We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

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

Samizdata fuck-you quote of the day

No need to bother, Co-op. As of today you are henceforth banned from advertising in The Spectator, in perpetuity. We will not have companies like yours use their financial might to try to influence our editorial content, which is entirely a matter for the editor.

Andrew Neil, in response to Co-op indicating they would refuse to advertise in The Spectator due to the publication’s “transphobia

50 comments to Samizdata fuck-you quote of the day

  • Schrodinger's Dog

    I’m curious: just why are big corporations so utterly, wholeheartedly on board with this stuff?

  • Stonyground

    The Co-op has always claimed to be more “ethical” than thou on various issues. This response is just so brilliant, I keep reading it through again just to appreciate it just once more.

  • Paul Marks

    SD

    The coop has always been on the left – as to why other Corporations are on board with the FRANKFURT SCHOOL OF MARXISM, that is because they are controlled by hired managers who are trained in the doctrines of the Frankfurt School of Marxism in university and business school under such names as “Social Responsibility”.

    The fact that very few people dare call “Critical Theory” and “Social Responsibility” the FRANKFURT SCHOOL OF MARXISM (which is what they are) is the secret of its success,

    “But Paul you are saying that most Capitalist Corporations are supporting a set of doctrines that are designed to destroy capitalism”.

    Yes that is exactly what I am saying – whether they know it or not.

    And it is not just Corporations – it is governments as well.

    For example, the American government trains its employees in “Critical Theory” – which is the FRANKFURT SCHOOL OF MARXISM by another name.

    This includes American government employees in charge of the development of nuclear weapons.

    If the situation was not so serious it would be funny.

    And I blame Conservatives who in the 1980s just said “this is Political Correctness gone mad” not “this is the Frankfurt School of Marxism and we must fight it or be destroyed by it”.

    Conservatives, in any country, who do not have a basic knowledge of the enemy are as useful as chocolate teapots.

    To defeat the enemy you first be able to identify the enemy – and most Conservatives fail at this first fence, as they have not had basic ideological training.

    Someone who, for example, know that the word “transphobic” is from the Frankfurt School of Marxism and is an example of the old Marxist trick of “medicalising dissent” (pretending that dissent is a form of mental illness) is of no use in this war – for war it is.

  • Clovis Sangrail

    The Co-op’s tweet seems to have been disappeared 🙄

  • Flubber

    Paul, the Frankfurt School is just an antisemitic conspiracy theory donchaknow?

  • Matthew

    Actually, it makes a great deal of sense from the point of view of a large corporation. All of this nonsense requires compliance. Compliance costs money. But to a large extent, the compliance is a fixed cost. The larger the corporation, the more the cost of compliance can be spread across the array of products and services the corporation provides. Smaller companies have more difficulty absorbing the costs. So increased regulation, wokeness, social responsibility, etc. helps suppress or drive out competition.

  • bobby b

    Looks like some Co-op employee is in some trouble.

    From the Co-op tweet account:

    “That’s escalated quickly and we want to set the record straight. The tweet sent yesterday was incorrect and does not reflect our advertising position. Our policy supports editorial freedom and you can read more about it here:”(not gonna link it.)

    https://twitter.com/coopuk/status/1301880790700220419

    Maybe people are figuring out that cancel-culture can be a two-way street?

  • Paul, the Frankfurt School is just an antisemitic conspiracy theory donchaknow? (Flubber, September 4, 2020 at 5:37 pm)

    Those who seek to enforce Critical Social Justice Theory do indeed show a marked tendency to become anti-semitic. Partly, it follows from the logic (the, ah, ‘logic’) of their official beliefs, but those who claim their enemies resemble Hitler start channelling his favourite hate so often that I think the cause lies deeper than that.

    On a more serious note, The Totalitarian Epistemological Closure of Social Justice is a wonderfully highbrow title – and well worth reading. And while it mostly uses the more modern terms (and I think is the clearer for it), there is – as there should be – a mention of the Frankfurt School.

  • bobby b

    Matthew
    September 4, 2020 at 5:50 pm

    “Actually, it makes a great deal of sense from the point of view of a large corporation. All of this nonsense requires compliance. Compliance costs money. But to a large extent, the compliance is a fixed cost. The larger the corporation, the more the cost of compliance can be spread across the array of products and services the corporation provides.”

    But, Matthew, even though they can spread the cost over many more points, their exposure is exactly that much larger.

    If The Co-op is to be believed, this happened because one employee took it upon herself to announce her own chosen company policy without the company’s knowledge or approval. Large corporations face that danger from each one of their employees.

    If I’m Joe The Grocer, with my one store and twelve employees, I can watch them carefully. The Co-op can’t do that. They’re always just one rogue employee away from disaster.

  • The Cooperative Party united with Labour in the 1920s (in the last parliament, I think some 30-odd MPs were still technically ‘Labour and Cooperative Party’ members (maybe fewer in today’s parliament). The Cooperative Bank was the Labour party’s bank until its chairman was removed for being a drug addict. Back then (circa 2014), the guy brought in from HSBC to rescue it said he wanted the bank less political, ‘Get Woke, Go Broke’ having been rather too apposite, but I do not know how that all turned out. And of course the bank may be rather separate from the retail chain.

