Archive for the ‘Italy’ Category

Examining Jeanette Winterson’s Ideas on AI and Literature

June 4, 2019

Last Saturday’s I for 1-2 June 2019 carried an interview in its ‘Culture’ section with the literary novelist, Jeanette Winterson, about her latest work, Frankissstein. This is another take on Frankenstein, with one strand of the book set in the contemporary world and exploring AI, the downloading of the human mind into computers and literature. Winterson’s the second literary novelist, following Ian McEwan, to turn to the world of robotics for their subject matter. I’ve critiqued both of them, based on reviews in the papers, because this comes across to me very much of another instance of ‘literary’ novelists appropriating Science Fiction subjects and issues, while disdaining and ignoring the genre itself.

Winterson’s interview with Max Liu was also very interesting in other respects, and worth reading. While I am not remotely inclined to read her book, and have real objections to some of her statements on philosophical grounds, I also found that there was much that she said, which I agreed with. Particularly about the exploitation of British communities under Brexit.

The Interview

The article, on page 49, was prefaced with the statement Jeanette Winterson talks to Max Liu about AI and why the novel could die if it doesn’t reinvent itself’. It ran

Jeanette Winterson would like to upload her brain to a computer. “It were possibl, I wouldn’t be able to resist the temptation to find out what it’s like to live without a body,” she says when we meet to discuss Frankissstein, her new novel about artificial intelligence. “I had a very religious upbringing, so to me, the idea that the body is just a house is normal.”

The 59-year-old wrote about her Pentecostal childhood in her semi-autobiographical debut novel, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit (1985), and her memoir Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? (2011). For the past couple of years, she has been reading about AI and robotics at the same time as thinking about Mary Shelley’s Gothic classic, Frankenstein. In her latest novel, the young Shelley appears as a character.

“I started writing about Mary in Italy at the beginning of the 19th century then worked my way to the present,” says Winterson. “There was no point setting a novel about AI in the future, because I wanted readers to realise the future is here. We don’t know how far big money has gone in developing AI, but I suspect it’s much further than we think.”

Winterson believes “we’re living in an ahistorical world where people don’t know how we got here”, the pace of change since the Industrial Revolution leaving us bewildered. “By its nature, reading slows us down,” she says,”so I’m pushing against the acceleration of modern life, creating imaginative space for readers to inhabit. Anybody who can imagine something is in control.”

Her new novel’s present-day characters include Ry, a transgender doctor, and Winterson says: “One of my godchildren identifies as transgender and I’ve been reading a lot about that because I thought I needed to understand. The idea of identity being provisional fed into this novel. Much Western thought rests upon the idea that there is a core self that we can know and perfect, but probably there isn’t.

Ray falls in love with Ron, who is trying to make his fortune by designing sex dolls. Ron plans to exploit post-Brexit tax breaks by opening a factory in Wales. “I hate to see how my class has been manipulated by people who have no thought and no care for them,” says Winterson. “I’m ashamed of my country for turning its back on a European project and choosing nationalism.”

Were she to live for another 100 years, Winterson says she would retrain as a scientist. Does this mean she doesn’t see a future for the novel?

“The novel is only on its way out if it doesn’t change,” she says. “In the 80s, it was too middle-class and too male. Then Angela Carter came along and was so fresh, but she had a terrible time initially. The example of English literature’s conservatism that kills me is when Anita Brookner’s Hotel du Lac won the Booker in 1984 and Carter’s Nights at the Circus wasn’t even shortlisted. It was the year before I published Oranges and I just thought: “This is so dull.”

In Frankissstein, one character says the urge to write comes from vanity, but Mary counters that it’s about hope. Which is it from Winterson? “My writing is a message in a bottle. I won’t be here long enough to get my brain uploaded, so I’m chucking this message overboard in the hope it will move the conversation on.”

Moravec, Transhumanism and Max Headroom

It would be interesting to find out what Winterson had been reading as her research for her book. My guess it would almost certainly include Hans Moravec and the downloaders and transhumanists. They aim to upload their minds into machines. A little while ago they held a party at which they avowed their intention to meet each other on the other side of the Galaxy in a million years’ time. Which is some ambition. I think Moravec himself believes that by this middle of this century the technology should have been perfected that will allow a human brain to be read in such minute detail that its functions can be reproduced on computer. This was the premise behind the Max Headroom pilot, 20 Minutes into the Future. In this tale, broadcast on Channel 4 in the 1980s, Headroom, a computer-generated TV personality, is created when his human original, an investigative journalist in a dystopian future London, knocks himself unconscious going through a crash barrier to escape the villains. The journo’s body is retrieved, and used by a teenage computer whizzkid, Brice, who seems to spend his whole life in the bath, to create Headroom as an experiment. The character takes his name from the last thing his original sees before he goes through the barrier: a sign saying ‘Max Headroom’.

Sladek’s The Muller-Fokker Effect

I also wonder if she read any of the SF literature about downloading and cyberspace, including one of the first novels to tackle the subject, John Sladek’s The Muller-Fokker Effect, published in 1970. This is about Bob Shairp, a man reduced to date and stored on computer tape. I haven’t read it, but according to Brian Aldiss and David Wingrove in their history of Science Fiction, The Trillion Year Spree,

it is a deeply satirical book, homing in on the US Army, evangelism, newspapers and the like for its target, with an overall sense of fun reminiscent of the work of Kurt Vonnegut, Philip K. Dick and Sheckley. (p. 307).

Future Shock and the Global Rate of Change

Winterson’s comment that it was useless to set the book in the future, as the future is already here, is very similar to the remarks I heard about two decades ago by William Gibson, one of the founders of the Cyberpunk SF genre. Speaking at the Cheltenham Festival of literature, Gibson said that the future was already here, it was just wasn’t spread out the same everywhere, so there were parts of the world, such as the developing countries, where it wasn’t present to the same extent as the more advanced West. As for her comments about living in an ahistorical age, where people don’t know how we got here, and the pace of change is accelerating, this sounds very close to Alvin Toffler and his idea of future shock, where societal change is now so advanced and rapid that it is profoundly disorienting. But it is possible to exaggerate the speed of such changes. I can remember reading an article a few years ago, that argued that the impact of modern technology is vastly overestimated. The internet, for example, it was claimed, isn’t half as revolutionary as it is made out as it is only a development of earlier technologies, like the telegram. It’s a contentious claim, but in many ways the most rapid technological, social and economic changes were in the century following Queen Victoria’s coronation in 1937. That was when Britain was transformed from an agricultural, almost feudal country into a modern, industrial society. Britain’s empire expanded massively, communications improved allowed the rapid movement of information, goods and people across the globe. It was the period when new transport technologies like the railway, the automobile, the electric tram, dirigible balloons, aeroplanes and the rocket were created, along with inventions like the X-Ray, electric light, the telegram, telephone, radio and the first experiments in television, and, of course, sound recording and the cinema. Contemporary technological advances can be seen as refinements or improvements on these, rather than completely new inventions.

Transgender People and the Question of Core Personality

I also have objections to her comments about whether or not there is a core, human personality. I’ve no doubt that one argument against it is that many people would be very different if they had had a different upbringing. If they’d been born into a different class, or allowed to study a particular subject at school or university, or if they’d decided to pursue a different career. And, obviously, if they’d been born a different gender. But twin studies suggest that people do have some aspects of their character determined by their biology rather than their upbringing. And I don’t think she makes her argument by pointing to transpeople. As I understand it, many transpeople believe very strongly that they have a core personality or nature. It’s just that this is at opposition to their biological gender. Hence their desire to change. It isn’t simply that they simply decide at some point that they want to change their sex, which would be the case if it was simply the case that they had no core personality. But perhaps Winterson’s godchild is different.

Computers and the Existence of Self 

I’m also suspicious of the idea, as it sounds rather close to the ideas of Daniel Dennett and Susan Blackmoore that consciousness is an illusion and that the brain is simply a meat machine for running memes, discrete units of culture like genes are discrete units of biological information. On the other hand, when she says that existing as a disembodied entity on a computer doesn’t seem strange to her because of her religious background, she’s in agreement with Paul Davies. In his book, God and the New Physics, he stated that he’s prepared to accept that life can exist outside the body because of the way computers could be used to simulate human personalities. I can remember reading that the wife of one of the leading downloaders was a Methodist minister. He commented about this apparent contradiction between their two disciplines by saying that they were both trying to do the same thing, but by different methods.

