Archive for the ‘Russia’ Category

Lobster Reviews Book on Six British Fascists

January 14, 2022

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

Arnold Leese

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

Oswald Mosley

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

A.K. Chesterton

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

Colin Jordan

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

John Tyndall

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

Nick Griffin

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

British Fascism’s Influence on Front National

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

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

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

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

History Debunked on the Popularity of Conspiracy Theories in the Black Community

January 3, 2022

I’ve an interest in conspiracy theories. It partly comes from studying the rise of Fascism as part of the history course at college and having friends, who were huge fans of the Illuminatus! books. They’re a series of science fiction books about various secret societies competing to bring about the end of the world, or take it over, written by Robert Anton Wilson and Michael Shea. Conspiracy theories can be an extremely powerful political force. The Nazis gained power and popularity because of the ‘stab in the back’ myth that the Jews had secretly conspired to cause Germany’s defeat in the First World War from within. The infamous Tsarist forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, is a classic example of this kind of poisonous conspiracy theory. Written by the monk Nilus for the Tsar’s secret police, it was intended to persuade Nicholas II to increase the persecution of the Jews even further. It claimed to prove that the Jews were secretly controlling both socialism and capitalism in order to enslave gentiles, and has been a major force in the rise of Fascism and anti-Semitic movements throughout the world. Some of its readers have continued to believe it even after it was shown to be a forgery, claiming that it is ‘symbolically true’. Although thoroughly discredited in the West, it remains popular in other parts of the world. I’ve read that it can be freely bought from kiosks in Russia, while in the 90s it was serialised on Egyptian television. I was therefore particularly interested in this video from Simon Webb’s ‘History Debunked’ channel.

In it Webb discusses the influence of conspiracy theories about the Coronavirus and fake history among the Black community. An American study had found that Black Americans were far more inclined to believe conspiracy theories. He had been visiting a Black female friend, who told him she wasn’t going to take the Coronavirus vaccine because of the grossly unethical Tuskeegee Experiment that ran from the 1930s to only a few decades ago. A group of Black sharecroppers had been deliberately infected with syphilis, which was left to go untreated until it culminated in their deaths. The intention was to study the progress of the disease, and in return the victims had their funerals paid for. Webb’s friend was afraid the Covid vaccine was a similar experiment. Back in the ’90s, a similar conspiracy theory arose about the origins of AIDS. This was supposed to have been developed by the US military as a germ warfare experiment at Fort Detrick. In fact the story was a fabrication by the KGB in retaliation for the Americans claiming that the Soviet Union had been responsible for the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II by a far-right Turkish nationalist. One American doctor, writing in the US conspiracy magazine Steamshovel Press, stated that in his experience many Black Americans in particular believed that AIDS was an engineered bio-weapon because of the Tuskeegee Experiment. There is a problem with Blacks and some Asians refusing to accept the Covid vaccine because of similar fears.

Of course, these bizarre and malign beliefs aren’t confined solely to Blacks and Asians. There are also Whites who refuse to have the vaccine because they also believe it is some kind of malicious experiment. One such theory claims that Bill Gates and Microsoft are putting computer chips in it to control people, or wreck their health, or something. All completely false.

These destructive theories have also harmed the campaign to eradicate killer diseases like Polio in Pakistan. Government officials and aid workers there have been attacked and murdered because of the widespread belief that the vaccine is really intended to sterilise Muslims. As a result, a terrible disease that has been successfully fought elsewhere is still very much a threat to the life and health of the people of Pakistan and other areas which have similar theories. I noticed that the government and the TV companies have tried to combat the conspiracy theories about the Covid vaccine by reassuring people that this is just a conspiracy theory, and showing Black doctors and patients administering and receiving the vaccine.

In the 19th century the kidnapping of Asian labourers during the infamous ‘Coolie Trade’, and the subsequent loss of contact with their families for years, even decades, resulted in another conspiracy theory. This claimed that people from India and what is now Pakistan and Bangladesh were being killed for the cerebrospinal fluid in their skulls, which was being used as lubricant for Europe’s machines. A similar theory also emerged in Latin America, where it was believed that a White or mestizo man in a black coat, armed with long knives, was murdering Amerindians. In this myth, it was the victims’ body fat that was being used to grease the wheels of Europe’s machines.

Commenting on the Tuskeegee Experiment, Webb wonders if he wouldn’t also believe in the conspiracy theory about the Covid vaccine if he was Black. But he goes on to consider the role of fake history in convincing many Black Brits they’ve been cheated by a racist society and deserve government assistance. A couple of examples of this fake history is the belief, expressed by a Black friend, that it was a Black man, who invented the lightbulb, and David Olasuga’s claim that there was a 15,000 strong Black community here in Britain in the 16th century. He speculates that the greater belief in conspiracy theories among Black Americans may well be due to a comparative lack of education. Blacks are more likely to leave school earlier and fewer Blacks go to university than other groups. But it could also be that the fake history, to which they’ve been exposed, has resulted in a widespread feeling of resentment and feeling cheated, thus fuelling demands for affirmative action programmes.

