Joining…….. the……. Dots………

Wheeshting…for……Thatcherism…….

“The postmodern emphasis on ‘narrative’; and rejection as old fashioned, quaint and uncool all talk of an external reality — independent of our thought processes but in principle accessible by empirical methods — has served, as some prescient souls warned decades ago that it would, thoroughly reactionary ends. If there’s no knowable reality, then all manner of key principles are eroded — such as the distinction between being accused of something, and being found guilty of it!”

Phil Roddis: Steel City Scribblings [1]

“My advice to Labour Party members is that it is never OK to respond to allegations of racism by being defensive.

The only acceptable response to any accusation of racist prejudice is self-scrutiny, self-criticism and self-improvement.” [2]

Rebecca Long-Bailey MP

Someone I used to work with ‘on the tools’ was once pulled off a job by not one but two local managers under instructions from the Senior Zone General Manager to conduct an immediate discipline interview on the basis of an alleged ‘complaint’ from a member of the public. The claim being he’d been observed throwing kittens out of the cab window of his works van on his way to the job.

As his Union Rep. at the time I got to know some of the words used in this missive from on high had included the instruction to “hammer him” over what was at this stage only an unsubstantiated allegation which turned out had not even been a complaint.

The member of the public had been following the works van in heavy stop/start traffic and had seen feral kittens, which had been using the vehicle engine for warmth whilst parked overnight in the depot during the cold winter weather, escaping from underneath the works van whilst it was temporarily stationary in heavy traffic on a busy road. All unbeknown to the driver.

They had phoned a close relative on their mobile who happened to be some kind of local industrialist who then contacted the company at national level to alert the driver to the situation. They were horrified their good faith and common sense action had been ‘misconstrued’ and almost cost someone their job.

Having had dealings with that particular Zone GM I’ve never had any doubts in almost thirty years this was a deliberate use of arbitrary power rather than having been ‘misconstrued.’ Something which forms an integral part of the cultural organisational practice in too many work environments.

A process not limited to personnel matters involving complaints, grievances or allegations. It also manifests itself in everyday examples of fervent belief in a subjective opinion trumping both common sense and physical reality. Such as the occasion where a group of engineers were instructed by a senior manager to smash up a newly laid gas pipe; or when a manager explicitly insisted that someone under him should work inefficiently. [3]

Apart from the obvious — abuse of hierarchy in a workplace by a senior manager looking to achieve another sacking scalp to his collection; people with real or perceived pips on shoulders trying to subvert reality to their own individual atomised version of it — what is actually going on when this kind of approach occurs?

What’s the common process and its features? Where, when you join the dots, do its origins really lie? Why does it matter?

“The aide said that guys like me were ‘in what we call the reality-based community,’ which he defined as people who ‘believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.’ […] ‘That’s not the way the world really works any more,’ he continued. ‘We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do’”

Ron Suskin [4]

The last question is probably the most obvious. Within whatever context and level, insistence on creating, imposing and enforcing a subjective reality at odds with the objective evidence and the facts invariably end up with negative consequences for someone, somewhere. Ask those in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria what they think of the above concept commonly attributed to Karl Rove?

Such arbitrary misuse of power is something generally associated in the UK with authoritarian and right wing behaviour and ideology. Conversely, its also something generally associated with something the political left exists to oppose rather than emulate.

Generations, we are taught via very real historical examples, have fought and struggled for progress on a great many issues. Not least of which is the right to a ‘fair’ hearing, A process involving the concept of due process incorporating a set of standards and principles including the right to defend oneself against an allegation and the testing of said allegation via objective based evidence rather than subjective opinion.

Whatever the context, level or forum.

An approach with two key features:

- Generic Application. Applicable across all contexts and levels rather than to be inconsistently applied or not as convenience dictates. Such convenient inconsistencies in practice being a feature of unequal power relations arbitrarily applied.

- Process based. Testing of objective evidence using empirical methods rather than one where the subjective incantation of a proposition is deemed as sufficient to equate to proven fact or allegation being equal to automatic guilt. Regardless of how many people or how big the school yard mob insisting this is so simply because they say it is so. [5]

It might not be perfect, as some well known miscarriages of justice and misuse will attest. However, its a vast improvement to the alternative which currently seems to be enjoying something of a revival thanks to contemporary followers of the writings of Foucault. [6]

In regard to the common process and its key features there exists one useful high profile example of recent times in which the selective misuse, abuse and rejection of due process for various ends, usually political, and denial of objective realities have animated large segments of the political ‘left.’

