Date: 13:00-14:00, 26th July 2017
Location: The Henry Jackson Society, 26th Floor Millbank Tower, 21-24 Millbank, SW1P 4QP
Speaker: Jamie Bartlett
Event Chair: Tom Wilson, Research Fellow, The Henry Jackson Society
Jamie Bartlett: … mainstream political movements so I spent many years going around with, going to pubs with, living with a variety of very different types of fringe political movements. I really mean across the board, radical right groups, psychedelic societies, radical environmentalists, I lived on a freak commune with is massively back en-vogue at the moment, can you believe it, hard-line libertarians, futurists that want to live forever and so on. I wanted to document the broad span of movements that are interesting and I think have something to tell us about the way that life is changing. So I am not going to go into all these stories but I thought I would give you two or three. One from right now, one from the next 5 or 6 years and one for maybe 10 years down the line all of which are important.
So let’s start with the radical right, which some people think is The Henry Jackson Society but there you go. Tommy Robinson and the English Defence League, you all know who he is you have maybe heard about the English Defence League, the group that crossed the UK over about 4 or 5 years doing anti-Islam demonstrations which were often characterised by violence, drinking, clashing with the police and being anti-fascist and so on. I have followed them from the very beginning really since day one and in 2015 Tommy Robinson the former leader of the English Defence League gets in touch with me and says I want to found a new respectable version of the EDL. The problem with the EDL he said is that we were nearly almost drunk and people wouldn’t listen to our message. We have something important to say but we always end up doing these offensive chants and all the rest of it and we were not appealing to the middle classes, we need to appeal to the middle classes. He looked over at Germany and saw Pregador which had been demonstrating with a similar message about sort of fears of the Islamisation of Europe every single Monday at 8pm, peacefully without alcohol and so on and he thought we are going to replicate that here in the UK, we are going to found Pregador in the UK. So I thought ok I will go along with this.
So for the one year he tried to do this with Ann-Marie Walters, currently the maybe candidate for the leader of UKIP and Paul Weston who runs Liberty GB he tried to found Pregador UK. I am not going to give all the details of the story away but in one sense it succeeded – he had a number of demonstrations which where peaceful, where there was no chanting, no violence, no drinking but hardly any people because the drinking and the fighting and the chanting was an extremely important part of why people had joined the English Defence League. When you took all of that away from the movement it wasn’t really fun anymore. Having been with Tommy Robinson for months and months on end in Copenhagen where we were chased by anti-fascists, got into fights with anti-fascists, had police guards on our hotel rooms, it is really, really exciting. I mean it is exhilarating, it’s thrilling, it is addictive in fact. The adrenalin rushes which you get from being part of this type of movement and the minute that is stripped away Pregador UK predictably sort of petered out. I think we forget that often that is an important part of why people join movements.
A group of lads at the root of the English Defence League were from football hooliganism who were not from particularly nice parts of town, not particularly amazing prospective, not particularly exciting thrilling lives suddenly become part of a small van guard movement who believe themselves to be defending western civilisation from Islamification. They have a social occasion, they meet all up together – you can begin to understand why it is such a powerful movement.
The other side of it is the social media element of groups like the radical right because one thing I always notice, people talk about echo chambers and filter bubbles all the time, this is why people get stuck into these worlds and information silos. We are all in our own information bubbles of sorts but it is true that the radical right in my view, what people think that they are constantly sharing is inaccurate stories, lies, conspiracy theories and that isn’t actually my experience at all. They are able to quite selectively choose lots and lots of actual stories from actual things that are happening from very respectable outlets and then place them very neatly and carefully into a continuous stream of social media outlet which creates the kind of sense that the narrative is the west and Islam are incompatible, western politicians are too afraid to admit it, journalists like me, liberal journalists are also too afraid to accept that and we will slur anyone who tries to bring that up as racist and fascist and bigots and all the rest of it. They are able to find every single day dozens of stories from respectable media outlets that perfectly corroborate that story because those things do happen.
