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]

The Royal Opera House did not perform as expected, and nor did a woman surrounded by a mob

Sometimes I start to make a Samizdata post and then that silly business of Real Life gets in the way and the post is left to languish as a draft. And sometimes Real Life comes back months later and tells me I was right the first time: there was a story there worth talking about.

That is how I come to be posting about a Times report dating from early June on August 27th.

On June 10th 2020, the Times reported:

Royal Opera House under fire for ‘silence’ on Black Lives Matter protests

The Royal Opera House has been described as an “unrelentingly white organisation” by a senior employee who said he was “ashamed” of its silence over the death of George Floyd.

Mark Dakin, the organisation’s technical director, said it had paid “lip service to the inclusion and progression of a black and minority ethnic workforce”.

In an email which has been posted on the Royal Opera House intranet Mr Dakin said he had “only an exhausting, burning rage and desolate sadness that still nothing has changed . . . you continue to exclude us”.

He said that during the Black Lives Matter protests over the killing of Mr Floyd the Royal Opera House was “silent and chooses to not even show public solidarity”.

Mr Dakin, who joined in 2016 to run Covent Garden’s technical and production department after 20 years with the National Theatre, said that unlike other organisations the Royal Opera House had not sufficiently supported #blackouttuesday on June 2.

Mr Dakin, who grew up as an adopted child in Bristol with a white family, also claimed that the Royal Opera House had continually declined to publicly support Black History Month.

In an open letter posted on the website of Stage Sight Mr Dakin said he was “ashamed the organisation for which I work has chosen to exercise the privilege of staying publicly silent about the racist murder of the African American George Floyd, proactively choosing to ignore #blackouttuesday, as it always publicly ignores Black History Month.”

Mr Dakin’s “burning rage” at the Royal Opera House for the horrible crime of not participating in his favoured hashtag campaigns that were utterly unrelated to opera seemed almost comical in June. Less so in August.

America’s Woke Red Guards Enforcing Goodthink by Harassing D.C. Restaurants Patrons

That was from PJ Media. A little to my surprise even the Independent seemed to have cottoned on to the idea that a mob surrounding a random woman and berating her for not making a gesture of solidarity at their demand might be a bad look. Interestingly the woman in the pink top, Lauren B. Victor, is herself a supporter of BLM but was commendably resistant to being coerced.

Edit: The story about the harassment of the diners has been reported worldwide.

Une foule agressive de manifestants BLM accostent des convives blancs à l’extérieur des restaurants de DC

Los huéspedes del restaurante estaban rodeados de manifestantes enojados de Black Lives Matter: “Un regalo para Trump”

„Heb deine Faust!“ – US-Aktivisten bedrängen Restaurantbesucherin

At the time of writing neither the BBC nor the Guardian had any mention of it.

Another edit: The Guardian is not merely declining to mention the Lauren Victor story, it is actively deleting mention of it by readers in comments to this opinion piece on the US election by Nathan Robinson. I assure you that my own two comments were polite and relevant but they were instantly deleted. I think I saw a couple of comments from other readers mentioning unsavoury behaviour by BLM supporters that, like my two, have now disappeared.

An architect is struck off

I originally read this story about the striking off of the architect Peter Kellow by the Architects Registration Board (ARB) on page 19 of my paper copy of today’s Times. The headline reads “Architect struck off for Jewish ‘cult’ claim”. However an online search of the Times website yields no such story, and no mention of Peter Kellow. Strange. Fortunately, and embarrassingly for both papers, the Daily Mail version is almost word for word the same:

Award winning architect is struck off after he claimed Judaism is a ‘cult’ and called for ‘restraints’ to be placed on Jews who should be banned from holding public office

An award-winning architect has been struck off for claiming Judaism is not a race but a ‘cult’.

Cambridge-educated Peter Kellow called for ‘restraints’ to be placed on Jewish people including banning them from holding influential public office.

In a public Facebook post, he said there was ‘no such thing as the Jewish race’ and accused them of creating ‘resentment and suspicion’.

As a result of his behaviour, he was hauled before a disciplinary panel, found guilty of misconduct and kicked out of the profession after 47 years.

The Architects Registration Board hearing was told that Mr Kellow made the comments in April 2019, as then-Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn faced accusations of anti-Semitism.

He wrote: ‘There is no such thing as the Jewish race. This is one of the many stunts that Judaists have pulled on non-Judaists who have swallowed it whole. There is only the religion/cult of Judaism.

‘There is no doubt that Judaists have suffered from unfair and cruel treatment at many times in history but this was never racially motivated until the late nineteenth century and bloomed in the ideology of Adolf Hitler.

