Antigone1984.com 1 January 2012
Fiat iustitia, ruat coelum
In Greek mythology, Antigone was a daughter of Oedipus, King of Thebes. She was sentenced to death by her uncle, Creon, Oedipus’s successor as King of Thebes, for burying her brother Polynices, who had been killed when taking part in an attack on Thebes. Creon had decreed that as a traitor Polynices should stay unburied. Antigone took the view that her divine duty to bury her brother took precedence over the law of the land. She believed that the individual had a right – and indeed a duty – to defy the State where the law clashed with his or her conscience. Human laws were not absolute and must be ignored when at variance with morality. Antigone, a play on this subject by the Greek tragedian Sophocles, was performed in Athens in 442/441 BC.
The novel Nineteen Eighty-four by the English writer George Orwell was published in 1949. It tells the story of a totalitarian society against which the hero, Winston Smith, fights in vain. According to The Oxford Companion to English Literature, Smith longs for truth and decency, but these are unobtainable in a social system where “to have unorthodox ideas incurs the death penalty”. Smith is arrested, tortured and brainwashed by the Thought Police. “The book is a warning of the possibilities of the police state brought to perfection, where power is the only thing that counts, where the past is constantly being modified to suit the present, where the official language, ‘Newspeak’, progressively narrows the range of ideas and independent thought, and where Doublethink becomes a necessary habit of mind. It is a society dominated by slogans – ‘War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery’, ‘Ignorance is Strength’ – and controlled by compulsory worship of the head of the Party, Big Brother.” Sound familiar?
This blog, which is essentially political, is directly inspired by these two works. For that reason, we have called it “Antigone1984”.
We dedicate the blog to the following persons, who at great cost to themselves have defied authority to defend the human right to freedom of expression:
1. Bradley Manning and Julian Assange
Bradley Manning is a US soldier currently involved in US military court proceedings for having allegedly leaked confidential US state documents, including 250 000 diplomatic cables and war videos, to the whistle-blowing website Wikileaks. Julian Assange is the Australian founder of Wikileaks.
2. Chen Xi, Chen Wei and Liu Xiaobo. All three are Chinese. Last month (December 2011) Chen Xi was sentenced to 10 years in jail and Chen Wei to nine years for “incitement to subversion” by writing online essays in defence of democratic freedoms. Two years ago (December 2009) Nobel Peace prize laureate Liu Xiaobo was jailed for 11 years on similar grounds.
3. Anna Politkovskaya, who was born in New York of a father of Ukrainian stock, was a Russian journalist, author, and human rights activist known for her opposition to President Putin and his brutal protégés in the Russian province of Chechnya. On 7 October 2006 she was shot and killed by unknown assailants in the lift of her block of flats.
4. The activists of the 2011 Arab Spring, including: Mohammed Bouazizi, who burned himself to death in Tunisia in protest at official repression, thereby triggering mass uprisings in the following months throughout the Arab world; Mona Eltahawy, an Egyptian-American journalist whose left arm and right hand were broken when she was beaten up and sexually assaulted last November by the Egyptian riot police; and Alaa Abd El Fattah and Maikel Nabil Sanad, two activist bloggers imprisoned recently for opposing military suppression of the popular revolt in Egypt.
Having kindred motivation, this blog will have failed unless it contributes something, however insignificant, towards the overthrow of the entire existing world order, which is based on the economic exploitation of the many by the few (the so-called free market) and the ruthless repression (via the police, the army and the judiciary) of all dissent likely to threaten the status quo. In particular, the blog will focus on exposing the impossibility of radical political change in the so-called “western” world as a result of the monopoly of power in each state by two political parties which profess the fiction of mutual opposition but which in fact agree to alternate in power on the firm understanding that no significant change in policy will take place as a result. The situation is accurately summed up in the popular saying: “if voting could change anything, it would not be allowed”.
Adopting the approach followed by the Cambridge English literature don F.R. Leavis, who died in 1978, the blog adopts the following method of argument: it puts forward its own generally non-conventional view but then asks the following question of its readers: “This is how we see things. How about you? Do you agree or have you a slightly or completely different point of view?”
By the same token, this blog is prepared to modify or change its standpoint if it is persuaded to do so by counter arguments or if new facts come to light which undermine our initial position.
Everyone makes mistakes and we are likely to do so, too. Errare est humanum. When we establish that a mistake has been made, we shall take steps to correct it. We ought also to be prepared at times to chill out, loosen up and laugh at ourselves. We shall try not to fall into the trap of being overly preachy, although we suspect that this is an area where we may frequently come a cropper.
Our aim is to report the facts as objectively as possible and to comment on them as fairly as possible. Our aim is to get as closely as possible to establishing the truth about any given subject. Naturally, it may not seem like that to those of our readers who approach a topic from a standpoint widely different from our own. That is only as it should be. Diversity is the life-blood of democracy.
One advantage we do have, however. As an independent self-supported blog, we are not beholden to proprietors, editors, business interests, governments, political parties, trade unions, advertisers or individuals. We do not accept advertising or outside funding of any kind from any source.
We aim to blog every day, generally in the afternoon or evening after we have absorbed the day’s news, but in any case before midnight. Some blogs will be very short, others will take the form of short essays.
There would be no point whatever in writing this blog if we intended simply to reproduce what other media are saying. Our general aim will be to give a take on the news that is at least slightly different from that of the mainstream press. However, sometimes we shall simply reproduce an article written elsewhere in cases where we think it merits as large an audience as possible and where we think that there is nothing that we could add that would strengthen its impact.
The fundamental view of this blog is that nothing has any meaning.
The fate of man is fundamentally tragic: we die. Faced with the certainty that we shall soon cease to exist, nothing that we do matters. Nor does it matter whether we do anything or do nothing.
We were not. We are. We shall not be.
Man’s existence is but a thin sliver of corned beef sandwiched between two thick slices of oblivion.
At the most basic philosophical level, moreover, it is meaningless to talk of good and evil. The terms good and evil have no meaning in a meaningless universe. Even if this were not so, no criterion exists which would enable us to distinguish between good and bad.
However. We are condemned to live for, at most, 100 years. We might as well, therefore, make the best of it. If we are to be executed in due course, as we all are, courtesy of the Grim Reaper, we might as well make the best of it while we can. There is no point in making ourselves miserable bemoaning the inevitable tragedy. As the 17th C poet Robert Herrick said, “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may”.
How then can we best serve out our time? Our view is that the greatest human satisfaction derives not from riches or a luxurious lifestyle nor from worldly achievement nor from the adulation of the multitudes but from helping our fellow human beings as best we can.
This is not primarily a theoretical blog. The purpose of any political activity, including a political blog, is to effect change for the better, however minor. “The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it”, as Marx said (Theses on Feuerbach: No. 11, 1845). However, we believe that, unfortunately, such change is rarely possible.
The blog will be eclectic, drawing on any school of thought, as we think appropriate. The fact that we quote Marx does not mean that we will not also cite Jesus Christ or the teachings of the Buddha.
However, it will be obvious from the most cursory reading that Antigone1984 is essentially a leftwing blog. On the other hand, this does not mean that we shall not occasionally adopt positions which many might consider to be rightwing. Our basic criterion is not whether a view is leftwing or rightwing but whether, in our view, it accords with the facts as we see them.
Practically speaking, we hope the blog will be of interest to leftwingers and to those political fence-sitters who have yet to make up their minds. We are not writing it with any aspiration of converting those on the right, whether supporters of openly reactionary parties (such as the Conservative Party in Britain or the Republican Party in the USA) or adherents of those rightwing parties which use labels such as “Socialist” or “Liberal” to mislead the public as to their elitist ideologies (for example, the so-called “Labour” Party in Britain, the Socialist Parties in France and Spain, and the Democratic Party in the United States).
The prism through which we view much of contemporary politics can be summed up in the following principle, which is applicable at all times and in all circumstances without exception: the end does not justify the means.
TOPICS OF INTEREST TO ANTIGONE1984
Climate change. While each of us individually is condemned to die, so it is the case with mankind collectively. The question now, as a result of global warming, is whether humankind will survive at all beyond the next hundred years. We take the view that, as a result of the failure to reduce carbon emissions in time, at best a Malthusian catastrophe is now inevitable: mass famine, disease, desertification, water shortage, depopulation and war. A solution was available, had it been adopted in time: abandoning the conventional obsession with endless economic growth with a view to the systematic downsizing of the world economy. At the cost of fatal repercussions for the planet’s resources, the current system produces too many goods and services, many of which are unnecessary. Mankind survived without most of these goods and services throughout recorded history. It could do so again. If necessary, production should be limited to the provision of food, shelter and warmth.
War and the United States. The blog believes that the greatest danger to world peace comes from the United States and its satraps. The USA is the killer nation. It is not for nothing that every second film that comes out of Hollywood shows a killer with a gun in his hand. The aim of US foreign policy is to make the rest of the planet subservient to the interests of the US Government (we are careful not to say “the interests of the US people”). It is for this reason that the US has military bases in more than 150 countries. But there is nothing new in the US appetite for war. The country owes its existence to emigrants from Europe driving the native American peoples off their ancestral lands and massacring them if they resisted (compare the seizure by Israel, “the 51st State of the Union”, of Palestinian land since 1948). Killing by the US continues to this day with the slaughter of Pakistani civilians and soldiers by remote-controlled US drones operated from mainland America. My Lai, Guantánamo, Abu Ghraib, Fallujah, Baghdad, Kabul: these are just a few of the deadly landmarks of recent US invasion and domination. Torture and rendition for the purposes of torture are the Empire’s stock-in-trade. In 2011 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Barack Obama developed a new niche in the killer market: the targeted assassination of suspects without trial (Osama bin Laden and the US/Yemeni citizen Anwar al-Awlaki). So much for the rule of law, which is supposed to constitute the bedrock of western society, that which distinguishes us from the barbarians outside the gate. The reality is that the rule of law is dispensed with when it clashes with realpolitik.
The US is also a major killer of its own citizens. According to Wikipedia, it ranked fifth among the countries of the world for the number of judicial murders carried out in 2010. The world’s number one superpower came next after such stalwart champions of human rights as the People’s Republic of China, Iran, North Korea and Yemen. The blog believes that no nation which commits judicial murder is civilised. By this token, the USA is firmly outside the pale of civilisation.
By way of a postscript to our condemnation of the USA as a killer national, consider this news item in the UK’s Guardian newspaper for 1 December 2011: “An Arizona gun club is offering a chance for children and their families to pose for photographs with Father Christmas while holding weaponry such AK-47 rifles and grenade launchers.”
The US drive towards world domination is aided and abetted by its “allies”, satellite nations whose governments, bribed or browbeaten, are too cowardly to stand up to the bullying of Uncle Sam.
Why do we single out the United States? After all, other nations also behave brutally with a cavalier disregard for human rights. For instance: Russia, China, India and Saudi Arabia. We single out the United States because it is the most powerful state of all. As of now, it is the only superpower. And of the only superpower, the leader of the western world, the world has a right to expect great things. It has been sorely disappointed. The United States invariably acts on the basis of narrow national self-interest, as defined by the political clique which happens to be in power in Washington at any particular time. We are not talking here about ordinary Americans, with whom we have no quarrel. We are talking about the US political establishment. However, some might think that a nation gets the government it deserves. After all, someone voted these guys into office.
