Monthly Archives: August 2010

Gunman kills seven and himself in Slovak capital | Reuters

I suppose the Slovaks will now get their first real dose of victim disarmament.

Gunman kills seven and himself in Slovak capital | Reuters

Sign of the times

Micael Winning

The Oxford English Dictionary may not be printed in hardcopy again. So what happens if the electricity gets tuenrd off by the greens?

Perhaps that is what the bastards have in mind all along. Not just cultural destruction as DD keeps on syaing but the removal of a whole language from the realm of meaning?

Living In A Madhouse


Living In A Madhouse

Far be it from me to point the accusing finger….

Sean Gabb

Of course, *IF* Mr Hague delights in a spot of bum fun – and I have no evidence whatever that he does – it’s hardly a sick bag matter. Certainly, it’s far less our concern than if he were flipping properties or otherwise fiddling his expenses. Indeed, the fact that he *MIGHT* have misled the public is of no consequence. When you have no right to ask a particular question, you have no reason to complain if you are not given a true answer.

No, what I dislike about William Hague is that he acted in 2001 *AS IF* he’d been bribed or blackmailed to throw the election, and he then somehow made millions for giving his crap speeches all over the place, and he appears to have been pushing like mad for support of British military involvement in America’s wars. He also helped stitch us up over the Lisbon referendum. All this is surely a product more of stupidity than of villainy. But I see no reason to think better of him for that.

If revelations that he has been more than “posing as a somdomite” are the only way of wiping that grin from his face, just watch how old-fashioned I can become!

Simon Heffer on why accuracy in English matters

David Davis

No Michael, I’m not getting at you here, so don’t worry. Heffer, though, as always, is a model of clarity.

Hague quashes the rumours: `I’m not gay’ ague – UK Politics, UK – The Independent


Hague quashes the rumours: `I’m not gay’ ague – UK Politics, UK – The Independent

Sean Gabb says: Hang on, hang on – I’ve just noticed this denial from 13 years ago. William Hague says unambiguously here that he is a man of normalitude. I think, therefore, we should stop this foolish and childish speculation, as it can only tend to put people in doubt of the Foreign Secretary’s veracity.

Cabinet minister may act over false claims of gay affairs – Telegraph


Cabinet minister may act over false claims of gay affairs – Telegraph

We cannot but be vague about these claims. SIG

I Can’t Sing this One Either

Sean Gabb

But at least I don’t have to count my way through every bar, staring and rubbing my eyes!

When the earth stands still

Michael Winning

I was idly moocing about on the internet and I found this. Of course its obvious that of stuff moves about on the earth from top to sides, it will change its angular momentum (whats angular monentum then?0) so you tech people might like this from Strange Maps, an interesting blog.

What hope for the rest of us?

Christopher Houseman

Forget “Spooks”. This is how effective the surveillance State is at protecting one of a hand-picked élite among its own lieutenants, who lived “about half-a-mile” from MI6 headquarters.

Yessiree, I for one sleep soundly at night, safe in the knowledge that the Security and Intelligence apparatus of Her Majesty’s Government is keeping a sharp look-out for those genuinely evil terrorist types it often helped to train and finance in the first place.

Cough, Splutter Rave….

Sean Gabb

I have a cough that is causing me to bring up lumps of yellow phlegm. I have decided to blame the Jewminati Lizards and their henchmen in the City of London.

Anyone who dares question this is by definition one of them!

7 Planets found 127 Light years away

michael Winning

I just noticed this and thought some of you people might be interested.

Best GCSE results ever!

David Davis

Here you go, let’s all rejoice.

Latest madness with biofuels at Drax Power Station

by Philip Foster

I have just heard from a friend that work is going on at the Drax Power Station building storage and adapting one of their 11 boilers to burn, wait for it…. willow wands! It will require, apparently, some 72,000 tons of the stuff every month. Local farmers are planting willows rather than crops to rake in the extra subsidies, but no way can they supply that amount of biofuel. Then there is the pollution generated by burning green twigs. Coal burning products are a doddle to clean up compared to this. These people are certifiable. Rev Philip Foster MA 1 Barnfield, Common Lane, Hemingford Abbots, Cambridgeshire PE28 9AX 01480 399098 Also SMP Ltd.

What should a libertarian do?

David Davis

Apologies again for absence. Since Gordon Brown and Tony Blair (and John Major and Thatcher too, for they failed to kill the rot while they could have done cheaply) have run out of everyone’s money, I have been scratching around on the bottom of the chicken-coop of this gigantic open prison, for things that might earn a crust or two. Not much success, but some thoughts.

Libertarians, as we are now, are good at talking to ourselves. We blog, we rant, we publish sundry pamphlets, and all the while the gramsoStaliNazis go marching on. Through the “Institutions” (they’ve done that now and have corrupted them quite fully enough), through the “New Universities” – that great hotbed of bureaucrat-spawning which they wanted deliberately to create so as to keep the supply of willing concentration-camp-guards going, using courses like “Town Planning Studies” (I made that one up but you know what we mean.)

We the Libertarians have not been very good at seeing how to trip up our enemies capitally, using no money, in no time, and with no resources. This is a failing. We are quite good at articulating arguments for liberalism, which is to say: capitalism and individual freedom in all aspects of life, but we are absolutely shite at persuading the right number (which is to say: thousands and thousands and thousands, and more thousands) of people (not just “students” who will be “important” later) _/IN POWER NOW/_ that we are right, and everything that they have been taight and have hitherto believed about which way round the relationships in a civilisation are, is wrong.

That their view of how society works is an inversion of the truth, and that ours is the correct way up, escapes them totally. We know we are right, and we know they are wrong, but can we get it across?


Dr Sean Gabb, who has been on the TV and the radio more times than all of us together have had a hot dinner, is used by the Enemy-Class as the statutory fall-guy, and straw-man, whose mike can be turned off as soon as he has said something that Yasmin Alibi-Brown can’t answer. The rest of us, about five, won’t even get asked on, even if we could perform. Look at what was done to The Devil even, by that guy who pilloried him on live TV a few months ago.

I’m not saying I know what the solution is. Can anybody help in the discussion, in which I hope you will all get killed in the rush to respond?

As promised, we have just raised the price of the LA Conference to £99

Our reason is that the National Liberal Club has had to increase its own prices, and, while we never make a profit from the conference, we cannot afford a loss.

Yes, think of this every time some slimy politician comes on the telly and tries telling us that inflation is not a problem.

I Think I have Published One of My Books via Kindle

Sean Gabb

But am unable to see if I have done a good or a crap job of setting the text. How without spending money, can I see a copy?

Cultural Revolution, Culture War: How Conservatives Lost England and how to Get It Back

How Could Illegal Immigration Make America Any Worse Than It Already Is? :: The Market Oracle :: Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting Free Website


Nice reference to Sean Gabb here!

As a people that have long puffed out their chests for having the most free and richest country in the history of the world, it is hard for Americans to come to grips with the fact that their country is now a toilet (hat tip to Sean Gabb for this phenomenal metaphor). The country they have long viewed as a bastion of liberty and free markets is now nothing more than a bankrupt, run-of-the-mill police state, but many Americans have been slow to recognize this, and they continue to flail away at issues that are completely irrelevant or quixotic. The prime example of this is the fact that many Americans still waste their time trying to get Congressman X or Senator Y elected, as though it really matters whether the man in Washington robbing them to fund war, government eavesdropping, and corporate welfare is from the Donkey syndicate or the Elephant syndicate. There is a very fine line dividing the cautiously optimistic from the hopelessly naïve, and I fear that an overwhelming number of Americans have slipped into the latter category as they wistfully imagine that their government and their economy can be salvaged in the voting booth.

