John McDonnell, Insurrection and Communism’s Inherent Violence

Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn is portrayed as a Nice Man, and a significant feature of his leadership campaign was ‘Nicer Politics’. And yet in many appearances throughout his career in politics, and in his interviews since becoming leader, he has appeared touchy, and sometimes downright angry. Is this the mere frustration of being on the receiving end of the press, which many other politicians appear to survive with politeness and patience, or is there a deeper truth to Labour, Socialism and its end game of Communism. And why am I starting Jeremy Corbyn and not the subject of this piece, John McDonnell?

Because Jeremy Corbyn and been presented as the nice face of Labour Communism, the nice old man of Socialism. The dear old uncle that seduces the masses and the gullible young. The good cop to McDonnell’s bad cop … though you might have been deceived by John McDonnell’s transformation as Shadow Chancellor and bearer of free stuff during the 2019 election campaign. Corbyn is a front. He is a front to Labour’s Communists. Corbyn the old man Socialist is a stepping stone to the younger Communist McDonnell, who is the real future of Labour.

This makes Corbyn sound like a bit of a martyr, and maybe he is. Ideologues play the long game. It’s the long game they’ve played throughout the Cold War, when Harold Wilson’s revival of the “Reds Under The Bed” fears were dismissed as fear mongering … yet, here we are, with Communist John McDonnell as Shadow Chancellor, ready to take over from Corbyn as Prime Minister, should Labour get into number 10. The reds are thoroughly tucked up in the bed and have not only pulled the blankets off the social democrat moderate Labour MPs, but booted many of them out into the cold.

Of course we can’t read Corbyn’s mind. Is he part of the set-up of Labour’s Communism, ready to step aside for the younger men, or will he become another Trotsky, written out of history be the hard liners like McDonnell and others that will take the party forward?
This sounds so conspiratorial. And yet, the guide book for latest manifestation of Labour has been around for over a century: The Communist Manifesto.

This piece is no mere comedy meme, not cartoon of Corbyn. It takes Communism very seriously, because in many ways Marx was right. In some respects his historical analysis, even his predictions for the future, were accurate enough, as one possible model of changing society. What is horrifying about Marxism is its implementation, it’s prescriptions for the future, that others like Lenin and Moa have implemented faithfully and brutally enough.

Communism’s Inherent Brutality

Communism would be better called Conflictism. Even in the language of Marx the brutality is evident. 

When you take a closer look at Communism you will find you fall into one of two camps, depending entirely on how thoroughly you are seduced, or not, by both it’s accuracy as a description of society, and its cold hearted moralising, that can be be used to justify the many horrors we have seen in the USSR and Communist China. There are parallels with other brutal ideologies of the modern world, such as Fascism and Islamism, and all three, Communism, Fascism, Islamism differ in brutality only to the extent to which they have the power to enjoy it. None of these ideologies suggest there can be too many eggs broken in the making of their omelettes.

If you are seduced by Communism, then, like many Muslims and Fascists do for their ideologies, you will make excuses for its failures and for your ideology’s horrors. You might admit the terrors, but blame them on other reactionary forces; or you might deny the horrors and re-write history, ready to create yet another Year Zero*. Whichever way you look at it, if you are committed to it, you will not only believe the credible analysis of history, but you will submit yourself to the fantasy outcome that Communism itself accepts will never materialise, because the end game, for Communism, is an asymptotic road to diminishing returns achieved by exponentially increasing brutality. Only the dreamers think the Utopia of perfect Communism is realisable.

*Year Zero – The tendency of revolutionaries to re-invent history and define their own ideological coming to power with a new calendar. The the Khmer Rouge chose Year Zero. The French Revolution had a Year 1. Islam has its own calendar. Christianity too (B.C./A.D. became BCE and CE).

Perhaps you will study the theory and the practical attempts and come to admit the horrors and so reject Communism, but tell yourself stories about the half-way house of Socialism. A common retort I often hear to my claim that Labour is not run by Communists: “I’m not a Communist, I’m a Socialist. You don’t know the difference. Read a book!” Well, they clearly haven’t read the books of Marx. Because Socialism is one of the phases that society goes through on the way to Communism. Perhaps the hapless Socialists thinks Socialism is a suitable end game, as Social Democracy. Unfortunately their fellow party members that are Communists know it’s not, and have no intention of leaving it there. It is a matter of history now how Hitler seduced, then subdued, then crushed the people of Germany that opposed him. Communism hasn’t been so lucky in the West because the West has seen the implementations of Socialism and Communism’s early stages in the USSR and China. But, that hasn’t stopped Britain’s Communists trying to win power by controlling Labour. In what amounts to a two party system under first past the post the only way to achieve a one party system is to control one of those parties.

It is true that the Social Democratic form of Socialism is a tamer version of Stalinist Socialism, but the dividing line isn’t clear when members of one party, such as the UK Labour party, are drawn from the various factions of Socialism and Communism. In the USA McCarthyism, with its own undemocratic purges, made sure Communism didn’t get off the ground, and much of Western Europe had the Spectre of Communists to the East to scare them. In the UK this didn’t stop the Communists using democratic liberal freedoms to keep plugging away. The “Reds Under the Bed” term was revived during Harold Wilson’s premiership, and has dogged Labour since. The term is often ridiculed as exaggerated fear mongering. But, here we are.

Maybe the demise of the USSR, the slight opening up of China and its toying with capitalism has left the current younger generations with little understanding of the history and reality of Communism, being told the ‘progressive’ version in an education system dominated by left leaning illiberal progressives. We can certainly see the use of propaganda in education, especially in the USA, where old Commie professors have managed to twist the brains of gullible students more than they ever must have hoped for. For evidence of this sorry state of US education, see the case of Bret Weinstein at Evergreen, and in particular his explanation of the problem here: Bret Weinstein.

Marx’s theory explains well enough the history that resulted in the Capitalism of his time. It’s a very binary perspective that is based on “us and them”. Where does Jeremy Corbyn’s nicer politics of ‘unity’ fit in? It’s a front. See later for Moa’s ideas on unity: “One divides into two“.

Marx, in his Communist Manifesto, lists the various stages of history, through feudalism, serfs and lords, merchants, capitalists and workers.

And it’s all phrased in terms of a class struggle where only a violent revolutionary overthrow will change the system. Note that this isn’t a one-off revolution as Marx sees it, but a repeatable historical inevitability, and a future necessity, a never ending chain of violent struggles of the oppressed to overthrow their oppressors. This is not merely an observation of how things have been, but a prediction of how they will be, and a prescription of how they must be played out. This is such an absolutist part of the doctrine, requiring as much of a commitment as any religious one, that it not only predicts the future, but makes it. It asserts that this is the way it will have to be, and it demands that Communists make it so, by finding the appropriate enemy of the day, the current oppressor, and beating the crap out of them on the streets until the next phase of Communist programme is complete … and then, on to the next phase.

