Is the anti-fascist policy of ‘no-platform’ effectively dead?


4:00 pm - January 4th 2013

by Robert Sharp    


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Anti fascist demonstrators in Leeds

In the Huffington Post, Jessica Elgot has a long review of the free speech issues of 2012. It features many quotes from yours truly, speaking on behalf of English PEN. Mike Harris of Index on Censorship also gives his twenty penn’orth.

It also has a fascinating comment from Nick Lowes of Hope Not Hate, suggesting that the traditional ‘no platform’ policy towards extremists has become “outdated”.

For Nick Lowles, head of Hope Not Hate, which campaigns against far-right extremism, censorship online is problematic, and means the anti-fascist tradition of never giving extremism a platform, has become old-fashioned.

“I think you have to look at the mindset at the person behind it. The tweets against Tom Daley were horrible, but some people’s lives are made an absolute misery every day by this abuse. We have to pay that attention.

“There’s been a long history in the anti-fascist movement of “no platform”, but a lot of those principles have become outdated, because of new technology, people have a platform online.

“I’m not going to sign up to a Twitter debate with Griffin, that’s beyond the pale. But at the same time we need to do more to take on their ideas in the blogosphere, there are ideas are out there in swathes. Or we sit on the sidelines, condemn them, and refuse to engage, that’s when we look like the pro-censorship group.

“The more controversial things they say, the more attention they get. It’s actually easier with people like Nick Griffin and David Irving. But there’s mainstream hatred of Muslims all over Twitter. We have to be in the argument, expose their ideas. “

Much as I loathe the Griffins of this world, I have always thought that blanket ‘no platform’ policies are counter-productive. Whenever people like Nick Griffin are actually given a platform, they expose themselves as incoherent and small-minded, and it gives the rest of us a chance to argue against them.

Denying them a platform usually leads to martyrish cries of censorship and political correctness, and does little to challenge the fear- and hate-mongering.

It’s interesting to see stalwart anti-fascist groups like Hope Not Hate Coming Round to that point of view.

Update: Nick Lowles expands on his comments and responds at the Hope Not Hate blog.

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About the author
Robert Sharp designed the Liberal Conspiracy site. He is Head of Campaigns at English PEN, a blogger, and a founder of digital design company Fifty Nine Productions. For more of this sort of thing, visit Rob's eponymous blog or follow him on Twitter @robertsharp59. All posts here are written in a personal capacity, obviously.
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Reader comments


1. Chaise Guevara

“Denying them a platform usually leads to martyrish cries of censorship and political correctness”

Accurate cries of censorship and political correctness. A mild form of censorship, to be fair, but censorship nonetheless, in the name of political correctness.

In the 1970s, the late Professor Eysenck was repeatedly prevented by university students from delivering psychology lectures on IQ tests and race with claims that he was promoting racist propaganda, no matter the evidence – which btw shows ethnic Chinese and Indians doing relatively well in IQ tests as compared with caucasians.

He commented that in the 1930s he had fled from Austria and sought asylum in Britain in order to escape Nazi persecution.

Some contend that what is called Communitarianism approaches fascist practices by applying community pressures to promote conformity with community values.

Whoa, no there is no censorship issue with a ‘no platform’ stance. No one is denying anyone the right to speak or publish anything; they are only denied certain platforms to say what they want to use to further their political agenda. They are not being a right to speak; they are being denied a right to be heard. Nobody has a right to be heard at all, far less an automatic right to a fair hearing. The Nazis/fascists don’t want free speech, per se, they have got that and as much as they want. Christ if there is a single cause that suffers from over exposure it is the cause of the (real, rather than hyperbole use of the terms) Nazis/fascism. ‘but you cannot talk about race or immigration’, the bleat, but fuck me, these things are debated all the fucking time in their sad fucking Tory rags. What they actually want is an audience and it is no part of our ‘duty’ to provide them with that.

Nobody complains about the de facto ‘no platform’ stance of the Daily Mail et al run against climate scientists, disability campaigners and genuinely unemployed people trade unionists and a whole host of other people denied a representative voice in the mainstream Right Wing media, so why worry if a primary school denies a holocaust denier or a hate crime advocate the right to hurl abuse at a disabled kid for being weak and lazy?

Don’t like it? Start your own website or meet somewhere else, because you cunts have no right to use public spaces to spread your hate anywhere else.

How am I to know whether that speech I am refusing to listen – or am being prevented from hearing – has ideas and claims sbout supposed facts which effectively challenge prevailing opinions?

There was a time when some refused to listen to Charles Darwin and other scientists speaking about the theory of evolution on the grounds that it conflicted with received doctrine of Creation in the Bible. Even now, by reports there are some schools which refuse to teach the theory of evolution and teach Creationism instead.

Is it finally starting to dawn on some people that coherent arguments rather than ” shut up we don’t like you ” are the way to counter views they oppose ? Obviously it hasn’t dawned on the likes of Jim yet and probably never will but maybe also some people are starting to realise that this is very much a double edged sword and that maybe their natural progressive superiority won’t be enough to protect them against the creeping censorship of the modern world.

@3: “Whoa, no there is no censorship issue with a ‘no platform’ stance.”

Yes, there is, when the platform in question is owned or controlled by the government. When tax money is used. E.g. government broadcasters. If you have the government implementing policies that exclude parts of the society because they have wrong opinions, you indeed do have a censorship issue.

Give them a platform to their views.
Does that go for religious extremists?
Like the clash album “Give the enough rope”
BOB
Professor Eysencks views went a little further; he did call the Irish and Blacks intellectually inferior. A little of a generalisation. But you are right he should be allowed to put forward his view, as so his opponents.

Also I have always felt IQ tests alone are a very simplistic method of evaluating intelligence. You can improve your IQ test scores by practice, so does your innate IQ change ?

8. Chaise Guevara

@ 3 Jim

“Whoa, no there is no censorship issue with a ‘no platform’ stance. No one is denying anyone the right to speak or publish anything; they are only denied certain platforms to say what they want to use to further their political agenda.”

It’s a halfway house. Assuming you don’t have some requirement to be balanced (BBC etc) then absolutely it’s not censorship to choose not to be someone’s messenger. But if you’re a third party putting pressure on the media etc. – perhaps by forming an organisation that boycotts the channel’s advertisers, hassles its staff and so on – all to stop The Hated Enemy getting their views across, then you are engaged in censorship of a milder sort. It’s the difference between “I have decided not to let X write a column in my newspaper” and “I will do all that’s in my power to see that X is silenced.”

“Nobody complains about the de facto ‘no platform’ stance of the Daily Mail et al run against climate scientists (etc.)”

Excuse me? Nobody complains about reporting bias in the Daily Goddamn Mail? There are whole bloody websites dedicated to complaining about it!

“Don’t like it? Start your own website or meet somewhere else, because you cunts have no right to use public spaces to spread your hate anywhere else.”

Um, banning the communication of views you don’t like in public? That IS censorship, no two ways about it.

9. Chaise Guevara

@ Thornavis

“maybe also some people are starting to realise that this is very much a double edged sword and that maybe their natural progressive superiority won’t be enough to protect them against the creeping censorship of the modern world.”

Even that’s a bit depressing, to be honest. It would be nice if the OP had stopped to point out that censorship is bad for a minute.

I think a blanket no platform position approach to censorship is most definitely counter-productive. Difficult to see how it would not create fake martyrs and a sense that voices that some do not like are being silenced.

The fundamental problem is we have no coherent definition of what is an extremist. A Hitler admirer is an objectionable human being because there is so much tyranny that they must ignore to reach that position of admiration. The Stalin admirer is in the exact same position. Should we ban and censor everyone we find objectionable? The so-called “extremists” never see themselves as extremists and probably think everyone else is an extremist. The obsessed usually do. Moreover, those in favour of censorship ALWAYS see themselves in the role of doing the censoring. But NEVER see themselves as being the ones to be censored. The excitable Jim springs to mind.

However, an aversion to censorship does not mean everyone is entitled to a platform to air their views. The Guardian censor through ‘community standards’ and so does Sunny, they are perfectly correct to do so because they set the rules.

“The Guardian censor through ‘community standards’ and so does Sunny, they are perfectly correct to do so because they set the rules.”

“Community standards” led to Galileo being sentenced to permanent house arrest in 1633 for publicising his heliocentric theory of the universe when the universal Catholic church of those times said the universe was geocentric.

Mind you, Galileo was eventually exonerated by the Catholic church – in 1992. Heaven knows what would have happened to Newton and his heretical theories had Catholicism prevailed in England.

When Jenner in the 1790s suggested that infecting people with cowpox stopped them from contracting smallpox he was lampooned. But Jenner was an astute country physician who had noticed that cowgirls, who had contracted cowpox, appeared to be immune to smallpox epidemics, a far more virulent disease which was often fatal. That is how vaccination got started. In 2010, WHO announced that it was the 30th anniversary since the eradication of smallpox, a disease which was estimated to have killed 300 million in 20th century alone.

There is a first time for any novel idea so we should listen to eccentric views. We might just learn something to our advantage.

“Accurate cries of censorship and political correctness. A mild form of censorship, to be fair, but censorship nonetheless, in the name of political correctness.”

It’s not in the name of political correctness at all. It’s in the name of pragmatic politics.

It’s also not censorship, as it’s not practised by the government.

This ‘ public space ‘ thing, what is it exactly ? To me it looks like an entirely artificial concept created to allow its self appointed guardians to police who has access to it. Much the same could be said about the concept of hate speech, which is another nebulous concept. I find the general level of anti Israeli rhetoric in left wing circles and not just left wing to be fair, to be pretty distasteful and without a doubt some of it descends into downright anti semitism, Steve Bell’s puppets cartoon for instance. Unlike some though I have no desire to ban it and neither do I want to put it into some taboo category of hateful things that musn’t be said, the world is full of hateful things, it’s no good retiring to the fainting couch and demanding they be removed from our sight.

@ Chris
So stopping someone from arguing their case in public as a matter of ‘ practical politics ‘ isn’t censorship because it’s not being done by the government ? Fine, you won’t have any objection if someone does it to you then I take it ?

Censorship must be very appealing for those who believe they are absolutely certain to be correct about everything they believe to be true and don’t want to read or hear anything to the contrary for fear they could become confused.

I always thought No platform was stupid and counter productive. People don’t realise how lucky they are to live in peace time. In peace time we need to speak to each other and find out why people feel the way they do. End of.

17. So Much for Subtlety

7. P.Diddy

Does that go for religious extremists?

Why not? Religious extremists usually put people off.

Professor Eysencks views went a little further; he did call the Irish and Blacks intellectually inferior. A little of a generalisation. But you are right he should be allowed to put forward his view, as so his opponents.

Well first of all, we did not take that route. One of the two discoverers of DNA was hounded out of this country for saying much less about Africans. As for it being a generalisation, well, yes, any comment about all Blacks or all Irish people beyond the banal will be a generalisation. However every single study of IQ we have shows people of African origin score substantially lower than people of White European origin who score lower than people of East Asian origin. On average. There is a good article in the Economist arguing this is because of disease. But it is there. The problem with the No Platform policy is precisely this – should we deal with this issue by bullying people into silence, which is what has happened, or should we allow a free and open discussion even if some objectionable people say some objectionable things?

The No Platform people have opted, ironically, for the quasi-Fascist option of shouting people down and refusing to allow debate. The sooner this dies the better.

Also I have always felt IQ tests alone are a very simplistic method of evaluating intelligence. You can improve your IQ test scores by practice, so does your innate IQ change ?

There is an undoubted truth to that. Although IQ tests are actually very good predictors of future academic and hence career success. So they are testing something even if it is simplistic.

Bob @ 4

How am I to know whether that speech I am refusing to listen – or am being prevented from hearing – has ideas and claims sbout supposed facts which effectively challenge prevailing opinions?

Are those views likely to end up with seven million people exterminated in gas chambers?

PJT @ 6

Yes, there is, when the platform in question is owned or controlled by the government.

Yet the Government of the day sought to prevent protesters from entering Greenham Common to carry out acts of free speech. Nor would I be allowed to carry out an exercise in free speech on a Motorway, hospital ward or A submarine. We ban otherwise legitimate acts from tax funded institutions every day, for good, solid practical reasons. I can see no significant difference in principle, between banning people from setting up a podium on a tax payer funded airbase and banning Griffin from spreading his brand of hate from a primary school. ‘You cannot say that’ is NOT the same as ‘you cannot say that here’.

Nowhere have I said that Griffin, Hitchen and other peddlers of filth should be banned from speaking their mind; what I am suggesting they are kept to appropriate places. And for cunts like Griffin that wish to spread hate in order to disrupt and destabilise communities then a school hall or a community centre is simply not an appropriate place.

CG @ 8

all to stop The Hated Enemy getting their views across, then you are engaged in censorship of a milder sort.

No, not censorship. Bias, perhaps, bloody minded even. Un-compromising or even stupid, but not censorship. Again I am not suggesting that Griffin et al should be banned from having views or attempting to get his message across, I am suggesting that decent people should do nothing to aid him and I am going as far to suggest we should every means possible to thwart him. However, I would not support a law banning him from actually saying what he wants to say or banning from seeking to hold meetings.

Excuse me? Nobody complains about reporting bias in the Daily Goddamn Mail?

People complaining about ‘bias’ is one thing, those who most talk about ‘free speech’ the most never comment on the REAL censorship that goes on. We have seen benefit claimants traduced daily in places like the daily mail, but these people are never given ‘free speech’ and yet the ‘Thornavis’ of this World are never exercised about that. They never demand (a la ‘I may disagree with what say, but I defend your right to say it’) the right of reply for millions of people. Surely if we truly believed in ‘free speech’ we would not only allow Melanie Phillips and Richard Littlejohn space to brand every unemployed and disabled person a feckless loser, but we would give each of them a column in the same newspaper?

What these people are defending is not ‘free’ speech but very expensive speech, undertaken on behalf of a rich elite. About the only real channel millions of us have to the mass media is the BBC and when the BBC have the audacity to publish, in any limited form, anything from the mouths of the plebs? Yep, that is ‘biased’ and the same free speecher’s will demand the BBC be banned.

17

IQ tests generally test how well you can do an IQ test. In the past we tested 11 year olds and those who attained a certain score would, if the places were available, move to grammar schools and from there, a certain (small number) went into higher education. This certainly suggests a correlation between higher IQ scores, higher education and better career prospects. Trouble was, only those who scored highly at the age of 11 were admitted into this system and, it’s fair to say, that substantially more children who entered this system failed to move-on to higher education or have any career advantage.

18 Jim: “Are those views likely to end up with seven million people exterminated in gas chambers?”

C’mon. That wasn’t the inevitable or predictable outcome of the expressed anti-semitism of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP). The Party’s fundamental programme of 1920 – which was never amended – had many items often found in the manifestoes of other European socialist parties:
http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/25points.asp

In August 1936, Lloyd George, Britain’s last Liberal Party PM, visited Bertesgarten to meet with Herr Hitler. On his reurn to Britain, Lloyd George wrote a glowing report for the Daily Express of 17 November 1936 on Hitler as a great leader of the German people:

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

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

“The establishment of a German hegemony in Europe which was the aim and dream of the old pre-war militarism, is not even on the horizon of Nazism. …”

Is anyone seriously suggesting that the Daily Express should have been prevented from publishing an article written by Lloyd George on his visit to Germany?

If so, by what means should potentially “pro-fascist” press articles have been filtered, prior to publication, to ensure they didn’t appear in print? Should that censorship apparatus also have been applied to articles extolling the virtues of the Soviet Union, which by the time it finally collapsed at the end of the 1980s had killed off about three times as many people as the Nazis for ideological reasons? The Ukraine famine of 1932/33, resulting from the collectivisation of Soviet agriculture, is estimated to have killed 7 millions. What of the Moscow Show Trials starting in 1936?

Besides, the “final solution” of the Nazis was only adopted as a German state policy at the Wannsee Conference in January 1942 held under the chairmanship of Reinhard Heydrich – who was later assassinated by British-trained Czech partisans in June 1942.

Try this academic assessment by an American sociologist of the motivation of the Nazis:

“The Nazi Party leaders were savvy enough to realise that pure racial anti-semitism would not set the party apart from the pack of racist, anti-semitic, and ultranationalist groups that abounded in post-1918 Germany. Instead, I would suggest, the Nazi success can be attributed largely to the economic proposals found in the party’s programs, which in an uncanny fashion integrated elements of 18th and 19th century nationalist-etatist philosophy with Keynesian economics. Nationalist etatism is an ideology that rejects economic liberalism and promotes the right of the state to intervene in all spheres of life including the economy.” [Brustein: The Logic of Evil – The Social Origins of the Nazi Party 1925-33 (Yale UP, 1996), p.51]

Btw in Britain during the 1930s, governments did not ban the British Union of Fascists, founded by Oswald Mosely in 1932. The Public Order Act of 1936 banned the wearing of political uniforms to prevent attempts to create a British equivalent of the para-military Nazi Brown Shirts.

21. the a&e charge nurse

‘Much as I loathe the Griffins of this world’ – why, oh why, do liberals have to say such things?

Are they so terribly anxious nowadays they feel compelled to parade their portentous dislike of right wing pantomime villains as if it actually signifies anything we haven’t already figured out for ourselves?

It goes without saying that any OP on LC is unlikely to have been written by anybody who does not conform to the usual liberal orthodoxy which when I last checked did not include the febrile ramblings of small minded nationalists.

So does this mean the liberal intelligentsia is finally waking up to the fact hollering ‘shut up’ whenever you hear something you don’t like (rather like a 7 year old throwing a hissy fit) is not a posture that should be supported unless you are something of a control freak?

22. the a&e charge nurse

[18] ‘Nor would I be allowed to carry out an exercise in free speech on a Motorway, hospital ward or A submarine’ – maybe, but NOT because of what was likely to be said, so that line of argument does not take us very far.

This issue is about denying the rights of some groups to use speech forums because others might not want to hear what is being said. Such a posture cannot be squared with the notion of free speech, and in my view free speech is a more important principle than being protected from toxic messages, especially when those messages are being uttered by a national laughing stock, or by some other equally risible villain.

Some people are not very nice – we just have to get over it.

BOB
“When Jenner in the 1790s suggested that infecting people with cowpox stopped them from contracting smallpox he was lampooned. But Jenner was an astute country physician who had noticed that cowgirls, who had contracted cowpox, appeared to be immune to smallpox epidemics, a far more virulent disease which was often fatal. That is how vaccination got started. In 2010, WHO announced that it was the 30th anniversary since the eradication of smallpox, a disease which was estimated to have killed 300 million in 20th century alone?”

True but the moral arguments abound in Jenner’s experiments. What if he had been wrong and there was no correlation between smallpox and cowpox. He deliberately infected the young James Phipps. If Phipps would have died was that, in Taggart accent, MURDER

SMFS
Well first of all, we did not take that route

You worked with Prof E

SMFS
“Although IQ tests are actually very good predictors of future academic and hence career success. So they are testing something even if it is simplistic.”
Have you evidence for that, I would be interested to read that scientific paper.

As for IQ tests. If you come from a society bombarded with IQ type questions and puzzles from birth you will get surely better at those type of puzzles. If you come from a household where you have never seen one before and then a guy with a white coat asks you a number of questions in a form that is alien to you. Is it surprising that you do badly.

Well if we’re going to go down the whole ‘will this lead to the death camps?’ route, I’d suggest we all look at this campaign poster from the past, and compare it to current rhetoric about how much them ‘scroungers’ and ‘shirkers’ are costing ‘us strivers’.

26. Chaise Guevara

@ 12 Chris

“It’s not in the name of political correctness at all. It’s in the name of pragmatic politics.”

Says who? I’ve heard plenty of people say the BNP shouldn’t be allowed on QT etc. etc. because people shouldn’t have to listen to such horrid views. That’s quite obviously political correctness. Other people may support censorship for pragmatic reasons. This is a false dichotomy.

“It’s also not censorship, as it’s not practised by the government.”

Do you really want to start a purely semantic debate, where it turns out you and I use slightly different definitions of the word and then we have a fun and futile argument about who’s definition is better?

27. Chaise Guevara

@ 18 Jim

“No, not censorship. Bias, perhaps, bloody minded even. Un-compromising or even stupid, but not censorship. Again I am not suggesting that Griffin et al should be banned from having views or attempting to get his message across, I am suggesting that decent people should do nothing to aid him and I am going as far to suggest we should every means possible to thwart him.”

Like with Chris, this is semantic. Let’s be clear. When I say censorship I mean using-your-power-to-prevent-people-from-communicating-their-views, and it’s something I am by and large against. Call it what you like, it’s bad.

“People complaining about ‘bias’ is one thing, those who most talk about ‘free speech’ the most never comment on the REAL censorship that goes on.”

Hold on. Now you think that the DM not publishing everyone’s opinion IS censorship?

“We have seen benefit claimants traduced daily in places like the daily mail, but these people are never given ‘free speech’ and yet the ‘Thornavis’ of this World are never exercised about that.”

I can’t speak for Thornavis, but I never said that newspapers should be compelled to deliver every possible opinion. I said they shouldn’t be compelled not to – by public pressure as well as law.

“What these people are defending is not ‘free’ speech but very expensive speech, undertaken on behalf of a rich elite. About the only real channel millions of us have to the mass media is the BBC and when the BBC have the audacity to publish, in any limited form, anything from the mouths of the plebs? Yep, that is ‘biased’ and the same free speecher’s will demand the BBC be banned.”

Tangential. The interplay of money and power and the competence of the Beeb are both issues, but neither change the central point.

Historically, the ‘no platform’ position of the left – i.e. the left, *not* the liberal-left – has been primarily orientated towards fascist mobilisations, not the promotion of fascist ideas per se.

Fascism thrives on the symbolism of street marches, on the intimidation of boots on the ground and fist fights, thus the idea is to deprive them of this forum. Now, there’s a good argument that counter-demonstrators physically engaging fascists serves to benefit the fascists by giving them what they want, but the idea that a counter-demonstration is in and of itself ‘censorship’ is, frankly, ludicrous.

The real left, i.e. the class struggle left, has rarely taken the position that the state should censor fascist marches; rather, they argue that fascist marches shouldn’t be allowed to go unopposed. That is not censorship in any shape or form, it’s *protest*.

Hope Not Hate, by contrast, are an arm of the state, and see fascist marches as a public order issue. Thus they favour state prohibition over public mobilisation, which in turn makes Nick Lowes argument a rather duplicitous one.

The point: one should be very careful not to conflate the different traditions of ‘no platform’ position. One says you’re not welcome in our community and you will not pass through it; the other says we’re banning you from even attempting. One relies on mass community mobilisation; the other, on top-down state prohibition.

Finally, the op-ed is not clear about what they mean with regard to abandoning the ‘no platform’ position. It’s impossible to judge the relative merits of an argument when its entirely in the abstract, with no concrete examples.

Do they think ‘fascists’ should be allowed on the BBC, say on Question Time? Because that has happened, though it’s hard to argue that Griffin should have been allowed more than one appearance given how little support the BNP attract, esp. since its recent implosion.

The EDL leader, the notorious coke-dealer Steven Yaxley-Lennon (aka Tommy Robinson), has also appeared on Newsnight, where Paxman seemed completely unprepared for the debate and unwilling to challenge him – the man was up on assault charges the next day, if I recall correctly, yet he was allowed to parade himself as the voice of the moral majority!

Alternately, does the op-ed think fascist marches should receive police protection? Because, again, they already do – every recent EDL march has had a police escort to ensure that they were allowed to protest, though not necessarily to provoke. Essentially, they’re allowed to protest, just not to march through pre-selected areas with high minority demographics for the purposes of committing violence – when EDL marches have not been policed, they’d tended to rampage through such areas beating up the locals and vandalising their property. Perhaps that’s the ‘platform’ they should be allowed? Perhaps stopping criminal behaviour is now ‘censorship’!?

So, yes, please do tell what this ‘platform’ is that they should be being allowed, because at present the op-ed is little more than a contrarian puff-piece devoid of any substance.

29. Chaise Guevara

@ 28 Feodor

“Now, there’s a good argument that counter-demonstrators physically engaging fascists serves to benefit the fascists by giving them what they want, but the idea that a counter-demonstration is in and of itself ‘censorship’ is, frankly, ludicrous.”

Is anyone actually saying that, though? I know there are always people who think freedom of speech means they should be immune from criticism (i.e. the opposite of what it actually means), but do we have people saying that counter-demonstrations are censorship?

The stuff that worries me is things like the protest against Griffin appearing on QT, and the couple of UAF bigwigs who said they support freedom of speech for everyone except fascists, which is the most breathtakingly hypocritical statement ever.

