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Is it Possible to Live Without a Computer of Any Kind?

This article was originally published on 19th May 2021.

I am absolutely sick to death of computers. The blue light of a screen wakes me up in the morning, I stare at another computer on my desk for hours every day, I keep one in my pocket all the time and that familiar too-bright glow is the last thing I see before I close my eyes at night. Lockdown undoubtedly made the problem much, much worse. Last year, a nasty thought occurred to me: it might be the case that the majority of my memories for several months were synthetic. Most of the sights and sounds I’d experienced for a long time had been simulated – audio resonating out of a tinny phone speaker or video beamed into my eyes by a screen. Obviously I knew that my conscious brain could tell the difference between media and real life, but I began to wonder whether I could be so sure about my subconscious. In short, I began to suspect that I was going insane.

So, I asked myself if it was possible to live in the modern world without a computer of any kind – no smartphone, no laptop, and no TV (which I’m sure has a computer in it somewhere). Of course, it’s possible to survive without a computer, provided that you have an income independent of one, but that wasn’t really the question. The question was whether it’s possible to live a full life in a developed country without one.

Right away, upon getting rid of my computers, my social life ground to a halt. Unable to go to the pub or a club, my phone allowed me to feel like I was still at least on the periphery of my friends lives while they were all miles away. This was hellish, but I realised that it was the real state of my life – my phone acted as a pacifier and my friendships were holograms. No longer built on the foundation of experiences shared on a regular basis, social media was a way for me to freeze-dry my friendships – preserve them so that they could be revived at a later date. With lockdown over though, this becomes less necessary. They can be reheated and my social life can be taken off digital life support. I would lose contact with some people but, as I said, these would only be those friendships kept perpetually in suspended animation.

These days large parts of education, too, take place online. It’s not uncommon now in universities, colleges and secondary schools for work and timetables to be found online or for information to be sent to pupils via internal email networks. Remote education during lockdown was no doubt made easier by the considerable infrastructure already in place. 

Then there’s the question of music. No computers would mean a life lived in serene quiet; travelling and working without background sound to hum or tap one’s foot to. An inconvenience, maybe, but perhaps not altogether a negative one. Sir Roger Scruton spoke about the intrusion of mass-produced music into everyday life. Computer-produced tunes are played at a low level in shopping centres and restaurants, replacing the ambient hum and chatter of human life with banal pop music. Scruton believed that the proper role of music was to exalt life – to enhance and make clear our most heartfelt emotions. Music today, though, is designed to distract from the dullness of everyday life or paper over awkward silences at social events. He went so far as to say that pop consumption had an effect on the musical ear comparable to that of pornography on sex.

The largest barrier, however, is the use of the internet for work. Many companies use online services to organise things like shift rotas, pay and holidays and the entire professional world made the switch to email decades ago. How feasible is it to opt out of this? Short of becoming extremely skilled at something for which there is both very little supply and very high demand, and then working for a band of eccentrics willing to accommodate my niche lifestyle, I think it would be more or less impossible. Losing the computer would mean kissing the possibility of a career goodbye. 

Lockdown has also sped up the erosion of physical infrastructure required to live life offline as well as accelerated our transformation into a ‘cashless society’. On average, 50 bank branches have closed every month since January 2015, with over 1000 branch closures across the country in the last year alone. It also seems to have wiped away the last remaining businesses that didn’t accept card payments. The high street, already kicking against the current for years, is presently being kept alive by Rishi Sunak’s magic money tree while Amazon records its best quarter for profits ever. It’s no mystery to anyone which way history will go. 

I’m lucky that my parents were always instinctively suspicious of ‘screens’. I didn’t get a smartphone until a good way into secondary school and I got my first – and only – games console at the age of 16. I keenly remember getting a laptop for my birthday. I think my parents gave it to me in the hopes that I would become some kind of computing or coding genius – instead, I just played a lot of Sid Meiers Civilisation III. My dad would remind me that nothing on my computer was real, but that didn’t stop me getting addicted to games. If it wasn’t for my parents’ strong interventions I would likely have developed a serious problem – sucked into the matrix and doomed to spend my youth in my bedroom with the blinds down.

All year this year I have wrestled with my media addiction but been unable to throw it off. I told my friends that I was taking a break from social media, I deactivated my Twitter account, I physically hid my phone from myself under my bed, and yet here I am, writing this on my laptop for an online publication. When I got rid of my phone I turned to my computer to fill the time. When I realised that the computer was no better I tore myself from it too… and spent more time watching TV. I tried reading – and made some progress – but the allure of instant reward always pulled me back.

I’m not a completely helpless creature, though. On several occasions I cast my digital shackles into the pit, only to find that I needed internet access for business that was more important than my luddite hissy-fit. Once I opened the computer up for business, it was only a matter of time before I would be guiltily watching Netflix and checking my phone again. It’s too easy – I know all the shortcuts. I can be on my favourite time-absorbing website at any time in three or four keystrokes. Besides, getting rid of my devices meant losing contact with my friends (with whom contact was thin on the ground already). Unplugging meant really facing the horrific isolation of lockdown without dummy entertainment devices to distract me. I lasted a month, once. So determined was I to live in the 17th century that I went a good few weeks navigating my house and reading late at night by candlelight rather than turning on those hated LEDs.

And yet, the digital world is tightening around us all the time. Year on year, relics of our past are replaced with internet-enabled gadgets connected to a worldwide spider web of content that has us wrapped up like flies. Whenever I’ve mentioned this I’ve been met with derision and scorn and told to live my life in the woods. I don’t want to live alone in the woods – I want to live a happy and full life; the kind of life that everyone lived just fine until about the ’90s. I’m sick of the whirr and whine of my laptop, of my nerves being raw from overuse, of always keeping one ear open for a ‘ping ’or a ‘pop’ from my phone, and of the days lost mindlessly flicking from one app to the other. Computers have drastically changed the rhythm of life itself. Things used to take certain amounts of time and so they used to take place at certain hours of the day. They were impacted by things like distance and the weather. Now, so much can occur instantaneously irrespective of time or distance and independent from the physical world entirely. Put simply, less and less of life today takes place in real life. 

The world of computers is all I’ve ever known and yet I find myself desperately clawing at the walls for a way out. It’s crazy to think that something so complex and expensive – a marvel of human engineering – can become so necessary in just a few decades. If I can’t get rid of my computers I’ll have to learn to diminish their roles in my life as best I can. This is easier said than done, though; as the digital revolution marches on and more and more of life is moved online, the digital demons I am struggling to keep at arm’s length grow bigger and hungrier.

I’m under no illusions that it’s possible to turn back the tide. Unfortunately the digital revolution, like the industrial and agricultural revolutions before it, will trade individual quality of life for collective power. As agricultural societies swallowed up hunter gatherers one by one before themselves being crushed by industrial societies, so those who would cling to an analogue way of life will find themselves overmatched, outcompeted and overwhelmed. Regardless, I will continue with my desperate, rearguard fight against history the same way the English romantics struggled against industrialisation. Hopeless my cause is, yes, but it’s beautiful all the same.


Photo Credit.

What I’ve Learnt as a Revolutionary Communist

This article was originally published in November 2021.

I have a confession to make. 

A few months ago I was made an official member of the Revolutionary Communist Group after being involved as a participating supporter for about a month and a half. The RCG are, in their own words, Marxist-Leninist, pro-Cuba, pro-Palestine, internationalist, anti-imperialist, anti-racist and anti-capitalist. They believe that capitalism is causing climate change, which they refer to as the ‘climate crisis’, and that socialism/communism is the only way to avert catastrophe.

They believe that the twin forces of imperialism and capitalism work today, and have been working for hundreds of years, to enrich the Western capitalist class by exploiting the labour of the proletariat and plundering the resources of the ‘Global South’. They publish a bi-monthly newspaper entitled ‘Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!’ which acts as an ideological core around which centre most of the groups discussions.

After two months of twice-weekly zoom calls, leafleting in front of busy train stations and protesting in front of embassies, I was finally invited to become an official member. I rendezvous-ed with two comrades before being taken to a door which was hidden down a dark alleyway and protected by a large iron gate – certainly a fitting location for a revolutionary HQ. Inside was an office and a small library stocked with all manners of communist, socialist and anti-imperialist literature including everything from Chavs by Owen Jones to The Labour Party – A Party Fit For Imperialism by Robert Clough, the group’s leader. 

I was presented with a copy of their constitution, a document about security and a third document about sexual harassment (the RCG has had issues with members’ behaviour in the past). It was here, discussing these documents for almost three hours, that I learnt most of what I know now about the RCG as an organisation and the ecosystem it inhabits. 

The RCG is about 150-200 members strong with branches across the country – three in London, one in Liverpool, Manchester, Norwich, Glasgow and Edinburgh and possibly more. In terms of organisation and decision-making they use what they call ‘democratic centralism’ – a sprawling mess of committees made up of delegates that appoint other committees that all meet anywhere between once every two weeks and once every two years. They’re also remarkably well funded, despite the fact that their newspaper sells for just 50p. They employ staff full time and rent ‘offices’ up and down the country. They draw income from fundraising events, members dues, newspaper and book sales and donations (both large and small).

Officially, the RCG is against the sectarianism that famously ails the Left. However, one zoom call I was in was dedicated to lambasting the Socialist Workers Party who, I soon learnt, were dirty, menshevik, reactionary Trots. We referred to them as part of the ‘opportunist Left’ who routinely side with the imperialists. 

The RCG doesn’t generally maintain good relations with many other major leftist groups. Central to RCG politics is the idea of a ‘labour [small L] aristocracy’ – a core of the working class who have managed to improve their material conditions just slightly and so work against the interests of the wider working class, suppressing real revolutionary activity in order to maintain their cushy positions. The RCG sees the Trade Union movement as the bastion of the labour aristocracy. They see the Labour party also as their greatest enemy – ‘the single greatest barrier to socialism in Britain’.

The RCG takes issue with the SWP specifically over their attitude to Cuba. They believe that most Trotskyists are too critical of socialist revolutions that have occurred in the past and so are not real communists – after all, no revolution will be perfect. The RCG’s issue with the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) is that they resent how the CPGB claims to be the main organisation for communism in this country and uses its coziness with the trade unions as a signifier of legitimacy. However, the RCG believes that this makes the CPGB not much more than an extension of the Labour party, which it despises. 

The CPGB-ML (Communist Party of Great Britain – Marxist-Leninist), on the other hand, are much closer politically to the RCG. They also share the same view on the Labour party. However, the CPGB-ML has recently taken a loud anti-trans position and so the RCG wants nothing to do with them.

Socialist Appeal are a group that has organised with the RCG in London before but the two do not get along due to, once again, the former’s (until recent) support for the Labour party every election. The RCG also shares views with Extinction Rebellion but XR now no longer wants anything to do with the RCG because of the RCG’s insistence on selling its communist newspaper at every event its members attend. The RCG insisting on trying to recruit members at every event it attends, including events co-organised with other groups, is a major source of friction and one of the reasons nobody wants to organise with them. It’s also one of the reasons why the RCG has stopped organising with LAFA – the London AntiFascist Assembly. 

LAFA, I was told, are a chaotic bunch. They staunchly oppose all forms of hierarchy and make decisions on a ‘horizontalist’ basis. In true anarchist fashion, there are no official leaders or ranks at all in LAFA and decisions are made sort of by whoever takes the initiative. Unfortunately this means that those who become unofficial leaders in the group are accountable to absolutely no-one because they are not technically responsible for anything, and naturally issues arise from this quasi-primitivist state of affairs. Ironically, this makes the London AntiFascist Assembly kind of based.

Interestingly, one organisation with which the RCG has never had any problems is Black Lives Matter. The RCG and Socialist Appeal were (apparently) the only two groups out on the streets in solidarity with BLM last summer – BLM even allowed RCG members to speak at their events. The RCG enjoyed quite a close and amicable relationship with BLM right up until BLM decided at the end of last summer to effectively cease all activity, with the reason given to the RCG being just that ‘the summer has ended’. Presumably, the bulk of BLM’s activist base either had to go back to school or just got bored. 

Although the RCG strictly prohibits any illegal activity at any of its protests, one clause of the constitution is ‘a revolution clause’ requiring members to leave their jobs and move house at the discretion of the RCG. I was told this clause has never been invoked and isn’t expected to be invoked for decades at least but is there in case a genuine communist uprising were to take place somewhere in the country and RCG leadership decided that it needed members to move into the area to help. The RCG is intent on staying firmly on the right side of the law for the foreseeable future – supposedly until class consciousness is raised to such a level that the time for revolution arrives. Whether or not history will pan out the way they think it will, only time will tell.  

Perhaps most curious was the group’s confused stance on lockdowns. They are fiercely pro-lockdown and pro-mask, but also highly critical of the government’s approach for reasons that are quite vague. Why a communist organisation would want to place unprecedented power in the hands of a government – a Tory government no less – that it thinks operates as the right arm of global capital is beyond me. When I brought this up, a lone voice of dissent in my branch, I was told I had made a ‘valid point’ and that the group needed to discuss the matter further, but that was it. The only explanation I could arrive at was that unfortunately the RCG, and I think the Left generally, are deep in denial about being anti-establishment.

The RCG’s modus operandi is the weekly stall: three or four communists will take a table and a megaphone to a busy location and try to hand out leaflets and sell copies of the FRFI newspaper. The idea was that people whose values loosely align with those of the groups could be contacted and organised by way of these stalls. The law of large numbers means that these stalls are curiously successful – one two-hour stall at the weekend can sell a dozen newspapers and enlist a handful of people to be contacted by the group at a later date. The process of collecting people and funnelling them down the contact-member pipeline is a slow one with a low success rate, but they’re relentless.

Interestingly though, I believe their decades-old activist tradition is actually one of their biggest weaknesses. Ironically, so-called progressives are stuck in the past. The RCG has a very minimal online footprint – it uses its profiles on twitter and Instagram only to post dates for upcoming events. The RCG have so much faith in their traditional method of raising ‘class consciousness’ (translation: spreading communism) that they’re losing the internet arms race and thus their grip on young people – their traditional base. The fact that the group has a large proportion of older members might have something to do with it.

However, Leftists are good at street activism – they’ve been doing it for decades. Leftist activist groups have ingrained in their traditions social technology – sets of practices, behaviours and attitudes – that have developed over time and that their opponents would do well to familiarise themselves with, like looking at the homework of a friend (or in this case, an adversary).

The RCG believes that it is one of very few, maybe even the only, Leftist group in Britain today committed to maintaining a substantial street presence. One of the conditions for membership, after all, is promising to attend at least one street protest a week. The RCG no doubt take their activism seriously, with a comrade even describing the group to me as being made up of ‘professional revolutionaries’. They believe that they are growing and will continue to grow in strength, propelled by financial and then ecological crises. They are very excited for the collapse of the Labour party, which they believe is all-but imminent, because they think it will cause swathes of the Left to lose faith in a parliamentary means of achieving socialism and take to the streets, where the RCG will be waiting for them.

My time as a revolutionary communist has been challenging but what I’ve learned is no doubt valuable. I strongly encourage others to do as I have, if only just for a few weeks or so. Join your local leftist organisation – pick a sect, any sect! Expand your knowledge, see a different perspective and gain skills you might not gain anywhere else. Speak to people with a completely different viewpoint from yours and learn how they think, you’ll be a slightly better and more knowledgeable person for it.

Quote: Leftists are good at street activism. They have ingrained in their traditions social technology that have developed over time and that their opponents should familiarise themselves with.


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The UK’s Place in the World: Strategic Industries, China, and Sovereignty

This article was originally published on 17th November 2021.

The Brexit-leading Conservative government wants to back up the talk of the referendum campaign. Now that the UK has Brexited there’s a practical need to set a plan of action and follow it. A lot of intellectual work was taken care of by just following whatever the EU position was.

Global Britain, sovereignty, trade deals, etc., OK. What’s the plan? Some of that’s answered implicitly. Elizabeth Truss as Secretary of State for International Trade was busy doing trade deals. AUKUS speaks to diplomatic, defence, and geographical focus. COP26 – the UK is supposed to make its name on climate stuff. OK.

This is what the Prime Minister says the plan is. Some key points: greater engagement in the world, securing the UK’s status as a “Science and Tech Superpower by 2030,” and a “tilt to the Indo-Pacific.” This is still getting ahead of itself.

A recent announcement about an old deal, about an investigation into the Nvidia takeover of Arm (originally a British microchip design company, taken over by the Japanese SoftBank) is a good enough starting point for something to think about.

The Cameron and May governments were very permissive of a lot of foreign investments and takeovers e.g. Chinese nuclear power projects, Huawei and 5G, invitation into the Northern Powerhouse. A lot of people are still angry at the sale of state assets under Right to Buy to British people. Why does the sale of much, much larger British companies/assets to foreign interests provoke almost nothing? What about foreign ownership in the housing market, for that matter?

At least the Johnson government has revisited some of these blunders. It also hasn’t put a complete stop to a lot else which contradicts its strategic review. For example, the Chinese takeover of British Steel, the Chinese takeover of the UK’s largest microchip producer, and the Chinese takeover of a major UK graphene producer. Sort yourselves out!

