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Michael Gove at the NCF

(Usual caveat about this not being a verbatim transcription. Any disconnects, leaps, lacunae should be considered mine).

“Discussing the intelligentsia at the House of Commons is a bit like discussing haute cuisine at a Happy Eater”

The Conservatives are traditionally the ‘stupid party’ and views intellectuals with suspicion and at worst distaste. The suspicion of intellectuals runs deep in the British character, and Conservatism is at core pragmatic. Is intellectualism alien, and should we pay note? The American thinker Richard Weaver entitled a book ‘Ideas Have Consequences’. The intellectual struggle by economic liberals in the 1970s led directly to the reforms of the 1980s. Intellectuals in the UK are predominantly of the left or left / liberal. Thinking of the intellectuals who appear on the Today programme, Newsnight Review etc, both those discussed and those discussing are of the left – Pinter, Pilger, Greer et al. To call someone a right wing intellectual is doubly damning as it suggests ‘conscious wickedness’. In the UK we could speak of Andrew Roberts and Roger Scruton, with American right wing intellectuals – Milton Friedman and Irving Kristol still more ‘wicked’. We need to reclaim respectable intellectualism on the Right. Right wing intellectuals tend to go into business or the law after university, while Left Wing intellectuals are more likely to go into academia or the media. Whereas ‘we’ are making money rather than making influence, ‘they’ are influential as they chose that route. However, there is a long tradition of conservatism in English (creative) writing, including T.S.Eliot, Yeats, Pope, Dryden and Shakespeare. The current intelligentsia are very much of the Left – Charter 88, Nexus etc

Post 9/11 the intellectual voices raised are of the Left – Chomsky, Pilger, Pinter with their critique anti-US and anti-West, with this the dominant strand of their thoughts, and encompassing other writers like John Le Carre, Arundhati Roy and journalists including Jon Snow, Seumas Milne and those more of the Right like Jenkins, Hastings and Barnett. One gets the sense of a sneaking regard for the US’s enemies.

The reaction against that stance has come from within the left, with Nik Cohen’s item in this week’s Observer a case in point. He noted that the Left ended up supporting Saddam over Kuwait, Serbia over Albania and the London Review of Books carrying coverage of 9/11 Jewish conspiracy theories that would not be out of place in a Nazi propaganda sheet. The Left finds itself excusing overseas fascism and anti-Westernism. And it is not just Nik Cohen. Christopher Hitchens has described the opportunistic alliance between ex Stalinists and Islamists. David Aaronovitch has also denounced it, as has John Lloyd who has argued that the Left needs to fight for as well as against and that Fascism, Communism and Islamism are all strands of the same totalitarianism.

And novelists of the Left have come out too – Ian McEwan who had denounced ‘morally selective outrage’, Salman Rushdie who has written of ‘paranoid Islam’ and Martin Amis. Amis wrote that the single most depressing event in the UK last year was the spectacle of white middle class protesters holding placards with ‘We are all Hizbollah’. This moral relativism leads them ‘up the arse of those who want them dead’. All three have shown bravery as their jobs, friendships and status are reliant on keeping the faith. It is notable that reviews of Amis and McEwan novels have been more hostile of late…

Historically the Left projected its revolutionary fantasies onto the proletariat, but the proletariat proved reluctant, so the fantasies were then projected onto third world revolutionaries like Che Guevara. What the Left has failed to acknowledge is that the third world left has morphed, but it still follows the ‘logic’ that my enemy’s enemy is my friend and this ends with the idealisation of terrorism. The Prada Meinhof tendency involves making common cause with terrorists because it is blinded by hate. The six writers named see the threat to the UK, with the Danish cartoons controversy implying a freezing out of free expression in the West. Islamism is not Fanon’s ‘rage of the dispossessed’ but is attempting to close down debate. Islamists are explicitly hostile to western liberal freedoms. Paul Berman has noted the roots and consequences of Islamism.

The little reported Euston Manifesto shows its disgust at the excuses made for Islamism, and support for it has been built on blogs, not the mainstream media, or even the Left mainstream media. It has been signed by Labour MPs including Mann, Stuart and Pope. Even Gordon Brown has noted the importance of the battle with Islamism. The cultural battle has already been joined, so why are the being marginalised?