Israel. The blog believes that the systematic slaughter of 6 million Jews by the Nazis in World War II was the greatest crime in the history of humanity. This is the first thing to be said. We stick by it whatever else we may say on the subject of Israel. However, we condemn without reservation the persecution by Israel of the Palestinian Arabs. It is a well-established psychological fact that those who suffer abuse subsequently abuse others. This is what explains psychologically, we believe, the brutality of the Israeli Government and Army towards the Palestinian Arabs. The Israelis are avenging themselves on the Palestinian Arabs for the suffering that they themselves endured in the Holocaust. But it was not the Palestinian Arabs who were responsible for the Holocaust. We have consistently maintained that, if there were any justice in the world, the State of Israel would have been founded in Bavaria. This is a view that receives no coverage in the western media. It is a view that has been censured by the BBC. The Zionists wanted land and they wanted it in Palestine. At one point, in the heyday of the British Empire, when Britain ruled the waves, the British Government is said to have offered the Zionists land in Kenya. But the offer was reportedly spurned. The Zionists wanted land in Palestine, the ancestral homeland of the Jews. This was understandable: what people, after two millennia of wandering, would not want to settle again in the land of their distant forefathers? However, there was a little local difficulty. Palestine was already occupied – by the Arabs – who had happened to live there for the two millennia in question. So the Arabs had to go. What we have seen in Palestine since the foundation of the State of Israel is a progressive land grab. It is not justifiable on the grounds of what the Nazis did to the Jews.
The market economy. The blog is opposed to the market economy in all circumstances.
The market economy is based on competition. It contemplates with equanimity the division of people into winners and losers – a tiny elite of the comfortably off sitting on top of a mass of more or less miserable wretches. We, by contrast, believe in an economy based on cooperation. We support Marx when he says: “From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs” (Critique of the Gotha Programme, 1875).
We use the terms “market economy”, “the free market” and “capitalism” interchangeably.
This economic ideology can be defined as the provision of the shoddiest possible goods or services at the highest possible prices.
However, the market economy is not the only show in town. There are many different ways of organising an economy. Only you won’t hear about them in the media. The media don’t want you to know. Day in day out, the media pump out the free market mantra: “There is no alternative” (Margaret Thatcher, passim). It is a lie.
While the blog is opposed to the market economy in all circumstances, forced to give a view as to which might be the lesser of two evils, we would prefer small businesses to giant corporations.
The blog supports the view of E.F. Schumacher that “small is beautiful”. Hence, the smaller the economic unit, the better. Likewise, the smaller the political unit, the better also. Thus, economic and political decisions are best taken, where possible, at local rather than national level. Likewise, they are best taken, where possible, at national rather than supranational level. This seems to us to be just common sense. People who live in an area are best placed to know how to deal with the problems that arise in that area.
Localism and nationalism are good in themselves. They foster in people a sense of rootedness, a sense of belonging, a sense of pride in the environment (place, education, work) which has nurtured them. This is both a good thing and legitimate. People feel a need to belong (Johann Gottfried Herder, passim). Where localism and nationalism goes wrong is when the local or national patriot begins to say: “I am better than my neighbour”. It is only a short step from that to say:”I am better than my neighbour. I shall enslave him or her”. This attitude has been a cause of many wars. The answer is tolerance of diversity. We can be pleased with our own neck of the woods without despising the right of others to feel the same about theirs.
The blog is naturally, therefore, opposed to globalisation.
By the same token, it is opposed to the European Union.
However, it is not opposed to agreements between nations when a solution cannot be found at local or national level.
Democracy. The blog is opposed to hierarchy – kings and queens, leaders, aristocrats, bosses – in all circumstances. Management and supervisory roles should be rotated at fixed intervals among the members of a group.
The nations of the world are largely divided into dictatorships or self-styled democracies.
Naturally, the dictators do not describe themselves as dictators. Often they call themselves “fathers of the people”. Does a father employ secret police to torture those of his sons or daughters that speak their mind?
It goes without saying that we are opposed to dictatorships. That includes all those dictatorships – such as Saudi Arabia (the worst of the lot) or Bahrain – with which the “western democracies” enjoy a cosy relationship based on the exchange of oil for arms.
We are naturally in favour of democracy. This will be a major theme of the blog. What we are implacably opposed to, however, is so-called “western” democracy. Or as Gandhi might have said, if asked what he thought about western democracy: “That would be a good idea!”
In fact, democracy is neither western nor eastern. It belongs to neither north nor south. Democracy is indivisible.
Democracy is a word derived from Greek which means “rule by the people”. By this definition, however, western so-called democracies are not in fact democracies. They are partitocracies. Partitocracy means “rule by political parties”.