The Manipulation of the Working Class

I do agree wholeheartedly, however, with Winterson’s comments about how her class is being manipulated by people, who give them no thought and no care for them. The idea that the creation of tax breaks for businesses after Brexit would allow an amoral entrepreneur to build a factor for sex robots in Wales is all too credible. Just as I agree with her about Britain turning it’s back on the EU, though I also have strong criticisms of the European Union. But Brexit has been and is being used by the Tory extreme right and its related movements, like UKIP and Farage’s noxious Brexit people, to manipulate the working class and exploit them. If you look at what Boris Johnson and Farage want, the privatisation of the NHS to American private healthcare firms is very much on the table.

Conservatism, Sexism, Literature and Literary Snobbishness

She was also right about the conservatism and sexism of the literary world in the 1980s. Private Eye’s literary column attacked Hotel du Lac for its snobbishness at the time. And the Orange Prize for literature was set up because it was felt that women were being unfairly excluded from the main literary prizes. However, the remarkable success of women writers in winning the mainstream awards has also, in the view of Private Eye a few years ago, also called into question the reason for Orange Prize. Why have a separate prize for women when that year the lists were dominated by female writers? And as for Angela Carter, I wonder if some of the problems she had didn’t just come from her writing feminist magic realist tales and fairy stories, but also because the genre SF/Fantasy crowd liked her. Flicking through an old SF anthology I found in one of the secondhand bookshops in Cheltenham yesterday, I found a piece by her about literary theory along with pieces by other, firmly genre figures. A few years ago Terry Pratchett commented that the organisers of the Cheltenham Festival looked at him as if he was going to talk to his fans about motorcycle maintenance, and he was certainly subject to appalling snobbery by the literary critics when he started out. I think it’s therefore quite possible that Carter was disdained by those who considered themselves the guardians of serious literature because she was too genre. But I also wonder if Winterson herself, despite her deep love of Carter’s work, doesn’t also have the same attitude that sees genre fiction as somehow not proper literature, as she, Martin Amis, Ian McEwan and the others write.

I have to say that I don’t see the death of novel being anywhere near imminent. Not from looking along the shelves at Waterstone’s, and particularly not in the genre fiction, crime, horror, and SF. But it says something about the apparent lack of inspiration in literary fiction that it is turning to SF for its subjects. Winterson said some fascinating things in her interview, but to me, genre SF still did AI, robots and downloading first and better than the mainstream novelists now writing about it.

 

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If You Want to Stop the Spread of Fascism, Vote Labour Tomorrow

May 22, 2019

Mike’s put up a series of articles this week arguing that anybody really worried about the spread of Fascism in Europe should vote Labour at the European elections tomorrow. He’s based these on comments and an article posted by one of the great readers of his blog, and by a Groaniad journo. And his and their logic is impeccable.

The election tomorrow is not a re-run of the Brexit referendum. The responsibility for deciding whether Britain leaves the EU and how lies very firmly with parliament. Nothing the Lib Dems for the Remain side nor the Brexit Party does in the EU parliament will alter that. But European democracy, culture and human rights are under threat from a renascent Far Right. The Brexit party is part of that threat, and the Lib Dems are part of the underlying cause: the misery and increasing poverty caused by neoliberalism for the benefit of the European elites, and particularly the financial sector.

Let’s start with the Brexit Party. Whatever the Fuhrage says to the contrary, his is an authoritarian, racist, far right party. It only looks moderate because Batten’s recruitment of Sargon, Dankula, Paul Joseph Watson and Tommy Robinson has pushed the party further right, bordering on the real Fascism of the BNP. But the party was already stuffed full of racists, islamophobes and militant anti-feminists under Farage. And the Brexit party still contains them and draws on them for support. The song by Captain Ska that Mike’s put up this morning attacking Farage as a racist is spot on. He did put up anti-immigrant posters that used the image of a long line of immigrants almost identical to a Nazi one against the dangers of Jewish immigration. His party is a corporation, like that of Change UK, and there are very strong suspicions that it is funded by dark money from foreign powers. Which is illegal. Quite apart from the fact that he lied about it not being funded by Arron Banks when it clearly was. The Fuhrage’s personal style of leadership is extremely authoritarian. In Chester last week he had a member of the audience at a rally thrown out because the man had the temerity to ask a searching question. Rather than cry ‘Duce! Duce!’ along with the rest of the adoring masses. Now he has blocked Channel 4 from his rallies, for the same reason. This is extremely ominous, as it shows that, like his friend Trump, he would dearly love to get rid of the freedom of the press and speech completely. He would also like to privatise the health service and roll back the welfare state even further than the Conservatives.

He’s a threat to Britain, and to genuine European liberal values.

As is Vince Cable and the Lib Dems. People are voting for them apparently because of their clear Remain message, and they’re supposed to have overtaken Labour in the polls for this election. But let’s remember that the Lib Dems went into the coalition with the Tories, where they were quite happy to support the further privatisation of the health service, the bedroom tax, the increasing destruction of the welfare state, including IDS’ and McVey’s lethal sanctions of the unemployed and the disabled in the DWP. Thanks in part to the Lib Dems, a quarter of a million people now have to rely on food banks for their next meal, the majority of whom I think are now working people. And something like a quarter of all children are growing up in ‘food insecure’ homes. Or something like it. And students in particular have a very good reason not to vote for Cable or his gang of bandits. The massive hike in tuition fees was urged by Nick Clegg, the Lib Dem leader. Cameron would have given in and lowered or dropped them had the Lib Dems insisted. Our young people, the doctors, nurses, teachers, scientists, engineers, and professionals of tomorrow, are being sadly with tens of thousands of pounds in debt because Clegg and the Lib Dems thought they should. They are also a threat to democracy, because they decided to throw out John Stuart Mill and his resolute support of democracy to bring in secret courts. All in the interests of national security, of course.

But hey, the austerity they and the other centrists demand will bring prosperity eventually. 

The answer to this is no, it won’t. It hasn’t so far, and won’t ever. A few weeks ago I put up a video from the Canary which explained that everywhere austerity has been implemented it has produced nothing but poverty. And far from being massively popular, those parties promoting it have met with the absolute reverse.

And the Fascists know this, and are exploiting it.

Hope Not Hate on Monday, 20th May 2019, put up piece about a mass rally in Milan of the various European far right parties, organised by Matteo Salvini of Italy’s Lega Party. It was a kind of ‘Unite the Right’ of European Fascists, attended by

Marine Le Pen of France’s Rassemblement National and Geert Wilders of the Dutch Party for Freedom. Alternative for Germany (AfD), Belgium’s Vlaams Belang (VB), Estonia’s EKRE and the Danish People’s Party (DPP) had all sent their main MEP candidates and central party figures, Jörg Meuthen (AfD), Gerolf Annemans (VB), Jaak Madison (EKRE) and Anders Vistisen (DPP). Representatives from Slovakias Sme Rodina, Austrian Freedom Party, Finland’s True Finns, Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) from Czech Republic and Volya from Bulgaria also addressed the rally.

Hope Not Hate reported that

Welcomed by chants of his name from the crowd, Salvini said he wanted to “free the continent from the illegal occupation orchestrated in Brussels”, and that Europe had been betrayed by the “Merkels, the Macrons, the Soroses and the Junckers who built a Europe based on finance and uncontrolled migration.” The audience chanted “Matteo, Matteo, Matteo” in response.

Okay, Merkel is the leader of Germany’s centre right Christian Democrats, and Soros is the Hungarian-American billionaire financier. But the policies they are pursuing are the old shopworn neoliberalism and austerity. As are Macron’s, who’s supposed to be reviving French prosperity. And if you don’t believe that these people are Fascists, consider how close Geert Wilders’ comments that “We must secure the future of our land and children”. This is close to the infamous ’14 Words’ of the American neo-Nazis, which run something like ‘We must secure a White homeland and the future of White children’, although I’ve forgotten the right wording.

