Posts Tagged ‘marxism’

A Democratic Marxist Condemnation of the Soviet Regime

January 18, 2023

A few days ago I put up a post about the 18th century communist Morelly. He had some interesting ideas, although I made it clear that I am not a supporter of communism because of the tyranny, poor economic performance and poverty of the Soviet regime. One of the great commenters here remarked that describing the USSR as a tyranny probably wouldn’t go down very well with the Socialist Workers Party, now renamed the Socialist Party. I’m not sure, as the Socialist Workers were, in their day, a Trotskyite party, and therefore opposed to the communism of the USSR over the issue of Stalin’s dictatorship. The impression I had was that the Trotskyite parties wanted a communist society, but one where the workers themselves would hold power through soviets, rather than controlled by the communist bureaucracy.

As well as the Trotskyites, there were democratic Marxists in the west, who believed that socialism should be achieved democratically and rejected violent revolution and the dictatorship of the USSR. Karl Kautsky, an Austrian Marxist and one of the leaders of European Marxism, took this position. Another was the French Marxist, Lucien Laurat, who made the following scathing condemnation of the Soviet tyranny in Russia in his Marxism and Democracy, published by the Left Book Club in 1940.

‘In the fascist countries we can still observe the existence of capitalist characteristics, where as in Russia these characteristics have been radically destroyed as a result of the absolute seizure by the State of all the means of production and distribution. Although the Russian economic system has often been called “State capitalism”, and although the term “State slavery” employed by Karl Kautsky seems to us a more appropriate designation in our opinion, the present Russian regime is not slavery, or serfdom, or capitalism, but something of all three. It is related to slavery and serfdom by the absolute and total suppression of all freedom for the workers, who are tied by domestic passports to their places of residence, and often to their places of employment, like the feudal serf to the glebe. It is related to capitalism by the preservation of a great number of economic categories and legal forms. However, it is fundamentally different from any of these systems.

With more reason, and, of course, with all those reservations proper to such historical comparisons, we may rather compare the present Russian regime with the social and economic regime of the Incas, who dictatorially governed Peru before the discovery of America: an authoritatively controlled economic system strongly marked by numerous communist traits, but with a division of society into classes. No one can say how and toward what this curious social system might have developed had not a brutal and rapacious conqueror brought it to a sudden and premature end. It is quite certain, however, that on an infinitely larger scale, with an incomparably higher mass culture, and provided with all the achievements of twentieth-century science, our modern Incaism over what is called “one-sixth of the globe” reproduces from the social and and political point of view the most characteristic traits of Peruvian Incaism of four hundred years ago.

Just as the Russian State disposes absolutely over the material elements of the economic process, so it disposes dictatorially over the human element also. The workers are no longer free to sell their labour-power where they like and how they please. They no longer enjoy freedom of movement in the territory of the U.S.S.R. (domestic passports) The right to strike has been suppressed, and if the workers expressed even the slightest desire to oppose the methods of Stakhanovism, it would expose them to the severest punishments.

The Russian unions, strictly under the orders of the governing party, are merely organs charged with the execution in their own province of the political instructions of the Government. The instruments destined to defend the working class against the directive organism of the economic system have become instruments in the service of these organisms. The working class thus finds itself subjected to the discretionary power of a bureau-technocracy identical with the State apparatus.’ (Pp. 200-2).

There, and if you only listen to the Libertarians, you would think that only von Hayek believed that communism was slavery, although in his case he all meant all forms of socialism. Not that I think he had any hatred of right-wing dictatorship. He served in Dollfuss’ Austro-Fascist regime, which ended with the Nazi invasion and supported the various fascist dictatorships in South America. This, too me, shows how far Libertarians really believe in freedom.

Calendar of Coming Left-Labour Events

January 17, 2023

I’ve had some of this blog’s great commenters wondering what the Labour left is doing to challenge Starmer’s stranglehold on the party and his determination to turn it into another version of the Tories. And not necessarily one further to the left. The Labour left is still around and organising events. I’ve had some emails about them, but didn’t put them up as they were in-person meetings in London, and so difficult to get to for people like me in the provinces, or they were about foreign politics, like Latin America, which I didn’t think many people would be interested in. Yesterday I had another email from Matt Willgress through the Arise festival of left ideas and the Labour Assembly against Austerity, giving details about events coming up in what remains of this month and February.

Let’s make 2023 the year of growing waves of resistance.

Read my article here // Retweet it here to spread the word // Register for Feb.1 here

Hello David

Last week, Tory ministers met numerous unions to discuss public-sector pay, but no movement was made, meaning that strike action is set to escalate, including with the PCS announcing 100,000 will be on strike on what is shaping up to be a major day of industrial and other forms of action on February 1st, the day of our #BuildingtheFightback rally.

The Tory refusal to budge on pay is the logical follow-on from locking-in austerity for years. On the Left we need to understand the scale of what we are up against politically, the extent of the crisis Britain is facing, and the nature of what is to come if the Tories aren’t forced out, including that this is an increasingly authoritarian Government.

We need to be organising resistance  right now – and we need to be backing those movements taking direct action and backing those workers taking industrial action. Let’s make 2023 the year of  growing waves of resistance to the Tories – join us at Building the Fightback on February 1 (details below) in solidarity with workers in struggle and to map out our next steps.

Yours in solidarity,
Matt Willgress, on behalf of the Arise volunteers.
 

RALLY: Building the fightback in 2023.

Online rally, 6.30pm, Wednesday February 1. Join us on to hear about & build on a day of action across the country!
Register here // Invite & share here // Retweet here.

Mark Serwotka, PCS General Secretary // Diane Abbott MP // Dave Ward, CWU GS // Richard Burgon MP // Helen O’Connor, GMB Southern Region & Peoples Assembly // Liz Cabeza, Acorn (Haringey) // Nabeela Mowlana, Young Labour // Holly Turner, NHS Workers Say No // Matt Wrack, FBU GS & more.

Join leaders of key industrial disputes – and who are at the forefront of fighting proposed anti-union laws – at this vital event! Now is the time to build the growing fightback, co-ordinate the resistance & popularise policies that put people before profit. 

Hosted by Arise – a Festival of Left Ideas. All other pages listed on social media are kindly helping to promote the event. 