30. flyingrodent

For all these cries of awful, strangulating political correctness, I’m struggling to think of a single BNP policy, for instance, that doesn’t get a regular airing in the UK’s top-selling media outlets.

From sending ‘em back to closing our borders, to the foreigns are lording it over us and the ethnics love crime, all of it is freely available on your newsstand on a daily basis.

This is not to deny that there are thin-skinned people talking shit and making vexatious allegations of racism etc. day in, day out, as well. There are! Lots of them, in fact.

But the existence of a very successful, powerful and highly inflammatory race-baiting press in the UK shows up all this wibble about PC gone mad for what it is – a bunch of small-minded tits demanding to be allowed to make illogical and whiffy statements, without people then using the appropriate terms to describe their behaviour.

Well, no thanks. I’ve had plenty of ATL posts on this site calling for the likes of Griffin to be given a public platform, so that the electorate can shower his facile policies in the hot urine of public derision. Most of us would do exactly that and this is entirely right and just in a free society.

The fact that Griffin’s numbnut supporters feel he isn’t taken seriously is neither here nor there. Neither is David Icke, but I don’t see any of this mob calling for equal, mockery-free consideration for anti-reptiloid action.

31. flyingrodent

And let’s add that whatever your opinion of UAF is, there are only a few hundred of them even in big cities.

I’m no more worried that they’re going to throttle free speech than I am that a BNP government is going to deport everyone who can’t trace their ancestry to fucking Odin, or whatever nonsense they’re pushing these days.

Neither of these things is going to happen, so maybe we should calm down a bit, eh?

Bob B @ 20

C’mon. That wasn’t the inevitable or predictable outcome of the expressed anti-semitism of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP).

Not in 1920 Germany, perhaps you are right.However, we are not living in the Nineteen Twenties. You could be forgiven for mindlessly following the Nazis and their anti Semitic propaganda as it moved from scapegoating to extermination camps. No doubt it became harder and harder to stand up to these bastards are their vile ideology gained more and more traction. I suppose it is more uncomfortable to be in a minority in a canteen and saloon bar as the whispering campaigns become less whispered. It cannot be easy to defend people who are hated and blamed for the entire lack of wealth and your hardship from all sides of the political debate and the ‘free press’. It must have been difficult to show dissent, lest you be labelled ‘Jew Lover’ or ‘anti German’ or whatever.

The Germans living in 1920s Europe had no comparable warning from history to measure against. I seriously wonder what would happened if we had taken a few million Germans into a collective time machine and showed them the ultimate fruits of their labour in the death camps (leaving aside their defeat aside). Perhaps nothing, perhaps (this is conjecture on my part) a programme of the mass extermination of the Jews and other groups deemed inferior in the Nineteen-twenties. I wonder what would have happened had Hitler opened up with his ‘ultimate solution’. I have no way of knowing to be honest.

However, we do not have the luxury of dumb ignorance. We have a warning from history. Not a warning light on the dashboard of our lives but a huge beacon flashing in our faces. We know where daily attacks on slices of society ends up. We know what happens when to attempt to scapegoat people as a kind of lower caste of humans and we use powerful arguments holding people responsible for a Country’s woes. We know what happens we cut people from the debate to extent that any defence of them will lead to the defender being subject to abuse.

We know where the Tory/Daily Mail (and those who shamefully swing in behind them) railway tracks ultimately lead to. Again we have a warning from history as well as those awful buildings to remind us. What they hope (or at least I hope they hope) is that the can pull the train onto the sidings before the death camps, and perhaps they are right, but do you want to be part of that?

A couple of weeks ago, the Tories ran an advert along the lines of ‘who would you rather give money to?’ Now the fact that they are able to run that advert against a section of society is chilling enough, but the fact that there appeared little or disquiet was more than a bit worrying. We see the spectre of people being accused of ‘breeding’ their way into benefits and the Right’s response to it. They want to restrict family sizes. Is that a million miles away from mass forced sterilization? Far enough at the moment perhaps, but is it too far for the next logical step to advocating that? I bet I could go into any pub in the Country and get half a dozen people to agree that we should be neutering long term unemployed people.

CG @ 27

When I say censorship I mean using-your-power-to-prevent-people-from-communicating-their-views,

Nobody is prevented from communicating their views, they are merely being told to communicate their views from elsewhere. It only becomes censorship when I completely prevent your views from being aired.

Hold on. Now you think that the DM not publishing everyone’s opinion IS censorship?

By your very own defination above, then five million people are ‘censored’ because the Daily Mail or whoever deny them access to a platform.

34. the a&e charge nurse

[31] ‘maybe we should calm down a bit, eh?’ – even though people are now being jailed for offensive comments?
http://ukhumanrightsblog.com/2012/10/09/twelve-weeks-in-prison-for-sick-jokes-really/

And wasn’t David Irving jailed as well (in Austria, admittedly) for arriving at different conclusions based on his research of WW2 documents?

Jim

I’ve engaged in debates on the web since December 1995. In that time, there is an evident bias in the number of times reference is made to the Nazis and their Holocaust policy, which amounted to industrialised homicide of jews, Communists, gays, Jehovah Witnesses, and roma as well as the mentally incapacitated, compared with mentions made of Stalin’s declared policy of “eliminating the kulaks as a class”.

Stalin announced that policy in a speech he made in December 1929 – the Pravda report of the speech is available online. The famines in the Ukraine and Belarus in 1932/33 were consequences of that policy.

On the evidence, it seems that there is a wide public consenus condemning the Holocaust as an atrocity without peer. But in terms of the estimated scale of mortality, the consequences of the famines in the Belarus and the Ukraine in 1932/33 were in the same league of millions. FWIW I do question whether the Holocaust was an atrocity without peer and deplore the implication that lives lost in the Holocaust were somehow more significant than lives lost in the famines of 1932/33.

If fascists are to be denied platforms because of the Holocaust then why not Communist supporters and sympathisers as well? With the passing of time, we are apt to forget what Communist Parties in Western Europe were really like.

Notoriously, the French Communist Party was the most Stalinist minded this side of the Iron Curtain. When Georges Marchais, Secretary General of the Party in France (1972-94), was pressed for comment on the crumbling Soviet empire c.1990, he replied: “I tell you, they didn’t arrest enough. They didn’t imprison enough. If they had been tougher and more vigilant, they wouldn’t have got into the situation they are in now.” [Jonathan Fenby: France on the Brink (1999)]

36. Chaise Guevara

@ 33 Jim

“Nobody is prevented from communicating their views, they are merely being told to communicate their views from elsewhere. It only becomes censorship when I completely prevent your views from being aired.”

If someone would otherwise be able to communicate their views through a medium, and then pressure groups prevent that from happening, they have been prevented from communicating said views to an extent. Enough of this and you seriously skew what opinions and facts come to people’s attention. I think this is bad.

“By your very own defination above, then five million people are ‘censored’ because the Daily Mail or whoever deny them access to a platform.”

I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume, for the moment, that you’ve honestly misunderstood me, rather than deliberately lying about what I said.

I specifically said that I do NOT consider it censorship (by my lights) for a paper, news channel or whatever to decide which views it wishes to communicate. What I said is that I consider it a form of censorship when that medium is pressured to change its policy on what it communicates through outside pressure. Think about how nobody would show those Mohammed cartoons, not because they didn’t want to, but because they were afraid of getting their windows broken. Or for a less extreme example, any TV channel that’s been forced to edit its content for political purposes because of picketing and advertiser boycotts.

Isn’t there something missing here – the BNP wouldn’t find support if it were not for a section of society who have found themselves without a voice.
Mass immigration has helped to create an ignored underclass – who on LC speaks for them.

Isn’t there something missing here – the BNP wouldn’t find support if it were not for a section of society who have found themselves without a voice.
Mass immigration has helped to create an ignored underclass – who on LC speaks for them
In the 1930’s there fore runners, were quite popular then, not mass immigration then.
Immigration maybe a factor in the rise of the underclass but there are many others. Poor education, lack of community (destruction of unions, mining communities), drugs and welfare dependency, a lack of respect for any type of authority. Left and right can share the blame.

39. So Much for Subtlety

19. jojo

IQ tests generally test how well you can do an IQ test.

Sure but that is not the end of it. Because smart people tend to do the IQ test well. Or perhaps it is not actual intelligence but how well you will do in exams. Those people tend to go to University and people who don’t do well in exams don’t. Either way it seems to be measuring something useful.

In the past we tested 11 year olds and those who attained a certain score would, if the places were available, move to grammar schools and from there, a certain (small number) went into higher education. This certainly suggests a correlation between higher IQ scores, higher education and better career prospects.

Except the 11 Plus was never just an IQ test. There was an exam as well. In America where the university system is more open to more people for more reasons, IQ tests have been found to be very good predictors of university success. So it is not that they are passing the 11 plus.

Trouble was, only those who scored highly at the age of 11 were admitted into this system and, it’s fair to say, that substantially more children who entered this system failed to move-on to higher education or have any career advantage.

Except we know one thing – that system of Grammar schools and exams allowed more bright working class children into University and hence into positions of power than any system before – or since. Thanks to the 11 Plus, and the use of quasi-IQ testing, British Prime Ministers stopped being privately educated with Macmillan and remained Grammar school graduates down to Tony Blair. The 11 Plus ensured the best and brightest, not the richest, got into the highest office. But the abolition put idiots like Blair back in charge.

24. P.Diddy

Well first of all, we did not take that route

Which route?

As for IQ tests. If you come from a society bombarded with IQ type questions and puzzles from birth you will get surely better at those type of puzzles. If you come from a household where you have never seen one before and then a guy with a white coat asks you a number of questions in a form that is alien to you. Is it surprising that you do badly.

Sure. And someone published a study recently that showed a “linguistic deficit” in poor New York children. Middle class children had heard more words, and more complex words, than poor ones by the time they hit primary school. A lot more. In the millions. But I don’t see how any education system is going to over come this.

However notice that Asian children, who often come from a peasant background and have nothing in common with the guys in the White coats, do very well indeed. If the test was given in Jamaican patios, by Rastas, as long as it was important for university entrance, does anyone think it would have the slightest bit of difference in outcome?

40. So Much for Subtlety

32. Jim

We know what happens when to attempt to scapegoat people as a kind of lower caste of humans and we use powerful arguments holding people responsible for a Country’s woes. … We know where the Tory/Daily Mail (and those who shamefully swing in behind them) railway tracks ultimately lead to.

The irony is your utter lack of self awareness Jim. As you and Sally are the main providers of this sort of hate here on LC. In fact I would say that you are one of the biggest haters on the British end of the internet as a whole. More vile and dehumanising in your language than the EDL or even the BNP. And yes, we do know where your language leads. It is a pity you do not.

A couple of weeks ago, the Tories ran an advert along the lines of ‘who would you rather give money to?’ Now the fact that they are able to run that advert against a section of society is chilling enough, but the fact that there appeared little or disquiet was more than a bit worrying.

The Tories having a debate about who we spend money on? This is somehow “a warning from history”? The problem here Jim is that you are losing the argument and so naturally you want the State to ban the other side from putting their case. In the real world, there is nothing wrong with a debate about how taxes are spent.

We see the spectre of people being accused of ‘breeding’ their way into benefits and the Right’s response to it. They want to restrict family sizes. Is that a million miles away from mass forced sterilization?

Well forced sterilisation is an inherent part of the welfare state Social Democratic model. Which is why places like Sweden did it so often for so long. Because there is an issue here and simply saying people who point it out are Nazis is not a solution.

I bet I could go into any pub in the Country and get half a dozen people to agree that we should be neutering long term unemployed people.

I bet you could too. And what is the alternative but the end of the welfare state under a flood of dysgenic births?

On IQ tests and the 11+ exams for entry to grammar schools, Nobel Laureate Sir Peter Mansfield FRS failed his 11+ exam and went to a secondary school, which he left at 15 to become an apprentice bookbinder. He took night school classes to gain the necessary entry qualifications for a place at university where, in due course, he graduated in physics with first class honours. His Nobel award was for developing the software for MRI scanners.

I’ve known several distinguished academics who virtually boasted that they failed their 11+ exams. But the issue at stake here is whether Eysenck should have been stopped from delivering his psychology lectures on IQ and race on the grounds that such lectures to university student were “racist” – even though one of the findings was that the median IQs of ethnic Chinese and Indians as measured tended to be higher than that of caucasians.

42. flyingrodent

At the A&E Charge Nurse:

David Irving did not go to jail for “arriving at different conclusions based on his research of WW2 documents”.

David Irving went to jail because he went to a country where he knew it was illegal to deny the Holocaust, and then he denied the Holocaust.

I do not support sending Holocaust deniers to prison. Nonetheless, if people insist on going to places where Holocaust denial is illegal so that they can deny the Holocaust, I’m not filled with sympathy. At all.

Irving wanted to be a free speech martyr – he is one, now. Nobody cares and anyone you ask will say – Fuck him, what a dick. They’re 100% right to say so.

43. flyingrodent

Anyone mystified by So Much For Subtlety’s chat about “dysgenic births” might like to Google his previous declarations of support for General Francisco Franco. It might all start to make sense.

Chaise: ‘Is anyone actually saying that, though?’

Tbh Chaise, I don’t know what they’re saying. You’re about the only person to highlight a concrete example of what you’re for and against. To wit:

‘The stuff that worries me is things like the protest against Griffin appearing on QT, and the couple of UAF bigwigs who said they support freedom of speech for everyone except fascists…’

I have no problem if people want to protest Griffin’s appearance. Who appears on QT is an editorial decision and it’s not ‘censorship’ to dissent against the decisions taken.

Personally, I’d like to see more academics and serious thinkers (i.e. not newspaper ideologues, both left and right) on the show and fewer token celebrities – they had Clarke Carlisle on one panel, ffs. I’d also like to see less audience participation and less interruption from the other panellists when someone else is speaking, alongside more of a focus on fact-checking. And though I don’t think it worthwhile to ‘protest’ in favour of such things, I don’t mind if others do.

Nevertheless, me or anyone else advancing their view of what QT should be like doesn’t qualify as a call for ‘censorship’. The demand ‘freedom of speech for everyone except fascists’ in general is, however, and I don’t support that.

flyingrodent: ‘For all these cries of awful, strangulating political correctness, I’m struggling to think of a single BNP policy, for instance, that doesn’t get a regular airing in the UK’s top-selling media outlets.’

It’s always been the case that, for socialists to have their views aired, they’ve needed to set up their own press,* whereas for fascists, the right-wing press is generally happy to give their views an airing.

*Anyone who thinks the champagne socialism of Guardian writers – in other words, bleeding heart liberalism – shows that class-based socialist analysis gets a hearing, is deeply mistaken.

flyingrodent: ‘And let’s add that whatever your opinion of UAF is, there are only a few hundred of them even in big cities.’

Moreover, even though it’s nominally an SWP front, it does attract people from a broad political spectrum, who doubtless have different views on what is the correct strategy. Tarring them all with the same brush is a mistake. (For clarity, I’m not saying that’s what you did, just speaking generally.)

the a&e charge nurse: ‘And wasn’t David Irving jailed as well (in Austria, admittedly) for arriving at different conclusions based on his research of WW2 documents?’

‘Different conclusions’ – lol!

He deliberately and systematically distorted evidence. Indeed, the distinguished historian of Germany, Richard J Evans, who gave specialist evidence at a libel trial instigated by Irving, has published a book on the subject – Lying About Hitler: History, Holocaust, And The David Irving Trial.

Given how much postwar Austria has shied away from dealing with the Austrian contribution to the Holocaust, their firm stance on Holocaust denial is one of the few things that can be commended.

I have no problem with countries that have in the past been involved in the systematic extermination of minority groups saying that the promotion of such views are beyond the pale. This is one of those cases where abstract principles (namely, the right to free speech) must face up to concrete reality (namely, the historical results produced by social forces who promoted and excused such policies).

The weight of history has in effect removed the right of Austrians (and Germans) to be virulently anti-Semitic in public. And I have absolutely no problem with that.

(The German left, btw, with the exception of the RAF and similarly noxious grouplets, has often taken a far more sympathetic position towards Israel than the international left in general. This, I think, is only right, and should be commended.)

Bob B: ‘I’ve engaged in debates on the web since December 1995.’

I feel sorry for the internet.

Also, Bob, it’s amazing how in pretty much any discussion you are able to bring up your two favourite hobby-horses – anti-Communism and anti-Catholicism. It’s like listening to a broken record…

So Much for Subtlety: ‘However notice that Asian children, who often come from a peasant background…’

It’s not their background that counts, but the education they’ve received. At present, Asian countries place a far greater emphasis than more or less anywhere else on what might be called the Enlightenment tradition of valuing reason and intellectualism. It’s no surprise that this cultural trait leads to higher IQ scores.

The same cannot be said of ‘Jamaica patios’, meaning who administers the test is irrelevant to the discussion of the results.

So Much for Subtlety: ‘Well forced sterilisation is an inherent part of the welfare state Social Democratic model.’

No it’s not, else the practice would have been more widespread than in just Sweden – which, asfaik, along with Austria (I think), is the only postwar European social democratic welfare state to pursue such policies.

Conversely, the US also sterilised elements of its population, and that is far from a social democratic welfare state. Suggesting, therefore, that the impetus for such policies does not lie where you think it does.

Bob B: ‘But the issue at stake here is whether Eysenck should have been stopped from delivering his psychology lectures on IQ and race on the grounds that such lectures to university student were “racist” – even though one of the findings was that the median IQs of ethnic Chinese and Indians as measured tended to be higher than that of caucasians.’

Concluding that non-white ‘races’ scored higher does not mean the method wasn’t racist: in a technical sense, racism is the systematic ordering of human groups based on the premise that there are distinct ‘races’ which have specific biological characteristics. And that’s exactly what Eysenck claimed, irrespective of the specific group he placed at the top of his hierarchy.

Now, I think Eysenck was wrong and that he was a ‘racist’ in the technical sense of the word. But that does not mean I agree with the treatment he received: I find the the practices of the petit-bourgeois student left of the 60s and 70s abhorrent, esp. with regard to their attempts to restrict academic freedom.

My view, incidentally, is shared by many of those on the traditional left – e.g., the brilliant American Marxist historian Eugene Genovese was at the time a bitter opponent of such practices.

Of course, Genovese later gave up Marxism for Catholicism, which in Bob’s eyes would make him the earthly incarnation of Lucifer!

45. So Much for Subtlety

42. flyingrodent

I do not support sending Holocaust deniers to prison. Nonetheless, if people insist on going to places where Holocaust denial is illegal so that they can deny the Holocaust, I’m not filled with sympathy. At all.

So if Peter Tatchell goes to a country where he knows homosexuality is illegal and he insists on pointing out he is Gay, he only has himself to blame?

43. flyingrodent

Anyone mystified by So Much For Subtlety’s chat about “dysgenic births” might like to Google his previous declarations of support for General Francisco Franco. It might all start to make sense.

It might. However as Franco had not one single policy directed towards even slightly discouraging dysgenic births, it is irrelevant. Franco was, of course, a very traditional Catholic.

44. Feodor

He deliberately and systematically distorted evidence. Indeed, the distinguished historian of Germany, Richard J Evans, who gave specialist evidence at a libel trial instigated by Irving, has published a book on the subject – Lying About Hitler: History, Holocaust, And The David Irving Trial.

Sorry but wasn’t that Deborah Lippstadt and not Evans? I have no interest in Irving at all, but I am not so sure that the conclusions were so strong. I think it did tend to be more a matter of opinion about what documents meant and highly selective use thereof.

Given how much postwar Austria has shied away from dealing with the Austrian contribution to the Holocaust, their firm stance on Holocaust denial is one of the few things that can be commended.

Hardly. Denying people some rights because some other people denied a whole lot of other people even more rights is not a sensible policy. Better to let Irving be an ass if he wants to.

I have no problem with countries that have in the past been involved in the systematic extermination of minority groups saying that the promotion of such views are beyond the pale.

It would not be so bad if the law was applied evenly. But it isn’t. Some genocides are acceptable, some are not. No one is going to prosecute Chomsky for denying Pol Pot’s genocide.

This is one of those cases where abstract principles (namely, the right to free speech) must face up to concrete reality (namely, the historical results produced by social forces who promoted and excused such policies).

No it isn’t. The right to free speech is a principle but when Irving speaks, it is now a concrete reality. Nor has the ban anything to do with the concrete reality of the Holocaust. It is another abstract principle – we mustn’t upset the survivors and we should not allow the Germans to support the Nazis again.

The weight of history has in effect removed the right of Austrians (and Germans) to be virulently anti-Semitic in public. And I have absolutely no problem with that.

Bollocks. History can do no such thing. Nor should it. It is unacceptable for “history” (i.e. well meaning people all over the world) to decide for anyone else what they can and cannot say. Even if it is vile.

It’s not their background that counts, but the education they’ve received.

We were talking about children with experience of people in White coats. So it is more than the education. But let’s go with this. Black Americans and British people of Afro-Caribbean origin receive substantially similar educations to the White majority and to other minorities. They do not do remotely as well as those other groups. It is not the education they get at school.

At present, Asian countries place a far greater emphasis than more or less anywhere else on what might be called the Enlightenment tradition of valuing reason and intellectualism. It’s no surprise that this cultural trait leads to higher IQ scores.

There is no Asian country I know of where children are expected to value reason and intellectualism. Not in East Asia at any rate. They are expected to memorise, do lots of tests and agree with whatever the teacher says. Any contradiction of the teacher or the curriculum, outside Hong Kong, will earn you a fail.

The same cannot be said of ‘Jamaica patios’, meaning who administers the test is irrelevant to the discussion of the results.

There is a good claim that IQ tests have a cultural bias. Of course no one has managed to come up with a test without such a bias that Blacks do not do worse on, but the criticism has a point.

No it’s not, else the practice would have been more widespread than in just Sweden – which, asfaik, along with Austria (I think), is the only postwar European social democratic welfare state to pursue such policies.

Yes it is and of course Sweden was not the only country to do so. Switzerland also continued to do it until the 1970s. Postwar? Well, yes, such policies became less popular after the war. I would suggest that all the non-Catholic Social Democratic countries experimented with this idea at one time or another but not many felt the need to persist past 1945. Note that it was the Catholic Church that opposed such policies elsewhere. Not the Left.

Conversely, the US also sterilised elements of its population, and that is far from a social democratic welfare state. Suggesting, therefore, that the impetus for such policies does not lie where you think it does.

But those parts with the strongest Social Democratic tradition – places in the Mid-North-West with heavy Nordic migration – were actually the first to start. The places where sterilisation was popular in the US was places where the Progressive movement was strong like Oregon and parts of the South like Virginia. The latter should not obscure the former. So it does.

in a technical sense, racism is the systematic ordering of human groups based on the premise that there are distinct ‘races’ which have specific biological characteristics. And that’s exactly what Eysenck claimed, irrespective of the specific group he placed at the top of his hierarchy.

But that means genetics is inherently racist. As this is what the science tells us. You can take your blood to a DNA lab and they will tell you your racial background, down to the part of Africa your ancestors came from if any did so in recent times. Human groups did in fact evolve and split off from the African origin of mankind. They remained largely non-inter-breeding thereafter – varying from place to place and time to time of course. And so over time they have come to have unique identifying DNA. Human beings do in fact form distinct groups.

With the benefit of hindsight, I bet Griffin wishes he’d been banned from QT.

47. the a&e charge nurse

[42] ‘Irving wanted to be a free speech martyr – he is one, now. Nobody cares and anyone you ask will say – Fuck him, what a dick. They’re 100% right to say so’ – rubbish, people do care, and care a great deal because an important principle is at stake; one that cannot simply be brushed aside when an individual does not fit a blue print for being an ideal citizen.

For more nuanced opinions about the 3 year jail sentence meted out in Austria, see here.
http://www.revisionisthistory.org/davidirving.html

One of Irvings claims is that he trawled through original, source documents connected to Hitler – “70ft shelf length” worth of material, before claiming there is not a single one linking Hitler to decisions about the holocaust – this from the man who proved one of Britain’s foremost historians (Hugh Trevor Roper) wrong about the Hitler diaries.
(youtube – David Irving interview – ‘An independent mind’ – 2008)

Anyway, why should Irving not be allowed to say such things in Austria?
SMFS asks @45 ‘if Peter Tatchell goes to a country where he knows homosexuality is illegal and he insists on pointing out he is Gay, he only has himself to blame?’ – that is a very good point – so, I hope you are not suggesting that just because the state dislikes certain things we should keep schtum about it?
Or would you consider Tatchell (in this hypothetical situation) to be a ‘free speech martyr’ for pointing out that being gay is perfectly OK, irrespective of geography?

