Archive for the ‘Secularism’ Category

My Email to South Bristol Labour Party Complaining about Conference Delegates Support for Starmer

October 22, 2021

Last week my local Labour party held its monthly meeting, online because of the continuing Covid lockdown. There was a monthly report from our local MP, Karin Smyth,along with reports from the two conference delegates. This was followed by a speech from the Unison liaison – I’m afraid I’ve mistakenly said that she’s Unite in the letter, for which I apologise to Unite – and that’s when I got sick and tired of it all and quietly left.

Smyth’s talk was highly informative and chilling in her description of the government’s continuing campaign to privatise the NHS and replace it with a system financed by private health insurance as in America. She supports Starmer, but is very committed to protecting the NHS for which I respect her.

I was less impressed with the two delegates, who supported Starmer and David Evans’ measures destroying party democracy and purging the left. It’s blatant factionalism and the reasons they gave were spurious. They claimed that as Starmer only had 200 MPs, he needed to shore up his support so that he has 40 to form a cabinet. But he has no shortage of supporters in the parliamentary party, and so the rationale makes no sense. They did, however, vote for the Green New Deal, but didn’t vote for the measure supporting the Palestinians. They claimed they didn’t understand it. I think it’s far more likely they shared Starmer’s aggressive Zionism and support for the current far-right Israeli government’s colonisation of Palestine through the construction of illegal settlements and the consequent suffocating restrictions on those of the indigenous Palestinians.

But I was most annoyed by the Unison liaison’s speech talking about how she’d been indifferent to the problem of Labour anti-Semitism, but had just attended a ‘powerful’ presentation about the terrible abuse our Jewish brothers and sisters in the Labour party were suffering from the Left. What was this abuse? Why, it was all tropes, as you’d expect. This is just Zionist propaganda. Tropes are invoked to smear reasonable criticisms of Israel by decent people through contrived parallels to real anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and myths. As I have said ad nauseam, the people targeted for these smears are mostly genuine anti-racists and opponents of anti-Semitism, many of whom – indeed the majority – are self-respecting Jews. These are people, who frequently lost relatives in the Holocaust and have suffered genuine abuse and violence from real anti-Semites and Nazis.

I have therefore sent off this email of complaint. It criticises the delegates’ Starmerite factionalism, and the leadership itself for calling for a return to Blairism. I attack Blair’s further privatisation of the Health Service, the introduction of the Work Capability Tests and the bullying tactics used by the DWP on claimants. I also attack Blair for his illegal invasion of Iraq and Libya, and the consequent destabilisation of the Middle East. A destabilisation that prepared the way for the rise of ISIS. I also make it plain that I oppose Blair’s corporatism and his grant of government positions to the captains of industry and his support for big business over the wishes of communities and their small businessmen and women. I make it very clear that I feel Blair and his policies are not to be supported or revived, and that Starmer has shown that he is completely treacherous and untrustworthy. He will, I feel, turn on his own supporters the moment it suits him, and his support for the NHS at this moment is merely tactical.

I also attack the Unison lady’s talk, pointing out that this has probably been given by JLM, a Zionist organisation, who aren’t interested in Jews but protecting Israel and its barbarous treatment of the Palestinians. I denounce the mass purges from the party of Starmer’s critics and critics of Israel, and briefly describe my own experience of being so accused. I end by asking to present my case at a future meeting of the party.

I may well have set myself up for expulsion as another evil lefty troublemaker, but I can’t let these evil policies and falsehoods go unchallenged. Here is my email below:

“Dear Sir/ Madam,

Thank you for sending me this month’s reports. However, I must express here my very strong disapproval and dismay of some of the views expressed by the speakers at this month’s meeting and particularly the actions of the conference delegates. This does not extend to the great work of our local MP, Karin Smyth. I very much appreciate all the very hard work she does for her constituents and defending the NHS against Tory privatisation.

Unfortunately, I cannot say the same of the Labour leadership. Keir Starmer’s return to Blairism is a source of severe concern. Tony Blair in office continued and extended further the Thatcherite policies of the previous Tory governments. Indeed, they have complained that he went further in his privatisation of the NHS than they would have dared if Labour had stuck to its traditional defence of the Health Service. For example, when the Community Care Groups were set up they were given powers not only to purchase services from private medical companies, but also to raise funds privately. The polyclinics were supposed to be privately run, and he continued handing over doctor’s surgeries to private health companies as well as the management of hospitals to private healthcare chains.. Please see books like Raymond Tallis’ and Jacky Davis’ NHS – SOS for further details.

I am also disgusted by the bullying attitude towards welfare claimants and the Work Capability Tests that Blair also introduced. This has seen genuinely poor and disabled people thrown off benefits for the most trivial reasons, leading to great hardship, deprivation and death. This should be ended now. The unemployed and disabled should not be supported by food banks but by a properly funded and functioning welfare state, and damn whatever Rupert Murdoch and Geordie Greig say in their wretched propaganda sheets. But I see precious little evidence of this from Starmer. Indeed, he seems to favour extreme right-wing members, who believe that conditions should be made even harsher for the unemployed!

We also suffered from massive corporate corruption by Blair giving places in government to the private companies that the same departments were supposed to be regulating. The result was a colossal increase in the expense of public works and the favouring of these companies over the wishes of local communities and their businesses. See Bremner, Bird and Fortunes’ You Are Here and George Monbiot’s Captive State, for example. Blair also showed his absolute contempt for international law and the British people with his illegal invasion of Iraq. Yes, Saddam Hussein was a monster, but the invasion of Iraq left the country in chaos and destroyed what had been one of the most secular societies in the middle east with something like a welfare state where women could pursue careers outside the home. This is all gone. 200,000 people have been killed and millions more displaced, contributing to the refugee crisis we see now. Moreover it gave a space for the emergence of the monstrous ISIS. It has also, in my opinion, further contributed to the alienation of Muslims in Britain and abroad, as has Blair’s similar participation in the overthrow of another tyrant, Colonel Gadaffy.

I am utterly disgusted that Kier Starmer should believe Tony Blair is a leader worth emulating and to whom the Labour party should return and refer for its policies. I do not trust him to continue defending the NHS once is power, and I am afraid MPs like Karin will be faced with the difficult choice of supporting the leader or supporting the NHS. The purges and long list of broken promises to members show that Starmer is, in my opinion, utterly without principle and treacherous and I am afraid that valued MPs like Karin will also be purged if they dare to show any independence against him.

I am deeply disgusted by the conference delegates’ support for the leadership’s motions affecting party democracy. These are entirely partisan, and go against both the democratic traditions of the party and the views of many of the ordinary members. Starmer seems determined to purge the party of the left and make Labour into another, perhaps not even paler, version of the Conservatives. At the same time, he seems to have done precious little to oppose them in parliament, to the point that he has been easily ridiculed and mocked by Johnson, to the applause of the media.

