Discipline, freedom and pure fucking blind obedience

One of the main reasons I have often despised conservatism in my life is the perception I’ve always had that conservatives were the enemies of freedom, as was often demonstrated by how often they would line up in support of cultural authoritarian throughout the 20th century as well as the current century. However, ever since my transition to socialist political thought, I now realize that one of the most insidious things about conservatism is, in fact, the way that they pretend to be in support of freedom, they way they bastardize the meaning of freedom in a very Orwellian fashion (which is ironic, considering how much conservatives love to quote Orwell on freedom). A good example of this that I stumbled onto recently is a video by the popular conservative YouTube channel known as Prager University, which is just  organization that is not actually an accredited university but nonetheless calls itself one for some reason. The video in question was titled “Discipline = Freedom” and was narrated by a man named Jocko Willink, a retired Navy SEAL officer who hosts a self-help podcast dealing with topics about leadership, discipline and willpower.

The video is littered all manner of fairly bog-standard standard, self-help tropes but from a conservative and disciplinarian perspective, the funny thing being that the speaker rejects motivation as fickle and unreliable while also basically employing the rhetoric of motivational self-help. What sticks out for me though is the premise laid out in the video as pertains to “extreme ownership”, which is basically just your bog standard pop spiel about self-motivation with a subtle dash of Social-Darwinism, Nietzschean master morality, and the conservative worship of authority. Let me illustrate this with a quote from the video:

Let other people blame their parents, their boss, or the system. Let weaker people complain that the world isn’t fair. You are the leader of your life: take ownership of everything in it.

The level of trickery and deception being employed here should not be lost on you. Simultaneously he is teaching you that you are the master of your life and that you have no right to question the system around you. If you entertain the idea that the system is an impedient to your freedom or your well-being in any way whatsoever, that’s supposed to be taken as weakness. If we think about it for even a minute we would consider that psychologically training ourselves to obey the status quo because we have to do so isn’t really freedom, or self-mastery, or self-ownership, you’re just letting the system take ownership of you and your mind while tricking yourself into thinking that you’re just taking in charge of your life as a free and independent agent. “Freedom” in conservative parlance only means, as one young communist remarked, the freedom to conform to society and do what you’re told when you’re told to do it. This to me becomes all the more ironic when you take into account the fact that conservatives, since about 2015 or so, have been constantly pushing themselves as the victims of a system characterized by supposed liberal or left-wing domination of the institutions, some even still trying to bill themselves as the new counterculture. If we were to apply the pseudo-Stoic logic we’re presented here to conservatives, why are they in any position to be whining about the very system that they support suddenly turning against them in the way that fickle, almost anarchic market forces tend to do under capitalism? Shouldn’t they be taking responsibility for everything, even if it’s not their fault? Aren’t they the masters of their own lives at all times and in all circumstances? It’s here that much of the self-help rhetoric employed here can be exposed as self-serving woo whose only purpose is to berate people for being sick of a system that is actively hindering their prosperity and freedom.

The Social-Darwinism is also quite noticeable, and here it ironically serves as a way of inducing conformity to the system by appealing to your sense of strength vs the supposed weakness of others. You are told not to be like those wretches who take issue with rampant inequality, unfairness and suffering much of which is actually in our power to stop, and instead to pursue strength and self-mastery by keeping your head, never questioning the system and silencing the voice in your head that tells you that something’s wrong with the world around you and that it can changed. This concept of “extreme ownership” can be framed as a reflection of the conventional understanding of master morality and slave morality as per Nietzsche’s philosophy – master morality is said to originate from the strength of the aristocratic “noble man” while slave morality is said to originate from the weakness and ressentiment of his subjects. When the speaker says, “let weaker people complain that the world isn’t fair”, he is palpably invoking the idea of ressentiment, that the “weak” only criticize the society they live in because of envy and bitterness. It is notable that such analysis invariably fails to ask the question of what create said envy and bitterness. But this is immaterial to the speaker, because it interferes with the idea that you are, at all times, the master of your life and your surroundings, even in circumstances when this is objectively not the case.

The conservative view of freedom is both inconsistent and observably a mask for the desire for unquestioning obedience to the system. I am not saying that you cannot make the argument for discipline generating mental freedom (indeed, to the videos credit, it sometimes comes close to doing so, though never surpasses the realm of idealistic self-help axioms), in fact you might apply Pierre Joseph Proudhon’s liberty-authority dialectic as per The Principle of Federation in support of such efforts. But in this proposal of “extreme ownership”, discipline is not the seed of mental and spiritual freedom, but instead the means by which to silence the voice of such freedom, the spark of doubt and critique that would lead the individual against the capitalist system and against conservative ideology and morality, which of course Prager University wouldn’t want. Since I sometimes see similar rhetoric to the speaker being spouted by Left Hand Path types, and indeed I’ve seen Michael W. Ford parrot similar rhetoric in his videos, I would advise that we be very careful, and take a critical look at any proposal that tells us that to see the world as unjust or unfair for any reason is a sign of weakness, because such talking points are not bold statements against the establishment but in fact music to the ears of the system and its ruling elites. You will not find freedom by telling yourself to keep your head down as though it’s all your fault rather than raise your voice (and, eventually, your sword) against the enemy.

Some lessons from Brexit

I’ve been meaning to get my thoughts on the Brexit situation for quite a few months now, but I wasn’t totally sure what direction I should take with it as a post. In the end, I decided to sepearate what I’ve been thinking to different sections within this post to get what I’ve been thinking down in a more organized fashion.

Here we go.

 

A No Deal Brexit is inevitable

So for the last three years we have been in a peculiar state as regards Brexit. Rather simply leave the European Union, we have been struggling to craft a deal that would allow us to leave the European Union in a formal but incomplete sense, and far from do strictly what the voters want we have been trying to craft a deal that satisfies parliament. This, combined with the chaotic political developments concerning Conservative leadership as well as the snap election from 2017, has resulted in a quagmire with ostensibly no end in sight. For the last seven months or so it has become clearer than ever that the government is incapable of coming to a compromise that would prove congenial to the goal of ultimately leaving the European Union. The British Parliament was given the opportunity to vote not only on Theresa May’s horrifically bad deal but also many other deals that either get us closer to leaving or hinder the possibility entirely, and as far as I recall parliament voted just about every proposed deal down. At that moment it struck me that, maybe, parliament is incapable of deciding on what it wants to do, it cannot agree to a deal, and if that’s the case then to me it struck me that we are probably going to leave the European Union without a deal.

Of course, while it might be the only way forward for Brexit supporters like myself, it isn’t the only option for the establishment. With most of the other deals being non-congenial to the ultimate goal, the two main options at present are to either just cut our way out of the European Union in a No Deal Brexit or to hold a second referendum in the hopes that voters will change the outcome leading to a possible cancellation of Brexit. There are those who would maintain that we can simply stop Brexit entirely, as the Liberal Democrats in particular seem to think we can and should, but in my view that would not work out. All it would do is make the country a laughing stock in the sense that it gave Brussels a giant middle finger but they can’t even commit to it. More recently, it looks likely that a second referendum might not even happen anyway since the government appears to have rejected that option entirely.

Thus to me it seems clear: if we can’t cancel Brexit, and we aren’t going to hold a second referendum, then a No Deal Brexit to me seems to be inevitable. And, to be honest, it is probably going to be the only decision that makes sense in spite of all of the uncertainties and the possible negative consequences of doing so, and in the end it will be worth it considering a break from the European Union is the only way any socialist, or even simply social-democratic, agenda is going to be implemented without constant obstruction. Left-wingers who insist that we remain in the EU are fundamentally deluded if they think the European Union will allow their ideas to fully manifest. The European Union will not allow countries to pursue large scale nationalization on the grounds that they will interpret it as distorting competition, which is just a fancy way of saying it redirects capital away from private market forces and into the hands of the public sector. And considering the fact that the EU forced the social-democratic Syriza government in Greece to implement austerity measures, despite the will of the Greek people, we can assume that the EU will not take too kindly to whatever Jeremy Corbyn has in mind, let alone any actual socialist program. So, in the long run, in order to get what we want, we’re just going to have to take the No Deal Brexit and fight it out in our own country, for it will be the only way to complete the work of British popular and democratic sovereignty.

 

Bipartisan unity is a hollow fetish

If there’s one thing we never hear enough of when it comes to Brexit, it’s this talking point of unity. Namely, how we should be find a way to unite a divided country, with the unstated implication of this being that broad cross-ideological (or bipartisan) collaboration is the way forward. I fear the dictionary lacks the verbiage that would allow me to describe how stupid I believe this is. Take stock of the history of the Brexit talks, and then consider the fact that the Tories and Labour have within the last few months sought out cross-party dialogue, only for talks to collapse. In fact, just today Theresa May offered a proposal for a second referendum that failed to impress even the advocates for a People’s Vote. If this isn’t the easiest way to prove that any talk of unity is a pile of dog shit I don’t know what is. The unity that we speak about in regards to the Brexit situation is impossible. You cannot get any agreement between the pro-EU liberals and socdems and the hardened Brexiteers poised to take over the Conservative Party, and there is no compromise that can be cooked up between their respective positions that can get anywhere. Theresa May tried to get the best of both worlds before, and it was met with rejection by just about every political party as well as the voting public, and failed to pass every time it was put to vote in parliament.

Also, am I really hearing this right? The liberal media is talking about the need to unite the country? Really? After the Remain side that they by and large supported spent the referendum attacking voters who wanted to Leave, mocking the working class for intending to reject EU membership and even resorting to anti-white racism in some cases? They helped contribute to dividing the country (which, of course they would, just as the other side would, for all sides seek to oppose one another as they should in any serious political struggle), but now they want us to talk about how best to unite the country? Are you sure? If you believe that I have some moderate rebels I can show you. The only reason this talking point of unity is leveraged is power: the establishment wants cross-ideological collaboration because it means the possibility of securing an outcome of the Brexit deal that might be more suitable for a ruling class that, by and large, is still invested in European capital.

More broadly though, what business does the Remain side have uniting with the Leave side? What business to political tribes who have no business collaborating with each other have to do so? There’s nothing more insidious to me than the idea that some can claim to be above the political dichotomies that they exist within. Say if you were a right-winger, meaning you support a capitalist economy based in free markets and their corresponding property relations, as well as maybe a few more conservative social policies and neo-imperialism in the thrid world. What business do you have to be bipartisan with me, a guy who wants a society based in the democratic ownership of the means of production as well as the workplace, not to mention production based on need instead of profit, which means surpassing capitalism and doing away with the contradictions therein? Why should I work with you other than if you’re on the same side as me as regards freedom of speech or something (which is the only subject that might, just might, hold such collaborative potential)? And we can even apply this within either wing of the spectrum, which shows the error of the cries of “left unity”: why should I ally myself with someone who supports racial identitarianism dressed as progress, why should ally myself with someone who supports nationalism disguised as socialism, why should I ally myself who opposes democracy and favours unitary state authority?

The simple truth that those who bleat about cross-ideological unity have to face is that the defining characteristic of politics, the component that contextualizes it the most, is conflict. Politics is not about bringing two sides together. It’s about one side of politics defeating the other. Politics is conflict, it is struggle, you might even say it’s war by another means. And many of the things we value the most about Western Civilization were not discussed or compromised over, but instead they were fought for. Liberals who make this mistake will continue to persist in delusion praying for the siren song of slavery that they call unity. This is not to say that unity of purpose is not a virtue, and indeed the radical left has often paid bitterly for their lack of harmony and unity of purpose. It simply says that we cannot be expected to corrall two tribes of people with fundamentally different interests and goals and expect them to be on the same side.

 

Centrism doesn’t work

One of the most striking developments of British politics this year was the emergence of two new parties: Change UK (also known as The Independent Group) on the one hand, and the Brexit Party on the other. It is the former that we will address first. Change UK is the name given to a party formed by a small group of MPs who defected from the Labour Party, as well as the Conservative Party. The ex-Labour MPs cite increasing anti-semitism in the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn’s inability to handle Brexit while the ex-Conservative MPs cited that the Conservatives were poised to become the party of Brexiteers to the exclusion of its Remainers. Change UK then can be framed as a “centrist” project, uniting contingents of the two major parties in order to form a voice of moderation and progress. Of course let’s ignore the fact that the two sides that have come together were already the same anyway: both of them neoliberal supporters of the EU who are all just fine with austerity and privatization (the ex-Labour MPs consisting chiefly of pro-EU Blairites), that would be bad for their narrative.