Now I find it infuriating when I spend 2 or 3 hours on the timelines or feeds of the radical right because I hate the stories they are sharing because they annoy me. Not the people sharing them but the stories themselves annoy me. I despair at the state of the world when I read those things. Now I read them for 1 or 2 hours and then I go and see some other sides to the stories or whatever. But someone like Tommy Robinson he sees nothing but that for 6 or 7 years and it gets to the point where if you are ever to question his beliefs in the system, not only are you wrong, you are probably part of some lefty-liberal spineless elite who dares not speak the truth because look at all the evidence I have amassed on my timeline.
This happened to me very, very often indeed and one example with Ann-Marie Walters, this was the very first time I met her and I was interviewing her about immigration and Islam and I said do you sometimes think Ann-Marie that you confuse immigration and Islam. Before she even knew anything about me she said this is just the sort of shit that lefty journalists like you want to print about us that we are all a bunch of racists and fascists, well we are not. I said I don’t think you are any of those things how do you even know what I think? She said you lefties you are all the same. It was a very easy way just to dismiss a question, very infuriating because I am usually accused of being a sympathiser with the English Defence League by people who don’t like me. It was a very interesting thing to see the combination of how social media creates this information silo and in the thrill and excitement of being part of that movement twinned together, makes these movements an extremely interesting and exciting place for the people who are part of it. That is story number one of the radical right, quite misunderstood I think.
The second one is about radical environmentalism which is a completely changing tank. I had a very interesting couple of years where one week I was with Tommy Robinson then I was with radical environmentalists shutting down a mine then I am with a group of psychedelic pioneers, it was a really strange period of time in my life.
The radical environmentalism by which I mean militant efforts to use direct action to shut down mines or disrupt industrial production and so on is I think going to be as much a worry for the authorities in 5-10 years’ time as the radical right or Islamism is now. We always seem not to be able to predict the next wave of extremism or radicalisation, I think radical environmentalism will be the next one. Partly because they increasingly believe (with good reason) that they have a very powerful moral justification for shutting things down, it is only the fate of the entire plant that hinges on this after all. Secondly because they are increasingly losing trust and confidence in formal politics to resolve what they consider to be legitimate grievances.
I spent a lot of time with, and by the way if this is true, what on earth is our Prevent program going to do about it? Has anyone got any good ideas of how Prevent can solve the problem of green radicalisation because if you do I would love to hear it. Maybe get someone from Greenpeace in to de-radicalise the militant direct action environmentalists, who knows. I spent an awful lot of time with the radical environmentalists, have you all heard of Earth First – a movement we thought was long gone. The earth liberation front which was described by the FBI as the number one domestic terror threat in 2001 before September, was an offshoot of Earth First. It is the most infamous direct action environmentalist group probably in the world. They are enjoying quite a resurgence at the moment.
I spent a lot of time with Earth First and with reclaim the power and with some of the other groups that use direct action to shut down mines. We shut down the largest open coal mine in the UK in Wales. When I was with these people I looked around and there was 200 of us shutting down this coal mine. Two weekends before that 500 people had turned out for this opening demonstration of Pregador UK. I thought why are there only 200 people here but there are 500 people for the opening of Pregador UK, doesn’t seem to make any sense to me why is radical environmentalism so small as a movement still. One of the reasons is the way they created these sub-cultures and it really got me thinking about the power of the sub-culture.
If you have ever been to a radical environmentalist event or movement you will find that they are more than any other group that I spent time with, desperate to become inclusive and open. They dedicate a lot of time to ensure that their movement reflects the full diversity of the UK. They have these consensus based decision making circles where everyone sits in a circle and twinkles their hands, you might of seen this in the occupy movement all the ways of making sure that everyone is part of a decision. They have lots of workshops about intersectionality and how to make the movement welcoming for different groups and yet they are the most harmogenous group that I have ever spent time with. They are nearly all from the same social class, university educated, they wear the same clothes, they talk in the same accent. They have become trapped in this sub-culture and they don’t quite understand why or how to get out of it. One of the reasons is anyone who turns up to one of these meetings that is not familiar with the university affiliated ways of making decisions by twinkling your fingers in the air and that stuff will immediately find themselves feeling completely unwelcome.
