Archive for the ‘China’ Category

Lindsay and Pluckrose on Western and Non-Western Racism

January 25, 2022

In their chapter on Critical Race Theory in Cynical Theories, Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay discuss the origins of western racism and what distinguishes it from other forms of racism elsewhere in the world. They state that modern, western pseudo-scientific racism developed in the 17th century as a way of justifying the enslavement and exploitation of Black slaves. Before then ideas of prejudice and difference centred on religion.

‘While other factors may have contributed, race and racism as we understand them today probably arose as social constructions, made by Europeans to morally justify European colonialism and the Atlantic slave trade. European historians have tracked the rise of color-based prejudice over the early modern period, from roughly 1500 to 1800, and argued that prejudice on the grounds of religious difference gave way to racism – a belief in the superiority of some races over others over the course of the seventeenth century. In order to justify the abuses of colonialism and the kidnapping, exploitation and abuse of slaves, their victims had to be regarded as inferior or subhuman (even if they had converted to Christianity). This raises a common point of confusion, because it is also undeniable that other peoples at other times practised slavery, colonialism, and even genocidal imperialism, and they justified these atrocities similarly – by characterising those they enslaved or conquered as inferior, often using characteristics like skin, hair, and eye color, which we might identify with race today. This sort of discrimination and even dehumanisation was already widespread, but in Europe and its colonies, a few key differences led to a unique analysis.’ (112).

Elsewhere they note that 3rd century AD Chinese writers, noting the existence of people with blonde hair and green eyes in the west, concluded that these people were descended from monkeys.

Chinese drawing of European sailor.

There is no doubt that Black and Asian people have suffered terrible prejudice, discrimination and exploitation, and that the current anti-racist campaigns are an attempt to correct this. But I feel that it has terribly neglected other forms of racism because these don’t fit the goals of the anti-racist activists and their prejudices. I’ve said before that Diane Abbott was asked at a political gathering what should be done about racism between BAME groups by an Asian man. She declared that she wouldn’t do anything about it, because ‘they’ would use it ‘to divide and rule’. The Asian grooming gangs seem to have been partly motivated by racism. One of the abused girls recalls being racially abused by the men when they were physically assaulting and raping her. But the grooming gangs were covered up for decades because the authorities were afraid it was start riots. And underneath the postmodernist critiques of White racism, Postcolonial Theory and Critical Race Theory, I feel there is an older, more traditional forms of racism as simple hatred of a White ‘other’.

I therefore strongly believe that if we are to combat racism, we therefore need careful scholarly research into anti-White and other forms of non-White racism and integrate this into the anti-racism movement.

FOIA Documents Show Governments and Scientists Conspired to Discredit Lab Leak Theory of Coronavirus Origins

January 13, 2022

This is another very interesting video from History Debunked’s Simon Webb. He’s not talking about race and fake history this time, but about the release of documents in America under the Freedom of Information Act that confirm that the government and leading scientists believed that it was certainly not unlikely that Covid had escaped from a Chinese lab, and deliberately lied to the public to discredit the idea. Webb states that he found it suspicious that Coronavirus emerged in bats in Wuhan, which housed the Wuhan Centre of Virology. This carried out research into both bat and the SARS virus, the family of diseases that includes Covid. He was persuaded, however, that this was nonsense by the various respectable scientific magazines such as the Lancet and New Scientist, that told the public that this was, in fact, extremely unlikable. This gave rise to a conspiracy theory that held that the disease did in fact come from a lab, and that these scientists and magazines were lying. This was attacked in turn as completely false, and coming from anti-Chinese racism.

Documents released in America under the Freedom Of Information Act have shown that many leading scientists did believe that the disease may have come from a Chinese laboratory. Apparently it’s genetic structure shows evidence of human tinkering. The government’s chief scientific advisor, Sir Patrick Valance, was himself briefed on this possibility. However, the government and scientific establishment decided that, partly from diplomacy, this possibility should not be revealed to the public. Instead it was to be criticised and discredited. Webb states that we still do not know the origins of the virus, but it is certain that there was a real conspiracy by the authorities to cover up the real possibility that it came from a Chinese laboratory.

This may be a Friend Of A Friend story, but the other week I heard from someone, who claimed to have been told it by academic scientists that he knows, that the Coronavirus not only is artificial, but it probably escaped while being tested on humans. While western germ warfare and microbiological labs test diseases on animals, the Chinese apparently test it on their own peasants. They’re inject with diseases in return for a few bags of extra rice to plant. It’s very much like the infamous Tuskeegee experiment in America, in which a group of southern Black sharecroppers were deliberately infected with syphilis and left untreated in order to monitor the spread of the disease. In return their funerals were paid for by the state.

The Tuskeegee experiment is solid, established fact. I don’t know if the Chinese really test diseases on humans, nor if the Coronavirus really was a product of the lab in Wuhan. But it seems the idea cannot be discounted. Nor can we really trust the authorities and scientific establishment to tell us the truth about it.

Instead of convincing us that such ideas are conspiracy theories in the pejorative sense, these revelations have instead done much to confirm them.

James Lindsay on Five Key Points about Critical Race Theory

January 10, 2022

James Lindsay is one of the group of academics with Peter Boghossian and Helen Pluckrose critiquing and opposing the postmodernist ideologies being introduced to undermine traditional western society. These include Queer and Critical Race Theory. These ideologies, although they seem liberal and well-intentioned, aren’t about tackling prejudice and discrimination against gay and trans people, in the case of Queer Theory, nor tackling racism in that of Critical Race Theory. Rather, they were devised as part of a Marxist strategy of reaching out to other, marginalised groups in place of the working class, in order to create a revolutionary consciousness. The goal is not to make the situation better, but to use the consciousness of discrimination, or the psychological harm done by the ideology itself, in the case of Queer Theory, to radicalise young people and turn them towards Marxist revolution. It is only after this revolution has occurred that the advocates of these theories believe issues like gay rights and racism will be properly tackled. In this video from Lindsay’s New Discourses channel on YouTube, he talks about Critical Race Theory’s five key traits and how the listener could summarise it to inform other people about the theory and its dangers.

At over 53 minutes, it’s a long video, but from the 48 minute mark Lindsay summarises the main points. This is in addition to having to be very careful about language and the way it is used and abused by the Critical Race Theorists, the fact that they are liars, and call everything racist until they control it. The points are

  1. Critical Race Theory is a form of Marxism that uses race instead of class as the governing principle of society and instrument of oppression. The theory’s use in schools is the same as Mao’s radicalisation of China’s young people during the Cultural Revolution.
  2. This racism benefits all White people, whether they are aware of it or not, or like it or not.
  3. Critical Race Theory exists to make more critical race theorists at the expense of everything else.
  4. Racism is the overwhelming cause of all inequality.
  5. Critical Race Theory influences all curricula and academic subjects in order to get itself taught, including maths.

He also makes the point that Critical Race Theory will not be removed except through a struggle. It is about race and power, and aims to monopolise the latter. It holds that racism doesn’t get better over time, but simply learns to hide itself better. In fact, it considers that racism is getting worse so that the situation now is worse than it was in the 19th century.

This all sounds like far-right paranoia, but Lindsay backs up his claims with quotations from the Critical Race Theorists themselves and other relevant Marxist ideologues, like Marcuse and Horkheimer. I also think that he and the other members of his group, while definitely not being Marxists, are liberals. Helen Pluckrose has said that she was a socialist, but now considers herself a liberal because of the need to protect free speech against these ideologies, but her political views haven’t changed. She and they have founded an organisation to help people fighting against Critical Race Theory. She states that she is certainly not an opponent of tackling racism, but regards CRT as very much the wrong way to do it.

What I find CRT’s most pernicious feature is the way it indoctrinates Blacks and other people of colour to believe that they are uniformly oppressed by Whites, and tells Whites that they are uniformly the beneficiaries of this racism and so have to acknowledge it and be regretful.

I don’t deny that racism exists and needs to be tackled. But this is just making it much worse.

