Archive for the ‘France’ Category

History Book on Slavery in Africa

January 20, 2022

Sean Stillwell, Slavery and Slaving in African History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2014)

I ordered this book from Amazon and got it through the post yesterday. I’ve done no more than skim it, but it appears to be an excellent history of slavery and slaving in Africa from its origins in the ancient past to the transatlantic slave trade and today, when, horrifically, Africans are still being enslaved. The blurb for the book states

‘This book is a comprehensive history of slavery in Africa from the earliest times to the end of the twentieth century, when slavery in most parts of the continent ceased to exist. It connects the emergence and consolidation of slavery to specific historical forces both internal and external to the African continent. Sean Stillwell pays special attention to the development of settled agriculture, the invention of kinship, “big men” and centralized states, the role of African economic production and exchange, the interaction of local structures of dependence with the external slave trades (transatlantic, trans-Saharan, Indian Ocean) and the impact of colonialism on slavery in the twentieth century. He also provides an introduction to the central debates that have shaped current understanding of slavery in Africa. The book examines different forms of slavery that developed over time in Africa and introduces readers to the lives, work, and struggles of slave themselves.’

Africa isn’t a single nation, but a continent with many different cultures and peoples, and the forms slavery took are similarly varied. In some cultures, slaves could rise through their relationship to their masters to high social positions, often in preference to their masters’ own sons. Some states used slaves as soldiers, arming them with guns. These slave soldiers appear largely to have been satisfied with their position and were unlikely to revolt. This reminded me of the episode in the British Caribbean when, faced with the threat of invasion from Napoleonic France, the British reluctantly armed their slaves. I’m not sure, but I got a feeling that this infused the enslaved peoples with pride. After the American Revolution, Black loyalists were also settled in the Caribbean. They were described as living under military discipline, with their own colonels and officers and to be largely satisfied with their condition. I think this says something about the importance of combat and militarism to masculine self-worth.

One positive feature of the book is that includes testimony and statements from slavers, slave masters and the enslaved themselves. Again, it’s important, as all too rarely the enslaved speak for themselves, although, of course, there are a number of books and literature from former slaves like Frederick Douglas and Olaudah Equiano denouncing slavery and demanding its abolition. The final chapter, which also discusses the persistence of slavery in Africa, also includes statements and testimony from former slaves. It also discusses the various anti-slavery organisations that have emerged recently in Africa, many of them led or founded by former slaves.

Part of the rationale behind the British invasion of Africa was to combat the slave trade at its source. Unfortunately this goal, and the hope of many enslaved Africans, was frustrated by the colonial authorities. These sided with slaveowners and existing power structures. Runaway slaves could find themselves returned to their masters, and obstacles, like higher taxes, placed in the way of slaves seeking to gain their emancipation. Lord Lugard is a prime offender in this, and there’s a quote from him where he states clearly that the people at home would go berserk if they knew what he was doing. But in some areas the arrival of the British was initially welcomed by the enslaved population as liberators. When we conquered Kano, in what is now modern Nigeria, the slaves were desperate to touch the British flag, because they believed this would secure their freedom. They sang the following song:

A flag touching dance

Is performed by freeborns alone.

Anybody who touches the flag,

Becomes free.

He and his father [master].

Become equals.

It is one of the injustices of colonialism that, for many slaves, this was not realised, and it is disgusting that slavery has persisted on the continent, so that slave markets have reopened in Uganda and Libya.

Bristol Announces Education Report about the Contribution of Different Communities to City

January 19, 2022

Yesterday a couple of bods from Bristol city council appeared on the news to announce the imminent public of two reports, both dealing with race and community issues. At lunchtime it was reported that there was a report coming out about how the city should educate people about city’s history as a major centre of the slave trade. Then on the 6.30 local news, deputy mayor and head of equalities Asher Craig appeared to tell viewers about another report coming out about another education initiative, this time about the contribution different communities had made to the city. She thought it might perhaps form the basis for a new museum. The report was hailed as bringing communities together.

Bristol’s a port city and so people of different races and nationalities have been living in the city since the Middle Ages. It had a Jewish community, complete with a miqveh or ritual bath, on Jacob’s Wells Road before Edward I’s expulsion of them from England. it also had strong links with Ireland, and it’s possible that there was a community of Bristol merchants in Dublin before Henry IIs invasion of 1169. It also had strong links to Wales, and so there’s always been people from Ireland and Wales here in the city. There were a few Icelandic merchants resident in Bristol in the 15th century. As the city also traded in wine from France and Spain, I’m fairly certain there were also French people and Spaniards here. There were also Black people in Bristol from the 16th century onwards following the emergence of the transatlantic slave trade. However, the bulk of the modern Black population probably really only dates from the Windrush migration. Other immigrants to Bristol include Poles, Russians – there’s a Russian Orthodox church on University Road by the museum in Clifton, Chinese and peeps from India and Pakistan. A few years ago a book was published about Bristol’s diverse immigrant population.

But I don’t think this is primarily about all of the city’s various ethnic communities. I think it’s really an attempt to promote Bristol’s Black community. Last year, when I contacted Craig criticising her for some of her comments about the city’s involvement in the slave trade, her reply talked about the ‘One Bristol’ educational project. This would promote Blacks, and be ‘diverse and inclusive’, which didn’t always happen with White men. I don’t know if that last comment is a deliberate sneer or putdown.

