Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Are the Tories Demanding Further British Involvement in Ukraine as a Diversion from their Crookedness?

January 24, 2023

That was the allegation made today in a video put up by Our Favourite YouTube ‘Historia’. Johnson was in one of the tabloids today giving Britain the benefit of his experience and talent in foreign affairs. I just saw the headline which was something about how Britain should give more aid to Ukraine as if it falls, Putin will be a threat to Europe. I didn’t read any more. It was in something like the Depress or the Scum or some other terrible rag, which isn’t worth reading. But apparently he had more to say. He wanted Ukraine to be admitted to NATO ASAP. Simon Webb over at History Debunked took this idea apart, showing that far from leading to peace or defeat for the Russians, it would instead probably lead to World War III. If NATO did admit Ukraine, then the next Putin attacked we would be required to counterattack by the terms of the treaty. You can see how this would expand into a direct war between NATO and Russia and the possibility that this would go nuclear very quickly. Putin and his aides have been making threats of a nuclear strike against the NATO countries, as well as threatening to invade Sweden if it joined NATO. One of the news articles that came up for me a little while ago on the news feed on my browser argued that Putin wasn’t bluffing when he made these threats. Elsewhere the group of scientists responsible for the Doomsday Clock showing how far away we are from nuclear Armageddon moved its hands forward to 90 seconds to minute. This places us in unprecedented danger, the group says. So what Johnson has said is so colossally stupid that the former Prime Minister should be nowhere near power. But what do you expect from him? This is the edit, you will remember, who started reciting the Road to Mandalay when on an official visit to Thailand’s holiest Buddhist temple. This is the nutter, who went off a diplomat mission to Moscow to soothe tensions with Putin, only to ramp them up even further at a press interview on his return. And there’s more and worse. There was a story going round last year that Zelensky was about to make a peace deal with Putin, only to persuaded otherwise when Johnson turned up to advise him.

Webb suggests that this suicidal belligerence from Johnson may come from the sorry state of affairs He, Rishi Sunak and Zahawi are in. Zahawi’s facing criticism and calls for an inquiry because he’s been dodging paying tax, Sunak got a loan from a Tory donor, who was then rewarded with a place at the Beeb and Johnson is similarly having his collar felt for breaches of ministerial conduct. Webb states that Johnson couldn’t have made these comments without approval from Sunak, and so this sabre-rattling is just to get us to look away from their personal corruption. I can see there being more than something behind this. One of the ways governments try to divert attention from domestic failures is to start a foreign policy conflict.

But there are other aspects to the Ukraine conflict which make it very clear that all is not as it appears. After the fall of communism, the west signed a deal with Gorbachev that NATO would not expand into the former eastern bloc and threaten Russia’s borders. But this is what NATO has done with the accession of Poland and other states. The Maidan Revolution which overthrew the pro-Russian Ukrainian president in favour of one who was pro-western, wasn’t a spontaneously democratic display of popular anger. It was carefully orchestrated by Victoria Nuland and Hillary Clinton, the American secretary of state, and the National Endowment for Democracy, the organisation that has taken over the CIA’s role in engineering regime change.

But there are dangers for rightists and ethnonationalists in following this line of inquiry. Before you know it, you could end up like the late American Nazi leader, Francis Parker Yockey. Yockey was a White supremacist almost straight out of the skits of the Blues Brothers and The Producers. He used to appear on Public Access Television in New York in the 1970s, seated wearing a blue uniform and motorcycle helmet and flanked by two of his storm troopers ranting his fascist nonsense. Not surprisingly, he was eventually kicked off air following complaints from Jewish viewers. Surprisingly for a raving Nazi, Yockey was a fan of the Soviet Union. He felt it was the great hope for the White race because it was still a dictatorship after the western nations had embraced corrupt democracy. There was a similar tendency over here in Nick Griffin’s BNP. There was a section of its membership and supporters that admired Colonel Gadaffy’s Libya.

Webb has posted videos suggesting that Britain needs a dictator for White Britain to survive and that we should be giving medals to particularly prolific women like the Nazis did. But the Soviet Union also gave out ‘Heroic Mother’ medals and there was a similar scheme by Mussolini as part of his ‘Battle for Births’. Putin is also a dictator, who is also keen on promoting national pride among his people, and he has succeeded in raising the Russian birth rate, which had been declining below replacement levels.

Putin’s a thug and a monster, but if you want to see where such ideas about nationalist dictators lead, they lead to people like him. If not worse.

