Peter Tatchell and the Total State (2018), by Sean Gabb

Peter Tatchell and the Total State
Sean Gabb
13th January 2018

Peter Tachell
Source: Wikipedia

I have some respect for Peter Tatchell. He campaigned against the anti-homosexual laws before this was a safe thing to do. He has shown courage on other issues. This being said, I am troubled by his latest set of recommendations. Writing on the 8th January 2018 for The Friends of Europe blog, he declares that “equal rights are not enough.” It is not enough for people to be treated equally before the law. It is also necessary for children to be brainwashed into agreeing with him. He says:

To combat intolerance and bullying, education against all prejudice – including racism, misogyny, disablism, xenophobia, ageism, homophobia, biphobia and transphobia – should be a stand-alone compulsory subject in every school. Equality and diversity lessons should start from the first year of primary level onwards, with no opt-outs for private or faith schools and no right for parents to withdraw their children.

…. These lessons should be subject to annual examination, ensuring that both pupils and teachers take these lessons seriously; otherwise they won’t. A pupil’s equality grades should be recorded and declared when applying for higher education and jobs, as it is in the interests of everyone to have universities and workplaces without prejudice.

To see what Peter means, let us take a number of issues:

  • Whether the various races are of equal intellectual or moral capacity;
  • Whether the sexes are of equal intellectual or moral capacity;
  • Whether sex outside an exclusive relationship with a person of the opposite sex is right or advisable;
  • Whether changing sex, with present levels of technology, is advisable;
  • Whether mass-immigration is good for a host community.

I could mention other issues, but these will do. No side in any of them is self-evidently true. The truth of each side must therefore be a matter of argument. In all cases, argument either way rests on assumptions that are themselves matters of argument. For the authorities to classify one side in any of these issues as “hate” is as much an abuse of power as criminalising particular views about the Nature of Christ or the sources of religious knowledge. Let attacks on life and property be punished according to law. But let any opinion stand or fall by the appropriate evidence.

Peter is demanding that all education should be made into a scheme of propaganda for what he presently believes. He seems to be demanding that anyone who refuses to preach this should be banned from teaching. He is also demanding that any child who, for whatever reason and perhaps for however long, dissents from what is taught in class should be denied entry to university and marked for life as a dissident.

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Except the issues are different, this sounds like the practice of the Soviet police states. It seems calculated to produce in schools an environment of hysterical conformity and of spying and of malicious informing – an environment that will be carried into the adult world. Since elsewhere in his article, he calls for what looks like a comprehensive censorship of the media, Peter may think he has a scheme to make everyone agree with him for ever and ever. I doubt this. In any society that retains the smallest trace of freedom, conformity will be at most superficial and temporary. Even in the Soviet police states, generations of propaganda and labour camps failed to keep the system from eventually collapsing, after which every banned opinion flourished again like weeds in an untended garden.

I could end here. There was a time when I would have ended here. Or I might have suggested that powers taken to impose one set of views could one day be used to impose the opposite. I might then have expected Peter to slap his forehead, and confess how, in an excess of zeal, he had called for a total state. But that was thirty years ago, and I have too much respect for Peter’s intelligence to believe he fails to understand what he is saying.

On the one hand, as said, I am troubled by his recommendations. There is some chance that our Fake Conservative government will take them up. In some degree, they have been taken up. Several years ago, I sat in a meeting where a teacher explained how the father of one his pupils was a UKIP activist, and how the boy’s outspoken Euroscepticism in class might be a matter for intervention by the “safeguarding team.” No new law would be needed to impose what Peter is recommending. I can easily see how the Ministers would take this up as another attempt at signalling virtue to the Cultural Marxists – or “the Puritans” – they have done nothing since 2010 to dislodge.

On the other hand, I find the recommendations reassuring. They suggest a perception of weakness. These people have had something like total control of the mainstream media and of education at least since 1997. They have silenced dissent wherever they control. They have still not established ideological hegemony. They are growing old. One at a time, the true believers are giving way to a new and mediocre generation of apparatchiks. Now is the time when you must expect to see them turn desperate for what they have built to be set in concrete. When they were young, they built their total state behind a façade of semi-liberal platitudes. Now they are old, and now they feel that they have been building on sand, the gloves are coming off.

