Archive for the ‘Czechoslovakia’ Category

Al-Jazeera Documentary on Nazism in Hungary

December 1, 2018

This is a very serious video from the Arab news agency, Al-Jazeera, looking at the rise of Fascism in Viktor Orban’s Hungary. It concentrates on the paramilitary sports organization, the Highwaymen’s Army, which is affiliated to the Nazi group Force and Determination, talking to some of its members and showing them training and attending rallies and Hungarian heritage events.

The Highwaymen’s Army

The Highwaymen’s Army is the second largest Nazi organization in the country, and many of its members are former policemen and soldiers. It’s small, with a membership of about a thousand men, formed by Laszlo Toroczkai, the mayor of a town on the Serbian border. He’s one of the main figures in Hungarian Fascism, and has a formed a new party, My Homeland, to appeal to young people. The young people interviewed say that there’s a war going on against the White race, and complain that you can say anything you want, except if you’re White, heterosexual and Christian. They discuss studying political science at university and prospect of careers as Far Right politicians. One of them says that of the 1,000 men in the movement, 700 are ‘complete idiots’, ‘all those alcoholic skinheads’. I’d say that’s a very low estimate. I’d say that out of those thousand people, all thousand are going to be complete morons, regardless of whether they’re shaven-headed drunks. They state that mass immigration has resulted in a clash of cultures, and that the culture ‘invading’ them is not comfortable with European culture.

Orban and Anti-Immigration

There’s footage of Orban, the country’s Far Right president from the Fidesz Party at a rally declaring that Europe is being invaded, and if they let it, tens of millions of migrants will come from Africa and the Middle East, leaving White western young people a minority in their own countries.

It discusses how Hungary was the first country to close its borders, preventing immigrants from entering or leaving, in response to the mass immigration from Syria in 2015, and one of the Fascists interview speaks of his disgust at the immigrants at the railway station throwing back the food and water they’d been given.

Another speaker, Gaspar Tamas, a philosopher and political scientist, who is clearly an anti-Fascist, states that the fear of ethnic minorities is traditional in Hungary, and formed the basis of its policies for 140 years. The fear that they will be swamped by foreigners is found everywhere and at all times, but in eastern Europe goes all the way back to the Ottoman conquests of the Balkans in the 15th-17th centuries. Tamas states that it’s now a myth, as no-one’s threatening Hungary. But it’s the one topic everyone’s talking about.

The documentary states that in 2017 the EU tried to prosecute Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary for not taking in any refugees.

Soros as the Bogeyman of the Anti-Semitic Right

Another commenter states that because there are no immigrants in Hungary, Orban had to invent a new enemy, that of the financier and philanthropist George Soros. Orban has declared that Soros is interfering in Hungarian politics in order to bring immigrants into the country to destroy its people, culture and Christian identity. Tamas explains that Soros is hated and reviled because he supports human rights groups and free university education, which are resented anyway. But they’ve gone back to the old, vile conspiracy theory which explains everything from capitalism to socialism, from Fremenism to human rights, as part of a plot of by the Jews. The film shows posters all over Hungary attacking Soros.

It then moves back to one of the Fascists, who states very clearly that the Jews are exploiting Hungary and influencing its politics. They are the creators of the global financial crisis as part of their plans. He declares his hatred of them, says they should be excluded from public life, and doesn’t consider them human. He says he thinks Hitler’s programme was perfect, and nationalism put Germany back in order, creating a good economy, industry and prosperity from nothing. This is real, deeply chilling anti-Semitism, not the stupid, malign lies of the Israel lobby against decent people in England.

The film explains that most of the local papers in Hungary are owned by companies that support the government, but the Fascists complain that they still don’t know where to look for good information because of the diet of official lies. Which is clearly ironic, given that the government is also extremely right-wing. It shows a group of young Fascists going on a vigilante patrol through one of the towns at night, looking for ‘degenerates’ – drug addicts and drunks. They state that if they find anyone like this, they tell them to calm down and go home, and call the police if they don’t. There’s no hint that they do anything else in the film, but even so, you’re left wondering if they don’t go further and behave like Nazis everywhere behave when they come across something they despise, and start beating their victims up.

They also discuss their problems with Gypsies, saying that the areas in Budapest occupied by the Romany have the highest crime rates, and that Magyars and Romanies cannot live together in peace.

The Need for Belonging

A commenter says that most of the young people who join these groups do so for a sense of belonging, not because they believe in the ideology. But once they’ve joined, step by step they come to believe in the ideas of the group. The young lads in the group thank the Almighty that their country isn’t a war zone like central London, and state that they’re trying to preserve their Christian values – temperance, honesty and bravery. They talk about temperance in respect to dealing with the ‘degenerates’. They say they’ll try to talk to them, but if they attack them, they fight back.

The documentary then shows the Kurultaj cultural festival, where Hungarians dress up and celebrate the Huns and their leader, Atilla, from whom many Hungarians believe they are descended. It’s a belief which is rejected by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. The festival shows displays of horsemanship, archery and traditional dances by people in Hunnish costume. At this event, campaigner collect signatures for a petition protesting against the Treaty of Trianon of 1920, the treaty after the First World War that resulted in Hungary losing 2/3 of its territory.

The Effects of the Collapse of Communism and the 2008 Crash

Another commenter states that many people in Hungary now feel abandoned, and so look book on an idealized past when everything was beautiful and perfect, when people had jobs and Hungary was a European power.

The documentary then shows one of the Fascists walking around his old neighbourhood, an area of apartment blocks surrounded by green spaces and trees. He tells how everything fell apart with the collapse of Communism, and the promises made were not fulfilled. The film states that after Communism collapsed, the economy shrank by 20 per cent, and only regained its pre-1989 levels ten years later. It’s now a prosperous area, but the local people can’t afford the new homes being built. They’re bought by the rich from the capital, as well as wealthy Russians and Germans. The documentary states that before the financial crash of 2008, many Hungarians were encouraged to take out their mortgages in Euros. When the crash came, the value of the Hungarian currency collapsed and the cost of the mortgages increased massively, becoming unaffordable. The Fascist states that his parents owned a flat, but had to sell it. It wiped out a lifetime of work. He came home from work to find his parents crying, and says he wouldn’t wish that on his worst enemy. He states that he felt angry, and that it became clear to him that the Jews were behind it, which made him go down his path towards Fascism.

Homophobia and Anti-Gay Pride Concerts

The film then moves to a mass Fascist counter-protest against a Budapest Gay Pride rally. This attracts a mob wearing Black T-shirts, some of them Ultra football hooligans, and bikers in leather waistcoats. They chant ‘Dirty fa***ts’ and ‘Hey, Hey, you’re nothing!’. One of them declares that no-one respects normality anymore. Another man states that there’s no Adam and Bill in the Bible, only Adam and Eve. They also chant ‘Ban it!’ and ‘Hungary! Hungary!’. The MC at the anti-Gay Pride Concert, the speakers blaring out Heavy Metal, declares that gay people shouldn’t come there, as they can’t guarantee their safety. With every gay person, society loses a potential husband or wife. Another Fascist says that in his opinion, the homosexuals are being used as tools to force something unnatural down peoples’ throats. During the concert the crowd starts making the right-armed Nazi salute. Another black-shirted young man holds his right arm crossed against his chest, in what appears to be another nationalist salute. The guy has the same chillingly blank yet fanatical expression on his face that you see on photographs of German Nazis from the Third Reich.

Conclusion: Hungarian Fascism

Gaspar Tamas appears again to state that the new Fascism isn’t like the old. They’re aren’t triumphal marches or dreams of world conquest. It’s simply an uneventful glide towards the precipice. He states that it was dangerous ten years ago. Now it’s here. The film ends with one of the interviewed Nazis denying that he’s homophobic, xenophobic or a Nazi, and people will get nowhere calling him that, although he’s willing to have a debate. He’s just, he says, a guy who has love, for his nationality, his religion and his race. He’s just, he says, an 18 year old guy.

I’m not surprised at the resurgence of the Far Right in eastern Europe. Many of these countries, like Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, were for centuries subject to foreign domination. They were ruled by Germany, Austria and Russia, and had to fight hard for their independence and to retain their own ethnic identity and language. And there are still anxieties about its loss. In Hungary, for example, schoolchildren were taught ‘We are Hungarian. We speak Hungarian’, and the loss of two-thirds of the county’s territory, including to Romania, is felt very deeply.

The Hungarians were oppressed under Communism. Janos Kadar, the dictator after the Hungarian uprising, was a Stalinist thug. An underground Hungarian writer had a poem, in which he looks down at his shoes, and finds that, as he still has shoelaces, he isn’t in prison. It’s an ironic statement on the lack of freedom in Communist Hungarian society. But its people had jobs and some measure of prosperity, which was destroyed with the move to capitalism. There result was massive psychological dislocation. And with the effects of the 2008 crash, the old resentment against Jews and the nonsense about the Jewish banking conspiracy has returned.

