Archive for the ‘England’ Category

Sturgeon’s Not Responsible for Kids Queuing for Soup: The Tories Are

January 27, 2023

That Preston Journalist, whose real name, I am assured by the great people who comment here, is Ashley Kaminski, put up a genuinely heart-breaking video last night. People had been queuing outside a soup kitchen in Glasgow. Among the adults were ten children, including a babe in arms. Kaminski thought that this was terrible, as he should. He’s an avowed opponent of Nicola Sturgeon and all her works, dubbing her ‘McKrankie’ after her supposed resemblance to one half of a double act back in the 1980s. From the tone of his piece, he clearly wanted to blame her, but couldn’t quite. It was wrong, he said, whoever was responsible.

Okay, I don’t know what powers the devolved Scots parliament has, especially regarding welfare policies. I am sure that many Scots voted SNP, not because they wanted independence, but simply because they wanted a proper welfare state, something that wasn’t being offered by Jim Murphy’s Scottish Labour party. But this scandalous situation has been around far longer than the SNP’s administration, and it afflicts communities right across Britain. In Scotland there was a parliamentary inquiry into food banks a few years ago. One of those speaking before the committee was a volunteer, who described the intensely dispiriting deprivation and poverty he saw as he did his job. And I can remember putting up a 19th-early 20th century poem about children queuing outside a food kitchen. It’s disgusting that Britain has returned to such levels of poverty.

But Krankie isn’t responsible. The Tories are. They’ve insisted on wages so low working families can’t make ends meet, and cut welfare payments again and again, all with mantra of encouraging ‘welfare scroungers’ to look for work, making work pay and all the other nonsense. They’ve also introduced benefit sanction after benefit sanction, all with the same intention. It also helps to fiddle the unemployment statistics, as if they’re off the DHSS’ books, they aren’t counted as unemployed.

It’s possible that Sturgeon’s policies aren’t helping the situation north of the border. But the ultimate blame lies with the Tories, and it started when Ruth Davidson, the head of the Conservatives up there, was in power. And Sturgeon definitely isn’t responsible for it down south in England and Wales.

The Tories are. It started under Cameron.

They’re starving children.

Get them out!

Friar Roger Bacon’s Technological Prediction

December 29, 2022

Roger Bacon was a 13th century English friar and early scientist. He was an Aristotelian, but believed in experiment rather than just relying on observation and the acceptance of received opinion. He also predicted some of the inventions of the 19th and 20th centuries, such as self-driving ships, cars and flying machines. He made these startling predictions in a letter to a William of Paris in a letter, the Epistola de Secretis Operibus of 1260. This stated

‘Now an instrument for sailing without oarsmen can be produced such that the larger ships, both riverboats and seagoing vessels, can be moved under the direction of a single man at a greater velocity than if they were filled with men. A chariot can be made that moves at unimaginable speed without horses; such we think to have been the scythe-bearing chariots with which men fought in antiquity. And an instrument for flying can be made, such that a man sits in the middle of it, turning some sort of device by which artificially constructed wings beat the air in the way a flying bird does’.

(Trans. Michael S. Mahoney, quoted in Mike Ashley, Yesterday’s Tomorrows: The Story of Classic British Science Fiction in 100 Books (London: British Library 2020) 56.

As you can see, he doesn’t know how such devices could be constructed, and his description of how an aircraft would work is wrong, although people have constructed such ornithopters. But nevertheless he was right in that science and technological has led to the invention of these kinds of machines. It also struck me that there’s material in there for SF and Fantasy writers to imagine the kind of Middle Ages that would have arisen had Bacon or his contemporaries invented such devices, or what the ancient world would have been like had Bacon been right about the technology he believed they possessed.

Video on Archaeology’s Challenge to Enlightenment Accounts of Origins of States and Inequality

December 8, 2022

This is a fascinating video I found on Novara Media’s channel the other day. In it, host Aaron Bastani talks to archaeologist David Wengrow about the origins of the state and the development of social inequality. Wengrow argues that the evidence from archaeology challenges assumptions that prehistoric and preliterate peoples were incapable of rationally deciding for themselves what kind of societies they wished to live in. He gives examples from prehistoric Europe and North and South America to show that ancient and indigenous peoples not only did decide on the kind of societies they wanted, but were perfectly capable of reversing trends in their societies towards authoritarianism. One of the examples of this, which I found truly jaw-dropping, was one of the city states the conquistador Hernan Cortes made alliance with against the Aztecs. Unlike the Aztec empire, that state city was a democratic republic. He also talks about the influence on Enlightenment critiques of western society of a Huron Indian chief in Canada, who was an intelligent conversationalist able to hold his own in conversations about the nature of society to such an extent that French, British and Dutch colonial authorities invited him to dinner to talk this matter over.