I do not think they will win. A year on, and the Referendum result in England and the Trump victory in America have disappointed those who worked for them. The fact remains that, despite a wall of propaganda and Establishment money, majorities voted to leave the European Union and for the promises that Mr Trump made and appeared to believe in keeping. There will come a time when the present order of things falls with a sudden crash. 2016 was not that time. But the slow and silent undermining that precedes a crash is undeniable. Peter Tatchell and his Puritan friends know this. They have nothing to lose from calling for an openly total state. In the long term, even so, it will avail them naught.


  1. I too admire Peter Tatchell’s courage. Two brief points in response to your article; 1) You talk of criminalising religious belief. We are already part-way there. It is illegal to deny the Holocaust (certainly in some other countries and I believe now also in the UK). What does this mean in practice? If you challenge the ‘official’ figure of 6 million, you are breaking the law. If I were to say that the Holocaust never happened, clearly I could be arrested. But supposing my research revealed a true figure of less than 6 million? If I said it was in fact 5.9 million, would that be close enough to be legal? Maybe. How about 3 million? 500,000? At some point I will presumably cross the line from legality to illegality? Where is that point defined? I suppose I should add that I have no reason to actually challenge the ‘official’ figures. But if I did….. 2) You also refer to the relative intellectual capacity of the different races. I would suggest it is self-evident that the orientals are ‘at the top of the tree’ in this regard, and the Negroes are at the bottom, with us Caucasians somewhere in the middle. This conclusion is based not on any scientific research, but on my own observations of life. Look at those 3 year-old’s on Youtube playing Chopin with ease – they are invariably Chinese, not African. Look at classical musicians in general – orientals outweigh everybody else except of course Jews. (Who was it who said “There are only three kinds of pianists – Jewish pianists, homosexual pianists and bad pianists”?) A Black musician, even in an orchestra, is a rare thing indeed. I don’t know what, if anything, this means. My point is that in the coming Utopia it would probably be illegal to even express such a view.

    • So far as I know holocaust denial is not a crime in UK but you would have to be careful how you expressed your views.

      IMHO a main distinguishing characteristic is that the right accepts it as entirely proper that the left should be free to hold and express their misguided idiocy, whereas the left thinks the right’s evil should be supressed and they should be reeducated.

      Freedom of thought is freedom of “goodthink”

  2. [quote]”On the other hand, I find the recommendations reassuring. They suggest a perception of weakness.”[unquote]

    Either that, or it implies a position of strength and that there is worse to come.

  3. Reblogged this on Millennial Transmissions and commented:

    Been very busy and have had very little time to write anything for the blog. However, this is definitely worth sharing. I agree that Tatchell is a bold and admirable figure (I link to him in the blog roll on my own site), however, I also agree that his total state proposals to brainwash school children are quite horrifying.

  4. Peter Tatchell is not an original thinker, and in a way it is one of his virtues that he is not a pseudo-intellectual. He holds entirely conventional left-liberal views and I suppose it never occurs to him that the issues you list are open questions. To a mind like his, it is not a matter of propaganda for what he currently believes but of education in what everybody knows. He is a symptom, not a cause, of the disease.

    As for the real nomenklatura, every fresh scream from the first class cabin makes it plainer who they really are. They may conceivably sabotage Brexit, but it is now clear that the EU is the EUSSR and that the old strategy (“just some eurononsense, let’s stop banging on about it”) of boiling the lobster gradually will never work again.

  5. As a generalised reply to some of these comments, I have to say I don’t know why people are so concerned with criminalising holocaust denial at all. In my experience, holocaust deniers (or at least those that believe in a considerable drop in estimate figures) almost always have some other dodgy alliances. As open-minded as I try to be, I find it rare to meet a holocaust denier that is not also a nazi-sympathiser (though I’m open to the possibility) and chances are any “dangerous” holocaust denier will wind up being guilty of some other dodgy activity without us having to even refer to the content of their speech. “By their fruits they shall be known” and all that…

    • I agree. But once you start criminalising anybody who disagrees with the the ‘official’ government version of history – whatever their motives – you are entering very dangerous territory indeed.

    • @ Millennial Transmissions

      Translation of what you just said: People who disagree with me should go to prison.

      That’s what you actually think. You’re just rationalising it.

