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One down and the rest of them to go – why it’s fun to be Guido Fawkes today

In my posting here yesterday about what is being inelegantly called “Smeargate” (aren’t you sick of this “gate” stuff?) I tried my best to keep up with events as they were already happening. I have a lunch date today, but just about have time to fling down some rather link-lacking thoughts (and done in ignorance of Philip Chaston’s previous posting) about what might happen next. (Later on today, I might just get to go through this and pepper it with links, but: I promise nothing. Meanwhile, sorry for all the typos and grammar screw-ups.)

I have long regarded Guido Fawkes as a genius, ever since he wrote this gorgeous pamphlet for the Libertarian Alliance. The thing about Guido is that he doesn’t just believe in liberty in an abstract this-is-the-best-system sort of way, although he certainly does believe that as well; he really loves liberty, his own liberty. His throwaway remark yesterday to the effect that he started his blog “on a whim” captures this quality very well. Tactically, this makes Guido worth about ten ordinary Guidos, because of the ten things he just might do tomorrow morning to make you wish you’d never been born, you just don’t know which one he’ll pick, if any of them. (He might just stay in bed.) Why don’t you know? Because he doesn’t know himself. Oh, he has schemes afoot. “Plots have I laid”, as Richard says at the beginning of Richard III before he acquired his numeral. But just when the knife will go in, just which applecart will be upset, which bandwaggon will have its wheels ripped off, which establishment forehead will disintegrate in the face of an oncoming sniper bullet, you never really know. I would hate to have him as an enemy. Lots of people still woefully underestimate Guido. Perhaps they do this because he is not a “team player”, as indeed he is not. About every two or three weeks, I get an angry phone call from my friend Tim Evans, the joint head honcho of the Libertarian Alliance, and general think-tanker on the up-and-up, about the latest Guido betrayal. (More to the point, Tim Evans is an expert think tank fund-raiser. Not many think-tankers are even adequate fund-raisers.) The latest phone call was a classic of the genre. Guido, said Evans, is “impossible to work with”, a complaint that assumes that Guido is part of a team which includes Tim Evans, which he is, in an ideological sense, but is actually, in the meantime, not, as Tim Evans well knows in his less distracted moments.

The particular problem Tim Evans has with Guido is that Guido is very suspicious of free market think tanks and their relationship with big business. As far as Guido’s concerned, that is just another applecart that needs to have its wheels bashed off. So now, the Institute of Economic Affairs is – get this – is in favour of “monetary easing”. Why? Who knows? Don’t they bloody read their own output? If the IEA doesn’t stick up for Austrian Economics, who the hell will? So, about every three weeks, Guido shoves a well-deserved cricket bat into the spokes of the IEA’s wheels. This enrages the likes of Tim Evans. This is not “helpful”. This is not “useful”. (Yeah, Tim, but it is, as you angrily say yourself in some of your private moments, true, isn’t it?) The long game that the Tim Evanses of this world are playing is to build and build things like the IEA until they rule the entire known universe, and in the meantime try to stop them being trashed in gossip blogs when they talk trash. Guido “doesn’t see the big picture”. Guido is “biting the hand that feeds him” (???), blah blah. But I think that telling the IEA to damn well talk sense about economics, whenever it doesn’t, is doing it a huge favour in the long run. That, in my book, is feeding the hand that feeds you, and absolutely understanding the biggest of big pictures, which is that “monetary easing” is a catastrophe, and having been for it could, in not many years at all, be the end of an otherwise highly effective think tank.

Closely related to Guido’s non-team-playerness is his suicide bomb (wrong – see comments 1 and 2 – make that Errol Flynn) nature, which Tim Evans understands extremely well, because Tim Evans is the one who, more than anybody else, has explained this to me. How can I put this? Well, I once was acquainted with another Errol Flynn type, who used to say it this way. I want, he used to say, to die with blood in my mouth. Guido loves the taste of his own blood, maybe not in a literal way but in the sense that he wants to live, and in due course die, in a blaze of glory, not quietly plodding away in some damned team. He doesn’t want to die. He loves his life, and his wife, and his baby. But, the fact that, right now, he just might get stabbed with an umbrella on a bridge – his commenters are now queueing up to tell him to “be careful” and “watch your back” – is, for him, all part of the joy of being Guido. You never live more completely than when death might be just seconds away.

