Wednesday, 30 June 2010

The TonyBlairFaithFoundation

Private Eye once had a skit on Blair as the Vicar of St Albion. With Blair now still pontificating from the pulpit some people think that Blair is trying to atone for his sins in supporting Bush's invasion of Iraq in 2003.

It is ultimately impossible to mind read Blair. Looking at his website though certain things stand out.

His Tony Blair Faith Foundation ostensibly has laudable goals such as eradicating malaria and getting faith communities involved in distributing health resources to do so.

Blair's missionary impetus and calls to promote inter-faith dialogue and get them to co-operate in ridding the world of preventable deaths does seem like 'displacement therapy' on his part.

If over a million people have died as a result of the invasion of Iraq, because of the collapse of that state into inter-ethnic and sectarian conflict, then the aims of his Faith Foundation are to work against such a level of death elsewhere.

It is difficult not to think Blair's motives are still about self justification and that he has some form of messiah complex where through his agency he can show the power of the will to believe in 'getting things done'.

Unfortunately, it was that belief that led him to commit Britain to Iraq and his Faith Foundation contains propaganda about what he sees as the wholly reconciliable nature of world faiths such as Islam and US global hegemony.

Including this lecture which was organised by Clive Tuggle, Vice Chairman of Coca Cola.

The Mighty and the Almighty: American Foreign Policy and God, talk given by Madeline Albright at Yale Divinity School where Blair has been appointed.....

As the blurb goes,
Madeline Albright, the first woman Secretary of State and highest ranking woman in the history of the US government, draws upon her personal experiences to talk about how the borderless nature of religious faith often makes it easier for leaders to talk to one another, easier for nations to agree on common values, and easier for people from vastly different backgrounds to reach a consensus about moral standards.
There is a contradiction between Blair's belief that all faiths can work together for the greater good and the fact that this can be promoted through the kind of international politics where the US 'plays God'.

For it was Albright, previously US Secretary of state under Bill Clinton. Albright who imposed misery on Iraq through sanctions in pursuit of the goal of controlling it's oil resources.

There was not much evidence of Christian principles in 1996 when she was asked on the TV show 60 Minutes if she could justify the deaths of half of a million Iraqi children caused, according to Unicef, by an economic embargo that denied the country basic medicines.

"I think this is a very hard choice but the price – we think the price is worth it"

Naturally, such a morality of necessary sacrifice was not mentioned with regards the sanctions on Iraq

'In many developing countries religion is one of the most powerful sources of personal identity – for good and ill. Understanding these identities is critical to tackling conflict and understanding politics. Equally, the role of religion in forming attitudes and behaviour can be profoundly important in addressing the causes and effects of poverty.

The great London multi-faith march by religious leaders this year to promote the Millennium Development Goals was further evidence of the power wielded by faith communities when they work together.

We know they are effective advocates – that's not the key question in development.

The answer is providing help to enable faith communities to develop their capabilities. It doesn't make sense for them to do this separately. This is a core part of the vision of my Faith Foundation.When faith communities collaborate for justice and human development there is a double payoff: things get done and respect and understanding between them grows.

Faith communities given training, some funding and mobile phones, could provide governments with missing data about incidence of disease and the effectiveness of healthcare delivery in parts of their populations where government has negligible access.

Faith communities are not NGOs in the normal sense. They were not consciously created for service delivery, health care, advocacy, or education. They are a gathered people brought together by often ancient religious traditions carried through the generations by a community of faith. They are centred on worship, usually rooted in sacred texts and have a particular spirituality and set of symbols'
Tony Blair Engage with the Faith, The Guardian 7 September 2009

As with anything Tony Blair writes on religion it is the political objectives that have to be considered: in particular the utility of 'faith' in bringing together people from diverse backgrounds to support the creation of a universal civilisation.

The subtleties of traditional theology are less important to Blair than the miraculous power of 'faith' to bring about progressive change if only there is the will to do it, something better considered as 'belief' which is quite the contrary of faith.

The philosopher Alan Watts had it right when he argued that belief is a form of clinging to myths and dogmas that provide people with the bedrock of security in an insecure world, that screen out all that cannot be accepted.

The word faith derives from the Latin word fidere, which means to have trust whilst belief comes from an Old English word that refers to what a person values because it helps them to live and ought not to be questioned through fear.

In Blair's case those beliefs are Progress and US led Globalisation.

The belief that progress and globalisation harnessed to the project of advancing US power is a good thing. That the US and Britain as multicultural and multifaith societies are some microcosm for how the entire world could live and sing in perfect harmony.

Though Blair is ostensibly a Catholic, his creed derives more from the Positivism of Auguste Comte, the nineteenth century inventor of sociology and a great influence on Anthony Giddens, the man who created 'the Third Way'.

As John Gray writes in Al Qaida and What it Means to be Modern,
The Positivists did not aim merely to revolutionise society. Their aim was to found a new religion. [Count Henri de] Saint-Simon believed the ‘positive doctrine’ would become the basis for a new ‘church’ when all scientists united to form a permanent ‘clergy’.
The clergy of this new faith are the persuaders, the corporate sponsors and advertisers, the PR gurus and those who wish to channel the energies of the world's population into a placid and benign consumerism enlivened with a bit of faith in being nice.

Blair believes that all races and creeds will come together because the West can propagate and put into practice the new 'religion of humanity' where all nations are interdependent and work together for the good of all.

When the globe is united upon a shared common vision the metaphysical era in which progress represents the cumulative knowledge of the entire species and the "One Way" to truth and salvation which is, in Comte's scheme of things, the positivist era.

To hasten the coming advent of the positivist era it is sometimes necessary to 'set aside God in the name of religion' if that means the dead hand of dogma, as when Blair tried to convince the Pope why a War on Iraq was necessary.

Men themselves can become as Gods once despots, terrorists and nationalists are destroyed and removed from holding back Progress and dividing humanity from the recognition of its real true interests in co-operating in accordance with their comparative advantages.

Though these beliefs are a core part of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, the search for global order through stressing common humanity of all people everywhere is partly a balm for those who have a disturbed conscience or who are worried about resource scarcity.
We live in a global community. The contest for scarce resources, water and oil, will be intense by mid-century. Our interdependence is manifest whether at the level of climate change or global financial markets.

We need the inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue that turns neighbours into friends able to work together to confront the threats to our common security.
The Iraq War was fought because Blair believed that by ridding Iraq of Saddam Hussein the oil of Iraq could work for the benefit of the West and Iraqi's through Western investment and the tapping of new oil fields in the south.

This war was Utopian in that it tried to reconcile objectives that could not be, such as promoting Western democracy whilst at the same time expecting that this would not polarise ethnic and 'faith based communities' previously only separated from conflict by fear of Saddam.

Moreover, how Iraqi democracy could ever be reconciled with the need to control Iraqi oil primarily for the benefit of the West and our energy security was overlooked. With North Sea oil running out and Iraq's oilfield malfunctioning die to sanctions, Blair felt the UK had to invade.

With Iraq's population due to double within twenty years in spite of the war, oil prices would need to rise if Iraq's population were to benefit. the West needs falling oil prices to maintain it's lifestyle and the consumerism to which people are accustomed.

The belief in force as a midwife of a new global order presided over by the USA held by New Labour progressives was partly the legacy of Marxist ideas. Yet it also derived from standard liberal notions of a universal social order which would end conflicts-as in Europe after Kosovo.

Albert Camus remarked on the Soviet Communist's attempt to create a universal order through power, myth and force and how it drew on the legacy of Positivism that,
Utopia replaces God with the future. Then it proceeds to identify the future with ethics: the only values are those which serve this particular future. For that reason Utopias have almost always been coercive and authoritarian......

The demand for justice ends in injustice if it is not primarily based on an ethical justification of justice: without this, crime itself one day becomes a duty. When good and evil are reintegrated in time and confused with events, nothing any longer is either good or bad, but only premature or out of date.

Who will decide on the opportunity if not the opportunist? Later, say the disciples, you will judge. but the victims will not be there to judge. Messianism in order to exist must construct a defence against the victims...
Albert Camus The Rebel. State Terrorism and Rational Terror pages 163 & 177

A New Psychopathology of Class War "Anarchy".

When walking through London, careful observers may have come across posters on the wall and stickers plastered about on lampposts across the capital which bear the words Class War.

The one shown here, 'Only Losers Support the BNP', has a strange message though when the fighting creed of Class War, an anarchist group, is looked at.

It's as if the only reason a person would not support the BNP is because it is more the politically incorrect formula for direct action and violence against the system.

Apart from the fact that discriminating against racial minorities is bad and hateful, it is seen as deflecting attention away from the true source of all oppression-the Ruling Class.