It’s fair to say that the majority Black areas of the Bristol have the same problems and reputation of inner cities elsewhere – drugs, crime, prostitution and violence. When I was growing up people from outside the area drove along Stapleton Road in St. Paul’s with their windows up and the door firmly locked. Nearly two decades ago in 2004 there were a series of murders in the area and it was reported on the news that there was a gun-related incident everyday. I can remember going along the road on the bus to a lecture at UWE and seeing armed policemen on the street. I’ve heard from friends that there are local people in the community collecting and blogging about the area and Bristol’s black history as way of combating the alienation and marginalisation many Black Bristolians feel. From Craig’s reply to me, it looks like the ‘One Bristol’ education project is intended to do something similar by giving a more positive image of the community.

As for educating Bristolians about the city’s role in the slave trade, I’ve grown up knowing about it although there is still the strong belief among some Blacks, repeated by Craig in her interview on Radio 4 last year, that the city authorities have covered it up. In the 1990s the City Museum and Art Gallery staged an exhibition about the city and the slave trade, ‘A Respectable Trade’, named after the costume drama then showing on the Beeb, adapted from a book by Philippa Gregory. The M Shed museum on the city docks also has a gallery about Bristol and the slave trade. There are articles about the city’s involvement in the slave trade on the museum’s website, a slave walk in Clifton and a plaque on one of the warehouses down by the M Shed commemorating the victims who were enslaved and sold by Bristol merchants. The official name for the very bizarre looking ‘horned bridge’ across the dock’s is Pero’s Bridge, after one of the few named slaves who was brought to Bristol itself.

I have to say I’m a bit sensitive about some of the demands for the proper commemoration of the slave trade in the city. It sometimes seems to me that’s it’s being used by angry members of the Black community to attack White Bristol because of the poverty and marginalisation that still plagues their community. Back in the 1990s, for example, when the city celebrated the 500th anniversary of John Cabot’s discovery of Newfoundland, various Black spokesmen declared that it was a celebration of slavery. This followed American Blacks’ condemnation of the celebration of Columbus’ discovery of America a few years earlier. Indigenous Americans also attacked it as a celebration of their genocide. It wasn’t, of course, meant to be a celebration of slavery, but they had a point. Following Columbus discovery of the New World, the indigenous peoples of the Caribbean were enslaved and worked, tortured and massacred until they died out. The Spanish then turned to Black African slaves to replace them. I don’t believe that the discovery of Newfoundland had any direct connection with slavery. That seems to have started in 1619 when Spanish merchants brought a consignment of them to Jamestown, and it seems that initially the English settlers didn’t know what to do with them. However, slavery and all the horrendous methods of repression soon followed. A Black artist produced a picture showing his feelings about the celebration of Cabot’s discovery. It shows the Matthew sailing up the Avon Gorge. watched by cameras from the Evening Post and the local news, while shadowy figures rampage across the suspension bridge. The painting’s now on display in the slavery gallery in the M Shed. To me it demonstrates a bitter mentality that automatically assumes any celebration like it must somehow be about the persecution or exploitation of Blacks, and it seems to me that a similar deep bitterness is driving the demands for proper education about the city’s slavery history. On the other hand, there have been a large influx of newcomers to the city from London and elsewhere, and it’s possible that, not being Bristolians, they really know little about the city and the slave trade. The education initiative could therefore be a response to them requiring to know more.

Points West stated that the report about educating Bristolians about the contributions of Bristol’s multiracial communities will make five recommendations, while the one about slavery will make fifteen. It’ll be interesting to see what they are.

Lobster Reviews Book on Six British Fascists

January 14, 2022

It’s a new year, and a new issue of the online magazine on parapolitics and genuine conspiracies, Lobster. In issue 83 they have a fascinating review by John Newsinger, professor emeritus of history at Bath University, of Graham Macklin’s Failed Fuhrers: A History of Britain’s Extreme Right, published by Routledge at £24.99. The book’s actually a collection of biographies of six infamous British Fascists, Arnold Leese, Oswald Mosley, A.K. Chesterton, Colin Jordan, John Tyndall and Nick Griffin. Newsinger states that it is a book to read and keep for reference for the information it provides. He will never forget that Colin Jordan, of NF infamy, was arrested in the ’70s for stealing women’s underwear from Tesco’s. The Scum mocked him as a panty-thief, which must be one of the few times when the vile rag actually did something anti-racist. Jordan himself, as with all the grotty sawdust Caesars examined in the book, was a massive anti-Semite. He claimed he was innocent and it was all part of a Jewish conspiracy. Right. So he thought that the same people he believes have absolute secret control of media, politics and the economy, would feel the need to frame him for such a squalid petty crime. It shows both how paranoid the real Nazis are, and how ridiculous and absurd their stupid ideas about a secret Jewish global conspiracy get. Newsinger’s review summarises the careers of these real anti-Semites and Nazis.