Wengrow starts off by stating that modern political theory about the origins of society, as taught in politics courses, is completely divorced from archaeological accounts. The theory is based on the speculations of foundational Enlightenment thinkers like Hobbes and Rousseau, who admitted that they were speculating. But these accounts are now taught as fact. Archaeological research, however, is overturning previous ideas about the origins of urban society. For example, it was believed that agriculture and urbanisation were linked and appeared together as part of the Neolithic Revolution. But this is not the case. Excavations of the ancient city of Catalhuyuk in Turkey show that while it was an urban centre, although Wengrow hesitates to call it a city, show that its people were still hunter-gatherers, living by foraging rather than agriculture. And the same is true of the settlement at Amesbury at the time Stonehenge was being built. The people then had given up agriculture, although they retained animal husbandry. It appears they had tried growing crops and then rejected it in favour of foraging.

He then goes on to talk about the Huron Amerindian chief. He inspired a colonist from New France, who had been expelled from the colony, to write a book based on the chief and his dinner conversation when the colonist was penniless in Amsterdam. This became a massive Enlightenment bestseller, and inspired other books by Voltaire and others in which Chinese, Tahitians and other outsiders criticise European society. Wengrow states that the Indian societies surprise western Europeans because they were much less hierarchical than they were, and contact with these societies and the indigenous critics of western civilisation did influence European political philosophy. We easily accept that Europe took over many material products from these nations, but are much less ready to accept the idea that they influenced our ideas, even though the Enlightenment philosophers said that they had.

He also talks about Cahokia, a great pyramid and city state in the Mississippi valley in America. This appears to be another example of a society, in which people rebelled or simply walked away from authority and hierarchy. It was also another indigenous monument that was ascribed to everyone else but the native peoples when it was first discovered, and is now disrespected by having a road driven through it. When it was constructed, the local society seems to have been hierarchical. At the top of the mound is a structure from which all of the city could be viewed. But sometime after its heyday it was abandoned. The traditional reasons are that the climate changed, but Wengrow finds that unconvincing. What seems to have happened instead is that people simply got tired of living in such a society and walked away.

Tenochtitlan, one of the great cities in ancient Mexico, is another example of a strongly hierarchical society that underwent profound social change and became more democratic. Wengrow states that it’s a massive state, and they owe a debt to the French scholar who produced detailed maps of it. When it first emerged, it was hierarchical but then the nature of society changed. People started living in high-quality, single-floor homes. These were so good they were originally thought to be palaces, but now it appears they were villas occupied by ordinary citizens. At some point, the people of Tenochtitlan decided that they wanted a more equal society, to the extent that some scholars believe that there was a revolution.

Then there is the case of the democratic city state Cortes encountered. This really was democratic, as there are accounts of the debates in its assembly. This astonished the conquistadors, as there was very little like it in Europe at the time, except some of the Florentine republics. This all challenges the notion that once society develops to a certain extent and becomes complex, inequality also emerges and is very difficult to challenge or remove. These cases show that indigenous peoples could and did. He also argues that the same may have been true of slavery. The only successful slave revolt that we know of is Toussant L’Ouverture in Haiti. But Wengrow suggests there could have been thousands of other successful slave revolts in prehistory of which we are unaware. Slavery came about, he argues, from the expense of laying out offerings for the dead. In order to leave food and drink for the dead, the bereaved had to have access to the foods themselves and so they became indebted and dependent on the people who owned those resources.

He also talks about the problems in describing some of these urban centres as cities. There are huge sites in the Ukraine, but archaeologists are hesitant about calling them cities with some preferring other terms such as ‘mega-sites’ because they aren’t centralised.

Bastani asks him at one point about the problem of pseudo-archaeology. I think this came up because Graham Hancock is currently fronting a series on Netflix claiming that way back in prehistory there was an advanced society, but that it was destroyed in a global cataclysm. Wengrow states that quite often pseudo-archaeology is based on old and discarded idea, such as Atlantis. The people involved tend not to be anyone who’s ever been on an archaeological dig, and view archaeologists as spending their lives trying to hide some momentous secret from everyone. But it can act as an entry for some people to archaeology, and he doesn’t really like the sneering attitude of some archaeologists towards it.

