Liberals, conservatives, hypocrites.

mmghosh's picture

This story started with an opinion piece in the Daily Mail on the Man Who Hated Britain - Ralph Miliband, the father of the current leader of the Labour party Ed Miliband.

On a hot summer day, a young man made his way alone to Highgate Cemetery in North London to make a lifelong vow.
Solemnly, he stood at the grave of Karl Marx at a moment when, in his own words, 'the cemetery was utterly deserted . . . I remember standing in front of the grave, fist clenched, and swearing my own private oath that I would be faithful to the workers' cause'.

The year was 1940. The young man was Ralph Miliband, a Jewish immigrant who, with his father, had fled to London from Belgium just weeks earlier to escape the Nazi Holocaust.

The young Belgian immigrant rebel wrote in his diary

As for the country that gave him and his family protection, the 17-year-old wrote in his diary: 'The Englishman is a rabid nationalist. They are perhaps the most nationalist people in the world . . . you sometimes want them almost to lose (the war) to show them how things are. They have the greatest contempt for the Continent . . . To lose their empire would be the worst possible humiliation.'

The story continued

The fact is, with all his brilliance, his Marxist teaching and his books, Ralph Miliband died a disappointed man. Labour, he conceded, remained 'a party of modest social reform in a capitalist system within whose confines it is ever more firmly and by now irrevocably rooted'. No party or grouping existed that was 'capable of posing an effective challenge'.
But right to the end, he hadn't entirely given up. Nothing had changed in his mind since his pilgrimage, in 1940, to Karl Marx's grave.
Significantly, his own tombstone now lies just 12 yards from it in Highgate cemetery.
It is engraved with the three-word inscription: 'Writer Teacher Socialist.'

The story continued further when Ed Miliband decided to fight for his father's reputation by a dignified riposte, also published by the Mail in which he poured scorn on the Daily Mail's insult to his dead father, down to being stalked at his uncle's private family funeral.  To their credit, the great and the good of British politics and academics, both liberal and conservative were supportive of Mr Miliband and highly critical of the Daily Mail.  They pointed out the difference in actions of Ralph Miliband serving in the Royal Navy in WW2 for 3 years, versus the actions of Lord Rothermere - current owners of the Daily Mail - in writing to Hitler in 1938

“My dear Fuhrer everyone in England is profoundly moved by the bloodless solution to the Czechoslovakian problem. People not so much concerned with territorial readjustment as with dread of another war with its accompanying bloodbath. Frederick the Great was a great popular figure. I salute your excellency’s star which rises higher and higher.”

And to add to this Lord Rothermere avoids paying tax in Britain as much as possible etc etc and so the story grew and died down and Mr Miliband's poll numbers went up.


Enter the hilarious Mehdi Hasan, of HuffPost UK.  On BBC's Question Time, a current affairs programme, he decided to add his two cents worth of outrage.

Asked about the controversy, Hasan said: "Let's have the debate about who hates Britain more, it isn't a dead Jewish refugee from Belgium who served in the Royal Navy, it's the immigrant-bashing, woman-hating, muslim-smearing, NHS-undermining, gay-baiting Daily Mail."

And the audience cheered.  The Daily Mail then published a letter from Mr Hasan to Mr Dacre, current editor of the Mail, sent in 2010 when he was looking for a job




Interestingly, his past history finds him comparing non-Muslims to animals.

I found the best summing up of this entire episode in the Spectator.

The Mail attracts writers who ought to oppose it, because it pays top rates if – and only if – they say exactly what the editor wants them to say. You can get at least £1,000 for a morning’s work, and Dacre will fill your pockets even if he decides not to use your piece. Writers will bark like a performing seal for money as easy as that.


But white leftists should pause before denouncing Hasan as a charlatan and a sell-out. They are the purer hypocrites and greater fools. Hasan is from the Islamist religious right.


If Dacre had had any sense, he would have hired Hasan for strategic reasons. He should have known that social conservatism would be a far stronger force if white rightists could overcome their dislike of immigrants and unite all conservative forces in a common front against liberalism.

