Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Giles Fraser

Giles Fraser: Families for Brexit, “the ability to stay put and care for each other.”

with 12 comments

Said to be Featuring on “This Time with Alan Partridge”.

“….one of the most common—and strangest—ideas found in the Labour-left anti-Market movement was that of Europe’s being somehow more capitalist in nature than Great Britain and the British State.”

Tom Nairn.  The Left Against Europe. 1972. New Left Review. 1/75.

In Nairn’s 1972 broadside against the nationalist anti-EU left, he cited the German sociologist, Ferdinand Tönnies.

Tönnies was concerned to define and contrast two ‘ideal types’ of human society. Society typified by Gemeinschaft or community is natural human society, founded upon the ties of family, kinship, shared labour and territory. It is based on ‘naturally rooted’ relationships, which issue in instinctively accepted common customs and traditions, and are voiced in a natural language or ‘mother-tongue’. Natural community is in this sense the village, the society of a stable neighbourhood—at most, that of a small town. It is rural rather than urban. It is (like the family) not necessarily democratic, and relies on common experience and shared values to balance its inequalities. It rests upon ‘natural will’ (Wesenwille) expressive of real human nature, and laws ‘in which human beings are related to each other as natural members of a whole’. Gemeinschaft stands (so to speak) for the concrete and personal, the ‘fully human’, as against the abstract and impersonal; for habit and instinct, as against artifice and calculation; for the close, the familiar, the inherited, as against the remote, the intrusive novelty, the alien way of life; for the tribe, as against the metropolis.

This is contrasted with “Gesellschaft” in which (as the common definition goes) “relationships arose in an urban and capitalist setting, characterised by individualism and impersonal monetary connections between people. Social ties were often instrumental and superficial, with self-interest and exploitation increasingly the norm.”

Nairn, who was to pay his own penance on the road to a nationalist Canossa, continued.

The politically crucial point is the identification of romantic Gemeinschaft with the nation. This, surely, is the shared terrain of the left and right wing oppositions to Europe.

Echoes of this distinction can be found in the present Brexit literature, Roger Scruton’s contrast between the impersonal rationalist European law, and the organic British common law, and  Maurice Glasman’s Blue Labour (which re-teweeted the above and published Fraser, Giles Fraser on People’s Vote: what will they say to Walsall’s people?)

Blue Labour ‘s ideas include the following:

The family is the fundamental social institution. It nurtures us from the start of our lives. It is where we learn about love, relationships, and the give and take needed to live good lives. Inspired by the effort of feminism to broaden our idea of worthwhile work, Blue Labour recognises the struggle families face to combine work and car

We want Britain to be a nation of energetic cities, towns and villages, each of which is free to develop its distinct identity. When people feel rooted they can achieve their potential; if power is dispersed, we have the freedom to take greater responsibility for our communities.

The eminent Germanist and thinker Giles Fraser is, in his spare time, a  Canon and Vicar of St Mary’s Newington. 

Fraser’s  political career spans backing for Occupy! at Saint Pauls, floating the idea of a new party, or not (Liberalism has broken us – we need a new party to call Home) and a friendly visit to Syria:

We need to talk about Giles, as a well established rumour has it that he will appear on next week’s Alain Patridge Show.

The priest in residence at Unherd, begins his latest missive.

Why won’t Remainers talk about family?

Last week the Evening Standard – now, of course, a propaganda rag for George Osborne’s Remain-inspired end-of-the-world fearmongering – led with the following front-page headline: “Who’ll look after our elderly post Brexit, ask care chiefs”.

I’m still spitting blood at the arrogance and callousness of that question. It summed up all that I have against the Osborne neoliberal (yes, that’s what it is) world-view. And why I am longing for a full-on Brexit – No Deal, please – to come along and smash the living daylights out of the assumptions behind that question.

Skipping the immediately following ill-wrought paragraph, which include a swipe at Luciana Berger, we come to this.

Fraser opines,

This is the philosophy that preaches freedom of movement, the Remainers’ golden cow. And it is this same philosophy that encourages bright working-class children to leave their communities to become rootless Rōnin, loyal to nothing but the capitalist dream of individual acquisition and self-advancement.