It’s possible, though I think the resentment and widespread suspicion of racial injustice comes from the real racism and exploitation many Blacks have experienced during the slave trade and after, when the British and colonial governments deliberately imposed highly discriminatory legislation on the newly freed Black workers in order to keep them tied to the plantations and maintain the Caribbean nations’ economies. There’s also the often vicious racism and blatant discrimination that Black and Asian immigrants have faced in Britain. The affirmative action programmes, dubbed over here ‘positive discrimination’, began following the 1981/2 race riots, which were partly caused by the particularly large unemployment rate and consequent despair in Black communities in Bristol, Liverpool and London. The Black community continues to be generally poorer, less educated and suffering greater unemployment and marginalisation than other racial groups. Hence the continued demands for affirmative action campaigns on their behalf. Structural racism or its legacy may well play a role in the Black community’s impoverishment, although this would conflict with Webb’s own views that some of the Black community’s problems are rooted in biology. He believes in the ‘Bell Curve’ nonsense that Blacks are less intelligent than Whites, who are in turn less intelligent than Asians. He is also impressed by neurological medical papers noting the greater genetic inclination towards schizophrenia among Blacks.

But researchers into conspiracy theories and the people, who believe them, have come to the conclusion that lack of information is a powerful factor in their emergence and spread. Without any proper information to the contrary, stupid and destructive conspiracy theories, like those about the Coronavirus and Polio vaccines, can arise and spread. I also suspect that the prevalence of such theories in parts of the Middle East, Iran and Pakistan also comes from these countries being dictatorships or absolute monarchies. In this anti-democratic culture, the state may be distant or exploitative and so there is an immediate suspicion and resistance to its interference. Hence the stupid ideas about the Covid and Polio vaccines. Folklorists also noted a similar theory among Black Americans about Coca-Cola in the 1990s. This was supposed to have had a chemical added to it to sterilise young Black men. A fellow volunteer at the Empire and Commonwealth Museum in Bristol also told me that there was a conspiracy theory believed by many Black South Africans that the government was also covertly trying to destroy them through similar methods. This last belief is perfectly understandable, given the immense poverty and oppression caused by apartheid. And it does seem that the South African secret service, BOSS, was working on a germ warfare weapon which would only target Blacks.

These poisonous conspiracy theories need to be tackled and disproven, just as the widespread fake history also needs to be refuted. But this has to be alongside policies to improve the conditions of Blacks and other ethnic minorities so that they can enjoy economic, social and educational equality. If that’s achieved, then perhaps so many won’t distrust their government so much that they mistakenly think it’s deliberately trying to poison them.

The Messerschmidt 109 Variant that Served the Israeli Airforce During the 1948 War of Independence

January 1, 2022

This should blow a few Zionist minds, ’cause it certainly boggled mine. I found this video on the Rex’s Hanger channel on YouTube. This is about the history of aviation and some of the remarkable planes in it. And it’s about how the Israeli air force started out during the 1948 war against the British and Arabs with a variant of the German Messerschmidt 109 used in the Second World War. This was the Avia S.199. It was created by the Czechoslovaks in the Avia works, which had been used by the Nazis to produce Messerschmidts during the country’s occupation.

Czechoslovakia had a tradition of technical excellence and the Nazis had been particularly keen to control the Skoda works. The country had the strategic advantage of being out of range of allied aircraft, and so some arms production was relocated there. Messerschmidts and Messerschmidt variants were continued to be made under license after the War. Unfortunately the aircraft’s engines were destroyed during a fire, leaving Avia with only the airframes. Faced with scrapping those or trying to salvage something from the wreckage, Avia responded by giving them the only engines they had available, which were for Heinkel bombers. These were too powerful for the planes. There was a marked tendency to veer left, and planes frequently flipped over, so that the ground crew tasked with retrieving them frequently carried long poles with which to flip them back onto their undercarriage. One pilot, demonstrating the aircraft, narrowly avoided colliding with the works’ buildings and surrounding fence when his plane veered towards them while taxiing. He managed to get it to jump the fence to the amazement of onlookers.

When Israel rebelled against the British mandate in 1948, they were desperate to acquire planes. The Americans had a policy of strict neutrality, while the British were supplying the Arabs with surplus Spitfires. The Israelis were forced to turn to the Czechoslovaks, who drove a very hard bargain. The video says that they were charged $144,000 for each aircraft, a piece of massive overpricing when a surplus Spitfire could be had for $6,000. The aircraft also needed to be straightened out and their technical problems solved and the Israeli pilots properly trained. But there was no time. The war broke out before this could be done, and so the planes and their half-trained crew had to go to Israel. Many Israelis were naturally uncomfortable with using planes based on Nazi aircraft, but they really didn’t have any choice. The technical problems continued resulting in poor performance against the Arabs. Two aircraft were lost, probably due to the cowl mounted guns not being properly synchronised with the propellers, so that instead of shooting through them, the pilots shot them off instead. As a result the pilots only used the wing cannons. However, the aircraft began to make headway against the Arabs and bought the Israelis time to get better aircraft, and help turn the tide against the Arabs.

There’s an irony here. Despite the lies of official Israeli history, the Israeli revolt resulted in the massacres of Arab communities up and down Palestine. This included worshippers sheltering in mosques, and women bringing out peace gifts of baskets of rice. Israeli policy towards the country’s indigenous Arabs since then has been one of segregation and ethnic cleansing. But you’re an evil anti-Semite if you dare to mention this, let alone protest against it. Even if, or especially if, you’re Jewish. This is despite one Israeli general rhetorically asking why it should only be the Jews, who suffered genocides.

Under the I.H.R.A. definition, it is anti-Semitic to call a Jew a Nazi. In the normal run of things, I’d say that was right. It is at least grossly tasteless and offensive. But the Israeli state’s policy towards the Arabs, as Tony Greenstein has pointed out, strongly resembles the Nazi persecution of the Jews up to 1942. And I believe it also resembles the Nazi occupation of Poland, Ukraine and Russia, and the Italian Fascist colonisation of Tripolitania.