As things stand, the world remains upside down. The left rather than the right defends reactionary religion, as long as the reactionaries do not have a white skin. You should never tire of pointing out that they are complicit in an enormous betrayal of progressive principles. Women, gays, secularists, liberals and socialists from ethnic minorities ought to be able to turn to British liberals and leftists for support against the patriarchal men, who seek to control them. Rather than fraternal greetings, they find indifference and hostility. The mainstream of liberal-left opinion in the universities, media, civil service, and Labour and Liberal Democrat parties has convinced itself that it is culturally imperialist to demand that members of minorities should enjoy the same freedoms as the rest of us.

What I find bizarre in the Anglophone world is how socialists are routinely traduced as unpatriotic and likened to saboteurs, say, in the way that OWS was targeted.   


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Let's be clear,

Bird Dog's picture

the FBI and DHS surveillance occurred under "the most closed, control-freak administration" that Sanger ever covered.

A thought. The Daily Mail operates under fairly strict libel laws, so Miliband could have easily prosecuted the paper if it wrote anything untrue about his dad, but he didn't. Instead, he took the tack of protesting about coverage of the life of a private citizen, albeit a private citizen who has published his political views over the years.

"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

--Barack Obama, January 2009

Decades of Cold War propaganda and real fear of a nuclear


exchange have left a long shadow... but I think Britain's anti-socialist culture goes back way, way before Marx even. The English Civil War brought legions of communitarian/socialist/radical/anarchist groups to the forefront. There were Levellers who mostly wanted to extend the franchise, Diggers who were honest-to-god anti-property communists, Fifth Monarchists who believed Christ was at hand and therefore the "saints" should seize political power, Ranters - pantheist antinomians who believed Christ's grace had made men like gods, completely unbound by any obligation to obey religious or secular law, morality, etc. It was a crazy time.  


But the Restoration saw the ultraroyalist party return with, literally, a vengeance. While the Act of Oblivion officially exonerated many parliamentarians in order to ensure a return to peace, the British government put its full energies into repressing anti-royalist, revolutionary, socially reforming movements in the press and on the streets. Even after the Glorious Revolution brought a new compromise between the royalists and parliamentarians, the government had had decades in which to perfect the techniques of social control. The Riot Acts of 1715 for example imposed a death penalty on gatherings of 12 or more who refused to disperse after being "read the riot act," and perhaps more importantly indemnified the authorities for any acts of violence committed during said dispersal.  


The trouble with social revolution is that it's hard to stop. Once you dissolve one hegemonic power, it becomes difficult to leave other hegemonic authorities in place. If you allow men freedom of worship, why not allow them freedom to not worship at all? Once you allow the gentry to vote, why not the peasantry? Once you allow men to wield political power, why not women? Etc. etc.  


By the middle of the 18th century the British government had more experience at repressing social movements through violence, propaganda and legal procedure than any other country on earth. And yet those social ideals uncorked during the English Civil War continued to percolate in the thought of figures like Rousseau, Diderot, Voltaire, etc. Ultimately (and surprisingly, surprisingly), those ideals fulminated into full blown sociocultural revolutions in the British colonies and in France. France with its doddering and pampered ancien regime didn't have near the experience at controlling public discourse, and consequently civil authorities had no idea how to put the genie of revolution back into the bottle. British liberals (like the Romantic poets) were enthusiastic at first about the uprising and self-assertion of the French lower classes...but as the Revolution collapsed into terror, threatening war against Britain, and finally into tyranny and world war under Napoleon, British anti-revolutionary machinery went into high gear in the press, among state police, etc.  


Therefore, by the 20th century British civil authorities had literally centuries of collective experience at discrediting, castigating, and pooh-pooing social revolutionary thought of all kinds. I imagine much of this rhetoric got imported into the US, especially during the US Civil War era.

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

There hasn't been a rebellion by the poor in over 2 centuries

mmghosh's picture

in any significant part of the world.  Most major revolutions have been spearheaded and guided by the educated middle class, from Marx himself to Ho Chi Minh down to Yeltsin and Abimael Guzman.  I suppose you could call Solidarity working class, but they were a small part of the overall movement.


The poor are pretty docile IMO, even here (maybe that is why they are poor - being satisfied by little, whereas the rich desire more and more).


This is really why I am surprised at the pretty rabid demonisation of the modern working class.

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency