Spiked: Falsely Claiming to Oppose the Race Relations Industry


Spiked: Falsely Claiming to Oppose the Race Relations Industry
David Webb

Cultural Notes No. 57

An occasional publication of the Libertarian Alliance,
Suite 35, 2 Lansdowne Row, Mayfair, London, W1J 6HL.

ISBN 9781856376440

ISSN 0267-677X (print)
ISSN 2042-2539 (online)

© 2012: Libertarian Alliance, David Webb

David Webb studied Chinese and Russian at Leeds University, where he was involved in Marxist politics. He has since become a conservative writer, contributing to The Salisbury Review and Right Now!, and more recently contributing extensively to the Libertarian Alliance blog. He lived for four years in China (Tianjin, Kunming and Chengdu) and now writes freelance on Chinese politics and economics.

The views expressed in this publication are those of its author, and not necessarily those of the Libertarian Alliance, its Committee, Advisory Council or subscribers.

FOR LIFE, LIBERTY AND PROPERTY

Marxism and censorship

I am interested to see the views on the Stephen Lawrence case published on the Spiked website by Brendan O’Neill1 and Mick Hume.2  Before discussing those articles, I should explain why I have mixed feelings about Spiked and associated groups, including the Institute of Ideas.  My feelings with regards to them are mixed, but largely positive.  They are one of the few groups standing up for freedom from state control in an intelligent way, and we need all the allies we can get.  So I welcome their regularly updated website, http://www.spiked-online.com, which holds articles on an astonishing array of subjects.  One can with profit spend many hours on that website, and in a day when Internet browsing can easily become a bored surfing from site to site, that cannot be said of many sites.

My mixed feelings relate to the fact that in an earlier incarnation I was a supporter of the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP), which published a well-argued and interesting magazine, Living Marxism, later LM, before having to close down as the result of a libel verdict pursued by ITN (the details of which are well worth examining; personally, I feel that LM was unlucky to have lost the case, but all such cases are rather unfairly adjudicated).  The decision that the objective circumstances for revolutionary politics did not exist in Britain (apologies to LM or anyone else if I have poorly remembered the reasons for the closure of the party in 1997) showed this group was rather unusual in being able to “think outside the left-wing box” and draw interesting conclusions from the changes in the world in the early 1990s.  Following the final closure of  LM magazine in 2000, the online magazine Spiked was set up, giving the  group a new platform for their views, and in the years since then Spiked has gained something of a reputation for libertarianism.

Despite its opposition to the bourgeois state, freedom from the state is not a logical consequence of Marxist thought.  I remember one of the members of the RCP arguing that “after the revolution”, all sorts of censorship and repression would be used to reorient social discussion and close down opposition.  Lenin himself was unabashed about the use of state power.  And yet for around two decades, the people who are now grouped (very loosely) around Spiked have argued against mindless calls to give “no platform” to anyone who could be painted as “Fascist and Racist” (Fascist with a capital F and Racist with capital R because these are contentless labels), partly because such calls allow the authorities to direct social discussion, and if they bar one group’s political ideas, then they can bar another’s.  They also appear to believe that the “Racists and Fascists” hold viewpoints that are scarcely credible and easily defeated in the full glare of argument, and so there is little to be gained from not thrashing out ideas; indeed, the failure to do so can allow non-progressive assumptions to reign unchallenged.

From a people to a population

There is some confusion in Spiked’s ideas: their assumption seems to be that it is possible to argue for immigration and anti-racism without enforcement by the state or other official bodies exercising a censorship over self-expression on the subject.  In fact, state intervention is crucial to the project.  To create a society with no common culture, where groups are enabled to replicate their ancestral cultures and carry on as if they were not in England; to create a society where violent crime by immigrant groups may not be openly discussed; and to insist that no ethnic group has a prior claim to the country: all this requires state repression.  I lived for four years of my life in China, but it never occurred to me to claim that China does not belong to the Chinese, or that all human beings have an equal claim to every square inch of the earth, regardless of the achievements of long-standing settled societies there.  To do so would be to express racial prejudice in fact – to deny others the right to claim their sods of earth and to create societies in their territories that reflect their cultures.

Of course, Spiked would claim that it does not support the politics of identity, and that it stands for humanism, rather than narrow nationalism.  However, this is either a coy support for the dispossession of the English nation, or it is a nonsense trussed up as theory.  No one can love the whole of Humanity (capital H required here too) equally.  The Human Race is just an abstraction, or, to use the terminology of the far left, it is a social construct.  If nations are imagined communities, based on real cultural connections and allegiances, then how much more illusory is the imagined Human Race?  What unites the Human Race?  Simply that we all have two legs?  If our cultures are distinct, then a common identity across the Human Race has to be a thin thing indeed, as many have noticed with the multiculturalism promoted by bureaucracies in the West.  “Humanity” has too much of a whiff of synthetic and sanctimonious piety about it.  Even those who claim to support Humanity could not feasibly warm to all human societies.  Place Mick Hume or Brendan O’Neill next to a barbaric “female circumcision” ceremony in Somalia, and they might find it within themselves to object to Somali culture (and thus, logically, given that cultures are the values of the people that adhere to them, to Somali people themselves).

It is, of course, likely that there is no way back to a society united on the basis of England’s traditional identity, but that is a problem that in itself stands in the way of freedom in England today.  Reduced from a people to a mere population, there is nothing that unites England today, other than our exposure to intervention by the same bureaucratic machine.  Where there is no society, the state grows to assume a dominant role, arguing that social fragmentation forces it to intervene to regulate the fragmented lower orders.  No one should suppose that a loss of a country’s identity is the natural consequence of a globalised world.  Hong Kong is one of the most globalised economies in the world: Hong Kong has strong trade and investment ties with all other economies; people from all over the world work in Hong Kong; and people from all over the world visit Hong Kong, a free port, without the inconvenience of having to apply for visas.  And yet Hong Kong remains 97% Chinese.  Maybe it is because Hong Kong does not promote multiculturalism, requires overseas workers to be highly skilled and does not allow the entire Indian subcontinent to apply for welfare upon arrival in the territory.  Ditto for Japan, China, Taiwan, South Korea, etc.