From where I was sitting it is these people – and not George Osborne swanning off to his new £3 million chalet in Verbier – that have got it right. For the attraction of socially conservative and traditional values are that they constitute a highly successful form of mutual care. Indeed, these are the values that have formed the basis for the most effective form of social security the world has even known: family and community life.

The idea that this form of life constitutes “lost earnings” shows how far the Remainer free-market, free-movement philosophy is a threat to the web of support on which the poorer and the most vulnerable especially, have to rely. Remain is all about ever new opportunities for the rich. Brexit seeks a reclamation of something we have lost. The ability to stay put and care for each other.

There is a short response by Steve Peers on the issue of the family:

Family values and Brexit: a reply to Giles Fraser

Fraser’s argument – such as it is – is that children should look after their parents as they get older. To that end, interspersed with three random anecdotes, he criticises “that much over praised value of social mobility”.  The problem is people leaving their communities, in particular in the form of free movement within the EU. But furthermore “it is this same philosophy that encourages bright working-class children to leave their communities to become rootless Rōnin”. I was the first Peers in a thousand generations to be able to go to university. And it seems Fraser would like me to be the last.

In his view, “No amount of economic growth is worth sacrificing all this for”, because “robbed of their most go-ahead young people, working class communities become ghost towns of hopelessness. And this nirvana of social immobility takes a very familiar form: “It is the daughter of the elderly gentleman that should be wiping his bottom”. The rich man in his castle; the poor woman at her picket fence.

The blindingly obvious omission here is that EU membership enhances family reunion for those who exercise the right to free movement. There’s a right of admission for spouses, children under 21 or dependent, and dependent parents or parents-in-law. This literally matches the extended family in one of Fraser’s anecdotes (and see the actually relevant anecdote of how free movement can facilitate care for elderly parents here). The EU withdrawal agreement would preserve this position in a limited form, but the position would be more difficult for families in the no deal outcome that Fraser says he longs for. As for future relationships, while some people will still move between the UK and EU, family reunion rights will be more restrictive, not less. With friends like Fraser, family values don’t need any enemies.

More vehemently,

A shit argument for Brexit 

The broader point Giles was trying to make, the one I am struggling to get to through the crap, is that freedom of movement breaks down families because it makes it easier for people to move away. There was of course not the slightest recognition in his piece that ending freedom of movement breaks up families. Neither was there any awareness that the Brexit fetishisation of tackling immigration has led to thousands of children being separated from a parent, many thousands of spouses separated from their significant other, countless grandparents separated from their grandchildren.

But no, in Brexitland we can all be stuck in the towns and villages of our birth, trapped by a lack of opportunities and the newly valueless nature of a British passport. And then we’ll be able to wipe our parents’ backsides when they become frail and incontinent because the arse has been ripped out of social care services by the very same right wing politicians who are so keen to foist the hardest possible Brexit upon us.

Brexit supporters once promised us the sunlit uplands. They promised shedloads of cash for the NHS. Now they’re reduced to making the argument that suffering is good for us, that we should be nostalgic for antiquated gender roles, and telling us to restrict our horizons and not to dare to dream of spreading our wings and flying.  Now they’re reduced to sophistry and telling us that Brexit is good for you because you too can get to wipe the arse of an infirm relative. Giles’ article is quite literally and in every sense of the word, the shittiest of arguments for the shitshow of Brexit.

Apart from being fucking well said, this should put an end to all the gobshite about a Hard Brexit Britain being some cosy Gemeinschaft.

Advertisements

Written by Andrew Coates

February 23, 2019 at 12:48 pm

Giles Fraser, The Poet of Brexit, Shreds Liberals’ “grin of intellectual superiority.”

with 5 comments

Image result for poor but loyal

“Why do Remainers find it impossible to consider the possibility that some people were prepared to accept a relatively poorer country as a price worth paying for a more independent one?” Giles Fraser.

This approaches the heart of the matter. Rensin argues that what is often behind liberal smugness is the philosophical assumption that the difference between people politically is always a difference of knowing various facts, not a difference of ideology. This is the problem with the empiricist approach to politics: the fact-based assessments and belief that evidence only should drive our disagreements. For when fact-based empiricism comes to dominate the cultural and intellectual apparatus of the liberal world-view, then it can only be a knowledge of the facts that divides people.

