Part 1 (Introduction): A Review of the Casey review (1)
In this final piece in the series reviewing the Casey Review, the elements of PREVENT, thought assimilation and nationalism will be brought together and the totalitarian implications of Casey’s statements and comments determined.
Whilst noting the variations on the definition of integration such as sharing common values, respect and allowing diverse people to attach to Britain in their own way, Casey homes in on a reconstituted, highly ideological, and profoundly neoconservative understanding of integration “based on the benefits that the United Kingdom has to offer”, echoing neocon David Goodhart’s “mental integration”. These include:
“our values of democracy, fairness, the rule of law, freedom of speech, inclusiveness, tolerance and equality between citizens regardless of gender, ethnicity, religion or sexuality.”
In other words, integration is not about getting on despite differences, but how well we comply with a state-defined, and interpreted set of values. Taking a further nationalist slant, in order to be integrated, respect by people must be extended further to the “monarchy and the BBC”, as well as “idiosyncrasies” like queuing and talking about the weather, “loving and hating all these things at once”. Ironically Casey then goes onto state that whilst quintessentially British, “we refuse to have written down, fixed or imposed on us but in which we take great pride”. Yet this is precisely what Casey is doing by making it a criterion for integration. Like a despotic state, the people must “respect” a particular state-defined way, or risking being labelled unintegrated and therefore vulnerable to extremism and terrorism. It oxymoronically posits not having this constantly fluctuating requirement to be neither fixed or imposed, but cements the conformity to a particular, white liberal and upper-middle class understanding and imposes it through the demands of integration. This is dangerous because in effect, Casey’s definition of integration is a modern rendering of imperial colonialism with an Orientalist ontology which artificially contrives the “self” against the internal Muslim/immigrant “other”. Integration therefore is not based on confluence of values and a balance of competing ideas and interests as envisaged by a liberal democracy but a totalitarian control of ideas and promotion of radical nationalism.
“Extreme Views” or Regulating Ideas/Protecting the State?
The positive point about the Casey Review is that it is amazingly blunt in what ideas it wishes to censor from society. A whole plethora of Islamic views are rendered “extremist” or those which make one “vulnerable to extremism”, as demonstrated in the previous blog. More are to be found in the section titled “Legitimising extreme views”, where certain beliefs and practices are rendered outside of the “mainstream”:
- “Religious marriages” without registration. As per the Review, Caroline Cox’s amendment, and the dominant media narrative, this has Muslim religious ceremonies in mind, whilst of course, ignoring the lack of legal protection for co-habiting couples as an “emancipatory” issue.
- “All information outlets from the BBC to the UN demonstrated Islamophobia”. This is all the more concerning given that the Review actually highlights the demonisation of the Muslim minority by the press as disconcerting reality.
- Petitioning non-faith schools to provide for Friday prayers and to permit staff members to wear niqab. In other words, Muslims now cannot exercise their right to make requests to accommodate particular faith needs, including the Friday prayers without being stigmatised as “extremists”.
- “Gender segregated” political meetings, which has the effect of forcing Muslim men and women to either change their beliefs, or disengage from the political sphere, contravening minority rights.
- Questioning the Prime Minister’s claims.
This disconcerting last point requires some elaboration. Casey states, that a local Birmingham politician “was allowed to continue in his post” despite stating that,
“David Cameron says 500 people have gone to Syria to become radicalised, but where is the evidence? And out of a population of three million Muslims in the UK, what kind of percentage is that?”
In other words, requesting evidence for statements made by the PM and questioning threat levels is now a sign of “extremism”. Given David Cameron has a history of making dodgy statements, from falsely accusing Muslim schools to smearing leading Imams, subjecting his or any PM’s statements to scrutiny is not exactly undemocratic. One wonders how the government is meant to be held to account, given how it regularly perpetuates conspiracy theories. It is tantamount to protecting the state from scrutiny.
