PAUL AUSTIN MURPHY ON POLITICS

PAUL AUSTIN MURPHY ON POLITICS


The subjects covered in this blog include Slavoj Žižek, IQ tests, Chomsky, Tony Blair, Baudrillard, global warming, sociobiology, Islam, Islamism, Marx, Foucault, National/International Socialism, economics, the Frankfurt School, philosophy, anti-racism, etc... I've had articles published in The Conservative Online, American Thinker, Intellectual Conservative, Human Events, Faith Freedom, Brenner Brief (Broadside News), New English Review, etc... (Paul Austin Murphy's Philosophy can be found here


This blog used to be called EDL Extra. I was a supporter (neither a member nor a leader) of the EDL until 2012. This blog has retained the old web address.

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Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Linguistic Tricks: Corbyn is Center-Left, a Social Democrat, a Democratic Socialist...


I've had various debates (or at least exchanges) with the supporters of Jeremy Corbyn. In these debates Corbyn has been variously classed as“center-left”, a “social democrat”, and a “democratic socialist”.

Despite all that, no matter how many times his supporters keep on saying that Jeremy Corbyn is "center-left" or a "social democrat", it won't change the fact that... he's not. Corbyn, after all, has classed himself as a “radical socialist”. Indeed he's been classed that way by numerous of his supporters.

Now what point is there of using the prefix "radical" (as in “radical socialism”) if it simple refers to some kind of center-left position or the position of a social democrat? The whole point about adopting a radical position is that's it's radical. (That is, not centrist.) Thus all this playing with terms is surely semantic deceit. It's linguistic showmanship which is primarily designed to distance Jeremy Corbyn from Marxism, Trotskyism and communism generally. But what's even more perverse is that the classifications “center-left” and “social democrat” are designed to distance Corbyn from Radical Socialism itself – something which he has openly endorsed.

Corbyn is on the Center-Left

So let's firstly tackle the classification “center-left”.

That term may sound odd for the current leader of the Labour Party. However, even the Independent newspaper has Corbyn down as being “center-left”. (See here.) Many others do too.

Yet the fact is that many Corbynites despise the center-left of the Labour Party and centrism generally. (Yes, Corbynites don't only despise right-wing "Blairite vermin".) You can see the vitriolic dismissal of non-Corbynite Labour Party MPs, Labour councilors, Labour members, etc. on social media and in Corbynite blogs (such as SkwawkboxEvolve Politics,Another Angry Voice, the Canary, Novara Media, etc.).

Nonetheless, I'm happy to admit that many Labour Party members and supporters are center-left. I'm even prepared to accept that a few supporters of Corbyn are center-left (i.e., those who're tribal Labour Party voters). However, I'm certainly not prepared to accept that Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell, Momentum, etc. are center-left.

Now semantic games can even be played with the term "center-left". As it is, there are dozens of quotes, arguments, bits of evidence and biographical detail which explicitly show that Corbyn is a hair's breadth away from being a non-revolutionary (though still “radical”) Marxist... So why have I just used the prefix “non-revolutionary”? I've used that because it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that there have been very many non-revolutionary Marxists (dating back to the late 19th century) whom happily participated in the political systems of “capitalist democracies”.

Corbyn is a Social Democrat

Many other Corbynites say that Jeremy Corbyn is a “social democrat”.

So let's start with this quote:

From a purely socialist point of view, social democratic reform is a failure since it serves to devise new means to strengthen the capitalist system, which conflicts with the socialist goal of replacing capitalism with a socialist system.”

The following are some example of outlets which also claim that Corbyn is a “social democrat”.

For example, the pro-Corbyn blog, Another Angry Voice, tells us that 'Jeremy Corbyn is a social democrat'. We also have openDemocracy (a “socially liberal and internationalist political website”) with its article,'Jeremy Corbyn – a mainstream [Scandinavian] social democrat'.

On the whole, however, it's more often said that Jeremy Corbyn is committed to “social democracy”; rather than saying – explicitly - that he's a “social democrat”. (Prospect - the “leading magazine of ideas” - published an article called: 'How Corbyn turned the tide for social democracy'.)

So let's take the Social Democratic Party (SDP), which was formed in 1981.

