30 March 2009

Socialist ideology among people of influence

Dame Janet Vaughan[1], like Mary Adams[2], was a Fellow Traveller, as communist sympathisers were then called. In Mary Adams’s environment I picked up on a lot of the basic attitudes of communism. As they came out in communist propaganda, they were blunt and unvarnished, without the justificatory ideology in which modern British socialism has wrapped them.

The hatred of innate ability was very clear, with no complicated suggestions that it was evenly distributed over all social classes. Working class to be promoted, precocious achievement to be prevented.

Mary Adams quoted with approval the Russian prescription that children should not be allowed to read before the age of seven; they should be having social interactions. If you wiped out of my mind all the associations arising from everything I had read before the age of seven, and the conclusions which I drew from it, a very significant part of my mental background would be gone. In fact it would not be possible, as so much of what I thought later depended, implicitly or explicitly, on my early reading.

A belief in socialism implies in practice a wish to deny opportunity to innate ability and independence of mind, particularly in combination. At least, I have always found it to be so.

So it was singularly unfortunate for me to go to Somerville, where Dame Janet was a violent and ruthless implementer of communist ideals. It is not surprising that tutors at Somerville took every opportunity to trip up those with high IQs or aspirations to achieve something in their lives.

Recently there was an article about some ‘gifted children’ in the Daily Mail (25 March 2009), applying to them the system of interpretation already in existence at the time of my education, and applied to me both by the local community in Essex and by Dame Janet.

In this system of interpretation, ‘ambition’ can only be the result of parental influence and is likely to make them ‘abnormal’; taking exams is described as ‘pressure’, getting ahead of other children is likely to isolate them from others (which is regarded as a bad thing), and ‘normality’ and ‘normal social interactions’ are stressed as overridingly important.

From an old-fashioned point of view it might seem strange that a person with strong communist sympathies, implying as they do a hatred of innate ability and personal ambition, should have been considered a suitable person to appoint as Principal of an Oxford college.

[1] Principal of Somerville College, Oxford, 1945-1967.

[2] A former Head of Television Talks at the BBC.

24 March 2009

My attempts to get freedom, and reversion to tribalism

My attempts to get any freedom of action in my life have always been strenuously opposed; when I was at school or university, taking exams in my own way and under my own auspices was seen as freedom, and prevented. When I was thrown out as an adult, attempts to get more freedom than none at all made me a criminal and I was a person to be opposed.

The theme of reducing freedom, and increasing intervention and supervision, is dominant in modern society. The object of the modern religion is the complete elimination of freedom from human life. On the face of it, what is aimed at is reversion to tribalism. Presumably in tribal societies there is no possibility of doing anything but to live out one’s life according to the tribal conventions, fulfilling the demands of the tribal lifestyle and with one’s every action under constant scrutiny from other members of the tribe. One would be very vulnerable to slanders, whether founded or not, as one is in modern society, and conforming to the social consensus about what one should do, and precisely how it should be done, would be all-important.

But in modern society the underlying principles are understood and acted upon in a very abstract way. Until I was prevented from taking the School Certificate exam at 13, I could have been supposed (at least by a superficial observer) to be doing whatever I did because I was told to do it, not because it was what I wanted to do myself. But then it became clear that I really wanted to get on with taking exams to acquire qualifications by reference to my own internal criteria, and I became a reprobate to be hunted down, as I have been ever since, apart from the very short time when it appeared that some of the most old-fashioned members of the Society for Psychical Research would actually support me in getting funding for an institutional environment of which I would be the Director, i.e. have some unsupervised freedom to do what I saw as needing to be done.

When I was 14, after having been prevented from taking the School Certificate exam, I felt that my cover had been blown, and I resented that. (By cover I mean the ostensible equivalence between what I wanted to do and what other people wanted me to do.) The people supposedly responsible for considering my interests should have been prepared, I thought, to give me cover at least until I had acquired some usable qualifications.

You could see the hatred of freedom in the modern religion as related to the Old Testament Garden of Eden story; the individual must remain obedient to God-Society by having no will of his own; if he eats the apple and starts to act on his own knowledge of good and evil, he is disobedient to God and is to be driven out of organised society as a depraved criminal.

This is more or less the interpretation of the Fall of Man story that occurred in some forms of Gnosticism: the apple (the forbidden fruit) was the gnosis, and in at least one version Jesus was the serpent, encouraging human beings to pick and eat it.

18 March 2009

Further reflections on my past history

Sir George Joy and W.H Salter, who at first supported me (at least within normal social parameters) were both relatively cut off from the full impact of the modern ideology.

