Attempting to dissect Islamic terrorism.

Whenever there is an attack on European soil, immediately the cries go up. “Spread love not hate.” Or “Don’t let hate win.” It’s not only that this is hackneyed and does nothing other than foster the belief that we will somehow defeat nail bombs with pure emotion, but it is also likely to be based on an incorrect presupposition. Take this quote from page 135 Marc Sageman’s Understanding Terror Networks:

‘Social bonds are the critical element in the process and precede ideological commitment. These bonds facilitate the process of joining the Jihad through mutual, emotional and social support, development of a common identity and encouragement to adopt a new faith…. As in all intimate relationships, this glue, in-group love, is found inside the group. It may be more accurate to blame global Salafi terrorist activity on in-group love than out-group hate.’

Shall we change the slogans post-terrorist attack to – don’t let love win?

The argument that Sageman makes is that often recruits into radical organisations and their terrorist cells, come from isolated men and potentially women. The camaraderie and identity they find within the groups they find fulfilling. Once combined with an ideology that provides them with a higher purpose, one that goes beyond the current earthly plane, they can utilise both to perpetrate inhumane acts.

Where does this higher purpose originate from? Loosely based on Abdel Bari Atwan’s The Secret History of Al-Qa’ida, it originates from a Salafist interpretation of Islam. Salafism has a variance of belief, however amongst the likes of Osama Bin Laden and Ayman Al-Zawahiri it served as a return to what they perceived as the original Islam, practised by the Prophet and the first three generations that followed him. They believe that they were the only true Muslims and anything since has been a distortion, therefore any progress made or alteration in moral argument has been a dilution of the faith. It’s a form of hearkening back to the time when Islam conquered vast swathes of the world, when Muslims were a united community (the Ummah) and hadn’t been dwarfed and divided by inward fighting and the outward expansion of the West.

This is why ISIS want a return of the caliphate. The caliphate was last in existence in the Ottoman empire, prior to it being dissolved by Mustafa Kemal who created the nation state of Turkey, with the rest of the Muslim community of the empire being divided up into nation states along western lines. This is anathema to Salafists who see the splitting of the ummah along national lines as a betrayal of the true faith.

In my opinion modern Western values are incompatible with this austere version of Islam, it is also why Sam Harris and Maajid Nawaz will fail with their remedy of reforming Islam itself as a means to tackle the phenomenon. The very movement is a rejection of reform, including all the reform that has come since the inception of the thousand-year-old faith, in an attempt to rediscover pure Islam before it was cowed by the West. It is a religious revivalist movement based on identity.

Back to the concept of the Ummah. It is this concept that blows a hole in the fatuous belief that this phenomenon has nothing to do with religion and it has everything to do with foreign policy. If these Muslims did not see every Muslim in the world as part of a mass community identified via faith, they would not see the US attack on Iraq as an attack on all Muslims, as the Western bully throwing its weight around against the victimised Islamic world.  Whether people like it or not, Islamic identity is the base concept that threads its way through the lives of those that perpetrate terrorism in its name.  I’m not saying that real or perceived foreign policy outcomes from the undertakings of Western nations, specifically America, don’t play a massive part in the grievance mentality that we see in terrorists, they clearly do, but to say that it is all down to foreign policy and nothing to do with religion is dishonest. Without the concept of global religious community, foreign policy decisions wouldn’t motivate people born in Western nations to blow up tube trains.

From Mobilising Islam by Carrie Rosefsky Wickham, we see that Islamist movements largely have their ideological genesis in Egypt. Sayyed Qutb is recognised as a godfather of sorts for radicals. He was intensely anti American seeing the US as morally corrupt and heavily materialistic. His brother Mohammed Qutb was a mentor for Ayman Al-Zawahiri, the current leader of Al-Qaeda. This I’d wager is in part where bin Laden got his ascetic lifestyle from, fasting for a couple of days a week, rejecting a materialistic lifestyle, despite being a multi-millionaire, to live without worldly possessions on the mountainsides of Afghanistan, Sudan and Pakistan.

This ties me into a point that I would like to put forward. When it comes to America and the West in the eyes of jihadis, Western values and foreign policy seem to be conflated. When corruption within a middle eastern state keeps a dictator at the top of the pile seemingly with a Western backer, this corruption is then pointed out as hypocrisy, especially for the US, which is supposed to be a nation that values freedom and democracy. What happens is all of Western values and thousands of years of philosophical effort are then consigned to the rubbish heap by radicals who pick and choose the worst aspects of Western society and use them to represent its whole. It’s a very clever and convenient way of justifying a return to an austere version of Islam, by pointing to the perceived decadence of the chosen enemy and using it to push the narrative that what you’re offering is a pure and virtuous solution to an evil region and its reign of corruption. It is clearly a myopic way of viewing the West and its legacy, which has produced some of the world’s best philosophy, art, culture, architecture and governmental systems.

