Archive for Books

Review: The Real Right Returns: A Handbook for the True Opposition

rightreturnsPaperback: 138 pages
Publisher: Arktos Media Ltd (1 Oct. 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1910524492
ISBN-13: 978-1910524497

Let’s start with what I like about this book! Counter Culture has for years stressed the importance of metapolitics. For those not familiar with the term The Real Right defines it as:

“the process of disseminating and anchoring a particular set of cultural ideas, attitudes, and values in a society, which eventually leads to deeper political change.
This work need not – and perhaps should not – be linked to a particular party or programme. The point is ultimately to redefine the conditions under which politics is conceived”.

The ‘Metapolitical Dictionary’ toward the back of the book also defines metapolitics:

“Metapolitics is about spreading ideas, attitudes and values in a society, with the long-term goal of effecting a deeper political change.”

The authour, Daniel Friberg, acknowledges that the Philospher who first expressed this concept was the Marxist theoretician Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937). Like me Daniel Friberg cites the influence of his Prison Notebooks (Quaderni del carcere) on his thinking.

One of the key concepts dealt with in the Notebooks is that of cultural hegemony. Gramsci questioned the classical Marxist concept of base/superstructure. For classical Marxists the base comprising the forces and relations of production—employer–employee work conditions, the technical division of labour, and property relations determined society’s other relationships and ideas, which represent its superstructure. Gramsci split Marx’s superstructure into two elements: political society and civil society. Political society is the organized force of society (the police, courts and military for example) while civil society is the consensus-creating element of society that contributes to hegemony. Political society dominates directly and with force whilst Civil Society relies on persuasion and dominates culturally. Gramsci emphasised that attaining cultural hegemony came before the establishment of political power.

There is a clear and concise explanation of the view expressed in the Notebooks in the Return of the Real Right:

“In this work Gramsci claimed that the State was not limited to its political apparatus. In fact it works in tandem with the so-called civil apparatus. In other words every political power structure is reinforced by a civil concensus, which is the social and psychological support given by the masses. This support expresses itself in the assumptions which underlie their culture, worldview and customs. In order for any politcal ideology to maintain its grip on power, it must support itself by establishing and disseminating these cultural assumptions amongst the masses.” (p.22)

The ‘New Right’ on the Continent have drawn inspiration from this theory. Here in the UK some Nationalists in the 80s became aware of these ideas through both the original work of Gramsci and in translations of New Right thinking provided by The Scorpion, a magazine edited by Michael Walker.

The Real Right Returns looks at the application of metapolitics by the New Right in Sweden. The consideration of the role of the think-tank Motpol (founded in 2006) is fascinating. The book also acknowledges the key role of GRECE.

The Real Right returns takes a positive stance on ethnic pluralism which while emphasising loyalty to the nation advocates good will toward and co-operation with others. It condemns those warmongers who seek to impose values on other peoples.

The authour also recognises the move of the ‘Left’ away from class politics to both the cult of the individual and to an emphasis on particular identity politics.

There is an interesting analysis of the link between this and consumer capitalism.

So far, so good. Where I start to part company with the authour (and to be fair, much of the’New Right’) is the insistence of drawing values and points of orientation from a narrowly ‘traditionalist’ perspective. Perhaps it is inevitable that the starting point of a reaction to the “fragmented and relatavised reality” (p.19) we live in will be to look for the certainties of the past.

In The Real Right returns this is particularly evident in the advice given on gender roles and asides about the ‘LGBT’ lobby. Let me give just one example. Advice is given to men that they should learn self-defence (sparring is rightly emphasised). No such advice is given to women who, in keeping with the ‘traditonalist’ model are pointed to finding a protective male. I have a number of problems with this: protective males aren’t that common (as the authour bemoans); it is seldom a good idea to rely purely on others for protection; why should an ideological leaning trump the need and right of a woman to train for self-defence? Both my Son and Daughter go to self-defence lessons. We live in a wild, wicked world and we need to think about what ‘is’ as well as what ‘ought’ to be.

The Real Right Returns presents the values of the new society, the new hegemony, to be established as fixed, rigid. Of course they aren’t. The study of dialectics might also be something we could draw from Marxism or, earlier, Hegel. Part of the process of creating a new hegemony will be the debate about what shape it will take.

It is unlikely that a simple reversion to past values will provide a solution. In rejecting many of the cultural assumptions of today will we arrive back at yesterday? I don’t think so.

The Real Right Returns throws down a challenge in its assertion of traditionalist norms. Many of our current norms are assumed and we need to think critically about them and alternatives. It will be a shock for some to see these views expressed so well and forcefully but sometimes it is no bad thing to experience a cold shower! It certainly made me think. I was surprised by how far traditonal values resonated with me and also where I didn’t follow them. I have had a similar experience with the advice offered to families by Pope Francis (a man who is less strident, though no less ardent, than Daniel!).

This is a book which deserves to be widely read and considered.