OTHER 2023 DIARY DATES:

1) FORUM: The economic crisis – was Marx right?


Online. Monday January 23, 2023. Register here // share & invite here // retweet here to spread the word

Here in Britain and around the world the economic crisis is deepening. Join economist Michael Roberts for debate and discussion – was Nye Bevan right, wrong, or both when he said “Marxism put into the hands of the working class movement… the most complete blueprints for political action the world has ever seen?”


Labour Outlook forum as part of the Socialist Ideas series – kindly streamed by Arise – A Festival of Left Ideas.

2) CONFERENCE: The World At War – A Trade Union Issue

Register here. Saturday 21 January 2023, 10.30am, Hamilton House, Mabledon Place, London WC1H 9BD (Nearest tube: Euston/Kings Cross). 

Jeremy Corbyn MP // Mick Whelan, ASLEF // Salma Yaqoob // Fran Heathcote, PCS // Alex Gordon, RMT // Ricardo La Torre, FBU & more.

Organised by the Stop the War Coalition.

3) DIARY DATE: A Society in Crisis – Building a Progressive Policy Platform.

Sat 11 Feb, 2023, 10:00am, Brunei Gallery, SOAS, London, WC1B 5DQ. Register here – Retweet here.

“The economic, social and environmental crises we face mean the need for a transformative policy agenda is more urgent than ever. For this reason, on February 11, I will be bringing together academics, think tanks, policy researchers and experts, campaigners and others to develop a progressive policy platform – and hope you can join us there.” – John McDonnell MP.

Organised by Claim the Future & Influencing the Corridors of Power’

It’s a pity the last meeting is in London, as this is what the left really need to challenge neoliberalism, in the Labour party as much as anywhere else. Perhaps they’ll release a video of it later on YouTube.

Has ‘Correct, Not Political’ Finally Gone Full ‘Fash’?

October 29, 2022

Here’s a really unpleasant development. I’ve blogged on here about a right-wing group and its YouTube channel, Correct, Not Political. They’re a bunch who go to various left-wing demonstrations and protests and attempt to argue the opposite case to the demonstrators. They turn up at gay pride parades, outside libraries presenting Drag Queen Story Hour, environmentalist demos by people like Extinction Rebellion, anti-racism and migrants’ rights protests, and they have a special part of their website devoted to ‘socialists and commies’. I thought first of all that might be just right-wing Tories with a few weird ideas. But no. This afternoon they’ve organised a livestream with a title quoting St. Paul about the ‘synagogue of Satan’ and ‘those who say they are Jews but are not’. St. Paul was a Jew himself, and proudly boasted that he was ‘a pharisee and the son of a pharisee’. As he believed that Christ came to save the Jew first, then the gentile, when he entered a town on his preaching mission he started by preaching in the local synagogue. The statement about false Jews and the ‘synagogue of Satan’, from what I understand, was about one particular Jewish community in what is now one of the Turkish cities, that strongly opposed early Christian preaching. I think they may have requested the local Roman authorities to clamp down on them. That’s the Biblical context of the quote, from a time when Christianity was a Messianic sect within Judaism. But passages like that from the New Testament tragically have an appeal to Fascists.

Intrigued by this title, I clicked on the channel. It was a few minutes before it started properly, but things definitely did not bode well. It showed an old B/W newsreel footage of people marching in a BUF rally, complete with the ‘Roman’ salute and the BUF banner. It also showed the cops forming up to police them. All this was set to the adagio for strings piece which gets played in films and TV programmes about the horrors of war. I think it comes from the end of Platoon or Full Metal Jacket when the film ends with its heroes being gunned down. After a few minutes of this, it began. It switched to some kind of studio with a quote from a rabbi to one side of the presenter, ‘Some call it Marxism. I call it Judaism.’ At that moment the presenter started speaking. I couldn’t hear him properly, so I have to admit I got bored and turned him off. Perhaps I’m being prejudiced, but I thought I’d seen enough.

I think the livestream was supposed to be about Israel, but it seemed to me to be a return to the old Fascist conspiracy theory that the problems of the western world, and particularly non-White immigration, all due to evil Marxist Jews. Well, to quote The Young Turks’ Ben Mankiewicz, if there is a Jewish conspiracy, nobody told him. Nor any of the other Jews I’ve met or had dealings with. As for the Biblical quote, it looks like an attempt to play down the anti-Semitism by doing what Oswald Mosley himself used to do: claim that they’re only talking about some Jews, but not all Jews. And those you’re attacking aren’t real Jews, of course.

It’s depressing and worrying that people are seemingly turning once again to the far right after the spectacular collapse of the BNP. I don’t know how many members Correct, Not Political has or how wide their audience. Probably very few. And to be fair, they also don’t seem to be violent. When they do speak to their opponents, the tone is quiet and reasonable and at a conversational level. When shouting and a bit of argy-bargy does occur, it’s more often by the left-wing protesters than them. They really don’t seem to be thugs and bruisers like the NF’s bovver boys.

But that doesn’t alter the fact that they have seemingly turned to real Fascism, which was based on hate and violence. And the really worrying aspect of this is the possibility that it might be part of a growing trend. To which there can only be one response:

No Pasaran! They Shall Not Pass!

EDIJester Explains the Difference Between Drag and Drag Queen Story Hour

October 22, 2022

This is another excursion into the issue of the trans ideology and specifically that of Drag Queen Story Hour. There have been many protests against it both here and in America. This has largely been done by right-wingers deeply concerned that the drag queens reading the stories are paedophiles seeking to groom children. Unfortunately, in some cases that seems to be very plausible, as when young children have been taken to drag performances in bars and encouraged to dance with the performers or in drag themselves, with the gay clientele throwing money at them. There is, however, an ideological angle to Drag Queen Story Hour that is significant, but rarely discussed. According to mathematician and staunch critic of postmodernism, James Lindsey, at least some of the drag queens involved in this are supporters of Queer Theory, a postmodern doctrine that seeks to exploit and promote people’s unhappiness with their gender identity or sexuality to create a mentally unstable cadre ready for Marxist revolution. It has absolutely nothing to do with, and indeed is deeply hostile to, the idea of creating a more tolerant society towards gay people, and gay youngsters comfortable with their sexuality/sexual identity and respected, functional members of society. This would be supporting a bourgeois order that the people who promote Queer Theory are pledged to destroy.

