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Archive for September, 2008

The rise of the far right

One of the consequences of European integration has been the rise of far-right parties. Before the last ten years they were an exotic foreign problem. We used to listen to stories of Le Pen in France and think ourselves lucky that Britain didn’t have such problems. No more. The BNP, running on an anti-EU platform, has grown massively in recent years. They have started to take thousands of votes from Labour, and have become a regular feature on news programmes that would have refused to talk to them a decade ago.

This is a consequence of official disdain for people’s identity. It is not only the EU, of course. This Labour government in particular has shown itself to be concerned more with the student, ‘Foucauldian’ issues of gender and race rather than the root of the labour movement – the working class. Unfettered immigration has lead many people to feel like they are becoming strangers in their own home (see the survey I posted on yesterday for an example).

Today has seen stories of electoral success for the far right in Austria. Again, the EU figured in their rhetoric. In Germany we can also see the rise of the Left Party on an anti-EU platform.

The EU’s ‘slow-motion coup d’etat’ has caused this boost in support for the extremists. Whereas twenty years ago, if you were a socialist you could vote for the Labour party or a Socialist party in Europe, now those parties have given over control over policy to the EU. Either you don’t vote – a big problem in Britain – or you have to find another socialist party. Thus decent people are driven to the extremists.

The same is true on the right – there is nothing wrong with being concerned about immigration. People who felt that way used to be able to vote for a right-wing party. Now those parties have given away control over immigration to the EU. Your options are to refrain from voting or to vote for an extremist party. Let us hope that good sense prevails in Britain and we halt this disastrous policy of European integration before extremely nasty things start to happen. Anyone who has read their history knows that Hitler gained power with around 33 percent of the vote, the Austrian far-right are nearly there. We should all feel distinctly nervous this morning.

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Are you British or European?

According to a British council poll, reported in the Mail: “In spite of greater European integration since the Maastricht Treaty was signed in 1992, just 7% of Britons surveyed said they felt like a European citizen.”

You cannot create an identity. It is something that develops organically. British people will not consider themselves to be European after ten more years of the European Union, twenty years, or even a hundred years. The whole enterprise depends on a false set of assumptions about human nature.

The 1960s and 1970s saw the flourishing of a view of human nature that was attractive to many as it promised liberation. Gender, race and nationality, even sexuality amongst the more radical thinkers, were all suggested to be socially constructed. There is no doubt that the intervening decades have seen a greater freedom enter society, and that has done a great deal of good.

It is, however, patently false that there is no biological basis to gender, and race, and no reality to nations. Although society – contact with others, how they present themselves, how they react to us – undoubtedly affects our experience of being a man, woman, of being white or black, these identities can not be reduced to the social.

Similarly, nations are not artificial constructs. Nations are held together by language and culture, and a shared endeavour. It is true that it is hard to fit all national stories to one pattern. However, the left has for many years created a false dichotomy. Either there are fixed identities, which discriminate an ethnicity and culture discrete from all others, or there are none. Of course, such fixed identities are an obvious absurdity. In fact, the story goes, such identities are ideological constructs, used by the privileged to maintain their privileges. In truth, human nature is malleable.

One of the tricks of the intellectually lazy is to represent social developments as inevitable. This often hides an ideological commitment. The dissolution of nations has been considered inevitable by some. However, all around us we see evidence that this is not so. From Scottish national identity to unrest in Western China, from the wars in the Caucasus to the troubles in the Basque country, from Tibet to Cyprus, we see that national identity is strong and critical to today’s politics.

Let us hope that the British establishment allow themselves to see this. Christopher Meyer, former ambassador to Washington, wrote very well about exactly this subject a short while ago, which is encouraging.

Despite the liberating events of the last century, research shows that traditional gender roles are still followed to a great degree. Ideological feminists decry this, but most women are happy with the freedom to choose their lifestyle and the way they view themselves. Society swung a long way away from traditional values, only to return to equilibrium a long way away from the radical visions of many feminists. It is striking how figures such as Churchill saw no shame in referring to their nation as a race. Nowadays, few people view nationhood in the same way. Let us hope that we can finally begin to claw our country back from the radical fringe who view nations as something to be overcome.