Reform Party Promising to Protect British Freedoms against the Government, the EU and Unelected Organisations

January 20, 2023

Okay, I just found a brief video on YouTube, posted eight days ago, on Nick Buckley’s channel. Buckley’s a former police officer and campaigner against knife crime, who’s appeared a couple of times on the Lotus Eater’s channel. I wasn’t surprised then, when he posted this video interviewing Richard Tice about Reform’s ‘Eight Principles’. In the video, however, he only talks about four of them. These are largely about protecting British democratic rights against the threat of the state and unelected organisations and quangos. According to Tice, Brits are aware that they’re born free and have inalienable rights unlike in the EU. Thus, Brits are able to whatever they like unless prohibited, while in the EU they can only do whatever the EU tells them to.

The irony about this is that the idea that humans are born free comes from a continental philosopher, Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Rousseau has been condemned as one of the founders of totalitarianism. One Conservative American group made Rousseau’s The Social Contract one of the most evil books of all time alongside Marx and Engels’ The Communist Manifesto. The philosopher Isaiah Berlin included him among his Six Enemies of Freedom and the Lotus Eaters have also put out videos attacking him. But Rousseau’s book begins with the words, ‘Man was born free yet everywhere he is chains.’ The idea that you should be free to do whatever you want unless the law says otherwise, I think comes from John Locke a century before, and is the foundation of modern liberal ideas of freedom. However, other European philosophers also had views similar to Locke’s, that the state should be limited to the role of a night watchman, in the sense say that it should protect its citizens’ lives and property, but otherwise not interfere. This is the view expressed by the German philosopher Wilhelm von Humboldt in his Grenzen Der Wirksamkeit der Staat – ‘Limits of the Effectiveness of the State’. I don’t know what the underlying philosophy of government of the European Union is. I suspect there isn’t one beyond harmonising various trade and other regulations between member states and allowing for the movement of labour and capital. The original intention was to create a united trading bloc to preserve western European economic independence from America or communist eastern Europe. The Eurosceptic right has frequently ranted about the EU being some kind of totalitarian state with comparisons to Nazi Germany and communism, but I’ve seen no evidence to support it. And rather than limiting freedom, I think the EU believes it is actively creating and nurturing freedom in its member states. Such as when it condemns Poland and Hungary for their legislation banning homosexuality and gay rights.

Now let’s go through the principles as explained by Tice and Buckley in the video.

  1. The state is our servant not our master.

I don’t believe any believer in liberal democracy, whether of the left or right, would challenge this. The only people who would are either Fascists, following Mussolini’s pronouncements that the individual is nothing before the state, followers of Hegel’s dictum that ‘the state is the divine idea as it exists on Earth. We must therefore worship the state’ and supporters of Soviet Communism before Gorby’s brief reforms. However, in the context of Reform, a party of the right, it seems to me that this is yet another bland statement intended to justify further privatisation and the expansion of the power of private industry and the destruction of the welfare state against working people, the poor, the unemployed and disabled.

2. Lend us your power and we’ll give you back your freedom.

This could be said by just about any political party, even those which were real enemies of freedom. Hitler, in one of his rants at Nuremberg, declared ‘Everything I am, I am through you. Everything you are, you are through me’. The Nazi party anthem, the Horst Wessel song, also has lines about German freedom. Hitler also talked about preserving freedom through separating the different spheres of party and state and preserving private industry, though in practice under the Nazi regime the party and state apparatus were intermeshed and private industry ruthlessly subordinated to the state. Mussolini also made speeches about how the freedom of the individual wasn’t limited under fascism, except in certain ways, all of which was equally rubbish.

3. People are free.

This means, as he explains, that people naturally hold certain rights and liberties that should always be protected and defended. These include freedom of speech, religion and conscience. This does not mean that certain types of speech have no consequences. I interpret this as meaning that he feels that people can say what they want, but people are also free to express outrage and take action against others for offensive or dangerous speech that is not otherwise banned by law. Tice goes on to say that in practice, while people believe in this principle, they negotiate to give up a certain amount of this freedom with the state.

I think here he means particularly the legislation on hate speech, which in his view prevents proper criticism of certain protected groups in order to combat racism, homophobia, transphobia, misogyny and so on. He has a point, as opponents of gay rights, who have made their opposition very clear in speeches, often quoting the Biblical prohibition against it, have been arrested. In Scotland Maria Miller, a gender critical woman, was arrested for hate speech simply for putting up stickers with the slogan ‘Scots Women Won’t Wheesht’, meaning that they wouldn’t be silent, in her campaign against the proposed gender recognition legislation north of the border. In my opinion, arresting someone for saying that goes beyond a concern about stirring up hatred against trans people into active attempts to police thoughts and opinions about trans rights.

