Archive for the ‘Banks’ Category

The Economic Falsehoods Behind ‘Expansionary Austerity’

January 23, 2023

Expansionary Austerity is one of the discredited and utterly falsified economic theories the Australian economist John Quiggin attacks in his book Zombie Economics (Princeton: Princeton University Press 2010). It’s the idea that savagely cutting government expenditure will somehow restore economic growth. It was the policy adopted by governments across the world, including Dave Cameron’s Conservative administration in Britain, to save the global economy after it had been comprehensively trashed by the banksters in 2008. It was based on the theories of Albert Alesina and a number of co-authors, most notably Sylvia Ardagna and their study of how austerity had supposedly benefited various countries, Tales of Fiscal Adjustment: Can Austerity Be Expansionary. One of the countries examined in their study was Quiggin’s own, Australia. He went back and looked at what they said about it, and found that it was riddled with inaccuracies and errors. He gives the following examples to show how seriously, seriously flawed their study was:

*Alexina and Ardagna attribute the policy of austerity to “a leftwing government elected in 1985.” In fact, the government was elected in early 1983 at the depths of a severe recession. It implemented an expansionary fiscal policy. The recovery was well under way when the government took measures, beginning in 1984, to wind back the budget deficit.

  • Alesina and Ardagna assert that the main budget savings came from “cuts in transfer programmes …. mainly concentrated on unemployment insurance.” Spending on unemployment benefits fell but not because of cuts. The unemployment rate was falling, and expenditure on benefits declined as a result. This is the standard Keynesian “automatic stabilizers” at work.
  • Most strikingly of all they write, “Australia is a clear case of an ‘expansionary fiscal contraction.’ GDP grew faster during and in the aftermath of the adjustment, both in absolute terms and relative to the G7 countries. A private investment boom was associated with profits and easier access to credit following the financial deregulation process that took place in 1985-6. ‘ This is like the story of the man who jumps off a tall buiilding and says, as he passes the 25th floor, “All good so far.” Writing a decade later, in 1998, Alesina and Ardagna must surely have been aware that, almost immediately after their story ends, Australia entered the worst recession in postwar history.’ (pp.225-6).

Quiggin continues

‘Australia’s recession was triggered by contractionary monetary policy, but its severity resulted primarily from the collapse of the investment boom mentioned by Alesina and Ardagna. The boom was dominated by speculative investment projects undertaken by so-called entrepreneurs who took advantage of financial deregulation to build conglomerate empires that failed in the crisis, almost taking down the banking system with them. The Australian experience of the 1980s was a preview of what would happen in the United States and Europe in the 2000s.

To sum up, the tale told by Alesina and Ardagna bears no relation to the actual history of Australia in the 1980s. The most revealing point about their account is their eagerness to shift the burden of adjustment to a crisis onto its most vulnerable victims-the unemployed. In this respect, the literature on expansionary austerity of which this paper was a part might have served as a warning of the brutal policies that were to be adopted in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis.’ (p. 226).

Quiggin then goes on to discuss the global financial crisis and the austerity programmes that followed, showing how they were failures. These policies were nevertheless pushed because they allowed the 1 per cent elite to expand their wealth and power against everyone else. The chapter concludes by showing how the crisis could have been solved using Keynesian economics.

Despite the Tories’ pronouncements that austerity has ended, I’ve seen no evidence that this is the case. They continued to cut public expending catastrophically until forced to do the reverse by the Covid pandemic. And now that the world is going back to some semblance of normality, they’re going to return to it.

The working people of Britain and the west have been forced into poverty and starvation through nonsensical policies based on bad, massively inaccurate and biased research. It’s time austerity was discarded and Keynsianism, with a proper welfare state, was restored.

The Ideas of 19th Century French Socialist Louis Blanc

January 17, 2023

Plamenatz’s book, Man & Society: From Montesquieu to the Early Socialists, also contains a paragraph on the ideas of Louis Blanc. Blanc was a French socialist best known for creating the National Workshops established by the French government during the 1848 revolution. These were intended to be cooperatives set up by the government to provide work for the employed. They would use part of their profits in buying up other workshops and so expanding this socialised sector of the economy. In practice the scheme was handed over to civil servants, who were resolutely opposed to them. The result was that the work offered by them was mostly in menial tasks like digging ditches. They were not very popular and rapidly closed down. However, there was more to Blanc’s socialism than the Workshops, and his views are very similar to those of 20th century social democrats. By which I mean real social democrats, who believe in a mixed economy, rather than the Labour right which has fallen over itself embracing neoliberalism.

