Communism is ugly, dangerous and whenever and wherever it has been tried it has made people poorer, more miserable and often more dead.
That’s why one of our most pressing missions in 2019 is to defend Western Civilisation from what I call the Care Bear Commies – all those youthful, telegenic, smiley, hard-left activists you see across the media reassuring your kids that actually communism is likeable and fun and the only reason it gets such a bad rap is that it hasn’t been tried properly yet.
Probably the world’s current most egregious example of this disturbing trend is U.S. congressional representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who seems to believe – with some justification, worryingly – that no one will notice the terrifying commie tendencies of her Green New Deal (ie her plan to impose a watermelon tyranny on the U.S.) so long as she looks cute enough in those college dance videos.
But in Britain we have several Care Bear Commies of our own, including the BBC’s house bushbaby Owen Jones (a polite, v-neck-wearing boy who looks like he is still dressed by his mum; who championed Hugo Chavez’s regime in Venezuela and now does similar PR work for Jeremy Corbyn); Laurie Penny (like me a privately educated Oxford English graduate; unlike me a hard-left feminist); Ash Sarkar (who advertises on her Twitter profile: “Fucks like a champion. Luxury communism now”); and Sarkar’s colleague at the hard-left website Novara Media, Momentum activist Aaron Bastani.
Bastani has a book out shortly called Fully Automated Luxury Communism. If the career of fellow Care Bear Commie Owen Jones is anything to go by, then the book will do very well, not so much because of its contents but because of the wall-to-wall, 24/7 promo it will be given by repeat invitations onto the BBC.
Though I haven’t yet had the pleasure of reading ‘Fully Automated Luxury Communism’ I think we can fairly safely assume from Bastani’s various public pronouncements that he will argue that communism is a highly desirable thing which just needs a bit of tweaking to make it perfect.
Like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Bastani is often invited onto the TV to spout this totalitarian drivel because he is youthful, fluent and because – an area where he differs from AO-C – he speaks with the intellectual authority of one who has been awarded a PhD. His honorific title Dr undoubtedly contributes to the impression that he speaks with a certain intelligence and expertise.
So just imagine the consequences for his credibility if his much-vaunted PhD were exposed as more or less worthless.
This is why I am so full of admiration for the stunning detective work of somebody I recently attacked in a column on some trivial issue – author Jeremy Duns.
After watching Bastani’s media performances, Duns’s curiosity was piqued: how could someone so dim yet have earned a PhD?
I’ve been aware of Bastani for some time, and often been baffled that such a high-profile journalist, commentator and soon-to-be published author could so often make pronouncements that seemed to be extremely poorly researched. My Twitter feed seemed to throw a lot of these up, such as his claim in 2013 that the UK government armed Assad’s regime with sodium chloride (ie table salt).
But I knew he had a PhD. That’s no small thing, and so I recently wondered on Twitter about the discrepancy.
Duns did some delving and the result is this magisterial demolition job.
He finds that Bastani committed a number of ethical breaches when he submitted his PhD titled Strike! Occupy! Re-Tweet! The Relationship Between Collective and Connective Action in Austerity Britain.
- Omitted key facts about the extent of his involvement in events he analysed;
- Failed to discuss or cite multiple sources relevant to his research because they identified his true role;
- Failed to discuss or cite any of his own articles that revealed his true role;
- Failed to take into account that his activities shaped and disrupted the events he was analysing;
- Failed to declare his very clear conflict of interest as a result of the above, because it would have invalidated the entire thesis.
I think these omissions and deceptions are an obvious breach of Royal Holloway’s regulations on academic misconduct, notably clause 2(f).
Duns damningly concludes:
It now seemed clear that this was someone who had conned a university into giving him a PhD for researching a protest movement and its most prominent members, while concealing that he himself was one of them. Bastani’s PhD was really a study of himself and a few mates.
After Duns began sharing his findings on Twitter, things got even worse for Bastani. Another researcher, Ira Lightman, examined Bastani’s thesis and found several examples of alleged plagiarism.
Lightman’s findings are collated in this thread.
Bastani has 50,000 followers on Twitter, many of whom share his hard-left sympathies. Naturally, they have rushed to his defence by claiming that Lightman doesn’t know what plagiarism is, and by variously dismissing Duns as a fruit loop, the useful idiot of right-wing secret agents, and a second-rate Eric Ambler. Bastani himself has hinted that he might take legal action – though it’s not immediately clear what his defence might be, given the weight of evidence provided by both Lightman and Duns.
Can it be really right, though, to gloat over the public humiliation of so marginal a figure as Aaron Bastani?
You bet it can.
First, Bastani is de facto not marginal. He is the public face of what could, in a worst case scenario, be Britain’s next government – one led by the anti-Semitic, Hamas-supporting, socialistic Labour party.
Second, it rightly invites the question of why the BBC and Sky News are prepared to give him so much airtime. Novara Media, despite its grand sounding name, is just a dog and pony outfit for otherwise unemployable communists. Without that fancy PhD, Bastani wouldn’t nearly be so credible a commentator. But if that PhD turns out to be about as bent as a nine bob note, well, why exactly is this nonentity being given such undue prominence?
Third, his story is a handy reminder of just how dubious the prestige of a doctorate is these days. It remains to be seen whether Royal Holloway will withdraw Bastani’s PhD. But my bet is it won’t. Had he had remotely right-wing tendencies then, of course, Royal Holloway would have found it impossible to ditch him quickly enough. (Not, of course, that a right-wing thesis would likely have been accepted for PhD in the first place). Because though, Bastani’s Occupy tendencies align so perfectly with that of academe, the flaws in his thesis were blithely ignored.
Fourth, communism. It’s evil. Why should anyone cheerfully advancing a cause so manifestly evil ever get a free pass?
Duns deserves many congratulations for exposing Bastani. The very least we ought to do, in recompense for his efforts and for all the flak he has taken, is buy one of his books.