Stating the Obvious About Knife Crime

There has been a recent resurgence in knife crime over the past year. According to the Office for National Statistics there were 32,000 knife crime offences in England and Wales in 2011 this had fallen to 25,000 by 2014. However, since 2014 the knife crime figures have risen alarmingly. In June 2017 the number of recorded knife crime offences was 37,000 and rising. This trend is obviously not good and it comes with a tragic human cost.  Over the past week there has been a spate of fatal stabbings in London.

There has been much public hyperbole about this rise in violent crime (over 50 deaths have attributed to violent crime in London this year). In fact, the Home Office has embarrassed the home secretary this morning by issuing a report laying the blame for this surge in violent crime in falling police numbers. Despite the fact that Amber Rudd said that the crime wave has absolutely nothing to do with police numbers in a radio interview only hours before.

But the figures here can be problematic for those who want easy solutions to this problem. Police numbers in the UK have been falling consistency. In 2010 the number of police officers stood at 140,000. This had been reduced to around 120,000 by 2017, a drop of  20,000. Yet these figures seem to show that there is little link between violent crime and police numbers. In 2014- the low water mark for knife crime, the number of police officers had already been reduced by 10,000.

Then we come to the infamous stop and search issue. According to the Metropolitan Police, there has been a drop in stop and searches since 2017 to 8,500 in February 2018. So far things are pretty clear. If you reduce stop and search then knife crime increases. But don’t jump to conclusions yet! The vast majority of stop and searches (6000) result in ‘No Further Action’ (NFA). In fact, the London boroughs that are the most targeted for stop and search have the largest number of NFA outcomes. If stop and search were effective then the boroughs that were the most targeted should not top the list of boroughs were NFA is the most common result of those searches. Clearly stop and search is not the solution to this problem.

As a libertarian, I naturally don’t want to see the government ploughing vast sums of money into the police force. However, I also hate the idea of our streets not being safe. Of course, overall numbers of police officers will make some difference to crime. But we all should know by now that it is not the whole story. Many of the suggestions of measures that could be taken to reduce the tragic events that have occurred over the past week make vague references to helping communities and access to services. There has been a lot of nonsense said but there are some important grains of truth.

There is a real danger here that the government in response to the pressure it is under decides to pass some ham-fisted legislation restricting access to knives that will have no real impact on the level of crime but make the lives of ordinary people much more difficult. Similarly, in response to media coverage police forces may stage a staged ‘crackdown’.

Tackling knife crime (and youth crime generally) can be reduced to two things; opportunities and education. The things that actually do seem to have an impact on knife crime is quality of education and economic prospects. In other words, a system that values these young people as individuals and takes their potential economic contributions seriously. Clearly blanket legislation or an injection of funding will not solve this problem.

 

Be more kind to people you disagree with

In this live recorded video Frank Turner explains why he wrote “Be More Kind”. This is the title song of his new album so clearly something he cares about deeply. Before singing, he explains that people in the UK have reached a point where they take pride in not listening to what the other side have got to say. Well, we have first hand experience of this here and the effect it has, so here is the song:

Here are the most relevant lyrics posted, as posted by Airborne Azza on the Vevo version of the song on YouTube:

In a world that has decided that it’s going to lose its mind
Be more kind, my friends, try to be more kind

They’ve started raising walls around the world now
Like hackles raised upon a cornered cat
On the borders in our heads between things that can and can’t be said
We stopped talking to each other and there’s something wrong with that

So before you go out searching, don’t decide what you will find
Be more kind, my friends, try to be more kind

It’s a brave new kindergarten world

2018 has been a horrific year for freedom of speech. This statement does not come lightly or without backup, the Joint Committee on Human Rights reports the worrying dwindling of acceptance of unpopular ideas and controversial ideas in Universities in Britain. In the past few weeks, Antifa has stormed a panel in King’s College London, alt-right speakers have had their entrances barred from the UK, one for life, as in the case of Lauren Southern. Jacob Rees-Mogg was engulfed in a heated brawl with protesting students, upping the notch in Bristol.

The academic medium has rapidly increased its watch and control over ideas, with “ifs” and “buts” to free speech. With safe-spaces and violent riots to shut down speakers of “controversial ideas” such as Milo Yannopolous and Jordan Peterson. Hiding behind masked children shouting the ideals of safe-spaces, continuously dividing and polarising what should be a learning experience to individuals able to cope with opposing opinions. Universities, and indeed, any learning institution, are not places where your beliefs or feelings are reinforced, they are and should be challenged, mostly changed, and both require the shedding of old ideas. Learning is a painful process, it is the death of an old concept and the birth of a new one. This is not what is currently taking place in institutions trusted to do so.

