Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

Heartfield’s Cover Art for Michael Gold’s ‘Jews Without Money’

January 10, 2023

I put up a piece a few days ago about the great German radical artist John Heartfield, who used photographs to create stunning pictures. Heartfield’s best known for his political works celebrating Communism and savagely denouncing war and the Prussian aristocracy that promoted it, and especially Hitler and the Nazis. But he also worked for publishers producing book covers. This is his cover for Michael Gold’s Jews Without Money, about poor Jews living on the Lower East Side of New York. The decades from the late 19th century saw mass Jewish migration from eastern Europe to the west and America. Many of them were dirt poor, and poorly educated, living in low-quality, massively overcrowded tenements. It’s from this milieu that many of the great founders of the American comics industry, like the mighty Jack Kirby. Kirby came from the kind of neighbourhood where men wanted to be mechanics rather than artists, and ran with the street gangs before breaking with them to enter comics. This is the background to Will Eisner’s acclaimed graphic novel, A Contract with God and Other Tenement Tales. I’m putting this up here also to make the point that Jewishness isn’t synonymous with wealth and power, whatever the Blairites in the Labour party may think. You may remember that a few years ago one right-wing female Labour MP claimed that socialism was anti-Semitic because it attacked capitalism. Hitler wouldn’t have agreed that ‘Marxist’ socialism was anti-Semitic, because he believed it was created and dominated by Jews. But he would certainly have wholeheartedly agreed with the sentiment that capitalism is Jewish. Other people realised the anti-Semitic nature of what she’d said, even though she obviously didn’t mean it as such, and called her out for it. In the meantime this is a striking piece of art illustrating a piece of American social history.

Sketches of Three Victims of the Labour Purges – Jackie Walker, Tony Greenstein and Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi

January 9, 2023

I was saddened and disgusted to hear that the Labour party had purged Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi just before Christmas. But not, alas, surprised. Naomi was the communications officer for Jewish Voice for Labour and a deeply committed defender of the Palestinians against the real oppression of the Israeli state. Jewish Voice for Labour strongly supported both them and the party’s former leader, Jeremy Corbyn. And unlike its right-wing rivals, the misnamed Jewish Labour Movement, its members had to be both Jewish and members of the Labour party, although gentiles could become associate members. This made it and her absolutely intolerable to the witch hunters, who particularly hate and loathe socialist Jews who criticise Israel. Such people contradict the carefully crafted image that Zionism is intrinsic to Jewish identity and that the state of Israel is unanimously supported by all Jews, everywhere, who are automatically citizens whether they’ve ever been there or ever wanted to go. And so she, like so many other great people, both Jews and gentiles, was smeared as an anti-Semite and purged. She knew about it just before her 70th birthday. I think she may also have been purged round about the time of Hanukkah, a Jewish festival that takes place just before Christmas. This all seems particularly cruel and shows, to me, just how vindictive the Blairites conducting the witch hunt are. She now joins the hundreds of people who have been unjustly smeared and purged on such trumped up charges.

A year or so ago I did some sketches of her, and two other victims of the purges, Jackie Walker and Tony Greenstein, who were expelled from the party for the same reasons: they were Jewish critics of Israel. Here are the sketches. They’re not brilliant, but I hope you like them.

Jackie Walker and Tony Greenstein

Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi

John Heartfield’s Satirical Piccie of Weimar President Von Papen – Parallels with a Certain D. Trump, Perhaps

January 7, 2023

John Heartfield was a radical German artist of the Weimar period, who settled in Britain after the War. He didn’t draw or paint, but used photographs. During his career he worked for a number of publishers producing book covers, as well as political posters reflecting his Communist, anti-racist and vehemently anti-Nazi political beliefs. It was Heartfield who produced the famous picture of Hitler standing there, his hand flung back in the lazy Nazi salute he used to do, palm flat, being handed money from a much bigger banker standing behind him. The caption for this pic read, ‘Small Man requests big donations’. I’ve also seen a version with the caption, ‘Millions stand behind me’.

But I was struck by this image of the right-wing German president Von Papen standing with his trousers rolled up and a gigantic ladle, like King Cnut, trying vainly stop the flood that’s about to overwhelm him. The caption reads, ‘Papen, what are you doing?’ ‘I’m draining the Bolshevik swamp’.

Draining the swamp? Now where have we heard that before? Oh yes, it was Donald Trump, who in fact made it much worse and far more fetid. They’re now trying to present him as somehow non-racist. He may personally have been, but some of his friends were firmly members of the Alt- and far right.