As for Orban and Fidesz, they’re using Soros in the same way that Big Brother uses Bernstein in Orwell’s novel, 1984. It’s the way Stalin blamed everything wrong with his Communist order in the USSR on Trotsky, but this time from a Fascist, rather than Marxist viewpoint. It’s the four-minute hate with jackboots.

One of the anti-Fascist commenters at the start states that if you want to see Europe’s future, look at Hungary. And they have a point. An increasing number of people in Europe and America do believe that their countries are being invaded by unassimilable, mostly Muslim immigrants from Africa and the Middle East. They have swallowed the lie of White genocide, and the stupid idea that behind all this is a Jewish conspiracy. And there were people in this country who looked with fear on the migrants, who made their way up through the Balkans towards wester Europe in 2015.

This is the reality that David Rosenberg, one of the left-wing, socialist, anti-Zionist bloggers is trying to warn us about. There is a rising threat to Jews in eastern Europe. But it’s denied by the Israel lobby in this country, because these regimes buy arms from Israel. So they can’t be anti-Semitic.

Every one of us, who loves democracy and racial pluralism, needs to unite to fight this, before it overtakes Europe and America, and the horrors of Nazism return.

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Karl Wilhelm Nageli and Purposeful Mutation

November 11, 2018

I found this very interesting piece on the 19th century biologist, Karl Wilhelm Nageli, and August Weismann in Richard L. Gregory’s Mind In Science (London: Penguin 1981). The modern theory of evolution, NeoDarwinism, is essentially a mixture of Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection mixed with Mendelian genetics. Roughly speaking, it views evolution as proceeding through random mutations. These supply the variations in species on which natural selection works, weeding out those varieties that don’t help the species to survive. Those that do, or at least don’t stop it surviving, are preserved and retained. Thus the little alterations in the characteristics of different species are created, which gradually accumulate over millennia and millions of years to produce new species of creature.

Darwin, however, didn’t know about heredity, which was introduced into his evolutionary theory by Weismann. He had developed the germ plasm theory, which was the precursor to the modern theory of DNA, famously discovered by Crick and Watson. Darwin also didn’t know about mutations either. He believed that heredity was a blending of the characteristics of the parents. I’ve got a feeling this was one of the arguments his opponents may have used against his theory, and that Darwin probably recognized the weakness of his theory there. At the time Darwin proposed his theory of evolution, I don’t think he was properly able to account for the emergence of novel characteristics in living creatures, on which natural selection acted.

It was Karl Wilhelm Nageli, who did this by introducing mutations into evolutionary theory, while rejecting Darwin’s idea of Natural Selection. Unlike evolutionary biologists after him, however, Nageli believed that these mutations had a purpose. It was the Dutch biologist Hugo de Vries, who introduced Mendelian genetics and the variation of characteristics into Darwinian evolutionary theory. Gregory explains it thus:

Neo-Darwinism adds to Darwinian Natural Selection a theory of heredity, which is itself derived from the, at the time (and perhaps still), controversial writings of the German biologist August Weismann (1834-1914). His papers (1868-76), translated into English as Studies in the Theory of Descent, (1882) proposed properties of a germ plasm which are similar to the fundamental doctrine of molecular biology, that information can only genetically pass from coded DNA to messenger RNA, and not the other way round. This genetic ‘diode’ rejects Lamarckian inheritance of individually acquired knowledge, or adaptive behavior. But we jump ahead, for Darwin had no knowledge of genes or mutations of genes.

The concept of evolution by mutational jumps is due to a Swiss botanist, Karl Wilhelm Nageli (1817). Nageli however rejected Darwin’s theory, for he supposed that there is a purpose in the direction of the jumps. He is heavily criticized for failing to appreciate the significance of Mendel’s work. He was shown the manuscript of Mendel’s paper describing his experiments on the breeding of giant and dwarf peas; his lack of interest is supposed to have prevented the work becoming known so that genetics was held up by some fifty years. Nageli’s concept of mutational jumps, but without built-in directional purpose, was developed by De Vries early in the present century.

Gregor Johan Mendel (1822-84) was an Augustinian monk. At the Abbey of St Thomas in Brunn, [Brno] he carried out his plant-breeding experiments, which depended on counting the proportions of tall and dwarf peas obtained by self-pollination. He found that the varieties did not converge to a medium-height pea plant, but that the tall and dwarf characteristics were maintained, and potentially present, in each variety. This was immensely important for Darwin’s theory, but unfortunately Darwin never came to hear of it.

The mutation theory was developed by the Dutch botanist Hugo De Vreis (1848-1935) who approached Mendel’s discovery by seeing that something like it was needed to give the variataion necessary for Natural Selection. He proposed that different characteristics might vary independently, and recombine in different ways. So was born the atomic-characteristic theory of inheritance, which later was embodied in gene and chromosome code structures – from which in turn developed modern molecular biology with the discovery by Francis Crick (b. 1916) and James Watson (b. 1928) of the structure of the long helical molecules of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). This, by replication, gives the physical basis of inheritance. Random change of the DNA structure give the variation necessary for Natural Selection. The drama of this discovery is superbly presented by Watson in The Double Helix (1968). (pp. 170-1).

Back in the 1980s, the astronomers Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe attacked Darwinian evolutionary theory in their book, Evolution from Space. In their previous book, Life Cloud, they had argued that life on Earth was seeded on Earth from space. While it’s an unorthodox theory, many scientists do believe that such panspermia, as it’s called, is a possibility. And the amino acids which form the basic building blocks of organic life has been found in meteorites, on Saturn’s moon, Titan, and in the nebulae, the clouds of dust and gas in space. What is far more controversial, and has been rejected by nearly all scientists, is their theory in Evolution from Space that the chance of organic life arising on Earth, and developing through Darwinian evolution, is so minute that evolution has to be directed by alien civilisations seeding space with the necessary genetic material.

In one passage in Evolution from Space, Hoyle and Wickramasinghe take the incidence of mutations in every generation, only a minority of which could be beneficial, and the combined length of time from the split, early in our evolutionary history, between the hominid lineage and the common ancestor of chimpanzees and gorillas 9 million years to argue that even this amount of time is insufficient to produce modern Homo Sapiens Sapiens, modern humanity. I’ve no doubt that this was immensely controversial and has been widely criticized and dismissed. It’s been taken up again more recently by the Intelligent Design people. And it wasn’t the weirdest of Hoyle’s and Wickramasinghe’s ideas. I think they also believed that the civilisations seeding this genetic material were computers in parallel universes. But if they are right after all, and random mutation can’t account for the development of the vast variety of living creatures we see around us, then it may be that it proceeds through purposeful mutations after all.

Going back to Nageli, even if his own theory of evolution has been discarded except for the idea of mutational jumps, I would far, far rather believe that evolution and the mutations necessary for it were shaped and guided by a loving creator, than are simply the result of blind chance as describes by Richard Dawkins in his book, The Blind Watchmaker.

Jewish Comics Artist Eli Valley Attacks the ‘Kapo’ Insult Hurled by Zionists

November 8, 2018

It must be the week for comics and the Israel lobby. This time last week the bug-eyed Zionists of JVLWatch tried again to smear Mike as an anti-Semite using his ‘Hardboiled Hitler’ strip from Violent. Violent is Mike’s small-press homage to the 1970s comic, Action, which caused outraged and ended up being banned because of its violent content. In ‘Hardboiled Hitler’, Mike satirizes the Fuehrer, presenting him as a superhero, who is nevertheless a grotesque, posturing, inept, flatulent clown. The flatulence is entirely historically accurate. Hitler suffered from meteorism – chronic flatulence. Apparently it got very loud and nasty when he was in full rant. JVLWatch, whoever they are, tried to present the strip as a glorification of the Nazi regime and that the poisonous clouds surrounding Hitler represented the gas chambers used to murder the Jews. They weren’t. The noxious fumes surrounding Hitler all came from the Fuehrer’s bottom, and very definitely didn’t make him look at all heroic or glamorous. Various newspapers have also tried to make the same claim that Mike’s anti-Semitic using the strip. And as Mike says, when he complained to the press-regulator IPSO about them, the regulator dismissed their claims out of hand.

On Tuesday Tony Greenstein put up on his blog a page of art by the American left-wing Jewish comic artist and writer, Eli Valley, published in Jewish Currents, attacking the ‘Kapo’ insult. The Kapos were the heads of the Warsaw ghetto under the Third Reich. The Nazis cruelly delegated to them the responsibility of choosing which of their community should be sent to the extermination camps, which they did under duress. If the leaders refused, the SS would have attacked and killed everyone there.