Salvini gathers leaders of the European far right in Milan

Europe desperately needs the return of genuine, socialist politics. Not just to restore its industries and people from decades of poverty, calculated neglect, privatisation and welfare cuts by its elites, but to save Europe and its tradition of democracy and human rights from a renewed Fascism. A strong vote for the Labour party in the elections will help them form a powerful bloc with the other European socialist parties. And it has always been the parties of the Left – the Socialists and Communists – who have been the most resolute and determined opposed of Fascism.

Don’t let Farage and Cable lead us into a Continent-wide new Fascist Dark Age. 

Vote Labour!

No Pasaran!

 

Sargon Attacked for Anti-Semitism

May 1, 2019

After the Mail on Sunday’s hit piece on YouTube rightist Carl Benjamin aka Sargon of Akkad at the weekend comes yet another attack from the Jewish News and Jewish Chronicle. Sargon has been adopted by UKIP as their second listed candidate for the southwest. And so the media has spent the last few weeks tearing him apart for his highly controversial views about race and feminism.

Sargon’s Infamous Rape Tweet

Sargon is infamous for his tweet to Labour MP Jess Phillips saying ‘I wouldn’t even rape you’ after she read out in parliament the rape and death threats she’d received over social media. He also made a video against ‘political correctness’ and identity politics, in which he used various racial slurs against Blacks, Hispanics, Jews and Asians, called gays ‘fags’ and the mentally handicapped ‘retards’.

Apparent Support for Sexual Abuse of Boys 

The MoS’ article discussed these, but also included new allegations, that Sargon approved of the sexual abuse of underage boys. A dossier of information handed over to the rozzers by an unnamed senior official in UKIP included the recording of a conversation Sargon had on YouTube. In it he said he could be quoted as saying that it was acceptable to f*** young boys, because it was normal in ancient Greece. ‘It’, he said, ‘all depends on the child’.

Jews, Identity Politics and the Holocaust

Yesterday Zelo Street put up an article reporting that Sargon has now been attacked for anti-Semitism for comments he made at an evening in New York with YouTube independent journo and actor and stand-up comedian Carlos Alazraqui. The evening was recorded, and put up on Sargon’s YouTube channel under the title ‘The Manhattan Panel’. Sargon had made the comments in response to a question by a member of the audience about a powerful and influential Jewish political group, and how he could point them out without engaging in identity politics.

Sargon replied by defending Jeremy Corbyn. He stated that though he was loath to defend a socialist, Corbyn didn’t deserve the pasting he had received. He then went on to make the following comments

“Jewish people do very well in our societies. That’s to their credit, they work hard. It’s not that this is illegitimately gained. But then I can see why people are resentful that successful, rich, well-off people, who are well connected, who are socially very advanced, are then playing the game of identity politics as well.

“I can see why it doesn’t seem fair. It seems like an unfair defence, an unfair advantage that they have. If someone were to say, ‘Well that’s anti-semitic thing to say,’ it would sound to me like someone criticising feminism and being called a mysoginist. To me it’s just another brand of identity politics.”

He then went on

“Jewish people are very smart, they work very hard, of course they’re successful, if we want to even have any idea that we’re living in a meritocracy, if Jews weren’t succeeding in our societies they must be being held back. But they’re not, they’re doing great, because they’re not being held back, because they do work hard, because they are smart.

“We need Jewish people, unfortunately for them, have got to drop the identity politics.

“I’m sorry about the Holocaust but I don’t give a shit. I’m sorry.”

It is this comment about the Holocaust that was criticised by the two papers as anti-Semitic, who also mentioned that he had also made other racial and anti-Semitic slurs.

Sargon’s Defence of Racial Slurs against Asians

Zelo Street in their piece about Sargon’s comments linked it to the remark he made in his video defending his right to use abusive terms against those of others, gays and the mentally handicapped. He argued that he had the right to call Asians ‘ch*nks’ because they were generally more prosperous and thus more privileged than Whites. Zelo Street quoted Sargon’s comments, adding their own pertinent remarks thus

Because Asians are privileged. In almost every walk of life, Asians make more money [what does that remind you of?], they have better results, and they do better in life than me, just a dumb-ass cracker. So when Asians are filling up all of those top spots in better proportion than white people [?] you have to understand you have institutional privilege”.

See: https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2019/04/carl-benjamin-in-anti-semitism-storm.html

This is based on the Buzzfeed article at

https://www.buzzfeed.com/markdistefano/benjamin-akkad-racial-statements

The Campaign Against Anti-Semitism on the Disparagement of the Holocaust

Sargon’s comments were inevitably going to be considered anti-Semitic. Way back in 2014 the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism published a list of remarks they considered to be anti-Semitic. Two of them were about lack of sympathy for the Holocaust. These were ‘Jews talk too much about the Holocaust’, and ‘Jews talk about the Holocaust to make people feel sorry for them.’ These are more or less the kind of sentiments Sargon was expressing.

Zionist Appropriation of Holocaust 

Now Tony Greenstein, who is a Jewish anti-Zionist, has made the point that the Jewish community in Britain is generally comfortably middle class, and that the loud accusations of anti-Semitism leveled at critics of Israel are unjust, because Jews don’t suffer the massive hatred and institutional racism suffered by Blacks, Asians and Muslims. In contemporary Britain, there are no forced deportations of Jews as there have been of Blacks and other non-White minorities, such as those of the Windrush generation and their children.

Greenstein and other Jewish critics of Israel, such as Norman Finkelstein, Ilan Pappe and even Hannah Arendt have described how the Holocaust has been appropriated by Zionism to support and fend off criticism of Israel. This is controversial, obviously, but nevertheless it’s  a fair point, which should be able to be discussed without accusations of anti-Semitism.

But Sargon didn’t mention Zionism. He was simply referring to ‘the Jews’.

The Holocaust and Gentile Resentment of Jewish Success

A number of Jewish writers and bloggers have made it clear that they don’t like people praising them for their economic and social success, because this can too easily turn into envy and resentment. Which is absolutely true. The Nazis and other anti-Semites resented Jewish success. They attempted to explain it with stupid, murderous conspiracy theories like the The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. These claimed that the Jews were planning to enslave non-Jews and were doing their best to squeeze gentiles out of important positions in politics, business and culture. This happened in Germany, which during the 19th century was one of the least anti-Semitic countries in Europe. I’ve read histories of the Jewish community in 19th century Germany that have argued that there was far less prejudice against them there than in France or Britain. The Holocaust, apart from the Jewish people’s long history of persecution, has left behind a terrible legacy of social insecurity. It continues to be discussed because it occurred in the West, in one of the most civilised and cultured nations in Europe. It fascinates and terrifies because it shows that, despite the West’s ideas of progress and civilisation, they also could commit horrific acts of mass barbarism against innocents, simply because they were the wrong race.

Anti-Semitism and Persecution Easily Generated Under Fascism

And such resentment can be generated very quickly, even in societies where there was little traditional anti-Semitism. In Italy, for example, there was also extremely little anti-Semitism. The Jewish community was small and assimilated. They were proud Italians, so proud, in fact, that many even joined the Fascist party. But this changed after Mussolini passed his infamous racial legislation in 1937. It was a milder imitation of Hitler’s Nuremberg Laws, and similarly banned Jews from positions in the Fascist party, government, education and certain businesses. Initially there was shock and outrage from the Italian public. But after a few years of repression, in which gentiles who commiserated with and supported Jews were harassed and punished, part of the Italian public began to wonder if the Jews had not brought it all on themselves and deserved it for somehow conspiring against Italy and Mussolini. The regime’s spies were thus pleased to observe that anti-Semitism was therefore increasing.

See: Christopher Duggan, Fascist Voices: An Intimate History of Mussolini’s Italy (London: Vintage Books 2013).

Asians in Similar Social Position to Jews

Asians are in a similar situation. Although certain Asian groups, like the Chinese and Hindus in Britain, have managed to prosper, they have also experienced racial prejudice and discrimination, and are at risk of abuse and violence from racists and Fascists like other, less privileged minorities. Hence the same concern to see them also protected from racism, including abusive language.