Accountability is “Extremism”
Casey’s surreal protection of the state continues in her attack on the “substantial network of political Islamist groups” which opposes PREVENT:
“There is a substantial network of political Islamist groups – often describing themselves as advocacy and human rights organisations – which have developed and promoted narratives and a sense of grievance that attempt to undermine Western values and, by frequently accusing the state of persecuting Muslims and the Islamic faith, have sought to set Muslim citizens apart from the rest of society.”
“Frequently funded through individual charitable donations, these groups’ business model is based on presenting a picture of persecution and oppression of Muslims in Britain, with a heavy-handed state blamed for all forms of inequality or obstacles faced by Muslims. Their messages push an extremist narrative that the West and the UK Government are systematically trying to subjugate and harm Muslims, establishing a security state that needs to be opposed at all costs.”
By pathologising state persecution of the Muslim minority and the Islamic faith, Casey axiomatically makes serious issues of concern constitutive of a discourse which threatens the state. Highlighting the differential treatment of the Muslim minority is “extremist” because it “sets Muslim citizens apart from the rest of the society”, suggesting that activists are fostering the lack of integration and making Muslims vulnerable to “extremism” and therefore terrorism. It is a ridiculous inversion, which extricates the state from blame for alienating the Muslim minority through actions and policies like complicity in rendition and torture, MI5 harassment, discriminatory Schedule 7 stops, PREVENT, and the Casey Review, and places it upon those who hold the state to account for its excesses and the victimised community. Pertinently, the ramifications have the potential to go beyond the Muslim minority. The statements made in the Review have the effect of suppressing the notion that increased security powers instituted through the War on Terror, like Orwellian counter-terrorism laws, bulk collection of private data, and the nation-wide public surveillance operation that is PREVENT, is securitising the state, by declaring it an “extremist narrative”. Opposition to such efforts are thus also “extremist”. This has frightful implications for those groups and organisations like Reprieve, Liberty and CAGE and even journalists, whom are challenging the draconian policies of the neoconservative state and its descent towards totalitarianism.
Opposition to PREVENT Treason?
The totalitarian trend sharpens with Casey effectively arguing that opposition to PREVENT is treasonous. After noting the increased opposition to PREVENT following the implementation of the PREVENT Duty, Casey asserts,
“More worrying are some elements of this lobby who appear to have an agenda to turn British Muslims against Britain. These individuals and organisations claim to be advocating on behalf of Muslims and protecting them from discrimination.”
Suddenly, opposition to PREVENT has turned into an “agenda to turn British Muslims against Britain”. This construction of anti-PREVENT activism as treason exemplifies the totalitarian and disturbingly arbitrary suppression of discourse which the state dislikes. Again, there are grave concerns here for groups and organisations addressing structurally discriminatory policies and practices. If it is PREVENT today, what other policies, which if opposed, will constitute “turning against Britain”? Owen Jones recently expressed his disconcert at the “transforming political culture” into an intolerant one where “all left-of-centre opinion as illegitimate, extremist and even treasonous”. The game is still shifting – it is not merely one spectrum of political opinion being suppressed. It is any opinion which the neocon state decides is illegitimate. And this is becoming state policy.
Profiling and a list of indicators for lack of integration
The dark proposals plough on with Casey’s suggestions that profiling should be used as matter of state policy. Her first recommendation states that the government needs to create a programme which improves community cohesion and that this “could back area-based plans and projects addressing the key priorities identified in this review”. The criteria for this should include “promotion of English”, “emancipating marginalised women”, “increasing participation of women in the labour market” and reducing segregation. As I have covered in detail, the Casey Review enunciates these topics within the context of Muslim women of Pakistani and Bangladeshi heritage and targets Muslim thought and culture with a colonialist imposition of paradigmatically liberal ideas. It is not unreasonably to conclude, therefore, that application of these “integration” measures will be directed discriminatorily at the Muslim minority. This follows the pattern of PREVENT itself, which has been applied to areas with high Muslim populations, perpetuating discrimination and stigmatisation. It is also worth bearing in mind that there is no empirical evidence which links psycho-sociological features targeted in the Review to terrorism (via vulnerability to the ideologically-defined “extremism”, and subsequently “extremism”). Such profiling is thus distinctly unjustifiable, an interference with the right to non-discrimination based on religion and contributory to social stigmatisation. It also reinforces the transition of responsibility from the state to the people, “deepening the capacity for the political manipulation of popular fears”.