It's difficult to see, moreover, how 'winners' would support what are often considered the amoral and deracinated scum that constitutes the (dis )organisation of Class War.

Unless, of course one had once been sympathetic to the far-right at the level of admiring its violence and psychotic hatred for 'the system'.

For Class War's co-founders were Ian Bone who began as an activist with the SWP, a far left party which extols violent revolution, and Martin Wright whose political trajectory is far more curious.

Leafing through Clive Bloom's Violent London: 2000 Years of Riots, Rebels and Revolts, is this piece of information on page 478,
'Wright had a history of teenage violence against black teachers and had been attracted by the politics of the fascist National Front ( NF ).....Both sought to harness the new organised violence of football 'firms' for political purposes. In organisations such as ALF and Class War the old antagonisms became blurred: ALF, for instance, used agitators like Dave Nicholls, a tax inspector and an organiser for the Essex branch of the British Movement ( BM ) until 1981. 'Rucks' within the BM and other neo-Nazi organisations were the sort of forum in which anarchism could attach itself to the Anti-Nazi League and also find its own voice'.
Class War was a movement that was given official status on the G20 Alternative protests lists of affiliated groups.

Whereas the existence of somebody like Wright with a background like his who was trying to be 'respectable' in the BNP would have been revealed by anti-fascist monitors like Searchlight, Class War is not subject to the same criticism.

The first reason is that Wright explicitly rejected the NF and the BNP by 1985 in a speech he made at a Class War Conference. The speech was recorded and can be watched here.

Wright makes it clear that he had experienced a conversion when in fact he rejected the NF and the BNP because they did not offer 'real change' or real revolutionary violence against a system which was becoming more authoritarian and anti-working class,
People are thinking about the working class being a load of oafs and so on and that can't change. Well, I think that all of us have changed, that's why we're here. Years ago I was fucking ignorant. I thought Enoch Powell was the greatest geezer that ever lived like, y' know..Just shift a few darkies back to Africa and all our problems will be solved, y'know, really sort of simplistic like, y'know but obviously...a really sort of right wing argument, y'know

I changed..I came into contact with other people...We've all changed and people out there will change. I hear things about the National Front and the NBP. The National Front and the BNP are fucking nothing, they're fuck all like y'know. A few years ago, yeah, they were something, they brought out thousands on to the streets....Our answer was to go out and kick their fucking heads in basically. We took them on and we beat them'
The second reason is that Class War's version of revolutionary violence is seen as politically correct because only discriminatory in its choice of hating all those who in the Ruling Class of all races and backgrounds who oppress and con the Working Class.

Those who prop up the Ruling Class by participating in the illusions of consumerism and 'Middle Class values' need to be forced out of their docility and sheeple like devotion to the system by radical 'propaganda of the deed'.

That has included agitation during the Poll Tax Riots of 1990 onwards to The May Day Riots of 2000 and every May Day since where the shops and retail outlets belonging to corporations have been smashed and vandalised by those intent on Class War.

Unfortunately for Class War, such forms of direct action have been overshadowed by increasingly sophisticated policing methods and the proliferation of CCTV cameras which make it difficult to operate without getting caught.

That has led Class War to try and resort to street theatre. An example was Moon Against the Monarchy 2000 ( M'AM ) which aimed to get 2000 people to bare their backsides at the monarchy outside Buckingham Palace and to shock the Queen Mother into dropping dead.

Unfortunately, the 'Down with the Establishment' pose has worn thin, an easy target when monarchy has become in recent years with little more than a bad soap opera anyway, the remnant of a stage set long since having little to do with propping up consumerism.

If the monarchy survives it is through inertia and because abolishing it would mean a constitution and new political settlement, something New Labour does not want because of the power of the PM. Unlike Starbucks or McDonald's, the monarchy is not a symbol of hated globalisation.

That hate symbol is now the greedy banker in the wake of the financial crisis of 2008 and the consequent global slump which has hit Britain far harder than most developed nations. Yet in the end nothing came of the G 20 Meltdown in the City protests.

More than that the Whitechapel anarchists seem to have developed a ritualistic form of cop baiting, an adrenalin rush experience no more meaningful that a bungee jump and that has about as much chance of destabilising the system.

Anarchists no matter what they do merely seem seem passe, a remnant of the 1970s and punk attitudes towards the toffs no less than the monarchy, itself. That can be seen in the TV appearances of that now ageing and doltish imbecile John Lydon of the Sex Pistols who does programmes on Crocodiles.

Such posturing idiots are easily absorbed into into the media 'society of the spectacle' through the debilitating kitsch of pre-emptive nostalgia, the hunger for the 'we were there' feeling that animates doltish rock festival fans.

Ian Bone's loathing of the monarchy is largely part of rebellion against his the system which made his father a Butler, mere toytown revolutionary politics of the sort that gets him invited on to The Johnathan Ross Show and ultimately to sell his books to film makers who want to make a profit.

Class War Anarchism sells and helps youths to work off excess energies. whilst deluding both City financiers and radical activists that there is something more exciting and interesting in their lives than banal consumerism.

The Whitechapel Anarchist media and computer blogs show a devotion to virtual anarchism in which an organised club form anarchy becomes a kind of day trip out in the City. An account of the WAG's day out to the Climate Camp 'Peasant's Revolt' starts off like this,
The day started off with us trudging down to our old haunt Bank for 12 Noon prompt, despite the usual stereotypes of Anarchist time keeping we were there bang on time, but then the waiting began. Two hours in total. The Police presence was tiny, though they did enjoy ducking behind pillars and spying on us when we met up with some more famous anarchists, though being a WAG means the police are always interested in your activities anyway. We spotted the FIT Copper from television programme Bargain Hunt who took the wisecracks on the chin to be fair. He never should have bought those stones though!

The aim was to bait the police into acting or to cause a nuisance so that the police would react and show how the police were functionaries of the system etc . Unfortunately nothing happened because in reality without the police the WAG would have no purpose. And it was a lame attempt anyway. Lifestyle anarchism.

This is a complete contrast from the anarchism of the late nineteenth century in which violent anarchists would have no hesitation in trying to find a violent strategy that was not out in the open and which caused damage to property and would kill members of the Ruling Class.

To do that though would presumably mean going to prison and an end to the fun. The real aim of WAG is a game with the police since the police have become increasingly community orientated and even join in the Notting Hill Carnival.

Rather like battle re-enactment societies the WAG tends to like hoisting banners, frequenting ale houses and staging events like Spitalfields Fair According to their 'favourite' anarchist magazine Freedom, it had 'tug of war, five a side football, and a 'plethora of stalls and entertainments'.
'Most popular though was ye old stocks, wherein many malefactors and ill doers were righteously bombarded with wet sponges'.( My italics )
Without any sense of irony, the report boasted, 'the fair drew several hundred people and to the merriment of all, no cops'.

For all the posturing about the cops and the Ruling elite, such activity is merely plebeian affectation for the pre-consumerist age on a 'Merrie England' theme. There is never any real criticism of consumerism because WAG is about self-presentation and brand differentiation.

Hence little criticism or bile has ever been directed against one of the main patrons of G 2o Alternative Summit Ken Livingstone ex-Mayor of London who, unlike the monarchy, had more than merely symbolic power.

Livingstone did ( and still does ), after all, espouse a 'signature radicalism' in supporting Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, various Islamist movements against Israel, Irish Republicanism and in general the antinomian radicalism of what he referred to as 'wicked old London'.

Yet this is the politician who supports doing more business with Communist China no less than Rupert Murdoch or Edward Heath and only lauds the attack on Western institutions; something that is not allowed in China by 'anarchist' elements.

That was quite clear when a craven Livingstone opined in response to criticism of China's human rights record in 2006 that there was a comparison between the Tianiamen Square Massacre of 1989 and the Poll Tax Riots of 1990.
"In the same way that Trafalgar Square has had an interesting history, not always a peaceful one, there's a very clear parallel. We've had some interesting riots in Trafalgar Square - I mean, only 20 years ago, the poll tax riots, and flames licking up.

If you go back to some of the early instances you will find many cases where innocent protesters were hacked to pieces with sabres - the Peterloo Massacre, for example. There is no such thing as one country with a perfect record."
No radical at the G20 Alternative has ever criticised Livingstone for that nor told him he's a fraud and that he ought to 'fuck off'. Because like Livingstone some of them espouse radical ideas whilst benefiting from London's role in servicing the Chinese super economy.

Both anarchists and Climate Camp activists have no real way of dealing with global industrialisation, China's power and huge contribution to pollution nor the Great Game for control over the resources of the Middle East and Asia.

