Sean Gabb: A Searchlight Profile


by Mark Pitchford
http://www.searchlightmagazine.com/archive/libertarians-of-the-world-unite-you-have-nothing-to-lose-but-your-credibility

Note: I won’t answer Dr Pitchford’s questions. In part this is because answering any questions from such people implies an admission of moral inferiority. In part it’s because no answer other than grovelling adherence to the pc line will ever be enough for the smears to be withdrawn – possibly not then. However, I’m not sure any answer is needed, nor any comment. Compared with the frequently gross libels for which Searchlight is renowned, this is very gentle stuff. Also, while there may be a tendency here to unfairness, this could be a simple result of misunderstanding. Lefties hardly ever read anything not written by other lefties. When they do, they generally see only what they want to be there. SIG

Libertarians of the world unite: you have nothing to lose but your credibility

There is something superficially appealing about libertarianism. Its obvious derivation from ‘liberty’ makes people comfortable being described as a libertarian. Indeed, libertarians’ advocacy of free speech, freedom of association and permissive attitudes towards sexuality resonate both with long-established rights and a more tolerant Britain in which institutionalised bigotry has little traction. Investigate a little further, however, and the libertarian position looks less comforting and more like a fig leaf for closet racists.

On 20 October, Sean Gabb addressed a conference in London held by the Traditional Britain Group. Gabb is a director of the Libertarian Alliance (although why libertarians need direction is an obvious question). He holds a PhD in Political and Intellectual History, has published numerous books and reports, and worked as a political adviser to the Slovak Prime Minister. Gabb is, therefore, far more impressive than the run-of-the-mill rightwing demagogues and would-be führers that emerge with depressing frequency in Britain. His association with the Libertarian Alliance spans four decades, during which Gabb advocated drug legalisation, and supported gay marriage and the right of gay couples to adopt. Most consistent in this time is his defence of freedom of speech. Gabb is also, therefore, no political dilettante.

What Gabb said at the conference, however, revealed the limitations of his libertarianism. In making a contrast between pre and post-1914 Britain, Gabb argued that democracy before 1914 “was not necessary, as the oligarchy of hereditary landlords who ruled England had absolutely identified itself with the nation. Every interest group had its place within the nation, and there was a place for all.” Thereafter, Gabb called for a revolution that would result in the destruction of the BBC and its staff “thrown into the street” with their pensions, presumably accrued within the terms of a freely agreed contract, removed, and the closure of “anything to do with health and safety … and child protection”. It would seem, therefore, that Gabb’s libertarianism does not extend retrospectively to those whose liberty was circumscribed by “the oligarchy”, or to those who have chosen to serve their fellow citizens by working in the public sector. In contrast, this libertarianism appears to extend to current and future employers whose cavalier attitude could limit severely their employees’ lives and, astonishingly, those who harm children. Clearly, Gabb’s libertarian principles favour the abuser over the abused. If anyone think this an exaggeration, they should consider Gabb’s call, in the wake of Gary Glitter’s child abuse case, for a limitation on the time that an abused child can take legal action against their abuser. I wonder what Dr Gabb thinks now that Jimmy Savile’s offences are public knowledge. As I write this, serendipity lends a hand: the BBC’s Ten O’Clock News announces that the police have charged Stuart Hall of It’s a Knockout fame with historic child-abuse offences.

For Gabb, England’s ills are the intended consequence of the actions of a ruling class that emerged after 1914. He describes this class as “the enemy”, of whom “we must smash it”. His remedy is a revolution of conservatives that would “create new structures of power”. Note that this is not quite the creation of avenues of discourse to foster freedom of speech. Admittedly, Gabb remembered he is a libertarian and added that alongside these new structures of power would be “safeguards against abuse of that power”. This, however, is window dressing. Who would operate these new structures of power? Would they include those who do not accord with Gabb’s views? Who would define and empower these safeguards, and why would a libertarian even want to construct new structures of power? Gabb did not address these issues.

