February 26, 2017
Like any law, however, age of consent laws are materialised in police action. What effect they really have depends in part on how police choose to enforce them. That in turn depends on the political and moral culture that police officers partake of. The very fact that there are children being arrested and cautioned for having sex, or being charged on child pornography offences merely for sending one another semi-naked photographs, or sexts, indicates what some of that culture is like. The fact that people are actually reporting children to police, and that police are keeping intelligence databases on children who sext, and threatening them with the sex offenders register, is another indication.All of this is very good, not least because Mr Seymour spends as little time as humanly possible on the circumstances that provoked the piece: the quite repugnant weaponisation of accusations of sexcrime engaged in by partisan hacks of the "left" gloating at the doing down of a fellow who thoroughly deserved to be done down almost entirely for other reasons than those which brought his downfall. Instead, Mr Seymour carefully and sensibly discusses matters of considerably greater importance, dealing with the incitement with all due brevity:
This is where the ideological presumption of childhood innocence – a presumption which is all the more effective since everyone knows it is bullshit – feeds into the institutions of the state, and is embodied in violence. And it is violence directed, not mainly against ‘paedophiles’, but against children who are experimenting with their sexuality, as they always will. The potential problems with sexting – abuse, online humiliation, shaming, bullying – are cited as reasons to surveille and punish sexting among children. When we talk about childhood sexuality, we only tend to talk about the problems and dangers, in a manner that implies that the chimera of a danger-free sexuality could be a reality. We don’t talk about how exciting it is for them to discover their own sexuality because, when it comes to childhood sexuality, we want to know nothing about it. We want innocence: ours, as the precondition for theirs; or theirs, as the precondition for ours.
If the discussion about the age of consent is had on the terms set by Yiannopoulous, it won’t be anything to do with preventing child sexual abuse. It will be a mirror of alt-right-style snark predicated on the intrinsic bad faith of any such discussion, hinting that anyone who thinks this is a debate worth having must be either a paedophile or an apologist. It will be people strutting about and attempting to intimidate others into not saying things they can’t bear to hear. And indeed, that is exactly what is happening, on the social media Left.
February 24, 2017
[Feinberg and Willer's] suggestions rest on a vulgarized version of the New York University scholar Jonathan Haidt’s “moral foundations theory,” in which certain values — care and fairness for those on the left; loyalty, authority and purity for the right — are held to be intrinsic and foundational. Some people are just predisposed to value loyalty and purity over fairness, and eventually grow into reactionary blowhards; we don’t know why, it just happens. As any good historical materialist knows, this is not the case. For someone to hold “respect for authority” in great esteem, there must first be an authority to respect. Before you can value fairness, there must be scarcity, unequal distribution and all the conditions that make unfairness possible. These values are the epiphenomena of a particular form of society. Conservative values don’t just emerge spontaneously from the individual; they’re an ideological support structure that props up theft and bloodshed and avarice. ...
In the United Kingdom, the Labour Party has been playing Feinberg’s and Willer’s game for decades now. Faced with the first sparks of a rising racist nativism, the ostensible party of the left adopted a policy of appeasement, trying to conjure up the failing spectre of “progressive patriotism,” abandoning its tatty, shop-worn emphasis on solidarity and socialism for a lot of gruff nonsense about British values. It didn’t work. Instead, the sudden omnipresence of these ideas just helped the reactionary right grow even stronger, until it consumed the entire country.
February 15, 2017
The parallel between the Nazi “revolution” in the 1930s and the neoliberal “revolution” in the 1980s and ’90s goes much further. The Nazis were also pioneers in what was then the uncharted economic waters of “privatization.” In the face of the Great Depression, states across the world — including the Social Democratic led Weimar Republic — nationalized key industries and, in some cases, like Germany, nearly the entirety of the financial sector. The Nazis — despite early propaganda indicating otherwise — were the unique exception. Not only did they avoid further nationalization but they innovated a process so idiosyncratic at the time that it required coining a German neologism: Reprivatisierung.
Quickly transferred into English as “reprivatization,” the phenomenon and its potentially salutary effects were observed by such notable organs of liberal economic thought as The Economist and mainstream outlets like Time magazine. Before Margaret Thatcher began the privatization of council housing and long before welfare reform was a twinkle in Bill Clinton’s eye, the Nazis were turning heavy industries, nearly the entirety of the financial and banking sector, and even some social services over to private hands and to new, innovative public/private hybrids. Even before this process was “enhanced” by “Aryanizing” previously Jewish held property, rates of privatization were as high the European average would become some 70 years later when neoliberal reforms began on the continent.