31 December 2010

The Food of the Gods

The following text is from the last page and a half of H G Wells’s The Food of the Gods. When I was twelve I regarded this as the most inspiring passage of prose I had ever come across. I still find it expresses something I can feel identified with.

‘It is not that we would oust the little people from the world,’ he said, ‘in order that we, who are no more than one step upwards from their littleness, may hold their world for ever. It is the step we fight for and not ourselves.’

‘We are here, Brothers, to what end? To serve the spirit and the purpose that has been breathed into our lives. We fight not for ourselves, for we are but the momentary hands and eyes of the life of the World ... Through us and through the little folk the Spirit looks and learns. From us by word and birth and act it must pass – to still greater lives.’

‘This earth is no resting place; this earth is no playing place ... We fight not for ourselves but for growth – growth that goes on for ever. Tomorrow, whether we live or die, growth will conquer through us. That is the law of the spirit for ever more. To grow according to the will of God! To grow out of these cracks and crannies, out of these shadows and darknesses, into greatness and the light!’

‘Greater’, he said, speaking with slow deliberation, ‘greater, my Brothers! And then – still greater. To grow and again – to grow. To grow at last into the fellowship and understanding of God. Growing. Till the earth is no more than a footstool. Till the spirit shall have driven fear into nothingness, and spread ...’ He swung his arm heavenward: – ‘There!’

His voice ceased. The white glare of one of the searchlights wheeled about, and for a moment fell upon him, standing out gigantic with hand upraised against the sky.

For one instant he shone, looking up fearlessly into the starry deeps, mail-clad, young and strong, resolute and still. Then the light had passed and he was no more than a great black outline against the starry sky – a great black outline that threatened with one mighty gesture the firmament of heaven and all its multitude of stars.

24 December 2010

The state’s infidelity

copy of a letter to an academic

Apart from means-testing the pensions, i.e. depriving Charles and me together of about £4,000 per annum, maybe more – which we would have been getting if the means-testing had not been introduced – the pensions due to Christine and Fabian have been delayed by a total of 9 years, thus depriving us of at least £50,000 (9 x present pension as reduced by means-testing) which the government should have paid to us if pension qualifying ages had not been retrospectively changed.

Thus the means-testing and change in qualifying ages together have deprived Fabian and Christine of at least £70,000 which they were due to be paid on reaching their former qualifying ages, both being fully paid up, or very nearly so, in terms of qualifying years (i.e. years in which requisite contributions have been made).

This income would not have been adequate to set up a satisfactory residential college with at least one research department, but the future loss of it is a serious drag on our continuing attempts to make progress towards the start of our 40-year adult academic careers.

23 December 2010

Benefits Christmas

The Daily Mail has an article about a mother with four children, living on benefits, who is planning to spend a large sum on giving the children a good Christmas.

Benefits Christmas: Single mother Eloise spends £3000 to give her four children EVERYTHING they want for Christmas. And guess what? You're paying for it.

... she’s not a member of your average working family. She’s on benefits, meaning that effectively it’s your money which is paying for her children’s Christmas - Xboxes and all. Moreover, as far as Eloise is concerned, it’s all entirely fair - in fact, the merest hint of a raised eyebrow at her circumstances is enough to make her see red. ‘It makes me furious when people criticise how I choose to spend my money,’ she says. ‘Taxpayers seem to feel that they have the right to tell people on benefits how to spend their money,’ she adds. ‘They don’t - the government decides what people like me are entitled to, not the taxpayer. If it’s offered to us, then of course we’re going to take it and we shouldn’t be criticised for doing so. Frankly, I believe it’s my right to do what I want this Christmas with the benefits I deserve. ’

The Daily Mail journalist points out that ‘it’s your money’ (i.e. taxpayers’ money) ‘which is paying for her children’s Christmas’.

Working out what she receives in ‘handouts’ per year, the journalist makes it come to £21,528. That includes free school meals, but does not include the free ‘education’ and medical ‘health service’ which is accessible to all, including those who are contributing to the cost of it by paying taxes.

Including the cost of free ‘education’ for four children and free ‘health care’ for five people might, perhaps, double the figure representing how much it is costing taxpayers to support this family. It is scarcely surprising that the country is bankrupt.

It is a fact of genetics that if conditions arise which favour the survival of life forms (plants or animals) with certain characteristics, a subgroup of the species soon arises which is increasingly well adapted to the favourable conditions and increasingly numerous. For example, subgroups of various birds have developed which are adapted to deriving their support from bird-tables supplied by human beings, probably becoming in the process less well adapted to supporting themselves in other ways.

There is no reason to suppose that the situation can be remedied by offering those living on benefits inducements to work. The only possible solution is to scrap the Welfare State altogether, including state education and medicine.

That is, it is the only solution that could possibly work; but I am not supposing that there is any possibility of its being implemented by a democratically elected government.

Brief analyses such as these should be being expanded into research papers, but this is unlikely to happen unless Oxford Forum is supported.

18 December 2010

The right and wrong kinds of inspiration

Bel Mooney in the Daily Mail wrote recently about the Inspirational Women of the Year awards. (Nobody had nominated me.) Typically, the nominees had suffered a severe setback in life, such as major physical injury, but continued to live with apparent enthusiasm, setting up a charity to provide help and counselling to people with similar injuries.

‘It does require putting your own moans last’, Bel Mooney said. ‘They identify a need and just go for it. As Katie Piper said, “You can look to the left and to the right and see people with far worse problems.”’

Clearly someone who responds to a bad situation in their own life by trying to ameliorate it, as I did, is taking their own ‘moans’ seriously and hence cannot qualify for approval or admiration, although they appear to qualify for unlimited opposition.

My colleague Charles McCreery’s mother, Lady McCreery, was well aware of what made women qualify for being regarded as ‘inspirational’. She went every year to the lunches at which these awards were made, being a close acquaintance of the Marchioness of Lothian, who ran them for some years, having started them.

When Charles brought her to meet me, soon after I first met him, Lady McCreery took an instant dislike to me. Of course, it is quite possible that she had already gathered from other statusful people that I was persona non grata. On the face of it, it might appear that I was not doing anything very different from what had been done by acceptable people regarded as ‘inspirational’, in responding to adversity in my own life by setting up an independent academic institution for research in previously neglected areas.

Lady McCreery told Charles that she had got me taped at once. I was, she said, ‘patronising, offhand and humourless’.

Far from wishing to bring my efforts to the attention of the Marchioness of Lothian and other supporters of inspirational women, she proceeded to stop at nothing to thwart my efforts.

14 December 2010

Social outsiders, their parents and their siblings

I have known some other people who suffered, as I did myself, the consequences of living in a society that is hostile to individuality, especially that of the exceptionally able. In such a society the ‘educational’ system is geared to deprive the able of opportunity and to turn their families against them, unless, as very often happens, they (the individuals) can be turned against their families, blaming them for ‘pushing’ them, and they become dropouts.

Parents may not realise that society has become different from what it was before its transformation by the ‘Welfare State’, and that it is now necessary for them to protect their children from the destructiveness of teachers and of the ‘educational’ system in general (as well as from doctors, social workers, etc).

Other members of a person’s family, as well as the parents, are likely to be turned against them. Any sign of being ‘got down’, or feeling bad about the position into which they have been forced by the system, is taken as a sign of ‘having problems’, which is supposed to imply a need for ‘help’ (i.e. interference) as there cannot possibly be any objective cause of difficulties. This enables the person's siblings, or others, who may be jealous of their real (if maltreated and suppressed) ability, to stick the knife in.

If the opportunities with which the educational system has left them are ultimately too unsuitable, so that they are driven to attempting to do something under their own auspices instead of within the system, they are regarded as not needing help since that is not a ‘proper’ job or way of life.

Of course this is much to the advantage of any sibling, who will get larger shares of any handouts from which their outlawed brother or sister is now excluded.

09 December 2010

Socialism and slavery

So many things turn up, and so fundamental, that I should be writing about and am prevented from doing; but this is just the downfall of civilisation, and it is meant to destroy people like me.

So just a brief note. I recently saw something on the French television about the cholera in Haiti, said to be so virulent a strain that it will be years before Haiti is free from it. I did not follow this exactly; some of the woman commentators speak very clearly, but this was not one of them. But the gist of it certainly was as follows: people whose ancestors had been slaves were so angry about the past history of the island, and about the social inequalities which persisted, supposedly as a result of it, that they had been putting cholera into the water systems so that it would spread to all parts of the island.

This would be in revenge (revanche) for the slavery (esclavage). It sounded as if they were just helping the epidemic along, rather than having started it in the first place.

So this is what the modern ideology has brought Haiti to, as a supposed improvement on its former state. There will evidently be a larger proportion of people who fancy having power over other people as doctors, and a fair percentage of the population will continue to lose their freedom to the disease, whether or not they ever recover from it, and whether or not they do so without falling into the hands of the medical profession. There will be many more doctors, one supposes, than there ever were landowners with slaves working for them. And it is not likely that anyone will acquire any freedom to do more than keep themselves physically alive and contribute (by taxation) to the support of the doctors and nurses, and their slaves.

