Accidence & Incidents: Aurobindo, Koestler, Oakeshott

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose

FT political leader writer, Sebastian Payne recently referred to the Conservative Party’s pre-eminent post-war philosopher — Michael Oakeshott.

So why do Tories love him?

1. Oakeshott was a philosopher — not a neo-liberal economist.

2. Unlike Friedrich Von Hayek, Milton Friedman, or even Arthur Seldon, Oakeshott was a bona fide English Gentleman.

3. He wasn’t actually that interested in politics.

Oakeshott was appointed Professor of Political Science at the London School of Economics in 1968 – at a time when Daniel Cohn Bendit (Nous sommes tous les Juifs Allemands / We are all German Jews) was over from Paris attempting to foment revolution at the London University.

By simply not being a leftist, unlike his predecessor Harold Laski, Oakeshott did more to foster the LSE neo-liberal counter insurgency than many realise.

Oakeshott was very good friends with Oliver Letwin’s mother Shirley Letwin who wrote the Anatomy of Thatcherism shortly before passing away in 1993.

A lot of these relationships are outlined in the wonderful Thinking the Unthinkable by Richard Cockett.

Thatcher once said “Economics are the method; the object is to change the heart and soul.”

Given that Oliver Letwin has since discovered Behavioural Economics, as outlined in a previous post, it is telling that he chose to name his new book on the Conservative Party — Hearts and Minds.

Nudging people into loving deregulation hasn’t gone quite according to plan. In a way Letwin was hoist by his own petard. He wrote a paper called Drift to Union in 1988 in which he pointed out the risk of a Ever Closer Union and a European Superstate. But nevertheless he believed it would have been better to remain in the customs union whilst arguing for reforms.

He talks about the morning of Brexit as reminiscent of passages by Nadezhda Krupskaya on the morning of the Russian Revolution. A coup d’état had taken place with the ‘arch-Machiavelli’ David Davis being one of the major players.

Was all this madness just to suit the ambition of a bunch of Tory psychopaths?

A Guide to the Classics

Oakeshott wrote a book in the 30’s about how to pick the winner at the Epsom Derby.

Applying conservative principles to the world of horse-racing Oakeshott translated his way of thinking to something everyone could relate to — dealing with uncertainty.

In some fields this could be termed rationality, empiricism or even heuristics.

Oakeshott’s principles included checking a horse’s breeding and form and not just betting on a horse because of its name.

“Airborne”

Despite Oakeshott’s advice I couldn’t help but notice — at the top left of an early edition — a horse going by the name of ‘Airborne’.

Airborne, for a couple of years, was also my nickname for Daily Mail Columnist Peter Oborne.

And it just so happens that Oborne wrote the foreword to the June 2017 reissue of Oakeshott’s Guide to the Classics — the only reason I picked it up in the first place.

Merely co-incidence? Of course — but fun all the same.

It turns out that Airborne was a surprise winner. Nobody had heard of it but lots of people bet on it because of the airborne division in the war.

Oakeshott never claimed to make you rich, merely to help you think about how to think.

The Routes of Co-Incidence

Psychogeography

Several years ago I met a cousin of the great Indian teacher and Spiritual Guide Krishnamurthi. He (the cousin) was friends with my mother. I understand both were devotees of the late Sathya Sai Baba.

Krishnamurthi (for that was also the cousin’s name) told me all about Sri Aurobindo and the Upanishads.

For a mix of Oakeshottian and non-Oakeshottian reasons I decided to follow these leads, albeit at a leisurely pace.

The Krishnamurthi who I had  spent time with was an eloquent inspiring man.

I soon discovered that I had (briefly) attended the same school as Aurobindo in London — St Paul’s.

I call my reasoning partly Oakeshottian because of the  breeding component.

Not racial necessarily — but I did also find out that Aurobindo was Bengali.

Turns out most Bangladeshis may be Dravidian — not unlike yours truly — a Tamil from Sri Lanka (via Paddington).

Aurobindo would have been a Hindu – like the Bengalis I came across at St Paul’s

They were all very high caste. Or so it appeared.

From Death to Death will go the man
who discriminates between,
What is seen in the unseen world
and unseen in the seen

This is my re-edit of a line in the Upanishads that I found highly useful.

As a Hindu, once I die, I don’t want to come back.

Sir Oliver Letwin used Nobel Prize winner’s ideas to torture innocent Brits

Nudge

Richard Thaler has just been awarded the Nobel Prize for Economics.

He’s best known for co-authoring the bestseller Nudge with Cass Sunstein in 2007.

Sunstein went on to become President Obama’s Regulatory Czar while Thaler provided the ideas for Oliver Letwin’s Behavioural Insights or “Nudge” unit.

Here Letwin, a former Thatcher adviser who wrote Privatising the World while working for N.M.Rothschild, introduces his take on what he refers to as Social Market Economics.

Some call it the Third Way.

Letwin boasts that given that Marxism has been thoroughly debunked ( or so he thought ), it is now possible to be both Deregulatory and Interventionist.

What is interesting about this statement is that he doesn’t mean Interventionist in the economic sense which would involve some form of nationalisation or meddling with the market such as QE.

Here he is talking about PSYCHOLOGICAL INTERVENTIONS a.k.a. NUDGE.

Letwin’s wife Isabel was the head of Legal Services for the Department of Health during the passing of the Health and Social Care act of 2012.