To think otherwise is to pretend that the West matters when in fact most anarchists over exaggerate its power and ability to control global oil supplies. Control over which allows 'the system' to mollify the masses and that nothing they can do will stop that.

Anarchists of the Class War sort are in any case eclipsed and outdone by the rise of the Islamist terror fanatics who are actually insane enough to want to detonate both buildings and themselves which is the one sure way of being able to get at the target.

It is impossible for Class War to keep up with Islamist doctors who loathe the West so much that they are prepared to drive an SUV into Glasgow Airport Terminal packed with explosives. By comparison Class War anarchism looks lame.

For Class War depends on street theatre beloved by art school students of the sort that can become a banal self celebratory pageant of radical chic kitsch easily co-opted to serve the system. Nothing can co-opt the kind of terrorism that really craves the entire destruction of oneself and the world order.

Class War anarchism and that of Green radicals trying to devise harmonious modes of living free from the pressures of work and conformity are just reverting to the age-old tradition of inversion, that of the carnival that turns things upside down for a short time.

So only Islamist terrorism can really wreak the spectre of havoc and anarchy. The only real chance of destroying consumerism would be a really devastating terrorist attack undermining the system by attacking a target that was ostensibly anti-system.

For example nothing would destroy smug Middle Class assumptions more than attack that would take out a whole section of children waving Make Tea not War placards through a massive suicide bomb or controlled car bomb explosion.

An attack on an anti-war demonstration full of anarchists and leftists would also crush the idea that the Working Class can ally itself at the level of solidarity and mere sympathy with those being blown up and killed as the result of the invasion of Iraq.

Such anti-war activities are based on 'displacement therapy', the idea that a citizen living in Britain can register a protest and that this could mean something when obviously it acts as a stress release mechanism and nothing more.

The function of blowing up anti-war marchers would be show that absolutely nobody is safe from being killed no matter how hard they protest and so crush any possibility of love, peace or understanding. It would show that no matter how innocent, Westerners get killed too.

Hence the idea of love and fellow feeling to save people abroad that can easily mutate into a sentimental call for protest, instead of violent action to challenge the state, and even liberal interventionism in the long run, is one that is more dangerous to the project of 'real revolutionary change'.

Just as it has been with the 1968 revolutionaries like Daniel Cohn Bendit who supported the NATO bombings of Serbia in 1999 and who wants to see the expansion of the EU and NATO into the Near East so 'we' can have access to their oil and gas.

Let it not be said such terror would ever be justified morally. It could not any more than the bombing of innocent people from a distance carried out by Britain and America. It is merely a necessary action to ratchet up the arithmetic of death

That would be useful because it would prevent Middle Class kids believing that terror could be stopped only by tinkering with the system as they get older. Only total acceptance or rejection of the system through violence becomes possible.

For the reason that everybody who is a consumer is a part of the system that necessitates the 'war on terror' to be fought and for Britain to invade Iraq and meddle in Central Asia. Just because a person says he is against Iraq does not mean victory is not in his interests as a consumer.

Anybody who drives a car or believes they have a right to fly EasyJet is part of the problem and not of the solution. Anarchists who believe in living in the here and now free from the car divert attention from the necessity of destroying the entire system before it destroys everything anyway.

For mass consumerism also leads the masses to remain largely untroubled by the terror inflicted on other nations in their name and ultimately in their interests and for their material comfort. Most do not live in London and have become used to surveillance at airports.

Real anarchists would ally to some extent with Islamists in choosing precisely the most unexpected targets because only nonsensical and absurd terror would forces the consumerist masses to fundamentally reconsider their devotion to the world of sterile illusions.

The targets would not include the Ruling Elite nor even a tube train full of commuters who could possibly see and be seen to have what's coming to them, as when Galloway suggested that an assassination of PM Tony Blair would be 'morally justified'
I am not calling for it, but if it happened I believe it would be of a wholly different moral order to the events of 7/7. It would be entirely logical and explicable. And morally equivalent to ordering the deaths of thousands of innocent people in Iraq as Blair did.
Actions that would really undermine the system would be blowing up the Big Brother TV house live on air, machine gunning down swathes of would be X Factor Talent show contestants as they await their auditions or killing Galloway for not drawing the logical conclusions.

It would also polarise society and force radical chic consumers into real radicalism. If those who espouse left wing ant-imperialist views and who have turned into media personalities were targeted too then the real impulse to do something to stop imperialism would be more authentic.

That would entail taking out George Galloway with a sniper shot to the head on an anti-war demo, sticking a bomb underneath Billy Bragg's car or walking up to John Pilger's door and machine gunning him into his hallway.

To only ridicule and mock those espouse counterculture to sell products which reinforce the system far more than the monarchy is futile.Those who profit from being angry about the Iraq War without having real tactics to overthrow the system must be eliminated.

Galloway's assassination would be a major blow to those who think that killing Blair for ordering the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people in Iraq would be morally justified whilst claiming 'I would not support anyone seeking to assassinate the prime minister'.

Galloway's position also prevents the necessary radicalisation of his idea that it can be morally justified to kill some people to its logical conclusion and thus most importantly to act upon it. It is no good philosophising or 'explaining' the world. The point is to change it.
Such an operation would be counter-productive because it would just generate a new wave of anti-Arab sentiment whipped up by the press.
That would be one benefit of assassinating Tony Blair or any functionary who occupies a position in the military-corporate complex that runs Britain. It would force the police to come down hard on Muslims, as Galloway thinks they are already doing anyway and stimulate resistance.
It would lead to new draconian anti-terror laws, and would probably strengthen the resolve of the British and American services in Iraq rather than weaken it.
It would strengthen their resolve but luckily the much lauded Iraqi Resistance that Galloway supports at least theoretically is there to prevent that. Total solidarity with these heroes of psychopathic destruction and murder must be reflected in certain similar tactics here in Britain.

For such people as Galloway and Pilger are 'useful idiots' not to the Islamists but to the system. For they get people angry to no effect and provide them with the illusion that their hatred of the USA, when reading Pilger's New Statesman columns and protesting, will make a difference.

Only the spectre of massive violence stalking people who otherwise might think they will be immune,if they get the government to stop invading Muslim nations to control their oil, can bring about the absolute terror and panic necessary for a real demand for change.

If the imperialist state is so intent on underpinning the legitimacy of the system by controlling oil and keeping the lifeblood of consumerism going then only the greater threat to its power at home through those willing to risk arrest, injury and even death in challenging the state will work.

To do that it is necessary to encourage enough people that they have nothing to lose but their lives in not challenging the system by terrorists equipped with ever more lethal weapons and tactics more than they do in overthrowing the state by mass revolution and violence .

In any case the future of Class War depends on the have-nots taking direct action against the haves and all those who live in the West and consume are haves whose comfort depends on the immiseration of people in Africa and Asia.

But such terror direct against consumers and fake anti-system free radicals will also if successfully carried out lead to the belief in a conspiracy by the government to kill leading oppositionists. Few would believe that an Islamist or an anarchist would actually kill George Galloway.

Hence assassinating Galloway or blowing to pieces a group of anti-war marchers sporting 'We are all Hezbollah' now placards would help ramp up street attacks, riots and demonstrations that would necessitate the police to overreact and clamp down on the anarchy.

Carefully selected propagandists would spread rumours that the state had had them killed and that anyone who opposes the state is in danger of being killed. Which is why murdering somebody like David Tomlinson and claiming a plain clothes officer did it would be most useful.

It is not good enough to have self publicising journalists like Pilger call 7/7 Blair's bombs and for the anti-imperialist left to rationalise terrorism in a way that will make sense of it only to get people on marches. There must be a closer link between secular anarchists and Islamists.

Not at the level of ideology. It must be one of tactics and pure expediency in which all talk of morality is effectively made redundant and reduced to one question: the power to blow apart through acts of ultimate madness the contentment and ease of the masses under consumerism.

For example it might be necessary to brainwash a few Muslim youths to act as suicide bombers against targets selected by anarchists who see the mutually beneficial role it could play in Al Qaida propaganda as well whilst serving the agenda of destroying consumerism.

From a real British anarchist's point of view, at least those who understand what Nechaev called the 'science of destruction', the targets selected according to Al Qaida franchised operations act only to buttress propaganda justifying the invasions of Afghanistan or Iraq.

As well as the propaganda of morons like Seumas Milne that that the terrorism is caused only by Western foreign policy making elites and that mere protest instead of full hardcore terrorism against consumers is not the logical consequence of his views.

Only by selecting targets that sweep away the barriers to the possibility of a full scale domestic campaign of murder, arson, incendiary acts of provocation, and terror against consumers will enough people made insane by the system come to see the emancipatory possibilities.