The decision to become a multi-ethnic society is a policy choice, and it is one that Spiked supports.  They have the society they always dreamed of: the right has been vanquished; the demographic realities on the ground have been totally altered; and those opposed to these developments have no voice, and indeed are subject to prosecution where they speak out!  What is there not to like for the likes of Spiked?  Apparently, official anti-racism has become a moral crusade that has taken the place of what Spiked sees as the erstwhile official promotion of racism, amounting to a new form of class prejudice, the despising of the Racism of the lower orders.  According to this analysis, we seem to have successfully moved the cultural basis of the Establishment’s rule on to new territory, but this time the role of democracy, free speech and freedom of expression seems to have been excised.  A technocratic society has little need for popular participation.

Racism and power

Mick Hume explains that his earlier opposition to Racism was directed towards the ‘official’ kind, that racial prejudice was used to back up the rule of the British capitalist class in order to create ideological support to ‘cohere’ society under the rule of the powers-that-be.  Hence, the reinvention of Racism as a viewpoint found only in the lower classes is a perversion of his concept: anti-racism was meant to weaken the hold of the authorities over society, not strengthen it.  Brendan O’Neill echoes this viewpoint, claiming the authorities want to “redefine racism as a disease of the brain rather than as a relation of power”.

There is so much wrong with this, it is difficult to know where to begin.  The assertion that Racism is a “relation of power” is pure Marxist rhetoric; without this assertion, the Spiked viewpoint would disintegrate.  Neither of the Spiked writers stop to examine whether support for the society around you is actually ‘racism’ (a word I can only understand as “hatred of those of other races”) or a healthy phenomenon implying no hatred for others, and akin to the average person’s support for his family’s interests over those of strangers.  Neither of them shows that Racism has its origin in an earlier period of promotion of the ideology by the British ruling class.

First, you would need to go back a long while to find a period when the state promoted racism, if it ever did.  True, Britain was an imperial power, and the logic of imperial rule was in the inequality of the governed races, not in their supposed equality despite the disparity in their social, economic and cultural achievements.  It was probably true that in the 19th century, imperial rule did give a sense of pride to lower-class Britons.  But the state was so small – at times accounting for just 7% of GDP in the late 19th century – that you would be hard-pressed to show that the British state worked overtime to promote prejudice against the subject imperial nations among the lower orders.  The working class had little interaction with the state in those days.  There was no TV and no BBC, and while treason and sedition were crimes on the statute books (as they remain today), there was no attempt to officially enforce racialist views.  Race was in fact an abstract category when England was more than 99% European in terms of its population.  We are meant to believe that the British state was frenetically promoting prejudice against people in far-off countries who most English people would never come across.  A more logical view is that pride in the British Empire was derived from its fact, the fact that a small dot in the North Atlantic had conquered one-quarter of the world, a feat that it could not have accomplished had Britain not been centuries ahead of the developing countries.

In the early 20th century, Antonio Gramsci argued that all societies have ruling elites and that all societies have cultures that prop up the rule of their elites.  No ruling class can rule by a monopoly of violence alone, he argued, but by cultural hegemony, which induces society as a whole to support the elite’s rule.  These ideas were not new, being broadly in line with the ideas of Niccolò Macchiavelli in The Prince.  However, it is one thing to show that an elite obtains social acceptance of its rule by supporting, or feigning support for, the society’s culture – and quite another to show that that culture is created out of whole cloth in order to induce support for minority class rule.  Historically, no society before Soviet Communism was able to develop the propaganda resources and means of social control to create a truly unfree state.  Only in the modern period do you have states large enough to be able (as with multiculturalism in Britain today) to seek to reinvent society.  If elites ruled by virtue of their support for the society around them, that represented the natural evolution of a society with cultural connections internally.

Patriotism and society

You have to presume that there is an essential antagonism in class society – a precept of Marxist dogma – before you begin to explore how a society creates compliance with the rule of an elite.  Yet there is a fundamental distinction between a society with hardly anything in the way of a state structure – late 19th century England – where some people were rich, and a society where the state accounts for half of the entire economy, and the state bureaucracy is in itself a key means for personal self-advancement for a parasitical minority.  The 19th century bourgeoisie – an economic elite whose position in society derived from their entrepreneurialism and not from their political propaganda – did not cast around in an artificial way for cultural theories with which to “cohere” society.  People made their own luck, in a society with considerable social mobility and no means for government promotion of “opportunity for all”.  While strikes and labour unrest among the disadvantaged were of concern to the government, the ultimate tendency of capitalism was to raise average living standards.  The advent of democracy aimed to give all Britons a stake in society, and as revolutionaries such as Gramsci found out internal cultural connections in most European countries made violent revolutions rare and unlikely events.

Patriotism, far from being a tool for the bourgeoisie to dominate society in its own interests, was a means whereby society kept a hold on its rulers.  Demands for social reform were a demand for patriotism among the ruling elite.  If we consider how the White Australia policy was supported by generations of workers in Australia, we can see that patriotism sought to keep the rulers operating in the interests of society as a whole, rather than bringing cheap labour to undercut the working man and divide society.  If we see today how our rulers have abandoned support for our society, often encouraging immigration, rule by foreign bureaucracies and pointless adventures to “spread democracy”, it is clear that patriotism and other moral values used to be a binding force on the so-called bourgeoisie, and not a binding force to keep the lower orders in line.  Mick Hume explains:

Thirty years ago when I joined a group called Workers Against Racism, there was no sympathetic media coverage or mainstream political support for the Asian families being burnt out of housing estates or the black youth being routinely brutalised by the police.  The national debate was all about the scourge of ‘immigrant scroungers’ and black ‘muggers’.  Those who fought against racists were branded extremists, the flipside of the fascists.

This presentation requires heavy subtext.  The national debate was about immigrant scroungers, because immigrant scroungers were flooding in in large numbers, although it must be admitted that the numbers back then in the 1980s were a small fraction of the numbers that have been flooding in ever since.  The debate about black muggers reflected … (surprise, surprise) the high proportion of muggings by black youths.  Support for England’s being English was something that working men traditionally sought in their ruling classes, not because they were duped into not being internationalist by a ruling class that sought to divide up Humanity in order to rule us, but because a decent society needs to conduct its affairs on the basis of a recognition of common origin and common interests by the rulers and the ruled.  Where the rulers can allow the ingress of millions of unskilled labourers, they are showing as plain as they can that they are not accountable to their own lower orders.  They will keep the wages low, and there is nothing the workers can do about it.  And they will culturally divide the ruled in a way that allows for an industry in social propaganda to install itself in every workplace, school and even living room.