    The coop is far from alone in its cancel culture enthusiasm, but its century-old left-leaning attitudes means it signifies little in and of itself. It was always likely to be an early-adopter of these trends – even if its execs didn’t snort something before making the decision.

    Of course, if it was a rogue employee, the question is: will the execs have to snort something strong before they dare reverse it. 🙂

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Those who seek to enforce Critical Social Justice Theory do indeed show a marked tendency to become anti-semitic.”

    I think that was supposed to be an allusion to the parallels with ‘Cultural Bolshevism’?

  • rosenquist

    Paul, the Frankfurt School is just an antisemitic conspiracy theory donchaknow?

    maybe not just an antisemitic conspiracy, but many if not most of those who obsess obsess over the ‘Frankfurt School’ as some sort of uniquely malign influence on the West are indeed antisemites.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “maybe not just an antisemitic conspiracy, but many if not most of those who obsess obsess over the ‘Frankfurt School’ as some sort of uniquely malign influence on the West are indeed antisemites.”

    I don’t think that’s what it’s talking about.

    The Frankfurt School was a particular branch of abstract pseudointellectual bullshit developed by academics at Frankfurt University back in the 1920s/30s. It was based on Marxist theory, combined with several movements in philosophy and then-fashionable sociology, but it was mostly incomprehensible and irrelevant outside the circles of academic poseurs. People referenced it, it’s arguably an ancestor of more recent Marxist splinter groups and sects, but it was largely abandoned decades ago.

    Then in 1992 a guy called Michael Minnicino wrote an essay that basically replicated the ‘Cultural Bolshevism’ trope of Nazi propaganda, where it was claimed it was Jewish intellectuals who were doing the sort of cultural vandalism and subversion that we ascribe to ‘Cultural Marxism’. Minnicino used the term “Frankfurt School” to refer to it, but it doesn’t appear to bear any relationship to the actual Frankfurt School philosophy. It was apparently just a convenient label he picked, sufficiently real/historical to be convincing, but sufficiently obscure and unreadably incomprehensible that nobody would realise the connection was just made up. Just as the Bavarian Illuminati were a real group, but they don’t actually run the world. It’s like a Dan Brown novel – real historical groups used in fiction to lend verisimilitude.

    Minnicino’s essay proved a hit on the alt-right, and the terms became a catch-all term for all forms of modern left-wing/Marxist social engineering and culture war. It’s not historically accurate, but to some degree the meaning of terms is defined by the way they’re used. It doesn’t matter, the people you’re talking to know what you mean.

    But in a sense, it would be like a leftist calling all modern right-wing culture ‘Objectivism’ (‘Cultural Objectivism’?), on the basis that right-wingers support capitalism like Objectivism did. It might arguably be a cultural ancestor of much of right-wing thought, but the term is hardly accurate.

    It’s its ancestry in the definitely anti-semitic ‘Cultural Bolshevism’, and the fact that a lot of the intellectuals of the original Frankfurt School were German Jews (Horkheimer was Jewish and Adorno was part-Jewish, for example), that I think leads to the accusation. Far-right antisemites certainly note the connection, but many non-antisemites use the term too.

  • maybe not just an antisemitic conspiracy, but many if not most of those who obsess obsess over the ‘Frankfurt School’ as some sort of uniquely malign influence on the West are indeed antisemites.

    Including all the Jewish one who shovel shit on the Frankfurt School? Must say I have not observed antipathy to the Frankfurt School to be a realm where anti-Semites are notably present above the background count.

  • Far-right antisemites certainly note the connection, but many non-antisemites use the term too.

    Precisely so.

  • Looking very briefly into the old story of the Cooperative Bank and its erstwhile chairman Mr Flowers (for my comment above), I came across a short summary of him in a minor side-note to a case study from 2012 (two years before his drug-scandal dragged him down).

    Paul Flowers is not a banker and has very little experience of banking. He is a Methodist minister who has been active in politics. When appointed Flowers had no knowledge of finance and no previous experience of running the board of a major corporation. He was appointed to “chair an unruly board of 22 individuals, and two deputies were appointed – Rodney Baker-Bates and David Davies – to counter his lack of banking knowledge.”

    Mr Flowers has been local Labour councillor (politician) serving on the local government in several major UK cities. He used his political skill to work his way through the non-banking part of Co-Op Bank. At various times he chaired a drug abuse charity, Lifeline; was a member of the Advertising Standards Authority and was vice chair of the National Association of Citizens’ Advice Bureau.

    One of those people who flit from council/quango/NGO to council/quango/NGO, I guess. 🙂

    Not that on-topic, but it amused me – and hints at the culture of appointment in the co-op.

  • Martin

    Well done. These huge corporations need to be made to realise that signing up for the woke agenda will set them off on the road to bankruptcy unless they change their ways.

  • Clovis Sangrail

    Well, you might check here (and its sequel) for a slightly fuller context on Cultural Marxism and anti-semitic conspiracy theories. The main conspiracy theory is to suggest that using the term “Cultural Marxism” is a marker of anti-semitism. It isn’t- it started as shorthand for Gramsci’s theory of cultural hegemony and Dutschke’s resultant idea of “the long march through the institutions”. It’s invention was necessary to explain the failure of the proletariat to behave the way Marx said they would.