If the system is not crippled from within and large numbers of deaths on entirely "innocent" consumerbots visited upon them now, then more people will die in the long run from resource wars, environmental destruction.

In alliance with Islamist comrades of convenience in Muslim lands a rapid pull out of troops from all lands in Afghanistan and Central Asia, collapsing states across the Middle East, a massive oil price shock and the destruction of the world economy will shake the earth to its foundations.

Out of this catastrophe will come a new world in which change is even remotely possible along the lines conceived of by parochial minded dolts like Ian Bonehead and Martin Wright and other feeble minded pseudo-apostles of destruction who think pranks with the police mean anything.

J G Ballard and Millennium People

Protests in London come and go as designer fashion shows these days.

Last year some of the G20 protesters in 2009 were very silly but some are more akin to the bored characters in JG Ballard's recent novels e.g Millennium People who want to trash and subvert the over-mediated consumer landscape and find meaning in a meaningless word.

The decline of the left, socialism, conservatism and, increasingly, of political liberalism means that we have left as an ideology is consumerism. History has reached a dead end of banality and narcissistic consumption where values are redundant.

As Ballard writes,
"People resent the fact that the most moral decision in their lives is choosing what colour the next car will be," he says witheringly. "All we've got left is our own psychopathology. It's the only freedom we have – that's a dangerous state of affairs.
"
The sheer meaninglessness of a society based on the hallucinatory substitute for reality that the vast masses of consumers have bought into has defined the New Labour period.

Now that the illusions have crashed with the finance system, the result is going to be a rejection of the boredom and conformity that comes from reducing nearly every aspect of everyday life to nothing more than a series of money transactions.

Ballard believes that this can 'only be relieved by some sort of violent act; by taking your mail-order Kalashnikov into the nearest supermarket and letting rip.".

Just as the Vietnam War was to the 1968 media conscious rebels, so too the Iraq War and the frustration that the cloistered 'Metropolitan elites', all on first name terms and who play at politics to give the illusion of brand distinction, is going to mobilise people to reject the system.

Unfortunately, it will not be peaceful: there is the potential for massive and gratuitous acts of psychopathological violence, just anything that will force the masses to question the 'inauthentic' nature of their existence.

'Consumers Suck' read some of the banners: if they fail to respond, it is quite possible that extreme radicals might take to selecting less obviously 'political' targets such as shopping malls, multiplex cinemas, airports and theme parks.

The victims of terror were aiding global capitalism by consuming: their deaths will be a small price to pay if it helps to destroy the fake consumer confidence that keeps the system going and directly causes Third World immiseration and global warming.

The novel starts off with a bomb explosion at Heathrow that turns out to be the work of a demented paediatrician, Dr Richard Gould who later tell the main character David Markham that the sheer meaninglessness of such an outrage forced people to ask 'why'.

Ballard's Millennium People tended to just laugh at the middle class protesters 'the Kropotkins with Pink Gin' and that the "the middle-classes are the new proletariat", and that's the main weakness of the book. Ballard does not know the radicals: just the Guardian reading middle classes.

For Millennium People could have included the deracinated Islamists and Class War nihilists, as well as the anti-road protesters and the increasingly psychopathological journalist hacks who rationalise in metaphysical terms every terror threat or terrorist action to push a revolutionary agenda.

A lot of the street carnival protesters at G 20 were like those, as in Ballard's Chelsea Marina who desire to escape the "self-imposed burdens" of civic responsibility and consumer culture.

By only focusing on the trashing of the RSB, people are missing the point about much of the 'global justice movement'.

It is not merely the 'Good' anger of wanting to right wrongs and injustice: a look at the G20 Meltdown groups shows the usual 'hard left' sects whose leaders are motivated by 'Bad' anger, a craving for destruction more than any real policy of a constructive alternative.

Just as the 1968 insurrections fomented a climate of opinion in which the Angry Brigades and the Baader Meinhof were created, so too will 2009 lead to radical psychopathological terror groups.

In 2009 , however,there are the added ethnic and sectarian tensions bred by wars in 'the Muslim World' and the growth of Islamism and religious faith based apocalyptic politics.

As Ballard writes,
"There are shifts in the unseen tectonic plates that make up our national consciousness. I've tried to nail down a certain kind of nihilism that people may embrace, and which politicians may embrace, which is much more terrifying; all tapping into this vast, untouched resource as big as the Arabian oilfields called psychopathology."
That hunger for apocalyptic violence is innate in human beings and the more people's lives are confined to a mind numbing routine of frenetic work and regulated consumer fun, the more people will turn to violence and nastiness

Not least when the cosmetic 'niceness' of the system conceals iniquities and inequalities that are screened from perception by the mainstream media and by happening in poorer countries.
The result could be something like the Baader-Meinhof-in Islamism that already evident.

Christopher Hitchens is Not Great. Nor is George Galloway.

Christopher Hitchens seems to be one of the most loathed figures on the left for his support for the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 and for the 'war on terror' .

Yet like most radical journalists with a desire to develop a reputation for themselves as fearless tribunes of freedom and justice he projected his own ideological fantasies on to the 'liberation' of Iraq in 2003.

This seems to be a mental vice amongst many who want to overcome their sense of impotence and lack of control over world events, whether it is Hitchens or Tariq Ali and John Pilger extolling some mythical 'the Iraqi resistance'. Hitchens writes in his latest column for The New York Times,
"If we had left Iraq according to the timetable of the anti-war movement the Iraqi people would now be tyrannised by the gloating sadists of Al Qaeda".
Well, that's impossible to verify as a second conditional sentence because the anti-war movement has no 'timetable' apart from 'troops out' or to try and ratchet up the threat of terror within Britain if this is not done.

But in any case without the invasion there would have been no Hobbesian style chaos and anarchy from which insurgent militias could have developed.

It's unfortunate that the anti-war movement is dominated by the remnants of the hard left such as Andrew Murray of the British Communist Party and Lindsey German of the SWP, those who see Iraq and the war in Leninist terms as a historical inevitability

It was actually rather than just a bungled attempt to gain energy security whilst introducing a secular market state democracy and somehow expecting that this would be simple should there be the will to do it.

Anyway, the idiocy and fanaticism of the StWC and RESPECT does not mean that the neocons and fellow travellers of a radical US Imperialism should be let off the hook. Hitchens saw the war as a way of discrediting polemical enemies. Rather than looking at hard empirical facts.

Those like Hitchens tend to see everything as a polemical battle where reality and the facts are bent to justify conclusions they have already arrived at, in particular how fundamentally evil the opposition to one's own politics is.

Yet even if the anti-war movement was dominated in Britain by those like Galloway who fawned on the notion of Arab nationalist dictatorships, that was hardly a reason in itself to see the 'liberation' of Iraq as a defeat for the global threat of neo-totalitarianism everywhere.

Hitchens tends to think of himself romantically in the tradition of Orwell who saw the similarities between the power worship amongst those on the left who supported Stalin's dictatorship and Fascists.

Whilst that might help explain the politics of a crude dolt such as George Galloway ( yet another self promoting media whore who works for Iranian funded Press TV ), it hardly had much relevance to the politics concerning Iraq at the time of the invasion in 2003.

Hitchens just rolled together the Baathist regime in Baghdad with 'Islamofascists' because he sees them all in a manichaean fashion as part of a seamless web of evil. Just as others in the Henry Jackson Society did like Micheal Gove or Denis MacShane.

That conflation explains why Hitchens sees all those fighting the US in Iraq as just essentially evil 'jihadists' and why in his God is Not Great he has to assert that 'religion poisons everything' and religion is germane to totalitarian thinking.

By 2005, however, it became clear that Sunni militias themselves were attacking Al Qaida. Hitchens himself wrote about that in a Slate article ( January 16 ,2005 ) but denied they were insurgents because he does not like the idea they might be revolutionaries or rebelling against the liberating force.

So , obviously, trying to append the term 'jihadist' or 'Bin Ladenis't, as Hitchens has consistently done, to all those opposed to the US occupation is just an attempt eradicate this important distinction between Al Qaida and groups like the 1920 Revolutionary Brigades and other Sunni militia groups.

The conflations allow Hitchens to see the Iraq war as part of some crusade for enlightenment against the dark forces of evil and to portray Saddam as a metaphysical evil. Yet Saddam was just brutal, banal and evil.

Even if he did not possess WMD he can be mentioned 'in the same breath' because he had a latent intent to acquire them, had used them in the past and would use them again. That's one of the the lame ex post facto rationalisations anyway. Hichens opines,
"Most people appear now to believe that it is quite wrong to mention Saddam Hussein even in the same breath as (a)WMD, or (b) state-sponsored terrorism. I happen to disagree".
If there is not one exact reason why it was absolutely necessary to invade Iraq, then it is easy to shift the justification from one to another such as 'state sponsored terrorism'. The Baathist regime was a brutal Stalinist police state and a terror state.

