Bilderberg, Alex Jones, David Icke and UKIP

Martin Rowson cartoon 8.6.2013

I expect, if you read this blog, that you’ll be aware that the 2013 Bilderberg Group meeting took place over the weekend at the Grove hotel in Watford. Only a few years ago, the press were largely denying the existence of the group; this year it has been covered by the Guardian (Martin Rowson’s cartoon from 8.6.2013 shown on left), the Independent, Sky News, the BBC and undoubtedly other outlets. The BBC even had Alex as a guest, although frankly I don’t think he handled it too well (see below). His similar tactics against Piers Morgan in the US were probably better received because many Americans see Morgan as an outsider, but here, Jones was the outsider.

Alex Jones has covered the Bilderberg Group for a long time, and this year travelled to the UK to personally report on the event, and to “bullhorn” the meeting from a barge. He also got to meet David Icke in person for the first time, despite Icke being a frequent guest (via skype) on his daily show. You can watch the interview below.

Don’t forget that in 2001, Alex Jones called Icke a “con man” and the Reptilian thesis as the “turd in the punchbowl” of his otherwise lucid conspiracist research in Jon Ronson’s Secret Rulers of the World documentary series on Channel 4. Interestingly, Icke now seems to be attempting to set up a media operation similar to Jones’.

Another guest to feature on the show was UKIP MEP Gerard Batten (below). Nigel Farage and Lord Monkton have both previously appeared on Jones’ show. Presumably, they are hoping that this exposure will increase their profile internationally through Jones’ considerable US audience, and may even be part of a strategy aimed at creating a broader libertarian network. However, given their recent bullish trajectory in the UK, how wise is it for them to be aligning themselves with someone who has just been called an “idiot” and a “lunatic” on the BBC?

Who thinks Britain should be a Christian country?

(Reblogged from Epiphenom by Tomas Rees:)

 In a speech just before Christmas, the British Prime Minister David Cameron declared that “We are a Christian country and we should not be afraid to say so.” He did go on to accept that it’s OK to have a different religion or even no religion at all, but even so it’s an interesting turn of phrase.
He’s a politician, of course, so it’s clear that he sees some political advantage in making the statement – but just who is he appealing to? After all, religion is pretty unimportant for most British – even the 60-70% who claim to be Christian in some way.

By happy coincidence, recent research by Ingrid Storm at Manchester University has done a neat job in clarifying why some people regard ‘Britishness’ and Christianity to be linked.

She used data from the 2008 British Social Attitudes survey of over 2,200 people, and grouped the responders according to whether they were non-Christian (a mixed bunch of other religions and also non-believers), nominally Christian (those who said they were Christian but also said they went to Church less often than monthly), and observant Christians (those who go to Church at least monthly).

The survey also asks a bunch of questions related to ideas about national identity. Storm use a statistical technique factor analysis) to group these into three categories:

  • Civic-symbolic national identity (people whose sense of national identity is linked to cultural symbols, like the national anthem, sport or ceremonies).
  • Cultural-aesthetic national identity (people whose sense of Britishness is triggered by thoughts of the countryside, or of music, poetry or paintings).
  • Ethnic national identity (people who believe that immigration is a threat to national identity, or that a non-white person cannot be English, Welsh or Scottish).

The first thing that Storm did was to look at how nationalistic each of the three religious groups were. You’ll see from the graph that the non-Christians were the least nationalistic, and the observant Christians were the most nationalistic, at least when it cam to civic and cultural nationalism. Nominal Christians were in between.

The exception was ethnic nationalism. Neither observant Christians nor the non-Christians scored high on this measure, but the nominal Christians did.

In other word, the group most likely to see britishness through an ethnic/racial lens are the people who claim to be Christian, but who don’t actually go to church. The cultural Christians, if you will.

Storm then look at the relationship between these three kinds of nationalism and the belief that “Christianity is important for being truly British”.

The only kind of nationalism that was linked to this belief was ethnic nationalism. This link held even after controlling for factors like belief in god, authoritarianism, and the belief that Muslims do not want to fit in.

