This video of a discussion between two American professors is educational not only on the important question of feminism, but also on the general decline of intellectual discourse in the West. They explain why American universities have become, as Dinesh d'Souza put it;
islands of repression in a sea of freedom
Much of what they say is relevant to the current storm on social media in the wake of Brexit. I suggest it may partly account for the division between "educated" and "uneducated" in the referendum vote. I would love to see a breakdown of the Remain vote (but no academic will research it and no productive person would waste the time or money) between what Americans call "liberal arts" graduates and those from harder disciplines such as STEM, law and accountancy. Most of our "education", particularly since Blair forced up the numbers attending "uni" (as those on whom it was wasted always call it) is actively damaging to its victims' intelligence. They come out stupider than they went in.
It's well worth listening to Paglia's explanation of the shallowness of current teaching; of how everything is explained in the context of very recent history. Students in the last twenty years have had little or no exposure to the full story of humanity's development and in particular to the history of ideas. Most great minds in history (particularly of course the odious "DWEMs" or "Dead White European Males") would be denied a platform in a modern "seat of learning". Paradoxically they see the West; imperfect but still undoubtedly the most advanced, liberal and tolerant group of human civilisations and the only place where their childishness would be tolerated – as the heart of all darkness.
"In comparison", as Hoff Sommers puts it, "to what?!"
Paglia is also fascinating on how the new wave of "intersectional" feminism is almost Victorian in its prudish denial of the darker side of human nature. Whereas her generation grew up in the context of World War II, the Holocaust, Soviet tyranny etc. the "snowflake generation" has convinced itself that modern university campuses – factually among the safest places on Earth – are as dangerous as war zones. Yes, ladies and gentleman, it's hilariously stupid. But it won't be so funny when they show up in your offices, shops and factories and accuse you of running a "rape culture" because young male employees try to ask their female counterparts out.
Faculty across the West has served up what Hoff Summers calls "warmed over Marxism" to convince our young people, for example, that what they call gender and I call sex is a "social construct". That we are all born bisexual and guided by a malformed society into one sexual orientation or the other. That – and here's the rub – if the programming can be changed so can mankind. That the whole world can be turned – all gods forbid – into a "safe space."
They joke at one point in the conversation that a famous third wave feminist should sue Yale for mal-education but I think they have a serious point. The greatest expense of my life was to pay for the Misses Paine to be taught by "warmed over Marxists" that everything I hold most dear is vile. I have faith in their abilities to see through it. They read widely, thank God. I believe in the power of their first-rate minds but what of their weaker brothers and sisters? Many will simply keep regurgitating warmed over Marxism as they lack the critical faculties ever to question what they were taught. Modern education is not designed to develop those faculties. Quite the contrary.
We over-forties are discovering this week what it's like to be set upon by the snowflake generation's famous "cry bullies". We were educated more robustly to begin with and have years of life experience. We know what a real problem feels like and therefore find it rather amusing. But we need to pay attention. The way some young people are speaking of their elders – particularly those of us who are WEMs without the decency to add the D – tells you a lot about what their warmed-over Marxist teachers have been telling them behind closed doors. They really do see themselves as new humans, on a higher plane to us. Their contempt for the lumpen-proletariat of course, is old cold Marxism. The people in the deprived regions of Britain where I grew up are well aware of that and voted accordingly.
Britain's move toward political independence (economic independence being, of course, a myth unless you have the North Korean model in mind) is an opportunity to build a better country. But it doesn't guarantee it. This video demonstrates that our North American brethren have many of the same problems without the malign influence of the Énarque elitists of Europe and their funding of the West's educationalist enemies.
Rather than simply rejoicing in the lamentations of our enemies (hard to resist right now) we need to move with intent towards their shrillest wailing. Not to laugh in their faces but listen, mark and use the data. We should trace the thinking of these intellectually spoiled children back to its hostile source in our universities. We must ensure that the enemies of the West are no longer allowed to go unchallenged there. For so long as there are publicly-funded institutions of learning, they must provide a balanced education. All points of view must be represented, but no ideology must be allowed to do agitprop on the taxpayers' dime.