In the Middle East and Iran there are equivalents of Natan Sharansky and Jerzy Popieluszko (I failed to catch the names. C) but the Left is not raising their plights and their struggle against Islamism should be ours. The Middle East Transparent website has called for a fatwa on terrorist justifiers, which over three hundred have signed, but with no reaction from Western politicians.

The situation in the Middle East is bleak, but made still bleaker by our doing nothing.

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Anonymous Anonymous said... 2:24 pm

Thanks, Croydonian.

It baffles me to watch the left make itself an ally in its own destruction - as in the destruction of the free West. Do they think they are going to be excused because they've been "nice"? They will feel the same sword on the back of their neck, they will have to capitulate to this fascist belief system just the same as the people who did not try to befriend them. They will have to convert or pay the jizya. They will have to stand aside if a muslim wants to go through a door first. They will have to go through queues backwards as more muslims join the queue before the last muslim.

Are they honestly so deluded that they cannot see this? Salmon Rushdie knows, of course. Do not these people read? Don't they know that the goal of islam is world domination and they have been embarked on this programme for 1200 years? This means they are not kidding. They are doing allah's will. What's not to understand? Yet they seem to believe - despite the horrific evidence available for them to see every day - that islam is a soft left belief system rather than hard, hard, hard right.

How do they explain the uncondemned freelance kidnappings and beheadings? The genital mutilisation of little girls? The nightmareish oppression of women? The murder of homosexuals? The murder of rape victims - condemned for committing "adultery". Burying people in the sand up to their necks and stoning them to death for having been raped? The weird clothing the women wear so they are invisible to men? The fascist, controlling nature of Cartoon Rage? The constant chipping away at Western standards of behaviour? The mass bombings? The plans to blow 10 airliners up over American cities and kill tens of thousands?

How can they explain all this away?

We were discussing islam (I will not say "militant islam" because islam is, by definition, militant) over on Iain's yesterday and I was ridiculed, contemptuously called a racist (duh), accused of being intolerant, blah blah blah by three individuals who were very great mahatamas indeed and could "understand" the islamic point of view and could "understand" why girls wanted to wear the niqab to school. They employed great contempt and uppity anger towards me, all in the cause of self-righteous "inclusiveness" - while they calmly sold their country down the river.

I just don't get it.  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 3:42 pm

you hit it on the head in the last sentence Verity. Country. The real lefties hate our country and our society they want nothing less than its abolition.

This is why they will ally with our enemies. When they were communists they were in CND and BCP. Now that the enemy is Islam they are on their side.

Sad and pathetic people who would denigrate their own society whilst knowing nothing of that which they praise.

The parallels with 70' and 80's are amazing. But then the lef tare hardly going to learn from history are they?  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 3:52 pm

Historically the Left projected its revolutionary fantasies onto the proletariat, but the proletariat proved reluctant, so the fantasies were then projected onto third world revolutionaries

Discussion of foreign affairs is often the projection of wild ideological notions that cannot survive domestic reality. This also applies to the right to a vastly lesser degree.
I must say I do not agree that the Conservative Party is the stuipid party .It has been the intellectually vibrant party , in as much as there is one , for a long time now .

I do notice a great drift to the right ( or the centre I would say) say in jounalism and perhaps 9.11 has coalesced nascent rightist thinking on nation, market freedom and resistance to the Liberal elite  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 3:52 pm

Verity, I can offer some modest illumination from a recent first-hand encounter. I ran into a very old acquaintance of some *coughs* several years past. He was then a socialist, is now a Trot, and to my amazement is a Big Chalupa in Respect.

He is also (ad hominem comment alert) one of nature's slighter creatures and not ever likely to be the one to throw any actual punches in the violent revolutionary cause that is so dear to his heart.

However, he (and no doubt many others like him) is clearly much in awe of those who are only too ready for violent action - no doubt needs a new pair of shreddies every time a bombing is reported on the news. Respect has of course forged an alliance with the Islamists (to the disgust of several of their more working-class Socialist Alliance partners).

As you say, C, the effete left has historically projected its fantasies onto the robust working class. And then again, onto the IRA. Or indeed onto anyone actually willing to do the deeds they'd love to have the balls to do themselves.

I call this the 'transgressionist' strand in leftism - would love to be willing to wound; afraid not only to strike, but even to be in the vicinity when it happens. But cheering it on from a TV screen. Islamic violence against the west is a wet dream for them. Real blood!  

