Saturday, 19 April 2014

Fiyaz Mughal's Website Defends Pakistan's Persecution of Christians





It seems that Fiyaz Mughal's Tell Mama has overstepped its jurisdiction of “measuring and monitoring anti-Muslim attacks in the UK” to defend the Muslim hellhole that is Pakistan and the Islamic theocracy that is Iran. 

 

This latest article from Tell Mama ('Yet More Tabloid Islamophobia, the Peter Hill Article'), written by Steven Rose, is itself a response to an article written by Peter Hill for the Daily Express: 'Why does Britain feel so obliged to accommodate for minorities?' (published on the 7th of April).


Steven Rose questions Peter Hill's following assertion:



I wonder if Muslim countries go out of their way to cater for other faiths. Actually, I don’t wonder.... [Muslims countries.. think that] 'unbelievers' don’t even belong to the human race.



According to Steven Rose, that assertion “is not true”.



Mr Rose believes that Peter Hill indulged in a “glib assertion” about the Islamic view that “unbelievers do not even belong to the human race”. Peter Hill, in any case, never said that every Muslim believes that statement. He said that “Muslim countries think that...”; which is an acceptable grammatical ellipsis.



Nonetheless, Steven Rose is equally glib because he too couldn't bring himself to cite a single example of what's happening to Christians (on a very large scale) in the Muslim world (form Pakistan, Egypt, Iran, the Sudan, Nigeria, Syria to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states). Instead he tells us about the two Christians in Iran's parliament and the fact that Pakistan's National Assembly “reserves ten seats for [its five million or more] non-Muslims”.



It seems strange that in response to Peter Hill's purported view that Muslims are “monolithic”, Steven Rose comes out with an equally generalised statement: no Muslim, and no Muslim/Islamic state, believes that unbelievers “don't even belong to the human race”. Really? Not only are there countless statements in the Koran and hadith which say precisely that: numerous Muslim leaders, from Muhammad himself to clerics/leaders in various Muslim states today, have also said precisely that. 



For example, Christians, Jews, “idolaters”, “polytheists”, etc. are referred to - in the Koran and hadith - as “cattle”, “apes”, “swine”, “pigs” and so on. Even the New Statesman's Mehdi Hasan famously referred to all non-Muslims as “cattle”. And if a well-known Muslim member of our media-establishment can use such language in 2009, then surely Steve Rose's words can’t ring very true, can they?


Disturbing Sharia



Steven Rose then says that the following quote from Peter Hill is 'disturbing':

Those who don’t like the set-up should either make their own arrangements – there are plenty of Muslim banks and financial institutions here – or move to somewhere they feel more comfortable.


Now what's disturbing about any of that?


Most Brits don't want sharia law in the UK. Many Muslims do. Indeed it is incumbent that every (good) Muslim agitates and fights for sharia laws because without it, there is no Islam. Thus without sharia law a Muslim cannot be a (good) Muslim because there is no Islam without sharia law.


The problem is that many - or most - sharia laws clash violently with both British law and with British values. Many Muslims know this. Many non-Muslim British people know this. And indeed Steven Rose must also know this. Therefore surely it's reasonable for the Daily Express's Peter Hill to suggest that unhappy Muslimsmove to somewhere they feel more comfortable”. This is equivalent to advising those who feel uncomfortable with the loud music in a nightclub to leave instead of standing around complaining and making everyone else feel miserable. That is common sense. That is unless Muslims don't want to leave because they want full sharia law to be implemented in the UK too ... if only eventually. Indeed the spreading of sharia law to non-Muslim countries - such as the UK - is a very important goal for many Muslims.



Despite this Islamic requirement for full sharia law, Steven Rose then adds that some Muslims “feel [...] proud to be British”. But since we are discussing sharia law, we can ask this question:



What, exactly, are Muslims proud of when they say - if many ever (genuinely) do - that they are “proud to be British”?


What I mean by this is that partial - let alone full - sharia law will completely and utterly transform the landscape of Britain. (This parallels Ralph Miliband's purported and reported patriotism some months back; and all that despite the fact that he too - in his own words - wanted to utterly transform every aspect of Britain: from its politics to its values and social traditions.) And after all that, what distinctly British things would these Muslims (as well as Ralph Miliband in the past) be proud of, exactly? What would be left of Britain as we know it - and as we have known it - after full sharia law (or full state communism) had been implemented?



Perhaps these Muslims are only proud of “British tolerance” (as interfaith Muslims and the the Leftist whores-of-Islam often deceitfully put it). Yes, Muslims are proud of that legendary and sometimes suicidal British tolerance – the tolerance of the intolerant - which may well effectively pave the way for full sharia if not (at first) in the whole of the UK, then in the many ghettos which Muslims have created for themselves all over England.


Iran



As stated, Steven Rose ignores the massive persecution and killing of non-Muslims that goes on in Muslim countries. He chooses, instead, to pick some egregious choice-specimens of Islamic love, peace and tolerance. And even here Rose's few positive examples aren't quite what they seem.
How gays are treated in Iran.

For example, Steven Rose tells us that in Iran “Christians hold two seats in parliament while other religious minorities (Zoroastrians, Jews and Assyrians) have one representative in parliament”. For a start, that is an extremely small number. In the UK in 2012, there were 8 Muslim MPs and 12 Muslim peers in both Houses of the British Parliament; as well as 200 Muslim councillors in 2005 (83 in London alone in 2002). And is it supposed to be a good things that all Iran's Zoroastrians, Jews and Assyrians share “one representative in parliament”? Perhaps Mr Rose should have also told us that the Jewish population of Iran has shrunk to 10, 200 in 2012 from the 100,000 in 1948. (Before the Islamic Revolution of 1979, there were 80,000 Jews in Iran. That's a shrinkage of 70,000 in just over 30 years of “Islamic revolution”.)The other minorities in Iran haven't fared much better either.



In addition to that, such parliamentary “representatives” are an example of Iran's tokenism: it's simple acknowledgment of the small role it has assigned to its various dhimmis. The other two assumptions here is that Iran's parliament is just like our own and that these two Christian “parliamentarians” actually have some real power.


