Tuesday, 29 November 2016

The State of the Left

Fidel Castro, the brutal, repressive, psychopathic, murderous Communist dictator of Cuba, is dead. His death has, like the deaths of other public figures, thrown the Left into sharp and sudden light, in the typical response arising from them, which can be pretty much summed up as, 'those human rights abuses were a bit nasty, but Cuba's got a great healthcare system!'

I would invite anyone thinking along those lines to stop and think very carefully about what you're doing. By making such blithe statements, you are effectively saying that the oppression, torture and murder of nearly 100,000 people is justified because the end result is a State-owned healthcare system. Which, according to the World Health Organisation, isn't even all that great.

This attitude typifies the present state of Left-wing politics, and neatly explains why they are on the run. A Tory majority in the UK. Brexit. Right-wing, even far-right parties on the rise across Europe. Donald Trump. A cultural fightback against Social Justice Warriors and Generation Snowflake. All of this points to an ideological movement which is totally disconnected from the inbuilt sense of morality that most people feel.

The Left in Britain, at the moment, can be grouped into several tribes:
  • Cultural Totalitarians - these are the radical feminists, the Social Justice Warriors and the Perpetually Offended Brigade. They claim to be culturally liberal, but they are actually precisely the opposite. Their hierarchy is organised by a structure of grievance based on how much discrimination they each receive from the Patriarchy (tm), an imagined international conspiracy of white men who seek to control them. They organise themselves based on skin colour, gender (of which they have invented approximately 23), sexual orientation (behold the multitudes which overlap with gender) and disability. They are very diverse in appearance, but are fundamentally intolerant of diversity in the only way that it actually matters - diversity of thought. Their entire ideology stems from the assumptions that all men, particularly white men, are evil, and that society is controlled by men for the benefit of men, and they absolutely despise having those assumptions challenged. They are enthusiastic about immigration because they see it as a method of diluting the authority of the White Man (tm);
  • Hard Left - these are the likes of John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn. They're usually quite privileged in terms of background, well-educated and reasonably wealthy, and see themselves as champions of 'the poor'. Their entire worldview is focused by the lens through which they view it - and that lens is a pure, unqualified hatred of capitalism, Western foreign policy and in particular, the United States. They are, in effect, socialists and communists - they detest the idea of markets, and prefer State command economies. They despise Western foreign interventions, claiming it to be imperialism or quasi-fascism, but won't shirk from lending their support to actual fascists, as long as they are anti-West. They'll support Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, Vladimir Putin's Russia, the IRA, Cuba, Venezuela and North Korea, as long as they are anti-America and anti-West;
  • Nationalist Left - these are working class voters, living mainly in the North of England, who have historically voted Labour but are now increasingly moving across to UKIP. They are culturally conservative, being either disapproving or ambivalent about things like immigration, gay marriage and international institutions. They believe in a redistributive State, and think that punitive taxation is appropriate for high earners. They think that the State should have a role in organising industry, and lament de-industrialisation and globalisation, which have robbed them of their livelihoods. They tend to be passionate about nationalism, be it either British (they may obsess about wearing poppies, 'supporting our troops' etc.) or potentially Scottish. The only thing that has historically caused them to vote Labour is an ingrained hatred of the Tories, a toxic legacy left over from the closure of coal mines and other economically non-viable industries. In Scotland, one of the greatest insults that can be deployed by them is 'Red Tory';
  • Bleeding-Heart Liberals - a better name might be 'soft left', these are a cross between the Hard Left and the Pragmatic Left. They usually arise from the same social class, i.e. reasonably well-off, maybe privately educated, tend to work in the public sector and think with their hearts, rather than their heads. They're not necessarily opposed to military action if it's for a good cause, and generally oppose benefits cuts, because they like the idea of a system that sets out to help the poor. Note that they're not usually concerned with the detail of whether it actually helps the poor or not, but they like the idea. They are the hand-wringers, the 'think-of-the-children'-ers, the petitioners, the people who demand that 'something must be done', which usually means they think that the Government ought to do something about it. They're more likely to be vegan, spiritualist but not religious (whatever that means), and like peace, harmony and the avoidance of most nastiness;
  • Pragmatic Left - a centrist group of moderates that generally believe in things like free trade, cultural liberalism, international institutions like the UN and the EU, and fiscal pragmatism. They're not averse to borrowing money to invest, but are also reasonably aware of the need for states to balance the books once in a while. National borders are irrelevant to them, and they find nationalist sentiment is distasteful. They tend to be quite individualist, probably went to university, and don't live anywhere near their parents. In Britain, they could easily be at home in David Cameron's Conservatives, or Tony Blair's Labour. They're probably atheist, and don't like football. They are unconcerned about immigration.
Up until Tony Blair's resignation in 2007, the British Left were pretty much governed by the Pragmatists, but they only held high office because they could put together a big enough coalition of voters, i.e. most of the above, plus a few Centre-Rights who held their noses. The problem the Left has is that, over the last 10 years, they have allowed their centre of gravity to drift further up this spectrum, to the extent that it is now an alliance of Cultural Totalitarians and Hard Left fruitcakes who are in charge. This mix proves utterly toxic to the general public.