Since then it’s become an insult the Israel lobby hurls at those Jews, who criticize Israel and Zionism for its crimes against the Palestinians. In the page reproduced by Greenstein, Valley turns the insult around and hurls it back at them, showing how the Zionists deserve the epithet far more than the people they slander. He explains how he was once attacked in this way by the editor of the Jewish magazine, Commentary, because he published a story about a Jew’s crisis of conscience after Israeli settlers burned alive a Palestinian child. The current Israeli ambassador to Israel also used it against the centre-left Jews of J-Street. He goes on to make the point that the Israeli right believe that the lessons of the Holocaust are that gentiles will always hate Jews, who must survive by any means necessary. That means attacking as treason even objection to the most Fascistic forms of Israeli nationalism. Hence Netanyahu joined demonstration attacking Yitzhak Rabin as a Nazi.

But to Valley, the real Kapos are the supporters of Trump and Netanyahu, the people who support Trump’s separation of immigrant children from their parents in his own concentration camps on the Mexican border. He shows the similarity between recent American immigrants, who have committed suicide fearing deportation, and those Jews who did the same in Franco’s Spain fearing that they would be sent back to the Third Reich. He also attacks the Orthodox Union for its award to Trump’s politico, Jeff Sessions. American Jews, he argues, have forgotten the other lesson of the Holocaust, that atrocities like this should never again happen to anyone, anywhere, ever again.At the heart of this problem is the way the Jewish community has allowed Jewish identity to be defined by a mainly Zionist, Orthodox right-wing minority. The result is that the Jewish community has internalized this view, and sees themselves through its lens. Hence when Jews declared that they felt ashamed to be Jewish after Israeli snipers killed over a hundred Gazans, this showed that they had accepted the belief that only Israel embodied authentic Jewish values. The strip concludes by that Jews need to take control of the vernacular to express the values they share, and use it to excommunicate people like arch-Zionist Trump supporter, Sheldon Adelson. Valley concludes by comparing them to the real Kapos, who had no choice about their collaboration with the Nazis. He states of the Zionists and other Jews supporting Trump ‘Kapo doesn’t begin to plumb the depths of their betrayal.’

It’s strong stuff which makes an excellent point, particularly because of Trump’s own connections to and support for the genuine anti-Semites of the extreme right. Greenstein also provides a link in his article to the webpages for Valley and his work. Valley’s published a collection of his strips from over the years, Diaspora Boy, in which he attacks right-wing abuse and corruption in the Jewish community and wider American society. The webpages also have samples of his work. And along with the critical praise is a quotation from a very offended person, who felt that it shouldn’t have been published anywhere. Valley’s been compared to Robert Crumb, but that’s not quite right. His view of society and humanity is as bleak and vicious as Crumb’s, but his style is more like that of Charles Burns in his 1990s alternative comic, Skin Deep.

Greenstein also adds more awkward facts to support Valley’s view of Zionists as the real Kapos. Like the Ha’avara agreement between the Nazis and Israel in 1933 that broke the international Jewish boycott of Nazi Germany and the suppression of the Auschwitz Protocols by Hungarian Zionist Erich Kasztner in order to preserve a treaty between them and the Nazis. He describes how the founder of Zionism, Theodor Herzl, came to believe that anti-Semitism was inevitable and couldn’t be fought when he was in France during the Dreyfus scandal. Hence the head of the Israeli Labor Party, Avi Gabbay, told American Jews that the real place was in Israel after the Pittsburgh massacre on Saturday. And how Berl Katznelson, the founder of the Israeli party Mapai, declared the Nazi seizure of power in 1933 was an opportunity for the Jews to build and flourish as never before, at a time when the rest of German Jewry were preparing to protest. This is also the reason why Ben Gurion opposed the Kindertransport evacuating Jewish children from Nazi Germany to Britain, because they wouldn’t be taking them to Israel. As for the real Kapos, Greenstein writes

The kapos were themselves prisoners who were destined for extermination. They had no control over their situation and their collaboration, if that is what it was, was forced. Who knows what any of us would do in such a situation? The Jewish Agency was under no such compulsion yet it willingly collaborated lobbying the Gestapo not to allow Jewish emigration to countries other than Palestine.

He then goes on to discuss the way members of the Fascist right, like Britain First, are accusing genuine anti-racists of racism, and how the National Front and BNP try to present themselves as protecting British Whites from Black racism. He also mentions how Zionists frequently tell their Jewish opponents that they wish they and their families had died in the Holocaust. One of the victims of this vile abuse was Aurora Levins Morales, a Black Jewish New Yorker.

He also attacks James Dyer, a Christian Zionist and member of the Sussex Friends of Israel – a group that’s also close to the EDL – who called him a ‘Kapo’. He goes on to connect him to Christian millennialist support for Zionism, which believes that the foundation of Israel is part of the End Times. Before Christ returns, however, the world will suffer a great tribulation. And in the Book of Revelation this will result in the destruction of the vast majority of Jews, except a small number who convert to Christianity. One of the most prominent Right-wing American Christian leaders is Jack Hagee, the head of Christians United for Israel, who also believes that Hitler did God’s work. He’s one of the two pastors Trump has appointed as ambassadors to Israel. He goes on to connect this with Christian anti-Semitism during the Third Reich, such as the German Lutheran church’s installation of the pro-Nazi bishop, Ludwig Muller as Reich Bishop, and Monsignor Tiso, the Roman Catholic prelate in Slovakia who presided over the deportations to the death camps there. He concludes

It is therefore no surprise that today the successors of Muller and Tiso are to be found supporting the Zionists and decrying any notion of Palestinian rights. It is even less of a surprise that they assuage their consciences with the taunt of ‘Kapo’.

http://azvsas.blogspot.com/2018/11/kapo-anti-semitic-insult-that-zionists.html

To be fair to Hagee, he’s not the only person, who believed that Hitler did God’s work. Apart from Hitler himself, I think Holocaust survivor and acclaimed author Elie Wiesel also stated that Hitler was God’s servant, based on the way God in the Old Testament uses foreign invaders like the Assyrians and Babylonians to punish Israel before punishing them in turn. Wiesel, incidentally, was certainly no self-hating Jew. He was a staunch supporter of Israel, who never criticized its brutal maltreatment of the Palestinians.

And Christian Zionism has been attacked for its racism and distorted theology by the Christians of the American Presbyterian Church in several books, which have been reviewed by the Electronic Intifada, and which I’ve blogged about.

But Greenstein’s article and Valley’s cartoons show very graphically how the real Kapos and collaborators with Fascism are the Zionists, both Jewish and Christian.

Private Eye on Sunday Times’ Smear of Michael Foot as KGB Agent

October 3, 2018

The media this week has been full of the news about a book about the KGB defector, Oleg Gordievsky. Gordievsky was a high-ranking KGB officer, whose father was also a KGB officer, and who had been slated to be the next chief of the Soviet spy agency and secret police. When he defected, Gordievsky brought with him whole dossiers of KGB records, which were invaluable for ending the Cold War. However, Gordievsky himself was a self-admitted liar. And one of those lies was that the former leader of the Labour party, Michael Foot, was a KGB agent codenamed ‘Comrade Boot’.

This falsehood was published in 1995 by the Times, and was promptly answered by a libel action by Foot and a cover by Private Eye sending the whole thing up. Foot won the case, and the Eye also published an article taking apart the whole story and exposing the Times’ article for the libel it was.

Now with the publication of the new biography, the Sunday Times has decided to repeat the libel again. And Private Eye has responded again with another article effectively demolishing this sorry piece of gutter journalism. The piece was published in last fortnight’s Eye for the 21 September to 4 October 2018, and entitled ‘Shooting Yourself in the Foot’, and runs

<strong>”MI6 believed Michael Foot was paid Soviet informant,” a Times front-page headline announced last Saturday. “Truth about former Labour leader emerges 23 years after he sued Sunday Times for libel.” The editor of the Times, John Witherow, also published the Sunday Times story about the former Labour leader in 1995 – and is clearly still sore about the embarrassment and ridicule it earned him.

It’s not only the editor, it’s the same story-based entirely on a claim by former double agent Oleg Gordievsky that he once saw a KGB file marked “Agent Boot”, which apparently referred to Michael Foot. The only difference is that the previous version was taken from Gordievsky’s memoirs while the latest one comes from a new biography of the spy.

According to the Times, The book “presents the first corroboration by MI6 officers of the allegations made by the Soviet defector”. No it doesn’t, at least not in the normal meaning of corroboration, ie additional proof or confirmation. In 1995 the Sunday Times reported Gordievsky’s allegation that the KGB regarded Foot as an agent of influence; now the Times says some people in MI6 thought the Russians regarded him as an agent of influence. And why did they think that? Because, er, Gordievsky had told them so. In short, not a smidgin of supporting evidence has “emerged” since Witherow last ran the story.