Strategic Industries and China

Start with making a proper assessment of the UK’s assets. What are you working with?

The Johnson government is promising to do a lot of things differently to the Cameron and May governments. When William the Conqueror took over as CEO, he did an inventory check, right down to the kinds of cheese in England.

Napoleon was notoriously obsessed with information.

In the autumn of 1811, the peak of Napoleon’s empire (has France been as well-governed since?) the emperor visited 40 cities in 22 days. This is despite losing three and a half days of travel to gales and floods. He would prevent mayors from giving great speeches and instead ask them questions. Population, death, revenues, forestry, tolls, municipal rates, conscription, civil and criminal lawsuits. Even about how many sentences passed by mayors were annulled by the Court of Cassation, and whether mayors had found means to provide suitable lodgings for rectors.

Would Mayor Johnson have fared well under Napoleon’s questioning? Prime Minister Johnson? Sure, why not? The information Napoleon was looking for gave him clues about the state of the empire, its operational effectiveness, happiness of its citizens, its direction, its capabilities, and what he could draw on. What are the revealing questions you could ask today?

A country’s strategic industries are certainly different from the 1800s.

The pandemic alone should’ve taught the UK that the entire west relies heavily on China for production of a lot of basic medicines. That’s concerning. It certainly relies on China for a lot of manufacturing of basic but important medical equipment too. Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta virtual/augmented reality news is also something to think about.

How comfortable is the UK with the idea of China controlling a lot of technology manufacturing, and easy access to intellectual secrets/innovations?

China is very good at controlling actual reality let alone a virtual one. The China-Taiwan tensions keep brewing. China’s been threatening Taiwan that its military won’t stand a chance if it invades. China is threatening that any outside interference will mean paying a price. Meanwhile, the world relies on Taiwan for semiconductors which go in everything. Xi promises that China and Taiwan will be reunited.

How is Hong Kong doing?

Strategic industries are no longer just about simpler things like coal and steel production for tanks and munitions. They’re also about the materials and methods of fourth and fifth generation warfare, like rare earth metals and this sort of thing.

It seems the Johnson government is at least a little but wiser to China.It’s hard to believe how cosy Cameron was prepared to get with Xi Jinping. They wanted to make Macclesfield (of all places!) the end point of the Belt and Road Initiative.

Have a look at this selfie. Cameron, soy-faced, submissively leaning in. Sergio Aguero’s having a great time, that’s fine. Xi looks like he’s holding his tongue. It’s not a meeting of peers. One has real power and the other doesn’t. This is a picture of the Emperor of China wondering how much longer he has to humour the Gap Yah guy. Is Cameron oblivious? If he is, he’s like that guy who thought he made friends with a wild Alaskan grizzly and got eaten. Does he understand what kind of animal he’s dealing with? Of course, Xi is a silly willy nilly old bear.

If Cameron wasn’t oblivious, was he just resigned to the idea of securing British comfort as a supplicant to China?

When did the west start calling Xi “President” and stop calling him “Chairman”? “Zhuxi” means “Chairman”. Xi is still “General Secretary” of the Chinese Communist Party, a title which originates with Stalin’s own role as General Secretary. That title has its own interesting history. Does “President” hide his shame? Why is the UK still sucking up to a communist by using a less embarrassing and false translation of his title?

Anyway, never mind China, what about everyone else?

Sovereignty

The UK doesn’t need to pursue absolute autarky, but it will have to think about what its strategic industries are and how much control it wants over them for how much independence.

Alignment with the US-led order has been convenient for the UK’s comfort. Countries which don’t submit to the US (e.g., Russia, Iran, North Korea, Iraq, Syria, Venezuela), find themselves poorer and squeezed. They haven’t helped themselves either. The obvious exception is China. Is it too big? Did Nixon miscalculate? The US was supposed to be a military power, China an economic one. That unspoken deal doesn’t seem to be holding. That calculation is probably changing too for everyone else as the US becomes relatively weaker and China relatively stronger.

For now, easy prosperity clearly hasn’t been everything to every country. Not everyone follows the first rule of the Satanic bible. All hail GDP, the one true measure of successful government! Sovereignty means answering to nobody else, and that’s valuable too. It has also meant that these countries develop and control a lot of their own technology. Russia and China in particular. Though it’s also a US protectorate, Israel is notable too for its self-reliance and the level of independence that affords it, regionally, at least.

Can the UK become a “Science and Tech Superpower” by 2030? 

For everything it would need to achieve that, how much does it need to learn? How much of the basics does it need to relearn? Outsourced manufacturing and international, mobile academia are not a stable starting point. Knowledge fades with the people who have it, who today can move and work from anywhere.

What ties these people to the UK? What stops them from working for someone else?

The UK’s place in the world will be affected by how much it can bring under its own control.

What’s the plan?

Does anyone have any confidence that there’s any one person in the government who properly understands 1) the UK’s own state of affairs, 2) how that sits internationally, 3) what the reasonable goals are, 4) how to work toward them, and 5) has the power to make it happen?

Until the UK has that it is getting ahead of itself in any discussion about what its place in the world should be.


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With Friends Like These…

“We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow.”

Lord Palmerston’s famous adage is typically divorced from its context, especially when used in discussions regarding Britain’s foreign policy, or lack thereof. Delivered as part of a speech in the House of Commons in 1848, the then Foreign Secretary was responding to an argument put forward by one of his most consistent and outspoken opponents, Thomas Anstey, Irish Confederate MP for Youghal.

Over a decade after Poland’s incorporation into the Russian Empire, Anstey maintained intervention in support of the rebels, seeking to establish an independent Polish state, was both a feasible operation and a moral imperative which the government of the day – especially Palmerston, who was still foreign secretary during this period – absconded in favour of non-interference, despite previous suggestions to the contrary. According to Anstey, this amounted to, among other things, a betrayal of Poland and, by extension, their sympathetic ideals.

Accounting for the particular circumstances in which Palmerston was operating, primarily seeking a basic balance of power across the continent, maintaining a preference for less-absolutist models of government without a frothing desire to see them imposed at the drop of a hat, the essence of his shrewd foreign policy stems from the realisation there is no equivalence between interpersonal and international relations, due to the second-order consequences which come with maintaining such agreements:

“…When we are asked why the British Government have not enforced treaty rights in every case, my answer is, that the only method of enforcing them would have been by methods of hostility; and that I do not think those questions were questions of sufficient magnitude in their bearing on the interests of England, to justify any Government in calling on the people of this country to encounter the burdens and hazards of war for the purpose of maintaining those opinions.”

“It does not follow, when a Minister announces in Parliament an intention to perform a public act, that it is to be considered like a promise made to an individual, or by one private man to another, and that it is to be made a reproach to him if the intention be not carried out.”

Indeed, the maintenance of certain opinions under specific circumstances simply isn’t worth it. The opinions we value, whether written in parchment or spoken over the airwaves, and what we are prepared to do to maintain them, form the essence of our political loyalty. Unfortunately for many in Britain’s political class, even its nominally right-wing constituents, their political loyalty seems to lie with Israel. Berating any criticism or lack of enthusiasm as an act of betrayal, the British people are expected to view their interests as secondary to the interests of the Israeli government, all else being unthinkable.

However, much to their aggravation, Britain’s cooling support for Israel has only accelerated these past few days after a convoy of three vehicles, each displaying the World Central Kitchen (WCK) logo, was attacked whilst returning from a humanitarian mission to Gaza through a deconflicted zone; a route agreed with the knowledge and consent of the Israel Defence Forces (IDF). The affected British nationals were working as private military contractors tasked with protecting the convoy and providing medical support. By all estimations, not exactly frothing Hamas-adjacent anti-semites motivated by Islamism or Palestinian nationalism. Worse still, the convoy contacted the IDF after the first vehicle was hit, but to no self-preserving avail.

Of course, this isn’t the first time Israelis has taken liberty with the lives of British nationals, although it’s perhaps the first instance in which the disregard of the Israeli government and its supporters has been made so blatant. The IDF’s chief of staff released a less-than-sincere-sounding apology, claiming the attack was an accident, which chef José Andrés, WCK’s director and co-founder, evidently didn’t find convincing, noting the attack took place over considerable distance, never mind in an area tightly controlled by the IDF.

Benjamin Netanyahu responded in a similar vein, stating occasional civilian casualties were part-and-parcel of war and the overarching mission to keep Israel safe. Whilst not technically untrue, it’s also part-and-parcel – even if not an iron law of reality – for states to alter their relations in accordance with their interests, often in unexpected ways; those who are allies one day are rivals the next. As such, I’m sure Netanyahu would be very understanding if Britain ceased all arms exports to Israel, especially if we had a few security concerns, so to speak.

The Israeli government’s sense of entitlement when it comes to Western support is hard to ignore. David Mencer, Israeli government spokesman and former director of Labour Friends of Israel, affectively stated Britain was obliged to continue supporting Israel as doing otherwise would constitute a betrayal of liberal democratic values. In Mencer’s own words: “You’ve got to take our side.”

Indeed, Britain had great sympathy for the Israelis following the attack on October 7th and a military response from Israel was thought to be expected and justified. It is essentially different to claim Britain has a moral and political responsibility to secure the existence of the Israeli state from its enemies, whatever that entails. In any case, this whole debacle suggests two things about Israel, both of which should inform the UK’s future relationship. Either Israel is too incompetent to be considered a reliable ally or too malicious to be considered an ally at all.

However, despite growing suspicion, mainstream criticism of the Israeli government and its agencies has yet to attach itself to the national interest or any loosely-related concept. Sir Alan Duncan’s comments on “pro-Israel extremism” at the highest echelons of government, citing the conduct of various ministers and politicians, resulted in accusations of anti-semitism and a near-immediate disciplinary inquiry from the Conservative Party. At first glance, this looks like one of several increasingly confident pockets of dissent at the heart of the establishment. In reality, it’s the more puritanical believers in the liberal rules-based international order pointing out the internal contradictions of the status quo.

The likes of Lord Dave and Sir Alan aren’t posturing against Israel out of ‘realpolitik’; they aren’t aligning against the Israeli government for nationalist reasons, but for internationalist ones. In their mind, Britain should distance itself from Israel for the sake of conforming to international law to a greater extent than it already does; it has very little to do with a state being so entwined with a foreign government that it can barely condemn attacks on its own citizens, undermining the most basic interest of any modern state: the protection of its people.

At bottom-level, their understanding is an extension of their bizarre idea of domestic affairs. Parliament amending and breaking the law are one in the same; as an entity, law is stagnant and cannot be ‘constitutionally’ changed, at least not to any political degree. Likewise, the breaking of treaties, for whatever reason, is a violation of international law and therefore necessarily bad. Alas, just as men must tear muscle to build more to gain bodily strength, states must tear laws and treaties to create new ones to gain political strength, at home and abroad.

This line of thought is straightforward and popular enough. In fact, it may explain some of the strongest support for Israel among certain sections of the public; older, Conservative and Reform-voting types with the Union Jack and the Star of David in their Twitter bio.

Accounting for the obvious fact many use support for Israel as proxy for domestic concerns pertaining to the rapid growth of Britain’s Muslim population, doubling as an implicit anti-racist credential by aligning with a historically-persecuted minority group, I suspect a considerable amount of Israelophilia among Britain’s old can be attributed to Mossad’s response to the 1972 Munich Massacre; a 20-year global hunt for Black September soberly titled Operation Wrath of God. Their first impression of Israel, as portrayed by a sensationalist mass-media machine at the height of an international event, is that of a rabidly nationalist state which spares no expense when it comes to pursuing its goal and eradicating its enemies.

The fact Israel didn’t catch the main culprit of the massacre is of secondary importance, what matters is the will and perception of the Israelis was evidently more attractive than whatever the British state was doing. At this time, Britain was enduring some of the worst years of its post-war history, encumbered with economic stagnation, social unrest, and an impotent political class with no perceivable willpower or solution. Sound familiar? As many will recall, similar flickers of admiration were visible following the early response of Israel to the October 7th attack, reigniting a love for a certain determination which our own foreign policy lacks.

Of course, this only accounts for the inclinations of a broadly defined, misguided but well-intentioned demographic of everymen. The political fetishism of Israel among Britain’s centre-right commentariat and policymakers (literal fetishism in some cases) defies any comparable justification. Outside of building the largest possible electoral coalition against Islamism, it seems to be a bizarre fixation.

In short, condemning the actions of Israel committed against our country may feel like a condemnation of the type of politics many of us desire, but it isn’t. As a matter of fact, the opposite is true: it is one of many steps required towards the realisation of a sovereign, self-interested foreign policy.

Palmerston was right, there is no fundamental equivalence between interpersonal and international relations, but there is one similarity worth remembering: trust is the basis of all relations. We trust based on our perceptions of others, our experiences with them and others like them; we make informed guesses, leaps in the dark, as to whether or not we should make ourselves open and vulnerable for the purposes of co-operation and friendship. If our knowledge of another changes, it impacts our ability to trust them. Sometimes this strengthens trust, sometimes it weakens it, and if trust is weakened to such an extent, whether chipped away by routine transgressions or destroyed outright by a single, deeply callous act, one is forced to reconsider their relations.

This is true of both people and states, and following the most severe form of disregard from our so-called ally, after all we felt and done for them, without expectation of reimbursement or lavish praise, it is time we reconsider our relationship with Israel; not towards Palestine, but to our own, independent national interest. They haven’t allowed our co-operation and friendship to disrupt the pursuit of their perpetual interests, it’s about time we do the same.


Photo Credit.

Far-liberal Extremists and The Radicalisation of The Sensible Class

I tend to subscribe to the view that if you resort to personal insults then you have lost the argument, but every rule has its exceptions. When U.S. Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene recently told Emily Maitlis to “fuck off”, I couldn’t help but feel some sympathy.

Maitlis, who spent many years at the BBC feigning traditional broadcast impartiality, has had no trouble morphing into her new role as a far-liberal talisman at The News Agents podcast (which has itself become something of a cult among the old gatekeepers of British media).

If I was being uncharitable, I would say that following the viral clip of Ms. Greene telling David Cameron to “kiss my ass” (after a Sky News reporter relayed the Foreign Secretary’s comparison of U.S. lawmakers to Hitler appeasers), Maitlis set out to get her own viral clip.

This wouldn’t be the first example of lazy journalism by The News Agents. The other week, they revealed an exclusive investigation into the GB News investor Sir Paul Marshall. The hard-working investigative journalists presumably worked day-in, day-out to present the public with these devastating findings. Sir Paul has a Twitter account and, as explained by arch-sensible Lewis Goodall amid a backdrop of otherworldly electronic music, has liked some tweets concerning mass migration to Europe. Shocking stuff, I know, but it gets worse.

Goodall presents some examples which he characterises as “quite extreme, especially on Isslaam, immigration and integration”. They include criticism of the Islamic call to prayer being recited inside a Parisian church and a clip of the Prime Minister of Hungary saying his country cannot be blackmailed into “putting children in the hands of LGBTQ activists”. The rest of the ‘investigation’ then finds other ‘extreme’ tweets, posted by some of the accounts which Marshall had ‘interacted’ with. It appears he is guilty of thought crime by association.

Against better judgement, I replied to the bombshell report saying I liked Mr Marshall more now. I did not expect this to provoke Mr. Goodall into asking me if I “approve of the political content of these tweets” and tagging my employer to ask if they were “comfortable with that”.

Maybe I’m a snowflake, but in my mind, that’s not intellectual sparring between journalists, but a measly attempt to instigate my firing from the company for which I work, also known as cancelling. I tried to respond, as Gavin McInnes often describes, by “talking to liberals in their own stupid language”, and stated I was the grandchild of Muslim immigrants (therefore, not ‘Islamophobic’) but I still thought we should be able to discuss our rapid demographic transformation. I was told that ‘no one is stopping’ me from discussing it and asked again to say whether I ‘agree’ with the content of the liked tweets.

As a reasonable person, I said I agree with some and disagree with others, and asked why he was tagging my employer into this conversation. Goodall then revealed his true colours, saying that as I agree with the migration-sceptic sentiments of some tweets liked by Paul Marshall, I should not “be working as a journalist for a reputable news organisation”, adding that the fact I “feel able to come and say that shows how normalised extremism has become”.

You see, we are allowed to say what we like and we have a free media, but if you dare agree with the sentiment of some people’s tweets that others do not agree with, then a public figure with considerable clout will alert your employer and call for your sacking as they accuse you of having extremist views. This censorious and frankly Soviet attitude of our sensible, friendly News Agent is sadly pervasive in our media and even has a strong grip over those working at organisations that explicitly position themselves as working to break this mould.

Many definitions of extremist are tautological, like the Oxford entry “a person who holds extreme views, especially one who resorts to or advocates extreme action.” Collins has gone with “a person who goes to extremes in political matters, a supporter of extreme doctrines.” Merriam-Webster’s entry for extremism is “the quality or state of being extreme, advocacy of extreme measures of views.” Great stuff, but the most interesting definition is given by Cambridge: “someone who has beliefs that most people think are unreasonable and unacceptable.” This is at least definitive. I don’t doubt this is the definition far-liberals subscribe to (consciously or not) but a problem lies within those key words: most people.