“There are numerous dots with different names: racism, antisemitism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, homophobia, and so on. There is also the dot that consists in demonizing an individual for political purposes: distorting their work, misrepresenting their views, maligning their character: constructing them as someone they are not.”

Professor Brian Klug [7] Concluding remarks; What Do We Mean When We Say ‘Antisemitsm’? Echoes of shattering glass

Proceedings / International conference “Antisemitism in Europe Today: the Phenomena, the Conflicts” 8–9 November 2013 [8]

Klug, who in 2007 was a signatory to the declaration of Independent Jewish voices — critical of the UK Board of Deputies — was specifically concerned about the misuse of allegations of anti-Semitism for political purposes. Although this specific concern was recognised as being located within a wider generic process. Doubtless, today he would likely have in mind some more recent examples which have surfaced within the Labour Party and the wider political left since his 2013 Berlin lecture.

Examples not limited to high profile figures or cases. With a legal fiction operating between member and organisational Party entity every bit as arcane as the employment contract following a recent court decision in a case brought against the Labour Party by a number of members, some from within the Jewish community [9].

The complaint from the left, including many from within the Jewish community, in regards the specific unnamed dot Klug refers to can arguably be summerised in the following terms:

The Party, or significant power actors within it, supported by outside agencies such as corporate media and groups, organisations and institutions with vested interests subjectively claiming and seizing:

– Monopoly rights to define all terms in the language and the narrative as incontestable. In this case what is anti-Semitism and how it is and should be defined.

– Monopoly rights to determine what is and is not acceptable ways to think, talk and act enforced with punitive measures.

– Monopoly rights to speak on behalf of an entire community on the basis not of the reality of diversity of views and experience but as a single homogeneous and undifferentiated group. To the extent that any member of that community not conforming to the imposed narrative is denied their identity as part of that community [10].

- Monopoly rights to make claims and allegations and determine sanctions based on the above seizure of those monopoly rights to define, determine and enforce all aspects of the claimed subjective ‘reality’ and its narrative without the need for due process or objective testable evidence to substantiate either claim or allegation.

This latter aspect includes the enforcement of guilt by association. Anyone defending or standing alongside someone subject to this process or challenging the acceptable imposed definitions being classed as ipso facto also automatically guilty of the same ‘offence.’

A narrative deemed incontestable in any way with no tolerance for deviation. Any such deviation being met with instant sanctions from the Parish Guardians of the narrative.

A process where the outcomes for those affected are not only being smeared and subject to character assassination but also cancelled, de-platformed, and expelled from the Party en masse for not agreeing to or being critical of particular narratives with no effective and transparent due process. [11]

Klug implicitly recognises the above process is not limited to his misuse of antisemitism for political purposes dot. Nor is it a process limited to the political right.

Other, generally unnamed, dots subject to the same process Klug identifies — demonising and pursuing an individual (or group) and even going further by depriving them of their job or protection of the law [12] for largely political purposes, sometimes viciously — seem to be proliferating. Particularly within the political left.

Just as critics of Israel (Jewish critics included) are depicted as antisemitic, so, to take one high profile example of the same process at work, are those who insist sex is binary and biological (trans-women like Deborah Hayton included [13]) depicted as transphobic.

Just as to be accused of anti-Semitism is to be guilty of it, notably in the McCarthyite climate of a British Labour Party deeply and overtly hostile to all talk of class, so is it with the transphobia charge.[14]

A process used by those who cares less about what is being done, and more about who is doing it to whom. Those designated as virtuous can do no wrong, and those designated as villains can do no right. At every level. In every context.

Resulting in Jewish members of the Labour Party who have been accused of anti-Semitism and expelled/de-platformed from the Labour Party organising an event on free speech where at least one participant is de-platformed for having previously defended the free speech rights of someone else [15] for exercising them. At the same time smearing by association anyone who questions the monopolised process, narrative and definitions which brought about that de-platforming.

In addition to sharing a common process and its features in both of these examples — one coming from the political right, the other from the political left — there are some interesting dialectics occurring. All of which are reactionary and regressive and which should have no place within the left.

Firstly, there is the implicit assumption any single individual from a designated “protected group” automatically represents the views of everyone in that group. The evidence that in objective reality this is contested is problematic.

Problematic because the approach and its process creating a manufactured and artificial hierarchy of oppression where rights are ruthlessly taken and enforced whilst denying the basic social reciprocity of the same rights to others.

