In the latest issue:

Real Men Go to Tehran

Adam Shatz

What Trump doesn’t know about Iran

Patrick Cockburn

Kaiser Karl V

Thomas Penn

The Hostile Environment

Catherine Hall

Social Mobilities

Adam Swift

Short Cuts: So much for England

Tariq Ali

What the jihadis left behind

Nelly Lahoud

Ray Strachey

Francesca Wade

C.J. Sansom

Malcolm Gaskill

At the British Museum: ‘Troy: Myth and Reality’

James Davidson

Poem: ‘The Lion Tree’

Jamie McKendrick

SurrogacyTM

Jenny Turner

Boys in Motion

Nicholas Penny

Jia Tolentino

Lauren Oyler

Diary: What really happened in Yancheng?

Long Ling

Short Cuts: Harry Goes Rogue

Jonathan Parry

Beware the ExtremistsConor Gearty
Close

Terms and Conditions

These terms and conditions of use refer to the London Review of Books and the London Review Bookshop website (www.lrb.co.uk — hereafter ‘LRB Website’). These terms and conditions apply to all users of the LRB Website ("you"), including individual subscribers to the print edition of the LRB who wish to take advantage of our free 'subscriber only' access to archived material ("individual users") and users who are authorised to access the LRB Website by subscribing institutions ("institutional users").

Each time you use the LRB Website you signify your acceptance of these terms and conditions. If you do not agree, or are not comfortable with any part of this document, your only remedy is not to use the LRB Website.