Reviewd by Patrick Harrington

Daniel Friberg, MBA, is CEO of the Swedish mining corporation Wiking Mineral and was a founding member of the Swedish metapolitical think tank, Motpol. He has a long history in the Swedish opposition, and was one of the founders of the publisher Arktos.

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A Spy Among Friends, Philby and the Great Betrayal

philbyThe history of Kim Philby, the KGB agent at the heart of British Intelligence, has often been told before but what makes Ben Macintyre’s book eminently readable is that it approaches the story from a fresh angle. Macintyre seeks to shed light on Philby’s character by examining those closest to him, his friends, family and colleagues in the Intelligence Service all of whom he would ultimately betray.

Central to the story is Nicholas Elliot. Like Philby, he is an ex-public school boy, (Elliot is an Old Etonian and Philby attended Westminster School). Both men live to an extent in the shadow of successful but somewhat remote fathers. Wartime work for the secret services brings them together and the charismatic Philby and Elliot become firm friends. Later in the war when the fledgling United States intelligence service arrived in London looking to learn from its longer established British counterparts, James Jesus Angleton, a figure that was to loom large in the post-war CIA and a staunch Anglophile of American-Mexican parentage who spent much of his early life in England, was also to fall under the spell of the magnetic Philby. By this time Philby had already been in the employ of the Soviet Union for a number of years having been recruited after becoming a communist at Cambridge University and having spent time in the radical political scene of 1930’s Vienna where he was to marry for the first time to an Austrian communist.
After world War Two Philby took up the prime post of the Secret Intelligence Service’s man in Washington and he soon became a star of the social scene around the new Central Intelligence Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation with which he liaised in its role as the American domestic counter espionage service. It is widely believed that it was Angleton’s influence that landed him this job and the two men regularly shared boozy lunches at which they discussed confidential matters with Angleton little realising that the information he was sharing with his good friend Philby was being passed on to the Soviet Union’s spymasters.

What might have been Philby’s eventual rise to the top of SIS was brought crashing down by figures from his past. Guy Burgess, an unstable individual who was part of the so-called Cambridge spy ring along with Philby, was posted to America after various drunken escapades in London. Becoming Philby’s house guest he further added to his record of disgraces including upsetting the wife of a CIA counter-intelligence chief at a drink sodden dinner party at the Philbys’ house. Then another Cambridge spy, Donald Maclean in the Foreign Office, was on the verge of being arrested, a development that could have led to the exposure of Philby himself. On learning that the finger of suspicion was pointing at their fellow Soviet agent, Philby and Burgess sought to warn Maclean with Burgess being recalled to London, (whether by accident or design has never been clearly established), and despite Philby’s injunction to Burgess not to defect along with Maclean, the two men disappear together behind the Iron Curtain.

As feared by Philby, the flight of Burgess and Maclean turned the spotlight firmly on him. While no definite proof could be found of his treachery, the circumstantial evidence was considerable. Missions compromised, agents lost, calamities that had befallen western intelligence that in one way or another could be linked to Philby. Under questioning he would admit nothing. His friends such as Elliot and Angleton leapt to his defence and there formed somewhat of a split between MI6 and the spy-catchers of MI5 over the question of Philby’s guilt or innocence, with MI5 being convinced of his guilt but lacking the evidence to prove it. The shadow of suspicion was too much to make his continued employment by SIS tenable and he was forced to leave and eke out a living working for an import-export company while trying to find work in his pre-war field of journalism. Although he was temporarily cut-off from his Soviet controllers, he was receiving aid from those convinced of his innocence and Nicholas Elliot was paying many of Philby’s bills.

The climax of this book comes in January of 1963. By this time Philby has been enjoying something of an upturn of his fortunes having survived near exposure of his espionage, including being named in Parliament as the “Third Man” in the Burgess and Maclean scandal. He is living and working in Beirut as a journalist and is also working as an agent of MI6, although not as an officer. He largely owes this position to the good offices of Nicholas Elliot. It was another figure from his past that was going to bring about his downfall and the chain of events that was to lead to a confrontation in Beirut between Philby and his long-time friend and defender Nicholas Elliot began not too far from that city.

In 1962 Flora Solomon, an old friend of Philby from university days and who also introduced him to his second wife Aileen, was attending a conference in Israel when she complained to Victor, Lord Rothschild, about Philby: “How is it the Observer uses a man like Kim? Don’t they know he’s a communist?” and went on to relate how Philby had attempted to recruit her as a communist spy in 1935. Lord Rothschild, himself a decorated former British intelligence officer, reported back Solomon’s denunciation of Philby to MI5 and for those still convinced of Philby’s guilt it was the final piece of the puzzle that proved he had an active link with Soviet intelligence. These revelations posed a dilemma for both the British security services and the government. The now Prime Minister Harold Macmillan when Foreign Secretary cleared Philby of being a spy when he was named in Parliament and another spying trial after the George Blake case could seriously harm the government. Could Philby be lured back to London? Should he be kidnapped? Or perhaps assassination would be the solution? All these options were considered and rejected in favour of a good old-fashioned British compromise: Philby would be offered immunity from prosecution in return for a confession that he had spied for the Soviets but that he had not done so since 1949, (the choice of this cut-off point a sop to the Americans so that his period in Washington was somehow espionage free and thus his treason only a matter for the British to deal with), and his full co-operation with MI5. To the consternation of MI5, the man to be sent to Beirut to deal with Philby was not going to be one of their men but Nicholas Elliot of MI6.