Is this not an epitome of what socialism is aimed at?

24 November 2010

Can retrospective legislation ever be ‘fair’?

Herewith some brief notes on some of the issues which arise in connection with recent terrible proposals concerning pensioners. I could and should be able to write much more about this and to get it published; only lack of financial support prevents me from doing this. People coming to work here on a voluntary basis would to some extent enable us to do more.

In the Daily Mail of 17 November there is an article about how governments etc. are letting down pensioners by providing them with no way of getting an income out of their savings.

The author of this article suggests that pensioners might be allowed to invest in special bonds paying a ‘decent’ rate of interest, but that the investment should be limited to a maximum of £20,000, so that ‘wealthy’ pensioners would not be able to benefit unfairly by getting an income which they did not really ‘need’. As usual, ‘need’ is defined in a way which implies that no one receiving more than about the level of income support can possibly be in ‘need’ of more.

Of course, most people with some capital must have suffered from the credit crunch, as the powers-that-be wanted them to do, since we know that the aim of modern society is to prevent those who have above average ability from acquiring any freedom of action to go with it.

In another article in the same issue of the Mail, about how pensioners can ‘sensibly’ get more income from their savings, investing in ordinary shares is described as ‘dangerous’. However, it is a lot less so if you have realistic information about what you are doing.

Over the years, we have invited many people to come and live near us so that they could do some work for us on a voluntary or paid basis, and also get the benefit of the information which we receive and discuss, which is relevant to investment and other financial matters.

* * *

The Pensions Minister Steve Webb, defending the raising of the age at which state pensions will be payable, especially for women, has argued that everyone was living longer, so it was ‘only fair’ that they should start to receive their pensions at a later age. This, however, presumes on the modern view of pensions as a ‘contract between the generations’. Originally people were supposed to be paying, with their contributions, for the income that they would eventually receive, which would be paid out of the income of a fund to which they had contributed. In such a situation, of course, the fund would go on being there even after any particular person had stopped drawing from it, for the benefit of future pensioners, and it would be constantly amplified by the contributions of those who did not live long enough to draw on it at all.

In fact, this fund never existed; see the book The Great Pensions Swindle previously referred to. Nevertheless, people were paying contributions into a supposed scheme which had undertaken to produce a pension bearing some relationship to the cost of living, or to the average wage, at a certain definite age, and this was something which people took into account in deciding whether to pay contributions into this scheme or not.

If it was wished to change the age at which pensions would be paid out, on old-fashioned principles it would be necessary to start a completely new scheme which only applied to people who started paying contributions after the new scheme had started. Retrospective legislation, or retrospective change in legislation, is unprincipled, but this is an idea that has been lost sight of.

Ros Altmann, the Director General of Saga, the association for over-50s, has criticised the postponement of the pension age, especially for women, not on the grounds that it is (in effect) retrospective legislation, but because the changes are too rapid and do not give those who are approaching retirement age ‘enough time’ to think about how they can arrange their affairs to compensate for the change.

One might think that an association of people over 50 would have old-fashioned enough ideas to stand up for principles, such as the principle against retrospective legislation. However, the majority of those who are over 50 now have spent most of their lives under the auspices of the modern ideology. In order to have been born before the onset of the Welfare State in 1945, a person would need to be over 65.

18 November 2010

Open letter to a former associate – an Oxford classics graduate

We were sorry when you went away. You know we had a high opinion of your abilities and you were a tremendous asset. Since you left things have gradually got better in certain ways (not because of your having left, of course), and we regretted that, having been with us for so long through many difficult years, you left before we could provide you with even the advantages with which we are now able to provide people.

Building up in so antagonistic a society has been very slow and painful, and above all we find it extremely difficult to get people to work here for any length of time. We have to pay what seems to us quite a high hourly rate for any work we do get, and I always regret it when we pay people who are nothing to do with us, when we would prefer to think that we were helping to improve the position of someone who might be permanent.

If you were to move to Cuddesdon I think we could help you to become increasingly prosperous financially, and we are always aiming to help people here to become property owners. When I remember the sorts of things which you did when you were here before, and appeared not to mind doing too much, I think that any of these things would be extremely valuable to us now, and they are particularly difficult to get people to do, as everyone nowadays seems to be thinking in terms of pretentious and ostensibly highly skilled things, which they are not in fact good at.

We remember that you are a car driver and that could be very useful.

I hope you will consider coming. We would try to make things as good as possible for you if you did. Also please mention us when you are talking to anybody else. I think there are a lot of people these days struggling to get by on pensions, benefits, or otherwise, who could supplement their income fairly painlessly by coming to live nearby and doing a few hours a day of regular work (or more hours, up to full time, if they wanted to).

10 November 2010

A teacher from the Dawn of Time

As I was precocious and read a lot, when I was ten I was certainly as familiar with the pre-1945 world as someone born ten years earlier than I was. This was a very different world, qualitatively, from the post-1945 world. However, in spite of the apparent advantages of the pre-war world, the current ideology must have been incubating within it, and I did not get any support except from people who were a good deal older than I was, more like 40 years older than ten.
When I went to the Society for Psychical Research I was initially supported by Sir George Joy and Helen Verrall (Mrs Salter) in plans which others opposed on account of my lack of social status. And those who were most instrumental in my being promoted to the Lower Fifth when I was thirteen, a maths mistress called Miss Bookey and the Reverend Mother, were both something like 40 years older than I was. All three of us were living in a world view distinct from the current one, but the modern ideology was already active and soon asserted itself.
Celia Green with her parents,
William Green and Dorothy Green, c.1947
Miss Bookey enacted the role of the teacher who could see what opportunities would be good for her inexperienced pupil, and exerted herself to bring them about. You could call this paternalism in the old-fashioned sense. I never experienced anything like this attitude again.
Miss Bookey started to teach me when I was eleven at the start of the Lower Fourth year (second year of grammar school). She appeared to be enthused by my exceptionality and was quoted as having said admiring things about me (e.g. that I was ‘luminous with intelligence’). At the same time she appeared actively to like me.
I remember an incident which, subsequently, I took as an indication that she already had it in mind to get me into a higher form. I asked her for some information about geometry which was not provided by the thin and very introductory book used in that form. ‘It isn’t in your book,’ she said. ‘In the higher forms they use a much larger geometry textbook. Wouldn’t you like to be working from the larger book?’ She peered at me as if trying to read my mind. ‘Oh yes, I would,’ I said uncertainly, wondering what was the relevance of this. Was she going to offer to lend me one of these books?
Nothing appeared to come of this at the time, but some time later, probably about a year later, the Reverend Mother proposed to my father that I should be moved up a year, and when this had happened Miss Bookey (who did not teach the Lower Fifth which I had entered) came up to me in the playground looking very happy and pleased with herself, and asked me how I was getting on.
‘Oh, it’s wonderful,’ I said, ‘Everything is fine. I am just amazed that I am still getting As. I really thought that when I moved up I should be prepared to get Bs and Cs at first.’
‘Oh no!’ she said. ‘You could never get Cs.’ And we parted on that note of congratulatory admiration.
I remember also, as an incident that somehow expresses the outlook of a bygone age, that when I had been told I was going to be moved up a year I received a message from the Reverend Mother asking whether I had done any maths in advance of that which had been done by the form I was in.
I went to the Reverend Mother’s room and said that I was afraid I had not, and (a bit apprehensively) that I hoped this would not make any difference to my being moved up into the Lower Fifth. The Reverend Mother was, like Miss Bookey after the move, looking very happy and pleased with herself. ‘Oh no,’ she said laughingly, putting on an act to a teacher who was sitting in the room. ‘It won’t make any difference to that. But it might affect whether you move up to the Upper Fifth. I was wondering whether to move you up two years straight away.’
Actually I had constantly asked my father to help me get started on later chapters in the maths textbooks, as well as on topics that were completely beyond them, such as trigonometry and calculus, but he had always refused on some pretext or another, such as that I could not do calculus until I had done more algebra first.
In languages, my father had been unable to hold me up, as he could not prevent me from proceeding to more advanced reading. He had given me some initial help in visiting Foyle’s Bookshop to pick out the very easiest readers, although there were sometimes signs that he disapproved of what I chose to read.

31 October 2010

Simon Cowell's £165m: is it enough?

Discussing the rivalry of two people called Simon Cowell and Simon Fuller, today's Mail on Sunday Review quotes someone as saying: ‘This is not about money – both men have more money than they could spend in their lifetimes.’ They are said to have £165m and £350m respectively. Well, that is taking a distinctly limited view of what they might want to do in their lifetimes.

Suppose, like me, they need to set up an independent university to be productive in many areas of research, starting with just one residential college, at least one scientific research department with laboratories, a few departments for purely intellectual research in philosophy, history, education, etc, and a university printing press to publish books. I do not think £350m would go all the way to setting up such an establishment and running it for long, as deriving an income from capital becomes ever more hazardous.

