Archive for the ‘East Germany’ Category

Beeb’s John Sweeney Attack Parliamentary Lobby System as Source of Fake News

November 14, 2019

Very interesting article in next week’s Radio Times for 16th-22nd November 2019. John Sweeney, a former journo with the Corporation’s Panorama, has written a piece attacking the parliamentary lobby system, ‘Time to name your sources’, on page 9. The subtitle states very clearly why he objects to it ‘Why are political reporters feeding us fake news?’

The article runs

As the country gears up for a general election, TV viewers and newspaper readers are being lied to from within a secretive system that reduces political journalists and Westminster correspondents to underbutlers, protects power and poisons our democracy. It’s called the lobby and its two most powerful players are a career psychopath (Conservative) and a neo-Stalinist (Labour).

The lobby was created after an Irish terrorist bomb in 1885 caused MPs to lock out the journalists who used to mingle freely inside Westminster. Reporters complained and a permitted few were allowed back, so long as they followed rule number one: when a source says a story is on lobby terms, you don’t identify that source. 

The lobby’s most elegant defender, Andrew Marr, wrote in his book, My Trade: A Short History of British Journalism, “Sophisticated social animals are necessarily hypocrites… who really wants to know less?”

But Marr wrote that before King Brexit turned everything it touched to Novichok. So where do those political stories based on anonymous oft-quoted “sources close to…” come from?

The PMS (the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman) is a many-headed beast, but one set of jaws is snapped by James Slack, who, as Nick Cohen pointed out in the The Spectator, in a previous life wrote the words underneath the infamous 2016 Daily Mail headline “Enemies of the People”, attacking three judges. Another set of jaws are those of Rob Oxley, Boris Johnson’s press secretary, but the sharpest teeth belong to “career psychopath” Dominic Cummings. David  called him that five years ago. It was an understatement.

Cummings, Slack and Oxley jointly and separately use reporters in the lobby system to tell unattributable whoppers while the system as a whole is given coverage by BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Sky and the papers. Veteran political reporter Peter Oborne nailed a series of lies about Brexit on “lobby terms” recently. Perhaps the most poisonous was the “lobby terms” claim, reported in the Mail on Sunday in October, that Remainers Dominic Grieve, Oliver Letwin and Hilary Benn were being investigated by the government because of their involvement with foreign powers. The story was a lie. The BBC, etc, didn’t tell that lie. But they prop up the system in which the lie could be told.

That system also encourages acquiescence among political hacks. If you don’t toe the line and ask awkward questions instead you are excluded from the regular drip-feed of anonymous briefings. It was reported that Boris Johnson when Foreign Secretary was considered a security risk by MI6 because of his dodgy private life. But has the lobby asked if Boris will launch an inquiry into himself? Nyet.

Another potential security risk is Jeremy Corbyn’s spin commissar, Seumas Milne. He oversees Labaour’s lobby operation but the system shields his shenanigans behind the arras. In 2014 Milne appeared on a panel at a summit in Sochi alongside Vladimir Putin. Milne, a former Guardian journalist, has in the past bigged up both Stalin and East Germany. Creepy.

Has the lobby asked Putin’s pal Milne if he is a security risk? Again, nyet.

In these toxic times, the lobby has become a lie factory. We need to scrappy “lobby terms”. If power speaks with a forked tongue, we need to know whose tongue it is that’s lying.

Okay, Sweeney’s correct to call out the lobby system. I’m irritated myself by stories that begin ‘sources close to the Prime Minister’ or ‘Ministers are considering’, as quite often this means that the source is sounding out a policy. And that policy is quite often something monstrous. I remember a story in the Sunday Express back in the early 1980s, when AIDS first appeared and everyone really was afraid it would decimate the global population like a new Black Death. It was so strongly associated with gays that a Beeb science documentary on it had the title ‘AIDS: The Gay Plague’. In this climate of fear, the Sunday Depress announced that ‘ministers’ – who were never named – were considering a radical solution to the problem. This was the construction of an ‘AIDS island’ following the Swedes’ example, where AIDS victims could be isolated and treated. It harkens back to the location of lazarettos – leper hospitals – on islands. But it was also frightening coming as it did from a government that had very far right tendencies and a reputation for aggressive homophobia. Maggie had just tried to introduce her law banning the positive teaching of homosexuality in schools. To many people, this seemed like the beginning of a campaign against homosexuals and the left which would end up with internment camps. The nightmare Fascist Britain of Alan Moore’s and Dave Lloyd’s V for Vendetta, running in the comic Warrior, seemed all too possible.

Others have also challenged the very close relationship between the press and the political class. When David Cameron was PM, it was pointed out that many leading journos, including editorial staff at the Guardian, I believe, also lived in Cameron’s village of Chipping Norton. Over on the other side of the Pond, some of the left-wing news shows on the Net, like The Young Turks, Sam Seder’s Majority Report and the David Pakman Show, have also commented on the way the press is content to parrot stories and claims by right-wing politicians, because they’re afraid that if they start challenging them, those politicians will simply stop talking to them and they’ll lose their stories. The result has been a decline in journalistic standards, as papers no longer attempt to hold politicos to account, but simply repeat their lines and lies. I’ve no doubt that this also partly accounts for the utter complicity of the press in repeating the claims and assumptions of the neoliberal right over here.

But this also doesn’t exonerate the Beeb. Despite the protestations of its political editor, the Beeb does platform right-wing figures over the left. Mike put up a graphic from Tory Fibs a few days ago, which showed very clearly how massively biased the Beeb was in its inclusion of figures and spokesmen for the right on its news shows and panels. Its newsroom is stacked full of Conservatives, like Nick Robinson, and Fiona Bruce and her producers on Question Time scarcely hide their right-wing bias. And the Beeb is still under investigation for the massive bias in its Panorama documentary on anti-Semitism in the Labour party.

The lobby system is a major part of the problem, but not the whole. The whole journalistic system and its cosy relationship with right-wing politicians is rotten, and needs to be overturned. And the Beeb is very much part of it.

