by Dr. Sean Gabb
One of the many annoyances of living in a country like England—and I believe this also applies to America—is that lack of effective opposition within the mainstream media to outrageous acts of the authorities.
I do not mean by this that when the police shoot someone or beat him to death, there is no coverage in the newspapers and on television. This is not the case at all. Official misconduct that amounts to oppression as traditionally conceived is fully covered, and this is occasionally successful at bringing the guilty parties to something that is regarded as justice. Equally, the wars of the past decade have been fully discussed and exposed by at least the British media.
However, where oppressions are concerned that have so far been unknown or uncommon within our own civilisation, such protest as is voiced is generally muted, where not almost wholly beside the point.
Let me give a specific instance of what I mean. On the 12th September 2010, The Mail on Sunday, which is one of the main British Sunday newspapers, carried a story under the heading Taxpayers fund council ‘adventures in Sindia and Lesbianandgayland’ as part of sessions on equality and diversity. As readers may be suspicious about the neutrality of any summary, the story is worth quoting at some length. It begins:
“Council bosses are being asked to imagine they are English economic migrants in the fictitious region of Sindia, or go on an ‘adventure in Lesbian-andgayland’ as part of publicly-funded training sessions on equality and diversity.
“More than 30 managers from Brighton and Hove City Council have been on the two-day ‘Leading on Diversity’ course in the past year—at a cost of several thousand pounds. In the session entitled Adventures in Sindia, the English Exodus, staff are asked to imagine that it is 2030 and the ‘world is a very different place’.
“In this scenario, much of the South-East of England and East Anglia is under water.
“Millions of English families desperate for work have been forced to uproot to Sindia, an economic federation which is made up of China and India.
“All the participants are asked to imagine that they are a seven-year-old child called Sarah Hardy, whose family has just moved to Delhi.
“The course material states: ‘Your seventh birthday was a miserable occasion. Your parents invited all the children in your class to a party. All but one failed to turn up and none sent an RSVP.
“‘The only child who came was a Jewish girl from Hungary. Somehow you felt that she understood what you were going through, even though you never talked about it.’”
“The course attendees are told that while in Sindia they can expect to hear comments such as: ‘Why do you insist on eating that bland food? What you need is a good masala’, ‘Do your parents really force you to drink alcohol at the age of ten?’, and ‘What do you call an English virgin? A contradiction in terms’.
In the other session, staff are asked to imagine that ‘while asleep one night they have slipped through a wormhole in space’ and woken up in a parallel world where it is normal to be lesbian or gay.
“They are told that they are now in a country where ‘heterosexual teachers are very reluctant to come out’, ‘the ideal family consists of a lesbian or gay male couple’, and ‘that conceiving a child by heterosexual intercourse is viewed with distaste’…”
The only complaint against all this voiced in Mail article is that “[Town Hall] officials… have been accused of wasting taxpayers’ money by sending staff on controversial courses“.
This is a fair criticism. At the moment in England, about one pound in every four spent by the State is borrowed. Some of the remainder is financed by printing money. Taxes are heading into what most economists regard as the red zone. Sooner rather than later, the new Conservative-Liberal Coalition proclaims, there must be substantial spending cuts that will affect everyone who, legitimately or otherwise, receives benefits from the State.
Yet, in spite of this, arms of the British State are spending money on what can only be regarded as brainwashing exercises.
Nevertheless, if it is fair to complain about the misuse of the taxpayers’ money, these are not the most relevant grounds for complaint. From the point of view of those spending it, the money is very well spent. It is, indeed, far more important for these people that money should be given to organisations like Aziz Associates, which developed this course, than spent on keeping the streets clean or the swimming pools open and affordable.
Of course, so long as there have been governments, the main use of the taxpayers’ money has always been the funding of a ruling class and its clients, and the manufacture of consent to their actions.
But what makes the spending priorities of the British State so striking nowadays is their revolutionary purpose. Spending the taxpayers’ money on this sort of exercise is not a waste of that money—but an important legitimisation of what the current ruling class in England is about.
Because it proceeded slowly in it origins, and was not attended by violence or any formal break with continuity, it is often difficult to see that my country has, for about the past thirty years, been living through a revolution as radical and as contrary to human nature as the Russian or French Revolutions. Because this revolution has taken place within the forms of the pre-existing order, it has had no markers as obvious as the storming of the Bastille or of the Winter Palace. Instead, it has taken place slowly and at different speeds within each branch of the State. It has been a matter of one person appointed to a senior position, as opposed to somebody else, of new written guidelines to junior staff, of new phrasing and new logos.
We could point to the election of a Labour Government in 1997. Undoubtedly, this was a government of radicals, fully committed to the revolution. But this revolution was already far advanced before 1997, and there is no reason to suppose that the electoral defeat of Labour earlier this year will have any effect on the continued progress of the revolution.
I could proceed to an analysis of the revolutionary doctrines. But I increasingly believe that, while stated ideologies are always important, they are, in the present case, far less important than the motivations.