Immigration and propaganda

Immigration is not just about cheap labour, of course.  It is also a moral project.  Communism, atheism, the rise of the developing world – all these have weakened elite belief in the national cultures of Western societies.  Multiculturalism began to be implemented, not because patriotism no longer worked as a cohering value with which to con the workers, but because the Establishment no longer believed in society’s values.  As O’Neill says, “the Lawrence murder became a significant turning point in the way in which the white working classes were discussed and understood – and feared”, precisely because large swathes of the ‘white’ working class would still be interested in England’s being a nation-state, which is in turn because the elite’s project of multiculturalism runs directly contrary to the interests of the English working class (dubbed “white” by left-wing commentators, although the point is not that we are white, but that this is our country).  The workers have been brought along more sullenly into the multicultural paradise that increasing numbers of senior state personnel have sought to promote, until today, where the promotion of this cultural shift is now compulsory for all state bureaucrats.

Democracy becomes impossible where the political elite is united in a project to reform society demographically.  Much of social policy is off-limits to political debate.  Public broadcasting is used for the strong promotion of tendentious views.  As every single workplace, school and club of any type is now required to promote the multicultural agenda, people are strongly deterred from expressing themselves on cultural topics.  The elections still take place, but the content has been removed.  One example of the way in which politics is constrained is the prevention of social discussion of the ethnic involvement in crime.  It has become apparent that the police only exist in England today to promote the great experiment of creating a multi-ethnic society, and the suppression of crime is no longer really on their agenda.

Given that the immigration we have had to absorb has been to the detriment of the long-standing population, in terms of welfarism, crime, our subjection to constant propaganda and the ruthless excision of anything revealing England to have a culture (which would also reveal the English to be an ethnic group, and not just “white” people), it is unsurprising that at a slightly less extreme phase in the demographic shift there was a national debate about the scourge of immigrant scroungers and black muggers.  We have now moved on to the more advanced phase, where we cannot even discuss what is happening to our society.  The fact that the police were – in Mick Hume’s words – “brutalising black youths” merely shows that, back then, there was still some social pressure on the police to fish where the fish were, to prevent black crime from having a greater impact on the host community, whereas, by now, we are expected to have become accustomed to a decaying social fabric and hence to keep quiet.  Mick Hume’s article is devoid of any explanation as to why PC Blakelock’s killers roam free, while two men who are not proven to have had a connection to the killing of Stephen Lawrence are behind bars.

If Mick Hume is right that in the 1980s there was “deliberate, politicised and vitriolic racism, popularised from the top down and enforced by the state as a weapon to divide the working class and consolidate white support for the authorities”, it is only because white support was only available for the authorities when they showed themselves to be on the side of the existing community.  In fact, contrary to what Mick Hume claims, the government has long been opposed to the nationalism of the English working classes, and a firmer stance against black crime has long been coupled with policies to allow refugees and secondary immigrants to arrive in Britain unchecked in terms of numbers, at the same time that propaganda units in all state bodies to promote “anti-racism” were being set up.  Is Mick Hume unaware that so-called Racism had been outlawed under the Race Relations Act of 1965?  Back as far as 1965, before my birth, the state was already trying to force the population to accept a planned demographic change.  Those like Enoch Powell who claimed there might be three million people of New Commonwealth descent in Britain by the end of the 20th century were vocally condemned (by Mick Hume, along with the Establishment press) for Racism.  And yet the official figure is north of nine million today.3  How does Spiked explain this?

Mick Hume goes on:

What has happened over the past two decades is that Britain has undergone a major cultural shift as the old politics of nationalism and race have lost their grip on public consciousness.  This would have happened whether or not Stephen Lawrence had been murdered by racists.  Indeed, the fact that his killing remains the benchmark for racist violence 19 years on shows how rare such incidents have become.

It is difficult to deny that the younger generation are not captivated by what Hume claims was the “old politics of nationalism and race”, although support for the demographic change is more sullen and passive than Hume admits.  Hume does not tarry to investigate whether state propaganda of an almost blanket nature has driven acceptance of the state’s agenda.  Has he ever watched Eastenders or noted how most television programmes seem to be used as a vehicle for the state’s cultural messages today?  Marxists used to speak of “false consciousness”.  Well, is it not false consciousness for official figures to show the heavy and disproportionate ethnic involvement in crime, when the average English person instantly blurts out that it is not true when confronted with the facts?  Is it not false consciousness to force yourself not to notice that it is the English and English culture that are on the receiving end of prejudice in England today?  Many are afraid to think of inconvenient facts lest they end up thinking the wrong thoughts.  It is only an abuse of state power that can make an untruth stick.  It is true that many of the young are prepared to mouth the nostrums of multiculturalism, but it is not the case that an integrated new society, with a new common culture, has been created – which is what Hume needs to show in order to praise the “major cultural shift” that has happened.  If we were gradually creating a new culture that united society on a new basis, attempts to oppose it by conservatives would be quixotic.  But in the end all Hume shows is that the technocracy has had its way and created a society that requires constant state management of inter-cultural issues.

As Hume says, “racist” killings of ethnic-minority individuals are extraordinarily rare – and there is no reliable evidence that Stephen Lawrence was killed on account of his race.  Racially motivated killings of British people are considerably more frequent, but I do not think Spiked will be launching campaigns to publicise this.  Richard Everitt, Ross Parker, Kriss Donald, Gavin Hopley and others are among the unknown victims.  I personally would feel uncomfortable for English people to take up the victim mantle – as I think it is more appropriate for us to claim England as ours because we are English than to claim it because we are victims, but it is worth pointing out that there are many English victims of extreme racial prejudice whose names and cases are of no interest either to Spiked or to the Establishment press.

Hume continues:

The truth is that the less overtly racist British society has become in recent times, the more the authorities have started preaching about the evils of racism and launching new crusades against it.  What has altered most is the perception of racism.  Where once it was society’s guilty secret, now there is a concerted effort to trawl for and publicise any hint of racially incorrect language or behaviour from the school playground to the football pitch.  The less racism is in evidence, the more everything appears to have been racialised.

