I’ve been blogging for 13 years, and my first post was about Islam in Europe :
I believed then that danger of Islam was exaggerated, by people who I normally agreed with such as Eric Raymond
I’ve changed my view on many things since then, from being a by-the-book Libertarian to something I had to find a new name for.
Only one thing that I wrote back then is definitely now not true:
The Muslim immigrants to Britain are integrating slowly into British culture.
This 2005 piece by me comes off looking especially bad now
This does not mean that Islam is dying out, just that, like Christianity, it is evolving into a form that makes less conflict with the practicalities of living in a developed society. I expect that in a hundred years Moslems will continue to recite the Koran and observe Ramadan, but what I am calling the “primitive” elements — intolerance of Western practices of commerce, sexual behaviour, freedom of expression, whatever — will have died out.
Among Moslems in the West, as well as the more Westernised Moslem countries like Turkey, this is already the case for the majority. And this is why the “primitives” are angry.
File that under “overtaken by events.” I did say then that it was more important for the West to be seen to win in Iraq than to achieve anything concrete, so maybe if that had been done then things would look different today. Perhaps what I predicted was at that time still possible, but whether I was wrong about that or not, the reality today is utterly different. It is moderate Islam that is declining, globally, not Islamism.
“Integration” now going backwards. Possibly that had already begun in 2004 and I hadn’t noticed, but I suspect it is something new.
Many of my online homies say that “moderate Islam” is a myth or mirage — that the history of Islam shows that it is inherently and inevitably violent and expansionist. Pitched against liberals who say that Christianity has an equally violent and aggressive history, they certainly have the better of their argument. But while the leftists are ignoring everything before the 1800s, the rightists are ignoring everything since. There was very little Islamist violence in the 20th Century. The Partition of India was a free-for-all. The major Islamic states, Egypt and Turkey, were secular socialist-nationalist in character.
Contrary to my previous assertions, the situation is getting worse not better, but it is still noticeable that Islamist terrorists in Britain are not in their national origins representative of Britain’s Muslim population. The ringleader of the 2005 train bombers was from a typical British-Pakistani background, but most of the others have come from Africa or the Middle East. Even Butt seems atypical since he came to the country as a refugee — most British Pakistanis did not come as refugees, but as Commonwealth migrants back in the 70s and families thereafter. Britain has been granting asylum to very few Pakistanis — 77 in the last quarter [pdf] .
Pakistani immigration was encouraged for economic reasons up until 1971, and since then it has been family-based. However, their numbers have increased tenfold over those 45 years, from 120,000 to 1.2 million. That’s plausible as bringing in existing family members plus marrying more and having two generations of children, but it’s towards the high end of what you would estimate. If there’s another significant contributor to that tenfold expansion I don’t know what it is.
Striking as those numbers are, my point is that those “normal British Pakistanis” are not the Islamic terrorists in Britain. They really are the “moderate Muslims” that are alleged not to exist (The child prostitution gangs such as the Rotherham one, on the other hand, are exactly from that typical background, one reason why I see that as a totally separate issue). My biggest worry is that by adding significant numbers of African and Middle Eastern jihadis into the mix, the whole British Pakistani culture could be shifted. The Muslim population of Britain doubled between 2005 and 2015 (per Ed West) and the non-Pakistani Muslim population was probably multipled several times. This was the effect of the “rubbing noses in diversity” — the Labour government changing the demographics of the country not even out of strategy but out of vulgar spite. That was a development I failed to imagine.
Waiting for Islam to become more moderate is no longer on the table. Forcing Islam to become more moderate is, I believe, thoroughly achievable with sensible policies. The fundamental is for law and society to be at least as tough on expression of tribalism from Muslims as they are on expression of tribalism from natives. This is currently very far from the case. I try to stay out of day-to-day politics, so when I retweet other right-wingers, it’s usually because they’re highlighting this disparity:
The other side of that is this story: In Germany, Syrians find mosques too conservative
Mosques in Western countries are now more extremist than those elsewhere in the world. This is a straightforward holiness spiral — within a community, you can gain status by professing stronger allegiance to that community’s symbols than anyone else does. In a functioning community, this tendency is moderated by the practical demands of society. But, even the large, stable, Pakistani communities in Britain are not truly functional — they are subsidised and supported by the wider society.
