Archive for the ‘Atheism’ Category

Good Friday Greetings

April 19, 2019

Today is Good Friday, the day when Christians across the world remember Christ’s trial by Pontius Pilate, His crucifixion and death, and look forward to His glorious resurrection three days later on Easter Sunday. St. Paul calls Christ ‘the Firstborn of the dead’, as Christians since the earliest days of the church have seen His resurrection as the precursor of what will happen to everyone at the end of time. And this belief in a general resurrection came to Christianity from Judaism, where, I believe, it is called the Olam Ha-Ba, or the World To Come. And as another Abrahamic faith, this belief in the ultimate resurrection of all humanity by the Almighty is one of the fundamental tenets of Islam.

I also feel at this time we should remember prisoners of conscience across the world, regardless of the political or religious views we hold. Like the crackdown on various dissenting religious groups, like the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Putin’s Russia, and atheists and the other non-Wahhabi religions and philosophies in Saudi Arabia. It’s grotesque that people belonging to either of these groups should be called ‘terrorists’ simply for holding the views they do, without harming anyone.

On a more positive note, I just wish all the readers of this blog a great and happy Easter weekend, whether they are religious or otherwise.

Best wishes to you all.

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Miriam Margolyes Defends Labour and Jeremy Corbyn against Anti-Semitism Smears in Radio Times

April 16, 2019

Next week’s Radio Times for 20th-26th April 2019 has a long interview with veteran thesp Miriam Margolyes.  It’s partly publicity for her forthcoming documentary, Miriam’s Dead Good Adventure, in which she explores death and how people cope with it. This includes venturing into the kind of territory Louis Theroux explored in his Weird Weekends all those years ago, when he explored the weirder margins of American society. In her case, Margolyes meets a group, who believe they can use orgasmic energy to stave off death forever, making them immortal. Needless to say, she doesn’t believe a word of it.

Most interestingly, Margolyes discusses the anti-Semitism allegations against the Labour party and Jeremy Corbyn, making it very clear that she doesn’t believe in them either. She condemns the Israeli oppression of the Palestinians, and describes how her view have led to her being vilified by pro-Israel groups and individuals, like Maureen Lipman. And like Jackie Walker, another Jewish anti-Zionist lady of mature years, she was radicalised through her opposition to apartheid in South Africa. This section of the interview runs

A Labour Party member, she has firm opinions about anti-Semitism accusations directed at the party. “Jeremy Corbyn, who is an excellent constituency representative, a serious person, is not an anti-Semite. I don’t think there is the extent of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party that people seem to imply,” she says. “I think it’s to do with trying to stop Corbyn from being prime minister”. She is also critical of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. “It’s just a fact that the Israelis have behaved appallingly, they continue to do so, and people are dying. I am ashamed, as a Jew, of what’s been done in my my name. I can’t bear it. And for that I’m vilified and people won’t come to see the plays I’m in. I’ve become, as it were a kind of minuscule Vanessa Redgrave when she was vilified for her political position. But I am right. I have no doubt about that whatever”.

I wonder how it feels to be separated from your own community. “It hurts me,” she says. “I’m so Jewish, and so happy to be Jewish. And the schism between me and Maureen Lipman, which is the manifestation of this chasm, causes me pain.”

Lipman is a very public supporter of Israel. IN 2015 she demonstrated with pro-Israeli groups outside a production of a pro-Palestinian play in London. “She feels that I am a wicked traitor to my people,” says Margolyes. “And I feel that she’s a fool.” The two appeared together in a 1989 British Telecom commercial spoofing Jewish domestic life, now Margolyes admits it would be difficult if they met in the street. “I hope I would be civil. I’m sad because I admire Maureen, and I have known her for a long time. She’s been a friend, and now it’s not possible any more. I expect she might be said, too. But she said don’t communicate with me again and I haven’t.”

She says she feels compelled to stand against injustice in the world. “For me, it’s the same sort of cause as apartheid. I was marching on South Africa House when I was young and, unfortunately, it’s now my own people I’ve got to march against. That’s painful, but I won’t pretend. If you can’t tell the truth when you’re 77, when are you going to tell it?”

Jewish Opposition to Zionism as Anti-Semitism

Over a decade ago she was one of a number of public figures, who condemned the Israeli bombardment of Gaza, and she made her Jewishness very plain then too. She stated that she was a ‘proud Jew, and an ashamed Jew’. She says in the interview that she doesn’t believe in God, but she loves Jewish life, the cooking, culture and community. She shares her happiness with her Jewish identity with many of the other Jewish critics of Israel, both Torah-observant and secular/ atheist, who have also been vilified for their stance against the Israeli oppression and ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Arabs. People like Jackie Walker, Tony Greenstein, Martin Odoni and many others. And many Jewish critics of Israel find it utterly ridiculous, even anti-Semitic, that they should be considered traitors by their community, because they’d don’t support a foreign country that they weren’t born in. Greenstein, David Rosenberg, and the Israeli historian, Ilan Pappe, have made the point that until recently the majority of the Jewish people rejected Zionism, partly because they were afraid that it would lead to accusations that Jews’ loyalties were divided between their homeland and that of the Jewish state. Indeed, at the beginning of the Zionist project, Zionism was strongly associated with anti-Semitism because of the number of real Jew-haters, who wanted to expel their Jewish populations to some other country, and the establishment of a Jewish state would be perfect for this purpose. The majority of Jews wished to stay in their native homelands and be accepted as equal citizens with their gentile fellow countrymen and women. The establishment of the state of Israel has indeed led to diaspora Jews being accused of being more loyal to Israel than their home countries, not least because Benjamin Netanyahu actually declared that the Jewish people and Israel are synonymous and identical. All Jews, everywhere, are citizens of Israel. The Palestinians, however, are not. Which is why activists like Tony Greenstein make it very clear that Israel isn’t a democracy, as it is not a state of its citizens but of a single, privileged ethnic group.

Maureen Lipman’s Attack on Ed Miliband

As for Maureen Lipman, she’s a great actor, but she has boiled her brain on this issue. She’s claimed to have left the Labour party because of Corbyn. She didn’t. She left it a few years ago when Ed Miliband, who’s Jewish, became leader. Miliband made some mild policy departures from a rigidly pro-Israel line, so Lipman threw a strop and left, ranting about how the party was now anti-Semitic. She wasn’t the only one. As Mike and the other left-wing bloggers have pointed out, the anti-Semitism smears date from this time, long before Corbyn became leader. Which makes utter nonsense of the claim that Corbyn, one of the most anti-racist and determined opponents of anti-Semitism, is a Jew-hater.

Other Victims of Witchhunt Silenced by Media

It’s refreshing that the Radio Times should give space to Margolyes’ views, and I’m sorry that she, too, is suffering vilification and smears for her opposition to Israel that other critics and activists, both Jewish and non-Jewish, are also receiving. But unfortunately the media, including the Beeb, is still determined to repeat these smears and libels. Those abused, like Mike, may be able to correct these attacks through IPSO, but it’s very difficult for the victims to take their attackers to court for libel. This is largely because of the huge costs involved, but also because there are time limits on libel actions and the newspapers do everything they can to stall and stonewall them until they run out of time. And I have yet to see any part of the lamestream media invite those, who have been smeared as anti-Semites, onto their programmes to defend themselves. The noble exception to this have been the new, alternative broadcasters like RT and Novara Media. George Galloway has had Jackie Walker and Tony Greenstein on his show, Sputnik, on RT to make their case and describe their experience of victimisation in the anti-Semitic witchhunt. But the Beeb, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and others have yet to do so. Meanwhile Laura Kuenssberg and the other liars of the BBBC newsroom have been free to continue their promotion of the lies and smears against Corbyn and his supporters without any criticism or dissent whatsoever, urged on by the rest of the mendacious right-wing media and Jewish establishment.

