Video on Black Iranians, their Origins and Subculture

October 3, 2022

I found this video, ‘Iran’s Forgotten People: Afro Iranians’ on Beyond Your Borders’ channel on YouTube. Although short, it provides an informative outline of the history and culture of Iran’s Black minority. Iran is a patchwork of different peoples, and Farsi speakers only make up 60 per cent of the population. Afro-Iranians are one of these minorities. These are mostly concentrated in three of the country’s southern provinces, where they constituted 10-12 per cent of the population. They were mostly slaves taken from the Zanj, the east coast of Africa and shipped across to Iran as part of the Indian Ocean slave trade that went to Arabia, Iran, India and beyond to southeast Asia. The video notes that not all of them were slaves – some immigrated as free people in search of work. They’re mostly employed as fishermen and agricultural workers, which explains why they’re mostly concentrated on the south coast. Many of them were also servants and soldiers. Male slaves were often castrated for use as eunuchs, but many weren’t and had children. The women were often bought as concubines. Today Iran’s historic slaves are referred to as servants as it is felt they were not treated with the harshness accompanying slavery. Many Black Iranians have surnames reflecting their former homelands. Those, who came originally from Zanzibar, for example, have the surname ‘Zanzibari’. Not all Iranians slaves were Black. Some were White, such as the Circassians. However, the supply of Whites slaves dried up following conflict during Iran and Russia, so that country under the Qajar shahs turned to Africa for its slaves. There are three castes, which do not intermarry. The highest are supposed to be the descendants of free Black Africans, while the lowest are supposedly the descendants of slaves. Afro-Iranians vary in their assimilation to mainstream Iranian culture. Some are very acculturated, speaking fluent Farsi and the local language, while others are less. They have also been very influential in popular Zendari music of the Iranian south. Many intermarry with White Iranians and consider themselves Iranians. They would regard calling them ‘Afro-Iranians’ as a challenge to their Iranian identity. The speaker suggests that while it is important than they shouldn’t be forgotten, they shouldn’t be separated either from the rest of Iran.

Video on Black Turks and the Legacy of the Ottoman Slave Trade

October 3, 2022

This video comes from the German broadcaster DW’s channel on YouTube. It’s a very short film about Turkey’s Black minority following the efforts of one family to promote their heritage, fight racism and make contact with Black Africans. In this case, they have to rely on the Africans coming to them, as they’re too poor to go to Africa. This says something about the relative prosperity of the two communities. I’m putting it up because I comment on racial issues in the west, but there are also similar controversies and debates going on in the Middle East. We’re not aware of them, but we should, if only because it shows that all the cultures that enslaved Black Africans are faced with similar issues.

Open Britain Petition for Truss to Face Election Now

October 3, 2022

I just got this email from the pro-democracy organisation, Open Britain, calling for Cheeselab to face a general election now to decide whether she should be Prime Minister.

‘Dear David,

Our petition says, “No new PM without a general election.” It draws a BIG RED LINE and promises REAL WORLD ACTION if the Conservative Party crosses it (and there’s a very real chance they will).

Some opponents on social media have pointed out that a number of past Prime Ministers have resigned from office and been replaced without a general election being called. That, of course, is true.

But the point now is that the Conservative Party has already played that card. An unprecedented accumulation of lies, incompetence and corruption eventually forced Conservative MPs to remove Boris Johnson from office and – after an inexplicably long leadership contest – they replaced him with Liz Truss.

They have had their chance to clear up the mess.

If any Prime Minister loses the confidence of Parliament and is forced to stand down, surely the very least their party must do is find a replacement that can command the support of a majority of MPs until the next election?

If that confidence evaporates in a matter of weeks then we are entitled to ask serious questions about the ability of those same people to form a competent government.

Allowing the Conservative Party to foist another Prime Minister on this country without a general election would be an affront to democracy, one that none of us should allow.

I hope – if you have not already done so – that you will sign the petition to make clear that you will not allow this democratic red line to be crossed.

SIGN THE PETITION

Thank you for your support.

Very best wishes,

Mark Kieran
CEO, Open Britain
@MarkKieranUK


SUPPORT THE MOVEMENT

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makes this movement possible. Thank you!

Brief Left Labour Summary of Labour Conference and Notice of Zoom Meeting about It on Thursday

October 3, 2022

I got this email today assessing the good and bad points of the Labour conference. This Thursday, 6th October 2022, there’s also going to be an online meeting about it from the good people at Arise: the Festival of Left-Wing Ideas.