    As for NiV’s assertion that the Frankfurt School’s ideas were “largely abandoned decades ago”, 🙄 They were only abandoned in the sense that devotees felt they had moved on by refining them.
    Try working in a modern University (or just staying in one for a few days, or reading some of the publications from Sociology or History) and you will see how the successor ideas (Intersectionality, Social Justice, Critical Race Theory) stay on and are increasingly popular amongst academics in the Humanities and their students and graduates. Indeed Critical Theory largely is the Frankfurt School’s idea. And if you assert that that isn’t a/the major ingredient in most modern ideological crap then you are either unaware or deeply dishonest.

    Which is it, @NiV?

  • They reversed it so fast that a rogue employee is probably hitting up the jobs ads right now…

  • David Roberts

    I have always had a soft spot for the Cooperative movement, which I think included mutual organisations and partnership businesses. I also would include sports clubs and other entities set up by involved groups. It seemed to me to be a feasible alternative to the entrepreneurial or state based enterprises of now. With the exception of Michael Oakshott, I have come across little current or recent discussion or writings of these ways to organise commercial affairs. Perhaps this is my ignorance or it has been discredited by earlier thinkers.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Well, you might check here (and its sequel) for a slightly fuller context on Cultural Marxism and anti-semitic conspiracy theories.”

    I’ve got no major arguments with the link. Like I said, the main reasons for the charge seem to be the similarity to ‘Cultural Bolshevism’, and that the originators were Jews. The link doesn’t mention the former, but agrees on the latter.

    “As for NiV’s assertion that the Frankfurt School’s ideas were “largely abandoned decades ago”, 🙄 They were only abandoned in the sense that devotees felt they had moved on by refining them.”

    As I said, “it’s arguably an ancestor of more recent Marxist splinter groups and sects”.

    “Indeed Critical Theory largely is the Frankfurt School’s idea. And if you assert that that isn’t a/the major ingredient in most modern ideological crap then you are either unaware or deeply dishonest.”

    “Critical Theory” is essentially a fancy academic term for “moaning about the way society is run, and who has the power, and how the powerful use culture to exploit and oppress the little man, like me, and how we should fix this by giving people like me more power”. They use fancy language to make ordinary ideas seem clever and sophisticated.

    Yes, Marxists do it. But so does every other political movement. Indeed, moaning about the ruling class elite of the Frankfurt School subverting and controlling society is itself an application of ‘Critical Theory’. Any discussion of the propaganda of the ‘Ruling Class’, or ‘The Establishment’, or the ‘Metropolitan Elite’/’Bourgeoisie’, and how ordinary people are enslaved by society’s cultural expectations to their benefit and our detriment – that’s ‘Critical Theory’. It’s about the belief that society’s culture is used as a means of social control. The Marxists believed that capitalists ran society for their own ends. Many of us believe Marxists run society for their own ends. It’s all ‘Critical Theory’. It’s just a pretentious term for political moaning about who runs society and how society is run.

    Different groups of people have different ideas about how everybody should live, and they fight one another for control of the cultural machinery of social control. If the dominant culture enforces behaviour they support, that’s just natural and normal and nothing special. They barely notice it, except when other people try to shut it down. If the dominant culture enforces or allows behaviour they hate, it’s a conspiracy on the part of their enemies to take over or stay in control of society. In the sense that Marxists still think like that, you could say they are continuing the same ‘school of thought’. But I’d not dignify it with so grandiose a term.

    Personally, I don’t think it’s true anyway. Culture works more like a market. Nobody is ‘in control’ of it. It follows the tides of popular opinion. A company may set out to ‘dominate the market’, and if they prosper for a while they might even think it was by their own cleverness. But then the market turns against them, and they go down. All the clever advertising and strategic manipulation of the market won’t save them, because it never had any great effect anyway. Since everybody else is trying to manipulate things to their own advantage too, it all cancels out. Society goes the way it goes not because rulers choose to lead, but because the people choose to follow.

  • Clovis Sangrail

    @NiV
    I think that was at least a disingenuous reply!
    Also you’re wrong-Critical Theory is more than that and it is increasingly subscribed too.
    It lays the groundwork for a different epistemology. That’s why you can’t debate its devotees-they have “a different way of knowing”.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Also you’re wrong-Critical Theory is more than that…”

    Such as?

    “… and it is increasingly subscribed too.”

    So?

    That’s how the changing tides of political fashion work. Culture changes. It’s how the culture they’re replacing got into power, too, and the one before that, and the one before that, back to the dawn of civilisation. The Frankfurters didn’t invent that.

    “It lays the groundwork for a different epistemology.”

    Like religions have “faith”? Which you also can’t debate? Is that supposed to be something new?

  • Clovis Sangrail

    @NiV
    OK, I give up. You are responding in bad faith without dealing with what I’m saying.

  • APL

    Clovis Sangrail: “I think that was at least a disingenuous reply!”

    You expect anything different from that individual?

    NiV: “That’s how the changing tides of political fashion work.”

    And another disingenuous reply. But consistent with his assertion, some time ago, that motive does not matter.

    ‘Fashion’:- a trend or popular movement.