Gabb’s omissions would not have been so disconcerting if this was as far as he went, but he went much further, touching on issues that have exercised the far right for decades. As a researcher of the far-right’s relationship with the Conservative Party, these comments particularly piqued my interest. First, Gabb commented on international organisations, making in the process a barely concealed implication of national betrayal. He argued that Britain’s post-1914 ruling elites have engaged on a campaign “to make power opaque and unaccountable by shifting it upwards to various multinational treaty organizations – e.g., the EU, WTO, NATO, etc.” These comments are similar to the conspiracy theories of many extreme-right individuals and groups who levelled charges of betrayal against successive post-1945 governments. These individuals and groups include the founder of the National Front, A. K. Chesterton, and arguably even The Britons Society, publishers of the antisemitic forgery The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion. [1] Gabb did not mention Jews whatsoever, and I make no accusation of antisemitism, but for a man with his qualifications these were careless comments that he should clarify.

No ambiguity, however, applies to the other favourite issues of the far right that Gabb pronounced upon: immigration and race. He accused successive governments of “State-sponsored mass immigration”, and criticised them for “filling the country with people of different colours”. These views are in line with those expressed by various neo-Nazi groups of the 1950s such as the White Defence League, the National Front from 1967, and today’s British National Party and English Defence League. The contemporary far right have learned to hide their racism by cloaking their comments with the claim of defending liberal values. Gabb’s comments appear no different. He ignorantly ascribed to all non-white immigrants an intolerance of gender equality and homosexuality. If Gabb’s concerns are about over-crowding and bigotry, why not focus on numbers and geographically-specific culture rather than skin colour? Again, clarification is required.

Finally, as an academic with an interest in political ideas and intellectual concepts, Gabb might want to consider what many theorists of fascism will undoubtedly view as his most interesting comments. Gabb clearly sees pre-1914 England as a golden age. He argued that this period is central to “Our historic self-perception as English [because it] is based on the relationship between rulers and ruled that existed before 1914”. His objective is “a restored England” in which the “new order of things will restore the spirit of the old”, but not ‘a simple recreation’ of it. These views and objectives are the palingenetic ultra-nationalism that Roger Griffin has identified as the core of fascism. [2]

This is not to state that Gabb is a fascist. His comments might be those of an individual carried away by the approval of his audience, or simply careless, ignorant remarks. It is for Dr Gabb to clarify his position. What we can conclude, however, is that Gabb’s libertarianism is conditional on the topic under consideration, and does not apply to all humans. This conditionality questions strongly Gabb’s claim to be a libertarian.

Notes:

[1] See Mark Pitchford, The Conservative Party and the extreme right 1945-75, MUP, Manchester (2011), index and passim.

[2] See, R. Griffin, ‘The Primacy of Culture: The Current Growth (or Manufacture) of Consensus within Fascist Studies, Journal of Contemporary History, 37, 1 (2002), 21-43, and R. Griffin, ‘The Concept that Came Out of the Cold: the Progressive Historicization of Generic Fascism and its New Relevance to Teaching Twentieth Century History’, History Compass, 1, 1 (2003).

Dr Mark Pitchford is a Senior Lecturer at Teesside University, and the British Fellow of the Radicalism and New Media Group at Northampton University.

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19 responses to “Sean Gabb: A Searchlight Profile

  1. Those who are more familar with Sean’s writings and comments will know that he wears two hats: one conservative, one libertarian. When he wears his conservative hat he may appear to be racist, but of course in ideal, libertarian terms he is not. Most conservatives would condemn mass immigration that was enabled for the purposes of cultural destruction and enlarging the section of the electorate that is more likely to vote Labour. But in Sean’s ideal world, no immigration restrictions (or subsidization of immigrants by taxpayers) would exist.

  2. Is this the Searchlight-Nazis, those socalists in sheep’s clothing, doing their stuff again?

    We came across these fellas about 40 years ago. Are they still going? Or has Nazism failed and they have not discovered this fact yet?

    Pre-capitalist-barbarians.

