RCP hegemonise The Moral Maze

June 25, 2008 at 10:21 pm (cults, Jim D, media, perversity, rcp, serbia, strange situations, Uncategorized)

I’ve just been listening to Radio 4’s The Moral Maze - supposedly an up-market, intellekshul discussion of matters ethical. This week the debate was supposed to be about Zimbabwe and “who’s to blame?”

It was crap. Mainly because (in the absence of  “Mad Mel“) the programme was dominated by longstanding Moral Maze ethics girl Claire Fox of the so-called ‘Institute of Ideas’, backed up by new boy Kenan Malik, whose qualifications and affiliations were not divulged (the other two panellists were Catholic theologian Clifford Longley and ex-Tory cabinet minister Michael Portillo) .

Kanan Malik is a very interesting fellow, who has written some good stuff about racism, secularism and equality. So why was he lamely (and, it seemed to me, embarrassedly) backing up Claire Fox’s crass “anti-imperialist” excuses for Mugabe? Could it possibly be because Malik, for all his erudition, is a member of the same organisation as Claire Fox? They’re both members of the bizarre ex-Marxist outfit led by Professor Frank Furedi (University of Kent), that started out as the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP), became ‘Living Marxism’ (LM Group) and now operates as an ostensibly ‘libertarian’ outfit  through such front organisations as The ‘Institute of Ideas’, ‘Spiked-online’ , ‘Sense about Science’ (who famously upset George Monbiot by denying the reality of global warming) and the ‘Manifesto Club’ (now much favoured by London Mayor Boris Johnson).

Their other claim to fame is (for all their proclaimed ‘libertarianism’) acting as opologists for some of the vilest and most genocidal regimes and dictators in recent history – notably in 1992 when (operating as ‘Living Marxism’) they attempted to defend Serb ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and claimed that ITN journalists had fabricated a report and photographs of the Serb concentraton camp at Trpopolje. ‘Living Marxism’ and its editor, Mick Hulme (now a columnist on Murdoch’s Times, but still part of the ex-RCP organisation), lost a libel action brought by ITN, closed down the magazine and went online as Spiked online.

Since then the ex-RCP has renounced the remnance of its Marxist/Trotskyist past, positioned itself as ‘libertarian’ and ‘iconoclastic’ (actually, its claim to be ‘iconoclastic’ is mainly pretence, as Claire Fox’s banal standard-issue “anti imperialism” – aka defence of national sovereignty as an absolute principle – on the Moral Maze regularly demonstrates) and concentrated upon infiltrating the bourgeois media. They’ve had some success, what with Mick Hulme’s column in the Times , Living Marxism’s former Science Correspondent John Gillott conning Channel 4 into giving him and fellow RCP’er Martin Durkin a series, and Prof Ferudi popping up all over the place on Radio 4 to comment on such matters as the excesses of Health and Safety legislation and the dangers of mollycoddling your kids.

But the crowning triumph – so far – of the RCP is their colonisation of Radio 4’s Moral Maze. Not only is Claire Fox an established permanent panel member, but she now seems to be able to bring on ‘deps’ like Kanan Malik whenever one of the other regulars is away. So, this week, 50 per cent of the Moral Maze panel was RCP! I must get on to Mad Mel about this…

17 Comments

  1. CH said,

    1) Mick Hume is editor-at-large of Spiked and a columnist for the Times. Mike Hulme, you seem to have confused Hume with, is an environmental sciences professor. He’s been linked to the RCP through conspiracy theories, but remains a separate person as far as I can tell.

    2) The Spiked ‘line’ on Zimbabwe and other potential recipients of Western intervention is far more nuanced than the kneejerk anti-imperialism associated (mostly by your little crew) with other left groups. Mick Hume and Brendan O’Neill have both criticized potential Western involvement in Zimbabwe, not just due to the old imperialist implications of attacking a small African dictatorship, but for weakening the local opposition and effectively demobilizing any possible mass movement for democratic change.