There is therefor a certain symbolic irony that these comparisons are explicit in the Israeli air forces use of what was basically a Nazi warplane.

90s Space War SF Programme’s Christmas Message of Peace

January 1, 2022

One of the things I’ve been doing over the Christmas season is watching videos of the old Science Fiction series Space: Above and Beyond on Guy With Beer’s channel on YouTube. Created by X-Files’ writers Glenn Morgan and James Wong, the show followed the adventures of a flight of American space marines fighting a future war between humanity and race of aliens known as the Chigs. Humanity was moving out into the Galaxy and was unaware of intelligent alien life, until the Chigs launched an unprovoked attack on two human colonies. The series heroes were the Wild Cards, whose members included an Asian-American, Paul Wang, a Black female engineer, Damphousse, whose father was the chief engineer in a nuclear power plant; Nathan West, an aspiring colonist for one of the attacked planets. West had been due to go there as a member of a colonising party with his girlfriend, but had lost his place due to an affirmative action programme that gave it instead to a group of in-vitros. These were artificially gestated humans developed to serve as slave labour and an unfree police force. Although now free, they were subject to massive prejudice and widespread discrimination. One of the other members of the Wild Cards, Cooper Hawkes, was one. He had escaped from the In Vitro facility after being told he was due to be killed because his natural born officers regarded him as a failure. He had been arrested by the cops simply for depending himself after a group of natural born humans tried to lynch him simply for getting a job on their building site. The judge at his trial sentenced him to join the marines. Leading the squadron was another woman, ‘Queen’ Vansen. The squadron was based on the space naval vessel, the Saratoga, commanded by Commodore Ross, a Black man, while their immediate commander, Colonel McQueen, was another in vitro. This followed the general pattern of Science Fiction of the time. Like Star Trek, it looked forward to men and women of different races working together in harmony and equality, where they were simply accepted without comment. The issues of racism, prejudice and discrimination was dealt with through the In-Vitros. Behind the scenes was the Aerotech Corporation, the space conglomerate leading the colonisation missions, which may have known far more about the Chigs than they let on. As does a blind American politico aspiring to be chief of the UN. She’s leading a peace initiative to the Chigs and their allies, the AIs, androids created as a police force, who rebelled after someone typed a virus into the computer system governing them with the message, ‘Take a chance’. When she is about to award West with a medal for protecting her against an assassination attempt, he asks if her if the rumours are true and that they knew the Chigs were out there. She says nothing more, but drops the medal on the floor and turns away from him.

The Chigs, a nickname because in their space armour they resemble Chiggers, burrowing tropical flees, remain a mystery until the very end of the series. They remain constantly hidden in their armour. Any attempt to remove it results in them dissolving into a green goo. There are hints of what they look like – the odd clawed, three fingered hand and arm is seen, but their faces are not revealed until the last two programmes when their envoy finally comes aboard the Saratoga to discuss peace terms and finally removes his mask to reveal his true alien features. They’re methane breathers, who come to a moon of their world to incubate their eggs in a special brood chamber. Allied to them are the AIs, who found sanctuary with them after escaping Earth following their defeat by the humans. These run the prisoner of war and forced labour camps, torturing their prisoners and attacking and stealing fuel and vital minerals from mining worldlets in the Oort Cloud. Both the Chigs and the AIs are utterly ruthless, killing without mercy, including the wounded.

The series only lasted for one season of 23 episodes, which seemed to be the lot of the vast majority of SF shows that weren’t Star Trek, although Farscape managed to go for four, plus the three part miniseries, The Peacekeeper Wars, and Babylon Five lasted five seasons. At the time I wondered if it was inspired by the success of the film Starship Troopers directed by Paul Verhoeven. Based on the book by Robert Heinlein, this was about a future war between a militarised humanity and the Bugs, a race of intelligent alien insects. In this future society, only those who had done their military service had the right to vote and enter politics, a view which Heinlein himself held. Verhoeven subverted this by satirically portraying them as Nazis, based on his experience of growing up in the occupied Netherlands. Heinlein also really did believe that war was ennobling experience. But I also wonder if it was partly inspired by Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War, about a thousand-year war between humanity and another alien race, the Taureans, which sees one of the recruits, who hasn’t aged thanks to relativistic time dilation, returning to a vastly changed society in which he has no place. It was SF’s treatment of the alienation and maltreatment by the armed forces many squaddies experienced in Vietnam. Space: Above and Beyond, by contrast had no explicit message about war either pro or contra. Rather it was about about a people doing their best to defend their country and planet against a ruthless, genocidal enemy. During this they see their friends die. Paul Wang, initially very religious, loses his faith due to what he has seen and done. There is the constant danger of hospitalisation and permanent trauma from PTSD. And Wang is tortured into making a propaganda video by the AIs, a tactic used by America’s enemies.

The series’ Christmas show had a rather more positive storyline in keeping with the season. It was clearly inspired by the Christmas truce between Brits and Germans at the start of the First World War, as it showed in contemporary footage in a historical flashback. The Wild Cards are sent out on sortie in one of the space Armoured Personnel Carriers. They are discovered and attacked by a Chig squadron, which abandons them for dead. Their ship is disabled and left drifting in space. The radio is damaged so that they can hear the Saratoga looking for them, but not respond. And to cap it all there’s a comet headed right at them.

