Archive for the ‘Philosophy’ Category

Spectre of Dune’s Axolotl Tanks as Professor Suggests Brain Dead Women Could Be Kept Alive as Surrogate Mothers

February 4, 2023

I found this horrendous issue being debated by Leo Kearse and the rest on GB News this morning. A philosophy professor in Oslo has suggested in a paper that brain-dead women could serve as surrogate mothers for women who were unable or unwilling to go through pregnancy themselves. The general reaction to the idea was revulsion, though the presenter said that philosophers often make extreme or outrageous suggestions just to start a conversation. There were also jokes about how mixed any children would be, born of a corpse. Of course, such women wouldn’t be corpses, just living women artificially kept alive through life-support machines. But one of them makes the serious point how you can tell if someone is braindead. The professor has made the comparison between his idea and organ donation. This is a reasonable moral problem – how is harvesting the organs of the dead any different from using the bodies of the braindead to bring children into the world? I suspect that the professor’s suggestion is really part of an attempt to explore the moral dimensions around donor organs. In that sense it’s a deliberately provocative statement intended to stimulate debate, not a serious suggestion.

But for readers of Dune it immediately raises the spectre of the Tleilaxu and their axolotl tanks, as one commenter pointed out. The Tleilaxu are one of the races in Frank Herbert’s Dune series. They specialise in genetic engineering and the creation of a form of clones, known as gholas. But they’re also clones themselves, born from the axolotl tanks. Only men are seen, which makes the other peoples of the galaxy suspect that the axolotl tanks themselves are the remains of their women. It’s a truly horrendous idea, and is part of SF’s tradition of exploring the shocking and dystopian. If the unnamed professor’s suggestion was serious, it would come a step closer to becoming reality rather than science fiction. But I don’t think it is serious, and if it was, it would face a number of serious moral objections.

On the other hand, the story is reported in the Heil, many of whose journo are, I believe, products of genetic engineering themselves. People that right-wing and bonkers are surely the products of deranged technology.

An Artist’s Image of the Tleilaxu axolotl tanks.

New Culture Forum Urges Its Viewers to Abandon Tories over Wokeness

January 26, 2023

I’m sorry I haven’t posted much today, but hopefully normal service will resume tomorrow. As the Beeb always used to say whenever they suffered a technical fault right in the middle of something you really, really wanted to watch. Things may be looking very bleak for the Tories as some of their traditional supporters may start abandoning them for the rival parties. Or simply abandon them, full stop. The New Culture Forum posted a very short video today in which their main man, Peter Whittle, reported that the Tory party was offering its membership lessons in racial awareness, microaggressions and ‘White resentment’. This was Critical Race Theory wokeness, and showed that the party has been captured. Whittle therefore urged his organisation’s viewers and supporters not to vote Tory, even if that meant not voting at all.

Last night GB News, Reform, or both were celebrating three Tory councillors switching to Tice’s band of crazed rightists. The Lotus Eaters also have not been impressed by the Tories. They’ve hosted an American comedian on their channel, and have just posted a video about how he finds the British Tories ‘cringe’. Meanwhile, Labour enjoys a 29 point lead ahead of the Tories.

I don’t know how big the numbers of people leaving the Tories for Reform will be. Probably smaller than expected, considering the way UKIP fizzled out despite all the hoo-ha about it breaking the mould of British politics, becoming the fourth biggest party and so on. I’ve no problem with them taking votes away from the Tories if that weakens them still further and allows Labour to get in.

But I definitely don’t want them to become a major political force pulling the country further to the right.

Reform Party Promising to Protect British Freedoms against the Government, the EU and Unelected Organisations

January 20, 2023

Okay, I just found a brief video on YouTube, posted eight days ago, on Nick Buckley’s channel. Buckley’s a former police officer and campaigner against knife crime, who’s appeared a couple of times on the Lotus Eater’s channel. I wasn’t surprised then, when he posted this video interviewing Richard Tice about Reform’s ‘Eight Principles’. In the video, however, he only talks about four of them. These are largely about protecting British democratic rights against the threat of the state and unelected organisations and quangos. According to Tice, Brits are aware that they’re born free and have inalienable rights unlike in the EU. Thus, Brits are able to whatever they like unless prohibited, while in the EU they can only do whatever the EU tells them to.

