The Question Concerning Ibn Khaldun, Machiavelli, and Carl Schmitt

Sometime next month (February 2018) I am planning to publish my fifth book. Here is some info presented as a conversation I am having with myself (I do that a lot!).  

What is the name of the book?  Controversy and Crisis: The Question Concerning the Unquestioned in Ibn Khaldun, Machiavlli, and Carl Schmitt.

What is it about? It’s about how Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406), Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527) and Carl Schmitt (1888-1985) rebelled against the political establishment in their thinking and about how right I think they were. I’m kinda shoe-horning my own beliefs into theirs but being faithful to their philosophy.

Explain the book in terms of the title: Key words are ‘question’ and ‘unquestioned.’ Every political authority – assuming it is the real authority – tries to remove questions from its rule. But under any form of government you will have losers and winners. The losers will question authority with the hopes of gaining power themselves. Invariably, authority must constantly adapt to changing political shifts and try to make itself unquestioned. So there are ‘controversies’ and ‘crises.’ The triumvirate are called upon to describe this basic phenomenon in politics.

Many writers on politics have addressed controversies and crises. How do your so-called ‘triumvirate’ differ from the pack?  Most other authors on political matters would approach the challenge of political disputes in two ways; either (a) disputes will always exist but can be domesticated, or (b) disputes can be done away with. Our triumvirate not only integrated questions into their discourse but they recognized the value of controversies and crises as a permanent and necessary feature of politics.

Who is the audience for the book? A well-educated readership, but not an academic one. I have tried to make the book as accessible as possible but it will be a challenging read in places. So, a mature audience who is prepared to read a few pages, put the book down and absorb what I’ve said, read on a bit more, etc …

Roughly how long is it? At the moment it is a little less than 250 pages, standard book size, about 250 words per page. It is relatively short.

Price? No one buys my books so I usually sell them at cost price, about $8.50 for paperback and 99 c for e-books.

This has been me in conversation with me. Further details over the next few weeks. I should have two more books after this out in quick succession as well. Stay tuned. 

Trumps NFL weekend smacks of political correctness

Welcome to PC world Donald Trump! Political correctness is silencing debate. One method of achieving this is casting doubt over the character of people expressing views you don’t like. This is what you did over NFL protests. You turned PC.

Instead of answering criticisms over police brutality, the higher than average chance of blacks being imprisoned or shot, and the general racial inequalities experienced by people of colour, what did you do? You went long and doubled down. Players protesting were SOBs, unpatriotic, against the military, disrespectful to the flag, and basically traitors. All false flags. 

No, they are not protesting the waving of a flag, or service in the military, or the national anthem. They believe there is institutional racism against blacks and are trying to change the culture of institutional silence and inaction on the matter.

Regretfully, your PC antics have had some effect. Players are being vilified because of your PC. You refused to tell your supporters that the US has problems with institutional racism. You refused to promote unity. You refused to state truthfully what the protests were about and lied as to what they weren’t about. 

You lied because you are a politically correct president spreading fake news.


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Nigel Farage in Dramatic Plea: Anglo-Saxons Come Home!

On his LBC show today, Nigel Farage made a dramatic plea, telling his listeners that it’s time for Anglo-Saxons in the US, Australia, and other regions of the globe to pack their bags and come back to Blighty. 

The former UKIP leader and MEP said that if the English want to stop migrants coming into the country, and if they also want non-white migrants to leave, then they needed to “bite the bullet” and “embrace the Elephant in the room.” He continued by saying that this bullet and elephant refers to the hundreds of millions of Anglo-Saxons who are descendants of migrants to the US and other regions of the world like Australia. The solution, Mr. Farage said, was to do a quick swop; non-Anglo-Saxons can leave the UK and go to the US, Australia, Canada, and other places, and Anglo-Saxon expats (numbering 200 million) can live in Britain.
Farage’s idea caused consternation on the airwaves. One listener, named Jeff, pressed the ex-UKIP leader on how this would work in practice. Farage quickly retorted: “Making things work is the responsibility of others. My job is to suggest silly things which are popular but impossible to implement. Look how famous my time wrecking the EU has made me!”

Farage drew guarded support from other listeners. A Mr. Hussain Khan said his parents were from Pakistan but had decided to name his first son Nigel Farage Paul Nuttall Khan in honour of the heroes of English nationalism. Mr. Khan yet expressed concern. “Might my skin-colour be a problem,” Mr. Khan asked, “or can I act as one of those token minority supporters who give racism a thin veneer of respectability?” Farage nodded, adding, “there will always be a place in my heart for people I don’t like.”