What Marx implies where he does not say explicitly, though it’s clear enough, is that today’s revolutionaries are tomorrows oppressors. The phrase ‘eating their own’ takes on a significant meaning under Communism that is very much like Takfir in Islam – it’s a risky business whereby if you stick your head above the barricades you’re as likely to have it shot off by one of your comrades as anyone else. In the USSR, yesterday’s heroes of the state became tomorrows occupants of the gulag or the grave, and often both in succession.

We have Capitalism as the current enemy. The Capitalist owns the means of production (machinery, factory, land) privately (personally, or through shares), and as such he is the one that takes the excess, the profit, from the business. No matter how much workers contribute, the Capitalist profits while the workers receive a meagre wage. Yes, now we have share options in some companies, and entrepreneurs can start small business where sometimes they are sole employees. But on the whole, the Capitalist system that Marx observed is still intact. Other ameliorating trends, like imposing regulation on companies to treat employees well, to provide a minimum wage, and to protect them and the public from the greed of the Capitalist, have made the current system more acceptable to some striations of people in a business, but many labouring and low skilled workers are still poorly paid compared to the profits of the company from which the capitalist accrues his personal wealth.

The criticisms are legitimate. It’s the Communist solution and the Communist methods I have a problem with. But Marx was pretty good with his predictions. His millionaries became today’s billionaire villains of Corbyn’s tax targeting (Labour has millionaires, so he can’t attack them the way Marx did). Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, … massive corporations, all pretty much predicted by Marx. No wonder it’s easy to buy into the killing if Marx’s theories are so spot on. What’s next in Marx’s theory, after Capitalism?

Socialism is next. The proletariat must rise up, overthrow the Capitalists and take control of the means of production – i.e. state ownership. Socialism requires that the ownership of the means of production should be collective and democratic, rather than being owned by individuals that are differentiated from the employees by that ownership and power. However, Socialism is temporary. Marx said so, and so, it must be.

“Between capitalist and communist society there lies the period of revolutionary transformation of the one to the other. Corresponding to this is also a political transition period in which the state can be nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat.”

Karl Marx

Here, the working class rules over the capitalist class, as a collective dictatorship. This was Marx’s vision of society before Communism could be achieved. This is why Socialism is temporary to Communists, and all you Social Democrats, you are just pawns in the Communist vision. Soon enough, they will come for you. That saying you often hear about the appeasement of extremists comes from Martin Niemöller. He wrote it in 1946 about the cowardice of Germans that didn’t resist the Fascists early enough because the Fascists were busy arresting others:

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out, because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out, because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Martin Niemöller

Just in case you think this only applies to Fascism and not Communism, let me add another line, which has meaning in the context of current China:

Then they came for the Muslims, and I did not speak out, because I was not a Muslim.

We can also add lines that make it applicable to Islamic states:

Then they came for the Christian, and I did not speak out, because I was not a Christian.

Then they came for the ex-Muslims, and I did not speak out, because I was not a ex-Muslim.

It applies to any ideology that is prepared to use force to attain its goals.

So, socialist democrats of Britain, be warned. Labour isn’t what you think it is. 

The Communists (and Islamists) will come for Jews. Oh, they already are doing: Labour refuse to deal with antisemitism within the party, whether from Muslims or non-Muslims. And, when Muslim votes are no longer needed, even Muslims – the conflict between Islamic homophobia and inclusive education in Birmingham schools is a warning.

Labour supporters are also conflicted over China. For example, there’s an acknowledgement of this problem by Peter Tatchell – long time campaigner for gay rights, supporter of Labour. At the time of writing he has been criticising China for its persecution of Muslims, while at the same time wanting to celebrate the anniversary of Moa’s Communist Revolution. It’s a tricky sell. How does he do it? He declares that current China, with its recent to dipping into small business capitalism, is ‘state capitalism’ and therefore not true Communism. It’s a clever rhetorical move by Peter, until you realise that this ‘state capitalism’ is also part of Marx’s predictions, which means, according to Communism, the Muslims need ‘re-education’. Not such a smart move after all, Peter, to point out that China’s current persecution of Muslims is part of the plan. UK’s Labour Communists still find the Muslim vote useful.

True Socialism is the dictatorship of the proletariat (that’s by the proletariat). And the point here is that according to Marx the purpose of the state is to oppress one class with another. Under Socialism the proletariat, through the state, oppress the capitalists. This is merely a reversal of the recent oppression by capitalists of the workers.

The final (yet never ending) phase is Communism is the end game. Socialists achieve victory through global Socialists societies, until Capitalism can not get a foothold. Note that this is part of the continuous struggle, because Marx’s understanding and theory includes the probability that not everyone will agree with this movement to Socialism and then Communism, that some people will still want other systems. And such reactionaries must be oppressed and crushed, because oppression is an essential part of the dogma. This theme recurs in Moaism.

The end game is that there will no longer be a class based society – there will be no class. The state will no longer be needed other than for pure administrative functions, and it will eventually fade away. 

The next step is the phasing out of money. In a phase called ‘post scarcity’ (a naive idea that there will always bee more than enough food goods produced by a technological productive society) products will be plentiful and everyone can have what the need and want. Yes, really, this is part of the dogma. With an over abundance of cars you don’t need to buy one. If you need one, or yours needs replacing, you can simply ask for another and it shall be given. The idea behind this is a ‘gift economy’, where technology boost production to such levels that there will always be enough produced.

You might wonder a few things at this point. What about the ecosystem and our green credentials? Who decides that my third car wreck this month is a little wasteful so I can’t have one until next month? I mean, there should be no need for quotas from a production point of view, if there’s an abundance. See CPG Grey video  Humans Need Not Apply

Of course you could achieve a state of ‘post scarcity’ if you oppressed the masses to prevent them having too many children. It’s no coincidence that a one party state with central planning would decide to control so many aspects of a person’s life that it amounts to oppression.

I’m not sure why Communism and its bloody revolutions at each stage is necessary, except that Conflictism seems to incite moral cruelty in Socialists and Communists who always need to find a class enemy. Why can’t society evolve rather than revolt?

The conflict is built into Marxism through the dialectic – the inquiry into metaphysical contradictions and their solutions. This is a method of analysis that deals with conflicting, contradictory interests, resolving the contradictions and coming out the other end with a new system, the synthesis. Sounds so reasonable, but when posed in terms of a class struggle, revolution, oppressors that need to be defeated, you an see where the violence comes from. This is not a negotiated synthesis.

It’s not just scary USSR and Chinese Communism. John McDonnell calls for Insurrection, violent opposition, if he can’t get his way democratically.

For Marx it wasn’t simply the basic idea of the dialectic, but it’s use in his Historical Materialism. He describes the steps:

  • In a slave owning system both the land and the slave that works the land are owned.
  • Eventually, this dialectic resolved itself so that the slave can become notionally free and independent, but the land he works is still owned, under a feudalistic system, where the worker paid the land owner rent and a share of the profits of his labours.
  • That contradiction in turn becomes capitalism.
  • Those contradictions give rise to Socialism, as described above.
  • Then, the contradictions in Socialism will give rise to Communism.

Enter Leninism. Lenin had the advantage of witnessing the actual growth of capitalism that Marx had predicted, and saw it emerge in a way not anticipated by Marx. He saw the imperialist instincts of Capitalism expand into large multi and trans national corporations that acquire land and resources around the world, draining those resources and using their labour for the benefit of the Western Capitalism systems.

And it’s with Lenin that we also see the notion of the Vanguard. This is a group of the proletariat that are conscious of this worldly situation, and their role is to enlighten and waken up the masses that are still under the yoke of Capitalism. The problem is, who is going to form the Vanguard? And how will they (how did they) resolve disputes? You guessed it. Killing. Though the Vanguard is supposed to be a revolutionary tool of the working class, the Valguard is obviously not that. Tools are usually wielded by the user, so that they can direct it. How can the uneducated masses know better than the Vanguard members, and so how can the masses lead the Vanguard if they are ignorant of the class struggle, and hence ignorant of the need for a Vanguard.

This exposes one of the common issues with Communism, Socialism, and collectivism generally. The Vanguard become the leaders, and they are going to release you from servitude, whether you like it or not, and if you don’t like it, if you resist, you are part of your own problem and you must be eliminated – killing two birds with one stone, releasing one member of the collective from his servitude and ignorance, and removing a reactionary obstacle, in the killing of one person.

Does this ring yet another bell? Are we not in the midst of woke culture where a black person like Candice Owens refuses to be seen as a victim, refuses to play the game, and is ostracised and demonised as a race traitor, a porch monkey, by the very people that want to rescue them? How dare you be so unappreciative. The Vanguard is there to help you but you resist its efforts. You are an enemy of the system, to negative conflict to my positive, and to resolve this conflict you must be re-educated or go. Referring again to the Bret Weinstein case, he was and is a progressive, a lefty, but he criticised a flaw in the dogma, and over night became a Nazi.

Another of Lenin’s ideas was the necessity to smash the state so that a new one can be built. Again, the violence visible throughout Communism is justified by this divisive idea of revolution against oppression. His “The Right of Nations to Self-Determination” sounds like a far right Nationalist agenda, doesn’t it? The parallels are not hard to find.

Note that this aggressive nationalism for left and right is quite distinct from benign nationalism. Benign nationalism simply sees the democratic state as one level of devolved self-governance of a people that can be used to manage their shared affairs while sustaining individual freedom within it. Co-operating democratic nation states are not xenophobic, since they permit migration, travel, exchange of goods that accounts for the different state economics, and they co-operate in wider enterprises such as trade organisations and the UN. It may be that this isn’t as successful as we’d like it to be, as there will always be conflicts of interest, that could, and sometimes do, lead to war. But this isn’t inherent in the system. Democratic states tend to go to war with non-democratic aggressors – and even when the West ‘invades’ states, like Afghanistan or Iraq, though many might not agree with it, there is usually agreement from at least some members of the target states.

Of course, for Lenin, he wasn’t in a position to create Communism everywhere, and so the idea of Communism in one country was a necessary beginning. Even so, Russian expansionism was an obvious part of the Soviet system. Their own invasion of Afghanistan was supposed to prop up the Communists there.

Next up is Moa. The result is Marxist-Leninist-Moaist (MLM) Communism. What did he bring to the killing fields that another Communist would make infamous? Well, his experiences in China were a little different to those in Russia where the Monarchy and feudal system existed. China had its own nationalists and external imperialists running the show. And this experience shaped Moa’s theory.

With Moa we see the theory of The Permanent Feature of Contradiction – his version of the dialectic applied to Communism. The Unity and Struggle of Opposites. And there we see again how fundamental conflict is to Communism, and why, when you see the term ‘struggle’, you should expect violence to be a part of the system.

Incidentally, do you see the narrative of Corbyn’s working for peace anywhere in all this? Or does this look more like the narrative of Islamists and IRA terrorism? What do you think is the true position Corbyn held when he had all those meetings with Islamists and IRA, supporting their ‘struggles’ while having no such support for the other side? Corbyn and McDonnell see everything in terms of a class struggle. No matter that Catholic Ireland unification dictated the ‘struggle’ against an unwilling Protestant Northern Ireland. No matter that Israel is the only democratic state in a region of antisemitism. No matter that there are minorities within minorities that Corbyn cares little for. If he can identify a class struggle, he seems willing to look the other way his ‘friends’ commit their violent acts. The Hamas rockets into Israel, the knee capping and bombing of the IRA … Corbyn will only denounce them when pushed into a corner, and he will only denounce he violent acts, not the parties that commit them.

This inherent conflict, the persecution, the oppression, is endless under Communism, and is why Muslims in China are being ‘re-educated’. Moa’s expression of this was “One divides into two”. This was a statement of the principle that even after resolving a binary contradiction into one resolution, the unity, it will be inevitable that further contradictions will emerge, to create another conflict that must be resolved (through violence, you can be sure).

The reason this is significant to Moa’s Chinese experience is that in his time China had not resolved earlier contradictions, because it never achieved the phase of Capitalism, being under the boot of imperialists exploiters. In this case the nationalist bourgeoisie of the state must cooperate with the proletariat to throw out the imperialists, then some form of State Capitalism can build the economy to a point where the state can be overthrown and the proletariat take control under Communism at last. Moa also saw that other states must move towards Communism in some similar but locally unique way. This move from imperialist control to State Capitalism directly was the New Democracy (as opposed to the Old Democracy of the West). Basically it’s skipping what Marx thought of as a necessary stage of Capitalism that would grow the economy until contradictions forced the revolution into Socialism: State Capitalism.

The New Democracy is symbolised by the flag of China.

“The largest star symbolizes the Communist Party of China’s leadership and the surrounding four smaller stars symbolizing the Bloc of Four Classes: proletarian workers, peasants, the petty bourgeoisie (small business owners) and the nationally-based capitalists. This is the coalition of classes for Mao’s New Democratic Revolution as he described it in his works. Mao’s New Democracy explains the Bloc of Four Classes as an unfortunate but necessary consequence of imperialism as described by Lenin.”

New Democracy

This differs from Marx’s description of events in Western Europe, but is not contradictory to the main idea that the road to Communism is through a series of class ‘struggles’. The dialectic of contradictions, the resolution through the overthrow of perceived oppressors, this is still part of the nature of MLM theory and dogma. It is still a conflict based ideology that makes a mockery of Corbyn’s ‘Nicer Politics’, which at best could be attributed to naive wishful thinking, or more in common with regular Communist propaganda, propaganda.
Within the New Democracy were yet other phases, such as the Great Leap Forward. Note again, though, that this is still a stepping stone to actual Communism. 