I don’t know if you have ever felt that but you have probably heard it as I really want to save the environment too but those eco people are a bunch of weirdos, in common parts that is how it comes across. The problem is that sub-culture that they have created just keeps sustaining itself because only other people like them feel welcome there despite all of their efforts. Ironically consensus based decision making circles with twinkling fingers puts everybody else off. I contrast that because this is one of the reasons I think radical environmentalism will become more militant because when you get a small group of people that form this tight sub-culture that no-one else becomes part of, it does have this tendency to radicalise. I contrast that to the anti-fracking movement which I don’t know if anyone here is part of an anti-fracking movement but it is the fastest growing bit of the environmentalist activism at the moment and it is completely different from the direct action to shut down the coal mines by chaining yourself to machinery environmentalism.
The reason is anti-fracking movement have been formed based on local grievances. People who join anti-fracking movements are worried about their drinking water in their town which means that they create this movement that brings everybody together all different classes and groups of people. When I went to some anti-fracking meetings you would find people whose names were sort of Betty and Angie and Cathy and Dave and Barry and they would be offering you cups of tea and cakes. There was no twinkling of fingers for consensus based decision making but it just felt far more inclusive, it was naturally. Now if the anti-fracking movement and the direct action environmentalists are able to get together and work together, this movement is going to get very big very quickly because anyone who works in environmentalism will tell you the anti-fracking they haven’t seen anything like it in environmentalism for a very long time. Watch and see so that is 5 years.
Ten years, fifteen years down the line the thing that I think we all ought to be looking out for are movements that are based primarily on technology and what technology is going to do. For that I followed a transhumanist across America, if anyone read my last book the Dark Net, it actually finished with this guy his name is Zoltan he is a transhumanist. Transhumanists are a group of people who believe that you can and should use science and technology to radically transform what it means to be human because they can slow down ageing, possibly even end death. We can introduce chip implants into our brains and speak 100 languages instantly, we can use artificial intelligence to restructure our economies so we don’t have to work, we can just sit around all day attending seminars at The Henry Jackson Society and whatever.
In 2015, same as Tommy Robinson, Zoltan a transhumanist from California gets in touch with me to and says I am going to run for President as leader of the transhumanist party on the pitch of vote for me if you want to live forever. I am going to take a 1977 twelve seater bus, make it look like a big coffin on wheels and drive it, it is going to be called the immortality bus and I am going to drive it from San Francisco to Washington DC on a 3 month campaign where I stop at cities and take my message of transhumanism to the people. So I thought well I am getting on that bus. So I get on the bus with Zoltan and we travelled across America and we had a chipped implant in an RFID, I don’t know if you have fob keys in this building but fob keys have RFID chips in them that are able to open locks just by tapping the scanner. He had one implanted into his hand so he could just walk around and do it. Actually he had it so this RFID chip implant was designed so you could unlock your IPhone just by tapping it but he had a Samsung phone so it didn’t work. So this is the problem with technology.
That biohacking that use of introducing technology into the body is going to become very, very big I think. Anyways I travelled with Zoltan across America and this is the strange thing, two things about this story what I want to tell you. The first is San Francisco I went on this bus tour and the journalists absolutely loved this, the bus was full of journalists because they were all drawn to the same frankly ridiculous idea of a man travelling America on a 1977 bus with no air conditioning or heating promising immortality through technology. You know and I thought I would be able to write about the contradictions, it will be amazing I will get loads of shares on Facebook and you know Vice might write it up for me and all the rest of it. Seems that every other journalist had the same idea as me because Zoltan’s story, the man running for President promising immortality was written up by nearly every single media outlet in the world. The FT, the New Yorker, New York Times, Washington Post, Daily Mail, Mail Online, Telegraph, you name it they wrote features on Zoltan.
This is the thing. Zoltan told me he was running as leader of the transhumanist party, when I looked into it, it turns out there wasn’t such a legal entity as the transhumanist party at all. He created a political action committee and was running as an independent candidate which is very easy to do in America but doesn’t have quite such the same weight as saying you are running as a candidate for a political party. This is important because he was also raising money claiming to be the leader of a political party which didn’t exist which is illegal under federal law so he was breaking the law. Not one journalist who wrote about Zoltan mentioned this point, not one journalist checked if there was such a thing as the transhumanist party, including me. I wrote it up for the Telegraph, I didn’t bother checking the details because I didn’t care about the details I was just in love with the story.