Once it became known that I aimed to remedy my position by building up capital, aiming at enough capital to provide endowment for at least a small residential college in the first instance (although even that first objective appeared hundreds of years in the future), Rosalind Heywood quickly and effortlessly turned everyone against me. By that time she knew of Somerville’s hostility towards me and that it was the wish of the Principal, Dame Janet Vaughan, that I should be driven away from Oxford. The Principal had socially conferred status and everyone wanted her to have her way. Of course Rosalind might, and probably would, have concluded quite independently that I was the sort of person who, once thrown down, should be kept down, but she would never wish to stand up for an outcast person against a Dame Janet.

So, to prevent my returning to Oxford which would make Dame Janet livid – she had already been made livid by my returning after a fashion with the Perrott Studentship to do a post-graduate degree - the offer that the Coombe-Tennants would buy me a large house in Oxford had to be withdrawn. At the time I did not understand Sir George’s look of shocked apprehension when I said that I could not take any more prevarication and would have to use my own pathetic savings to buy a much smaller house.

In retrospect I do understand it; the breakdown of the Coombe-Tennant house offer was intended to prevent me from returning to Oxford, and if I bought myself a house, however small, I would be living in Oxford against the will of Dame Janet. ‘You can’t do that’, Sir George said, shocked and apprehensive. ‘Well, yes I can’, I said. I did not add, ‘But only just’, because he knew that anyway.

I was forced to sell all my equity investments at a bad time in the markets (none of my ‘supporters’ offered me a bridging loan to enable me to sell at a better time) and it took every penny I had. I had scarcely any income, so everyone devoted themselves to driving me out by starvation.

You may say that the hostility which has always surrounded me (at least after being thrown out) emanated from Somerville as its centre. One of the things I became aware of at the Society for Psychical Research was that it is a small world at the top; all influential people are on the same networks, and all think and act alike. So, as I sometime say, ‘Once one person is against you, everyone is against you’.

The intensity of Professor Sir Alister Hardy’s hostility towards me probably owed something to his wife’s connection to Somerville via her sister, the Bursar, although the flame was constantly fuelled by Rosalind.

When I got some minimal support from Cecil King[1], Mary Adams[2], a little shocked but not too much because she could foresee how soon he could be turned against me, said, ‘It’s a miracle’. And in a way, I suppose it was. Cecil King had plenty of top-level contacts and it could not have been long before he knew of Somerville’s intentions concerning me; but he had approached the SPR out of the blue and I had managed to make use of Sir George’s last remnant of ambivalence towards me to squeeze out an absolute minimum of support. Which immediately made everyone very angry indeed.

[1] Then Chairman of IPC, publishers of the Daily Mirror.
[2] A former Head of Television Talks at the BBC.

13 March 2009

'Trained' - to support the ideology

copy of a letter to an academic philosopher

As usual, I was not shortlisted for the Cambridge Professorship in philosophy, which would have given me a small part of the income and social status that I need for my suppressed philosophy department to start publishing its very relevant and much-needed contributions to academic philosophy.

I know it is your opinion that no contributions from me or other members of my department are ‘needed’ because, as you said, ‘Philosophers are criticising one another.’ And I know also that because you have socially conferred status as an academic your opinion is supposed to be authoritative and meaningful, whereas mine is not. However, I do not actually accept that my opinion is of less value than yours, although I do not have the social recognition as an academic which I should have.

It is very definitely my opinion that all areas of philosophy which are perceived as having a bearing on the theory and practice of socialist ideology (which is nearly all of them) are virtually worthless. In fact, their only raison d’etre is to provide tendentious support towards the downfall of Western civilisation and the reversion to a barbaric tribalism.

A ‘trained’ philosopher is one who has learned to take seriously what other ‘philosophers’ say; and to argue about, or write descriptions of, the situation within the parameters which are defined by never questioning certain basic and all-important assumptions. The fact that these assumptions are not questioned usually means that what is written can be readily exposed as incoherent and inconsistent, often even without direct reference to the underlying assumptions that are implicitly being made. However, this is something that socially appointed philosophers do not do – it is what they have been ‘trained’ not to do (nor, even outside the system, is it being done by anyone at present), but it is what we would do.

So I do think that the contributions which my philosophy department has been being prevented from making in the last 50 years should be regarded as being of sufficient value to justify the financial support which would make them possible. Although, of course, my opinion of what is worth doing is socially regarded as automatically discredited compared with, for example, yours, since you have a statusful and salaried academic position, whereas I do not.

