Sometimes, the merest whiff provides all information required for an instant and thorough understanding of an object’s purpose, motivation and methodology.
In less time than it takes to read aloud the three words of Common Sense Society (CSS) its entire philosophy is known: Its aims, its history, its strategy, its tactics, its connections to like-minded groups, its personnel, and its terminology. Presumably, CSS aimed for such rapid awareness by others of itself.
Last week, 20th October (2022), CSS “launched” its British arm. The event was at the notoriously disgusting Reform Club. Some extreme politicians attended.
Every far-right libertarian group has the same aim: Wealth concentration. To achieve that aim each group promotes free-racketeering and each has a method for coercing debate toward that end via a variety of con tricks. From pseudo-economic mendacious analyses of Institute Of Economic Affairs (IEA), to culture war distraction of New Culture Forum (NCF), to suppression of full British history by Free Speech Union (FSU), to blaming victims of Social Murder for their plight by Centre For Social Justice, to mis-use of Christian values by Orthodox Conservatives, each lobby group or think-tank has a constructed unreality to use against reason, logic and knowledge.
At CSS there are echoes of FSU and NCF – its UK Director Emma Webb works at both, there is exactly the same elevation of Europeanism above the rest of the world that is favoured by Eton’s version of Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, namely Douglas Murray, and Shanker Singham’s obsession with “property rights,” that he uses to justify imposition of charter territories (a return to feudalism), is prominent in CSS literature and rhetoric.
It has fellowships that include on site courses, a strategy used in USA (e.g. Babson College) and by Ron Manners’ Mannkal Economic Education Foundation in Australia whereat Boris Johnson’s recent Special Adviser Chloe Westley learnt her tricks of misrepresentation and misdirection. At its September “intensive seminar series” among its “distinguished faculty” was Katherine Birbalsingh who is infamous for several reasons including comments, made as head teacher of a school, “if child says teacher is being racist, back the teacher. Whatever the child says, back the teacher” and “sexual assault doesn’t happen with us. Our boys would never treat our girls like that. It just wouldn’t happen.”
(Unless otherwise stated, all quotes below are from CSS website.)
As stated above, every libertarian group has an angle. CCS pretends to present its philosophy in the form of a triplet: Liberty, prosperity and beauty. It adds a caveat: “Our understanding of these principles is a result of close study of our inherited Western civilization.” Its use of “our” throughout explanations of its objectives means “Western.” It emphasised “our cultural inheritance” as something to be studied and appreciated. In the twenty-first century separating the people of the world into European (including USA, Canada, etc.) and everywhere else is a very odd stance. Similar to unpleasant constructed perspectives of Douglas Murray and of imperialist think-tank Henry Jackson Society (where Webb is a fellow), CSS harks back deliberately to nineteenth century divisions when European hordes controlled most of the world via force and robbed it blind.
It claims it believes in “prosperity” as a positive aim. However, there is no elucidation of how everyone can enjoy prosperity. Exactly as Shanker Singham manipulates language and logic in his fraudulent exposition of both the motivation of and the operation of charter territories CSS says “securing an even brighter future through market competition will require a renewed commitment to economic understanding, education, and the protection of private property.” Just like conman Singham, it knows free-racketeering brings prosperity only to a small group of people and everyone else is shafted.
CSS’s performative arrogance is simultaneously sinister and absurd: “CSS helps future leaders,” “CSS works to champion future entrepreneurs and policy makers,” “CSS–UK is dedicated to educating and equipping its members, alumni, and local citizens to take effective action to strengthen their communities,” and “we educate 21st-century generations and inform public discourse” are alternative phrases for ‘we inculcate grifters with the skills of manipulation and bullshittery.’ Its self-congratulation tends toward cultish mantras: “We are cultivating a future.” Its introductory statement combines its self-risen vantage point with its belief in supremacy of European culture: “The group [founders of CSS] aimed to explore the ideas, cultures, and geography that have shaped our history in order to best contribute to a future that fosters human flourishing.”
CSS trains young people to become marketing activists for free market politics with emphasis on protection of property. By property they mean land, landlordism, ownership of businesses and ownership of public services.
Couched in traditional philosophical terminology, like nineteenth century conceited liberals, “liberty” is framed as liberty of the individual. Academic crank Niall Ferguson is quoted saying liberty relies upon “the security of private property rights.” For most people when considering what liberty means “private property rights” are not the first thought that comes to mind.
Its keenness for beauty, expressed as appreciation of the arts, might at first glance seem acceptable but it is merely a preamble to complaints about reasonable expositions of true and full history of both individuals and of governments. As a regiment in conservatives’ phoney culture war CSS is worried that “woke elites want to tear down the United Kingdom’s rich heritage, rituals, and traditions in the name of partisan ideologies,” and so it “will serve as a hub to discuss, champion, and preserve these traditions through our public events, private reading groups, musical performances, guest lectures, and other programs.”
Alongside aforementioned Birbalsingh and Ferguson other actors in the rectum of the libertarian community connected to CSS are late bigot Roger Scruton after whom CSS named a prize it awards to best Git and inaugural recipient of the prize professional mansplainer and Stanley Unwin devotee Jordan Peterson.
It places the word “moral” onto its ideology, a tactic Lee Rowley used in his ‘Next Generation Capitalism’ paper for Free Market Forum (a.k.a. Freer), a subsidiary of IEA. Therein Rowley said “there is a moral mission at the heart of our politics,” and “there is morality in spending restraint.” CSS says it “became a celebration of the moral inheritance which has formed our common civilization.” (Note the use of “our.”) In a description of one of its fellowship courses it equates “moral principles of U.S. statecraft as understood by its Founders” with USA military imperialism today.
The intersection between moral behaviour and free-racketeering or imperialism is an empty set. Selfishness, greed, venality and theft are not compatible with a moral philosophy.
A second similarity between Rowley’s paper and CSS rhetoric is the depiction of armies of educated libertarians going out into the world to change it equipped with equal quantities of conmanship and self-delusion. The subtle difference is Rowley wanted his disciples to persuade younger people via trickery to believe in free-racketeering as a solution whereas CSS wants its people to exist in a science fiction utopia of work being optional while bathing in nature and arts.
CSS wants “a future that is free, flourishing, thoughtful, and full of enduring meaning” because it has made “observations of what contributes to a meaningful life.” It stinks of separation from realities of life. People always strive to have the life they want but we don’t live in isolation. In a world dominated by a few wealthy people controlling wealth, prosperity and, thus, liberty, there are multitudinous dampeners on ambition. The exact political system that CSS exists to perpetuate is the greatest block on people achieving their life’s aims.
As an apparent contrast to presentation of its alleged lofty aims it is useful to observe the social media contributions of its Director Emma Webb.
- Webb supported religious extremists harassing pregnant women at health clinics
- She enthusiastically promoted a message from someone who chose to use a murder as a tool to be extremely racist
- She despaired at changes in London between 1930 and today: “What we’ve done to this city and this country…” Her comments referred to a film of central London featuring mostly white people
- She endorsed an essay that praised fascist Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni. In another message Webb approvingly called Meloni a “firecracker“
- She opined that “our great constitutional monarchy is the original protection against authoritarianism“
Every comment made by CSS Director is positive toward a far-right view or toward a far-right activist or politician, including blatant fascists.
Sometimes, the merest whiff provides all information required for an instant and thorough understanding of an object’s purpose, motivation and methodology. Common Sense Society is another link in the far-right circle jerk.
Links to brief descriptions of other right-wing think-tanks: UK think-tanks