These events combined with Facebook leaks and Russian diplomatic conflicts escalating, bring an enormous feeling of 1984’s Big Brother and “war is peace”. I am watching the landscape closely, trying to connect the dots. What are we playing at? Is politically correct the real-life Double Speak? Erm, yes. Is Russia the new war to keep us at peace? Possibly. But is this, also, a Brave new world? I surely hope not.

Growing up, I was constantly challenged, both by being a lot younger than my siblings and by my beloved father, who I consider the person responsible for planting the seed of philosophy in me. He would never allow me to simply take on ideas, to be engaged with things which I did not think thoroughly, but mostly he showed me the world was not my play room, it wasn’t safe, nor should it be. How do you become stronger if you are in a stable safe environment? How do you even try?

You raise your kids to face their own challenges and adapt, develop, evolve. This is how we conquered the planet as a species, we battled ruthless conditions to thrive, fighting with teeth and nails to survive, to grant a future, to make descendants better than us. Evolution took us from animal to responsible modern-day adults, and we are now trying to take a step back. Cowering into rooms where you are always right, and no difficult, challenging situations may be presented to confront your feelings. We could be entering the kindergarten era.
From strict societies where honour, bravery, responsibility, were taken so seriously that deviant individuals were ostracised, western civilisation took a dip into the teenager’s decades of tearing down its own constructs. The last century was marked by individuals challenging everything from religion to roles, as adolescents do. Causing outrage, offence to older generations, youth undressed the 20th Century into something new, but nothing of what was expected. We are now forcefully forsaking freedom for safety, as if we are toddlers, being left comfortably in a kindergarten, with a big nanny, the state.

The mass delusion of a safe-pace-world seems to be taking hold through the academic medium, where we form tomorrow’s thinkers and leaders. Rights to the left, rights to the right. Yet the more rights they give, the less freedom we have. The withering of free speech starts with an “if”.

The State of Internationalism

Internationalism has been an important part of our modern worldview. Behind Syria, Russia, North Korea and the fight against international terrorism is the belief that the basis for a successful solution to these problems is cooperation between nations.

The belief that the ‘international community’ should roll up their collective sleeves and sort these issues out is understandable. After the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the USSR many people thought that things were going to get much better. Being born in the same year that the USSR crumbled. I grew up with a firm belief that there was this entity called the international community that could and would shape the world for the better.

Yet for the past decade, the trust that nations can come together and address the toughest problems we face has begun to disintegrate. The rise of China to great power status, the disaster of the Iraq War and Putin’s defiantly ‘east vs west’ stance have all contributed to the sense that the international community is now just a meaningless buzz word.

On the face of it this seems like a silly thing to say. The cooperation between different countries is perhaps greater now than it ever has been. Surely we should not let very public spats between the likes Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un hide the fact that the world is more interconnected than at any time in human history?

Yet, in a more profound way the internationalist dream is decaying rapidly. The philosophical ideal that nations (particularly America) should nurture peace and cooperation amongst other countries rightly causes eyes to roll these days. Most people no longer seriously expect countries to act outside of their own self-interest. Let’s take Syria as an example. Since the Syrian Civil War has begun there have been repeated cries for the international community to get involved and stop the carnage. But nobody has. For the helpless families living amongst the rubble of Aleppo and Ghouta the international community must be a sick joke.

That we expect countries to act in their own self-interest and not out of devotion to some ‘international brotherhood’ ideal should perhaps be a cause for celebration. The current conception of worldwide cooperation is a toothless facade of empty words and meaningless agreements. Perhaps out of the decay of the current internationalism a less fawning, more practical and directed spirit of cooperation can emerge.

To do this our politicians will need to face up to the cold realities of global politics. Profit and self-interest drive people; not goodwill. Sometimes there are people who cannot be helped, regardless of what is happening to them. Lastly, dressing up naked aggression in the guise of international brotherhood should no longer be tolerated.

Internationalism based on these principles might form the basis for a more sustainable path.

Is the EU broke without our money ?

The following little nugget about the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) mentioned by no other than Jacob Rees-Mogg in his podcast  – http://bit.ly/2pdWQLz,  but here is the comment that intrigued me:

“For the 21 months remaining of the multiannual financial framework, the EU is bust. It has no legal ability to borrow, and neither do the Germans want to pay more or the Poles wish to receive less.”