To be fair, some of the Pragmatists and Liberals are confronting this, but with very little success. The attempted coup against Corbyn was a disaster - he was re-elected with a greater share of the Labour membership's vote than before. The Nationalist Left have drifted across to UKIP or the SNP. The remaining Leftists have tolerated (and continue to tolerate) the vacuous blatherings of these extreme nutcases. And therein lies the problem.

Throughout the 1950s, 60s and 70s, the Right were the authoritarians. They were the ones who were telling people what music they couldn't listen to, what films they shouldn't watch, what opinions they ought to hold, what books they shouldn't read. The response was a counter-cultural revolution, with its roots in Left-wing activism and a rejection of Establishment authority. The Left won the culture war. Except they didn't. Libertarianism, in the cultural sense, won it. The Left were simply hanging onto its coat-tails.

Now, the Left is the Establishment. It is the Left telling people what they shouldn't say, or read, or watch, or listen to, for fear of it being 'offensive', or 'problematic', or any other such bollocks. They are the ones demanding books be banned from university campuses. They are the ones silencing dissent online. And Libertarianism is on the march, again. Only this time, it is the Right which is having it's own counter-cultural insurgency.

The problem with Leftism at the moment is that it has a tendency to shout people down and try to dictate what opinions they ought to have, branding people racists, sexists, homophobes, misogynists and every other -ist or -phobe they can think of. They'll insult people to close them down, rather than confronting their ideas, because they are afraid that in a fair debate, they'll lose. Deep down, they know that their ideology is on it's arse. But their magic insults have lost their power. The Right are pushing back. The response to the shrieking, 'I'm offended!' is now biscuits and laughter.

The other problem that they face is moral blindness. They allow their ideology in terms of how resources should be distributed or how society should be organised, to blind them to obvious and universal evils. They support Fidel Castro, because he adopted their preferred school of economic thought. Never mind the fact that he murdered thousands. They suggest that Mao 'did more good than bad', even though he was responsible for the deaths of millions. They support the IRA, because they wanted to bring down the British State, even though their modus operandi is the terrorising of innocent civilians. They support Hamas and Hezbollah, because they oppose the Israeli occupation of Palestine, even though they use human shields and try to blow up Jewish schools.

Put simply, the Left are currently on the side of people who condone murder, terrorism, censorship, stifling debate and elevating certain groups through special privileges. And that's why they're losing. And they will never gain power again, until they accept that they have lost those arguments.

Friday, 25 November 2016

There Isn't a Case for a 2nd Brexit Referendum

Both Tony Blair and Sir John Major have said that there is a case for a second referendum on whether we should leave the EU. Their reasons are:
  • We are sovereign people, and so we could change our mind;
  • We only voted on the principle, and not on the detail;
  • Government should not be organised on the tyranny of the majority;
  • There's no difference between a 'Soft Brexit' and staying in anyway.

This has been wildly leapt upon by Remoaners who are desperate to keep us in the EU at any cost as sure-fire reasons for a second vote. Here's my reasons why we shouldn't.

1. The EU and its supporters have past form on making countries hold referenda until they come to the right decision. Refusing to acknowledge the decision of the people is profoundly undemocratic. We could 'change our minds', but to be honest, it'd take a pretty seismic shift in public opinion to justify holding a second referendum. Anything else would look like naked political opportunism, which of course, it would be.

2. Many EU supporters claimed that we shouldn't be having a referendum in the first place, because it was too complicated an issue to be decided by ordinary people (translation: the plebs are too thick to vote the right way). So if a referendum on a general statement of direction (i.e. whether to stay in a quasi-federal union or not) is too complex, how on earth are us plebs going to cope with making a decision on a complex international treaty, which is the likely form that the Brexit deal will take? This position holds no logic whatsoever.

Referenda are useful democratic tools for providing direction, i.e. should Scotland stay in the UK, should the UK stay in the EU, should we change the voting system etc. What they are not very good for is working out fine details. That is better left to elected representatives. We had a referendum on the direction, and the direction was given. It is now up to Government and Parliament to work out the details. That's what we pay them for.

3. True, Government should not be based on the tyranny of the majority. However, neither should it be based on the tyranny of the minority, which is decidedly worse. However, the Government's approach is not majoritarian tyranny - it is actually attempting to build in the views of those who voted to Remain, by setting out its intention to either remain a member of, or retain access to, the single market. Concessions are being offered in the light of the fact that, although the Leave campaign won, it was a narrow victory. Similar efforts were made after the Scottish independence referendum. The No campaign won, but a sizeable portion of the Scottish electorate voted Yes. The consolation was a significant extension of devolutionary powers to the Scottish Parliament.

We aren't running the Government on majoritarian tyranny - if anything, the Government is trying to accommodate the views everyone. If anyone is being intransigent, it is the hard core Remoaners.

4. Whether there is a difference between 'Soft Brexit' and staying in the EU, is very much open for debate. It depends entirely on the detail, and there is not a simple binary option between 'hard' and 'soft' as many seem to play it. It depends on the outcomes of the negotiations, which are in the hands of our elected representatives.