    3) I doubt anyone associated with Living Marxism, Spiked, or the RCP has ever claimed to be an “opologist” (or apologist, even) or iconoclast. The fact that many of their ideas run contrary to the current bland mainstream is hardly something to be mocked; any self-respecting radical or progressive, as far as I’m concerned, should be kicking against this bland quasi-liberal consensus at every opportunity possible. Better that than lining up with it over Iraq or the EU or whatever else…

    Another half-researched, half-assed piece by Jim D. First (not first ever, but in the last week or two) a poorly informed commentary on Ireland’s rejection of Lisbon, then a refusal to be corrected by those actually in the know, and instead you wind up promoting lame Irish stereotypes (thick paddie priests protesting! never mind that the Church hierarchy were solidly for Lisbon…). Now this. There’s much more to go into– for example the idea that the Bosnian Serbs are one of the “vilest and most genocidal” regimes in recent history, or that 50 per cent of a four person panel is somehow hegemony, but why bother, really.

  2. Jim Denham said,

    CH:

    1/ I’m not confused about the Hulme and Hulme: I just spelled the name wrong: I wrote about Mick “Hulme” (as in Times columnist), and that’s who I meant. I’ve never even heard of your Mike Hulme.

    2/ That sounds pretty much like the standard “left” line to me: not particularly “nuanced” either. Claire Fox was even crasser on the Maze.

    3/ As above. Once agian, though, apologies for the spelling. So the Milosevic regime was *not* “one of the vilest and most genocidal” regimes in recent history? And that concentration camp was really a holiday camp, I suppose. You really *are* an “opologist” , aren’t you?

    4/

  3. Jim Denham said,

    PS: Anyone hear Frank Furedi on the Today programme this morning, making an arse of himself by arguing against CRB checks on people who work with children? listen to the fucking idiot here:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_7474000/7474792.stm

  4. Farah said,

    I thought one of the guests (‘foundations of sand’…) had some pretty interesting things to say – does anyone know his name? I’d like to look up whether he has written any articles on Zimbabwe

  5. Andrew Coates said,

    Frank Furedi has in fact written some interesting books about the Cultue of fear and risk aversion. And his stuff on Therapy warms the cockles of an embittered lefty’s heart.

    But his books tend to be repetitive (read one, and you’ve read them all) and appear as if constructed from newspaper clippings. Still he does have a point: there is a kind of risk-aversion around. Still, that’s what’s known as the bleedin’ obvious. Hardly an original opinion in any case: comes from a German sociologist, I think, Beck? and there’s plenty of French stuff on the same lines.

    Yet, look at all that cack now coming out about the menace of youngsters enjoying a drink and calls to clamp down on them by raising the legal drinking age – the pious drivel of the likes of Holy Willie Brown that needs someone attacking it. Not sure about the CRB though – not my area.

    That said all these ‘radical’ and challenging ideas that lot come out with, I could dream much more startling ones up, far to their left, in five minutes. Here’s one: Cyclists, doncha just love these libertarian heroes, riding on the pavement, going through red-lights, smashing into those blethering fear-ridden oldsters. No fear of risk there.

  6. R P Dutt said,

    I think you will find, comrade, that they started life as the Revolutionary Communist Tendency (RCT), a split off the Revolutionary Communist Group which came about when Furedi and Yaffe of the latter group fell out, the RCG itself a split off the International Socialists (IS), forerunners of the SWP, themselves a split of….etc etc

  7. paul said,

    I’ve seen them argue that social workers are an arm of the state and shouldn’t be let anywhere near families, some dodgy stuff on paedophiles, they supported the scabs against the striking miners and argued against safe sex campaigns.

    They should be rounded up and sent to prison camp in Bosnia.

  8. Andrew Coates said,

    They did indeed start as the Revolutionary Communist Tendency – I have still at least one, maybe two, issues of their journal. Any offers?

    At the time I recall they used to argue with us in the IMG (well, some bloke in the pub next to the big Tolmer’s Square Squat) that we should join them as they were ‘real’ Marxists.