EDIJester is another gay critic of the trans ideology. He runs a warrior teachers programme training people from all walks of life in how recognise and combat the trans ideology. I’m not in agreement with all his pronouncements, as he has told people to vote Conservative in a recent video. This is presumably due to Keir Starmer and Labour defending the trans movement, refusing to give the LGB Alliance, a group of gay men and women to seek to promote gay rights without the inclusion of trans people, a place at the Labour party conference and the party’s stated intention of banning all conversion therapies. It is feared that this will mean that only treatments for trans people that affirm their condition will be legal, even if this is inappropriate and harmful. I profoundly disagree with Labour’s policy on the trans issue but feel that at the moment Labour is the best option for defending working people and the NHS from privatisation, welfare cuts, poverty and starvation. More Conservative government will be utterly disastrous for these issues.

I’m putting this video, ‘Let’s Talk about Drag and Queer Performativity – Drag Part One’ up here because it tackles Drag Queen Story Hour from a fresh perspective. This differentiates sharply between traditional drag and Drag Queen Story Hour. He begins by drawing a sharp distinction between British and American drag, as in RuPaul’s Drag Race. British drag was mainstream and not completely gay – straight men often did it, like the Bernard Breslaw in one of the Carry On films and the late, great Les Dawson. There was also the camp humour from gay men, who were forced into show business because of society’s intolerance. This created Kenneth Williams and the Polari language in Round the Horne, Larry Grayson and John Inman, for example. He states that there were no ideological motives behind traditional drag – all they wanted to do was to separate you from as much of your money as possible by the time you staggered out drunk. They also raise money for charity. He knows a number of drag performers himself, having carried one of them back to the performer’s own house at the end of an evening of alcoholic and chemical refreshment. He mentions approvingly a traditional drag act oop north somewhere, Funny Girls. He states that American drag has a heterosexual bias, in that in Mrs Doubtfire the hero cross-dresses so he can see his wife and children.

Drag Queen Story Hour is different. And it isn’t about paedophiles preying on young children either. It’s about promoting Queer Theory, often mixed with Critical Race Theory by reading children’s books written from these standpoints. Like retellings of the Three Little Pigs where the pigs are black, brown and pink for gay, and the wolf is white. It’s this highly ideological, genuinely subversive literature he warns people about, not drag or drag queens themselves.

It’s an excellent perspective which draws a needed distinction between drag as a traditional form of entertainment, which boasted great and much-loved performers as Danny La Rue, the Two Ronnies, Lily Savage, and Les Dawson, and its contemporary abuse as a form of ideological propaganda.

Trailer for Candace Owen’s BLM Documentary

October 9, 2022

I know there’s a danger of this blog just repeating stuff from the right, and that it’s not reciprocated on their part. But I do feel that I should promote some of their material when it’s correct. And in this case, I think Candace Owen’s take on Black Lives Matter, or at least it’s American incarnation, is entirely correct. Owen’s is a Black Conservative activist, who has said some monumentally stupid stuff in the past. A few years ago, came over here to launch Turning Point UK with another, White American conservative active, Ben Shapiro. Turning Point UK is the British subsidiary of the American right-wing activist group, Turning Point. It’s supposed to be converting British yoof to conservatism, but as far as anyone can make out, it’s impact over here is marginal. It looks like a scheme to get the right-wing public over the Pond to give donations to Turning Point in the mistaken belief that they’re spreading the right-wing gospel of private enterprise and saving us from Communism and the welfare state.

As the press conference for the launch of Turning Point UK, Owens and Shapiro were keen to defend nationalism. Someone therefore naturally raised the question of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. No, said Owens, Hitler wasn’t a nationalist because he wanted everyone to be German. But his policies would have been perfectly all right if they’d been confined to Germany.

This is monumentally stupid.

Hitler and his thugs were definitely nationalists. They said it openly, and it was in the name of their damnable party: the National Socialist German Workers’ Party. And he didn’t want everyone to be German. Rather, he wanted the Germans to be dominant, ruling people in Europe, and especially over the remaining Slav populations after eastern Europe had been conquered and peoples like the Czechs had received the same treatment as the Jews. And no, the suspension of democracy, imposition of a one-party state, persecution and annihilation of the Jews, Gypsies and other peoples deemed ‘subhuman’ and the eugenic murder of the disabled, the incarceration of neurotics, the long-term unemployed and homosexuals and all the other horrors of the Third Reich would not have been acceptable if he’d confined it just to Germany.

But I think she had done something positive this time in turning her jaundiced eye on Black Lives Matter. They were responsible for many of the protests-cum-riots that broke out in America and elsewhere around the world following the death of George Floyd. Although that was the immediate cause, behind it was the issue of the continuing poverty, unemployment, low academic performance, crime and despair of Black America. They demanded for immediate, radical action against the systemic racism they saw as the cause. They received millions in donations from ordinary people and corporations. But that money was swallowed up by the leadership, as they gave themselves millions to purchase luxury housing and pay their relatives hundreds of thousands for services provided. And the Black people on whose behalf they claimed to be campaigning didn’t see a penny. Owens and her film crew went out to find the truth of what was going on. The result is the documentary, The Greatest Lie Ever Sold, premiering on the Daily Wire, a conservative channel.

The trailer shows Owens talking about how she got interested in it and says that BLM got $80 million in donations. I thought the number was higher – $90 million or over. It shows the incriminating tax invoice, that shows what the money was spent. This doesn’t mention they multimillion dollar houses but does mention transgender events or people and various types of sex worker, which I hadn’t heard about before. It shows her talking to Black people in some of the areas devastated by the rioting, who state they never saw any of the money and things are worse than before. Here’s the video

Black Lives Matter have tried to spin the anger and investigations as attempts to discredit them by the right, big corporations and the White system. In fact, I understand it started when the movement’s employees started getting hit with demands that they weren’t to disclose information about the charity’s affairs to lawyers and the people in the impoverished communities, who expected to be receiving money from them, wondered why they weren’t. And many Blacks, not just Conservatives, despise them not just for their corruption, but how they exploited real Black death and poverty simply to enrich themselves.