What this suggests is that the people who believe that “Christianity is important for being truly British” are also the people who define Christianity in ethnic, rather the spiritual terms. Storm says:

… thinking religion is important for nationality may be more a function of associating religion with ethnic background than of any nostalgia for the cultural heritage of religious symbols, morals and institutions associated with civic-symbolic or cultural-aesthetic national identity. In other words the more one regards immigration as a threat to national identity and thinks of race and ethnicity as important for belonging to the nation, the more one is likely to see Christianity as important for being British.

In other words, by emphasising the importance of Christianity for British identity, Cameron is appealing to the racists, rather than the religious, in his constituency.


ResearchBlogging.org
Storm, I. (2011). Ethnic nominalism and civic religiosity: Christianity and national identity in BritainThe Sociological Review, 59 (4), 828-846 DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-954X.2011.02040.x

Creative Commons LicenseThis article by Tom Rees was first published on Epiphenom. It is licensed underCreative Commons.

Review: Black Sun: Aryan Cults, Esoteric Nazism and the Politics of Identity, by Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke (2002)

Black Sun is the successor to Goodrick-Clarke’s now-classic The Occult Roots of Nazism (1985), which charted the influence of the Volkisch movement and anti-Semitic esoteric groups in the development of Nazi ideology between the world wars. The present volume charts the same currents after the war, particularly among neo-Nazi groups in the US and Europe.

The opening chapters present potted histories of the neo-Nazi scene in the US and the UK, which helpfully set the scene, and outlining the general context of what is to follow. The book then jumps back into some pre-war influences on later neo-Nazism, and these chapters contained the bulk of the most interesting material. These included Italian Futurist and Traditionalist philosopher Julius Ebola, Savitri Devi, who combined Vedic philosophy with a fervent nazism in interpreting Hitler as an avatar of Vishnu and herald of the Kali Yuga, and Chilean diplomat and poet Miguel Serrano, for whom the Aryans were the bearers of light in a Gnostic struggle against the Semitic demiurge. This section also contains detailed accounts of the development of such “occult nazism” narratives as SS missions in Tibet, Nazi contact with extraterrestrials, Vril-powered UFOs and Antarctic U-boat bases concealing entrances to Agartha.

The following chapters detail the emergence of contemporary neo-Nazism among black metal bands and Christian, Pagan and Satanist groups. The final chapter was of particular interest to me, concerning as it did the spread of right-wing and anti-Semitic ideas among conspiracist circles. The chapter focuses on David Icke and Nexus magazine, two regular subjects of my work. He is of particular interest to me in outlining the links between these ostensibly left-wing New Age conspiracists and anti-Semitic right-wing groups. Also of interest is the claim that Icke is not himself anti-Semitic, but is being naively used by anti-Semites as a disseminator for their ideas in a left-wing milieu (292).

Like the preceding book, Black Sun is a masterful piece of historical writing – detailed and thorough without ever being dull, and impartial without glossing over unpleasant facts, nor dwelling unnecessarily on the sensational. That having been said, more detailed analysis of the meaning of these beliefs, and a discussion of how esoteric Nazism and neo-Nazism relate to the contemporary world more broadly, would have been welcome, given the book’s subtitle, …and the Politics of Identity. As it is, this material is confined to a four-page conclusion.

Nazism (in all its forms) and esotericism both have serious things to tell us about the broader currents of culture, and particularly so in the nexus between them. I completely concur with Goodrick-Clarke that they are subjects which we marginalise at our peril. Goodrick-Clarke closes with a warning that the far right has gained new vigour since the mid 1980s, due to immigration policy, a situation which he compares to the situation in Germany which gave rise to the Volkisch movement. This situation can only be exacerbated by the recent financial crash and resultant unemployment. With the recent events in Norway, this warning is timely indeed.

When Lizards Marry

I’m disappointed that David Icke has remained silent on today’s ‘big event’.

It doesn’t really surprise me that the British (although, let’s be honest, mostly the English) public have fallen for the media circus surrounding the royal wedding (yet I hasten to add that I suspect the silent majority simply don’t care). However, I am deeply saddened by the lack of any critique from the press. Despite services being slashed and jobs being cut across the board, somehow we can come up with £20 million to pay for this, not to mention the man-hours lost from the bank holiday. Surely we need that money to bomb Middle-Eastern countries with? And that’s not even to mention the human rights abuses in arresting potential protesters – Pre-Crime, in the UK today. I find it literally disgusting.

