Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Ferguson & the Nature of Riots

 


ferguson screenshot 4
Protesters break windshield of police car in Ferguson (Screenshot from Local Live Feed after Ferguson Decision)

It's not necessarily the case that riots “signify intense anger” or “a lack of justice”: riots often simply symbolise riots.

Consider:

  1. Some young men like violence and they also like to riot. Rioting can be extremely exciting to young men. It can also be a very good opportunity to obtain some free goods (i.e., to loot).
  2. Radical leftists and other kinds of political activists like to utilise such young men – as well as their riots – for their own political ends (in some cases the rioters and the politicos are the same people.)
Historically, and more recently, there have been many riots instigated and conducted on the most flimsy of evidence.

Conversely, there have been many governmental or police misdeeds that haven’t engendered riots. And why is it often the case that the same groups riot (or carry out acts of violence/terrorism) even though they suffer no more discrimination or poverty than other groups? (It should also be noted that most riots occur in hot weather – an ideal time for a riot.)

So if all that’s sometimes the case, do rioters, like terrorists, think that riots work to achieve their ends? Well, in a certain sense terrorism has worked in that governments have given in to specific terror groups or specific acts of terror; and the same is true of rioting.

Rioting has political repercussions, which is precisely what the instigators and some of the rioters intend. It’s not that riots and terrorism are the necessary results of extreme injustice or anger; as Marxist theory has it (though Marxists don’t apply that to rioters and terrorists who have the wrong views).

It’s that rioting and terrorism can be used as very convenient and undemocratic routes to rapid political change.

The Grand Jury’s Decision


In the case of Ferguson, the state prosecutor, Robert McCulloch, said that the jury had exhaustively examined the evidence in order to make the decision whether or not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the murder of Michael Brown. There is no doubt that Michael Brown died after being shot by Wilson, but the question was whether Wilson was acting in self defense, or was he a rogue police officer who killed Michael Brown indiscriminately, for no other reason – as asserted by some – than racism?

McCulloch even went so far as to say that that the “grand jurors poured their hearts and soul into this process”. It was also the case that 1,000 pages of grand jury documents were released (on Monday) by the authorities.

Now even if some people don’t like the result; that doesn’t give them the right-to-riot. And even if people dispute the result; that still doesn’t give them the right-to-riot.

Think about the logic of not accepting the grand jury and randomly selected jurors’ decision. It means that every time a jury doesn’t come to the result you want, you can justifiably riot. Indeed it also means that every time a jury does come to a result you’re happy with, other people can riot instead!

Another way of putting this is that if people legitimise (or rationalise) riots, then if the jury had come to the decision of “unlawful killing” (or that the police wee motivated by racism), then perhaps the white community of Ferguson would also have had the right-to-riot as a result of that particular hypothetical outcome.

The Logic of Racism


This author does not know the complete truth about this case. But neither do the rioters, the “race hustlers” or radical leftists who’ve played this death like virtuosos.

Protesters have been chanting, “Hands up, don’t shoot” – a reference to what some witnesses have said occurred on the day in August when Brown was killed.

The protesters aren’t willing to accept the testimony of the police because they deem them to be racists. But what if other people don’t accept the testimony of these few witnesses because they deem them to be using this death to further certain political goals; or maybe because they deem the witnesses to be anti-white racists?

Skepticism towards one group can just as easily be applied to another.

This might have been the logic of some of the witnesses; as well as of the radical leftists and race hustlers involved:

A white cop killed a black man. Therefore it must have been an act of racism. Full Stop.
 
So every time a black man mugs a white man or rapes a white woman, is that also automatically an act of racism? (I doubt that leftist logic will stretch in that direction.)

The logic (at least at times) really is that simple. In fact it is made to be that simple because many political activists want it to be that simple. And they want it to be that simple because only such crude simplicity will help them further their own political goals.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Left Unity's John Tummon Supports the Islamic State (IS) & Caliphate



Many Leftists have gone way beyond merely defending Muslims (against what they claim to be racism, etc.) to defending and even championing Islam itself.
 
I first noted this when I was debating (if that's the correct word) with a supporter/member of the communist-run group Hope Not Hate. This Facebook activist began by saying all the usual stuff (e.g., all the critics of Islam are really “racists” and/or “fascists” in disguise). However, she soon began posting stuff about Islam itself. More correctly, she began cutting-and-pasting large chunks of material from various Islamic websites and even from the Koran. (To read an account of this, see my 'Hope Not Hate Defends Shia Blood Rituals'.)
 
It's no surprise that such people have the hots for Islam as it's as collectivist and indeed totalitarian in nature as Marxism/Leftism itself is.
 
Like Marxism, Islam offers “totalist” (to use a word from post-structuralism) solutions to.... well, all problems. And Leftists, like most Muslims, like that. Many Leftists also deem Islam to be intrinsically anti-capitalist; as well as being (conveniently for them) anti-Western.
 