    Implicit in that definition, is that individuals take up the fashion of their own free will, and later discard it when they’ve grown up.

    Skateboarding, Orange hair, Libertarianism.

    Cultural Marxism by contrast seeks to coerce the individual, by for example; cancel culture, destruction of the language – to make one word mean something else ( the word woman now means bitch, something I found out courtesy of this blog). Causing people to lose their jobs for non PC views, no matter how long ago expressed nor how fleetingly held. All these coercive measures go toward enforcing the Cultural Marxist line.

    At the same time the Cultural Marxists have infiltrated every institution in particular the BBC, including the body, SAGE. Which is how the gullible Boris Johnson, a supposed Tory, was gulled into Nationalising all private businesses and all individual activity at enormous expense ( to be paid for by the very individuals inconvenienced by the measures in the first instance ), over annual flu.

    These measures of coercion, the individual NiV, calls fashion.

  • Schrodinger's Dog

    Bobby B (September 4th, 5:53pm): “Maybe people are figuring out that cancel-culture can be a two-way street?”

    Let’s hope so. Thus far the right has been absolutely pathetic on this issue, which is a bit ironic. During the Cold War, it was generally those on the right who favoured the nuclear deterrent, their logic being, “Nuke us and we’ll nuke you back.” It’s way past time for some pushback. This clip from the 1987 film The Untouchables sums it up quite nicely. In it an elderly Irish-American cop, played by Sean Connery, explains to Elliott Ness how things really get done in Chicago.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “OK, I give up. You are responding in bad faith without dealing with what I’m saying.”

    That’s because you’re not saying anything. Other than “You’re wrong, for Reasons.”

    You say “Also you’re wrong-Critical Theory is more than that…” but you don’t say in what way, which makes it impossible for me to tell what you’re talking about, to see where we’re differing, or to reply to it.

    I’m not entirely sure what we’re disagreeing about, anyway. I agree about there being an authoritarian culture enforcing a new set of norms on society that inherits a lot of its beliefs from Marxism, I just don’t consider ‘Frankfurt School’ to be a historically accurate term for it. Why do you care what we call it? I certainly don’t.

    “Implicit in that definition, is that individuals take up the fashion of their own free will, and later discard it when they’ve grown up.”

    There’s nothing in the definition that implies that, because you’re talking about two different groups of people. You have the people doing the enforcing, who are voluntarily following the fashion in norms to enforce, and you have the people who the norms are being imposed upon.

    There are always people who are “out of fashion”, who don’t get asked.

    This business with the Co-op and transphobia is just another case of changing cultural fashions. The fashion used to be to impose extensive arbitrary sex-based rules and roles on people, and to stamp on people who broke them. The fashion now is to impose different rules around permitted sex roles, and to stamp on anyone who breaks the new rules. ‘Transphobia’ was the old fashion, and never required the transgender to volunteer for it of their own free will. ‘Transphobiaphobia’ is the new one, which is just the same, but with a different target. Racism was the old fashion, and didn’t seek the agreement of black people. Anti-racism is the new one, and doesn’t seek or require the permission of the racists. People don’t change.

    The Marxists didn’t invent this. It’s a story as old as history.

  • … ‘Cultural Bolshevism’ … Far-right antisemites certainly .. but many non-antisemites use the term too. …

    The ‘In Defense of Looting’ BLMer says it is especially good to loot Jews because Jews are the face of Capital. She seems a more obvious spreader of something you could call Cultural Bolshevism if you wanted to, though more modern terms (Critical Race Theory, Frankfurt school, etc.) are arguably more accurate and certainly more useful.

    🙂 (also 🙁 and 😡 )

  • I have always had a soft spot for the Cooperative movement, which I think included mutual organisations and partnership businesses. I also would include sports clubs and other entities set up by involved groups. It seemed to me to be a feasible alternative to the entrepreneurial or state based enterprises of now. (David Roberts, September 5, 2020 at 10:48 am)

    A cooperative in general (distinct from the specific UK organisations with that word in the name) is as legitimate a form of free enterprise as any shareholder venture. Free enterprise is free – free to try alternatives and new things. That co-ops have been around for over two centuries, yet show no sign of displacing more stereotypically-capitalist enterprises as the dominant form, is information. The very fact that they tend to be more popular yet remain rare and/or minor is informative. They must have some innately disadvantaging tendency that in most (not all) situations offsets their popularity. But many an individual co-op does not go down The Co-operative Bank route, but survives and thrives – and good luck to it.

    In the context of this particular post, the greater vulnerability of the specific UK Co-op organisation (because of its history) to being taken over by Labour politicos is one very obvious source of disadvantage.

  • APL

    NiV: “There’s nothing in the definition that implies that ..”

    Popular, does not just imply a lot of people adopt a ‘thing’. It implies they do it because they choose to. Not because they are being coerced to adopt that thing.

    NiV: “You have the people doing the enforcing, who are voluntarily following the fashion in norms to enforce,”

    They are not ‘following a fashion’. They adhere to an (unpopular) ideology and seek to enforce the doctrine on others. Marxism of any stripe is not ‘Popular’. The Marxists themselves realised that thirty years ago.