This is where progressive smugness comes from: the idea that I know stuff that you do not. It is not that we disagree ideologically, because ideology is dead. All that is left is facts and knowing facts. And either you know the facts or you don’t. And we do. And you don’t.

When it comes to Brexit – as with Thomas Frank and Kansas – it is widely insisted upon that no one could possibly have voted against their own economic interests knowingly. No one voted to be poorer, Anna Soubry told the Commons in an impassioned speech last week. The argument goes on thus: because Brexit will make us poorer, the Brexit-voting working class cannot have known what they were doing. So either they are stupid or (which amounts to the same thing) easily manipulated by the dark forces of those who do have much to gain.

But what if people did indeed think that there was something about Brexit that was more important that GDP? Why is it impossible to consider that possibility, that some people were indeed prepared to accept a relatively poorer country as a price worth paying for a more independent one? That some things are more important than money?

What middle-class liberals really do need to appreciate is that the difference between their perspective and that of the Trump supporter or the Brexiter is not one of ignorance of facts, but one of basic philosophy. It is not a mistake or ignorance that other people want to live in a very different world with very different values.

The smug sneer that progressives direct towards those who are “too stupid to know what is in their best interest” is premised upon a massive misreading of the situation. The Trump supporter and the Brexiter – and yes, of course I generalise – has a different philosophical perspective. Ideology has not gone away. It has returned in popular form. And that grin of intellectual superiority only feeds the opposition to the liberal perspective.

Indeed.

The material power of Brexit ideology:

 

One could remark that one thing that the British radical left opponents of Brexit and supporters of a People’s Vote are not is ‘liberals’, either economically or socially. Tolerance, to start with, does not include putting up with the intolerable, or being silent about the intolerant.

Democratic socialism  is a very different animal to US progressivism. Issues of poverty and class are not, from this standpoint, submerged under “meritocracy” “equal opportunity”  and “diversity”.

But there are more pressing issues.

In the less exalted world, also enlivened by a poetry,  where economics and Gradgrind Facts matter,

Brexit Is Dying. Time For A People’s Vote

The depth of the UK’s ties with, indeed dependence on, EU trade for its economic vitality was and is too great. Imports and exports are a crucial component of the UK economy – and over 50% of these involve the EU. By imposing barriers on trade with the UK’s largest market, Parliament would be inflicting a negative supply shock upon the economy, with ruinous effects for incomes, living costs, and the competitiveness of business. Many Brexiteers insist this would propel the UK to invest in markets further afield – but it is an economic fantasy, detached from the realities of geography, supply and demand.

Then what alternative? In the interest of addressing their own internal expediencies, the major parties have been flagrantly irresponsible, explaining neither the unattainability of a Hard Brexit nor the destructiveness to the UK’s international influence of its various softer alternatives. Though rarely mentioned publicly, the truth is common knowledge among the majority of MPs: no success may be made of Brexit.

Therefore, the possibility of No Brexit, via a second referendum, must be put back on the table. The deal that Theresa May, or another leader, negotiates with the EU must be explained to the public, its benefits and costs set against those of remaining an EU member. Let the choice be clearly laid out: the negotiated deal vs no Brexit at all. A People’s Vote may produce the same result as in 2016. But let it, this time at least, be a vote grounded in clarity of meaning and direction. Let the people make this last decision, for the political class is too divided and the future too precious. It is not too late to turn Brexit around. Indeed, failure to pursue the possibility, given what is at stake, would be an historic error. Else, the UK – divided, directionless and isolated – will continue on its present dangerous course, worryingly evocative of Edwin J. Milliken’s great poem ‘The Clattering Train’ (1890), which might now be adapted thus:

Who is in charge of the clattering train?

The axles creak and the couplings strain;

The pace is hot and the points are near;

And sleep hath deadened the driver’s ear;

Signals flash through the night in vain…

But who can now stop the clattering train?

 

World Cup: “Pure Patriotic Ecstasy” Spreads to Giles Fraser.

with 3 comments

 

Image result for giles fraser football

Cleric Giles Fraser: in “pure patriotic ecstasy”.

Some people read the future of today’s Cabinet meeting in taxi  phone numbers and train time-tables.

Others will pontificate on global warming at the opening of a tin of baked beans.

But nothing, absolutely nothing, brings out the worst in commentators than waffling about the political and cultural implications of the World Cup and the English team.