So it's not a surprise either that John Tummon (of Left Unity) has also gone way beyond defending Muslims to now embracing all sorts of Islamic ideas and causes; including the Caliphate, the Islamic State (IS), the Ottoman Empire, the Ummah, sharia law, Islamic legal traditions and so on. Unlike my Hope Not Hate friend, however, he stops short of actually quoting from the Koran or hadith.
 
John Tummon made his outrageous claims at a Left Unity Conference which ran between the 15th and the 16th of November (2014). More specifically, his words formed part of an 'Amendment' to a 'Session' entitled 'A socialist Response to the actions of the Islamic State'.
 
The Progressive Islamic State (IS)              



John Tummon is a revolutionary Marxist. Thus he sees literally all things in terms of the Manichean battle between capitalist evil and non-capitalist good. It really is that simple to him (despite his academic jargon and regular use of the word “analytical”); as it is to all Marxists.
 
On the other hand, anything negative that's said or written not just about Muslims - but also about IS - is almost automatically deemed (by John Tummon) to be a “piece of western propaganda” (August 22, 2014).
 
John Tummon puts his most basic (Marxist) point in a brutally simple way.
 
That point is that most – or even all – Islamic terrorism and violence (including that of the Islamic State) is simply “Muslim resistance to imperialism” (August 15th).
 
Moreover, John Tummon's sees the Islamic State (IS) and everything that's currently happening in Iraq and Syria
 
"as the latest tragic chapter in the complex and divided resistance of the peoples of the Middle East against the imperialist intervention of the western capitalist powers”.
 
As for what John Tummon says about the Ottoman Caliphate, it exactly replicates the position of the Islamist group, Hizb ut-Tahrir. And since Tummon himself mentions Hizb ut-Tahrir, one must conclude that he has read its publications. Either that or a member of Hizb ut-Tahrir has actually helped John Tummon write the Left Unity 'amendment'.
 
According to Tummon, not only do conservatives or right-wingers suffer from Eurocentrism and Western propaganda when they criticise the beheadings, sex-slavery and other oppressions carry out by IS: so too do fellow Leftists. Or as John Tummon rather patronisingly puts it (August 18th, 2014):
 
Without meaning to insult you, your criteria are extremely Eurocentric and irrelevant to the options available for the region.”
 
In other words, whereas John Tummon thinks that it's wrong to “accept [ ] western secularism’s assumptions about what is and is not progressive”; it's nonetheless right (in his eyes) to project Marxist, white and middle-class European anti-imperialism into the minds of the Sunni jihadists who are killing and beheading in Iraq and Syria.
 
All along John Tummon paints the jihadists of Islamic State (IS) as victims.
 
Quite simply, to John Tummon, “Sunni Jihad [is] against imperialism”. In other words, Sunni jihadists are just like John Tummon; though with brown skin and an a-causal (epiphenomenonal) glow of religion (i.e., Islam) around them.
 
This effectively means that Tummon himself is as “Eurocentric” (his word) and even as racist as he accuses his critics of being. That is so because he's projecting his Marxist Western values into the heads of Arab Sunni jihadists.
 
Muslims are always victims to white, Western, middle-class Leftists like John Tummon. They are victims essentially because they are deemed - by such Leftists - to be children. They have no free will or conscience. They are but cogs in Marx's capitalist/imperialist socioeconomic machine (unlike the Marxists who completely transcend it). Thus they can never be held accountable for their thoughts; let alone for their actions.
 
So Tummon thinks he's being proudly anti-Eurocentric, anti-racist and anti-imperialist when he says the “atrocities” of IS “are not on a different moral plane to other atrocities committed over recent years in the region”. In fact “they emerge out of it and the brutalised context resulting from imperialism and the struggle against it”.
 
What John Tummon is conveniently forgetting here is that many (perhaps most) IS jihadists aren't even Iraqis. Thus their violence simply couldn't have emerged “out of” the “brutalised context resulting from imperialism and the struggle against it”. In other words, many IS fighters – as everyone except Tummon knows – went to Iraq (as well as Syria) specifically for the violence (as well as the sex slavery, etc.). Their violence didn't grow out of the conflict or even out of Marx's terrible socioeconomic conditions.
 
John Tummon also argues for the “progressive potential” of IS and its Caliphate. (Clearly is pathological hatred of capitalism has turned his brain to mush.) He says:
 
"Unlike a continuation of the framework of western-imposed nation states, it therefore, theoretically, has progressive potential....”
 
John Tummon advances his progressive-IS thesis by saying that that there's more hope for “progress” with IS than with any other group. In his words:
 
My question back to you, therefore, is do you think more space for progress exists within the status quo or within a proto-Caliphate which breaks with the imperialist settlement?”
 
John Tummon even defends IS by defending Stalin (or vice versa) in this way:
 
If the Left feels there was nothing wrong with Stalin providing an overarching stability to eastern Europe in these circumstances.... why should we by shy of supporting ISIS’s attempt to provide a new, overarching settlement in the northern Middle East?” (August 13th, 2014)
 
John Tummon's Hizb ut-Tahrir Version of the Caliphate


Perhaps the worst part of John Tummon's screed is his defence of a Caliphate that just before it destruction (in 1918-24) had slaughtered over two million Armenians and Chaldeans (i.e. in the Armenian Genocide) and the Assyrian Genocide) and which had sided with the Central Powers (including Germany) in World War One. (Ironically, many of the Armenians were slaughtered in Syria and 25,000 Armenians also fled to Iraq.)
 