Following up their exclusive investigation into Paul Marshall’s Twitter likes, The News Agents have interviewed the other media mogul vying for The Telegraph, Jeff Zucker, who is leading the bid funded mostly by a high-ranking UAE royal and politician. Zucker declared to Jon Sopel, another sensible BBC-man, that The News Agents had “exposed finally that Paul Marshall is unfit to own a newspaper… that was clear from what your reporting last week exposed. We are clearly the best option for The Telegraph and The Spectator”.

Zucker’s decade-long stint as President of CNN saw that channel descend from a liberal-leaning and generally respected outlet to a collapsing parody of itself, irreparably damaged by thousands of hours of hysteria over the now disproven ‘Russia-gate’ allegations.

His reign also saw the network adopt a number of radical agendas including Covid-authoritarianism, accelerating uncontrolled immigration and carbon fanaticism. I’m not an expert on American social attitudes, but I’d expect ‘most people’ to find these beliefs ‘unreasonable and unacceptable’.

Most people wouldn’t agree with many Emirati customs either. Goodall’s view that engaging with critical views of mass migration to Europe from radically different cultures is racist extremism, would not be deemed reasonable by most people. The insistence of Maitlis that the many millions who have thrown their lot in with Trump are “conspiracy theorists” rather than concerned ordinary voters, would not be acceptable to most people.

I’m not trying to say ‘the other side are the real extremists’ (even though it’s an arguable case with this definition). I don’t find this word meaningful or useful – we already have words for those who advocate violence, and demonising people for not sharing an (alleged) majority view is not only unreasonable and unacceptable but the basis of all totalitarian societies.

In any case, watching The News Agents’ current tour of America is fascinating stuff. There’s a palpable sense they view themselves as political versions of Louis Theroux visiting rural Klan members or an Amish village. As a viewer though, the glaring perception gap between interviewers and interviewees cannot be missed. When Maitlis speaks to Congressman Byron Donalds, a black Trump-supporting Floridian, she asks him in incredulous tones whether he finds it “deeply offensive” when he hears Orange Man being racist and bad. Her questioning also includes some interesting remarks: “Donald Trump is trying to target the young black African-American: the masculinity vote”, asserts Maitlis. Her racial characterisations of the visibly bemused Congressman Donalds continue: “[Trump’s] lost a lot of women over the whole issue of abortion, so he’s going after young black men because they like his machismo”. The lack of self-awareness is truly astounding.

What happened to these people? As is often the case, they suffer from many of the afflictions that they ascribe to others. When the gammon awakening first took root at the advent of Brexit and Trump, we often heard about ‘the left-behind’, those people who, unable to deal with the changing world around them, had retreated to echo-chambers from which they sniped and lashed out. Look how the tables have turned!

In 2024, the far-liberals don’t even bother to hide their disdain for the masses with faux-empathy and anthropological labels. They don’t even engage with those they view as ideologically inferior anymore – they are simply to be mocked and then ignored. This is seen in the increasingly preferred format of propaganda, where mid-wit sensibles like James O’Brien angrily shout at and put down their listeners for being thick plebs.

What we are seeing is a radicalisation of those who view themselves as the sensible people in society. They are the dinner-party class and they have reacted to the deplorables breaking into the mainstream and creating thriving new media spaces by embracing their dismissive labels with a new vigour. While in the near-past there was some desire not to alienate the hoi polloi too much by calling them all whatever-ist or something-phobic, now the far-liberals don’t even try to restrain the scope of what they consider to be radical and extremist (as the inclusion of The Conservative Party, GB News, Reform UK, The Telegraph and even this esteemed publication in Hope Not Hate’s recent ‘State of Hate’ report shows).

As such, ‘conspiracy theorists’ and ‘extremists’ (and privately, ‘nutters’ and ‘cranks’) have become magic words for far-liberals to signal their virtue to each other, and to shut down anyone else who they deem politically incorrect. ‘The public are idiots’ and ‘voters are incredibly stupid’ are sentiments heard all too regularly from journalists off-camera. This fully closed mind has given up on intellectual curiosity and severed its connection with facts.

The conspiracies that they deride are often based on genuine intersections of vested interests and power structures, yet they have started to engage in their own conspiracy theories, alleging with little evidence that Boris Johnson is a FSB spy, that Russian interference decided Brexit and that dark shadowy forces are behind groups against lockdown and the endless restrictions on motoring. In their world, conspiracies are not engaged in by the elites against the people, but by the people against the elites – how about that!

These arguments can easily evolve into semantics so allow me to bring us back down to earth for a second – let’s picture in our head a hypothetical ‘normal, ordinary person’, and put to them a few differing positions and imagine what they’d say is the ‘extreme’ position:

  1. Increasing our population by many millions with spiralling numbers coming from the poorest and most backward parts of the world VS taking in a very small and manageable number who have genuine ties and come from compatible countries.
  2. Allowing endless thousands of unknown fighting-age illegal migrants from warzones to be escorted on dinghies into our country and to be put up indefinitely in hotels at the taxpayers’ expense VS using our armed forces to protect our borders from illegals.
  3. Encouraging and subsidising children to mutilate their genitals and take copious amounts of hormones and hard chemicals as part of a legally recognised ‘identity’ and proposing outlawing therapists from talking children out of that VS recognising transgenderism for what it is: a mental illness, often mixed up with autogynephilia and fetishes, made into an identity and promoted by the state.
  4. Sending billions of our taxes to military contractors via corrupt Ukrainian politicians so that a brutal war of attrition, that could have been ended a month after it started, continues to rage on even at the risk of nuclear armageddon VS telling Kiev that it has to become an explicitly neutral state and normalise relations with Russia so Europe can develop a new and lasting security architecture.
  5. Systematically discriminating against white people on a political, corporate and cultural level to rectify the microscopic racism that other people face while ignoring heinous crimes like rape-gangs and stabbing epidemics in order to not be racist VS judging people by the content of their character and not by the colour of their skin.

I’ll let you decide which set of views you think Joe Bloggs would find most extreme, but to my mind, there’s no question that the positions of the far-liberals represent the real extremism plaguing our country. They have no sense of proportion or measurement. Despite the negative effects of their Swiss-cheese worldview being all around, ideological sunglasses convince them that they are not only correct but are morally superior. This is insane.

Batya Ungar-Sargon, an American left-wing journalist and big news star has been disowned by elite Democrats for pointing out that the party has lost the working class to the MAGA movement. She recently gave an interesting analysis on Steve Bannon’s War Room podcast:

“Working class Americans, whether they vote for Democrats or Republicans, whether they are ‘liberal’ or ‘conservative’, they all have the same views. Neither party is really speaking to them, they all agree by and large about the most important issues – polarisation is a totally elite phenomenon.”

We see this here in Britain too. The major parties attack each other in the media while rabble-rousing in Parliament over their cosmetic differences but they agree with each other on all the major issues of the day, and the public by-and-large disagrees with them.

There is nothing sensible or tempered about the policies enacted, both at home and abroad, over the past few decades. There is nothing democratic about the messages sent by voters being disregarded and ignored time and time again. When they try to gaslight you into thinking they are on your side, like Sunak’s recently discovered concern about Islamist extremism, do not forget that it is he who is presiding over the current record levels of both legal and illegal migration, and his party that has enforced failing multiculturalism and indirectly supported radical Islamic terror in the Middle East. All the toys will come out of the box for our Punch and Judy elections, but be in no doubt: all the far-liberal elites are equally responsible for our woes and operate as a uniparty (which neither you nor I am in).

Commentator and author Mark Dice advocates using liberal jargon in reverse, coining phrases like ‘anti-whiteism’ and ‘black fragility’. I think we need to start giving back what we get and incessantly label these dogmatists as far-liberal extremists. Instead of being on the back foot, constantly defending ourselves against smears and allegations, it’s high time to tell these lunatics that we, ordinary normal people, are the real sensibles of this country and that those destroying society with dangerous ideologies are those better described as extremist.

Yet if they still laugh gormlessly in your face, you could always just tell them to “fuck off”.


Photo Credit.

Watch Out for The New Labour Playbook

Yes, Labour is still the party of identity fetishists, true-believer yet Dad’s Army-esque revolutionaries, end of times Gaia environmentalists, and public transport strike supporters, groomers, and much else, but so was New Labour. They just knew how to keep the lunacy contained, repackaged, and were desperate enough to try Blair.

Fortunately, Blair did a lot of damage to his own side, not just the country. Blair’s incrementalism didn’t manifest their objectives  quickly enough. They were willing to grumble and tolerate it until the Iraq War. From that point on, it became impossible to contain the lunacy; spiralling down through more and more left-wing figures, from Brown to Miliband and then to Corbyn. Consequently, they have tuckered themselves out.

The loss of monolithic public news and broadcasting will also make it much harder, New Labour’s ilk will try to come back. You can still see them. They haven’t gone anyway. They won’t just come from the party, they’ll come from all the people and organisations on their side. Blair himself is still knocking around. The advice comes regularly to ditch the overt progressive evangelism e.g. November last year, May this year.

There’s been a slow trickle of pieces which say things like “Labour need a big personality to take on the Tories”. They’re trying their best to manufacture this. Have you seen the attempts to make Wes Streeting out as if he’s interesting and not just another factory pipeline student union politician, in career background and mindset? Good grief. Progressives used to rob banks, fight guerrilla wars, and write their defiance in their own blood. Sure, threats should be taken seriously, and it’s unpleasant, but Wes, what are you doing sending limp tweets to old ladies?

Anyway, it’s good news! As it stands, the two go-getting types of the progressives are (at least, temporarily) inhibited: the energised, violent, “true believers”, are somewhat withered, and the “professional” sorts have a monumental amount of work to do. They are rebuilding, though, so keep an eye out.

If they can become credible on the following, they’ll be doing well: 1) Tough on Crime, 2) Pro Business, 3) Strong on Foreign Policy, 4) Strong on Defence, and 5) Solid on Our Public Services. It’s going to be difficult. A lot of Labour supporters don’t want to engage on those policy areas at all in the first place, let alone have workable answers to them.

The thing to watch out for is Blair’s two main tricks, which are closely related 1) talking out of both sides of their mouths and 2) presenting progressive solutions in their opponents’ terms.

Regarding the first trick, let’s use immigration as an example: one of the big progressive no-nos, a big right-wing concern, but which they really need to answer.

Just look at the headlines, which tell their own story. Blair admits he didn’t realise how many migrants would come to the UK after EU expansion. OK, but then he also says that immigration is good for the UK economy. Finally, he said that if you want to stay in the EU you have to curb immigration.

None of this is about lowering immigration based on principle or reflects right-wing concerns, or even the general popular reasons why people want it lowered. It’s about tactical necessity, in service of bigger picture goals – staying in the EU and reinforcing hegemony at home. Blair doesn’t admit he was wrong or that mass immigration has been damaging – he is talking out of both sides of his mouth! This helps him to try to flank his political opponents with positions which superficially appear to speak to right-wing concerns.

The reason he does this is very simple and not at all an original observation. In democratic politics it’s (sometimes) a viable strategy to go for (what you think is) the “centre ground”. Labour leaders who won – Ramsay MacDonald, Clement Atlee, Harold Wilson, and Tony Blair, all toned down the crazy in pursuit of the “sensible” and “moderate” centre ground.

Not that it seems to matter – progressives run all the main institutions and the nominal Conservative Party acquiesces and even adopts their agenda and aesthetic – but the key realisation of Blairism is that you must have power to do anything. Public support certainly helps reinforce the perception of complete hegemonic power and the justification for it.

Until Labour gets this by winning an election, the Conservative Party might just safely trundle along. God have mercy on you, Conservative Party. Govern! Or if you must insist on such dull imbecility, get out of the way. Go, all of you, retire to the House of Lords or wherever else you think gives you a veil of dignity, and whatever place can use the content, unaware, and immobile.

Anyway, if Labour doesn’t learn the lessons of Blairism, it risks being confined to 1) old style tax and spend and state power economics, 2) foreign policy which is anti-UK in one way or another, 3) marginal identity fetishism, and 4) screeching denunciation of anyone that dissents. This is because 1) misreads the lessons of the financial crisis, 2) misreads the proper responses to 9/11 and the Iraq War, 3) sees the progressives stuck in the tar-baby of the Culture War (which I am certain it will lose), and 4) just shows them to be unstable, and therefore as unfit to rule.

All of this would be a bit clapped out, but it would be safe and familiar for them, and do they even have the vision to see beyond? Reality and the general zeitgeist have moved on. Conservatives would do well to keep them stuck here.

There are ways out, and Labour seems to be doing a few of these things, though it’s hard to know if they really get it, half get it at someone else’s instruction, or if it’s accidental or coincidental. It’s also unclear how much any of the following will help them.

First, they seem to be hinting at a new progressive coalition i.e. Lib Dems, Greens, etc. tactical voting, selective standing of candidates, to avoid splitting the progressive vote. Will this work? Many use these parties as protest votes and you’d be surprised how many Conservative voters, for example, vote Green or Lib Dem at different elections, for all sorts of reasons, but who would never do it at a general election.

Second, watch out for Labour updating its policy agenda. Safe on this one so far. If they’re sensible it would stop being economically illiterate and suspicious of technology. It would also mean the progressives fully realising that corporations can be used and are willing to side with them if the conditions are right, no matter how temporary. The capitalists really will sell you the rope with which they’ll be hanged. It’s quite something!

Third, watch out for Labour re-discovering the mentality of government. The right needs to do this too, it must be said. The task is to amass power and to assume that (of course) it should be you governing. To do this the left will need some more self-discipline and less self-indulgence. The Labour Party’s sins are pride (how fitting!), envy, wrath, and gluttony. The Conservative Party’s sins are pride and sloth. This tactical swallowing of (some of) their pride doesn’t burden them to pursue policies people actually want. They’ll continue to insist that what voters want aligns with what the Labour Party wants, albeit overlaid with a veneer of sincerity and concern made possible with a more “moderate” leadership. New Labour was subtler still.

New Labour worked because people knew that Blair was prepared to discipline and channel the more insane parts of the Labour Party. Superficially, denial and discipline look very similar. It gave Labour the appearance of normality, reassured enough extra voters, and afforded them the cover of public acceptance to proceed with full-on nation-mutilating progressivism.

Watch out for the New Labour playbook. It will start with Labour controlling its incontinence. It’d be great if the Conservative Party got ahead of the problem by governing. Keep them busy responding to you, keep them too busy to get out of where they’re stuck.


Photo Credit.

Kino

Is it Possible to Live Without a Computer of Any Kind?

This article was originally published on 19th May 2021.

I am absolutely sick to death of computers. The blue light of a screen wakes me up in the morning, I stare at another computer on my desk for hours every day, I keep one in my pocket all the time and that familiar too-bright glow is the last thing I see before I close my eyes at night. Lockdown undoubtedly made the problem much, much worse. Last year, a nasty thought occurred to me: it might be the case that the majority of my memories for several months were synthetic. Most of the sights and sounds I’d experienced for a long time had been simulated – audio resonating out of a tinny phone speaker or video beamed into my eyes by a screen. Obviously I knew that my conscious brain could tell the difference between media and real life, but I began to wonder whether I could be so sure about my subconscious. In short, I began to suspect that I was going insane.

So, I asked myself if it was possible to live in the modern world without a computer of any kind – no smartphone, no laptop, and no TV (which I’m sure has a computer in it somewhere). Of course, it’s possible to survive without a computer, provided that you have an income independent of one, but that wasn’t really the question. The question was whether it’s possible to live a full life in a developed country without one.

Right away, upon getting rid of my computers, my social life ground to a halt. Unable to go to the pub or a club, my phone allowed me to feel like I was still at least on the periphery of my friends lives while they were all miles away. This was hellish, but I realised that it was the real state of my life – my phone acted as a pacifier and my friendships were holograms. No longer built on the foundation of experiences shared on a regular basis, social media was a way for me to freeze-dry my friendships – preserve them so that they could be revived at a later date. With lockdown over though, this becomes less necessary. They can be reheated and my social life can be taken off digital life support. I would lose contact with some people but, as I said, these would only be those friendships kept perpetually in suspended animation.

These days large parts of education, too, take place online. It’s not uncommon now in universities, colleges and secondary schools for work and timetables to be found online or for information to be sent to pupils via internal email networks. Remote education during lockdown was no doubt made easier by the considerable infrastructure already in place. 

Then there’s the question of music. No computers would mean a life lived in serene quiet; travelling and working without background sound to hum or tap one’s foot to. An inconvenience, maybe, but perhaps not altogether a negative one. Sir Roger Scruton spoke about the intrusion of mass-produced music into everyday life. Computer-produced tunes are played at a low level in shopping centres and restaurants, replacing the ambient hum and chatter of human life with banal pop music. Scruton believed that the proper role of music was to exalt life – to enhance and make clear our most heartfelt emotions. Music today, though, is designed to distract from the dullness of everyday life or paper over awkward silences at social events. He went so far as to say that pop consumption had an effect on the musical ear comparable to that of pornography on sex.

