Letter from England: Setting the Scene Reply

A discussion of the internal workings of contemporary British politics. Meanwhile, American politics could probably be summarized by a single song.

By Sean Gabb

Ludwig von Mises Centre

I have been asked to write a weekly column on British politics. Since I am writing for a largely American readership, and since Americans mostly know little of what happens outside their own country, and since American politics are presently in themselves of consuming interest, I think it would be best if I were to begin with a brief overview not only of what is happening here, but also of what has been happening.

David Cameron became Prime Minister in 2010 at the head of a Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition. The Conservatives had won more seats than any other party in the House of Commons, but fallen short of an overall majority. Whether he governed the country well during the next five years is beside the point. What matters is that he governed effectively within the assumptions of British politics.

He went into the 2015 General Election with the aim of getting an overall majority for the Conservative Party. His main difficulty was not in beating the Labour Party, which was in no position to beat him, but in making sure that millions of disaffected conservatives would vote Conservative and not for the UK Independence Party (UKIP).

Britain had joined the European Economic Community in 1973. This was a controversial change of national strategy, and it had split the Conservative Party. Membership raised fundamental issues of sovereignty and of economic policy. Without ever going away, this split had been of little practical importance between 1979 and 1990, while Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister between. Once she was gone, it had re-emerged with growing force, to cripple the government of her successor, John Major.

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Religious Agitation and the Limits of Principled Libertarianism 1

An interesting discussion of the church/state separation issue. I generally agree with the arguments made by this author.

By Millennial Transmissions

Libertarianism Without Adjectives

I’m not a very “principled” person. I am in the sense that my actions are guided by a number of principles defined loosely and amorphously, but I’m not dogmatic, I don’t subscribe to Kant’s categorical imperative, I’m not a utopian or an idealist. I’m a realist and a pragmatist before I’m even a libertarian.

I was recently considering a conversation between Penn Jillette and Glenn Beck on the subject of libertarianism. If you haven’t watched it, I urge you to, it’s very good viewing. Penn Jillette was one of the guiding lights that lead me out of my socialist slumber, and Glenn Beck himself makes some great contributions too. They don’t just discuss libertarianism; a friendly conversation about atheism also takes place. Glenn Beck raises an example:

In Pennsylvania, a mostly Catholic Italian town had to relocate their nativity scene…it was outside of city hall…because of an outside atheist group, the ‘Freedom from Religion Foundation’, they came in and threatened legal action. Thomas Jefferson, in his writings, was proud that city hall was being used for meetings, church meetings on Sundays, four different ones. He thought that was not a problem…it’s not freedom from religion it’s freedom of…if I can put a menorah and everything else on the town square, why do atheists get so pissy about this…as long as it’s not the endorsement of one religion?” (lightly paraphrased)

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Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2017 Reply

An interesting new study.

By Peter Wagner and Bernadette Rabuy

Prison Policy Initiative

Wait, does the United States have 1.3 million or more than 2 million people in prison? Are most people in state and federal prisons locked up for drug offenses? Frustrating questions like these abound because our systems of confinement are so fragmented and controlled by various entities. There is a lot of interesting and valuable research out there, but varying definitions make it hard — for both people new to criminal justice and for experienced policy wonks — to get the big picture.

This report offers some much needed clarity by piecing together this country’s disparate systems of confinement. The American criminal justice system holds more than 2.3 million people in 1,719 state prisons, 102 federal prisons, 901 juvenile correctional facilities, 3,163 local jails, and 76 Indian Country jails as well as in military prisons, immigration detention facilities, civil commitment centers, and prisons in the U.S. territories. And we go deeper to provide further detail on why people are locked up in all of those different types of facilities.

Pie chart showing the number of people locked up on a given day in the United States by facility type and the underlying offense using the newest data available in March 2017.

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Pentagon study declares American empire is ‘collapsing’ 1

By Nafeez Ahmad

Medium.Com

An extraordinary new Pentagon study has concluded that the U.S.-backed international order established after World War 2 is “fraying” and may even be “collapsing”, leading the United States to lose its position of “primacy” in world affairs.

The solution proposed to protect U.S. power in this new “post-primacy” environment is, however, more of the same: more surveillance, more propaganda (“strategic manipulation of perceptions”) and more military expansionism.

The document concludes that the world has entered a fundamentally new phase of transformation in which U.S. power is in decline, international order is unravelling, and the authority of governments everywhere is crumbling.

Having lost its past status of “pre-eminence”, the U.S. now inhabits a dangerous, unpredictable “post-primacy” world, whose defining feature is “resistance to authority”.