I was also disappointed by the delegates’ refusal to support the motion in favour of the Palestinians. The motion is not difficult to understand. The Israeli state is colonising Palestinian territory with the construction of illegal settlements in defiance of international law. At the same time there is a system of apartheid in Israel that persecutes Palestinians as second class systems. This has to stop if Labour really believes in peace and equality in the Middle East. I fear the delegates’ refusal to support the motion has less to do with a failure to understand the situation than Keir Starmer’s support for the hard-right government in Israel.

This brings me on to the comments by the Unite liaison officer and her praise for the ‘powerful’ training she had received showing the ‘terrible abuse’ Jewish members of the party had received from the left through tropes. She comes across as a thoroughly decent woman, though naive and uninformed, and I fear that she has been terribly mislead by people I can only describe as liars, propagandists and smear merchants. People who, in my certain experience, have smeared thoroughly decent, genuinely anti-racist people, including staunch opponents of anti-Semitism, as Jew-haters. Starmer handed over anti-Semitic training to the Jewish Labour Movement, an extremely partisan and biased organisation. According to the organisation’s Jewish critics, they used to be Paole Zion, ‘Workers of Zion’, a Zionist organisation which describes itself as the sister party to the Israeli Labor Party. This organisation was moribund until it suddenly received an injection of funds from persons or persons unknown a few years ago.Its Jewish critics have pointed out that its members do not have to be either Jewish or members of the Labour party, as is the case with their ideological opponents in Labour, Jewish Voice for Labour. Yet the Jewish Labour Movement is somehow privileged as speaking for Labour’s Jewish members and Jewish Voice for Labour demonised as anti-Semitic ‘commies’ by right-wing Labour MPs like Neil Coyle.  

In my experience organisations like the JLM are not interested in tackling anti-Semitism. They are there to counter criticism of Israel and Zionism, and the use of literary tropes is the only method they can use to do so. And their targets have been overwhelmingly Jews. Jewish Voice for Labour have complained that Jews are 300 times more likely to be accused of anti-Semitism than non-Jews. Those accused have included self-respecting men and women, who frequently lost relatives and friends in the Shoah, and who, along with their gentile friends and supporters, have suffered real anti-Semitic abuse, harassment and assault from genuine Nazis and anti-Semites. I cannot express sufficiently my absolute disgust at this deplorable persecution. Miri Hillel, a Jewish journalist, has said that many Jews are afraid of speaking out against this campaign of official harassment because of the effect it has on their families. Those accused of anti-Semitism are subjected to horrendous, foul abuse because of these lies and smears.  . 

As for terrible anti-Semitic tropes, this is being done to silence criticism of Israel by finding spurious literary and historical parallels with real anti-Semitism. Thus, any mention of Israeli embassy official Shai Masot’s covert negotiations with British civil servants to exclude Alan Duncan, a critic of Israel, from the cabinet, as a plot or conspiracy is loudly denounced as an example of the old myth of Jewish conspiracies like the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. But Masot was plotting and engaged in a conspiracy in the true sense of the word. Describing it as such does not connect it to real, poisonous anti-Semitic myths like the infamous Protocols or the more recent myth of the Great Replacement. Such literary criticism, and that’s all it is, is done not to protect Jews, but as a cynical campaign to deflect criticism from Israel by misrepresenting its critics as anti-Semites.

I myself haver personal experience of the witch hunt against critics of Israel. A few weeks ago I was told I was under investigation following complaints of anti-Semitism about an article on my blog. What the complainants objected to was almost wholly statements I had made criticising Zionism. They objected to my statement that all states and ideologies, including Zionism and Israel, should be open to examination and criticism, even though the I.H.R.A. definition of anti-Semitism says that criticism of Israel is perfectly acceptable provided the country is not held to a higher standard than others. They also didn’t like my statement that many gentiles initially did not support Zionism because it was too closely linked to real anti-Semitism, even though this is historically documented fact. They also considered that I was being anti-Semitic simply for stating another historical fact, which is that Zionism was, up to the Second World War, a minority position among European Jews. Most of them wished to remain in their homes, fighting for equality and to be accepted as fellow Brits, Frenchmen, Germans, Poles and so on rather than move to a country to which they felt no connection. Again, documented historical fact. I am further disgusted by the deplorable way Starmer is trying to silence reasonable opposition to Israeli’s barbarous treatment of the Palestinians through mass expulsions and the proscription of organisations defending those unfairly purged, such as Labour Against the Witch Hunt and the Labour In Exile Network.

I was so outraged at the Unite lady’s speech defending the JLM training that I left the meeting. I feel that the meeting has been very one-sided in the views presented. I would therefore very much like to talk about my experiences of what I can only describe as a factionalist with hunt the demonises and expels decent people and exposing them to real anti-Semitic abuse and violence at a forthcoming meeting.

Yours faithfully,”

Guardian Reports Death Threats Sent to US Academic Conference on Hindu Extremism

October 9, 2021

The Groan has posted an alarming article about a campaign of online intimidation being wages by a number of Hindu nationalist organisations against an academic conference held by many of the America’s most prestigious universities about Hindu nationalism. This includes death threats to the speakers and organisers and their families, and insults and abuse against their caste and religion. The article begins

‘An academic conference in the US addressing Hindu nationalism is being targeted by rightwing Hindu groups, which have sent death threats to participants and forced several scholars to withdraw.

The conference, titled Dismantling Global Hindutva, which is co-sponsored by more than 53 universities including Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, Columbia, Berkeley, the University of Chicago, the University of Pennsylvania, and Rutgers, has come under attack after several groups in India and the US accused the event of being “anti-Hindu”.

The aim of the conference, which will begin online on 10 September, is to bring together scholars to discuss Hindutva, otherwise known as Hindu nationalism, a rightwing movement that believes India should be an ethnic Hindu state, rather than a secular nation.

India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata party (BJP), led by the prime minister, Narendra Modi, has pushed forward a Hindu nationalist agenda, under which India’s 200 million Muslims have faced discrimination and attacks.

The conference organisers said that in recent weeks, “far-right fringe groups have mobilised to attack the speakers at the conference”, falsely characterising the discussion of the political ideology of Hindutva as an attack on Hinduism itself.

In a statement, the organisers described how “immense pressure has been placed upon universities by fringe groups to back out of the conference” and emphasised the “sinister implications” of this “massive disinformation campaign”.

Several of the participants have withdrawn from the conference over fears it would lead to them being banned from returning to their families in India or being arrested on their arrival into the country.

Dozens of speakers and organisers involved have had violent threats made against their family members. Meena Kandasamy, a speaker, had pictures of her children posted online with captions such as “ur son will face a painful death” as well as casteist slurs. Other academics have been forced to file police cases after receiving death threats.

More than 1m emails were sent to the presidents, provosts and officials at universities involved in the conference pressuring them to withdraw and dismiss staff who were participating, pointing to an organised campaign by groups in India and the US. At Drew University in New Jersey, more than 30,000 emails were received in just a few minutes, causing the university server to crash.