CG @ 36

If someone would otherwise be able to communicate their views through a medium, and then pressure groups prevent that from happening, they have been prevented from communicating said views to an extent

No, all they are being asked to do is go somewhere else. Nobody is stopping them from speaking, all they are doing at worse is denying them an audience. Any m ore than if Tesco ban me from a shop, for whatever reason, equals starving me to death.

We all have a right to free speech, but none of us have a right to a platform or an audience.

So Much for Subtlety: ‘Sorry but wasn’t that Deborah Lippstadt and not Evans?’

Irving’s libel claim was against her and Penguin publishers; Evans was the expert witness charged with reviewing Irving’s publications, his use of sources, etc. His conclusion was that, on occasions, Irving deliberately distorted evidence, even going as far as to falsify it.

And for what it’s worth, while historians are never ‘a-political’ (Evans votes Labour), Evans is someone who might be described as fair and balanced to a fault, someone who always consults as broad a range of specialist literature as is possible, and who rarely comes down strongly on an issue.

Personally, I often find his fence-sitting annoying: his best writing, the writing which shows him to be really insightful, is the odd piece he’s penned while pissed off at someone. (E.g., there’s a short but brilliant essay in one of his books, a review of another historian’s work which picks him to pieces – in the footnotes, you find out that said historian had once dismissed Evans’ scholarship with a one-line put-down.)

So Much for Subtlety: ‘Denying people some rights because some other people denied a whole lot of other people even more rights is not a sensible policy.’

It is if there is a direct link between the earlier and later groups.

So Much for Subtlety: ‘No one is going to prosecute Chomsky for denying Pol Pot’s genocide.’

How does what Chomsky says to an English-speaking audience have any effect in Cambodia? In this context, he’s an irrelevance – some might say he’s an irrelevance in most contexts! ;)

The same cannot be said of Irving’s deliberate attempt to challenge Austrian laws by going there and denying the Holocaust. He was perfectly free to be an ass everywhere but Austria and Germany; yet being an ass wasn’t enough for him, he wanted to be a martyr.

So Much for Subtlety: ‘Nor has the ban anything to do with the concrete reality of the Holocaust.’

Nonsense. How could there even be a ban if the event had not happened?

Furthermore, most of the Austrian statutes on these issues were passed in the immediate aftermath of the war, when there was a real chance of a (neo-)Nazi revival. They choose to retain these laws because, as a democratic nation that has previously had its democracy overturned by anti-democratic elements on the far-right, they consider it too great a risk to allow them any chance of regroupment and revival.

It is not undemocratic for democracies to protect themselves from their enemies, and some democracies need more protection than others. We can debate where the line is drawn, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a line – e.g., Britain currently considers certain Islamic radicals as beyond the pale, but that doesn’t mean Britain is no longer a democratic nation.

So Much for Subtlety: ‘It is another abstract principle – we mustn’t upset the survivors and we should not allow the Germans to support the Nazis again.’

If you think postwar Austrian politics is at all fussed with not upsetting Holocaust survivors, then you don’t know very much about postwar Austrian politics.

So Much for Subtlety: ‘History can do no such thing.’

Of course it can. Historical experience creates what may be termed ‘social facts’, widely accepted truths that guide future action.

E.g., the history of religious intolerance or racial oppression now means that, e.g., we don’t allow such things to be expressed in classrooms. Perhaps this makes primary schools a little blander, but I don’t think you’ll find many people who would like to see this change.

So Much for Subtlety: ‘Black Americans and British people of Afro-Caribbean origin receive substantially similar educations to the White majority and to other minorities. They do not do remotely as well as those other groups. It is not the education they get at school.’

Probably not, though you have to accept that not all schools are of the same quality, and that not all ethnic groups are equally distributed over the range of schools.

If black children are more likely to attend under-performing schools, which they are, it’s not surprising they’ll also under-perform. A society-wide comparison is thus rendered invalid: the only really valid one would be one which only considered all pupils in one school, and even here there would be anomalies.

At most one should only compare results in tests where all other factors are similar if not identical. And even then, this would not prove that ‘race’ was the determining factor, instead of say culture and cultural difference.

White working-class boys currently do very badly in this country, and they are also very badly behaved. This has nothing to do with biology: it’s reflective of the trend of the past few decades in white working-class communities of anti-intellectualism, poor nutrition and child-rearing by plonking the kids in front of the telly.

So Much for Subtlety: ‘There is no Asian country I know of where children are expected to value reason and intellectualism.’

I was thinking of China in particular. But the cultural aspects you cite with regard North East Asia, the promotion of hard-work and respect in the classroom, clearly support the culture-as-main-determinant argument more than they do the biology-as-main-determinant argument.

So Much for Subtlety: ‘Of course no one has managed to come up with a test without such a bias that Blacks do not do worse on…’

‘Blacks’ in general, as a social group, one which is typically on the lowest socio-economic rung.

Doubtless among better-off ‘blacks’ and even some from worse-off backgrounds, one will find high IQ scores. If this is so, then the claim that biology plays the determinant role falls apart.

They are not the exception that proves the rule, they are the exception that invalidates it.

So Much for Subtlety: ‘Well, yes, such policies became less popular after the war. I would suggest that all the non-Catholic Social Democratic countries experimented with this idea at one time or another but not many felt the need to persist past 1945.’

How many European states pre-1945 can be described as social-democratic welfare states? The development is a postwar phenomenon: one can find aspects of it before 1945, but it wasn’t really realised until after 1945. (Perhaps only with the partial exception of Scandinavia, but comparing Scandinavian social democracy with west European is very much an apples and oranges situation, on account of the historical developmental differences between the two areas.)

So Much for Subtlety: ‘Note that it was the Catholic Church that opposed such policies elsewhere.’

Bob just phoned, he says you’re lying: Catholics are rotten bastards, every last one of them! ;)

So Much for Subtlety: ‘But those parts with the strongest Social Democratic tradition…’

You’re moving the goalposts: you said social-democratic welfare states, which America certainly is not.

Moreover, correlation does not prove causation. If you really want to sustain this argument, you’re going to have to show a direct link; i.e., prove that these traditions directly or indirectly gave rise to these policies.

The areas you mention were generally also more ‘modern’, and such policies are definitely part of the ‘modernist’ tradition. That’s more likely to be the main cause.

Eugenics, after all, was both embraced and then rejected pretty much across the political spectrum. And that ‘such policies became less popular after the war’ is, incidentally, another example of one of those social facts that arise out of historical experience.

So Much for Subtlety: ‘But that means genetics is inherently racist… You can take your blood to a DNA lab and they will tell you your racial background’

No, genetics can tell your ethnic background, based on a few genetic traits you will share with some group or another. Most of your genetic traits, however, will be ones that are shared by persons across a broad spectrum of ethnic groups.

The only ordering they are likely to do, is in terms of susceptibility to certain diseases, which is typically determined by environmental factors. There’s no claim that intelligence, modes of behaviour, etc., are dependent on genetics, or that one can detect differences between different ethnic groups on this front.

Looking back on what I originally wrote, it should have been: in a technical sense, racism is the systematic ordering of human groups based on the premise that there are distinct ‘races’ with specific biological characteristics, AND THAT IN TURN THESE BIOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS DETERMINE SOCIAL BEHAVIOURS AND ATTRIBUTES.

It was an error not to include that final clause.

the a&e charge nurse: ‘…this from the man who proved one of Britain’s foremost historians (Hugh Trevor Roper) wrong about the Hitler diaries.’

If I remember correctly, Irving was hardly consistent on this issue: first he said they were a forgery, then he said they were authentic, before than changing his mind again and declaring them a forgery!

the a&e charge nurse: ‘For more nuanced opinions about the 3 year jail sentence meted out in Austria, see here.’

I read your ‘nuanced opinions’ and there’s nothing ‘nuanced’ about them. There’s certainly no sign that any of the authors have even the slightest clue as to the intricacies of the Austrian political and legal situation.

Some selected quotes:

> ‘The issue is not whether Mr Irving is right or wrong. Even if he is wrong, should he go to jail for that?’ (The Daily Times, Pakistan.)

‘Even if’…?

The whole thrust of this article, btw, is to say that Europe as a whole is hypocritical because one country (Austria) jails Holocaust deniers, while the rest of the continent allows the Prophet Muhammad to be depicted in derogatory terms, thus offending a billion Muslims.

Thus not only do they erroneously assume that Austrian law on this issue is determined by not wanting to cause Jews offence, which is not the case at all, they also absurdly generalise from a nation-specific policy that is not on the statute books of the majority of European states.

‘Nuanced’ my arse.

> ‘One of the most eminent British historians, David Irving…’ (Yamin Zakaria.)

‘Eminent’…? Good grief!

Again, this article seems to want to attack Britain and Denmark for what happened in Austria. Does the writer not realise they are different countries?

These are the most disturbing lines:

‘Why is it that Europe cannot tolerate constructive criticisms of the “Holocaust”, which is far less than the insults they throw constantly at Islam and Muslims day and night? Muslims do and can tolerate constructive criticism, but are not prepared to tolerate insults.’

‘Constructive criticisms of the “Holocaust”‘ – note the inverted commas around Holocaust.

‘ Many commentators have already labeled the Muslims as the new Jews of Europe, but nobody dares to mention that the Jews have become the new Church in Europe. In line with the notion of being God’s chosen people, the Jews are sacred, but not the Palestinians, Arabs, Muslims — even the native (white) Europeans and Americans are expendable for Israel. All because the blood of a Goy (Gentile), is not the same as a Jew, as expressed by the Rabbis.’

Typical anti-Semitic world Jewry type nonsense.

This is what you consider ‘nuanced’ a&e charge nurse?

> ‘On 20th February, 2006 British historian David Irving has been sent to a three years imprisonment by an Austrian kangaroo court which is run by the subordinates of the World Zionist Congress because of his different opinion about an event of the European II World war whose existence/accuracy is hotly disputed ever since… The Polish authorities have since admitted that the structure in question [i.e. Auschwitz] was built in 1948.’ (Al-Hilal.)

No comment is really necessary here; the words speak for themselves.

> ‘The new inquisition has its latest victim in its hungry maw, dissident historian David Irving, sentenced in Vienna to three years in prison for blaspheming the sacred icon of Holocaustianity, those Auschwitz execution gas chambers. A correspondent points up a faux pas on the part of the highest of all high-profile holohoax scribblers, Professor Deborah Lipstadt… Scoring points against Judaism is not allowed, and Irving must carry on without the professional consciences of the western world… Irving too is being persecuted for the sake of God, or rather for Judaism’s strange gods.’ (Michael A. Hoffman.)

Look at the language used, is this ‘nuanced opinion’? More like anti-Semitic frothing at the mouth.

> ‘The [Holocaust] industry is also not very good at asking such questions as why we need to know, down to the last pornographic detail, everything that happened to Jewish people in Hitler’s gruesome imperium, or whether there should be university courses in Holocaust tourism (management thereof).’ (Michael Burleigh.)

Burleigh, incidentally, is a professional historian. He freely admits that he has nothing of consequence to say on this issue: he can’t decide whether Irving deserves to be in prison, nor does he think there is any particular moral to be drawn from the issue. Rather, he just used the opportunity to attack the ‘Holocaust industry’. I don’t know whether that says more about him or the people he was being paid to write for – in this case the Daily Telegraph.
_ _ _ _

I think that’s enough of that. And I think that ‘the a&e charge nurse’ considers this anti-Semitic drivel to be ‘nuanced opinion’ beggars belief. I started reading expecting at least one sophisticated, principled argument in opposition to Irving’s imprisonment, which would be quite easy to do from a free-speech perspective. Yet there was nothing like that to be found on that site, just typical far-right nonsense.

51. flyingrodent

David Irving’s self-inflicted predicament ranks well below reality TV shows in my Big List of Things I Could Not Care Less About, and anyone who thinks there is an equivalence between “being gay” and “intentionally denying the Holocaust” needs to take a tall drink of shut the fuck up.

On the international list of Issues That Should Concern The Public, Irving ranks well below the price of fish cakes in Hong Kong.

There is no evidence that David Irving is taken seriously by any except a small band of Nazi sympathisers. Personal attacks on, and criticism of him render an unnecessary service to his ego and bolsters Zionist paranoia, which bodes badly for the Palestinians.

The trouble is that if David Irving didn’t exist, it would be convenient for the potent Zionist lobby group to invent someone like him. As Gerald Kaufman has aptly observed in a speech he made to Parliament: Israel behaves like Nazis.

53. the a&e charge nurse

[50] the link highlights something like 13 media articles – this is to demonstrate there was international interest in the case, as well as a range of opinions about jailing people for speaking in public about their analysis of WW2 documents.

You say ‘There’s certainly no sign that any of the authors have even the slightest clue as to the intricacies of the Austrian political and legal situation’ – what are these intricacies leaving aside laws which enable people to be locked up for arriving at different conclusions baed on historical research.

[51] FR says “David Irving’s self-inflicted predicament ranks well below reality TV shows in my Big List of Things I Could Not Care Less About” – that comment is totally irrelevant unless participants in TV reality shows are being locked up for expressing an opinion.

[52] this has nothing to do with who or who doesn’t take Irving seriously but whether or not he has the freedom to comment about his research.

54: “this has nothing to do with who or who doesn’t take Irving seriously but whether or not he has the freedom to comment about his research.”

Agreed although my issue here is that long critiques of Irving’s research – as above – accords him unnecessary prominence by taking him seriously.

A treat for me as a small boy during WW2 and after was to be taken to Newsreel cinemas – often the one at Victoria station in London – to see cartoons and Laurel and Hardy movies: there was no TV in those times and I didn’t see TV until I was in my early 20s. I still vividly recall one visit to that Newsreel cinema around the time WW2 in Europe ended in early May 1945.

The newsreel included a report on British troops liberating the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp with graphic images of residents, living and dead, that have remained engraved in memory ever since. Some clips from that same newsreel featured a few years back in TV documentaries celebrating the end of the war which instantly revived those childhood memories.

For me, that newsreel and its horrifying images put an instant end to any questions posed about whether there were concentration camps and the Holocaust. At the time of the TV documentaries celebrating the end of the war, some veterans who had been among the British troops at the liberation of Bergen-Belsen were interviewed and they confirmed what had been found there.

For me, that puts Irving’s denial of the Holocaust in context. The appropriate response to Irving is to simply replay the newsreel report of British troops at Bergen-Belsen.

An important comment is that there had been some disbelief, I think, on the allied side during the war about the rumours and intelligence reports on the scale of the Holocaust. The disbelief, I think, came from an instinct that the reports were too horrible to be credible and similar to the recent initial scepticism about the reports of Jimmy Savile’s abuse of the groupies on the pop scene.

The full scale of the horror of the Holocaust only became apparent as allied troops on the eastern and western fronts came upon the camps and newsreel reports and documentaries started to appear in cinemas.

Here is one among a selection of the newsreel reports posted on YouTube about the liberation of Bergen-Belsen and other concentration camps:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qu_wsreTnzY

So much for Irving’s researches.

56. flyingrodent

Well, look. I’m aware that “So you support free speech, but you also think people should be arrested for smearing the words Zionazi Scums Fuk Of in shite up the door of a synagogue, thus you’re a hypocrite LOL” is a very popular gotcha argument in some circles. Nonetheless, that doesn’t make it a good or perceptive point. It’s bollocks, and childish bollocks, in fact.

If we accept that legalising gay marriage isn’t going to lead to polygamy or folk wedding their cats, or that privatising some utility or other isn’t going to lead to humans becoming wholly-owned slaves of Starbucks… Then I think we’d have to agree that the principle of free speech can survive certain countries criminalising incitement to violence or Holocaust denial. While its great fun to crap our khakis and announce that some Nazi going to jail for deliberately breaking the law is the end of human freedom, I think we need to confirm that this argument is actually a big old bucket of balls.

Additionally, you might like to revise your descriptions here. Irving went to prison for denying the holocaust. When you say he’s in prison for “reaching different conclusions” or some other such decorative cant, people will suspect you of intentionally arguing in bad faith, and they’d be right to do so.

C’mon. Various groups have vested interests in painting Irving as an eminent historian to be taken seriously.

The Zionists do that so that they can show the threat they are up against is real and why they need to go on bashing the Palestinians and stealing Palestinian land to build settlements on.

Iranian President Ahmadinejad does it to justify his claims of Holocaust denial so Iran can supply more weapons to Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon, all paid for by generous Arab donors.

The truth is that Irving is just a pathetic joke. He was a science undergrad at Imperial College when he went public on the Nazi stuff but left without graduating. My guess is that he found he could make a comfortable living from donations for rewriting history to exonerate the nazis. Putting him in jail gives credibility to nazi sympathisers who say the Holocaust is a Zionist hoax perpetrated on a gullible public. Better to replay those many newsreels on YouTube of the liberation of the concentration camps near the end of WW2 in Europe with the horrific images of the dead and dying.

Bob B: ‘There is no evidence that David Irving is taken seriously by any except a small band of Nazi sympathisers.’

In fairness to Irving, there was a time when he had a certain amount of respect within the historical profession. He was known as a serious scholar who was rather sympathetic towards certain Nazi leaders. In turn, this emotional identification with them meant he often approached matters from a slightly different angle with a different emphasis, and because of this he was not without his insights. And, generally speaking, historians welcome a plurality of opinion, esp. opinion which challenges deeply held assumptions.

Of course, once he gave up the methods of serious scholarship in favour of becoming an out and out apologist and fabricator of evidence, he became little more than a crank who no longer commanded anyone’s respect.

the a&e charge nurse: ‘the link highlights something like 13 media articles – this is to demonstrate there was international interest in the case, as well as a range of opinions about jailing people for speaking in public about their analysis of WW2 documents.’

Do you think the other readers and I are that stupid?

You said: ‘For more nuanced opinions about the 3 year jail sentence meted out in Austria, see here.’ That’s rather different from what you say above, and your attempt to backtrack only exposes the poverty of your ‘argument’.

I suspect you were hoping no one would bother to read the articles, because anyone who’s read them can testify that there isn’t a single serious piece among them. They certainly don’t represent ‘a range of opinions about jailing people for speaking in public about their analysis of WW2 documents’. By and large, they amount to little more than anti-Semitic drivel, penned by people who couldn’t tell their arse from their elbow – or, in this case, Austria from Britain.

Moreover, given that you were the person who first brought up Irving, and given the nature of the site you linked to, it’s hard not to conclude that you agree with Irving, you’re just too much of a coward to say so.

the a&e charge nurse: ‘what are these intricacies leaving aside laws which enable people to be locked up for arriving at different conclusions baed on historical research.’

That sentence is barely intelligible.

In any case, for a start see my post @#49, specifically the paragraph that starts, ‘Furthermore, most of the Austrian statutes on these issues were passed in the immediate aftermath of the war…’

If you want to know more, I suggest you read some serious academic scholarship on postwar Austria. I could direct you to books and articles, but you may not be able to access them. There is one reasonably good but short piece available for free though:

http://www.stm.unipi.it/clioh/tabs/libri/7/12-beer_177-192.pdf

Perhaps once your reading begins to extend beyond 200-word opinion pieces, written by people who have no clue about that which they are talking, you’ll be more able to distinguish what properly counts as ‘nuanced opinion’ from the complete rubbish you currently consider it to be. Though I have my doubts…

Bob B: ‘…my issue here is that long critiques of Irving’s research – as above – accords him unnecessary prominence by taking him seriously.’

Where are the ‘long critiques’ Bob? It’s a couple of paragraphs, at most. And when you have people like the a&e charge nurse who try to present Irving as a serious historian engaged in serious historical research, then I think a little critique is in order, else readers unaware of the facts might end up getting the wrong impression. Don’t you agree?

And for what it’s worth, I think your own critique @#54 and #55 is actually bang on the money.

59. the a&e charge nurse

[56] ‘While its great fun to crap our khakis and announce that some Nazi going to jail for deliberately breaking the law is the end of human freedom, I think we need to confirm that this argument is actually a big old bucket of balls’ – some nazi for going to jail for deliberately breaking the law!!
Sorry, do you mean a historian wading through original documents, then being jailed for talking about what he found?

I’m not sure if you are just being obtuse, or deliberately missing the point, but the-state-says-so is not necessarily a convincing argument.

Once you start locking people up for what they say it is hard to avoid the next step which is to widen the scope for what people can be had for – as we are finding to our cost with facebook commentators, or twitterati who now, like Irving, are being jailed on the flimsiest of pretexts.

To my mind this is an extension of the sort of mindset that enabled religious ‘heretics’ to be treated in the way that they were once upon a time.

60. Charlieman

@58. Feodor: “the a&e charge nurse: ‘what are these intricacies leaving aside laws which enable people to be locked up for arriving at different conclusions baed on historical research.’

That sentence is barely intelligible.”

Please mellow a smidge, Feodor. a&e spelled “intricacies” correctly, so his/her contribution, without conventional punctuation, should be respected. a&e rarely uses punctuation other than full stop, but the message is not hard to understand.

Any inclined to take Irving seriously should be invited to view the newsreels and docs posted on YouTube of the liberation of Bergen-Belsen and the other concentration camps.

The visual images of the residents of the camps make the case for the existence of the Holocaust more powerfully than words. Having seen the newsreel of British troops at Bergen-Belsen c. May 1945, it never occurred to me to take Irving seriously.

I suspect that part of the reason historians gave him more than passing attention at one time was because none of the many historians researching the archives of the Third Reich has ever turned up a piece of paper authorising the Holocaust signed by the Fuhrer.

Ian Kershaw in his two-volume biog of Hitler, goes deeper than many historians into researching the political mechanisms of government of the Third Reich. Hitler, too, evidently believed in the equivalent of “sofa government”.

He often didn’t read policy briefs and encouraged government ministers, bureaus, departments, and units to compete in bringing him radical, innovative policy ideas which he would nod through on the hoof or block according to a prevailing mood. During the final months of the war, Hitler was moving mythical divisions around. In that context, the absence of signed paper authorising the holocaust is understandable. But the camps were taken seriously. Rather to my surprise, Ian Kershaw reports that there were some 1600 concentration camps in Germany. It got so that a town of any size believed that it had to have a camp at the rural periphery to be regarded as respectable.

All that said, in the previous decade, I knew two ethnic jews, both secular, who lived through the war, one in Hungary, the other in Germany, without being detained and who came to Britain after the war ended and settled here. Sadly, both are dead now. One was a close colleague in the next office. Their survival shows that some communities were willing to conceal jews whatever the risks in doing so.

62. Charlieman

@60. Charlieman: “a&e rarely uses punctuation other than full stop, but the message is not hard to understand.”

In order to make me look like a fool, a&e punctuates @59. Bastard.

63. So Much for Subtlety

49. Feodor

It is if there is a direct link between the earlier and later groups.

Not that I can see.

How does what Chomsky says to an English-speaking audience have any effect in Cambodia? In this context, he’s an irrelevance – some might say he’s an irrelevance in most contexts! ;)

So you’re going with the “we must not upset the survivors” argument? What Chomsky said certainly had an influence as it was part of a movement to get the US out of Indochina and so let that genocide take place. Which it did. No Chomsky and all his merry men, no Killing Fields.

He was perfectly free to be an ass everywhere but Austria and Germany; yet being an ass wasn’t enough for him, he wanted to be a martyr.

Indeed. I am not overly sympathetic, but it is likely to backfire on the rest of us. As can be seen by the fact we are having this discussion at all. If he had been ignored, we would not be talking about him now.

They choose to retain these laws because, as a democratic nation that has previously had its democracy overturned by anti-democratic elements on the far-right, they consider it too great a risk to allow them any chance of regroupment and revival.

Which is odd because the neo-Nazis were in government and are about to be in government once more. So how’s that working out then? They chose to retain those laws because the Great and the Good have little but contempt for the voters and want to make sure they vote the right way. As can be seen by the on-going farce that is the attempt to ban Vlaams Belang or whatever they have to call themselves this week.

It is not undemocratic for democracies to protect themselves from their enemies, and some democracies need more protection than others.

Yes it is. If those enemies are their own voters. No Fascist party ever came to power through an open ballot. Nor any Communist Party that was anything like a real Communist Party. They required back room deals, or in Austria’s case, an invasion.

We can debate where the line is drawn, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a line – e.g., Britain currently considers certain Islamic radicals as beyond the pale, but that doesn’t mean Britain is no longer a democratic nation.

