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  • This is not a parody, promise

    by Sunny
    19th May, 2008 at 5:06 am    

    This is straight from Melanie Phillips’s blog:

    Anthony Browne has an excellent piece in this week’s Spectator saying that what Britain needs is US-style think-tanks whose size enables them to do what the far more modest British think-tanks cannot do and for which there is a crying need — to challenge the intellectual stranglehold of the universities. Indeed, we need to go much further than that. At the heart of Britain’s spiral of intellectual, moral, social and political disintegration (yes, I am indeed understating the case) lies the intellectual hegemony of the left, enforced through bullying, intimidation, character assassination and the whole bag of tricks used to stifle an open society.

    And she carries on….

    The result is a public discourse from which truth, evidence and rationality have been exiled, a society where normative values have been replaced by the transgressive or alien, and a national culture which is losing the will to live. In America, these pressures certainly exist, particularly in the academy and its outriders in the media; but at least there a culture war is in progress with the fightback being conducted by the big think-tanks, publications like the Weekly Standard, City Journal or Commentary, talk radio and Fox News, and the evangelical churches. In Britain, the absence of any such alternative discourse means there has been no culture war here but a culture rout.

    This spiral of decline therefore cannot begin to be addressed unless this monopoly is busted wide open. The most urgent task for any government which wants to turn Britain round is therefore to open up the public sphere and restore a liberal society. That would involve a systematic re-balancing of public subsidies away from the institutions doing the damage. Top-slicing the BBC licence-fee so that part of it goes to alternative broadcasters, for example, as the Tories have already suggested, would be an excellent start. The same should be done with the quangocracy — the Arts Council or the British Council spring to mind — and the vast fiefdoms of NGOs and the voluntary sector. Reducing the government grant to Drugscope — the dominant drug advisory body whose ‘harm reduction’ agenda is a Trojan horse for legalisation -  and giving the money to campaigners who are committed to eradicating drug use would bring evidence into the public domain which would open people’s eyes to the legalising propaganda which at present they have no way of recognising. Similarly, helping build alternatives to such citadels of the nomenklatura as the NSPCC, Friends of the Earth, Stonewall or Liberty would end the free pass currently afforded to the cultural nihilists, arrested adolescents and sub-Gramscian subversives who currently have their thumbs on the British windpipe.

    Mmm… there’s a part of me that relishes American style culture wars here, simply because it allows one to be much more aggressive and partisan in politics. It’s like that Chris Matthews video I posted here a few days ago - politics becomes entertainment… and much more strategic. Much more war-like.

    Is that a good or bad thing over the long term? I’m not sure. Barack Obama’s popularity suggests people do get tired of it eventually. But a part of me wants that aggressive tone simply so I could go out there and build a hyper-aggressive Huffington Post for the UK.

    I love the fact that Melanie Phillips still takes herself seriously after writing all that though. Now that is a seriously delusional attitude Gordon Brown doesn’t even come close to.

                  Post to

    Filed in: Culture,Current affairs,Humour,Media,United States

    16 Comments below   |  

    Reactions: Twitter, blogs

    1. Letters From A Tory — on 19th May, 2008 at 10:22 am  

      “intellectual stranglehold of the universities”

      Eh? Surely the only people with a genuine strangehold are Gordon Brown’s inner circle at Number 10?

    2. MaidMarian — on 19th May, 2008 at 10:51 am  

      ‘enforced through bullying, intimidation, character assassination and the whole bag of tricks used to stifle an open society.’

      That is probably the best description of MP’s methods one could find.

      I feel as though Jordan has just told society that it needs to put its chest away.

    3. billericaydicky — on 19th May, 2008 at 11:09 am  

      This is interesting as a little ideological war is just about to break out over exactly the issue that Phillips is addressing.

      There was an interesting article in the East London Advertiser about housing which is being discussed on the BNP site One of the think tanks that Phillips is talking about, the Young Foundation, is mentioned by the BNP.

      What a lot of liberal critics of the foundation are saying is that it is simply an agency of New Labour and while seemingly independent turns out documents which endorse New Labour policies and having looked at the foundation’s site and talked to people in the East End I think that the accusations are true.

      It is interesting that Phillips mentions Gramsci as he is also a favourite of Nick Griffin. Gramsci believes that revolutions or radical changes in society can only be achieved when the culture of a society has been changed so that radical change is acceptable.

      Phillips is the stalking horse of the radical right and unfortunately for the left they have left themselves wide open for the kind of attack that the neo cons have made so successfully in America. The intellectual running there has been neo con for years and an Obama victory would not change it. We are about to see the same thing here.

      When it happens all of the quangos that will find themselves wound up will have only themselves to blame. Watch this space and do check out the BNP articles.

    4. fug — on 19th May, 2008 at 12:56 pm  

      well i think what she says will probably end up happening as the tories regain power in the coming times.

      your own virtual ghetto is part of that happening.