“We are deeply concerned that all of these lies, taken together, will be used to incarcerate those who speak at the conference, or worse, inflict bodily harm, up to murder, upon those associated with the conference,” read the statement by the conference’s organisers. “Due to the variety of the nature of these threats, several speakers have had to withdraw from participating in this conference over the past two to three days.”

“The level of hate has been staggering,” said Rohit Chopra, an associate professor at Santa Clara University, who is one of the conference organisers.

“Organisers and speakers have received death threats, threats of sexual violence, and threats of violence against their families. Women participants have been subjected to the vilest kind of misogynistic threats and abuse and members of religious minorities associated with the conference have been targeted with casteist and sectarian slurs in the ugliest sorts of language.”’

The article states that the conference has been attacked by right-wing Indian TV channels and discusses the particular nationalist groups behind the campaign.

‘The conference has also become a particular object of ire on rightwing TV news channels in India, who have accused it of being funded by the CIA, foreign governments and George Soros, and alleged on air that the conference is designed to support the Taliban.

The groups campaigning against the conference are the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, an Indian organisation that has faced allegations of being linked to the murders of intellectuals and journalists, and US-based rightwing groups the Hindu American Foundation and the Coalition of Hindus of North America.

In a statement this week, the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) USA – a sister group of the RSS, an extremist nationalist organisation in India – urged all universities involved to withdraw support. They expressed “deep concern about the upcoming online event titled Dismantling Global Hindutva. We strongly condemn such events that amplify Hinduphobia, encourage Hindu hate, and incite violence against the minority Hindu population in the west.”

Hindu Janajagruti Samiti also wrote to the Indian home minister asking for action to be taken against those taking part in the event.’

According to Private Eye, the RSSS was founded in the 1920s and deliberately modelled on Mussolini’s Fascists. They have been behind a series of attacks against Muslims, Sikhs and Christians. And some of the Hindu groups in the US are very right-wing. I can remember seeing a video on one American Hindu group’s rally supporting Donald Trump and the Republicans. It was blatantly Islamophobic, consisting of a play in which Hindu dancers were attacked by menacing jihadis before the US marines came in and shot them.

This Hindu nationalism, Hindutva, is considered by political scientists to be another form of Fascism. I’ve come across books on Fascism that include passages from Hindu extremist literature as examples of the mystical side of Fascism, ‘Fascismo mystica’, as Mussolini called it.

The organisers of the conference make it very clear that they aren’t opponents of Hinduism, but of Hindu nationalism. And the domestic victims of this form of Fascism have included liberal Hindu writers, journalists and activists. People who wish India to remain faithful to Gandhi’s vision of a pluralist, multicultural country. And the ultra-nationalist Hindu fanatics despise him because of this.

Indian liberals have also complained that freedom of speech and information is under threat thanks to Modi. Peaceful protesters, including the farmers protesting against the government’s privatisation of the state machinery guaranteeing a fair price for this goods, are arrested and beaten by the police. Journos covering these protests are also arrested in attempts to stop coverage and filming.

We’re used to hearing about European and British Fascism and Nazism as well as Islamism, but it should be remembered that hatred, racism, religious intolerance and violent ethnic nationalism can be found in all cultures, nations and races.

Which is why Fascism has to be fought wherever it is found.

https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/world/death-threats-sent-to-participants-of-us-conference-on-hindu-nationalism/ar-AAPjKWd?ocid=msedgdhp&pc=U531

Lobster on Islamophobia of Extreme Right-wing Pro-Israel Author David Rubin

September 10, 2021

Lobster have also published a very interesting review by John Newsinger, a historian at one of Bath’s universities, of the latest work by American right-winger David Rubin, ‘Confronting Radicals: What America Can Learn from Israel’. Rubin has published a number of works claiming that America and the West are under threat from Islam and the left. Rubin’s Jewish, but his books are aimed at the Christian right, arguing that America can only be saved if it returns to Biblical, Judaeo-Christian values and securely allies itself with Israel against Islam. Although Rubin’s Jewish, his books are addressed to right-wing Christians because American Jews overwhelmingly vote Democrat and despite the alliance between the right and Israel. Newsinger begins his review by discussing Rubin’s book, The Islamic Tsunami: Israel and America in the Age of Obama, which came with an endorsement from David Horovitz and notorious right-wing Christian preacher, Pat Robertson. It’s an all-out, shockingly vitriolic attack on Islam, which among other things, compares Mohammed to Hitler. But what I found really shocking is his recommendations for dealing with Islam in America. He wants an end to Islamic immigration, bans on certain forms of Islamic observance and limiting the size of Muslim families. Oh yes, and he wants an end to hate speech legislation. Newsinger writes

Rubin puts forward a plan for how to defeat this attempted Muslim takeover. Among his recommendations are an immediate ban on all Muslim immigration into the United States; encouraging Muslims already in the country to use birth control and to limit the size of their families; banning the call to prayer and Muslim dress; and the expulsion of ‘actively hostile Muslims’, a category that includes all those Muslims who do not embrace ‘Judeo-Christian’ values. He makes clear earlier in the book that he does not really believe that it is possible for any Muslim to become a genuine American. It is also vital to oppose hate speech legislation ‘which in practice will be used as a big brother technique to curtail the free speech of those who dare to speak out against Islamic ideology’. More generally, it is necessary to assert the values of ‘Judeo-Christian civilization’ throughout the education and legal systems, and a return to ultra-patriotism ‘based on the American biblical tradition and the religious
values promoted by the Founding Fathers’. The maintenance of a close partnership with Israel is also obviously essential. He even considers whether or not it would be a good thing if the United States actually took over Syria and Iran
. Would, he asks, ‘a little old-fashioned American
“colonialism” [ . . . .] be so terrible’? The answer is, of course, yes
.

This is terrifying stuff. Now I think he has point about hate speech legislation. It is being used to stop reasonable debate about race and immigration as well about the trans ideology and whether transwomen should be allowed into women’s spaces. And I think there are real problems within British and western Islam. There does seem to be a section of the Islamic community in Britain which has active hostility towards Christianity, Judaism and the secular values of the west, and which does regard western, non-Muslim women with contempt because of the sexual freedom they enjoy. But clearly, this does not mean all western Muslims. As for the restrictions he wishes to place on Islam in the west, this resembles the legislation passed by the Spanish crown during the Reconquista which finally culminated in the expulsion of the Moors by Ferdinand and Isabella. It also brought to mind some of the restrictions placed on Jews in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. I think they were also subject to restrictions on marrying and having families. And obviously, there’s the shadow of the race laws the Nazis introduced against the Jews before the Introduction of the Holocaust.