This is why on the one hand it’s a legitimate claim to say “True Communism has never been tried.” On the other hand, it’s a god awful way to get there, because, steeped as it is in conflict, there are going to be potentially many deaths along the way. Is there any Socialist revolution that has been on the path to Communism that hasn’t smashed thousands if not billions of eggs?

Moa and Stalin recognised the fact that Socialism can’t remove all other elements of culture and capitalism overnight. And there are other cultural aspects that will remain and have to be kept in check, including cultural elitism that appears in the party system. They must be on the look out for counter revolutionary elements – another convenient categorisation of inconvenient people and an excuse to get rid of them.

The solution for Moa at this stage is to have another revolution, a Cultrual Revolution, that requires mass criticism of the culture, of leadership. It requires a proletarian culture to be created to replace older ones. This leads to the Mass Line:

“consulting the masses, interpreting their suggestions within the framework of Marxism-Leninism, and then enforcing the resulting policies. … to ensure that all cadres and other workers would be “carefully indoctrinated in basic Marxist-Leninist mass line theory and practice” –

Xi Jinping

Xi Jinping is quite keen on this, which could also be part of the justification for the persecution of Muslims.

The methodology in all this is indoctrination or elimination. Not exactly what most liberals like. Communism is an oppressive system that does not cater for the individual. It makes a claim that since the collective is made up of individuals it is for the individual. Individual sheep, maybe. But it’s a weak claim. Collectivism is the enemy of the individual.
Defenders of Communism will attempt to deflect attention away from the failures in the USSR, Cuba …

“Communism is a good system.”

“What? Look at all the failed communist states.”

“They are not true communism [ring a bell with ‘not true Islam’?]. They are failed Socialist states run by dictators. Real Communism has never been tried.”

Unfortunately this isn’t a good sales pitch for Communism, because it’s an acknowledgement that you actually have to have such Socialist horror shows in order to make your way to Communism, and they don’t get you to true communism anyway. The route to idyllic Communism is one long hidden mass grave, which, to add insult to injury, is paved with enough visible bodies to make a point to reactionary forces that might oppose the movement.

There’s a funny thing about Communists. They will scream bloody murder when the Capitalists treat workers poorly, dismiss them in redundancies, or close unprofitable coal mines. Yet they don’t bat an eye when Socialist Communist states make people disappear, perform mass purges, and force re-education on people as China is doing now with its Muslims.

Reflections of  Red Guard

Teachers were the target of the political campaign. Moa taught us they have to receive political re-education by the workers and the peasants. My female teacher, who I loved … she liked western clothes … this was a criminal accusation. One boy went to here bedroom and led so many people .. I went there too late, her hair had been cut already. She was humiliated and I could not help. … Shame on me.

Still ashamed of my part in Mao’s Cultural Revolution – BBC News

After reports of rioting and beatings up, and even murder, the Red Guards seemed to have gone too far.

Narrator

This is ironic, since the doctrine of Moa’s Communism asserts that the party must listen to the people and do what they ask. Apparently Moa decided that the Vanguard in the party knew better after all. The trouble is, if your doctrine unleashes the violence of the masses, what else can you expect but street violence.

John McDonnell Incites Insurrection

And what has this to do with John McDonnell? Here is John McDonnell inciting violence through insurrection if you can’t win at the ballot box.

Elections aren’t working for us … we’ve got to bring democracy back into the community. And that means the democracy of the streets. So when it comes to coordinated industrial action, we need coordinated street action. And that means, if we have to, close off Parliament square, close off Westminster Bridge, in the form of direct action. There’s more to democracy than just a vote every five years. Democracy is about taking control of your own community. And that means industrial action combined with direct action. We used to call it ‘insurrection’. Now we’re polite and say its ‘direct action’. Let’s get back to calling it what it is. It’s insurrection. [Applause] … to bring this country standstill, let’s start organising for it now. [Applause] It needs absolute determination. It needs courage. Above all else it needs solidarity. 

John McDonnell calling for insurrection

So, screw you if you don’t agree. John McDonnell’s Communism requires absolute determination to inflict insurrection on the people of Britain. No wonder he had his copy of Moa’s Little Red Book to hand for George Osborne.

“This is a classic Marxist crisis of the economy, a Capitalist crisis. I’ve been waiting for this for a generation. For Christ’s sake don’t waste it. “

John McDonnell

The Delusional Demos Director

Before getting round to their director, Polly Mackenzie, let’s start with Demos.

Demos on Wikipedia

Their Twitter Bio

The last bit, “Based in London”, and it’s name, “Demos”, might be the only true parts of that bio line.

Think tank? Well, I’ve a couple of other posts related to their thinking. I’m not impressed. These were about a really sloppy piece on the Victoria Derbyshire, on the BBC News channel, and Carl Miller, of Demos, and their dubious ‘research’ milking the ‘Islamophobia’ craze.

BBC Victoria Derbyshire – Sloppy Islamophobia Journalism

Carl Miller of Demos Still Misfires on ‘Islamophobia’

Britain’s leading independent cross-party think tank? Really? Independent and Cross Party?

Well, they have done work for more than one party, but to say they are cross-party is a bit of a stretch. Independent? Not of thought.

From the Wiki page:

Demos was founded in 1993 by former Marxism Today editor Martin Jacques, and Geoff Mulgan, who became its first director.

In the run-up to the 1997 general election it was seen as being close to the Labour Party, in particular its then leader Tony Blair.

On 9 August 2006, in a speech at a Demos conference, British Home Secretary Dr John Reid stated that Britons ‘may have to modify their notion of freedom’, as a result of his plans, claiming that freedom is ‘misused and abused by terrorists.’

Take a look at their 2018 accounts, here.

https://demos.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/application-pdf.pdf

And, after you’ve tried to work out the flow of money in and out, go to page 30 for some of their funders.

The Open Society Foundation. And who are they? You want to know what George Soros funds? Demos is one of his pets. Independent?

Don’t like the George Soros conspiracy theories? OK, let’s try another.

The Politics and Economics Research Trust. Did you know this report was produced by Charity Commission for England and Wales?

You can read more here: Politics and Economics Research Trust: case report

And here: Charity alleged to have illegally funded Brexit campaign groups – Questions over grants given by the Politics and Economics Research Trust to anti-EU groups, with potential for tax relief.

I can’t pretend to know everything Demos get up to, but to me, and having seen the work of the fabulous Carl Miller, it looks like a bunch of people that can’t get proper jobs so they sell their souls to anyone that will buy them and enjoy playing around in the dubious charity money-go-round, and call the work ‘research’.