Farage’s comments also went viral on social media. The German AfD party, whom Farage gave a speech to last week, said it was going to make repatriation of the descendants of German migrants to the US part of its policy platform. They were hesitant, however, on whether this would include Donald Trump whose father was of German descent. A spokesperson said “his mother was Scottish and besides, we are confident he wouldn’t find Germany on the map.”

The plea of the ex-UKIP chieftain has met with unexpected opposition from fellow nationalist Katie Hopkins. In her column on The Mail Online, Hopkins bemoaned the fact that she would have no more non-whites to heckle. “It’s all well and fine for Nigel to build his celebrity brand promoting stupid ideas which are then taken up by politicians who should know better,” Hopkins lamented, “but some of us need poor and marginalized people around so we can piss on them.” 

LBC have refused to comment on Farage’s proposals, merely releasing a statement. One passage reads; “We here at LBC respect diversity of opinion. If someone says the Earth is 6000 years old, the only criterion for us at LBC is how many people will swallow this garbage to boost our ratings.”

BTW, this is pure fake news intended to make a real point! Most of you know that, but there always are some clowns.


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Were the Nazis Socialists?

National Socialism … does the noun identify the Nazis, or indeed Fascists, as Socialists? If you spend way too much time on Twitter like me, you will know that the stakes are deadly high on this question. Left-wingers react badly to this statement because it tarnishes them with the Nazi brush. By contrast, right-wingers, particularly those who are free-marketeers and reject State interventionism, relish the thought that Nazis and Communists share common ground. Its a neat characterization of the sociology of totalitarianism which distances them from xenophobic and toxic politics, but which also allows them to score points against lefties. It was famously asserted in von Hayeks outstanding book The Road to Serfdom.
But what is the truth of the matter?

A lot hinges on the question: what is a socialist? In a narrow, technical sense (or a broad, linguistic one), a socialist is someone who wants everyone in society, if not the world, to be political and social equals. Socialism is simply the process of making everyone the same. Granted, it is an aspirational state. Every socialist movement will have their elites and full socialization will never occur. But as far as it can be achieved, everyone should have the same education, health access, political voice, job prospects, family life, etc …

In a sense then, Nazis and Communists are alike. But this definition of socialist also includes utopians like Thomas More or Imperialists like Napoleon (who favoured universal education). It’s too broad to be useful.

In common day parlance, socialism refers to a less militant form of Communism. The adherents of socialism call for people of all nations, regardless of race or religion, to regard society as a co-operative endeavour. Socialism is less radical than Communism. For example, they are not outright anti-commerce like Communists, but believe in subordinating commercial interests to the greater good. Their methods differ fundamentally to that of Communists, their politics less so, but they are a horse of a different colour.

National Socialists, on the other hand, portray the world as a clash of cultures, with culture often synonymous with race or ethnicity. Commerce, and indeed all corporate interests, are subordinate to the State, and the State is in turn synonymous with the Volk. Any notion of socialism transcending peoples of all nations is non-existent in Nazi ideology.

In answer to the question, Nazis do not aim at socialism but at socialization within a nationalistic framework. They seek to make all members of the Volk the same but that is generally not the way we understand socialism. Are Nazis Socialists? I would say no.


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Tory Imitation of Corbyn a Sincere Form of Flattery

Tories are not only afraid of Jeremy Corbyn taking their seats and moving into a more upmarket London address. They are jealous of him and in awe of the social media and grassroots campaigns getting him closer to No. 10. Proof of this came in the shape of a Tory clone of Labour’s Momentum movement launched this week, called Activate. This complimented other efforts by Tories to pour their old wine into new bottles, another example that of Moggmentum (the equivalent of Dennis Skinner doing some word play on a movement led by Enoch Powell or Norman Tebbit). 

Tories may be incompetent buffoons when it comes to this organic growth sort of thing. But they do understand the growth a savvy social media technique fosters, in particular the links between a successful social media campaign and votes. The fact that Corbyn is an outsider underlines his success. For a party led by a traditional socialist, Momentum and other supporting acts offered a means of circumventing mainstream media coverage which is increasingly biased against old-school Labour. Aside from that, there are good reasons why social media is a source of political bonding, and hence political power. Sharing posts and interacting with like minded individuals boosts natural social ties. Having comments liked and shared gives a sense of importance. Memes allow everyone to share in a chuckle. In many ways, its similar to the Trump phenomenon, minus the fake news.

