RCP/LM watch

Keeping an eye on the RCP/LM and its fronts

Ellie Lee

You can always tell a RCP/LM follower from their attitude and vocabulary. On C4 News tonight there was an item in the third part of the ‘show’ about an uncontentious Unicef report on breastfeeding [1] which estimated that the NHS might save £40m/year if more women were helped to breastfeed for longer than they do now. So far, so bland, so SFW? But then a Dr Ellie Lee from the University of Kent is wheeled on, and immediately launches into a diatribe against the report and Unicef for carrying out a “moral crusade” (a term she used at least four times) against women who choose to bottle feed. This unsurprisingly took the Unicef woman aback, and she repeated calmly if bemusedly that Unicef only recommended that women be given support in continuing to breastfeed if they so chose.

The phrase “moral crusade” rang an immediate alarm bell, as this is a favourite accusation of Clare “Her Master’s Voice” Fox. When Ellie Lee’s name popped up on screen it turns out that she’s at the University of Kent, Uncle Frank Furedi’s institution where he’s turned much of the Sociology department to RCP/LM ideology. A quick look on Wikipedia [2] for herself found the quote:

She is involved in the work of the Institute of Ideas, and is a frequent guest in debates on the BBC Radio 4 programme Woman’s Hour.

A search of Spiked brings up a few articles by Lee, and referencing her. She also appeared on the RCP/LMs favourite programme, the Moral Maze, back in November 2009 [3]. Sourcewatch [4] has her profiled as a sect member and indeed as a former contributor to LM magazine, so she’s been an acolyte of Uncle Frank for many a year, it would appear. There’s also an Institute of Ideas page on her, which has her down as “Series editor” of the RCP/LM’s main recruitment channel for fresh young blood, Debating Matters, which is crucial for the sect’s future. A name to watch as she’s young, on-message and is likely being groomed for greater things by Ann Furedi.

You can spot sect followers straight off for their contrarianism, their aggression and the use of key phrases and concepts straight from Uncle Frank’s preachings. This from a sect which aggressively advocates independent thought and freedom of speech. Do as we say, not as we do…

[1] Increase in breastfeeding could save NHS £40m a year, according to report. Guardian, 18/10/12. There was nothing about this on the C4 news site when accessed 18/10/12

[2] Ellie Lee entry in Wikipedia, accessed 18/10/12

[3] Moral Maze, 11/11/09, BBC website

[4] Ellie Lee profile, Sourcewatch, accessed 18/10/12

October 18, 2012 Posted by | RCP/LM | , , , , , | 1 Comment

RCP/LM and Occupy

You’d expect the RCP/LM to be instinctively against the Occupy movement, as the sect is pro-corporate, pro-capitalism, viscerally anti-Left, but most important of all always takes contrarian positions. As the Occupy movement is the darling of the Left and liberal chattering classes, the RCP/LM will naturally be against it. However, the virulence of its loathing of the Occupy movement, as made plain by the scads of polemics against Occupy on Spiked by big cheeses of the sect (the Dear Leader, Patrick Hayes, Brendan O’Neill to name a few) is extraordinary even by sect standards. The various writers accuse the protesters of being  cop narks [1], Blairite authoritarians [2], “wannabe tyrants” [3], “conformists” [4], and more, in febrile language that recalls some of the worst excesses of the RCP’s Usenet era [5]. This is pretty over the top stuff, and indicates that the Occupy movement has hit a very sore nerve indeed, such that the full polemical force of the sect’s hatred has been brought to bear.

Sectarianism reheated?

A guess as to why the sect has such a bee in its bonnet about Occupy would be that the anarchic principles of the movement bring back the old hatreds between Trots and anarchists. Anyone active in far Left politics in the 80s knows well that the Trotskyist hate hierarchy was:

  • other Trot sects
  • anarchists
  • socialists
  • liberals
  • the bourgeoisie (trailing a long way last)

The sectarian hatred was absolutely bilious, with the most outrageous libels, and regularly included threats of violence. Just a glance at the Usenet newsgroup alt.politics.socialism.trotsky, where RCP staffers used to hang out religiously as part of their duty to the sect, shows the degree of sectarian hatred that supposed ‘comrades’ have for each other. The RCP reps put the boot in with the best of them. What united all Trots, though, was a burning hatred of anarchists, a hatred going back to the Kronstadt Rebellion and beyond. The Occupy movement is essentially a form of anarchy in action, even if most participants wouldn’t call themselves anarchists, so that guarantees them the enmity of Trots and, going by Spiked’s hysterical and nonsensical abuse, ex-Trots.