When Hume says that British society was “overtly racist”, he could just as easily have chosen to say that Britain was a free society, where free expression of the view that the authorities should not be trying to change the ethnic identity of the population was common.  That is not racism; that is the normal expression of solidarity with one’s society expressed by any normal person.  Even racially inflammatory comments and behaviour amount to merely an inchoate reaction to what is happening to our society, although genuine racial hatred is rare among the majority English community (and far from rare among the ethnic minorities, whose unjustified sense of grievance is officially fostered).  By tolerating everything culturally, we stand for nothing.  We are being asked to become cardboard cut-outs of people, with no views or loyalties, rather than people with genuine passions and adherences, along the lines of the becalmed population created by the authorities in the film Equilibrium.  In a free society, people are more than walking-and-talking tolerance machines: they have real views and express them, and it is this that Hume describes as “overt racism”.

Along with millions of other English people, I have no axe to grind against individual people of other ethnicities, as long as they remain in their own countries and are not trying to take over England.  It is absurd to claim that this expression of “ownership” of England is itself motivated by prejudice.  Does Mick Hume open his home as a hostel to all the homeless?  If not, is that because he is denying the equal worth of all human beings and expressing contempt towards them?  Is he violating his own expressed support for Humanity with a capital H?  Or is it simply because he needs his space as a human being to live the way he chooses to live and wishes others well to find their own spaces and ways of life without intruding on him?  The same principle applies to the nation.  People who come here – ideally, people who arrive here with strong democratic support for their arrival, which can only be obtained where a frank national discussion on the issue is permitted – should join our culture, not bring theirs with them.  Logically, they will recreate their cultures in England if their numbers reach critical mass, which means only a low number of immigrants can be easily integrated.

O’Neill says Racism has been “thoroughly reconceptualised, turned from an ideological thing into a kind of instinctive tick, from a tool of the powerful into a disease amongst the powerless”.  What about the “powerless” – among whom I have to number myself – who do not feel any “hatred” for people of other races, but for whom a nation-state is an ideological thing, because I want to live in a democracy and in a society that feels like a society where there is something in common between ruler and ruled?  In a society where instinctive support for the country and people around you is not penalised by the state?  Where the rulers also feel instinctive support for their own lower orders?  Where freedom of speech, expression and association are taken for granted?

Perhaps beaten, but never silent

Of course I realise that there is little likelihood of a reversal of the state’s cultural policies, which means that a divided society has been successfully created, apparently giving the technocracy a permanent role in society.  But the fact that what has been done will not be reversed does not mean we should surrender our right to freedom of expression on the subject for ever more.  I would like to see official promotion of  multiculturalism stop, all the discrimination tribunals closed down, and the ethnic minorities told they will no longer be allowed to be “more equal” in our society.  If the demographic change could be stabilised at current levels, with an end to the propaganda element and the constant negativity of the discussion of race and culture, I suppose many English people would see that as an improvement they could live with.  Ironically, if this happened and people felt free once again to voice their views on a range of racial and cultural issues, Spiked might find that support for multiculturalism had been more superficial than they had supposed, leading them to editorialise about an upsurge in Racism once again.

So while I rave over the majority of Spiked articles, I cannot do so over the ones on race and immigration that still try to promote the anti-racist agenda while claiming to oppose the moral crusade against the Racist ‘white’ working class.  The real reason Mick Hume and LM promoted the idea that Racism was a state-backed ideology to con the workers was because, as Marxists, they believed that the workers of all nations had more in common with each other than with their rulers.  Workers of the world, unite! and all that.  Yet Humanity is an abstraction, as proven by the failure of the international revolution to take place in the early 20th century.  A Humanist agenda with no plan for international revolution, as still plugged by Spiked, seems like a stance on race and immigration that has forgotten its original rationale.  Hume and O’Neill clearly back the state’s views on race and immigration, while posing as opponents of the way race has become a moral crusade against the workers.  And yet, without the state’s adoption and enforcement of this agenda, the cultural shift Spiked welcomes would not have happened.  Without state propaganda, the somewhat passive acquiescence of the young would not have happened either.  The only way that multiracialism could have been enforced is via the ideological interests of the ruling minority supported by an over-large state.  It’s called preventing democracy and preventing liberty, with a cast of hangers-on made up of moralising enthusiasts and advocates for cheap labour in tow: to support the technocratic agenda, but not the technocracy, is simply confused, and yet that is where Spiked is.

References

(1) Brendan O’Neill, ‘Lawrence verdict: this isn’t justice – it’s politics’, Spiked, 4th January 2012, retrieved 13th January 2012, http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php/site/article/11951/

(2) Mick Hume, ‘Official anti-racism: the new nationalism?’, Spiked, 5th January 2012, retrieved 13th January 2012, http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php/site/article/11947/

(3) Simon Rogers, ‘Non-white British population reaches 9.1 million’, Guardian, 19th May 2011, retrieved 13th January 2012, http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/may/18/non-white-british-population-ons

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23 responses to “Spiked: Falsely Claiming to Oppose the Race Relations Industry

  1. This seems a long way from libertarianism. David Webb’s objection to the Marxists at Spiked seems to be that they believe in too much freedom, such as open borders, or that they resist the atavism of The Nation. Why would a libertarian feel offended by the news that there are nine million non-white people in Britain?

  2. James,

    The key point is that liberty is only possible in a nation-state. John Stuart Mill was of this view (see http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/m/mill/john_stuart/m645r/chapter16.html), where he argued,

    “Free institutions are next to impossible in a country made up of different nationalities. Among a people without fellow-feeling, especially if they read and speak different languages, the united public opinion, necessary to the working of representative government, cannot exist. The influences which form opinions and decide political acts are different in the different sections of the country. An altogether different set of leaders have the confidence of one part of the country and of another. The same books, newspapers, pamphlets, speeches, do not reach them. One section does not know what opinions, or what instigations, are circulating in another. The same incidents, the same acts, the same system of government, affect them in different ways; and each fears more injury to itself from the other nationalities than from the common arbiter, the state. Their mutual antipathies are generally much stronger than jealousy of the government. That any one of them feels aggrieved by the policy of the common ruler is sufficient to determine another to support that policy. Even if all are aggrieved, none feel that they can rely on the others for fidelity in a joint resistance; the strength of none is sufficient to resist alone, and each may reasonably think that it consults its own advantage most by bidding for the favour of the government against the rest.”