The organisation is Marxist, with extreme doctrines demanding the abolition of the traditional western nuclear family and seems to be following Critical Race Theory in regarding all Blacks as oppressed, and all Whites as oppressors – a divisive, nonsensical and racially vindictive doctrine. I very much believe that thanks to them and other organisations pushing the woke nonsense, race relations have got worse. I know this comes from the conservative right, but I think they were absolutely correct in exposing the organisation and its corruption.

Right Planning War on Teachers’ Union Over Wokeness?

October 9, 2022

Sorry I haven’t been posting much over the last few days. I had a hospital appointment Thursday and although it wasn’t anything serious, I haven’t felt much like posting anything online afterwards. But I felt I had to post about this. I was watching one of the videos from the New Culture Forum yesterday. It’s the cultural offshoot of the Institute of Economic Affairs and has been set up to defend traditional British culture from left-wing ideas and ‘wokeness’. In this particular video, they were discussing various topics that had arisen over the past week. One of these was a video produced by biracial Tory Calvin Robinson about how British children’s education is being ruined by left-wing teachers pushing Critical Race Theory and so on. Now I do agree with them about Critical Race Theory. I think it’s just a form of militant anti-White racism based on a mixture of Marxist legal theory and postmodernism. It considers that all Black people are automatically oppressed because of their colour, while White people are privileged and should be made to feel ashamed and humiliated because of this. It’s divisive and I see absolutely no value in it whatsoever. But Critical Race Theory is only one of their targets. The broader target is the teaching profession itself, which they decided is far too left-wing and needs to be comprehensively attacked.

My mother was a primary school teacher, and I did my first degree at a teacher training college, which has since become one of the new universities. I realise that this is nearly forty years ago, and I honestly don’t know how much has changed or not. I did an MA in history in 2004 and then a Ph.D. in archaeology at Bristol university, graduating ten years ago. My experience of university is therefore dated and limited. But this contradicts some of the assertions that the New Culture Forum were making. They claimed that 85 per cent plus of teachers were left leaning. Perhaps they are. And so, the arch-Tories claimed, they wished to indoctrinate children with woke doctrines like CRT, Postcolonial Theory and so on. They also asserted that they were generally indoctrinating people with the left-wing attitudes that only people on the left support the NHS and are caring.

Now my experience is that teachers, whether left or right, go into the profession for the simple reason that they want to stand up before a class and teach. And what they want to teach is the traditional academic subjects – the three ‘Rs’, history, science, geography or whatever. They don’t want to push Critical Race Theory, Postcolonial Theory or Queer Theory. Issues of race, gender, sexuality, feminism and so on used be part of what was called ‘the hidden curriculum’, the set of values that the educational system sought to impart to its pupils. From what I can see, the overt teaching of issues like anti-racism was imposed from outside the school by the local education authority and involved outside groups. After the 1981/2 riots, for example, the school at which my mother taught was visited by such a specialist group to teach the children to be anti-racist. As far as I can make out, this came from above, from the council or LEA and that neither the school nor its headmaster had anything to do with it. Today there are concerns about schoolchildren in Brighton being taught Critical Race Theory, and one man has taken his child out of the local school there and was protesting against it. But the leader of Brighton council is a member of the Green party, and this seems to be part of Green party policy down there. The New Culture Forum, as could be expected from a group of high Tories, declared that it was the fault of the unions. Well, the National Union of Teachers, from what I can remember, is very hot on anti-racism and so on, but there were a variety of different teaching unions, and I don’t think they were all the same.

As for universities, some lecturers are admittedly very left-wing. Others are, or used to be, Tory. And others keep their political and religious opinions out of the classroom. With some of the ‘woke’ courses that are being made mandatory at certain universities, such as anti-racism awareness for freshers, the impression I get is that they are being imposed by the administration. This seems to be largely a response to criticism from the Black community. Blacks tend to get lower grades than Whites, and so universities have been under pressure since the 1980s to implement affirmative action programmes to admit more Black students by lowering the grades required. And it’s also being done in response to complaints that Black and Asian staff and students also suffer from racial abuse and so on. This aspect does indeed come from the Black sections of the unions, as reported by the Guardian.

The impression that teachers have been indoctrinating vulnerable little minds with Communism has been around since the days of Thatcher, when her government started a moral panic about Peace Studies. I think this latest round of political suspicion and witch hunting is partly a result of concerns across the Atlantic about the promotion of Critical Race Theory, Black Lives Matter and Queer Theory in schools. There have been a number of videos put up on right-wing YouTube channels commenting on TikTok videos by gay/trans teachers informing the world about their sexuality and how they’re trying to teach their class about it, as well as news stories and controversies about Drag Queen Story Hour. But while this goes on, I’m really not sure how widespread it is. I’ve watched videos that have claimed it’s near uniform because of the influence of these doctrines and left-wing staff on the American teacher training courses. But I’m not American, and my contact with the American education system has been limited to American exchange and other students at the universities and colleges I attended.

I am also unsure how far the local authorities can be blamed for the schools in their area teaching left-wing doctrines like Critical Race Theory. I was at school just before the National Curriculum came in, when schools had far greater freedom to teach what and how they chose. This freedom has been limited by the National Curriculum. Also, schools have been part-privatised by being transformed into academies. This system was intended to take them out of local authority control. But if schools are teaching subjects like CRT and Queer Theory, it has to be due to the wishes of the academy chain itself. These are private companies, which makes it difficult for Tories like the New Culture Forum to blame the state or left-wing local authorities. It’s no doubt why they’re blaming the teaching unions instead.

So, what are their solutions to all this? They discussed home schooling but rejected that on the grounds that working class parents have neither the time nor the books required to do it. They concluded that if the education system could be rescued at all, there had to be a battle with the unions ‘like the miners’ strike’.

This is very ominous.