Vanguardism

Perhaps another reason is that the RCP was a vanguardist party par excellence. All Trot sects believe in vanguardism to a lesser or greater degree, but the RCP took it to extremes, demanding the tightest discipline and life-sacrificing devotion of its members and supporters. Tithes on members were at least 10% of gross salary, and the sect leadership exercised close control over members’ personal lives, even to the extent of vetoing sexual partners. The RCP held a weekend school back in the mid-80s called Preparing for Power (after the party manifesto of the same name) [6] which was ridiculed at the time, seeing as the sect had at best 150 members plus a few hundred supporters (though these would be what lesser parties would call members), and had as much chance of power as the Monster Raving Loony Party.

However, the sect truly believed that a handful of dedicated revolutionaries could lead the working class into a Bolshevik-style revolution, with Uncle Frank Furedi playing Lenin. They weren’t concerned with raising working-class consciousness, as, say, the SWP were (and are), because to the RCP the working class was an unconscious mass which would follow the vanguard when the time came. The RCP concerned itself exclusively with recruiting the right sort of dedicated revolutionary to the vanguard, usually from amongst university students. [7]

So a movement which a) involves masses of ‘unconscious’ people in activism and consciousness-raising, and b) is as far from vanguardism as you could possibly get, must really, really get the goat of Uncle Frank and his followers. It’s a shame that Occupy is retreating under State repression, not just because it lit a light of hope and progress and, yes, revolution, but also because it really pissed off the RCP/LM.

References

[1] Occupy London in cahoots with coppers – Brendan O’Neill

[2] Occupy London really are Blair’s babes – Patrick Hayes

[3] The wannabe tyrants of Wall Street – Nathalie Rothschild

[4] Occupy London: a ragbag of political conformists – Brendan O’Neill

[5] For example, see the earlier blog post  “Unconditional support” for genocidists

[6] RCP manifesto on Scribd

[7] Arguably their strategy succeeded, though not in bringing about revolution but in moulding the thoughts of the influential chattering classes through the inhuman dedication of RCP/LM entryists. It’s perhaps a shame that the ‘cultural hegemony’ that they’ve striven to bring about has been around Right libertarianism and corporatism.

February 29, 2012 Posted by | RCP/LM | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Moral Maze triple act

Turning on the BBC Radio 4 fightfest The Moral Maze, not only is there the usual RCP/LM double act of Claire “Her Masters Voice” Fox and Kenan “See no RCP, hear no RCP” Malik, but the first ‘witness’ they “cross-examine” is none other than Ann Furedi, consort of the Dear Leader himself, Uncle Frank Furedi. It’s a matter of continual amazement that Radio 4 allows the sect to get away with this blatant packing of one of its flagship programmes. Has Michael Buerk been turned, one wonders? Or maybe the producer, Phil Pegum, loves the sect’s contrarianism? After all, it does make for knockabout car crash radio. It would be interesting to query the programme makers directly but since the BBC cuts all messageboards have been closed down, so there’s no line of communication to them.

See also an earlier post on the RCP/LM’s takeover of the Moral Maze. A fun read on the sect’s takeover of the Moral Maze is Nick Cohen’s Wireless: Long march to the microphone.

February 29, 2012 Posted by | RCP/LM | , | Leave a comment

Audacity

No, this isn’t a post about the excellent and widely-used Open Source audio editor, Audacity, but the RCP/LM front of the same name devoted to pushing the sect’s message in the area of the Built Environment (as Architecture and Planning is called these days). The RCP’s version of Audacity is a typically strident ‘campaign’, very pro-development and rabidly anti-environmentalist. A recent article by Ian Abley, on the Dale Farm issue, is entitled “Pickles plans a pogrom“. Seeing as pogroms were genocidal anti-Semitic campaigns of 19th Century Russia in which thousands died and hundreds of thousands were forced into exile, and the Dale Farm issue is to do with the eviction of a traveller camp, the article is pretty, erm, ‘disproportionate’. Ok, the author tries to redefine the word “pogrom” at the start:

Pogróm is a word with Yiddish origin, and is a Russian word meaning “to wreak havoc, to demolish violently, to destroy, or to devastate a town”.

