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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Some striking phrases

Regular readers will be familiar with my theory that Britain’s current system of government is ‘soft fascism’. The Labour Party conference has been providing lots more support for the idea.

There on the front of the podium for every speech, in stark red letters, is the slogan for the event, “Strength to change Britain.” Four words, capturing the key fascist notions of power, forward movement, and national identity. Because it is a slogan, we know that an offer is being made to us; but the content of the offer is naked power, not what will be done with it. It is not for us to evaluate whether the change will be for the better. Impressive concision.

Then there was Gordon Brown’s speech. Do read the whole thing. Plenty of people have noticed how authoritarian it was in tone and content. But one vague, putatively educational, promise struck me as an epitome. It sounds like a promise, but think about it and it can only be interpreted as a threat.

My message, our message, is and must be: if you try hard, we will help you make the most of your talents.

The important questions are begged. “Try hard’ at what? Who decides what counts as trying hard? The state, that’s who. Officially approved activity will be supported, but anything else is on conditional sufferance. Your choices are a privilege granted by the state, and how you exercise them will be watched.

“The right for company boards to make their own decisions, but obligations to the rest of society too,” may come as a surprise to those who believed there were independent institutions in civil society and taking one’s own decisions was a consequence of free will, not a politically determined option. If it does, you haven’t been paying attention for the last 10 years.

“[A] Britain of mutual obligation” does not mean a Britain of mutual exchange. The voluntary mutuality of the co-operative movement is far behind us. ‘Mutual’ is a decoration, used to mean, if anything ‘universal’. The emphasis is on obligation. Ob ligare. Brown’s bondage. A country the opposite of free.

Ask for this great Deliverer now, and find him
Eyeless in Gaza, at the mill with slaves,
Himself in bonds under Philistian yoke

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