Categories
All in the Mind

Billions more on the Symptoms of Social Malaise

brain repair

In the autumn budget the UK government has just decided to pump an extra £20 billion into the struggling National Health Service. Don't get me wrong the tens of thousands of sick people on waiting lists for routine surgical operations would certainly welcome the extra funds. Not least the NHS could use the additional cash to train more nurses rather than rely on agency staff and ready-trained imported labour. We could give trainee nurses more generous grants so we can not only become self-sufficient in medical professionals, but tackle a vicious cycle of long-term welfare dependency in so many communities. We might even pay our nurses more and improve their working conditions with fewer hours and less stress by alleviating chronic overcrowding in some urban hospitals. Another idea might be to reopen or upgrade smaller provincial hospitals to reduce travel time. Here in West Fife, the Accident & Emergency department at the local Queen Margaret Hospital only treats minor injuries. For anything else you have to travel 20 miles to Kirkcaldy.

While successive governments have paid lip service to the many practical steps it could take to improve our health service in the best interests of ordinary tax payers and patients, it staggers from crisis to crisis. The NHS once had a reputation as one of the world's most efficient health services when compared with alternative insurance-based systems common in Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland and certainly much better value for money than the profit-driven US system that incentivises hypochondria and overmedication. As a rule, the NHS works best if you need routine treatment for a well-defined condition or injury. It doesn't fare so well if you want personalised care or want a second opinion about suggested treatment options, which explains the steady growth of the private healthcare sector, often added as a bonus for well-paid jobs. If you want a flu jab, the NHS will gladly comply. Indeed they spend countless millions of tax-payer funded pounds advertising the benefits of flu vaccines. On the other hand if you need physiotherapy to treat intermittent episodes of painful sciatica or any other treatment that requires human expertise, you'll be put on a long waiting list while they advise you which painkillers to take.

Yet guess where the biggest chunk of the new NHS funding will go? I award no prizes for correctly identifying psychiatry as the destination for over £2 billion with specialist psych teams for young people in every A&E unit and in every school. Naturally in these enlightened times, we tend to say mental health to cover all ailments from mild sadness to psychopathic madness. The powers that be seem much more concerned about your mind and soul than your physical wellbeing or personal independence, which usually requires both good general health and a rewarding occupation, namely a purpose in life.

Neuropathology, as we may more accurately call this form of human surveillance, used to play a niche role in public healthcare as it affected less than one percent of the general population, but since the mid 1980s a forever wider gamut of aberrant behaviours and irregular moods have warranted medical attention. There may be nothing new about emotional challenges, misery, obsessions, drug abuse, exhibitionism, promiscuity or violence, but until recently only extreme cases of dysfunctional behaviour merited neurological analysis and, more important, we assumed most adults and even older children should be held responsible for the consequences of their actions. If you stabbed your neighbour in a drunken brawl, your actions would be subject to criminal investigation. Once in jail a criminal psychologist may investigate why some categories of people are more prone to violence than others, but the concept of free will implies not only that you may make rational choices through independent thought, but that you should bear the consequences of any bad decisions you may make especially if your actions harm others. Now if you exhibit noncompliant behaviour, such as throwing acid in someone's face, it is a mental health issue. By this logic we should view the incidence of acid attacks, not as heinous crimes that law enforcement agencies should deter with vigilant policing and harsh sentences, but rather as unfortunate manifestations of social unease in which the assailants are as much victims as the assaulted.

Alas this move should surprise nobody. Just after London's Labour Mayor, Sadiq Khan, announced that we should treat knife crime as mental health issue, the Conservative Home Secretary, Sajvid Javid, made the same claim. Labour have attempted to blame the Tories for not spending enough on police and mental health care, while asking the police to allocate more resources to tackle purported hate crimes or even just perceived hate incidents reported by third parties. By their logic low-life gang members are stabbing young Londoners, and the largest victim group is young Afro-Caribbean males, because too many people express views critical of unbalanced mass immigration on social media.

As many of us await routine operations for physical conditions, the NHS squanders more and more resources on lifestyle medicine. Last week Psychotherapist Bob Wither exposed the growing tendency of vulnerable youngsters on the autistic spectrum to embrace a new variant gender identity. In the past I've questioned the scientific validity of the extended autistic spectrum. Now many of the same awareness raisers who promoted the diagnosis of allegedly neurological disorders such as ADHD, Tourettes, Asperger's or OCD are quite happy to recontextualise the emotional distress of our younger generation as sexual dysphoria leading to lifelong medication and growing demands on public healthcare.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: The true sign of an authoritarian state is its obsession with your mind. Our rulers do not intend to respect our opinions, but seek instead to tame our minds so we comply with their brave new world of supervised underlings.

Categories
Power Dynamics

How to spot an Élitist

Scrabble
or rather how to spot their sycophants.

There is a certain category of pseudo-intellectual whose views are utterly predictable, though this subspecies of mildy affluent trendy lefties may come in a variety of shapes, sizes and intelligence levels. In an insular British context we might refer to this group loosely as Guardian readers, the kind of people who look down disparagingly on unenlightened tabloid readers, but yet also claim to stand up for the downtrodden, especially those who belong to identifiable victim groups. They also regularly fall for mainstream fake news about our rulers' hate figures, hence fanciful conspiracy theories about collusion between Putin, Assad, Nigel Farage, Julian Assange and Tommy Robinson, currently behind bars much to the delight of media pundits.

  1. Free will is an illusion. Your thoughts and behaviours are a result of millions of years of genetic and cultural evolution. Therefore, we can dismiss any inconvenient opinions that do not suit our preferred narrative as mental illnesses, ignorance or backwardness. If you enter into a long debate with an elitist, just ask if they believe in free will and personal responsibility. Logically democracy and individual liberty are meaningless without free will. If you don"™t know what"™s good for you, why should we care what you think?
  2. We need more proactive mental health intervention. When loosely defined nobody could disagree with the importance of nurturing our spiritual as well as our physical wellbeing. Nobody wants to be unhappy or dysfunctional. Whenever you hear talking heads blether endlessly about mental health , what they really mean is the psychiatrisation of the human condition, so that any behaviour or belief at odds with the new orthodoxy can be categorised as some sort of personality disorder. This is really a variant of the above, but watch out for key phrases typical of elitists, "*That"™s just your opinion*", "*That sounds like a conspiracy theory*" or "Have you read XYZ report published in XYZ official journal which refutes your ill-informed anecdotal evidence?". In short your political views are a mental illness and your experience is worthless.
  3. Claims to oppose racism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia and, of course, Islamophobia and to champion the rights of vulnerable disabled people. No self-respecting elitist would want to openly express any prejudice on grounds of race, ethnicity, sexuality, biological sex, gender identity, religion, physical or mental disability status. However, that"™s just a rhetorical device to shut down debate on a wide range of far-reaching social issues that affect not just our sense of identity within previously viable societies, but also our very humanity. What they really mean is that a only minuscule intellectual elite may express any opinions on these subjects. The rest of us are apparently simply too stupid.
  4. Loves fertility clinics. Why have Western elites embraced the LGBTQ+ agenda with such a passion and championed the fertility rights of other groups unable to procreate naturally or raise their children unassisted, while simultaneously introducing invasive measures to spy on traditional two-parent families? In short they do not trust ordinary people to raise the next generation. Fertility clinics and social services transfer responsibility away from families and close-knit communities to the state and biotech businesses. Fertility clinics also pave the way for enhanced biogenetic services available only to professional elites and compliant prospective parents vetted by social services. Such prenatal intervention could not only exclude genetic markers for many diseases and lifelong disabilities, but also insert DNA sequences associated with superior intelligence, physical strength or longevity. While fertility treatment is still very much in its infancy, CRISPR (a weird acronym for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeat) will soon set the stage for the divergence of natural homo sapiens sapiens and genetically enhanced humanoids.
  5. Loves mass migration. Doesn"™t everyone want a second home in the Mediterranean or Caribbean, affordable childminders and plumbers, a wide choice of restaurants and the chance to participate in international professional and academic exchanges? Rhetorically, self-proclaimed progressives love to champion the rights of new migrant communities, while besmirching the more conservative sections of the settled population. Damned angry nativists! Another common tactic is to claim that we"™ve always had such a high level of immigration or to downplay its extent and cultural impact, often moaning about the lack of ethnic diversity in cultural backwaters like Hull or vast tracts of seemingly empty countryside just waiting to be culturally enriched by new housing, roads, shopping malls, windfarms, sewage treatment facilities, hospitals, mosques, gay bars, robotised warehouses, office blocks and day-care centres.
  6. Thinks ordinary people are stupid, unless we can be persuaded to support one of their progressive causes. If you happen to be a working class lad involved in a gay relationship, elitists will love you if faithfully join their LGBTQ++ awareness-raising campaigns, but they"™ll hate you if you campaign against the Islamisation of your neighbourhood because you do not feel safe to walk the streets at night with your boyfriend. If you happen to be a young woman wishing to embark on a career in neuroscience or software development, they will love you if you unite in their crusade against the patriarchy, but they will hate you if you don"™t want to share your changing room with transgender persons wielding male genitalia. Elitists see their favoured victim groups as pawns in a larger chess game to gain greater influence over our future society.
  7. Always sides with global institutions like the European Union or the United Nations or with NGOs like Amnesty International or Oxfam. Trendy lefties, many of whom actually work for these institutions, may occasionally criticise them if they pander too much to populism or protectionism. If an elitist starts talking about reform, what they really mean is even faster cultural change, not listening and learning from the experiences of commoners, the kind of people who cannot afford exclusive properties away from the madding crowd.