A whiff of victory and they’re all over the players’ aprons.

A couple of days ago Counterfire published this, sub specie eternal cultural studies bore,

Success for England will mean what we make it mean

Mark Perryman.

A popular Left politics must surely connect with such episodes as metaphor, to translate what we see on the pitch into the changes beyond the touchline we require to become a more equal society. So here’s my maxim for Jeremy Corbyn and his colleagues. If Labour cannot explain the meaning of the World Cup why should I listen to what the party has to tell me on how they’re going to fix the mess the NHS is in? Not the flimsy populism of Blair when he adopted the ‘Labour’s Coming Home’ message after England’s last tournament semi, Euro ‘96, but a political practice rooted in popular culture because here, more than anywhere else, ideas are not only formed, but also changed.

Perryman has an  admirer in the highest ranks of the Clergy who picked up on this passage.

But the point is that a St George Cross draped in the colours of multiculturalism has at least the potential for the beginnings of a journey away from racism. It has a reach and symbolism like no other, touching the parts of a nation’s soul no anti-racist placard thrust in our faces is ever going to. This is the meaning of modern football and when England begin to scale the heights of 2018 World Cup ambition the reach of that message is amplified still further on a scale and in a manner that ’66 could never have done, and ’90 barely began.

It’s Prelate Pontificus Maximus Giles Fraser:

In that moment of pure patriotic ecstasy, the pub seemed united in an unusually intimate form of togetherness. After all that, Neil and I had a rather messy argument about Brexit. “If we win the World Cup, Theresa May will call an early election,” someone else suggested. Then we all drank up and staggered home.

What we think about patriotism positions us squarely on possibly the moral question of our day. From Brexit to Trump, from Hungary to Israel, the question of putting our country first has a divisive feel that enrages liberals and internationalists. Because when it comes to patriotism, what liberals understand to be a defining feature of proper moral reasoning, communitarians think of as a vice. And what communitarians think of as an essential aspect of a flourishing moral community, liberals think of as bigotry.

The Cannon adds is some stuff about (former International Socialist)  Alasdair MacIntyre, if anybody can be bothered to read his half digested reflections.

Let us end with this:

For communitarians, my hugging the fat English stranger (steady down Padre!) , my “Come on En-ger-land” at top volume, are crucial to our morality solidarity. And it’s just the same with my mate Emilliano shouting for Colombia over in the Elephant shopping centre.

And this,

The problem, of course, is that what MacIntyre and I (Note: on the basis of one essay written long ago),  consider moral solidarity, liberals think of as prejudice, even proto-fascism. And what liberals call morality, communitarians view as a dangerous dilution of moral solidarity. And there, in a nutshell, are the culture wars that presently divide us.

After Virtue me old cock!

Giles Fraser, Guardian Columnist and radical Priest attacks “Cosmopolitans” and calls for New Patriotic Party – “Home”.

with 8 comments

Image result for giles fraser

Giles Fraser: Fighting “Rootless Cosmopolitans”. 

Clergyman Giles Fraser is a bit of character.

During his time at St Paul’s – as Canon – he backed the Occupy! movement.

More recently he has embarked on a journey which began with his studies of Nietzsche, then passed through his staunch denunciation of the ‘atheist’ French revolution, and, above all, Charlie Hebdo, who misused freedom as “white atheists to sneer at non-white believers”.

Then he attacked the “The oppressive individualism of human rights.

As you do.

Pride is not normally considered a Christian virtue, but this has not stopped our Padre this week from terminating his voyage with his very own proud call for a new political party.

He begins with this lament for the past.

The Labour party began as a party for the working class, reflecting the patriotic communitarian commitments of working class people. Many who were not themselves working class were attracted to its values of fairness and social solidarity.

But towards the back end of the 20th century, the party was increasingly taken-over by those who espoused a cosmopolitan and liberal philosophy of individualism that was too relaxed about the effect of market forces and indifferent to the importance of communal life.

There was a dangerous hubris about the way liberals accepted no limit to individual self-assertion. Under the banner of progress and spreading liberal values, we invaded Iraq and brought the world to the very edge of another world war.

Enough is enough. It’s time for a new political party. My one would be called Home. It wants a United Kingdom that is generous at home and reluctant to intervene abroad.