So, what about their director, Polly Mackenzie? How much thinking does this head of a think tank do? More to the point, what’s the quality of this thinking?

Polly Mackenzie joined Demos as the new Director in January 2018. She previously worked for Nick Clegg from 2006 to 2015, helping to write the 2010 Coalition Agreement, and served as Director of Policy to the Deputy Prime Minister from 2010-15

Well, that didn’t go too well did it.

Just curious, but did Polly have anything to with forming Nick Clegg’s opinions on the EU. Yes, I know her time with him was up to 2015, before Brexit EU Ref, but, well, ideas aren’t formed over night, are they, and when Nick Clegg laid into Nigel Farage about how saying there would be an EU Army was a dangerous fantasy, Nifty Nick had buggered off to Facebook just before Merkel and significant EU figures started telling us that not only was the EU starting an EU Army, but political and military fusion ought to be a future goal.

Anyway, whatever contribution Polly made towards Nicky Know Nothing’s demise, at least she is able to put her own thoughts down. Sadly, it doesn’t get any better.

Case 1 – Letting Children Vote – And Proxy Parental Votes

This is Polly’s recent piece in Unheard …

What if we gave children a vote? – The electoral system is inherently biased towards the 83% of the population who are over 18

Here are some of Polly’s bright ideas:

  • Children 10 and above should be able to vote. How hard is it for a ten year old to make a cross in the right place on a piece of paper?
  • Children under 10 shouldn’t be able to vote (come on, Polly’s not mad, you know). Instead, their parents should be able to cast a proxy vote on behalf of the infant (I presume only one parent gets to vote for each child, but which one? Not sure Polly has think-tanked this through).

You can read the delusional reasoning yourself. But here, for Polly’s benefit, are some objections.

The notion of a proxy vote is entirely counter to the principle of one-person-one-vote. Large families, religious conservative families, would in fact give multiple votes to the parents, as proxies. To say that such proxy voting parents were casting a vote for the children themselves is delusional. They would be casing a vote for themselves and their of how the world should be.

Childless people will be disenfranchised, because parents get 2 or more times their vote.

As for children themselves voting, there are several reasons why they should not, not least of which are the following.

We have limits on parent power. Parents cannot abuse their children. An anathema to this is the indoctrination of children into political and religious ideologies. We are not raising independently minded adults, but pre-programmed adults. It takes a lot of learning to realise the extent to which you’ve been indoctrinated, and some never get out of it. Jess Phillips, Labour MP, describes how she was taught a visceral hatred of Tories. The indoctrination of children into our main religious cults is a disgrace to civil society. Until both political and religious indoctrination are criminalised, and a rounded education in reason and science becomes the standard, we will not be producing independent minded rational adults, but victims and perpetrators of the tribal party and religious politics we have today.

Young teenagers are naturally rebellious, and are wide open to the political indoctrination by extremists. Labour’s Momentum know this – Corbyn’s Kids is not a neutral educational programme but a mind programming school. Many young people were so easily indoctrinated into extreme Islam, and left home to join ISIS. The Orthodox Jewish communities keep a tight control of their children, as do Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Roman Catholics, and even ‘moderate’ Islam.

Why do you think the Humanists UK and National Secular Society are campaigning to stop and reverse the growth in faith schools.

Read Poly’s article. But just for fun, here’s a sample of Polly’s think-tanking.

“Will you let them drink and smoke, too?” – This is usually the first response I get when I propose enfranchising all citizens under the age of 18. The answer is, obviously, no. We have laws that prevent young people from drinking and smoking because these things are harmful. voting, by contrast, is not harmful; drawing an X on a ballot paper is substantially less dangerous than inhaling toxic smoke into your lungs.”

What? So, coerced voting of ten year olds, indoctrinated ten year olds, isn’t a danger? To society, and the better judgement of those children that have to live in the world they were coerced into voting for?

Polly, putting an unlit cigarette in a child’s hands and to a child’s lips is no more dangerous than putting a pencil in the mouth after drawing a cross on a piece of paper. However, to the child personally, the former could have longer term implications for the individual, if they were coerced to light it; but the latter could cause a far wider danger to themselves and society, if they were coerced to vote a particular way.

There are now many people that were indoctrinated into voting Labour – “I’m a life long Labour supporter.” But many such supporters are overcoming their own indoctrination because they can see before their eyes how Corbyn and Communist McDonnell are changing the party, and they have figured out that in their opinion they don’t like it. The same has been true of may Conservative voters. Many adults learn to change their minds for themselves. 

Children cannot. Do you imagine a ten year old having a conversation about the subtleties of Labour’s Socialism, McDonnell’s Communism, the entryism that’s been going on in the Labour Party for generations? No. They won’t even take an arbitrary lucky dip vote. Their parents will coerce them into voting for the parent’s preference.

And all the above doesn’t even begin to take into account the actual issues of brain development and maturity.

We should be worried about the indoctrinating abuse of children and their use in political vote rigging only somewhat less than psychological child abuse.

No, children should not be allowed to vote, and their parents should definitely NOT get extra votes because they have kids.

This piece by Mackenzie is idiotic. Yet she’s the director of Demos? And Carl Pilkington, sorry, Carl Miller (apologies to Carl Pilkington) is their Research Director, Centre for the Analysis of Social Media? Would you trust ANY of their output?

I can see why conspiracy theorists look to Soros. Throwing money at this bunch of clowns is top rate trolling.

Case 2 – Free Stuff Utopian Dreams

It was at this point I thought I’d have a look at Polly on Twitter. Interesting. Following what was obviously a quick lesson in economics by Labour’s John McDonnell’s free stuff promises, Polly gave it a critical eye.

Tweet – Nationalising Openreach is perfectly plausible. But why should broadband be free and not – for example – water, food, heating, clothes, all of which are rather more essential to the human condition.

You’d think Demos might have a director that have some feel for economics. Apparently not.

But, not to worry, Utopia is within reach for Polly …

Which manifesto? Only given Polly’s eagerness to indoctrinate voting children there are several to choose from.

So, for Polly’s benefit, what’s wrong with free stuff, state control and the removal of wages?

  • Eventually, workers don’t need money because everything is free. 
  • But workers are then dependent on the state alone. 
  • Result: oppression of workers that can have no independent means of survival so must comply with the state.
  • Check out some history. Hint: Soviet Union and its oppressed satellites; Moa’s China. The brutality of the party and the Dear Leader.
  • Political Utopias are no better than religious fantasies – they are used to control people.

