Click images for more details



Recent comments
Recent posts
Currently discussing

A few sites I've stumbled across recently....

Powered by Squarespace
« Sticking one's neck out | Main | Quote of the day, El Nino edition »

The inner Duce

My review of Liberal Fascism the other day provoked a very long comments thread and lots of strong views. I was therefore interested to see this article by Joel Kotkin - a Democrat, albeit a conservative one.

Today climate change has become the killer app for expanding state control, for example, helping Jerry Brown find his inner Duce. But the authoritarian urge is hardly limited to climate-related issues. It can be seen on college campuses, where uniformity of belief is increasingly mandated. In Europe, the other democratic bastion, the continental bureaucracy now controls ever more of daily life on the continent. You don’t want thousands of Syrian refugees in your town, but the EU knows better. You will take them and like it, or be labeled a racist.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

Reader Comments (111)

I already know I'm a racist, I was informed by a schoolteacher (friend of a friend) at a party when I mentioned that I don't like RAP music.

Jan 5, 2016 at 12:13 PM | Unregistered Commenterjaffa

The authoritarians are closing in on smokers and drinkers and anyone who wants to eat anything that a shonky scientific study has declared might be bad for you. It is for your own good after all.

Jan 5, 2016 at 12:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterStonyground

"You don’t want thousands of Syrian refugees in your town, but the EU knows better."
What a racist statement !
Refugees are not a problem - look at the riots in Cologne for example. The BBC is quite clear that only eight of the suspects were asylum seekers. You'd have to be a swivel-eyed, Breitbart reading, UKIP loon to think otherwise.

Jan 5, 2016 at 12:38 PM | Unregistered Commentergareth

Mussolini did get the Italian trains to run on time. A shame that so many died in the process of his other short term vanity projects.

Global Warmists are celebrating the non binding ideas agreed in Paris, to reduce Carbon Dioxide emissions, without any evidence to prove any benefit will occur, meanwhile many people continue to die, every day, for lack of electricity from fossil fuels, that has been denied to them by climate experts.

Irrespective of political labelling, deranged psychopaths, regarding every death they cause as proof they are right, does seem fair.

Jan 5, 2016 at 12:43 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

One aspect of Mussolini's rule was the importance of providing 'news' favourable to the regime. As an ex-journalist/publisher Mussolini was drawn to this aspect. It is an odd factor that dictatorial regimes are ofter more concerned about public opinion than 'democratic' ones. The first fears an up-rising whereas the second only get worried as an election gets closer. Anybody noticed an increasing tendency to worry about the polls (as in numbers, biasing the questions etc.)?

Jan 5, 2016 at 12:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterGraeme No.3

It's the food/drink police! They've done tobacco. Then salt. Now it's sugar. They're doing alcohol. Fat is in the process. My eldest brother once had a girlfriend who was a health freak (sorry enthusiast). Everytime I'd do a fry-up (once in a blue-moon) she proceed to sit at the table & inform me as to how much saturated fat wast in the bacon & sausage!

Jan 5, 2016 at 12:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan the Brit

But, noone must ever use "denier". Right?

Jan 5, 2016 at 12:54 PM | Unregistered Commenter...and Then There's Physics

In his defence, Il Duce did actually make everybody in Italy learn to speak Italian.

Jan 5, 2016 at 1:03 PM | Unregistered Commenterottokring

and Then There's Physics,

But, noone must ever use "denier". Right?

Not exactly sure of sure of your point, but if you're referring to comparing Jerry Brown to Il Duce (Mussolini), it wasn't made here. The comparison was made by Joel Kotkin, who, to the best of my knowledge, is a liberal.

Jan 5, 2016 at 1:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhil R

and noone of us must ever use spellchecker Right ?

Jan 5, 2016 at 1:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamspid

aTTP, whether people choose to Deny the Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age is up to them, but imposing a belief system on others, based on false faith, is a crime against humanity, as it results in multiple deaths.