In theory, there is no reason why Tories couldn’t replicate the success of Momentum. Thatcher sold her vision of a de-regulated UK in the 1980s by appealing to the youthful desire to be free of restraint. Such a tack couldn’t be attempted now, however. To most youth, de-regulation means more expensive tuition fees and no job security. Corbyn’s message is hitting home and is a traditional Labour one. To counter, Tories need to appeal to the youthful zeitgeist. At the moment they lack the imagination to formulate a coherent narrative and only know what they don’t like. 

Activate is thus reduced to saying no! The first meme published on their Facebook page effectively says ‘no!’ to a Corbyn ‘Jez we can’ (apologies for making you cringe if you clicked on the link). Granted, Conservatives are the party of no, or at least the party of reluctant change. But they have to say ‘no’ while appearing to say ‘yes.’ (Like in this video released during the height of Thatcherism). Especially on the platforms of social media. Otherwise, they look like pre-Blairite Labour socialists of the 80s and 90s. And the votes will go the same way.


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Hypocrisy of Right-Wing Media Outrage Over Muslim Foster Carer

The Times reported this week that a Christian girl was placed in the foster care of a Muslim girl in the UK. Not only is it stirring controversy because foster children are supposed to be placed with carers of similar background; there are also allegations that the Muslim carer asked the girl to remove her cross, desist from eating pork, and transmitted negative comments about ‘Western’ women. 

The right-wing media have seized on this case. Headlines such as “Christian child forced into Muslim foster care” have meant that the discussion is not about broken homes, absentee fathers, or even the deficencies of the State. It has become (predictably) another opportunity for bashing Muslims. The tone of the debate is akin to anti-Jewish propaganda of yesteryear, where Christian children were alleged to have been abducted.

It’s not that there shouldn’t be public concern. Children should be placed with those of cultural compatibility. If that is not possible, then the parents ‘of last resort’ should be culturally sensitive. 

But, and this is the crux of the matter, what right do the Tory media have to lecture people on inter-community relations? Every week, there are lies, exxagerations, and de-contextualized reports, which have as their goal the demonizing of Muslims. Famous examples include a Sun front-page which (falsely) claimed a fifth of British Muslims support ISIS. A Daily Mail cartoon portrayed destitute Syrian refugees fleeing war as rats and terrorists. 

These are not isolated instances and there is a whole hate industry among right-wing commentators, politicians, and lobbyists in the UK. Their aim is that of forcing Muslims, through Goebbels like propaganda, to submit to ‘British values,’ a euphemism for Anglo-Saxon Protestant triumphalism. Curiously enough, part of that campaign involves controlling Muslim dietary habits by banning halal meat, a campaign of hypocrisy because Jewish kosher meat, killed exactly the same as halal, does not enter into the debate.

So right-wingers are basically no different from the woman in Tower Hamlets, in fact worse because they have public responsibilities. Right-wingers (whingers!?) will say it’s their legal right to speak freely (go back to your country if you don’t respect our values, etc …) If that’s the case, then the Muslim woman in question (who had no control over which children she receives in case the headlines make you believe otherwise) can speak freely about white women or control what is eaten in her house. See how unreasonable the British right-wing are?

In truth, the right-wing press have created an environment of hate. They are cry-baby bullies in the playground who engage in systematic intimidation. Do they stop and think about the psychological distress they cause Muslim children who have to live with their grotesque fabrications? 

Let’s paraphrase the Gospel (the Islamic Injeel) to them; they look at the splinter in the others’ eye, but don’t see the plank in their own. If they don’t like sectarian hatred, then they should do unto others. Otherwise, they look like buffoons. And the tragedy of broken homes deserves a better fate than being shoehorned into the UK right-wing Hate-apalooza.

[UPDATE (31/8/17): Since this post was published, court papers have revealed that the child in question did come from a partially Muslim background. Details of the case are more complex than first reported. There is also a controversy over pictures published by the Daily Mail in which a Muslim woman wearing hijab holding a child’s hand was photoshopped so that the woman was wearing a full face cover, the intention that of stirring racist attitudes.]