There is nothing stopping anyone from standing on an Islamist platform. There is nothing to stop Islamists organising at universities. And they do. Thus we are a democratic society. Given we are much more at risk of Islamist violence than neo-Nazi violence, perhaps we should ban the Islamists too? But there is that slippery slope. It doesn’t mean that Britain will immediately cease to be a democratic society, but it can only be a matter of time.

Of course it can. Historical experience creates what may be termed ‘social facts’, widely accepted truths that guide future action.

That just means some people use history as an excuse. Not that History is making anyone do anything.

E.g., the history of religious intolerance or racial oppression now means that, e.g., we don’t allow such things to be expressed in classrooms. Perhaps this makes primary schools a little blander, but I don’t think you’ll find many people who would like to see this change.

Except we do. There are no laws against religious intolerance being expressed in classrooms. We have any number of Muslim, Jewish and Christian schools that do precisely that. We will even allow racism in class rooms as long as it is directed against the right races. We don’t allow such things in State owned schools but that is something else entirely.

Probably not, though you have to accept that not all schools are of the same quality, and that not all ethnic groups are equally distributed over the range of schools.

True but Hindus and Muslims from South Asia look much the same to White racists and go to much the same schools and yet have significantly different outcomes.

If black children are more likely to attend under-performing schools, which they are, it’s not surprising they’ll also under-perform.

And yet children of Africa origin go to the same schools and out perform children of Afro-Caribbean origin. In the US, children of Afro-Caribbean origin go to the same schools and out perform children of African American origin.

At most one should only compare results in tests where all other factors are similar if not identical. And even then, this would not prove that ‘race’ was the determining factor, instead of say culture and cultural difference.

Given you admit this is impossible, it is probably better to look at a wider range of tests over many schools, so that as many other factors as possible can be removed or averaged out.

White working-class boys currently do very badly in this country, and they are also very badly behaved. This has nothing to do with biology: it’s reflective of the trend of the past few decades in white working-class communities of anti-intellectualism, poor nutrition and child-rearing by plonking the kids in front of the telly.

I agree that the last part is likely to be the cause, but don’t rule out biology. It may be that the grammar schools took every child genetically suited to higher education out of the working class. I doubt it, but it is possible.

I was thinking of China in particular.

So was I.

‘Blacks’ in general, as a social group, one which is typically on the lowest socio-economic rung.

Doubtless among better-off ‘blacks’ and even some from worse-off backgrounds, one will find high IQ scores. If this is so, then the claim that biology plays the determinant role falls apart.

Middle class Blacks in the US do worse on IQ tests and on SATs than working class Whites. Doubt it. It is true that Blacks tend to be poorer. But then chicken or egg?

How many European states pre-1945 can be described as social-democratic welfare states? The development is a postwar phenomenon: one can find aspects of it before 1945, but it wasn’t really realised until after 1945.

Quite a lot of them.

You’re moving the goalposts: you said social-democratic welfare states, which America certainly is not.

No I am not. You introduced America. I pointed out that it was precisely where those Social Democratic traditions were strongest that in fact eugenics began.

Moreover, correlation does not prove causation. If you really want to sustain this argument, you’re going to have to show a direct link; i.e., prove that these traditions directly or indirectly gave rise to these policies.

There is a reasonable body of literature showing just this. Plus a large number of supporters of welfare who argued for such laws. It is an inherent part of the social democratic tradition – welfare creates a free rider problem. It creates a feckless underclass. What to do about it? We embrace their alternative modes of living now, but in the past the solution was Work Camps – also popular before 1945 – and/or sterilisation.

The areas you mention were generally also more ‘modern’, and such policies are definitely part of the ‘modernist’ tradition. That’s more likely to be the main cause.

But parts of the US without a strong Social Democratic tradition and without a significant race problem did not impose such policies. Oregon, yes; Virginia, yes; but New York? No. Britain? No. It doesn’t look as if it is just modernism to me. Also of course Iceland used to have a system of local welfare and men who had children on welfare could be, and were, castrated.

No, genetics can tell your ethnic background, based on a few genetic traits you will share with some group or another. Most of your genetic traits, however, will be ones that are shared by persons across a broad spectrum of ethnic groups.

They can’t tell you your ethnic background because ethnicity is not reflected in DNA. Serbs and Croats almost certainly share 100% of their DNA. A child of African origin adopted by an Italian couple is ethnically Italian. But not racially. The DNA can tell you the latter but not the former.

We share most of our DNA with chimpanzees and, if it comes down to it, sheep, chickens and dogs. It doesn’t mean that species are false. There are DNA markers which tend to identify your racial origin. Racial groups are actually distinct.

The only ordering they are likely to do, is in terms of susceptibility to certain diseases, which is typically determined by environmental factors. There’s no claim that intelligence, modes of behaviour, etc., are dependent on genetics, or that one can detect differences between different ethnic groups on this front.

No one denies that intelligence is dependent on genetics. The only questions are by how much and whether that is equally distributed across the whole human race – notice that Stephen Jay Gould, as politically correct as you could want, admitted the former and seems to question the latter.

It was an error not to include that final clause.

That is true.

64. the a&e charge nurse

[58] I said ‘what are these intricacies leaving aside laws which enable people to be locked up for arriving at different conclusions based on historical research.’
You said ‘That sentence is barely intelligible’ – I take this to mean you can offer no reasonable explanation as to why such a foolish, and anti-liberal position has been adopted.

Simple question – do you approve of the jail sentence handed out to Irving – since you are banging the drum for the Austrian authorities I assume you must approve of their, err, methods?

Oh, and while we are it – I am sure there must be other unsympathetic characters still at liberty to utter all sorts of unsavoury opinions – surely the Austrian solution should be employed more widely?

Important lessons from history:

In the run-up to the elections in Germany in 2005, I wanted to know something more about Germany’s post-war constitution and its PR electoral system so I went to the well-reputed central reference library in the borough where I live to look for books. I asked a librarian there for help in using the computer index of library books. He turned up one book on modern German politics – a respectable academic text – amidst literally dozens of books on the Third Reich. A week or so later, I did a similar exercise for France with similar results – dozens of books on the French revolution and the Napoleonic wars with only one book on modern French politics.

The Third Reich and the History of Communism in the Soviet Union are widely chosen periods for A-level history. What is the point? As the recent financial crisis has shown, it would have made much greater sense to study the history of inter-war period or the economic history of Britain since WW2.

To maintain public order, some countries in the European Union – such as Austria, France and Germany – have found it necessary to put holocaust deniers in prison for years. We have not found it necessary to do that in Britain and I prefer to keep it that way.

Jailing people for writing bad or biased history sends out the wrong message to students. All history reflects the bias of historians and current fashions which needs correcting through continuous open debate. Jailing people for writing “bad” history promotes that Orwellian insight: Who control the past controls the future. Who control the present controls the past.

61

Totally OT – Professor Ian Kershaw retired from Sheffield University in 2008, his lectures on Hitler and the Third Reich were totally mesmerizing.

Charlieman: ‘Please mellow a smidge, Feodor.’

It was the ‘leaving aside laws which…’ that I found unintelligible. I suspect it should be ‘give rise to laws which’, ‘produced laws which’ or something similar – at least that’s how I read it.

And given the views the a&e charge nurse is promoting, I see no reason to be either mellow or respectful.

Bob B: ‘I suspect that part of the reason historians gave him more than passing attention…’

You suspect wrong. When Irving had some respect, it was before he had started questioning the Holocaust.

And yes, the intentionalist-functionalist debate is interesting, as is the manner in which Hitler conducted governmental affairs. But no serious participant in these debates thinks Hitler was unaware of what was going on, irrespective of the absence of a signed order.

So Much for Subtlety: ‘So you’re going with the “we must not upset the survivors” argument?’

No, no I’m not.

So Much for Subtlety: ‘No Chomsky and all his merry men, no Killing Fields.’

I would have thought that American and Chinese intervention to reinstate the Khmer Rouge was more significant. But if you want to lay the blame on a lone linguist and political dissident, then that’s your choice.

So Much for Subtlety: ‘…but it is likely to backfire on the rest of us.’

I fail to see how Austria’s long-standing anti-Nazi laws* are likely to backfire on the rest of us. They’ve been there for over 50 years and they haven’t ‘backfired’ yet. What makes you think this will change?

*It’s important to bear in mind that the Austrian Holocaust denial laws are part of a wider set of laws banning any kind of public expression of Nazism. This is because their purpose is to prevent a neo-Nazi revival and not to spare the Jewish community from being offended by ‘hate speech’.

So Much for Subtlety: ‘Which is odd because the neo-Nazis were in government and are about to be in government once more.’

I presume you’re referring to the FPO? And yes, they and their history is interesting. The postwar authorities allowed the VdU, their forerunner, to be formed as a means of incorporating former Nazis into the democratic process, and for this reason they’ve always had a somewhat ambiguous relationship to Austria’s Nazi past, though they’ve proved themselves to be a reasonably responsible political party who are committed to the democratic process. For this reason, no one who’s being serious thinks they’re ‘neo-Nazis'; indeed, it surprises me to see you take up a position only found among some of the more excitable and politically simple sections of the left, along with the EU, curiously.

So Much for Subtlety: ‘As can be seen by the on-going farce that is the attempt to ban Vlaams Belang or whatever they have to call themselves this week.’

Aren’t they a Flemish supremacist group? What do they have to do with Austria?

So Much for Subtlety: ‘Yes it is.’

So you’re saying if, e.g., a movement were to emerge committed to the overthrow of the British state through violent insurrection, and began to accumulate arms and train a paramilitary force for this purpose, it would be undemocratic for the British state to take preventive measures against it?

Better yet, do you think it was undemocratic to imprison British Nazis during the war?

So Much for Subtlety: ‘There is nothing stopping anyone from standing on an Islamist platform.’

No there’s not. But that does not mean certain Islamicists are not deemed beyond the pale. Abu Qatada, to use a recent example – I’m not convinced he’s imprisoned for anything but his views, because if he could be convicted on charges related to an actual terrorist act/conspiracy, I’m sure that would have happened or been attempted by now.

We can argue whether a specific case goes too far or not, but the principle that states protect themselves from enemies domestic and foreign is hardly controversial.

So Much for Subtlety: ‘That just means some people use history as an excuse. Not that History is making anyone do anything.’

History has no agency in itself, of course. But it can and is used by people to justify various things. And if enough people accept this justification, then the historical phenomena in question will end up taking the form of a social fact/truth. (Truth is probably a more apposite term.)

Using past experience to guide present action is so ingrained in all aspects of human life that it’s quite curious to see you dismiss it.

So Much for Subtlety: ‘There are no laws against religious intolerance being expressed in classrooms… We don’t allow such things in State owned schools but that is something else entirely.’

You’re contradicting yourself: if it’s not allowed in state schools, then that’s because there’s legislature in place preventing it. Though I should of been clearer earlier, as tbh I meant state schools but the fact that there are private schools slipped my mind.

So Much for Subtlety: ‘True but Hindus and Muslims from South Asia look much the same to White racists and go to much the same schools and yet have significantly different outcomes.’

And? Does that not further indicate cultural difference as the primary cause?

So Much for Subtlety: ‘And yet children of Africa origin go to the same schools and out perform children of Afro-Caribbean origin. In the US, children of Afro-Caribbean origin go to the same schools and out perform children of African American origin.’

Ditto.

Surely the differences between various groups of African origin indicates one can not speak of ‘blacks’ as a generic biological category, as you did previously. If it were biological not cultural, then there would be no significant differences, right?

So Much for Subtlety: ‘Given you admit this is impossible, it is probably better to look at a wider range of tests over many schools, so that as many other factors as possible can be removed or averaged out.’

I don’t see where I used the word ‘impossible': I said the the diversity of other factors render the argument invalid, which is not the same thing.

And small data-sets are always more manageable, with the conclusions drawn from them liable to be far more sound, though only as far as that particular data-set goes, meaning, conversely, it’s harder to extrapolate generalisations from them.

Ideally, one would separately analyse a large quantity of small data-sets individually, and then draw conclusions from them together. But this is different from taking your starting point to be the analysis of one large data-set.

So Much for Subtlety: ‘I agree that the last part is likely to be the cause, but don’t rule out biology. It may be that the grammar schools took every child genetically suited to higher education out of the working class. I doubt it, but it is possible.’

If that’s the most plausible argument in favour of biology as the determinant, then I think it’s safe to rule it out.

So Much for Subtlety: ‘Middle class Blacks in the US do worse on IQ tests and on SATs than working class Whites. Doubt it.’

Can you elaborate here – I can’t quite get the jist of what you’re saying.

So Much for Subtlety: ‘It is true that Blacks tend to be poorer. But then chicken or egg?’

Are you being serious? African-Americans are, almost to a man, descendants of slaves, a group on the bottom rung of society. Unless you’re saying they became slaves in the first place because they’re less intelligent, then it’s quite obvious the low socio-economic standing of African-Americans is a product of historic socio-economic relations, not biology.

So Much for Subtlety: ‘Quite a lot of them.’

Don’t be vague: list them.

So Much for Subtlety: ‘No I am not. You introduced America. I pointed out that it was precisely where those Social Democratic traditions were strongest that in fact eugenics began.’

Originally you claimed ‘forced sterilisation is an inherent part of the welfare state Social Democratic model.’

In response, I pointed out that this practice was limited to only a couple of social-democratic welfare states, and introduced the example of America because it is patently not a nation with a social-democratic welfare state, but nevertheless had policies of forced sterilisation. Indeed the US doesn’t even have a mass social-democratic party.

Talking about ‘Social Democratic traditions’ does not salvage your original argument, which was about a particular form of state, not the presence or lack of a ‘tradition’.

So Much for Subtlety: ‘There is a reasonable body of literature showing just this.’

Then cite it, I’m intrigued.

So Much for Subtlety: ‘It is an inherent part of the social democratic tradition – welfare creates a free rider problem. It creates a feckless underclass. What to do about it?’

The ‘social democratic tradition’ has generally been to favour full employment. I’m unsure how that ‘creates a free rider problem… a feckless underclass’.

Evidently, this an ideological hobby-horse of yours, and I suspect for this purpose you’re interpreting what constitutes the ‘social democratic tradition’ in a very liberal manner.

Do you consider contemporary Britain a social-democratic welfare state? Because I don’t, and would say it hasn’t been one since the early 1980s, at the latest.

So Much for Subtlety: ‘But parts of the US without a strong Social Democratic tradition and without a significant race problem did not impose such policies.’

Forced sterilisation in the US was a policy directed towards black Americans. In other words, it was directed at what was considered ‘a significant race problem’. Irrespective of whether a ‘Social Democratic tradition’ was present or not, it’s therefore hardly surprising that forced sterilisation did not occur in places ‘without a significant race problem’.

So Much for Subtlety: ‘It doesn’t look as if it is just modernism to me.’

So how do you explain the pre-1945 popularity of eugenics across the political spectrum and across different types of states, with the exception of those groups and states that might be termed ‘traditional’?

So Much for Subtlety: ‘They can’t tell you your ethnic background because ethnicity is not reflected in DNA.’

Terminological quibble, it seems. Where you say race, I’d say ethnicity; where you’d say ethnicity, I’d say cultural background. I don’t think there’s a right and wrong here, though my usage appears more common in British English, yours in American English.

So Much for Subtlety: ‘No one denies that intelligence is dependent on genetics.’

Granted. Without a brain, an obviously biological thing, there’s be no intelligence.

The debate is over the question of whether different ethnic/racial groups are genetically predisposed to specific levels of intelligence, or whether the psychic unity of mankind prevails, with various social factors being the cause of group-level differences. I take the latter view and am unconvinced about the evidence in favour of the former.

the a&e charge nurse: ‘You said “That sentence is barely intelligible” – I take this to mean you can offer no reasonable explanation as to why such a foolish, and anti-liberal position has been adopted.’

Oh Charlieman, oh Charlieman, must I really be respectful and mellow in face of this?

Accident and Emergency, if you look at the paragraph under the very line you just quoted, you’ll see I quite clearly directed you to the exact part of a former post where I had explained the intricacies which underpin Austrian policy on this subject. I’ve another paragraph in this post – see: ‘It’s important to bear in mind that the Austrian Holocaust denial laws are…’ – which further elaborates on this.

Comprende?

the a&e charge nurse: ‘Simple question – do you approve of the jail sentence handed out to Irving – since you are banging the drum for the Austrian authorities I assume you must approve of their, err, methods?’

Yes.

I have no objection in principle to Austria’s anti-Nazi laws and accept the judgement of the Austrian court system with regard to Irving’s punishment.

And ‘their, err, methods’ – that’s some dramatic prose right there folks! lol

the a&e charge nurse: ‘Oh, and while we are it – I am sure there must be other unsympathetic characters still at liberty to utter all sorts of unsavoury opinions – surely the Austrian solution should be employed more widely?’

Not really. The ‘Austrian solution’ – strange choice of language there – is a product of specific historical circumstances. Therefore, I accept Austrian (and German) legal peculiarism on this.

Bob B: ‘We have not found it necessary to do that in Britain and I prefer to keep it that way.’

We have a rather different history, Bob.

Bob B: ‘Jailing people for writing bad or biased history sends out the wrong message to students.’

Irving wasn’t jailed ‘for writing bad or biased history’ Bob. He was jailed because he chose to travel to a country which had laws against Holocaust denial for the sole purpose of giving a public speeches in which he denied the Holocaust. His historical publications have nothing to do with why he was jailed.

At least acquaint yourself with the basic facts of the issue.

66

The BBC docs: The Nazis – A warning from history, for which Ian Kershaw acted as consultant, is available on YouTube and very worth watching by any unfamiliar with Kershaw’s work, the history of how the Third Reich came about and what it did:

The Nazi – A Warning from History Episode 1
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nPYoEGrFEkA

Feodor: “Irving wasn’t jailed ‘for writing bad or biased history’ Bob. He was jailed because he chose to travel to a country which had laws against Holocaust denial for the sole purpose of giving a public speeches in which he denied the Holocaust.”

If you actually read what I’ve posted, at no point have I sought to deny that Irving was a holocaust denier – so try harder not to be so silly.

I’ve made it clear that I’ve never taken Irving seriously as a historian – for very particular reasons relating to newsreel reports in May 1945 of the liberation of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp by British troops – and also that I’m glad Britain hasn’t found it necessary to make holocaust denial a criminal offence so as to maintain public order, unlike Austria, France and Germany.

70. the a&e charge nurse

[67] I see – so you think it is a good idea for the state to jail peaceful citizens for deviating from a particular view of history – can’t see any problems with where that might lead.

By the way, is there any principle guiding your approval of custodial sentences for non-conformists, or does it simply depend on the authorities telling us which bits of history are OK to discuss and which aren’t?

Apparently translating a book can gets you 5 months in a German prison
http://richmondunlimited.wordpress.com/2012/12/05/truth-is-a-hate-crime-researcher-gunter-deckert-sentenced-to-german-prison/

Of course it goes without saying that being concerned about such heavy handed tactics is almost certainly a sign of neo-nazi sympathies.

71. the a&e charge nurse

A leader in Saturday’s The Economist on the outcome of Japan’s recent general election makes some potent points about the potential perils of politicians ordering the rewriting of history books:

The great majority of cabinet members favour visits to Yasukuni, the controversial Tokyo shrine that honours war criminals among the soldiers, and reject Japan’s “apology diplomacy” for its wartime atrocities. Almost half of them want school textbooks (which already downplay Japanese atrocities) to be rewritten in ways that obscure the militarism still further. Mr Abe is, alas, steeped in this stuff: his grandfather oversaw occupied Manchuria’s development in the 1930s.
http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21569030-countrys-dangerously-nationalistic-new-cabinet-last-thing-asia-needs-down-turn-abe

73. So Much for Subtlety

67. Feodor

I would have thought that American and Chinese intervention to reinstate the Khmer Rouge was more significant. But if you want to lay the blame on a lone linguist and political dissident, then that’s your choice.

The US did not intervene to reinstate the Khmer Rouge and the Khmer Rouge were not reinstated. The genocide having taken place well before the Americans and Chinese both supported the unified government led by Prince Sianouk. So perhaps you need to do more reading here. Notice I specifically did not blame Chomsky alone.

I fail to see how Austria’s long-standing anti-Nazi laws* are likely to backfire on the rest of us. They’ve been there for over 50 years and they haven’t ‘backfired’ yet. What makes you think this will change?

Depends on what you mean by backfire. Britain does not have such laws and we have no significant neo-Nazis. Austria does have such laws and their neo-Nazis are in government. I would call that a textbook definition of backfiring, wouldn’t you?

This is because their purpose is to prevent a neo-Nazi revival and not to spare the Jewish community from being offended by ‘hate speech’.

And yet their neo-Nazis took a third of the votes and have been in government. Not working are they?

I presume you’re referring to the FPO? And yes, they and their history is interesting. The postwar authorities allowed the VdU, their forerunner, to be formed as a means of incorporating former Nazis into the democratic process

So democracy is fine for actual Nazis, but not for neo-Nazis and people like Irving?

For this reason, no one who’s being serious thinks they’re ‘neo-Nazis’; indeed, it surprises me to see you take up a position only found among some of the more excitable and politically simple sections of the left, along with the EU, curiously.

Well they are known for their praise of Hitler. The EU called them Nazis and imposed sanctions. By the way, the more “excitable” sections of the Left included LC and the EU. That sounds like you are the minority here.

So you’re saying if, e.g., a movement were to emerge committed to the overthrow of the British state through violent insurrection, and began to accumulate arms and train a paramilitary force for this purpose, it would be undemocratic for the British state to take preventive measures against it?

Certainly. Depending on what you mean by preventive measures. Such a movement did emerge – Communism. They were committed to the overthrow of the British state through violent insurrection and/or Soviet Army invasion. They accumulated arms and began paramilitary training. They were not banned.

Better yet, do you think it was undemocratic to imprison British Nazis during the war?

Britain was hardly a democracy during the war.

No there’s not. But that does not mean certain Islamicists are not deemed beyond the pale. Abu Qatada, to use a recent example – I’m not convinced he’s imprisoned for anything but his views, because if he could be convicted on charges related to an actual terrorist act/conspiracy, I’m sure that would have happened or been attempted by now.

But you have no evidence he has been jailed only for his views. That is your opinion.

You’re contradicting yourself: if it’s not allowed in state schools, then that’s because there’s legislature in place preventing it. Though I should of been clearer earlier, as tbh I meant state schools but the fact that there are private schools slipped my mind.

They are not a small section of the market. So we do not actually ban intolerance in schools. Maybe we should but we don’t.

And? Does that not further indicate cultural difference as the primary cause?

It certainly suggests it. If they share the same DNA. It is entirely possible that excessive inter-marriage means the Muslim community starts well behind other communities in the UK.

Surely the differences between various groups of African origin indicates one can not speak of ‘blacks’ as a generic biological category, as you did previously. If it were biological not cultural, then there would be no significant differences, right?

If they had the same DNA. Which they don’t. However it tends to work the other way around – the more White DNA the lesser the academic performance. But on the other hand, African immigrants to the US are largely selected in a way African American ones were not. Obama’s father for instance was good enough to study in the US.

However as a general rule I prefer cultural explanations. But that doesn’t mean you can rule genetic ones out.

I don’t see where I used the word ‘impossible’: I said the the diversity of other factors render the argument invalid, which is not the same thing.

Then you were wrong.

If that’s the most plausible argument in favour of biology as the determinant, then I think it’s safe to rule it out.

I disagree. It is an argument, not the only one.

Can you elaborate here – I can’t quite get the jist of what you’re saying.

Really? How hard can that be? When given IQ tests and SAT exams, Middle Class Blacks perform worse on average than poor Whites. How is that hard to understand? It is not that poverty is the only factor or even a particularly important one.

Are you being serious? African-Americans are, almost to a man, descendants of slaves, a group on the bottom rung of society. Unless you’re saying they became slaves in the first place because they’re less intelligent, then it’s quite obvious the low socio-economic standing of African-Americans is a product of historic socio-economic relations, not biology.

Chinese Americans are also largely descended from slaves, at least on their female side. They out perform Whites. It is a bit much to claim that slavery, which ended 100 years ago and has had little impact on any other human population on the planet, somehow plays a unique role here. Unless you think slavery changed the DNA of the population as a whole?

If African Americans are poor because they were poor, why aren’t Japanese Americans poor? They came from an even poorer background than American slaves – they ate much worse. They were also dispossessed of all they owned in 1941. But they are richer than White Americans.

Originally you claimed ‘forced sterilisation is an inherent part of the welfare state Social Democratic model.’

Which it is.