This also makes him mega-formidable, because Guido doesn’t react to threats in the normal way. Most of us, when threatened by people who, according to the official rules of who is powerful and who is not (job titles and salaries and who they know and what they know basically), back off in fear. Not Guido. He greets threats with genuine pleasure. What did you just say, mate? Yeah that’s what I thought you said. I love it! And the creature who did the threatening has accomplished a minus quantity because now Guido is seriously interested, and the creature has just told Guido to his face exactly what kind of a creature he really is and what he really does for a living. Factor in that with who the creature works for and reports to, and the creature has just told Guido that his boss is a similar creature also, and probably his boss is as well. Interesting. Very interesting. Threaten Guido, and you are liable not to win small, but to lose big.

Guido’s adopted persona as an anti-establishment desperado who ended up (a) trying to blow up Parliament and (b) as a result getting executed, but as a consequence then (c) never being forgotten is no mere random pose. It goes to the heart of Guido’s view of himself and of the world, and of his place and purpose in the world.

There are about three dozen things that I might now put as following from the above cogitations, but here are two. First, this McBride resignation could be but the first of a row of dominoes waiting to fall. Does anyone now doubt that, in a deniable I-knew-nothing-of-these-emails way this particular story goes right up to Gordon Brown himself, and beyond him to the entire Labour Party who let him take over in Number Ten, unopposed? He is the engine at the heart of all this smear-mongering nastiness, and the Labour Party stands condemned of having known all about this for a decade, but of having let him get a top job, and keep it, and keep it, and then get the top job, and keep it, and keep it …

Yesterday I passed on the widespread gossip to the effect that a government minister by the name of Tom Watson could be the next domino. Another name to look out for is Charlie Whelan (I know, links, links – try googling the news), who has been Brown’s rumour-monger and muckspreader-in-chief for over a decade. He is in the loop with these emails, and no less a personage than Alastair Campbell has just fingered him as culpable. Campbell and Whelan are old enemies in the same kind of dysfunctional way that their bosses, Blair and Brown are enemies. I know, ferrets in the sack. And my point is: why should this stop until Brown himself, and the very Labour Party itself, is thoroughly trashed? The smart thing for Labour would be to do now what they should have done to Gordon Brown in about 1972, namely take him out into the yard and drown him like a superfluous kitten. That way, Labour at least minimises the damage that Brown is doing to them, as much as it now can. But they probably aren’t enough of a team to do that. The nightmare scenario for Labour is far worse than that, far worse. Brown fights the next election campaign with “Smeargate” having worked itself methodically up his chain of command, and with the same exact sense of timing that caused Guido to break these emails during the Easter break, the denials being far more damaging (as they always are in these things) than the original trivialities that started it all, and with the journos asking Brown when he first knew whatever piece of shit they know he knows but which he still says he doesn’t know, while his party stares electoral doom in the face like an enormous gang of rabbits trapped in a huge World War 2 searchlight.

But then, as I said in my similarly hasty ramble yesterday, it gets truly interesting. Because then, Guido settles down to rescue the forthcoming Conservative government from its own likely folly, the folly of just steadying Britain as she goes down the plug-hole of history, into a life of perpetual debt for us all. Then, Guido sets to work on them, and on who is paying them to go on doing such things. Just which bankers prefer ruining Britain for ever to ruining themselves? Which supposedly free market think tanks are keeping the faith, and which are merely putting their faith up for sale?

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that because Guido doesn’t believe in the same things you believe in, to do with being a normal person, that he believes in nothing except being abnormal. He is a libertarian, but not just for Guido. He believes in a world as little deranged by scumbag politicians as he or anyone else can possibly contrive. He does his “they’re all at it” stuff for a reason beyond the reason of it being fun to wipe the smirk off these people’s faces. He does it because the meta-message, the meta-context, as our own Dear Leader would put it, is that these people should not be running our lives. Look at them. Is this the world you want, the world you get when these people, all of these people, whatever label they stick on themselves, are deciding everything. You want the government to regulate everything? So, you want Derek bloody Draper telling you how to run your life, do you? Do you? Because that is what you are saying. Some lady cabinet minister recently said (again sorry about the missing link) that Guido is a “nihilist”. Wrong, wrong, wrong. This is all part of how these people, in his words, “don’t get it”. Just because Guido doesn’t believe in what they believe in, which is them being in charge of everything, that doesn’t mean he believes in nothing else beyond stopping them being in charge of everything. Guido is not just hacking away at the world as it is. He wants a massively better one in place of the world we have now. As I say, the important stuff starts after the next election.