This somewhat throw away comment, but it got me thinking.

If the Brexit negotiations are completed by March 2019 for the remaining time after that EU will be broke without our money – and don’t forget we were a fairly large contributor the last time this happened.

When crunch time comes will the EU really have to consider how they want to treat the UK as we leave the EU. The Commission will want the UK’s money – but let’s be honest most governments like more money. The EU still wants our money but we should not want to hand it over too quickly.

In 12 months time, the EU negotiators will be in a bind. Negotiating with the UK, that wants frictionless access to the single market, not to mention pressures from the City to retain passporting for its financial services.

However, the EU is hamstrung by other EU nations stating that they will not contribute more to the EU budget and most importantly Ireland not wanting a border on the mainland. The UK may have time on their side to bring the EU to a budgetary brink and avoid overpaying on the divorce bill.

With a backdrop President Trump talking about tariffs. How does it look to the rest of the world the EU has pushed tariffs on goods coming in from Britain. They would lose some of their credibility when they complain of others doing it to them. As I said in my last post, if free trade is advantageous, then it is not only advantageous within the EU it is advantageous to trade with the world.

Could we see a shut down of the EU? Similar to what happens in Washington when budgets cannot be passed. We have not seen it happen in the history of the EU yet. This situation would reflect badly on the EU. Something that they would want to avoid…..tick-tock.

The EU could bridge the gap by cutting costs, this will not be popular with the EU commission or bureaucrats as it lessens both their power and prestige. Although the Germans along with more fiscally prudent partners will prefer this option. Those on the receiving end of the budget will no doubt prefer to have richer countries contribute more ensuring that they get the same payments to which they have become accustomed. The electorate across Europe have been overwhelmingly been voting for eurosceptic parties.  It’s going to be difficult to convince such countries to send more money to the EU, especially when bashing the EU has been profitable to parties such as AfD (Alternative for Germany),  Lega Nord (Northern League – Italy), FPO (Freedom Party of Austria). Whoever is in power in these countries will be well aware of this broad (beyond left and right) feeling of resentment towards the EU.

Another option that could raise revenues is by levelling fines on companies that trade within the EU. In case you think this is a far-fetched idea,  just have look at the following graph which shows how large the recent Google fine is compared to other countries contributions to the EU.

This is not good fiscal policy in the long run for the EU. But for the UK if we are nimble enough, this is an opportunity for us being outside of the EU jurisdiction, companies could base themselves here in the UK knowing that they are next to a very large European market. Another option for European companies would be to base themselves in the UK knowing that they would be free of some of the impositions of the EU and outside of it customs area too. The UK could well be used as a base for European companies to trade outside of the EU with greater ease. We could position ourselves as the Singapore of Europe if there was the political will to do so.

With the mantra of the negotiations being “Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed”, UK negotiators to play the long game of chicken to the very end. Withholding money to the last moment will allow it to be in the strongest bargaining position.

First posted on stopflyingtheflag.com

Be grateful for capitalism, not apologetic

The 60’s and 70’s were years where Freedom, Equality and the Deconstruction of societal dogmas were fought for by the youth, with their hippie clothes and hobo hairs. An absolutely colourful birth to open hedonism and nihilism. The criticism and the pulling apart of old traditions and rules is not to be met with mere disdain, we do need to destroy the old before we can replace it with the new, like phoenixes, the old burns to give rise to the new. How much do we need to burn, though ? Have we not challenged most, if not all, of our society’s common grounds? Have we not “opened” our minds enough to understand that human beings are individuals with a plethora of good and bad features accompanying each of our characteristics? Do we need to destroy our world and burn it to the ground so much so that we need group identities to guide us? It seems to be the current trend.

A grudge against the world humanity has built and our way of existence has been growing and brewing in the back stage for many years now, mainly in the academic medium, where a loud desire for the obliteration of our ways of living has been driving young people into alienation and a screaming sense of guilt for alleged privileges granted to some but not others. Reading this might bring some to think I have been exaggerating the issue, as one does, to illustrate the case. Sadly I am not. This grudge grows louder every day.

Last week I woke up to this article by the New York Times shared on social media, where the call for Millennials to “destroy us” a.k.a. Western Civilization is the . My disbelief and disgust only grew as I scrolled through this call for youngsters to “Rid the world of all our outmoded opinions, vestigial prejudices and rotten institutions”.