Hoff Sommers refers to the "key commandment" of education she has followed in teaching philosophy;
Thou shalt teach both sides of the argument
That commandment should be a condition precedent to any public funding in education. The British state should no longer fund courses in what Paglia calls "micro-fields" – gender studies and the like. She calls for a reduction by 60% in such courses and a return to the core curriculum. I don't see a need to specify a percentage. People can study what they like in a free society, but at their own family's expense or with funding from philanthropists.
The referendum result shows the peoples contempt for these warmed-over Marxist elites. Freedom's enemies are self-identifying themselves everywhere by their furious reaction to our impertinence. Take their names.
I love a good Ted talk even though most share the leftist bias of Western academia. This one was particularly interesting. Consider this finding, in particular;
A year after losing the use their legs and a year after winning the Lotto, lottery winners and paraplegics are equally happy with their lives.
It seems shocking but is really just a confirmation of President Lincoln's wisdom that 'most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be'. This homely thought is revolutionary. If happiness is up to the individual, how can you justify the use of force to compel behaviours you think (by definition, wrongly) will make him or her happier?
The defectiveness of our pre-frontal cortex's 'experience simulator' when predicting 'hedonic impact' may explain why so many people buy lottery tickets despite being more likely to die in an accident on the way to the newsagent than to win. Perhaps the power of our 'experience simulator' may also explain why political debate changes so few minds?
For example, the NHS is - to me - clearly a life-threatening failure, yet a majority of Brits have synthesised such happiness around it they are convinced benighted foreigners live in miserable envy of its death factories. During the murderous, oppressive life of the Soviet Union, many of its citizens synthesised plenty of happiness too - and who can blame them? Yet how do we persuade people to support change if they are busy synthesising happiness around whatever outcome they are enjoying or enduring?
Consider also Professor Gilbert's conclusion that freedom of choice is the friend of 'natural happiness' but the enemy of the 'synthetic' variety. I would be worried about that, but perhaps I should just decide to be happy?
A pregnant Italian has a panic attack while on a training course in Britain organised by her employers. Her unborn daughter is ripped untimely from her womb by Essex Social Services. She is first put into care and then given up for adoption in Britain. All this is sanctioned by the Court of Protection despite the mother's court appearance in a stabilised condition at which she "impressed" the judge. Maybe it's because I am an ex-lawyer but the most sinister words to me are
she was deemed to have had no "capacity" to instruct lawyers
I have never heard of a fellow human more in need of a specialist lawyer than her. Anna Raccoon, a great campaigning blogger now lost to us often told horrifying tales of the secretive Court of Protection. Having spent my career as a business lawyer, I found them hard to believe. My own experience of our courts was of the bumbling, pompous, self-regarding inefficiency one must expect of any state monopoly, but never of malice or cruelty.
Is our law so dumb it can't infer a woman about to be assaulted in this manner might want a lawyer? Could one not have been appointed on that assumption? When back on her meds and able to appear sensibly in court, did our laws really give the state the power to take her child away permanently on the basis she 'might' have a relapse? After all, every mother 'might' develop a mental illness. Even an adoptive one hand-picked for compliance with state norms.
Can anyone really disagree with her lawyers' mild assertion that
...even if the council had been acting in the woman’s best interests, officials should have consulted her family beforehand and also involved Italian social services, who would be better-placed to look after the child.
For that matter, her family might have been better-placed to look after the child. Nowadays that doesn't even seem to occur to our servants turned masters. Our social services didn't even contact them. If there is a family member willing to accept responsibility, the involvement of social services should end. They need (if they are needed at all) to be reduced to the status of an emergency service, not regarded - as they now seem to be in Soviet Britain - as the default guardians of every child.
What kind of employer does this poor woman have that management even allowed social services to get near her? Why didn't they get her back to her family and the doctor treating her condition in Italy? If that was impracticable, did they feel no moral obligation to get her a British doctor who could sort out her meds? If that was impracticable, why did they not get her a lawyer? I think they should be named because I want to boycott them.
The victim of this miscarriage of British justice is bi-polar, but living normally with the aid of her meds. It could happen to any of us. Mental illness doesn't mean you cease to exist as a person. It doesn't mean you cease to have rights. It doesn't mean you cease to love your children. It doesn't mean you won't have a long life of grief if your baby is taken from you against your will and put forever beyond your reach. It does means you need protection, which is why the "Court of Protection" has that name. Sadly it seems to be a Newspeak name, if ever there was one.