It’s also worth quoting Newsinger’s comments on the way American Jews reject views like Rubin’s, and the reasons behind Rubin’s venomous denunciation of Barack Obama. Rubin seems to see the former president as some kind of closet Muslim or ally backing the nefarious schemes of Islam and the Left to bring down America:

Two points need to be made here. First, The Islamic Tsunami was not n any way targeted at American Jews. Its audience was the US Christian Right, i.e. white evangelical Christians. The overwhelming majority of American Jews actually voted for Obama, both in 2008 and in 2012. He got 78% of the Jewish vote in 2008 and 69% in 2012. Moreover, Hillary Clinton got 71% of the Jewish vote when she ran against Donald Trump in Indeed throughout Trump’s Presidency, of all religious groups, it was American Jews who gave Trump his lowest approval rating, and in
2020 they voted overwhelmingly for Joe Biden. The great majority of American Jews are Democrat in sympathy and completely reject the Israeli alliance with the Republican and Christian Right. And as for Obama being hostile to Israel, it is worth noting that his administration provided more military aid to Israel than any previous administration, and in 2016 ‘concluded a new ten-year agreement providing a total of $38 billion in military aid to Israel, which the White House described as “the largest single pledge of military assistance in U.S. history”’. Rubin’s quite outrageous assault on Obama was not motivated by his supposed hostility to Israel, but by his refusal to endorse the expansionist agenda pursued by Benjamin Netanyahu and the Zionist Right.

This bears out what has been said elsewhere that American Jews are turning away from Zionism, or at least the ultra-Zionism of Benjamin Netanyahu and his fellows. The largest Zionist organisation in America in terms of membership is Ted Hagee’s Christians United for Israel. It also sheds more light on the way the anti-Semitism witch-hunters specifically target Jews and Jewish critics of Israel.

Views like Rubin’s, with his endorsement of Islamophobic politicians like Gert Wilders are frightening. At the moment they’re fringe, but there is the possibility that if the ultra-Zionists gain strength, they will take America and the west down the route of real, jackbooted Fascism in their determination to stamp out the radical left and Islam.

See: https://www.lobster-magazine.co.uk/free/lobster82/lob82-confronting-radicals.pdf

Afghanistan Withdrawal – the Conspiracy Theories Start

September 2, 2021

For some the catastrophic departure of the western armed forces from Afghanistan has been almost unimaginable. This is not surprising, as successive governments have been telling us for years that the Taliban had been successfully contained and victory was only a few months away. They find it particularly incomprehensible that the US and western armed forces were so unprepared for the Taliban’s reconquest of the country, that President Biden has left 73 military planes and $80 billion worth of kit behind in the scramble to get out. One of these is the mad right-wing YouTuber and internet radio host, Alex Belfield. In the video below, Belfield wonders if all that military equipment has been deliberately left behind to be taken and used by the Taliban, in order to provide the pretext for more wars. He sees this as part of an overall strategy by out governments to keep us afraid. One of these ruses has been, so he argues, the Coronavirus. He seems to follow here the line of some of the sceptics that Covid doesn’t present a real threat, but has just been used by the government in order to justify a totalitarian seizure of power through the lockdown.

Belfield’s been sceptical about the Coronavirus and the lockdown almost from the beginning. His argument is usually that the lockdown is doing more harm than good to the economy and to the health, mental and physical, of the British people. He’s right in that clearly people’s businesses and wellbeing is suffering, but is completely and utterly wrong about lifting the lockdown and letting the disease take its course and carry off whoever it may.

But I can’t say that his paranoia about the US leaving behind so much military equipment is unwarranted. The American and British public were miss-sold the wars in the Middle East. We were told we were freeing Afghanistan from a brutal theocratic tyranny and defending America and ourselves from future terrorist attacks. We weren’t. The troops were sent in to secure the country so that an oil pipeline could be built, one which Bush’s administration had been in talks with the Taliban to build. The Taliban had pulled out, and so the NeoCons were looking for an excuse to invade. This came along in the shape of 9/11.

Ditto Iraq. We were informed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and that he was in league with Osama bin Laden. He wasn’t. Hussein had led a largely secular regime, which was cordially hated by bin Laden and his Islamist fanatics. We were told that the invasion would liberate the Iraqi people from Hussein, who really was a tyrant. But the invasion wasn’t about granting a grateful Iraqi people democracy. It was about Aramco, the joint Saudi-American oil company seizing the country’s oil reserves and the western oil companies grabbing its oil industry. Other multinationals, such as Haliburton, which employed various members of Bush’s family and cabinet colleagues, seized its state industries. Meanwhile the country descended into sectarian violence and chaos, the secular state and the feminism it promoted vanished, and the private military contractors – read: mercenaries – hired as part of the peacekeeping forces ran amok with drug and prostitution rings. They also amused themselves by shooting ordinary Iraqis for sport.

It’s been said that America is a ‘warfare state’. That is, its military-industrial complex is so pervasive and powerful that its entire economy is geared to and depends on war. It was suggested years ago in one of the publications of the old Left Book Club, as I recall, that this is deliberate. American political ideology rejects Keynsianism, the economic doctrine that maintains that the state should interfere in the economy through welfare spending, public works and so on to stimulate it. American political culture, on the other hand, rejects this in favour of laissez-faire. But the American economy still needs government intervention, and the only way the American state can do this is through war and military spending. Hence the continual need to find new wars to fight. First it was the Cold War, then the War on Terror.

I tend to believe in ‘cock-up’ rather than conspiracy – that the world is the way it is because of the incompetence of the authorities, rather than that there is some overwhelming and all-pervasive conspiracy against us. This does not rule out the fact that real conspiracies by the intelligence agencies, big business and various covert political groups really do occur. My guess is that the armaments left behind in Afghanistan are there as a result of incompetence rather than a deliberate plot to produce more war and international instability for the benefit of the war profiteers.

But after the lies that have sustained two decades and more of war and occupation in the Middle East, it wouldn’t surprise me if this was true.

Starmer Runs Away from Green New Deal Campaigners – Anyone Surprised?

August 13, 2021

Mike today posted a tweet containing a video from a young woman and man from the campaign group, Green New Deal Rising, On Wednesday, the pair had attempted to confront Starmer about his policies towards the Green New Deal and the climate crisis. According to them, Starmer ran away protesting that he was too busy to talk about it. So they tackled him today about his refusal to take an action and failure to back the Green New Deal. The video shows Starmer running away from them faster than Boris Johnson searching for a fridge to hide in. He does speak to the pair eventually from behind a line of railings, talking about tackling climate through international negotiations at the forthcoming conference. They’re not impressed with him, neither is Mike and frankly, I’m not either. The group end their tweet with “Words mean nothing Keir. We need urgent action. We need you to #BackTheBill” Mike notes that Starmer was right behind the bill when it was one of Corbyn’s policies, but now has utterly reversed his position. Noting that the Labour leader is actually avoiding campaigners against climate change, Mike asks ‘How does he think this is acceptable?’