It's clear that there are lots of lessons to learn about the difference between social democracy and socialism (let alone Radical Socialism) within the SDP context. What's particularly relevant is the fact that the SDP was created as a response to the growing “far Left socialism” of the Labour Party in the late 1970s and early 1980s!

As just stated, the SDP was formed in reaction to the increasing Marxist/Leftist leanings of the Labour Party. In this instance at least, social democracy and socialism certainly didn't fuse. Thus the SDP was as hated by the socialists of the time as “Blairite vermin” and centrists (i.e., non-radicals) are hated by Corbynites today.

The primary gripes of the SDP included the growing prominence of Tony Benn (who, according to the BBC, “has been a key influence on Corbyn's politics”) in the Labour Party and the fact that the trade unions – with their “block votes”, etc. - had a very strong say in choosing the party leader.

It's also interesting to note that the SDP modelled itself (at least in part) on the “social-democratic governments” of Europe. This, of course, was something Labour Party socialists at the time were very much against – primarily because such social democracies were also “capitalist” social democracies - with monarchies! They were also strongly against the European Economic Community.

One can conclude that Labour's radicals must have been against both the democratic part of social democracy and also against the social democrats' commitment to capitalism. It was indeed the case that the SDP was committed to a restrained and controlled capitalism. (As is the current Conservative Party and all Conservative parties since the Second World War.) The SDP itself deemed its position to be a “middle way” between “Thatcherism” and “hard-left Labour”. In concrete terms, its constitution also stated that it was in favour of the “fostering of a strong public sector and a strong private sector without frequent frontier changes".

Having just mentioned European social democracies, many Corbynites have even had the audacity to cite Scandinavian countries as being Corbyn's political exemplars. Yet no Scandinavian government is socialist - let alone Radical Socialist.

Sweden, for one, is a parliamentary (representative) democracy and a constitutional monarchy; with a King as head of state. The country is now run by its Social Democratic Party.

Norway is also a parliamentary (representative) democracy and a constitutional monarchy; with a King as head of state. The government of Norway is a coalition between the Progress Party (which is “classical liberal-libertarian and conservative-liberal”) and the Conservative Party.

As for Denmark. This country is also a parliamentary (representative) democracy and a constitutional monarchy; with a Queen as head of state. At present, the Government of Denmark is made up of a “center-right bloc” which includes the Liberal Party, the Liberal Alliance and the Conservative Party.

Corbyn is a Democratic Socialist

Many supporters of Jeremy Corbyn also class him as a “democratic socialist”.

The question we should ask here is whether or not contemporary “radical socialism” (to use the Morning Star's words for Corbyn's position) can ever be truly democratic. After all, this is an ideology which demands that all the “means of production, distribution and exchange” (as well as all public services, schools, much - or all? - of the media) should be state-owned (or, as Corbyn's supporters put, “socially-owned”). We would also need to contemplate what a Corbyn government would do to political dissidents - of whichever flavour. (Note here that the leftwing “no platform” policy will be backed up by a socialist government if Corbyn gains “state power”.)

The term “democratic socialism” (or “democratic socialist”) is very vague anyway.

For a start, hardly any socialist or communist has ever explicitly spoken out against democracy. Nonetheless, they most certainly have spoken out against particular types of democracy. Thus the word “democratic” in “democratic socialism” will need to be defined and explained. After all, we mustn't forget that many communist regimes in the 20th century classed themselves as “democratic”. (E.g., the Lao People's Democratic Republic, the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, the Democratic Government of Albania, Democratic Kampuchea, the People's Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, the Somali Democratic Republic, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, Democratic Federal Yugoslavia, the Democratic Republic of the Sudan, etc.)

The basic thing is that no matter how the word “democratic” - in “democratic socialism” - is defined or used, it's still deemed to be an aspect of socialism.

So perhaps it would be wise to consider here the Democratic Socialists of America; which was formed 1982 and is still with us today. The DSA is (according to itself“the largest socialist organization in the United States”. In the past the DSA has endorsed Jesse Jackson, Bernie Sanders and, more recently, Britain's very own Jeremy Corbyn.

One enlightening Democratic Socialists of America statement reads as follows:

Electoral tactics are only a means for democratic socialists.”