The irony about this is that the idea that humans are born free comes from a continental philosopher, Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Rousseau has been condemned as one of the founders of totalitarianism. One Conservative American group made Rousseau’s The Social Contract one of the most evil books of all time alongside Marx and Engels’ The Communist Manifesto. The philosopher Isaiah Berlin included him among his Six Enemies of Freedom and the Lotus Eaters have also put out videos attacking him. But Rousseau’s book begins with the words, ‘Man was born free yet everywhere he is chains.’ The idea that you should be free to do whatever you want unless the law says otherwise, I think comes from John Locke a century before, and is the foundation of modern liberal ideas of freedom. However, other European philosophers also had views similar to Locke’s, that the state should be limited to the role of a night watchman, in the sense say that it should protect its citizens’ lives and property, but otherwise not interfere. This is the view expressed by the German philosopher Wilhelm von Humboldt in his Grenzen Der Wirksamkeit der Staat – ‘Limits of the Effectiveness of the State’. I don’t know what the underlying philosophy of government of the European Union is. I suspect there isn’t one beyond harmonising various trade and other regulations between member states and allowing for the movement of labour and capital. The original intention was to create a united trading bloc to preserve western European economic independence from America or communist eastern Europe. The Eurosceptic right has frequently ranted about the EU being some kind of totalitarian state with comparisons to Nazi Germany and communism, but I’ve seen no evidence to support it. And rather than limiting freedom, I think the EU believes it is actively creating and nurturing freedom in its member states. Such as when it condemns Poland and Hungary for their legislation banning homosexuality and gay rights.

Now let’s go through the principles as explained by Tice and Buckley in the video.

  1. The state is our servant not our master.

I don’t believe any believer in liberal democracy, whether of the left or right, would challenge this. The only people who would are either Fascists, following Mussolini’s pronouncements that the individual is nothing before the state, followers of Hegel’s dictum that ‘the state is the divine idea as it exists on Earth. We must therefore worship the state’ and supporters of Soviet Communism before Gorby’s brief reforms. However, in the context of Reform, a party of the right, it seems to me that this is yet another bland statement intended to justify further privatisation and the expansion of the power of private industry and the destruction of the welfare state against working people, the poor, the unemployed and disabled.

2. Lend us your power and we’ll give you back your freedom.

This could be said by just about any political party, even those which were real enemies of freedom. Hitler, in one of his rants at Nuremberg, declared ‘Everything I am, I am through you. Everything you are, you are through me’. The Nazi party anthem, the Horst Wessel song, also has lines about German freedom. Hitler also talked about preserving freedom through separating the different spheres of party and state and preserving private industry, though in practice under the Nazi regime the party and state apparatus were intermeshed and private industry ruthlessly subordinated to the state. Mussolini also made speeches about how the freedom of the individual wasn’t limited under fascism, except in certain ways, all of which was equally rubbish.

3. People are free.

This means, as he explains, that people naturally hold certain rights and liberties that should always be protected and defended. These include freedom of speech, religion and conscience. This does not mean that certain types of speech have no consequences. I interpret this as meaning that he feels that people can say what they want, but people are also free to express outrage and take action against others for offensive or dangerous speech that is not otherwise banned by law. Tice goes on to say that in practice, while people believe in this principle, they negotiate to give up a certain amount of this freedom with the state.

I think here he means particularly the legislation on hate speech, which in his view prevents proper criticism of certain protected groups in order to combat racism, homophobia, transphobia, misogyny and so on. He has a point, as opponents of gay rights, who have made their opposition very clear in speeches, often quoting the Biblical prohibition against it, have been arrested. In Scotland Maria Miller, a gender critical woman, was arrested for hate speech simply for putting up stickers with the slogan ‘Scots Women Won’t Wheesht’, meaning that they wouldn’t be silent, in her campaign against the proposed gender recognition legislation north of the border. In my opinion, arresting someone for saying that goes beyond a concern about stirring up hatred against trans people into active attempts to police thoughts and opinions about trans rights.

But there are good reasons behind the legislation banning hate speech. In the case of racism, it’s to prevent Nazi groups stirring up hatred against vulnerable minorities like the Jews, people of colour and gays, all of whom have been or are targets of abuse and physical assault.

4. National Sovereignty

This means protecting British traditions, institutions and culture from enemies both external and internal. The external foes include the EU. The internal threats to British tradition and democracy are unelected pressure groups and organisations. These include big tech and companies like Google, Twitter and Facebook. This is a fair point. These organisations can and do censor material posted on their platforms. The right have been complaining about their posts disappearing or the algorithms governing their availability in searches being altered so that they become invisible, but the same censorship is also inflicted on the left. If Tice and his crew get the chance, I’ve no doubt they’ll demand greater freedom of speech for their supporters while maintaining or even strengthening the censorship against their opponents on the left.

