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An easy mistake to make

Apparently the Queen ‘confused Vladimir Putin with Andrew Marr’ during a state visit.

It can be difficult to tell apart all these ex-communists who have kept their taste for being “engineers of the human soul”. There was little spiritual difference between Vladimir Putin and Andrew Marr when Marr said this:

“… though teachers are the most effective anti-racist campaigners in the country, this means more than education in other religions it means a form of political education. Only people who understand the economic forces changing their world, threatening them but also creating new opportunities, have a chance of being immune to the old tribal chants. And the final answer, frankly, is the vigorous use of state power to coerce and repress. It may be my Presbyterian background, but I firmly believe that repression can be a great, civilising instrument for good. Stamp hard on certain ‘natural’ beliefs for long enough and you can almost kill them off. The police are first in line to be burdened further, but a new Race Relations Act will impose the will of the state on millions of other lives too.”

Emphasis added. The Guardian article from which the quote is taken can be read here.

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29 comments to An easy mistake to make

  • Lee Moore

    I wonder if Andrew Marr would have risen so far at the BBC if he was an ex-Nazi ?

  • Runcie Balspune

    Great article.

    As is the fallacy of those who wish for authoritarianism of any kind, whilst “stamping hard” may be good, it all depends on who is doing the stamping. Communists, fascists and theocrats of all designs have been experimenting in this vein for millennia, leaving a pile of corpses of the innocent as testament to their catastrophic continuing failures, but we’ve still yet to see a “benign jackboot”. Does Mr Marr really think he, a lowly piece of irrelevant pond scum in the grand scheme of humanity, actually has that answer? I say to him – “don’t tread on me”.

    You know, one thing we haven’t really tried is actually not having any jackboots at all.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Interestingly, Marr advocated Popper for the BBC Greatest Philosopher poll in 2005. That is not much to say for Marr, given that Soros also advocates Popper. However, the Popper quote selected by Marr at the link, suggests that Marr might have revised his views between 1999 (Grauniad article) and 2005.

  • Bruce Hoult

    HM is well known for her sense of humour. The brisk Land Rover drive with the Saudi king being just one well known example.

  • “It may be my Presbyterian background, but I firmly believe that repression can be a great, civilising instrument for good. Stamp hard on certain ‘natural’ beliefs for long enough and you can almost kill them off.”

    Because it worked out so well for John Knox. In Scotland today, we happily have the benefits of his vigorous efforts along these lines. Thanks to those great “Kirk sessions” that Rabbie Burns so well described, illegitimacy and sexual immorality is almost unknown here, let alone any “unnatural” passions.

    Or maybe not. I think Andrew Marr has learned the wrong lesson from his puritan ancestors. If this kind of thing works so well, how come he’s able to use the same methods towards rather different goals today?

  • I wonder if Andrew Marr would have risen so far at the BBC if he was an ex-Nazi ?

    …rather than a current Nazi you mean?

    Just goes to show the inherent truth of Horseshoe Theory.

  • Andrew Duffin

    How interesting that he uses the metaphor of stamping.

    Has he read his Orwell, do you think?

    Note also that he quite openly refers to anti-racism as a religion.

    What an unpleasant person.

  • Alan H.

    The Marrs (and Putins) of this world need to end up hanging from lampposts. That really is the only ‘solution’ to such people as they and their supporters only respond force.

  • …rather than a current Nazi you mean?

    You mean a member of Labour, or the Nationalsozialistische Britisch Arbeiterpartei as I often call them?

  • Has he read his Orwell, do you think?

    Yes and I imagine he sees 1984 as a collection of interesting policy suggestions.

  • Erik

    If this kind of thing works so well, how come he’s able to use the same methods towards rather different goals today?

    The Puritans let up, obviously. Or perhaps they were conquered or otherwise made to let up by an external power. Things can work well without being obliged to be permanent historical fixtures for eternity.

  • Mr Ecks

    The arrogance needs beating out of him.

    Why is the prick being paid out of BBC licence fees?

  • Erik

    Somewhat less cheekily, I would first like to propose a possible contender for benign use of jackboot, contra Runcie: the end of infanticide by exposure. If you suggest this was not benign, I think we have an irremediable difference of axioms. If you suggest this was not done by jackboot, I will disagree on the evidence of laws and prosecution, as well as my observations of the nature of mankind.

    Then I will suggest that the real answer is that non-Puritans to a large extent jackbooted various Puritans, Presbyterians, and other religious nuts out of Britain, to America – where the nuts settled in and established power while morphing a little over time. For instance, adapting to the First Amendment by ditching “The Word of God says…” in favor of the largely isomorphic but superficially nonreligious “The march of progress demands…” or “The moral arc of history bends towards…” When in charge again, their neo-Puritan descendants proceeded to make with the jackbooting once more, their influence spreading back to give us Andrew Marr.

    The jackboot didn’t so much fail as change. You’re seeing essentially the same jackboot in action in Marr as there was in his Presbyterian background, only it’s been through a little schism and heresy along the way.

    Not that neo-religious progressives would use “heresy” of course. Instead it’s again isomorphic 1A-adaptations such as “racism”, a term whose usage in the mouth of proglodytes has become entirely detached from race to mean e.g. someone who disagrees about the desirability of Muslim immigration. Wouldn’t you agree that this is rapidly converging to the linguistic niche of the older term?

  • Alisa

    It may be my Presbyterian background, but I firmly believe that repression can be a great, civilising instrument for good. Stamp hard on certain ‘natural’ beliefs for long enough and you can almost kill them off.