So what about democratic socialism itself? The following is the DSA's view:

"We are socialists because we reject an economic order based on private profit, alienated labor, gross inequalities of wealth and power... We are socialists because we share a vision of a humane social order based on popular control of resources and production, economic planning, equitable distribution... We believe that such a strategy must acknowledge the class structure of American society and that this class structure means that there is a basic conflict of interest between those sectors with enormous economic power and the vast majority of the population."

We can see that this passage might have comes straight out of Karl Marx's Communist Manifesto - if in an updated form!

That means that when it comes to the Democratic Socialists of America (at the least), the term “democratic socialism” means acknowledging and then winning the class war. It also means the total control of all “resources and production”; alongside complete “economic planning”.

So what, exactly, of the democracy part the DSA's democratic socialism? The answer to that is as simple as this:

No state or government which allows capitalism – in any shape and form – can be truly democratic precisely because it still allows “gross inequalities”, “alienated labour” and the “conflict of interests”.

Quite simply, the Democratic Socialists of America believes that true democracy will never exist until socialism – in its complete form - is put in place.

And like the activist group Momentum within today's Labour Party (which stated that it "exists to build on the energy and enthusiasm from the Jeremy Corbyn for Labour Leader campaign”), the DSA places its cards on the table in this way:

Much of progressive, independent political action will continue to occur in Democratic Party primaries.... democratic socialists will support coalitional campaigns based on labor, women, people of color and other potentially anti-corporate elements... Electoral tactics are only a means for democratic socialists [my bold]; the building of a powerful anti-corporate coalition is the end...”

Indeed the overall role of the Democratic Socialists of America (just like Momentum in today's British Labour Party) is to “realign” the Democratic Party and make it out-rightly Marxist/Radical Socialist.

... and, finally, Corbyn is a Radical Socialist

So what about Corbyn as a “radical socialist”?

It's fairly easy (I suppose) to square Radical Socialism with Democratic Socialism. However, when it comes to squaring Radical Socialism with the “center-left” or with “social democracy”, then that's very bizarre indeed.

I don't know if it's only me, but I take the words “radical socialism” to mean a kind of socialism which is radical. Now socialism itself is - by definition! - opposed to capitalism. So I simply must assume that Radical Socialism is radically opposed to capitalism. However, I'm prepared to accept that many other types of socialist do indeed believe in “mixed economies”, “parliamentary democracy”, etc. (Though their positions may well be self-contradictory.) However, I'm not prepared to believe that Radical Socialists believe in mixed economies. Indeed many of them are also deeply suspicious of parliamentary democracy (or “capitalist democracy”, as they put it). Again, if all this isn't the case, then what point does the prefix “radical” serve in the term “radical socialism”?

This also means that we shouldn't expect Jeremy Corbyn himself to be too explicit about his dislike of - or scepticism towards - “the parliamentary road to socialism”; as his fellow socialist/Marxist Ralph Miliband was in the 1960s and 70s. (Ralph Miliband argued that the Labour Party could never be truly “radical” within a parliamentary context.)

One must assume that Corbyn's response to these Marxist/socialist sceptics would be something like this:

If Parliament were ruled by a radical-socialist Labour Party (as well as if Parliament itself were largely socialist in nature), then there'd be no problem at all. There'd simply be no need for a revolution.

This also means - at least in theory - that Jeremy Corbyn doesn't need to take a categorical or extreme or revolutionary position against Parliament. And isn't that precisely why he's been an MP for 35 years?


Friday, 11 May 2018

Do Most Corbynites Hate the Rich?


Why is it that so many supporters of Jeremy Corbyn (Britain's “radical socialist” Leader of the Opposition) have such a big problem with what they call "posh" and "rich" people? Is it because so many of them are posh and rich people themselves? Or is it because the “rich people” they criticise dare to be even more wealthy than they are? 


It's certainly the case there are many (to use Corbyn's term for himself) “radical socialists” - specifically in the London area - who have nannies, cleaners and gardeners. (Indeed many of these "helpers" are underpaid and also immigrants.) In more general terms, the Radical Left is also chockablock with public-school boys and girls. Some of these Radicals even send their own kids to private schools and to the best grammars (Seumas Milne and Shami Chakrabarti are good examples of this).

