Archive for the ‘communism’ Category

India Cutting Evolution and Other important Scientific and Political Subjects from the Curriculum

June 6, 2023

‘The prestigious science journal, Nature, reported on 31st May 2023, that the Indian education authority is dropping several key scientific and political subjects from the education curriculum for pupils under 16. the magazine reported:

In India, children under 16 returning to school this month at the start of the school year will no longer be taught about evolution, the periodic table of elements or sources of energy.

The news that evolution would be cut from the curriculum for students aged 15–16 was widely reported last month, when thousands of people signed a petition in protest. But official guidance has revealed that a chapter on the periodic table will be cut, too, along with other foundational topics such as sources of energy and environmental sustainability. Younger learners will no longer be taught certain pollution- and climate-related topics, and there are cuts to biology, chemistry, geography, mathematics and physics subjects for older school students.

Overall, the changes affect some 134 million 11–18-year-olds in India’s schools. The extent of what has changed became clearer last month when the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) — the public body that develops the Indian school curriculum and textbooks — released textbooks for the new academic year that started in May.

Researchers, including those who study science education, are shocked. “Anybody who’s trying to teach biology without dealing with evolution is not teaching biology as we currently understand it,” says Jonathan Osborne, a science-education researcher at Stanford University in California. “It’s that fundamental to biology.” The periodic table explains how life’s building blocks combine to generate substances with vastly different properties, he adds, and “is one of the great intellectual achievements of chemists”.

Mythili Ramchand, a science-teacher trainer at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai, India, says that “everything related to water, air pollution, resource management has been removed. “I don’t see how conservation of water, and air [pollution], is not relevant for us. It’s all the more so currently,” she adds. A chapter on different sources of energy — from fossil fuels to renewables — has also been removed. “That’s a bit strange, quite honestly, given the relevance in today’s world,” says Osborne.’

Some material was cut from the curriculum last year in order to lighten it during the Covid pandemic. It was expected that it would be reinstated once the pandemic and the lockdown was over, but this hasn’t happened. Academics and educationalists appear perplexed by the decision, but it looks like it comes from the RSSS, the militant Hindu nationalist organisation linked to Modi’s BJP.

[Amitabh] Joshi says that the curriculum revision process has lacked transparency. But in the case of evolution, “more religious groups in India are beginning to take anti-evolution stances”, he says. Some members of the public also think that evolution lacks relevance outside academic institutions.

Aditya Mukherjee, a historian at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Dehli, says that changes to the curriculum are being driven by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a mass-membership volunteer organization that has close ties to India’s governing Bharatiya Janata Party. The RSS feels that Hinduism is under threat from India’s other religions and cultures.

“There is a movement away from rational thinking, against the enlightenment and Western ideas” in India, adds Sucheta Mahajan, a historian at Jawaharlal Nehru University who collaborates with Mukherjee on studies of RSS influence on school texts. Evolution conflicts with creation stories, adds Mukherjee. History is the main target, but “science is one of the victims”, she adds.’

See: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-023-01770-y

One of the other subjects cut from science teaching is a section ‘Why We Fall Ill’, which seems to me to be particularly wicked and dangerous. Everyone really needs to know about the causes of disease, regardless of their level of education or the country in which they live. This removal threatens to increase the incidence of disease in a country where many people lack access to medicine.

In an article from the previous day, 30 May, Nature reported the Indian education authority’s, NCERT’s, reasons for the changes

‘NCERT says that ‘rationalization’ is needed when content overlaps with material covered elsewhere in the curriculum, or when it considers content to be irrelevant. Moreover, India’s 2020 National Education Policy says that students need to become problem-solvers and critical thinkers, and it therefore advocates less memorization of content and more active learning.

NCERT also wants “a rootedness and pride in India, and its rich, diverse, ancient and modern culture and knowledge systems and traditions”. Some people interpret this as a motivation to remove the likes of Charles Darwin and Michael Faraday, and instead use the time to learn more about India’s precolonial history of science.’

But it comments

‘India is not the only postcolonial country grappling with the question of how to honour and recognize older or Indigenous forms of knowledge in its school curricula. New Zealand is trialling the teaching of Māori ‘ways of knowing’ — mātauranga Māori — in a selection of schools across the country. But it is not removing important scientific content to accommodate the new material, and for good reason.’

See: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-023-01750-2

It all reminds me of the furore back in the 1990s when Christian Creationists in Kansas banned evolution from being taught in their schools. The great comedian, the late Bill Hicks joked about it, saying ‘In many parts of our troubled world, people are crying ‘Revolution! Revolution’. In Kansas they’re shouting ‘Evolution! Evolution! We want our opposable thumbs’. There have been periodic concerns ever since about the teaching of evolution and Creationism in schools. Western scientists have been particularly worried about Creationism, or Creation Science, being taught as scientific fact. There was particularly controversy nearly two decades ago with the emergence of Intelligent Design, and the Discovery Institute. Intelligent Design accepts evolution, but considers that it has carried out by a God or other intelligent force that has actively intervened at specific points. One form of Intelligent Design, proposed by the cosmologist Fred Hoyle in his 1980s book, Evolution from Space, is that the creator may have been an extradimensional computer civilisation. For years discussions of Creationism and its supposed threat to science was chiefly confined to Christianity. There was some discussion of the rise of Islamic Creationism in Turkey, but from what I recall this was mostly confined to the internet. India at that time seemed not to be experiencing any similar concerns about evolution or other doctrines which may have challenged traditional religious teaching.