But there are good reasons behind the legislation banning hate speech. In the case of racism, it’s to prevent Nazi groups stirring up hatred against vulnerable minorities like the Jews, people of colour and gays, all of whom have been or are targets of abuse and physical assault.

4. National Sovereignty

This means protecting British traditions, institutions and culture from enemies both external and internal. The external foes include the EU. The internal threats to British tradition and democracy are unelected pressure groups and organisations. These include big tech and companies like Google, Twitter and Facebook. This is a fair point. These organisations can and do censor material posted on their platforms. The right have been complaining about their posts disappearing or the algorithms governing their availability in searches being altered so that they become invisible, but the same censorship is also inflicted on the left. If Tice and his crew get the chance, I’ve no doubt they’ll demand greater freedom of speech for their supporters while maintaining or even strengthening the censorship against their opponents on the left.

Other threats, unsurprisingly, are the European Union, while among the unelected organisations wielding power he puts the environmental groups Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth and the gay rights organisation Stonewall. Tice states that a few years ago Greenpeace published their manifesto for Yorkshire, which was a diatribe against the car, and therefore, in his view, an attack on the automobile industry in west Yorkshire. One of the accusations the extreme right is throwing at environmental groups is that they wish to ban cars and private transport as part of their plan to establish Green Communism. He also includes Stonewall and the massive influence it wields, although no-one has elected it. There is a problem with Stonewall in that the advice it has been giving to companies, the government and the civil service has been wrong. They deliberately gave a wrongful interpretation of the legislation covering trans issues which was very much what they wanted it to say, not what the law actually did. As a result, a number of groups cut their connections to the organisation.

But unelected groups like Greenpeace, Stonewall and so on acquire their power through possessing, or being perceived to express, expertise and competence in particular issues. In the case of Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, it’s the environment. Amnesty International is respected because of its thorough investigation and documentation of human rights abuses, even though governments may pay no attention to its findings. Stonewall is taken notice of because it speaks, or claims to speak, for Britain’s gays and articulates their concerns and recommendations to combat prejudice.

Even in the 19th century governments had to pay attention to popular protest organisations, such as the massive abolitionist campaign against slavery, the Anti-Corn Law League set up by Cobden and Bright to have the corn laws repealed so that the price of grain would fall and working people able to feed themselves. There was also the anti-war protests against the Crimean War led by John Bright and others. There are problems with unelected groups exercising power beyond their competence or suitability, but modern governments have always had to deal with organised groups. Tice’s singling out of the environmental groups and Stonewall seems to me to be as much to do with a hatred of their views – the Brexiteers are full-scale behind the right of private industry to trash this country’s green and pleasant land – than with their supposed power outside of the formal sphere of elections. I doubt that Reform would ever go as far if they were in power, but it reminds me more than a little bit of Mussolini’s statement that there should be ‘nothing outside the state, nothing against the state’, and similar bans on private quasi-political organisations in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.

But what you’ll also notice is that these principles tell you absolutely nothing about how Reform as a party intends to act on them, except by reading the lines. What does Reform intend to do about the health service? Not said. I suspect, in fact, that as a party of the right they’ll want to privatise even more of it. What about the welfare state and the scandal of millions of people using food banks? No answers there, either. I suspect, however, that in practice you’d get more mantras of encouraging people to be independent, find work and so on, coupled with rants about welfare scroungers. What about industry? Again, the reality is almost certainly that they want more deregulation. Well, we’ve had four decades of Thatcherite privatisation and deregulation, and the result is the mass poverty and failing economy we’re now experiencing. Industry should be acting for the good of society and its employees and not just shareholders and senior management. This means limiting economic freedom, but as the Liberal journalist J.A. Hobson said, in order for the mass of people to be free you need to limit the freedom of the rich. Which is obviously toxic to the Conservatives and other parties of the right.

To sum up, what Reform seems to be doing with these principles is to try to position themselves as defenders of traditional British liberties against the threat of the evil EU and pesky Green and gay groups. But this hides an illiberal ideology that views such groups as somehow subversive, would probably remove the obstacles against real, dangerous expressions of racial and other prejudice, and which would promote the interests of private industry against ordinary Brits.

We can’t afford to be taken in by sweet words hiding their true intentions.