It was Soviet foreign policy, with the invasion of Afghanistan that mobilised the Mujaheddin in the 1980s.  The Soviets were seen as attackers on Muslim soil with Egyptian and other nations’ Islamists turning to violence to repel them. They were successful, with Bin Laden funding initiatives in battles against the Soviet forces to the tune of millions. Fast forward to US forces repelling Iraqi forces from Kuwait. Saudi Arabia allows US forces to station inside the country because of fears that Saddam wouldn’t stop at Kuwait. The Saudi military was much weaker than the Iraqi forces and they were economic allies based on oil provision.

The presence of ‘infidels’ inside the holy land was too much for Al-Qaeda to take. Seen as an affront to all Muslims everywhere, this decision and in their eyes the materialistic, corrupt lifestyle led by the house of Saud, leading lavish lifestyles from American oil money, whilst the common man dealt with high unemployment rates and poor prospects, were unforgivable. This was probably a factor in influencing Al-Qaeda to switch the focus from local agitation to the global jihad we see today, in which supporters are encouraged to attack the ‘infidel crusaders and Jews’ in their homelands irrespective of whether they support Western foreign policy or not.

In sum what seems to motivate the members of terrorist organisations is a number of general factors. There are probably many more I haven’t yet discovered or analysed in enough depth and they are probably different in importance to each individual, but seem to comprise, isolation and subsequent bonding within a close knit social group, Islamic group identity, real or perceived grievances with Western foreign policy, a move towards purified Islam as a combative against real or perceived corruption in the world around them, victim mentality and a desire to return the Islamic lands back to when they prospered in the so called golden age of Islam.

I have meandered around this topic and I hope the product makes some sense to the reader. This is the sum of my thoughts on the past year of learning about Islamic terrorism from scratch. I write this now as I prepare to enter my MA degree in history and politics. One of my module choices is Islamist groups. I will probably write periodically about this topic as my knowledge base grows. It will be interesting to see how much my position changes on the origins of this phenomenon. My sources are the three books quoted within the piece, as well as the clash of civilisations by Samuel Huntington, Iraq: A history by John Robertson and hours of podcast material, by various political commentators. Thank you for reading.

 

 

 

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It’s propaganda, sell it to the innocent!

And no I’m not talking about Donald J and his address to boy scouts with jibes at his predecessor Obama or the media. I’m talking about Michael Moore and yet another, in a long line of ludicrous political posts.  Let me begin by saying that I don’t agree with political leaders using youth rallies to score cheap political points. We want the youth of tomorrow to think for themselves and not swear loyalty to one man as leader, as Trump possibly alluded to. However, I think the media are doing enough of a job of tackling why this is an issue, from what I have seen so far, and so I don’t think me piling on the opprobrium is necessary, I thought I’d turn my attention to a response from a public figure that borders on the hysteric.

Michael Moore has done everything he can to paint Trump as the direct descendant of Adolf Hitler. Why this gains any traction, I’ll spend a bit of time on. Hitler is the ultimate evil in the eyes of modern Westerners. His expansionist vision for Germany engulfed the world in a second war that took the lives of somewhere between 50 and 85 million people. Let that sink in, that’s essentially the population of the entirety of Britain wiped off the face of the earth. He also conducted the genocide that killed millions of Jews. His leadership of Germany brought Europe to its knees, only to be resuscitated in the aftermath through American loans. The nations of Europe may have recovered on the surface, but the impact on their societies has had reverberations that affect us today. Just to the give two examples. Firstly, the loss of millions of people who could have gone on to benefit society in any number of ways. Secondly the evaporation of generations of men leaving the workforce of Europe depleted and necessitating policies of immigration that have irreversibly changed the fabric of our societies, not necessarily negatively, but altered dramatically nonetheless.