Sargon Not Anti-Semite, But Views Normalise Racism

I don’t think it’s fair to call Sargon an anti-Semite. I think he may even have claimed to be Jewish. He clearly admires the Jews for the way they earned their success through hard work and enterprise, although not everyone in the Jewish community is rich or comfortably off by any means. David Rosenberg on his blog has described how there are still Jews, who are poor and depend very much on the welfare state that Sargon, as a Libertarian, sorry, ‘Classical Liberal’ would like to see demolished. And Sargon is right in that there would indeed be something wrong with Britain as a meritocracy, if talented people from minorities like the Jews couldn’t rise in society.

But Sargon’s views on race, identity politics and the Holocaust are ignorant and dangerous, because they legitimize certain forms of racism. And his views on the Holocaust are particularly dangerous because, without its proper remembrance, horrors like it may be all too easily committed again. Sargon has argued with the Far Right on debates on YouTube, but some of his views are so close to theirs that Fascists like Richard Spencer have confessed to using some of his videos as gateways to their own vile ideologies and organisations.

Sargon thus deserves all the media criticism he has received for his extreme right-wing views. He was always a liability to UKIP, and since Batten adopted him and the other YouTube rightists he’s been bringing them down with him. And I don’t doubt the criticism are over yet.

 

 

 

Islamophobe Tommy Robinson Campaigning to Become MEP in Manchester

April 26, 2019

Well UKIP and Farage’s equally noxious Brexit party, both stuffed with racists and bigots, have announced their candidates for the European elections. And they’ve now been joined by that other long-term fixture of the populist extreme right, Stephen Yaxley Lennon, aka Tommy Robinson. Robinson’s past in the EDL and the BNP mean that he’s actually forbidden by their constitution to become a member of UKIP, which is why Gerard Batten has taken him on as the party’s special adviser on Islam and prisons. Because Robinson despises Islam and has spent quite a bit of time at her majesty’s pleasure on various charges, like assault, contempt of court likely to prejudice trials, that kind of thing. As he can’t be a member of UKIP, Robinson is trying to get himself elected to the European parliament as an independent.

Last week he announced that he was planning to buy his own political battle bus, equipped with screens outside and inside, so he could bring his message of hate to the British public directly without being banned by the authorities or having his videos taken down by YouTube and the other social media companies. And he’s appealed to his followers to send him their hard-earned cash so he can buy it. On Thursday he began his campaign to become the MEP for England’s north-west region in Wythenshawe, a suburb of Manchester. He chose the place because it’s where many of the support workers for Manchester airport live. He claimed that the local people had been forgotten and betrayed at every level, and the Labour party no longer represented ‘who we are’, and called for people to stop supporting them and turn to him instead. He was introduced by Ann-Marie Waters, the struggling Fuhrerin of For Britain, another far right, Islamophobic party. For Britain’s members, according to Hope Not Hate, are former BNP and EDL storm troopers, who are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with Water’s leadership.

Robinson began his campaign with a barbecue on Brownley Green, opposite the local Methodist church. And the locals really didn’t want him to turn up. He was asked not to come by the local Christian, Jewish and Muslim community leaders. Wythenshawe Community Housing Group told Robinson that the green is their land, and they were refusing him permission to use it. Madeleine Monaghan stated that the area was unsuitable for large gatherings as it was in an area of family homes, with narrow streets, children and old people. Nevertheless, Robinson ignored them and went ahead anyway.

https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2019/04/tommy-robinson-barbecue-banned.html

In the event only 300 local people turned up. And the cops, who informed Robinson he may have broken electoral law. This forbids politicians from offering money or other gifts to induce people to vote for them. It’s a law which was passed in the 19th century to stamp out the corruption of 18th century politics, including the rotten and pocket boroughs controlled by a single landlord. Politicalite also issued a tweet stating that the event was hosted by the Australian News Network, aka Avi Yemini. Yemini is an unindicted Australian-Israeli war criminal. He boasts of having shot unarmed Arabs when he was a soldier in the IDF. He is also not a British national. It is also against electoral law for political parties and candidates to be sponsored by foreign individuals and organisations. As there was a complaint against UKIP for handing out free sausage rolls at one of their electoral rallies a few years ago, Robinson may well find himself up before the Electoral Commission trying to explain himself.

https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2019/04/tommy-robinson-campaign-may-have-broken.html

See also this piece by Hope Not Hate, who have also started a campaign to stop him.

Stephen Lennon wants to go to Brussels

A vote for Robinson is a vote for Fascist thuggery, no exaggeration. He’s campaigned with the Football Lads’ Alliance, an organisation of football hooligans. And his method of dealing with his opponents on social media is to turn up mob-handed with his storm troopers at all hours of the day and night at the homes of his detractors and their families. He’s done it to the good blogger at Zelo Street, to historian and anti-racist YouTuber Mike Stuchbery, and to an unnamed blogger in Luton. In the latter case, Robinson drove all the way from his own home in Luton to the man’s parents’ home in Cumbria, arriving in the early hours of the morning.

This isn’t how proper, democratic politicians behave. It’s how the squadristi of Mussolini’s Fascists behaved in Italy, and Hitler’s Nazi thugs. It’s the tactics of the secret police of totalitarian states, like Stalin’s KGB, the Nazis’ Gestapo and Mussolini’s OVRA. Quite apart from Robinson’s own message of hatred against innocent, law-abiding Muslims, simply for being Muslims.

He is, along with Batten’s UKIP and Farage’s Brexit Party, a threat to democracy and the peace and safety of ordinary British citizens. In the event, only 300 local people actually turned up. Let’s hope the next time he invades an area looking for votes, local people also recognise him for what he is. And support British democracy by staying away or protesting against him.

Murdoch Demands Curtailment of Parliamentary Democracy over Brexit

April 8, 2019

Earlier today I put up a piece about an article in the I newspaper about the claim by a charity, the Hansard Society, that British people were increasingly demanding a more authoritarian leader, who could override parliament. This is obviously dangerous, as at the end of such anti-parliamentary sentiments lies authoritarian political strongmen like Vladimir Putin outright dictatorships, like those of Hitler and Mussolini. I speculated that, if the findings are correct, they’re probably due to Tweezer’s supporters getting impatient with parliament blocking her wretched, worthless Brexit deals.

It turns out I may well have been right. Brexit is involved. And so, unfortunately, is that curse of the modern press, Rupert Murdoch.

No sooner had I put my piece up then I found that the good fellow behind Zelo Street had put up a similar article based on articles about the Hansard Society and its wretched poll in the Times and the Guardian. The Thunderer’s article had the headline, ‘Brexit-weary Britons long for political strongman’, contained the following ominous statements

In findings that suggest large parts of the country are ready to entertain radical political change, nearly three quarters of people felt that the British system of governing needed ‘quite a lot’ or ‘a great deal’ of improvement.

More than four in ten thought that the country’s problems could be more easily solved if ministers ‘didn’t have to worry so much about votes in Parliament. The findings come two days before Theresa May returns to Brussels to ask the EU for another Brexit extension.

The Street says that it is no accident that the mythical desire for a political strongman is here linked to Brexit, and that the only surprise is that the Scum hasn’t received its orders to put the same demand in cruder terms. The article then goes on to discuss the Groan’s treatment of these findings, which is hostile, and quotes Rose Carter of the anti-racism, anti-religious extremism organisation, Hope Not Hate. She says

We are facing a crisis of political mistrust. And when people do not trust traditional political systems, they look elsewhere. That’s when support for political extremes grows.

The Street then goes on to describe how political strongmen look good, until they’re actually put to the test, and goes on to give examples. These aren’t just the obvious cases of Hitler’s Germany and Mussolini’s Italy, but also the Greek Colonels, who left Cyprus partitioned, Salazar in Portugal, who left his country poor and illiterate, General Franco in Spain, who brought some people prosperity in the 1960s, but from a very low base; General Pinochet and his legacy of death and division in Chile; and finally Vladimir Putin in Russia. His gangster regime has brought some people prosperity, but only recently has the Russian economy started growing.