Protagonists and Sycophants

Now you may reasonably complain that most trendy lefties are not really that privileged at all. Many struggle to pay their exorbitant rents in overcrowded metropolises, have to cope with traffic congestion and pollution on their cycle to work in chic advertising agencies, may have fallen victim to street crime and some have experienced genuine intolerance of their lifestyle choices from other sections of their diverse multicultural community. Logically their only explanations for such mishaps lie in a concentration of power and privilege in the old guard, the spectre of shortsighted nationalism and ignorant native underclasses buying into xenophobic propaganda from the sensationalist Tabloid press. Indeed any convoluted explanation for society"™s ills seems plausible unless enlightened opinion leaders can label it as in some way politically incorrect.

If you scratch beneath the surface of any middling Guardian reader, you"™ll find they"™re only marginally more successful than the much-maligned Lumpenproletariat (underclasses) and are only a few paycheques away from bankruptcy. If artificial intelligence can replace human lorry drivers or machinists, it can displace lowly graphic designers, accountants, solicitors and recruitment consultants too. Many university-educated professionals may soon join the ranks of the welfare-dependent underclasses. This may in part explain the rise of Corbynism in the UK and the popularity of Bernie Sanders in the US. Yet their one big idea is to use the proceeds of multinationals to bankroll a welfare panacea, which would in effect subjugate us completely to the hegemony of a handful of tech giants. The CEOs of Amazon, Google, Apple, Facebook, Tesla and Microsoft seem quite happy for social justice warriors to demand UBI (universal basic income) and more theoretical rights for all perceived victim groups, because they hold the technological keys to our Huxleyan future.

However, in some parts of the world we"™re beginning to see some overlap in the critiques of the disenfranchised native working classes and the disillusioned left. Both feel abandoned by the political classes and by global corporations. How long will it take for trendy lefties to realise they have more in common with ordinary working people who just want to defend the nation states and mixed economies that helped their parents prosper than with genuine global elitists hellbent on destroying such societies. When will it dawn on wishful-thinking hipsters that the global elites do not really care about their cherished victim groups and will be happy to sell them down the river just like they did with the native working classes of affluent Western countries? Just ten years ago trendy lefties hailed Polish migrants as hardworking taxpayers embracing the opportunities that globalisation provides. Today, some of the same progressive media pundits denounce Polish voters as myopic nationalists for failing to accommodate more North African migrants and find on many issues their darling migrant communities hold more socially conservative views. Yes your average senior project manager on a relatively comfortable salary of 80 to 100K (you need to earn that much to get mortgage on a modest house in SE England) may have more in common with former steelworkers from Port Talbot than they do with the likes of George Soros or Bill Gates. The Guardian readers of today may well be the disaffected has-beens of tomorrow, unable to adapt to a world that no longer needs their expertise or loyalty.

Categories
Power Dynamics

Fakenews Overdrive

BBC Fake News

A mindset pervades the British chattering classes whether nominally on the right, centre or trendy left. One may debate strategy, priorities or even the niceties of ethics, but one may not question the BBC and by extension the other main news outlets and opinion leading institutions. To do so invites immediate ridicule. When I debate online with wishful thinking trendy lefties, they often discount any evidence that does not come from a narrow set of official sources. Essentially nothing is true unless an official fact checker has authenticated it. Not surprisingly, the British government has entrusted the venerable BBC to help impressionable school children spot fake news.

But what if the mainstream media, allied with a vast network of NGOs and psychological warfare specialists, were themselves major purveyors of fake news. At the very least the BBC has an institutional bias in favour of narratives that support the policy objectives of the most powerful corporate lobbies in the UK. This very suggestion is to many tantamount to heresy. Millions of us literally grew up with the BBC and learned to love its abundance of children's programmes, sitcoms, nature documentaries and dramas. Until recently in many households the telly dominated not just the living room, but accompanied family meals and evening relaxation. However, the BBC has long appealed much more to the aspirational and pseudo-intellectual middle classes, while commercial alternatives with their focus on sport and blockbuster movies have appealed more to the working classes. TV news producers know most spectators have a very short attention span. Reports are condensed to show sensational imagery interspersed with short interviews and followed by commentary by professional talking heads and selected eye witnesses. Few have the time or resources to verify whether footage of alleged chemical attacks is real or not. Few will investigate the funding of supposedly neutral humanitarian organisations on the ground. Over the last 7 years most TV viewers will have gleaned mainly that both Assad and ISIS are evil. An allegation gains credibility largely through endless repetition by multiple actors to give the illusion of a consensus. No doubt, most casual BBC viewers believe Bashar Al Assad has repeatedly deployed chemical weapons against civilians. The Syrian government has consistently denied ever using chemical weapons against civilians, and why would it with well-funded Western media operatives waiting to pounce on any hard evidence of such crimes. However, to millions of casual TV viewers such details don't matter. The short version is more war in the Middle East, more bad guys killing innocent civilians and an international community of progressive politicians seeking to punish war criminals on behalf of enlightened human rights activists. The only trouble is we've heard it all before over the former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and now Syria. Ever since the fall of the former Soviet Union Western intervention has seldom succeeded in bringing about the kind of tolerant, liberal and democratic societies that our leaders promised. They may cite Croatia or Slovenia as success stories, but only after a decade-long civil war and much ethnic cleansing. Slovenia and Croatia succeeded only because they have a well-educated citizenry and an economy integrated with their neighbours, while Kosovo remains a hotbed for drug and people traffickers as well as Islamic extremists.

Naturally any media outlet with a distinctive bias can simply select real news stories that suit its agenda and ignore or downplay those that don't. However, sometimes our ruling elites need to manufacture consent for unpopular policies such as wars or mass surveillance by priming the collective psyche with the spectre of new threats or heinous enemies. Moreover, as the establishment still tolerates alternative media to provide the illusion of a freedom-loving democracy, it has to counter all challenges to its narrative.

Let us be clear no government can wage war without collateral damage or unintended civilian casualties, even if it can claim ethical superiority over its enemies or the war itself can be justified in terms of legitimate self-defence or to prevent atrocities on a much larger scale. The Middle East has long been riven by deep ethnic and religious conflicts, exacerbated by a problematic transition from centuries of Ottoman rule through temporary colonial occupation in the aftermath of the First World War, the artificial redrawing of the geopolitical map, overdependence on oil exports and a hundred years of heavy-handed meddling by the major Western imperial powers. No Middle East rulers have ever succeeded in emulating the kind of relaxed and tolerant liberal society that emerged in Western Europe after the Second World War. Back in the 1960s it may have seemed that Middle East would follow in the West's footsteps as the younger generation embraced more liberal values and cultural exchanges among the professional classes brought the civilisations closer. Alas the daydream of a better tomorrow did not last long. By the late 1970s the Lebanese civil war was in full flow and the autocratic Shah of Iran failed to contain resurgent Islamic fundamentalism with much appeal among the country's growing underclasses. While Western European countries succeeded at least partly in extending prosperity and opportunity to the downtrodden working classes through a blend of regulated free market economics and social welfare, a growing proportion of the Middle East's teeming masses were left behind while many in the educated elite fled to the West. In this context Syria remained a rare exception keeping alive the secular pan-Arab dreams of Egypt's former leader, Gamel Abdel Nasser, but in doing so the Baath administration had to suppress the lure of Islamic fundamentalist fuelled by foreign intervention. Most of the state-sanctioned atrocities attributed to what the BBC invariably calls the Assad Regime occurred in the late 1970s and early 80s at a time when the USA and UK trained the Mujahideen to counter the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Tolerant liberal democracies cannot thrive in the midst of civil wars with a complete breakdown in mutual respect and social trust. Neither can they flourish in a country with rapidly changing demographics without a sense of shared identity. The bleak reality many principled antiwar activists often to fail to recognise is the illiberal nature of Islam itself or rather its inability to follow Christianity by embracing the liberal enlightenment and individual freedom, preferring instead complete submission to holy scriptures. Many Muslim majority countries seemed destined to follow the West as late as the 1980s, but many have reverted to a more doctrinaire interpretation of Islamic teachings, leading to a widening gulf in mean fertility rates between Muslim and non-Muslim communities. Strict Islam champions collectivism and fails to reward diligence, creativity and personal responsibility. Unsurprisingly for decades the best and brightest from Islamic world have migrated to the West to escape the very religious extremism that is now growing in Muslim enclaves across Western Europe and parts of North America. Yet Western interventionism has not so much failed to stymie the growth of regressive Islam as it has positively fuelled it or as in the case of Afghanistan, Libya and Syria bankrolled it via Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrein.

The intellectual elites have long feared populism or mob rule, except when they can appeal to common emotions to persuade the public to back a rebranded elite. They believe commoners are too simple-minded to understand the complexities of macro-economics and long-term planning. In most elections we vote mainly on emotions. Thus the Great British public has traditionally favoured death penalty and strict immigration controls, but generally opposed military interventions that do not serve to defend national sovereignty. The only war since 1945 which enjoyed overwhelming public support in the UK was the 1982 reconquest of the Falkland Islands. Most Britons supported the first Gulf War in 1991 following Iraq's short-lived occupation of Kuwait, but mainly because the media presented it as a simple case of standing up to brutal dictators. Tony Blair attempted to rebrand military adventurism as humanitarian peacekeeping. However, as successive missions in the Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya failed to yield the liberal panacea we had been promised, except a façade micromanaged by supranational bodies and NGOs, the Western public grew sceptical. A recent poll suggested as few as 25% of UK voters supported the recent airstrikes against Syria and I very much doubt many have the time or inclination to access alternative media or watch the much-maligned Russian news channel, RT.