but then later in the article uses the commonly accepted meaning of the term:

Pogróm originally meant attacks on Jews in the Russian Empire. The first was anti-Jewish rioting in Odessa in 1821. The term “pogrom” gained common use with anti-Jewish riots across the Ukraine and southern Russia between 1881 and 1884,

and proceeds to outline in graphic detail what pogroms actually were. He then goes on to associate the Russian pogroms with the actions of Eric Pickles, the local government ‘tsar’ (sic!), against the Dale Farm Travellers. You don’t have to carry a torch for the execrable Pickles to see that associating him with violent anti-Semitic genocide (not a word the RCP/LM would use, mind, for ideological reasons) is way over the top. For all the seeming disclaimers, that’s what Abley does, but of course being RCP/LM and imbued with its virulent hatred of environmentalists he also tars them with the same brush in the article:

So Pickles is now going deeper into the green prejudice that people are sprawling over the countryside, and need to be contained. At Dale Farm he is tapping into the prejudice amongst environmentalists that large families are a problem. Many Gypsies and Travellers like to have large families, and look after each other, but their sociable culture is evidently at odds with the anti-human idea amongst greens that population growth is threatening the planet.

The word “evidently” is, of course, used without any evidence at all of environmentalists backing Pickles’ anti-Traveller campaign, being ‘backed up’ solely by the RCP’s standard anti-Green prejudice:

The anti-human prejudice is common to environmentalists,

That Greens and all sorts of Left and radical groups (for instance, the redoubtable anarchists at Schnews, and the ubiquitous Socialist Workers Party) are actively campaigning against Pickles’ plans in solidarity with the Travellers gets no mention in Abley’s rant, which also fits in with the standard RCP modus operandus which is never to ally with other groups in the same cause.

The article is illustrative of the pugnacious anti-environmentalist tone of the whole of the Audacity ‘campaign’, and is unsurprising given the prominence of the old RCP hands James Heartfield (the ‘intellectual’ in the sect going back to the earliest RCP days) and James Woudhuysen in the people behind Audacity. Indeed, the home page of the website is unequivocably anti-environmentalist.

The front has recently set up the “250 New Towns Club” initiative, and has emailed subscribers to the Institute of Ideas mailing list inviting them to join it, and to back the campaign for the High-Speed Rail link (HSR). It implicitly claims the backing of established organisations such as Shelter and the National Housing Federation for the “Club”. If these organisations are truly involved, rather than their logos simply being used as decoration, they’d do well to look closely at the background of Audacity and its personnel before committing themselves to a sect front.

May 15, 2011 Posted by | RCP/LM fronts | , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Modern Movement: an insider view

An interesting post [1] has appeared on a blog called Necessary Agitation, which gives an insider’s view of the short life of Modern Movement, which was set up in March 2009 as a direct reaction to the success of the Plane Stupid environmentalist direct action group. MM was at best ‘strongly influenced’ by the RCP/LM, at worst another front, as this blog argued in a previous post. The post on Necessary Action is written by a progressive Marxist who supported, and still supports, cheap flying and the expansion of Heathrow airport,  and not unreasonably joined MM as he shared their ostensible goals.

The article gives a good insight into how the RCP/LM manages its ‘offshoots’, and to why the MM eventually bit the dust. The poster is not unsympathetic to the Institute of Ideas:

Something which can be said of the new generation of recruits clustered around the Institute of Ideas is that they are on the whole more personable and open minded than the old RCP stalwarts. Indeed, the clique that originally banded together to form the majority of Modern Movement’s members were drawn to do so on the basis of their dissatisfaction with the present line of the continuity RCP’s leading lights—Frank Furedi, Claire Fox, etc.—and a desire for a space to stake out their own unique positions on the new issues thrown up by the 2008/09 financial crisis.

Although he does see the RCP as “a group straddling the fine line between a committed cadre and a middle class cult”, you get the feeling that he supports their general attitude. However, it appears that for all the RCP/LM’s trumpeting of “intellectual ambition and curiosity” and “open and robust debate” [2], intellectually speaking they operate on a pretty basic level, and in MM actively sought to lower the level of intellectual debate and suppress dissent. Not long after MM’s formation, according to the poster, it split between a “left” faction which was anti-capitalist and supportive of airline workers, and the dominant “right” faction led by the RCP/LM personalities:

In the short space of a month or two a left and a right faction of MM started to appear. Broadly speaking the rightwing leadership clique were closest to the IoI, most reverent for the traditions of the RCP, dismissive of democracy, and pro-capitalist. Conversely, the leftwing faction were more insistent on marking a break from the old formulas of the RCP, operating in a democratic fashion and taking an openly anti-capitalist line.