This looks very much like it’s going to damage India as an emerging global economic and technological force. Yes, the country has a millennia-old tradition of scientific and medical innovation, but the country has become a scientific powerhouse as well through embracing modern, western science, just as its neighbour China has done. I’ve been particularly struck by the country’s ambitious space programme, which has made some remarkable advances and has made India a space power. If these changes to its schools curriculum continue, I can see the tradition of scientific excellence that the country has done so much to build being severely handicapped.

I also note the similarity of its stance on the environment to various right-wing political lobby groups and think tanks to ban the teaching of environmentalism and climate change, and to make us all believe that the massive pollution of the environment by business isn’t happening and won’t cause permanent damage. Trump when he was in the White House passed legislation preventing the American environmental watchdog from publishing anything about climate change of the environment. This partly came from oil industry, whose own, astroturf climate organisations has a policy of buying up independent climate analysis laboratories and using them to turn out its own, anti-climate change propaganda.

Regarding the excision of material on politics, I’ve got the impression that India is trying to establish itself as the true home of democracy, looking back to its traditional village councils or panchayats. But there seems to be a more sinister purpose to the removal of chapters on democracy and diversity; political parties; and challenges to democracy, as well as a chapter on the industrial revolution for older students. It looks here like the BJP and its storm troopers are trying to stop India’s young people from acquiring the historical and political knowledge to understand how their country could be – or actually is – being taken towards authoritarianism and Fascism.

Vicious totalitarian governments of both left and right, from Hitler’s Germany to Stalin’s Russia, have all attacked and refashioned science, history and education as part of their programmes. Now it seems India, under the BJP, is also going down this path.

A Study of the Ideology Behind 1960s French Revolutionary Radicalism

June 1, 2023

Richard Gombin, The Origins of Modern Leftism (Harmondsworth: Penguin 1975)

The late 1960s saw a wave of radical ferment and agitation erupt in America and France. In America, the Students for a Democratic Society and other groups campaigned against the Vietnam War and for a radical reform of American society, while Black civil rights activists like Martin Luther King and Malcolm X demanded the end of segregation and improved conditions for Black Americans. This radical agitation was marked by race riots and left-wing terrorism by groups like the Weathermen. I think that most people on this side of the Atlantic are probably more familiar with the American situation than the French through the close ties between Britain and America in the Special Relationship. But France also experienced a wave a radical unrest beginning with the occupation of the Sorbonne by radical students in 1968. These then established contacts with ordinary workers, who struck in sympathy, and there was a wave of wildcat strikes. By the end of the decade and the early 1970s, sections of the radical left were turning to kidnapping and terrorism. Although the French revolutionary activism of these years may be less-well known, it has nevertheless impressed itself on British memory and culture. The left-wing French director, Jean-Paul Godard, produced a film about the agitation and unrest around Jagger and the Stones preparing to record ‘Sympathy for the Devil’. The Sex Pistol’s manager, Malcolm McLaren, spuriously claimed to have been a member of the Situationists, one of the radical groups involved in the unrest. And the ideas of ideologues like Guy Debord have found a readership and supporters among the British left. Way back in the 1980s there was a volume of revolutionary texts from 1968 published, I think, by the Socialist Workers Party. And the radical unrest and its turn to terrorism is covered by Guardian columnist Francis Wheen in his book on ‘70s paranoia.

Gombin was an academic attached to the Centre de la Recherche Scientifique. His book isn’t a history of the revolutionary movement of the late 60s in France, but an examination of its ideology. He calls this ‘Leftism’ and contrasts it with ‘extremism’, which is how he terms radical Marxism. This is the extreme left-wing Marxism, often Trotskyite, which approaches or has some of the ideas and attitudes of the Leftists, but does not go as far as them by rejecting Marxism. And ‘leftism’ itself could be described instead as post-Marxism. Gombin explains that Marxism came late to France, and as a result the gap of a quarter of century or so until French intellectuals and activists caught up with the radical experiments and revision of Marxism carried out by the German, Hungarian and other eastern European Communists and radical socialists in the council and communist revolutions of 1919 and the early 1920s. The revelations of the horrors of Stalin’s brutal dictatorship in the USSR, the gulags and the purges, came as a shock to left-wing intellectuals in France and elsewhere. The Communist party had uncritical accepted the lie that the former Soviet Union was a workers’ paradise. In response to these revelations, some Marxist intellectuals like Sartre condemned the purges and gulags, but otherwise remained faithful to the Communist party. Others went further and joined the Trotskyites. But a few others were moved to use Marx’s critical methods to examine Marxism itself, and rejected many of its central doctrines.