Yet it's connection with terrorist groups was no greater than Iran' or Syria's nor is it anywhere been as near as important in having fostered terrorism as Saudi Arabia. The regional terrorism of the groups Saddam did support were not a threat to the security of the USA or Britain.

Yet it is important to remember that Saddam did not sponsor 'jihadists' apart from paying some suicide bombers in Hamas who would do what they would do anyway without Saddam's rewards. That was just for domestic consumption to please Islamists.

Bin Laden actually hated Saddam. One of the reasons Bin Laden turned his fury against the USA in 1991 was that the House of Saud allowed US troops into the Holy Land of Islam without allowing him to join the fight to push Iraq out of Kuwait.

Hitchens can't accept such facts because they don't fit in with his creed. In God is Not Great he even denies that Saddam's regime was a secular one just because he made demagogic statements including Allah and Islamist tropes.

That made Saddam a demagogue not a fully fledged Islamist. That is a very simple point. But he does what his supposed hero George Orwell never did: fit the facts to suit the prescriptions of va propaganda creed.

As John Gray has rightly insisted in a review of God Is Not Great,
'Writing of the Trotskyite-Luxemburgist sect to which he once belonged, Hitchens confesses sadly: "There are days when I miss my old convictions as if they were an amputated limb." He need not worry. His record on Iraq shows he has not lost the will to believe.

The effect of the American-led invasion has been to deliver most of the country outside the Kurdish zone into the hands of an Islamist elective theocracy, in which women, gays and religious minorities are more oppressed than at any time in Iraq's history.
The idea that Iraq could become a secular democracy - which Hitchens ardently promoted - was possible only as an act of faith.'
Hitchens is a busted flush and his inability to admit he got it wrong, as Michael Ignatieff and Johann Hari have done is becoming ever more embarrassing. It seems certain atheists really are as dogmatic and faith based as fundamentalists.

This has not stopped shrill and preachy atheists such as A.C Grayling whiffling on in the Guardian like some pernickety old maid about General Dennett's public proclaimation of his religious faith whilst serving in Iraq whilst praising Hitchen' s worldview in God Is Not Great and ignoring the scale of the destruction and bloodshed in Iraq.

It seems there is one standard for the religious when they propagandise for faith based politics but not for atheists when they do the same.

Yet the history of twentieth century ideological mass murder and terror in the cause of secular goals shows that the idea that 'religion poisons everything' is a myth.

It is just a convenient way of rationalising the failure of such politics in the lands of Islam and the rise of Islamism which is, it should be remembered, a creed with its origins in politics and bolstered by an apocalyptic mythology hardly absent from creeds such as global Communism.

It is also interesting that Hitchens wrote back in 1976,
"The Baghdad regime is the first oil-producing government to opt for 100-per-cent nationalisation, a process completed with the acquisition of foreign assets in Basrah last December. It was the first to call for the use of oil as a political weapon against Israel and her backers.

It gives strong economic and political support to the ‘Rejection Front’ Palestinians who oppose Arafat’s conciliation and are currently trying to outface the Syrians in Beirut. And it has a leader — Saddam Hussain — who has sprung from being an underground revolutionary gunman to perhaps the first visionary Arab statesman since Nasser'.
The irony here is that is precisely what the 1920 Revolutionary Brigades lauded by Seumas Milne as the nucleus of some united 'the Iraqi resistance' movement are aiming for.

With most tedious polemicists who want to believe they are riding the wave of the future, politics is a substitute form of religion and this appiles not only to Hitchens and the pro-war liberal interventionists but as much to those who want to hitch their otherwise redundant secular atheist leftist politics to radical and revolutionary Islamism in order to get a new lease of life.

Nothing could be more comic and pathetic than Hitchens< style="font-style: italic;">Inside the Whale ( 1940 )-to believe one can ride the wave of Progress or be on the Right Side of History for purely egotistic purposes

New Atheist Funk in the UK.

New Atheism' as expounded by Richard Dawkins et al is a belief that if people dropped God their lives would be filled with more potential to live life to the full before death extinguishes them for ever.

This fantastical creed has no evidence to back it up: it is a faith position that has many different consequences. For Christopher Hitchens and Nick Cohen it is the necessity of using military force to destroy 'Islamofascism'.

For Dawkins it is is a call to try and remove the influence of organised religion from interfering in politics in a way that is mean minded and nasty or protecting its privileges. But he really does want to deconvert the world.

Now the disestablishment of the Church of England is also worked for by Tony Benn with whom Dawkins sat on Breakfast with David Frost show recently when he admitted cheerfully to being a 'cultural Christian'.

The intricacies of theology and the role of science in explaining the creation and evolution of the world are less important that the progressive myths that underpin Dawkin's creed. As John Gray points out Dawkind claims only humans can defy the imperatives of their own genes.

Gray asks pertinently, that if this is so, then where could that freedom of the will come from ? Answer, it derives from Christianity and is not found in Atheist religions of the Orient like Taoism.

If religion poisons everything as Hitchens claims it does, Gray poses the devastating but simple counter argument that where could this poison come from? The Devil ? The simple fact is that religion is an enduring human need for a frail and often insecure species of animal.

John Gray is right to state that these are myths that the New Atheists never interrogate because their militant faith is based on a Protestant culture of Christianity minus God. It gets rid of God but retains the "thought patterns" of Christianity.

Nothing could be more in the proselytising tradition of Protestant Christianity than holding that deconvertion will cause one to cast off the 'mind forg'd manacles' of religion and make themselves more loving, more sane and more reasonable.

Dawkins emphasis upon 'consciousness raising' is what Protestants have emphasised throughout history-it's a low key form of the direct encounter between Man and God for the soul.

Dawkins line is similar to that of Bertrand Russell: the scientific evidence down here on earth is conclusive enough not to believe in God and if 'He' asked 'Why ?' it would be on that basis. "Not enough evidence, God"

That has little to do though with the idea that by getting rid of 'Him' that the world would necessarily be made a nicer place. The theology of protest is still there only without God who does not matter anyway.

If so, there is no need to bang on about it. Most people hold some kind of belief that is irrational; that if they meet the right person they will be happy for ever or that one day all diseases will be cured or they will be remembered.

Much of the passivity of Britain in the post-war epoch was due to the rise of consumerism, TV and pop music, as well as football. When this prosperity and complacency collapses people look for rationalisations for a more stressful existence.

And the woolly old Church of England is better for people to join than people adopting US style fundamentalism, so that Dawkins ought to distinguish between harmful religion and harmless creeds that really do not do that much damage

At least far less than messianic tub thumpering Protestant Atheists like Hitchens ( yes, he terms himself that ) did in supporting the Iraq War and strongly insinuating "extraordinary interrogation " methods were one way of getting barbarian Islamofascists to confess to secrets.

Now proving the non-existence of God or the absurdity of believing in God as a set of logical propositions is very different from making vast assumptions about how his accepted non-existence would affect life on earth.

People have an innate drive to believe in something beyond death to make sense of life: with the progressive myth of Dawkins, Grayling etc something akin to heaven is something we can more readily create on earth through material abundance and living like Men as Gods.

After all, for people living in seventeenth century England, the twenty first century would be some kind of heaven compared to the suffering and poverty and early death people lived with on an everyday basis.

Yet then as now the myth is that the truth is considered something that can set people free forever once accepted by all thinking people. There is a continuity deep within English protestant culture here.

For Protestant Christianity has the idea that doing things, striving to change the world and by going direct to the people free from the sterile worship in ornate Churches and discussion about dogmas.

That's why Joyce Cary once wrote in the 1950's 'The less the British go to Church, the more preoccupied they become they become with religious problems and moral conflicts'. Think of CND, Bruce Kent or the Quakers ( what harm do they really do ! )

The decline of Church worship is a logical consequence of the belief in England that right belief leads to righteous actions and not merely sitting about saying things and not doing anything. That's progressive activism.

Protestantism has been watered down to a vague religiosity that life just must have a purpose and that the main thing about being a Christian is behaving decently to others.Now that just means the bland but decent desire to be "nice". Like a certain Mr Tony Blair seemed.

This is little different from what the boring and monomaniacal AC Grayling puts forward; though an atheist, his general outlook is pure Church of England minus God who is to be rejected for being too mean and nasty to people.

Yet it has nothing to offer those who see the world being pushed towards destruction by global heating, nuclear proliferation, and so on with its smug little milk and water humanist certainties.