Elliot arrived in Beirut in January of 1963 and interviewed Philby in a safe flat in the city. Their conversations were taped although the recordings contain a lot of background noise from the street outside. They duelled in a very civilised way over tea initially but despite Philby trying to call on their old friendship, the game was up and he knew it. Over a four day period he made partial admissions of guilt but also held back on the whole story. After Elliot’s departure Philby set in motion his defection to the Soviet Union. The book concludes with an account of Philby’s less than idyllic later life in Moscow, and a fascinating afterword from John Le Carre in which he recounts his conversations with Nicholas Elliot.
“A Spy Among Friends” is a well-researched and extremely readable book. Ben Macintyre has done an excellent job of portraying the characters and times involved in the Kim Philby story. The bonds of social class and club may seem anachronistic in 2015 but they played a real part in the lives of people in Philby’s era. There are still questions that the reader is left with such as why was Philby not monitored in Beirut after Elliot’s departure? Did the British establishment secretly wish him to defect as a less embarrassing alternative to having to put him on trial? Alas, until the files of the respective security services on both sides of the old Cold War are fully opened we shall not know.

Reviewed by Andrew Hunter

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TRIGGER WARNING

triggerwarning cover

Trigger Warning: [free speech and offensive language]. This review contains strong racial and sexual slurs, discussions of –isms, or hatred of any kind (racism, chauvinism, classism, sexism, body-image shaming)

WHAT you have just read is a ‘Trigger Warning’. Increasingly common, a Trigger Warning is a notice at the start of any piece of writing, or audio or video to warn would-be readers, listeners or viewers that something potentially upsetting or offensive is on its way. The underlying implication seems to be look away, do not read this, or turn off your radio or television set.

This modern innovation has inspired Spiked-online editor Mick Hume to write an impassioned polemic in defence of freedom of speech which he claims is under threat, mainly because many of us don’t want to offend anyone. His new book, Trigger Warning, claims that politeness or fear of causing offence is undermining the hard-won rights of freedom of speech and thought that we like to think are the foundations of our society.

The Islamic gunmen who attacked the office of Charlie Hebdo acted not just as the soldiers of an oldish Eastern religion but also as the armed and extremist wing of a thoroughly modern Western creed… a creeping culture of conformism. The cri de Coeur of these crusaders against offensive speech is You-Can’t-Say-That.

The gunmen who shot up the offices of Charlie Hebdo and a Copenhagen café just cut out the middleman in order to stop anyone reading the blasphemies in Charlie Hebdo or listening to a debate in Copenhagen on the nature of free speech and blasphemy.

Reverse-Voltaires

Western culture seems to have fallen out with its own core value of free speech. The author brands the crusaders in question as ‘Reverse-Voltaires’. The famous phrase, attributed to the French freethinker had him saying, “I disagree with what you say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” Hume’s Reverse-Voltaires in effect say, “I know I’ll detest and be offended by what you say, and I will defend to the end of free speech my right to stop you saying it.” They don’t wish to debate or dispute arguments that they find offensive. They would deny the other person’s right to say it in the first instance. The author’s charge is that these Reverse-Voltaires’ personal emotions and feelings come first. They want to be protected from words.

What has happened to the West’s liberal lobby in defence of free speech? They still speak up for oppressed dissidents in other parts of the world but at home, too many professed ‘liberals’ have gone over to the other side and want to restrict the ‘wrong’ kinds of speech. To many, censorship even seems cool.

Under King William III of glorious, pious and immortal memory, the need lapsed in 1695 for a Crown licence to publish anything. The recent Leveson Report called for a new State-sanctioned regulator to police press freedom. Even Shami Chakrabarti of Liberty gave public support for a new Royal Charter to limit press freedom.

Hume notes sadly that the remaining Pythons – who thirty-five years ago fought massive battles against Mary Whitehouse and quite a few Church of England bishops in order that everyone could go to see The Life of Brian – have effectively switched sides and joined a secular crusade for less press freedom. Illiberal liberalism now rules the roost so that black activist Jasper Lee rejoiced in closing down the controversial Exhibit B at the Barbican with the claim that censorship was a blow for free speech.

Today, free speech is attacked in the name of defending rights and freedoms. Even worse, there is now a blurring of the line between public and private spheres so that recently a large number of public figures and celebrities were monstered for thoughts expressed in private phone calls, texts or emails that were leaked, often by former friends or partners. As Brendan O’Neill of Spiked magazine put it, “there is surely only one solution to the alleged scourge of people saying bad things in private – put a telescreen in very home to capture our banter and alert the morality police to the utterance of dark or daft thoughts.” just as was the case in Orwell’s 1984 where people were encouraged to shop colleagues, neighbours and even family members. In 1984, Orwell’s Thought Police didn’t just punish those guilty of thoughtcrime but served to encourage others to practice ‘crimestop’ – the faculty of stopping short before embracing any dangerous thought.