Rightwingers Outraged at Acquittal of the Four Who Toppled Colston’s Statue

January 7, 2022

As a Bristolian with long personal roots in the city, I feel I’ve got to tackle this. The four people responsible for pulling the down the statue of the 18th century slave trader and philanthropist in a massive Black Lives Matter protest last year were on trial for it this week. They were charged with criminal damage, and yesterday were found ‘not guilty’ by the jury. And the right has been predictably incensed. The story’s on the front page of the Daily Mail, which reports that the jury may have been placed under pressure to acquit by the defence, which urged them ‘not to be on the wrong side of history’. The prosecution is therefore planning to appeal the decision. Nigel Farage has released a video on YouTube about it. Mixed-race Tory commenter Calvin Robinson has appeared on GB News talking about it. And inevitably the Lotus Eaters have also released a video about it, with Callum and one of Sargon’s other mates expressing their poor opinion of the whole thing. The message from the right has been the same: this decision imperils every statue in Britain, because it legitimises attacks on them through an appeal to the emotions of the attacker regardless of the letter of the law. Calvin Robinson in his interview on GB News agreed with the two journalists, one Black, one White, that you had to be very careful about limiting people’s freedom of expression. However the decision to acquit was, he explained, based on a legal loophole in the criminal damage law. This permits such damage, if the property damaged or destroyed itself serves to promote a crime. The argument made by the accused in a feature about them in the Groan was that the statue constituted a hate crime against Black Bristolians. The right-wing critics of the decision have therefore argued that this makes every statue unsafe, as an emotional reason could be found for any attack on them. The person, who vandalised Churchill’s statue last year could get off because, despite defeating Fascism, Churchill was a racist and imperialist. They have also made the point that the decision also means that Conservatives also have a right to tear down Marx’s bust in London, as he was also racist and anti-Semitic, quite apart from the millions murdered under Communism. Darren Grimes, the repulsive spawn of the Guido Fawkes site, said that he could also therefore tear down the statue of Friedrich Engels in Manchester.

Jury Freedom and the Historic Acquittal of Guilty Murderers

Yesterday Simon Webb of History Debunked also joined the debate, comparing the decision to the jury’s acquittal of the attackers of three policemen during a riot in 1820s London. The cops had been stabbed, and one killed, but the jury acquitted their attackers because the cops had attacked in a particularly aggressive and provocative manner. Webb stated that back in the 17th and 18th centuries judges could and did send juries back to reconsider their verdict, and even imprison them if they didn’t give the right verdict as directed. It was, of course, a great improvement to allow the juries the freedom to judge themselves rather than according to the opinion of the beak. But this did raise problems in cases like this. Indeed. Juries won the right to judge freely according to their own judgement following arguments for such free trials by the Levellers and particularly when William Penn, a Quaker and the founder of Pennsylvania, was put on trial for preaching his radical views in Bristol. The jury repeatedly refused the judge’s order to find guilty, and were even imprisoned. They eventually won out, and the trial helped established true British justice.

Allegations of Bias against Witness David Olasuga

One of the other objections to the trial was that one of the witnesses was the historian, David Olasuga. whom the Lotus Eaters describe as a Black activist and who admitted that, had he been able, he would have joined the mob in toppling the status. There is indeed a problem with Olasuga as some of his historical interpretations are questionable. For example, he and Reni Edo-Lodge turned up in video by the Beeb laying a plaque in Liverpool to a victim of racist lynching. Except that Wootton, the lynched man, had been part of a gang of West Indians, who had launched an attack on a group of Swedes and Russians. When a cop intervened, the West Indians repeated stabbed and tried to slash his throat. They retreated to a house where someone, probably Wootton, shot three policemen, before he was chased down to the docks trying to escape. He was hardly an innocent victim. Olasuga has been one of the Black historians claiming that historically, Britain had a much larger Black community than it probably did. He claims that there were Blacks in Roman Britain. History Debunked has shown that this largely comes from one of the legions at Hadrian’s Wall coming from the Roman province of Mauretania. This has been confused with the present day country in West Africa. However, the Roman province of Mauretania was further north in Morocco. I think there are perfectly reasonable questions of bias in Olasuga’s testimony.

Political Bias in Prosecution of Vandals

And then have come the various commenters sneering and deriding Bristol. I’ve seen the usual rants about how it’s a ‘Communist’ or ‘left-wing’ shithole; it’s a lefty university town, and as terrible as Liverpool or London. Rather more interesting was one comment from a working class Bristolian, who had been having a meal at a cafe in the city, whose customers were largely Black West Indians. These people had all been solidly against the decision. I can well believe it. I don’t think the Black community Bristol or elsewhere in our great nation is a monolithic bloc. Just like other racial groups, like Whites, Asians or Jews aren’t either. As for the four defendants, they were White middle class liberal kids, who most likely didn’t come from Bristol. There was also speculation about what would happen if someone vandalised a statue to a Black personality, like Nelson Mandela. Would this be treated the same way? Not if the example of the vandalism done to a mural of Marcus Rashford was an example. Although the messages sprayed on it weren’t racist, it was nevertheless treated as a racist hate crime. Actually, you don’t have to look that far for a similar example. After Colston’s statue was torn down, a bust in one of Bristol’s parks of a Black writer and dramatist was vandalised and the cops were after those responsible.

Some Black Bristolians Genuinely Upset at Statue

As for the feelings of fear or outrage that the defendants claimed justified the attack, the Black interviewer on GB News and Robinson both questioned whether Black people are so emotional fragile that they would be upset simply walking past Colston’s statue. Some may well not be, but others definitely were. Asher Craig, Bristol’s deputy elected mayor, head of equalities and city councillor for St. George’s, was on Radio 4 last year giving her opinion about the statue and Bristol’s historic connection to the slave trade. The programme also talked to others about it, including one ordinary Black woman. She said that she felt physically sick having to walk past it on the way to work every morning. I understand and sympathise. I think her example was far better and more persuasive than the various political activists angrily demanding that it should be torn down. It was the voice of an ordinary, working-class woman, about how the statue affected her.

Arguments for the Preservation of the Statue

It also has to be stated that Black Lives Matter’s attack was deliberately against the wishes of Bristolians themselves. There had been several polls in the past about whether the statue should be taken down or not. The majority of people voted against it. Paul Stephenson, one of the organisers of the Bristol bus boycott in the 1960s against the bus company’s refusal to employ Blacks, gave his opinion on the issue in an interview with Philippa Gregory in the 1990s. Gregory had just had her novel, A Respectable Trade, about the Bristol slave trade adapted for television and there was an exhibition about the city and slavery then at the City Museum and Art Gallery. It has since been moved and is now on display, sans title, at the city’s excellent M Shed Museum. Stephenson has something of a mixed reputation. To some he’s a respected civil rights activists, while others regard him more a deliberate troublemaker. He declared to Gregory that Colston was a bloody mass murderer responsible for a ‘Holocaust in Africa’. This follows the statement of W.E.B. DuBois, the pioneering American Black rights activist, that slavery and the slave trade were a Black Holocaust. It sounds like hyperbole, a deliberately emotional exaggeration, but I believe it’s based on the accounts of 19th century anti-slavery activists about the fierce tribal violence generated by the slave trade, and the devastation of whole regions as a result. But Stephenson also said that he didn’t think the statue should be torn down. He believed it should remain standing with an additional note to remind people of his crimes. A similar argument was made by the Lotus Eaters, who felt that statues should be left standing, even though they may be to terrible people, because they’re history. And we need to learn from history if we are to move on.

It’s a perfectly good argument, and one advanced in the ’90s by radical anarchist band The Levellers. They took their name from the radical, proto-democrat, proto-socialist sect during the British Civil War. They also believed in ‘Godly reformation’ and so, along with the other merchandising at their concerts were copies of the Bible and Christopher Hill’s Marxist study of the British Civil War, The World Turned Upside Down. I particularly remember one of their songs that had the lines ‘I believe in justice, I believe in vengeance, I believe in getting the bastard’. But they also released a song protesting about the decision by Manchester’s Labour council to rename the town’s historic Free Trade Hall. They objected to it because it was the destruction of history and an attempt to rewrite the past. It’s strange and rather disconcerting that they should have the same view on this issue from a libertarian left perspective, as the Tories.

Lastly, it needs to be remembered that Colston was not honoured for enslaving Blacks. The statue was put up long after that was over. Rather it was because he was a great philanthropist, who gave much of his fortune away in charity. There were schools named after him and funded by his largesse. My old school used to celebrate Colston Day in his honour, when the children were given a few days off. A few were specially honoured and went to a special service at Redcliffe Church, where they were given a Colston bun.

Bristol Great City

Now for a few remarks on the decision and the views of the various right-winger, who have sounded off about it. Firstly, Bristol isn’t a shithole. It’s a large, great city with a proud history of trade, exploration, industry and invention with excellent museums and theatres. The Bristol Old Vic and its theatre school have a particularly excellent reputation and have produced some of the country’s great thesps. It has it’s problems. I believe that the Bristol’s Black community is one of the three largest in the country, along with Birmingham and London. It has its problems with marginalisation, lack of educational achievement, unemployment, drugs and violent crime, though this is by no means confined simply to Blacks. But it’s not particularly left-wing. Some areas, like Stokes Croft, have a reputation for radical politics. I’ve heard local people refer to it as ‘the people’s republic of Stokes Croft’. Other areas are Conservative, and all the shades of political opinion in between.

