The difficulty of getting funding for the writing and publishing of books
The difficulty of getting books published which express unfashionable views, along with the choking off of funding to independent intellectuals, such as us, constitutes a very effective form of censorship. There is no effective opposition to the modern ideology, which is scarcely perceived as being such in the absence of alternative positions with which it might be compared. Even minority ‘conservative’ or ‘right wing’ views, when expressed at all, usually find it necessary to defend their position in terms of collectivist assumptions. It has to be assumed that the current ideology appeals to very fundamental elements in human psychology, and there is no serious motivation to oppose it.
Sir James Goldsmith, for example, did publish a book which was in some ways critical of modern views on economics, but neither he nor anyone else in his position shows any awareness of the desirability of funding an active campaign to express contrarian views as a very slight antidote to the constant output of propaganda by the media and all major publishers. A feature of modern propaganda which makes it particularly effective is that it does not explicitly state what it is advocating, and particularly what it is opposing. Attention is drawn to certain factors in certain contexts, while various aspects of some types of situation are absolutely ignored.
Incidentally, when James Goldsmith’s book was published, reviewers commented pejoratively on the fact that it was his own wealth which had made its publication possible, also on the fact that he was not a socially accredited ‘expert’ on economics, such as the holder of an academic position. There is a prevailing assumption that a person in an academic position is thereby converted into an ‘expert’ whose opinions should be treated as oracular. What is required to make a person an ‘expert’ in this sense is the ability to do well in certain exams after a socially prescribed period of preparation, combined with considerable sensitivity to what will appear to be fashionable and acceptable associations of ideas in the eyes of other academics. The universities are actually a most pernicious source of political correctness.
One might hope that someone would have an ideal in favour of freedom of speech, and think it desirable that all possible ways of regarding intellectual issues should be aired, but in fact so abstract a consideration is not a motive, even apparently in the minds of those who express some disagreement with the overwhelming ideological trend.
Ad hominem arguments used to be recognised as unsound; a person’s ideas should be criticised analytically, not rejected by reference to the fact that he is a murderer or a foreigner, nor accepted uncritically by reference to the fact that he is a respectable person with a large family who goes to church. A modern version of the ad hominem argument has become very prevalent. The views of an expert who has received his position (as an academic, or otherwise) from society are treated as being automatically well-founded, whereas those who hold no such positions are treated as if they have no right to express views anyway.
Over two hundred years ago, Voltaire is supposed to have said: ‘I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it’. The right to express what is widely disapproved of has, in the modern world, to be defended with supplies of money rather than a willingness on anyone’s part to sacrifice his life.
One possibility which has occurred to me is the publication of a newspaper which commented on current affairs without suppressing discussion of features which are possibly relevant but otherwise suppressed. People probably don’t realise how bowlderised are the accounts of acceptable ways of looking at things which are universally presented to them, but I cannot say that if such a newspaper were made available, a large number of people would acquire a taste for it. So such an enterprise could only proceed under the auspices of a benefactor sufficiently well-provided to risk a continuing loss of money on the necessary scale.
My colleagues and I would probably be able to edit such a publication for remuneration comparable with that of editors of other leading newspapers, but perhaps if the possibility ever arose, we would have to consider negotiating a premium for danger money, the danger including that of damage to our academic careers.
Professor Eysenck, former Director of this Institute, was assaulted with eggs and tomatoes by students at London University for expressing the view that intelligence was largely inherited. However carefully one says what one means, if it is not actively reinforcing the received ideology, it is scarcely possible to prevent misrepresentation of it as something far more offensive.
Correspondence with potential financial backers can only be undertaken on the basis of preliminary donations. £1,000 will cover the costs of making replies by e-mail to up to four letters from a potential supporter or financial partner. This should not appear much of a deterrent to anyone in a position to give us significant support and with genuine goodwill towards us.