Correct, Not Political Pushing the Anti-Semitic Conspiracy Theory of the Kalergi Plan and the Great Replacement

January 13, 2023

More overt fascism from the channel that has begun its livestreams with footage of Oswald Mosley and his stormtroopers goose-stepping about. This afternoon they put up a meme supposedly showing that present mass migration to the west is all due to the Kalergi plan as part of a UN-backed ‘Great Replacement’, financed by the Rothschilds, the Baruchs and the Warburgs. In other words, it’s just a new wrinkle on the old conspiracy theory about the UN one-world dictatorship plotted by Jewish bankers. Lobster put up a review of a book on Richard Von Kalergi a few years ago, and I put up a post about it. Kalergi did believe that countries should include different ethnic groups, but for quite different reasons from those attributed to him by the paranoids. He was writing after the First World War, and believed that countries would be less likely to go to war on each other if their opponents contained members of their people. It’s about preserving peace in Europe, not replacing its people. As for his connection to the EU, I think he was just one of a number of political thinkers at about that time who were trying to create a pan-European state in order to protect international peace, and I don’t think he had much success or influence on the EU architects. If you want to find the ultimate roots of the EU, it’s possible that it’s derived from Kant’s On Perpetual Peace, in which he argued that the world should be organised into a federation of states. This was back in the 18th century, long before mass migration from outside Europe.

The meme also states that the UN calls this migration ‘the Great Replacement’. I’m sceptical about this, as I understood the term was invented in 2012 by a far-right Frenchman. In any case, ‘the Great Replacement’ is just another version of the old Fascist myth that the Jews are encouraging Black and Asian immigration to destroy the White race. I’m quite prepared to believe that the UN has declared criticism of its migration laws hate speech out of concern for the refugees subject to racist attacks.

As well as this fascist nonsense, their lead man also says in the comments that he hates David Bowie and Mick Jagger because they were Satanists. I don’t know about Jagger, but there was a vogue for the occult among some rockers at one time, including Bowie. There’s supposed to be a lot of occult material in his last album, Black Star. But I’m not sure if you could call him a Satanist. The late 19th-early 20th century occult society, the Golden Dawn, was mostly composed of High Church Anglicans, who were very definitely not Satanists, with the exception of the vehemently anti-Christian Alistair Crowley.

That Preston Journalist Accuses Starmer of Being a Tory: He’s Right!

January 10, 2023

The very right wing That Preston Journalist has taken time off from sniping and criticising Nicola Sturgeon, and instead fixed his sights on Keir Starmer. Earlier this evening he posted a video stating very clearly that Starmer was a Tory. The thumbnail for this is a meme which shows a rubber plant on one side, and a Tory plant, Starmer, on the other. It’s very short, just 1 minute 44 seconds. The Journalist’s reason for calling Starmer a Tory was the Labour leader’s statement that the NHS needed reform. Although met with a chorus of criticism, Preston Man believes this is glaringly obvious. I agree. It is obvious, and the real solution would be to renationalise it and clear out the private medical companies and advisors who are a waste of money. But unfortunately I suspect this is not Starmer’s view, and that he really wants to follow his wretched, squalid hero Tony Blair and push the health service’s privatisation even further. But Preston Hack also believes that Starmer’s a Tory because of what he said about being fiscally prudent. Starmer stated that he was against austerity, had always been against austerity, but in government they would be careful about expenditure. They would be prudent. This, you will remember, was Gordon Brown’s mantra when he was chancellor: ‘We will be prudent’. He said this so often that according to Private Eye the assembled gentlemen and women of the press started calling him Dear Prudence after the Beatles song. Personally, I preferred ‘Help’ and ‘Helter Skelter’. As a Chancellor, who kept tight control of expenditure in order to avoid the boom and bust cycle, Brown was successful. That is until the bankers went berserk and almost destroyed capitalism. Brown prevented it by injecting our own reserves, for which he’s been blamed for wrecking our economy. But I really believe there would have been global financial collapse if he hadn’t.

And it remains the case that the bankers’ disastrous antics were exploited by the Tories, keen to push through austerity and punish ordinary people in the name of further enriching the superrich. But we were all in it together, as Cameron lied.

The trouble is, Blair and Brown were both neoliberal pushing through Tory policies of privatisation and welfare cuts. Moreover, by the time Brown got his feet into No. 10, New Labour had outlived any popularity with the British public. They were fed up with its managerialism, the spin, the condescension towards working class voters, Blair’s warmongering, the cuts to welfare services and hospital closures. I think Brown also put people off with his surly demeanour, although how much of that was real and how much an false image manufactured by the right-wing press is open to debate. He did not himself no favours by referring to an elderly lady, objecting to eastern European immigrants, as ‘some bigot’ when he thought the camera and microphone were off. But I think this may have been the last nail in his electoral coffin.