    Marxism is a minority predilection. Its goal, and the goal of the minority of people who endorse it is to impose its strictures on the majority. Demonstrated by the fact that the Marxist operates by infiltration of existing institutions.

    NiV: “and you have the people who the norms are being imposed upon.”

    Yes, the majority, who when given the choice wouldn’t vote for an overtly Marxist party, reject the Labour party if it’s considered to have moved too far to the ‘Left’.

    That is why the Marxists operate the way they do. Their politics and policies are generally unpopular.

    Your insistence on using the word ‘fashion’ to describe an imposed doctrine, marks you, in this context as an apologist for Marxism – but that’s just my opinion.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “They are not ‘following a fashion’. They adhere to an (unpopular) ideology and seek to enforce the doctrine on others.”

    Dislike of and opposition to transphobia *is* popular. The extreme enforcement against it, not so much, but probably more popular than transphobia itself.

    When fashions were different, enforcement of traditional sex roles and racial segregation were just as popular. Things change.

  • APL

    NiV: “Dislike of and opposition to transphobia *is* popular. The extreme enforcement against it, not so much, but probably more popular than transphobia itself.”

    Diversion of the discussion of NiV proselytising for Marxist doctrine by introduction of an unrelated but contentious topic that it is politically incorrect, and could lead to being cancelled or losing one’s livelihood, to disagree about. Clever.

    But right out of the Marxist activists playbook.

    NiV: “Things change.”

    Yes, if things are forced to change.

  • Clovis and APL (understandably) find Nullius’ argumentation ‘disingenuous’. I find some confusions in it which may be of interest to explicate (at least for others, whatever the benefit to Nullius).

    Culture works more like a market. Nobody is ‘in control’ of it. (Nullius in Verba, September 5, 2020 at 11:12 am)

    John Stuart Mill, in a very 19th-century-philosopher way, pulls apart the confusions in this statement while he is discussing the economic market.

    – In one paragraph, Mill explains in detail that political power can separate the reward of wealth greatly from those who create it, and could separate it totally. He explicitly repudiates the casual assertions of some contemporaries that this ‘cannot’ be done.

    – In the next paragraph, Mill explains in similar detail that this state power has no ability whatever to repeal economic laws, and so cannot prevent such separation (that it can impose) from having its effect on how much (less) wealth is produced.

    This Victorian pull-out-all-the-threads-and-discuss-them-individually style of philosophising has its value. At a time when Stalin’s collectivisation of agriculture was far beyond the examples available to Mill, he predicts that Stalin could indeed put himself, not the farmer, in total control of the crop – but could not prevent the massive shrinkage of that crop.

    (This Victorian philosophical style can also be seen e.g. in Clausewitz. By pulling the situational constraint that defence is the stronger form of war – something that would have seemed as universal as the law of gravity to his contemporaries – out of his analysis of war’s motivation, Clausewitz predicts the use-it-or-lose-it thinking of nuclear war.)

    The same is true in the cultural market, which is why Nullius saying ‘culture is a market’ is at once correct and absurdly irrelevant to the debate. Critical Race Theory can separate word from meaning as socialism separates wealth from creator – it can make it ‘racist’ to say all lives matter, ‘racist’ to ask that the content of your character be how you are judged, ‘racist’ even to require that 2 plus 2 make 4 – but culture remains a market in the sense that Critical Race Theory cannot prevent all this having consequences, just as communism, though it abolished markets, could not abolish the consequences of market forces.

    One effect of such confusion is that Critical Theory’s claim that all is power, all is narrative, gets an ‘in the mirror’ echo in Nullius-like claims that all is cultural evolution. Such claims resemble the way Weimar Germany’s hate-speech laws made it easier for chancellor Hitler to present as if he were just changing their focus, not making a sea change.

    As regards Nullius’ attempt to equate the enforcing of woke dogma with ‘religion’ (Nullius in Verba, September 5, 2020 at 12:25 pm), there is no need to turn to C.S.Lewis and other eloquent defenders of Christianity against that claim (though one can of course). Orwell and Camus are only two among many who, not Christians themselves, explain why modern totalitarian thought threatens free thought as the religion of the west never did.

    At this point, a comparison with religious obscurantism is not even fair.

    wrote Camus in ‘The Rebel’, noting, among other things, what we would now call the rapid enforced movement of the Overton window. Orwell’s explanations of why literature was far more threatened by totalitarian 2+2=5 than it ever was by the index expurgatorius are known to those who read his essays, and inform ‘1984’. Cancel culture is not as frightening as Stalin’s gulag, thank God – but it wants to be.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Diversion of the discussion of NiV proselytising for Marxist doctrine by introduction of an unrelated but contentious topic that it is politically incorrect, and could lead to being cancelled or losing one’s livelihood, to disagree about. Clever.”

    The topic was introduced in the headpost. That’s what we’re talking about.

    Andrew Neil, in response to Co-op indicating they would refuse to advertise in The Spectator due to the publication’s “transphobia

    If you’re arguing now that opposition to transphobia has nothing to do with the Marxists, then case proven, I think!

    I remember the time when being exposed as gay or transgender could “lead to being cancelled or losing one’s livelihood”. (Or being tortured to death, as with Billy Clegg-Hill.) Same difference.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “John Stuart Mill, in a very 19th-century-philosopher way, pulls apart the confusions in this statement while he is discussing the economic market.”

