Culture Wars and the Police State: A Reply to Kevin Carson

Culture Wars and the Police State: A Reply to Kevin Carson

This is my response to Kevin Carson’s recently republished review of Sean Gabb’s book “Cultural Revolution, Culture War”

Libertarian Alliance

I doubt it’s possible to develop a thorough or effective critique of statism as it exists in contemporary Western industrialized democracies without a comprehensive critique of the PC ideology. The evidence is overwhelming that PC is simply a new form of political authoritarianism, and something that the ruling class is incorporating into its own ideological superstructure. I’m a Nietzschean-Stirnerite, not any kind of conservative, but I find it disappointing that so many of my fellow libertarians and anarchists are unable to see PC for what it is.

The bottom line is that PC is a manifestation of one of the primary insights of conflict theory: Former outgroups who become politically powerful will normally become just as abusive and exploitative as the former in-groups they replace. The historical evidence for this is overwhelming to the point where it can be considered a general historical law. Louis XVI goes out, the Jacobins come in. Czar Nicholas goes out, the Bolsheviks come in. Chang goes out, Mao comes in. The Western puppets in Southeast Asian go out, the Viet Mihn and Pol Pot come in.The Shah goes out, the Ayatollah comes in. Ian Smith goes out, Robert Mugabe comes in. The apartheid regime of South Africa goes out, the ANC comes in and homicide rates explode.

Many people still do not realize how pervasive the cultural revolution of the 1960s and 1970s has been. In the 1960s, left-wing radicals formed the Free Speech Movement against things like loyalty oaths and academic censorship. By the 1980s, they were taking over academia and imposing speech codes. In the 1960s, homosexuals were considered felonious criminals in many Western nations. Today, expressing religious objections to homosexuality can land you in jail in some countries. A few decades ago, smoking was considered a routine if unhealthy pastime. Now, some U.S. localities have all but made smoking illegal. Stephen Baskerville has provided extensive documentation of the abuses that have occurred from feminist domination of family courts in some jurisdictions. Racism and sexism were universal and normal a half century ago. Now, even renowned scientists and presidents of major universities are forbidden from questioning liberal orthodoxy concerning race and gender. Forty years ago, leftists protested against imperialist war. Now, they are just as likely to justify imperialism in the name of “humanitarian intervention.” Leftists and liberals used to champion the drug culture, free speech, and free love. Now, they are just as likely to champion drug prohibition on therapeutic statist grounds, and support prohibition of pornography and prostitution on feminist grounds. It used to be that liberals would defend free speech even for neo-Nazi groups that wished to march in Jewish neighborhoods. Now, even some supposed civil libertarians will support hate speech laws.

These are just a few examples. Volumes could be written on these issues. Carson mentions the police state outrages that now occur on a daily basis in the U.S. I absolutely concur. There is hardly a day that goes by where someone does not send me a news report of some new police state atrocity. However, there is also hardly a day that goes by where I do not receive a report of some outrage or absurdity perpetrated in the name of PC. The growth of the PC and the expansion of the police state have occurred simultaneously and are mutually supportive of one another. PC represents the state’s use of the carrot: i.e. buying the loyalty of the rising upper middle class with its cosmopolitan values and the elite and affluent members of traditional outgroups with political favors. The police state represents the use of the stick: i.e. strengthening the state’s apparatus of repression when efforts at ideological co-optation and inculcation fail.

The carrot of political correctness has at least four purposes: 1) buying the loyalty and co-opting the cosmopolitan, liberal wing of the middle class and the elites among minorities, 2) obscuring the real problems associated with institutional racism and class oppression, 3) exacerbating social conflict between demographic groups by encouraging traditionally dominant or majority groups to view minorities rather than the power elite as the enemy, 4) using PC to strength the ideological superstructure of the ruling class and the self-legitimating ideology of the state.

It should go without saying that the police state, prison-industrial complex, war on drugs, socioeconomic segregation, class oppression, and institutional racism are all manifestations of the stick.

Regarding the examples Carson refers to concerning the British Museum and the racist policeman, I’d say it’s not a question of either/or in either situation.

My feelings about cops aren’t far removed from those of the Black Panthers or the sovereign citizens. But should the use of bad language be grounds for termination from any job, police offer or otherwise? I don’t think so. What matters is context. Was this policeman speaking in such a manner to members of the general public he is supposed to be “serving and protecting”? If so, then by all means fire him in the same way a store clerk who spoke to a patron in such a manner would be fired. Is he acting on these beliefs in the context of his official role by unfairly targeting minorities or engaging in excessive force? If so, then get him the hell out of there. Should he be fired merely for his private opinions? I don’t think so.

My view of traditional Western imperialism is not far removed from those of Mao-tse-tung. That said, I want to know about history as it actually occurred and in all its different dimensions. I want to know about the crimes of the British empire in its colonies (like the genocide of the Tasmanian people or the indifference to the famine in India, for instance). I want to know about the history of the British Navy and the achievements of British civilization as well (to which we Yanks owe a great debt). I live in the American South, and for decades there’s been an ongoing controversy over things like the display of the Confederate flag, the preservation of historic slave burial grounds, and other issues related to Southern history, including its history of racial conflict.