Plamenatz writes of Blanc

‘Louis Blanc wanted the state to control all the banks, the factories, the railways, the insurance companies and the larger commercial enterprises; and he also wanted manhood suffrage. Small businesses should remain in private hands. Like many social democrats in the west today, he called for an economy divided into a ‘private’ and ‘public sector’, over which the State should exercise a general control. But he never really went into the question of how the State should manage the economy and the public sector, and how this management could be reconciled with effective democracy. He also neglected the question put by Saint-Simon: ‘What is the structure of authority appropriate to a large-scale economy, centrally controlled?’ (pp.286-7).

I like the idea of the National Workshops and really wish they’d been a success, though it was inevitable that the conservative ministers and civil servants put in charge of them should be determined to run them down. I also prefer his version of socialism that leaves room for a private sector. Some things, I believe, are better off in the hands of private industry and I think there should be a sphere outside the control of the state in which a person’s business is his or her own, in contrast to the mass, totalitarian societies of communism.

Starmer’s Shadow Health Secretary, Wes Streeting, Receives Donation from American Private Healthcare Firm

January 16, 2023

Some of the great commenters on this blog have been discussing the danger that Keir Starmer, once in power, will push through even more privatisation of the NHS like his Thatcherite predecessor, Tony Blair. In June last year, Left Horizons published an article reposted from the Skwawkbox reporting that his noxious Shadow Health Secretary, Wes Streeting, had received a £15,000 donation from a hedge fund which owns one of the giant American private healthcare firms, which is involved in the privatisation of the NHS. The article, ‘Shadow Health Secretary, Wes Streeting, takes donation from Tory donor with private health interests’, begins

‘Keir Starmer’s Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting accepted £15,000 from a donor with huge interests in privatised health care. The Electoral Commission’s register of donations shows that Streeting reported the receipt in January 2022 of the donation from John Armitage, a hedge fund founder and manager who has given over £3 million to the Tories.

Armitage, ranked number 138 on the 2021 Times ‘rich list’, is co-founder and director of the Egerton Capital hedge fund. According to the HedgeFollow site, among its almost £19bn of investments, Armitage’s fund owns shares worth almost £834m in UnitedHealth (UH), a vast US private health corporation that has spent millions lobbying US politicians for its interests. NHS campaigners told Skwawkbox that UH has played a key role in the ‘americanisation’ of the NHS that began under New Labour and continued apace under the Tories:

*the Health and Care Bill has just put into law an American scheme reducing state-funded services to profitable standards and pushing patients to pay for the rest, by rewarding providers who cut ‘unprofitable’ care (known as ACOs or ICSs)
*UnitedHealth was among the companies who developed this system with New Labour. Blair advisor Simon Stevens even became UnitedHealth CEO, before being appointed by the Tories to run the NHS to push through their ‘reforms’
*UnitedHealth subsidiary Optum is ’embedded in the whole process’. Optum was accused in a 2019 Science Magazine study of racial bias in its systems that result in less money being allocated for the care of black patients. Optum responded that its systems help “clinicians provide more effective patient care every day“’

The article states that the donation has raised concerns among NHS supporters trying to protect the service’s mission to provide medical care free at the point of delivery.

It also notes that Streeting was approached for comment, but didn’t reply.