Change UK has been, right from the get go, an unbelievable disaster. They are doing exceptionally poorly in polls, never getting any higher than 4% in voting intention, and to that effect they are second only to UKIP in terms of nationwide unpopularity. They seem reticent to give us a clear idea about what sort of policies they want, with one member Anna Soubry repeatedly dodging questions about policy by insisting that that’s not what their party is about, and they’ve even gone so far as to refuse to stand in by-elections because they consider them a threat to democracy. But more tellingly, for a party that was started in party as a reaction to bigotry within the Labour Party (which, while I don’t believe the party is institutionally anti-semitic like its opponents claim, we may have reason to believe Corbyn himself just might be), within hours of its launch the party was under fire for racist statements made by its members. Angela Smith referred to non-whites as “funny tinged” on national television, while Ali Sadjady had to resign because of comments about “Romanian pickpockets”, and Joseph Russo resigned after racist comments about black women. It’s little wonder that people don’t take them seriously. How can you take them seriously when they appear to be such rank hypocrites whose only purpose is to announce to the world their utter bourgeois class character.

But even if it weren’t for they brazen bigotry, there is no reason to assume their brand of ill-defined, feel-good liberalism was going to work in the current climate. Theresa May, the compromiser-in-chief, is a national failure, with her government being the first government in British history to be held in contempt of parliament. Hillary Clinton, the avatar of Third Way of neoliberalism in the 2016 US presidential election, failed to defeat Donald Trump. Matteo Renzi was forced to resign as Prime Minister of Italy following a constitutional referendum. Emmanuel Macron, who won the French elections in 2017, is now deeply unpopular in France in part because of his handling of the Yellow Vests. The liberal project commonly referred to as “centrism” is ill-equipped to face up to the deteriorating conditions and unravelling contradictions of contemporary capitalism – to be able to fight it would require a wholesale re-evaluation, nay, rejection of neoliberal ideology and a transcendence of the liberal framework, a task that Change UK simply aren’t up to.

Beyond that, however, the real reason for the failure of “centrism” is that the premise that we call centrism is an almost complete myth. The concept of centrism only makes sense within the liberal framework of politics, that of bourgeois democracy, that is to say wherein the lines of division are not based on class interest but instead on how different sectors of the bourgeoisie or petit-bourgeoisie believe capitalism should operate in confluence with an array of transient social issues. This framework is why many people still believe liberalism to be a left-wing ideology, even though it isn’t. The “left” and the “right” in this framework represent two shades of modern liberal hegemony, with the “left” representing moderate neoliberalism, social liberalism and liberal-progressivism and the right representing a conservatism that is itself based on neoliberalism and/or classical liberalism, all of which represent capitalist ideologies and operate within a capitalist framework. Centrism, therefore, can be reduced entirely to another form of liberalism, as is rather apparent when you examine the talking points of “centrists” to find that a large number of them support much of liberalism, but with a stronger . In addition to this centrism cannot be counted as a coherent political tradition on the grounds that it has no theoretical tradition that it springs from. Liberalism can be traced to a well-defined intellectual tradition that dates back to thinkers like John Locke, John Stuart Mill, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Voltaire and others. Socialism can be traced to a well-defined intellectual tradition that be traced not only to Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, but also to utopians like Henri du Saint-Simon and anarchists like Pierre Joseph Proudhon. Social democracy would be the tradition that emerges after the fact, stemming the ideas of thinkers like Ferninand Lassalle. Even conservatism (which I consider to be loose and incoherent) can be traced to some intellectual tradition, chiefly to the High Tories of old or to men like Edmund Burke. Centrism, however, does not have this. It’s just a generic term for liberals who aren’t social liberals or liberal-progressives but don’t commit to conservatism or to parties that called themselves “centre” parties. If you try to search for an theoretical work that has served to develop centrism as a political theory, you will find nothing. It is a rootless ideology of it even exists as such.

 

Nigel Farage is an opportunist

From the very beginnings of the Brexit saga, Nigel Farage has proven himself to be an exclusively self-serving weasel less interested in political struggle and more interested in the spectacle. Right after we voted Leave, Nigel Farage left UKIP whining about he wanted his life back, leaving UKIP leadership in a perpetual state of chaos. After Farage’s resignation, Dianne James was elected the leader of UKIP…for 18 days, then she unexpectedly resigned as leader and later quit the party and became an indepenent. Following this, another leadership contest was held in which the terminally insane Paul Nuttall emerged as the victor. After the snap general election in June 2017, in which UKIP was almost entirely annihiliated, Nuttall stepped down as leader, and then another leadership contest took place 3 months later in which Henry Bolton won. And then Henry Bolton had to resign after only 5 months in office because he kept seeing his then new girlfriend Jo Marney, who repeatedly made racist comments about Meghan Markle, immigrants and the survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire, despite proclaiming that he stopped seeing her once these comments became public knowledge. After this, he was replaced the current leader Gerard Batten, who is expected to resign his position after the European parliamentary elections taking place this week. To put it quite simply: after Farage left UKIP, the party constantly shifted from one transient leadership to the next. In addition to this, it’s worth noting that some of the failed leaders and leadership candidates in UKIP have gone on to form their own political parties – Henry Bolton formed the Our Nation Party, and Anne-Marie Waters (who lost the 2017 leadership contest) formed the For Britain party.

Of course, while Farage’s reasons for leaving were patently self-centered and naive, believing that he can just get on with his life, confident that the Brexit situation would somehow resolve itself without him, he has maintained since about 2017 that his real concern is that UKIP is becoming a more extremist and radical party than he’d like it to be: citing the attempted candidacy of Anne-Marie Waters, an outspoken critic of Islam, and Tommy Robinson’s appointment by Gerard Batten as his “grooming gangs advisor” as evidence of the shift towards the far-right with a specific focus on the anti-Islam angle. The irony, of course, is twofold. First of all, Farage has a reputation of drumming up similar rhetoric about Islamic immigration during his time in UKIP: he’s said in the past that most of the refugees coming into Britain harbored ISIS militants, and has even gone so far as to say that Enoch Powell was essentially correct about immigration. There was also that notorious “Breaking Point” poster that UKIP released in the run up to the Brexit referendum, which suggested that immigrants were marching the UK in order to overrun the native population (not to mention inadvertendly resembling a Nazi propaganda film with a similar albeit more extreme message). So for Farage to whine about the party suddenly doing more anti-Islamic rhetoric in order to move away from being a single-issue party (you know, doing nothing but whine about Brexit) comes off as hypocritical. Secondly, he didn’t seem to mind when he was taking over the Brexit Party from Catherine Blaiklock, who was forced to resign after saying that black men are genetically pre-disposed to commit crime and has a reputation for anti-Islamic agitation, not to mention that under his watch the party has had to remove a guy for bigoted comments about the Grenfell Tower survivors as well as accusing Ed Miliband and Peter Mandelson of being “rootless”. Not to mention, some of the people Farage has taken on board for his Brexit Party campaign are arguably much worse than many of than the people he whines about for “Islamophobia”. Claire Fox, for example, believes that you should be allowed to watch child pornography, was a Trotskyist (take it from me, Trots are some of the worst people in the radical left and they’re despised not only by me but also anarchists and most Marxist-Leninists) who like other ex-Trots ended up writing for Spiked, and at one point supported the IRA, who didn’t even try to avoid murdering civilians in their struggle against the unionists, specifically defending the bomb attack they carried out at Warrington in 1993. Another member, the arch-Tory Anne Widdecombe, is on record for her support of gay conversion therapy and whining about “the homosexual lobby”, asserting that homosexuality was immoral and campaigning against gay rights at every turn, and defending the government’s policy during the 1990s of shackling pregnant female prisoners while they were receiving pre-natal care on the grounds that they might escape somehow. Farage has no problem with people like that in his party, but for some reason he doesn’t like it when UKIP want to be more than just garden variety free market conservatives complaining that Brexit hasn’t happened yet. Oh, and are we forgetting the times where he travelled to the European continent in order to coordinate with parties like Alternative für Deustchland, who are frequently in trouble for possibly flirting with neo-Nazism. Somehow Farage has a problem with garden variety anti-Islamic conservatives leading UKIP, but he doesn’t have a problem touring with (not to mention hiring) people who are easily more reactionary than them.

When the snap election in 2017 happened, Farage made a bold statement about how he would return to politics if Brexit was in danger of not happening. He would not do so until March 22nd of this year, when the Brexit Party’s campaign for the European Parliament elections was launched. In between that time, however, he’s been busy talking to Americans as their self-appointed ambassdor for UKIP and the populist right. To that effect he’s made numerous appearances on Fox News in order to talk about various pet political issues in the UK, to the point when I see Farage I have sometimes jokingly said “hey it’s that guy British guy on Fox News”. Fox News in turn tends to gush over him, treating him as the leader of the Brexit campaign and at one point even advertised him as the leader of the opposition even though his then-party was and still is a marginal force in government. He also joined Donald Trump at a campaign rally in 2016 in Jackson, Missouri, to vocally support him, and has since been a consistent advocate and defender of Trump. He has consistently spoken at the Conservative Political Action Committee since 2015, and has been guest speaker at Prager “University” to talk about the European Union. Until he announced that the Brexit Party would be campaigning, you would think this guy’s whole job was just circlejerking with American conservatives (with whom he seems to be very much at home ideologically) about how great America is and how the UK is teetering off the edge to statism and socialism. You might just say he’s more interested in given pompous, charismatic speeches than he is in actually he is in helping us to leave the EU, only rejoining that front when shit’s just about to hit the fan rather than stay on and fight for the thing he helped work for. This combined with some of his positions on foreign policy (he thinks the US should invade Iran for example) lead me to think of him as just another garden variety shill, with no real loyalty to the cause he attached himself to. I guess we can expect that much from someone who used to be a banker.

 

Boycott the European Parliament elections

There are many Leave supporters who are quite eager to support the Brexit Party, even among leftists such as George Galloway, on the grounds that their victory in the European Parliament might bring us closer to ending the delays to our departure from the European Union. It certainly looks like they might gain significant electoral traction, particularly in Wales. But I, however, cannot support them. For starters I have already explained why its leader, Nigel Farage is a charlatanous weasel, opportunist and hypocrite. For me to support him would him would be fundamentally dishonorable on that dimension alone. But beyond that, his support for leaving the European Union would be the only thing I have in common with him; the rest of the Brexit Party’s politics is almost entirely aligned against my own. Besides the already mentioned fact of the party’s willingness to incorporate the most groteque reactionaries in British politics, the Brexit Party also seems to be staunchly in the territory of right-wing libertarian fantasy land when it comes to the economic system. Farage has stated openly that he wants to abolish the NHS, which for all its problems is the main reason this country has managed to survive its post-war conditions, with a system based on private insurance. In essence, he wants to regress our country’s healthcare system to something resembling the horrific ponzi scheme known as the American healthcare system. Not even UKIP supports that and they’re supposed be the far-right party in this country! In fact, for a far-right party, UKIP, to their credit, supports some nationalization of industry at least according to their manifesto. If you’re a leftist and you want to throw your weight behind the Brexit Party just on the chance that we might Leave the European Union, you’re selling your principles and values down the river for the sake of opportunism and I cannot and will not do anything but reject you for it. The left must fight for Brexit, yes, but it must do so on its own front, without right-wing capitalists entering into the picture.

Sadly, however, if you want me to tell you who to vote for instead, I don’t think I can help you. I have spent quite a bit of time thinking about what to do in these elections, and I have concluded that I don’t believe the European Parliament elections will be useful for my goals. I have tried to find a credible left-wing Eurosceptic movement who might be closely aligned with my goals that I can vote for in Wales, and I have failed. There aren’t even any old school communist parties, who are traditionally anti-EU as well as anti-NATO, that might force me to swallow my displeasure for their tankie tendencies in pursuit of the greater good. There’s just Labour and Plaid Cymru, and both of them are entrenchedly pro-EU. If I support Labour, I’d end up supporting all the shitty candidates they have here in Wales, if I support Plaid Cymru, I might have someone lobby for Welsh independence but they’re going to just beg for us to stay in the EU, and to support the right-wing Brexit Party would mean helping them lay the groundwork for taking over the national government in order to turn Britian into even more of a shithole country than it is now. The only answer for me is to boycott for the European Parliament elections, and I suggest that other serious leftists do so as well.