Wengrow himself is an interesting character. He didn’t want to be an archaeologist originally, but came to it from acting. He also worked in the BBC Arabic service. He decided at one point he wanted to get a degree, applied to the best university he could, Oxford, and sent reams of applications to its various colleges. They turned him down. Then he was told that he should apply for a place on a course that was just being set up. One of the colleges was just setting up an archaeology course, so he did. When it came to the interview, he told the interviewer that he had always wanted to be an archaeologist. At which point she held up all the previous letters he’d written. But they admitted him, and he has now had a career teaching and excavating in places like Egypt.

He states that sometimes the pseudoarchaeology about a period or culture misses the point about what’s really interesting about it. He talks about the idea that the Sphinx was constructed before the pyramids, and admits that it’s actually a reasonable question. But if you go back to the predynastic period a thousand years before the pyramids were built, you come to the burial sites of one of Egypt’s first kings. This is fascinating, although you wouldn’t know it from the dry way it has been discussed in conferences and museums like the Petrie Museum. Excellent though these are, they talk about highly specialised subjects like pot typography which is excruciatingly dull if you want to know the wider picture. The early king’s tomb is composed of room after room of the bodies of the people and occasionally the animals that were slaughtered to accompany the king into the afterlife.

The interview is based on a book Wengrow wrote with a colleague, The Dawn of Everything. Sadly, after spending a decade writing it, the co-author died just a few weeks after its completion. The book has been widely praised, and has even inspired artistic pieces. He talks about a French woman, who composed a piece of music based on it. He regrets he was unable to attend its performance thanks to jet lag coming back from somewhere, but later met the lady when she came to Britain.

I know a little about some of what he’s talking about to have no doubt that he’s absolutely right. One of the seminars in the archaeology department at Bristol, which I attended, was about how cities like Catalhuyuk were established before the appearance of agriculture. One of the huge Neolithic sites in the Ukraine is discussed in the La Rousse Encyclopedia of Archaeology. The great mound of Cahokia is also discussed in a book I bought years ago on North American Indian archaeology. I wasn’t aware that the people of Stonehenge had given up growing crops, nor of the democratic city states in South America and Mexico. This is fascinating stuff.

He’s right about archaeology contradicting the ideas of Enlightenment philosophers about the origins of society, though I’m not sure how much of a problem this is. The philosophers he discusses – Hobbes and Rousseau – were Social Contract theorists. Social Contract theory is the idea that the state and society were set up when men came together to select an authority under whom they would live, so that their lives and property would be protected. Thus the first kings. These princes are the representatives of the people, and so from the 17th century onwards the idea developed that sovereignty lay with the people, who could revoke the power they had delegated to the prince. This was the view of John Locke. However, subsequent philosophers showed that this was just conjecture, and that it could have happened like that as the people at the time were using concepts that only subsequently developed after the foundation of states and kingdoms. I thought Social Contract theory was dead, and he closest it had to a modern advocate was John Rawls in his Theory of Justice. Rawls argued that if people were just disembodied entities wishing to chose the kind of society in which they would care to live, they would choose one that had the maximum freedom and justice for everyone, as that would also include them. Away from centrist politics, the anarchists have been keenly interested in anthropology and those indigenous societies where there is no central authority.

I’m not sure how well some of this would go down with Sargon of Akkad and the Lotus Eaters. They’ve developed an interest in archaeology, recently posting a video discussing Homo Erectus, along with the Norman Conquest and ancient Rome. But Sargon is a huge fan of John Locke and describes himself as a classical liberal. I don’t know whether archaeology’s findings about the origin of early states would contradict his ideas or not.

We Own It Appeal to Send Letter to Transport Minister to Take West Coast Railway into Public Ownership

December 2, 2022

And now, after the sketches of various TV presenters and characters, here’s some serious stuff. Don’t worry if you like the art, I intend to put some more of it up later.

I got this email from pro-nationalisation, pro-NHS organisation We Own It on Wednesday appealing for people to send a form letter they have created to the transport minister to take West Coast railway out of Avanti’s hands and into that of the state. The email runs

‘Dear David,

The governments of England, Wales and Scotland have been forced to take five of our railway lines into public ownership in the last few years.

Now you have a HUGE opportunity to make it SIX. Let’s bring the West Coast Mainline into public ownership.

Can you send our letter to the Transport Secretary, Mark Harper, to demand he save Christmas for millions of passengers and take it into public ownership?

Take 2mins to send the letter to the transport minister

The private company running the West Coast Mainline, Avanti, is doing such a terrible job that the government has said they may take it into public ownership.

The transport minister said in October that a publicly-owned operator is ready to take over if Avanti does not improve the service.