Jan 5, 2016 at 1:19 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

"Refugees are not a problem"

The above might be more ignorant than stupid. Refugees are a problem. That's why people cart them across the globe to find homes for them.


Jan 5, 2016 at 1:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterBad Andrew

It's good to see aTTP back on these pages. Guess that he's back to paid employment after the festive break.

Jan 5, 2016 at 1:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoyFOMR

I'm sorry, gareth. Were you being sarcastic?


Jan 5, 2016 at 1:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterBad Andrew

aTTP. no, you should carry on calling people "denier" if it's what you want to do, but the least you could do is make sense. For instance "holocaust denier" means you deny the holocaust, which was an event.

"Climate denier". "climate change denier", "climate science denier" and "science denier" examples people trying to win a political argument by smearing their opponents with the word "denier". Frankly, I don't care what names I'm called , so go ahead and use it, but at the same time remember the disrespect your paying to those who went through the holocaust, their descendents and the millions who never returned in seeing the word "denier" debased by a bunch of wannabes, buffoons, losers and social misfits.

Jan 5, 2016 at 1:40 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo


Joel's book on what he calls "the Clerisy" is well worth the £7.22.

Kotkin's analysis of a self-interested bourgeoisie ("the 15 per cent") is very useful for understanding UK and European policy across a wide range of areas: public health, urban planning, gender, the environment. Personally I've found it useful because the mania for "digital" initiatives is another instance (examples here), and I've interviewed Joel.

It shouldn't shock any well read humanities graduate coming from the Left. The only puzzle is why his analysis gets a better hearing in the US, and is so rarely heard on the BBC, where it's Piketty all the way. My conclusion is that in addition to the characteristics Kotkin ascribes to the Clerisy (such as its bossiness, and its cynical use of the state to advance its interests), this is a class that is completely incapable of self-reflection. This may be the first elite in history to be unable to look itself in the mirror.

Jan 5, 2016 at 1:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterAndrew Orlowski

"You don’t want thousands of Syrian refugees in your town, but the EU knows better."
What a racist statement !
Refugees are not a problem - look at the riots in Cologne for example. The BBC is quite clear that only eight of the suspects were asylum seekers. You'd have to be a swivel-eyed, Breitbart reading, UKIP loon to think otherwise.

Jan 5, 2016 at 12:38 PM | gareth

Jan 5, 2016 at 2:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Poynton

Thanks Andrew Orlowski. Kotkin is obviously more interesting than this short essay reveals. If the current élite is incapable of self-reflection, it seems to be because they simply ignore any of its own members (such as Kotkin) who do have that quality.

Whereas Goldberg's thesis was absurdly over the top, Kotkin's seems rather mild. That Eurocrats and some Obama fans are bossy control freaks is hardly news.

If ever climate scepticism were to become acceptable in polite society and it became possible to interview – say - Andrew Montford on the BBC, then all the energies of the Monbiots and the Bob Wards of this world will be expended combing these threads in order to demonstrate that climate sceptics are a bunch of rightwing bigots. Let's try and disappoint them, shall we?

Jan 5, 2016 at 2:28 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Golf Charlie: "Mussolini did get the Italian trains to run on time." Maybe so. I travel a lot in Italy by train and find the trains are generally punctual, although rather infrequent on branch lines in more remote areas such as Sicily.

Jan 5, 2016 at 2:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterColdish

I'm happy to oblige, geoffchambers.

Upthread, Gareth has already shown that people who disagree with Andrew Montford are freely allowed to do so here at Bishop Hill, within reason. Certainly with more latitude than commenters such as aTTP allow at their own blogs, or at The Guardian. I also know that if I wanted to I could go over to Breitbart and say pretty much anything I liked without fear of unreasonable censorship, whether my eyes swivel or not.

While Gareth abuses what he appears to think is the standard Bishop Hill reader, he fails to realise that quite a few regulars here come from the political left-of-centre. Worse still, the foolish espousal of global warming by so many on the political left has probably driven this particular voter towards the right.