Historical context

Hume puts the importance of freedom of thought and free speech in its historical context in a short outline of free-speech heretics, something we as Dissenters and Non-Conformists know – or ought to know – well. The right to freedom of expression and conscience was not handed down to us as a gift from the gods or from kings and aristocrats as an act of condescending beneficence. It had to be fought for and defended, over and over again.

We have heard a lot about Magna Carta in the past few months, given that its 800th anniversary was recently celebrated in great style. It did have a genuine role against arbitrary state power by establishing the idea that the Crown is not above the law and that free men have certain rights, most notably the right to trial by a jury of their peers. However, the Magna Carta had nothing to say about freedom of speech in a society where serfs were virtually owned body and soul by the lords of the manor.

After William Caxton introduced the printing press into England in 1476, the Crown sought to control it under a system of licensing. Today’s attempts to muzzle and control the internet are not entirely unprecedented. Nothing could be published without permission of the Star Chamber. Any criticism of the Crown was branded as treason or seditious libel.

One early free-speech martyr was the Greek philosopher, Socrates who, mirroring present-day Britain and America ‘just went too far.’ He was accused of corrupting the morals of Athens youth by saying things that ought not to be said. He replied that even if they went to spare him, he would keep on saying the unsayable and asking forbidden questions. Socrates posed the question; should there be a right to be a heretic?

As Hume notes, notions of heresy change as society changes in history. ‘Heresy’ is a label stuck on you by someone else. “From the trial of Socrates to today the big battles have been about the right to go against the grain, dissent from respectable opinion and question the unquestionable.” – in short, the right to be offensive.

In an age when many people dismiss religion as repressive and reactionary, Hume reminds secular readers that William Tyndale whose struggle to publish the Bible in English ended in fiery martyrdom, as well as the other religious heretics, came up against the censorious power of the political authorities. Their demands soon melded into calls for press freedom.

In 1689, after the Glorious Revolution which brought the immortal King Billy to the throne, the Bill of Rights wrote freedom of speech and debate into English law for parliamentarians. The system of Crown licensing for printers and publishers ended in 1695. The philosopher John Locke argued in A Letter Concerning Toleration against the State interfering in matters of conscience or faith but three centuries later, the government is still at it.

Up until the last few decades, liberty of expression and free-speech had widened in the UK. The last prosecution for blasphemous libel was in 1977 when Mary Whitehouse took a private case against Gay News for a poem she didn’t like. The offences of blasphemy and blasphemous libel were abolished in 2008. However, Hume argues that this has been replaced by a form of ‘blasphemy-lite’ – the new censorship of ‘hate-speech’.

Proponents of old orthodoxies now find themselves in the dock – often literally. This might make some folk smile a ‘slap-it-into-you’ wry smile but as Hume remarks, heresy-hunting still threatens free-speech even if the person on the receiving end is a bigot. Today, a myriad of unofficial and shifting speech rules and codes apply and woe betides anyone who falls foul of them.

The internet front

In China and Turkey the State authorities are open and honest that they censor opinions that they don’t like. But the internet is today a major front in the silent war on free speech. Here in the West we don’t censor in order to enforce political repression – perish the thought – but to protect the vulnerable against harmful and hateful words.

We hear a lot in the media about internet ‘trolls’ although there is no firm definition of the term. This hasn’t prevented a government minster threatening to quadruple prison sentences for writing words based on a shaky definition of what a troll actually is.

Some people on the internet are really horrible but ‘trolls’ have just as much right to say what somebody else doesn’t like as anyone else. Like everyone else, however, they have no right to be taken seriously. In case anyone was wondering, threats of rape, violence or murder are already illegal, so no new anti-trolling laws are necessary. Not only words, but the context in which they are used should determine the credibility or otherwise of any alleged threat.

The rise of the troll has led to the emergence of professional self-appointed ‘troll-hunters’ who seek to track down and punish these people. One recent tragic case concerned Brenda Leyland who killed herself after she was exposed on television as the women who posted a serious of online accusations against the parents of a missing child.

Another threat to internet free-speech emerged after a 2014 European Court of Justice case on ‘the right to be forgotten’. This led to a pianist demanding that the Washington Post take down a three-year-old critical review of one of his concerts and many others seeking to cast stuff about their past into an Orwellian memory hole.

Universities

Two centuries ago, the poet Percy Shelley was banned from Oxford in 1811 for publishing The Necessity of Atheism. Today, universities are all supposed to be about the search for knowledge, truth and free expression; what Disraeli called, ‘a place of light, of liberty and of learning.’ That’s no longer true in the US or in the UK where often students fight for freedom from speech. Berkley University in 1964 was where students founded the Free Speech Movement. By a twist of irony, students at the same university petitioned to ‘disinvite’ the comedian Bill Maher in order that they might feel safe.