Pakistan


Steven Rose then tackles Pakistan. He tells us that Pakistan's “National Assembly reserves ten seats for non-Muslims”. Come again? Yes, Pakistan “reserves ten seats for non-Muslims”. That could mean that non-Muslims don't actually hold - or have - ten seats in Pakistan's National Assembly. Now that's a bad thing because there were 2,800,000 Christians alone in Pakistan in 2005; as well as roughly the same number of Hindus. Again, in the UK there are 8 Muslim MPs, 12 Muslim peers and over 200 Muslim councilors and the Muslim population here is similar to that of the Christian and non-Muslim population of Pakistan.



So although Steven Rose cites some positives when it comes to the treatment of minorities in Muslim countries, he doesn't cite a single example of the numerous negatives. Despite that, he does have the decency to make some vague - and very Tell Mamaish - statements. He says that


much more needs to be done to ensure minority rights and organisations like Faith Matters are actively pushing for countries like Pakistan to ensure the minority rights of Christians, Shia and Ahmaddiya’s through projects such as the Connecting Communities project.”


Now that's the sort of statement you often hear - from Tell Mama and other groups - about the treatment of Muslims in the UK. Yet in Pakistan whole Christian villages are burned down, churches are blown up, Christians are accused of apostasy and then killed and so on. So it's not exactly a small problem, is it Mr Rose?


Now, amongst the many screenshots of Tweets and Facebook pages you might have seen on Tell Mama, I bet you've never seen anything like the following:

i) At least a dozen Christians have been given death sentences - and half a dozen murdered - after being accused of violating Pakistani blasphemy laws in recent years. In 2005 alone, 80 Christians were behind bars due to these laws.
ii) November, 2005: 3,000 militant Islamists attacked Christians in Sangla Hill in Pakistan and destroyed Roman Catholic, Salvation Army and United Presbyterian churches.
iii) August, 2007: a Christian missionary couple, Rev. Arif and Kathleen Khan, were gunned down by militant Islamists in Islamabad.
iv) August, 2009: six Christians, including four women and a child, were burnt alive by Muslim militants and a church set ablaze in Gojra.
v) November, 2010: a Christian woman from Punjab Province, Asia Noreen Bibi, was sentenced to death by hanging for violating Pakistan's blasphemy law. A cleric has offered $5,800 to anyone who kills her.
vi) March, 2011: the only Christian minister in the Pakistan government was shot dead. Shahbaz Bhatti, Minister for Minorities. He was targeted for opposing the anti-free speech 'blasphemy' law, which punishes insulting Islam or its Prophet.



Most of the above are references to targeted assassinations related to Islamic blasphemy law in Pakistan. Yet that's the very same thing that Fiyaz Mughal is attempting to bring about in the UK on the back of “hate crime” and race relations laws. In other words, Fiyaz Mughal is attempting to replicate, in the UK, what's happening in Pakistan. That's right, Fiyaz Mughal is trying to turn Britain into another Pakistan.
The scene outside All Saints' Church, Peshawar.


But we must add two more things to that list of Islamic persecution and killing in Pakistan: Islamic terrorism against Christians (such as Peshawar last year) and Muslim communal violence against Christians.


For example, Pastor Nadeem Mukhtar, writing a year ago, had this to say about the situation in Lahore alone:

Hi all friends. I am Pastor Nadeem from Lahore Pakistan. More than 250 houses of Christians are burnt by Muslims in Lahore Pakistan, Please pray for that.”


And in response to the terrible persecution of Christians in Pakistan, Silas Jacob implored:

O lord, Help the Pakistani Christians to migrate and give them the resources to do so.”



In consequence of all that, I suggest that Fiyaz Mughal pack up his bags and move to Pakistan where he can fight real religious persecution and oppression instead of spending all his time trawling Facebook pages and websites looking for aggressive, though largely harmless, statements to screen-shoot.

Note:

Some newspaper titles (about Pakistan) from 2010:

'
5 killed in grenade attack on church in Islamabad'

'6 dead in Pakistan Christian school attack'
'3 killed in Christmas attack on church'
'16 Killed in Attack on Church in Pakistan'
'Pakistani Worshippers Attacked on Easter Sunday'
'Pakistani Christian-Falsely Accused, Tortured and Murdered Protestors Take His Dead Body To The Streets In Protest'
'Pakistani Priest Gunned Down'
'Pakistani Christian dies of torture at hands of Islamists'

'Second Pakistani Christian tortured to death by police in four months'

'55 year Christian mother Hanifan Bibi abducted, stripped and tortured in front of husband and sons by Muslim gangsters'
'Pastor and Driver Murdered in Pakistan and mutilated for Evangelizing Muslims in Pakistan'
'2500 Strong Muslim Mob set alight 3 Churches, Christian School, Houses of Christian families and Priests'
'Hindu temple in Lahore demolished'
'Pak Army To Raze Hindu Houses, Temple In Peshawar'
'242 Hindu Temples Destroyed/Damaged in Pakistan'
'Muslim Terrorists killed Christian Missionary, Raped their daughters in front of parents and brutally killed their Sons'
'Drunken Muslim Mob Vandalizes Church'
'2 Christians get 15 years for burning Holy Quran'
'Pakistan Bomb That Killed 53 Aimed to Destroy Hotel'

'One Woman Dead in Attack on Christians, Would-be rapist instigates attack in response to charges leveled against him'
'Taliban Tells Pakistani Christians: Convert or Die'
'Muslims Ransack Historic Church'
'Taliban-Inspired Attacks Hit Christians, Jizye Tax Imposed'
'Muslim Mob Beats Christian Family with Sticks for Marrying Muslim Girl'
'Christian Brutally Clubbed to Death for Drinking Tea at 'Muslim-Only' Establishment'
'Muslim Forces 12-year-old Girl to Convert & Marry Him, Police ridicule Christian mother for kidnapping complaint'
'Church institutions threatened with bomb attack, Unless Christians Convert'
'11-year-old boy shot in the head while attending church'
'Parcel Bomb Critically Injures At least 10 Christians in Pakistan'
'Christian Cemetery Bulldozed & Church Building Confiscated by Pakistani Authorities'