      • No I’m saying we should leave them alone. My point is that’s they will likely incriminate themselves some other way. I’m saying we SHOULDNT prosecute them on “holocaust denial.” To clarify, I don’t think it’s necessary to punish historical revisionists of any sort, holocaust deniers included. I just think that the latter very often incriminate themselves in other ways (violence, conspiracy etc).

        • I am framing the issue slightly differently to you, and I’m addressing what is behind your comment. I understand fully that, being on this forum, you probably oppose criminal restrictions on speech, but you appear to be saying that we needn’t bother prosecuting Holocaust denial because such people are mostly bad in other ways and will be caught by the system anyway. Thus, you appear to me to be talking out of both sides of your mouth, and also problematising Holocaust revisionism – but I may have misunderstood you, and if so, I apologise.

          As you will know, not all revisionists are involved in ‘extremist’ activity. In fact, now I think about it, probably most aren’t, even among the academic ones. And those who are associated with ‘extremism’ tend to have their activities distorted by the press and media and represented as ‘extremism’. The term you use, ‘nazi-sympathiser’, is just a scare phrase used by people who dislike nationalist views altogether. David Irving, for instance, a fairly mild revisionist, was dubbed a neo-Nazi and white supremacist, etc., but what did he do that was illegal, at least in this country? And even if he was a ‘nazi-sympathiser’, so what? Why is it even the business of the state, unless the state is intent on political and ideological repression? To believe that it is surely makes you a supporter of criminalising speech in all but name: hence my suspicion that you are equivocating, the clue being your implied double standard.

          Suppose I deny the Holocaust and get together with some Holocaust-denying friends to have a meeting about it so we can put the world to rights, or at least bore the pants off whoever turns up to listen. We advertise our intentions using posters here and there.
          That’s a conspiracy! We’re extremists conspiring to undertake subversive vile hateful racist activity! We must be stopped! My goodness! It’s a hate crime in progress!

          My high school history more than 25 years ago [I’m old now] taught Holocaust revisionism as a mainstream part of the curriculum. This was because, at that time, revisionism was academically mainstream and socially acceptable. This was a down-at-heel comprehensive school in northern England. We learned about different interpretations of the Holocaust. That said, it was not denial of the Holocaust, though today it would be considered under that category.

          Today, as I understand it, the ‘intentionalist’ Holocaust is taught in schools as dogma. Why has this changed? Does it reflect the accurate historical, scientific and archaeological position, based on the actual evidence? I highly doubt that. The figures for the number of deaths have been revised downwards over the years, but the six million figure is still maintained officially, and in some European countries one may be criminally prosecuted even for suggesting that the figure is significantly lower than six million (an offence known as ‘minimisation’).

          I ought to close with an important caveat:

          I do NOT deny that the Holocaust happened, just before anybody suggests that, and I am not defending those who do. I have never denied the Holocaust and I am not about to. I also think it is inaccurate to deny that the Nazis committed misconduct against Jews and others. They clearly did and it was wrong.

  6. I generally agree. I follow numerous authors that challenge the orthodox view of the Confederacy, and I sympathise to some extent with it. But if you’re saying that I’m unfairly “profiling” holocaust deniers as having other surreptitious motives then I’m guilty. I agree that David Irving is a respectable historian. But in my experience he is more of an exception. That may be because the majority of holocaust deniers I hear of are through sensationlist stories about violent neo-nazis, but I still maintain that I personally find holocaust deniers that don’t sympathise with the third reich to be very uncommon.

    In my defence, I did say that im open to the idea of anti-nazi holocaust deniers, but yes, ultimately I treat holocaust deniers with suspicion. That might be unfair, but at least I’m open about my prejudices.

    • Of course, people who are “Holocaust deniers” are likely to also seem to sympathise in spirit or in the aesthetic sense with the Third Reich. I think that stands to reason. But I think the objection is a form of question-begging. At the end of the day, people have the right to hold an opinion, while the factuality of the Holocaust is a separate matter. Some, maybe most, of them could be motivated by their politics, but what of it? Can you name an academic historian who isn’t? Yet we don’t lock up historians who suggest that the War of the Roses or Cromwell’s alleged atrocities against the Irish never happened – and there are historians who make these claims.