Bizarro World has come alive in many universities so that self-professed liberals or radicals are in the forefront of campus censorship campaigns. In recent cases, people have been told that ‘people who do not have uteruses’ have no say on the abortion debate and various speakers have been banned under widening cowardly and reactionary ‘no platform’ rules. Once it was ‘no platform’ for racists and fascists. Now it is ‘no platform for racists, fascists, Islamic extremists, Islamaphobes, rappers, comedians, Israelis, climate-change deniers, Christians, atheists or UKIP members. Hume says that this would be better phrased as ‘no arguments’ as their proponents refuse to countenance any ideas other than their own.

Hume excoriates the use of ‘Safe Space’ and ‘Free Speech Zones’ in many US universities which restrict opinions to the zone and make them off-limits everywhere else and turn the rule into the exception.

Trigger warning migrated from a therapeutic took to help sufferers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to many books on the university syllabus and even to things like Downton Abbey. This misuse undermines two freedoms; the right to speak or write what you want or the right to read, listen to, or watch what you want.

Football and comedy

Free speech is for (allegedly) fat and (mostly) white, male, working class football fans too.” In recent years, as money has poured into the game, there has been an attempt to ‘socially cleanse’ football terraces of its working class fan base, ostensibly to make the game more acceptable to the middle classes and ethnic minorities and more ‘family friendly’. While the thought appals many folk, a large part of the appeal of the game is winding up supporters of opposing teams by singing offensive songs. In Scotland, this can get you locked up under draconian legislation which is supposed to outlaw sectarianism. People have even been fined for singing God Save the Queen.

Players find themselves hung out to dry too. John Terry from Chelsea Football Club was found not guilty in court of calling another player, Anton Ferdinand of QPR a ‘fucking black cunt’ but nevertheless was sentenced by the English FA to a huge fine of £220,000 and forced to undergo re-education in etiquette and speech codes because of his ‘racism’. He was cleared in court of any offence but treated as guilty anyway on the grounds that he ought to have been some sort of ‘role model’ to young impressionable football fans. In today’s society, role model rules overcome the principle of presumption of innocence until proven guilty.

Hume mourns the passing of the Jewish-American comedienne Joan Rivers. Loved and hated in equal measure, she never apologised to anyone who claimed to be offended by her acerbic brand of humour. Who, he wonders, will slay all those sacred cows now? The censors once were conservative politicians, policemen and priests. Now protests are led by illiberal liberals in the media, other comedians and activists.

The alternative comedians of the 1980s have created their own alternative comedic conformism. Most recent examples are the comic character ‘Dapper Laughs’, who was killed off by an illiberal liberal lynch mob. Interestingly, the West Belfast Festival, Féile an Phobail, is under pressure from some of the same circles to disinvite the Scottish comedian Frankie Boyle because they disapprove of some of his recent material. Nobody, Hume observes, “is against free speech for comedians. Until, that is, they decide somebody has gone too far in offending their own views and hurting their feelings.”

Many opponents of free speech borrow – and distort – an argument first aired by Judge Oliver Wendell Holmes in an American court in 1919 that people have no right to cry ‘fire’ in a crowded theatre. Holmes said that there was no freedom ‘falsely’ to cry fire in a crowded theatre. His ruling against a US socialist activist assumed that Schenk could be punished after the fact for what he wrote in a leaflet against military conscription in wartime. He didn’t try to prevent its publication beforehand as Gordon Brown’s government did with the controversial Dutch politician Geert Wilders when he was banned from entering the UK in 2009. That was prior constraint and State censorship of an elected representative.

This raises the question, who decides? How can we make an informed decision if we cannot hear what a person has to say? The fire-in-a-theatre argument has generalised from a specific set of circumstances in order to shut down ideas that the offended person doesn’t like and doesn’t want anyone else to hear. Hume offers another quotation from Holmes, made in 1929. “If there is and principle in the Constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other it is the principle of free thought – not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought we hate.”

Words will always hurt me

We used to recite a wee verse that “sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Today that has been turned on its head. Recently, Katy Hopkins – a B List attention-seeking celebrity motor-mouth who has re-invented herself as a professional troll – faced a petition to sack her from her Sun column because of ignorant and stupid comments she made about would-be migrants from North Africa drowning in the Mediterranean Sea. In fact there was more outrage and indignation over her shit-stirring article than there was over the actual deaths of would-be migrants.

Hume blames the rise of what he calls identity politics as a major cause of the modern outbreak of thin-skinnedness. When someone identifies with a particular identity group, they become fixed in it and will not accept any challenge to their worldview. It’s not only you-can’t-say-THAT, but YOU-can’t-say-that! The result of this is that we have privatised blasphemy and virtually criminalised criticism. Identity activists consciously and conspicuously go abroad in search of monsters to destroy. They look for something to be offended by. They stifle public debate by their insistence that speech is policed to protect hurt feelings of the few who claim to have been offended.

Taking offence has become the acceptable face of political censorship today. Of course, anyone is entitled to take offence at anything said or written by someone else but taking offence does not give them any right to take away that other person’s freedom of speech.