Arnold Leese

was, the book claims, a pivotal figure in the development of British race nationalism. He was a poisonous anti-Semite who believed the Jews were the enemies of the White race secretly conspiring about Britain. They were to be first segregated and then exterminated. He founded the Imperial Fascist League. He was briefly interned during the War. After which he founded the racist magazine, Gothic Ripples, with its vile column, ‘Nigger Notes’. After a period of disillusionment with Hitler, he returned to praising him as one of the greatest statement produced by Europe. He blamed the war on the Jews. You hardly need to add that he was also a holocaust denier. His statement about it in Gothic Ripples sums up the whole mentality behind Holocaust denial: the people who do deny do so out of embarrassment, but would have absolutely no objection to it at all. Leese claimed that it didn’t happen, but if it had, his only objection would have been that too few Jews were murdered. Provided it was all done humanely. There is no way you can commit mass murder humanely. Leese also Lord Haw-Haw as a hero, and was jailed in 1947 for trying to help two Dutch SS officer escape to Argentina. Leese, unfortunately, wasn’t just influential in Britain, but also Europe and America.

Oswald Mosley

was the notorious leader of the BUF and the subject of an earlier biography by Macklin, which charted his career after the War. Mosley was an anti-Semite, although he constantly denied it despite all the plentiful evidence to the contrary. It’s therefore ironic, then, that Leese hated him because he thought that, as a member of aristocracy, Mosley’s own racial purity had also been compromised through intermixture with the Jews. ‘Cause Britain’s wannabe great dictator had a Jewish uncle on his mother’s side. In 1963 three members of his Union Movement, the post-war successor to the BUF, were jailed for bombing the offices of the Daily Worker. He managed to rehabilitate himself after the War, appearing on TV shows despite having condemned the Nuremberg trials and blaming the Jews for the Second World. War. I didn’t know about the bombing, and it explains why the authorities appear to be more afraid of White right-wing terrorism than Islamist.

A.K. Chesterton

was a relative of novelist and Christian apologist G.K. Chesterton. He was a member of Mosley’s BUF and editor of its magazine, The Blackshirt. He later broke away from the BUF, but continued as an extreme right-wing activist. Another grotty anti-Semite, he told the Nordic League that Jews should be hanged from lamp posts. He briefly served as a British officer in Kenya and Somaliland. But he’s also interesting for the way he and his followers also crossed over into the Tory party. He wrote for the Conservative magazine, Truth, which published his anti-Semitic screeds. He was even planning to run an article on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. He also contributed articles to the magazine of the Royal United Services Institute, as well as the Daily and Sunday Express and the Evening Standard. He also ghost wrote Beaverbrook’s biography, before launching his own rag, Candour and founding the League of Empire Loyalists. He hated the Common Market and regarded those who supported it as traitors. Many grassroots Tories were also member of the LEL. When a Conservative MP accused League members of following a Fascist, it was pointed out to him that the chair of the meeting, the MP Jocelyn Lucas, was a former member of the BUF. The League firmly supported White rule in Africa. He also wrote the anti-Semitic book, The New Unhappy Lords, which claimed that the Jews were conspiring to enslave the west and incorporate it into a one-world superstate. Now we know the origin of that particular conspiracy theory and all those rantings about ‘globalists’. The National Front was former from a merger of the League with the Race Preservation Society, and served as the new organisation’s president until his death.

Colin Jordan

was another Nazi and member or founder of the National Socialist Movement. However, like Mosley he turned to anti-Black racism after the way, loudly supporting the ‘Keep Britain White’ movement. He also exploited the Notting Hill riots to promote racial hatred. He staged a series of tasteless racist stunt to stop the Labour candidate, Gordon Walker, getting elected. These involved his followers appearing in blackface and monkey costumes. After a Jewish cabby refused to accept his wife, Francoise Dior, the poor fellow was forced to flee to Israel after his home was firebombed. The NSM’s magazine hailed it as ‘the Second Expulsion of the Jews’. Two groups of NSM members firebombed ten synagogues and more in London. Jordan denied knowing about it beforehand, but had no qualms about posing with the accused outside the courthouse. He also hoped to get funding from the United Arab Republic and had schemes for a racist, offshore pirate radio station. I doubt it would have been a success. Not against Radio Caroline. He was also obsessed with Rudolf Hess, and wanted him awarded the Nobel Peace. It’s grotesque, but when you consider that they later awarded it to Henry Kissinger it starts to seem all too reasonable. However, the rest of the Far Right thought he was an embarrassment because he was too open about the Nazism they all held.

John Tyndall

was secretary of Jordan’s grotty NSM, praising the SS and the Holocaust in the pages of its magazine and calling for the creation of an SS state. He broke with Jordan to join the NF, taking over as leader. He was another anti-Semite who turned from attacking the Jews to racism against Blacks and immigrants. He also had connections to the American Far Right, helping them to resist the extradition James Earl Ray, suspected of the assassination Martin Luther King, from London. He was also a friend of William Pierce, author of the Turner Diaries, helping to sell his wretched Vanguard newspaper in London. The NF’s membership was boosted by Idi Amin’s expulsion of the Ugandan Asians, even though Amin was another anti-Semite and fan of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Well, Black and White, unite and fight – against racists and anti-Semites whatever their colour. After the NF’s electoral failure in 1979, Tyndall went back to Nazism before founding the fifth incarnation of the BNP. As leader of the NF, he was in some kind of power struggle with Martin Webster, who called it a gay organisation. I think that’s because Tyndall was gay, and had gay toleration written into its constitution.