Radio 4 Programme Next Week on Attempts to Reverse Rural Depopulation in Spain

April 23, 2019

According to the new Radio Times for 27th April – 3rd May 2019, Radio 4’s Crossing Continents next Thursday, 2nd May, at 11.00 a.m., looks at a movement to repopulate the Spanish countryside, focusing on a group of single women going to meet single men in a village near Madrid. The paragraph about the programme by David McGillivray on page 128 runs

It’s hard to arrest depopulation once it’s started. But Linda Pressly finds the opposite in Spain. Initiatives to reverse the decline of the Spanish countryside include a movement of young people – they have a name, “neo-rurales” – who have begun to occupy abandoned villages. Pressly also uncovers a charming personal story. Maria Carvajal was one of a bus full of single women who arrived in a village north of Madrid to meet single men unable to find female partners. There was no preview available but I infer that she found love iwth lonely shepherd Antonio Cerrado. A caravan of love indeed.

This could be worth listening to. About a year ago Mike wondered how Labour could win in rural areas, like his part of Wales. It’s a good question, as there’s a real crisis in the countryside with poor locals being priced out of housing by wealthy outsiders, looking for second or retirement homes. Bus services into country areas are being cut, and local shops, like pubs, post offices and general stores, are closing down. There are parts of Europe where the process of depopulation is particularly acute. I was listening to a conversation between male feminist and anti-Fascist Kevin Logan and another anti-Fascist about the rise of the far right. They agreed that one of the stimuli behind the rise of the vile Alternative fuer Deutschland and its horrendous Nazi links was the massive, devastating depopulation of parts of the former East Germany, where whole small towns have been abandoned as their populations have moved west in search of better opportunities.

Rural depopulation also concerned the Nazis, who saw themselves very much as the party of the peasants. They developed a series of policies designed to reverse it, and create a healthy, ideologically and racially pure peasantry, who would feed Germany and provide the basis for its new value system. This involved a banning foreign imports, lowering taxation on agricultural goods and products, loans for people wishing to move to the countryside. They were also concerned to provide them with secure tenure. So secure, in fact, that they wouldn’t be able to escape it, and they and their descendants would be tied to the soil like serfs.

I did think that some of their ideas might be worth discussing, aside from the obviously horrific and unacceptable connections to the Nazi regime itself. However, with all the anti-Semitism smears directed against Corbyn and his supporters, the last thing I wanted to do was give the smear merchants more ammunition. They’d just love it if a left-wing blogger started discussing whether some aspects of Nazi policy was worth implementing, even if it was about farming and absolutely rejected and condemned their horrific, genocidal racism and totalitarianism.

But the Crossing Continents programme may be worth listening to, and provide some ideas on how Britain could also start to regenerate its countryside. Perhaps we need a British version of the neo-rurales?

Private Eye’s Anti-Semitism Smear Attack on Labour Appartchik Thomas Gardiner

March 22, 2019

This fortnight’s Private Eye for 22nd March – 4th April 2019 carried yet another attack on the Labour party by their columnist, ‘Ratbiter’, on page 10. Entitled ‘Gardiner’s Question Time’, attacking Labour Party bureaucrat Thomas Gardiner for not doing enough to combat anti-Semitism in the Labour party. It is, of course, coincidental that the article also mentions that Gardiner is a close aide of Jeremy Corbyn. The article runs

LABOUR apparatchik Thomas Gardiner came to Eye readers’ attention last June as the helpful chap whom Jeremy Corbyn’s aides advised suspended members to contact if they wanted readmission to the party, after general secretary Jennie Formby brought him in to run Labour’s compliance unit (Eye 1472).

Earlier this month, the Observer and Times revealed emails which showed Gardiner opposing recommendations from the party’s investigations team to suspend members accused of Jew-baiting, despite Corbyn’s promise of “zero tolerance for anti-Semites”.

Kayla Bibby, for instance, shared an image of an alien creature marked with the Star of David wrapping its tentacles round the Statue of Liberty. “The most accurate photo I’ve seen all year!” she wrote, having specifically requested a copy of the picture from Incog Man, and American Neo-Nazi site. Incog Man’s talk of the “parasitic, whitish looking, chameleon Jew” didn’t appear to bother Bibby … or indeed Labour, since Gardiner ruled the image was “anti-Israel, not anti-Jewish”.

Gardiner also supported Camden Labour activist Mohammed Joynal Uddin, who had claimed Jews believe Jesus was “boiling in semen in hell and that the Virgin Mary is a whore.” Labour said Gardiner did not know about Uddin’s views when he backed him, and in any case had recused himself from the case. Gardiner meanswhile disappeared on holiday.

With Labour coming under scrutiny by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, party figures suspect that Corbyn’s aides are no lining up Gardiner to be the fall guy. Political hacks think so too, and their editors are prepared to get out the cheque book if he will tell all about Corbyn, Formby and Labour communications director Seumas Milne.

Will he grass up his comrades? The formbook suggests not: Gardiner, a Camden councillor, promoted a motion at the Hampstead and Kilburn Labour party in 2016 dismissing the anti-Semitism scandal as an assault on the Left and condemning “the factional use which a few within the party have tried to make of anti-Semitism”. Yet can Formby be sure he will stay silent? Or will she have to reach into Labour’s depleted reserves and present him with a deal that outbids anything the hacks can offer?

From the evidence is presented here, it seems the case against Gardiner is pretty damning: he’s covering up the massive anti-Semitism in the Labour party in order to protect Corbyn, Formby and co, who also have dirty, guilty secrets that the press are keen to publish. But there are real problems with the story and its sources, which mean that nothing in this should be taken at face value.

‘Ratbiter’: Warmonger and Libeller

Firstly, there’s the credibility of ‘Ratbiter’ himself. On Tuesday I put up extracts about him from a longer post against the anti-Semitism smears against Labour by the veteran campaigner for truth and justice, Tony Greenstein. ‘Ratbiter’ is Nick Cohen, a hack for the Graun and Absurder, who used to be a decent human being until 9/11. Then he morphed into an Islam hating neocon warmonger, who backed Blair’s illegal invasion of Iraq. Cohen is also someone else, who has a problem with the actualite, and publishes lies and distortions about the victims of the anti-Semitism smear campaign. One of them is Greenstein himself, who, after pointing out the many lies Cohen had said about him, said that the only reasons why he wasn’t suing him was because he was already suing the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, and wanted also to have a go at the equally mendacious Jewish Chronicle and a certain unnamed councillor.