I want to see Confederate monuments preserved, and I want traditional white Southerners to be able to recognize and appreciate their history and heritage. I have no problem with public displays of Confederate memorabilia. I also want to recognize the history and heritage of African-Americans in the South, including a genuine recognition of the real crimes and atrocities associated with racial oppression in the South. I want to see historic sites reflecting black history preserved, and I want to recognize the cultural history of African-Americans in the South, and their many contributions to Southern culture and American society.

49 responses to “Culture Wars and the Police State: A Reply to Kevin Carson

  1. The Black Panthers were (and the New Black Panther is) violent collectivists – who hated black business people as much as they hated white people.

    I did not know that Kevin Carson supports the Black Panthers – but it does not surprise me.

    As for the Confederates – the Slave Owning States of North America (I think the clue is in the name) no non Slave State was even allowed to join the Confederacy (slavery is a creation of State law – either by Statute or Court Judgement which is held to trump traditional Common Law on such matters as assault and false imprisonment). Far from being an ancient tradition slavery was against the law in (for example) Georgia till the 1700s – when corrupt court judgements established it. For the record George Whitfield was in favour of these judgments whilst John Wesley and Mr Wedgewood (the noted industrial capitalist) was opposed.

    I fully support the right of any State to secede (the Constitution is silent on this matter – therefore the Tenth and Ninth Amendments settle the matter) however the issue over which these States choose to try and secede is not a good cause.

    Nor were the Confederates even sincere in their support for the rights of States – as their invasion of the Commonwealth of Kentucky showed (this invasion led to Kentucky to declare for the Union).

    On Civil Liberties – Lincoln was guilty of the most gross abuses, but in the Confederacy (other than in North Carolina – where Governor Vance tried to make a stand for the court system) legality collapsed almost at once. It is not correct to talk of “abuses” in the Confederacy because there was soon no functional legal system at all (just despotism – the lawless treatment of blacks being extended to whites).

    On economic policy – Lincoln was again dreadful (as one would expect from a Henry Clay Whig)

    However, the Confederacy was worse – higher and more Progressive income tax, more fiat money inflation, more regulations (of an arbitrary nature) and even the direct government control of what factories, transport and communications that the South had.

    I repeat that I fully support the right to secede – but it is hard to think of a worse cause for secession than slavery (and that was the cause – please no stupid lies that it was about trade policy) and the domestic policies of the Confederacy resemble the collectivism of Carnot during the French Revolutionary wars or the “War Socialism” of Germany during World War One.

  2. On Political Correctness.

    This (as Dr Gabb correctly points out) a collectivist movement to control language in an effort to control thought – George Orwell attacked the idea as “New Speak” in his book “1984”.

    Like most collectivist movements (including the National Socialist movement in inter war Germany) P.C. flourishes in the universities – but it has massive influence outside them now.

    It goes back to the Marxist Frankfurt School of the 1920s – which moved to the United States during the 1930s due to the number of Jewish Communists in its ranks (ironically today the P.C. movement is deeply anti Jewish – modern Marxist Third Worldism, Edward Said and co, has had a big effect on the modern P.C. movement).

    Today the P.C. movement is better known as “Critical Theory” (as in “critical legal theory” and critical cultural theory)the thing subjected to attack turns out to be, when one strips away the complex language, civil society i.e. “capitalism”.

    The P.C, (now “Critical Theory” and so on) movement has vastly more influence on the world than the “capitalists” that Kevin is always attacking in his semi Marxist way (although the Confederates attacked capitalists in much the same terms).

    Although some “capitalists” (although ones who do not appear to actually operate factories or mines) do act as cash cows for the P.C. movement.

    Obvious examples include Mr George Soros, Mrs Heinz Kerry and other funders of the Tides Foundation – with its aim of transforming the United States into a fully (as opposed to half) collectivist place as part of a collectivist world.

    See also Agenda 21 (and a certain Canadian billionaire) and “international cooperation” and “world governance”.

    Modern world collectivists are careful not to use such terms as “World Government” – going for “world governance” and so on instead.

    First to crush “tax havens” (even when they personally used them) and establish “positive rights” in line with United Nations human rights document.

    Written by Harold Laski, E. H. Carr – and other delightful people.

    The grip of such ideas on the EDUCATION SYSTEM appears to be an iron one and most important people have some sign of these ideas.

    A moderate example of their influence can be found in Mr Bill Gates and other computer zillionaries.

    As far as people like this have any beliefs – they have off-the-peg beliefs from their time in school and university (which they never seem to have taken the time to really examine).

    Their believe in more taxes and government spending is radically in conflict with their position as “capitalists” – but they do not appear to have fully grasped that they are in the grip of a contradiction.

    Other large scale businessmen maintain the traditional beliefs of Classical Liberalism – most importantly that the long term interests of BOTH rich and poor are served by less government spending, taxes and regulations.

    But these businessmen appear to have little or no influence on policy.

  3. his is confused regarding the arguments I actually made in the post.