Academic Freedom and Marxist Indoctrination at Universities

As for the universities, the comment blaming them for the decision comes from the standard right-wing attitude that the unis are full of Marxists indoctrinating students. In fact, universities, courses and individual lecturers vary immensely. Some universities had a reputation, even in my day, for being hotbeds of left-wing activism, others were more Conservative. It also varies with the course you’re on. There hasn’t, traditionally, been much opportunity for far left-wing indoctrination in maths, science, medicine and engineering courses because of the nature of those subjects. Although it’s creeping in now in the form of ethnomathematics and the demands that the achievements of Black scientists and mathematicians should be particularly taught, it’s mostly been confined to the humanities. There have always been Marxist historians. These include the very well respected Christopher Hill, Eric Hobsbawm and E.P. Saunders, and there is a specific Marxist view of history. You are taught about this on the historiography courses in history at University, along with other forms of history, such as women’s history, social history, what Butterfield called the ‘Whig view of history’ and more conservative and Conservative views. I’ve been taught by lecturers with feminist or left-wing views. I’ve also been taught by people with far more traditional views. I also know lecturer who determined to keep their political views out of the classroom. University is supposed to be a place of free speech and debate, and it’s important that this is maintained. Students should be encouraged to read sources and the historical literature critically, and make up their own views. This means an engagement with Marxism as well as other ideologies. I think Bristol university has particularly come under fire because it’s rather more conservative and traditional compared to the newer universities. It received funding from the Colston charities when it was established early in the last century. Hence I believe the granting of a chair in the history of slavery to a Black woman. It also has relatively few Black students, which contrasts with the population of the city as a whole. This is partly because it has very high standards, and as a rule Blacks generally have poorer grades than other racial groups. It is also no doubt because when I was young, going away was seen as part of university education and so you were discouraged from applying to the local university. Hence the university is now trying to give greater opportunities to study to more Blacks and ethnic minorities.

Queer Theory, Critical Race Theory and the Marxist Attack on Western Culture

Now I largely agree that the acquittal of the four defendants has set a dangerous precedent because it allows people to attack public monuments they dislike or which are controversial. James Lindsay, one of the group with Peter Boghossian and Helen Pluckrose that has attacked postmodernist Critical Theory, has argued that ideologies like Queer Theory and Critical Race Theory are deliberate attacks on traditional western culture and Enlightenment values. They are aimed at destroying the past to create a Marxist future, just as Chairman Mao did during the horrors of the Cultural Revolution. One of the ancient monuments the Red cadres smashed as part of the campaign against the ‘Four Olds’ was the tomb of Confucius! This sounds like an idea straight out of loony right-wing paranoids and conspiracists like Alex Jones and the John Birch Society, until he backs it up by reading chapter and verse from the founders of such postmodernist Marxism, like Marcuse, Horkheimer and others. And yes, I can quite believe that vandalism to a monument to a Black politico or celebrity, like Nelson Mandela, would be treated far differently and as a terrible hate crime than the attack on Colston.

But regardless of the defence’s plea to the jury to ‘be on the right side of history’, I think there would always have been pressure on the jury to acquit. Colston was a slave trader and had been controversial for decades. They naturally wouldn’t have wanted to acquit people who attacked a monument on that score, rather than the philanthropy the statue commemorated. And the defendants make a good point when they say that ‘he no longer speaks for Bristol’. There were others in the city who opposed the slave trade. As well as the slavers and the West Indian planters, Bristol also had a large abolitionist movement. If you go a little way from the centre of Bristol into Redcliffe, you’ll find the Georgian church where Jeremiah Clarkson, one of the leading 18th century abolitionists, collected the testimony of Bristol’s slavers as part of his evidence against the trade.

Other Statues Not Vandalised

As for other statues, none of those in the surrounding area were touched. Not the statue to Edmund Burke, the politician and founder of modern Conservatism through his book, Reflections on the Revolution in France. The Lotus Eaters are offering it, or reading through it, as their ‘book of the month’. I wonder if they’ll mention that Burke’s statue was signally left untouched by the rioters. As was the statue of a monk in Lewin’s Mead, which had before the Reformation been a monastic complex. They also failed to destroy the statue of Neptune and a sailor on the docks. Queen Victoria was left untouched on nearby College Green. They also didn’t destroy the statue of John Cabot outside the Council House, sorry, ‘City Hall’ and the Central Library. This was despite various ‘spokesmen’ for the Black community claiming that the City’s celebration of his discovery of Newfoundland and America, following Columbus, was a celebration of slavery. There may well be similar defences used on similar attacks on other statues, but I think such attacks will be far more difficult to defend. Churchill was indeed a racist and an imperialist, as well as personally responsible for sending troops to gun down striking miners in Wales. But to the vast majority of severely normal Brits he was also the man, who helped save Europe and the world from Nazism and the Axis. And that would also count powerfully in the case against anyone who vandalised his monument.

Historians also Successfully Defend Controversial Statues

As for testimony from historians, this can work against the iconoclasts. The BLM fanatics trying to get the statue of Cecil Rhodes torn down at Oxford university claimed that he was somehow ‘South Africa’s Adolf Hitler’. Now Rhodes was a grotty character and an imperialist, but this goes too far. Rhodes’ biographer tackled this claim on social media, at which the BLM protesters making it went quiet. They couldn’t refute it, and so went silent.

I therefore do not feel that other statues are necessarily in a greater danger than previously because of the acquittal.

Then there’s the question of any possible statue to replace it. There are rumours that it could be a Black person. Well, if there is, it should be of a Black person, who actually had contact and lived in the city. One of Bristol’s sporting heroes way back was a Black boxer. One of my aunts was friends with his daughter. I’d say this gentleman would be a good candidate for such a statue, because as a sports hero he united everyone from left and right, as well as being a citizen of Bristol.

Nigel Farage has suggested a memorial to the British navy. Absolutely. The British West India squadron did excellent work patrolling the seas for slavers. And they were by no means all racist. Captain Denman, giving evidence on a massacre of 300 unsold slaves by one of the West African slaving states to parliament, made the point that ‘it is remarkable given the advances they have made in the arts of civilisation’. He clearly believe European civilisation was superior, but had been particularly shocked because the African peoples responsible for the massacre were also comparatively civilised. Africans serving or aiding the British navy were also given the compensation payments awarded to British tars when they suffered injury and loss of limbs.

We also patrolled the waters between east Africa and India to stop western and Arab slavers, and one antipodean historian has written that in the Pacific, the royal navy was the chief protector of its indigenous peoples against enslavement.

It also needs to be remembered that one of the reasons for the British invasion of Africa was to stamp out slavery and the slave trade. I’ve no doubt that the main, if not the real reasons were simple hunger for territory and resources, and to stop those areas falling into the hands of our European imperial rivals – France, Germany, Italy and Portugal. But some of the officer involved took their duty extremely serious, such as Samuel Baker and Gordon of Khartoum. The Mahdi, against whom Gordon fought, and his followers were slavers outraged at the British government’s ban on it and the enslavement of Black Sudanese. There are therefore excellent reasons for putting up a memorial to the British navy and armed forces.

And I would also support a statue to Jeremiah Clarkson for his work in the city bringing the horrors of the trade to light.

In the meantime, despite the right-wing outrage at this act of vandalism, I think we should view the attack on Colston’s statue as a special case.

Claims of a general threat to British history because of it may well be exaggerated.

China Reinforcing Army with War Robots Along Border with India

January 1, 2022

More robot news, but this time it’s really sinister with very grave implications not just for the Indo-Chinese region, but for the survival of the human race. Because the Chinese People’s Liberation Army has just posted military robots along the Tibet border to reinforce its human personnel.

This chilling video comes from Gravitas, part of the WION, World Is One network. I started getting their reports on YouTube on my mobile. I don’t know who WION is, but the accent and the concentration on south Asia, India, Pakistan and the surrounding countries, suggests that they’re Indian. They’re interesting, as they present the news from a different national perspective. Nearly a week ago they posted a report about a special forces unit in the American army in Syria acting as a death squad through drone strikes that also killed innocent civilians as well as soldiers. It’s the kind of news al-Jazeera reports, and gets labelled as Islamist propaganda by an outraged American right for doing so. There were calls a few years ago to ban al-Jazeera in America, and I wonder how long WION and Gravitas will go on before they’re faced with similar opposition.

