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MITCH BENN: Twisted logic traps Labour

Leader of the Labour party Jeremy Corbyn. Picture: Victoria Jones/PA Wire/PA Images - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

MITCH BENN discusses the issue of anti-Semitism in the Labour party.

At time of writing, I don’t know whether Chris Williamson has been re-admitted, re-expelled or re-re-admitted to the Labour Party. I do know that Alastair Campbell is still out for the foreseeable, as he told me when we met at the People’s Vote rally in Cheltenham last Saturday (those events are starting to feel like comedy festivals to me in that I travel all over the country and keep running into the same people).

But then of course, Al was cast into outer darkness not for the footling peccadillo of allegations of dehumanising an entire ethnicity but for the far graver offence of announcing that he’d voted Liberal Democrat in the European elections. Interestingly, the specific rule cited by his inquisitors didn’t technically apply in Al’s case, given that what it actually prohibits is encouraging others to vote for parties other than Labour, and Al didn’t confess to having strayed until after the polls had closed. Let’s face it, he was expelled under the unwritten and rarely discussed ‘Begone, Foul Denizen of Blair’ clause, and there’s no signs of that being revoked in the near future.

Williamson, on the other hand, has been suspended once again by Labour, two days after being readmitted, following a wave of anger within the party at the handling of the investigation into the comments on anti-Semitism that got him suspended in the first place. The Derby North MP, who says he has spent his political career standing up against bigotry, lost the Labour whip in February for telling activists Labour had been “too apologetic” over the issue.

The ongoing fustercluck has set me thinking about Labour’s seemingly intractable anti-Semitism problem. I know I’ve written about this before, but it’s not going anywhere. Part of it, I think, is simply an example of the rise in unashamed partisanship we discussed last week; it’s no longer a refusal to admit your side has done wrong; it’s become the inability to conceive that your side could ever do wrong.

Like I said; this in itself is lethal and must be challenged: you turn a blind eye to this, you make excuses for that, you rubbish this accusation, brush aside that revelation and before you know it you’ve got a warehouse in Texas full of toddlers crying themselves to sleep on bare concrete floors and you still think you’re the good guys.

But with specific regard to left-wing anti-Semitism, it’s occurred to me that, oddly, Marxists have something in common with minimum-government libertarians: They both think that everything would be okay if only they stopped interfering. In the Marxists’ case, they are capitalists and bourgeois society, in the libertarians’ case they are pretty much everyone except them.

Both sides believe that the natural state of humanity is peaceful coexistence, and that it’s only people rigging the game that make it anything other.

They take it in opposite directions, of course. The Marxists believe that this interference takes the shape of the imposition of hierarchies upon what would otherwise be an egalitarian society, while the libertarians believe that it’s the attempt to defy naturally occurring hierarchies which causes the problem.

This second argument, these days personified by the psychology professor Jordan Peterson, is a classic example of what proper philosophers call the ‘naturalistic fallacy’. Just because something occurs in nature doesn’t make it good.

It may indeed be the case that human society arranges itself into castes and rigid social classes, preserving wealth and privilege from generation to generation unless it’s compelled to do otherwise. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to compel it to do otherwise. Nature has no concept of ‘good’, or indeed of ‘justice’, and life is precisely as fair as we can make it at any given moment.

But this notion offends the Marxists, who think that unfairness does not proceed as a natural, if unfortunate, consequence of human nature or biology but rather is imposed upon us by a greedy elite.

This means it’s not enough to try to level the playing field, but rather one must seek out and eradicate those who made the field so sloped and bumpy in the first place.

So if inequality doesn’t arise naturally, who’s making it happen? Well obviously, they’re doing it in secret, so it must be outsiders. Maybe outsiders who, by reputation, earned or otherwise, know their way around money.

They’re preserving patriarchal hierarchies, so they’re probably all related. Big wealthy families being aided and covered for by more distant relatives, people of a similar ethnic background, perhaps also united by a religion, which has been suspected of foul arcane rituals since the Middle Ages and still keeps itself to its…OH MY GOD, IT’S ALL OF THEM. THEY’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER….

You can see how this might work, can’t you? How the identification of social inequality as the Big Bad, but a reluctance to contemplate that maybe that’s just how things are (unless you change them), might lead, via a few lazy generalisations and poor use of logic, to the demonisation of a whole people…?

Throw into the mix the fact that the USA (the hard left’s other Great Satan) almost always unquestioningly supports whatever brutality the Israeli government inflicts upon the Palestinians and you have a recipe for, well, anti-Semitism.

And yes, the Tories have had an issue with Muslims, and Boris said letter-boxes… Entirely separate question. Racism isn’t a finite resource. One side having lots doesn’t mean the other side has less.

It’s not enough to believe you’re the good guys, you have to be the good guys.

Meanwhile, back at the anti-Brexit ranch, there’s a whole summer of events coming up to get involved with. Get involved with them.


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