Friday Ephemera
Radical Darlings

So Very Tired

The much-publicised launch of Sunny Hundal’s Liberal Conspiracy blog has already produced a fine moment of inadvertent comedy, and possibly a revealing one. In a post titled We Need Our Own Space, Guardian contributor Zohra Moosa bemoans the troublesome obligation to substantiate her politics with, you know, evidence and argument.

“I’m a little bit tired of spending so much of my time defending the most basic principles of what I stand for. It serves to distract. What I need is a safer space where I don’t lose so much energy justifying why social and environmental justice are worth spending a lot of society’s money on. What I want is a space where these ideas are a given and the debate is about how best to actualize them…”

A “safer space” is, presumably, a kind of echo chamber - one in which basic assumptions remain conveniently unquesti0ned, and in which such loaded terms as “society’s money” and “social and environmental justice” can be used freely and without clear definition. Principles are, of course, so much easier to have if one isn’t obliged to defend them or explain how they might work. Being clear about what one is arguing for - and keen to spend “a lot of society’s money on” – would, it seems, be a wearying distraction. Instead, Ms Moosa wishes to “actualize” her politics, which, I’m sure, is a comfort to us all. 

On a still more reassuring note, Ms Moosa also wishes to be “inspired by the good and the great to imagine what is possible – in that place where all life prospers,” and to have “conversations with people that are constructive, compassionate and rigorous… conversations that are both logical and passionate.” Though, given the previous paragraph, one might suspect that “passion” is of much greater importance to Ms Moosa than logic, or tiresome explanations.



R. Sherman

Instead of the word "society's," why doesn't she use the second person possessive?



R. Sherman,

Presumably because “society’s money” is so much more readily spent, especially on “social and environmental justice” - which remains remarkably ill-defined and, not coincidentally, is difficult to challenge without appearing heartless.

But I’m guessing you already knew that.


It's just dripping with the urge to boss other people around. This is what leftists mean by "society's money", they mean to control and own you.

Roger Thornhill

That post did prompt me to reply and for the very same reasons you highlighted.



Well, we live in hope that Ms Moosa’s position won’t be entirely representative of the blog. But, yes, her tone is effete, sanctimonious and arrogant in more or less equal measure. And the assumption that one really needn’t bother to explain exactly why one intends to spend “a lot of society’s money” does raise an eyebrow, to say the very least.

N. O'Brain

And to think that I thought that Stalinism was dead.

Silly me.


Well, Zohra bowed out of her own comments section after posting twice ( at #2 and #5 of 73 as of now). I hope she's getting a good long nap--by her second comment--so extreme was the burden of defending her principles--she couldn't even muster the strength to press the Shift key at appropriate places, and her grasp of basic grammar was ebbing away...

By the way, I love this passage, and have taken the liberty of rendering it as a poem:

I want to be challenged
To be the most radical humanitarian in the room.
Instead of rolling around in a fog
That dangerously confuses the over-policing of some with ‘freedom’
And where indifference is rewarded.


Good lord, and she writes for the Guardian?

"the market does not exist outside society. society’s money is individual’s money obviously, but so too is it companies’ money etc. you’ve narrowed ’society’s money’ as being only about individuals; i’d expand it to mean many more of the economic resources available for our use, and not just as individuals."

Ah, the mating call of the totalitarian!


Another thing: I believe it's fairly common to get more and more extreme views emerging when in an "echo chamber" - when you have to stand up for your views, argue them and convince people opposed to them you rarely find people spouting stuff that's that extreme (and if they do, they're not going to get much support). In a group where everyone agrees on something (as Zhora Moosa wants), it's much easier for the more extreme arguments to gain support.



“In a group where everyone agrees... it’s much easier for the more extreme arguments to gain support.”

Extreme and caring. Don’t forget the caring.

There’s also a temptation to believe that if one uses pointedly compassionate language – and phrases such as “social and environmental justice” - then one needn’t bother too much with the ethical nuts and bolts of what’s actually being proposed. The omission of testing and detail is, in part, made possible by the fact that very few people would wish to appear in favour of the supposed opposite, i.e. *not* being compassionate, or “social and environmental *injustice*.” But the lack of clarity is suspicious and claiming to care is pretty cheap currency.

It seems to me that, rather than something to be avoided, “defending the most basic principles of what [one] stand[s] for” is a pretty good thing to do, regularly if possible. It’s the only way I know of seeing whether those principles are in fact sound and workable - or just glib and flattering reflexes.

The Thin Man

What a puerile little dog and pony show this Liberal Conspiracy project is.

Reading it is like watching re-runs of "Citizen Smith" (and it wasn't funny first time round).

And references to the Grunwick Dispute! Why can't the left move past 1979. Or worse yet, why do they want to go BACK to 1979?


I should perhaps point out that Ms Moosa’s sentiments aren’t unique. Joseph Harker, the Guardian’s deputy comment editor, has expressed a similar view regarding dissent from his own, rather peculiar, ideas about racism. Apparently, even the Guardian’s readership was too quarrelsome for comfort:

“If we want to have a sensible discussion about race, or racism, is it possible on a general-access website such as this? Or do we need to find a new corner of cyberspace, and boldly go where no stupid white man has gone before?”

Rather than address some fairly rudimentary criticism from his readers, Harker wished instead for a more compliant audience. Perhaps he too was feeling terribly weary.


Well, it's easy (and praiseworthy) to laugh at people like Moosa, but the clear tactical purpose of this kind of behaviour is to destroy even the possibility that the definitions of terms such as "racism", "equality", and "human rights" might be contestable. Unfortunately, the Moosas and Harkers have mostly succeeded: the media is constantly informing us of "racist" speech and acts that are no such thing, most western countries have metastasizing "Human Rights" tribunals that do away with the presumption of innocence and due process under the law, and most public utterances of the word "equality" seem to use it in the marxist sense. We should laugh while we still can.


I gave up when Sunny made a deliberate attempt to associate "global warming" with "liberal", quite clearly expressing the thought that as he's a "liberal" and that he's got very fixed views on "global warming" that they are one and the same, probably with a range of other positions too.

One set of comments beginning with the usual warning about deleting xenophobic posts, immediately followed by a standard America-bashing article, which I raised as a point and Sunny dismissed.

It's fast becoming the anti-war version of the Euston Manifesto, but laughingly filled with the very same people who were critical of the Euston Manifesto.


The lady has prescribed an intellectual coffin for herself.

It's a confined "space" that shuts out the annoying drafts and sharp stabs of bright light that might disturb her dreams.

What was it that smart Greek said about individuals abetting their own imprisonment?


"The people have lost the confidence of the government; the government has decided to dissolve the people, and to appoint another one." -- Bertolt Brecht


Universities are showing a disquiting tendency to create "safe places" for students - or at least for those students on the political left. Many universities have speech codes which bar members of the university community from giving offense to others.

In principal such speech codes would bar anyone from saying anything contentious. In practise it's an attempt to silence those whose views are politically inappropriate.


The way to happiness:

Don't ask questions
Just follow orders
Forget the facts
We know what is best
All money is public money and you get to keep a small allowance
It's all about the greater good
The way to get things done is through compassionate committee
It is feelings that matter
Religion is bad except for Islam (and they won't really kill gays)
The USA is a terrorist nation (Islam is really a free democracy)
We can control climate, the Sun and sea level with enough public and private money
There is nothing government cannot do if we can just quell descent

My name is Moosa and my brain is Loosa


More on speech codes and censorship:

The comments to this entry are closed.