Incite -- (v) 1: give an incentive; 2: provoke or stir up; "incite a riot"; 3: urge on; cause to act
Thursday, April 15, 2004

Something everyone should read but few will
Written by: Beck

English libertarian Sean Gabb wrote a little ditty titled "The Enemy Class and How to Destroy It: A Manifesto for the Right" that is absolutely worth reading. Inasmuch as it's seven pages long, I have to imagine that few people will actually have the patience to get through the whole thing. So for the benefit of the lazy and the time constrained, I present you with a few highlights.

Essentially, he provides a roadmap for how conservatives and libertarians (who in England seem to have more in common with each other than in America) could reshape the political order in their country. The problems facing England (and America, and the entire world) are largely the result of an elite class of vested interests whose primary goal is to propagate themselves at the expense of the working masses. Gabb labels these people the Enemy Class. His definition:
What I will call the Enemy Class exists in and around the public sector. It comprises the great majority of those administrators, lawyers, experts, educators and media people whose living is connected with the State... They articulate and advance the interests of perhaps a million other people--from television producers and heads of executive agencies, down through the university lecturers and social workers and white collar bureaucrats, to the lowest grades of civil servant and local government officer. Add to the list all the racism awareness and anti-aids consultants and the workers in those non-government organizations that receive money and status from or via the State. These are the people who really govern the country. They are the ones who decide what statistics to gather and how and when to publish them. They decide what problems can be identified and what solutions can be discussed. They advise on policy and implement policy. Because of their numbers and education and beliefs, and the formal and informal bonds that hold them to each other, and because of their ability and willingness to give and withhold benefits, they set the tone of society. They can require not only external conformity to their will, but can even to some extent shape the public mind so that conformity seems right and natural. They provide the boundaries and language of debate. They define the heretics and schismatics, and arrange for them to be persecuted. They are the modern equivalent of an established church. More precisely, they are what Coleridge called the Clerisy.
He then goes on to define how it is that the Enemy Class has gone about gaining and maintaining control of society, and how they're consistently working to steer it towards a world of their liking.
They are the Enemy Class by virtue of their legitimizing ideologies. While many of these contradict each other, and while some may overlap at their fringes with positions accepted on some parts of the right, they all have in common that they are essentially ideologies of state activism. It is belief in an active, interfering state that justifies the collective power, money and status of the Enemy Class. And though some conservatives still romanticise state power, the activism we have faced for at least the past hundred years has been directed almost wholly to the destruction of both freedom and tradition. Using various justifications--national efficiency, racial hygiene, socialism, the war on drugs, environmentalism, "modernization", to name only a few--the Enemy Class has taxed and watched and controlled us. It has abolished organic, voluntary forms of association, and replaced them with bureaucratic centralism. It has obliterated old boundaries and jurisdictions. It has remodeled the currency, and is now fanatically trying to impose the metric system. At the same time, it is merging what remains of our Constitution into the unaccountable power structures of the European Union and the New World Order.
He further elaborates on how educational institutions generally and the media specifically are used as tools of control by the Enemy Class. They alone shape the dialogue, control what language can and cannot be used, and manipulate political outcomes (a long rant about the evils of the BBC follows, you can read it yourself if you're interested--it's quite entertaining).

His plan for destroying the Enemy and restoring the nation to its free and rightful ways?

I suggest that within days of coming into power [this is a hypothetical in which the Conservatives win a decisive national election], we ought to shut down large parts of the public sector. We should abolish the Foreign Office, the Department of Trade and Industry, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, the Department of Education and Training, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, plus whole divisions of other ministries. We should shut down most of local government--especially anything to do with child welfare, consumer protection, racial equality, and town and country planning. At the same time, we should abolish all the statutory agencies. This includes English Heritage, the Arts Council, the Commission for Racial Equality, the Equal Opportunities Commission, the Health and Safety Executive, whatever has replaced the Health Education Authority, the Serious Fraud Office, the National Criminal Intelligence Service, all the regional development councils, and all the "self-financing regulatory agencies" without exception. The fact that I have mentioned some organizations and not others does not indicate that these others are to be saved: the schedule to our Act of Abolition and Repeal should run to hundreds of pages. We should abolish functions, destroy records, sell off physical assets, and sack people by the tens of thousand. Pension rights could be respected according to law, but at least a third of government should no longer exist after our first month in power. [Emphasis mine]
He elaborates at much greater detail, all of it worth reading. One final extremely perceptive observation he makes is that the use of statistics and information, while never beneficial to the cause of freedom, consistently undermines conservative positions.
Following from this, I suggest that our government of the right should stop gathering and publishing official information. We should want no more censuses, or balance of payments statistics, or epidemiological surveys--no more government reports or future projections. Though useful to historians, none of this is essential to the sort of government we on the right wish to run; and all of it is at least potentially dangerous to that government. Information is the health of the Enemy Class. It provides the factual underpinning of its legitimizing ideologies. Much of this information is unproven or untrue--look at the claims about global warming or the harmful effects of passive smoking. Much of the rest is true in the technical sense, but is so selective and deprived of context that it does not qualify as information. Look at the statistics on drinking and driving. The dangers are exaggerated by including accidents that involve drunken pedestrians and passengers; and no comparative figures are gathered on the possibly worse effects of driving while tired or after drinking large amounts of coffee. What we have here is an example of socially constructed knowledge. It looks like neutral fact, but really exists to support some ideological bias: in this case, it exists to support an attack on the alcohol industry and to make the rest of us feel guilty about enjoying the products of that industry.
I hope this hasn't been too long for you all to digest. It's a big pill to swallow, but some times strong medicine is required for fighting dangerous diseases. On a final note, a bit of advice to Mr. Gabb, and any others thinking of making such documents in the future: Adobe Acrobat documents look pretty, but they're not at all user friendly to those wishing to cut & paste sections of documents into their own material. Very messy formatting. That is all.

Link credit to Samizdata for bringing this to my attention.

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John Beck

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