    Indeed, such as the ‘natural’ belief that it is one’s god-given right to order people around and tell them what to believe. Amen to that.

  • Patrick Crozier

    It is not his Presbyterian background. I was also (half) brought up as a Presbyterian. Yes, there is a lot of self-denial. But the key is that it is self-denial. You do it, no one else.

  • If he looks in the mirror and says “I’m a Presbyterian.” three times, his hair will turn orange and he’ll turn into a Trump.

  • bobby b

    . . . repression can be a great, civilising instrument for good.

    Exactly right. Kill someone, or rape someone, or rob someone – i.e., violate our moral code – and we’ll put you in prison, which qualifies as “repression” in my book.

    The only difference is that he wants to assemble our new moral code.

  • Paul Marks

    It is clear from Mr Marr’s words (that Natalie has kindly given us) that Mr Marr is not an “ex” totalitarian – he is still a totalitarian.

    Mr Marr can believe any vile thing he likes – fair enough. But I see no reason for a special tax (the BBC “license fee”) to fund his ravings.

    Oh, by the way, he confuses race and religion. Being opposed to a particular religion (arguing that its Founder and doctrines are evil) has nothing to do with racialism – and it is not “anti racist” to pretend that a wicked belief system is not wicked.

  • Paul Marks

    As for his own boyhood religion – Mr Marr does not understand it.

    Traditional Presbyterians do not believe that people can be made into good Christians by state coercion – they believe that who will be saved is nothing to do with the state, it is all predetermined. Someone is written into the Book of Life at the start – or they are not.

    I believe this determinist Calvinist position to be deeply in error – but it is not the error that Mr Marr is making. His error is to think that people can be made just and good by force and fear. Essentially the philosophical position of Mr Marr is Fascism.

  • bobby b

    Oh, by the way, he confuses race and religion.

    There’s no confusion. When you cannot think of a good argument in defense of the religion, you redirect the conversation to race and claim the high road. Saves all of that “well, I understand that they all want to kill us or subjugate us, but they’re entitled to their beliefs” crap that’s such a hard sell.

  • bobby b

    His error is to think that people can be made just and good by force and fear.

    No, his error is that his concept of “just and good” is garbage. We make people at least refrain from doing the worst unjust and ungood acts by force and fear (of incarceration) all the time.

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker!) Gray

    Shame on you, Paul! Marr is not a totalitarian- he is a totalitarianist, one who hopes to get into power so he can change society for its’ own good. ‘Totalitarian’ is an sdjective! Weren’t you teached proper at school?

  • the other rob

    As for his own boyhood religion – Mr Marr does not understand it.

    There was a time when I would have been surprised to find a so-called Presbyterian to be unfamiliar with the predestination of the saints. But see below.

    There’s no confusion. When you cannot think of a good argument in defense of the religion, you redirect the conversation to race and claim the high road.

    Or, as the old legal joke goes: When the facts are on your side, pound the facts. When the law is on your side, pound the law. When neither is on your side, pound the table.

  • Rich Rostrom

    That’s unfair to Putin. He’s merely a thuggish thief.

  • lucklucky

    “Why is the prick being paid out of BBC licence fees?”

    Since BBC exists due to State violence i don’t see any contradiction.

  • Mr Ed

    Weren’t you teached proper at school?

    Please. All language is equal to all other, but

    Weren’t you learned proper at school?

  • Erik

    Shame on you, Paul! Marr is not a totalitarian- he is a totalitarianist, one who hopes to get into power so he can change society for its’ own good. ‘Totalitarian’ is an [a]djective!

    Nicholas, I believe it is a longstanding principle of the English language that an adjective may serve as a noun denoting people described by that adjective. Springing to mind is Gandalf’s remark that “even the wise cannot see all ends”. Now he might also speak of the wisest, but surely you would not insist Gandalf should speak of the wiseist?

  • Erik, October 27, 2016 at 12:41 pm: “… The Puritans let up, obviously. Or …”

    Well, yeah, that is my point. Much nasty stuff was done, justified by the “noble” goal aimed at, and eventually the ratio of its perceived futility, corruption (e.g. Burns “Holy Wullie”) and etc. began to outweigh the diminishing perceptions of its utility, after which it was given up, the “noble” goal unachieved – so unachieved that Marr can now presume to use similar methods in pursuit of goals his inspirers would have outlawed.

    Of course, the left always think that this time it will be different. This time it will not end with another abandoned goal no longer sufficing to excuse unpleasant acts.

    As a soviet defector finished one of his stories of life there, “He had long ago learned that whenever the party gave orders, things always ended in a way no-one wanted to remember.”

  • Paul Marks

    My apologies Mr Gray. Although Erik has a different view of the matter to yours. I make no judgement on this.

    bobby b – I agree with a lot of what you say here.

    However, just refraining from attacking people (refraining out of fear of punishment) is not enough to make someone “just and good”. Although I think we would both agree that trying to make people “good” (benevolent) by force-and-fear is both misguided and actually wicked.

    By the way – I do not support the punishment of crime out of the belief it deters crime. It may do – or it may not (after all pickpockets operated in the crowds watching hangings – including the hanging of pickpockets).

    I believe that crime should be punished – and punished in proportion to the offence.

    I do not believe that an innocent person should be punished for a crime (if the guilty person can not be found) to “deter” crime. And the punishment of the guilty should be in proportion to their offence – no harsh punishment of minor offenses (in order to “deter” crime).

    And I believe that a guilty person should be punished for their crimes – even if no one ever knows they are punished (i.e. no one can possibly be deterred by the punishment).

    In short – I am not a utilitarian.