Strange Alliances

It's a funny old world where leftwing antiwar activists, including those traditionally critical not only US Imperialism but of Israeli power, fall victim to the kind of censorship they believed reserved for rightwing zealots. Britain's hate speech laws have been used both against elderly Christians opposed to the perceived LGBTQ+ agenda and against Muslims critical of Zionism. Likewise anyone who counters the dominant Western narrative on Syria (that Assad and Russia are to blame for most atrocities and human rights abuses) is pretty much classed as Russian bots or Assad apologists, often likened to obnoxious Holocaust deniers. It hardly matters that the Islamic militias that the US and UK funded to overthrow Assad hate both Jews and Christians or that many on the new right, such as Katie Hopkins or Tommy Robinson, admire Israel. If you're a devout Muslim you could fall foul of hate speech laws for voicing your disapproval of homosexuality. Likewise if you're gay you could be arrested under the same legislation for criticising a religion that abhors your lifestyle. Indeed the only way not to get into trouble is to internalise a Guardianesque worldview of endless progress towards a better more tolerant tomorrow, in which not only do gays and Muslims love each other, but both are united in their condemnation of antisemitism and fully support the benevolent global institutions that seek to replace nation states with a fluid mosaic of vibrant ethnically mixed citadels. While the new expression of globalised multiculturalism has many colours and flavours, it only tolerates a very narrow worldview that trivialises genuine cultural differences in the name of postmodernist social engineering. Countries exist to help us reconcile these differences peacefully. If you want to listen to Beethoven's 5th Symphony at 3 o'clock in the morning, that's fine as long as you respect my need to sleep or enjoy alternative music. Hence we have houses with soundproofed walls and may use headphones to isolate sounds that others may not wish to hear. Your house, your rules. My house, my rules. The same is true of any civic spaces we have to share with our neighbours and fellow citizens. If you want to engage in activities that may infringe on the welfare, security or liberty of others, you should seek a special secluded venue with its own set of rules and customs. Just consider an activity as anodyne as smoking. From the late 19th century right through to the mid 1980s, Western societies displayed an amazing tolerance for this vice. Indeed it often seemed impolite of self-righteous non-smokers to deny smokers an opportunity to indulge in their carcinogenic habit. Then as anti-smoking campaigns began to resonate with the wider public , more and more public spaces became smoke-free. While in the 1960s, when adult smoking rates peaked in Britain and elsewhere, the non-smoking minority had to endure great discomfort in many workplaces and on public transport, today smokers are treated as pariahs forced to bear bad weather outdoors and even forbidden from lighting up in parks or in the vicinity of public buildings such as schools and hospitals. As long we can openly debate the pros and cons of anti-smoking measures in the best interests of all members of society, I don't see a problem. The debate helps us resolve conflicts between collective responsibility and personal freedom, e.g. you may enjoy the freedom to smoke, but are you prepared to pay for your additional healthcare needs and afford others their freedom to breathe fresh air? The point is free speech inevitably includes the right to offend people who partake in practices you may not like. We couldn't ban smoking in 1960s because it would upset around two-thirds of adults. If I rant and rail against selfish motorists, many could take offence. In a perfect world we would all get plenty of exercise and travel by the most energy-efficient and environmentally means, but in practice people have to get to work on time, deliver goods and want to lead their lives to the full.

The true irony of the current situation is that social conservatives, often supportive of their country's armed forces, and leftwing antiwar activists, often dismissive of the plight of war veterans are both victims of political correctness. Some may lament that political correctness forces us overlook underlying biological differences between men and women, while others are more concerned with war propaganda. Life is certainly easier if you recycle the current orthodoxy that nation states are outmoded, Russia is a meddlesome bully, the European Union is a force for good and Muslims wish to live in peace and harmony with the Western LGBTQ+ community. But to believe the polar opposites of this *Guardian-esque *fairytale worldview would be equally misguided. In a complex and technologically interdependent world we have to find peaceful means to reconcile our differences. I'd rather do that through fierce and open debate with divergent sources of information than suppress intellectual freedom. If history is any guide, the alternative to free speech is not a utopia of perfectly synchronised like-minded progressives, but a complete breakdown in social trust leading inevitably to violence and more authoritarian means of people management.

Categories
Computing Power Dynamics

On the Brink of War again

#Fakenews may soon kill millions as the liberal enlightenment gives way to corporate mind control

Barely a month after Donald Trump replaced Rex Tillerson with Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State and appointed John Bolton as senior national security advisor, we stand yet again on the brink of a major military showdown between NATO and an emboldened Russia. Except this time the Eastern Bear has forged strategic alliances with Iran and China and enjoys greater popularity on the ground in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East than the US and its regional proxies, chiefly Saudi Arabia and Israel. Just five years ago such a confrontation would have been unthinkable. Russia may have expressed dissent with US-led military adventures in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria, but it was powerless to act unilaterally. When two million Britons marched against the upcoming invasion of Iraq in late February 2003, Russia Today did not even exist. Indeed the West believed Vladimir Putin would follow in Boris Yeltsin's footsteps to give global big business and Russian oligarchs free reign to exploit the country's copious natural resources. We got our news from alternative media, mainly based in North America or Europe. John Pilger remains one of the few mainstream anti-militarist journalists with decades of war-zone experience to appear occasionally in the Guardian or on the BBC. Many of us agreed with former Federal Reserve chairman, Alan Greenspan, that the war basically about oil. We may have disagreed about the scale of crimes attributable to deposed dictator, Saddam Hussein (though few would absolve him of the kind of state-sanctioned brutality common to most Middle East countries), but observers concur that the US-led occupation has contributed significantly to the region's destabilisation with the proliferation of Islamic fundamentalist militias under the guise of Al Qaeda, ISIS or Al Nusra. While the US State Department blamed Al Qaeda for the infamous 9/11 attacks, they seemed happy to arm their close allies in Libya to topple Gaddafi only 10 years later. Since 2011 the US and UK have not only directly funded Syria opposition militias, they have trained their very own agitprop outfit the White Helmets, set up by former British Army officer and mercenary James Le Mesurier. They masquerade as first responders, but work almost exclusively in rebel-held zones. Their focus is not so much on saving lives as on atrocity re-enactments and photo-opportunities with face-painted children such as the infamous boy in the back of an ambulance, Omran Daqneesh, who came to symbolise the victims of Syrian air force attacks. However, only a few months later after the Syrian government had recaptured Aleppo he appeared alongside his family on Syrian TV decrying the rebel militias.

Ever since the start of the conflict the main Western media outlets have consistently portrayed forces loyal to the Syrian government as the bad guys and ill-defined maze of rebel militias known initially as the Free Syrian Army as the good guys. Bellicose politicians have repeatedly reminded us how Assad is responsible for far more deaths than the opposition, but only if we include the total death toll of a previous Muslim Brotherhood uprising that the Syrian government successfully suppressed in the late 1970s and early 80s. It's almost impossible to keep an accurate tally of deaths attributable to rebels as they can just attribute all deaths to real and alleged air strikes. However, Syria's two and half million Christians have been the worst affected by Islamist Jihadis intent on eradicating all infidels.

Just as the British public began to doubt the BBC's narrative on the Skripal poisoning case (both alleged victims of a lethal nerve agent are amazingly alive), we are being fed more disinformation about purported chlorine or sarin gas attacks in Eastern Ghouta. Why would Assad authorise the use of chemical weapons when his forces were the on verge of defeating their enemies, the head-chopping militias armed by Saudi Arabia? What strategic advantage would Assad have in the age of instant communication? None. It would be a massive own goal. He would have committed the very act that the Western media has long associated with him and would serve to justify immediate reprisals from the US Air Force? Whatever crimes Bashar Al Assad may have committed, he is undoubtedly a smooth operator and gifted strategist. Yet as Donald J Trump resorts to threatening Russian forces in Syria with brand new shiny missiles via Twitter, Assad focuses on rebuilding Syria from the rubbles of the last 7 years of intensive warfare. Astoundingly Boris Johnson's new hawkish persona wins the approval of the guitar-strumming Butcher of Baghdad. Despite his early flag-waving phoney patriotism, arch globalist Tony Blair will probably go down in history not as the man who defeated Saddam Hussein, but as the architect of the breakup of the United Kingdom. If the British regime follows Trump's neocon cabal into a conflagration with Russia, Iran and China which is very likely to lead to a humiliating military defeat as any US-led ground troops would face overwhelming opposition from ordinary Syrians, it may well trigger the breakup of the United Kingdom, destroy Britain's status as a soft power and stop Brexit in its tracks. If World War Three starts, expect alliances to change fast as an ethnically modified Germany realigns with Turkey and Emanuel Macron's France lends his support to John Bolton's vision of regime change, emboldening Islamic fundamentalists both in the Middle East and Europe. If you want endless bloodshed and ethnic cleansing, you may welcome more airstrikes. If you want peace and stability, boycott the organs of war propaganda!

Categories
Power Dynamics

Unmasking the True Enemies of the Liberal Enlightenment

Have you had to much think?

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.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/f5C1cPKmiPc

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.

Russophobia

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.

Categories
All in the Mind Power Dynamics

Guilt by Association

Screaming at a computer

Recently British author Douglas Murray took part in a video chat with the renowned YouTube sensation and self-proclaimed libertarian philosopher Stefan Molyneux. While critical of Radical Islam and mass migration, Douglas Murray has been careful to steer a middle ground. Initially he came across to me as a Blairite, not least because he's associate director of the Henry Jackson Society, a neoconservative think tank that has counted Labour MPs such as Ben Bradshaw and Jim Murphy in its ranks. I wonder how they reconcile their differences over the EU. As a supporter of the 2003 Iraq War, Douglas Murray has earned himself plenty of airtime on the BBC. I suspect his recent congenial conversation with Stefan Molyneux will soon catapult Mr Murray to the outer reaches of the cybersphere, seldom to be seen or heard again on mainstream TV or other approved channels of official news.