Correct, Not Political Pushing the Anti-Semitic Conspiracy Theory of the Kalergi Plan and the Great Replacement

January 13, 2023

More overt fascism from the channel that has begun its livestreams with footage of Oswald Mosley and his stormtroopers goose-stepping about. This afternoon they put up a meme supposedly showing that present mass migration to the west is all due to the Kalergi plan as part of a UN-backed ‘Great Replacement’, financed by the Rothschilds, the Baruchs and the Warburgs. In other words, it’s just a new wrinkle on the old conspiracy theory about the UN one-world dictatorship plotted by Jewish bankers. Lobster put up a review of a book on Richard Von Kalergi a few years ago, and I put up a post about it. Kalergi did believe that countries should include different ethnic groups, but for quite different reasons from those attributed to him by the paranoids. He was writing after the First World War, and believed that countries would be less likely to go to war on each other if their opponents contained members of their people. It’s about preserving peace in Europe, not replacing its people. As for his connection to the EU, I think he was just one of a number of political thinkers at about that time who were trying to create a pan-European state in order to protect international peace, and I don’t think he had much success or influence on the EU architects. If you want to find the ultimate roots of the EU, it’s possible that it’s derived from Kant’s On Perpetual Peace, in which he argued that the world should be organised into a federation of states. This was back in the 18th century, long before mass migration from outside Europe.

The meme also states that the UN calls this migration ‘the Great Replacement’. I’m sceptical about this, as I understood the term was invented in 2012 by a far-right Frenchman. In any case, ‘the Great Replacement’ is just another version of the old Fascist myth that the Jews are encouraging Black and Asian immigration to destroy the White race. I’m quite prepared to believe that the UN has declared criticism of its migration laws hate speech out of concern for the refugees subject to racist attacks.

As well as this fascist nonsense, their lead man also says in the comments that he hates David Bowie and Mick Jagger because they were Satanists. I don’t know about Jagger, but there was a vogue for the occult among some rockers at one time, including Bowie. There’s supposed to be a lot of occult material in his last album, Black Star. But I’m not sure if you could call him a Satanist. The late 19th-early 20th century occult society, the Golden Dawn, was mostly composed of High Church Anglicans, who were very definitely not Satanists, with the exception of the vehemently anti-Christian Alistair Crowley.

Gladstone’s Defence of Jewish Emancipation

January 13, 2023

Among the various texts and speeches in Alan Bullock’s and Maurice Shock’s The Liberal Tradition from Fox to Keynes is one of Gladstone’s advocating Jewish emancipation. Traditionally Jews, along with Roman Catholics and Protestant Dissenters had been legally barred from public politics and offices through the Test and Corporation Acts. During the 19th century these legal disabilities were removed so that the members of these religious groups were able to vote and hold public offices, serving as MPs and local councillors. When it came to the Jews, Gladstone made a brilliant speech urging their emancipation and rebutting the various prejudices against them. These were that they hated Christians, had no love for the country and were money-grubbing. Gladstone attacked these by saying that if Jews hated Christians, it was because Christians had persecuted them. If they had no love for their country, it was because their country still only half accepted them. And they were only money-grubbing because banking had been the only profession they had been allowed to pursue. But the Jews were nevertheless a great people, and he compared their glorious past, when they possessed the splendid temple in Jerusalem and merchants fleets plying the seas, when at the time the British were still savages living in mud huts.

Gladstone is something of a paradoxical figure. He started as a right-wing Anglican before moving left and becoming one of the leading voices for the non-conformist conscience. He also wanted the disestablishment of the Anglican church and Home Rule for Ireland. If he’d been able to get it, this may well have prevented so much violence and bitterness this past century. He believed strongly in political freedom and the Liberals were critics of imperialism, but it was during Gladstone’s tenure as prime minister that the British empire expanded the most.

I felt I should put up a piece about him and his defence of the Jewish people and their freedom, because last year following Black Lives Matter and the current debate over slavery there were a couple of attempts to remove memorials to him. The students at one of the Liverpudlian universities decided to rename one of their halls of residence named after him because his family had got their wealth from slavery. The new hall was instead named after a Black communist woman schoolteacher. I’m sure she was a fine and inspiring lady, but she’s not in the same league as Gladstone. In London, Sadiq Khan’s decision to rename public amenities according to the present ethnic composition of their areas lead to an activist coming into a number of schools in Black and Asian majority areas to urge that the local park, named after Gladstone, should be renamed. Two of the suggestions were ‘BAME Park’ and that it should be renamed after Diane Abbott. Again, as one of Britain’s first Black MPs, she deserves to be memorialised, but again, she isn’t a political titan like Gladstone.