How Could Illegal Immigration Make America Any Worse Than It Already Is? :: The Market Oracle :: Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting Free Website

When was a Militarised Police State “Progressive”?

by Sean Gabb

Tha answer, I suppose, is when you’re a Liberal Democrat MP. Ever since they went into coalition with a Tory Party that is, admittedly, awful, they’ve been whining about the chance they missed of creating a “progressive” coalition.

What was progressive about the Blair/Brown Junto? Its wars with Serbia, Afghanistan and Iraq? The Civil Contingencies Act? The various “terror” laws? Identity cards? When did the Tories last do anything that awful? What chance they will this time?

My advice to David Cameron is to wait until Labour has burdened itself with a new and useless leader, and then hurry off to make HMQEII dissolve Parliament. I don’t fancy a Tory majority – not bearing in mind the dross who get selected. Better that, though, that having to be partly governed by a few dozen people who, despite the name they’ve given their party, are neither liberals nor democrats.

Something Wonderful

Sean Gabb

The score is handy for telling me the piece is in Db. And it generally helps explain why my own efforts at singing it in the car have not so far matched those of Mme Callas….

Peter Tatchell on Marriage

Note: Peter Tatchell will be speaking at the Libertarian Alliance Conference, to be held in London on the 30th-31st October 2010. See the LA Website for details.

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Is marriage equality a priority?

Time to end the ban on same-sex marriage

London – 19 August 2010

A recent Pink News poll, found that 98% of its readers believe that civil partnerships are not enough. They want full same-sex civil marriage.

The main UK gay lobby group, Stonewall, does not call or campaign for marriage equality; claiming it is not a priority.

All other major LGBT groups oppose the ban on gay marriage and want registry office civil marriages to be open to all couples, without discrimination.

Peter Tatchell of OutRage! writes for Pink News

The main issue is not whether same-sex marriage is a priority but whether LGBT people should be banned from getting married. We should not be banned. Equality is the number one issue.

No LGBT organisation claiming to support equal rights should remain silent and inactive while we are denied the right to marry. Such outrageous homophobic discrimination must be challenged.

Campaigning for marriage equality does not preclude us from also campaigning against homophobic bullying or for LGBT asylum rights. It is not a case of having to choose one campaign over another. It is possible to simultaneously push for equality on several fronts.

Nor is the main issue whether same-sex marriage is a good thing. I share the feminist critique. Marriage has a history of sexism and patriarchy. I would not want to get married. But as a democrat and human rights defender, I support the right of other LGBTs to marry, if they wish. I resent the fact that people are deemed ineligible to marry, simply because they love a person of the same sex.

Every LGBT organisation should be publicly backing the right of lesbian and gay couples to get married in a registry office on exactly the same terms as heterosexual men and women.

Imagine the outcry if the government banned black couples from getting married and required them to register their relationships through a separate system of civil partnerships instead?

Most of us would condemn it as racist, to have separate laws for black and white people. We’d call it apartheid, like what used to exist in South Africa.

Well, black people are not banned from marriage but lesbian and gay couples are. We are fobbed off with civil partnerships.

Civil partnerships are not equality. They are a new form of discrimination. Separate is not equal.

In terms of law, civil partnerships are a form of sexual apartheid. They create a two-tier system of partnership recognition: one law for heterosexuals (civil marriage) and another law for same-sex couples (civil partnerships).

This perpetuates and extends discrimination. The homophobia of the ban on same-sex civil marriage is compounded by the heterophobia of the ban on opposite-sex civil partnerships. Just as a gay couple cannot have a civil marriage, a straight couple cannot have a civil partnership.

Two wrongs don’t make a right. In a democracy, we should all be equal before the law.


The views of other LGBT organisations and campaigners can be viewed here on the Pink News website:

Britain’s main gay rights lobby group, Stonewall, declined to participate and was not willing to express its point of view.


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Civitas on Social Mobility

Civitas Institute for the Study of Civil Society

18 August 2010
Policy Briefing

Will Nick Clegg escape the Social Mobility Myths?
By Peter Saunders

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg made a major speech today in which he identified ‘promoting social mobility’ as ‘at the top of our social agenda’. Tony Blair made a similar commitment in 1997, just as John Major did in 1992. It is something modern leaders feel compelled to talk about. But Clegg brought a fresh take to it by emphasising the importance of parenting. Coupled with the Coalition’s initiatives on tax reform and early years intervention, this should help focus attention on the real social mobility problem – the self-reproducing, welfare-dependent underclass.


Like many politicians and commentators, Clegg thinks we have a serious social mobility problem in Britain: ‘It really, really gets to me that even though … we are a relatively affluent country, children are pretty well condemned by the circumstances of their birth.’ Unusually, though, he was prepared in his speech to identify poor parenting as part of the problem. Parents, he said, are ‘on the frontline’ and must interest their children in education.

He’s right. Unfortunately, though, he has appointed former Health Secretary, Alan Milburn, as social mobility special adviser to the Government. And Milburn seems convinced the problem is institutional (in his letter accepting this latest appointment, he saw his task as ‘assessing the progress each set of institutions is making to [increasing] opportunities’).

A closed-shop society?

Milburn chaired a report on recruitment into the professions in 2009 (Unleashing Aspiration) in which he claimed: ‘Birth, not worth, has become more and more a determinant of people’s life chances.’ He even described Britain as a ‘closed-shop society’. He thinks institutions are blocking people.

Milburn will now report annually on how social mobility is being improved across the public sector, including the NHS and universities. This should set alarm bells ringing for anyone who knows anything about this issue, for it signals more destructive and ineffective social engineering could be on the way.

Opportunity is already extensive

Clegg is right to want every child to enjoy the opportunity to exploit their talents to the full. Nobody wants to see bright and hard-working people blocked through no fault of their own. As he said, ‘Fairness means everyone having the chance to do well, irrespective of their beginnings. Fairness means that no one is held back by the circumstances of their birth. Fairness demands that what counts is not the school you went to or the jobs your parents did, but your ability and your ambition.’

But what he may not understand is that, for most people living in Britain today, this is already the situation.

Britain is not a perfect meritocracy, of course. Like in every other country, children benefit if they are born to supportive parents who care about their education and make sacrifices to help their kids excel. And not everyone has parents like that. Nevertheless, the evidence from social mobility research is that, if you are bright and hard-working, and your parents have a job (no matter what it is), you will almost certainly succeed in modern Britain:

* Dividing the population into three classes (professionals, managers and administrators at the top, manual workers at the bottom, and others in-between), more than half the population of Britain ends up in a different social class from the one they were born into.
* Of children in the top quarter of the ability distribution, only 1 in 20 ends up in a semi- or unskilled working class job, while two-thirds get professional-type careers, irrespective of the class of their parents.
* Movement is extensive, up and down these classes. More people born to working class parents are upwardly mobile by the time they reach 30 than stay in the working class. Downward mobility is also common: more than one-third of middle class children fail to stay there.

Given these figures, it is outrageous that Milburn last year described Britain as a ‘closed-shop society’ where birth counts more than worth.