That really ought to worry the BBC, and the Bob Wards and Roger Harrabins of this world because, although generally not a strongly 'political' person, I am probably what could be described as a "swing voter".

Jan 5, 2016 at 3:06 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

I took Gardth's post as ironic.

Jan 5, 2016 at 3:20 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

I'd happily have the refugees if Syria would take an equal number of our loony lefties, neo-luddites and wingnut chicken hawks.

Jan 5, 2016 at 3:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

My wife noted that a retiring broadcaster here in Ottawa (Canada) that she assumed to be on the right of poltiics (because of his openly adversarial stance towards progressive politics – one of his books is called, “How the granola-crunching, tree-hugging, thug huggers are wrecking our country”) turns out to have been a Liberal (= Labour in Canada) candidate and long-time party organiser. Not all on the left can be termed "looney lefties", but I fear that it is getting harder and harder for less looney voices to be heard.

Jan 5, 2016 at 3:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob

@michael hart: The BBC, & the Bob Wards & the Roger Harrabins et al, are arrogant & believe that everyone else is too stupid to see through their arguments! They are also rather stupid themselves because they keep spouting pretty much the same old nonsense in the Lenin-like belief that if they repeat it often enough "it becomes the truth!"

Jan 5, 2016 at 4:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan the Brit

Yes, ironic.
I was (attempting to) indicate how anything that does not align with The Narrative tends to get reported by the correct thinking elite. I've heard that George Orwell based Minitrue on the BBC.
It looks like the Beeb has now updated the article to include the words "The men were of Arab or North African appearance". I guess they had to do that seeing as this is now getting widely known and they probably don't want to appear *too* blatantly biased (although they don't seem to worry about this where "Climate Change" is concerned)

Jan 5, 2016 at 4:25 PM | Unregistered Commentergareth

"This includes a drive to impose energy austerity on an already fading middle class, limiting mundane pleasures like cheap air travel, cars, freeways, suburbs, and single-family housing."

The author clearly does not understand how capitalistic costs force people to travel ever further.
I have some knowledge of how the tourist market has changed over the years in SW Ireland.
Local resident tourists cannot afford local consumption , they typically fly to Spain or further.
The tourists in Ireland today typically fly in from the States or the UK and drive a rental car up the west coast.
(Any remaining Irish tourists avoid the pub because they cannot afford to pay the usury.)
They do not stop and chill out and indeed most cannot afford to stop.
The pubs remain empty .
Its a classic physical economic result of debt dynamics / usury.

Once usury is abolished there is very little need for state control.
In most respects practices will revert to feudal arrangements.
The driving force toward centralization is unpayable exponential debt.
This dynamic has been with us for 500 years now.
It is extremely obvious.

Jan 5, 2016 at 5:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork

Note the widening net gap between Irish tourist outflows and British and American tourist inflows.
A classic symptom of a debt crisis in the jet age.

The data is striking in its clarity .

Jan 5, 2016 at 5:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork

Are there any countries that will accept as political refugees, people fleeing climate science? It does manifest itself as an evil doctrine, that rewards the self appointed few, oppresses everyone else, condemning the poorest and most needy to death.

How many University Faculties that pride themselves on Lecturing and Indoctrinating gullible and vulnerable young adults in the moral superiority of climate science, actually use no fossil fuelled electricity? Is it less than 97%? Or less than 3%? Or zero?

Jan 5, 2016 at 5:21 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

1. We like to vote for people who are more ideologically driven than ourselves, i.e. Our betters,
2. Only more ideologically driven people than ourselves seek political office.
3. In addition to the more fundamentally ideologically driven, people who seek political office take on ideologically driven positions as the price of holding political office.

Trying to account for why the elected differ ideologically from the electorate, I offer the above three possibilities. While all may account for the current situation, only the third contains the potential to reverse the top-down, "expert"-determined course. And that potential relies on the proportion of opportunists, weak-kneed and pragmatists to be in the majority AND open to reasoning from outside the political circle.