People are not responsible for the actions of their ancestors, and however much we despise the source of his wealth, Gladstone was not only one of Britain’s greatest prime ministers, but one of the 19th century architects of British liberty and democratic institutions. People need to know far more about him, and the other great politicians, rather than having him erased from public memory because of present controversies over the source of their money. Because if people like Gladstone are removed from public memory, so too is their achievement in helping to build a free Britain in which people can express their hatred of slavery and tyranny.

That Preston Journalist Accuses Starmer of Being a Tory: He’s Right!

January 10, 2023

The very right wing That Preston Journalist has taken time off from sniping and criticising Nicola Sturgeon, and instead fixed his sights on Keir Starmer. Earlier this evening he posted a video stating very clearly that Starmer was a Tory. The thumbnail for this is a meme which shows a rubber plant on one side, and a Tory plant, Starmer, on the other. It’s very short, just 1 minute 44 seconds. The Journalist’s reason for calling Starmer a Tory was the Labour leader’s statement that the NHS needed reform. Although met with a chorus of criticism, Preston Man believes this is glaringly obvious. I agree. It is obvious, and the real solution would be to renationalise it and clear out the private medical companies and advisors who are a waste of money. But unfortunately I suspect this is not Starmer’s view, and that he really wants to follow his wretched, squalid hero Tony Blair and push the health service’s privatisation even further. But Preston Hack also believes that Starmer’s a Tory because of what he said about being fiscally prudent. Starmer stated that he was against austerity, had always been against austerity, but in government they would be careful about expenditure. They would be prudent. This, you will remember, was Gordon Brown’s mantra when he was chancellor: ‘We will be prudent’. He said this so often that according to Private Eye the assembled gentlemen and women of the press started calling him Dear Prudence after the Beatles song. Personally, I preferred ‘Help’ and ‘Helter Skelter’. As a Chancellor, who kept tight control of expenditure in order to avoid the boom and bust cycle, Brown was successful. That is until the bankers went berserk and almost destroyed capitalism. Brown prevented it by injecting our own reserves, for which he’s been blamed for wrecking our economy. But I really believe there would have been global financial collapse if he hadn’t.

And it remains the case that the bankers’ disastrous antics were exploited by the Tories, keen to push through austerity and punish ordinary people in the name of further enriching the superrich. But we were all in it together, as Cameron lied.

The trouble is, Blair and Brown were both neoliberal pushing through Tory policies of privatisation and welfare cuts. Moreover, by the time Brown got his feet into No. 10, New Labour had outlived any popularity with the British public. They were fed up with its managerialism, the spin, the condescension towards working class voters, Blair’s warmongering, the cuts to welfare services and hospital closures. I think Brown also put people off with his surly demeanour, although how much of that was real and how much an false image manufactured by the right-wing press is open to debate. He did not himself no favours by referring to an elderly lady, objecting to eastern European immigrants, as ‘some bigot’ when he thought the camera and microphone were off. But I think this may have been the last nail in his electoral coffin.

But back to Starmer, it really does look to me that once he’s in power, it’s going to be Blairite Tory politics as normal. Some of the great commenters here have suggested that the best policy would be to get him into power then bash him. At the moment, I think that is the best policy, considering that there are no alternatives and another round of Tory government would destroy this country. But I am not optimistic about Starmer’s government.

John Bird and John Fortune Skewer the Iraq Invasion: Yes, It Was All About Oil

January 10, 2023

The satirist and actor John Bird passed away just a week or so ago over Christmas. As well as appearing in the short-lived BBC comedy series Chambers and Absolute Power, he and John Fortune appeared on Bremner, Bird and Fortune on Channel 4 as ‘The Long Johns’, whose satirical dialogues expertly lampooned the rich and powerful. This had the same view Private Eye’s Ian Hislop stated on a radio 4 show some time ago, that satire should also have a serious intent and show what was really going on underneath the surface. It was incisive, witty stuff that revealed the reality behind the fine words uttered by politicians, businessmen and elite bankers to show the greed, double-standards and predatory exploitation underneath. Many of the dialogues had a simple formula. They took turns playing George Parr, who changed his profession to match the topic of the day. One week he could be a general, another an admiral, or a senior civil servant. Other characters included Washington diplomats and the dictator of an anonymous African country, who was happy to see his people mired in starvation and poverty so long as he could take the money from the Chinese building his nation’s infrastructure. The other John would play a journalist interviewing him. The questions would result in bizarre denials from the official, which would show the contradictions in the official’s story or decision and lead to them actually revealing the real reasons for the decision or policy in spite of themselves.