    I don’t disagree with Mill, and I don’t think Mill is disagreeing with me. I’m not talking about actual economic markets, I making an analogy.

    “Society can and does execute its own mandates: and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with which it ought not to meddle, it practises a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself.”

    Mill was saying the same thing as I am 160 years ago.

    “Orwell’s explanations of why literature was far more threatened by totalitarian 2+2=5 than it ever was by the index expurgatorius are known to those who read his essays, and inform ‘1984’.”

    The religious version was 3=1, I think! 🙂

    “The offence of blasphemy was originally part of canon law. In 1378, at the command of Pope Gregory XI, persecution of John Wycliffe and the Lollards was undertaken. However, the only punishment available to the bishops at the time was excommunication. The clergy, dissatisfied with this, forged an Act of parliament, without the assent of the Lords or Commons, enabling the arrest and imprisonment of heretics. In the following year an attempt was made by Parliament to repeal the Act, which prompted a series of prosecutions, and the repeal failed. Not satisfied with their new powers, further were sought and granted under King Henry IV in 1400. These new powers allowed the bishops to arrest and imprison all preachers of heresy, all schoolmasters infected with heresy, and all owners and writers of heretical books. On refusal to abjure (solemnly renounce) or relapse after abjuration, the heretic could be handed over to civil officers, to be taken to a high place before the people and there be burnt, so that their punishment might strike fear in the hearts and minds of others.”

    Blasphemy laws were finally repealed in the UK in 2008.

  • David Roberts

    Niall, as you say the idea has some popularity, but if anything it appears to be in decline. At present the reasons for the decline are only questions and conjectures. I wonder why this aspect of humanity, which I view as a built in, is so little investigated.

  • APL

    NiV: “The topic was introduced in the headpost. That’s what we’re talking about.”

    Have I been able to identify any other commentator besides you, on this thread who thinks ‘transphobia’ is the topic, to they extent they’ve used the word in a comment? There are two, and I don’t think it was THE topic.

    Everyone else seems to be discussing the corrosive effect of Marxist doctrine, cancel culture, Marxist theory, or economic measures to enforce one’s opinion, viz the Coop’s unsuccessful attempt to coerce the Spectator by depriving the Speccie of its advertising spend.

    Here it may be worth noting that in six or more years of subscribing to the Spectator, and years prior to that reading my father’s copies second hand, I never once noticed a CoOp advert. Now, I haven’t subscribed to the Spectator in twenty years. Nor do I pay that much attention to advertisements – at least not consciously. So it’s quite possible the pages were stuffed full of CoOp ads for children’s socks or some such merchandise.

    Thus I can’t in fact credit Andrew Neil with any bold commercial decision. The Spectator can hardly be dependent on CoOp advertising. If it is, it’s in a worse way than I thought.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Everyone else seems to be discussing the corrosive effect of Marxist doctrine, cancel culture, Marxist theory, or economic measures to enforce one’s opinion, viz the Coop’s unsuccessful attempt to coerce the Spectator by depriving the Speccie of its advertising spend.”

    Yeah. Me too!

    There’s its use as the example in the headpost, Paul made one comment using it as an example, saying “transphobic” was from the Marxist school, and I made one, when I used the same example to illustrate changing cultural fashions. I got challenged on the popularity of the beliefs being enforced, and I pointed out it was quite popular. And then I got told off for introducing an ‘unrelated’ topic that has nothing to do with the discussion!

    Mostly I was following the side-thread of whether ‘Frankfurt School’ was inherently antisemitic, where I argued that it wasn’t. In the process, I discussed the likely historical source of the claim, which was where the argument started. I agree about the Marxism, I just apply the principle more broadly to other instances of authoritarianism. The Marxists are just following the pattern, they didn’t invent it.

    As for the actions of the Co-op, it’s their choice who they spend their advertising money with, just as it’s our choice where we shop. We can boycott the Co-op but the Co-op can’t boycott the Spectator? We can deal out economic damage because someone issued a Tweet we didn’t like, or made a decision we didn’t like on how to spend their own money, but they can’t? Seriously?

    That’s not ‘coercion’ in the libertarian sense, and advertising money doesn’t ‘belong’ to the Spectator unless and until people decide to give it to them.

    I think it’s jolly good that lots of people declared their intention to boycott the Co-op, and that resulted in the Co-op changing their minds! People are free to choose, and this time they chose to support free speech. But freedom necessarily implies our enemies having all the same freedoms.

  • lucklucky

    Culture works more like a market. Nobody is ‘in control’ of it. (Nullius in Verba, September 5, 2020 at 11:12 am)

    Of course they are, specially when low level violence changes the playing field. Would anyone make low level violence and threats against Extinction Rebellion?
    Marxist control most of government and force people they hate to pay for it.

    “Mostly I was following the side-thread of whether ‘Frankfurt School’ was inherently antisemitic, where I argued that it wasn’t. “

    Of course it is, it is also anti black, anti trans, anti gay, anti etc etc as long as members of those communities are perceived to not behave as permanent victims to be exploited by Marxists. A Marxist can be a racist and an anti racist, for them it is irrelevant, it is utilitarian. When the “anti racist” The Guardian perceived that Indians voted in sizable numbers in Conservative Party they made an hit piece on them.