I’m pleased Margolyes has been able to present the other side of the argument in the RT, and would like other anti-Israel activists also to have the opportunity to explain their position and rebut the anti-Semitism smears. But the majority are ordinary people, like Mike, Greenstein, Walker, Odoni, Wadsworth and Chilson, who aren’t already media figures and so are denied a proper, sympathetic platform. And so the lies and smears continue.

UKIP Destroy Credibility by Selecting Count Dankula as Euro Election Candidate

April 13, 2019

Here’s one more episode in the continuing saga of despair and decline that is the UK Independence Party. Yesterday, Mike reported that the party has chosen Mark Meechan, the internet personality who goes by the monicker ‘Count Dankula’, to be their candidate in the forthcoming Euro elections. Dankula is the idiot, who ended up before the Scottish beak and fined £800 for teaching his girlfriend’s pug to do the Nazi salute when he shouted ‘Heil Hitler!’ or ‘Gas the Jews!’ He joins other extreme right-wing internet personalities, who have also joined the Party, like Infowars’ Paul Joseph Watson, Carl ‘Sargon of Akkad’ Benjamin and the infamous Tommy Robinson. Robinson, real name Stephen Yaxley Lennon, is the notorious anti-Muslim activist, who has previously been in the BNP, founded the EDL and was briefly part of Pegida UK. And Dankula is also great mates with him. It’s a sordid list of far-right activists that shame the party. Their entry has pulled in thousands of new, younger members, as Kipperfuehrer Gerard Batten hoped, but at the expense of driving out many older, more moderate members disgusted with his turn to the racist right. I’ve put up a video of one Kipper angrily denouncing Batten for this and stating very clearly that he was leaving the party because of it.

Dankula’s obviously a very controversial figure. He was going to be one of the talking heads on a BBC Scotland topic issues show, ‘The Collective’ but was dropped after complaints from the public about the Corporation employing someone, who was guilty of an anti-Semitic hate crime. UKIP’s electoral chances will probably go the same way now they’ve selected him as one of their candidates. While anti-immigration is a very strong and contentious issue, no decent Brit wants to vote for someone, who even remotely looks like a Nazi. Hence Mike is very glad that the Kippers have done so, and looks forward to Dankula and UKIP sinking without trace.

He also points out that Rachel Riley, the Countdown presenter who is trying to sue him and very many others because they revealed how she bullied over the internet a vulnerable 16 year old schoolgirl she accused of anti-Semitism, has also embarrassed herself over Dankula and his stupid prank. Dankula put up a tweet by Meechan complaining about how he was forced to wear a smart ankle tag so the rozzers could monitor his movements. She commented ‘insane’. Her tweet, as Mike says, provoked strong responses, but Riley has not issued any clarification about what she meant. Mike concluded that by showing her support for people like Dankula, she had made it clear that as far as her case against him and the others goes, she hasn’t got a leg to stand on.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2019/04/12/nazi-salute-dog-man-count-dankula-standing-for-ukip-in-euro-election-so-theyre-both-sunk-then/

UKIP are also considering another far right internet activist, Carl Benjamin, to be a candidate in the Euro elections. Although Sargon denies being a racist, he is a far right ‘classical Liberal’ who wants to privatise everything and destroy the welfare state, and shares the Fascist right’s hatred of feminism, gay rights and ‘social justice warriors’ in general. This also includes Black civil rights activism and anti-racism. Sargon’s prospective appointment as another UKIP election hopeful has already given great mirth to male feminist and internet anti-racist activist, Kevin Logan. Logan has pointed out that the press will have a field day with Sargon’s extremist opinions, and that any conversations Benjamin will have with prospective voters out campaigning are going to be hindered by his unique debating style. When Sargon runs out of ideas, he starts screaming at people to shut up, as he did during a debate on atheism and social justice at the American atheist conference, Mythcon. He’s also known for resorting to ad hominem abuse, which isn’t going to help him either. As Logan said, ‘you can’t call people ****heads on their doorstep.’

No matter how many people Dankula, Sargon and the others  have brought into UKIP, it looks like they’re going to drive many more away with their racism and bigotry. Their appointment could well be the final death knell for the party. It’s a grim story, but it could be highly amusing to see how the press handles Dankula and Sargon. Assuming they don’t follow the previous press line of praising them to the rafters, of course.

Israeli Politico’s Fascist Campaign Ad

April 2, 2019

This disturbing video comes from The Michael Brooks Show. Brooks was a co-host on Sam Seder’s Majority Report, and, like him, is Jewish. They have the same stance on Israel, attacking the Israeli state and its persecution of the Palestinians. Brooks’ criticism of this ad is all the more acute because he is partly of German Jewish heritage, the people, who first suffered the horrific persecution under the Nazis that led eventually to the attempted extermination of the Jewish people across Europe.

Brooks simply says that this is one of the most disturbing political ads ever. It’s for Ayelet Shaked, the Justice Minister in the current Likud coalition government. He describes her as far, far Right, because of the horrific comments she’s made about the Palestinians. She’s recommended killing Palestinian children, so that the ‘snakes’ don’t grow up and try to avenge their parents’ deaths by the Israelis. This is a truly Fascist statement. Himmler and the Nazis made almost exactly the same comment to justify their extermination of whole communities, which defied them. Like the Czech village of Lidice, where all males over the age of 13 were hanged. Brooks states he came to it after he was on Israeli television discussing apartheid.

The advert, in Hebrew with English subtitles, shows Ayelet spraying on perfume from a bottle marked ‘Fascism’. At the end of it, after she finishes spraying herself, she says, ‘Smells like democracy to me’.

And after further brief statements about how disturbing the ad is, that’s how this segment of The Michael Brooks Show ends. I don’t think the message behind Shaked’s video could be anymore explicit: she is actively embracing Fascism. Or if not quite that, it’s a piece of Orwellian Doublespeak where words have the opposite meaning, like ‘War is peace’. Perhaps it’s meant as rebuff to her critics, who are denouncing her as a Fascist. She might be trying to claim in a twisted way that she’s a democrat. But it’s still appalling, even if that’s the case, as it seems to suggest that what others call Fascism, she calls democracy. Which just means she’s still embracing and supporting Fascism.

Not that factions within Israeli society haven’t explicitly supported Fascism in the past. Apart from the Israeli state’s Fascistic persecution of the Palestinians, Buddy Hell has pointed out on the Guy Debord’s Cat blog that in the 1920s the early Zionist pioneers had a Fascist party, the Maximalist Legalists, who wanted to create a Fascist corporative state like Mussolini’s Italy. And Fascists and apologists for dictatorship have claimed that their regimes are somehow more democratic than the democracies. Both Hitler and Mussolini used plebiscites to legitimise their regimes, and then claimed that this proved their governments’ democratic superiority. In the 19th and early 20th centuries a series of Latin American writers and philosophers drew on Thomas Carlyle’s On Heroes and Hero-Worship to claim that the continent simply couldn’t be governed through Anglo-Saxon-style democracy, and needed the rule of great men – the caudillos, military dictators – in order to make progress. Two of these have titles which suggest their authors considered that personal dictatorship in Latin America somehow constituted a unique form of democracy suited to the continent. These were Las democracias latinas de America by the Peruvian author Francisco Garcia Calderon and Cesarismo democratico by the Venezuelan sociologist Laureano Vallenilla Lanz.

