Reflections on the Woolwich atrocity

I don’t have time for a long comment, and am only 1,000 words into chapter 2 of my novel. But no one in the LA has commented on the Woolwich murder.

This has key implications for liberty, not least because it is argued that the government’s snoopers’ charter proposal is a good idea in order to combat Islamic extremism. Islamic extremism in our country is a powerful confirmation of John Stuart Mill’s view (in chapter 16 of On Representative Government: read the section starting “free institutions are next to impossible in a country made up of different nationalities”) that free institutions are impossible in a culturally divided society. Cultural conflict encourages state control.

Take for example the freedom to bear arms, one of our traditional freedoms. If we had it, one of us could have gunned down the extremists and saved the soldier’s life. As it is, all most English people would do when confronted with the sight of a soldier being beheaded in the streets is to cower behind the net curtains.

As we deliberately import cultural conflict, we need to right to defend ourselves more, not less, but, by the same token, the authorities become more, not less, opposed to allowing us to arm ourselves. Even the police took 20 minutes to arrive, probably conducting a lengthy health and safety review before dispatching anyone. What is the army for if soldiers in barracks 2 miles away cannot be instantly dispatched to deal with people like this in our streets?

Then the other aspect is free speech. The media and politicians are mainly concerned to prevent comment on the Woolwich beheading. The Daily Telegraph has closed all comments on articles on this crime–the DT seems convinced that anyone who thinks the beheading means we should revisit the issue of mass immigration from Third World countries is a swivel-eyed loon–and politicians assert that Islam is a religion of peace.

Whether Islam is a religion of peace or not–this statement is a gross distortion of the truth–the key issue for libertarians is our freedom of speech. Today we found the police deployed to contain a small demonstration by the English Defence League. Why should the police try to prevent this? A peaceful demonstration must always be permitted and given sufficient territory in which to march and make its point. I am concerned that the style of policing of such events is intended to create set-piece confrontations with the EDL, and thus to rework the issue into a problem of English extremism, not Islamic extremism.

It is quite false to state that libertarians should support immigration. Immigration=state power. Open your eyes and see what is happening, and you will realise that the state likes the fragmenting effect of immigration on the population. Cameron paid tribute to the soldier killed today–but his words were disingenuous. If they were true, he would have stopped immigration from Muslim countries already.

Are we meant to believe these people are our fellow countrymen? They are only here as material for the enlargement of the state and the growth of bureaucratic power. I would have felt humiliated to be there and be unable to do anything to rescue the soldier. I am disgusted with anyone who thinks the main problem here is the possibility that English people may draw negative conclusions about immigration and multi-culturalism from this.

35 responses to “Reflections on the Woolwich atrocity

  1. Don’t put any of these thoughts on Con Home – there is no Liberty or Freedom of Speech there. I have had all my posts (a few of which attracted some good thumbs up numbers) removed from the site. The Tories must be terrified the English are stirring. I have unsubscribed from Con Home it is a joke.

  2. Nick diPerna

    A sad day. Terrorism is blow-back for propping up dictators in other countries and grabbing public resources on the cheap. Imagine how the west is perceived by the victims of our wars – they have access to our media. We need to learn to leave other people alone. However, soldiers don’t make wars. An utterly pointless killing.

    I see Mr Webb’s viewpoint. When EDL members hit the streets it’s called “reactionary” and “populist”. But when leftists go out to harass Stephen Lawrence murder suspects then it’s “fighting racism”, or something virtuous.

    I have no problem with natural immigration. But state-sponsored immigration is indeed just another social program.

    DIVERSITY—A magical incantation used to divert your attention from the fact that it is strikingly similar to the words “divide” and “division.”

    – The Progressive Glossary by Jim Goad

  3. Very interesting piece. I would add Huntington’s ‘Clash of Civilizations’ to the reading list.Prophetic stuff in my view.

  4. “Islamic extremism in our country is a powerful confirmation of John Stuart Mill’s view … that free institutions are impossible in a culturally divided society.”

    Um, no — the claim that free institutions are impossible in a culturally divided society is just another excuse for destroying free institutions.

  5. I had deliberately refrained from pronouncing a Fatwah about this dreadful incident, on here, until I had gleaned more facts. they seem to be coming in, slowly but surely.