I support an independent Wales

I have today received some exciting breaking news concerning local politics. Just this afternoon in Cardiff, there was a major rally for Welsh independence that caught the attention of the media British. It was organized by a group called All Under One Banner Cymru, which seems to be the Welsh branch of a Scottish group called All Under One Banner, which campaigns for Scottish independence, and attendants apparently numbered in the thousands. In addition to this, of the thousands of people who attended the rally, hundreds of them consisted of people from North Wales who drove all the way to Cardiff just to be there.

I have to say, this was a surprising and impressive development. Mind you, I have been hearing murmurs about the subject of Welsh independence for quite some time now, I sometimes hear about it in news stories about local politics. But this rally and the attention its getting tells me that we could be seeing from real momentum for the cause of Welsh independence. And let me be among the first to say that I proudly support the cause of Welsh independence. I believe in the general principle of national independence, sovereignty and liberation as an extension of the broader principle of political liberty, and the fight for freedom is an important existential, evolutionary struggle in the hierarchy of struggles that we observe. What we forget about the class struggle, for instance, is that it is, within bourgeois society, the primary expression of this ancient struggle. And when you consider the fact that the British national government was at one point planning on dumping their toxic waste beneath our cities, I think the case can be made that the national government doesn’t have much regard for our land.

The only forebearance I may feel towards this whole thing is the fact that the momentum for Welsh independence movement will likely be seized by Plaid Cymru, a liberal party of about the same stripe as the SNP. Like their Scottish counterpart, they are sheepish supporters of the European Union and will use our break from the British union as a vehicle by which to attempt to repatriate with Brussels, a move that I doubt would be supported by the European Union. I want Wales to be independent for the UK if that is what we desire, but I also want us to be apart from the decrepit, bourgeois European Union. We won’t quite be sovereign unless that is the case. And besides, I doubt that Wales will be free to go in a more leftward direction transcend Labour’s brand of class-collaborationist social democracy if we remain in the European Union.

Wales has always been more amenable to at least a somewhat leftward direction that much of the country, and although it is debatabely whether any socialist class consciousness has emerged successfully here, socialism has been a part of the country’s history in some imperfect form or another since the late 19th century. There are some British socialists who believe that talk about Welsh independence is counterproductive to the cause or working class politics, and that instead we should instead pursue unionist (as in the British national union, not as in trade unions or syndicates) praxis instead of secessionism. An example of this sentiment can be found in the Proletarian CPGB-ML Party, who by an astonishing coinicidence are also big fans of Nigel Farage. But we don’t live in opportune circumstances where we can just wait for everyone to become radical so we can do the British equivalent of the SFRY. It’s better then that we should just seize the moment and lead by example instead.

The spirit of Moses…

Sometimes it bears mentioning that America is not the only place where religion is invoked at the altar of what should be secular politics, just the country where you see it happen most often. Why last week we saw the Home Office scare away asylum seekers from Iran who converted to Christianity by using Bible verses. Apparently the idea was to scare immigrants who converted by arguing that Christianity isn’t peaceful, which to be fair at least they’re being honest about it this time around – though, mind you, I wouldn’t expect native Christians to be told that any time soon unless they encounter an atheist. But, that obviously is not what I’m here to talk about today. The subject of this post in particular is Boris Johnson, that famous former mayor of London who always seems to make himself look foolish. Yesterday he wrote an op-ed for The Telegraph, a flagship conservative paper here in the UK, in which he urged Prime Minister Theresa May to “channel the spirit of Moses” and “let my people go”.

It’s curious to imagine who he’s comparing to Moses here. Is he comparing himself to Moses in this one, or is he trying to compare Theresa May to Moses? In any case it looks ridiculous. Our relationship to the EU may not be democratic in any real sense, but it isn’t really comparable to the way the Israelites were treated under the Pharaoh of Egypt according to the Bible. For one thing, the Pharaoh according to the Bible wasn’t about to let the Israelites leave Egypt any time soon, and if he did he certainly wasn’t going to delay the exodus by a few arbitrary weeks while Moses figures out what the hell’s going on.

Of course, this has no real effect on whether or not we leave the European Union, and it doesn’t have too much affect on if we have a deal going for when we leave other than it makes the hardline Tories look like laughing stocks. But while Boris’ comments are absurd and ridiculous, and should be treated as such, it’s very fascinating to me that a figure like Moses would be invoked in such a way, as a liberational figure in our context. Well, he might have been a liberator in the sense of him leading the Jews out of Egypt, he was also a brutal war criminal.

In the Book of Numbers, God commands Moses to slaughter the Moabites and later the Midianites for certain religious transgressions. In Numbers 25, the Moabites engage in “whoredom” and perform sacrifices to idols, and some of the Israelites join them in worshipping Baal-peor (a deity from whom we get the demon named Belphegor)

“And the Lord said unto Moses, Take all the heads of the people, and hang them up before the Lord against the sun, that the fierce anger of the Lord may be turned away from Israel And Moses said unto the judges of Israel, Slay ye every one his men that were joined unto Baalpeor.” – Numbers 25:4-5

In Numbers 31, Moses receives commandment from God to slaughter all of the Midianites except for any young girls who are virgins.

“Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.” – Numbers 31:17-18

Knowing this I’m kind of curious just what the spirit of Moses means in this case, because I’m tempted to think it means slaughtering a people (one of whom by the way Moses had at his bedside the entire god damned time) because they beguiled the Israelites one too many times into doing in something more fun than worshiping Yahweh.

But the way this seems to play out, how a guy who we know from the Bible acted as a mass murderer, a war criminal and something of a dictator as well when he came to be in charge of his own forces out of Egypt comes to be known exclusively for leading the Jews out of Egypt and hence is seen as purely heroic rather than the mad dog he turned out to be very much reminds me of the way Michael Parenti talks about the wagon train and the swarthy hordes. I’ll leave the video for it at the end of this post, but to apply it to this situation is not especially difficult. Moses and the Israelites are the guys in the wagon train, they’re the “heroes”, the “human beings”, assailed by and forced to destroy the swarthy hordes, who in this case are literally every non-Yahwist tribe the Israelites encounter. In much the same way paradigm serves to rewrite the history of European and North American imperialism, it serves in the Bible to “justify” the brutal repression of non-Israelite peoples. The next time you think about the atrocities the Israelites commit in the Bible, keep this paradigm in mind. I don’t know about you, but that’s what I think about when I hear Boris Johnson talk about channeling the spirit of Moses.

“The Women of Midian Led Captive by the Hebrews” by James Tissot

Miscellaneous musings on Hindutva and volkisch paganism

This weekend I stumbled across a video about Hindutva on YouTube, consisting of an interview with a man named Shashi Tharoor. Tharoor is an Indian politician, an MP serving under the Indian National Congress (which appears to be a liberal social-democratic party), and the author of a book entitled Why I Am A Hindu, in which he apparently discusses his relationship with the Hindu religion so as to repudiate the Hindutva ideology that has become prevalent in his country. I will leave the video at the end of this post for your interest, but for the purpose of this post, I’d like to cite a part of what Tharoor says in the video that I find pertinent.

Tharoor makes an important point about the character of Hindutva, namely that it is not actually a religious ideology in the sense that it serves as a representation of the Hindu religion, but instead a purely political ideology that distorts Hinduism for its own ends.

Hindutva is a political ideology. It’s not really a religious interpretation. It’s a political ideology that has hung itself on a hook that is embedded on the wall of religion. But it is not actually a religious ideology. What they’ve done is they have created a political project around the idea that the people who follow the religion are a distinct people. Some have even used the word Hindu race. They have their own culture, their own history, their own heroes. And this collectivity has somehow been humiliated, conquered, subjugated. 200 years of British rule, 1,000 years of Muslim invasions. Now the time has come for them to reassert themselves. And Hindutva is a project to advance the political agenda of those who believe this by trying to create a consciousness of separation amongst these self-defined Hindus.

Another insightful portion of the interview is the manner in which he describes the popular schism between Hindus in Indian society through his explanation of the argument he wanted to present in his book:

I wanted this to be an argument within the Hindu faith between people who consider themselves to be good Hindus, or decent Hindus, or believing Hindus, or seeking Hindus whichever phrase you want, but who don’t subscribe to this kind of notion of Hindutva, and those who have reduced Hinduism, far from the soaring metaphysics and philosophy inquiry and spiritual yearnings of the ancient texts, into something more akin to the team loyalty of the British football hooligan.

Now, while I think that it is impossible to truly separate Hindutva from the context of the Hindu religion, he makes a fairly astute observation of Hindutva as a general phenomenon. Indeed, the Hindutva ideology, being a nationalist ideology, expertly embodies the fixation on tribal identity and the belief that a nation is unique on the basis of its in-group. It is not even a matter of speculation to suggest that Hindutva basis its concept of Indian civilizational uniqueness on race, because as I have established before the earliest thinkers of Hindutva were quite explicit in their views about “the Race” and the need to preserve it. Indeed, such a rationale underpins the tendency of many Hindutvas, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to support Israel. Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, the same man who praise the regimes of Hitler and Mussolini, said it “will gladden us almost as much as our Jewish friends” if Israel were to be created as an ethnic state for the Jews. In fact, he apparently opposed the UN on the proposal to partition Palestine into a bi-national Arab-Jewish state in 1947. If this doesn’t underscore the racialist basis for their support of Israel enough, Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar spelled it out quite plainly in We, or Our Nationhood Defined:

The Jews had maintained their race, religion, culture and language, and all they wanted was their natural territory to complete their nationality. The reconstruction of the Hebrew Nation in Palestine is just an affirmation of the fact that Country, Race, Religion, Culture and Language must exist together to form a full nation idea.

In other words, the Hindutvas have always held ethnocentrism to be a central component of the nation state, and Hindutva has always been an ethnocentric ideology, as evidence by its tendency to support other movements that promote ethnonationalism during the 20th century.

Now, this racialist outlook and the way by which the belief system it wants to attach itself to is bastardized that it may be repurposed to serve the goals of racial politics to the point of effectively being detached from the broader religion, it reminds me of something else I’ve seen. In fact, I’m beginning to suspect that Hindutva is essentially the Indian equivalent of the Western phenomenon known as Volkisch Paganism (also known as Neo-Volkisch movements). The term Volkisch Paganism, in a modern context at least, refers to a belief system that seeks to blend paganism or pre-Christian polytheism with racially identitarian ideology – in particular, white nationalist or white supremacist ideology, often including neo-Nazism. In many cases, it is simply a kind of opportunism on the part of white nationalists to appropriate paganism for their own ideology, and it often seems unconnected to paganism, both historical and modern. While it is not universally true that pagan belief systems explicitly condemn racism, there is an example from the Greek poet Pindar which explicitly affirms that the “races” stem from the same source.

One race there is of men and one of gods, but from one mother draw we both our breath, yet is the strength of us diverse altogether, for the race of man is as nought, but the brazen heaven abideth, a habitation steadfast unto everlasting.

Thus we can determine with some confidence that the volkisch character of volkisch paganism is a modern construct, rather than a reconstruction of ancient philosophy.

In addition to this, I sometimes hear of Volkisch pagans opportunistically support Christianity in service of their racial ideology. A good example of this is how, some time after the Christchurch shooting, I encountered a volkisch pagan on the internet who praised Brenton Tarrant, the man responsible for the shooting, as a hero of the white race.

An idiotic volkisch pagan praising Brenton Tarrant

The supreme irony of this statement is that Tarrant cannot accurately be described as a pagan. The thing about his manifesto that you can point to in order to pin him as a pagan is the part where he says “I will see you in Valhalla”, which is of course the hall of Odin that serves as the resting place of Vikings who died in battle. However, even this follows directly from “god bless you all”, rather than any praise of Odin. However that is not all. While Tarrant claimed to be an agnostic on the subject of Christianity, saying “That is complicated. When I know, I will tell you.”, he nonetheless made a number of appeals to Christianity in his manifesto. For example, this is the part of his manifesto that was addressed to Christians.

“The people worthy of glory, the people blessed by God Our Lord, moan and fall under the weight of these outrages and most shameful humiliations. The race of the elect suffers outrageous persecutions, and the impious race of the Saracens respects neither the virgins of the Lord nor the colleges of priests. They run over the weak and the elderly, they seize the children from their mothers so that they might forget, among the barbarians, the name of God.