  3. Well, I don’t agree conservatives will do anything about immigration, they have done nothing since being elected, the situation is so bad, they are
    now being forced to turn redundant buildings onto schools, no immigration
    restricitions will only facilitate britain being taken over by a new culture
    even quicker, the labour poilicy theory on immigrants not voting conservative
    worked, and will continue to do so, many hate them! The conservatives have
    lost their power base indefinately! More immigrants less votes for Tories.

  4. Yes I would agree, just look at the numbers still getting in to the country
    from none EU destinations. No wonder the infrastructure is breaking down.

  5. At the moment we see much debate on the subject of immigration, not just in the Uk but also in the EU, debate but no effective policy, other than the Global Economy Option. It is recorded that Templar monks via the use of meditation developed a pschic power in whic for a short time they were able to see the future, they could see the battle unfold before them, and take necessary steps to avoid defeat, by power of premonition. we no longer need these skills.In respect of mass migration we have to face the reality fact, we are the most overpopulated country in Europe, but what will this lead to, Higher Food Prices, Shortages of Housing, Higher Fuel Bills, Less land Mass, as well as replacement and upgrading of water supplies and sewers which in some areas are already having difficulties in coping with the increased capacities, more schools, hospitals and public services in general, if we look at India, in some places they have one million people cramed into a square mile, society becomes totally dysfunctional, soicety can no longer operate either economically of soicially,it is mathmatically impossible for it to do so. There cannot be such a policy as mass immigration it simply does not work, even parts of Africa and China has immigration control, it appears we are one of the few countries in the world who do not, does anybody ever question why this is, no, they simply hide their heads in the sand!

  6. Typical socialist posturing which aims to put its target on the back foot.

    “BBC and its staff “thrown into the street” with their pensions, presumably accrued within the terms of a freely agreed contract”

    “chosen to serve their fellow citizens by working in the public sector”

    In Leicester where if you are lucky enough to find employment it is likely to be temporary and low paid, it was announced that we have one of the highest numbers of town hall staff in the UK earning more than £50,000. Do they call this “serving their fellow citizens” especially now that council tax has gone up and concessions removed for low income workers?

    Are we to believe that the BBC and these public-sector fat cats are all what’s lying between civilisation and the descent into barbarism?

    Reminds me of the psychological phenomenon ‘Groupthink’ where “the dysfunctional group dynamics of the “ingroup” produces an “illusion of invulnerability” (an inflated certainty that the right decision has been made). Thus the “ingroup” significantly overrates their own abilities in decision-making, and significantly underrates the abilities of their opponents (the “outgroup”).”

    And if these people are talking about ‘inclusion’, there is nothing whiter or more upper middle-class than a town hall quango or the editorial term of a typical British broadsheet.

    In the words of Jim Goad, beware of those who never presume honourable intentions in those with whom they disagree. It’s called “projection”.

  7. Spell check: “editorial team”.

  8. I think you highlight the situation all over the UK, there is little we can do about, this is the way things have gone. the Quango priniciple will not change, that little circle know they control everything.

  9. Concerned Briton

    Going off their critique Sean, and going off my own accrued positions, I would suggest that you must be on some sort of target. As the old saying goes, “if you are not getting flack you are not over the target”.

    Are Searchlight seriously trying to suggest that democracy has not been usurped by international bodies (citied) and a shift upwards of power to non-elected rulers?

    How do they make this claim? Oh that’s right, they don’t! They just link anybody who says it is going on as being some swivel-eyed loon. Maybe they should read a book like “The Great Deception” about the EU, for example, to understand that what they ‘scoff’ about is precisely what has been purposefully engineered to happen from the start.

    Are they also trying to suggest that successive governments have not ushered in massive, nation destroying levels of ‘coloured’ immigration against the will and desire of the native population?

    Have Labour NOT engaged in a massive migration boom then, causing the biggest population change since the thawing of the last Ice Age, at least in part for ideological reasons?

    Was it really an “accident” and that they had no control whatsoever over what they were doing?

    Did Jack Straw, for example, who is not an entirely stupid man, not understand what he was doing when he ripped up the restrictions on the right of settlement (to chain migration from the third world, Pakistan, India, etc) as soon as they took up office?! For heavens sake, it was done in the first few weeks of them taking office!