As I said at the beginning, John Tummon's whole position on the Islamic Caliphate - and indeed on IS's attitude towards it - is straight out of Hizb ut-Tahrir's book. (Though Hizb ut-Tahrir is not entirely happy with the idea that the Islamic State has taken ownership - as it were - of the Caliphate from itself.)
 
John Tummon also reprimands us for not knowing about – or accepting – Hizb ut-Tahrir's stance on the Caliphate. He says that
 
[c]riticisms of the call for the Caliphate must be countered by knowledge and understanding. Painting it as inseparable from violence or empire building is a false association that lacks historical, political and intellectual credibility”.
 
And then Tummon tell us the truth – the Hizb ut-Tahrir truth – about the Caliphate:
 
The Caliphate represents an alternative political vision that is gathering support amongst Muslims across the Muslim world because, for its adherents, like Hizb ut-Tahrir, it stands for replacing the brutal regimes in which they live with a political system based on Islam that sets up an accountable executive, an organised judiciary, representative consultation, the rule of law and citizenship.”
 
(See the close similarity between John Tummon's vision of the Caliphate and Hizb ut-Tahrir's in this Hizb article entitled 'Muslims Will Not Compromise on the Khilafah!')
 
Conclusion

John Tummon is on the right.

 
As we have seen, some (many?) Leftists have swiftly and easily moved from defending Muslims to defending and even championing Islam itself.
 
So what could possibly happen next?
 
Yes, that's right: the obvious next step will be for some (many?) Leftists to actually become Muslims. In fact this has already happened on a fair few occasions.
 
The International Socialist “reverts” to Islam are doing exactly what many National Socialist (Nazi) war criminals did immediately after World War Two: embrace an equally-totalitarian and collectivist ideology by the name of Islam.
 
 
                                     ************************************
 
Note: Most of the quotes from John Tummon are from the Left Unity conference mentioned in the introduction. The other quotes (with dates) are from a Left Unity article entitled 'Arabia – the demise of the old colonial order'. John Tummon didn't actually write this piece, his words can be found in the 'Responses' section after the article.

                                              ***************************************

Notes

1) There's not much information on John Tummon. According to his own Facebook page, he was educated at Brewood Grammar School and then went on to Birkbeck, University of London. He teaches IB History at a college. (In other words, he's yet another middle-class Marxist academic.) He lives in Manchester.

2) The Left Unity 'amendment' (by John Tummon) itself is astonishing in its historical, political and theological ignorance. However, that ignorance may be willed in that this subject (like so many others) is simply a tool to advance the socialist revolution both (believe it or not) in the Middle East and here in the UK. Thus anything that advances that cause goes: including defending Islamic caliphates, IS and blaming everything (bad) that happens in the Muslim World on “Western imperialism”.

3) One point John Tummon often makes is that IS “has managed to attract substantial support from among Sunni Muslims”. Yes, that's true. And? For a Trotskyist it's strange that he places so much credence on the IS reception amongst fellow Sunnis. (The Nazis gained a lot of support in Germany in the 1920s and 1930s.)

More specifically, Tummon claims that his own group, Left Unity “does not accept the claim that all or most of these people only tolerate IS rule because of extreme coercion”.

4) Since all Westerners are evil (or at least the ones attached - in any way - to “capitalist states” or capitalism generally), then it follows, according to Marxist Manicheanism, that “[h]manitarian war is imperialist war by another name”.

5) John Tummon even accuses the Church of England of indulging in a crusade against IS, despite the C of E's almost complete silence - until relatively recently - on the widespread and massive killing and oppression of Christians in the Muslim world. As Tummon puts it:

Since the Church of England made the crusading call on Friday, quite deliberately demanding that Christian victims of military attacks by ISIS should be privileged over Muslim ones & asking Christians to ‘prey for the government’...” (August 17)

6) If John Tummon had read more “Western propaganda” (as he calls it) and less Marxist/Trotskyist theory, he would have known that from 2003 onwards it was outside jihadists who were doing there best to create and cause the violence in Iraq. Their violence didn't “emerge” out of anything. They required violence and chaos in order to further their jihadist dream of a Caliphate and full sharia law. It can be argued that if it weren't for outside jihadists (along with Iranian interference), things simply wouldn't have got as bad as they did in Iraq after 2003. Though since Tummon is a (positive/inverse) racist towards all Muslims and a Manichean anti-capitalist, there is no way he could recognise that. It simply must be the case (according to white, middle-class Marxist logic,) that all Muslims are always victims and the evil capitalist West is always and solely responsible for all the wrongs in Iraq (as well as everywhere else for that matter).

7) In an incredible example of Marxist psychological projection, John Tummon even believes that IS

represents an attempt to break fundamentally with the structure of religiously and ethnically divided nation states imposed on the region by Britain and France at the end of the First World War”.