Blogger Croydonian said... 4:01 pm

Yup, and the judas goat still ends up having its throat cut.

The old school far left are disgusted by many of the machinations of the Trots/burka alliance, with this a favourite quote from Lindsey German: “[I am] in favour of defending gay rights. But I am not prepared to have it as a shibboleth....”  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 4:20 pm

That is one your "inciteful" comments Nick as well as insightful.
I must thank C for his efforts on this post.

BTW Verity has dealt magnificently with uncouth anons today , as you would expect  

Blogger Croydonian said... 4:25 pm

Where are these uncouth anons? Chez Dale?  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 4:58 pm

The Prada Meinhof tendency mmm That would be those ugly Helmut Lang sackcloth dresses and flat shoes; they've been evicted form the Group at last.  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 5:18 pm

I wondered if some of this belief about the unintellectual nature of the English right might be the writing, not the ideas.

English does not reward obfuscation; nor overt and even self-concious referencing to other writers and thinkers ideas which, if you haven't read the other sources, render the argument difficult if not meaningless. Though leftish writers tend to do it more.

Brilliant English writers never leave their reader struggling behind them but explain the concepts they're dealing with as they go along, no matter how abstruse. Michael Oakshott for instance, or J.M. Keynes (and Milton Friedman is no slouch, nor easily categorized as rightwing.)

English intellectuals don't fall readily into right/left categories either - the other Blair springs to mind; and is Yeats to be made right or left? Or Blake?

The French, now, I can never cope with the way they argue....but then I'm never sure what is the argument.  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 5:37 pm

Oui. Chez Dale.  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 6:09 pm

HG, penultimate para, these are the strands of December's Hall-of-Fame thread ...  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 6:16 pm

More alarming than the leftist collaborators is their having managed to brainwash large swathes of the population to their point of view. Viz the men who were so superior, so wordly (soi- disant) over on Dale's arguing that I am a racist, intolerant, ignorant. Not one of these men could quote anything from the koran or the hadiths, by the way, or allude to anything in them. Not one of them had lived in an islamic country. One of them jumped on me in a flurry of hissing and cat fur when I said islam is spread by the sword. He actually wrote that islam had not been spread by violence.

So the difference today is, through thought fascism, aka political correctness, the left has managed to make quite a large segment of the populatin think that black is actually white, and that it is judgemental and racist to believe otherwise.

This, I believe, and those who know better please correct me, is the first time in Britain that this situation has obtained.  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 6:27 pm

I wasn't at the meeting, but I was there in spirit.

Of course, there is some philosophical difficulty with the term 'islamism',as, I understand Michael Gove admitted. (See entry on 'Islamism' at:

Nevertheless, there is a need for political common cause against jihadism and the imposition of sharia law.

Such is the enormity of this very real threat, that the West's political groups - from a range of political sectors -must become more united in their common opposition.

Hitherto unlikely allegiances need to be forged. Neo-Cons, Labour dissidents, UKIPers, etc.,etc. need to have more dialogue on Gove's theme, and to show more priority and common purpose. There are hopeful signs.  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 6:43 pm

V - "This, I believe, and those who know better please correct me, is the first time in Britain that this situation has obtained"

This is not a new observation, but Communism presented a threat with several significant parallels. Those of us who (ahem) remember the 1960s-70s recall the fierce propagation of similar 'black-is-white' doctrine - backed by Union muscle and accommodated by sections of the Labour Party (with honourable exceptions).

At the time, it was quite menacing, both in terms of impact locally, and depth of threat internationally. It having been seen off so comprehensively, it is sometimes easy to forget what a danger it presented.  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 7:04 pm

Nick Drew - Yes, but this was without the complicity of the public at large.

The British public, in the instance of islam, has been browbeaten by fear and threat of arrest for speaking against islam/immigration (meaning immigration of islamics), with a large swathe of the population actually having become convinced that the danger comes from "radical islam" but "the vast majority" abhor violence. As in those men who wrote so scathingly about my comments on Iain's yesterday. And I didn't even write anything incendiary!

This, in the face of all the evidence to the contrary. This, in the face all of these quango muslim councils, muslim parliaments, councils of mosques, and whatever that are clearly in place to foment a sense of grievance among the immigrants. (All this to serve a mere 2.5m people, or to keep them riled up and remind them of their duty to conquer the West.)