'Police Torture & Brake Backbone of Christian Because His Father Preached Christ, Denied Medical Treatment'
'Battagram Hindus Told to Embrace Islam or Pay Tax'
'Muslim Mob of Thousands Gather. Acid thrown on Christian Women & Children'
'Hundred Christian Churches & Homes Burned Down'
'16-Year-Old Christian Boy Tortured to Death by Pakistani Police'
'Christian Tortured and Beaten for Alleged 'Blasphemy' & Prison Besieged by Thousands of Furious Muslims, Calling For His Death'
'Police Brutalize Christian Men & Women After Robbing Their Homes'
'Muslims Loot & Burn 75 Christian Homes and 2 Churches, Over Alleged 'Blasphemy''
'Eight Christians (including 4 Women & Child Aged 7) burned alive in Punjab, 20 Others Wounded'

'Angry Muslims Kill Three More over Alleged Qur'an Blasphemy'
'Muslim Mob Attacks Home of 60-Year-Old Woman in Another Islamic Supremacist “Blasphemy” Charge'
'Pregnant Christian Miscarries, After being Beaten & Dragged Naked Through a Police Station'

'Eight Christians kidnapped in Pakistan, Jizya May be Behind Abductions'

'Six Christians Shot Dead by Muslims After Threats to “Convert to Islam or Die”'

'5,000 Hindus Abandon Homes to Flee Forced Conversions, Kidnappings & Rape'

'Church Burned to the Ground by Muslim Mob'

Herbert Marcuse on the Soviet Union & Marxism







Marcuse on the Soviet Union


On one hand, how could a self-described “believer in freedom” like Marcuse not offer up a critique of the Soviet Union after the invasions of Poland and Hungary in 1956, the Gulag, the purges, the class “liquidations”, the secret police, etc? On the other hand, how could someone fairly loyal to Marx (as Marcuse was), fail to see many good things in the Soviet system (as the Guardian's Seumas Milne still does to this very day)?



Although Herbert Marcuse rejected much about the Soviet Union and, to a lesser extent, about Marxism, he didn't by any means way reject Marxism/communism completely. In fact he had a similar same position on the Soviet Union (though not on Marxism) as Trotskyists do in his day and in our own. And, of course, Trotsky's criticisms of the Soviet Union and Stalin predated Marcuse's main critique by some 30 years.


In his book, Soviet Marxism (1958), Marcuse explicitly argues that Marxism didn't of necessity lead to Soviet totalitarianism. Indeed it was partly because he didn't break with Marxism complete that he was allowed to break, to some extent, with the Soviet Union. If he had broken with the Soviet Union as well as with Marxism, he simply wouldn't have been listened to by his fellow Leftists/Marxists. As it was, he was one of the first Marxist/Leftist intellectuals, in the US at least, who spoke out against the USSR. Yet that was still some five years after the death of Stalin. (Or, at the very least, his book, Soviet Marxism, was written five years after Stalin's death.)

Yet the very fact that this book is called Soviet Marxism shows us that Marcuse still believed that the Soviet system was a form of Marxism; not a “deviation” (as Marxists put it) from Marxism.

It was partly because Marcuse believed that the Soviet Union still contained, as it were, some good or true Marxism that he thought it was still capable of reforming itself. Marcuse believed that this true or good Marxism could or would win through in the end and get rid of the bad Marxism (i.e., Stalinism).

To put this another way: Marcuse believed, as many Marxists still do, that there is a large disconnection between (correct/sacred) Marxist theory and the Soviet implementation of Marxism.

As a consequence of this, it was bound to be the case that Marcuse would disagree with those who believed that the Soviet regime was a bureaucratic system which was incapable of reform. However, such people shouldn’t have believed that the Soviet system was necessarily incapable of reform. What is misguided was Marcuse's view that it could reform because there was a kernel of pure - or proper - Marxism within it. In other words, although on the one hand there is never any political and structural necessity (i.e., endless stability and sustainability) when it comes to totalitarian regimes (as the neo-cons also believed about such states), Marcuse's own belief that proper - or true - Marxism would eventually save the Soviet Union was also a bad (Marxist) idea.


Michele Foucault, for one, was skeptical about this Marxist theory-Soviet practice dichotomy. In Madness and Civilisation he wrote:


In the Gulag one sees not the consequences of any unhappy mistake, but the effects of the ‘truest’ of theories [i.e., Marxism] in the political order.”

To repeat: Marcuse believed that Marxism had been somewhat perverted by the Soviet system. Clearly he didn't believe that Marxism itself is, as it were, perverted. And, as a consequence of that, Marcuse argued (in the late 1950s) that the Soviet Union could reform itself and yet still remain loyal to Marxism/communism. In other words, he didn't believe that the secret police, censorship, centralised leadership, Gulag, purges, class “liquidations”, anti-liberalism, etc. were essential to Marxism/communism and also required to sustain it.

In response to Khrushchev's moves, Marcuse wrote:

“With respect to internal Soviet developments, this means at present continuation of 'collective leadership', decline in power of the secret police, decentralization, legal reforms, relaxation of censorship, liberalization in cultural life.” (1958, p.174, Soviet Marxism)

Despite these words, it took around three decades after writing the above for glasnost and perestroika, under Gorbachev, to come to the Soviet Union. And, indeed, to the extent that collective leadership, decentralisation, legal reforms and the liberalization of cultural life increased, and the power of the secret police and Gulag declined, so Marxism/communism itself declined. Surely this should have shown Marcuse that there is indeed an essential connection, at least in the Soviet Union's case, between Marxism/communism and totalitarianism. Nonetheless, Marcuse still believed that Marxism/communism could run free of totalitarianism. It never never has.