Other threats, unsurprisingly, are the European Union, while among the unelected organisations wielding power he puts the environmental groups Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth and the gay rights organisation Stonewall. Tice states that a few years ago Greenpeace published their manifesto for Yorkshire, which was a diatribe against the car, and therefore, in his view, an attack on the automobile industry in west Yorkshire. One of the accusations the extreme right is throwing at environmental groups is that they wish to ban cars and private transport as part of their plan to establish Green Communism. He also includes Stonewall and the massive influence it wields, although no-one has elected it. There is a problem with Stonewall in that the advice it has been giving to companies, the government and the civil service has been wrong. They deliberately gave a wrongful interpretation of the legislation covering trans issues which was very much what they wanted it to say, not what the law actually did. As a result, a number of groups cut their connections to the organisation.

But unelected groups like Greenpeace, Stonewall and so on acquire their power through possessing, or being perceived to express, expertise and competence in particular issues. In the case of Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, it’s the environment. Amnesty International is respected because of its thorough investigation and documentation of human rights abuses, even though governments may pay no attention to its findings. Stonewall is taken notice of because it speaks, or claims to speak, for Britain’s gays and articulates their concerns and recommendations to combat prejudice.

Even in the 19th century governments had to pay attention to popular protest organisations, such as the massive abolitionist campaign against slavery, the Anti-Corn Law League set up by Cobden and Bright to have the corn laws repealed so that the price of grain would fall and working people able to feed themselves. There was also the anti-war protests against the Crimean War led by John Bright and others. There are problems with unelected groups exercising power beyond their competence or suitability, but modern governments have always had to deal with organised groups. Tice’s singling out of the environmental groups and Stonewall seems to me to be as much to do with a hatred of their views – the Brexiteers are full-scale behind the right of private industry to trash this country’s green and pleasant land – than with their supposed power outside of the formal sphere of elections. I doubt that Reform would ever go as far if they were in power, but it reminds me more than a little bit of Mussolini’s statement that there should be ‘nothing outside the state, nothing against the state’, and similar bans on private quasi-political organisations in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.

But what you’ll also notice is that these principles tell you absolutely nothing about how Reform as a party intends to act on them, except by reading the lines. What does Reform intend to do about the health service? Not said. I suspect, in fact, that as a party of the right they’ll want to privatise even more of it. What about the welfare state and the scandal of millions of people using food banks? No answers there, either. I suspect, however, that in practice you’d get more mantras of encouraging people to be independent, find work and so on, coupled with rants about welfare scroungers. What about industry? Again, the reality is almost certainly that they want more deregulation. Well, we’ve had four decades of Thatcherite privatisation and deregulation, and the result is the mass poverty and failing economy we’re now experiencing. Industry should be acting for the good of society and its employees and not just shareholders and senior management. This means limiting economic freedom, but as the Liberal journalist J.A. Hobson said, in order for the mass of people to be free you need to limit the freedom of the rich. Which is obviously toxic to the Conservatives and other parties of the right.

To sum up, what Reform seems to be doing with these principles is to try to position themselves as defenders of traditional British liberties against the threat of the evil EU and pesky Green and gay groups. But this hides an illiberal ideology that views such groups as somehow subversive, would probably remove the obstacles against real, dangerous expressions of racial and other prejudice, and which would promote the interests of private industry against ordinary Brits.

We can’t afford to be taken in by sweet words hiding their true intentions.

Peter Hitchens on Tony Blair’s Stupidity

January 16, 2023

Yeah, I know this ad hominem, but it is funny. Novara Media’s Aaron Bastani interviewed Tory iconoclast Peter Hitchens the other day. The two don’t really have much in common, but Bastani justified the interview saying that if you want to be certain in your political views, you should test them by talking to people who hold the opposite. Hitchen’s is very much a man of the right, and some of his views are odd, if not barking. He believes, for example, that we shouldn’t have gone to war with Germany as it was not in our interests. Perhaps it wasn’t, but we had signed the defence pacts with France and Poland, And if we hadn’t gone to war, I think we would have still lost the empire sooner or later. Plus we would have been excluded from a continent under Nazi domination. And this is not to mention the carnage that would have been perpetrated by the Nazis, with the Jews and Gypsies becoming extinct in Europe, followed by the Czechs and the Slav populations enslaved as peasant farmers supplying produce to their German overlords.