I’m not remotely surprised by this. Starmer has broken every one of Corbyn’s policies, and has shown just how right-wing he is by writing his despicable piece in the Financial Times about how he wishes to return the party to the glory days, as he seems to see it, of Blair. This is the Tony Blair who accelerated and expanded the Tories’ privatisation of the NHS, the destruction of the welfare state, the wholesale implementation of the Private Finance Initiative as a general governmental principle and the further impoverishment of Britain’s great working people. And this is apart from his international crimes – the illegal invasion of Iraq and the bombing of Libya to overthrow Colonel Gaddafy. The result has been the descent of those relatively secular societies with welfare states into sectarian violence and chaos. Half of Libya has been overrun by Islamist fanatics, who have opened slave markets selling Black migrants travelling through the country in the hope of reaching Europe. The western occupation of Iraq and the neo-Cons attempts to turn the country into a low-tax, free trade capitalist utopia has utterly wrecked their economy. But western multinationals have done extremely well for themselves, looting and taking over the country’s state-owned enterprises as the spoils of war. And Aramco, the American-Saudi oil company, has stolen Iraq’s oil industry and its reserves. Indeed, they’ve actually written into the country’s new constitution a clause stating that the Iraqis may not renationalise it.

This was the real aim of the invasion all along.

As was the invasion of Afghanistan. Like Iraq, it had nothing to do with liberating the country from the murderous rule of a brutal regime. Quite the contrary. George Dubya Bush’s administration had been in talks with the Taliban about opening up an oil pipeline there. It was only when the Taliban started stalling and looked ready to turn down the proposal, that Bush’s bunch of bandits then drew up plans to invade the country if an opportunity presented itself. Which it did with 9/11.

For further information about this, read any of William Blum’s critiques of American imperialism and Greg Palast’s Armed Madhouse.

Blair himself was a corporatist. He gave positions in government to senior figures from private industry, often on the very bodies that were supposed to regulate those industries, in return for their generous donations. This included the NHS, where he took in various advisors from private healthcare companies. See George Monbiot’s Captive State. I’ve seen absolutely no evidence that Blair was ever worried about saving the planet. Not when he was determined to reward the same businesses that are wrecking it. One of the horrors left over from the Iraq invasion is the pollution from the armaments coated with depleted uranium, which have been responsible for a massive increase in birth defects among the Iraqi population.

I don’t see Starmer as being remotely different. He’s already shown his contempt for the Labour party’s rank and file, whom he’s ignoring in order to try to recruit prospective MPs and officials from outside the party. Just as Blair was far more welcoming to Tory politicos who had crossed the floor to join him, like Chris Patten, than his own party and particularly its left-wing. My guess Starmer is probably hoping for more corporate donations, including from the fracking companies wishing to start operating over here.

Right now, he looks exactly the same as David Cameron. Cameron boasted that his would be the greenest government ever. He even put a little windmill on his roof to show how serious he was. But when he finally slithered his way into No. 10, that windmill came down and it was full steam ahead for fracking and hang anyone worried about its damage to the environment and their drinking water.

Starmer’s going to be no different. Which is why he’s turned his back on the Green New Deal and run away from its campaigners. He doesn’t want to hear them, just as he doesn’t want to hear from ordinary working people and Labour supporters and members.

Starmer Finally Reveals Himself as Blairite

August 8, 2021

And what a sordid, depressing spectacle it is too! But we can’t say it wasn’t expected. One of the most dispiriting pieces of last week’s news was that Starmer had appeared in the pages of the Financial Times, declaring he was only intent on power and would take Labour back to the glorious policies of Tony Blair.

Yes, Tony Blair! The unindicted war criminal who pressured the intelligence agencies into ‘sexing up’ the ‘dodgy dossier’ on Saddam Hussein and lied about the dictator having weapons of mass destruction that he could launch within forty minute. This was all done to provide the pretext for an illegal invasion with his best mate, George ‘Dubya’ Bush. It was all done ostensibly to liberate the Iraqi people from a murderous tyrant. The reality was that it was all done so western multinationals led by the American-Saudi oil industry could grab Iraq’s oil reserves and its state enterprises. The result was the destruction of one of the most secular societies in the Middle East and its welfare state. The country’s economy was decimated as the neo-Cons turned into the kind of low tax, free trade state they’d like America to be, unemployment hit 60 per cent and society descended into sectarian violence and chaos. Women could no longer pursue careers outside the home, the American army colluded with local thugs in running deaths squads while the mercenaries also employed by the occupying forces ran prostitution and drugs rings and shot Iraqis for sport. Then, a few years later, Blair joined Bush’s successor, Barack Obama, and Immanuel Macro in helping to overthrow Colonel Gaddafy in Libya, with the result that one half of that country is in the hands of militant Islamists, who have re-opened the slave markets to sell Blacks.

Blair’s domestic policies have also been horrendous. Blair pushed the Thatcherite programme of privatising the Health Service into a much higher gear, so much so that it astonished some Tories. They remarked that he got away with doing more than they would have dared with Labour in opposition. Blair set up to the Community Care Groups, the doctors’ organisations charged with running doctor’s surgeries so that they could raise money privately and buy services from private healthcare companies. The new health centres and polyclinics he set up were also to be privately run. More contracts were given to private healthcare companies and more hospitals closed or turned over to private healthcare companies to run instead. His health secretary, Alan Milburn, wanted the NHS to become nothing more than kitemark on services provided by private healthcare companies. The same Milburn is in this fortnight’s issue of Private Eye following an article Milburn wrote in one of the papers calling for more of the NHS to be given over to private industry. Milburn is not a disinterested observers, as the Eye’s article shows his connections with any number of private healthcare companies.

This is the same Blair who gave positions in government, including regulatory bodies, to the chairmen and senior staff of big businesses that donated to him and his party. He applied the Public-Private Finance Initiative to industry as a whole, resulting in costs and delays massively increasing in public works projects. He favoured the big supermarkets over small, family run stores, thus putting many of them out of business. At the same time, the farmers who supply the supermarkets found themselves locked into extremely exploitative contracts.

He also carried on the Tories’ policy of destroying state education. Thatcher’s project of revitalising schools by privatising them as ‘city academies’ had been a failure and was actually being wound up by her education secretary, Norman Fowler. But Blair fished it out of the dustbin, rebranded them as ‘academies’ and forged ahead with the idea, even against local opposition. The result has been a series of scandals over schools run only narrowly religious lines with draconian and humiliating disciplinary codes. At the same time, the academies have also been criticised for seeking to maintain their academic standards through highly selective admissions policies excluding the less academically able and those with behavioural difficulties. These academies have been boosted with the expenditure of tens of millions on them while ordinary state schools are starved of funds. When this is taken into account, they don’t perform any better than ordinary state schools. In fact they often performed far worse, as a string of academies have folded or their schools taken back into state administration.