      I think we must also ask whether these people actually sympathise with the Third Reich or is it in reality just a broad sympathy for ethno- or race-based nationalism? We must remember that “Nazi” is often used as a pejorative label by people who dislike nationalistic and tribalistic type views. Granted, some of them may think of themselves as neo-Nazis or National Socialists, but the Third Reich isn’t going to be re-enacted so whatever else they are, the allegiance seems nugatory and futile to me.

      Also, nobody, to my knowledge, says that Jewish Holocaust revisionists like Norman Finkelstein are Nazis – at least not seriously – which suggests to me that the two things are separable.

      Again, I am no Holocaust denier, but I think we’re left with the point that if something is true then it should stand on its own merits. It shouldn’t need the protection in criminal law that was once given to religious dogmas. That it does suggests to me at least the possibility that the official hypothesis is shaky in some respects.

      • I more or less agree. I still have my prejudices though, and I’m delighted when they’re proved wrong. I don’t think that John Derbyshire was being villainous in any way when he wrote that article that condoned the “profiling” of black youths, and I don’t feel guilty for making certain assumptions about holocaust deniers. I’m always open to being proved wrong on a case-by-case basis, but generalisations and prejudices do make it easier for me to maneuver through life. I can only aim to be open-minded, but it would be arrogant of me to claim that I was 100% unbiased and objective 100% of the time.

        • What you are describing are not prejudices. It strikes me that you are not pre-judging anyone or anything, but forming an opinion based on experience. You might be wrong, (but I don’t think you are) but that doesn’t make you prejudiced. Since you also mentioned the Confederacy, there is an excellent Facebook page hosted by the Southern Historical Society which posts some very interesting articles. I believe it is no exaggeration to say that the way the history of this period is taught – and has been for the last 150 years – is a complete inversion of the truth. Which illustrates the dangers of having an ‘official’ version of history that nobody is allowed to challenge on pain of criminal prosecution. Going back to the Holocaust, criminalising ‘Holocaust denial’ gives ammunition to every anti-semite in the world, who can now proclaim that the Jews are so afraid of the truth that they want to lock up anybody who dares disagree with them.

          • Thanks for the tip, I don’t have a facebook account but I’ll see if I can access it another way. There’s such a great wealth of literature on this subject. I have found Nick Land’s take on the civil war to be the best and most balanced that I’ve come across, in one of his articles in the Dark Enlightenment series.

        • It’s important to make a distinction between:

          (i). Holocaust deniers, being people who either deny the Holocaust happened or dishonestly exaggerate what happened;
          (ii). Holocaust revisionists (really, historical revisionists), who challenge whatever passes for the mainstream account of the Holocaust.

          Unfortunately, this vital distinction has been lost over the years and the two have been conflated, by criminal law in those countries that codify a particular Holocaust narrative, and by mainly Jewish activists who insist on a particularly narrow understanding of what the Holocaust was.

          Twenty-five years ago, Holocaust revisionism (in the academic sense) was on the National Curriculum in England, as a serious field of study. Now, if it is taught at all, it will for for the purposes of maligning it. One consequence of this conflation is that a good faith Holocaust revisionist will, in some circumstances, not only be denounced as a Holocaust denier, he could in some situations also face criminal charges.

          The reason I emphasise this distinction is because when you claim that you are dismissive about Holocaust deniers, you may in fact be perfectly justified in this, as Holocaust denial is merely a political and racial-historical position, but it is necessary to pay close attention to the matter as revisers of the Holocaust are not necessarily deniers.

            • In various European countries, you could (in theory) be prosecuted for that statement under memory laws enacted to suppress criticism of the official version of the Holocaust. To take two examples: the charge in France would be minimising or abating genocide, and in Belgium it would be downplaying the crimes of National Socialist Germany. As such, you would be branded a Holocaust denier.

              See for instance the ruling in R. Garaudy vs. France, a Belgian criminal case that was considered in the European Court of Human Rights. The ECHR affirmed that Article 10 of the Convention [freedom of expression] does not apply in proven cases of denying or minimising the Holocaust.

  7. 1 Sean’s extract from Tatchell’s article is a very representative cross-section of the rest of it. If I gave you my entirely candid attitude towards Tatchell’s article, it would make Nixon’s comments in the Watergate Tapes sound like the D’Ascoyne Reverend’s sermon from Kind Hearts and Coronets. Well, Tatchell isn’t a Libertarian if he ever was one, but rather an arch exponent of Postmodernist Leftist sectional collectivist politics, with totalitarian enforcement.