Brooks says of this video that it hasn’t been discussed much in America. There’s no need to ask why. The establishment in America, Britain and Europe supports Israel as an outpost of western democracy and culture in the Middle East. This support is strongest on the Conservative Right. In the 1970s American Conservatives claimed that Israel should be supported because of its Judaeo-Christian culture, declaring that ‘their values are our values’. A few weeks ago the wretched Katie Hopkins, who has now made herself so personally toxic that she’s been sacked from the Heil, made the same claim. Well, Mussolini also made a similar claim that he was supporting Christianity and specifically Roman Catholicism after he signed the Lateran Accords with the papacy in the late 1920s. the support Fascism received from large sections of the European Christian churches has been a stain on their reputation ever since, and has been one of the major causes of the massive growth in atheism in western Europe in the 20th century. That hasn’t stopped the religious Right in America continuing to support brutal right-wing regimes, like General Pinochet in Chile and the vicious Contras in Nicaragua. Ronald Reagan even notoriously declared that the latter were ‘the moral equivalent of our founding fathers’. Radical critics of America and its history of racism and the systematic repression of left-wing movements would probably agree. Thus the mainstream news organisations aren’t going to show or discuss this advert, because Shaked’s embrace of Fascism would immediately discredit Israel in the eyes of most severely normal people in America, Britain and elsewhere.

The advert is particularly damaging to specific examples of what may be considered anti-Semitic in the I.H.R.A. definition of anti-Semitism. This rules that it is anti-Semitic to compare Jews to Nazis, claim that Israel is a racist endeavour, or compare its persecution of the Palestinians to the Holocaust. Now Shaked in this advert hasn’t actually gone that far. She isn’t spraying herself with a perfume called ‘Nazi’, ‘Third Reich’, or ‘Hitler’. But she isn’t far off. Marxist historians would actually say that she has. Soviet historians did not refer to ‘National Socialism’ when discussing Nazism, in case this suggested that Hitler’s dictatorship was somehow similar to their own system of government. They referred to it instead as ‘Nazi-Fascism’. There are differences between Nazism and Fascism, but to most people the regimes are more or less synonymous. Nazism was a form of Fascism, and Mussolini passed racist and anti-Semitic legislation in imitation of Hitler’s Germany. If this was shown on TV and in discussed everywhere in the press, the Israel lobby could hardly try to silence those calling Israel racist and Fascist for its persecution of the Palestinians, when one of its leading cabinet ministers is shown in a campaign advert created by her own team fully embracing the accusation.

Whatever the Israel lobby now says, no matter how hard they deny it and try to silence those, who speak out about it, Shaked’s advert shows that she has no problem with Fascism, or at least being described as a Fascist. In the meantime Israel is supplying arms to real, extreme right-wing and anti-Semitic regimes like Fidesz in Hungary, the Law and Justice Party in Poland and the blatant Nazis of the Azov battalion in Ukraine. And Jewish bloggers like David Rosenberg have made their fears for these nations’ Jewish minorities very clear.

How overt does Israeli racism have to get before our media notices, or has the moral courage and integrity to report on it. And if Oswald Mosley returned to lead the BUF goose-stepping through the East End, would the Jewish Chronicle and Board of Deputies support him if he bought Israeli guns for his stormtroopers and paid his tributes to those murdered by his Nazi counterparts at Yad Vashem? 

You Kipper – UKIP’s Mosleyite YouTube Fan

March 29, 2019

And now, even more racism and Fascism, this time courtesy of UKIP, or rather, one of their fans. Yesterday the anti-racism, anti-religious extremism organisation and website Hope Not Hate put up a piece about You Kipper, a content creator on YouTube, who puts up videos celebrating Oswald Mosley and encouraging people to join UKIP.

You Kipper has been posting since 2015, and already he has 28,500 subscribers and had seven million views. He produces videos promoting UKIP, as his name suggests, and described the party as ‘our guys’ the video of a discussion between himself and Alt Right activist Colin Robertson, who also posts himself on YouTube as Millennial Woes. You Kipper’s association with Robertson should itself indicate just how far Kipper’s political views are. Robertson is notorious for his videos, largely consisting of himself in a bathroom sat in a darkened room ranting about the West is declining because of non-White immigration and feminism. He also gave a speech in America at an Alt Right gathering in which he told Richard Spencer’s assembled stormtroopers how shocked he was when he found out a young bloke he talked to on a train, who seemed to be intelligent, accepted the conventional narrative about the Holocaust.

You Kipper also describes himself as a ‘Mosleyite’. One of his videos has the title ‘A New Machine – Sir Oswald Mosley’, featuring the speeches of Britain’s would-be fuehrer. This was one of couple of videos shared on Facebook by the fanatic, who then gunned down 50 innocent Muslims in New Zealand. Hope Not Hate point out in their piece that the gunman describe Mosley as the man with the closest views to his own.

The second video from You Kipper that the Australian Nazi shared had the title, ‘There’s No England Now’, a line from the Kinks. This showed Muslims praying, left-wing and pro-EU activists, Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, and the Manchester bombings, accompanied by the Kink’s ‘Living on a Thin Line’, which was where You Kipper took the title of this wretched piece.

You Kipper has also produced a video on British ethnonationalism, which used to be ‘racial nationalism’ back when I was a lad, and which refers to the NF/BNP doctrine that only Whites can ever really be British. This featured dialogue from the British Fascist John Bowden. Another video on British Nationalism is just a straight speech by John Tyndall, the former fuehrer of the National Front and BNP. And two days after the Christchurch terror attack, You Kipper posted a video ‘(Why You Should) Join UKIP’ consisting of uberkipperfuehrer Gerard Batten’s speech at the Day For Freedom rally last year. The video’s soundtrack was Fashwave music from the British musician, Xurious. For those of us not aux fait with the latest trends in Nazi tunes, Fashwave stands for ‘Fascist Wave’, and is a form of electronic music popular with the Alt Right. Which makes it sound like Nazi rave music.

UKIP is returning You Kipper’s compliments with some branches sharing his wretched videos. The Bury branch shared his video ‘Working Class Uprising: Why We Voted ‘Leave”, which includes clips of a devastated town in County Durham. The only clip underneath it stated that the town was ready for a ‘muzrat’ invasion.

Hope Not Hate connects You Kipper’s support for the party with Batten’s change of direction to appeal to the anti-Muslim and Far Right, including on-line extreme right-wing personalities like Infowars’ Paul Joseph Watson, Mark Meechan, otherwise known of Count Dankula of Nazi pug infamy, and the Sage of Swindon, Carl Benjamin, also known as Sargon of Akkad. Benjamin considers to be a civic rather than ethnic nationalist, but he shares some of the same extreme attitudes as the others. As a ‘classical liberal’ he also stands for the unfettered free market, limited government and despises feminism. There’s also a streak of racism there, as he told a group of fellow right-wingers with whom he was in a discussion that they were ‘behaving like a bunch of n***ers’ when they started to squabble among themselves. Other videos of his apparently show him snorting campaign and looking at the addresses of massage parlours in Swindon. As you do, if you’re a Lockean civic nationalist in Swindon. He’s been selected as UKIP’s candidate for the European elections, should we still be in the EU when they’re due to be held. This has given much amusement to Benjamin’s nemesis, the male feminist and anti-Nazi Kevin Logan. Last weekend Logan and Kristi Winters put up a long video, in which Logan described at length how difficult Sargon would find real politics. The press would tear him to pieces, and he wouldn’t be able to shout down and insult people on their own doorsteps, as he has done debating various political issues at atheist conventions in America. Unfortunately, despite the fact that parts of the Kipper apparat really didn’t want him in, Sargon’s videos for the party in which he attacks, amongst other issues, trans rights, have made the Kipper channel the most popular political channel on YouTube.