Why middle class children out-perform working class children

It is true that children born into middle class homes tend (on average) to out-perform children born into working class homes. A child of manual worker parents is about three times less likely to achieve a professional/managerial position than a middle class child.

But it is a mistake to assume (as several recent government reports, including Milburn’s, have assumed) that this means there are unfair advantages or blockages at work. What this explanation neglects to consider is the distribution of talent.

When employers take on new employees, they try to recruit the most talented and able people. This creates a talent gradient across the occupational classes – people in the top jobs tend to be brighter on average than those at the bottom. These people usually find partners of a similar ability level (demographers call this ‘assortive mating’). And between them, they tend to have children whose ability to some extent reflects their own. The result is that, in each generation, a disproportionate number of middle class children is born with the high ability needed to get the best jobs. Hence that 3:1 ratio.

Nobody likes to talk about this – least of all, politicians. When they see middle class kids outperforming working class kids, they prefer to blame ‘unfair social conditions’. But the principal explanation is differences in average ability levels.

In research recently published by Civitas, half of the explained variance in the occupational destinations achieved by the 1958 birth cohort was due to just one variable – how well they scored on an IQ test when they were aged 11. This is a much better predictor of their eventual fate than the class they were born into, the type of school they attended, or any other social factor.

The fallacy of social engineering

Because politicians don’t like talking about ability differences, they keep trying to tweak educational and occupational selection procedures so more working class children will clear the assessment hurdles. They have been doing this for 50 years: abolishing grammar schools, scrapping streaming, turning Polytechnics into universities, expanding higher education places, dumbing down A-levels, attacking the private schools. Given the chance, Milburn will pursue more of the same (e.g. by penalising top universities if they do not take more entrants from lower social class backgrounds).

But none of these radical reforms has changed anything: ever since the war, middle class kids have been out-performing working class kids in that same ratio of around 3:1. All that more social engineering will achieve is a further diminution of educational standards.

Focus on the welfare underclass

There is one thing governments could and should be doing, though: intensively targeting children growing up in households where nobody has a job and parents are neglectful or absent. It is here, one suspects, that the real problem lies, and it is the one gleam of hope to be taken from Clegg’s speech. As he said: ‘Parents are in the frontline when it comes to creating a fairer society, in the way that they raise their children.’

It is often forgotten that research on social mobility excludes children in jobless households. When economists study income mobility, they exclude people with no earned income. When sociologists study occupational mobility, they exclude people with no occupation. The real social mobility problem is almost certainly concentrated in the welfare underclass of this country – but they are not being picked up in mobility statistics.

Instead of harassing Oxford and Cambridge to change their selection criteria, or fiddling with taxes and benefits to flatten the income distribution (something the 2009 Milburn Report was very keen on), politicians should devote their energies to improving parenting for young children growing up in welfare ghettoes. For everyone else, the opportunities are already there if they have the ability and motivation to take advantage of them. Milburn must be told there is no case for more social engineering.

Policy implications

There are three key policy implications that follow from all of this:

1. Help parents in workless households to assist their pre-school and older children.

2. Require people capable of work but currently on welfare to take a job.

3. Improve schools and provide supplementary schools so that they make up for unsupportive parents.

And one thing to avoid: don’t waste time on income redistribution or more quota-based social engineering. Not only are such initiatives ineffective, they are also counter-productive. When politicians repeatedly blame social conditions for outcomes, they breed fatalism by discouraging us from making the effort to overcome obstacles ourselves.

For more information contact:

Peter Saunders on: 07900 412420

Civitas on: 020 7799 6677

Notes for Editors

i. Civitas is an independent think tank. It receives no state funding either directly or indirectly and has no links to any political party.

ii. Peter Saunders is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of Sussex and Professorial Research Fellow at Civitas. For further information about the author see:

iii. To buy Social Mobility Myths by Peter Saunders, click here. A press summary of the report can be read here.

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Hegemony: Where is the Libertarian Revolution? – Robert Grözinger


Hegemonie: Wo bleibt die libertäre Revolution?

von Robert Grözinger

Voraussetzung ist der Einbau ihrer Ideen in die populäre Kultur, meint Sean Gabb von der UK Libertarian Alliance

Seit Jahrzehnten argumentieren Libertäre für die radikale Schrumpfung oder gar Abschaffung des Staates. Mit Büchern wie „Human Action“ von Ludwig von Mises, „Die Ethik der Freiheit“ von Murray Rothbard, „Die Verfassung der Freiheit“ von Friedrich von Hayek oder „Demokratie – Der Gott, der keiner ist“ von Hans-Hermann Hoppe sind ihre Standpunkte unwiderlegbar untermauert worden. Die Zahl der Werke dieser und vieler anderer Autoren ist inzwischen riesig. Dennoch wachsen die Staaten weiter und fusionieren sogar zu überstaatlichen, zentralistischen Konglomeraten. Unter den Folgen leiden fast alle. Doch 99 von 100 Menschen, oder noch mehr, haben nie von den genannten Autoren gehört, während die Namen Marx, Lenin, Trotzki oder Rosa Luxemburg, deren Werke ebenfalls kaum jemand liest, zum Allgemeingut gehören.

Sean Gabb, der Direktor der britischen Libertarian Alliance und Autor mehrerer Bücher, hat Anfang August ein Vortrag diesem Phänomen gewidmet und kam darin zu dem Schluss, dass die fehlende, entscheidende Zutat in der libertären Bewegung die kulturelle Komponente ist. Zur Verdeutlichung zog Gabb den Vergleich mit dem Aufstieg des Sozialismus nach der vorletzten Jahrhundertwende. Als Karl Marx 1883 in London starb, interessierte das in England niemanden, abgesehen von einer Handvoll Anhänger. Wenn um 1900 herum jemand argumentierte, dass der Staat die Sozialversicherung übernehmen sollte, hörte kaum jemand zu. 40 Jahre später jedoch hat es kaum noch jemand gewagt, die Gegenposition einzunehmen. Was war in der Zwischenzeit geschehen?

Der Erste Weltkrieg mag Ansichten verschoben haben, doch allein kann diese Katastrophe keine dauerhafte Einstellungsänderung erzeugt haben. Gabb führte aus, dass die Sozialisten um 1900, wie heute die Libertären, massenweise Bücher und Traktate produzierten, die aber damals kaum jemand las. Außerdem wurden ihre Argumente schnell von der Gegenseite zerpflückt – vor allem schon damals von Vertretern der österreichischen Schule der Ökonomie wie Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk. Die kulturellen Werke der Sozialisten dagegen, ihre Romane, Theaterstücke, Musik und so weiter, wurden eifrig und gerne konsumiert. In ihnen waren Wertvorstellungen und Appelle an das soziale Gewissen verpackt sowie Vorstellungen darüber, wie die Welt gerechter zu gestalten sei. Selten so offensichtlich wie beispielsweise bei Brecht, eher subtil, nebenbei und ohne große Worte zu verlieren. Dies sei das Geheimnis des Erfolges der etatistischen Linken im zwanzigsten Jahrhundert, meint Gabb. Sie haben ihre Argumente auf die kulturelle Schiene verlegt. Auf dieser Ebene Gegenpositionen im Diskurs aufrechtzuerhalten sei fast unmöglich, denn die meisten Menschen verstehen die Aufregung nicht. Es ist in ihren Augen bloß ein Roman, Theaterstück oder Film.