At the time of the earlier farrago, the Sunday Times claimed that it was “based on interviews with Gordievsky and six other former KGB officers”. But it omitted to add that only Gordievsky believed in “Agent Boot”. Although the paper claimed that the London-based KGB colonel Mikhail Lyubimov had recruited Foot, Lyubimov himself promptly denied it.

So the allegations were not made by “the KGB”, as Witherow told his readers 23 years ago and again last Saturday. They came solely from a single ex-KGB man, Gordievsky – whose unreliability was officially confirmed in May 1995, just three months after the Sunday Times splash, by the then solicitor-general Sir Derek Spencer. Speaking on behalf of the government during an appeal by Michael Smith, who had been convicted of spying for the Russians, Spencer told the Lord Chief Justice that some boasts made by Gordievsky in his memoirs were “not correct”. He described one of Gordievsky’s claims, about identifying undercover KGB agents to his British controllers, as “another exaggeration”. As the judge observed: “He must have lied to everybody at one time or another.”

With just one witness to rely one, it’s no surprise that Witherow and the Sunday Times couldn’t defend a libel action against Foot. More surprising is that the editor is now repeating even the most egregious howlers from his previous debacle. According to the 1995 story, for instance, Foot regarded Moscow as “a beacon of world peace” until 1968, when the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia brought him “down to earth with a bump” and he ceased to be a fellow-traveler. Exactly the same narrative appeared in last Saturday’s Times. From the 1940s to the 1960s, it claimed, Foot was an “agent of influence” who could be “fed pro-Soviet ideas and reproduce them in articles and speeches” – but in 1968 he became “intensely critical of Moscow in the wake of the Prague Spring”. After that, his “enthusiasm for the Soviet Union appears to have waned”.

The claim that Foot was a pro-Soviet mouthpiece until 1968 is easily disproved. As long ago as 1946, a Labour MP wrote to Tribune complaining of the “jaundiced prejudice against Russia” in Foot’s articles. In 1948, soon after becoming Tribune’s editor, he published a leader attacking left-wingers who “are still gulled by the monstrous delusion that the Russians are the friends, not the enemies, of democratic socialism”. During the Soviet blockade of Berlin, he urged the West to “drive a land passage through the Russian zone against Russian resistance and if necessary by force of arms”.

When Ian Mikardo MP resigned from Tribune’s board of directors in protest at the editor’s anti-Soviet stance, Foot was unapologetic. “The Soviet leaders … believe as a matter of theory that the end of establishing Soviet Communism wherever they can justifies any means for its attainment,” he wrote. “They believe also as a matter of theory in secrecy, censorship, dictatorship and the ruthless annihilation of the rights of individuals.” And so it went on. When the Russian tanks crushed the Hungarian uprising in 1956, Foot was quick to condemn this “hideous outrage”.

Odd behavior for a man who, the Times alleges, wa sbeing paid to publicise “pro-Soviet ideas”. Why didn’t they ask for their money back. (p. 10).

Foot was right: the Soviet Union and the Communists were always hostile to democratic socialism, though Stalin used the existence of democratic socialist parties and other left-wing organisations to provide a spurious democratic justification for his transformation of their countries into Soviet satellites after the end of the Second World War. Stalin would amalgamate the Communist parties of the various countries the USSR had liberated with the largest left-wing party. This was usually the mainstream, democratic socialist under the pretext of reuniting the two forms of Socialism. Before the First World War in Germany and Italy, for example, there was only one socialist party, which included not only democratic socialists – reformists – but also radical Marxist revolutionaries. After the First World War, the radical Marxists split away from the reformist majority parties to form their countries’ Communist parties. In countries where the socialism was weak, Stalin amalgamated the Communists with the largest and most popular left-wing party, such as the various Peasants’ Parties. The new, umbrella Socialist party would then make a statement adopting Marxism-Leninism – the Communism of the Soviet Union – their official ideology, and the democratic socialists would find themselves purged and either executed or sent to the Gulags.

In the West there were some mainstream socialists, who really did believe that Stalin represented Socialism, such as the Fabians. But Foot, to his immense credit, clearly wasn’t one of them.

However, Maggie Thatcher hated socialism, because it came from the same ideological roots as Communism, and the Tory press in the 1980s was very quick to smear any Labour politician or activist as a potential traitor or agent of Moscow. Foot came in for particular abuse because of his support for CND and unilateral nuclear disarmament. It was therefore inevitable that one of the Tory papers would eventually smear him as a KGB agent.

As it stands, the Sunday Times has form on libeling people. As well as smearing Foot, it also libeled Mike as an anti-Semite and Holocaust denier. Since that article came out, the Sunset Times has repeated the smear and tried to back it up, and the Eye has published yet another tearing it to shreds.

The satirical rag has done an excellent job attacking the lies and falsehoods against Foot. Too bad that it also seems to have swallowed the lies and falsehoods about Jeremy Corbyn.

Chunky Mark on the Ex-MI6 Chief Richard Dearlove and the Resignation of Ian McNicol

February 25, 2018

Here’s another great piece from Chunky Mark the Artist Taxi Driver, which he posted yesterday. He comments on the remarks in the Torygraph from the former head of MI6, Richard Dearlove. Dearlove was speaking about Jeremy Corbyn’s meeting with a Czech spy, and declared that the Labour leader ‘has questions to answer’. This is part of the continuing attempt to create a ‘Red Scare’ about the Labour party and its leader, comparable to the ‘Zinoviev Letter’ that lost Labour an election in the 1920. The Zinoviev letter was an MI5 forgery, and this is a complete non-story and Tory libel.

Mike’s pointed out that the spy in question was a diplomat. Corbyn met him, just as he met other diplomats and no secrets were passed on. The Czechs, and the academic in charge of their Secret Services library has said they have categorically no evidence that Corbyn ever worked for them, or passed on any secrets at all. And in the week Andrew Neill, who is the former editor of the Sunday Times and the Economist, told his viewers precisely what a load of rubbish it this story is on the Daily Politics.

Corbyn is threatening to sue for libel. Gavin Williamson, the Tory apparatchik who repeated in a Tweet, is trying to backtrack without giving Corbyn the apology or money to charity that he demanded.

But the bug-eyed slander-merchants of the Torygraph are still carrying on with it.

Chunky Mark makes the point that Dearlove himself is hardly reliable, because he was involved in the concoction of the ‘Dodgy Dossier’ that served to bring us into Blair’s illegal and murderous war in Iraq. And he’s repeating the libel that Corbyn handed secrets over to a Commie spy, simply because he hates and fears him.

He also comments on the resignation of Ian McNicol, the Labour Party chief, who presided over the massively unjust suspension and expulsion of tens of thousands of Labour members, because they had the audacity to vote for Corbyn rather than endorse the preferred Blairite Thatcherite entryists. Chunky Mark says that we shouldn’t celebrate his departure, because this is a man who poured his life and blood into the Labour party. Before going on to say precisely why we should. One of those he expelled was a trade unionist. She committed the terrible offence of saying that she ‘f***ing loved Dave Grohl’ in a post she put up about the Foo Fighters. This apparently brought her union and the Labour party into disrespect. Actually, considering the fruity language on the internet, I’m surprised anyone even noticed, let along took offence.

So McNicol’s walked, and hopefully we’ll get a better, fairer person in to do his job. Hopefully.

The redoubtable Tony Greenstein, anti-racist, anti-Fascist and very definitely not an anti-Semite, put up a post yesterday commenting on McNicol’s departure, with the restrained title ‘Rejoice – The Witch is Dead – Crooked McNicol Rides No More’. He gives further information on McNicol’s resignation. Apparently he was given his marching orders on Tuesday. Greenstein also points out that this is just the beginning of making the Labour party’s bureaucracy more just.

But this does give up to everyone libelled, smeared and unfairly expelled, simply for their opposition to the Blairites and their wretched neoliberalism.

See: http://azvsas.blogspot.co.uk/2018/02/rejoice-witch-is-dead-crooked-mcnicol.html

Trump Advisor Sebastian Gorka Wanted for Firearms Offences in Hungary

January 27, 2018

Remember Sebastian Gorka, who was one of Trump’s key advisers in government, before the Orange Buffoon lost his rag and sacked him, like he’s done to so many others? Gorka was of Hungarian extraction, and had strong links to the Hungarian Far Right. He wore the insignia of the Vitezi Rend, the Hungarian chivalric order set up by Admiral Horthy, the Hungarian dictator, who led the country into a pact with Nazi Germany and assisted them with the Holocaust and deportations of Jews in his country. Gorka has also been personally active in a number of Hungarian Far Right organisations, and was one of the founders of one of them.