    I wasn’t making an argument for or against the Black Panthers. I was simply saying that I generally share their negative critique of the police. I said the same about the “sovereign citizens” movement we have here in the US. The statement was intended to be somewhat tongue in cheek. As for the legacy of the Black Panthers, I’d say their resistance to police brutality and community assistance programs were good, their self-styled Maoist ideology not so good, though that has to be understood within the context of the times. It’s also not true that the original Black Panthers were a black supremacist group. They were Marxists who regarded racism as by-product of capitalism, whether rightfully or wrongfully.

    Nor was I making any argument on the U.S. Civil War. My position on that war is the same as Lysander Spooner: the states were legitimate in seceding if they wished, but slave were justified in resisting their oppression. I brought up the issue of Confederate monuments that are still in existence because there’s a big controversy about that in the U.S. similar to the controversy involving the British Museum. What I was arguing is that history is simply what it is. Every cultural, national, and ethnic group should be able to recognize its own history and heritage, even though the history of most peoples contains unpleasant or tragic episodes. It shouldn’t be whitewashed to make it look better and it shouldn’t be re-arranged or eradicated for ideological purposes, either.

  4. An argument I’ve been boring everyone to death with for some time now is that I believe there is a failure to grasp why what PC is, and why it is increasingly totalitarian. My argument is that it is, in fact, just a revival of the evangelical (later, secularised) pietism that drove the first Progressive Era. Perhaps a more complete analysis would be to say that it is a Hegelian synthesis of progressivism and marxism. In the USA, in particular (which is after all quite clearly the driving force) it is best seen then as a political articulation of the value system of the Yankee reformers. From there, it becomes quite clear why they wouldn’t like the Confederacy very much, even today; and indeed why the most PC “liberal” will happily deploy “hate speech” about “rednecks”.

  5. I think the intellectual/cultural lineage of PC probably beings with the universalism inherent in the monotheist Abrahamic religions. This becomes Protestant pietism, then Rousseau’s secularization of original sin (the “born free but everywhere in chains and must be forced to be free” nonsense), then Yankee progressivism, then Marxism, then neo-Marxism and critical theory, with borrowings form the Chinese Cultural Revolution.

    Of course, the wider is issue is that ruling classes have always used some kind of ideological smokescreen to justify their position of power. I think this is one thing the Marxists get right. In the ancient world, it was the divinity of the emperor or mere appeals to tradition. In the Christian world, it was divine right of kings. The problem of modernity is the way secular moral crusading is incorporated into the state’s ideological superstructure

  6. Keith,

    I don’t think you get pietism then marxism; they are pretty simultaneous. Rather, that Gramsci was right and that there was a “something” keeping marxism out of the West, and that was religious in nature; in particular the evangelical protestantism that had already developed in a complete social-political system by the later 19th century.

    So in that model, particularly in the Anglosphere and particularly in the USA, the pietists ultimately won the culture war, and the “marxism” had to adapt itself to that, by effectively shedding its marxist goals (revolution, dictatorship of the proletariat etc) in becoming what Paul Gottfried called a “Post-Marxism” which does not actually contain anything recognisably marxist to the likes of Marx or Engels, and found a niche as a justifying ideology for the now secularised puritan reformists.

    So for me, the crisis we currently have is a moralist tyranny. The real danger of this is that it is by that nature entirely irrational; you just start with something you perceive to be “moral” and hammer it into place regardless of how rational it is, or even what outcomes it will produce. An interesting example of this is the immigration dogma, pursued with evangelical fervour despite it being obvious that the massive importation of foreigners with values diametrically opposed to anything “politically correct” is antithetical to the other goals of political correctness. But the moral impulsion to human universalism overrides such an analysis, apparently on the basis of what amounts to a faith that because the natives can be “reformed”, so can the newcomers. Which is an interesting irony; just as the marxists came up against a stronger ideology- puritanism- the puritans are now up against a possible stronger one, Islam and thus, just as the marxists ended up handmaidens to the puritans, now the puritan-marxists are increasingly having to be handmaidens to Islam. Separate washing facilities? Segregated lectures? The burqa as a feminist symbol? We live in strange times.

  7. I agree with your point about progressivism and Marxism arising at roughly the same time, and probably for similar reasons. Both seem to be secular Enlightenment alternative to a Christian pietism whose theological foundations had been destroyed by advancements in human knowledge. I discuss that trajectory a bit in this interpretive work on Nietzsche:

    I also touched on the bizarre relationship between political correctness and enthusiasms for mass immigration from cultures that are anything but PC in this lecture to the National Policy Institute:

    These contradictions within the PC ideology, such as the incompatibility of Islamism and feminism/gay liberation, will come to the surface more and more over time. I actually think what will end the reign of PC eventually is when all of its constituent groups start turning on each other in the fight over the political spoils system, and the “who’s most oppressed?” pissing contest.

  8. When social, political, and economic order eventually breaks down from all of this, the best thing we libertarians can probably do is to advocate for Swiss-like cantons where different cultural and political factions can more or less do their own thing within their own enclaves.