Hume attributes one ‘-ism’ as the most powerful factor in this outbreak of self-righteous umbrage – narcissism; I feel superior by my sense of outrage and offence at what these dreadful people are saying. It’s an outrage. It upsets me. It shouldn’t be allowed. The 2008 EU ‘hate-speech’ laws were drafted in order to promote tolerance and equality. One EU commissioner admitted that they were actually intended to “preserve social peace and public order” by protecting the “increasing sensitivities” of “certain individuals” who “have reacted violently to criticism of their religion”.

That went well, didn’t it? Hume argues that the hate-speech laws seem to have inflamed things by sanctioning the notion that offensive speech is a crime that ought to be suppressed or outlawed if it upsets someone, so speaking disrespectfully of Mohammed or of other Islamic symbols deserve punishment. By this reckoning, the murderers of the Charlie Hebdo staff privatised the penalty due for causing such offence. Thomas Jefferson argued that the State should keep out of religious disputes. “It does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are 20 gods on no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” Today people can be locked up or fined in the UK and Europe for expressing an opinion deemed insulting or offensive to someone else’s religion or identity group. Ask Pastor James McConnell of the Metropolitan Tabernacle in north Belfast, who is awaiting trial for a sermon in which he claimed that Islam was spawned in hell and was of the devil. It looks like the State will be wading into religious disputes in future, if somebody makes a complaint.

Liberals used to campaign for disadvantaged groups to share equality with the rest of us; not special privileges for a self-identified group. Anyone can be and has the right to be offended but not to use that feeling of offence to curtail the rights of the rest of us.

Mind your Ps – Qs – Ns & Ys

Hume recounts a Football Association dinner he attended that was entertained by the black American comedian, Reginald D Hunter, who told amusing stories of how soccer baffled ‘this nigga’. A huge media shitstorm saw Hunter pilloried for racist language and behaviour. The FA’s anti-racism lobby group, Kick it Out now ‘condemns racial slurs, irrespective of context’. According to this idiocy, Hunter calling himself ‘this nigga’ is just as outrageous as a Klansman shouting ‘lynch that nigger’ at him. Fans of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club have similarly found themselves in trouble for calling themselves the ‘Yid Army’.

A similar storm of outrage burst over the head of the award winning actor Benedict Cumberbatch in a January 2015 interview when he referred to ‘coloured actors’. Never mind that he was speaking out against racism. He used a slightly old fashioned term to describe people of colour and was denounced on both sides of the Atlantic for his use of these dreadful words of power. According to the theorists of ‘irrespective of context’ Cumberbatch might as well have gone around whipping slaves and forging new chains for them by reminding their descendants of the bad old days of segregation and slavery. He was forced to make a grovelling apology for his hate-speech.

We are entering a cultural age where people like Hunter, Cumberbatch, the Yid Army or any one of us can be sacked, censured or censored for saying the wrong word, regardless of where they said it or what they meant by it.

Liars and holocaust deniers

Hume describes the recent trend for people who question the dominant view or current orthodoxy to be branded as ‘deniers’. ‘Denier’ is a religious term just as ‘witch’ was in the seventeenth century. To brand someone as a denier alleges a moral failure. That person is not just wrong but has no right to be heard. You don’t debate with deniers; you shut them up or lock them up or burn them. That’s what happened to Michael Servetus who was burnt at the stake in Calvin’s Geneva in 1553. He denied the Trinity. In Scotland, Thomas Aikenhead was hanged in Edinburgh in 1697 for denying the Trinity and the deity of Christ. All questioned the unquestionable and denied the prevailing orthodoxy – the ‘accepted version of truth’. All were regarded as subversive, dangerous and morally debased.

Holocaust denial is now the biggest thoughtcrime in the West. It has become a crime in almost twenty countries in the past two decades since the Holocaust became transformed from a historical event into a pseudo-theological universal symbol of absolute moral evil that must be taught in schools. The best way to deal with such nonsense is not to shut it down by locking up its proponents but to expose its fallacies and errors to the light of day. It”s not as if there’s any shortage of evidence.

Like all heresy hunters, the defenders of orthodoxy don’t just want to silence their opponents but to punish them for their secular blasphemy. Denial is meant to be “a refusal to acknowledge an unacceptable truth or emotion, or to admit it into consciousness.” A ‘denier’ is someone refusing to acknowledge what everyone knows is the undoubted truth, not a sincere doubter but a despicable liar.

Similar terms are now being used to refer to persons who doubt the current orthodoxy on man-made climate change. As the debate is settled and the question closed such doubters should be silenced. This is contrary to the opinion of John Stuart Mill who wrote, “To refuse a hearing to an opinion because they are sure it is false is to assume that their certainty is the same thing as absolute certainty. All silencing of discussion is an assumption of infallibility. That’s for popes, not scientists.”

Elitists believe that the ‘sheeple’ – ordinary people – need to be protected from the media. Their lack of faith in free speech reflects and reinforces their lack of belief in humanity. Hume argues that this is the main reason why there was an official cover-up of the scandal in Rotherham where gangs of Asian men abused white girls with impunity. The story was not suppressed by the authorities for years because it was false but because it was true. Social workers and officials feared accusations of racism and that community tensions would be inflamed if the full truth came out.