The largest barrier, however, is the use of the internet for work. Many companies use online services to organise things like shift rotas, pay and holidays and the entire professional world made the switch to email decades ago. How feasible is it to opt out of this? Short of becoming extremely skilled at something for which there is both very little supply and very high demand, and then working for a band of eccentrics willing to accommodate my niche lifestyle, I think it would be more or less impossible. Losing the computer would mean kissing the possibility of a career goodbye. 

Lockdown has also sped up the erosion of physical infrastructure required to live life offline as well as accelerated our transformation into a ‘cashless society’. On average, 50 bank branches have closed every month since January 2015, with over 1000 branch closures across the country in the last year alone. It also seems to have wiped away the last remaining businesses that didn’t accept card payments. The high street, already kicking against the current for years, is presently being kept alive by Rishi Sunak’s magic money tree while Amazon records its best quarter for profits ever. It’s no mystery to anyone which way history will go. 

I’m lucky that my parents were always instinctively suspicious of ‘screens’. I didn’t get a smartphone until a good way into secondary school and I got my first – and only – games console at the age of 16. I keenly remember getting a laptop for my birthday. I think my parents gave it to me in the hopes that I would become some kind of computing or coding genius – instead, I just played a lot of Sid Meiers Civilisation III. My dad would remind me that nothing on my computer was real, but that didn’t stop me getting addicted to games. If it wasn’t for my parents’ strong interventions I would likely have developed a serious problem – sucked into the matrix and doomed to spend my youth in my bedroom with the blinds down.

All year this year I have wrestled with my media addiction but been unable to throw it off. I told my friends that I was taking a break from social media, I deactivated my Twitter account, I physically hid my phone from myself under my bed, and yet here I am, writing this on my laptop for an online publication. When I got rid of my phone I turned to my computer to fill the time. When I realised that the computer was no better I tore myself from it too… and spent more time watching TV. I tried reading – and made some progress – but the allure of instant reward always pulled me back.

I’m not a completely helpless creature, though. On several occasions I cast my digital shackles into the pit, only to find that I needed internet access for business that was more important than my luddite hissy-fit. Once I opened the computer up for business, it was only a matter of time before I would be guiltily watching Netflix and checking my phone again. It’s too easy – I know all the shortcuts. I can be on my favourite time-absorbing website at any time in three or four keystrokes. Besides, getting rid of my devices meant losing contact with my friends (with whom contact was thin on the ground already). Unplugging meant really facing the horrific isolation of lockdown without dummy entertainment devices to distract me. I lasted a month, once. So determined was I to live in the 17th century that I went a good few weeks navigating my house and reading late at night by candlelight rather than turning on those hated LEDs.

And yet, the digital world is tightening around us all the time. Year on year, relics of our past are replaced with internet-enabled gadgets connected to a worldwide spider web of content that has us wrapped up like flies. Whenever I’ve mentioned this I’ve been met with derision and scorn and told to live my life in the woods. I don’t want to live alone in the woods – I want to live a happy and full life; the kind of life that everyone lived just fine until about the ’90s. I’m sick of the whirr and whine of my laptop, of my nerves being raw from overuse, of always keeping one ear open for a ‘ping ’or a ‘pop’ from my phone, and of the days lost mindlessly flicking from one app to the other. Computers have drastically changed the rhythm of life itself. Things used to take certain amounts of time and so they used to take place at certain hours of the day. They were impacted by things like distance and the weather. Now, so much can occur instantaneously irrespective of time or distance and independent from the physical world entirely. Put simply, less and less of life today takes place in real life. 

The world of computers is all I’ve ever known and yet I find myself desperately clawing at the walls for a way out. It’s crazy to think that something so complex and expensive – a marvel of human engineering – can become so necessary in just a few decades. If I can’t get rid of my computers I’ll have to learn to diminish their roles in my life as best I can. This is easier said than done, though; as the digital revolution marches on and more and more of life is moved online, the digital demons I am struggling to keep at arm’s length grow bigger and hungrier.

I’m under no illusions that it’s possible to turn back the tide. Unfortunately the digital revolution, like the industrial and agricultural revolutions before it, will trade individual quality of life for collective power. As agricultural societies swallowed up hunter gatherers one by one before themselves being crushed by industrial societies, so those who would cling to an analogue way of life will find themselves overmatched, outcompeted and overwhelmed. Regardless, I will continue with my desperate, rearguard fight against history the same way the English romantics struggled against industrialisation. Hopeless my cause is, yes, but it’s beautiful all the same.


Photo Credit.

What I’ve Learnt as a Revolutionary Communist

This article was originally published in November 2021.

I have a confession to make. 

A few months ago I was made an official member of the Revolutionary Communist Group after being involved as a participating supporter for about a month and a half. The RCG are, in their own words, Marxist-Leninist, pro-Cuba, pro-Palestine, internationalist, anti-imperialist, anti-racist and anti-capitalist. They believe that capitalism is causing climate change, which they refer to as the ‘climate crisis’, and that socialism/communism is the only way to avert catastrophe.

They believe that the twin forces of imperialism and capitalism work today, and have been working for hundreds of years, to enrich the Western capitalist class by exploiting the labour of the proletariat and plundering the resources of the ‘Global South’. They publish a bi-monthly newspaper entitled ‘Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!’ which acts as an ideological core around which centre most of the groups discussions.

After two months of twice-weekly zoom calls, leafleting in front of busy train stations and protesting in front of embassies, I was finally invited to become an official member. I rendezvous-ed with two comrades before being taken to a door which was hidden down a dark alleyway and protected by a large iron gate – certainly a fitting location for a revolutionary HQ. Inside was an office and a small library stocked with all manners of communist, socialist and anti-imperialist literature including everything from Chavs by Owen Jones to The Labour Party – A Party Fit For Imperialism by Robert Clough, the group’s leader. 

I was presented with a copy of their constitution, a document about security and a third document about sexual harassment (the RCG has had issues with members’ behaviour in the past). It was here, discussing these documents for almost three hours, that I learnt most of what I know now about the RCG as an organisation and the ecosystem it inhabits. 

The RCG is about 150-200 members strong with branches across the country – three in London, one in Liverpool, Manchester, Norwich, Glasgow and Edinburgh and possibly more. In terms of organisation and decision-making they use what they call ‘democratic centralism’ – a sprawling mess of committees made up of delegates that appoint other committees that all meet anywhere between once every two weeks and once every two years. They’re also remarkably well funded, despite the fact that their newspaper sells for just 50p. They employ staff full time and rent ‘offices’ up and down the country. They draw income from fundraising events, members dues, newspaper and book sales and donations (both large and small).

Officially, the RCG is against the sectarianism that famously ails the Left. However, one zoom call I was in was dedicated to lambasting the Socialist Workers Party who, I soon learnt, were dirty, menshevik, reactionary Trots. We referred to them as part of the ‘opportunist Left’ who routinely side with the imperialists. 

The RCG doesn’t generally maintain good relations with many other major leftist groups. Central to RCG politics is the idea of a ‘labour [small L] aristocracy’ – a core of the working class who have managed to improve their material conditions just slightly and so work against the interests of the wider working class, suppressing real revolutionary activity in order to maintain their cushy positions. The RCG sees the Trade Union movement as the bastion of the labour aristocracy. They see the Labour party also as their greatest enemy – ‘the single greatest barrier to socialism in Britain’.

The RCG takes issue with the SWP specifically over their attitude to Cuba. They believe that most Trotskyists are too critical of socialist revolutions that have occurred in the past and so are not real communists – after all, no revolution will be perfect. The RCG’s issue with the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) is that they resent how the CPGB claims to be the main organisation for communism in this country and uses its coziness with the trade unions as a signifier of legitimacy. However, the RCG believes that this makes the CPGB not much more than an extension of the Labour party, which it despises. 

The CPGB-ML (Communist Party of Great Britain – Marxist-Leninist), on the other hand, are much closer politically to the RCG. They also share the same view on the Labour party. However, the CPGB-ML has recently taken a loud anti-trans position and so the RCG wants nothing to do with them.

Socialist Appeal are a group that has organised with the RCG in London before but the two do not get along due to, once again, the former’s (until recent) support for the Labour party every election. The RCG also shares views with Extinction Rebellion but XR now no longer wants anything to do with the RCG because of the RCG’s insistence on selling its communist newspaper at every event its members attend. The RCG insisting on trying to recruit members at every event it attends, including events co-organised with other groups, is a major source of friction and one of the reasons nobody wants to organise with them. It’s also one of the reasons why the RCG has stopped organising with LAFA – the London AntiFascist Assembly. 

LAFA, I was told, are a chaotic bunch. They staunchly oppose all forms of hierarchy and make decisions on a ‘horizontalist’ basis. In true anarchist fashion, there are no official leaders or ranks at all in LAFA and decisions are made sort of by whoever takes the initiative. Unfortunately this means that those who become unofficial leaders in the group are accountable to absolutely no-one because they are not technically responsible for anything, and naturally issues arise from this quasi-primitivist state of affairs. Ironically, this makes the London AntiFascist Assembly kind of based.

Interestingly, one organisation with which the RCG has never had any problems is Black Lives Matter. The RCG and Socialist Appeal were (apparently) the only two groups out on the streets in solidarity with BLM last summer – BLM even allowed RCG members to speak at their events. The RCG enjoyed quite a close and amicable relationship with BLM right up until BLM decided at the end of last summer to effectively cease all activity, with the reason given to the RCG being just that ‘the summer has ended’. Presumably, the bulk of BLM’s activist base either had to go back to school or just got bored. 

Although the RCG strictly prohibits any illegal activity at any of its protests, one clause of the constitution is ‘a revolution clause’ requiring members to leave their jobs and move house at the discretion of the RCG. I was told this clause has never been invoked and isn’t expected to be invoked for decades at least but is there in case a genuine communist uprising were to take place somewhere in the country and RCG leadership decided that it needed members to move into the area to help. The RCG is intent on staying firmly on the right side of the law for the foreseeable future – supposedly until class consciousness is raised to such a level that the time for revolution arrives. Whether or not history will pan out the way they think it will, only time will tell.  

Perhaps most curious was the group’s confused stance on lockdowns. They are fiercely pro-lockdown and pro-mask, but also highly critical of the government’s approach for reasons that are quite vague. Why a communist organisation would want to place unprecedented power in the hands of a government – a Tory government no less – that it thinks operates as the right arm of global capital is beyond me. When I brought this up, a lone voice of dissent in my branch, I was told I had made a ‘valid point’ and that the group needed to discuss the matter further, but that was it. The only explanation I could arrive at was that unfortunately the RCG, and I think the Left generally, are deep in denial about being anti-establishment.

The RCG’s modus operandi is the weekly stall: three or four communists will take a table and a megaphone to a busy location and try to hand out leaflets and sell copies of the FRFI newspaper. The idea was that people whose values loosely align with those of the groups could be contacted and organised by way of these stalls. The law of large numbers means that these stalls are curiously successful – one two-hour stall at the weekend can sell a dozen newspapers and enlist a handful of people to be contacted by the group at a later date. The process of collecting people and funnelling them down the contact-member pipeline is a slow one with a low success rate, but they’re relentless.

Interestingly though, I believe their decades-old activist tradition is actually one of their biggest weaknesses. Ironically, so-called progressives are stuck in the past. The RCG has a very minimal online footprint – it uses its profiles on twitter and Instagram only to post dates for upcoming events. The RCG have so much faith in their traditional method of raising ‘class consciousness’ (translation: spreading communism) that they’re losing the internet arms race and thus their grip on young people – their traditional base. The fact that the group has a large proportion of older members might have something to do with it.

However, Leftists are good at street activism – they’ve been doing it for decades. Leftist activist groups have ingrained in their traditions social technology – sets of practices, behaviours and attitudes – that have developed over time and that their opponents would do well to familiarise themselves with, like looking at the homework of a friend (or in this case, an adversary).

The RCG believes that it is one of very few, maybe even the only, Leftist group in Britain today committed to maintaining a substantial street presence. One of the conditions for membership, after all, is promising to attend at least one street protest a week. The RCG no doubt take their activism seriously, with a comrade even describing the group to me as being made up of ‘professional revolutionaries’. They believe that they are growing and will continue to grow in strength, propelled by financial and then ecological crises. They are very excited for the collapse of the Labour party, which they believe is all-but imminent, because they think it will cause swathes of the Left to lose faith in a parliamentary means of achieving socialism and take to the streets, where the RCG will be waiting for them.

My time as a revolutionary communist has been challenging but what I’ve learned is no doubt valuable. I strongly encourage others to do as I have, if only just for a few weeks or so. Join your local leftist organisation – pick a sect, any sect! Expand your knowledge, see a different perspective and gain skills you might not gain anywhere else. Speak to people with a completely different viewpoint from yours and learn how they think, you’ll be a slightly better and more knowledgeable person for it.

Quote: Leftists are good at street activism. They have ingrained in their traditions social technology that have developed over time and that their opponents should familiarise themselves with.


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Britain’s Fifth Column

A fifth column is “a group within a country at war who are sympathetic to or working for its enemies.”

We have a problem that is acknowledged but gets little to no serious attention in the official political or media spheres; the growing Islamic base that has been imported into this country. Given the above definition, it might seem absurd to imply that these people are a fifth column, seeing as we don’t appear to be directly at war, but we are. I would not call this a cold war as there are many thousands of victims of its adherents living among us in Britain currently. To do so would be to diminish their experience, something our traitorous state has done more than enough of.

Islam is its own self-contained religion and civilisational structure. By allowing this population to grow, we are fostering an ideology that will only seek to grow and supplant our society because that is what their god demands. Islam has been allowed to run parallel to our society by our cowardly state permitting Sharia courts, turning a blind eye to polygamous marriages, and generally leaving these guests to their own devices as they overtake British cities. While deplorable and deeply distressing, this has so far been contained, not so much any more. The Islamic community is breaking out, it’s establishing a significant voting bloc and this heralds a dark omen for things to come. In a great twist of irony, it seems Labour will be the first to fall foul of this new political development.

Contrary to their minority position, the Islamic community in Britain has a relatively tight grasp on small businesses in corner shops, barbers, hot food takeaways, off-licences, and petrol stations. They’ve also got an increasingly large share in drug dealing, likely facilitated by these interconnect, all hours, businesses, where cash is king and electronic fraud is missed. HMRC doesn’t have the resources to deal with such matters effectively, often fearing accusations of bigotry and being threatened with violence whenever they try to conduct their investigations. This is where Mohammed Hijab’s (a real name I’m told) bizarre TV comments about blasphemy against Islam not being tolerated by “Muslim gangsters” likely come from. We’ve seen this before, from the murder of Kris Donald to the grooming gangs. The community sheltering the vile perpetrators, in my mind, damns them. The religious extremists and the cultural criminals go hand in hand.

The more odious elements of Islam in Britain claim they have conquered Britain – that is, being imported by our traitorous elite and living off welfare. Make no mistake, this is not Mohammed taking Mecca from the pagans, these people are arrogant welfare queens that the state protects and cajoles at every opportunity. Where is this arrogance coming from? Is it their status beyond criticism? The enshrining of Islamophobia as an ultimate crime against “Modern British Values” is certainly a problem. We have Muslim MPs almost brought to tears in Parliament for mean words while White children up and down the country are groomed and raped by adherents of their ideology and culture, fanatic or otherwise; crocodile tears from a vile community that not-so-secretly laughs about the modern woes of the native British.

Muslim gaslighting doesn’t end in Parliament. Pakistani actor Riz Ahmed put out a bizarre video a few years ago in which National Front types went door to door ethnically cleansing Muslims from England. I thought this to be a particularly bizarre thing to do when you consider the terrorism rate, per capita, of the Islamic vs British community. To me this was a tell in his thinking, it acknowledges that fundamentally they are at war with us. Riz also starred in the film Four Lions, which follows a hapless Jihadi’s attempt to carry out a terror attack in the UK. The film, while amusing, does paint these men (other than the grossly unsympathetic White convert) as sympathetic in their idiocy, with Ahmed’s character leading his less bright friends astray. Outside the context of the film, I find this portrayal to be unrealistic. The average second-gen or third-gen Muslim youth sincerely hates Britain, its history, and its people. They’ll prioritise and take the side of foreign conflicts over any domestic issue concerning the British nation. The most they’ll interact with British culture is through the superficiality of sport.

Moreover, there is a bizarre Africanisation of British Muslim culture, Ali G was a send-up of this, but Cohen seemed to back away from this obvious interpretation for whatever reason. Drug culture, speaking in a pseudo-Jamaican patois (to steal from Starkey) mixed with Muslim conventions, producing a particularly unpleasant and idiotic-sounding dialect. A glorification of crime, violence, and importantly terrorism pervades this culture. We’ve seen this play out across the pro-Palestine demonstrations happening over recent months. To quickly touch on drug culture, cannabis is a major drug among this group. People like Peter Hitchens get the relationship twisted. They assume that cannabis is the cause of terror, not that these people engage in drug culture because they are themselves a criminal and subversive element in society. Do drugs exacerbate their hatred? I wouldn’t doubt it, but the hatred is before the imbibing of wicked poisons.