That perverse nation profanes the hospices … The temple of the Lord is treated like a criminal and the ornaments of the sanctuary are robbed. “What more shall I say to you? “We are disgraced, sons and brothers, who live in these days of calamities! Can we look at the world in this century reproved by Heaven to witness the desolation of the Holy City and remain in peace while it is so
oppressed? Is it not preferable to die in war rather than suffer any longer so horrible a spectacle? Let us all weep for our faults that raise the divine ire, yes, let us weep… But let not our tears be like the seed thrown into the sand. Let the fire of our repentance raise up the Holy War and the love of our brethren lead us into combat. Let our lives be stronger than
death to fight against the enemies of the Christian people.” ASK YOURSELF, WHAT WOULD POPE URBAN II DO?

And here is the part that he addressed to the Turks:

You can live in peace in your own lands, and may no harm come to you. On the east side of the Bosphorus. But if you attempt to live in European lands, anywhere west of the Bosphorus. We will kill you and drive you roaches from our lands. We are coming for Constantinople and we will destroy every mosque and minaret in the city. The Hagia Sophia will be free of minarets and Constantinople will be rightfully christian owned once more. FLEE TO YOUR OWN LANDS, WHILE YOU STILL HAVE THE CHANCE

And here is a section of the part talking about the radicalization of young men, wherein he basically makes the same argument as people like Jordan Peterson when they talk about secularism.

These men and women are not being being brain-washed, corrupted or misled. They are finally removing their blindfolds and seeing the reality of the the world and their peoples future. The truth that the West killed the notion of god, and proceeded to replace it with nothing. Brought forth two competing ideologies (communism and fascism)to replace this loss of god, then proceeded to allow both sides to slaughter each other to a standstill and then let corporate backed capitalists tear the survivor to pieces. Resulting in a society with no core beliefs, no purpose and no vision for the future.

All of these sections place a very strong attachment to Christianity as a cultural force for Europe. Even if we can assume that the shooter was not formally Christian, he could still be counted as pro-Christian in the sense that he considered Christianity, or more or less Christian culture, a positive civilizational force that needs to be defended from Islamic aggression – one could, in this sense, draw parallels to the way Hindutva prioritizes the desire to find Islamic aggression towards Hinduism as a civilizational-political force.

I hope these miscellaneous thoughts go anywhere in explaining why I have such hatred of things like Hindutva and Volkisch Paganism. They are opportunistic bastardizations of the creeds they claim to represent, and in practice serve as spiritual bulwarks for fascism. They must be opposed not only by secular individuals who believe in secular society, but also most vociferously by people of the very creeds that these ideologies defile.

A Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh march

The BJP’s holy war

So, we’re here it would seem. This past week we’ve seen a historic escalation of tensions between India and Pakistan that will probably, though some would say not assuredly, lead to war between the two countries – a decidedly grim prospect for the region and perhaps beyond considering both countries possess an arsenal of nuclear weapons. Before we get into the main angle I had in mind for this post it’s worth going over just what happened, and it’s worth keeping in mind several developments had been occurring on Tuesday alone.

Ever since the partition of India from the British Empire in 1947, there has been conflict between India and Pakistan at the borders of the two countries, with particular attention paid to the Kashmir territory, but the last few weeks have seen major conflagration on the India-Pakistan border. In February 14th when a Deobandi Islamist terror group named Jaish-e-Mohammed attacked Indian convoys in Pulwama. The Pakistani government denies being involved in the attack, and the group is not obviously connected to the Pakistani government (although the Indian media frequently claims the opposite), in fact the group is officially banned in Pakistan. However, that didn’t stop India from sending its jets over the border in order to strike Pakistani territory, claiming that they were attacking a terrorist camp. In response, Pakistan began firing shells at India, and is even beginning to hint about the use of nuclear weapons.

This, I think, should be a concise enough summation of the surrounding events. Now, then, we can get to the angle I want to postulate – that India is the primary aggressor in the recent standoffs, and that the intent behind this is to wage holy war with Pakistan.

For starters, while the Indian government claims it was striking Jaish-e-Mohammed in Balatok, Pakistani locals tend to say that no damage was done to Jaish within the area. This raises the question of just what India attacked if not a Jaish base. That they attacked Pakistan in response to Jaish-e-Mohammed’s attack suggests that they consider Jaish-e-Mohammed to be an ally of Pakistan or a proxy of Pakistan. Although there is no real evidence that Jaish-e-Mohammed is backed by Pakistan, some scholars and the Indian media like to claim that Pakistan funds them. It is possible that the Indian government assumes this as well, and that this was the rationale to strike at Pakistan in response to being attacked by Jaish forces.

Oh, and speaking of the Indian media, One key thing to remember is that Indian media on the subject of Pakistan, especially right now, is about as untrustworthy as American media is on countries they either don’t like or think should be invaded by the US. In fact, the Indian media is in full spin generating falsehoods about Pakistan’s role in the recent standoff in order to cultivate manufactured consent for war in the Indian population. One Indian Express article for example claims that Pakistan used F-16 aircraft to attack Indian bases, without actually presenting any evidence (despite having “here’s the proof” in the headline). It is entirely possible in my view India is seeing the same type of disinformation campaign that presaged the American invasion of Iraq in 2002.

But why I do I suspect a big religious angle to the coming conflict? Why holy war? Well, the first thing that stuck out for me is how, hours after the airstrikes launched at Pakistan, the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi took a metro journey in Dehli from Khan Market to East of Kailash in order to visit the ISKCON Temple (also known as the Glory Of India & Vedic Cultural Centre), as well as apparently unveiling a giant Bhagavad Gita at an event held there. More starkly, in that same event he gave a speech following the air strikes wherein he said this:

“The power of God is always with us to save the Earth from the enemies of humanity. We are attempting to spread this message with complete authenticity to the evil spirits and asuras. Today is very significant.”

Judging from the context of this speech, it’s very clear that Modi is referring to the nation of Pakistan and its people as demons, as Asuras (the enemies of the Devas) and as enemies of humanity, from whom the Earth is to be saved. This is very explicitly not only a prelude to conflict within the region and a sign of India’s intent to fight Pakistan but also a clear invocation of the Hindu religion in support of the coming war.

It is also worth noting that a major goal of Hindutva ideology is the creation of the Akhand Bharata (or “Undivided India”), an irredentist project aimed at bringing together the whole Indian subcontinent under the rule of India. This of course would require the subjugation of Pakistan by India so that it may come under its rule.

But what is the angle on the part of the BJP for such holy war? In my view, the answer may lie in good old-fashioned political maneuvering. There is to be a general election in India this year, expected to be held between April and May, and from what I understand Narendra Modi has been declining in popularity. In August 2018 his popularity slipped below 50% for the first time, and by the end of the year many Indians began to consider that their lives have worsened under his tenure as Prime Minister. However, the recent strikes against Pakistan have been a source of hope for the BJP, as Indians have been taking to the streets to celebrate India’s attack on Pakistan – which has been interpreted as a sign that Modi’s popularity may be set to grow again just a few months ahead of his potential re-election.

So, while I have no doubt Pakistan is pretty dangerous in this situation as well, I suspect India is acting as the primary aggressor in this mess, seeking to engender a holy war in the region in order to crush Pakistan so that Modi can stay in power for a little longer in order to flex on Islam. Kind of a petty way to send millions of people to their deaths if you ask me.

The colossal failure of Donald Trump

Remember in 2013 when under Obama the Republicans managed to get the government shut down over the Affordable Care Act? Well last month Trump pretty much plunged America into a government shutdown for the third time in his presidency, as well as the third one within 2018. This shutdown lasted from December 22nd 2018 until January 25th 2019, making it the longest government shutdown in US history. This meant that US federal workers had to go without pay for over a month in what for them must surely have been the worst holiday season they can remember while Trump and his cronies chowed down on a buffet of fast food.

Within that time Trump downgraded his famous proposal for a wall on the southern border, instead asking Congress for about $5 billion to pay for a “steel barrier” – a barrier that it turns out is so weak that you can cut through it with a saw. Effectively, Trump turned his “big, beautiful wall”, an already wasteful vanity project good only for show, into an even more useless barrier that whatever wave of immigrants he’s trying to keep can probably just smash through just to be able to pay for anything close to a wall.

Finally, after air traffic controllers and flight attendance threatened to not go to work until they got their pay check, the shutdown officially ended and Trump backed down. However, technically speaking, the shutdown doesn’t appear to be over yet. Trump only seems to be suspending the shutdown for 21 days, and in that time he is still going to try to push the wall through and get it funded, and if he doesn’t get his way he will either shut down the government again or invoke emergency powers. But that wall is probably never going to be paid for anyway. In suspending the government shutdown, Trump did not receive any of the $5.7 billion he demanded to pay for his border wall, and in fact the government shutdown seems to have cost the US government $6 billion minimum, which exceeds the budget Trump wanted for his steel barrier proposal.

Nonetheless, the concession to the Democrats has led to many of Trump’s supporters being outraged at Trump, and in many ways you could say rightfully so, for backing down. This to me is a realization on the part of the MAGA movement that they’ve been swindled, that Trump is not the politician they thought he was, and that he in all likelihood will not give them the wall. With roughly a year to go before the next presidential election, it remains interesting to see where his supporters are going to go from here, though I imagine they will only really stick with Trump over inane conservative culture wars and generally the desire to desperately avoid a Democrat winning the presidency – and, keep in mind, this is his base I’m talking about, most of the moderates or orbiters who still supported Trump before will likely desert him if they haven’t already because he can’t get anything done. Or perhaps the MAGA movement will be kept alive by the kind of insufferable zoomers who still believe GamerGate was a success after Gawker announced its resurrection the auspices of Bryan Goldberg.

You know, between this entire development and everything else we’ve seen of him (his commitment to non/anti-interventionist foreign policy and economic populism having shown themselves to be falsehoods), we could well be looking at one of the biggest political failures in recent memory. Ever since 2015 when Trump began campaigning for the presidency, that “big, beautiful wall” was one of the cornerstones of his campaign, it was dumb but it was also probably he most important promise he made over than the moratorium on Islamic immigration. Since he got elected that wall has not been built and it should now be empirically clear that the wall is never going to be built or paid for, no matter how many autocratic measures he takes he takes to make sure that it does.

And that’s not getting into the other stuff. Trump advanced his campaign on an isolationist and nationalist attitude, particularly on the basis of skepticism towards foreign military interventions carried out by the US and towards free trade deals that have left the average person behind. In reality, however, Trump’s administration last year broke the record for the amount of bombs dropped on Afghanistan, continues to ally with Saudi Arabia even after major international outrage concerning the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, backed out of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty with Russia, scrapped the Iran Deal on behalf of neoconservative interests, is now planning regime change in Venezuela, and is even floating the idea of privatizing the Afghanistan campaign by handing it over to Erik Prince, the former CEO of Blackwater which oversaw the massacre of innocent of Iraqis. He did recently decide to pull US forces out of Syria, but only to eventually backpeddle on that promise and soften the pullout schedule (if such a schedule even exists).

Added to that, despite his commitment to draining the swamp and fighting the deep state and what not, all he’s done is shuffle around his cabinet with more and more neocons and elite cronies each more disgusting than the last. He’s also never done anything to oppose the NSA dragnet, and in fact he’s expanded it as I’ve covered last year. Oh, and you can forget about him being the man of the people because his tax cuts have only really benefitted the rich, real wages haven’t grown at all under Trump, in fact they just might be falling. Not to mention the fact that outsourcing has continued under Trump, and perhaps even been encouraged too, despite his supposed commitment to keeping jobs in America. And I haven’t forgotten when he hinted that the US should reconsider the TPP, after nixing it within his first week! Trump has broken much of the core of his campaign. In fact, I would go so far as to say that he’s done nothing of worth for the people who voted for him.

The only reason Trump had that ounce of credibility necessary for me to begin supporting him after I hated him for most of 2016 is that the establishment that opposed him got caught with their pants down trying to play every sleazy and manipulative card against and every alternative to him had been discredited by their deference to said establishment, and I feel disgusted by the fact that I allowed myself to be blindsided by all of that because, even with all that, Tump’s still just another horrifically dumb, dishonest, mentally degenerated neoliberal/neoconservative, just that he expertly disguised his actual politics in a convincing veneer of paleoconservative populism, semi-truthful hyperbole and the lamentations of his enemies. That there are people who still believe in him is a testament to how there’s no God watching over us and modern civilization is a joke!