Today those who think of themselves as enlightened often demand less free speech and want to restrict press freedom. The puritans of the past look like open-minded humanists compared with today’s misanthropic illiberal liberals.

The right to free speech is not sectional. It has to apply to everyone – no matter how obnoxious – or it becomes undermined for others. Once media freedom is made out to be a problem the ‘solution’ offered is more state intervention and regulation. Orwell wrote that “A genuinely unfashionable opinion is almost never given a fair hearing, either in the popular press or in the highbrow periodicals.”

The crux of Hume’s argument is that free speech is not the problem but that fear of it is. “Without fighting for the heretical right to offend against society’s consensus views and to question the unquestionable orthodoxies of the age, many of the great political, cultural, scientific or artistic breakthroughs that we now take for granted would have been hard to imagine.”

Reverse-Voltaires claim that we will gain is a safer, more civil society where people will have to respect each other. Hume argues that we are all in danger of losing the meanings of words. Rules and codes shift and narrow the terms of debate as Benedict Cumberbatch learned to his cost. In fact, they close down any chance of debate which prohibits any proper discussion on the important issues of the day.

David Kerr

Trigger Warning: Is the Fear of Being Offensive Killing Free Speech? by Mick Hume. William Collins Books ISBN978-0-00-812545-5 £12.99

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Generation Identity By Markus Willinger

generation_identity_front_1This book does not pull punches – it is a polemic. In fact it describes itself as a declaration of war “against the ’68ers”. Who are these ’68ers and why is a new generation so angry with them? It’s not a term we use a lot in Britain but on the Continent it is common currency. This generation is squarely blamed for the creation of an apolitical, self-destructive and atomised Europe. For us in Britain it means the soft, ‘right-on’ generation of some of our parents. Written in 41 easily digestible, short chapters this book is a call for youth rebellion against the values of that generation which shape our society today.

It’s a rebellion based on rejection. Rejection of a shallow multi-culturalism, of an economic system which has placed a generation in debt and of rootless consumerism and globalism. The rebellion asserts contrary values founded on tradition and heritage. It also emphasises mutual cultural respect and limits its ambitions to the European homeland. For ‘right wing’ Nationalists the sections dealing with the correct approach to foreign affairs, Islam and the Middle East conflict may be the most shocking as they indicate far more sensitivity and understanding than current manipulated opinion.

I don’t share the small ‘c’ conservative views of the author on abortion, relations between the sexes and sexuality but I recognise that others will see them as legitimate expressions of resistance to the current oppressive Zeitgeist. For me the sections dealing with these subjects were not as fully developed and thought out as others.

This is a passionate and inspiring book. It should provoke debate and discussion. The subjects it covers all point to the challenges we face as a culture. It should be a basic book for the education and development of any Nationalist. It stands as an accusation against the old generation and provides a voice for the new ‘Generation Identity’ that rejects their values.

If you want to understand the ‘Generation Identity’ movement which (naturally!) began in France and is spreading through Europe buy this book. If you want to understand the values that form the basis of the new youth rebellion buy this book.

For those who still uphold the tired old values of the ’68 generation it is both apposite and ironic to recall the words of Bob Dylan:

“Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Rapidly agin’
Please get out of the new one
If you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’.”

Buy the book here: http://www.arktos.com/markus-willinger-generation-identity.html

Reviewed by Pat Harrington

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My Booky Wook by Russell Brand

 

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I first became aware of Russell Brand when he was presenting Big Brother’s Big Mouth. I picked up on his impressive improvisation skills, persona, and well delivered catchphrases. I had a gut feeling that he would become a big star. Years later, I find myself reviewing his big-selling autobiography: My Booky Wook.

It turns out that before gaining all that exposure presenting Big Brother’s Big Mouth, he had worked as a presenter for MTV and even made a show for an obscure satellite TV channel that no longer exists, among other media related work as well as stand up gigs and small comedy shows above a pub.

I learned a hell of a lot from My Booky Wook and am very glad I read it. It charts Russell’s rise to success and bestows nuggets of wisdom that Russell specifically acquired from that experience and being a drug addict, a sex addict, and a manic depressive. I want to make clear, though, Russell doesn’t pathologise his manic depression. He takes no medication for the disorder, and instead sees it as a source of creativity, albeit one that comes with highs and lows.

One intriguing insight is when Russell explains how while performing he accesses a realm of intense creativity that enables him to find the right words to say. This is important because being eloquent and mind enchantingly articulate is one of his trademarks. He touches upon this aspect of his talent only briefly a couple of times. In one instance he talks about the power of finding the exact combination of words that will get him what he wants in situations requiring the art of persuasion. He is boldly open about how he has used this skill to bed a number of women.