The Hope Not Hate article cites a piece in the Guardian that the mass departure of UKIP’s older members and the influx of younger, more extreme activists, has also coincided with the rise of extreme-right wing internet sites like Politicalite and Unity News. These sites also support Batten’s far right politics. The article concludes

UKIP has changed, and has become a participant in the online culture war as much as a political threat. Sharing an article from the Guardian which reported that UKIP’s surge in membership is shifting the party to the far right, You Kipper tweeted: “when I said UKIP are a cultural as well as political force this is what I meant: we’re helping to shift the political climate”.  

https://www.hopenothate.org.uk/2019/03/28/you-kipper-the-fascist-youtuber-promoted-by-the-nz-shooter-and-ukip/

That’s the danger. UKIP has turned to the Far Right because it’s desperate for new members and to make itself relevant. It was a single issue party that became redundant after the ‘Leave’ campaign won the 2016 referendum. And hopefully the party will collapse further as the country moves away from Leave as it becomes clear how exiting the European Union will damage our economy and society.

But it is dangerous in that You Kipper, Sargon, Dankula, Watson and co are shifting the Overton window towards the Far Right, and helping to legitimate islamophobia, misogyny and racism.

 

‘I’ Celebrates Lad Who Egged Racist Senator Fraser Anning

March 18, 2019

Here’s an inspiring story. Fraser Anning, an utterly repugnant far-right Australian senator, who literally blamed the victims of the Christchurch massacre for their own murder, got his just comeuppance. As he was speaking, a White kid hit him over the head with an egg. And the lad is now an internet hero.

The story’s covered by the I, whose article in today’s edition for 18th March 2019, on page 9, runs

Online accolades for boy who egged far-right senator

Will Connolly, the 17 year old boy who egged the far-right Australian senator Fraser Anning, has become an online hero.

Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison suggested yesterday that the anti-Muslim senator should be charged after he slapped a teenager who cracked a raw egg over his head.

Mr Anning has been condemned for blaming Muslim immigration for the racist attacks on two New Zealand mosques. Mr Morrison said: “The full force of the law should be applied to Senator Anning.”

Posting on after the mass shootings on Friday, Mr Anning tweeted: “Does anyone still dispute the link between Muslim immigration and violence?”

“The real cause of the bloodshed on New Zealand streets today is the immigration programe which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place, ” he said later. A GoFundMe page set up to raise A$2,000 (£1,0000) to pay for Connolly’s ‘legal fees’ and ‘more eggs’ had exceeded A$25,000 yesterday.

The site says most of the money will go to Christchurch victims.

The I’s columnist Eleanor Margolis wrote a further piece about, When words fail, some people need egging, adding a bit of historical context to Eggboy’s act. She mentions the egging of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jeremy Corbyn at Finsbury Park mosque last week, and John Prescott, how it was used against people in the stocks in the Middle Ages, and by less than impressed audiences in Elizabethan theatres. She said of Eggboy’s strike against Anning that

For anyone slating Eggboy for food wastage, maybe supermarkets should start keeping the eggs that pass their sell by date specifically to see to people with grievances against our leaders. Becuase the thing about egging is, it’s sort of effective. When Eggboy matter-of-factly broke that egg on Fraser Anning’s racist head, millions of people soon saw a display of solidarity -from a White non-Muslim kid – with those impacted by the Christchurch shooting and the victims of today’s rampant islamophobia in general. When words fail, some people just need an egg to the face. It’s probably the most physical, yet mostly non-violent, way of showing the world you disagree with someone and their entire schtick. (p. 18)

Let’s add a bit more detail to this. Anning didn’t just blame Muslim immigration for the violence, he specifically suggested that the victims of this atrocity were themselves violent and to blame for it. He issued a statement essentially saying that Islam is a violent religion, all Muslims were violent, and the massacre victims were ‘not armed yet’. Very many religions and ideologies, including Christianity, have their violent  as well as peaceful aspects, and Islam is no different. At times it has expanded through military conquest and at others through peaceful preaching and simply commercial interaction. It’s believed that Islam spread into sub-Saharan African, for example, through merchants, and that many of the African peoples, who adopted it did so because the majlis, or assembly of religious scholars, offered a constitutional check to the power of the kings.  It’s also obviously untrue that Muslims are violent, as clearly shown by the peaceful behaviour of the vast majority. And Anning’s statement about the victims of the massacre is both wrong and obscene. They weren’t armed at all, and there’s no evidence whatsoever that they were going to be.

Kevin Logan dealt with this lie in his livestream he did with feminist professor Kristi Winters. It’s on YouTube, entitled ‘We Love You Kiwis’. I haven’t reblogged it, because it’s over an hour long and Logan, as an internet atheist, makes a series of gratuitous attacks on Christianity. But on a more positive note, he did post this video celebrating Anning’s nemesis. Enjoy! 

Warning: Contains language.

 

Margolis’ article is also interesting for how she describes the attack on Corbyn. She repeats the falsehood that he was hit with an egg – he wasn’t. He was punched in the head. But she admits he was attacked by a racist. Which is interesting, as this is a tacit admission that Corbyn isn’t. And if he isn’t a racist, he can’t be an anti-Semite, by definition. But I doubt you’ll find the I going that far to buck the anti-Semitism witch-hunt against Labour.

Two Videos by Dick Coughlan Showing Tommy Robinson as He Is

March 14, 2019

Dick Coughlan is an anti-racist, anti-Fascist atheist ranter on YouTube. I don’t agree with his atheism, which is in any case only really evident in this video in his sign off: ‘May God be less’. But I’m putting up these two videos because they show just what an amoral, lying thug Tommy Robinson is. Robinson’s one of the leading islamophobes in this country. He’s been the head of the English Defence League, was briefly involved in Pegida UK, and has been in and out of jail for contempt of court. He was caught livestreaming outside the courtroom where Asian men accused of forming grooming and rape gangs were being tried, thus threatening to prejudice their trial. Although he claims to be a racist, he was a member of the BNP. In one video he sent to one of his friends, which was leaked to the press, he contradicted his claim not to be racially prejudiced by referring to an Asian taxi driver as ‘a little Paki’, and compounded it by boasting about how he’d obtained cocaine in every country in the world, including Qatar, when the local Muslims were at prayer.

He claims to be the victim of persecution by the British establishment, but his own conduct and those of his legions of followers is highly intimidating. He turns up with his goons at his critics’ homes announced and demands to talk to them in a very aggressive manner. He also doxes them, revealing their personal information on the net, leaving them vulnerable to hate messages and death threats from his fans. He did this a few weeks ago to a critic in his home town of Luton. The lad’s parents live in Cumbria, so he and two of his friends drove up there in the middle of the night to intimidate them. Another opponent is the historian and journalist Mike Stuchbery, who Robinson and his friends also tried to intimidate in the same manner. They turned up at his house, banged on his windows and at one point made the false and malign claim that Stuchbery is a paedophile. For which Stuchbery’s taking him to court.