This becomes more worrying as the damage wrought by “indicators” of “extremism”, which is based on shoddy pseudo-science and results in arbitrary decisions and “litmus tests” directed at the target minority, is extended to the development of state-defined “list of indicators of a potential breakdown in integration”. With PREVENT, which operates as a structurally broken predictive tool to determine potential actions already having the effect of censoring views and stifling activism (see here, and here), this process will become more acute as religious thought and political views become more regulated in the name of integration.
Regulation of Thought in the Private Sphere
Using the “PREVENT as safeguarding spin”, the Casey Review also introduces state regulation of thought into the private sphere through the targeting of supplementary schools, and home schooling. Casey claims that “the recent campaign of resistance has stemmed mainly from Muslim communities”. This misleadingly creates the perception that “only Muslims” have a problem with it. However, the fact remains that Christian communities (and the Orthodox Jewish) have loudly aired their angst at the impact of “British values” and the notion of “extremism”, to the point that David Cameron had to reinforce Muslim minority discrimination and clarify that Sunday Schools, Scouts’ meetings and Christian summer camps would be excluded from the measures.
The Review makes suggestions which were outlined in the government paper calling for evidence on supplementary schools. As I noted in exposition piece last December, the proposals suggested content be regulated and filtered through “British values” and notions of “undesirable teaching”, which would no doubt echo Casey’s section on “regressive views”, sanctioning orthodox Islamic positions. The review stipulates that Ofsted, which has a history of discriminatory, anti-Islam rhetoric and decisions (see here, here, here, and here), and the Charity Commission, which has disproportionately targeted Muslim charities in the past and whose head, William Shawcross, perpetuates far-right/neoconservative Eurabia-esque conspiracy theory hyperbole about Muslims and Europe, are to be supported by central and local government to ensure safeguarding of children.
Casey highlights that the proposals drew criticism for targeting madrassas and Muslims. She deflects this by highlighting that it targeted “all out-of-school settings”. However, this is sandwiched between multiple Muslim-targeting paragraphs. The first quotes Cameron stating that “in some madrassas we’ve got children being taught that they shouldn’t mix with people of other religions; being beaten; swallowing conspiracy theories about Jewish people”. As I have highlighted in some detail, this hyperbolic multifaceted attack eschewed the mentioning of other religious groups. The rest of the paragraphs then detail concerns about madrassas, the statistics around madrassas, and how the concerns around these proposals have “mainly stemmed from Muslims”. Casey ignores the fact that the definition of “intensive education” – that is, “any individual child attending a setting for more than between 6 to 8 hours a week” – mainly targets Muslims as Muslim children normally attend between 1.5 and 2 hours of supplementary Qur’an reading after school. Christian Sunday schools, for instance, would automatically be excluded, thereby constituting indirect discrimination against the Muslim minority.
Eradicating the already ridiculously arbitrary public/private distinction, Casey also argues for the British values thought regulation to extend to the family home:
Even independent schools, which do not have to follow the national curriculum and have a lot of autonomy on what and how they teach, are required to teach fundamental British values on the principle that all children should be equipped to participate fully in British life. It seems wrong, therefore, that this should not also be the case for home-educated children.
As I had stated when the parental-rights-violating proposals were first made public, non-Muslim, white parents felt that the intrusion into the home reversed the presumption of innocence, with a perception being created that parents cannot be trusted and that, instead of being treated like citizens, they were all terrorists. It was fuelling suspicion. One wonders how Muslims must feel given their mosques, madrassas, and minds have been game for state intervention for years.