The revolutionary movement was led by a number of different groups, such as Socialism ou Barbarie, Rouge et Noire, the Situationists and radical trade unions like the CFDT, which had originally been set up a social Catholic organisation separate from the socialist trade unions. There seems to have been no overarching ideology, and indeed the radicals explicitly rejected any ideology that sought to dictate the course of the revolution. Nevertheless, there were a set of key ideas and attitudes shared by these groups. This rejected all hierarchies, those of modern, capitalist society, the trade union leadership and the patriarchal family, as well as the education and university system. They adopted wholeheartedly Marx’s slogan that the emancipation of the working class should be done by the working class, while also creating new ideas responding to the new welfare state and affluent society.

The viewed Marxism and trade unionism as a response to the conditions of the 19th century, when the working class had to concentrate on winning concessions from the capitalists and authorities in order to survive. However, the establishment of the welfare state had removed the threat of death and deprivation, and so the workers could now move on to the task of reforming society itself. The expanded Marx’s doctrine of alienation so that it didn’t just cover capitalism’s alienation of the worker from the goods he produced, and the latter’s fetishization, but also the alienation created by the affluent society. People’s real needs and desires were suppressed, and false needs created instead. Work should be playful, but instead the worker suffered boredom.

They also considered that there was a fundamental similarity between the capitalist west and the Soviet bloc, which resulted in them calling the USSR’s brand of state socialism ‘State capitalism’ in contrast to the ideal socialism in which society would be run by the workers. Communist rule in Russia had not liberated the workers, but instead created a new governing class. Unlike western capitalism, the Communist bureaucracy did not own the properties and industries they directed, but otherwise held the same power and privilege that in the west was held by the capitalist elites and industrialists. Changes in capitalism had also resulted in a cleavage between those who owned the companies, and those who directed and managed them. As a result, the struggle in the west was between workers and directors, not workers and owners. Soviet Communism was dubbed state capitalism as it was held the bureaucratic socialism of the USSR resembled that of western capitalism, the difference being that in the Soviet bloc all industries were owned by the state rather than private capitalists. One ideologue, Burnham, considered that Fascism and Communism were both examples of ‘state collectivism’, with the difference between the two being that private industry was retained under Fascism. Burnham was a vicious anti-Semite, and had previously urged the workers to unite with the Fascists against the Jews.

The radicals also rejected critical Marxist doctrines like dialectal materialism and its claim to have produced a science of capitalist development. In his later writings, Marx had believed that he had uncovered the sociological laws that would lead capitalism inevitably to give way to socialism. The Leftists rejected this because it was removed the voluntarist element from revolutionary activity. Instead of revolutionaries deliberately setting out to overturn capitalism and usher in the new socialist society, this attitude instead that all they needed to do was wait for it all to happen on its own. In their view, this attitude was closer to the evolutionary socialism of Bernstein than the Marxism of 1848. They rejected Lenin’s doctrine of a centralised party of active revolutionaries, because the workers on their own could only attain trade union consciousness. This, according to the Leftists, had resulted in a bureaucratic class that ruled over the workers, and was certainly not the vanguard of the working class as it was declared to be by Lenin. They did, however, believe in some kind of central party or organisation, but this would only be to guide and suggest possible ideas and actions, not to dictate a revolutionary programme. And all revolutionary ideas and policies should be subjected to the rigorous test of whether they worked in practice. If they did, they were true. If not, they were ‘ideology’, used in the same sense of Marx’s ‘false consciousness’. The revolutionary could only be carried out by the conscious will of the workers, as they became aware of their mission to reform society, independent of any ideas of social progress or objective historical conditions. There was therefore a radical subjective aspect to their conception of revolutionary activism in opposition to Marx’s ideas of historical progress according to object material conditions. Some of them also challenged Marxism-Leninism’s materialism, in which consciousness arose from matter and was merely matter reflecting itself. This got them attacked as ‘Idealists’ by the Communists.

They rejected the patriarchal family as an institution which brought up and trained the worker to accept hierarchical authority and his position in society as a worker, as well as the sexual repression that resulted from the prohibition of extra- and premarital sex. In fact, the student revolt that sparked the ferment started with a question about this by a student at the Sorbonne to a visiting government minister, who come to open the university’s swimming pool. The student also queried him about the university’s rules against male students entering the women’s halls. Well, as the poet once said, sexual intercourse was invented in 1963.

As for the institutions that should be used by the workers to govern politically and manage industry, there seems to have been a difference of ideas. Some, like the Dutch astronomer and Marxist Pannekoek, argued for worker’s councils like the German Raterevolution of 1919. Others refused to speculate, except to state that they should be created by the workers in response to the conditions of the time and the situations they were faced with. Regarding the conduct of the strikes, these were carried out through workers’ meetings on the shop floor, who would then elect a strike committee that would then take their grievances and demands to management. Some observers felt that this harked back to France’s native socialist and revolutionary traditions that predated Marx. The shop floor meetings were, in their view, related to that of the sections during the French Revolution.

Apart from these political and industrial ideas and aspirations, there were also a set of revolutionary ideas about the proper reform of the arts. These looked back to the attacks on official art by the Dadaists and Surrealists, but felt that they had failed in their mission to create an anti-art. They therefore looked forward to a new, revolutionary society in which everyone would be an artist or a poet.