So there was a very strange dynamic in that the journalists where kind of creating the movement of Transhumanism which they were writing about. One day we stopped off at the American equivalent of B&Q to buy some white paint so he could touch up the paintwork on the coffin bus. Very, very mundane thing to do so as Zoltan is walking around the B&Q looking for paint, the only difference is that he is being shadowed by a camera crew and five journalists with notepads. Which means everyone starts coming up to him to talk to him which allows him to sell his message to them which we journalists then wrote about. The interaction which we wrote about only took place because we were there. We journalists were creating transhumanism and we journalists took the message of transhumanism to millions of people. Millions of people learnt about this movement because of us journalists. I think it is an interesting commentary on the way that a lot of politics and journalism relate to each other now.
The other thing about Zoltan which I think is worth mentioning is that he was talking in 2015 about things I had never really heard of. Life extension technology is going to mean in 50 years’ time that we can all live for another 15 or 20 years and big companies are investing in this a lot of money and it is going to really change everything we know about long-term budgetary forecasting. Not only had that he said, artificial intelligence is going to completely change our economy it is machine landing intelligence. It is going to mean that an awful lot of jobs will be unnecessary, not only routine jobs but middle class jobs like doctors and heaven forbid journalists and solicitors and teachers and we need to start thinking about how we restructure our economy whilst retaining the benefits of that technology. I thought when he told me all of this stuff in 2015 that he was completely bonkers, didn’t know what he was talking about. I am sure as you would have noticed over the past 6 months it now seems that these are the only things anyone can write about. Everyone is suddenly terrified about the prospect of artificial intelligence and what it is going to mean. Zoltan was the first major, well I say major, first political person that I ever heard talking about this stuff and it sounded mad now it sounds more sensible every day.
So the message of the book in a sense is partly that I can’t say which ones are right and wrong and which ones will become the mainstream ideas of tomorrow but usually within these radical movements, even the ones that have fabricated political parties and trick journalists in a sense to write about them and run fairly ludicrous campaigns they have something valuable to tell us. They usually have some lesson that we can learn from, something that we should be listening to, to try and help shape the policies of the future and with that I will stop and open it up.
Tom Wilson: Thank you, thank you very much for that. Well I am sure that our audience will ask plenty to ask about off those anecdotes but I wonder if I might start myself. You mentioned Prevent and governments thinking on extremism and I wondered whether you see radicals and extremists as essentially the same thing. Extremist comes with such a value judgement as being a very negative thing whereas you can argue radicals help drive forward the thinking of society but if they are essentially a similar phenomenon, I wonder if you think and thinking about how we define extremism whether we are essentially being far too narrow and ruling out any value that doesn’t sit comfortable with us as being extreme?
Jamie Bartlett: Well I choose the title Radical because it is definitely less loaded than extreme and historically in the 1960s and with the liberals in the 1820s, 40s and 50s and so on was now considered to be quite a good thing. I described it as any group who sort of sits outside the Overton window without a set of policies most political scientists say parties need to sign up to win an election. You can move a little bit within that, you can increase the top rate of tax a bit but you wouldn’t in the case of my radical capitalists who are for abolishing taxation all together. So those people sit outside the Overton window and I try to apply a neutral thing really either there is some great value in radical thinking it does push society forward but it can also drag society down and try to understand where there are good things to be learnt and where there are bad things to be learnt.
I do think generally speaking we are a little bit too narrow I mean for example Tim Farron and his policy of legalising marijuana which really in my view is not a radical idea in any way shape or form but was considered to be incredibly radical on the outside of the narrow window of what is permissible. The reason I think it’s important because when I look down the line 20, 30 years from now I see a series of trends coming together which combine obviously climate change which everybody talks about but more important than that the UNHRC predict more than 250 million people will probably move because of climate change which if you think if what happened when 1.2 million people claimed asylum in Europe in 2015 and the political turmoil that created, what 250 million people would do.