Danger comes not just from great power rivals like Russia and China, both portrayed as rapidly growing threats to American interests, but also from the increasing risk of “Arab Spring”-style events. These will erupt not just in the Middle East, but all over the world, potentially undermining trust in incumbent governments for the foreseeable future.

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An Apt Description of the Alternative Politics Milieu Reply

From David Cole Stein:

SJW leftist: “The solution to police violence is to hire MORE MINORITIES as cops! Whites are incurably racist and violent. Get some DIVERSITY on the force, and the senseless killings of civilians will END!”

[Somali Muslim cop sits in his car and blows away an unarmed mom and bride-to-be who was on her own property in her pajamas after calling 911 to report a disturbance behind her house]

White nationalist: “Whites must BAND TOGETHER as brothers against those with whom we are genetically and culturally incompatible! WHITE HOMELAND! All whites unite, as we are ONE!”

[Spends the entire year feuding with and piling hatred upon fellow white nationalists, who he accuses of being pedophiles, homos, race-mixers, Jew-sympathizers, frauds, liars, slanderers, and losers]

SJW: “Hey, white nationalist, is it possible that we’re BOTH fucking idiots with sweeping, nonsensical racial theories that don’t work in the real world?”

White nationalist: “Dang, you know what, I think you’re right! Maybe WE’RE the ones who oughta start our own homeland together!”

SJW: “We’ll call it Moronville!”

White Nationalist: “Buddy, you got a deal!”

Why Anarchism is Better Than Conventional Diplomacy Reply

By Carne Ross

The Guardian

Carne Ross pictured at Marinaleda, Spain, a cooperative municipality.

wrote Independent Diplomat shortly after resigning from the Foreign Office. I had worked on Iraq and WMD for more than four years at the UN security council, but resigned in 2004 after giving secret testimony to the Butler review on the Iraq war. It was a difficult time for me. My future was unclear; I had thought I would be a diplomat all my life.

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History repeats itself. We are coming back to the small, tribal states. Reply

By Helena Celestino

Political Critique

Celena Celestino: How do you explain the Brexit vote? What must Europe must to avoid losing more members states?

Zygmunt Bauman: Starting from the second sub-question: let’s hope that the mess that the Brexit adventure has cast and will be casting further on the (no longer…)United Kingdom may (just may) prove to be the best imaginable sobering concoction for those intoxicated enough to support the tribal “Euro-skeptics” in other member states of the EU.

But now to your first and fundamental question: for the millions of Britons left behind or fearing to be left at any moment without warning; for the victims of deregulated labour markets and financial forces, which have been let off the leash; of the reckless rising of inequality; of the fast shrinking of the ranks of the beneficiaries of the Ronald Reagan/Margaret Thatcher inheritance and equally fast multiplication of the mass of their losers; of the on-going descent of the once self-confident middle-classes into the condition of a frightened, disabled and unsure of itself “precariat” – the British referendum was the rare, well-nigh unique chance to unload their long accumulated, blistering/festering anger against the establishment as a whole: the system notorious for failing to deliver on its promises. In normal parliamentary elections, such a chance is severely constrained: rejecting one party, one part of the establishment, only to willy-nilly admit other to the same establishment who eager to manage it but who are  willing to do very little to change it. In the British referendum, however, all major parties of the establishment were on one side: the voters could manifest their indignation, disgust, resentment with and refusal to trust the whole establishment in one go: to the “order (or rather disorder) of things” as such.

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Robert Stark interviews Yan Pagh about the Alt Center Reply

The Stark Truth. Listen here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Robert Stark and co-host Sam Kevorkian talk to Yan Pagh. Yan is based in Denmark and runs the Alt-Center Facebook Group

Topics:

The basic definition of the Alt-Center as rejecting the far left, the far right, and the establishment
The Alt-Center as non-aligned; a new movement that is flexible and evolving
How the left and the right have become merely reactions to one another
The importance of debate and an open exchange of ideas
How political polarization has lead to a rise in censorship
How the Alt-Right and Alt-Left emerged
Top Hats and Champaign: The original alt-centrism
Yan’s observation that the Hippie Culture he grew up with was much more free than today’s left
The immigration debate, the left’s suppression of debate, and the right’s monopoly on the opposition
European immigration restriction parties adopting left and center positions
Naser Khader and his book “Honor and Shame”
Danish Culture