In the first video below, Coughlan talks about the video Robinson sent, that was leaked to the press. This was done by one of his friends, and Coughlan points out, not unreasonably, that if they’re doing that to Robinson, then clearly they aren’t friends of his. He also discusses how it shows Robinson to be a racist and druggie, despite his denials. But he really attacks Robinson for his comments about a rape charity, which was offering special services to Black and ethnic minority women. Robinson took a photo of their advert with the caption ‘So it’s OK to rape White women then?’ This was very definitely not what the charity was saying. The advert was for a branch of rape charity, that existed to help all women, regardless of their colour. It was offering special services – such as contact with staff that spoke Asian and other minority languages, for example, because the women in these communities may be at a disadvantage because of their unique needs. At the same time, the charity certainly was not going to turn away White women. This is clearly shown in the flyer for the charity, which shows four White faces amongst the Black and Asian women. Robinson was aware of this, and how it would contradict his lying caption, and so deliberately shot the flyer at an angle so that the four White faces wouldn’t show. Robinson’s lies resulted in the charity having their phone lines clogged with hate calls. They will have to change their posters, leaflets and have new lines installed because of Robinson’s accusation. As a result, God knows how many women have not been able to get the advice and help they need.

Equally disgusting was a lie Robinson tweeted about a rape that was supposed to have occurred in a school in Luton. An eleven year old White girl was supposed to have been gang-raped by Muslims. Robinson tweeted this, with a comment asking why the authorities were silent.

They were silent for a good reason: it never happened.

Nevertheless, the outrage Robinson generated with his wretched tweet was so intense and widespread that the school, Luton council and police had to go to the press and on television and radio to refute the lie.

In the second video, he talks about his personal experience of dealing with Robinson and his internet squadristi. It’s title refers to Robinson’s real name, Stephen Yaxley Lennon. And it’s a scream of rage and defiance against their doxing and threats. Robinson is being sued for defamation by a young Syrian lad, who was attacked at his school by a bully. The lad, a refugee, was a victim of racial assault, but Robinson instead sympathised with the bully and his family, who, he claimed, were the real victims. Coughlan was contacted by the lad’s solicitors, who asked him to serve the legal papers on Robinson.

Coughlan describes this process, taking care to refute the lies posted about him by the Robinson and his supporters. According to them, Coughlan turned up with other men in black balaclavas to terrify and intimidate Robinson’s wife and children. Coughlan admits that he did have company, as he isn’t a tough man and didn’t know what to expect. He was also accompanied by journalists, one from the Daily Mail and another from Channel 4. But they very definitely didn’t wear black balaclavas and didn’t try to threaten or intimidate Robinson’s wife and children. He states he went to Robinson’s wife’s house, as although it’s in her name, he is registered as living there. He has to do this, as Robinson is prevented from touching mortgages due to a conviction for mortgage fraud. When he got there, Coughlan was met by a couple of coppers, who took the writ from him, and said they would deliver it to Robinson instead.

Coughlan then goes on to describe the personal attacks, so far mercifully not physical, he has received from Robinson and his supporters. They have released details of where he lives online, and revealed that Coughlan formerly used cocaine. Which Coughlan finds absolutely hysterical, as he has put all this information out there. However, they got a photograph of where they thought he lives absolutely wrong, and Coughlan corrects them. They have also gone through all his tweets and videos trying to find anything that makes him look a Nazi. This includes a video of Coughlan in his bedsit, with a picture tacked to the wall, which is supposed to be a swastika. As Coughlan shows, it isn’t. It’s a caricature he drew of Rees-Mogg. And some of those claiming that Coughlan is somehow himself racist clearly have far right views themselves. One even announces that he works for the far-right news corporation, Breitbart.

Coughlan isn’t dismayed by their antics, as despite the personal insults and threats to kill him and burn down his house, nothing’s happened. In fact, it’s only made him more determined to combat Robinson further. He states that he’ll contact Mike Stuchbery about his decision to sue Robinson, as he wants to deliver that writ as well. Just as wants to serve the legal papers to the great anti-Muslim gruppenfuehrer from anyone else determined to sue him. The war has only just begun.

I’m posting both of these up because, although I’ve put up other videos about some of the same events by Kevin Logan and Mike Stuchbery, these confirm what a thoroughly nasty piece of work Robinson is. He isn’t persecuted, he’s one of the persecutors. And it shows just how paranoid and nasty he and his supporters are that they attack to a charity looking after women, who have suffered such dreadful assault. I also admire Coughlan, and the others, who have been threatened by him and his mob, like the good blogger over at Zelo Street, who are standing up to him and bringing the war back to them. Many of us would be too afraid to respond like that in the face of such threats, but Coughlan and co. stand tall and unbowed. I wish them all the best of luck in their campaigns against Robinson and his mob of rabid Fascists, and hope they take them down. From Coughlan’s videos, it should be spectacular.

One warning to everyone viewing: Coughlan’s a sweary bloke with a rather coarse sense of humour, so be careful where you play this.

Ken Loach Talks about Writer and Poet Kevin Higgins, Suspended for Satirising War Criminal Blair

March 3, 2019

Here’s another excellent piece from Labour Against the Witchhunt, where the respected left-wing film-maker, Ken Loach, talks about the case of Kevin Higgins. Higgins is a writer and poet, an overseas member of the party, living in Ireland. He was suspended in June 2016 for daring to write a poem satirising Tony Blair and the bloody carnage he had caused in Iraq. Loach only reads a part of a poem, as it’s rather too long to repeat in full. Before he does he jokes that as this is what got Higgins suspended, then everyone present is also going to be suspended simply for being there. So anyone who doesn’t want to be suspended should leave.

The poem is a reworking of a piece by Brecht, about a soldier, who gets shot, and his needy widow receives only something insignificant. In the part Loach reads, which I’m paraphrasing, not quoting, Blair’s ‘no longer new’ wife wonders about what she will receive from all the depleted uranium shells he had dropped during the battle of Basra, all the soldiers he had sent to meet Improvised Explosive Devices in far Mesopotamia? She got for all that white night terrors of him on trial for his crimes and the desire never again to look out the window of their fine Connaught Square House at the tree, which people said was once used to hang traitors.

Loach says of  Higgins that he guesses Higgins isn’t the only one who’s disgusted with Blair, with his illegality, the hundreds of thousands he caused to die and the millions he’s made since he left office. ‘If anyone brings the party into disrepute, it’s that mass murderer.’

He goes on then to reveal what happened to Higgins himself. He didn’t hear anything, so in May 2017 he wrote to the Governance and Legal Unit requesting all the documents relating to him to be sent to him within forty according to his right in the laws about data protection. Nine months later, no reply. The video was uploaded on YouTube on 7th February 2018. He was still suspended, as far as Loach knew.

The cineaste concludes

It is incompetent. It is inefficient. It is unprincipled. And those people should not be in charge of that disclipinary procedure.

Loach is absolutely correct. And Higgins’ suspension, simply for satirising Blair, isn’t the mark of a democratic socialist party. It’s the action of a rigidly centralised dictatorship, where the leader was, like Mussolini, always right. It’s like nothing so much as Stalin’s ‘cult of personality’ in the USSR, with the exception that Higgins only got suspended. In Stalin’s USSR, he’d have been tortured and shot, or at the very least sent to a gulag.

And Loach is definitely correct when he says that he probably isn’t the only one disgusted with Blair. Millions of us are. Over a million people marched against the Iraq invasion, including the priests at my local church. It was one of the biggest popular demonstrations in British history, but Blair and his vile cronies ignored it. And people certainly left the party and refused to vote for the grotty profiteer because of his greed, his illegality, his warmongering, his privatisation, his insistence on absolute obedience and micromanagement of party affairs. Private Eye called him the ‘Dear Leader’, satirising the smaltzy, sentimental image he tried to project, as well as his demand to be loved. The Tory party at the time stood in opposition to the War, which got a left-wing friend of mine to buy the Spectator for a time. I think that this was mostly opportunism on the Tories’ party, as there is nothing they love better than a good war. But to be fair to them, Peter Hitchens, the brother of the late atheist polemicist Christopher, genuinely despised him for Iraq and continues to loathe him, describing him as ‘the Blair creature’.