Well, the revolutionary agitation passed with the sixties and first years of the 1970s. Wheen seems to suggest that it ended when one group was about to bomb a millionaire’s yacht but finally drew back. Nevertheless, the terrorism carried on over this side of La Manche with the IRA in Northern Ireland and in Britain by the Angry Brigade, an anarchist group. In France the anarchists, syndicalists and Anarcho-Syndicalists were largely excluded from the revolutionary movement. Some of this was due to the antagonism between anarchists and Marxists and to the isolation of the anarchist groups themselves. By 1968 these had declined in membership and largely confined themselves to keeping the flame alive and commemorating great anarchist revolutionaries of the past, such as the Ukrainian Nestor Makhno.

The revolutionary movement of 1968 is now over fifty years in the past, overtaken in Britain and America by Reagan and Thatcherism. These two started a political counterrevolution aimed at preventing such a situation ever happening again. The right-wing, if not reactionary philosopher, Roger Scruton, said in an interview in the Spectator that he had been a socialist. But he was in France during the revolutionary movement, and was horrified by their ‘anti-civilizational rage’. The ideologues of the period still have an influence in the radical left. People are still reading and gaining inspiration from Debord’s The Society of the Spectacle, for example. I think they also exerted an influence on the anti-capitalist movement of the ‘90s and noughties. Their protests had a deliberate carnivalesque aspect, with costumed marches, puppets and so on, which seems to have drawn on the ideas of the Situationists and other revolutionaries.

I strongly believe, however, that the leftist rejection of the family has had a profoundly negative effect on western society. The Tory right loathes Roy Jenkins because of the socially liberal legislation he introduced in the late 60s Labour government. This decriminalised homosexuality and made divorce easier. Jenkins was certainly not as socially radical as the revolutionaries across the channel. In 1982 he, Shirley Williams and David Owen left the Labour party to form the SDP on the grounds that the party under Michael Foot was now too left wing. Still, the Daily Heil once denounced him as the man who had ruined Britain. Jenkins probably had completely different motives for his legislation than the Revolutionaries. In Britain the movement for the legalisation of homosexuality had started, or at least had the support, of Winston Churchill. Churchill had been worried about the danger of gay ministers, civil servants and others establishment figures being blackmailed by the Soviets because of their sexuality. As for divorce, I think this came from the humane desire to stop people being trapped in unhappy, loveless marriages, especially to brutal, violent partners. John Mortimer in his one-man show in the ‘90s recalled that before Jenkins’ reforms, the only cause for divorce was adultery. There was one man, who was so desperate to divorce his wife, that he came home in different hats so that people would think she was being unfaithful.

Unfortunately, there were radical activists, hostile to the institution of marriage and the traditional family. I can remember a pair who turned up on an edition of the lunchtime magazine programme Pebble Mill in the 1970s to present their views, much to the disgust of many of the programmes’ viewers. The result has been a rise in fatherless families. I am very much aware than many unmarried mothers have done an excellent job of raising their children, but the general picture is grim. Children from fatherless homes perform less well at school and get poorer, lower-paid jobs. They are more likely to turn to crime, do drugs and engage in promiscuous sex. Many Black activists are particularly concerned about this and the way these issues are especially acute in their community.

As for workers’ control, I would love a degree of it introduced into industry, but not to the exclusion of parliamentary democracy. And while the radicals have a point in that trade unions hierarchies have frequently acted to stifle revolutionary activism by the workers, trade unionism as a whole was tarnished by the wildcat strikes that broke out against the wishes of the union leadership. It’s resulted in the caricature of union activism presented by the Tories in which Britain was held hostage to the union barons and its economy and industry weakened by their strikes. We desperately need a revival of trade union power to protect workers, especially with Sunak and the rest of them preparing to scrap the EU legislation protecting workers’ rights.

And with an ever-growing number of people in Britain relying on food banks to stave off starvation, because the Tories have wrecked the welfare state, we’ve gone back to the early conditions of the 19th and early 20th centuries, when trade unionism and other forms of working class activism are very much a matter of survival.

On the plus side, I think the revolutionary movement has left a tradition of radical working class activism, which is no longer confined to either left or right. French working people seem much less willing to put up with government dictates than Brits, as shown in the Yellow Vest protests and the marches and riots against Macron raising the official retirement age. This has been admired by many Brits, including YouTube commenters and people on talk show phone-ins. We really need some of that spirit over this side of the Channel.

There is no doubt, from the position of democratic socialism, that the radicals went too far. Nevertheless, the continue to inspire members of the radical left with rather more moderate aims now protesting against predatory, exploitative capitalism, the exploitation of the environment, and racism, although this is not an issue that the book considers. Nevertheless, it was there, at least in the views and campaigns of post-structuralist Marxist activists.

JP on Whether Gays Are Abandoning Pride

May 30, 2023

Yesterday I put up a piece wondering if gay Americans and Brits were abandoning Pride and some of the mainstream gay organisations. This followed a video on YouTube of the operations manager of the group Gays Against Groomers angrily tearing apart the gay flag. Gays Against Groomers was set up to combat the gender ideology being taught to children, which they feel is a form of indoctrination and sexual predation. Instead of the Pride flag, the man pointed to the American flag as the banner which represented gays and all Americans.