Liberals, human rights – all vanity.

In touch with Twilight of the Gods Fraser has thus spake.

Let’s Concentrate on Home

Home is a party that accepts we are no longer a global power. The empire is long behind us, and, therefore, we do not need an expensive global military to go with it. We would immediately cancel Trident and substantially reduce our budget for the armed forces. We will be extremely cautious about foreign military interventions. Withdraw all forces from the Middle East. We need more police and fewer soldiers.

Exit EU, without a deal if necessary: no to the Single Market, no to the Custom’s Union. We must have a home of our own, and others should respect we have our own way of doing things. We need a British Bill of Responsibilities and Rights. The seat of government should move to Manchester during the refurbishment of the Houses of Parliament, and an English Parliament should remain there when the United Kingdom government returns to Westminster.

Home is a patriotic party. Not narrowly nationalist, but nonetheless proud of our heritage. It believes in stable communities, full of people who are very definitely citizens of somewhere. Deracinated cosmopolitanism, and its accompanying philosophy of liberalism, has transformed us into a society of atomised individuals, cut off from each other and ill at ease together. Home is a proposal for the fightback.

Liberalism has broken us – we need a new party to call Home.  7th of June.

This looks, probably because as it is, like 1930s neo-socialism, a half-way house to the nationalist far right.

Fraser is only one anti-EU figures to go in this direction.

Sovereigntism, a “home of our own” is the maison commune of many an anti-globaliser.

Communities, the real destination of the once influential communitarian thought of Michael Sandel and others, end up being exclusionary Nation States for all this fretting Man of the Cloth’s warm words.

Fightback Forsooth!

Rootless Cosmopolitans. 

There are those, less enchanted, and full of resentiment who have picked up on some of his language.

More on HP.

 

Here is a recent example of how Fraser is Beyond Good and Evil.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

June 8, 2018 at 11:37 am

Giles Fraser, former Guardian Columnist and Present Priest of St Mary’s, Newington, Touts for Assad in Syria.

with 8 comments

Image may contain: 2 people, text

Giles Fraser, Vicar, former Guardian Columnist Touts for Assad.

Hat-Tip JP.

This will remind many people of the kind of criminal lies and delusions spread by the fellow travellers of Stalin.

As in  David CauteFellow-Travellers: A Postscript to the Enlightenment,  1973 (revised edition, as The Fellow-Travellers: Intellectual Friends of Communism,  1988.)

He is not alone:  London Times articles about Assadist university professors  Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist)

Fraser has a more recent history of deluded apologies for murder.

2016:

Giles Fraser (Guardian) attacks Charlie Hebdo.

Zineb El Rhazoui, formerly of Charlie Hebdo, “white atheist sneering at non-white believers” says Giles Fraser. 

Giles Fraser is a columnist for the Guardian.

In his spare time he is  parish priest at St Mary’s, Newington.

Giles Fraser does not like French secularism.

He devotes most of his energy to unmasking Republican France’s  “foundation myth”, the “glorious triumph of atheistic rationality over the dangerous totalitarian obscurantism of the Catholic church.” (France’s much vaunted secularism is not the neutral space it claims to be)

During his morning bath Fraser thinks of the Vendée and the Drownings at Nantes (Noyades de Nantes) of refractory clergy.

A walk on the beach sends him musing on the ‘Burkini’.

Passing by a Stationer’s  the Priest considers the shadow of the secularist Guillotine.

It goes without saying that he did and does not like Charlie Hebdo, modern Atheist “Iconoclasts

It is with little surprise that we find that Fraser now manages to drag Charlie into this debate: “Kelvin MacKenzie has been cleared by Ipso over his column on the Channel 4 News presenter. What message does that ruling send?” (Is it ‘open season’ on Muslims, as Fatima Manji suggests? Our panel responds.)

 Fraser comments,

Defending freedom of speech is one thing, but freedom of speech is brought into massive disrepute when it becomes a moral alibi for white atheists to sneer at non-white believers, and Muslims in particular. It was exactly the same with Charlie Hebdo – they hid their racism behind that all-purpose moral pass, freedom of speech. But at least they were equal opportunity offenders – they had a pop at all-comers: Jews, Christians, Muslims.

Racism?