It is clear that the service is not improving – even though they paid out millions in profits to shareholders last year.

Now even right-wing papers like The Times are acknowledging that the publicly owned East Coast Line is doing a much better job than the West Coast Mainline.

It took We Own It supporters like you – alongside our allies at Bring Back British Rail (BBBR) – to force the government to take the East Coast Line into public ownership in 2018.

Now you have an opportunity to force the government to do the same for the West Coast Mainline.

We know sending them our letter can work – because it has worked before.

Demand the government take more of our railway into public ownership

You know our trains would be run much better in public ownership.

Instead of money being sucked out by private train companies, profits can be invested to cut our fares and make sure trains run on time.

Train drivers’ union, ASLEF, just revealed this week that £3.2 billion has been syphoned out in profits from our railways. 

That money could have been used to cut fares and make sure our trains run on time.

And it could have been used to pay our rail workers who kept our country running during the pandemic what they deserve.

But you can force change on this issue now.

We Own It supporters like you – side by side with our allies at Bring Back British Rail (BBBR) – forced the government to take the East Coast Line into public ownership when it was failing passengers.

With Avanti now failing to run West Coast trains properly, you have a unique opportunity to get another BIG WIN by forcing the government to step in.

Take 2mins to send our letter to the Transport Secretary now

This action can make a big difference. Send the letter to Transport Secretary Mark Harper and share the link with your friends and family and ask them to send the letter as well.

Thank you so much for everything you do to make sure our railways work for people, not profit.

Cat, Alice, Johnbosco, Matthew, Kate – the We Own It team’

I’ve signed it, because everything it says is correct. And the quotation from ASLEF shows that we need the unions not just to protect workers’ jobs, but also to provide proper information on the destructive effects of privatisation rather than Tory propaganda. If you also feel as I do, please feel free to use the links and send the letter as well.

38 Degrees Petition to Remove the Ban on Onshore Windfarms

November 14, 2022

Here’s another petition I got from 38 Degrees, and it also shows up the hypocrisy of Rishi Sunak and the Tories. Sunak has been talking up the advantages of green energy at the very same time he and his wretched gang of robbers are trying to limit it. Despite its advantages, the Tories have placed a ban on onshore windfarms which this petition hopes to lift. It runs

Over 70% of us support this, so why is it banned?

“…diversifying our energy supplies by investing in renewables is precisely the way to insure ourselves against the risks of energy dependency.”

David, these are the words that our PM, Rishi Sunak, delivered to COP27 on Monday. [1] But just before this, his government announced that onshore wind farms would stay banned in England – limiting the amount of renewable energy we can generate here. [2] It doesn’t make sense!

At a time when energy bills are soaring, you would think the PM would be doing everything in his power to reduce them – instead of banning such a cheap source of energy. [3] And wind power is hugely popular here in the UK – even 84% of Conservative voters want it! [4] The Government’s decision to take it off the table is quite baffling.

Right now Rishi Sunak, his green policies and his COP27 appearance is all over the news. And we know public pressure works on Rishi’s environmental policies. In recent weeks he’s U-turned on fracking and whether or not he’d be going to COP27 in the first place. [5] Let’s add our voices together again and tell the PM that we, the public, want him to u-turn on wind power too.

David, will you add your name to a petition calling on Rishi Sunak to scrap the ban on onshore wind farms? For every 500 signatures, we’ll send him a message telling him how much bigger the petition has grown. It takes 30 seconds to sign:

ADD MY NAME

Building an onshore wind farm and maintaining it creates less emissions than any other energy source and can be done in just a few months. [6] The areas they’re built on can still be used for farming too, so it’s a win-win situation. The need for cheap energy quickly has never been higher than now.

Rishi Sunak’s decision to re-ban fracking was the right call, but keeping the ban on wind power is not. The UK has the largest wind energy resource in Europe – so onshore wind farms should be a no-brainer. [7]

In the past few months, together we have accomplished so much for our environment: The Government released its plan to stop sewage pollution, fracking was banned – again – and just last week we were part of a national outcry that persuaded Rishi to attend COP27. [8] We only brought about this change because we did it as a community. So let’s do it again and get Rishi to scrap the ban on new onshore wind farms.