My Email to the Local Labour Party about the False View that only White Europeans Were Responsible for Slavery

January 4, 2023

I had an email from my local branch of the Labour party in Bristol this morning informing that they will be out this weekend canvassing people about the issues that matter to them. I wish them the very best of luck. Twelve years of Tory misrule have just about wrecked this great country and are forcing millions of ordinary, hardworking Brits into poverty. Not to mention the continued exploitation and impoverishment of the disabled and unemployment through benefit sanctions, work capability tests and all the rest of the welfare reforms that they have pushed through to enable them to stop paying benefits to people, who genuinely need it, all on the flimsiest of pretexts.

But one issue in Bristol that particularly concerns me is the way the slave trade is represented in exhibitions, the media and in education. Bristol was one of the major cities in the UK slave trade, along with London, Liverpool and I think Glasgow in Scotland. Although the slave trade was banned in 1807 and slavery itself abolished in 1837, it still casts a very long shadow over the city, just as it does the country generally. This was shown three years in the BLM riot that brought down the statue of Edward Colston and in a motion passed by the city council calling for reparations to be paid to the Black population. What concerns me about this is that it seems to me that a distorted image of slavery has arisen, in which White Europeans and Americans are seen as uniquely responsible and culpable for it. I am worried about the apparent lack of awareness that it existed right across the world and long before Europeans started enslaving Black Africans for labour in the plantations of the New World. It also appears that the BBC is determined to push this distorted image, as detailed by the group History Reclaimed and their document identifying the bias in twenty BBC programmes, several of which were about slavery. These included the edition of The Misadventures of Romesh Ranganathan when he went to Sierra Leone and Enslaved, presented by Hollywood actor Samuel L. Jackson. I therefore sent a reply stating my concern about this issue and the way it was handled by the local council. This runs

‘Dear Neil,

Thank you for your email letting me know that the party will be out this Saturday canvassing people in Bedminster about the issues that matter to them. I am afraid that long term illness prevents me from attending. However, apart from the continued cuts to public services forced on the mayor by central government cuts, there is one local issue that is of deep concern to me. This is the presentation and public knowledge of the history of slavery. Slavery has existed since antiquity and across the globe. Some of the earliest records come from the ancient near eastern town of Mari, which detail the sale of slaves and other properties. You can find lists of slaves on noble estates from ancient Egypt. Slavery also existed in the Muslim world, India and China. It also existed in Black Africa long before the emergence of the transatlantic slave trade. In some African societies, the proportion of the population that was enslaved varied between 30 to 70 per cent. By and large the slaves acquired by White European and American merchants were purchased from Black African slavers. Duke Ephraim, the king of Dahomey, had an income of £300,000 a year from slaving. There are records of British merchants to Africa being offered slaves Black chiefs. After abolition some of the slaving tribes attacked British trading posts in order to make us resume purchasing their human wares. Britain also paid compensation to former African slaving nations after abolition. In the 1850s we also fought a war with Dahomey in order to stop them enslaving the other local peoples.

But I am afraid I find little awareness of these issues in Bristol and among people generally. I am worried that this is creating a false view of the trade in the public, in which slavery, and particularly Black enslavement, is wholly the fault of Whites. This includes a lack of awareness that White Europeans, including British people and Bristolians, were also enslaved during the Turkish conquest of the Balkans and the Barbary pirates from Algiers and Morocco from the 16th century on till the French conquest of Algeria in the 1820s. I feel very strongly that this is creating an ideological motivated demonisation of Whites, especially if coupled with Critical Race Theory, which holds that all Whites are racist and will remain so.

I also feel this situation has been exacerbated locally by the motion passed a year or so ago calling for the payment of reparations for slavery, introduced by Green councillor Cleo Lake and seconded by Deputy Mayor and head of Equalities Asher Craig. This called for funding to be given to Black organisations rather than individuals, so that they can create sustainable, prosperous Black communities. This is obviously a noble aim, but the stipulation that the money should cover all Afrikans, as councillor Lake styles all Blacks, in the context of reparations means that Britain has accepted a moral responsibility for compensating people,. who were never enslaved by us, and which includes the vary African nations that committed the raiding and brutality that supplied the slaves. It also has nothing to say against the celebration in some African countries of these slavers, like Efroye Tinobue in Nigeria. It also erases from history the White victims of slavery.