But do not get me wrong. I would be very pleased to be given any lesser amount and would make the most productive use of it that I could.

In the same issue of the Review, there is a two-page article by a salaried academic called Ian Morris about his own tendentious and fashionable views, reminding one of the burning need for a historical department to be set up under my auspices to publish criticisms of such views, along with a more realistic account of the rise and ongoing fall of Western civilisation. The article in the Review is introduced by this paragraph:

Last week, historian Ian Morris revealed how, at the end of the last Ice Age, a simple accident of geography gave the West the advantages that led to it dominating the world for the last two centuries. His argument forces us to accept that our success was nothing to do with superior brains, leaders or culture – and that the East is on the brink of taking over. That idea may be hard to get used to . . .

No, it isn’t hard to get used to. It has been prevalent for a long time. What would be hard to get used to would be the accounts of the situation that my history department would publish if it were able to. And it should be able to; only financial support is needed to make it so.

Professor Ian Morris is at Stanford University, where research on lucid dreams was carried out for decades by salaried academics, and may still be being carried out – without any funding being offered to me to enable me to continue contributing to the development of this field of research, which had been initiated by me.

27 October 2010

Lucid dreams: watching others get the benefit

copy of a letter to a journalist

When you came you asked me whether I regretted having written the first book on lucid dreams, and I should like to answer that in writing. It may be too late for your article, but I am often asked similar questions by journalists, and maybe when I have written it down it can go in my forthcoming book.

In my previous letter to you I referred to academics who make applications for funding for a project, don’t get any, and then find someone else is doing a similar project. Do you suppose they regret making the application? Of course with hindsight they may think that if they had known the outcome they would not have bothered. However, they could only have found out what the outcome would be by making the application, so in a sense I suppose they do not regret having made the attempt.

My position about lucid dreams is similar. I had no wish to write a book about lucid dreams, and would not have done so if I had had any way of proceeding with actual laboratory research on lucid dreams or on anything else, but all the possible sources of funding with which I had contact were impervious. So I made what was in effect an application for funding. I had no way of doing that except by publicising to the world my acquaintance with this potential field of research.

Of course, the academic who finds his ideas being copied has no cause for complaint. His ideas are not protected by patent or copyright, and if he makes them known to the personnel of a grant-giving body they may leak. There is no law against insider dealing in this area. In any case, even if there were, he would find it difficult to pin anything on anybody, unless his application drew on unpublished material known only to himself and this clearly appeared in the design of the other person’s project. This is very unlikely to be the case, and if specialised information is not involved, the other academic can always claim that he thought up the project independently. Great minds are said to think alike, and mediocre ones certainly do.

And, of course, it does the rejected academic no real harm (unless you count emotional bitterness as harmful) to see someone else implementing his ideas. In this respect, however, the emotional pain has been decidedly more severe in my case in relation to lucid dreams than that of the average rejected academic is likely to be. The academic has his status and salary; a certain modicum of lifestyle and intellectual activity is assured. I was attempting to compensate for my lack of these things by getting funding to enable me to live a decent academic life, and this was a desperate long shot at best.

It therefore caused me some intensity of despair to observe that one of my long shots had in fact succeeded to the extent of providing other people, already safely on academic career tracks, with a field of research. As the minimal funding which had made possible the writing of the book had run out, there was no way in which I could hope to improve on the application for funding which I had just made. A person on a desert island cannot exactly say that he regrets having fired a distress rocket without success; he understands what led him to do it, and in the same circumstances he would do the same again. But if I had known what the consequences of initiating this field of research would be I might have refrained. The expansion of work and interest in this field can only appear to someone in my position as a cruel mockery of it, a refinement of torture which I could have done without.


I am applying, and shall continue to apply, for Professorships and Research Lectureships in psychology and other subjects – without as yet having ever been shortlisted – in order to develop the possibilities opened up by my pioneering work in lucid dreaming and other areas.

I continue also to apply for funding for a residential college cum research department within which to carry out research work, to increase the claim of myself and others here to fully salaried senior academic appointments in Oxford, Cambridge or overseas universities of approximately equivalent status.

22 October 2010

An appeal to Harvard

I try to know as little as possible about what research or pseudo-research is being done in subjects in which I am being prevented from doing research myself, including (and especially) those which were initiated by our pioneering work in those fields. The work we did when we had the Cecil King money was intended to obtain funding for further work in those fields in circumstances equivalent to those enjoyed by salaried academics, either immediately associated with an adequate appointment in a university, or leading to one as rapidly as possible.

Actually the work on out-of-the-body experiences and lucid dreams, although as groundbreaking as it could possibly be in such bad and constricted circumstances, led to no positive result for me at all.

Instead, research started to be done in these areas by academics who already had salary, status and access to facilities etc.

Now I see, blood-boilingly as usual, an item in the Daily Mail about ‘research’ on lucid dreams at Harvard, etc. What their psychological advantages are supposed to be, and what sort of people are supposed to have them.

I have already put on our website a request for all those who have ‘worked’ on lucid dreams, as part of a normal salaried career, to make a contribution of at least £1000 per annum towards supporting me and enabling me eventually to do something, bearing in mind that I have to provide myself with an institutional environment and ancillary staff.

I hereby make a further appeal to those researchers at Harvard who are able to make comfortable careers in an area that probably would not exist at all without my efforts, to make a similar contribution, in recognition of the injustice which keeps me in a position of constriction and inability to develop the area which I pioneered.

I also appeal to anyone interested in the advancement of scientific knowledge to contribute as substantially as possible to the costs of setting up a research department within my organisation.

06 October 2010

A cottage with a view

copy of a letter to a salaried academic

Things go on here without getting any better, and without anyone ever responding to our appeals for help of all kinds.

At the moment, for example, there is a way in which someone could give us some help, although we know that in general people do not want to give us any help, and want us not to get any.

A cottage very near to us is up for rent. We are very constricted for space and if someone were to rent this cottage and let us have the use of the whole of it, or some rooms, it would be a great help and a great relief. This is a pleasant village with good views and near to Oxford, so someone could use it as a second home for holidays, or come to live in it sometimes when they were visiting us, say as a senior supporter or a voluntary worker.

We might have a bit more success in getting temporary workers if we were able to offer them free accommodation in a nearby house.

Anyway, it would be a great help. We are too short-staffed at present to consider renting it ourselves; also, the rooms are a bit too small for one of us to want to live there on a permanent basis. It has no garden to speak of, but a patio-style area where one can have pot plants, with views over a valley. The village pub is a few minutes away and its food is not too unhealthy.

I know it is probably hopeless to tell people about this. However, I may be able to put this letter on my blog, although so far that has always been fruitless too.

30 September 2010

A strange remedy

In a recent Daily Mail editorial, under the title ‘The cheats who give welfare a bad name’, there is a reference to the case of an elderly couple, married for almost 50 years, who were found dead in their unheated home during the winter. Their death is ascribed to their having been ‘too proud and independent to accept offers of help from the social services.’

A fictitious pride and independence seems to be the only motivation that subscribers to the modern ideology can consider. It is at least as plausible to suppose that it was a thoroughly sensible sense of self-preservation. The couple could not accept offers of help without exposing themselves to the scrutiny of social workers, and at the age which they had reached they must have been aware of the possibility that they might be considered no longer fit to retain their independence, and might be incarcerated in ‘care’ homes. Very likely, if this had happened, they would have been separated. They may have quite deliberately decided that they would prefer to die together, and at liberty.

I do not mean to suggest that it is only the possibility of separation for married couples which makes the final loss of independence appear to some people as a fate worse than death.

The only realistic way to make situations of this kind significantly less likely is to return to an un-means-tested State pension, at a level that is likely to be adequate both for heating and for domestic help of a non-interfering kind. The cost of adequate pensions could surely be easily met by significantly reducing the army of social workers who now poke and pry into people’s lives, or even eliminating this army altogether.

The Daily Mail would like us to believe that the reluctance of old people to apply for help from the social services has been increased by the ‘rapidly growing army of benefit cheats’. So, the Daily Mail suggests, we must have ‘much tougher and more rigorous assessment of those who seek benefits’.

This will mean insisting on the same standards of efficiency from civil servants as those expected of employees in every well run private company.

It will mean far more rigorous checks on claims – handled with sensitivity so as not to deter those in genuine need.

The only real solution is to abolish the system of benefits completely. Such a system is sure to lead (as it has done) to an ever increasing population of dependents, and an increasing prevalence of dishonesty. (The dishonesty is inevitable, and not necessarily conscious.) Tougher rules are more likely to increase the level of dishonesty than to decrease the number of applicants. As it is, for example, many must apply for unemployment benefit who realise, at least subconsciously, that they have no intention of remaining in a job for more than a few days.

20 September 2010

Treacherous parents and a treacherous fund-raiser

Further to this, here is another piece of history which my colleague Dr Charles McCreery has sent to the person who is planning to write a book about his father, the late General Sir Richard McCreery.