Stefan Molyneux openly believes that not only do genetic variations between racial groups affect our intelligence, but such differences are significant and irreconcilable. I don't have time to do justice to this debate because the subject both fascinates and disturbs me as I'm a little uncomfortable with some of the conclusions of leading social biologists like Charles Murray or Nobel Laureate and co-discoverer of DNA James Watson. Not surprisingly, Mr Molyneux has attracted a large following from what we might fairly call racists and I pick my words carefully. In my mind a racist is not someone who is simply proud of their racial lineage or prefers to mingle with others of the same ethnic background, for most Africans, Chinese and Indians would fall into that category. A true racist believes that their perceived intellectual superiority grants them special rights over other racial groups. Apartheid South Africa before 1994 and Zimbabwe as Rhodesia under Ian Smith before 1980 are classic examples of openly racist states that survived into the late 20th century. Their rulers often cited IQ test results to justify excluding most black citizens from the levers of power. Perversely the self-proclaimed liberal intelligentsia now accuses the native working classes of ignorance whenever they fail to endorse their preferred policy options. Ever so subtly both the BBC and Guardian have blamed a lack of education for the unexpected outcomes of the last US Presidential Election or last year's EU referendum. We read terms such as low-information voters, which is a codeword for low-IQ voters unable to interpret conflicting sources of information.

On Wednesday I awoke to the news that Donald Trump had retweeted three videos originally sent by Jayda Fransen, of Britain First, whose main focus is on the rapid Islamisation of parts of urban Britain and the suppression white British identity. Paradoxically the group's leaders often cite Winston Churchill's forthright warmongering against Nazi Germany in the mid 1930s to justify their stance against Islamic supremacism. To be honest, despite living in London for many years with a short period in Leeds, I've only ever seen Britain First online. Jayda Fransen only came to my attention in a series of videos about the town of my high school years, Luton. As far as I know Britain First is a splinter group from the much larger English Defence League, which attracted many football supporters of different backgrounds. Today in Luton the real divide is over allegiance to Islam, not race or ethnic background. The EDL, UKIP and now its splinter organisation, For Britain are all very supportive of Israel and have many members of African, Asian or mixed racial heritage. The Glaswegian anti-Islam activist Shazia Hobbs, of half Pakistani descent, comes to mind. More notably Breitbart columnist, former UKIP leadership candidate and author of No-Go Zones is one Raheem Kassam, who grew up as a Muslim. The main thread that unites these disparate groups is their aversion to Islamic expansionism and their uncritical support for the Jewish State of Israel. Many naive leftists, and I include my younger self in this category, believe in a simplistic black and white world of affluent white imperialists and poor oppressed dark-skinned people. It seemed to make sense in the 19th century, when most wealth was concentrated in Europe and North America and Western governments treated their colonial subjects as second class citizens. Now the same multinationals that once supported British, American, French, Dutch or German imperialism have shifted their support to globalisation. They are not interested in spreading the cultural heritage of the countries that nurtured technological innovation or in granting their working classes any special privileges. They only need an elite of engineers, scientists and managers trained in psychology and neurolinguistic programming to keep their industrial operations afloat. Everyone else is expendable, useful mainly as consumers who earn crumbs from menial jobs that can be automated or from their obedience to an interlocking network of welfare providers.

However, the marginalisation of the native white working class has not succeeded in silencing dissent, merely in disrupting rational debate about how we should deal with an unprecedented rate of cultural change or even if such changes are desirable or a price worth paying for short-term economic growth. So Brendan O'Neill hit the nail on the head in his recent blog post on the Britain First Retweeting Scandal. This fringe organisation is indeed a monster of the establishment's own making. Our soi-disant liberal opinion-leaders have demonised a large cross section of ordinary decent British citizens, who through no fault of their own happen to descend from a long line of Northwest Europeans who settled in these isles, for the crime of wishing to protect what's left of their cultural heritage in a world of permanent uncertainty. I think a narrow focus on Islam is misplaced or rather its growth and the ensuing culture clash are symptoms rather than causes of a greater malaise. Would radical Islam pose such a threat if our rulers had not destabilised the Middle East and had not allowed the creation of parallel communities in towns and cities which until recently were boringly monocultural with only a trickle of immigrants who had little choice but to assimilate? Can we not at least discuss the causes of the expansion of radical Islam ? Is it fair for working class Europeans to accommodate more Muslim migrants because of the latter group's much higher birth rate? Ironically the very mention of demographics and environmental sustainability annoys both the Christian Right and Islamic fundamentalists, for both believe in large families despite a dramatic drop in infant mortality. The population of Africa and the Middle East is not rising so fast because women are having more babies, but because more babies survive thanks to modern medicine and better sanitation. Subsistence farming can no longer sustain such large populations, leading to a massive oversupply of migrant labourers and beggars in the burgeoning metropolises of the developing world. In such an environment it is easy to see the appeal of radical universalist ideologies that promise welfare for all in exchange for doctrinal subservience. This explains the seemingly odd alliance between the Marxist Left and Radical Islam. They both ultimately lead to an extreme concentration power in state or corporate institutions. What is the point of feminism or the empowerment of women, if all but the most privileged citizens, of either gender, have to submit to the will of higher authorities governing every aspect of human behaviour? I would hope we could have an honest debate on this subject without resorting to unnecessary shaming through guilt by association or pointless virtue-signalling.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/eAsDYc6vR5A

Douglas Murray discusses the concept of guilt by association with American philospher and neuroscientist Sam Harris.

Categories
All in the Mind Computing

On Social Competitiveness and Human Nature

As a species we combine social solidarity and shared culture with a strong competitive spirit. In a way these variant behaviours represent the true yin and yang of the human psyche, collectivism versus individualism or social cohesion versus self-betterment. One could argue that our social and technological reality would never have progressed without these instincts. Idealists have long envisaged a collectivist society devoid of competition at all levels in which our only motivation in life is to further the greater good of society as a whole and all rewards, both material and spiritual, are shared equally. Yet no modern society has achieved these egalitarian aims. As much as many of us may preach equality, at a personal level we remain highly competitive in our social interactions and choice of partners. All too often we preach social compassion in public, but practice social exclusivity in private.

Our technology inevitably relies on prior art or the acquired body of human knowledge accumulated over successive generations, while our social fabric and mores have evolved through centuries of experimentation and gradual adaptation. Social solidarity starts in the family where mothers and fathers sacrifice their body and soul to ensure the survival of the next generation and care for their living forebears. As societies evolved from small hunter-gatherer communities to larger fiefdoms and eventually nation states after the agrarian revolution, we had to share resources and infrastructure with a wider group of people with a common set of cultural traits and values. Yet societies remained profoundly unequal and riven by strong class chasms that prevented social mobility. If you were born a peasant and had to till the land from an early age with a rudimentary diet that stunted physical growth, you stood little chance of progressing to the professional classes or nobility, except potentially through marriage or adoption. The industrial revolution disrupted the feudal class system and later led to the expansion of state education and growing demand for a new class of literate and technically qualified workers. Much of the political debate since has revolved around two contrasting ideals:

  1. Equality of opportunity: Here we allow healthy but peaceful competition in social interactions and in the labour market, but the state intervenes mainly to ensure a level playing field for all children by funding universal education and providing a social safety net to prevent extreme poverty. However, this principle cannot guarantee equal success, which may depend on inherent aptitudes and biological differences, e.g. success in athletics may depend on training and diet, but also genetically determined physique.
  2. Equality of outcome: Here the state intervenes proactively to ensure everyone can attain the same socio-economic status through positive discrimination and massive investment to help underperformers. This principle identifies the least successful as victims of purported oppression, exclusion or prejudice. Here we should distinguish between giving everyone a fair chance to prove their worth and rewarding incompetence or demotivating excellence.

In truth neither approach has worked. As long as we have vast differences in wealth and culture, it will remain practically impossible to ensure a level playing field. The rich can always buy homes in the most exclusive neighbourhoods, shield their offspring from the worst aspects of today's anti-intellectual hedonism and hire childminders and private tutors. On the other hand the last 50 years of social engineering and positive discrimination in Western Europe, especially in Scandinavia, have failed to yield the results many envisaged in the 1960s. Men and women are not the same, at least according to most recent neurobiological research. Women continue to prefer people-oriented and caring professions rather than more technical or object-oriented professions, as revealed in one of the world's most gender-egalitarian countries, Norway. Likewise not everyone is academically gifted. Many of us are much more hands-on and prefer learning through a mix of practical experience and social osmosis. We can't all swat away for hours on end to pursue a career in engineering or scientific research, because the acquired knowledge would remain too abstract for many. Indeed that's problem with much of academia. They can develop mathematically correct theories and extrapolate internally logical conclusions based on selective facts or epidemiological data. The theoretical approach that drives so much of modern corporate and government policy making has one major flaw. It fails to take into account all factors that are either unknown or considered irrelevant. Back on planet earth simple practical people take such unknown and unforeseen factors for granted. Our daily experiences often defy academic theories, but are still dismissed as mere anecdotal evidence until they appear in an official report. So who's right? Theoreticians or practical laypersons? The answer is both in different ways. An academic may envisage a nanochip with a processing capacity greater than a human brain. A layperson may suggest that analogue human brains do not work in the same way as digital computers and they'd be right, but of our knowledge is fuzzy, i.e. based on a collection of associated concepts. However, cybernetic luddites have repeatedly been proven wrong. Advanced speech recognition, natural language processing, satellite navigation and even self-driving cars have long passed the proof-of-concept stage and promise to transform our lives. Cumbersome desktop computers gave way to more compact laptops, soon superseded by forever more sophisticated and versatile mobile devices in the form of smartphones, tablets, e-readers and watches. Academics may better understand the potential of cybernetic technology, but they fail to get to grips with the disruptive technology's impact on the lives of millions of ordinary people, who may soon be rendered either redundant or completely subservient to corporate control.