No other group of immigrants has ever arrived with the intention of pulling apart the fabric of our nation. And no one's stopping them.

This would be laughable had not such a large number of the British public bought into it.  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 7:06 pm

They're even so dainty and fearful that they have thought up a new name for islam. islamism. This is supposed to differentiate it from "mainstream" islam. But the stated goal of islam for 1200 years has been the imposition of Dar es-Salaam on the entire planet. We don't need a new word for it.  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 7:23 pm

ND 6.09 I've just read it all, very complex and tough. I was saying something much simpler about English intellectualism's way of speaking.

I cannot understand Fundamentalism, or allying with it; why would anyone want to tie their knowledge, and interpretation of experience down to only one set of circumstances, one particular time, or one personally achieved level of understanding?

Perhaps the brain works that way. The Godless of Gower Street (of whom I think Croydonian said he was one) are making all the running on brains and how they work both in UCH and in the philosophy and linguistics departments of UCL.  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 8:01 pm

HG: didn't want to give you indigestion at supper-time!

why would anyone want to tie their knowledge, and interpretation of experience down to only one...? - oh, I think there can be several reasons (not necesarily all operating at once, tho they might be):

- the attraction of 'certainty'
- the warm feeling of inclusion (or even the exhilerating feeling of the football crowd / lynch-mob)
- fear of scorn, ridicule, rejection
- reaction to brutal punishment meted out for deviancy, in this life or the next
- fear of the Other

Additionally, though not really reasons for 'wanting' to tie ones knowledge (etc) as such

- being a simpleton
- brainwashing
- grinding poverty with no leisure-time for rumination

I might even add, there's many a scientist who seeks only 'absolute truth', and not a few philosophers. It's only a short step... (see Popper on Plato)

Obviously we need a theory that can embrace those apparently educated American fundamentalists, who have plenty of leisure-time but obviously no inclination to using it for widening their horizons. Since they are evidently capable of holding self-contradictory views (e.g. the fundamentalist oil company exec who believes the world is 4,000 years old but whose professional life revolves around the geological assumption that it is many billions old), some of the above 'drivers' must be pretty strong! (I may even have missed a few)  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 8:30 pm

Nick Drew writes: "Since they are evidently capable of holding self-contradictory views (e.g. the fundamentalist oil company exec who believes the world is 4,000 years old". Name one. Name one oil company executive who believes the world is 4,000 years old.

"Obviously we need a theory that can embrace those apparently educated American fundamentalists,".


Why do British people always try to elevate themselves at the expense of Americans,who have created the most powerful economy and give a home for the most people with the most liberty in the world? Maybe Britain should look closer to home. America doesn't have quangoes, like the Muslim Council, the Muslim Parliament (what the hell is that for anyway?) and Muslim blah blah blah. America does not allow little girls to wear veils in public schools, regarding it as a kind of child abuse.

American schoolboards are elected and responsible to the communities that elected them, not to some insane centralised government department.

Look closer to home, Nick Drew. The Americans have far fewer problems with communists (which we daintily call 'socialists')than do the British, and they have a far better system of democracy that facilitates their ability to cope with those problems.

And they have never had the intensity of the problem with the toxic left that Britain has had for a hundred years.  

Anonymous Anonymous said... 12:05 am

Nick, no offence, as I know you are an ally. But Britain is way further down the track of dhimmitude than the United States. I can see a horrible scenario where Britain would capitulate,with ceremonies reverentially broadcast on the BBC. I cannot see such a scenario in the US.

Americans are robust in their defence of the United States. The British have been cowed. It is their own fault that they have been cowed, and it is their fault that they cannot find the nerve or the fortitude to throw off this terrible mantle of thought fascism imposed on them by the controlling left.

Why cannot these appeasers see that, all over the world, the only people trying to bomb other countries back to the Dark Ages are muslims? No one else is engaged in this activity. No one else thinks of suicide belts as a fashion accessory for getting them past the bouncer into the brothel in the sky, with 72 retread virgins.

BTW, some Swedish minister or other, probably called Per, actually said in public that "we should be kind to the muslims, just as we hope they will be kind to us when they become the majority."

Their Viking ancestors are turning over in their glorious burial ships.  

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