Quite a furore has been stirred by proposals which check for “extremism” in toddlers (yes, read that sentence again – it is absolutely ridiculous). According to the new PREVENT-on-steroids Strategy, teaching staff must have training which gives them knowledge and confidence to identify children as young as three, at risk of being drawn into terrorism and challenge “extremist ideas”. They must also know where and how to refer children to the Channel panel for “deradicalisation”. Though Home Office likes to placate the people with the spin that they do not expect “unnecessary intrusion into family life”, a proper examination of the reveals otherwise. As Asim Qureshi of CAGE notes,
“the CTS Bill is presented as a consent based system where those… under 18… [must obtain] consent of their parents. However, the devil is in the detail, and where the consent is not gained, then the panels established to review each individual case of risk, will be able to consider models within the health and social services. In other words, the threat of having your children taken away, should you not provide consent, will be used as a form of coercion, so the very idea of a consent based approach will be completely neutralised.”
I have already written extensively about the fundamental problems of the PREVENT strategy (see links in this blog). Over the past decade, the Muslim minority have been the test bed for the impending statutory roll-out of PREVENT. Much injustice has be done. Lives have been disrupted, families harassed, and an entire community has been made to feel targeted and circumspect. If there is any doubt that these measures are primarily aimed at the Muslim minority, then one needs to simply peruse the daily reports in neocon papers about “extremist” Muslims. Even in the those reports discussing this absurd proposal targeting toddlers, quotes of examples of children at risk of radicalisation from the Home Office are in the context of Muslims only (see the Telegraph and the Independent coverage as examples). The references to “far-right terrorism” are tokenistic at best.
Establishing a multi-agency public surveillance programme conducted by the public, the PREVENT Strategy is simply put, a refined Stasi strategy. This near replication of authoritarian and fascist regimes is not incidental.
Neoconservativism and Education
Neoconservatives have penetrated the inner recesses of our government and are specifically influencing the area around security of the state. Thus their “mode of thinking” needs to be analysed in order to contextualise what exactly is happening.
As explained in a previous blog, neoconservatism requires the “statesmen” to eschew principles in order pursue power. As such principles such as rule of law and human rights are undermined. For the neocons, education is pivotal in forming a society which conforms and bends to the will of the wise philosopher-kings or their agents, the “wise” statesmen. The statesmen are told to use a Machiavellian understanding in their policy formation, as disturbingly demonstrated through neocon Carnes Lord’s approving citation of Machiavelli,
“…it is necessary to a prince, if he wants to maintain himself, to learn to be able not to be good, and to use this and not use it according to necessity.”
In keeping with the Straussian-Platonic dualism (the neocons look to Leo Strauss who in turn derives his thinking from Plato and his Cave), the principles are for the “vulgar” people to aspire towards, not for the elite. In other words, principles are the “noble lie” which people need to live life. The new “civic religion” (which supersedes traditional religions) for the public in order to prop this “noble lie” is that of secular liberalism. The marrying of “British-ness” and secular liberal values provides for the necessary identity which can then be used to form the “patriotism” necessary for people to aspire towards, sacrificing self-interest for the collective interest. It also conveniently helps distinguish the “traitors”. This is precisely why we witnessed the 2014 Trojan Hoax fiasco – a secular imposition of values on children through coercion. As Lord in the context of education writes,
“In our egalitarian and diverse society, it is a key avenue of cultural assimilation and social mobility”
The architecting of an identity explains why neoconservatives are avid supporters of state interference with education:
“Political leaders have every right to form and express judgments about the teaching of national history and to take action to shape public school curriculums in this area. More generally, they have every right to expect that the schools will provide at least the rudiments of a civic education, promoting not only patriotism but an understanding of democratic principles and the fundamentals of personal and civic morality”
In order to achieve their social programme the neoconservatives believe it is the role of the government to monitor and manage education from nursery through to university so they “continue to serve the interests of the state as a whole”.
