Friday, October 10, 2008

Tory Takfiri

This arse-awful gaggle of crap by Simon "Craven" Heffer has already been effectively fisked by Dave Osler among others, but I reckon there's still some unexploited stupidity in there to be had. It's actually even worse than this one.

Basically, this article is an example of what Islamists would call takfiri thinking; takfiris are an especially crazy and extreme version of Wahhabist jihadi, who believe that the millions of other Muslims around them aren't really Muslims, and therefore are even worse than the crusader scum, the Jewish parasites, Shia apostates, etc etc. From this they conclude that they've all got to go. Now, if you need someone to drive a car packed with explosives into a police station, they're your boys; but unfortunately for you, they also have a tendency to turn on all your friends as well. This is roughly what happened in north-central Iraq over the last few years - the NOIA groups, like the 1920 Revolution Brigade, started out by being delighted at the steady supply of Saudi idiots with bags of money and a hankering to blow up, but found the buggers started to take over, chopping off heads and trying to decree weird laws.

So they very sensibly sold them to the Americans. Now, the word "takfiri" means something like "excommunicationist" or maybe "denouncer"; one who wants to purify the community by drumming out everyone who doesn't agree with him as traitors. So what can we make of something like this?
For the Government to take stakes in our leading banks in order to re-capitalise them is not quite the sovietisation of Britain, but it is a pretty good start. Given the instinctively socialistic leanings of our Prime Minister, it may well have been a move he undertook calmly and, quite possibly, with a little excitement.
The sovietisation of Britain? Christ. It wasn't so long ago that this would have been equivalent to an accusation of treason, and I suspect in Heffer's mind it still is. Did you see what I just did, by the way? I used an argument based entirely on my own claims about someone else's private thoughts. Quite possibly with a little excitement. Does it get any better?
By the 1970s the inevitable endgame of socialism was being played out: unions battling with government over rates of pay, prices and incomes policies, food subsidies, the three-day week, the winter of discontent. The state had to create jobs because there was precious little incentive for the private sector to do so. Investment was scarce. The state was everywhere.

The maxim of the American writer and philosopher Ayn Rand came close to fulfilment before the denouement of Old Labour on May 3 1979: that the difference between a welfare state and a totalitarian state is a matter of time.
Oh. You just accused half the political spectrum of being as bad as Nazis or Stalinists. So no, it doesn't get any better. The whole point of Heffer's Tory Takfir is clearly visible here - it's to shift as much of the domain of legitimate debate over the line into the illegitimate, to excommunicate as many people to his left as possible, to demonise and menace and denounce. And, as always, we're asked to look for the secret enemy among us - Heffer takes care to include all previous Conservative governments in the general smear.

I'm not going to bother with the substance, such as it is; it's merely a selection of more or less dishonest strawmen and scare-stories. Britain between 1945 and 1979 was a poverty-stricken desert where the dead went unburied, evil socialists caused national bankruptcy in 1976 (but the finances being so dire as to give the IMF a veto on UK foreign policy in 1956 was apparently peachy), the 70s energy crisis was all Harold Wilson's fault but the 80s oil bust was entirely Thatcher's own work, and this comment has already summed it up very well:
Well, at least one thing is back to normal. Mr. Heffer has reverted to his usual excellent form after his brief lapse into constructive thought yesterday.

Not a word about the merits or demerits of the bailout versus *not* bailing out the banks. Goodness no, that would require judgement. Let alone any recommendations along the lines of "Liberty" and "Anti-Statism". That would require intelligence, insight, and courage.

No, I know a better strategy (Mr. Heffer knows it too by the way). Simply fill a few pages with gripes and moans while pointing out the (glaringly obvious) disadvantages of bailing out the banks, and no-one will ever be able to fault you. You were merely commenting on government action and voicing sensible caution.

If, on the other hand you wrote something substantive you could be faulted the day after tomorrow. Can't have that, right? Better safe than sorry.
But what, you ask, did I expect? The man's an idiotic blowhard, an egregious right-wing hack, a factual counterindicator of Kevin Hassett proportions. Here's the point, though - the politics of denunciation and excommunication is everywhere (even here) at the moment, and Heffer is in it up to his neck, and ignoring it just lets them grab hilltops.


ejh said...

ignoring it just lets them grab hilltops

Yeah maybe, but how can you argue with it?

It's not an abnormal paranoia among propertied people: theoretically, if they can tax you they can grab the lot, so you might as well call anybody you like a communist. But given that in many ways the nature of analysis is distinguishing things that are different - as opposed to pretending they are the same - and given that paranoia isn't susceptible to discussion, where can one go in talking about it? And where can one start?

I mean we could take something like

the difference between a welfare state and a totalitarian state is a matter of time

and say all right, when has this happened please, when has a welfare state developed in that way over time, please give me just one example - but what's the point?

Anglonoel said...

Whenever someone willy nilly starts comparing modern day Britain (or Western countries) to Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union (particularly the Stalin era) I wince.

Simon Heffer is one of those people who needs five years hard labour in a North Korean prison camp to get his sense of perspective back.

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