Gabb appelliert nun an die libertäre Gemeinde, diese Methode der Linken nachzuahmen und, statt eines weiteren Traktats, populärkulturelle Werke zu produzieren, die die radikalliberale Botschaft transportieren. Gabb selbst geht mit eigenem Beispiel voraus und hat in den vergangen Jahren unter dem Pseudonym Richard Blake mehrere historische Romane veröffentlicht. Ein Fehler Ayn Rands sei es gewesen, in ihren den Kapitalismus feiernden Romanen seitenlange doktrinäre Reden einzubauen. Solche Intensivkurse wollen Romanleser eigentlich nicht sehen und wirken auf viele abstoßend. Trotzdem haben Rands Romane unzählige Menschen zum ersten Mal auf den Gedanken gebracht, dass es vielleicht doch besser wäre, sich nicht immer auf den Staat zu verlassen – und sie somit auf einen intellektuellen Pfad geführt, der oft im Anarchokapitalismus kulminierte.

Einer der Fehler der konservativen Regierung der 80er und 90er Jahre in England, dozierte Gabb weiter, sei ihre völlige Vernachlässigung der kulturellen Sphäre gewesen. Es gab libertäre und konservative Kulturschaffende, beispielsweise Kabarettisten. Diese hätte die Regierung auf vielfache Weise fördern können, hat es aber unterlassen, wollte mit „diesen Methoden“ nichts zu tun haben und verließ sich lieber auf die Überzeugungskraft des rationalen Arguments. Derweil baute die Linke ihre Hegemonie im Kulturleben weiter aus. Während die Konservativen die Wahlen – noch – gewannen, eroberten die Linken über das Fernsehen und andere Medien, in Filmen, Serien, Romanen, Hörspielen allmählich die Hirne und Herzen der Wähler. So fiel dem damals noch für die Konservativen werbenden Gabb auf, dass viele, die er ansprach, sagten, sie würden seine Partei wählen, dass aber kaum einer für sie werben wollte, etwa durch ein Plakat im eigenen Fenster.

Inzwischen ist es völlig normal, in England darüber zu reden, ob sich die Partei der Konservativen ausreichend vom angeblich radikal-marktwirtschaftlichen Erbe Thatchers „entgiftet“ habe. Selbst die konservative Führung scheint bemüht, bloß nicht wie ein „Dinosaurier“ aus der Zeit der Eisernen Lady zu wirken. Es bringe überhaupt nichts, so Gabb, darauf hinzuweisen, dass Thatcher den Staat weder geschrumpft noch die Marktwirtschaft entfesselt hat, sondern einen Korporatismus schuf, eine effizientere Zusammenarbeit zwischen Großunternehmen und starkem Staat. Die Linke beherrscht den Diskurs weiterhin über die kulturelle Schiene und transportiert dort weiterhin die Mär vom bösen, marktwirtschaftlichen Thatcherismus, der die Gesellschaft entsolidarisiert hat.

Mit seiner These, dass die Konservativen eine kulturpolitische Chance verpassten, scheint Gabb auf der richtigen Spur zu sein. In den 80er Jahren, also kurz nachdem sich der Sozialdemokratismus in der „Stagflation“ festgefahren hatte, waren viele Menschen in allen westlichen Industriestaaten offenbar bereit, die Botschaft des Individualismus, der Leistung und der Freiheit zu hören und zu verinnerlichen. Man denke nur an den überwältigenden Überraschungserfolg des Films „Amadeus“ im Jahr 1984. Der Streifen lief wochenlang, über ein Jahr lang sogar, ununterbrochen in den Kinos. Sind die Leute in die Filmtheater geströmt, um ein Mozart-Potpourri zu hören? Wohl kaum. Sie wollten eine Geschichte sehen, in der ein etablierter aber mittelmäßiger Komponist, ein Günstling des Kaisers, den Aufstieg eines Ausnahmekünstlers diabolisch zu verhindern versucht und trotz seines scheinbaren anfänglichen Triumphs am Ende seine bittere, absolute, ja vernichtende Niederlage eingestehen muss.

Doch die damaligen Wahlkampfslogans über eine „geistig-moralische Wende“ oder „Leistung muss sich wieder lohnen“ blieben nur Sprüche. Auch in Deutschland erfolgte keine gezielte Förderung konservativer und liberaler Kulturschaffenden. Vielleicht im Grunde deswegen, weil Angestellte des Staates sich nie ernsthaft um ihre Abschaffung bemühen werden. Welcher Beamte würde schon für die Förderung eines libertären Kabarettisten eintreten? Mit anderen Worten: Die liberale kulturelle Hegemonie kann nur aus eigener Kraft gelingen. Die sozialistische Kulturrevolution benötigt heute die Stütze des Staates in Form öffentlich-rechtlichen Rundfunks und der Indoktrination an den Schulen und Hochschulen – eigentlich ein Zeichen der Schwäche. Doch anfangs war auch sie ganz auf sich allein gestellt. Der Kampf gegen ihre gegenwärtige mediale Übermacht mag entmutigend wirken, ist aber nicht aussichtslos. Als Alternative zu den Medien und den offiziellen Bildungseinrichtungen steht heute das Internet bereit. Jeder kann mit wenig Geld und Aufwand eigene Radio- und TV-Sendungen herstellen, Books-On-Demand-Plattformen nutzen und Online publizieren.

Nicht jedoch ein weiteres Traktat, nicht der X-te soziologische oder ökonomische Abhandlung – so notwendig sie für die interne philosophische Bildung sind – werden in der Gesellschaft reale, dauerhafte Veränderungen in Richtung Freiheit erzeugen, sondern nur eine unübersehbare Fülle von populärer kultureller Erzeugnisse, die die liberale Vision nebenbei transportieren, als sei sie das Selbstverständlichste der Welt.


Sean Gabb: Rede und Diskussion über kulturelle Hegemonie (Video in englischer Sprache, 95 Minuten)

Hegemonie: Wo bleibt die libertäre Revolution? – Robert Grözinger – eigentümlich frei

Pig Flu and the “Expert Advice”: Plutocracy in Action


Conflicts of interest and pandemic flu

WHO must act now to restore its credibility, and Europe should legislate

The world should of course be thankful that the 2009 influenza A/H1N1 pandemic proved such a damp squib. With so many fewer lives lost than had been predicted, it almost seems ungrateful to carp about the cost. But carp we must because the cost has been huge. Some countries—notably Poland—declined to join the panic buying of vaccines and antivirals triggered when the World Health Organization declared the pandemic a year ago this week. However, countries like France and the United Kingdom who have stockpiled drugs and vaccines are now busy unpicking vaccine contracts, selling unused vaccine to other countries, and sitting on huge piles of unused oseltamivir. Meanwhile drug companies have banked vast profits—$7bn (£4.8bn; {euro}5.7bn) to $10bn from vaccines alone according to investment bank JP Morgan.1 Given the scale of public cost and private profit, it would seem important to know that WHO’s key decisions were free from commercial influence.

An investigation by the BMJ and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, published this week (doi:10.1136/bmj.c2912), finds that this was far from the case.2 As reported by Deborah Cohen and Philip Carter, some of the experts advising WHO on the pandemic had declarable financial ties with drug companies that were producing antivirals and influenza vaccines. As an example, WHO’s guidance on the use of antivirals in a pandemic was authored by an influenza expert who at the same time was receiving payments from Roche, the manufacturer of oseltamivir (Tamiflu), for consultancy work and lecturing. Although most of the experts consulted by WHO made no secret of their industry ties in other settings, WHO itself has so far declined to explain to what extent it knew about these conflicts of interest or how it managed them.

This lack of transparency is compounded by the existence of a secret "emergency committee," which advised the director general Margaret Chan on when to declare the pandemic—a decision that triggered costly pre-established vaccine contracts around the world. Curiously, the names of the 16 committee members are known only to people within WHO.

Cohen and Carter’s findings resonate with those of other investigations, most notably an inquiry by the Council of Europe, which reports this week and is extremely critical of WHO.1 It concludes that decision making around the influenza A/H1N1 crisis has been lacking in transparency.

One of its chief protagonists is Paul Flynn, a UK member of parliament and a member of the council’s Parliamentary Assembly. He and others raised concerns last year about the lack of evidence to justify the scale of the international response to H1N1 (as also covered in the BMJ in December3), and the lack of transparency around the decision making process for declaring the pandemic.1

WHO’s response to these concerns has been disappointing. Although Margaret Chan has ordered an inquiry and WHO has stressed its commitment to transparency, her office has turned down requests to clear up concerns about potential conflicts of interest.2 And at a hearing of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly in January, WHO denied any industry influence on the scientific advice it received.1 Such a knee jerk defence before the facts were known may come to haunt the organisation.

This response is also disappointing given WHO’s track record of standing up to industry. In the late 1970s WHO sparked two iconic clashes with multinational companies over the marketing of breast milk substitutes in the developing world and the setting up of the Essential Drugs Programme.4 Both issues set WHO at loggerheads with the United States where these industries had major holdings. Partly in response to WHO’s position, America withdrew contributions to WHO’s budget.

More recently, in 1999, when the forced disclosure of confidential tobacco industry documents alerted WHO to possible interference in its anti-tobacco activities, its then director general Gro Harlem Brundtland quickly set up an independent inquiry. She then published and press released its shocking findings—of an elaborate industry funded campaign to undermine WHO—without any attempt at interference or spin.5 The report recommended that all staff, consultants, temporary advisers, and members of expert committees should be required to declare their conflicts of interest, with well enforced penalties for those who failed to do so.6

As Cohen and Carter report, WHO subsequently published in 2003 new rules on managing conflicts of interest. These recommended that people with a conflict of interest should not be involved in the part of the discussion or the piece of work affected by that interest or, in certain circumstances, that they should not participate in the relevant discussion or work at all.7 WHO seems not to have followed its own rules for the decision making around the pandemic.

WHO will not be the only body to come under scrutiny for its handling of the pandemic. The coming months will see a spate of reports, from the European Commission, the European Parliament, and from national bodies including the French Senate, and the UK’s Cabinet Office. This soul searching takes place against a backdrop of hardening attitudes to conflicts of interest around the world. Last year’s report from the Institute of Medicine8 has been followed by new guidance from groups such as the World Association of Medical Editors9 and the American College of Chest Physicians,10 which stress that declaration alone is no longer enough. To quote the Institute of Medicine report, "Disclosure is the essential though limited first step in identifying and responding to conflicts of interest." The big question is what to do about the conflicts.

On the basis of our own investigation and those of others, the answer is now inescapable. As Barbara Mintzes says in Cohen and Carter’s report, "No one should be on a committee developing guidelines if they have links to companies that either produce a product—vaccine or drug—or a medical device or test for a disease." The same, and more, must apply to committees making major decisions on public health. Where entirely independent experts are hard to find, experts who are involved with industry could be consulted but should be excluded from decision making. The United States has made important progress with its Sunshine Act and other legislation. European legislation on managing conflicts of interest is long overdue.

As for WHO, its credibility has been badly damaged. Recovery will be fastest if it publishes its own report without delay or defensive comment; makes public the membership and conflicts of interest of its emergency committee; and develops, commits to, and monitors stricter rules of engagement with industry that keep commercial influence away from its decision making.

In a briefing at the end of last year, a spokesperson for WHO said, "Given the discrepancy between what was expected [from the pandemic] and what has happened, a search for ulterior motives on the part of WHO and its scientific advisors is understandable, though without justification."11 The implication is that, had there been a huge death toll, the process behind WHO’s decision making would not have been subject to such scrutiny. This is almost certainly true. But it does not mean that we are wrong to ask hard questions. Neither does it make the answers we have found any less troubling. And nor does it remove from WHO the urgent need to restore its credibility and public trust before the next pandemic comes along.

Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c2947

Conflicts of interest and pandemic flu — Godlee 340: c2947 — BMJ

Totty on the tick, or should it be on the sick?

Michael Winning

Dr Gabb, our resident armchair sexual-psychoanalyst and observer of what they bloody bureaucrats gets up to with your moneys while your back is turned, commented here I expect about what I’m going to talk about. Here’s another link to the story, which has broken in 2 or 3 places today. Look, I’m sure it’s not nice to be disabled, or we’re supposed these days to say @differently-abled@ aren’t we, but if an ordinary old thug can’t claim his visits to the local brothel off his rates, then why should the diabled be able (sorry) to?

And it looks like Legiron got to the story before we did. He called it Free Sex for cripples, not sure we’d get away with that here, but he’s Scottihs I think!

Some chappy called Liz something or other said that “sexual relations and gratification is a basic human right”…try telling that to Gulag inmates.

Our Electro-Junk Ends Here

Good luck to them if they can earn some cash from all this.

Sex on the Rates – Good News for All of Us!

Sean Gabb, Speech in Bratislava on Ideological Hegemony

Biodiversity – the ultimate PC word

Michael Winning

Saw this over at The Englishman’s Castle just now and had to share it. “Biodiversity” now has an index which Alevel pupils have to calculate in questions. Go here:

and youll find this bit

Tony Blair to Expose Himself to the Serfs

The former Prime Minister, Tony Blair, will be signing copies of ‘A Journey’ at Waterstone’s Piccadilly on Wednesday 8th September at 1pm

Dinner with Friends Last Monday

Sean Gabb

And I was able to stand in solitary contemplation before this memorial to the greatest man who ever lived.

It’s very interesting…

David Davis

…how this always manages to happen when millions of mostly private-sector workers want to go away. Your memories have to be as long as mine.

I direct you to my Facebook page where I comment on this more explosively:-!/profile.php?id=662052517&v=wall&story_fbid=150253034988714&ref=mf

Yet more Guardian crap

David Davis

Seen over at Samizdata just now, very funny.

Not performing, not science, not interested

David Davis

Apologies for absence. Gordon Brown ran out of everyone’s money and so one has to scrape around for things to do and stuff to sell. All very tedious. But today I spotted this. The reason primary school children in Britain are doing poorly at what is laughingly called “science” is that it’s not science as we know it, but AGW indoctrination coupled with something called “healthy eating” and “staying healthy”.

This pointless, green, self-regarding twaddle carries on until the end of Year 9 in secondary schools, by which time the interest in anything called “science” has dried up and gone. It doesn’t get much better at GCSE in year 10 and 11.

The only conclusion you can draw from this disaster is as follws:  that, since it is so huge, has been going on for some years, and runs in all state schools and even some others, and nothing has been done to stop it, is that it’s deliberate.

Here’s one for you to try:-

Arrested? Shot on Sight, More Like….

Blair must be arrested

John Pilger

Published 04 August 2010

Having helped destroy other nations far away, our former prime minister — “peace envoy” to the Middle East — is now free to profit from the useful contacts he made while working as a “servant of the people”.