I look at what artificial intelligence is definitely going to do to society, I don’t think we are going to see the marching robots killing us or taking all of our jobs, but I can certainly see a greater level of inequality in our society between those who understand technology, monopolistic companies the size of what we have never seen before and a client class of people that serve those and it will create all kinds of difficult strains on society changing the attitudes of young people who make up increasingly more of the electorate think about democracy and very series difficult and spending problems particularly on health and welfare and social care. I look at all of those problems in 20 years’ time and I think are our current political ideas really up to the task of dealing with those problems and I just think no they are not. I don’t know necessarily what the answers are but it is clearly going to require some form of radicalism now to start opening up the possibilities of what we might do instead.
Tom Wilson: Thank you and if I could just ask a follow up on that, clearly as much as radicalism keeps our political thinking fresh and comes up with some new solutions presumably you do accept that there are also extremists who threaten our society particularly when they use violence as part of their activism. You talked about Prevent and what on earth that could do about eco extremists but what would you see as being the solutions or should we even be trying to solve this phenomenon?
Jamie Bartlett: What of eco?
Tom Wilson: No of the extremism of what you would consider the dangerous end of extremism or radicalisation.
Jamie Bartlett: There is a great difficulty in trying to draw the line what radicalism is and what is no longer permissible and for me it was the type of radicalism which prevents other forms of political expression so the radicalism which kicks away the radicalism for others if you like. Obviously that is violent jihadism that is of course one of those. I think there is a value in having liberal democracies of their being an existence of extreme ideas that we find abhorrent. That includes radical Islam because it forces you to value and understand what liberal democracy is and why it is good.
The danger is when that gets too big and starts to actually threaten liberal democracy so I think if you were to eradicate all the types of radicalism or extremism that you found particularly abhorrent in the long run it wouldn’t do that much good for the long term health of liberal democracy. It needs to have a small threat if you like to it for it to retain some life. One of the reasons I think we are so complacent about liberal democracy is because it hasn’t really been under threat in any way. So that is my general view on something like radical Islam.
My worry about something like Prevent is the way that it has this unparalleled ability to constantly just get bigger and bigger and it is the tendency of a program whose aims most people can agree with but which is incredibly difficult to measure the effectiveness of. So when you put those two things together, 2003, Prevent really was formed, I have got a chapter about Prevent starting with the channel panel which is one of the secretive bits about the Prevent program and was founded as an idea to stop the men of violence acting, to stop violent Islamists not to make them change their minds about Islam, not to de-radicalise them but stop them from using violence. Over the years it has just sort of grown and grown and grown to the point that it is now statutory duty on schools and public authorities to implement or have some kind of line for prevention work which even the founder thinks is a step too far.
It will continue to grow to such an extent that when the different types of radicalisationism begin to become bigger and bigger, it will be forced to try and shut down on those as well and goodness knows how that is going to work.
Tom Wilson: Thank you I will let the audience have a go so if we can have a show of hands and if you could say your name and also any relevant institution.
Question 1: Thank you my name is Dom Robson I write op-eds for the Indian newspaper and the Sunday Guardian. I wrote on op-ed on A.I. a few months ago because it is an extremely important subject. It is happening not because your friend Zoltan was predicting it but because it is of a huge profit motive involved in it but my question is not about that. My question is about with your interface with the radicals whether or not some of them see the futility of what they are doing, let me take for example the closing down of the mine, I am sure everyone is very pleased about that but of course all they achieved really was to get rid of a lot of jobs for the locals who will probably have to go on the dole as a result of it. I was in Gardena this time last week, I saw mountains of gold there being exported, far more coal than that perhaps of the open-cast mine would have achieved in its lifetime. So these radicals in a futile gesture destroyed a lot of jobs but did nothing for the environment.
Jamie Bartlett: It was an interesting exercise we only closed it down for a day and it cost us thousands of pounds to do it, 100 of hours of volunteer time and I am pretty sure the following day that the owners of the mine just put the miners on a double shift and they just dug the same amount up again. There was a very interesting exchange where one of the miners who was sitting there as we shut it down said why are you doing this we are just going to have to import more coal from overseas and there is going to be even more fossil fuels being burned. He said I am all for it to but until we have any other feasible way of keeping the country going I am afraid we are going to keep having to do this.
