Power is not only what you have but what the enemy thinks you have – 2

In an earlier article I looked at the way that social radicals look to project “the power that the enemy thinks you have”, with a look at threats of boycott and the Twitterstorm.  I came to a grim conclusion that a few activists pretending to be a mass movement will succeed again and again unless business groups like chambers of commerce can give mutual support, practical and moral, to members who are targeted.

I later came across a useful comment by Jordan Peterson in answer to an audience question on being personally targeted:  if you have done nothing wrong, do not apologise – then wait two weeks and it will have gone away.  That is good advice to an individual who attracts the hatred of on-line activists, but a prime target, such as an influential company or institution, may not be allowed to rest after so short a time.

The determined campaign starts with Alinsky’s rule number one (“Power is not only what you have but what the enemy thinks you have”) and then employs his remaining tricks.  It is pretended power though that is frightening to the target.

In open debate, the mechanics are different from those on anonymous social media.  In open debate real faces are displayed and so the same malice that is applied to the opponent can be directed at the activist.  Here then some research is needed before approaching the debate.

First, is the use of statistics and statistical generalisations:  if an activist asserts that 10% of the population are in the group he insists be favoured, then correct them by reference to genuine statistics (but beware of a trap; even if it is less than 2%, and dependent on changes during the respondent’s life, that does not mean they are ignorable). Break their broad category down to challenge the legitimacy of treating all people in that activist-defined group the same way, or if it is a conglomerate of classifications put together to boost the statistics, make distinctions between them. If an activist claims that the majority of the population agree with them, which is a claim of democratic authority, then show them opinion polls that demonstrate the opposite, or if they really do have a majority, ask if it is permissible to disagree and persuade people to change their minds, or point out that the majority usually support hanging, so are they in favour too?

Secondly, and crucially, outflank the accusation of “hate” coming your way by showing up their own “hate-speech”; they might not think of it as such, but spitting venom at opponents, or at men generally, or at those with certain political ideas, or at classes of society, is “hate-speech” like any other.

Thirdly, personalise it in order to challenge the authority or veracity of your opponent:  what qualifications and experience do they have? (Be careful with that though: they may have more experience with self-selected people in their generalised classification system than you.)  Track their writings and tweets before the encounter: should someone who has declared masculinity to be “toxic” be entrusted with the welfare and the very manhood of vulnerable boys, whom presumably they want to emasculate?  If a socialist denies that the government starving Venezuela is really socialist, find their own statements praising Venezuela’s socialist experiment, and other times when commentators have changed their tune in this way as every successive socialist states falls int starvation.

Opposing some radical activists should be like shooting fish in a barrel: they have no science on their side, no genuine statistics, their literature may be full of false statements and their typical personal histories are a psychiatrist’s dream.  However those activists keep winning, by insults and instilling fear.  That is a lesson not to assume you can prevail just by being right.

This suggests an alternative approach: be on their side, to a certain extent because presumably both you and they assert a desire to benefit mankind or some section of it.  Do not compromise even an inch, but lead them to a common ground, then launch an attack from that common ground.  (Ben Shapiro does this brilliantly.)  So, you say you want X, but you are causing Y, so to achieve X you would need to do Z:  you mean well but you do ill.  Do you believe it is acceptable for someone to disagree with you even where you have a fact wrong?  Should not any ideology be based on true statements and therefore be improved by challenging questionable statements?  If a speaker can only defend his or her arguments with threats or name-calling, they are not rational arguments and can be disregarded:  can you now say something rational I can consider?

This is a lot of research to be done, and easier for activists without full time jobs and responsibilities, so you are at once on the back-foot.

It is hard to take control of the conversation because you may be the polite one, and even if you are not, the aim should be to appear to be. You must emerge as the calm and rational one in spite of all provocation, but nice guys finish last.  If you do manage to take control somehow, do not rest there but establish your own ground.  Alinsky’s first rule is still there:  possess the power that the enemy thinks you have.

You must not be the isolated sandbank around which the incoming tide washes, dry for now but bypassed and to be washed away: you must be the sea.

See also


Murmuring the Judges – 1

Whatever our constitutional woes, we do have not American judges, and thanks be for that.  We have non-political, neutral judges, and that is an abomination to the upcoming radical establishment.

I enjoy the satires of our judges, sitting bewigged and asleep over long, dusty cases in long, dusty courts, but mainly because I know how far it is from the reality in the courtroom and from the bewigged men and women themselves, whom I have frequently met on social occasions (lest you consider that I often find myself up before them in court, which I do not – I’ve never been caught).

Britain has the best judges in the world, so the judges tell me, and it seems a miracle that we do when there are no detailed systems in place to regulate every aspect of their appointment and discipline, but study suggests that they are best just because there are no such systems.  The British constitution works because it is largely unwritten and works by understandings sufficiently flexible to deal with exigencies, and our appointment of judges works by understandings sufficient to their needs.  What is more, it minimises the infiltration of the system by activists.