What we are witnessing through the Counter Terror Bill and an enhanced PREVENT strategy is the fulfilment of this neoconservative whim.
Neoconservatives and Authoritarianism
As I will demonstrate later in this piece, the method of how this is being achieved through PREVENT draws parallels to authoritarian states. This is no coincidence given that neocons are taught “not to be good”. Neocon thinker Michael Ledeen suggests to American political leaders to adopt “Machiavellian Leadership”, arguing that sometimes one may need to resort to doing evil actions like being a dictator in order save freedom, presenting the model examples of Mao and Hitler.
Neocons like Ledeen, Lord and their “godfather”, Irving Kristol, draw their influence from Leo Strauss. Strauss idolised socialist values of self-sacrifice, collectivism and a “higher aim” over self-interest, capitalism and individualism. Towards the early 19th century Strauss’ thinking was greatly affected by German philosophers Friedrich Nietzsche and Martin Heidegger, with Strauss supporting them and the aforementioned collectivist values along with their disdain for liberalism and modernity. More pertinently, their core philosophy provided a catalyst for the rise of Nazism. During the Nazi-era, Leo Strauss wrote a review of a paper authored by Carl Schmitt attacking liberalism and asserting the values which underpinned Nazism. Schmitt, it must be noted, joined the Nazi party in 1933. Strauss’ critique was not in defence of liberalism, but rather in support of Schmitt’s postulations, strengthening key arguments and reinforcing the need for a perpetual enemy for people to unite under a “closed” (authoritarian) – as opposed to “open” – society. In a letter to his friend, Karl Löwith, Strauss would shockingly go on to assert that right-wing fascist, authoritarian and imperial principles, not the “cross of liberalism”, were to be the solutions for Nazism.
The point of going in to such depth is to demonstrate that the policies like the PREVENT strategy are not merely influenced by contemporary neocons, but rather, by a thinking which is not shy of brushing with the fascism of Mussolini in order to control the people and direct them to what the neocons deem “good”. The inspiration for these tendencies comes from the deepest roots of neoconservatism.
PREVENT, Nazi Germany and the Stasi State
It is thus no surprise that PREVENT smacks of past fascist and authoritarian regimes. PREVENT has normalised mass public spying without little contention due to coercion of law to support and respect “British values”. It is a contrived banner for people to be rallied under. As highlighted in a previous blog, during the Nazi era, ordinary people spied and reported “problems” which were defined by the Nazis in an atmosphere of fear. It was normalised through the notion of loyalty, “Ein Volk, Ein Reich”, or “one nation, one people”. According to Arendt, totalitarian societies like Nazi Germany employed,
“a system of ubiquitous spying, where everybody may be a police agent and each individual feels himself under constant surveillance.”
The shaping of thought in line with the assertion of a British identity through “British values” is disturbingly similar to the Nazi era-control of education. Hitler’s views on education were concerned with the reshaping of values, creation of national identity in addition to “racial awareness” and increased militarisation. Lisa Pine adds that, “the teachers… were taught about the characteristics of the “Jewish race”.
The transition today has shifted from physical characteristics to ideological ones yet the underpinning xenophobia is the same. In Britain, we are witnessing imposition of “values” decided by neocons, creation of what it means to be “British”, and awareness of “extremism” of primarily Islam through the deradicalisation agenda which uses “signifiers” or character traits to denote propensity toward radicalisation. The military aspect can be seen in the PREVENT strategy definition of “extremism” which makes a clear reference to armed forces and calling for their death, an action which is covered by existing criminal laws.
In Nazi Germany, the NSLB was established in April 1929 and made up of Nazi-minded teachers. It pushed “cultural politics and national pride” capitalising on the low morale of the teachers at the time. Eventually, through the Nazi propaganda against Jews and “Marxists and freemasons”, “unreliable” and Jewish teachers were “purged” from the education system. In Britain, using the discourse of “extremism” and bending due process, large numbers of Muslim teachers in Birmingham have been replaced by non-Muslim, often white teachers.