Will you add your name to the petition now? It’ll take just 30 seconds:

ADD MY NAME

Thanks for all you do,

Simma, Megan and the 38 Degrees team

NOTES:
[1] Gov.uk: PM statement at COP27: 7 November 2022
[2] Daily Mail: Now ban on onshore wind farms will stay as Rishi Sunak axes another Liz Truss policy
[3] The Guardian: England is failing to capitalise on its onshore wind potential 
[4] Renewable UK: Polling in every constituency in Britain shows strong support for wind farms to drive down bills
[5] The Guardian: Rishi Sunak will keep ban on fracking in UK, No 10 confirms
Sky News: PM makes ‘screeching U-turn’ on attending COP27 – and all his campaign pledges are under review
[6] National Grid: Onshore vs offshore wind energy: what’s the difference?
[7] See note 4
[8] DEFRA: Consultation on the Government’s Storm Overflow Discharge Reduction Plan
See note 5′

I’ve signed it, and if you feel the same, please feel free to do so as well.

We Own It Petition against Local NHS Privatisation

October 21, 2022

Not only have We Own It launched a petition against the general privatisation of the NHS they’ve also launched one people can sign directed at their local NHS leaders against the privatisation of local services as well. I got this email earlier today and have, of course, signed it. If you’re also concerned about your local NHS services being privatised, you may like to do the same.

‘Dear David,

If you could take a 2 minute action to STOP the outsourcing of your local NHS services to profit-greedy private companies, would you do it? 

There is something you can do that will have a HUGE impact.

Sign the petition to ask local NHS leaders to commit to end NHS outsourcing.

Sign the petition to your local NHS leaders

For over a decade, the ideology of privatisation has been gaining a strong foothold in our NHS.

We were told that outsourcing was ‘the most efficient way to provide services’.

But you always knew that this wasn’t true. And now you’ve been proven absolutely right.

The evidence is clear. The preventable deaths of 557 people have been linked to the outsourcing of NHS services. 

Once you’ve made your voice heard, NHS leaders will have to face the facts: privatisation fails our health. 

Can you add your voice to the petition and demand that your local health leaders commit to end outsourcing in your local NHS now?

Sign the petition – make your voice heard

Last night we launched our End NHS privatisation, save lives campaign with over 300 other campaigners.

New research has linked 557 preventable deaths to the outsourcing of NHS services.

Ben Goodair, the Oxford academic behind the research, told us at the campaign launch rally last night:

“My research found that wherever privatisation increased, deaths from preventable causes also increased. It is clear that there is a connection there.

“I am grateful to everyone that is doing something about this – you are saving lives.”

Whether you live in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland, your local NHS leaders need to know that you’ve had enough of the deaths and the outsourcing.

Demand that your local health leaders save lives now – sign the petition

This fight in your local NHS is totally winnable. We just need to mobilise thousands of people in your area to add their voices to this demand.

They simply cannot ignore thousands of voices.

That is how we are going to win. And we have won before.

We’ve worked with Keep Our NHS Public campaigners in London to force local NHS leaders to kick American multi-national company Centene out of multiple GP surgeries. 

We’ve worked with Save Our NHS campaigners in Bath to get Virgin Care removed from their local NHS board.

Together with you we got the NHS in 11 regions to pledge to ban private companies from their boards.

We can win – YOU can win – if we make our voices heard in our thousands.

Make your voice heard now by signing the petition

We are so excited about this campaign because we know that when we come together and fight, nothing and no one can stop us winning.

Sign the petition and share it with your friends and family. And if you can do more, sign up HERE to receive leaflets from us to distribute to houses on your street.

Thank you for everything you do to protect our NHS from privatisation. 

Cat, Alice, Johnbosco, Matthew, Kate – the We Own It team’

Tariq Ali on His Book on the Times and Crimes of Winston Churchill

October 14, 2022

Here’s a very provocative little video I found on the YouTube channel for left-wing publisher Verso. It’s a 27 minute long talk by 60’s radical Tariq Ali about his book, Winston Churchill, His Times, His Crimes. It’s entitled ‘The Churchill Cult Is Out of Control: Tariq Ali on Winston Churchill’. Ali explains how he was initially reluctant to write about the great war leader, not least because he didn’t want to waste his time reading what Churchill himself wrote, until he was finally persuaded by another historian. He states that the students at Oxford protesting for decolonisation, demanding that Churchill college change its name and who poured paint over his statue were quite right. Churchill, by his own admission, was a racist and White supremacist. He supported Mussolini in Italy and General Franco in Spain. In fact, Franco’s three greatest supporters in Europe were Hitler, Mussolini and Churchill. He talks about Churchill’s imperialist wars around the world against non-Whites, but also his atrocities in Ireland during the Irish revolution when he was Home Secretary. Churchill is also bitterly resented in Wales for sending in the troops during the Tonypandy strike. According to Ali, when there was a collection for him on his death, not one Welsh council contributed. He also states that it is a complete lie that the experience of the Second World War changed him. It didn’t. After the war, in the 1950s, when the Tories were discussing what slogan they should adopt for their election campaign, Churchill responded, unprompted, with ‘Keep Britain White’.