Evil Pigs Go on Rampage in Wales

Sean Gabb

Deputy Chief Constable Carmel Napier said: “We expect the highest professional standards of its police officers and staff at all times and we can assure Mr Whatley and the public that this matter will be thoroughly investigated.”

Worthless Pigs Lose Tiger Sex Case

Sean Gabb

If it has money to spend on mounting prosecutions this bizarre and malicious, the Crown Prosecution Service is surely overfunded and in need of a few cuts.

“Blood of Alexandria” – a review by Michael Winning

Michael Winning

Went to Waterstomes in someplace, Manchester traffod Centre I think, it wasn’t in a town anyways, lots of car parks and derelict factory hards, all about. New hotels too, all empty. Which is always a bad sign about a place. you know of what I speak.

Bought a copy of “Blood of Alexandria” by some bloke called Richard Blake. I’ve read his earier stuff, Conspiracies of Rome, and The Terror of Constantinople.

One thing I can tell you about this book: it’s different, very different in sublte ways from the first two published works by Blake. Blake’s first two books were bloody violent, laced with naughty sex, graphic and in some ways horrifying.  Now then. Although full of suspense, redolent of the barbarism of the Dark Ages, and yet capturing the residual might of the Eastern Roman Empire which is really what’s left of the earlier Greek one, this new book is FUNNY too.I am about two thrids through it now, and I have to prevent myself gauffawing out loud in bed, in front of my women. They lean over to see what I read, but they’d better not. It’s fairly nasty too, in the details, but it’s more subtle.  But you got to expect that from this Balke guy, as you know the form.

Blake has managed to inject that just right level of comedy into this story. there are some really funny characters this time, Blake has now astered the art of drawing a good pen-picture of a fellow. Then, there are the really funny pompous ones but I shan’t tell you who they are, you will have to see. Then, there are funny objects but I snahant tell you about those either, it would spoil the fun. Just think of urine and, and that stuff, and what I’d call s sort of satire on the iconography of organised medieval religion.

Bloody great change from pig farming, any road.

Tim Starr has been sighted on this Blog

Sean Gabb

After several years of inactivity, Tim Starr has recommenced issuing gusts of hot air.

Followers of Tim in the Libertarian Alliance Yahoo Forum may recall his endorsement of every WMD claim and and of every British Moslem terror plot going. They may also recall his frenzied endorsement of the failed wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – even his claim that Iraq was benefiting from the explosive growth of a laissez faire economy, and that the war and occupation could be made to pay for themselves by looting the Iraqi oil reserves.

Now he is back.

As part of my welcome, let me republish two brief odes composed a few years back to my dearest Timmy. Since his own collected writings might fill a half dozen quarto pages, it is possible that these humble lines will, after a hundred years, be all the memorial that he has.

A Brief Ode on Timothy Starr,
Whose Passion for Fighting
The Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
was Limited only by His Failure
to Volunteer for Service There

With lion heart and strong right arm,
Tim Starr would never flinch from harm,
But upright would his nation’s flag
In Baghdad and in Kabul wag.
But wicked lungs! Cruel to deny
Tim’s right to join and fight and die.
And so, disabled, from his bed
Must Timmy moderate instead
A distribution list that will
Prompt fitter men to bleed or kill.

An Ode to Timothy Starr,
A Libertarian Who Supported the War with Iraq

That I, unmurdered in my bed,
And Mrs Gabb, unravished,
May count forever on the care
Of Mr Bush and Tony Blair,
Let us give praise to him whose eyes
Have spied for truth among the lies.
Timothy Starr, to thee I sing -
Whose name shall through all ages ring
For statements based on evidence,
If not perhaps on common sense.
Thou from the first wast quite assured
Mesopotamia’s tyrant lord
Had — God knows how, though without right -
Weapons of vast and horrid might,
To use against us in attack,
Or hand around outside Iraq.
Yes, others doubted; others sneered;
Others maintain that none appeared.
But thou, O Timmy, didst cheer on
Those brave, brave men in Washington
To do their duty of defence
Regardless of intelligence.
So Iraq we liberated,
While Dick Cheney’s partners waited,
And children there did we compel
To arms or sorrows bid farewell.
Some their monument seek in stone:
Be thine in Baghdad blood and bone.
If it decay, as must all flesh,
There will be minds to keep it fresh.
Therefore, indebted for the care
So lavished from thine office chair,
These verses on our happy state
To thee, O Tim, I dedicate.

Sean Gabb: In Defence of the British Empire

Free Life Commentary,
A Personal View from
The Director of the Libertarian Alliance
Issue Number 196
3rd August 2010

In Defence of the British Empire
By Sean Gabb

On Friday the 29th July 2010, I saw a BBC report of David Cameron’s tour of India. Several Indians, it seems, had demanded the return of the Koh-i-Noor Diamond. This has been property of the British Crown for the past century and a half, and now forms part of the Crown Jewels. To say that the inconvenience and humiliation of breaking up the Crown Jewels had not crossed the minds of those making the demand is to credit them with too little intelligence. The Diamond itself, we can have no doubt, was worth far less to these people than the joy of having humiliated their former masters. This was confirmed within the report by some relative of the famous Gandhi, who urged return of the Diamond as an act of “atonement” for our imperial past.

Mr Cameron, I am glad to say, refused the demand. His refusal, however, was less firm than it should have been. He merely observed that return of the Diamond would set an unwelcome precedent. And so, having nothing more enjoyable to do with the five minutes of my time it took, I made my own response on the Libertarian Alliance Blog. It went thus:

Gross Indian Ingratitude
by Sean Gabb

“So the Indian ruling class is asking for the Koh-i-Noor Diamond to be shipped off to them.

“Some flatulent grandson of Gandhi is demanding the diamond as some kind of “atonement“.

“Atonement for what? I ask.

“I think the world would be a much better place if the wretched Gandhi had drunk a bad pint of his own urine c1910. But since he didn’t, the Indians might at least have the grace to thank us for having saved them from the barbarism in which we found them. But for us, they’d still be burning widows, and the country districts would still be swarming with Thugees. Thanks to us, they now have a space programme.

“Yes, rather than asking for one diamond back, they should be grubbing about to see if they can find another one to send over. And, while doing that, they could put all those statues back up of Queen Victoria, and set up a few new ones of T.B. Macaulay.”

Sadly, this posting has unaccountably vanished from the LA Blog, taking with it all the comments. But it provoked a firestorm of debate that has continued to burn on one of the supplemental postings that did survive. I drove several Indians into a frenzy, and got a stern ticking off from various self-appointed “libertarian purists”. In a private message to some of my friends, one of the Indians accused me of cowardice and dishonesty. Another of them, one Sudha Amit, has decided for the moment to call me an “imperialist racist pig” in the comment section of every other posting I make to the LA Blog. Since I presently have limited access to the Internet, I shall not see until tomorrow what the effect has been of calling her a “silly little woman”. If she has responded with better sense than I expect, I will confine myself to sneering at her bad English until she goes away.

I suppose I could have made my comment a little less bluntly. But I stand wholly by its substance.  I feel no shame whatever about my country’s imperial past. I am even rather proud of it. Indeed, I really do think that the inhabitants of those places lucky enough to have been conquered by England should display a little more gratitude than is currently the fashion. If they cannot do this, they should at least stop whining about it.