In the so-called western democracies, there are normally two major political parties, both of them fully committed to the market economy. Normally, one of these parties holds power for a time during which it implements market-favourable policies involving austerity for the population at large. At the next election, the party in power, which has become unpopular because of its austerity policies, is succeeded by the other party, whose popularity has not decreased since it was not the party which had implemented the austerity measures. That second party then goes on to impose on the population precisely the same austerity measures as its predecessor. At the succeeding election, its resultant unpopularity forces it to give way to the first party. And so it goes on. The two parties, having virtually the same policies, alternate in office. The party elite on both sides is reasonably happy with this system since it means that each of the parties has its turn in office. The people, moreover, has no realistic alternative but to vote for one or other party. Thus, since the parties have virtually identical programmes, the people has no opportunity to vote for change.
We have just witnessed precisely this in two European countries. In the parliamentary election in Ireland in February 2011 the right-wing Fianna Fáil party handed on the baton to the right-wing Fine Gael party, tweedledum replacing tweedledee. In November 2011 the same thing happened in Spain, the right-wing People’s Party replacing the right-wing Socialist Party.
The role of the party machine comes into its own at election time. To be elected to a parliament requires an enormous amount of time and money. Meetings have to be organised and funded, advertising has to be designed and paid for. Individual candidates do not normally have the time or money to fund a campaign. This is where the party machine steps in. The party machine provides the wherewithal to enable candidates to present themselves and their policies to the electorate. In exchange – this is of totemic importance – the candidate has to pledge to obey the party line set in private by the cupola of the party (consisting of a handful of the party elite). If elected, the new member of parliament must continue to obey the party line if he or she is to stand a chance of preferment (being appointed to a ministerial post, for instance) or simply in order to avoid being deselected by the party at the next election.
The myth is that the candidate is elected to represent the people of his constituency. The reality is that he or she is elected to represent the interests of a private political organisation (the political party) funded by lobby groups and self-interested personal backers (individuals, companies or trade unions). Thus, in a parliamentary democracy of the kind we have today in the west, the people goes unrepresented.
Imagine the outcry in a market economy if the economy of a country were to be controlled by only two giant private corporations, each of which took it in turn to rule the roost. This would rightly be described as an oligopoly or, more strictly, a duopoly and an infringement of free competition. Anti-trust action would be taken. The parallel diarchy in the political sphere is passed over in silence.
But that is not all. Many “democracies” have taken steps to make it extremely difficult for small new parties with alternative policies to break into the charmed circle. They have adopted electoral laws which set a threshold below which votes for parliamentary candidates will be discarded. Often this is fixed at 5 per cent of the votes cast, which means that unless a party achieves this percentage at national level it will not be represented in parliament. Without parliamentary representations new parties tend to wither on the vine. Which, of course, is the whole point of the minimum percentage rule: we don’t want rank outsiders bursting into our cosy political club.
The final nail in the coffin of democracy is the media. Normally controlled by a handful of giant corporations, which always favour the status quo (the present political diarchy suiting them well), the media automatically exclude non-establishment candidates from all but the most superficial coverage.
Politicians, understandably, regularly come out as the least popular category when people are polled to give their views as to which occupations they most admire. This blog has had a long and in-depth acquaintance with politicians of all stripes, both nationally and internationally. Its conclusion is that in general, with a very few honourable exceptions, politicians are the scum of the earth. Just as the scum rises to the top, so politicians have risen to the summit of the political cesspool. They represent not the people but themselves and only themselves. The sole aim of their political activity is to secure personal preferment. It is often claimed that politicians are liars, that they do not tell the truth. The blog does not believe this. The blog does not believe that they are liars. To be a liar you have to know what the truth is. The politician has no idea what the truth is. He or she does not know what the word means. To a politician, “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth” is defined as whatever he himself happens to be saying at any given moment in time. It need bear no relations to the facts nor to whatever that same politician has said in the past. Nor need it bear any relation to what he or she says two minutes later. As we have just suggested, to a politician the truth varies according to whatever suits his personal interests at the moment he is speaking. UK journalist Simon Hoggart summed up the typical politician when he quoted this remark by an anonymous political activist: “Most Members of Parliament are as slippery as a bucket of worms. Put your hand in and it comes out all slimy.” Public service is a euphemism for the opportunist pursuit of personal ambition.