Procreative Competition

Few aspects of human nature are as socially competitive as our mating or sexual bonding strategies. Sex is both a social taboo and something we all intimately crave, when we're in the mood and with the right partner. Recreational eroticism has deep biological roots that ultimately seek to maximise our chances of passing on our genes and thus our cultural influence onto the next generation. We can transfer our cultural influence through adoption or through our life's endeavours, but until recently the biological family remained the primary means of preserving one's legacy for posterity. Naturally sexual desire is psychologically complex. Our erotic urges are much more powerful than our need to conceive more offspring than we can reasonably bring up. Such urges, especially among young men, merely satisfy hormonal impulses and boost our sense of self-esteem.

We thus have both sexual selection, a process that affects all sexually reproducing species, and erotic selection, in which we choose to win the affection and favours of the most affable mates to enhance our status or our gratification. Players in this game may vaunt their physical desirability or their socio-economic status. A young woman may delude herself that she has just fallen in love with her affluent married boss, with whom she first slept while attending a business conference together. A sociologist would ask why some women fall for guys 20 or 30 years their senior, who are way beyond their physical prime and have other family commitments, rather than men in their age group. Numerous studies have shown that women actively pursue the most successful men, who are inevitably both a small subset of all adult males and are likely to be older than most attractive women, typically aged between 18 and 30. Believe it or not there is no shortage of heterosexually inclined young men who would like to mate with attractive females in their age group, but not enough females who aspire to mate with low-grade males who have yet to prove their worth. This explains two key differences between male and female mating strategies even in cultures where both promiscuity and contraceptives are socially acceptable. A young man can boost his self-esteem and thus gain a higher status merely by virtue of scoring with a physically attractive female. By contrast young women target high status males, or at least those perceived to have a high status. In other words young men would be happy to score with most younger women, provided they are not grotesquely overweight or suffer from some other hideous bodily imperfection. Indeed some low-status young males are so desperate for sexual encounters they can easily reassess their physical desirability criteria and make do with almost any potential partner available. Young women tend to be much pickier and effectively disregard most men in their age group. As a result a minority of alpha-like males get a disproportionate amount of female attention. Luckily nature does provide some checks and balances. Not all women pursue the high risk strategy of targeting alpha males. If a woman seeks commitment, affection and economic security from a relationship, a mildly successful beta male is more likely to reciprocate, and more important, stay loyal. However, given women and men differing erotic needs, an open sexual market tends to empower females more than males. Men create most of the impulsive demand, while women control the supply. To make matters worse a strong cultural preference for males in much of the Middle East, India and China has led to a growing imbalance of males and females at birth. Worldwide we have 1.06 males under 15 per female of the same age group. In China that ratio rises to 1.2. Indeed male homosexuality may be a reaction to both biological and economic imbalances. Sex may well be more fun when both partners understand each other's erotic needs, do not seek to gain other favours in exchange and need not worry about unwanted pregnancies or potential parental responsibilities.

Attractive women can thus play two games: reproductive selectivity and erotic selectivity. The former is fairly easily to understand in purely sociobiological terms. More successful men are not only better able to provide for their offspring's economic needs, they are also more likely to pass on better genes. By contrast erotic selectivity rewards men who best meet women's other emotional and economic desires. Put another way, we could describe wealth and power as the ultimate aphrodisiacs.

Undoubtedly environmental factors play a significant role in determining available opportunities, cultural outlook and socio-economic success in life, but we'd be foolish to deny natural physiological and indeed neurological differences among human beings. When it comes to partner selection, nature can be very cruel. Culture may affect which attributes are most valued by members of the opposite sex, but some players will always be at a relative advantage in the mating game.

Networking

The old saying goes it's not what you know, but who you know , but at the end of the day some of us do require some hard skills that extend beyond social networking and communication. Many modern professions ranging from marketing, sales, project management, recruitment to psychotherapy, policing, social monitoring, public relations, media presentation and entertainment depend primarily on advanced social skills. These mean our ability not only to interact with people from different walks of life and cultural backgrounds, but identify their weaknesses and predilections in order to modify their behaviour. People managers need enough technical expertise to win the trust of their more practical team members and see their projects to a successful completion, but their main task is to ensure workers not only comply with business requirements, but do not hold the business to ransom. That's why many technical tasks are assigned to teams with multiple layers of management rather than to one to two competent engineers, who may get the job done faster and more efficiently. If business managers can keep engineers focussed on circumscribed fields of endeavour, they can hide the full implications of their projects from well-paid technicians, e.g. technology developed for medical purposes could be adapted for military use.

Ironically as we depend more and more on technology whose inner workings few of us truly understand, the world's major tech companies are busy investing more in psychoanalysis and social engineering than they are in hard science.

Categories
Power Dynamics

Who’s really behind Momentum ?

Trotsky and the Neocons

How former Blairites morphed into radical advocates of a borderless utopia

Politics is really the art of winning influence over other power brokers to further one's true agenda, which may be self-aggrandisement, commercial interests or the pursuit of long-term ideological change. Personally I think most politicians fall into the first category of wishful thinking opportunists, eager to make a few gestures to please their electoral base, but more concerned with their career. Over the last century or more it seems it hardly matters who wins parliamentary elections, big business will always get its way anyway. The old dichotomy of a state-interventionist redistributionist Labour Party and a more laissez-faire pro-business Conservative Party was always a mere façade. In reality big business supported most of Labour's radical social transformation policies. The age of mass consumerism required a compliant but contented populace, something that naked capitalism could never provide left to its own devices. Indeed welfare dependency rose fastest not in the 1960s or 70s under Labour, but in the 80s under Margaret Thatcher as manufacturing moved overseas.

In the last two years British politics has undergone some quite unexpected realignments. The reemergence of Left Labour as a major force in British politics under veteran backbench rebel Jeremy Corbyn has taken many by surprise. Labour now has over 600,000 members, mainly critical of Tony Blair's legacy as a poodle of US foreign policy and big business. Back in 2003 many Momentum supporters would have marched against the US-led invasion of Iraq. I remember powerful speeches from the late Tony Benn, a younger Jeremy Corbyn and a grandiloquent George Galloway. The protest attracted broad support from disparate groups. The two most visible contingents were the far left, in their neo-Trotskyite and neo-Stalinist incarnations, and the Muslim Council of Britain. We also had a lower-key ensemble of mainly middle class Greens and left Labour activists embarrassed with their leadership. However, most participants were just well-intentioned teachers, social workers, charity workers, learning support assistants and even a few with normal jobs who were like me just generally disgusted with the idea that our government was about to authorise a military intervention that would likely trigger a wider conflict. Two years later the British electorate gave Tony Blair's government a reduced majority, but with just 35% of popular vote (and only 21.5% of potential voters). Many left-of-centre opponents of the war such as myself voted either Liberal Democrat or SNP in protest. When the Labour lost to a Conservative-led coalition with the Liberal Democrats in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, this rainbow coalition regrouped to oppose cuts in social services, welfare and the perceived privatisation of healthcare. Nonetheless the general public had little appetite for a traditional left platform that might include the re-nationalisation of privatised services and industries, much higher taxes for the rich and massive cuts in defence spending. On this latter point many fail to realise that while conservative public opinion tends to oppose military adventurism in far-flung places, it's all in favour of defending the realm. In power New Labour seemed to take the opposite approach overstretching limited military resources in numerous conflicts around the globe, while failing to defend national borders, literally instructing border officers to wave through new migrants with minimal checks. Amazingly working class voters were much more concerned with social cohesion in Birmingham, Bradford or Luton than media reports of atrocities in Baghdad, Kabul or Pristina.

We may speculate that social media has played a major role in building support for the various causes that tend to inspire virtue-signalling trendy lefties. However, this apparent shift may reflect the changing strategies of corporate wheelers and dealers eager to undermine the residual power of national governments and replace traditional cultures with a global superculture.

Since the fall of the former Soviet Union, Marxism has kept a low profile, despite the fact many Western far-leftists had long distanced themselves from Stalinism. In Britain the Socialist Workers Party used the slogan Neither Washington Nor Moscow but International Socialism. As early as the 1930s Antonio Gramsci realised the workers would not rise up to overthrow their capitalist overlords, without a cultural revolution. Ironically Mussolini's government pioneered a close collaboration between the state and large companies, known as corporativismo, although in Italian a corporazione was not a limited liability company, but a state entity that coordinated smaller industrial concerns. Nonethless mid 20th century fascist regimes believed strongly in close liaison between the state and private enterprise. They viewed democracy as an illusion and tended to prefer plebiscites as a form of patriotic consultation. Gramsci feared that a workers' uprising in the more advanced capitalist countries would result in the kind of national statism we saw both in the German Third Reich and Stalin's Russian Empire. Many of us misunderstood what Marxism really meant. Marx did not argue for an all-powerful national state to protect the interests of local workers against predatory global corporations. Instead he argued that modern capitalism would inevitably yield to socialism, which in turn would eventually evolve into stateless communism, in the same way as primitive communism (based on an idealised Rousseauian view of early humanity) gave way to slave societies, feudalism and later, following the industrial revolution, capitalism. Early Marxists concerned themselves as much with culture as with economics. In 1884 Friedrich Engels wrote The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State advocating the eventual dissolution not only of private property, but of nation states and families. Engels genuinely envisioned a world free of economic, ethnic or sexual hierarchies where we would be motivated not by personal betterment, familial or tribal advantage, but by the progress of humanity as a whole. Over the last 120 years Marxists have mainly debated how to achieve these ends.