It was quite an interesting point because they didn’t really have too much of an answer for that. They have however in the last few years try to combine activism with more formal types of political pressure to create more green jobs so we were chanting as we were going ‘jobs for miners’ and we had this big briefing sessions that miners weren’t our enemies. Green movements very much see themselves as anti-capitalist and they want to help workers as well. So they were saying we want to create green jobs to but the point does still stand.
The sad truth is they are kind of stuck though, what else are they supposed to do? What other options do they have I mean they feel pretty desperate. The timing was just before the Welsh local elections where they hoped that they might stimulate some political discussion about this so beyond the actual shutting down of the mine. They hope as well that the process of doing activism educates more people to get the kind of feel of it. So must shut downs by radical environmentalists now include caps where you stay for 3 or 4 days together and you learn tactics and techniques – how to evade detection, how to change yourself to the machinery safely so they hope that it is more than that and that it will create a culture of activism.
The other side is I am afraid that a lot of people involved in all the movements really are also adrenalin junkies. I mean they do it because they also love the thrill of it. There are some environmentalists who I think sadly would be quite happy to have something to fight against so even if they were to succeed they would find something else to protest about every single week. Tommy Robinson is also the same as well he is an adrenalin junkie, so there is a bit of that too in all of these movements.
Question 2: My name is Huw Edwards I am a chartered accountant. The movements you have described some of them are quite harmless and eccentric but is there a sinister side to these movements, there are allegations that there are some very rich people in the US who are pumping out this stuff and it is all for their own material gain. The truth is if you say something long enough people will believe it. I was reading 1984 not so long ago and there people ended up believing that 2+2 made 5 because the party said so. Are you worried about the dark net and people just being manipulated? And these ideas we have been here before, when Adolf Hitler came into power, if these people find a scapegoat they will say this issue is the source of all your problems, with Hitler the Jews are the source of all your problems, once I have removed the Jews Germany will become great again.
Jamie Barlett: Well if we are talking about the radical right there is a danger I think and this is true of all populist movements and I do a chapter on Beppe Grillo leader of the five star movement in Germany who I interviewed. He is a very interesting man he is a famous comedian in Italy who now leads the largest party in Italy but it is all done online. If you fail to deliver the things that you promise and there is this never ending search for scapegoats so first the judges can be blamed then someone else, then someone else and then it is sinister shadowy people pulling strings who can be blamed and that is definitely a risk.
But the other risk and this is the risk I think we, well the problem we have been too guilty is to be far too dismissive and smearing of people who have been involved in the radical right group in this country. So whilst I accept that that is a risk, I think the way that people like Tommy Robinson have been treated in the past 5-6 years has been pretty bad by a lot of the media who haven’t reported them accurately or fairly, by many think tanks that have written about them and it has created in their minds this unbelievable sense of grievance that they are never listened to, that they are smeared out and patronised by everybody and no-one ever listens to what they think and they get more and more angry and frustrated and then you are merely contributing to the problem you are worried about. I think that is exactly what has happened.
Whilst I think you right to point out that constant scapegoating as a big problem and that is the one I am always looking out for, you do have to see that against everyone being on a path towards Nazism and then calling them Nazism fascists. Following these groups around there was a very interesting moment when I was in Copenhagen with the leaders of Pregador UK and Ann-Marie Walters or Tommy Robinson I can’t remember which one was giving a talk saying we are here to defend free speech, we are here to defend women’s rights, we are here to defend gay rights, we are here to defend democracy, we are here to defend western civilisation. And there was a group of anti-fascists chanting fascists you bunch of fascists at them. I was thinking are those fascist ideas, what is going on? These are all the opposite of fascist ideas I mean most the people who are part of these groups genuinely consider themselves to be anti-fascists they just think that Islamism is the new fascism that they are trying to defend against.
The problem is there are many reasons to criticise someone like Tommy Robinson. He is extremely unfair on a whole group of people, he does tend to be intentionally inflammatory to create maxim effect, he doesn’t take responsibility always for the things he says and does but if our response is to call him fascist and racist that is completely missing the point that these groups are trying to make. All that those is to then frustrate them and anger them and push them even further away and I think that is what we have done.