Giles Fraser’s Homeopathy Christianity

It’s not uncommon for Giles Fraser to take an opportunity to have a pop at atheism and the dreaded Strident New Atheists, and this little foray into excuses for believing in imaginary friends is not untypical: The Battle to Believe in God

According to Giles, according to atheists, God …

“… was killed by thinkers: philosophers and scientists, especially those associated with the Enlightenment.  First, God died in theory, only after which He died in practise, when ordinary people eventually caught up with the ideas that were first formulated in the study and the laboratory. The only problem with this, as Alec Ryrie astutely observes in a new book on the rise of atheism, is that “death-by-philosophy … is a poor fit with the actual chronology of western secularisation”. Atheism, he asserts, was alive and well before the Enlightenment.”

This is not news to atheists that have done their homework, particularly the ones that Giles names later. In fact, Dawkins and others insist that everyone is born an atheist, and most only have a very specific religion thrust upon them in childhood, and a rare few invent religions (rare, relatively speaking, of course, since there are many thousands of religions and sects). Given evolution’s description of human origins and our emergence among and from other animals, Giles would have to assert that animals are religious, unless only Humans invent gods, … or gods are choosy about which animals they reveal themselves to, though they don’t seem so choosy about how often and in how many ways they reveal themselves, if indeed they do.

The article title and sub-heading sum up the problem with the article.

The battle to believe in God

Don’t kid yourself that atheism is a modern invention — it’s as old as religion

Correction. It’s older than religion. It’s what humans and pre-humans and other animals with brains had going on in their brains before some humans invented religion. It’s a-theism:not theism, like a-symmetry is not symmetry.

Having poorly characterised atheism, Giles at one point, in this part book review, part dig at atheists, gets around to telling us what Christianity is about, according to Spufford (and Ryrie and Giles).

“The proper starting point is not the question of God’s existence, but what he calls “the HPtFtu” – or, “the human propensity to fuck things up”. The propensity extends to our relationships, our attempts to be good, even to our rationality. Emotionally, Christianity begins within the unfixable realities of human life, its tragedies and absurdities. Even its blood-soaked history, including that of the Reformation, is just yet another example of the HPtFtu. … Christianity grows out of the broken and unfixable. Its USP is to be found within and alongside the stuff that doesn’t work … Virtuous and idealistic atheists are at work all over the place, but it is observable that a surprisingly large number of believers are at work with the dying, the demented, the addicted, the institutionalised and the very impaired and afflicted, where the best that can be done is to love for the sake of it”

It doesn’t take religion to realise that HPtFu, or that humanity is Fubar. It does take religion to milk suffering for all its worth to the coffers of the church. Too often the religious agenda has been to fix the sinner’s soul rather than fix the problem the sinner is suffering from, the latter being a means to an end. Not to say there aren’t genuinely nice, thoughtful compassionate believers out there, but are the same people so limited they need God to do it? Or has religion simply acquired the monopoly on helping the suffering. (Hint: it hasn’t – medicine cures people more than prayer does.)

And I’m not sure how Giles thinks Dawkins managed a career in Evolutionary Biology if he and Spufford really do think “Virtuous and idealistic atheists are at work all over the place“, as if they had no time for anything but to rebut religion’s fantastical and often harmful claims.

The Hippocratic oath requires doctors do no harm when healing. The hypocritical oaths of religion requires no such commitment, and religion has been known to be quite enthusiastic about saving souls by condemning bodies to death. Allahu Akbar, for good or ill.

“I suppose that is why I read the New Atheist critique of Christianity as often obviously correct, and yet strangely irrelevant. What they take to be a kind of philosophical or quasi-scientific explanation of things is often much more like a cry for help. And to accuse a cry for help as being intellectually confused is a peculiar kind of response.”

I find it a confused kind of response to pain to tell the sufferers, “Pretend to believe in this fake stuff and it might make you bear the suffering a little more easily,” distracting a child that’s about to receive an injection by waving a cuddly toy in front of its face.  An elixir salesman’s fake medicine.

Homeopathy for the soul.

And, Giles ends with …

“Now, of course, you may completely disagree with my characterisation of Christianity. Many will. But what Ryrie’s engaging book suggests is that the battle over God is really a battle about a certain sort of emotional literacy. For the Christian life is as much dependent on arguments about God’s existence as birds are dependent upon ornithology.”

Many will” – Yes, including many religious people.

Giles makes a mockery of the religionist rejection of the analogy of religious belief that atheists often put forward: a belief in fairies. Yes, Christianity as described by Giles does not depend on the existence of God, so emotional literacy could just as easily depend on the non-existent fairies, … or Allah, or any other imaginary friend that Giles does not believe in. So, what makes a Christian? Not believing in Christ as much as not believing in Odin or Allah, but pretending to believe in Christ anyway?

And of course this conception of religion that Giles presents is dishonest … he knows full well that many believers really do believe God exists. Try following people that have suddenly realised they’ve been scammed, how that shocks them when they self discover religion’s empty promise.  The “many will [not accept his characterisation of Christianity]” plausible deniability card up his sleeve is just another cheat.

Let’s translate Ocham’s Razor into Giles-Speak: You better believe there is a God that doesn’t exist, because if He were to exist, though He doesn’t, you’d be good to go, but if there isn’t such a God, which there isn’t, you’ll be disappointed when you don’t end up in the literal hell that doesn’t exist?

And it’s no more than a perverted intellectual elitism that supposes the naive child-like plebs will be satisfied with the emotional sweeties, while the epicurean geniuses of theology dine on the sophistication of arguments for God’s existence. The religious intellectuals HAVE dedicated themselves to arguments for God’s existence. It’s only in the 21st century that theists like Giles are pretty much forced to concede “New Atheist critique of Christianity as often obviously correct, and yet strangely irrelevant” – yes, quite, “It doesn’t matter that I believe in BS, because I don’t care.

Giles may be sincere. But then he has no choice in the matter, because being aware of one’s own intellectual bloopers, or giving up religion, are the unbearable painful cracks that religion, as he elucidates here, is well equipped to paper over

But it’s intellectual duplicity, even if self-imposed. A greater intellectual sophistication should be seeing the irrationality of religious belief, and helping the plebs get wise to the fairy tales. The intellectual failure of the theists is they ought to know full well how silly it is to latch on to just one of the myriad of gods that have been invented.

To speculate about origins, to wonder if all reality is an impersonally causal series of events, or a teleological invention, is a reasonable metaphysical exercise. But to choose one of the many supposedly revealed fantasies, to call oneself a Christian or Muslim, as if some ancient goat herder really did receive a message from a creator of the universe, and play out that game, while keeping atheists at bay by saying you don’t really believe in the literal claims, is no better than the fraudsters that caused the financial crash.

If you want to be ‘mystical’, there’s another option. It’s not beyond the wit of an intellectual to take up the selected cherry picked nice philosophy of Jesus, along with that of the Buddha, as well as atheist philosophers, and disassociate them totally from the fantasy. They could give up the religious mumbo jumbo and to stop conning the plebs that there’s some mystic truth they are incapable of seeing, so they’d better giving up quizzing the literal reality of this God thing. Trouble is, if they were honest with the flock they’d have no justification to dress up on a Sunday.