I sent emails last year to Mdm. Craig and Councillor Lake pointing out these defects. I regret that I never received a reply. But this issue still has a particular urgency in Bristol. In previous correspondence, Asher Craig informed me that the local government was planning a new, ‘One Bristol’ curriculum for schools, which would foreground Black people. I have absolutely no qualms about Black Bristolians receiving the educational help they need, nor being included in our city’s history. But I am afraid that this curriculum will place the blame for slavery solely on White Bristolians and that this will lead to further racial division and prejudices.

I would very much like the local council to ensure that whenever slavery is taught or exhibitions on it mounted, its antiquity and the fact that other peoples, such as Black Africans, Arabs, Indians and so on were also involved, and that Whites were also the victims of the trade. This need not be an extensive treatment, but it should be there.

I hope you will take on board these concerns and recommendations, and wish you and the other party members all the best campaigning on Saturday.

Yours faithfully,

David Sivier’

I’ll let you know if I get a reply.

Simon Webb’s Speech to the Traditional Britain Group: A Critique

December 29, 2022

One of the great commenters on this blog asked me the other day if I’d watched Simon Webb’s speech to the Traditional Britain Group, which has been posted up on YouTube. Webb is the man behind History Debunked, in which he criticises, refutes and comments on various historical myths and distortions. Most of these are against Black history, as well as racial politics. Occasionally he also presents his opinions on gay and gender issues. Like other YouTubers and internet commenters, you need to use your own discretion when watching his material. Sometimes, when he cites his sources, he’s right. At other times he’s more probably wrong. As much of his material is against mass immigration, particularly Black and Asian, and he believes that there is a racial hierarchy when it comes to intelligence, there’s some discussion of the man’s political orientation. He’s definitely right-wing, reading the Torygraph and attacking Labour as ‘high spending’. But it’s a question of how right-wing. Some people have suggested he’s English Democrat or supports a similar extreme right fringe party.

The other day he gave a speech at the Traditional Britain Group, which is a particularly nasty set of rightists within the Conservative party. There was a scandal a few years ago, you’ll recall, when Jacob Rees-Mogg turned up at one of their dinners. Mogg claimed he didn’t know how far right they were, but was shown to be somewhat economical with the actualite when someone showed that he’d actually been warned against associating with them. They are fervently against non-White immigration and some of them have a dubious interest in the Nazis and the Third Reich. I’ve also been told that their members include real Nazis and eugenicists, which is all too credible. They also want to privatise the NHS. I found this out after finding myself looking at their message board a few years ago. They were talking about how they needed to privatise the health service, but it would have to be done gradually and covertly because at the moment the masses were too much in favour of it. Which has been Tory policy for decades.

Webb’s speech is about half and hour long, and takes in slavery, White English identity and how Blacks have taken ownership of the subject so that it’s now part of theirs, White guilt over it and the industrial revolution and how White Brits are being made to feel ashamed of imperialism. He also blamed Tony Blair for mass immigration and claimed that it was due to this that the health service was collapsing.

The British Empire

He started off by saying that when he was young, everyone believed that the British Empire was a good thing and that we had brought civilisation to Africa and other parts of the world. I don’t doubt this. He’s older than me, and so I can believe that the received view of the Empire in his time was largely positive. Even the Labour party broadly supported imperialism. Its official stance was that Britain held these countries in trust until they were mature enough for self-government. This has changed, and there is a general feeling, certainly on the left, that it’s something we should be ashamed of. But this has come from historians and activists discussing and revealing the negative aspects of colonialism, such as the genocide and displacement of indigenous peoples, enslavement, forced labour and massacres. The end of empires tend to be particularly bloody, as shown in the various nationalist wars that ended the Ottoman Empire in the Balkans and the French possession of Algeria. Britain fought similar bloody wars and committed atrocities to defend its empire, as shown in the massive overreaction in Kenya to the Mao Mao rebellion. Jeremy Black, in his history of the British Empire, also argues that support for the empire fell away from the 1970s onwards as British youth became far more interested in America. I think the automatic condemnation of British imperialism is wrong and one-sided. It’s also somewhat hypocritical, as the same people condemning the British Empire don’t condemn other brutal imperial regimes like the Ottomans. It’s also being used by various post-colonial regimes to shift attention and blame for their own failings. But all this doesn’t change the fact that some horrific things were done during the Empire, which politicians and historians have to deal with. Hence the shame, although in my view there should be a space for a middle position which condemns the atrocities and celebrates the positive.