The wider society — the liberal West — is deeply opposed to putting any restraint whatsoever on the puritanism growing within the community. They are like the naive conservationists of the past who believed that by keeping out all predators they were allowing an ecosystem to flourish naturally, when in fact they were unbalancing it towards a destructive tipping point. It is natural and universal for religious extremism to come into conflict with its neigbours and be pushed back by them.
Basically, what I’m saying is that Tommy Robinson is a natural predator, and by suppressing him, liberal society is producing a Trophic Cascade in the extremist ecosystem.
It’s not only in a minority community that this mechanism should happen. I asked on Twitter, is there any Islamic country where the mosques are not subject to state supervision of doctrine? In majority Islamic communities, the pushback in favour of practicality comes from the state. Again, a liberal Western state disclaims any responsibility for pushing back on Islam, though it is a job that I understand most Islamic states consider necessary.
Update: It should go without saying that continuing to increase the Muslim population is also destabilising. As well as increasing the imbalance, in itself it is a sign of weakness which makes extremism more attractive and moderation less attractive. I am not saying any more than that it is not (yet) necessary to undertake more drastic measures such as mass deportations of long-standing residents. Since the continued importation of Muslims is the same political process as the active protection of extremism from its natural opposition, ending one means also ending the other.
Have I written about Breivik at all? I don’t think so. Whenever I try I end up with something so wide-ranging and rambling that I can’t finish or satisfactorily edit it. His story touches on my themes in so many different ways.
He’s also something of an embarrassment. In claiming the “neoreactionary” label, I am in a sense grouping myself with whoever else puts a return to traditional forms of government on a modern theoretical basis. I would argue that fascism doesn’t count as a neoreactionary theory, but it’s not easy to exclude Breivik.
I’ve read his “compendium”; well, read quite a lot of it and skimmed all the rest. There’s some sense there, along with the major error I originally started this blog to oppose: a huge overestimate of the actual and potential power of Islam in the West. (And along with an inordinate fascination with medals.) I answered the question Is Europe Becoming Islamicised with a “no” in 2004 and I stand by that.
The reason I haven’t posted before to make this point is that, after all, I know very little about Norway. Maybe it really is as bad there as Breivik claims: what standing do I have to claim otherwise?
However, my self-restraint from describing conditions in Oslo has not been reciprocated by Breivik, who in his defence speech described my home town of Luton as a “war zone” containing “no go areas”.
Now I am not here to sing the praises of Luton in all its glorious multicultural harmony. It’s a rough old place, not without conflict between Muslims and non-Muslims. I have reported on the Begum case, the violent demonstrations, the odd leaflets, and the (thin) connections with islamist terrorism. But there are not no-go areas. I walk through the back streets of Bury Park after dark with less trepidation than past the nightclubs of the town centre. It was a rough town long before the Muslims got here, and the police constable who was murdered a few years ago was knifed by a schizophrenic Nigerian, not by some jihadist.
As I said all those years ago, Islam is used as a proxy by the universalist ruling elite with which to attack those aspects of traditional culture which native Europeans cannot be simply persuaded to abandon. Breivik obviously understands this to some extent: it is the reason he directed his attacks at white politicians rather than Muslims.
(Incidentally, the same immigration strategy can, and on occasion has, been used by conservatives to manipulate the culture: immigrants could be used to encourage patriarchy and disciplined child-rearing. But we are ordered to accommodate some aspects of immigrant culture, while others are hidden or treated as a problem, and it is clear who is giving the orders).
Indeed, Brevik’s own operational competence is an indication of where the balance of power between Westerners and Islam lies: by himself, with no funding, he did more damage than the eight Al-Quaeda trained and funded operatives who attacked London in July 2005. If we ever really have to fight Islam on our own ground, it will be easy. But I don’t think we will.