Kayla Bibby and the CAA Smears against Mike and Jackie Walker

And then there’s the matter of the two people accused of anti-Semitism, Kayla Bibbi and Mohammed Uddin. Can we really believe the allegations? Both sound like the kind of accusation the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism and ‘Gnasherjew’ make. ‘Gnasherjew’ is the pseudonym used by the repugnant David Collier, a vile individual who would have fitted in very well with the East German Stasi, Mussolini’s OVRA, Reinhard Heydrich in Nazi Germany, and J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI, all of whom bugged their enemies. In the case of the last three, this included their personal enemies in the Nazi and Fascist parties and the American political machine. The Campaign Against Truth and Collier specialise in looking through people’s past electronic communications, pulling them out of context and then sending them as a dossier to the compliance unit. This is what they did to Jackie Walker and I’m assuming they also did it to Mike. Walker was smeared as an anti-Semite on the basis of a private conversation in which she said that her people the chief financiers of the slave trade. It was sloppily worded. She admits that she should have said that her people were among the chief financiers of the slave trade. She was also smeared because she said that the I.H.R.A. definition of anti-Semitism wasn’t one she could work with. As I and many others have said, ad nauseam, ad infinitum, Walker’s definitely not an anti-Semite. The party’s compliance unit admitted that the case against her was ‘weak’. But on the basis of this weak case, her life has been ruined and she now gets threats and abuse from nutters telling her that she should be lynched, or cut up and put into bin bags.

The smear merchants tried the same tactics recently against Mike over an image he put up on Vox Political. This showed the state of Israel in America, and was included in a piece he wrote against the smear attack on Naz Shah. The Witchhunters claimed he’d taken it from a Neo-Nazi website. Not so: Mike took it from Norman Finkelstein, a Jewish critic of Israel, who is the son of Holocaust survivors. And needless to say, Finkelstein has also had the anti-Semitic abuse heaped upon him, accused of being self-hating and all the rest of it. There’s a clear parallel here to Kayla Bibby’s case. So was Bibby the victim of the same tactics? Did she really get the image from Incog Man, or was it a similar image? And if she did, was she aware Incog Man was a Nazi? And even if she did, does it make her an anti-Semite if she qualifies it and says she talking about Israel, not Jews? If she really did take the image from a Nazi site, then she’s stupid and deserves criticism for it. But if she is genuinely making a comment about Israel, and not about Jews, then she’s no more than that.

Mohammed Uddin and What Is Not Being Said

Uddin’s case also should be treated with scepticism. Did he really say what he is alleged to have said about Jews and Christ? And if he did, what is the context? It’s possible he was quoting someone else, or reacting to something someone else has said along the same lines. We aren’t told. Furthermore, looking carefully, this doesn’t seem to be the original accusation against Uddin. Gardiner is quoted as saying that he didn’t know about Uddin’s views when he defended him. Now I doubt that the witchhunters simply made a complaint about Uddin just saying that he was an anti-Semite and wanted him suspended, and then left it like that. They must have provided some substance to their accusation. And Gardiner clearly found this evidence unconvincing. Then they dredged up, or invented, this remark about the Jews and Christ. As for recusing himself, this is what you’re supposed to do in a court of law if you know the accused. So it looks like Gardiner may well have acted entirely properly in the circumstances as they unfolded.

The Campaign to Unseat Corbyn

And underlying this sordid tale are Cohen’s true intentions. Gardiner is an enemy of the witchhunt, which really is against the Left and particularly against Israel’s critics. As a Blairite neocon, Cohen wants Corbyn out. This is the ultimate goal of the witchhunters. It’s why they accused Chris Williamson of anti-Semitism last week, because he had the horrible audacity to state that Labour was being too apologetic about it. And it’s no coincidence that Williamson is a close Corbyn ally. This is all about smearing and getting rid of Corbyn’s chief supporters before attacking and unseating the man himself.

As for the newspapers Cohen cites in his article, the Absurder and the Thunderer, neither have shown themselves even remotely to be impartial and trustworthy when it comes to the anti-Semitism smears, having published them with the same zeal as the rest of the press. Just as Private Eye has done, and no doubt for the same reasons.

This attack on Gardiner therefore looks like just another Blairite/Tory hit piece on a close Corbyn aide, consisting of nothing but lies and, at best, half-truths, from liars like David Collier, the CAA and Cohen himself. It’s disgraceful that such vicious smear merchants should be given such space by the media, and it’s a damning indictment of the Eye that it has also followed them in doing so.

Hypocrite Amber Rudd Demands Chris Williamson’s Constituency Labour Party Be Investigated for Anti-Semitism

March 4, 2019

More staggering hypocrisy from Amber Rudd. She’s in today’s I newspaper for the fourth of March, 2019, demanding that Jeremy Corbyn investigate Chris Williamson’s constituency Labour party for anti-Semitism. She claimed that in it, Jews had been abused and taunted. What a pack of lies! Jewish members of the party up and down the country have come forward, like Haim Bresheeth and the members of Jewish Voice for Labour, to say that they’ve been members of the Labour party and have never suffered anti-Semitism. The article does, however, betray the real reason for her accusing them of hating Jews: some of them have had the temerity to demand that he be reinstated. I’m not a member of the Labour party, but I have joined them in signing a petition on Change.org calling for Williamson’s reinstatement.

It seems here that Rudd is simply following the tactics of Luciana Berger, who wanted Liverpool Wavertree CLP suspended or expelled in toto as anti-Semites, because they wanted to deselect her. They weren’t anti-Semitic. They were just sick of her not representing them, but instead following the Blairite line of supporting the rich and demanding Tory policies. And Berger’s and Rudd’s attitude is very much like the way Brecht described the East German government when the sent the tanks in against their people when they protested against the Stalinist tyranny. He quipped that they saw the people as in the wrong, and demanded their dissolution. It’s become one of the classic quotes against Stalinism and authoritarian Communism. But it exactly fits the Tories and Blairites.

It’s also massively hypocritical coming from Rudd and the Tories because of the massive racism in their party. I’ve put up a couple of pieces discussing the revelations by other bloggers of the colossal racism in the Tory ranks, particularly on the internet groups supporting Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg. These have demanded the deportation of British people of colour, vilified Blacks and other ethnic minorities, demanded that Muslims be barred from politics, promoted stupid, racist and false conspiracy theories about Jews plotting to destroy White Europe, wanted Muslims banned from political activism or holding posts in government, local and nation; and ranted about demolishing mosques, shooting and bombing Muslims and other immigrants, and urged their members to prepare for civil war. The percentage of real anti-Semites in the Labour party is 3.6. The percentage of anti-Semites in the Tories is 3.9. But the amount of racism against other ethnic minorities is much higher.