    That whole chapter in Mill’s Representative Government is worth reading. I don’t have time to mine it for further quotes right now. Of course, libertarians don’t have to always agree with J S Mill, but it is worth pointing out that a culturally united society has always been seen by libertarians as the basic condition for liberty to flourish. I wrote in my article that it would be good if multiculturalism could be dropped, along with the unjustified sense of grievance being erroneously fostered in the ethnic minorities and the discrimination scam (suing for discrimination), but the fact is that once the ethnic population passes a certain point, it is hard to change the ground-rules for their living here.

    I am not offended by the existence of people of other origins in the world. Once you have reduced the national cultural question to one of prejudice against colour, it becomes almost like discussion of a phobia. Some people have a phobia about spiders. Some people don’t like going outdoors. Some people have an irrational prejudice against black people or people of X racial/cultural background. It is not credible to claim that the large numbers of people opposed to immigration and multiculturalism are motivated by irrational phobia-style prejudice. Why would anyone be offended by someone purely on the basis of such a thing? If they were, it would be a phobia, of no more social significance than that there are people who don’t like spiders.

    The real reason is the very justifiable opposition to the handing of the country over to people who make no attempt to fit in with the national culture here and are given a privileged political/civil position in our country, while we find our rights to freedom, expression, speech and association obliterated as a result. I remember Frank Furedi, leading writer for Spiked, talking once of how society has become like a sort of United Nations, with something analogous to non-aggression pacts between the wary groups, who created their own cultures and identities in various corners. He came close to pointing out that multiculturalism is not a society, but really a refusal to be a society. Culture is the expression of a society’s life together, and so multiculturalism is a deliberate attempt to create a society with internal antagonisms. It is completely unreasonable to expect people to come to England and then oppose English culture – which is what we are faced with. James, I can tell you that in China I found the Chinese New Year a pain. Chinese friends usually went back to their families. Sometimes I would get invited to New Year meals, but usually not the main family gatherings. Most cafés and shops closed down for days and days on end – and most of the restaurants near the universities catering for foreign students were also closed. It was like a hiatus in my life – but – can you credit it? – the Chinese would not have been receptive to any expression of view on my part that the Chinese New Year was a total nonsense, and that Chinese culture should not have pride of place in China. Atavistic, James, on the part of the Chinese? Or just logical, that as a foreigner in China I should just adapt to their culture or get lost?

    Look. Libertarianism is a non-starter, when we don’t have the rights to freedom, expression, speech and association that the creation of a multi-ethnic Britain seems to have needed to destroy. The chances of winning the ethnic minorities around to libertarianism are slim, given that they are the beneficiaries of the state at the moment. So your claim that open borders is part of libertarianism is false: open borders is the very means by which libertarianism is prevented. Open borders has nothing to do with libertarianism – any more than a free society means people can gate-crash your home. I did point out, however, that Hong Kong has a visa-less policy and has managed to remain 97% Chinese – probably because there is no official promotion of multiculturalism and no welfarism there. Would you like to claim Hong Kong does not have open borders? [Mainland Chinese face greater difficulty in getting into Hong Kong than most, but that is another, albeit, interesting story.] Demography is destiny: a sudden shift in the demographic realities changes the whole society, with implications for politics, economics, education, media, and the entire gamut of cultural values. People are only infinitely substitutable if they don’t have identities and cultural allegiances, which they do. If Tibet becomes majority Han Chinese, believe me, the country will have changed for good, and for the negative, for the local Tibetans – it is only if you believe there is no such thing as culture that promotion of this abstraction called Humanity begins to make sense.

    The key point I am trying to get across is that the current political situation in the UK is the only possible result of the cultural revolution that Spiked has supported all along. For Spiked to say that they oppose Racism (tendentiously defined – not defined as “racial hatred”, but defined as support for England’s being English), while also opposing the moral crusade against Racism among the ‘white’ working class – this is as bad as Trotskyists in the 1980s claiming they could not be blamed for Stalinist Russia, because they wanted to see communism by the ‘self-acting workers’, and not a state bureaucracy. Stalinism was the only feasible way communism could be created. State repression is the only feasible way the multiracial society can be created here. You can’t have your cake and eat it!

    The current ideological trends in the world (pessimism, fear, precaution, individuation – all well discussed on Spiked) are the logical result of Spiked’s politics. Because you are part of the cultural revolution movement, and yet you think this cultural revolution could have happened in a way that did not remove human subjectivity. It is nonsense for you to resent the creation of a technocratic society, because this is the only way your views could play out. Culture anomie and the loss of established norms of behaviour logically lead in one direction: more government power, less freedom, less subjectivity, more fear, more precaution.

  3. Hans Herman Hoppe has also robustly answered the naive open borders view, from a libertarian perspective.

  4. ‘Libertarianism is a non-starter, when we don’t have the rights to freedom, expression, speech and association that the creation of a multi-ethnic Britain seems to have needed to destroy. The chances of winning the ethnic minorities around to libertarianism are slim, given that they are the beneficiaries of the state at the moment. So your claim that open borders is part of libertarianism is false: open borders is the very means by which libertarianism is prevented. Open borders has nothing to do with libertarianism – any more than a free society means people can gate-crash your home.’

    David, there are so many non-sequiters here, I am not sure I know where to start.

    1) Your nation is not your home. You own your home (or rent it), you do not own the whole country. It is not a good metaphor.

    2) Immigration has not destroyed the rights to freedom, expression, speech or association. (Some of) the legal limits on these have been motivated in terms of securing the peace in a multi-ethnic Britain, but that is not the same thing as meaning that it is immigration that put limits on them. There is no necessary link.

    3) The claim that “the ethnic minorities are beneficiaries of the state” is eccentric. Most Britons are ‘beneficiaries of the state’ in one or other respect (as for example, with Child Benefits), and then at the same time supporting the state (through PAYE, and sales tax). As I understand it, first generation immigrants tend to contribute more and receive less than more settled populations, insofar as there is a skew. For the most part, though, I think your vision that ethnic minorities are beneficiaries of the state artificially imposes a group identity on individuals.

    4) I agree with you – and here I am no anarchist – that there must be a state and laws to secure liberty. But restrictions on immigration are not necessarily part of those laws.

    As to Ian B.’s point, I cannot say that I am surprised that a libertarian finds it difficult to hold onto the case for liberty.