But back to Starmer, it really does look to me that once he’s in power, it’s going to be Blairite Tory politics as normal. Some of the great commenters here have suggested that the best policy would be to get him into power then bash him. At the moment, I think that is the best policy, considering that there are no alternatives and another round of Tory government would destroy this country. But I am not optimistic about Starmer’s government.

Book on Pioneering Victorian Explorer of Abyssinia, Sudan and Egypt Manfield Parkyns

January 6, 2023

Duncan Cumming, The Gentleman Savage: The Life of Mansfield Parkyns 1823-1894 (London: Century Hutchinson 1987).

I’ve been meaning to put up something about this book for a little while now, as I thought it might be of interest to any readers with an interest in Victorian travellers and explorers and their accounts of east Africa. I bought it from one of the remaindered bookshops decades ago now, and can’t remember much about it except that Parkyns was a member of the British gentry, who left Britain to explore the Middle East. He travelled from Egypt down to Ethiopia, where he learned the indigenous people’s languages and adopted their dress and culture, becoming a warrior in the Ethiopian army. He married a local woman and had a son by her, Johannes, before returning to England. Later on the son travelled to Europe in search of his father.

The blurb for the book runs

‘Mansfield Parkyns came from a landed gentry background in the East Midlands. As a young man he was sent down from Cambridge and decided to leave England for the excitement of travel in Egypt and Abyssinia, where he intended to discover the source of the White Nile.

His especially gift as a traveller was his ability to immerse himself in local life, which left him to abandon his western clothes and outlook, and to make, as Lady Palmerston put it, ‘the most successful attempt by a man to reduce himself to the savage state on record.’ Unlike many other Victorians he did not believe in the innate superiority of the white man and he therefore took a refreshing view of his surroundings which led to many fascinating observations. He became part of a village community, married a local girl and took part in raids on other villages. He travelled by a route no European had previously taken to Khartoum and then tried to cross Africa to the Atlantic, but was thwarted by civil war.’

Parkyns’ Ethiopian son, Johannes.

His respect for Ethiopian culture did not mean that he was entirely uncritical. He was shocked by what he saw as the abysmal state of the Ethiopian Coptic church, which I think he felt ought to be destroyed and replaced with something better. As for his adoption of Ethiopian dress and culture, this resulted in people singing ‘The King of the Cannibal Islands’ in mockery of him, which shows the racism in Victorian society. And I would have liked to know much more about his son’s journey to Britain to meet him, and what he thought of us.

Leaked Report Reveals Prevent Funding Used for Islamist Groups, and More Focussed on Tackling White Fascism

January 2, 2023

This obviously isn’t something you want to hear, but it needs to be recognised and the problem tackled properly. A few days ago the Shawcross Report into the operation of the Prevent programme was leaked to the press. The Prevent programme was the scheme launched by Blair as part of the ‘War on Terror’. It was set up to identify and deradicalize people, like schoolchildren, who were being drawn into Islamist terrorism. The report has been repeatedly delayed from fears that some of the individuals discussed in it would sue. It found that instead of the money being used to deradicalize people, it was instead being used by Islamist groups to fund their activities and propaganda. This included one group, who called on Muslim soldiers in the British army to disobey orders. Which is mutiny. Furthermore, the programme was more focussed on identifying and punishing White nationalists in contrast to the other anti-terrorism organisations. Of course, the report was immediately denounced as ‘harmful to community cohesion’ and racist and islamophobic.

Unfortunately, I am not remotely surprised. Private Eye a long time ago quoted a passage from Ed Hussein’s book, The Islamist, in which he described watching a long line of Muslim clergy and community leaders entering No. 10 to reassure Blair that they were all moderates and were doing their bit to tackle extremism in their communities. And he knew that every one of them was lying, and that they were all Islamist radicals. A friend of mine used to help teach Islam at university. One year his university arranged to host an interfaith conference between Christians and Muslims. He told me that the Muslim delegates were all jihadis. As for the misplaced focus on White fascism, I think this is a result of repeated criticisms from the Muslim community. Before the BNP finally collapsed, whenever the subject of tackling Muslim radical organisations was raised someone from one of the main Muslim organisations would indignantly retort that this was racist and islamophobic, and that they should ban the BNP instead. The Prevent programme has come under repeated attack from Muslims for supposedly being racist and Islamophobic. And whenever Muslim bigotry is exposed, as in the 2007 Channel 4 programme, Undercover Mosque, there are inevitably the same defensive claims about harming community cohesion. This is despite the fact that community cohesion was harmed the moment someone took the decision to invite the preachers of hate in. Simon Webb, who has very far right opinions himself, stated in one of his videos that the focus on tackling White extremists rather than Muslim was an attempt to mislead the public into believing that there were more of them and they were a bigger problem than the Islamists. Even allowing for Webb’s own views, I think he has a point. White fascists have used violence and terrorism. In the 1960s they bombed a couple of synagogues in London. Many of us still remember the mass violence between far right football hooligans and Black and Asian youths in the 70s and 80s, and the racist murder of Black kids has inspired pop songs attacking the hate and violence like ‘Down in the Subway’. In the 90s there was a bombing campaign by a member of the National Socialist party against Blacks, gays and Asians, in which nail bombs were planted in three pubs. People are very aware of the threat from White racial terrorists. Targeting these groups is also easier because it will have greater support from the left from the kind of people, who would suspect that a programme targeting Black or Asian terrorists is persecuting them unfairly. The police and local authorities, who refused to tackle the Pakistani grooming gangs in Rotherham and elsewhere did so because they didn’t want to start riots. I think the same attitude is behind the skewed focus in the Prevent programme. I think there is a reluctance amongst the political class to tackle ethnic minority criminality and extremism because of memories of the race riots of the 60s, 1981/2, and Oldham more recently, and a determination to prove Enoch Powell wrong in his lurid predictions of racial violence in the ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech.