But, as the Street’s article notes, the Dirty Digger likes Donald Trump and his authoritarian style of government, as he mistakenly thinks that the Orange Generalissimo gets things done. The Street therefore concludes that, once again, Murdoch is debasing politics for his own ends.

https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2019/04/murdoch-press-wants-dictatorship.html

Murdoch’s selfish demand for the curtailment of parliament’s powers and the establishment of the Prime Minister as some kind of quasi-dictator isn’t quite as extreme as Lord Rothermere’s support of Adolf Hitler and Oswald Mosley in the 1930s and the Daily Mail’s infamous headline ‘Hurrah for the Blackshirts’. Nor is it quite like Mussolini, who was the editor of a radical newspaper, the Popolo d’Italia, which he used to promote Fascism and his personal dictatorship. It’s far more like Berlusconi, who used his vast media empire to promote his political ambitions. It wasn’t a military dictatorship, like Mussolini’s with paramilitary thugs running berserk and the banning of other political parties. But then, as the author of the book, The Dark Heart of Italy stated on a radio interview about his book on Berlusconi’s Italy, this new form of Fascism didn’t need them. Unlike Berlusconi, Murdoch hasn’t put himself forward for political office. But he has been instrumental in framing policy in several governments, most notoriously in Blair’s, where one minister described the Digger as almost being like a hidden member of the cabinet, so concerned with Blair to have his approval.

This makes Murdoch a real threat to British democracy. There are reasons why the monopolies and mergers commission sought to prevent newspaper proprietors owning too large a portion of British media, and why many people, including many Tories, were not in favour of the Digger getting hold of the Times. But they were overruled by Thatcher, and have been overruled by other Prime Ministers ever since, eager to grant Murdoch an ever-increasing share of press and television broadcasting in order to gain the support of his squalid empire. And Murdoch’s own political views are directly opposed the welfare of Britain’s working people. They’re pro-privatisation, including that of the NHS and education, because he’s moving into educational publishing. He wants low taxes, less government regulation, and, surprise, surprise, a minimal welfare state. And now he’s shown himself to be an outright enemy of parliament and the British democratic tradition it represents.

Murdoch has no right to demand this. He isn’t British, but a foreigner. He’s actually an American citizens, as the Americans have the good sense to pass regulations stopping foreigners possessing a controlling interest in the newspapers and utilities. Which is something we should have done long ago. John Major back in the 1990s finally came round to realising that Murdoch’s squalid empire should be broken up, but by that time Murdoch had ditched him and was putting his weight behind Tony Blair, who more than willingly returned the favour.

Murdoch and his wretched papers have been bad for Britain, bad for British politics, bad for its working people, and now have begun an attack on the democracy. This can’t be allowed to continue, but I fear that with his newspapers now so powerful, too many people have been brainwashed by him to make this possible.

 

Charity Claims Brits Turning Away from Parliamentary Democracy to Strong Rulers

April 8, 2019

There’s an ominous piece in today’s I, Monday, 8th April 2019, reporting that a charity, the Hansard Society, has found that British people are increasingly fed up with parliamentary and looking instead for a strong ruler that govern without its consent. The article by Joe Gammie, ‘Britons want new rules – and new leaders’ runs

Growing public dissatisfaction with Britain’s political system is leading people to entertain “radical solutions” which challenge the core tenets of democracy, a charity has warned.

The annual Hansard Society audit of political engagement found that nearly three-quarters of people felt the UK’s system of governing needed “quite a lot” or “a great deal” of improvement.

At 72 per cent, this is the highest level in the 15 years the audits have been published – worse than the previous peak of 69 per cent in the 2010 study which was taken in the aftermath of the MPs’ expenses scandal and the financial crises.

The research and education charity warned that the increasing public dissatisfaction with the system of governing meant some people were saying Britain needed a “strong leader willing to break the rules” and that the country’s problems could be better deal with if the Government did not not have to worry about parliamentary approval.

Dr Ruth Fox, the director of the Hansard Society, said: “This year’s audit of political engagement shows that the public are not apathetic about politics, but they are increasingly dissatisfied with the way our system of governing works – so much so that sizeable numbers are willing to entertain quite radical solutions that would challenge core tenets of our democracy. (p.6).

The article seems to be saying that a majority of Brits now want a strong ruler, who gets things done without parliamentary checks. It means they’re turning to centralised, authoritarian, personal government. And the end of that road are the highly authoritarian regimes of leaders like Putin, or outright dictatorship.

I have some caveats about the article. It doesn’t describe how the polling was conducted, how large the canvassed groups were, or its composition. There is no information on precisely which sections of society made up the polled group, or their voting preferences or political allegiances. I’ve also read similar scare stories in the press before, where an organisation claimed they had found, for example, that 2/3 of Brits would support a strongly anti-immigrant party of the type of the BNP or National Front. In fact, while there is massive demand for restrictions on immigration, and as we’ve seen with successive governments, a very harsh, punitive approach to immigrants and asylum seekers, there’s very little support for the parties of the extreme Right. They’re a danger, and shouldn’t be encouraged, but they attract only tiny minority of supporters. People instead look to the mainstream parties to formulate and carry out policies against immigration. I think the same attitude underlies the comments here, if they can be believed. Those demanding a more centralised, personal government doubtless want it carried out within the system, rather than parliamentary democracy to be smashed and completely overthrown by an aspiring dictator like Oswald Mosley and the British Union of Fascists tried in the 1930s.

If there is such radical dissatisfaction with parliament, my guess is that it’s being fueled by the continuing debacle over Brexit, where the different factions in the Tory party are tearing each other to pieces, coupled with Tweezer repeatedly trying and failing to get it all past parliament. In these circumstances, it looks like the 72 per cent demanding a strong leadership against parliament are supporters of Tweezer, who have swallowed her lies and those of the Tory press that the reason no progress is being made is entirely due to treacherous MPs blocking her proposed deal. And not because the deal itself is rubbish and massively unpopular. If there’s a problem, then it’s not with parliament, or rather, not directly, and the solution is not to take power away from it and give it to a Russian-style silovik, or strong man. The proper solution would be to demand a general election to break impasse, one that would put a Labour government and Jeremy Corbyn into No. 10, and allow some real progress to be made.

But this is completely unacceptable to the Tories, for obvious reasons, and the rest of the neoliberal media-industrial complex, who wish to keep the Tories in No. 10 and blame parliament, not the PM, for the continuing massive failure of Brexit.

And this is extremely dangerous. When parliamentary democracy fails, Fascism seizes power. Both Hitler and Mussolini gained power through the failure of parliamentary democracy. In both Germany and Italy, the mainstream parties elected to parliament refused to work with each other. Hitler and Mussolini were then invited by the governing party to join a coalition in order to give them a majority. They did so, and then passed legislation giving their parties an overwhelming majority, and then destroying parliamentary democracy altogether through banning rival parties and elevating Hitler and Mussolini to positions of supreme leadership, Fuehrer in German, Duce in Italian.

There is also another danger to parliamentary democracy right at the opposite pole to political fragmentation. This is when it becomes discredited when MPs from an opposition party join the government without a mandate from their own party or constituency. For example, last week Tom Watson, the conniving deputy leader of the Labour party and other right-wing Labour MPs announced that they would be willing to join Tweezer and the Tories in a government of national unity. Watson has spent his time as deputy leader intriguing against the party’s leader, Jeremy Corbyn, who has the overwhelming support of party members. A sizable section of the parliamentary Labour party has also plotted to undermine and overthrow Corbyn, against the wishes of their own constituency parties and the members of the Party as a whole. The result has been a series of ‘no confidence’ votes against right-wing, Thatcherite MPs like Joan Ryan and Luciana Berger. Who responded by smearing their opponents as Communists, misogynists and anti-Semites, and then split to help form Change UK, thus betraying the Labour supporters and activists that got them elected. It’s been pointed out that Watson and co. do form a coalition with Tweezer, it would effectively be an anti-democratic coup, carried out by parliament against the wishes of the wider electorate.

Parallels have also been drawn between this and the coalition government of 1929, when Ramsay McDonald, then leader of the Labour party, joined forces with the Tories to introduce a series of cuts that hit the working class. This split the Labour party, and McDonald was thrown out. He has been reviled ever since as a traitor to the party. This may well be what Watson wants, as he and other Labour right-wingers were talking of coups and forming splinter groups long before The Independent Group finally took the plunge. It’s part of their plot to marginalise genuine socialism, and retain power under the name of the Labour party for Thatcherite entryists like themselves. But if they do take this step, it will discredit parliament, and the result could a further turn to radical solutions demanding the removal of parliamentary democracy or its radical curtailment.