Nick Griffin

claimed to have read Mein Kampf when he was just thirteen, and joined the NF when he was 15. The NF viewed some of the Middle Eastern countries as allies in the struggle against the Jews. He welcomed Iran’s reprinting of the Protocols and ardently supported Gaddafi’s Libya. After 9/11 he exploited Islamophobia,, but when debating Abu Hamza he found that his and the terrorist supporter’s views converged, with Abu Hamza telling the audience to support the BNP. And what a surprise, hem-hem, I do not think, as Nigel Molesworth would sa, he was yet another Holocaust denier. He then started playing down the anti-Semitism so that the BNP even had a Jewish councillor elected in Epping. Well, one of left-wing Jewish bloggers I follow – I can’t remember if it was David Rosenberg or Tony Greenstein, noted that the Jewish Conservative MP for somewhere around Islington or Tower Hamlets used to hobnob with the local Nazis at elections, complaining that the division between the BNP/NF and the Conservatives also meant the nationalist vote was divided. And the very respected Jewish historian Geoffrey Alderman got into a bit of hot water with the Board of Deputies of British Jews when his history of the British Jewish community stated that two per cent of British Jews voted for the NF because of anti-Black racism. The BNP’s peak came with the election of over 50 councillors and two MEP, of whom Griffin was one. He also liked Vladimir Putin, hailing him as an enemy of European liberalism and saviour of Christianity. He also supported Assad’s regime in Syria, even appearing on Russia Today to do so.

British Fascism’s Influence on Front National

Newsinger also notes that the book also claims that the NF also influenced the French Front National, now National Reveille. He wonders how this could be so, considering that British Fascism’s history is one of failure. My guess would be that Marine Le Pen looked at what they were doing, and then did the opposite. Her tactics are more like that of the founder of Italy’s post-Fascist party, Fini and his Alleanza Nazionale. Fini wound up the explicitly neo-Fascist MSI, and positioned the new party as centre-right. Le Pen has done something similar with the former Front National. Not that there isn’t a precedent in French Fascist history. The Croix de Feu were a ’30s French Fascist organisation, combing far right politics with their enthusiasm for cars. They also originally had a Fascist uniform, but their greatest electoral victories came when the dumped it and started trying to sound more like ordinary Conservatives.

This book’s important, because apart from the light it sheds on the history of British Fascism, it also shows where the vast majority of anti-Semitism really comes. And no, the real anti-Semites aren’t Corbyn and his supporters, let alone with sincere anti-racist peeps, especially Jewish, whom the British establishment has libelled and smeared. The real, poisonous anti-Semitism nearly always comes from the Far Right. And they are a real terrorist menace. I didn’t know British Nazis had bombed the Daily Worker and ten synagogues in the 60s, though I knew about the street fights between them and anti-Fascists. In the ’80s the NF were successfully prosecuted for holding paramilitary ‘self-defence’ training out on a farm somewhere. Part of the evidence they were planning to commit a terrorist outrage was that a can of weedkiller in a garden shed had the word ‘weed’ crossed out and replaced with Jew. Then there was the lone Nazi in the 90s who nail-bombed three pubs, including a gay bar. And this is quite apart from the assassination of Jo Cox and genuine Nazi outfits like the banned National Action. Simon Webb over at History Debunked has questioned the jailing of White Nazis as terrorists, when they have done nothing but look at Nazi material on YouTube, unlike the Islamists, who have committed real terrorist atrocities. I think the answer is that the authorities fear that they will start committing genuine acts of terrorism like those in the ’60s, as well as exploiting racism and the immigration crisis.

The six men profiled by the book are failures, but they continue to exert a malign influence and there is always a danger that their ideas will inspire real terrorism while persecuting and murdering innocents ’cause they’re the wrong religion or race.

For further information, see: https://www.lobster-magazine.co.uk/free/lobster83/lob83-failed-fuhrers.pdf

History Debunked Questions Johnson’s Britishness

January 12, 2022

Oh ho! This is very amusing. The Tory party has always positioned itself, at least since the 19th century, as the party of Britishness. If you listen to its supporters and propaganda, it’s the party of the British constitution and the union, protecting our ancient liberties and defending our great nation from plots and attacks by evil foreigners. Historically this largely meant the French, but today means the EU and Scots Nationalists. Under Maggie Thatcher this nationalism became particularly shrill. The 1987 Tory election broadcast showed Spitfires zooming about the sky while an excited voice told us that ‘We were born free. It’s our fundamental right’ and ended with ‘It’s great, to be great again!’ Political theorists who’ve read, or at least heard of Rousseau could correct the first statement. At the beginning of his book, The Social Contract, which became one of the founding texts of the French Revolution, Rousseau said: ‘Man was born free, but everywhere he is in chains.’ Which is probably not something Thatcher wanted said about her government. As for being ‘great again’, this was the period when Thatcher was selling our state industries off to foreign investors, destroying trade unions, cutting unemployment and other welfare benefits and trying to find ways to get people to take out private medical insurance instead of relying on the NHS. She would have liked to have privatised that, but was prevented by a massive cabinet rebellion. At the same time she was using her ‘strong state’ against striking miners and anyone else she thought was an evil Commie subversive while at the same time propping up truly evil Fascist dictators abroad. Like the brute General Pinochet, responsible for the murder and torture of 30,000 people in his native Chile. The country’s present grinding poverty and crumbling infrastructure are all a result of her policies. The identification of the Conservative party with Britishness was so loud and crass that, reviewing the election broadcast on Radio 4’s The News Quiz, the late, much-missed humourist Alan Coren referred to the planes as ‘the Royal Conservative Airforce’. I also remember one of the Observer’s columnists referring to the Tories as ‘the patriotic party’.