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« Je lui dis  : “Serge, je ne comprends pas, je ne suis jamais dans ton journal depuis deux ans.” (…) Et il me dit, d’un ton le plus naturel du monde  : “Mais Nicolas, tu es un dissident. Comment tu veux que j’autorise qu’il y ait un papier pour toi, pour un dissident  ? ” »

It makes the talk of the Eurosceptic press in the UK seem rather sinister doesn’t it? A Eurosceptic press is presumably one that prints what people think as opposed to what’s convenient for the government.

le figaro: censorship

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This is outrageous, but utterly predictable. We have a government that holds parliament and democracy in contempt. They sicken me. Will we ever be free of this authoritarian nightmare?

Exclusive The government will drop plans for a massive central database to track UK citizens private communications from the forthcoming Communications Data Bill, but officials will proceed with the multi-billion project in the background instead.

Senior civil servants will discreetly run the project to swerve potential political opposition to a scheme which would retain details of every phone call, email, and web browsing session of every UK citizen, sources have told The Register.

The Register, 25th September.

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“With a burst of flame and smoke, a Chinese rocket blasted off into orbit yesterday. But it was the state news agency that moved faster than the speed of light, publishing the transcript of an “in-space” conversation between the astronauts before they had even left Earth.

The Xinhua news agency posted an article on its website breathlessly describing the Shenzhou VII spacecraft in orbit and quoting exchanges between the crew, possibly during the most important part of the mission: China’s first spacewalk. The only problem was that the crew were still on terra firma.”

source (the Times)

This story reminded me of reports that a Russian TV channel was to show an Italian documentary that took the view that the September 11 attacks were an inside job. I remember too, that an American official once told how he was repeatedly asked by diplomats from foreign countries whether it was true that the US had attacked itself. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the Chinese recorded this message in the belief that the Americans had done something similar when they first went into space. What is striking is how even government officials, closer to the centre of power in the world than any of us, can turn to conspiracy theories to explain the events they supposedly direct.

The EU has also fallen for the siren call of paranoia. Whispers have been heard in the institutions, given credence by the President of the ‘parliament’ Potterung, that the CIA funded the Irish ‘No’ campaign. One wonders if these people are quite right in the head. There is a very simple explanation for the failure of the Lisbon Constitution; it is unwanted. Even the generally pro-EU Irish spotted that this consitution would diminish democracy in the already opaque institutions. But there’s a more general reason that is true of the Irish as much as the French, Dutch and the British. People are happy with the EU as long as they can believe that it is what they want it to be – either a trading organisation, or something little more than one. That is what the Eurocrats told us they were building.

They were lying. And for a long while the lie worked – eurosceptics were seen as extremists, liars and conspiracy theorists. As the veil has been raised on what the EU was always intended to be – a federal state – the pretence can no longer be kept up. It is now the europhiles who appear as the extremists, and who are finding refuge in the bolt-hole of the extremist and the fanatic – conspiracy theories. Fanatics and extremists are prone to confirmation bias more than the rest of us. They only see what they want to see, and interpret everything in terms of their own belief systems. It is a well known psychological phenomenon, used to predict the success of psychics and astrologers amongst other things.

It is a 50/50 question whether EU officials really believe the CIA have been attempting to influence Irish referenda. When we want to believe something, we are capable of lying to ourselves. Sartre called this ‘bad faith’; it is the state of mind where one knows one’s beliefs aren’t true – where one both believes and doesn’t believe something. I suspect that the europhiles are finding it very hard to recognize that they are not wanted and not needed, that people are at best indifferent to them, and at worst outright hostile. Hopefully this stage will pass and they will bow to the democratic wishes of the vaious peoples of Europe. If it doesn’t, if they persist in this paranoid route of thought, believing that malevolent forces are against them and must be found and thwarted, nasty things could happen

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This is Gordon Brown, our wise leader.

This is Gordon, our wise leader. Doesn't he look happy and gay!

This is David. He had a party. David's friends all said he was wise, and he should be leader instead of Gordon. David agreed!

Gordon wasn't pleased! He was almost angry with David!

Gordon wasn't pleased! He was almost angry!

David was very embarrassed. He knew he made a mistake in agreeing with his friends. Gordon heard what he said. David apologised and they made friends again.

David was very embarrassed. He knew he had made a mistake. David apologised.

They decided to be friends.

They decided to be friends.

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usual BBC nonsense

P.M. on radio 4 just went to a group of floating voters to ask them their opinions on the speech. After a couple of pro-Brown commenters, one chap piped up ‘I was going to vote Labour anyway, but this has only confirmed it.’ er … remind me of what a floating voter is again

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