In response, I pointed out that this practice was limited to only a couple of social-democratic welfare states, and introduced the example of America because it is patently not a nation with a social-democratic welfare state, but nevertheless had policies of forced sterilisation. Indeed the US doesn’t even have a mass social-democratic party.

You assume that sterilisation must be uniquely identified with Social Democracy. I did not claim that. As I pointed out right from the start, other people have supported it too. Progressives (in the original sense) mostly but also people from Virginia. Because Social Democracy implies sterilisation, it does not follow that sterilisation must imply Social Democracy. As the case of mediaeval Iceland shows.

Talking about ‘Social Democratic traditions’ does not salvage your original argument, which was about a particular form of state, not the presence or lack of a ‘tradition’.

Yes it does because States don’t have ideologies, people do. If you have people from a Social Democratic back ground, imposing what Social Democratic policies they can at a local and State level, then some of them are quite likely to support eugenics. As they did. As a matter of State politics. Which is why places like Oregon forcibly sterilised people.

The ‘social democratic tradition’ has generally been to favour full employment. I’m unsure how that ‘creates a free rider problem… a feckless underclass’.

If you are ignorant of pretty much everything written on the subject I don’t see this as my problem. Yes, they are in favour of full employment. But they do not allow the market to force everyone into employment. Some people will choose not to work. The Social Democratic welfare state enables them to do so. What to do about them? Various ideas have come up. Work camps for instance feature prominently in Foucault’s work so it is hardly as if you can be unaware of it.

Do you consider contemporary Britain a social-democratic welfare state? Because I don’t, and would say it hasn’t been one since the early 1980s, at the latest.

I think it is dying. Largely because of said free rider problem.

Forced sterilisation in the US was a policy directed towards black Americans. In other words, it was directed at what was considered ‘a significant race problem’.

No it wasn’t. Some of it was directed against Blacks but actually most of it was directed at the feeble and weak.

Irrespective of whether a ‘Social Democratic tradition’ was present or not, it’s therefore hardly surprising that forced sterilisation did not occur in places ‘without a significant race problem’.

But they did. Oregon did not have a significant race problem. Nor did Minnesota or much of the rest of the Mid-West.

So how do you explain the pre-1945 popularity of eugenics across the political spectrum and across different types of states, with the exception of those groups and states that might be termed ‘traditional’?

Science is very powerful. But look where it was actually carried out. Calling it popular disguises the fact that liberals did not do such things. Progressives and Nazis did. Catholics did not support such things. You may call Liberals and Catholics traditional, indeed I would, but it was possible to be modern and not do it.

Terminological quibble, it seems. Where you say race, I’d say ethnicity; where you’d say ethnicity, I’d say cultural background. I don’t think there’s a right and wrong here, though my usage appears more common in British English, yours in American English.

No, you are avoiding the issue because you don’t want to be honest about race. DNA has nothing to do with ethnicity and we have been talking about DNA from the start. Just accept it and move on.

The debate is over the question of whether different ethnic/racial groups are genetically predisposed to specific levels of intelligence, or whether the psychic unity of mankind prevails, with various social factors being the cause of group-level differences. I take the latter view and am unconvinced about the evidence in favour of the former.

Psychic? Unfortunately for your argument *all* the evidence points to racial differences in intelligence, or at least in every measure we have to test intelligence. Which is not the same thing. There is simply no evidence at all that different racial groups have the same potential. You may not want to believe it. You may be convinced by the large amount of special pleading that exists to distract attention from the fact that there is no evidence, but there is still no evidence.

Now as it happens my position is clear – I don’t want it to be true, I hope it is not true, I am ideologically committed to various political and ethical positions that assume it is not true, but I recognise the evidence for what it is.

In England and Wales, thousands of 16 year-olds sit the GCSE exams at their schools. Try the chart in this report from The Economist a few years back:

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

75. flyingrodent

A&E: Sorry, do you mean a historian wading through original documents, then being jailed for talking about what he found?

Ye Gods, man. Look, this won’t do – there was once a live debate over whether David Irving was a proper historian or a Nazi propagandist. That debate wound up being held in a very public forum and came down very heavily on the side of “Nazi propagandist”, in a conclusive decision.

It’s just not good enough to describe Irving’s behaviour as “a historian wading through documents, then being jailed for talking about what he found”. It’s intentionally whitewashing what Irving is and what he does and your habit of sanitising this reflects very, very badly on you indeed. I don’t doubt that you disagree but then, that’s just too bad – people who soft-soap Holocaust deniers and Nazi propagandists for political purposes are going to quickly find that people draw negative conclusions about them, and all the bitching in the world won’t alter this.

Once again – I’m not in favour of jailing Holocaust deniers, or any other species of horrible public arse. Nonetheless, free speech is robust enough to survive a single Nazi enthusiast being jailed for intentionally committing acts that he knew were illegal when he committed them, and the pretence that this isn’t the case isn’t convincing. At all.

Once you start locking people up for what they say it is hard to avoid the next step which is to widen the scope for what people can be had for – as we are finding to our cost with facebook commentators, or twitterati who now, like Irving, are being jailed on the flimsiest of pretexts.

Again, there’s a certain amount of prophylactic jiggery-pokery going on here, isn’t there? I’m not in favour of jailing offensive Tweeters either, but let’s be clear – occasional lunacies like the airport “threat” guy aside, most of the Twitter cases have involved behaviours that were already illegal before social media was conceived.

It’s always been illegal to shout racist abuse through somebody’s letterbox; it’s always been illegal to send death threats through the post. The fact that the medium is some new-fangled FaceSpace Twittery whatever doesn’t change the status of the act or the intent behind it. It’s the same shit, being dealt with in the same way, even though the medium is now electronic rather than physical.

Again, I’m not in favour of jailing people for talking shite, unless it amounts to a serious breach of the peace that directly puts people in a state of fear and alarm for their personal safety, or if it directly incites violence.

Nonetheless, the tack you’re taking here is to basically lie about the issue at stake, then wave your arms and speak in tongues about how it’s all a massive threat to freedom. To reiterate a point I made earlier, it’s akin to pretending that gay marriage legitimises interspecies sex, then shouting about how it will all inevitably end in the annihilation of humanity by compulsory homosexuality.

Well, it doesn’t, and it won’t. Nor do any of the examples you raise represent anything other than out-of-context fearmongering and unsupported claims of imminent doom. It’s all a bit childish and silly, really.

Thanks, everyone, for the comments.

@ 21 the a&e charge nurse:

‘Much as I loathe the Griffins of this world’ – why, oh why, do liberals have to say such things? Are they so terribly anxious nowadays they feel compelled to parade their portentous dislike of right wing pantomime villains as if it actually signifies anything we haven’t already figured out for ourselves?

Force of habit, brought about by many years of answering ‘gotcha’ comments from people who either haven’t worked out my position, or willfully want to misrepresent it. Also, LibCon posts often get copied and pasted into other blogs (including my own space) where the context might be so obvious.

I agree its annoying though. I sort of annoyed myself when I wrote it, TBH.

Bob B: ‘If you actually read what I’ve posted, at no point have I sought to deny that Irving was a holocaust denier – so try harder not to be so silly.’

No Bob, you try harder to pay attention to what I actually wrote. Namely, Irving was convicted for giving public speeches, not ‘for writing bad or biased history’.

the a&e charge nurse: ‘By the way, is there any principle guiding your approval of custodial sentences for non-conformists, or does it simply depend on the authorities telling us which bits of history are OK to discuss and which aren’t?’

I’ve already outlined why I accept Austrian legal peculiarism on this issue. I see no reason to repeat myself on account of your inability to pay attention.

the a&e charge nurse: ‘Of course it goes without saying that being concerned about such heavy handed tactics is almost certainly a sign of neo-nazi sympathies.’

As opposed, of course, to defending a neo-Nazi Holocaust denier as someone who conducts serious historical research, and linking to highly dubious ‘revisionist history’ sites, claiming they represent ‘nuanced opinion’.

So Much for Subtlety: ‘The US did not intervene to reinstate the Khmer Rouge and the Khmer Rouge were not reinstated. The genocide having taken place well before the Americans and Chinese both supported the unified government led by Prince Sianouk.’

The genocide was taking place when the Vietnamese government intervened to overthrow the Khmer Rouge. China, American, Britain and most of the international community sided with the Khmer Rouge. Perhaps if they’d couched their actions in the rhetoric of ‘humanitarian intervention’, the Vietnamese’s actions would have found more supporters in the west.

So Much for Subtlety: ‘Depends on what you mean by backfire.’

It’s your phrase, pal. Indeed, you didn’t even say they were likely to ‘backfire’ on Austria specifically, you said they were ‘likely to backfire on the rest of us’. So, what did you mean by that?

So Much for Subtlety: ‘Austria does have such laws and their neo-Nazis are in government… their neo-Nazis took a third of the votes and have been in government… they are known for their praise of Hitler. The EU called them Nazis and imposed sanctions. By the way, the more “excitable” sections of the Left included LC and the EU. That sounds like you are the minority here.’

Your views on this are quite superficial, ‘perhaps you need to do more reading here’!? A good place to start would be the piece I linked in post 58, Siegfried Beer, ‘Hunting the Discriminators: Denazification in Austria, 1945-1957′. In any case, I’ll highlight some of the more salient points that influenced postwar Austrian policy.

1) In 1945, about 1 in 10 of the total population had been Nazi Party members at some point between 1938 and 1945. That’s almost 700,000 persons in total.

2) Measures against this huge cohort, given they had families, are thought to have affected as many as a third of Austrians.

3) Yet refusing them work, refusing to integrate them, risked creating a large mass of disaffected former Nazis, as well as depriving the fragile postwar Austrian economy of many skilled workers and professionals.

4) A distinction was therefore drawn between ‘big’ and ‘small’ Nazis in 1947/48, with full rights restored to the latter.

5) The VdU was founded to give a political expression to this significant constituency. People can argue this was a mistake – I think it possibly was, that greater attempts should have been made to integrate this constituency into the Christian Social and Socialist camps. However, this group was unlikely to ever be esp. attracted to either of these camps, and the VdU from its inception was a party committed to democracy and Austrian sovereignty – hardly ‘Nazi’ or ‘neo-Nazi’ by any reasonable definition of those terms. Furthermore, and I say this without having any love for their politics, the VdU/FPO have since proved they can be a reasonably responsible party of government, with no intention of subverting the diplomatic process.

6) The EU sanctions represent an attempt by a left-liberal elite to subvert the democratic process in one of its member states. They were throwing their weight around in a largely symbolic fashion, and in time they were forced to back down because their position was completely untenable. If Austrians wanted to vote for Haider, that’s their prerogative. I’d rather they didn’t, but I don’t support bureaucratic fiat as a means of preventing this.

7) I’m sure the writers/editors of LC have many talents, but they’re not specialists on Austria, and their views are unlikely to extend beyond typically superficial and exaggerated opinion pieces. I might be in the minority, but it is a minority that includes pretty much all academic Austrianists. For a good discussion of this, if you can access it, try: Max E Riedlsperger, ‘FPO: Liberal or Nazi’, in F Parkinson (ed.), Conquering the Past: Austrian Nazism, Yesterday and Today, pp. 257-278. Granted, this book was published in 1989, but it nevertheless covers the period when there were ‘actual [former] Nazis’ in the FPO (the overwhelming majority are dead now), and the conclusion is that the FPO are non-Nazi but not anti-Nazi. That gives you some idea of their ambiguity on this subject, but the reason ‘democracy is fine for [these] actual Nazis, but not for neo-Nazis and people like Irving’, is that despite their ambiguity, they do not do anything that falls foul of the anti-Nazi laws (they are known for defending the Wehrmacht rank and file, not Hitler). Irving, by contrast, did fall foul of Austria’s anti-Nazi laws, and deliberately went out of his way to do this – he was also pompous enough to go to Germany for the sole purpose of challenging their anti-Nazi legal framework.

So, given that Austria has over 60 years experience of stable democracy, that former Nazis committed to Germany and fascism have been won over to Austrian patriotism and to playing a constructive role in the democratic process, I think Austria’s anti-Nazi laws have, on balance, worked rather well, esp. when one considers the precarious position postwar Austria found itself in – it’s a grave error to assume independence and democracy was a fait accompli in 1945.

So Much for Subtlety: ‘Certainly.’

As you like.

Communism in Britain, of course, was never anything much more than an irrelevancy. Preventative measures would have been overkill. But I suppose you also think west Germany was wrong to pass measures against the RAF, who posed a real and significant threat to civil society and the democratic process?

So Much for Subtlety: ‘Britain was hardly a democracy during the war.’

That’s a rather curious statement. In what sense wasn’t Britain a democracy? Albeit a democracy faced with a severe external threat, which therefore had to take certain preventative measures.

So Much for Subtlety: ‘But you have no evidence he has been jailed only for his views. That is your opinion.’

The evidence is that he’s never been convicted (in this country) of involvement in any form of terrorist conspiracy: i.e., he’s innocent until proven guilty. Ergo, he’s imprisoned because he’s considered a threat, not because he’s actually done anything. Do you support that? Or more importantly, do you at least accept, whether you like it or not, that states of all types will take measures to protect themselves against groups and/or people who they consider a threat?

So Much for Subtlety: ‘So we do not actually ban intolerance in schools.’

We do in state schools.

So Much for Subtlety: ‘It certainly suggests it. If they share the same DNA.’

It suggests it even if they have ‘different’ DNA. After all, there are differences in intelligence between people who ‘share the same DNA’. Two siblings of the same parents can have significantly different intelligence levels.

So Much for Subtlety: ‘It is entirely possible that excessive inter-marriage means the Muslim community starts well behind other communities in the UK.’

As you like. I’d think any under-performance by Muslims in tests designed to determine intelligence related to the modern scientific world, has more to do with the prominence of modern-fundamentalist anti-modern (a mouthful I know!) doctrines in this community. But each to his or her own.

So Much for Subtlety: ‘However it tends to work the other way around – the more White DNA the lesser the academic performance.’

Correlation does not prove causation. Moreover, it really undermines the biological-determinist argument if ‘pure’ African DNA outperforms mixed. Or is ‘mongrel’ DNA now being considered the lowest cohort in the racial intelligence hierarchy?

So Much for Subtlety: ‘However as a general rule I prefer cultural explanations. But that doesn’t mean you can rule genetic ones out.’

Perhaps not. But the cultural arguments do seem to have much more obviously provable explanatory power.

So Much for Subtlety: ‘Then you were wrong.’

Then you are wrong.

So Much for Subtlety: ‘I disagree. It is an argument, not the only one.’

If there are others, then outline them. As in the previously quoted comment, you can’t think it’s enough to just assert you are right without any attempt at argument, surely?

So Much for Subtlety: ‘When given IQ tests and SAT exams, Middle Class Blacks perform worse on average than poor Whites. How is that hard to understand?’

Because your original statement read: ‘Middle class Blacks in the US do worse on IQ tests and on SATs than working class Whites. Doubt it.’ Thus you say X and in the next sentence say you doubt X. I suspect you meant to punctuate ‘doubt it’ with a question mark not a full stop. It’s not hard to see how the meaning of that statement is unclear.

So Much for Subtlety: ‘It is not that poverty is the only factor or even a particularly important one.’

Perhaps. But that does not mean we should automatically assume biology has explanatory primacy. There could be a myriad of other explanations, the most significant of which would likely be cultural attitudes to learning.

So Much for Subtlety: ‘It is a bit much to claim that slavery, which ended 100 years ago and has had little impact on any other human population on the planet, somehow plays a unique role here.’

It’s not just slavery, and I suspect you’re being facetious here, because it’s well-established that while other immigrant groups in America have started at the bottom and risen, these groups have not had to deal with the same socio-structural hurdles as African-Americans have. African-Americans don’t confront a glass ceiling: it’s more like a solid brick wall.

So Much for Subtlety: ‘Which it is.’

Then why is it absent from so many social-democratic welfare states?

So Much for Subtlety: ‘You assume that sterilisation must be uniquely identified with Social Democracy. I did not claim that.’

Granted. You said it was ‘inherent’ to it. My argument is that it is ‘inherent’ to a certain period in the history of modernism, that it goes beyond and across political lines. In a sense, much like vitalism, the ‘social partnership’ or economic nationalisation – products of particular epochs as much as particular political paradigms.

So Much for Subtlety: ‘If you have people from a Social Democratic back ground, imposing what Social Democratic policies they can at a local and State level, then some of them are quite likely to support eugenics. As they did. As a matter of State politics. Which is why places like Oregon forcibly sterilised people.’

If this is the case, then it should be reasonably easy to highlight some examples of ‘people from a Social Democratic back ground’ implementing sterilisation policies. You keep asserting that they did, but you’ve yet to provide a single example,* and nor have you directed me towards any reading, which is what I asked you to do and what I would prefer.

*Highlighting particular states is not enough: you need to show that in these states, it was ‘Social Democrats’ who favoured and implemented these policies.

So Much for Subtlety: ‘Some people will choose not to work. The Social Democratic welfare state enables them to do so.’

This group is so small as to be almost meaningless. Unemployment generally has far more significant causes than laziness on the part of the unemployed, irrespective of what puffed-up French philosophers have to say on the matter.

So Much for Subtlety: ‘I think it is dying. Largely because of said free rider problem.’

You see, we have very different ideas of what constitutes the social-democratic welfare state, and probably of what constitutes social democracy as well. Until we can agree on the terms of the debate, little progress can be made.

Though to proceed on your terrain momentarily, if the British social-democratic welfare state is now dying, it is because of political decisions made by policy-makers, not the ‘free rider problem’. Very little public money is spent subsidising ‘free riders’ as you define them. Although it could be argued that there are many ‘free riders’ at the top of society, who reap the benefits of our society without being willing to contribute their ‘fair share’, and that this has created a pervasive and terminal problem whereby we are no longer able to afford many of the government policies related to social welfare.

But I suspect you’ll disagree, and I’m not much interested in opening up yet another front in this debate – we’re already discussing 4 or 5 different topics, that’s enough for me. :)

So Much for Subtlety: ‘Calling it popular disguises the fact that liberals did not do such things.’

I suppose it depends on who we consider ‘liberals’. Is the US Democratic Party ‘liberal’? Or is it ‘progressive’? Or perhaps something else? (I’d say it’s something of a broad church, incorporating liberal, progressive, social democratic and other tendencies.)

So Much for Subtlety: ‘No, you are avoiding the issue because you don’t want to be honest about race.’

No, no I’m not. There’s is not a clearly defined usage. British thinkers tend to say ‘ethnicity’ where American thinkers would say ‘race’.

So Much for Subtlety: ‘Psychic?’

From dictionary.com:

Psychic, adjective – def. 2, ‘Psychology, pertaining to or noting mental phenomena.’

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/psychic?s=t

So Much for Subtlety: ‘There is simply no evidence at all that different racial groups have the same potential.’

I suspect the main difference between us is that you are wedded to the notion that genetics is primarily a group-level phenomena, whereas I consider it something that occurs on an individual level – or, more accurately, sub-individual, but individual is a more easily understandable way of expressing the argument.

Afaik, the consensus in modern biology supports my outlook, though that does not necessarily mean the consensus is correct. I don’t know about you, but I make no claim to special knowledge; I’m certainly not a professional in this field, and I wouldn’t even be so immodest as to describe myself as an educated layman.

Far from making holocaust denial a criminal offence, IMO we need to encourage all deniers to speak out so that we know just who they are. We also need to keep a watchful eye on those countries which find it necessary to have laws making the denial a criminal offence to maintain public order. Politicians who feel impelled to legislate over history are deeply suspect – who knows what other history they will want to control next.

In previous LC threads, I’ve deplored education minister Gove’s proposals to impose his notion of a patriotic version of British history on the school curriculum and asked whether that is to include serial Christian atrocities such as the St Bartholomew’s Day massacres of 1572 in France, which created a flow of Huguenot asylum seekers into Elizabethan England, the flourishing 18th century slave trade, the Opium Wars over the (inalienable?) right of British traders to sell opium to the Chinese and the Amritsar massacre of 1919. I think we should be told.

79. Chaise Guevara

@ 48 Jim

“No, all they are being asked to do is go somewhere else.”

And when they do, the same people will no doubt apply the same pressure. The goal is to silence one’s opponents in real terms. I can’t call that anything other than censorship, and I can’t support it.

“Nobody is stopping them from speaking, all they are doing at worse is denying them an audience. Any m ore than if Tesco ban me from a shop, for whatever reason, equals starving me to death.”

Straw man, I’ve made it clear that I’m not saying it’s the same as total censorship.

Your argument is like saying there is no problem with media bias in the Sun because it’s balanced out by the Left Liberal Gazette, circulation 12 people.

“We all have a right to free speech, but none of us have a right to a platform or an audience.”

Agreed. But using power to deny someone a platform they would otherwise have had (not counting ownership of said platform) is anti-free-speech.

CG @ 79

And when they do, the same people will no doubt apply the same pressure.

That is not our problem, nor is it a ‘free speech’ issue either. Free speech is just that, the right to speak freely and Griffin, Hitchen et al can and do speak freely. Everything else after that is about a right to be heard. Nobody has ever been offered or given a right to be heard.

I can’t call that anything other than censorship, and I can’t support it

Then, I think you need to look at your definition of censorship. If we were removing Griffins right to say what he wants to say, that could be described as censorship. However the ‘no platform’ stance is not trying to stop him from saying what he wants to say, it is about denying certain views from being aired in certain venues.

Take this website for example. We cannot stop Griffin from speaking in public, nor can we stop him from publishing his views on his own website. To be honest, we would not have the power to stop him nor would we want such power. We can, if the will power was there prevent him from publishing his views here. That is not ‘censorship’ because we are not stopping him from saying or writing what he wants, we are denying him use of our space to do it.

If a Neo Nazi sets fire to a shop and we arrest him and put him in a cell, we are not ‘censoring him’ as such, but we are senying him a platform.

Straw man, I’ve made it clear that I’m not saying it’s the same as total censorship.

Censorship is only censorship when it is total.

Your argument is like saying there is no problem with media bias in the Sun because it’s balanced out by the Left Liberal Gazette, circulation 12 people.

I cannot imagine how you got that from anything I have written.

81. Chaise Guevara

@ 80 Jim

“That is not our problem, nor is it a ‘free speech’ issue either. Free speech is just that, the right to speak freely and Griffin, Hitchen et al can and do speak freely.”

Actually, no it isn’t. See shouting “fire” in crowded theatres. It’s the right to expression of political views, which you are trying to restrict.

“Everything else after that is about a right to be heard. Nobody has ever been offered or given a right to be heard.”

And I’m not arguing for one. Please engage with what I’m saying instead of this straw man nonsense.

“Then, I think you need to look at your definition of censorship.”

In a bid to avoid pointless semantic quibbling, I have already told you what you can infer when I use the word.

“If we were removing Griffins right to say what he wants to say, that could be described as censorship. However the ‘no platform’ stance is not trying to stop him from saying what he wants to say, it is about denying certain views from being aired in certain venues.”

Correct. And what I’m saying is that, when people use their power to pressure/force venues other than theirs to do this, they are acting wrongly.

“Take this website for example.”

Sunny can do what he likes. See above RE straw men. I’m getting fed up with you pretending that I want people to be forced to publish whatever they’re asked to.

“If a Neo Nazi sets fire to a shop and we arrest him and put him in a cell, we are not ‘censoring him’ as such, but we are senying him a platform.”

And we’re also denying him personal liberty, which is rather more important. Some of your rights do necessarily get infringed when you’re convicted of a crime, or even suspected of one (within time limits). And it’s not like I’m saying there’s an issue with the law in any case.

“Censorship is only censorship when it is total.”

OK, so let’s talk about Using-Power-To-Make-It-Hard-For-Opponents-To-Express-Their-Views-Ership.

“I cannot imagine how you got that from anything I have written.”

Let’s start with “censorship is only censorship when it is total”. The impression I’m getting here (and correct me if I’m wrong) is that you not only don’t consider this censorship, which is semantic, but that you don’t think it’s morally wrong, because the person can go express themselves through another channel. By the same logic, media bias in the most widely read national paper is fine as long as one tiny paper has the opposite bias.

“Whenever people like Nick Griffin are actually given a platform, they expose themselves as incoherent and small-minded, and it gives the rest of us a chance to argue against them. ”

That would be true if lots of other people weren’t also small-minded and looking for a figurehead to express their bigoted vitrol openly to throw their support behind.

CG @ 81

It’s the right to expression of political views, which you are trying to restrict.

Restrict, but not stop.

I have already told you what you can infer when I use the word.

Yes, but you are using a word to describe something outside any reasonable definition.