But now aspersions have been cast on the Britishness of the Tories’ leader and current head of the country, Boris Johnson. Simon Webb of the History Debunked YouTube channel put up a piece yesterday asking ‘How British Is Boris Johnson?’ This speculated that Johnson carries on the way does because, quite simply, he isn’t really British. He was born in New York, and is of mixed Turkish and American ancestry. He is also part Jewish, which is one reason why I’m not going to put the video up here. One of the elements of the genuine anti-Semitic conspiracies is the allegation that Jews aren’t really patriotic citizens because of their international connections and foreign ancestry and relatives. They have frequently been accused of being ‘rootless cosmopolitans’ with no real connection or loyalty to the gentile peoples among which they settle. It’s a poisonous allegation that has resulted in the murder of countless innocents and encouraged the formation and growth of Fascist organisations and parties like the Nazis. The vast majority of British Jews are as British as everyone else. And before the Second World War, the vast majority of Jews wished to remain in the countries of their birth, to be accepted as patriotic fellow citizens by their gentile countrymen. It’s why the leaders of the British Jewish community during the First World War actually opposed the Balfour Declaration. They did not want the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine nor anywhere else, as it could lead to the accusation that their loyalties were divided. And they weren’t. They were, and wanted to be seen as, patriotic Brits.

But there is a kind of irony in Boris Johnson, a pukka old Etonian, and true-blue Tory being accused of not being British enough.

And I think Webb has a point, though not in the sense he means. At the heart of the right-wing ranting and suspicion about the ‘globalists’, supposedly plotting to create an evil, Satanic one-world Communist state, there’s an element of truth. Regardless of their nationality or ancestry, it appears to me that the global superrich really are forming a separate international class whose loyalty is primarily to themselves and not to the people below them, even if these people are of the same nationality. You can see that in the way the Tory grandees and those like them move their capital around the world, investing in countries on the other side of the world while making pay and conditions worse over here and cutting benefits. As far as I know, Jacob Rees-Mogg is thoroughly British in his ancestry. He also projects a caricatured, right-wing image of Britishness very much like his nickname of ‘Lord Snooty’. He also backed Brexit, which was supposed to be another patriotic gesture in which Britain took back her sovereignty.

In fact Brexit has wreaked massive harm to our economy, disastrously cutting British firms off from continental markets and suppliers. The deals we’ve made, or are trying to make, with the Americans, Australians and New Zealanders are to our disadvantage, whatever the Tory mouthpieces say to the contrary. And the response of Rees-Mogg and the superrich like him amply demonstrate where their loyalties lie. Even before Brexit, Mogg had invested in companies in the far east. And when he was urging everyone to vote to leave the EU, he was moving his own financial interests to Eire. This was to pick up on all the EU business he would otherwise have lost if they’d remained centred in Britain. Which is, to me, another example of Tory hypocrisy.

Back in the 19th century Disraeli declared in his books Coningsby and Sybil that Britain was divided into two nations, the rich and poor, who had no knowledge or connection with each other, and demanded that this should be remedied. They’ve been talking about ‘One Nation’ Toryism every since. This is done by leaders like John Major, Michael Howard, David Cameron and so on, and is supposed to show that they are from that branch of the party that still has some paternalistic regard for those below them. The same people talk, or used to talk, about ‘caring Conservativism’. This is all the while doing what Tories always do – cut benefits, wages, and employment conditions and make it easier to sack people. All while manipulating the stats to persuade people that this is actually working and that they’re somehow better off.

Tony Benn in one of his books said something about the British ruling class regarding the lower orders as indeed like a foreign nation. Thinking about the Britannia Unchained mob, he had a point. This was the book written by a group of Tory MPs, including the smirking insult to decency, Priti Patel, that said that for Britain to compete in the global market, British workers must endure the same terrible conditions and wages as those elsewhere in the world, like India. A similar view was put forward by a former Lib Dem MP for Taunton Deane in Somerset. I’ve forgotten who he was, but I do remember his appearance on the local news. Introducing him, the interviewer stated that he came from a family of colonial administrators and governors. This strongly suggests to me that, deep down, he regarded British people of all colours in the same way his family had regarded the Africans and other indigenous peoples they governed.

And going back back to the 1920s, George Bernard Shaw attacked the Tory claim that they and the rich represented Britain and her interests in his book The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to Socialism, Capitalism, Sovietism and Fascism by pointing out that the rich spent much of their time and money abroad, and preferred to invest in firms in the colonies using cheap indigenous labour. And this still remains absolutely true. One of the problems with Britain’s banking system is that its investment banks are geared to putting money into commonwealth rather than domestic industries.

At a fundamental level, Boris Johnson and the rest of the Tory elite really don’t have any connection to the Brits below them. It’s not because of their ancestry. In my view, they’re the same whether they’re completely British by descent. It’s because they are part, and see themselves as part of an international industrial and political class, who move their businesses and investments from one country to another without concern for how this affects their fellow countrymen. All the while trying to deceive the rest of us by yelling about their Britishness and British values.