    Did every single immigration minister for the last 40 years suffer from terminal incompetence? What a coincidence that must be! They all just blundered from incompetent crisis to incompetent crisis? Sure, whatever you say…….. Not a single one of them could get a grip over it? Pull the other one it has a bell on.

    Given that the indigenous British population are set to be a minority group before 2066, I don’t know how they could possibly argue against what Sean is pointing out as a mere FACT that various governments have done this to this nation.

    Of course, in their world, “skin colour” (as though that is all that differentiates human beings of hundreds of thousands of years of separate development on different continents) does not matter……well, unless you happen to not be White, in which case it matters to them a hell of a lot. Anything ‘anti-white’ is fine by them.

    Tell me, who is worse:

    1) Searchlight and their communist bedfellows who purposefully encourage the destruction of a nation and its national homogeneity, who even celebrate the eradication and race-replacement of an indigenous population from their own homeland (as well as seemingly supporting supranational ‘international socialist’ entities and powers) and who are generally a tool by which to smear and slur any serious political opponents of the Labour Party and the liberal-left status quo…..or

    2) Those who recognise the reality that race DOES have a factor on national identity, how we socialise, how we interact, how altruistic we are, etc as well as understanding what kinds of societies are built by different peoples – and who are people that simply seek measures by which to retain that national identity, that NATURALLY desire the survival of their own people, their own race, in their own homeland – as would have otherwise naturally occurred without the meddling of genocidal maniacs in the Labour party (and those likely to support organisations like Searchlight and their visions)?

    My option is always, without any question at all, number 1).

    They are the wrong doers, they are the ones who have no conscience, they are the ones who are part of forcing change upon a population. They are the “fascists”. They are the wreckers, the exterminators, the agitators, the destabilisers, the chaos makers and the controllers of what is deemed acceptable to debate and even THINK in your own head.

    The second group merely wish to retain their kith and kin and keep things as they once were and work towards a better future for those people, a society which would undeniably function much more smoothly and with much less state control than their nightmare vision ‘experiments’ we are all having to live under whether we like it or not.

    To call that natural desire and instinct some kind of evil, whilst they eagerly support actions which are supplanting and wiping those people away, is truly perverse, ney, wicked.

    I couldn’t care less who calls me a “fascist” or a “Nazi” or who idiotically says I have “race hatred” or “bigotry”. They are the pig ignorant ones who have often not even got the first idea what it is all really about.

    It is an EXISTENTIAL threat which is occurring against many of our wishes. Nobody asked for it. Nobody voted for it. Nobody, thanks to shrill outlets like Searchlight, can ever really get to talk sensibly or rationally about it without them screaming “nazi!” “race hate” “bigot” or otherwise missing the whole argument by a country mile.

    That some of them can be so called “experts” on these matters and trot out such garbage really is ridiculous.

    Also, the BBC is a self confessed bastion of the socio-liberal hegemony of the left-wing ruling elite. They have admitted their leftwing bias at least three times in major outlets in recent years.

    They have been caught out time and time again with other issues too. Many of them DO want turfing out into the street for their bias and propaganda. It is not a representative organisation.

    Andrew Marr, for example, has said some things which verge on the incredible for a supposedly impartial broadcaster, for example, going on about “stamping out” the objections and natural urges from people who do not share their liberal wishes, or that “vigorous miscegenation” is required to “solve” the race issues, and so on. (Yes, that is called Genocide of the Caucasian racial group Andrew, you might want to look up the convention).

    Many shows want axing for their antics in this regard, the recent expose of Question Time and plants in the audience is just a recent example, with the same kind of screaming liberal from the Labour party who was describing UKIP as being “vile” and “demonising” and “scaremongering”.

    She was typical “Searchlight” fodder too, trying to shut down debate and omitting the facts and realities with over-hyped emotional garbage and slurs.

    As soon as I saw in the article above that Sean was described as a “would-be führer” – I knew the rest of it would be rubbish which is grasping around for arguments. I was right.