Hitler has become the real-life version of the bogeyman. Because of the devastation he wrought it is easy to understand why people are afraid of anything similar re-occurring. As a consequence, the far right has effectively been a political non-entity over the last seventy years in terms of its cultural impact on society. To be openly far right is to be a social pariah of the worst order. The result has cast a shadow over the entirety of the right as an offshoot, not just its most radical elements. Racism is directly linked to the Nazi regime and to Hitler himself, therefore racism is as Hitler is, evil. The political left knows this and elements within it use it mercilessly and immorally to portray influential figures amongst the political right as racists in order to de-legitimise their arguments and effectively silence them, when they know full well that they aren’t racists. This is part of the reason why we can’t have an honest discussion on immigration and why so many on the political right feel as though they cannot speak openly in a democratic society about their beliefs, however sensible, for fear of being labelled a bigot and put in league with the bogeyman. It is essentially the social tyranny that John Stuart Mill rallied against in his work On Liberty.

The result is that the political left, although it may lose at the ballot box more often than not, has gained a disproportionate control over the educational and cultural environment in the West. The Overton window of public political discourse has been dragged leftwards, which perhaps sheds a tiny inch of light on why the more radical elements of the far left, who are as equally nefarious as the far right, have managed to impact the mainstream and its culture more effectively in the post war world.

And so, this brings us to Michael Moore, a man who is doing everything he can to whip up his 2 million Facebook followers into an anti-Trump frenzy, by finding anything he can, however loosely it fits, to frame an orange tanned, reality TV star business mogul as the reincarnation of Adolf Hitler. Never mind that Trump isn’t threatening to invade other countries in his vision to grab living space for the pure white American people, never mind that he doesn’t pathologically hate the Jews, homosexuals or the disabled. Never mind that he lives within a political system that has probably the best democratic safeguards in the world, in the form of the division of power between Congress, the Presidency and the Judiciary. Never mind that, that system doesn’t have the direct equivalent of article 48 that existed in the German constitution, giving the chancellor emergency powers to curb habeas corpus, free expression of opinion, freedom of the press, rights of assembly, and the privacy of postal, telegraphic and telephonic communications. The article that ultimately allowed Hitler the opportunity to seize power and instil a dictatorship over Germany 30 days after coming to power.

What matters to Moore is not anything more than superficial comparisons that he can manipulate. Purely because he knows that it drives fear and that fear is what keeps him relevant. One could argue that his career has been earmarked by sensationalist, fear driving claims to whip his supporters up into a frenzy and sell his books and DVDs. This is the art of the public figure. This is why I have written this piece. Consider for a moment the impact that you could have, by claiming that the acting President is the next Hitler, given what Hitler is to the West. All it takes is for one crazed individual to get wrapped up in the conspiracy to try and take matters into his own hands and make an attempt on Trump’s life. People like Moore harp on about the consequences of speech and the responsibility that comes with it. Where is his responsibility, as a public figure with a wide reach, not to fear monger a mob into pitchfork like proportions? And when you think about that you have to ask yourself, is someone who is willing to so lightly invoke a Hitler comparison fit to talk about the character flaws and morals of the sitting President?

 

 

Reflections on history and liberal democracy

History in my experience has been a catalogue of all of the worst things that people have ever done to each other. It has been a lifelong study into the dark side of human nature. I have seen what happens when a group of soldiers without effective leadership and discipline, thrown into a war in which their friends are blown to shreds by concealed booby-trapped bombs, can do to a village of women and children when order and control breaks down. I have seen leaders with total disregard for human life sign pieces of paper, often without a care in the world, that consign thousands of living, breathing human beings to death. And yet, as a species we carry on. We have managed to build the most open and prosperous nations ever to have existed, our technology progresses like an unstoppable cyclone and despite the mighty threats of the 20th century, namely Nazism/Marxism-Leninism, relatively free and open society survives.

The kind of tyranny we saw a glimpse of in those regimes has been staved off, if only for a time. The tendency in people towards authoritarianism is substantial in my experience. I have met only small amounts of people who I could consider to genuinely have an open mind and be willing to hear or allow differing or extreme opinions. This reminded me of John Stuart Mill’s work on liberty, in which he makes the case that prior to Martin Luther, the reformation had broken out at least twenty times and been put down brutally each time. He reminds us that freedom is fragile and does not always naturally triumph over repression.

Which led me to thinking about our own liberal democracy in Europe, as I often do. Liberalism has only ever really taken root in Europe or in countries where European colonists moved to and destroyed the native population to take the land. It is the product of hundreds of years of struggle in society against the controlling influence of monarchs and theologians. Both democracy and liberalism are somewhat embedded in the nations of Europe’s heritage. I have written a few times on how this is likely to change now that the continent has gone down the path of multiculturalism and why I fear the consequences of the the slow erosion of liberal values, but in this piece, I wanted to take another approach.