I kind of mean it. Seriously. If you still support Trump at this juncture you might most likely be hopelessly gullible and stupid. It’s hopelessly clear by now that Trump has done nothing of worth and in fact betrayed many of his promises. The only reason you have to still believe in Trump at this point is if you’re too stupid for your own good, you just love the idea of getting suckered your whole life, or you’ve built your career on shilling for Trump and get paid to peddle to obvious bullshit for him. – the irony of that being that even hardened dumbasses like Mike Cernovich are starting to turn on him.

Now since 2020 is already being talked about, I’d like to mention that I’ve been told by friends that it’s very likely that Trump won’t win on account of the fact that he’s basically broken his core campaign promises. However, as much as I’d like to believe that, I’d put a qualifier on that: the only way Trump could possibly win in 2020 is if the Democrats find a way to shit the bed even harder than Trump does. And while I’m not making any promises to that effect, I look at what I see of the Democratic candidates and my gut feeling tells me that they just might unless they actually run Bernie Sanders as their nominee. And given that the Democratic establishment looks ready to dismiss Bernie again in favour of Kamala Harris just to get another shot at first female president (who also happens to be non-white) even though (apart from a few of her positions like support for Medicare for All) she is by and large another Clintonite, another moderate Republican dressed up as a Democrat, one who also happens to have a police background which means she’ll likely carry out the interests of the ruling class anyway and has done in many of her prosecutions as the Attorney General of California. You could argue that Tulsi Gabbard would make for an easy win but, I’ve already talked about her.

But on the whole, even though I think Bernie might be the best option Americans have, in my view he’s still not enough. Hell, as far as social democrats go (and I am no social democrat) I consider him inferior to people like Jeremy Corbyn in most respects. In fact, given that Trump’s failure follows sort of the same pattern as Obama’s – that flashy populist formula where a guy promises profound political change and then not only doesn’t change anything but actually makes things somewhat worse – I can’t help but be critical of the idea that Bernie won’t just turn out the same way. It’s past time that Americans realized that their political and economic system doesn’t serve them, and to be honest the same could be said for almost the rest of the world.

Donald Trump, seen here in utter decadence

The rise of Hindu nationalism in India and beyond

This month, the Indian Science Congress Association held its 106th annual summit, as it traditionally does on the first week of January. In this summit, a number of Indian scientists have come out against the theories of Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton, who form part of the axis upon which modern scientific observation and understanding of the universe are based, while claiming that ancient Hindu religious texts are the actual basis of modern science. In one case, the head of a university based in south India actually claimed that stem cell research was already practiced in India thousands of years ago and was described in ancient texts. Another academic, G Nageshwar Rao, claimed that the Kauravas, the descendants of a king named Kuru according to the Mahabharata, were created via stem cell research as test tube babies. He also claimed that the astra and shastra, mythical weapons used by the gods in Indian mythology, were actually pre-modern guided missiles that had been used in India thousands of years before guided missiles were actually developed, and that the demon king Ravana was not only real but also possessed 24 types of aircraft and a network of landing strips in Sri Lanka. One scientist, Kannan Jegathala Krishnan, claimed that Einstein’s theories were “misleading” and that Newton “failed to understand gravitational repulsive forces”. A supposed paleontologist named Ashu Khosla claimed that dinosaurs were created by the deity Brahma, who he also claimed documented such creations in Indian religious scriptures. Essentially, the conference became a platform for Hindu creationism and attempts by religious ideologues to claim the history of modern science as the ancient history of India. There was also a naked appeal to base nationalism, as Krishnan even went so far as to suggest that gravitational waves should be renamed “Narendra Modi Waves”, after the current Prime Minister of India, and that the gravitational lensing effect should be renamed the “Harsh Vardhan effect”, presumably after the Indian politician of the same name.

As absurd as this must seem, and rightfully so, such developments are unfortunately not new to the Indian scientific community or to Indian society at large. In 2017, the junior education minister Satyapal Singh, who also happens to be in the BJP, claimed that planes were first mentioned in the Ramayana and that the plane was first invented in India eight years before the Wright Brothers by Shivakar Babuji Talpade. Such claims, however, remain unverified. The same man also claimed that there existed trees in the kingdom of Ravana (presumably referring to Sri Lanka, I guess) that didn’t need to be watered because they contained a mythical elixir named Chandramani, and that Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection was incorrect. Of course two years before that a man named Anand Bodas claimed in that year’s Indian Science Congress that a Vedic sage named Bharadwaja invented the world’s first plane and that ancient planes had 40 engines. The home minister Rajnath Singh (another BJP politician) claimed that the principle of quantum uncertainity, which was theorized by Werner Heisenburg in 1927, is actually based on Vedic scripture. Rajashtan education minister Vasudev Devnani (yet another BJP politician) claimed that cows are the only animals that inhale and exhale oxygen in order to add “scientific significance” to the belief that the cow is a sacred animal. A BJP lawmaker named Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank at one point claimed that astrology is superior to science, literally calling science “a dwarf before astrology”, that a sage named Kanad conducted the first nuclear test one lakh year (that’s about 100,000 years) ago, and that ancient Indians had the knowledge of performing transplants. Another BJP MP named Shankarbhai Vegad, in his push for a ban on cattle slaughter, claimed that the urine and feces of cows are capable of curing cancer and other ailments. Even Narendra Modi himself once claimed that the Hindu deity Ganesha was the result of the literal attachment of an elephant’s head onto the body of a human boy, supposedly an ancient form of plastic surgery.

Narendra Modi depicted in “‘Chai Pe Charcha” with Ganesha

It’s tempting for me to look at this and be reminded of a sort of popular cult around Hinduism that’s been around for decades now, even among supposedly skeptical, scientifically-minded atheists. In fact, Carl Sagan himself described Hinduism as “the only religion in which the time scales correspond to those of modern scientific cosmology” and in one of his books he said that the Nataraja, the famous icon of the deity Shiva dancing the universe into destruction, represents an ancient understanding of what we now refer to as the Big Bang. He also talked about Hindu cosmology in one episode of his TV series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage. In my day I have seen the idea of Hinduism as an especially scientific religion is often spread by New Agers, as well as Hindus seeking to big up their religion, and I definitely see there being a sort of popular exotic fascination with Hinduism among spiritualists, occult circles, people who don’t believe in Christianity but look for other beliefs, pagans, some agnostics, a few atheists and almost certainly fellow travelers of the Left Hand Path. Indeed, historically I have not been above such exotic fascination myself, and I still see myself reading about Hinduism to this day even though I don’t ascribe myself to the religion, and I certainly don’t endorse any of the creationism and pseudoscience coming from Hindu circles.

However, the phenomenon we are seeing in India is not like the kind of exoticist obsession of Hinduism found in the West. Instead, it’s very likely that the kind of pseudoscience, creationism and revisionism we’re seeing is the product of the influence of Hindu nationalism, which is currently a very powerful movement in India represented by the ruling party.

You may have noticed it already, but there’s a pretty strong link between this broad trend of religious historical revisionism and the Bharatiya Janata Party, all the way up to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who leads the party in the Lok Sabha (the lower house of parliament) and serves as its chairperson in parliament. As many people in India have noticed, this is far from a coincidence. The BJP is a conservative nationalist party, and one of their main flanks appears to be an ideology known as Hindutva. The term Hindutva refers to a particular form of Indian nationalism and Hindu conservatism that stresses the singular importance of the Hindu religion in Indian politics and public life. Like pretty much all nationalist movements they tend to think of the cultural body as the defining body of the nation (a la Andrew Breitbart’s axiom “politics is downstream from culture”), and they believe that Hindu culture and Indian culture represent the same entity. Consequently they frequently pressure the Indian government to push for policies intended to “protect” Hindu culture from perceived threats. This would explain why BJP is so hellbent on introducing a version of scientific truth that aligns with Hindu myth and religious tradition.

It also lends to a particular hostility towards Christians and Muslims, whether they are born, raised and integrated into Indian society or not, because Christianity and Islam represent foreign religions in India, which according to Hindutva ideology represent a threat to the Indian nation. Judaism and Zoroastrianism are also excluded from the Hindutva milieu as foreign religions, while Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism are welcomed because they see them as extensions of the Indian Dharma or religion – the fact that those three religions contradict Hinduism in various areas doesn’t seem to be a problem with them, due to the fact that they all originate in India. This characteristic lends itself to a sense of ethnocentrism on the part the Hindutva movement, with religious identity being an extension of ethnic identity and opposing foreign peoples through their religious identity. Because of this, many commentators have compared Hindutva to the alt-right, and right-wing online movements sometimes embrace Hindutva.

The religious fundamentalism and nationalist agenda of Hindutva has already had a major effect on Indian society for some time now, and the BJP have already set about perverting the Indian education system in order to condition the public to their agenda. In 2001, a BJP MP named Murli Manohar Joshi managed to get astrology taught as a course in Indian universities as part of the national curriculum. But if that wasn’t enough, the BJP managed to get history textbooks altered to suit their political agenda. In 2016, public schools in Rajasthan released new social studies textbooks that removed all information about India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and which renamed the Indus Valley Civilization to the Sindhu-Saraswati Culture, presumably named after the Hindu goddess Saraswati, despite the fact that Hindu culture as we know it did not emerge until some time after the Indus Valley Civilzation. Many Rajasthan textbooks even outright glorify the Modi government. In Maharashtra, new textbooks altered the preamble of the Indian Constitution, replacing the words “dharma nirpeksh” (meaning “religion neutral”, thus implying secularism) with “panth nirpeksh” (meaning “sect neutral”) in order to paint the country as based on a national unity of Hindu sects rather than a secular democratic nation, and the state education board has even gone so far as to remove references to the Mughals from their history textbooks.

The fact that the world famous Taj Mahal was built by a Mughal emperor doesn’t seem to bother Hindutvas for some reason.

It’s here that we see in Hindutva some striking parallels with two other right-wing movements in different parts of the world. First, there is the state sponsorship of psuedoscience and religious fundamentalism, which has strong parallels with the American religious right and their tendency to side with creationism (the current Vice President Mike Pence is on record with his belief that evolution is “just a theory”) and evangelical fundamentalists, not to mention climate science denialists. Second, we have rampant historical revisionism, which is comparable to similar textbook controversies in neighbouring Pakistan based on Islamic nationalism (often to the point of removing references to minority religions), but also more pertinently to the Japanese conservative/reactionary organization known as Nippon Kaigi, which produces and distributes history textbooks written to reflect Japanese national pride at the expense of historical accuracy, particularly when it comes to World War 2 and the Nanking massacre.

But there’s another twist to the Hindutva movement. Historically, the Hindutva movement has also been sympathetic to 20th century fascism, as suggested by the appraisal of German and Italian fascism by Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, the progenitor of the Hindutva idea:

“Surely Hitler knows better than Pandit Nehru [the first prime minister of India] does what suits Germany best. The very fact that Germany or Italy has so wonderfully recovered and grown so powerful as never before at the touch of Nazi or Fascist magical wand is enough to prove that those political ‘isms’ were the most congenial tonics their health demanded.”

In fact, the BJP as a party is said to have emerged from another organization named Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (or RSS), a right-wing paramilitary volunteer organization also based in Hindutva ideology widely viewed as the ideological inspiration for the BJP. Their main goal is to establish India as a Hindu nation, rather than a secular one. This group is probably famous for encouraging the drinking of cow urine, claiming that it has the ability to cure diabetes and about 80 other diseases – another pseudoscientific claim likely meant to be tied to Hindu religious beliefs. However, this group seems to have been enamored with fascism. An example of fascistic sentiment within the group can be found in the writings of Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar, the second leader of RSS, who espoused many beliefs that could be characterized as fascistic. For example, in his book We, or Our Nationhood Defined he stressed the supposed importance of preserving the racial-cultural purity of the Indian nation, citing Nazi Germany as an example of racial pride to draw lessons on racial and cultural unity from:

“To keep up the purity of the Race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic Races – the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well nigh impossible it is for Races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindustan to learn and profit by. Ever since that evil day, when Moslems first landed in Hindustan, right up to the present moment, the Hindu Nation has been gallantly fighting on to take on these despoilers. The Race Spirit has been awakening.”

In Bunch of Thoughts, he described democracy as “to a very large extent only a myth in practice” and he believed individual freedom was merely a high-minded concept that for him “only meant the freedom of those talented few to exploit the rest”. That last point is worth noting as it could easily be interpreted as a critique of capitalism in a sense, however this was decidedly not from a socialist perspective considering both the rejection of democracy and his antipathy towards communism, which along with Christianity and Islam were the main targets of his condemnation who he believed had sinister designs for the Indian nation. Stated rejection of both capitalism and communism is very much a position found in many fascistic movements, with fascism often representing the “third position”.