The willed ignorance here is staggering.

For a start, IS has been one of the keenest supporters of religious division known in recent times. IS has slaughtered Christians, Shia Muslims, Kurds and any other group that deviates in any way from its own Salafist (Sunni) Islam. (There is the problem here in that Tummon believes all negative information about IS is a result of “Western propaganda”.)

The Caliphate IS wants to resurrect - as was the last one - will effectively be a imperialist empire much like the ones that John Tummon is arguing against. It may not be an capitalist imperialist empire; though does that really matter that much in these cases? Will somehow less people be “oppressed”, killed and subdued simply because it's an Islamic imperialist empire rather than a Western capitalist imperialist empire? Is it imperialist empires that socialists like Tummon are against or only Western capitalist imperialist empires? (Millions of communists and progressives supported the Soviet Union's imperialist empire from the early 1920s until, in many cases, after Stalin's death.)

8) John Tummon doesn't believe in what he calls the “atrocity count” approach to what IS is doing. John Tummon puts this point when he says:

... do you really think we should try to build policy on the basis of the atrocity count? That is the Amnesty International approach, which results in no attempt to analyse cause and effect!... (August 17, 2014)

In other words, it's not important how many people IS kills or subdues, what is important is why the Islamic State is doing this. And, of course, every single violent act by IS - as well as by Muslims across the word - is basically a response to “Western imperialism” or capitalism.

In any case, even the atrocities John Tummon admits to are nonetheless all the fault of Western imperialism and the break up the Caliphate. Thus Tummon fully understands the Islamic State's actions (just as his fellow Leftists justified, rationalised and were even jubilant about the 9/11 attack).

You see, mass murder and mass oppression are okay as long as they aren't capitalist/imperialist mass murder and imperialist/capitalist mass oppression. For dunderheads like John Tummon, it really is that simple.

Remember here that to these Manichean Leftists, capitalism/imperialism is so evil that any action whatsoever taken against it is either legitimate or at the very least understandable.

Of course John Tummon sometimes does have the decency to acknowledge the many “atrocities [IS] has carried out and its attack on the Kurds”. Nevertheless, elsewhere he more or less contradicts this statement. For example, he then talks about the “slimly-substantiated atrocity reports” (August 15th, 2014) against IS.

9) John Tummon's following words - give or take a few - could quite easily have been cut-and-pasted from Hizb ut-Tahrir's website:

Its call for a Caliphate holds out to Middle Eastern Muslims the promise of a return to something more like the Ottoman Caliphate that preceded western domination and held sway over a vast, complex and diverse empire, home to many ethnicities and faiths.”

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

RationalWiki: American Thinker is a Wingnut Publication







A RationalWiki piece informs its very-intelligent readers that American Thinker is a “wingnut publication”.

In a sub-link which explains the word “wingnut”, moonbat RationalWiki says that “not all conservatives are wingnuts”. Nonetheless, American Thinker is a “wingnut publication”. That must mean that RationalWiki believes that American Thinker isn't even a good kind of conservative publication. Bad conservatives, apparently, are “reactionary” or “radical right”: unlike the good ones.

It must now be asked whether or not this distinction between wingnut conservatives and rational conservatives is simply disingenuous. In other words, would this writer be willing to cite those conservatives he thinks are good? Would he also be willing to tell us why, exactly, he thinks that they are good? Judging from the tone of this piece and RationalWiki generally, I doubt that he would - or even could - do that.

Anyway, American Thinker is either reactionary or radical right (not both?). On top of that, people like me are “paranoid” and “authoritarian”. We also “refuse to accept any source as information” (what the hell does that mean?); as well as being prone to “conspiracy theories”, “psychological projection” and “crackpot theories”.

It gets worse.

American Thinker writers are also likely to be a “racist”, “misogynist” and “homophobic”.

Nonetheless, RationalWiki does acknowledge the possibility that “not all wingnuts” suffer from all these maladies at once. Despite saying that, such a bundle of evil and irrationality in a single human being “seems all the more common every day”.

It's fairly clear – to my irrational mind – that this writer might not have read a single American Thinker article. (As Uncyclopedia hints at later, he seems to rely on other Wikipedia articles.) For example, he comes out with this unbelievable claim:






"The magazine, of course, is chock-full of right-wing concpiracy theories, woo, pesudoscience, and anti-science.”


All this is stated without a single argument of any kind. All we have is smugness and sarcasm.

So apart from the smugness and hightened self-belief, RationalWiki's main thing seems to be its position on what it sees as “pseudoscience” and general irrationality.

Firstly, is there a RationalWiki piece on left-wing “conspiracy theories”? (Answer: no.) Secondly, I've never seen a single piece of “pseudoscience” in American Thinker. (Though that may be because, as an irrational wingnut, I wouldn't recognise pseudoscience if it slapped me in the face.) As for “anti-science”.... now that's simply outrageous. (What a pipsqueak this RationalWiki writer is!)

What this youth doesn't realise is that – to a rational thinker - generalising about your opponent is supposed to be a very bad thing. Ad hominems are generally to be avoided too.