In this piece from 2007, posted on theDossier’s YouTube Channel, the two discuss the-then recent admission by Alan Greenspan, the head of the Federal Reserve in America, that it was embarrassing to have to admit it, but yes, the Iraq invasion really was all about oil. As everyone knew. The official denies that this was the case, pointing out that before the war Blair had passed a resolution stipulating that the oil reserves should stay in Iraqi hands. This was revoked a year later after the war, when Blair passed another resolution saying that the allies should have it for safekeeping or something. As a measure of generosity, the allies allowed the Iraqis to keep 17 oil wells out of a total of 80, and promised to give 20 per cent of the profits from their oil fields to the Iraqi government. Iraq nevertheless contains an extremely large proportion of the world’s oil, whose worth is in the trillions.

The former Guardian journo Greg Palast amply demonstrated in his book, Armed Madhouse, that the Iraq war was an attempt by the American and Saudi oil industries to seize the Iraqi oil fields and their wealth, as well as the Neo-Cons attempting to seize the country’s state industries for America and create the kind of low tax state founded on free trade they wished to see in America. The result was the absolute collapse of the Iraqi economy with soaring bankruptcies and unemployment. Not to mention the chaos and bloodshed caused by the war and the sectarian violence that followed it, and the unrestrained, murderous, Nazi criminality of the private military contractors – read: mercenaries – who were hired by the Americans as part of the peace-keeping forces.

This is political satire at it’s best, and some of the commenters on YouTube have compared Bird and Fortune with the superb BBC comedy, Yes, Minister, which is also still relevant even after all these decades. John Fortune died some years ago, and was much missed, as John Bird will be, for his part in these dialogues. You wonder what they’d have to say about Sunak and the present government. It, and it’s equally incompetent and corrupt predecessors, would have been excellent material for them to send up.

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.

Hatey Katie Goes Tinfoil Hat over Lockdown and NHS Totalitarianism

December 28, 2022

Katie Hopkins has raised her head again. There was a video posted on YouTube last night of her talking to an ‘entrepreneur’ of some sort, which promised its viewers that she would reveal who was really controlling the world. Yes! We’re back to raving conspiracy theory paranoia of the time John Ronson explored a decade or so ago in his Channel 4 series, Secret Rulers of the World and accompanying book, Them! Adventures with Extremists. So, who did Katie think was secretly pulling the strings to establish the One World Satanic Communist superstate? Was it Klaus Schwab and the World Economic Forum at Davos? The Bilderberg group? The Trilateral Commission? International finance capital, in other words, the Jewish banking conspiracy? Reptoid aliens? I’m afraid I can’t tell you, because I didn’t get that far into the video before I’d had enough.

Hopkins started off by attacking the Covid lockdown, claiming that it was an opportunistic exercise in totalitarian social control using the Wuhan virus as a pretext. It was a test to see if they really could isolate people in their own homes. The NHS and socialised medicine was part of this conspiracy, because everyone’s concerned with their health. And this is why Joe Biden is so keen on introducing it in America. Really? I had no idea. It always struck me that Biden was a bog-standard American corporatist. The only trace of radicalism I’ve seen in the old boy is his support for the trans ideology through the appointment of Rachel Levine, a transwoman, as Surgeon General and a non-binary chap as head of the programme to dispose of nuclear waste. That’s it. I’ve seen no evidence he wants socialised medicine in the US. I’d have more respect for him if he did.

As for the NHS as an instrument of totalitarianism, this is pure Reaganite, libertarian twaddle. Way back in the 1970s Reagan gave a stirring speech about the need to defend freedom against state totalitarianism. This sounds all very well, but it was an attack on Medicaid, the state programme that provides medical care to elderly citizens that can’t afford it. I’ve also had American commenters state that the NHS must be against human freedom, because doctors are employed by the state, therefore they must have the same power as other state officials like the police or the government, and so you have to do exactly as they say. Um, no, you don’t. They don’t have that power. You don’t have to take their advice, and for serious treatment, like long term cancer care, you have to sign consent forms. Of course, you’d be daft if you ignored their advice, especially when it comes to serious illnesses like cancer. But you’re still a free individual.