    The only thing that matters to a Marxist is power over other people, Totalitarian. By definition Marxist Totalitarianism is anti-semitic. Because being a Jew reading the Torah it means that Marxists have less power.

    Karl Marx the literal National Socialist made it clear that Jews need to stop being Jewish to be able to be members of the Nation of Socialism.

  • Snorri Godhi

    There is much to discuss in this thread, but i think it most profitable to discuss a single paragraph from NiV.

    moaning about the ruling class elite of the Frankfurt School subverting and controlling society is itself an application of ‘Critical Theory’. Any discussion of the propaganda of the ‘Ruling Class’, or ‘The Establishment’, or the ‘Metropolitan Elite’/’Bourgeoisie’, and how ordinary people are enslaved by society’s cultural expectations to their benefit and our detriment – that’s ‘Critical Theory’.

    At first reading, i found myself in agreement with this.

    On reflection, however, the above is exactly wrong.

    Critical Theory, as it is practiced today in American universities
    (and i could not care less about the original Frankfurt School position)
    is all about denial of the existence of a ruling class.

    The above is a deliberately provocative statement, but i can justify it.
    A ruling class is a small minority that holds most of the power of coercion and persuasion. But “critical” “theory” is all about making the majority of people feel guilty about their power of coercion and persuasion.

    More specifically, “critical” “theory” is all about making the middle class feel guilty about abuses of power, not by them but by the ruling class.

    Just as an example: Clinton, Biden, Weinstein, Epstein abuse women? That implies that ALL (middle class, white, cis-hetero) men are rapists!

  • Snorri Godhi

    This obviously supports my views about the brain-damaging effects of the modern Western diet.

    But i link to it because it also supports the claim in my comment above.

  • Clovis Sangrail

    Politics is downstream from culture.
    An ideology is not a fashion in any practical sense. An ideology interprets all significant events through its doctrine.
    To abandon an ideology is like leaving a cult (and its other adherents may behave in exactly that cultist way if you try to leave), so, unless we’re talking about flairs or mullets, the comparison is very weak.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “The above is a deliberately provocative statement, but i can justify it.”

    I like that! 🙂 And it’s an interesting point to debate.

    “A ruling class is a small minority that holds most of the power of coercion and persuasion.”

    Which one?

    There are several would-be ruling classes who fight for dominance. Each one moans about the abuses perpetrated by the others, and seeks to overthrow them.

    At the time ‘Critical Theory’ was developed, the Marxists considered the capitalists to be the small minority who had all the power of coercion and persuasion, and they were trying to figure out how to overthrow them. Indeed, they were basically trying to figure out why Marx’s predicted overthrow hadn’t already happened yet – the so-called ‘Crisis of Marxism’. Essentially, they were “moaning about the way society is run, and who has the power, and how the powerful use culture to exploit and oppress the little man, like me, and how we should fix this by giving people like me more power”. It involved a systematic examination of how cultural institutions, assumptions, traditions, etc. led to people following their rivals rather than themselves, and figuring out how to use that knowledge to grasp control of the levers of society. Machiavelli did the same. But even after they gained power in the institutions, that wasn’t enough, and they are still applying the same methods, based on the same belief that they’re the underdog, to seize control of the rest of society. They’re gaining influence, so the methods must be working, they figure, so why stop? But the whole point of ‘Critical Theory’, the assumption on which it is based, is that they’re *not* the ruling class when they *should* be. It is one of the many contradictions of the theory that they continue to believe it even when they’re in power, because their power is not *absolute*.

    In the same way that Christianity still considered themselves martyrs even after they came to rule the world, so their conception of virtue is that the more humble, the more downtrodden and oppressed and abused you are, the more you deserve to be lifted up and given precedence. In such a system, the road to power is through martyrdom – hence the game of ‘victimhood poker’. The entire concept is built around the belief that they do not rule, even when they do.

    They’re trying to make the *other* ruling class – their rivals for power – feel guilty.

    “An ideology is not a fashion in any practical sense.”

    All I meant by the term was a value system (about what is “cool” and “not cool”) that people pick up from the people around them, that sweeps across the population for a time, and then is replaced by a different one. Flares used to be the fashion, and every lad wanted a pair. Then they were not, they were hideously embarassing, and no boy would want to be caught dead in them. It was the ephemeral nature of the beliefs I was thinking about, rather than any characteristic of how they come about or are enforced. But there is some cult-like element to ordinary fashions, too. Human psychology is all of a piece.

    Some follow fashion because they believe in the merit of fashion. Many follow it because of the personal consequences to their social lives if they don’t. The one kid still wearing flares after all the other kids had moved on would be a target for cult-like bullying. You have to stay with the herd, follow the flock. There’s safety in numbers. The First Rule of the Playground is that You Must Fit In.

    How many kids have pestered their parents for the latest fad not because they think it’s smart, but mainly because they’re scared to death of being the one kid left out? It’s a Status Symbol. And it loses it’s power as a status symbol the moment it can no longer be used to divide ‘us’ from ‘them’, ‘the cool kids’ from ‘the dorks’, when everyone’s got one. And then the hunt is on for a new shibboleth.