I’m not in favour of anyone imposing their own personal political opinions schools. But I’d say that the most pressing issues in education aren’t about Critical Race Theory and so on. They’re the constant issues of underfunding and poor pay for teaching staff, lack of resources and teaching materials and inability to retain staff. There are concerns that children’s, and particularly boy’s personal development and educational performance is being harmed by the lack of male teachers. But one solution to that would be to raise salaries to a level where they would be attractive to men, where they felt that it was worth their while economically to go into teaching rather than a better paid profession. Or launch a campaign that would otherwise attract more men in the same way that other, traditionally masculine professions, are trying to attract women. As for universities, the main issue there in my opinion is the extremely high tuition fees. As far as I can see, the money from these isn’t going to teaching staff, who can be quite poorly paid. One of my friends was an assistant lecturer for a time in the ’90s. It all seems to be going on the bloated salaries of university chancellors and administrators. These seem to me to be the real issues, though I’m not discounting the harm done by the introduction of specifically woke courses. And whatever the New Culture Forum may say, no, the Tories do not support the NHS.

Their talk of attacking the teaching unions is frightening, because it means another Tory assault on state education generally, at a time when education is in crisis because of Tory privatisation policies.

Get the Tories out, renationalise schools and get rid of tuition fees!

Helen Pluckrose Explains to Conservatives that the Left Is also Resisting Woke Postmodernism

August 15, 2022

Helen Pluckrose is one of the trio of academics with Peter Boghossian and James Lindsay who are determined to write about, expose and combat that woke postmodernist theories and ideologies now threatening academia and society. While James Lindsay seems to be a man of the right, with a real hatred of communism, Pluckrose is far more left-wing. She describes her values and beliefs as socialist, but has also said that she now describes herself as a liberal from determination to preserve and uphold liberalism’s essential philosophical values of free speech, logic, reason and individualism. These vital pillars underpinning modern liberal, democratic society are denied and threatened by the new postmodernist disciplines of Critical Race Theory, Queer Theory, Post-Colonial Theory and so on.

These disciplines reject factual analysis, replacing it instead with language and discourse, and replace logic and reason with assertion and feeling. In her book with James Lindsay, Cynical Theories (Swift Press, 2021) she quotes various postmodernist writers, who make it very clear that they reject facts and logic because that’s not how Blacks and people from ethnic minorities view and interact with the world. Instead, according to these ideologues, non-Whites use instead legend and ‘lived experience’. This irrationalism is shared by White Fascism movements. The Nazis and Italian Fascists also celebrated irrationalism, particularly in the latter’s anti-positivist movement, instead proclaiming that there were certain truths that only members of the nation (Fascists) or Volk (Nazis) could know. Instead of universalism, the Fascists and Nazis also declared that the races had their own set of values, and that modern, democratic civilisation was alien to the Italian and Aryan, Germanic peoples. Despite claiming that they’re fighting racism, the supporters and ideologues responsible for Critical Race Theory repeat some of the same racism as the Fascist right, just from an anti-White quasi-Marxist postmodern perspective.

And I imagine that a number of Blacks and other people of colour are, or would be very annoyed by Critical Race Theory’s assumptions that they are somehow less rational, less capable of using logic, than Whites. This is, after all, the same assumptions White racial theorists made to justify the system of laws keeping Blacks down, in slavery and segregation.

Pluckrose has posted a long essay, ‘A Short Letter to a Misunderstanding Right’ on Lindsay’s New Discourses channel on YouTube. The right frequently claims that the left uniformly supports the postmodern, ‘Critical’ Theories. Matt Walsh does this, as do the Lotus Eaters. In her essay, Pluckrose explains how the Critical Theories have arisen and co-opted parts of standard left-wing ideologies and concerns, but attacks the attitude that the left is solidly behind them. She states that the left is a coalition of different groups, just as the right is. She explains why Communists, Socialists and pro-capitalist liberals also reject the Critical Theories because of their intolerance, their neglect of economics and abandonment of the working class. Gender critical feminists are also strongly opposed to them because they reject the reality of biological sex.

She concludes

‘Nevertheless, while most conservatives are more keenly aware of the problems with Critical Social Justice, they are slow to understand that, like on their own side of the aisle, “the left” is a coalition made up of several factions that do not agree with one another. Just as free-market libertarians cannot reasonably be blamed for the beliefs of anti-capitalist Christian conservatives, who in turn disagree strongly with anti-capitalist conservative Muslims, and center-right classical liberals and center-right social conservatives both also exist and disagree with each other and all the rest of these groups, so too is the left comprised of people with very different ideas who fully understand and consistently oppose each other. We frequently hear much confusion from some conservatives who seem to think Marxism and postmodernism are variations on the same thing and that (in the US) all of them fall into the broader category of “liberal” despite the gallons of ink spilled over the disagreement between all of these factions for decades if not centuries. Very often, we will hear: “The left is all [Critical] Social Justice (Warriors), and if it’s not, why aren’t any of the other lefties opposing them?”

In response, the Marxists, radicals, and most socialists respond with exasperation: with something like, “Are you serious? We were the first to address the issue of postmodernism. We’ve been telling you that postmodernism is a problem for half a century now. Read our critiques of it. Begin with Chomsky vs Foucault in 1971, move on to Fredric Jameson in 1991, and then have a look what the World Socialist Web Site has to say about it right now. Liberal lefties (like me) wonder what more we have to do for you to notice both our existence and our opposition to the irrationalism and illiberalism of postmodernism and Critical Social Justice. I’ve just spent five years criticizing them full-time while advocating liberalism, and yet conservatives who found me precisely because of the criticism (and who often then leave again because of the liberalism) will still ask me why the reasonable left isn’t doing anything, if it even exists. Most of “the left” rejects Critical Social Justice every bit as much as you conservatives do, and it would be both nice and wise if you would start recognizing it and get away from the factionalist power-games mindset yourselves.

So, let’s have a deal. If conservatives can agree not to blame liberals or socialists (or even the radicals, kind of!) for Critical Social Justice, which has co-opted all of our movements and efforts against our will, we on the left can agree not to blame right-leaning libertarians and classical liberals for conspiracy theorists and religiously social conservatives who try to ban teaching of evolution and who want to render homosexuals as second-class citizens again. Your side is a coalition of factions, some of which need cleaning up, and so is ours. Most of us on “the left” are realizing we need to fight those on our Critical Social Justice fringe, and we hope you’ll start to notice.’

It’s a great piece and needs to be read by anyone concerned about the way sections of the right are using these Critical Theories as a weapon to smear and discredit the left.

