Daily Archives: May 22, 2009


Neo-Cons Pretending To Be Libertarians II – Paul Staines

There is a lively debate in comments on my posting on neo-con bloggers pretending they are libertarians. Prominent among them, of course, is Paul Staines who blogs as Guido Fawkes. Paul has commented thus:

I have not ever flirted with racism. I have always been anti-racist. Nutter.

I would argue that proposing any kind of arrangement with the BNP is to flirt with racism. This is from The Guardian of 31 May 1986.

Tory student leader in ‘ racist ‘ party link / Paul Delarie-Staines of FCS attempts to form pact with British National Party in Hull

By David Rose

A leader of the Federation of Conservative Students wrote to an organiser of the British National Party proposing joint ‘direct action’ to disrupt the meetings of leftwing students. Secrecy, he emphasised, was essential: ‘The Reds would simply go wild if they got to hear of a BNP-FCS link. I would personally be in danger of being expelled from the Conservative Party.’

The author of the letter is Mr Paul Delarie-Staines, the chairman of the federation’s 50-strong branch at the Humberside college of Higher Education. Mr Delarie-Staines, who is in his first year of a degree course in business information studies, wrote on May 22 to Mr Ian Walker, a BNP organiser in Hull.

He was, he said, against several of the aims of the BNP, which campaigns for the repatriation of black citizens. Several of its members have been convicted of offences under the Race Relations Act, and others for crimes of violence against ethnic minorities. Its leader, Mr John Tyndall, is a former chairman of the National Front.

Mr Delarie-Staines said he did not share the BNP view on immigration: as a member of the ‘libertarian’ faction of the FCS he advocated the free movement of labour, albeit with the caveat that ‘you come here to work – or starve. ‘

He went on: ‘I share a lot of your objectives.’ These included a return to leadership and statesmanship, the abolition of the welfare state, and ‘the elimination of Communism in Britain – the mass media, the trade unions, and the schoolroom. ‘

Mr Delaire-Staines continued: ‘Nevertheless, even though we have our differences, I know a lot of BNP people at college do support the FCS (some are members of the FCS). I can certainly envisage some degree of cooperation.

‘For instance, we are moving away from just the normal political debate and towards more direct action – anti-Communist slogans on bridges, disrupting the leftist meetings by posing as leftists and then causing trouble, and also convincing individual leftists of the error of their ways.

‘Perhaps members of the BNP would care to join us in our anti-leftist activities. We can arrange a meeting to discuss possible joint future activities. ‘

Other examples of Mr Delaire-Staines work reached the Guardian, including a number of songs. One, entitled FCS Bootboys, reads: ‘Gas them all, gas them all, the Tribune group trendies and all. Crush Wedgwood Benn and make glue from his bones, Burn the broad left in their middle class homes.

‘Yes we’re saying goodbye to the Left, as safe in their graveyards they rest. ‘Cos they’ll get no further, we’ll stop with murder, the bootboys of FCS. ‘

In a letter to a friend, Mr Delaire-Staines said that he had been on a ‘community arts course – well. not exactly community arts, more spraypainting a bridge at 3am. Quite good fun really, ducking out of sight of passing police cars’

Mr Delaire-Staines told the Guardian that he had not meant violence by direct action at leftist meetings, only ‘causing as much noise as possible’. He said that he had tried to forge links with the BNP because ‘we share their anti-Communist view’.

He added: ‘They’re not far-right. They’re just racists, they believe in one colour. ‘

Mr John Barrow, the national chairman of FCS and a Lambeth councillor, said that Mr Delaire-Staines was ‘a bit silly. I wouldn’t hold it against him. I’m sure he’ll grow out of it.’ After hearing extracts from the letter to the BNP he added. ‘He’s absolutely right that he’s in danger of being thrown out of the Conservative Party.’

Mr James Goodsman, the Conservative Central Office official responsible for the FCS, said: ‘If the evidence comes my way I will certainly look into it.

Readers may make up their own mind whether Paul Staines or I appears to be the nutter.

I was myself a student in the 1980’s and I rmember the FCS in their full glory. I remember watching almost the entire National leadership of FCS in St Andrews one day standing on chairs and singing “Tomorrow belongs to me” while giving Nazi salutes. I can certainly confirm that jokes about gas chambers were common in FCS circles, in exaclty the kind of vein referred to in the song quoted in The Guardian article, whether or not it is correctly attributed to Paul Staines.

The Federation of Conservative Students in the mid 1980s was not the sort of organisation which would be immediately attractive to an anti-racist activist. The Conservative Party eventually moved against it because of its embarassing excesses.

Paul Staines may be telling the truth, that he has never been a racist. But anybody who proposes an alliance with the BNP is certainly “Flirting with racism”.

As to his claim to have always been an anti-racist, that is to claim more than simply to claim not to be racist. To suggest any alliance with the BNP is certainly a rather eccentric thing for an anti-racist to do.