    5. kELvi — on 19th May, 2008 at 1:09 pm  

      Melanie gets quite a lot right, excepting for the creationism part, where she is out of her depth. But were she to look a little more closely at the target of her ire, that nebulous thing called the Left, she would find not only left loons at the universities, but also people like Pat Condell, an equal opportunity religion basher, Richard Dawkins, and Chris Hitchens. The US university scene can be bizzare, simply because there are so many of them, set in wayout places, and richly endowed. David Horowitz’s survey of university whackjobs is a quick and concise report of the many tenured incompetents. The UK too has its fair share of such nutcases it seems, with the current rumblings about an Israel divestment and unofficial ban on Israeli professors, among the professoriat. These are all clear cases of doctrine/dogma gone berserk. It takes a great deal of stupidity to bar professors from the only real universities in the region - in Israel - and give a free reign instead to fire belching extremists from cesspools of obscurantism in the rest of the region. The right wing think-tanks in the US are another thing entirely (which is why I call them septic tanks). As Paul Krugman points out it doesn’t take much investment to set up a economics/culture study center. Which is why a few millions here and there will buy you enough numbskulls to set up a Cato Foundation, or an alexis De Tocqueville Institute. The entire lot of them, Heritage Foundation, Scaife foundation, or American enterprise Institute, Club for Growth, have a ****-poor record of quality work, and barely a veneer of intellectual caliber. But given the substantially better informed media and reading public in the UK, a Jonah Goldberg or Anne Coulter wouldn’t last even a few weeks in print.

    6. Avi Cohen — on 19th May, 2008 at 1:15 pm  

      She wants this because it allows her and her ilk to then control the flow of policy as happens in the USA.

      Lobby Groups are a disaster for justice and social wellbeing. They allow money to be used to purchase influence.

      Phillips is too sily to realise that as your polar opposite lobby gets organised and has more money then it will at some point kick your arse.

      Phillips is advocating this from a position she sees of power where her viewpoint has power. I’d liek to see her in a a decade when this influence may be on the wane.

      Next she’ll be asking for Evnagelicals to come over ;-)

    7. Avi Cohen — on 19th May, 2008 at 1:17 pm  

      I also wonedr what she and them at Harry’ Place think about the latest reports of:

      Mistreatment of the Qur’an which they denied turning out to be largely true.

      Bush admitting that the intelligence on Iraq was incorrect.

      Where does that leave Mel and Harry’s Place’s moralisitic arguments!

    8. soru — on 19th May, 2008 at 1:17 pm  

      It’s very likely true that something like this could, given sufficient funding, ‘work’ in a UK context. The US did, after all, used to be much more liberal on social issues than the UK. We don’t have so much of the ‘religious right’, but that will probably only simplify the required message, allow leaving out the workarounds they have to put in for actual Biblical doctrine.

      I do suspect that over here, it would collapse earlier than it has in the US, as the UK has rather less of the kind of economic and military power that let the US temporarily get away with that kind of Gramscian indifference to objective reality.

    9. fug — on 19th May, 2008 at 1:20 pm  

      it doesnt matter. they know the public ability to forget and their powerlessness against the media. they have their secured channel of whispers. everytime a think tank report or journalistic article is linked to or discussed, that quarters power increases.

    10. Bartholomew — on 19th May, 2008 at 3:29 pm  

      There were some US-inspired right-wing outfits kicking around in the 1980s, providing homes for Young Conservatives and assorted types. Jack Abramoff set up a UK branch of his International Freedom Foundation (using South African cash); the Western Goals Institute had a UK off-shoot that actually lived on (moving further rightwards) for a few years after the US parent went under during Irangate.

    11. Don — on 19th May, 2008 at 5:25 pm  

      ‘…talk radio and Fox News, and the evangelical churches.’ Yeah, that would improve the discourse no end.

    12. Amrit — on 19th May, 2008 at 5:59 pm  

      ‘At the heart of Britain’s spiral of intellectual, moral, social and political disintegration (yes, I am indeed understating the case)’

      Is she being funny here?

      I started having Sammy and Rosie_style visions of the UK… but it didn’t seem that apocalyptic to me when I was over at Easter. Sorry, Mel!

    13. Sunny — on 19th May, 2008 at 11:54 pm  

      The US university scene can be bizzare, simply because there are so many of them, set in wayout places, and richly endowed. David Horowitz’s survey of university whackjobs is a quick and concise report of the many tenured incompetents.

      David Horiowitz is a whack-job himself. Period.

    14. kELvi — on 20th May, 2008 at 12:39 am  


      David Horiowitz is a whack-job himself. Period. That’s your way of coping with unpalatable reality. As smarmy as Horowitz’s apologia for slavery is, his account of the some of the whacky professors of the US academy is commendable. Take for instance deep intellects such as miriam cooke (Duke, apologist for shariah), or Amiri Baraka, master of incoherent verse. There isn’t much to choose as nutcases go between a Jonah Goldberg and a Norman Finkelstein or a Bettina Apthekar and an Anne Coulter.

    15. Sunny — on 20th May, 2008 at 2:07 am  

      As smarmy as Horowitz’s apologia for slavery is, his account of the some of the whacky professors of the US academy is commendable.

      Its called MacCarthyism. He’s a whack-job on the scale as Ann Coulter. When Obama becomes Prez, these idiots will jizz themselves at having to look up to a black man for leadership.

    16. kELvi — on 20th May, 2008 at 4:34 pm  


      When David Horowitz asks why the numberless Womens’ Studies Departments in the US are busy assailing white patriarchy but aren’t discussing Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s Infidel or Taslima Nasrin’s Dwikhandito,
      it’s not McCarthy’ism, it’s being politically incorrect. It’s tough to be an equal opportunity basher of ideology. Look at Chris Hitchens, who is an outspoken atheist and among the few journalists to rip the facade off the fake of Calcutta Agnes Boiaxhu. But his brother Pete Hitchens is a nominal Christian and unlike his brother is opposed to the war in Iraq! In fact Chris Hitchens’s fellow members of the Four Horsemen, Dawkins, Dennet, and Sam Harris are all anti-war but equally contemptuous of all religion. So we take them as they come. Opinions and then facts and theories are important and are to be liked or rejected. People? I am not so sure.

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