So when he says that “they promote” (i.e., American Thinker promotes), he really means that a paticular American Thinker writer has promoted X or Y. (I doubt that I can even trust him on this claim.)

Now how many articles did this boy actually read? I can't answer that for sure. My bet is probably one or less. It's highly likely that he got all his information from elsewhere. Nonetheless, his very specific references to Jared Taylor and Vince Foster seem to suggest that he might have spent at least ten minutes writing this RationalWiki piece on American Thinker.

RationalWiki

RationalWiki sells itself in this way:

"Our purpose here at RationalWiki includes:

  1. Analyzing and refuting pseudoscience and the anti-science movement.
  2. Documenting the full range of crank ideas.
  3. Explorations of authoritarianism and fundamentalism.
  4. Analysis and criticism of how these subjects are handled in the media.”

(RationalWikialso tells us that at one point it was receiving “32,000 unique visitors per day”.)
 
The comedic Uncyclopedia, on the other hand, sells RationalWiki in this way. It says:
 
"RationalWiki is a wiki full of ratio-nal articles, which are part truth and part copied off Wikipedia. A majority of the userbase on RationalWiki are established liberal thinkers whose liberal interpretation of everything including the wiki's rules allows them to ban any fundamentalists who stick to the rules. On RationalWiki, the users frequently relish in taking IQ tests to prove themselves worthy of copying and pasting bits of Wikipedia on a blank page.....”
 
Unlike the sometimes-excellent Uncyclopedia, there's no hint that RationalWiki is actually designed to be funny. (That may explain why it isn't.) Nonetheless, in most of the pieces I've read there is some studentile sarcasm (though little humour) in almost every sentence.
 
So what about that adjective “rational” (as in RationalWiki)?
 
It's strange really because in this article - and in most of the others I've read at RationalWiki - there are virtually no arguments. There's a lot of sarcasm (as I said); though not much logical reasoning, argumentation or even discussion. It's as if the very fact these writers/editors have used the self-description “rational” (as well as the fact that it has a liberal - sometimes outright Leftist - slant) is all it takes to be, well, rational.
 
Similarly, RationalWiki believes that all it takes for someone to be irrational is to be a “right-winger”; or, worse still, be a writer for American Thinker.
 
RationalWiki's frequent citicisms of pseudoscience seem to be tied very closely to a lot of student sarcasm against the Right. And, of course, all conservatives (or “wingnuts”) are very “anti-science”; as well as being very susceptible to all sorts of “pseudoscience”. We're also extremely likely to be “authoritarian” and “fundamentalist”.
 
Contrawise, authoritarianism and fundamentalism are virtually unknown in the Left. Indeed almost every Leftist and Left-Liberal on the planet is a supremely “rational” being. Equally, the pious upholders of science can never - by (self)definition - be fundamentalist or authoritarian.
 
All that, my friend, is a scientific truth. And to believe otherwise is to be a wingnut.
 
RationalWiki on Other Things
 
To be fair, a few RationalWiki pieces do offer a little bit more – though not much more – detail. So it may be that American Thinker simply doesn't warrant much space. Nonetheless, the article on the UK's Daily Mail (which is slightly longer) informs us that “by any objective standards the Mail is Fascist”.... Yes, I'll repeat that just in case you think it's a misprint. RationalWiki believes - objectively believes - that the Daily Mail is fascist.
 
In addition, it's apparently the case - rationally speaking - that all Ukip supporters are “more-or-less completely scientifically illiterate”. (Yes, you can almost taste the combined smugness and snobbery here.)
 
And even in RationalWiki's slightly-more-detailed pieces there's still a superabundance of sarcasm and almost zero argument. I stress argument here because this website is called RationalWiki. And rationality - more than anything - should include genuine argumentation and debate.
 
So I wonder what purpose – other than grandstanding its own cleverness - RationalWiki serves.

                                  *********************************************

RationalWiki responded very quickly (within a day or two) to my article for American Thinker by updating its piece on the aforesaid American Thinker:

"... RationalWiki: American Thinker is Wingnut Publication (The Thinker (or, sorry, Paul Austin Murphy) is upset that RationalWiki labelled it "wingnut" and attacks RationalWiki's article for not having "a single argument of any kind", while in no way disproving the wingnuttiness of the Thinker. The Thinker claims that RationalWiki would not be willing to cite "good" conservatives and that RationalWiki doesn't ever attack leftists or left-wing conspiracy theories. When whining about being labeled conspiracy and pseudoscience prone, they leave out their strong history of global warming denialism and apparently ignore the external links below. They also attack "rational" in the name. To the taps!)"

One point I made in the article was how relentlessly sarcastic and smug RationalWiki is. And, lo and behold, even the writer of this riposte can't control himself. (He classes me as “the Thinker”.)

The quote above says that I haven't contributed to “disproving the wingnuttiness of the Thinker”. One, I didn't set out to do that. Two, what does RationalWiki mean by “disproving” exactly? (Proof, strictly speaking, belongs only to logic and mathematics. What would a disproof of American Thinker's “wingnuttiness” so much as look like?)

