Month: January 2016

Right Wing Extremism

The following is a work in progress, it is not very well written in that it reads very clunky. I will be returning to this to edit and work on over the next few days. (We all know that means that I probably never will).

Well, Christmas is now well and truly over, we’re almost a full month into the New Year and your old pal Jimmy is all cozy and tucked up, back in his little cave in Gloucestershire. Back into his little routine, back to wearing his little suit and back to tootling off to his little job in his little car. ‘Beep beep’. Turning up to work with his Frappicappilatte and croissant. His fat little red cheeky face munching away, dropping crumbs, as he frantically prepares for the morning meeting. He always makes it in early, he’s very diligent and he tries very hard.

He is lovable. Just remember, he is very lovable.

Every day is like Groundhog Day. I come home at night, record some music (badly) or get angry watching the ‘news’. Like yesterday’s Panorama expose on Vladimir Putin and tonight’s programme on Donald Trump. Fairly obvious propaganda to the rational mind. At least I have a student coming this weekend, so that’ll be a little bit of fun to be had, some ‘skirt chasing by proxy’.

So there is this theme prevalent in political discussion, which every time it comes up, I find myself pushing back. It’s such a well worn trope that trying to push back on it is like trying to tell people the earth is flat (yes, I know it’s not).

The theme is this idea of the ‘extreme right’ or ‘far right’. Basically, that means a Nazi or a fascist. If you get too ‘right wing’, you become a Nazi. Hitler was too ‘right wing’. Racism is ‘extreme right’. Selfishness is ‘right wing’. Being mean in general is ‘far right’. Someone from the ‘far right’ had a skinhead and put a brick through a window. He was stupid, mean and on the right.

Here are my thoughts.

One Dimensional Spectrum

First of all, as far as I understand it, a one dimensional spectrum such as left/right can only measure against ONE independent value. For an impartial example – preference for bananas.

If I want the spectrum under discussion to have any value in the discussion, I also want it to be as universal as possible too. I can’t chop and change it depending on the subject matter, otherwise it becomes meaningless. So I can’t be saying far left is ‘liking bananas’ and then three minutes later I’ve changed it to meaning ‘juggling ability’ without notifying the person I am talking to.

What that means is – we have to choose one value and stick with it.

Left – Loves Bananas ————————————– Hates Bananas – Right

That works just fine, but obviously it cannot measure anything else if it wishes to be universal. So for example it can’t also measure juggling ability. Otherwise you get this.

Left – Loves Bananas. Ace Juggler ———– Hates Bananas. Shite Juggler – Right

As soon as you do this, it’s no longer universal because juggling ability doesn’t increase or decrease in accordance with banana preference. That is to say, as soon as you find yourself a banana hating juggler, your spectrum is blown.

It’s also arbitrary to put excellence in juggling ability next to a preference for bananas.

So a left/right spectrum has to define clearly which ONE independent value it is measuring and as far as I can see, in popular discourse, this is ever changing. When we talk about Hitler, he is always depicted as right wing because he is ‘racist’ or intolerant in some way or that he imposed state solutions, depending on the preference of the person you’re talking to. So the spectrum measures racist or intolerant/exclusive attitudes, or state solutions?

But no, because then five minutes later when we talk about Che Guevera, he is left wing because he ‘represents the worker’. So now the spectrum measures ‘attitude to the worker’? Che is never mentioned as a leftist because he was anti-racist, but because he represents the worker. (In fact, Che was profoundly racist. But that’s another story).

So we have a situation where Hitler is on the right because he is racist and Che is on the left because he represents the worker? Depending entirely upon the preferences of the person you are debating.

Well, that just doesn’t make any sense. It’s total nonsense.

Left – Represents The Working Man ———————— Racist – Right

Racism doesn’t increase as one’s favour to the working man decreases. That’s just like saying, the less you like bananas, the worse you can juggle.

The truth is, left or right wing can actually mean whatever you want it to, as long as you define your spectrum up front. If you want to make it measure racism, then fine, but if Hitler is right wing, so is Stalin and so is Che Guevera.

You can’t then flip flop in the next sentence and put Che on the left because he supposedly ‘supports the poor’.

A one dimensional spectrum can only measure against ONE unique value. This is the first reason the left/right paradigm is unhelpful and misleading.

What does ‘left’ mean?

The idea of the ‘left wing’ comes from French politics. Around the time of the French revolution. The Socialists sat on the left of King Louis (I think it was). So the left wing were the Socialists.

So when we refer to the left/right spectrum, historically, the left means socialism. That means that the right means the opposite of socialism?

Racism is not the opposite of socialism. History has plenty of examples of racist socialists.