Britain and Slavery

He then talks about how slavery is now identified solely with Black transatlantic servitude. But he argues that the White English can also claim slavery as part of their identity. He talks of the first mention of the English in Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People, when pope Gregory the Great saw some English children for sale in the slave market in Rome. Asking who such beautiful children were, he was told they were Angles. At which Gregory punned, ‘Non Anglii, sed angeli’ – ‘Not Angles but angels’. At the time of the Domesday Book 10 per cent of the English population were slaves. And the mob that tore down Colston’s statue in Bristol were unaware that the city had been exported English slaves over a millennium before. These were shipped to the Viking colonies in Ireland – Dublin, Wexford and other towns – from whence they were then trafficked internationally. Slavery existed long before Black transatlantic slavery. The first record we have of it is from 4000 years ago in the form of document from the Middle East recording the sale of slaves and pieces of land. While they weren’t aware of transatlantic slavery at school, they knew slavery existed through studying the Bible. The story of Joseph and his brothers, and the Israelites in Egypt. But slavery has now become identified exclusively with Black slavery and is part of the Black identity. It’s because we’re supposed to feel guilty about slavery and feel sorry for Blacks that Black people over overrepresented in adverts, on television dramas and even historical epics, such as the show about the Tudors where half the actors were Black.

Webb is right about slavery existing from ancient times. There are indeed documents from the ancient near eastern city of Mari in Mesopotamia recording the sale of slaves along with land and other property, as I’ve blogged about here. One of the problems the abolitionists faced was that slavery existed right across the world, and so their opponents argued that it was natural institution. They therefore also claimed that it was consequently unfair and disastrous for the government to abolish it in the British empire. He’s right about Pope Gregory and the English slaves, although the word ‘Angli’ refers to the Angles, one of the Germanic tribes that settled and colonised England with the Saxons and Jutes after the fall of the Roman Empire. Angles in Anglo-Saxon were Englas, hence Engla-land – England, land of the Angles, and Englisc, English. Bristol did indeed export English slave to Ireland. Archbishop Wulfstan preached against it in the 11th century. We were still doing so in 1140, when visiting clergy from France were warned against going for dinner aboard the Irish ships in the harbour. These would lure people aboard with such promises, then slip anchor and take them to Ireland. The Irish Vikings also imported Black slaves. One chronicle reports the appearance of a consignment of blamenn, blue or black men in Old Norse, in Dublin. David Olasuga has also claimed that they imported 200 Blacks into Cumbria. Bristol’s export of White English slaves is mentioned in a display about it in the city’s M Shed Museum, which also contains the statue of Edward Colston. I do agree with Webb that there is a problem with popular attitudes towards slavery. Its presentation is one-sided, so that I don’t think many people are aware of it and its horrors outside the British Empire, nor how White Europeans were also enslaved by the Muslim Barbary pirates. I very strongly believe that this needs to be corrected.

Black Overrepresentation on TV

I don’t think it’s guilt over slavery alone that’s responsible for the large number of Black actors being cast on television, particularly the adverts. I think this is probably also due to commercial marketing, the need to appeal to international audiences and attempts to integrate Blacks by providing images of multiracial Britain. Many adverts are made for an international audience, and I think the use of Blacks has become a sort of visual shorthand for showing that the company commissioning the advert is a nice, anti-racist organisation, keen to sell to people of different colours across the world without prejudice. At home, it’s part of the promotion of diversity. Blacks are, or are perceived, as acutely alienated and persecuted, and so in order to combat racism the media has been keen to include them and present positive images of Black life and achievement. There are organisations dedicated to this task, such as the Creative Diversity Network, as well as systems that grade companies according to how they invest in multicultural enterprises, such as television and programmes with suitably racially diverse casts. Webb has himself talked about this. He’s also stated that Blacks are disproportionately represented on television, constituting only 6 per cent of the population but a very large proportion of actors in TV programmes and adverts. This might simply be because other, larger ethnic groups, such as Asians, aren’t so concerned with entering the entertainment industry and so aren’t represent to the same extent. Hence, Blacks sort of stand in for people of colour as a whole. As for adverts, I’ve also wondered if some of this might be purely commercial – a concern to sale to an emergent, affluent, Black market, perhaps. It also struck me that it might also be a make work programme. As I understand it, there are too many drama graduates for too few roles. This is particularly going to hit Blacks and other ethnic minorities because Britain at the moment is still a White majority country. There have consequently been demands for colour blind casting, as in Armando Iannucci’s recent film version of Oliver Twist. A year or so ago one Black actor announced that there should be more roles for Blacks or else they would go to America. As for the casting of a Black woman as Anne Boleyn, this seems to follow the theatre, where colour blind casting has existed for years. I think it also follows the tacit demand to create an image of the British past that conforms to modern multicultural society rather than how it really was. And some of it, I think, just comes from the feeling that as modern Blacks are as British as their White compatriots, so they should not be excluded from appearing as historical characters who were White. I think these considerations are just as likely, or more likely, to be the causes of the disproportionate number of Blacks appearing on camera than simply pity for them as the victims of slavery.