I would cllaim I have always been an anti-racist. In the early 1980s, for example, I was a member of the Anti Apartheid Movement and the Anti Nazi League. I have plenty of witnesses to that, and most reasonable people would take that as evidence tending to show I am an anti-racist. What evidence does Paul Staines have to offer us of his anti-racist activism?

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Neo-Cons are not Libertarians

There has been a fashion in the blogosphere which needs to be challenged. Blogs of an extreme right wing cast have started to call themselves “Libertarian”.

Brian Mickelthwait has attempted to compile a list of British “Libertarian” blogs. In the vast majority of cases, libertarian here plainly means “right wing conservative” or “neo-con”.

http://www.brianmicklethwait.com/index.php/weblog/comments/uk_libertarian_bloggers_20/

The peculiar thing is, that these neo-con “Libertarians” have, by and large, little or no concern for civil liberties. Very few of these “Libertarians” blogged about the shooting of Jean Charles De Menezes, against detention without trial for 42 days, about police violence at the G20 summit. These “Libertarians” do not want to see Guantanamo closed, and are quite happy with extraordinary rendition and the use of torture. Not only will you search the large majority of them in vain for any condemnation of the use of torture in the “War on Terror”, but some of them – like Charles Crawford, for instance – have actively blogged in favour of the use of torture.

Libertarians in favour of detention without trial? Libertarians for Guantanamo?

Libertarians for Torture?

Plainly the word “Libertarian” is being misappropriated by these people, and stretched beyond any natural meaning in the English language. Some of the most prominent “libertarians”, like Paul Staines, have not only been completely silent on civil liiberties, but have flirted with racism in the past. Staines’ site is very often homophobic, and is not the only one on Mickelthwait’s list.

Libertarians against gay rights?

Libertarians against Immigration?

The explanation of the misuse of the word libertarian lies in the United States. A maxim that the only role for the state was national defence became popularised by disciples of the Hayek economic school. The “National defence” get-out allows for Guantanamo, torture and shooting Brazilian electricians, and became a fetish. The idea then appealed to those who favour no tax and no social safety net, or at least strong moves in that direction. It finally emerged as a fully fledged philosophical concept thus:

“I am strong, I am capable. I can survive in a highly competitive environment and pile up loads of money. And a strong State can ruthlessly suppress and keep down the less fortunate, both nationally and internationally, to defend me and my money.”

That is the empty core of “Libertarianism” in its modern US definition. It has moved on from the pamphlet by the great libertarian Piotr Kropotkin, “Is Prison Necessary?”, to a position that prisons are one of the very few things which are necessary to a state.

This is one of my favourite pieces of Kropotkin:

Legislators confounded in one code the two currents of custom of which we have just been speaking, the maxims which represent principles of morality and social union wrought out as a result of life in common, and the mandates which are meant to ensure external existence to inequality.

Customs, absolutely essential to the very being of society, are, in the code, cleverly intermingled with usages imposed by the ruling caste, and both claim equal respect from the crowd. “Do not kill,” says the code, and hastens to add, “And pay tithes to the priest.” “Do not steal,” says the code, and immediately after, “He who refuses to pay taxes, shall have his hand struck off.”

Such was law; and it has maintained its two-fold character to this day. Its origin is the desire of the ruling class to give permanence to customs imposed by themselves for their own advantage. Its character is the skillful commingling of customs useful to society, customs which have no need of law to insure respect, with other customs useful only to rulers, injurious to the mass of the people, and maintained only by the fear of punishment.

Kropotkin was jailed all over Europe for his beliefs, but remained a man of great courage. Back in Russia in 1920 he wrote to Lenin:

Vladimir Ilyich, your concrete actions are completely unworthy of the ideas you pretend to hold.

Is it possible that you do not know what a hostage really is ?” a man imprisoned not because of a crime he has committed, but only because it suits his enemies to exert blackmail on his companions? … If you admit such methods, one can foresee that one day you will use torture, as was done in the Middle Ages

You don’t have to agree with all Kropotkin’s ideas to be a libertarian. But Piotr Kropotkin and John Stuart Mill are great exemplars of libertarian thought, and their attitudes to people and to society are fundamentally different to those of Dick Cheney.

Economic liberalism plus social authoritarianism does not equal libertarianism. The idea is absurd.

The attempt of neo-cons to rebrand as libertarians must be continually challenged.

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Jump, You Bastards, Jump!

Nadine Dorries, the MP who lied about where she lives to claim her constituency home as her second home and get the taxpayer to pay for it, is tryng to be feminine and vulnerable and make us feel sorry for her. The atmosphere at Westminster is so gloomy, she tells Radio 4, that everyone fears a suicide.

Well, Westminster Bridge is very handy. Jump, you bastards, jump!

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