Not many literary festivals end in violence, but the Lewes Speakers’ Festival last weekend did so. About 100 protesters tried to prevent Katie Hopkins, the Daily Mail columnist,, from speaking there about her autobiographical book, Rude, and succeeded. She left when the police said that they could no longer guarantee her safety.
I spoke immediately before Katie Hopkins, who guarded by a close protection squad, was scheduled to appear (she was the last speaker of the day). The banging on the windows and chanting began just as I was ending.Two or three protestors wearing motor cycle helmets and masks broke into the hall with a crowbar and a member of the audience hit one of them over the head with the leg of a chair.Then the eggs started flying. One of the policemen looked as if he were about to be scrambled. Despite the assaults on the police no charges are contemplated
My wife and I were advised by the police not to leave the hall as we had planned. Along with perhaps forty other people we were in effect imprisoned by the demonstrators. A couple of the women were genuinely very frightened and one was in tears because she had been separated from her husband and did not know where he was and whether he was safe. In the end, we were escorted through a back entrance by the police and led in the dark through a graveyard.
Katie Hopkins is said to be an apostle of hate, but the faces of the demonstrators were hardly those of universal love, to put it very mildly. According to the reports of eye-witnesses, some of the demonstrators handed out eggs to their children for them to throw at the police This, presumably, was because the children could not very well be arrested for assaulting the police in this fashion.
Apart from being cowardly (in the true and not in the false sense of the word often used about suicide bombers), to allow children to witness such scenes as occurred, or rather as were committed, in Lewes was surely a form of abuse. Were there any social workers on hand to protect the nippers from their abusive parents? The question answers itself. It is more likely that there were social workers among the demonstrators handing out eggs to children to throw.
I can’t say that I was frightened personally, for I have been in far worse situations. And yet I thought that I caught in this little episode a distant glimpse of a possible future dictatorship or even civil war in this country.
Those who love to prattle about “tolerance” are invariably the most intolerant people in the world.
Freedom of thought and speech are quite advanced ideas, developed in England during the enlightenment and protected until recently in Britain and America by a small group of aristocrats, in particular those who incorporated the idea into the American constitution. There is no reason to believe that such sensitivity to the rights of others can survive mass democracy.
Government and the judiciary here have already adopted the heresy of “hate speech” which provides “intellectual” cover for those who would abolish any thoughts from the public space other than their own.
Only the election of Trump put an end, for now, to similar moves in the U S.
Labour here and the Democrats there are perfectly willing to institute universal censorship and the prohibition of any but approved speech.
Is the mass of the electorate even slightly bothered ?
Darren says: “Tim, that is possible. Another possibility is that some of those on the hard left simply enjoy violence, and seek an ideology to justify their sadism.”
I’m sure that is as true of many of the people described in this article as it was of the tiresome rebels-looking-for-a-cause that I encountered so often at university from the late ’60s onwards. But there is a further issue that can underlie that inclination towards violence.
The ideology behind the behaviour described in the article justifies both the participants’ belief in their own moral superiority and their addiction to exclusion. Like communism and nazism, the dominant left-liberal ideologies such as egalitarianism and extreme feminism believe that society can be perfected. If asked they might well deny that; but the reality shows itself in that the means of perfection is to root out all “evil” that will stand in the way of the idealists’ goals.
From a Christian perspective, they are acting as God-in-my-own-image. They deny that they can be wrong. They deny the possibility of redemption for those they regard as sinners. They believe that all moral virtue rests on their side. Those who oppose them are evil because they obstruct the historically inevitable, virtuous progress towards perfection. Rightly can it be called neo-Marxism.
Make no mistake about it, the entire package of belief and action is a religion.
“Jez” – Corbyn by any chance? He represents the mirror image of fundamental Islam to Islam itself. The Communists – to give the hard left their proper title – have always used violence to achieve their ends, to brook no argument, to destroy a free society at all costs. I do think this could quite likely lead to civil war when the true patriots of this country realise what is at stake.
It is not surprising that the least literate, the least articulate contribution to this little debate comes from ‘jez’, clearly a supporter of the violent left. I think Verity True is quite right to raise the possibility of psychiatric disorder as a way of understanding the violent left but in the case of ‘jez’ and so many others the primary disorder appears to be one of intellect.
Tim, that is possible. Another possibility is that some of those on the hard left simply enjoy violence, and seek an ideology to justify their sadism.
I follow Katie Hopkins online, I used to listen to her LBC Sunday morning radio show and she speaks of the things that no one else in media will touch. She may be blunt and non PC but she does not incite hate.
We need Katie Hopkins, we could do with a few more like her in the media generally, and with all due respect to the Salisbury Review, Theodore Dalrymple should be writing about this mob violence in The Telegraph.
I just learned about Katie Hopkins here:
yeah antifascists protect local communities from hate mongers like hopkins who has just been fired for giving a speech calling for race war to neo-nazis, and their ‘free speech’ on the assumption that if you allow fascists a platform on the streets you then have to fight them when they have a platfornm of government
You sound like one of those deluded left wing revolution addicts living out a fantasy of rebel as hero of the people. “Protecting local communities”!? That is laughable. The Antifascist’s aim is to enforce their politics by bullying, threat and intimidation on the wider community. For these left wing wannabe revolutionaries all disagreement is opposition to silenced, intimidated and/or crushed. They cannot bear to hear alternative views and do not want anyone else to hear them either.
I’m not sure whether you are lacking in self-awareness or just blatantly cynical but to paraphrase your clumsy bit of self-justification:
If we avoid fighting Antifascist’s on the streets and allow them to get away with their strategy of violent intimidation and bullying censorship we will have a much more difficult fight on our hands when they gain a (highly intolerant) platform in government.
Well said, Mana.
The spectre of violence is the ever present shadow of the Left, intimidating many of those who would speak against them. Unlike the good doctor I’m not a psychiatrist, but have often wondered if hard core Leftism isn’t some form of psychological affliction, given that the same symptoms manifest over and over: Intolerance of those who disagree with their childish dogmas; a seemingly irresistible urge to persecute those who hold a contrary opinion; an unwavering belief in their view as the only true view; and an all too rapid resort to violence and intimidation (as described above). The irony is that they don’t see the irony inherent in the mismatch between their declarations and their actions. I for one am afraid of them, for they represent the darkness that will extinguish the light of civilization. As for the possibility of a future dictatorship: I will be surprised if this does not come to pass. As for the possibility of a future civil war: Surely that die is already cast and we are actually in a state of civil war, but without its having been declared; a Cold Civil War. Meanwhile we’re quietly counting down to the moment when the reality of the conflict can no longer be denied by those who currently find it too uncomfortable a truth to acknowledge.
Grim, yet accurate. God help us all.