The Radical Left (at least its leaders and activists) is also almost entirely made up of middle-class professionals; many of whom earn loads of dosh. And the Rad Left is chockablock with students who're hoping to make loads of dosh in the future too. 

To paraphrase: Many Corbynites don't love the poor. They just hate the rich.

Of course it can't be said that every single supporter of Jeremy Corbyn "hates the rich" - just most of them. This is especially prevalent on social media, when it comes to Momentum activists and to those people with more sympathy for Corbyn than for the Labour Party itself. (It's worth reading Richard Seymour's Corbyn: The Strange Rebirth of Radical Politics here because this former Socialist Workers Party member despises the Labour Party at the very same time as simply adoring Jeremy Corbyn.)

Of course it can be asked how I know that many Corbynites hate the rich. Then again, how do other people know that Corbynites don't hate the rich? This is the philosophical problem of "other minds" writ large. So all one can do is interpret the words and behaviour of Corbynites. And the behaviour and words of Corbynites leads me to the conclusion that it's just as much a question of good old-fashioned hatred as it is of moral or political opposition.

To put all this another way. Many on the Left are forever talking about "haters", "hatred" and the rest. I'm simply arguing that Corbynites most certainly haven't miraculously escaped from the biological/human net in these respects.

Another thing which needs to be said here is that some/many people "support Corbyn" simply because they've always supported the Labour Party. And they also want to “get rid of the Tories”. So I certainly wouldn't class all of these Labour Party people as ideological Corbynites.

Envy, Jealousy and Hate?


So what about envy and jealousy?

I personally don't believe that Jeremy Corbyn himself is driven by an envy of - or jealousy towards - the rich. However, many Corbynites and other Radical Socialists most certainly are.

As for Corbyn and hate.

I think that hate is part of the Corbyn story. However, hate is almost the whole story when it comes to John McDonnell - the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer. After all, he did say that his favourite past-time is "generally fermenting the overthrow of capitalism”. McDonnell has also made many other vicious and hateful remarks directed at the wealthy and at many others too.

This obsession with "the rich" and with “public-school boys” (which is often displayed by rich leftwing public-school boys) could be seen when the Eton-educated Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg was recently photographed in Greggs (which is the largest bakery chain in the UK). Corbynites classed it as a “cheap PR stunt”. Yes, a PR student a bit like Jeremy Corbyn wearing Primark shorts, a Lenin cap, and carrying a plastic bag. Corbyn, of course, went to a private preparatory school, was brought up in a large house with seven bedrooms, had wealthy (Trotskyist) parents, has lived most of his life in a posh part of Islington, and has very many public-school friends; many of whom are communists and Trotskyists in the Stop the War Coalition - which he led until 2015. (The leading public-school boys in the Stop the War Coalition included and still include its Chairman Andrew Murray, as well as Tony Benn, Tam Dalyell, Chris Nineham, Charlie Kimber, Alex Callinicos, etc.

The Top 1%?


There also seems to be a logical flaw when Corbynites say that they "simply want the rich to pay their way” through “fair taxes”. In other words, Corbynites claim that it's not about vindictiveness or envy. However, surely if the tax policies which Corbynites want were ever brought into play, then there would simply be no rich people left. Corbynite tax policy is effectively a way of stopping the rich from being rich. Isn't that what “socialist equality” is all about?

This means that Corbynites are, after all, against the rich. Their policies would obliterate this section of society. “Fair taxes” and socialist equality will result in there being no rich people (except for, perhaps, the leaders of the Socialist State and Party leaders). Thus Corbynites are indeed against the rich; even if not all of them “hate the rich”.

So there is some dishonesty apparent here.

In a collectivist society based on socialist equality, there would be no room for "fair taxes" for the rich or for a “benign wealthy”. The idea that Corbynites or Radical Leftists just want to tax the rich more is very dishonest.

It's also the case that Corbynites never stop talking about “the top 1%”.

If you look at the socialist/communist regimes of the 20th century, it was never only the top 1% which got smashed in the face. Vast sections of society did. The Kulaks, for example, were wiped out for being “bourgeois” or “counter-revolutionary”. There were the “NEPmen” who suffered too. Some peasants who has an extra plot of land were even persecuted by the Soviet state or by party functionaries. Finally, under the Khmer Rouge, wearing glasses was seen as being a sign of being “bourgeois” or “rich”.