    2 Tatchell published his article on Friends of Europe – a Brussels pro-EU campaigning organisation funded largely by the EU and pro-EU governments, NGOs (and so taxpayers whether they know it or like it or not) and organisations whom I suspect want to have their fingers in many lucrative EU pies as possible. FoE is our foe.

    3 I read that since c.1967 Tatchell has campaigned for ‘gay’ rights – the very year that homosexuality was decriminalised in the UK. What the hell more do they want? I consider their cause perverse.

    4 At the 2010 Libertarian Alliance Conference I put it to Tatchell that all the anti-discrimination government laws passed since 1965 should be repealed since they oppress people’s free-association, and the taxpayer compensated for the indignity. He disagreed, and said that it is more important for laws to coerce the rest of us to protect minorities to create a gentler society. I gave him my card just after the talk and asked him to contact me – he did not.

    5 So now Tatchell wants compulsory state, taxpayer-funded, indoctrination of infant children and onwards, regular monitoring of them to see how well the indoctrination is working, and penalties for them and their disobedient parents for the rest of their lives. This is wicked enough – children and adults made second-class citizens, if citizens at all, for what they think and say. After c.60 years of Leftist Postmodernist full-spectrum coercion – which they consider still a work in progress – I am wise enough to know Tatchell’s demands will not end there. What’s to follow – Newspeak dictionaries required for everyone like Little Red Books, state child-abduction, sterilisation and abortions for dissident children parents, genetic modification, drug ‘therapy’, electro-convulsive treatment, state childrens homes a la Ceaușescu, imprisonment in concentration camps, Room 101?

    6 I don’t seriously object to campaigners trying to persuade people about the virtue of their ideas, but I draw the line when they coerce other people. Tatchell has gone well over the line. He is a dangerous man. Damn him.

    • I agree. To his credit, Tatchell did change my views towards homosexuals many years ago. But I am heartily fed up with the militant homosexualism or whatever you call it that we have to endure today. As far as I’m concerned, what adults do in the privacy of their homes is nobody’s business but their own – not mine and certainly not the government’s. But that is as far as it goes. Such things as sexual preferences used to be a private matter, and should remain so in my view. Everybody should be treated equally under the law, and that is all. Homosexuality is all but compulsory today, and I for one do not like the effect it must be having on young people, who are confused enough as it is about such matters.

  8. I think one basic problem here is a confusion between equality and tolerance. At least one commenter has praised Tatchell for his role in achieving what is considered to be ‘equality’ for homosexuals (perhaps ‘parity’ would be the better word), but I strongly disagree.

    This, as I see it, speaks to one of the flaws in the libertarian mindset, in that you assume that ‘equality’ can work on the basis of individuated rights without any reference to collective interests. This, in turn, goes back to a deeper confusion: that between substance and form. Equality, like freedom, is not a ‘form’ or structure, rather it is a substance in quality. It is the result of the nature of a society. Sometimes libertarians give me the impression that they think you can stick a badge on something and call it ‘equality’ or ‘freedom’ and that will be sufficient, when in reality what makes a society or community free or equal is its culture and the type of people that live in it.

    Homosexuals CANNOT be equal, but they can be tolerated. The criminal law against homosexuality and the ban on its promotion in schools should have been retained. These laws were sensible. There was nothing to stop homosexuals from having whatever private relationships they wanted, and in some parts of the country, the police were able to turn a blind eye to more public activity, as long as it was discreet. At the same time homosexuality was kept firmly at the margins, without any serious influence. Those arrangements were not perfect, but they were workable and could have evolved piecemeal to make society kinder to people who are a bit different from the norm.

    Instead, tolerance was abandoned in favour of ‘equality’, which in reality meant a power struggle in which homosexuals have acted as a collective interest at the expanse of the wider population.

    Individuated societies don’t and can’t work because, first, the law and public policy cannot be neutral, in fact they always serve at least one interest or another; second, because basing things on individual rights does not take account of the verity that human beings are not equal but in fact of vastly different types: homosexuality is a sub-optimal attribute and therefore homosexuals cannot be equal to heterosexuals; third, reliance on the observance of individual rights cannot work because of an important aspect of human nature: the tendency to be tribal (whether it is an ethnic, sexual, economic, political, commercial or some other interest).

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