According to this report, China has stationed 88 ‘Sharp Claws’ war robots and 120 ‘Mule-200’ robots along the frontier. The human soldiers had trouble adjusting to the high altitude in Tibet. The Sharp Claws are true robot weapons. They consist of a machine gun mounted on tank tracks with a camera so they can see where they’re going. At the moment they’re operated remotely by a soldier, but Beijing would like to make them autonomous. The Mule 200s are transport vehicles intended to carry supplies like ammunition. Beijing is also keen to develop other autonomous robots. The army wants to develop land-based robots, the navy robot subs and their air force intelligent drones. The Chinese government roped a number of private firms into developing them, including TenCent, Waowei, and at least three others, who were all declared robot champions. The UN is concerned about the increasing use of autonomous robots, and tried to set up an international treaty to restrict them. But this failed due to lack of support from the main countries producing them, a tactic that has worked to Beijing’s advantage.

Back in the ’90s many scientists were extremely worried about the real possibility of a robot takeover. Kevin Warwick, the robotics professor at Reading University, begins his book March of the Machines, with a description of life in 2050. The machines really have taken over. Humanity has been largely wiped out, and the remaining humans are lobotomised, neutered slaves used by the machines for work in environments they cannot operate in, and in fighting those human communities that have remained free. When one company reported they were developing war robots for real, they were met with an angry response from many leading scientists telling them not to, because it would pose a real threat to the human race. Warwick was deeply depressed at the threat, and only recovered through exploring the possibility of augmenting humanity through cyborgisation. A few months ago Panorama posted a documentary, ‘Are You Worried Yet, Human?’, about China’s use of robotics and AI to control and monitor its population. And in one test, warplanes were remotely piloted, not by humans, but by a computer. This successfully shot down a piloted warplane.

This looks all too much like the scenario behind the Terminator movies, and we’re in big trouble if someone develops something like Skynet for real. As Isaac Arthur says in a video about robot rebellion in one of his Science and Futurism videos, ‘Keep them stupid, keep them dumb, else you’re under Skynet’s thumb’. Quite.

We don’t need these machines. They are a real threat to the human race. Robots operate through machine logic and programming. They don’t have the moral judgement of humans, although there has been precious little of that shown in wars. And perhaps this is why China, a totalitarian state committing genocide against the Uighurs in Sinjiang, is using them.

If we must have war robots, let them be moral, intelligent, humanoid machines like Hammerstein of the long-running 2000AD strip, ‘ABC Warriors’. A robot soldier, who fights for peace, democracy and justice against the tyrants of Earth and Mars. We need robot soldiers like him, not automatic mechanical killers, and far fewer wars and conflicts.

As Hammerstein says in the comics ‘Increase the peace’. Until we have robot warriors like him, the UN is right. Autonomous war robots need to be strictly controlled, no matter who has them.

90s Space War SF Programme’s Christmas Message of Peace

January 1, 2022

One of the things I’ve been doing over the Christmas season is watching videos of the old Science Fiction series Space: Above and Beyond on Guy With Beer’s channel on YouTube. Created by X-Files’ writers Glenn Morgan and James Wong, the show followed the adventures of a flight of American space marines fighting a future war between humanity and race of aliens known as the Chigs. Humanity was moving out into the Galaxy and was unaware of intelligent alien life, until the Chigs launched an unprovoked attack on two human colonies. The series heroes were the Wild Cards, whose members included an Asian-American, Paul Wang, a Black female engineer, Damphousse, whose father was the chief engineer in a nuclear power plant; Nathan West, an aspiring colonist for one of the attacked planets. West had been due to go there as a member of a colonising party with his girlfriend, but had lost his place due to an affirmative action programme that gave it instead to a group of in-vitros. These were artificially gestated humans developed to serve as slave labour and an unfree police force. Although now free, they were subject to massive prejudice and widespread discrimination. One of the other members of the Wild Cards, Cooper Hawkes, was one. He had escaped from the In Vitro facility after being told he was due to be killed because his natural born officers regarded him as a failure. He had been arrested by the cops simply for depending himself after a group of natural born humans tried to lynch him simply for getting a job on their building site. The judge at his trial sentenced him to join the marines. Leading the squadron was another woman, ‘Queen’ Vansen. The squadron was based on the space naval vessel, the Saratoga, commanded by Commodore Ross, a Black man, while their immediate commander, Colonel McQueen, was another in vitro. This followed the general pattern of Science Fiction of the time. Like Star Trek, it looked forward to men and women of different races working together in harmony and equality, where they were simply accepted without comment. The issues of racism, prejudice and discrimination was dealt with through the In-Vitros. Behind the scenes was the Aerotech Corporation, the space conglomerate leading the colonisation missions, which may have known far more about the Chigs than they let on. As does a blind American politico aspiring to be chief of the UN. She’s leading a peace initiative to the Chigs and their allies, the AIs, androids created as a police force, who rebelled after someone typed a virus into the computer system governing them with the message, ‘Take a chance’. When she is about to award West with a medal for protecting her against an assassination attempt, he asks if her if the rumours are true and that they knew the Chigs were out there. She says nothing more, but drops the medal on the floor and turns away from him.

The Chigs, a nickname because in their space armour they resemble Chiggers, burrowing tropical flees, remain a mystery until the very end of the series. They remain constantly hidden in their armour. Any attempt to remove it results in them dissolving into a green goo. There are hints of what they look like – the odd clawed, three fingered hand and arm is seen, but their faces are not revealed until the last two programmes when their envoy finally comes aboard the Saratoga to discuss peace terms and finally removes his mask to reveal his true alien features. They’re methane breathers, who come to a moon of their world to incubate their eggs in a special brood chamber. Allied to them are the AIs, who found sanctuary with them after escaping Earth following their defeat by the humans. These run the prisoner of war and forced labour camps, torturing their prisoners and attacking and stealing fuel and vital minerals from mining worldlets in the Oort Cloud. Both the Chigs and the AIs are utterly ruthless, killing without mercy, including the wounded.

The series only lasted for one season of 23 episodes, which seemed to be the lot of the vast majority of SF shows that weren’t Star Trek, although Farscape managed to go for four, plus the three part miniseries, The Peacekeeper Wars, and Babylon Five lasted five seasons. At the time I wondered if it was inspired by the success of the film Starship Troopers directed by Paul Verhoeven. Based on the book by Robert Heinlein, this was about a future war between a militarised humanity and the Bugs, a race of intelligent alien insects. In this future society, only those who had done their military service had the right to vote and enter politics, a view which Heinlein himself held. Verhoeven subverted this by satirically portraying them as Nazis, based on his experience of growing up in the occupied Netherlands. Heinlein also really did believe that war was ennobling experience. But I also wonder if it was partly inspired by Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War, about a thousand-year war between humanity and another alien race, the Taureans, which sees one of the recruits, who hasn’t aged thanks to relativistic time dilation, returning to a vastly changed society in which he has no place. It was SF’s treatment of the alienation and maltreatment by the armed forces many squaddies experienced in Vietnam. Space: Above and Beyond, by contrast had no explicit message about war either pro or contra. Rather it was about about a people doing their best to defend their country and planet against a ruthless, genocidal enemy. During this they see their friends die. Paul Wang, initially very religious, loses his faith due to what he has seen and done. There is the constant danger of hospitalisation and permanent trauma from PTSD. And Wang is tortured into making a propaganda video by the AIs, a tactic used by America’s enemies.

The series’ Christmas show had a rather more positive storyline in keeping with the season. It was clearly inspired by the Christmas truce between Brits and Germans at the start of the First World War, as it showed in contemporary footage in a historical flashback. The Wild Cards are sent out on sortie in one of the space Armoured Personnel Carriers. They are discovered and attacked by a Chig squadron, which abandons them for dead. Their ship is disabled and left drifting in space. The radio is damaged so that they can hear the Saratoga looking for them, but not respond. And to cap it all there’s a comet headed right at them.

They are saved when messages in garbled English started coming in for them in Morse code. These messages tell them how to repair their spacecraft enough so that they can put themselves in orbit around the comet instead of getting smashed by it. They’ve been drifting further into Chig territory, but the comet will take them away from it and back to the human lines. It looks like the person sending these messages was not human, Which means he was a Chig.