Even today, Marxists have a problem with all businessmen and owners of capital – very few of whom are in the top 1%. “Socialist equality” is, after all, socialist equality. Not only would the top 1% be wiped out, so would all “class distinctions”... Or, at least, the class distinctions noted by the middle-class Vanguard Class or by the Socialist State. That means that Party leaders, the rulers of the Socialist State, leftwing/Marxist academics, lawyers, and functionaries, etc. would still earn a hell of a lot more than the average worker - as was the case in all socialist/communist states.

Another point is is that the average member of the middle- and upper-middle-class Radical Left still earns a lot more than the average worker. However, that inequality is fine. It's the inequality between the middle-class Left and the top 1% that members of the former can't stomach.

Philanthropy and Charity



Despite all the above, some - though certainly not all - supporters of Corbyn say that they aren't "against the rich" or "against wealth". They say it's "what people do with their wealth that matters". They hint that Rad Socs do good things with their wealth. Though they never say, exactly, what it is they do with it. And I can't think of any examples myself.

As for the philanthropy of generous Radical Socialists.

The Radical Left has always seen philanthropy as being “counter-revolutionary” in that if individuals spread their wealth, then that would work against the revolution or against "radicalisation". It also means that philanthropy stops the Socialist State itself spreading the wealth. Either way, individuals spreading their wealth is a bad thing for Radical Socialism.

Traditionally, the Rad-Soc position on charity has been even more critical. After all, it's the Socialist State and the Socialist State alone which must make it the case that there's simply "no need for charity".

Thus both philanthropy and charity work against Radical Socialism.

So, instead, what many Corbynites have done with their wealth is send their kids to private schools, employ foreign nannies/cleaners/gardeners, go on many foreign holidays, buy extra cars, perhaps even invest (as Seumas Milne did), etc.

Thus the bottom line is this:

If you're rich, posh and a socialist – then that's fine.
If you're rich, posh and rightwing – then that's not fine.














Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Is the term “Corbyn Cult” an “empty cliché”?




The meme above graphically displays the nature of the Corbyn Cult. Essentially, it's Manichean politics at its worst.

This particular Corbyn cultist tells us of the battle between Good and Evil. Specifically, he depicts the Holy War between Socialist Good and Capitalist (or Tory) Evil. And, of course, the Good is made up exclusively of socialists; and the Bad is made up of right-wingers or conservatives. 


In the language of post-structuralism, “race theory”, etc., Tories and right-wingers generally are being “Othered” by Corbyn cultists. That is, they're being dehumanised by members of the Church of Corbyn. As is well known, the German National Socialists (i.e., Nazis) did exactly the same when it came to many “out-groups”. The International Socialist Bolsheviks did it too.

This post also shows us the term “Corbyn cult” is not, in fact, a “manufactured cliché” of the platonic/Chomskyite Mainstream Media. Day in and day out Corbynites display such cultish words and cultish views on Facebook, social media generally and elsewhere. The opening post is just one more example of this. 


The particular Corbyn cultist (the one who posted the meme above) does indeed believe in a literal war of Good versus Evil. Specifically, he believes in what he calls "class war". That is, he claimed that because the Tories themselves are engaged in an evil "class war", then a Holy Socialist Class War has to be fought back.



All this means that no one needs to "lie", "exaggerate" or “distort” when it comes to many of the followers of Corbyn. They put themselves in the shit. Yes, who needs the Daily Mail to lie, exaggerate or distort when you have Corbyn cultists doing so instead?