Excommunicate Me from the Church of Social Justice Reply

By Frances Lee

By Autostraddle

There is a particularly aggressive strand of social justice activism weaving in and out of my Seattle community that has troubled me, silenced my loved ones, and turned away potential allies. I believe in justice. I believe in liberation. I believe it is our duty to obliterate white supremacy, anti-blackness, cisheteropatriarchy, ableism, capitalism, and imperialism. And I also believe there should be openness around the tactics we use and ways our commitments are manifested over time. Beliefs and actions are too often conflated with each other, yet questioning the latter should not renege the former. As a Cultural Studies scholar, I am interested in the ways that culture does the work of power. What then, is the culture of activism, and in what ways are activists restrained by it? To be clear, I’m only one person who is trying to figure things out, and I’m open to revisions and learning. But as someone who has spent the last decade recovering from a forced conversion to evangelical Christianity, I’m seeing a disturbing parallel between religion and activism in the presence of dogma:

1. Seeking purity

There is an underlying current of fear in my activist communities, and it is separate from the daily fear of police brutality, eviction, discrimination, and street harassment. It is the fear of appearing impure. Social death follows when being labeled a “bad” activist or simply “problematic” enough times. I’ve had countless hushed conversations with friends about this anxiety, and how it has led us to refrain from participation in activist events, conversations, and spaces because we feel inadequately radical. I actually don’t prefer to call myself an activist, because I don’t fit the traditional mold of the public figure marching in the streets and interrupting business as usual. When I was a Christian, all I could think about was being good, showing goodness, and proving to my parents and my spiritual leaders that I was on the right path to God. All the while, I believed I would never be good enough, so I had to strain for the rest of my life towards an impossible destination of perfection.

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Free Speech, Democracy, and “Repressive Tolerance” 1

A veteran anarcho-communist questions the Marcusean approach appropriated by the Antifa and SJWs.

By Wayne Price

Arkismo.Net

There has recently been controversy on the Left over “free speech” for right-wingers (not necessarily fascists). Should it be supported or physically opposed? Some leftists have revived interest in the ideas of Herbert Marcuse on “repressive tolerance” and why it should be opposed. Marcuse’s theory is reviewed and arguments are raised against it from a revolutionary anti-authoritarian perspective.

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There has been, recently, controversy on the Left over “free speech.” Should radical leftists and anti-fascists disrupt speeches by right-wingers? Should leftists break up such meetings, charge the stage, and smash windows? Or should the leftists limit themselves to counter-demonstrations, boycotts, protest leaflets, and, perhaps, heckling? The controversy is not so much over public events by fascists—U.S. Nazis or Klan members, for example—but over right wingers who claim to not be fascists but “conservatives” who value free speech.

In working out an approach to this issue, a number of leftist thinkers—anarchists and Marxists—have revived interest in the ideas of Herbert Marcuse (1969). In 1965 (updated 1968), Marcuse wrote an influential essay, “Repressive Tolerance” (which appeared with essays by two others in the little book, Critique of Pure Tolerance). Marcuse (1898—1979) was one of the most influential Left theorists of the ‘sixties and ‘seventies. A member of the Frankfort School, he was a scholar of Marx, Hegel, and Freud. Marcuse had an enormous impact and following. Given the general ignorance and muddle of much of today’s radical thinking, it is not surprising that there has been an attempt to revive Marcuse’s ideas about free speech and the limits of “pure tolerance.”

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Zionism and the Power Elite Reply

By Keith Preston

Any discussion of the relationship between Zionism and the “power elite” in Western countries must inevitably begin with a qualification of meanings, as these terms have been used in ways as to imply multiple definitions. For purposes of this discussion, the term “Zionism” is meant to describe an outlook that prioritizes the defense and promotion of the state of Israel as a bastion of Jewish nationalism, and which more broadly and implicitly favors a Jewish ethno-nationalism that spans the spectrum of the Jewish diaspora. The term “power elite” is being utilized in the manner suggested by the sociologist C. Wright Mills, who coined the term in order to describe those holding the dominant positions in the dominant institutions in society, such as government, business, industry, finance, military, education, religion, and the mass media. The central question involved in the analysis of this relationship is the matter of to what degree political decisions are shaped by the influence of Zionist sympathies. The evidence indicates that Zionists exercise considerable influence over the process of political decision-making in many Western countries, and particularly in the United States.