Johnson and the Tories aren’t British patriots, except at the crude level of repeating nationalist slogan and anti-immigrant attitudes. Ordinary Brits are foreigners to them, like the low-waged workers in other countries they also seek to exploit.

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

January 7, 2022

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

Jury Freedom and the Historic Acquittal of Guilty Murderers

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

Allegations of Bias against Witness David Olasuga

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

Political Bias in Prosecution of Vandals

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

Some Black Bristolians Genuinely Upset at Statue

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

Arguments for the Preservation of the Statue

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

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

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

Bristol Great City

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

Academic Freedom and Marxist Indoctrination at Universities

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

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

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

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

Other Statues Not Vandalised

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

Historians also Successfully Defend Controversial Statues

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Were the Neanderthals Farming 125,000 Years Ago?

December 30, 2021

If this is correct, then it demonstrates that our Neanderthal ancestors were far more sophisticated than the Victorians thought, and millennia more advanced than the modern humans that replaced them In this video from the YouTube channel History With Kayleigh, the host, Kayleigh, discusses the recent excavation of Neanderthal activity at Neumark-Nord by a joint Dutch-German team of archaeologists from Leiden University in the Netherlands and the Johannes Gutenberg university in Germany. They found that the Neanderthals had been clearing the forest there, 125,000 years ago. This makes them the first hominid to do this. These generally To Kayleigh, this indicates that they were actually farming, although conventional archaeology considers that it only started 10,000 years ago. She is, however, careful to say that she isn’t saying the Neanderthals were definitely farming or engaged in other agricultural activities. But as this is the first step in the process of farming, she believes that the Neanderthals were the first farmers. The areas that weren’t occupied by Neanderthals were left covered with trees. Kayleigh points out that there considerable evidence indicated the Neanderthals were intelligent with their own culture. Far from being unintelligent apemen, the Neanderthals had death rituals and looked after their old and sick, as is shown by their skeletons. These generally have at least one fracture. They also used stalactites, which had they had broken off, to create six circulate structures in a cave in France. It’s believed that these also had walls before they collapsed. They also painted some of the Palaeolithic cave art.

Kayleigh considers that they were probably growing easy to cultivate plants and burning the wood for fuel as well as using it to build shelters. However, when this is usually done the remains of the rotted wood are left in the soil. She also suggests that the absence of such remains could be due to the immense age of the site, or to the Neanderthals simply using them for spears and as firewood. The archaeologists also found the remains of hundreds of slaughtered animals and a large amount of stone tools and charcoal. This included virtually complete skeletons of rhinos, straight-tusked elephants, fallow deer and aurochs, the huge primeval cattle. It was believed at one time that Neanderthals were simply and solely scavengers, but the finds from this site completely disprove that. They were the top predators, making spears, using fire to keep warm and perhaps cook their food, and lived in groups of about 10-20 people. She goes on to say that with more discoveries like this, the history books will have to be rewritten. Humans and Neanderthals existed for a considerably long time and interbred, so that there are a large number of northern Europeans with up to 4 per cent Neanderthal DNA. She believes that the Neanderthals taught humans everything they knew, including spear making and hunting skills and despite going extinct, the Neanderthal’s legacy continues in this genetic heritage. And she speculates that perhaps she’s one of them, and so is planning to take a DNA test. She intends to make further videos about Neanderthal intelligence and how their tools spread throughout the world. We therefore need to abandon our image of the Neanderthals as ‘ooga-booga’.

Kayleigh states that we can only know for sure if the Neanderthals were farming with further discoveries. I’m not sure that the deforestation necessarily means that the Neanderthals were growing plants. One of the commenters, Peter Schubert, wrote: ‘For the last 40K years, Australian Aborigines burnt the land to encourage grasslands that lured Kangaroos into graze and improve their chances of a successful hunt. They also cultivated a wide range of plants to make the ‘gathering’ part of their lifestyle a lot easier, too. I’m sure other indigenous groups around the globe would have done similarly. Still, Neanderthals be earlier.’ It’s possible that the Neanderthals were doing the same. I’ve also got a feeling that when modern humans started clearing the land before settling down to farm it, they cleared the areas around waterholes in order to hunt the animals that came there to drink better. I also don’t think the Neanderthals taught modern humans agriculture, as modern humanity, as Kayleigh says, only started farming about 10,000 years ago, which long after this period and the extinction of the Neanderthals themselves. But it does suggest to me that the Neanderthals may have been on the road to developing agriculture, and makes you wonder what more remains to be discovered about them.

Adrian Wareham’s Robot Farm

December 21, 2021

Adrian Wareham was a farmer, whose hobby was creating robotic animals. I found out about him from a short passage in a children’s book on weird inventions I bought way back in the 1990s, Amazing Inventions and Concoctions, by Howard Elson, illustrated by Kim Blundell. This described how he built an electronic cow:

La Mechanical Cow

Adrian Wareham from Christchurch in Dorset, England, became a dairy farmer with a difference in the autumn of 1987, when he invented the world’s first mechanical cow. She was called Victoria. The cow was made of metal and designed with folding legs and all the mannerisms of a real animal. It was built out of rubbish and discarded parts from an old French Citroen car that Wareham found on the junk heap. It was also capable of travelling at 11.25 kph (7 mph) and made its debut in the great British Wine Transport Race from Sussex, England to Paris, France. There was, however, no truth in the rumour that the cow was invented to produce tinned milk.’