On the other hand, Hitchens has said that he never supported Thatcher’s sale of the council houses or the privatisation of the prison system, because justice, as a principle, should be in the hands of the state. He also states in one of his books that he was shocked into an awareness of how fragile civilisation was after visiting one of the failed African countries as a journalist in the 1980s. The country had descended into vicious gang violence, but walking through its capital Hitchens saw everywhere grand architecture and all the signs of modern corporate development. I think this gives an insight into the basis of his own Tory views. I remember reading in the Spectator years ago that the right-wing philosopher Roger Scruton abandoned the left when he witnessed the rioting in Paris during the 1968 student and workers’ protests. He was alarmed by their ‘anti-civilisational rage’.

Back to the interview, Hitchens described Blair’s spin doctor, Alistair Campbell, as being frightening intelligent. He mentioned people, who really thought for the first few months of Blair’s regime that it was Campbell running the country. He joked that it was probably because of Campbell’s mighty intellect that he was kept away from voters, as he would probably frighten them all away.

But Blair, on the other hand, wasn’t terribly bright and Hitchens doubted that he could have run the country without Campbell. To illustrate his point, he told the story of how he briefly met Blair just before the 1997 election. Blair was in Oxford, travelling in his motorcade. Hitchens was following him by bike, but as the traffic was bad, he got to Blair’s destination before him. After Blair had arrived, he was immediately surrounded by a crowd taking pictures. Hitchens wanted to talk to Blair, and so, after the crowd had finished and dispersed, he walked up to the future Prime Minister. He decided to open the conversation by asking who the crowd were. Blair replied, ‘They’re Brazilians. I’m very popular down there.’

‘Oh, you should learn Portuguese then,’ replied Hitch.

‘What?’

It turned out that Blair thought they spoke Brazilian in Brazil. Hitchens concluded that what Blair really wanted to be was a pop star, and you didn’t need to ascribe any deep ideological motives to him.

There was, nevertheless, an ideological basis to his policies. He was a product of BAP, the British-American Project for the Successor Generation, which was set up by Reagan to influence the rising generation of British politicians from both the Conservatives and Labour. Blair had started out as a supporter of nuclear disarmament, but after going on a BAP-sponsored trip to America and hearing the views of various right-wing think tanks, he came back as an opponent. He was fervently Thatcherite, believing in the superiority of private industry and strongly influenced by the American political system. Private Eye ran several pieces about the American private healthcare and prison companies lining up to donate to New Labour in the hope of getting some of that nationalised action. He took over advisers and staff from private healthcare companies as well as other businesses, and pushed the privatisation of the NHS further than the Tories would have dared. As stupid as he may have been, he set the course for right-wing Labour, and Starmer shows every indication of returning to it.

Correct, Not Political Pushing the Anti-Semitic Conspiracy Theory of the Kalergi Plan and the Great Replacement

January 13, 2023

More overt fascism from the channel that has begun its livestreams with footage of Oswald Mosley and his stormtroopers goose-stepping about. This afternoon they put up a meme supposedly showing that present mass migration to the west is all due to the Kalergi plan as part of a UN-backed ‘Great Replacement’, financed by the Rothschilds, the Baruchs and the Warburgs. In other words, it’s just a new wrinkle on the old conspiracy theory about the UN one-world dictatorship plotted by Jewish bankers. Lobster put up a review of a book on Richard Von Kalergi a few years ago, and I put up a post about it. Kalergi did believe that countries should include different ethnic groups, but for quite different reasons from those attributed to him by the paranoids. He was writing after the First World War, and believed that countries would be less likely to go to war on each other if their opponents contained members of their people. It’s about preserving peace in Europe, not replacing its people. As for his connection to the EU, I think he was just one of a number of political thinkers at about that time who were trying to create a pan-European state in order to protect international peace, and I don’t think he had much success or influence on the EU architects. If you want to find the ultimate roots of the EU, it’s possible that it’s derived from Kant’s On Perpetual Peace, in which he argued that the world should be organised into a federation of states. This was back in the 18th century, long before mass migration from outside Europe.

The meme also states that the UN calls this migration ‘the Great Replacement’. I’m sceptical about this, as I understood the term was invented in 2012 by a far-right Frenchman. In any case, ‘the Great Replacement’ is just another version of the old Fascist myth that the Jews are encouraging Black and Asian immigration to destroy the White race. I’m quite prepared to believe that the UN has declared criticism of its migration laws hate speech out of concern for the refugees subject to racist attacks.