Marcuse's Critique of Marxism




Although Marcuse embraced the Marxist view that the working class couldn't think for itself (unless, of course, liberated by middle-class Marxist theoreticians), he nonetheless did reject various sacred and classical Marxist catechisms:


i) He questioned the fact that the working class is automatically a “revolutionary class” (or would become revolutionary if Marxist prophesies finally came to pass).
ii) He questioned - though didn't necessarily reject or deny - the “inevitability” of a capitalist crisis which had been prophesised since the 1850s. (Though a distinction can be made here - and had to be made by Marxists - between a capitalist crisis, with the indefinite article, and the “final capitalist crisis”, as prophesised by Marx.)

Marcuse firstly rejected these things, at least in print, roundabout 1958. However, Marxists had rejected the necessary revolutionary nature of the working class, as well as the "inevitability of a capitalist crisis", as early as the 1890s; as was the case with theorists like Eduard Bernstein and others. So in these respects, Marcuse wasn't saying anything new or original.

Marcuse did indeed update the general Marxist package in the late 1950s and 1960s. That's not a surprise. That Marxist package had been updated by every generation since Marx himself. Indeed Marxists are still updating Marxism. 


One such update (or “deviation”), for example, was Gramsci's advice that Marxists/Leftists should “take over the institutions” and by doing so turn Marx's base-superstructure model on its head. A more recent updating is the completely non-critical attitude Marxists have suddenly adopted towards religion: or, more accurately, towards Islam (1).

                                         *******************************************************************
Note:

1) To put that another way. Marxists have completely abandoned their traditionally virulent critique of religion in response to the rise of Muslim demographics in the West. In classical (Leftist) racist style, Marxists have become more “sophisticated” about religion quite simply because many religious people in the West now have brown, rather than white, skins.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Herbert Marcuse on False Consciousness & Anti-Capitalists




Herbert Marcuse, in the traditional Marxist manner, believed that capitalism (or capitalists) had “integrated” the working class into the “capitalist system”. Marcuse also saw the working class - again like Marxists - as being a potentially “revolutionary force”.



Marcuse's idea that the working class had been “integrated into capitalism” displayed some classical middle-class Marxist arrogance and smugness. The assumption is that workers integrated into the capitalist system without any (non-Marxist) member of that class actually knowing that this is indeed the case.

Here there is also a Marxist assumption of two things:

i) That all members of the working class don't think for themselves about political matters. Or if they do so in a manner which is at odds with Marxist views and theories, then they simply must have 'false consciousness'.
ii) That no member of the working class would willingly and knowingly embrace capitalism as a result of a rational decision on his part. Or, if he did, it would be because he suffered from false - or non-Marxist - consciousness.

Such false consciousness is an absolutely essential part of Marxism. It helps middle-class Marxists explain why members of the working class (almost all of them) - as well as all the members of other “oppressed” groups - fail to embrace Marxism. Alternatively, only false consciousness can explain - so Marxists think - how such people “work against their own best interests” (as defined, of course, by middle-class Marxists).


Marcuse too imbibed the Marxist notion of false consciousness. He particularly focused on the idea (as other Marxists, such as the Frankfurt School, had done before him) that “advanced industrial society” creates false needs, false desires and false beliefs in order to create legions of (non-Marxist) “passive subjects” and mindless consumers. And of course the very idea that all non-Marxists are the victims of false consciousness must mean that all these “subjects of capitalism” (or cogs in the machine) must – by Marxist definition - have false needs, false desires and, of course, false beliefs.


In order to insure such false needs, false desires and false beliefs, the “capitalist elite” must control the media, advertising and so on; as well as, more importantly, control what it is that all non-Marxists think (though the former controls the latter).

However, when Marcuse - as well as contemporary Chomskyites – talked about the platonic Media and its total control of the minds of all non-Marcusians (or non-Chomskyites today), he didn't just mean the evil “right-wing press” or even the press in its entirety. He also meant - as did Theodor Adorno before him - Hollywood and television generally. That is, everything that was classed by the Frankfurt School as “the culture industry”



Thus it can be seen that all that is non-Marxist (or non- "revolutionary”) is automatically part of Das System and therefore deemed suspect by Marcuse and all other Leftists. (The Frankfurt School also castigated cinema, jazz, and light entertainment; just as Chomsky today has a strong hatred for soccer and soaps.)


Thus this massive Marxist conspiracy theory actually contains two smaller theories within it:

i) That all non-Marxists are monumentally stupid and devoid of free will (except those non-Marxists who are also “exploitative capitalists”).
ii) That all capitalists conspire - often together - to bring about exactly what the Marxists say they have brought about: a society made up entirely of “sheeple” (to use the smug contemporary word) whose only concern is to consume and obey. (Middle-class Leftists, of course, aren't sheeple.)

Fantastically, according to Marcuse (as well as Chomsky today), this massive system of hidden indoctrination has the result that no non-Marxist/Leftist has any negative views about capitalism or the government and never offers either a critique of - or opposition to – any current realities. Again, only Marxists/Leftists are capable of doing that job.



And if you think that Marcuse (as well as Chomsky today) didn't patronise the working class enough with all that, he also classed all non-Marxists/Leftists – you and I! - as being cases of his “one dimensional man”. That is, capitalist society is a one-dimensional society which creates one-dimensional men and women like you and I.

Clearly this level of Leftist condescension - or patronisation - is both staggering and nauseating. However, it would perhaps loose some of its power to repulse if it had already been assigned to the dustbin of Marxist history. Yet this is exactly what Chomsky - as well as thousands of Chomsky's automatons - believes today. Yes, if you aren't a Marcusian (or Chomskyite), you must automatically be a sheeple or a “one-dimensional man”. That is unless, of course, you’re an evil capitalist and then you'll have the privilege of controlling at least some of those sheeples or one-dimensional men.