As the student-led protest movements of the 1960s failed to inspire the working classes of Western Europe, who despite their daily struggles were by and large glad they did not live on the other side of the Iron Curtain, the Marxist Left, still strong in Italy and France, devised a new strategy, Eurocommunism, which advocated a mixed economy and gradual social reform. Indeed on practical policies little distinguished the Italian and French Communist Parties from their social democratic cousins in Britain or West Germany, where local communist parties struggled to win popular support. On the great divide between the Warsaw Pact and NATO, the mainstream Labour Party remained staunchly Atlanticist in outlook. The Eurocommunists simply recognised that the Soviet Union could not serve as a model that would unite the working classes of the West with their comrades in the developing world. Their aims had not changed, only their strategy. Yet among a small clique of intellectuals in the Labour Party and the tiny CPGB (Communist Party of Great Britain), the New Left exerted much influence via organs such as the Socialist Register and later Red Pepper. One such intellectual was the late Ralph Miliband, born in Belgium to Polish Jewish parents who later migrated to England 1940 to escape Nazi persecution. He remained a committed Marxist until his death in 1994, having published numerous articles and books on Marxist theory. He was a close confidant of historian Eric Hobsbawm, who notably sympathised with the former USSR, and the radical Fabian, Tony Benn. In recent years the Miliband brand has been more associated with Ralph's sons, David and Ed. As Labour leader from 2010 to 2015, Ed Miliband tried to distance himself from Tony Blair's military adventurism. However, his brother not only supported the Iraq War, but willingly served as Foreign Secretary working alongside Hillary Clinton to promote commercial and military globalisation. After narrowly losing to his brother in the Labour leadership contest, David Miliband accepted a well-remunerated role in New York as CEO of the International Rescue Committee, which seeks to aid refugees worldwide. Earlier David had worked as Tony Blair's head of policy from 1994 to 2001, when he became an MP.

To most Momentum activists, Tony Blair is nothing but a traitor to the causes of social justice and international peace. However, the young Aaaron Bastini, one of the masterminds behind Momentum, opted in 2010 to support David rather than Ed Miliband. I mean at least the latter decried the Iraq War. Did Mr Bastani suddenly have an epiphany before he embraced Jeremy Corbyn's idealism only five years later? This would seem a rather odd move as most of us tend more to idealism in our youth. Not surprisingly two of the other leading lights in the People's Momentum, Adam Klug and James Schneider hail from the same upmarket districts of North London as the Milibands. Small world, isn't it?

One may wonder how both Tony Blair and Tony Benn could belong to the Fabian Society or how the son of Marxist scholar could embrace early 21st century US imperialism, while one of his close associates backed a longstanding opponent of US imperialism as Labour leader. Here it is important to understand that most Marxist strategists are not pacifists. They are quite prepared to support military might if the outcome is more likely to pave the way to international socialism. Indeed over the decades self-professed Marxists have adopted some startling positions on global conflicts. The British Communist Party failed to support the Second World War until Hitler's invasion of the Ukraine and Western Russia. Meanwhile some former Trotskyists, while opposing US imperialism before the fall of Soviet Union, became cheerleaders of US-led global policing operations ever since, most notably the late Christopher Hitchens who supported the 2003 Iraq War to defeat the looming danger of Islamism. However, the globalist left remained bitterly divided over military interventionism in the Middle East. They had to support both global cultural convergence through mass migration and the projection of Western values on the rest of the world on the one hand and appease the growing Muslim lobby at home on the other.

Every problem in the world today seems to demand one solution, more globalisation. It doesn't matter whether it's climate change, unemployment, unsustainable debt, regional wars, organised crime or terrorism, our main media outlets, national governments and global institutions just propose tighter international integration and the undermining of traditional nation states and support structures. The growing concentration of power in a handful of high tech multinationals naturally demands greater coordination of governments to regulate them and prevent tax evasion. It should really not surprise us that the New Left does not advocate the nationalisation of Google, Amazon, Microsoft or Tesco. It needs these profitable organisations to bankroll its social engineering plans. And it appears it's succeeding. Big business has for some time not just embraced rapid cultural change, but openly promoted it.

Ahead of the Curve

Momentum has cultivated an anti-establishment reputation, often accusing the BBC of bias and openly campaigning against what it sees as reactionary newspapers or political organisations. I've lost count of the number of online petitions against the Daily Mail or Nigel Farage. Yet one only needs to watch a BBC soap opera to understand the convergence of the BBC's social agenda and Momentum's objectives. Both support open door immigration. Both welcome the ethnic transformation of British cities. Both support greater state intervention in people's private lives. Both support the concept of multiculturalism, while also promoting the dissolution of traditional family structures at odds with practically all traditional cultures. However, the BBC still has to offer the pretence of impartiality and patriotism. It only seems yesterday when each evening of televisual broadcasts would end with the national anthem. Now we have 24/7 news, non-stop sports, endless repeats of soap operas and pop concerts.

Rebranding Globalism

Behind the scenes the leading proponents of Blair's third way do not really disagree with Labour's radical rebranding. They may complain about Corbyn's irresponsible spending plans or his opposition to Britain's expensive token nuclear deterrent, but actually such disagreements may not matter as much as we might like to think. The current debate about Britain's exit from the European Union has only exposed just how little independence once powerful nation states really have. It seems without the oversight of one supranational organisation or another, the country will grind to a halt. Vegetables will rot in the fields and sick patients will be left untreated because of a lack of migrant farm labourers and nurses willing to serve us tirelessly. You see both Blairites and Momentum activists love mass migration, because they hope the ensuing social dislocation will let them turbo-charge their vision of a socialist utopia, bankrolled by the same corporate behemoths they claim to loathe.

Of course, some people will always be more equal than others.

Categories
Power Dynamics

Sowing the Seeds of Discontent to Gain Power

Grenfell Tower

The Grenfell Tower blaze shocked the world. How could a fire spread so quickly and kill so many in one of the wealthiest cities in the world? I won't waste time investigating the details of flammable cladding or the absence of a sprinkler system. However, to the untrained eye these apartments seemed fine and could be rented privately for £2000 a month, which is below current rates for comparable flats in this upmarket area of inner London.

Let's face it, accidents happen, especially when we rely on high tech infrastructure such as high density tower blocks in inner cities, aeroplanes, trains, motorways, nuclear power stations and sewage treatment plants. All these systems can kill large numbers of human beings if they malfunction. By the same token if we fail to provide such services as affordable modern housing, inexpensive electricity, rapid transportation and clean water, millions will die. It stands to reason such systems should adhere to very strict safety standards to avoid the kind of human tragedy we saw in Grenfell Tower.

We don't yet know the exact death toll, anywhere from a low of 60 to as many as 400 (based on the estimated number of missing people who have not survived), a human tragedy by any stretch of the imagination. As I write, protests continue across London not just against the negligence which let such a disaster happen, but against a weakened government as it attempts to negotiate Britain's exit from the European Union. Some forces would dearly love to seize any opportunity to derail Brexit and bring Britain back into line with their vision of a one world government. To even suggest such a calamity was made more likely by rapid population growth in the English capital only invites instant derision by vocal social justice warriors eager to blame a dwindling bunch of aristocrats within the Tory Party.

However, as a rule it's much easier to plan and build affordable housing and provide all essential services people need if we have a stable population and ensure most people can earn their upkeep. This means taking a holistic long-term gradualist view, rather than short-term view based on economic expediency or radical social engineering. Herein lies the crux of the matter. Most ordinary people, away from the hustle and bustle of our metropolises, take the gradualist view, while our political elite increasingly take the radical view. If such a revolution empowered commoners, I might support it. But given the extreme concentration of power in a handful of transnational tech giants and banking cartels, this is not going to happen. We will just see the transfer of power from one bunch of elitists to another bunch, using the poor as mere pawns in their game.

The Reincarnation of the Socialist Dream

I think elements of socialism are desirable at a local community level. It's called solidarity or helping your neighbours. Extremes of wealth and power do not bode well for social cohesion, but they're inevitable in any system that relies on a technocratic elite. That said I think the steady advance of artificial intelligence and robotics alongside globalisation will destroy neoliberalism. We should start writing its obituaries soon. Neoliberalism advocates the deregulation of large corporations so they can compete in an open worldwide market. The neoliberal era from the late 70s to the present day has seen an unprecedented rate of technological innovation and improvements in material living standards worldwide. Indeed many prophecies from the 1970s have not transpired yet. While we have had some localised famines, fewer people than ever, at least proportional terms, suffer from undernourishment. The big story of the last two to three decades has been the rapid movement of people in the developing world away from traditional rural lifestyles to large towns and cities and thus in touch with modern technology and subject to the rules of modern economics. Millions of Africans have gone from growing their own food to selling products and services in exchange for money they can use to buy food and other essentials of our modern way of life. While once we understood whence our daily bread came, now we just expect to have enough money in our bank account to purchase everything we need or desire in our local supermarket. Most of us fail to understand how our work translates into the physical goods or practical services we can afford. We may now see the rebranding socialism to mean universal basic income.

Competition only works among the Highly Motivated

Neoliberal theory is that competition drives innovation. In practice this only works among highly motivated and talented individuals. A higher salary might motivate a street cleaner to turn up for work on time and pursue his job diligently, but his productivity can be infinitely boosted through smart automation. Increasingly middle managers try to keep semi-skilled workers away from any mission-critical operations or decisions. We've thus seen a huge rise in temporary non-jobs, more concerned with people management than actually providing the goods and services we need. As such non-jobs are expendable, they seldom command high wages or inspire workers to innovate. We thus have the dilemma that by raising the minimum wage, we merely incentivise more automation and greater welfare dependency. Not surprisingly governments have been subsidising low pay and high rents for some time now.