  10. Of course you have to understand the varied and widespread changes that have taken place are effectively irreversible, The england we knew pre-labour will never return. You must remember, when you refer to Jack Straw and the other Throw Away’s, there was a planned political agenda on the subject of mass immigration, it is correctly recorded as being a plot to deny any right wing or conservative government overall political power or control. Effectively, this is what a number of wrtiers and journalists concluded after an in-depth examination on the subject, I remember reading much about this at the time and various veiws on the subject. Obviously, Britian is undergoing transformation, there will be very big political changes within the next three decades, it is probable we will end up like south africa,or similar, where our lives are controled and effected by the will of immigrants.In fact this process does not take long, Straw was an immigrant, so was Howard, look what they have done to England in a short space of time. Ireland has some hope of not succumbing to an identical fate, mainly due to their Nationalists, we were all hookwinked by Labour, they were conclusive and classified enemies of England, this is why they let the Police and Justice Authorities loose on the middle classes, as it was we,who once held political control, through the various destruction of that power base, they were effectively able to bring about the total destruction of established England, and more they acheived this objective. Jack Straw makes me puke, god only knows how he ever got elected in the first place.

  11. Concerned Britain, Mr Stibbons, very well wrote articles, I remember reading
    much about these idologies at the time. I can add very little!

  12. “those who have chosen to serve their fellow citizens by working in the public sector.”

    or

    “those who have chosen to rob their fellow citizens by working in the public sector.”

  13. I have had disputes with Sean Gabb (often in the most savage terms) for years – but this attack from “Searchlight” is bullshit (utter and complete bullshit).

    Being against the current mess of regulations does NOT mean being in favour of child rape.

    And being against the BBC (and the various international “world governance” stuff) is neither extreme conservativism or extreme libertarianism – it is just common sense.

    Why on Earth should taxpayers be forced to pay for a media company (which is that the BBC is), or for the United Nations, or the European Union, or the IMF and Word Bank?

    None of these organisations are a sensible use of the money of taxpayers.

    Turning to “racism”.

    Having racists (even if the people mentioned are racists) in your audience does not make someone a racist (what is a speaker supposed to do – vet everyone who turns up?).

    “Oligarchy.”

    The United Kingdom was not run by an “oligarchy” of landowners in 1914 (and as a historian Sean Gabb would never have said it was). One might make the argument that before the Act of 1832 big landowners dominated the House of Commons (although even that could be contested) but “oligarchy?” That sounds like a speech from Lloyd George (and a dishonest speech at that), or a bit of nonsense from the “Conservative” Disraeli (who was always going on about the plots of the “Whig Oligarchy” normally as an excuse for his latest bout of statism)

    Of course Britian in 1914 was not a full democracy – not only women, but poor men (a minority – but not a tiny number) did not have the vote.

    But there are vast number of political systems not just “oligarchy” or “democracy” the world is (and always has been) a lot more complicated than that.

  14. Well paul, you make good points, but I fear these will make little difference now, as of the BBC we all know what they are, they are kind of people who will leave england when they retire, and move on to sunnier climbs, I was listenting to some of thier false propaganda tonight, a factory moved from chester to east anglia, the workforce of 2,000 will be transfered to this area, ecomonic growth they claimed, really, I just moved one flower pot from A to B, the flower pot is still the same size, it will only ever be one flower pot, nothing to do with economic growth just relocation of one flower pot! From the point of the national deficit this is a none brainer, I have 1 at postion A, I move 1 to postion B, I still have 1.

  15. Henry, you just hit Bull’s-eye, I was on my web screen last night visiting the insides of German Hospitals, first class indeed, there were some interesting comments from German doctors, in England doctors are paid 6 times more than in Germany, now you can see why we will never have a health service like thiers, and of course they don’t have to carry all those suited ginks, who take the bulk of the NHS buget in high salaries and great train robber pensions!

  16. Searchlight, the lackeys of the ruling class!

  17. The new ruling class Nick, they make Ronnie Biggs look like a boy scout!

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