Next Steps – A message from Rachel Garnham

SPREAD THE WORD: Retweet me here // register here

Hello David

This week’s Tory conference takes place to a backdrop of growing resistance. Saturday saw strikes from the RMT, ASLEF, TSSA, CWU and Unite; Don’t pay and Just Stop Oil direct action; and dozens of Enough is Enough events.

There was strong support for action from significant numbers of delegates at Labour’s Conference – and popular policies supported on a raft of issues,from rail public ownership, to a £15 an hour minimum wage, to real action on equal pay – but the importance of backing this resistance was not sufficiently central to the Conference or promoted by platform speakers, who appeared woefully out of touch with this growing resistance. Meanwhile, attacks on Party democracy continue, although not without big opposition, with many CLP and union delegates joining me in fighting for Jeremy Corbyn to be allowed to stand as a Labour candidate in the next election.

There is then much to review, and a need to plot out our next steps as the left. Join me, NEC member Gemma Bolton and Richard Burgon MP online Thursday (details below) for the discussion, and be part of the fightback.

Yours in solidarity,
Rachel Garnham, former NEC member on behalf of Arise & the Labour Assembly.

PS: Please spread the word by retweeting my message here.

Coming up:

1) ONLINE EVENT: Labour conference reportback & next steps discussion

Online Thursday, October 6, 7pm. Register here // Share & Invite friends here // Retweet here to spread the word.

With: Richard Burgon MP, Rachel Garnham, CLPD vice-chair & chair Gemma Bolton (NEC.) Join us online to assess Labour’s conference & discuss together next steps for Labour and the left.

Hosted by Arise – A Festival of Left Ideas.

I am honestly not surprised to read that the platform speakers are out of step with grassroots resistance against the Tories. They’re Blairites, who have an absolute contempt for the party base and who believe in very authoritarian, top-down management.

Queasy Kwarteng – Not a Diversity Hire, But a Member of the Tory Hard Right

October 2, 2022

I’ve got a few interesting remarks from some of the great commenters on this blog about a piece a put up about a video by Simon Webb of History Debunked about Kwarteng. Webb wondered if the man now doing his best to trash our economy was a diversity hire, whose sole qualification for the job was his skin colour. Mark Pattie and Jim Round have pointed out that he isn’t. He was appointed because he was another Old Etonian willing to implement the programme of the Tory hard right.

Mark wrote

‘Kamikaze Kwarteng was *not* a diversity hire. He may be of Ghanaian descent, but he was Eton educated (hence probably why he got the Chancellor job). Suella Charlatan got the Home Sec job because she was more right-wing than Patel, and James Cleverley got his role because of his many years in the Army. Unlike the rest, he seems to be one of the very few (ten or so) genuinely decent Tories I’ve any respect for. It’s a damn shame he didn’t run for the leadership.’

And Jim commented

‘As with quite a lot of Simon Webb’s videos, it is what isn’t said rather than what is.
It isn’t mentioned that groups like The Taxpayers Alliance and The Institute of Economic Affairs had a major influence on this “budget” (Tim over at Zelo Street has covered this)
Also remember that The New Culture Forum, who Webb has been a guest of are based there.
They think that this is a “Conservative” budget but it is unknown whether they thought that the markets would react so badly.
Also not mentioned is the fact that Kwarteng is highly likely to be a millionaire, as well as attending Eton.
But no, let’s feed the narrative that he is only there because of the colour of his skin.’

The Taxpayers’ Alliance tends to turn up on BBC News programmes to give their views on economic policies. They are always presented as if they are a politically independent organisation, but their leaders are all members of the Tories. The Institute of Economic Affairs have been demanding hard-right economic policies since before Thatcher. I don’t think Kwarteng’s a genius by any stretch of the imagination, but this shows that the people at the Arise Zoom meeting on the Tory minibudget were absolutely right: he’s a Thatcherite true-believer, working for arch-Thatcherite think tanks, and so shares the same grotty mediocre views as his leader, Liz Truss. I should say that I haven’t watched Webb’s wretched video, but it wouldn’t surprise me if a section of the Tories is now trying to make him a scapegoat for Truss’ abject economic failure.

Jacob Rees-Mogg Booed by the Crowd Outside the Tory Conference

October 2, 2022

This video comes from the Evening Standard and shows Mogg getting jeered and booed by the crowd in England’s great and proud second city as he’s escorted to the Tory conference by the boys in blue. I realise that it’s terribly rude of the crowd and no doubt some right-wingers will seize on this to claim that it shows that leftists are purely animated by hate and envy, unlike nice, serene, altruistic right-wingers, but I enjoyed watching this. Mogg is just a few miles away in BANES (Bath And North East Somerset) so it’s good to see him getting what he deserves for the poverty and misery his party and government has and is inflicting on ordinary people up and down the country.