The programme ended with a written message from the cast and crew of Space: Above and Beyond wishing everyone peace during the holiday season. I thought the series had a lot of potential and was disappointed when it ended. At the time it had the same figures the X-Files had when it started, and there were rumours that it was cancelled so the X-Files could get Morgan and Wong back, but this was denied. My favourite episode was ‘Who Monitors the Birds?’, telling the story of how Hawkes escaped from the in-vitro facility. He had been marked as a failure because he observed birds flying, and had asked the commanding officer training them to be killers, ‘Who monitors the birds?’ When the officer replies, ‘I( do’, he asks, ‘But who monitors you?’ Hawkes is sent on a highly secret mission to assassinate a senior chig general. This goes wrong and his partner is killed. he therefore has to roam the planet fighting to get to the extraction point. During his journey he runs into a Chig trooper, and is about to shoot him when he sees him watching a flying, bird or bat-like creature. Hawkes pauses long enough for the Chig squaddie to move on. He later runs into the same alien again running away from a Chig patrol. They’re about to shoot each other, but put down their guns momentarily to swap dog tags and go their separate ways. Hawkes nevertheless has to shoot him during their next encounter, which naturally upsets him. Punctuating his adventures is a strange woman, appearing as a corpse with grey skin and the marks of decay. She has designs on his body and tries to thrust her attentions on him. At other times she grabs his head to show him the Chig patrols coming for him. And after he pushes her away, she vanishes into thin air. She’s silent or inaudible throughout, except at her final appearance when she says ‘Till next time then’. She is never explained, and you’re left wondering if she’s an hallucination, another alien or what. At the end of the story, Hawkes rips up the contract he was offered, in which he would gain his freedom on killing the alien general. I think it works as a stand-alone story, and is in its way a classic of SF TV, like many episodes of Dr. Who and Star Trek.

Although it was made well over 20 years ago, the series’ seasonal message still remains relevant at this Christmas season. We need peace now as much as ever, with Iran and Israel seemingly gearing up to attack each others’ nuclear facilities, tensions rising with China and with Russia over Ukraine.

May we look forward to peace this year and an easing of tensions, as programmes like Space: Above and Beyond have wished at this season.

History Debunked on the Comparative Lack of Interest in British Asian History

December 17, 2021

This is a related video to the one I put up from Simon Webb’s History Debunked this afternoon, which discussed how the Beeb had race-swapped the characters in their adaptation of Around the World in 80 Days. Phileas Fogg’s servant, Passepartout, is now Black, but the leading lady, who is Indian in the book, is now White. ‘Cause you can’t have two non-White leads apparently. Or Blacks must be given preference over Asians when it comes to casting non-White roles. In this video Webb discusses the case of Hsien Fan Sun, a Chinese gent who worked as a librarian at the court of James II. If Sun had been Black, then knowledge of him would have been promoted as it has been about Mary Seacole and John Blank, the Black trumpeter at the Tudor court. But he isn’t, because he’s Chinese. It’s another example of how, to Webb, diversity means primarily Black people. Which left me wondering why this should be so.

Racism to and Enslavement of Asian Indentured Workers

Asians have suffered their share of western racism and enslavement. During the infamous ‘coolie trade’, Asian workers from India and China were recruited as indentured labourers to work on plantations in the Caribbean, Fiji and elsewhere to replace the Black slaves, who had been emancipated. They worked in horrendous conditions, which in many cases were worse than those endured by the Black slaves. The system was widely denounced by Indian nationalists and humanitarians, including the Anglican Church and leading politicos, as ‘A New System of Slavery’. Which is the title of an excellent book on it by Hugh Tinker, published by one of the Indian presses. There were riots against the coolie trade in India and China, and the British authorities were also keen to stamp out the enslavement of Asians. The Indian police raided warehouses where Indians were being forcibly confined after they had been kidnapped, or tricked into signing indenture papers. It was such a scandal that the government issued a series of regulations demanding that Asian labourers should have access to an interpreter and understand the terms and conditions of the contract, that there should be a minimum level of acceptable living conditions aboard ships, children should be with women rather than left with the men, and a minimum number of women should emigrate with the male workers. There should also be opportunities for correspondence home and the remittance of money. I think the Britiish government first discussed the recruitment of the Chinese in particular in 1816 or so. They wanted replacements for the Black slaves, and the Chinese were decided upon because they were hardworking and less likely to complain or rebel. The prejudice against Chinese workers continued into the 20th century, when the early Labour party at one meeting denounced the government’s ‘Chinese slavery’ and put up a picture of a Chinese man. There were anti-Chinese riots in 1909, although this was caused by British firms sacking their White employees and replacing them with Chinese during an industrial dispute.

The Asian Presence in British and European History

There isn’t a total lack of interest in the Asian presence in British history. The book Under the Imperial Carpet, whose editors were Asian, also discussed Asian British history. Before the present set of ethnic minority MPs were elected in the ’70s and ’80s, Britain had BAME MPs. Webb put up a video about an Indian rajah, who became a Conservative MP in the 19th century. Other Asians became Liberal and even Communist MPs later in the early 20th. I’m not entirely surprised by the presence of Sun at James II’s court. This was the age when Europe was expanding, not just across the Atlantic, but also into Asia. The Jesuits were establishing missions in China, and scientific and technical knowledge flowed back and forth. I think the Chinese were impressed by European clockmaking, while Europeans were impressed by the Chinese skill at making automatons. By the following century upper class Europeans were consuming tea, Chinese porcelain, decorating their homes with wallpaper and furniture with Chinese art and motifs. Chinese literature was also being translated into European languages. The great religious sceptic, David Hume, read at least one Chinese novel. What impressed him was not how different it was, but how it was comprehensible, given the difference between Chinese and European culture.

Asian Stars on British Television

There are and have been Asian actors and presenters on British TV. I’ve mentioned Anita Rani, Meera Syal, Sanjeev Bhaskar and Adil Ray in my previous post. But before them there was David Yip way back in the ’70s, who starred as The Chinese Detective. Dino Shafeek and Andy Ho appeared as the Indian and Burmese staff in the comedy It Ain’t Half Hot, Mum. The classical Indian sitarist Ravi Shankar gained widespread popularity among the Hippy crowd through his friendship with Beatle George Harrison. He’s said since that this wasn’t altogether beneficial, as you should approach classical Indian music with the same attitude you approach western classical music, rather than listen to it like pop. And were any number of western groups taking over oriental instruments, like sitars, and rhythms. This in turn led to the rise of World Music, a genre that encompasses music and its performers from across continents, and which includes both traditional and more modern forms.

And there is an interest in recovering an Asian, as well as Black British past. The Black rights and history organisation with whom I briefly corresponded when I was working at the Empire and Commonwealth Museum was the Black and Asian Studies Association. Researchers on Islam in Britain, when I was studying the religion at College in the 1980s, were particularly interested in the discovery of tombs with inscription in Arabic dating from the 17th century in Yorkshire. A more recent programme on the Barbary Pirates on Radio 4 in the early part of this century suggested instead that they may have been the graves of indigenous White Brits, who had been captured by the north African pirates and forcibly converted to Islam before either escaping or being ransomed. And a year or so ago there was a programme on Radio 3 about the Muslim servant of one of the ministers responsible for carrying through the Reformation over here. There have also been history books written about ‘The Muslim Discovery of Europe’. With the rise of capitalism, the stock exchange and the nascent consumer culture in the 18th century came popular ballads celebrating how people of all races and creeds, Jew, Christian and Turk, were all united in the peaceful work of making money. I don’t think there’s any shortage of material. My great-grandfather was a docker, and I can remember my grandmother telling me about the lascar and Chinese sailors that came into Bristol docks. But in general Webb is right: as a rule diversity means Blacks rather than Asians. Why is this?

Blacks More Determined than Asians to Be A Part of Mainstream British Culture?

I think some of it may be that Blacks have a greater determination to be a conspicuous part of western culture than Asians. Blacks have certainly formed a large part of the British and American entertainment industries since White youth started tuning into Jazz in the 1920s. There were Black screen actors, although quite often the roles they were given were demeaning before Sidney Poitier revolutionised the portrayal of Blacks on screen, paving the way for contemporary Black leading men. But then, so did Bruce Lee and stars of Chinese martial arts cinema like Jackie Chan and Jet Li. And some of us still remember the TV adaptations of the Chinese classics The Water Margin and Monkey, the latter based on Wu Cheng-en’s epic novel.

I wonder if some of it may be that some Asian cultures are more inward looking, and likely to look more toward their homelands and its culture for their roots and identity than Britain. Please note: I am certainly not suggesting that they are somehow less British than the rest of us. But I can remember coming across an academic, ethnographic study British Asians entitled The Myth of Return. This probably took its title from the initial conviction among many Asian immigrants that they were coming here only to make enough money so that they could afford to retire back to their home countries in comfort. This aspiration certainly wasn’t confined to them. Many Black West Indians also shared it, as did the Irish correspondent to the Groan whose letter began, ‘Sir, I am an Irishman, who came to Britain to make enough money to go back to Ireland again.’ In the ’70s there was a difference in integration between Muslim and Christian Pakistanis. Both groups were equally Pakistani in their culture at home, but the Christians were far more integrated into wider British culture. For example, their children mixed at school with the White children. By contrast ethnographers found that the Muslims took their children straight to school and straight back, and really didn’t allow them to share the same afterschool activities as their White classmates. This might explain why there were Islamist segregationists, who wanted there to be self-governing Muslim enclaves in Britain and Belgium, with Arabic as the official language, governed by shariah law. I hasten to add that things are rather different now. There was a Big Iftar around the country, a giant feast marking the end of Ramadan, celebrated by the Muslim community, who also invited their non-Muslim neighbours to partake. And polls have shown that only five percent of British Muslims want shariah law. But I think the Asian community may be more likely to get their entertainment from their ancestral countries through the Internet, satellite TV and video and DVD.