I’m amazed that liberalism/democracy have survived as long as they have. Liberalism in particular is an idea that allows its enemies by its own nature to speak and disseminate ideas that undermine its very structure. Unlike tyrannical one party/one leader states, which brutally oppress all dissent and individuality, our system is open to its foes. Because of democracy and the precedence of the individual over the state, it had been surprisingly hard for governments to infringe upon people’s individual rights when it came to scenarios like terrorism. This too is slowly eroding as people allow concessions of power to the state. But again how is it that a system that seemingly allows its enemies free reign and can’t effectively defend itself against the most extreme of its adversaries not only survive, but thrive in the world?

People don’t particularly take me seriously when I say that I’m a patriot because I love the UKs broad values and I suspect that’s in part because we’ve been raised in an educational environment that taught us all of the sins of the empire and connected them to its values. Patriotism and its connection to heritage, history and values are shunned and I find it incredulous that this is the case given where this country stands now and how tolerant and open it is. Surely to be able to consider all of the past sins, the destruction of native peoples’ communities and the taking of resources, together with the good, the progress and the drive that led to the end of things like slavery (officially) and the birth of the eight hour day or the end of children working in brutal factories does not lead you to a place of pure hatred for the UK, but one of balance and potentially hope.

Especially when you compare where we all are now, in our relatively cushy office jobs, surrounded by a plethora of people from all over the planet whilst we stuff our faces with donuts and coffee, to the struggle that millions of people endured in the past in search of a better future. Surely it is only possible to view that through a lens of negativity if you lack historical perspective?

And so we come full circle back to history. I opened this splurge of thoughts with the premise that history has been a catalogue of the worst things in human nature and it has for me. But that has allowed me to wake up in the mornings, look around me and be eternally grateful that I was born into a society that grants great freedoms and the ability to progress, all in a time of technological boom and peace time. Some of the simple things we consume daily even on the lowest wages in our society were luxuries in times gone by and it is with an appeal to gratitude for the values and system that allow this to happen and a greater appreciation of historical perspective that I end.

In defence of the family and raising children.

It’s an interesting feature of my existence that lots of people around me don’t want children. I didn’t used to want to either, until my world view changed. I used to look at humanity through a deeply negative lens. I saw us, as a species, as something akin to a virus destroying the planet in our greed and gluttony. I saw at the root of this a problem with overpopulation. I assumed that population levels would never stabilise, but would keep growing exponentially until resources were so thinly available that inequality between rich and poor would be at disastrous levels. Who would want to bring a child into that world. Who would want to bring a child into this world currently, with its instability and violence?

Essentially my dismal outlook on child raising was based on negative assumptions about the current and future state of the human race. It was all predicated on scenarios that I won’t live to test the truth of. My outlook on our current state of affairs failed to take history into perspective and to recognise that humans in far worse conditions than I have ever and will ever experience, strove against the odds to pull humanity from the gutter into what is now a breezy life in comparison. I couldn’t wait to point out all the negativity, and assumed future negativity, about life and use it as a justification not to bring a child into the world, but I never stopped to look at the good in life. To see a beautiful mountain, eat a delicious meal, laugh with a lifelong friend for hours at things no one else finds funny, to feel affection for another human being, to hear a piece of magisterial music, to know that no matter what happens in your life your mother and father unconditionally love you.

When I stopped to consider that last point, that made me realise that the greatest part of my life has been my family and their support and if it is possible to create unconditional love through the bonds of the family, then bringing a child into the world into a stable family is potentially the best thing I could ever do. There’s something inherently nihilistic and destructive about some arguments against raising a child and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that at a time when all western ideals and the structure of education, law, family and nation are under siege in the mainstream of political discourse that we are starting to see more antipathy towards the very idea of passing on your genetic material and a breakdown in western families.

There is something extreme about seeing a global problem such as over-population, or environmental issues and not trying to address these problems in a constructive manner or even critique whether they are the concrete problems people believe them to be, instead opting straight away for a destructive personal stance that could have far reaching effects on your own personal happiness. It seems a lot to stake on a presumption.

How to beat division.

Division ultimately stems from the categorising of people into opposing groups. Whether you do it on class, racial, religious, national or gendered lines. Once you start saying that a particular group are oppressing you, you remove all individual identity from within that group and craft them into a fictional faceless mass. It then becomes us (the oppressed) vs them (the oppressors). The truth is likely to be more complicated, because the political and social environment in nations with giant populations are often complex.