Blair Not Responsible for Mass Immigration

Now we come to his assertion that Blair was responsible for mass immigration. When he made this declaration, there were shouts, including one of ‘traitor’. I don’t believe that Blair was responsible for it, at least, not in the sense he means. The belief that he was, which is now widespread on the anti-immigrant right, comes from a single civil servant. This official claimed that Blair did so in order to change the ethnic composition of Britain and undermine the Tories. But did he really? This comes from a single individual, and without further corroboration, you can’t be sure. In fact Blair seems to have tried to cut down on immigration, particularly that of non-Whites. In order to dissuade people from coming here, he stopped immigrants from being able to apply for welfare benefits. The food banks now catering to native Brits were originally set up to feed those immigrants, who were no longer eligible for state aid. I also recall David Blunkett stating that they were going to cut down on immigration. The Guardian also accused Blair of racism over immigration. He had cut down on non-White immigration from outside Europe, while allowing White immigration from the EU and its new members in eastern Europe. The right had also been concerned about rising Black and Asian immigration for decades, and in the 1980s Tory papers like the Depress were publishing articles about unassimilable ethnic minorities. This started before Blair, and I don’t think he was deliberately responsible for it.

But I believe he was responsible for it in the sense that many of the migrants come from the countries Blair, Bush, Obama and Sarco destroyed or helped to destroy in the Middle East, such as Libya, Iraq and Syria. Blair had made some kind of deal with Colonel Gaddafy to keep migrants from further south in Libya, rather than crossing the Mediterranean to Europe. This was destroyed when Gaddafy’s regime was overthrown by Islamists. The result has been the enslavement of Black African migrants, and renewed waves of refugees from North Africa fleeing the country’s collapse.

He also stated that the industrial revolution, which was something else that was traditionally a source of pride, is now considered a cause for shame instead. Britain had been its birthplace and given its innovations to the rest of the world. However, we are now expected to be ashamed of it through its connection to slavery. The cotton woven in the Lancashire mills came from the American slave south, while sugar came from the slave colonies of the Caribbean. We’re also supposed to be ashamed of it because it’s the cause of climate change, for which we should pay reparations.

The Industrial Revolution and Climate Change

Okay, I’ve come across the claim that the industrial revolution was financed by profits from the slave trade and that it was based on the processing of slave produced goods. However, this is slightly different from condemning the industrial revolution as a whole. You can lament the fact that slavery was a part of this industrialisation, while celebrating the immense social, technological and industrial progress itself. After all, Marx states in the Communist Manifesto that it has rescued western society from rural idiocy. The demand that Britain should feel ashamed about the industrial revolution because of climate change comes from Greta Thunberg. It is, in my view, monumentally stupid and actually shows an ignorance of history. It’s based on an idealisation of pre-technological societies and an idealisation of rural communities. It’s a product of European romanticism, mixed with contemporary fears for the future of the planet. But the agrarian past was no rural idyll. People in the agricultural societies before the urbanisation of the 19th century had very utilitarian attitudes to the environment. It was a source of resources that could be used and exploited. The nostalgia for an idealised rural past came with the new generation of urban dwellers, who missed what they and their parents had enjoyed in the countryside. And rural life could be extremely hard. If you read economic histories of the Middle Ages and early modern period, famine is an ever present threat. It still was in the 19th century. The Irish potato famine is the probably the best known example in Ireland and Britain, but there were other instances of poverty, destitution and starvation across the UK and Europe. Industrialisation has allowed a far greater concentration of people to live than would have been possible under subsistence agriculture. Yes, I’m aware that overpopulation is a problem, that industrial pollution is harming the environment and contributing to the alarming declining in animal and plant species. But technological and science hopefully offer solutions to these problems as well. And I really don’t want to go back to a subsistence economy in which communities can be devastated by crop failure.