Thus I feel the need to come out and publicly state my republicanism, despite the possibility that this might be read by future employers. In my opinion, the royalty are an embarrassment to this country, and to any country that considers themselves rational, modern or in any way heir to the Enlightenment project.

Remember, kids: an independent Scotland is pretty much the only way of freeing ourselves from the monarchy. Nationalism need not mean jingoism; there are often good practical reasons why countries that have been tied together politically through circumstance would be better off when separated. Scotland is pretty solidly socialist; England really isn’t. Want to move past the monarchy? Vote SNP.

I’m no Seinfeld fan, but Jerry’s bang to rights on this one:

And live from Austin, Texas, Alex Jones:

Psychological Links between Religiousness and Right-Wing Politics

Reblogged from Epiphenom by Tom Rees (trees@hbase.com). With thanks. Certainly of relevance to my Metaphysical Conspiracism category:

A basic psychological link between religion and right-wing politics

Humans are fine tuned to spot coincidences. Take, for example, an experiment done a few years ago by Paola Bressan and Peter Kramer, psychologists at the University of Padova in Italy. They asked their subjects to watch a computer screen, where dots would appear either above or below a pair of words. They had to press one of two keys on the keyboard, depending on where the dots appeared.

After 32 rounds of this, one of the words, unexpectedly, appeared as white on black (Trial 33 in the picture). Now, this was completely irrelevant to the task at hand, but even so it captured people’s attention. They took longer to press the button, as they couldn’t help pondering the meaning of the unexpected change.

The strange thing was, those who reacted most strongly to this change were those who also reported being religious as a result of personal experience. They found it harder than others to dismiss the coincidence.

Not only was this effect linked solely to religiosity derived from personal experience (and not, for example, linked to family history or church attendance), but this link was entirely explained by belief in the meaningfulness of coincidences.

What’s this got to do with politics, though?
Continue reading

Census and Sensibility

Book review done. Still waiting for editing job to begin. Have been thinking about fiction a lot, but just don’t have the time.

I yesterday received an interesting email from Jordan Stratford of the Apostolic Johannite Church, who had read my “Contemporary Gnosticism” paper, and had a few comments. It was strange to be contacted by someone I’ve written about, but I’m glad that my paper has engaged members of the gnostic community, and that, even if they don’t agree with all I have to say, that they are at least taking it seriously. Perhaps more on this at a later date…

But first, I wanted to flag something up for those reading in the UK who are filling out their census – putting Jedi or Church of Chris Martin or any other satirical religion down might show disdain for organised religion, but it lowers the stats for the numbers of actual atheists and agnostics in the UK. (And yes, I’m aware of the methodological issues around invented religions such as Jediism – see my forthcoming chapter on Discordianism…) The UK may be the most secular state in the world, but the census won’t demonstrate that if we fill in jokey answers, as happened in 2001. See BoingBoing co-editor Cory Doctorow’s blog for the original debate.

Having said that, at work today, a friend made a clever and amusing point about how she’d been asked what religion her baby was on a post-natal form. “I haven’t decided which way to brainwash him yet!” we laughed. “He says he’s an atheist but acts more like an agnostic!” And so forth. So I asked her what she’d put as her religion in the census. “We just ticked other,” she shrugged. I didn’t probe any further; a busy kitchen is not the place to force someone into revealing their Wiccan affiliation. Nevertheless, I suspect she’s actually agnostic.

Meanwhile, an unpleasant court case involving a couple in a town in Wales involving children and other vulnerables in a “sex cult” has led to a predictably sensational critique of “Satanist” Aleister Crowley. I am no Thelemite, but Crowley is no more guilty here than the Beatles were in the Sharon Tate murder. An abusive bastard is an abusive bastard, no matter who he takes inspiration from, and no matter how misguided his interpretation. Here is the original Daily Mail article, and you can read more on how the Book of the Law doesn’t condone paedophilia here, albeit from an unashamedly Thelemite point-of-view.