Turns out Gorka’s a wanted man. In this clip from the David Pakman Show, host David Pakman and his producer discuss the news that Gorka is wanted for firearms offences in Hungary going back before he became a member of Trump’s cabinet. Gorka has responded to this by making a non-denial. He Tweeted that the warrant was put out after he moved to America, adding ‘moron’ for good, insulting effect. But as they point out, this isn’t actually a denial that he is wanted for these crimes. Pakman also draws parallels of moving to America from South America, where he grew up. It’s perfectly possible that Gorka committed the offences after he emigrated to the US. Just because his primary residence is now the USA, does not mean he hasn’t been back to his family’s old homeland from time to time. Just as it doesn’t mean that because someone lives in California they have never been out of that state.

Pakman and his producer also point out that this also has dire implications for Trump’s claims that he’s hard on immigration and stands for law and order. Well, no, clearly he doesn’t. He claimed he was going to be super-hard on vetting his staff. He clearly wasn’t, otherwise Gorka’s arrest warrant would have been flagged, noted, and he wouldn’t have got the job. On the other hand, perhaps he was, and the Generalissimo of Reality TV didn’t care. Pakman also contrasts Gorka with the Mexican and Hispanic immigrants, who enter America to do physical work, like labouring. This wasn’t the case of a normal immigrant, who actually does something useful, like put in windows, fix the plumbing or mow the lawn. No, Gorka was a criminal immigrant, whom Trump took into the White House itself.

The last minute or so of the clip is a piece of advertising for their sponsors. I’m sorry for this, but I realise that shows like Pakman will only survive by advertising, and need sponsorship. Because Google is desperately trying to close down any left-wing news sites on the spurious grounds of combatting fake news.

As far as Gorka’s unsavoury activities and connections go, I honestly don’t think that Trump cares. He’s surrounded himself with all kinds of deeply unpleasant characters with extreme right-wing views, like Richard Spencer and the Alt Right. A century ago Gorka’s own ethnicity would have been problem for American nativists. Back in the 1920 right-wing American ethnic nationalists really didn’t like immigrants from eastern and southern Europe, like Poles and Hungarians, because they were considered racially inferior. Hitler in his Table Talk remarks that Hungarians are ‘men of the Steppe’, which is sort-of true in that the Magyars had been steppe nomads before the entered the Pannonian March in the 9th/10th century. And the Nazis despised the Poles and other Slavs as racial inferiors. Millions of Poles and related peoples were imported into Nazi Germany to work as slave labour. However, the Nazis strictly outlawed any sexual contact between Germans and Poles as a threat to Aryan racial purity. And if you look at some of the diagrams showing the differences between peoples in Nazi texts, like the handbook given out to the Hitler Youth, they portray the Poles and the other Slavs – Russians, Belorussians, Ukrainians, Czechs, Slovaks, Ukrainians and so on – as having very Asiatic features similar to those of the Chinese and other east Asian peoples.

This racist contempt for the Slavonic peoples was reversed after the War, when the Nazis turned their attention to Black and Asian nationalist movements, and non-White immigration. The Shoah had made anti-Semitism absolutely unacceptable to most people, although in Britain and America groups like the National Front, BNP and the American Nazi Party were still goose stepping around in Nazi uniforms as late as the 1970s. Then the White Nationalists decided that Magyars and particularly Slavs, weren’t subhuman after all, and started actively recruiting them. Hence the re-emergence in these countries of anti-Semitism, now allied with a vicious Islamophobia, amongst a plethora of Far Right parties. And Sebastian Gorka’s inclusion in Trump’s cabinet of horrors, along with other prominent leaders and spokespeople for the racist Right.

Hungarian workers, like the other varied immigrant groups in America and the new, Hispanic immigrants Trump and his supporters despise, contributed greatly to building the American economy. One of the heroes of working class folklore amongst the steelworkers of Pittsburgh, was Hungarian. He became a larger than life figure, similar to Paul Bunyan in the logging camps of the West, and was reputedly able to paddle and splash in superheated molten metal. This came at a time when working people had strong unions, which could demand respect and insist on their rights. All of which has been destroyed by pernicious Reaganomics and the neo-liberal assault on the working and lower middle classes that has followed it.

We need more working class heroes like the immigrant workers, Irish, Chinese, Italian, Slav, Hungarian, and oppressed domestic indigenous groups like Afro-Americans, who physically built America, toiling on its roads, railways and factories. And as Pakman points out, the Hispanic immigrants have proved themselves invaluable in doing dirty jobs no-one else wants to do. In fact, after one town kicked them all out, it then found it had a labour shortage and appealed for them to come back.

What we don’t need, is more far Right racists like Gorka and his domestic counterparts in the Alt-Right, Klan and various Nazi parties.

2014 Re-Release Trailer for 2001

December 23, 2017

It’s Christmas, so I’m trying to intersperse the serious stuff I’m posting up here with lighter material, so that’s there some seasonal good cheer flying around. I found this on the Movie Clips Channel on YouTube. Kubrick’s epic SF film, 2001: A Space Odyssey was re-released at the cinema in 2014, thirteen years after the film’s nominal date. And it shows brief clips from the movie, mixed with suitable quotes from critics and directors. The clips are from some of the film’s iconic moments – the black monolith, the discovery of clubs and tools by primitive apemen, HAL, the lone astronaut jogging around the spinning living space inside the Odyssey, which gives it artificial gravity, to Khatchurian’s ‘Gayane’. The Odyssey itself, natch, the super-sleek space shuttle approaching the wheeling space station to the tune of Strauss’ ‘Blue Danube’, the symbolism of the Sun and moon appearing in line with the Monolith early in human prehistory, the strains of ‘Thus Spake Zarathustra’, the Moon Lander descending to the underground moon base. And of course, the Star Gate.

Kubrick told Clarke he wanted to make the greatest SF movie of all time. And for many critics he did it. The film is epic, baffling and infuriating. When it was shown on BBC TV in Christmas 1983 or thereabout, my brother, father and myself all had an argument afterwards about what on Earth or space it all meant. It’s an intelligent, and paradoxically also a deeply religious one. Clarke, an atheist, who famously wrote the script, has made this point in interviews. It deals with intervention in human evolution by non-human intelligences, and has themes of death, rebirth and transcendence. Think of the last ten minutes or so of the movie, where Bowman ages before being transformed into the Star Child. And the pictures on his chamber walls are of the Madonna and Child. Again pointing up the theme of divine incarnation and birth with a salvific mission.

Back in the 1990s George Lucas re-released his Star Wars: Episode IV, which had been retouched with digital technology and computer graphics. Some of the critics got carried away, and announced that it was the greatest SF movie ever. Not so, replied the great man, who took out a whole page advert in the LA Times to say that 2001 was the greatest SF film of all time. A generous homage by one of the great masters of modern SF cinema.

There’s been a trend in some cinemas showing old movies. The other year one of cinemas around the country showed the original Blade Runner movie. Another showed the Czech SF epic Icarus. And one of the theatres in Cheltenham screened a series of old films, including the classic British comedy, The Ladykillers. This is film as it is made to be seen: at the cinema. My only regret is that I’ve managed to go to none of the re-releases, except Star Wars.

‘Florence’ Suggests I should Compile a Book about British & American Support for Fascist Dictators

November 12, 2017

Yesterday I put up a piece commenting on a video from the Aussie left-wing blogger, Democratic Socialist. This showed the Tory media’s double standard in reviling Jeremy Corbyn as a supporter of terrorism, Iran, and an anti-Semite, when he is none of those things. But the hacks of the Telegraph definitely did not make those accusations against their Tory molten idol, Maggie Thatcher, when she by association supported all of the above through her friendship with General Pinochet.

Corbyn’s support for Iran was based on an interview he made to an Iranian group, the Mossadeq Project. Mohammed Mossadeq was the last, democratically elected prime minister of that ancient and extremely cultured nation. He was no theocrat, but a secular liberal. He was also a Baha’i, a post-Islamic, syncretistic faith which embraces human equality, including that of men and women. The Shi’a Muslim establishment have hated them since the faith first emerged in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and there have been terrible pogroms against them. This hatred is not shared by all Iranian Muslims, and I have personally known Iranian Muslims, who are heartily sick of the way their Baha’i friends are treated.

Mossadeq’s crime was that he dared nationalise the Iranian oil industry, then dominated by the British-owned Anglo-Persian Oil, which became BP. This resulted in us and the Americans organising a coup, which toppled Mossadeq, and began the long process by which the Shah gradually assumed absolute power, ruling through terror and a secret police force, SAVAK.