  1. By registering for access to the LRB Website and/or entering the LRB Website by whatever route of access, you agree to be bound by the terms and conditions currently prevailing.
  2. The London Review of Books ("LRB") reserves the right to change these terms and conditions at any time and you should check for any alterations regularly. Continued usage of the LRB Website subsequent to a change in the terms and conditions constitutes acceptance of the current terms and conditions.
  3. The terms and conditions of any subscription agreements which educational and other institutions have entered into with the LRB apply in addition to these terms and conditions.
  4. You undertake to indemnify the LRB fully for all losses damages and costs incurred as a result of your breaching these terms and conditions.
  5. The information you supply on registration to the LRB Website shall be accurate and complete. You will notify the LRB promptly of any changes of relevant details by emailing the registrar. You will not assist a non-registered person to gain access to the LRB Website by supplying them with your password. In the event that the LRB considers that you have breached the requirements governing registration, that you are in breach of these terms and conditions or that your or your institution's subscription to the LRB lapses, your registration to the LRB Website will be terminated.
  6. Each individual subscriber to the LRB (whether a person or organisation) is entitled to the registration of one person to use the 'subscriber only' content on the web site. This user is an 'individual user'.
  7. The London Review of Books operates a ‘no questions asked’ cancellation policy in accordance with UK legislation. Please contact us to cancel your subscription and receive a full refund for the cost of all unposted issues.
  8. Use of the 'subscriber only' content on the LRB Website is strictly for the personal use of each individual user who may read the content on the screen, download, store or print single copies for their own personal private non-commercial use only, and is not to be made available to or used by any other person for any purpose.
  9. Each institution which subscribes to the LRB is entitled to grant access to persons to register on and use the 'subscriber only' content on the web site under the terms and conditions of its subscription agreement with the LRB. These users are 'institutional users'.
  10. Each institutional user of the LRB may access and search the LRB database and view its entire contents, and may also reproduce insubstantial extracts from individual articles or other works in the database to which their institution's subscription provides access, including in academic assignments and theses, online and/or in print. All quotations must be credited to the author and the LRB. Institutional users are not permitted to reproduce any entire article or other work, or to make any commercial use of any LRB material (including sale, licensing or publication) without the LRB's prior written permission. Institutions may notify institutional users of any additional or different conditions of use which they have agreed with the LRB.
  11. Users may use any one computer to access the LRB web site 'subscriber only' content at any time, so long as that connection does not allow any other computer, networked or otherwise connected, to access 'subscriber only' content.
  12. The LRB Website and its contents are protected by copyright and other intellectual property rights. You acknowledge that all intellectual property rights including copyright in the LRB Website and its contents belong to or have been licensed to the LRB or are otherwise used by the LRB as permitted by applicable law.
  13. All intellectual property rights in articles, reviews and essays originally published in the print edition of the LRB and subsequently included on the LRB Website belong to or have been licensed to the LRB. This material is made available to you for use as set out in paragraph 8 (if you are an individual user) or paragraph 10 (if you are an institutional user) only. Save for such permitted use, you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, post, reproduce, translate or adapt such material in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the LRB. To obtain such permission and the terms and conditions applying, contact the Rights and Permissions department.
  14. All intellectual property rights in images on the LRB Website are owned by the LRB except where another copyright holder is specifically attributed or credited. Save for such material taken for permitted use set out above, you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, post, reproduce, translate or adapt LRB’s images in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the LRB. To obtain such permission and the terms and conditions applying, contact the Rights and Permissions department. Where another copyright holder is specifically attributed or credited you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, reproduce or translate such images in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the copyright holder. The LRB will not undertake to supply contact details of any attributed or credited copyright holder.
  15. The LRB Website is provided on an 'as is' basis and the LRB gives no warranty that the LRB Website will be accessible by any particular browser, operating system or device.
  16. The LRB makes no express or implied representation and gives no warranty of any kind in relation to any content available on the LRB Website including as to the accuracy or reliability of any information either in its articles, essays and reviews or in the letters printed in its letter page or material supplied by third parties. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability of any kind (including liability for any losses, damages or costs) arising from the publication of any materials on the LRB Website or incurred as a consequence of using or relying on such materials.
  17. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability of any kind (including liability for any losses, damages or costs) for any legal or other consequences (including infringement of third party rights) of any links made to the LRB Website.
  18. The LRB is not responsible for the content of any material you encounter after leaving the LRB Website site via a link in it or otherwise. The LRB gives no warranty as to the accuracy or reliability of any such material and to the fullest extent permitted by law excludes all liability that may arise in respect of or as a consequence of using or relying on such material.
  19. This site may be used only for lawful purposes and in a manner which does not infringe the rights of, or restrict the use and enjoyment of the site by, any third party. In the event of a chat room, message board, forum and/or news group being set up on the LRB Website, the LRB will not undertake to monitor any material supplied and will give no warranty as to its accuracy, reliability, originality or decency. By posting any material you agree that you are solely responsible for ensuring that it is accurate and not obscene, defamatory, plagiarised or in breach of copyright, confidentiality or any other right of any person, and you undertake to indemnify the LRB against all claims, losses, damages and costs incurred in consequence of your posting of such material. The LRB will reserve the right to remove any such material posted at any time and without notice or explanation. The LRB will reserve the right to disclose the provenance of such material, republish it in any form it deems fit or edit or censor it. The LRB will reserve the right to terminate the registration of any person it considers to abuse access to any chat room, message board, forum or news group provided by the LRB.
  20. Any e-mail services supplied via the LRB Website are subject to these terms and conditions.
  21. You will not knowingly transmit any virus, malware, trojan or other harmful matter to the LRB Website. The LRB gives no warranty that the LRB Website is free from contaminating matter, viruses or other malicious software and to the fullest extent permitted by law disclaims all liability of any kind including liability for any damages, losses or costs resulting from damage to your computer or other property arising from access to the LRB Website, use of it or downloading material from it.
  22. The LRB does not warrant that the use of the LRB Website will be uninterrupted, and disclaims all liability to the fullest extent permitted by law for any damages, losses or costs incurred as a result of access to the LRB Website being interrupted, modified or discontinued.
  23. The LRB Website contains advertisements and promotional links to websites and other resources operated by third parties. While we would never knowingly link to a site which we believed to be trading in bad faith, the LRB makes no express or implied representations or warranties of any kind in respect of any third party websites or resources or their contents, and we take no responsibility for the content, privacy practices, goods or services offered by these websites and resources. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability for any damages or losses arising from access to such websites and resources. Any transaction effected with such a third party contacted via the LRB Website are subject to the terms and conditions imposed by the third party involved and the LRB accepts no responsibility or liability resulting from such transactions.
  24. The LRB disclaims liability to the fullest extent permitted by law for any damages, losses or costs incurred for unauthorised access or alterations of transmissions or data by third parties as consequence of visit to the LRB Website.
  25. While 'subscriber only' content on the LRB Website is currently provided free to subscribers to the print edition of the LRB, the LRB reserves the right to impose a charge for access to some or all areas of the LRB Website without notice.
  26. These terms and conditions are governed by and will be interpreted in accordance with English law and any disputes relating to these terms and conditions will be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales.
  27. The various provisions of these terms and conditions are severable and if any provision is held to be invalid or unenforceable by any court of competent jurisdiction then such invalidity or unenforceability shall not affect the remaining provisions.
  28. If these terms and conditions are not accepted in full, use of the LRB Website must be terminated immediately.
Close

In October​ 1988 the Conservative student association at Liverpool University invited a diplomat from the South African embassy to speak at one of its events. In those Cold War days Nelson Mandela was still a terrorist and defenders of apartheid were heroes to some on the hard right. But protests seemed likely and the university authorities felt compelled to withdraw permission for the meeting. When a few weeks later a meeting with the diplomat was once again set up and shortly afterwards cancelled the Tory students went to court, citing the right to freedom of speech on campus. In the High Court they got the declaration they wanted: there was a duty on the university, the court said, ‘to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that those whom it may control, that is to say its members, students and employees, do not prevent the exercise of freedom of speech within the law by other members, students and employees and by visiting speakers’. This wasn’t so much a moral duty as a legal obligation that had been imposed on universities by section 43(1) of the Education (No 2) Act 1986, a measure introduced because Mrs Thatcher had been worried about the regularity with which her timid education secretary, Sir Keith Joseph, was being pelted with eggs on his visits to universities.