Is Charlie a group of ‘white atheists’?

You mean that anybody criticising Islam gives an “alibi” to ‘racists”?

That Charlie “hid” its racism?

As in the case of this much loved comrade….

Zineb el Rhazoui, Charlie Hebdo survivor, discusses why the world needs to ‘Destroy Islamic Fascism’ (New York Times 18.10.16.)

Undeterred by fatwas and death threats, the author has released an incendiary and thoughtful new book, bound to provoke debate.

She leads a clandestine existence, on the move and under 24-hour guard as France’s most protected woman. Yet Zineb El Rhazoui, the Charlie Hebdo journalist who happened to be in Casablanca on January 7 last year, the day terrorists “avenging the Prophet” massacred nine people at the satirical magazine in Paris, believes she has a duty to defy Islamists desperate to silence her.

Shaken but undeterred by the fatwas and relentless, precise death threats issued via social media to “kill the bitch” since she helped produce the publication’s first survivors’ issue following the attack — and spoke about it in Arabic for the Arab press — the Moroccan-French writer refuses to assume an anonymous identity. Fleeing Paris or abandoning her human rights activism, and her unforgiving critiques of the religion she grew up with, are also out of the question.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 16, 2018 at 11:07 am

Giles Fraser (Guardian) attacks Charlie Hebo – Part 479.

with 4 comments

Zineb El Rhazoui, formerly of Charlie Hebdo, “white atheist sneering at non-white believers” says Giles Fraser. 

Giles Fraser is a columnist for the Guardian.

In his spare time he is  parish priest at St Mary’s, Newington.

Giles Fraser does not like French secularism.

He devotes most of his energy to unmasking Republican France’s  “foundation myth”, the “glorious triumph of atheistic rationality over the dangerous totalitarian obscurantism of the Catholic church.” (France’s much vaunted secularism is not the neutral space it claims to be)

During his morning bath Fraser thinks of the Vendée and the Drownings at Nantes (Noyades de Nantes) of refractory clergy.

A walk on the beach sends him musing on the ‘Burkini’.

Passing by a Stationer’s  the Priest considers the shadow of the secularist Guillotine.

It goes without saying that he did and does not like Charlie Hebdo, modern Atheist “Iconoclasts

It is with little surprise that we find that Fraser now manages to drag Charlie into this debate: “Kelvin MacKenzie has been cleared by Ipso over his column on the Channel 4 News presenter. What message does that ruling send?” (Is it ‘open season’ on Muslims, as Fatima Manji suggests? Our panel responds.)

 Fraser comments,

Defending freedom of speech is one thing, but freedom of speech is brought into massive disrepute when it becomes a moral alibi for white atheists to sneer at non-white believers, and Muslims in particular. It was exactly the same with Charlie Hebdo – they hid their racism behind that all-purpose moral pass, freedom of speech. But at least they were equal opportunity offenders – they had a pop at all-comers: Jews, Christians, Muslims.

Racism?

Is Charlie a group of ‘white atheists’?

You mean that anybody criticising Islam gives an “alibi” to ‘racists”?

That Charlie “hid” its racism?

As in the case of this much loved comrade….

Zineb el Rhazoui, Charlie Hebdo survivor, discusses why the world needs to ‘Destroy Islamic Fascism’ (New York Times 18.10.16.)

Undeterred by fatwas and death threats, the author has released an incendiary and thoughtful new book, bound to provoke debate.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 22, 2016 at 11:30 am

Giles Fraser Exploits Refugees’ Plight to Attack French Secularism.

with 7 comments

Giles Fraser: Exploits Refugees’ Plight to Support Attacks of Secularism. 

One the most tasteless, not to say, repugnant, attempts to make political capital out of the plight of the refugees and migrants  in Calais, has been published

It comes not from the xenophobic right but from the Guardian’s favourite Cleric, . (Thanks: JD)

France’s official blindness to religion only masks religious hatred

why don’t the refugees want asylum in France? One reason is because many of them perceive Britain to have a stronger tradition of religious tolerance than France. And this often surprises the French, because they pride themselves on their much-discussed notion of laïcité – roughly, secularism plus – so sacred a notion that it’s enshrined in article one of the French constitution.