The impression I’m getting here (and correct me if I’m wrong)is that you not only don’t consider this censorship, which is semantic, but that you don’t think it’s morally wrong,

The impression you get is spot on, no one is being censored, nor is it morally wrong to tell people we do not like to sling their hook and take their vile views elsewhere.

Every now and then, the local Christian group chap my door to tell me the good news about Jesus. I very politely tell them I am not interested and they move on somewhere else. I am not censoring them, even slightly, I am making it hard for them to get their message across, I am denying them access to a given audience (me) and I have exercised a ‘no platform’ stance. They still have the right to believe and say what they want to believe, just to not me. If no-one in that street wishes to listen to them, then they will have to deal with that. Is that censorship?

Sunny can do what he likes.

And if Sunny introduce a ‘no platform’ clause into the blog rules? You would be happy with that? Then I wonder what all the fuss is about.

Bob B: ‘Far from making holocaust denial a criminal offence, IMO we need to encourage all deniers to speak out so that we know just who they are.’

In general, I agree with you Bob; in fact, I take that position on most ‘hate speech’ controversies, thinking that it should only become a criminal matter if its purpose is to directly intimidate or abuse specific individuals, as opposed to indirectly offending what may be termed ‘imagined communities’.

Nevertheless, what you and everyone else in this thread advocating ‘total free speech’ continually overlook, are the historic reasons why Austria (and Germany) have the laws they do. Do you really think that in the immediate postwar period no legal measures should have been directed at former Nazis? That they should have been completely exonerated and allowed to participate in society as citizens afforded the full pantheon of civic rights? If you do, then your making a very idealistic argument that completely ignores the complexities postwar planners faced.

Moreover, your failure to comprehend this means that no one as of yet has asked the most obvious question: how long should Austria and Germany retain these statutes? I don’t have an answer, but do recognise that, as these laws were passed in response to a concrete historical situation, there must come a time when they will have outlived their sell by date, so to speak.

This is an interesting and important question. Unfortunately, the ideological blinkers of the ‘total free speech’ crowd means that, not only don’t they have anything constructive to add to this debate, they don’t even realise it exists!

Bob B: ‘Politicians who feel impelled to legislate over history are deeply suspect… I’ve deplored education minister Gove’s proposals to impose his notion of a patriotic version of British history on the school curriculum’.

Does a school curriculum count as legislation? I don’t really know; I suppose it does, though.

In any case, it’s impossible to teach everything. Thus, selectivity will always be involved, selectivity as determined by a national curriculum that is set by the government – the alternative, allowing individual teachers to decide what is and isn’t taught, would be far worse.

The question then becomes what to select and what not to select. In this context, I agree with you that Gove’s selections are rather questionable and indicative of an attempt to force his political biases onto unsuspecting children. But I’m afraid once people involved in this discussion start blabbering about an Orwellian dystopia, they no longer have anything much of use to say. In effect, they’ve abandoned the terrain of reality in favour of the realm of fantasy.

Feodor: “Nevertheless, what you and everyone else in this thread advocating ‘total free speech’ continually overlook”

Most agree, I think, that there is no inalienable, unlimited right to shout “fire” in a crowded theatre. As Edmund Burke wrote in 1777: Liberty, too, must be limited in order to be possessed.

Most will agree also, I think, that there is a distinctive difference between asserting holocaust denial and attempting to mount a public campaign for replicating the holocaust or to engage in large scale genocide.

IMO there are advantages in allowing assertions of holocaust denial – in contradiction of overwhelming evidence – so we can identify those making that perverse claim. But that does not imply we should also tolerate campaigns for genocide – or for orchestrated ethnic violence or the kind of rioting we had in London last year.

We do need to remind ourselves that the Nazi atrocity of the holocaust was, sadly, not historically without peer or precedent. Not only were there Stalin’s orchestrated famines in the Ukraine and Belarus of 1932/33, but there are many instances of massacres motivated by religious zealotry, such as the St Bartholomew’s Day massacre of the Huguenots in France in August 1572 or by Oliver Cromwell’s troops following the seige of Drogheda in September 1649. Some would add the Highland clearances following the Battle of Culloden in 1745 and the Amritsar massacre in 1919 orchestrated by General Dyer.

Check out this league table of the estimates for 20th century democide:
http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/20TH.HTM

85

“We do need to remind ourselves that the Nazi atrocity of the holocaust was, sadly, not historically without peer or precedent”

I tend to agree with Zygmunt Bauman in ‘Modernity and the Holocaust’ – ‘Modern civilization was not the Holocaust’s sufficient condition; it was most certainly, its necessary condition’.

Bauman draws on Weber’s description of rationalization together with the bureaucracy and industrial processes which emerged at the end of the 19th century. IMO, the Holocaust had no precedent in history.

80. Jim

“Censorship is only censorship when it is total. ”

That is like saying the UK government during WW1 and WW2 did not engage in censorship of the press because they still allowed some news to be published. The Ministry of Information was specifically set up to manage what could be said and censor press reports that were not deemed to be sufficiently patriotic. Part of the great public anger in the UK after WW1 was because they had been lied to about how well the war was going and did not fully appreciate the scale of the slaughter. That lying had consequences when the public was unwilling later to support the rearmament necessary to confront the Nazis.

The other wing of The Ministry of Information was promoting propaganda. Propaganda is the ugly sister of censorship and since they often go hand in hand we should always be wary of censorship. It is bad enough if some opinions are being censored but even worse when at the same time some supposed ‘wholesome’ opinions are being promoted as propaganda. So censorship does not have to be total to be censorship.

86

“‘Modern civilization was not the Holocaust’s sufficient condition; it was most certainly, its necessary condition’.”

In one important sense that is patently (and horrifyingly) true because civilian professional engineering consultants conferred to work out not only an industrially efficient way of conducting mass homicides (gas chambers) but also to work out the most efficient way of quickly disposing of the corpses without taking up too much manpower or land for burials.

By reports, this was because someone soon worked out that shooting was too expensive because of the cost of bullets and becausae of the trouble of digging up ground for graves. In addition to the sheer numbers of eventual victims, the technological thinking by professional engineers appalls. In the archives of the Third Reich there were found blueprint engineering designs for the crematoriums in the death camps.

The industrialisation of homicide in the Holocaust probably goes some way towards accounting for the difference in numbers as compared with, say, the St Bartholomew’s Day massacre of the Huguenots in France in August 1572 – when the number of victims ran to tens of thousands by some accounts.

There have been other genocides since the Holocaust in Rwanda and Bosnia although those lacked the industrialisation dimension of the Holocaust.

89. the a&e charge nurse

[75] ‘It’s intentionally whitewashing what Irving is and what he does and your habit of sanitising this reflects very, very badly on you indeed’ – I’m not watering down what he said, to my mind it is completely irrelevant how provocative his claims are.
Irving may be a raving loon but he still comes out looking better than the Austrian authorities who feel it is somehow appropriate to jail peaceful citizens for expressing a point of view

Irving said (after reading thousands, or possibly tens of thousands of original documents) he was unable to find a paper trail linking operations in the camps to Hitler.
He also claims there is forensic evidence to suggest the gas chambers could not have operated on the scale reported, not least because there was not the technical means to deploy such large amounts of zyclon B without gassing half of the guards as well.

I have no idea if any of this is true, or what any of the Nazi WW2 documents actually say because I have not read them – but I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that you haven’t read any of them either?
Irving has – so if he wants to discuss a lifetimes worth of research he should be entitled to do so without fear of prison.

I was and am vaguely aware of Irving’s critique of Holocaust claims. He may well be correct on points of detail but there plainly were death camps, gas chambers and crematoriums as well as concentration camps where inmates were living and dying in appalling conditions that were liberated by allied troops on the western front. IMO there is far more point in going through the horrifying evidence and replaying those newsreels than putting Irving in jail for expressing scepticism.

Preoccupation with the Holocaust is being allowed to distort and distract from many other important aspects of those times about how the Nazis came to power, what kept them in power as a popular government in Germany – internal security wasn’t a problem there, and the failings of government which came to depend on the whims of the Fuhrer. Romel was implicated in the plot to assassinate Hitler in July 1944 but his main (and, arguably, valid) complaint seems to have been that the Fuhrer was screwing up the military conduct of the war.

As one historian (Stephen Bungay) of the Battle of Britain has pointed out, a decisive factor in the victory of the RAF was its hugely superior command and control system, whereas the popular myth is that the Spitfire won it. In fact, in the RAF, Hurricanes in the battle outnumbered Spitfires 2 to 1 and it is seriously arguable that while the Spitfire was a magnificant plane to fly, the German Me109 was a superior fighter plane. It seems counter-intuitive that the command structure of the Luftwaffe, in the Third Reich, was shambolic compared with that of the RAF.

Btw try this: “The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering is a 2000 book by Norman G. Finkelstein that argues that the American Jewish establishment exploits the memory of the Nazi Holocaust for political and financial gain, as well as to further the interests of Israel. According to Finkelstein, this ‘Holocaust industry’ has corrupted Jewish culture and the authentic memory of the Holocaust.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Holocaust_Industry

Norman Finkelstein’s parents were Auschwitz survivors.

91. Just Visiting

Bob B

you’re normally excellent at quoting sources.

I see you have gone off-topic, introducing ‘ Christian Atrocities’.

Can you give sources that put the Amritsar massacre under that heading?

91: “Can you give sources that put the Amritsar massacre under that heading?”

General Dyer, the commanding officer at the occasion of the Amritsar massacre in 1919, had a Christian upbringing. He was removed from his command by his military superiors after the massacre but on returning to England and retiring from the army he was presented with a purse of £26,000 collected from a grateful British public, including a contribution from Rudyard Kipling, as the result of a campaign mounted by the Morning Post, which later merged with the Daily Telegraph:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reginald_Dyer

93. Just Visiting

A & E

> Irving said … he was unable to find a paper trail linking operations in the camps to Hitler.
> .. He also claims there is forensic evidence …

Both of these points have been shown to not disprove the fact or the scale of the holocaust.

> I have no idea if any of this is true …

Strange that you have no view either way – given the vehemence with which you debate this issue.

Have you a view as to say the arguments quoted in Wiki that demolish the 2 points you raise? See: “Criticism_of_Holocaust_denial”.

What would it take for you to believe that indeed, Irving’s position is wrong?

It is arguable that Germany’s military successes in the early years of WW2 depended on the excellent engineering of its weaponry and the application of blitzkrieg tactics by the military.

Guderian in the German command, pioneered German armoured warfare and blitzkrieg. “Guderian, who was fluent in both English and French studied the works of British maneuver warfare theorists JFC Fuller and, debatably, BH Liddell Hart; also the writings, interestingly enough, of the then-obscure Charles de Gaulle. He translated these works into German.”

Guderian was not indicted for war crimes at the Nuremberg trials after the war.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heinz_Guderian

Bob B: ‘Most agree… blah, blah, blah.’

You seem uniquely incapable of ever staying on topic Bob. It’s quite a ‘gift’.

steveb: ‘IMO, the Holocaust had no precedent in history.’

I agree.

The thing that has always stuck in my mind, is that while most massacres/genocides involve some degree of cover-up, the deed done, the bodies buried and forgotten, there was a remarkable dualism to Nazi policy: on the one hand, the incineration of victims left no physical trace of them, while on the other, the Nazis were busy preparing a museum of an extinct race. They openly and unashamedly wanted to consign the Jews to history, to make them a relic of the past.

I’m unaware of any historical parallel.

the a&e charge nurse: ‘I have no idea if any of this is true…’

What an absolutely remarkable statement.

Bob B: ‘Preoccupation with the Holocaust is being allowed to distort and distract from many other important aspects of those times…’

I’m sorry, but that is total and utter nonsense.

There is a huge body of academic literature concerning both the Nazis rise to power and their subsequent period in power. Indeed you’d struggle to find any other historical topics on which there are as many publications – the 1789 French and 1917 Russian Revolutions are probably the closest competitors.

Please don’t make things up, Bob.

96. Chaise Guevara

@ 83 Jim

“Restrict, but not stop.”

Yep.

“Yes, but you are using a word to describe something outside any reasonable definition.”

Sigh. The definition of the word that is most convenient to Jim =/= the reasonable definition.

“The impression you get is spot on, no one is being censored, nor is it morally wrong to tell people we do not like to sling their hook and take their vile views elsewhere.”

No it is not. But that’s not what we’re discussing, is it?

“Every now and then, the local Christian group chap my door to tell me the good news about Jesus. I very politely tell them I am not interested [etc. etc.]”

You’re working very hard to ignore what I’m talking about and pretend I’m talking about something else. Why is that?

If you can’t tell the difference between a) controlling opinion related via your media and b) pressuring someone else into changing the opinion related via their media, then you’re incapable of discussing the issue and I doubt I can help you. But I think you’re fully capable, just disingenuous.

“And if Sunny introduce a ‘no platform’ clause into the blog rules? You would be happy with that? Then I wonder what all the fuss is about.”

That’s because you’re talking to your little straw man rather than engaging with the argument. Let me repeat: Sunny can do what he likes. It’s his blog. However, if Sunny posted an opinion you disliked, and your response was to pressure his ISP to shut his site down, then I’d say you were out of order. And that’s the sort of thing you’re advocating.

It’s incredibly revealing that you have to lie about my POV to make arguments against it. Do it again and I’ll give up. There’s only so many times I can be bothered to repeat a simple statement.

97. the a&e charge nurse

[95] Oh, the delicious irony.
This – ‘What an absolutely remarkable statement’ – from a self confessed apologist for the Austrian bully boys!

At the risk of repeating myself I am unable to mount counter claims to Irving’s arguments based on personal inspection of the mountain of source documents because I, unlike Irving, and I suspect, every other commentator on this thread have not actually read any of them.

Irvings arguments may not stand up to scrutiny – but what is being proposed here, by the likes of Feodor & his co-oppressors, is that one shouldn’t ask too many questions, or if you do you should be jailed for talking about what you think you might have found.

NB please try to avoid confusing a badly crafted argument with the freedom to discuss honestly held individual beliefs, especially when such beliefs are based on a lifetimes historical research.

98. the a&e charge nurse

[93] first of all see @97.
To repeat myself, I am unable to refute Irvings claims based on his interpretation of the source material because there is so much stuff to wade through, oh, and I can’t read German.

Now if Irving is a deeply unpleasant specimen incapable of even the most rudimentary historical research then it should be a very simple matter for more authoritative historians to dismantle his various claims – in other words his ideas should be challenged via an academic tradition rather than a sub-stalinist legal framework, that can result in jail time for digging around in a controversial area of research.

99. the a&e charge nurse

[93] just to add I am not arguing that Irving is right (although it would take a special sort of talent to be absolutely wrong about everything after years, and years of investigation).

I am arguing for Irving’s right to discuss his ideas without fear of imprisonment – for some reason, some commentators seem to be having problems recognising the difference.

95:

Bob B: ‘Preoccupation with the Holocaust is being allowed to distort and distract from many other important aspects of those times…’

Feodor: I’m sorry, but that is total and utter nonsense.

You have reverted to your usual standard of objectivity. My observation was not original – other parties got there years before me. Try this for comparison:

“The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering is a 2000 book by Norman G. Finkelstein that argues that the American Jewish establishment exploits the memory of the Nazi Holocaust for political and financial gain, as well as to further the interests of Israel. According to Finkelstein, this ‘Holocaust industry’ has corrupted Jewish culture and the authentic memory of the Holocaust.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Holocaust_Industry

Norman Finkelstein’s parents were Auschwitz survivors.

Abba Eban (Israeli foreign minister 1966-74): “There is no business like Shoah business.”

And there is Gerald Kaufman’s speech to Parliament in which he accused Israel of acting like Nazis in Gaza.

“Britain’s chief rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, today delivers an unprecedentedly strong warning to Israel, arguing that the country is adopting a stance ‘incompatible’ with the deepest ideals of Judaism, and that the current conflict with the Palestinians is ‘corrupting’ Israeli culture.” [Guardian 22 August 2002]

Feodor

Check out this league table of the estimates for 20th century democide:
http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/20TH.HTM

The democide toll of the Nazis ranks below that of China PRC, Soviet Union and Colonialism.

the a&e charge nurse: ‘…I suspect, every other commentator on this thread have not actually read any of them.’

Admittedly, my acquaintance with the primary material related to German history is largely limited to that which covers the Weimar period. Nevertheless, I have a good enough grasp of the secondary literature on the Reich period to say with confidence that academic historians have dismantled Irving’s claims, in the process showing him to be ‘incapable of even the most rudimentary [standards of] historical [accuracy]’.

If you’d like a recommendation, start with the book by R J Evans I highlighted above. Though you needn’t even need to go to that length: reading the Wikipedia page on Irving would show this to be the case. Thus your constant claims of not being able to pass judgement on Irving’s research seem rather disingenuous.

the a&e charge nurse: ‘…what is being proposed here, by the likes of Feodor & his co-oppressors, is that one shouldn’t ask too many questions’.

Evidently you lack the ability to engage with the arguments I’ve actually made, so instead you resort to strawmen.

the a&e charge nurse: ‘…it would take a special sort of talent to be absolutely wrong about everything after years, and years of investigation’.

Not really. Strong ideological blinkers are all that’s required.

Bob B: ‘You have reverted to your usual standard of objectivity.’

Uh? What does that mean when it’s at home?

Bob B: ‘My observation was not original – other parties got there years before me.’

Bob, nothing you cite supports your claim that ‘Preoccupation with the Holocaust is being allowed to distort and distract from many other important aspects of those times’. Instead, your citations argue that the Holocaust is being misused for political gain, which is an entirely different claim. Surely you can see that?

As ever, you’re more interested in diverting the debate down other channels than actually engaging with the topics at hand. I struggle to see how this isn’t either a deliberate ploy on your part or an attempt to try and appear well-informed by showing you know about lots of things, most of which nevertheless being irrelevant to the issues under discussion.

103. the a&e charge nurse

My god, it looks like the Austrian gulags might have their work cut out for them – does anybody know if Tom Cruise has any film plans there?
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/scientologists-believe-the-holocaust-was-planned-and-carried-out-by-psychiatrists-8440369.html

Feodor: “nothing you cite supports your claim that ‘Preoccupation with the Holocaust is being allowed to distort and distract from many other important aspects of those times’. Instead, your citations argue that the Holocaust is being misused for political gain, which is an entirely different claim. Surely you can see that?”

On the contrary, the quotes show a preoccupation with the Holocaust over far greater democides in the 20th century in PRC China, the Soviet Union, and by colonial powers as compared with the democide perpetrated by Nazi Germany 1939-45.

Whenever international public debate breaks out over Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land and the atrocities Israelis have inflicted on Palestinians, we can be sure the powerful Israeli lobby will invoke again the Holocaust as proving the necessity for a jewish state occupying Palestine and the unlimited right of return of ethnic jews to Palestine because of some exclusive covenant with an ethnic deity.

The Holocaust was and is no justification for the long string of Israeli atrocities – the terrorist bombing of the King David Hotel in 1946, the Deir Yassin massacre in 1948, the Qibya massacre in 1953, the Khiam Prison in South Lebanon, the massacres in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in 1982 etc etc.

What the comparison between dozens of Third Reich books in my local reference library and just one book on modern German politics shows is an obsession with Nazi history over the world in which we are living now. The preference of so many A-level history students to select Nazi Germany as their chosen period is another sign of the same obsession. A study of the inter-war years would create many more instructive lessons for current issues.

Do a random survey of debates on the web to see how many references there are to the Holocaust as compared with the Great Leap Forward in China, the Cultural Revolution there, the Ukraine famine of 1932/33, which had a similar death toll to the Holocaust, the Moscow show trials and the Soviet gulags.

The image of Hitler that most of us have from newsreels is that of a ranting demagogue along with panoramic views of adoring crowds with their arms stuck in the air or marching paramilitaries carrying swastika flags.

Contrast that with the comments of Germans who met Hitler as shown in the BBC doc: The Nazis – A warning from history, linked @68, or the reported comments of visitors to Germany who met with Hitler, such as Unity Mitford, Charles Lindbergh or Lloyd George.

They were “star struck” by Hitler’s personality is the only way I can think of putting it. Whatever “charisma” is, Hitler had it and terrible consequences flowed from it. A total of some 55 million people were killed in WW2, a figure much greater than the number of Holocaust victims so I think it more important to understand the transition from Germany’s Weimar Republic through to the end of WW2. The Holocaust is part of that horrifying narrative but it is only part.

Richard @ 87

I am saying that censorship has to be absolute. In your example there are specific acts or battles that were censored, like a given outcome of a battle. That was across the media, so that ‘no one’ was allowed to report that battle, or meeting or loss of shipping. I am not saying that because act ‘a’ was not reported whereas act ‘b’ was reported that no censorship took place that would be nonsense. If act ‘a’ expunged from the all the records then, clearly act ‘a’ has been censored, irrespective of the fate of act ‘b’.

On the other hand. If all actions in the war are kept in the public domain, but the ‘Daily Mirror’ refuse to report a given action (say Dunkirk) for whatever reason, then that is not ‘censorship’ in this context. It could be called ‘self censorship’, but that is not the same as a general government act of censorship. Even if every newspaper choose, independently for whatever reason to refuse to report the Dunkirk evacuation, then I doubt you could claim that was censorship.

106. the a&e charge nurse

[102] ‘Evidently you lack the ability to engage with the arguments I’ve actually made, so instead you resort to strawmen’ – the argument you have made is that a peaceful historian should be jailed for expressing his opinion …….. because Austria determined a priori that certain sorts of questions cannot be pursued.

I assume one or two scientologists in Vienna might be feeling rather uncomfortable at the moment given the precedents established by the Irving case?

Irving says he was finally busted 17 years after the warrant was initially issued – he was arrested on the ludicrous basis of the ‘reactivation law’ even though he had visited Austria 6 times in the intervening period.
Presumably the nazi-hunters must have been too preoccupied with the movement of certain scientologists to notice Irving was repeatedly sneaking in and out of the country in order to expound his ideas to a small circle of enrapt ‘Freedom Party’ members?

Of course I must ask you – do you also support the jailing of any scientology member who subscribes to their movement’s special understanding of the holocaust?

CG @96

Sigh. The definition of the word that is most convenient to Jim =/= the reasonable definition.

You cannot take a word that has specific meanings in English and make up a new meaning for that word and then attempt to fuse your meaning into the accepted meaning. English doesn’t work like that. You dearly want ‘banning someone from an establishment’ to mean the same as ‘censorship’ but it isn’t. Sorry, it just doesn’t work like that.

But that’s not what we’re discussing, is it?

Er, that is exactly what we are discussing. That is the whole point of ‘no platform’. It is an attempt to say that there are views that we think are so terrible that we would rather you did not use our property, or the property we are custodians of, be that a school, a scout hut, a web page, newspaper our local pub or community hall or what to espouse them.

However, if Sunny posted an opinion you disliked, and your response was to pressure his ISP to shut his site down, then I’d say you were out of order. And that’s the sort of thing you’re advocating.

Ah, but I or whoever may be ‘out of order’, but that is not the same thing as censorship.

108. Chaise Guevara

@ 107 Jim

“You cannot take a word that has specific meanings in English and make up a new meaning for that word and then attempt to fuse your meaning into the accepted meaning. English doesn’t work like that.”

Indeed. But equally you can’t pick one meaning out of many and expect the rest of us to fall in line. Please bear in mind that I have twice now tried to avoid this problem by explaining my terms, because unlike you I don’t feel the need to insist on a pointless semantic row to dodge the actual issues. I’d be more than happy to taboo the word and talk about “viewpoint suppression” or somesuch instead.

“Er, that is exactly what we are discussing. That is the whole point of ‘no platform’. It is an attempt to say that there are views that we think are so terrible that we would rather you did not use our property, or the property we are custodians of, be that a school, a scout hut, a web page, newspaper our local pub or community hall or what to espouse them.”

This is the last time I’ll say this; ignore me again and I’ll have no choice but to give up. I am not complaining about people restricting their own platforms. I AM COMPLAINING ABOUT THEM USING PRESSURE TO MAKE OTHER PEOPLE RESTRICT THEIR PLATFORMS. Grow a pair and stop arguing with ghosts.

“Ah, but I or whoever may be ‘out of order’, but that is not the same thing as censorship.”

Let’s call it viewpoint suppression then. Surely we can now discuss the issue rather than the word? I mean, it’s not like you’re throwing up smokescreens, right?

a&e: “Presumably the nazi-hunters must have been too preoccupied with the movement of certain scientologists to notice Irving was repeatedly sneaking in and out of the country in order to expound his ideas to a small circle of enrapt ‘Freedom Party’ members?”