Barry Wall, the EDIJester, and Clive Simpson and Dennis Kavanagh of the Queens’ Speech podcast, are gender critical gay YouTubers. They are extremely critical of the mainstream organisations for their focus on trans rights to the exclusion of ordinary gay men and women. They also feel that the trans ideology has become a new form of eugenics and gay conversion therapy by encouraging gender nonconforming young people, who in most cases would pass through their dysphoria to grow up to be ordinary gays, to transition, rather than accept their natal sexual identity. And many gays are also saying that they aren’t going to Pride marches because of the overt displays of kink and fetish.

JP, one of the great commenters on this blog, posted his perspective on this issue from across the Pond. He writes

‘Well yea, I haven’t been to a Pride parade in … over a decade. The weekend of events were drunk Allies and naked people walking streets. I imbibe and defend adult’s choosing to go to nude beaches and the like, but when those happen in public … where children are brought by their parents these parades?! Mardi Gras in New Orleans was more tame than Pride in Chicago, and Mardi Gras isn’t tauted as being a posterchild of family-friendly events. Pride events weren’t something to be proud about if the intention is to support family-friendly storytime.

Don’t be too surprised by LGBs in America not all supporting a liberal agenda. So-called Log Cabin gays have been politically active conservatives for decades. It was the Log Cabins who challenged President Clinton in court over his Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy for the US military. The irony with Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is that “liberals” went along with an anti-liberal policy. It’s another example of how liberal parties do not defend democratic freedoms. It’s good to hear that some LGBs are aware and don’t just fall in-line stereotyped gender and sexuality politics.

The problem for straights in these debates is not seeing similar politicing, like supporting so-called “family values”. Jim Crow laws defended the “family values” of banning interracial marriages in the US. Hopefully today’s straights would not fall in-line with mid-20th century politics about that.’

There’s a gay American writer and blogger, whose name escapes me at the moment, who has stated that as a demographic group, gays are largely Conservative, believe very much in fiscal responsibility and have a strong sense of loyalty to the companies that employ them. He called this ‘the Smithers Syndrome’, after Mr Burns’ intensely loyal secretary from The Simpsons. This is very different from the image of the gay milieu given by radical gay groups, such as the mock order of nuns, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, who were at the centre of controversy a day or so ago when they were disinvited from appearing with the Dodgers’ sports team.

Related to this, the American chain store Target has been forced to scale down its display of trans clothing. Part of the scandal there is that the clothes were designed by a Satanist, and included messages like ‘Satan Loves You’ and ‘Satan Loves Your Pronouns’. The stores were ordered to take this merchandise to a room a third of the planned display in size. They were afraid the controversial clothing would result in them being on the receiving end of the same kind of boycott that has knocked billions of sales off Bud Light after the brewery made the mistake of choosing transwoman Dylan Mulvaney to promote it.

The Satanism here seems to come from the Church of Satan and the Satanic Temple, neither of which believe in Satan as a real, personal force of supernatural evil. Instead they identify Satan with the promotion of the self and its desires, which they view as liberating. The Satanic Temple has been around for years performing stunts intended to infuriate Conservative Christians. After the community in one American town put up a stone inscribed with the 10 Commandments in front of their courthouse to symbolise justice, they put up a statue of Baphomet. When another American town put up a crib to celebrate Christmas, they put up one with a baby Satan. They come across as a radical atheist/secularist group determined to attack the Christian right and the public promotion of Christianity. I also wonder if the clothing’s Satanism was also partly inspired by the rapper Lil Nas. Nas is gay, and is another pop star who has cultivated a Satanic image. One of his videos has him twerking in front of Lucifer in hell. I did wonder if Target had launched the clothing hoping capture the market offered by young, edgy LGBTQ+ peeps who listen to him and similar pop artists. If so, all they’ve succeeded in doing, it seems to me, is provoke a reaction against the store, especially as it came after the controversy that erupted a few days earlier when it was revealed that several of the speakers at a Satanist convention were trans rights activists. I can understand some of this desire to insult and provoke. It’s a reaction to the splenetic homophobia in sections of the Christian right, though to be fair, the Republican party as a whole seems to have become quite pro-gay and now accept gay marriage.

As for Bill Clinton and his sort-of legalisation of homosexuality in the US armed forces, this was intensely controversial for the Christian right when it was passed. I can remember reading a passage in the book Mind Siege, which is all about the way left-wing ideas are taking over America. This accused Clinton of ‘sodomizing the American military’. This boggled my mind! What! All of them! Where did he get the energy? And what do Hillary and Monica Lewinsky have to say about it? Of course, they then explain that they mean it metaphorically, not literally. It is interesting hearing another perspective on this issue, and I hadn’t known he was challenged about it by the Log Cabin Republicans.