This split eventually brought about the movement’s dissolution:

Members of the right started to flake away, leaving the rightist leadership clique increasingly isolated. And then, suddenly, they just quit. With the scales having tilted decidedly in favour of the left the democratic decision to take an anti-capitalist message to the G20 was too much for the leadership to stomach.

The impression given fits in with other anecdotal reports of groups and events organised by the RCP/LM: that the sect tightly controls debate, is undemocratic, and is controlled by a cabal of senior figures going back to the RCP days. “Open debate” is not a feature of RCP/LM groups and events, for all Claire “Her Master’s Voice” Fox’s combative rhetoric on the Moral Maze and Question Time.

The closing paragraph of the post is telling and damning:

And so in a microcosm there you have a demonstration of the kind of shenanigans favoured by the post RCP. Secrecy, an aggressive ‘Leninism’ based on no respect for democracy, a tight control over ‘the message’, often at odds with the real aims. It could be added that the IoI itself reflects all these tendencies. Essentially a fringe political party in all but name, but lacking even the faintest trace of internal democracy, debate over fundamental principles or tolerance of dissent from Frank Furedi’s ideology. Evasiveness over core ideology is even promoted amongst new recruits; and as such, for all the endless show debates put on by the organization, there is next to no theoretical exposition or discussion of their central beliefs. The ‘line’ spread both inside and outside is that there is ‘no line’ and, as O’Brien tells Winston in Orwell’s 1984, 2 + 2 does equal 5.

[1] “Inside Modern Movement: the anatomy of the continuity Revolutionary Communist Party“, Necessary Agitation, 4/8/10

[2] Institute of Ideas website home page, accessed 6/8/10

August 6, 2010 Posted by | RCP/LM, RCP/LM fronts | , , , , , , | 9 Comments

“Unconditional support” for genocidists

Back from Easter holidays, and what do we see? Mick Hume, ex-editor of the much-unlamented LM magazine, robustly defending LM’s stance during the Balkan Wars by way of commemorating the libel action by ITN and the journalist Ed Vulliamy that put LM out of business (to be very quickly replaced by Spiked and IoI – it’s an ill wind, eh, guys?) [1].

In an article “Why we were right to fight”, Mick Hume (now earning a decent buck in the Murdoch Press) is unapologetic about publishing the mendacious article by Thomas Deichmann which claimed that photos of the Serb concentration camp at Trnopolje, Bosnia, were faked.

It’s worth noting that Vulliamy, unlike any of the the RCP/LM mob or Deichmann himself, was actually at the concentration camp and was there when the photos were taken, so he not unsurprisingly got a serious hump about being called a brazen liar and faker, which allegations if proven would have killed his journalistic career stone dead. Another nail in LM’s court defence was that it spurned the chance to cross-examine a doctor who’d actually been imprisoned in that very camp, so could argue very forcefully indeed that it existed [2]. That would have been an encounter worth seeing, the sect’s lawyer telling the ex-inmate that the camp was a figment of his imagination, but even the RCP/LM has limits to its chutzpah.

Of course you’d not expect Hume to be otherwise, and indeed the trial was the making of the sect as a champion of free speech and gained them an enormous amount of publicity in the liberal Press and amongst the chattering classes, which did them the power of good. [2]

“Unconditional support”

Hume does, however, come out with a brazen lie in his apologia:

LM took no side in the bloody and destructive Yugoslav civil war, apart from siding against Western intervention that we saw could only make matters worse.”

This is completely untrue, and he surely knows it. Whilst LM magazine may not have explicity supported Serb forces, the RCP/LM most definitely did as a matter of Leninist doctrine. As noted in comments to previous blog entries, tireless RCP activists on Usenet regularly called for “unconditional” support for Serbia against the West, based on Leninist ideology. One of the RCP’s gruesome twosome, the bruiser Justin Flude posting as “Big Mac”[3], wrote:

Poster: Big Mac <whop@speed.com>
Newsgroup(s): alt.politics.socialism.trotsky
Date: June 15 1998
Thread:  Nationalism:Its significance.