It seems highly likely that the timing of Irving’s arrest for Holocaust denial was brought about because it was felt to be opportune in the context of Austria’s internal politics so as to discredit nazi-leaning political parties there.

Having said that, it is astonishing that such political movements are reviving and considered by many to be a significant threat.

Perhaps I’m missing something but making sceptical comments about the Holocaust appears to have evolved into political code in parts of Europe to signify xenophobic inclinations. What I don’t get is the supposed association with “libertarianism” or “deregulation” since the Nazi economy in Germany was extensively controlled by the state and there were large-scale public works programmes to create jobs.

None of that is compatible with the usual libertarian agenda although the Nazis in Germany were highly popular at the time because of their model of an interventionist, dirigiste state.

CG @ 107

I am not complaining about people restricting their own platforms.

Then there is not an issue, because the ‘no platform’ campaign is about preventing NUS members from engaging with Nazis.

I AM COMPLAINING ABOUT THEM USING PRESSURE TO MAKE OTHER PEOPLE RESTRICT THEIR PLATFORMS.

There can be nothing wrong in an do is use legitimate methods in attempting to persuade others to deny the Fascists a platform for their views, be it University deans, headmasters or pub-landlords or whatever. If you want to characterize that as ‘pressure’ then fair enough. However, no one is actually going to remove their ‘Right’ (if such a Right even exists) to free speech, because it is simply impossible to stop people saying what they want to say. The best we could do is deny them an audience.

Surely we can now discuss the issue rather than the word?

Then fair enough.

111. the a&e charge nurse

[110] ‘no one is actually going to remove their ‘Right’ to free speech (if such a right even exists) because it is simply impossible to stop people saying what they want to say’ – according to article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
‘Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and to seek, receive and impart information through any media and regardless of frontiers.’

Amnesty started up over a freedom of speech issue.
“50 years ago, 2 students in Portugal were jailed for simply raising a glass and toasting freedom. Since 1961, the right to freedom of expression has been central to our values. But 50 years on, free speech remains a luxury – not a right – for many people all around the world, in various ways. We strongly believe that as long as it’s not undermining someone else’s rights, everyone should be able to say what they want, without fear of persecution”.
http://www.amnesty.org.uk/content.asp?CategoryID=12231&gclid=CMqf5KuZ2bQCFU3HtAod9WcAAQ

What is “fascist” to some is the evident social benefits of a dirigiste state to others.

Denying a platform to any wanting to discuss one or the other conflicts with the spirit of maintaining open debate. The awful warning is that most signs at the time show that Nazi government in Germany, up to the war at least, was hugely popular except for a small dissident minority who tended to quickly end up in the camps or dead. However, recall that I’ve known two ethnic jews who lived in Germany and Hungary throughout the war years without being detained. They came to England after the war and settled here.

Bob B: ‘On the contrary, the quotes show a preoccupation with the Holocaust over far greater democides…’

Dear me Bob, your method of argument is truly abysmal. I shortened your quote because I at least expected you would stick to your original point, but you’ve just tried to move the goalposts in a completely shameless manner. Unfortunately, you ain’t gonna fool me, not even once. Your original statement said nothing about ‘democides’. You said:

‘Preoccupation with the Holocaust is being allowed to distort and distract from many other important aspects of those times about how the Nazis came to power, what kept them in power as a popular government in Germany – internal security wasn’t a problem there, and the failings of government which came to depend on the whims of the Fuhrer.’

So yesterday you were arguing that focusing on the Holocaust meant we’ve overlooked ‘how the Nazis came to power [and] what kept them in power’. And instead of responding to my argument that this isn’t the case, today you say, ‘the comparison between dozens of Third Reich books in my local reference library and just one book on modern German politics shows [there] is an obsession with Nazi history over the world in which we are living now’ (emphasis added).

The overlooked ‘important aspects’ of yesterday become the the ‘obsessions’ of today. And to think, someone who argues in such a fundamentally dishonest manner has the audacity to blabber on about Orwellian double-think!

Honestly Bob, do you really think I and the other readers are so stupid that we’ll be fooled by this tripe?

the a&e charge nurse: ‘…the argument you have made is that a peaceful historian should be jailed for expressing his opinion …….. because Austria determined a priori that certain sorts of questions cannot be pursued.’

The argument that I’ve consistently made is that the Austrian legal framework on this matter arose out of an unprecedented historical situation, and that one cannot understand Austrian policy without also understanding this situation. You refuse to engage with this argument, and instead wish to paint the Austrian government as some kind of pantomime villain. You’re the quintessential armchair know-nothing.

(As it happens, I have actually done significant research on this issue, based on primary documents, and suspect am the only contributor to this thread who can claim any kind of special knowledge on the subject.)

the a&e charge nurse: ‘Of course I must ask you – do you also support the jailing of any scientology member who subscribes to their movement’s special understanding of the holocaust?’

It would strike me as overkill, but laws have to be applied in a consistent and non-selective manner, so the logic of my argument means that I would support punishment against them if these views took the form of public expression, though one could make the case for more lenient punishments as there is no pro-Nazi sentiment, just Holocaust denial.

However, just believing this ‘special understanding’ does not warrant imprisonment: your choice of language here once again shows you don’t really know what you’re talking about.

Feodor

You are hopelessly confused and not worth debating with.

The endless repeating emphasis on the horrors of the Holocaust implies that the killing of the other 45+ millions in the course of WW2 really doesn’t matter as much. That is grossly offensive and hurtful to the surviving families and friends of those who were killed – if any did survive.

Of course, the repeating emphasis on the Holocaust distorts our understanding of what happened between the Weimar Republic in Germany and the end of WW2 in 1945 for much the reasons that Norman Finkelstein wrote and more. The Holocaust does not justify the harm that has been inflicted on the Palestinians.

I’ve already suggested that if David Irving didn’t exist, some groups would find it very convenient to create someone like him.

@113 Bob has a few hobby horses he likes to ride about the comments with, including trying to somehow rubbish moves toward Scottish independence by invoking the Darian Scheme from the 1600’s. In short he’s not too fond of Israel, Scotland, the Soviet Union, or same sex marriage without accompanying rules about polygamous marriage and cuckolding, for some reason.

116. the a&e charge nurse

[113] ‘your choice of language here once again shows you don’t really know what you’re talking about’ – I know enough to know you support custodial sentences for having an opinion that is not state approved.

I’ll give credit for being honest enough to admit that the logic of your position demands the possibility of locking a few scientologists up as well – however repugnant such a posture might be for others.

The Austrian situation as you call it, however unprecedented does not, and can never justify the locking up of peaceful citizens for speaking the mind.
First they came for Irving, then the scientologists – who else will be brave enough to dissent from the official Austrian line?

As Tony Garston says in his analysis of the proposed european wide blanket ban on holocaust denial – the road to hell is paved with good intentions (and he is certainly no fan of Irving).
Garston notes “9 EU member states currently have laws against Holocaust denial: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia. That happens to be a list of countries with some of the strongest rightwing xenophobic parties in the EU, from France’s National Front and the Vlaams Belang in Belgium to the NPD in Germany and the Greater Romania party”.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2007/jan/18/comment.secondworldwar

Obvious question – do you think locking up Irving or a few outspoken scientologists will have any impact on the long tradition of disgusting antisemitism that has been a near permanent feature in european culture – of course it won’t – so why do it, eh?

First they came for Irving, then the scientologists

Far as I can tell the Austrian authorities have not ‘come for the scientologists’, in fact the worst they’re doing to them at the minute is to not to recognise them as a religion.

Plus they ain’t exactly the most sympathetic of characters either, their whole ‘Psychologists are evil’ (and thus ‘did the holocaust’ dawg) shtick was born out of self preservation, given that they are pretty much a brain washing cult that appeals to and feeds the ego (hence top self-important tossers like Tom Cruise and John Travolta).

115 Cylux: “Bob has a few hobby horses he likes to ride”

Sure, but the exercise for my arthritic fingers is beneficial and the horses sometimes get changed or even swapped over as fresh evidence arrives. To quote that veteran Socialist from Scotland Jimmy Maxton:

“If you can’t ride two horses at once you shouldn’t be in the circus.”

Of course, things are apt to get a bit challenging if the two horses are going round the metaphorical circus in different directions.

119. the a&e charge nurse

[117] ‘Far as I can tell the Austrian authorities have not ‘come for the scientologists’ – they might wait 17 years like they did with Irving before they come knocking on the door, but admittedly it is extremely unlikely.

According to the Indy report – “Scientologists believe that psychiatry is Nazi pseudoscience. They believe that the Holocaust was planned and carried out by psychiatrists” (see link @103).

I’m sure they will be OK to maintain these bizarre theories even if it means exploiting the holocaust as a vehicle to expound their well known hatred of psychiatry.

@119 Well the bizarre theories exist to try and prevent long term scientologists from ever visiting a psychologist, since tales of body thetans and auditing are not likely to go down well, so it’s not surprising that ‘psychiatry is Nazi pseudoscience’, it is surprising however that it isn’t Commie-Nazi-Deceptacon pseudoscience. So I doubt they’re on the ghetto blaster shouting about it to any policemen in the nearby vicinity to arrest them forthwith. Besides I’m not sure why you’re concentrating on Austria on this one, Germany outright has the security services watching them and classes them as a cult.

Plus if you’re looking for another ‘hero’ who ought to watch out for holocaust revisionism laws should they venture into Austria there’s always Scott Lively.

It is claimed that Scientology amounts to a cult and that its hierarchy engages in what psychiatrists and psychologists regard as brain-washing methods similar to those described and assessed in William Sargant’s book: The Battle for the Mind (1957):
http://www.mcfrdz.ishk.com/battle_for_the_mind.pdf

If so, the hostility of professed Scientologists towards psychiatrists and psychologies is defensive and rational.

Censorship doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Refusing a platform to fascists may well be contributing in a small way to censorship (if you choose to interpret censorship so widely, which I don’t). However, giving a platform to fascists is contributing to the censorship of other points of view, as fascists will typically use their platforms to intimidate.

On balance, I would rather progressive organisations, when given a choice between defending the speech of oppressed groups, or of fascists, chose the oppressed groups.

Bob B: ‘You are hopelessly confused and not worth debating with.’

That’s rich coming from someone who changes their arguments on a daily basis.

In any case, if you really think ‘repeating emphasis on the Holocaust distorts our understanding of what happened between the Weimar Republic in Germany and the end of WW2 in 1945′, then, presuming the ‘our’ refers to serious academic opinion rather than pub opinion, then I fear you’re not really as well acquainted with the literature on these subjects as you like to pretend.

Incidentally, you keep bringing up Finkelstein. Is his the only work you have read, or, more likely, found a snippet review of? He’s certainly not the be all and end all on this topic. Indeed many academics, boring sober sods that they are, consider him something of a self-promoting sensationalist.

the a&e charge nurse: ‘First they came for Irving, then the scientologists…’

That you’re using this line in this context is not only rather tasteless, but shows just how exaggerated your opinion of this whole issue is. Liberty the world over is not going to be unduly affected by a few individual cases in a couple of countries.

the a&e charge nurse: ‘Obvious question – do you think locking up Irving or a few outspoken scientologists will have any impact on the long tradition of disgusting antisemitism that has been a near permanent feature in european culture – of course it won’t – so why do it, eh?’

‘Obvious question’, where have I said these laws have anything to do with anti-Semitism? My position, which unlike yours is based on knowledge of when and why the Austrian laws came about, centres on the argument that these laws are in place to prevent a (neo-)Nazi revival. That has little to do with mitigating the long tradition of European anti-Semitism, which in any case poll results show is still rife in Austria.

In fact if you’d paid attention to my previous comments, you would have seen that I said the most interesting question is the one which relates to when the Austrian statues have outlived their usefulness. Indeed I think a good argument can be made in favour of the 1992 (?) clarification of the Austrian anti-Nazi prohibitions being seen as a retrograde step. But as you’re more interested in making wild claims, you’ve overlooked any serious discussion of such issues.

As for Scientology, I don’t really want to get into a debate over this. Nevertheless, they’re more a cult that relies on thuggish intimidation than a peaceable religion, and at some point legal measures might be needed against them. Although using Holocaust denial laws to do this seems a rather roundabout way of tackling the issue – kinda like getting the Mafia for its tax evasion rather than its criminal enterprises.

Sven: ‘Censorship doesn’t exist in a vacuum…’

Good points well made. :)

124. Chaise Guevara

@ 110 Jim

“Then there is not an issue, because the ‘no platform’ campaign is about preventing NUS members from engaging with Nazis.”

That’s one no-platform campaign. Other no-platform policies have focused on pressuring third parties. The most obvious example is the BNP on QT thing (although the BBC has unusual requirements, so it’s atypical). Another is the practice of boycotting TV channels or their advertisers if they host opinions you dislike.

Not that you should sit there and watch a TV pundit you hate out of a sense of duty. I’m talking along the lines of “This channel shows Six Feet Under, that show is liberal and I am conservative, therefore I am boycotting all of the channel’s content.”

“However, no one is actually going to remove their ‘Right’ (if such a Right even exists) to free speech, because it is simply impossible to stop people saying what they want to say. The best we could do is deny them an audience.”

Again, I’m not claiming otherwise. There are shades of grey between the two extremes. In my opinion, trying to stifle the views of people you disagree is simply immoral, not to mention cowardly. If your views are correct/superior, surely you can demonstrate that in an honest discussion? If you have to resort to exploiting your power to reduce the odds of the other side being heard, it suggests that you’re being dishonest.

[That’s the general “you” above, BTW.]

125. So Much for Subtlety

77. Feodor

The genocide was taking place when the Vietnamese government intervened to overthrow the Khmer Rouge. China, American, Britain and most of the international community sided with the Khmer Rouge. Perhaps if they’d couched their actions in the rhetoric of ‘humanitarian intervention’, the Vietnamese’s actions would have found more supporters in the west.

So you have looked up Wikipedia and are backing away from your more absurd claims. Good. The Americans and Britain did not side with the Khmer Rouge. They sided with the international law view that invasion is not a legal way to change governments. Perhaps they would have. But then their aims were not humanitarian and had nothing to do with the genocide so it is irrelevant. As is most of this given you seem to have rejected all your previous incorrect claims.

Your views on this are quite superficial,

Nice. Stupid of course, but nice. Everything I said was true. A link to an irrelevant article is not going to change that. Austria may ban Holocaust denial. But their neo-Nazis are in government. That looks pretty good evidence the ban has backfired.

1) In 1945, about 1 in 10 of the total population had been Nazi Party members at some point between 1938 and 1945. That’s almost 700,000 persons in total.

Do you think this massive dump of irrelevant bullsh!t is going to make your argument look better?

I say this without having any love for their politics, the VdU/FPO have since proved they can be a reasonably responsible party of government, with no intention of subverting the diplomatic process.

Except the VdU is not the FPO. So cuddly Nazis are fine with you? Notice that Irving has done nothing to subvert the democratic – and I assume that is what you meant – process either.

6) The EU sanctions represent an attempt by a left-liberal elite to subvert the democratic process in one of its member states.

Indeed. As is Austria’s ban on free speech.

I’d rather they didn’t, but I don’t support bureaucratic fiat as a means of preventing this.

But you do support bureaucratic fiat as a means to stop them saying all sorts of things. That seems inconsistent.

7) I’m sure the writers/editors of LC have many talents, but they’re not specialists on Austria, and their views are unlikely to extend beyond typically superficial and exaggerated opinion pieces.

Glasshouses mate.

You assume, without proof or reason, that Austria’s ban on Holocaust denial has helped assimilate former Nazis into the democratic process. I am actually interested why you think that.

Communism in Britain, of course, was never anything much more than an irrelevancy. Preventative measures would have been overkill.

Actually no. Communism clearly destroyed large swathes of British industry. They guided much of Britain’s foreign and cultural policies. And if they remained small, they punched above their numbers and worked hard to make sure the Soviet Army liberated us.

But I suppose you also think west Germany was wrong to pass measures against the RAF, who posed a real and significant threat to civil society and the democratic process?

Depends on the measure. Note the RAF was killing people.

That’s a rather curious statement. In what sense wasn’t Britain a democracy? Albeit a democracy faced with a severe external threat, which therefore had to take certain preventative measures.

Preventative measures that more or less gutted democracy in Britain. It isn’t curious at all.

The evidence is that he’s never been convicted (in this country) of involvement in any form of terrorist conspiracy: i.e., he’s innocent until proven guilty.

And he has not been sentenced to prison. He is being held, like many others, in remand.

Ergo, he’s imprisoned because he’s considered a threat, not because he’s actually done anything. Do you support that?

I supported it when they jailed Ian Huntley for the brief time between his arrest and his conviction. Being held on remand doesn’t mean you’re innocent and it doesn’t mean you are held only because they think you’re a threat. It is a commonplace in Western law.

We do in state schools.

Depending on the intolerance.

As you like. I’d think any under-performance by Muslims in tests designed to determine intelligence related to the modern scientific world, has more to do with the prominence of modern-fundamentalist anti-modern (a mouthful I know!) doctrines in this community. But each to his or her own.

Assuming such doctrines existed in the past when Muslims still underperformed. And of course we are back to the chicken and egg problem.

Correlation does not prove causation. Moreover, it really undermines the biological-determinist argument if ‘pure’ African DNA outperforms mixed. Or is ‘mongrel’ DNA now being considered the lowest cohort in the racial intelligence hierarchy?

It does undermine the genetic argument. Hence I pointed out it did.

Perhaps not. But the cultural arguments do seem to have much more obviously provable explanatory power.

Except there is no population of people of African origin anywhere in the world, no matter what their culture, that is doing well. Africans, African Americans, Afro Caribbeans, Afro-Brazilians, Afro-Turks, Afro-Pakistanis, all of them, tend to share the same problems. That is starting to look like culture is not the entire story.

Thus you say X and in the next sentence say you doubt X.

No I don’t. You said Doubtless Y. I said X and then doubt Y.

Perhaps. But that does not mean we should automatically assume biology has explanatory primacy. There could be a myriad of other explanations, the most significant of which would likely be cultural attitudes to learning.

We shouldn’t. But given the evidence points that way we should not ignore it either. Or to return to the point of this discussion criminalise people who want to talk about it. Which we do in fact if not in law.

It’s not just slavery, and I suspect you’re being facetious here, because it’s well-established that while other immigrant groups in America have started at the bottom and risen, these groups have not had to deal with the same socio-structural hurdles as African-Americans have. African-Americans don’t confront a glass ceiling: it’s more like a solid brick wall.

How do you know they haven’t? The experience of the Japanese American and Chinese American communities have been replete with just as much discrimination. Indeed parts of the South had significant Chinese populations and so segregation applies to them too. The Mississippi Delta (the other one that is) for instance. Take a guess how badly those communities are doing.

Then why is it absent from so many social-democratic welfare states?

It is now, largely because of World War Two and the decline of Social Democracy.

Granted. You said it was ‘inherent’ to it. My argument is that it is ‘inherent’ to a certain period in the history of modernism, that it goes beyond and across political lines.

Being red is inherent to fire engines. But that does not mean half of all apples are fire engines.

If this is the case, then it should be reasonably easy to highlight some examples of ‘people from a Social Democratic back ground’ implementing sterilisation policies.

I did. I keep pointing out that the places with the most Nordic immigration were also the places with the first eugenics programmes and sterilisation policies. If you look at Canada, forced sterilisation is found in Alberta and British Columbia – Alberta ruled by the closest thing to Social Democracy in Canada, British Columbia ruled by them and the Leftist New Democratic Party. Sweden carried out its forced sterilisations under the long unbroken Social Democrat period.

This group is so small as to be almost meaningless. Unemployment generally has far more significant causes than laziness on the part of the unemployed, irrespective of what puffed-up French philosophers have to say on the matter.

No it isn’t. It is presently small-ish, but it is not small enough to be meaningless. It is probably somewhere between 5 and 10 percent of the population. Which, when it is a racial minority, means welfare is not possible. There is only one cause of long term unemployment – a refusal to work. But that does not matter because at the time people thought it was a problem. As it has turned out to be.

Though to proceed on your terrain momentarily, if the British social-democratic welfare state is now dying, it is because of political decisions made by policy-makers, not the ‘free rider problem’.

Sorry but the two are inseparable. Politicians will do what the voters want. The voters may be willing to pay for their own who have had bad luck. But they are not willing to pay for people of other ethnicity who choose not to work. That is why politicians are responding to public pressure.

Very little public money is spent subsidising ‘free riders’ as you define them.

That is, of course, absurd. And irrelevant. It is what people think that counts.

No, no I’m not. There’s is not a clearly defined usage. British thinkers tend to say ‘ethnicity’ where American thinkers would say ‘race’.

No they would not. Because thinkers tend to use both words precisely – and Americans avoid using terms like race if they can possibly avoid it. Race and ethnicity are two different things.

I suspect the main difference between us is that you are wedded to the notion that genetics is primarily a group-level phenomena, whereas I consider it something that occurs on an individual level – or, more accurately, sub-individual, but individual is a more easily understandable way of expressing the argument.

Except, of course, you both know nothing about what I think and as we both now know, there are group-level markers for racial groups. It is irrelevant. You are just trying to change the subject again.

Afaik, the consensus in modern biology supports my outlook, though that does not necessarily mean the consensus is correct.

A consensus imposed by political bullying, not by science.

126. So Much for Subtlety

114. Bob B

I’ve already suggested that if David Irving didn’t exist, some groups would find it very convenient to create someone like him.

Can I just say I admire the way that Bob’s twisty little mind makes Holocaust Denial part of some larger evil Jewish plot? Not just crazy, crazy like a fox!

SMFS, I’ll try to keep this brief and focus on the salient points, because I’m somewhat short on time. Anyhow, here goes:

‘The Americans and Britain did not side with the Khmer Rouge. They sided with the international law view that invasion is not a legal way to change governments.’

Yet it was a legitimate way to change the government in South Vietnam?

In any case, it’s a stretch to assert that, because Chomsky and other people in the west opposed intervention in Indochina, they were responsible for the Khmer Rouge, which was your original claim. If intervention had not occurred in the first place, it is highly unlikely the Cambodian situation would have progressed in the manner it did.

‘Everything I said was true. A link to an irrelevant article is not going to change that.’

Lol. Everything you say is true, yet a reference to an article written by a specialist on the issue, which contradicts your position, is ‘irrelevant’.

Specious nonsense.

‘Austria may ban Holocaust denial. But their neo-Nazis are in government.’

Yes they do; no they aren’t.

Nevertheless, given your studiously arrived at position, I’m interested in your opinion as to how the FPO can be considered neo-Nazis?

‘Do you think this massive dump of irrelevant bullsh!t is going to make your argument look better?’

‘Irrelevant bullshit’ – otherwise known as historical context needed in order to understand the topic at hand.

‘Except the VdU is not the FPO.’

There is a direct line of succession between the two: effectively, the FPO is the VdU re-branded. That you don’t know this really undermines your ability to talk about this issue from an authoritative position.

‘Notice that Irving has done nothing to subvert the democratic – and I assume that is what you meant – process either.’

Yes I did mean democratic. And the Austrian viewpoint is that legitimising the Nazi past represents an attempt to subvert the democratic process of a democracy built on the rubble of Nazi dictatorship.

‘Indeed. As is Austria’s ban on free speech.’

The EU elite that imposed sanctions on Austria were not elected by the Austrian people. The Austrian political elites who passed and maintain the Nazi Prohibition Laws are a legislative body directly accountable to the Austrian people. See the difference?

Moreover, it’s not a ban on ‘free speech’ per se, just a ban on one particular form of speech.

‘But you do support bureaucratic fiat as a means to stop them saying all sorts of things. That seems inconsistent.’

Not really. See above.

‘You assume, without proof or reason, that Austria’s ban on Holocaust denial has helped assimilate former Nazis into the democratic process. I am actually interested why you think that.’

I’ve already explained, citing academic sources in the process: if there’d been no ban, then former Nazi supporters would not have had to engage with mainstream, democratic political parties. It’s your choice if you want to see that explanation as a ‘massive dump of irrelevant [bullshit]’.

‘Actually no. Communism clearly destroyed large swathes of British industry. They guided much of Britain’s foreign and cultural policies. And if they remained small, they punched above their numbers and worked hard to make sure the Soviet Army liberated us.’

None of this, as questionable as it all is, has any relevance to the original context in which the CPGB was raised, as a group committed to the violent overthrow of the British state with the means at their disposal to succeed in this aim – something which is patently untrue.

