The liberal enlightenment rests on three core tenets:
- Social cohesion enabling peaceful coexistence of all communities and relative equality of opportunity.
- Participatory democracy to resolve common disputes that arise in any complex society reliant on advanced technology
- Intellectual freedom to facilitate the free exchange of ideas letting ordinary people speak truth to power
I could also add a fine balance between personal freedom and collective responsibility. Indeed free speech itself needs legal protection to ensure rational debate and prevent a descent into authoritarianism. Just consider the recent debate at Kings College London between objectivist Yaron Brook of the Ayn Rand Institute and Youtube commentator Carl Benjamin, better known online as Sargon of Akkad. In a liberal democracy one may agree, disagree and even vehemently disagree with their expressed opinions. One may also discount their analysis as uninformed or even potentially dangerous, if we acted on their conclusions. That is the purpose of rational debate within a democratic system that respects the will of an informed and politically aware electorate. So a bunch of upper middle class students associated with Antifa (which in the UK is usually known as Hope not Hate or is that Hate not Hope?) decided not to engage in rational debate, but to disrupt the discussion and moronically chant empty anti-fascist slogans. The irony is that neither speaker advocated an extreme concentration power in the state, the curtailment of basic civil liberties or discrimination along ethnic or racial lines. However, even if they did, I'd rather defeat their ideas in a peaceful debate than censor their views altogether. Intellectual freedom does not include the right to silence others or to resort to insensitive and gratuitous insults.
Banning Social Conservatives
This set the stage for two seemingly unrelated sets of events over the last week. First three social conservatives critical of Islam and uncontrolled mass migration were banned from entering the United Kingdom under schedule 7 of the 2000 Antiterrorism Act. The pretext is that their views may trigger acts of violence against Muslims, such as last year's Finsbury Mosque attack by a lone van driver with a history of drug addiction and mental illness. Canadian journalist Lauren Southern and American author Brittany Pettibone are best known as Youtube polemicists. Ms Pettibone's boyfriend, Martin Sellner, is a leading light in the Austrian Identitarian movement, which campaigns for the preservation of European culture. None have advocated violence or even the deportation of law-abiding immigrants in their own own countries. But whether one agrees with their views is neither here nor there, at stake is whether such views may be openly debated and, if not, which other political perspectives may soon be off-limits. They did not seek to settle in the UK, claim benefits, seek employment or break any normal laws, but their musings did fall foul of the Orwellian concept of hate speech. The London Metropolitan Police has helpfully clarified what this ill-defined offence means to them:
A hate crime is when someone commits a crime against you because of your disability, gender identity, race, sexual orientation, religion, or any other perceived difference. It doesn't always include physical violence. Someone using offensive language towards you or harassing you because of who you are, or who they think you are, is also a crime. The same goes for someone posting abusive or offensive messages about you online. If it happens to you, you might be tempted to shrug it off.
In other words, they punish perceived intention rather than actual acts. Thus my musings on the mental health agenda could be deemed hate crimes as may offend psychiatric patients. If we interpret the above definition literally, we cannot voice any opinions about the physical or intellectual capabilities of other human beings for fear of hurting someone's feelings. May I suggest that some people are morbidly obese in part because of lifestyle choices and not only because of genetic susceptibility. When will we start arresting people for claiming that obesity may be a preventable condition? Clearly rational debate is not possible if we resort to gratuitous offence, but there must be a platform for debates on all ideas, however absurd or hateful they may seem. If my neighbour were morbidly obese, I would avoid directly attributing to her any direct blame for her condition, whose causes might be a complex interplay between environmental stressors, social alienation, peer pressure and biology. However, it would be irrational not to objectively investigate the causes of a medical condition that not only shortens lifespans, but also limits personal independence.
Just as news broke about the full extent of the Telford grooming gang scandal and the way criminal investigations were hampered by political correctness and corruption, the BBC turned its attention to the poisoning of former Russian spy, Sergei Skripal, and his daughter, Yulia, with the notorious nerve agent, Novichok originally developed by the USSR in the 1970s. The government were quick to blame Vladimir Putin's Russian administration directly for this attack. Yes the same government that is happy not just to sell arms to the world's third or fourth largest military spender, Saudi Arabia, but also rolls out the red carpet to its leaders, is more concerned about alleged human rights abuses in Russia while clamping down on free speech in the UK. Saudi Arabia is currently engaged in a murderous bombing campaign in Northern Yemen and has facilitated the arming and funding of ISIS in Syria and Iraq. The Saudi regime is not just responsible for the poisoning a few rogue agents around the world, but has directly aided and abetted unspeakable crimes against humanity and funded virulent strands of Islamic fundamentalism. It truly defies belief that British Foreign Secretary should voice concerns about gay rights in Russia, where homosexuality is legal between consenting adults, while selling arms to a regime that jails people for engaging in homosexual acts.