: Lenin understood that imperialism necessarily involves the political oppression of
:backward capitalist countries.  Therefore the struggle of the people in those countries
:against imperialism was anti-capitalist and demanded the unconditional support of
:revolutionaries.

Or again, in the same thread:

:>Why, because you participate mystically in the guilt of your bourgeois
: >government?!  Get over it, and start thinking straight.  Being critical does
: >not mean “sitting on the fence,” LM Assholes!
:
: Do you back Serbia unconditionally against the West or not?  Yes or no?

Or again, on the Srebrenica massacre:

:Which graves?  Where are they?  Why, despite all the claims of
:massacres in Srebrenica, has nobody been able to find the bodies?  Why
:do witnesses that claim to have seen the massacres give contradictory
:accounts?  Why did the Dutch troops based in the town testify that they
:saw no massacres?  Why did two successive UN reports not find any
:evidence to support the claims?  Why have the army of Western
:journalists that have reported from the region not been able find any
:evidence either?
:
:Because it never happened.

[4]

Gary Dale, the other member of the twosome, was equally as robust:

Poster: Gary Dale <gd@ee.ed.ac.uk>
Newsgroup(s): alt.politics.socialism.trotsky
Date: Nov 13 1998
Thread: Re: Nationalism:Its significance.

They were adding to the chauvinism, propaganda and demonisation that justified the presence of the West.  The character of Milosevic regime is utterly irrelevant: the issue is that the West and your government has no RIGHT to be there.  And you have no MORAL right to whine about what the Serbian government was and was not doing. Also, when push comes to shove, those who oppose oppression MUST support military victory for Serbia against foreign intervention.

More quotes abound, but you get the picture. Flude’s last quote shows the logical consequence of “unconditional support” for a regime – you have to rubbish any story critical of it, and play up any story supportive of it. So the RCP/LM regularly trashed, on Usenet and in print, stories of atrocities by Serb forces, whilst reporting uncritically stories of Croatian and Bosniak crimes [5].

But because LM was sued for libel, rather than having its claims exposed as lies resulting from their “unconditional support” of the murderous Milosevic and Karadzic regimes, it was able to turn the agenda away from their support of genocidists to Press freedom, and to pose as champions of free speech, a banner the sect continues to hold proudly to this day. Instead of being exposed as apologists for war criminals, Uncle Frank and his boys and girls came out smelling of libertarian roses, and never looked back. Truly, the libel trial was the best thing to happen to the sect, turning it from an irritation into the England-wide media phenomenon it is today.

So thanks a bundle, ITN, for throwing petrol on the smouldering embers of what was becoming a moribund sect.

[1] “Why we were right to fight“, Spiked Online, 18/3/2010

[2] Apart from being morally wrong to stifle free speech, even when it was a blatant lie, ITN and Vulliamy really shot themselves in the foot with their action. If not for the court case, the chances are that the sect wouldn’t be 1000th as influential as it is nowadays. The suit was a major strategic blunder. For background on the case, see the  Wikipedia article on the ITN v LM libel suit.

[3] One of his many aliases, but he was plainly identifiable by writing style and, more importantly, posting IP address which was always his work PC.

[4] These quotes are summarised in the thread “ITN launches libel action against LM” which appeared on the newsgroup alt.politics.socialism.trotsky on March 2, 2000.

[5] Such as the mass explulsion of ethnic Serbs from Croatia after the defeat of Serb forces.

April 16, 2010 Posted by | RCP/LM | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The RCP/LM reaches the East Midlands

Up to now the RCP/LM has been mostly confined to London, with outposts in Edinburgh and Manchester, which given the sect’s targetting of the chattering classes and the media world is unsurprising. Just recently, though, they’re reaching into the dark fastnesses of the East Midlands, where a Prof Dennis Hayes has inaugurated a “Salon“, a posh historical reference for an outlier of the sect.

Hayes is unfamiliar to RCP Watch, and we did wonder if he was a new convert to the cause but he looks a bit too old and wizened for the sect which prefers bright young things like Ben Pile and James Panton. Wrinkly recruits aren’t worth investing effort into as they’ll soon retire and/or die off. However, it turns out, from the credits of one of Hayes’ many articles for Spiked [1], that he was once “head of the centre for professional education at Canterbury Christchurch University”, which reveals the connection as The Dear Leader, Uncle Frank Furedi, is of course Professor at the University of Kent at Canterbury, so they’d have been old muckers.A bit of a comedown for Hayes to go from a 3rd- to a 4th-rate university, but needs must in tight times, one supposes.