Herewith an account of a meeting in 1965 between myself, my mother and our then fund-raiser, Charles Scott-Paton, together with some of its sequelae. In writing this account I have referred to copies of letters, contemporary with the events described, from Scott-Paton to Sir George Joy (our chief Trustee at the time), from my colleague Dr Celia Green to Scott-Paton, and from Scott-Paton to Celia Green.

* * *

In the following account I describe some of the damage which my parents did to our fund-raising campaign in 1965, the effects of which are felt to the present day.

Far from ‘cutting myself off’ from my family, as they liked to make out, I made great efforts to keep in touch with them, and indeed rope them in to our war effort, in the first year after finishing my degree.

At that time we were employing a professional fund-raiser, Charles Scott-Paton, in an attempt to build up the charity’s financial position. Since 1963 the charity had been in receipt of a seven-year covenant from the publishers of the Daily Mirror, IPC, arranged by its then Chairman, Cecil Harmsworth King. At the outset Cecil King had said that his covenant was intended merely as a ‘pump-priming’ operation, and we were therefore attempting to get the charity set up on a more adequate scale. Cecil King himself had referred to various organizations, including the Gulbenkian Foundation, from which he might be able to get us more substantial funding in the future, if we could demonstrate productivity on a small scale.

I conceived the idea of taking my mother to meet our fund-raiser, Scott-Paton, thinking that he would be impressed by her social status, and she in turn would be impressed by his professionalism.

Scott-Paton worked from home, in a house in Hampstead. To my astonishment, my mother and I had scarcely sat down in his presence before he immediately launched into a disavowal of any identification with our project, and stated that he had only taken us on as clients as a favour to his friend, Charles Gibbs-Smith (Keeper of the Department of Public Relations at the Victoria and Albert Museum, and a friend of one of our Patrons, Mrs Mary Adams, a former Head of Television Talks at the BBC).

I had been making regular visits to Scott-Paton from Oxford, as part of the planning for the launch of our fund-raising campaign with a function at the English Speaking Union, and I had never heard him speak in this way to myself. In the circumstances (we were paying him to promote our charity, so one might have thought he was answerable to me and my colleagues, not to Gibbs-Smith or my mother) this struck me as a betrayal.

Meanwhile, my mother sat listening attentively and with evident approval, not intervening at all with any remarks that might have counteracted his treachery and given him pause as to whether he was adopting the right line to her.

It should be borne in mind that I had invited both my parents to be Patrons of our charity, and they had accepted these positions, so one might have thought that my mother had a moral obligation to keep our end up when in public relations situations such as this.

This meeting continued as it had begun, with Scott-Paton and my mother reinforcing each other’s negative attitudes, and myself a mortified onlooker, largely silent while they talked across me to each other. I found it impossible to intervene to retrieve the situation, because to attempt to do so would have involved explicitly disagreeing with one or both of them as they expressed their ‘reservations’ and negativities to one another. Instead I was forced to watch as they carved me up in front of my eyes.

A sequel to this meeting with Scott-Paton was that my mother either initiated or propagated a slander to the effect that our charity was ‘in financial difficulties’. As with the drug-taking slander that my parents were later responsible for triggering, it is not clear who first thought up this slander. My mother tried to make Scott-Paton sound responsible by claiming she had got the idea from ‘reading between the lines’ of a letter Scott-Paton had written to her; while Scott-Paton, when taxed with this, claimed that it was my mother who had introduced the idea to him.

Needless to say, to imply that we were on the verge of financial collapse as an organization was likely to be a strong deterrent to anyone considering supporting us financially.

Soon after this episode our relations with Scott-Paton broke down completely, and the function at the English Speaking Union, for which invitations had already been sent out to the Press and potential donors, had to be cancelled. Scott-Paton sent in his final bill with notable alacrity, as if fearful that he might not be paid.

Up to this point Scott-Paton had held out the prospect of being able to arrange a charity premiere for our benefit at the Mermaid Theatre, then run by Sir Bernard Miles. Nothing more was heard of this thereafter.

I should make it clear that although in the preceding account I refer primarily to my mother, my father would have been fully complicit in the damage that was done to our fund-raising efforts. In matters such as this my mother never acted without my father’s approval. Indeed she was often at pains to emphasize the identity between her views and my father’s, both in family matters and about life in general.

I should also like to make it clear that I consider that my siblings owe me immediate reparation for the slanders and disinheritings, as follows:

Each of my siblings to make over to me a fourth part of any inheritance they received from my parents or any other member of my family and from which I was excluded. The sum to be calculated as follows: the size of the initial legacy to be compounded at the rate of 10% per annum from the date of receiving the inheritance up to the present day, to allow for inflation and the accrual of interest on the capital over that period.

Similar considerations apply to any lifetime payments or gifts any of them have received from my parents or other relatives, such as help with school fees, the gift of farms, London flats, etc. For me to consider restoring normal relations I require that a fourth part of the value of any such fees, property, etc., be paid to myself, with accrued interest and adjustment for inflation as described above.

11 September 2010

The retrospective pensions swindle

I have a book entitled The Great Pensions Swindle* which, 40 years ago, made some useful points about the likely unreliability of state pensions. The following, however, is unrealistic:

The breaking point is not postponable indefinitely. The resistance to periodic increases in ‘social insurance’ contributions will begin all the sooner when the ‘contributors’ realise they are paying not insurance contributions but an income tax. (p.128)

In fact, no significant realisation arose that “National Insurance” contributions were just a form of income tax, which increased the Government’s current spending money. Otherwise the book anticipates very much what has happened. What happens when a future generation decides it prefers to spend its money on what is fashionable at the time (overseas ‘aid’, social workers, ‘universities’, etc.) rather than providing a former generation with the pension it thought it was paying for? The pensions are 'too expensive'; they are suddenly means-tested, and paid at ever later ages.

Not least, let it be clearly understood that ‘right’ (to the pension) and ‘contract’ are two more good words that have been made misnomers. A ‘right’ to a pension that a man acquires by saving for it is unambiguous. The ‘right’ a man has to an income when he can no longer work is of a different kind. The word has been re-defined to mean a moral right or claim on society. But transfers of income from one age-group, or class, or generation, to another represent decisions by one group, or class, or generation, to help another in time of need. No group, or class, or generation has a ‘right’ in any absolute sense. ...

In civilised parlance ‘contract’ means a voluntary agreement between two parties each of whom thinks it will gain. There is no such voluntary agreement between the generations on pensions. Indeed, there can hardly be one since future generations cannot be consulted; and if they could they would hardly agree since the terms are loaded against them. (pp.129-130)

* * *

Retrospective legislation has become increasingly frequent, and by now no one seems to remember that there was ever anything against it. It used to be said that the individual had a right to know what was legally open to him (in taxation, etc.) so that he could plan his affairs to secure the best outcome in view of his own interests and priorities, as he conceived them to be.

The recent changes in the ages at which state pensions become payable is really an egregious example of retrospective legislation, and directly affects people in as bad a position as we are. If a company which offered pension schemes were suddenly to announce that all its pensions were to be paid two years later, those who had been paying into the schemes might well wish to sue it for breach of contract. When the government does the same thing, no legal redress is available. This has happened recently and seems likely to happen more, so that my junior colleagues’ pensions recede as one approaches them. The age at which one of them will start receiving her pension was first shifted from 60 to 62, and then again to 64. Another’s pension was shifted from 65 to 67, and seems likely to be further delayed to the age of 68.

Thus the state has already deprived us, who are trying to build up towards an adequate academic institutional environment, of seven years’ pension money, i.e. £35K at today’s pension rate.

I have previously pointed out how means-testing of pensions retrospectively reduces the benefit received in return for contributions paid. This means nearly two thousand pounds per person per year. The proposed tax of £20K towards the cost of state ‘nursing care’, whether such care is received or not, was first proposed as a tax on estates on death, but is now suggested as a capital levy to be paid by every pensioner on reaching retirement age. If that were made retrospective, so that it applied to myself as well as to my colleagues, that would represent an additional confiscation of £80K.

There are several other examples of abandonment of principles, and I should be able to write about them at length, because they are actually very serious, although no one else appears to recognise this. If Oxford Forum were provided with adequate funding, we could be writing and publishing analyses on this issue which are currently being ignored in favour of the usual pro-collectivist arguments.

‘We hereby apply for financial support on a scale at least adequate for one active and fully financed research department. We make this appeal to all universities, corporations and individuals who consider themselves to be in a position to give support to socially recognised academic establishments.’ Charles McCreery, DPhil

* Arthur Seldon, The Great Pensions Swindle, Tom Stacey Books, London, 1970.

28 August 2010

A Registrar of Oxford and other deflating gas-bags

This is an account of past events which my colleague Charles McCreery has written, and sent to someone who is planning to write a book about his father (the late General Sir Richard McCreery). My account of the same events has already been blogged.