What we may best call the globalist British mafia, deeply entrenched in the intelligence services, state media, the civil service and naturally in government, unleashed a propaganda offensive, effectively accusing anyone who disputed their version of events of, wait for it, conspiracy theorism. If Sergei Skripal posed such a danger to Vladimir Putin, why would they wait until just before the Russian presidential elections and World Cup to score a massive own goal ? Why would they use a nerve agent like Novichok clearly associated with the former USSR that can kill indiscriminately. Why could they not resort to more conventional means such as setting a honey trap for their former spy and getting his mistress to poison his food? If Putin is in any way responsible for this dastardly act, we can only conclude that he may not be so cunning after all. Besides in the era of instant online communication, Russia can much more effectively extend its influence via Russia Today than by crude attempts to kill long-forgotten exiled traitors. Why would they carry out an act that would empower the UK and other Western governments to censor the Russian antidote to BBC and CNN disinformation? We might entertain the possibility that rogue elements within the Russian state or mercenaries acting on behalf of Russian oligarchs with a grudge against Putin carried out the attack, but it occurred just ten miles from UK's premier chemical weapons research facility in Porton Down. The mainstream media has stressed how the Novichok nerve agent could only have come from Russia, but fail to mention that one of the leading Soviet-era chemical weapons factories was in Uzbekistan, to which US and UK military personnel have gained access since the breakup of the USSR.
There are many good reasons to question the judgment of Jeremy Corbyn, but as leader of the opposition he was almost alone in expressing doubts about the UK establishment's drive to blame the Russia state, in order to impose tougher sanctions and deploy limited military resources to combat a perceived threat from a vast and sparsely populated landmass with extensive natural resources and little motivation to invade the British Isles. Mr Corbyn didn't even challenge the official narrative, he just asked for conclusive proof before we risk escalating hostilities with Russia and potentially triggering World War Three. Naturally most MPs recycled mainstream Western propaganda about the Syrian civil war levelling the blame at Assad and Putin, rather than at the head chopping militias who the US, UK and Saudi Arabia armed and funded. Not surprisingly the most vehement warmongering came from the usual suspects. Most notably, the author of the infamous 2003 Iraq Dossier, Alastair Campbell, used his column of the New European to advocate an alliance with the rest of the EU against Russia. Interestingly the New European, distributed free in some areas, appeals mainly to the kind of left-leaning young adults who protested againt Alastair Campbell's wars in early 2000s.
Connecting the Dots
How can we connect student campaigns against free speech, silencing Zionist advocates of laissez-faire capitalism, the banning of vocal social conservatives deemed far right from the UK and now the silencing or vilification of anyone who doubts the official narrative about the Salisbury nerve agent incident? It's obvious they are all attacks on intellectual freedom.
How can the UK state fail to protect vulnerable adolescent girls (some as young as 11) from culturally divergent grooming gangs, allow continued unbalanced migration, arm and fund Islamic fundamentalist militias in the Middle East and with a straight face claim it wishes to defend British citizens ? True patriots do not uncritically support their ruling elites, we stand up for the best interests of our families, neighbours, communities and wider society. If our ruling elites consistently pursue policies that threaten the freedom, safety, and security of our communities, we must stand up to tyranny.
Once again, we see an odd alliance of allegedly rightwing social conservatives and avowedly leftwing veteran antiwar campaigners question the official narrative on unfolding events. We need not read the Guardian to learn that the use of nerve agents is a barbaric contravention of human rights or that internecine conflict in Syria is an unspeakable human tragedy. But we must judge news outlets by their recent track record on apportioning blame for these events on the official enemies of our ruling cabal. If we analyse BBC coverage of events in the Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and most recently Syria through a critical lens, we discover numerous claims made over the years which turned out to be either grotesque exaggerations (e.g. allegations that Serb Security Forces were responsible for the death of 100,000 Kosovar Albanians in 1999) to outright lies and staged events such as the notorious 2013 documentary Saving Syria's Children.
I believe the real Jeremy Corbyn is a latter-day idealist, whose passionate defence of radical democratic socialism ironically serves the interests of dark actors with close ties to the world's leading banking cartels and corporations. These power-hungry elites are quite happy for naive students to silence perceived enemies of social justice, for governments to pursue foreign policies that endanger their own people and to oversee unprecedented rates of destabilising demographic and cultural change and for international bodies to introduce Chinese-style media censorship to combat the spectre of unofficial fake news.
We live in dangerous times. Sooner or later as centre of political power continues to move away from North America and Western Europe to East Asia allied with resource-rich Russia, the BBC's disinformation will become public knowledge and its reputation will lie in tatters. The decline of Britain as world power began long before it joined the EU, but with a buffoonish Foreign Secretary and a mumbling Prime Minister, the UK has become a laughing stock. Sadly given events elsewhere in Europe, it is not alone.