Richard Chester Explains How He Came to Prefer Starmer against the Tories

October 2, 2022

Richard Chester posted this piece, ‘Kier Starmer and Labour are not perfect but the UK needs them in power before the country goes insane’ on his blog. It explains how he came to support Labour and specifically Starmer after voting Tory against Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband. He begins by describing how he was touched by Starmer’s description of his grief at losing his mother to Piers Morgan. He didn’t believe that Corbyn was an anti-Semite but was concerned that he wasn’t doing enough to root out anti-Semitism in his party and didn’t like his defence policy. But he was turned off the Tories by Tweezer, then Boris and now Liz Truss. Here are his views on Labour versus Kwarteng’s tax cuts:

‘And now with Truss as PM, if the last two weeks have shown anything, it’s that we find ourselves in a position akin to the months leading up to the 2010 election. We have a political party in charge whose welcome has been outstayed, whose status and delivery has become tired and whose policy fails to read the room, coincidentally led by someone who didn’t get elected via a general election.

The YouGov poll last week that projected a 33-point lead for Labour, which the Electoral Calculus suggested would result in the Tories being left with just three seats, may have made for good reading but seemed like a pipe dream given the unlikelihood of such a scenario. But what it does show is that there is a healthy appetite for change given the public mood towards the Tories and a Labour government under Starmer has perhaps already been accepted, even if some still have a sense of trepidation.

A tax cut of 20p to 19p may be sound and the scrapping of the rise in National Insurance mark positives of Kwarteng’s mini-budget but the cut in 45p tax for the biggest earners doesn’t do favours in dispelling the belief amongst some that the Tories have a softer spot for the rich.

Now we should not put down those who are very rich who do pay the right amount in tax here and provide well-pad jobs and have earned their keep, but a cut from 45p to 40p does feel like an act of lunacy, given it feels a fair way of meeting in the middle to avoid even a slightly too-high 50p tax.

Seeing millionaires and billionaires get a reduction in tax each month, some of whom likely are happy to pay 45p tax, that dwarfs whatever is saved by middle-income earners shows that Truss’s use of unpopular plays as an understatement. That Labour have already said, highlighted by Shadow Education Secretary Bridget Phillipson on Question Time this week, they will reinstate the tax back to 45p to fund free school meals for primary school children screams volumes for one instance why Labour should be elected at the next election, regardless of whether we should have low taxes all round.

There’s probably not been a time in this country’s history where the desire for a new party in power has been as strong and broad, perhaps more than 1997 in advance of New Labour.

Looking at the current frontbench of the Labour party, it does feel like the strongest and most convincing set of ministers for many years, even if there is some concern about the direction some ministers may take.

An Yvette Cooper Home Office is likely to be more sympathetic to migrants crossing the Channel and open to more asylum seekers, ignorant of those who, for whatever reason, would have concern about such arrivals in their communities, adding more pressure on services. And there is of course how Labour will go.’

To read it all, go to: https://opinionoftheday650548878.wordpress.com/2022/10/02/keir-starmer-and-labour-are-not-perfect-but-the-uk-needs-them-in-power-before-the-country-goes-insane/

Lobster’s Robin Ramsey Explains Why Thatcherism Didn’t Work as Claimed and Why Truss Will Fail

October 2, 2022

In my last piece I said that Lobster’s editor, Robin Ramsey, has a background in economics and that he said in one of his pieces for the magazine that the Tories recognised long ago that trickled down economics didn’t work. They still wanted to cut spending and punish the poor for being poor while giving lots of more money to the rich. They just had to find a better pretext for it. So they started arguing for their wretched policies on grounds of morality. Now Truss has gone back to the old trickle down argument. In the recent issue of Lobster, 84, Ramsey has a piece in his ‘View from the Bridge’ column, ‘All Trussed Up’ explaining why Thatcher’s economics policies didn’t work in the way she thought they did, and even despite her best efforts, and why this means Truss’ policies will fail. He writes