This is all an incredibly dangerous mix that the state and security services seem to barely be able to keep a lid on. Despite their protestations that right-wing terrorism is the biggest threat, this is clearly nonsense. Islamic terror threats outstrip right-wing ones by miles, even with the vast population difference. This can also be seen in the police’s reluctance to police the entrenched Muslim community. What are they so afraid of? My guess is terroristic violence. To cow in the face of such a threat is basically to guarantee you will hand the country to Islamists.

What is to be done about this? Ideas have been floated about banning certain aspects of the religion to encourage them to self-deport but again, this relies on enforcement by the state which it is both unwilling and incapable of doing. I would propose a ban on the production, import, and sale of ritualistically slaughtered meat as that would be the easiest to enforce without confrontation. Businesses would be shuttered, products would be impounded at customs, and we would stand firmly on the side of animal rights. It’s reprehensible to me that Britain should take a step backward in this regard to placate alien desert religions. Naturally, this ban would affect the Jewish community, but that’s a sacrifice we will need to make for the future of Britain. The Jewish community is particularly robust and progressive when it comes to issues of wrestling with God, and I’m sure they’d find a way around our new law.

Less practical solutions have been offered; recently I’ve seen people saying that public prayer should be banned in response to mass Islamic worship in London. This is a nonsense approach that would only affect our beleaguered Christian community and would likely not be enforced fairly. Some have suggested banning cousin marriages. Whilst well-intentioned, the main thrust of my objection to such a policy is that we haven’t had to ban it for it to no longer be practised in this country (outside the Muslim community and presumable other outliers). Simply put, we’d be creating a nationwide law for an imported subset of the population. It’s not the thin end of the wedge of tyranny, but it does point to the ridiculous codification of a multiracial society.

Groups are so vastly different in outlook and disposition that you need to make the detrimental illegal for it to appear to function. Perhaps we should take it as a sign that people who willingly marry their cousins and as such have the largest disabled community in Britain shouldn’t be living among us. Britain does not exist to serve as a eugenic uplift scheme for foreign people who cleave to a religion that orders them to supplant us. On an entirely different and less targeted front, the deportation of economic net negatives would substantially reduce the Islamic population of Britain, but the problem of Islam would remain, albeit at perpetual minority levels.

Approaching last Christmas, we saw the usual warning of terror attacks rolled out for many festive markets and events that are happening across the country. If you attend any of these markets, you will likely notice the ethnic make-up of the security and the broken English with which they communicate. It’s not lost on me that many of these men are of African, non-Muslim, extraction however many are of Muslim origin and I find it entirely insane that threats from Islamic terrorism would be policed by fresh off-the-boat Muslims. We have a growing force of non-white imported security, increasingly used by businesses because they are cheap and a state which seeks to enforce anti-white laws, which is worrying. Their conduct is poor, and their obvious biases and unfamiliarity with Britain can’t be ignored.

In a recent clip, a piano player is aggressively harassed by foreign security. Is the proliferation of such people across the UK security sector related to the housing of fighting aged illegals now being overseen by two of the biggest private security companies Serco and G4S? It’s certainly a question worth asking. It is not without reason that it could be expected for such people to end up in the official police forces of Britain eventually. Standards in policing have been dropping for decades, if things are not reversed, I imagine we will start seeing these people transition into the force within the decade.

To me, this is all part of the plan, the expansion of the police state. Contrary to Telegraph hacks, the police state is already here. This great panopticon of Modern Britain, with its pervasive speech laws coupled with the new ‘diverse’ religiosity, forms a tyranny of leftists and racial mafias over the native population. As with everything in Modern Britain, the “elite” have made a vast miscalculation. Creating such a system will be subverted and controlled by the most vocal, violent, and united community. Without a doubt, that community is the Islamic one. While they are still a minority, they will increasingly wield disproportionate, anti-democratic, power over us all. It’s a horrific reverse colonialism where we, the native British, have been entangled in a web of increasingly complex and restrictive laws that all but guarantee our disempowerment. The Tories are utter traitors and completely politically spent for not seeing this and not doing anything about it for their fourteen years in power. Hopefully, they’ll be destroyed at the next election and a new, vigorous, and unapologetically nationalist force can rise to lift us out of this predicament decades of political incompetence and deliberate malice have brought us to.

I do not believe Islam will take over Britain is guaranteed, I do not believe that things are too far gone. Britain is broken and while Islam is germinating in this environment it’s entirely imported. For the most part, the White British converts we see are the most broken of outsiders, with fringe academics constituting a bizarre exception. Most people in Britain look at the Islamic community with rightful derision. They may not express it openly but in their hearts, they see it as a thuggish religion of petty criminals and child rapists. This is the version of Islam that the immigrants have brought to our shores, the blame is squarely on themselves and they alone shame their Ummah. Indeed, Arab Muslims in states like the UAE or Saudi often wonder why we have let such people settle in our lands, a favour they do not permit to their “brothers and sisters.”

In order to prevent this growing Islamic problem in Britain, we must acknowledge the interconnected nature of this religion, from how drug dealers and home office employees are all working together to advance their faith and racial groups within that overarching religion. We are constantly told to take people on an individual basis, but time and time again in Modern Britain this has shown to be dangerously faulty reasoning. It’s outdated and only conceivably worked when the country was homogenous and dwelt under a Christian understanding. Those days are gone. In an irreligious and deracinated Britain, we are at the mercy of monolithic minorities who use the law to cudgel each other and especially the native population.

I had said in a previous piece that I was unsure of the civilisational war proposed by the counter-jihad movement, and I still hold that belief. I do not believe in siding with foreign interests outside of Europe that seek to interfere in the Islamic world instead of focusing on problems at home. The priority is removing Islam from Britain and more broadly Europe, not fighting Israel’s wars or throwing our lot in with Zionists. The European and Islamic civilisations should be separate and distinct.


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With Friends Like These…

“We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow.”

Lord Palmerston’s famous adage is typically divorced from its context, especially when used in discussions regarding Britain’s foreign policy, or lack thereof. Delivered as part of a speech in the House of Commons in 1848, the then Foreign Secretary was responding to an argument put forward by one of his most consistent and outspoken opponents, Thomas Anstey, Irish Confederate MP for Youghal.

Over a decade after Poland’s incorporation into the Russian Empire, Anstey maintained intervention in support of the rebels, seeking to establish an independent Polish state, was both a feasible operation and a moral imperative which the government of the day – especially Palmerston, who was still foreign secretary during this period – absconded in favour of non-interference, despite previous suggestions to the contrary. According to Anstey, this amounted to, among other things, a betrayal of Poland and, by extension, their sympathetic ideals.

Accounting for the particular circumstances in which Palmerston was operating, primarily seeking a basic balance of power across the continent, maintaining a preference for less-absolutist models of government without a frothing desire to see them imposed at the drop of a hat, the essence of his shrewd foreign policy stems from the realisation there is no equivalence between interpersonal and international relations, due to the second-order consequences which come with maintaining such agreements:

“…When we are asked why the British Government have not enforced treaty rights in every case, my answer is, that the only method of enforcing them would have been by methods of hostility; and that I do not think those questions were questions of sufficient magnitude in their bearing on the interests of England, to justify any Government in calling on the people of this country to encounter the burdens and hazards of war for the purpose of maintaining those opinions.”

“It does not follow, when a Minister announces in Parliament an intention to perform a public act, that it is to be considered like a promise made to an individual, or by one private man to another, and that it is to be made a reproach to him if the intention be not carried out.”

Indeed, the maintenance of certain opinions under specific circumstances simply isn’t worth it. The opinions we value, whether written in parchment or spoken over the airwaves, and what we are prepared to do to maintain them, form the essence of our political loyalty. Unfortunately for many in Britain’s political class, even its nominally right-wing constituents, their political loyalty seems to lie with Israel. Berating any criticism or lack of enthusiasm as an act of betrayal, the British people are expected to view their interests as secondary to the interests of the Israeli government, all else being unthinkable.

However, much to their aggravation, Britain’s cooling support for Israel has only accelerated these past few days after a convoy of three vehicles, each displaying the World Central Kitchen (WCK) logo, was attacked whilst returning from a humanitarian mission to Gaza through a deconflicted zone; a route agreed with the knowledge and consent of the Israel Defence Forces (IDF). The affected British nationals were working as private military contractors tasked with protecting the convoy and providing medical support. By all estimations, not exactly frothing Hamas-adjacent anti-semites motivated by Islamism or Palestinian nationalism. Worse still, the convoy contacted the IDF after the first vehicle was hit, but to no self-preserving avail.

Of course, this isn’t the first time Israelis has taken liberty with the lives of British nationals, although it’s perhaps the first instance in which the disregard of the Israeli government and its supporters has been made so blatant. The IDF’s chief of staff released a less-than-sincere-sounding apology, claiming the attack was an accident, which chef José Andrés, WCK’s director and co-founder, evidently didn’t find convincing, noting the attack took place over considerable distance, never mind in an area tightly controlled by the IDF.

Benjamin Netanyahu responded in a similar vein, stating occasional civilian casualties were part-and-parcel of war and the overarching mission to keep Israel safe. Whilst not technically untrue, it’s also part-and-parcel – even if not an iron law of reality – for states to alter their relations in accordance with their interests, often in unexpected ways; those who are allies one day are rivals the next. As such, I’m sure Netanyahu would be very understanding if Britain ceased all arms exports to Israel, especially if we had a few security concerns, so to speak.

The Israeli government’s sense of entitlement when it comes to Western support is hard to ignore. David Mencer, Israeli government spokesman and former director of Labour Friends of Israel, affectively stated Britain was obliged to continue supporting Israel as doing otherwise would constitute a betrayal of liberal democratic values. In Mencer’s own words: “You’ve got to take our side.”

Indeed, Britain had great sympathy for the Israelis following the attack on October 7th and a military response from Israel was thought to be expected and justified. It is essentially different to claim Britain has a moral and political responsibility to secure the existence of the Israeli state from its enemies, whatever that entails. In any case, this whole debacle suggests two things about Israel, both of which should inform the UK’s future relationship. Either Israel is too incompetent to be considered a reliable ally or too malicious to be considered an ally at all.

However, despite growing suspicion, mainstream criticism of the Israeli government and its agencies has yet to attach itself to the national interest or any loosely-related concept. Sir Alan Duncan’s comments on “pro-Israel extremism” at the highest echelons of government, citing the conduct of various ministers and politicians, resulted in accusations of anti-semitism and a near-immediate disciplinary inquiry from the Conservative Party. At first glance, this looks like one of several increasingly confident pockets of dissent at the heart of the establishment. In reality, it’s the more puritanical believers in the liberal rules-based international order pointing out the internal contradictions of the status quo.

The likes of Lord Dave and Sir Alan aren’t posturing against Israel out of ‘realpolitik’; they aren’t aligning against the Israeli government for nationalist reasons, but for internationalist ones. In their mind, Britain should distance itself from Israel for the sake of conforming to international law to a greater extent than it already does; it has very little to do with a state being so entwined with a foreign government that it can barely condemn attacks on its own citizens, undermining the most basic interest of any modern state: the protection of its people.

At bottom-level, their understanding is an extension of their bizarre idea of domestic affairs. Parliament amending and breaking the law are one in the same; as an entity, law is stagnant and cannot be ‘constitutionally’ changed, at least not to any political degree. Likewise, the breaking of treaties, for whatever reason, is a violation of international law and therefore necessarily bad. Alas, just as men must tear muscle to build more to gain bodily strength, states must tear laws and treaties to create new ones to gain political strength, at home and abroad.

This line of thought is straightforward and popular enough. In fact, it may explain some of the strongest support for Israel among certain sections of the public; older, Conservative and Reform-voting types with the Union Jack and the Star of David in their Twitter bio.

Accounting for the obvious fact many use support for Israel as proxy for domestic concerns pertaining to the rapid growth of Britain’s Muslim population, doubling as an implicit anti-racist credential by aligning with a historically-persecuted minority group, I suspect a considerable amount of Israelophilia among Britain’s old can be attributed to Mossad’s response to the 1972 Munich Massacre; a 20-year global hunt for Black September soberly titled Operation Wrath of God. Their first impression of Israel, as portrayed by a sensationalist mass-media machine at the height of an international event, is that of a rabidly nationalist state which spares no expense when it comes to pursuing its goal and eradicating its enemies.

The fact Israel didn’t catch the main culprit of the massacre is of secondary importance, what matters is the will and perception of the Israelis was evidently more attractive than whatever the British state was doing. At this time, Britain was enduring some of the worst years of its post-war history, encumbered with economic stagnation, social unrest, and an impotent political class with no perceivable willpower or solution. Sound familiar? As many will recall, similar flickers of admiration were visible following the early response of Israel to the October 7th attack, reigniting a love for a certain determination which our own foreign policy lacks.

Of course, this only accounts for the inclinations of a broadly defined, misguided but well-intentioned demographic of everymen. The political fetishism of Israel among Britain’s centre-right commentariat and policymakers (literal fetishism in some cases) defies any comparable justification. Outside of building the largest possible electoral coalition against Islamism, it seems to be a bizarre fixation.

In short, condemning the actions of Israel committed against our country may feel like a condemnation of the type of politics many of us desire, but it isn’t. As a matter of fact, the opposite is true: it is one of many steps required towards the realisation of a sovereign, self-interested foreign policy.

Palmerston was right, there is no fundamental equivalence between interpersonal and international relations, but there is one similarity worth remembering: trust is the basis of all relations. We trust based on our perceptions of others, our experiences with them and others like them; we make informed guesses, leaps in the dark, as to whether or not we should make ourselves open and vulnerable for the purposes of co-operation and friendship. If our knowledge of another changes, it impacts our ability to trust them. Sometimes this strengthens trust, sometimes it weakens it, and if trust is weakened to such an extent, whether chipped away by routine transgressions or destroyed outright by a single, deeply callous act, one is forced to reconsider their relations.

This is true of both people and states, and following the most severe form of disregard from our so-called ally, after all we felt and done for them, without expectation of reimbursement or lavish praise, it is time we reconsider our relationship with Israel; not towards Palestine, but to our own, independent national interest. They haven’t allowed our co-operation and friendship to disrupt the pursuit of their perpetual interests, it’s about time we do the same.


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On Conservatism and Art

A few weeks ago, another tweet claiming that it was impossible for conservatives to make art made the rounds of Twitter. Like too many in the mainstream culture, its sender erroneously assumed that because art inherently involves edgy innovation, and since conservatives categorically hate and/or fear both extremes and change, art must be the obvious property of the left. The thread received enough attention that I don’t need to invite more here. The Mallard hosted a Space on the topic—not necessarily on whether its message had merit (quote threads were rife with examples contradicting it, from Dostoevsky to Dali to Stevie Ray Vaughan), but rather to discuss the question of how conservatives could most effectively make art. 

Of course, among other topics we discussed the relationship between art and politics. A point made by many was the fact that, when discussing art and conservatism one should at least attempt to be clear about their terms. Furthermore, as mentioned in the conversation by Jake Scott, one must differentiate between political conservatism and metaphysical conservatism; the confusion of the two has, as the above stereotype shows, led to much confusion on the subject of conservatism and art that, so far as I can, I will attempt to nuance here. 

A refrain one hears, usually from activists on the left, is that all art is political. Such assertions are often met with frustration, generally from convervatives but also from people not explicitly on the right but who just want to be left alone when it comes to politics (and who, for such a response, are subsequently branded as right-wing by those who interpret all of life through an unconditional, against-if-not-actively-for ideology). However, the former are not wrong; all art can be interpreted as political—because all art is metaphysical.

As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, art is, among other things, a concretization of abstract values. When one looks at a painting, listens to a song, takes in a sculpture, walks through a building, or reads through a novel, one is engaging with the values that the artist has given a local habitation and a name (as always, Shakespeare said it best—MND V.1); this necessarily involves, though it need not be fully bound to, the artist’s metaphysical worldview.  

Consider the two literary schools that dominated the nineteenth century and that can generally be placed within Western culture’s pendulum-like sway between the Platonic and Aristotelian: Romanticism and Naturalism. A Romantic whose work assumes that there are things higher than the material world that give this life an infinite meaning will create very different art from a Naturalist who believes the material world is all that exists and that any attempt to say differently is an artifice that will unintentionally or cynically mislead people into accepting suffering as a value. Nothing in these examples is overtly political, but one can see (indeed, we’ve had over a century of seeing) the different politics that would come from each view. This is because politics, as an expansion upon the more fundamental realm of ethics, begins with metaphysical premises from which the rest flow. Different directional degrees will lead maritime navigators to very different locations; how much more will different primary assumptions about the nature of reality and humans’ place in it?

Let’s look at an example from an author who was cited in that thread as a conservative: Dostoevsky. Rather than counter the rising atheist-socialist egotism of mid-nineteenth-century Russia with a political textbook (which, granted, would have been banned under the Tsar’s censors, who eschewed all explicitly political works—hence why the Russian novel had to take on so many roles), Dostoevsky depicts and undermines the burgeoning philosophy in the character of Crime and Punishment’s Rodion Raskalnikov. 