This occurs as a result of a self-deception with very real consequence where simply making a subjective unsubstantiated and unevidenced assertion or allegation — someone has been throwing kittens out of a van/criticising Israel or political Zionism is anti-Semitic/there is and never can be any conflict of rights between one group and another — is taken as sufficient justification to make it so and incontestable without the need for argument or evidence.

Indeed, in a circular logic any occurrence of argument on the assertion, however subjective it is, or request for substantiating evidence is often sufficient to result in a purity spiral [16] of allegations designed to intimidate and silence what is regarded as unacceptable dissent from the imposed narrative.

A subjective narrative made up of three elements:

(i) refusal to recognise and accept any possibility of anyone within the monopoly defined wider self-selected/referenced group/gang could or would ever act in bad faith by taking advantage of any system of rights to the detriment of others. In industrial parlance ‘kicking the arse out of it’;

(ii) conversely, with anyone not part of the wider self-identified group/gang the opposite is the case. With no room for consideration of good faith positions outside of the group/gang. Anything not totally in line with the artificially manufactured “reality” and its narrative is by definition bad faith acting by others against the purist position of that subjectively derived ‘reality’;

(iii) selective application of the espoused principle by limiting it to one group and denying the same reciprocal rights to others. Insisting only they and no other identifiable group have the sole monopoly legitimate right to express, advance and enforce their subjective feelings and version of reality on grounds that anyone else is acting in bad faith and automatically guilty of oppressive hatred by ‘imposing their reality on others.

A disingenuous and dishonest position and approach, employing a blatant double standard, on a number of levels designed to intimidate and silence.

Regardless of the issue under consideration this refusal to recognise, never mind accept, the possibility of any adverse outcomes for anyone else as a result of this subjective and purist approach and position has direct and negative real life practical consequences.

The subjective rejection of any possible negative consequences and outcomes arising from bad faith actions does not actually, in the objective real world, prevent or make go away varying degrees of abuse which will occur regardless of how much it is wished otherwise.

From generations of real people whose lands, ability to live and lives are stolen on the pretext of any criticism of those consequences being classified as the highest and worst form of racism in an artificially created and manufactured hierarchy of oppression; through to the problematic mixing, as a matter of normal practice, natal men and women in prisons, rape crisis centers, and women’s refuges through to enforced inequality in competitive sport and the administration of drugs as a convenient substitute for robust and sensitive therapies for vulnerable children. [17]

Its why due process and evidence based inquiry exists. Why anyone and everyone has, as a result of generations of struggle, the right to a fair hearing or even trial based on testable objective evidence rather than the subjective opinion of whoever shouts the loudest or has the most resources. To test individual competing claims on the basis of an objective external reality.

“Because [objective] evidence and facts are the keystone of civilisation and the alternative is a regression to witch trials and lynchings and people being hanged for heresy.” [18]

An alternative not limited to witch trials and lynchings. On a spectrum from losing your job over an allegation — whether its throwing kittens out of a van, anti-Semitism for criticising a Government, or not agreeing with a particular narrative — through to being invaded and bombed.

Drilling down deeper the insistence on the primacy of subjective based individual/group narratives over testable evidence based objective social reality, because objective society does not exist, only the subjective feelings and narratives of the individual and the group, has familiar echoes.

It should do because this is the narrative of “no such thing as society, only the individual and the family” philosophy of Thatcherism.

An approach which should be anathema to any political or social based group, organisation or institution claiming to be progressive or of the left. It is divisive and represents an extremely effective divide and rule Class based attack using the disguise of left/progressive labels. Salami slicing groups in society which do and should have more in common with each other in a hierarchy of oppression sold as “progressive” by identity politics.

Driving a coach and horses through the principle of equality in terms of objective treatment and approach in favour of subjective — ie selective — judgement based on identity and where that subjectively manufactured identity is located within that hierarchy of oppression pecking order and rejecting outright any practical notion of a wider society.

Randism on steroids. The rallying cry was once ‘No Pasaran.’ Today it is ‘No Reciprocation.’ Thatchers no such thing as society coming home to roost in a cuckoo that pretends to be ‘left’ and ‘progressive.’