This is, of course, the kind of crass stupidity Alex Jones peddles with his rants against the globalists, when he isn’t maligning bereaved parents of the victims of school shootings as crisis actors, screaming that the government is about to take away Americans’ guns, and that the government is about to call an environmental emergency and force everyone into refugee camps in order to establish a totalitarian state. Despite having been dumped by various media companies for her toxic views, particularly about race, Hopkins is still going the rounds. She was doing shows with Alex Belfield, the ‘Voice of Reason’, now doing time for internet stalking.

Despite her poisonous views, I don’t want to see her banned. There’s too much internet censorship, particularly of those on the left. I just want people to realise for themselves how nasty and toxic she is. I think she’s still making a nice living for herself, because she reflects some peoples’ fears of immigration and, like Belfield, attacks the bonkers part of the woke ideology. But beyond that there’s a general contempt for working people, regardless of colour. And it doesn’t matter how much they might agree with her about the threat of illegal immigrants, gay policemen and the transgender ideology, if she had her way the people, who go to see would be deprived of proper medical care. It would all be privatised and they’d be unable to afford it. Just as they wouldn’t have any employment rights or unemployment benefits, because she’d remove all the welfare legislation that they think is being exploited by chavs and benefit scroungers. If enough people realised that, hopefully stop supporting her and she might have to do a real job for once.

The Stupidity of Black Anti-Semitism

December 23, 2022

Last week, the American rapper Kanye ‘Ye’ West successfully managed to torpedo his career and popularity by making stupid and bigoted comments about Jews. Unfortunately he isn’t the only person to hold stupid and malign anti-Semitic beliefs. His comments, however, led to one YouTuber putting up a half-hour long video examining whether Michael Jackson was anti-Semitic. I don’t know whether Jackson was or wasn’t. He may have been, but at the end of his life one of his friends or associates was, I believe, a rabbi, Shmuely Boteach. This suggests he probably wasn’t, or if he was, that any anti-Semitic views he had may have been nuanced and riddled with exceptions. But I confess, I didn’t watch that part of the video because I’m not that interested in Michael Jackson. As far as I’m concerned, Jackson was an immensely talented musician and dancer, but a deeply flawed human being. He seemed to me to be a perpetual child, surrounding himself with toys and exotic animals, and his musical achievements are tarnished by the accusations of child abuse.

What I found interesting instead was the beginning of the video, which included clips of other rappers and Black musicians airing their prejudices and negative opinions about the Jews. Many of them were complaints that they were being exploited by the music industry, which they believed was run by the Jews. I dare say that there may be a higher proportion of Jews in the music business, as there supposedly is or has been with the film industry. But this doesn’t come from any kind of stupid conspiracy to control the media. It’s simply because the entertainment industry, by and large, was more tolerant of Jews than other sectors of society. As for exploitation, there are any number of White musicians as well who’ve fallen out with the record label and feel they’ve been cheated on issues of recording rights and royalties. Where this has occurred, it’s been because their managers or the recording companies are acting as exploitative individuals. Again, it’s got nothing at all to do with race, and everything to do with the fact that there are people in every industry who will try to exploit and cheat their clients.

The video began with Professor Griff, who was sacked from NWA because of his anti-Semitic views, and included a clip of Griff explaining them and the circumstances of his sudden exit from the band. And from what he said, Griff certainly appeared to have genuinely Nazi views. He claimed he carried a library of books on them around in a suitcase, in order to educated people, and he’d lay them out on a table. These included such classic anti-Semitic texts as Henry Ford’s The International Jew. Ford was certainly a member of the extreme right. He hated socialism and trade unions, as well as Jews and Lord knows who else. I think he was a favourite of Hitler and the Nazis, who also believed that Blacks were racially inferior. One nasty piece of Nazi doctrine, according to Orwell, was that Blacks could interbreed with gorillas. I really do wonder why any self-respecting person of colour would read anything by people who believed such vile rubbish.