However, though the ideas in debate had (and are still having) political effects, Dostoevsky is not merely speaking politics in Crime and Punishment. He understood that politics was a function of one’s primary assumptions about reality—about one’s metaphysics—and their effects on one’s individual psychology. He also recognized, as Raskalnikov’s unconventional bildung shows, that one’s stated politics may actually conflict with the metaphysics underlying their beliefs. Hence, for all Rodion’s stated atheistic egotism, he finds himself preventing a woman from committing suicide, giving all his spare cash to those with less than he, and being fascinated with the downtrodden but resilient (because Christlike) Sonia. 

In Crime and Punishment and his other masterpieces, Dostoevsky juxtaposes the new generation’s radical ideas not against other ideas (i.e. on the radicals’ terms) but against the background of the broader Orthodox-Christian Russian psyche. Raskalnikov’s working out of the contradiction between his would-be Napoleon complex and his subconscious worldview (if not the fabric of reality at large—Dostoevsky rarely simplifies the distinction between the two) mimics the author’s own similar progression not only from a socialistic politic to one more consistent with his deeper Orthodox convictions but, in his view, one from madness to sanity. 

While to read Dostoevsky solely through a political lens is to not read him at all, his writing does point to the inherent relationship between an artist and the politics of his or her historical context. The norms, laws, and cultural debates of a given generation are interconnected with the art then produced, which can reinforce, undermine, or, in the case of most pre-2010s consumer art, quite simply inhabit them (which, true to form, the aforementioned leftist activist would accuse of being a complacent and complicit reinforcement). 

However, as this political layer is often based in the times, it usually passes away with them. In the coming Christmas season, few people will read A Christmas Carol with Social Darwinism in mind, though Dickens was, in part, critiquing that contemporaneous viewpoint in Ebeneezer Scrooge. Perhaps works like Dickens’s Carol were necessary to ensure Social Darwinism did not succeed—that is, perhaps their politics served the purpose intended by their authors. Nonetheless, today A Christmas Carol is virtually useless, politically (at least, for Dickens’s immediate polemical purposes), which is the beginning of a work’s infinite usefulness as art. What is left is the more general story that, for all intents and purposes, made modern Christmas. Contrary to what politivangelicals and literature majors who read through a new historicist lens (*raises hand*) might try to maintain, this is not a lessening but an enriching; it is the separation of the transient from the enduring—of the metaphysical from the physical. 

One implication of this view of art as concretized metaphysics, and one which was mentioned in our Space conversation, is that not all art that labels itself “art” qualifies as art. If the explanation of a piece contains more discernible meaning (i.e. is bigger) than the piece itself—that is, if no values have been concretized so as to be at least generally recognizable—then, sorry, it’s not art (or if it is, it’s not concretizing the values its creator thinks it is). Often the makers of such “art” believe the paramount aspect of a piece must be its radical message—the more disruptive and cryptic, the better; this conveniently offers the maker a pretext to skip out on, if not directly subvert, style and aesthetic skill, to say nothing of selectivity. It goes without saying that this is a major part of the oft-lamented degradation of aesthetics in Western culture, from “high art,” to architecture, to animation. Why devote rigor to style and skill when the point is to signal that one aligns with the correct message?

By the way, this merits a general exhortation: if you don’t like a piece of art (a building, a sculpture, a Netflix series, etc), it might not be because you, rube that you are, have no taste or understanding; it might be because it’s simply a pile of shit—which, it bears mentioning, has been tried to be passed off as art. You are under no obligation to concede the inferiority complex such pieces try to sell you in their gnostic snake oil. Because the point of art is to communicate abstract human values, one does not need a degree in art, nor in philosophy, to understand and enjoy good art. Indeed, contrary to the elitism assumed in modern art taste, it may be the mark of good art that the average person can understand and enjoy it without too much explanation; such a work will have fulfilled art’s purpose of bodying forth the forms of things unknown but which are nonetheless universal.

The unintentional defaulting or the intentional subverting of the role of aesthetics in art by the modern and postmodern culture unwittingly reveals a possible door for conservatives who wish to make art. Rather than playing into the stereotype by simply making reactionary art with explicitly opposite meanings, “conservative art” (or, more preferably, conservatives who simply want to make good art) must begin with a return to aesthetic rigor. Just as the early church’s response to heresies was not to accept the premises of the heresies’ mind-body split but, rather, to restore the body-mind-spirit unity depicted in the Gospel and the Trinity, so the current response to artistic heresies—which involve a similar, if not the very same, split—is to reunite the physical and metaphysical. 

We must not ignore the messages of our art, but we should allow them to follow the literally more immediate role of the aesthetic experience. Indeed, we should seek to develop enough skill in conveying abstract themes and ideas through our medium such that little explanation is necessary. As conservatives, especially, we do not need to maneuver things so our audience takes away a certain message. Either the values we are trying to capture will speak for themselves, or we will learn that we need more practice. Above all, unless knowingly engaging in polemics, we should not (or at least try not to) approach art as a sermon. Doing so runs the risk of proving too much, besides turning off audiences who have probably had enough messaging and rhetoric. Instead, use your ethos, pathos, and logos to present their corresponding virtues of Goodness, Beauty, and Truth, and let the aesthetic experience stand as the message. As Jake Scott recently tweeted, underscoring his January article cited above, when making art, forget politics—seek to create heritage.

As always, it’s the conservative’s task to take his or her advice first. While I do currently have a polemical novel in pre-publication process with a clear message against the canceling in academia of Shakespeare and the tradition he represents, in A California Kid in King Henry’s Court, my serial novel for The Mallard’s print magazine, I have tried to focus solely on the aesthetic experience of the story. 

The title is, of course, a throwback to A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, Mark Twain’s comedy of an American who, having been knocked on his head in a factory, awakens in Arthurian England and subsequently seeks to industrialize the chivalric country, all the while becoming, himself, as much an object of Twain’s satire as medieval chivarly. My semi-autobiographical serial novel takes an opposite tack: a kid from California, having derived from Tolkien and Shakespeare a love for England’s literary past, attends modern Oxford and finds it far different from what he expects. The joke of each episode is usually on the fictional narrator, Tuck. However, though I’m a far less subtle satirist than Twain (really, my work is parody, not satire, since I am starting from a loving desire to enjoy the book’s subject, rather than a satirical desire to debase it), I’ve attempted to do something similar to Twain: unlock the dramatic and comic potential of Americans’ English past while still poking fun at elite pretensions, whether those of the narrator whose knowledge of literary references is irrelevant outside of academia, or of a modern England that keeps shattering the narrator’s romanticized ideas of Anglo tradition. 

While, beneath the parody, one of A California Kid’s thematic goals is to explore the deeper relevance of the English literary tradition, my main objective has simply been to make readers laugh—which, taking a cue from Monty Python’s discussions of comedy, starts with making myself laugh. If readers walk away from the episodes appreciating Shakespeare or Tolkien, so much the better, but it is only a secondary end to the primary one of telling a hopefully worth-reading story. 

Over the past half-century the postmodern anti-tradition has become the predominant tradition. The task of breaking open a way forward from the metaphysical assumptions of that structure—of liberating people from them—is now the job of conservatives, which, yes, does include everyone who does not want to wholly jettison, deconstruct, or “decolonize” the past, however politically or philosophically they self-identify. However, our goal should not be to merely preserve the past against the current attack and atrophy. The left’s view of art as a vehicle for political messaging can be traced back over 150 years to, among other sources, Nikolay Chernyshevsky, literary rival of Dostoevsky and writer of the utopian polemical novel What is to Be Done? As I tell my US History students, if you want to know why a generation pursues certain politics, look at what they were reading twenty or thirty years before; according to Dostoevsky biographer Joseph Frank, Chernyshevsky’s novel was the favorite book of a young Vladimir Lenin. 

Conservatives must take a similarly long view of art. We must strive, as much as we are able, to make works that will last not just for a given generation, but for several. Yes, we must look to the works and artists whose work has aesthetically endured and whose metaphysics have transcended their own times—and then we must create our own. The messages, insofar as they are necessary, will follow, the greatest of which being that the aesthetic experience is the point of the art. This has always been the point, not because of any inherent politics or lack thereof in art, but because it is the nature of art to simultaneously look backward and forward in its concretization and preservation of values. The same can be said of conservatism, which I take as a sign that we, rather than the left, are best equipped to produce the future of art. Like our philosophy, ours is not simply an art of return, but of resurrection and legacy.


Photo Credit.

Cycling Around Japan

In early 2023, I began watching NHK (Japan’s state broadcaster, akin to the BBC) and discovered a breath of fresh air. A news channel that tells the news in English and has no weird politics or stances it pushes onto you. It was from this, that I noticed that a lot of their programs were different documentaries, mostly which were short that depicted various aspects of the nation’s culture and history. These often ranged from showcasing different cuisines to local history and sports from across Japan. It was from this, that I ended up on a show called ‘Cycling around Japan’, a simple show I must admit of individuals as the name would suggest, that cycle around Japan. A typical episode can be found here

Its format is simple: follow a non-native individual on a bike around Japan, watching them interact with and appreciate the different locations across the country. As someone who has never been to Japan, nor bikes, why should I be drawn to such programming especially as it is something that would not attract an individual like myself? To understand that question, we must first look closer to home as to why I do not watch my country’s state broadcaster.

Although criticism of the BBC has always really existed, it has become heightened in the last twenty years regarding the content it produces and its lack of impartiality. What the BBC typically used to do well in was its long-form documentaries, we can think of these being narrated by individuals like David Attenborough. Additionally, there are also short formatted programs that showcase the beauty and appreciation for the country we call home. From this great catalog of work, we now look at the BBC and its programs. A recurring trend we have seen emerge is that of the widespread self-hatred that makes up the BBC and often its presenting class. In recent years numerous programming and shows have been produced on the failings and detractions of Great Britain and the British people. Of course, the BBC still does produce great work and shows for all, but the rest of the time it suffers from an oikophobic disease which is particular to the modern West. But NHK does not have/ hold this problem, the programming is largely these very respectful documentaries that promote Japan and its people. 

The real question should be this, why does NHK work and the BBC receive widespread criticism? Well, I would argue it is because of shows like Cycling Around Japan, which we can contrast with other shows. How many times have you watched a show or a piece of media from the BBC, which has either been presented by someone who does not like the country they call home or completely misrepresents the nation as a whole? There is no Afua Hirsch, no David Olusoga and no Kehinde Andrews. I would argue this is part of a wider historical trend of showing only one side of a story, portraying the West/Europe in an ultimately negative light.

So why is Cycling around Japan different? 

Firstly, this is common across all NHK shows. Nearly all the presenters have a deep love and interest in Japan, the subject matter they are dealing with. Moreover, all the non-Japanese who do the cycling speak fluent Japanese, having lived in the country for a decade-plus, possessing an already basic level of respect and appreciation for the culture they are traveling through and exploring. There are times when BBC presenters are not too interested in presenting Britain at all, opting to address their subjects at an arms-length with a slight hint of embarrassment. NHK does the complete opposite. 

A show like Cycling Around Japan, works due to its simplicity and its appeal to traditional life, which for many makes the country a place of envy. From meeting furniture makers and sake brewers, we are constantly seeing and interacting with individuals dedicated to the perfection of their craft. It is this focus and interest in a wide range of activities all across the country, that creates this understanding and love of the little things in life. Combined with the added interest in beautiful scenery, clean peaceful streets, and rich history, we cannot help but fall in love with such a nation. A wholesome slice of life shown to us through the eyes of an English-speaking, non-Japanese person who throws themselves into every interaction and encounter. 

This is partly why NHK works and the BBC does not; its state broadcaster has lost this love and appreciation for the country it calls home and subsequently cannot produce anything like this of substance. What we can observe is something rather achievable, a national broadcaster that produces simplistic but enjoyable content that is not self-loathing. Indeed, content can be as simple as allowing a non-native to cycle around the country, meeting and learning about the nation as they go, and make for an excellent watching experience. Meeting artisans, farmers, and musical instrument makers, we are presented with a truer reflection of the country and its many inhabitants.


Photo Credit.

Let’s Talk About Sex (Work)

This tweet from @GraffitiRadical invoked quite the conversation. Well, as much conversation as you can have on Twitter. Some argued that it is empowering and that it’s a legitimate profession. Others argued that it’s exploitative and damaging. Some refuse to even use the term ‘sex work,’ favouring language such as prostitution. To others, it’s interchangeable.

However, currently and historically, the technical and legal term for sex work is prostitution, something many advocates wish to see changed, arguing the term creates stigma. Opponents of the practice would say this is rightly so, given the nature of the practice.

However angry the arguments, however poor, it doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s something that exists. It may be tucked away in the shadows of the night or blatantly advertised on OnlyFans, but it exists. They don’t call it the world’s oldest profession for nothing. Pictures and paintings showing prostitution still exist from the times of Ancient Rome. Courtesans could make a lot of money by being chosen by a rich benefactor. The 90s film Pretty Woman showed the profession in a new light.

Whatever you want to call it, there’s still a major debate about the morality and legality of prostitution. One only must look across the world to see how different cultures tolerate the practice-or if they do at all. That being said, laws do not always impact supply and demand. Prostitution exists in liberal secular nations as well as conservative religious ones. It happens in peacetime and in wartime. Prostitutes and clients come from all walks of life.

So, what is it really?

The Whos and the Whats

When we think of prostitution, we often think of ladies in revealing clothing on street corners. That may be true, but streetwalkers aren’t the only type of prostitute. There are those who work in brothels, massage parlours and bars, or as escorts or cam girls. One may think of the window and door girls in Amsterdam. Other forms exist but are rarer.

Statistically, it’s thought that the vast majority of prostitutes are women. According to Streetwalker, 88% of prostitutes in the UK. That percentage is likely applicable worldwide give or take, but we will never truly know given the taboo nature. Sadly, child prostitution is not unheard of and is indeed common, with some areas being tourist hotspots for those interested in that.

Entry into prostitution also varies.

Types of Legislation

There are five types of legislation regarding prostitution.

Legalisation

In legalisation, prostitution itself is both legal and regulated, as are associated activities such as pimping and earning money. Countries with this framework include The Netherlands, Argentina, Turkey, Bangladesh, and Germany.

The Netherlands is probably the most infamous example of legalised prostitution. Its capital of Amsterdam is a hotspot for prostitution, and its red-light district is equally well known. There is strict regulation of the trade as with any ordinary profession, and prostitutes have been required to pay income tax and register with the Chamber of Commerce since 2010. While they are taxed, they may also receive unemployment benefits, though they do not if they work through the opt-in system.

Some limits do exist to protect the vulnerable. The hire or use of prostitutes under 21 is illegal, as is purchasing sex from someone you know, or suspect has been trafficked. 

Despite benefits for the parties involved and protections for vulnerable people, it’s no cakewalk. The Netherlands still remains a top destination for human trafficking due to the demand for prostitution. Most prostitutes in The Netherlands are not native, giving credence to the narrative of human trafficking. Meanwhile, prostitutes themselves feel as though the government is not on their side. The majority of those who apply for registration do not get it, whilst local authorities are closing windows and do not allow prostitutes to book clients online. In response, prostitutes are complaining that the restrictions reduce demand and make it harder for them to find work.

Decriminalisation

New Zealand, Belgium, New South Wales and Northern Territory

Decriminalisation means that there are no legal penalties for prostitution but that it is not legal itself, nor anything associated with it. Countries with this framework include New Zealand, Belgium and parts of Australia, such as New South Wales and the Northern Territory.

New Zealand became a model for decriminalisation following legislative changes in 2003. Prostitution, living off earnings, soliciting and contracts are all legal. The government recognises it as work but does not promote it. Limitations do exist, such as using girls under 18, those on short-term visas entering the trade and non-Kiwis or Aussies owning brothels.

Whether or not this has succeeded in helping prostitutes depends wildly on opinion. Anecdotal evidence varies- the lady in this piece feels much safer, whilst another argues it’s still incredibly dangerous. A report from July 2012 by the New Zealand government concluded that whilst it was far from perfect, it had made steps in the right direction. This report says otherwise.

In terms of advocacy, the New Zealand Sex Prostitutes Collective (or NZPC) is the largest in the country. They help any prostitute and advocate for all types. Their website explains the New Zealand model and their case for why decriminalisation must stay.

Abolitionism

In abolitionist legislation, the act of prostitution is legal, but everything else related to it is against the law. Countries with this framework include Madagascar, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mexico, Brazil, and Great Britain.

Great Britain has long had an abolitionist model. Like the Netherlands, it’s illegal to have sex with a prostitute who has been trafficked. The age of prostitutes is also set at eighteen, higher than the age of consent of sixteen. All other parts of prostitution, such as living off wages and brothels, are illegal.

Groups both for and against prostitution exist. Both the English Collective of Prostitutes and the Sex Worker Advocacy and Resistance Movement (SWARM) support full decriminalisation. Streetlight U.K. and Beyond the Streets. Meanwhile, the safety of prostitutes in the U.K. is precarious. One 2018 article states that the mortality rate for prostitutes is twelve times the national average for example. Those with opposing views are at odds on what would help.