Rather, I suspect that at some point when the elite have no more use for the Muslims they will turn on them as they habitually do to their allies. At that point the immigrants will be driven out or forced to conform to the new culture, their free pass to to retain outmoded privileges like freedom of religion and independent exclusive institutions withdrawn.
So while Breivik is right about the existence of a universalist attack on European culture, he is mistaken in making Islam such a central aspect of it.
Since I am in part defending Breivik’s position, I must address the violence question —- could action such as his ever be justifiable?
All serious politicans are willing to kill people in a good cause: that is why all governments have armies and armed police. Most are willing to kill innocent people in a good cause: that is how we get policies like the bombing of Libya.
Of course, Breivik was not acting on behalf of a state —- does that make his violence automatically wrong? The mainstream of thought idolises the armed rebels whose causes it agrees with. So it can’t oppose Breivik on that basis. Rather, it probably relies on the fact that the state Breivik opposes is democratic as a reason why his violence cannot be acceptable.
However, as he himself pointed out during his trial testimony, the democratic states will always take steps to ensure that views like his will not be able to advance through democracy.
So, working on widely-accepted principles, it all comes down to his views — violence against the innocent in order to overcome a state which does not allow a legitimate method to remedy its failings is, apparently, justifiable, but is Breivik actually on the path to remedy the Norwegian state’s failings?
Er, no. I don’t think he has any realistic idea of what would be a better state, and I’m sure his one-man war is not going to help create it even if he has.
But that is my judgement of his political position — one based, unlike those of most journalists who have written on the matter, on actually reading what he wrote. And, for that matter, since this shit is difficult™, a judgement that might still be wrong.
In any case, while fighting an unjust state is right according to modern mainstream principles, it is not right according to reactionary principles. Reactionaries do not believe in a right to choose one’s government, by vote or by terrorism.
As to Breivik’s vision, while he said that he “gave up on democracy”, he has not given up on democracy in the way I have given up on democracy. He meant that he had given up on being able to solve what he sees as the immediate problems through Norway’s existing democratic processes. He doesn’t, as I do, see democracy as the problem in itself, the thing that must be got rid of. Like so many others, he has fallen into the trap of believing that democracy can be “fixed”.
But my real problem with him goes further than that. He wants to build an organisation —- the PCCTS —- to fight for power on behalf of European culture. I think that cannot work. It is the fight for power itself that is the root of the problem, and by joining it you are chasing the enemy into the abyss. That is as true of fighting with carbombs and shooting sprees as it is of fighting with demonstrations and election campaigns. By being an organisation that fights for power, you become a certain kind of organisation —- you succumb to the vicious logic of propaganda and coalition-building. You also, if you succeed, come to compromise with the system and in return become implicated in its inevitable failure. No good can come of it.
What on earth can we do, if we cannot fight for power? I do like to be original, but all of this is pure Moldbug. It is the Steel Rule. We become worthy of power, and wait for it to be given to us. Or we raise children and grandchildren who will be worthy of power, and wait for it to be given to them. This is not a short-term project, but neither is Anders “2083” Breivik’s. It’s a long shot, but so is his and as Moldbug wrote, if we fail, we have done no harm, which cannot be said of a terrorist campaign.
When a system collapses, power is given away. Everyone who is fighting for power with any success is already part of the current system. When the system fails, power will be given to someone else.
Looking at it another way, there are two narratives describing what has happened to European civilisation. One is that there is a somewhat conscious movement, which Moldbug first dubbed “Crypto-Calvinism”, then “Ultra-Calvinism”, and finally “Universalism”, which has continuously dominated English-speaking society for centuries, and utterly conquered Europe in 1945, and which has some ideological principles that have been consistent throughout (such as that humans are all fundamentally the same), and others that have become ever more extreme (such as Limited Monarchy to Constitutional Monarchy to Republic to Democracy to Universal Suffrage). The elite holding these beliefs have steadily pulled the resisting masses behind them.