Which is obvious when you consider Tweezer’s ‘hostile environment’ policy against immigration, the shameful Windrush deportations and the vans and posters May put up calling for illegal immigrants to hand themselves in and others to report them.

The real, vicious, dangerous, murderous racism is in the Tories. And Rudd herself and her mistress May clearly support it by doing nothing to weed it out, all the while baying hypocritically about anti-Semitism in Labour.

 

Belgian MPs Claim British Pensioners Receiving ‘Hitler Handouts’

February 22, 2019

I found this grimly fascinating snippet in today’s I for 22nd February 2019 on page 2, entitled ‘British pensioners on Hitler handouts’. It runs

Dozens of British pensioners are still receiving secret payments from Germany for collaborating with the Nazis, a group of Belgian MPs claim. They say the former collaborators, along with ex-SS guards, could be receiving up to £1,100 tax-free cash per month, thanks to a decree made by Hitler that was not revoked.

I can very well believe it. And how these Nazis and collaborators got here is a real scandal that the British secret state most definitely does not want the public to know about. They were recruited by the British intelligence agencies after the War, because they were believed to be useful in tackling the threat of Soviet espionage during the Cold War. I’ve got a feeling the West German secret service also recruited them for the same reason. This is probably also the reason why Hitler’s decree giving these horrors pensions was never revoked. And their presence in the West German intelligence agencies didn’t do them any good whatsoever. Markus Wolf, the head of the East German secret service still turned the West German spy agency into Swiss cheese.

Ken Livingstone discusses the scandal of the recruitment of former Nazis and their collaborators in his 1987 book, Livingstone’s Labour. He describes how some of them were giving jobs in the mining industry, and the disgust of the other miners at seeing them and their Nazi tattoos in the showers. Livingstone’s book, with its strong condemnation of any kind of racism, amply demonstrates that whatever Red Ken was, he definitely wasn’t an anti-Semite. Indeed one Jewish blogger, who belonged to the Jewish Socialist Group, posted up a piece stating that the man Private Eye dubs ‘Leninspart’ drew the ire of the Board of Deputies on one occasion because he gave the Jewish Socialists a small grant. This angered the Board, which is in any case very Conservative establishment, because the Jewish Socialist Group were not affiliated to them and so were outside their control. They were, to quote another anti-Semitic trope ‘the wrong kind of Jews’. You know, not nice, cosy, right-wing Jews that are part of the British right-wing establishment. The other kind of Jews, all those awkward fellows from eastern Europe, who were into anarchism, socialism and Marxism. The kind of people in the Jewish Bund in Poland and the former Russian Empire, who wanted to live in their ancestral homelands in peace, friendship and equality with their gentile compatriots. The type of Jews the British Zionist establishment is trying to smear as ‘anti-Semitic’ and ‘self-hating’.

Livingstone called out these Nazis thirty years ago, which is probably one of the reasons the British establishment cordially hates him. And the Blairites and Israel lobby in the Labour party despise him because he dared to tell the truth about Israel: that the Zionists did collaborate with Hitler for a while to send Jewish colonists to Israel. And the Board despises anyone who does not automatically and uncritically support Israel and its ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians, just as they really despise genuinely socialist Jews.

It’s almost certainly true that British Nazis are receiving pensions from the Third Reich. And it’s a glaring scandal that they were ever recruited in the first place. Those pensions should be stopped, the British secret state’s recruitment of them should be made very public. And Livingstone and all the others, who have been unjustly smeared as anti-Semites should be readmitted into the party and duly given apologies.

Is Margaret Hodge an Hysterical, Paranoid Lunatic?

February 21, 2019

I wonder about the sanity of some of the witch-hunters accusing people of anti-Semitism in the Labour party. Or at least their sense of proportion. Margaret Hodge, who claimed that Ruth George’s perfectly reasonable inquiry into whether the Labour Splitters were funded by Israel, is a case in point. She caused outrage and disgust a few months ago when she screamed at Corbyn in the House of Commons, and reviled him as ‘a f***ing anti-Semite’. For which she was duly suspended under Labour party rules that apply to everyone.

This was too much for her sensitive soul, and she compared the stress this had caused her with the fear Jews in the Third Reich felt, waiting for the knock on the door from the Gestapo ready to send them to the death camps. People, who really had had family imprisoned in the concentration camps were rightly outraged. Hodge was attacked for her grossly insensitive comments by Jews, whose family had been sent to these murder factories, and also by non-Jews, who had also had family members incarcerated for their opposition to Hitler’s Reich. Like a young man, whose Sudeten German grandfather was sent there because he was a Communist.

The witch-hunters were also outraged a week or so ago when Jenny Formby dared to reveal the truth about anti-Semitism in the Labour party: there actually wasn’t a lot of it, and only a very few people had actually been expelled. This was too much for them, who can’t stand the thought that anyone they’ve denounced could possibly be innocent. Hodge herself whined that this couldn’t possibly be true, as she’d denounced 200 people.

200? What party did she think she was in? The BNP, the Klan or something? The Labour party is now, thanks to Corbyn, the largest Socialist party in Europe, and as a mass party it obviously is going to include some anti-Semites. But real research shows that anti-Semitism in the Labour party has actually fallen under Corbyn, and is lower than in wider British society. Also, other Jews and Jewish groups have come forward, like Jewish Voice for Labour, and a group of Orthodox rabbis. The good rabbis said that they had absolute confidence in Corbyn, while the peeps at Jewish Voice for Labour said that although there was anti-Semitism in the party, they had never personally, or only very rarely, ever personally experienced it. These were Labour members of long standing, who had been active in their local constituency parties.

But the accusations of anti-Semitism aren’t really about anti-Semitism. Not as it is defined by Wilhelm Marr, the founder of the German Bund Anti-Semiten, who coined the term. He said that it was hatred of Jews, simply as Jews. This is the standard dictionary definition. What Hodge and co see as anti-Semitism is actually criticism of Israel. And long term Jewish critics of the Israeli state and its brutal maltreatment of the Palestinians, like Norman Finkelstein, have made the point Israel defends itself by accusing its critics of being anti-Semites. And this is what has been going on here.