The outlook of the victim assumes that oppressor groups, often of the victims own subjective specification, either consciously or sub-consciously work together to subtly alter the political environment to their benefit. There are a few issues with this. The first is that if you categorise all people into groups with a common aim, you destroy the role of individuality and the possibility for individual divergence within the group. Europe culturally has been quite individualistic as an acknowledged broad generalisation and so the notion of groups based on shared physical characteristics or aims is tenuous anyway.

The role of the individual is important because, if one makes a sweeping statement such as, “all whites are intrinsically racist”, or “all Muslims are terrorists” you will inevitably anger and alienate those people within the group, that you have defined, that the statement doesn’t apply to. This is because they are an individual with their own thought processes and value systems not anchored to an abstract group. The affect is for all of those people within that grouping, that then feel aggrieved because you have pointed the finger at them wrongly, to pull together into a group as a show of solidarity and because there is safety in consensus and numbers. What you in fact do by making generalisations based on groups is create groups, that otherwise didn’t exist, of resentful people bound together through their shared tribal resentment. You in essence manufacture division.

Enough people do this and you get opposing groups characterised by race, gender etc who believe they are under siege from outwards attackers. This is how we are in a country now where extremism and division is so prevalent politically and socially. The thing that motivates extremists is the idea that what they are doing is protective of “their” community, not outward hatred.

The second issue is the validity of the claims themselves. If you point the finger at a group and say they are oppressing us, you will be hard pressed to prove it, because of immeasurable, untold number of variations in action within that group, by individuals that affect society.  What you then essentially end up doing is not being able to pin point where the oppression actually comes from and so you find yourself in a scenario where the enemy is a shadowy spectre that haunts society but can’t quite be pinned down. This is what I find the argument of systemic racism to be built upon. It appears to be taken as a given that whites as a group hinder other groups from making their way up the ladder and it’s all a shadowy process built into the system.

Show me which organisations are the ones that are racist, which individuals within those organisations that are propagating racism. Pin point the problem, find evidence to back it up and then we can do something about it. Making generalisations about groups based on an assumption doesn’t get us anywhere, other than to further false political narratives that alienate and divide the wider community.

To beat division within our society we have to stop seeing everything through the lens of the group and analyse the individual as much as possible. We need to make sure we don’t make sweeping, baseless generalisations that cannot be backed up by hard evidence and we need to stop searching for markers of division that separate us, instead find common themes that unite individuals within the nation. The alternative is a country that pulls itself apart into tribal, divided communities and then probably violence.

The need for British patriotism

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the global Islamic terrorism phenomenon, but specifically in its European forms. We know that the problem is homegrown. Young, angry, Muslim men and women are growing up in Britain, going through the British education system, living their lives amongst other Britons and still not identifying as British. Part of the reason they are able to blow children up with nail bombs is because they see Britons and probably white Britons in particular not as part of their own community, but part of an out group that seeks to oppress them.

How is it that you can grow up and spend in many cases twenty years within a nation and feel no affiliation to that country, its values or its people? The answer in part lies at the door of multiculturalism and the diminished role of patriotism within society. Because we have crafted a society into which millions of people from diverse cultures have flooded, we now no longer as a country have a definitive set of values that pull us together into a community with a direction.  The UK, especially its cities are now just mass sprawls of all of the world’s nationalities pushed into a blender and expected to not only co-exist, but to thrive. This has its benefits, the diversity it brings is enriching. However, it also brings with it issues.

Britain has essentially no identity, without a national identity what will bring millions of different people from all around the world living in the same space together? This problem has arisen from a skewed portrayal of history, one that seeks to paint Europe as having no historical upside, only pure death and destruction. It usually goes something like this… 400 years of pillaging the rest of the world, all of it’s cultural, artistic, philosophical, economic and technological advances stolen from the cradle of other civilisations and built on the backs of minorities. Because we have allowed such clearly politically and ethnically motivated views of history to become mainstream, we have simultaneously allowed the belief that Britain has no worth to become a perpetual idea amongst this country’s youth. To identify as British and to be proud to be a citizen of a nation that allows great freedoms and equality to its present inhabitants is met with disdain.

And so when migrants flood into this country with values and cultures widely different from that of the Britons that have lived here for thousands of years, we collectively pat ourselves on our backs for our tolerance and do everything we can not to let any dissenting voices urge caution. The general result has been a fractured society, in which communities from around the world come to live in Britain in segregated hubs. This is how terrorists grow up in this country with no affiliation to Britain. They live in their own secluded, non-diverse communities, seeing themselves as not part of a wider group of people, but part of a frustrated, minority clan fighting against the oppression and tyranny of the majority community.