The Act opened up the NHS to Private Health Insurance firm United Health — also known as Optum.

Mrs Letwin was also in charge of Legal Services for the Department of Work and Pensions.

This means she was responsible for overseeing the implementation of austerity in UK Job Centres and for the disabled which involved private firms such as ATOS claiming that people who were sick and disabled were fit for work and then cut their welfare benefits and made them work for free on the work programme.

Letwin and Thaler may claim to be enlightened individuals but the deregulatory interventionism they spearheaded caused much misery and cost many lives.

Kids

Mrs Letwin supported the oversight panel of the Jimmy Savile Inquiry into his activities at Broadmoor Hospital in West London. This in itself is a major conflict of interest given how close the Letwins were to Jimmy Savile’s good friend Mrs Thatcher.

Shirley Letwin, Oliver’s mother, wrote the Anatomy of Thatcherism and Jimmy Savile attended nearly all Mrs Thatcher’s New Year’s Eve parties when she was Prime Minister. It’s unlikely they wouldn’t have met.

On the subject of Tories and Paedophilia Lord Finkelstein has attacked the police for the way they have communicated the investigations into Edward Heath’s private life.

In this article Finkelstein defends Cyril Smith and even Jimmy Savile.

Finkelstein was friends with Greville Janner so he defended him too.

Having moved in Tory and high up Lib Dem circles in the eighties it is inconceivable he wouldn’t have ever heard about what went on.

I don’t believe the modern Labour Party are particularly good at listening to people at the moment or that their economic programme completely adds up.

But to celebrate another torture complicit nobel laureate feels so wrong. Interesting to see how ideologically close the Obama administration were to Cameron, Letwin and even May.

Just because Trump is in charge, I don’t think the bigger picture will really change.

Cameron and Letwin plotted to cap bank tax

The Sunday Times claim a leaked document has revealed that David Cameron and Oliver Letwin wanted to “cap taxes for the banks”.

According to the leaked memo Letwin endorsed Cameron’s plans for an “aggregated City tax take” which would have prevented the government from increasing the banking levy.

The cap on the banking levy was proposed in the early days of the coalition, but was blocked by the Liberal Democrats.

The memo reveals that Letwin suggested that a cap on taxes should have started with a “small club” of high street banks belonging to the British Bankers Association.

“If this worked, we could move on to the hedge funds”, Letwin added.

When asked about the bank tax proposal yesterday Letwin claimed to have “absolutely no recollection”.

 

(B)anal Banter with Blair & Blunt

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It is well known that Tony Blair has friends in high places and that, legally speaking, he knows how to get away with anything.

Teflon Tony

He is known as Teflon Tony because, although bad things are said about him, nothing ever sticks.

His greatest skill is his ability to use the legal system to do bad things — for which the rest of the world must pay the price.

True Cost

The Home Office recently refused to admit the cost of policing Blair despite the fact that it is paid out of public money.

But the authorities have been convinced that the true details of David Kelly’s death should remain secret.

Today Blair will make a press statement following the Chilcot Report. It is highly unlikely that he will act honourably and accept culpability.

Instead he will blame others or beg for sympathy.

There have been at least five known attempts to Arrest Blair

When he spoke at the Libya Inquiry in Parliament, in December, security was high but justice was not delivered.

Come to Popper

Perhaps on the day of Blair’s long-awaited December 11th appearance in Parliament, the chair of the Defence Select Committee, Crispin Blunt, was more concerned with his own views on the then looming Psychoactive Substances Bill, and in particular the statement he was to dramatically made the House in January 2016, in which he outed himself as a parliamentarian with a penchant for soon-to-be-illegal poppers.

The Independent’s Tom Peck wrote a good piece on January’s poppers ban and the pleasures of anal sex with the current chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, Keith Vaz.

If Blunt took more of a stand over things like Brexit, and the bombing of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya — the matter of something as straightforward as poppers might have been far more easily resolved.

Letwin & Brexit

Yesterday Blunt’s Select Committee hosted Oliver Letwin on the subject of Brexit negotiations.

These are interesting times in which the likes of Blunt are supposed to save us from the worst excesses of the Letwins and the Blairs.

We’ll need far more than amyl-nitrate if we’re to stand any chance of surviving.

Disgraced Brexit Cheerleader for PM?

If the UK votes for Brexit, Dr Liam Fox, the disgraced ex-Defence Minister responsible for getting the UK involved in conflict in Libya and Syria before being sacked for Cronyism in 2011, could become Prime Minister.

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Is this really happening?

Fox & NHS

Tory Leavers now openly refer to Brexit as being our best chance of saving the NHS from privatisation.

But research has shown that most of them have big money invested in private healthcare firms.

Fox is a well known Thatcherite along with his colleagues John Redwood, John Whittingdale, and Oliver ‘Privatising the World’ Letwin.

Brexit & TTIP

TTIP is bad for the NHS as it is designed to open it up to US Health Insurance firms.

And the European Central Bank (ECB) and the European Commission are heavily captured by the City of London Corporation. Liam Fox is right to say that it doesn’t look as though they will change path.

But it would be very dangerous to put the Brexit camp in charge of the country.

The fact that Fox thinks the City of London Corporation and the EU are not Neo-Liberal enough is a fair sign of what he has planned for the NHS.

Attempting to reform the undemocratic EU from within will be hard – but much easier than negotiating with Fox.