omnibus

@78 please refer to @81

83. Chaise Guevara

@ MoCO

“Refering to my comment in respect of Marxist influence there little ability to misinterpret this semantically.”

Nonsense. You’re conflating several different definitions of one word (“left”). That can’t not be a semantic issue.

“Morals are factual in that they are subject to the same anaylsis as any other ideological structure. ”

Even if I accept this for sake of argument… how do you get from this to the vital link of “if you care mainly about society you have to ignore the individual when analysing factual data”?

Repetition I know, but you haven’t answered the question yet.

“The Tories wouldnt agree which is why there is a kind of religiousity to their Governance.
In reality I would suggest there is a dialectic between fact gathering and morality
all the time. ”

Again, please answer the question instead of going off on tangental political commentary. Should morals be based on evidence, or vice versa?

“I interpreted the ‘specific lens’ as a rebuttal of the scientific approach many theorists I outlined, given the comments that follow.”

Well, that’s neither what I said or what I meant. It’s pretty much the opposite of what I said, in fact. And “the comments that follow” don’t imply otherwise as far as I’m aware.

“But you do imply that the understanding of history has to be done through a moral compass,which I and I think most historians would totally reject.”

Um, I didn’t imply that. If you want my opinion on the subject then I think it’s impossible for someone to disregard their own moral perspective and adopt true neutrality, so I suppose the statement is true in that sense, but that doesn’t mean that the use of a moral compass is desirable when assessing dry facts.

“Kinda agree with you but that isnt what is implied previously. ”

What are all these shady implications of which you speak?

“People only understand their present from their history. If history can only be understood through morals then how do you weave any facts in. Sounds all a bit middle ages to me and very religious. There is a branch of writing called hermaneutics which achieves what you are suggesting and maybe of interest.”

I have no clue what you’re on about. Where do you get this starting suggestion that “history can only be understood through morals”? That’s closer to your position than mine. What’s religious? Middle ages? What exactly am I supposed to be suggesting?

“In case youre not that bothered (wouldnt blame you either) the story line is Jesus gets the girl, God goes to heaven and the Devil,well, he stays in the detail.”

I’m starting to suspect you’ve just uploaded your entry for a stream-of-consciousness writing competition. What on earth has this got to do with anything? And are you going to answer my previous questions?

I think I preferred it when you were directly straw-manning me. All these gnomic references to “implications” I’ve apparently made, followed by rebuttals of positions I don’t hold, are bordering on the trippy.

Dr Paul @63 seems to have got it right as far as I can tell. Most people (it seems) always put O’Neill down as a dreadful contrarian with nothing useful to say.

In Ireland there is a free weekly newspaper called ”Metro Eireann” that is distributed in places like job centres and libraries, that seems to promote very old style ”Town Hall” multiculturalism. A quick look at the news items on their website mentions things like the recent anual ”Garda (police) Diversity Consultation Day” – which is surely better than what the English police were doing in the 1970s, but it does sound all very PC though when you read the language they use.
http://metroeireann.com/

In Ireland they seem to have learned many lessons from looking at what didn’t work in England in the past – but seem very much into the ”diversity is strength” kind of multiculturalism that I think O’Neill might have been talking about.
And apart from Ken Livingstone, the person who embodies this culture even more blatantly, has to be Jesse Jackson, with his ”Rainbow” movement.

In Northern Ireland, Sinn Fein are big on it too, and even the Unionist community has picked up on it. Community based complaining and lobbying.

More on personality disorder. Try this on the case of the serial murderer Graham Young, who was convicted of serial murders, imprisoned, “rehabilitated” and released only to revive his interest in toxicology:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graham_Young

He wasn’t obviously irrational. He just had this personal interest in how poisons worked and liked to conduct carefully observed experiments on people he knew.

Re Damon at 84. Yes, Spiked, like its left-wing predecessor, is often contrarian just for the sheer fun of it, winding up liberals is a good laugh, but like its predecessor (which I supported for some while), it can sometimes hit a bull’s-eye on a deserving target.

Other people besides me have noted that Europe is not a ‘melting pot’, as our original author seems to say. The Spiked line, ably argued by Kenan Malik in many places, is that official multiculturalism actually militates against integration by encouraging people of different ‘cultures’ to be celebrate those differences, with a sub-text that ‘cultures’ are discrete, immutable factors. This is why O’Neill is spot-on to say that Breivik’s outlook has the same theoretical basis as those promoting official multiculturalism.

Supporters of official multiculturalism, such as the original author, are loath to admit their theoretical closeness to the mono-cultural brigade, of which Breivik is an extreme example (in practice if not in theory, as many agree with his ideas if not his actual methods). They also are loath to admit that official multiculturalism is serving to divide people, and also promoting the more conservative elements in ‘cultural’ groups and encouraging them to push the more reactionary aspects of their ‘culture’ as a means of asserting their cultural uniqueness and distinctiveness — and to exert personal and broader social control over their sons and daughters by appealing to ‘culture’.