As well as this fascist nonsense, their lead man also says in the comments that he hates David Bowie and Mick Jagger because they were Satanists. I don’t know about Jagger, but there was a vogue for the occult among some rockers at one time, including Bowie. There’s supposed to be a lot of occult material in his last album, Black Star. But I’m not sure if you could call him a Satanist. The late 19th-early 20th century occult society, the Golden Dawn, was mostly composed of High Church Anglicans, who were very definitely not Satanists, with the exception of the vehemently anti-Christian Alistair Crowley.

Jeremy Bentham’s Radical Political Beliefs

January 13, 2023

Jeremy Bentham was a British 19th century philosopher. He was the inventor of Utilitarianism, a moral philosophy that states that something is good if it creates the greatest happiness for the greatest number. This, however, fails as it neglects the fact that some things are inherently good or evil even though they may be popular. One of the examples of this would be a case where a mob demands the execution of a wrongly accused man. It is still wrong to execute an innocent person, even if this is massively popular and demanded by the majority of people. Bentham was also interested in prison reform and design. In his view, prisons should be laid out so that the prisoners and their activities were all under surveillance from a central hub, the panopticon. This constant surveillance would, he believed, lead to prisoners acquiring the habit of behaving decently and legally and so reform their characters ready for release back into society. Modern critics consider it a chilling, totalitarian surveillance society in miniature. Another of his ideas is truly bonkers. He believed that people – presumably members of the aristocracy and people accustomed to public service and social prominence – should preserve their ancestors after death through mummification and embalming, and put them on display as ‘autoicons’. The intention behind this bizarre idea is that people, surrounded by their dead relatives and antecedents, would then feel themselves encouraged to emulate their virtues. Bentham had himself preserved, and is on display in a glass case at Oxford University, except for his head, which is a waxwork. His real head is in a case somewhere, and not displayed.

However, the Utilitarians were behind the early 19th century hygiene reforms that cleaned up Britain’s cities by demanding proper sewage and the removal of waste from the streets to improve the inhabitants’ lives and health. And he was also a very much a political radical. He outlined his democratic views in Democracy – A Fragment. He believed that people weren’t naturally virtuous and public spirited, and that they acted primarily in their own interest. This meant that those governing also acted in their own interest, which was to expand their power against everyone else. They could only be kept in line through democracy and all adults possessing the vote. And he meant all adults. The franchise should be extended to include not just all adult men, but also women. He also wanted the abolition of the monarchy, the House of Lords and the disestablishment of the Church of England. This was in the 1820s, and it was nearly a century before British women acquired the right to vote. As for the abolition of the monarchy, the Lords and the disestablishment of the Anglican Church, Tony Benn was reviled as a Communist for advocating them, plus nuclear disarmament in the 1980s. They’re not policies I support, though the House of Lords needs radical reform as at the moment it has more members than the ruling general assembly of the Chinese Communist Party. But I am impressed with his staunch advocacy of democracy, especially at a time when many would have regarded it almost as seditious because of the excesses of the French Revolution.

And unfortunately he does have a point about the corruption of the governing class. We’ve seen it in the way the Tory administrations of the past eleven years have passed endless laws to benefit their class at the expense of Britain’s working people, and themselves personally. As when one of their number decided to relax the planning laws while angling for a lucrative property deal in London.

There have been voices on the internet claiming that democracy is in crisis and that people are giving up on it. If that’s the case, then it’s because we don’t have enough democracy in Britain. Last year we saw three prime ministers come and go, but were not allowed to elect any of them. It’s high time this changed.

More democracy, Tories out!

David Hume’s Plan for an Ideal Commonwealth

January 12, 2023

David Hume is the Scottish philosopher best known for his attack on natural theology and the arguments for the Lord’s existence from nature. He was conservative in his political opinions, believing that the British constitution as it existed in his time was perfect and could not be improved. Nevertheless, he also indulged in utopian speculation himself in his ‘Idea for an Ideal Commonwealth’. John Plamenatz writes of it in his Man and Society From Montesquieu to the Early Socialists (Harlow: Longman 1992)