My Enemy's Enemy is My Friend



Like contemporary Trotskyists/progressives, Marcuse embraced all the 'enemies' of capitalism no matter who or what they were. Or, in the well-known phrase: the enemies or Marcuses's enemies were automatically his friends. (National Socialists are of course the enemies of Western democratic capitalism; though I doubt that Marcuse would have embraced them – primarily because they were white. (1)) This means, for example, that Marcuse embraced movements, groups and individuals which in many respects mutually contradicted one another. However, they didn't mutually contradict each other in the respect that they were all against Western capitalism (which was not always true anyway). And that was all that mattered to Marcuse. (For example, he embraced the violent and ideologically fanatical Vietcong alongside pacifist and easy-going American hippies.)

What would have also united all these disparate “anti-capitalist” groups (besides their being anti-capitalist), was that they were all deemed, by Marcuse, to be minorities and “outsiders”. Any minority would have done the trick as long as they were minorities or outsiders.

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


Notes:


1) There would have been exceptions to Marcuse's embracing of minorities and “outsiders”: white Nazis, white racists, etc. But what of black racists? Sure, he embraced them. What of violent and misogynist black groups? Sure, he embrace them too (just as Marxists today embrace racist, misogynist and violent Muslims). You see, as long as these minorities and outsiders are anti-capitalist (even when they aren't specifically or explicitly anti-capitalist), then Leftists will embrace them in some kind of broad church of anti-capitalists; which included, in Marcuse's case, hippies and psychotically violent Marxist and black groups. As I said, contemporary Leftists embrace Muslim Brotherhood groups, misogynists, terrorists, groomers, those who sanction rape, the killing of schoolchildren, etc. Hell, who cares? They're all “anti-capitalist” and anti-West. 
 

2) Like most Leftists/Marxists, Marcuse was a utopian. However, many Leftists, unlike Marcuse, believe that utopia can only be brought about by totalitarian means. Of course such Leftists neither use the word “utopian” nor the word “totalitarian' to describe what they want and how they intend to bring it about.



Sunday, 13 April 2014

Gramsci's Middle-Class, Leftist Hegemony




One explicit way in which Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937) stated that he believed that no revolution would be forthcoming in Europe was when he said that power is not something which you can “seize” in a revolution. In other words, Gramsci never talked about the “seizure of State power”. Despite that, in a certain sense he did believe in seizing state power; though not through violent revolution. Instead, to use his words, he talked of “becoming State”. That is, the middle-class Marxist vanguard - on behalf on the working class (of course) - would become the state. Alternatively they would “take over the institutions” of the state (the police, the law, political parties, the civil service, councils, etc.) and even the institutions which are not ordinarily deemed to be directly part of the state (e.g., the churches, charities, regional/national newspapers, the universities, schools, the BBC). (Rudi Dutschke called this the “Long March through the Institutions”. )
Rudi Dutschke on a Long March through a university.




Gramsci wanted to create a (new) Leftist “hegemony”. That was to be achieved by middle-class Marxists “becoming State”. Or, more correctly, a new non-capitalist hegemon was to be created by a middle-class Leftist vanguard/elite. That new middle-class Leftist hegemony should then imposed upon the working class via the schools, universities, the BBC, local councils, the law, etc. (just as Marxists believe that the capitalist-state hegemony was imposed on the working class).


The notion of hegemony is very important to Marxists/Leftists. Just as they believed that the capitalist class is an hegemony (or, is “hegemonic” in nature); so too they believe that the the working class - or Muslims today - must be hegemonic in nature.


More concretely, without an hegemony, the working class - or Muslims today - would remain 'particularistic' or individualistic. And that is useless for the middle-class Leftists who want radical change, if not revolution. After all capitalists,according to Leftists, form a 'hegemonic class'. Therefore the working class - or Muslims today - must form a hegemonic class too. That is, according to Gramsci, the working class - care-of the middle-class Leftist elite of which he was a part - should think exclusively in class, not in individualistic terms.




In his own day, Gramsci didn't believe that the working class had a collective will, unlike the capitalists. Instead that collective had to be created – by middle-class Marxists such as himself. However, despite the abstract reality of the working class, it is still made up of a “plurality of demands, political initiatives, traditions and cultural institutions”. That plurality is inherently unstable, from a Marxist perspective. And, again, this is where Gramsci and the Gramscians step in. It is up to them to provide a sense of stability to that plurality by creating a determinate class-consciousness - or a new hegemon - for the working class. And, in Gramsci's case, that could only be done by “taking over the institutions” (or “becoming State”), not through the classical violent (Marxist) revolution.


However, traditional Marxists believed that such a hegemonic consciousness (or class consciousness) would come naturally to the working class as capitalism inevitably lead to the increasing polarisation of society. The more polarised, or poor, the working class became, the more class-conscious they would become. But, of course, that didn't happened. There was no necessarily increased polarisation and even the depression was only a blip in the history of capitalism. Thus the working class didn't become more class-conscious, hegemonic or revolutionary.


This is where the Gramscians, again, stepped in.


If economic alienation and polarisation didn't automatically make the working class more class-conscious (or if “pauperisation” didn't occur), then Gramsci and other middle-class Marxists would make the working class class-conscious instead. As I said, according to Marx's “natural laws of capitalism”, the failures of capitalism would inevitably raise the consciousness of the working class and turn them into revolutionaries. That didn't happen. Therefore middle-class Marxists had to alter the consciousness of the workers to make the best of Marx's failed prophesies.





In other words, middle-class Marxist had to provide the “hegemonic articulation” of what was best for the working class. Capitalism itself, or its increased polarisation, didn't do that.



This means that the Gramscian position effectively turned the Marxist base-superstructure model on its head. Instead of the “modes of production” generating consciousness (or class-consciousness), here we have Gramscians attempting to generate consciousness instead. In a sense, Gramsci had returned to Hegel's position; which, of course, Marx himself had inverted.


