RCP/LM watch

Keeping an eye on the RCP/LM and its fronts

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

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

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

Rob Killick

It looks like we have another rising star to keep an eye on in the RCP/LM firmament. Step forward Rob Killick, CEO of cScape (note the uber-cool camelCase), slogan: “A passion for online excellence” (?!? – translation welcomed from fluent speakers of SuitSpeak). cScape is the major partner in the Institute of Ideas’ forthcoming biggie Battle For Ideas conference “The Battle for the Economy“. The usual suspects, including the Dear Leader himself, Uncle Frank Furedi, and Clare “Her Master’s Voice” Fox, will be there, along with up-and-comers like Suzy Dean. It’s not hard to figure what the major lines of the ‘conference’ will be – untramelled economic growth, unrestricted capitalism, and the Culture of Fear [TM]. In the words of Rob Killick:

The UK has become a risk averse and politically stagnant country where the state is intervening constantly at every level. Is it possible for genuine innovation and change to thrive inside a society which is wedded to risk aversion,state intervention and welfarism?.

To which the RCP answer is, obviously, no, otherwise they wouldn’t ask the question. Killick writes a busy blog called UK After the Recession, which touches on a number of RCP/LM lines, in particular anti-environmentalism, with entry titles such “What’s wrong with a Green New Deal” (parts 1 and 2), and “Say no to the politics of austerity”, plus big and frequent plugs for the Battle for the Economy conference. Flavours of his thinking:

Those of us who believe that economic growth is the basis for human freedom will have a tough task arguing against the new advocates of austerity (After the G20 – what next?)

But Marx never rejected the economic growth that capitalism can bring. He understood that freedom from want was the basis of civilisation and that remains true today. (Capitalism, anti-capitalism and the G20) (a nice interpretation of Marx to chime with Uncle Frank’s, erm, idiosyncratic and certainly revisionist Marxism).

Since the collapse of the left in the 80s the sphere of ideological disputation in political life has diminished consistently. (Politicians pay the price for the recession) (also fitting in nicely with Uncle Frank’s view that the Left is dead, so the only hope left for human progress is unrestrained capitalism)

According to the reliable Sourcewatch site:

Rob Killick, also known as Rob Knight, is a partisan of the libertarian LM network. He is CEO of cScape, an internet company he co-founded with RCP activist Keith Teare [1] and has spoken at events organised by Spiked Online [2].

A search for “killick” on Spiked Online brings up a good few articles he’s written for them. A name to keep an eye on, as the sect will likely wheel him out for public appearances on radio and TV related to the economy to counter recessionary doom and gloom, and especially any calls for slower/no growth and restrictions on business. We’ll be hearing his name increasingly frequently in the future, one suspects. Perhaps the RCP/LM will try to present him as a Robert Peston alternative?

This wouldn’t be the first time that the organisation has formed and used Internet companies. In the LM days, Easynet was known as the RCP’s ISP, and according to SpinProfiles’ page on Keith Teare:

In the mid-90s, with the RCP heading more and more in its new pro-technology, pro-enterprise direction, Teare helped set up a series of internet business ventures, including Cyberia, Easynet, and Cscape. These were mostly headed by and employed other RCP-ers.

See also Sourcewatch on Keith Teare.

May 12, 2009 Posted by | RCP/LM, RCP/LM fronts | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

The 2-minute hate: get Monbiot!

An insight into the methods and nature of the RCP/LM can be had from the 2-minute hate which Spiked Online has prominently on its home page. Labelled as a “competition” and entitled “Why oh why does monbiot hate spiked?“, it invites Spiked adherents to email in their suggestions as to why George Monbiot has it in for the RCP/LM – sorry, Spiked – following his latest Guardian piece putting the boot into the RCP [1]. The published responses are illuminating. The biggest name in the responses is James Heartfield, one of the RCP/LM’s inner circle and Frank Furedi’s second-in-command, who writes a slur on Monbiot as an aristocratic fop. Other contributions include the usual RCP/LM themes, in particular that Greenery is “anti-human” and critics of the “cult” are practicing “McCarthyism”, and plainly many of the most vitriolic messages are written by new adherents, perhaps to prove their worth and zeal.

That the organisation feels it necessary to run a public and highly personal pillory of Monbiot is encouraging in that it shows that he must really be getting under their skin. When just about everyone else in the media has forgotten about LM and the RCP, he keeps on digging into its activities and publishing details in the Guardian and elsewhere, and plainly he’s becoming quite an irritant to an organisation that wishes to remain hidden behind its many ostensibly-independent front organisations. It is also, though, both ludicrous and sinister, and is reminiscent of the tactics of far-Right sects (and some Trotskyite sects in the day) who published the addresses of enemies and invited followers to ‘make their feelings known’. It wouldn’t be going too far to describe the tactic as stalinist. This is not the behaviour of a ‘responsible’ public organisation, but then Spiked was created to be the pit bull of the RCP/LM, with the Institute of Ideas its ‘respectable’ intellectual front.

Still, maybe Monbiot should count himself lucky that the RCP/LM is now ‘legit’ and has to behave itself within the law. In the old days, the RCP had a deserved reputation for streetfighting and ‘sorting out’ its enemies and critics, and even in the days of the “LM Project” its Usenet militants (particularly Gary Dale and Justin Flude) would use pretty ferocious tactics and language, and on occasion were reported to have threatened critics on the phone.

Of course, RCP Watch submitted its own email to the ‘discussion’ rather at variance to the tone of the other contributions, but naturally that’s disappeared into the ‘memory hole’. For all their championing of “freedom”, the RCP have always been very wary of free speech, particularly when it’s critical.

[1] Flying Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, the Guardian, 13/1/09. Published on monbiot.com.

January 29, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 6 Comments