Not content with merely pulling The Lamb’s wool over the eyes of parishioners, Giles’s and other theists have to demonise the opposition, with what amounts to no more than propaganda about angry atheism.

“What Ryrie’s account achieves is an explanation as to why atheism often remains so angry. That it is angry seems undeniable — from the vituperative nature of exchanges on social media, to the hardly concealed fury of its leading lights, Dawkins, Hitchens etc, there can be little doubt it is driven as much by passion and righteous indignation as by following the consequences of cold clear dispassionate rationality. “Reason is a slave to the passions” as David Hume rightly noted”

This is a dishonest use of Hume’s ‘passions’, which isn’t about anger, but merely the idea that is now a fully credible understanding of consciousness: the lack of free will, that ideas appear as if from nowhere, but actually from the stimulation of the brain by bodily functions. The ‘passions’ in this understanding are well presented by neuroscientists like Antonio Damasio (The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness).

And where atheism is angry it has every right to be. Religion is the quintessential bully that persecutes and brutalises victims, then cries foul when the victim bloodies the nose of the bully.

For millennia witches and heretics have been burned at the stake, while hapless parishioners were scared out of their wits and manipulated by parsons, priests, monks and mullahs.

Civil wars were fought over religious differences – and it’s no good claiming that there were other political reasons, not religious ones. It doesn’t help religion’s cause to point out that a supposedly benign or even beneficial belief system can be put so easily to division and death as it was during the Christian Catholic and Protestant wars, the Crusades, the Islamic invasions from Spain to India, and the later ‘Troubles’ of Ireland, the Islamic terrorism.

Even now, throughout the Islamic world, atheists are persecuted, and in too many states, atheism is a crime punishable by death at the hands of believers that believe nothing like Giles’s theological scam on a scam. In the UK homophobic Islam patrols school gates and justifies the grooming of young girls, as Mohammed did. Damned right atheists are sometimes angry.

Speaking of Islam, reading Giles’s representation of atheism and atheists is very much like reading that of other popular believers, like Mehdi Hasan. Yes, the Mehdi Hasan who really does believe Mohammed split the moon, and in other miracles. Yes, the Mehdi Hasan who revealed that to the not so angry more astonished Dawkins. Yes, the same Mehdi Hasan, who, like that other fraud, Reza Aslan, will tell you you don’t understand Islam, because it’s nothing like atheists present it, … all the while his co-religionists butchering gays in the name of Allah for exactly the reasons atheists say they do. Oh, yes, what happened to Reza Aslan and his lovely Indonesia, where lashings à la (Allah?) Quran 24:2 are a regular occurrence?

It’s odd that these fake theists declare that only atheists and extremists believe in the literal truths of the holy books. No, atheists do not believe in the literal truths of these books. Atheists merely point out the obvious fact that too many theists do. Only the fake theists try to square the circle, by claiming the truth of the holy books (the inerrant truth of the Quran), while simultaneously denying the very words written therein – but only the inconvenient words, remember. The nice worlds can be read as-is.

Whatever this piece says about Christianity, it contains the usual mischaraterisation of ‘angry’ atheism, while it unironically tells us all about the greater angers of the religious.

“For Ryrie, a scholar of the Protestant Reformation, the passion in question has its roots in the protest against the abuses of the church of Rome, of well-padded priests feathering their own nests, of the bullying authority of the Papacy…”

Yes, quite. The ‘angry’ passions of the religionists have always been more ideological, more pathological, more psycopathic than any atheist, simultaneously defrauding the plebs.

Oh, and let’s head this one off at the pass before Giles or some other theist manages to slip some whataboutery through … “But, Stalin!” Not so fast. Yes, Stalin was an angry brutal ideologue. But it was not his atheism that drove the brutality of his ideologically inspire psychopathy. 

While Stalin and other communists and fascists had the benefit of 20th century weapons of death, religions have been killing millions with the ultimate deity of doom, the authority of the autocratic arbiter of heaven or the abyss.

Not that the lovely Giles is a religious madman that would go in for the sort of cruelty that has been the mainstay of religious power for millennia. On the contrary, he’s one of my favourite public theists, and can be rational enough, on other topics.

But there are plenty of his coreligionists that are madmen, and religious ideologues can find all the justification they need in their holy books … you know, the holy books that tell of the gruesome demands of a God that doesn’t need to exist, the same God of passions that Giles’s parishioners don’t require.

You don’t find suicide bombers citing the Humanist Manifesto. Angry atheists. Ha!

But Giles’s fake of a fake God is in truth, as Steven Weinberg pointed out  …

“The god of traditional Judaism and Christianity and Islam seems to me a terrible character.”

Unless, that is, you cherry pick the relatively sparse interesting and nice stuff, and ignore the vast amounts of hell, damnation and slaughter, and the boringly obvious nice stuff.

Tell me. How, in these horror shows of belief, do the nice believers pull off that particular scam on a scam? Based on what theologically obtuse reasoning do they justify their claims that the nice stuff in these books is the real deal, while the bad stuff is history, metaphor, old hat, from ignorant times, myth, allegory?

The trouble for the nice guys like Giles is that the same game can be played by ISIS: all the grotesque punishment is literally true, and the nice stuff is metaphor for what happens after death, after you’ve met the punishments prescribed in the holy book here on earth.

Both tacks seem equally plausible readings, as does the irrational but obvious requirement that belief in a God that revealed a book requires you accept all his words as-is, contradictory or not.

The consequence of this intellectually conflicted nonsense that is religion is as Weinberg also pointed out in his thoughts on God’s believers, that Giles thinks don’t really require a God to exist …

Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.

And Giles has the nerve to complain as ‘angry’ any atheists that point this out.

To repeat Giles’s point …

“For the Christian life is as much dependent on arguments about God’s existence as birds are dependent upon ornithology.”

Yes. You don’t need arguments for God’s existence when blind faith and duplicitous rhetoric is quite sufficient for self delusion. You may be fooling yourselves, but you don’t fool us. 

To try and pass this whole religion thing off as a benign homeopathic remedy, God diluted so there’s not an atom of him left, yet the water holds his memory, … is a scam. It is put on the shelves of therapy with the real medicines of the sciences of the brain-mind-life; and on the shelves of genuine religious belief in existent fantasy friends. It’s sellers ought to be intellectually prosecuted for fraud.

The Moderate Muslim Scam

Moderate Muslims, there are only so many ways you can twist this, only so many hoops you can jump through …

Perhaps there really is only one true Islam …

“There’s only one Islam, and all self proclaimed Muslims are Muslims, including ISIS, and Ahmadis, … and we all agree on the punishments prescribed in the Quran and Hadith, for apostasy, theft, sex outside marriage, adultery, …. I just don’t like to admit it to non-Musims.”