Question 3: My name is David Bircher I am an investor and I am curious how the radical environmentalists square the circle when they are faced with the point that to get an emissions free world, you have to dig up a lot more minerals and other things in the process and refine to make the batteries, the lids and everything else…
Jamie Bartlett: I wish I asked them that I never even thought of that
Question 3: ….also is anyone scenario planning or modelling the potential of this climate change induced mass migration and if they are, how come we are not hearing about it?
Jamie Barlett: I haven’t seen anyone really model that except for the UNHRC predictions and I spoke to the migration observatory about this and they said it is so difficult to predict the movements of people that we don’t go in for anything beyond 2 or 3 year predictions. Most people who work in immigration studies won’t do it because they know a lot of it depends on the political context, 1.2 million people who came over in 2015 was in response to what Angela Merkel said which no-one could have really predicted. So no-one that I have seen has modelled it and people are quite worried about putting big figures on to it but I expect that in the next few years we will and we will start hearing more about it.
To your first question, I don’t know, I didn’t ask them but I will ask them next time I see them if they ever invite me back.
Question 5: Hi firstly thanks for your talk and the book sounds really, really interesting I am not sure what my question is, I don’t know if I would like to see myself as radical you see I see the idea of the conservative party, the idea of it, to me they are the radicals. Radically violent people, politicians in this country for example are responsible for in my opinion I don’t think my view is radical but it is seen as radical. I see politicians as the worst pirates one could ever imagine people who can only get their way imposed through violence, taxation I see as armed robbery, I see these people responsible for the murder of unbelievable amounts of people, selling arms whether it is to regimes or not to regimes. You use the term radical but for me I see the most violent, radical people are people involved in the same system as which we live. That is a point.
My question is I work as lone, I am an adrenalin junkie I basically go around London and other places with a megaphone and say didn’t things like today I might go and speak about transhumanism now because we have spoken about it. I have never got involved with an organisation and I wonder if it fits in with your idea of how we have this desire of how we want to find someone to blame, a room of people to blame and say it is all their fault. At the same time I think it is important to question and you know George Soros has had his finger in a lot of pies I personally think that the chances are that he is a psychopath in this sort of real sense of the word, you know the medical sense or it is at least a possibility and he has had his finger in so many pies I think he is even involved with Demos or something I don’t know…
Jamie Barlett: He is not involved with Demos. The Open Society Foundation has funded Demos in the past. There is an awful lot of organisations that do bits of charitable work I can’t speak about him personally. I mean my dad doesn’t like him because he still holds him responsible for what happened in 1992 or whenever it was but that is it.
You have a very interesting political philosophy I think, you will enjoy the chapter on inaudible capitalism because they consider the same that like most hard line libertarians taxation is theft. They basically think that democracy is a form of cohesion and puts a lot of people in the minority not the majority and does not allow and does not guarantee individual liberty. This I think is actually going to be a much bigger movement in the years ahead because modern technology will take us in that direction and libertarian philosophy is being transmitted through the greatest libertarian device ever invented which is a smart phone. So that is just a comment for you back because I don’t think I have an answer to any of the bigger questions that you have raised. But yes please do speak about transhumanism and tell me because I will come and listen to you.
I also have a chapter on psychedelics and I can see your t-shirt says nice people take drugs. I believe that the psychedelics movement which is actually quite a political movement will be as culturally important within the next 5 years as it was in the late 1960s. It is a very, very big movement indeed and people do not realise how many people are involved in it and it is growing. It is the fastest growing type of drug use in the UK and in the USA according to the recent global drugs survey. There is a huge amount of scientific research now about the effects of psychedelics on various types on mental health problems and PTSD and anxiety and addiction and so on. It is a very, very interesting movement indeed so also keep an eye out for that.
Question 6: Is there a new Timothy Leary?
Jamie Bartlett: There is a new Timothy Leary, there are actually a few new Timothy Leary’s. The UKs Timothy Leary is Stephen Reed the guy that set up the psychedelic society in the UK and I know he reads about Timothy Leary because he doesn’t want to make the same mistakes that Timothy Leary made in the late 1960s and 70s.