They are saved when messages in garbled English started coming in for them in Morse code. These messages tell them how to repair their spacecraft enough so that they can put themselves in orbit around the comet instead of getting smashed by it. They’ve been drifting further into Chig territory, but the comet will take them away from it and back to the human lines. It looks like the person sending these messages was not human, Which means he was a Chig.

The programme ended with a written message from the cast and crew of Space: Above and Beyond wishing everyone peace during the holiday season. I thought the series had a lot of potential and was disappointed when it ended. At the time it had the same figures the X-Files had when it started, and there were rumours that it was cancelled so the X-Files could get Morgan and Wong back, but this was denied. My favourite episode was ‘Who Monitors the Birds?’, telling the story of how Hawkes escaped from the in-vitro facility. He had been marked as a failure because he observed birds flying, and had asked the commanding officer training them to be killers, ‘Who monitors the birds?’ When the officer replies, ‘I( do’, he asks, ‘But who monitors you?’ Hawkes is sent on a highly secret mission to assassinate a senior chig general. This goes wrong and his partner is killed. he therefore has to roam the planet fighting to get to the extraction point. During his journey he runs into a Chig trooper, and is about to shoot him when he sees him watching a flying, bird or bat-like creature. Hawkes pauses long enough for the Chig squaddie to move on. He later runs into the same alien again running away from a Chig patrol. They’re about to shoot each other, but put down their guns momentarily to swap dog tags and go their separate ways. Hawkes nevertheless has to shoot him during their next encounter, which naturally upsets him. Punctuating his adventures is a strange woman, appearing as a corpse with grey skin and the marks of decay. She has designs on his body and tries to thrust her attentions on him. At other times she grabs his head to show him the Chig patrols coming for him. And after he pushes her away, she vanishes into thin air. She’s silent or inaudible throughout, except at her final appearance when she says ‘Till next time then’. She is never explained, and you’re left wondering if she’s an hallucination, another alien or what. At the end of the story, Hawkes rips up the contract he was offered, in which he would gain his freedom on killing the alien general. I think it works as a stand-alone story, and is in its way a classic of SF TV, like many episodes of Dr. Who and Star Trek.

Although it was made well over 20 years ago, the series’ seasonal message still remains relevant at this Christmas season. We need peace now as much as ever, with Iran and Israel seemingly gearing up to attack each others’ nuclear facilities, tensions rising with China and with Russia over Ukraine.

May we look forward to peace this year and an easing of tensions, as programmes like Space: Above and Beyond have wished at this season.

Wishing All My Readers a Merry Christmas

December 25, 2021

I hope everyone reading my blog has a Merry Christmas and a happy, peaceful and prosperous New Year, regardless of their religious beliefs or lack thereof. Unfortunately with a second lockdown looming, this is going to be a time when the toast ‘absent friends’ is particularly relevant and poignant.

I particularly wish my Jewish readers ‘Shalom’, Muslim and Arab readers ‘Salaam’, and the Russian people ‘Mir’. These are all words for ‘peace’. May our leaders step back from war, hatred and violence next year, and work instead to benefit our common humanity and combat climate change and the environmental destruction that is threatening our beautiful, fragile Earth.

Very best wishes to you all and everyone your pray and/or care for.

Fabio Pacucci on the Science of Space Elevators

December 11, 2021

This short video comes from the TedEd channel on YouTube, presumably connected to the TED talks in which leading intellectuals and academics explain their ideas. In this case, its about space elevators. These are long cables that would carry materials and passengers up to Earth orbit. The idea was first proposed by Russian space pioneer, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, in 1895, after the deaf school teacher saw the tallest building in the world at the time. If one could be built, it would massively reduce the costs of transporting people and material to orbit. These would be taken aloft in special capsules called ‘Climbers’, which would have to be shielded against radiation to protect human passengers. At the moment, it costs SpaceX $7,600 per kilo. It’s estimated that space elevators, their immense power needs supplied either by solar energy or nuclear power, could reduce this by 95 per cent. The problem is that that at the moment there is no material strong enough to support such a building. It has been suggested that carbon monofilaments and nanotubes could provide the solution, but only tiny amounts of these have been manufactured at the moment. There is also the problem that the gravitational stresses and hence the thickness of the cable would vary with height. One solution to this problem would be to extend the cable to counterweight, either a satellite or captured asteroid in geostationary orbit 36,000 km above the Earth. The problem of keeping the tether rigid would be solved by using centrifugal force from the Earth’s spin. The station back on Terra would be best situated at the equator, and possibly a ship at sea. This would allow it mobility to avoid storms and terrible weather. It is immensely difficult to build such an elevator on Earth, but they could be built on the Moon and Mars using current technology and materials. But they’d be far more of an advantage built here on Earth. Another problem is that if the cable was cut, the effects as it fell to Earth would be catastrophic. Despite the difficulties of construction, there are companies in China and Japan planning to build them by 2050.

The idea of the space elevator has been around for some time. Arthur C. Clarke thought for a while that he had invented the idea in his book about the building of such a tower in his adopted home of Sri Lanka in his 1970s novel, The Fountains of Paradise. This lasted until he looked the idea up in the scientific literature, and found it went all the back to the Russians. It would truly be a giant leap in space exploitation and colonisation if we could build a space elevator, but I think building one by 2050 is extremely optimistic. Way back in the 1990s or the early part of this century I remember an American firm announcing they were going to develop the idea. Unfortunately one of the problems at the time is that, according to the techniques being proposed, the station back on Earth would have to be anchored by an entire mountain range. So, not really possible and that was the end anyone heard of the idea.