It’s also similar to the plans for a coup in the mid-’70s to overthrow Harold Wilson’s minority government. The Times then was demanding a government of national unity, to include moderate Labour MPs like Shirley Williams alongside the Tories. This was to be achieved by a military coup and everyone else further left was to be rounded up and interned.

If the Hansard Society is correct, and people are becoming radically dissatisfied with parliamentary government, then the solution isn’t the greater centralisation of power in the Prime Minister. Tweezer is the cause of this problem. She has put her own personal interest in remaining premier, and her vile party’s determination to cling on to power at whatever the cost to the British people ahead of her duty to the country. Just as the Labour right has put its own privileges and Thatcherite agenda before the wishes of their constituents and the needs of the British people. The solution to these problems should be more democracy, so that Tweezer has no choice but to obey the wishes of parliament, and cannot pass the buck by blaming them for her own failures. At the same time, Watson and the rest of the Thatcherites should be brought to heel and made to represent their constituents, not their own selfish interests.

But this is too much for the British establishment and media, who will continue to support Tweezer against parliament, until people really are completely fed up with the whole charade. And then will come the real danger of demands for proper authoritarian government. But if it’s against the Left, this will certainly be backed by the Times and the rest of the press. All in the interests of national unity, of course.

Zelo Street on Neil Hamilton’s Nazi Antics

April 5, 2019

This morning, Zelo Street has put up a very interesting article about Neil Hamilton and his sordid history of extreme right-wing acts. The Street reports that Labour’s Ruth Jones has retained her seat at the Newport West by-election yesterday. This was despite the fact that she’s a Remainer, and it’s a constituency where a sizable part are ‘Leave’ supporters. The Labour majority was reduced, but that’s partly to be expected as the turn-out was much lower.

Unfortunately, the UKIP candidate, one Mostyn Neil Hamilton, also retained his deposit, even though he didn’t get in. Hamilton used to be a Tory politico until he ended up before the beak for taking bribes from one Mohammed al-Fayed, a grocer of Knightsbridge, in the ‘cash for questions’ scandal under John Major. Fayed, who was the-then owner of Harrod’s, had given money to Hamilton to ask questions in parliament, which is very much against the laws. Hamilton had taken the money and run, whereupon the man Private Eye dubbed ‘the Phoney Pharoah’ sued him for breach of contract. The result was a court case and mass hilarity. As someone said, it was the kind of case you wished both sides would lose.

The Street goes on to discuss the Kippers’ lurch to the far right, and its involvement with street protests. Why has Hamilton remained in the party when it has become notorious for intimidation and thuggery? The answer is that Hamilton himself has a history of intimidation and Fascist thuggery. He was one of those discussed in the Beeb Panorama documentary, ‘Maggie’s Militant Tendency’, which alleged that the Tories had been infiltrated by the Far Right. Hamilton was in it because he had made the Nazi salute in Germany, contrary to the country’s anti-Nazi legislation; worn blackface makeup to impersonate Idi Amin; gave a speech to a group of Italian neo-Fascists; was a member of the far-right Eldon group and an associate of the notorious George Kennedy Young, who had issued anti-Semitic slurs against Leon Brittan and Nigel Lawson. The documentary was never shown, because, despite all the evidence that the Tories were infested with Fascists, the Beeb surrendered when it could and should have humiliated Hamilton over Fascist links and behaviour. He also tried it with the Guardian, but the Groan stood up to him.

Zelo Street says that it was clear that several of the witnesses had suffered intimidation to change their stories, whether this was just a private word or a phone call. And it wasn’t personal intimidation, but legal threats from his wealthy supporters, like James Goldsmith and the Spectator columnist Taki Theodoracopulos,  who’s notorious for his anti-Semitism. This makes Hamilton perfectly at home in UKIP, which now boasts Tommy Robinson and associated thugs. Robinson was the former founder of the EDL, and has also been in Pegida UK and the BNP. His tactic of dealing with critics is to turn up mob-handed on their door step to intimidate them, as he has done with Mike Stuchbery. He also did this a few weeks ago to the parents of an unnamed young man, who had committed the heinous crime of posting footage showing Robinson contradicting himself or otherwise looking stupid or obnoxious on the web. The Street says

Plenty of intimidation, a little thuggery here and there, plenty of far-right links to keep him happy – Hamilton will be like the proverbial pig in shit.

And concludes

That’s why someone who served as a Conservative MP for 14 years fits right in with today’s UKIP. It’s also an indictment on that broad Tory church letting in the boot boys for so many years with no questions asked. 

See: https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2019/04/still-liar-and-cheat.html

 

Israeli Politico’s Fascist Campaign Ad

April 2, 2019

This disturbing video comes from The Michael Brooks Show. Brooks was a co-host on Sam Seder’s Majority Report, and, like him, is Jewish. They have the same stance on Israel, attacking the Israeli state and its persecution of the Palestinians. Brooks’ criticism of this ad is all the more acute because he is partly of German Jewish heritage, the people, who first suffered the horrific persecution under the Nazis that led eventually to the attempted extermination of the Jewish people across Europe.

Brooks simply says that this is one of the most disturbing political ads ever. It’s for Ayelet Shaked, the Justice Minister in the current Likud coalition government. He describes her as far, far Right, because of the horrific comments she’s made about the Palestinians. She’s recommended killing Palestinian children, so that the ‘snakes’ don’t grow up and try to avenge their parents’ deaths by the Israelis. This is a truly Fascist statement. Himmler and the Nazis made almost exactly the same comment to justify their extermination of whole communities, which defied them. Like the Czech village of Lidice, where all males over the age of 13 were hanged. Brooks states he came to it after he was on Israeli television discussing apartheid.

The advert, in Hebrew with English subtitles, shows Ayelet spraying on perfume from a bottle marked ‘Fascism’. At the end of it, after she finishes spraying herself, she says, ‘Smells like democracy to me’.

And after further brief statements about how disturbing the ad is, that’s how this segment of The Michael Brooks Show ends. I don’t think the message behind Shaked’s video could be anymore explicit: she is actively embracing Fascism. Or if not quite that, it’s a piece of Orwellian Doublespeak where words have the opposite meaning, like ‘War is peace’. Perhaps it’s meant as rebuff to her critics, who are denouncing her as a Fascist. She might be trying to claim in a twisted way that she’s a democrat. But it’s still appalling, even if that’s the case, as it seems to suggest that what others call Fascism, she calls democracy. Which just means she’s still embracing and supporting Fascism.

Not that factions within Israeli society haven’t explicitly supported Fascism in the past. Apart from the Israeli state’s Fascistic persecution of the Palestinians, Buddy Hell has pointed out on the Guy Debord’s Cat blog that in the 1920s the early Zionist pioneers had a Fascist party, the Maximalist Legalists, who wanted to create a Fascist corporative state like Mussolini’s Italy. And Fascists and apologists for dictatorship have claimed that their regimes are somehow more democratic than the democracies. Both Hitler and Mussolini used plebiscites to legitimise their regimes, and then claimed that this proved their governments’ democratic superiority. In the 19th and early 20th centuries a series of Latin American writers and philosophers drew on Thomas Carlyle’s On Heroes and Hero-Worship to claim that the continent simply couldn’t be governed through Anglo-Saxon-style democracy, and needed the rule of great men – the caudillos, military dictators – in order to make progress. Two of these have titles which suggest their authors considered that personal dictatorship in Latin America somehow constituted a unique form of democracy suited to the continent. These were Las democracias latinas de America by the Peruvian author Francisco Garcia Calderon and Cesarismo democratico by the Venezuelan sociologist Laureano Vallenilla Lanz.