And this monster seems intent on coming back into politics. He has praised the Independent Group, which led Mike, Martin Odoni and others to ask why he should still be allowed to remain in the Labour party. It is against the rules to be a member or support a rival organisation. This was the rule the Blairites used to throw out Moshe Machover, the Israeli academic and anti-Zionist. His crime was that he had a piece published in the Morning Star, as have very many leaders and MPs over the years. Professor Machover was grudgingly readmitted to the party after a massive outcry. But Blair gives them his support, and no-one important seems to raise any objections whatsoever. The left-wing vlogger, Gordon Dimmack, says he has heard speculation that if the wretched group survives, then before long Blair will return to active politics. It’s an idea that he says gave him nightmares.

Unfortunately, I think it’s a distinct possibility. Despite the fact that his time as this country’s leader has been and gone, he was on Andrew Marr’s wretched propaganda show today. I’m glad I missed it, as it would only have infuriated me. But it does seem to bear out these rumours.

One million men, women and children killed. Seven million displaced all across the Middle East. A secular state with free healthcare and education destroyed and looted. A state where women were free to have their own careers and run businesses. Where there were no ‘peace barriers’ between Shi’a and Sunni quarters in cities to stop them murdering each other. A country whose oil reserves have been looted by the American and Saudi oil companies, and whose state industries were plundered by American multinationals.

And this creature appears on TV again, to grin his sickly smile and utter neoliberal platitudes and smooth words. But hey, you can’t criticise him, because he stands for inclusion and diversity. While parents starve themselves to feed their children, students are faced with unaffordable tuition fees and the disabled are thrown off benefits thanks to the wretched assessments and work capable tests he, Mandelson and the others in his coterie introduced.

Higgins’ poem reminds me about one of the great protest poems written back in the ’60s about another unjust war, Vietnam. This was To Whom It May Concern (Tell Me Lies About Vietnam) by Adrian Mitchell, where every stanza ended ‘Tell me lies about Vietnam’. The note about it in Colin Firth’s and Anthony Arnove’s The People Speak: Democracy Is Not A Spectator Sport states that he added stanzas later to include more leaders and more wars.

So perhaps if Blair comes back to politics we should write another: ‘Tell Me Lies About Iraq’. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two Books By Tony Benn

January 4, 2019

I hope everyone’s had a great Christmas and their New Year is off to a good start. May the shadow of Theresa May and her wretched Brexit be very far from you!

Yesterday I got through the post two secondhand books I’d ordered from Amazon by that redoubtable warrior for socialism and working people, Tony Benn. These were Arguments for Socialism, edited by Chris Mullin (Harmondsworth: Penguin 1979) and Fighting Back: Speaking Out For Socialism in the Eighties (London: Hutchinson 1988).

The two books differ slightly in that one is written from Benn’s perspective at the end of the ’70s, while the other was written nine years later at the end of the 1980s. In both Benn tackles the problems of the day, and lays out his radical, democratic socialist plans to revitalise the British economy and industry, strengthen and broaden democracy, and empower working people.

The blurb of Arguments for Socialism simply runs

Tony Benn, the most controversial figure in British politics, outlines a strong democratic-socialist approach to the most crucial issues in our political life over the next decade.

It has an introduction, and the following chapters, subdivided into smaller sections on particularly topics. These are

Section 1., ‘The Inheritance’, is composed of the following
The Inheritance of the Labour Movement
Christianity and Socialism
The Bridge between Christianity and Socialism
The Levellers and the English Democratic Tradition
Marxism and the Labour Party
Clause IV
The Labour Movement.

Section 2. ‘Issues of the 1970s’
Labour’s Industrial Programme
The Case for Change
Opening the Books
Planning Agreements and the NEB
Public Ownership
Industrial Democracy
The Upper Clyde Work-In
The Worker’s Co-ops
The Lessons of the Workers’ Co-ops
Democracy in the Public Sector

3. ‘Energy’
North Sea Oil
The Debate over Nuclear Energy
Windscale
The Fast Breeder
A Future for Coal
Alternative Sources of Energy
Conclusion

4 ‘The EEC’
Loss of Political Self-Determination
Loss of Control over the United Kingdom’s Industry and Trade
Unemployment and the EEC
After the Referendum

5. ‘Democracy’
Technology and Democracy
The Case for Open Government
How Secrecy Is Maintained at Present
Leaks and How They Occur
Conclusion

6. ‘Issues for the 1980s’
The Arguments
The Argument in Outline
The Present Crisis of Unemployment
Adam Smith and the Birth Capitalism
Lessons from the Pre-War Slump
Three Remedies on Offer
1. Monetarism
2. Corporatism
3. Democratic Socialism

7. ‘Jobs’
The Pension Funds
New Technology
Growth
The Trade Union Role in Planning
Workers’ Co-ops
A New Relationship between Labour and Capital

8. ‘The Common Market’
Three Criticisms of the EEC

9. Democracy
Open Government
The Unions
The Armed Forces
The Media
A New Role for Political Leaders.

Fighting Back’s blurb runs

With crisis after crisis rocking the country throughout the Eighties, the formation of new parties, divisions with in the old, mergers, reconciliations – British political life is at a watershed.

Tony Benn, in speeches on picket lines, at Conferences at home and abroad, in broadcasts, in the House of Commons, has been a consistently radical campaigning voice: for equal rights, for democracy and for peace against the increasingly brutal politics of monetarism, militarism and self-interest.

Fighting Back brings together for the first time in one volume the best of Tony Benn’s speeches from 1980 to 1988. Few poeple will have heard more than brief snippets of proceedings in the House of Commons given by television, radio and the press, so the most important debates are included here – the Falklands War, Westland helicopters, Fortress Wapping, Zircon and Spycatcher – as well as some lesser known concerns, from the ordination of women, to the politics of singer Paul Robeson.

Throughout the difficult years in Opposition, Tony Benn has played a leading role in defending and regenerating the socialist tradition. But Fighting Back is more than simply a personal testament: it is also an exciting and accessible handbook to the turbulent Eighties, whatever one’s political convictions.

After the introduction, it has the following chapters and subsections:

1. The Stalemate in British Politics
-Fifty Years of Consensus Rule
-The Party and the Government
-From Defeat to Victory
-Parliamentary Democracy and the Labour Movement

2. Prophetic Voices
-Positive Dissent
-Thomas Paine
-Karl Marx
-Paul Robeson
-R.H. Tawney
In Defence of British Dissidents

3. Fighting Back
-The Falklands War (April 1982)
-The Falklands War (April 1982)
-The Falklands War (May 1982)
-The Falklands War (December 1982)
-The Miners’ Strike (June 1984)
-The Miners’ Strike (September 1984)
-The Miners’ Strike (February 1985)
-Gay Rights
-Fortress Wapping (May 1986)
-Fortress Wapping (January 1987)
-The Irish Struggle for Freedom
-After Eniskillen
-Privatisation of Gas
-Legal Reform

4. British Foreign and Defence Policy
-The Case for Non-Alignment
-Who is Our Enemy?
-A New Agenda for the International Labour and Socialist Movements
-Some Facts about Defence
-Towards a Permanent New Forum
-Paying for Apartheid

5. Work and Health in a Green and Pleasant Land
-The Unemployment Tragedy
-Trade Unionism in the Eighties
-Full Employment: the Priority
-The Common Ownership of Land
-The Case Against Nuclear Power
-Nuclear Accidents
-The Nuclear Lobby
-Evidence Against Sizewell B

6. The Arrogance of Power
-The Case of Sir Anthony Blunt
-The Belgrano-Ponting Debate
-Westland Helicopters
-Surcharge and Disqualification of Councillors
-The Ordination of Women
-The Zircon Affair
-Spycatcher
-Protection of Official Information

7. Disestablishing the Establishment
-Power, Parliament and the People
-The Civil Service
-The Crown, the Church and Democratic Politics
-A Moral Crisis
-The Disestablishment of the Church of England
-Television in a Democracy
-Televising the House

8. Light at the End of the Tunnel
-The Radical Tradition: Past, Present and Future
-Staying True to the Workers
-Aims and Objectives of the Labour Party.