Incidentally, all modern philosophers evidently feel justified in rejecting my writings as ‘not proper philosophy’, and hence in believing that it is right and proper for me to be prevented from making any contribution to academic philosophy or any other area by being starved of money and social status. However, nothing I have published has been intended as ‘philosophy’ in the sense of being intended to contribute to academic philosophy or having anything to do with my claims on a salaried and statusful appointment as a philosopher. I have written nothing while holding a salaried appointment as a philosopher, and if I had done, what I would have written would have been quite different and consisted of exposing the weakness and inconsistency of what is produced in great quantities by ‘philosophers’ with salaried appointments.

11 March 2009

Crazy crusade

Tendentious stuff continues to pour out of universities based on the unfounded assumption that there is no such thing as innate ability or genetically determined personality characteristics. Or perhaps one should say, founded only on wishful thinking.

The ‘critical obstacle’ to an official crusade to widen the social class mix of students is [state school students’] poor performance compared with private school pupils, it was claimed. In a veiled attack on Labour’s record, [Cambridge University] said it had failed to break the ‘pernicious link between deprivation and educational attainment’...

In an analysis, Dr Geoff Parks and Richard Partington said state schools were ‘unlikely’ to hit the target of accounting for over two-thirds of admissions to leading universities ‘unless their exam performance improves’ ... But, said Dr Parks and Mr Partington, the real barrier to top universities was an ‘uneven’ education playing field and the link between a child’s prospects and their social background.

The research follows a Commons inquiry which found that almost £400 million has been spent on boosting recruitment of working-class students to university with barely any effect. Cambridge’s intervention will rile Universities Secretary John Denham, who believes leading universities should do more to change their social make-up. (Daily Mail, 28 February 2009)

Well, of course there is an uneven educational and academic playing field. Exceptional ability arouses hostility in its egalitarian-minded teachers and tutors, both at school and at university.

It is easy to prevent the exceptional from demonstrating their ability realistically in exam results. It is also possible, though maybe less easy, by methods such as 'dumbing down', to improve the exam results of those with much less aptitude for academic activities, which may well be combined with little natural inclination to pursue them. Both procedures seem to be a standard feature of modern education, though their effects are apparently insufficient to satisfy the expectations of ‘researchers’.

A further £400 million of taxpayers’ money has been spent on making the position of the able in modern society even worse, while even the tiniest support is rigorously withheld from the relevant departments of my suppressed independent university, continuing to prevent it from publishing criticisms of such things as this tendentious report, which has the spurious claim to authoritativeness of coming from Cambridge, socially recognised as a ‘university’ and massively supported with taxpayers’ money.

Even a four-hundredth part of £400 million (0.25%), that is £1 million, if donated to my independent university, would enable it to contribute to current debates by writing and publishing a few books and articles for a period of 2 or 3 years. That would only be a drop in the ocean of what is really needed, but it would be a start and get us out of the deadlocked stasis in which we remain at present.

05 March 2009

On being "influential"

I would like to comment on the word ‘influential’ in one of my testimonials, in the phrase ‘influential published work on abnormal perceptual states’. This implies that the ‘research work’ which has been done, and the books and other material which have been written, in areas nominally related to those in which I attempted to start working myself, is in some way meaningful as a consequence of it. It is true that much of it may be regarded as resulting from my initial work in the sense that it is highly unlikely that it would have been done if my work had not been published, but it was no substitute for what my colleagues and I would have done, and would still start to do as soon as not prevented from doing so by lack of financial support.

It has always been a line of academics to taunt and insult me, statusless and unsalaried as I was (and still am), by describing me as ‘free to follow my interests’.

The system of social interpretation to be followed in the oppressive society is universally known and applied. Whenever we meet or interact with potential supporters and associates, which is usually a very brief encounter and generally abortive, they may ask what we have ‘done’ or ‘are doing’, and when they can identify an area of work by name they start to tell us about rubbish that is being ‘done’ in that nominal area. We ask them to stop telling us about this, or sending us provocative and irritating reports, as we are not even in a position to publish our criticisms of it, which we would do if we were adequately rewarded with salary and status for doing so, although being able to criticise other people’s work would still be no substitute for being able to get on with what we would do ourselves if not kept rigorously deprived of opportunity.

Or else they just start to put on a phoney show of ‘fascination’ as if that was meant to ingratiate themselves with us, when they are doing nothing to contribute either money or work to our constricted position, nor to publicise our need for such things among their contacts.

04 March 2009

Comments on socialism

As Margaret Thatcher is alleged to have said: ‘The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money’.

But by the time the money runs out, a lot of people will have been empowered by other people’s money to interfere damagingly (and for quite a long time) in other people’s lives, and that is what socialism is all about. So what’s wrong with that?