Asians More Culturally Confident?

I also wonder if part of the answer is that Asians, and specifically Indians and Chinese, may be more culturally confident than western Blacks. India and China were highly advanced, literate civilisations with histories going back millennia. A glance through books on the history of inventions and mathematics shows any number of works and innovations by Arab, Persian, Indian and Chinese scholars. The first instance of plastic surgery, for example, comes from 8-9th century India, when one of the leading surgeons repaired the nose of a Indian princes. Muslim mathematicians and scientists studied astronomy, alchemy, medicine. And the Chinese had printing – though not with movable type, that was definitely Gutenberg’s invention – gunpowder, rockets, paper money and toilet paper, to name but a few. Sometimes this cultural confidence has formed the basis for humour. One of the characters on Goodness, Gracious Me – or was it the Kumars at No. 42? was a father, who was excessively proud of his home country’s achievements. He shouted out ‘India!’ every time various inventions were mentioned. I also remember one episode of Lovejoy in which the dodgy antique dealer was in negotiations with a Hong Kong businessman. This man was also conscious of how his country had led the world in science and invention for centuries, to the point where he believed the Chinese had more or less invented everything. At one point this is too much for his interpreter, who says to him, ‘Oh no, Mr -, I don’t think we invented motorcycles’.

Black African Cultures Less Well-Known and Admired

This is in contrast to Africa, whose great civilisations and monuments are less appreciated. Ancient Egypt has been claimed as Black civilisation by the Afro-Centrists, but this is controversial and they could well be wrong. Nubia and Meroe in what is now the Sudan died out centuries ago. Christian Nubia was conquered by the Muslims. It’s predecessors in the Sudan unfortunately spoke languages that are now extinct. The Nubians took over the culture and alphabet of the Ancient Egyptians. Frustratingly, we can read their inscriptions but have no idea what they mean until the appearance of a Rosetta Stone that will give us the key to translating them. Abyssinia was a literate, Christian empire while the Kiswahili were also an advanced Islamic civilisation. As was Mali and other states in northwest Africa. But I think these have been seen as the exceptions rather than the rule. Although many of the civilisations of north and Saharan Africa were capable of building large structures, like house and mosques from mud brick, I suspect the popular image of Africa remains that of mud huts. And until the introduction of Islam and Christianity on the continent, many of these peoples were illiterate. The result has been that the attitude of many western scholars towards African civilisation was wholly negative. The book Colour and Colour Prejudice, by the last British governor of Ghana, has page after page of quotes from various western scholars, almost all of whom declare that African culture is worthless and that the continent’s people have discovered nothing. Obvious this has been and is being challenged by Black activists and scholars.

Blacks and Affirmative Action

Much of the promotion of Blacks as a specific group has come from concern at the poor conditions of the Black community in America and Britain. Other groups have also suffered racism. I can remember one of my uncles telling me with disgust about the horrible ‘jokes’ the other White workers played on an Indian comrade. As a rule, I think Blacks are at the bottom of the racial hierarchy when it comes to academic performance and employment. Above them, but still disadvantaged, are Muslims. Indians are about the same level as Whites, or just below, while Chinese actually outperform us. Black history as a specific subject in schools is being promoted as the solution to the problems of the Black community. If Black people were aware of their achievements and presence in American and British history, then they would develop the self-respect and confidence to perform better at school, and challenge the racism that still sees them as outsiders and foreigners. Unfortunately, this has led to Black activists claiming the credit for Blacks for scientific achievements that came from others. I think the entertainment industry is part of this drive for Black empowerment too. I have a feeling that some of roles created for Black performers are intended to provide positive images of Blacks as just as urbane and middle class as everyone else. Or proper, respectable working class. I’ve no doubt its done to challenge the negative racist stereotypes Whites may hold, while at the same time hold up positive role models to the Black community. To show that Black people also live in families with fathers, where the parents are respectable, upstanding citizens who work to support their children and give them the best life they can. I’m not aware that family breakdown is the same issue in Asian communities as it is amongst Blacks and the White poor, so some of the issues that have led to a specific emphasis on Blacks in diversity may simply not be as pressing. It thus seems to me that, in general, Asians may be so much more confident in their culture that they don’t see the same urgency in establishing and insisting on their historic presence in Europe.

Blacks More Vociferous and Forceful in Attacking Racism

I also think it may also come from Blacks complaining the most forcefully about racism. One of the key events in the introduction of positive discrimination in Britain were the 1980s/81 race riots, where Black communities in Bristol, Brixton in London and Toxteth erupted in rioting. It led to various official reports, which recommended affirmative action programmes to give greater opportunities to Blacks, as was being done at the same time in America. There have been protests in the Asian community, and interethnic violence between Asians and Whites, along with Asian anti-racist activism. But I don’t recall the Asians rioting in the same way Black Brits did. And the protests held by Britain’s Muslims seem to be about specifically Islamic issues, like the publication of the Satanic Verses, the Charlie Hebdo cartoons and general Islamophobia, rather than issues like employment or education although those have also been present. As a result, I think it’s probably true that Asians are less represented than Blacks in moves for ethnic diversity, although it should be stressed that they aren’t completely absent.

But these are just my ideas based on my own impressions. I may be wrong, and there may be other factors involved. I’d be interested to know what others think about it.

As an example of a TV series with an Asian leading man, here’s the titles to the Chinese Detective, starring David Yip, which I found on Robert Telfer’s channel on YouTube. Since then we’ve had Luther, starring the awesome Idris Elba as a Black detective. I like Elba – I think he’s a great actor, who could easily play Bond. I haven’t watched Luther, however, as the crimes he investigates all seem too grim and ‘orrible, like the serial killers tracked by Linda La Plante’s heroines. But perhaps it might be time once again for an Asian detective.

Fabio Pacucci on the Science of Space Elevators

December 11, 2021

This short video comes from the TedEd channel on YouTube, presumably connected to the TED talks in which leading intellectuals and academics explain their ideas. In this case, its about space elevators. These are long cables that would carry materials and passengers up to Earth orbit. The idea was first proposed by Russian space pioneer, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, in 1895, after the deaf school teacher saw the tallest building in the world at the time. If one could be built, it would massively reduce the costs of transporting people and material to orbit. These would be taken aloft in special capsules called ‘Climbers’, which would have to be shielded against radiation to protect human passengers. At the moment, it costs SpaceX $7,600 per kilo. It’s estimated that space elevators, their immense power needs supplied either by solar energy or nuclear power, could reduce this by 95 per cent. The problem is that that at the moment there is no material strong enough to support such a building. It has been suggested that carbon monofilaments and nanotubes could provide the solution, but only tiny amounts of these have been manufactured at the moment. There is also the problem that the gravitational stresses and hence the thickness of the cable would vary with height. One solution to this problem would be to extend the cable to counterweight, either a satellite or captured asteroid in geostationary orbit 36,000 km above the Earth. The problem of keeping the tether rigid would be solved by using centrifugal force from the Earth’s spin. The station back on Terra would be best situated at the equator, and possibly a ship at sea. This would allow it mobility to avoid storms and terrible weather. It is immensely difficult to build such an elevator on Earth, but they could be built on the Moon and Mars using current technology and materials. But they’d be far more of an advantage built here on Earth. Another problem is that if the cable was cut, the effects as it fell to Earth would be catastrophic. Despite the difficulties of construction, there are companies in China and Japan planning to build them by 2050.

The idea of the space elevator has been around for some time. Arthur C. Clarke thought for a while that he had invented the idea in his book about the building of such a tower in his adopted home of Sri Lanka in his 1970s novel, The Fountains of Paradise. This lasted until he looked the idea up in the scientific literature, and found it went all the back to the Russians. It would truly be a giant leap in space exploitation and colonisation if we could build a space elevator, but I think building one by 2050 is extremely optimistic. Way back in the 1990s or the early part of this century I remember an American firm announcing they were going to develop the idea. Unfortunately one of the problems at the time is that, according to the techniques being proposed, the station back on Earth would have to be anchored by an entire mountain range. So, not really possible and that was the end anyone heard of the idea.