    Incidentally, Dan Hodges on the Torygraph (I have no clue what he is doing there, strategically) is completely preplexed by the entire thing, and has no explanations whatever.

  6. Nick diPerna

    Did you know this old post is being hit with spam:

    The New Fourth Estate: Anonymous, Wikileaks, and –archy.

  7. Mustela nivalis

    yes I noticed that comment by Dan Hodges too. I naturally don’t agree with many things he says, but he’s usually very astute. And he’s one of a very few journalists who are not afraid to make a concrete prediction (as in: “Here’s why Cameron will win the next election”). So I don’t believe him when he writes: “And then I thought about what he’d said. He’d said “our lands”. But he had a south-east London accent. And that didn’t make any sense.”
    He’s covering his backside.

  8. “He’s covering his backside.”

    Or it could be that his view of the world is completely wrong, and what has happened is the equivalent for him of being a 17th century Aristotelian confronted with a use of the experimental method.

  9. Mustela nivalis

    That is indeed a possibility. It would then be a fascinating document of our time – a view into someone’s brain as his false world view encounters reality. Only DH can know what he was really thinking. And considering he’s usually quite forthright in his writings, you may very well be right Sean.

  10. William Palfreman

    I’m pretty sure Dan Hodges is telling the truth when he says he is completely flummoxed by the Islamist beheading in Woolwich. Whereas someone like me has been expecting something like this for years, and is expecting a lot more of it too. I think it comes down to me having a usable world-view and him having a load of middle-of-the-road lefty nonsense strung together by bits of wishful thinking.

  11. I think everyone’s misunderstood the Hodges piece. It’s a mood piece, highlighting the surreality of the whole thing. Doesn’t anyone else feel that?

    It’s interesting how the incident went off-script, and thus everyone was left not knowing how to react; hence the utterly bizarre image of people standing around in a crowd, videoing a man soaked in blood talking, while the butchered victim lies in the road, and a woman wanders by with her shopping trolley apparently oblivious. None of it looked like how it’s supposed to; it seems the killers had no idea what they were going to do after killing the man, and we end up with something surreal and so very British; a woman standing there with her hands in her pockets, arguing with the homicidal maniac who has neither run away nor continued his spree.

    I don’t myself even know if “terrorism” fits this. WIth terrorists, we think organised politicised guerrillas, whereas here we just have two nutters who read that they ought to kill somebody, so did, then had no idea what to do next. So it did end up just not making any sense.

    So, I think the Hodges piece was pretty astute.

  12. Hodges (whose opinions I dislike) should read The Camp of The Saints by Jean Raspail. It is all in there prophetic and reflecting the situation now. There is a war of cultures and civilizations but the west is by and large Godless so has no understanding of the real elements in this war. Hello William Palfreman it has been a long time and I am glad to see you still in the debate.

  13. Most people do not know how to behave in a massacre. This stuff happens all the time, all over the world. And the police are only minutes away. The real crazy thing is how overwhelming the support for victim disarmament is. Goes to show you can’t beat stupid.

  14. It wasn’t a massacre, that’s the problem. Nobody at first realised what was going on, and by the time they did it was all over, and then everyone didn’t know what to do next.

  15. Concerned Briton

    A refreshing little piece that dares touch upon some of the fundamental backdrops instead of the garbage, fluff and doublespeak which tends to masquerade and obfuscate as debate on the matter.

    Those who know what the score really is with this country cannot help but find the offerings from the establishment and mass media – not to mention the pompous white liberal left middle classes – excruciating to suffer.

    If the previous collective group really want to look at what is to blame, look at who is ignorant and look at who the extremists really are, they could do no better than look in the mirror at themselves.

    Whilst they simplistically preach at everybody else about what to think, what to believe and what to feel, they cannot see the evil, the tyranny, the fanaticism, the religious zeal they themselves hold, nor even begin to comprehend how they are much of the reason we have arrived at this destination.

    Seeing as they seem impervious to independent thought, knowledge or self scrutiny, I suspect little will change in the future.

  16. William Palfreman

    Hello Peter. Good to hear from you too. Am still firstname at surname dot com & on Facebook. Still got that very impressive moustache?

  17. Hey William I don’t do Facebook too monitored for my liking. Moved to the US in 2011, could not handle it in the UK any longer. Yes still have the ‘tache. I will email you. Cheers!