The essay can be read at: https://newdiscourses.com/2020/03/letter-misunderstanding-right/

Critical Race Theory, White Privilege and the Rhetoric of Ethnic Cleansing

August 2, 2022

As readers will have probably noticed, I have very strong objections to Critical Race Theory and particularly its concept of White privilege. Critical Race Theory is a postmodern revision of Marxism, dreamt up in the 1970s by Kimberle Crenshaw and a group of Black Marxist legal scholars in the 1970s. It replaces class as the instrument of oppression with race. ‘Whiteness’ is a bourgeois quality possessed by all Whites which guarantees them social, economic and political superiority to Blacks and other people of colour. Even if the individual White person is not racist. Racism, it also holds, has not declined, but is just better hidden. Whites must be made to know Black oppression and feel guilty about it. Much of the literature of Critical Race Theory and its activism is about deliberately humiliating Whites. For example, several years ago there were student riots at Evergreen College in Oregon. The college was very liberal, and there had been for decades since the 1970s an annual withdrawal of Black students during the summer months to mark the absence of Blacks during a critical phase in the civil rights struggle or so. By the middle of the last decade, this had changed into demands for the White students to absent themselves in favour of Blacks, in order to appreciate Black marginalisation. This was succeeded by a series of aggressive student demonstration in which Blacks and their White allies insisted on forcing Whites into inferior positions. At meetings, for example, Whites were required to sit at the back and not speak. Brett Weinstein, an evolutionary biologist with liberal views, describes it as ‘Black supremacy’. Not all Blacks supported this aggressive demonstration of racial vindictiveness, and one of Weinstein’s students, a young Black woman, shouted at the mob that she wasn’t oppressed. Students of whatever colour, who didn’t conform, were chased by the mob. Peter Boghossian, Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay also demonstrated the irrationality and vicious prejudice of this woke pseudo-scholarship in the spoof papers they sent to various woke, postmodern journals, which were eventually collected up and published as Grievance Studies. In one paper, they argued that White male students should be forced to sit on the floor in order to teach them about marginalisation and persecution. They believed this would be too much for the academic journal to which they had submitted it. Alas, no; it was accepted with a reply complaining that they didn’t go far enough: the young men shouldn’t just be forced to sit on the floor, but should be chained up as well.

Part of what worries me about the concept of ‘White privilege’ is that privilege is something usually said of rich minority groups, who haven’t worked for their position, such as the aristocracy. Or the half of the British business elite that has inherited the ownership of their companies, rather than having worked their way up. It also recalls the legal privileges that accompanied the European class system, particularly under feudalism, and the legal restriction placed on Blacks in Jim Crow America and in the White-ruled colonies, like Rhodesia, Malawi and South Africa, until the beginning of Black majority rule. For example, until the establishment of democracy in the 1920s in Britain, women were barred from voting and there was a property qualification on the franchise, so that the majority of working class men did not have the vote either. I also believe that there was a property qualification on serving on juries, which was only abolished by Woy, sorry, Roy Jenkins in his socially liberal reforms of the 1960s. Much of the ire directed at Jenkins from the right comes from his decriminalisation of homosexuality and his relaxation of the divorce laws. One splenetic right-winger- from the Daily Heil perhaps? – once described him as a destroyer of British society comparable to Stalin or some other totalitarian monster. Really? Just Jenkins on his own? With his ‘good claret expression’, to use the words of caricaturist Gerald Scarfe. The last time I looked, Britain’s buildings were all standing rather than reduced to rubble by the rampaging hordes, and Jenkins and the Labour party following him had sent a precise number of zero people to concentration camps or re-education centres. But a certain type of high Tory does want all this back. The Financial Times reviewed one such book, which looked forward to the return of the property qualification for juries so they would protect property rights, and the restoration of the old order before anti-discrimination legislation.

In fact there are very strong arguments against White privilege. For a start, east Asian such as the Chinese and Japanese, perform much better educationally and economically than Whites in America and Britain. In Britain the proportion of Asians in management positions, for example, is identical to Whites. In America, they earn more and occupy superior jobs. And while Blacks are sacked before Whites, Whites are sacked before east Asians. This isn’t because east Asians are superior in IQ. It’s because they seem to work harder and have a particular set of cultural skills that allow them to succeed. And in many instances, they earned their position through very hard work against prejudice and discrimination. One social study found that the Japanese in Canada were the most ‘privileged’ ethnic group. But Japanese Canadians had had a long struggle against punitive discrimination which was worse than that experienced by people of Japanese descent in the US. And immigrants to the US from the British Caribbean earn more on average not just to native Black Americans, but also to Whites. For Black conservatives like Thomas Sowell, Blacks are held back not by racial discrimination in the wider society, though he doesn’t deny this exists, but because the majority Black culture hasn’t acquired the necessary social and economic skills to uplift themselves And he is fiercely critical of multiculturalism because he believes it isolates and ossifies different ethnic groups into separate enclaves and cultural preserves, thus preventing from learning from and acquiring the skills of other, more successful groups. As for White privilege, it is hard to see what privilege a homeless White man possesses compared to tenured and respected Black academics and radicals like Crenshaw.

To me, Critical Race Theory and White privilege tackle the problem of Black poverty and marginalisation from the wrong end. Instead of seeing Black poverty as the anomaly which must be tackled, it sees White success as the anomaly, which must be destroyed if Blacks and people of colour are to take their rightful place in society. Thus White people must be brought down and Whiteness abolished. The Guardian, which promotes Critical Race Theory, as claimed that this doesn’t mean White people but Whiteness as the social quality that gives them their exalted place. But one of the writers anthologised in the collection of papers, Critical Race Theory, states that there is no difference between Whiteness and White people. And one of the fears of CRT’s critics is that after attacking Whiteness, the radicals will indeed move on to attacking Whites.