Now how best to create a new working-class - or Muslim today - consciousness? Simple: take over the institutions in which ideas, rather than “material conditions”, are primary. Or, alternatively, only by “becoming the State” - not by violently seizing the state (as in a revolution) - could the consciousness of the working class - or Muslims today - be changed in the ways middle-class Leftists wanted it to change.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Conspiracies ain't Conspiracy Theories





One of the latest conspiracy theories seems to be that Mick Jagger murdered L'Wren Scott. For example, one article asked its readers the following question: 'Did Mick Jagger get away with L'Wren Scott's murder?'. Perhaps this website simply raised the possibility of her murder – it's hard to tell with these things. It's also hard to tell if some of these conspiracy websites are pastiches because they're often indistinguishable from the real thing.


One vital piece of suspicion (or evidence), apparently, was expressed by the editor in this way: “HUH? 6'3' gal hung herself from 4' doorknob?” Yes, that's very odd... if true. But, then again, so is murdering someone in that way... but what the hell?
Another victim of Mick Jagger.


Conspiracies & Conspiracy Theories




Often the critics of conspiracy theories are accused of denying the existence of conspiracies. However, conspiracies and conspiracies theories aren't the same thing. Critics of conspiracy theories don't actually need to deny the existence of conspiracies – how on earth could they? What they do have a problem with is is the nature of most - or even all - conspiracy theories.


No one should ever automatically reject a theory just because it's about some kind of conspiracy. People should reject it if it sounds like a typical conspiracy theory: with all the hallmarks these things seem to have.

Conspiracies exist, sure – many of them and they're all over the place.

Theories can be good things too – in and outside of science.


Conspiracy theorists also often cite conspiracy theories which proved, in the end, to be true. The thing is, various conspiracies have been shown to have happened; though not all – or any – of the conspiracy theories about these conspiracies proved to be correct.

In fact what conspiracy theorists often cite to be conspiracy theories which have been shown to be true were not actually conspiracy theories in the first place. They betrayed none of the “paranoid style” of most or all conspiracy theories. These theories often included evidence, argumentation, data and all sorts of collaborative and conformational detail that wasn’t conspiracy-theory-like at all.

Despite all that, what people must note is that just because a theory isn't widely accepted, that doesn’t make it a conspiracy theory (with all the faults of typical conspiracy theories). There was a wide non-acceptance or rejection of the various theories that the earth is not the center of the universe. They were largely scientific theories – not a conspiracy theories. On the whole, they had all the hallmarks of the scientific theories of the time.




Even if a scientific theories aren't widely accepted, which is true of all of them (at least at first), they should still nonetheless be scientific in nature. They should still involve observations, experiments, tests, the use of established laws of nature, successful predictions, explanatory successes and whatnot. In terms of scientists themselves, the majority of them are part of a community. They abide by all sorts of scientific and academic requirements or procedures.


And it's not just scientific theories which are perfectly acceptable: the same can be true of philosophical, journalistic, literary, historical, etc. theories. They too rely on evidence, academic rigor, argumentation, observation, data, past records, research, etc.


There's also a strong interplay between the non-theoretical aspects of theories and the purely theoretical parts. There should always be an interplay between theory and evidence.


With conspiracy theories, on the other hand, the theory side of the equation runs free of evidence and/or logical/philosophical argumentation. The average conspiracy theorist is rarely a scientist of any description (though he's often writer of some description). Indeed many conspiracy theories begin as the work of individuals. Despite that, it is indeed the case that support for – or belief in - the theory widens (sometimes massively) over time. That single individual’s theory later spread like a disease to encompass literally millions of believers. The theory was passed on largely without any scientific or academic scrutiny. That didn’t matter. Once the virus spread, it kept on spreading. And, again unlike scientific theories, that theory probably wasn’t subject to any critical scrutiny by the vast majority of its believers.


We also have to take into account the fact that different conspiracy theories about X or Y mutually contradict each other (e.g., many of the theories about 9/11 do so). This effectively means that there's nothing to decide which theory to accept. What could possibly decide the issue if nearly all the conspiracy theories about X or Y rely almost exclusively on unseen forces or events?
In addition, what Marxists/Leftists conspiracy theorists, for example, tend to do is that if reality (or what is the case) doesn't square with prior Marxist theory, then Marxists will make damn sure that it does so. What you'll usually get, then, are innumerable Marxist “auxiliary hypotheses” which simply explain away the equally innumerable inconvenient facts.

In conclusion, I mentioned journalists a moment ago. You'd think that if all - or some - of these conspiracy theories had so much meat on them, then our super-journalists (or even the lesser ones) would be keen on showing the world that they are true. After all, if these journalists did this, then they'd quickly become both rich and famous. But of course the conspiracy theorists will have yet more neat and tidy conspiracy theories (or auxiliary hypotheses) to explain why this isn't the case. For example, they'll say that journalists (all of them?) are in cahoots with the conspirators. Either than, or the conspirators have warned journalists (all of them?), on pain of death, not to open their mouths. (When has that ever stopped our best journalists?)

Conspiracy Theories ain't Really Theories at All


There are indeed many conspiracies which have actually occurred. Yet the true theories about these conspiracies weren't at all based on spooky unseen forces or events at work behind the scenes. The forces could be seen or known – even if sometimes only in principle - even if governments, businesses, etc. tried to suppress all outside knowledge of them.

There's also a distinction to be made between the conspiracy being uncovered and the conspiracy theories which attempted – or claimed - to do that uncovering.

Sometimes actual/real conspiracies and the conspiracy theories about them have become massively out of sync. In fact many conspiracy theories were never in sync with any real conspiracies in the first place. They are literally made up. Either that or simply the imaginative or paranoid creations of their inventors. This can even be the case when the conspiracy theorist doesn’t even realise he’s making the whole thing up. (Psychologists have done much work on this facet of human nature; so it’s no surprise to anyone, except, perhaps, the conspiracy theorist, that conspiracy theories are so common.)


Two writers on conspiracy theories and theorists, James McConnachie and Robin Tudge (in their excellent Rough Guide to Conspiracy Theories), offer their own list of conspiracies (not conspiracy theories) which turned out to have occurred after all. Believing in these governmental - or otherwise - conspiracies doesn’t make you a conspiracy theorist. It's often been the case that the theorists or journalists (e.g., Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein in the case of the Watergate Scandal) offered data and argumentation and, perhaps more importantly, a systematic and critical style of thought which put them at odds with the average not-too-much-thought-please conspiracy theorist.

