The twisted two-dimensional logic of the right.

Aug 16, 2011

Peter Hitchens a man who understands riots

If I were to explain to you the reasons for Hitler coming to power, or indeed the start of the Vietnam War, you’d expect some political context, a bit of economics, sociology, and a general political viewpoint. You may agree or not with my explanation, but I doubt very much you’d think I was justifying the Nazi Party coming to power or the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese people by the US Army.

But that’s effectively what happened to me on Radio 5 on Friday evening (only available for a couple more days). Peter Hitchens was debating myself and Sheldon Thomas, a gang mentor from South London. Any political explanation, any criticism of the government was met by the Hitchens blustering “You’re just trying to justify it, don’t justify the violence”. So keen was he on this tactic, that when I pointed it out on air, we choked on his bluster and for once took time before thinking of his come back. That’s just one small example of the attitude of those who want curfews and baton charges not understanding. It’s the political equivalent of sticking your fingers in your ears and singing “I’m not listening, I’m not listening”.

Certain words and phrases in the debate are ominous in their frequency. “Opportunist” rioters are roundly condemned. Opportunism being one of the central characteristics of behaviour that is encourage by neo-liberal economics, the uniting philosophy of the mainstream political parties in the west today. You would think people being opportunistic are taking the lessons from the leaders of the free world and the system of capitalism itself. People buying council homes, corporations setting up PFI contracts, the use of tax havens to reduce tax bills, producing Royal Wedding tat to sell to tourists and people swept up in the media frenzy over the event all seem to fit that description precisely.

“Unthinking” “pure criminality” and “moral collapse” figure largely in the words coming out of Tory mouths as they scramble to get to the advantageous political position that will allow them to bolster state and police power and avoid being to blame for the fightback. It doesn’t take a quantum leap of logic to see how these phrases can be justifiably applied to MPs and media bosses, not to mention bankers.

There’s another trick that’s been the hallmark of this Government since it came to office. It can be summed up in the three steps: bad example, generalise, cut or legislate. To prove there’s no or little connection between poverty and the riots, the young woman, described in some newspapers as the ‘daughter of a millionaire” who got swept up in the events and subsequently arrested. Then there’s the ‘teacher’, who in reality is a teaching assistant. There;’s an important difference there. A teacher, starting salary of £27,000 in London, and by definition qualified (usually to degree level) as opposed to a teaching assistant who enjoys the fat salary of £7 – 8,000, rising to a maximum of £13,000 (not many cases of that). But the changing of title from assistant to teacher helps this argument of wealth amongst rioters.

People who look like Peter Hitchens (above) who's thinking, lack of criminality, morals and lack of opportunism is an example to us all.

We’ve seen this bad example method in play umpteen times in the life of the Coalition. Ken Clarke, when cutting Legal Aid states that many of the cases funded in this way would never see the door of a court room as they’re not worthy of a judge’s ear. A few examples of cases most taxpayers wouldn’t be keen to fund are proffered deftly ignoring the swathe of worthy cases that happen every day. Benefit cuts are announced with a few expensive examples held up for media ridicule whilst thousands if not millions of people see their essential lifeline terminated.

There is, as our “We Accuse” list on this website suggests, a whole raft of contributory factors to the reasons the riots happened. Nothing is solely to blame, apart fro the inevitable place capitalism has found itself in. As the system tries to justify itself and prolong it’s hegemonic place in the world, it necessarily has to lash out and further depend on the exploitation of the people at the bottom of society. As profits fall and the numbers of billionaires rises, the squeeze on the poor will get harder and harsher.

One phrase that’s not been over used, but will become more common is worth noting. You ain’t seen nothing yet.

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One Response to The twisted two-dimensional logic of the right.

  1. wizardx says:

    Those of us who want to understand how people like Hitchens tick: read Prof bob Altemeyer’s free online book ‘The Authoritarians’. Nothing in there we don’t already know, except that he shows us why these Fear-Minded right wingers say what they do and the effect it all has – Social Dominance Oriented Personality interacts with the Right Wing Authoritarian to give us the Authoritarian Embrace, a dynamic that can lead to fascism. It’s all there, from Adorno’s explanation of the causes of Nazism to the Republicans’ rise after 9/11. It also exposes every breath our UK Conservatives have uttered over the past year. Don’t be afraid of the authoritarian spectre, be informed of their mindset and most importantly how to best subvert their clusterfuck intent.