It seems to me that the Critical Race Theory and White privilege are essentially a continuation of the mindset that Whites enjoy their superior social position through mechanisms of power long after those legal mechanisms had been officially abolished and the ideology on which they were based was discredited. It’s an attempted to explain why, after the victories of the Civil Rights movement, the majority of Blacks are still poor. And the rhetoric of decolonisation over here seems to be a direct transference of the bitterness felt by indigenous Africans to privileged White settlers to mainstream British, White society. And that worries me, because of the brutality of the ethnic cleansing of the White farmers in Zimbabwe by Mugabe’s thugs at the beginning of the century. I also have to say that I’m worried about the trends in Afrocentric and other Black pseudohistory that claims that Blacks are the original inhabitants of the British isles. Simon Webb of History Debunked yesterday put up a post about the claims in a book on African and Afro-Caribbean communities in the UK, that there are folktales of Africans invading Britain before the Romans. Webb has his own racial biases and some the historical claims he makes are also false. But if he’s right about this, then the author of the book, Hakim Adi, a professor at Chichester university, is talking pure tosh. I am aware of no such folktales, not even when I was a member of the Society for Contemporary Legend Research back in the 1990s. The closest I’ve come to it was in the long-running and sadly missed Celtic warrior strip, Slaine, in the zarjaz SF comic 2000AD. This included a race of Black Atlanteans, the Rmoahals, described as giant aboriginals. The strip’s writer, Pat Mills, based them on a legend that the standing stones of the isle of Callanish in the Hebrides were built by Black-skinned giants who dressed in feathers. Aside from that, the only other source for this curious assertion may be a garbled memory of one of the waves of colonisation that swept over Britain and the continent during prehistory. The Neolithic reached Britain from the fertile crescent over two routes. One was directly across Europe itself, the other was across North Africa and then up from Morocco through Spain. But this occurred so long ago that it was lost to memory for millennia. Archaeologists have only now been able to reconstruct it by using genetic data. Has Adi heard a garbled version of this from within the Black community, from people who mistakenly thought this was a Black African invasion? It also reminds me of the claim made a few years ago that the ancient Egyptians settled in Birmingham before the Roman conquest. This appeared in the Independent, but has, I understand, since been discredited. It also seems to me to have a certain kinship to another piece of Black myth-making, that sailors from Mali discovered America before Columbus, but didn’t enslave the Amerindians. If this happened, it would be truly remarkable, as I’ve seen claims that the Malians didn’t have any ocean-going ships. And the Malinka were a powerful slaving nation, so if they did discover the Amerindians, there would have been nothing preventing them from enslaving them as well.

My fear is that this rhetoric and pseudohistory will cause Blacks, or a minority of Blacks, to see themselves as the oppressed, true inhabitants of Britain and attack the White British as colonialist oppressors. Even if, at present, they claim otherwise. When the Black Lives Matter movement broke out, its Bristol branch stuck up posters claiming that ‘We’ve always been here’ – which is hi8storically very debatable, although some Blacks have been present in Britain at various periods from the Middle Ages onwards. Claims of Black presence further back, such as the supposed Black skin colour of Cheddar man, are more conjectural. Webb has claimed that this reconstruction was based on a false interpretation and has since been retracted, but I have not seen him cite his source for this.

Marx himself held some extremely unpleasant racial views. He’s most infamous for his anti-Semitism, as shown by him sneering at his German rival, Ferdinand Lassalles, as ‘the Jewish ni++er.’ But he also had strong prejudices against European ethnic groups. He held that the Celts, Basques and the Slavs were backward peoples who had no intrinsic right to exist and national independence. When the 1848 Revolutions broke out, he was afraid that their bids for independence would stop the class revolution he wished to promote. In a chilling passage, he looked forward to the class war becoming a race war. This recalls the horrific ethnic cleansing and deportations Stalin inflicted on the national minorities in the USSR, including the Holodomor, the artificial famine in Ukraine which killed 7 million people.

Thomas Sowell in his book Conquests and Cultures talks about the ethnic cleansing by Muslim mobs of the Ibo people by Muslims in Nigeria and the horrific bloodbath of the Biafran war. The Ibos had previously been a minor, poor tribe but had seized the opportunities presented by western, Christian missionary education, which the northern Muslims had rejected as against their faith. As a result, Ibos were better educated and held better jobs and positions of responsibility even in the Muslim north. This was naturally resented, and the resentment grew into violence. Sowell notes that these tensions were heightened by the language each side used against the other. He writes

‘The problem was not simply that there were differences of opinion, but that there were not established and mutually respected traditions for airing those differences with restraint and accommodation. Vitriolic polemic in the press and in the political arena became the norm. Epithets like “fascist” and “imperialist stooge” became commo currency, along with unbridled expressions of tribal chauvinism.’ (p. 127). In the West there are respected means of airing such differences, but the insults sound very much like the language used by the woke, radical intersectional left against its opponents.

And there is anti-White racism and violence. Two decades ago the number of Whites killed in racist attacks was nearly the same as members of Blacks and other ethnic minorities. There have been armed attacks by Blacks on Whites in the past few weeks and months. One was when a man opened fire on the passengers on a subway. Another was when a Black man deliberately drove his car into a parade in a White community. He left behind a manifesto which made it very clear that this was an act of anti-White terrorism. But this was not treated as such by the Biden administration.

I am very pessimistic about the success of affirmative actions schemes in creating a sustainable Black middle class. As I understand it, this was originally intended to be only a temporary measure. Once Blacks had gained entry into education, the sciences, politics and business on a level comparable with Whites, these schemes were to be dismantled as they would no longer be needed. But forty years after the Runnymede Commission recommended ‘positive discrimination’ in which Blacks are to be favoured by offering places with lower grades to universities and colleges, and preferential job offers if they have lower qualifications, the mass of Black Britain still remains poor and marginalised. I don’t, however, know how bad the situation would otherwise be if these policies had not been implemented. It could be they would have been much worse.

Nevertheless I do fear that these policies will continue to fail and that, in their anger and desperation, some Blacks will begin pogroms against Whites, encouraged by the rhetoric and arguments of Critical Race Theory.