Neo-Abolitionism

In neo-abolitionism, the act of selling sex is not a crime, but buying it is, along with other associated acts. This is often called ‘The Nordic Model.’ Countries with this framework include Canada, Spain, Ireland, Sweden and Norway.

Sweden’s lurch towards neo-abolitionism at the turn of the century was the first of its kind. In 1999, they made the act of selling sex illegal, with everything else remaining against the law.

A 2010 investigation from the Swedish government came to this conclusion:

  • Street prostitution had decreased.
  • The law had acted as a deterrent to prospective buyers of sexual services, reducing demand.
  • The law had deterred trafficking, as criminals had not so readily sought to establish organised trafficking networks in Sweden.
  • The number of foreign women in prostitution had increased, but not to the extent noticed in neighbouring countries.
  • Online prostitution had increased in line with all other sold services since 1999, but not to the extent that it could be said that street prostitution had simply migrated.
  • Exit strategies and alternatives had been developed.
  • There had been a significant change of attitude and mindset in society.
  • Adoption of the law had served as a pioneering model for other countries.

Street prostitution has also decreased by 50% since 1995. A 2021 report also showed that the use of online services has increased, particularly among young people.

As of 2023, prostitutes are taxed on their income.

Unfortunately, Sweden remains a top destination for sex trafficking. The number of those trafficked into the country has steadily increased over the years, particularly children. Sweden tends to be very proactive in combating trafficking, but opponents may point to this as an example as to why their laws do not work.

Red Umbrella Sweden, a group made up of current and former prostitutes, is one example of advocacy. They oppose the Nordic model and push for full decriminalisation.

Prohibitionism

In Prohibitionism, anything to do with prostitution, including the act itself, is illegal. Countries with this framework include Egypt, South Africa, the USA outside of parts of Nevada, China and Russia.

Prohibitionist Egypt actively prosecutes those who partake in prostitution. One can receive between six months and three years in prison for the crime, as well as a fine. All other acts linked to prostitution, including facilitating it and profiting from proceeds can get a person up to three years in jail. Adultery is also a crime, but one that unfairly penalises women more. Women who commit adultery can receive three years in prison, but for men it is six months, and only if it is done inside the home.

One way in which charges of prostitution can be avoided is through a temporary marriage-or nikah mut’ah. It is common in Muslim countries. For a specified period of time, which can be between hours and years, a couple is said to be married. This allows any sexual activity done in this time to be ‘legitimate.’ Payment is often involved, as is a dowry. The length of time of the marriage must be chosen beforehand and the father of the girl must give his consent if she has not been married before. It is said that Arab men often travel to Egypt for the summer and engage in these marriages. Both Western and Muslim feminists argue that this facilitates prostitution.

Arguments For and Against

Prostitution has its supporters and its critics. They make varying points based on personal views, religion, ideas of women’s rights, economics, and other things.

For:

Consenting Adults: Probably the most libertarian argument of the bunch, some contend that as long as it’s involving consenting adults, then what’s the problem? An argument is to be made that so long as both sides are consenting to sex, then it is a victimless crime. One must also remember that they are surely consenting to risks of pregnancy and STIs by this action and are thus unable to complain about said risks. Philosophically, it’s an argument of self-ownership of the body, and thus being able to do with it as one pleases. If we circle back to those involved being consenting adults, then there’s the argument.

Taxation: In Nevada, Sweden and The Netherlands amongst others, prostitutes are subject to income tax. Brothels are also subject to business tax in Nevada. From a purely economic standpoint, some would argue that this is just good business sense. By legalising prostitution, you’re creating an income stream that can be used like any other. Those taxes may go into welfare benefits for the prostitutes themselves, or other things such as schools and healthcare.

Safety and Justice: Proponents argue that if prostitution is legal or at least decriminalised, then prostitutes who have been raped, robbed etc will be able to go to the police. This is the case in New Zealand, as police will respond to prostitutes in distress. Those for legalisation argue that by keeping prostitution underground, those who are in genuine need of help will not reach out due to fear of being arrested themselves. That is, however, assuming police will be of any help. That said, it also could reduce the risks of clients doing anything bad, as they would be aware that there are consequences.

Health: With some prostitutes having been arrested after large amounts of condoms were found on them, some argue that criminalisation may decrease the sexual health of both prostitutes and clients. If a prostitute chooses to have sex without a condom, there’s a potential spread of STIs, both treatable and more serious. Furthermore, if it is legal, then outbreaks can be more easily traced and stopped. One might point to Nevada, with its mandatory testing, condom usage and barring violent customers.

Inevitability: Prostitution is, as has been previously said, often named the world’s oldest profession. It happens in poor and rich countries, conservative and liberal places, and in both peace and wartime. One only must see how widespread it is. Thus, one might argue that seeing as prostitution is essentially an inevitability, it might as well be legal and moderated. After all, centuries of illegality haven’t stopped it. That being said- a lot of things are inevitable.

Against:

Forced Prostitution: There’s no way to determine the amount of prostitutes forced into the job by trafficking, but the amount certainly isn’t zero. Legalisation, even with law enforcement backing, does not necessarily prevent trafficking. There’s a bit of back and forth as to whether legalisation increases or decreases trafficking, but the point stands that it will always be there. By legalising it, it seems almost certain that violent pimps and traffickers will not have more of an imperative to flood the market.

Class and Sex: The vast majority of prostitutes are women. Of those in the trade itself, a number are either trafficked or come at it from an economic standpoint. Those who are most at risk of trafficking or survival sex come from minority and poorer socio-economic backgrounds. This thus puts them at a disadvantage when being put with clients who have the ability to pay for their services. Is that not taking advantage of the most vulnerable?

Normalises: Much in the same way the ‘consenting adults’ justification is a libertarian argument, the next is more conservative in nature. One might say that legalising prostitution might normalise it. For some, normalising it is not an issue. For others, they may not want to normalise casual sex with strangers. This is especially true if the clients are married as it could serve as an outlet for adultery. In a feminist twist on the argument, one might say that it normalises a more powerful person paying for the body of a marginalised one.

Doesn’t Stop the Root Causes: There are numerous reasons as to why people enter prostitution. Some want to simply work at something they enjoy or take advantage of the potentially good pay. Others are victims of trafficking, survival sex, poverty, or addiction. Some argue that legalising prostitution does not get to those root causes. People may still enter prostitution because of those reasons even if it is legal. Would it be preferable to help those most in need?

Doesn’t Stop the Violence: Proponents of legalisation and decriminalisation argue that prostitutes are safer under those methods. Whilst that may or may not be true, it doesn’t prevent violence at all. One might point to the murder of Anna Louise Wilson, a New Zealand prostitute murdered after the client refused to wear a condom. Another might point to the fact a prostitute was murdered in a German brothel, the largest in the world.

What Do We Do?

When it comes down to it, it’s clear that there isn’t much of a consensus on prostitution. Despite the trend towards legalisation and decriminalisation, there are still those who oppose it.

Prostitution isn’t just a woman- or a man- having sex for money. It’s about choice, desperation, desire, and fear. There are those who see it as a job, whilst there are those who were forced into it. Some want to leave. There are pimps, brothels, websites, street corners and clients, not by sheer accident, but because supply is often preceded by demand.

Of course, we must listen to prostitutes themselves. They are the ones with first-hand experience of selling their bodies at great risks and under varying circumstances. Many have been victims of child sexual abuse, rape, domestic violence, and addiction. For those who are comfortable in their trade, legalisation and decriminalisation is considered a comfort. For others, it’s no safety blanket. Indeed, many supporters of prostitution uniformly view prostitutes as consenting participants whilst many opponents uniformly view them as victims of manipulation. Unfortunately, things aren’t that simple.

There are some reading this who will want prostitutes to be able to freely work without governments coming down on them. There are others who may be disgusted at the idea of the state sanctioning it. Whatever the case, one hopes that this article has helped them understand the dimensions of debate which surround this controversial and complex issue.


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Beware The British Dream

‘Dying societies accumulate laws like dying men accumulate remedies.

– Nicolás Gómez Dávila

On an economic, cultural, and political level, Britain has visibly become more American over the past few decades. Partially due to globalising processes which have occurred throughout the USA’s 30-to-40-year hegemony, the Americanisation of Britain is largely downstream from domestic decisions to ‘modernise’ the country. Possibly the most famous incident of Americanisation in recent British history was the creation of The Supreme Court, an artificial instalment of the Blair-Brown governments with precisely zero political or legal precedent, lacking any institution before it which can accurately or honestly be described as an official or spiritual predecessor.

Despite its arbitrary and fabricated existence, The Supreme Court has been reimagined as an ancient institution of Britain, and has visibly impacted the structure, practice, and direction of contemporary politics, from overriding the prorogation of Parliament to striking down the policy of an elected government as ‘unlawful’. Even basic political education has been contorted with irrelevant concepts and downright myths to assimilate this alien institution. Britain’s current and future leaders and representatives understand and articulate their nation’s political system through an American framework, believing Britain is founded on a Montesquieu-esque ‘separation of powers’ and has an ‘uncodified constitution’.

However, it’s abundantly clear the Americanisation process intends to contaminate much more than just the laws of Britain, but the spirit which said laws are meant to be derived and understood. Up until the early 2010s, the concept of ‘The British Dream’ simply did not exist. If one enters ‘The British Dream’ into Google’s Ngram Viewer, usage of the term is few and far between with static growth up until the early 2010s, throughout which the term skyrockets.

Loosely related ideas of social mobility and aspiration were well-established throughout preceding decades, but the specific notion of ‘The British Dream’ – as an explicit reference and/or equivalent to the American Dream, functioning as an integral, binding aspect of our national identity – really had no cultural, political, or academic significance. Before the 2010s, the small handful of instances in which The British Dream was mentioned usually referred to the non-existence of such a concept. In 2005, Boris Johnson said the UK had failed to articulate a British Dream comparable to the Americans, suggesting a key step towards realising such an ideal involves ensuring everyone in the UK speaks English.

Following the 7/7 Bombings, then-Conservative leader Michael Howard described The British Dream in aspirational terms, linking it to ideas of fairness, equality of opportunity, and the ‘need to break down the barriers that exist in too many people’s lives – and minds – that prevent or deter them from making a success of life.’ From what I’ve observed, a good chunk of the pre-2010 references to ‘The British Dream’ are directly referring to Michael Howard’s usage and understanding of the concept.

In 2007, the concept was described in similar terms by academic Professor George Rodosthenous, a specialist in musical theatre writing on the story of Billy Elliot. A story about a young boy escaping his Northern background, initially prevented by his uneducated, toxically masculine, Blue Labour trade unionist father, to become a London-based ballet-dancer and proud LGBTQI+ ally. Rodosthenous identified The British Dream as ‘a term which needs urgently a definition’, defining it as ‘the desire to do better than one’s own parents.’

Announcing his bid to lead UKIP in 2016, then-MEP Stephen Woolfe defined ‘The British Dream’ as ‘the chance to succeed in your life, no matter your postcode, your gender or the colour of your skin’, using his mixed heritage (Jewish mother, African-American father) and council estate upbringing as proof.

The concept is even used by high-ranking politicians. In her 2017 Conservative Party Conference speech, then-Prime Minister Theresa May promised to bring back ‘The British Dream’, defining it as the idea ‘each generation should do better than the one before it.’ Similar to Woolfe, she referenced her family background (specifically, her grandmother’s role as a domestic servant) to support the notion that upward mobility is central to Britain’s identity.

In a BBC interview discussing ‘The British Dream’ in 2017, Professor Pamela Cox, social historian at the University of Essex, reaffirmed this interpretation, stating: ‘The British Dream has come to stand for home ownership, having a secure job and a living standard higher than your parents.’

In an interview with The Telegraph in 2022, Conservative MP Nadhim Zahawi declared: ‘I am living the British dream’, having gone from an Iraqi child refugee to Chancellor of the Exchequer (albeit very briefly) and becoming one of several contenders (again, albeit very briefly) for Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader.

So where does the term come from? For the most part, present usage of The British Dream can be owed to David Goodhart’s book of the same name. Published in 2013, it documents the success and failures of post-war immigration to the UK. However, for the most part, the book is an extension of the ideas produced in previous works by Goodhart, so much so that prising them apart feels like splitting hairs.These works include ‘Too Diverse?’, a widely read essay for Prospect Magazine published in 2004, and ‘Progressive Nationalism’, a follow-up pamphlet published in 2006, the latter of which is particularly important, given that it constructs a ‘solution’ to present problems whilst the former is entirely analytical.

‘Politicians of the centre-left in Britain, and elsewhere in Europe, are trying to raise the visibility of national citizenship in response to growing anxieties about identity and migration in our more fluid societies – but they often do so defensively and uncertainly. Britain does need a clearer idea of citizenship and a robust protection of the privileges and entitlements associated with it. Indeed, an inclusive, progressive, civic British nationalism – comfortable with Britain’s multiethnic and multiracial character and its place in the European Union (EU) – is the best hope for preserving the social democratic virtues embodied in a generous welfare state and a thriving public domain.

Initially directed at the British centre-left, support for Goodhart’s proposal mostly stemmed from the Tory and Tory-adjacent right. Since 2017, Goodhart has been Head of the Demography, Immigration, and Integration Unit at Policy Exchange, one of several free market, centre-right think tanks. However, this shouldn’t be surprising. Despite hailing the ‘social democratic virtues’ of Britain, the thrust of Goodhart’s proposal is considerably (albeit, not entirely) Thatcherite in nature, making Trevor Phillips’ ‘liberal Powellite’ accusation correct in at least one regard.

Goodhart identifies himself as part of the broader post-liberal movement, of which Progressive Nationalism is but one of several ideological tendencies. I shall elaborate on post-liberalism (and my own personal issues with it) in a longer piece. The important point here is that post-liberalism is not anti-liberalism (as post-liberals will eagerly remind you) and aspires to make alterations – in their words, a ‘rebalancing’ of a lop-sided political order – within the prevailing paradigm of liberal-democratic capitalism; an arrangement perceived to have triumphed over all alternatives, thereby forming the basis of any supposedly legitimate arrangement.

As such, the compatibility of a post-liberal doctrine and Thatcherism (despite their widely publicised disagreements) shouldn’t come as a shock. Thatcher herself consistently defended the free-market for its ability to generate prosperity which could be taxed as revenue to fund and improve public services – the type of institutions Goodhart encourages us to unite around in an increasingly diverse society. Thatcher’s influence on the development of The Blob also goes hand-in-hand with this point, as does the ease by which Blair built upon her legacy, but I digress.

Intuitively, Progressive Nationalism seeks to shape a ‘progressive national story… about openness and opportunity’ – that’s the progressive element, enabled largely (albeit far from exclusively) by bringing immigration ‘down to more moderate and sustainable levels’ – that’s the nationalist element. Similar to other post-liberal projects, it pulls from both the centre-left and the centre-right, aspiring to reconfigure the content of the political centre within its pre-established ideological parameters.

In specific terms, Progressive Nationalism posits a strong state can and should provide cultural and economic security for the exclusive benefit and enjoyment of its citizens, ensuring a basic degree of monoculturalism in an otherwise liberal political order and a relatively generous welfare state in a broadly globalised free-market. Indeed, this doesn’t sound too bad, but a few details should be noted before going further.

Firstly, Progressive Nationalism (like many post-liberal tendencies) was explicitly designed to act as a containment strategy or ‘moderating’ ideology for the political centre; a comparatively liberal, inclusive, and civic alternative to potentially more conservative, tribalistic, and ethnocultural manifestations of nationalism:

‘The alternative to a mild, progressive nationalism is not internationalism, which will always be a minority creed, but either chauvinistic nationalism or the absence of any broader solidarities at all.

Secondly, unlike the more reactionary versions of nationalism that Goodhart dissuades against, Progressive Nationalism proclaims Britain’s transformation into a multi-ethnic society is both morally neutral and a foregone conclusion. For all the differences which exist across Goodhart’s work, such as his pivot away from describing an America-style national myth as ‘probably not possible to emulate… may no longer be possible either’ to the development of The British Dream, his belief that diversity is destiny remains a reliable constant. Marking the 20-year anniversary of ‘Too Diverse?’ in The Times, Goodhart maintains the necessity of creating a post-ethnic nation state with conclusive conviction:

‘I look at what is coming our way and I think we need the galvanising and unifying power of the post-ethnic nation state more than ever. We need it to lean against fragmentation as we head towards a 40 per cent minority population by 2050.

As such, the state must be willing and able to responsibly manage this transition, which Goodhart argues can and should be assimilated to the native populous by maintaining a high degree of economic development and conformance to fundamental liberal values, even among self-described non-liberals. In anti-political fashion, this would reduce the potential for non-liberal practices and convictions to develop into actual political or cultural challenges. thereby creating Division:

‘Diversity in itself is neither good nor bad, it is fairness that matters. Clearly, a developed, liberal society such as Britain can and does sustain a huge variety of beliefs and lifestyles, all of which are compatible with an adequate sense of Britishness. We do not all have to like each other or agree with each other or live like each other for the glue to work. As the philosopher David Miller has written:

‘Liberal states do not require their citizens to believe liberal principles, since they tolerate communists, anarchists, fascists and so forth. What they require is that citizens should conform to liberal principles in practice and accept as legitimate policies that are pursued in the name of such principles, while they are left free to advocate alternative arrangements. The same must apply to immigrant groups, who can legitimately be required to abandon practices that liberalism condemns, such as the oppression of women, intolerance of other faiths and so on.