Not a good situation.

My life has informed me that all social arrangements accelerate in their nature until a crisis point is reached. The crisis point is where the trend is overwhelming in some fashion, and the trend breaks down. Individuals stop behaving because the benefits no longer equal the cost or it is simply impossible to continue. Once a crisis is upon the group, a new position or trend is assumed. Which then accelerates in its own time.

The Principle of Acceleration works as well for shortening skirts in the fashion world as for the sensitizing of our political life with correctness. In Canada, where I live, we have entered a new phase where we have doubled down on our apologizing for prior bad behaviour to our First Nations people with proposals to spend more money, give more land back, increase educational opportunities and so on to bring their lives into the equal 21st century - by doing more of what we have always done, and without saying the First Nations people and culture have any responsibility. We have also elected a strict socialist, non-fossil fuel political party to run a province (Alberta) that is dependent on fossil fuel business, and which sends 'excess' tax dollar to less endowed provinces as Transfer Payments. I think we Canadians are at our crisis point.

A cynical person might say that global political parties understand this Principle, that they are allowing the cycle to run to its max position. That the weak COP21 agreement will do that for climate change. That the migrant problem in Europe is being promoted by some, including the US, to turn natural anger against the mid-East States and lead to more, not less, interference. Or an embargo on help - both can work to the advantage of the Western world. That the economic collapses since 2008 are the signs the crisis point has been reached there, too. As for liberalism reaching its zenith ...

I'd argue that it is not liberalism per se that is the problem, but the non-cooperative, zero-sum game that is being played in global politics that is the problem. The political institutions are not working well. They gridlock. The US, Canada, the U.K., Australia - they aren't providing consistent and useful service. "Executive privilege", however you define it, is what makes programs happen all over the world. Because - like the Lebanese parliament that can't even get the garbage taken off of Beruit's streets - working with others outside the tribe is equated with betraying the tribe. Those at the top could be right-wing (as in Lebanon or Russia). History has brought the West liberalism or the leftist views to this day, but that is just timing. Dysfunction is what is key. Our checks and balances have become checks without balances.

If I am right, the system will not change from within gradually, but through a breaking point. The EU Parliament will dissolve and be replaced with standard inter-national policies designed to benefit each country as far as each can negotiate. The legal challenges to the US Federal government overreaches will succeed and be followed by rollbacks with the US States. Only an actual, in-progress catastrophe could bring about change without serious disruption (climate change not being one of them). A swing to the right will not change the problems we face if the structural breakdown isn't fixed. Changing the chairman's hat doesn't change the result if the problem is the committee.

Jan 5, 2016 at 5:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterDoug Procttor

Fair dinks, Gareth.

Jan 5, 2016 at 5:52 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

"The data is striking in its clarity "

Unlike your posts. Do you talk like you write? If so, conversations must be a nightmare!

Jan 5, 2016 at 6:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterDonk of ponk

"It is extremely obvious."

Except that you've tried telling us 6,236,986,908 times, and it STILL makes no sense! Not that obvious, then.

Jan 5, 2016 at 6:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterDonk of ponk

michael hart - cheers !

I read the following on Raedwald blog, talking about Austria:

"My tame MP is an intelligent man, a Viennese ex-police inspector. Migrants are the biggest issue everywhere, and he is depressed and pessimistic about the outcomes. The danger, he says, is not from the existing far right but from the ordinary middle classes; each day it becomes acceptable to be a little more racist, a little more islamophobic, a little more xenophobic, and his entire voter cohort is nudging inch by inch away from his party. It's not, he explains, that the middle classes don't already hold these views, but until now it has not been socially acceptable to voice them. Once these things can be said, openly, then there will be a change at the ballot box."