At some later date I may give an account of how relations with my parents came to break down in 1965, about a year after I took my first degree, and how in my opinion this rupture was deliberately brought about by my mother, by her behaviour over a period of about a year, in order to justify the subsequent disinheriting that was carried out by various members of my family.

Meanwhile I wish to give an account of how my parents were responsible for triggering a slander that I was taking drugs.

Some time between the breakdown in relations between us in 1965, and my father’s death in 1967, they went to visit Oliver Van Oss, then headmaster of Charterhouse school, ostensibly to discuss the breakdown in relations, but in my opinion more likely in the hope that he could put pressure on me to resume relations on their terms. He had been my tutor for modern languages at Eton, but I had only seen him once, briefly, in the five years since I had left Eton. He was therefore not in a position to shed any further light to my parents on why I was currently not willing to see them than I had already done in writing myself.

As a result of the natural evasiveness of people caught propagating criminal slander, it was never definitely established who initially invented the slander that I ‘must be taking drugs’, i.e. whether it was my parents themselves, Van Oss, or one of the academics who passed it on, as described below. My own surmise is that it was most likely Van Oss who thought it up during, or prior to, the interview with my parents. Knowing him as I did I could imagine him producing the hypothesis to make up for his lack of insight into the situation, and, by making me responsible for the breakdown in communication, to let them off the hook. (Clearly no one as statusful as my parents could have been responsible for the breach by virtue of reprehensible behavior on their part, so it must have been me.)

However, even if it was Van Oss or one of the other academics who invented the slander, that does not exonerate my parents as they clearly were quite willing to accept the ‘explanation’ and certainly did nothing to prevent it circulating, as it proceeded to do.

The reason for the slander beginning to circulate round Oxford and elsewhere was that Van Oss was too cowardly to approach me directly. Instead, he approached a friend of his, John Butterworth (later made Lord Butterworth of Warwick), the Vice-Chancellor of Warwick University. The ostensible reason for this choice was that Butterworth had been Bursar at New College during my time there as an undergraduate. However, although I had known him by sight through seeing him around the college, to the best of my recollection I had never exchanged two words with him.

Butterworth evidently felt even more lacking in social leverage than Van Oss where I was concerned, and he passed the buck to a friend of his, namely Sir Folliott Sandford, then Registrar of Oxford University, whom I did not know at all and would not even have recognized if I had passed him in the street. Sandford, like his two predecessors, also lacked the moral courage to approach me directly, and instead approached one of our academic Consultants, Dr Graham Weddell, a physiologist at Oxford (later Professor of Anatomy). Even Weddell, whom I had also never met, failed to approach me directly but instead rang up my colleague Celia Green to describe what had been going on.

Following this telephone conversation between Celia Green and Dr Weddell I myself spoke to each of the participants, including Dr Weddell, on the telephone. Their reactions were instructive. I would say that each of them in their various ways sounded ‘caught out’, as if they had not reckoned with being called to account by the object of the slander himself.

None of them attempted to deny their involvement in circulating the slander. Oliver Van Oss’s manner I would describe as sheepish. I had previously, i.e. during my time at Eton, known him as an authority figure, and had never before experienced him in such a subdued and defensive mode in relation to myself. I remember having an image of him, either during the conversation or subsequently and as a result of it, as a sort of deflating gas-bag or balloon.

Sir Folliott Sandford admitted quite abjectly that there was not a shred of evidence for the slander, that it was pure speculation, and that it had been started in order to explain the rift between me and my parents.

The person who came nearest to adopting an aggressive attitude was John Butterworth. After I had repeated my expressions of disgust at the irresponsible way he and the various other academics had propagated this slander, he started to complain that I was disrupting his social arrangements – he was either preparing or conducting a dinner party of his own or due at someone else’s. I pointed out to him that the likelihood of permanent damage to my career and reputation as a result of his and others’ slanderous activities might be accounted of more importance than any temporary inconvenience to his social life.

22 August 2010

Snatching winter fu-el

The age at which the elderly can claim winter fuel payments, worth £250 last year for the over-60s and an extra £150 for those over 80, is all but certain to be raised to cut some of the £2.7 billion annual costs. ... The handouts could also be restricted to less well-off pensioners who claim other benefits. (Daily Mail, 18 Aug 2010, from article ‘Bonfire of the middle class benefits’.)

After the state pension had ceased being independent of means-testing, additional payments for specific purposes were introduced from time to time, supposedly to reduce the hardship of those who now received significantly less than those with fewer savings.

But such specific items are vulnerable, and it is now proposed that the winter fuel allowance should be received at a later age than before, and also possibly be paid only to those in receipt of other benefits (i.e. with sufficiently small savings, and receipt of some other benefit to prove it).

Thus the proportion of the pension that is free from means-testing is to be decreased, and the extra percentage which I would receive if my savings were small enough will be increased. At present I would receive 36% more per annum if I were poor enough; if the fuel allowance were made dependent on means-testing, that would increase to about 40%.

As a matter of fact, even if I were eligible for the income supplement I would probably forgo it, and I think that pensioners as a whole should think very seriously before applying for it, since it can only be got by exposing yourself to scrutiny by those who may decide that you are no longer fit to live in independence, but should be incarcerated in a care home for your own good.

Since writing the above

Today, 19 August, I read that it is proposed that winter fuel payments to pensioners should be delayed to the age of 75, which means that those on reduced (means-tested) pensions will have their annual payment cut by about 5%.

There are criticisms that this will cost lives. For those of us who are still trying to get started on our adult careers by building up the capital necessary for an academic institution, it is simply an extra handicap, making an already grim situation just a bit worse.

21 August 2010

The sacrifices of sadism are the greater

It may be observed that General McCreery was prepared to spend a good deal of money (Eton fees for five years) to prevent Charles from being at Eton as a scholar, which severely damaged his prospects in life, as well as his well-being throughout those years. If Charles had got a scholarship the fees could have been saved, which was not a negligible consideration even for the McCreerys, to judge from his father’s complaints about the costs of servants, central heating, etc. (*)

In fact, it appears that his parents wished to spend that much money to prevent Charles from getting the advantages out of his ability which he could have done. Cf. my aphorism:

It is supposed that self-sacrifice is the prerogative of altruism. On the contrary; the sacrifices of sadism are the greater.

* It was not a foregone conclusion that scholars did not have to pay fees, and the McCreerys might have wished to pay the fees for the social prestige of being able to pay even if Charles had got a scholarship.

17 August 2010

My ineligibility for social security

It is important to emphasise that it was my ineligibility for so-called social security that placed me so much at the mercy of everyone’s hostility. I couldn’t pretend I was seeking a job because I wasn’t regarded as qualified for any of the many academic careers the requirements of which in reality I could have fulfilled. This certainly seemed to me very terrible. Going to the Society for Psychical Research made me aware that there were neglected areas of potential research, and I hoped to make use of them to work my way back into a university career. As a first step, I would set up a research institute to provide myself with the necessary conditions of a tolerable academic life.

The fact that I could never draw ‘social security’ (although it would have been pretty horrible to do so, even if I could have done) always made me vulnerable to the worst social pressure.

When I had resigned from the SPR, I did not have even a minimum of income to provide the barest physical survival, so I was forced to seek funding from the research committee of the SPR, and Rosalind Heywood used this situation to make me do the most pointless and tedious sort of ‘research’. If I had been able to draw ‘social security’ as an unemployed person, it is easy to imagine I might have preferred even going along to sign on once a week to undertaking the sort of ‘research’ that the SPR was prepared to pay me a pittance for doing.

The story that I had deliberately turned my back on a university career in order to do research which I found ‘interesting’ in poverty and social degradation became dominant and persists to the present day. I suppose that it was initiated by Rosalind and/or Somerville. It has a woman’s touch about it.

I remember a conversation I had with Salter before the plan for the research institute in a house provided by the Coombe-Tennants began to break down.

‘Would you have really wanted to have an academic career?’ he said.

‘Well, of course!’, I thought, but I said, ‘It was the research I really wanted to do anyway, so if this place gets set up it will be as good as I could have got out of a university career.’

‘But you wouldn’t really have wanted to teach, would you? A university career would mean you had to do teaching.’

‘I don’t mind about teaching, actually,’ I said, ‘although I would want to be doing research as predominantly as possible as soon as possible. But I have taught various people in Somerville unofficially in various subjects, and if that is what you have to do to get the academic lifestyle, its OK.’

‘But you were teaching people you chose to teach yourself, and if you had an appointment you would have to teach everybody,’ Salter insisted, as if he was proving that I really could not have wanted a normal academic career.

I wondered why he was making so analytical a distinction, which did not seem characteristic of the way his mind usually worked.

Of course, I had hoped to be able to start higher up the career ladder, and I should have been able to do so.

In retrospect, I could see that Salter, probably already under Rosalind’s influence, was working towards the idea that, since some of the things in an academic career did not appeal to me, I deliberately preferred ‘doing research’ in poverty and social degradation, which I suppose is the standard ‘drop-out’ position. And, of course, if I was doing exactly what I had freely chosen to do, everyone was let off the hook about thinking that I might need any help or support of any kind.