  9. Keith, I’ve read much of your work before and also enjoyed a video of you speaking on the matter of immigrationism. I hadn’t read the NIezsche one before, possibly because I try to avoid engaging with philosophers whose names I have trouble typing, but having just read it too fast, and thus undoubtedly not understood it, the interesting thing to me is that underlying the search for a replacement for God is the assumption that one needs one, in the sense of needing a “meaning of life”. If you don’t believe there is a profound meaning of life, you’re not going to go and look for one, and rather you will just accept life as it is.

    I think there has been what amounts to a culture war running in Christendom since it became, um, Christendom. To compare the Islamic world, there is only really one worldview in Islam; the cultural revolution was total (not least, thanks to conversion by conquest rather than the Christian experience of more diffusion and persuasion). But also, Islam’s value system is basically the same as the Semitic “pagan” value system, in terms of social values anyway, so is a better fit; just as Judaism simply reflects the tribal values of the Jews.

    I think on the other hand, European pre-Christian values are quite distinct, and thus there has been a constant struggle ever since between those and the imported Levantine values of Christianity. In this, I am less interested than most people in the “Greco Roman” aspect. It struck me some time ago how odd it is that people from the chilly fringe of North-Western Europe, when asked about their cultural heritage, start talking about foreigners- Judaeo-Christian, Greco-Roman. I found myself asking, where are my ancestors in all this? It reminds me of looking at maps of "the Holy Land" in a bible as a child, and thinking they were as relevant (and indeed real) as Narnia. I wonder if the fascination with maps in fantasy novels come from that experience for many young Christian children, of reading these stories about foreigners in oddly named places like Jericho, Hebron and Jerusalem, and having to look at the map. I'm completely off the point.

    So I am increasingly drawn to the idea of associating liberalism (libertarianism) with the "pagan" side of the war, and collectivism with the levantine values brought in with Christianity, and the two have been struggling with each other ever since for cultural domination. If I am right, then liberty, individualism, common law forms, etc, are our "Saxon" heritage. The idea of the individual as merely a reflection of a homogenised collective body engaged in a grand epic struggle for… well, something or other… is the Judaeo-Christian import and at a fundamental level incompatible with that Western-European culture. Which is why we have a culture war at all. So for me, splitting up into cantons doesn't solve the problem (I don't think it's practical anyway). We have to set about winning the culture war on the mass scale, for once and for all. To be over-simplistic, in that scenario our problem boils down to our ancestors being persuaded to worship the God-From-Somewhere-Else and thus became embroiled in His cosmic war as foot soldiers.

    I'm not "racist" in this. I think that the Western European tribes happened, by a set of environmentally derived flukes, to have a set of values which turned out to be most appropriate for advanced civilisations. Small families, weakly bound, as opposed to stifling extended families, tended toward individualism. The consequent need for people to operate safely beyond the family in general society led to the idea of standard laws for everyone- common law and "rights"- rather than the clan-based law systems you find as you head south and east- "I rape your sister if I can get away with it, you rape mine, my clan kills you". The need for economic interaction beyond the family led to the idea of trading on a fair and equitable basis rather than aggressively ("haggling"). These led to a suspicion of autocratic government and expectation of rule by consent. And so on.

    If that is the case, then we have, by accident, something rather precious which needs to be recognised for what it is and preserved, and extended. I like to end a comment with a pithy point, but I've sort of run out of steam and haven't got one.

    "I am not a Judaeo-Christian Graceo-Roman. I am an Anglo-Saxon". Something like that. Not meant in racial terms, I must add, but in cultural terms, that kind of thing.

  10. “I am not a Judaeo-Christian Graceo-Roman. I am an Anglo-Saxon”

    I can only assume whoever wrote the above has never heard of Alfred the Great or King Athelstan (or Bede for that matter).

    • I don’t grasp your meaning.

      • Is that because you don’t grasp that Alfred and Athelstan were Christian kings who fought the pagan Vikings to establish the nation of England? That Anglo-Saxons were Christian since before England existed? That Alfred himself, anointed in Rome by Pope Leo IV, translated works by Boethius, Pope Gregory and the first 50 Psalms into English?

        You’re no more an Anglo-Saxon than a hippy in a white robe is a druid.

        • Give me some credit Richard. Or, don’t. Whatever. Of course I know that they were Christianised kings. I am talking about the deep cultural origins of values and social systems.

          Without typing another novel, it comes down to the suggestion that we owe most of the good bits of Western-European-ness to the pre-existing pagan culture, on top of which Christianity was bodged and to which Christianity had to adapt.

          To give an example, we didn’t get the body which developed into Parliament and democracy from Athens, nor did we get it from the Jews. It evolved from the Saxon thing, a native custom which reflects a deep-rooted assumption of rule by consent, rather than the Oriental despotism of the god-king model.

          One interesting example I’ve debated with Sean is Rome (yes, farther towards the SE than us of course); Rome starts off as European culture and Empire, then gets gradually sucked Eastwards and becomes an Oriental despotism, even adopts a foreign language, and subsides into oblivion.

          There is a strange and perplexing desire which developed among intellectuals to want to attribute everything worthwhile about our civilisation to foreigners; hence this Judaeo-Christian-Graeco-Roman slogan. It’s understandable that the Church wanted to claim credit for everything- civilising the natives and all that, and then the fascination with foreign texts in the Renaissance does the rest. But none of these swarthy mediterraneans came up with anything approaching liberalism. We did. So my thesis, such as it is, is that the special ingredient in Europe was pre-existing and rather than being gifted to us, should instead be seen as something that survived the ideoligical steamrollers from the East.