Brooks says of this video that it hasn’t been discussed much in America. There’s no need to ask why. The establishment in America, Britain and Europe supports Israel as an outpost of western democracy and culture in the Middle East. This support is strongest on the Conservative Right. In the 1970s American Conservatives claimed that Israel should be supported because of its Judaeo-Christian culture, declaring that ‘their values are our values’. A few weeks ago the wretched Katie Hopkins, who has now made herself so personally toxic that she’s been sacked from the Heil, made the same claim. Well, Mussolini also made a similar claim that he was supporting Christianity and specifically Roman Catholicism after he signed the Lateran Accords with the papacy in the late 1920s. the support Fascism received from large sections of the European Christian churches has been a stain on their reputation ever since, and has been one of the major causes of the massive growth in atheism in western Europe in the 20th century. That hasn’t stopped the religious Right in America continuing to support brutal right-wing regimes, like General Pinochet in Chile and the vicious Contras in Nicaragua. Ronald Reagan even notoriously declared that the latter were ‘the moral equivalent of our founding fathers’. Radical critics of America and its history of racism and the systematic repression of left-wing movements would probably agree. Thus the mainstream news organisations aren’t going to show or discuss this advert, because Shaked’s embrace of Fascism would immediately discredit Israel in the eyes of most severely normal people in America, Britain and elsewhere.

The advert is particularly damaging to specific examples of what may be considered anti-Semitic in the I.H.R.A. definition of anti-Semitism. This rules that it is anti-Semitic to compare Jews to Nazis, claim that Israel is a racist endeavour, or compare its persecution of the Palestinians to the Holocaust. Now Shaked in this advert hasn’t actually gone that far. She isn’t spraying herself with a perfume called ‘Nazi’, ‘Third Reich’, or ‘Hitler’. But she isn’t far off. Marxist historians would actually say that she has. Soviet historians did not refer to ‘National Socialism’ when discussing Nazism, in case this suggested that Hitler’s dictatorship was somehow similar to their own system of government. They referred to it instead as ‘Nazi-Fascism’. There are differences between Nazism and Fascism, but to most people the regimes are more or less synonymous. Nazism was a form of Fascism, and Mussolini passed racist and anti-Semitic legislation in imitation of Hitler’s Germany. If this was shown on TV and in discussed everywhere in the press, the Israel lobby could hardly try to silence those calling Israel racist and Fascist for its persecution of the Palestinians, when one of its leading cabinet ministers is shown in a campaign advert created by her own team fully embracing the accusation.

Whatever the Israel lobby now says, no matter how hard they deny it and try to silence those, who speak out about it, Shaked’s advert shows that she has no problem with Fascism, or at least being described as a Fascist. In the meantime Israel is supplying arms to real, extreme right-wing and anti-Semitic regimes like Fidesz in Hungary, the Law and Justice Party in Poland and the blatant Nazis of the Azov battalion in Ukraine. And Jewish bloggers like David Rosenberg have made their fears for these nations’ Jewish minorities very clear.

How overt does Israeli racism have to get before our media notices, or has the moral courage and integrity to report on it. And if Oswald Mosley returned to lead the BUF goose-stepping through the East End, would the Jewish Chronicle and Board of Deputies support him if he bought Israeli guns for his stormtroopers and paid his tributes to those murdered by his Nazi counterparts at Yad Vashem? 

Arbitrary Detention in Fascist Italy and the Conservative-Lib Dem Coalition’s Secret Courts

March 17, 2019

Fascism was, from its very origins in 1919 an aggressive, violent movement that sought to destroy and suppress its opponents. But the creation of the Fascist police state was only really created in November 1926 with the passage of the legge di pubblica sicurezza, or Public Safety Law. This was introduced by the former Nationalist politician Alfredo Rocco, who declared

The function of public security is no longer to be considered as something exceptional, in conflict with the dogma of individual liberty as the foundation and aim of society. It is, on the contrary, to be judged as one of the primary functions of the activity of the state…. It is therefore an activity whose exercise cannot be obstructed by absurd preconceptions.

This allowed the Fascist parties to arrest and send into internal exile and confinement people who were only suspected of subversion without legal representation or redress. And it followed legislation originally passed by the liberal Italian state, which Mussolini and his thugs had overthrown.

I found this description of the law, its effects and its liberal origins in Adrian Lyttelton’s The Seizure of Power: Fascism in Italy 1919-1929 (London: George Weidenfeld and Nicolson Lt: 2nd Edition 1987). pp. 298-9. After the above quotation from Rocco, Lyttelton writes

With this flat repudiation of all doctrines of natural law or individual rights went the abolition of all distinctions between the State as a permanent entity and the Government of the moment. The safety of Fascism and the safety of the State were treated as identical.

In accordance with these premises, all vestiges of the responsibility of the executive for its actions were annulled. The citizen was left without redress; the police were no longer required to produce reasons to justify the imposition of restrictions on liberty. The police authority, for example, enjoyed absolute discretion in granting authorization to form associations or to exercise certain professions: ‘consequently the citizen has no right to obtain authorization, or – having obtained it – to keep it.

The institution of confino made possible the internal exile and confinement to an enforced domicile, for a period of up to five years, of those suspected of the intention of engaging in subversive activity. The procedures governing the operation of the confino were especially arbitrary. the decision to commit suspects to the confino was taken by a provincial committee presided over by the Prefect; the only appeal was to a committee headed by the Under-Secretary of the Ministry of the Interior. The accused could be arrested at once, before their appeal was heard, and they were not allowed either to employ a lawyer or to summon witnesses in their defence. The jurisdiction of the magistracy was entirely excluded. Moreover these unpredictable and arbitrary procedures gave an opportunity for the party to interfere. It was usually the party which denounced suspects, and on occasion local leaders, like Carlo Scorza in Lucca, used the mechanism of confino to deal with their personal enemies. it is true that regular imprisonment could not be inflicted by administrative order, as in some totalitarian regimes. The Special Tribunal set up to judge ‘crimes against the State’, which had the power to inflict the death penalty, preserved legal forms, even if the composition of the court made these a very slight safeguard.

Unfortunately the creation of the Police state in Italy was much assisted by the inadequacy of the guarantees for liberty provided under the parliamentary system. The Fascist regime was able to build upon established institutions and precedents. Confino itself was an inheritance from the Liberal State: though domicilio coatto, as it was then known, was originally intended for use against the Mafia, the camorra and brigandage, governments soon gave way to the temptation to use the weapon against political suspects. However under Giolitti the application of domicilio coatto had been confined to professional criminals. In other respects, too, the procedures of the Liberal state had left much room for arbitrary police action. The sweeping emergency measures of January 1925 were legitimized by the vague and undefined powers given to the Prefects under article 3 of the existing communal and provincial law. The power of fermo, or preventative arrest, had always been much abused, and the attempt of the 1912 penal code to introduce the rule of habeas corpus had not been a success; the police and other officials were in practice almost entirely immune from prosecution for excess or abuse of their powers. Even the sanctions of public opinion and parliamentary discussion, though effective in securing new political liberties after 1900, were usually powerless to check the more humdrum abuse of official authority. Nor can the trouble be traced exclusively to official attitudes, the truth is that to a vast number of the Italian people, especially in the backward rural areas, the informal exercise of power to keep the peace, based on tradition or practical intuition, appeared more comprehensible than the workings of the law, which were slow, cumbersome, and bore little relation to real needs.

This is very much, however, the kind of situation that may arise through the legislation the Tory -Lib Dem coalition signed in, which introduces secret courts. Similar legislation was also introduced, or mooted, by that famous Labour moderate and Centrist politician, Tony Blair. Under this legislation in the interests of national security you may be arrested without know the charges against you, and tried in a court from which the press and public have been excluded. You may not know who the witnesses are, and evidence may be withheld from you and your lawyers. It’s the kind of kangaroo court like the perverted judicial systems of Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia. And very similar to the quasi-judicial proceedings the Labour party has been using to throw out those accused of anti-Semitism. That passage describing the operation of a similar judicial system in Fascist Italy shows the immense dangers in giving such vast, arbitrary power to the police and the State.

We haven’t got to that stage quite yet, but the Fascist system’s precedents in the domicilio coatto of the liberal Italian state and its acceptance by a large section of the Italian public also shows how such repressive measures can be easily introduced to a public, which has been prepared for it by a relatively free state. Just as the introduction of the secret court legislation and the hysteria whipped up by the press about the threat of terrorism could easily prepare the British public for something much closer to the police states of Fascist Italy, Nazi German and Stalinist communism later.