I wrote my piece on the single article by RationalWiki, not on the entire website (which will have many writers). So, yes, it does indeed provide a list of good conservatives. Most of them, as Uncyclopedia suggests, are made up of cut-and-pastes. But I will concede that RationalWiki does say that some conservatives - in some small ways - are “good”. And they are probably deemed to be good to the extent that they display liberal or even Leftist views or inclinations, which sort of defeats RationalWiki's object (if you catch my drift).

It also mentions my accusation that RationalWiki doesn't have a piece on left-wing conspiracy theories: it doesn't. However, in response to that it supplies a link to a piece on “moonbatery”, which is certainly not the same thing. Here again my bet is that many of the articles simply involve numerous cut-and-pastes from Wiki articles. The piece on Dianne Abbot, for example, is nearly all cut-and-pastes and involves no RationalWiki criticisms except in the indirect sense of using critical quotes from other people. In some of the other pieces on Leftist individuals and subjects, there are no RationalWiki criticisms at all, only endless cut-and-pastes.

The worst aspect of RationalWiki's riposte is to conflate anthropogenic-global- warming scepticism with “pseudoscience” and “conspiracy”. But in order to follow that through I would need to check all RationalWiki's pieces on global warming, etc., which I simply can't be bothered doing.

Finally, it would be hard to generalise about all RationalWiki articles because they are no doubt written by many different people with (slightly) different political views. The same, of course, can be said about American Thinker.

However, I suspect that the average RationalWiki writer is between 17 and 24 and is either a university student or a recent graduate. (I may be wrong: that assumption rests only the pieces I've read.) Hence the smugness and juvenile politics. And I suppose the average writer's smugness is a result of him thinking that he's learnt just a tiny bit more science than his average straw-target opponent.








Sunday, 16 November 2014

Tony Blair's 'Neocon' Globalism




Attached to much – or all - neocon foreign policy is a particular strand of globalism. Or, at the very least, that's certainly the case when it comes to Tony Blair's position on foreign policy.

Now I'm fully aware that the notion of globalism is a favourite of many people - on both the Left and Right - who are often deemed to be paranoid conspiracy-theorists. However, when you read what Tony Blair has to say on these matters, you may well come to think that they (or at least some of them) have a point. (Tony Blair is kind of British version of the United Nation's Maurice Strong.)

The problem is that anti-globalists say different things. For example, some say that's it's all a “capitalist global conspiracy”; whereas others say that it's a “communist global conspiracy”. Indeed, according to some conspiracy-theorists, many of the conspiracists who say mutually-contradictory things are actually in league with one another. (This is a variant on the unfalsifiable Protocols of the Elders of Zion meme that Jewish communists, Jewish capitalists and Jewish whatevers are all in league with one another.)

Conspiracy-theorists about globalisation also give different reasons as to why politicians and others are “globalists”. In addition, all sorts of mutually-contradictory groups and individuals are classed as globalists.

Despite saying all that, even if many claims about globalism contradict each other, that may just mean that various globalisms (as it were) are at work at the same time; though without necessarily being in league with one another. In other words, some globalists may be attempting to bring about X; whereas others may be attempting to bring about not-X.

Tony Blair's Globalism



Tony Blair often uses the word “globalisation” (if not the word “globalism”) himself.

More specifically, Blair believes that the “clash [is] not so much between civilisations”. Instead, it's a result of “the force and consequence of globalisation” (346) itself.

Blair explicitly committed himself to globalism at the Labour Party conference of 2001. At the time he said:






"The issue is not how to stop globalisation. The issue is how we use the power of community to combine it with justice....







".... Because the alternative to globalisation is isolation.







"Confronted by this reality, round the world, nations are instinctively drawing together.... In Europe, the most integrated groping of all, we are now fifteen nations, with another twelve countries negotiating to join, and more beyond that...” (365/66)


In terms of Tony Blair's own strand of globalism, he realised that in order to encourage the fight for globalisation, you have to convince people that's there's a globe to fight for in the first place.

This is how Blair sees that globe:






"All around the globe, the new technology – the Internet, computers, mobile phones, mass travel and communication – was opening the world up, casting people together, mixing cultures, races, faiths in a vast melting pot of human interaction.”


What Blair says about globalisation – in the above - actually sounds like sales-speak for a global company of some kind.

For a start, take the “new technology” he speaks so glowingly of. Why does it necessarily work towards “casting people together” and the rest? Osama bin Laden, for example, used the new technology in the caves of Afghanistan to plot mayhem and destruction. The Internet generally is also a hotbed of radical and extreme Islam.

And as for “mixing cultures, races, faiths”, in the literally dozens of Muslim ghettoes in the UK, there's no evidence at all any of that. Instead there has been what has amounted to the (non-violent) ethnic cleansing of white people (or non-Muslims generally) from these areas; alongside their accompanying Islamisation.

Everyone Wants Blairite Globalism

Neocon globalists also have to convince people that every person on the planet – apart from cartoon baddies – wants freedom and democracy. Indeed if that weren't the case, then political globalisation could never be achieved (not even in theory).