The movement even had some ties with Savitri Devi (born Maximiani Portas), the infamous French fascist occultist who combined Hinduism and New Age spiritualism with Hitlerian ideology and who remains a powerful inspiration to modern esoteric fascist movements. During the 1930’s, Devi coordinated with RSS along with several other radical nationalist and fascist movements in India in order to promote her ideas about Aryanism to an audience she believed would be adopt them with open arms. At the time, those groups were heavily invested in resisting the influence of Islam in the country, considering Islam to be a threat to the nation. Devi believed the Indian Hindus were the only people on Earth who still worshiped the gods of the Aryan race (which of course would mean that the Nazi master race were devout Hindus) and could end the influence of the Jewish race in the world, and it was after meeting with Srimat Swami Satyananda (then president of the Hindu Mission in what was known as Calcutta) that she came to believe that Adolf Hitler was a mortal incarnation of the deity Vishnu. Indeed, this idea seems to have been surprisingly widespread among wealthy Indian Hindus in Kolkata, as well as in Nagpur where he apparently remains an idol to some Hindu nationalists.

In fact perhaps it’s worth mentioning at this point that Adolf Hitler and his writings, for some reason, don’t have the same stigma in India that they rightly do here in the West. For example, Hitler’s writings and Nazi memorabilia have attracted the attention of young Indians in the not too distant past, with Mein Kampf at one point being a bestseller in the country. In fact just the name Hitler is so uncontroversial there compared to the West that it even appears as the name of various businesses, such as the infamous Hitler’s Den in Nagpur and a clothing store named Hitler in Ahmedabad. It’s even becoming something of a comic trope in Indian politics, as last year an Indian MP named Naramalli Sivaprasad dressed up as Hitler and impersonated him in parliament while demanding more economic assistance to the state of Andhra Pradesh.

Naramalli Sivaprasad, dressed as Hitler for some reason

The RSS movement remains active and powerful within Indian politics, working to promote the BJP in order to get their political interests fulfilled in the halls of Indian power. In fact Narendra Modi himself got his start as an RSS activist before eventually moving on to working as an MP for the BJP. The RSS has also boasted about being involved in the Gujarat riots of 2002, in which up to 2,000 people were killed, most of them apparently Muslims. In 2017 one of their leaders, Kundan Chandrawat, claimed in a public tirade that “Hindu society” killed 2,000 Muslims in Gujarat as vengeance for the Hindu pilgrims who died in a train burning near a railway station of Godhra, and also stated that he would reward whoever brought him the head of Pinarayi Vijayan, chief minister of Kerala, a payment of one crore rupees (that’s approximately $140,000 or about £107,000). He also claimed that communists and Kerala’s Left Front government were responsible for murdering their comrades in Kerala, and he went so far as to say the following in his speech:

“You have killed 300 pracharaks and activists, we will present Bharat Mata with a garland of 300,000 skulls in return.

Leftists, beware.”

What may be the most surprising thing you’ll learn about Hindutva is that Hindutva movements are not only active in India, and in fact they have an extensive network of organizations active in the United States. According to a 2014 report entitled Hindu Nationalism in the United States: A Report on Nonprofit Groups, there are several groups spawned from the RSS and many other Hindutva groups active within the United States of America spreading their nationalist ideology. RSS has a subsidiary group named Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (or HSS), which is active in the US and many other countries. There’s also VHP of America, VHP meaning Vishwa Hindu Parishad – another Hindutva organization, which is also accused of being involved in the Gujarat riots of 2002. The parent organization, VHP, is also considered a religious militant organization by the CIA and is also active in Canada, Germany, Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. VHPA claims to have established their first chapter in New York, following the relaxation of the laws concerning Asian immigration to the US during the 1960’s. Both of them are associated with RSS and serve the purpose of mobilizing young Hindus living outside of India, presumably with the intent of having them become loyal acolytes of Hindutva ideology. VHP is also the cultural wing of Sangh Parivar, serving the function of supplying “the pure spirit of the Hindu way of life”. Sangh Parivar in the US promotes textbooks that stress strict emphasis on the Vedas and upper-caste values, contain stories and quotations from their own leaders, lionized stories of the life of Chhatrapati Shivaji Bhonsle (a 17th century Indian monarch who promoted Indian tradition) and his supposed conquest of Islam, and claims that the increasing mistreatment of women in India can be blamed on “Muslim rule” in India. As of 2014, 140 HSS chapters have been identified in the United States. VHPA also runs several family camps in the US, with 16 chapters established nationwide.

Related to VHP is a group named Bajrang Dal, a radical Hindutva group responsible for carrying out attacks on Christian churches because of the alleged defaming of Hindu gods, getting involved in the 2002 Gujarat riots in which many Muslims were killed, and even attacks on ordinary people for celebrating Western holidays such as Valentine’s Day. There is apparently no tax-exempt equivalent to this group in the US, and they are recognized as extremists by the US State Department. They run a website named Hinduunity.org, which is registered to a New York address and apparently hosts a black list of people judged to have committed “crimes against the Hindu people” ranging from Osama bin Laden to the Pope, as well as various journalists, academics and human rights activists, including Angana Chatterji (an anthropologist and feminist activist who has spoken out against Hindutva groups) and Biju Matthew (an Indian-American Marxist activist who co-founded the Forum for Indian Leftists). The website was banned by the Indian government in 2006.

Bajrang Dal members seen burning a cross-shaped effigy, possibly being used as a symbol for Valentine’s Day

Like what the BJP have been doing in India, Hindutva affiliated movements have attempted to alter school textbooks to suit their agenda, thus placing them at the center of academic controversy. In 2005 two Hindu advocacy groups known as the Hindu Education Foundation and the Vedic Foundation, both of them backed by the Hindu American Foundation, attempted to push for changes in California’s sixth grade history textbooks, arguing that they maligned the Hindu religion by misrepresenting Hindu attitudes towards women’s rights, class (or in this case the caste society), the Aryan conquest of northern India and other subjects. They sought to sanitize or even rewrite history in various ways. The Hindu Education Foundation wanted to sanitize the history of the caste system by removing as many references to class antagonism as possible, especially concerning the Dalits (or untouchables), whitewash the history of women’s rights by replacing “men had more rights than women” with “men had different duties and rights from women”, homogenize Hindu belief by trying to conflate modern Brahmanism with the older Vedic religion, rewrite the history of the Aryan conquests in order to downplay the invasion, and even tried to claim that chariots were invented in India (when in fact they weren’t). The Vedic Foundation meanwhile sought to outright remove any references to Hinduism as a heterogeneous religion containing differing schools of philosophy and the religions affect on the status and labour of people in Indian society, replace any references to polytheism with monotheism, replace “Brahman” with “God” and “unity with Brahman” with “God realization” and also whitewash the caste system. At first, many changes they requested were accepted by the Curriculum Commission in a classic fit of capitulation to religious sensibilities, opposed only by a handful of indologists. However, in 2006, the special committee of the California State Board of Education voted to overturn most of the changes that were submitted.

So what do these groups have to do with Hindutva exactly? Well, the Hindu Education Foundation is a project of Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh USA, the American branch of HSS, which is itself a subsidiary of RSS as was already established. The Vedic Foundation is linked to VHP, which as we’ve also established is another pro-Hindutva group. The Hindu American Foundation, which backed both groups, is also tied to a number of Indian nationalist groups. The group’s founder, Mihir Meghani, was a member of RSS and on the governing council of VHPA. HAF leaders have also served as board members of the Vivek Welfare and Educational Foundation, which donated $10,000 to VHP and $4.2 million to the Hindu University of America, a subsidiary of VHPA. One of HAF’s directors, Sheetal Shah, attended a rally organized by the Forum for Hindu Awakening and a nationalist group named Hindu Janajagruti Samiti. HAF co-founder Aseem Shakula has also written a piece defending Narendra Modi over his visa denial and the group itself lobbied in opposition to said visa denial. Basically, the 2005-6 textbook controversy in California was Hindu fundamentalists who were allies or proxies of Indian nationalist groups looking to spread their ideology in the United States. This is a salient example within living memory of Hindutva groups attempting to spread their ideology outside of India, through dark money as is the tradition of the United States.

But Hindutva is not without approbators within the United States. David Frawley, an American Hindu teacher and writer of several books on yoga and Vedic scripture, recently claimed that people who oppose Hindutva but not Hinduism itself are dishonest because they “have rarely defended Hinduism from Marxist, Missionary or Islamist criticisms or projected any positive image of Hinduism in India or the world”. Of course, this is not such a strange statement on his part when you consider that he often endorses pro-Modi sentiment on his Twitter, and he himself has praised Narendra Modi’s election in 2014 and supports his re-election this year. Frawley also considers groups like Sangh Parivar to be comparable to Native American and Aboriginal interest groups, which given their own post-colonialist ontology does not actually do wonders for them in my view at least – post-colonialism, after all, is essentially just reactionary politics but for minority groups and because of that it’s dressed up in the veneer of progressivism. In September last year, Democratic lawmaker Raja Krishnamoorthi attended the World Hindu Congress, alongside RSS leaders and the Vice President of India, in order to preach the philosophy of Vivekananda, who was himself an ardent Hindu nationalist.

This of course brings us rather nicely to a blue elephant in the room known as Tulsi Gabbard, who this month announced her bid to run for President of the United States in 2020. Gabbard has garnered a mixed reputation in the US: one the one hand seen as one of the few authentically progressive politicians in the country, and on the other seen as a paleoconservative in disguise for her anti-Islamic stance and anti-interventionism (the latter of which is mostly treated as a positive thing). She does have some progressive credentials to her name, it must be said. She supported Bernie Sanders’ campaign for the presidency in 2016, is a supporter of universal healthcare and marijuana legalization, opposes the TPP, supports a $15 minimum wage and is in favor of renewing the Glass-Steagall Act. She also opposed the war in Iraq and US intervention in Libya, wants the US to pull out of Yemen, Afghanistan and Syria, and is opposed to the US providing foreign aid to Saudi Arabia. But she also has numerous problematic positions, such as her support for Israel, her soft stance on torture (in fact, at one point she said that when pressed she would likely approve torture), has an inconsistent position on the Iran deal, her anti-interventionist stance ultimately being contradicted by her hawkish stance on the war on terror (including her willingness to use drones in Middle Eastern countries where she deems necessary), the fact that she opposed same-sex marriage and worked with her father’s anti-homosexual campaigns until 2012, her coordinations with right-wing nationalists like Steven Bannon and, most importantly for this post, her support for Narendra Modi. Gabbard supports establishing close ties between the US and India, and has praised Modi as an inspiration to elected officials. She criticized the US government for denying Modi’s visa to the US over his apparent oversight or involvement in the 2002 Gujarat riots, which she has tried to downplay saying “there was a lot of misinformation that surrounded the event in 2002”. She congratulated Modi’s election in 2014, and she along with the Overseas Friends of the BJP organized his first trip to the US.

Tulsi Gabbard seen presenting Narendra Modi with a copy of the Bhagavad Gita as a gift

But her support for Modi is not her only connection to Hindutva. Although she is styled as one of the few candidates who doesn’t take corporate money, Gabbard has actually received thousands of dollars from a group called the Hindu American Foundation, which as was already established earlier is pro-Modi and has numerous ties to Hindutva-related groups. She also planned to attend last year’s World Hindu Congress with the likes of Mohan Bhagwat, current chief of RSS, but was forced to withdraw on the grounds that it would be a “partisan political event” after significant protest and threats of boycott by progressive South Asian activists. She also has close ties to Sangh Parivar, apparently through sympathetic donors. As such, Tulsi Gabbard can be seen as something of a proxy for Hindutva interests, most likely tied to her geopolitical interests concerning US alliance with India, as well as mutual hatred of Islam. Also, as something of a side-note, it’s worth mentioning that many Hindu nationalists share support for Israel in common with Tulsi Gabbard, and Narendra Modi himself considers Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to be a close friend. Thus, in a broad sense, we may consider that the unlikely event that the 2020 election were to come down to Trump versus Gabbard would amount to nothing more and nothing less than a contest between the interests of Christian and Hindu nationalisms.