The Books and their Times

Arguments for Socialism comes from a time when this country had nationalised industries, strong trade unions and an efficient and effective planning apparatus. It was also when unemployment and discontent were rising, and the country was facing the threat of Thatcher and her monetarist agenda. The speeches and articles in Fighting Back come from when Thatcher had seized power, was busy privatising everything not nailed down, smashing the unions and trying to silence any dissent. This included attempts to prosecute civil servant Clive Ponting for leaking documents showing that the Argentinian warship, the General Belgrano, was actually leaving the Falklands warzone when it was attacked and sunk. Thatcher also banned the publication of Peter Wright’s Spycatcher over here, because of the embarrassing things it had to say about MI5. This turned into a massive farce as the book was widely published elsewhere, like New Zealand, meaning that foreign readers had a better understanding of the British secret state than we Brits did. It was such a ridiculous situation that Private Eye’s Willie Rushton sent it up in a book, Spythatcher.

Benn’s Beliefs on Socialism and Democracy

Benn was genuinely radical. He believed that British socialism was in danger not because it had been too radical, but because it had not been radical enough. He wished to extend nationalisation beyond the utilities that had been taken into public ownership by Attlee, and give working people a real voice in their management through the trade unions. He also fully supported the workers of three firms, who had taken over the running of their companies when management wanted to close them down, and run them as co-ops. On matters of the constitution, he wished to expand democracy by bringing in a Freedom of Information Act, strip the Crown of its remaining constitutional powers and have them invested in parliament instead, and disestablish the Church of England. He also wanted to strip the office of Prime Minister of its powers of patronage and give more to MPs. He was also firmly against the EEC and for CND. Socially, he was on the side of grassroots movements outside parliament, fully embraced gay rights and the ordination of women within the Anglican Church.

Not the Maniac He was Portrayed by the Press

He was and still is vilified for these radical views. The press, including Ian Hislop’s mighty organ, Private Eye, presented him as a ‘swivel-eyed loon’, at best a mad visionary of hopelessly unrealistic ideals. At worst he was a Communist agent of Moscow ready to destroy this country’s ability to defend itself and hand it over to rule by the Soviets.

He was, it won’t surprise you to learn, anything like that.

He was very well respected by his constituents in my part of Bristol as a very good MP and brilliant orator, and was respected even by his opponents in the city. One of the leaders of Bristol’s chamber of commerce said that he was always rational and his opinions clearly thought out. I’m a monarchist and a member of the Anglican church, and so don’t share his views on the disestablishment of the Church of England. But his arguments there are interesting.

Disestablishment of the Anglican Church

Recent calls for disestablishment have come from atheists and secularists, and Benn does use the secularist argument that privileged position of various Anglican bishops to sit in the House of Lords is unfair to those of other faiths, Roman Catholics, Protestant Nonconformists, Muslims, Jews, Hindus and Buddhists. But this argument actually comes at the end of the main body of his pieces. His main points are that the bishops shouldn’t be there, because they’re unelected, and that parliament and the prime minister, who may not be Anglicans or even Christians, have no business appointing the denomination’s clergy or deciding doctrine. It’s an argument primarily from within the Anglican church, not from someone outside, jealous of its position.

The Prime Minister against the Church and Its Members

One example of how the Prime Minister abused their position to override or impose their views against the wishes of the Church itself was when Thatcher got stroppy with the-then Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Robert Runcie. After the Falklands War, Runcie had preached a sermon saying that we should now meet the Argentinians in a spirit of reconciliation. This is what a Christian leader should say. It comes from the Sermon on the Mount: Blessed are the peacemakers, and all that. We’ve heard it several times since by great leaders like Nelson Mandela and South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. But Thatcher didn’t like it because she wanted something a bit more triumphalist. This section is also interesting because it has an interesting snippet you and I south of the Border have never heard of, except if you’re a member of the Church of Scotland. That august body at its synod overwhelmingly voted in favour of nuclear disarmament. I hadn’t heard anything about that before, and I doubt many other people outside Scotland had. And it obviously wasn’t an accident. The Tory media really didn’t want anyone else in Britain to know about it, in case they thought it might be a good idea.

It wasn’t just the Church of Scotland that were against nuclear weapons. So was a leading Roman Catholic prelate, Monsigner Bruce Kent, now, I believe, no longer a member of the priesthood. One of my aunts was a very Roman Catholic lady, who was also a member of CND. She found herself on one march next to a group of Franciscan friars. So kudos and respect to all the churches for their Christian witness on this issue.

CND, the Unions and Media Bias

On the subject of CND, Benn talks about the blatant bias of the press. All kinds of people were members of the Campaign, but when it was covered on television, what you got were a few shots of clergy like Monsignor Kent, before the camera zoomed in on the banner of the Revolutionary Communist party. CND were part of Russkie commie subversion! Except as I remember, they weren’t. The Russians didn’t like them either after they criticised their maneoevres in eastern Europe.

Benn states that the media’s bias is peculiar – its somewhere to the right of the Guardian, but slightly to the left of Thatcher. This was the attitude of the establishment generally. And it was extremely biased against the trade unions. He cites the work of Glasgow Media Studies unit, who looked at the language they used to describe industrial disputes. The language used of the trade unions always presented them as the aggressor. They ‘demanded’ and ‘threatened’, while management ‘offered’ and ‘pleaded’. He then asked hsi readers to turn the rhetoric around, so that a union asking for a pay rise of 8 per cent when inflation in 10 per cent is ‘pleading’.

The Ordination of Women

His stance on the ordination of women is equally interesting. He was obviously for it, but his arguments as you might expect were very well informed. He pointed out that women had been campaigning to be ordained in the Church since the 1920s, and that other Christian denominations, like the Congregationalists, already had women ministers. As did other Anglican churches abroad, like the Episcopalians in America. It was blocked here by the Anglo-Catholics, who fear it would stop re-union with Rome. But even here, he noted, this may not be an obstacle, citing movements for the ordination of women within Catholicism. Again, it’s an argument from within the Church, or from someone genuinely sympathetic to it, than from an outsider frustrated with the Church’s stubborn refusal to abide by secular social values, although that is also in there.

Government Secrecy

And back on the subject of government secrecy, the Zircon Affair was when Thatcher banned the transmission of an edition of the documentary programme, Secret State. I’ve put up that documentary series a few years ago on this blog, because it showed the extent to which Thatcher and others had been using the Official Secrets Act to suppress information that was embarrassing or uncomfortable. Like the fact that in a nuclear war, this country would suffer massive casualties and the obliteration of its major population centres.

The book actually contains any number of interesting snippets that definitely weren’t reported, or else were only given very tiny coverage, in the mainstream press. Like details of various incidents at nuclear plants that could have led to serious accidents. He also talks about the ‘Atoms for Peace’ programme. In this international project, we sent our nuclear material over to America, where, we were told, it would be used for peaceful purposes generating power in American reactors. Well, it was used in American reactors. They refined it into the plutonium, that was then put in American nuclear warheads and sent back over here to the US nuclear bases on British soil. He also pointed out that the agreements covering the use of Britain as a base by US forces in the event of a nuclear war also contravened our sovereignty.