And it's here that Tony Blair is at his most philosophically, historically and politically illiterate.

Basically, Blair doesn't believe that human rights, democracy and freedom are Western creations. Or, alternatively, he does believe that (deep down); though it doesn't matter now because everyone around today wants these things.

Or as Blair himself puts it:






"There is a myth that though we love freedom, others don't; that our attachment to freedom is a product of our culture; that freedom, democracy, human rights, the rule of law are American values, or Western values...”


Now some of that is just plain false: historically false. In other words, what Blair says isn't the case, is (largely) the case.

And even if it's true that “others” do now “love freedom, democracy, human rights, the rule of law”, it's still categorically and historically the case that these things are “a product of our culture”. Sure, at certain times and in certain places certain non-Western societies might have had systems and cultures which approximated to ones which valued freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law... it's just that I can't really think of any.

Tony Blair then goes on to argue for globalism or universalism. He says:






"Members of Congress, ours are not Western values, they are the universal values of the human spirit.”


Again, either this is historical illiteracy on Blair's part or he's simply letting sentiment, desire and rhetoric get in the way of fact, history and even in the way of human nature.

However, as I said before, we can indeed make a distinction here between the historical reality of “Western values” and the fact that today many non-Western peoples do indeed want to embrace these values.

Blair claims that






"anywhere, any time ordinary people are given the chance to choose, the choice is the same: freedom, not tyranny; democracy, not dictatorship; the rule of law, not the rule of the secret police”.


Now I don't want to be too pedantic here because this was a speech given to Congress; not to a gathering of philosophers or political theorists. Nonetheless, even if all “ordinary people” do want some of these things, it doesn't follow that they want all of them.

For example, of course it's the case that most people don't like “the rule of secret police” (though even that's a generalisation). On the other hand, it may not even be the case that most people are against “dictatorship”. In fact, in many cases, they're not and that has been the case throughout the 20th century and indeed throughout the world.

The other problem is that many of the peoples subject to what Blair calls “tyranny” or a “dictatorship” won't see the regimes they live under as being either a tyrannies or dictatorships.

In the end, then, one gets the feeling that Tony Blair isn't actually arguing about what is the case. (He's certainly wrong about what has been the case.) He's arguing about what should be the case. To Blair, it's not really that non-Western and Muslim peoples “want to be free”: it's that they should want to be free.

Hence the neocon attempted “imposition of democracy and freedom” (Tony Blair's own words) on the almost hopeless case of the Muslim and Arab world...

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Prophet Naomi Klein's 'This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate'


Like most prophets, Naomi Klein's message is both messianic and Manichean:i.e., the good of progressocialism vs. the evil of capitalism. (Or in her own words: “capitalism vs. the climate”.)




 
Naomi Klein was born to be a prophet: as all prophets are.
 
Her paternal grandparents were communists, her grandfather was a “social activist” and her parents were war-resisters as well as “rights activists”.
 
So now try to imagine the amount of Leftist ideological “brainwashing” Naomi Kleine would have experienced in the first two decades of her life (as did Noam Chomsky). I'd reckon that would be about the same amount that she and her fellow Leftists (such as her husband Avi Lewis) would accuse the children of “Christian evangelicals” (Avi Lewis’s term) or “conservatives” of having undergone.
 
(I may as well add here that Naomi Klein's just-mentioned husband has hosted shows for Al Jazeera, sneered at Ayaan Hirsi Ali's support of American democracy and thinks that the criticism of Islam is racist. Clearly Naomi Klein doesn't like to stray too far from her Leftist “herd of independent minds”.)
 
And along with Naomi Klein's prophethood comes the inevitable talk of end times(as with the Prophet Karl Marx). Or as Kline herself puts it:
 




"Climate change is a civilizational wake-up call, a powerful message delivered in the language of fires, floods, storms, and droughts. Confronting it is no longer about changing the light bulbs. It's about changing the world - before the world changes so drastically that no one is safe.”

 
All that reminds me of what the writer Christopher Booker had to say in his magnificent The Real Global Warming Disaster.He writes:
 




"... [warmist language] had much in common with ancient myths and Biblical tales of the world being visited with 'extreme weather events', plagues, fires, mighty winds and above all floods so immense that whole cities would vanish below their waves.”(340)

 
So what does Christopher Booker think about warmists themselves? This:
 




"The true believers in global warming similarly exhibited a moralistic fanaticism, justified by the transcendent importance of their cause. The basic narrative by which they live was one familiar from the history of religious sects down the ages, the conviction that the end of the world was nigh, thanks to the wickedness of mankind, and could only by saved if humanity acknowledge its sins and went through a profound change of behaviour....”


And since Naomi Klein fuses warmism with Marxism, I'll also quote Booker on Marxism when he writes:
 




".... [Marxism's] dogmatic explanations for everything; it's incredibly moralistic view of the world; and above all its capacity to inspire its followers to a kind of righteous fanaticism, convinced that it was their destiny to save mankind from those 'heretics' and 'unbelievers' who did not share their world-saving creed.”