He also hated the Labour movement. He sneered at Clement Attlee for beating him in an election. The only Labour politician he did like was Ernest Bevin, who was a nationalistic, and jingoistic as he was, and anti-Semitic to a certain extent. Churchill was also unpopular in the Conservative party for being very right-wing and changing parties when it suited him. Talking about his crimes, Ali mentions the Bengal Famine but also a very obscure incident that he says is only mentioned in one book. Churchill was behind the British expeditionary force sent in to topple the Bolshevik revolutionaries. But Churchill wanted to go even further and use chemical weapons against Bolshevik villages and territories. There was a mutiny in the force, which resulted in the court martial of a South African officer. Churchill was also proud of the overthrow of the democratic regime of Prime Minister Mossadeq in Iran. He also says that Britain was hampered during the War by the very class-bound nature of the officer corps. He gives the comparison of Rommel, one of the Nazi’s great generals, and quotes one authority who said that if Rommel had been British, he wouldn’t have risen above sergeant. The class-bound nature of the officer corps was recognised by the junior officers.

Churchill was also responsible for the brutal suppression of the Greek resistance movement because it was led by the Communists. One of the tactics of the British forces was to decapitate their enemies, put their heads on poles and carry them around outside prison camps. This was justified with the statement that it was the only thing they would understand.

Ali states that Churchill was not as popular as he is now, when he is the centre of what Ali calls a cult, until the 1980s and the Falklands. He quotes from a 1970s play by a radical British playwright, in which two soldiers carrying his coffin talk about how horrible the great man was. Churchill then bursts out of his coffin waving a union jack and with an unlit cigar, his face a mask. Ali considers that most of South America and the world considered the Falkland Islands to be properly Argentina’s and states that the islands were defended by the alliance between Thatcher and General Pinochet. Churchill’s image was part of the propaganda movement for the war, which the British Labour party under Michael Foot supported.

Ali believes the cult of Churchill has arisen because the British political establishment and ruling class, including Labour, are still fixated on the empire. This has partly been done in order to retain some small independence against the Americans. After the War the European empires fell, or were taken over by the Americans, as in Vietnam. Churchill was saddened, but cheered that they were going to another, White, Christian power. The special relationship was also his creation, because he was half-American. Other countries, such as Scandinavia, have been able to find a role after the War, but Britain is still obsessed with the empire. He states that what emerged after the war was a form of social democratic planning, as well as the NHS and the nationalisation of the mines, which was a particularly sore point. The miners’ leaders wondered why it had been left for so long. This wasn’t particularly socialist, and other countries were doing the same. The ruling class has persisted in Britain because they were able to co-opt Labour and the trade unions. The cult around Winston Churchill is very much an English phenomenon. It doesn’t exist in Wales and hardly exists in Scotland. If Wales leaves, then the Churchill cult will form the heart of an English nationalism. The Churchill myth will continue for some time, but all myths eventually fall, and the British people will eventually turn against this one.

Simon Webb Has Written a Book on British Concentration Camps

August 16, 2022

Readers of this blog will be well aware that I have extremely mixed views about Simon Webb and History Debunked. I don’t share his High Toryism, heading into the ideological territory of parties like Reform, Reclaim or Patriotic Alternative, for example. I particularly reject his views that the IQ difference between Blacks and Whites is biologically determined, and that there is a further biological difference in IQ between Whites and Asians. Some of what he’s written about African history is just plain wrong, such as the statement that before the White man arrived, Black Africa was stuck in the Bronze Age. Not true – the Bantu cultures spread throughout Africa were very firmly Iron Age, as were the Kordofanian and Nilotic peoples and those of Ethiopia. His videos about the decline of South Africa after the end of apartheid and Zimbabwe after it passed to Black majority rule and the horrific dictatorship of Mugabe seem to be based on a nostalgia for White colonial rule.