‘Of the actual scheme of government imagined by Hume, I need say very little. It owes more to Harrington’s Oceania than to any earlier model. It is elaborate, ingenious and moderate. Everyone with a moderate property has the vote, and there is therefore a large electorate: the voters elect one hundred separate county assemblies which between them have the legislative power; these assemblies elect the county magistrates and the national Senate, which has the executive power and appoints the Protector, the Secretaries of State and various councils; all proposals of law are debated in the Senate before they are referred to the county assemblies; the representatives or magistrates of any county may send a law to their senator for proposal to the Senate. Hume thinks that all free government should consist to two councils, a smaller and a larger; because the larger, which represents the people directly , would lack wisdom without the smaller (the Senate), and the smaller would lack honesty without the people. The people, through their representatives, must debate the laws and not merely vote on them. If they were to do this in only one large national assembly, there would be confusion. But divide them into many small assemblies, and they can be trusted, properly enlightened by the Senate, to act in the public interest. Hume’s scheme is one of checks and balances meant to give some power to all men of property, but much more to the rich and educated than to the rest. Its purpose, to use Hume’s words, is to ‘refine the democracy’, from the lower sort of people, who merely elect the county representatives, upwards through these representatives, to the Senate and the higher magistrates, who between them direct the business of the whole State as distinct from the business of the counties’. (P.86).

It’s a hierarchical political idea from a man of a much more hierarchical age. But it’s not too different from representative democracy, in which the people elect a class of governors to represent them, on the assumption that they are better able to do it than they are. As for the county assemblies electing the Senate, I think in the Netherlands the upper house is elected by the local authorities, which isn’t too far away from Harrington’s and Hume’s recommendation. I thought I’d put up a piece about here as Starmer has once again mooted reforming the House of Lords, and it’s interesting seeing the ideas previous ages had for the ideal consitution.

My Email to the Local Labour Party about the False View that only White Europeans Were Responsible for Slavery

January 4, 2023

I had an email from my local branch of the Labour party in Bristol this morning informing that they will be out this weekend canvassing people about the issues that matter to them. I wish them the very best of luck. Twelve years of Tory misrule have just about wrecked this great country and are forcing millions of ordinary, hardworking Brits into poverty. Not to mention the continued exploitation and impoverishment of the disabled and unemployment through benefit sanctions, work capability tests and all the rest of the welfare reforms that they have pushed through to enable them to stop paying benefits to people, who genuinely need it, all on the flimsiest of pretexts.

But one issue in Bristol that particularly concerns me is the way the slave trade is represented in exhibitions, the media and in education. Bristol was one of the major cities in the UK slave trade, along with London, Liverpool and I think Glasgow in Scotland. Although the slave trade was banned in 1807 and slavery itself abolished in 1837, it still casts a very long shadow over the city, just as it does the country generally. This was shown three years in the BLM riot that brought down the statue of Edward Colston and in a motion passed by the city council calling for reparations to be paid to the Black population. What concerns me about this is that it seems to me that a distorted image of slavery has arisen, in which White Europeans and Americans are seen as uniquely responsible and culpable for it. I am worried about the apparent lack of awareness that it existed right across the world and long before Europeans started enslaving Black Africans for labour in the plantations of the New World. It also appears that the BBC is determined to push this distorted image, as detailed by the group History Reclaimed and their document identifying the bias in twenty BBC programmes, several of which were about slavery. These included the edition of The Misadventures of Romesh Ranganathan when he went to Sierra Leone and Enslaved, presented by Hollywood actor Samuel L. Jackson. I therefore sent a reply stating my concern about this issue and the way it was handled by the local council. This runs

‘Dear Neil,

Thank you for your email letting me know that the party will be out this Saturday canvassing people in Bedminster about the issues that matter to them. I am afraid that long term illness prevents me from attending. However, apart from the continued cuts to public services forced on the mayor by central government cuts, there is one local issue that is of deep concern to me. This is the presentation and public knowledge of the history of slavery. Slavery has existed since antiquity and across the globe. Some of the earliest records come from the ancient near eastern town of Mari, which detail the sale of slaves and other properties. You can find lists of slaves on noble estates from ancient Egypt. Slavery also existed in the Muslim world, India and China. It also existed in Black Africa long before the emergence of the transatlantic slave trade. In some African societies, the proportion of the population that was enslaved varied between 30 to 70 per cent. By and large the slaves acquired by White European and American merchants were purchased from Black African slavers. Duke Ephraim, the king of Dahomey, had an income of £300,000 a year from slaving. There are records of British merchants to Africa being offered slaves Black chiefs. After abolition some of the slaving tribes attacked British trading posts in order to make us resume purchasing their human wares. Britain also paid compensation to former African slaving nations after abolition. In the 1850s we also fought a war with Dahomey in order to stop them enslaving the other local peoples.