The Cybernetic Zoo, a website on the history of cybernetic animals and early animals, has a page or two on him, reproducing a newspaper or magazine article. Not only did Wareham invent a robot cow, but he also invented a mechanical woman to mow his lawn, a robot dog, and flying pig, well, actually a mechanical pig with wings. He’s also supposed to have created a mechanical spider, but the writer of the Cybernetic Zoo article couldn’t find a picture of that one. Here’s what they looked like from the Cybernetic Zoo website.

I am constantly astonished by the inventiveness and creativity of ordinary people, and do feel that there is considerable potential in this country going wasted. Looking at these bizarre and fun machines, I do feel that there would be a demand for them if someone started manufacturing them. Yes, they’d be toys, but people would enjoy them and buy them for the sheer amusement they provided. There is, however, one question arises looking at them. He didn’t make an electronic sheep. But did the robot woman ever dream of one, as in the title of Philip K. Dick’s best-known novel?

For more information and to see the text and photos more clearly, go to the Cybernetic Zoo at http://cyberneticzoo.com/walking-machines/1987-90-mechanical-animals-adrian-wareham-british/

Cartoonist Kayfabe on Alejandro Jodorowsky’s ‘Panic Fables’

December 8, 2021

Alejandro Jodorowsky is a Chilean-French film director and comics creator. He was responsible for a number of very bizarre Surrealist films, such as Holy Mountain, one of which features a battle between the Incas and invading conquistadors as enacted by frogs in period costumes. In the 1970s he tried to make a film version of Frank Herbert’s classic Dune, which would have starred Orson Welles as Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, his son, Brontis, as Paul Atreides, and Mick Jagger as Feyd Rautha. Concept art was by H.R. Giger, Salvador Dali, Chris Foss and legendary French comics artist, Jean ‘Moebius’ Giraud. Dali would also have played the Emperor of the Universe. However, the great Surrealist stipulated that he would only act for half an hour. So Jodorowsky planned to make a robotic Dali to play the Emperor for the rest of the film. The film was, however, abandoned when the producers stopped funding due to mounting costs. Jodorowsky and Moebius weren’t dismayed, and used the material they had already produced for the film as the basis for their comic book, The Incal. Although it was never made, Jodorowsky’s Dune has influenced a number of later SF movies and a film version of The Incal is now underway.

In this video, hosts Ed Piskor and Jim Rugg look through Panic Fables, produced when Jodorowsky was living in Mexico. Jodorowsky had been teaching mime at university, but was now blacklisted. He could no longer teach or make films. He therefore turned his creative talents into comics. Panic Fables describe themselves as teaching initiatory wisdom. This doesn’t surprise me, as I go the impression that Jodorowsky has a very strong interest in esoteric mysticism. However, this doesn’t impress one of the Kayfabers. He’s from Pittsburgh, and so when someone talks about mystic knowledge, it seems to him to be all about separating the rich from their money. The pair are nevertheless impressed by Jodorowsky’s creativity, commenting on his drawing style and unique use of colour in the strips. They also wonder what American influences may have reached Jodorowsky from north of the border, as it was published at the same time the first underground comics were beginning in America, and both Jodorowsky’s work and the undergrounds mark a radical departure from contemporary comics.

Panic Fables are obscure much less well-known than Jodorowsky’s films or his comics with Moebius, The Incal and then The Metabarons. But the video about them give an insight into his considerable creativity during this period, when the Mexican authorities were trying to close him down.

History Debunked on the Racist Lies about the Treatment Black World War I Soldiers Told by Bristol Black History Prof

December 4, 2021

This is another video by History Debunked’s Simon Webb, in which he critically debunks a film produced by the BBC for their Black History season. This is a talk by Olivette Otele, the vice-president of the Historical Society and professor of slavery at Bristol University, about the treatment of Black soldiers from the West Indian regiment during the First World War. It’s a subject Webb knows something about, having written a book about the events of 1918 and 1919. What disturbs Webb is that the young Black members of the production team are encouraged to get involved and feel aggrieved about racism, showing that this is not objective history by propaganda.

She shows them pictures and film of Black World War I soldiers, and states that nobody knows about them. Webb says that this is possible, as they may simply have gone to bad schools or just not known about them. But she goes on to say that the British army didn’t want Blacks to join because they were afraid it would upset notions of White superiority. This sounds convincing, until you realise that one million Indians served in the British army during the War, of whom 75,000 were killed. She complains that the Black regiment had to serve in Egypt and the Middle East, but so did the Australians and New Zealanders at Gallipolli and the Dardanelles. She says in a sad voice that some were labouring and were killed. Well, this happens in wars, and the men weren’t conscripts but volunteers. The West Indians were also fighting, but you wouldn’t have realised this from what she was saying. She also states that after the end of the War, while White soldiers celebrated the Blacks had to do the laundry and clean the latrines. But Webb points out that soldiers still had to do duties even after the cessation of hostilities. Webb wonders if she knew that White soldiers were also moaning about this and wanted to be demobbed. Has she not heard of the many mutinies at the time. She also claims that the White soldiers got a pay rise that was denied to Blacks. This was due to a mix-up, but the Black soldiers did eventually get their money. But the mix-up also affected other colonial troops such as Indians and Australians. She’s angry at the suppression of various mutinies, but until the armistice Britain was still technically at War. There was a similar mutiny of White British soldiers at Southampton. At Calais the army considered shooting the mutineers with heavy artillery. There was also one in Wales which was suppressed by shooting in which five men were killed. The West Indian mutiny was simply one of many. He also points out that she couldn’t pronounce the words ‘machine gun corps’ and so sounds like a small child. She claims a Black trooper was shot, which is untrue. A young Black girl says it’s a horrible way to treat people who put their leaves on the line. Webb gives the girl the benefit of the doubt, as she may not know much about history. She claims that Black soldiers were treated worse than Whites, but there were plenty of Whites who were also treated badly. She also claims that they were written out of history, but that’s only the case if you don’t read books about the War. But the West Indian Regiment were comparatively small, only consisting of 15 thousand men, compared to the million Indian troops and the millions of other colonial troopers. He concludes by saying that it’s an example of a modern Black academic trying to remodel history for political purposes, and says it’s no wonder it was backed by the Beeb.