 
Reviews
 
Let me give you a taste of some of the rather sycophantic reviews of Naomi Klein's This Changes Everything:Capitalism vs. the Climate.
 
One blurb says it's “her most provocative book yet”. The strange thing is that other blurbers also said that The Shock Doctrine was “her most provocative book yet”. (The same was true of No Logo.) In other words, it must be important to Naomi Kline and her fans that her latest book is her most provocative book yet.
 
There's also a review by Owen Jones (Son Of Dave Spart) which tells us that This Changes Everything “[w]ill be one of the most influential books of our time”. As forThe New York Times, it says that Naomi Klein's book is the “most momentous and contentious environmental book since Silent Spring”.
 
Don't you just love it when book reviewers wax lyrically about books which simply restate exactly what it is they already believe (give or take some minor details)? It's a kind of political narcissism.
 
The Independent, on the other hand, is slightly more level-headed when it says that the “proposition that the world's political and economic institutions are preventing us from meeting the lethal challenge of global warming is hardly novel”.
 
Global Warming is Capitalism


 
When I accuse anti-global-warming activists of really being against capitalism, they usually deny it. They say it's not about wanting to destroy capitalism: “it's all about the science”,or “saving the planet”, etc. In fact warmists often return the criticism and say that it's us sceptics (about anthropogenic global warming) who are really just “immoral supporters of capitalism”.It's people like me who aren't concerned “with the science”, or the planet, or mankind.
 
Yet one of the most important (certainly the most popular) “progressive” writers around today - Naomi Klein - explicitly agrees with us global-warming sceptics. She now says (well, in a sense she always did) that it is indeed all about capitalism. Or, more correctly, it's all about being against capitalism.
 
Just as Marxists/Leftists think that capitalism has sole responsibility for – believe it or not – racism, sexism, poverty, inequality, war and (according to Marx) prostitution; so Naomi Klein and nearly all her fellow Leftists believe that capitalism has sole responsibility for global warming.
 
This could lead people to the perfectly acceptable and justifiable conclusion that - all along - most of the Leftists who've spoken out against global warming were really speaking out against capitalism. It may well follow from that many of these virulent anti-capitalists might therefore have simply manufactured (or at least endorsed) the global-warming theory (or at least parts thereof) in order to attack capitalism. After all, anti-capitalists (or socialists) did exactly the same thing with the global-cooling scare of the 1970s.
 
Not only that: all sorts of other causes, theories and movements have been used as a means to bring about the death of capitalism: anti-racism, “black rights”, “gay liberation”,the adoption of environmentalist positions, anti-globalism (another idée fixe of Naomi Klein's), mass immigration and, more recently, the defence of Islam and Muslims. (The furtherLeft you go, the truer this becomes.)
 
Don't take my word for all this, listen to Naomi Klein's own words in her new book:
 




"Forget everything you think you know about global warming. It's not about carbon - it's about capitalism. The good news is that we can seize this existential crisis to transform our failed economic system and build something radically better.”

 
Commentators have said that Klein only “turned to environmentalism” in 2009. What took her so long? Were there other weapons in her anti-capitalist arsenal before 2009 and have they now become a little blunt?
 
Neoliberalism or Capitalism?
 
Naomi Klein has done more than almost anyone else to popularise the word “neoliberalism”.
 
Even though there may well be semantic differences between the words “capitalism” and “neoliberalism”, it's clear that this doesn't really matter in the end. It's often a difference that doesn't really make a difference.
 
For example, what would change if you substituted the word “neoliberalism” with “capitalism” in Klein's following words from This Changes Everything? -
 




"This, without a doubt, is neoliberalism’s [capitalism's] single most damaging legacy: the realization of its bleak vision has isolated us enough from one another that it became possible to convince us that we are not just incapable of self-preservation but fundamentally not worth saving.”

 
The average Leftist zombie, of course, wouldn’t be able to distinguish capitalism from neoliberalism (unless he had a handy book by Chomsky or Naomi Klein in his backpack). That's not to say that some Leftists wouldn't be able to do so. And it's not to say that there are no differences.
 
Leftists often seem to hint – rather than state – at the fact that neoliberalism is capitalism gone bad/extreme. (Or, as Noam Chomsky put it, neoliberalism is “capitalism with gloves off”.) But, when you think about it, they shouldn’t believe this because that would imply that they also believe that once-upon-a-time capitalism – i.e., before contemporary neoliberalism - wasn't (that) extreme/bad. Yet they can't possibly believe that. Leftists have always believed that capitalism is bad/extreme.
 
So what's all this guff about “neoliberalism”? Is it just a gimmicky “sign-substitution” (to use Jacques Derrida's word) used to disguise the fact that people either got bored with - or embarrassed by - the use of the word “capitalism”? Either that, or communists/socialists/progressives wanted to pretend they were talking about something entirely new when they dropped the word “neoliberalism” into every conversation.
 
The best was to put all this is that way Doreen Massey put it in 2013 in an article for The Guardian:'Neoliberalism has hijacked our vocabulary'. Except, of course, I would put it this way: The word 'neoliberalism' has hijacked our vocabulary.