Read Nick Cohen’s latest at Standpoint:
If you come across a new voice on a Radio 4 talk show, talking with loudmouthed conviction, the odds are that he or she will be from the RCP/Institute of Ideas. Indeed, if you want to become a talking head on Radio 4, the best advice I can give you is to join the RCP crowd.
As an aspiring pundit you will need to subscribe to the following notions: that the British mollycoddle their children and foolishly protect them from the rough and tumble of childhood with anti-bullying campaigns; that human rights are a joke and humanitarian intervention a crime; that we live in a therapeutic culture, under whose yoke the State tells us how to live, love and grieve; that social workers are agents of oppression; that psychiatrists aren’t much better; and that environmentalism is a reactionary attempt to stop human progress.
I find the RCP’s denunciations of humanitarianism thoughtless and its condemnations of teachers’ campaigns against the bullying of children repellent. Furedi and O’Neill do not strike me as men who could look after themselves in a fight. If a couple of guys were to ask them to step outside, I doubt if they would describe the violence they suffered as character building and condemn police attempts to prosecute their assailants as political correctness gone mad.
However, in fairness, I must accept that not everything the faction says is pernicious and that the oddest milieus can nurture good writers. Although most of its thinkers are doctrinaire and shallow, the RCP/Institute of Ideas deserves credit for producing an intellectual of stature in Kenan Malik, whose description of the rise of Islamist censorship in his book From Fatwa to Jihad(Atlantic, 2009) took some guts to write. Moreover, I understand that conservative readers will be pleased that the former RCP now offers them what they used to find in the Tory press or hear from the lips of saloon-bar philosophers at the 19th hole.