What I fear is that the "Liberal Fascists" exclude any reasonable, fair and "liberal" centre position. They will defend the "correct thinking" position until it finally becomes impossible for it to hold, and it will then fall to something that truly is fascist. Democratic and free societies are I think quite rare and not the norm in human history - so we should be careful how we treat them. We are only one Enabling Act away from having those other trains run on time...

Jan 5, 2016 at 6:57 PM | Unregistered Commentergareth

In a debt money system the money supply must rise.

If it does not your production cannot be consumed.
In a rational peasant economy the function of production is consumption.

In today's economy this production must be exported (rather then locally consumed)to gain currency ( Tourism is a Export)

The amount of real resources required to engage in this long distance is very very large.
Resource expenditure is this sector means less and less basic consumption of goods.(rationing)
This is why localism has been destroyed.
It's a very long term process which began when feudalism ended in Europe.

Why can you not get this very very simple social and economic reality?
Are you missing some parts?

Jan 5, 2016 at 7:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork

'...I don't like RAP music." --jaffa

"Rap music" is an oxymoron, like "chocolate substitute."

Jan 5, 2016 at 7:29 PM | Unregistered Commenterjorgekafkazar


Andrew Cummins was surely right—Islamophobia is surely "a word created by fascists, and used by cowards, to manipulate morons."

However, if there really, genuinely, is someone out there who suffers a physiological fear response to Islam-related cues, then help is at hand, says Sheikh Daral Harb.

Bothered by palpitations, sweaty palms and dry mouth every time a gaggle of burka-clad lovelies swans by at the shopping mall?

The Sheikh prescribes a trick from public speaking: mentally undress your tormentors!

If you have trouble imagining them naked, that's OK—take baby steps.

Picture them in niqabs. Later, visualize chadors. Then strip them down to al-Amiras. In no time you'll be able to "see" them in hijabs. Finally, rip that head covering off. By the time you've got them down to slutty Western-style clothes in your mind's eye, you'll find your symptoms reduced markedly.

If you can go further, it's a bonus!

A great trick from the world of science, called induced autonomic competition, makes use of the principle that opposite emotional axes (like anger and fear) are physiologically incompatible. So, next time you feel an overwhelming panic and want nothing more than to run as fast as you can from a Muslim on the street, focus on something that really ticks you off. Like September 11.

It's remarkable how fast symptoms of phobia clear up once you get mad at someone!

Oh, there are others, says Sheikh Harb.

Immersion therapy (join the Army), cognitive behavioral therapy (read Winston Churchill on how Muslims couldn't organize a chook raffle), and many more.

Jan 5, 2016 at 7:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrad Keyes

@jaffa, Jan 5, 2016 at 12:13 PM

I already know I'm a racist, I was informed by a schoolteacher (friend of a friend) at a party when I mentioned that I don't like RAP music.

I must hold my hands up then and admit I too am a racist as I don't like Rap or Hip-Hop (they are childish and aggressive), Soul & Blues (both miserable). I prefer music which is pleasant and relaxing.

@Andrew Orlowski, Jan 5, 2016 at 1:46 PM

Hi Andrew,

Good to see you posting here. Will you be contributing some articles too?

I'm sure readers here would appreciate and enjoy regular articles from you, Lewis and Tim.

Site could be rebranded as The Bishop Hill Register ;)



Jan 5, 2016 at 7:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterPcar


I suspect that the good Bish would like to keep his own blog...

... but I'd be up for a fork of El Reg, minus the new and dismal clones :-)

Jan 5, 2016 at 8:09 PM | Unregistered Commentergareth

A climate denier denies that an average of weather exists. A family denier denies that a family with 2.6 children exists.

Jan 5, 2016 at 8:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterCurious George

This thread recalled the themes so lucidly examined in that series of superb essays by John Brignell on the Numberwatch site (see this blog sidebar - click 'index' at the top left corner of his highly minimalistic homepage!), that I went back to re-read some of them.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that the blog has new commentary so fresh as to even carry todays date, in a section called January 2016 - worth a viewing.