And what the witch-hunters decide is a basis for an accusation of anti-Semitism is very, very wide. One young man was accused of anti-Semitism and expelled, or suspended, because he posted a picture of a Jobcentre sign carrying the slogan ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’, the infamous inscription above the gates of Auschwitz. His accusers maintained that he was somehow denigrating Jewish suffering in the Holocaust. But he wasn’t. He was denigrating the suffering of the jobless inflicted by the DWP under Ian Duncan Smith. Who had begun an article actually quoting this infamous slogan, and saying that it should be rehabilitated because of its usefulness in getting people back into work. It was, he wrote, part of his ethos. Not surprisingly, his editors weren’t impressed, and this part of his article was removed a few hours later. But the Gentleman Ranker had said, nonetheless. And Tony Greenstein and others also pointed out that the inscription was on all the concentration camps, whose members also included the long-term unemployed, people declared arbeitscheu, or ‘workshy’, by the Nazis.

In fact Hodge’s denunciation of 200 hundred people doesn’t remind me of serious accusations, so much as the hysterical persecutions that have occurred in very repressive societies in the past. Like the witch craze in 16th and 17th century Europe, in which people could be accused of witchcraft for the flimsiest of reasons. Or the horrific purges of Stalin’s Russia, where voicing even the slightest comment, which could be considered disrespectful of the tyrant could see you arrested by the NKVD and sent to the gulags. One man was arrested simply for remarked that Stalin didn’t seem quite well when the dictator coughed or something similar during a speech. It also reminded me of all the nutters that wrote into the FBI denouncing anyone and everyone as a Communist agent during the Red scare of the Cold War. Or indeed of the quarter of the East German population that were spying on their friends and neighbours to the Stasi.

It also reminds me of a very dark joke I heard once by an American comedian years ago on one of Bob Monkhouse’s shows on the Beeb in the 1980s. This was a series in which Monkhouse interviewed other comedians, including Pamela Stephenson before she returned to psychiatry. One of his guests was an American comedian, whose act included a parody of the stereotypical, racist southern sheriff. Putting on the accent and persona, the comedian told the following joke.

‘You know, I can tell if someone’s a murderer simply by the look in their eye. And if they got that look in their eye, I hang them. Well, one day I saw this black man, and he had that look in his eye. So I hung him.’

If you know the history of lynching in the Deep South, then it’s probably not a joke. Blacks – and other minorities – were lynched for almost no reason at all, simply for being ‘disrespectful’ to Whites. And the local community would celebrate their deaths, holding a mass party and even breaking pieces off the victims bodies to take home as souvenirs. Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks has described this in one of their videos. British anti-racist YouTuber Kevin Logan has also mentioned it in one of his, complete with a photograph taken as one such lynching, showing the crowds gathering and rejoicing around two lynched Blacks. Some idea of the pressure and fear of that environment came across very clearly in the Dr. Who story at the beginning of the season about Rosa Parks.

I’m not accusing Hodge of being racist. But I am accusing her of having the same paranoia that has motivated witch-hunters and persecutors, like those in Stalin’s Russia and the anti-Communist fanatics of the ’50s.

So what did those 200 people do, that made her accuse them of anti-Semitism. Does she think she has the ability to see if someone’s an anti-Semite, just by looking in their eye? And did she accuse those 200 simply because they looked at her funny? It might not have been quite because of that, but I very much doubt that the reason she gave was much stronger.

Giles Udy Tries Fomenting Red Scare against Corbyn and Labour

February 4, 2019

The Tories must really be in trouble. Not only are their supporters claiming they’re ahead in the polls, based simply on the evidence of one poll, and their fellow travelers in the Labour party are talking of quitting because of anti-Semitism, yet again, but the Tory press is now trying to run another Red Scare campaign.

This type of anti-Labour propaganda began with the Zinovieff letter in the 1920s. This purported to be a letter from the head of the Comintern in Communist Russia urging Labour to turn Britain into Communist state. It may have cost Labour the election that year, though some historians have suggested that Labour would have lost anyway and the letter itself didn’t make much difference. It certainly didn’t come from the Soviet Union, but was cooked up much closer to home by MI5.

In 1987 when Thatcher was up against Neil Kinnock, the Tory press ran it again. This time they claimed that there was a group of Labour MPs, who were secret Communists. If Labour was elected, they would oust Kinnock, seize power and turn Britain into a Communist state. The Scum also ran a double page spread of various left-wing Labour MPs, like Ken Livingstone and Diane Abbott, with quotes underneath them intended to scare the public into believing they were dealing with the ‘loony left’, as the Tories called them. The quote purporting to come from Red Ken had him saying that he didn’t believe in the British army, but in a worker’s army to guard the factories. And Diane Abbott was supposed to have said that ‘all White people are racist’. At the same time, the Tory press had been loudly telling everyone that Livingstone was a Marxist. Those who knew him made it clear that he wasn’t. He could sound like them on occasions, and was quite willing to use them. But he was never a Communist. So it’s a fair bet that Livingstone and Abbott may never have made the comments the Scum attributed to them, or if they did, they were ripped out of context. In any case there was no secret cabal of Commies within the Labour party plotting to seize power and turn us into the UKSSR.

Not that it stopped one of the Thatcher’s favourite novelists, Frederick Forsythe, writing another thriller based on this premise. This was about MI5 working to prevent Moscow turning Britain into a Soviet satellite through a group of infiltrators, who had worked their way into a Labour party headed by someone, who bore more than a little similarity to Michael Foot.

Now it seems the Tories are running the same scare tactics again. Zelo Street today has put up a very interesting piece about historian Giles Udy, who issued a series of Tweets promoting a forthcoming article in Tory political magazine Standpoint. Udy claims that Labour has a ‘shadow manifesto’ which states that capitalism has taken Britain to the abyss and only the seizure of power by the working class can save us. This document predicts that this revolution will be opposed by a Fascist dictatorship run by industrialists and newspaper editors, which will start a White Terror with death squads. This will only be avoided if the police, civil service, armed forces, security services and the judicial system are purged and replaced with supporters of the revolution. The lower ranks will be sent for re-education.