The author comes down on how corrupt the system is, with lobbyists and senators being called “cheesy TV spokesmodels for murder weapons”, yet he wants civilians to give their self-defence up to this very same system. Through to the last paragraph, one might even see the article as a naïve, good-hearted person’s plea for change for the better, but upon reading the closing argument, one can clearly see the author’s agenda, the destruction of everything we have achieved as a society, the demonizing of achieved human progress and the begrudging of our existence and freedom of opinions. While positioning himself falsely as one of the ones to be destroyed by his ego-inflated, pep-talked Millennials, the author clearly distinguishes and distances himself from the “us” as often as possible. The agenda behind this article isn’t very camouflaged, as throughout the whole written piece, the writer shows many signs of despise, resentment, wishing for either his own doom with the generation he shows so much dislike for, or for the sparing of himself while destroying everything that enabled his existence and thriving so far.

A few minutes after the indigestion caused by the article, I came across a Jordan Peterson video, calling out this very issue of the destruction of Western Culture by the Neo-Marxist movement. The hatred portrayed for our current status as human beings and capitalism as well as social conservatism is latent and anything considered traditional and old, is immediately categorized as bad, evil, oppressing, “Post Modernism doesn’t have a shred of gratitude”. Dr Peterson makes a very strong point on how this ingratitude is present and pathological in our society, the growing resentment driven by propaganda dominating and steering minority groups.

We strive for the new and hope for youth to represent hope for emerging advancements to our world. Peterson also poses questions as to when we need to stop deconstructing everything just for the sake of doing it, and exposes facts showing that human life has never thrived so much as it does with capitalism, blamed for everything from world hunger to obesity and oppression.

Doctor Peterson, perhaps unknowingly, lays out the problems libertarians would need to overcome themselves before reaching the potential for a libertarian society. One very highlighted message is : stop apologising for your views. The bearing of one’s responsibilities before trying to save the world is a core libertarian principle, one that liberals like to point out as selfish and egotistical. This generation prides itself on Fair Trades, Social Justice, and yet fails to decide on useful careers, or get their own lives together. The dissonant cognition spreads through the hoards, turning heads to issues way above their capacities, making believe that being activists for major causes is way more noble than getting one’s own $%*# together. Freedom of speech has been compromised in order not to hurt feelings, facts are being demonized because of alleged oppression, logic is thrown out of the window, as it is now, a tool of the elite to spread propaganda. Peterson has been involved in unbelievable controversy, by pointing out rules that were considered very common knowledge to past generations. And for libertarians, this is great!

The good doctor has also been categorical in clearing capitalism from the shades thrown by the left, explaining how inequality is present in every society, following closely a Pareto distribution, as do uncountable other systems in our reality. Even though Dr Peterson tries to distance himself from political labels, he strongly condemns identity politics, post-modernism and neo-Marxism, as he would describe the world’s new left. By doing this, while being very open to dialogue and very consistent in his message, Dr Peterson is leaving a very clear path for future libertarians : be responsible, get yourself together before you point fingers at the world, try to thrive, live your life in a way to lessen your own suffering. Once you have yourself covered, if your peers do to, society will work. This is Libertarianism. This is how a libertarian society would work.

The generation of free love, ended up giving birth to a generation of soft, easily offended and self-forsaking youth. The lack of purpose, the deconstructed reality and hollow existence led to nihilism and profound sense of meaningless. Meaningless in one’s own life leaves behind a void to be filled with virtue signalling, useful idiots make for great authoritarian pawns. We are part of an evolving society, built on for millennia and assured by its advancement through the scaffolding of storytelling (religion) and tradition. Let’s hope for a generation that can develop and break through it, instead of breaking it.

On Joining The Anti-Anti-Fascist Club

So by now you will have read that I attended the Sargon of Akkad vs Yaron Brook debate held a week ago last Monday. This event was violently interrupted by “Anti-Fascist” thugs, incited, encouraged, co-ordinated and assisted by the leaderships of several left-wing student societies affiliated to Kings College London Student Union. At least one of the participants has since been elected to a paid position within KCLSU, according to reports.

Our meeting this evening March 13th will provide an opportunity to hear from the primary victims of that trespass, the KCL Libertarian Society, but there were many more people affected. 200 non-student guests never made it into the University. I am one of those 200, and I wanted to reflect on what Antifa’s actions have meant to me.