Jan 5, 2016 at 9:21 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

@ Geoff -

Advocating noisily for radical climate mitigation policies seems to me to be now to be an obsession of the fringe, like veganism. It will never go away, but it never had a great deal of popular support anyway, and now it has even less. In any case, wasn't an issue largely confined to Anglophone countries?

I don’t think Bob Ward or Roger Harrabin need to disappear for climate moderates to “win”, they already have. People with no axe to grind already twigged that "climate change" had the look n’feel of an apocalyptic cult. Roger acknowledges as much in his Facebook post. Which, like all of Roger’s agonising about communicating climate issues, is narrowcasting to a tiny elite, the very opposite of broadcasting.

Even the FT has moved on to new pastures, like trying to abolish cash, or tipping waiters in restaurants.

(Seriously. Servants using the front entrance will be next on the list).


Unlike Lewis and Tim, I’m still at The Register full time, so I’m kept well busy. But thanks :)

Jan 5, 2016 at 10:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterAndrew Orlowski

Migrants crisis? Engineered.

Jan 5, 2016 at 10:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterTomRude

The simplicity of Kotkin's expository rant is admirable.

Jan 5, 2016 at 10:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterAila

Aila, yes indeed. His iambic pentameter still requires some improvement, but his juxtaposition of binary colours is panoramic.

Jan 6, 2016 at 12:42 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Jeff brown like all Americans is the product of the first and second capitalist revolutions.

As a true believer he fails to understand the nature of his religion.
Americans are puritans.
They are more puritan then your average european as many of the most extreme were expelled to set up the colonies.
We are now living through what is perhaps the most intense period of capitalistic flux since the 1500 and 1600s

He seeks to maintain the middle to high class wage slave status yet fails to understand that labour holds little value now.
This is a illogical position if understood.

The capital structure may continue to employ people to but only at subsistence levels.
The only hope for most is to break past the propaganda of these past 500 years and seek to become a peasant again.
To claim a equity stake in the commons.
Unless this happens.........

Jan 6, 2016 at 12:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork

What exactly is the migration Crisis?

It is the outsourcing of reproduction.

In the jet age you either bomb and / or fly them in to the plantation.

Just as the capitalist system destroyed the old feudal arrangements now the capitalist oligarchy has no more time for their interim treaty of Westphalia world of national capitalistic monopolies.

Now there is only one market state.
National laws now hold no meaning in a world without borders.

Jan 6, 2016 at 12:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork

Joel Kotkin is a classically confused Democrat. He knows that the Democrats, for whom he votes and whom he may even support financially, are actually corrupt, criminal and catastrophic, but he still votes for them.

His "The New Class Conflict" made a reasonable amount of sense, until Kotkin plastered his own interpretation over the inconvenient facts.

Jan 6, 2016 at 2:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterOwen Morgan

@michael hart
My plea to stay sensible wasn't addressed to anyone here, but to some on the previous Goldberg thread and on many other threads at BH. Like you, I find myself drifting rightwards, or at least wondering what's the point of describing myself as a lefty when I find the company here so much more congenial. Then just as I'm about to change sides someone describes me as leftist scum and I stay where I am.

What I think the Bish is looking for on these threads is a decent sociological analysis. What we're getting is the first fumbling efforts at taxonomy when we need a theory of evolution, and that won't be along for decades.

@Andrew Orlowski
Your analysis feels right: yes, climate activism is a fringe obsession like veganism, normal people realise it's a cult etc. But Montford is banned from the BBC, and there's no sign that that will change. Christianity was a fringe cult when Constantine made it the official religion of the Roman Empire. The next five or six centuries weren't so good for European civilisation, though both Rome and Christianity survived.

Jan 6, 2016 at 6:58 AM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers


Now average the lot to arrive at Curious George's take on The Dork of Cork.

Enlightening stuff.

Jan 6, 2016 at 7:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterAila

Claims to the moral high ground end in ridicule.


Jan 6, 2016 at 7:50 AM | Unregistered Commenterssat

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>