What should happen?
Political parties should be abolished by law. As we have shown, they are the antithesis of democracy. Any citizen would be able to stand in an election. This would require a disbursement of public funds – an equal amount for each candidate, no other expenditure being permitted – for canvassing. Regardless of whether or not they had stood in previous elections, candidates would be entitled to equal air-time on radio and television and an equal amount of press coverage. That this radical change would present an organisational challenge there is no doubt. But then democracy is a messy business. If you want a challenge-free change of government, you can always bring in the colonels.
Once elected, members of parliament would be under an obligation to take instructions from no one. They would be subject to deselection at any time by their constituents, should the electors decide that they were not up to scratch.
The media would also need to be reformed. Journalists would be elected by popular vote and would not be subject to instructions from editors or news desks.
What will in fact happen? Our crystal ball indicates that nothing will happen. The status quo will continue. As we have explained above, the virtually invariable alternation in power of two parties with virtually identical policies means that no significant political change is possible in western societies. The political system has been deliberately designed to eliminate the possibility of change – while at the same time using spin doctors and advertising to give the totally fallacious impression that the alternation in power of differently named political parties does in fact represent change. As we have said above, “if voting changed anything, it wouldn’t be allowed”.
Moreover, should any political group, as a result of a political miracle and contrary to our expectations, show signs of having somehow secured popular support for measures to introduce true democracy, it is undoubtedly the case that the existing economic elite and their representatives in so-called democratic governments would not surrender power peacefully. The ultimate raison d’être of the judiciary, the army and the police is not to protect the people but to defend government against the people. The blog will be paying special attention to the role of the judiciary, the army, the police and the secret police in western societies. The blog favours the political accountability at all times of non-elected public servants. The people should have the right to relieve them of their duties at any moment.
If a society is dominated by an undemocratic privileged elite who exploit the mass of the people, if no peaceful means are in fact (as opposed to in theory) available to that people to seek redress, then has that people the right to take up arms to secure its democratic rights and an equitable share of the society’s output? The French, Russian and Chinese revolutionaries thought so. The African National Congress took up arms to defeat apartheid in South Africa. The Arab Spring of 2011 has involved popular armed revolt against the cliques in power.
One of the main problems with so-called democracy in the west is its dependence on cartloads of funding from corporate and special-interest sponsors. In January 2010, in the United States, the Supreme Court made a bad situation worse in a ruling that allows private corporations and trade unions to spend as much as they want to publicise election candidates.
Another – even worse – problem is the historic sell-out of principle by the world’s socialist parties. These parties retain their socialist moniker in order to hoodwink gullible supporters into thinking that they support socialism, whereas in reality they have gone over to the other side. All the western socialist parties are today capitalist parties. In substance but not in name, they differ in no respect from the capitalism parties of the right. They have betrayed their birthright for a mess of potage – occasional investiture with the trappings, but not the reality, of power. The reality of power remains firmly at all times in the hands of the corporations and businesses to which all political parties now do slavish obeisance. For this reason, we believe that the western socialist parties, together with their lackeys in one-time radical trade unions, are a greater impediment to political change than the conservative parties. At least with the conservative parties we know that they are our enemies. They make no bones about it. The socialist parties by contrast are snakes in the grass. They pretend to be other than what they are. As a result, they con a great many unsophisticated electors into voting for them in the mistaken belief that they remain the progressive parties of their origins, that they still represent the interests of the downtrodden and the common man. It is the Big Lie of contemporary politics. The socialist parties of today are traitors to the cause.
The blog is in favour of human rights. Every human being has an absolute right to food, shelter, warmth and freedom of speech. Human beings also have rights in their relationship with society at large, not least in the workplace. Anyone who interferes with these rights is an enemy of the people.