Hindutva’s foreign acolytes and allies are not limited to the US, either. The French journalist Francois Gautier has also openly expressed his admiration for Narendra Modi, claiming that he was a great ecologist who “wanted to make Gujarat the greenest, most investor-friendly state of India”, and is generally a strong supporter of Hindutva movements. He has also claimed that India has been weakened by Buddhism as well as foreign religions, and has attacked the pacifism and liberalism of both Gandhi and Nehru. Gautier even likes to spread the dubious claim that the Kaaba stone in Mecca is actually a Shivalingam. Canadian conservative pundit Tarek Fatah participated in a number of summits hosted by BJP-linked organizations, is beloved by the Indian right-wing for his strident attitude towards Islam and Indian Muslims, and sometimes echoes talking points similar to Hindutva ideology through his Indian ancestry. He even goes so far as to claim himself to be of Indian identity, while attacking his opponents as being affiliated with Pakistan despite being born in Pakistan himself. The Belgian indologist Koenraad Elst is also a noteworthy supporter of Hindutva, and has received praise from the BJP for his book Ram Janmabhoomi vs Babri Masjid, where he apparently attempts to make a case for Ram Janmabhoomi being the actual birthplace of the mythical Rama, thus strengthening ideas of an authochthonous Hindu tradition and of Hindu revivalism.

Furthermore it’s possible that some Hindutva ideas may even have spread to Norway, inspiring the terrorist Anders Breivik. In Breivik’s manifesto, 2080: A European Declaration of Independence, India is referenced in 102 pages – that’s out of a total of 1,518 pages, but you could argue it’s still more than you might have expected. He accused the Indian government, at the time ruled by a liberal coalition referred to as the United Progressive Alliance, of relying on appeasing Muslims, Christian missionaries and communists, praised Hindu nationalist movements who rioted and attacked Muslims (while reflexively deeming such behaviour counter-productive), said that the goals of the Hindutva movements are “more or less identical” with his own, and cited India was one of a number of countries where he hoped his successors would carry on his mission – the others being Russia, the Philippines, China and Thailand. He also listed a number of websites for numerous Hindu nationalist groups. The groups listed are Bharatiya Janata Party (the current ruling party), Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the National Volunteers’ Organisation, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad and Vishwa Hindu Parishad. Breivik also cites the works of authors like Shrinandan Vyas, who claims that Muslims killed millions of Hindus in religious genocide, and Kishori Saran Lal, who is often accused of being a spokesperson for RSS (to which he responds, rather conspicuously, by accusing his critics of having a left-wing bias), in order to advance his narrative of Muslims being a genocidal threat to India and the West. Breivik even ordered a badge of his own design (a crusader’s sword piercing a skull marked with the symbols of Islam, communism and Nazism) from India.

The badge that Anders Breivik ordered from India

So what does all of this mean? Well, broadly speaking, it means that Hindutva is nowhere near the insular force that, to the average Westerner, it may seem. Ironically for a nationalist movement, one centered around India no less, Hindutva is not simply an idea confined to India. In fact, it can arguably be said to be a global movement at this point in time, albeit one centered around the interests specific to the Indian nationalist movement, one that has its eyes set on Hindu diaspora across the world and will come out against anyone who dares criticize the Modi government. The foot soldiers of Hindutva are present in the United States in the thousands, and there’s the very real prospect that one of their proxies could become President of the United States. Given Tulsi’s harsh stance towards Pakistan, this could have major implications for India-Pakistan relations, and may even affect the possibility of confrontation going forward. But in a broader sense, it represents a current of radical conservative nationalism with a global presence, or even fascism – the latter being rather hard to deny considering both the RSS’ Hitlerian inspirations and in turn their influence on Anders Breivik.

Hinduism is being used as a vehicle by religious fundamentalists, the Indian bourgeoisie, various petty-bourgeois forces, and reactionaries (and their network of think tanks) for their political purposes, possibly as just another effort to stop any kind of socialist or even social-democratic movement from gaining power in a time characterized by widespread economic instability in the world, but also India’s possible transformation into a new global superpower. It would be wise to keep tracks of the Hindutva movement as India undergoes this transformation, not least due to its infiltration of American society.

The First Amendment is officially a joke

The last month has been very eventful for freedom of speech on the Internet, and not for good cause. Last week, Tumblr announced a total ban on pornography would be implemented on December 17th. As has often been the case in past moral crusades against pornography, the impetus for this is a classic “think of the children!” scenario. In a statement, Tumblr makes it explicitly clear that their underlying motivation is to crack down on child pornography. But, it should be obvious to us that this excuse is a hollow in its self-righteousness. First of all if it was truly only child pornography they were concerned with, they would not be so focused on removing all adult content on the website. Secondly, despite the website’s claims to still allow free discussion about sexuality, the new move appears to present a credible threat to various sexual subcultures, sex-positive activists and sex workers by targeting their content even if it is not overtly pornographic.

In addition to this, art featuring nudity will inevitably also be targeted by this blanket and imprecise ban, as classical religious artwork featuring nude goddesses, saints and even Jesus himself have been flagged as “adult content”. This will not simply affect classical art either. Stealing Knowledge, a Tumblr blog which catalogues all sorts of interesting and obscure tidbits pertaining to my favored gamed series Shin Megami Tensei, also expects to have content flagged and then removed from the website, especially under ridiculous pretexts. And Tumblr is not alone in such censorship of art. Facebook actually banned an art historian and curator named Ruben Cordova from their website for posting pictures of Met Bruer’s popular exhibition Like Life: Sculpture, Color, and the Body, which seems to have triggered the website’s algorithm for nude photos which are banned by the website. With this in mind, it becomes empirically clear that Tumblr is joining a much broader trend in social media of sanitizing online space under the guise of fighting child pornography.

Now you might be wondering what precisely this whole thing has to do with the First Amendment of the United States constitution. Well there are those who speculate that Tumblr was simply gearing up for new FOSTA-SESTA legislation which will have nasty consequences for the future of online pornography in general. Under the pretext of fighting human trafficking (on that point it’s worth mentioning that only a small number of cases actually relate to pornography), SESTA legislation will target websites that allegedly “promote or facilitate prostitution”, which is broad enough that legal escort services, certain cryptocurrencies and even pornography might be included. As a matter of fact, supporters of such legislation themselves are quite candid in their hope that such legislation will lead to a ban of pornography entirely. This is problematic because of the fact that the First Amendment protects most forms of erotic entertainment, with obvious exceptions such as child pornography and revenge porn, and in fact there are already fears that FOSTA-SESTA represents an intrusion of First Amendment rights.

I cannot ignore the irony of all this. The First Amendment is supposed to be America’s ironclad guarantor of freedom of speech and expression in the United States, the example of such for the free world (in contrast to my country where we don’t even have a written constitution). But the powers that be can effectively subvert it in the name of a substanceless moral panic disguising the expansion of unitary power over free expression. This applies not only to pornography and sex-positive communities (not to mention online LGBT groups), but also, as I’ve pointed out months ago, criticism of Israel. America, for its pretense to care about freedom of speech, is quite prepared to destroy it in as many ways as it can get away with in order to sanitize public discussion on the Internet.

On campus censorship: it looks like we’ve been deceived

I remember back in 2015-2016 there were many things going on within both American and British colleges/universities. The safe spaces, the loud minority of people who came to be referred to as social justice warriors, the trigger warnings, anti-racist protesters who demand the removal of some speakers, and people like Michelle Click, painted the picture of the modern university as a repressive environment (though I always thought it weird how this was never the case for my university as such). This put together with a confluence of narratives surrounding left-liberal intellectual hegemony within wider society, made it easy to believe that there was some kind of authoritarian left dominance of the campus space at the expense of intellectual diversity and freedom. You’ll find this narrative parroted to this day by the likes of Jonathan Haidt, Jonah Goldberg, David Frum, Douglas Murray, Jonathan Chait, Jordan Peterson, Sam Harris, Bret and Eric Weinstein (the latter of whom works for Peter Thiel and supported the NXIVM-backed The Knife Media), Dave Rubin (himself backed by the Koch Brothers), Dennis Prager (from the outright Pravda organisation known as Prager University), Charles Murray, Ben Shapiro and Charlie Kirk (from another Pravda organisation and living meme known as Turning Point USA), as well as the people who comprised the GamerGate crowd, including Carl Benjamin. It’s so ubiquitous an idea that even former president Barack Obama referenced it in a speech about free speech on college campuses. As much sense as it seemed to make at the time, some data has recently emerged that casts doubt on the narrative we’re used to.

Vox recently released an article about some data drawn from studies conducted by Georgetown University back in March, and the Niskanen Center in April. The overall picture, contrary to popular imagination and the odd New York Times column, is that it is actually left-leaning individuals who face the most censorship. In the Niskanen Center study, you will find a graph sourced from The US Faculty Termination for Political Speech Database which shows that it is actually liberal/left-leaning faculty members who are terminated over political speech more often than their conservative/right-wing counterparts. Not only that, if you look at the graph, you’ll notice a curious trend: starting at 2015, you do indeed find that it is conservative academics who are more likely to be terminated, but when you get to 2016, not only do we see liberals/lefties get fired more, but the number of liberals/lefties getting fired for political speech skyrockets over the next year, while the number of conservatives getting fired flatlines from 2016 onwards. If conservatives were really getting persecuted for political speech across the board, that trend would be reversed.

The Georgetown University study points out that while there are definitely high-profile instances of right-wing speakers being shut down (Gavin McInnes, Milo Yiannopolous, Ben Shapiro et al), there are just as surely incidents of (at least seemingly) left-leaning individuals who faced censure and don’t get nearly the same coverage: there was Lars Maischak (a professor of American history at California State University) who was fired for tweeting that Donald Trump should be hanged, there was Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor (a professor at Princeton University) who was forced to cancel speeches in Washington and California because of death threats following a commencement speech where she called Trump a racist, sexist megalomaniac, there was Sarah Bond (a professor of classics at the University of Iowa) who faced death threats from white supremacists for suggesting that the ancient marble statues of Greece and Rome became white because of age and were originally painted in colour (because apparently suggesting that Greek statues were painted is some kind of Cultural Marxist agenda for white genocide), and there was a student named Dee Dee Simpson (a graduate of Sonoma State University in California) who was reprimanded for reciting a poem during graduation in which he condemns the violence that occurs against African-Americans.

Let that last part sink in: a student in what we’re all told is a left-dominated academic environment was reprimanded for condemning violence against African-Americans. That alone should cast doubt on the narrative concerning academic political correctness.

I should also mention John Summa from the University of Vermont (who is not mentioned in the study), who tried to teach his students alternative economics and critiques of neoclassical economics and whose contract was not renewed, and has had to fight for his career in order to continue teaching. But you will not see self-proclaimed “free speech warriors” take the side of any of those people, because they do not care. It is typically only when non-left-leaning or non-progressive figures face silence that they sound the horn of outrage. And sometimes they even call for the censorship of people they disagree with, as was the case for George-Ciccariello Maher (over his white genocide tweet). Not to mention, Fox News openly calls for the censorship of anyone in academia, college or high school, who insults a Republican or whatever it is they care about, chiding them for basically committing hate speech (funny how conservatives can’t even be consistent in their opposition to the concept of hate speech), such as the example of Gregory Salcido who bashed the military and was accused of bullying and snitched on by some snowflake students. Ironic, isn’t it?

And if that’s not enough, even the basic premise of this authoritarian far-left dominance of academia is not supported by data. Last year, InsideHigherEd looked into the subject, and one of the things they found was that academia was actually dominated by self-identified moderates. 46.1% of faculty members identify as moderates, 44.1% identify as liberal or left-leaning, and just 9.2% identify as conservative or right-leaning. This would mean that, technically, left-leaning academics are not in fact the dominant force in universities. Hell, even the narrative of academic dominance has shifted over the years. According to the Niskanen study, even the number of conservatives who believe that universities are hostile towards their speech has gone down within the last two years, while now it’s liberals/lefties who believe that universities are hostile towards them.

While we’re still here, I’ve also discovered some research conducted by a political scientist named Justin Murphy, specifically an article titled “Who Is Afraid of Free Speech in the United States?”, and it turns out that the far-left are nowhere near as averse to freedom of speech as you would be lead to believe nowadays. His research showed that “extreme liberals” (possibly referring to hard-leftists given America’s bastardized political lexicon) are actually the most supportive of freedom of speech within the broad political spectrum, and that the centre-left (or slightly left) and the far-right, not the far-left, are the groups most opposed to freedom of speech. In a way this finding kind of dovetails with a recent New York Times article which showed that centrists, rather than extremists, are statistically the least supportive towards democracy (which is ironic considering the New York Times is one of the archetypal liberal centrist outlets).