A process and approach which ultra emphasises subjective based differences to divide what should be united. Where Class based action is neutralised in favour of an atomised approach of a war of all against all in order to achieve and maintain control against any practical challenge to the current status quo within that artificially manufactured hierarchy of oppression and the primacy of its narrative. Which is why it is actively supported and financed by authoritarian State institutions and organisations from the police service and judiciary through to corporations and the media — both corporate and in some cases “left” media — across a variety of issues. [19]

“Thus arises an intriguing ‘binary’ relationship between extreme individualistic subjectivism and extreme state authoritarianism. Assertion of non-negotiable pseudo-sacrosanct narcissistic power is common to both. Objective law as irreducible sphere of reality is subverted by arbitrary personalism. Might determines right. Autocracy of self-ID is mirrored by autocracy on high.”

Fearghas MacFhionnlaigh [20]

The political right in the UK have been practicing this process and behaviour for far longer than the political left and yet the territory in which this process is located, with its Corporate Establishment right wing philosophical and ideological basis, is being sold and designated not just as “culture wars” by the political right against the supposedly ‘woke’ political left it is also being sold by the right as as originating within and owned by the left.

Something which inexplicably some parts of the political left appears at least comfortable with implicitly accepting, along with all the ‘baggage’ which goes with it, as integral to the political left and its now narrative dominant project.

This rebranding and relabeling something as “left” or “progressive” makes it possible to enforce and get away with any old reactionary policies and behaviours. [21] A double whammy because too many on the left are are eagerly embracing this process and its reactionary ideology and insisting it is ‘progressive.’

The political left’s abdication — allowing the authoritarian right to re-frame a reactionary right wing approach and philosophy as belonging to the political left with the left doing a great deal of the heavy lifting to promote and impose it — is a gift to the political right as it allows those on the political right to pose as the sane ones.

Indeed, the political right can barely believe their luck. Not only are significant parts of the political left doing all the heavy lifting for this post-modernist/post structuralist Thatcherite/Randian contagion — which the Establishment elite have injected into the left body politic using Establishment institutions and organisations acting as support for the enforcement of the process and its narratives — it is making it possible for the political right to gain significant ground by presenting themselves as coming to the rescue of the wider society as the last bulwark against mob rule.

An issue only partially recognised in a recent Fabian Society issued study authored by Kirsty McNeill and Roger Harding [22] which attempted to analyse this problem.

‘Partially’ because although there was a recognition of what the political right are doing there appears little recognition of the reality of there being a great deal of meat on that bone for the political right courtesy of the political left. 

Mis-framing and wishing away real issues by caricaturing them as based on zero sum thinking. Eschewing uncomfortable and inconvenient objective evidence whilst at the same time using the same denial of reciprocation to others as identified above.

If the political left genuinely seeks to be taken seriously in terms of doing the business it needs to engage with these realities in a mature and grown up manner rather than operating as though it were in a school playground. 

Continuing to drive out and isolate significant sections of its own base using this rebranded reactionary philosophy as the core of its project will only serve to further fracture and fragment both its activist and wider supporter base in a society those making the most noise clearly, like Foucault and his contemporary acolytes among them, don’t accept exists.

Ordering people on pain of every form of ostracism, backed by Establishment Institutions and Corporations, to ‘wheesht for Thatcherism’ is not and never will be a successful or winning approach.

Dave Hansell

Appendix

[1] http://steelcityscribblings.uk/wp/

[2] https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/i-will-sign-up-to-all-of-boards-asks-in-antisemitism-fight/

[3] In the first example those given the instruction silently handed over the necessary tools to complete the task, retreated a safe distance in the works vehicles, and sat drinking freshly brewed tea to witness the existential outcome of subjective opinion v objective reality. Whilst on that occasion the outcome was not explosive its not one I’d put money on today. The second example also resulted in a win for objective reality.

[4] Suskind, Ron (October 17, 2004). “Faith, Certainty and the Presidency of George W. Bush”. The New York Times Magazine. ISSN0028–7822

[5] https://wingsoverscotland.com/the-problem-with-being-liberal/

“How does it work? Who gets to define what is or isn’t offensive to any group of people? Is it the first to tweet or to get a quote out to the media? Is it the one with most Twitter followers? Is it the richest one who can afford the best/most lawyers? Is it based on a majority, and if so who’s doing the counting?

[6] https://randompublicjournal.com/2021/04/12/welcome-to-foucault-world-suckers/

“This atomised and idiosyncratic truth is actually all that matters, and anyone telling you that it’s nonsense is oppressing you by forcing their own version of reality on you.

[7] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_Klug

[8]

https://www.jmberlin.de/sites/default/files/antisemitism-in-europe-today_2-klug.pdf

[9] https://www.jewishvoiceforlabour.org.uk/article/labour-party-wins-all-members-lose/

“The Court confirms, as expressed in the judgement, that Labour Party is effectively a member’s club and that members have a contractual relationship with the Labour Party and the Rule Book forms the basis of this contract.”