Most residents of the infamous Grenfell Tower block would not have been able to pay the £2000 monthly rent and no property developers would fund high quality accommodation unless they had a guaranteed return on their investment. It only took a couple of days for Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, to suggest seizing empty dwellings owned by wealthy property speculators. I understand the superficial attraction of this policy. Such properties remain empty because their owners cannot rent them out at market rates and would prefer to keep their real estate assets in pristine conditions until they find wealthy tenants or buyers. If such properties were made available for social housing, their market value would decline. Wealthy city dwellers pay more to stay away from the riffraff and all the potential dangers of social unrest and technical faults resulting from substandard equipment, i.e. an exploding fridge triggered the fire which then spread due to flammable cladding, both extremely unfortunate coincidences. Like or not, London's wealth is built on banking, advertising, media and property speculation. Labour and Tory governments alike have tolerated an extreme widening of the gap between rich and poor in the metropolis to boost the economy and thus their tax intake. If market forces cannot pay bus drivers more than £30,000 a year (a very low wage by London standards without housing benefit), then either the state has to subsidise these jobs or they will be automated. Big business now needs strong centralised state organisations to transition to new economy where ordinary people are paid to consume and participate in non-essential social management initiatives. It's been obvious to me for some time that powerful corporate forces are bankrolling rapid socio-cultural change. I think we need to investigate not only George Soros's network of Open Society foundations and universities, but hundreds of other well-funded organisations that have seemingly sprung out of nowhere to advocate international socialism. One such organisation is Novara Media, which presents a more radical spin on the globalist narrative we read in the likes of the Huffington Post and the TheCanary.co , but also endorses the cult-like Momentum movement behind Jeremy Corbyn's leadership of the Labour Party.

Only a few years ago, socialism in any form seemed rather outmoded. Sure, a few old-timers and naive young recruits kept the flag flying. You'd think the recent experience of Venezuela, which the usual coalition of global banks and US-sponsored opposition groups have almost certainly helped destabilise, would have deterred any resurgence of socialism among ordinary working people and you'd be right. The radical left have long given up on the traditional working classes, whom they openly view as reactionary. And it's not just the British working class whom they distrust, but any native working class community who still expect their local governments to protect them against rapid globalisation and automation. It seems everywhere in Europe the trendy left loathes its own native working class. France is a possible exception as Jean-Luc Mélenchon tried to build a 1970s-style opposition, known as La France insoumise, to multinationals and to reactionary nationalists. Indeed such rearguard adversaries of current global trends may have to join forces with Europe's growing but sidelined Identitarian movement and anti-establishment protest groups such as Italy's 5 Star Movement (Movimento 5 Stelle) to offer any alternative to the polarisation of opinion on the nationalism vs globalism dichotomy.

So we now have an odd alliance of global bankers, corporate CEOs, multi-billion dollar transnational consultancies and media-savvy social justice campaigning organisations joining forces to undermine the power of local institutions and small businesses to empower transnational organisations and big business. To manufacture popular consent, our global revolutionaries need some catalysts to sway public opinion away from the old guard and to accept what they loosely call change.

The Revolution That Never Happened

In the 1970s some radical left-wingers genuinely believed a socialist revolution was just round the corner as capitalism would inevitably enter a terminal crisis that only a command economy with direct workers' democracy could solve. Alas after the 1978/79 winter of discontent with striking ambulance drivers, nurses and refuse collectors, many workers opted to support a Thatcherite Conservative Party over a moderate Labour government. The next few years saw a steep rise in unemployment as old unprofitable industries closed or moved abroad and a few desperate attempts to save the integrity of the once proud British working class. The Socialist Workers' Party, to which I briefly belonged, fully supported the 1984–85 Miners' strike. Yet it failed miserably as power stations began to import coal from Poland, still firmly in the Warsaw Pact and allied with the Soviet Union. I recall attending various events where leftwing student groups would attempt to fraternise with heroic miners. I think the latter tolerated us very well, but had little interest in our social justice idealism, only in defending their way of life. Even then I witnessed stirrings of a cultural clash that play out over the next 30 years as a fringe student group known as Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM) met hostility from Welsh miners on a demo in Cardiff. Coal miners took enormous pride not just in their close-knit communities, but in their families and cultural traditions. They were not impressed by a bunch of upper middle class punks with dyed hair lecturing them on the oppression of sexual minorities.

Workless Cultural Marxism

Today no serious Marxist could contemplate mobilising an atomised global workforce to defeat capitalism. Far from empowering the working classes, the current phase of globalisation has rendered any tentative industrial action obsolete. If you strike, you will be replaced either by imported cheap labour or by a robot. Free market capitalism is in all but name dead. Instead their strategy is to infiltrate global corporations and especially NGOs to bring about cultural change to mirror an emerging socio-economic reality of complete dependence on a handful of tech giants and banking cartels liaising closely with a network of local governments and charities. Consider Novara Media. They seem very keen on defending the rights of immigrants, advancing the economic case for mass migration and combatting Islamophobia. They're equally eager to promote LGBTQ+ rights and environmentalism. Yet organised high birthrate Islam opposes both gay rights and any attempt to limit consumption through lower birth rates and lower migration to high-consumption regions. Their aim to champion miscellaneous disgruntled groups and offer universal welfare as a solution. The name of the game is to destabilise stable societies in the hope that the desperate underclasses support radical social change. Who is going to provide this global welfare? None other than big business. I'm not sure if Jeremy Corbyn really understands how big business is bankrolling many of these protest groups. Will Facebook, SpaceX, Google and Amazon support a younger version of Bernie Sanders for the next presidential election ? Let's see, but they won't back anyone who does not reflect their selfish interests to expand their stranglehold on planetary power.

Categories
All in the Mind Computing Power Dynamics

Our Workless Future

Artificial intelligence

Could the universal basic income usher in an age of hyper-dependence, hyper-surveillance and a growing divide between technocratic elites and mainstream humanity?

Two of the most influential business leaders in the tech industry have thrown their weight behind the hitherto fanciful universal basic income, a cause until recently championed only by idealistic greens not known for their economic competence. Facebook Founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, and SpaceX CEO and robotics evangelist Elon Musk both openly support the concept. These are of course among the same tech billionaires that our more traditional leftwing politicians would love to tax to fund their welfare and public spending initiatives.

To many basic income sounds too much like universal welfare for all and we really have to ask who would foot the bill? So let's do some back-of-the-envelope calculations, shall we? Last year the UK government spent a whopping £780 billion. That works out at around £11,500 per person or £23,000 per worker, only 9% of whom are employed in manufacturing or agriculture. At current prices, it's hard to live on less than £1000 a month once we include rent or mortgage repayments. A realistic basic income would thus be around £1000 per month for adults and probably £500 per month for children under 16. That's a phenomenal sum of around £710 billion, virtually our entire public expenditure. Admittedly we'd save around £200 billion on welfare, pensions and in-work benefits, which are quite considerable for low-paid workers (essentially anyone earning less than £24,000 per annum). Now, you may argue that we could adapt to a greener lower consumption model and make do with much lower basic incomes. But that doesn't change the fundamental maths. If in the near future we let most working age adults rely on basic income, then to maintain social harmony we'd need to guarantee the kind of living standards to which we are accustomed. In all likelihood the authorities will redefine basic income dependents no longer as unemployed but as work-free citizens, lifelong students or carers who contribute to society not through paid employment but simply as responsible members of the community helping to raise the next generation or somehow involved in voluntary community projects or awareness raising campaigns.

Of course, the early basic income enthusiasts would have you believe that universal welfare would unleash a new era of creativity, enabling us all to pursue our personal artistic, literary or inventive passions. We could take time off not only to raise our children, but also to learn new skills, explore the world or participate in new intellectual endeavours. If we were all highly motivated academics, gifted artists or talented sportspeople or entertainers, I think it could all work out very well. The whole world would become a giant university campus. We may choose to work for a few years as a brain surgeon, psychiatrist, artificial intelligence programmer, robotics engineer, architect or social policy researcher, earning good money, and then take an extended sabbatical to investigate the meaning of life.

The trouble is most of us are not highly motivated academics and unless our livelihood depends on work, involving physical and/or mental effort, we are very likely to succumb to carefree leisure. Numerous studies have shown quite conclusively that unconditional welfare provision traps all but the best-motivated and most conscientious people in a decadent lifestyle of easy options and self-indulgence. It's so easy to retreat into a lifestyle of virtual gaming, online video watching, junk food bingeing and stupefaction. Long-term welfare recipients are statistically much more likely to suffer from emotional distress (usually defined as mental illnesses), eating disorders and dysfunctional relationships. Worse still, these psychosocial maladies tend to get worse with each generation.

Welfare dependency controversy

Dr Adam Perkins, lecturer in the neurobiology of personality at King's College London, rattled the politically correct neoliberal consensus in his book, The Welfare Trait, which showed rather conclusively how welfare dependence not only engenders helplessness, it affects our personality, which helps explain the rise of identity politics and growing emphasis on mental health as an issue we must address. Perkins cites voluminous evidence to support his contention that habitual welfare claimants tend to be less conscientious and agreeable than those of us who have to work for a living. Far from building a more egalitarian society with greater solidarity, worklessness fosters a narcissistic culture of entitlement, treating a growing section of the adult population as children in need of constant supervision by the minority who work. Not surprisingly, mainstream academia and social justice warriors have taken offence and gone to great lengths to challenge Dr Perkins' hypothesis, claiming for example that his conclusions could lend support to eugenics. However, if you have actually read the book or listened carefully to couple of good presentations Dr Perkins has given on the subject, you'll find his thesis emphasises psychosocial rather than genetic causes of personality traits. If laziness were largely an inherited trait, we would have to explain how it could have evolved before the expansion of the modern welfare state. In traditional societies lazy people would fail to procreate unless they inherited substantial wealth (even if the idle could mate, they would be unable to fend for their offspring). So laziness as a genetic trait could have only spread among the aristocratic classes. Most people alive today are descendants of hard workers. Our forebears had little choice.