Islamism is a real danger, but the proportion of people who hold Islamist views are trivially small. Only about five per cent of the Muslim population, according to the polls, want to be governed by shariah law. There are far greater numbers who support British democracy and values, albeit often moderated. This is why the Lotus Eaters, in order to show that the Muslim community rejects British traditional values, concentrated on single issues like Muslim disapproval of homosexuality and singing the national anthem. There is genuine opposition to Islamism and the preachers of hate from other parts of the Muslim community here in Britain. Back in the ’80s and ’90s Muslims organised their own demonstrations against the protests and hateful preaching of the extremists demanding the death of Salman Rushdie. Ed Hussein in his recent book states that his fathers’ generation came to Britain because they believed in our country and its values. I’ve heard other Muslims say that their parents came here to enjoy the freedom and opportunities they were denied in their own country. Mahyar Tousi, a true-blue Tory Brexiteer, said something similar in a recent video of his on the channel migrants. He stated that second and third generation British Blacks and Asians were against further immigration, not because they were traitors to their own kind, but because their parents and grandparents had come to this country to share and support its values and were concerned that later migrants did not share these. Tousi’s a libertarian Tory, who’d sell off the health service if he could, but he does have a point. Some of the Muslims in Hussein’s recent book stated that much of the violence and criminality their communities now suffered from came from recent migrants, like asylum seekers from war-torn parts of the world, who could not adapt to peace nor fully accept that they were not under threat from the state. One of the issues connected with immigration identified by one genuinely moderate imam, writing in the Financial Times in the ’90s, was that the shortage of home-grown Muslim clergy meant that bigoted preachers from Pakistan were being allowed in to rectify this shortage.

We really need to tackle the problem of Muslim radicalisation properly and squarely, without listening to reassuring blandishments and assurances of peace and cooperation from those who don’t believe remotely in it. And we can do so by strengthening and listening to genuinely moderate, liberal Muslims voices and supporting their protests and initiatives against such hate.

1970s Dr Who Goes Disco

December 31, 2022

This comes from J.B. Anderton’s channel on YouTube. Yesterday I posted another of his videos in which he presented a disco version of the theme and titles for Star Trek: The Next Generation. He does the same to Tom Baker era Dr Who in this little video. He uses the titles for episode 2 of the story, ‘The Horns of Nimon’, but the video itself consists of clips from nearly right across the Baker era. ‘The Horns of Nimon’ is a suitably seasonal story. It’s a Science Fictional retelling of the ancient Greek myth of the minotaur and is about the Doctor and Romana investigating why a planet’s children are being sent into a labyrinth, where they are preyed upon by aliens with the heads of bulls. It was intended to be a Christmas pantomime before that season ended with the serious story, ‘Shada’. ‘Shada’, scripted by Douglas Adams of Hitchhiker fame, never got made thanks to a strike. The series ended with ‘The Horns of Nimon’, which was widely regarded as the worst Dr Who episode until overtaken by such classics as ‘The Twin Dilemma’, the opening story of Colin Baker’s Dr Who, and which I regard as one of the contributing factors to his Doctor’s unpopularity – unfair in my opinion – and his eventual sacking. I’ve got ‘The Horns of Nimon’ on DVD, and watching it again, I don’t think it’s at all bad. It’s not great, but it’s not terrible, as everyone thought. Perhaps we were just spoiled for great Dr Who stories in those days, and it only seemed bad in comparison. ‘Shada’ has been extensively written about and I think there are DVDs reconstructing the story with the available footage, some of which was used in ‘The Five Doctors’ to explain why Baker’s Doctor wasn’t in it. I think the script may also have been published and possibly Big Finish, which specialises in new Who stories featuring classic Doctors, may have performed it on CD. Anyway, here’s the video for you to enjoy. I suppose I should also run a quiz for Whovians asking them to identify the individual episodes and stories from which the clips are taken.