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Nazi Germany: Where Liberals and Racists Were Morally Equivalent

Nazis and Communists are so intertwined in the public imagination that vital differences between them get lost. One significant difference is how political opponents were dealt with. Communists in the USSR scythed down the opposition. This was in keeping with the transformative revolution. Nazis, on the other hand, dealt with opponents in a more nuanced way. True, they imprisoned and killed a not inconsiderable sum of enemies. But, in keeping with their more conservative revolution, Nazis used instruments of the previous liberal regime and kept many of the old guard around. In other words, Nazis allowed liberals to operate publicly and they followed the liberal Weimar constitution. Until the end of the war, Hitler went cap in hand to the Reichstag parliament asking for support, most notably for new Enabling Acts so he could govern under a state of emergency. All the while, there was vocal and organized opposition from liberals and increasingly disillusioned conservatives, the latter having supported Hitler initially.

Nazi Germany is a famous example of a country where liberals, and indeed moderates, were afforded moral equivalence with fanatical racists, nativist zealots, and militaristic thugs. The Nazis always claimed to be good democrats, merely using their legal and political rights to contribute to public discourse. After they seized power, they did not wipe out opponents as the Bolsheviks had done but engaged with them. Surely no major nation in the world in 2017 would repeat the mistakes of Nazi Germany and give liberals and racists the same public space?


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MYTHBUSTER: “America Fought WWII to Save the World From Fascism”

Recent events in the US have prompted anti-racism activists, and the general public at large, to highlight America’s role in combatting right-wing governments, particularly those it fought during WWII. Indeed, America exclusively fought against nationalistic powers across the globe from 1941-1945, reorganizing Germany, Italy, and Japan after the war. So the sentiment “America fought the war to defeat Nazis” or Fascism appears self-evident. It is an exxageration, perhaps even ‘fake news,’ because of its inaccuracy, though. That is not to downgrade the fact that the US opposed Nazi-Fascist aggression and aspects of Nazism. Here is the truth about Americas relationship with right-wing extremism during WWII but also before and after.

The key event of course is Pearl Harbour. It left the US with little choice but to declare war on Japan, a country it had already sanctioned. However, the US did not declare war on Germany until December 11th, 1941. That was after Germany declared war on the US. Before December 1941, the US had adopted a nuanced stance regarding the Nazis. Relations had cooled after the 1938 Kristallnacht. Roosevelt used his presidential prerogative to support the Allied cause. A clear moral distinction was made between the Allies and the Nazis, but also between the Allies and the Soviet Union (the USSR had attacked several countries during WWII), although the US slightly favoured the USSR (there were strong pro-Soviet sympathies in the cabinet and in the bureaucracy). Public opinion in the US favoured neutrality and was not ill-disposed to Hitler in the main. It must not be forgotten that the key US foreign policy was isolationism, as opposed to any ideological opposition to totalitarianism. The proof is that the US forged a long-lasting alliance with Fascist Spain because Franco respected international borders and managed his public perception in a way which made friendship viable.

Its also disingeneous to say that America existed in a completely different moral universe to Fascist/Nazis. During WWII, and for decades before and after, Jim Crow laws segregated whites and blacks across much of the US. Immigration laws were passed, notably in 1924. Their intention was to protect white majoritarianism and they also had an element of anti-Judaism paranoia. Furthermore, the extermination of the Indian natives offers clear evidence of American exceptionalism. Lastly, eugenics was popular as in Nazi Germany, having official backing in many quarters.

US policy after the war showed the true face of American policy towards right-wing governments. Fascist and tyrannical governments were supported from Chile to Vietnam to the Phillipines, although some were more acceptable than others. This was to counter Communist expansion, proving the primary US preoccupation was with international order.

In conclusion, America fought WWII out of necessity, not to defeat right-wing extremism. The US entered the war because it had war declared upon itself. It was prepared to work with Fascist regimes who respected international norms and overtly demonstrated this support after the ink dried on surrender documents in 1945.


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How the Far Right is Closing its Credibility Gap

Alt-right is a euphemism for Nazism, Fascism, nationalist extremism, and White Supremacism. But it is proving to be a successful sleight of hand. Beyond this re-branding, the extreme right are re-booting their nativistic and socialistic approach for a more liberalistic and therefore more acceptable method. This will now be explained.

Traditional far-right politics makes an appeal to blood and soil, either to race or national territory. In an era like the 1930s, this had purchase. Few people travelled outside their home country. A journey to a far-off land meant emigration. And save for concentrations of Jewish people in large cities, there would have been little contact with minorities. The outside world was known via letters from emigrants (who would have generally lived in their own immigrant ‘bubble,’ eyeing other immigrants suspiciously), Hollywood stereotypes, and even more stereotyped depictions of foreigners via news outlets.