The other narrative, also due to Moldbug, is the cold mechanical one. Since the end of divine-right Monarchy, the logic of the struggle for power pushes an ever-wider splintering of power, as people and groups seize what fragments of influence they can, and hold on to them. Responsible decision-makers are replaced by committees, working groups become institutions and own little bits of power, and all this fragmented power is directed by factions in the unending struggle, not for any external public or even private benefit.
Breivik describes the first narrative, though he doesn’t recognise how far back the universalists go. And the narrative is real: the infamous former Labour speechwriter who said that the British government of which he was a part deliberately and surreptitiously multiplied immigration “to rub the Right’s nose in diversity” was making as blatant a declaration of culture war as it is possible to imagine.
But the second narrative is real too, and that is what Breivik does not understand. That is why he thinks that universalism can be defeated by shooting a sufficient number of universalists in the head. But universalism hasn’t won for all these years because of divine providence, or by Dawkins’ “mysterious movement of the zeitgeist”, but because the logic of competing for power favours it over reactionaries.
Breivik is obviously sane*, and obviously right that a Norwegian state that was sane and honest would execute him without blinking. The Norwegian state is not sane or honest. It is incapable of sustaining or defending itself in the very long term. That is a fact to be deplored, not, as Breivik sees it, one to be taken advantage of. When the collapse comes, the duty of replacing the old order will fall not to those who accelerated its demise, but to those who expected and explained it without accepting any responsibility for it.
* What about the probably-fictional organisation of which he claims to be a member? I am not sure whether it exists, but I am sure Breivik knows. If it doesn’t, then it is not a delusion, rather it is a deliberate lie for the sake of propaganda: it is easier to recruit followers to an already-established organisation than to one which is yet to practically exist.
In fact, yesterday’s principles apply very easily. The rule of law is a good thing, but it is an instrumental good, not a transcendental imperative. Every state will defend itself from enemies, and if that applies to the Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, it applies also to the United States of America. And if the line beyond which the government needs to abandon the rule of law and impose order winds through Stokes Croft, then there is no doubt which side of it Bin Laden was on.
As it happens, I do not advocate an immediate Jacobite rising to replace the rotten Whig parliament and restore God’s anointed. But if I did, David Cameron would be quite justified in launching a cruise missile at my house.
Update: In the comments, newt0311 suggests “All sovereign entities are above the law”. Above, yes, but I would like to see the sovereign choose to act according to law. That’s closer to law in the scientific sense than the political sense, in that the essence is that society works better if the state’s actions can be predicted, rather than the sovereign being answerable to some oxymoronic super-sovereign body.
But in comparison to keeping order on the streets, that’s a luxury, as I described here in 2009.
Briefly reposting a piece of mine from 2005, which was itself a repost from 2003.
At the end of the 1991 Gulf war there was an argument. Some people wanted to remove Saddam Hussein’s government in Iraq. Others opposed this either because they felt it would have bad effects on the region as a whole, or more simply because it would cause unnecessary bloodshed. It was decided, in my view rightly, to end the war with the restoration of Kuwait.
Many who opposed an invasion of Iraq nevertheless hoped that Saddam Hussein would be overthrown. Part of the Iraqi population was already in revolt, and it seemed an easy and harmless thing to help things along a bit. The Iraqi security forces could be prevented from wiping out the rebellion by establishing safe areas and “No-fly zones”, which could be justified on humanitarian grounds in any event.
Unfortunately the idea, approved by the UN Security Council, was not thought through. Carried away by the prospect of getting Saddam Hussein overthrown “for free”, the long-term situation in the case that the rebellion was unsuccessful was ignored. The United Nations, a body whose purpose is peace, and empowered to sanction war only to prevent wider war, was in fact ordering a perpetual war. It is an act of war to send armed forces into another country to protect a rebel army. The U.S.A. and U.K. have, with U.N. backing, been waging war against Iraq every day for over a decade. This situation should never have been created. Once it was decided in 1991 to allow the Iraqi regime to stay in power, then for consistency’s sake Iraq should have been accorded the full sovereign rights of any other country, including the right to use force against “traitors” in its territory.