Thirdly, finally, and unsurprisingly, Progressive Nationalism (despite its name) fundamentally does not regard Britain as a nation – a particular ethnocultural group – but as a state. That is, ‘Britain is (technically) not a nation at all but a state.’

Despite this, Goodhart is perfectly aware of the demographic implications of mass immigration, accepting the existence of homophily – ‘To put it bluntly, most of us prefer our own kind’ – even when concerned with a diverse in-group – ‘those we include in our in-group could be a pretty diverse crowd, especially in a city like London’ and that demographic change has been responsible for various forms of division (ghettoization, mutual resentment, political extremism, etc.). Moreover, far from being a defender of Britain’s policy of multiculturalism, Goodhart describes it as ‘overzealous’, dismissing the establishment’s previous attempts at promoting unity in a diverse society as insufficient at best: ‘The multi-ethnic success of Team GB at the 2012 Olympics and a taste for chicken tikka are not sufficient to forge common bonds.’

In fact, it is recognition, not ignorance, of immigration’s shortcomings that has given rise to a ‘Progressive Dilemma’ – the incongruence between social solidarity, diversity, and their respective benefits, as co-existing political priorities (i.e. immigration undermining the social trust necessary for a basic welfare state). Goodhart tries to resolve this dilemma by shifting the boundary of the political community from the nation to the citizenry, as recognised by the state. In this respect, Progressive Nationalism is distinctly anti-populist, especially anti-national populism, as a matter of political strategy and in its ideological details.

Whilst Populism attempts to recreate sense of peoplehood from the bottom-up, defining its boundaries in opposition to the elite – with National Populism doing so along the lines of a national group against an international elite – Progressive Nationalism attempts to recreate a sense of peoplehood from the top-down by adjusting pre-existing bureaucratic structures; that is, mechanisms which only exist as an expression of the primordial nation, something the Progressive Nationalist framework deliberately obfuscates by ‘blurring the lines between the civic and the ethnic.’

Conceding that a degree of exclusion being necessary for the existence of a state, Progressive Nationalism centres around the exclusivity of the state’s resources and benefits to those with bureaucratically sanctioned access, rather than the survival and self-determination of a particular ethnocultural group.

Having established this, Goodhart outlines several exclusionary measures to form the basis of a Progressive Nationalist state; benefits afforded exclusively to the citizenry, underscored by rituals which foster solidarity along post-national lines. For starters, A points-based immigration system to reduce illegal and lower-skill immigration, electronic embarkation controls, and an annual migration report created by an independent migration panel, are all fairly universal proposals amongst immigration restrictionists.

Additionally, Goodhart proposes tiered citizenship, comprised of those with ‘a more formal, full’ citizenship and those with ‘British resident status with fewer rights and duties’ for temporary immigrant workers without dependants. Immigrants would not be entitled to British citizenship, only to those who ‘worked their passage’. This so-called ‘passage’ includes a probationary period for citizenship, in which new arrivals would not qualify for full political and welfare rights but would be granted on completion, assuming one hasn’t committed a crime above ‘a certain degree of seriousness’. Such a process would be accompanied by citizenship ceremonies, rigorous citizenship and language tests, and oaths of allegiance, thereby ‘belatedly bringing Britain into line with much of the rest of the developed world, including the United States.’

By definition, residents (non-citizens) would not have the benefits of citizenship, especially ‘long-term benefits’ – pensions, social housing, etc. By contrast, not only would the citizenry have access to ‘generous welfare and thriving public services’, the identity and solidarity of the citizenry would arise from their shared access (and shared investment in the success of) these public services.

‘As society becomes more diverse and more affluent, our sharing of common spaces and institutions dwindles. Those public institutions that we do still share, such as education and health services, become more important.

However, access to public institutions rests on the proviso that citizens demonstrate ‘appropriate behaviour, such as the commitment to genuinely seek a job in return for unemployment benefit’ and seek social insurance over welfare payments wherever possible. Goodhart justifies this restrictiveness on the basis that open access to such resources is no longer feasible in a globalised and mobile society. It is also on this basis that Goodhart proposes the introduction of ID cards, both to track who is and isn’t in the country and to identify who is and isn’t entitled to state welfare.

Goodhart is very fond of ID cards, seeing them almost as a silver bullet to Britain’s problems. According to Goodhart, they can be a solution to Britain’s Progressive Dilemma, something which can be ‘a badge of Britishness which transcend our more particular regional, ethnic or racial identities’, and form of economic reassurance, claiming ‘identity cards… will demonstrate a commitment to using taxpayers’ money fairly’ and ‘ensure citizens that access to public services… is based on a protected entitlement.’

Moreover, by making the line between citizen and non-citizen more visible, which supposedly enables a fairer distribution of state resources, Goodhart suggests ID cards can mitigate any mutual resentment felt between minorities, who might otherwise ask for special treatment, and those of the majority group, especially those who felt ‘left behind’ in an age of globalisation. That said, Goodhart realises ‘much integration takes place spontaneously in private life’ especially in the ‘middle-class suburbs and professional and business life.’  As such, rather than directly intervening in people’s livelihoods, public authorities should provide positive incentives to mix and disincentives to separate to ‘ensure a high degree of trust-building contact’.

Such trust-building initiatives would include a ‘British Liberty Day’ (or simply Britain Day, in later references) to celebrate ‘the post-1689 Whiggish Liberal culture’ of ‘constitutionalism, rights and commerce’ and ‘a Whiggish story… from the Magna Carta to the race discrimination laws’ being taught at every level of education; one which would contextualise the ‘gradual extension of citizenship rights’ and establish Britain’s national myth as a nation of ‘brave islanders defending freedom against domestic tyrants and continental conquerors’, building a liberal fraternity between citizens of different backgrounds.

For the same reason, Goodhart argues ‘there should be a policy bias against faith schools’ and ‘a single national religious education curriculum which applies to faith schools’. Additionally, veils should be discouraged in public spaces and strong incentives directed at the south Asian community to find spouses in Britain, rather than returning to the subcontinent, as such a practice can ‘short-circuit the process of integration by bringing in spouses who are often completely new to Britain’s norms and language.’ Goodhart concedes ‘it is not appropriate for a liberal society to interfere directly in the marriage choices of its citizens, but it is appropriate for a liberal society to control who becomes a citizen.’

If it isn’t obvious by now, Goodhart defines British culture in explicitly liberal terms. True to post-liberal form, Progressive Nationalism is an attempt (albeit grounded in often astute observation; again, like many post-liberal tendencies) to insulate and maintain what is otherwise a vacuous political structure that risks being filled by forces which are perceived to be less-than-liberal overall.

What does any of this have to do with The British Dream? Simply put, The British Dream holds the Progressive Nationalist state together. Pulling on Bhikhu Parekh, a leading proponent of multiculturalism and arguably the most influential political theorist in Modern Britain, Goodhart argues ‘a primary emotional commitment to this place andits people’ is required to hold society together:

‘Societies are not held together by common interest and justice alone. If they were, the sacrifices that their members make for each other including sharing resources and giving up their lives in wars and national emergencies would be inexplicable. They need emotional bonding . . . that in turn springs from a common sense of belonging, from the recognition of each other as members of a single community. And that requires a broadly shared sense of national identity – a sense of who they are, what binds them together and makes them members of this community rather than some other.

Surprisingly, this emotional commitment isn’t the personalistic institution of the monarchy. Whilst it is viewed as a valuable resource, it is ultimately a secondary characteristic of the state. Instead of using it as a common institution to act as a lynchpin for a diverse citizenry, Goodhart attributes the value of the monarchy to its present popularity and little else, predicting the emergence of a ‘national republicanism with British characteristics’ which will hollow it out to a greater extent.

Rather, this emotional commitment is to the meritocratic power myth of The British Dream. Having failed to handle post-war immigration effectively, Goodhart argues we require ‘a national identity that feels meaningful, that is open to settled minorities and to newcomers and is completely ordinary – The British Dream in practice.’ In summary, it is a retroactive measure to an unwanted policy of mass immigration; an opportunity for the political class to save face and make the indigenous nation comfortable with an inherently uncomfortable arrangement by appealing to a universal desire for intergenerational progress; paradoxically, a specific place defined by its universalism.

In the small handful of references to ‘The British Dream’ throughout The British Dream in, Goodhart explicitly refers to the ability of Chinese and Indian individuals to enter high-status professional roles from low-status family backgrounds as the essence of the concept.

‘One test of who has been upwardly mobile and who hasn’t can be found on the British high street – in the corner shops and restaurants run by people of Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, and Chinese background. All four of those groups were overrepresented in self-employment on the high street in the first generation. Today, rates of self-employment have fallen quite sharply for those of Chinese and Indian background, as the next generation have gone on to become lawyers accounts and teachers – living The British Dream – whilst many Pakistanis and Bangladeshis remain in low status self-employment.’

That’s right, the height of Britishness is not being actually British, but being non-British and succeeding in Britain… something every British person famously does and wants. The British Dream is about being born to uneducated and paranoid provincialists – uppity Brexiteers who need to be assured (civilised) that the ongoing changes (destruction) to their country will be conducted slowly and prudently – and joining the educated, mobile, cosmopolitans in The City; shedding one’s heritage to the extent it becomes a hollow ornament to liven-up the corporate rat-race. In Goodhartian terms, going from a lowly Somewhere to a respectable Anywhere… just like Billy Elliot! Indeed, by these metrics, a person of non-British descent becomes more (spiritually?) British than a person of British background should the former be successfully dissolved into the laptop classes of London.

Counteracting liberalism’s crusade to the lowest common denominator of communal belonging, The British Dream reorients the political focus upwards, emphasising the shared desire for social mobility, without actively reversing the foundations on which this new orientation is constructed. In fact, besides a general concession to reduce immigration, Goodhart openly concedes to the direction of travel which has been occurring for the aforementioned 30-40 years: ‘Diversity can increasingly look after itself – the underlying drift of social and economic development favours it.’

Instead, it opts to bureaucratically insulate this new, lowly base of subsistence through moderate degrees of welfare chauvinism and social engineering. In no uncertain terms, it tries to bandage against the disintegration of the people without directly addressing the causes for such a process, wording the solution as a necessary measure, rather than a political choice:

‘It might seem odd to call a book that is in places about what a mess we have made of post-war immigration, The British Dream. But when a country is changing very fast, as Britain currently is, it needs stories to reassure and guide it. Unlike the American Dream, the British Dream is a phrase that does not trip off the tongue, the British tradition is more pragmatic than visionary. But it is time we started getting our tongue round the phrase.’

Is it? Must we change who we are to accommodate liberalism and its consequences? Bureaucratising the identity of an entire ethnocultural group to act as a barrier against social division and disorder that has been reversed countless times in other places on Earth? Is Britain’s claim to exceptionalism that it is the only country without a political class to prevent the collapse of a White British supermajority within these isles? If not for the entirely reasonable pursuit of national self-determination, then to reasonably attain any integrationist model that doesn’t run the risk of turning Britain into a larger version of London, where particularising diversity obviously hasn’t worked, despite the snobbish parochialism of self-described cosmopolitans. Indeed, this project places a lot of optimism in the state’s ability to manufacture solidarity through artificial forms of belonging which are supposedly more attractive than organic ones.

Much like the Windrush Myth, The British Dream shamelessly attempts to retroactively legitimise the growing migrant population in the minds of the masses, this much is obvious. However, even if this wasn’t the case, how do would such a myth help us understand ourselves when much of British history was absolutely not meritocratic or fluid? Needless to say, very few were living The British Dream in our own land when we built the Empire, or prior to the creation of the Union. The British Dream did not defeat the French at Trafalgar, the enemy did not cry ‘Sacre bleu! Fairness and openness have destroyed our frigates!’ – they feared men with names unlike their own, a language they did not understand, belonging to a different bloodline, flying a flag they did not recognise.

Overall, The British Dream, its related tendencies, and its consequences sound like a nightmare. Even on its own terms, what good is this ‘dream’ or any of its adjacent ideas, if it’s not something We desire, but a cackhanded imposition by sheer and supposed necessity? It is solution by comparison to malicious negligence, but a solution constructed on the concession of the British nation to its marginalisation, in the physical and the abstract, and its presumably ’inevitable’ demise. An easy, smooth, therapeutic demise, but its demise, nonetheless.


Photo Credit.

On the Alabama IVF Ruling

On the 19th February 2024, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that embryos created through IVF are “children”, and should be legally recognised as such. This issue was brought by three couples suing their IVF providers due to the destruction of their children while being cryogenically stored under an existing Death of a Minor statue in the state. This statute explicitly covered foetuses (presumably to allow for compensation to be sought by women who has suffered miscarriages or stillbirths which could have been prevented), but there was some ambiguity over whether IVF embryos were covered prior to the ruling that it applies to “all unborn children, regardless of their location”. It has since been revealed that the person responsible was a patient at the clinic in question, so while mainstream outlets have stated that the damage was ‘accidental’, I find this rather implausible given the security in place for accessing cryogenic freezers. It is the author’s own suspicion that the person responsible was in fact an activist foreseeing the consequences of successful Wrongful Death of a Minor lawsuit against the clinic for the desecration of unborn children outside the womb.

The ruling does not explicitly ban or even restrict IVF treatments; it merely states that the products thereof must be legally recognised as human beings. However, this view is incompatible with multiple stages of the IVF process, and this is what makes this step in the right direction a potentially significant victory. For those who may be (blissfully) unaware, the IVF process goes something like this. A woman is hormonally stimulated to release multiple eggs in a cycle rather than the usual one or two. These are then exacted and then fertilised with sperm in a lab. There is nothing explicitly contrary to the view that life begins at conception in these first two steps. However, as Elisabeth Smith (Director of State Policy at the Centre for Reproductive Rights) explains, not all of the embryos created can be used. Some are tossed due to genetic abnormalities, and even of those that remain usually no more than three are implanted into the womb at any given time, but they can be cryogenically stored for up to a decade and implanted at a later date or into someone else.

In this knowledge, three major problems for the IVF industry in Alabama become apparent. The first is that they will not be able to toss those which they deem to be unsuitable for implantation due to genetic abnormalities. This would massively increase the cost to IVF patients as they would have to store all the children created for an unspecified length of time. This is assuming that storing children in freezers is deemed to be acceptable at all, which is not a given as any reasonable person would say that freezing children at later stages of development was incredibly abusive. The second problem is that even if it is permitted to continue creating children outside of the womb and storing them for future implantation (perhaps by only permitting storage for a week or less), it would only be possible to create the number of children that the woman is willing to have implanted. This would further increase costs as if the first attempt at implantation fails, the patient would have to go back to the drawing board and have more eggs extracted, rather than trying again from a larger supply already in the freezer. The third problem is that, particularly if the number of stored children increases dramatically, liability insurance would have to cover any loss, destruction, or damage to said children, which would make it a totally unviable business for all but the wealthiest.

The connection between this ruling and the abortion debate has been made explicitly by both sides. Given that it already has a total ban on abortion, Alabama seems a likely state to take further steps to protect the unborn, which may spread to other Republican states if they are deemed successful. The states that currently also impose a total ban on abortion either at any time after conception or after 6 weeks gestation (where it is only possible to know of a pregnancy for 2 weeks) are Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, North Carolina, Arizona, and Utah. There are other states with an exception only for rape and incest, with some requiring that this be reported to law enforcement.

However, despite the fact that the ruling was made by Republicans appointed to their posts at the time of Donald Trump’s presidency, he has publicly criticised this decision saying that “we should be making it easier for people to have strong families, not harder”. Nikki Haley appeared initially to support the ban, but later backtracked on this commitment. In a surprisingly intellectually honest move, The Guardian made an explicit link between the medical hysteria on this topic and the prevalence of female doctors among IVF patients. Glenza (2024) wrote:

“Fertility is of special concern to female physicians. Residents typically finish training at 31.6 years of age, which are prime reproductive years. Female physicians suffer infertility at twice the rate of the general population, because demanding careers push many to delay starting a family.”

While dry and factual, this statement admits consciously that ‘infertility’ is (or at least can be) caused by lifestyle choices and priorities (i.e. prioritising one’s career over using ideal reproductive years in the 20’s and early 30’s to marry and have children), rather than genes or bad luck, and is therefore largely preventable by women making different choices.

I sincerely hope that, despite criticism of the ruling by (disproportionately female) doctors which a vested interest, the rule of law stands firm and that an honest interpretation of this ruling is manifested in reality. This would mean that for reasons stated above it will become unviable to run a profitable IVF business, and that while wealthy couples may travel out of state, a majority of those currently seeking IVF will instead adopt children, and/or face the consequences of their life decisions. Furthermore, I hope that young women on the fence about accepting a likely future proposal, pulling the goalie, or aborting a current pregnancy to focus on her career consider the long-term consequences of waiting too long to have children.


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