He divulges vast amounts of information about his sexual conquests throughout the years starting from his early failures and successes and building up all the way to when he is bedding women so frequently that his associates decide that he needs professional help for sex addiction. In My Booky Wook, he documents his treatment in America for his sex addiction and he also documents in incredible detail his years of drug use as well as eventual recovery from this, most notably heroin.

While Russell succeeds in abstaining from the use of hard drugs with remarkable success where so many others fail, he does concede that he still has sex, and who can blame him?

Russell is a professional funnyman and he certainly managed to make me laugh out loud several times throughout the book. However, there were some very sad, even depressing moments in the book and he showed the respect the subject matters at hand deserved, showing a maturity that many people, I think, overlook. There are hints at his interest in politics at certain points and that indicates that his recent forays into political activism didn’t just come about on a whim.

Booky Wook is a must read for any aspiring performer, especially aspiring comedians, as Russell explains his own journey through the process of learning stand-up. He briefly mentions little bits of insight into learning acting, having studied at and been thrown out of stage school, and drama school, and those are fascinating, but he goes into far more detail about comedy and cites his main inspirations as well as the amount of effort he put into learning stand-up as his greatest craft.

Russell mentions many people by name which is a testament to how personable he is and has always been, giving props to every little good deed that contributed to his eventual success. Of course, due to his fragile state, and excessive drug use, he does rub a great many people up the wrong way in the formative years of his rise to fame and he shares a great deal of those sorts of escapades which at one point involves him getting his jaw knocked out of alignment by a bouncer!

Booky Wook is a powerful piece of literature that is a treasure trove of wisdom both directly and perhaps unintentionally.

Reviewed by Alistair Martin

 

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Review: 1985 – A Sequel to George Orwell’s 1984 by Gyorgy Dalos

1985bookcover

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This book begins with the unthinkable – the death of ‘Big Brother’. The orthodoxy of the totalitarian system is threatened by this, the ensuing power struggles and the near destruction of the Oceania air force by Eurasia. Using the characters and framework of Orwell’s classic, 1984, Dalos moves the plot further.

Elements of the Thought Police recognise the need for Perestroika (Reconstruction) and Glasnost (Openness). Leading secret policeman O’Brien explains:-

“Earlier during the rule of Big Brother… we were content if people were afraid of us. Today we want them to support us. And that without pressure – of their own free will and intelligently”.

O’Brien sees the need to “create a kind of public sphere – naturally under our control.”  The book gives two reasons for this: 


– to put pressure on Party cliques through public opinion
– to convert the functionaries of the Outer Party to the new policies required by changing conditions.

It is interesting to compare this thought process with what Gorbachev (himself a former KGB leader) attempted to practice in the former Soviet Union. As this book was first published in 1982 we should credit the authour with prescience.

The decision to create a “public sphere” inevitably leads to a number of consequences which O’Brien had not anticipated.

For political activists this book is very amusing. Written through the accounts of the different main players the accounts are highly subjective and often contradictory. The language parodies each character. The most amusing example of this was to my mind, the compromising survivor Julia Miller. Her writings use language to qualify and excuse. It reflects the logic of what she thinks is a dialectical process; in writing of O’Brien, for instance:-

“But it is a fact that O’Brien, so long as he was not ruled for a pathological greed for power, played a certain positive part in the beginning of our Reform Movement.”

This “misuse” of language is familiar to those of us who still read Marxist publications….

1985 is different from 1984 in many ways. There is more humour in 1985 and, to begin with at least, less of an all enveloping sense of evil. In 1984 you begin to believe that, as the Daleks would say, “resistance is futile”. In 1985, even O’Brien seems uncertain, worried and hesitant….

Reviewed by Pat Harrington

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Thompson Brings Noir To Belfast

Take Care Gorgeous by Alan Drew Thompson 

TAKE CARE GORGEOUS is the début novelette of Carrickfergus (Co. Antrim) based author Alan Drew Thompson. A fast paced often violent but sometimes sentimental affair that finally brings the noir genre to Belfast.

Set against the tough backdrop of 1950’s Belfast, the book introduces a new kind of local hero Inspector James Forsyth of the Royal Ulster Constabulary. A man who will bend the rules of authority in order to do what is morally right.

In the first instalment of a promised trilogy Forsyth finds himself tangled in a complicated web of murder, blackmail and shifting identities.

The story is set around a prominent member of Belfast society who finds himself at the centre of a blackmail plot involving an attempt to get a highly dangerous renegade Irish Republican released from the Crumlin Road Gaol in Belfast.

The exciting and unique feature of the story is that for the first time the writing styles of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler are set against the violent Belfast backdrop. The customary femme fatale is also on hand, this time a beautiful woman from West Belfast who bears a striking resemblance to 1940’s film noir legend Veronica Lake.

Fast paced, enjoyable with a twist in the tail Take Care Gorgeous left me desperate for more.

Thompson has promised that the sequel entitled Farewell Handsome will be released in the near future.

Reviewed by Lisa Thomas

takecare

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by Alan Drew Thompson
ISBN-13: 978-1500285371 is available from amazon.co.uk priced at £2.75
Also available on KINDLE price £1.53

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