Left – Socialism. Anti Racist ———— Anti Socialist. Racist – Right

The above spectrum is completely arbitrary because racism doesn’t increase as, say, your preference for free markets increases. If Margaret Thatcher loved free markets any more she wouldn’t magically thus become a racist.

Is that maybe what we’re supposed to think though? If anyone like me talks of limiting the size and power of the state, then they’re ooh ‘right wing’. Are we supposed to think they’re dangerous if we go along with their ideas…. because if they go a bit further…. the next thing we know we’ll be murdering the Jews again. Is it a slurring tactic?

I know for sure that if I said at work ‘I am very right wing’, then it would be very bad for my career. Even if I identify as right wing, I’d have to be very careful how I said it.

So if the left is Socialism, what is Socialism?

This is where it gets very woolly. Everyone can have their own personal definition of what Socialism is and this is the second reason the left/right paradigm is unhelpful and misleading. Every person has their own subjective and woolly definitions of what left/right politics represents.

For me, if the extreme left is Communism – then the left is centrally planned Government solutions. It’s the most universal measure of socialism I have found. I prefer to refer to it as Statism, rather than Socialism.

Left Wing = The state. Solutions delivered through the state.

There are other things that people on the left have done. Such as wrap people up in barbed wire and roll them along the ground, or put their heads in petrol filled car tyres and set fire to them. So if we want we could make sadism the value of our spectrum, but if we ever found a sadistic conservative, then our spectrum’s use against political measurement would be limited.      

So what is right wing extremism?

So if the left is centrally planned Government solutions, left wing extremism is a total command economy. Socialism, Communism, or the modern day authoritarians (often ironically called ‘liberals’ or ‘regressives’) are all examples of solutions delivered through the state. So these are on the left.

This is very important. Hitler and the Nazis, were by this measure also on the left. They were Socialists – marked by high centralisation and state control of the economy and society, pensions, schools, services – all under state control.

Importantly the Nazis also set the prices and the labour rates. They just didn’t do it overtly. They did it behind the scenes. They supposedly left industry under ‘private ownership’ but they dictated how those companies could be run. Then when things inevitably went wrong, they could blame the ‘Capitalists’ in charge of the compannies, rather than the Socialism that actually caused the problem.

By the way: Capitalism means ‘an economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners, for profit, rather than by the state’.

So if anyone tries to tell you Nazi Germany was Capitalist – I’d be keen to ask them how that can be possibly be the case when the state set pricing, production levels and wages.

The fact is that there is no magic wand that dismisses all this and makes the Nazis ‘extreme right’ just because – ‘Dictator’ or ‘Racist’ or ‘Moustache’. It’s an adolescent narrative.

The BNP are also on the left. Read their manifestos. State control of key industry and state delivery of key services.

These horrible racist intolerant bastards we’re always told about – they are not right wing extremists by any universal or consistent measure only by adolescent narrative and incredible logical gymnastics. If someone is proposing they deliver solutions through the power of the state then that’s left leaning.

If ‘Left’ is solutions through the state then the right can only be the opposite of what the left is. So that would be solutions without the state? The free market? Maybe just the absence of the state?

Right wing extremism would be an anarchist (anarchy, by the way, is rules but no rulers). Someone who espouses entirely the requirement for state power and wants all solutions delivered outside state interference.

Ultimately, the idea that anything as complicated as interlinked political positions can be measured accurately on a one dimensional spectrum is unrealistic and totally useless, but the problem is, the theme is dominant. I try if possible to reject it entirely. A much better measure, but still not perfect is something like this image.

 

Notice how on this image above, Communism and Fascism are next each other. Hitler and Stalin are close bed fellows. Not opposite ends of a left right spectrum.

We’ve been fed for decades some woolly idea that politics looks like:

Left (kindness, giving, inclusion, state support, new ideas, state solution)

Right (selfish, old fashioned, Christian, puritan, racist, free markets)

It’s ludicrous to accept that as someone becomes meaner, they become more Christian. Or if someone becomes more supportive of the Government, they become less racist. On closer inspection, the narrative falls apart.

This is by no means the last word on the discussion. It’s just what I notice right now in terms of a lot of the inaccuracy in this particular subject. If someone talks to me about left and right wing, I ask them to define their criteria of measurement – because otherwise, if I don’t know their criteria for measurement, then I am just not having a conversation of any merit.

I look for their criteria to be consistent and universal and if it’s not, I push back. I don’t let them put ‘anti immigration’ on the right next to ‘free markets’. It’s nonsensical. I remind them that a libertarian or an anarchist would be extremely right wing and would propose both open borders and free markets, I ask them to explain that and sense check that their spectrum is not too narrow, inconsistent or short on logic.