  18. “What is the army for if soldiers in barracks 2 miles away cannot be instantly dispatched to deal with people like this in our streets?”

    How about not being deployed on British streets to gun down British people suspected of crimes?


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  21. “How about not being deployed on British streets to gun down British people suspected of crimes?”

    I think the black Muslims concerned were British in name only – hardly a reason for the army to hold back from shooting the buggers to protect a comrade or members of the public nearby.

    I am impressed by the fact that you can call Sean Gabb an idiot and get away with it. Whenever the Guardian website publishes an article that is remotely controversial, it prevents potential contributors from making any comments at all. And despite my efforts to be extremely polite and stick to facts rather than opinion where posssible, the Daily Mail and several other ‘respectable’ websites refuse to print anything that I write. I have a feeling that what I have to say is a little bit too close to the truth for our overseers to sanction.

  22. Nick diPerna


    Often quite innocent comments I’ve posted at Mail Online never get approved, but I do get away with murder sometimes so don’t give up.

    Leftist media speak:

    CENSORSHIP – Silencing opinions we don’t like.

    FLAGGED/REPORT COMMENT – Abusing the House Rules to silence opinions we don’t like.

    BLOCKED USER – Someone who actually knows what they’re talking about.

  23. IB, Nick (and Sean),

    Let’s take a look at the facts:
    1. a person as yet unidentified had been seriously injured, possibly killed
    2. there were a pair of suspects at the scene
    3. the suspects were not posing an immediate and obvious threat to bystanders and were engaging with them
    4. emergency services, including armed response were on the way

    So, Sean’s proposing the ARMY come into British streets to execute people who are not posing an immediate threat to the public, who are likely to be sources of information to discover who else may be liable to do or encourage other attacks, to remove any doubt that we are a country of laws where one is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law by one’s peers.

    That smacks of vengeance and going against every decent libertarian principle to kill two people you don’t like, that is why “idiot” was appropriate.

    As for having comments removed/not accepted or being banned, take it as a badge of honor.

  24. I didn’t propose martial law. Check the names against the comments you don’t like.

  25. djwebb2010

    As Sean has just said, he did not propose the army executing people in the streets – I suggested that the barracks being 1 minute away, soldiers could have been dispatched to deal with the assailant. I wouldn’t shed any tears over such a person being gunned down in the street – but obviously that outcome would only be employed if he failed to put his machete down. He can hardly expect NOT to be gunned down if he is hacking people to death in the streets and won’t surrender his weapon. The reason why you would give him a chance to surrender if he dropped the weapon is nothing to do with his “human rights” – he ought to be destined for the gallows anyway – but to quiz him on his links to extremists, before sending him for a speedy trial and execution within weeks. However, that said, the safety of decent people is the priority, and if this person had continued to brandish his weapon – by all accounts he charged at the police with intent to commit another murder if he could – then the soldiers would have to take any steps necessary to prevent further violence by this man. I think some “left” libertarians view libertarianism as a limp-wristed branch of what is called “liberalism” nowadays, although “liberalism” and Classical Liberalism are two different things entirely.

  26. djwebb2010

    Keddaw described this murder as a “British person”, but the thrust of my article was that the British citizenship of such people is entirely nominal.

  27. Many, many apologies Sean. I was misled by IB who said I was calling you an idiot when it was obviously directed at whomever (dj) wrote the article.

    djwebb2010, the Britishness of these people, or otherwise, is irrelevant. That is why Paine wrote about The Rights of Man and the US Constitution does not describe rights as only applying to US citizens, but to all men.

    dj, what an assault on liberty. You wouldn’t shed tears over the intentional killing of an alleged criminal when they are not threatening members of the public? Under whose authority would these soldiers be acting? What part of our constitution allows armed, active soldiers to replace regular law enforcement and the whole criminal justice system in a simple murder case? Or is it the skin colour, religious beliefs, apparent national identity, or phenomenally misguided reasons they gave for allegedly perpetrating this horrible crime that makes you think we should skip justice and head straight to the state sponsored lynch mob?

    Given they they charged the police while armed (and an unusual bit of praise for the police here) and yet they managed to subdue them without killing them, without harm to any officers, and without any further casualties to the public, it suggests your suggested reaction would not only have been an over-reaction but would have likely failed to lead to (m)any of the follow up arrests.