If I had made this argument at the time (which I didn’t), I am sure I would have found little agreement. I would have been told that I was putting inappropriate and outdated principles ahead of the lives of innocent people. It is only with hindsight that we can see what has come of the denial of the basic principle of Iraq’s sovereignty. The twelve year war against Iraq, with its blockades (“sanctions”), its bombings and its imminent bitter end has claimed more innocent lives than either of the two logical alternatives in 1991 would have done, even without taking into account that it was the immediate provocation for the worst terrorist massacre in history.
At its root is arrogance. GWB has been widely accused of arrogance in recent weeks, but nothing has matched the arrogance of his father and his UN supporters in believing that they could expect peace and cooperation from a foreign government while openly attempting to overthrow it in defiance of its traditional sovereign rights. GWB has the humility to recognise that to interfere in Iraq to the extent of inspecting its chemical factories and limiting the actions its security forces, he must fight a war, take the responsibility and take the consequences. The UN Security Council still has the arrogance to believe it can achieve the same ends without bloodshed.
Apparently the pirates who captured the Maersk Alabama were involved in negotiations on board a US warship when their hostage was rescued.
Normally I would be concerned by this – it is important to keep faith, even with people who don’t deserve it, so as to maintain a reputation in future.
But here, I can’t see a problem. The principled position would be to refuse to negotiate with pirates at all. That is difficult in practice, because of the human element, but if this means that it will be harder for pirates to negotiate in future, that just discourages piracy – negotiating the ransom is an essential part of the process for them.
If pirates know that the authorities will negotiate with them (even though they really shouldn’t), but will double-cross them at the first opportunity, that is more of a problem for the pirates than for the authorities.
Don’t look at the cameras! Anyone who looks at the cameras is a terrorist! If you see anyone looking at the cameras, call the police!
The cameras are for your protection: that’s all you need to know. And anything you don’t need to know, you’re not allowed to know. Only terrorists care whether they’re on camera or not.
This is a public service announcement from Anomaly UK.
Seriously, I find this much more disturbing than the presence of the CCTV in the first place.
At the time of the ludicrously inept propane-bomb attacks in London and Glasgow last summer, my biggest worry was that apparently those involved in the attacks were practising medicine. I would always hope to be treated by doctors with better knowledge of basic science than was demonstrated by those terrorists.
It is now emerging that one of the doctors, at least, was just the brother of the Glasgow suicide arsonist, who may or may not have been aware of the direction of his brother’s activities, but who is not accused of being active in planning them. That’s good news; there’s every chance that the defendant, Sabeel Ahmed, may be a competent doctor.
The idiot arsonist himself was no doctor, but, apparently, a “climate change expert”.
I would love to claim that climate alarmists generally are ignorant of chemistry and physics, but that is clearly not the case. I might with slightly more justification claim that there is a common tendency involved, which is to jump to worst-case conclusions. It is actually possible for a propane/air mixture to explode very destructively, it’s just very very unlikely without a very sophisticated process of using the right proportions and mixing very well. It is possible that the feedback effect of the climate system to CO2 forcing could be positive rather than negative, but that likewise is very unlikely. The alarmist case is based on climate models that appear to show that the feedback is indeed positive.
As an argument, that’s still a bit of a stretch; it’s worth thinking about it but I wouldn’t expect it to change anyone’s mind. The actual irony of this case is that Ahmed S. was pursuing an activity — climate alarmism — which has a serious chance of weakening or destabilising western civilisation. Even competent terrorism is less of a threat than climate alarmism. To give up green activism in favour of incompetent terrorism is, for an opponent of Western domination an own goal of Gary Sprake proportions.
In a recent piece I attacked the “attempt to ban from the internet information easily found in chemistry and history textbooks”.
The UK government has taken on board this inconsistency, and is now attempting to ban a “terrorist suspect” (who has not been charged with any crime) from taking AS-level science courses. (Nature)
So that’s alright then.