Section 43(1) is still good law, but if the present government has its way the university authorities will somehow or other have to reconcile it with the duty ‘to have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism’, which will apply when the current Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill becomes law. This statutory development is the latest in a long line of efforts by successive administrations to tackle the issue of violent extremism, starting under Labour with a short policy document, Contest (short for ‘counter-terrorism strategy’), in 2006. The Cameron government’s version of the policy has expanded to include not just ‘violent extremism’ but ‘extremism’ as such. Having an inclination to or propensity for violence is no longer required. Being an ‘extremist’ is enough to warrant the close attention of the authorities, since (as the government’s consultation paper on implementing the statutory duty puts it) such people ‘can create an atmosphere conducive to terrorism and can popularise views which terrorists exploit’.

So what, then, is an extremist? The term isn’t defined in the statute, but the government tells us in its Prevent strategy (the four elements of Contest are Prevent, Pursue, Prepare and Protect) that extremism means ‘vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs’. It goes on: ‘We also include in our definition of extremism calls for the death of members of our armed forces.’ There are two interesting things about this statement. One is the resilience of Britain’s imperial delusions: universal values are really British values. Second, free speech is so important that we need to stop any speech that challenges this assumption. McCarthyism worked on the same premise.

A truer British value would be hypocrisy. Thatcher was protecting Keith Joseph’s free speech while simultaneously making CND, Irish Republican and trade union protest next to impossible, through a mixture of specific laws, repressive courts and police action. In the early 1930s the police carefully guarded Oswald Mosley while breaking up the marches and meetings of the organised left. In the 1920s, the home secretary Sir William Joynson-Hicks justified the prosecution for sedition of Communist Party members by explaining that they had not been engaged in ‘the right type of freedom of speech’ – by which, he told the House of Commons, he meant ‘the right to a full propagation of your opinion, provided you do not try to damage the constitution’. This kind of unconscious bias was probably the reason A.V. Dicey could celebrate the civil libertarian spirit of the common law in 19th-century Britain while glossing over its capacity to crush Irish nationalist dissidence.

With this new statutory duty on public authorities in place, and against the background of the Paris killings, this kind of assertion of ‘our’ values against outsiders – i.e. Britain’s Muslims – is likely to become increasingly difficult to resist. We are told in the consultation on the Counter-Terrorism Bill that ‘the most significant of these threats is currently from al-Qaida-associated groups and from other terrorist organisations in Syria and Iraq’ as well as parts of Africa. ‘Islamist extremists’ create ‘a narrative of “them” and “us”’ which includes ‘the uncompromising belief that people cannot be both Muslim and British, and that Muslims living here should not participate in our democracy’. If there had been any doubt about the true targets of the policy, the recent letter sent by Eric Pickles, the secretary of state for communities and local government, to British Muslim leaders telling them that they had ‘an important responsibility in explaining and demonstrating how faith in Islam can be part of British identity’ surely put them to rest.

The act envisages that all relevant public authorities will be required to ‘demonstrate an awareness and understanding of the risk of radicalisation in their area, institution or body’. Systems will need to be put in place, information shared, training agreed. The Home Office will monitor and oversee. There will be inspections. Universities and colleges of higher education get the most attention: more than a quarter of the consultation paper is devoted to them. As the government sees it, free speech has become ‘a platform for drawing people into terrorism’. The answer is for the universities ‘to exclude those promoting extremist views that support or are conducive to terrorism’. Detailed orders are handed down with regard to the organising of events. The coalition that began life as the destroyer of quangos has become a deeply bureaucratic Big Brother.

In the Terrorism Act 2000 terrorism is defined in a way that goes beyond actual violence to embrace what can be construed as direct action in pursuit of a political cause. But this latest law doesn’t even require a threat of terrorism: an attack on ‘British values’ will in itself be interpreted as extremism. Of course this doesn’t mean that all sociology lectures will have to be reported to the authorities. Traditional critics will be fine: free speech will work for us. It is Muslims the document is after, and in particular those who seek to understand the impact of the colonial and post-colonial powers on Muslim people around the world. Is it ‘extreme’ to point to the hypocrisy of a country that engages in illegal wars against defenceless people around the world while insisting on the importance of ‘democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance’? Or to follow the logic of the postwar anti-colonial movement and say that the killing of occupying forces is sometimes necessary. I will be able to go on saying things like this. But if what were proposed was an account of Isis by a visiting imam, or an event attacking Israel’s occupation of Palestine, there would be nervous shifting of feet, visits from Special Branch, strong representations from foreign governments. The event would probably never take place: the new committee of the university would turn such a speaker down as not worth the flak such a visit would inevitably entail. This is a new Cold War.

The universities have been making a fuss, but the government has other, less well-defended targets: local authorities, schools, doctors, hospitals, the prison and probation services are all included, even after-school clubs. In the government’s view, the smallest Muslim child needs to be watched for signs of extremism. There was always a risk that identity politics would be turned into a cultural war, the majority versus the rest. We don’t hurl racist abuse anymore, not in public. We say ‘extremist’.

Send Letters To:

The Editor
London Review of Books,
28 Little Russell Street
London, WC1A 2HN

letters@lrb.co.uk

Please include name, address, and a telephone number.

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.