But I am afraid I find little awareness of these issues in Bristol and among people generally. I am worried that this is creating a false view of the trade in the public, in which slavery, and particularly Black enslavement, is wholly the fault of Whites. This includes a lack of awareness that White Europeans, including British people and Bristolians, were also enslaved during the Turkish conquest of the Balkans and the Barbary pirates from Algiers and Morocco from the 16th century on till the French conquest of Algeria in the 1820s. I feel very strongly that this is creating an ideological motivated demonisation of Whites, especially if coupled with Critical Race Theory, which holds that all Whites are racist and will remain so.

I also feel this situation has been exacerbated locally by the motion passed a year or so ago calling for the payment of reparations for slavery, introduced by Green councillor Cleo Lake and seconded by Deputy Mayor and head of Equalities Asher Craig. This called for funding to be given to Black organisations rather than individuals, so that they can create sustainable, prosperous Black communities. This is obviously a noble aim, but the stipulation that the money should cover all Afrikans, as councillor Lake styles all Blacks, in the context of reparations means that Britain has accepted a moral responsibility for compensating people,. who were never enslaved by us, and which includes the vary African nations that committed the raiding and brutality that supplied the slaves. It also has nothing to say against the celebration in some African countries of these slavers, like Efroye Tinobue in Nigeria. It also erases from history the White victims of slavery.

I sent emails last year to Mdm. Craig and Councillor Lake pointing out these defects. I regret that I never received a reply. But this issue still has a particular urgency in Bristol. In previous correspondence, Asher Craig informed me that the local government was planning a new, ‘One Bristol’ curriculum for schools, which would foreground Black people. I have absolutely no qualms about Black Bristolians receiving the educational help they need, nor being included in our city’s history. But I am afraid that this curriculum will place the blame for slavery solely on White Bristolians and that this will lead to further racial division and prejudices.

I would very much like the local council to ensure that whenever slavery is taught or exhibitions on it mounted, its antiquity and the fact that other peoples, such as Black Africans, Arabs, Indians and so on were also involved, and that Whites were also the victims of the trade. This need not be an extensive treatment, but it should be there.

I hope you will take on board these concerns and recommendations, and wish you and the other party members all the best campaigning on Saturday.

Yours faithfully,

David Sivier’

I’ll let you know if I get a reply.

Friar Roger Bacon’s Technological Prediction

December 29, 2022

Roger Bacon was a 13th century English friar and early scientist. He was an Aristotelian, but believed in experiment rather than just relying on observation and the acceptance of received opinion. He also predicted some of the inventions of the 19th and 20th centuries, such as self-driving ships, cars and flying machines. He made these startling predictions in a letter to a William of Paris in a letter, the Epistola de Secretis Operibus of 1260. This stated

‘Now an instrument for sailing without oarsmen can be produced such that the larger ships, both riverboats and seagoing vessels, can be moved under the direction of a single man at a greater velocity than if they were filled with men. A chariot can be made that moves at unimaginable speed without horses; such we think to have been the scythe-bearing chariots with which men fought in antiquity. And an instrument for flying can be made, such that a man sits in the middle of it, turning some sort of device by which artificially constructed wings beat the air in the way a flying bird does’.

(Trans. Michael S. Mahoney, quoted in Mike Ashley, Yesterday’s Tomorrows: The Story of Classic British Science Fiction in 100 Books (London: British Library 2020) 56.

As you can see, he doesn’t know how such devices could be constructed, and his description of how an aircraft would work is wrong, although people have constructed such ornithopters. But nevertheless he was right in that science and technological has led to the invention of these kinds of machines. It also struck me that there’s material in there for SF and Fantasy writers to imagine the kind of Middle Ages that would have arisen had Bacon or his contemporaries invented such devices, or what the ancient world would have been like had Bacon been right about the technology he believed they possessed.

Calvin Robinson Uses Fears of Left-Wing Indoctrination to Push Private Schools

December 28, 2022

I know it’s still the Christmas season, but we’re in those days between Christmas proper and New Year when there’s a sort of lull in the festivities. I’m therefore going to post one or two pieces about politics. And one of the issues I want to tackle is a video from GB News’ and the New Culture Forum’s Calvin Robinson, which stated that the way to prevent your children from being politically indoctrinated in schools was to support free school. The thumbnail for the video shows the message, and says that children were told by the teacher to vote Labour.