14 August 2010

Slandered by academics (part 1)

It is probable that widespread slanders had been spread about me and my incipient research institute from the time I was thrown out in 1957, but one seldom had direct evidence.

However, it happened that one of our Consultants, Graham Weddell, a physiology lecturer at Oxford, rang me a year or more after Charles McCreery had graduated in 1964, at which time he (Charles) had called a halt to communication with his family so as to recover from the run-down state he had got into as a result of his mother’s constant pestering.

Dr Weddell sometimes seemed a somewhat tactless person, who revealed inside information, perhaps to gain the confidence of the person to whom he was talking. On this occasion, he said, ‘They are making an awful lot of fuss about your research assistant.’

I was nonplussed and thought of various part-time workers we had employed whom I had not known very well, and wondered what any of them might have done.

‘Can’t I at least know who it is you are talking about?’

Weddell seemed to hesitate. ‘Well, he has a very important father and his father is beside himself about his drug-taking.’

‘You mean Charles McCreery, son of General McCreery?’ I said, surprised. ‘There is no question of his having ever taken drugs.’

After a bit more reiteration of this, Weddell seemed to accept it and said that it must have arisen from the association of ideas between parapsychology and drug-taking.

I had reservations about this, because when some really damaging slander or piece of hostility against us was revealed, and we gave our side of it, people always found it easy to brush it aside with, ‘Oh, it’s just the subject’ (‘the subject’ being parapsychology). Actually I thought that was a rationalisation, and the reasons for the hostility were more profound. But I went along with the idea on this occasion, partly to show that we did not regard ourselves as part of some ‘parapsychological’ population.

‘I suppose it has not helped that Steve Abrams* has been in the papers recently,’ I said. ‘He has been going to the Home Office to tell them that marijuana ought to be legalised since he claims it is an aid to creativity for writers.’

I asked who had been saying these things about Charles, and Weddell gave me the names of three people whom Charles subsequently proceeded to tax with it by phone: Oliver Van Oss (headmaster of Charterhouse), John Butterworth (Vice-Chancellor of Warwick University) and Sir Folliott Sandford (Registrar of Oxford University).

* an American parapsychologist with a research organisation in Oxford

More about this episode can be read here.

10 August 2010

Slandered by aristocrats (part 2)

The situation has always been that I had to reject so many false assumptions, before getting to anything that was really the case, that it has been very hard work to get anywhere near the point, and people have been extremely reluctant to listen to anything that did not reinforce their preconceptions.

My colleague Charles McCreery always had the same problem. The storms which his parents provoked really had the effect of preventing him from getting started on a ‘normal’ career, either in the university or at the Tavistock Clinic in London.

We knew Charles as an undergraduate, and on graduating he started to help us set up an effective fundraising campaign, which we needed to get going.

If this campaign had not been aborted by the terrible storms of hostility, it would have been possible for Charles to combine a normal salaried career with continuing his association with us. It was never my idea that I or any associate should spend their time acting as their own research assistants and secretaries. A primary object of the institute was to get me back into a suitable university career, and the only reason I was not in one myself was that my attempts to return to one had been blocked.

If we had ever managed to get set up, it would have been possible to consider whether it would be better for Charles to work at the Tavistock in London and come to Oxford at weekends, or do a D.Phil. at the Department of Experimental Psychology and make a career as a psychologist in Oxford. As it was, we were forced into so constricted a position that we had to give up on these ideas, as we could only survive at all (even physically) by huddling together as closely as possible. (This made it possible for people to refer to us as a ‘commune’, as if this also was a deliberately chosen way of life.)

So really Charles's parents prevented his career, whatever it might have been, forced him into a breach with them, and forced him to appear as if he had chosen to be an impoverished dropout, out of ‘interest’ in something unusual. (As, in fact, I too had been forced into doing something I could never have wished to do, as if I had deliberately preferred poverty and social degradation on account of ‘interest’.)

Actually Charles had absolutely no previous knowledge of, or interest in, anything that might be regarded as associated with ‘parapsychology’, but only in psychology and psychiatry.

Of course, as soon as his parents made any contact with anyone connected with us, they came under the influence of the tremendous forces of hostility against me, and proceeded to act as the forces would wish: placing Charles under pressure by covert hostility combined with excessive social demands, which could only lead to a breakdown in their relationship with him, as was no doubt (at least subconsciously) intended, although Charles struggled for a long time against this outcome.

08 August 2010

Slandered by aristocrats (part 1)

The hostility which I have encountered has always been extraordinary, and I think that it is expressed in a more extreme form in situations where I am involved than is usual. Rosalind Heywood, for example, would apparently stop at nothing to make my life a misery.

Having destroyed my original plan for setting up a research institute, and reduced me to surviving in poverty in Oxford, she managed to make herself into the person who was running the affairs of my institute, and negotiating on our behalf with potential sources of funding, which she was only going to let us have on the most penal terms. Suffice it to say that I was reduced to feeling worn out and hopeless before Cecil King and Charles McCreery arrived on the scene, both providing hope of an adequate level of financial support for some meaningful work to commence.

Storms of hostility and slander immediately arose, and Charles was surprised at the overt hostility he encountered on visiting some of my ostensible ‘supporters’, such as Admiral Strutt.

On the face of it, there seemed no reason why a fundraising campaign could not proceed successfully, Charles’s family connections being what they were. Charles’s father and mother became Patrons. However, his mother used the position openly to act as a saboteur.

Looking back, I am not surprised at the complete negativity of the outcome, as the hostility was not inhibited by any principles of decent behaviour, and the intention was simply that of preventing me from doing anything. Influential and determined people do not fail in achieving their objectives.

'I won’t have that Celia getting her hands on any McCreery money,' Lady McCreery said on at least one occasion. (Like Professor and Lady Hardy, she usually referred to me as 'that Celia'.) If this could only be achieved by slandering and disinheriting her son, so be it.

And so accusations against Charles, as well as me, began to arise. These were wildly implausible to anyone who knew Charles. He was just about the last person to start taking drugs or to become a hippy, and reject the values of aristocratic respectability. Nevertheless, such allegations were made. Decades later, at an upper-class party, another Old Etonian, who knew Charles’s family, sneered at him, 'I am surprised to see you dressing smartly and not having a ring in your nose.'

The result of all this was no doubt as intended. Not only did our fundraising attempts with a professional fundraiser break down, but Charles was cut out of several inheritances which would otherwise have come to him if he had continued to be regarded as an acceptable member of his family.

04 August 2010

More about means-testing of pensions

As I was deprived of a means of earning a living, I could not apply for income support (or 'social security'). So I was entirely dependent on building up capital and making gains on it (very hard work) to support myself, and work towards setting up an institutional environment for myself. So on reaching what they like to regard as retirement age, without having been able to start on my real adult career, I have savings built up which reduce my state pension to less than 75% of what it would be if I had sufficiently small savings outside of house ownership.

How could a person who had been deprived of an academic career have avoided this? Well, by accepting the social interpretation of one’s position and allowing them to medicate one into a zombie-like state, as did a certain Somerville graduate, by no means as exceptional as I was, but set on an academic career. (She was certainly no stupider than the average Oxford professor, and was clever enough to have learnt Polish on her own to a useful level.)

When thrown out of Somerville without a research scholarship (in history) she had about twenty jobs, each lasting no more than a fortnight (if I remember rightly). She then invoked the 'aid' of the social services, who diagnosed her, gave her a year’s resident psychiatric treatment, and released her to spend the rest of her life on the streets of Oxford, free from any need to support herself by 'earning a living', but also having surrendered the use of her own mind to the anaesthetising drugs provided by the NHS.

Her pension contributions were automatically paid for her. So she has presumably qualified for the full state pension, and it is unlikely that she had built up any capital, so she would not have lost over a quarter of it as I have done.

So you see one pays for one’s independence, and for even trying to increase it.

22 July 2010

Letter to a potential supporter

extract from a letter I sent some time ago

When you were considering the possibility of supporting our work some years ago, and your representative Lord X met our trustee the Hon. Charles Strutt, I was told by Charles Strutt that he was talking a bit about his family's involvement in psychical research and was asked by Lord X whether all academics without exception were in favour of research in this field. I suppose Charles Strutt replied, 'No, not all. But there were some who were.'

In an area so emotionally loaded as this, I am afraid that the exchange of socially acceptable rationalisations is not a way to arrive at what is really the case. All academics without exception, and the psychological forces of modern society as a whole, are against us. The psychological forces against us are those that are destroying Western civilisation, and it is difficult to talk about this because a highly fictitious view of what is going on is universally accepted.The Strutts were among the aristocratic families which, since the foundation of the Society for Psychical Research in 1882, had devoted considerable time and analytical effort, not to mention the expense of employing mediums and private detectives, to what was ostensibly research aimed at proving survival.