‘It is not far from the truth to say the Judaists were the inventors of European racism for they asserted they were racially different to the rest of us. Judaists have got themselves into a lot of trouble throughout history being subject to pogroms, ghettos and expulsions.

‘I am not saying this was justified, but why do we see this consistent pattern?

‘The problem people have and always have had with Judaism is not about race.. It is because Judaism is a cult.

‘What do I mean by a cult? A cult is a set of people, normally unified by a religion or quasi-religion, who try to create a society within the general society.

Mr Kellow also included freemasonry and Sunni Islam in his definition of cults.

He wrote: ‘Cults work against the interest of the general society as its members, in subscribing to a society within the society favour each other over the rest of us.

‘This naturally creates resentment and suspicion. How can you trust such people?’

‘How should society deal with people who through their cult activity weaken the bonds that the society needs to function well? We must put restraints on their ability to create a society within a society.’

Mr Kellow suggested creating a public register of Jewish people, banning them from public office ‘where they could discriminate’ between Jews and non-Jews and ban from being judges.

He also suggested banning Jewish faith schools and the wearing of religious clothing other than a skull gap.

The Times version really was amazingly similar, although it did say “skull cap” rather than “skull gap”.

You can read the original wording of the offending Facebook post on this archived version of the proceedings of the ARB disciplinary panel.

He began,

This business of “anti-semiticism” [sic] in the Labour party which is held up as racism. What is it all about really?

The Mail and the Times cite the most important points, but I thought it was worthwhile to quote Mr Kellow’s recommended policy towards what he calls “Judaists” and to believers in other religions that he deems to be cults:

First of all there is no question of banning them. I believe in freedom for the individual as a fundamental ideal and so if someone wishes to belong to a cult like Judaism or Freemasonry they must be free to do [sic]. But we must put restraints on their ability to create a society within a society. The main ones should be as follows

1. Registration of the cult in a public register
2. Registration of all adult members in a public register
3. No cult member can hold an important public office where they are in a position to descriminate [sic] between cult members and non-cult members. For instance it is totally unacceptable lo [sic] have a Freemason or Judaist as a judge as their decisions will very like [sic] work in favour of fellow cult members. Their strong bond in their society within the society will ensure this
4. Whereas adults are free to choose to belong to a cult, the same cannot reply [sic] to their children. The assumption that the children of cult members will be “born into” the cult is not acceptable in a civilised society. To this end, no cult can run its own “faith” schools
5. It must be against the law to wear cult clothing in public – except something worn on the top of the head like a hat [eg Sikh turbans or Judaist skull caps]. However, penalties will only be applied when a separate law [such as a driving evidence [sic] or bank robbery] is violated.

It is clear that Mr Kellow adheres to most of the usual tenets of twenty-first century Corbynite anti-semitism, given the customary veneer of progressive respectability by being anti several other religions as well – though he would have done better on that score to include Christianity in the list of “cults” to be restricted by law. To advocate that faith schools be banned is now fairly mainstream in left wing circles, and not only among them. The way he presented laws against Jews holding public office as being an anti-discrimination measure was clever. He only really slipped up by advocating that a register of Jews be compiled. That bright idea carried an overtone of Nazism too strong to ignore.

Peter Kellow has some nasty opinions. But should they stop him practising as an architect?

Samizdata quote of the day

As George Monbiot is pointing out, but cannot bring himself to say, the government is not your environmental friend.

Tim Worstall

There should be no law to forbid people parading in paramilitary uniforms

“BRIXTON’S POLICE SURRENDERED THE STREETS TO BLACK-SHIRTED PARAMILITARIES”, writes Guido Fawkes.

The Black Lives Matter paramilitary-style march in Brixton has had a lot of coverage, including videos of protestors yelling at police and calling them “terrorists”. Only three arrests were made despite the widespread “threatening, abusive or insulting” behaviour being clear public order offences…

That tiny arrest number is even more surprising when taking into account photos of dozens of men wearing matching para-military outfits with face coverings and branded stab vests reading “FF Force” (Forever Family).

In 1936, a new public order act was introduced to counter the rise of Oswald Mosley’s fascist Black Shirts, banning political uniforms

Guido goes on to quote chapter and verse from the 1936 law, and asks, as many are asking, why it was not enforced.

I would like to step back a moment. “Forever Family” do come across as sinister. I think their resemblance to Mosley’s Fascists should be pointed out often and loudly. But wearing an anti-stab vest is not the same as stabbing someone. Who did they hurt by marching in columns? They looked threatening in a general way, but who specifically did they threaten? Let them march. Let them disfigure the London scene wearing whatever outfits they like. Let them discredit their cause and discredit the media’s whitewashing of it. I will go further and say that Mosley’s followers should have been allowed to march in uniform as well. Not to riot, not to beat people up, just to swank around in pretendy uniforms and look like the silly asses they were.