A friend having shared some of his divorce paperwork with me recently I begin to fear that our Family Courts are worse than merely incompetent. Another friend, a judge specialising in immigration matters, told me her court was packed with leftists under the last government and that she was subjected to compulsory indoctrination. Still, I am reluctant to accept that any part of our judicial system is this heartlessly, brutally statist. I need to believe in the independence and neutrality of judges for without the Rule of Law we are lost. I could not expend so much effort on blogging if I had no hope.
One final, relatively minor, thought. Our society pretends to go to enormous lengths to respect and protect different cultures. How come this child can be denied her Italian heritage?
We are approaching a decisive moment. David Cameron nervously described Leveson's proposals to 'regulate' the British press as 'crossing the Rubicon' but as Paul Goodman says in the linked article his government is about to do it anyway. If people accept that government has a role in controlling commercial media (and 'regulate' is merely a statist euphemism for 'control'), then we are a blink away from wider controls. Already the daily fake 'scandals' about 'Twittter trolls' and 'Facebook bullies' are setting the scene.
Alea iacta estfor freedom of thought in Britain. It seems the police are already more interested in what we say than what we do. Barely a day goes by without some schmuck on Twitter being interrogated by the police and it's already a worse crime to beat up or kill someone if thinking certain thoughts at the time.
The Left have been making 'social' excuses for non thought-crime for generations. Our judges, educated in our solidly left-wing universities, now routinely spout sociological clap-trap while handing out derisory sentences. The notion of personal responsibility is dead. In a telling moment for me an academic at a conference last year (he claimed not to be a Marxist, but admitted most of his colleagues were) told me that my personal achievements were 'pure luck' and that I was not morally entitled to the proceeds.
It's the flip side of the same coin. The evil that criminals do is 'society's fault' and the state must address not their conduct, but the 'social problems' that 'cause' it. The success of honest citizens however is to the state's credit and it is entitled to the proceeds. Socialism, despite the abject failure of the greatest political experiment in history, with more than half of humanity ruled by Socialists in the last century, is back. Watch out, because this time the Leftists have learned guile.
The leader of HM Opposition feels it aids his electoral cause to use 'the S word' openly and to dog-whistle even worse by defending the reputation of his proudly-Marxist father. Ironically, given the Left's fixation on 'hate speech' and 'hate crime' Socialism is a doctrine based on hatred; class-hatred and envy-driven hatred of success. It should provoke exactly the same revulsion as its cousin; race-hate-based National Socialism. That it doesn't is because the Left has infiltrated our education system and our state broadcaster (tell me again why a free society needs one of those) so successfully. Now it's coming for the rest of us.
The consequence will be just as it was in the Soviet Union. The more talented or industrious will either contribute less for lack of incentive, or will become the criminals these idiots already think they are. This phenomenon was illustrated by two Communist-era proverbs I learned in my years in Poland;
"Standing up or lying down, it's a zloty an hour" and "You are stealing from your family if you're not stealing from the State."
Though I am sure the Labour Party will get most of the extra votes when we finally obey the ECHR order to restore the ballot to prisoners, that's not what the Left is up to. Nor are they claiming the credit for business-peoples' work just to damage our self-esteem. They are establishing as a 'given' in all political thought and policy-making the Marxist notion that individuals are mere flotsam on the tides of historical inevitability. They can only treat us as eggs to be callously cracked in their great steaming omelette of statism if they can convince themselves that we are trivial; that what we think, say and do and the choices we make don't matter. In short, that we are nothing in their great scheme of things.
To achieve the kind of sociopathic vileness that led their hero Hobsbawm (close family friend of the Millibands) to believe that twenty million deaths under Soviet rule would have been justified had the proposed communist utopia been created, or that it was sensible to drop a nuclear bomb on Israel (there's no anti-semite to rival a Marxist Jew) you need to reduce humans to ciphers. And to convince men and women that this is acceptable; that they really are mere pawns in a game that matters far more than the sacrifices made of them, you need to control their thoughts. It is no coincidence that the Left cannot abide the expression of non-Left views. It is not for nothing that they actively seek to make people fearful of non-Left thoughts. It is a Marxist necessity.