Abundance and the Potato Feminist

True to form, it’s been a good while since I last posted. Four weeks away at Christmas, including two in Spain. Then a spell in hospital with a minor heart problem. Yes. That’s right. A heart problem. Thankfully it was very minor (pericarditis), but it took them a while to confirm that. And when they brought a grave looking specialist in to talk to be about my blood test, for a moment I honestly thought my time was up. To be fair, I am almost 40. I act like I’m 20, but I’m heading into middle age here.

The funniest part of the whole health scare  was that the chick doctor who was looking after me looked bang up like Matt C. I mean EXACT. Even JJ said it. The whole escapade was surreal.

I dropped JJ off at Heathrow this afternoon and from tomorrow it’s back to normal. Two more months of my current contract, finish in March, then I suppose it’s another summer off. Another influx of students and another European adventure. Those of you who have contacted me for coaching, remember, the summer is coming. I hope you have polished your pickup boots.

So really this is just a post to let you know I am all still alive, but when I logged into my WordPress I saw a note that said ‘remember to tell that story about the potato feminist’.

It took me a while to remember what the hell I was talking about. But there’s a heart warming little story I remember from time to time that demonstrates how hard work into a skill set brings success and then that success brings an abundance mentality which makes it very hard for people to fuck with you. This is true for me in my job as well as in any romantic endeavours.

This is going back years ago. Years. Five at least, maybe ten. I was on a date with a girl. We were in coffee shop. I’d picked her up with Matt C from the 3 Bromigos… I may have been with Bodi and Krauser. I don’t fully recall. But I’d ended up going on a coffee date with this chick. She was, admittedly, very good looking.

Cooo eeee. Look at meee!

Cooo eeee. Look at meee!

We were on this date and I’d said something about modern women being careless with their femininity. Drinking too much, smoking and when they hit 30 they look like potatoes. What do you expect when you smash the Chardonnay for the best part of a decade?

She at first agreed. She said that English women in particular drink too much. I then said:

‘They copy the men, but men’s bodies can take alcohol better than a woman’s, so there is a heavier price to pay for girls who booze’.

Then she looked at me and said: ‘That’s sexist’.

To which I said. ‘I don’t really know about all that. I know doctors warn than women can’t handle as much alcohol as men’.

She then said ‘well… it’s childish to say all women are potatoes’.

So at this point I find myself on the verge of a pissing contest with some 24 year old skirt. How do I handle it? Hold my frame? Reframe my position? Change the subject? Make a joke out of it? Reason with her? Point out I didn’t say ‘all’ women?

Nah, I just leave. Just leave it. Not in a huff. Just calm and cool. Cary Grant. I just looked at my watch and said ‘that’s cool, look, it’s getting on. Do you mind if I shoot’. I stood up, left some money on the table and walked out.

Any sign of politically motivated aggravation and I treat it like a big red flag – not a shit test. I can handle a shit test. But a millennial’s pseudo political whining… could you imagine if I slept with a feminist and she found this blog?

So anyway. I just left. Plenty more fish in the sea. But the funny part of this story is that around one minute after leaving the coffee shop I saw a really hot chick bopping down the street, under the cover of the trees by the park. Floppy hat, well dressed. So I motored over.

I was in set not three minutes and as luck would have it, she was up for going for a coffee. So I took her to the coffee shop I’d just left. I’d totally forgotten about the previous date. When I arrived the former date was still in there. At first I panicked. I’d totally forgotten about the previous date and now I’d rocked up with another chick, surely there’d be some kind of scene? But I had to just grab my balls and brazen it out.

And there I was, not five minutes after being chased away by some piece of skirt who thought her shit didn’t stink, I was back in the same coffee shop with another chick, just as hot, only this one wasn’t calling me out for imagined social crimes.

See the thing is, at some point, you have to realise that a cool fucker is rarer than a hot chick. I’m worth my weight in gold and she.. she is literally replaceable in five minutes if you have the balls to just approach girls and take your chances. She doesn’t hold the cards, I do. This isn’t a gambit, or a mindset to tell yourself before you head out to crank some sets. It’s just the way it is if you have done the hard work and invested in yourself. If you’re cool, you’re genuinely  the bomb. If she can’t see it then that’s fine but you don’t need to surrender your position at the head of the table over it.

I like to think she learnt her lesson. I like to think she realised she didn’t have quite as strong a hand as she assumed she did and that the next time she was on a date with a rock star, she maybe doesn’t chase him away for the sake of exaggerated outrage. Maybe she did, maybe she didn’t, but I am pretty sure it took her longer than 5 minutes too replace me at her table.