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Some Reflections on Anti-Zionism Reply

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By Keith Preston

It is fashionable in many of the political circles that I travel in to attribute a range of problems involving international relations, along with other concerns, to “Zionism.” Used in these contexts, Zionism has two meanings, i.e. the state-nationalism of the Israeli regime itself, and the network of Jewish ethno-nationalist supporters of Israel throughout the Jewish diaspora. At times, the critiques of Zionist power represented by these perspectives overlap with traditional anti-Semitic views concerning a supposed “Jewish conspiracy” to undermine civilization by doing all kinds of bad things (The Daily Stormer, Stormfront, and, more articulately, Counter-Currents perspective).

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Black and White, Unite and Fight! 3

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The extent to which most people react to a particular situation or event is quite remarkable and to suggest that such behaviour impairs their overall judgement in terms of lacking the fundamental ability to make an accurate and realistic analysis of the realities behind the political, social and economic issues that shape our day-to-day existence is an understatement. Human spontaneity can often be a good thing, but making knee-jerk assumptions without ensuring that one’s brain is actually keeping pace with one’s keyboard inevitably leads to the widespread dissemination of a congealed and distorted mass of useless misinformation that merely compounds existing problems and allows the Establishment to continue to divide us for its own ends.

I am, of course, talking about the inflammatory situation in America and the potential for racial conflict. Those people who enjoy this kind of thing – and there are plenty of them, on all sides – will be straining at the leash to add a little excitement to their otherwise dull and mediocre lives. Alternatively, those with a modicum of common sense will understand that the Black Lives Matter campaign began as a direct reaction to police violence against members of the Black community. That, in itself, is perfectly understandable. However, as a result of persistently trying to portray all Black people as victims and claiming that police repression is a result of ‘racism’, the group has done far more harm than good and much of their outrage – which, again, is perfectly understandable – is based on ressentiment and a lust for revenge.
Meanwhile, the Right’s predictable response to Black Lives Matter is to claim that most of the people who have been murdered by the police are themselves criminals and that they had it coming. Now, if it was ever officially decreed that instantaneous execution should be the penalty for criminality then most people in America, Black or White, would immediately be wiped from the face of the earth. Inevitably, therefore, by reacting to the racially-centred approach of Black Lives Matter in this ridicuous manner those on the Right inevitably justify the brutality of violent police officers and, thus, the institutional criminality of those who allow these murderers to patrol the streets in the first place.
It is debatable whether all Black lives matter, just as it is debatable whether all White lives matter, but it is a fact that the American state is killing people of all colours and creeds, both at home and abroad, and that the only solution is for people to stop fanning the flames of racial conflict by attacking each another and to unite against the global establishment. That means rejecting the crass victimology of the mainstream Black organisations and the ignorant racists of the reactionary right. Black and White: Unite and fight!”
                                                                                                                       -Troy Southgate

Keith Preston: Trump’s policies making US more isolated from allies Reply

Press TV. Listen here.

US President Donald Trump’s “protectionist” policies on trade, climate change and a host of other issues will further isolate the US from its traditional allies and the rest of the world, says an American analyst.

Keith Preston, director of the AttacktheSystem.org, said the annual G20 summit provided an outlook into the future of Washington’s ties with its allies under Trump.

During Friday’s meeting, there were tough clashes with the US and even talk of a possible transatlantic trade war. The tensions were a result of Trump’s sharp break with previous US policies.

Trump’s isolation was more evident on the issue of trade. The Trump administration has proposed imposing high tariffs on steel and other imported goods from several major trading partners.

European officials at the summit reacted harshly, threatening to retaliate with their own tariffs.

“It is clear that the Trump administration is trying to distance itself from some of the policies that were pursued by previous administrations,” Preston told Press TV on Sunday.

Pointing to Trump’s opposition to the Paris climate deal endorsed by former President Barack Obama, the analyst noted that Trump was representing the faction of US politicians that did not believe in “human-created” climate change.

That is why, he argued, we are seeing a deepening difference of opinion between Trump and other world leaders on climate change and a range of other issues.

“So this actually has some potential to create something of a shift in the power balance on an international level, where the United States can find itself entirely isolated,” Preston further argued.

The same holds true for trade, Preston said, arguing that Trump’s “protectionist” mindset was prompting “retaliatory trade deals” from its allies.

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Trump has repeatedly accused the EU, Japan, China and Mexico of abusing trade agreements and exporting more to the US than they import from it.

The new Republican president has also called for renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a trade deal between the US, Canada and Mexico.

In a clear rebuke to Washington, Japan and the European Union announced a major free trade deal to create the world’s largest open economic zone on the eve of this year’s G20 summit on Thursday.