Bristol Live on the Local Protests Against Drag Queen Story Hour at a Bristol Library

July 28, 2022

Drag Queen Story Hour, in which drag performers tell stories to children in school and public libraries, is the subject of growing intense controversy. It was started in Los Angeles or one of the other Californian cities with a strong gay community a few years ago. Since then it’s spread across America and into Britain. It’s supporters believe that it promotes tolerance, while their opponents are worried that it’s a forming of paedophile grooming. The accusation has a degree of verisimilitude, as there have been papers written by from the perspective of Queer Theory, a form of postmodern Marxism, promoting Drag Queen Story Hour as a form of ‘queer pedagogy’ intended not to create tolerance and acceptance for gays, or to lead young gay people to become comfortable in their sexuality and become otherwise normal, well-adjusted, happy members of society. Or as happy as anyone can be as capitalism crumbles all around us and the elite get richer while making the rest of us plebs and peasants poorer. No, it has been promoted as a way of getting them to ‘live queerly’ and to make their psychological problems worse in order to generate the militant revolutionary consciousness needed for the violent overthrow of capitalism. One such essay, published in an academic educational periodical is the subject of a series of videos by one of the anti-postmodernist activists and critics. How many people involved in Drag Queen Story Hour are aware of this activist fringe, let alone support it, is a good question.

There have been protests against it in America. An angry group of fathers turned up at a Story Hour event in Texas, where they harangued the drag artiste as a paedophile and groomer. A day or so ago a similar event in Reading here in Britain was stopped after a similar protest was staged. Now there’s this article from Bristol Live, reporting that a Story Hour at a library in the suburb of Henleaze was also cancelled today following protests. The article by Ellie Kendal, ‘Drag Queen Story Hour UK protests: Bristol City Council says discrimination and abuse will not be tolerated‘ begins

‘Bristol City Council has today issued a statement to say it will not tolerate any discrimination or abuse aimed at any community, following protests at a library event for young children in the city. Drag Queen Story Hour was scheduled to begin a series of library appearances in Bristol today, starting at Henleaze Library, however the event was later cancelled as protesters against the event gathered outside.

Drag Queen Story Hour began its national summer tour on Monday, July 25, in Reading where its founder and performer Aida H Dee, who grew up in Bristol, had her reading interrupted by protesters, two of which organisers said had “gained access to the story hour by using their own disabled autistic child as a ‘human trojan horse’.

The police had to get involved and Aida herself had to be escorted out of the event, with officers having to form a ‘human wall’ to protect her from an assault, or a ‘citizen’s arrest’ – something even protesters here in Bristol today said they were planning on doing. Police also attended today’s Bristol event in Henleaze, acting as a barrier between two opposing groups of protesters.

Read more: Live: Protesters clash outside Drag Story Time as group threatens citizen arrest on drag artist

Meanwhile, parents and their young children queued up outside the library mere metres from the protesters – some fearing for their safety. They were let inside, however the event was later cancelled. The next event is due to take place at another library in Bristol at 1pm.’

I think the Reading Drag Queen event was part of a national tour organised and begun by Bristol libraries service. The event got the attention of the American right-wing internet pundits a few weeks ago when there were protests about the ‘family sex show’, advertised as suitable for children as young as five, staged by a group at the Tobacco Factory theatre in Bristol.

My Email Conversation with the Secretary of South Bristol Labour Party over the Trans Issue

July 21, 2022

I sent an email to the secretary of local Labour party last week following the monthly meeting on Thursday in which our local MP, Karin Smyth, was taken to task by the LGBTQ+ officer. Karin has defended the attendance of the anti-trans group, Labour Women’s Declaration at the Labour conference this year. The LGTBQ officer seemed to think they were simply a hate group, who believed that trans people were communists. I sent the secretary an email stating some of the issues involved, like preserving women’s sex based rights, and dignity and safety in schools, prisons and rape crisis centres, as well as their autonomy in sports. And as bonkers as it sounds, unfortunately some extremists, taking their lead from Queer Theory, do see the trans movement as a method of indoctrinating children and others to live ‘queerly’, but not as well-adjusted gay men and women, living in a tolerant and accepting society. Rather they see the ultimate goal of the kind of queer consciousness they wish to promote as a radically unstable sense of identity, dissatisfied with bourgeois society and determined to overthrow it.

A few days ago I got this very kind reply from the secretary, who wrote:

‘David

Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts

What do you want me to do with your email as at the moment it is only reaching myself as I monitor this inbox?

I could pass to all of Exec. if you are happy for me to do that and we could discuss how to take forward.

A discussion on this topic at an All Member Meeting would be tricky to chair and I am not sure I could volunteer to do that

A brave attempt was made by Red Line TV here: https://youtu.be/q9pwiS9Tv3Q

The trans debate has become really hostile and closed in my view with many feaful of expressing viewd or even asking questions for fear of being accused of transphobia

Karin gave a robust response to the question.’

I’ve emailed the secretary back, stating that I merely want the email passed on to the LGBTQ+ officer. I also say that because of the toxicity of the issue, I don’t want a debate because we need to be united against everything the Tories are doing to working people.

‘Dear Aileen,

Thank you for your kind reply and the link to the debate on the trans issue by Red Line media. I completely understand your reluctance to chair a debate on the issue because it has become just so toxic and polarising. I’d be happy if you just passed it on to the LGBTQ+ officer. My point in writing is simply to point out that, in my view, Labour Women’s Declaration have a legitimate ethical and scientific case. And also that, as mad as it sounds, there are Marxists who wish to go further and use the gay and trans movements not to promote tolerance and inclusion, but as a form of political indoctrination. 

I was also very impression with Karin’s defence, and have emailed her to tell her so.

I do not wish to cause division in the party over this issue, and especially not as I’m sure there is so much else we all can agree on. And not now when the Tories are so deep on their assault on working people of all colours, sexuality and gender identity. I note from an article in yesterday’s Independent that they have removed a pledge to support abortion and women’s sexual health rights from a Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office statement on religious freedom and gender equality. This shows to me that they intend to go follow the Americans in trying to ban abortion, as Karin and so many other people warned on Thursday. I also note from American news on the Net that the House of Representatives is hurrying to pass legislation safeguarding gay and interracial marriage. And right-wingers like Michael Knowles are asking their followers if gay marriage should be the next right to be overturned.

These are grim times, and I hope whatever our respective views on the trans issue, we can all come together to resist Tory profiteering, the cuts to the NHS and its stealth privatisation, the continuing destruction of the welfare state and the attempts to strip women of their rights to abortion. As well as any attacks on gay marriage if they attempt that.

Yours with very best wishes,

Dave Sivier’