Further parallels can be drawn in the context of the proposed policy on infants in nurseries. According to Pine, “the National Socialist regime used kindergartens as a means of intervening in families and imbuing children with Nazi ideals.” The Counter-Terror proposals, by using the child as a proxy, are assessing the values and thinking of the family, with the outcome being the “imbuing” of “right ideals” if required.
The Nazi educational programmes occurred in conjunction with the surveillance programme as noted by Arendt mentioned above. Britain’s policy however, is closer, or rather, a more refined version of what came after the Gestapo: The German Democratic Republic.
Britain’s 21st Century Stasi
The Ministry for State Security (abbreviated to “Stasi”) of a socialist East Germany became notorious for its massive spying network which eventually resulted in the Stasi headquarters being stormed by the people.
There were multiple levels of surveillance: those who were “officially” employed and those who spied in an unofficial capacity. The unofficial informers were broken into a number of categories too. According to official Stasi guidelines, the unofficial informers were the “very core” and the “main weapon” in the fight against the enemy.
Schools, hospitals and most public services were extensively infiltrated. The pervasion was such that “many a conversation was subjected to a form of self-imposed censorship in the belief that it was being furtively recorded and analysed,” – a situation which Muslims can relate to as they struggle to determine which statement or action is classed by neocons as “extremist”. This point also demonstrates the fallaciousness of the PREVENT strategy.
The Stasi was one of the largest surveillance operations conducted by the public, surpassing even the Gestapo. With PREVENT establishing a multi-agency public surveillance programme, the “official informers” are the PREVENT officers and the “unofficial informers” are once again doctors and teachers. Britain is set to exceed East Germany in its extensiveness – a feat not to be proud of.
The impact on Muslim parents is immense. After arbitrarily being labelled extremists, families and children will be stigmatised and pupils will be bullied by being called terrorists in the playground. In worst case scenario, children will be taken from their parents through the social services backdoor, evoking the Third Reich’s policy of forced “Germanisation” of Jews.
The neoconservative drive to architect a British identity which can then be used to determine the “patriots” from the “dissidents” has PREVENT as its vehicle. The repressive methods which insanely targets toddlers in the same broad category as potential terrorists will disproportionately target the Muslim minority as per existing precedent and in doing so will traverse the foundational paths taken by authoritarian, oppressive regimes. This is but the natural result of the retroviral neoconservative thinking which has taken a grip in on the British government.
Perhaps the only place PREVENT needs to be implemented, is in the corridors of power.
 Carnes, L. The Modern Prince: What Leaders Need to Know Now, R.R. Donnelley & Sons, Virginia US, 2003, p.135
 Ibid. p.138-9
 Ibid. p.140
 Michael Ledeen, Machiavelli on Modern Leadership, St. Martin’s Griffin, 2000,pp.173-174, pp.19-20
 See Meier H, Carl Schmitt and Leo Strauss: The Hidden Dialogue, Chicago University Press: Chicago, 1995, pp.110-120
 See translated note here: http://balkin.blogspot.co.uk/2006/07/letter_16.html. Strauss writes, “the fact that the new right-wing Germany does not tolerate us [Jews] says nothing against the principles of the right. To the contrary: only from the principles of the right, that is from fascist, authoritarian and imperial principles, is it possible with seemliness, that is, without resort to the ludicrous and despicable appeal to the droits imprescriptibles de l’homme [inalienable rights of man] to protest against the shabby abomination [i.e. Nazism]… There is no reason to crawl to the cross, neither to the cross of liberalism, as long as somewhere in the world there is a glimmer of the spark of the Roman thought. And even then: rather than any cross, I’ll take the ghetto…”
 Pine L, Education in Nazi Germany, Berg Publishers: New York, 2010, p.15
 Ibid. p.25
 Miller. B, Narratives of Guilt and Compliance in Unified Germany: Stasi informers and their impact on Society, Routledge: New York, 1999, p.10
 Ibid. p.4