As for the details of the meme. Even if the Tories have deliberately and evilly brought about “chronic NHS underfunding” and “housing neglect” (as well as having it in for “disabled people”), wouldn't all this still be preferable to a Corbynite socialist state which may well – in the long term at least – do some (or even all) of the following? -

- take control the entire media
- take control of the entire education system (in order to use it to teach True Socialist Theology)
- quickly import a few million more immigrants (many of whom would be terrorists and those intent on creating an "Islamic society") – and all in strict accordance with International Socialism's “open borders” policy
- form closer political, financial and military ties with Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and other useful socialist and Muslim oppressive regimes
- enforce the mass collectivisation of all aspects of life
- ban all right-wing parties and groups other than the Conservative Party
- imprison thousands - or even tens of thousands - of political dissidents (all of whom will, of course, be Naziracistfascistbigots! or members of the platonic Rich)
- slowly establish a one-party state


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Note:

Manichaeism taught an elaborate dualistic cosmology describing the struggle between a good, spiritual world of light, and an evil, material world of darkness. Through an ongoing process that takes place in human history, light is gradually removed from the world of matter and returned to the world of light, whence it came.” - Wikipedia

The term [Manichean] is often used to suggest that the world view in question simplistically reduces the world to a struggle between good and evil. For example, Zbigniew Brzezinski used the phrase 'Manichaean paranoia' in reference to U.S. President George W. Bush's world view... Philosopher Frantz Fanon frequently invoked the concept of Manicheanism in his discussions of violence between colonizers and the colonized.” - Wikipedia

Saturday, 5 May 2018

Facebook, Data Harvesting, and Brexit





Facebook has recently been the subject of a British parliamentary inquiry. More specifically, Parliament's Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee has been looking into the American company. Indeed the inquiry's chairman - Damian Collins (a pro-Remain Conservative MP) - even threatened Mark Zuckerberg with a formal summons to appear in person. Damian Collins MP did admit that Zuckerberg doesn't come under UK jurisdiction. Nonetheless, Collins also said that “he will do so the next time he enters the country”.

In terms of detail, a Canadian firm called Aggregate IQ is said to have spent money targeting the Leave vote in June 2016 – some two years ago.

So Facebook allowed pro-Brexit adverts... And? It's a private company. It isn't breaking any law in doing so.

Despite saying that, what's happened here is that various pro-European Union politicians (who had - and still have - a problem with the politics of these Facebook advertisements) have found another angle on the issue. That angle is the “illegal harvesting of data”. That is, it's not the pro-Brexit advertising on Facebook itself that's meant to be illegal – it's the “harvesting” of personal data. And that data was then said to have been used to advance the Brexit campaign.

All this, of course, discounts the tremendous amount of pro-Remain (actually, pro-European Union) advertising and propaganda on Facebook and elsewhere. In other words, even if pro-Brexit groups have advertised on Facebook, that doesn't automatically mean that Remain groups haven't done exactly the same thing. They have. Not only that: there are many Remain groups and even more Remainers on Facebook doing daily pro-EU propaganda work. Indeed some Remainers seem to be on Facebook all the time; and they are there specifically to put the European Union cause. That is, many of them never seem to post or comment on any other subject.

So has there been any data harvesting which has also helped the Remain campaign?

A History of Data Harvesting

The fact is that many websites and companies harvest data and personal information. This basically means that the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica stories only became news because politicians and activists had a political (not a legal) problem with data harvesting.

Data harvesting isn't new.

The Obama election campaign of 2012 used the data of up to 190 million Facebook users.

For example, one of the apps used by pro-Obama companies and activists could “grab information about [] friends: their birth dates, locations, and 'likes'”. In this particular case, up to 190 million people had their Facebook data processed by activists and companies involved in the Obama campaign. And no one had any knowledge of this or gave their consent. Indeed this political technique was classed as a "game-changer" by Democrats.

Facebook facilitated all this. Or as one Obama campaign director (a Carol Davidsenput it:

"Facebook was surprised we were able to suck out the whole social graph, but they didn't stop us once they realized that was what we were doing."

So many of the people who're against data harvesting today were in favour of it during the 2012 Obama campaign. Indeed Democrats and Obama supporters said that the methods used at that time were “ground-breaking” and “innovative”. The New York Times, for example, eulogized in the following manner:

Just like Kennedy brought in the television presidency, I think we’re about to see the first wired, connected, networked presidency.”

Many other political groups have also harvested data.

Take the Scottish National Party (SNP).

In terms of detail, the SNP has been “compiling a database of every voter in Scotland for over seven years”. And here's an interesting Facebook connection. The computer software the SNP used (i.e., NationBuilder) was co-founded by Facebook's own co-founder (along with Mark Zuckerberg): the Democrat and “social activist”, Joe Green.