The faults in America may first be blamed on the circumstances of the creation of the United States in that it was founded by lawyers, and in the full flush of confidence in the Enlightenment.  The system written by lawyers naturally gave primacy to the law as arbiter of all things, even of the very process of making law and the extent to which to may be made.  We have a more nuanced understanding, under the rule of law, but not the rule of lawyers.

Largely the judiciary in all three of the United Kingdom’s jurisdictions has escaped the political fray by not being political:  unlike the United States, British judges do not have power to strike down primary legislation they personally dislike.  Secondary legislation and wild administrative decisions are open for challenge, and there is no shortage of crowd-funded activists who set out do challenge decisions in the courts, but so far the courts have been robust:  it is not their role to make decisions entrusted to the political sphere.  They get close some times, and they can overstep the mark – which may be the subject of a second article.  For now though the line is held to keep judges non-political, without which they cannot hold the respect which necessary for the equal rule of law to prevail.

If all is as well as it could be, naturally the judges are under attack.  Neutrality is a crime in the eyes of the determined radical, the social justice warrior.  They demand control for their opinions of all the commanding heights of the state, and the judges must conform. In the light of that mandate that threats to judicial independence have come and will come and become more strident as each new step is won. The demand for diversity is not isolated and benevolent, but the first necessary step.  It is not to only threat to the stability of the current system:  these I will look at in a Part 2 article.

Man to Man is an arrant Wolfe

I have watched a man surrounded by a baying crowd, attacked and dragged towards the ground, rescued from broken bones or murder only by a policewoman’s arm, on the streets of London.  His whole offence was differ from an opinion shared by the crowd that wished him dead.

“To speak impartially, both sayings are very true; That Man to Man is a kind of God; and that Man to Man is an arrant Wolfe. The first is true, if we compare Citizens amongst themselves; and the second, if we compare Cities. …  Good men must defend themselves by taking to them for a Sanctuary the two daughters of War, Deceipt and Violence.”

Hobbes: De Cive

Watch the video and ask where we are.  In the political mobile vulgus we are no longer citizens together but factions, bound together and as against others we have no ties, as in a state of nature:

“the state of men without civill society (which state we may properly call the state of nature) is nothing else but a meere warre of all against all”

Hobbes: De Cive

The events shown in the YouTube clip took place in the heart of the most civilised city on Earth, beside the very places where the laws of the kingdom are made and administered and apparently completely outside those laws.  The victim had expressed disagreement with the crowd’s chosen hatred, in this case a hatred of Donald Trump, and this was enough for them to turn on him in murderous fury.

Man is a pack animal, like the wolf.  Stand in any street or park and see a dog bounding happily beside its owner like a gentle puppy – but when dogs get in a pack they act like wolves and they are deadly.  Young men too behave like a wolfpack, and now, it seems, so does a politicised mob.

The creation of a wolfpack is the creation of a society, bound together with instinctive ties, breaking all ties outside the pack, and that is what we saw on the street.  There is no need for moderation, no “what if” nor “to a certain extent”, no subtle thought – just inclusion or exclusion, and there is no duty to the excluded, only hatred in order to validate to social tie of the pack.

The chant that came louder and louder was without moderation either; “Nazi scum”, as if with no knowledge or care for what those words actually mean.  Those words should make the blood run cold and not be used loosely: it an insult to the memory of the millions of victims of the real Nazis, and to those who still today after 74 years wake every morning in cold terror at the memory from their youth.

The apparent ring-leader apparently says she is an NHS worker – I hope she never looks after me.

The self-supporting crowd is a liberation from the constraints of civil society in which all morality of the wider society is irrelevant and only the immediate crowd and the need to sustain its coherence have any relevance.  An outsider intruding therefore is outside any duties and may be a casualty of the “warre of all against all”.

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Where it all went wrong for – Change UK

On 20 February 2019, just two days after its formation, the Independent Group, as it then was, killed itself. After swallowing the poison, it limped to its doom with an unbroken catalogue of stupidity until it broke apart on 4 June 2019.

It might have worked – it might have been the most successful break-out political party of our time but instead it stepped out into the new dawn, over a cliff.

The group began in the Labour Party.  That party has for its whole existence been a compromising accommodation between factions, from raging Communists to soft social ideas which became Blairism. The rise of crazed Twitter-warriors though began a chain reaction which tore that compromise apart: local party by local party was taken over by Momentum, John McDonnell’s own Sturmabteilung, who would accept none but their own.  Once they might have been three angry activists hurling abuse at the back of the room; now they had the members to ensure that they had control.  With Momentum came anti-Semitism:  its horrid rise in Labour and parts of the Liberal Democrats could be the subject of many articles, but in essence Socialism is a doctrine of finding enemies to hate, and on-line conspiracies found their target in an ancient hatred.  In that atmosphere, no Blairite MP could remain without being deselected and no Jewish MP could remain safe.  A breach could not be avoided.

On 18 February 2019, seven MPs left the Labour Party and formed The Independent Group.  Great things were forecast for them; after all, most of the media establishment are by instinct Blairite soft-socialists.  That tendency though may have blinded the eyes of media types who should have taken a more cynical look at what was happening, as it was not all about Momentum.