But sometimes he also says something interesting and important. Looking through his website, there’s a piece on the non-fiction books he has written. Three are mentioned – one on the Suffragette Bombers, subtitled ‘Britain’s Forgotten Terrorists’, another on 1919; Britain’s Year of Revolution, which probably explains why he disputes the memorialization of Philip Wootton in Liverpool as an innocent victim of lynching, rather than a violent thug. But it’s the third that interests me here. This is British Concentration Camps: A Brief History from 1900-1975, published by Pen & Sword like his other books. He describes this book thus:

‘For many of us, the very expression ‘Concentration Camp’ is inextricably linked to Nazi Germany and the horrors of the Holocaust. The idea of British concentration camps is a strange and unsettling one. It was however the British, rather than the Germans, who were the chief driving force behind the development and use of concentration camps in the Twentieth Century. The operation by the British army of concentration camps during the Boer War led to the deaths of tens of thousands of children from starvation and disease. More recently, slave-labourers confined in a nationwide network of camps played an integral role in Britain’s post-war prosperity. In 1947, a quarter of the country’s agricultural workforce were prisoners in labour camps. Not only did the British government run their own concentration camps, they willingly acquiesced in the setting up of such establishments in the United Kingdom by other countries. During and after the Second World War, the Polish government-in-exile maintained a number of camps in Scotland where Jews, communists and homosexuals were imprisoned and sometimes killed. This book tells the terrible story of Britain’s involvement in the use of concentration camps, which did not finally end until the last political prisoners being held behind barbed wire in the United Kingdom were released in 1975. From England to Cyprus, Scotland to Malaya, Kenya to Northern Ireland; British Concentration Camps; A Brief History from 1900 to 1975 details some of the most shocking and least known events in British history.’

This looks like solid scholarship, and one those of us on the left can get behind. One of the female commenters on this blog years ago, a very staunch socialist, sent me information about the forced labour camps set up by the Labour party in the 1930s supposedly to train unemployed workers into the habit of working again. This was relevant because it was based on the same squalid attitude as Blair’s ‘welfare to work’ policy, in which the unemployed were only to be given their dole if they did unpaid work for various companies, including charities like Tomorrow’s People, and the big supermarkets. The declassification of government documents a few years ago following a court case brought by the victims of the brutal methods Britain used to suppress the Mao Mao in Kenya has resulted in another book about the concentration camps set up by Britain there, Africa’s Secret Gulags. Some of this book sounds very similar to John Newsinger’s book about the horrors committed under British imperialism, The Blood Never Dried. Newsinger is very much a man of the left, but his book also describes the atrocities committed by Britain when attempting to quell the independence forces of Britain’s former colonies. I did not know, however, about the concentration camps set up north of the border by the Polish government in exile to persecute its political enemies, including the same people targeted by the Nazis, Jews and gays.

The book and his research on this shocking topic clearly impressed others on the left. In the journalism section on his website there’s an article he wrote about it for Jacobin, a left-wing journal. He’s also written a fourth book, on the Barbary pirates, but this isn’t mentioned on his website.

In writing the book on British concentration camps, Webb’s clearly done something that can be supported by the left in bringing to light the way the British state and its allies have used forced labour and similar camps to exert its control in the home country and across its colonies. Brutal methods that should concern anyone who believes in democracy, human rights and humane government.

See: https://www.simon-webb.com/non-fiction-books.html

Pro-Paedophile Group K13 Marches in Cologne 2022 Pride Parade

August 11, 2022

This is deeply worrying, and should never have been allowed to happen. But before I start, just in case people get the wrong impression, I want to make it very clear: I am not trying demonise gays or transpeople with this post. The only people I wish to demonise are the individuals, gay or straight, who wish to legalise child abuse.

The feminist writer and campaigner Genevieve Gluck has written a piece in the feminist magazine, Reduxx, about the inclusion of the pro-paedophile group Krumme 13, or K13, in the 2022 Cologne Pride march. Krumme is German for ‘Crooked’, so perhaps it’s the German colloquial equivalent of the English word ‘bent’ in the sense of gay. K13 is a nasty organisation that campaigns for the legalisation of paedophilia as a protected sexual identity, because banning it is ‘Fascistic’. No, banning paedophilia has zilch to do with Fascism and everything to do with common decency and protecting kids from evil predators. And if you want to talk about child abusers and Fascism, there are any number of them within Fascist organisations. One of the Mussolini’s squadristi, Starace, was a massive drug dealer and child abuser. And a year or so ago one of the British Nazis was packed off to the slammer for his vicious anti-Semitism and paedophilia. Gluck’s article talks about the way the groups subdivides into various categories the various forms of sexual attraction for underage children of different ages. She talks about the organisation’s leaders’ arguments for legalisation child abuse, how the majority of pro-paedophile organisations seem to be in the Netherlands – oh, if the Dutch could be just a little less tolerant in this regard! – the views of respectable sexologists condemning K-13’s leader. She also discusses the infamous Kentler experiment, in which I think the West Berlin social services handed orphaned kids over to child molesters for adoption in order to stop them growing up into Nazis. It seems to me that doing that to children would result in the absolute reverse: that the abused kids would develop a justifiably very bitter hatred of the left. And also extremely worrying is the support for the legalisation of paedophilia in the German Green Party. She also describes how there were moves to legalise it in Germany in the 1970s, which were only fought by the journos and activists of the feminist magazine, Emma.