N.B: An observation of this judgement against Labour Party Members with parallels not dissimilar to that of UK employment contract law which treats both parties to the contract as equal individuals. A legal fiction which conveniently ignores the disparities of resources between the two parties and, as a result, the great power disparity which exists de facto though not de jure.

[10] http://www.middleeasteye.net/big-story/labour-antisemitism-jewish-opponents-israel-targeted

“For the first time in history, Jews are being told they have to be Zionists. It’s a heresy hunt. The Labour Party has been suborned in a battle between orthodox and heretical Jews. Why does the Labour Party get to decide what Jewish values are?” Cushman says that he and others are part of a long tradition of non- and anti-Zionist Jewish socialism.”

[11]https://labourlist.org/2021/07/labours-ruling-body-agrees-to-proscribe-socialist-appeal-and-three-other-groups/

[12] https://policyexchange.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Prejudging-the-transgender-controversy-.pdf

Paragraph’s 22 & 23 are particularly relevant:

22. Irrespective of the Judge’s mistakes as to the meaning of the GRA, it is also surprising that the Judge thought that Ms Forstater (who is a private individual) was “not entitled to ignore” the GRA.

23. This seems to suggest that disagreeing with legislation, even legislation that takes a firm position on a question relevant to human rights, is necessarily outside the protection of discrimination law. There is at present vigorous debate on the terms of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill and whether it provides sufficient protection for freedom of expression: if the bill passes in its current form, would protester’s against it be unable to invoke their freedom of expression because Parliament has decided what the correct balance is and they are “not entitled to ignore” that?
 Such a winner-takes-all approach to legal decisions, where the losing side in a debate becomes semi-outlawed (that is, they are not eligible for the law’s protection), sounds more totalitarian than rights-based as a legal order.”

N.B.: This observation being derived from the judge’s statements and conclusions that Forstater, and by definition anyone else, was not entitled to have the protection of law for views which, in effect, went outside of a particular Establishment narrative.

[13] https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/12/22/transgender-woman-accused-hate-speech-wearing-t-shirt-stating/

[14] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-57281448

Where Stonewall head Nancy Kelley explicitly made the link by likening what she referred to as so-called “gender critical” beliefs to anti-Semitism.

[15] https://labourwomensdeclaration.org.uk/news/no-platforming-and-the-so-called-left-a-speech-by-esther-giles/

[16] https://unherd.com/2020/01/cast-out-how-knitting-fell-into-a-purity-spiral/

[17] Children who in every other context and circumstance are considered to be too young to be criminally responsible, consume alcohol, buy glue or sharp instruments, vote, enlist in the military, or even in some cases cross the road unsupervised.

[18] https://wingsoverscotland.com/the-problem-with-being-liberal/

[19] For example:

Glenn Greenwald
An Ugly War Among Leftist YouTubers Shows Two Common, Toxic Pathologies Plaguing U.S. Politics
The Young Turks’ co-hosts Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian, respectively, accuse independent journalist Aaron Maté of being “paid by the Russians” and working for “disgusting dictators,” May 26, 2021. An incredibly vicious and protracted war is being waged, seemingly with no end in sight, among numerous prominent liberal and left-wing commentators who work p……
Read more

https://dissidentvoice.org/2021/01/how-the-left-is-being-manipulated-into-colluding-in-its-own-character-assassination/#more-112477

Glenn Greenwald
The Left Continues to Destroy Itself and Others With Evidence-Free Destruction of Reputations
NYC comptroller and mayoral candidate Scott Stringer campaigning with his son Maxwell (Photo by Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images) The leading progressive Democratic candidate in New York City’s mayoral race, City Comptroller Scott Stringer, has had his chances for victory along with his reputation…
Read more

https://unherd.com/2021/05/women-dont-feel-safe-with-labour/?fbclid=IwAR2gxqXUFnEfh50-UI9DU43XEHhBSfALmGqHznwAowdyakVO8T6yvQsKHes

[20] https://gordondangerfield.com/2021/05/09/letter-to-a-friend/#comment-2979

[21] http://steelcityscribblings.uk/wp/2021/03/02/power-just-loves-identity-politics/

[22] Counter Culture: How to Resist the Culture Wars and Build 21st Century Solidarity.

https://fabians.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/FABJ9000-Fabian-Ideas-pamphlet-210628-WEB.pdf