Grayling and Dawkins get squeamish about religious inspired wars without seeing that the invasion of Iraq was a resource war for the oil that underpins the consumer comfort of Western nations like Britain.

The only criticism Grayling made of the Iraq War was that Britain's General Dennett proclaimed himself a Christian soldier: that and not 1 million dead Iraqis got this sententious waffling man into a strident polemical mood.

When most people are satiated materially they need not think too hard about religious problems and moral conflicts. Yet the decline of organised religion has not got rid of the 'need to believe'.

That can be seen with the shallow cult of progress, the career of Blair, the projection of messianic fantasies on to Iraq as a war of liberation, New Atheism, Islamist political theology and other consequences of evading facts and agonistic choices that present themselves.

That is outside the privileged ivory tower that Dawkins and Grayling inhabit: if Dawkins was against the Iraq War because Bush was a Christian fundamentalists, he might have at least looked at the resource war angle.

Religious struggles have always been motivated by political manipulation, greed for resources and "up the ante" as Malise Ruthven puts it in his A Fury for God, a highly sophisticated analysis of Islamism as a political phenemenon.

Noam Chomsky offers No Alternative to Global Capitalism.

As the feeble rationalisations for going back to the future with the USSR, or posing a Bolshevik style revolution as showing the possibility of 'Another World' or 'Systemic Alternative' are still being touted by some as a way out of the global economic crisis of since 2008, there are also those who think Noam Chomsky is a guru who can offer salvation.

Chomsky is popular in the UK as much as the USA for having never have been tarred with the same brush as the Communists.

For Chomsky lauds the libertarian myth of the Russian Revolution as a workers revolution betrayed by commissars like Lenin and Trotsky who use myths of a perfect future and of global harmony and Utopia to rationalise repression and privation in the present until the ultimate goal had been reached

Perhaps those who think so could look at the history of the Russian Revolution and of the actual global communist movement as it really was instead of projecting ideological fantasies on to it and making excuses for its failure. In the conditions of the chaos caused, power was bound to fill the power vacuum.

The libertarian left myth of revolution is certainly a better one and at least accepts that Lenin and Trotsky were not interested in spontaneous freedom but in 'totalitarianism'. That's then taken to mean that the USA is no better in this regard and also based on spreading universal hegemony as the barrel of the gun.

What Chomsky and Pilger share with Leninists is the idea is that a catastrophic crisis can bring 'freedom'. Just not if it allows ideological cliques to seize power in the name of the people and to accelerate progress through apocalyptic change and telescoping social and economic development into a short period.

That was the Bolshevik plan in 1917. It has little relevance to the global crisis today. For a start it was environmentally ruinous and depended on a dogmatic idea similar to that of neoliberal capitalism: that Man can Dominate Nature and make it his exclusive servant. Yet Chomsky shares this Enlightenment myth. Overpopulation never figures in his writing.

Much of what is wrong with radical left anti-capitalism of the kind advocated by Chomsky is that it shares many of the myths of progress that have been taken from liberal democracy and capitalism. That there can be a humanistic world of superabundance and the problem is that capitalism cannot share it equitably.

Most notably there is a distinct problem with the idea that 'we' can remake the world and its only 'false consciousness' and the illusions of the media and money power of 'the system' that decide otherwise. Since the civil rights movement and anti-Vietnam protests of the 60s when Chomsky came to prominence, 'the system' has absorbed counter-culture successfully.

The only line left of Noam Chomsky, who still makes some brilliant points about US double standards in foreign policy is the ideal of anarcho-syndicalism that depend on the myth of revolution and of 'revolution betrayed' and 'deferred' by the increased sophistication of US corporate capitalism, admass society and the media machine.

New thinking about the world is necessary but real benefits can come only by ridding ourselves of illusory and burdensome hopes of a world that would be perfect if it were not for the dominance of one global system of capitalism-in Chomsky's view of the US's Imperial Elite having far more domination and control than it does.

In reality that does not exist: Chomsky like all Radical Enlightenment figures is Eurocentric and parochial in thinking that US Imperialism is the root cause of most of the globe's problems from inequality, to profligate consumerism, the arms race, racism and poverty. It depends upon three myths,

1) That the USA is and will continue to be dominant for the foreseeable future and that successful resistance against Empire will necessarily lead to freedom.

2) The reassuring thought that because the USA is an Empire and a formal democracy, global change could come from change within the USA.

3) Third World revolutionary movements , even of the Islamist type, offer the prospect of liberation for the poor and oppressed of the Middle East.

Chomsky is just another Cold War fossil who hasn't had much more of great interest to say since the Vietnam War, though his analysis of the role of a supposedly 'free media' in a liberal democratic capitalist state is still a necessary corrective to the idea that propaganda and media manipulation only occur under totalitarian regimes.

-AC Grayling and Islamism.


AC Grayling wrote in the Guardian over a year ago that,

Facts speak for themselves. Omid Reza Mir Sayafi, 29, a journalist and blogger,has taken his own life in Evin prison in Iran, where he was serving a two-year sentence for "insulting Ayatollahs Khomeini and Khamenei", and awaiting further trial for "insulting sacred values", which would have meant more years in prison.

He was a sensitive man, who blogged mainly about music and the arts, and imprisonment was a hellish experience for him; he was reported to be profoundly depressed and anxious.

Safayi is yet another victim of religion.


Safayi's fate was atrocious and all humane people should deplore it.

Yet Grayling's view of 'religion' killing Safayi comes from the same propaganda mould deployed by Nick Cohen and other missionary atheists who belive that there is some monolithic 'Islamic fundamentalist' threat to 'the West' and the spread of its supposedly always superior values across the globe.

Not least with regards its universalist ideas of freedom of expression and speech, human rights and tolerance of ethnic minorities and that this sinister global Islamofascist threat is co-ordinated by a rogue regimes, terror cells, and radical Imams and 'appeased' by spineless woolly minded thinkers

That is those who have forgotten a history of inquisitions and exterminations and so on.
No doubt the OIC is trying to push the 'defamation of religion' issue but there is hardly any real chance that this is going to lead to
'....a universal gag on free speech, blocking the right of anyone to criticise the too frequently negative effects of religion on individuals and society'
Grayling comes close to Cohen, who wrote during the furore over the Danish cartoon of Mohammad, that the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman was 'appeasing' Islamism when he commented that 'freedom of expression should be exercised responsibly and in a way that respects all religious beliefs'.

The UN Assembly has only moved towards formulating declarations respecting religious beliefs and then Grayling fulminating about the potential for a 'universal gag order' whilst Cohen uses somewhat hysterical phrases like 'universal blasphemy law' or even 'super-blasphemy law'.

Missionary atheists of this ilk thus reveal themselves as grotesque invertions of those who want to convert the world to one universal religion and with others subsumed within its framework of dominion. For there is for Grayling only 'the Enlightenment' on the one side and 'religion' on the other.

This belief system derives from very Protestant ideas of Progress and Providence which have over time become secularised in Britain and the USA but hold that the world will converge towards the destiny mapped out over the past 400 years by the Anglo-Saxon democracies. It's a pure Whig version of History.

Grayling opines,
The OIC has yet to appreciate that if it succeeds in its effort to protect Islam from legitimate challenges to its less attractive doctrines and practices – to say nothing of Islamism with its murderous extreme –the relentless antisemitism from its own side of the street will have to stop too.
Yet the OIC is not 'Islam'. Again Grayling writes as though Islam were as monolithic as one singular totalitarian creed with Islamism as merely the far extreme end of a spectrum of belief defined by some organised body of scholars or protectors who could just reign in the fanatics if they chose.

Islam does not act in a way where less attractiveand repugnant interpretations can not be condemned by any corporate body such as 'the Church'' ( which is not to say that prominent clerics should not condemn terror in the name of Islam ). There is no 'it' that can do so.

But Grayling shows he is incapable of distinguishing Islam from Islamism where it matters: Islamism is a politicised interpretation of certain parts of the Qu'ran adapted to modernistic Western revolutionary ideologies. Islamism is a product of the West and of increased contact with it.

Nothing the UN has done has appeased some barbaric global 'Islamist' threat. The position of the UN General Secretary and many of those attempting to frame its declarations on toleration is that 'freedom of expression should be exercised responsibly' and not that it 'must'. In short no law or gag order has been passed.

There is no sense in which a legitimate criticism of a a political interpretation of religion that is illiberal or tyrannical could not be made but merely that there should be no demonisation of people who hold different religious beliefs because the condition for toleration and co-existence would be destroyed if it were.

Sensible and sophisticated political philosophers in the Western liberal tradition such as Thomas Hobbes knew that when he wrote Leviathan in the seventeenth century, at a time when intractable political conflicts were exacerbated by religious fervour, the feelings of collective persecution and self righteousness.