Before I dive into that, here is the version of the event video which was eventually recorded in an office nearby.

As you can see, this is nothing to get to emotional about, let alone violent. It is completely devoid of any content you could label “fascist”. What did they think they were doing?

Well, what they did do is barge aggressively into the Strand campus, clad in black and dropping smoke bombs. They leapt the barrier and tackled the lobby security, broke through that cordon, tackled other security deeper inside the building, smashing glass and injuring security staff and then, as instructed by protesters inside the event space, they went to the stage and attempted the theft of the microphones. The fire alarm had gone off, and we were all told to leave.

Instant Initiation into a new Club

The effect of all that drama upon the audience was instantaneous, We went from a fragmented bored huddle staring into our separate smart phones, into a united team of jeering and angry opponents. People were chanting in unison after just a few iterations “fuck antifa” and “left wing lies people die” were the slogans du jour.

I was honestly bemused for while. I fumbled for cameras that I had just put away while my eyes darted around like a crazy person to take in the whole scene. I recall the chants and jeers included a lot of foul language. I pulled a Captain America and scolded my teammates: “we are better than them, we can be polite and still win”. Instantly I noticed that double “we” – we had indeed all become team mates. We were still strangers, but now we were all on the same side, at least for the moment.

The people I had been standing next to, now not to be seen, were Libertarian Home regulars and we had picked out a pub to head to since to watch the delayed (in fact cancelled) live stream. As we were herded out by security I shouted out the name of the pub, someone further ahead shouted out directions to get there. We were coordinating, we were co-operating. Antifa did that, we effectively had no choice in the matter.

Many decided to wait around outside the venue, but after a while people began arriving at the pub. Having had difficultly being served, I popped back out to find out what was going on and to talk to the police. By the time I got back, more people had turned up and it was possible to be served. I sat down with the others, feeling entirely welcome. We swapped videos of the violence and introduced ourselves. Three beers later we had swapped ancient war stories, shared our opinions of feminism and immigration, and we all knew each other’s names. I didn’t agree with half of them on immigration, but I had listened and they had listened to me. It was very civilised, in fact I’d say we had had fun. A year from now, I fully expect to hear of friendships born of this turmoil and this sense of comradery.

For a while, nothing else matters

My reason for going to the debate in the first places was to discover what all this fuss was over Sargon of Akkad. The fuss I had seen emanated from organisers, not Antifa. But the negative coverage, some of which was outright libellous from what I could tell, had hardened my resolve to go and make my own mind up. I was on a mission to judge Sargon.

If antifa’s goal was to make me judge Sargon negatively they didn’t get what they wanted. In fact my curiosity about Sargon was suspended for the whole week. In the meantime, I was simply an enemy of Antifa and was very focused on that task. I was following all the updates, watched the scenes inside and out from several angles, shared thoughts on how criminal proceedings might go, discussed the PMA1908,  looked over the opposition Facebook events and organised tonight’s meetup. Sargon did not matter, not yet. My team (KCL Libertarians and my new friends from the foyer) had been censored by violent, lying idiots. That needed attention, urgently – Antifa had forced me to oppose Antifa.

Resuming the process of judging Sargon took a mental effort, a conscious decision to refocus. I had lost a lot of time to the anti-antifa stuff but I resumed the Sargon investigation while on the loo, and listened to his videos while working – I found the time.

Curiouser and Curiouser

Once refocused on the question of who Sargon was I was inevitably more positive in my pre-dispositions. I had actually briefly met Sargon on the way in and found the man and the scene refreshingly pleasant and positive. The contrast between Sargon and his fans, and Antifa and their co-conspirators was stark to put it mildly.

I am now two parts into his series “Why does everyone hate feminism” and have found only a few seconds of footage in that series to be even controversial, let alone disagreeable, the rest is largely obvious. In other words, I am now focused on a part of Sargon’s message and output that I am not sure I would have bothered with without Antifa. I am finding I agree with most of what I have consumed so far and Sargon is not even close to fascist, or racist and what he does criticise is more well-researched than much of the internet. I am likely to keep watching to satisfy myself that I’m sure of what I’m talking about, but I don’t expect many surprises.

This is not just a failure for Antifa, this is a move in entirely the opposite direction of what Antifa seemed to intend. Are Antifa really so stupid that they did not predict any of the above? Perhaps they are, or perhaps they are not. KCL have already clamped down on other controversial events, the organisers are already suffering as a result. Perhaps Antifa’s strategy is working just fine.