That is why supporters of official multiculturalism cannot effectively oppose those aspects of certain ‘cultures’ that are repugnant. If it is a part of one’s ‘culture’ to marry off one’s daughters against their will, or to punish them for having the ‘wrong’ boyfriend — then how is one to complain if one supports ‘cultural’ self-determination? Indeed, how are official multiculturalists to support ‘mixed’ relationships if it is part of this or that ‘culture’ to remain apart from other ones?

Damon mentions Northern Ireland and the way that Loyalist and Republican groups alike are pushing their ‘culture’. Isn’t it interesting that whilst shootings and bombings are very much reduced, actual sectarian tensions are as high as ever in many places. The material basis for sectarianism — Loyalist supremacy through job allocation in the shipyards and state administration, Loyalist fears about Irish unification, British promotion of jobs for Protestants, etc — have withered away, but sectarianism is still rife. Not a small part of that is down to the promotion of ‘culture’ as a defining factor in one’s everyday life.

Dr Paul

Why don’t we celebrate the St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre in France in 1572 when thousands of Huguenots were murdered as an early example of the rejection of multiculturalism?

The St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre (Massacre de la Saint-Barthélemy in French) in 1572 was a targeted group of assassinations, followed by a wave of Roman Catholic mob violence, both directed against the Huguenots (French Calvinist Protestants), during the French Wars of Religion.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Bartholomew's_Day_massacre

Bob B 87 shows precisely the problem when one criticises official multiculturalism.

Note the adjective that I consistently use — ‘official’. Right-wing critics of multiculturalism do not use this adjective as for them there is no difference between multiculturalism and official multiculturalism.

I do not reject multiculuralism if it means that a country is composed of people of all different cultures. My cultural references are different to those of my dad’s generation and of those of younger people, and even of those of many of my peers. Were I to go to some upper-class British bash, I would feel like a fish out of water; just as much if I went to some seedy nightclub inhabited by leery ‘cockney geezers’. I take up or reject or half-assimilate all manner of cultural influences.

But that is not what is meant by ‘culture’ these days, which is why I usually put the word in inverted commas. It is a by-word for race or ethnicity or nationality. And the point that I made in an earlier post is that official multiculturalism is a means of trying to defuse racial/ethnic/national tensions by saying that we have here people of all different backgrounds; let’s all get on together by celebrating our differences. It was an attempt to deal with racial, etc, tensions — a worthy objective — but it has not worked.

It has led in many instances to increasing divergences between people of different ‘cultures’ and the accentuation of ‘cultural’ differences, with an almost inevitable reinforcement of the more conservative aspects of them. The right-wing critics of multiculturalism (of either the official type or otherwise, or both) know this all too well, and are using this to whip up an exclusivist atmosphere against those whose ‘culture’ they do not like. Breivik is the consequence of this, an extreme development, but his ideas come straight from many right-wing commentators.

There are no easy answers to this. I would prefer it that people celebrate things that unite people, that we can promote ideas that overcome racial tensions, bring the mass of the people together in a way that can defend what is common to us all: jobs, decent services. The problem with official multiculturalism is that it ends up reinforcing the very racial/ethnic/national divisions it was hoped it would overcome. When will its supporters realise this?

One last thing. Bob looks at the matter of the Huguenots. My family is from a Huguenot background. This group of people fled France to escape vile religious persecution. Within a few generations in Britain, they had assimilated into the population in the towns and cities where they settled. If we’d had official multiculturalism as a government policy then, I guess I’d now be obliged to promote myself as a Huguenot, loudly proclaiming all that separates me from everyone else, and all the rest of it. Instead, my family background is just an historical footnote. I prefer it that way.

Dr Paul

I’m not clear on what you are suggesting that governments should do in the face of manifestations of populist intolerance towards different religions, cultures and ethnicities if you are claiming that official declarations of support for multiculturalism and tolerance exacerbates intolerance. Perhaps you can clarify what you think governments should do.

Dr Paul – in defence of ”official multiculturalism” I would say that we do it like that because we don’t really know of a better way, and it does work to a degree.
It has succeeded in dragging us on from the attitudes of the 1970s and tackled ”institutionalised racism”. Or certianly put it centre stage …… so even people like Sir Ian Blair can get accused of being a racist by the Met police’s highest ranking Asian officer a few years ago.
And as laughable as that idea was, it was taken entirely seriously. It had to be.

So even with the very unfortunate side effects, this ”official” multiculturalism might just be the best way to move society on from where it was – to where liberals would prefer it was.

I heard Owen Jones on the radio last night and he was arguing with the former Talk Sport radio presenter Ian Collins.
Collins is a bit conservative, and they got to talking about gay marriage. Owen Jones just hammered Collins for being a ”knuckle dragging bigot” because he wasn’t pro-gay marriage.
Even though Collins is pro gay equality in every other way – just not the marriage bit. Owen Jones writes on this website sometimes, and tbh, I just can’t stand him any more, with his hectoring and smuggness. He is exactly everything I don’t like about the pushy multiculturalists. If you don’t agree with them they just condemn you as being backward and being on ”the losing side of history” etc.