“So the impact of the policies that the Trump administration is pursuing in these areas would have the effect of separating the United States from not only other G20 nations… but also the traditional military allies of the United States,” Preston concluded.

National-Anarchist Movement Conference 2017: A Summary Reply

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By Keith Preston

Special thanks to Peter Topfer, Adam Ormes, Thom Forester, and Sean Jobst for their assistance in the writing of this summary.

On June 17 and 18, the first ever conference of the National-Anarchist Movement (N-AM) took place in Madrid. The process of arranging this conference was certainly not without its difficulties, and the organizers deserve much praise for their diligence in this regard. Originally, the conference was supposed to be hosted by the Madrid section of N-AM, who dropped out of the project shortly (and out of N-AM altogether) before the conference took place. This led to the irony of a conference being held in Spain where no actual Spanish people were among the attendees. Because National-Anarchists are widely despised by leftists who mistakenly regard N-A as a “fascist” tendency, security was a paramount concern.

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Attacking the Left from the Left Reply

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“I believe that Herr Marx is a very serious if not very honest revolutionary, and that he really is in favour of the rebellion of the masses, and I wonder how he manages to overlook the fact that the establishment of a universal dictatorship, collective or individual, a dictatorship which would create the post of a kind of chief engineer of world revolution, ruling and controlling the insurrectionary activity of the masses in all countries, as a machine might be controlled – that the establishment of such a dictatorship would in itself suffice to kill revolution and warp and paralyze all popular movements.” – Mikhail Alexandrovich Bakunin (1814-1876)

Changing the World-for Real Reply

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“This is what we humans call Planet Earth. A big, blue-green mass of globular rotation with a surface of around 510 million km². Now, as you will observe, it is shown without borders or boundaries. Not because we National-Anarchists believe in the abolition of borders and boundaries, of course, the more the merrier, but due to the fact that we do not recognise the existing territories governed by the various nation-states or imperialist empires. We have turned our backs on their territorial designs and believe that fresh micronations must come into being; i.e. those formed by ordinary tribes, families and individuals. This is the beginning of a new world at the expense of the old. Not the planet itself, which we hope to replenish, but to the economic designs of the boardroom cartographers who are helping to destroy the great multiplicity that still endures. Look carefully and you will see the real world. Go ahead, take it. By all means respect the flora and fauna, but forget about ‘England’, ‘Germany’ and ‘Sweden’, countries which no longer reflect the ethnic or cultural aspirations of the peoples who settled and founded them originally. Discover your micronation, plant a flag in your own little piece of soil, surround yourself with those you love and live your life in the way that you choose. The world must become a rich and diverse canvas upon which to paint a billion organic landscapes and multiverses. In short, we must raise the periphery at the expense of the core.” -Troy Southgate

200 protesters, officers injured in violent anti-G20 rallies in Germany Reply

The international ruling class gathers, and the reactionary Left strikes in retaliation. Classic heel vs. heel match.

Press TV. Watch here.

Protesters have continued their rallies in the German city of Hamburg against an ongoing G20 summit, setting up burning barricades and vandalizing public and private public properties. 

Friday night’s demonstrations were the latest in a series of protests, which began even before the leaders of the world’s biggest economies arrived in Germany’s northern city of Hamburg for their 12th summit that began earlier in the day and will wrap up on Saturday.

An estimated 100,000 protesters filled the streets of Hamburg, but a small portion of them participated in the violent rallies. Some 20,000 police officers are currently on duty over the course of the summit, but the escalating violence prompted Hamburg’s police to call in reinforcements from around the country.

Far-left demonstrators, seeking to wrest control of the streets, hurled flares, rocks and bottles at police, set fire to barricades, ripped up paving stones and even looted shops, creating a situation Hamburg police described as “very serious.” Reports say at least 160 police officers sustained injuries in the violence.

Police used water cannons and tear gas to disperse the enraged crowds. According to police, a total of at least 85 had been arrested since the protests intensified on Thursday night.

A young man is escorted by German special police forces as he leaves the Schanze district of Hamburg following clashes with anti G20-protesters in Hamburg, Germany, July 7, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)

Demonstrators are protesting against a range of issues, including climate change, global wealth inequalities and the presence of US President Donald Trump at the summit.

Protesters set barricades alight on July 7, 2017 in Hamburg, northern Germany, where leaders of the world’s top economies gather for a G20 summit. (Photo by AFP)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has already denounced the violence, saying it was “unacceptable” to “put peoples’ lives… [and] the protesters’ own lives in danger.”

Barricades are burning as protesters clash with riot police during protests at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, on July 7, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)