‘Florence’, one of the many great commenters on this blog, commented

In the early 70s I volunteered to help type up translation transcriptions of reports from torture victims of the “Shit” of Iran, as Private eye called him. (It was as evidence for Amnesty.) Its not something you can ever forget. When the revolution happened, it was simply new bosses at the same slaughter houses. This is another lesson learned; the violence required by a state to terrorise its own people seeps into the culture, and remains for generations (maybe longer, its too early to tell in most of the cases you cover in this interesting and evocative piece). The violence of the state becomes symmetrical in the revolution in many countries, Iran, Iraq, etc. that follows such repression.

(For this reason I also worry that, for example, the almost visceral hatred of the disabled (and other poor) in the UK bred by the eugenics of neoliberalism for decades will not be so easily dislodged with a change in government. )

I see that the experience of having lived through those times is no longer part of the wider political education of the younger members of the left. In Labour the excesses of the neoliberals all but wiped out that generation and the links. I talk sometimes to our younger members in the Labour party and they are fascinated – but totally clueless. I do try to point them at this blog for this very reason. They are oblivious to who Pinochet was, why it mattered to us then and now, the refuge given to that butcher by Thatcher, the entire history of the Chicago school etc. The traditional passing in of this history, personal history too, through social groups in the Labour party has all but broken down.

As a suggestion, perhaps you could edit your blogs into a book we could use in discussion groups? You would help us be that collective memory board for the newer (not just younger) activists. It would help tease out the older members stories of their personal part in the struggles at home and abroad, but more than that your pieces on the collision of religious and political also show the rich complexities of life.

I am really honoured that my blog is so highly regarded and useful. While talking to Mike earlier today, I mentioned the idea to him. He was enthusiastic and supportive, making a few suggestions on how I should go about it. I told him I have had problems finding a mainstream publisher for some of my other books I have written. He suggested I should try Lulu again, and have the cover done by a professional artist. This would be a great help to actually selling the book, and he could put me in touch with some of the great comics artists he’s worked with.

I am therefore definitely going to look into this.

Now for the other points ‘Florence’ has raised in her comment.

As for the point about how a whole generation in the Left and the Labour party having an awareness and opposition to the various Fascist leaders run riot around the world thanks to British and American support as part of their political education, I think that’s how very many people got involved in politics. Private Eye covered these issues, as it still does, and there was the series of comedy reviews put on in support of Amnesty in the 1980s called The Secret Policeman’s Ball. These featured some of the greatest comedy talents of the day, such as the Pythons and the languid, caustic wit of Peter Cook. I don’t think you had to be particularly left-wing to be a fan, only a supporter of democracy and civil liberties. Very many of the other kids in my Sixth Form were into it, including those, who could be described as working-class Tories.

But come to think about it, we haven’t seen anything like that on our screens for many, many years. The series was becoming long and drawn out towards the end, but nevertheless there’s no reason something else like it, which could be launched. And I don’t doubt that there are young, angry, talented comedians out there, who are perfectly capable of stepping up to the mike and doing it.

And some of the absence of comment and criticism of the monsters, who ran amok across the globe thanks to British and American support does come from the victory of neoliberalism. Including its adoption by New Labour. Blair was an Atlanticist, and an alumni of the Reagan-founded British-American Project for the Successor Generation, or BAP for short. This was a group that trained up future British political leaders, sending them on free jaunts to the US, so that on return to Britain they would be enthusiastic supporters of the ‘Special Relationship’. And they did a superb job on Blair. Before he went on one jaunt, he was a supporter of unilateral disarmament. When he returned, after meeting the American nuclear lobby, he was fully on board with us supporting America’s siting of nukes in Britain, as well as our own, independent nuclear deterrent.

Much of the activism against these thugs came out, it seems to me, of the campaigns against the Vietnam War. This inspired the radical young people of the time to look more closely at what America and the West were doing in the Cold War, and the people we supported as the bulwark of ‘freedom’ – which really meant ‘capitalism’ and western big business – against the Soviets. And the brutal realities of Pinochet’s regime, and that of the Shah of Iran, and very many others, were extensively reported. Clive James in one of his TV reviews written for the Observer, acidly commented on an interview on British TV with some high level thug from the Shah’s Iran. This torturer was asked about the brutal methods of interrogation employed by SAVAK, the Shah’s secret police. There was no problem, said the thug. They were improving all the time. Oh yes, commented James, or something similar.

Incidentally, an Iranian friend of mine told me had some experience of the activities of the Shah’s secret police himself. Back in Iran, he’d been a footie fan. But he noticed that several of his mates kept disappearing. He then found out that one of his friends was a snitch for the secret police, and had been informing on them. It’s when you hear these experiences from the people, who observed what was happening, that really begin to understand why so much of the world is less than enthusiastic about western imperialism. And why so many Iranians were taken in by that other thug, Khomeini. When he returned to Iran, he promised freedom to all Iranians. That didn’t last long, as it was back to normal with the rapists and torturers in Evin prison under his regime.

I was also part of a British medieval re-enactment group. One of the great peeps I met in that was an American chap, whose ancestry was South American. He was proud of his Incan heritage, and in America he’d been part of a similar group, that recreated the warrior traditions of this Andean people. He’d also been a translator for one of the human rights organisations, translating documents on abuses from Spanish.

There is indeed a whole generation out there, with personal experience of the dictatorship supported by the West, people whose wealth of knowledge and experience should be passed on.

But part of the problem is the supposed break with dictatorship and the entry of neoliberalism into the Labour party. The Fall of Communism was meant to be the End of History, as heralded by Francis Fukuyama. From now on, Western liberal democracy and capitalism would reign unchallenged. And with the threat of Communism gone, the Americans decided to cut their losses and move against the Fascist dictators they’d been propping up. Hence their ouster of General Noriega.

This gave the impression that the world was going to be nicely democratic, with the unspoken assumption that western, Euro-American culture would remain dominant and unchallenged.

But the old culture of lies, coups and regime change when the dominated countries in the developing world get too uppity is still there. As are the Cold Warriors. We didn’t invade Saddam Hussein’s Iraq to free its peoples. We invaded because the Neocons wanted their state industries for American multinationals, and the Saudi-American oil industry wanted their oil fields. And Israel wanted to stop Hussein from aiding the Palestinians. Human rights was just a convenient pretext. And it’s been like this for the last 14 years.

Just like we’re also being told lies about the situation in Ukraine. The Maidan Revolution was not spontaneous. It was staged by the CIA, National Endowment for Democracy, George Soros, and Victoria Nuland in Obama’s state department. It was to stop Ukraine becoming too close to Putin’s Russia. Ukraine has always had strong links to its eastern neighbour. Indeed, Kiev was one of the earliest and most powerful of the Russian states to emerge in the Middle Ages. Trying to sever the links between the two is similar, as someone put it, to Canada moving away from America to side with the Communist bloc.

But we aren’t being told any of that. Nor are we told that real, unreconstructed Nazis from the Pravy Sektor are in the ruling coalition, and that there is credible evidence that human rights abuses have been visited on the Russian minority and Russian speaking Ukrainians.

We are just being told that Putin is a thug – which is true – and that he’s ready to invade the former Soviet satellites. Which probably isn’t.

There is also a further problem, in that some of the countries, whose Fascist leaders Britain and America supported, are very remote. I’d guess that many people really wouldn’t be able to find them on a map, let alone know much about their history. And so we face the same problem the Czechs faced, when Chamberlain sacrificed their country to Hitler at Munich. They are faraway countries, of which we know nothing.

And this is a problem with British imperial history generally. Salman Rushdie once said that the British don’t know their own history, because so much of it happened abroad. This is true. British capitalism was stimulated through the colonisation of the West Indies, the slave trade and the sugar industry. How much is a matter of debate. Black and West Indian scholars have suggested that it was the prime stimulus behind the emergence of capitalism and the industrial revolution in Britain. Others have argued instead that it added only 5 per cent to the economy. But that it did have an effect is undeniable, especially on its colonised peoples. In the West Indies, this meant the virtual extermination of the indigenous Amerindian peoples and their replacement with enslaved Africans.

Well, the Empire has gone, and been replaced by the Commonwealth. But western domination of these countries’ economies still remains through the various tariff barriers that the Swedish economist Gunnar Myrdal called Neocolonialism. As well as the domination of their industries by western multinationals.

There are book available on the British Empire, some of them critical. Like John Newsinger’s The Blood Never Dried, and a recent book about the internment, torture and mutilation of the indigenous Kenyans during the Mao Mao crisis, Africa’s Secret Gulags. But the people, who appear on TV to talk about imperialism tend to be those on the right, like Niall Ferguson, who will admit that the British Empire was seriously flawed, but on balance did more good. Which might be true, but still glosses over some of the horrors we perpetrated.

And many of these are still kept from us. The public documents supporting the allegations of the victims of British torture in Kenya only came to light because they fought a long and hard battle in the British courts to get them released. I honestly don’t know what other nasty little secrets are being kept from us, in case it embarrasses senior ministers or industrialists.