Now it is to expected that a paid employee of a State Church – at  St Mary’s Newington in south London – would defend his source of income. Although no doubt he puts this in the Guardian Register of Ideological Interests one does not notice any parallel effort on his part to draw attention to this privileged place in Britain’s uncodified constitution.

No doubt his mind is on higher things.

Last year Giles Fraser indulged in this rant.

The glorious triumph of atheistic rationality over the dangerous totalitarian obscurantism of the Catholic church is one of the great foundation myths of republican France. And coded within this mythology is the message that liberty, equality, fraternity can flourish only when religion is suppressed from the public sphere. It is worth remembering what this ideological space-clearing involved.

At the end of the 18th century, France’s war against the Catholic church reached its bloody conclusion. By Easter 1794, the same revolution that once proclaimed freedom of conscience had forcedly closed down the vast majority of France’s 40,000 churches. What began with the confiscation of church property and the smashing of crosses and chalices, ended with forced conversions and the slaughter of priests and nuns at the guillotine.

It is in this period, the so-called Reign of Terror, that the modern English word terrorism – deriving from the French terrorisme – has its origins. “Terror is nothing but prompt, severe, inflexible justice; it is therefore an emanation of virtue,” argued Robespierre, in what now sounds like a sick press release from Islamic State. Over in the Vendée, those who remained loyal to their centuries-old faith were massacred in what historian Mark Levene has called “an archetype of modern genocide”. The systematic de-Christianisation of France was not the natural and inevitable collapse of sclerotic religion and the natural and inevitable rise of Enlightenment rationality. It was murderous, state-sponsored suppression.

Guardian. 16.1.15.

This was but the prelude to Fraser displaying unforgiving spite against  our comrades in Charlie Hebdo, “the reason publications such as Charlie Hebdo persist with their crass anti-clerical cliches (where the joke is usually a variation on bishops buggering each other) is that a powerful strain of French self-understanding actually requires a sense of external religious threat against which to frame itself.”

The Tendance replied at the time.

We pointed out the Terror was presided over by Robespierre, who put a stop to “De-Christianisation” declared that “atheism is aristocratic” and tried to create a state cult of the ‘Supreme Being’. We suggested instead of relying on a Clerical Wikipedia he actually read some of the history of the period, which includes conflicts inside the Church – a minority  of which backed the Revolution – and the majority which supported the counter-revolution, which by definition, did not.  We even supplied a short reading list, for the vociferating Vicar to read.

In a  truly atheist spirit we stated that Fraser was speaking gobshite about our Charlie and had spat  on the graves of our beloved martyrs.

Now Gilles  is at it again.

He has yet to tackle that reading list, which would no doubt have disturbed the unfurrowed creases of his brow.

There are indeed no facts, only interpretations.

Secularism is repression.

Laïcité began as justification for eradicating the influence of the Catholic church – and involved the murder of thousands of priests during the revolution. It continues as a cover for discrimination against Muslims.

From the Terror to Discrimination there is but a small step.

It would be interesting to know how the principle of religious neutrality means …religious discrimination.

The one-time Putney Preacher – fond of evoking the Levellers’ Putney debates, perhaps less so on airing the intolerant and bigoted side of the Parliamentary and other Puritans,  makes a further link,

….laïcité is a way of ensuring the state’s systematic blindness when it comes to religion. It is an official pretence not to notice whether or where somebody prays. For its detractors, this supposed neutrality is nothing of the sort, but rather a cover for the eradication of religious visibility, indeed religious rights, from the public sphere. This week, both Amnesty International andHuman Rights Watch condemned the French police’s human rights violations against Muslims.

Perhaps a better way of saying this would be that there is a contradiction between defence of universal human rights in secularism  and the practices of the French state. How can we judge this: by reference to the same universal human rights.

Britain, one assumes because it is not secular, has, apparently a much better human rights record than France.

Fraser unfortunately does not offer evidence of that.

Nor does offer any proof that faith is an issue, rather than, say, the strict regulations that govern French refugee status, and the fact that speaking and learning that language, rather than English, may appear daunting to many.

There is one further  problem with Fraser’s attempts to use other people’s misery for his own ends.

Religiously tolerant Britain – or rather its Government –  is more than reluctant to accept the Calais refugees and migrants

Written by Andrew Coates

February 5, 2016 at 1:42 pm