If our free will is irrelevant, our achievements mere luck and our wickedness attributable to our circumstances, then they are fully justified in using the immense power of the state to shape 'social forces', regardless of the human cost.
It is a short step from 'hate speech' to 'thought crime' and it's about to be taken. 'Regulation' of the press is just another brick in the wall.
Sir David Nicholson, were our society organised as the defunct British Communist Party to which he once belonged might desire, would now be put up against a wall and shot. In our wet British version of Soviet Healthcare, however, he avoids all responsibility for the NHS's lethal failures. After all, there are plenty more patients where those came from.
After four-and-a-half intense and wonderful years as CEO of Groupon, I've decided that I'd like to spend more time with my family. Just kidding, I was fired today ... As CEO I'm accountable.
I rather suspect that Mason has put more efficient and vigorous effort into the success of Groupon than Nicholson has to that of the NHS. Yet he was held accountable by his board on behalf of his shareholders and accepted it with grace. Good for him. He failed this time, but with an attitude like that, I am sure he will yet do great things. I would hire him, if I owned a suitable company. I wouldn't employ Nicholson to clean my boots.
So is the success or failure of a company that organises online discounts more important than that of a whole nation's healthcare system? Should the bosses of an internet start-up be stricter with their CEO than Parliament is with the head of the NHS? What other conclusion, exactly, could a man from Mars infer from these two items of news?
Incidentally, Nicholson claimed expenses of over £50,000 a year on top of a basic salary of £200,000 and benefits in kind of £37,600 at a time when he was in charge of health service "cuts". His current wife, twenty years his junior and a former graduate intern in his office, is the £155,000 a year chief executive of Birmingham Children's Hospital. He wrote references for her during her meteoric rise through the NHS management ranks. Ain't life grand in the public service?
The NHS may not have adopted the iron discipline of the Soviet system, but it seems to have all the other elements. Generally, I prefer gentler market systems of accountability, but for aparatchiks like Nicholson, I could make an exception.
Nicola Clark, mother of an actress with Asperger's, thinks its "offensive" that healthy actors should play the parts of the mentally ill. When did Britons become so prone to take offence? Ah yes, that would be when they worked out that the left was prepared to frame laws to prevent their "offence." Laws that privilege them vis-a-vis the dwindling "communities" of the independent-minded, the contented and the brave. Mrs Clark's daughter comments;
It is not just mentally disabled actors who lose out when non-disabled people are employed to act them. Audiences think they are getting an authentic portrayal of a mentally disabled person, but they're not. It's not like putting on a different accent or learning what it was like to be raised in a different era. You can't understand what it is like to have a mental disability unless you've really lived with it. When non-disabled people try to portray us, they tend to fall back on stereotypes that have done our community so much harm in the past.
That, dear girl, is called acting. It is an art that requires, above all, empathy; the ability to put yourself, in imagination, inside another personality. Acting is not about the audience "learning what it was like to be raised in a different era" or indeed, necessarily, about learning anything. Acting is an art and, like all art, is about the human condition. You don't have
to be authentically fey to play Tinkerbell or to have experienced Auschwitz to portray a victim of the Shoah. As someone suffering with an illness of which a key symptom is "limited
empathy", you can be forgiven. Your mother however, by your own logic can't understand your point and is, therefore, merely on the make.
That it is now considered offensive for a white actor to "black up" is ridiculous. Acting is about portraying artistic truths about humanity. Only the simple minded, or the craftily malicious exploiting the simple minded, could confuse that with banal truths about the actor. Olivier's Othello was a triumph; a triumph these idiots would have prevented. Having killed those opportunities for artistic expression they are now determined to ensure there is no repetition of my favourite performance in the history of cinema; Al Pacino as blind ex-serviceman Frank Slade in Scent of a Woman. Not to mention Dustin Hoffman's performance in Rain Man.