This comes from an interview Robinson did with a woman, who was suing her local school because of political indoctrination. According to this lady, the school was teaching the gender ideology and Critical Race Theory. One teacher told the class to vote Labour and the children were also encouraged to sing ‘Our prime minister is a racist’. This was presumably back when Johnson was in power. If all this is true, then I think the woman’s quite right to complain and sue. It is political indoctrination. Gender ideology and Critical Race Theory aren’t facts, although a poll cited by various right-wing media channels claimed that 75 per cent or so of those polled said that this had been taught in school, and 68 per cent said it had been presented as fact. There is an organisation set up to combat the teaching of the gender ideology, the Safe Schools Alliance, and there is a similar organisation to fight indoctrination by Critical Race Theory. And while I believe that people should vote Labour and that Johnson is racist, this shouldn’t be taught in school any more than the lie that Jeremy Corbyn is an anti-Semite.

There have been fears and scandals over left-wing indoctrination in schools since as far back as the 1980s, when the Scum was running stories about teachers in Brent teaching kids to sing ‘Ba Ba, Green Sheep’ as an anti-racist revision of ‘Ba ba, Black Sheep’. There were also stories in the Scum and Depress about Communists indoctrinating children with the new-fangled subject of Peace Studies, and ‘English’ being renamed ‘Language’. Their solution was to take failing state schools, where all this was going on, out of the control of the Local Education Authorities and transform them into City Academies. These were the Thatcherite precursors of Blair’s academies. They didn’t work, and Thatcher’s education secretary, Norman Fowler, wound them up. Then Blair won the election, took the idea out of the bin, and relaunched them. And the result has been the part-privatisation of our schools for corporate profit, many of which are still failing.

If children are being indoctrinated in schools, then it isn’t just in those schools left under local government management, but also in the academies. One of the other victims of ‘woke’ ideological censorship interviewed by the New Culture Forum’s Peter Whittle was an Anglican chaplain at a private school. He’d been sacked after raising questions in his sermon about some of the LGBT teaching that had been delivered to the school by an outside activist. According to the chaplain, the man had made them out all chant ‘Smash heteronormativity!’ during a meeting in the headmaster’s office beforehand. The clergyman had been alarmed by this, and in a following sermon simply said that students should question this for themselves. Such independent thought wasn’t allowed, and he was censured and sacked. Smashing heteronormativity, the social status of heterosexuality as the norm, goes far beyond teaching tolerance for gays. The EDIJester, a gay critic of the woke ideology, states that heteronormativity should continue, as without straight people breeding there would be no more gays like him. But beyond the specific nature of the radical indoctrination is the fact that this happened in a private school.

This is also going on across the Atlantic. James Lindsay, another fervent critic and opponent of the woke ideology, did a piece on his New Discourses YouTube channel about a paper published in an American education journal by a radical activist about indoctrinating the children in private schools to be woke, anti-capitalist, anti-racist activists. If the goal of privatisation is to stop political indoctrination, then it clearly isn’t working.

I’m very sceptical of these stories about ‘woke’ teachers, at least in Britain. My mother was a teacher, and I did my first degree at a teacher training college. My own experience of teachers is that the vast majority of them aren’t in it to indoctrinate children to be young communists or radical LGBTQ+ and race activists. They’re there simply because they want to stand in front of a whiteboard and teach. If radical doctrines are being taught in schools, then most likely they’re coming from the headmaster, the LEA or the academy chain. The teaching staff may not be aware how radical they are, as these doctrines are presented as just a form of conventional liberal teaching about tolerance to gays and transgender people and anti-racism.

And there is already a solution to the problem of indoctrination in schools. It’s banned by law, introduced by Blair. Teachers may not present political or religious ideas or opinions as fact. If they do tell the class their personal view of a political or religious issue, they have to make it clear that this is only their opinion. A teacher that tells their pupils to vote Labour or any other party is breaking that law.

But Robinson isn’t interested in such legal niceties. He just wants to push right-wing fears of evil, left-wing activist teachers in order to promote the establishment of free schools. This is another right-wing Tory idea. Toby Young was behind an attempt to set up a free college a few years ago. That collapsed, and I don’t doubt that any attempt to set up free schools will go the same way. But it’s all an attempt to privatise education and make it two-tier, with the state-educated poor at the bottom and the rich elite, who are able to pay private school fees, at the top. All under the guise of protecting children from indoctrination.

Privatisation isn’t working. The academies are terrible and free schools are going to be worse. Renationalise schools, give them proper funding and make sure they obey the rule of law when it comes to political or religious indoctrination. That’s the way to improve education.

Oh yes, and don’t listen to Calvin Robinson.