    So, anyone who claims to be a libertarian while wishing for an army deployed on our streets for a simple crime, especially when there is no/little further risk to members of the public, needs to do some serious explaining.

    PS. Mill, as with many of his time, was wrong on the point about nationalities. The truth is nationalism, or patriotism, or tribalism, or sectarianism, is an evil that divides people and allows us to act in ways that we’d never rationally choose to. The sooner we rid ourselves of such pathetic and parochial attitudes the sooner the (kind of) equality we all claim to want as libertarians can at last be seen as possible. The idea that we should all have the same delusion (we’re all from one nation) and that will make it all okay, is wishful thinking at best and dangerous thinking at worst since it inevitably leads to blind patriotism towards everything your government does.

  28. Group loyalties may or may not be undesirable. There is no doubt, however, that they do exist. So long as they do exist, they must be taken into account.

  29. Keddaw, so you would stand on principle if you were in command of soldiers in barracks nearby whilst one of them was being attacked in the street, and order your men to continue playing Call of Duty on their Xboxes, being utterly assured that during the eternity it takes for Plod to turn up you could not do a better, faster job. Unfortunately, it is this predictability of action that gives terrorists their strongest weapon, enabling them to use the routine behaviour of others to their own ends. Yes, commanding officers must consider the possibility of traps being set, but if a similar incident occurred in the future under the rules of engagement you would enforce, by the time anything was done there would already be a line of severed heads on a wall and a prayer pledging continuing allegiance to Allah echoing around the neighbourhood.

  30. IB, I would never be in the army, but if I was then I would most certainly not order my men into the streets and would reprimand anyone who did not follow orders.

    “it is this predictability of action that gives terrorists their strongest weapon”

    No. It is the predictability of the over-reaction of a society full of scared little children hiding behind the government’s skirt that allowed the terrorists to have already won, even if they can’t see that yet.

  31. I was reluctant to comment on keddaw’s comments, as it seems no productive exchange is possible. Gunning down a killer holding a weapon is fully acceptable in English Common Law – and you don’t have to be a policeman to do so. Self-defence, it is called. This has nothing to do with libertarian opposition to extra-judicial killings by the state – which applies to people who are not holding weapons just used to kill someone. Basically, gunning down the Woolwich murderer would have been a rational response by the police – there were women and children standing round with a machete dripping with blood being held up by the killer.

  32. Nick diPerna

    The trouble with the UK, as some people on this blog have already stressed, is that the narrative is dominated by trendy hipsters who are connected to the media, arts, education, law and have access to state resources. The hipster narrative is certainly not the only perspective, but it’s the only one you are allowed to hear in polite society. It is in many ways a minority elitist view whose proponents have a sort class antagonism towards white proles. Online discussions on newspaper websites regarding the atrocity are still being heavily censored, but I did manage to get this little snippet in a local paper which equated the EDL to a “rabble which revels in causing divisions within our community”:

    “It’s no good blaming failed policies on the likes of the EDL etc.. Irrational persecution needs to be challenged, especially when it is directed at the real victims of those policies.

    The not so intelligent (il)liberal intelligentsia need to do a bit of introspection me thinks.” ;-)

  33. djwebb: “I was reluctant to comment on keddaw’s comments, as it seems no productive exchange is possible.”

    Perhaps because you don’t read what I write?

    The cops, in this instance, were exemplary. Had they killed the guys rushing them with weapons then I’d not have raised a note of concern. (Well, after an independent investigation.) Or indeed, had a member of the public saw the attack and intervened with deadly force that would have been fine too, assuming there was a reasonable belief that they were a continuing danger to lives – and rushing the cops with weapons would appear to show they were.

    The army on the other hand… Well, you didn’t mention them so I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about, so perhaps you’d like to clarify?

  34. @Keddaw, you obviously know nothing about firearms. The police shot the people multiple times. It is purely fortuitous that they are still alive.

    Given that at least one of the suspects didn’t have a projectile weapon and the police have Tasers one might ask why the police, as supposed professionals, couldn’t take at least one without shooting him.

    I consider the police to be a standing army and inimical to liberty.

    Your comments about group loyalties are simply nonsense, directly contradicted by thousands of years of human history.

  35. @Johnny, I’m not arguing both ends of this at once, but let me say this, if the police are routinely armed then the citizens should be afforded the same ability to protect themselves and others.