  5. Here’s another bit that makes no sense at all. You write: ‘It is completely unreasonable to expect people to come to England and then oppose English culture ‘ – as if English culture were uniform. You go on to say that you didn’t like Chinese New Year – which is curmudgeonly of you, but your right. I know lots of people who don’t like Christmas. But are you saying that the Chinese actually forced you to take part in the New Year’s celebrations? Did you really entertain the desire to forcibly suppress them? Can you honestly not tell the difference between opting out of something and opposing it? There being some 60 million Britons, we expect them to do different things, culturally. As long as no-one is firebombing the Christmas service, or Remembrance Day, then I really do not see what the problem is.

  6. James, you are an intelligent man, but I know you have entrenched views on this, so I will answer to edify anyone who may be reading this exchange, and not in the forlorn hope of convincing you. I think people on the right constantly make the mistake of knocking themselves out trying to convince their opponents, when there are millions of people uneasy with England today who are looking for a language with which to voice their opposition to what is happening without sounding (or being painted as Fascist), and they are the ones I would like to speak to really.

    1) JH: “Nation not your home”. DW: A nation is an extension of family. It is a genetically related population group. There are cultural connections within the nation that don’t exist with people who come from without and don’t make any attempt to fit in. It is the “community within a community” style of race relations that people to object, not colour per se. By having large numbers here from the developing world (largely failed nations, JH, don’t forget), we are changing the country we live in, its culture, its politics, its economics, everything. You may not agree the nation is similar to a home, but a Tibetan village that was once 100% Tibetan and now is 70% Han Chinese will have changed out of all recognition. People are not substitutable if they won’t adapt culturally – and they can’t do so in inordinate numbers.

    2) JH: “immigration hasn’t destroyed freedom”. DW: JH, you admit that “legal limits have been motivated to secure the peace in a multi-ethnic Britain”. With that statement, you concede my arguments are right. Because if multi-ethnic Britain was in danger of becoming unpeaceful, that shows that you realise too that multiculturalism is just importing conflict, thus requiring legal limits on what English people can say. If you wish to make a more logical argument for yourself, try arguing that immigration is a good thing because it leads to a more peaceful society. I don’t think even you can make that argument. If cultural diversity is so good, why is government intervention required to prevent it from destroying society?

    3) JH: “immigrants not the only beneficiaries of the state”. DW: your arguments that first-generation immigrants are net contributors don’t appear to be broken down by ethnic background. Are the 75% unemployed Somalis net contributors? Why pretend that Germans and Somalis, French and Afghans, are likely to contribute in the same degrees? Look, the immigrants are the _political_ beneficiaries, in that the culture has been transformed into a kind of worship of non-white cultures (look at the BBC, which I no longer watch as a result). They are being politically/culturally promoted in a way that causes cultural anomie among the English, which I think is the ultimate cause of obesity, welfarism, etc in the English working class – working-class Englishmen know they’re not valued and they have stopped trying in life.

    4) JH: “laws to secure liberty”. DW: maybe, but a deletion of many laws would secure it better. Take freedom of association – the requirement that all businesses serve all parts of the community must go. The ethnic minorities should just be told to accept English reactions to them, whatever those reactions are, including not being served by people who don’t want to serve them, not being employed by people who don’t want to employ them, etc. That is freedom. They would still be in England, but with no legal assistance to force people to accept their presence. Let the chips fall where they fall in society. There should be no employment tribunals, and no collection of data on racial groups and the services they receive.

    The fact that you probably don’t agree that private businesses should be able to exclude non-white people from job applications shows that Spiked does approve of the race relations industry really. You want English people to be forced to comply. And yet if you are right that the young in England have accepted multiracial Britain, then you have nothing to fear. They will not discriminate, because they have already turned their back on “the old politics of racism”, as Mick Hume put it. I think you know that if equal opportunities were not legally insisted upon, hiring decisions would be very different, which shows that demographic reconfiguration of our society has not really been accepted at all. Many people passively go along with it, just as people in France went along with the Pétain regime, and people in Germany went along with Hitler’s regime.

    Restrictions on immigration? Well, if people from other cultures come to our country in their millions, it makes it unlikely that they will adapt to the host culture. Don’t you think that if the Han Chinese move in their millions to Tibet that that will significantly change the culture of Tibet in a negative way? And, if people from other cultures come to England in millions, they will rejoice at the government backing they get, and will not be up for laws to create a free society. When I said “the chances of winning the ethnic minorities around to libertarianism are slim, given that they are the beneficiaries of the state at the moment”, I wasn’t actually thinking of the benefits system, but of things like the freedom of association. How many black people in the UK would support a law deleting the right to sue an employer who discriminated in hiring and firing on the grounds of race? Now you see how they are the beneficiaries, and thus the Trojan horses for unfreedom.

    5) Chinese New Year – no, the Chinese did not force me to take part in the Lunar New Year, but by the same token they did not reconfigure their entire society to reflect the fact that there was one Englishman in China who thought the Chinese New Year a nonsense. Whereas we are trying to include Diwali and other things in our public culture – things that shouldn’t exist other than in private homes in England. We are including doing things like making halal meat compulsory in schools and prisons – it is much more widespread than people realise.

    There is no significance to the Chinese New Year, other than a family getting together – it is very family-oriented. Whereas Christmas is actually a greater concept entirely. I read a fascinating article by a Jewish man, Shel Israel, who came to see the greater significance of Christmas compared to any other culture’s celebrations at http://redcouch.typepad.com/weblog/2009/12/a-jews-view-of-christmas.html .

    But you seem to have taken me off the point. My point is that China SHOULD be Chinese. Just as England SHOULD be English. Of course there is a difference between opting out of something and opposing it, but, you see, the left are in charge of the media and the education system and abusing it as far as they can to create their non-society. I don’t blame immigrants for that per se – I blame English liberals who often blame immigrants for their own extremist policies – but, after all, as you did say, extremist policies are being implemented to create social peace in multi-ethnic Britain, so we are back once again with immigration as the reason for the campaign in the media and education systems against our culture.

    You said there is no problem as long as no one is firebombing Remembrance Sunday. Well, first, can you guarantee that won’t happen? We do have terrorist groups operating in the UK. There are extremist Islamic groups who would no doubt welcome the bombing of Remembrance Sunday, bearing in mind our misguided interventions in Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, etc. Second, although Remembrance Sunday does take place, it is one day in the year – and does not justify the wall-to-wall propaganda against British culture on the TV, in schools, in universites, even in workplaces. There is a trend to making every single thing multicultural today. I remember a few years ago the Seeing Salvation exhibition at the National Gallery – a very interesting collection of representations of Christ – followed by government comments that future exhibitions must not focus on England’s traditional culture, but rather on things that the ethnic minorities can relate to too. Culture is what unites people – imagined communities require a shared imagination – and so multiple cultures in the same territory disintegrate the demos and as John Stuart Mill argued, make free institutions impossible.