Or, if they’re stupid enough and angry enough and sufficiently agreed about it (as well they might become) they might kill him, or try to. They might make, or try to make, a martyr out of him. Which, for Guido, sort of, would be the ultimate Mission Accomplished, the ultimate tribute paid by the scumbags to him. In which case it will be up to us normals never to forget Guido, and to use the myth of Guido to help us accomplish approximately what the fact of Guido might have done. Not least because the threat to do all this, and in the meantime talking like this about him, might just help to keep him alive. I know, I know. Crazy talk. There’s “no question” of any such thing happening. Too fevered. Tinfoil hat, conspiracy lunacy.

But sort of fun, don’t you think? Or, to put it another way: let’s all hope not. I’m late for lunch.

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16 comments to One down and the rest of them to go – why it’s fun to be Guido Fawkes today

  • I hope my wife doesn’t see this – she will be even mre worried.

    I am willing to take risks, but not suicidal. Life is good. Still, very nice obituary, hope we don’t need it for another half-century.

  • Yes Guido. The suicide bomb thing is wrong and I’ve taken the liberty of correcting the original before rushing off to lunch. That’s certain death, unless you chicken out. But, taking hair-raising risks, yes.

    On the plus side, I’m very glad you got to read a very admiring obituary of yourself. You thoroughly deserve to enjoy this rare pleasure. As you say, hope it isn’t needed any time soon. Happy Easter to you and to all.

  • Brian: You brute. Lunch is important, particularly when it is at my place.

  • Brian, you magnificent bastard! This is the best blog post I’ve seen in a long time! And Guido, don’t worry, they won’t bury you; remembering the scene from the V for Vendetta film; today, after the greatest blow against the political establishment by a libertarian thus far, we are all Guido Fawkes.

  • IEA is a waste of space these days and deserves all the grief they get for exactly the reasons stated. They have become part of the problem, not part of the solution.

    We have the Adam Smith Institute, quite what purpose the IEA serves now is unclear to me. If they do not understand what is wrong with the correct global Keynsian suicide pact, they are worthless.

  • ThousandsOfMilesAway

    I don’t think Guido is in much danger. He is surely way too visible to just crudely have bumped off, even in the most fevered of tinfoil hat considerations.

    I am genuinely excited after reading this post though; maybe the severity of the coming depression may cause some genuine new thinking in Britain and around the world on the part of the (self-?) oppressed masses.

    It’s far from assured though. So keep up the pressure, folks. Kudos to you all. And a very Happy Easter.

  • Brian – If you examine what the IEA has published recently you will see that we have been doing a great deal to promote the Austrian perspective on the financial crisis. We have published several Austrian articles in Economic Affairs, web versions of “Free Banking in Britain”,”Denationalisation of Money” and “Choice in Currency”, as well as several posts on the IEA blog (for example, “Why central banking doesn’t work” by Terry Arthur). In the next few weeks we will be publishing a new version of Hayek’s “A Tiger by the Tail” (in association with the Mises Institute) and a credit crunch reader featuring dozens of Austrian articles. Kevin Dowd has also contributed a chapter to a forthcoming book on the crash.

    The SMPC meets under the auspices of the IEA but it does not speak for the IEA. Different IEA authors have different views about quantitative easing and clearly monetarists and Austrians tend not to agree on this issue, even though both camps are generally supportive of free markets. Given that the banking crisis has (unfairly) given socialism a new lease of life, I don’t think it’s wise from a strategic perspective for libertarians to focus on this divisive issue.

  • Corsair

    Guido should take care – we need him. We don’t need him to have an encounter with a ‘deranged animal rights activist’ or ‘enraged Islamist’.

    God Bless Guido!

  • Here’s a further example of how people, including me this time, underestimated Guido, namely: Guido’s handling of the hapless Derek Draper. Why are you wasting time and space on this obviously tenth rate twat? So, he’s not a real therapist? Who cares? LabourList is ridiculous? Tell us something not everyone knows. Those were the cries from half of Guido’s commentariat, and I often felt like joining in, here or there or somewhere. Yet, Guido kept on with the Draper postings, and even spending time with him in TV studios, in a way that could only make sense if Draper was somehow almost as important as he thinks he is.

    And now, it is clear that Draper is quite important. He is indeed a tenth rate twat, but he is a tenth rate twat who is, via Damian McBride, strongly connected at just one remove to the Prime Minister, and has a more than passing acquaintance with the Prime Minister directly, as Guido is now emphasising. That important enough for you? It works for me.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    I must confess to initially sharing Brian’s reservations on why a piece of under-the-rock crud such as Draper is worth worrying about. But to be honest, we, as libertarians, should understand more than most the benefits of a division of labour.