It’s great that research into space elevators is continuing, but I think it will be a long time before they become reality, whether built by Americans, Chinese, Japanese or whoever.

Satirical Song Spoofing Ivanka and Donald Trump: ‘My Heart Belongs To Daddy’

December 5, 2021

This is very sharp. There’s a large number of great creators on the Net posting videos of their versions of classic songs to satirise the powerful. I put up a few yesterday from Mrmenno attacking Boris Johnson and the Tories. Well, Trump handed the critics and comedians a massive amount of ammunition with his really creepy attitude to his daughter, Ivanka, when he said that if she wasn’t his daughter, he’d date her. And so a number of YouTube creators naturally came forward to sing spoof versions of the old Cole Porter hit, ‘My Heart Belongs to Daddy’ about the two.

This version comes from Sandra and Richard Riccardi, and presents Ivanka Trump as obsessed with fashion, giving business contracts to Chinese children and helping her father by translating the big words for him and hiding his dementia. While also getting him to bomb Muslims and Kurds. But she also needs her father because her husband, millionaire Israeli property developer Jared Kushner, is going to jail. This very acutely skewers not just the creepy relationship between Trump and his daughter, but also the Islamophobia, warmongering and corruption of the Trump presidency.

Racist Starmer Gives Speech to Labour Friends of Israel Next to Judaeonazi Tzipi Hotovely

November 18, 2021

Yes, I know that according to the I.H.R.A. definition of anti-Semitism, it may be anti-Semitic to compare Jews to Nazis. In the normal run of things, I’d be inclined to agree. But the term ‘Judaeonazi’ was coined by an Israeli chemist and philosopher to describe that type of militant Israeli nationalism and its attendant horror perpetrated on the Palestinians, which are exactly comparable to gentile Nazism and Fascism. Tony Greenstein has argued the case that Israel’s persecution of the Palestinians isn’t like the Holocaust, but it has very strong similarities to the Nazis’ persecution of the Jews before 1942. This was the period when Jews were rapidly stripped of their rights as Germans, had their property despoiled, were thrown out of their jobs, especially in academia and the professions. They could not hire ‘Aryan’ servants, and without any means to support themselves, were left to starve to death. Those who could emigrated. Others mistakenly stayed in Germany and Austria believing that Hitler and his scumbags were only a passing phase. And then there was the beatings and the sadistic humiliations, like being forced to push marbles along the gutter with their noses. It’s horror like this that give the lie to the claims made a few years ago by certain ‘slebs that Britain with Corbyn as head of the Labour party was somehow like the Nazi dominated central Europe of 1938. It was nowhere close, and the very claim is a grotesque smear.

Mike put up a piece today reporting and commenting on a speech Keef Stalin gave to Labour Friends of Israel. One of the other speakers apparently was the grotesque monster Tzipi Hotovely. She’s the Israeli ambassador who was given a very cold welcome by the students at LSE nearly a week ago. They were so vehement in their opposition to her presence that she ended up fleeing with her security guards and the rozzers. Patel and Nandi got on their hind legs to condemn it as intolerance, but the protest wasn’t nearly as intolerant as Hotovely herself. This is a woman who believes that Israel should occupy all of Palestine, that the Nakba, the ethnic cleansing of the country that occurred at the foundation of the Jewish state in 1948, is a ‘Palestinian lie’ and that Arab villages should be razed and Jewish settlements built instead. And her British supporters are as bad. At one Zionist demonstration at which she spoke, the crowd chanted about burning down Arab villages and in support of Kach. Kach is a terrorist organisation founded on the teaching of far right Israeli activist Meir Kahane. I’ve got a feeling Kahane was involved in the Gush Emunim attempt to bomb the Dome of the Rock mosque in Jerusalem in order to bring about a war between Islam and Israel and the return of the Messiah. Dangerous, dangerous fanatical nutters.

So what did Keef Stalin have to say for himself? Well, apparently he condemned ‘anti-Zionist anti-Semitism’. Well, the Zionist right loves to conflate the two, but they’re really separate. Zionism is an ideology, not a people or religion. It first appeared among European Christians, who wanted the Jews to relocate to the Promised Land in accordance with Biblical prophecy in order to bring about Christ’s return. It was also supported by genuine anti-Semites like Richard Wagner as a way of cleansing Europe of them. The vast majority of Jews up until World War II and its horrors wished to stay in Europe and be accepted as fellow citizens by their gentile fellows. The British Jewish establishment actually condemned the Balfour Declaration in favour of the foundation of a Jewish state in Palestine. They did so because they were afraid it would lead to gentile Brits regarding them as foreigners rather than loyal, patriotic Englishmen who happened to be Jewish. In fact Zionism was linked in many people’s minds as a form of anti-Semitism. When Herzl tried seeking the support of a German aristocrat for his Zionist programme in the 1920, the man told him he didn’t want to be involved. Far from being an anti-Semite, he was a friend of the Jews and feared that if he supported Zionism, he would be thought a Jew-hater. I admit that real anti-Semites have also been hostile to Israel – some Nazis certainly were so after the War. But Israel’s left-wing critics aren’t anti-Semitic. They include many Jews and the main, pro-Palestinian organisations, like the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, does not accept anti-Semites. Thus when Gilad Atzmon, a genuine self-hating Israeli, tried to get into one of their events he was very definitely shown the door.

Starmer also claimed that he wanted ‘every Jew to count’. So would an awful lot of Jews in the Labour party. Starmer’s and the Blairite’s vile witch hunt against critics of Israel is overwhelmingly directed against Jews. They’re five times more likely than gentiles to be accused of anti-Semitism. I’ve said over and again that these are decent, self-respecting people, who have very often lost relatives in the Holocaust and been victims of real anti-Semitic abuse and assault themselves. It also includes many gentiles, who also haven’t an anti-Semitic bone in their body and who have been very active fighting anti-Semitism and racism. Like the Black anti-racist activist smeared as an anti-Semite by Ruth Smeeth, Marc Wadsworth. These people are being silenced and horribly smeared, because they’re the wrong kind of Jews. The Board of Deputies, as one of the peeps on Twitter Mike quotes, aren’t remotely interested in defending them. Well, of course not. The Board of Deputies has been one of the organisations leading the witch hunt against critics of Israel. And the Board doesn’t represent anyone in the Jewish community except the United Synagogue. It’s a sectarian organisation that somehow claims to represent British Jewry in all its diversity, and woe to anyone who points out that Jews aren’t, and never were, a monolithic group.

Starmer goes further and talks about how he was given a ‘brilliant book’ on how Jewish racism is held to a higher standard by former comedian David Baddiel. Baddiel’s extremely intelligent and hilariously funny. I saw him at the Cheltenham Festival of Literature reading from his latest novel, Time For Bed. He had the crowd in stitches. Unfortunately, he’s another intellectual whose chosen to check his brains in over his own Zionist prejudices. Years ago he popped his head up claiming that Corbyn was anti-Semitic. Now he’s repeating the old lie that criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic because other nations aren’t held to the same standards. Cobblers. Jackie Walker has said that she became a critic of Israel through her anti-apartheid activism. She was an opponent of apartheid South Africa, as you might expect from a woman of colour, whose mother was a Civil Rights activist from Georgia, USA. She turned against Israel after a friend asked her how she could oppose South Africa but not apartheid in Israel. Good question, especially as apartheid South Africa was an ally of Israel in the 1970s.And speaking for myself, I have always opposed the Chinese occupation of Tibet. Years ago, when I was at College, I went to a performance of traditional Tibetan Buddhist music hosted by the college because I wanted to support the Tibetans’ attempts to keep their culture alive against enforced Chinese acculturation. I also don’t have any time for Turkey’s and Iran’s persecution of the Kurds nor the current Chinese regime’s genocidal persecution of the Uighurs of Sinkiang. And nor, I am sure, do any of the people criticising Israel. Tony Greenstein is a very proud anti-Fascist. He’s written a book on The Struggle Against Fascism on the South Coast and is very proud of the way the good peeps of Brighton and Hove, Jews and gentiles, stuck it to Oswald Mosley when he tried campaigning there. He opposes Zionism because it is a Jewish version of Fascism, which has internalised the anti-Semitic lie that Jews and gentiles are completely separate and never the twain can meet. The same noxious attitude behind the Nazis’ Nuremberg Laws.

And David Baddiel is hardly innocent of racism himself. Back in the ’90s he used to poke fun at a Black football player who had a rather exotic hairstyle by turning up on his and Rob Newman’s comedy programme in blackface as the character Mr. Pineapple Head. Tony’s got pictures of it up on his site somewhere. He points out that Baddield would be prosecuted for this in California, where it is illegal to mock ethnic hairstyles. I think people with daft hairstyles are fair comic material, whatever their race, but he has a point.