    Shame I didn’t sign up: could be in some well-paid journalist’s job with side money from global corporations.

  9. Dr Paul said,

    A couple of things. Firstly, the RCP did not support scab miners in 1984. What it tried to do was to win over Nottinghamshire miners who were unhappy that there had been no national ballot for a strike; hence the RCP’s call for a national strike ballot in the first few weeks of the strike. Unlike most of the left, which practically wrote off the whole of Notts miners from the start, the RCP was trying to help drive a wedge between the scabs in the Notts leadership and the rank-and-file Notts miners, and win over the latter to the strike. A national strike ballot for all miners, alongside picketing, etc, could well have brought out all the miners; a 50 per cent or (what was more likely) much bigger majority for a strike in such a ballot was very possible. I still think that it was a chance worth taking. This, I imagine, is a bit too subtle for some people to comprehend.

    If the RCP had supported scabs in the miners’ strike, it would not have recruited several striking miners, some of whom I met. I was an RCP supporter for many years, and have over the last decade subjected its politics to much critical reappraisal and concluded that some of what it was arguing was wrong, but I do insist that if we are to discuss this group that this ‘received wisdom’ about the RCP and the miners’ strike be abandoned, and the truth be recognised.

    As for Yugoslavia, the RCP didn’t support Miloshevich; what it tried to do was to counter the anti-Serb bias and skewed coverage in the liberal press; things that were imitated amongst parts of the left — laying the blame for the Yugoslav disaster solely upon Serb nationalism; the downplaying of atrocities committed against Serbs; indeed (as Jim D exemplifies) the use of the term ‘genocide’ in a vicious but not exterminatory series of civil wars. Workers Press was the most extreme example of this, but the AWL isn’t far behind. The RCP’s formal position was neutrality amongst all the warring factions, supporting none of them; a position that I hold to this day.

    As I pointed out at the time, this attempt was badly thought out, and failed because it was merely responding to the liberal press, and not presenting a deep-going analysis of the Yugoslav disaster.

    The Trnopolje Camp episode was a typical RCP get-rich-quick act, which didn’t work because it was ill-thought-out and badly run. Technically it was correct, but it failed to ask certain key questions — most importantly, why was such a camp constructed, and why were the people interned — which allowed the ITN reporters to promote an emotional case, harking back to the Nazis, which went through in the anti-Serb atmosphere of the time. A much better approach would have been to run an investigation into the internment camps run by BiH Muslim and Croat authorities and/or irregulars. But that meant a bit of hard work, so what could have been a real challenge to ITN’s and others’ ‘Serbs are the new Nazis’ line was lost.

    I can’t speak for the ex-RCP today, other than to say that if a class-based position is abandoned, you can end up anywhere, as we can see all too clearly with my old pals. Some things some of them say are eminently sensible; Kenan Malik’s critique of official multiculturalism is superb — and I believe that much of the AWL (and not just Jim D) concurs with it. The critique of Greenery — and Greenery is something else that too much of the left has adopted more or less uncritically — is worth looking at. I don’t know if the ex-RCP’s total rejection of Greenery is correct, but it does raise probing questions ot it that need to be answered. Oddly enough, I think that I recently saw something by an AWLer supporting nuclear power…

  10. voltairespriest said,

    The Trnopolje Camp episode was a typical RCP get-rich-quick act, which didn’t work because it was ill-thought-out and badly run. Technically it was correct

    Come again?

  11. Mike said,

    The RCT were seriously weird.

    At Furderi’s base at Kent in the early 80s they regularly attempted to pack student CND events (not very difficult given the size of meetings) and argue for what they called “a workers’ bomb” that would obliterate the middle classes of the world.

    It was also common knwledge that the leadership sought to regulate sexual relations between members and send the more attractive comrades to engage in what Christian cults call ‘flirty fishing’.