As for the family and family values, I very much believe that the traditional family needs strengthening. The statistics for Britain, like America, show that children from fatherless homes generally perform less well at school, progress as well economically or professionally and are more likely to become criminals, do drugs and engage in promiscuous sex. Of course, this is a general view – there are also any number of single mothers, who have done an excellent job of raising their kids. But I believe that it is possible to do this without promoting homophobia or prejudice or discrimination against gays. I recall that something similar was done a few years ago to a family values group in Yorkshire. This was reformed so that it genuinely worked to strengthen family after they’d kicked out the old guard, who had ‘some funny ideas’ and seemed to have used it as a tool for attacking gay rights.

The EDIJester in one of his videos also sharply criticised one of the trans rights activists, who appears on TickTock. This individual told his audience of young people, that if their families didn’t accept their gender identity, they should cancel them and having nothing more to do with them. The Jester was furious because young gays have been hurt by their parents disowning them, and considered this grossly irresponsible. There were gay organisations in Bristol that worked to help young gays left homeless after being thrown out by their parents. And some of the best stories from gay YouTubers have been about how young gay people were able to keep the love and support of their parents after coming out, or had succeeding in reconciling themselves and their families. Obviously, there should be more of this than victimisation and prejudice.

As for the stifling of civil liberties and freedom of speech, I see this as coming from both the left and the right. In Britain the Conservatives are trying to pass laws severely limiting the freedom to protest and for workers to strike. At the same time, the hate speech laws have been expanded so that they’re severely limiting what may be said in public. Today’s news has included coverage of the case of Kathleen Stock, a lesbian and a gender critical feminist academic. She lost her place at one university due to student protests that branded her transphobic, and there were similar protests when she spoke at the Oxford Union. As a result, Oxford Student Union has cut ties with the Oxford Union. And other academics and ordinary women with similar views have also suffered similar protests and harassment. James Lindsay, who is one of a group of academics alongside Peter Boghossian and Helen Pluckrose, who are particularly active fighting woke ideology, has said that this intolerance is no accident. It comes from the ‘repressive tolerance’ advocated by the ’60s radical philosopher Herbert Marcuse. Roughly translated, it means that freedom of speech should only be extended to those on the radical left, while their critics should be silenced. Lindsay describes himself as a liberal, by which he appears to mean someone who stands up for their traditional liberal values of freedom of speech, individualism and Enlightenment rationality. He is, however, vehemently anti-Communist, though possibly not without reason. Helen Pluckrose also describes herself as a liberal and someone who believes in those values, but also has socialist beliefs. And the other day looking through the internet I found a book by a left-wing author on how the Left can fight woke.

It therefore seems to me that countering the intolerant, extremist ideologies that have been called ‘woke’ – Queer Theory, Critical Race Theory, Postcolonial Theory and so on and the attempts of their supporters to silence reasoned criticism and debate isn’t either a left-wing or right-wing issue. It’s one that concerns people on both sides of the political spectrum, who are concerned about preserving Enlightenment values of free debate, rationality and the individual.

Momentum Warn Starmer that Purging the Left Could Cost Him Voters

May 23, 2023

I’ve just found this piece from the I by Chloe Chaplain reporting that Momentum have warned Starmer that he could lose votes from purging his party’s left and pointing to their own electoral successes to show that Labour can still win with left-wing policies. He’s also been warned that he cannot rely on the Tories’ implosion to secure a Labour victory.

Purging the left and ditching socialism could see Labour lose voters, Sir Keir Starmer warned

Sir Keir Starmer has been warned he risks alienating core Labour voters who could stay home and not vote if he turns his back on socialism ahead of the general election.

The left of his party are pointing their own local election successes as evidence that a radical agenda can be attractive to voters. And others are warning Sir Keir of the danger of losing out to apathy.

The Labour leader has made a considerable shift to the centre since taking charge, with appeals to former Tory voters who could be tempted to swing to his party. In doing so, he has pulled power away from the vocal left-wing of his party that had dominated under his predecessor Jeremy Corbyn.

As the general election draws closer, and with Labour’s final policy agenda being drawn up, left wing campaigners and MPs are pushing to stop the leadership turning its back entirely on pledges they argue are very popular among voters.

The campaign group Momentum argues that the results in the local elections, which saw the Labour pick up a handful of significant councils but remain short of a majority in several target areas, prove Sir Keir cannot rely on the implosion of the Tory vote along to win a majority in the Commons.

It cites the Labour administration in Worthing, West Sussex – where Momentum co-chair Hilary Schan was elected as a councillor – and successes in Broxtow, Nottinghamshire, and Preston, Lancashire as examples of a socialist policy platform winning votes. They argue that, if he continues on his current path of “purging” left-wing candidates and policies he could lose support in areas like these.

Ms Schan said the three authorities were a “a living, breathing demonstration that there is no trade-off between electability and transformative policies”.

“As a general election closes in, the Labour leadership has a chance to lay out a bold programme to fix the Tories’ broken Britain. Choosing to instead pursue yet more purges and division will only weaken our electoral coalition and damage prospects of a Labour majority,” she said.’