There are several things to be said about this. Otele is highly qualified – she has a doctorate from the Sorbonne and was recently appointed the professor of slavery at Bristol university. This looks like a political appointment. The University has been under fire because it was partly founded through donations from the Colston charities, set up in commemoration of the slavery Edward Colston. The same Colston whose statue was toppled last year by Black Lives Matter protestors. I understand that there’s also a lot of Black anger in Bristol directed at the university because of its low number of Black students. This is probably because, as a member of the Russell Group of universities, it’s entry standards are very high, and Black educational levels throughout Britain are disproportionately poor. Also, when I was at school, you were discouraged from applying to your local university. Thus although Bristol has a large Black population, few Bristol Blacks would end up in the uni.

Then there’s the question of what she says about the treatment of the West Indian regiment. I’ve also heard that there was a reluctance to use Black troops against Europeans, and they were sent out to fight the Turks as an inferior civilisation. It’s also true that the Black and Asian soldiers who fell in the War weren’t commemorated like the White. A few years ago a monument was finally set up to them in Belgium. But a few years ago, at the beginning of this century, the former Empire and Commonwealth Museum in Bristol held an exhibition on the contribution of Black and Asian soldiers to the War. This included diaries and other artefacts. It also included a statement from a Black soldier that serving with Whites and seeing them suffer in hospital like everyone else broke down racial barriers and showed that they were not gods to be feared. The Empire and Commonwealth Museum closed sometime ago, long before Otele was appointed. It’s a pity it is no longer there, but it’s holding are currently held in the archives at Bristol’s M Shed. It’s a pity Otele didn’t contact them.

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French Practical Joker Masquerades as UFO Alien to Troll TV Channel

December 2, 2021

Boris Johnson seems to go out of his way to antagonise our former EU partners. Priti Patel was disinvited to a meeting about the Channel migrants crisis after Bozo leaked his reply to them to the press before formally informing his French counterparts. He’s got form for this kind of assinine behaviour. It seems to me that it’s part of a deliberate strategy: do something to upset the French or the EU, claim to the press that it’s all their fault and this why is why Brexit is a good thing. And then, when Boris is actually defeated or outwitted by the EU or the French, start lying and spinning it as some kind of great victory. And stirring up patriotic outrage against supposed slights or aggression from foreigners is one of the oldest tricks in the political playbook. Regimes start a foreign affairs crisis to distract their people from domestic issues when the pressures there start getting too great. Franco used to do it with Gibraltar. But why would our great and universally admired leader be afraid of criticism over domestic issues? Well, it might have something to do with his inept handling of the Covid pandemic, the immense corruption and cronyism in the Tory party, the further privatisation of the NHS and cuts to benefits. Also, people are worried about their safety following the assassination of David Amess and the fortunately failed suicide bombing of Liverpool Women’s Hospital. Quite apart from the fact that Priti Patel is coming under fire from the right for not stopping the migrants from crossing the Channel, and from the left for her increasingly Fascistic attitude to such migrants. Brexit is damaging the economy, nobody’s running to be Britain’s trading partners, and the deals with America and New Zealand throw British farmers under the bus. So Bozo needs a distraction so that he can blame evil foreigners. Or he could just be monumentally inept. That’s also a strong possibility.

So here’s something rather more positive from across the Channel. Remi Gaillard appears to a French prankster of the same type as the late Jeremy Beadle of Beadle’s About, and the team from Game for a Laugh. In this video he dresses up as an Grey alien and poses, complete with a little UFO, to get a reaction from the French public. Some of them react in fear, some are perplexed, especially when he appears at a rural crossroads pulling a cow – presumably a reference to cattle mutilation. And some are well up to him. Despite his attempt to escape, the local fire brigade capture him and throw him in the back of his fire engine. He and his team explain at the end that they did to troll a TV channel, because they believe anything. So they faked UFO appearances in the sky using drones before setting up the alien appearances. He gleefully states that it worked. It’s funny, but obviously not if you’re one of the people being pranked, which is always the problem with this kind of practical joking. But it is also interesting to see how the mythology of Area 51 and Greys has penetrated French ufology as well as that of Britain and America. Mind you, Game for a Laugh did something similar back in the 1980s when they faked an alien landing on some poor woman’s front lawn.

This is all very childish and shouldn’t be encouraged, but it is funny, and that’s what we also need in these depressing times.

*****

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