And the motivation is the desire of a new ruling class—a class made up of politicians, bureaucrats, lawyers, educators, activists, and associated media and business interests—to secure absolute and unaccountable power for itself.
In England, even before the achievement of universal suffrage, government was always broadly by consent. The ruling class was small, and recruited mainly by birth and by the co-option of the most able; and the forces available to it were always insufficient for large-scale misgovernment.
Added to its size was the essential simplicity of its governing structures. Ministers were formally appointed by the Crown, which was the supreme legal authority, and responsible to a Parliament which—if often very loosely—was representative of the people. All official actions, even if he was unaware of them, were the responsibility of a specific Minister—and he could be forced to account for these, and might sometimes be forced to resign because of them. Before the classical age of the Constitution, he might even be tried and punished for these actions.
Education, the media, the enforcement of the law, and most business were either independent of the State or so radically decentralised and founded on immemorial right, that normal government had to take place by discussion and consent. If most ordinary people had no regular voice in affairs, they could make their voice heard by rioting—and the means of repressing such disturbances were generally inadequate—or by reliance on other immemorial rights that the ruling class as a whole had no desire to abridge.
Because of a shared horror of the republican and Stuart despotisms of the seventeenth century, there was no interest group within the ruling class to push for a more efficient or extended government. It was accepted that a more active state would require activist officials who would interfere with the landed and chartered interests of the ruling class. Because the English State, as it was allowed to exist by the ruling class, was so inefficient and corrupt, no one outside the ruling class wanted this state to be given any functions beyond those it already had.
In the early nineteenth century, for example, regulation of the factories was opposed partly because it meant an interference with freedom of contract—but also because no one believed that factory inspectors would bother to inspect any factories.
This Constitution was first unbalanced by the Whig reforms of the 1830s. Changes in the franchise were less important than the setting up of bureaucratic inspectorates to deal with public health and education, and then the rooting out of inefficiency and corruption within the civil service as a whole.
The stated—and almost certain—object of these reforms was to secure cheaper and more humane government. In the short term, this object was largely secured.
Its longer term effect, however, was to set off what may be called a Public Choice explosion. Officials were able to collect and manipulate statistics to justify greater numbers and status for themselves. As the prestige of the old ruling class faded in an age of democratic claims and belief in progress, politicians found it increasingly hard to face down demands for more state activity. These demands were amplified by external interests that stood to benefit. The mass of those who had to pay for increased government, or were harmed by it, had neither enough personal interest nor the ideological force needed to make a sufficient defence.
By 1914, the old forms of the Constitution remained intact, but had been joined by the outlines of a modern administrative state. Two big wars and the progress of socialist ideology solidified the administrative state. By about 1980, this administrative state was large enough and powerful enough to do whatever it pleased. It managed education and healthcare and welfare for the mass of the people, and managed the exercise of many rights that had not been formally abolished.
This is the State that was captured—perhaps during the Conservative Government of the 1980s—by the new ruling class. At the time, we called these people socialists. Many of them began as Marxists in the old-fashioned sense. Many began as old-fashioned administrative socialists in the English sense.
But their ability to move backwards and forwards between often contradictory legitimising ideologies should have made it clear that they were not socialists in any traditional sense. Sometimes, they argued for what they called the interests of the working class, sometimes for public health or health and safety, sometimes for racial equality, sometimes for efficient government, sometimes for cheaper and more efficient criminal justice, sometimes for more human criminal justice, sometimes for protecting the environment, sometimes for compliance with the requirements of international agencies.
The overall effect of their activity, however, was always the same. This was always to subject us to yet another interfering and proselytising bureaucracy that had no regard for our immemorial rights as Englishmen.
Readers of VDARE.COM will tend to focus on the “multicultural“ legitimisations of the new ruling class, and the mass-immigration of non-whites that has attended it. There can be no doubt that this has been one of the most important legitimisations.
But I do suggest that things like the War On Smoking, and against “homophobia“, and restriction on what light bulbs, and changes in legal procedure, and loss of sovereignty to organisations like The European Union and the United Nations and the World Trade Organisation, and so on and so forth, are equally important.
These are all coordinate parts of a project by the ruling class to insulate itself from any accountability to or any challenge from the mass of the ruled. We are to be governed in ways that we do not understand and do not like, and often by agencies sanctioned by foreign authorities over which we have at best a decorative and indirect influence.
The most important questions any subject of a government can ask are: Who is my Lord? and What do I owe to my Lord? In the England where I was born, the answers were still: My Lord is the Queen in Parliament, and I am obliged to obey such laws as are made by the Queen in Parliament or derived by the Judges from the Common Law; and these laws must always be made and exercised with my consent.
But I now live in a country where these answers no longer describe the reality. And the reason why these answers no longer apply is because power has been seized by a revolutionary clique that wants to reduce me and mine to serfdom.