It might have worked, with focus, common sense and an eye to catching the tide, and a voter-friendly name.  It could have been ‘Labour without the madness and anti-Semitism’, and that would have had a good popular impact, maybe overthrowing Corbyn Labour.

However, after just two days of existence they ended it:  on 20 February three dissenting Conservatives joined the Independent Group and were welcomed, as any new movement may welcome converts.  However with the Conservatives it could no longer be ‘Sane Labour’, and no more dissenters would come across, so by welcoming three new members they turned away maybe thirty who would have come to them.  With the ex-Conservatives all they had in common was wanting to overturn Brexit.  In this role they were not only redundant – the LibDems had this sewn up – but also alienated the very Labour-leaning voters they hoped to win.

The European election, the election which should never have happened, approached and they took on the mantle of a Remain faction and no more, adopted at least two new names, now as “Change UK”, but whose sole policy was to oppose change, and “the Remain Alliance”, which was ludicrously unself-aware to be kind, or dishonest to be frank.

Then on 4 June 2019 CUK-TIG-RA split apart, with most of its MPs going back to being independents dreaming of new things, and a rump, under the ever-angry, ex-Conservative Anna Soubry keeping the Change UK name, even if the man it was subconsciously named after, Chuka, has gone.

It might have been a success, but for that the actions of 20 February.  When Anna Soubry came to them they could simply have said “sit near us but no closer”, but they did not.  They could have claimed to be “reformed Labour” but they did not.  They could have adopted a long policy platform positioning themselves as heirs to the Blair tradition (without the wars) without taking sides on Brexit and tempting their red-rosette colleagues, but they did not.  They misread the mood of the country which is easy Within the Bubble but unforgivable outside it, and plunged into determined obscurity.

Now the group has sundered in two. It has not split logically into ex-Conservatives and ex-Labour but into two mixed groups. It is hard to see how this could be any better for them. If they are all seeing ahead of them the end of their political careers, maybe it does not matter.

There are no second chances now.  Chuka may try to form a “Sane Labour” caucus now, but his motivations now look impure: his motivation can never again be seen as purely to bring sanity and responsiveness, but as a vehicle for a Remainiac obsession. He has shown his hand, and had it cut off.

Instead he may knock on Jo Swinton’s door and beg to be let into the Liberal Democrats, but would they want him?  His presence may be poison to their brand.

Power is not only what you have but what the enemy thinks you have – 1

The first rule of Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals, and radicals know how to use it:  ‘Power is not only what you have but what the enemy thinks you have’.

Twitter has a baleful influence fatal to sense and realism (and yes, I know ThomasHobbes autotweets, as @hobbesblog since you ask),  It just needs some organisation, maybe a Twitter-group or a botnet, and thousands of tweets can flood out to a commercial or political organisation demanding action and it will look as if the whole world has risen; not just one spotty student with an understanding of antisocial media.  Companies do respond, and they do withdraw profitable lines of goods, or books, or articles; institutions withdraw invitations to speakers and apologise for things they have not done and would not in honesty be sorry for if they had.  That is the power of power the enemy thinks you have.

The success of boycott threats is incomprehensible to logical analysis.  As an example, a tiny organisation, ‘Stop Funding Hate’, has demanded of several companies that they stop advertising in newspapers that campaign opposes, and they have been successful simply by panicking those companies’ PR departments.  The cost in loss of sales must be measurable; yet there is no evidence that ‘Stop Funding Hate’ could have any influence to harm those companies had their demands been made. In 2017 the campaign demanded that Paperchase withdraw from a joint promotion with the Daily Mail, and to apologise for entering it, all on the say-so of a tiny group with a botnet; that is when the campaign was exposed for its dishonesty, but it carried on and Paperchase later withdrew all advertising from the Mail, saying that they had “listened to customers”; which is doubtful.

The influence of hate-filled activists in backroom studio-flats over professionally run companies is astounding.  Targeted companies may not even ask themselves whether a blackmail demand from a left-wing activist is a realistic threat, and whether complying will harm them more than ignoring it.  Presumably they are afraid of the times when a threat has gone wider; but even then it may be more harmful to be seen to give in than to resist.  In this, radicals have an advantage over conservatives:  radicals will act as they wish, unafraid of any consequences: conservatives tend to be quieter, and we do have reason not to put our heads above the parapet, as we have families and jobs to protect.

There are more conservatives than there are radicals.  Conservatives tend not to shout and threaten boycotts though.  We have the potential power, but unseen, and therefore no power at all. To combat a boycott campaign would require an immediate response, not to the leaders of the campaign but to the targets, before the target has moved to yield.  The resistance to the boycott should offer to give the target company comfort, to inform them of the reality of who the campaigners are and their relation, if any, to the company’s customer base, and to show with demographics that yielding to the demand may be more harmful to customer relations than ignoring it.

The problem is that there is no one who is in a position to do this.  A commercial organisation, like a chamber of commerce or the Institute of Directors might be in a position to organise a ‘response unit’, but otherwise radicals without responsibility have free rein to impose themselves on society without opposition.

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