How will this country look in the future if this is the norm that is set to continue? The birth rate amongst the British populace has been consistently lower than necessary in recent times to ensure that our numbers aren’t dwindling and so migrants are brought into the country in order to prop up the economy. If these migrants go on never to have any understanding or respect for Britain’s history, traditions and values, when they eventually come to replace us, which they will unless current trends reverse, what will become of the ideas and values that have become pillars of Britain and Europe? Values that are a rarity on the global scale. Is that what we have collectively, subconsciously decided? That this country needs a rebirth without the baggage of its imperial past and the best way to do that is throw everything out and start again?

I think if this country is to avert the risks that come with segregated communities living in friction, it needs to find its national identity. The country needs to start teaching in schools that it is ok for the nations’ youth to be proud of Britain’s achievements. That migrants who are looking to put roots down in this country, have children and be part of the nations future are British and what it means to be so. Teach the bad, but teach the bad objectively and teach the good along side it. Use the great figures of our past to inspire future generations, concentrate not on notions of race, but on notions of British values as homogeneous values for its multi-racial people. Find the common values that our youth can get behind to be part of a single community instead of a maelstrom of alienated, pocketed groups.

I’m not suggesting we tell incoming migrants to forsake their own cultures and heritage and somehow adopt Britain’s, I’m merely suggesting that having a strong patriotic sense in this country and an agreed upon set of values for all inhabitants might aid in pulling together people from diverse cultures around a common theme and implementing this through the education system would go a long way to aiding this. But that would need to start with telling history properly and for the anti-patriot elements of society to lose their current footing atop the pile of popular discourse.

My questions for the anti nuke/anti NATO crowd.

What would a world without NATO or nuclear weapons look like? What I mean by this scenario is that all of the worlds nuclear weapons are disposed of and we somehow obtain non nuclear parity. What would would be the the state of play in terms of power and politics? Knowing what we know about human nature, is it not highly possible that in this scenario, those countries with homogeneous peoples’ led by nationalistic strongmen wouldn’t look upon the nations of Europe, culturally non-homogeneous, lukewarmly patriotic countries dominated in popular feeling by the anti violence, anti war left and see a massive opportunity to expand their territory at the expense of nations who likely would not have the stomach, or the togetherness to rise to the fight? No matter how justified that action was.

I believe that would be the case. The only way a continent as liberal and fractious through self inflicted policy as Europe is able to exist in the global arena is by maintaining its current position at the top of the global political pile. One of the ways it can do this is use its comparative wealth to ensure it’s military capabilities are supreme enough, when banded together in a defensive coalition, to dissuade would be aggressors of the merits of attacking. The other way is to have the ultimate deterrent, in the form of nuclear weapons. So my final question given this point is, do you really expect me to vote for a man who wants to dismantle our nuclear capacity and would rather see us out of NATO with our defensive budget slashed to boot? I want to raise a family one day, who can have the pleasure of experiencing a liberal, tolerant society and in order for those societies to exist they need to be defended first and foremost. That defence should not be taken for granted.

The nature of politics

Forgive me in advance as I am about to take politics, a hugely complex beast, and reduce it down to what I see is at its core. All politics is, is different groups of people vying for supremacy within society. Human societies form naturally into hierarchies based on power. With the existing elite at the top, usually making up a tiny fraction of society. I think a pyramid is always a useful shape for visual purposes when it comes to thinking about societal structure. The base being the largest portion and what the community rests on. 

What I see when I look at the political spectrum is a struggle for power. The conservatives try to preserve the existing hierarchy and the progressives try to alter it. Each side tries to employ thought processes to justify the reasoning behind why its side of the spectrum should take precedence over the other on a variety of issues and society ebbs and flows based on this tug of war. 

Usually progressives consist of people who want huge scale change, but are satisfied to wage the long war and fight for steady, incremental reforms within the system. Over the long run, these people have been successful in fundamentally changing societies. People like Robert Owen spring to mind, a factory owner turned socialist, who helped campaign for the 8 hour working day. Owen is probably not the best example, given that he tried the radical idea of setting up a town in America called new harmony based on Utopian, socialist ideas, which ended in failure. But nonetheless he springs first to mind as a man that aided the bottom of society by working for change from within the system.