OK, that ship has sailed. This law has been on the books for more than eighty years. I am conscious that when I ask whether one should support the equal application of a bad law I am merely repeating the question Niall Kilmartin asked more eloquently in this post from last year, “The equal oppression of the laws”. Don’t blame me for copying him, blame him for asking a good question that is widely applicable.

The choir

“For centuries, the cherubic faces of choirboys in white ruffs have been part of church culture”, said the Guardian. Whenever a news report begins by saying that a tradition has endured for centuries you know that tradition is about to die. Sure enough the story which I quote tells of the ending of that aspect of historical Anglican culture in one cathedral at least:

Decision to disband Sheffield cathedral choir strikes discordant note

But is this change progressive or not? The next line of the story lets the hard pressed Guardian reader know what attitude to take:

Choristers usually came from privileged backgrounds, were coached by expert music masters at fee-paying schools attached to cathedrals and churches, and performed exquisite choral music, often in Latin.

Some of that has changed. The first girls were admitted, at Salisbury cathedral, almost 30 years ago and choirs have become more diverse.

Now Sheffield cathedral is going a step further, disbanding its choir in order to make a “completely fresh start” with a new team of choristers that reflects and engages with a changing city.

The cathedral would pursue “a new model for Anglican choral life here, with a renewed ambition for engagement and inclusion”, said a statement on its website.

The population of Sheffield and the surrounding area was growing, getting younger and becoming more diverse. In recent years, the cathedral had welcomed refugees and supported people living on the streets, Bradley said.

“We need to be engaging with people who are part of this changing city. We believe strongly in equality and giving as many children as possible the opportunity to sing at the highest level.”

The appeal of church music was wide but was sometimes “presented in a way that can be seen as elitist”, Bradley said.

That was in late July. Since then this apparently obscure local story about the disbandment of one cathedral choir has been widely reported. These are just a few of many examples:

  • Why is Sheffield Cathedral’s choir being disbanded for ‘inclusivity’? – the Spectator
  • Sheffield Cathedral Choir disbanded in “complete fresh start” for music and diversity – the website of the radio station Classic FM
  • Dean defends disbanding of Sheffield Cathedral ChoirChurch Times
  • Sheffield Cathedral closes choir and looks for new one to reflect urban diversity – the Times
  • Diversity is no reason to scrap Sheffield’s cathedral choir – the Telegraph

    As some of those titles indicate, the decision to close down the Sheffield cathedral choir has angered people who have not been to church for years and would not normally much care for church music. Why has it resonated so widely? I think I know why, and the knowledge depresses me. Until a few months ago I would have said that the UK had done relatively well in promoting an inclusive, non-racial sense of patriotism in which immigrants were seen as “joining the team” and adding their culture to the indigenous culture rather than displacing it. The maiden speech of Kemi Badenoch, my MP, expressed this idea well. “I chose to make the United Kingdom my home”, she says, and speaks of the British Dream: “It is a land where a girl from Nigeria can move here aged sixteen, be accepted as British, and have the great honour of representing Saffron Walden”.

    But that ideal of inclusive patriotism is being eroded by decisions like this one. It is scarcely surprising that white British people begin to see diversity as a threat to their culture when they are told that a part of their culture that has gone on for centuries is to be abolished in the name of diversity.

  • How not to oppose the Scottish hate crime bill

    The Courier‘s Jenny Hjul is on the right side. She knows the Hate Crime Bill (Scotland) needs to be opposed:

    JENNY HJUL: SNP’s hated hate crime bill would outlaw all controversial debate… it has to be stopped

    The SNP’s Hate Crime Bill seems to have created a rare consensus in Scotland, with just about everybody agreeing that it is at best naïve and at worst plain dangerous.

    She leads with the point of principle:

    The Justice Minister, Humza Yousaf, said the Scottish Government was aiming for zero tolerance of hate crime, which is increasing in Scotland. The problem with his new law, however, is that in trying to make bad people nicer it will also potentially make good people villains.

    She deftly follows up with the practical point that the proposed Scottish bill is wider in scope than the equivalent law in England and Wales:

    If passed, the bill will criminalise those judged to have spoken abusively or offensively, and could imprison them for up to seven years. It goes further than similar laws in England and Wales, where intent has to be established for a person to be criminalised for their behaviour.