This is, of course, all twaddle. Zelo Street makes it clear that if you actually look at the article, you’ll find that the document in question doesn’t come from Labour. Not at all. It comes from the Communist Party of Britain’s 25,000 word piece, Britain’s Road to Socialism. This might actually cause a problem for a real journalist or historian, who would be well aware that this very obviously does not come from the Labour party. Udy tries to wave this objection away by saying that the words ‘socialist’, ‘democratic socialist’ and ‘communist’ are virtually interchangeable to describe followers of Marx. As Zelo Street remarks, they aren’t at all, and this is fraudulent in the extreme.

See: http://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2019/02/giles-udy-corbyn-red-scare-busted.html

In fact, Udy has previous in trying to smear Corbyn and other members of the Labour party as agents of Moscow. In February last year he issued a series of Tweets touting an article by him in the Torygraph. This was at the time the Tory press were claiming that Corbyn had passed information on to the Czech secret service, despite the fact that he didn’t. Udy claimed that Corby and Abbott must have met party officials when they went on holiday in the former DDR, and that the Stasi would have preserved records of these meetings. Except that Corbyn and Abbott didn’t meet anyone from Honecker’s ruling party, and the Stasi didn’t have any records of them doing so. Those facts did not deter Udy. He claimed that he didn’t believe Corbyn had taken money from the East Germans, but he was only one of various deluded members of the Labour party, who were admirers of socialist totalitarianism, and lamented the fact that Blair’s revolution hadn’t cleaned them all out. The other high-ranking Labour figure and trade unionist, who had taken Soviet money, he claimed, was Jack Jones, the former head of the Transport and General Workers Union, now Unite. He also claimed that Jones’ wife had been a Soviet agent since the 1930s. This was all bilge. He only had one source for this nonsense, and that was the Soviet defector and liar Oleg Gordievsky. But Jones and his wife were safely dead, and so couldn’t sue.

http://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2018/02/corbyn-smear-enter-useful-idiot.html

Udy was supposed to be a historian of the gulags, and was respected on the Right supposedly for his insight into the Labour party and Soviet Union. But Zelo Street said that after this article, he squandered whatever little credibility he had, and was just a paranoid fraud. ‘So no change there’.

None whatsoever. When things get tough for the Tories, run a scare story about them and Communism. This posed a problem when Blair was in power, as he was as right-wing as they were. They solved it then by published various fictions predicting that sometime in the next decade the remains of the European socialist parties would united with the Muslims to start a new Holocaust of European Jews. Frederick Raphael reviewed a book, which had this as its theme, set in France, around about 2004 in the Spectator as I recall. Now that they’ve got a real left-winger to fear and smear in the case of Corbyn, they’ve dropped all the stuff about Islam and are going back to Communism.

As for Standpoint itself, it’d be very interesting to know what connections it has, if any, with the British or American secret state. When the roughly left leaning political magazine, Prospect, first appeared about a decade or so ago, Lobster noted that it was more than a little like Encounter, another political mag from the ’60s – ’70s that was revealed to have been financed by the CIA. The right-wing press in this country has been running articles from the British secret state. It’s therefore quite possible that British intelligence or one of its nominally independent subsidiaries has been feeding it bilge about the Labour party as well. Like the smears against Corbyn and other British, American and European political figures claiming they were agents of Putin by the Integrity Initiative.

Which brings us right back to MI5 and the Zinoviev letter. And how old and shopworn the Tories’ smear tactics are.

Private Eye and Lobster on the Pinay Circle

January 24, 2019

This fortnight’s Private Eye, for 25th January to 7th February 2019 also published a very interesting article for conspiracy watchers on the Pinay Circle, now simply known as ‘Le Cercle’. This is a secret organization of extreme right-wing politicians, intelligence agents and businessmen. The Eye’s article reports how two Tory MPs, Mark Garnier and Greg Hands, attended one of their meetings in Washington last June. The article, ‘Spooky Circles’ on page 11, runs

DESPITE the convulsions in the Tory party, two former trade ministers still found time before Christmas to attend a secretive conference in the US stuffed with spies and business people.

Wyre Forest MP Mark Garnier, sacked as international trade minister a year ago after calling his secretary “sugar tits” and asking her to buy sex toys, and Chelsea and Fulham MP Greg Hands, a minister in the same department until he resigned over Heathrow expansion last June, both attended a Washington meeting of Le Cercle, a hush-hush foreign affairs group with a strong interest in international security.

According to the latest parliamentary register, the MPs’ four-to-five day trips cost 4,000 pounds per MP. Hands says he spoke on “international trade”. Given their former ministerial posts, it seems likely both men discussed the UK’s prospects post-Brexit.

Le Cercle was founded in the 1950s by a former French prime minister and a former German chancellor as a pro-European body that would cement Franco-German relations and strengthen US-European alliances. Today it has strong links with the intelligence world and to hawkish US politicians. Former Tory minister Alan Clark claimed it was funded by the CIA.

As Wikileaks revealed via a letter from former Tory defence secretary Michael Ancram, who chaired Le Cercle in 2012, its meetings are “attended by about 80 to 100 people” who are “largely European and American – Members of Parliament, diplomats, members of the intelligence community, commentators and businessmen from over 25 countries”. Who they are and what they discuss is never fully disclosed as “there is no Press and everything that is said is off the record”.

Hawkish free marketer US politicians like Paul Wolfowitz and Donald Rumsfeld have been notable Le Cercle attendees. There is widespread suspicion the group receives corporate as well as intelligence funding, but the source is also secret. What better way for Tories to explore possible new trade relations with the US and Europe than a secretive trip to DC to meet un-named spies, Republicans and business people?

Hands is particularly well placed to make sure multinationals influence new trade relations. In November, five months after resigning, he accepted a part-time job as a “political consultant/adviser” to giant French bank BNP Paribas which is reported paying him 108,000 pounds a year on top of his MP’s salary.

The long-running conspiracies/parapolitical magazine Lobster has published several articles on the Pinay Circle, as it used to be called, way back in issues 11, 17, and 18. Issue 17 contained two reports from the German intelligence agencies on the circle, analyzing a piece of correspondence which suggested that it was running plots in Britain, Germany and elsewhere to promote right-wing politicians – Thatcher over here, and the notorious Franz-Josef Strauss in the Bundesrepublik. David Teacher’s article, ‘The Pinay Circle and Destabilisation in Europe’ in Lobster 18, page 22, contains more information on the Circle itself, and its possible involvement in various plots to destabilize left-wing or opposition governments across the world. This contained the following passage briefly describing the organization and its activities.