The call for climate reparations, I think, comes from Ed Miliband, and in my view it shows how out of touch and naive he is. I have no problem the Developed World giving aid to some of those countries threatened by climate change, such as the Pacific islands which are threatened with flooding due to the rise in sea levels. But some countries, I believe, are perfectly capable of doing so without western help. One of these is China, which also contributes massively to carbon emissions and which I believe has also called for the payment of climate reparations. China is an emerging economic superpower, and I see no reason why the west should pay for something that it’s doing and has the ability to tackle. I am also very sceptical whether such monies would be used for the purposes they’re donated. Corruption is a massive problem in the Developing World, and various nations have run scams to part First World donors and aid agencies from their money. When I was at the Empire and Commonwealth Museum one of these was a scheme for a hydroelectric dam in Pakistan. The Pakistani government was calling for western aid to finance the project. Britain refused, sensing a scam, for which we were criticised. Other countries happily gave millions, but the dam was never built. All a fraud. I suspect if climate reparations were paid, something similar would also happen with the aid money disappearing into kleptocrats’ pockets. There’s also the problem of where the tax burden for the payment of these reparations would fall. It probably wouldn’t be the rich, who have enjoyed generous tax cuts, but the British working class through indirect taxes. In short, it seems to me to be a colossally naive idea.

But these ideas don’t seem to be widespread. When he announced them, there were shouts from the audience to which Webb responded that it was coming, and they should wait a few years. Perhaps it will, but I’ve seen no enthusiasm or even much mention of them so far. They were mentioned during the COP 27 meeting, and that’s it. Thunberg’s still around, but after all these years I think she’s somewhat passe. At the moment I don’t think these ideas are issues.

Mass Immigration Not the Cause of NHS Crisis

Now let’s examine his statement that it’s due to immigration that the NHS is in the state it’s in. This is, quite simply, wrong. He correctly states that while Britain’s population has grown – London’s has nearly doubled and Leicester’s grown by 30 per cent – there has been no similar provision of medical services. No new hospitals have been built. As a result, where once you could simply walk into your doctor’s and expect to be seen, now you have to book an appointment. And when it comes to hospitals, it’s all the fault of immigrants. He talks about a specific hospital in London, and how the last time he was in that area, he was the only White Brit in the queue. This was because immigrants don’t have GPs, and so go to the hospital for every problem. We also have the problem of sick and disabled people from the developing world coming to the country for the better services we offer. A woman from the Sudan with a special needs child will therefore come here so that her child can have the treatment it wouldn’t get in the Sudan.

I dare say some of this analysis is correct. Britain’s population has grown largely due to immigration. One statistic released by a right-wing group said that immigration was responsible for 80 per cent of population growth. It’s probably correct, as Chambers Cyclopedia stated in its 1987 edition that British birthrates were falling and that it was immigration that was behind the rise in the UK population. I don’t know London at all, and I dare say that many of the immigrants there may well not have had doctors. I can also quite believe that some immigrants do come here for our medical care. There was a case a few weeks ago of a Nigerian woman, who got on a flight to London specifically so that she could have her children in a British hospital. I think this was a case of simple health tourism, which has gone on for years, rather than immigration.

But this overlooks the fact that the problems of the NHS has been down to successive Thatcherite regimes cutting state medical care in Britain all under the pretext of making savings and not raising taxes. Thatcher closed hospital wards. So did Tony Blair, when he wasn’t launching his PFI initiative. This was supposed to build more hospitals, but led to older hospitals being closed and any new hospitals built were smaller, fewer and more expensive. Cameron started off campaigning against hospital closures, and then, once he got his backside in No. 10, carried on with exactly the same policy. Boris Johnson claimed that he was going to build forty hospitals, which was, like nearly everything else the obese buffoon uttered, a flat lie. And Tweezer, Truss and Sunak are doing the same. Doctors surgeries have also suffered. Many of them have been sold off to private chains, which have maximised profits by closing down those surgeries that aren’t profitable. The result is that people have been and are being left without doctors. If you want an explanation why the NHS is in the state it is, blame Thatcher and her heirs, not immigrants.

Conclusion

While Webb has a point about the social and political manipulation of historical issues like the slave trade and the British Empire, these aren’t the reasons for the greater appearance of Black actors and presenters on television. Blair wasn’t responsible for mass immigration, and it’s underfunding and privatisation, not immigration, that’s responsible for the deplorable state of the health service. But he’s speaking to the wrong people there anyway, as the TBG would like to privatise it.

I am not saying it is wrong to discuss these issues, but it is wrong to support a bunch of Nazis like the TBG, who will exploit them to recreate all the social inequality, poverty and deprivation of pre-modern Britain.