So if you want to see the brutal reality behinds the West’s foreign policy, you have to read specialist magazines, many of them small press. Like Robin Ramsay’s Lobster, which has been going since the 1980s, and which is now online, and Counterpunch, an American radical magazine and website, which has been digging the sordid truth up about the American Empire and the rapacity of capitalism and the global elite. I also recommend William Blum’s The Anti-Empire Report, and his books, as well as Greg Palast’s dissection of the real reasons we invaded Iraq, Armed Madhouse.

More material on the rapacity of western imperialism is coming to light through the internet, and especially the emergence of alternative news sites. And there is a growing audience for it, as young and older people from across the world are brought together through international links. This isn’t just business, but also through the foreign students coming to Britain, as well as Brits living, working and studying elsewhere in the world.

The problem is getting it out there, and moving it from the sidelines so that it becomes a major topic that can be used to challenge our leaders and hold them to account, without being written off as ‘loony radical lefties’ spouting about things no-one else wants to know about or even hear. About other ‘faraway places, of which we know nothing’.

Czech President Threatens Journalists with Fake Kalashnikov

October 25, 2017

More from Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian of The Young Turks on the rising threat to freedom of the press around the world. In this clip they report on and discuss the behaviour of the Czech President, Milos Zeman, who turned up at a press conference waving around a replica gun which had ‘For Journalists’ written on it. Zeman himself hates the press, and in the past has described them as ‘manure’ and ‘hyenas’. At a meeting with Putin in May, he joked about how some of them deserved to be ‘liquidated’. As Uygur points out, there is very strong evidence that Putin has had journalists murdered, so that joke really isn’t funny. Zeman, you will not be surprised to know, is also a colossal Islamophobe. He has said that Czechs need to arm themselves against a coming ‘superholocaust’ against them, which will be carried out by Muslims. Uygur comments drily, ‘Who knew there were so many Muslims in the Czech Republic, and they were so powerful?’

Zeman’s gun-waving comes after the death of a female journalist, Daphne Caruana Galizia, who was killed by a car bomb in Malta. Galizia was dubbed a ‘one-woman WikiLeaks’ for her dogged pursuit of uncovering stories of corruption. She was killed a week after revealing that Joseph Muscat, the Prime Minister of the island nation, had been involved in offshore companies and the sale of Maltese passports and payments from the Azerbaijani government.

Clearly, Malta isn’t anywhere near the Czech Republic, but her death was reported there. And the president, Zeman, thinks so little of the murder of journalists that he ‘jokes’ about it by waving replica firearms around at the press. Uygur also states that the Czechs have just elected a new prime minister, who is the millionaire head of a populist party. He predicts that this won’t end well.

This is clearly a story from a small nation in the EU, but it shows the way journalistic freedoms are being eroded all over the world. The Young Turks point out that democracy isn’t just about voting – it’s also about the freedom of the press and conscience – and this is what has makes Western democracy so great. The Young Turks have also covered the prosecution of journalists and political opponents of President Erdogan in Turkey, and the persecution of another crusading journo in Azerbaijan itself. As well as the attempted assassination of another Russian journo, who was suspiciously stabbed a madman two weeks after the Putin media declared her and her radio station an agent of America.

About ten years ago, John Kampfner wrote a book, Freedom for Hire, in which he described how countries around the world, from France, Italy, Russia, Singapore and China, were becoming increasingly dictatorial. And we in Britain had no cause for complacency, as he described how Blair had also tried to muzzle the press, especially when it came to the Gulf War. The web of corruption Galizia uncovered was so widespread, and went right to the top, so that Malta was described by the Groaniad yesterday as ‘Mafia Island’.

As for the Czech Republic, after Vaclav Havel its post-Communist presidents have been extremely shady individuals. I can remember reading one travel book on eastern Europe, which discussed how his critics had disappeared or been murdered. And following the Fall of Communism, there has come a series of reports and scandals about rising racial intolerance there. The target of much of this is the Roma. It has been reported that the Czech medical service routinely forcibly sterilised Gypsy women in order to stop them having children, and members of various political parties have called for either their expulsion or their extermination. I am not surprised by the Islamophobia, as a little while ago Counterpunch carried a story about one of their contributor’s meeting with a Czech politician, who had very extreme, right-wing views, including a deep hatred of Muslims. There also appears to be an undercurrent of anti-Semitism in the country as well. A few years ago, the BBC’s programme, Who Do You Think You Are, explored Stephen Fry’s ancestry. As Fry himself has said many times on QI, his grandfather was a Jewish Hungarian, who worked for a sugar merchants. It was through his work that he met Fry’s grandmother, who was a member of Fry’s, the Quaker chocolate manufacturer, and settled with her in England. Thus he fortunately survived the Holocaust. Fry travelled to Austria, Hungary and the Czech Republic, tracing the movements of his ancestors in the course of their work through the former Austro-Hungarian Empire. Fry was, understandably, visibly upset and shaken when he found out just how many of his grandfather’s kith and kind had been murdered at Auschwitz.

He was also very unimpressed by the attitude of some of the Czechs he spoke to in his quest. He quoted them as saying that ‘it is very curious. They knew the Holocaust was coming, but they stayed here anyway.’ He was justifiably outraged at the implication that somehow the millions of innocents butchered by the Nazis wanted to be killed.

It’s possible to suggest a number of causes for the rise in Islamophobia. You could probably trace it back to historic fears about the Ottoman Empire and the conquest of the Balkans by the Muslim Turks in the 15th century. The Ottoman Empire still sought to expand in the 17th century, when its army was just outside the gates of Vienna. It was defeated by Jan Sobieski, the king of Poland, and his troops. The Ottoman Empire persisted until it finally collapsed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, amidst a series of bloody massacres. The majority of these were blamed on the Turks, and specifically the irregular troops, the Bashi-Bazouks. It was their massacres that led to Gladstone calling for Turkey to be thrown ‘bag and baggage out of the Balkans’. But other journalists in the Balkans at the time also noted that the Christian nations, like the Serbs, were also guilty of horrific mass slaughter, but that this went unreported due prevailing Western prejudice.

Part of it might be due to the Czechs being a small nation – there are about four million of them – who have had to struggle to survive against domination by larger neighbours. Their medieval kings had invited ethnic Germans into the country to settle and develop their economy. This led to the creation of what became the Sudetenland, the areas occupied by ethnic Germans, and there was friction between them and the native Czechs. This friction eventually exploded into open conflict in the 15th century in the wars following the attempt of Jan Hus to reform the Roman Catholic church. Czech nationalism was suppressed, and Moravia and Bohemia, the two kingdoms, which became Czechoslovakia, were absorbed into the Austrian Empire. The Czechs and Slovaks achieved their independence after the First world War, but the country was conquered by the Nazis during World War II, and then ‘liberated’ by Stalin. It was then incorporated into the Communist bloc. When Anton Dubcek, the president, attempted to create ‘Communism with a human face’, introducing free elections and a form of market socialism, the-then Soviet president, Anton Dubcek, sent in the tanks to quell the ‘Prague Spring’.

Other factors also include the wave of immigrants from Syria and North Africa, that forced their way through the various international borders to come up through Greece and Serbia in their hope of finding sanctuary and jobs in the West. The Counterpunch article stated that there was a real fear that they would turn east, and swamp the small, former eastern bloc nations like the Czech Republic.

And these racial fears are being stoked throughout the former eastern bloc by the poverty and misery that has come with capitalism. The peoples of the former Communist nations were led to believe that the introduction of capitalism would create employment and prosperity. This has not occurred, and the result has been widespread disillusionment. Counterpunch also ran another article, which quoted the statistic that 51 per cent of the population of the former East Germany had responded positively to the statement that ‘things were better under Communism’ in a poll, and wanted Communism to come back. Similar statistics could be found right across the former Communist nations of eastern Europe.

Now, faced with rising poverty, unemployment and inequality, made worse by neoliberalism, the old fears of racial domination and extermination are rising again, and being exploited by ruthless, right-wing populists. So there are a series of extremely nationalistic, Fascistic governments and parties in Hungary and the Czech Republic. Just like in western Europe there’s Marine Le Pen’s Front National and Germany’s Alternative fuer Deutschland, and Donald Trump and the Alt Right in America.

And across the globe, ruthless, corrupt politicians are trying to curtail freedom of speech and the press, in order to preserve their power. Hence the rising racism, Fascism and violence towards ethnic minorities and the press. These freedoms are at the core of democracy, and have to be defended for democracy to work at all, and governments held accountable by their citizens.