See: https://reduxx.info/pro-pedophilia-activists-marched-for-equal-rights-at-2022-cologne-pride/

This is very much what the critics of the gay and trans movement are afraid of, and have been using in their propaganda against the left in general. The Lotus Eaters put up a piece about supposed support for legalising child abuse in the left, noting that one senior female member of the British Labour party was a member of the Council for Civil Liberties in the ’70s when it supported its legalisation. They also included in this the infamous German experiment, all presented as indicative of how the Left supported paedophilia as part of supporting the gay and trans movements.

Except that the mass of Labour supporters don’t. I can’t think of anyone in the Labour party who would support the legalisation of child abuse. And from what I gather, the gay rights movement was able to make such spectacular progress over here in the 1980s because they purged the paedophiles and made a clear distinction between themselves and paedophile groups like PIE, the Paedophile Information Exchange. And the article states clearly that the majority of paedophiles are heterosexual, but the gay child abusers are being used to spearhead the campaign for legalisation because their gayness already makes them a member of protected category that has suffered abuse and persecution.

Unfortunately, there are academics outside Germany who want to see it legalised. One of these, a lecturer in Queer Studies or something similar at an American university, was put on gardening leave and the subject of student protests after he advocated legalising it, speaking online with the leader of a pro-paedophile organisation. And then there’s the popular outrage at Drag Queen Story Hour and the way young children have been taken to gay clubs for sexually explicit drag performances, supposedly as part of promoting tolerance towards trans people.

The great commenters on this blog have pointed out that the vast majority of ordinary trans people just want to lead a normal, quiet life, free of abuse and vilification. I am sure they’re right. Just as I am sure the great majority of ordinary gay people are revolted by paedophilia and any campaign to legalise it.

But it does seem that there is a tiny minority of people who are trying to use the hard-won tolerance and acceptance given to gay and trans people to promote their vile sexual inclinations. We have to vigilant here, whether we’re gay, straight, trans or whatever, to guard against these people and they way they’re attempts to legalise paedophilia are being used by the right to smear the left as a whole.

The Date of the End of Serfdom in Yugoslavia

August 2, 2022

One of the many problems I have with the debate over slavery is that with its concentration on Black transatlantic, and particularly American and Caribbean slavery, it ignores the fact that White Europeans were also subjected to various forms of unfreedom, from slavery to serfdom. In Britain, slavery had died out by the 12th century, hence Lord Mansfield was able to give his famous judgement on the Somerset case that slavery did not exist in English law. However, serfdom persisted until it finally withered away completely by the mid-17th century. A form of serfdom, or something very like it, continued in the Scots mining industry in the 18th and 19th centuries. Scottish miners were bondsmen, tied to working for their masters and were forced to wear neck rings bearing their names, just like Roman and medieval slaves. On the continent serfdom persisted until the Revolution in France, the early 19th century in Prussia, and the 1860s in Russia. This, however, was not the end of this form of unfreedom in the backward parts of Europe. Thomas Sowell, in the chapter on the Slavs in his book Conquests and Cultures, notes the geographical obstacles to development the Slavs and other eastern Europeans, such as the Hungarians, and Romanians, faced to their social, economic and technological development. These were a lack of navigable rivers, which tended to flow, in the case of Russia, into inland lakes or seas rather than the ocean, or else the flowed into the Baltic and were frozen and thus unusable for part of year. The result was that communication and the transport of goods was far more difficult and expensive than in the western part of the continent. In the Balkans these factors were exacerbated by high mountain ranges which cut communities off from each other. As a result of this and the long dominance of the Turkish empire, which cut the region off from western cultural advancements, the area remained very backward compared to the west. An example of this backwardness is the date when serfdom was abolished in Macedonia and Bosnia-Herzegovina: 1919, a year after Yugoslavia had become an independent state. (p. 203).

I really do feel that the history of slavery and serfdom, and its long persistence in White European nations as well as in the rest of the world, should be better known in order to halt the grotesque distortion of history that appears to be held by some activists, which presents slavery as something White Europeans and Americans did to Black Africans.