The Pinacy Circle (also called the Cercle Violet) is an international right-wing propaganda group which brings together serving or retired intelligence officers and politicians with links to right-wing intelligence factions from most of the countries in Europe. The intelligence community has been represented by SIS Chief from 1978-82, Arthur ‘Dicke’ Franks, SIS Department Head Nicholas Elliott, CIA Director William Colby, Swiss Military Intelligence Chief of Provisions, Colonel Botta, SDECE chief from 1970-81 Alexandre de Marenches, and, last but not least, the man who took over the running of the Circle when Pinay got too old, Jean Violet, a Parisian Lawyer who worked for the SDECE from 1957-70. violet became so much an ’eminence grise’ in the SCESE that Alexandre de Marenches had to dispense with his services in order to assert his authority as new SDECE chief in 1970. This episode has however not prevented them from working together within the Circle. At the time the Langemann papers were written, both Franks and Marenches were serving heads of British and French intelligence respectively.

On the political side, Pinay – a former French Prime Minister – forged links with Nixon, Kissinger and Pompidou. The Circle’s present members include Giulio Andreotti, former Italian Prime Minister; Portuguese putschist General Antonio de Spinola; former Franco minister and senior Opus Dei member Silvio Munoz; and Vatican prelate and BND agent Monsignore Brunello. Paul violet, Jean Violet’s son, is one of Chirac’s closest advisors, nicknamed ‘the adjutant’ by Canard Enchaine. Langemann also reports that Sir Arthur Franks and Nicholas Elliott were invited to Chequers for a working meeting with Mrs Thatcher, after her election. But perhaps the key political figure was the late Franz Josef Strauss, Bavarian Premier and Langemann’s boss.

Strauss was a close friend of Alexandre de Marenches and was a frequ8ent visitor to the SDECE’s headquarters during Marenches’ time. The Hanns-Seidel-Stiftung, the political trust attached to Strauss’ Christian Social Union party, is an important group in international parapolitical manipulation. Active in Latin America for the Contras, supporting Mobuto in Zaire, involved in the Fiji coup in 1987, it was caught diverting state development aid from Germany into right-wing party coffers in Ecuador in the same year. Strauss and CSU were the main beneficiaries of identified Pinay Circle activities; i.e. the promotion of right-wing European politicians through Brian Crozier, Robert Moss, Fred Luchsinger of the Neue Zurcher Zeitung and Gerhard Luwenthal, anchorman on current affairs programmes for ZDF television, the major German network.

The Pinacy Circle has a wide range of contacts and its members interlock with the whole panoply of right-wing/parallel intelligence and propaganda agencies – WACL, Heritage Foundation, Western Goals, ISC, Freedom Association, Interdoc, the Bilderberg Group, the Jonathan Institute, P2, Opus Dei, the Moonies’ front CAUSA, IGFM ((International Society for Human Rights), and Resistance International. Lowenthal, for instance, is a member of IGFM, Resistance International, WACL, CAUSA, the Jonathan Institute, Konservative Aktion and the European Institute on Security.

The Pinay Circle’s significance lies in the fact that it is a forum which brings together the international linkmen of the Right like Crozier, Moss and Lowenthal, with secret service chiefs like Franks and Marenches. Through such contacts it can intervene by media action or covert funding whenever and wherever a political friend is in need of support. (p. 22).

The minutes of the Pinay Circle’s meeting in Zurich in June 1980s discussed the possibilities of securing the election of Strauss in Germany and Ronald Reagan in the US. It also discussed the Saudis opening a radio transmitter to broadcast into Russia and supporting the Israeli intelligence unit. The evidence linking the Circle to attempts to remove left-wing politicians across the world was so strong that Teacher concluded that

It is becoming more and more apparent that the treatment reserved for Harold Wilson at the hands of the intelligence services was only the UK end of an international phenomenon. Around 1973-5 a surprising number of governments were targeted by their own 9or others’) intelligence agencies because of their radical policies. If the world political scene in the 1960’s was one of the decolonization, then the 1970’s was the decade of destabilization. Among those cases of destabilization we were already aware of are:

– the UK: the concerted effort by elements in the British intelligence and security services, with CIA and BOSS, to bring down Wilson, Thorpe and Heath.

– the USA: the CIA’s Operation Chaos, the FBI’s Cointelpro programme and, of course, Watergate

– Australia: the loans scandal and other destabilization of Gough Whitlam by the CIA and SIS.

– West Germany: the destabilization of Willi Brandt because of his overture to ‘the other Germany’ through Ostpolitik. The CIA and MI5 (5) suspected Brandt of being recruited by Moscow during his wartime service with the resistance in Scandinavia. (p. 23).

The article also pointed out that Nicholas Elliott was a member of the Wilkinson/McWhirter/Ivens group, the Research Foundation for the Study of Terrorism, and speculate whether the Pinay Circle was involved in attempts to destabilise Mitterand’s government in France in 1974, the murder of Olof Palme in Sweden, and a possible attempted Fascist coup in Belgium in 1973. Of this latter, Teacher writes

Issue 17 of Celsius devotes six pages to the study of a coup d’état planned by gendarmerie officers and extreme right-wing groups in 1973. The article – ‘The big bad look of the 1970’s: the destabilization of the State’ – is based on the confessions of Martial Lekeu, a former gendarme who fled to the USA when sought for questioning in the ‘Killers of the Brabant Wallon’ enquiry. The killers, who specialized in holding-up supermarkets with maximum violence and minimum loot, killed 28 people between 1982 and 1985, always attacking the same chain of supermarkets on the same day of th week with the same kind of car, needlessly gunning people down and then escaping with cash rarely more than a few thousand pounds. Leukeu stated what many suspected: the killers were part of a political psy ops campaign aimed at reinforcing the State structures. Whether there is a link between the 1973 coup plans and the 1980’s destabilization remains to be seen: various parliamentary enquiries and comm9issions have so far failed to get to the bottom of the affair. (p. 24.) Teacher regrets, however, that information on the group and its activities are very limited, consisting of the 1972 ISC memo and the minutes released by Langemann in the Bavarian parliament in 1979-80.