    Guido focuses on shafting NuLab creatures like Draper, Peter Hain or whomever, and lil’ ol me writes long screeds about the case for or against free banking, or why the credit crisis does not prove what the conventional wisdom says it does, or whatever. Guido’s stuff is racier and gets more hits; I have no idea how many people I influence. But that should not matter. I do what I do for fun and intellectual stimulation and value the feedback this generates *(well, most of the time).

    Surely, given that libertarian strategy is a contradiction in terms – it “is like herding cats” – then let a thousand flowers bloom.

    I wish Chris Tame was around now. He’d be having the time of his life.

    On the IEA thing, I would point out that that think tank did actually publish, or republish, stuff about free banking. And remember that while the Austrian school of free marketeers abhors the nonsense of “quantitative easing”, that the Chicagoite school is more relaxed about it. Mind you, in his later life, I think Friedman came more and more around to the Austrian perspective.

  • smallwit

    Johnathan: on his cloud somewhere, the late Chris Tame is no doubt having the time of his afterlife today

  • Paul Marks

    Richard Wellings.

    I have been told the I.E.A. supports the policy of “quantative easing” – is that true?

    If it is true then your comment is somewhat misleading – as this policy is about as unAustrian as one can get.

    As for choice of currency – all very well till the government says “and you are going to pay taxes in this currency – and, by the way, this is the currency we are debauching”.

    Perhaps you see Perry’s point now.

  • Paul Marks

    Oh J.P. already touched on the quantative easing thing.

    On Milton Friedman:

    He was in two minds for most of his life – sometime saying “we can not spend our way out of a recession” and sometimes saying “we will throw money from helecopters if we need to”.

    However, it is true that for some years (i.e. before the stroke) he had come to the opinion that the “monetary base” should be frozen (rather than increased by X per cent).

    But this may not have been a matter of conversion to the Austrian School – Milton Friedman himself said it was an epirical matter.

    He had observed the antics of the Fed and other Central Banks for decades (under many different managers) and come to the conculsion that they could not be trusted to increase the money supply in any orderly way.

    So he held that they should have their power taken away from them.

    A rare example of someone who said he was “empirical” actually being empirical.

    Milton Friedman (in this respect) reminds of Karl Popper – who always detested by called a “positivist”, partly (there were other reasons) because the Vienna Circle of Postitivist philosophers were not empirical (they were dogmatic collectivists in their politics).

    Almost needless to say Popper was not a positivist anyway as he had a long list of metaphysical beliefs (which he listed sometimes – when someone was stupid enough to call him a positivist) and Postivism puts a ban on the serious consideration of such things.

  • Paul Marks – I think it’s fair to say that no think tank outside North America is doing more to disseminate high-quality Austrian scholarship than the IEA, so I don’t agree that my comment is misleading at all. The IEA has no “corporate view” on quantitative easing (QE) and different economists associated with the IEA have different views on this policy. The Shadow Monetary Policy Committee has indeed advocated QE in the context of the government’s inflation target. Its members are well aware of the risks involved and it is well worth reading the minutes of their latest meeting, available here: http://www.iea.org.uk/record.jsp?type=minutes&ID=309

  • Paul Marks

    “Its members are well aware of the risks involved”.

    Sadly (and I mean no offence) that comment tells me all I need to know about this area.

    Firstly it is not a question of “risk” – the new money distorts the capital structure (on top of all the existing distortions).

    “Inflation target”.

    Our friend the “price level” again?

    However, you may be correct in saying that no think tank outside North America (and few inside it) are better than the I.E.A.

    I am not exactly a happy bunny when it comes to my view of the state of such things in the modern world.

    However, there is hope.

    I dare say that (for example) even the average undergradute at Francisco Marroquin University in Guatemala (yes I know that is inside North American continent) has a better understanding of these matters than most of the members of your Shadow Monetary Policy Commttee.

    And, to be fair, several I.E.A. publications have made this point themselves (although in less direct language).

  • Paul Marks

    Of course an “uneducated” man like Glenn Beck would ask “where is the left?”

    Asking why they do not come out and attack the corporate welfare of governments (or central banks) comming out and buying corporate debt paper.

    But that would taking a “micro”view of these “macro” matters (for those who make such foolish divisions in their heads).

    As for a Central Bank buying government debt paper.

    Firstly government should not be borrowing money, but if it does borrow money it should be real savings (income that people have chosen not to consume) not made up money.

    All rather basic stuff.