This was, and remains, something of a red herring. Because my colleagues and I are prepared to work on, for example, out-of-the-body experiences, we are widely supposed to have spiritualistic beliefs.

In reality, however, tribal/communistic psychology has little against people communing with their deceased ancestors. The work of the SPR was getting close to far more dangerous issues which opened up (or might open up) possibilities for the extension of individual control over the environment. The work of the SPR on Cross-Correspondences from 1900 to 1930 provided persuasive evidence for extra-sensory perception, or the acquisition of information by means independent of sensory channels.

Even more dangerously, two Lords Rayleigh (family name Strutt, as I expect you know), also physicists at Cambridge, were interested in psychokinesis (movement of physical objects at variance with the known laws of physics) and the case for continuing research on this phenomenon would, in normal circumstances, be regarded as more than adequate.

However, anything that increases individual independence is seen as dangerous, and there therefore set in the tremendous communistic/materialistic social and cultural revolution, replacing the aristocracy and middle-class intellectuals, who had enough freedom to work on such things, with ersatz universities within which no research which presents any threat to the ideology can be done.

The leading academics involved in the field of ‘psychical research’ before 1945 (mostly at Cambridge) had been working to establish its acceptance. The tide turned against them, but one or two loopholes remained. That is why I was able to do a B.Litt on a somewhat risky area (nothing to do with mediumship or spiritualism) at Oxford financed by a Research Studentship from Trinity College, Cambridge. But after that my way was blocked.

There is much more which could be said, but I will leave it at this for the time being, if I may.

17 July 2010

The human psychosis

Extract from Advice to Clever Children

The human psychosis is extremely simple. Hatred of reality (originally caused, it is to be supposed, by a traumatic experience or experiences of objective impotence) has become displaced onto other human beings. This state of affairs is expressed by attitudes of indifference to reality and of interest in human society. The latter interest is usually rationalised as altruism.

The other day I was talking to a human being. I said: 'No one is interested in reality.' He said, 'Well, reality, what's that? Nothing exciting. That chair, this carpet.' 'There is the uni­verse out there,' I said. 'Well, what's the universe?' he said. 'Some stars. Some of them we know about, some of them we don't. Well, what about it?'

It is instructive to observe that this particularly overt case of the human psychosis was in full agreement with John Robinson* that God was something you found deep down in human relationships.

He (the human being) could also be made to assert that any reality human beings did not know about was unimportant, in fact unreal, because human beings did not know about it.

To complete this cameo of the human psychosis it is only necessary to observe that a study of this person's human relationships would undoubtedly have revealed a continuous indulgence in concealed sadism.

(I use the word 'sadism' for convenience, because there is no other – unless perhaps Schadenfreude – to express a psychological tendency to derive pleasure or gratification from damage done to other people, or suffering experienced by them. I do not, however, mean to imply that I suppose the pleasure or gratification involved to be sexual in origin.)

* author of Honest to God

06 July 2010

My aphorisms and the semi-permeable membrane

The following is part of a recent email sent by my colleague Dr Charles McCreery to Nigel Rees, presenter of the Radio 4 programme Quote ... Unquote.

Dear Nigel Rees,

I heard your appeal for listeners to write in with suggestions at the end of yesterday evening's Quote ... Unquote, and would like to suggest some of the aphorisms of the contemporary British philosopher and scientist Celia Green.

Ten of these are included in the Penguin Dictionary of Epigrams (ed. M.J. Cohen). The subject headings below are those under which Cohen lists them.

Boredom: There are two ways of living, one of which leads to astonishment and the other to boredom.

Differences: In the country of the blind the one-eyed man is lucky to escape with his life.

Governments: In an autocracy, one person has his way; in an aristocracy, a few people have their way; in a democracy, no one has his way

Marriage: People have been marrying and bringing up children for centuries now. Nothing has ever come of it.

Mind: The remarkable thing about the human mind is its range of limitations.

Morals: The human race has always been unable to distinguish clearly between metaphysics and morality.

Prejudice: When someone says his conclusions are objective, he means that that they are based on prejudices which many other people share.

Right: There are some things that are sure to go wrong as soon as they stop going right.

Science: The way to do research is to attack the facts at the point of greatest astonishment.

Superstition: One of the greatest superstitions of our time is the belief that it has none.

Some others I particularly like myself are:
The psychology of committees is a special case of the psychology of mobs.
Only the impossible is worth attempting. In everything else one is sure to fail.
There is nothing so relaxing as responsibility; nor any relief from strain so great as that of recognising one's own importance.
What everyone has against Ludwig of Bavaria is not that he ruined Bavaria but that he supported a genius in the process.
It is superfluous to be humble on one's own behalf; so many people are willing to do it for one.

If you are interested I could suggest more.

The situation about my epigrams (or aphorisms) illustrates the consistency of the semi-permeable membrane, which does not permit me to derive any positive feedback in society from any effort I am able to make.

Ten of the aphorisms are in the Penguin Dictionary of Epigrams, so one might imagine that I was a well-established author. But in fact I am still as unable as ever to publish anything except at my own expense and with great effort – i.e. no publisher would actually accept a book of mine for publication. And even if published, my books are not allowed to be known about in any way that would make them saleable.

All the more ironic when one considers that I started to write books in the hope of generating an income which would at least partially compensate me for not having the income normally derived from the salary of a high-flying academic career.

If I had been having such a career, I had thought I would be able to make a supplementary income by publishing my views as, say, Richard Dawkins does. Why can’t I do that just as well as if I were having the academic career which I should be having? But no, as it turns out, that is not at all the way it is and if I want to publish at all, to draw attention to my presence and need for support, it can only be as an extra drain on my own resources of money and energy.

28 June 2010

Child abuse: the alternatives

Another child abuse case, more wringing of hands. The Daily Mail (17 June) headline reads:

Neglectful. Filthy. And living with a paedophile. So why did social workers decide that little Shannon Matthews’s mother was ... Not such a bad parent!

Although this case, involving a fake kidnapping, seems a relatively mild one compared with the horrors of some of the other recent ones, it has nevertheless resulted in the composition, no doubt at great expense, of a 100-page report about whether or not the various trained ‘experts’ involved should have been able to prevent what happened.

Comment on the bigger picture

I do not see you can expect to be able to run a country with the features that this one has acquired. A large number of people who are not supporting themselves by earning money, and never likely to do so. This population of non-earners having children at a high rate, which they seem not even to look after properly, despite being financed to do so. A large population of social workers coming and going, intimately involved in these people’s lives, though this is still not sufficient to prevent the children being badly treated or killed. Other families being broken up, and children’s lives being permanently blighted, because of interference in situations where there is no actual abuse at all. Free education and health care for all involved.

It may be complained that the other alternative, not to have a welfare state, would lead to the suffering and death of many children. What we have at present, however, will inexorably lead to the massive expansion of a class that is highly prone to irresponsible behaviour, including neglect and abuse of children, and to their unsuccessful pursuit by an ever-growing class of state agents with ever greater powers to snoop and interfere; as well as increasing misery for families that are falsely accused. In other words, the suffering and death of even more children. Furthermore, the country is likely to be bankrupted.

23 June 2010

Invitation to parents to come and work for us

There are plans to enable groups of parents to set up schools, as mentioned in the Daily Mail of Saturday 19 June.


Schools Secretary Michael Gove is set to unveil the government's 'free schools' policy today. Disused shops, vacant office blocks, old hospitals and even homes could be used as classrooms under ambitious plans to set up a wave of 'free schools'.

Planning laws will be relaxed in England to make it easier for parents, teachers, charities and other groups to open taxpayer-funded independent schools, the Education Secretary vowed yesterday. ...

Ministers in the Coalition are determined to smash the state monopoly on education by allowing communities to set up schools outside the control of local authorities. ...

A threshold of just 40 or 50 parents-would be needed for a primary-school bid. Groups applying to open a free school fill out a ten-page form setting out their aims and vision, possible sites for classrooms, teaching methods, a curriculum and proof of demand from families.

The first wave of schools are expected to open in September next year.

Invitation to parents

Anyone who has school-age children and is worried about what is wrong with most schools, as they may well be, should think of moving to Cuddesdon. If they were to do some voluntary work (or possibly paid self-employed work) for Oxford Forum, we could give them advice and suggestions based on our extensive experience of what can go wrong in schools and universities.

The ideology which has undermined state education to the point of making it worse than useless is highly pervasive. It is difficult to create an establishment which does not suffer from it, even if in a milder form, without thinking through the underlying issues more analytically than is done by newspapers or in educational 'research'.

17 June 2010

Tale told by an idiot (Pt. 3)

It should go without saying, but perhaps it is as well to repeat, that there had been no sign of any intention to set up a research project in Oxford or elsewhere, in the area which I was proposing, until it became necessary to block mine. None of the retired professors nominated by Rosalind Heywood had shown any inclination to exert themselves in such a way, and if it had been necessary to go ahead with Rosalind’s plan (i.e. if I had not withdrawn from it), I think she might have found some or all of those named very reluctant to play any part in it. When, later, she wanted to find rivals to lay claim to Cecil King’s money, so that I would not get any more of it, she found this very difficult and it took her some time to persuade John Beloff to do a small piece of research on a hypnotic subject, to support her contention that Cecil King should not continue to give money to my organisation, but should scatter his money widely among people with academic status, although they were actually well enough set up already to have been doing some research if they had wished to do so.