The announcement of the “Salon” includes the following chuckleworthy statement:

“Salons have attracted many progressive thinkers including Frank Furedi, Kenan Malik, Austin Williams, Jeremy Taylor, Helene Guldberg and James Woudhuysen.”

All of whom are RCP/LM stalwarts, so that nails the sects colours to the East Midlands mast. (Could you not think of any non-RCP names, Dennis?) The inaugural meeting will be on the 26th January in case anyone wants to see “progressive thinkers” in the flesh. Other names to watch out for are helpfully mentioned in the event announcement:

“The East Midlands Salon is the brainchild of University of Derby Education expert Professor Dennis Hayes, Dr Vanessa Pupavac from the University of Nottingham and a third organiser Ciaran Guilfoyle”

Guilfoyle‘s been involved in the IoI’s Culture Wars and Battle of Ideas evénements and studied Philosophy at Nottingham Uni, so an experienced RCP/LM hack. Vanessa Pupavac, though, is an unlikely sect adherent as her Uni of Nottingham staff page describes her thus:

“Dr Vanessa Pupavac is a lecturer in International Relations at the University of Nottingham. She has previously worked for the UN Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia and other international organisations.”

RCP Watch wonders whether she’s aware that she’s been working with a group that “unconditionally supported” the Milosevic and Karadzic regimes during the Balkan Wars of the early 90s, and one of whose more aggressive Usenet propagandists baldly stated that “Srebrenica never happened”.  And, of course, LM itself was defeated in libel court for having effectively claimed, via an article by Robert Deichmann, that photos of Serb concentration camps were faked. Perhaps she’s unaware of the historical continuity of the Institute of Ideas with the LM and RCP.

[1] Would you like relish with that A Level? Dennis Hayes, Spiked Online, 29/3/08

Follow-up

As a ‘PS’ to this post, the East Midlands ‘Salon’ is pushing the boat out with a meeting on the 23rd February at a posh hotel in Nottingham’s swanky Lace Market, featuring a Professor James Woudhuysen, described as  “Professor of Forecasting and Innovation” (not an academic discipline that RCP Watch has heard of) at De Montfort University but who is also a prolific author for Spiked Online. This time punters are asked to shell out a fiver for the privilege. Details on the “Salon” Facebook page.

January 18, 2010 Posted by | RCP/LM, RCP/LM fronts | , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Another Moral Maze double act

Yep, not content with getting Fox and Malik on Radio 4’s Moral Maze as regular questioners (and frequent RCP/LM members/followers on as ‘witnesses’, including the Dear Leader himself), the sect has now got a third interrogator on the programme. Step forward James Panton, most (in)famous for his robust defence of animal experimentation and the eminence grise (“co-founder”, even) behind the reactive group Pro-Test – see the earlier post “RCP/LM at Oxford University“. He’ll be appearing on tonight’s Moral Maze on “net-based protest” with Kenan Malik, though without Claire “Her Master’s Voice” Fox for a change, and it’ll be interesting to see if Malik and Panton acknowledge each other as comrades/colleagues. Almost certainly not going by previous experience, as Malik and Fox have never, to RCP Watch’s knowledge, acknowledged each other as close comrades going back over two decades, so it’s doubtful that Malik will nod to his arriviste colleague Panton.

All we need now is for Fox to reappear with Malik and Panton and we’ll have 3 of a kind on the programme, leaving just one place for a full takeover of the Moral Maze. Will the RCP/LM try to slip another member in, or would that be too brazen even for them? Time will tell.

Quite what the MM producers are thinking is a mystery. Everyone and their uncle in the metropolitan meedja world knows of the RCP/LM and their members and tactics, not least because they’re guaranteed contrarians – if you want a wind-up merchant on your programme to generate controversy, the RCP/LM is an immediate goto, and they always produce the goods. Yet the MM producers have now allowed 3 RCPers to appear as interrogators, which begs the question: do they know what they’re doing, and if so do they give a monkey’s? The charitable answers would be no and yes, but chances are it’s vice versa.