It’s great that research into space elevators is continuing, but I think it will be a long time before they become reality, whether built by Americans, Chinese, Japanese or whoever.

Cartoonist Kayfabe Look at the Art and Career of ‘American Hero’ Steve Ditko

December 10, 2021

More comics stuff, and a rather longer video than usual at 1hr 9minutes, but the subject deserves it. Steve Ditko is one of the great, legendary figures of American comics. He’s probably best known for creating Spiderman and the occult hero Dr. Strange with Stan ‘the Man’ Lee for Marvel. But as this video shows, Ditko worked for many other American comics companies – DC, Charlton, Dale and EC among them as well as self-publishing his personal works. In the video, the Kayfabers Ed Piskor and Jim Rugg go through the volume Ditko Unleashed: An American Hero, which accompanied an exhibition of the great man’s work. The book’s bilingual in English and Spanish, which suggests that the exhibition may have been in Spain. The volume not only describes Ditko’s career, but gives plentiful illustrations of his art.

Ditko, like Kirby, came from a blue-collar, working class background. He went into art school to study cartooning, as he wanted to be a comics artist. His career was uneven, working for a number of different publishers and in a variety of different genres – monster, science fiction, horror as well as the superheroes for which is he is best known. He also worked with some of the great names in American comics. At times he inked the awesome Jack Kirby, at other times he was inked by Frank Miller, the artist and writer chiefly responsible for turning Daredevil into one of Marvel’s leading heroes. I think he may also have been inked by John Byrne, one of the major artists behind the New X-Men. He was admired by many of these new artists. The epic Jim Starlin, in one edition of his Warlock comic, ‘One Thousand Clowns’, dedicated it to Ditko for showing us a new reality. Starlin’s art was rather more naturalistic, but he also used the same floating paths and mystic portals in his work. He also went through several hard times in his career. At one point he moved away to New York to recover from tuberculosis, then, as in Britain, a major killer. There were also years when he struggled, as many others did, to get work. He also worked on a number of merchandising tie-ins, like Micronauts and Rom: the SpaceKnight, which were intended to promote toy figures. I read the comics, which were excellent without having any interest in buying the toys, which might indicate they were too successful. Like the adverts for Cinzano Bianco wine with Leonard Rossiter and Joan Collins. Everyone enjoyed them and they’re still fondly remembered by peeps of a certain vintage, but the people watching the ads couldn’t remember the brand of booze and so didn’t buy it. Ditko, like Kirby, broke off from Marvel for a time, before he returned, working on the above tie-ins along with the robotic superhero Machine Man.

Ditko, Politics and Morality

Unlike Stan Lee, who was a liberal, Ditko was very Conservative, a follower of Objectivism, the philosophy of supercapitalist ideologue Ayn Rand. He also had very black and white views on morality, which were expressed in his personal creations, Mr. A and The Question. He believed that heroes should be heroes, their morals pure and uncompromised. True to his ideals, he turned down work when the characters he was being asked to depict didn’t live up to them. A few years ago Jonathan Ross made a documentary for BBC 4 or one of the other channels searching for Ditko. One of those interviewed was Brit comics titan Alan Moore, who described meeting Ditko at Ditko’s home. He says that Ditko had a very narrow, inflexible view of morality, telling Moore, like one of his characters, that there were only two ways, a right way and a wrong way. Ditko’s politics are very definitely not mine, and I’m very much aware that in the real world, things are very often never a case of black and white but more shades or grey and motives can be less pure than we’d like. But after the comics industry went through a phase in which they tried to make their heroes darker – Batman: The Killing Joke is one of the foremost – and it was difficult telling the heroes from the villains, it’s refreshing to have someone who believes in old fashioned heroics.

The Kayfabers believe that if he were working today, Ditko would be cancelled or at least severely annoy and alienate 50 per cent of his audience. I think the first is certainly true. There has always been a left-wing message in American comics and an awareness of social issues. In the late 1960s into the 1970s both Marvel and DC tackled issues like racism and the rise of the feminist movement. As a response to the latter, Marvel created the Valkyrie, original a woman scientist who revolted against the patriarchy after having the credit for her discoveries stolen by her male colleagues. The Hulk comic also questioned American militarism, while Captain America, in disgust at Watergate and the contemporary corruption of American politics, renounced his patriotic monicker to become Nomad. Of course it wasn’t long before he rediscovered his faith in the rightness of the American way and put his uniform back on. However, Lee has also said in an interview that he was careful not to make the message too shrill so that it alienated readers that didn’t share his politics. Now many Conservative and moderate left comics creators and fans believe that in many strips, the political message has become too overt at the expense of traditional qualities like plotting, characterisation, dialogue and sheer fantasy. This was the motive behind Comicsgate a few years ago, when a number of comics creators, like Ethan van Sciver, broke away from the main comics companies of DC and Marvel to set up on their own.

Heroism and Its Absence in Modern Genre Film and Literature

One of the problems Az of Heels vs. Babyface and The Critical Drinker is that many of today’s pop culture heroes actually don’t act like heroes. For example, in one episode of Batwoman reviewed by Az, he comments critically on the way Batwoman treats the villain, a woman who has murdered several innocents. When Batwoman confronts her, she tells Batwoman that she’s killed so many people out of rage at her persecution as a lesbian. As a result, Batwoman, a lesbian herself, lets her go. This is simply immoral. The persecution of otherwise perfectly decent people because they’re attracted to the opposite sex is wrong, but it doesn’t justify the murder of innocents. Whatever political views real policemen and women have, they still have to act impartially and arrest those, who break the law and especially those who commit terrible crimes like mass murder.