    If you don’t think there is a problem – as Christmas does go ahead and there is Remembrance Sunday – remind me why Emma West has been arrested for exercising her right to freedom of expression? It was inadvisable for her to comment on immigration to people who might attack her – but everything she said was correct in its substance, although with too many expletives for my liking, and, in the end, this is her country. The worse thing is not that we are witnessing our country being colonised, but that we are not allowed to say anything at all. James, there are whole housing estates, in Oldham and various other places, where English people just can’t live. Places where English people will be attacked on account of their ethnicity. Places where English children will be groomed for paedophile sex and the police will throw the case under the carpet to avoid upsetting ethnic minorities. There is even the case of Gavin Hopley, where the police had a CCTV camera recording of his murder by ethnic-minority people, and conveniently lost the recording and dropped the case to avoid inflaming the minorities. How can this happen? The contrast with the Stephen Lawrence case is shocking.

  7. Radical Rodent

    You definitely have a point here, Mr Webb. One good example of one who steadfastedly refuses to integrate is Ms Diane Abbott; despite being born and raised in this country, she does not consider herself English, or even British, but West Indian.

  8. While I agree completely agree with you on the anti-racist state policy question (I am not a racialist and happen to have several close friends of different ethnic backgrounds, but the state has no legitimate power to punish people for expressing their opinions or for choosing who to associate with based on these) – I cannot agree with your views on immigration.

    Though people have an entirely inalienable right to hold, and express, whatever opinion may be held by a majority this does not give the state the right or responsibility of restricting the freedoms of some or all people in order to pander to this opinion.

    As a libertarian I see a very limited role for the state which does not involve supressing the freedoms of certain groups to create a preferred model of society. I cannot see how the state using its geographical monopoly to prevent people from moving to a nation is consistent with the basis of libertarian philosophy.

  9. I think there’s a lot of confusion in Libertarian thought over this. Right now, we don’t live in libertarian societies, and they’re getting less libertarian all the time. But suppose we did?

    Virtually all libertarians are in some way propertarians, even the Georgists, who are geo-collectivists i.e. they see property as colllectivised, but that property is still owned, but by “the community” rather than individuals, who are awarded temporary usage by the community as a whole. Any propertarian will use their “geographic monopoly to prevent people from moving to” it. It’s pretty clear that the idealist anarchism model actually devolves to a kind of “micro-state” system in which landholders are little nations. Once somebody owns land, the fundamental principle of that is that they can prevent anyone, at whim, from entering it. You cannot have propertarianism and open borders. In any propertarian system, individuals can only move onto land whose owners allow them to move there.

    Many people see the current nation states as anachronistic or artificial. But the same principle applies. England is, currently, that land owned by the England “national collective”. Nobody else has a right to move into it, any more than I have a right to join the Biggleswade Free Love Beatnik Commune if the current members of that commune don’t want me in. It may be that the Biggleswade Beatniiks would prosper as a community by open membership policies, or they may not. But it’s not a matter of “rights”. The only libertarian right in this example is their right to be exclusive.

  10. Jesus Christ mate, you so need an editor.

  11. Cult-leaders with first-rate intellects need acolytes with second-rate intellects. Frank Furedi, the RCP supremo and controller of the Spiked! collective, does not have a first-rate intellect. Therefore…

    Lord Glasman has said that New Labour hated the white working-class. That was one reason it massively increased immigration: to punish the working-class for its sexism, racism and homophobia by importing non-sexist, non-racist, non-homophobic libertarians from the Third World. For obvious reasons, this also hugely assisted the anti-racist crusade. Spiked! are sternly against the crusade, which harms the working-class, but hugely in favour of mass immigration, which also harms the working-class. Conclusion? Either Furedi, Hume, O’Neill & Co. are half-wits or they have a hidden agenda. I suspect it’s a bit of both.

  12. Hot to Trot – Frank Furedi does have a first-rate intellect as is clear from all his books and articles. I think maybe the Spiked people are still held back by past positions. Their support for abortion is also another incongruous thing in their politics that seems a hold over from the past. It would make more sense and dovetail better with their politics to say that people can reasonably be expected to take responsibility for themselves, including not getting pregnant when they don’t want to get pregnant. Serial abortion as a contraceptive method and unmarried motherhood with the children used as passports to welfare are totally out of connection with the rest of Spiked politics.

  13. If Furedi has a first-class intellect, why does he support mutually contradictory policies? And he is the only one that matters: Fu-fighters like Heartfield and O’Neill are like Stepford wives, dutifully repeating whatever line Furedi lays down. The Fu-fighters support both free speech and mass immigration. It’s like supporting glass houses and stone-throwing. In 2011, you and I can say what we like about Martians. Why? Because there are no Martians in the UK. If a million landed here tomorrow, we would no longer be able to say what we liked about them. It’s not rocket-science. The Fu-fighters have been very successful at two things: self-promotion and media exposure. They have not been successful at elementary logic or identifying the ludicrous self-contradictions of their “libertarian” cause.

  14. Hot to Trot, I can’t get into a long non-productive exchange. I prefer productive exchanges that relate to substantive political or economic issues. I don’t want to be part of personal attacks against Frank Furedi or James Heartfield or Brendan O’Neill. As I said in my article above, Spiked Online is doing more than ,most on hundreds of cultural issues from a more or less libertarian perspective, and their website is amazing in its detailed grappling with modern culture. I am arguing that libertarianism does not require support for open borders – and Frank Furedi may disagree, but it is absurd to say he does not have a first-class intellect as a result. His book, published about 1990, Mythical Past, Elusive Future, underpins many points I made in my article, but without explicitly referencing it.

  15. Sp!ked had a significant part to play in drawing me into Libertarianism. That thing where you’re trying to find out what you are, before you find out what you are, which is a Libertarian, that thing. I have a lot of time for them. I think, if nothing else, they’re an excellent “gateway drug” before you get onto the real hard stuff of 24 hour marathons on the Gold Standard and plodding through Human Action, and so on.