    They also liked to argue that groups like the ANL (which was not above criticism) were inherently racist because it targeted the NF rather than the even worse (in their eyes) Labour party.

    The best way to get RCT members really upset was to suggest that they were really right wing agents provocateurs. Given the direction that the LM mob have moved in, the accusation may have had some truth.

    Despite their success in penetrating the commentariart their ‘libertarian contrarianism’ on many issues essentially boils down to support for laissez faire appproaches to environmental regulation which chime very well with the aims of big business. Monbiot very effectively showed the overlap between their line and the interests of corporations such as Monsanto.

    The defence of ethnic clensing in Bosnia was, and is, beneath contempt.

  12. Voltaire's Priest said,

    It was also common knwledge that the leadership sought to regulate sexual relations between members and send the more attractive comrades to engage in what Christian cults call ‘flirty fishing’.

    Shit, and all I got when I went to Uni was two AWL members persuading me to join over lagers in the Golden Lion!

  13. Tychy said,

    the RCP were more misunderstood than malevolent. even today, their former members seem to inspire this decidedly shrill, mccarthyism. and this thing where people confuse a defence of sovereignty with supporting dictators is so stupid that it’s surely deliberate? i agree that the moral maze is a bit unbalanced at the moment, however.

  14. The Moral Maze: a RCP/LM double act « RCP/LM watch said,

    [...] Shiraz socialist: RCP hegemonise the Moral Maze [...]

  15. rcpwatch said,

    The RCP/LM are now up to 75% penetration of the Moral Maze, with James Panton joining up with Kenan Malik on tonight’s ‘show’. No Claire “Her Master’s Voice” Fox tonight, but sure as dogs piss on lamp-posts Malik, Fox and Panton will appear as a threesome in the near future. Is the sect going to go for a full set, or might even they think that’s a bit OTT? Watch this space…

    There’s a blog post on this, with links, at RCP Watch (http://rcpwatch.wordpress.com/2009/11/04/another-moral-maze-double-act/)

    And in response to Dr John, the RCP’s position on Bosnia wasn’t just a counter to media bias against the Serbs, it was Leninist unconditional support. The cult’s Usenet representatives, particulary Gary Dale and Justin Flude, regularly used the phrase “unconditional support”. For example, Flude posting as “Big Mac” to alt.politics.socialism.trotsky on 10/6/98, in the thread “Nationalism: Its significance”:

    : Do you back Serbia unconditionally against the West or not? Yes or no?

    And later in that same thread:

    : Lenin understood that imperialism necessarily involves the political oppression of
    :backward capitalist countries. Therefore the struggle of the people in those countries
    :against imperialism was anti-capitalist and demanded the unconditional support of
    :revolutionaries.

    The RCP/LM was 100% behind the Serbian forces in the war, and as a result rubbished any reports of Serb atrocities (Flude declared that Srebrenica “never happened”) and played up reports of Bosniak and Croat crimes (such as the forced expulsion of 200,000 Serbs from Croatia after Tudjman’s forces had defeated the Serb forces). The LM article alleging that the concentration camp photo was faked, which led to the libel suit from Ed Vulliamy (who was there) and ITN which brought down the magazine, was a symptom of the cult’s “unconditional support” for the Milosevic, Mladic and Karadzic forces, a support for which, in a just world, Uncle Frank and his obedient minions should be held personally and directly to account.

  16. Another Moral Maze double act « RCP/LM watch said,

    [...] Shiraz Socialist blog: RCP hegemonise the Moral Maze [...]

  17. RCP watcher said,

    I think you will find that the Institute of Ideas (the key institution of the continuity RCP) actually produce the Moral Maze. About 3-4 weeks back Clare Fox admitted as much during the programme.

    No information is available on the BBC website as to who produces the Moral maze. But the topics discussed closely follow that on Spiked Online, and, as many have already said, their panels are stacked in favour of their side of the argument.

    I will be putting in a Freedom of Information request to the BBC as to the producers and researchers of the programme. I suspect it it RCP top to bottom.

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