The Oath, Political Religion and the Closed Society
Based on the discredited conveyor-belt theory underpinning, Casey sets out recommendations under the banner of,
“Improving the integration of communities in Britain and establishing a set of values around which people from different backgrounds can unite”.
This would include a promotion of British laws, history and values within the core of the curriculum, with “more weight” being “attached to British values”.
One questions how these coercive, intellectually dubious intra-contradictory ideas and proposals would suddenly create the necessary social love-glue to stamp out social ills. The culturalist proposals, from the notion of “cohesion” being mental domination by state beliefs, to a rejection of British values implying a threat to the state, serve fundamental neoconservative objectives. The media publicised “oath of integration”, which is targeting newcomers to Britain, but will invariably be imposed on the rest of society, is also constitutive of a particularly dangerous agenda. The state has become policy and the policy the state. In other words, the British values discourse is a radical form of nationalism which is being promoted as political theology of Britain.
This should concern us all.
This formulation of nationalism is occurring against the backdrop of free-roaming banksters, austerity measures, gaping national debt, homelessness, joblessness, increased financial inequality, bursting prisons and more all contributing to popular disenchantment. The powerful “ideal” of nationalism offers the narcissistic, individualistic ego a false sense of security and stability, whilst conscribing the indoctrinated community as politically sacrificeable in the process. Pertinently, it is also unable to disentangle itself from the genocide and atrocities of the last century.
The Casey Review has been influenced if not directed by neoconservatives, and exhibits clearly supremacist neoconservative ideas. It is therefore incumbent to understand these proposals from the neoconservative world view. Neocons harness this nationalism as an “antidote to secular liberalism”, and once merged with the idea of religion, forms a “civic religion” people are required to subscribe to. The symbols for this metaphysical “noble lie” include things like the Constitution, the Pledge, or as the neoconservative “god father” Leo Strauss in his 1941 lecture on German Nihilism said, “the flag and the oath to the flag”. For Strauss, who regards the open society “morally inferior” to his ideal far-right, fascism-based authoritarian “closed society” ruled by a neocon elite, these symbols are all necessary to foster the “ceremonial of seriousness” which is desideratum to cultivate a form of collectivism for a “closed society” in which people ultimately self-sacrifice for an aggressively warring state. The all-encompassing focus on education to ensure a particular version of British history is taught, and the political religion is preached, is also integral to the neoconservative closed society project as an avenue for cultural assimilation and the shaping of drone subjects.
The Casey Review represents a shockingly totalitarian blueprint for British society. The fascist nature of the enterprise is demonstrated by the fact that when far-right activist and then UKIP MEP Gerard Batten demanded in 2014 that Muslims sign up to a code of conduct which involved disbelieving in elements of Islam, including verses of the Qur’an, it was condemned even by the likes of Nigel Farage as “insulting”. The difference today is that the Review is doing the same albeit under the deceptive proclamations of integration and “British values”. The Review’s totalitarian content, however, has detrimental consequences for all. It is for the people to see through (what neocons call) the “exoteric” rhetorical façade which induces fear and determine the esoteric objective of creating a draconian, warring, closed society, where discussions, activism and thought are tightly controlled by neoconservatives.
The Casey Review is a milestone contribution to the neocon-designed social terraforming of Britain into a fascist society which is docile to their warmongering whims. The question remains, is this a society we wish to wake up to tomorrow?
 Casey, L., The Casey Review – A Review into Opportunity and Integration, Para. 2.6, Accessed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/574565/The_Casey_Review.pdf
 Ibid. Para. 11.15
 Ibid. para. 5.26-27
 Ibid. Para. 9.24
 Ibid. Para. 10.30
 Ibid. Para. 10.31
 Ibid. Para. 1.74
 Ibid. Para. 12.1 – Recommendation 2
 Ibid. Para. 7.59
 Ibid. Para. 7.56
 Ibid. Para.7.55
 Ibid. Para. 7.57
 Ibid. Para. 7.58
 Ibid. Para. 7.59
 Ibid. Para. 7.62