At the same time, Blair, Mandelson and co also demonstrated their hatred and contempt for the unemployed, the poor and disabled. They fully believed in Thatcher’s ‘Victorian value’ of less eligibility, in which the process of claiming state benefit was to be made as humiliating as possible in order to deter people from claiming it. Based on spurious, fraudulent research cooked up by American private health insurer Unum, they decided that most people claiming disability benefit were malingerers. The result was the infamous work capability tests, which were set so that a specific percentage of claimants were found to be ineligible and thrown off benefit. The result has been even more despair, starvation and deaths for hundreds of genuinely disabled people, who have had their only source of income removed. It was also Blair, who introduced workfare as part of his risible ‘New Deal’. Under the guise of teaching long term benefit claimants the necessary skills to get them back into work, the unemployed were handed over to work for various businesses and private sector organisations, like the big supermarket chains and charities. If they refused, they lost their benefits. Contrary to what Blair and his Tory successors claimed, this does not help unemployed people get back into work. In fact it does the opposite. The unemployed actually do far better looking for jobs and voluntary work on their own.

Blair also hated the trade unions, the working class organisations that have been part of the Labour party since it was founded in 1905 or so. The Labour party was partly set up to protect trade unions and their members. But Blair did everything he could to smash their power further. When he became head of the party c. 1997 he threated to cut the party’s ties with them if they didn’t back his reforms.

Yes, Blair won three elections, but the cost was a massive drop in membership and support amongst traditional Labour voters and activists. From this perspective, Jeremy Corbyn was actually far more successful, turning Labour into the biggest and best funded of the UK parties. This was through the simple technique of putting forward a traditionally socialist, truly Labour set of policies: end the privatisation of the NHS, renationalise the utilities, restore the welfare state, remove the restrictions on the trade unions and give working people proper rights at work. Corbyn became massively unpopular only due to a concerted campaign of personal vilification, but his programme was genuinely popular. Unlike Blair’s, who only won the election because almost two decades of Tory rule had made them even more unpopular.

But the Labour left and the continued popularity of socialism continues to worry the Blairites. Hence Starmer’s determination to purge the party of them, and most specifically socialist Jews. On Wednesday there was a Virtual meeting of left-wing labour politicos and activists on Zoom discussing Starmer’s continuing persecution on the Labour left. One of the great speakers quoted the late Tony Benn. Speaking during the purges of Marxists from the party in the 1980s, Benn stated that it would start with the Marxists, go on to the socialists and end with a merger with the SDP. It was all about protecting capitalism. Occasionally the party would be given a chance to govern the country, but nothing really would change.

And that’s really what you can expect from Starmer’s return to Blairism. It’s just going to be more Tory policies, put forward by people who claim to represent ‘real Labour values’ but who in reality have nothing but absolute contempt for the working class and the ideals of the people who founded the party.

As Mike has pointed out, it was clear which direction Starmer really was going from the outset. Despite his declaration that he would continue Corbyn’s manifest promises, he broke every one of them as soon as he could. He carried on the purges under the pretext of clamping down on anti-Semitism – and who knew so many anti-Semites were self-respecting Jews! – and then had the whip withdrawn from his predecessor. He has also done his best to destroy the party’s internal democracy, suspending individuals and constituency parties at a whim and imposing his own candidates against the wishes of local activists.

Somehow Starmer has managed to convince himself that a return to Blairism will be a vote-winner. Well, it hasn’t so far. Coupled with the islamophobia and anti-Black racism of his supporters, it’s led to the party massively losing members and working class support. The result has been a string of election defeats.

Blair was a mass-murderer, whose wars have turned the Middle East into a charnel house and whose economic and welfare policies have further impoverished this country and its awesome, hard-working people. But they kept capitalism secure and further enriched the already obscenely wealthy.

And to Thatcherites like Starmer and his supporters, that’s all that really matters. Expect Labour to lose, and continue to lose, with this open move to the right.

Ex-Army YouTuber Supports Le Pen and French Generals in Calls for Tougher Action against Islamists

August 5, 2021

This is a piece I drafted a few months ago when a group of French generals and troopers wrote a letter to Macron demanding tougher action against Islamist, or else they’d be forced to take matters into their own hands. However, I don’t seem to have posted it. Although it’s now been overtaken by other matters, I’m posting it now because of what it says about one of the virulently right-wing YouTubers and the support he showed for the letter and its extreme right-wing authors. Here it is.

‘I put up a piece a few days ago commenting on a letter sent to a right-wing French newspaper by a group of former generals and squaddies demanding tougher action from President Macron against Muslim militants. They claimed that Islamists were taking over parts of France, detaching them from the nation, and that these areas were then ruled by doctrines which were incompatible with the constitution. Which looks very much like a reference to sharia law, which conflicts with the doctrine of secularism, laicisme, as enshrined in the French constitution. Since I put up the post, a number of right-wing youtubers have posted pieces on the story, including one Ex-Army Paz 49.

Paz is rather typical of a certain type of militant right-winger – super patriotic, adamantly pro-Brexit, anti-immigrant and with a massively simplified view of socialism and communism. According to him, socialism = communism, which has never worked anywhere, and British society is under threat from ‘cultural Marxism’. And three days ago, on the 29th April 2021, he put up a piece declaring his support for the retired French generals, ‘I Stand With the French Soldiers’. His piece is interesting for a couple of reasons. One is that he quotes the rather more of the letter the former soldiers sent to Valeurs Actuelles. The piece I drew on for my piece about the letter said that it had been signed by 20 retired generals. Which is true, but it had also been signed by 1,000 other soldiers. And the text of the letter made it very clear that it was a reaction to the same fears that have been felt by the extreme right over this side of the Channel, that Muslims are taking over the country and creating no-go zones where non-Muslims dare not enter and are not welcome. The letter reads

The hour is serious. France is in peril, mortal dangers are threatening our country with destruction.

Destruction through a certain ‘anti-racism’, whose hateful supporters are sowing the seeds of racial war. They despise our country, its traditions, its culture, and want to see it dissolve by tearing away its past and its history. Thus they attack our statues, these statues of our historical glories…

Destruction because of Islamism and the (immigrant) hordes of the no-go-zones, which are taking possession of multiple parcels of the French territory to submit it to a law contrary to our Constitution.

Destruction, because everywhere hatred takes precedence over fraternity : as when the government has used the (anti-riot) forces as mercenaries to crush French people who had put on their yellow vests to express their suffering. And this while the same government is ordering to do nothing against hooded individuals (like the Antifa), thus letting them spread chaos.

Dark times are coming. Violence is increasing day by day.

We, the nation’s servants, have always been ready to put our skins on the line – we cannot be passive spectators to such action.

So, Ladies and Gentlemen, enough procrastination, the hour is serious, the work is colossal: we are ready to support the men who will take into consideration the safeguarding of our nation.

On the other hand, if nothing is undertaken, the final explosion will take place … and it is the army that will have to intervene to protect the national territory and the French people.

There is no time to wait, otherwise tomorrow the civil war will come to crown the current chaos, and the deaths, for which you will carry the responsibility, will be counted by the thousands.