As always, when you have accepted one piece of leftist pseudo-logic (perhaps out of kindly, if sickeningly condescending, concern for some group or other's hurt feelings) they stuff more down your gentle, kindly throats. Wake up people! They will not stop until your every thought is bound like Gulliver in Lilliput. Stir now, before myriad threads of insubstantial logic allow them to restrain your every action.
There is no idiocy the Guardian would not advance if only slotted into their banal template of "X-ism giving offence to the X community." It gets worse.
In another sign that Clark has launched her campaign at a turning point, Channel 4 will next week launch Cast Offs, a comedy drama about the making of a Survivor-type reality TV programme featuring physically disabled characters. Created by Jack Thorne, who has written for Shameless and Skins, Tony Roche, who has written for The Thick Of It,
and Alex Bulmer, the programme features thalidomide victims, dwarfism
and the face-disfiguring cherubism, a rare genetic disorder.
Well done, the British left. You have revived the freak show. I am sure the participants will feel the same gratitude their predecessors had for those kindly Victorian entrepreneurs. At least, when turning their misfortunes to profit, they didn't ghettoise them as a separate "community".
The natural father of Peter Connelly, "Baby P", with no apparent sense of irony, is suing Haringey Council for negligence in the discharge of its duties. The council's social workers, he says, failed to protect his son. For shame.
Relationships end, of course. Fathers often have to leave their children in the care of their ex-partners. Indeed, due to what Harriet Harman might (if she were at least consistent in her foolishness) call "institutional sexism" on the part of the family courts, men can seldom obtain custody. Yet if ever a father could have done so, it was this man. If there exists a mother less fitted to the care of her child than Tracey Connelly, I hope never to meet her. His father must have known the true character of Peter's mother. Knowing it, how could he leave his son in her care?
Peter's parents lived together for the first three months of his
tragic life. After their relationship ended, and the monsters who
killed Peter moved in, the father had continued access to his son.
Given what we know now, it is hard to conceive that a loving parent
could have failed to notice his distress. A loving father with
occasional sole charge of the boy had more opportunity to clean off the
chocolate smeared on Peter's injuries than a social worker. We
are told that Peter reached out to him, screaming "Daddy, Daddy!" when
handed back to his tormentors shortly before he died. The best that can
be said for this hopeful litigant is that Peter thought him a better carer than his mum.
It's hard to think him more than slightly better.
So, the more true his accusations against Haringey's social services, the greater his own guilt. If he is innocent because he was deceived by Ms Connelly (who would have to be considerably more cunning than she looks), so much more so (given their lesser knowledge of her and access to the child) are the social workers.
If I were him, I would be too tormented with guilt to function, let alone to calculate the monetary value of my loss. But this product of the Welfare State is made of sterner stuff than me. He confidently denies all suggestions that he might be to blame. He believed his ex's explanation for Peter's injuries; that the child was "clumsy," though he had opportunities to observe Peter himself. Are we to believe he didn't know his son was on the child protection register? Are we to believe he could not discern the true nature of the brutes who lived with Peter and his mother?
I am sure he is as sincere in his claim as in his desire for £400,000 in damages. It makes sense in the warped logic of underclass Britain. How could he think himself to blame when the Welfare State denies the very notion of personal responsibility? The "caring" apparatus of the "progressive" British state deplores the concept, as witness the agonising over the cruel fate, not of the dead child, but of his killers. After all, they are not responsible either. They are the products of their social environment; mere automata to be successfully reprogrammed if only the taxpayers would not be so mean about employing enough social workers. Haringey Social Services may not like being sued on this occasion, but they share Peter's father's underlying objective; to supplant the responsibility of the parent with that of the state. If he wins his claim, they will soon realise they have been given a stick with which to beat the ungenerous taxpayers.
Not only the jobs, but the ideological integrity of its employees depends upon the notion that the citizen is a passive product of his environment; that he can't take care of himself, can't educate his children, can't look after his family without their benevolent intervention. By their own logic, as they are the only truly responsible people, this man's claim should succeed. But by the same logic, since in truth the health and welfare of every human depends on self-reliance and the loving support of family and friends, we are all damned to some (let's hope lesser) variant of Peter's fate.
Since man first evolved, have any decent parents doubted that their offspring needed "emotional support?" Isn't that, inter alia, what parents are for?