But as I say, these methods work. And quite quickly, society has jumped forward on issues like anti-racism and gay rights – maybe precisely because of these intolerant, take-no-prisoners methods of moving society on.

Maybe it’s a bit like taming football crowds and reducing the violence and all the bad stuff that used to go on at football matches. You police them to within an inch of their lives and ban all kinds of things that used to make going to football a much more fun, free-er (and cheaper) experience.
But it works. It has got rid of racist chanting and much of the trouble at football, so can be called a success.
It’s the easiest, most successful way of bringing about change.

The Huguenot asylum seekers who came to England to escape continuing persecution in France have been successfully assimilated but they did encounter initial hostility, which is what prompted Daniel Defoe – author of Robinson Crusoe – to write that long satyrical poem: The True-Born Englishman (1703):

Dutch, Walloons, Flemings, Irishmen, and Scots,
Vaudois and Valtelins, and Hugonots,
In good Queen Bess’s charitable reign,
Supplied us with three hundred thousand men.
Religion—God, we thank Thee!—sent them hither,
Priests, Protestants, the Devil and all together:
Of all professions and of every trade,
All that were persecuted or afraid
http://www.luminarium.org/editions/trueborn.htm

A measure of the persecution in France is that Decartes (1596-1650), one of the most celebrated of French mathematicians and philosophers, spent most of his adult life living in the Netherlands to avoid persecution by the church in France.

‘Official Multiculturalism’? How exactly does that work with references to previously enacted ‘official multicultural’ policies if you can.

The main one I can think of was arguably ‘Winterval’, Birmingham City’s branding exercise for all the various functions and events they were putting on over the Christmas period. The aim was to get everyone involved with everyone else’s events given that Taxpayer’s money was being used for them all and it’d be nice for everyone to learn about their neighbour’s festivals etc.
While the people of Birmingham for the couple years winterval ran pretty much did all that and enjoyed themselves thoroughly, the rest of the nation got a decade long whinge about mythical PC storm-troopers outrageously daring to acknowledge that there were other winter festivals as well as Christmas at first, and over the years this metastasised into the general ‘war on Christmas’ bollox that Winterval was designed to ‘replace Christmas entirely’. And thus divisions and cultural battle-lines were drawn. Though by the Daily Mail, not Birmingham city council.

So, if Winterval IS official multiculturalism in action, I suppose that you could hold it responsible for the divisions in society, given the reactions it prompts from certain quarters.

In Japan, for reasons of centuries of official persecution – including the crucifixion of Christian missionaries by one of the shoguns – the Christian churches have had little historic influence but Christmas-tide is a thriving commerical festival there nowadays.

Do the periodic bouts of slaughtering Christians and burning churches in northern Nigeria by Boko Haram count as manifestations of opposition to multiculturalism?

94. Chaise Guevara

@ 92 Cylux

I don’t know what “official multiculturalism” is. It’s interesting that Paul says right-wing critics don’t use the term, because he’s probably a right-wing critic and he’s the only person I’ve heard use it.

Have you heard Birmingham council’s rebuttal to the “banned Christmas” meme?

“There was a banner saying Merry Christmas across the front of the council house, Christmas lights, Christmas trees in the main civil squares, regular carol-singing sessions by school choirs, and the Lord Mayor sent a Christmas card with a traditional Christmas scene wishing everyone a Merry Christmas.”

I like to think whoever wrote that was belming as he/she typed.

The PC joke about winterval and Birmingham City Council is regularly trailed every Yuletide. Of course, the real joke is that seasonal celebrations for the winter solstice predate Christianity by centuries:

Yule or Yuletide (“Yule time”) is a winter period and event that was initially celebrated by the historical Germanic peoples and some neighboring peoples as a religious festival, though it was later absorbed into, and equated with, the Christian festival of Christmas . [Wikipedia]

Saturnalia was an ancient Roman festival in honor of the deity Saturn originally held December 17 and later expanded with unofficial festivities through December 23. The holiday was celebrated with a sacrifice at the Temple of Saturn in the Roman Forum and a public banquet, followed by private gift-giving, continual partying, and a carnival atmosphere that overturned Roman social norms: gambling was permitted, and masters provided table service for their slaves. The poet Catullus called it “the best of days.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturnalia

Julius Ceasar, working to the old Julian calendar, regarded 25 December as the date of the winter solstice, which is probably why the early Christian church selected that date to celebrate the birth of Christ.

When I went to live and work in Scotland in the early 1960s, Christmas day was a full working day according to the conventions of the Presbyterian tradition: the seasonal holiday was at Hogmanay.

The family Christmas as we have come to know and love was essentially a Victorian invention to promote family values. Queen Victoria’s predecessor as monarch was William IV, who was survived by eight of the ten illegitimate children he had by the actress Dorothea Jordan. By reports, David Cameron is a direct descendant of William IV.


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