It is with this narrative in mind that the activities of Aziz Associates must be analysed. As said, spending our money on this and similar organisations is not a waste of our tax money. The function of the project uncovered by The Mail on Sunday is not so much to stop people from disliking homosexuals and foreigners, as to make them feel ridiculous. They are forced thereby to acknowledge in public and to themselves who is boss, and that to resist the boss in anything is fatal. Also, once they have been bullied into such nonsense, the only way that many people will be able to retain any feeling of self-respect is to persuade themselves that it was all in a good cause.
Do you remember how Caligula appointed his horse as one of the Consuls for the year? Was this because he was mad, and he somehow thought the appointment would please his horse? Or was the act a deliberate humiliation of a still powerful and highly conservative aristocracy, the members of which now had to make public fools of themselves as they went about the business of consulting the horse on policy and fitting it into the traditional ceremonies?
There are similar stories about the victims of the French and Russian Revolutions. Indeed, I recall an English crime report from many years ago, where some thugs caught two middle aged, middle class woman and murdered them. Before murdering them, they made their victims perform “erotic dances”. Again, this probably wasn’t because the thugs found simple pleasure in watching middle aged, middle class woman engage in lesbian sex. It was to humiliate the women and to break them into whatever else was expected of them before they were murdered.
Going back to the present case, people who have abased themselves in the ways required before the altar of political correctness will be less inclined to protest at or to sabotage the tyrannical whims of their masters. Many, indeed, can be expected to join in with apparent pleasure.
Some, no doubt, will file the humiliation away for some future time when the tables may have been turned. But most will go along with it.
The permitted response to this sort of outrage is to demand that it should be stopped—that the officials concerned should be reminded of their proper duties. But this is a worthless response. When a Labour Government in the 1940s spent large amounts of money on cultivating groundnuts in Africa, it was condemned. Eventually, the project was cancelled. But that was in the days when everyone agreed that the function of the State was to provide common services—even if there was much debate over the nature and extent of these services. As said, however, we are now ruled by an interlocking set of proselytising bureaucracies. Humiliating and brainwashing people is their function. No orders from a Minister in London—even assuming there were a Minister inclined to issue them—will change the general behaviour of these bureaucracies.
The only workable response to this sort of case is to shut down the relevant bureaucracies. They cannot be reformed. They cannot be persuaded to act other than as they do. Least of all are there alternative personnel to manage or staff them. The only people able to run these bureaucracies are those already within them.
They can only be smashed. They must be shut down—preferably all at once. Their staff must be thrown into the street, and must lose their pensions. Their records must be burned. And their records must be burned even if they are likely to contain evidence of criminal or treasonable acts. What England needs above all else—and perhaps America too—is not a government of piecemeal reform, but a government of reaction such as took power in England in 1660, on the restoration of the Monarchy. Every single law made since a certain time must be repealed.
Perhaps a few can be re-enacted. But the reaction must be stern and unbending. It must be this not only because it is just, but primarily because any government of reaction will be strong enough for one frontal assault on the institutions of the administrative state, and nothing more.
Now, I think all this puts me at a distance from many of the people who write for and who read VDARE.COM. It may raise suspicions that I, as a libertarian, am less interested in the specific horrors of the politically correct administrative states that we have than in simply downsizing the State. Many people, I suspect, would be happy to keep a large state if only it acted other than it does. I, on the other hand, would be just as opposed to this kind of state as to those we actually have.
There may be some justice in this. We libertarians may be the equivalent of the Trotskyites who latch onto every grievance of the poor, nodding sympathetically and then pushing their own line of international revolution.
Even so, I would urge the merits of my analysis. There are people who blame our present situation chiefly on the workings of some small group or other—Jews, bankers, cultural Marxists, Tony Blair, Hillary Clinton, or whatever. I suggest that the impending collapse of our civilisation may be traced in part to local causes. But local causes are usually secondary causes. Even without them, the final effects would be much the same.
Even if we were to strip out every effect of mass-immigration and multiculturalism from our countries, it would remain the case that we were not living under any kind of limited, constitutional government.
The powers of a still enlarged state would remain in the hands of other malevolent interest groups—or the void left by one strand of the overall legitimisation would be filled by some other as yet unimagined.
The problem is not that we have bureaucracies telling people to think themselves into refugee status in Sindia-Lesbianopolis, but that we have bureaucracies open to capture by proselytising totalitarians.
Whatever the case, we are not at the stage where improvement of any kind seems likely. The State as we have it will continue rolling forward over legal or immemorial rights. We remain at the stage where the best we can do is discuss the most appropriate explanations of what has gone wrong—and what we might, in more opportune circumstances, do about it.
Dr. Sean Gabb [Email him] is a writer, academic, broadcaster and Director of the Libertarian Alliance in England. His monograph Cultural Revolution, Culture War: How Conservatives Lost England, and How to Get It Back is downloadable here. For his account of the Property and Freedom Society’s 2008 conference in Bodrum, Turkey, click here. For his address to the 2009 PFS conference, “What is the Ruling Class?”, click here; for videos of the other presentations, click here.