The Critical Drinker put up a whole video about the failure of contemporary SF heroes to live up to the standards of true heroism with the latest Star Trek iterations as a case in point. He contrasted these were the high standards of professionalism demanded of the captain and crew in the classic Star Trek: The Next Generation. In that series, the characters knew the importance of duty and respecting the command hierarchy even if they disagreed with it. At the same time, Picard and the other senior officers demanded and got the best from their crew. Several of the episodes involved leading characters learning the difficulties of command. There is one episode where one of the characters is training for promotion. Part this training involves trying to find ways to prevent a warp core breach that will destroy the Enterprise. The problem is insolvable until nearly every option has been tried except the one the prospective leader has been consciously trying to avoid: they have to send Jordi into the warp core to fix it, a command which will result in his death. But it’s unavoidable, and both characters know their duty is to their ship. The would-be commander has to give the order, which Jordi calmly accepts. And a hard lesson is learned. Instead, the crew of the new Trek franchises are grossly unprofessional. They bicker over there personal relationships in front of a superior officer, react badly to the stressful conditions they should, as crew aboard a quasi-military spacecraft, be trained to deal with and try to undermine their superior officers. Case in point: one sequence where Kirk and Spock attempt to beat the living daylights out of each other. Yeah, I’m aware that it happened in an episode or two of the original Trek, like the classic ‘Amok Time’, but there were extenuating circumstances. I like Star Trek and have got a couple of the recent Trek films on DVD. But I think the Drinker has a point, even if it comes from a jaundiced, booze-soaked mind. I think we need a few more heroes who are genuinely heroic in the old fashioned sense, even if the social views they hold may be those of the left.

Stylistic Strong Points

But Ditko’s own career also had its contradictions. At one point he was working on BDSM/ fetish comics, and there were certainly questions raised about the spectacular and surreal effects in several of his strips. Many of his characters, like Dr Strange, enter strange realms in which roads float apparently in mid-air, and doors and portals appear leading to elsewhere, like the mobile holes in many a cartoon strip. Strange shoots beams of light and conjures up strange geometrical figures in his incantations. These effects resemble the entoptic imagery seen when people start to hallucinate after using mind-altering drugs. Which led to the obvious question: was Ditko also on ’em. Ditko was too straitlaced to use recreational chemicals, and answered ‘No’. It all came from within, from his own unaided imagination. Which says to me that Ditko had an awesome imagination on his own, and that the really great, creative people don’t need drugs.

I can’t say that I was ever a fan of Ditko, as his artistic style with Marvel seemed rather too simple. I really admired those artists who were rather less stylised and more detailed and naturalistic. Nevertheless, this video shows that Ditko was a master of his art. The Kayfabers point out that he’s great at cityscapes and portraying fluid action sequences in which the characters are constantly in motion. In some of the strips, Ditko also used colour washes to enhance his line art, and the result is stunning. There are also a couple of strips where Ditko’s inkers were beginning to use computers to add inks and colour to his pencils, which are also very striking.

The Kayfabers also think that some of the pictures come from the private collections of people who acquired them less than legally. There is a black market in comics art, and Ditko was a victim along with many others. They won’t name names, of course, because they don’t want to get writs from m’learned friends. But they also state they’re just glad that someone, somewhere has preserved these pictures that would otherwise have been lost. Ditko also suffered into inadvertently giving people his autograph, thus cheating himself of money. He didn’t give autographs. However, if someone wrote to him asking for his autograph, they’d get a polite reply for Ditko saying ‘No’. Which he’d sign. People cottoned on to this, and exploited it.

Comics and Other Genre Artists True Artistic Innovators Deserving Academic Respect

The Kayfabers also lament that Ditko and that other American comics legend, Jack Kirby, weren’t more articulate. If they had been able to use the kind of language critics and intellectuals use about art, they could easily have been up there with Warhol and the Factory. But they were working artists, who had to grind out their strips to make a buck, and so didn’t have time to mix with people in art galleries. I completely agree. It’s been my opinion for a very long time that the truly great, innovative art exploring new visions, directions and tools is that of the space, science fiction and fantasy artists, including book illustrators and comics artists. And there are others who feel the same. I can remember watching one video about comics, in which one of the speakers said he felt angry seeing the work of artists hung in art galleries, who had based their work on comic artists. He felt that the original comics artists should have got the money and their work hung instead. Way back in the ’90s I tried to get one of the art magazines to accept an article in which I argued this point, and showed the stylistic similarities between respect fine artists like H.R. Giger and those of the Soviet austere school and such comics greats as Kirby and the British master of aliens, robots and the grotesque, Kevin O’Neil. Unfortunately, it was turned down because it would have been too expensive to run. But the point remains. And it'[s shown in Ditko’s art. There’s a panel in which the exhibition shows a clear influence on one of Ditko’s weird geometrical designs in a portal in Dr. Strange with a painting from the Russian avant-garde artist Vassily Kandinsky. The two debate whether there is a genuine influence there, before concluding that their probably is. I can easily believe it. Many comics artists have their own heroes and influences in fine art as well as other great illustrators of the past. Way back at the comics festival UKCAC ’90 I remember going to a talk by Charles Vess, who talked about the great artists and illustrators he admired. I can well believe that Ditko absorbed and incorporated ideas from fine art as well as cartooning and illustration, and that his own work pushed these ideas forward into new directions.