‘On the day that Prime Minister Truss made her announcement about dealing with the energy crisis here, The Times (8 September) briefly mentioned (on p. 39) that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was off to the City to discuss ‘Big Bang 2’ – further deregulation of the financial services sector. Centrally, I would guess, will be a change to the rules introduced after the financial crisis of 2007-9 which increased the amount of capital the banks had to keep in reserve. In other words, financial gambling is going to be encouraged again. The central question with this new government is this: do they really believe that this warmed-over Thatcherism will work? My guess is that they do; that they have spent too long in a free marketeer intellectual ghetto to understand even the Thatcher years. They have failed to grasp that Thatcherism didn’t work on its own terms: it did not ‘cure’ inflation and did not produce more economic growth than its predecessors. Mrs Thatcher’s ‘reforms’ were possible because her government had North Sea oil revenues to pay for mass unemployment; could sell off chunks of the public sector; and, despite her best efforts to kill it, had a manufacturing base three times as big as it is now. The new government has little oil revenue; a much diminished manufacturing base; and not much of the public sector left to be sold. It will be interesting to see how long it takes them to grasp that the horse they are enthusiastically flogging is dead.’

For further information, go to https://www.lobster-magazine.co.uk/article/issue/84/the-view-from-the-bridge-47/

Rachel Reeves Tears into Tory Economic Policy

October 2, 2022

I had this mass email from Reeves ripping apart Queasy Kwarteng’s wretched minibudget. As much as I despise her as a true-blue Blairite, who vowed Labour would be harder on the unemployed than the Tories, she is right. Especially about trickle-down economics. Robin Ramsey, the head honcho of conspiracy site Lobster, has a background in economics. He pointed out that the Thatcherites had cottoned on to the fact that trickle-down economics was rubbish, and so were trying to justify their vile economics policies with arguments about morality. Trickle-down economics was recognised as bunk long ago, so it shows how threadbare Cheeselab Truss’ policies and ideas really are. And as terrible as I find Starmer, I’d far rather have him in No. 10 than Truss or another Tory.

‘David James, last week, the Tory government laid out their budget. 

And with it, they crashed the economy by handing enormous, unfunded tax cuts to those who earn millions and the very richest companies. 

Because of this, working people will be paying higher prices and higher mortgage rates for years to come.   

This isn’t some global issue – it happened as soon as the government stood up last Friday. They’ve damaged the UK’s reputation for good. 

Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng have no one to blame but themselves. This was a crisis created entirely in Downing Street, a direct result of this government’s reckless decisions.

Labour is urging the Prime Minister to bring Parliament back as soon as possible and reverse their disastrous budget.

I have been clear: there should be no return to the failed idea of trickle-down economics – the theory where you make the rich even richer and hope that somehow, some of it trickles down to the rest of us.

Labour knows that growth comes from the talents and efforts of millions of people and thousands of businesses across our country. 

As a government we will make different choices. Just this week, Labour set out our plans to deliver economic growth with our Green Prosperity Plan to guarantee a fairer, greener future for all.

After 12 years of the Tories lurching from one crisis to another, Britain deserves better. 

Labour is ready to deliver it. 

Thank you,

Rachel Reeves,
Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer’

DuneInfo Shows Cover of Imaginary Album of Music by Dune Character

October 2, 2022

This is a bit of trip into the world of postmodernism. Duneinfo is a YouTube site about Science Fiction book Dune and its film, graphic novel and other adaptations. A few days ago, they put up this piccie on their community page of a non-existent album of music by Gurney Halleck. Halleck is a character in Dune, a warrior troubadour, whose instrument is the ballaset, a type of futuristic lute. In David Lynch’s 1985 film, he was played Patrick Stewart and the ballaset used in the film was based on the stick, a new musical instrument developed from the electric guitar. The fake record sleeve, showing Stewart as Halleck was created by the artist John Bergin. It looks like a real vinyl record sleeve of the type that was knocking around back then in the days when K-Tel were advertising their records on TV.

It also reminds me more than a little of some the literary games played by Polish SF master Stanislaw Lem. Lem was very much an eastern European intellectual. He wrote some excellent science fiction but also sneered at the genre. He was very much into experimental literature, particularly that of the South American magic realist writer Borges, as well as the SF writer Philip K. Dick. Lem produced a several books consisting of reviews and blurbs for books that didn’t exist. One of these books was called A Perfect Vacuum, which I think is a literary jest, a way of saying that it doesn’t exist, because the books it reviews don’t. This fake record cover looks like the musical and pictorial equivalent.

DuneInfo captioned this: ‘Another great imagined (but sadly fake) #Dune item from John Bergin – “The Ballads of Gurney Halleck” – almost all copies of which were destroyed due to the mistaken credit of “The Sting”! 🤣 ‘ Which is a joke about Sting appearing in the movie as one of the villains, Feyd Rautha.

To see the original, go to: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmkVsAdYNiyQG9ZJR6P9FjA/community?lb=UgkxEOVBKmx9zCluGQGj8DF4-t-oUq2h-CYy