A Happy Star Trek Christmas

December 31, 2022

Okay, it’s New Year’s Eve and the Christmas season is nearly at an end. I thought I’d post this jolly Christmas video up before it’s all over and those who still have jobs go back to work. It was posted by ‘Why, Mr Spock’ on his YouTube channel, and shows various festival scenes from the original Star Trek series while Paul McCartney sings ‘Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time’. I suppose I could also run a quiz for Trekkers asking them to identity the individual episodes from which these clips are taken. Enjoy!

BBC Criticised for Anti-White Bias: The Case of Romesh Ranganathan and Sierra Leone

December 30, 2022

A day or so ago a group of right-wing historians calling themselves History Reclaimed released a report accusing the Beeb of anti-White bias. They gave a list of 20 instances in which the BBC distorted history for apparently political and racial reasons. One example was of a programme that claimed that Robert Peel had a callous disregard for the victims of the Irish potato famine. The truth, they claimed, was that Peel risked his career pushing through legislation abolishing the Corn Laws, so that Irish, and poor British people, could buy cheap foreign grain. The name History Reclaimed to my ears suggests some kind of link with Laurence Fox’s Reclaim party. The group includes the historians Andrew Roberts and Jeremy Black. While I strongly disagree with their Tory views, these are respectable, academic, mainstream historians. Roberts talked rubbish in a video posted on YouTube by PragerU, an American right-wing thinktank, which tries to present itself as some kind of university. He claimed that the British was A Good Thing because it gave the world free trade and property rights. Well, property rights exist in Islam, and I’ve no reason to doubt that they also existed in China and India, so that’s a very dubious claim. As for free trade, well, the privatisation the IMF has forced on some of the African countries that came to it for aid has generally left them worse off, sometimes catastrophically so, as when one of the southern African countries deregulated its sugar industry. But whatever I think of Roberts’ political views, he is in other ways an excellent historian. The same with Jeremy Black, whose Slavery: A New Global History I thoroughly recommend. Black has also published a history of the British Empire that does acknowledge the atrocities and human rights abuses that occurred. We are not, therefore, dealing with people who want to erase history themselves.

Regarding Robert Peel, I’ve no doubt they’re right. Peel was a great reforming Prime Minister. He founded the metropolitan police, hence their nickname of ‘bobbies’ and ‘peelers’. He also reduced the number of capital crimes from well over hundred to three. These included murder and treason. It’s because of him that you can no longer be hanged for impersonating a Chelsea pensioner. There were British officials, who felt that the Irish had brought it on themselves and should be left to starve. The head of the civil service, Trevelyan, is notorious for these views. But I don’t believe that Peel was one of them.

But it’s not Peel, who I shall discuss here, but Sierra Leone. Another example they gave was of Romesh Ranganthan’s presentation of the history of slavery in Sierra Leone in one edition of his The Misadventures of Romesh Ranganathan. In the programme, Ranganathan went to a slave fort on Bunce Island and talked to local people about the country’s history. By their account, this was very one-sided. The slavers were presented as all being White British. In fact, as History Reclaimed states, the African peoples in the area were also slavers. In 1736 or so one of the local chiefs attacked Bunce Island because it was taking trade away from him. And although the programme mentioned raiders, it did not state that the slaves were supplied by Black Africans, and so gave the impression that the trade’s victims were enslaved by White British.

It also neglected to mention that Sierra Leone was founded as a state for free Blacks, and that there is an arch commemorating the emancipation of Black slaves in Freetown which the UN has stated is comparable to the Statue of Liberty in espousing and celebration freedom, democracy and human rights. I have no doubt that this is also correct.

Slavery existed in Africa for millennia before the emergence of the transatlantic slave trade. While Europeans had and occasionally did raid for slaves, they were prevented from penetrating inland through a mixture of the disease-ridden climate and power African kingdoms. Europeans were confined to their own quarters of indigenous towns, like the ghettos into which Jews were forced in the Middle Ages. The slave trade was extremely lucrative, and the slaves were indeed sold to them by Africans, some of the most notorious being Dahomey, Ashanti, Badagry and Whyday. After the ban on the slave trade in 1807, one African nation attacked a British trading post in the 1820s to force us to take it up again. I found this in a copy of the very well respected British history magazine, History Today.