Does it matter if a secretive authoritarian entryist sect takes over a crappy Radio 4 programme hardly noted for its intellectual rigour (any programme that has that reactionary thicket Melanie Phillips on has no claim to be highbrow)? Well, it is a primetime programme broadcasting to the very chattering ABC1 classes, aka ‘commentariat’, that the RCP/LM sees as its prime audience and recruiting ground, so it matters in that sense. And if you consider dishonesty and duplicity to be moral problems, it matters in that sense as well. If you’re a world-weary cynic then you’ll likely think ‘what the f*ck’ and ignore it, which might be the best move – who knows?

Links

Moral Maze on the BBC website

Pro-Test

James Panton staff page at St Johns College, Oxford University (with mugshot – tough lookin’ cuss, ain’t he?)

James Panton hagiography on the Battle of Ideas website

Shiraz Socialist blog: RCP hegemonise the Moral Maze

November 4, 2009 Posted by | RCP/LM | , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Swine Flu and the “Culture of Fear” [TM]

The RCP/LM is big on exposing those it considers to be crying wolf, and swine flu (H1N1) has given it the opportunity to concentrate its withering humanist scorn on yet more “scaremongers”. Spiked has a full section entitled “Pandemic Fears” with essays from RCP Big Cheeses, including the Dear Leader himself, Frank Furedi, Dr Mike Fitzpatrick, and Mick Hume, who all go right back to the origins of the RCP. The keynote essay is by Furedi himself [1] which is characteristically wordy and rambling, but boils down to the simple view that “scaremongers” are conning us all about the dangers of swine flu to serve their own interest. He then provides a “guide” to the various “species” of “fear entrepreneurs” [2] who’re trying to scare the living beejaysus out of us all, a list of eight types of scaremonger who are actively and consciously promoting a false fear to serve their interests and control the population. An uncharitable critic might characterise this as yet another conspiracy theory, theories which the RCP/LM has always rubbished mightily, but the Culture of Fear [TM] is Uncle Frank’s Big Idea which he and his faithful followers have been selling for well over a decade so you can hardly blame him for using one of his house journals to let rip.

Other articles in the Spiked pandemic section (including those by Dr Mike Fitzpatrick who as a practicing GP should, and almost certainly does, know better) say much the same thing, in lots of words with much sneering and sarcasm – that swine flu is a minor sub-lethal infection that’s been blown up into a major health hazard to engender public hysteria and fear for the purposes of social control.

This obeisance to the Dear Leader’s Big Idea has been the sect’s stock response to all crises that have emerged in recent years, including the biggest of all, climate change. Furedi’s belief is that fear will restrict and obstruct human scientific, intellectual and material progress, and as such progress is paramount, anything that stands in its way must be fought in a “Battle of Ideas”. Whether or not climate change or avian flu or phthalates[3] (to name but a few of the ‘scares’ the RCP opposes) have any basis in reality, and regardless of their scientific validity (or otherwise), they have to be fought with all the RCP/LM’s might as they restrict human progress as defined by the ultra-humanist RCP.

With swine flu, though, the sect may well come unstuck. The scientific community has been warning for many years that a flu pandemic is overdue, and that avian flu was a wake-up call for states worldwide to prepare. Scientists are taking swine flu very seriously indeed, as unlike avian flu it’s human to human tranmissible and has already killed hundreds [4]. Just today the BBC reported that 14 patients in the UK have died after contracting swine flu, with some 335 in hospital, 43 of whom are in critical care [5]. This isn’t just a case of the sniffles, this is life-threatening. So far those who’ve died, according to official sources, had “underlying health problems” (ie they were a bit dicky to start with), but there’s a scientific consensus that the virus will emerge in a more dangerous form come the wet conditions of autumn and winter [6].

This may not happen, of course. The pandemic might fizzle out as did H5N1 (avian flu), and we all fervently hope it does and that the pandemic becomes another cry of “Wolf!”. There’s a decent probability, though, that the virus will increase in lethality, and that there will be deaths amongst otherwise healthy patients. If that were to happen, and the wolf really did turn out to be real, then the RCP/LM will be left with some serious egg on its collective face, in particular the Dear Leader himself who’s staked his whole intellectual reputation on the Culture of Fear [TM]. Truth may be an elastic concept to the sect, which judges the validity of an issue not on its ‘truth’ but on its utility, or otherwise, to the RCP/LM [7], but a virus will bite you on the bum (or more accurately cause a potentially lethal auto-immune reaction) – viruses are no respecters of party lines.