Except, of course, you don’t all agree. So, maybe there isn’t one true Islam …

“There’s diversity in Islam. ISIS are Muslims, but not practicing my kind of Islam. I don’t agree with … and I don’t agree on the punishments prescribed in the Quran and Hadith, for apostasy, theft, sex outside marriage, adultery, …. I know better than Mohammed, and I think that Allah has changed the rules.”

But usually, it’s something like this …

“ISIS aren’t Muslims, Ahmadis aren’t Muslims, … all those other self-proclaimed Muslims that happen to be an inconvenience to my claim that there is only one true Islam, while trying to distance myself from those other ‘Muslims’ that follow aspects of Islam in ways I don’t like (or don’t like to admit to) … well, they are not Muslims.”

Who gave you the right to say they are not Muslims or that they are doing Islam wrong?

Because I AM a Muslim. I should know. Whereas you, non-Muslim, are ignorant about Islam.

Who gets to decide who are true Muslims? What qualifies YOU to decide?

The scholars tell me!

How do I know which scholars are the right scholars to listen to?

Because they are the ones that I happen to think fit the kind of Muslim I want to be … err, though there is only one kind of Muslim, the kind that fits into the narrow band that I think won’t embarrass my religion.

Pity. This is all so embarrassing.

A Muslim Embarrassing Himself

This morning, as I started to write this, I thought I’d better go an dig up some examples, knowing there are plenty. I opened Twitter, and bingo! A gift from Allah?

First, Dawkins, one of the people I follow, had a tweet at the top of my feed, and the very first reply …

This seems like a reasonable response …

And, in turn, we have the usual nonsense …

Let that sink in …

“Not minimising anything. Just pointing out that any sane, moral, rightminded, peaceful individual can recognise …”

So, why do sane, moral, rightminded, peaceful individuals need Islam?

“The punishment for blasphemy in Islam is not death.”

Maybe not in YOUR version of Islam. But you know it is in some versions … which sort of makes a mockery of ‘one true Islam’, or any claims by ANY Muslim to understand Islam, when clearly, different Muslims have different understandings of Islam.

The One True Islam Embarrassment

K T Shamim’s bio reveals he’s an Ahmaddi Muslim … not allowed to call themselves Muslims in Pakistan, opposed by many other Muslims. But still, he thinks he knows the one true Islam.

“The true religion [Ahmadis claim there’s is the one true Islam] …. Don’t know which Islam these Muslims follow …”

 So, there are multiple Islams? But how does K T know that his is the true one, and not the Islam of ISIS?

Hold on! It’s all very nice that K T likes the love and peace Islam, but how does he know that’s the right one? How come punishment and intolerance aren’t the one true Islam? Or why not both?

Really, why not both the peach and love AND the punishment and intolerance? Why are the nice verses taken literally and the nasty verses require excuses?

It’s not like I’m advocating this all inclusive Islam as system to follow. My point is, why can’t you just do peace and love WITHOUT Islam? Why stick with and try to a system in which so many declare the Quran inerrant and have to go to all this trouble to defend it … and let’s be honest … to LIE for Islam, to escape its violent nasty clutches.

Fallible Heroes – Alice Roberts

This is the first of a series on Fallible Heroes – where people I follow, support, and respect, get it wrong sometimes. This may seem like a trivial case, but the last tweet in the final image expresses the importance of it – “I too want everyone to feel protected but discussion gets shut down with cries of ‘bigot’. “

[Feel free to tweet this … since I’m blocked for opposing extremists.]

I’ve followed Alice Roberts (not in a creepy way, honest) since her days on the UK TV programme Coast. Seen some of her other TV documentaries … and now she’s president of Humanists UK.

So, it was a bit of a disappointment to see the following exchange, since Alice’s response, in blocking rather than engaging – at least providing a link to some ready presentation of her views on the matter of transgender issues – leaves a vacuum that actual bigots could fill.

My interest here is not to support any positions that her interlocutor, Michael, might take, but to wish for a better response from the president of Humanists UK in trying to reach those that disagree with her. And, it is clear from other responses that Alice’s decision to block has not helped any case she might wish to make, but has simply affirmed, in the minds of those that disagree, that she has no position worth making. Bit of an own goal.

Yes, I know, she’s busy and can’t engage with every actual transphobe on the planet. But, the current understanding of trans issues is not a done deal, and there are many people with mixed views on the issue, and I expect quite a few in Humantsts UK.

So, what was the exchange? Here is part of it (link to the thread), which began with a question regarding trans issues … and in particular the conflict of interests that exist between cis women and trans women in some specific scenarios.

Alice responded to an assertion in another tweet (from someone else) about the binary nature of sex …

This is the point where it might have been helpful, in spreading the Humanist scientific, rational and kind message, had Alice pointed to some useful information that she thinks lays out her position on this complex subject. After all, Twitter is hardly the place, and surely this isn’t a new topic for Alice.

Actually, he did. It was pretty clear from the start that what was being discussed was the human issue of gender identity with regard to the issues that are currently hotly debated. And, if anything, Alice could be quizzed here about whether she was attempting to slip in the appeal to nature fallacy.

And then …

And, why is this block a problem? Because it leaves other’s with their echo chamber and promotes the idea that Alice isn’t really as committed to trans issues as she might have tried to imply.

Alice Roberts cannot be expected to engage in debates that will probably go nowhere, so that she chose not to carry on, seeing the lie of the land in the thread, her disengagement might have been the best option … but, it could have been done with more dignity and less of what appears to be petulance (whether it was or not in Alice’s mind). For example …

This is too complicated for Twitter, so I’ll leave you with Humanists UK on trans issues … LGBT Humanists responds to Gender Recognition Act consultation

However, Alice does continue to subject, when it suits …

Sense indeed. But it still doesn’t address the actual issue, about humans, that eventually incited Alice to block. Those questioning Alice on this issue would really like to know how you square the circle here – which is, socially, how do we deal with the two conflicting (not always, but not never, either):

  • Allowing trans people to live the lives they choose.
  • Allowing women to live the lives they choose.

Do you remember when safe spaces for cis women to protect them from men – even though not all men are a threat to cis women?

Why can’t cis women have safe spaces from trans women – even though not all trans women are a threat to cis women?

Are there any trans women who fear other trans women? After all, some trans women are very much like traditional cis women, and those trans women need safe spaces from men too, … and by extension, from some trans women.

These are complex issues, and Alice Roberts cannot be expected to have all the answers (indeed, answers that would satisfy everyone are mythical beasts). But the block was disappointing, if only for the reason that the blocked person will not see a more reasonable debate going on.

Alice doesn’t say how she thinks this circle might be squared. Which I think is precisely the point Michael was trying to make, and which Alice avoided.


Nevertheless, Alice is a great president of Humanists UK, and this criticism on this particular matter of this block will not change my opinion on that.