  • Christianity still considered themselves martyrs even after they came to rule the world (Nullius in Verba, September 7, 2020 at 7:56 am)

    A thought whose grammar matches its error. 🙂

    Christians who were martyred were often sustained by thinking of themselves as (soon to be) martyrs. Christians who were not martyred thought of Christians who were martyred as martyrs. (And they thought of Christians from rival churches whom they put to death as heretics.) They did not think of their un-martyred selves as martyrs.

    I think I get what the comment was trying to say about why the PC’s (public) view of themselves denies their power and pretends their victims’ power. And there is a very very deep and distant (and different) sense in which Christianity is the context. Without two millennia of worshipping the one who was martyred permeating the background of modern society, political correctness could not have made mere unearned victimhood seem a desirable state to claim – could not so easily have claimed that being white today is privilege and being black today is victimhood, while sustaining a society where the chief victimisers of both are themselves.

    However the attempted analogy of Christian to Critical Theory doesn’t work very well. A better analogy is with Soviet Communism, whose inability to rest was described by Conquest as the inevitable result of “the grinding of the party’s ideology on reality” (‘The Great Purge’, quoted from memory).

    Another good analogy, of course, is with the asserted power of “those frightened and harassed human beings who wandered the streets of Germany’s cities for a time, wearing the yellow star, before vanishing forever.”

  • bobby b

    You can’t be a rebel if you’re in charge.

  • Rob

    God bless Andrew Neil, the last of the old school who actually believes in press freedom.

    If I’m Joe The Grocer, with my one store and twelve employees, I can watch them carefully. The Co-op can’t do that. They’re always just one rogue employee away from disaster.

    Restricting access to the corporate Twitter account is remarkably simple. You allow a few VERY carefully selected people to know the password. It seems huge companies have no idea of the reputational damage fuck ups in social media can cause. Twitter is now the de facto public face of every company, with instant results, and too many entrust it to blue-haired twenty-something weirdos.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Nullius: thank you for a well argued reply.

    There are several would-be ruling classes who fight for dominance. Each one moans about the abuses perpetrated by the others, and seeks to overthrow them.

    A point of terminology: i would say that there is only one ruling class, i.e. only one set of people who have most of the power of coercion+persuasion. (Though there is probably a Pareto distribution of power, so the boundary between ruling class and the rest of us is fuzzy.)

    There are, however, several factions within the ruling class. At least in ‘free countries’. Indeed, this is what makes us free, to some extent: checks+balances, that is to say, (non-violent) infighting within the ruling class. (In the same way, the ruling class always tries to exploit divisions within the rest of us.)

    The balance of power within the ruling class, however, is always precarious.
    The following is an empirical claim:
    It seems to me that Paul Marks exaggerates the power of ‘cultural Marxism’. At the same time, it also seems to me that, in the Anglo-sphere and Sweden (plus maybe a few other countries) cultural Marxism (not necessarily the same as the original Frankfurt School) has acquired cultural hegemony. That means that there is no longer a true balance of power — although you are still a long way from North Korea 🙂

    It is true that the balance of power in the US could, and probably will, shift dramatically as a result of Trump’s re-election.

    I myself cannot wait to see the back of cultural Marxism. Intellectually, it is arguably even more bankrupt than Hitler, Stalin, or Mao.

    Eventually, we shall need something in opposition to Trumpism, to achieve a new, healthier balance of power. But i don’t think that we need worry about that, yet.

  • bobby b

    “Eventually, we shall need something in opposition to Trumpism, to achieve a new, healthier balance of power.”

    Not sure what “Trumpism” is, unless you simply mean the man’s rather outrageous character. He is at heart a middling Democrat but with a keen enough eye for popular sentiment that he can be pulled into protectionism in some respects. (And perhaps my “but” is misplaced there.)

  • Snorri Godhi

    Not sure what “Trumpism” is, unless you simply mean the man’s rather outrageous character.

    Well, he is not as outrageous as i am. If he were to go around saying that all Democrats are insane because of the food they ate while growing up, he’d never have been elected.

    Especially if he added that Republicans, and non-voters/third-party voters, are also insane; only less so.

  • Paul Marks

    Nullius.

    You claim not to know that “Critical Theory” (as in “Critical Race Theory”) is the Frankfurt School of Marxism – not “they do it”, it-is-another-term-for-the-same-thing. Critical Theory is NOT “Critical Thinking” although the terms do sound similar – Critical Theory (and it is subsets such as Critical Race Theory, Critical Gender Theory, Queer Theory, and-so-on) is the Frankfurt School of Marxism in all its “Diversity” totalitarianism – its desire to have a boot smashing down on the faces of humanity.

    It would have taken you a few minutes (if that) to find out that the Critical Theory thinkers are the Frankfurt School of Marxism thinkers – their objective being totalitarianism, total Collectivism.

    However, you claim not to know – O.K. now you have been informed.

    It is not good that the people who go to hold high positions in the media, the government bureaucracy and Corporate business, are educated in the doctrines of the forces of evil (although often in a disguised or confused way) – it would be better if they were not.

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