That kind of mutual atavistic hatred we see today with Hamas and the Israeli Likud over the issue of Palestine.

That principle of universiality is presumably one that is meant to be at the heart of the UN's view of the world and defence of the notion that one should be free to have one's religious beliefs and not, as Cohen does, to conflate them with an enforced political affiliation or some brainwashing which clearly does not refer to all forms of religious belief.

Islam like all world religions is 'multi-vocal' and contain very many contrasting traditions and strands within them, no less than Christianity did in seventeenth century Britain when the modern idea of human rights and liberal democracy began to be developed in its nascent form from the Bible.

Different interpretations of religious scripture and authority can produce very different political doctrines and ideas about political order, the basis for sovereign power and legitimacy. Islam is no exception, though Grayling never bothers to look into it because the Progress of the West has made all religion a redundant relic of modern mankind's prehistory.

Grayling should stick to Logical Positivism and Wittgenstein because his grasp of political philosophy is weak and his view of religion a vulgarised one that can only see Muslims as benighted people capable of civilisation but as yet incapable of throwing off their mental shackles.

A Rejoinder to A C Grayling.

The public debate about the role of religion in British society has not been so heated for a long time. For some, such as the philosopher A C Grayling, the battle against primitive superstition is never won and the prominent space given to Islam in the media since the Salman Rushdie Affair of 1989 has re-ignited passions about religion.

One thing that secular atheists seem to hate more than anything else is the claim that their outlook is, actually, somewhat similar to a belief system, as opposed to a simple statement of rational facts against which those who disagree have had their minds perverted and shackled by religion.

The following exchange is typical of the tedious and somehow parochial nature of these spats by people who can't see clearly the connections between religion and politics or who conflate terms like 'atheist' and 'secular' to defend a particular worldview from having its underlying assumptions challenged.

For example in the Guardian, Andrew Brown wrote about,'

I was listening on Friday morning to a confused debate in the Conway Hall among atheists and secularists about what to do about Islam. Although it was billed as organised by the Council for Ex-Muslims, the crowd of about 300 was overwhelmingly white and middle-aged and looked to me more like long-standing members of the British Humanist Association'

Brown then went on sarcastically,

On the platform were a couple of Iranian refugees who really have been threatened by a fascist theocracy; there was a Dutch defender of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who thought she had done entirely the right thing in moving to an American rightwing thinktank; there was A C Grayling of this parish, who called her a friend but doubted her wisdom in going to America. From the sporadic clapping and counter-clapping, it was obvious that sentiment in the hall was deeply divided over whether home-grown fascism was a greater danger than religion.

Grayling retorted tartly like a C of E vicar with his knickers in a twist,,

What a travesty of a report, Andrew; perhaps meditating what tendentiousness you could muster in response to the extraordinary courage of some dozens of people there who had chosen to think for themselves and free themselves from the superstitions that oppress so many of their ex-coreligionists - and at considerable personal risk to themselves.

You are a perfect example of a person whose zeal to defend fairy stories makes you dishonest and mean-minded. Once upon a time your sort did to those who think for themselves what the mullahs would like to do to the brave men and women at that conference: confined now to snideries, your essential poverty of outlook is on magnificent display here.

The florid hyperbole of this is so wonderfully fruity and over the top that I had to respond, though I usually stay clear of atheism debates which are dominated by splenetic middle aged men how are still stuck in some mindset from the high point of secularism and liberal social democracy from the 1970s.

Rather like Francis Wheen they seem to think the world as they knew it somehow ended from around 1979-1980 and that reason has been on retreat, instead of on a steady advance, since the Thatcher and Reagan came to power and Islamic fundamentalism was kick started by the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the Islamic Revolution in Iran.

My response to this nonsense this morning was,

Secularism should not be conflated with atheism. Yet secularism itself is part of a Christian cultural inheritance and started off with the need to seperate political and religious authority that began in Britain in the seventeenth century.

The flaw in AC Grayling's thinking is turning secularism into some progressive crusade of militant Enlightenment that can become very puritanical, squeamish and intolerant.

The fact that Grayling takes secularism as the starting point with which atheism is must be the historical end point and that this must be accelerated at all costs is bound to create conflict because it conflicts with deeply held needs.

Religion is more than simply a set of superstitions but reflects the human need for myth and to make sense of human experience. No less than Grayling's faith in secular progress which acts in the same way to an extent.

Now it is absurd to push this too far and suggest Grayling is some secular equivalent of a religious fundamentalist because he does argue from the standpoint of reason and evidence.

That's why Brown's piece comes across as silly because, as Grayling points out correctly, people are being tortured and killed in the name of religion in places like Saudi Arabia and Iran.

However, the crusade for militant Enlightenment can also dovetail with a belief in liberating people from the tyranny of theocratic totalitarian regimes, where politics is religion, by invading nations such as Iraq.

Grayling will, no doubt groan at this and wave it aside as of marginal relevance when compared with the intentional and brutal killing that goes on in the name of religion.

Yet it cannot be because it was opposition to some seamless totalitarian religion that led Christopher Hitchens to support the invasion of Iraq and to believe that all conflicts in the Middle East are caused primarily by religion.

God is not Great How Religion Poisons Everything is a statement of such a belief that if the toxin of religion were cleansed away then somehow conflict stricken zones would be far less likely to exist.

Yet most conflicts are political in origin to which end fundamentalist strains of religion simply 'up the ante'. Sophisticated writers on politics and religion like Malise Ruthven in his A Fury for God can take that on board.

To suggest all religion is just inherently prone to corruption ignores the fact that humans themselves are inherently corrupt. Any belief system can be used to rationalise killing if taken too far.

Secular atheist progressivism is merely yet another example where those who are so barbaric and deny human rights are so demented that we need not stick exactly to the UN conventions on torture.

This is essentially the position of Christopher Hitchens whose book Grayling regards as the 'definitive' and most 'comprehensive' treatment of the 'anti-religion' case.

The inhumanity done in the name of religion by fundamentalists makes the case for the seperation of religious from political authority. That case needs to be pressed against Islamists and their 'political religion'

What it does not do is make the case for trying to cleanse public life of religion entirely and to do so on the false premise that this will remove conflict rather than inflame it further.

The Atheism Debate in Britain-The Bigger Picture.

There are so many misconceptions and conflations of different things whenever atheism and the role of religion in society or politics is discussed.

Atheism is not a religion but it is imprinted indelibly by the Christian monotheistic God that it denies. Pushed too far it can lead to atheism underpinning 'secular religions' like Communism.

The very notion of Progress is a view of history not as a cyclical process but of a linear ascendancy in which humanity will become more perfect and less degraded by primitive superstitions.

The current trend of secular fundamentalism is based firmly on such beliefs and have a religious aspect because the idea is that by getting rid of all religion people will become wiser and saner.

This is why secular fundamentalists from Grayling and Hitchens are always ready to deny the atheist credentials of Soviet Communism and to blame it only on traditions of Russian despotism.

It should be remembered that often the staunchest atheists in the past such as Thomas Hobbes, at a time when religion was all dominant, still understood the natural desire of man for religion as a rationalisation of human experience and a quest for order.

The religious impulse is dangerous but it is, in reality, ineradicable and to pretend otherwise is a Utopian illusion worthy of the most shallow considerations of religion harboured by fundamentalists.

This is why Dawkins and Grayling are useful when it comes to deflating the messianic nonsense of Christian fundamentalists, though they generally don't give that much time to the Islamic kind which is just another fanaticism.

However, the thing to bear in mind is not to see Islamic fundamentalism or Islamism just as a religious phenomenon but as a political one with complex causes.

The failure to deal with the political causes of Islamism, as well as the conditions of social atomisation and anomie that currently incubate it here in the West too, only intensify the perception that 'Islam' is being 'demonised'.

In turn, that simply confirms to those who see Western hypocrisy over Iraq and the propping up of dictatorships to procure the oil that underpins Western prosperity that secular atheism is part of that 'decadence'.

Religious impulses exist because people want to rationalise their experience of the chaos of life caused by the perennial problems of human greed, selfishness, hypocrisy, and meaninglesness.

One of the main reasons this urgency went away in post-war Britain was the consumer boom and the temporary success of liberal social democracy and secularism which reached its high point in the 1960s and 1970s.

With the return of economic crisis, scarcity, looming resource wars and global insecurity, the placid virtues of that period will soon yield to the threat of political religions as they did in the 1930s.

The secular atheist humanism offers no solution to these problems, no even the beginnings of a solution, simply because secularism and the decline in the belief in God was due to it becoming irrelevant where pleasure became the pursuit of humans.