          • So, from a libertarian point of view, I should mourn the fact Alfred the Great defeated the Vikings at the Battle of Edington?

            • I don’t know, that’s not really a meaningful question. Are you glad that Charlemagne’s jihad triggered the Viking reaction, for instance?

              • Interesting that in your version of history, the Vikings were just minding their own business until the evil Christian ‘jihadis’ attacked them. I suppose the same applies with the Moors, who probably only came into France for a picnic before the oafish Charles Martel ruined their holiday.

  11. Richard Carey

    Not “my version of history”. Charlemagne was a notorious “convert by the sword” zealot, and it’s a respectable theory for what pushed the Vikings into action. Not something that can be proved; history can only prove actions, not motivations. But it’s plausible. It is worth noting in terms of analogy that Charlemagne’s expansive Christianisation would be more akin to the Moors invading France, while those he attacked would be more akin to Martel’s defensive reaction.

    Anyway, this is somewhat off the point. Arguing about what was good or bad in history is a waste of time; what happened, happened. I would not want to venture whether in some utilitarian calculus, Christianisation was good or bad for Europe. It is impossible to say; it is one of many historical threads that simply combine to make us what we are, and real history cannot be objectively compared to the numerous imaginable counterfactuals.

    The actual contention I was making above was not this sort of argument. It was whether the roots of what became liberal individualism are native or imported. My contention is that they are predominantly native, and thus that the importation of, for instance, Christianity, was neither necessary or conducive to the eventual development of liberalism in Europe. I make this contention itself primarily in a reactionary manner, against dominant hegemonic narratives which seek to credit Christianity, or Greek philosophy also, with its origin. Whether or not Christianity or the Iliad had other benefits (or negatives) is not what I’m discussing.

    The actual more basic argument comes down, in my view, to basic social structures. The Middle Eastern (ME) model derives from pastoral clan society based on extended families, whereas the Northern European (NE) model is based on smaller “proto-nuclear” families. The ME model tends to develop into societies of collectivist competition, whereas the NE one tends towards individualism. As such, in that regard Christianity had to adapt to us rather than bringing with it a new social model, which would have been inapt for Western Europe. An interesting example of this is for instance the commandment to honour thy father and mother. To a European, with our weakly bound, atomised family model, this is interpreted as a rather nice “be kind to the old folks”. As written by an ancient Jew, it was an obligation to submit to the stifling authority of the patriarchal/matriarchal clan and all its onerous, binding obligations.

    And so on. Anyway, take it or leave it, that’s what I’m trying to say, rather than the admittedly strong temptation to get bogged down in arguing about whether some damned thing in the 7th or 10th century was itself specifically a good thing or a bad thing to have happened.

    • I think you’re being a little loose with the facts to fit your theory, which seems to be driven by hostility to Christianity, which is your business, but it may be leading you historically astray.

      I think your notion of proto-nuclear families in western Europe is quite wrong. From what I’ve read there were tribes where loyalty to one’s chief was considered sacrosanct, and there are many instances where a chief’s supporters choosing death in battle with their leader rather than surrender. Family ties may have been less than these tribal loyalties, but the system of law such as relating to the payment of blood money or instead bloody revenge go against what you are saying.

      Looking at what Tacitus writes about the Germans, there is certainly evidence that ideas of government by consent, leaders chosen on merit and not by birth, even democracy have deep roots. I don’t think one has to battle the cultural hegemony to draw attention to this.

  12. Julie near Chicago

    Ah yes, the Panthers. “I generally share their negative critique of the police” — so do the Vice Lords, the Latin Kings, and MS-13, I imagine.

    I ran across a piece that journalist Sol Stern wrote for the magazine City Journal a few years back. It begins:

    Sol Stern

    Ah, those Black Panthers! How Beautiful!

    The New York Times’s racial mendacity hits yet another new low.

    27 May 2003

    Like many other ex-sixties radicals, I once made the unfortunate mistake of thinking that the Black Panthers were a legitimate social protest movement. In fact, in August 1967, the New York Times Magazine published my charitable article on Huey Newton, complete with the now-iconic photo of the Panther “Minister of Defense” seated on an African wicker throne, with a gun in one hand and a spear in the other.

    Within a few years, I understood that I should have described Newton and his cadres as psychopathic criminals, not social reformers. By now, a torrent of articles and books, many written by former sympathizers, has voluminously documented the Panther reign of murder and larceny within their own community. So much so that no one but a left wing crank could still believe in the Panther myth of dedicated young blacks “serving the people” while heroically defending themselves against unprovoked attacks by the racist police. [….]

    • I’m familiar with the narrative concerning the Black Panthers described in the Stern article. It’s a narrative that David Horowitz has popularized. But it’s a long way from telling the story accurately. I’m not going to devote much bandwidth to debating the relative merits of a political organization that was already defunct 40 years ago. But if you want the other side of the story, here’s a good interview with its co-founder, Bobby Seale:

      I’d also recommend Seale’s autobiography “Seize the Time” and the 1971 documentary “The Murder of Fred Hampton.” All of this material is available online.