    Later in the article Ms Hjul points out that Nicola Sturgeon’s proposed new law is opposed by experts, including those who might be expected to have some personal sympathy with her:

    Alistair Bonnington, former honorary professor of law at Glasgow University – and Nicola Sturgeon’s one-time lecturer – slammed the legislation as “daft” as well as naïve.

    “This is yet another example of the SNP’s failure to understand fundamental principles of Scots law,” he said this week, referencing other instances of “stupidity”, such as the Named Persons legislation and the “outstandingly idiotic” law forbidding sectarian singing at football matches, which was later rescinded.

    “Fundamental human rights freedoms, such as free speech, are not understood or respected by the Scottish government,” he said.

    Finally Ms Hjul correctly observes that the bill is so hated that even sworn enemies have come together to denounce it, and furthermore that the police, often suspiciously keen on the sort of policing that can be done in comfort via a screen, do not fancy enforcing this one at all:

    Among those who agree with him are the Law Society of Scotland, the Catholic Church – which fears the bill would criminalise possession of the Bible, the National Secular Society, and the Scottish Police Federation, which warned that the legislation would see officers policing speech.

    But Ms Hjul undoes much of the good work she has done by the following ill-judged foray:

    Perhaps the SNP’s Hate Crime Bill might have achieved more support if it had sought to target a specific Scottish problem: the spreaders of hate in its own movement, for example.

    If it could stifle once and for all the most toxic elements of Scottish nationalism and make stirring up hatred of unionists a crime, it might not be a complete waste of time. But that is a political perspective.

    I have no doubt she did not literally mean that the Hate Crimes Bill would be acceptable if only it also targeted hate among Scottish Nationalists. It was probably meant as an exasperated joke. The trouble is that those two sentences turn off those she most needs to convince: people who usually support the Scottish National Party but are troubled by this and other authoritarian measures the SNP have put forward. It is this group who Sturgeon’s government are most likely to listen to.

    The UK’s financial services sector is not capitalism

    For a variety of reasons, the sector that is sometimes dubbed “The City” (or for that matter, “Wall Street”) has not much connection to capitalism these days. Sure, financial institutions still channel money to borrowers who may include businesses that are investing it in some way. But given how central banks act as lenders of last resort, print money without limit, it seems, and interfere with the capital buffers and dealings with firms to the extent they do, this hardly counts as a free market. Obtaining a banking licence, for example, is not straightforward. The way that central banks and regulators can prop up established institutions, and interfere with their internal workings, is a clear case of the “mixed economy” at best. (Here is a good book on the subject and why claims that problems in financial markets were down to de-regulation are unfounded.)

    The latest example of how financial services are increasingly being absorbed into the maw of the State comes from the Financial Conduct Authority. Its new boss wants to block appointments of directors at firms if they are too white or male. Unless a firm names sufficient numbers of women and members of ethnic minorities to sit on boards, the appointees currently in play might be blocked. Whether the persons being blocked are more competent or experienced will be secondary to their gender or colour if the choice comes right down the wire. (No-one wants to admit that this is what will happen.)

    It is true that a preponderance of people of Group A or B can occupy certain roles and that this is not necessarily anything about bias as such. There are feedback/network effects when it comes to people being selected as directors or some other role. A knows B, who has been chummy with C, and C recommends D for a directorship at Filthy Lucre & Sons, and so it goes, and while there are still interviews and qualifications to think about, it is easy to see how a lot of people who go for certain jobs come from the same sort of pool. We see this in politics, even sport. (A schoolteacher might seek out black kids because he or she assumes they are great at athletics, and so over time a disproportionate number of black students are track and field athletes, etc).

    And even when people try hard as possible to make their choices of talent more diverse, it is not always easy to do if the pipeline of talent is not there. Firms need to have directors, etc – so if there is a talent shortage created by a pro-diversity policy that could hamper corporate governance and add yet another competitive disadvantage. It is actually time-consuming and potentially costly to find certain talent – which is why City firms pay retainer fees to headhunter firms to find people (I know a bit about how this market works). Believe me, firms are desperate to recruit a more “diverse” management base – but they also have to locate the best they can find. And if the judgement call is about who is going to make the business better, that judgement should rest with the people who own the firm, not some civil servant ticking off some sort of virtue box.

    Another point: when talking of “diversity”, such comments from the likes of the FCA invariably focus on gender and race. But rarely do you hear about diversity of experience, philosophy and background. Arguably what the City and other clusters of business need is to avoid group-think and stifling consensus. Imagine hiring a director who is a genuine liberal, who thinks that a lot of modern “corporate social responsibility” policy is a waste of time and so much fashionable cant? That firms’ primary duty is to build shareholder value, rather than push some sort of agenda? Ask yourselves how much chance this person might have of getting a seat on a board if his or her views are widely known? I don’t actually have to ask because you know the answer.