This please and the divertions it has allowed through consumption have, however, placed severe limits on the environment and the belief of secular humanists, that just by getting rid of religion there could be less poverty and more security for all, runs up against the reality.

Not least, where Islamic fundamentalism is strong because since the post-war period Western nations have supported nasty regimes so as to get the cheap oil that has underpinned Western prosperity.

A C Grayling's Missionary Atheism.

A C Grayling has written yet another misconceived polemic about the necessity of regarding religious belief as some kind of disease of the mind that brave people are prepared to overcome by renouncing their Islamic religion despite the charge of apostasy and death threats.

I responded to his Guardian piece Free to Think for Themselves ( Guardian October 16 2008 ) with the following response.

Yet again Grayling is conflating the political and the religious in the same way as fundamentalists do because he regards Islam as essentially fundamentalist when the Qu'ran does not demand the death penalty for apostasy.

This does not mean that Grayling is wrong to speak out against this and he makes it clear that being against the 'crime' of apostasy is also part of a broader struggle against the death penalty.

What Grayling is terminally incapable of realising or recognising is that all the world's religions are multi-vocal and not one rigid monolithic force representing the continued existence of dark barbarism versus the sweetness of enlightenment and reason.

Indeed Grayling himself belongs firmly in the militant Christian and Enlightenment tradition of believing that 'the truth will set you free' no less than Dawkins who also shares this form of humanism.

The earnest proselytising tone when lauding the unshackling of Muslim minds from superstitions and the healing process, presided over by the tender and wise guardians is very characteristic of C19th missionary Christianity .

The problem with propaganda for the Council of ex-Muslims and the worthies of the National Secular Society and British Humanist Association is that it condemns Islam whilst remaining in ignorance of the political conditions that have been crucial in the rise of Islamism.

Within Britain there is a problem with the cultural pressure to remain within Islam and the law of the land must be enforced against those who issue death threats for apostasy.

Yet the contradiction is that liberal democracy, in Grayling's view, depends on the free choices of the autonomous individual. So for Grayling if Muslims choose to support 'Islamism' then it just can't be a 'real' choice but depends wholly on social conditioning.

The problem is that increasingly it is and this has nothing to do with the widespread hold of sinister clerics over the minds of the young but more to do with the 'information age' where the sight of Muslims being oppressed and killed in their own lands leads to a burning hatred of 'Western' hypocrisy.

The problem is primarily political with forms of politicised religion upping the stakes. Given that Grayling's brand of militant Enlightenment can be used as a justification for invading Muslim majority nations, to spread civilisation to the benighted natives, then missionary liberal beliefs are another example.

One need only look at the propaganda of a Christopher Hitchens for that. True, not 'every' missionary liberal agreed with Iraq but not 'every' Islamist believes in in the death penalty for apostasy, even though like Tariq Ramadan they are mealy mouthed and craven when trying to rationalise their creeds.

Denying that choosing to be an Islamist can ever be truly rational as Grayling does is bound to irk those for whom it is the apex of personal subjective committment to 'the cause' of liberating the Middle East from secular tyrannies that the West has backed in order to procure stability and cheap oil.

Many Islamists are militant progressives who want to get rid of false forms of statist Islam that uphold tyranny and injustice. Islamism is a political ideology that can incorporate many trends from within Islam and Western revolutionary ideology.

Progressive Islamists like Ramadan or Ghannoushi remain dismissive of atrocities committed in the name of Islam because they will just see it , rather like Marxists did with any 'really existing socialist regime', as not real Islam that is being propagated.

The reason is that actions chosen consciously and in full realisation of their significance, from wearing the hijab to joining militant political groups, is seen as a revolutionary action.

The personal is political and Western identity politics has been embraced by those who value the potential for global solidarity against the US power regarded for long as the Great Satan by very secular Westerners who saw is Enlightenment fundamentalism as a way of imposing Empire.

Grayling needs to think outside the parochial mindset of nineteenth British liberalism and not just rehash Bertrand Russell's arguments without the lucidity or even the humour. At least, Russell back in 1920 understood the connection between 'Mohammedanism' and Bolshevism.

Most of the problems looming ever more ominous in the relationship between 'the West' and the lands of Islam are geopolitical in origin and concern the struggle to appropriate resources like oil and gas which are essential to underpin consumerism, the great car economy and tourist travel.

For Muslims and non-Muslims alienated by the hypocrisy and greed of 'the West' the potential for them to embrace psychopathological ideologies is becoming greater and this is mirrored on the mssionary liberal left with Hitchens conflating all Islamists necessarily as 'Islamofascists' and Bin Ladenists.

The consequences could be truly tragic and catastrophic.

The Illusions of Evangelical and Militant Atheism

The words militant atheist refer to those who regard religion as some kind of toxin that poisons society by the very fact it can become a dominant part of somebody's psychological make up. That's quite clear from Hitchens' book God is Not Great.

Militant atheists are those who want to push society in one direction and destroy religion's power by destroying the religion meme by exposing people to the real truth where all become enlightened after having cast off their 'celestial comfort blankets'

This revelation of truth is fervently believed to be necessary to create a happier society. Many of these militant atheists are middle aged adolescents brought up on Monty Python and who still cherish the high point of secularism and liberal social democracy reached in the 1970s.

As such it is a legacy of the monotheistic Christianity that the atheists rail against with the smug certitude of evangelisers for the one true faith. Many pedestrian atheists simply parrot bits of the texts and scriptures they like, such as The God Delusion to 'prove' their point.

Naturally, Dawkins and Grayling are somewhat like C of E vicars, but certainly far more earnest about the importance of 'religion' which they generally take as being Christianity and God, with some occasional references to Islam and 'Islamofascism'.

If militant atheism made people better or cured them, it would then still be necessary to explain why Hitchens sees the conflict between secular civilisation and 'Islamofascist' barbarism in manichaean terms as a conflict between lightness and dark, between night and day.

Most informed people do not see the world's problems in this stark apocalyptic way. Religion does not cause wars and terrorism but certain interpretations of it 'up the ante' and exacerbate political conflicts over scarce resources such as oil and water.

Militant atheist believers take a moment in Western civilisation in the post war period and see it as the apex of progress and the approximation to an ideal society from which we are now retreating at our peril. Darker forces from the benighted past are dragging us back.

So there are those 68ers like Hitchens who believe exporting secular civilisation by force might be the solution. By defeating 'Islamofascism', the last kick of a dying Islam, the world can be driven towards a just order of rationality, sweetness and light.

Where people do not read to take succour from moth-eaten texts and absurd religions but from books written by intelligent and lucid people who enlighten and entertain.

Where quoting bits of knowledge and a 'leisurely walk across the library' will take its place as well as exchanging knowledge over the coffee and cheese and wine evenings that will replace all that religion, draughty churches, and compulsory RE lessons.

Now there are atheists, of course, who do not have a fetish for getting the sure frisson of pleasure out of telling people that their often harmless illusions are redundant or that death is final. They just know it.

Life is largely meaningless and painful and death a release e.g as in Schopenhauer who was an atheist but, as John Gray suggested, had no desire to deconvert the world

Yet the neurotic repetition of the same propaganda by atheists like Christopher Hitchens is a pose a bit like that of the Marquis de Sade. If a person knows death is final, then he must want a reason why everybody should accept that and not delude themselves.

In fact, for everyone to accept death as final so we can get on with life is meant to give some kind of cold comfort no less than the Spaghetti Monster that one can laugh at. Laughter brings us into the company of others who can 'get over themselves' and the supposed 'seriousness' about God.

Yet its no less a form of lying to yourself. Not only is death final nor does the ideal of the good society change anything or hold out the prospect of a better life for all. Not least for those who are not Dawkins, for example his fans, who will be forgotten when stone dead.

In Michel Houellebecq's Atomised, the scientist Walcott makes the following observation on the English which could serve at the epitaph to these delusions of importance and divertion through work and humour,

People often say that the English are very cold fish, very reserved-that they have a way of looking at things-even tragedy-with a sense of irony. There's some truth in it; it's pretty stupid, though.

Irony won't save you from anything: humour doesn't do anything. You can look at life ironically for years; there are some people who seem to go through most of their lives seeing the funny side, but in the end life always breaks your heart....

......That's when you stop laughing. After that, there's just the cold, the silence and the loneliness. You might say, after that, there's only death'

Paradoxically, the very mental vice of 'belief in belief' that militant atheists rail against is central to the progressive myth behind the creed of Dawkins, Grayling Hitchens et al. They need it it in order to furnish mental strength against all evidence to the contrary.

If God is dead, then certainly so too is Progress.