The book goes up to 2016, nearly the end of Ditko’s life. He died only a few years ago. Wossy in his quest to find the great man managed to track him down to an advertising agency in the Big Apple. Ditko agreed to meet Woss and the other host, but it all had to be off-camera. The programme concluded with Wossy stating that when they met Ditko he was very sweet, gave them lots of copies of his work, but they couldn’t repeat what he said to them. And so walked off into the New York crowd.

Well, RIP Steve Ditko, one of the greats of American founders. The book and the video by the Kayfabers are a great overview of one of the creators of some of the most iconic modern American superheroes.

Have Scientists Recovered Fragments of Dinosaur DNA?

November 4, 2021

I found this fascinating little video on Russian science vlogger Anton Petrov’s YouTube channel. Petrov, who characteristically greets his viewers with the phrase, ‘Hello, wonderful person’ usually covers astronomy and space, but frequently branches out into other areas like biology. In this video, he discusses a scientific paper that claims that fragments of DNA have been recovered from a small dinosaur, Caudipteryx. This was a creature about the size and shape of a chicken, and it’s one of the dinosaur fossils found in the Jehol beds of China.

The possibility that dinosaur genetic material may have survived clearly brings us into Jurassic Park territory, and Petrov says that he was so amazed and excited by the movie that it was one of the things that caused him to become a scientist. He originally wanted to be a palaeontologist, and studied a bit of geology and went on digs. He makes a joke about how the viewers will now have to imagine the Jurassic Park music playing in the background. Why can’t they have it for real? Copyright, he sighs, it’s always copyright.

It’s a controversial claim, and one he says will have scientists arguing for some time to come. DNA begins to break down soon after death. It has a half-life of 521 years, meaning that after that period of time, half the DNA in a creature’s remains will have vanished. And all of it will be gone after about 6 million years. However, DNA from Greenland plants has been recovered from 800,000 years ago, showing that the country was warmer and greener than it is now. Fragments of DNA from Neanderthal people have been recovered from 100,000 years ago, showing that DNA can survive quite long periods. In the case of the Caudipteryx dinosaur, some of the DNA may have turned into silicates, which may have preserved the rest. The scientists were able to discover the DNA through using the same process of chemical staining that is used to find it elsewhere. It does seem likely that they have discovered individual cells in the animal’s fossil, which is itself a major advance.

It’s an interesting possibility, but I don’t think we have to be afraid of scientists recreating the dinosaurs to create a new theme park just yet. I think the DNA is far too fragmentary for that. I can remember there being similar controversies about the recovery of Neanderthal DNA, which is far more recent. That said, there are people, who’d like to bring back the mammoths by combining ancient mammoth DNA with modern elephants, and there are considerable ethical and environmental issues about this. Not to mention the scientific problems of finding enough surviving mammoth DNA and being able to combine this successfully with its modern, surviving relative.

Johnson Squirms and Blusters When Questioned About Not Wearing Mask at COP26

November 4, 2021

The world’s great, if not good, have gathered in Scotland to discuss the climate crisis and so far the conduct of our shambolic excuse for a prime minister has been of his usual standard: abysmal. As Mike and Zelo Street have pointed out, Bozo fell asleep at one of the talks, while sat between David Attenborough and the UN Secretary General. Our free and fearless broadcasters, both Beeb and ITN, did not show the footage. This suggests that they’re becoming the British equivalents of the official news services in dictatorships like Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia or Fascist Italy, where nothing that would possibly show the dictator in an unflattering light could ever be published. This even extended to the Gorbachev era. Although Gorbachev opened up a new era of democracy, openness, ‘glaznost’, and friendship with the West, the state media still acted to preserve the great man’s vanity. Gorby was born with a birthmark on his forehead, but this was carefully airbrushed out in the official pictures. Mussolini literally used to stand on a soapbox when he delivered his rants to the unfortunate Italian public, but this too was carefully airbrushed out of the photos. And then there’s that notoriously doctored photograph showing Stalin sat cosily next to Lenin on a bench. Now we have British television showing it’s quite prepared to do the same in order to spare Bozo’s blushes.

Bozo also didn’t wear the required facemask to protect everyone else from Covid as he was slumbering next to Attenborough. David Attenborough is 95, and therefore particularly vulnerable to the disease. Unlike Bozo, he was also wide-awake and alert, or at least he appeared to be. Nobody could blame him at his age if he had dozed off. But Attenborough generally appears far more intelligent than Boris generally, and much more popular. Also more accomplished in cross-species communication. After all, Attenborough found himself accepted into a family of gorillas in Africa during his blockbusting wildlife series, Life on Earth way back in 1979. It was one of the truly great pieces of natural history broadcasting. For all his background as a journalist, Boris has done nothing remotely similar, nor behaved with the grace, dignity and gravitas one would expect of someone who aspires to be a grand statesman. Boris is colossally graceless and inept, and when faced with difficult or not so difficult questions, his only recourse is to bluster incoherently.

And he did exactly this when questioned on CNN about why he didn’t wear the facemask and so risked Attenborough coming down with the potentially lethal disease. Alex Belfield posted this video yesterday, which shows the buffoon squirming in embarrassment. Of course, the mad right-wing internet radio host has his own reasons for posting the video. He vehemently opposes the lockdown, viewing it as doing more harm than good. It’s an attitude shared by much of the right. He early posted a video showing what he considered to be the hypocrisy of the world leaders in Scotland over the issue of facemasks. This showed them all posing for a photoshoot wearing them. As soon as the photographers had taken their pics, off the masks came. I don’t agree with Belfield about facemasks. I do think they are helping to protect the vulnerable. But I’ve got no problem sharing this video about Bozo’s hypocrisy and stupidity.