By introducing and supporting secret courts, Blair, the Tories and the Lib Dems have shown that they are enemies of democracy. They have to be thoroughly rejected. If we want a genuinely free and democratic Britain, the only choice is to vote for a socialist Labour government under Jeremy Corbyn. 

Museum Exhibition on Anti-Semitism Pushes Anti-Labour, Pro-Israel Smears

March 14, 2019

Tuesday’s I, for 12th March 2019, featured a review by Etan Smallman of a new exhibition on anti-Semitism at the Jewish Museum in London. This included comments from the Museum’s director, Abigail Morris, and Deborah Lipstadt, the professor of Jewish history at Emory University in America and the author of Anti-Semitism: Here and Now. Lipstadt is best known as the American academic, who exposed David Irving as a holocaust denier and falsifier of history in court in the 1990s. This was portrayed in the 2016 film, Denial, in which she was played by Rachel Weisz.

Most of the exhibition seems uncontroversial, as it looks at the anti-Semitic depictions of Jews as money-grubbing, and the history of medieval anti-Semitism. The exhibition shows board games depicting Jews as grasping, including one which the song-writer Steven Sondheim said taught people to be anti-Semitic. It covers notorious events in English history, such as the York pogrom of 1190, stating that England was the first country to expel Jews. It also covers how the Roman Catholic church only renounced the idea that the Jews killed Christ in 1965, and notes how, in depictions of Judas Iscariot, he is given stereotypically Jewish features while Christ and the other disciples, who were also Jews, were not. It also discusses Fagin in Dickens’ Oliver Twist, and shows Yugoslav Nazi poster depicting Jews as the forces behind both capitalism and communism.

However, the Museum also seems to be promoting the lie that the Labour party under Corbyn is acutely anti-Semitic. It also tries to rule out inquiring about Israeli funding for particular political groups by claiming that this is also anti-Semitic. And it hails liar and internet bully Rachel Riley as some kind of heroine in the fight against anti-Semitism.

The article states

More recently, Labour has been mired in cases of anti-Semitism, culminating in Luciana Berger resigning from the party last month. Six people, including two from the left, have been convicted of race hate against the Jewish MP for Liverpool Wavertree.

Lipstadt describes the situation as “unprecedented”. “We’ve never seen anything as institutionalised in a Western democracy as we’re now seeing in the Labour party.”

A party spokesman said it “takes all complaints of anti-Semitism extremely seriously and we are committed to challenging and campaigning against it in all its forms”.

Before we go any further, let’s critique this little piece. First of all, of those convicted of race hate against Berger, only two were from the left. And what does ‘from the Left’ actually mean? Were they members of the Labour party? The article doesn’t say, so I would think they actually weren’t. And the incidence of anti-Semitism in the Labour party is belied by the stats. Looking at the statistics, only 0.O8 per cent of Labour party members have been suspended or expelled for anti-Semitism. And even there, the stats are unreliable because many of those charges, such as against Jackie Walker, Marc Wadsworth, Tony Greenstein and Mike Sivier, were utterly false. In fact anti-Semitism has actually gone down under Corbyn, and is less than in the rest of British society.

But the article continues

In the vanguard of the online battle against the anti-Semites is the unlikely figure of Countdown’s numbers expert Rachel Riley, who has responded to a wave of abuse by coining the hashtag #BeLouder. 

Yes, this is the same Rachel Riley, who accused a sixteen year old school girl with anxiety problems and her father of being anti-Semites, got her followers to dogpile on to them, and threatens anyone who points out how false and libelous her accusations are with litigation.

The article then continues to quote a spox for the pro-Israel paramilitary vigilante group, the Community Security Trust.

The “dilemma”, however, according to Mark Gardner, of the Community Security Trust, a charity that monitors anti-Semitism, is that increased media coverage of anti-Semitism results in a spike in reports of hate crimes against Jews.

Except that the stats collected by the CST and its companion race hate organisation, the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, can’t be trusted. They exist to spread fear that anti-Semitism is spreading, and so inflate the statistics. To the extent that one of the two organisations declared that anti-Semitism had risen by 1,697 per cent in Wiltshire! Tony Greenstein has published many pieces destroying these organisations’ highly manipulated statistics. As for the CST itself, it’s a vigilante force supposedly formed to protect Jews from assault. It’s trained by former members of Mossad, and is not averse to thuggery itself. Greenstein in one piece described some of the assaults its members had carried out stewarding Zionist rallies. And it’s a long, ugly list, which includes women, the elderly and even non-Zionist rabbis. And, of course, at one such rally they separated Muslims from Jews by force. All this was done while the police stood and watched, but did not intervene. See Greenstein’s article at

http://azvsas.blogspot.com/2019/03/manipulating-antisemitism-statistics.html

The article goes on

Lipstadt is resolute that it needs to be condemned wherever it is found, “not just because of Jews”, but because “anti-Semitism is a classic conspiracy theory. If you have increasing numbers who believe, ‘Aha! The Jews are being paid to do this’, ‘The Jews are doing this all because of Israel’, they’re going to believe conspiracies about everything else.”

This isn’t entirely wrong, as along with the classic anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about the Jews there is a tendency to try to fit other daft conspiracies into the pattern, like reptoid aliens. But it is absolutely not anti-Semitic to point out that Israel is the force behind some actions. Shai Masot, an official at the Israeli embassy, was filmed conspiring to have Alan Duncan removed from the Tory cabinet. And the Israeli government does have a special department, the Ministry for Strategic Affairs, headed by Gilad Elon, to spread smears that Israel’s critics and opponents are anti-Semitic.

The article then goes to say that there is a problem tackling anti-Semitism because Jews are perceived as rich, and because they’re White. It then quotes Gardner as saying that being careful to use the word “Zionist” rather than “Jew” is no defence if you are still indulging in age-old anti-Jewish imagery, nor does being Jewish yourself inoculate you from perpetuating anti-Semitism.

But as we’ve seen, the concept of what counts as an anti-Semitic trope is so wide, that it’s used to silence people, who aren’t actually talking about the Jews as a whole, and who are factually correct. As Mike was when he talked about Masot’s conspiracy at the Israeli embassy. As for Jews also being guilty of anti-Semitism, we’ve seen how that accusation has been used against decent, self-respecting secular and Torah observant Jews like Walker, Greenstein, Martin Odoni and countless others.

And while some genuine anti-Semites hide their Jew-hatred behind rhetoric about Zionism, those criticising Zionism mean exactly that when they talk about it. They aren’t talking about the Jews.

The article concludes with Morris saying that she hopes the exhibition will get non-Jews to understand why Jews are so worried, and will contradict the perception that they’re overreacting. She says

I hope we can explain why it’s so serious – because we know where this kind of thing can lead.

So what is Morris claiming? That Corbyn and his supporters are going to hold torch-light processions and start pogroms, ending in the establishment of new concentration and death camps? They aren’t. Corbyn and his supporters are actually the least racist, and are determined opponents of anti-Semitism. But the Israel lobby fears and despises him and them because he also stands up for the Palestinians. Hence the panic. And as Norman Finkelstein, another Jewish American professor has observed, Israel and its lobby have always responded to their critics by smearing them as anti-Semites.

And this seems to be the real purpose of the exhibition, and to make the smear seem all the more compelling by putting it in the context of genuine anti-Semitism and Jew-hatred. I am very disappointed that the Jewish Museum has done this, and that Professor Lipstadt has been involved in it. I’ve never been in the Museum, but I can remember watching with great interest one of the antiques programmes on TV, which had a brief piece about it. They showed some of the priceless artifacts of Jewish history, including a Bible published in 17th century Italy, and the tokens Orthodox Jews used to pay their donations to the synagogue, as their religion forbids them from handling money on the Sabbath. This exhibition and the involvement of a respected academic like Lipstadt will reinforce the lie that criticism of Israel, and questioning Israel’s involvement in British politics, is anti-Semitic. A large section of the Jewish community strongly disagrees.

But the Museum and Lipstadt clearly represent the Zionist establishment, who are doing everything they can to stoke fear amongst the Jewish community by smearing any and all criticism of Israel, however, reasonable, as anti-Semitism, and then associating those smeared with real Nazis. Morris and Lipstadt should be ashamed they are complicit in this.