But, dear me – here I go again! Never mind my poor Indian readers, I can almost hear the muscles tighten in the faces of my “libertarian purist” critics. And so, rather than go into the details of why I feel so pleased to have been born an Englishman, I will explain how, as a libertarian, I can possibly think well of an institution so essentially statist as the British Empire.

There are two points of view from which the Empire should be regarded – that of the English and that of everyone else. I will begin with the English. For us – I am not, by the way, discussing the colonies of white settlement – the Empire was a mistake that ultimately destroyed us. This is particularly the case with India. There were Englishmen who gained from the conquest of India. But these were a small minority. They were shareholders in the East India Company, and politicians who took bribes from the Company, and various members of the ruling elite who found wider opportunities for employment as soldiers and administrators than would otherwise have existed in a liberal state. For the rest of us, India was a waste of our national effort. It was not a place to settle. It was less important as a trading and investment partner than the United States. Together with Burma and the East Indies, that control of India enabled us to conquer, the Raj brought us into disputes with Russia and Japan that led directly or indirectly to both great wars of the twentieth century.

I might add to this the corrupting effect that governing India had on the British ruling class. This was not so extreme as the effect that empire had on the Roman aristocracy. Even so, I think much of the paternalism one sees in British government after about 1870 was inspired by the example of despotic control over several hundred million Indians. Or I might add further unanticipated effects on England of our association with India and the other non-white colonies – Iam pridem Syrus in Tiberim defluxit Orontes, etc. But this takes us away from the present argument.

Therefore, as a libertarian who looks at it from the English point of view, I can see nothing good in our conquest of India. It raised our taxes above what they would otherwise have been. It raised up wealthy special interest groups that were not particularly liberal. It involved us in otherwise unnecessary – even unimaginable – overseas entanglements. Had I been alive and writing in the nineteenth century, I would have been on the extreme radical wing of the Liberal Party, arguing for an immediate departure from India.

But this is the case only when I look at things from the English point of view. When I look at them from the Indian point of view, they appear wholly different. By liberal English standards, India was barbarous or, at best, semi-barbarous. It was a jolly enough place to live for those with money and power – and I can understand why many of its early English rulers went native. But for everyone else – that is, about ninety nine point nine something of the people of India – it was a hellish place. It was a place of rigid caste boundaries, of destructively rapacious landlords and tax collectors, of extreme and arbitrary injustice, of suttee and thuggee, of forced castration and forced prostitution, of outright slavery.

Until the death of Aurangzebe in 1707, India was at least reasonably united and reasonably at peace. After 1707, however, it fell into a growing chaos – a chaos that impacted most on those at the bottom – that was only terminated by the rise of the East India Company.

India never knew the really lunatic parasitism shown in Mel Gibson’s film Apocalypto. But it was, before the English conquest, similar in many respects to our own ancient world. These similarities, though, extended only to the evils of antiquity. India had no equivalent of those arts and sciences that redeem the ancients and that have made the study of their civilisation so enduringly profitable. When, in the 1830s, he looked at what sort of popular education the East India Company should encourage, Macaulay saw no alternative to an entirely English curriculum. He was advised that the vernacular languages were, as they then stood, deficient as vehicles of instruction. He was willing to accept that the classical languages of Arabic and Sanscrit might be respectable in themselves, but had nothing but contempt for the “wisdom” their literatures offered to the Indian mind. This “wisdom” was made up of

“medical doctrines which would disgrace an English farrier, astronomy which would move laughter in girls at an English boarding school, history abounding with kings thirty feet high and reigns thirty thousand years long, and geography made of seas of treacle and seas of butter. ”

It would be far better, he said, to let the Indians learn English and become as English in their thinking and outlook as their circumstances allowed. And, so far as circumstances allowed, it was English and English ways that, during the century that followed, were given to the Indians. They were given English science and administration. They were given a rational and human penal code based on English principles. They got due process of law and trial by jury and freedom of religion and the press. Slavery and sacrificial murder were put down.

That all this was given at gunpoint is no valid objection. Let us, for the sake of argument, accept that all states are evil. It does not follow that all states are equally evil. It may not be to the benefit of one nation to conquer another. But it will be to the benefit of one nation to be conquered by another when the state directing that conquest is more liberal. The English State was more liberal than any Indian alternative, and so the result of conquest was beneficial to all those classes of Indians outside the ruling elites. The main use of English power in India was to stop the Indians from being quite so beastly to each other as they would have been left to their own ways. The whining of some modern Indians about “colonialism” and “oppression” tries but cannot obscure this fact.

Nor is it valid to cry up the examples of real brutality by the English in India – for example, the blowing apart of Sepoys after suppression of the Mutiny. Though it is never right, it is the nature of the strong to tyrannise over the weak. There is nothing unusual about English brutality. It is regrettable, but common to all powerful nations. What is notable about English rule of India is its settled benevolence. And I suspect this is what so outrages the modern Hindu nationalist. If we had behaved in India as the Belgians had in the Congo, he might actually think better of us today. Atrocities are more easily forgiven than benevolence from a position of overwhelming physical and moral superiority.

There is one point in my original blog posting that I might withdraw. This is my suggestion that the Indians should put back up all their statues of Queen Victoria. On the one hand, she was their lawfully-proclaimed and accepted Empress. On the other, she was a foreigner. And, while they might have learned a few more English ways than they did, the Indians have had all the English lessons they really needed to become a fairly respectable people. They are no more obliged to set up statues of Queen Victoria than they are not to change the names of cities like Calcutta and Bombay and Madras to whatever they please in their own languages – so long, that is, as they do not come scowling to me or mine to change our own usages.

As for Macaulay, he needs no statues in England or in India. His writings are the only memorial he requires.

Let me pass now to some of the specific objections to my case that I feel are in need of separate answers. The first is the emphasis that one of my Indian critics placed on the Bengal famine of 1943 – as if this was somehow an indictment on English rule. It might be an indictment if there had never before been Indian famines. But to claim this would be manifest nonsense. Famine has haunted India since time out of mind. The reason we know so little of it before English rule is that the native chroniclers of India were always more interested in reporting court intrigues than the condition of the people. But take this by Fernand Braudel:

“The cataclysms were often irremediable, such as the terrible and almost general famine in India in 1630-1. A Dutch merchant left an appalling description of it: ‘People wandered hither and thither,’ he wrote, ‘helpless, having abandoned their towns or villages. Their condition could be recognised immediately: sunken eyes, wan faces, lips flecked with foam, lower jaw projecting, bones protruding through skin, stomach hanging like an empty sack, some of them howling with hunger, begging alms.’ The customary drama ensued: wives and children abandoned, children sold by parents, who either abandoned them or sold themselves in order to survive, collective suicides…. Then came the stage when the starving split open the stomachs of the dead or dying to ‘eat their entrails’. ‘Hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people died,’ the merchant continued, ‘to the point where the country was entirely covered with corpses which stayed unburied, and such a stink arose that the air was filled with it and pestilential.’” [Capitalism and Material Life, 1400-1800, Harper & Row, New York, 1975, p.41]

The problem with India under English rule was that every improvement in circumstances was attended by an increase in numbers among the lowest classes. Because these Indians would consider no limits to their own fecundity, they faced the same Malthusian checks in 1943 as in 1630. Those Indians who blame England for this are as pitiable as the Irish who blame England for the blight that killed so many of their potatoes in 1845.