    I think in a sense I am one of those who believes that Libertarianism is the only hope for the emancipation of the proleteriat. I used to think of myself as “on the Left”, because I wasn’t “on the Right”, and Sp!ked’s unashamed bias towards a proletarian sympathy speaks to me, if it doesn’t speak to some other Libertarians perhaps. Sympathy for the poor and the underclass is in short supply at the moment, on both left and right. Sp!ked’s attempts to resist moral panics about the state of the residuum is thus I think very positive in these dark times.

    I don’t know whether Frank Furedi is some Hubbard like cult leader, or just a thinker with some supporters, but I don’t think that matters very much, personally. He seems far less scary to me than the glassy-eyed choruses around the likes of Gore, Monbiot or Toynbee.

  16. Ian B, have you seen my Salisbury Review article on Spiked (dating from, I think 2003?) – cached at http://web.archive.org/web/20050306003706/http://easyweb.easynet.co.uk/~salisbury-review/articles/21-1/21-4spik.htm

  17. Ian B – another Salisbury Review article of mine that discusses some of these themes (the impossibility of democracy in multicultural societies) – has been transcribed by someone at http://saxonsawake.org.uk/Consent-of-the-Governed.htm

  18. David, I’ve read the first article and it was most interesting. I think the crticisism of the LM Group that they are not consistent is entirely valid. My only criticism of that is that most political groupings are inconsistent, often glaringly so. The entire left ideology is incompatible with itself; to pick a personal “favourite”, it ends up with such absurdities as the feminist Naomi Wolf arguing in favour of the burka.

    In general, and this might be a digression, if so I apologise, I found myself thinking as I was reading it that “this is why I am not on the Left and not on the Right”. Your position is a conservative (“right”) one in the sense that a society requires certain cultural values to be maintained, and presumably that is deliberately maintained. On the other hand, the Left are cultural vandals. They deliberately dismantle cultural values.

    My own position is for a “cultural market”. This is why I think Sp!ked’s sympathy for “the masses” is useful. That is, I believe that a society will be fine so long as its people are free to choose their cultural values. They do not have to eat boiled beef and carrots to be english. Neither should they be forced to eat chicken chow mein. They can make a choice, and in that way a society changes over time in a natural and organic fashion. I believe that the “genius of the West” is our ability to change, avoiding the ossification of societies like China or Ancient Egypt.

    So my position on immigration is that it has not been a change chosen by the people. This is where Sp!ked really get it wrong. It is something that was decided by elites, and upon which not only were the people never fairly asked an opinion, but upon which free discussion has been actively stifled. It seems to me that, and I think you say something like this, the Sp!ked crew can’t really address that becuase of their leftist origins and sympathies. Having dispensed with much of traditional Left-wing ideology, they cling to this as, in a sense, proof to themselves that they are still “of the left”.

    Ideological rubicons are hard to cross. Throwing away a treasured moral stance, particularly when it is hegemonic, when holding that stance is part of being accepted into “decent society”, is much like abandoning a religious faith. It is really the same thing. Considering the genuine horrors that ethnic animosity can create (the Holocaust, or Rwanda) I don’t blame them. But it does mean they’re missing a large part of the puzzle.

  19. Ian, you’re right in most of that – and Spiked’s views are a bit of a mish-mash. They may be right there is no turning back to the old culture – but the new multiculturalism is not producing anything sustainable either. But I don’t expect any website to get things all right. My second article I linked to is much better than the first -and is one of personal favourites. It is worth reading.

  20. djwebb2010: “I am arguing that libertarianism does not require support for open borders …”

    I completely agree: libertarianism requires opposition to open borders. “Come into my glass house and throw stones” is not a position adopted by first-class intellects. New Labour opposed free speech and supported mass immigration. No contradiction. I support free speech and oppose mass immigration. No contradiction. Furedi and the Furedi-bots support both free speech and mass immigration. Massive contradiction. To be so wrong on something so simple means Furedi is either incapable of applying his massive intellect properly or insincere in his libertarianism or both.

    “I don’t want to be part of personal attacks against Frank Furedi or James Heartfield or Brendan O’Neill…”

    I’m not attacking them personally: I’m attacking their ideas and their contradictions. Sp!ked are a cult: there is a party line and everyone follows it. Genuine libertarians do not behave like that. The names might change on the Sp!ked articles, but the author remains the same: Frank Furedi. A libertarian cult is like a Buddhist death-squad: it rouses the strong suspicion that its members are not really sincere about the ideology they profess to hold.

  21. I think this is likely to be a more and more important debate within Libertarianism; whether or not “Libertarianism In One Country”. Libertarians developed a open borders mentality through seeing humans from a primarily economic stance; humans are merely “economic units” who go where the employment requires them. I’ve argued in qutie a few places that this is insuifficient. As somebody primarily interested in the social and cultural elements of liberty, this sort of thing perhaps matters more to me than the economic elements. I think a sense of “liberty” comes from how you feel in your day to day life; as such, I find it easier to tolerate economic authoritarianism like the post-war period than a woman arrested for being rude on a tram.

    I can certainly imagine a utopian situation of a completely free world, where we all move wherever we wish. But that will require a far greater cultural and economic homogeneity than currently exists. The future is radically unpredictable, so we can’t plan that future world. We can only look at what might work now. As such, I would tend to paraphrase Augustine. “Give me open borders, Lord. But not yet!”

    I think a particular problem is that most of the opinion formers in our society are better off people, and the more wealthy you are, the less rooted you are. Politicians in particular are members of an international class, with little sense of geographical connection. People like Blair or Clegg or Cameron will have little instinct for being “Englishmen”. I think they are quite incapable of grasping how “rooted” ordinary people like to feel; if you are poor, you are far more tied to location and thus far more troubled by that location changing around you. Roger Scruton has written well on this.

    The result is a casual deracination by those who are already deracinated elites. It is strange; we are well aware of the often catastrophic effects of culture shock on indigenous tribes in distant jungles suddenly ripped from their cultural certainties. They have often been literally destroyed by the experience.But leftists who bemoan that (and I share their sadness at such events) seem to think that the same does not apply to their own populations. I am tempted to think it is deliberate evil; but I do honestly suspect that it is just oblivion and negligence borne of their own rootless nature.

  22. >>> I find it easier to tolerate economic authoritarianism like the post-war period than a woman arrested for being rude on a tram.

    So do I!