Ted Heath and the EU

Loss of sovereignty was also a major part of his opposition to the EU. But he also makes the point that our entry into the Common Market was also undemocratic. Ted Heath simply decided the country was going in. Parliament was not consulted and did not vote on the issue. I do remember that there was a referendum afterwards, however.

Intelligence Agencies Smearing Labour MPs

The intelligence agencies are another threat to British democracy. He cites Peter Wright’s Spycatcher memoir on how MI5 was spreading rumours smearing the then Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, as a KGB spy. This, like much of the rest of the material in the books, has not dated. The problem of the security services smearing left-wing politicians is still very much with us, as we’ve seen from the Integrity Initiative. They’ve smeared Jeremy Corbyn as a Russian spy.

Books Still Relevant in 21st Century

I’ve only really skimmed the books so far, just reading the odd chapter, but so much of it is directly relevant now. I think if he were alive today, Benn probably would have voted ‘Leave’, but his arrangements for leaving the EU would have been far more sensible and beneficial to this country’s ordinary folk than that of Tweezer and her band of profiteers. And he is absolutely right when he writes about expanding democracy in industry. He states that the workers’ co-ops on the Clydeside and elsewhere were attacked in the press, because suddenly the British capitalist establishment were terrified because it showed that there was a genuine alternative to capitalism, and that workers could run companies.

The individual sections in these books chapters are short, and the arguments clear. He also gives point by point party programmes on particular issues, such as making this country more democratic.

Benn Democrat, Not Authoritarian Communist

And it’s this concern for democracy that most definitely marks Benn out as being a democratic socialist, not a Trotskyite or Communist. Those parties and their various sects were run according to Lenin’s principle of ‘democratic centralism’. Put simply, this meant that the party would hold some kind of open debate on issues until a decision was made. After that, the issue was closed. Anybody still holding or promoting their own opinions faced official censure or expulsion. And the Communist parties of eastern Europe would have been as frightened of Benn’s championing of democracy as the British establishment.

Conclusion

As I said, I take issue with Benn on certain issues. But his reasoning is always clear and rational, his points well argued and based in fact. Furthermore, he is impressed with the British radical tradition and how much British socialism is squarely based within it. We lost one of our greatest parliamentarians with his death.

His ideas, however, are still very relevant, and have been vindicated with time. He was right about monetarism and corporatism, about unemployment, about the need for unions, about media bias. His support of women priests and gay rights were ahead of their time, and have now become almost a commonplace, accepted by all except a few die-hard reactionaries. And he’s right about nationalisation and worker empowerment.

These are books I intend to use for my blog and its attack on Tweezer and the Tories. And I won’t be short of useful material.

Bakunin on the Sociological Origins of Crime

December 28, 2018

Here’s another passage from the anarchist Bakunin that’s still very relevant today, in Tory-run Britain. Bakunin was strongly impressed by sociology, and believed, like the French philosophes of the Enlightenment, that humanity and society were governed by laws. So strong was this belief, that he rejected free will completely. I very much reject this philosophical stance, along with his atheism and denial of divine providence, which he claimed made science impossible.

Humans do have free will and not just meat machines, running according to a set of biological or sociological imperatives, and while sociology is a powerful tool for investigating the basis of society and suggesting solutions to social problems, it’s very different from the natural sciences based on experiment and prediction. People are still responsible for their actions. Nevertheless, sociological influences are a powerful cause of crime. Bakunin discusses this in his piece ‘All Round Education’, quoting the stastician Lambert Queteler on the sociological origins of crime, which he believed were completely responsible for its incidence. Bakunin writes

A science of statistics is possible only because of this natural and social inevitability. This science is not satisfied with ascertaining and enumerating social facts but looks for their links to and correlation with the organization of society. Criminal statistics show, for example, that in a given country, in a given town, over a period of ten, twenty, thirty or more years, the same crime or misdemeanor occurs every year in the same proportion [to the total], if the fabric of society has not been altered by political and social crises. Even more remarkably, a given modus operandi recurs from year to year in the same proportion, for example, the number of poisonings, knifings, and shootings, as well as the number of suicides committed one way or another, are almost always the same. This led the famous Belgian statistician Quetelet to utter the following memorable words: ‘Society prepares the crimes while individuals merely carry them out.’

In Robert E. Cutler, Mikhail Bakunin: From Out of the Dustbin: Bakunin’s Basic Writings 1869-1871 (Ann Arbor: Ardis 1985), p. 122.

Now I can remember one of the postgraduate archaeological students at Bristol University making much the same point as Bakunin in a talk she gave explaining her research into the physical structure of one of Bristol’s historic hospitals. She said that the total number of prison and mental hospitals tends to remain the same, although the proportions of people going to one or the other changes. She went on to discuss the beneficial effects of natural light and contact with the natural world in healing hospital patients and reforming criminals. Despite pressures from government across the political spectrum to cut costs in the prison service and abolish them, prison farms have remained because of their demonstrably strong influence in reforming convicts.

At present, Britain is suffering a very high incidence of crime and suicide. The media has reported the shocking number of knife crimes in the capital. There has been a rise in hate crime, not just against ethnic minorities, including Muslims, but also against the disabled. Suicides have also increased, and as Mike, Stilloaks, Tom Pride and so many other left-wing and disability rights bloggers have pointed out, these have included disabled people, who were left in misery and starvation due to being thrown off their benefits. Several left notes explicitly stating that they were ending their lives due to sanctions by DWP, or being judged ‘fit for work’ under the Work Capability Tests.

Predictably, the Tories have held up their hands and claimed that there is no absolutely no link between their shabby, degrading and vicious welfare policies and the tragic deaths of these people.

This is a lie. The anti-immigration rhetoric and stance of many of the leaders of the ‘Leave’ campaign, and anti-EU parties and organisations like UKIP has led to an increase in racist hate crime. And the Tories are also responsible for stoking this hostility through their campaigns to get illegal immigrants to turn themselves, their attempt to deport the Windrush generation, despite the fact that they had a perfect right to stay in Britain, and the racist and islamophobic comments of many of their members. Like Boris Johnson and his wretch article describing women wearing the niqub as looking like dustbins and letterboxes. Only a tiny minority of Muslim women wear it, and many pro-Muslim political figures, like George Galloway are opposed to it. But Galloway also believed that women had a right to wear it, and condemned Johnson’s comments as racist. He was also bitterly critical of Johnson’s remarks along with many other people, including Mike on his blog, because after Johnson made them attacks on women wearing the burka increased. At least woman was killed. Despite this, the Tories concluded that BoJo’s article wasn’t racist, but ‘tolerant’ and ‘respectful’.

There have also been vicious attacks on the homeless and the disabled, again due to Tory policies and the rabid right-wing press, which demonizes the poor and the unemployed as scroungers and the disabled as malingerers. Thanks to rags like the Scum and the Heil, people believe that a quarter of all benefit claims are fraudulent, while the reality is that fake claims account for less than 1 one per cent of them.

The crime figures, and particularly the increase in hate crimes, clearly shows that the Tories have had a disastrous effect on British society, making it more suspicious, hateful and violent. Individuals are still responsible for the crimes they commit, but Quetelet’s and Bakunin’s views are correct. Society is a powerful influence in the amount of crime and suicide.

And the conclusion is undeniable: the Tories have prepared these crimes by deliberately creating a society where they are carried out, however much they scream and try to deny it. They have to be got out, before they cause any more attacks and deaths of the poorest and most vulnerable in our society.