Mel Blanc Sketch and Loony Tunes Characters’ Songs

December 28, 2022

Good morning. I hope you’re having a great Christmas, or at least as good a Christmas as we can expect from a government determined to push more people into poverty for big corporate profits. Yesterday I did a sketch of Mel Blanc, the man who did the voices for Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Yosemite Sam, Woody Woodpecker and the other crazy characters of the Warner Brothers cartoons. I always preferred them to Disney. They were funnier, but they were less sentimental and had more of an edge to them. Blanc also provided the voice for Twiki, Buck Rogers’ little robot friend in the 1980s series Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, but considering the low critical regard for that series, perhaps it’s best not mentioned. Blanc also released a record of him singing songs as the Warner Brothers’ characters talking about themselves. These are on the Mel Blanc – Topic channel on YouTube. Here are a few that appealed to me: ‘I’m Glad That I’m Bugs Bunny’, ‘Daffy Duck’s Rhapsody’, ‘Yosemite Sam’ and ‘I Taut I Taw A Puddy Tat’. According to the 80s children’s TV show about the Warner Brothers’ Cartoons, Film Fun, presented by Derek Griffiths, Blanc based Daffy Duck’s voice on that of one of the producers, Leon Schlesinger. He was down with the others trying out different voices for the Duck, all of which were turned down as not being quite right. He got fed up of this and so did Schlesinger’s voice. At that point Schlesinger walked in, said, ‘That’s it. That’s the one we want’, and then asked whose it was. I think Blanc must have replied that it was one he just made up. Anyway, the voice stuck, so when you are listening to Daffy Duck, you hearing the voice, or the parody of the voice, of one of Warner Brothers’ producers. Enjoy!

Blanc in the photos sports a pencil moustache, which makes him look a bit like Clarke Gable, though I’m not sure it comes out in the sketch. And the strange object he’s holding is meant to be carrot, I think, just in case anybody’s wondering.

Here are the songs.

‘I’m Glad That I’m Bugs Bunny’

‘Daffy Duck’s Rhapsody’

‘Yosemite Sam’

‘I Taut I Taw A Puddy Tat’

In one of their Christmas shows in the 1970s, Morecambe and Wise did a sketch, ‘Real Life’ cartoons, of them as the Warner Brothers characters. When it came to Tweetie and Sylvester, Tweetie was Ernie while Eric played the cat. I was only a young child at the time, but it was so hilarious I fell out of the chair laughing. Which shows not only how funny the Warner Brothers’ characters were, but also how Eric and Ernie were giants of British comedy. It says something about their immense talent that their shows are still being repeated. There was even one of their Christmas shows screened the other day, complete with its guest appearances from Flora Robson and the nice Mr. Preview.

Blanc died many years ago. Apparently his tombstone at the Hollywood cemetery has on it a Star of David – evidently he was Jewish – and the slogan at the end of the cartoons: ‘That’s all folks’. A great talent, whose voices and characters continue to bring joy and laughter even after all these years.

Have A Happy Cthulhu Christmas

December 27, 2022

This is for all the fans of H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos. I found this piece of funny art on the net sometime ago and, as a fan of Lovecraft myself, really enjoyed it. I hope you do too, and may ‘orrible, squamous things from beyond not trouble your sleep tonight.

Happy Yule! Horrific Christmas Art from 2000 AD’s Kevin O’Neill

December 26, 2022

Happy Boxing Day everyone! I hope you all had a great Christmas Day yesterday, and are enjoying the seasonal holidays. Or at least, as close as anyone comes to enjoying anything in this Tory-inflicted Winter of Discontent. I’m a big fan of the comics artist Kevin O’Neill, who sadly passed away earlier this year. O’Neill drew a number of favourite strips, including ‘Robusters’ and ‘Nemesis the Warlock’ for 2000 AD, and the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen for DC. His speciality was robots and aliens, and he was able to draw the most amazing, grotesque and horrific creatures. This was particularly shown in his art for Nemesis the Warlock, which was set in a far-future dark age where Earth was ruled by the Terminators, a religious order which regarded aliens as demons and was intent on their extermination. But it was also shown in many of his other strips, such as the edition of DC’s Green Lantern Corps which the Comics Code refused to pass. The Comics Code were the industry’s censors, set up in the 1950s to reassure American parents that the comics they approved were good, wholesome fare for American youth. The Code refused to pass that issue of the Corps not for any particular reason of the script, but because O’Neill’s artwork was ‘completely unsuitable for children.’ O’Neill had been cheerily turning out such art for British kids in 2000 AD for years by then with no apparent complaint. Well, there was the lad who supposedly told Dave Gibbons, another giant of British comics, that O’Neill’s art gave him nightmares which he could only dispel by looking at his. I think O’Neill consider his rejection by the censors something of an accolade. It’s certainly presented as such in his conversation with Tharg in a celebratory strip 2000 AD ran for Prog 500.