Which brings us on to Starmer’s attitude to Blacks and Asians. While he’s loud in condemning ‘anti-Zionist anti-Semitism’ – which he seems to believe is the only real kind of anti-Semitism – he is completely indifferent to the rather more severe racism suffered by people of colour. Now the level of deprivation and marginalisation varies with religion and ethnic group. Chinese do better academically and in employment that White Brits. Indians are about the same, or just below. But Blacks and Muslims are very definitely at the bottom of the heap. I’ve made it very clear that I have absolutely no time whatsoever for Black Lives Matter and Critical Race Theory, which I believe are distorting history to present a grotesquely anti-White ideology, as racist as the anti-Black racism they oppose. But BLM has at its root a genuine problem with Black poverty and deprivation, problems that do need to be tackled. Starmer is indifferent to this, however. He very desultorily took the knee, described it ‘as a moment’ and showed an opportunistic attitude to it. He is also indifferent to the bullying suffered by Black and Asian MPs and activists, like Diane Abbott. A third of our Muslim brothers and sisters in the party have reported islamophobic incidents, but Starmer is ignoring them. Possibly because the bullies responsible are his supporters.

He also seems to want to purge them. Last week Mike put up a piece reporting that a group of six or so Black and Asian MPs were set to be purged. These included Diane Abbott, Apsana Begum and Zara Sultana. Belfield put up a mocking video parodying Abbott claiming that she was due to retire. Well, that’s the first and only time I heard of it. I’ve mixed feelings about Abbott. She’s highly intelligent and on a good day can be brilliant. On a bad day she spouts anti-White rubbish. When Sasha Johnson was shot, the police urged people not to speculate. Abbott, however, jumped in with both feet, claiming that she been attacked by a White supremacist. It was natural, considering Johnson’s radical anti-racism, verging, in my opinion, on Black Fascism. But Johnson wasn’t shot by a white man. She was shot by four Black men, who seem to have been targeting her partner. Everything about it looks gang related rather than anything political. But Abbott wasn’t just wrong – the statement itself was dangerous. In such a tense racial situation, it would have been easy to start a riot. Mercifully it didn’t happen. More recently she gave an interview, which has been widely reposted by the right. Questioned about Labour’s immigration policy, but she meanders incoherently, mumbling first about wanting ‘free access’ before trailing off into a string of unconnected, and unfinished musings. People were asking whether she was drunk. I wondered if it was due to immense stress. She receives half of all the abusive mail sent to women MPs. She was also attacked in her own home by her drug-addict son. He went for her with a pair of scissors so that Abbott had to lock herself in the bathroom and call for the fuzz. After an incident like that, she really couldn’t be blamed if she did want to retire to concentrate more on her family.

But that’s not the reason. I suspect the reason is that she was a friend and lover of Jez Corbyn and is still his ally. And as she’s left-wing, she’s not going to be the type of Black that will appeal to all the Tory voters Starmer wishes to appeal to.

Apsana Begum may have been on the list because she was recently tried for housing benefit fraud. She blamed it on her husband, and claimed she knew nothing about it. This is quite credible, and I believe she’s been acquitted. But to the Tories she’s as guilty as sin. It wouldn’t surprise me if the ostensible reason Starmer wanted to get rid of her was because of the trial – Caesar’s wife must not only be chaste, but she must be obviously chaste, as the old saying goes. But she’s another left-winger and so has to go.

I’ve heard absolutely no reason why Zara Sultana could possibly be targeted for dismissal. In fact it seems that if she is being targeted, it’s because she’s too good at her job. She’s an intelligent Muslim woman who land very effective blows against Bozo and the damage done by four decades of Thatcherism, as well as defending her community. She’s a left-wing threat to Starmer, and if he does want to purge, that’s why. She’s doing what he should damn well be doing.

Throughout this there seems to be an attitude that Jews, especially Zionist Jews, suffer more prejudice than any other ethnic group. But the opposite is true. Years ago Quentin Letts, a long-term Mail columnist now writing for the times, produced a league table of relative deprivation among different ethnic and demographic groups in his book, Bog Standard Britain. Jews were at the top for having the most privilege, Blacks the least. Sixty per cent of Jews are upper middle class and most severely normal Brits have a positive or neutral view of their Jewish compatriots. Only 8 per cent of the British public are anti-Semites. That’s clearly too high, but I would imagine it was far less than the proportion of the British public who are prejudiced against Blacks, Asians and particularly Muslims. Years ago the French were being accused of anti-Semitism because anti-Semitic incidents supposedly received less attention than islamophobic. According to the Financial Times, which was then a liberal newspaper actually worth reading, this was because the French authorities were more concerned about the much higher level of prejudice against Muslims. Only five per cent of French folks thought that Jews weren’t really French. When you got to Muslims, the figure was 20-30 + per cent, if I remember correctly. Tommy Robinson is able to get away with his far right antics because this prejudice is shared by a certain number of Brits. But it’s a carefully selected prejudice. Robinson is very pro-Jewish and pro-Israel. He marched with the Jewish Defence League, a Jewish bunch of far right Islamophobic thugs and has said that if there was a war between Israel and the Palestinians, he’d fight for Israel. And the Alt Right just loves Israel. A year or so ago Richard Spencer, the founder of the Alt Right, the man who enthusiastically screamed ‘Hail Trump! Hail our race!’ when Trump won the presidential election, turned up on Israeli TV. No, he doesn’t despise Israel, as you’d expect from Starmer’s ghastly rhetoric. He enthusiastically supports it. He’s a ‘White Zionist’, and Israel is the type of ethnostate he’d like for White, gentile America. The anti-racist activist Matthew Collins even says that when he was in the BNP and other Nazi groups, one of his fellow stormtroopers told him privately that he really didn’t understand the hatred of the Jews. I’ve been told that one of the British Nazis even founded a group, Fascists Against Anti-Semitism, to try and persuade the British public that they weren’t all Jew-haters keen to restart the Holocaust.

Yeah, right. Pull the other one, it’s got bells on.

And there’s a section of the Jewish community that reciprocates this racism. According to Tony Greenstein, the respected Jewish historian and very establishment figure, Geoffrey Alderman, was under pressure in the 1970s to withdraw his finding in a book on the British Jewish community published in the 1970s that 2 per cent of Jews voted NF because they didn’t want their children going to school with Blacks. The call was made by the Board of Deputies, who also didn’t like Jews attending Rock Against Racism events for the ostensible reason that Jewish youth might hear anti-Zionist propaganda. I also read on Tony’s or perhaps another Jewish blog that one Jewish Conservative MP in Barnet could be seen hobnobbing with the NF/BNP thugs at elections lamenting that the Nationalist vote was split between the two parties. When you have Jewish Conservatives supporting the NF, it shows just how integrated one section of the Jewish community is and at the same time is so bonkers you wonder if you’ve wandered into a parallel reality.

This is what Starmer’s leadership stands for: racism, anti-Semitism, apartheid and ethnic cleansing. He supports a viciously persecutory state and specifically smears purges Jewish peeps who oppose it. Israel is supported by real Fascists and racists, but he tells us that it’s opponents are anti-Semites. Meanwhile he is utterly indifferent in the poverty, marginalisation and real prejudice and violence suffered by people of colour and specifically Blacks and Muslims. He appears to support rich, Zionist, Conservative Jews, rather than the 40 per cent of the Jewish population that’s as poor and squeezed as the rest of us. That part of the Jewish population that worries about rights of work, about the health service, how they will pay for social care, whether they can afford to put food on the table and the disgrace of an immensely wealthy nation like Britain feeding the poor, the disabled and the unemployed through food banks rather than a functioning welfare state. You know, the same type of issues that caused Jews to join trade unions, found socialist groups and join the Labour party in the first place. The same Jews who are concerned about the government’s increasingly stringent asylum policy, and who are also concerned about the rise of Islamophobia and other forms of racism. You know, traditional Jewish Labour, who share the same fears and aspirations as the wider traditional members of the party. The people Starmer wants to purge.

The good peeps on Twitter haven’t been slow to condemn Starmer’s wretched speech. Go to Mike’s piece to read what such awesome peeps as Another Angry Voice, Jackie Walker – whose tweet also contains a clip of Starmer’s rant – Owen Jones, Barnaby Raine, David Rosenberg, Heather Mendick, Aaron Bastani, Ammar Kazmi, Simon Maginn, Tom London, and Chris Williamson, amongst many others, have to say about it.

Starmer is a racist disgrace. He should not be in the Labour party, yet alone its leader. If anything, he should be goose-stepping about with Tommy Robinson and the wretched EDL.