He then came out with some of the class anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, like the Jews caused World War II. This is still being repeated by White fascists after Hitler and Oswald Mosley over here in the UK. No, the Jews had nothing to do with it. The War started because Hitler invaded Poland, thus provoking France and Britain who had made pledged themselves to defend the country.

He also talked about the Rothschild’s and other Jewish banks extending credit and loans to Nazi Germany. This is true. They did, along with a number of other big American companies like IBM. This has absolutely nothing to do with the owners of these banks being Jewish. It’s simply because they, and the other gentile-owned companies that did business with the Nazis, were run by utterly amoral people who cared only about profit. Their dealing with the Nazi was naturally deeply and bitterly resented by ordinary Jewish peeps. And it should be a problem for any daft conspiracy theories about a secret Jewish plot to gain global domination. I really don’t understand how that can be squared with Jewish banks, which are an integral part of this putative conspiracy, collaborating with a regime dedicated to destroying their people. There are attempts to do this, in which a distinction is drawn between the Jewish elite behind the conspiracy and normal, decent Jews, but it’s still an obvious, glaring inconsistency that should show that the conspiracy theory is utter nonsense.

I do wonder where this anti-Semitism in parts of Black popular culture comes from. The Nation of Islam and Louis Farrakhan are one source. Farrakhan blames the Jews for the slave trade and in the 1980s a ‘historical research institute’ connected with the sect published a book promoting this idea. Proper historians of the slave trade dismiss the idea. Very few of the merchants involved in the trade in America were Jewish. I think Hugh Thomas says there were just four in his excellent book The Slave Trade. There were Jewish financiers involved, but again I don’t think there were that many. And as has been pointed out by historians of transatlantic slavery and anti-racist activists, they were employed by Christian princes.

I do wonder if some of this Jew-hatred comes from racial politics in Harlem during the 1920s and ’30s. The book Colour Prejudice notes that there was considerable anti-Semitism among Harlem’s Black community. This might come from the fact that many of the stores were White-owned, and despite selling to a Black clientele they wouldn’t employ Black staff. This resulted in a concerted campaign by an alliance of Black labour organisations against the policy. They organised a boycott of these stores under the slogan ‘Don’t Buy Where You Can’t Work’. One of the leaders of the boycott was Sufi Abdul Hamid, a colourful figure who dressed in exotic eastern robes. He was another native-born Black American, who had converted to a form of Islam. Hamid was particularly vehement against the Jewish owners of such stores, as well as Greeks and Italians, who he derided as ‘spaghetti-slingers’. The boycott was successful, but Hamid lost control of the movement because the other leaders were acutely embarrassed by his racism. See the chapter on Hamid and his literary followers, ‘”In Turban and Gorgeous Robe”: Claude McKay, Black Fascism and Labor’ in Mark Christian Thompson, Black Fascisms: African American Literature and Culture Between the Wars (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press 2007), 87-116.

And against ideas of a Jewish racial antipathy towards Blacks, there’s the long history of Jewish support for the Black Civil Rights movement. Many Jews worked as social workers, school teachers and other professionals within the Black community and so were deeply sympathetic to their cause. The awesome Black Jewish pro-Palestinian activist, Jackie Walker, is an example of this. Her mother was a Black civil rights activist from Georgia and her father was a Russian Jew. Her parents met at a rally by the Communist party. I’ve forgotten the fellow’s name, but one of the Jewish supporters and campaigners for the civil rights of Black Americans was a rabbi.

Griff’s endorsement of Ford’s wretched tome did confirm something that I’ve suspected: that Black anti-Semites were also reading and being influenced by White racists. The same thing appears to be the case in much Afrocentric literature about ancient Egypt being the source of both European and African civilisation. It’s based on long out-disproven theories by White colonial anthropologists, for whom the Egyptians were White Hamites, who spread southward and colonised the continent. The Black Afrocentrists who took over this view simply flipped the races, so that the Egyptians were Black. The result, however, was much the same in that the indigenous African peoples were denied the credit for their own cultural achievement made independently of Egypt, whatever skin colour the Egyptians had.

If the ultimate source of Black American anti-Semitism does come from the racial politics of pre-World War II Harlem, then it’s profoundly depressing that it should still cast a shadow over race relations nearly a century later. Quite apart from the fact that no-one, of any colour, should believe Nazi conspiratorial rubbish.