  13. Richard Carey-

    The facts will be inevitably loose in this kind of discussion, partly because of limited data and partly because we are looking at trends rather than absolutes. Just as the assertion that Swedes tend to taller than Chinamen is valid in a world where some Chinamen are quite tall and some Swedes rather short.

    To say that one culture differs from another culture in some way does not mean the complete separation of traits. If we say that Prussia was a more militarist society than England, that does not mean that England was pacifist, or that the Prussians were permanently at war. Nonetheless we can see how 19th century Prussian militarism shaped the whole society; its social interactions, industry, education, politics, etc. Here, I’m trying to look at something deeper and more fundamental; family structure, and I suggest a gradient from North to South on the map from us down to the Levant. The general model we find, indeed in the Bible, is pastoralist. Here up North, we find agrarians tilling the heavy soil. The latter leads to “the couple in a farmhouse with their children”. The former leads to the “herdsman tribe”. And when each society advances, it will develop different civilisation types, with quite different understandings of the nature of the individual and the collective.

    This does not mean that there is uniformity within each region discussed; again, they are trends. Not every Jew was a shepherd. Some grew crops. Some were scribes, and artisans. But the basic family model is pastoralist (which is why the Old Testament is full of people boasting about their camels; indeed the story of Abraham’s split from Lott is an argument between their herdsman-tribes over grazing rights).

    As we head into Europe and peoples who had developed out of the Ice Age, we find an environment ill suited to bedouin pastoralism (or indeed the horse pastoralism of the Steppe tribes to the East who were different again, but, lacking the grazing, did not penetrate all the way across Europe; the Golden Horde ran out of steam when they ran out of grass, fortunately for us, though they did deposit some nice oriental genes into the Slavic girls, which is why they are currently swamping the modelling market, and at which point I am completely off the point. Anyway, that’s another model but it doesn’t much concern us because it’s too far East and the only two models that concern Western Europe for most of our history are the putative native one, and the Levantine one via Christianity, up from the Mediterranean).

    So, there are trends, and the facts are inevitably loose though. It is interesting to note perhaps however that in some parts of Northern Europe, we do see pastoral tribal structures. Head north from the gently waving, depressingly flat, grain fields of England and you find a primitive and ugly people called the Scotch. Derived from a pastoralist culture as they are, it took the civilised English many hundreds of years to pacify their relentless tribalism and native urge to murder members of other “clans”, whilst wearing skirts. I admit at this point, I am myself one quarter Scotch, and though I am able to control it, the result is that merely passing a MacDonalds fills me with the bloodlust to murder everyone in their sleep, and declare it a very great clan victory. Indeed, their current leader, a man called Alec Mac Salmon, is furiously attempting to reignite some kind of clan war with his blood enemies, the “Sassenachs”, for reasons that nobody can fathom, as he thunders his bloodcurdling battle cry, “Kill the English but keep the poond!”.

    Anyway, that’s the basic idea; that liberalism arose from a relatively atomised European tribal model, in which case the much-despised-currently idea that “we got our liberties from the Saxons” may be, if overstated, basically the truth. It is not about hostility to Christianity; merely the observation that that religion is not a precursor or prerequisite for the values of Western Civilisation, which is a belief in my experience that many, at least on the “right”, seem to believe.

  14. But then come to think of it, yes the thesis is hostile to christianity, I have to admit. In that I have to admit that I’m basically arguing that the more it articulates or reverts to its Oriental origins, the more hostile it is to my proposed European values. So yes, to deny that would be dishonest.

    • So, basically, if, for instance, an Anglo Saxon Christian did something good, in terms of your defined ‘European values’ then that would be due to the virtuous pagan origins of his Saxon culture, whereas if he did something bad, that would be caused by corrupting, despotically-inclined oriental influence of the Church.

      Your argument comes down to the definitions you use for the key terms. If you define Christianity as a despotic, alien set of beliefs foisted on the easy-going, freedom-loving northern Europeans, and the polytheistic paganism that it replaced as a proto-libertarian culture, then all you need to do is point to despotism and say ‘that’s the Christians to blame’ and point to proto-libertarianism and say ‘that’s the remnant of the pagan urkultur coming through’, then your job is done.

      • Richard, it’s not about scoring points for or against particular Christians or Pagans or anyone else. Neither is it pretending there was some pagan romantic paradise. We’re talking about people who were infanticidal sacrificers and head hunters (at least, the Celts were), people who raided, raped and pillaged and took slaves (particularly, the Vikings). It’s a different world.

        It’s about looking at the pedigree of various cultural trends; where they came from. It’s also a bit disingenuous using “urkultur” which implies some greater, er, “ur-ness”. Germany held out in part against Christianisation as late as the 8th or 9th century; Scandinavia as late as the 12th, and thus has spent more of the Christian bimillennium as pagan than Christian. We’re not peering back into some mystical Lord Of The Rings antiquity.