See: https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/other/purging-the-left-and-ditching-socialism-could-see-labour-lose-voters-sir-keir-starmer-warned/ar-AA1byC1M?ocid=msedgdhp&pc=U531&cvid=1184f029167a4c0c8267ef811cf5256a&ei=50

I’m glad this is being pointed out to Starmer and that it’s got what appears to be a neutral report in the I. As opposed to the right-wing press, which will probably report this with headlines screaming that it’s another attempt by Corbynite anti-Semitic Trots to keep their hold on Labour. But I have absolutely no doubt that Starmer won’t listen, and will carry on purging the left.

As for New Labour’s right-wing policies appealing to Tory voters, this needs to be qualified. The public ownership campaign group We Own It has cited statistics again and again showing that the British public, including a majority of Tory voters, want the utilities taken back into public ownership. What is stopping this isn’t public opinion but Thatcherite ideology and the media and political establishment, which will seek to demonise and undermine any politician that seeks to press for such policies.

Liz Truss Calls for an Economic NATO Against the Rising Power of China

May 17, 2023

That’s the title of a video I found while perusing YouTube this morning. I didn’t watch it, because there’s only so much you can take of people like Liz Truss. But I found it highly ironic coming from Truss, as something like it was the original point of the EU. From what I remember from school, the European Economic Community, as it then was, was set up to protect Europe from economic domination by America and the Soviet bloc. Communism collapsed in eastern Europe in the 90s, but it wouldn’t have taken much to adapt the European Union to protect the continent and its industries from China. I doubt that this would have been quite what Truss would have wanted, as the mention of NATO indicates that the she probably wants it to include America and Canada and possibly other nations outside Europe. But it does seem to me that when the Brexiteers attack the EU, they are attacking the institution that could protect Europe from growing Chinese global power. This is clearly beginning to worry them, or at least Truss, but I don’t think they’re bright enough to realise this.

No, Starmer Isn’t Ditching Wokeness, But Attacking the Tories for Opposing It

May 10, 2023

Okay, I’ve got to confess to making another mistake. Earlier today I put up a piece reporting that Starmer had told the leaders of the Labour party that people weren’t interested in woke, and condemned the Tories for being ‘out of touch’. This had been covered in a video put out by That Preston Journalist. I watched it and got the wrong end of the stick. He seemed to me to be saying that Starmer had decided that woke policies weren’t appealing to the public and was ready to ditch them. At the same time I thought that Starmer was also attacking that part of the Conservative party that is woke.

How wrong I was! It seems Starmer isn’t prepared to ditch ‘woke’ at all. He just doesn’t think that voters care enough about it to vote against Labour because of it. Instead they’re more interested and concerned about the NHS and the cost of living. When he said that Sunak and the Tories were out of touch, he meant that they failed to appreciate that these issues took precedence over the woke policies Starmer is promoting and defending and that the British public generally didn’t share their concerns about woke policies. This is how it’s been interpreted by GB News and their presenters.

Before I go further, let’s try and unpack what is meant by the term ‘woke’. Gillyflower, one of the great commenters here, remarked that I should refresh my memory over what it means. As I understand it, it’s Black slang meaning being awake to injustice. Looking at how it’s now being used, it seems to have replaced the old term ‘political correctness’ for extreme and intolerant anti-racist, feminist, anti-homophobic and anti-transphobic views. More narrowly, it’s being used to describe the various Critical Social Justice ideologies derived from the Postmodernist, Critical Theory revision of Marxism which narrowly sees societal issues through the lens of privilege and oppression. These differ from previous forms of anti-racism, feminism and so on in rejecting individualism. In Critical Race Theory, all Whites are privileged because of their skin colour and the fact that some Whites are less privileged than some Blacks is ignored. It isn’t enough to be non-racist, and judge people on their merits and character regardless of race. You must be positively anti-racist and fight against White privilege and for Black uplift through social programmes that demand the granting of opportunities to Blacks and other underprivileged minorities simply because of their colour. For example, in America Black and Mexican students generally do less well at Maths at school than Whites and Asians. So some schools in California are trying to even these results out by giving pre-calculus lessons only to Black and Hispanic students to the exclusion of Whites and Asians.

In the eyes of GB News’ Mike Graham, however, woke means just about every anti-racist, feminist, environmentalist and radical gender view or ideology. Yes, he conceded, people did care about the NHS and the cost of living, but people also cared about: woke teacher telling kids there were 73 genders, environmental protesters gluing themselves to the road, petrol and diesel cars being phased out in favour of electric vehicles, and the cost of power rising due to green energy policies. And so on.

Piers Morgan also did a piece about whether people cared about ‘woke’. This included Reform’s Richard Tice and a woman from the Labour party. Unsurprisingly, Morgan and Tice believed that people did care about ‘woke’. The lady from Labour didn’t. She didn’t like biological men being allowed into women’s private spaces and sports, nor rapists in female prisons, when asked by the former editor of the Mirror. He replied with, ‘Ah, but they’ve prevented you from talking about this’. She replied that they hadn’t, and she’d been talking about it for a year or so. This contrasts with the case of Rosie Duffield, who has been isolated and shunned by Starmer and other senior Labour members for her views. I can’t remember whether the lady believed that people didn’t care about woke policies, or did, but that they were far more concerned about the cost of living and the NHS. I think Morgan had claimed that it was because Labour was pushing these woke policies that it looked like they would not have an absolute majority at the election next year.