Anyway, this is what James McConnachie and Robin Tudge said about the real conspiracies (not conspiracy theories) which they argue actually occurred:


“Of course there are a few exceptions… the politically-motivated plots to kill Fidel Castro, the ‘Iran-Contra’ affair, the barely legal rigging of the US presidential elections in 1876 and most heinously, the Nazi conspiracy to murder millions of European Jews.”



The problem here, though, is that the final clause of this passage won’t appeal to many conspiracy theorists. Here again we have that simple distinction between conspiracy and conspiracy theories: the distinction between the National Socialist conspiracy to annihilate every European Jew and the numerous conspiracy theories of denial which followed.

So it’s doubly ironic that the a conspiracy that has literally millions of separate bits of data and evidence to show that it really did occur, is precisely the one that many National Socialist - and other - conspiracy theorists claim didn't happen! It’s almost as if these conspiracy theorists prefer their conspiracies to work solely as unseen forces or events. In the Holocaust example, much of the evidence - most of it! - was seen, catalogued, filmed, recorded, written-down, etc. - and yet many conspiracists still don't believe it. Instead they believe conspiracies about the Jews, or Freemasons, or bankers, or the Illuminati, aliens, etc. that are not seen, written down, filmed, catalogued, recorded, etc. And perhaps this is precisely how many conspiracy theorists like their conspiracies to be. If the conspiracies didn’t or don't happen behind closed doors and perpetually remain behind closed (as it were), then they simply wouldn’t be sexy enough for them.




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Notes on Readers' Comments

1) The strange thing about political conspiracy theorists is that they appear to have tapped into a Marxist – or at least quasi-Marxist – view of both history and society/politics. Marx told us that both history and politics aren't essentially about ideas and certainly not about “great leaders”; they are primarily, or even solely, about the spooky unseen forces which are the economic “substructures” and therefore also the class-based underpinnings of society and history. Of course the relations of economic production and exchange can be seen. Nonetheless, what can’t be seen, the Marxist tells us, are how these economic processes or facts causally affect society’s ideas, ideologies and even its religion/s. This is a distinction between what Marxists could and still can see and what the rest of us couldn’t and still can't see. This was, in fact, a rendition of a classic trope in philosophy (though in a new guise): that great distinction between “reality and appearance” so favoured by philosophers as varied as Plato, Descartes and, of course, Marx’s very own Hegel.


Other conspiracy theorists have seemingly dispensed with the Marx’s own particular take on the philosophical reality-appearance paradigm. Instead of economic factors (i.e. capitalism and its “modes of production”) constituting the unseen forces, conspiracy theorists will substitute their own which are at work behind the scenes. Despite that, what some non-Marxist conspiracy theorists see – and we don't - is still often economic and therefore political. They too talk about banking conspiracies (often run by Jews), the power of multinationals (often run by Jews), and how money (often Jewish money) and the (often Jewish) platonic Media affects sociological reality and even what it is we believe.

In fact these conspiracy theory variables are often fused by conspiracy theorists in that Jews, Freemasons, the Illuminati, etc. are often actually deemed to work in union – with the Jews, of course, on the top of the pyramid. Thus this makes the unseen-forces model even neater and easier to digest, intellectually speaking.

In terms of “superstructural” Leftist/Marxist conspiracy theories, they will include stories about bankers conspiring together, or Zionists conspiring together, or oil magnates conspiring together; or, even, as previously, bankers and Zionists and oil magnates all conspiring together.


By distinguishing reality from appearance in these ways, conspiracy theorists appear to be the political duplicates of those sects which, according to the sects themselves, have unique access to reality, truth and much else. And, of course, the only way you can find Reality and say goodbye to Appearance is by joining one of these sects (whether a Marxist, Nazi or a religious sect). Or, alternatively, just read the sect's literature instead.


2) One commentator said that a “theory must agree with the facts, but it can be wrong". However, I don't think that even in science there's a determinate and universally-accepted definition of the word “theory”. But I take his point.


Some people make a distinction between an hypothesis and a theory. An hypothesis, as in Charles S. Peirce's abductive hypothesis, is supposed to be an almost literal stab in the dark used, nevertheless, to explain a given fact or given observation. But what would be the point of a hypothesis which is completely free-standing? It must already have some basis in prior facts, experience, observations, tests, laws, etc. otherwise it would serve no purpose.


3) One reader told me of one of the many conspiracies carried out by Barack Obama. He said:


You didn't address the one issue most often used to label (libel) fans of this site as conspiracy theorists - Obama's birth records.... There is an 80 page affidavit chock full of evidence by a local law enforcement agency, yet it is dismissed by most as a conspiracy theory.”


All can say is just as people’s politics and ideological predispositions can help determine which theories they accept, and even which ones they formulate; so too can people's politics help determine which theories they reject – as in this Obama example. I personally don't know the ins-and-outs of this example. However, if there is a 80 page affidavit, etc., then I wouldn't class this theory as a conspiracy theory. And since I too have seen tons of evidence that Obama is a compulsive liar, I think the theory may well be true.


The commentator went on:


“Identity theft is not rare. The only thing rare about Obama's fraud is his audacity and lack of shame.”


Saying that “identity theft is not rare” is far from being conspiratorial. And I agree about Obama. That's why I didn't include any conspiracies in the article which I personally think occurred because readers would class me as being biased, etc.


Basically, I'm just asking questions about the nature of many conspiracy theories. Surely people have to agree that many of them are just so damn wacky. Either that, or completely politically motivated.


In fact Obama was mentioned again by another reader. He said:


"What is not a conspiracy is that Obama is working against the American people as agent for Iran and Russia..."


That's a conspiracy (I've never heard this Iran-angle) and it's also a theory about a conspiracy. A sceptic about conspiracy theories doesn't deny all conspiracies. He's just sceptical about the mindlessness of most conspiracy theories and I explain why that is so in the article.