BBC 2 Programme Next Week on British Forces in Ukraine and Estonia

October 20, 2017

On Wednesday, BBC 2 launched a new documentary series looking at the British army as it’s stationed around the world, Army: Behind the New Frontlines. In next weeks edition, subtitled ‘The New Cold War’, to be shown at 9.00 O’clock pm on 25th October 2017, the programme will look at British forces stationed in Estonia and Ukraine. The blurb for the programme on page 94 of the Radio Times runs

Tensions between the West and Russia have been heightened since 2014, when Russia seized the Ukrainian region of Crimea and also began secretly arming pro-Russian separatists fighting in Eastern Ukraine. But as Ukraine is not part of Nato, no western troops have been deployed to fight. Instead, British soldiers from the Mercia regiment are sent to train Ukrainian soldiers to defend their country, helping Nato and Britain avoid direct involvement while offering a cost-effective way to learn how the Russians fight. Meanwhile, the Baltic states, which are members of Nato, fear that an attack from Russia is a very real threat, so soldiers from 5 Rifles battalion travel to Estonia as part of a major operation to deter invasion.

There’s a further couple of paragraphs about the programme on page 93 by Jack Seale. These state

Just as the British Army is undergoing an existential crisis due to a slowdown in active operations, so this documentary about soldiers not firing their guns struggles to find an impetus. Not that you’d wish for war as a remedy, of course.

The liveliest threat is in eastern Europe, where Russia has encroached in Ukraine and massed troops on Estonia’s border. This week we follow Brits quietly training Ukrainians and openly allying with Estonians, since the latter is in Nato. The memorable stories are of the awfully young local fighters who hope the wolf next door won’t come in, but say they’re ready to die if it does.

I don’t know, but reading those pieces about the programme makes me strongly suspect that it won’t tell you the whole truth about what’s really going on in those countries, and why we’re really there. And we’ve certainly been fed a pack of lies about the Ukraine already.

If you believe the lamestream media, the present government in Ukraine is an entirely democratic regime, which gained power through a power revolution in Kyiv’s Maidan Square. Tired of the misrule of their government present and his pro-Russian policies, the people of Ukraine spontaneously rose up and toppled him. The ousted president then ran off to Putin for aid to get back into power. Putin then responded by sending Russian troops into the east of the country, where there is a sizable ethnic Russian, and Russian-speaking Ukrainian population.

Comparisons have been made with Hitler’s annexation of the Sudetenland from Czechoslovakia shortly before World War II. These are completely wrong.

Firstly, Putin is corrupt, is a dictatorial thug, and his regime is acute nationalistic, xenophobic and militaristic. This week his government proposed legislation that would penalise parents and educators taking part in political protests if they took their children with them. And as Simon Reeve showed in his programme about European Russia last week, when he covered the case of a woman campaigning to keep her Khrushchev era flat in Moscow against a Putin-backed development scheme, Russian law means that protests of more than one person have to be registered first with the police. And if there’s only you there, you will be still be carted off to chokey by the stern minions of Putin’s police force. Putin’s party has a youth wing, Nashi, a Russian word which means ‘Ours’, which is ultra-patriotic, picketing and threatening those it regards as insufficiently patriotic. It also serves to encourage young men to do their National Service. This is despite the fact that the Russian army is even more brutal, and bullying more rife and horrific under the ‘rule of the grandfathers’ than in the British army. New squaddies, and especially Pentecostal Christians, are beaten up, sometimes to the point where they need hospital treatment. Comparisons have been made with the Nazis’ Hitler Youth.

As for Putin himself, recent documentaries have shown how he’s supposedly funnel hundreds of thousands of roubles to his own personal account. And his former chums in the judo clubs in which he trained have similarly done very well indeed. They’ve all risen to become heads of companies. A friend of mine told me once that the pop band, Clean Bandit, took their name from a Russian idiom which means a criminal, who doesn’t pretend to be anything other than he is. And it’s very commonly applied to Putin. So you could fairly describe him as an ‘arkhiplut’, a Russian word meaning arch-criminal or scoundrel.

But the impression I have is that Putin is justified in his intervention in Ukraine. The Crimea historically belonged to Russia. It was only given to Ukraine in the 1950s by Khrushchev, who was Ukrainian. As for the Maidan Revolution, it was categorically not a popular revolution. It was a very cleverly crafted piece of American-sponsored regime change by the CIA and the National Endowment for Democracy, as well as George Soros’ pro-democracy foundation. It was organised by Ukrainian oligarchs with the aid of the US state department, Victoria Nuland and Hillary Clinton.

The composition of the new, entirely democratic government, honest guv’, is deeply suspect. I’ve blogged before about how it contains thugs from the Fascist Pravy Sektor. These are real, unreconstructed Nazis. They dress in the uniform and regalia of the auxiliary SS regiments that invaded the country during Operation Barbarossa in World War II. They are anti-democratic, anti-Semitic and extremely violent. During the Maidan Revolution, they chased a group of trade unionists into one of the buildings, caught and savagely beat them. And just as Putin’s regime has cracked down on journalists, who have published material against the Russian president, so the Ukrainian regime is persecuting and intimidating opposition journalists. I’ve got a feeling several have been murdered, just like they have in Putin’s Russia. The various characters in Trump’s government backing and urging support for the Ukrainian regime all have connections to Ukrainian Fascists, who were recruited after the War to provide anti-Communist propaganda to their homeland. And no surprise there, as Reagan gave expatriate Ukrainian nationalists considerable support under their leader, Vladimir Stetso, during the new Cold War of the 1980s.

I’ve seen Russian programmes on YouTube, which claimed very strongly that Russia intervened and invaded because the Russian and Russian-speaking minority in the east of the country was being persecuted and was being prevented from voting. I know this is all dubious considering that Putin does make sure that the media broadcasts his propaganda, but I think that this is very likely to be true. A government that has seized power through secret deals with the Americans and which contains outright Nazis, is not going to have any qualms about persecuting an ethnic group some of them probably see as their invaders and oppressors.

I know much less about Estonia, but it seems to me that we’re probably not being told the whole truth about what’s going on there. The Baltic states were, at various times, part of the Swedish empires and Germany, before they were conquered by Russia. They had a brief, 20 year period of autonomy from the end of the First World War to the 1930s, when Stalin invaded to reclaim them under the deal made with Nazi Germany in Molotov-Von Ribbentrop Pact. One third of the population are ethnic Russians. During the Communist era, the Baltic States were determined to gain their independence. This may have been partly because they were the some of the most industrially developed parts of the Soviet Union, and were afraid that Russian immigration would swamp them, so that they would become minorities in their own countries.

Since they gained their independence after the fall of the Soviet Union, the Russians have claimed that the Russian minority in those states have been persecuted. I don’t know how much truth there is to this, but even under Communism Russians performed the lowest-paid, dirtiest and most menial jobs. And there are real Nazis goose-stepping about there as well. Colin Thubron in his 1980s travel book, Among the Russians, describes a nationalist demonstration in Lithuania, whose participants screamed ‘Lithuania for the Lithuanians! Russians to Russia! Poles to Poland! And Jews to the cemetery!’ Veterans from the SS auxiliary regiments that fought – and butchered the Jewish population – in the Baltic States have been allowed to take part in the independence day parades in Lithuania or Latvia. Or perhaps both. Possibly the governments of these countries also include their own, very real Nazis, like that of Ukraine. I don’t know.

As for the British army facing an existential threat because of a lack of operations abroad, I thought it faced an existential threat because of serious underfunding by the previous governments, and a crisis in recruitment with young men and women deciding that they want to do something better with their lives than be killed or mutilated just to let the big oil companies plunder nations like Iraq in the Middle East.

When Communism fell, we signed a deal with Russia promising that Nato would not expand up to their borders. The Russians have been paranoid about Western encirclement since before the Communist seizure of power. This was broken when the Baltic States joined NATO. I supported that move, as I thought that there was a real possibility that the Russians would invade, based on Stalin’s invasion shortly before the Nazis invaded Russia.

Now I think that perhaps the better option would have been to let the Baltic states remain neutral. Both NATO and Russia could have been signatories guaranteeing the countries’ neutrality. They could have been given the ‘Finnish option’. Meaning that, like Finland, they were neutral and enjoyed certain privileges, like relatively unrestricted access to Russia. It could have preserved peace and their independence, while not provoking the Russians.

Now we have had an increase in tensions on these countries’ borders. Tensions which Killary seems determined to stoke, not least by claiming that Trump is somehow being blackmailed by Putin. She, the Democrats and the Republicans in America are creating a new Cold War, part of the purpose of which is, in Killary’s case, to distract everyone from her own corruption and very dubious dealings with Russian capital.

We are not being told the truth about the nature of the regimes in Ukraine or the Baltic. And it seems to me very much that our brave women and men are not there to defend their freedom, but simply as part of America’s campaign of global imperialism for its multinational corporations.