Looking at the text, it seems that it’s not only a reaction to recent Islamist terrorist atrocities and fears of the growth of Muslim no-go zones, but also to Black Lives Matter or the French equivalent, and the destruction of their statues. Marine Le Pen, the leader of the French far right National Rally, formerly the Front National, declared her support for the letter and its signatories. She said, ‘I invite you to join the coming battle, which is the battle of France.’ She didn’t, however, support the idea of military coup, saying, that France’s problems, which included lawless areas, crime, self-hatred and our leaders’ rejection of patriotism, could only be solved by politics.

Nevertheless, the letter, rather a warning of civil war rather than a call for military dictatorship, as I previously thought it was, is an ominous step. A few years ago a found a film on YouTube, clearly put up by some extreme right-wing group of individual, claiming that this decade would see a war break out between the European left and Muslim immigrants on the one side, and patriots on the other. This letter looks very much like a step in that direction.

And its support by ‘Ex-Army Paz’ shows that at least one British ex-soldier unfortunately supports it.

I am not going to link to Paz’s article. If you want to find it, simply tap in his name and the title of the post as given above. ‘

Neil Coyle and Adolf Hitler on the Threat of Jews in Parliament

July 21, 2021

Yesterday I put up a piece attacking Neil Coyle, a Blairite Labour MP, for demanding the expulsion of Jewish Voice for Labour from the Labour party along with other ‘Commies’. I pointed out that it was very much like the anti-Semitic rants of the Nazis, who rejected democracy as a Jewish plot to enslave ‘Aryan’ Germans. For example, in 1922 Hitler gave a speech which explicitly stated it.

And the Right has further completely forgotten that democracy is fundamentally not German: it is Jewish. It has completely forgotten that this Jewish democracy with its majority decisions has always been without exception only a means towards the destruction of any existing Aryan leadership. The Right does not understand that directly every small question of profit or loss is regularly put before so-called ‘public opinion’ he who knows how most skilfully to make this ‘public opinion’ serve his own interests becomes forthwith master in the State. And that can be achieved by the man who can lie most artfully, most infamously: and in the last resort he is not the German, he is, in Schopenhauer’s words, ‘the great master of the art of lying’ – the Jew….

(O)ne day it will turn to those who have most consistently foretold the coming ruin and have sought to disassociate themselves from it. And party is either the Left: and then God help us! for it will lead to us to complete destruction – to Bolshevism.

From: J.W. Hiden, The Weimar Republic (Harlow: Longman 1974).

Coyle’s demand for the expulsion of Jewish Voice for Labour comes from the same vicious factionalism that has resulted in the NEC voting to expel other left-wing groups within the Labour party – Resist, Socialist Appeal, Labour Against the Witch-Hunt and Labour in Exile. It’s the partisan hatred of Blairite neoliberals for real socialists, the kind of people that actually build the Labour party with the trade unions, founded the welfare state and NHS, and gave us the mixed economy. For all its faults, the mixed economy in which the utilities were owned and managed for the state actually provided these vital industries with the investment they needed and gave better service than under privatisation. This is why Blair Stalin, I mean, Kier Starmer, is running scared from these policies which were promoted by Corbyn and supported by a majority of the British public. It’s why the railways are failing spectacularly and the Tories are desperately fighting off having to renationalise them.

But Jewish Voice for Labour, Labour Against the Witch-Hunt and Labour in Exile are also being attacked and smeared because they state and argue unequivocally that the expulsions of Labour party members for supposed anti-Semitism are politically motivated. It’s not just just a hatred of socialists, but also a fanatical desire to protect Israel from reasonable criticism for its barbaric treatment of the Palestinians through conflating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. Many of Israel’s most trenchant critics are decent, self-respecting, God-fearing or secular Jews. People like Jackie Walker, Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, Tony Greenstein, Ilan Pappe and Martin Odoni. These people are subject to particular abuse, vilification and sometimes even physical assault because they show that the Jewish community is not and has never been uniformly behind Israel, no matter how many laws Netanyahu passed to say that Jewry and the state of Israel were one and the same.

Coyle was undoubtedly motivated by a fear of Marxism and pro-Israel fanaticism when he made his noxious attack on JVL, rather than anti-Semitism per se. But he repeats very closely the real anti-Semitic, anti-democratic and anti-parliamentary denunciations of the Nazis.

Despite the attacks on Corbyn for anti-Semitic tropes, the real Nazi rhetoric is coming from the ultra-Zionists and Blairites.

Daniel Hussein, Islam and Satanic Crime

June 11, 2021

One of the most shocking stories this week is the trial of Daniel Hussein, who is accused of having murdered two Black women as part of a demonic pact. When the rozzers searched Hussein’s home, they found a handwritten document in which Hussein pledged to sacrifice a woman a month to a demon in return for which the demon would make him win the national lottery, allow him to live in luxury and wealth and protect him from being discovered. Well, as the old proverb goes, ‘the Devil is a gentleman who doesn’t keep his word’. It’s an horrific crime of the type that’s committed by evil maniacs and which used to furnish plots for the X-Files.

Simon Webb of History Debunked put up a video yesterday commenting on it. He pointed out that while such pacts with Satan and the forces of hell were part of the medieval European, Christian worldview, as shown in the Faust legend about the 16th century German magician who sold his soul to the Devil, it’s been absent in the West for six hundred years. So what has caused it’s return? He points to Islam. He says that he has nothing against the religion, but it surprised at how little westerners actually know about it. In his experience, the belief in djinn – the genies of the Arabian Nights – witchcraft and sorcery is a major part of the worldview of the average Muslim, and mentions that the other Friday he was talking to three young Muslim men of 17-19 at a further education college about the djinn that was supposed to be tormenting one of them. It is this worldview, held by two million Muslims in this country, that has meant that parts of Britain have regressed to the Middle Ages without anyone noticing.

Okay, belief in the djinn is part of the Muslim worldview. They’re mentioned in the Qu’ran, which states that one of their number is Iblis, Shaitan or the Devil. The ex-Muslim atheist vlogger Harris Sultan put up a video a month or so ago laughing at a Pakistani mullah, who was claiming to have met the djinn and officiated at their marriages. Way back in the 1990s or early part of this century, a Yemeni newspaper apparently caused a sensation by printing photos of what it claimed were the djinn. Alas not. They were really carvings at an adventure park somewhere in Britain.

But the prevalence of a belief in djinn doesn’t explain a crime like this. There are, after all, large numbers of Christians worldwide who believe in a real, literal Devil, but that hasn’t meant that crimes like Hussein’s are any more common in Christianity. The black magician Aleister Crowley spent more time than almost anyone else casting spells and summoning demons while posing as ‘the Great Beast 666’ but he only joked about sacrificing children. I think he was simply enjoying himself far too much with a life of sex, drugs, necromancy and mountaineering to want to do anything really evil.