Every now and again you get a group of people who see attempts at working within the system for change as futile, because it serves only to play into the hands of the existing elites. They favour smashing the system entirely, usually in the form of some sort of revolution, either peaceful or violent and re-designing it anew in their own image. In my experience, this comes from a section of the community who feel powerless and weak and grab for extremes to improve their societal situation. Sadly, when this smashing of the system is achieved, what tends to happen is there isn’t an effective plan to replace the existing hierarchy and so chaos ensues. The power vacuum and lack of order, creates the right circumstance for a strong figure to emerge, a dictator.

What then happens is power is taken away from the higher ups to be given to someone equally, or more tyrannical. 

All the work the progressives made in the existing system, the hundreds of years of steady gnawing at the power structure is washed away with regime change. The new leaders flex their muscles and clamp down on the lower downs they once claimed to represent and civil liberties are destroyed. The premise of the Utopian system of equality is a clever carrot to dangle in front of the working class if you’re a psychotic, power hungry, authoritarian. 

When it comes to the conservatives, they will try to preserve aspects of policy that benefit them, often at the expense of other societal groups. This is just the nature of the world, when something benefits one individual or a group, it often impacts another. The conservatives also serve the function of trying to maintain societal structure under the onslaught of the progressive juggernaut and the incessant struggle for change. Sometimes some people will emerge who feel that too much change has happened within a society, or that those changes have led the country down the wrong path. This can breed the tendency to want to employ authoritarian means to clamp down on the progressives to maintain and reinforce societal structure or reverse it.

When taken to its extremes you can have similar instances of repression as the group of people that want to smash the system. 

It’s important in my view to find the right balance in society. To conserve the good aspects, the achievements we have made that in part help people to be able to coexist in some sort of system that can then act as a leap-board for us to pursue the arts, the sciences etc. It is equally important that the progressives continue to push the conservatives and ensure that the freedoms they have won over time are protected and built upon. But the balance is inevitably delicate in a tug of war and at times this can lead to imbalance. We are in such a period of imbalance in my opinion and it is only lending support to the types that want to forsake all order and structure and pull down the system in their anger. 

It would be folly to let that happen in a country, so storied, so proud as Britain. 

The self immolation of the West.

Whenever someone makes a bold, sweeping statement it often pays to be sceptical. I recently saw an influential figure label the UK Labour party as a party of imperialism from the time of Attlee through to Blair. I couldn’t help but think to myself, how wonderfully simplistic. When you take 70 years of political history and reduce it down to such a forthright and provocative statement, I think it is your deep responsibility to be able to comprehensively support such an opinion with evidence. I’m not saying that this evidence doesn’t exist or that you could not make a convincing argument at the very least to support that statement, however no proof or further explanation of that declaration was given by the writer. It was just left there as if it should be taken as a given.

And I know full well in the heat of the moment and because of political bias I am well capable of doing this myself, I hope that I have not done it too frequently in my own political writings. I’m merely by writing this seeking to encourage cynicism of such sweeping claims and get to the bottom of a rationale and logic that appears to appeal to many in the West and yet doesn’t hold much water when it’s held up to the thorough light of inspection.

And that is the rationale of self hatred and the depiction of the West as a great evil with no redeeming features. The argument goes that because of Britain and the Wests’ unsavoury history of exploitation through empire, our civilisation now deserves to be put to ruin. We have developed a collective guilt for the actions of many individuals across huge expanses of time. It follows on that we cannot stand up for the interests of Western civilisation on a local or global scale, because people born in the aftermath of empire in western lands, need to have their livelihoods, culture and homelands sullied in order to repay the perpetual, subjective debt that hangs over us.

I would hope that the issues with this line of thinking would be self evident and yet I see it quite often. I’ve pondered on the motivations behind an incessant demonising of Britain and especially America and yes, undoubtedly there have been foreign policy decisions that have had horrendous impacts on the lives of thousands, probably millions of people. There have also been positive ones. (US repulsion of invading Iraqi forces from Kuwait in Operation Desert Shield in the early 1990s.) The positive ones, or the time when military intervention goes correctly, often get left by the wayside when intervention is considered.

What motivations could you possibly have for only focusing on the negative of liberal, capitalist countries? Well you could be a Marxist/socialist/communist. America is symbolically the nation of free enterprise, individualism and free speech. All things despised by those that would like to see the state emboldened and a move towards a collective orientation in government and culture realised. What better way than to push your political goals than demonising beyond reason the countries that embody the systems that you wish to see replaced? If you spin everything America does as this giant, crooked evil, destroying the defenceless, impoverished peoples of the world it makes for quite a compelling narrative doesn’t it? It only needs to contain a shade of the truth in order to be passable to those not interested in scrutiny, only in confirming their own biases.