In the late 18th century – I’ve forgotten precisely when – the colony was taken over by one of the abolitionist groups. It was intended to be a new state for free Blacks. Three shiploads of emigrants, who also included some Whites, set sail. The idealists, who planned the colony also changed the laws regulating land tenure. I’ve forgotten the system of land tenure they altered, but from what I remember they believed it had been introduced by the Normans and was part of the framework of feudalism. I think it was also intended to be governed democratically. The new colony immediately fell into difficulties, and the colonists were reinforced with the arrival of Caribbean Maroons and Black Loyalists from America. The latter had been granted their freedom in exchange for fighting for us during the American Revolution. After independence, they were moved to Halifax in Nova Scotia, Canada. Unfortunately, they were prevented from settling down through a mixture of the harsh northern climate and racism. The colony still experienced considerable trouble, and was saved by being taken over by the British government. After Britain outlawed the slave trade, it became the base for the British West India Squadron, which was tasked with patrolling the seas off Africa intercepting slavers. It was also the site of one of the courts of mixed commission, in which suspected slavers were tried by judges from Britain and the accused slavers’ nation. The British navy were assisted in their attacks on slavers by indigenous African tribes, such as the Egba, and their help was appreciated. The admiralty stated that soldiers and sailors from these people should receive the same compensation for wounds suffered battling slavers as British troops, not least because it would reaffirm British good faith and encourage more Africans to join the struggle.

Slaving by the surrounding tribes and even by some of the liberated Africans in the colony itself remained a problem. As a result, British officers from the colony made anti-slavery treaties with the chiefs of the neighbouring Sherbro country, and reported on and took action against the Black colonists stealing young boys to sell to the slave states further south. Freetown became a major centre of education and western civilisation in Africa. Many of the anthropologists, who first described African languages and societies, were Sierra Leonean Blacks. The father of the 19th century Black British composer, Samuel Coleridge Taylor, was a Black citizen of Sierra Leone.

None of this is at all obscure or controversial. African slavers and their complicity in the trade are mentioned in Hugh Thomas’ brilliant book, The Slave Trade, as well as various general histories of Africa. There is even a book specifically on the history of Sierra Leone and the West India Squadron, Sweet Water and Bitter: The Ships That Stopped The Slave Trade by Sian Rees (London: Chatto & Windus 2009). One of the Scottish universities over two decades ago published a book collecting the Black colonists’ letters. I’m afraid I can’t remember the title, but we had a copy at the Empire and Commonwealth Museum. Now a programme could well be made about the Black colonists and their struggles from their own words. One of the problems with history is that the lower strata of society generally remain silent, unless described or remarked upon by the upper classes. This is particularly true when it comes to slaves or former slaves. But somehow mentioning that it was settled by former slaves was considered unimportant or even embarrassing or controversial by the show’s producers.

Simon Webb of History Debunked has noted the various instances where the account of the slave trade has been selectively retold and omits any mention of Black African complicity. As far right as Webb is, I believe he has a point. But this attitude is not only anti-White, it also does Blacks an injustice by assuming that they are emotionally unable to handle this aspect of the slave trade. One Black historian with whom I worked at the Museum stated quite clearly that in the Caribbean they were told by their mammies that it was the Africans who sold their ancestors into slavery. And no, he didn’t hate Africans either. Channel 4 even presented a show about African involvement in the slave trade twenty or so years ago. This is the channel that the Tories hated for being too left-wing and having Michael Grade, ‘Britain’s pornographer in chief’ as they called him, as its controller. I am not blaming Ranganathan himself for the bias. The right hate him because he is very outspoken in his anti-Brexit views. But I doubt he knew much about Sierra Leon and its history. The fault lies with the producer and director, if not further up BBC management who may have laid down rules regarding the presentation of slavery and the British empire generally.

Black complicity in the slave trade doesn’t excuse White European involvement, but it does need to be taught so that people get a balanced view of the historical reality. And I wonder why the Beeb didn’t.

A Disco Version of Star Trek: TNG’s Opening Credits

December 30, 2022

This is for all the fans of Star Trek: The Next Generation, who enjoy a good laugh as well. It was posted on YouTube by JB Anderton, and it’s very well done. It reminds me of the style of the theme music for the 80s TV version of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century – orchestral, but with disco elements. Although here it’s more disco with orchestral elements. But despite it being very good, there’s still part of me that can hear Arnold Rimmer say, ‘What? You mean you don’t like ‘Wagner Goes Funk’?’