Let’s hope that H1N1 remains relatively mild, but if it doesn’t and the death toll rises, expect to see some serious finessing by the RCP/LM. Whilst no sect member will bluntly state that swine flu doesn’t exist as that would leave a massive hostage to fortune, there’s no question from the number and tone of ‘sceptical ‘ articles on Spiked that this is the sect’s line, and it would be plain sophistry for Furedi, Hume, Fitzpatrick et al to argue otherwise were the worst to occur. [8]

References
[1] What swine flu reveals about the culture of fear, Frank Furedi, Spiked Online, 5/5/09

[2] Furedi ibid

[3] Science by Committee: The Euro-ban on phthalates is a dangerous sign of the times. Spiked Online, 5/6/01. Also

[4] See, for example, New Scientist’s Epidemics and Pandemics section, with numerous articles on the virus.

[5] UK swine flu death toll hits 14, BBC News online, 9/7/09

[6] See for instance: Swine flu can turn more lethal in winter, Times of India, 21/6/09; Swine flu sweeps the Southern hemisphere, New Scientist, 9/7/09

[7] A view common amongst Trotskyist sects, which perhaps not unnaturally have a historical aversion to “truth” given how the concept was so obscenely abused by Stalin.

[8] LM carried out a similar strategy during the Bosnian wars of the 90s, when it never officially supported the Serb forces (though its Usenet propagandists were unrestrained, calling for “unconditional support” of Serbia against “Western imperialism”) yet routinely rubbished reports of Serb atrocities whilst playing up atrocity reports involving Bosniaks and Croats. It thus pretended that it was simply against Western intervention and was otherwise neutral. No-one who took an interest in LM at the time could be in any doubt as to their line on the war. See the letter by Martin Cohen to the Guardian, 17/3/00, as an example, but many quotes could be pulled from the postings of the RCP/LM’s Usenet warriors.

July 9, 2009 Posted by | RCP/LM | , , , , , | 5 Comments

The Moral Maze: a RCP/LM double act

Yep, for your listening pleasure, the Moral Maze on BBC Radio 4 now features not one but two, yes two, RCP/LM members. Joining Claire “Her Master’s Voice” Fox on the panel we now have Kenan Malik, a long-time RCP then LM stalwart. Indeed, he predates Her Master’s Voice as in the 1987 UK General Election, he stood as a candidate of the Revolutionary Communist Party in Nottingham East. There are now  two ‘panellists’ on the Moral Maze singing from the same hymn sheet, thus narrowing the range of opinions down even further.

Does it matter that the RCP/LM has colonised the programme? In one sense probably not – MM is little more than a bear-baiting session for panellists to ride hobbyhorses to death, and Fox in particular is absolutely assiduous in pushing the RCP/LM line at every opportunity. The intellectual quality of the ‘debate’ is uniformly low, as befits panellists, such as the rabidly reactionary “social commentator” Melanie Phillips, who have no understanding of moral philosophy or ethics. In another sense maybe it does matter, because for all its intellectual vacuity, MM does go out on primetime on the middle class’s house radio channel, so will have some influence on the chattering classes.

What really burns, though, isn’t that the programme producers allow them both on the show knowing full well, as just about anyone in the meedja knows, that they’re RCP to the core. They give good radio, with Fox acting the rabid pitbull and Malik the considered intellectual, a sort of RCP/LM good cop/bad cop act, and the producers only really care about ratings. It’s the sheer dishonesty of neither of them even acknowledging that they’ve been mates and comrades for over two decades that really rankles. The two act as complete strangers. This dishonesty gives the impression that they’re two independent voices, and thus they lend spurious legitimacy to each other’s views.

There are a couple of blog posts on the same theme:

Indeed, if you do a search for “Kenan Malik RCP LM” you’ll get more than enough material to keep you going for days. Do the MM producers not know how to use Google, or has the RCP/LM assimilated them also? Curious minds want to know…

A new series of the Moral Maze starts this Wednesday, 3rd June, at 8pm on R4. If you can bear the gutter-low and intellectually puerile ‘moral debate’ then it’s worth listening to the RCP’s double act, at least in the opening and closing stages, to get an idea of the current party line on the programme topic.

May 31, 2009 Posted by | RCP/LM | , , , | 9 Comments

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.