  15. Ian I do think that you’ll either have to write that book pamphlet, tract, diatribe or whatever, or else “us sassenachs, wee’ll be kooming ter kick yeir heid in laddie, the noo, d’ye-noo-agree-Jimmeh”. Could I not perhaps try to bribe you with my own money (I haven’t got a lot, perhaps could I offer you say £25 via paypal?) to get you started? It’d be my own money. The LA might pay you more as an organisation – Sean is in charge of the dosh so I can’t say either way.

    If you do not, I then have a”threat” to deploy. It’s not like the Godfather in which I might leave some random butcher’s-meat in the fomr of an animal’s head at the bottom of your bed – but me and Sean together might collate, perhaps badly, many of your excellect comments into a “tract”. You might not like it, saying and whingeing stuff like “I WAS MISQUOTED” and so forth. We would be awfully careful, being honest dudes, to get you right. But who can tell, what we might type when really really tired and so forth?

    We’d much rather pay you reall money to write a real pamphlet. It does not need to be very long: just say what you have always said, only formalised.

  16. It’s nice of you to keep saying things like this David, but if any of this has any merit, it’s better to not try to put it all together before it’s fully cooked I think. In particular I am trying to avoid doing what Richard seems to be implying; that is, arranging cherry-picked facts to support a preconceived case.

  17. Keith – the Black Panthers were (and the New Black Panthers are) collectivist scum. Ardent (fanatical) totalitarians. And murderers.

    Only someone trapped in error, the sort of person who would claim that the Corporate Welfare was more important than the Welfare State in the United States, would deny this. Not the left are really opposed to Corporate Welfare – after all they tend to be very much in favour of “low interest rates” (the classic example of such welfare) and of special treatment for business enterprises owned by “minorities” (i.e. racism).

    As for Ian’s argument.

    Well P.C. ism was a the creation of a bunch of German “Jews” (none of whom actually believed in Judaism) – which makes it ironic that modern “Critical Theory” types tend to be fanatically anti Jewish (worshipping Edward Said and so on). Still the most famous murderer of Jews of the Spanish Inquisition was of Jewish origin (and Karl Marx’s hate filled anti Jewish ravings also ignore the origins of his own family).

    But the question that Ian always asks me is as follows……

    “How come such a handful of people (none of whom were very good writers) had such a massive effect? What cultural ground were the tapping into?”

    I think that Ian and Murray Rothbard were correct CERTAIN FORMS of Protestantism (or rather an EX Protestant culture – in the universities) were very vulnerable to this sort of thinking.

    The Progressive movement (made up of ex Protestants – who had replaced God with “society” or “the people”) were indeed (YES) halfway to P.C. – a century ago.

    I am sure that people like Richard Ely and Woodrow Wilson would flourish in modern academia.

    After all they were good at deceit.

    Woodrow Wilson even got some well known black people to support him in 1912 (he did not tell that he regretted the end of slavery – which he did). So his obsession that white people should not use the same toilets as black people (as if blackness was catching) and his taste in films (“Birth of a Nation”) came as a bit of a shock.

    Franklin Roosevelt (a couple of decades later) privately cited (with approval) absurd National Socialist propaganda against the Jews (see Paul Johnson “A History of the Jews” on why Franklin Roosevelt turned down Winston Churchill’s urging to act against the extermination camps).

    However, “FDR” did not share his opinions with the voters of New York – when he was out grubbing for votes.

    Who people think they are voting for is often very different from the person they are actually voting for.

    • Come to think of it, we can’t trust Rothbard either. Bit Jewish, you know :)

      Srsly, Paul, I think this is why we need to be cautious talking about Cultural Marxism as synonymous with PC. I think it’s better to describe PC as a syncresis of post-marxism/critical theory/etc with the evangelical reformism of the Progressives. Thesis-antithesis-synthesis and all that, or maybe not, my Hegel isn’t what it used to be, not that it ever was.

  18. Julie near Chicago

    Rothbard may not have fallen prey to “PC,” but he certainly did fall for the idea that he could join with the New Left in destroying “Imperial Amerika” (GOD how I hate that!).

    Also, he was yet another lapsed Jew.*

    (It shouldn’t need saying, but to observe the lapsed-Jew intellectual and activist presence on the Left is no proof of anti-Semitism. I could point to the presence of lapsed–not to mention UN-lapsed–Christians on the Left, of whom there are more than plenty, but this doesn’t make me anti-Christian.)

    *However, Rothbard is quoted thus:

    ““I am getting tired of the offhand smearing of religion that has long been endemic to the libertarian movement. Religion is generally dismissed as imbecilic at best, inherently evil at worst.” He goes on to state in that article that “the greatest and most creative minds in the history of mankind have been deeply and profoundly religion, most of them Christian. It is not necessary to be religious to come to grips with that fact.”

    –(Murray Rothbard, “Libertarians In A State-Run World,” Liberty, December 1987, vol. 1.3, pp.23-25)

  19. Julie near Chicago

    Somewhat O/T, but still, I would like to point out that before there was PC there was “socially acceptable.”

    I think that every time and culture (including the culture of groups of as few as two people) has had its list of things it’s just not socially acceptable to say (or to do). It seems to me that “PC” merely (merely???!) channels this fact of the nature of human society generally toward a certain specific political end.