It’s also open to doubt how rationalistic the West really is. A survey of mystical experiences among the western public in the 2000s showed that actually they were quite common, but people were simply reluctant to talk about them in case people thought they were mad. The historian of modern witchcraft, Owen Davies, found that ordinary people retained a very strong belief in the existence of witchcraft long after the passage of the 1736 Witchcraft Act. This act effectively ended the witch-hunts in Britain by making it illegal to pretend to be a witch or have occult powers for monetary gain. It saw witchcraft as a form of fraud, rather than a real, demonic force. But the records of court cases in which mostly elderly women were attacked and cut on their foreheads shows that the mass of the British population still believed in it. In folklore, it was believed one way to get rid of a witch’s curse was to attack them and cut them ‘above the breath’. Davies’ book, published in the 90s, provides a wealth of supporting information that shows that belief in real, Satanic witchcraft continued into the 20th century. This is apart from the rise of Wicca and modern neo-paganism, which is a separate thing entirely, in my opinion, which owes more to 19th century occultism and ritual magic than traditional British folklore.

What the murders remind me of most is some of the horrific Satanic crimes carried out back in the 1990s. This was the age of the Satanism scare, when some fanatical evangelical Christians and militant feminists were running around accusing perfectly innocent people of membership of Satanic covens and the ritual abuse and murder of children. The Fontaine Report, an official government investigation into this, found that there was no evidence such covens existed.

In addition to this, there were unfortunately, real, unpleasant people who did torture and murder people for Satanic kicks. These were mostly mixed-up teenagers and young people, like the Haemogoblins, a teenage gang in America who thought they were vampires. There was also a whole vampire subculture based on the novels of Anne Rice, some of whose members may have taken the whole thing waaaay too seriously. But most of these really shocking crimes were committed by youngsters, who’d read too much bad horror literature. Quite often what they knew about Satanism came from one of the rubbish evangelical books supposedly revealingly it, or from Heavy Metal records. Which has caused problems for some rock stars, who were only interested in producing awesome music. As Ozzy Osbourne told the British investigative reporter Robin Cook, ‘I have enough trouble conjuring myself out of bed in the morning, let alone evil spirits.’

The ritual murder of which Hussein is accused looks far more like the crimes committed by these mixed-up, White nutters than something uniquely Muslim. And I think that if he did commit it, then the same factors will probably be found to have motivated him.

I don’t think we have to worry about large numbers of Muslims making pacts with the Devil and dragging us back to the Middle Ages just yet.

Irish Docker Is Buried Alive in a Fairy Fort to Prove There Are No Fairies

June 7, 2021

I found this remarkable piece of news film on the channel CR’s Video Vaults on YouTube. It’s from 1966, and is about a dock worker, Tim Hayes, from Wexford, who spent 101 hours underground in a fairy fort to disprove the existence of the wee folk. His stunt was to open the village fete at Ballymore, but the other villagers didn’t want to dig his grave. The video begins with an old man telling the interviewer that he would definitely not wish to dig into or disturb a fairy fort, and he would be greatly upset if anyone else were to do so, or disturb the field in which it’s situated.

Then it goes to the docker himself at his work place, who explains he’s determined to show that there are no such things as fairies. He describes as ‘a yarn’ a letter he received from a woman in Douglas, who said she saw a fairy 30 years ago and hasn’t had any luck since. He was buried underground in a coffin with a ventilation tube to allow him to breathe, as well as telephone to speak to people outside. He also took a couple of books down there to read, one of which was Dracula. He also tells the interviewer that he’s spent much of his time thinking about people who’ve died – well, you would, wouldn’t you? – and when asked about toilet facilities, states that there’s no problem at all in that department. The film also shows him being dug up, and the men rescuing him putting warm woollies on to protect him from the colder air above ground.

His mother is one of the onlookers. When asked how she feels about her son, she tells the interviewer that she’s ‘died a thousand deaths since he went into the ground’ but that ‘he’s marvelous’ and she’s very proud of him.

When asked if he’s worried about others trying to outdo him, he has the attitude that they can try and last 100 hours underground and that he’ll come back and do it again.

I think this comes from a time when these kinds of endurance feats were all the rage. There have been Indian yogis, who’ve had themselves buried alive. I think one lasted for two weeks underground – an impressive feat, if true. Back in the late 1970s-early 80s the Fortean Times reported crowds gathering in one of the African countries after the return of an African holy man from a sojourn buried alive. He did so to prove the truth of indigenous African religion, and the crowd believed he had actually returned from the dead. More recently, in calls to mind the antics of David Blaine in the 90s, which was sent up on Jonathan Creek. In that episode, Klaus, Creek’s slimey partner, has himself buried alive. But there’s a passage down to a glass plate in the coffin so that people can see him. Unfortunately, Klaus has to be dug up and face the beak because the vibrations from the underground trains cause him to judder and twitch himself. Two women visitors saw him do this, and have accused him of, er, pleasuring himself.

Belief in the fairies always has been strong amongst the Irish and the other Celtic peoples. A century ago the American anthropologist and Theosophist, Evans-Wentz, wrote his classic study, The Fairy Faith in the Celtic Countries. Although Ireland is now as rationalist and secular as any other western country, or almost so, the fairy faith still remains strong amongst some Irish people. Way back in the 1980s, when DeLorean wanted to open a car factory in Northern Ireland, they wanted to pull down a fairy tree growing on the site. The workers refused and threatened to go on strike if the tree or bush was disturbed. The company had to back down.

A decade later in the 1990s one of the British papers – I think it must have been the Daily Heil – reported that a Sinn Fein councillor in one of the Ulster villages had asked an archaeologist if he could investigate the local fairy fort, as some of his constituents had seen things.

I read years ago that the fairy forts are in reality early medieval Danish forts left over from the period of the Viking invasions. However, the word rath means an ancient enclosed farmstead. These commonly consist of a circular raised bank, which have held a fence or palisade, inside which were the houses and other buildings of the occupier. They can date from as far back as the Bronze Age, but most date from the early Christian period 300 AD to 1100. They’re not scheduled, as there are about 30 – 40,000 of them in the island of Ireland.

I do wonder how delicately the archaeologist phrased his reply. Archaeology as a science can’t prove the supernatural, though I don’t believe it’s within its competence to disprove it either. All it can do is uncover the remains of past ritual and religious belief, which may include magical objects and practises. See books such as The Materiality of Magic, edited by Ceri Houlbrook and Natalie Armitage (Oxford: Oxbow 2015). I wonder how the archaeologist told the good councillor that if he did excavate – which could be illegal if it was scheduled ancient monument – all he would be able to say was that it was a monument of a particular type, probably dating from such and such a period, and that he probably wouldn’t find any trace of the Little People.

It also struck me that if this had happened over this side of the Irish Sea, it would have been excellent material for the type of comedies Ealing was pumping out at the time. These were about small communities faced with some kind of bizarre threat or other event, frequently at odds with modernity. Or later in the 1980s with the great Scots film, Local Hero. Perhaps here’s a suitable subject for the Irish film industry. It would make a break from all the episodes over here of Mrs Brown’s Boys.