    It might have escaped the notice of the FCA and other policymakers, but the UK and the rest of the world is trying to recover from one of the worst calamities in recent human business history – the lock-downs – and therefore adding hurdles towards recovery and rebuilding of business might not be a great idea.

    “A tiny sect of libertarian provocateurs”

    No, not us at Samizdata. While I can say with pride that I am a libertarian, with sorrow that my sect is tiny, and with one of those sorrynotsorry voices that I have been known to be a provocateur, neither I nor anyone else at Samizdata has ever reached a position where the Guardian could credibly accuse us of secretly controlling the Conservative Party. The Revolutionary Communist Party has.

    Andy Beckett’s Guardian article, “Why Boris Johnson’s Tories fell for a tiny sect of libertarian provocateurs”, is a genuinely interesting account of this strange tale of political transformation. My goodness, though, those commenters are cross.

    The progress to sanity* of former RCP/Living Marxism stalwarts such as Munira Mirza, Claire Fox, Frank Furedi, Mick Hume and Brendan O’Neill was observed at an earlier stage by Brian Micklewthwait in this post from 2003.

    *Well, most of the way to sanity. Best not to mention Serbia.

    Too late now

    Labour launches new campaign with “24 hours to save British jobs” warning, reported the website Labour List the day before yesterday.

    Samizdata quote of the day

    We can tell when it’s politics being talked about for the solution to a current problem is always whatever it was that the person wanted to do anyway. If the economy’s growing then we must reduce inequality, if the economy is shrinking then we must reduce inequality and when the Sun rises in the east we must reduce inequality.

    Tim Worstall, modestly suggesting we need to sacrifice a few more virgins to the NHS

    MacAtlas shrugs

    The well-known entrepreneur Mr Duncan Bannatyne has said – reports The Daily Telegraph – that he will never open another business in Scotland again. The Telegraph reports him thus:

    The Scottish entrepreneur said he would “never again” open a business north of the Border, adding: “I don’t know if many people would.”

    Further:

    Mr Bannatyne said his health clubs in Scotland have enough funding to stay solvent until the end of August, as they are cross-subsidised by his English gyms, but he could not provide any guarantees for September.

    His outspoken attack was echoed by the PureGym chain, which said it was “truly extraordinary” that the First Minister had “not ascribed any real priority to working with us and our sector” during the pandemic.

    The article points out that Ms Sturgeon announced her latest review of her lockdown exit plan for Scotland, which will see bingo halls, casinos and funfairs reopen on Aug 24.

    Snooker and pool halls, bowling alleys and driving lessons can also resume on that date, but indoor gyms and swimming pools were only provided with an “indicative” date of Sept 14.

    So that’s a ‘maybe’ plan for re-opening.

    Surely it isn’t a surprise to a businessman that a government doesn’t care about his enterprise? I can’t personally find a logical path to the suggestion in the article that the reason for the Scottish government’s indifference is something to do with independence:

    He said: “It’s unbelievable. There has to be another agenda. I don’t believe she has advice saying stadiums and bowling alleys are safer than gyms.”

    Asked about her “hidden agenda”, he said: “Independence is king. ‘We don’t care about anything as long as we get independence.'”

    How about it is simple disdain for business, that you find in pretty much any socialist? After all, offices are closed too:

    Business leaders also attacked her decision to push back the date of offices reopening until Sept 14 “at the earliest”, with the Scottish Chambers of Commerce (SCC) warning: “Further delays may result in permanent job losses and business closures.”

    And frankly, given the antics of the UK government giving every impression of targeting ethnic minority areas for ‘local lockdowns‘, why would you open a business in any other part of the UK either?

    Samizdata quote of the day

    One might imagine that civil liberties organisations would have something to say about the authoritarian groupthink creeping from the leftist fringes of British politics. But amidst the predictable statements in support of Black Lives Matter it seems Liberty’s central campaign is the possible infringement of rights posed by facial recognition software, rather than the real and present threat to livelihoods and liberty of those with heterodox opinions. Indeed, earlier this year Liberty, Amnesty International UK and Human Rights Watch signed a joint statement arguing that ‘dehumanising discussions and ‘debates’ lead to human rights abuses.’ One wonders how an organisation like Liberty, which claims to ‘challenge injustice, defend freedom and campaign to make sure everyone in the UK is treated fairly’ can fulfil these laudable aims without free and open debate.

    Josephine Bartosch