Keep in mind, all of this is applicable to America, here in the United Kingdom, a YouGov poll was released a few months ago which suggests that there is no actual evidence that students are more likely to oppose freedom of speech.

So, in broad summary, the narrative of overbearing dominance of academia by crazy left-wing ideologues and the suppression of academic freedom by them is a myth, based on lies by omission and popular anecdotes concerning political correctness on campus, pushed predominantly by conservative ideologues for the purpose of delegitimizing both left-wing and liberal movements, increasing support for right-wing political causes and politicians, getting liberal media outlets to hire conservative writers (whilst they hardly ever practice the same intellectual diversity with liberals for their own outlets) and generally projecting their own sense of victimhood. Yes, you heard me: much of this has been a self-serving victim narrative this entire time. The SJWs you see make up a loud minority that can be used to paint the left in general with a broad brush by those who want to accuse them of being fascists.

Pretty much

All this in mind, I would like to add some historical context to the basic premise I’ve described as well, because it is actually an old narrative within American politics. Right-wing pundits have been complaining about what they termed political correctness for past few decades, arguably beginning with the release of Allan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind, Roger Kimball’s Tenured Radicals and Dinesh D’Souza’s Illiberal Education.  Even centrists embraced it at the time, with publications such as The Atlantic and New York Magazine running such cover stories as “Better Watch What You Say!” and “Are You Politically Correct?” as far back as 1991. Furthermore, as John K Wilson pointed out in The Myth of Political Correctness, the Olin Foundation gave thousands of dollars not only to Dinesh D’Souza, Charlie Sykes, The New Criterion (a conservative art journal edited by Roger Kimball), Peter Collier, David Horowitz (both of whom wrote a journal called Heterodoxy dedicated to “exposing” excessive political correctness), and Carol Iannone, but also supposedly liberal and centrist figures such as Christina Hoff Sommers and Richard Bernstein (the latter of whom worked for the New York Times), in order to promote the idea that authoritarian, politically correct left-wingers are attacking academic freedom. While the modern outrage over political correctness seems grassroots, and arguably sort of is (which I will touch on later), back then the whole political correctness thing was very much a mainstream media narrative backed up by right-wing think tank money. But this isn’t even the beginning of the trope. That honour goes to William F Buckley Jr, probably the grandfather of modern American right, and his 1951 book God and Man at Yale, which argued Yale was forcing left-wing ideology on its students and suppressing conservative (not to mention, Christian) thought on campus, and incidentally was also published by Regnery Publishing (owned by the financiers of the National Policy Institute). Huh, it seems even in the beginning there was right wing money behind it.

In broad terms, what we are seeing now is a repeat of the academic debates surrounding political correctness and alleged suppression of intellectual diversity that occurred in the late 1980s and the 1990s. Since there is no evidence of a takeover of authoritarian left-wing politics between the 1990s and the 2010s in the United States (I mean, unless somehow a secretive Bolshevik cabal successfully infiltrated the American government), we can conclude that the discussion of back then proved to be just a moral panic, and can speculate from here that the modern discussion surrounding academic political correctness will likely prove to be a moral panic as well.

Of course, while not identical in nature, the narrative also dovetails nicely with the Cultural Marxism conspiracy theory, which has been a thing since the late 1980s, originally propounded by far-right thinkers such as William Lind, Paul Weyrich (who along with Jerry Falwell started the Moral Majority movement in the late 1970s, and was also the founder of the Heritage Foundation), Pat Buchanan, and Paul Gottfried, and largely took off after the Cold War. The theory goes that the Frankfurt School infiltrated academic institutions across the West in order to displace classical Western philosophy and “Judeo-Christian values” in order to subvert the political stability of the West, and also something about Jewish subversion. No seriously, guys like Lind and Buchanan ascribed “Cultural Marxism” to the Jewish race, and Lind himself even said “they are also, to a man, Jewish” when describing the Frankfurt School in a speech to Accuracy in Academia, which is probably no accident considering that the general theory of Jewish Marxists subverting culture and academia is essentially an echo of the Nazi ideology of Kulturbolshevismus (or Cultural Bolshevism), where just about anything that wasn’t romantic fascist culture that promoted the Nazi party and ideology was deemed the product of Marxist and Jewish subversion. This is an idea that continues to be prominent within the far-right, and hasn’t died out with the Nazis. In fact, the mythology of Cultural Marxism in some form is espoused today not just by hardline right-wingers, but also self-described libertarians and classical liberals, and one Jordan Peterson (who repackages it as “postmodern neo-Marxism” because he doesn’t understand any of the ideologies he’s trying to reference). Oh, and the notorious fascist terrorist Anders Breivik, whose massacre of students in Norway brought the Cultural Marxism conspiracy theory back into the spotlight.

According to the modern version of Cultural Marxism, the SJWs and the already nebulous and non-empirical notion of illiberal progressive dominance of academia, not to mention the liberal media, is actually part of a long standing, ongoing conspiracy by Marxists to destroy not just traditional values (this time) but also the liberal democratic values of the Enlightenment as a quest to destroy all forms of meaning and value and replace them with mindless intellectual anarchy so that they can create a populace ripe for control by elites. Oh, and if you believe the whole package for long enough, it still involves Jews. It’s still a revival of a fascist conspiracy theory, and because it got spread around as an explanation for modern political correctness, many people on supposedly liberal circles who found themselves opposed to the SJWs ended up adopting the term to describe modern liberal-progressive tendencies and the SJWs, though not always believing it wholesale.

I think I’ve said enough on this point, but it’s worth considering how the mythology of academic political correctness and thought suppression became a thing in the 2010s. Like I said earlier, I think it can still be argued that the modern outrage about political correctness had a somewhat grassroots source, and I do stand by that. While it is true that right-wing money is still there and a powerful player in all this (Turning Point USA, for instance, is sponsored by Dennis Prager and the NRA, and Dave Rubin is sponsored by Learn Liberty, a division of the Institute for Human Studies which is partly run by one of the Koch Brothers), I do believe there are people in both academic and online circles who have encountered people who are progressive and/or liberal but possess an authoritarian mindset or controlling personality, and their activities and personalities may have moved a number of people to the right or at least away from the left. Not to mention, we can’t erase the well-documented incidents of SJWs doing what they do best – namely intimidate and harass people and disrupt events by shouting at them about privilege. A lot of this probably has something to do with the way GamerGate exploded into a wider “culture war” of sorts against progressives, and while the original impetus of the movement began with 4chan chat logs, it did trigger a lot of grassroots support drawn towards it. Not to mention, the broad concept of political correctness does sometimes apply to real phenomenon, such as the cases of the Rotherham and Rochdale grooming gangs and how they were handled by the authorities. Finally, while, academia is dominated by moderates, there is still a large enough presence of left-leaning academics and there is much said about said left-leaning academics in various media circles that can lead you to think that left-leaning thought is dominant.

Taken together, there are good reasons you can find yourself falling into this popular myth about academic suppression based on political correctness. If there is a lesson to take from this besides the main point, it’s the simple fact that people and their worldviews are formed and shaped by the environments they are in and the information they take in about it (which is often limited, either by circumstance or willful denial stemming from personal bias). And so for many Americans at least, their experience at university could well lead them into the worldview they have now. It’s also worth addressing how a lot of grassroots sentiment can be picked up by big moneyed political interests when it aligns with their own pre-existing goals. It happened with The Tea Party and the Koch Brothers, it’s been going on with the Mercers supporting nationalism, right-populism and the alt-right, it happened with Occupy Wall Street where a surprising number of the bourgeoisie supported it, and we’re seeing a lot of the “free speech warrior” crowd line up with conservatism and find the support of Turning Point USA, which is financially tied to Dennis Prager and is even known for trying to funnel money to conservative causes. In fact, there are several conservative think tanks operating on college campuses in America funneling dark money to conservative causes, suggesting that what’s been going on back in the 1990’s is still happening today, and that these dark money groups see, in the modern liberal outrage against SJWs, a golden goose opportunity to infiltrate universities and swing disaffected liberals over to the Republican Party and the right wing. All the same though, it would be a mistake to think this is some sort of anti-establishment sentiment. In fact, as I’ve established, far from being a sentiment that exists chiefly on the rebellious fringes of Internet politics, the mythology of academic political correctness is not only a long-held right-wing trope but also an embedded idea of the neoliberal-neoconservative-centrist alliance for decades.

Meanwhile, I think the mythology of a leftist dominance of academia and plot to destroy academic freedom is likely to set Americans down a path that will, ironically, be the real danger to academic freedom, because the ideologues who propound this mythology are ultimately hypocrites. Jordan Peterson not only barred Faith Goldy from sharing a platform with him and other “free speech activists”, but he is also on record saying that there should be a blacklist for professors who teach postmodernism and “neo-Marxism”, which is just a rehash of what Joseph McCarthy did and is also the kind of thing you expect from Richard fucking Nixon. Turning Point USA has a project called Professor Watchlist, which is pretty much exactly the kind of blacklist that Peterson advocates and exists almost entirely to shame professors for holding the wrong opinions on campus. Bari Weiss, a Zionist New York Times columnist who claims to defend academic freedom, has a history of trying to suppress academic criticism of Israel. There are also many cases where the liberal Alan Dershowitz pressured colleges and journalists over cartoons depicting him as having odious political views and colleges hosting BDS speakers, all because it’s “offensive” to him as a Zionist, and he even led a campaign to deny Norman Finkelstein his tenure at DePaul University because of his academic criticisms of Israel. It is actually somewhat well-documented that anti-Israel voices have a habit of being smeared as anti-Semites by people who want to shut them down, and cartoonists can actually be fired for making satirical cartoons critical of Benjamin Netanyahu or Israeli foreign policy. As I mentioned earlier, Fox News and many right-wing channels on YouTube will openly condemn any academic speaker who is against Republicans, Trump, the armed forces, Israel and other things they care about, and sentimentally disregard their exercise to free speech as treasonous hate speech. They wouldn’t be the only right wingers who aren’t consistent about free speech either. And, contrary to the narrative surrounding campus censorship, the real threats to free speech are not radical left-wing students, but actually the American government in accordance with the whims of Donald Trump and the Republican party, who are all too eager to suppress left-wing or anti-fascist/anti-racist protests whilst having gall to claim they’re supporting freedom of speech, expression and association. What’s more, far from being alienated, libertarian and conservative ideologues are being pushed into academia by right wing donors. But you’ll never be told this by the likes of Fox News, The New York Times, Spiked, or Carl Benjamin, or any of the intellectuals set against what they call the regressive left (by now simply a catch all term for any leftist that liberals don’t like).

That’s all I have to say on this. I do regret focusing so much on the American situation without saying anything about the British situation, but there honestly isn’t much to say about the situation here in the UK, or at least it’s far less pronounced than in America where there is dark money everywhere. However, I would not be too surprised if I found that there are right wing think tanks operating in colleges in the UK and doing similar things to what the American think tanks are doing. What happens in America never really stays there. As a final point, let me just say that political correctness as a broad concept is still a thing. It’s overplayed and mythologized to merry fuck by right wing capitalists who want to take over higher education, but it can used to refer to many things in political life pertaining to some semblance of unspoken manners of conduct, though hardly the monolithic progressive ideology that certain reactionary ideologues portray it as in order to smear left-wingers as totalitarians-in-waiting. But the narrative of this concerted left wing effort to silence free speech on college campuses is simply not supported by data. In fact, it is empirically clear that it is the liberals of the center who are among the real authoritarians, who ally with the right wing in order to suppress dissident voices in the name of capital and power on behalf of the establishment, for they don’t really value freedom of speech like they claim to, at least not universally.

So, in closing, if you are for freedom of speech, you must realize that the left, for the most part, are not your enemies. The evidence is clear on this matter. It is time to stop treating them as such. The real enemies are the coalitions of capitalists who funnel money towards right-wing causes and the centrists who cry free speech in one breath while silencing opposing voices in the next, and the rapid expansion of state power in the Western world that threatens freedom of speech for everybody. The narrative that the left are the real authoritarians is a way for the American liberal-conservative alliance to maintain power and clout and push back the influence of social-democratic and progressive politics in America, which is no coincidence given the rise of social democracy in the 2010s.

Do not be deceived.