O’Neill also drew the front and back covers for one of 2000 AD’s Christmas issues. This portrayed Santa Claus and the other Christmas features as horrific, including the Christmas turkey and fireplace hung with stockings as rampaging grotesque monsters. It sort of followed in a long tradition of such comic art. One of the children’s humour comics did a feature on the seven ghostly wonders of Britain, in which famous British landmarks became spooky monsters. One of these was ‘Cheddar George’, in which the Somerset cave system became a twisted face with open, ravenous maw.

So, here for your enjoyment, this festive season are the covers drawn by O’Neill. RIP, big man – may your art continue to fascinate, amuse and inspire kids for generations to come. And to everyone else, please – don’t have nightmares.

And here’s the piece from Prog 500 in which Tharg and O’Neill discuss O’Neill’s moment of glory from the Comics Code.

Xenomorphs from Alien Sing Metallica’s ‘Fuel’

December 24, 2022

This is one for the petrolheads, Heavy Metal fans and aficionados of Mad Max. It’s another video from the Danny Huynh Creations channel on YouTube and is of another of his animatronic creations singing a rock song. In this instance, it’s a couple of the Aliens singing Metallica’s ‘Fuel’. This is an celebration of pure delights of speed and the internal combustion engine that would’ve delighted the Futurists as well as the presenters of Top Gear as well as bikers, obviously. I’ve said before that Huynh’s robots and vehicles have beaten, grungy look as if they’ve come from a dystopian future like that of the Mad Max movies. This is the case with the car in this video. If you also look carefully, you can also see other details from the Alien and Predator franchises. Mounted on the bonnet is a Predator head, whose faceplate lifts up to reveal the creature’s face. In the car’s passenger seat is a human figure, whose head is wrapped in a facehugger. And apart from Mad Max, it also reminds me a little of that other film about high octane future racing, Death Race 2000. Enjoy!

Saturn as the Abode of the Dead in Victorian Science Fiction

December 22, 2022

I put up a post the other day about an early 20th century SF story from 1901, in which Jesus Christ is raised on Mars and sent to Earth by the Martians to enlighten us. They rescue Him from the crucifixion, and bring Him back to Mars. It struck me that the story may have been an influence or at least prefigured the idea that later arose among UFO contactees and researcher that Christ was an alien. The best-known of the various UFO religions that believe this is the Aetherius Society, founded in the 1950s by former taxi driver George King. King was into eastern mysticism, and became aware of his mission as spokesman for the Space Brothers when he heard a voice in his kitchen one day telling him to prepare to be the voice of interplanetary parliament. The Aetherius Society believes that King was the recipient of spiritual messages from Aetherius, an alien on Venus, and that Jesus is also there on the planet. Louis Farrakhan, the head of the Nation of Israel, also claimed that he’d been taken aboard a UFO and shown how Jesus and his predecessor as head of the religion, W.D. Fard, were also on Venus. Both Christ and Fard were Black, and Fard was directing and preparing for the coming apocalyptic war against the Whites that would free Black America.

Looking through the SF collection Born of the Sun again today, I found another early SF story with a religious or supernatural dimension. This was John Jacob Astor’s 1894 A Journey in Other Worlds, in which Saturn is inhabited by the spirits of the dead. I think this was influenced by contemporary spiritualism and trends in psychic research. The followers of the 18th century Swedish scientist and mystic, Immanuel Swedenborg, believed that he had travelled in spirit across the Solar System and that the various planets were inhabited, including by the spirits of the departed. This was also the same time, I think, that mediums like Helene Smith believed that they were receiving telepathic messages from Mars. The Surrealists were fascinated by these mediumistic accounts, and one collection of Surrealist writings contains a drawing, done automatically, of Mozart’s house on either Jupiter or Saturn. There’s definitely a religious element in much Spiritualist speculation about space and early Science Fiction, and I’m very sure that this has had an influence on the UFO phenomenon and its accounts of contacts with spiritually advanced, benevolent alien beings.