My guess is that the Labour lady is probably right. People are directly affected by the cost of living, and wondering how they will afford food, heating and their rent or mortgages. The latter was one of the major issues on the local news tonight in Bristol, which has been revealed as the most expensive city outside London. One woman spoke of how she had been forced to move back in with her parents after the landlord raised the rent by 66 per cent. And they are very much concerned about getting hold of a doctor, thanks to all the wonderful privatisation that Rishi’s so proud of. These are issues that immediately affect everyone. I’m not sure how many people are aware of the debate over transgenderism, let alone so concerned that it affects the way they vote. Some are, and it may become a more important issue in the public consciousness by the time the next election comes round.

But Starmer’s less than exciting performance can also be blamed on other problems apart from the ‘woke’. Like he broke every promise and pledge he made, and has done his level best to purge the left. Corbyn’s policies were genuinely popular, and he enthused and inspired the public in a way Starmer can’t. The turnout at the local elections was low, and my guess is that many of the people Corbyn had appealed to didn’t vote. They had been alienated by a party leadership that was actively hostile to them and which to many people just offers the usual Tory policies, or something not too different from them. Tice, I think, said that Labour’s woke policies wouldn’t appeal to the socially conservative voters of the red wall. He might be right, though if they do become disenchanted with Labour, it’ll be far more to do with the lack of proper, old-style, socialist Labour policies.

And that will apply to the rest of the country.

David Lammy Tells Britain Labour Will Not Repeal Tory Legislation. Why Vote for Them Then?

May 9, 2023

David Lammy was on LBC Radio yesterday, and gave an answer to an interview question that left many listeners stunned. Kernow Damo has put up a piece about it on his vlog, as has Maximilien Robespierre, the smooth-voiced Irish vlogger. The Met’s heavy-handed policing of the Coronation and its arrest of 62 anti-monarchy protesters, simply for protesting, has raised questions about both the Met’s conduct and the Tory legislation allowing them to clamp down so hard on peaceful protesters. People are concerned about the draconian laws curbing protests and strikes. Lammy was asked if Labour intended to repeal this legislation. ‘No,’ he said, ‘because otherwise we’d spend all our time just repealing Tory legislation.’ This left Robespierre thoroughly gobsmacked. Because people are voting Labour in the hope that they’ll revrerse the Tory legislation allowing the water companies to dump raw sewage into our waterways and seas, stop the running down of the NHS, the impoverishment our great, hard–pressed and underappreciated working people. Now Lammy says that Labour doesn’t intend to do any of that. Robespierre raises the obvious point that this is a strange attitude for a party whose electoral line is that people should vote for them because they aren’t the Conservatives.

But I think this attitude is part and parcel of Starmer’s return to Blairism. Blair was a Thatcherite, who went further in the privatisation of the NHS and reforming – read: cutting back even further – the welfare state than the Tories themselves. One of the criticisms of Blair’s and Brown’s governments was that New Labour really didn’t differ at all from the Conservatives. They just promoted themselves on being able to implement the same wretched policies better and more efficiently. And in the case of the ‘welfare to work’ legislation, in which benefit claimants only got their welfare cheque if they did mandatory voluntary work for grasping, exploitative charities like Tomorrow’s People or the big supermarkets, Blair spun a profoundly reactionary policy introduced by Reagan’s Republicans in America and mooted by Thatcher over here as somehow left-wing and radical. It was all part of Blair’s New Deal, a modern version of Roosevelt’s make-work schemes during the Depression. The result of New Labour’s shameless emulation of the Tories was that an increasingly large part of the electorate stopped voting. They felt that it didn’t matter who you voted for, because they were all the same. Corbyn offered some escape from this electoral trap by promoting socialist policies. Hence the screams from the establishment both inside and outside the party that he was a Commie, Trotskyite anti-Semite. Because you can’t have someone offering the proles something that will actually benefit them.

And now it seems it’s back to business as usual under Starmer.

And the return to Blairism is already having the effect it previously had on the electorate. The Tories took a hammering at the local elections, and has naturally been held as an historic win by Stalin. Except that it was more a comment on how the electorate was fed up with the Tories than an overwhelming victory for Labour. According to some experts, by this measure Labour will be 28 seats short of a majority at the next general election. I seem also to recall polls that indicated that while people liked Labour, they didn’t like Starmer and didn’t think he was anywhere near as good a leader as whoever was the Tory prime minister at the time. And it’s obvious to see why. Starmer is deeply treacherous and untrustworthy, ditching nearly every pledge and promise he declared he believed in. He has done everything he could to purge the left with the usual smears of anti-Semitism. But his personal performance against the Tories has been dismal. For a long time he offered no alternative policies. His tactics seemed to be to wait for the Tories’ own failures and duplicity to catch up with them and then hope that the proles would vote Labour as the only alternative. This seems to have worked to a certain extent, but it also shows that the same tactics is failing to energise any enthusiasm for a Labour government. In fact, it’s put many people off.

Not that this necessarily bothers Starmer. As we’ve seen from the various coups and plots against Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour right would prefer to destroy Labour than accept any return to socialism.