    As a matter of fact, when I was an undergraduate back in the early ’60’s, we students were just beginning to use the term “politically correct” jokingly as a replacement for the term “socially unacceptable.” Mostly, but far from entirely, as referring to utterances. For instance, wiping your BBQ-sauce-stained fingers on your shirt might get you a ribbing *g* for “politically incorrect” behavior.

    It seemed to some of us, at least, that we were doing a riff on the Communists’ insistence that certain types of statements be censored.

  20. Julie near Chicago

    The Panthers.

    Keith, I’ll see your Bobby Seale and raise you any number of YouTube Eldridge Cleavers. By the way, Sol Stern is not David Horowitz; rather, the two were colleagues at Ramparts.

    [The campus was my beat (so to speak) from 1961-1977, most of it at The University of Chicago, not–relatively speaking–wildly leftist in the first half of the ’60’s, although SNCC, SDS, and so forth began to show up there at some point. The last four of those 16 years, however, were spent as a graduate student at UICC–U. of Illinois at Chicago Circle, nowadays simply “UIC”–which certainly was a center for New Left/neo-Marxian activism. Notice that this time-frame includes the rise of the Black Power movement, which was used so effectively by the REV Jesse Jackson in starting Operation PUSH in that same Chicago.]

    Regardless of whether Huey Newton and Mr. Seale had managed to convince themselves that they weren’t merely thugs and were founding the Panthers out of some noble project to improve the lot of the Negro in America, the fact is that (even per Wikipedia!) Newton was a student (or a least a reader) of Marx, Lenin, Malcolm X, Mao, Guevara (so-called), and Frantz Fanon. And his activities, at least from his teens onward, definitely earn him the title of “street thug.”

    To get the other side of the story (as of 1978, that is — prior to the ’80’s, you’ll note) people might be interested to read Kate Coleman’s and Paul Avery’s 1978 article on the Panthers, “The Party’s Over,” from the magazine New Times. It’s available on-line and for download at

  21. Julie near Chicago

    Clarification: Newton and Seale were the co-founders of the Black Panther Party.

  22. Julie near Chicago

    Nevertheless, here is an excerpt from a very good piece, “Eldridge Cleaver’s Last Gift,” by David Horowitz:

    I first met Eldridge when he was Ramparts magazines most famous and most bloodthirsty ex-con. “Im perfectly aware that Im in prison, that Im a Negro, that Ive been a rapist,” he wrote in a notorious epistle that Ramparts published. “My answer to all such thoughts lurking in their split-level heads, crouching behind their squinting bombaridier eyes, is that the blood of Vietnamese peasants has paid off all my debts.” This became an iconographic comment for the times, a ready excuse for all the destructive acts radicals like us committed.

    I’ve SNIPPED it there, but this is really a terrific piece altogether. Mr. Horowitz ends it with a heartfelt (and quite marvellous) encomium to Cleaver, of which the final sentence is this:

    … In a world where it is so difficult to get a purchase on the truth, we should all be thankful to him for providing us with one.

    • I actually agree with many of Horowitz’s criticisms of the excesses found on the Left, but I steadfastly oppose the angle he’s approaching the question from. Neocons like Horowitz oppose the Left in order to defend the interests of the right-wing of the American plutocracy and military-industrial complex. Horowitz is also an Israel-firster and Muslim-hater. He’s clearly motivated by personal pathology rooted in his experiences with his abusive commie parents, and the murder of his friend Betty Van Patter by some renegade Panthers. I’ve seen television interviews with him. His whole demeanor and expression oozes neurosis.

      Neocons opppose PC because they’re friends of the empire. Paleocons oppose PC out of nostalgia for the old order. My opposition to PC is more of a continuation of the historic rivalry between anarchists and commies.

  23. Julie near Chicago

    Oh well, sorry about messing up the html italics tag. :<(

  24. Yes Ian – your question is (and has been for year) how could this handful of people (the Frankfurt School Cultural Marxists) have such a massive effect on the culture if they were not tapping into cultural elements that were already there? And what are these cultural elements? You make an effort to try and answer that question – and I do not have a better answer.

    On the Panthers – Julie nails it.

    The Black Panthers (like the Weathermen and the other 1960s movements of Marxist totalitarian terrorists) were evil.

    People who defend them, just indicate that they are evil also.

  25. Given what is usually said about me, it’s always refreshing to visit a forum like this and get accused of being an evil commie.

  26. This is an old documentary about the New Left made by a John Bircher-like right-wing group in 1970. Watching this, I found myself agreeing with most of what the commies were saying about the U.S. empire, and also agreeing with most of what the right-wingers were saying about the commies. It’s not a question of either/or.

  27. As I said in my earlier post, I share the criticisms of the lunatic Maoist/Castroist ideology of groups like the BPs and WU. I also think these some of these groups would have been extremely dangerous if they’d accumulated genuine control over state power, particularly the Maoists sects that destroyed SDS like the WU, RU, and PLP. Case in point:

    But they never came even remotely close to that. Meanwhile, the militant opposition to the Vietnam War and the domestic police state of these groups were genuine issues. Somebody had to do it.