Stigma

However, some may argue that welfare stigmatises its dependents, while everyone, including those who choose to work for extra financial rewards, would be entitled to basic income removing any stigma. We would simply treat our basic income as a universal right, just like water or air, that modern 21st century technology can guarantee everyone. Bear in mind that the coming AI revolution will not only displace manual workers and machine operators, it will also automate most clerical jobs too. Machine learning is already smart enough to perform most tasks currently assigned to accountants, legal secretaries and marketing researchers. Any jobs with predictable results and a finite set of potential variables are ripe for computerisation. Indeed North American lawyers are already losing substantial business to online search engines. Why would you pay someone £100 an hour just to discover a legal loophole that you could have found through a few simple search queries and reading a few forum posts, just to sort chaff the from the wheat? Online legal advice, sometimes with modest fees, is already a reality. The harsh truth is soon there will be few high-paying jobs for even the most industrious adults within the low to medium IQ range and as time goes by so too will be minimum IQ threshold for lucrative professional roles. That doesn't mean there will be no jobs for ordinary people in the medium IQ range, but such jobs will be non-essential and more concerned with persuasion and social control than providing any mission-critical services. Now you may think some service sector roles such as care workers, nurses, bar staff, hairdressers and prostitutes are ill-suited to robotisation as we still need an authentic human touch. The transition may be more gradual for these roles as AI software developers refine human behaviour emulators, but already Japanese sex workers are worried about competition from life-like sex robots.

We should have seen it coming?

Governments in much of the Western world have tried to persuade us their educational and social welfare policies serve to redress the imbalance between rich and poor and to give everyone irrespective of their wealth or social background equal opportunities to thrive. Unfortunately their policies have succeeded mainly in engendering greater dependency on social intervention rather than empowering ordinary workers to assume greater responsibility for the functioning of our complex society. In decades to come I suspect we will look back at the neoliberal hiatus between approximately 1980 and 2020 as the last attempt to make laissez-faire free-market economics work by incentivising people to take control of their lives. We can no longer build our economy on the flawed assumption that workers can earn enough not just to buy the goods that big business sells, but to fund all the services and infrastructure we need. Economic growth in the UK now tends to mean higher retail sales and more property speculation. One seriously wonders how the business model of thrift stores works. These abound in rundown towns across the UK as Pound Stretcher, Poundland etc.. selling cheap end-of-life merchandise to a local community reliant on welfare and public sector jobs.

Behind the scenes the authorities have long been preparing for a future where few of us need to undertake either intellectually challenging or physically demanding work, i.e. the kind of jobs we really need as distinct from non-jobs whose main purpose is occupational therapy. Our schools seem increasingly more interested in familiarising youngsters with new technology and instilling a new progressive set of social values rather than focussing on hard skills that we might need if we wanted to gain some degree of self-reliance. Mainstream schooling strives to produce socially normalised young consumers who worship both big brands and transnational institutions. Anyone who strays from this norm is likely to be labelled with one personality disorder or another. Students who show some degree of analytical intelligence are primed for low level managerial roles, who inevitably join a mushrooming bureaucracy of ideologically driven experts and researchers. Meanwhile the health and safety culture that has infiltrated so many aspects of our lives serves to transfer responsibility from families and independent adults to myriad agencies. It hardly takes a huge leap of imagination to foresee that in the near future these agencies will be supplemented by artificial intelligence. However, this begs the question whether remote advisors have our best interests at heart. Your close relatives and best friends may well give you honest advice that helps you attain your primary goals in life. On the other hand social engineers are not so much interested in you as an autonomous human being but in the smooth functioning of a much larger and more complex society.

Collectivism for the Masses and Individualism for the Elites

Human creativity is both a prerequisite for technological and cultural progress and a hindrance to social harmony, as it relies on competition among individuals and tends to empower critical thinkers to the detriment of social conformists. As we begin to harness the power of artificial intelligence and versatile robots more and more, the managerial classes will want to restrict the independence of creative types and channel their talent to serve the interests of technocratic corporate elites. One phenomenon that has largely escaped the attention of social analysts is the huge growth in the recruitment industry. In many niche professions there are now more recruiters than talented specialists. A nominally free-market economy has created a reality where the development of a software application requires one real programmer, two user interface builders, two designers, three usability testers, one project manager, a business analyst, an information systems manager, three marketing executives and potentially two or three recruiters. In this endeavour only the programmer is mission-critical. Interface building and design could be mainly automated as can usability testing until the final user acceptance testing stage. Recruiters serve not just to identify people with highly specialised skill-sets, but to ensure that such individuals never take full ownership of their creations, but only gain experience as well-paid loyal team workers who know their place. The more circumscribed our professional focus is the less we see of the bigger picture. All too often we dismiss evidence we experience in our every lives as mere flukes and side effects of social progress rather than integral parts of a new hierarchical technotopia.

Letting the genie out of the IQ bottle

As artificial intelligence evolves to undertake more low-level managerial and analytical roles, large businesses will only employ talented individuals with high IQs, rare artistic flairs or charismatic personalities. Freelancers will find it harder to compete in the world without machine-augmented intelligence . Yet since the end of World War Two, mainstream social scientists have preferred to suppress the significance of differential IQ scores among different sections of humanity. While it may be politically incorrect to classify a large subsection of humans as intellectually inferior, tech giants only hire the best. They often have little trust in mainstream education and are fully aware that many universities reward conformity and comprehension rather than analytical thinking. As a contract Web application developer I've often had to take tests, but most tested analytical skills and problem solving more than specific knowledge of a given programming language or framework. If I want to learn the syntactical differences between Kotlin and Swift (just to mention 2 up-and-coming languages that have much in common), I can always search it online or just let my IDE (integrated development environment) do it for me. If you know one, you can easily learn the other, but if you have let to learn the difference between a mutable and an immutable object, you're of little use to most employers.

Most people alive today, at least in countries with a modern education system, have internalised the notion that the Earth orbits the Sun. Many could recite a cursory explanation for this supposition, but only a few could arrive at such a conclusion from astronomical observations alone and even fewer would be prepared to risk social exclusion if they had to challenge orthodoxy to assert their hypothesis as Galileo Galilei famously had to do before his imprisonment and house arrest in 1633. Any intellectual task that has been successfully accomplished and meticulously explained over and over again through human input can ultimately be assigned to smart applications able to deal with complex logical processing.

Late neoliberalism (as I believe this era may be called later in the century) still rewards hard work and creativity and allows the most successful to enhance their physique and intellectual performance through cosmetic surgery, private medicine, private education, food supplements and exclusive neighbourhoods. The rich have always been the first to benefit from new technologies. When bio-engineering merges with nano-robitics and artificial intelligence, the affluent classes will effectively buy an evolutionary advantage over the rest of humanity by adopting machine-augmented intelligence. Future alpha and beta humans could gain instant insights into complex problems that previously would have required extensive experience and lengthy analysis. One section of humanity would be able to detect deception instantly and psychoanalyse unaided humans, while the workless classes would be mere guinea pigs in the elite's social engineering experiments. The real danger is that the masses could be lulled into a false sense of security and just like many peasants in feudal times worshipped religions governed by an ecclesiastical hierarchy, the consumer classes of the future will worship the evangelisers and opinion leaders of our technotopia.

Who's really in control ?

So let's cut to the chase. The real flaw in the basic income concept is not that greedy capitalists want to force us to work for a living (which would only be to maximise profits), but that it would disempower most of the population. As mere welfare claimants we would have no bargaining power at all. Any freedoms we may retain would be at the discretion of the elite who still have meaningful jobs. Artificial intelligence and virtual reality could easily give the wider public the illusion of democratic control. As dependants it would no longer matter if we suffer from learning disabilities or mental health challenges, which are increasingly treated not so much as psychosocial problems or neurological deficits, but as divergent categories of people whose special needs must be accommodated. Currently an intellectual disability usually only applies to people with an IQ below 70. The US army refuses to hire people with an IQ below 85. Most semi-skilled jobs require an IQ range of 90 - 105. Most high-skill professions (doctors, engineers, scientific researchers etc.) require an IQ over 115. Beyond an IQ of 120 (approx. in the 90th percentile) fewer and fewer people can compete on natural analytical intelligence alone. By the time reliable and effective machine-augmented intelligence devices become available to wealthy buyers, this subgroup of humanity could acquire genius status, setting it apart from mainstream humanity who by comparison would then have significant learning handicaps.

Is there a viable alternative that could protect us against technocrats ?

When the computer revolution first entered public consciousness in the late 1970s, many foresaw a 20 hour working week and early retirement. Quite the opposite has happened. Young professionals are now working longer hours to further their career and pay off debts while the age of retirement is rising progressively to 70 in the UK. While we should certainly welcome our longer life expectancy, we're clearly not sharing our collective workload very fairly. However, when left to market forces alone, employers prefer to hire fewer reliable highly skilled professionals working longer hours than to spread the workload and invest in training apprentices who have not yet acquired the same expertise. It may be more expedient for future employers only to hire workers with an IQ over 120 while bankrolling consumer welfare and sophisticated social engineering programmes, but is it fairer? Should mainstream humanity, i.e. people within normal IQ range, not contribute to the organisation of their society by being intimately involved in the development of the technology that makes their lives possible? I know 1 experienced programmer, with the right productivity tools, can outperform a large team of novice programmers. Indeed I'd go further. Most novice programmers write naive routines that if deployed in a production environment could be very hard to maintain, but if you don't start with simple scripts you will never progress to more advanced concepts. By the same logic we could argue that learning arithmetic at school is redundant because calculators can do it faster. This is true, but if you rely solely on calculators, how do you know if their output is correct? What matters is not simply performing a cerebral task, but actually understanding what's going on. Let's take that a step further. If we rely on search engines and fact-checkers to find out the truth about our government and business leaders, how can we verify the objectivity and completeness of the selective information they provide ? How do we know which facts they have suppressed ? Indeed some may wonder what the purpose of life is if we are denied the chance to exercise our free will and critically explore the real world around us. If we are kept in a state of artificial contentment, then nobody will be motivated to change the system, which may well malfunction for reasons beyond the comprehension of most commoners. The more people that are involved in the research and development process, the harder it will be for a superclass of humans to pull the wool over our eyes. If you care about personal freedom and democracy, it may make more sense to share a complex R&D project among 20 people with an average IQ than to let one genius have a monopoly over true understanding.