If Britain really has the unhappiest children in the developed world, perhaps it has something to do with the need, in many cases, for both parents to have at least one job? How else, these days, are ordinary mortals to service a typical mortgage and pay the taxes which have doubled under Labour? Perhaps it has something to do with the incessant messages of doom (war on terror, climate change, paedophile scares, identity theft) used by this Government to make the governed docile? It might even have something to do with most of our children attending indoctrination centres schools where the teachers struggle to maintain the merest pretence of order. In short, it might have much to do with the failings of the British State. So who does NCH think should provide "emotional support?" Go on, guess.
It's not news that children (or indeed any humans) need emotional support. That's why we have families and friends. It IS news that there is still someone dumb enough to suggest the State Apparatus might provide it.
I googled "NCH governance" to find who runs this charity. To my initial surprise the "chair" is not one of the great and the good of the NuLab Scottish Raj. She is (if I have the right Pam Chesters) an Englishwoman on the Conservative candidates list. She was formerly a CEO of a BP subsidiary; is on the board of the Royal Free Hampstead Hospital Trust; chairs the English Churches Housing Group, a social (as opposed, presumably, to an antisocial) landlord and is on the board of the Riverside Housing Group.
Why does such a woman lend her name to such piffle?
...held many non-executive and advisory positions in the voluntary and
housing sectors, as well as in the Social Exclusion Unit, the Office of
the Deputy Prime Minister, the Department of Health and the Audit
Just how big is the British State? Its paid agents are everywhere. The official statistics as to state employees merely scratch the surface, even before you consider how many people in "private" employment serve the government, rather than their employers (collecting VAT, serving as "compliance officers" etc.). When next you read an article in the Guardian about an "independent" figure from a charity headed by a Tory mug promoting the role of the Socialist State, please consider whether she is, in practice, an apparatchik on the State payroll.
The findings would be similar if this study were to be repeated in Britain. Leftists think of themselves as "caring" and concerned for the "most vulnerable members of society." In practice, this comes down to not trusting people to look after themselves and to forcing strangers to pay for this supposed inadequacy.
Growing up in Britain, with the then-young Welfare State merging into the everyday scene, I often heard it used as an excuse for not taking personal responsibility for others; in short for meanness. This was not just a matter of people passing beggars in the street. Ordinary families rapidly lost their natural sense of responsibility for each other, in ways that would be utterly shocking to those from "less civilised" countries.
Just as Scrooge asked those seeking a charitable contribution "Are there no workhouses?", so Leftists feel absolved from reaching into their own pockets by the fact that - at their instigation - the Government forcibly reaches into everyones'.
In a recent interview, Gordon Brown said he can't understand how people can know how little it costs to educate an African child and yet not want to do it. Of course, many who know do something about it. They reach into their pockets and give of their own earnings. Brown's instinct as a Socialist, however, is to be "generous" with the money of others. His apparent belief that giving taxpayers' money to Africa makes him a good person is a perversion of the idea of charity. By any rational analysis he is not a kind man, but a thief. The Robin Hood myth has a lot to answer for.
Nor is the finding that American Leftists have higher-than-average incomes surprising. John Kerry is America's typical Leftist, just as Polly Toynbee is Britain's. Neither has the remotest understanding of life as an ordinary working Joe. Those who grew up among the working classes are far less likely to see them as weaklings in need of lifelong care. They know ordinary working people are as strong and capable of looking after their families as anyone else. When you do find a working-class Socialist, you will find a cynic on the make; a Stalin, a Prescott. All the true believers are from the upper echelons of society.
So appalling is British public education, working class people are often just as intelligent as the middle and upper classes. As the first member of my family ever to reach higher education, I have been shocked by the stupidity of many in my own "learned" profession, who would never have made it if they had been born into ordinary families. Men I worked with on building sites and in factories when I was a student would, intellectually, knock many of them into a cocked hat.
If there is any sensible class-distinction to be made in Britain (which is doubtful) perhaps it is that those who grow up isolated from economic reality by wealth and privilege are more likely to struggle to cope with life's inevitable misfortunes. They project their own fears of falling off life's tight-rope onto others, who don't actually share them at all.
More often than not, Leftism is driven by mere condescension based on ignorance.