Second, there is the claim by Kevin Carson – made on the Libertarian Alliance discussion forum – that European colonial rule damaged native civil society, and made it inevitable that these countries, once independent, should fall under kleptocratic rule. He says:

“I’m afraid I agree with Burke rather than the “liberal” imperialists. One might have said similar things of England ca. 1214 or so. But the constitutional framework of liberal democratic Britain was gradually built, over centuries, from that crooked timber. I think Third World countries are overrun with kleptocracies is, in part, because their civil societies were so nearly liquidated by “progressive” foreign powers, leaving a vacuum when those powers withdrew. Gandhi’s movement was as much a reformist movement against the most barbarous aspects of authoritarian Hinduism, including the caste system and the burning of widows, as it was against British rule. The contest for power in post-independence Indian national politics, conducted by people like Nehru, detracted from what was most valuable in Gandhi’s thought: the promotion of a decentralized, federal, village-based anarchism.”

Now, I do have the greatest respect for Mr Carson. Nevertheless, I am not at all persuaded by this claim. Outside Europe, and those parts of the world settled from Europe, there has never been anything worth calling civil society. This is true of those places that were only lightly colonised – Ethiopia, for example – or that early threw out their colonial masters – that is, Haiti. India may not be so stark an instance as China – where no room for stable association has ever existed between the family and the State. But I do not see, when I survey what little we know of Indian history before the English conquest, any of those associations that, in Europe, repeatedly checked, and even partly humanised, the rule of the parasitic classes. The only difference between pre-colonial and post-colonial governments, in India and in the much less fortunate Africa, is that the latter have modern technology to assist their oppressions – but also the often fading impression of English ways to limit their oppressions.

To say that, but for western conquest, most of Asia and Africa today would have strong and vibrant civil societies, in which individuals were protected by mutual guarantees from misgovernment and the misfortunes of life, is a romantic fiction. More realistically, the only time in their histories that most parts of Asia and Africa were not governed tyrannically was when they were governed despotically from Europe.

I come now to the repeated accusation of all my Indian critics that I am not a “real” libertarian. Since libertarianism – unlike Roman Catholicism or Islam or Orthodox Marxist-Leninism – has no core texts and fixed catechisms, I could ignore these accusations. However, those making them have annoyed me by their bitterness and often by their private correspondence with third parties, and therefore deserve some attention. So let us look at the specific claims.

They all claim that nations do not really exist, and that to speak of them is to engage in “group-think”. There are only individuals, they say, and no true libertarian ever talks of other than individual interests. According to one Abhilash Nambiar, “What does such terms mean anyway? “Interests of England”, “interests of those subjected to British rule” etc., Nations do not have interests, people do. What is called national interests are merely meaning that people attach to interests as expressed by certain persons who where at certain position during certain times.” He adds: “Sean you need to shake off your collectivist mentality and apply methodological individualism when performing your analysis”. He further adds: “You cannot have your two feet in two boats. Sooner or later you will have to choose. Libertarianism and nationalism is as compatible as oil and water.” Again, he says: “The environment [in America] is more receptive to libertarianism. Here I see conservatives wearing different clothes. I do not expect things to change in England any time soon tough. The English won’t imitate the Americans even if their life depended on it.”

According to one Jayant Bhandari, “Dr Gabb has now himself taken the path of bigotry and irrationality.”

Of course, only individuals exist in the tangible sense. And there is no doubt that much social science is improved so far as it studies individuals as opposed to reifications. However, the idea that nations do not in any sense exist strikes me as ludicrous. It might as easily be said that my family does not exist – but that we should instead speak only of individuals with names like Sean, Andrea and Philippa. And I do not think that von Mises, or any of the other most eminent economists of the Austrian School, has ever denied the existence – and even the importance – of national groupings as reasonably conceived. Nations are communities based on perceived commonality of blood, or on language or religion, or on some other unifying cause or combination of causes. Certainly, so far as individuals believe in them, and so far as individuals are willing to act on their belief, nations must be taken into account.

My Indian critics are united in denouncing me for my supposed lapses from methodological individualism. But I really wonder how committed they themselves are to methodological individualism. Some years ago, I wrote an essay on the Elgin Marbles, in which I sprayed vicious abuse all over the Greeks. Every few months, I take it into my head to say very hateful things about the Americans. Yet my Indian critics only thought to turn up and start preaching at me when I was less than flattering about the Indians.

Notice, moreover, how Mr Nambiar, as quoted above, passes pretty fast from telling me to shake off my “collective mentality” to showing one of his own: “The English won’t imitate the Americans,“ he says, ascribing one characteristic to about fifty million people, “even if their life depended on it.”

I would never dream of denouncing my Indian critics for arguing in bad faith. That would – on the basis, at least, of what information I have on them – be a most wicked accusation to make. Even so, is it not possible that, even as they try to lecture me on my own alleged shortcomings, they are unconsciously motivated by a Hindu nationalism as ardent as my English nationalism? As said, I make no allegations of bad faith. I only ask what I feel to be a reasonable question.

In closing, I will pass to the accusation of inconsistency that Sudha Amit made against me when she noticed that I was opposed to the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. She says:

“Lol, Why are you so inconsistent?

“Don’t you believe that the Tony/Brown Junta is doing great things to Afghanistan the same way EIC did to India for which you want every Indian to e grateful to you?

“You need to be consistent, otherwise change the blog’s name to Musings of an imperialist racist pig with some fits of Libertarianism”

I have little respect for Miss Amit’s reasoning faculties. But I will answer her question.

I was against invading Iraq and Afghanistan because these wars involved killing large numbers of civilians without what I saw as good reason. Though I do not regard wars and their incidental atrocities as absolutely illegitimate, I do require the projectors of a war to show reasonable grounds that it is defensive and that some regard will be paid to the lives and properties of civilians. Alternatively, as argued above, I am willing to accept the outcome of a war when it can be shown that there has been some compensating advantage to the people of the losing side. I would never insist that the English conquest of India was achieved without bloodshed. But the restoration of India to internal peace following the conquest led to an overall economy of bloodshed. And English rule was to the advantage of the great majority of Indians.

There has been no economy of bloodshed in either Iraq or Afghanistan, nor is there likely to be. And no one with a straight face can possibly claim that the conquests were in any sense to the long term advantage of the conquered. These were looting expeditions, bought by a coalition of corporate and other interest groups, in which the interests of both conquerors and conquered were of zero importance.

Now, if this is not all that I can say on the relationship between England and India, it is certainly all that I will say. I have no doubt that my various critics will let up one great wail of horror at what I have just said. But that is their concern – and they must let up their wail without any hope of further comment from me.

NB—Sean Gabb’s book, Cultural Revolution, Culture War: How Conservatives Lost England, and How to Get It Back, can be downloaded for free from

Every Minister in the Blair-Brown Junto Should be Hanged for Treason and Crimes against Humanity

by Sean Gabb

I don´t know why I hate these people more – their manifold treasons against us, or their cynical murder of hundreds of thousands in kossovo, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Since it is illegal for me to wish good luck to any suicide bomber in his hunt for Tony Blair, I can only hope that he lives long enough for a revolution in this country to let him be fairly tried for his crimes, and then hanged beside Marble Arch.

Where is My Troll on the Koh-i-Noor Diamond?

Sean Gabb

Can anyone else find it? One moment, I was gloating over all the trouble I had stirred up, the next, and it was all gone. Perhaps this is just a defect of the browser I am using. Even so, I am disturbed. It means I shall have to think of something else to say that is offensive. Perhaps I should have another go at the Americans…..