One of my points is simple: because there are nth new conspiracy theories before each breakfast, and even two new ones about X, how do conspiracy theorists deal with the conspiracy theories which they themselves think are silly or unfounded? More relevantly, how do they deal with the conspiracy theory which says not-X, when their theory says X? What arguments do they use when almost by definition the "facts are hidden", or "denied by those in power", etc? These rival theorists are saying the same thing as they are about “hidden facts”, “government lies”, etc.; but their theory contradicts the conspiracy theorist's theory.


4) I myself have been accused of being a conspiracy theorist because I've shown a degree of scepticism towards (aspects of) the anthropogenic global warming theory. Nonetheless, my critics have said that when none of what I've have said was really a rejection of the theory (as such).


I think that only fundamental theories (say, in physics) can be true in any absolute sense. And even here the notion of truth is rejected by many scientists. When it comes to a non-basic and new science like climatology, let alone the even newer "science of global warming": what it encompasses is so broad and contains so many variables that it cannot really be classed as either true or false. Only single propositions or statements can be true or false; and even that position can be qualified.


5) I write an article called 'Conspiracies ain't Conspiracy Theories' and I was accused, a few times, of denying that conspiracies exist.


I think that one of the main motivating forces for many conspiracy theories is prior politics. The theories are usually tailor-made to advance or gel with prior ideologies or political belief-systems. Thus whatever conspiracy theory about, say, 9/11 a person believes may well be determined almost entirely by his politics.


There are of course other reasons for believing or concocting conspiracy theories. Nonetheless, I believe that politics, not only psychology, is a strong motivating factor. For example:


i) Many Muslims believe that 9/11 was a Zionist/Mossad plot to gain support for Israel.
ii) Many libertarians believe it was a plot to increase American state power.
iii) Many Leftist believe it was an excuse to go into Afghanistan and steal its oil or at least guarantee an oil pipeline.
iv) David Ike believes it was carry out by alien lizards.
v) Hippies believe it was a means to destabilise cosmic karma and thus create an increased need for the drugs of the Pharmo-Militray-Industrial Complex.



The problem for the conspiracy theorist (as can be seen above) is that for every seemingly legitimate conspiracy he cites, there will be another twenty which will contradict it.


What happens is that a person's prior ideologies or prior political positions will either determine the theories he accepts, or the theories he develops. This will effectively mean that if a "right-winger" believes theory X about, say, 9/11, a Leftist or Muslim will believe theory not-X about 9/11. The theories, in most but not all cases, simply back up the theorist's prior political/ideological world-view. And that's why just about anything goes when it comes to conspiracy theories. There is a conspiracy theory about X to suit every political position.


6) One interesting possible conspiracy is that of the Free Masons here in the UK.


Despite that, the 'power' of the Free Masons isn't 'hidden', is it? There are thousands of articles, books and websites devoted to the power of the Free Masons. I would bet that there are seminars and colloquiums too.


The question is, then, how that massive un-hidden nature of Free Mason activities and schemes squares with their (hidden?) power. Why hasn't all that research and all those blogs and articles had any effect on the supposed power of the Free Masons? Or is this where another theory comes in to explain that massive anomaly between Free Mason power and the fact that just about everybody knows about Free Mason power?


I don't have that much knowledge of English Free Masons. How much power do people think that they have? For example, what about the Old Etonians' Club: do Free Masons have more power than that considering that the Conservative Party is full of Old Etonians? (Unless Old Etonians are also Free Masons.)


So nothing is essentially “paranoid” about believing that secret and not-so-secret clubs exist.


Again, does the vast critical knowledge of the Free Masons have no effect on their continued power? And if that's the case, then what they are doing may only be vaguely powerful or secretive. It's like Arab culture, throughout the Middle East, in which just about everything is determined by which clan or tribe you belong to. But, then again, I don't think any of that is very secretive.


The man who had knowledge of English Free Masons went on to say:


"Any personal experience of such a conspiracy is bound to be 'subjective'. Try and find someone who you know is a mason. Ask them about masonry. Watch them avoid and dissemble, as they are told to do...why are they so reluctant to discuss it all?"


I wouldn't disagree with any of that. Nonetheless, if so many people know about Free Masons, and the fact that they all "dissemble", how do they get away with what they do on such a large scale? Or is it just a small scale?


He continued:


"When I took a solicitor's practice I was invited to become a mason, wholly out of the blue. I just know I would have received a lot more contracts, conveyancing work etc., had I agreed. I sometimes wish I had..."


That doesn't sound very secretive to me. It sounds like every solicitor ( at that firm) is automatically asked to become a Free Mason. That also sounds like a version of the Old Boys' Network. And, I suppose with the Old Boys' Network, or Old Etonians, it's not really that secret either. Having said that, not being secret doesn't lessen the power that these clubs genuinely have.


7) I don't have a foolproof method for distinguishing genuine theories from conspiracy theories. However, because of the multitudes of conspiracy theories which there are on the market, even on a single subject, I think scepticism is a very good thing. What's wrong with suggesting ways to sort the wheat from the chaff?


8) One point I would make is that since many global conspiracies have been occurring since the beginning of the 20th century (if not before), then why haven't all these conspirators (or only some of them) already achieved 'world domination' and complete control? Unless they already have!?


From what I know about human nature, and the nature of political and ideological differences, as well as the inevitable clash of egos, how on earth do all these entities - let alone individuals - manage to cooperate on their schemes of global domination? Even if they are all sharing the cake of global power between themselves, isn't that still a recipe for major conflict within this global conspirators' group/s? How do they pull off so much ideological and political cooperation even if they all do want the same thing? History and psychology shows that such massive cases of global cooperation between seemingly different groups, or even between similar groups, is highly unlikely.


What's even more miraculous is how it's all hushed up. I say hushed up even though the many believers in these global conspiracies do talk about these things a lot. Nonetheless, all that talk appears to have zero impact on the ongoing success rate of these global conspiracies.