It’s clear from this that the Circle is a very sinister organization with connections to other extreme right-wing groups, like WACL, whose name stands for World Anti-Communist League, and whose members include real Fascists and Nazis. I’m not surprised that the Tories sent two of their MPs to its meeting last year. The Tories’ right wing has always overlapped with some deeply unpleasant groups and organisations. Western Goals, an American Republican organization, according to Lobster, had a British subsidiary, Western Goals UK, which was also linked to them.

What is also interesting is that Private Eye published its piece on the Pinay Circle at all, considering how it called Nisar Malik a conspiracy theorist for believing in the Zionist control of the media. It seems the Eye is open to discussing real conspiracies, so long as they don’t involve the real, documented subterfuge and plotting of the Israeli state.

Poll Shows 58 Per Cent of Russians Would Like Communism to Come Back

November 25, 2017

This is another great little video from Jason Unruhe of Maoist Rebel News. I’ve already made my opinion about Mao and Stalin very clear: they were mass murdering monsters, who made their countries great through the deaths of millions of their own countrymen. 30 million + soviet citizens died in Stalin’s purges and gulags. 60 million died of famine and in re-education camps during Mao’s wretched ‘Cultural Revolution’.

Nevertheless, these totalitarian states gave their people some benefits. And it shows in the nostalgia many people across the former eastern bloc feel for the old system. According to a poll by RT, 58 per cent of Russians said they would like the Soviet Union to return. 14 per cent stated it was quite feasible at the moment. Forty-four per cent said it was unfeasible, but desirable. 31 per cent said that they would not be happy even if events took such a turn. And 10 per cent could not give a simple answer to the question.

Unruhe then goes into the reasons why so many Russians want the USSR back. He points out that the majority of Russians are not Communists, do not identify with the Communist party and are not members of it. He says it was because there were better jobs, with better pay, far more stability, better vacation times and a higher standard of living. They also had a better infrastructure, which collapsed along with the USSR. He points out that we’ve all seen the images of abandoned, decaying areas which have had their funding withdrawn due to the collapse of Communism. They had a military that the world feared and that the Americans were terrified was going to destroy them all. They also couldn’t be bullied, and they were capable of retaliating in huge ways. Sanctions couldn’t hurt them, and couldn’t destroy their financial system. The Soviet people had a country they could be proud of, and although Putin is pushing Russian independence, he can’t do it nearly to the extent that the old Soviet Union could. And so it actually means something when people, who aren’t Communists, say they’re in favour of its return.

There’s a quote from one of the old Labour thinkers, to the effect that everyone, who believes in human rights must hate the USSR. But everyone, who genuinely has Socialism in his core also admires it.

As I understand it, They old Soviet system was massively sclerotic, with colossal overmanning in industry and enterprises. For example, you couldn’t simply pick up what you wanted at the shops. You had to queue to be served, then pick out what you wanted, and then wait for it to be served to you, and to pay for it. I’ve read of people in architect’s office spending their days transferring figures from one column to another, in what was supposed to be a good job that some people had been working towards for years. Utterly soul destroying.

But at the same time, the state was expected to provide full employment. And it did it, albeit at the expense of quality work. And I’ve no doubt that the pay was better, that people did have better holidays, organised through the trade unions and state leisure organisations. You could go and take a vacation down at one of the spa resorts on the Black Sea.

And everything he says about the Soviet Union’s industrial and military power is also correct. In the 1950s under Khrushchev, the Soviet Union made such rapid advances that the Americans were terrified that they would win, and overtake capitalism as the affluent, consumer society. Didn’t happen, but it would have been brilliant if it had.

And Unruhe is also correct when he says that the Russians were no threat to Europe or the West. They weren’t. After the initial expansion, the apparatchiks and nomenclature in the Communist party were content with simply holding the system together and feathering their own nests with Western goods they brought back from their diplomatic travels abroad.

As for the Russians not being Communists, I can remember being told by Ken Surin at College, who is now a writer for Counterpunch, that there were more Communists in America than the USSR. Having said that, Soviet citizens grew up in an explicitly political environment, where they were indoctrinated with atheism and the ideal of the Communist regime. Some of that is going to sink in, even if they are otherwise alienated from the Communist party.

But the introduction of capitalism under Yeltsin destroyed Communism, and dam’ near destroyed Russia. The economy went into meltdown, so that instead of paying their workers wages, factories paid them in kind. In one firm making sewing machines, they gave their workers those machines.

And the economic meltdown directly affected people’s health. Russia didn’t have a welfare state as such. There was no unemployment benefit, as you didn’t need one. Unless you were a subversive ‘parasite’ and an enemy of the system, the state found you work. But there was a free, state medical service, with more doctors than America. In practice, how well you were treated depended on your ‘blat’ – your clout, leverage, whatever. It was a very corrupt system. But this melted down along with the economy, and doctors started going private. Just as they’re continuing to do under Putin.

As a result, illness rates shot up. In Lukashenko’s Beloruss, which retained the Communist system, people remained as healthy – or unhealthy – as they were before Communism collapsed in the USSR.

And none of this was done for the Russians’ benefit. Oh, Yeltsin hoped that capitalism would improve things in Russia, but it was all financed, once again, by Clinton and the Americans, who poured tens of millions into political advertising.

I’ve already made my own low opinion of Lenin abundantly clear: but he was right in his pamphlet Imperialism: the Highest Stage of Capitalism. Russia, and other less developed nations like it, were held back by global capitalism. They were then. And it’s the same goal now, except that as Killary can’t have her way she’s starting a new Cold War.

Well, millions of Russians want their country back.
And they’re not alone. You can find roughly the same percentage all over the former Communist bloc. The former Soviet satellites hate the Russians, particularly in Poland. But they had a better standard of living, work, and a system that had larger ideals. They were told that they were the progressive vanguard leading humanity to a brighter, better future. Racism was there, but it was frowned on. Women were treated as second-class citizens, but at the same time the state and Marxist ideology was also concerned with their liberation and getting them into masculine jobs.

And some of the old Communist countries weren’t that far behind the West. I’ve read that if you tweaked the stats a little, then economically the old East Germany was about equal, or just behind, the north of England. Which isn’t an advert for Communism, but even less of one for Thatcherite capitalism.

In short there’s a saying going round eastern Europe: ‘Everything the Communists told us about Communism was a lie. Everything they told us about capitalism was true.’

Capitalism isn’t working. And the peoples of eastern Europe know this. It isn’t working here either, but we’re too blinded by the mass media, and the illusions of past imperial greatness, to realise it.

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.