What she could, and did, easily succeed in doing was to generate indignant opposition to the idea of my being so presumptuous as to do anything at all, so that the population of those who had any association with the SPR became energetic in blocking my applications for funding from any source, both by encouraging Professor Hardy to stand firmly in my light, and by running me down to any potential source of funding.

I was amazed and also, in the circumstances of my life, horrified that motivation to obstruct me could be so easily and universally aroused. Lady Faith Culme-Seymour, for example, came to Oxford to visit Hardy and express enthusiasm for his lethargic intentions, and also to attempt to persuade me to do his work for him, for no money. This showed an energy and willingness to exert herself which was rare among SPR members, except when they were opposing me. I wondered why she should feel so strongly that someone who had once been thrown out by the university should never be allowed to do any work which might establish their claim to re-entry to an academic career. It was easier to understand the antagonism to me which was shown by Professor Hardy himself. He had academic status and I did not and, under the influence of Rosalind Heywood, he seemed to regard it as an insult to academic status in general, and hence to his own, that I should attempt to do anything on my own initiative, without having received instructions to do so from on high.

Lady Faith, on the other hand, was an aristocrat with no academic pretensions. Until recently, people of her class had done whatever they could afford to do in the way of research, whenever they felt like it. She might even have regarded me as one of the disadvantaged poor, whose failure to get a research scholarship and an academic career could be ascribed to my having attended low-grade schools. In fact, however, she and everyone else in a similar position hastened to join Rosalind in her energetic campaign to ensure that it was impossible for me to obtain money from any source.

As has already been mentioned, it was not only the case that I had no salary from an academic career, which was the only sort of career I could have, but also I could not even draw income support as my ruined education had left me without a usable qualification, i.e. one that would be regarded as justifying me in applying for any university appointment that I might be able to accept.

I was, and continue to be, very shocked that people who were well set up in life and had no apparent reason for doing me down should evince such obviously destructive motivation towards someone in as bad a position as I was.

14 June 2010

Tale told by an idiot (Pt. 2)

This is a continuation of an earlier post about my attempts to set up a research organisation in Oxford.

When I withdrew from the plan for a research institute in which I was to be a secretary with no possible motivation for being so (I was to be offered neither a salary out of which I could have saved money towards my institutional environment of the future, nor any suggestion that what I did would in any way enhance my claims to re-enter an academic career in a university) I did not expect this to cause offence. Surely I had every right not to wish to participate in a project so different from that which I had originally proposed and for which Salter and Sir George had been prepared to seek support.

However, it did lead to offence being taken by Rosalind Heywood, which she broadcast in her inimitable fashion. I can only suppose that she managed to make it sound as though I had turned down an absolutely wonderful proposal which was just what a young and statusless person should have wanted.

In fact, she must have made the proposal expressly so that I would turn it down and it could be regarded as a cause of offence. If she had really hoped I might accept it, she would have incorporated something which might attract me, such as a suggestion (however fictional) that one of the retired professors would be likely to support me in getting a Fellowship at his college, but she did not.

It would seem that my initial proposals for a research institute in Oxford were considered too threatening, in that the Oxford location would make it likely to attract some publicity and hence, perhaps, some financial support which would make me able to do something and make my life less intolerable.

Reacting to this risk, Rosalind superimposed her entirely different proposals on my original ones. When I, foreseeably, would have nothing to do with them, the resulting outrage was sufficient to ensure that all previous plans to seek funding for my plan were aborted. Rosalind was a formidable strategist.

So I was left with my original constitution but no money. The next few years were very bad but I had no alternative but to go ahead, although it now appeared that my hopes of financial support or of re-access to a university career had been definitively destroyed. Everyone joined in the plan to drive me out of Oxford by squeezing me to death.

As an unforeseeable but partial and temporary break, Cecil King came out of the blue and provided a modicum of funding. This, I suppose, re-ignited the original fear that an Oxford location might attract support. Cecil King was quickly turned against us, and the plan for Professor Hardy’s research centre came into being – in Oxford, as similar as possible to my organisation, but with a statusful person at its head, so designed to block any possibility of funding that might otherwise have come to me.

11 June 2010


To members of the group 'Celia Green and Oxford Forum' on Facebook:*

As you may know, we are aiming at building up Oxford Forum into an independent university with a number of departments, a residential college, and an associated publishing company.

Please bear in mind that the books we have been able to write and publish, and especially the material we put on our blogs, does not represent what we would be doing if we were able to behave like fully financed academics. Because we have so far always been in the position of an embryonic organisation trying to get properly established, our output has been determined by (a) the limitations imposed on us by the absence of support staff and other aspects of infrastructure, and (b) the fact that the output has had to function as a form of advertising. The phrase I often use is “distress flares”.

It is difficult for someone to understand our position unless they are willing to recognise three features of the modern situation. First, notwithstanding any amount of nonsense talked about “gifted children” and so forth, the modern ethos is hostile to high ability, and in particular to the concept of innate ability. Second, the modern ideology states that everything carried on within accredited institutions is good, and anything done outside that system is to be despised. Social approval is everything. Third, to disagree with this, and to assert one’s claim on the resources being provided for academic research, without having received accreditation from a sufficiently large number of people inside the system, is to break a serious taboo. People who assert a need for the conditions of an academic life are (so the logic goes) moral criminals and deserve to be shunned. And shunned is what, to a large extent, we are.

There are a number of things you could do to help us.

1) Borrow our books from your college or public library. This will encourage them to stock them.

2) Buy our books from bookshops or Amazon. This will encourage bookshops and Amazon to stock them.

3) Encourage your friends to borrow or buy our books.

4) Let us know a postal address so we can send you some complimentary copies of our books.

5) Encourage your friends to visit our website and blogs, so they know about us.

6) Visit us in Cuddesdon, an attractive village near Oxford, so we can tell you about our need for workers of all kinds, and for financial and moral support (or encourage your friends to do so).

7) Spend some or all of your vacations with us doing voluntary work, or encourage others to do so.

With regards,
Celia Green

*This refers to the following page on Facebook:

the above Facebook page has now been superseded by the following group page:
(unfortunately group pages cannot be accessed unless one is logged into Facebook)

03 June 2010

Letter to David Cameron

Dear Mr Cameron,

Congratulations on becoming the first Conservative Prime Minister in what seems like a long time.

The material published in our books and on our websites is broadly sympathetic to conservatism, and certainly far more so than the output of mainstream academia and of other parts of the cultural establishment.

Oxford Forum is a research organisation which was set up to oppose declining standards and increasing ideological bias in mainstream academia. Its aim is to expand into an independent college cum university which would generate and publish research in several areas including philosophy, the psychology and physiology of perception, and theoretical physics. We are actively seeking potential patrons to provide funding for its activities.

While we are not tied to any particular outlook or political organisation, we do think that proponents of conservatism and free market and libertarian principles should want to support us, because we represent an unbiased alternative to a severely politicised higher education sector.

One of the areas of research we could be being productive in, if we were financed, is that of education. As currently carried on in academic departments, this subject is a particularly egregious example of how only certain perspectives are permitted.

As a conservative, I hope you would like to know what we, as dissidents who do not agree with the leftist viewpoint adopted by practically all ‘educational researchers’, think about various topics in education.

One key issue concerns discrimination practised in schools, and universities, against those with high IQs, disguised in terms of supposed concern for discrimination against those from ‘disadvantaged backgrounds’. This is an issue with which we have considerable personal experience, as well as a theoretical framework capable of making sense of the phenomena observed.

There is now a serious ideological bias at work in academic institutions in this country (and elsewhere) which effectively invalidates more or less all the research being carried out in the social sciences. We call on the Conservative Party to oppose this bias, by supporting our dissident organisation.

Yours sincerely, etc.

27 May 2010

An invitation to give a lecture

Copy of a reply to an academic who invited me to give a philosophy lecture

Dear Dr ...

Thank you for your invitation to give a lecture for the cultural season at the ... academy.

However, I am afraid I have to decline the invitation, as I am far too occupied with supporting myself by my own efforts. We are totally unfunded by any organisation or individual, academic or otherwise, and my colleagues and I have to support ourselves and the institutional framework by investment. This takes up most of our time and energy.

My response might be different if the academy were prepared to make a significant donation to Oxford Forum which would go towards covering our ongoing costs.

If, as you say, you admire my opinions, and wish me to be able to express them, I would be very grateful if you would encourage people and organisations to give me financial support. I am currently being prevented from publishing books or taking part in academic events by complete lack of funding.

Thank you again for your invitation.

With kind regards, etc.