Facebook is a Private Company

Facebook is a private company. So it can basically do want it wants as long as it doesn't break the law. Then again, that's the question: Has Facebook broken the law when it comes to the harvesting of data?

It's also the case that because Facebook is a private company, then it's free to have - or display - a political bias. In theory, Facebook could simply be a mouthpiece for International/National Socialism and there would still be nothing we could do about it … except, that is, stop using its services.

Indeed it's somewhat ironic that some of the fiercest critics of Facebook are also the people who use it much of the time.

So Facebook (as a company or - as it were - “editorially”) takes political positions. Everyone knows that.

Take just two examples.

Literally thousands – over the years - of Facebook users have been banned, blocked or suspended for criticising – in any shape or form – Islam. These people haven't been banned or suspended for “abuse” or for being “racist”. However, it's of course the case that the very criticism of Islam or Muslims (as Muslims) is indeed regarded as “racist” by many leftwingers.

Countless right-wing groups have also had their pages “removed” from Facebook. I too deemed some of those pages to be objectionable, crude and/or extreme. However, does that mean that they should have been removed?

Perhaps one day people may have such a political problem with Facebook that they simply stop using it. In fact many people have already given up on Facebook because of its “liberal Left” political bias and huge use of censorship (i.e., bannings, blockings, suspensions, “erasing content”, etc.).

On the other hand, many people find Facebook useful. And they do so for many reasons. Indeed even in terms of political debate and, yes, propaganda, Facebook can be useful.

So, in the end, Facebook is a game of pros and cons.

False Consciousness

As ever with the Remain campaign, there seems to be an implicit (sometimes explicit) reliance on the Marxist notion of “false consciousness”. Of course I don't mean that Remainers are actual Marxists or even that they've even heard of the Marxist term “false consciousness”. (That's why philosophers make a distinction between concepts and the words which express those concepts.) However, just as Noam Chomsky believes that the real reason why hundreds of millions of people aren't Chomskyites (or Radical Socialists) is because they've all been “brainwashed by the mainstream media”; so Remainers have heavily relied on the theory that over 17 million Brexiteers were totally unaware that they were being lied to during the Brexit campaign. That is, they believe that these 17 million Brexiteers were more susceptible to lies than they were! And again (as with Chomsky), Remainers deem this to be the case largely because of the platonic/Chomskyite Mainstream Media.

. And now we have yet another “data scandal”. Yes, Remainers have found another conspiracy theory to explain why it was that people dared to disagree with them.

The same false consciousnesses tune was also sung about Cambridge Analytica and its ability to hoodwink literally millions of gullible people (i.e., Brexiteers).

It's strange that Cambridge Analytica has been accused of “influencing the Leave vote” because that just-quoted phrase has been used very many times about the very many different things which have.... influenced the Leave vote. Isn't that pretty damn obvious? It's also a very vague accusation. (The just-linked article has it that “deindustrialisation”influenced the Leave vote.)

Of course all this doesn't mean that the harvesting of data isn't illegal (that's if if it is illegal) or stop it from being morally/politically objectionable to do so. Nonetheless, it's still the case that Remainers and pro-European Union politicians were really against Cambridge Analytica influencing the Leave vote, not against any ostensible illegality.

And this conspiracy theory also depends on the huge assumption that millions of gullible Brexiteers only ever had access to pro-Brexit comments, data and propaganda. That's obviously false when it comes to the vast majority of Brexiteers. Of course, as psychologists tell us, people often do gravitate towards political views which simply back up what they already believe. (It's called “confirmation bias”.) That's true. However, exactly the same is true of Remainers!... Unless, that is, each and every Remainer is morally and intellectually superior to all Brexiteers. Well, that's certainly something which many Remainers believe.

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To repeat. This storm in a teacup doesn't mean that Remainers haven't used advertising campaigns. Of course they have. And it doesn't mean that each and every Remainer only relies on pure debate, fact and analysis. Of course it doesn't. In the end, then, most Remainers are only against data harvesting and advertising that's pro-Brexit. They're not against the data harvesting and advertising that's pro-Remain. Now, isn't that a surprise?