We now live in a globalized world, however. Even the most remote villager in the Western world will have encountered people from a vastly different culture. And who hasn’t travelled to a far-flung land? Information on other cultures is obviously more informed than it once was, although it still falls prey to bland stereotypes. Furthermore, non-white figures like Gandhi, Mandela, and Muhammad Ali inspire many Westerners.

‘Blood and soil’ loses its lustre in such a world. How are the far-right to gain political power in this pluralist environment? The solutions of the extremists are three-fold and based on liberal premises. They say they are a colour of diversity, secondly, that they are concerned with ‘health and safety,’ and lastly, they use economic arguments.

The first pluralist component of their re-booting is to draw equivalence between themselves and their rivals. David Duke, the ex-grand wizard of the KKK, began this fightback in the 1980s by claiming that whites want to celebrate their culture like blacks. White power is the same as black power. Another tactic is to use terms like ‘alt-left’ or ‘liberal fascism.’

Secondly, the health and safety arguments (probably their strongest card). Often when immigrants arrive somewhere, they find it hard to integrate and be accepted. They are usually met with hatred. Look at the experiences of the Irish, Italians, and Jews in the US a hundred years ago. So, it’s inevitable that some turn to crime. Then, the contributions of the many are downplayed, while the criminal actions of the few are magnified. The far-right emphasizes more and more its protectionist policies; they are only trying to guard us from the wolves at the door (never mentioning the crimes of their own kind).

Then, there is the economics. This is a weak argument on paper. Study after study shows that immigration has net benefits economically. Notwithstanding this, Brexit has shown that economic good housekeeping can get buried because many want to believe immigrants take jobs, scrounge off welfare, and generally get treated with kid-gloves. People often lose their jobs, fall on hard times, or face pressure financially. Immigrants and non-whites are then scapegoated.

This is how the far-right is now operating. T
hose wanting to pull down the monuments of blood and soil have to zero in on the essentially racist and tribalistic tactics of the far-right. The far-right don’t care if people are killed in a rampage. They don’t care if women are assaulted.  And they don’t care about non-progressive attitudes. They only care what skin-colour the assailants have or whether those with non-progressive attitudes are from their culture or not. The fresh lick of paint must be scraped from the re-branded Fascist livery so their true colours are revealed.



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Why Fascists aren’t Always Racists, and Other Thoughts

A disgraceful display of white supremacy, Nazism and Apartheid occurred over the weekend in a sleepy town in Virginia, an incident compounded by the seeming inability by the office-holder of the US executive to categorically denounce the marchers. Such demonstrations are, simply put, sinful. But it’s not the purpose of this blog post to rake over events which all right-thinking men and women denounce. It’s simply to give the facts about certain terms being bandied about, in the hope that such information can help people of conscience fight the insurgency from extreme right-wing forces who are gaining ground and legitimacy across the world.

In particular, persons of conscience should distinguish between Fascism and National Socialism. A key difference is that Fascism is not necessarily racist, as opposed to Nazism. Mussolini, the archetypal Fascist, curried the support of minorities, for example. Franco used Moroccan soldiers to overcome the Republicans. Nazism, on the other hand, is inherently race based. 

So, Fascism … how can we understand it? It is a complete subordination of all the forces in society to a national, as opposed to a racial, ideal (although racists are drawn to both). In one sense, it differs little from Communism because all authority emanates from the State, although the Fascist State is ruled over by a charismatic authority figure as opposed to a workers’ dictatorship. The key distinction between Fascism (and indeed Nazism) and Communism is not the method of rule, but rather the interpretation of the State’s role. This is further based on an interpretation of humans in either natural or historical terms. In Communism, the State is seen as a necessary evil, useful for steering people towards a natural state, where they are liberated from neccesity. Fascism/Nazism views the State as the realization of a people’s historical destiny. But, crucially, Fascism doesn’t limit such destiny within racial parameters. Lastly, myth is critical for extreme right-wingers because it generates heroes and monsters. 

So, if Fascism is not racist (at least not fundamentally), why should we be against it? The reality is that Fascism is mob-rule, which dehumanizes the ‘other.’ However Fascists define their national identity, they believe that the people’s will embodied by ‘the chosen one’ can legitimize any evil. They exalt negative characteristics of people above noble ideals. And they imvariably look for scapegoats and outsiders to beat up on. 

Fascists and Nazis are becoming increasingly bullish and sophisticated. People of conscience have to use their nous, as well as their wits, to defeat this. The representatives of compassionate conservatism and the ‘true right’ should especially stand up and object to those who cloak their sinfulness in the garbs of sacredness and tradition.


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