OK, so it’s true that 50,000 people a year are studying AS-level chemistry, but this move by the government gives me confidence that no bad person will ever find out the super-secret techniques.
As I said in my earlier piece:
.. recipes for explosives first appeared in this country 750 years ago. High explosives have been manufactured since the 1860s. Anarchists all over Europe were successfully constructing bombs around 1900. This genie isn’t going back in the bottle.
The immediate context was the conviction of Ahmed Patel for the ludicrous crime of “possession of information likely to be of use to terrorists”. But also in my mind was the equally asinine initiative of the European Commission to outlaw publication of explosives-making instructions on the internet, which I somehow forgot to mention.
It’s easy to assume that this attempt to ban from the internet information easily found in chemistry and history textbooks is another “myth” made up to discredit the EU and spread around by those who are willing to believe anything about the EU that makes it appear stupid. But then, so much of what the EU does looks like that.
European Commissioner responsible for Justice, Freedom and Security
“EU counter-terrorism strategy”
Strasbourg, 5 September 2007
…The benefits of e-learning have also not escaped the attention of terrorists – you can find detailed instructions on all kinds of terrorist tactics, including the production of explosives, on the internet. The proposal I mentioned just now will aim at ensuring that these forms of behaviour will be made punishable across the EU.
Sentencing Patel, Judge Rook said that the jury had cleared the teenager on the more serious charge – but that he had “no reasonable excuse” for possessing documents that were “obviously likely to be useful to a terrorist”.
If being 17 isn’t a reasonable excuse for possessing explosives manuals, then the terrorists have won.
The earlier report which notoriously included “The Anarchist’s Cookbook” as the “material likely to be of use to a terrorist”, said there were two teenagers remanded to appear today. Perhaps more ordered facts will emerge if this second trial is concluded.
This being 2007, Patel or the mysterious friend of his father probably obtained the Anarchist’s Cookbook from this sinister internet thing I keep hearing about. Back when I was a teenager, I had to actually buy it with money from Waterstones (or Dillons, I can’t remember) in Charing Cross Road. Among the instructions for getting high on bananas and the photographs of 50-year-old rifles are indeed bomb-making instructions, badly drawn and widely reputed to be suicidally inaccurate.
Now of course the inaccuracy isn’t really the point. There is an obvious flaw in the idea of banning only high-quality terrorist literature. However, recipes for explosives first appeared in this country 750 years ago. High explosives have been manufactured since the 1860s. Anarchists all over Europe were successfully constructing bombs around 1900. This genie isn’t going back in the bottle.
One might object, that if the necessary knowledge is so widely available that there is not point restricting it, how is it that actual terrorists are so incapable of actually making working explosives?
Firstly, I think there is a strong correlation between wanting to advance the cause of radical Islam in the UK by violence, and being mind-bogglingly stupid. This is not a global phenomenon. In some parts of the world, Islamism is a serious political movement, capable of attracting intelligent and practical activists. Here, it is an exclusive club of morons that makes Fathers 4 Justice look like a serious political force.
Secondly in terror alarmism, the question of quantity or scale tends to be ignored. To shoot a lot of people, you need a lot of bullets, that weigh a lot, and take a lot of carting around. To blow up a lot of people, you need a lot of explosive, which requires a lot of raw materials, which are not easy to gather. To use chemical weapons effectively, you need tons of the stuff, which is beyond the capability of any conceivable home-grown terrorist organisation.
There are many obstacles to the would-be terrorist. The idea that all they need is “the secret” is Hollywood thinking. There is no secret, there’s just a lot of hard work and risk.
But back to young Abdul. I don’t directly think it is a particularly bad thing that he is in prison. But I would happily let him go in exchange for getting rid of the horrific 1980s law under which he was convicted. “Information likely to be of use to terrorists?”. How about a road atlas? It’s carte blanche for the state to lock up anyone they think is up to no good. In this case they may be right, but if that’s a justification then we should just let them lock up whoever they want. I prefer the rule of law, and law should draw a line between the guilty and the innocent, and this law plainly fails to do anything of the sort.