Indeed if you had much knowledge of CPGB policy, you’d know that from the early 50s they were committed to the ‘British Road to Socialism’, a road that most definitely did not involve the Soviet Army being employed as a liberating force.

‘Depends on the measure.’

Afaik, the measures included a quite significant increase in the scope of the intelligence services ability to collect and collate data on private citizens. It was really quite intrusive, though not necessarily wrong.

‘Preventative measures that more or less gutted democracy in Britain. It isn’t curious at all.’

Yes it is. Because this ‘gutted’ democracy was, miraculously it seems, able to resurrect itself with few problems in 1945.

‘And he has not been sentenced to prison. He is being held, like many others, in remand.’

Perpetual remand.

‘Depending on the intolerance.’

It doesn’t matter if the ‘intolerances’ prohibited are only selective, it’s the principle that some are banned. I presume you accept that and agree that there is good reason to do it?

‘Assuming such doctrines existed in the past when Muslims still underperformed. And of course we are back to the chicken and egg problem.’

Not really. Because past Muslim societies have shown themselves more than capable of being at the forefront of human intellectualism.

‘Except there is no population of people of African origin anywhere in the world…’

Yet there are historic instances of very refined intellectual cultures arising from African origins and African kingdoms/empires/nations.

Unfortunately, we have no data related to intelligence levels in these past societies. We only have data from a very limited historical period. Thus, in this context, before conclusive results can be drawn, far more time needs to elapse.

‘That is starting to look like culture is not the entire story.’

No, you’re right. Socio-economic relations also play a very important role.

‘No I don’t. You said Doubtless Y. I said X and then doubt Y.’

It was hardly clear. Surely you understand that, esp. in a format like this, it is not always possible or easy for another to grasp the meaning originally advanced.

‘Or to return to the point of this discussion criminalise people who want to talk about it. Which we do in fact if not in law.’

Nonsense. There is some social pressure, but it does not produce the impact you think it does. Moreover, social pressure influences every debate. Intellectual arguments don’t occur in a vacuum. There are many good books on the sociology of knowledge, if you’re interested.

‘How do you know they haven’t?’

It’s my reading of American history, which admittedly I am not an expert on.

‘It is now, largely because of World War Two and the decline of Social Democracy.’

Yet in western Europe the social-democratic state did not emerge until after the Second World War, and furthermore, did not pursue such policies.

Scandinavian social democracy is rather different from western European, both in terms of content and form, and North American is rather different from both of these.

‘Being red is inherent to fire engines. But that does not mean half of all apples are fire engines.’

Good quip, but it applies just as much to your argument about it being inherent to social democracy as it does mine about it being inherent to modernism.

‘I did. I keep pointing out that the places with the most Nordic immigration were also the places with the first eugenics programmes and sterilisation policies. If you look at Canada, forced sterilisation is found in Alberta and British Columbia – Alberta ruled by the closest thing to Social Democracy in Canada, British Columbia ruled by them and the Leftist New Democratic Party.’

Finally, some examples. And I accept them.

But, how does these prove it is inherent to the social democratic state in general, an undifferentiated statement which applies also to western European states of this type, and not just North American social policy?

To me, given the differences between Canadian and American state-welfare policies, yet the similarity you cite between their approach to sterilisation, this suggests this is more a generalised North American phenomenon than one which applies to social-democratic welfare states per se.

‘It is probably somewhere between 5 and 10 percent of the population.’

Unemployment doesn’t even count for 5-10 per cent of the economically active population most of the time. Of course maybe you consider the working population to also consider the retired and those in full-time education…?

‘There is only one cause of long term unemployment – a refusal to work.’

Total and utter nonsense, presumably penned by someone who’s never suffered either persistent health problems or lived in an area with a chronic shortage of jobs.

‘Sorry but the two are inseparable.’

Not really. If – and granted you dispute this – it were the case that public perception were wrong, there is no reason why politicians have to swim with the tide rather than against it. Politicians certainly don’t always do what the population wants. Was a majority of people in this country in favour of the Iraq adventure? A majority certainly isn’t in favour of the current government’s policy, whether we choose to define that as a majority of the total adult population, or a majority as understood in terms of a government being able to command a majority in the House of Parliament.

‘No they would not.’

Yes they do.

You seem unaware that British and American English are two different but closely related languages. And you seem more influenced than you realise by American English: see, e.g., your decision to call the Second World War World War Two – you’d probably lose marks for that in a history exam in a British University.

‘…there are group-level markers for racial groups.’

But if we accept that genetics is primarily a sub-individual phenomena, then it is unlikely that these markers have that much significance.

‘Can I just say I admire the way that Bob’s twisty little mind makes Holocaust Denial part of some larger evil Jewish plot? Not just crazy, crazy like a fox!’

Despite our differences, I’m sure we’d both agree that modern science would marvel at what goes on in Bob’s mind! ;)

126 SMFT: “Can I just say I admire the way that Bob’s twisty little mind makes Holocaust Denial part of some larger evil Jewish plot? Not just crazy, crazy like a fox!”

The large and noisy Israel lobby needs to point to Holocaust deniers to show that Israel is essential as a “homeland”, with unlimited right of return, for jews – note that Zionists and the Israel lobby are not recognising that Palestinians also need a homeland secure from the building of illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian land.

The Holocaust is repeatedly invoked in international public debates as the rationale for the separate state of Israel in Palestine. Recall that the British government warned, in the UN general assembly debate on Palestine in November 1947, that partition would lead to continuing conflict – which it has. Parts of the Zionist lobby are claiming the right of Israel to all the territory of ancient Israel, which includes not only the West Bank of the Jordon but a large part of South Lebanon as well. It is illuminating that I’m being called “twisted” for pointing that out.

I’m certainly not denying the reality of the Holocaust in the face of all that newsreel evidence of allied troops on the western front in 1945 liberating concentration camps. What I am saying is that other atrocities like the famines in the Ukraine and Belarus, which resulted from Stalin’s policy for Soviet enforced collectivisation of agriculture and “the elimination of the kulaks as a class”, seldom get a mention even though the death toll was of the same order as the Holocaust. And the Holocaust is a useful distraction from the Nazi German-Soviet Friendship Treaty signed on 28 September 1939 when Britain and France were already at war with Germany.

I’ve also pointed out that the estimated deaths from Soviet tyranny were about three times that of the Nazis and that about 55 million people altogether were killed in the course of WW2. There is a real likelihood, it seems to me, that the victims of the Holocaust are being accorded greater importance than all those other millions of victims of the war.

There is a subdued debate in the histories of the war about prevailing myths. I’ve mentioned the mistaken notion that the Spitfire won the Battle of Britain. It is seldom pointed out that the official estimate of British civilians killed from German bombing during the war, including the Blitz and the V1s and V2s, was in the order of 65,000. That compares with just the death toll of a few 1,000 bomber raids on Hamburg alone in the summer of 1943. Britain’s civilian casualties from bombing during the war were actually light as compared with German civilian casualties from RAF bombing.

129. Just Visiting

Bob B

Sorry to keep asking, but if you have a uRL where a historian describes the Amritsar massacre as a ‘Christian atrocity’ I’d love to read more.

Do you have such a source?

JV: “Sorry to keep asking, but if you have a uRL where a historian describes the Amritsar massacre as a ‘Christian atrocity’ I’d love to read more.”

I am describing the Amritsar massacre of 1919 as a Christian atrocity since General Dyer, the commanding officer on that occasion, had a Christian upbringing and took the standard oath of allegiance to the monarch who is head of the Church of England.

On his return to England and retirement from the army, he was given a purse of £26,000, collected from a grateful British public following a campaign by the Morning Post, which later merged with the Daily Telegraph. Try the Wikipedia entries for Dyer and for the Amritsar massacre.

I take it that you are not dissenting from applying the description of “Christian atrocity” to the St Bartholomew’s Day massacre of the Huguenots in France in August 1572, the flourishing slave trade of the 18th century or the Opium Wars over the right of British traders to sell opium to the Chinese in China.

131. So Much for Subtlety

127. Feodor

Yet it was a legitimate way to change the government in South Vietnam?

It seems to have worked out that way for the North so perhaps that is why they thought they could get away with it in Cambodia.

In any case, it’s a stretch to assert that, because Chomsky and other people in the west opposed intervention in Indochina, they were responsible for the Khmer Rouge, which was your original claim. If intervention had not occurred in the first place, it is highly unlikely the Cambodian situation would have progressed in the manner it did.

No, it would have been much quicker. It is not a stretch and they did not oppose intervention in Indochina. They opposed opposing the Communists. The intervention had already taken place. They wanted Pol Pot in power. They worked to get him in power. They therefore share the blame when he did what he always wanted to do once he was in power.

Lol. Everything you say is true, yet a reference to an article written by a specialist on the issue, which contradicts your position, is ‘irrelevant’.

Because it has nothing to do with the issue. It is you evading the issue yet again.

Yes they do; no they aren’t. Nevertheless, given your studiously arrived at position, I’m interested in your opinion as to how the FPO can be considered neo-Nazis?

Given it is pretty much a consensus that they are, I don’t see the need to discuss it. Certainly their leaders have been.

‘Irrelevant bullshit’ – otherwise known as historical context needed in order to understand the topic at hand.

Great. We’re going to end up with the suicide of Rudolf if you keep up this “historical context”. It is just evading the issue.

There is a direct line of succession between the two: effectively, the FPO is the VdU re-branded. That you don’t know this really undermines your ability to talk about this issue from an authoritative position.

Well no. The Social Democrats and the People’s Party had the electoral map stitched up between them. That means that all the disaffected who did not like either party had to find somewhere else to congregate. Some stuck with the VdU and when that collapsed, they looked around for somewhere else to go and found the FPO. There isn’t really much continuity between them.

Moreover, it’s not a ban on ‘free speech’ per se, just a ban on one particular form of speech.

Either you can say what the government does not like or you can’t. Austrians can’t. They do not have free speech. Whether or not the Austrian government is fully exercising that power or not.

I’ve already explained, citing academic sources in the process: if there’d been no ban, then former Nazi supporters would not have had to engage with mainstream, democratic political parties. It’s your choice if you want to see that explanation as a ‘massive dump of irrelevant [bullshit]‘.

They didn’t. The Social Democrats tried to split the Right wing vote by getting them to form their own party. And then they just faded away. Former Nazis were never that big a group in Austria and they had little impact on the country after the war. So they never really engaged with mainstream democratic political parties. The rise of the neo-Nazis is more due to the corruption and cronism of the Socialists and PP.

Nor have you managed to explain it. You simply assert nonsense. There is no connection between the ban and the Nazis choice to engage in politics. There may be between the ban and the rise of the neo-Nazis.

None of this, as questionable as it all is, has any relevance to the original context in which the CPGB was raised, as a group committed to the violent overthrow of the British state with the means at their disposal to succeed in this aim – something which is patently untrue.

Of course it is relevant. The Communists did massive damage to the UK and its interests. Had the Nazis invaded, we probably would have ended up as a Soviet satellite too.

Indeed if you had much knowledge of CPGB policy, you’d know that from the early 50s they were committed to the ‘British Road to Socialism’, a road that most definitely did not involve the Soviet Army being employed as a liberating force.

So they had a little PR snow job. Given they continued to exist because the Soviets funded them and their main activity was trying to disarm the West, it is pretty obvious that in fact they were still hoping for Soviet liberation. Right to the end. They still control the CND.

Afaik, the measures included a quite significant increase in the scope of the intelligence services ability to collect and collate data on private citizens. It was really quite intrusive, though not necessarily wrong.

So no big deal then. Nothing like the ban on free speech.

Yes it is. Because this ‘gutted’ democracy was, miraculously it seems, able to resurrect itself with few problems in 1945.

Because all the main parties remained committed to the idea of democracy. Just not during the war.

Perpetual remand.

Nonsense.

Not really. Because past Muslim societies have shown themselves more than capable of being at the forefront of human intellectualism.

No they haven’t. They have shown that the limited tolerance they offer to Christians and Jews enables those minorities and some newly converted people to continue to preserve and extend their pre-Islamic culture. Arabs contributed virtually nothing and the longer any group was Muslim, the less they contributed too.

Yet there are historic instances of very refined intellectual cultures arising from African origins and African kingdoms/empires/nations.

Spare us the PC revisionism. No there aren’t unless you mean Egypt. At least not that we can tell because people who don’t write don’t leave any history.

Unfortunately, we have no data related to intelligence levels in these past societies.

But we can look at every African-descent majority society in the world today. Whether they suffered slavery or not, whether they were exposed to Western civilisation or not, whether they are Muslim or Christian or pagan. And none of them is doing particularly well.

Nonsense. There is some social pressure, but it does not produce the impact you think it does. Moreover, social pressure influences every debate. Intellectual arguments don’t occur in a vacuum. There are many good books on the sociology of knowledge, if you’re interested.

Thank you for the tip. But yes we do. It is not nonsense. People have been jailed for racist tweets. Lecturers with tenure fired. People sacked from their jobs. We do in effect criminalise it.

Yet in western Europe the social-democratic state did not emerge until after the Second World War, and furthermore, did not pursue such policies.

You keep saying this and it remains not true. And they did. Down to the 1970s in Sweden and Switzerland.

Good quip, but it applies just as much to your argument about it being inherent to social democracy as it does mine about it being inherent to modernism.

Except there is a long logical argument about free riding and the feckless that the early Social Democrats actually acknowledged. You can be modern and not sterilize. I think the Social Democrats were right and you cannot over the long run be a Social Democrat and not do it.

To me, given the differences between Canadian and American state-welfare policies, yet the similarity you cite between their approach to sterilisation, this suggests this is more a generalised North American phenomenon than one which applies to social-democratic welfare states per se.

Except it is rare in America. It is rare in Eastern Canada. It is common in European social democracies. Who also produce arguments for it. Thus there needs to be some link. That link is obviously social democracy.

Total and utter nonsense, presumably penned by someone who’s never suffered either persistent health problems or lived in an area with a chronic shortage of jobs.

People who have health problems aren’t, by definition, unemployed. And the point about the areas without jobs just supports my view – why do they still live there? Jobs don’t fall from trees. People create them. What you mean is that the feckless live with other feckless people.

Politicians certainly don’t always do what the population wants.

Except when it comes to ending free speech it seems. Then you’re fine with it and define it as democratic.

You seem unaware that British and American English are two different but closely related languages. And you seem more influenced than you realise by American English: see, e.g., your decision to call the Second World War World War Two – you’d probably lose marks for that in a history exam in a British University.

Blah, blah, blah. More evasion and irrelevant ad homs.

But if we accept that genetics is primarily a sub-individual phenomena, then it is unlikely that these markers have that much significance.

If.

So Much for Subtlety: ‘It seems to have worked out that way for the North so perhaps that is why they thought they could get away with it in Cambodia.’

I misspoke. Should have read: Yet it was a legitimate way to change the government in North Vietnam?

SMFS: ‘No, it would have been much quicker.’

That’s pure conjecture on your part.

SMFS: ‘They worked to get him in power. They therefore share the blame when he did what he always wanted to do once he was in power.’

Perhaps. But this is getting awfully off-topic now.

The original point you raised had to do with prosecuting Chomsky for ‘denying Pol Pot’s genocide’. I said this was hardly relevant as he has little relevance to Cambodian society.

Whatever his later arguments, when Chomsky was first opposing intervention in Indochina, this was before the Khmer Rouge had come to power and started massacring people. I therefore fail to see how his later comments, directed primarily to an English-speaking audience, warrant any action, esp. as he makes them from the comfort of his American study, with them having next to no impact on what occurs in Cambodia and, afaik, has never travelled there for the purposes of disseminating his views.

I really don’t see how this is comparable to the Irving situation.

SMFS: ‘Given it is pretty much a consensus that they are, I don’t see the need to discuss it. Certainly their leaders have been.’

A ‘consensus’? Among whom? Obviously politically interested parties in the rest of Europe, but not Austria. And perhaps almost as importantly, not among academic specialists on Austria.

And which leaders?

Oh, sorry, you ‘don’t see the need to discuss it’. Thus, henceforth, I’ll accept your infallible word on the subject. :rolleyes:

SMFS: ‘The Social Democrats and the People’s Party had the electoral map stitched up between them.’

You manage to make the fact that they had long-standing political constituencies seem as if it was a sinister plot.

SMFS: ‘Some stuck with the VdU and when that collapsed, they looked around for somewhere else to go and found the FPO. There isn’t really much continuity between them.’

There’s a great deal of continuity in supporters, members and, most importantly perhaps, leaders.

SMFS: ‘Either you can say what the government does not like or you can’t. Austrians can’t. They do not have free speech.’

Hyperbole, pure and simple. Do we have free speech in this country?

SMFS: ‘Former Nazis were never that big a group in Austria and they had little impact on the country after the war.’

A tenth of the total population is a small group? And that’s just card-carrying members, not supporters.

Furthermore, they had plenty of impact: what to do with them was one of the major issues confronting postwar planners – you’d know that if you’d browsed the article you say ‘has nothing to do with the issue’.

SMFS: ‘So they never really engaged with mainstream democratic political parties.’

Compared with the terrorist campaigns conducted by the Nazi minority in the First Republic, the consistent support shown by this (after the war much larger) group for political parties committed to the democratic process seems a pretty solid engagement to me.

SMFS: ‘There is no connection between the ban and the Nazis choice to engage in politics.’

So if no measures had been taken, if no process of democratisation and denazification had taken place, they would have all just given up their former views and supported the Second Republic? You really think that?

SMFS: ‘Of course it is relevant.’

No it’s not. And moreover, given how you’ve tried to shift the terrain, it’s rather rich for you to accuse me of evasion.

SMFS: ‘The Communists did massive damage to the UK and its interests.’

You assume there is such a thing as a British interest shared by all groups within British society.

SMFS: ‘Had the Nazis invaded, we probably would have ended up as a Soviet satellite too.’

Conjecture and hyperbole. Neither France nor Italy ended up as Soviet satellites, what makes you think Britain would of done?

No one in the Russian government seriously considered there to be any chance of a Communist-led government in any western European state after the mid-1920s, public propaganda notwithstanding.

Your view of Communist machinations is little more than the tinfoil hat brigade’s ‘Soviet world dominance’ view of history.

SMFS: ‘So they had a little PR snow job.’

No, it was a rather significant change which occurred across the CP’s of western Europe. In both Italy and France it led to the disarmament of partisans and the participation in government, something which did not please many of the rank and file, esp. the older partisans.

SMFS: ‘Given they continued to exist because the Soviets funded them…’

The CP’s, like most Marxist groups, tended to be rather good at extracting money from their members and supporters, through dues, literature sales, donations, etc. They also gained funding from rents and other financial assets. They had enough money to be self-financing. Russian gold was an added bonus.

SMFS: ‘So no big deal then. Nothing like the ban on free speech.’

Interesting. Our great defender of the liberal faith thinks banning a few cranks from denying the Holocaust is infinitely worse than widespread and intrusive state surveillance of private citizens.

As you like, they’re your politics.

SMFS: ‘Because all the main parties remained committed to the idea of democracy. Just not during the war.’

I fail to see how forming a coalition of already elected representatives during a war time situation represents an abandonment of democracy. Should they have held elections? Why? What purpose would this have served?

SMFS: ‘Nonsense.’

But he’s not been tried, has he? Nor is there any trial in the budding, is there? So what else is it?

SMFS: ‘Arabs contributed virtually nothing…’

Horseshit, pure and simple.

SMFS: ‘Spare us the PC revisionism. No there aren’t unless you mean Egypt.’

Spare us the thinly veiled bigotry.

For starters, what about the Ethiopian kingdom?

SMFS: ‘But we can look at every African-descent majority society in the world today… And none of them is doing particularly well.’

Well done, you’ve managed to avoid answering both of the points I raised: (1) the importance of socio-economic relations, which occur in a world-wide context; (2) the limited time-span over which we have useful data.

SMFS: ‘[1] People have been jailed for racist tweets. [2] Lecturers with tenure fired. [3] People sacked from their jobs.’

1 – nothing to do with the topic under discussion; i.e., whether intelligence levels are determined by racial group.

2 – examples please.

3 – see 1.

SMFS: ‘You keep saying this and it remains not true. And they did. Down to the 1970s in Sweden and Switzerland.’

No. I’m saying Sweden and Switzerland, by any reasonable standard, cannot be used to characterise a form of state that existed in many other countries. Is that so hard to understand?

SMFS: ‘Except there is a long logical argument about free riding and the feckless that the early Social Democrats actually acknowledged. You can be modern and not sterilize. I think the Social Democrats were right and you cannot over the long run be a Social Democrat and not do it.’

The argument doubtless exists, though whether it was considered esp. important or whether it had much influence is another problem. In any case, you fail to explain why this has not occurred across the board – I’ve asked that again and again, btw, I hope you’re not ‘evading’ it!?

SMFS: ‘Except it is rare in America… It is common in European social democracies… Thus there needs to be some link. That link is obviously social democracy.’

It was (is?) practised in a number of American states, yet it was only practised in two of many European nations. Your obvious link can only be seen once one puts on those strong blinkers of yours.

SMFS: ‘People who have health problems aren’t, by definition, unemployed.’

You don’t really live in the real world do you? Disability benefit is not as easy to get as you think.

SMFS: ‘And the point about the areas without jobs just supports my view – why do they still live there?’

Again, upping sticks is not as easy as you think, esp. if you have dependants and other commitments.

The qualification for being long-term unemployed is only a year. Not many people would in that space of time consider it, on balance, worth going through the stress of relocation rather than waiting for the local situation to improve, esp. if the jobs situation elsewhere is also characterised by shortages.

Moreover, a small percentage of people are ‘unemployable’ – not because they are ‘feckless’, but because they simply lack any skills or characteristics an employer would find attractive. (Before you say menial work would do, you must realise that much of this is now in the service sector, in some locations that is about the only menial work available, and certain appearances and mannerisms are deemed beyond the pale – being heavily tattooed or pierced, e.g., or particularly inarticulate)

SMFS: ‘Blah, blah, blah. More evasion and irrelevant ad homs.’

Lol.

SMFS: ‘If.’

Do you accept Richard Dawkins’ position on genetics as representing the standard view in modern biology?

I’m not up to speed on the nuanced differences between Nazis and neo-Nazis – illumination would be appreciated.

It’s instructive how much of the debate here has focused on Irving, Nazis and Holocaust denial to the exclusion of fascism or other xenophobic manifestations.

Italian fascism, under Mussolini’s leadership, was not initially antisemitic and only became so in the late 1930s in response to Nazi German pressures although Hitler credited Mussolini with the first creation of the fascist state. Various reference books do not automatically assume congruency between fascism and xenophobia in general or antisemitism in particular:

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

Several writers have suggested that the apparently popular creed of Communitarianism among some recent political leaders – such as Blair and Cameron – blurs into fascism and other species of authoritarian ideologies: that aspect has been neglected in the debate here:
http://www.spectator.co.uk/columnists/james-delingpole/7045153/communitarianism-is-a-freedomhating-totalitarian-philosophy-like-any-other/

134. Just Visiting

Bob B

Sorry to keep on about this.

Your answer avoided my question (again).

To avoid boring everyone else -could you just give me a one word Yes/No answer ?:

Have you got a uRL where a historian describes the Amritsar massacre as a ‘Christian atrocity’?


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Is the anti-fascist policy of 'no-platform' effectively dead? http://t.co/g2CdCpBB

  2. Jason Brickley

    Is the anti-fascist policy of ‘no-platform’ effectively dead? http://t.co/NTCXbl4a

  3. leftlinks

    Liberal Conspiracy – Is the anti-fascist policy of ‘no-platform’ effectively dead? http://t.co/Hcle1s6k

  4. Jack O'Mahoney-Lamb

    Is the anti-fascist policy of 'no-platform' effectively dead? http://t.co/g2CdCpBB

  5. Chris.W

    Is the anti-fascist policy of 'no-platform' effectively dead? http://t.co/g2CdCpBB

  6. Alex Parsons

    I don't think no platform accomplishes anything but really not sure debating fascists has ever achieved much either :: http://t.co/sYOciGdg

  7. Rahoul

    Is the anti-fascist policy of 'no-platform' effectively dead? http://t.co/g2CdCpBB

  8. Why no platform is still relevant, and the trouble with liberal “anti-fascism” « Anti-Fascist Network

    […] a Robert Sharp posted a short blog on Liberal Conspiracy to argue against no platform. It is, he argues, “counter-productive” because when […]

  9. David Landon Cole

    Is the anti-fascist policy of ‘no-platform’ effectively dead? | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/mWGOWyrQ via @libcon

  10. Matt Barker

    http://t.co/hImaYaNU #fb





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