Another Step on the Road to Fascism as Raab Plans Attack on Judges’ Independence

October 19, 2021

Mike’s put up a chilling post about the Tories’ latest attack on our civil liberties. It starts with a tweet from Paul Delaney stating that Dominic Raab plans to set up a mechanism in the UK’s human rights act which would ‘correct’ rulings by the European Court of Human Rights. Mr Delaney concludes ‘We live in dangerous times as Fascism looms large’.

Yes, we do. As Mike points out, this means that if the government does not like the decision made by human rights judges here in Blighty, he will override them. Raab has tried to excuse this attack on the judiciary by stating that it will somehow strengthen democracy by stopping ‘judicial legislation’. But as Mike explains, the judges don’t actually make laws. They simply apply them, and stopping them from doing so breaks the law. He goes on to explain

You see, so-called “case law” – legal precedents set by judges – are only examples of the way the law should be interpreted when applied to particular situations, to be followed if such situations arise again in order to avoid contradiction and confusion. They are not situations in which judges take legislative power for themselves and Raab is lying by suggesting that.

Mike’s article also contains a tweet from Nafzir Ali, explaining that the Human Rights Act is British law, enforced by British judges in British courts. We already have a mechanism for overriding it – legislation. It is dishonest to blame foreigners for it, and challenges to government are part of the basis of democracy.

Jonathan Jones, the former head of the government’s legal service, stated that as parliament was already able to do this, it seems that Raab is attempting to enable ministers to do so without parliaments approval. Mike’s article also quotes Cambridge professor of public law, Mark Elliott stated that giving ministers the power to overturn judicial decisions simply because they didn’t agree with them cut across ‘principles that are the fundamental components of the rule of law.’ Mike’s article goes on with this quotation:

“If that is what is in contemplation, then that is profoundly problematic,” said Prof Elliott. “Indeed it turns constitutional principle on its head.

“Ministerial power to do this would itself be deeply troubling. It would reassign a basic judicial role – interpreting the law – to ministers.

“Ultimately, this all strikes me as part of a project to enhance executive supremacy by treating courts, whether foreign or domestic, as unwelcome interlopers.

“And yet all of this masquerades as an attempt to protect parliament. The reality of this executive power project, as we might call it, is that it will be the executive that is the principal beneficiary of such changes, and the loser will be basic standards of good governance.”

Mike calls this what it is: Fascism. It resembles the Nazis’ attack on the independence of the judiciary during the Third Reich.

The entry ‘Justice in Nazi Germany’ in James Taylor’s and Warren Shaw’s A Dictionary of the Third Reich (London: Grafton Books 1988) has the following passages. These show how the Nazis also attacked the judiciary in order to subordinate to their control. While much of this is far more extreme than what Raab is currently proposing, I’m including it here as a warning of where this ultimately leads.

Hitler’s revision of the laws of Germany did not affect civil laws, such as those on wills, torts, commercial contracts, but criminal law was massively restructured. By 1945, 43 crimes carried the death penalty. Judges who did not conform to the practice of Nazi justice were removed from office; only conformists survived. Their role was to maintain not ‘the state’ but the Nazi view of the state, preserving the existing volkisch (traditional ‘Aryan’ and Germanic) elements, punishing anything like anti-Nazi behaviour and getting rid of any obstruction to the Party’s will. Prosecution lawyers were given added powers and importance in court, while lawyers for the defence were weakened… To ensure the operation of Nazi justice, from 1942 judges and prosecution were allowed to confer without any defence lawyer being present.

From March 1933 Special Courts (Sondergerichte) were set up to try political offences without a jury. In 1934 the People’s Courts (Volksgerichthofe) were established to try cases of high treason, but with a jury drawn exclusively from Nazi party members. This was the court over which the vicious Roland Freisler presided in Berlin and which condemned those accused of complicity in the July 1944 bomb plot.’ (P. 198-9).

As Mike has also pointed out, this has been coming for a long time. The Tories have been stirring up hatred of the courts when they have dared to rule against them. Remember the Heil’s headline labelling the judges who upheld Gina Miller’s challenge to Brexit as ‘Enemies of the people’. That could have come direct from the Nazis, Italian Fascists, Stalin or any of the other totalitarian monsters. The independence of the judiciary has been a vital part of the British constitution with its origins going right back to the founding legal theorists of the twelfth century. It, and parliament, are part of what has made Britain a democracy rather than an absolute monarchy or dictatorship.

And now Raab plans to destroy this bulwark of British freedom. And he’s justifying it by claiming it’s all being done to protect our sovereignty from those evil Europeans. Just as Priti Patel is claiming to be protecting us from the threat of illegal immigration by planning to grant officials immunity from prosecution if they push the channel migrants back out, or don’t rescue them, and someone dies.

The great Tony Benn pointed out that before the Tories start taking away the rights of the settled population, they always begin with immigrants. It’s because they can count on a good reception from the right-wing press by dressing it up in nationalist garb.

But Raab’s attack on the European Court of Human Rights is just a pretext and the beginning. After he’s passed this nasty piece of legislation, he’ll be coming for more British freedoms.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2021/10/19/fascism-looms-as-raab-threatens-to-correct-court-judgments/