A curious development is taking place in Britain at the time of writing (November, 2011). The British Conservative Government is considering repealing the Human Rights Act, which transposes into English law the Strasbourg Convention on Human Rights, to which Britain is a signatory. This is is in response to pressure from an ultra-right-wing group within the Conservative Party who claim that Continental bureaucrats have imposed on Britain alien “human rights” at variance with good old British yeoman traditions. They seem to believe that there are “British human rights” which differ somehow from the rights of other human beings. In fact, human beings by definition all have the same rights. Human rights do not differ according to nationality.
This reminds us of how it used to be said that “Oriental” peoples had no traditions of democracy. It was not in their culture. Hence, they would not know what to do with democracy if it were handed to them on a plate. It is this attitude that is sometimes used to justify business and diplomatic relations between “Western democracies” and vicious dictatorships such as the Emirates, Bahrain or Saudi Arabia. We have even heard it said that “Orientals”, such as the Chinese, do not suffer from torture as much as the citizens of democratic nations since they are inured to it as supposedly having been part of their “culture” for centuries!
When you probe further into what the British Conservatives want, you find that what they actually want is a restriction of human rights so that Brits do not enjoy as many rights, particularly in terms of rights at work, as their fellows on the Continent. Down with Human Rights! You could not make it up. And this at the start of the twenty-first century! Unfortunately, plus ça change….
There is an anti-intellectual approach to politics that is particularly prevalent among the English middle classes which rejects theory of any kind. Its devotees are against all isms, schools of thought and theories. Things are as they are and that’s it, they say. They abhor theoreticians and all those who try, however imperfectly, to reveal the links between events, who attempt to identify cause and effect. A good example was the condemnation of the 2011 rioting in England as sheer criminality, nothing more, by the British Prime Minister David Cameron. What Cameron did not want to acknowledge was the well-substantiated link between deprivation and crime. Because if he wanted to stamp out crime (which he claims to want to do), he would have had to take action to reduce or abolish poverty (which he has no intention of doing). Toffs like Cameron have little time for grand theories. Schooled at Eton, they see themselves as down-to-earth practical folk who know about life as it really is unlike the airy-fairy pointy-heads who developed anything-goes social theories in the libertarian 1960s when traditional conservative views were out of favour. In point of fact, reactionaries like Cameron and his ilk are not opposed to all isms and theories. Funnily enough, while they are opposed to socialism and communism, they never ever turn their guns on capitalism. The riots were roundly condemned by the British establishment, particularly the political elite and the judiciary, because they had a whiff of Tahrir Square about them.
The blog is opposed to discrimination on the grounds of gender, race or beliefs.
The blog is atheistic. There are no grounds to justify religious belief. Moreover, on balance, we feel that, quite apart from turning the brains of its adherents into wobbling jelly, religion is a source of evil rather than good. As Marx said, “Religion…is the opium of the people” (Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, 1843-44). However, we recognize that tens of millions of people take a different view from us. Their right to differ we must respect, even if we do not approve of it. That is part and parcel of being a democrat.
In many places in our time, among the male half of the population, sport has replaced religion as the opium of the people.
We may have something to say too about the inefficacy of the legion of usually well-intentioned but doctrinally exclusive left-wing grouplets that pullulate, directionless, in the undergrowth of the body politic.
We have not attempted to write a 400-page justification for every view we have put forward above. However, the topics in this mission statement will be developed in line with the blog. As we said in the description of our methodology above, it is up to the reader to choose to what extent he or she agrees with us.
The blog is supportive of the following:
The Institute for the Encouragement of Disobedience (IED)
Democrats for the Abolition of Political Parties (DAPP)
The Platform for Participative Democracy (PPD)
The Alternative (TA)
Liberating Europe from the European Union (LEEU)
Our sincerest thanks to the UK’s Guardian newspaper, a staunch supporter of the market economy, without whose systematic rejection, decade after decade, of our letters to the editor – amounting to censorship of ideas that ran contrary to that paper’s ideology – this blog would never have seen the light of day.
Antigone1984.com 1 January 2012