Who else? Religious people who see Western values that embody freedom as anathema? People who want their religion to be imposed on the rest of the planet and believe that any other set of beliefs or lifestyles are decadent and corrupt, will obviously not find anything within Western civilisation worth conserving, worth protecting. There are potentially hundreds of reasons you could have that don’t exactly lend support for your credentials as an objective analyst of foreign policy.

Whatever the reasons it is clear that the game is rigged. Don’t intervene and you are left open to accusations that you stood by and did nothing when a dictator or a political group rampaged through a country raping and killing political dissidents. Intervene and it goes wrong and you are a typical imperialist, seeking to keep a small country down to maintain your own power and secure resources. Intervene and it goes right, and it is forgotten by your political opponents because it does not suit the narrative that they have constructed and carefully perpetuated until it has seeped into the education sector and become a widespread, mainstream belief.

I’ve always been somewhat perplexed that the idea of the nation seems to be anathema to some of those that hate the US and Britain. The line of thought is that the nation is a divisive tool, constructed to divide the homogeneous peoples of the world. But then when a small number of individuals presiding over a country, individuals that the collective had no direct control over, vote to bomb a country in the middle east, suddenly the idea of the nation state and its people becomes relevant to those that had previously sought to undermine national identity. The argument goes from, the concept of a nation is abhorrent, to Britain and its people are responsible for the decisions of its politicians. It’s almost as though concepts and tribal groupings are relevant as long as they suit the agenda of the speaker.

If the West and it’s long, unique history are to survive as anything recognisable going into the future, the region needs to pick up the water can and douse the flames that are destroying it’s skin, before they get to the vital organs. Because let’s face it, if the West loses its identity as a result of destructive, self hatred. Freedoms that the targets of this piece take for granted will very much be on the line.

Immigration

So at present it is a conventional principle amongst the general populace that open borders, unfettered immigration is the moral choice. Anyone who even hints that Britain and it’s working class would be better served with controlled borders is shouted down as the wannabe heir to the Third Reich. It has become the emotional rather than the rational position to believe that all immigration is positive to Britain, there are no downsides and anyone who disagrees is a sub human racist who deserves to be ostracised from society in order to maintain its purity. Sounds drama filled and ridiculous doesn’t it? And yet that’s how it is for many on this topic.

When did tolerance become only tolerance for a particular viewpoint? When did free speech become anathema to the ‘good side’. If I was to turn around to you and say that open borders benefit big companies at the expense of the working class what would you say? If I said that an open border policy floods a wealthy country with a multitude of workers giving big business a wealth of choice to pick from for a particular role, thereby driving down wages, because there is a huge pool of choice, what would you say? 

It is simple supply and demand economics. If there are only a few people who have the skills to perform a particular job, then companies will compete for their skills by offering more money for the role they fulfil. If there are huge amounts of people who can perform that role because the market is saturated with labour, wages will decline, because power shifts to the company. They can choose from a huge pool of people who are the very elite at their role and everybody else falls by the wayside. 

The middle classes who are secure in their jobs, earning more than enough for subsistence, keep sneering at the working classes who complain that the jobs market is so saturated that they cannot compete effectively for jobs that provide a stepping stone to a better future. The argument becomes, that if you cannot compete with foreign labour, it is your own fault and you should have worked harder in the past. This argument comes from the left wing of politics. The left wing who are supposed to be the beacon for working class people. 

Let’s knock the morality out of the pro immigration camp. If you accept that uncontrolled immigration benefits UK companies by providing them with the best talent possible, you simultaneously admit that the UK deprives another country of that talent at a benefit to the UK. Your argument becomes that of a patriot. If a doctor from Ghana moves to the UK for a better standard of living, he/she deprives Ghana of the services he/she could provide that would benefit Ghana and aid the development of that country to enable parity with Britain so that its’ citizens wouldn’t need to move abroad for a better life.

How myopic is it to suggest that because the UK currently offers a better standard of living than most other nations, that we should open the borders and accept unlimited amounts of people, until it gets to the point where Britain is bulging at the seams and on the brink of impoverishment, destroying that nation, whilst providing a detrimental effect to poorer nations who need the skill force to develop? 

You are literally advocating the impoverishment of both the wealthy nations and poorer ones based on an emotional instinct and one that derives from a misreading of current misgivings over the migration situation. All because anyone who disagrees with you is a racist based on the left-wing indoctrination that you received from your biased education.